“Bat ’em agin whilst their heads bes still sore,” said Bill—which is only another and more original way of saying, “Strike while the iron is hot.”
“When ye give ’em all the money, skipper, they sure t’ought ye was bewitched,” said Nick Leary. “They t’ought ye was under a spell—an’ next they was t’inkin’ as how the gold sure had a curse on to it or ye wouldn’t give it to ’em.”
The skipper nodded. “I was too easy wid ’em!” he said. “Sure, b’ys, I’ll be mendin’ it.”
Bill and Nick departed at last; Cormick ascending the ladder to his bed in the loft; Mother Nolan brewed a dose of herbs of great virtue—she was wise in such things—and still the skipper sat by the stove and smoked his pipe. Never before had his life known another such day as this. Now he could have sworn that a whole month had passed since he had been awakened by news of the wreck under the cliff, and again it seemed as swift and dazzling as the flash of the powder in the pan of his old sealing-gun when the spark flies from the flint. It had certainly been an astonishing day! He had saved a life. He had seen those wonderful, pale lids blink open and the soul sweep back into those wonderful eyes. He had been elbow to elbow with violent death. He had struggled submerged in water tinged with blood. He had known exultation, anger and something which a less courageous man would have accepted for defeat. He had suffered a mutiny—and later, in a few violent, reckless minutes of action he had broken it—or cowed it at least. Now he felt himself master of the harbor again, but not the master of his own destiny. He did not sum up his case in these terms; but this is what it came to. Destiny was a conviction with him, and not a word at all—a nameless conviction. He did not consider the future anew; but he felt, without analyzing it, a breathless, new curiosity of what the morrow might hold for him. This sensation was in connection with the girl. Apart from her, his old plans and ambitions stood. He felt no uncertainty and no curiosity concerning the morrow’s dealings with the men. He considered it a commonplace subject. He would act upon Bill Brennen’s advice and visit the mutineers at an early hour; and as to the wreck?—well, if conditions proved favorable he would break out the cargo and see what could be made of it.
Mother Nolan entered with an empty cup in her hand.
“She took her draught like a babe, an’ bes sleepin’ agin peaceful as an angel,” she whispered. “Mind ye makes no noise, Denny. No more o’ yer fightin’ an’ cursin’ this night!”