After we left Biddy we went to seek decent lodgings for the night. For Dennis was anxious to see her again in the morning, and of course I stayed with him.
“Had you ever seen her before?” I asked, as we walked.
“Not to remember her. But, Jack, it wasn’t Barney I saw in that first dream. It was Bridget.”
Dennis was full of plans for getting her home with him to Ireland; but when we went back next day, we found a crowd round the archway that led into the court. Prominent in the group was the woman who “cared for” Biddy. Her baby was crying, her children were crying, and she was crying too. And with every moment that passed the crowd grew larger and larger, as few things but bad news can make a crowd grow.
We learnt it very quickly. Biddy had been so much cheered up by our visit, that when the woman went out to buy supper for them, she did not lock the door. When she came back, Biddy was gone. To do her neighbours justice, we could not doubt—considering how they talked then—that they had made inquiries in all the streets and courts around.
“And wherever t’ owld lass can ha’ gone!” sobbed the woman who had been her neighbour in the noblest sense of neighbourhood.
I was beginning to comfort her when Dennis gripped me by the arm:
“I know,” said he. “Come along.”
His face was white, his eyes shone, and he tossed his head so wildly, he looked madder than Biddy had looked; but when he began to run, and roughs in the streets began to pursue him, I ran too, as a matter of safety. We drew breath at the dock gates.
The gatekeeper told us that old Biddy, “looking quite herself, only a bit thinner like,” had gone through the evening before, to meet some one who was coming off one of the vessels, as he understood, but he had not noticed her on her return. He had heard her ask some man about a ship from New York.
I wanted to hear more, but Dennis clutched me again and dragged me on.
“I’ll know the wharf when I see it,” said he.
Suddenly he stopped, and pointed. A wharf, but no vessel, only the water sobbing against the stones.
“That’s the wharf,” he gasped. “That’s where he sat and looked down. She’s there!”
* * * * *
He was right. We found her there at ebb of tide, with no sign of turmoil or trouble about her, except the grip that never could be loosened with which she held Micky’s one letter fast in her hand.
“Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
The lighthouse-top I see?
Is this the hill? Is this the Kirk?
Is this mine own countree?
We drifted o’er the harbour bar,
And I with sobs did pray—
O let me be awake, my GOD!
Or let me sleep alway.”
The Ancient Mariner.