“Lad,” said he, “ye must be full o’ the divil’s own ginger to cross the skipper as ye done. Sure an’ the wonder bes why he didn’t kill ye dead! But now that ye still be alive, him not killin’ ye in the first flush, ye bes safe as Mother Nolan herself. A divil o’ a woman that, entirely. Saints in glory, me whiskers still aches desperate! Here bes a grand rug for ye to lay on, an’ blankets to cover yerself wid. The skipper sent ’em. Kill a man he will, in fair fight; but it bain’t in his nature to let any man go cold nor hungry in Chance Along.”
He spread the caribou skin and one of the blankets on the floor and rolled John Darling on to them. Then he threw two more blankets over him and tucked them in. Next, he produced a flask from his pocket and uncocked it.
“Skipper’s orders,” he said, and held the flask to the helpless one’s lips.
“Now ye bes as snug as any marchant, what wid yer grand bed an’ yer drop o’ fine liquor in yer belly,” he remarked. He turned at the door and said, “Some one will be bringin’ ye grub in the mornin’. Good night to ye.”
From that until morning, the prisoner on the floor, bound at wrist and ankle, rested more peacefully than Black Dennis Nolan in his father’s bed; for the sailor was only sore in his muscles and bones, but the skipper ached in heart and soul. The skipper tossed through the black hours, reasoning against reason, hoping against hopelessness. The girl hated him and despised him! Twist and turn as he might, he could not escape from this conviction. Now he even doubted the power of the diamonds and rubies to win her, having seen that in her eyes which had brought all his dreams crumbling to choking dust. Pain had laid the devil of fury in him and aroused the imp of stubbornness. He would wait and watch. He was safe to keep them both in the harbor until the arrival of Father McQueen, in June; and perhaps, by that time, he would see some way of winning the girl. Should the necklace of diamonds and rubies fail to impress the girl, then he might bribe John Darling with it to leave the harbor. You see, the workings of the skipper’s mind were as primitive as his methods of coping with mutineers.
The skipper left his bed and the house at the first gray of dawn, determined to search the coast high and low for a solution of the mystery of the stranger’s arrival. He went down between the silent cabins, all roofed with new snow, and the empty snow-trimmed stages, and looked out upon the little harbor. What was that, just at the edge of the shadow of the rock to the right of the narrow passage?—a boat, lump of wreckage or a shadow? Stare as he would, he could not determine the nature of the thing in that faint and elfin twilight; but it drew his eye and aroused his curiosity as no natural shadow of any familiar rock could have done. He dragged a skiff from under one of the stages and launched it into the quiet harbor and with a single oar over the stern sculled out toward the black object on the steel-gray tide. It proved to be a fine bully, empty and with the frozen painter hanging over the bow and trailing alongside.