Bull Sternford was sprawling in the race of water. Nancy, too, was hurled floundering in the scuppers. They were flung and beaten, crashing about in the swirling sea that swept over the vessel’s submerged rail.
Bull struggled furiously. Every muscle was straining with the effort of it. A fierce anxiety was in his eyes as he fought his way foot by foot towards the saloon companion. The handicap was terrible. There was practically no foothold, for the vessel was riding at an angle of something like forty-five degrees. Then, too, he had but one hand with which to help himself along. The other was supporting the dead-weight of the body of the unconscious girl.
At last, breathless and nearly beaten, he reached his goal and clutched desperately at the door-casing of the companion. He staggered within. And as he did so relief found expression in one fierce exclamation.
“Hell!” he cried. And clambered down, bearing his unconscious burden into the safety of the vessel’s interior.
It was the final stage of her journey. Nancy was on her way up from the docks, where she had left the staunch Myra discharging her cargo.
It was that triumphant return to which she had always looked forward, for which she had hoped and prayed. Her work was completed. It had been crowned with greater success than she had dared to believe possible. Yet her triumph somehow found her unelated, even a shade depressed.
A belated sense of humour battled with her mood. There were moments when she wanted to laugh at herself. There were others when she had no such desire. So she sat gazing out of the limousine window, as though all her interest were in the drab houses lining the way, and the heavy-coated pedestrians moving along the sidewalks of the narrow streets through which they were passing.
It was winter all right, for all no snow had as yet fallen, and the girl felt glad that it was so. It suited her mood.
Once or twice she took a sidelong glance at the man seated beside her; but Bull Sternford’s mood was no less reticent than her own. Once she encountered the glance of his eyes, and it was just as the vehicle bumped heavily over the badly paved road.
“We can do better in the way of roads up at Sachigo,” he said with a belated smile.
“You surely can,” Nancy admitted readily. “The roads down here in the old town are terrible. This old city of ours could fill pages of history. It’s got beauties, too, you couldn’t find anywhere else in the world. But it seems to need most of the things a city needs to make it the place we folk reckon it is.”
She went on at random.
“Do you always keep an automobile in Quebec?” she asked.
Bull shook his head.
“Hired,” he said.
Bull’s eyes twinkled.