“It is only Dickory,” whispered the voice.
Then she put her head near him and was glad enough to have put her arms around his neck.
“I have heard a great deal more,” whispered Dickory; “these men are dreadful. They do not know what keeps your father, although they have suspicions which I could not make out; but if he does not come on board by ten o’clock they will sail without him, and without his cash-box.”
“And what of me?” she almost cried, “what of me?”
“They will take you with them,” said he; “that’s the only thing for them to do. But don’t be frightened, don’t tremble. You must leave this vessel.”
“But how?” she said.
“Oh! I will attend to that,” he answered, “if you will listen to me and do everything I tell you. We can’t go until it is dark, but while it is light enough for you to see things I will show you what you must do. Now, look down over the side of the vessel.”
She leaned over and looked down. He was apparently clinging to the side with his head barely reaching the top of the rail.
“Do you see this bit of ledge I am standing on?” he asked. “Could you get out and stand on this, holding to this piece of rope as I do?”
“Yes,” said she, “I could do that.”
“Then, still holding to the rope, could you lower yourself down from the ledge and hang to it with your hands?”
“And drop into your boat?” said she. “Yes, I could do that.”
“No,” said he, “not drop into my boat. It would kill you if you fell into the boat. You must drop into the water.”
She shuddered, and felt like screaming.
“But it will be easy to drop into the water; you can’t hurt yourself, and I shall be there. My boat will be anchored close by, and we can easily reach it.”
“Drop into the water!” said poor Kate.
“But I will be there, you know,” said Dickory.
She looked down upon the ledge, and then she looked below it to the water, which was idly flapping against the side of the vessel.
“Is it the only way?” said she.
“It is the only way,” he answered, speaking very earnestly. “You must not wait for your father; from what I hear, I fear he has been detained against his will. By nine o’clock it will be dark enough.”
“And what must I do?” she said, feeling cold as she spoke.
“Listen to every word,” he answered. “This is what you must do. You know the sound of the bell in the tower of the new church?”
“Oh, yes,” said she, “I hear it often.”
“And you will not confound it with the bell in the old church?”
“Oh, no!” said she; “it is very different, and generally they strike far apart.”
“Yes,” said he, “the old one strikes first; and when you hear it, it will be quite dark, and you can slip over the rail and stand on this ledge, as I am doing; then keep fast hold of this rope and you can slip farther down and sit on the ledge and wait until the clock of the new church begins to strike nine. Then you must get off the ledge and hang by your two hands. When you hear the last stroke of nine, you must let go and drop. I shall be there.”