“Cape Henry!” he cried. “Good God!”
The girl started.
“What?” she said, wonderingly.
“Cape Henry to port, Virginia. We’ll have a tug in an hour. The dawn is coming now. The sun will see us in Newport News.”
Virginia regarded him dreamily, and tightened her clasp about his neck.
“Newport News,” she said; “and what do I care! You have not kissed me in an age.”
The next afternoon Horace Howland sat in his office at No. 11 Broadway, staring moodily at his desk with its accumulation of papers. For long, it seemed, he had lived in an agony of suspense. Friends had come and gone and said their words, and passed on unrecognized and unheeded.
How many times had he wished that the Ward liner which had crossed the path of the boats and picked them up the morning after the fire had left him at least to perish. A full half-dozen tugs and steamships had been sent to the scene of the conflagration there to cruise about until some trace of the missing should be found. A Clyde vessel had sighted the burned steamship, a mere mass of charred and twisted frames and plates, sinking low in the sea. A Government cruiser and a revenue cutter had joined in the search.
But no word had come. An hour before, a messenger boy had arrived with a telegram. It was one of many received by Mr. Howland every day, and he tossed it, unopened, upon a pile of similar envelopes upon his desk.
Now, as he turned his eyes yearningly out of a window which gave upon the harbor, the name of a reporter was announced. Mr. Howland had talked and talked and talked to reporters until he was sick of them as of every one and everything else. He turned to his secretary.
“See that fellow, will you?” he said.
In less than a minute the secretary hurried into the office with an excited manner, the reporter at his heels, bearing a long sheet of tissue paper filled with typewriting.
“I have come to see you about the rescue of your daughter, Mr. Howland.”
The merchant wheeled quickly in his chair.
“What!” he cried. Then he sprang to his feet and seized the manuscript which the reporter held out to him. Quickly he read it. Then he read it again, more slowly. He read it a third time. His hand flew to his forehead, and he staggered back to his chair. The secretary stepped to his side, but Mr. Howland waved him away.
“When did this come?” he asked.
“A few moments ago,” replied the reporter.
“Well,” and Mr. Howland gazed at his informant with suffused eyes, “I thank you for your kindness. You must know how grateful I am. Of course there is nothing I can tell you—nothing you want to know.”
The reporter hesitated a moment.