Several hours after Mary’s interview with John Darling, old Mother Nolan awoke in her bed, suddenly, with all her nerves on the jump. The room was dark, but she felt convinced that a light had been held close to her face but a moment before. She felt no fear for herself, but a chilling anxiety as to what deviltry Denny might be up to now. Could it be that she was mistaken in him after all? Could it be that he was less of a man than she had thought? She crawled noiselessly from her bed and stole over to the door of Flora Lockhart’s room. The door was fastened. With the key, which she had brought from under her pillow, she made sure that it was locked. She unlocked it noiselessly, opened the door a crack and peered in. The room was lighted by the glow from the fire and by a guttering candle on a chair beside the bed. She saw that the room was empty, save for the sleeping girl. Closing the door softly and locking it again, she turned and groped her way across to the kitchen door, beneath which a narrow line of light was visible. Scarcely breathing, she raised the latch, drew the door inward a distance of half an inch and set one of her bright old eyes to the crack. She saw the skipper kneeling in a corner of the kitchen, with his back to her and a candle on the floor beside him. He seemed to be working busily and heavily, but not a sound of his toil reached her eager ears.
“He bes hidin’ something’,” she reflected. “Shiftin’ some o’ his wracked gold, maybe? But why bes he so sly about it to-night, a-spyin’ in on his old grandmother to see if she bes sound asleep or no?”
Presently, she closed the door and crept back to her bed. Next morning, as soon as the skipper and young Cormick had left the house, she examined the corner of the floor where the skipper had been at work. She had to pull aside a wood-box to get at the spot. One of the narrow, dusty planks showed that it had been tampered with. She pried it up with a chisel, dug into the loose earth beneath and at last found a small box covered with red leather. She opened it and gazed at the diamonds and rubies in frightened fascination. Ignorant as she was of such things, she knew that the value of these stones must be immense. At last she closed the casket, returned it to the bottom of the hole and replaced the earth, the plank and the wood-box. Where, when and how had the skipper come by that treasure? she wondered. She hobbled over to Pat Kavanagh’s house and told Mary all about it.
MARY AT WORK AGAIN
Pierre Benoist, the survivor of the French brig, arrived at Mother McKay’s shebeen in good order, with the borrowed blanket draped over his broad shoulders and the borrowed sealing-gun under his arm. All birds of Pierre’s variety of feather seemed to arrive naturally at Mother McKay’s, sooner or later. The French sailor found Dick Lynch; a Canadian trapper with Micmac blood in his veins,