“Come aboard, sir! Come aboard wid ye!” exclaimed Wick, in a trembling voice. “It bain’t no affair of our’n, sir—an’ there bes the divil’s own luck in finding a dead man unexpected.”
Mr. Darling crossed the land-wash without another word, waded knee-deep into the tide, and climbed aboard the boat. George Wick poled the bully clear of the surf with one of the oars, then jumped forward and hoisted the red sail. Darling drew his chart from his pocket, examined it, then raised his glasses and studied the coast-line to the southward. The wind was light, but dead on shore. The bully hauled across it cleverly. A whitish gray haze stood along the sky-line to the east.
“We’ll be havin’ thick weather afore sun-down, sir, wid this wind holdin’,” said Wick.
Darling nodded. “We must be getting pretty close to Chance Along,” he said. “Yes, there is smoke. Can you see it?”
George could not make it out with his unassisted eyes, but through the glasses he saw the blue reek of wood-smoke above a distant point of the coast easily enough. An hour later the bully threaded the rocks off Squid Beach. Dick Lynch had spoken of these rocks when the rum was warm in his head, in the tap-room of the Ship Ahoy, and Darling had marked them on his chart.
“We are within two miles of it,” said Darling, his voice husky with emotion at thought of Flora Lockhart.
George Wick turned his face toward the east and the white wall of fog that now rolled upon the gray water within a mile of the coast.
“Aye, sir; but we’ll not be makin’ it afore the fog catches us,” he replied.
“That will not bother my plans,” said Darling. “I don’t intend to sail right into Chance Along, anyway. I want to pay a surprise visit. We’ll find a bit of a cove along here somewhere, I think.”
He was right. About a mile and a half beyond the Squid Rocks they found a little sheltered cove that was no more than a pocket in the cliff. The beach was narrow, and a glance disclosed the fact that at every full tide it was entirely submerged; but a “drook” or a narrow cleft, thickly grown with hardy bushes, led up from the land-wash to the barrens above. They lowered the sail and nosed their way into the cove. The streaming skirmishers of the fog were over them by this time. They beached the bully at the foot of the drook and made her fast.
“Keep everything aboard, and make yourself snug,” said Mr. Darling. “Watch the tide. Haul in and back off with it; and, whatever you do, lie low and keep quiet. I am going to take a look at Chance Along—on the sly, you understand. You’ll know all about it later. Don’t worry if I don’t get back within the next two or three hours.”
“Ye bes after Black Dennis Nolan, sir,” said Wick.
Mr. Darling nodded, placed two loaded pistols in his pocket and vanished up the tangled slope of the drook. Wick listened to the upward scrambling until it suddenly died away and fog and silence covered him deep like a flood. Then he filled and lit his pipe and sat down in the shelter of a tarpaulin to think it over. He sensed danger in the blind choking air. He felt anxiety for his companion and fear for himself; but curiosity and a natural courage fortified him to a certain degree.