Moran of the Lady Letty HTML version

IV. Moran
Meanwhile Charlie had brought the "Bertha Millner" up to within hailing distance of the
bark, and had hove her to. Kitchell ordered Wilbur to return to the schooner and bring
over a couple of axes.
"We'll have to knock holes all through the house, and break in the skylights and let the
gas escape before we can do anything. Take the kid over and give him whiskey; then
come along back and bear a hand."
Wilbur had considerable difficulty in getting into the dory from the deck of the plunging
derelict with his dazed and almost helpless charge. Even as he slid down the rope into
the little boat and helped the girl to follow, he was aware of two dull, brownish-green
shadows moving just beneath the water's surface not ten feet away, and he knew that
he was being stealthily watched. The Chinamen at the oars of the dory, with that
extraordinary absence of curiosity which is the mark of the race, did not glance a
second time at the survivor of the "Lady Letty's" misadventure. To them it was evident
she was but a for'mast hand. However, Wilbur examined her with extraordinary interest
as she sat in the sternsheets, sullen, half-defiant, half-bewildered, and bereft of speech.
She was not pretty--she was too tall for that--quite as tall as Wilbur himself, and her
skeleton was too massive. Her face was red, and the glint of blue ice was in her eyes.
Her eyelashes and eyebrows, as well as the almost imperceptible down that edged her
cheek when she turned against the light, were blond almost to whiteness. What beauty
she had was of the fine, hardy Norse type. Her hands were red and hard, and even
beneath the coarse sleeve of the oilskin coat one could infer that the biceps and
deltoids were large and powerful. She was coarse-fibred, no doubt, mentally as well as
physically, but her coarseness, so Wilbur guessed, would prove to be the coarseness of
a primitive rather than of a degenerate character.
One thing he saw clearly during the few moments of the dory's trip between bark and
schooner--the fact that his charge was a woman must be kept from Captain Kitchell.
Wilbur knew his man by now. It could be done. Kitchell and he would take the "Lady
Letty" into the nearest port as soon as possible. The deception would have to be
maintained only for a day or two.
He left the girl on board the schooner and returned to the derelict with the axes. He
found Kitchell on the house, just returned from a hasty survey of the prize.
"She's a daisy," vociferated the Captain, as Wilbur came aboard. "I've been havin' a
look 'round. She's brand-new. See the date on the capst'n-head? Christiania is her
hailin' port--built there; but it's her papers I'm after. Then we'll know where we're at.
How's the kid?"