“Skipper,” said Bill, “the lads bes at it again. They wants to know when ye’ll make a trip to St. John’s wid the jewels?—an’ where the jewels bes gone to, anyhow?”
“Jewels!” cried the skipper—“an’ the entire crew o’ ’em fair rotten wid gold! I’ll dig up the jewels from where we hid ’em an’ t’row ’em into their dirty faces—an’ they kin carry ’em to St. John’s an’ sell ’em to suit themselves, the squid!”
So he and Bill Brennen tramped off to the northward; and Mary Kavanagh was aware of their going.
Mary was busy during their absence. She unearthed the necklace, and with it and the key from behind the skipper’s clock, made her way to the store. It was dark by now, with stars in the sky and a breath of wind from the south and south-by-west. The folks were all in their cabins, save the skipper and Bill Brennen, who were digging the harbor’s cache of jewelry from the head of a thicket of spruce-tuck. She let herself into the store and freed John Darling without striking a light. She placed the casket in his hand.
“The skipper has yer pistols in his own pocket, so I couldn’t git ’em for ye,” she whispered. “Now sneak up to the back, quick. Ye’ll find yer lass there, a-waitin’ for ye wid old Mother Nolan. Git north to the drook where yer man bes, an’ lay down there, the three o’ ye, till I fetches yer bully. Then git out, an’ keep out, for the love o’ mercy! Step lively, captain! The skipper bes out o’ the harbor this minute, but he bes a-comin’ home soon. Get along wid ye quick, to the top o’ the cliff.”
She left him before he had an opportunity to even try to thank her. He followed her to the door, walking stiffly, paused outside for long enough to get his bearings, then closed the door noiselessly, turned the key in the lock, withdrew it and dropped it in the snow. Then he made his way cautiously to the back of the harbor and up the twisting path as fast as he could scramble. At the top, crouched behind a boulder, beside old Mother Nolan, he found Flora.
Neither the girl nor the man heard the old woman’s words of farewell. They moved northward along the snowy path, hand in hand, running with no more sound than slipping star-shadows. So for a hundred yards; and then the speed began to slacken, and at last they walked. They reached the black crest where the brushwood of the drook showed above the level of the barrens. Here they halted, and Darling whistled guardedly. An answering note came up to them from the blackness below and to seaward. Darling stepped down, parted the young birches and twisted alders with one arm and drew Flora into the cover. She stumbled, saved herself from falling by encountering his broad chest—and then she put up both arms and slipped them about his neck.
“My God! Do you mean it, Flora?” he whispered.
For answer, her arms tightened about his neck. He lowered his head slowly, staring at the pale oval of her face—and so their lips met.