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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about The Harbor Master.
of seamanship of that day; but this was only his third voyage between London and the St. Lawrence, and the previous trips had been made in clear weather.  The gale had blown him many miles out of his course, and lost him his main-top-ga’ntsail yards and half of his mizzen-mast; the cold snap had weighted ship and rigging with ice, and now the fog and the uncharted deep-sea river had confused his reckoning utterly.  But even so, he might have been able to work his vessel out of the danger-zone had any signal been made from the coast in reply to his guns and flares.  Even if after the arrival of the men from Chance Along on the beach at Nolan’s Cove, the heaps of driftwood had been fired, he might have had time to pull his ship around to the north, drag out of the current that was speeding towards the hidden rocks, and so win away to safety.  There was wind enough for handling the ship, he knew all the tricks of cheating a lee-shore of its anticipated spoils, and the seas were not running dangerously high.  But his guns and flares went unanswered.  All around hung the black, blind curtains of the fog, cruelly silent, cruelly unbroken by any blink of flame.

Black Dennis Nolan and his men stood by the frozen land-wash, along which the currents snarled, and rolling seas, freighted with splinters of black sea-ice, clattered and sloshed, waiting patiently for their harvest from the vast and treacherous fields beyond.  A grim harvest!  Grim fields to garner from, wherein he who sows peradventure shall not reap, and wherein Death is the farmer!  Aye, and grim gleaners those who stand under the broken cliff of Nolan’s Cove, waiting and listening in the dark!

A dull, crashing, grinding sound set the black fog vibrating.  Then a brief clamor of panic-stricken voices rang in to the shore.  Silence followed that—­a silence that was suddenly broken by the thumping report of a cannon.  The light flared dimly in the fog.

“Quiet, lads!” commanded the skipper.  “Let the wood be till I gives ye the word.  She bes fast on the rocks, but she bain’t busted yet.”

“An’ she’ll not bust inside a week, i’ this sea,” said one of the men.  “Sure, skipper, the crew’ll be comin’ ashore i’ their boats afore long.  An’ they have their muskets an’ cutlasses wid them, ye kin lay to that.  None but fools would come ashore on this coast, from a wreck, widout their weepons.”

“Aye, an’ they’ll be carryin’ their gold an’ sich, too,” said the skipper.  “Lads, we’ll do our best—­an’ that bain’t fightin’ an’ killin’, i’ this case, but the usin’ o’ our wits.  Bill Brennen, tell off ten men an’ take ’em along the path to the south’ard wid ye.  Lay down i’ the spruce-tuck alongside the path, about t’ree miles along, an’ wait till these folks from the ship comes up to ye, wid four or five o’ our own lads a-leadin’ the way wid lanterns.  They’ll be totin’ a power o’ val’able gear along wid them, ye kin lay to that!  Lep out onto ’em, widout a word, snatch the gear an’ run fair south along the track, yellin’ like hell.  Then stow the noise all of a suddent, get clear o’ the track an’ work back to this Chance Along wid the gear.  Don’t bat any o’ the ship’s crew over the head if ye bain’t forced to it.  The gear bes the t’ing we wants, lads.”

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