“Good morning to ye, Pat Kavanagh,” said the skipper.
The poet blinked his eyes, thereby altering their expression from a shimmer to a gray, wise gleam.
“So it bes yerself, Skipper Denny,” he said. “Set down. Set down. Sure, b’y, I didn’t expect to see ye so spry to-day, an’ was just studyin’ out a few verses concernin’ death an’ pride an’ ructions that would keep yer memory green.”
“Whist, father!” exclaimed the girl.
“I bain’t dead, Pat, so ye kin set to on some new varses,” said the skipper. “If ye t’ought them poor fools ye heard yowlin’ last night was to be the death o’ me, then ye was on the wrong tack. But I bes here now to ax yer opinion concernin’ them same fools, Pat. Yesterday they raised a mutiny agin me, all along o’ a poor girl as I saved from the wrack, an’ last night an’ this mornin’ I larned ’em the error o’ their ways. Now ye was once a deep-sea sailorman, Pat, a-sailin’ foreign v’yages, an’ so I wants ye to tell me what I’d better be doin’ wid some o’ them squid? There was Foxey Jack Quinn; but he run away an’ done for himself in the flurry. Here bes Dick Lynch, nigh as treacherous an’ full o’ divilment as ever Jack was, growlin’ an’ snarlin’ at me heels like a starvin’ husky an’ showin’ his teeth every now an’ agin. So I wants to know, Pat, will I kill him dead or run him out o’ the harbor? I bes skipper here—aye, an’ more nor skipper—an’ all a man has to do to live safe an’ happy an’ rich in this harbor bes to do what I tells him to do—but this here Dick Lynch bain’t knowledgeable enough to see it. I’s had to bat him twice. Next time I bats him maybe I’d best finish the job? I puts it to ye, Pat Kavanagh, because ye knows the world an’ how sich things bes done aboard foreign-going ships.”
“This harbor bain’t no foreign-going ship, Denny,” replied the poet.
“True, Pat; but if I calls it a ship it bes the same as one!” retorted the skipper.
“If ye takes it that way, Denny, then ye’d best be handin’ the lad over to the jedges to be tried for mutiny,” suggested the other, quietly. “But if ye wants my opinion, ye’ll leave him be.”
“Leave him be?”
“Aye. He bain’t worth troublin’ about. Bat him now an’ agin, if he tries to knife ye, an’ maybe he’ll follow Jack Quinn. But this harbor bain’t a ship, lad. The skipper o’ a ship has the law to his back in cases o’ mutiny an’ the like—but the law bain’t behind ye, Dennis Nolan!”
“The divil fly away wid the law!” cried the skipper. “I bes skipper here! I makes the law for this harbor—an’ them as don’t like the laws I makes kin go somewheres else.”
“Leave him be, skipper. That bes what I tells ye, for yer own good. Don’t kill him. Ye kin break up desarted wracks; ye kin fill yer pockets wid gold; ye kin bat yer mates over the nob if ye wants to; but once ye gets to killin’ men, Denny Nolan, then ye’ll find the law to yer back sure enough, a-fixin’ a noose around yer neck! Aye, lad, that bes the truth! I warns ye because I likes ye—an’ I bes glad to see ye so prosperous.”