Page:The Days Work (1899).djvu/185

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dered along the verandah. The Governor quailed. There were cuddy camp-stools and the skipper's writing-table in plain sight.

"They 've cleaned her out, o' course," said Mr. Wardrop. "They would. We 'll go aboard and take an inventory. See!" He waved his hands over the harbour. "We—live—there—now. Sorry?"

The Governor smiled a smile of relief.

"He 's glad of that," said one of the crew, reflectively. "I should n't wonder."

They flocked down to the harbour-front, the militia regiment clattering behind, and embarked themselves in what they found—it happened to be the Governor's boat. Then they disappeared over the bulwarks of the Haliotis, and the Governor prayed that they might find occupation inside.

Mr. Wardrop's first bound took him to the engine-room; and when the others were patting the well-remembered decks, they heard him giving God thanks that things were as he had left them. The wrecked engines stood over his head untouched; no inexpert hand had meddled with his shores; the steel wedges of the store-room were rusted home; and, best of all, the hundred and sixty tons of good Australian coal in the bunkers had not diminished.

"I don't understand it," said Mr. Wardrop. "Any Malay knows the use o' copper. They ought to have cut away the pipes. And with Chinese junks coming here, too. It 's a special interposition o' Providence."

"You think so," said the skipper, from above.