"Well?" queried Harrigan, seeing McTee frown.
"We can live here," explained the captain, "but God knows how long it
will be before we sight a ship. Our only hope is for some tramp
freighter that's trying to find a short cut through the reefs. Even if
we sight a tramp, how'll we signal her?"
"With a fire."
"Aye, if one passes at night. We could stack up wood on the top of this
hill. The island isn't charted. If a skipper saw a light, he might take
a chance and send a boat. But how could we kindle a fire?"
They went slowly down the hill, their heads bent. At the base, as if
placed in their path to cheer them in this moment of gloom, they found
a spring. It ran a dozen feet and disappeared into a crevice. They
cupped the water in their hands and drank long and deep. When they
stood up again, McTee dropped a hand on Harrigan's shoulder. He said:
"You've cause enough for hating me."
"Pal," said Harrigan, "you're nine parts devil, but the part of you
that's a man makes up for all the rest."
McTee brooded: "Now we're standing on the rim of the world, and we've
got to be brother to each other. But what if we get off the
island - there's small chance of it, but what if we should? Would we
remember then how we took hands in the trough of the sea?"
Harrigan raised his hand.
"So help me God - " he began.
"Wait!" broke in McTee. "Don't say it. Suppose we get off the island,
and when we reach port find one thing which we both want. What then?"
Harrigan remembered a word from the Bible.
"I'll never covet one of your belongin's, McTee, an' I'll never cross
"Your hair is red, Harrigan, and mine is black; your eye is blue and
mine is black. We were made to want the same thing in different ways.
I've never met my mate before. I can stand it here on the rim of the
world - but in the world itself - what then, Harrigan?"
They stepped apart, and the glance of the black eye crossed that of the
"Ah-h, McTee, are ye dark inside and out? Is the black av your eye the
same as the soot in your heart?"
"Harrigan, you were born to fight and forget; I was born to fight and
remember. Well, I take no oath, but here's my hand. It's better than
the oath of most men."
"A strange fist," grinned Harrigan; "soft in the palm and hard over the
knuckles - like mine."
They went down the hill toward the beach, Harrigan singing and McTee
silent, with downward head. On the beach they started for some rocks
which shelved out into the water, for it was possible that they might
find some sort of shellfish on the rocks below the surface of the
water. Before they reached the place, however, McTee stopped and
pointed out across the waves. Some object tossed slowly up and down a
short distance from the beach.
"From the wreck," said McTee. "I didn't think it would drift quite as
fast as this."
They waded out to examine; the water was not over their waists when
they reached it. They found a whole section from the side of the
wheelhouse, the timbers intact.
_On it lay Kate Malone, unconscious._
Manifestly she never could have kept on the big fragment during the
night of the storm had it not been for a piece of stout twine with
which she had tied her left wrist to a projecting bolt. She had wrapped
the cord many times, but despite this it had worn away her skin and
sunk deep in the flesh of her arm. Half her clothes were torn away as
she had been thrown about on the boards. Whether from exhaustion or the
pain of her cut wrist, she had fainted and evidently lain in this
position for several hours; one side of her face was burned pink by the
heat of the sun.
They dragged the float in, and McTee knelt beside the girl and pressed
an ear against her breast.
"Living!" he announced. "Now we're three on the rim of the world."
"Which makes a crowd," grinned Harrigan.
They started working eagerly to revive her. While McTee bathed her face
and throat with handfuls of the sea water, Harrigan worked to liberate
her from the twine. It was not easy. The twine was wet, and the knot
held fast. Finally he gnawed it in two with his teeth. McTee, at the
same time, elicited a faint moan. Her wrist was bruised and swollen
rather than dangerously cut. Harrigan stuffed the twine into his hip
pocket; then the two Adams carried their Eve to the shade of a tree and
watched the color come back to her face by slow degrees.
The wind now increased suddenly as it had done on the evening of the
wreck. It rose even as the day darkened, and in a moment it was rushing
through the trees screaming in a constantly rising crescendo. The rain
was coming, and against that tropical squall shelter was necessary.
The two men ran down the beach and returned dragging the ponderous
section of the wheelhouse. They leaned the frame against two trunks at
the same instant that the first big drops of rain rattled against it.
Overhead they were quite securely protected by the dense and
interweaving foliage of the two trees, but still the wind whistled in
at either side and over and under the frame of boards. Of one accord
they dropped beside their patient.
She was trembling violently; they heard the light, continuous
chattering of her teeth. After her many hours under the merciless sun,
this sudden change of temperature might bring on the fever against
which they could not fight. They stripped off their shirts and wound
them carefully around her shivering body. McTee lifted her in his arms
and sat down with his back to the wind. Harrigan took a place beside
him, and they caught her close. They seemed to be striving by the force
of their will to drive the heat from their own blood into her trembling
body. But still she moaned in her delirium, and the shivering would not
Then the great idea came to Harrigan. He rose without a word and ran
out into the rain to a fallen tree which must have been blown down
years before, for now the trunk and the splintered stump were rotten to
the core. He had noticed it that day. There was only a rim of firm wood
left of the wreck. The stump gave readily enough under his pull. He
ripped away long strips of the casing, bark and wood, and carried it
back to the shelter. He made a second trip to secure a great armful of
the powder-dry time-rotted core of the stump.
His third expedition carried him a little farther afield to a small
sapling which he could barely make out through the night. He bent down
the top of the little tree and snapped off about five feet of its
length. This in turn he brought to the shelter. He stopped short here,
frozen with amazement. The girl was raving in her delirium, and to
soothe her, McTee was singing to her horrible sailor chanteys, pieced
out with improvised and foolish words.
Harrigan listened only while his astonishment kept him helpless; then
he took up his work. He first stripped away the twigs from his sapling
top. Then he tied the twine firmly at either end of the stick, leaving
the string loose. Next he fumbled among the mass of rubbish he had
brought in from the rotten trunk and broke off a chunk of hard wood
several inches in length. By rubbing this against the fragment of the
wheelhouse, he managed to reduce one end of the little stick to a rough
He took the largest slab of the rim wood from the stump and knelt upon
it to hold it firm. On this wood he rested his peg, which was wrapped
in several folds of the twine and pressed down by the second fragment
of wood. When he moved the long stick back and forth, the peg revolved
at a tremendous rate of speed, its partially sharpened end digging into
the wood on which it rested. It is a method of starting a fire which
was once familiarly used by Indians.
For half an hour Harrigan sweated and groaned uselessly over his labor.
Once he smelled a taint of smoke and shouted his triumph, but the peg
slipped and the work was undone. He started all over again after a
short rest and the peg creaked against the slab of wood with the speed
of its rotation - a small sound of protest drowned by the bellowing of
the storm and the ringing songs of McTee. Now the smoke rose again and
this time the peg kept firm. The smoke grew pungent; there was a spark,
then a glow, and it spread and widened among the powdery, rotten wood
which Harrigan had heaped around his rotating peg.
He tossed the peg and bow aside and blew softly and steadily on the
glowing point. It spread still more and now a small tongue of flame
rose and flickered. Instantly Harrigan laid small bits of wood
criss-cross on the pile of tinder. The flame licked at them
tentatively, recoiled, rose again and caught hold. The fire was well
With gusts of wind fanning it roughly, the flame rose fast. Harrigan
made other journeys to the rotten stump and wrenched away great chunks
of bark and wood. He came back and piled them on the fire. It towered
high, the upper tongues twisting among the branches of the tree. They
laid Kate Malone between the windbreak and the fire. In a short time
her trembling ceased; she turned her face to the blaze and slept.
They watched her with jealous care all night. In lieu of a pillow they
heaped some of the wood dust from the stump beneath her head. When
their large hands hovered over her to straighten the clothes which the
wind fluttered, she seemed marvelously delicate and fragile. It was
astonishing that so fragile a creature should have lived through the
buffeting of the sea.
Toward morning the storm fell at a breath and the rain died away. They
agreed that it might be safe to leave her alone while they ventured out
to look for food, and at the first hint of light they started out, one
to the north, and one to the south. Harrigan started at an easy run. He
felt a joyous exultation like that of a boy eager for play. He tried to
find shellfish first, but without success. His search carried him far
down the beach to a group of big rocks rolling out to sea. On the
leeward side of these rocks, in little hollows of the stone, he found a
quantity of the eggs of some seafowl. They were quite large, the shells
a dirty, faint blue and apparently very thick. He collected all he
could carry and started back.
As he approached the shelter, he heard voices and stopped short with a
sudden pang; McTee had returned first and awakened the girl. Harrigan
sighed. He knew now how he had wanted to watch her eyes open for the
first time, the cool sea-green eyes lighted by bewilderment, surprise,
and joy. All that delight had been McTee's. It was that dark, handsome
face she had seen leaning over her when she awoke. He was firmly
implanted in her mind by this time as her savior. She opened her eyes,
hungered, and she had seen McTee bringing food. Harrigan drew a long
breath and went on slowly with lowered head.
They sat cross-legged, facing each other. The captain was showing Kate
his prizes, which seemed to consist of a quantity of shellfish. She
clapped her hands at something McTee said, and her laughter,
wonderfully clear, reminded Harrigan of the chiming of faraway church
bells. Blind anger suddenly possessed him as he stood by the fire
glowering down at them.
"Eggs! How perfectly wonderful, Mr. Harrigan! And I'm starved!"
She looked up to him, radiant with delight; but the triumphant eye of
Harrigan fell not upon her but on McTee, who had suddenly grown
"But how can we cook them? There's nothing to boil water in - and no pan
for frying them," ventured McTee.
"Roast 'em," said Harrigan scornfully. "Like this."
He wrapped several eggs in wet clay and placed them in the glowing
ashes of the fire which had now burned low.
"While they're cooking," said McTee, "I'm going off. I've an idea."
Harrigan watched him with a shade of suspicion while he retreated. He
turned his head to find Kate studying him gravely.
"Before you came, Mr. Harrigan - "
"My name's Dan. That'll save time."
"While you were gone," she went on, thanking him with a smile, "Captain
McTee told me a great many things about you."
Harrigan stirred uneasily.
"Among other things, that you had no such record as he hinted at while
we were on the _Mary Rogers_. So I have to ask you to forgive me - "
The blue eyes grew bright as he watched her.
"I've forgotten all that, for the sea washed it away from my mind."
"As clean as the wind has washed the sky."
Not a cloud stained the broad expanse from horizon to horizon.
"That's a beautiful way to put it. Now that we are here on the island,
we begin all over again and forget what happened on the ship?"
"Aye, all of it."
"Shake on it."
He took her hand, but so gingerly that she laughed.
"We have to be careful of you," he explained seriously. "Here we are,
as McTee puts it, on the rim of the world, two men an' one woman. If
something happens to one of us, a third of our population's gone."
"A third of our population! Then I'm very important?"
He was so serious that it disconcerted her. It suddenly became
impossible for her to meet his eyes, they burned so bright, so eager,
with something like a threat in them. She hailed the returning figure
of McTee with relief.
He came bearing a large gourd, and he knelt before Kate so that she
might look into it. She cried out at what she saw, for he had washed
the inside of the gourd and filled it with cool water from the spring.
"Look!" said she to Harrigan. "It's water - and my throat is fairly
"Humph," growled Harrigan, and he avoided the eye of McTee.
The gourd was too heavy and clumsy for her to handle. The captain had
to raise and tip it so that she might drink, and as she drank, her eyes
went up to his with gratitude.
Harrigan set his teeth and commenced raking the roasted eggs from the
hot ashes. When her thirst was quenched, she looked in amazement at
Harrigan; even his back showed anger. In some mysterious manner it was
plain that she had displeased the big Irishman.
He turned now and offered her an egg, after removing the clay mold. But
when she thanked him with the most flattering of smiles, she became
aware that McTee in turn was vexed, while the Irishman seemed perfectly
"Have an egg, McTee," he offered, and rolled a couple toward the big
"I will not. I never had a taste for eggs."
"Why, captain," murmured Kate, "you can't live on shellfish?"
"Humph! Can't I? Very nutritious, Kate, and very healthful. Have to be
careful what you eat in this climate. Those eggs, for instance. Can you
tell, Harrigan, whether or not they're fresh?"
Harrigan, his mouth full of egg, paused and glared at the captain.
"For the captain of a ship, McTee," he said coldly, "your head is
packed with fool ideas. Eat your fish an' don't spoil the appetites of
He turned to Kate.
"These eggs are new-laid - they're - they're not more than twenty-four
His glance dared McTee to doubt the statement. The captain accepted the
"I suppose you watched 'em being laid, Harrigan?"
"I can tell by the taste partly and partly" - here he cracked the shell
of another egg and, stripping it off, held up the little white oval to
the light - "and partly by the color. It's dead white, isn't it?"
"That shows it's fresh. If there was a bit of blue in it, it'd be
McTee breathed hard.
"You win," he said. "You ought to be on the stage, Harrigan."
But Harrigan was deep in another egg. Kate watched the two with covert
glances, amazed, wondering. They had saved each other from death at
sea, and now they were quarreling bitterly over the qualities of eggs.
And not eggs alone, for McTee, not to be outdone in courtesy, passed a
handful of his shellfish to Harrigan. The Irishman regarded the fish
and then McTee with cold disgust.
"D'you really think I'm crazy enough to eat one of these?" he queried.
Black McTee was black indeed as he glowered at the big Irishman.
"Open up; let's hear what you got to say about these shellfish," he
Harrigan announced laconically: "Scurvy."
"What?" This from Kate and McTee at one breath.
"Sure. There ain't any salt in 'em. No salt is as bad as too much salt.
A friend of mine was once in a place where he couldn't get any salt
food, an' he ate a lot of these shellfish. What was the result? Scurvy!
He hasn't a tooth in his head today. An' he's only thirty."
"Why didn't you tell me?" cried Kate indignantly, and she laid a
tentative finger against her white teeth, as if expecting to find them
"I didn't want to hurt McTee's feelin's. Besides, maybe a few of them
won't hurt you - much!"
McTee suddenly burst into laughter, but there was little mirth in the
"Maybe you know these are the great blue clams that are famous for
"Really?" said Kate, greatly relieved.
"Yes," went on McTee, his eyes wandering slightly. "This species of
clam has an unusual organ by which it extracts some of the salt from
the sea water while taking its food. Look here!"
He held up a shell and indicated a blue-green spot on the inside.
"You see that color? That's what gives these clams their name and this
is also the place where the salt deposit forms. This clam has a high
percentage of salt - more than any other."
Harrigan, sending a bitter side glance at McTee, rose to bring some
more wood, for it was imperative that they should keep the fire burning
"I'm so glad," said Kate, "that we have both the eggs and the clams to
rely on. At least they will keep us from starving in this terrible
"H'm. I'm not so sure about the eggs."
He eyed them with a watering mouth, for his raging hunger had not been
in the least appeased by the shellfish.
"But I'll try one just to keep you company."
He peeled away the shell and swallowed the egg hastily, lest Harrigan,
returning, should see that he had changed his mind.
"Maybe the eggs are all right," he admitted as soon as he could speak,
and he picked up another, "but between you and me, I'll confess that I
shall not pay much attention to what Harrigan has to say. He's never
been to sea before. You can't expect a landlubber to understand all the
conditions of a life like this."
But a new thought which was gradually forming in her brain made Kate
reserve judgment. Harrigan came back and placed a few more sticks of
wood on the fire.
"I can't understand," said Kate, "how you could make a fire without a
sign of a match."
"That's simple," said McTee easily. "When a man has traveled about as
much as I have, he has to pick up all sorts of unusual ways of doing
things. The way we made that fire was to - "
"The way _we_ made it?" interjected Harrigan with bitter emphasis.
Kate frowned as she glanced from one to the other. There was the same
deep hostility in their eyes which she had noticed when they faced each
other in the captain's cabin aboard the _Mary Rogers_.
"An' why were ye sittin' prayin' for fire with the gir-rl thremblin'
and freezin' to death in yer ar-rms if ye knew so well how to be makin'
"Hush - Dan," said Kate; for the fire of anger blew high.
"You know each other pretty well, eh?"
"Tut, tut!" said Harrigan airily. "You can't expect a slip of a girl to
be calling a black man like _you_ by the front name?"
McTee moistened his white lips. He rose.
"I'm going for a walk - I always do after eating."
And he strode off down the beach. Harrigan instantly secured a handful
of the shellfish.
"Speakin' of salt," he said apologetically, "I'll have to try a couple
of these to be sure that the captain's right. I can tell by a taste or
He pried open one of the shells and ate the contents hastily, keeping
one eye askance against the return of McTee.
"Maybe he's right about these shellfish," he pronounced judicially,
"but it's a hard thing an' a dangerous thing to take the word of a man
like McTee - he's that hasty. We must go easy on believin' what he says,
Then understanding flooded Kate's mind like waves of light in a dark
room. She tilted back her head and laughed, laughed heartily, laughed
till the tears brimmed her eyes. The gloomy scowl of Harrigan stopped
her at last. As her mirth died out, the tall form of McTee appeared
suddenly before them with his arms crossed. Where they touched his
breast, the muscles spread out to a giant size. He was turned toward
her, but the gleam of his eye fell full upon Harrigan.
"I suppose," said McTee, and his teeth clicked after each word like the
bolt of a rifle shot home, "I suppose that you were laughing at me?"
The Irishman rose and faced the Scotchman, his head thrust forward and
a devil in his eyes.
"An' what if we were, Misther McTee?" he purred. "An' what if we
wer-r-re, I'm askin'?"
Kate leaped to her feet and sprang between them.
"Is there anything we can do," she broke in hurriedly, "to get away
from the island?"
"A raft?" suggested Harrigan.
McTee smiled his contempt.
"A raft? And how would you cut down the trees to make it?"
"Burn 'em down with a circle of fire at the bottom."
"And then set green logs afloat? And how fasten 'em together, even
supposing we could burn them down and drag them to the water? No,
there's no way of getting off the island unless a boat passes and
catches a glimpse of our fire."
"Then we'll have to move this fire to the top of the hill," said
"Suppose we go now and look over the hill and see what dry wood is near
it," said McTee.
Something in their eagerness had a meaning for Kate.
"Would you both leave me?" she reproached them.
"It was McTee suggested it," said Harrigan.
McTee favored his comrade with a glance that would have made any other
man give ground. It merely made Harrigan grin.
"We'll draw straws for who goes and who stays," said McTee.
Kate picked up two bits of wood.
"The short one stays," she said.
"Draw," said Harrigan in a low voice.
"I was taught manners young," said McTee. "After you."
They exchanged glares again. The whole sense of her power over these
giants came home to her as she watched them fighting their duel of the
"You suggested it," she said to McTee.
He stepped forward with an expression as grim as that of a prize
fighter facing an antagonist of unknown prowess. Once and again his
hand hovered above the sticks before he drew.
"You've chosen the walk to the hill," she said, and showed the shorter
stick. "Do you mind?"
"No," mocked Harrigan, "he always walks after meals."
Their eyes dwelt almost fondly upon each other. They were both men
after the other's heart. Then the Scotchman turned and strode away.
Kate watched Harrigan suspiciously, but his eyes, following McTee, were
gentle and dreamy.
"Ah," he murmured, "there's a jewel of a man."
"Do you like him so much?"
"Do I like him? Me dear, I love the man; I'll break his head with more
joy than a shtarvin' man cracks a nut!"
He recovered himself instantly.
"I didn't mean that - I - "
"Dan, you and McTee have planned to fight!"
He growled: "If a man told me that, I'd say he was a liar."
"Yes; but you won't lie to a girl, Harrigan."
She rose and faced him, reaching up to lay her hands on his thick
"Will you give me your promise as an honest man to try to avoid a fight
For she saw death in it if they met alone; certainly death for one, and
perhaps for both.
"Kate, would you ask a tree to promise to avoid the lightning?"
She caught a little breath through set teeth in her angry impatience,
then: "Dan, you're like a naughty boy. Can't you be reasonable?"
Despite her wrath, she noticed a quick change in his face. The blue of
his eyes was no longer cold and incurious, but lighted, warm, and
And she said rapidly, making her voice cold to quell the uneasy, rising
fire behind his eyes: "If you have made McTee angry, aren't you man
enough to smooth things over - to ask his pardon?"
He answered vaguely: "Beg his pardon?"
"Why is that so impossible? For my sake, Dan!"
The light went out of his face as if a candle had been snuffed.
"For you, Kate?"
Then she understood her power fully for the first time, and found the
thing which she must do.
"For me. I - I - "
She let her head droop, and then glanced up as if beseeching him to ask
"Look me square in the eye - so!"
He caught her beneath the chin with a grip that threatened a bruise,
and his eyes burned down upon her.
"Are ye playin' with me, Kate? Are ye tryin' to torment me, or do ye