Father Adam was smiling. A great relief, a great happiness stirred his pulses as he stood up and moved over to the miserable fire with its burden of stewing food.
“Now we’ll eat,” he said. And he stooped down and stirred the contents of the pot.
BULL LEARNS CONDITIONS
The Myra ploughed her leisurely way up the cove. There was dignity in the steadiness with which she glided through the still waters. The cockleshell of the Atlantic billows had become a thing of pride in the shelter of Farewell Cove. Her predecessor, the Lizzie, had never risen above her humble station.
Her decks were wide and clean. Her smoke-stack had something purposeful in its proportions. The bridge was set high and possessed a spacious chart house. She had an air of importance not usual to the humble coasting packet.
“Old man” Hardy was at his post now. One of his officers occupied the starboard side of the bridge, while he and another looked out over the port bow.
“It’s a deep water channel,” the skipper said, with all a sailor’s appreciation. “That’s the merricle that makes this place. It’ud take a ten-thousand tonner with fathoms to spare right away up to the mooring berth. Guess Nature meant Sachigo for a real port, but got mussed fixing the climate.”
Bull Sternford was leaning over the rail. For all summer was at its height the thick pea-jacket he was wearing was welcome enough. His keen eyes were searching, and no detail of the prospect escaped them. He was filled with something akin to amazement.
“It compares with the big harbours of the world,” he replied. “And I’d say it’s not without advantages many of the finest of ’em lack. Those headlands we passed away back. Why, the Atlantic couldn’t blow a storm big enough to more than ripple the surface here inside.” He laughed. “What a place to fortify. Think of this in war time, eh?”
The grizzled skipper grinned responsively.
“It’s all you reckon,” he said. “But she needs humouring. You need to get this place in winter when ice and snow make it tough. This cove freezes right around its shores. You’d maybe lay off days to get inside, only to find yourself snow or fog bound for weeks on end. We make it because we have to with mails. But you can’t run cargo bottoms in winter. It’s a coasting master’s job in snow time. It’s a life study. You can get in, and you can get out—if you’ve nerve. If you’re short that way you’ll pile up sure as hell.”
He turned away to the chart room, and a moment later the engine-room telegraph chimed his orders to those below.
Bull was left with his busy thoughts.