Virginia stepped toward him with a delighted exclamation. Dan raised his hand admonishingly.
“But,” he continued, “we must first get the vessel into port. Several things may prevent this. The chief preventive will be a storm. If God gives us good weather for three or four days that is all I ask. If He doesn’t, then we—”
“Go on,” said the girl.
“Then we must simply pray for small favors.”
Virginia nodded gravely.
“I understand,” she said. “I trust you, Captain.” She looked at him fixedly. “Can you imagine how much I trust you? I shall be strong and brave and do exactly as you tell me.” She started forward suddenly. “What have you under your coat sleeves? Are your arms bandaged?” she cried. “And your neck, too?”
“It’s nothing,” he said. “My hands and arms and the back of my neck were pretty well scorched. I dug some picric acid out of the Captain’s medicine chest and tied myself up a bit. I am all right now. The pain has all disappeared.”
The girl flushed.
“And you didn’t ask me to help you?”
“There was absolutely no need. Honestly, if I had needed to bother you I should not have hesitated. The flames did not touch me, you know, just their hot breath; the bandages do not amount to anything.”
“Well,” replied Virginia, shaking her head, “I don’t like it one bit. If I can do anything to repay you, however slightly, for all you have done for me, please give me the opportunity.”
“I shall remember that,” said Dan.
NIGHT ON THE DERELICT
When the sun that evening sank like a red ball behind the purple horizon, Dan laid aside various implements and went aft with the realization of a day well spent. He had cleared the deck. Using the mainboom and a goodly section of the tattered canvas he had improvised a capacious leg-of-mutton sail which flapped idly in the almost motionless air.
He found Virginia seated in a camp lounging-chair, with a paper-covered novel lying open face downward in her lap, gazing thoughtfully at the dusk which seemed rolling toward them over the sea like a fog.
“It was a beautiful sunset,” she said; “but now it has gone, the ocean seems to have such a cruel, cold look. And there are whispering voices on the water.”
She shivered slightly and looked at him half humorously.
“I know,” said Dan. “But the stars will be out to-night, and, later, the moon.”
“It will be dreary at best,” replied Virginia. “I think it would be nice if there weren’t going to be any night until we—until we—” she paused. “Oh, Captain, you think we—” She stopped short and frowned. “There,” she said reproachfully, “I told you I was going to be brave. I’m succeeding admirably!”
“You are succeeding admirably,” said Dan. “Yes, I think we are going to get out of this. Of course we are. In the meantime, pending dinner, or supper, rather, I am going into my cabin to see if I can’t confiscate some of the Captain’s clothes. I feel as if I had been in these for years. And—” he hesitated.