MARY KAVANAGH USES HER WITS
For half a minute the skipper was mad enough to kill the unconscious sailor with his hands and feet; but Mother Nolan and Mary Kavanagh together were equal to the task of holding him and bringing him to a glimmering of reason. Mother Nolan’s tongue did not spare him, even as her fingers had not spared poor, loyal Bill Brennen’s whiskers.
“Would ye be murderin’ him?” she cried. “An’ him helpless—aye, an’ a better man nor ye be yerself, Denny Nolan. Then ye be no blood an’ kin to me, ye great murderer! Didn’t he land ye on the flat o’ yer great back, ye limb, though ye took him all suddant an’ unawares? Sure, he did! Kill him, then; an’ ’twill be your own father’s mother goes to St. John’s to bring the police to hang ye up by yer cowardly neck. Aye, ye kin lay to that! What old Kate Nolan says she says, an’ the divil himself couldn’t make a liar of her!”
“I thought ye was a man, Denny, an’ fought like a man,” said Mary Kavanagh, in a low voice that shook with unuttered sobs; “but if ye strikes him now, a-layin’ there as harmless as a swile, then I’ll know ye for a coward an’ a murderer.”
The skipper looked down at Flora Lockhart, who knelt above Darling, weeping bitterly. His black eyes glowed and his face twisted and paled.
“If it had bin meself hit the blow that downed him, then I’d be finishin’ him,” he said, “but I don’t kill where I don’t down! I bain’t no coward, Mary Kavanagh, as well ye knows! Bes there any more o’ the likes of him a-sneakin’ ’round me own harbor?”
“He come alone,” said Mary. “He come alone, to find the girl ye’ve bin hidin’ an’ holdin’ in Chance Along till all her folks thinks she bes dead.”
“Sure, then, he found her,” snarled the skipper, “an’ little good ’twill be doin’ him!”
“Shame upon ye, Denny Nolan!” exclaimed the old woman. “Shame upon ye an’ yer lies an’ yer wicked, silly heart that t’ought to keep the likes o’ her forever in Chance Along. Ye bain’t able to fool old Kate Nolan wid yer lies! Sure, wasn’t I on to ye from the minute ye come home that ye’d not bin to Witless Bay wid the letter? I seed the lie writ across yer face, Denny Nolan. Shame upon ye to be tryin’ to bury the poor helpless girl alive!”
“Pick him up,” said the skipper, sullenly. “There bes grub enough an’ to spare to feed him an’ a hundred like him. Heave him up atween ye, men, an’ we’ll be lockin’ of him up in a safe place. Fetch along the lantern, Cormy, lad.”
John Darling opened his eyes at this moment, stared dizzily around him and struggled up to one elbow.
“Flora!” he cried. “Flora, where are you?”
The girl tried to go to him, but the skipper held her. Bill Brennen pressed the sailor back, and tied his wrists and ankles.
“Who carried the letter out to him?” demanded the skipper, gripping the girl’s shoulders with his great hands, and glaring down into her colorless face. For answer, she wrenched herself away, and struck him a stinging blow across the mouth with her right hand.