Black Dennis Nolan brooded all day by the stove with his big hands clasped idly between his knees. The grandmother sat near him, in a tattered armchair, smoking her pipe and mumbling wise saws and broken stories of the past.
“I bes a storm-child,” she mumbled. “Aye, sure, wasn’t I born a night in winter wid jist sich a flurry as this one howlin’ over Chance Along—aye, an’ wid a caul over me face. So I has the power o’ seein’ the fairies.” And then, “me man were bigger nor ye, Denny. Skipper Tim, he were. Built the first fore-an’-after on this coast, he did.” And later—“There bain’t no luck in diamonds. The divil bes in ’em.”
Young Cormick sat on the other side of the stove, busily carving a block of wood with a clasp-knife.
FATHER MCQUEEN VISITS HIS FLOCK
After the storm from the northwest had blown itself out, a spell of soft weather set in along the coast. East and southeast winds brought fog and mild rains, the ice rotted along the land-wash and the snow dwindled from the barrens and left dripping hummocks and patches of black bog exposed. The wreck in Nolan’s Cove had gone to pieces during the blizzard, sunk its cargo of pianos, manufactured cotton and hardware in six fathoms of water and flung a liberal proportion of its spars and timbers ashore.
Black Dennis Nolan felt as sure that Jack Quinn had perished in the storm as if he had seen him prone and stiff under the drifting snow. The fool had left the harbor that night, sometime before the onslaught of the blizzard, but after midnight to a certainty. He had gone out—and he had not returned! There could be no doubt about his miserable fate. The skipper pictured him in his clear mind as lying somewhere out on the barrens with the red-bound casket clutched in a frozen hand. So the skipper devoted a day to searching for him over the thawing, sodden wilderness behind the harbor. He took Bill Brennen and Nick Leary with him. The other men did not grumble at being left behind, perhaps because they were learning the unwisdom of grumbling against the skipper’s orders, more likely because they did not care a dang if Foxey Jack Quinn was ever found or not, dead or alive. Quinn had not been popular. The skipper informed his two companions that the missing man had broken into his house and robbed him of an article of great value.
“We bes sure to find him somewheres handy,” said Bill Brennen. “Foxey Jack was always a fool about the weather—didn’t know east from west when the wind blowed. What was it he robbed from ye, skipper?”
“Whatever it was, ye’ll both git yer share if we finds it,” replied the skipper. “More nor that I bain’t willin’ to say.”