“Lay there, ye scum!” cried Black Dennis Nolan, breathing heavily, and wiping blood from his chin with the back of his hand. “Lay there an’ be damned to ye, if ye t’ink ye kin say ‘nay’ when Dennis Nolan says ‘aye.’ If it didn’t be for the childern ye bes father of, an’ yer poor, dacent woman, I’d t’row ye over the cliff.”
Foxey Jack Quinn was in no condition to reply to the skipper’s address. In fact, he did not hear a word of it. Two of the men picked him up and carried him down a steep and twisting path to his cabin at the back of the harbor, above the green water and the gray drying-stages, and beneath the edge of the vast and empty barren. He opened one eye as they laid him on the bed in the one room of the cabin. He glared up at the two men and then around at his horrified wife and children.
“Folks,” said he, “I’ll be sure the death o’ Black Dennis Nolan. Aye, so help me Saint Peter. I’ll send ‘im to hell, all suddent un’ unready, for the black deed he done this day!”
That was the first time the skipper showed the weight of his fist. His followers were impressed by the exhibition. The work went steadily on among the rocks in front of Chance Along for ten days, and then came twenty-four hours of furious wind and driving snow out of the northwest. This was followed by a brief lull, a biting nip of frost that registered thirty degrees below zero, and then fog and wind out of the east. After the snowy gale, during the day of still, bitter cold, relief parties went to Squid Beach and Nolan’s Cove and brought in the half-frozen watchers. For a day the look-out stations were deserted, the people finding it all they could do to keep from freezing in their sheltered cabins in Chance Along; but with the coming of the east wind and the fog, the huts of sods were again occupied.
The fog rolled in about an hour before noon; and shortly after midnight the man from Nolan’s Cove groped his way along the edge of the cliff, down the twisty path to the cluster of cabins, and to Black Dennis Nolan’s door. He pounded and kicked the door until the whole building trembled.
“What bes ye a-wantin’ now?” bawled the skipper, from within.
“I seed a blue flare an’ heared a gun a-firing to the sou’east o’ the cove,” bawled the visitor, in reply.
The skipper opened the door.
“Come in, lad! Come in!” he cried.
He lit a candle and set to work swiftly pulling on his outer clothes and sea-boots.
“There bes rum an’ a mug, Pat. Help yerself an’ then rouse the men,” he said. “Tell Nick Terry an’ Bill Brennen to get the gear together. Step lively! Rouse ’em out!”
Pat Lynch slopped rum into a tin mug, gulped it greedily, and stumbled from the candle-light out again to the choking fog. He would have liked to remain inside long enough to swallow another drain and fill and light his pipe; but with Black Dennis Nolan roaring at him like a walrus, he had not ventured to delay. He groped his way from cabin to cabin, kicking on doors and bellowing the skipper’s orders.