“Not a sound, mind you. If any one comes aboard, you must shift for yourselves. Creep into the hold and hide. Of course, if we are searched—” He muttered something, then groped his way out on deck, and closed the hatch behind him.
It was inky dark in the cabin; the occupants dared not move about for fear of waking the sailors overhead. Time passed slowly. After a while Jacket yawned and sighed and grumbled under his breath. Finally he stretched himself out upon a narrow board bench and fell asleep. O’Reilly drew Rosa to him and she snuggled comfortably into his embrace, resting her head upon his shoulder. It was their first real moment alone.
Now that they had actually embarked upon this enterprise and the girl had given herself entirely into his hands, now that an imminent peril encompassed them both, Johnnie felt that Rosa belonged to him more absolutely, more completely, than at any time heretofore, so he held her close. He caressed her gently, he voiced those tender, intimate, foolish thoughts which he had never dared express. This velvet darkness, this utter isolation, seemed to unite them; to feel the girl’s heart beating against his own and her breath warm upon his cheek was intensely thrilling. An exquisite ardor inflamed him, and Rosa responded to it. They resisted briefly, prolonging the delights of this moment, then her arms crept about him, her lips met his in absolute surrender.
They began to whisper, cautiously, so as not to disturb the sleeping boy; they became unconscious of the flight of time. Rosa lay relaxed against her lover’s shoulder and in halting murmurs, interrupted many times by caresses, she told O’Reilly of her need for him, and her utter happiness. It was the fullest hour of their lives.
Sometimes he thought she must be dozing, but he was never sure, for she answered to his lightest touch and awoke to the faintest pressure of his lips. The night wore swiftly on, and it was not long enough for either of them.
With daylight, Morin routed out his men. There was a sleepy muttering, the patter of bare feet upon the deck above, then the creak of blocks as the sails were raised. From forward came the sound of some one splitting wood to kindle the charcoal fire for breakfast. Other sailing-craft seemed to be getting under way, and a fishing-boat, loaded with the night’s catch, came to anchor alongside.
The three brothers Villar felt the schooner heel slightly and knew that she was stealing toward the Spanish gunboat which was supposed to be on guard against precisely such undertakings as this. A few moments, then there came a hail which brought their hearts into their throats. Morin himself answered the call.
“Good morning, countryman! Have you caught any of those accursed filibusters since I saw you last? So? Cayo Romano, eh? Well, they come in the night and they go in the night. If I were the pilot of your ship I’d guarantee to put you where they’d fall into your arms, for I know these waters. What have I aboard?” Morin laughed loudly. “You know very well—cannon and shot for the rebels, of course. Will you look? ... No? ... Then a cup of coffee perhaps?”