When she reached the head of the drook she halted and gave ear. The sloshing and lapping of the tide came up to her; and that was all for a minute or two. She parted the alders and young birches with her hands, very cautiously, and moved downward into the thicket for a distance of three or four yards, then halted again and again listened. At last, above the noises of the tide and almost smothered by them, she heard a sound unmistakably human—a violent sneeze. For a little while she remained quiet, daunted by the darkness and trying to consider the risks she was about to take. But the risks could not be considered, for they were absolutely unknown. She was playing for peace and justice, however—yes, and for Denny Nolan’s happiness. Mastering her fear, she whistled softly. After a minute’s silence a guarded voice replied to the whistle.
“Be that yerself, sir?” inquired the voice from the blackness below.
She descended lower, parting the tangled growth before her with her hands.
“I bes a friend—an’ a woman,” she said. “I comes wid a word for ye, from him.”
“Stand where ye bes!” commanded George Wicks, his voice anxious and suspicious. “What the divil bes the trouble now? Stand where ye bes an’ tell me the word.”
“I bes all alone, so help me Peter!” replied the girl, “an’ it bain’t safe the way we bes talkin’ now, up an’ down the drook. The lads o’ the harbor may be comin’ this way an’ a-hearin’ us—an’ then ye’ll bes in as bad a way as the captain himself. Let me come down to ye. Bes ye afeared o’ one lone woman?”
“Come down wid ye, then,” said George, his voice none too steady, “but I warns ye as how I hes a lantern here an’ a pistol, an’ if ye bain’t all alone by yerself I’ll shoot ye like a swile an’ ax ye yer business afterwards. I’s heard queer t’ings o’ Chance Along!”
“I bes alone,” returned Mary, “an’ if ye fires yer pistol at me then ye bes a dirty coward.”
As she spoke she continued her difficult way down the channel of the drook. She saw the yellow gleam of the lantern between the snarled stems of the bushes. Strong, clear-headed and brave as she was, she began now to sob quietly with fright; yet she continued to push her way down the drook.
“They—they has caught the captain,” she said, brokenly, “an’ now they bes huntin’ all ’round the harbor for his boat. I has—come to tell ye—an’ to help ye.”
George Wick parted the bushes, raised his lantern and peered up at her.
“There bain’t no call for ye to be cryin’,” he said, in a changed voice. “If ye means no treachery, lass, then I’ll not be hurtin’ ye.”
She stood beside him; and as he stared at her by the yellow light of the lantern all thought of treachery from that quarter faded away. His heart warmed and got a trifle out of hand. He could scarcely believe his senses, and for a moment forgot John Darling and the queer stories he had heard of Chance Along. All he realized was that his eyes and the lantern told him that the finest looking girl he had ever seen had come down the drook, all of her own free will, to pay him a visit.