“Hands aft to shake out the reefs,” the mate called.
The order was repeated down the fo’castle hatch by one of the two men on the lookout. The rest of the watch, who had been allowed to go below, tumbled up.
The sailors hastened to untie the reef points. All were aware of the nature of the chase in which they were embarked. The whole crew were full of ardour. They felt it as a personal grievance that the young lady to whom their employer was engaged had not only been carried off, but carried off from the deck of the yacht. Moreover, she was very popular with them, as she had often asked them questions and chatted with them when at the helm or when she walked forward. She knew them all by name, and had several times come off from shore with a packet of tobacco for each man in her basket. She had been quick in learning to steer, and her desire to know everything about the yacht had pleased the sailors, who were all delighted when they learned of her engagement to the owner. The new hands, on learning the particulars, had naturally entered to some extent into the feeling of the others, and the alacrity with which every order was obeyed showed the interest felt in the chase.
As soon as the reef points were untied came the order:
“Slack away the reef tackle, and see that the caring will run easy.
“Now up with the throat halliard. That will do.
“Now the gaff a little more. Belay there.
“Now get that topsail up from the sail locker. We won’t shift jibs just yet, until we see whether the breeze is going to freshen.”
It was not long before the increasing heel of the craft, and rustle of water along her side, told that she was travelling faster.
“The wind is freeing her a bit, sir. It has shifted a good half point in the last ten minutes.”
“That is a comfort,” Frank said. “You may as well heave the log. I should like to know how she is going before I turn in.”
“Seven knots, sir,” the mate reported. “That is pretty fair, considering how close-hauled she is.”
“Well, I will turn in now. Let me know if there is any change.”
At five o’clock Frank was on deck again. Purvis was in charge of the watch now.
“Good morning, sir,” he said, touching his hat as Frank came up. “We are going to have a fine day, and the wind is likely to keep steady.”
“All right, Purvis. What speed were we going when you heaved the log?”
“Seven and a half, sir. Perry tells me that she has been doing just that ever since the wind sprang up. I reckon that we are pretty well abreast of Finisterre now. We shall have the sun up in a few minutes, and I expect that it will come up behind the land.
“Lambert, go up to the cross-tree and keep a sharp lookout, as the sun comes up, and see if you can make land.”
“I can make out the land, sir,” the sailor called down as soon as he reached the cross-tree. “It stands well up. I should say that you can see it from deck.”