I struggled upright and took another drink of coffee.
“It belongs to me and my friend Will Hayden. He is in Marseilles now. We had planned to sail her over to Europe together, but he got called away. That’s why I’m alone out here. Was alone, that is, until you dropped in.”
Her eyes were dark and lovely, and the fear in them had increased. I said, “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Where are you taking me?”
“Where do you want to go? Bermuda?”
She wanted to slide further away from me, but there was nowhere to go and her grip on the blanket had become frantic. It made me angry. I said, “I didn’t risk my life saving you just so I could hurt you. I’ve told you you are safe. At least have the courtesy to pretend to believe me!”
I went forward to the drawers where Will’s things were stored. His clothing would be too big for her, but mine would swallow her completely. I brought her a pair of jeans, a wool shirt, a belt, and one of those plastic eggs like pantyhose come in.
I showed her the egg. “This is a one-size-fits-all string bikini. Some joker gave it to Will as a bon voyage present. It’s the closest thing I have to girls’ underwear. Pound on the hatch when you get dressed, but don’t take all day.”
The weather had gotten worse, but Wahini seemed to be happy with the sails as they were. I sat beside the lashed wheel and watched the compass card swing back and forth between east-north-east and east-south-east. The sky was darker than at sunrise. Behind us, there was no blue sky left. The sails were as hard and flat as boards, and the sheet trembled.
I was debating whether or not to dig out the storm trysail when Raven pushed back the hatch and stuck her head out. The wind grabbed her tangled hair and wrapped it around her face. She turned instinctively toward the wind to shake it out, and when she could see she said, “Oh, my God!”
For a moment I tried to see my world through her eyes. The southern sky was black, the sea was dead gray, and the wave tops were shattered, foaming infernos. Wahini was rail down, with water cascading alongside the cabin house and swirling around my sea boots. The mainsail was furled; the naked mainmast was cutting harsh circles against the low hanging clouds as Wahini plunged into troughs and corkscrewed her way up to the crests again. Only the tiny, reefed mizzen and a patch of canvas for a foresail were standing, slick with spray and hard as beaten copper.
She didn’t come on deck, but she didn’t retreat. She stood half in and half out of the cabin, drinking in the sight of the sea and the feel of the wind. I moved up beside her and shouted into her ear, “Don’t come any further out without a safety harness.”
Her eyes were glowing when she turned to me and she silently mouthed, “Magnificent!”
It was. So was she. more tomorrow