“Grand altogether,” said the old woman, returning to the stove and the pot of stew.
“Aye,” said young Cormick, “she was singin’ to-day fit to drag the heart o’ ye out t’rough yer ears. Sure, Denny, if ye heard a fairy singin’ ’twould sound no grander!”
“Aye, like a fairy,” agreed the old woman, wagging her head. “I bain’t wonderin’ a mite at how she brought the salt tears a-hoppin’ out o’ the eyes o’ the blessed Queen herself! An’ she was that happy, Denny, a-t’inkin’ o’ how her letter to up-along was safe an’ sure on its way, that didn’t she have Pat Kavanagh down wid his fiddle, an’ atween the two o’ ’em they made the finest music was ever heard on this coast. Her heart bes fair set on up-along, Denny, an’ on what she calls her career, meanin’ songs an’ glory an’ money an’ her name on the lips o’ men.”
The skipper was silent for a moment after that, staring at the floor. He raised his eyes to the old woman and found that she was gazing at him fixedly.
“Sure, an’ why for not?” he said. “An’ what bes she doin’ now?”
“Sleepin’,” replied Mother Nolan. “Sleepin’ an’ dreamin’ o’ up-along an’ all her grand friends.”
A scowl darkened the skipper’s eyes and brow, but he had no remark to make on the matter of the lady’s dreams. He threw aside his outer coat, ate his supper, smoked his pipe, and at last retired to his bed. In the meantime, Nick Leary had taken word to Pat and Mary Kavanagh that the skipper was home in Chance Along, safe and sound, having missed Dick Lynch by shaping his course westward to spy out timber. Mary’s face brightened at the news. Pat glanced at her, then nodded his tangled head toward Leary.
“The skipper bes still alive an’ the letter bes gone on its way,” he said. “So, come spring, they be takin’ that singin’ lady wid the eyes o’ magic away from Chance Along. Maybe they’ll be comin’ for her widout waitin’ for spring? She bes a wonder at the singin’, an’ no mistake—the best I ever hear in all me v’yages into foreign ports. An’ the looks o’ her! Holy saints, they bain’t scarce human!”
Nick Leary grinned through his bandage.
“Aye, Pat, ye’ve got the discarnin’ eye in yer head—ye an’ the skipper,” he said. “However the skipper kep’ himself away from Chance Along for t’ree entire days, wid herself a-singin’ an’ a-flashin’ her eyes right in his own house, bes a puzzle to me. Aye, sure it do, for didn’t I see her put the spell o’ women on to him the very first minute she opened her eyes at him on the fore-top o’ the wrack.”
“Leave the skipper be, Nick Leary,” said Mary. “Never half a word would ye be sayin’ if he could hear ye. Leave him an’ his business be. He bes a good friend to ye—aye, an’ to every soul in the harbor who don’t cross him.”
“Sure, Mary, I bain’t meanin’ naught,” returned Nick. “Sure he bes a good friend to me!”
Pat Kavanagh smiled and took up his fiddle and his bow. His hands were still for a minute, and then the instrument began to sigh and trill. The sounds gathered in strength, soared high, then thinned and sank to no more than the whisper of a tune—and then Pat began to sing. This is part of what he sang:—