“And what?” she asked.
“And if the Captain has left a razor, I am going to shave.”
“Are you really?” laughed the girl. “And while you are about it, won’t you please telephone for my hairdresser?”
With the dark came a light breeze—and the stars, which Dan hailed with delight as giving him something to go by. The breeze came over the starboard beam, the sail filling nicely, and Dan, taking a stand by the wheel, directed the derelict toward land. He had lighted the red starboard lamp—the port lamp was missing—and hung a lantern at the head of the foremast. Virginia sat beside him.
For an hour Dan had been absorbed in the business of manoeuvring his sodden charge. Waterlogged as she was it was no easy matter to swing her out of the current and head her upon a course. But at last he had succeeded. Having but one sail it could not have been better placed than amidships. Placed in the mainmast it was easier to maintain steerage way and at the same time it served to push the derelict forward. Turning to the girl, he laughed triumphantly; and she, who had begun to be almost jealous of the derelict, inasmuch as it had taken so much of his attention, smiled politely, if faintly.
“And now,” said Dan, sitting beside her, with his hands on the lower spokes of the battered wheel, “we are homeward bound. The stars have told me a great deal. See them all. Over there are Regulus and his sickle, and in the northwest you see Queen Vega. There is Ursa Major up there, nearly overhead. There’s the Little Bear north of it; and still north is the good old North Star. We are going straight for land, Miss Howland.”
“You are awfully clever, Captain Merrithew.”
Dan looked at her quickly. She was smiling mockingly.
“Yes,” she continued, as though communing with herself, “I really believe he would rather talk about his old stars than bother coming down to the level of a girl who is dying to bring him to earth. I cannot imagine a more disagreeable man to be shipwrecked with.”
“Nor I a more agreeable—” He checked himself. “I am entirely at your service, Miss Howland,” he added; “which is to say, I have alighted.”
She did not answer at once. Instead she leaned forward with her hands supporting her chin, her elbows in her lap, gazing solemnly at the western stars.
“It is nearly eight o’clock, isn’t it?” she asked, without moving her head.
“Yes,” replied Dan, “about that. Why?”
“Just now in New York,” said Virginia in her low, full tones, “they have finished dining on Broadway. All the lights are, oh, so bright! and women in the most gorgeous spring gowns and men in evening dress are pouring out of the Astor, the Waldorf, the Knickerbocker,—every place,—and stepping into red and green taxi-cabs, or strolling leisurely to see the latest play. And on Fifth Avenue, in the club opposite our house, the same five