THE HARBOR MASTER
THEODORE GOODRIDGE ROBERTS
"Rayton: A Backwoods Mystery," "A Captain of Raleigh's," "A Cavalier of Virginia," "Captain Love," "Brothers of Peril" and "Hemming, the Adventurer."
MADE IN U.S.A.
M.A. DONOHUE & COMPANY CHICAGO NEW YORK
BY STREET & SMITH
By L.C. Page & Company
All rights reserved
First Impression, January, 1913 Second Impression, February, 1913
The English edition of this book is entitled "The Toll of the Tides," but the American publishers have preferred to retain the author's original title, "The Harbor Master."
I. BLACK DENNIS NOLAN 1
II. NOLAN SHOWS HIS APTITUDE FOR COMMAND 19
III. FOXEY JACK QUINN SLIPS AWAY 36
IV. DEAD MAN'S DIAMONDS 54
V. FATHER MCQUEEN VISITS HIS FLOCK 64
VI. THE GIRL FROM THE CROSS-TREES 86
VII. THE GOLD OF THE "ROYAL WILLIAM" 101
VIII. THE SKIPPER STRUGGLES AGAINST SUPERSTITION 115
IX. SOME EARLY VISITS 135
X. MARY KAVANAGH 147
XI. THE SKIPPER CARRIES A LETTER 164
XII. DICK LYNCH GOES ON THE WAR-PATH 181
XIII. BILL BRENNEN PREACHES LOYALTY 194
XIV. DICK LYNCH MEETS MR. DARLING 210
XV. MR. DARLING SETS OUT ON A JOURNEY 225
XVI. MR. DARLING ARRIVES IN CHANCE ALONG 235
XVII. MARY KAVANAGH USES HER WITS 250
XVIII. MOTHER NOLAN DOES SOME SPYING 265
XIX. MARY AT WORK AGAIN 279
XX. FATHER MCQUEEN'S RETURN 292
THE HARBOR MASTER
BLACK DENNIS NOLAN
At the back of a deep cleft in the formidable cliffs, somewhere between Cape Race to the southward and St. John's to the northward, hides the little hamlet of Chance Along. As to its geographical position, this is sufficient. In the green sea in front of the cleft, and almost closing the mouth of it, lie a number of great boulders, as if the breech in the solid cliff had been made by some giant force that had broken and dragged forth the primeval rock, only to leave the refuse of its toil to lie forever in the edge of the tide, to fret the gnawing currents. At low tide a narrow strip of black shingle shows between the nearer of these titanic fragments and the face of the cliff. The force has been at work at other points of the coast as well. A mile or so to the north it has broken down and scattered seaward a great section of the cliff, scarring the water with a hundred jagged menaces to navigation, and leaving behind it a torn sea front and a wide, uneven beach. About three miles to the south of the little, hidden village it has wrought similar havoc, long forgotten ages ago.
Along this coast, for many miles, treacherous currents race and shift continually, swinging in from the open sea, creeping along from the north, slanting in from the southeast and snarling up (but their snarling is hidden far below the surface) from the tide-vexed, storm-worn prow of old Cape Race. The pull and drift of many of these currents are felt far out from land, and they cannot be charted because of their shiftings, and their shiftings cannot be calculated with any degree of accuracy, because they seem to be without system or law. These are dangerous waters even now; and before the safeguard of a strong light on the cape, in the days when ships were helplessly dragged by the sea when there was no wind to drive them—in the days before a "lee-shore" had ceased to be an actual peril to become a picturesque phrase in nautical parlance—they constituted one of the most notorious disaster-zones of the North Atlantic.
We are told, as were our fathers before us, that one man's poison may be another man's meat, and that it is an ill wind indeed that does not blow an advantage to somebody. The fundamental truths of these ancient saws were fully realized by the people of Chance Along. Ships went down in battered fragments to their clashing sea-graves, which was bad, Heaven knows, for the crews and the owners—but ashore, stalwart and gratified folk who had noted the storms and the tides ate well and drank deep and went warmly clad, who might otherwise have felt the gnawing of hunger and the nip of the wind.
The people of Chance Along, with but a few exceptions, were Nolans, Lynches, Learys and Brennens. Their forebears had settled at the back of the cleft in the cliff a hundred years or more before the time of this history. They had been at the beginning, and still were, ignorant and primitive folk. Fishing in the treacherous sea beyond their sheltered retreat had been their occupation for several generations, brightened and diversified occasionally by a gathering of the fruits of storm. It was not until Black Dennis Nolan's time, however, that the community discovered that the offerings of the sea were sufficient—aye, more than sufficient—for their needs. This discovery might easily have been made by others than Black Dennis Nolan; but it required this man's daring ingenuity and powers of command to make it possible to profit by the discovery.
Black Dennis Nolan was but little more than a lad when he commenced the formidable task of converting a poverty-stricken community of cod-fishers into a band of daring, cunning, unscrupulous wreckers. He possessed a dominating character, even in those days, and his father had left him a small fore-and-aft schooner, a store well-stocked with hand-lines, provisions and gear, and a record chalked up on the inside of the door which showed, by signs and formulae unintelligible to the stranger, every man in the harbor to be in his debt for flour, tea, molasses, tobacco and several other necessities of life. So Black Dennis Nolan was in a position, from the very first, to force the other men of the place to conform to his plans and obey his orders—more or less.
For a time there were doubters and grumblers, old men who wagged their heads, and young men who sneered covertly or jeered openly; and later, as the rule of Dennis became absolute and somewhat tyrannical and the hand of Dennis heavy upon men of independent ways of thought, there were insurrections and mutinies. But Black Dennis Nolan was equal to every difficulty, even from the beginning. Doubters were convinced that he saw clearer than they, grumblers were satisfied, young men who jeered openly were beaten into submission with whatever weapon came most conveniently to hand. Dennis was big, agile, and absolutely fearless, and when he dealt a blow with an oar, a skiff's thwart, or a pole from a drying-stage, a second effort was seldom required against the same jeerer. Once or twice, of course, he had to hit many times and was compelled to accept some painful strokes in return. One or two of these encounters are worthy of treatment in detail, if only to show something of the natures of Black Dennis Nolan and his companions.
Immediately after his father's untimely death (the poor man was carried out to sea on a small pan of ice, while engaged in killing seals off the mouth of the harbor, in the spring of the year), Black Dennis was addressed by the title of "Skipper." The title and position became his, without question, along with his unfortunate father's schooner, store, and list of bad debts. The new skipper's first move towards realizing his dreams of affluence and power was to build a small hut of stones, poles, and sods both at the place of the broken cliff a mile to the north of Chance Along, and at the place of similar physical character three miles to the southward. It was winter at the time—a fine season for wrecks, but an uncomfortable season for spending one's nights in an ill-made hut, and one's days on the brink of a cliff, without companionship, gazing seaward through a heavy telescope for some vessel in distress. But the skipper had made his plans and did not care a snap of his finger for discomforts for himself or his friends. He knew that out of every ten wrecks that took place on the coast within twenty miles of Chance Along, not more than one profited the people of his harbor. They never went afield in search of the gifts of the treacherous sea. They took what they could clutch of what was thrown at their very doors, even then letting much escape them, owing to lack of science and organization. The new skipper meant to alter this condition of things—and he knew that the waters in the immediate vicinity of Chance Along were neither the most dangerous on the coast, nor the most convenient for the salving of wreckage and fast-drowning cargoes. So he established stations at Squid Beach to the northward, and at Nolan's Cove to the southward, and ordered Nick Leary and Foxey Jack Quinn to take up their abode in the new huts; Nick at Squid Beach, and Foxey Jack at the Cove, had to keep a sharp look-out for ships during bad weather and at night. Should either of them remark any signs of a vessel in distress he was to return to Chance Along at top speed, and report the same. Nick Leary and Foxey Jack Quinn were older men than the skipper by a few years, and the fathers of families—of half-starved families. Nick was a mild lad; but Foxey Jack had a temper as hot as his hair.
"What bes yer idee, skipper?" asked Nick.
Dennis explained it briefly, having outlined his plans several times before.
"An' how long does we have to stop away?" asked Nick.
"Five days. Yer watch'll be five days, an' then I'll be sendin' out two more lads," replied the skipper.
Foxey Jack Quinn stood, without a word, his vicious face twisted with a scowling sneer. Both men departed, one for the beach to the north and the other for the Cove to the south, each carrying a kettle and bag of provisions, a blanket and tarnished spy-glass. Black Dennis Nolan turned to other work connected with the great scheme of transferring the activities of Chance Along from the catching of fish to the catching of maimed and broken ships. He set some of the old men and women to splicing ropes, stronger and more active folk to drilling a hole in the face of the cliff, near to the top of it and just to the right of the entrance to the narrow harbor. Others, led by the skipper himself, set to work at drilling holes in several of the great rocks that lay in the green tide beyond the mouth of the harbor, their heavy crowns lifting only a yard or two above the surface of the twisting currents. All this was but the beginning of a task that would require weeks, perhaps months, of labor to complete. It was Black Dennis Nolan's intention to construct, by means of great iron rings, bolts and staples, chain-cables, hawsers and life-lines, a solid net by the help of which his people could extend their efforts at salving the valuables from a fast-breaking vessel to the outermost rock of that dangerous archipelago, even at the height of a storm—with luck. In the past, even in his own time, several ships bound from Northern Europe for Quebec had been driven and dragged from their course, shattered upon those rocks, sucked off into deep water, and lost forever, without having contributed so much as a bale of sail-cloth to the people of Chance Along. He was determined that cases of this kind should not happen in the future. The net was to be so arranged that the greater part of it could be removed, and the balance submerged, with but slight effort, and later all returned to its working condition as easily; for it would not be well to draw the attention of outsiders to the contrivance. Wrecking, in those days, meant more than the salvage of cargoes, perhaps. The skipper hoped, in time (should the experiment prove successful at the mouth of the harbor), to rig the dangerous and productive archipelago off Squid Beach and Nolan's Cove with similar contrivances. There was not another man in Chance Along capable of conceiving such ideas; but Dennis was ambitious (in his crude way), imaginative, daring, unscrupulous and full of resources and energy.
All day the skipper and his men worked strenuously, and at break of dawn on the morrow they returned to their toils. By noon a gigantic iron hook, forged by the skipper himself, with a shank as thick as a strong man's arm and fully four feet long, had been set firmly in the face of the cliff. The skipper and five or six of his men stood at the edge of the barren, above the cliff and the harbor, wiping the sweat from their faces. Snow lay in patches over the bleak and sodden barren, a raw wind beat in from the east, and a gray and white sea snarled below.
"Boys," said the young skipper, "I's able to see ahead to the day whin there'll be no want in Chance Along, but the want we pretends to fool the world wid. Aye, ye may take Dennis Nolan's word for it! We'll eat an' drink full, lads, an' sleep warm as any marchant i' St. John's."
"What damn foolery has ye all bin at now?" inquired a sneering voice.
All turned and beheld Foxey Jack Quinn standing near at hand, a leer on his wide mouth and in his pale eyes, and his nunney-bag on his shoulder. His skinnywoppers (high-legged moccasins of sealskin, hair-side inward) were glistening with moisture of melted snow, and his face was red from the rasp of raw wind. He looked as if he had slept in his clothes—which was, undoubtedly, the case. He glared straight at the skipper with a dancing flame of devilment in his eyes.
"What ye bin all a-doin' now for to make extry work for yerselves?" he asked.
There followed a brief silence, and then Black Dennis Nolan spoke quietly.
"Why bain't ye over to Squid Beach, standin' yer trick at look-out?" he inquired.
Foxey Jack's answer was a harsh, jeering laugh, and words to the effect that life was too short to spend five days of it lonely and starving with cold, in a hut not fit for a pig.
"Ye kin do what ye likes, yerself—ye an' them as be fools like yerself; but Jack Quinn bain't a-goin' to lend a hand a yer foolishness, Denny Nolan," he concluded.
"Turn round an' git back to yer post wid ye," said the skipper.
"Who be ye, an' what be ye, to give that word to me?"
"Ye knows who I be. Turn round an' git!"
"To hell wid ye! I turns round for no man!"
"Then ye'd best drop yer nunney-bag, ye foxey-headed fool, for I bes a-comin' at ye to larn ye who bes skipper here."
Quinn let his nunney-bag fall to the snow behind him—and in the same instant of time the skipper's right fist landed on his nose, knocking him backward over the bag, clear off his feet, and staining his red whiskers to a deeper and brighter red. But the big fellow came up to his feet again as nimbly as a cat. For a moment the two clinched and swayed in each other's straining arms, like drunken men. The awed spectators formed a line between the two and the edge of the cliff. Foxey Jack broke the hold, leaped back and struck a furious, but ill-judged blow which glanced off the other's jaw. Next instant he was down on the snow again, with one eye shut, but up again as quickly.
Again they clinched and swayed, breast to breast, knee to knee. Both were large men; but Foxey Jack was heavier, having come to his full weight. This time it was the skipper who tried to break the hold, realizing that his advantage lay in his fists, and Quinn's in the greater weight of body and greater strength of back and leg. So the skipper twisted and pulled; but Quinn held tight, and slowly but surely forced the younger man towards the edge of the cliff. Suddenly the skipper drew his head back and brought it forward and downward again, with all the force of his neck and shoulders, fair upon the bridge of his antagonist's nose. Quinn staggered and for a second his muscles relaxed; and in that second the skipper wrenched away from his grasp and knocked him senseless to the ground.
"Lay there, ye scum!" cried Black Dennis Nolan, breathing heavily, and wiping blood from his chin with the back of his hand. "Lay there an' be damned to ye, if ye t'ink ye kin say 'nay' when Dennis Nolan says 'aye.' If it didn't be for the childern ye bes father of, an' yer poor, dacent woman, I'd t'row ye over the cliff."
Foxey Jack Quinn was in no condition to reply to the skipper's address. In fact, he did not hear a word of it. Two of the men picked him up and carried him down a steep and twisting path to his cabin at the back of the harbor, above the green water and the gray drying-stages, and beneath the edge of the vast and empty barren. He opened one eye as they laid him on the bed in the one room of the cabin. He glared up at the two men and then around at his horrified wife and children.
"Folks," said he, "I'll be sure the death o' Black Dennis Nolan. Aye, so help me Saint Peter. I'll send 'im to hell, all suddent un' unready, for the black deed he done this day!"
That was the first time the skipper showed the weight of his fist. His followers were impressed by the exhibition. The work went steadily on among the rocks in front of Chance Along for ten days, and then came twenty-four hours of furious wind and driving snow out of the northwest. This was followed by a brief lull, a biting nip of frost that registered thirty degrees below zero, and then fog and wind out of the east. After the snowy gale, during the day of still, bitter cold, relief parties went to Squid Beach and Nolan's Cove and brought in the half-frozen watchers. For a day the look-out stations were deserted, the people finding it all they could do to keep from freezing in their sheltered cabins in Chance Along; but with the coming of the east wind and the fog, the huts of sods were again occupied.
The fog rolled in about an hour before noon; and shortly after midnight the man from Nolan's Cove groped his way along the edge of the cliff, down the twisty path to the cluster of cabins, and to Black Dennis Nolan's door. He pounded and kicked the door until the whole building trembled.
"What bes ye a-wantin' now?" bawled the skipper, from within.
"I seed a blue flare an' heared a gun a-firing to the sou'east o' the cove," bawled the visitor, in reply.
The skipper opened the door.
"Come in, lad! Come in!" he cried.
He lit a candle and set to work swiftly pulling on his outer clothes and sea-boots.
"There bes rum an' a mug, Pat. Help yerself an' then rouse the men," he said. "Tell Nick Terry an' Bill Brennen to get the gear together. Step lively! Rouse 'em out!"
Pat Lynch slopped rum into a tin mug, gulped it greedily, and stumbled from the candle-light out again to the choking fog. He would have liked to remain inside long enough to swallow another drain and fill and light his pipe; but with Black Dennis Nolan roaring at him like a walrus, he had not ventured to delay. He groped his way from cabin to cabin, kicking on doors and bellowing the skipper's orders.
An hour and a half later, twenty men of Chance Along were clustered at the edge of the broken cliff overlooking the beach of Nolan's Cove and the rock-scarred sea beyond. But they could see nothing of beach or tide. The fog clung around them like black and sodden curtains. Here and there a lantern made an orange blur against the black. Some of the men held coils of rope with light grappling-irons spliced to the free ends. Others had home-made boat-hooks, the poles of which were fully ten feet long.
They heard the dull boom of a gun to seaward.
"She bes closer in!" exclaimed Pat Lynch. "Aye, closer in nor when I first heared her. She bain't so far to the south'ard, neither."
"Sure, then, the tide bes a-pullin' on her an' will drag her in, lads," remarked an old man, with a white beard that reached half-way down his breast.
"What d'ye make o' her, Barney Keen?" asked the skipper of the old man.
"Well, skipper, I'll tell 'e what I makes o' her. 'Twas afore yer day, lad—aye, as much as t'irty year ago—arter just sich weather as this, an' this time o' year, a grand big ship altogether went all abroad on these here rocks. Aye, skipper, a grand ship. Nought come ashore but a junk o' her hull an' a cask o' brandy, an' one o' her boats wid the name on all complete. The Manchester City she was, from Liverpool. We figgered as how she was heading for the gulf—for Quebec, like as not. So I makes it, skipper, as how this here vessel may be bound for Quebec, too."
Black Dennis Nolan took a lantern from another man, and led the way down the broken slope to the beach. The gear was passed down and piled at the edge of the tide. Dry wood—the fragments of ships long since broken on the outer rocks—was gathered from where it had been stranded high by many spring tides, and heaped on a wide, flat rock half-way up the slope. Another heap of splintered planks and wave-worn timbers was constructed on the level of the beach, close to the water—all this by the skipper's orders. The sea hammered and sobbed among the rocks, and splintered the new ice along the land-wash.
"If she comes ashore we'll be needin' more nor candle-light to work wid," remarked the skipper.
Again the dull boom of a gun drifted in through the fog.
"Aye, lads, she bes a-drawin' in to us," said old Barney Keen, with a note of intense satisfaction in his rusty voice.
NOLAN SHOWS HIS APTITUDE FOR COMMAND
The big ship was hopelessly astray in the fog and in the grip of a black, unseen current that dragged at her keel and bulging beam, pulling her inexorably landward towards the hidden rocks. Her commander felt danger lurking in the fog, but was at a loss to know on which side to look for it, at what point to guard against it. He was a brave man and a master of seamanship in all the minute knacks and tricks of seamanship of that day; but this was only his third voyage between London and the St. Lawrence, and the previous trips had been made in clear weather. The gale had blown him many miles out of his course, and lost him his main-top-ga'ntsail yards and half of his mizzen-mast; the cold snap had weighted ship and rigging with ice, and now the fog and the uncharted deep-sea river had confused his reckoning utterly. But even so, he might have been able to work his vessel out of the danger-zone had any signal been made from the coast in reply to his guns and flares. Even if after the arrival of the men from Chance Along on the beach at Nolan's Cove, the heaps of driftwood had been fired, he might have had time to pull his ship around to the north, drag out of the current that was speeding towards the hidden rocks, and so win away to safety. There was wind enough for handling the ship, he knew all the tricks of cheating a lee-shore of its anticipated spoils, and the seas were not running dangerously high. But his guns and flares went unanswered. All around hung the black, blind curtains of the fog, cruelly silent, cruelly unbroken by any blink of flame.
Black Dennis Nolan and his men stood by the frozen land-wash, along which the currents snarled, and rolling seas, freighted with splinters of black sea-ice, clattered and sloshed, waiting patiently for their harvest from the vast and treacherous fields beyond. A grim harvest! Grim fields to garner from, wherein he who sows peradventure shall not reap, and wherein Death is the farmer! Aye, and grim gleaners those who stand under the broken cliff of Nolan's Cove, waiting and listening in the dark!
A dull, crashing, grinding sound set the black fog vibrating. Then a brief clamor of panic-stricken voices rang in to the shore. Silence followed that—a silence that was suddenly broken by the thumping report of a cannon. The light flared dimly in the fog.
"Quiet, lads!" commanded the skipper. "Let the wood be till I gives ye the word. She bes fast on the rocks, but she bain't busted yet."
"An' she'll not bust inside a week, i' this sea," said one of the men. "Sure, skipper, the crew'll be comin' ashore i' their boats afore long. An' they have their muskets an' cutlasses wid them, ye kin lay to that. None but fools would come ashore on this coast, from a wreck, widout their weepons."
"Aye, an' they'll be carryin' their gold an' sich, too," said the skipper. "Lads, we'll do our best—an' that bain't fightin' an' killin', i' this case, but the usin' o' our wits. Bill Brennen, tell off ten men an' take 'em along the path to the south'ard wid ye. Lay down i' the spruce-tuck alongside the path, about t'ree miles along, an' wait till these folks from the ship comes up to ye, wid four or five o' our own lads a-leadin' the way wid lanterns. They'll be totin' a power o' val'able gear along wid them, ye kin lay to that! Lep out onto 'em, widout a word, snatch the gear an' run fair south along the track, yellin' like hell. Then stow the noise all of a suddent, get clear o' the track an' work back to this Chance Along wid the gear. Don't bat any o' the ship's crew over the head if ye bain't forced to it. The gear bes the t'ing we wants, lads."
"Aye, skipper, aye—but will the sailormen be a-totin' their gear that a-way?" returned Bill.
"Sure, b'y, for I'll tell 'em as we bes from Nap Harbor, an' I'll send four lads to show 'em the way. After ye take their gear—as much as ye kin get quick and easy—they'll follow ye along the path to try to catch ye," replied Black Dennis Nolan.
Bill Brennen went up the twisty path to the barren, and along the edge of the cliff to the southward, followed by ten sturdy fellows armed with long clubs of birch-wood. Of the nine men remaining with the skipper, six were sent, along with the gear, to hide behind the boulders and clumps of bush on the steep slope. The skipper cautioned them to lie low and keep quiet.
"Ahoy, there!" bellowed the skipper.
"Ahoy! Can't you show a light?" came the reply, from the fog.
"Aye, aye, sir. Bes ye on the rocks?"
"Lord, yes! Show a light, man, for Heaven's sake, so we can get the boat away. Her back's broken and her bows stove in. She's breaking up quick."
The skipper and his three companions speedily made a small heap from the big pile of driftwood on the shingle, and lit it from the candle of a lantern. They poured a tin of seal-oil over the dry wreckage, and the red and yellow flames shot up. It was evident to the men on the land-wash that the unfortunate ship had escaped the outer menaces and won within a hundred yards of the shore before striking. She was burning oil now, in vast quantities, to judge by the red glare that cut and stained the fog to seaward.
"What sort of channel?" came the question.
"Full o' rocks, sir; but it bes safe enough wid caution," cried the skipper.
"Can't you show more light?"
"Aye, sir, there bes more wood."
A second fire was built still closer to the edge of the tide than the first.
"Stand by to receive a line," warned the masterful voice from the ship.
A rocket banged and a light line fell writhing across the beach.
"Haul her in and make fast the hawser."
Black Dennis Nolan and his three companions were most obliging. They pulled in the line until the wet hawser on the end of it appeared, and this they made fast to a rock on the beach as big as a house.
A small light appeared between the ship and the shore, blinking and vanishing low down on the pitching sea. The glare from the fires on the land-wash presently discovered this to be an oil-lantern in the bows of a boat. The boat, which contained about a dozen men, was being hand-hauled along the line that ran from the wreck to the shore. Black Dennis Nolan and his companions exchanged glances at sight of drawn cutlasses and several rifles and pistols in the hands of the men from the wreck. As the leading boat came within ten yards of the shore an officer stood up in her bows. By this time the light of a second boat was blinking and vanishing in her wake.
"Bear a hand to ease us off," commanded the person in the bows of the boat.
"Aye, sir, we bes ready to help ye," replied the skipper, humbly.
"How is the landing?"
"It bes clear, sir—shelvin' rock."
"How many are you, there?"
"We bes four poor fishermen, sir."
The boat rowed in and was kept from staving in her keel on the land-wash by Nolan and his men. The officer sprang from the bows to the icy shingle, slipped and recovered himself with an oath. He was a huge fellow. In one hand he carried an iron dispatch box, and in the other a heavy pistol.
"This the lot of you?" he asked, glancing sharply at Black Dennis Nolan.
"Aye, sir, we bes only four poor fishermen," replied Nolan.
"I am glad to hear it. This coast has the name of being a bad place for shipwrecked people to come ashore on."
"You bes talkin' of the coast 'round to the south o' Cape Race, sir. We bes all poor, honest folk hereabouts, sir."
"Oh, aye," returned the other, drily.
By this time all the men were ashore and the boat was high up on the shingle, out of reach of the surf. The men stood close around it. They were well-armed, and kept a sharp look-out on all sides.
"What do you call this place?" asked the officer.
"Why, sir, Frenchman's Cove bes its name," replied the skipper.
Frenchman's Cove lies three miles to the south of Nolan's Cove; but the skipper was cautious.
"Do you live here?"
"No, sir. There bain't no houses here. We bes four poor men from 'way to the nor'ard, sir, a-huntin' deer on the barrens. We was makin' camp 'way back inland, sir, when we heared yer guns a-firin'."
"How far away is the nearest village?"
"Why, sir, this country bes strange to me, but I's t'inkin' Nap Harbor wouldn't be more'n ten mile to the south, fair along the coast. Bes I right, Pete?"
"Aye, skipper, I be t'inkin' the same. Nap Harbor lays to the south, maybe ten mile along, maybe less," replied Peter Nolan, a cousin of the skipper's.
A second boat reached the shore and discharged its freight of humans and small packages and bundles. This boat contained four sailors and ten passengers. There were three women among the passengers. All were clutching bundles of clothing or small bags containing their personal possessions of value. One of the women was weeping hysterically.
"Could we get a passage 'round to St. John's from Nap Harbor?" asked the officer.
"Aye, sir, I bes sayin' ye could. Sure there bes a fore-and-after i' Nap Harbor," said Nolan.
"Will you guide us to Nap Harbor?"
"Aye, sir, that we will, an' glad to be o' sarvice to ye."
"We will pay you well, my good man," said one of the passengers, a tall gentleman with a very white and frightened face, draped in a very wet cloak. "In the meantime," he continued, "let us dry ourselves at these fires and have something hot to drink. Where are those stewards, the lazy dogs!"
Two more boats came from the ship to the shore without accident. In the last to arrive were the captain and the doctor. The company gathered round the fires, keeping their boxes and bags close to them. The stewards and sailors brewed hot punches for all. The lady with the hysterics was soothed to quiet by the doctor and a tiny mug of brandy and boiling water. The officers held a consultation and decided to get the passengers safely to Nap Harbor, and aboard a schooner for St. John's and then to return to Frenchman's Cove themselves and salve what they could of the cargo of the ship, which was evidently of unusual value. (Black Dennis Nolan had expected this.) They would get help in Nap Harbor for the work of salvage, and would leave the four boats on the beach, under a guard of five seamen and the third officer. They had brought food from the ship, and so they ate a substantial meal while they warmed themselves and discussed their plans. But Captain McTavish neither ate nor drank, so bitterly did he feel the loss of his ship. He feared that even the moderate sea now running would break her up within forty-eight hours.
Black Dennis Nolan vanished in the darkness many times in the furtherance of his task of gathering wood for the fires. At last, after he had covertly inspected all the bags, bundles and dispatch boxes, he disappeared in the surrounding gloom and did not reappear at all. Dick Lynch, a man of about his own size, shape and coloring,—one of the six who had taken cover on the hillside—the firelight in his stead, carrying a fragment of broken spar. The change was not noticed by the men from the wreck.
Dry, warmly clothed, and inwardly fortified with food and drink, the ship's company set off for Nap Harbor, carrying as much as they could of their portable possessions, and led by four of the honest fishermen of Chance Along. They left behind them the third mate, a sturdy youth armed with two pistols and a fowling-piece, and five sailors armed with cutlasses and pistols—and enough dry and liquid provisions to last the guard for several days. They climbed the steep and twisty path that connected the beach with the edge of the barren, and soon their lanterns were lost in the fog. The third mate and his men brewed another generous supply of rum punch, heaped more wood on the fire and lit their pipes. By the time each had emptied his tin mug for the third time all felt inexpressibly sleepy. Mr. Darling, the commander of the guard, counted his men with a waving forefinger, and an expression of owlish gravity on his round face. Then, "Daniel Berry, you'll stand the first trick," said he. "Keep a sharp look-out and report anything unusual. Silas Nixon will relieve you at eight bells of the middle watch."
So Daniel Berry got unsteadily to his feet and stumbled away from the fire; but five minutes after his companions began to snore he returned to his blankets by the fire and fell fast asleep. He would never have been guilty of such a crime at sea; but ashore it was quite a different matter. What was the use of a look-out ashore? The island of Newfoundland was not likely to strike a reef or an iceberg. So he sank deep into the slumber of the just and the intoxicated.
A dawn wind, blowing gently out of the west, began to thin and lift the dripping fog. Out from the dark that hedged in the fire crawled six vague shapes which, as they came into the illuminated zone, proved to be Black Dennis Nolan and five of his men of Chance Along with ropes in their hands. They stooped over the blanket-swathed sleepers, working quickly and cunningly with the ropes. They also bandaged the eyes and mouths of the unconscious mariners with strips of blanket. By this time the light on the stranded ship was burning low. The skipper and his companions examined the four boats, dragged one of them down to the edge of the tide and launched it. The fog was thinning swiftly, and a gray pallor was spreading in the east and south. They manned the boat and pulled out for the wreck, following the dripping hawser.
The wreck lay across a sunken rock, listed heavily to port. Her spars were all over the side, a tangled mass washing and beating about in the seas. A snag of rock had been driven clean through the timbers of the port-bow. Black Dennis Nolan and his companions managed to get aboard at last. A fire of rags and oil still burned in an iron tub on the main deck. They went forward to the galley for a lamp, and with this entered the cabins aft. Dennis Nolan led the way. The captain's room was empty. They found and examined the quarters of the passengers. Clothing and bedding were tossed about in disorder, and it seemed that everything of value had been collected and carried away. They gathered up a couple of silk gowns and a fur-lined cloak, however. The skipper was shaking out the sheets from a berth when he felt something strike the toe of his boot. He stooped quickly, recovered a small box bound in red leather, and slipped it in his pocket. The others had observed nothing of this. In another cabin, they found the passengers' heavy baggage packed in about a dozen big leather boxes. They carried these to the main deck without waiting to open them. By this time the dawn was an actual, dreary-gray fact, and the fog was no more than a thin mist.
"Now for the cargo, lads," said the skipper.
They removed the tarpaulins from the main hatch, and broke it open. With the lamp in his left hand, the skipper descended into the hold by way of the stationary iron ladder.
"Pianeys," he shouted.
"Hell!" exclaimed the men on deck, in voices of disgust.
The skipper returned to the deck, after about ten minutes in the hold.
"The cargo bain't o' no use to us, lads," he said. "Pianeys, engines, an' fancy-goods."
They broke open the lazarette and found several cases of wines and brandy, and a quantity of provisions of superior quality. They lowered the passengers' baggage into the boat and pulled ashore through the spouting, slobbering rocks and reefs. In a second trip they salvaged the spirits and provisions. They carried boxes, cases and crates up to the barren, and hid them in a thicket of dense spruce-tuck, and concealed their gear of lines and boat-hooks in the same place.
"She'll last a good few days yet, if it don't blow up a gale," said the skipper, waving his hand towards the wreck, "and maybe we'll come back an' get some pickin's. But we bain't wantin' to raise any suspicions."
He loosened the bindings at Mr. Darling's wrists, so that they could be worked off in time, and then set out briskly for Chance Along with his three companions at his heels.
Of the future of the ship's company little need be said. On their way to Nap Harbor they were set upon and robbed by a large force of big men. Their valuables vanished into the fog and darkness, as if they had never been—and their guides vanished also. They went on, following the edge of the cliff, and reached Nap Harbor about two hours after dawn. From Nap Harbor they sailed northward to St. John's, and there reported the robbery to the police. The police calmed them with promises, and in time sent officers to Nap Harbor armed with search-warrants. Needless to say, the jewels and money were not found. Captain McTavish did not return to Nolan's Cove to salve the cargo of his ship, for the agent in St. John's explained to him that the task would be a profitless one. A few days later he was joined by Mr. Darling and the five men of the guard, and eventually they all sailed away. But the tall gentleman with the white face and the long cloak left a sting behind him. He was Sir Arthur Harwood, Baronet, and the lady who had wept hysterically, and been quieted by the ship's surgeon, was Lady Harwood. By the wreck these two had lost much of value in clothing, jewelry and money; but their greatest loss was that of a necklace of twelve flawless diamonds and fourteen rubies. Sir Arthur offered a reward of five hundred pounds for the recovery of this necklace. In this reward lay the sting.
In the little retiring harbor of Chance Along, Black Dennis Nolan was a great man. His plans had worked without a hitch—and still the carcass of the ship lay in Nolan's Cove, only waiting to be picked. A rich harvest had been gathered without the loss of a life, and without attracting a shadow of suspicion upon Chance Along. The skipper called together the twenty men who had shared with him the exertions and risks of that night. This was in his store, with the windows obscured by blankets, the door bolted and the lamp lit.
"Lads," said he, "here bes twelve hundred golden sovereigns. I makes 'em into twenty-four shares o' fifty each. Now, lads, step up an' each take a share."
The men obeyed, their eyes glowing and their hands trembling.
"Now there bes four shares still on the table," said the skipper.
"Aye, skipper, aye," stammered Bill Brennen, huskily. The others breathed heavily, shuffled their feet, gripped the money in their pockets and glared at the yellow pieces still glowing in the lamplight.
FOXEY JACK QUINN SLIPS AWAY
"Four shares still on the table," repeated the skipper. "Well, lads, one bes for Black Dennis Nolan."
He glared around at the circle of eager, watchful, shaggy faces set against the wall of gloom that hemmed in the table and the ill-trimmed lamp.
"Aye, skipper, that bes right," muttered Nick Leary.
"And another bes for the skipper who feeds ye all from his store."
Again he glared around, letting his dark, dauntless eyes dwell for a second on each face. "And t'other two bes for the lad who larned you how."
With that, he swept the four piles of coins into a pocket of his coat. One of the men grunted. The skipper turned his black but glowing regard upon him. Another cursed harshly and withdrew a step from the table. The skipper jumped to his feet.
"Who says nay?" he roared. "Who gives the lie to my word? I bes skipper here—aye, an' more nor skipper! Would ye have one gold guinea amongst the whole crew o' ye, but for me? Would ye have a bite o' food in yer bellies, but for me? An' now yer bellies bes full an' yer pockets bes full, an' ye stand there an' say nay to my aye!"
He pulled two pistols from beneath his coat, cocked them deliberately and stared insolently and inquiringly around.
"What d'ye say to it, Bill Brennen?" he asked.
Bill Brennen shuffled his big feet uneasily, and eyed the pistols askance.
"Thank ye kindly, skipper. Ye speaks the truth," said he.
"An' ye, Nick Leary?"
"Ye bes skipper here, sure—aye, and more nor skipper. But for ye we'd all be starved to death wid hunger an' cold," said Nick.
"An' what says the rest o' ye? Who denies me the right to four shares o' the money?"
"Me, Dennis Nolan!" said Dick Lynch. "I denies ye the right."
"Step up an' say it to my face," cried the skipper.
"Aye, step up an' give it to him straight," said one of the men. "Step up, Dick, I bes wid ye."
"Who said that?" roared the skipper.
"Sure, 'twas me said it," growled one, Dan Keen.
"Be there four o' ye denies me the right to the money in me pocket?" asked the skipper.
"Aye, there bes four o' us."
"Then step out, the four o' ye."
Dick Lynch, Dan Keen and two others shuffled to the front of the group. Black Dennis Nolan looked them over with fury in his eyes and a sneer on his lips. He called up Bill Brennen and Nick Leary, and gave a pistol to each of them, and exchanged a few guarded words with them.
"Dick Lynch, Dan Keen, Corny Quinn an' Pat Lynch, stand where ye be," he said. "Ease back along the wall, the rest o' ye. I'll larn ye who bes skipper an' master o' this harbor! I'll larn ye if I bes as good as the four o' ye or not."
He slipped off his coat, with the weight of coined gold in the pockets of it, stepped swiftly around the end of the table and sprang furiously upon the four men who had denied his right to four shares of the loot.
"I'll larn ye!" he roared.
Three of them, all husky fellows, stood their ground; but the fourth turned and dashed clear of the field of instruction. He was a small man, was Corny Quinn, and lacked the courage of his convictions.
The skipper struck the group of three with both feet off the ground. They staggered, clutched at him, aimed blows and curses at him. A terrible kick delivered by Dan Keen missed its intended object and brought Pat Lynch writhing to the floor, and before Dan fully realized his mistake something as hard as the side of a house struck him on the jaw and laid him across the victim of his error. Dick Lynch was more fortunate than his fellow-mutineers—for half a minute. He closed with the furious skipper and clung tightly to him, thus avoiding punishment for the moment. The two were well matched in height and weight; but the skipper was the stronger in both body and heart. Also, he seemed now to be possessed of the nerve-strength of a madman. He lifted his clinging antagonist clear of the floor, shook him and wrenched at him, and at last broke his hold and flung him against the wall. Dick landed on his feet, steadied himself for a moment and then dashed back to the encounter; but he was met by the skipper's fist—and that was the end of the fight.
Black Dennis Nolan returned to the table and sat down behind the smoky lamp. There was a red spot on his forehead from a chance blow, and the knuckles of both big hands were raw. He breathed heavily for a full minute, and glared around him in silence.
"Pick 'em up," he said, at last. "The lesson I larned 'em seems to lay cold on their bellies. Give 'em rum, Burky Nolan—ye'll find a case of bottles behind the stove. Drink up, all o' ye. T'row some water in their faces, too."
His orders were promptly obeyed. He took the pistols from Bill Brennen and Nick Leary, and laid them on the table, and then picked up his coat and put it on.
"Now, men, maybe ye know who bes master of this harbor," he said. "If any one o' ye, or any four o' ye, bain't sure, say the word an' I'll pull off me coat again an' show ye. Well now, we'll git back to business. The jewels bes still hid in the swamp. They bain't no manner o' use to us till we sells 'em. I'll do that, men, bit by bit, in St. John's. The grub an' liquor we took bes all in the pit under this floor. Ye kin come every day an' tote away what ye wants of it. The wines and brandy bes for them who has sick folks an' old folks to feed. Lift the trap, Bill, an' let them help theirselves."
Bill Brennen stooped and hoisted a trap-door in the middle of the floor. The skipper left the table, lamp in hand.
"Help yourselves, men," he invited. "Take whatever ye fancies."
They came up meekly. Even the three who had so lately been disabled obeyed the invitation, leaning upon their companions. The water and rum had revived them physically, but their spirits were thoroughly cowed. The skipper held the lamp over the square hole in the floor.
"Two at a time, men," he cautioned. "Bill, light a candle an' pass it down to 'em."
Half an hour later the store was empty, save for the skipper and the inanimate gear. The blankets had been removed from the windows, and the lamp extinguished. The skipper sat beside the deal table from which he had distributed the gold, staring thoughtfully at his raw knuckles. The pistols still lay on the table. He pushed them to one side, scooped the gold from his pockets, spread it out and counted it slowly and awkwardly. Then he produced a canvas bag, stowed the gold away in it and tied the mouth of it securely.
"A rough crew," he muttered. "They needs rough handlin', most o' the time, an' then a mite o' humorin' like ye t'row fish to a team o' dogs after ye lash the hair off 'em. Aye, a rough crew, an' no mistake—but Black Dennis Nolan bes their master!"
He left his chair, stepped across the floor, and lifted the trap that led to the cellar. He descended, returning in a minute with a bottle of wine and two tins of potted meat.
"I'm t'inkin' it bes about time to t'row some fish to that dog Jack Quinn," he murmured.
He went out, leaving the bag of gold on the table, and locked the door behind him. Though he left the gold he did not leave the pistols. Under his arm he carried the wine and the tinned meat. He went straight to Foxey Jack Quinn's cabin, and entered without knocking on the door. Quinn was sitting by the little stove with his head untidily bandaged. One pale, undamaged eye glared fiercely from the bandages. The woman was seated close to the only window, sewing, and the children were playing on the floor. All movement was arrested on the instant of the skipper's entrance. The children crouched motionless and the woman's needle stuck idle in the cloth. Quinn sat like an image of wood, showing life only in that one glaring, pale eye.
"How bes ye feelin' now, Jack?" asked the visitor.
The hulking fellow by the stove did not speak, but the hand that held his pipe twitched ever so slightly.
"Orders be orders," continued the skipper. "The lads who obeys me fills their pockets wid gold—an' them who don't get hurt. But I bain't a hard man, Jack Quinn. Ye did yer best to heave me over the edge o' the cliff—an' most would have killed ye for that. Here bes wine an' meat for ye an' the wife an' children."
He laid the bottle and tins on a stool near the woman. Quinn's glance did not waver, and not a word passed his swollen lips; but his wife snatched up one of the tins of meat.
"The saints be praised!" she cried. "We bes nigh starvin' to deat' wid hunger!"
"'Twas me give it to ye, not the saints," said Black Dennis Nolan, "an' there bes more for ye where it come from."
He turned and went out of the cabin.
"I'll fix him yet," mumbled Foxey Jack Quinn.
The woman gave no heed to the remark, for she had already opened one of the tins of choice meat and was feeding the children from her fingers.
The skipper returned to the store, took up his bag of gold and went home. He lived with his grandmother, old Kate Nolan (commonly known in the harbor as Mother Nolan) and with his young brother Cormick. The cottage was the largest in the harbor—a grand house altogether. It contained three rooms, a loft, and a lean-to extension occupied by a pig and a dozen fowls. The skipper found the old woman squatted in a low chair beside the stove in the main room. This room served as kitchen, dining-room, general reception, and the skipper's bed-room. A ladder led up to the loft from one corner. Of the remaining rooms on the ground floor one was where the grandmother slept, and the other one was kept spotless, musty and airless for the occasional occupation of good Father McQueen, the missionary priest, who visited Chance Along three times a year. Cormick slept in the loft.
Mother Nolan glanced up from the red draft of the stove at her grandson's entrance. She held a short clay pipe in one wrinkled hand. She regarded the youth inscrutably with black, undimmed eyes, but did not speak. He closed the door, faced her and extended the heavy bag of coins.
"Granny, we bes rich this minute; but we'll be richer yet afore we finishes," he said. "This bag bes full o' gold, Granny—full o' coined English gold."
"Out o' the wrack?" she queried.
"Aye, it was in the ship, Granny."
The old woman puffed on her pipe for a few seconds.
"An' what else come out o' the wrack, Denny?"
"Diamonds an' rubies an' pearls, the wine ye drank last night an' the fancy grub ye et to-day. 'Twas a grand wrack altogether, Granny."
Mother Nolan wagged her gray head and returned her gaze to the red draft of the stove. "'Twas grand wine," she muttered. "Wracker's wine! Dead man's wine!"
"Nay, Granny, there ye bes wrong. Not a lad aboard her was killed nor drownded."
"Then how come ye by the gold an' diamonds, Denny?"
The skipper laughed.
"Sure, Granny, I tricked 'em!" he exclaimed. "I made use o' my wits—an' the harbor bes rich."
"Saints pity ye, Denny! Rich? The folk o' this harbor bain't intended for riches. Take a care, Denny, for the devil bes in it. Saints presarve us! No good never did come to this harbor out o' wracks, Denny. Me own father was drunk wid rum out o' a wrack when he fell over the edge o' the cliff, an' broke his neck on the land-wash. It was for a case o' brandy out o' a wrack Pat Walen an' Micky Nolan fit wid skulpin'-knives till Pat was killed dead."
The skipper laughed again and expanded his chest.
"There bain't no fightin' over wracks now," he said. "I bes skipper now, Granny. Do this, do that, says I—an' it's done! An' I gives out the shares to the men like I was master o' a sealin'-ship after a trip to the ice—one share to every man o' the crew an' four to meself. There bain't no shares for ship an' owners in this business, Granny."
"An' where be the diamonds?" asked the old woman.
"Hid in the marsh, safe an' sound till I takes 'em to St. John's," replied the skipper.
"There bain't no luck in diamonds," mumbled the old woman, "an' there bain't no luck in wracks. The devil bes in the both o' them, Denny."
The skipper passed through his grandmother's bed-room and entered the cold and un-aired chamber that was reserved for the use of Father McQueen. He closed the door behind him, bolted it stealthily and then tiptoed across the floor to the bulging chimney and empty fire-place. He knelt on the drafty hearth, placed the bag of gold beside his knee, and thrust both arms into the black maw of the chimney. After a minute of prying and pulling he withdrew them, holding a square, smoke-smudged stone in his hands. Laying this on the hearth, he took up the canvas bag and thrust it into a cavity at the back of the chimney that had been ready for the reception of just such a treasure for some time. Then he replaced the stone and scrambled to his feet. He glanced furtively at the one small window which lighted the room, then moved noiselessly to the centre of the floor and put up his right hand to the whitewashed beam that crossed the low ceiling. His fingers searched delicately for a full minute; and then he lowered his hand, holding a small square of dry wood. The beam had been skilfully hollowed at this point. From the cavity he took a small box bound in red leather—the same small box that he had found among the sheets and blankets of a berth in the wreck. He opened it and gloated over a necklace of twelve diamonds and fourteen rubies glinting, flashing and glowing on a bed of white satin. He fondled the wonderful stones with his blunt finger-ends. So he stood for a long time, breathing heavily, his black eyes glowing like the rubies and glinting like the diamonds.
"A fortune," he murmured. "Aye, houses an' ships, liquor, food an' sarvants. Holy saint! I bes richer nor any marchant in St. John's!"
At last he closed the box, put it back in the cavity overhead, and returned the small square of wood to its place. He looked around the room. The fading light of the winter day was gray at the window. The curtained bed was a mass of gloom; a white Christ on a cross of ebony gleamed above the narrow chimney-shelf, between two candlesticks of dull brass; the floor, with its few rough mats, was as cold as the frozen snow outside. The skipper felt the chill of the place in his sturdy bones. He shot a glance at the crucifix. It, too, was an offering from the sea. His father had told him how it had come ashore in the hand of a dead woman, thirty years ago. Now the carven image of the Saviour seemed to gleam out from the black of the cross and the shadowy wall as if with an inner illumination. Black Dennis Nolan made the sign with an awkward and unaccustomed finger, and then went swiftly from the room.
The skipper, Bill Brennen and Nick Leary left their cabins stealthily about midnight, met on the snowy barren above the harbor, and tramped southward to the vicinity of Nolan's Cove. They worked for a little while in a clump of spruce-tuck, then moved off to another thicket about half a mile away, and there worked again.
"There bes some men in this harbor I wouldn't trust as far as I could t'row 'em over my back," said the skipper.
Bill and Nick agreed with him. The skipper glanced up at the starless sky.
"There'll be snow by sun-up," he said.
"Aye, skipper, a desperate flurry out o' the nor'-west," replied Brennen.
"D'ye mean wind, too?"
"Aye, skipper, mark that!"
All three felt a breath on their faces like the very essence of cold. They turned northward and set out on the homeward way. All were snug in their beds long before the first pale hint of dawn. The icy draft from the northwest was a little stronger by that time, and it puffed a haze of dry and powdery snow before it. The night was full of faint, insistent voices. The roofs of the cabins snapped and creaked as if icy fingers were prying them apart. A sharp crackling sound came up from the harbor, where the tide fumbled at the edges of black ice. A dull, vast moaning that was scarcely a sound at all—something as vague, yet mighty as silence itself—drifted over the barrens and over the sheltered habitations out of the northwest.
When the skipper awoke in the morning the "flurry" was rolling over the brink of the barren, and down upon Chance Along in full force. The skipper piled dry wood—birch and splinters of wreckage—into the round stove, until it roared a miniature challenge to the ice-freighted wind outside. The bucket of water on the bench in the corner was frozen to half its depth. He cut at it with a knife used for skinning seals, and filled the tea-kettle with fragments of ice. His young brother Cormick came stiffly down the ladder from the loft, and stood close to the stove shivering.
"It bes desperate weather, Denny," said the lad. "Sure, I near froze in my blankets."
"Aye, Cormy, but we bes snug enough, wid no call to go outside the door," replied the skipper. "We has plenty o' wood an' plenty o' grub; an' we'll never lack the one or t'other so long as I bes skipper o' this harbor."
"Aye, Denny, we never et so well afore ye was skipper," returned Cormick, looking at his brother in frank admiration. "Grub—aye, an' gold too! I hears ye took a barrel o' money off that wrack, Denny."
"An' there'll be more wracks, Cormy, an' we'll take our pickin's from every one," said the skipper. "Times bes changed, lad. The day was when we took what the sea t'rowed up for us; but now we takes what we wants an' leaves what we don't want to the sea."
At that moment the voice of old Mother Nolan sounded fretfully from the next room.
"Denny! Cormy!" she called. "I bes fair perishin' to death in my bed. The wind bes blowin' an' yowlin' t'rough this room like the whole end o' the house was knocked out."
The skipper, who was as gentle with his old grandmother and as kind to his young brother as the best man in the world could have been, crossed the kitchen immediately and opened the door of the old woman's chamber. Mother Nolan was sitting up in her bed with a blanket on her thin, bent shoulders, and a red flannel night-cap on her gray head.
Her small face was pinched by cold and age, but her black eyes were alive and erect.
"The mats be squirmin' and flappin' on the floor like live fish," she exclaimed. "Saints presarve all poor creatures abroad this day on sea or land! They'll be starved to death wid the cold, Denny, for bain't I most blowed out o' my bed right in this grand house?"
The skipper realized that the room was colder than the middle apartment of the cabin had any right to be. He went to the window and examined it. The small frame was as tight in the wall as a dozen spikes and a liberal daubing of tar could make it. It had never been opened since the building of the house.
"The wind blows under Father McQueen's door like spray from the land-wash," said the old woman.
"'Twill be comin' down the chimbly," said Dennis, aware of the tide of icy wind low about his feet. He crossed the room and opened the door of the dismal chamber reserved for the use of the missionary. The sash of the window hung inward, the woodwork splintered and the spikes twisted, admitting a roaring current of wind and powdery snow. With a cry of consternation and rage the skipper sprang in, banged and bolted the door behind him, and went straight to the rafter across the middle of the ceiling. He removed the square of wood—and the hollow behind it was empty! For a moment he stood with his empty hand in the empty hiding-place, unable to move or think because of the terrific emotions which surged through him. At last he went over to the chimney and examined it. The bag of gold was in its place.
DEAD MAN'S DIAMONDS
Now I must hark back a few hours to the time when the skipper and his lieutenants were on their way to the barrens behind Nolan's Cove to safeguard the interests of the harbor by changing the hiding-place of the common treasure of jewelry. They had not been gone half an hour from Chance Along before Foxey Jack Quinn slipped from his cabin and glided, like a darker shadow in the darkness, to the skipper's house. He was not ignorant of his enemy's departure southward. He knew that both young Cormick and old Mother Nolan were heavy sleepers; and, earlier in the evening, he had seen something through the window of the guest-chamber that had aroused his curiosity and a passion of avarice.
Foxey Jack Quinn was warmly clothed. His rackets and a light pack were on his back and his pockets were stuffed with food and a flask of rum. He was armed with a hatchet. He crouched beside the window of the empty room for several minutes, listening intently and fearfully. At last he wedged the strong blade of his hatchet between the sash of the window and the frame and prised inward, steadily and cautiously. With a shrill protest of frosted spikes the lower part of the sash gave by an inch or two. He devoted another minute to listening, then applied the hatchet to the left side of the window. He worked all round the sash in this way and at last pushed it inward with both hands until it hung below the sill by a couple of bent spikes. He thrust the hatchet in his belt and entered the room. He put up his hand to the rafter that crossed the low ceiling and so felt his way along to the middle of the room. Halting there, he removed the fur mitten from his right hand and felt about until his chilled fingers discovered a thin crack in the whitewash of the rafter. The little square of dry wood came away in his fingers. Next moment he held the leather-bound casket in his hand. He opened it and felt the cold jewels which he could not see. Then he closed it, slipped it into a pocket, replaced the square of wood in the beam and made his cautious way back to the window. He crawled over the sill, turned and tried to lift the sash upward and outward to its place. The sash came up easily enough but the bent spikes would not hold. After a few minutes of fruitless effort he turned away, leaving the window wide open. The sky was black as the throat of a chimney. A breath of wind came from the northwest. Foxey Jack Quinn was not weatherwise, however. He climbed the path to the edge of the barrens and turned to the north.
"Diamonds white an' red," he muttered. "I seen 'em, and I knowed what they was. Every little stone bes worth more nor all the fore-and-afters on the coast. I bes a rich man now—richer nor the governor, richer nor any marchant in St. John's—richer nor the king o' England, maybe. Holy saints be praised! Never agin will I wet a line at the fishin' nor feel the ache o' hunger in my belly. Denny Nolan will soon be cursin' the day he batted me about like a swile."
His plans for the immediate future were clear in his mind but for the more distant future they were vague, though rosy. He would make the ten miles to Brig Tickle in less than three hours, and from there turn a point or two westward from the coast and strike across country to the head of Witless Bay. He had a cousin in Witless Bay and could afford to rest in that cousin's house for a few hours. There he would hire a team of dogs and make the next stage in quick time. Dennis Nolan, who would not discover the theft of the diamonds until after sun-up, would be left hopelessly astern by that time. So Quinn figured it out. On reaching St. John's he would go to a shebeen that he knew, in a narrow and secluded back street, and there rent a room. Then he would commence the business of disposing of one of the diamonds. Just how he was to go about this he did not know, but he felt sure that Mother McKay, who kept the shebeen, would be able to give him some valuable advice on the subject. And after that? Well, the prospects were rosy but vague. He would get word to his wife in some way to move herself and the children to Witless Bay. He would send her twenty dollars, and after that, for the rest of his life, ten good dollars every month. As for himself, he would sail away to some big city "up-along"—to Boston, New York or London—dispose of the necklace stone by stone, buy a great house and live in idle luxury. He would dress like a merchant, eat hearty every day, drink deep and sleep warm. He had heard of such things—of men who never set their hands to a stroke of work from year's end to year's end. He would live like a king and drink like a lord and, like the good father and husband that he firmly believed himself to be, he would send ten dollars to his wife every month.
With such exalted dreams as these did Foxey Jack Quinn occupy his mind as he hurried northward along the edge of the snowy barrens. He had travelled about two miles when he suddenly became aware of the increased force and coldness of the wind. Snow as dry as desert-sand and as sharp as splintered ice blew against his face, stinging his eyes (one of which was still half closed), and smarting the battered flesh of brow and cheek. Then, for the first time, he realized that one of those dreaded storms out of the northwest was approaching. But for the treasure in his pocket he would have faced about and returned to Chance Along; but as it was he drew his fur cap lower about his ears, wound a woollen scarf around the lower part of his face and held doggedly on his way. The wind lulled for a little while, quieting his apprehensions. His rackets were on his feet now and he pushed along briskly over the pallid snow, through the whispering dark. He had covered another mile before the skirmishers of the storm rushed over him again out of the black northwest. That bitter wind soaked through his heavy garments like water and chilled him to the heart. Its breath of dry snow, embittered and intensified by its rushing journey across frozen seas and a thousand miles of frozen wilderness, blinded him, cut him and snatched at his lips as if it would pluck life itself from his lungs. He turned his back to it and crouched low, gasping curses and half-choked prayers to the saints. Then the full fury of the storm reached him, the dark grew pallid with flying snow-dust, and the frozen earth seemed to quake beneath his hands and knees. For a minute he lay flat, fighting for breath with his arms encircling his face. He knew that he must find shelter of some description immediately or else die terribly of suffocation and cold. Surely he could find a thicket of spruce-tuck near at hand? He staggered to his feet, stood hunched for a second to get the points of the compass clear in his mind, then plunged forward, fighting through the storm like a desperate swimmer breasting the surf. He thought he was moving straight inland where he would be sure to stumble soon against a sheltering thicket. But the onslaught of the storm had bewildered him. He struggled onward; but not toward the twisted clumps of spruces. His eyes were shut against the lashing of the snow and he held his arms locked before him across his mouth and nostrils. The wind eddied about him, thick as blown spray with its swirling sheets of ice particles. It struck him on all sides, lashing his face and tearing at his back whatever way he turned.... A scream of horror rang out for an instant and was smothered by the roaring of the storm. So the spirit of Jack Quinn was whirled away on the tempest—God knows whither!—and the poor body came to rest on the frozen land-wash far below the edge of the blind, unheeding cliff.
The storm raged all day out of the northwest, and the folk of Chance Along kept to their cabins and clustered around their little stoves. Even Black Dennis Nolan did not venture farther than fifty yards from his own door. He replaced the window of Father McQueen's room, said nothing of his loss to Cormick and the old woman, and after breakfast went out and fought his way along to Foxey Quinn's cabin. He found the woman in tears.
"Where bes Jack?" he asked, drawing the door tight behind him and standing with his hand on the latch.
"He bain't here," said the woman. "He was gone from the bed when first I opened my eyes."
The skipper was a hard man in many ways, even then. Later, as he became established in his power, the hardness grew in him with the passing of every day. But always a tender spot could be found in his heart for women and children.
"He was to my house last night," he said. "He bust in a windy an' tried to rob me—aye, an' maybe he done it."
The woman covered her face with her rough, red hands and moaned like a wounded thing.
"I bain't holdin' it agin' ye," continued the skipper. "I fight wid men, not women an' childern. I fit Jack Quinn fair an' bate him fair. Let it be! If ye wants for food, Polly—whenever ye wants for food an' clothin'—send the word to me. I bes skipper in this harbor—aye, an' more nor skipper."
He turned then and let himself out into the shrieking storm. Polly Quinn stared at the door and the children clustered about her and pulled at her shabby skirts.
"Aye, he tells true," she murmured. "Never a hard word did Mother Nolan ever have from him. He was a good son to his mother an' the old skipper. But them as crosses him—the holy saints presarve 'em! Men-folks must be his dogs or his enemies. He batted me poor Jack nigh to death wid his big hands."
She turned at last and fed the glowing stove. Then she set about getting breakfast for herself and the children. There was enough hard bread in the house to last the day. There was a pinch of tea in the canister. Jack had drunk the wine from the wreck and taken away with him all that had been left of the tinned meats which the skipper had brought over the day before. The woman observed these things and gave some thoughts to them. She glanced up at the blinding white tumult against the drifted window, reflecting that her husband had taken the best food in the house—enough to last him for two days, at least—and had left behind him, for herself and three children, eight cakes of hard bread and a pinch of tea. Her faded eyes glowed and her lips hardened.
Black Dennis Nolan brooded all day by the stove with his big hands clasped idly between his knees. The grandmother sat near him, in a tattered armchair, smoking her pipe and mumbling wise saws and broken stories of the past.
"I bes a storm-child," she mumbled. "Aye, sure, wasn't I born a night in winter wid jist sich a flurry as this one howlin' over Chance Along—aye, an' wid a caul over me face. So I has the power o' seein' the fairies." And then, "me man were bigger nor ye, Denny. Skipper Tim, he were. Built the first fore-an'-after on this coast, he did." And later—"There bain't no luck in diamonds. The divil bes in 'em."
Young Cormick sat on the other side of the stove, busily carving a block of wood with a clasp-knife.
FATHER MCQUEEN VISITS HIS FLOCK
After the storm from the northwest had blown itself out, a spell of soft weather set in along the coast. East and southeast winds brought fog and mild rains, the ice rotted along the land-wash and the snow dwindled from the barrens and left dripping hummocks and patches of black bog exposed. The wreck in Nolan's Cove had gone to pieces during the blizzard, sunk its cargo of pianos, manufactured cotton and hardware in six fathoms of water and flung a liberal proportion of its spars and timbers ashore.
Black Dennis Nolan felt as sure that Jack Quinn had perished in the storm as if he had seen him prone and stiff under the drifting snow. The fool had left the harbor that night, sometime before the onslaught of the blizzard, but after midnight to a certainty. He had gone out—and he had not returned! There could be no doubt about his miserable fate. The skipper pictured him in his clear mind as lying somewhere out on the barrens with the red-bound casket clutched in a frozen hand. So the skipper devoted a day to searching for him over the thawing, sodden wilderness behind the harbor. He took Bill Brennen and Nick Leary with him. The other men did not grumble at being left behind, perhaps because they were learning the unwisdom of grumbling against the skipper's orders, more likely because they did not care a dang if Foxey Jack Quinn was ever found or not, dead or alive. Quinn had not been popular. The skipper informed his two companions that the missing man had broken into his house and robbed him of an article of great value.
"We bes sure to find him somewheres handy," said Bill Brennen. "Foxey Jack was always a fool about the weather—didn't know east from west when the wind blowed. What was it he robbed from ye, skipper?"
"Whatever it was, ye'll both git yer share if we finds it," replied the skipper. "More nor that I bain't willin' to say."
He fixed Bill Brennen with a glance of his black eyes that made that worthy tremble from his scantily-haired scalp to the soles of his big, shuffling feet. Bill was one of those people who cannot get along without a master. In the past, for lack of another, he had made an exacting tyrant out of a very mild and loving wife; but since the masterful opening of the new skipper's reign he had snapped his fingers at his wife, who had ruled him for close upon twenty years. He was shrewd, though weak, and his heart was full of the stuff in which personal loyalty is bred and fostered. If the hand that beat him was the hand that fed him—the hand of his master—then the beating seemed an honorable and reasonable thing to him. True, the skipper had not yet lifted a fist to him; but in this case darkling glances served quite as well as blows. Bill had seen the strength of Dennis from the first and from the first had loved it as a thing to serve—as the spirit of mastery. Nick Leary, though a much younger man than Bill Brennen, possessed the same spirit of service.
The three searched the barrens all day, from sun-up to dark, north, south and inland. It was a gray day, sloppy underfoot and raw overhead. At one time the skipper halted and lit his pipe within three yards of the point of the edge of the cliff from which Quinn had pitched to his death; but wind, snow and thaw had obliterated all trace of those blindly staggering feet. The searchers explored the inner, tangled recesses of a dozen thickets of spruce-tuck, snarled coverts of alders, hollows hip-deep in sodden snow, and the pits and rocky shelters of knolls and hummocks.
"He bes hid away somewheres, sure's Saint Peter was a fisherman," said the skipper.
"Axin' yer pardon, skipper, I bes t'inkin' as how maybe he bain't dead," said Nick Leary, humbly. "Maybe he got t'rough to Brig Tickle, sir, an' from the Tickle he'd be headin' for Witless Bay this very minute."
The skipper shook his head.
"There bain't a man on the coast could live t'rough a flurry the like o' that widout he found shelter," he replied. "He bes dead somewheres widin t'ree or four mile o' Chance Along, ye kin lay to that, Nick."
They returned to the harbor after dark and said not a word to the others about the business that had occupied them throughout the day; Brennen and Nick Leary were asked many questions, but they lied valiantly, saying that they had been spying out boat-timber. Had they admitted that they had devoted a whole day to searching over the barren for the body of Foxey Jack Quinn a suspicion that the missing man had carried away something of extraordinary value would have fired the harbor and set every able-bodied inhabitant on the quest. That would not have suited the skipper's plans. He did not want a knowledge of the necklace of diamonds and rubies to become general.
Doubtless the search for Jack Quinn would have been continued on the following day but for the unexpected arrival in Chance Along of the good Father McQueen. The missionary's visits were usually unexpected. He came now from the northward, on foot and unattended. In a haversack on his sturdy shoulders he carried food, two books of devotions and one of Irish poetry, and his vestments. Children who were playing a game called "deer-hunting" on the barrens behind the harbor were the first to know of the priest's approach. They shouted the news down to the gray cabins on the slope. A few of the men were working out among the rocks, under the skipper's supervision; others were cobbling skiffs and bullies that lay high and dry beneath the empty stages, and the old fellows were sitting around, giving advice and sucking at rank pipes. The harbor was at peace; and, what was still more unusual, it was free from hunger-fear. By the skipper's first important stroke of business his reign promised to be prosperous, even though tyrannical. At word that Father McQueen was sighted all work was stopped. The dories among the outer rocks were pulled to the land-wash. The men left their tarring and caulking under the drying-stages. Women issued from the cabins with shawls thrown hastily about their heads and shoulders. The skipper led the way up the twisty path to the level wilderness above. There was one man in the world whom he feared—feared without bitterness even as he did the saints on their thrones of gold. That man was Father McQueen.
Cap in hand, Black Dennis Nolan took the haversack from the priest and slung it on his own shoulder.
"Ye've walked a weary way, father," he said. "Ye bes mud and water to the knees, sir."
"But a step, Denny. Naught but a step, my son," replied the missionary, cheerfully. "I was in Witless Bay for two holy baptisms, a marriage an' a wake, an' I just took the notion to step over an' see ye all in Chance Along. Pax vobiscum, all of ye! My children, ye look grand an' hearty. How is Mother Nolan, the dear old body? Spry as ever, ye say? Praise the saints for that."
The people, men, women, and children, clustered round him with beaming faces, and in return he beamed at one and all, and spoke to a dozen by name. He leaned on the skipper's arm.
"But it bes still early in the forenoon, father," said Dennis. "Where did yer reverence sleep last night then?"
"Snug as a fox in his den, my son," replied the sturdy old man. "When dark came on I found me a dry cave in the side of a knoll, an' dry moss an' sticks for a fire."
"It bain't right for yer reverence to sleep out these rough winter nights," protested the skipper. "Maybe ye'll be gettin' yer death one o' these nights, sir."
"Nay, Denny, don't ye go worryin' about me," said the priest. "I am as tough as a husky."
He descended the path to the clustered cabins, still holding the skipper's arm and with the populace sliding and crowding at his muddy heels. His gray eyes were as keen as they were kindly. He remarked several of the great iron rings on the rocks to seaward.
"What are ye up to now, Denny?" he asked, halting for a moment, and pointing with a plump but strong and weather-beaten hand.
The skipper's black eyes followed the line indicated.
"That bes a grand idee o' mine, yer reverence," he answered, after a moment's hesitation. "Sure I'll tell ye all about it, sir, after ye get yerself dry alongside the stove."
"Something to do with wrecks, Denny?" queried the priest.
"Aye, yer reverence, it bes a part o' the gear for salvin' wrecks," returned Nolan.
At the skipper's door Father McQueen dismissed his followers with a blessing and a promise to see them all after dinner. Then, after a few kindly words to Mother Nolan, he entered his own room, where Cormick had a fire of driftwood roaring in the chimney. He soon returned to the kitchen, in socks and moccasins of the skipper's, a rusty cassock and a red blanket. The innate dignity and virtue of the old man gave to his grotesque attire the seeming of robes of glory, in spite of the very human twinkle in his gray eyes and the shadow of a grin about the corners of his large mouth. He accepted a chair close to the stove—but not the most comfortable chair, which was Mother Nolan's. They knew his nature too well to offer him that. The skipper gave him a bowl of hot wine, mulled with sugar and spices, which he accepted without demur and sipped with relish. After a few minutes of general conversation, during which Mother Nolan expatiated on her rheumatics, he turned to the skipper, and laid a hand on that young giant's knee.
"So ye are preparing gear for the salving of wrecks, my son?" he queried.
"Aye, yer reverence, we bes fixin' chains an' lines among the rocks so as maybe we kin get a holt on whatever comes ashore," replied Nolan.
"A good idea," returned the other. And then, "Have ye had any wrecks already this winter?"
"Aye, yer reverence, there be'd one in Nolan's Cove."
"So? Did any of the poor souls come ashore alive?"
"Aye, yer reverence, every mother's son o' them. They come ashore in their boats, sir, an' left the ship acrost a rock wid a hole in her bows bigger nor this house."
"And where are they now?"
"That I couldn't tell, yer reverence. They set out for Nap Harbor, to the south, that very night, an' got there safe an' sound. An' I heard tell, sir, as how they sailed from Nap Harbor for St. John's in a fore-an'-after."
The priest regarded the skipper keenly.
"Safe and sound, ye say, Denny?"
"Aye, yer reverence, safe an' sound, wid their clothes on their backs an' food an' drink in their pockets an' their bellies."
"I am glad to hear it, Denny. Ye sent them on their way warmly clad and full-fed; but I'm thinking, my son, they must have left something behind them? It's grand wine this, Denny."
"Aye, father, it bes grand wine. It came out o' the wreck, sir, along wid a skiff-load o' fancy grub. There bes wine, spirits an' tinned stuff in every house o' the harbor, yer reverence. But the cargo weren't no manner o' use to us—an' the hull broke up an' went all abroad two days back."
"So ye got nought from the wreck but a skiff-full of drink and food?"
"I bain't sayin' that, father dear, though it were as peaceful an' dacent a wrack as ever yer reverence heard tell of. Maybe yer reverence bes buildin' another church somewheres?—or a mission-house?—or sendin' money up-along to the poor haythens?"
"Aye, Denny, I am doing all these things," replied the priest. "Since first I set foot on Newfoundland I have built nine little churches, twelve mission-houses and one hospital—aye, and sent a mint of money to the poor folk of other lands. My dear parents left me a fortune of three hundreds of English pounds a year, Denny; and every year I give two hundred and fifty pounds of that fortune to the work of the Holy Church and beg and take twice as much more from the rich to give the poor."
The skipper nodded. This information was not new to him.
"I was thinkin', yer reverence, as how some day ye'd maybe be buildin' us a little church here in Chance Along," he said.
"It would take money, my son—money and hard work," returned the priest.
"Aye, father dear, 'twould take money an' work. There bes fifty golden sovereigns I knows of for yer reverence."
"Aye, yer reverence."
"From the wreck, Denny?"
"Aye, father dear, from the last wrack."
"Without blood on it, my son?"
"Widout so much as a drop o' blood on it, so help me Saint Peter!"
"And the other lads, Denny? Are ye the only one in the harbor able to pay me something for the building of a church?"
There was the one question on the good priest's tongue and another in his clear eyes.
"I bes skipper, father dear, an' takes skipper's shares and pays skipper's shares," replied Nolan. "But for me there'd not bin one bottle o' wine come to us from the wrack an' the poor folks aboard her would never have got ashore in their boats for want of a light on the land-wash. As I kin spare ye fifty pounds for the holy work, yer reverence, there bes nineteen men o' this harbor kin each be sparin' ye ten."
Father McQueen nodded his gray head.
"Then we'll have the little church, Denny," he said. "Aye, lad, we'll have the little church shining out to sea from the cliffs above Chance Along."
Father McQueen was a good man and a good priest, and would as readily have given his last breath as his last crust of bread in the service of his Master; but for the past thirty years he had lived and worked in a land of rocks, fogs and want, among people who snatched a livelihood from the sea with benumbed fingers and wrists pitted deep with scars of salt-water boils. He had seen them risk their lives for food on the black rocks, the grinding ice and the treacherous tide; and now his heart felt with their hearts, his eyes saw with their eyes. Their bitter birthright was the harvest of the coastwise seas; and he now realized their real and ethical right to all that they might gather from the tide, be it cod, caplin, herrings or the timbers and freights of wrecked ships. He saw that a wreck, like a good run of fish, was a thing to profit by thankfully and give praise to the saints for; but he held that no gift of God was to be gathered in violence. In the early years of his work he had heard rumors and seen indications of things that had fired him with a righteous fury and pity—rumors and hints of mariners struggling landward only to be killed like so many seals as they reached the hands to which they had looked for succor. The poor savages who had committed such crimes as this had at first failed to understand his fury and disgust; but with his tongue and his strong arms he had driven into their hearts the fear of Holy Church and of the Reverend Patrick McQueen. Even the wildest and dullest members of his far-scattered flock learned in time that life was sacred—even the life of a half-dead stranger awash in the surf. They even learned to refrain from stripping and breaking up a wrecked or grounded vessel that was still manned by a protesting crew; and with the fear of the good priest in their hearts (even though he was a hundred miles away), they would do their best to bring the unfortunate mariners safely ashore and then share the vessel with the hungry sea.
That even a deserted or unpeopled wreck should be common property may not seem right to some people; but it seemed right to Father McQueen—and surely he should know what was right and what was wrong! It was sometime about the date of this story that a missionary of another and perhaps less broad and human creed than Father McQueen's wrote to his bishop in the spring, "Thanks to God and two wrecks we got through the winter without starving."
Father McQueen did not hurry away from Chance Along. Six months had passed since his last visit and so he felt that this section of his flock demanded both time and attention. His way of knowing his people was by learning their outward as well as their inner lives, their physical and also their spiritual being. He was not slow to see and understand the skipper's ambitions and something of his methods. He read Black Dennis Nolan for a strong, active, masterful and relentless nature. He heard of Foxey Jack Quinn's departure and of the fight at the edge of the cliff that had preceded it. He heard also that Quinn had robbed the skipper before departing; but exactly what he had robbed him of he could not learn. He questioned Dennis himself and had a lesson in the art of evasion. He found it no great task to comfort the woman and children of the fugitive Jack. They were well fed and had the skipper's word that they should never lack food and clothing. He was not surprised to learn from the deserted wife that the man had been a bully at home as well as abroad. For his own part, he had never thought very highly of Foxey Jack Quinn. He visited every cabin in the harbor, and those that sheltered old and sick he visited many times. He was keenly interested in the work that the skipper was doing among the rocks in front of the harbor, and did not fail to point out persistently and authoritatively that chains and ropes designed to facilitate the saving of freights would also facilitate the saving of human lives. The skipper agreed with him respectfully.
On the morning of Father McQueen's arrival in Chance Along, the skipper dispatched Nick Leary to Witless Bay to learn whether or no Jack Quinn had reached that place. Leary returned on the evening of the following day with the expected information that nothing had been seen of the missing man in Witless Bay. In his pocket he brought a recent issue of St. John's newspaper, for which he had paid two shillings and two drams of rum. This he brought as an offering to the skipper—for the skipper could read print almost as well as a merchant and had a thirst for information of the outside world.
The first item of news which the skipper managed to spell out was the notice of a reward of five hundred pounds awaiting the person who should recover Lady Harwood's necklace of twelve diamonds and fourteen rubies and deliver it to Mr. Peter Wren, solicitor, Water Street, St. John's. The notice went on to say that this necklace, together with other smaller and less valuable articles of jewelry, had been taken by force from the shipwrecked company of the bark Durham Castle, which had gone ashore and to pieces in a desolate place called Frenchman's Cove, on the east coast. It also gave the date of the wreck and stated that if the necklace should be returned undamaged, no questions would be asked. The skipper saw in a moment that the reward was offered for the stones which he had found in the deserted berth and which Quinn had robbed him of. Five hundred pounds? He shook his head over that. He had read somewhere, at some time, about the value of diamonds, and he felt sure that the necklace was worth many times the money offered for its recovery. So the loss of it was known to the world? He had a great idea of the circulation of the St. John's Herald. He had retired to a secluded spot above the harbor to read the paper, and now he glanced furtively over his shoulder. No limb of the law was in sight. He gazed abroad over the sodden, gloomy barrens and reflected bitterly that the treasure lay there in some pit or hollow, in a dead man's pocket, perhaps within shouting-distance of where he stood. He swore that he would recover it yet—but not for the reward offered by Mr. Peter Wren in behalf of Lady Harwood. He re-read the notice slowly, following letter and word with muttering lips and tracing finger. Then, at a sudden thought of Father McQueen, he tore away that portion of the outer sheet which contained the notice.