Early the next morning came Dickory from the kitchen, where he had made a fire (before that he had been catching some fish), and on a rude bench by the house door he saw Kate Bonnet. When he perceived her he laughed; but as she also laughed, it was plain she was not offended.
This pretty girl was dressed in a large blue gown, belonging to the stout Dame Charter, and which was quite as much of a gown as she had any possible need for. Her head was bare, for she had lost her hat, and she wore neither shoes nor stockings, those articles of apparel having been so shrunken by immersion as to make it impossible for her to get them on.
“Thy mother is a good woman,” said Kate, “and I am so glad you did not take me to the town. I don’t wonder you gaze at me; I must look like a fright.”
Dickory made no answer, but by the way in which he regarded her, she knew that he saw nothing frightful in her face.
“You have been very good to me,” said she, rising and making a step towards him, but suddenly stopping on account of her bare feet, “and I wish I could tell you how thankful I am to you. You are truly a brave boy, Dickory; the bravest I have ever known.”
His brows contracted. “Why do you call me a boy?” he interrupted. “I am nineteen years old, and you are not much more than that.”
She laughed, and her white teeth made him ready to fall down and worship her.
“You have done as much,” said she, “as any man could do, and more.”
Then she held out her hand, and he came and took it.
“Truly you are a man,” she said, and looking steadfastly into his face, she added, “how very, very much I owe you!”
He didn’t say anything at all, this Dickory; just stood and looked at her. As many a one has been before, he was more grateful for the danger out of which he had plucked the fair young woman than she was thankful for the deliverance.
Just then Dame Charter called them to breakfast. When they were at the table, they talked of what was to be done next; and as, above everything else, Miss Kate desired to know where her father was and why he hadn’t come aboard the Sarah Williams, Dickory offered to go to the town for news.
“I hate to ask too much, after all you have done,” said the girl, “but after you have seen my father and told him everything, for he must be in sore trouble, would you mind rowing to our house and bringing me some clothes? Madam Bonnet will understand what I need; and she too will want to know what has become of me.”
“Of course I will do that,” cried Dickory, grateful for the chance to do her service.
“And if you happen to see Mr. Newcombe in the town, will you tell him where I am?”
Now Dickory gave no signs of gratitude for a chance to do her service, but his mother spoke quickly enough.
“Of course he will tell Master Newcombe,” said she, “and anybody else you wish should know.”