The launch sounded her steam whistle furiously. From both sides of the bay it was heard, screeching through the windy night like a fiend possessed, and men got up hastily to ask what was the matter. Another launch put out from Williamstown, and a police boat from Sandridge, and the anchored ships awoke and hailed them. Soon half-a-dozen boats were tossing about the spot; they tossed for two hours, and Bill Hardacre dived seven times with a rope round his waist, while the widowed young husband lay on the cabin floor between two doctors, the baby and the landlady’s cousin keening over him.
“Well,” said Dugald Finlayson, as at last they headed for Williamstown through the now lessening storm, with a bundle in tarpaulin beside them, “it do seem as if the Powers above take a pleasure in tripping us up when we least expect it.”
“Aye,” said Bill Hardacre, sitting crying in his wet clothes, “he said as we were starting he’d got all he wanted now. I thinks to myself at the time, thinks I, ‘That’s an unlucky thing to say.’” But who is to judge luck in this world? Poor little Lily Harrison was a helpless creature, and had almost ‘nothing in her’ except vanity.
Sincerely he believed, when he was on his feet again, that his life was wrecked for ever. He did suffer from insomnia, even with his splendid sea-seasoned constitution, for months, which proved the poignant insistency of his grief, making thinking a disease instead of a healthy function. He performed his duties mechanically, rigidly, like an engine stoked from the outside. He no longer had pleasure or interest in them. The flavour was gone from life; it had become a necessary burden, to be borne as best he could. At one time he even questioned the right of the Moral Law to ask him to bear it, under the circumstances. He used to look at the blue water beneath him, and long to be beneath it, sharing the fate of his loved and lost. He did not want to live without her— he wanted to die. At twenty-one!
At twenty-three he was a man again, physically and mentally sound, doing all reverence to the memory of his dead wife—a flawless angel in the retrospect—while finding natural solace in the company of living women who were also young and fair. The living women were much in evidence from the first; nothing but the sea could keep them from trying to comfort him. A big fellow, with a square, hard face, and a fist to fell an ox—that