Her small face was pinched by cold and age, but her black eyes were alive and erect.
“The mats be squirmin’ and flappin’ on the floor like live fish,” she exclaimed. “Saints presarve all poor creatures abroad this day on sea or land! They’ll be starved to death wid the cold, Denny, for bain’t I most blowed out o’ my bed right in this grand house?”
The skipper realized that the room was colder than the middle apartment of the cabin had any right to be. He went to the window and examined it. The small frame was as tight in the wall as a dozen spikes and a liberal daubing of tar could make it. It had never been opened since the building of the house.
“The wind blows under Father McQueen’s door like spray from the land-wash,” said the old woman.
“‘Twill be comin’ down the chimbly,” said Dennis, aware of the tide of icy wind low about his feet. He crossed the room and opened the door of the dismal chamber reserved for the use of the missionary. The sash of the window hung inward, the woodwork splintered and the spikes twisted, admitting a roaring current of wind and powdery snow. With a cry of consternation and rage the skipper sprang in, banged and bolted the door behind him, and went straight to the rafter across the middle of the ceiling. He removed the square of wood—and the hollow behind it was empty! For a moment he stood with his empty hand in the empty hiding-place, unable to move or think because of the terrific emotions which surged through him. At last he went over to the chimney and examined it. The bag of gold was in its place.
DEAD MAN’S DIAMONDS
Now I must hark back a few hours to the time when the skipper and his lieutenants were on their way to the barrens behind Nolan’s Cove to safeguard the interests of the harbor by changing the hiding-place of the common treasure of jewelry. They had not been gone half an hour from Chance Along before Foxey Jack Quinn slipped from his cabin and glided, like a darker shadow in the darkness, to the skipper’s house. He was not ignorant of his enemy’s departure southward. He knew that both young Cormick and old Mother Nolan were heavy sleepers; and, earlier in the evening, he had seen something through the window of the guest-chamber that had aroused his curiosity and a passion of avarice.
Foxey Jack Quinn was warmly clothed. His rackets and a light pack were on his back and his pockets were stuffed with food and a flask of rum. He was armed with a hatchet. He crouched beside the window of the empty room for several minutes, listening intently and fearfully. At last he wedged the strong blade of his hatchet between the sash of the window and the frame and prised inward, steadily and cautiously. With a shrill protest of frosted spikes the lower part of the sash gave by an inch or two. He devoted another minute to listening, then