Wyllard made a sign of impatience. He felt that, after all, there was perhaps something to be said for Smirnoff's point of view. "There is just one plan open to us, and that's to drive her across to the eastward as fast as we can," he said. "We might, perhaps, pick up an Alaska C.C. factory before the provisions quite run out if this breeze and the gear hold up.
He was beginning to feel sorry for Agatha Ismay. The next evening Wyllard sat with Mrs. Radcliffe in a big low-ceilinged room at Garside Scar. He looked about him with quiet interest. He had now and then passed a day or two in huge Western hotels, but he had never seen anything quite like that room.
Wyllard went down to the steerage every now and then, and Agatha, who contrived to keep on her feet, not infrequently accompanied him. She was glad of his society, for Mrs. Hastings was seldom in evidence, and no efforts could get Miss Rawlinson out of her berth.
That's why I started south with some of them before the summer came. Now I'm here talking English talking with white men but it doesn't seem the same as it should have been without the others." He talked no more that night, but Wyllard translated part of his story for the benefit of Overweg. "The thing, it seems incredible," commented the scientist.
Then he fell into trouble again when they were hanging off the Eastern Isles under double reefs, watching for the Russians' seals. A boat's crew from another schooner had been cast ashore, and, as they were in peril of falling into the Russians' hands, Wyllard led a reckless boat expedition to bring them off again.
"Where are they?" corrected Wyllard. "If they've pushed on it's probably a different thing, though, if they'd food yonder, I don't quite see why they'd want to push on anywhere. It wouldn't be south, anyway. They'd run up against the Russians there." "We've decided that already." "I'm admitting it," said the skipper. "There's the other choice that they've gone up north.
Wyllard and his companions were, however, very hard-pressed indeed, and they preferred the hazards of a voyage in the crazy vessel to falling into the Russians' hands. It was also clear that they had no choice. It must be either one thing or the other. Some little distance up-stream a low rise cut against the dingy sky.
If you can only feel sure that the person has them it's possible that he could acquire one or two." Agatha drew back, disregarding this. "Then I've changed ever so much since that photograph was taken." Wyllard admitted it. "Yes," he said, "I recognised that; you were a little immature then. I know that now but all the graciousness and sweetness in you has grown and ripened.
Then he climbed on deck in turn, and Charly commenced a breathless explanation. "It's all we could get. There's nobody on our trail," he said. The last fact was most important, and Wyllard cut him short. "Get the jibs and staysail on to her."
It was after a long and arduous journey which had left its mark on all of them that Wyllard and his companions, one lowering evening, lay among the boulders beside a sheltered inlet waiting for the dusk to fall. They were cramped and aching, for they had scarcely moved during the last hour. Their garments were badly tattered, and their half-covered feet were bleeding.