Garrity Asks a Favor
THE schooner was heading into the south, her decks bathed scarlet in the glow of sunset. Behind her, débris littered the heaving seas—débris of the old Kum Chao.
In the stern of the schooner, gazing back upon that scene of wreckage and desolation, stood Venable, much bandaged about the arms and throat. There under the water had vanished the passions of men, assailed by the clean sea; there had gone down Jason and Abe Gerin and the others, good and bad intermingled. Venable breathed a prayer as he stood, his rugged face lined with sadness. That memory of Boris Kryalpin was to him like an evil dream. The prayer that he uttered was for himself.
A hand touched his arm, and he turned to meet the eyes of Mrs. Ivanoff.
Wordless, they stood—a mute communion that could find no paltry words wherein to express itself. Grave and starry-eyed, Mrs. Ivanoff lowered her gaze to Venable’s bandaged arms, and a slow tide of color came into her face.
“I hope—your injuries are not paining you—” she hesitated, lifting her eyes again.
“I’d forgotten them.” Venable smiled a little, and brought an answering hint of radiance to her features. “I did not dream, all the while, that you had any plan—that there was any salvation for us! It was so desperate, so hopeless—”
“That was why I had to do something,” she said simply. “Stormalong thought the engines could be made to do a little work—and they paid no attention to Li John, up on the bridge, until we were heading for the schooner. Well, no matter, it is all done with.”
GARRITY stood behind them, clearing his throat. They turned to meet his grin, and he ruffled up his red mop of hair in some confusion.
“Beg pardon,” he said, “but I’ve a bit favor to ask of ye, Parson! Ye mind, now, that when we reach Guam or wherever we’re goin’, there’s goin’ to be hard words said and no end of investigatin’ and all the likes o’ that. Well, we’ll come out clear enough—that is, all of us except may be Marie.”
“We’ll take care of her,” said Mrs. Ivanoff. But Garrity shook his head.
“If it’s all the same to ye, ma’am, I’d rather be doin’ that meself. I’ve had a talk with Marie, now, and—and—well, Parson, we thought that ye might stretch a point or two and sort o’ make up for all the time we’ve spent, the two of us.”
“What on earth are you driving at?” demanded Venable, astonished. But Mrs. Ivanoff caught his arm, laughter dimpling in her face.
“Don’t you see? Don’t be blind—I’ll go and help Marie get ready!”
“Wait a minute!” cried Garrity hastily, but she merely laughed at him and departed. The brick-red engineer turned to Venable with a gesture of helplessness.
“Aint that like a woman, now? I wasn’t meanin’ to be hasty in the matter, but she up an’ flies off the handle.”
“Look here!” exclaimed Venable. “What do you mean, old man? Not that you and Marie want to be—”
“Sure! Ye see, Parson, it was a consul married us before, and a long time ago; and now that you’re here and with us, why, if we were married right when we hit Guam, then Marie bein’ an American citizen that way—”
“Oh! Is that the only reason you have for marrying?” There was a twinkle in Venable’s eye. “Merely for the sake of expediency?”
“No!” blurted Garrity, flushing anew. “For the sake o’ bein’ married! And listen to me now, Parson; there’s another favor I want to be askin’ of ye.”
“Speak it out,” said Venable, laughing.
“Well, when you and Mrs. Ivanoff make up your minds,—you know!—Marie and me want to be in on the— Wait till I get through, will ye now? It’s like this: Marie has one o’ them Roosian jools,—the Shrivan diamond, she calls it, or some such name,—and she wants to be rid of the whole thing, in a way. The other stuff went down with Captain Moto, ye mind.
“Well, Marie says that she’s wanting to give this here diamond ring to Mrs. Ivanoff to go in with what the lady’s got in that trunk of hers up for’ard. So, nobody bein’ blind to the lay o’ the land, Parson, if you’ll marry us here and now, then let us help you and Mrs. Ivanoff get spliced at Guam—”
“For heaven’s sake, shut your mouth!” exclaimed Venable. “Mrs. Ivanoff is coming with Marie.”
“Oh, that’s all right,” said Garrity, and winked. “D’ye mind, Marie is goin’ to break some o’ the news to Mrs. Ivanoff, to help ye out, as it were. Now don’t be too sudden in the matter, Parson; but when ye do pop the question—”
Venable took a step forward, and Garrity, turning, fled hastily. He joined Marie, and they went forward together. But Venable, conscious only of the great impulse drumming in his brain, gazed across the deck at Mrs. Ivanoff.
She came to meet him, smiling.