At last she asked, 'Do you think my Mummy and Daddy were very frightened when the ship got wrecked?' The adult quality of the question amazed him; children were so much older than you thought they were. 'No,' he said. 'No, I don't think that they'd ever have been frightened. They weren't that sort of people. And you won't be frightened of things either, I don't think.'
He was impressed and somehow amazed by the things he did not know. These men were working as a team, doing things together quickly and accurately, things that he could only guess at. He knew that on their teamwork the safety of the aircraft depended. All his own skill and ingenuity could not assist them by one iota; the most that he could do to help them in their work was to keep right out of their way.
Technical fields, he reflected, of necessity were small; if you were an expert in one subject you could not be expert also in all the others, for no man's mind was big enough. The man who designed the radar presentation that the controller had used to talk them down that morning would not himself have been able to bring them into a safe landing, for he would not have known sufficient about aeroplanes.
Where everything was strange this seemed no stranger than the rest.
He was scared stiff. He sat there in his cricket shirt and braces with Panama hat upon his head under the brilliant sun of the Hawaiian Islands, the bread and the corned beef untasted on the desk beside him, concentrating on doing the one that he had been taught, keeping the tiddly little triangle upon the lubber line.
Towards the morning it occurred to him that anyway he should not keep his grim forebodings to himself. Two heads, or several heads, were better than one. If he shared his apprehensions with other people someone might pull some rabbit out of an unthought-of hat, might make some suggestion that would somehow make Keith's journey to Tahiti safer.
Jack shook his head. 'Ma died last year. She was always wanting to get back to the islands, but she liked the television too, so she was pulled both ways.'
'I tell you one thing,' he said presently. 'I'll leave the little generator set here, in the Mary Belle.' Jack stared at him. 'Leave that here, with me?' 'That's right. This ship hasn't got a motor. She ought to have one.'
'I think when people get older,' he said, 'they kind of get more mellow. They kind of like to give help in return for help they get.'
She had decided in her own mind that he was honest.
She paused. 'Don't refuse him when he wants to do this little thing,' she said gently. 'You've given him a lot of pleasure with your letters and the clock. Let him do this for you.'