Chapter XVIII

Anchored Hearts

     Our rescue had been due to the vigilance of Tom Yeager.  He had seen Bothwell slip down from the bridge and follow me to the forecastle.
     The first impulse of the Arizonian had been to step out and end the campaign by a fighting finish with the Slav.  But second thoughts brought wiser counsels.  Blythe, called hurriedly upstairs, had agreed to his proposal to try and determine the mutiny at a stroke.
     To both of them it had been clear that Bothwell surrendered the bridge because he was afraid to let me have a talk with the men alone.  That my life was in great danger neither doubted.
     Swiftly the men had been gathered from the sortie into the forecastle, Evelyn having volunteered to take the wheel until relieved.  The success of the plan had been beyond the expectations of any.
     Bothwell was the first of the prisoners to speak.
     "Let me offer my congratulations, Captain Blythe," he said with suave irony. The lean, brown face of the Englishman expressed quiet scorn.
     "Not necessary at all.  It is the only result I have considered from the first.  One doesn't expect to be driven from his ship by wharf rats. No matter how numerous they may be."

     Bothwell laughed, debonair as ever.
     "True enough, captain.  My scoundrels made an awful botch of it.  They played a good hand devilish badly or we should have won out."
     "The devil you would!  We beat you from first to last at odds against of two to one nearly.  I reckon, Mr. Pirate, you undertook too big a roundup," grinned the cattleman.
     "Fortunately there is always a tomorrow," retorted Bothwell with a bow.
     "Sometimes it's mortgaged to Jack Ketch."
     "I'll wager he doesn't foreclose, Mr. Yeager," answered Boris with a lip smile.
     Blythe cut short the repartee.
     "We'll put this man in a stateroom and lock him up, Sedgwick.  The rest will stay here guarded by Alderson.  If one of them makes a suspicious move, shoot him down like a mad dog.  Understand, my man?"
     "Yes, sir.  I'll see they make no trouble," Alderson answered resolutely.
     I made a suggestion to our captain.  After a moment's consideration he accepted it.
     "Very good, Mr. Sedgwick.  Have Gallagher, Heidlinger, and Higgins freed.  See that they clean the ship up till she is fresh as paint."
     The first thing we did was to gather the bodies of the poor fellows who had fallen in the struggles from the ship.  Blythe read the burial service before we sank the weighted corpses into the sea.
     Under my direction the men then swabbed the decks, washed the woodwork, and scoured the copper plates until they shone.
     it was not until luncheon that I found time for more than a word with Evelyn.  None of us, I suppose had suffered more than she and Miss Berry, but they made it their business to help us forget the nightmare through which we had lately passed.
     I remember that Miss Wallace looked round from a gay little sally at Jimmie with a smile in her eyes.  I was reaching for some fruit when her glance fell upon my hand.
     "What's the matter with your fingers?" she asked quickly.
     I withdrew my hand promptly.  The flesh was swollen and discolored from the attentions of Boris Bothwell.
     "I had a little accidentnothing of importance," was my inadequate answer.
     Her gaze circled the table, passed from Sam's face to that of Jimmie and from Jimmie to Higgins, who was waiting on us.  She must have read a confirmation of her intuition of a secret, for she dropped the subject at once.
     "Jack crushed his hand against a piece of iron," explained the captain.
     At which Miss Evelyn murmured.  "Oh!" and inquired how long it would probably be before we reached the Bay of Panama.
     "Using only our canvas we may reach there tomorrow night, and we may not.  We can't make very good time till we start the engines again," Blythe said.
     "And when are you going to start them?" Miss Berry asked.
     "Don't quite know.  I'm shy of engineers.  The only ones I have are on a vacation," Sam answered with a smile.
     They were not to enjoy one very long, however.  About sunset the Argos began to rock gently on a sea no longer glassy.

     "Cap says we're going to have trouble," Yeager informed me.  "When you get this sultry smell in the air and that queer look in the sky there is going to be something doing.  She's going to begin to buck for fair."
     I noticed that Blythe was taking in sail and that the wind was rising.
     "Knock the irons off the Flemings and send Gallagher down into the engine room to stroke for them.  We'll need more hands.  This thing is going to hit us like a wall of wind soon," he told me.
     When I returned from the forecastle the sea had risen.   As I was standing on the bridge a voice called my name.  I looked down to see Evelyn on the promenade deck in a long, close-fitting waterproof coat, her hair flying a little wildly in the breeze.  In the face upturned to mine was a very vivid interest.
     "We're in for it.  There's going to be a real squall," she cried delightedly.
     I stepped down and tucked her arm under mine, for the deck was already tipping in the heavy run of the seas.
     Most of our canvas was in, and the booming wind was humming through the rest with growing power.  The Argos put her nose into the whitecaps and ran like a racer, for the engines were shaking the yacht as she plowed forward.
     The young woman turned to me an eager, mobile face into which the wind had whipped a rich color.
     "What would you take to be somewhere else?  Back in your stuffy old law office, say?"
     The lurch of the staggering yacht threw her forward so that the lithe, supple body leaned against me and the breath of the dimpling lips was in my nostrils.
     Just an instant she lay there, with that smile of warm eyes and rose-leaf mouth to tantalize me, before she recovered and drew back.
     "Not for a thousand dollars a minute," I answered, a trumpet peal of indomitable happiness ringing in my heart.
     From the wheelhouse Blythe shouted a warning to be careful.   His voice scarcely reached us through the singing of the wind.  I nodded and took hold of the little hand that lay close to mine.
     "You must be a rich man to value the pleasure of the hour so highly," she answered lightly, with a look quick and questioning at me.
     The squall that had flung itself across the waters hit us in earnest now.  We went down into the yawning troughs before us with drunken plunges and climbed the glassy hills beyond to be ready for another dive.
     "The richest man alive if last night was not a dream."
     Our fingers interlaced, palms kissing each other.
     "Does it seem to you a dream?" she asked, deep in a valley of the seas.
     From the top of the next comber I answered.
     "It did until you joined me here, but now I know you belong to me forever, both in the land of dreams and waking."
     "Did the storm teach you that?"
     I looked out at the flying scud and back at the storm-bewitched girl with laughter rippling from her throat and the wild joy of a rare moment in her eyes.
     "Yes, the storm.  It brought you to my arms and your heart to mine."
     "I think it did, Jack; the wee corner of it that was not yours already."
     Her shy eyes fell and I drew her close to me.  In the dusk that had fallen like a cloak over the ship her lips met mine with the sweetest surrender in the world.
     So in the clamorous storm our hearts found safe anchorage.