“Hold here tight,” he said. She nodded, and Dan looked about for the easiest way to the deck. It was not difficult to find. The end of the jib-boom had dropped into the water, making an easy incline, and the foremast had also fallen over the bow and was directly alongside. Both were covered with sections of canvas and a maze of gear and rigging.
Dan clambered up, and then, lying flat across the bowsprit and the mast, he put his arms under the girl’s shoulders and literally pulled her to his side. Hand in hand they slowly worked their way up among the wreckage to the deck.
And there with the dawn beginning to glow rosily far on the eastern rim of the slaty waste the girl sighed and sank to her knees; and Dan, his head reeling with sleep and exhaustion, sank also. When the darkness had all gone and the sun had cleared the horizon, the first level rays flooded the sullen deck of a gray-green hulk, sodden, desolate, and fell upon the faces of a man and woman sleeping, her head resting on his shoulder, strands of her dark hair lying across his face.
ALONE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
As the sun rose higher still they slept. The genial rays flowed over them, drying their wet, clinging garments, filling their stiffened frames with languorous warmth.
Finally the girl sighed and smiled. Half waking now, she thought she was at home in her own bed. The sunlight always awakened her there. She wondered if it was time for her maid to enter. She hoped not; it was so comfortable, and she was, oh, so sleepy! She turned on her side. Then suddenly she started. Certainly she was lying on nothing that would remotely suggest a bed. Sleepily she tried to open her eyes, but the long lashes were glued together by the heavy salt water.
Arousing still further, she rubbed them open. And then as a heaving, littered deck, with patches of blue sea showing through the shattered rail bore upon her vision, a realizing sense of the situation and the tragic events leading to it came to her.
For a moment she lay still, shuddering. Her head still rested upon Dan’s arm. She knew it, but she was afraid to arise. Somehow that arm seemed the only thing which assured her she was in a living world. Even in the brilliant morning sunlight the vessel, soughing, creaking, groaning, as it moved slouchily over the waters impressed her as the shape of terror. From the deck little mist spirals arose like spirits of the men who had deserted the ship. And hovering all about was the gray, sordid reek of desolation, eerie, awe-inspiring.
And yet the Captain must not find her thus. Slowly she withdrew her head. She hated to awaken him. Yet she felt she must hear his voice, for the all-pervading loneliness was unbearable. She sat up and shook him gently by the shoulder. It was as though she had applied an electric shock. With a muffled exclamation he lifted himself by his elbow, and the next instant he was on his feet.