Magda laughed outright.
“I’ll admit to being hungry. Aren’t you? . . . It’s horribly unromantic of us, Michael,” she added regretfully.
“It is,” he assented. “All the same, I believe I could consume a tin of bully beef and feel humbly grateful for it at the present moment!”
Magda had a sudden inspiration.
“Michael! Let’s forage in the locker! There’s almost sure to be some biscuits or chocolate there. Marraine nearly always has things like that put on board. And there may be something left from the last supply.”
A brief search brought to light a half-tin of biscuits and some plain chocolate, and off these, with the addition of a bottle of soda-water, also discovered, they proceeded to make an impromptu meal. It was a somewhat thin substitute for the perfectly appointed little dinner of which they would have partaken in the ordinary course of events at the Hermitage, but when you have been a good many hours without food of any description, and spent the greater part of the time in “saving your own life at sea,” as Michael put it, even biscuits and chocolate have their uses.
When the improvised feast was over, Quarrington explored the recesses of the tiny hold and unearthed a lantern, which he proceeded to light and attach to the broken mast. It burned with a flickering, uncertain light, momentarily threatening to go out altogether.
“We’re not precisely well-equipped with lights,” he remarked grimly. “But at least that’s a precaution—as long as it lasts! It may—or may not—save us from being run down.”
Twilight deepened slowly into dark. The lights of Yarmouth sprang into being, a cluster of lambent orange points studding the dim coast of the Island. One by one the stars twinkled out in the dusky sky, and a waning moon, thin and frail like a worn sickle, flung a quivering ribbon of silver across the sea.
It was strangely still and quiet. Now and again the idle rudder creaked as the boat swung to the current. Once there came the long-drawn hoot of a distant siren. Beyond these fitful sounds only the gurgle of water lapping the sides of the boat broke the silence.
“We’re here till morning,” said Quarrington at last. “You may as well go to bed.”
“Well, there’s a cabin, isn’t there?”—smiling. “And a more or less uncomfortable bunk. Come down and see what you can make of it as an abiding-place for the night.”
“And—and you? Can’t we rig up anything for you?” Magda looked round her vaguely.
“I shan’t sleep. I’ll do sentry-go on deck”—laughing. “It wouldn’t do for us both to go comfortably asleep and get run down without even having a shot at making our presence known!”
“Then I’ll keep watch with you,” said Magda.
“You’ll do nothing of the sort. You’ll go down to the cabin and sleep.”
“Let me stay, Michael. I couldn’t bear to think of your watching all through the night while I slept comfortably below.”