The day came for our departure. There was no longer anything to detain us on Endeavour Island. The Ghosts stumpy masts were in place, her crazy sails bent. All my handiwork was strong, none of it beautiful; but I knew that it would work, and I felt myself a man of power as I looked at it.
I did it! I did it! With my own hands I did it! I wanted to cry aloud.
But Maud and I had a way of voicing each others thoughts, and she said, as we prepared to hoist the mainsail:
To think, Humphrey, you did it all with your own hands?
But there were two other hands, I answered. Two small hands, and dont say that was a phrase, also, of your father.
She laughed and shook her head, and held her hands up for inspection.
I can never get them clean again, she wailed, nor soften the weather-beat.
Then dirt and weather-beat shall be your guerdon of honour, I said, holding them in mine; and, spite of my resolutions, I would have kissed the two dear hands had she not swiftly withdrawn them.
Our comradeship was becoming tremulous, I had mastered my love long and well, but now it was mastering me. Wilfully had it disobeyed and won my eyes to speech, and now it was winning my tongue - ay, and my lips, for they were mad this moment to kiss the two small hands which had toiled so faithfully and hard. And I, too, was mad. There was a cry in my being like bugles calling me to her. And there was a wind blowing upon me which I could not resist, swaying the very body of me till I leaned toward her, all unconscious that I leaned. And she knew it. She could not but know it as she swiftly drew away her hands, and yet, could not forbear one quick searching look before she turned away her eyes.
By means of deck-tackles I had arranged to carry the halyards forward to the windlass; and now I hoisted the mainsail, peak and throat, at the same time. It was a clumsy way, but it did not take long, and soon the foresail as well was up and fluttering.
We can never get that anchor up in this narrow place, once it has left the bottom, I said. We should be on the rocks first.
What can you do? she asked.
Slip it, was my answer. And when I do, you must do your first work on the windlass. I shall have to run at once to the wheel, and at the same time you must be hoisting the jib.
This manoeuvre of getting under way I had studied and worked out a score of times; and, with the jib- halyard to the windlass, I knew Maud was capable of hoisting that most necessary sail. A brisk wind was blowing into the cove, and though the water was calm, rapid work was required to get us safely out.
When I knocked the shackle-bolt loose, the chain roared out through the hawse-hole and into the sea. I raced aft, putting the wheel up. The Ghost seemed to start into life as she heeled to the first fill of her sails. The jib was rising. As it filled, the Ghosts bow swung off and I had to put the wheel down a few spokes and steady her.
I had devised an automatic jib-sheet which passed the jib across of itself, so there was no need for Maud to attend to that; but she was still hoisting the jib when I put the wheel hard down. It was a moment of anxiety, for the Ghost was rushing directly upon the beach, a stones throw distant. But she swung obediently on her heel into the wind. There was a great fluttering and flapping of canvas and reef-points, most welcome to my ears, then she filled away on the other tack.
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