“I’ll take a holiday some day and you shall take me over.”
Time came when they went, but it was hardly a holiday undertaking.
HOW NANCE CAME UP THE MAIN SHAFT WITHOUT GOING DOWN IT
It was a few days after this that Gard had another proof of Nance’s and Bernel’s fearlessness and prowess in the waters they had conquered into friendliness.
Bernel was a great fisherman. He could wheedle out rock-fish by the dozen while envious miners sat about him tugging hopefully at empty lines.
He had gone down one afternoon to the overhanging wooden slip at Port Gorey, and had excellent sport, until a sudden shift of the wind to the south-west began piling the waters into the gulf on an incoming tide. Then he drew in his lines and sat dangling his legs for a few minutes, before gathering up his catch and going home.
Nance saw him from the other headland and came tripping round to see how he had fared.
“Bern,” she cried, as she came up. “Tell that man he’s not safe down there. The waves are bad there sometimes.”
“Hi, you!” cried Bernel, to a miner who had been watching his success and had then climbed down seaward over the furrowed black ledges, hoping to do better there. “Come back! It’s not safe there.”
But the fisherman, intent on his sport, either did not, or would not, hear him.
“Oh, well, if you won’t,” said Bernel.
And then, without warning, a wave greater than any that had gone before it, hurled itself up the rocks and came roaring over the black ledges into the bay, and the man was gone.
Nance and Bernel had straightened up instantly at the sound of its coming.
Their eyes swept the rocks, and caught a glimpse of the dark body tumbling with the cascade of foam into Port Gorey.
“Oh, Bern!” cried Nance, with up-clasped hands.
But Bernel, loosing his belt and kicking off his breeches with a glance at the derelict, launched himself clear of the pier with a shout. And Nance, seeing the bulk of the man, and careless of everything but Bernel who seemed so very small compared with him, threw off her sun-bonnet and linen jacket, loosed a button, and was gone like a white flash after the two of them.
Gard was in the assay office not far away. He heard the shout and ran out just in time to see Nance go, and running to the slip he saw their clothes lying and the meaning of it all.
Bern had hold of the miner by the collar of his coat, and was doing his best with one hand to tow him to the shingle at the head of the gulf, the almost drowned one splashing wildly and doing his utmost to get hold of and drown his rescuer. Every now and again Bernel found it necessary to let go in order to keep out of his way.
Nance swam steadily up and the sinking one made a frantic clutch at her.