Mary was startled for a moment, then thoughtful. She had never before wondered what the great world of “Up-along”—which is everywhere south and east and west of Newfoundland, London, New York, Pernambuco, Halifax, Montreal, Africa, China and the lands and seas around and between—must think of the ships that sail away and never return. Wrecks had always seemed to her as natural as tides and storms. When the tide comes in who thinks of reporting it to the great world? Spars and shattered timbers come in on the tides; and sometimes hulls more or less unbroken; and sometimes living humans. Mary had seen something of these things herself and had heard much. She had never known of the spars or hulls being claimed by any person but the folk who found them and fought with the sea for them. She had seen shipwrecked sailors tarry awhile, take their food thankfully, and presently set out for St. John’s and the world beyond, by way of Witless Bay. None of them had ever come back to Chance Along.
“I bes sorry for ye wid my whole heart,” she said. “Yer folks will be mournin’ for ye, I fear—for how would they know ye was safe in Chance Along? But the saints have presarved your life, dear, an’ when spring-time comes then ye can sail ‘round to St. John’s an’ away to New York. But sure, we might have writ a letter about ye an’ carried it out to Witless Bay. The skipper can write.”
“I have been buried alive!” cried Flora, covering her face with her hands and weeping unrestrainedly.
Mary tried to comfort her, then left the room to find Mother Nolan. The old woman was in the kitchen, and Dennis was with her.
“She bes desperate wrought-up because—because her folks up-along will think she bes dead,” explained Mary. “She says she bes buried alive in Chance Along. Skipper, ye had best write a letter about herself an’ the wrack, an’ send it out. She bes a great person up-along.”
The skipper sprang to his feet, staring at her with a blank face and with defiance in his eyes.
“A letter!” he exclaimed, huskily. “No, by hell! Let ’em t’ink what they wants to! Bain’t Chance Along good enough for her?”
THE SKIPPER CARRIES A LETTER
Mary Kavanagh paled, flushed again, and lowered her eyes. Old Mother Nolan turned a searching glance upon her grandson—a glance with derision and something of pity in it.
“An’ how would Chance Along be good enough for the likes o’ her?” said she. “Denny Nolan, bes ye a fool entirely? Good enough for her, says ye—an’ her singin’ like a lark afore the young Queen herself, saints presarve her, wid the Prince an’ the dukes a-settin’ round in their grand gold crowns, a-t’rowin’ roses an’ jewels at her little feet! What bes Chance Along to her—aye, an’ any poor soul in it? We’ve give her life back to her, Denny, me lad, an’ now we’ll give herself back to the grand world o’ up-along, where great singers bes nigh the same as great ladies, as I have heard me own grandfather tell, who was once in Dublin a-holdin’ the gentry’s horses at the play-house door.”