Bat, in his wonder at the apparent ease of his rescue, had sought information. But little enough had been forthcoming. Leslie Standing had only smiled in his pensive fashion.
“Money,” he had said calmly. “Just money. It can do most things.”
That was all. And thenceforward the subject had been taboo. Even after seven years of intimate relations, Bat was still mystified on the subject, he was still guessing.
Now, as he listened to his friend’s expressions of faith, so strangely jumbled with calculated purpose, he sat at the table groping helplessly. Suppose—suppose that faith were to be shattered. What then? His mind was concerned, deeply concerned. And he dared not put his fears into words.
Standing came back to his chair.
“Here, we’ve talked these things enough,” he said. “You’ve got my word. Just don’t worry a thing. If Hellbeam’s dogs get around, well—we’re here first. All I want is news of Nancy. And that’ll be along any old time now. When I get that—.”
The door of the office was thrust open, and an olive-hued face appeared. It was the clerk who worked in direct contact with the owner of the Sachigo mill. He was one-third nigger, another French Canadian, and the rest of him was Indian. It was a combination that appealed to the man who employed him.
“They’ve ’phoned it through from the wireless at the headland, Boss,” the man said without preamble, pushing a sheet of paper into Leslie Standing’s hand.
He had gone as swiftly and silently as he came, and the door was closed softly behind him.
Standing was gazing across at Bat. He had not even glanced at the message.
“I’d like to bet,” he cried, his eyes alight with a smiling excitement. Then he shook his head. “No. I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s too sacred. Nancy—my Nancy—.”
He broke off, and glanced down at the paper. In a moment the smile fell from his eyes. When he looked up it was to flash a keen glance at the rugged face beyond the desk.
“Here, listen,” he cried, with a sharp intake of breath.
“Watch Lizzie for U.G.P. Signed—Nisson.”
“U.G.P. That’s Union Great Peninsular Railroad. That’s Hellbeam’s. It means—.”
“It means Hellbeam’s men are aboard. The packet Lizzie is due at our quay in less than an hour.”
Standing tore the message into small fragments and dropped them into the wastepaper basket beside him. Only was his emotion displayed in the deliberate care with which he reduced the paper to the smallest possible fragments.
THE MAN WITH THE MAIL
The calm waters of Farewell Cove lay a-shimmer under the slanting rays of the sun. A wealth of racing white cloud filled the dome of the summer sky, speeding under the pressure of a strong top wind. Even the harsh world of Labrador was smiling under the beneficence of the brief summer season.