A dawn wind, blowing gently out of the west, began to thin and lift the dripping fog. Out from the dark that hedged in the fire crawled six vague shapes which, as they came into the illuminated zone, proved to be Black Dennis Nolan and five of his men of Chance Along with ropes in their hands. They stooped over the blanket-swathed sleepers, working quickly and cunningly with the ropes. They also bandaged the eyes and mouths of the unconscious mariners with strips of blanket. By this time the light on the stranded ship was burning low. The skipper and his companions examined the four boats, dragged one of them down to the edge of the tide and launched it. The fog was thinning swiftly, and a gray pallor was spreading in the east and south. They manned the boat and pulled out for the wreck, following the dripping hawser.
The wreck lay across a sunken rock, listed heavily to port. Her spars were all over the side, a tangled mass washing and beating about in the seas. A snag of rock had been driven clean through the timbers of the port-bow. Black Dennis Nolan and his companions managed to get aboard at last. A fire of rags and oil still burned in an iron tub on the main deck. They went forward to the galley for a lamp, and with this entered the cabins aft. Dennis Nolan led the way. The captain’s room was empty. They found and examined the quarters of the passengers. Clothing and bedding were tossed about in disorder, and it seemed that everything of value had been collected and carried away. They gathered up a couple of silk gowns and a fur-lined cloak, however. The skipper was shaking out the sheets from a berth when he felt something strike the toe of his boot. He stooped quickly, recovered a small box bound in red leather, and slipped it in his pocket. The others had observed nothing of this. In another cabin, they found the passengers’ heavy baggage packed in about a dozen big leather boxes. They carried these to the main deck without waiting to open them. By this time the dawn was an actual, dreary-gray fact, and the fog was no more than a thin mist.
“Now for the cargo, lads,” said the skipper.
They removed the tarpaulins from the main hatch, and broke it open. With the lamp in his left hand, the skipper descended into the hold by way of the stationary iron ladder.
“Pianeys,” he shouted.
“Hell!” exclaimed the men on deck, in voices of disgust.
The skipper returned to the deck, after about ten minutes in the hold.
“The cargo bain’t o’ no use to us, lads,” he said. “Pianeys, engines, an’ fancy-goods.”
They broke open the lazarette and found several cases of wines and brandy, and a quantity of provisions of superior quality. They lowered the passengers’ baggage into the boat and pulled ashore through the spouting, slobbering rocks and reefs. In a second trip they salvaged the spirits and provisions. They carried boxes, cases and crates up to the barren, and hid them in a thicket of dense spruce-tuck, and concealed their gear of lines and boat-hooks in the same place.