“Kinross is an old fossil,” she said, with a touch of bitterness in her voice. “Oh, he’ll never wreck her through rashness, rest assured of that; but he’s timid to childishness, and timid skippers lose just as many vessels as rash ones. Some day, Kinross will lose the Martha because there’ll be only one chance and he’ll be afraid to take it. I know his sort. Afraid to take advantage of a proper breeze of wind that will fetch him in in twenty hours, he’ll get caught out in the calm that follows and spend a whole week in getting in. The Martha will make money with him, there’s no doubt of it; but she won’t make near the money that she would under a competent master.”
She paused, and with heightened colour and sparkling eyes gazed seaward at the schooner.
“My! but she is a witch! Look at her eating up the water, and there’s no wind to speak of. She’s not got ordinary white metal either. It’s man-of-war copper, every inch of it. I had them polish it with cocoanut husks when she was careened at Poonga-Poonga. She was a seal-hunter before this gold expedition got her. And seal-hunters had to sail. They’ve run away from second class Russian cruisers more than once up there off Siberia.
“Honestly, if I’d dreamed of the chance waiting for me at Guvutu when I bought her for less than three hundred dollars, I’d never have gone partners with you. And in that case I’d be sailing her right now.”
The justice of her contention came abruptly home to Sheldon. What she had done she would have done just the same if she had not been his partner. And in the saving of the Martha he had played no part. Single-handed, unadvised, in the teeth of the laughter of Guvutu and of the competition of men like Morgan and Raff, she had gone into the adventure and brought it through to success.
“You make me feel like a big man who has robbed a small child of a lolly,” he said with sudden contrition.
“And the small child is crying for it.” She looked at him, and he noted that her lip was slightly trembling and that her eyes were moist. It was the boy all over, he thought; the boy crying for the wee bit boat with which to play. And yet it was a woman, too. What a maze of contradiction she was! And he wondered, had she been all woman and no boy, if he would have loved her in just the same way. Then it rushed in upon his consciousness that he really loved her for what she was, for all the boy in her and all the rest of her—for the total of her that would have been a different total in direct proportion to any differing of the parts of her.