“How far is she off now, Hawkins?”
“About a mile and a half, Major. There are no signs of her altering her course, as she ought to have done by this time if she had made us out. You see, her head light shows up fair and square between her side lights, which shows that she is coming as near as possible on to us. I think that I had better light a blue light.”
Frank nodded. The blue light at once blazed out.
“They ought to see that if they are not all asleep,” Frank said, as he looked up at the sails standing out white against the dark sky.
“Set to work with that foghorn,” the skipper said; and a man began to work the bellows of a great foghorn, which uttered a roar that might have been heard on a still night many miles away. Again and again the roar broke out.
“That has fetched them,” the captain said. “She is starboarding her helm to go astern of us. There, we have lost her red light, so it is all right. How I should have liked to have been behind the lookout or the officer of the watch with a marlinespike or a capstan bar. I will warrant that they would not have nodded when on watch again for a long time to come.
“Here she comes; she is closer than I thought she was. She will pass within fifty yards of the stern. It is lucky that we had that big horn, Major Mallett, for if we had not woke them up when we did she would have run us down to a certainty.”
As the steamer came along, scarcely more than a length astern of the yacht, a yell of execration broke from the sailors gathered forward.
“That was a near shave, George,” Frank Mallett said, when the steamer had passed. “It brought me out in a cold sweat at the thought that, if the Osprey were to be run down, there was an end to all chance of rescuing Bertha from that scoundrel’s clutches. I don’t know that I thought of myself at all. I am a good swimmer, and I suppose she would have stopped to pick us up. It was the Osprey I was thinking of. Even if every life on board had been saved, I don’t see how we could have followed up the search without her.”
Three hours later the breeze came. Frank was pacing up and down the deck, when there was a slight creak above. He stopped and looked up.
“Is that the breeze?” he asked the first mate, whose watch it was.
“I think so, sir, though it may be just the heaving from a steamer somewhere. I don’t feel any wind; not a breath from any quarter.”
There was another and more decided sound above.
“There is no mistake this time,” the mate said, as the boom which had been hanging amidships slowly swung over to port. “It’s somewhere about the quarter that we expected it from, and coming as gently as a lamb.”
Five minutes later there was sufficient breeze to cause her to heel over perceptibly as she moved quietly through the water.