“’Twas back in September, sir,” he said. “Sure, didn’t he put into Raggedy Cove one night—him an’ his fore-an’-after—bound from St. John’s, wid a freight o’ grub an’ gear. But what business would ye be havin’ wid the likes o’ him, sir?”
Darling ignored the question and asked another. No, George Wick was not familiar with the coast south of Witless Bay; but he had always heard that it was a desperate bad coast.
“What is your business in Witless Bay?” asked Darling.
The young fisherman pointed to four boxes of plug tobacco in the bottom of the bully.
“They bes for Skipper Walsh,” he said. “I trades ’em for fish, an’ then I heads back for Raggedy Cove.”
“If you will sail me right around to Chance Along I will pay you well for it,” said Darling. “My business in Chance Along is important—yes, very important. It would be worth five sovereigns to you, my man—that little trip.”
George Wick looked interested, but shook his head.
“It bes a bad coast, sir,” he said, “an’ clean unbeknownst to me. An’ now it would be desperate, sir, what wid the ice a-chokin’ all the little coves so ye couldn’t run in from a squall o’ wind, sir.”
“The shore-ice is gone, as you can see for yourself, and the drift-ice will not be down this way until near June,” replied Darling. “But don’t make any more excuses, George. You are not the man I want, anyway, for I see that you are no good for anything but asking questions. I’ll be able to find some lad in Witless Bay, with a boat of some sort, who isn’t afraid of the coast to the southward.”
George Wick sulked for a few minutes, then asked, “What bes yer business wid Black Dennis Nolan, anyhow, sir? Bes ye a constable, sir, or anything like that?”
“My business is of a private nature,” replied Mr. Darling. “I am a sailor, not a constable—an officer of the Merchant Marine.”
“Aye, sir, I knowed ye for a sailor,” said the other; “but there was a crew of constables along this way back in November, rigged out like fishermen an’ swearin’ as how they was fishermen. They went south; an’ they soon come back wid empty hands. We was all t’inkin’ in Raggedy Cove as how some vessel had maybe bin broke up afore it was deserted by the crew, as is the custom wid some folks in some harbors. An’ when I see ye wid business in Chance Along, sir—well, Black Dennis Nolan do surely look to me like a man who’d be breakin’ into a ship widout waitin’ for her crew to desart her.”