It took him fifteen minutes to find Pat Kavanagh’s shanty and locate the door of it, so blinding and choking was the storm. He pushed the door open, stumbled into the warmth, and slammed the timbers shut behind him. Mary was sewing beside the stove, and Pat was mumbling over the first verse of a new “come-all-ye.” They looked up at the skipper in astonishment.
“What the divil bes troublin’ ye, Denny Nolan, to fetch ye out o’ yer own house sich a day as this?” demanded the ex-sailorman. “Bes there anything the matter wid that grand young lady from up-along?”
The skipper removed his cap and with it beat the snow from his limbs and body. He breathed heavily from his struggle with the storm. Mary eyed him anxiously, her hands idle in her lap.
“I’s come to fetch yer over to me own house—ye an’ yer fiddle,” said Nolan.
“The divil ye has!” retorted Pat Kavanagh. “Saints presarve ye, lad, what kind o’ rum has ye bin a-drinkin’ of this mornin’ already?”
“Herself bes wantin’ ye, Pat—ye an’ yer fiddle, for to have a concert wid,” said the skipper, with childlike trust and delight in his voice.
“Skipper, dear, would ye be haulin’ me an’ me wooden leg out into sich a desperate flurry as this here?” inquired Pat, aghast. “Saints be good to ye, skipper, but I’d die in me tracks!”
Some of the foolish delight went out of Nolan’s face. His lips closed and his black eyes began to glint like moonshine on new ice.
“It bain’t no more nor a step or two,” he said. “If ye can’t walk it yerself, Pat,—ye an’ yer wooden leg,—then I kin tote ye on me back.”
“Sure ye kin go, father; an’ I’ll be goin’ along wid the two o’ ye,” said Mary. “The poor lass bes wantin’ amusement, an’ it be but right for us all to give it her. Music an’ a concert she bes wantin’ to keep up her poor little heart agin the storm. Sure, an’ why not? Did ye think for her—a slip o’ a grand concert-singer from up-along—to have a heart for the wind an’ snows o’ Chance Along?”
Pat grumbled. The skipper looked at Mary.
“There bain’t nothin’ wrong wid her heart,” he said.
“Sure there bain’t,” agreed Mary. “Her poor little heart bes jist sick to death o’ Chance Along—an’ what else would ye look for? Sprees an’ company she must be havin’, day after day, an’ night after night, like what she has always had. It bes our duty to amuse her, father, an’ feed her an’ nurse her, till her grand folks up-along takes her away.”
The skipper was not altogether satisfied with Mary’s words. They did not seem to voice his own ideas on the subject at all, though they were evidently intended to agree with his attitude toward the singer. They had a back-snap to them that he mistrusted.
Half an hour later all three were safe in the skipper’s kitchen, breathless and coated with snow. Flora welcomed Mary with a kiss.
“What a beauty you are,” she exclaimed.