“All right,” said Seton. “And thanks! I’ll go with you in the morning.”
Quiller lingered, though there was dismissal in the tone.
“Go in and get a rest, sir!” he said persuasively. “There ain’t no good in your wearing yourself out here. You can’t do nothing, sir, except pray for a calm sea. Given that, we’ll start with the light.”
“Very well,” said Seton, and turned away. He knew that the man spoke sense and he put pressure on himself to behave rationally. Nevertheless, he spent the greater part of the night in a fever of restlessness which no strength of will could subdue; and he was down on the quay long before the first faint gleam of light shot glimmering over the quiet water.
* * * * *
It was during those first wonderful moments of a new day that Mab woke up with a start shivering, and stretched out her arms with a cry of wonder.
Hours before, Merefleet had persuaded her to try to rest, and she had fallen asleep with her head against his knee, soothed by the calm that at length succeeded the storm. He had watched over her with grim endurance throughout the night, and not once had he seen a light or any other object to raise his hopes.
They were out of sight of land; alone on the dumb waste. He had not the smallest notion as to how far out to sea the boat had drifted. Only he fancied that they had been driven out of the immediate track of steamers, and in the great emptiness around him he saw no means of escape from the fate that seemed to dog them.
The boat had lived miraculously, it seemed to him, through the awful storm of the day. Tossed ruthlessly and aimlessly to and fro, drenched to the skin, hungry and forlorn, he and the woman who was to him the very desire of life, had gone through the peril of deep waters. Merefleet was beginning to wonder why they had thus escaped. It seemed to him but a needless prolonging of an agony already long drawn out.
Nevertheless there was nothing of despair in his face as he stooped over the girl who was crouching at his feet.
“Glad you have been able to sleep,” he said gently. “Don’t get up! There is no necessity if you are fairly comfortable.”
She smiled up at him with the ready confidence of a child and raised herself a little.
“Still watching, Big Bear?” she said.
“Yes,” said Merefleet.
His tone told her that he had seen nothing. She lay still for a few moments, then slowly turned her face towards the east. A deep pink glow was rising in the sky. There was a rosy dusk on the sea about them.
“My!” said Mab in a soft whisper. “Isn’t that lovely?”
Merefleet said nothing. He was watching her beautiful face with a great hunger in his heart.
Mab was also silent for a while. Presently she turned her face up to his.
“The Gate of Heaven,” she said in a whisper. “Isn’t it fine?”