Saint Overboard
disaster.
    “Not really?” she said.
    Her voice seemed to come from four or five
miles away, a mere hollow echo of itself. She knew that by some
miracle of will-power she had kept the smile steady on her face; but
even that wasn’t enough. The disaster was not dispelled—it was barely checked.
    A queer glimpse of desperate humour was the only thing she could cling to. She, who had met case-hardened men
on their own ground, who had faced death as often as dishonour, and with the same poised contempt and unfaltering
alertness—she, Loretta Page, who was ranked at Ingerbeck’s as the
coolest head on a roster of frost-bitten
intellects which operated in the per petual
bleakness of temperatures below zero—was being slowly and inevitably broken up. The rasps of a third
degree more subtle and deadly than
anything she had ever dreamed of were achieving
what mere violence and crude terrorism could never have achieved. They were
working away as implacably and untiringly as fate, turning her own self into
her bitterest enemy.
    Vogel’s jet-black eyes were fixed on her
now. They had moved on
to her face like the poles of a magnet from which she would have had to
struggle transparently to get away; and yet his aqui line features were still without positive expression.
    “You’ve nothing to worry about,” he
said, in a purr of caress ing reassurance.
    “But I’m thrilled.” She met his gaze
unflinchingly, with the same smile of friendly innocence. “What
is it that makes you so popular?”
    He shrugged.
    “They’re probably just some common
harbour thieves who think the boat looks as if she might have some valuables
on board. We shall find out.”
    “Let me come with you.”
    “My dear——”
    “I’m not a bit frightened. Not while
you’ve got that gun. And I’ll be awfully quiet. But I couldn’t bear to
miss anything so exciting. Please—would you mind?”
    He hesitated for a moment only, and then opened the door on the starboard side.
    “All right. Will you keep behind
me?”
    He switched out the lights, and she followed
him out on to the deck.
Under the dim glow of the masthead light she caught sight of his broad back moving forward, and stepped
after him. In the first shock of
transition from the bright illumination of the wheelhouse there was no difference in quality between the black ness of the air and the sea, so that the night
seemed to lie all around them, above
and below, as if the Falkenberg was sus pended in a vast bowl of darkness sprinkled with tiny twinkling lights.
Vogel was almost invisible in his black evening clothes as he tiptoed round in the half-solid shadow to the
other side of the deck; and when he
halted she could hardly have been a pace behind him—his shape swam up before her eyes so suddenly that she
touched him as she stopped.
    “He’s still there.”
    His voice touched her eardrums as a mere bass
vibration in the stillness. From where she stood she could look down the whole
length of the deck, a grey pathway stencilled with the yellow windows of
the saloon where Yule and Arnheim were still presumably discussing
the port. The deckhouse profiled itself in black and slanted
black banks of shadow across the open space. Away aft there was
another shadow merging into the rest, a thing that
distinguished itself only by its shorter and sharper curves from the long
cubist lines of the others—something that her eyes found and
froze on.
    Vogel lifted his automatic.
    Her left hand gripped the weather rail. She
was trembling, although her mind was working with a clarity that seemed
out side herself. That psychological third degree had accomplished its
purpose.
    Vogel had got her. Even if she had bluffed
him all the evening, even if she had betrayed nothing in that
paralysed moment of realisation
at the chart table, even if she had kept the mask un moved on her face when he came back—he had got her now. The story of a man prowling on the ship might be a
lie. She might be imagining the

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