Presently the night set in once more, and, worn out with all that she had gone through, Augusta said her prayers and went to sleep with little Dick locked fast in her arms.
Some hours afterwards she was awakened by loud and uproarious shouts, made up of snatches of drunken songs and that peculiar class of English that hovers ever round the lips of the British Tar. Evidently Bill and Johnnie were raging drunk, and in this condition were taking the midnight air.
The shouting and swearing went reeling away towards the water’s edge, and then, all of a sudden, they culminated in a fearful yell—after which came silence.
What could it mean? wondered Augusta and whilst she was still wondering dropped off to sleep again.
Augusta woke up just as the dawn was stealing across the sodden sky. It was the smarting of her shoulders that woke her. She rose, leaving Dick yet asleep, and, remembering the turmoil of the night, hurried to the other hut. It was empty.
She turned and looked about her. About fifteen paces from where she was lay the shell that the two drunkards had used as a cup. Going forward, she picked it up. It still smelt disgustingly of spirits. Evidently the two men had dropped it in the course of their midnight walk, or rather roll. Where had they gone to?
Straight in front of her a rocky promontory ran out fifty paces or more into the waters of the fjord-like bay. She walked along it aimlessly till presently she perceived one of the sailor’s hats lying on the ground, or, rather, floating in a pool of water. Clearly they had gone this way. On she went to the point of the little headland, sheer over the water. There was nothing to be seen, not a single vestige of Bill and Johnnie. Aimlessly enough she leant forward and stared over the rocky wall, and down into the clear water, and then started back with a little cry.
No wonder that she started, for there on the sand, beneath a fathom and a half of quiet water, lay the bodies of the two ill-fated men. They were locked in each other’s arms, and lay as though they were asleep upon that ocean bed. How they came to their end she never knew. Perhaps they quarrelled in their drunken anger and fell over the little cliff; or perhaps they stumbled and fell not knowing whither they were going. Who can say? At any rate, there they were, and there they remained, till the outgoing tide floated them off to join the great army of their companions who had gone down with the Kangaroo. And so Augusta was left alone.
With a heavy heart she returned to the hut, pressed down by the weight of solitude, and the sense that in the midst of so much death she could not hope to escape. There was no human creature left alive in that vast lonely land, except the child and herself, and so far as she could see their fate would soon be as the fate of the others. When she got back to the hut, Dick was awake and was crying for her.