It was a cold, dark night, and as Harry lay on his back on the deck of the fishing boat, his thoughts turned to the future

on

“I could do it,” Harry had said. “I could do it. I could stand that surf, and
I could stand the cold, dark night, for I have a plan, and if they ever catch
us, they’ll never catch you, for you’re not afraid of the sea.”

And so it had become a habit of Harry’s mind to do as he had planned, though
he had no longer the money to fund his plan. Now it was this thought of his
that gave him strength, keeping him alive in that cold night. He had begun
to see a way, an end, and that was to put a stop to this life at sea.

A week had passed since he had seen the last of the boys, but already he had
learned much of the ways of the sea and the men who sailed it. He had been
able to find one of their boats, and to sail with a sailor in it and learn
the man’s way of living. When the boat came back to where he lived, he had
taken him into his confidence, and had learned enough of life on a fishing
boat to be ready for the next voyage.

It was a quiet, peaceful life. The sea, the night, the loneliness, the lack
of sleep, and the long, long hours spent at work, or in the sea.

When he lay down each night, it was to sleep, not to dream; for he did not
dream, not at night, and he had no fear of the sea.

One evening, as he lay in the darkness of the cabin, he felt a hand on his
neck. The hand moved to touch his face, then to move higher, and as it
moved, it brushed against his eyes, and he could not open his eyes.

“Hush!” he tried to say, but the hand had moved back into the darkness and
was out of his reach. He could not move, could not even feel his lips.

“It’s me,” came a faint voice.

His eyes opened, and by their light he saw a shadowy figure, sitting by his
side.

“I’m here,” it said.

Slowly the light from the lamp grew stronger. He tried to turn his head,
but could only turn his neck. A hand was on his shoulder, the fingers of
which brushed his cheek, then moved to press his lips.

“I’m here,” repeated the voice.

There was a hand on his forehead, the fingers of which closed into the
softness of his hair.

“I’m here,” said the light, again.

A hand was pressing him down, his lips meeting the hand’s, the pressure
begotten, the hand moving higher, and Harry found himself lying down,
surrounded by light.

“I’m here,” whispered, the faint voice.

With each breath, he could feel the warmth of the lips against his.

“I’m here,” whispered.

“I’m here,” whispered.

“I’m here,” whispered.

The warm air filled his nostrils, and he breathed in the smell of the warm
nostrils.

“I’m here,” whispered.

Then the hand was gone, and another touch pressed upon him.

“I’m here,” whispered.

It was the hand of the light.

Then the hand that pressed his lips took his face farther away, and this
time it pressed his forehead.

“I’m here,” whispered.

It was the light that moved his lips, which opened.

“I’m here,” whispered.

It was the light that kissed his face, then took his lips, and he felt his
waking body.

“I’m here,” whispered.

They lay together in the darkness of the cabin, the light on top of the
head, the light on the body, the hand on the cheek, the hand on the head,
the hand on the cheek; and he turned into the arms that held him, and they
lay there in the darkness, the two arms holding him up, and with the two
hands, which held him up. The warm lips kissed him, and he opened his eyes.

It was a little before the light of the lantern ceased to burn, that he
looked up into the face that bent over him. The soft mouth on the cheek,
the warm breath against his temple, and with a small, soft hand, pressed
the hair aside and kissed him.

“I’m here,” whispered.

With each breath came a touch on his lips as the arms held him up.

“I’m here,” whispered.

A year passed before he knew of the sea.

The light burned low on the oiled lantern, and Harry, alone in the darkness,
looked across the table, and saw the shadow of the other man.

“I’m here,” whispered.

With each breath came a touch on his lips.

“I’m here,” whispered.

With each year came a touch with the hand pressed against the cheek; and
for the first time, the touch came across the table.

“I’m here,” whispered.

The light failed, and with an arm about the waist he rose, and with a hand
pressed the cheek, his hand went to the lips, and with a finger he pressed
the lips, and he stood, with the other hand on the shoulder, and with the
other pressed the lips, and with the hand on the shoulder, he stood, with
the hand on the shoulder, and with the hand on the shoulder.

“I’m here,” whispered.

And then at last sleep, the darkness and the long years of loneliness and
the long years spent at sea, took him.

In the light of a single lantern, Harry sat at the table, with the three
men sitting cross-legged around him, and one with a bottle in his hand, and
with the bottle in his hand, looked up at the three men.

“How do you do?” he asked, after a little while, slowly.

“How do you do?” they asked in return.

“How do you do?”

“How do you do?”

He stood up, and they rose also, and he went to the table and poured himself
out a drink.

“How do you do?” he asked again.

“How do you do?”

“How do you do?”

The three men looked at one another, and Harry went to the table again and
poured out a drink.

“How do you do?” he asked again.

“How do you do?”

“How do you do?”

“How do you do?” he asked.

“How do you do?” the men answered.

The room was quiet again, and Harry stood at the table, then went over to
the chair and sat down, and with the two men at his side, he poured himself
out a drink.

“How do you do?” he asked.

“How do you do?” the men said in reply.

“How do you do?”

“How do you do?”

“How do you do?” he said.

“How do you do?”

“How do you do?” he asked.

“How do you do?”

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