“Yes, he will have some beef-tea,” she said, quietly, looking up at me. “Until his hearing goes we shall be able to communicate with him. And after that - ”

She looked at me queerly. I saw her lips trembling and the tears swimming up in her eyes. She swayed toward me and I caught her in my arms.

“Oh, Humphrey,” she sobbed, “when will it all end? I am so tired, so tired.”

She buried her head on my shoulder, her frail form shaken with a storm of weeping. She was like a feather in my arms, so slender, so ethereal. “She has broken down at last,” I thought. “What can I do without her help?”

But I soothed and comforted her, till she pulled herself bravely together and recuperated mentally as quickly as she was wont to do physically.

“I ought to be ashamed of myself,” she said. Then added, with the whimsical smile I adored, “but I am only one, small woman.”

That phrase, the “one small woman,” startled me like an electric shock. It was my own phrase, my pet, secret phrase, my love phrase for her.

“Where did you get that phrase?” I demanded, with an abruptness that in turn startled her.

“What phrase?” she asked.

“One small woman.”

“Is it yours?” she asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “Mine. I made it.”

“Then you must have talked in your sleep,” she smiled.

The dancing, tremulous light was in her eyes. Mine, I knew, were speaking beyond the will of my speech. I leaned toward her. Without volition I leaned toward her, as a tree is swayed by the wind. Ah, we were very close together in that moment. But she shook her head, as one might shake off sleep or a dream, saying:

“I have known it all my life. It was my father’s name for my mother.”

“It is my phrase too,” I said stubbornly.

“For your mother?”

“No,” I answered, and she questioned no further, though I could have sworn her eyes retained for some time a mocking, teasing expression.

With the foremast in, the work now went on apace. Almost before I knew it, and without one serious hitch, I had the mainmast stepped. A derrick-boom, rigged to the foremast, had accomplished this; and several days more found all stays and shrouds in place, and everything set up taut. Topsails would be a nuisance and a danger for a crew of two, so I heaved the topmasts on deck and lashed them fast.

Several more days were consumed in finishing the sails and putting them on. There were only three - the jib, foresail, and mainsail; and, patched, shortened, and distorted, they were a ridiculously ill-fitting suit for so trim a craft as the Ghost.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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