Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Dutch Courage and Other Stories
Author: London, Jack, 1876-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dutch Courage and Other Stories" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



DUTCH COURAGE AND OTHER STORIES

by

JACK LONDON

New York

1924



[Illustration: JACK LONDON, SAILOR]



PREFACE


"I've never written a line that I'd be ashamed for my young daughters to
read, and I never shall write such a line!"

Thus Jack London, well along in his career. And thus almost any
collection of his adventure stories is acceptable to young readers as
well as to their elders. So, in sorting over the few manuscripts still
unpublished in book form, while most of them were written primarily for
boys and girls, I do not hesitate to include as appropriate a tale such
as "Whose Business Is to Live."

Number two of the present group, "Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan," is
the first story ever written by Jack London for publication. At the age
of seventeen he had returned from his deep-water voyage in the sealing
schooner _Sophie Sutherland_, and was working thirteen hours a day
for forty dollars a month in an Oakland, California, jute mill. The
_San Francisco Call_ offered a prize of twenty-five dollars for the
best written descriptive article. Jack's mother, Flora London,
remembering that I had excelled in his school "compositions," urged him
to enter the contest by recalling some happening of his travels. Grammar
school, years earlier, had been his sole disciplined education. But his
wide reading, worldly experience, and extraordinary powers of
observation and correlation, enabled him to command first prize. It is
notable that the second and third awards went to students at California
and Stanford universities.

Jack never took the trouble to hunt up that old _San Francisco
Call_ of November 12, 1893; but when I came to write his biography,
"The Book of Jack London," I unearthed the issue, and the tale appears
intact in my English edition, published in 1921. And now, gathering
material for what will be the final Jack London collections, I cannot
but think that his first printed story will have unusual interest for
his readers of all ages.

The boy Jack's unexpected success in that virgin venture naturally
spurred him to further effort. It was, for one thing, the pleasantest
way he had ever earned so much money, even if it lacked the element of
physical prowess and danger that had marked those purple days with the
oyster pirates, and, later, equally exciting passages with the Fish
Patrol. He only waited to catch up on sleep lost while hammering out
"Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan," before applying himself to new
fiction. That was what was the matter with it: it was sheer fiction in
place of the white-hot realism of the "true story" that had brought him
distinction. This second venture he afterward termed "gush." It was
promptly rejected by the editor of the _Call_. Lacking experience
in such matters, Jack could not know why. And it did not occur to him to
submit his manuscript elsewhere. His fire was dampened; he gave over
writing and continued with the jute mill and innocent social diversion
in company with Louis Shattuck and his friends, who had superseded
Jack's wilder comrades and hazards of bay- and sea-faring. This period,
following the publication of "Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan," is
touched upon in his book "John Barleycorn."

The next that one hears of attempts at writing is when, during his
tramping episode, he showed some stories to his aunt, Mrs. Everhard, in
St. Joseph, Michigan. And in the ensuing months of that year, 1894, she
received other romances mailed at his stopping places along the eastward
route, alone or with Kelly's Industrial Army. As yet it had not sunk
into his consciousness that his unyouthful knowledge of life in the raw
would be the means of success in literature; therefore he discoursed of
imaginary things and persons, lords and ladies, days of chivalry and
what not--anything but out of his priceless first-hand lore. At the same
time, however, he kept a small diary which, in the days when he had
found himself, helped in visualizing his tramp life, in "The Road."

The only out and out "juvenile" in the Jack London list prior to his
death is "The Cruise of the Dazzler," published in 1902. At that it is a
good and authentic maritime study of its kind, and not lacking in honest
thrills. "Tales of the Fish Patrol" comes next as a book for boys; but
the happenings told therein are perilous enough to interest many an
older reader.

I am often asked which of his books have made the strongest appeal to
youth. The impulse is to answer that it depends upon the particular type
of youth. As example, there lies before me a letter from a friend: "Ruth
(she is eleven) has been reading every book of your husband's that she
can get hold of. She is crazy over the stories. I have bought nearly all
of them, but cannot find 'The Son of the Wolf,' 'Moon Face,' and
'Michael Brother of Jerry.' Will you tell me where I can order these?" I
have not yet learned Ruth's favorites; but I smile to myself at thought
of the re-reading she may have to do when her mind has more fully
developed.

The youth of every country who read Jack London naturally turn to his
adventure stories--particularly "The Call of the Wild" and its companion
"White Fang," "The Sea Wolf," "The Cruise of the Snark," and my own
journal, "The Log of the Snark," and "Our Hawaii," "Smoke Bellew Tales,"
"Adventure," "The Mutiny of the Elsinore," as well as "Before Adam,"
"The Game," "The Abysmal Brute," "The Road," "Jerry of the Islands" and
its sequel "Michael Brother of Jerry." And because of the last named,
the youth of many lands are enrolling in the famous Jack London Club.
This was inspired by Dr. Francis H. Bowley, President of the
Massachusetts S.P.C.A. The Club expects no dues. Membership is automatic
through the mere promise to leave any playhouse during an animal
performance. The protest thereby registered is bound, in good time, to
do away with the abuses that attend animal training for show purposes.
"Michael Brother of Jerry" was written out of Jack London's heart of
love and head of understanding of animals, aided by a years'-long study
of the conditions of which he treats. Incidentally this book contains
one of the most charming bits of seafaring romance of the Southern Ocean
that he ever wrote.

During the Great War, the English speaking soldiers called freely for
the foregoing novels, dubbing them "The Jacklondons"; and there was also
lively demand for "Burning Daylight," "The Scarlet Plague," "The Star
Rover," "The Little Lady of the Big House," "The Valley of the Moon,"
and, because of its prophetic spirit, "The Iron Heel." There was
likewise a desire for the short-story collections, such as "The God of
His Fathers," "Children of the Frost," "The Faith of Men," "Love of
Life," "Lost Face," "When God Laughs," and later groups like "South Sea
Tales," "A Son of the Sun," "The Night Born," and "The House of Pride,"
and a long list beside.

But for the serious minded youth of America, Great Britain, and all
countries where Jack London's work has been translated--youth
considering life with a purpose--"Martin Eden" is the beacon. Passing
years only augment the number of messages that find their way to me from
near and far, attesting the worth to thoughtful boys and girls, young
men and women, of the author's own formative struggle in life and
letters as partially outlined in "Martin Eden."

The present sheaf of young folk's stories were written during the latter
part of that battle for recognition, and my gathering of them inside
book covers is pursuant of his own intention at the time of his death on
November 22, 1916.

  CHARMIAN LONDON.

  Jack London Ranch,
    Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, California.
      August 1, 1922.



TABLE OF CONTENTS


  DUTCH COURAGE
  TYPHOON OFF THE COAST OF JAPAN
  THE LOST POACHER
  THE BANKS OF THE SACRAMENTO
  CHRIS FARRINGTON: ABLE SEAMAN
  TO REPEL BOARDERS
  AN ADVENTURE IN THE UPPER SEA
  BALD-FACE
  IN YEDDO BAY
  WHOSE BUSINESS IS TO LIVE



DUTCH COURAGE


"Just our luck!"

Gus Lafee finished wiping his hands and sullenly threw the towel upon
the rocks. His attitude was one of deep dejection. The light seemed gone
out of the day and the glory from the golden sun. Even the keen mountain
air was devoid of relish, and the early morning no longer yielded its
customary zest.

"Just our luck!" Gus repeated, this time avowedly for the edification of
another young fellow who was busily engaged in sousing his head in the
water of the lake.

"What are you grumbling about, anyway?" Hazard Van Dorn lifted a
soap-rimmed face questioningly. His eyes were shut. "What's our luck?"

"Look there!" Gus threw a moody glance skyward. "Some duffer's got ahead
of us. We've been scooped, that's all!"

Hazard opened his eyes, and caught a fleeting glimpse of a white flag
waving arrogantly on the edge of a wall of rock nearly a mile above his
head. Then his eyes closed with a snap, and his face wrinkled
spasmodically. Gus threw him the towel, and uncommiseratingly watched
him wipe out the offending soap. He felt too blue himself to take stock
in trivialities.

Hazard groaned.

"Does it hurt--much?" Gus queried, coldly, without interest, as if it
were no more than his duty to ask after the welfare of his comrade.

"I guess it does," responded the suffering one.

"Soap's pretty strong, eh?--Noticed it myself."

"'Tisn't the soap. It's--it's _that!_" He opened his reddened eyes
and pointed toward the innocent white little flag. "That's what hurts."

Gus Lafee did not reply, but turned away to start the fire and begin
cooking breakfast. His disappointment and grief were too deep for
anything but silence, and Hazard, who felt likewise, never opened his
mouth as he fed the horses, nor once laid his head against their arching
necks or passed caressing fingers through their manes. The two boys were
blind, also, to the manifold glories of Mirror Lake which reposed at
their very feet. Nine times, had they chosen to move along its margin
the short distance of a hundred yards, could they have seen the sunrise
repeated; nine times, from behind as many successive peaks, could they
have seen the great orb rear his blazing rim; and nine times, had they
but looked into the waters of the lake, could they have seen the
phenomena reflected faithfully and vividly. But all the Titanic grandeur
of the scene was lost to them. They had been robbed of the chief
pleasure of their trip to Yosemite Valley. They had been frustrated in
their long-cherished design upon Half Dome, and hence were rendered
disconsolate and blind to the beauties and the wonders of the place.

Half Dome rears its ice-scarred head fully five thousand feet above the
level floor of Yosemite Valley. In the name itself of this great rock
lies an accurate and complete description. Nothing more nor less is it
than a cyclopean, rounded dome, split in half as cleanly as an apple
that is divided by a knife. It is, perhaps, quite needless to state that
but one-half remains, hence its name, the other half having been carried
away by the great ice-river in the stormy time of the Glacial Period. In
that dim day one of those frigid rivers gouged a mighty channel from out
the solid rock. This channel to-day is Yosemite Valley. But to return to
the Half Dome. On its northeastern side, by circuitous trails and stiff
climbing, one may gain the Saddle. Against the slope of the Dome the
Saddle leans like a gigantic slab, and from the top of this slab, one
thousand feet in length, curves the great circle to the summit of the
Dome. A few degrees too steep for unaided climbing, these one thousand
feet defied for years the adventurous spirits who fixed yearning eyes
upon the crest above.

One day, a couple of clear-headed mountaineers had proceeded to insert
iron eye-bolts into holes which they drilled into the rock every few
feet apart. But when they found themselves three hundred feet above the
Saddle, clinging like flies to the precarious wall with on either hand a
yawning abyss, their nerves failed them and they abandoned the
enterprise. So it remained for an indomitable Scotchman, one George
Anderson, finally to achieve the feat. Beginning where they had left
off, drilling and climbing for a week, he had at last set foot upon that
awful summit and gazed down into the depths where Mirror Lake reposed,
nearly a mile beneath.

In the years which followed, many bold men took advantage of the huge
rope ladder which he had put in place; but one winter ladder, cables and
all were carried away by the snow and ice. True, most of the eye-bolts,
twisted and bent, remained. But few men had since essayed the hazardous
undertaking, and of those few more than one gave up his life on the
treacherous heights, and not one succeeded.

But Gus Lafee and Hazard Van Dorn had left the smiling valley-land of
California and journeyed into the high Sierras, intent on the great
adventure. And thus it was that their disappointment was deep and
grievous when they awoke on this morning to receive the forestalling
message of the little white flag.

"Camped at the foot of the Saddle last night and went up at the first
peep of day," Hazard ventured, long after the silent breakfast had been
tucked away and the dishes washed.

Gus nodded. It was not in the nature of things that a youth's spirits
should long remain at low ebb, and his tongue was beginning to loosen.

"Guess he's down by now, lying in camp and feeling as big as Alexander,"
the other went on. "And I don't blame him, either; only I wish it were
we."

"You can be sure he's down," Gus spoke up at last. "It's mighty warm on
that naked rock with the sun beating down on it at this time of year.
That was our plan, you know, to go up early and come down early. And any
man, sensible enough to get to the top, is bound to have sense enough to
do it before the rock gets hot and his hands sweaty."

"And you can be sure he didn't take his shoes with, him." Hazard rolled
over on his back and lazily regarded the speck of flag fluttering
briskly on the sheer edge of the precipice. "Say!" He sat up with a
start. "What's that?"

A metallic ray of light flashed out from the summit of Half Dome, then a
second and a third. The heads of both boys were craned backward on the
instant, agog with excitement.

"What a duffer!" Gus cried. "Why didn't he come down when it was cool?"

Hazard shook his head slowly, as if the question were too deep for
immediate answer and they had better defer judgment.

The flashes continued, and as the boys soon noted, at irregular
intervals of duration and disappearance. Now they were long, now short;
and again they came and went with great rapidity, or ceased altogether
for several moments at a time.

"I have it!" Hazard's face lighted up with the coming of understanding.
"I have it! That fellow up there is trying to talk to us. He's flashing
the sunlight down to us on a pocket-mirror--dot, dash; dot, dash; don't
you see?"

The light also began to break in Gus's face. "Ah, I know! It's what they
do in war-time--signaling. They call it heliographing, don't they? Same
thing as telegraphing, only it's done without wires. And they use the
same dots and dashes, too."

"Yes, the Morse alphabet. Wish I knew it."

"Same here. He surely must have something to say to us, or he wouldn't
be kicking up all that rumpus."

Still the flashes came and went persistently, till Gus exclaimed: "That
chap's in trouble, that's what's the matter with him! Most likely he's
hurt himself or something or other."

"Go on!" Hazard scouted.

Gus got out the shotgun and fired both barrels three times in rapid
succession. A perfect flutter of flashes came back before the echoes had
ceased their antics. So unmistakable was the message that even doubting
Hazard was convinced that the man who had forestalled them stood in some
grave danger.

"Quick, Gus," he cried, "and pack! I'll see to the horses. Our trip
hasn't come to nothing, after all. We've got to go right up Half Dome
and rescue him. Where's the map? How do we get to the Saddle?"

"'Taking the horse-trail below the Vernal Falls,'" Gus read from the
guide-book, "'one mile of brisk traveling brings the tourist to the
world-famed Nevada Fall. Close by, rising up in all its pomp and glory,
the Cap of Liberty stands guard----"

"Skip all that!" Hazard impatiently interrupted. "The trail's what we
want."

"Oh, here it is! 'Following the trail up the side of the fall will bring
you to the forks. The left one leads to Little Yosemite Valley, Cloud's
Rest, and other points.'"

"Hold on; that'll do! I've got it on the map now," again interrupted
Hazard. "From the Cloud's Rest trail a dotted line leads off to Half
Dome. That shows the trail's abandoned. We'll have to look sharp to find
it. It's a day's journey."

"And to think of all that traveling, when right here we're at the bottom
of the Dome!" Gus complained, staring up wistfully at the goal.

"That's because this is Yosemite, and all the more reason for us to
hurry. Come on! Be lively, now!"

Well used as they were to trail life, but few minutes sufficed to see
the camp equipage on the backs of the packhorses and the boys in the
saddle. In the late twilight of that evening they hobbled their animals
in a tiny mountain meadow, and cooked coffee and bacon for themselves at
the very base of the Saddle. Here, also, before they turned into their
blankets, they found the camp of the unlucky stranger who was destined
to spend the night on the naked roof of the Dome.

Dawn was brightening into day when the panting lads threw themselves
down at the summit of the Saddle and began taking off their shoes.
Looking down from the great height, they seemed perched upon the
ridgepole of the world, and even the snow-crowned Sierra peaks seemed
beneath them. Directly below, on the one hand, lay Little Yosemite
Valley, half a mile deep; on the other hand, Big Yosemite, a mile.
Already the sun's rays were striking about the adventurers, but the
darkness of night still shrouded the two great gulfs into which they
peered. And above them, bathed in the full day, rose only the majestic
curve of the Dome.

"What's that for?" Gus asked, pointing to a leather-shielded flask which
Hazard was securely fastening in his shirt pocket.

"Dutch courage, of course," was the reply. "We'll need all our nerve in
this undertaking, and a little bit more, and," he tapped the flask
significantly, "here's the little bit more."

"Good idea," Gus commented.

How they had ever come possessed of this erroneous idea, it would be
hard to discover; but they were young yet, and there remained for them
many uncut pages of life. Believers, also, in the efficacy of whisky as
a remedy for snake-bite, they had brought with them a fair supply of
medicine-chest liquor. As yet they had not touched it.

"Have some before we start?" Hazard asked.

Gus looked into the gulf and shook his head. "Better wait till we get up
higher and the climbing is more ticklish."

Some seventy feet above them projected the first eye-bolt. The winter
accumulations of ice had twisted and bent it down till it did not stand
more than a bare inch and a half above the rock--a most difficult object
to lasso as such a distance. Time and again Hazard coiled his lariat in
true cowboy fashion and made the cast, and time and again was he baffled
by the elusive peg. Nor could Gus do better. Taking advantage of
inequalities in the surface, they scrambled twenty feet up the Dome and
found they could rest in a shallow crevice. The cleft side of the Dome
was so near that they could look over its edge from the crevice and gaze
down the smooth, vertical wall for nearly two thousand feet. It was yet
too dark down below for them to see farther.

The peg was now fifty feet away, but the path they must cover to
get to it was quite smooth, and ran at an inclination of nearly fifty
degrees. It seemed impossible, in that intervening space, to find a
resting-place. Either the climber must keep going up, or he must slide
down; he could not stop. But just here rose the danger. The Dome was
sphere-shaped, and if he should begin to slide, his course would be, not
to the point from which he had started and where the Saddle would catch
him, but off to the south toward Little Yosemite. This meant a plunge of
half a mile.

"I'll try it," Gus said simply.

They knotted the two lariats together, so that they had over a hundred
feet of rope between them; and then each boy tied an end to his waist.

"If I slide," Gus cautioned, "come in on the slack and brace yourself.
If you don't, you'll follow me, that's all!"

"Ay, ay!" was the confident response. "Better take a nip before you
start?"

Gus glanced at the proffered bottle. He knew himself and of what he was
capable. "Wait till I make the peg and you join me. All ready?"

"Ay."

He struck out like a cat, on all fours, clawing energetically as he
urged his upward progress, his comrade paying out the rope carefully. At
first his speed was good, but gradually it dwindled. Now he was fifteen
feet from the peg, now ten, now eight--but going, oh, so slowly! Hazard,
looking up from his crevice, felt a contempt for him and disappointment
in him. It did look easy. Now Gus was five feet away, and after a
painful effort, four feet. But when only a yard intervened, he came to a
standstill--not exactly a standstill, for, like a squirrel in a wheel,
he maintained his position on the face of the Dome by the most desperate
clawing.

He had failed, that was evident. The question now was, how to save
himself. With a sudden, catlike movement he whirled over on his back,
caught his heel in a tiny, saucer-shaped depression and sat up. Then his
courage failed him. Day had at last penetrated to the floor of the
valley, and he was appalled at the frightful distance.

"Go ahead and make it!" Hazard ordered; but Gus merely shook his head.

"Then come down!"

Again he shook his head. This was his ordeal, to sit, nerveless and
insecure, on the brink of the precipice. But Hazard, lying safely in his
crevice, now had to face his own ordeal, but one of a different nature.
When Gus began to slide--as he soon must--would he, Hazard, be able to
take in the slack and then meet the shock as the other tautened the rope
and darted toward the plunge? It seemed doubtful. And there he lay,
apparently safe, but in reality harnessed to death. Then rose the
temptation. Why not cast off the rope about his waist? He would be safe
at all events. It was a simple way out of the difficulty. There was no
need that two should perish. But it was impossible for such temptation
to overcome his pride of race, and his own pride in himself and in his
honor. So the rope remained about him.

"Come down!" he ordered; but Gus seemed to have become petrified.

"Come down," he threatened, "or I'll drag you down!" He pulled on the
rope to show he was in earnest.

"Don't you dare!" Gus articulated through his clenched teeth.

"Sure, I will, if you don't come!" Again he jerked the rope.

With a despairing gurgle Gus started, doing his best to work sideways
from the plunge. Hazard, every sense on the alert, almost exulting in
his perfect coolness, took in the slack with deft rapidity. Then, as the
rope began to tighten, he braced himself. The shock drew him half out of
the crevice; but he held firm and served as the center of the circle,
while Gus, with the rope as a radius, described the circumference and
ended up on the extreme southern edge of the Saddle. A few moments later
Hazard was offering him the flask.

"Take some yourself," Gus said.

"No; you. I don't need it."

"And I'm past needing it." Evidently Gus was dubious of the bottle and
its contents.

Hazard put it away in his pocket. "Are you game," he asked, "or are you
going to give it up?"

"Never!" Gus protested. "I _am_ game. No Lafee ever showed the
white feather yet. And if I did lose my grit up there, it was only for
the moment--sort of like seasickness. I'm all right now, and I'm going
to the top."

"Good!" encouraged Hazard. "You lie in the crevice this time, and I'll
show you how easy it is."

But Gus refused. He held that it was easier and safer for him to try
again, arguing that it was less difficult for his one hundred and
sixteen pounds to cling to the smooth rock than for Hazard's one hundred
and sixty-five; also that it was easier for one hundred and sixty-five
pounds to bring a sliding one hundred and sixteen to a stop than _vice
versa_. And further, that he had the benefit of his previous
experience. Hazard saw the justice of this, although it was with great
reluctance that he gave in.

Success vindicated Gus's contention. The second time, just as it seemed
as if his slide would be repeated, he made a last supreme effort and
gripped the coveted peg. By means of the rope, Hazard quickly joined
him. The next peg was nearly sixty feet away; but for nearly half that
distance the base of some glacier in the forgotten past had ground a
shallow furrow. Taking advantage of this, it was easy for Gus to lasso
the eye-bolt. And it seemed, as was really the case, that the hardest
part of the task was over. True, the curve steepened to nearly sixty
degrees above them, but a comparatively unbroken line of eye-bolts, six
feet apart, awaited the lads. They no longer had even to use the lasso.
Standing on one peg it was child's play to throw the bight of the rope
over the next and to draw themselves up to it.

A bronzed and bearded man met them at the top and gripped their hands in
hearty fellowship.

"Talk about your Mont Blancs!" he exclaimed, pausing in the midst of
greeting them to survey the mighty panorama. "But there's nothing on all
the earth, nor over it, nor under it, to compare with this!" Then he
recollected himself and thanked them for coming to his aid. No, he was
not hurt or injured in any way. Simply because of his own carelessness,
just as he had arrived at the top the previous day, he had dropped his
climbing rope. Of course it was impossible to descend without it. Did
they understand heliographing? No? That was strange! How did they----

"Oh, we knew something was the matter," Gus interrupted, "from the way
you flashed when we fired off the shotgun."

"Find it pretty cold last night without blankets?" Hazard queried.

"I should say so. I've hardly thawed out yet."

"Have some of this." Hazard shoved the flask over to him.

The stranger regarded him quite seriously for a moment, then said,
"My dear fellow, do you see that row of pegs? Since it is my honest
intention to climb down them very shortly, I am forced to decline.
No, I don't think I'll have any, though I thank you just the same."

Hazard glanced at Gus and then put the flask back in his pocket. But
when they pulled the doubled rope through the last eye-bolt and set foot
on the Saddle, he again drew out the bottle.

"Now that we're down, we don't need it," he remarked, pithily. "And I've
about come to the conclusion that there isn't very much in Dutch
courage, after all." He gazed up the great curve of the Dome. "Look at
what we've done without it!"

Several seconds thereafter a party of tourists, gathered at the margin
of Mirror Lake, were astounded at the unwonted phenomenon of a whisky
flask descending upon them like a comet out of a clear sky; and all the
way back to the hotel they marveled greatly at the wonders of nature,
especially meteorites.



TYPHOON OFF THE COAST OF JAPAN

[Jack London's first story, published at the age of seventeen]


It was four bells in the morning watch. We had just finished breakfast
when the order came forward for the watch on deck to stand by to heave
her to and all hands stand by the boats.

"Port! hard a port!" cried our sailing-master. "Clew up the topsails!
Let the flying jib run down! Back the jib over to windward and run down
the foresail!" And so was our schooner _Sophie Sutherland_ hove to
off the Japan coast, near Cape Jerimo, on April 10, 1893.

Then came moments of bustle and confusion. There were eighteen men to
man the six boats. Some were hooking on the falls, others casting off
the lashings; boat-steerers appeared with boat-compasses and
water-breakers, and boat-pullers with the lunch boxes. Hunters were
staggering under two or three shotguns, a rifle and heavy ammunition
box, all of which were soon stowed away with their oilskins and mittens
in the boats.

The sailing-master gave his last orders, and away we went, pulling three
pairs of oars to gain our positions. We were in the weather boat, and so
had a longer pull than the others. The first, second, and third lee
boats soon had all sail set and were running off to the southward and
westward with the wind beam, while the schooner was running off to
leeward of them, so that in case of accident the boats would have fair
wind home.

It was a glorious morning, but our boat-steerer shook his head ominously
as he glanced at the rising sun and prophetically muttered: "Red sun in
the morning, sailor take warning." The sun had an angry look, and a few
light, fleecy "nigger-heads" in that quarter seemed abashed and
frightened and soon disappeared.

Away off to the northward Cape Jerimo reared its black, forbidding head
like some huge monster rising from the deep. The winter's snow, not yet
entirely dissipated by the sun, covered it in patches of glistening
white, over which the light wind swept on its way out to sea. Huge gulls
rose slowly, fluttering their wings in the light breeze and striking
their webbed feet on the surface of the water for over half a mile
before they could leave it. Hardly had the patter, patter died away
when a flock of sea quail rose, and with whistling wings flew away
to windward, where members of a large band of whales were disporting
themselves, their blowings sounding like the exhaust of steam engines.
The harsh, discordant cries of a sea-parrot grated unpleasantly on the
ear, and set half a dozen alert in a small band of seals that were ahead
of us. Away they went, breaching and jumping entirely out of water. A
sea-gull with slow, deliberate flight and long, majestic curves circled
round us, and as a reminder of home a little English sparrow perched
impudently on the fo'castle head, and, cocking his head on one side,
chirped merrily. The boats were soon among the seals, and the bang!
bang! of the guns could be heard from down to leeward.

The wind was slowly rising, and by three o'clock as, with a dozen seals
in our boat, we were deliberating whether to go on or turn back, the
recall flag was run up at the schooner's mizzen--a sure sign that with
the rising wind the barometer was falling and that our sailing-master
was getting anxious for the welfare of the boats.

Away we went before the wind with a single reef in our sail. With
clenched teeth sat the boat-steerer, grasping the steering oar firmly
with both hands, his restless eyes on the alert--a glance at the
schooner ahead, as we rose on a sea, another at the mainsheet, and then
one astern where the dark ripple of the wind on the water told him of a
coming puff or a large white-cap that threatened to overwhelm us. The
waves were holding high carnival, performing the strangest antics, as
with wild glee they danced along in fierce pursuit--now up, now down,
here, there, and everywhere, until some great sea of liquid green with
its milk-white crest of foam rose from the ocean's throbbing bosom and
drove the others from view. But only for a moment, for again under new
forms they reappeared. In the sun's path they wandered, where every
ripple, great or small, every little spit or spray looked like molten
silver, where the water lost its dark green color and became a dazzling,
silvery flood, only to vanish and become a wild waste of sullen
turbulence, each dark foreboding sea rising and breaking, then rolling
on again. The dash, the sparkle, the silvery light soon vanished with
the sun, which became obscured by black clouds that were rolling swiftly
in from the west, northwest; apt heralds of the coming storm.

We soon reached the schooner and found ourselves the last aboard.
In a few minutes the seals were skinned, boats and decks washed, and
we were down below by the roaring fo'castle fire, with a wash, change
of clothes, and a hot, substantial supper before us. Sail had been put
on the schooner, as we had a run of seventy-five miles to make to the
southward before morning, so as to get in the midst of the seals, out
of which we had strayed during the last two days' hunting.

We had the first watch from eight to midnight. The wind was soon blowing
half a gale, and our sailing-master expected little sleep that night as
he paced up and down the poop. The topsails were soon clewed up and made
fast, then the flying jib run down and furled. Quite a sea was rolling
by this time, occasionally breaking over the decks, flooding them and
threatening to smash the boats. At six bells we were ordered to turn
them over and put on storm lashings. This occupied us till eight bells,
when we were relieved by the mid-watch. I was the last to go below,
doing so just as the watch on deck was furling the spanker. Below all
were asleep except our green hand, the "bricklayer," who was dying of
consumption. The wildly dancing movements of the sea lamp cast a pale,
flickering light through the fo'castle and turned to golden honey the
drops of water on the yellow oilskins. In all the corners dark shadows
seemed to come and go, while up in the eyes of her, beyond the pall
bits, descending from deck to deck, where they seemed to lurk like some
dragon at the cavern's mouth, it was dark as Erebus. Now and again, the
light seemed to penetrate for a moment as the schooner rolled heavier
than usual, only to recede, leaving it darker and blacker than before.
The roar of the wind through the rigging came to the ear muffled like
the distant rumble of a train crossing a trestle or the surf on the
beach, while the loud crash of the seas on her weather bow seemed almost
to rend the beams and planking asunder as it resounded through the
fo'castle. The creaking and groaning of the timbers, stanchions, and
bulkheads, as the strain the vessel was undergoing was felt, served to
drown the groans of the dying man as he tossed uneasily in his bunk.
The working of the foremast against the deck beams caused a shower of
flaky powder to fall, and sent another sound mingling with the tumultous
storm. Small cascades of water streamed from the pall bits from the
fo'castle head above, and, joining issue with the streams from the wet
oilskins, ran along the floor and disappeared aft into the main hold.

At two bells in the middle watch--that is, in land parlance one o'clock
in the morning--the order was roared out on the fo'castle: "All hands on
deck and shorten sail!"

Then the sleepy sailors tumbled out of their bunk and into their
clothes, oil-skins, and sea-boots and up on deck. 'Tis when that order
comes on cold, blustering nights that "Jack" grimly mutters: "Who would
not sell a farm and go to sea?"

It was on deck that the force of the wind could be fully appreciated,
especially after leaving the stifling fo'castle. It seemed to stand
up against you like a wall, making it almost impossible to move on
the heaving decks or to breathe as the fierce gusts came dashing by.
The schooner was hove to under jib, foresail, and mainsail. We proceeded
to lower the foresail and make it fast. The night was dark, greatly
impeding our labor. Still, though not a star or the moon could pierce
the black masses of storm clouds that obscured the sky as they swept
along before the gale, nature aided us in a measure. A soft light
emanated from the movement of the ocean. Each mighty sea, all
phosphorescent and glowing with the tiny lights of myriads of
animalculæ, threatened to overwhelm us with a deluge of fire. Higher and
higher, thinner and thinner, the crest grew as it began to curve and
overtop preparatory to breaking, until with a roar it fell over the
bulwarks, a mass of soft glowing light and tons of water which sent the
sailors sprawling in all directions and left in each nook and cranny
little specks of light that glowed and trembled till the next sea washed
them away, depositing new ones in their places. Sometimes several seas
following each other with great rapidity and thundering down on our
decks filled them full to the bulwarks, but soon they were discharged
through the lee scuppers.

To reef the mainsail we were forced to run off before the gale under the
single reefed jib. By the time we had finished the wind had forced up
such a tremendous sea that it was impossible to heave her to. Away we
flew on the wings of the storm through the muck and flying spray. A wind
sheer to starboard, then another to port as the enormous seas struck the
schooner astern and nearly broached her to. As day broke we took in the
jib, leaving not a sail unfurled. Since we had begun scudding she had
ceased to take the seas over her bow, but amidships they broke fast
and furious. It was a dry storm in the matter of rain, but the force
of the wind filled the air with fine spray, which flew as high as the
crosstrees and cut the face like a knife, making it impossible to see
over a hundred yards ahead. The sea was a dark lead color as with long,
slow, majestic roll it was heaped up by the wind into liquid mountains
of foam. The wild antics of the schooner were sickening as she forged
along. She would almost stop, as though climbing a mountain, then
rapidly rolling to right and left as she gained the summit of a huge
sea, she steadied herself and paused for a moment as though affrighted
at the yawning precipice before her. Like an avalanche, she shot forward
and down as the sea astern struck her with the force of a thousand
battering rams, burying her bow to the catheads in the milky foam at the
bottom that came on deck in all directions--forward, astern, to right
and left, through the hawse-pipes and over the rail.

The wind began to drop, and by ten o'clock we were talking of heaving
her to. We passed a ship, two schooners, and a four-masted barkentine
under the smallest of canvas, and at eleven o'clock, running up the
spanker and jib, we hove her to, and in another hour we were beating
back again against the aftersea under full sail to regain the sealing
ground away to the westward.

Below, a couple of men were sewing the "bricklayer's" body in canvas
preparatory to the sea burial. And so with the storm passed away the
"bricklayer's" soul.



THE LOST POACHER


"But they won't take excuses. You're across the line, and that's enough.
They'll take you. In you go, Siberia and the salt-mines. And as for
Uncle Sam, why, what's he to know about it? Never a word will get back
to the States. 'The _Mary Thomas_,' the papers will say, 'the
_Mary Thomas_ lost with all hands. Probably in a typhoon in the
Japanese seas.' That's what the papers will say, and people, too. In you
go, Siberia and the salt-mines. Dead to the world and kith and kin,
though you live fifty years."

In such manner John Lewis, commonly known as the "sea-lawyer," settled
the matter out of hand.

It was a serious moment in the forecastle of the _Mary Thomas_. No
sooner had the watch below begun to talk the trouble over, than the
watch on deck came down and joined them. As there was no wind, every
hand could be spared with the exception of the man at the wheel, and he
remained only for the sake of discipline. Even "Bub" Russell, the
cabin-boy, had crept forward to hear what was going on.

However, it was a serious moment, as the grave faces of the sailors bore
witness. For the three preceding months the _Mary Thomas_ sealing
schooner, had hunted the seal pack along the coast of Japan and north to
Bering Sea. Here, on the Asiatic side of the sea, they were forced to
give over the chase, or rather, to go no farther; for beyond, the
Russian cruisers patrolled forbidden ground, where the seals might breed
in peace.

A week before she had fallen into a heavy fog accompanied by calm. Since
then the fog-bank had not lifted, and the only wind had been light airs
and catspaws. This in itself was not so bad, for the sealing schooners
are never in a hurry so long as they are in the midst of the seals; but
the trouble lay in the fact that the current at this point bore heavily
to the north. Thus the _Mary Thomas_ had unwittingly drifted across
the line, and every hour she was penetrating, unwillingly, farther and
farther into the dangerous waters where the Russian bear kept guard.

How far she had drifted no man knew. The sun had not been visible
for a week, nor the stars, and the captain had been unable to take
observations in order to determine his position. At any moment a cruiser
might swoop down and hale the crew away to Siberia. The fate of other
poaching seal-hunters was too well known to the men of the _Mary
Thomas_, and there was cause for grave faces.

"Mine friends," spoke up a German boat-steerer, "it vas a pad piziness.
Shust as ve make a big catch, und all honest, somedings go wrong, und
der Russians nab us, dake our skins and our schooner, und send us mit
der anarchists to Siberia. Ach! a pretty pad piziness!"

"Yes, that's where it hurts," the sea lawyer went on. "Fifteen hundred
skins in the salt piles, and all honest, a big pay-day coming to every
man Jack of us, and then to be captured and lose it all! It'd be
different if we'd been poaching, but it's all honest work in open
water."

"But if we haven't done anything wrong, they can't do anything to us,
can they?" Bub queried.

"It strikes me as 'ow it ain't the proper thing for a boy o' your age
shovin' in when 'is elders is talkin'," protested an English sailor,
from over the edge of his bunk.

"Oh, that's all right, Jack," answered the sea-lawyer. "He's a perfect
right to. Ain't he just as liable to lose his wages as the rest of us?"

"Wouldn't give thruppence for them!" Jack sniffed back. He had been
planning to go home and see his family in Chelsea when he was paid off,
and he was now feeling rather blue over the highly possible loss, not
only of his pay, but of his liberty.

"How are they to know?" the sea-lawyer asked in answer to Bub's previous
question. "Here we are in forbidden water. How do they know but what we
came here of our own accord? Here we are, fifteen hundred skins in the
hold. How do they, know whether we got them in open water or in the
closed sea? Don't you see, Bub, the evidence is all against us. If you
caught a man with his pockets full of apples like those which grow on
your tree, and if you caught him in your tree besides, what'd you think
if he told you he couldn't help it, and had just been sort of blown
there, and that anyway those apples came from some other tree--what'd
you think, eh?"

Bub saw it clearly when put in that light, and shook his head
despondently.

"You'd rather be dead than go to Siberia," one of the boat-pullers said.
"They put you into the salt-mines and work you till you die. Never see
daylight again. Why, I've heard tell of one fellow that was chained to
his mate, and that mate died. And they were both chained together! And
if they send you to the quicksilver mines you get salivated. I'd rather
be hung than salivated."

"Wot's salivated?" Jack asked, suddenly sitting up in his bunk at the
hint of fresh misfortunes.

"Why, the quicksilver gets into your blood; I think that's the way. And
your gums all swell like you had the scurvy, only worse, and your teeth
get loose in your jaws. And big ulcers form, and then you die horrible.
The strongest man can't last long a-mining quicksilver."

"A pad piziness," the boat-steerer reiterated, dolorously, in the
silence which followed. "A pad piziness. I vish I was in Yokohama. Eh?
Vot vas dot?"

The vessel had suddenly heeled over. The decks were aslant. A tin
pannikin rolled down the inclined plane, rattling and banging. From
above came the slapping of canvas and the quivering rat-tat-tat of the
after leech of the loosely stretched foresail. Then the mate's voice
sang down the hatch, "All hands on deck and make sail!"

Never had such summons been answered with more enthusiasm. The calm had
broken. The wind had come which was to carry them south into safety.
With a wild cheer all sprang on deck. Working with mad haste, they flung
out topsails, flying jibs and stay-sails. As they worked, the fog-bank
lifted and the black vault of heaven, bespangled with the old familiar
stars, rushed into view. When all was ship-shape, the _Mary Thomas_
was lying gallantly over on her side to a beam wind and plunging ahead
due south.

"Steamer's lights ahead on the port bow, sir!" cried the lookout from
his station on the forecastle-head. There was excitement in the man's
voice.

The captain sent Bub below for his night-glasses. Everybody crowded to
the lee-rail to gaze at the suspicious stranger, which already began to
loom up vague and indistinct. In those unfrequented waters the chance
was one in a thousand that it could be anything else than a Russian
patrol. The captain was still anxiously gazing through the glasses, when
a flash of flame left the stranger's side, followed by the loud report
of a cannon. The worst fears were confirmed. It was a patrol, evidently
firing across the bows of the _Mary Thomas_ in order to make her
heave to.

"Hard down with your helm!" the captain commanded the steers-man, all
the life gone out of his voice. Then to the crew, "Back over the jib and
foresail! Run down the flying jib! Clew up the foretopsail! And aft here
and swing on to the main-sheet!"

The _Mary Thomas_ ran into the eye of the wind, lost headway, and
fell to courtesying gravely to the long seas rolling up from the west.

The cruiser steamed a little nearer and lowered a boat. The sealers
watched in heartbroken silence. They could see the white bulk of the
boat as it was slacked away to the water, and its crew sliding aboard.
They could hear the creaking of the davits and the commands of the
officers. Then the boat sprang away under the impulse of the oars, and
came toward them. The wind had been rising, and already the sea was too
rough to permit the frail craft to lie alongside the tossing schooner;
but watching their chance, and taking advantage of the boarding ropes
thrown to them, an officer and a couple of men clambered aboard.
The boat then sheered off into safety and lay to its oars, a young
midshipman, sitting in the stern and holding the yoke-lines, in charge.

The officer, whose uniform disclosed his rank as that of second
lieutenant in the Russian navy, went below with the captain of the
_Mary Thomas_ to look at the ship's papers. A few minutes later he
emerged, and upon his sailors removing the hatch-covers, passed down
into the hold with a lantern to inspect the salt piles. It was a goodly
heap which confronted him--fifteen hundred fresh skins, the season's
catch; and under the circumstances he could have had but one conclusion.

"I am very sorry," he said, in broken English to the sealing captain,
when he again came on deck, "but it is my duty, in the name of the tsar,
to seize your vessel as a poacher caught with fresh skins in the closed
sea. The penalty, as you may know, is confiscation and imprisonment."

The captain of the _Mary Thomas_ shrugged his shoulders in seeming
indifference, and turned away. Although they may restrain all outward
show, strong men, under unmerited misfortune, are sometimes very close
to tears. Just then the vision of his little California home, and of the
wife and two yellow-haired boys, was strong upon him, and there was a
strange, choking sensation in his throat, which made him afraid that if
he attempted to speak he would sob instead.

And also there was upon him the duty he owed his men. No weakness before
them, for he must be a tower of strength to sustain them in misfortune.
He had already explained to the second lieutenant, and knew the
hopelessness of the situation. As the sea-lawyer had said, the evidence
was all against him. So he turned aft, and fell to pacing up and down
the poop of the vessel over which he was no longer commander.

The Russian officer now took temporary charge. He ordered more of his
men aboard, and had all the canvas clewed up and furled snugly away.
While this was being done, the boat plied back and forth between the
two vessels, passing a heavy hawser, which was made fast to the great
towing-bitts on the schooner's forecastle-head. During all this work
the sealers stood about in sullen groups. It was madness to think of
resisting, with the guns of a man-of-war not a biscuit-toss away; but
they refused to lend a hand, preferring instead to maintain a gloomy
silence.

Having accomplished his task, the lieutenant ordered all but four of his
men back into the boat. Then the midshipman, a lad of sixteen, looking
strangely mature and dignified in his uniform and sword, came aboard to
take command of the captured sealer. Just as the lieutenant prepared to
depart, his eyes chanced to alight upon Bub. Without a word of warning,
he seized him by the arm and dropped him over the rail into the waiting
boat; and then, with a parting wave of his hand, he followed him.

It was only natural that Bub should be frightened at this unexpected
happening. All the terrible stories he had heard of the Russians served
to make him fear them, and now returned to his mind with double force.
To be captured by them was bad enough, but to be carried off by them,
away from his comrades, was a fate of which he had not dreamed.

"Be a good boy, Bub," the captain called to him, as the boat drew away
from the _Mary Thomas_'s side, "and tell the truth!"

"Aye, aye, sir!" he answered, bravely enough, by all outward appearance.
He felt a certain pride of race, and was ashamed to be a coward before
these strange enemies, these wild Russian bears.

"Und be politeful!" the German boat-steerer added, his rough voice
lifting across the water like a fog-horn.

Bub waved his hand in farewell, and his mates clustered along the
rail as they answered with a cheering shout. He found room in the
stern-sheets, where he fell to regarding the lieutenant. He didn't look
so wild or bearish, after all--very much like other men, Bub concluded,
and the sailors were much the same as all other man-of-war's men he had
ever known. Nevertheless, as his feet struck the steel deck of the
cruiser, he felt as if he had entered the portals of a prison.

For a few minutes he was left unheeded. The sailors hoisted the boat up,
and swung it in on the davits. Then great clouds of black smoke poured
out of the funnels, and they were under way--to Siberia, Bub could not
help but think. He saw the _Mary Thomas_ swing abruptly into line
as she took the pressure from the hawser, and her side-lights, red and
green, rose and fell as she was towed through the sea.

Bub's eyes dimmed at the melancholy sight, but--but just then the
lieutenant came to take him down to the commander, and he straightened
up and set his lips firmly, as if this were a very commonplace affair
and he were used to being sent to Siberia every day in the week. The
cabin in which the commander sat was like a palace compared to the
humble fittings of the _Mary Thomas_, and the commander himself, in
gold lace and dignity, was a most august personage, quite unlike the
simple man who navigated his schooner on the trail of the seal pack.

Bub now quickly learned why he had been brought aboard, and in the
prolonged questioning which followed, told nothing but the plain truth.
The truth was harmless; only a lie could have injured his cause. He did
not know much, except that they had been sealing far to the south in
open water, and that when the calm and fog came down upon them, being
close to the line, they had drifted across. Again and again he insisted
that they had not lowered a boat or shot a seal in the week they had
been drifting about in the forbidden sea; but the commander chose to
consider all that he said to be a tissue of falsehoods, and adopted a
bullying tone in an effort to frighten the boy. He threatened and
cajoled by turns, but failed in the slightest to shake Bub's statements,
and at last ordered him out of his presence.

By some oversight, Bub was not put in anybody's charge, and wandered up
on deck unobserved. Sometimes the sailors, in passing, bent curious
glances upon him, but otherwise he was left strictly alone. Nor could he
have attracted much attention, for he was small, the night dark, and the
watch on deck intent on its own business. Stumbling over the strange
decks, he made his way aft where he could look upon the side-lights of
the _Mary Thomas_, following steadily in the rear.

For a long while he watched, and then lay down in the darkness close to
where the hawser passed over the stern to the captured schooner. Once
an officer came up and examined the straining rope to see if it were
chafing, but Bub cowered away in the shadow undiscovered. This, however,
gave him an idea which concerned the lives and liberties of twenty-two
men, and which was to avert crushing sorrow from more than one happy
home many thousand miles away.

In the first place, he reasoned, the crew were all guiltless of any
crime, and yet were being carried relentlessly away to imprisonment in
Siberia--a living death, he had heard, and he believed it implicitly.
In the second place, he was a prisoner, hard and fast, with no chance
of escape. In the third, it was possible for the twenty-two men on the
_Mary Thomas_ to escape. The only thing which bound them was a
four-inch hawser. They dared not cut it at their end, for a watch was
sure to be maintained upon it by their Russian captors; but at this end,
ah! at his end----

Bub did not stop to reason further. Wriggling close to the hawser, he
opened his jack-knife and went to work, The blade was not very sharp,
and he sawed away, rope-yarn by rope-yarn, the awful picture of the
solitary Siberian exile he must endure growing clearer and more terrible
at every stroke. Such a fate was bad enough to undergo with one's
comrades, but to face it alone seemed frightful. And besides, the very
act he was performing was sure to bring greater punishment upon him.

In the midst of such somber thoughts, he heard footsteps approaching.
He wriggled away into the shadow. An officer stopped where he had been
working, half-stooped to examine the hawser, then changed his mind and
straightened up. For a few minutes he stood there, gazing at the lights
of the captured schooner, and then went forward again.

Now was the time! Bub crept back and went on sawing. Now two parts were
severed. Now three. But one remained. The tension upon this was so great
that it readily yielded. Splash! The freed end went overboard. He lay
quietly, his heart in his mouth, listening. No one on the cruiser but
himself had heard.

He saw the red and green lights of the _Mary Thomas_ grow dimmer
and dimmer. Then a faint hallo came over the water from the Russian
prize crew. Still nobody heard. The smoke continued to pour out of the
cruiser's funnels, and her propellers throbbed as mightily as ever.

What was happening on the _Mary Thomas_? Bub could only surmise;
but of one thing he was certain: his comrades would assert themselves
and overpower the four sailors and the midshipman. A few minutes later
he saw a small flash, and straining his ears heard the very faint report
of a pistol. Then, oh joy! both the red and green lights suddenly
disappeared. The _Mary Thomas_ was retaken!

Just as an officer came aft, Bub crept forward, and hid away in
one of the boats. Not an instant too soon. The alarm was given. Loud
voices rose in command. The cruiser altered her course. An electric
search-light began to throw its white rays across the sea, here, there,
everywhere; but in its flashing path no tossing schooner was revealed.

Bub went to sleep soon after that, nor did he wake till the gray of
dawn. The engines were pulsing monotonously, and the water, splashing
noisily, told him the decks were being washed down. One sweeping glance,
and he saw that they were alone on the expanse of ocean. The _Mary
Thomas_ had escaped. As he lifted his head, a roar of laughter went
up from the sailors. Even the officer, who ordered him taken below and
locked up, could not quite conceal the laughter in his eyes. Bub thought
often in the days of confinement which followed, that they were not very
angry with him for what he had done.

He was not far from right. There is a certain innate nobility deep down
in the hearts of all men, which forces them to admire a brave act, even
if it is performed by an enemy. The Russians were in nowise different
from other men. True, a boy had outwitted them; but they could not blame
him, and they were sore puzzled as to what to do with him. It would
never do to take a little mite like him in to represent all that
remained of the lost poacher.

So, two weeks later, a United States man-of-war, steaming out of the
Russian port of Vladivostok, was signaled by a Russian cruiser. A boat
passed between the two ships, and a small boy dropped over the rail upon
the deck of the American vessel. A week later he was put ashore at
Hakodate, and after some telegraphing, his fare was paid on the railroad
to Yokohama.

From the depot he hurried through the quaint Japanese streets to the
harbor, and hired a _sampan_ boatman to put him aboard a certain
vessel whose familiar rigging had quickly caught his eye. Her gaskets
were off, her sails unfurled; she was just starting back to the United
States. As he came closer, a crowd of sailors sprang upon the forecastle
head, and the windlass-bars rose and fell as the anchor was torn from
its muddy bottom.

"'Yankee ship come down the ribber!'" the sea-lawyer's voice rolled out
as he led the anchor song.

"'Pull, my bully boys, pull!'" roared back the old familiar chorus, the
men's bodies lifting and bending to the rhythm.

Bub Russell paid the boatman and stepped on deck. The anchor was
forgotten. A mighty cheer went up from the men, and almost before he
could catch his breath he was on the shoulders of the captain,
surrounded by his mates, and endeavoring to answer twenty questions to
the second.

The next day a schooner hove to off a Japanese fishing village, sent
ashore four sailors and a little midshipman, and sailed away. These men
did not talk English, but they had money and quickly made their way to
Yokohama. From that day the Japanese village folk never heard anything
more about them, and they are still a much-talked-of mystery. As the
Russian government never said anything about the incident, the United
States is still ignorant of the whereabouts of the lost poacher, nor has
she ever heard, officially, of the way in which some of her citizens
"shanghaied" five subjects of the tsar. Even nations have secrets
sometimes.



THE BANKS OF THE SACRAMENTO

  "And it's blow, ye winds, heigh-ho,
  For Cal-i-for-ni-o;
  For there's plenty of gold so I've been told,
  On the banks of the Sacramento!"


It was only a little boy, singing in a shrill treble the sea chantey
which seamen sing the wide world over when they man the capstan bars and
break the anchors out for "Frisco" port. It was only a little boy who
had never seen the sea, but two hundred feet beneath him rolled the
Sacramento. "Young" Jerry he was called, after "Old" Jerry, his father,
from whom he had learned the song, as well as received his shock of
bright-red hair, his blue, dancing eyes, and his fair and inevitably
freckled skin.

For Old Jerry had been a sailor, and had followed the sea till middle
life, haunted always by the words of the ringing chantey. Then one day
he had sung the song in earnest, in an Asiatic port, swinging and
thrilling round the capstan-circle with twenty others. And at San
Francisco he turned his back upon his ship and upon the sea, and went
to behold with his own eyes the banks of the Sacramento.

He beheld the gold, too, for he found employment at the Yellow Dream
mine, and proved of utmost usefulness in rigging the great ore-cables
across the river and two hundred feet above its surface.

After that he took charge of the cables and kept them in repair, and ran
them and loved them, and became himself an indispensable fixture of the
Yellow Dream mine. Then he loved pretty Margaret Kelly; but she had left
him and Young Jerry, the latter barely toddling, to take up her last
long sleep in the little graveyard among the great sober pines.

Old Jerry never went back to the sea. He remained by his cables, and
lavished upon them and Young Jerry all the love of his nature. When evil
days came to the Yellow-Dream, he still remained in the employ of the
company as watchman over the all but abandoned property.

But this morning he was not visible. Young Jerry only was to be seen,
sitting on the cabin step and singing the ancient chantey. He had cooked
and eaten his breakfast all by himself, and had just come out to take a
look at the world. Twenty feet before him stood the steel drum round
which the endless cable worked. By the drum, snug and fast, was the
ore-car. Following with his eyes the dizzy flight of the cables to the
farther bank, he could see the other drum and the other car.

The contrivance was worked by gravity, the loaded car crossing the river
by virtue of its own weight, and at the same time dragging the empty car
back. The loaded car being emptied, and the empty car being loaded with
more ore, the performance could be repeated--a performance which had
been repeated tens of thousands of times since the day Old Jerry became
the keeper of the cables.

Young Jerry broke off his song at the sound of approaching footsteps, A
tall, blue-shirted man, a rifle across the hollow of his arm, came out
from the gloom of the pine-trees. It was Hall, watchman of the Yellow
Dragon mine, the cables of which spanned the Sacramento a mile farther
up.

"Hello, younker!" was his greeting. "What you doin' here by your
lonesome?"

"Oh, bachin'," Jerry tried to answer unconcernedly, as if it were a very
ordinary sort of thing. "Dad's away, you see."

"Where's he gone?" the man asked.

"San Francisco. Went last night. His brother's dead in the old country,
and he's gone down to see the lawyers. Won't be back till tomorrow
night."

So spoke Jerry, and with pride, because of the responsibility which had
fallen to him of keeping an eye on the property of the Yellow Dream, and
the glorious adventure of living alone on the cliff above the river and
of cooking his own meals.

"Well, take care of yourself," Hall said, "and don't monkey with the
cables. I'm goin' to see if I can't pick up a deer in the Cripple Cow
Cañon."

"It's goin' to rain, I think," Jerry said, with mature deliberation.

"And it's little I mind a wettin'," Hall laughed, as he strode away
among the trees.

Jerry's prediction concerning rain was more than fulfilled. By ten
o'clock the pines were swaying and moaning, the cabin windows rattling,
and the rain driving by in fierce squalls. At half past eleven he
kindled a fire, and promptly at the stroke of twelve sat down to his
dinner.

No out-of-doors for him that day, he decided, when he had washed the few
dishes and put them neatly away; and he wondered how wet Hall was and
whether he had succeeded in picking up a deer.

At one o'clock there came a knock at the door, and when he opened it a
man and a woman staggered in on the breast of a great gust of wind. They
were Mr. and Mrs. Spillane, ranchers, who lived in a lonely valley a
dozen miles back from the river.

"Where's Hall?" was Spillane's opening speech, and he spoke sharply and
quickly.

Jerry noted that he was nervous and abrupt in his movements, and that
Mrs. Spillane seemed laboring under some strong anxiety. She was a thin,
washed-out, worked-out woman, whose life of dreary and unending toil had
stamped itself harshly upon her face. It was the same life that had
bowed her husband's shoulders and gnarled his hands and turned his hair
to a dry and dusty gray.

"He's gone hunting up Cripple Cow," Jerry answered. "Did you want to
cross?"

The woman began to weep quietly, while Spillane dropped a troubled
exclamation and strode to the window. Jerry joined him in gazing out to
where the cables lost themselves in the thick downpour.

It was the custom of the backwoods people in that section of country
to cross the Sacramento on the Yellow Dragon cable. For this service a
small toll was charged, which tolls the Yellow Dragon Company applied to
the payment of Hall's wages.

"We've got to get across, Jerry," Spillane said, at the same time
jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the direction of his wife. "Her
father's hurt at the Clover Leaf. Powder explosion. Not expected to
live. We just got word."

Jerry felt himself fluttering inwardly. He knew that Spillane wanted to
cross on the Yellow Dream cable, and in the absence of his father he
felt that he dared not assume such a responsibility, for the cable had
never been used for passengers; in fact, had not been used at all for a
long time.

"Maybe Hall will be back soon," he said.

Spillane shook his head, and demanded, "Where's your father?"

"San Francisco," Jerry answered, briefly.

Spillane groaned, and fiercely drove his clenched fist into the palm of
the other hand. His wife was crying more audibly, and Jerry could hear
her murmuring, "And daddy's dyin', dyin'!"

The tears welled up in his own eyes, and he stood irresolute, not
knowing what he should do. But the man decided for him.

"Look here, kid," he said, with determination, "the wife and me are
goin' over on this here cable of yours! Will you run it for us?"

Jerry backed slightly away. He did it unconsciously, as if recoiling
instinctively from something unwelcome.

"Better see if Hall's back," he suggested.

"And if he ain't?"

Again Jerry hesitated.

"I'll stand for the risk," Spillane added. "Don't you see, kid, we've
simply got to cross!"

Jerry nodded his head reluctantly.

"And there ain't no use waitin' for Hall," Spillane went on. "You know
as well as me he ain't back from Cripple Cow this time of day! So come
along and let's get started."

No wonder that Mrs. Spillane seemed terrified as they helped her
into the ore-car--so Jerry thought, as he gazed into the apparently
fathomless gulf beneath her. For it was so filled with rain and cloud,
hurtling and curling in the fierce blast, that the other shore, seven
hundred feet away, was invisible, while the cliff at their feet dropped
sheer down and lost itself in the swirling vapor. By all appearances it
might be a mile to bottom instead of two hundred feet.

"All ready?" he asked.

"Let her go!" Spillane shouted, to make himself heard above the roar of
the wind.

He had clambered in beside his wife, and was holding one of her hands in
his.

Jerry looked upon this with disapproval. "You'll need all your hands for
holdin' on, the way the wind's yowlin.'"

The man and the woman shifted their hands accordingly, tightly gripping
the sides of the car, and Jerry slowly and carefully released the brake.
The drum began to revolve as the endless cable passed round it, and the
car slid slowly out into the chasm, its trolley wheels rolling on the
stationary cable overhead, to which it was suspended.

It was not the first time Jerry had worked the cable, but it was the
first time he had done so away from the supervising eye of his father.
By means of the brake he regulated the speed of the car. It needed
regulating, for at times, caught by the stronger gusts of wind, it
swayed violently back and forth; and once, just before it was swallowed
up in a rain squall, it seemed about to spill out its human contents.

After that Jerry had no way of knowing where the car was except by means
of the cable. This he watched keenly as it glided around the drum.
"Three hundred feet," he breathed to himself, as the cable markings went
by, "three hundred and fifty, four hundred; four hundred and----"

The cable had stopped. Jerry threw off the brake, but it did not move.
He caught the cable with his hands and tried to start it by tugging
smartly. Something had gone wrong. What? He could not guess; he could
not see. Looking up, he could vaguely make out the empty car, which had
been crossing from the opposite cliff at a speed equal to that of the
loaded car. It was about two hundred and fifty feet away. That meant, he
knew, that somewhere in the gray obscurity, two hundred feet above the
river and two hundred and fifty feet from the other bank, Spillane and
his wife were suspended and stationary.

Three times Jerry shouted with all the shrill force of his lungs, but
no answering cry came out of the storm. It was impossible for him to
hear them or to make himself heard. As he stood for a moment, thinking
rapidly, the flying clouds seemed to thin and lift. He caught a brief
glimpse of the swollen Sacramento beneath, and a briefer glimpse of the
car and the man and woman. Then the clouds descended thicker than ever.

The boy examined the drum closely, and found nothing the matter with it.
Evidently it was the drum on the other side that had gone wrong. He was
appalled at thought of the man and woman out there in the midst of the
storm, hanging over the abyss, rocking back and forth in the frail car
and ignorant of what was taking place on shore. And he did not like to
think of their hanging there while he went round by the Yellow Dragon
cable to the other drum.

But he remembered a block and tackle in the tool-house, and ran and
brought it. They were double blocks, and he murmured aloud, "A purchase
of four," as he made the tackle fast to the endless cable. Then he
heaved upon it, heaved until it seemed that his arms were being drawn
out from their sockets and that his shoulder muscles would be ripped
asunder. Yet the cable did not budge. Nothing remained but to cross over
to the other side.

He was already soaking wet, so he did not mind the rain as he ran over
the trail to the Yellow Dragon. The storm was with him, and it was easy
going, although there was no Hall at the other end of it to man the
brake for him and regulate the speed of the car. This he did for
himself, however, by means of a stout rope, which he passed, with a
turn, round the stationary cable.

As the full force of the wind struck him in mid-air, swaying the cable
and whistling and roaring past it, and rocking and careening the car, he
appreciated more fully what must be the condition of mind of Spillane
and his wife. And this appreciation gave strength to him, as, safely
across, he fought his way up the other bank, in the teeth of the gale,
to the Yellow Dream cable.

To his consternation, he found the drum in thorough working order.
Everything was running smoothly at both ends. Where was the hitch? In
the middle, without a doubt.

From this side, the car containing Spillane was only two hundred and
fifty feet away. He could make out the man and woman through the
whirling vapor, crouching in the bottom of the car and exposed to the
pelting rain and the full fury of the wind. In a lull between the
squalls he shouted to Spillane to examine the trolley of the car.

Spillane heard, for he saw him rise up cautiously on his knees, and with
his hands go over both trolley-wheels. Then he turned his face toward
the bank.

"She's all right, kid!"

Jerry heard the words, faint and far, as from a remote distance. Then
what was the matter? Nothing remained but the other and empty car, which
he could not see, but which he knew to be there, somewhere in that
terrible gulf two hundred feet beyond Spillane's car.

His mind was made up on the instant. He was only fourteen years old,
slightly and wirily built; but his life had been lived among the
mountains, his father had taught him no small measure of "sailoring,"
and he was not particularly afraid of heights.

In the tool-box by the drum he found an old monkey-wrench and a short
bar of iron, also a coil of fairly new Manila rope. He looked in vain
for a piece of board with which to rig a "boatswain's chair." There was
nothing at hand but large planks, which he had no means of sawing, so he
was compelled to do without the more comfortable form of saddle.

The saddle he rigged was very simple. With the rope he made merely a
large loop round the stationary cable, to which hung the empty car. When
he sat in the loop his hands could just reach the cable conveniently,
and where the rope was likely to fray against the cable he lashed his
coat, in lieu of the old sack he would have used had he been able to
find one.

These preparations swiftly completed, he swung out over the chasm,
sitting in the rope saddle and pulling himself along the cable by his
hands. With him he carried the monkey-wrench and short iron bar and a
few spare feet of rope. It was a slightly up-hill pull, but this he did
not mind so much as the wind. When the furious gusts hurled him back and
forth, sometimes half twisting him about, and he gazed down into the
gray depths, he was aware that he was afraid. It was an old cable. What
if it should break under his weight and the pressure of the wind?

It was fear he was experiencing, honest fear, and he knew that there was
a "gone" feeling in the pit of his stomach, and a trembling of the knees
which he could not quell.

But he held himself bravely to the task. The cable was old and worn,
sharp pieces of wire projected from it, and his hands were cut and
bleeding by the time he took his first rest, and held a shouted
conversation with Spillane. The car was directly beneath him and only a
few feet away, so he was able to explain the condition of affairs and
his errand.

"Wish I could help you," Spillane shouted at him as he started on, "but
the wife's gone all to pieces! Anyway, kid, take care of yourself! I got
myself in this fix, but it's up to you to get me out!"

"Oh, I'll do it!" Jerry shouted back. "Tell Mrs. Spillane that she'll be
ashore now in a jiffy!"

In the midst of pelting rain, which half-blinded him, swinging from side
to side like a rapid and erratic pendulum, his torn hands paining him
severely and his lungs panting from his exertions and panting from the
very air which the wind sometimes blew into his mouth with strangling
force, he finally arrived at the empty car.

A single glance showed him that he had not made the dangerous journey in
vain. The front trolley-wheel, loose from long wear, had jumped the
cable, and the cable was now jammed tightly between the wheel and the
sheave-block.

One thing was clear--the wheel must be removed from the block. A second
thing was equally clear--while the wheel was being removed the car would
have to be fastened to the cable by the rope he had brought.

At the end of a quarter of an hour, beyond making the car secure, he
had accomplished nothing. The key which bound the wheel on its axle was
rusted and jammed. He hammered at it with one hand and held on the best
he could with the other, but the wind persisted in swinging and twisting
his body, and made his blows miss more often than not. Nine-tenths of
the strength he expended was in trying to hold himself steady. For fear
that he might drop the monkey-wrench he made it fast to his wrist with
his handkerchief.

At the end of half an hour Jerry had hammered the key clear, but he
could not draw it out. A dozen times it seemed that he must give up
in despair, that all the danger and toil he had gone through were for
nothing. Then an idea came to him, and he went through his pockets with
feverish haste, and found what he sought--a ten-penny nail.

But for that nail, put in his pocket he knew not when or why, he would
have had to make another trip over the cable and back. Thrusting the
nail through the looped head of the key, he at last had a grip, and in
no time the key was out.

Then came punching and prying with the iron bar to get the wheel itself
free from where it was jammed by the cable against the side of the
block. After that Jerry replaced the wheel, and by means of the rope,
heaved up on the car till the trolley once more rested properly on the
cable.

All this took time. More than an hour and a half had elapsed since his
arrival at the empty car. And now, for the first time, he dropped out of
his saddle and down into the car. He removed the detaining ropes, and
the trolley-wheels began slowly to revolve. The car was moving, and he
knew that somewhere beyond, although he could not see, the car of
Spillane was likewise moving, and in the opposite direction.

There was no need for a brake, for his weight sufficiently
counterbalanced the weight in the other car; and soon he saw the cliff
rising out of the cloud depths and the old familiar drum going round and
round.

Jerry climbed out and made the car securely fast. He did it deliberately
and carefully, and then, quite unhero-like, he sank down by the drum,
regardless of the pelting storm, and burst out sobbing.

There were many reasons why he sobbed--partly from the pain of his
hands, which was excruciating; partly from exhaustion; partly from
relief and release from the nerve-tension he had been under for so long;
and in a large measure from thankfulness that the man and woman were
saved.

They were not there to thank him; but somewhere beyond that howling,
storm-driven gulf he knew they were hurrying over the trail toward the
Clover Leaf.

Jerry staggered to the cabin, and his hand left the white knob red with
blood as he opened the door, but he took no notice of it.

He was too proudly contented with himself, for he was certain that he
had done well, and he was honest enough to admit to himself that he had
done well. But a small regret arose and persisted in his thoughts--if
his father had only been there to see!



CHRIS FARRINGTON: ABLE SEAMAN


"If you vas in der old country ships, a liddle shaver like you vood pe
only der boy, und you vood wait on der able seamen. Und ven der able
seaman sing out, 'Boy, der water-jug!' you vood jump quick, like a shot,
und bring der water-jug. Und ven der able seaman sing out, 'Boy, my
boots!' you vood get der boots. Und you vood pe politeful, und say
'Yessir' und 'No sir.' But you pe in der American ship, und you t'ink
you are so good as der able seamen. Chris, mine boy, I haf ben a
sailorman for twenty-two years, und do you t'ink you are so good as me?
I vas a sailorman pefore you vas borned, und I knot und reef und splice
ven you play mit topstrings und fly kites."

"But you are unfair, Emil!" cried Chris Farrington, his sensitive face
flushed and hurt. He was a slender though strongly built young fellow of
seventeen, with Yankee ancestry writ large all over him.

"Dere you go vonce again!" the Swedish sailor exploded. "My name is
Mister Johansen, und a kid of a boy like you call me 'Emil!' It vas
insulting, und comes pecause of der American ship!"

"But you call me 'Chris!'" the boy expostulated, reproachfully.

"But you vas a boy."

"Who does a man's work," Chris retorted. "And because I do a man's work
I have as much right to call you by your first name as you me. We are
all equals in this fo'castle, and you know it. When we signed for the
voyage in San Francisco, we signed as sailors on the _Sophie
Sutherland_ and there was no difference made with any of us. Haven't
I always done my work? Did I ever shirk? Did you or any other man ever
have to take a wheel for me? Or a lookout? Or go aloft?"

"Chris is right," interrupted a young English sailor. "No man has had to
do a tap of his work yet. He signed as good as any of us, and he's shown
himself as good--"

"Better!" broke in a Nova Scotia man. "Better than some of us! When
we struck the sealing-grounds he turned out to be next to the best
boat-steerer aboard. Only French Louis, who'd been at it for years,
could beat him. I'm only a boat-puller, and you're only a boat-puller,
too, Emil Johansen, for all your twenty-two years at sea. Why don't you
become a boat-steerer?"

"Too clumsy," laughed the Englishman, "and too slow."

"Little that counts, one way or the other," joined in Dane Jurgensen,
coming to the aid of his Scandinavian brother. "Emil is a man grown and
an able seaman; the boy is neither."

And so the argument raged back and forth, the Swedes, Norwegians and
Danes, because of race kinship, taking the part of Johansen, and the
English, Canadians and Americans taking the part of Chris. From an
unprejudiced point of view, the right was on the side of Chris. As he
had truly said, he did a man's work, and the same work that any of them
did. But they were prejudiced, and badly so, and out of the words which
passed rose a standing quarrel which divided the forecastle into two
parties.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Sophie Sutherland_ was a seal-hunter, registered out of San
Francisco, and engaged in hunting the furry sea-animals along the
Japanese coast north to Bering Sea. The other vessels were two-masted
schooners, but she was a three-master and the largest in the fleet. In
fact, she was a full-rigged, three-topmast schooner, newly built.

Although Chris Farrington knew that justice was with him, and that he
performed all his work faithfully and well, many a time, in secret
thought, he longed for some pressing emergency to arise whereby he could
demonstrate to the Scandinavian seamen that he also was an able seaman.

But one stormy night, by an accident for which he was in nowise
accountable, in overhauling a spare anchor-chain he had all the fingers
of his left hand badly crushed. And his hopes were likewise crushed, for
it was impossible for him to continue hunting with the boats, and he was
forced to stay idly aboard until his fingers should heal. Yet, although
he little dreamed it, this very accident was to give him the
long-looked-for opportunity.

One afternoon in the latter part of May the _Sophie Sutherland_
rolled sluggishly in a breathless calm. The seals were abundant, the
hunting good, and the boats were all away and out of sight. And with
them was almost every man of the crew. Besides Chris, there remained
only the captain, the sailing-master and the Chinese cook.

The captain was captain only by courtesy. He was an old man, past
eighty, and blissfully ignorant of the sea and its ways; but he was the
owner of the vessel, and hence the honorable title. Of course the
sailing-master, who was really captain, was a thorough-going seaman. The
mate, whose post was aboard, was out with the boats, having temporarily
taken Chris's place as boat-steerer.

When good weather and good sport came together, the boats were
accustomed to range far and wide, and often did not return to the
schooner until long after dark. But for all that it was a perfect
hunting day, Chris noted a growing anxiety on the part of the
sailing-master. He paced the deck nervously, and was constantly sweeping
the horizon with his marine glasses. Not a boat was in sight. As sunset
arrived, he even sent Chris aloft to the mizzen-topmast-head, but with
no better luck. The boats could not possibly be back before midnight.

Since noon the barometer had been falling with startling rapidity, and
all the signs were ripe for a great storm--how great, not even the
sailing-master anticipated. He and Chris set to work to prepare for
it. They put storm gaskets on the furled topsails, lowered and stowed
the foresail and spanker and took in the two inner jibs. In the one
remaining jib they put a single reef, and a single reef in the mainsail.

Night had fallen before they finished, and with the darkness came the
storm. A low moan swept over the sea, and the wind struck the _Sophie
Sutherland_ flat. But she righted quickly, and with the sailing-master
at the wheel, sheered her bow into within five points of the wind.
Working as well as he could with his bandaged hand, and with the feeble
aid of the Chinese cook, Chris went forward and backed the jib over to
the weather side. This with the flat mainsail, left the schooner hove to.

"God help the boats! It's no gale! It's a typhoon!" the sailing-master
shouted to Chris at eleven o'clock. "Too much canvas! Got to get two
more reefs into that mainsail, and got to do it right away!" He glanced
at the old captain, shivering in oilskins at the binnacle and holding on
for dear life. "There's only you and I, Chris--and the cook; but he's
next to worthless!"

In order to make the reef, it was necessary to lower the mainsail, and
the removal of this after pressure was bound to make the schooner fall
off before the wind and sea because of the forward pressure of the jib.

"Take the wheel!" the sailing-master directed. "And when I give the
word, hard up with it! And when she's square before it, steady her! And
keep her there! We'll heave to again as soon as I get the reefs in!"

Gripping the kicking spokes, Chris watched him and the reluctant cook go
forward into the howling darkness. The _Sophie Sutherland_ was
plunging into the huge head-seas and wallowing tremendously, the tense
steel stays and taut rigging humming like harp-strings to the wind. A
buffeted cry came to his ears, and he felt the schooner's bow paying off
of its own accord. The mainsail was down!

He ran the wheel hard-over and kept anxious track of the changing
direction of the wind on his face and of the heave of the vessel. This
was the crucial moment. In performing the evolution she would have to
pass broadside to the surge before she could get before it. The wind was
blowing directly on his right cheek, when he felt the _Sophie
Sutherland_ lean over and begin to rise toward the sky--up--up--an
infinite distance! Would she clear the crest of the gigantic wave?

Again by the feel of it, for he could see nothing, he knew that a wall
of water was rearing and curving far above him along the whole weather
side. There was an instant's calm as the liquid wall intervened and shut
off the wind. The schooner righted, and for that instant seemed at
perfect rest. Then she rolled to meet the descending rush.

Chris shouted to the captain to hold tight, and prepared himself for the
shock. But the man did not live who could face it. An ocean of water
smote Chris's back and his clutch on the spokes was loosened as if it
were a baby's. Stunned, powerless, like a straw on the face of a
torrent, he was swept onward he knew not whither. Missing the corner of
the cabin, he was dashed forward along the poop runway a hundred feet or
more, striking violently against the foot of the foremast. A second
wave, crushing inboard, hurled him back the way he had come, and left
him half-drowned where the poop steps should have been.

Bruised and bleeding, dimly conscious, he felt for the rail and dragged
himself to his feet. Unless something could be done, he knew the last
moment had come. As he faced the poop, the wind drove into his mouth
with suffocating force. This brought him back to his senses with a
start. The wind was blowing from dead aft! The schooner was out of the
trough and before it! But the send of the sea was bound to breach her to
again. Crawling up the runway, he managed to get to the wheel just in
time to prevent this. The binnacle light was still burning. They were
safe!

That is, he and the schooner were safe. As to the welfare of his three
companions he could not say. Nor did he dare leave the wheel in order to
find out, for it took every second of his undivided attention to keep
the vessel to her course. The least fraction of carelessness and the
heave of the sea under the quarter was liable to thrust her into the
trough. So, a boy of one hundred and forty pounds, he clung to his
herculean task of guiding the two hundred straining tons of fabric amid
the chaos of the great storm forces.

Half an hour later, groaning and sobbing, the captain crawled to Chris's
feet. All was lost, he whimpered. He was smitten unto death. The galley
had gone by the board, the mainsail and running-gear, the cook,
everything!

"Where's the sailing-master?" Chris demanded when he had caught his
breath after steadying a wild lurch of the schooner. It was no child's
play to steer a vessel under single-reefed jib before a typhoon.

"Clean up for'ard," the old man replied. "Jammed under the
fo'c'sle-head, but still breathing. Both his arms are broken, he says,
and he doesn't know how many ribs. He's hurt bad."

"Well, he'll drown there the way she's shipping water through the
hawse-pipes. Go for'ard!" Chris commanded, taking charge of things as a
matter of course. "Tell him not to worry; that I'm at the wheel. Help
him as much as you can, and make him help"--he stopped and ran the
spokes to starboard as a tremendous billow rose under the stern and
yawed the schooner to port--"and make him help himself for the rest.
Unship the fo'castle hatch and get him down into a bunk. Then ship the
hatch again."

The captain turned his aged face forward and wavered pitifully. The
waist of the ship was full of water to the bulwarks. He had just come
through it, and knew death lurked every inch of the way.

"Go!" Chris shouted, fiercely. And as the fear-stricken man started,
"And take another look for the cook!"

Two hours later, almost dead from suffering, the captain returned. He
had obeyed orders. The sailing-master was helpless, although safe in a
bunk; the cook was gone. Chris sent the captain below to the cabin to
change his clothes.

After interminable hours of toil, day broke cold and gray. Chris looked
about him. The _Sophie Sutherland_ was racing before the typhoon
like a thing possessed. There was no rain, but the wind whipped the
spray of the sea mast-high, obscuring everything except in the immediate
neighborhood.

Two waves only could Chris see at a time--the one before and the one
behind. So small and insignificant the schooner seemed on the long
Pacific roll! Rushing up a maddening mountain, she would poise like a
cockle-shell on the giddy summit, breathless and rolling, leap outward
and down into the yawning chasm beneath, and bury herself in the smother
of foam at the bottom. Then the recovery, another mountain, another
sickening upward rush, another poise, and the downward crash. Abreast of
him, to starboard, like a ghost of the storm, Chris saw the cook dashing
apace with the schooner. Evidently, when washed overboard, he had
grasped and become entangled in a trailing halyard.

For three hours more, alone with this gruesome companion, Chris held the
_Sophie Sutherland_ before the wind and sea. He had long since
forgotten his mangled fingers. The bandages had been torn away, and the
cold, salt spray had eaten into the half-healed wounds until they were
numb and no longer pained. But he was not cold. The terrific labor of
steering forced the perspiration from every pore. Yet he was faint and
weak with hunger and exhaustion, and hailed with delight the advent on
deck of the captain, who fed him all of a pound of cake-chocolate. It
strengthened him at once.

He ordered the captain to cut the halyard by which the cook's body was
towing, and also to go forward and cut loose the jib-halyard and sheet.
When he had done so, the jib fluttered a couple of moments like a
handkerchief, then tore out of the bolt-ropes and vanished. The
_Sophie Sutherland_ was running under bare poles.

By noon the storm had spent itself, and by six in the evening the waves
had died down sufficiently to let Chris leave the helm. It was almost
hopeless to dream of the small boats weathering the typhoon, but there
is always the chance in saving human life, and Chris at once applied
himself to going back over the course along which he had fled. He
managed to get a reef in one of the inner jibs and two reefs in the
spanker, and then, with the aid of the watch-tackle, to hoist them to
the stiff breeze that yet blew. And all through the night, tacking back
and forth on the back track, he shook out canvas as fast as the wind
would permit.

The injured sailing-master had turned delirious and between tending him
and lending a hand with the ship, Chris kept the captain busy. "Taught
me more seamanship," as he afterward said, "than I'd learned on the
whole voyage." But by daybreak the old man's feeble frame succumbed, and
he fell off into exhausted sleep on the weather poop.

Chris, who could now lash the wheel, covered the tired man with blankets
from below, and went fishing in the lazaretto for something to eat.
But by the day following he found himself forced to give in, drowsing
fitfully by the wheel and waking ever and anon to take a look at things.

On the afternoon of the third day he picked up a schooner, dismasted and
battered. As he approached, close-hauled on the wind, he saw her decks
crowded by an unusually large crew, and on sailing in closer, made out
among others the faces of his missing comrades. And he was just in the
nick of time, for they were fighting a losing fight at the pumps. An
hour later they, with the crew of the sinking craft, were aboard the
_Sophie Sutherland_.

Having wandered so far from their own vessel, they had taken refuge on
the strange schooner just before the storm broke. She was a Canadian
sealer on her first voyage, and as was now apparent, her last.

The captain of the _Sophie Sutherland_ had a story to tell, also,
and he told it well--so well, in fact, that when all hands were gathered
together on deck during the dog-watch, Emil Johansen strode over to
Chris and gripped him by the hand.

"Chris," he said, so loudly that all could hear, "Chris, I gif in. You
vas yoost so good a sailorman as I. You vas a bully boy, und able
seaman, und I pe proud for you!

"Und Chris!" He turned as if he had forgotten something, and called
back, "From dis time always you call me 'Emil' mitout der 'Mister!'"



TO REPEL BOARDERS


"No; honest, now, Bob, I'm sure I was born too late. The twentieth
century's no place for me. If I'd had my way----"

"You'd have been born in the sixteenth," I broke in, laughing, "with
Drake and Hawkins and Raleigh and the rest of the sea-kings."

"You're right!" Paul affirmed. He rolled over upon his back on the
little after-deck, with a long sigh of dissatisfaction.

It was a little past midnight, and, with the wind nearly astern, we were
running down Lower San Francisco Bay to Bay Farm Island. Paul Fairfax
and I went to the same school, lived next door to each other, and
"chummed it" together. By saving money, by earning more, and by
each of us foregoing a bicycle on his birthday, we had collected
the purchase-price of the _Mist_, a beamy twenty-eight-footer,
sloop-rigged, with baby topsail and centerboard. Paul's father was a
yachtsman himself, and he had conducted the business for us, poking
around, overhauling, sticking his penknife into the timbers, and testing
the planks with the greatest care. In fact, it was on his schooner,
the _Whim_, that Paul and I had picked up what we knew about
boat-sailing, and now that the _Mist_ was ours, we were hard at
work adding to our knowledge.

The _Mist_, being broad of beam, was comfortable and roomy.
A man could stand upright in the cabin, and what with the stove,
cooking-utensils, and bunks, we were good for trips in her of a week at
a time. And we were just starting out on the first of such trips, and it
was because it was the first trip that we were sailing by night. Early
in the evening we had beaten out from Oakland, and we were now off the
mouth of Alameda Creek, a large salt-water estuary which fills and
empties San Leandro Bay.

"Men lived in those days," Paul said, so suddenly as to startle me from
my own thoughts. "In the days of the sea-kings, I mean," he explained.

I said "Oh!" sympathetically, and began to whistle "Captain Kidd."

"Now, I've my ideas about things," Paul went on. "They talk about
romance and adventure and all that, but I say romance and adventure are
dead. We're too civilized. We don't have adventures in the twentieth
century. We go to the circus----"

"But----" I strove to interrupt, though he would not listen to me.

"You look here, Bob," he said. "In all the time you and I've gone
together what adventures have we had? True, we were out in the hills
once, and didn't get back till late at night, and we were good and
hungry, but we weren't even lost. We knew where we were all the time. It
was only a case of walk. What I mean is, we've never had to fight for
our lives. Understand? We've never had a pistol fired at us, or a
cannon, or a sword waving over our heads, or--or anything....

"You'd better slack away three or four feet of that main-sheet," he said
in a hopeless sort of way, as though it did not matter much anyway. "The
wind's still veering around.

"Why, in the old times the sea was one constant glorious adventure,"
he continued. "A boy left school and became a midshipman, and in a few
weeks was cruising after Spanish galleons or locking yard-arms with a
French privateer, or--doing lots of things."

"Well--there _are_ adventures today," I objected.

But Paul went on as though I had not spoken:

"And today we go from school to high school, and from high school to
college, and then we go into the office or become doctors and things,
and the only adventures we know about are the ones we read in books.
Why, just as sure as I'm sitting here on the stern of the sloop
_Mist_, just so sure am I that we wouldn't know what to do if a
real adventure came along. Now, would we?"

"Oh, I don't know," I answered non-committally.

"Well, you wouldn't be a coward, would you?" he demanded.

I was sure I wouldn't and said so.

"But you don't have to be a coward to lose your head, do you?"

I agreed that brave men might get excited.

"Well, then," Paul summed up, with a note of regret in his voice, "the
chances are that we'd spoil the adventure. So it's a shame, and that's
all I can say about it."

"The adventure hasn't come yet," I answered, not caring to see him down
in the mouth over nothing. You see, Paul was a peculiar fellow in some
things, and I knew him pretty well. He read a good deal, and had a quick
imagination, and once in a while he'd get into moods like this one. So I
said, "The adventure hasn't come yet, so there's no use worrying about
its being spoiled. For all we know, it might turn out splendidly."

Paul didn't say anything for some time, and I was thinking he was out of
the mood, when he spoke up suddenly:

"Just imagine, Bob Kellogg, as we're sailing along now, just as we are,
and never mind what for, that a boat should bear down upon us with armed
men in it, what would you do to repel boarders? Think you could rise to
it?"

"What would _you_ do?" I asked pointedly. "Remember, we haven't
even a single shotgun aboard."

"You would surrender, then?" he demanded angrily. "But suppose they were
going to kill you?"

"I'm not saying what I'd do," I answered stiffly, beginning to get a
little angry myself. "I'm asking what you'd do, without weapons of any
sort?"

"I'd find something," he replied--rather shortly, I thought.

I began to chuckle. "Then the adventure wouldn't be spoiled, would it?
And you've been talking rubbish."

Paul struck a match, looked at his watch, and remarked that it was
nearly one o'clock--a way he had when the argument went against him.
Besides, this was the nearest we ever came to quarreling now, though
our share of squabbles had fallen to us in the earlier days of our
friendship. I had just seen a little white light ahead when Paul
spoke again.

"Anchor-light," he said. "Funny place for people to drop the hook. It
may be a scow-schooner with a dinky astern, so you'd better go wide."

I eased the _Mist_ several points, and, the wind puffing up, we
went plowing along at a pretty fair speed, passing the light so wide
that we could not make out what manner of craft it marked. Suddenly the
_Mist_ slacked up in a slow and easy way, as though running upon
soft mud. We were both startled. The wind was blowing stronger than
ever, and yet we were almost at a standstill.

"Mud-flat out here? Never heard of such a thing!"

So Paul exclaimed with a snort of unbelief, and, seizing an oar, shoved
it down over the side. And straight down it went till the water wet
his hand. There was no bottom! Then we were dumbfounded. The wind was
whistling by, and still the _Mist_ was moving ahead at a snail's
pace. There seemed something dead about her, and it was all I could do
at the tiller to keep her from swinging up into the wind.

"Listen!" I laid my hand on Paul's arm. We could hear the sound of
rowlocks, and saw the little white light bobbing up and down and now
very close to us. "There's your armed boat," I whispered in fun.
"Beat the crew to quarters and stand by to repel boarders!"

We both laughed, and were still laughing when a wild scream of rage came
out of the darkness, and the approaching boat shot under our stern.
By the light of the lantern it carried we could see the two men in it
distinctly. They were foreign-looking fellows with sun-bronzed faces,
and with knitted tam-o'-shanters perched seaman fashion on their heads.
Bright-colored woolen sashes were around their waists, and long
sea-boots covered their legs. I remember yet the cold chill which passed
along my backbone as I noted the tiny gold ear-rings in the ears of one.
For all the world they were like pirates stepped out of the pages of
romance. And, to make the picture complete, their faces were distorted
with anger, and each flourished a long knife. They were both shouting,
in high-pitched voices, some foreign jargon we could not understand.

One of them, the smaller of the two, and if anything the more
vicious-looking, put his hands on the rail of the _Mist_ and
started to come aboard. Quick as a flash Paul placed the end of the oar
against the man's chest and shoved him back into his boat. He fell in a
heap, but scrambled to his feet, waving the knife and shrieking:

"You break-a my net-a! You break-a my net-a!"

And he held forth in the jargon again, his companion joining him, and
both preparing to make another dash to come aboard the _Mist_.

"They're Italian fishermen," I cried, the facts of the case breaking in
upon me. "We've run over their smelt-net, and it's slipped along the
keel and fouled our rudder. We're anchored to it."

"Yes, and they're murderous chaps, too," Paul said, sparring at them
with the oar to make them keep their distance.

"Say, you fellows!" he called to them. "Give us a chance and we'll get
it clear for you! We didn't know your net was there. We didn't mean to
do it, you know!"

"You won't lose anything!" I added. "We'll pay the damages!"

But they could not understand what we were saying, or did not care to
understand.

"You break-a my net-a! You break-a my net-a!" the smaller man, the one
with the earrings, screamed back, making furious gestures. "I fix-a you!
You-a see, I fix-a you!"

This time, when Paul thrust him back, he seized the oar in his hands,
and his companion jumped aboard. I put my back against the tiller, and
no sooner had he landed, and before he had caught his balance, than I
met him with another oar, and he fell heavily backward into the boat. It
was getting serious, and when he arose and caught my oar, and I realized
his strength, I confess that I felt a goodly tinge of fear. But though
he was stronger than I, instead of dragging me overboard when he
wrenched on the oar, he merely pulled his boat in closer; and when
I shoved, the boat was forced away. Besides, the knife, still in his
right hand, made him awkward and somewhat counterbalanced the advantage
his superior strength gave him. Paul and his enemy were in the same
situation--a sort of deadlock, which continued for several seconds, but
which could not last. Several times I shouted that we would pay for
whatever damage their net had suffered, but my words seemed to be
without effect.

Then my man began to tuck the oar under his arm, and to come up along
it, slowly, hand over hand. The small man did the same with Paul. Moment
by moment they came closer, and closer, and we knew that the end was
only a question of time.

"Hard up, Bob!" Paul called softly to me.

I gave him a quick glance, and caught an instant's glimpse of what I
took to be a very pale face and a very set jaw.

"Oh, Bob," he pleaded, "hard up your helm! Hard up your helm, Bob!"

And his meaning dawned upon me. Still holding to my end of the oar, I
shoved the tiller over with my back, and even bent my body to keep it
over. As it was the _Mist_ was nearly dead before the wind, and
this maneuver was bound to force her to jibe her mainsail from one side
to the other. I could tell by the "feel" when the wind spilled out of
the canvas and the boom tilted up. Paul's man had now gained a footing
on the little deck, and my man was just scrambling up.

"Look out!" I shouted to Paul. "Here she comes!"

Both he and I let go the oars and tumbled into the cockpit. The next
instant the big boom and the heavy blocks swept over our heads, the
main-sheet whipping past like a great coiling snake and the _Mist_
heeling over with a violent jar. Both men had jumped for it, but in some
way the little man either got his knife-hand jammed or fell upon it, for
the first sight we caught of him, he was standing in his boat, his
bleeding fingers clasped close between his knees and his face all
twisted with pain and helpless rage.

"Now's our chance!" Paul whispered. "Over with you!"

And on either side of the rudder we lowered ourselves into the water,
pressing the net down with our feet, till, with a jerk, it went clear,
Then it was up and in, Paul at the main-sheet and I at the tiller, the
_Mist_ plunging ahead with freedom in her motion, and the little
white light astern growing small and smaller.

"Now that you've had your adventure, do you feel any better?" I remember
asking when we had changed our clothes and were sitting dry and
comfortable again in the cockpit.

"Well, if I don't have the nightmare for a week to come"--Paul paused
and puckered his brows in judicial fashion--"it will be because I can't
sleep, that's one thing sure!"



AN ADVENTURE IN THE UPPER SEA


I am a retired captain of the upper sea. That is to say, when I was a
younger man (which is not so long ago) I was an aeronaut and navigated
that aerial ocean which is all around about us and above us. Naturally
it is a hazardous profession, and naturally I have had many thrilling
experiences, the most thrilling, or at least the most nerve-racking,
being the one I am about to relate.

It happened before I went in for hydrogen gas balloons, all of varnished
silk, doubled and lined, and all that, and fit for voyages of days
instead of mere hours. The "Little Nassau" (named after the "Great
Nassau" of many years back) was the balloon I was making ascents in at
the time. It was a fair-sized, hot-air affair, of single thickness, good
for an hour's flight or so and capable of attaining an altitude of a
mile or more. It answered my purpose, for my act at the time was making
half-mile parachute jumps at recreation parks and country fairs. I was
in Oakland, a California town, filling a summer's engagement with a
street railway company. The company owned a large park outside the city,
and of course it was to its interest to provide attractions which would
send the townspeople over its line when they went out to get a whiff of
country air. My contract called for two ascensions weekly, and my act
was an especially taking feature, for it was on my days that the largest
crowds were drawn.

Before you can understand what happened, I must first explain a bit
about the nature of the hot air balloon which is used for parachute
jumping. If you have ever witnessed such a jump, you will remember that
directly the parachute was cut loose the balloon turned upside down,
emptied itself of its smoke and heated air, flattened out and fell
straight down, beating the parachute to the ground. Thus there is no
chasing a big deserted bag for miles and miles across the country, and
much time, as well as trouble, is thereby saved. This maneuver is
accomplished by attaching a weight, at the end of a long rope, to the
top of the balloon. The aeronaut, with his parachute and trapeze, hangs
to the bottom of the balloon, and, weighing more, keeps it right side
down. But when he lets go, the weight attached to the top immediately
drags the top down, and the bottom, which is the open mouth, goes up,
the heated air pouring out. The weight used for this purpose on the
"Little Nassau" was a bag of sand.

On the particular day I have in mind there was an unusually large crowd
in attendance, and the police had their hands full keeping the people
back. There was much pushing and shoving, and the ropes were bulging
with the pressure of men, women and children. As I came down from the
dressing room I noticed two girls outside the ropes, of about fourteen
and sixteen, and inside the rope a youngster of eight or nine. They
were holding him by the hands, and he was struggling, excitedly and
half in laughter, to get away from them. I thought nothing of it at
the time--just a bit of childish play, no more; and it was only in the
light of after events that the scene was impressed vividly upon me.

"Keep them cleared out, George!" I called to my assistant. "We don't
want any accidents."

"Ay," he answered, "that I will, Charley."

George Guppy had helped me in no end of ascents, and because of his
coolness, judgment and absolute reliability I had come to trust my life
in his hands with the utmost confidence. His business it was to overlook
the inflating of the balloon, and to see that everything about the
parachute was in perfect working order.

The "Little Nassau" was already filled and straining at the guys. The
parachute lay flat along the ground and beyond it the trapeze. I tossed
aside my overcoat, took my position, and gave the signal to let go. As
you know, the first rush upward from the earth is very sudden, and this
time the balloon, when it first caught the wind, heeled violently over
and was longer than usual in righting. I looked down at the old familiar
sight of the world rushing away from me. And there were the thousands of
people, every face silently upturned. And the silence startled me, for,
as crowds went, this was the time for them to catch their first breath
and send up a roar of applause. But there was no hand-clapping,
whistling, cheering--only silence. And instead, clear as a bell and
distinct, without the slightest shake or quaver, came George's voice
through the megaphone:

"Ride her down, Charley! Ride the balloon down!"

What had happened? I waved my hand to show that I had heard, and began
to think. Had something gone wrong with the parachute? Why should I ride
the balloon down instead of making the jump which thousands were waiting
to see? What was the matter? And as I puzzled, I received another start.
The earth was a thousand feet beneath, and yet I heard a child crying
softly, and seemingly very close to hand. And though the "Little Nassau"
was shooting skyward like a rocket, the crying did not grow fainter and
fainter and die away. I confess I was almost on the edge of a funk,
when, unconsciously following up the noise with my eyes, I looked above
me and saw a boy astride the sandbag which was to bring the "Little
Nassau" to earth. And it was the same little boy I had seen struggling
with the two girls--his sisters, as I afterward learned.

There he was, astride the sandbag and holding on to the rope for
dear life. A puff of wind heeled the balloon slightly, and he swung out
into space for ten or a dozen feet, and back again, fetching up against
the tight canvas with a thud which even shook me, thirty feet or more
beneath. I thought to see him dashed loose, but he clung on and
whimpered. They told me afterward, how, at the moment they were casting
off the balloon, the little fellow had torn away from his sisters,
ducked under the rope, and deliberately jumped astride the sandbag. It
has always been a wonder to me that he was not jerked off in the first
rush.

Well, I felt sick all over as I looked at him there, and I understood
why the balloon had taken longer to right itself, and why George had
called after me to ride her down. Should I cut loose with the parachute,
the bag would at once turn upside down, empty itself, and begin its
swift descent. The only hope lay in my riding her down and in the boy
holding on. There was no possible way for me to reach him. No man could
climb the slim, closed parachute; and even if a man could, and made the
mouth of the balloon, what could he do? Straight out, and fifteen feet
away, trailed the boy on his ticklish perch, and those fifteen feet were
empty space.

I thought far more quickly than it takes to tell all this, and realized
on the instant that the boy's attention must be called away from his
terrible danger. Exercising all the self-control I possessed, and
striving to make myself very calm, I said cheerily:

"Hello, up there, who are you!"

He looked down at me, choking back his tears and brightening up, but
just then the balloon ran into a cross-current, turned half around and
lay over. This set him swinging back and forth, and he fetched the
canvas another bump. Then he began to cry again.

"Isn't it great?" I asked heartily, as though it was the most enjoyable
thing in the world; and, without waiting for him to answer: "What's your
name?"

"Tommy Dermott," he answered.

"Glad to make your acquaintance, Tommy Dermott," I went on. "But I'd
like to know who said you could ride up with me?"

He laughed and said he just thought he'd ride up for the fun of it. And
so we went on, I sick with fear for him, and cudgeling my brains to keep
up the conversation. I knew that it was all I could do, and that his
life depended upon my ability to keep his mind off his danger. I pointed
out to him the great panorama spreading away to the horizon and four
thousand feet beneath us. There lay San Francisco Bay like a great
placid lake, the haze of smoke over the city, the Golden Gate, the ocean
fog-rim beyond, and Mount Tamalpais over all, clear-cut and sharp
against the sky. Directly below us I could see a buggy, apparently
crawling, but I knew from experience that the men in it were lashing the
horses on our trail.

But he grew tired of looking around, and I could see he was beginning to
get frightened.

"How would you like to go in for the business?" I asked.

He cheered up at once and asked "Do you get good pay?"

But the "Little Nassau," beginning to cool, had started on its long
descent, and ran into counter currents which bobbed it roughly about.
This swung the boy around pretty lively, smashing him into the bag once
quite severely. His lip began to tremble at this, and he was crying
again. I tried to joke and laugh, but it was no use. His pluck was
oozing out, and at any moment I was prepared to see him go shooting
past me.

I was in despair. Then, suddenly, I remembered how one fright could
destroy another fright, and I frowned up at him and shouted sternly:

"You just hold on to that rope! If you don't I'll thrash you within an
inch of your life when I get you down on the ground! Understand?"

"Ye-ye-yes, sir," he whimpered, and I saw that the thing had worked. I
was nearer to him than the earth, and he was more afraid of me than of
falling.

"'Why, you've got a snap up there on that soft bag," I rattled on.

"Yes," I assured him, "this bar down here is hard and narrow, and it
hurts to sit on it."

Then a thought struck him, and he forgot all about his aching fingers.

"When are you going to jump?" he asked. "That's what I came up to see."

I was sorry to disappoint him, but I wasn't going to make any jump.

But he objected to that. "It said so in the papers," he said.

"I don't care," I answered. "I'm feeling sort of lazy today, and I'm
just going to ride down the balloon. It's my balloon and I guess I can
do as I please about it. And, anyway, we're almost down now."

And we were, too, and sinking fast. And right there and then that
youngster began to argue with me as to whether it was right for me to
disappoint the people, and to urge their claims upon me. And it was
with a happy heart that I held up my end of it, justifying myself in a
thousand different ways, till we shot over a grove of eucalyptus trees
and dipped to meet the earth.

"Hold on tight!" I shouted, swinging down from the trapeze by my hands
in order to make a landing on my feet.

We skimmed past a barn, missed a mesh of clothesline, frightened
the barnyard chickens into a panic, and rose up again clear over a
haystack--all this almost quicker than it takes to tell. Then we came
down in an orchard, and when my feet had touched the ground I fetched up
the balloon by a couple of turns of the trapeze around an apple tree.

I have had my balloon catch fire in mid air, I have hung on the cornice
of a ten-story house, I have dropped like a bullet for six hundred feet
when a parachute was slow in opening; but never have I felt so weak and
faint and sick as when I staggered toward the unscratched boy and
gripped him by the arm.

"Tommy Dermott," I said, when I had got my nerves back somewhat. "Tommy
Dermott, I'm going to lay you across my knee and give you the greatest
thrashing a boy ever got in the world's history."

"No, you don't," he answered, squirming around. "You said you wouldn't
if I held on tight."

"That's all right," I said, "but I'm going to, just the same. The
fellows who go up in balloons are bad, unprincipled men, and I'm going
to give you a lesson right now to make you stay away from them, and from
balloons, too."

And then I gave it to him, and if it wasn't the greatest thrashing in
the world, it was the greatest he ever got.

But it took all the grit out of me, left me nerve-broken, that
experience. I canceled the engagement with the street railway company,
and later on went in for gas. Gas is much the safer, anyway.



BALD-FACE


"Talkin' of bear----"

The Klondike King paused meditatively, and the group on the hotel porch
hitched their chairs up closer.

"Talkin' of bear," he went on, "now up in the Northern Country there are
various kinds. On the Little Pelly, for instance, they come down that
thick in the summer to feed on the salmon that you can't get an Indian
or white man to go nigher than a day's journey to the place. And up
in the Rampart Mountains there's a curious kind of bear called the
'side-hill grizzly.' That's because he's traveled on the side-hills ever
since the Flood, and the two legs on the down-hill side are twice as
long as the two on the up-hill. And he can out-run a jack rabbit when he
gets steam up. Dangerous? Catch you! Bless you, no. All a man has to do
is to circle down the hill and run the other way. You see, that throws
mister bear's long legs up the hill and the short ones down. Yes, he's a
mighty peculiar creature, but that wasn't what I started in to tell
about.

"They've got another kind of bear up on the Yukon, and his legs are all
right, too. He's called the bald-face grizzly, and he's jest as big as
he is bad. It's only the fool white men that think of hunting him.
Indians got too much sense. But there's one thing about the bald-face
that a man has to learn: he never gives the trail to mortal creature.
If you see him comin', and you value your skin, you get out of his path.
If you don't, there's bound to be trouble. If the bald-face met Jehovah
Himself on the trail, he'd not give him an inch. O, he's a selfish
beggar, take my word for it. But I had to learn all this. Didn't know
anything about bear when I went into the country, exceptin' when I was a
youngster I'd seen a heap of cinnamons and that little black kind. And
they was nothin' to be scared at.

"Well, after we'd got settled down on our claim, I went up on the hill
lookin' for a likely piece of birch to make an ax-handle out of. But
it was pretty hard to find the right kind, and I kept a-goin' and kept
a-goin' for nigh on two hours. Wasn't in no hurry to make my choice, you
see, for I was headin' down to the Forks, where I was goin' to borrow a
log-bit from Old Joe Gee. When I started, I'd put a couple of sour-dough
biscuits and some sowbelly in my pocket in case I might get hungry.
And I'm tellin' you that lunch came in right handy before I was done
with it.

"Bime-by I hit upon the likeliest little birch saplin', right in the
middle of a clump of jack pine. Jest as I raised my hand-ax I happened
to cast my eyes down the hill. There was a big bear comin' up, swingin'
along on all fours, right in my direction. It was a bald-face, but
little I knew then about such kind.

"'Jest watch me scare him,' I says to myself, and I stayed out of sight
in the trees.

"Well, I waited till he was about a hundred feet off, then out I runs
into the open.

"'Oof! oof!' I hollered at him, expectin' to see him turn tail like
chain lightning.

"Turn tail? He jest throwed up his head for one good look and came a
comin'.

"'Oof! oof!' I hollered, louder'n ever. But he jest came a comin'.

"'Consarn you!' I says to myself, gettin' mad. 'I'll make you jump the
trail.'

"So I grabs my hat, and wavin' and hollerin' starts down the trail to
meet him. A big sugar pine had gone down in a windfall and lay about
breast high. I stops jest behind it, old bald-face comin' all the time.
It was jest then that fear came to me. I yelled like a Comanche Indian
as he raised up to come over the log, and fired my hat full in his face.
Then I lit out.

"Say! I rounded the end of that log and put down the hill at a
two-twenty clip, old bald-face reachin' for me at every jump. At the
bottom was a broad, open flat, quarter of a mile to timber and full of
niggerheads. I knew if ever I slipped I was a goner, but I hit only the
high places till you couldn't a-seen my trail for smoke. And the old
devil snortin' along hot after me. Midway across, he reached for me,
jest strikin' the heel of my moccasin with his claw. Tell you I was
doin' some tall thinkin' jest then. I knew he had the wind of me and I
could never make the brush, so I pulled my little lunch out of my pocket
and dropped it on the fly.

"Never looked back till I hit the timber, and then he was mouthing the
biscuits in a way which wasn't nice to see, considerin' how close he'd
been to me. I never slacked up. No, sir! Jest kept hittin' the trail for
all there was in me. But jest as I came around a bend, heelin' it right
lively I tell you, what'd I see in middle of the trail before me, and
comin' my way, but another bald-face!

"'Whoof!' he says when he spotted me, and he came a-runnin.'

"Instanter I was about and hittin' the back trail twice as fast as I'd
come. The way this one was puffin' after me, I'd clean forgot all about
the other bald-face. First thing I knew I seen him mosying along kind of
easy, wonderin' most likely what had become of me, and if I tasted as
good as my lunch. Say! when he seen me he looked real pleased. And then
he came a-jumpin' for me.

"'Whoof!' he says.

"'Whoof!' says the one behind me.

"Bang I goes, slap off the trail sideways, a-plungin' and a-clawin'
through the brush like a wild man. By this time I was clean crazed;
thought the whole country was full of bald-faces. Next thing I
knows--whop, I comes up against something in a tangle of wild blackberry
bushes. Then that something hits me a slap and closes in on me. Another
bald-face! And then and there I knew I was gone for sure. But I made up
to die game, and of all the rampin' and roarin' and rippin' and tearin'
you ever see, that was the worst.

"'My God! O my wife!' it says. And I looked and it was a man I was
hammering into kingdom come.

"'Thought you was a bear,' says I.

"He kind of caught his breath and looked at me. Then he says, 'Same
here.'

"Seemed as though he'd been chased by a bald-face, too, and had hid in
the blackberries. So that's how we mistook each other.

"But by that time the racket on the trail was something terrible, and we
didn't wait to explain matters. That afternoon we got Joe Gee and some
rifles and came back loaded for bear. Mebbe you won't believe me, but
when we got to the spot, there was the two bald-faces lyin' dead. You
see, when I jumped out, they came together, and each refused to give
trail to the other. So they fought it out. Talkin' of bear. As I was
sayin'----"



IN YEDDO BAY


Somewhere along Theater Street he had lost it. He remembered being
hustled somewhat roughly on the bridge over one of the canals that
cross that busy thoroughfare. Possibly some slant-eyed, light-fingered
pickpocket was even then enjoying the fifty-odd yen his purse had
contained. And then again, he thought, he might have lost it himself,
just lost it carelessly.

Hopelessly, and for the twentieth time, he searched in all his pockets
for the missing purse. It was not there. His hand lingered in his
empty hip-pocket, and he woefully regarded the voluble and vociferous
restaurant-keeper, who insanely clamored: "Twenty-five sen! You pay now!
Twenty-five sen!"

"But my purse!" the boy said. "I tell you I've lost it somewhere."

Whereupon the restaurant-keeper lifted his arms indignantly and
shrieked: "Twenty-five sen! Twenty-five sen! You pay now!"

Quite a crowd had collected, and it was growing embarrassing for Alf
Davis.

It was so ridiculous and petty, Alf thought. Such a disturbance about
nothing! And, decidedly, he must be doing something. Thoughts of diving
wildly through that forest of legs, and of striking out at whomsoever
opposed him, flashed through his mind; but, as though divining his
purpose, one of the waiters, a short and chunky chap with an
evil-looking cast in one eye, seized him by the arm.

"You pay now! You pay now! Twenty-five sen!" yelled the proprietor,
hoarse with rage.

Alf was red in the face, too, from mortification; but he resolutely set
out on another exploration. He had given up the purse, pinning his last
hope on stray coins. In the little change-pocket of his coat he found
a ten-sen piece and five-copper sen; and remembering having recently
missed a ten-sen piece, he cut the seam of the pocket and resurrected
the coin from the depths of the lining. Twenty-five sen he held in his
hand, the sum required to pay for the supper he had eaten. He turned
them over to the proprietor, who counted them, grew suddenly calm, and
bowed obsequiously--in fact, the whole crowd bowed obsequiously and
melted away.

Alf Davis was a young sailor, just turned sixteen, on board the _Annie
Mine_, an American sailing-schooner, which had run into Yokohama to
ship its season's catch of skins to London. And in this, his second trip
ashore, he was beginning to snatch his first puzzling glimpses of the
Oriental mind. He laughed when the bowing and kotowing was over, and
turned on his heel to confront another problem. How was he to get aboard
ship? It was eleven o'clock at night, and there would be no ship's boats
ashore, while the outlook for hiring a native boatman, with nothing but
empty pockets to draw upon, was not particularly inviting.

Keeping a sharp lookout for shipmates, he went down to the pier. At
Yokohama there are no long lines of wharves. The shipping lies out at
anchor, enabling a few hundred of the short-legged people to make a
livelihood by carrying passengers to and from the shore.

A dozen sampan men and boys hailed Alf and offered their services. He
selected the most favorable-looking one, an old and beneficent-appearing
man with a withered leg. Alf stepped into his sampan and sat down.
It was quite dark and he could not see what the old fellow was doing,
though he evidently was doing nothing about shoving off and getting
under way. At last he limped over and peered into Alf's face.

"Ten sen," he said.

"Yes, I know, ten sen," Alf answered carelessly. "But hurry up. American
schooner."

"Ten sen. You pay now," the old fellow insisted.

Alf felt himself grow hot all over at the hateful words "pay now." "You
take me to American schooner; then I pay," he said.

But the man stood up patiently before him, held out his hand, and said,
"Ten sen. You pay now."

Alf tried to explain. He had no money. He had lost his purse. But he
would pay. As soon as he got aboard the American schooner, then he would
pay. No; he would not even go aboard the American schooner. He would
call to his shipmates, and they would give the sampan man the ten sen
first. After that he would go aboard. So it was all right, of course.

To all of which the beneficent-appearing old man replied: "You pay now.
Ten sen." And, to make matters worse, the other sampan men squatted on
the pier steps, listening.

Alf, chagrined and angry, stood up to step ashore. But the old fellow
laid a detaining hand on his sleeve. "You give shirt now. I take you
'Merican schooner," he proposed.

Then it was that all of Alf's American independence flamed up in his
breast. The Anglo-Saxon has a born dislike of being imposed upon, and
to Alf this was sheer robbery! Ten sen was equivalent to six American
cents, while his shirt, which was of good quality and was new, had cost
him two dollars.

He turned his back on the man without a word, and went out to the end of
the pier, the crowd, laughing with great gusto, following at his heels.
The majority of them were heavy-set, muscular fellows, and the July
night being one of sweltering heat, they were clad in the least possible
raiment. The water-people of any race are rough and turbulent, and it
struck Alf that to be out at midnight on a pier-end with such a crowd of
wharfmen, in a big Japanese city, was not as safe as it might be.

One burly fellow, with a shock of black hair and ferocious eyes, came
up. The rest shoved in after him to take part in the discussion.

"Give me shoes," the man said. "Give me shoes now. I take you 'Merican
schooner."

Alf shook his head, whereat the crowd clamored that he accept the
proposal. Now the Anglo-Saxon is so constituted that to browbeat or
bully him is the last way under the sun of getting him to do any certain
thing. He will dare willingly, but he will not permit himself to be
driven. So this attempt of the boatmen to force Alf only aroused all the
dogged stubbornness of his race. The same qualities were in him that are
in men who lead forlorn hopes; and there, under the stars, on the lonely
pier, encircled by the jostling and shouldering gang, he resolved that
he would die rather than submit to the indignity of being robbed of a
single stitch of clothing. Not value, but principle, was at stake.

Then somebody thrust roughly against him from behind. He whirled about
with flashing eyes, and the circle involuntarily gave ground. But the
crowd was growing more boisterous. Each and every article of clothing he
had on was demanded by one or another, and these demands were shouted
simultaneously at the tops of very healthy lungs.

Alf had long since ceased to say anything, but he knew that the
situation was getting dangerous, and that the only thing left to him
was to get away. His face was set doggedly, his eyes glinted like points
of steel, and his body was firmly and confidently poised. This air of
determination sufficiently impressed the boatmen to make them give way
before him when he started to walk toward the shore-end of the pier. But
they trooped along beside him and behind him, shouting and laughing more
noisily than ever. One of the youngsters, about Alf's size and build,
impudently snatched his cap from his head; but before he could put it on
his own head, Alf struck out from the shoulder, and sent the fellow
rolling on the stones.

The cap flew out of his hand and disappeared among the many legs. Alf
did some quick thinking; his sailor pride would not permit him to leave
the cap in their hands. He followed in the direction it had sped, and
soon found it under the bare foot of a stalwart fellow, who kept his
weight stolidly upon it. Alf tried to get the cap out by a sudden jerk,
but failed. He shoved against the man's leg, but the man only grunted.
It was challenge direct, and Alf accepted it. Like a flash one leg was
behind the man and Alf had thrust strongly with his shoulder against the
fellow's chest. Nothing could save the man from the fierce vigorousness
of the trick, and he was hurled over and backward.

Next, the cap was on Alf's head and his fists were up before him. Then
he whirled about to prevent attack from behind, and all those in that
quarter fled precipitately. This was what he wanted. None remained
between him and the shore end. The pier was narrow. Facing them and
threatening with his fist those who attempted to pass him on either
side, he continued his retreat. It was exciting work, walking backward
and at the same time checking that surging mass of men. But the
dark-skinned peoples, the world over, have learned to respect the white
man's fist; and it was the battles fought by many sailors, more than his
own warlike front, that gave Alf the victory.

Where the pier adjoins the shore was the station of the harbor police,
and Alf backed into the electric-lighted office, very much to the
amusement of the dapper lieutenant in charge. The sampan men, grown
quiet and orderly, clustered like flies by the open door, through which
they could see and hear what passed.

Alf explained his difficulty in few words, and demanded, as the
privilege of a stranger in a strange land, that the lieutenant put him
aboard in the police-boat. The lieutenant, in turn, who knew all the
"rules and regulations" by heart, explained that the harbor police were
not ferrymen, and that the police-boats had other functions to perform
than that of transporting belated and penniless sailor-men to their
ships. He also said he knew the sampan men to be natural-born robbers,
but that so long as they robbed within the law he was powerless. It
was their right to collect fares in advance, and who was he to command
them to take a passenger and collect fare at the journey's end? Alf
acknowledged the justice of his remarks, but suggested that while he
could not command he might persuade. The lieutenant was willing to
oblige, and went to the door, from where he delivered a speech to the
crowd. But they, too, knew their rights, and, when the officer had
finished, shouted in chorus their abominable "Ten sen! You pay now!
You pay now!"

"You see, I can do nothing," said the lieutenant, who, by the way, spoke
perfect English. "But I have warned them not to harm or molest you, so
you will be safe, at least. The night is warm and half over. Lie down
somewhere and go to sleep. I would permit you to sleep here in the
office, were it not against the rules and regulations."

Alf thanked him for his kindness and courtesy; but the sampan men had
aroused all his pride of race and doggedness, and the problem could not
be solved that way. To sleep out the night on the stones was an
acknowledgment of defeat.

"The sampan men refuse to take me out?"

The lieutenant nodded.

"And you refuse to take me out?"

Again the lieutenant nodded.

"Well, then, it's not in the rules and regulations that you can prevent
my taking myself out?"

The lieutenant was perplexed. "There is no boat," he said.

"That's not the question," Alf proclaimed hotly. "If I take myself out,
everybody's satisfied and no harm done?"

"Yes; what you say is true," persisted the puzzled lieutenant. "But you
cannot take yourself out."

"You just watch me," was the retort.

Down went Alf's cap on the office floor. Right and left he kicked off
his low-cut shoes. Trousers and shirt followed.

"Remember," he said in ringing tones, "I, as a citizen of the United
States, shall hold you, the city of Yokohama, and the government of
Japan responsible for those clothes. Good night."

He plunged through the doorway, scattering the astounded boatmen to
either side, and ran out on the pier. But they quickly recovered and ran
after him, shouting with glee at the new phase the situation had taken
on. It was a night long remembered among the water-folk of Yokohama
town. Straight to the end Alf ran, and, without pause, dived off cleanly
and neatly into the water. He struck out with a lusty, single-overhand
stroke till curiosity prompted him to halt for a moment. Out of the
darkness, from where the pier should be, voices were calling to him.

He turned on his back, floated, and listened.

"All right! All right!" he could distinguish from the babel. "No pay
now; pay bime by! Come back! Come back now; pay bime by!"

"No, thank you," he called back. "No pay at all. Good night."

Then he faced about in order to locate the _Annie Mine_. She was
fully a mile away, and in the darkness it was no easy task to get her
bearings. First, he settled upon a blaze of lights which he knew nothing
but a man-of-war could make. That must be the United States war-ship
_Lancaster_. Somewhere to the left and beyond should be the
_Annie Mine._ But to the left he made out three lights close
together. That could not be the schooner. For the moment he was
confused. He rolled over on his back and shut his eyes, striving to
construct a mental picture of the harbor as he had seen it in daytime.
With a snort of satisfaction he rolled back again. The three lights
evidently belonged to the big English tramp steamer. Therefore the
schooner must lie somewhere between the three lights and the
_Lancaster_. He gazed long and steadily, and there, very dim and
low, but at the point he expected, burned a single light--the
anchor-light of the _Annie Mine_.

And it was a fine swim under the starshine. The air was warm as the
water, and the water as warm as tepid milk. The good salt taste of it
was in his mouth, the tingling of it along his limbs; and the steady
beat of his heart, heavy and strong, made him glad for living.

But beyond being glorious the swim was uneventful. On the right hand he
passed the many-lighted _Lancaster_, on the left hand the English
tramp, and ere long the _Annie Mine_ loomed large above him. He
grasped the hanging rope-ladder and drew himself noiselessly on deck.
There was no one in sight. He saw a light in the galley, and knew that
the captain's son, who kept the lonely anchor-watch, was making coffee.
Alf went forward to the forecastle. The men were snoring in their bunks,
and in that confined space the heat seemed to him insufferable. So he
put on a thin cotton shirt and a pair of dungaree trousers, tucked
blanket and pillow under his arm, and went up on deck and out on the
fore-castle-head.

Hardly had he begun to doze when he was roused by a boat coming
alongside and hailing the anchor-watch. It was the police-boat, and to
Alf it was given to enjoy the excited conversation that ensued. Yes, the
captain's son recognized the clothes. They belonged to Alf Davis, one of
the seamen. What had happened? No; Alf Davis had not come aboard. He
was ashore. He was not ashore? Then he must be drowned. Here both the
lieutenant and the captain's son talked at the same time, and Alf could
make out nothing. Then he heard them come forward and rouse out the
crew. The crew grumbled sleepily and said that Alf Davis was not in the
forecastle; whereupon the captain's son waxed indignant at the Yokohama
police and their ways, and the lieutenant quoted rules and regulations
in despairing accents.

Alf rose up from the forecastle-head and extended his hand, saying:

"I guess I'll take those clothes. Thank you for bringing them aboard so
promptly."

"I don't see why he couldn't have brought you aboard inside of them,"
said the captain's son.

And the police lieutenant said nothing, though he turned the clothes
over somewhat sheepishly to their rightful owner.

The next day, when Alf started to go ashore, he found himself surrounded
by shouting and gesticulating, though very respectful, sampan men, all
extraordinarily anxious to have him for a passenger. Nor did the one
he selected say, "You pay now," when he entered his boat. "When Alf
prepared to step out on to the pier, he offered the man the customary
ten sen. But the man drew himself up and shook his head.

"You all right," he said. "You no pay. You never no pay. You bully boy
and all right."

And for the rest of the _Annie Mine's_ stay in port, the sampan men
refused money at Alf Davis's hand. Out of admiration for his pluck and
independence, they had given him the freedom of the harbor.



WHOSE BUSINESS IS TO LIVE


Stanton Davies and Jim Wemple ceased from their talk to listen to an
increase of uproar in the street. A volley of stones thrummed and boomed
the wire mosquito nettings that protected the windows. It was a hot
night, and the sweat of the heat stood on their faces as they listened.
Arose the incoherent clamor of the mob, punctuated by individual cries
in Mexican-Spanish. Least terrible among the obscene threats were:
"Death to the Gringos!" "Kill the American pigs!" "Drown the American
dogs in the sea!"

Stanton Davies and Jim Wemple shrugged their shoulders patiently to each
other, and resumed their conversation, talking louder in order to make
themselves heard above the uproar.

"The question is _how_," Wemple said. "It's forty-seven miles to
Panuco, by river----"

"And the land's impossible, with Zaragoza's and Villa's men on the loot
and maybe fraternizing," Davies agreed.

Wemple nodded and continued: "And she's at the East Coast Magnolia, two
miles beyond, if she isn't back at the hunting camp. We've got to get
her----"

"We've played pretty square in this matter, Wemple," Davies said. "And
we might as well speak up and acknowledge what each of us knows the
other knows. You want her. I want her."

Wemple lighted a cigarette and nodded.

"And now's the time when it's up to us to make a show as if we didn't
want her and that all we want is just to save her and get her down
here."

"And a truce until we do save her--I get you," Wempel affirmed.

"A truce until we get her safe and sound back here in Tampico, or aboard
a battleship. After that? ..."

Both men shrugged shoulders and beamed on each other as their hands met
in ratification.

Fresh volleys of stones thrummed against the wire-screened windows; a
boy's voice rose shrilly above the clamor, proclaiming death to the
Gringos; and the house reverberated to the heavy crash of some battering
ram against the street-door downstairs. Both men, snatching up automatic
rifles, ran down to where their fire could command the threatened door.

"If they break in we've got to let them have it," Wemple said.

Davies nodded quiet agreement, then inconsistently burst out with a
lurid string of oaths.

"To think of it!" he explained his wrath. "One out of three of those
curs outside has worked for you or me--lean-bellied, barefooted,
poverty-stricken, glad for ten centavos a day if they could only get
work. And we've given them steady jobs and a hundred and fifty centavos
a a day, and here they are yelling for our blood."

"Only the half breeds," Davies corrected.

"You know what I mean," Wemple replied. "The only peons we've lost are
those that have been run off or shot."

The attack on the door ceasing, they returned upstairs. Half a dozen
scattered shots from farther along the street seemed to draw away the
mob, for the neighborhood became comparatively quiet.

A whistle came to them through the open windows, and a man's voice
calling:

"Wemple! Open the door! It's Habert! Want to talk to you!"

Wemple went down, returning in several minutes with a tidily-paunched,
well-built, gray-haired American of fifty. He shook hands with Davies
and flung himself into a chair, breathing heavily. He did not relinquish
his clutch on the Colt's 44 automatic pistol, although he immediately
addressed himself to the task of fishing a filled clip of cartridges
from the pocket of his linen coat. He had arrived hatless and
breathless, and the blood from a stone-cut on the cheek oozed down his
face. He, too, in a fit of anger, springing to his feet when he had
changed clips in his pistol, burst out with mouth-filling profanity.

"They had an American flag in the dirt, stamping and spitting on it. And
they told me to spit on it."

Wemple and Davies regarded him with silent interrogation.

"Oh, I know what you're wondering!" he flared out. "Would I a-spit on it
in the pinch? That's what's eating you. I'll answer. Straight out, brass
tacks, I WOULD. Put that in your pipe and smoke it."

He paused to help himself to a cigar from the box on the table and to
light it with a steady and defiant hand.

"Hell!--I guess this neck of the woods knows Anthony Habert, and you can
bank on it that it's never located his yellow streak. Sure, in the
pinch, I'd spit on Old Glory. What the hell d'ye think I'm going on the
streets for a night like this? Didn't I skin out of the Southern Hotel
half an hour ago, where there are forty buck Americans, not counting
their women, and all armed? That was safety. What d'ye think I came here
for?--to rescue you?"

His indignation lumped his throat into silence, and he seemed shaken as
with an apoplexy.

"Spit it out," Davies commanded dryly.

"I'll tell you," Habert exploded. "It's Billy Boy. Fifty miles up
country and twenty-thousand throat-cutting federals and rebels between
him and me. D'ye know what that boy'd do, if he was here in Tampico and
I was fifty miles up the Panuco? Well, I know. And I'm going to do the
same--go and get him."

"We're figuring on going up," Wemple assured him.

"And that's why I headed here--Miss Drexel, of course?"

Both men acquiesced and smiled. It was a time when men dared speak of
matters which at other times tabooed speech.

"Then the thing's to get started," Habert exclaimed, looking at his
watch. "It's midnight now. We've got to get to the river and get a
boat--"

But the clamor of the returning mob came through the windows in answer.

Davies was about to speak, when the telephone rang, and Wemple sprang to
the instrument.

"It's Carson," he interjected, as he listened. "They haven't cut the
wires across the river yet.--Hello, Carson. Was it a break or a cut? ...
Bully for you.... Yes, move the mules across to the potrero beyond
Tamcochin.... Who's at the water station? ... Can you still 'phone
him? ... Tell him to keep the tanks full, and to shut off the main to
Arico. Also, to hang on till the last minute, and keep a horse saddled
to cut and run for it. Last thing before he runs, he must jerk out the
'phone.... Yes, yes, yes. Sure. No breeds. Leave full-blooded Indians in
charge. Gabriel is a good _hombre_. Heaven knows, once we're chased
out, when we'll get back.... You can't pinch down Jaramillo under
twenty-five hundred barrels. We've got storage for ten days. Gabriel'll
have to handle it. Keep it moving, if we have to run it into the
river----"

"Ask him if he has a launch," Habert broke in.

"He hasn't," was Wemple's answer. "The federals commandeered the last
one at noon."

"Say, Carson, how are you going to make your get-away?" Wemple queried.

The man to whom he talked was across the Panuco, on the south side, at
the tank farm.

"Says there isn't any get-away," Wemple vouchsafed to the other two.
"The federals are all over the shop, and he can't understand why they
haven't raided him hours ago."

"... Who? Campos? That skunk! ... all right.... Don't be worried if you
don't hear from me. I'm going up river with Davies and Habert.... Use
your judgment, and if you get a safe chance at Campos, pot him.... Oh,
a hot time over here. They're battering our doors now. Yes, by all
means ... Good-by, old man."

Wemple lighted a cigarette and wiped his forehead.

"You know Campos, José H. Campos," he
volunteered. "The dirty cur's stuck Carson up
for twenty thousand pesos. We had to pay,
or he'd have compelled half our peons to enlist
or set the wells on fire. And you know,
Davies, what we've done for him in past years.
Gratitude? Simple decency? Great Scott!"

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the night of April twenty-first. On the morning of the
twenty-first the American marines and bluejackets had landed at Vera
Cruz and seized the custom house and the city. Immediately the news was
telegraphed, the vengeful Mexican mob had taken possession of the
streets of Tampico and expressed its disapproval of the action of the
United States by tearing down American flags and crying death to the
Americans.

There was nothing save its own spinelessness to deter the mob from
carrying out its threat. Had it battered down the doors of the Southern
Hotel, or of other hotels, or of residences such as Wemple's, a fight
would have started in which the thousands of federal soldiers in Tampico
would have joined their civilian compatriots in the laudable task of
decreasing the Gringo population of that particular portion of Mexico.
There should have been American warships to act as deterrents; but
through some inexplicable excess of delicacy, or strategy, or heaven
knows what, the United States, when it gave its orders to take Vera
Cruz, had very carefully withdrawn its warships from Tampico to the open
Gulf a dozen miles away. This order had come to Admiral Mayo by wireless
from Washington, and thrice he had demanded the order to be repeated,
ere, with tears in his eyes, he had turned his back on his countrymen
and countrywomen and steamed to sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Of all asinine things, to leave us in the lurch this way!" Habert was
denouncing the powers that be of his country. "Mayo'd never have done
it. Mark my words, he had to take program from Washington. And here we
are, and our dear ones scattered for fifty miles back up country....
Say, if I lose Billy Boy I'll never dare go home to face the wife.--Come
on. Let the three of us make a start. We can throw the fear of God into
any gang on the streets."

"Come on over and take a squint," Davies invited from where he stood,
somewhat back from the window, looking down into the street.

It was gorged with rioters, all haranguing, cursing, crying out death,
and urging one another to smash the doors, but each hanging back from
the death he knew waited behind those doors for the first of the rush.

"We can't break through a bunch like that, Habert," was Davies' comment.

"And if we die under their feet we'll be of little use to Billy Boy or
anybody else up the Panuco," Wemple added. "And if----"

A new movement of the mob caused him to break off. It was splitting
before a slow and silent advance of a file of white-clad men.

"Bluejackets--Mayo's come back for us after all," Habert muttered.

"Then we can get a navy launch," Davies said.

The bedlam of the mob died away, and, in silence, the sailors reached
the street door and knocked for admittance. All three went down to open
it, and to discover that the callers were not Americans but two German
lieutenants and half a dozen German marines. At sight of the Americans,
the rage of the mob rose again, and was quelled by the grounding of the
rifle butts of the marines.

"No, thank you," the senior lieutenant, in passable English, declined
the invitation to enter. He unconcernedly kept his cigar alive at such
times that the mob drowned his voice. "We are on the way back to our
ship. Our commander conferred with the English and Dutch commanders; but
they declined to cooperate, so our commander has undertaken the entire
responsibility. We have been the round of the hotels. They are to hold
their own until daybreak, when we'll take them off. We have given them
rockets such as these.--Take them. If your house is entered, hold your
own and send up a rocket from the roof. We can be here in force, in
forty-five minutes. Steam is up in all our launches, launch crews and
marines for shore duty are in the launches, and at the first rocket we
shall start."

"Since you are going aboard now, we should like to go with you," Davies
said, after having rendered due thanks.

The surprise and distaste on both lieutenants' faces was patent.

"Oh, no," Davies laughed. "We don't want refuge. We have friends fifty
miles up river, and we want to get to the river in order to go up after
them."

The pleasure on the officers' faces was immediate as they looked a
silent conference at each other.

"Since our commander has undertaken grave responsibility on a night like
this, may we do less than take minor responsibility?" queried the elder.

To this the younger heartily agreed. In a trice, upstairs and down
again, equipped with extra ammunition, extra pistols, and a
pocket-bulging supply of cigars, cigarettes and matches, the three
Americans were ready. Wemple called last instructions up the stairway to
imaginary occupants being left behind, ascertained that the spring lock
was on, and slammed the door.

The officers led, followed by the Americans, the rear brought up by the
six marines; and the spitting, howling mob, not daring to cast a stone,
gave way before them.

       *       *       *       *       *

As they came alongside the gangway of the cruiser, they saw launches and
barges lying in strings to the boat-booms, filled with men, waiting for
the rocket signal from the beleaguered hotels. A gun thundered from
close at hand, up river, followed by the thunder of numerous guns and
the reports of many rifles fired very rapidly.

"Now what's the _Topila_ whanging away at?" Habert complained, then
joined the others in gazing at the picture.

A searchlight, evidently emanating from the Mexican gunboat, was
stabbing the darkness to the middle of the river, where it played upon
the water. And across the water, the center of the moving circle of
light, flashed a long, lean speedboat. A shell burst in the air a
hundred feet astern of it. Somewhere, outside the light, other shells
were bursting in the water; for they saw the boat rocked by the waves
from the explosions. They could guess the whizzing of the rifle bullets.

But for only several minutes the spectacle lasted. Such was the speed of
the boat that it gained shelter behind the German, when the Mexican
gunboat was compelled to cease fire. The speedboat slowed down, turned
in a wide and heeling circle, and ranged up alongside the launch at the
gangway.

The lights from the gangway showed but one occupant, a tow-headed,
greasy-faced, blond youth of twenty, very lean, very calm, very much
satisfied with himself.

"If it ain't Peter Tonsburg!" Habert ejaculated, reaching out a hand to
shake. "Howdy, Peter, howdy. And where in hell are you hellbent for,
surging by the _Topila_ in such scandalous fashion!"

Peter, a Texas-born Swede of immigrant parents, filled with the old
Texas traditions, greasily shook hands with Wemple and Davies as well,
saying "Howdy," as only the Texan born can say it.

"Me," he answered Habert. "I ain't hellbent nowhere exceptin' to get
away from the shell-fire. She's a caution, that _Topila_. Huh! but
I limbered 'em up some. I was goin' every inch of twenty-five. They was
like amateurs blazin' away at canvasback."

"Which _Chill_ is it?" Wemple asked.

"_Chill II_," Peter answered. "It's all that's left. _Chill I_
a Greaser--you know 'm--Campos--commandeered this noon. I was runnin'
_Chill III_ when they caught me at sundown. Made me come in under
their guns at the East Coast outfit, and fired me out on my neck.

"Now the boss'd gone over in this one to Tampico in the early evening,
and just about ten minutes ago I spots it landin' with a sousy bunch of
Federals at the East Coast, and swipes it back according. Where's the
boss? He ain't hurt, is he? Because I'm going after him."

"No, you're not, Peter," Davies said. "Mr. Frisbie is safe at the
Southern Hotel, all except a five-inch scalp wound from a brick that's
got him down with a splitting headache. He's safe, so you're going with
us, going to take us, I mean, up beyond Panuco town."

"Huh?--I can see myself," Peter retorted, wiping his greasy nose on a
wad of greasy cotton waste. "I got some cold. Besides, this
night-drivin' ain't good for my complexion."

"My boy's up there," Habert said.

"Well, he's bigger'n I am, and I reckon he can take care of himself."

"And there's a woman there--Miss Drexel," Davies said quietly.

"Who? Miss Drexel? Why didn't you say so at first!" Peter demanded
grievedly. He sighed and added, "Well, climb in an' make a start. Better
get your Dutch friends to donate me about twenty gallons of gasoline if
you want to get anywhere."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Won't do you no good to lay low," Peter Tonsburg remarked, as, at full
speed, headed up river, the _Topila's_ searchlight stabbed them.
"High or low, if one of them shells hits in the vicinity--_good
night_!"

Immediately thereafter the _Topila_ erupted. The roar of the
_Chill's_ exhaust nearly drowned the roar of the guns, but the
fragile hull of the craft was shaken and rocked by the bursting shells.
An occasional bullet thudded into or pinged off the _Chill_, and,
despite Peter's warning that, high or low, they were bound to get it if
it came to them, every man on board, including Peter, crouched, with
chest contracted by drawn-in shoulders, in an instinctive and purely
unconscious effort to lessen the area of body he presented as a target
or receptacle for flying fragments of steel.

The _Topila_ was a federal gunboat. To complicate the affair, the
constitutionalists, gathered on the north shore in the siege of Tampico,
opened up on the speedboat with many rifles and a machine gun.

"Lord, I'm glad they're Mexicans, and not Americans," Habert observed,
after five mad minutes in which no damage had been received. "Mexicans
are born with guns in their hands, and they never learn to use them."

Nor was the _Chill_ or any man aboard damaged when at last she
rounded the bend of river that shielded her from the searchlight.

"I'll have you in Panuco town in less'n three hours, ... if we don't hit
a log," Peter leaned back and shouted in Wemple's ear. "And if we do hit
driftwood, I'll have you in the swim quicker than that."

_Chill II_ tore her way through the darkness, steered by the
tow-headed youth who knew every foot of the river and who guided his
course by the loom of the banks in the dim starlight. A smart breeze,
kicking up spiteful wavelets on the wider reaches, splashed them with
sheeted water as well as fine-flung spray. And, in the face of the
warmth of the tropic night, the wind, added to the speed of the boat,
chilled them through their wet clothes.

"Now I know why she was named the _Chill_," Habert observed betwixt
chattering teeth.

But conversation languished during the nearly three hours of drive
through the darkness. Once, by the exhaust, they knew that they passed
an unlighted launch bound down stream. And once, a glare of light, near
the south bank, as they passed through the Toreno field, aroused brief
debate as to whether it was the Toreno wells, or the bungalow on
Merrick's banana plantation that flared so fiercely.

At the end of an hour, Peter slowed down and ran in to the bank.

"I got a cache of gasoline here--ten gallons," he explained, "and it's
just as well to know it's here for the back trip." Without leaving the
boat, fishing arm-deep into the brush, he announced, "All hunky-dory."
He proceeded to oil the engine. "Huh!" he soliloquized for their
benefit. "I was just readin' a magazine yarn last night. 'Whose Business
Is to Die,' was its title. An' all I got to say is, 'The hell it is.' A
man's business is to live. Maybe you thought it was our business to die
when the _Topila_ was pepper-in' us. But you was wrong. We're
alive, ain't we? We beat her to it. That's the game. Nobody's got any
business to die. I ain't never goin' to die, if I've got any say about
it."

He turned over the crank, and the roar and rush of the _Chill_ put
an end to speech.

There was no need for Wemple or Davies to speak further in the affair
closest to their hearts. Their truce to love-making had been made as
binding as it was brief, and each rival honored the other with a firm
belief that he would commit no infraction of the truce. Afterward was
another matter. In the meantime they were one in the effort to get Beth
Drexel back to the safety of riotous Tampico or of a war vessel.

It was four o'clock when they passed by Panuco Town. Shouts and songs
told them that the federal detachment holding the place was celebrating
its indignation at the landing of American bluejackets in Vera Cruz.
Sentinels challenged the _Chill_ from the shore and shot at random
at the noise of her in the darkness.

A mile beyond, where a lighted river steamer with steam up lay at the
north bank, they ran in at the Apshodel wells. The steamer was small,
and the nearly two hundred Americans--men, women, and children--crowded
her capacity. Blasphemous greetings of pure joy and geniality were
exchanged between the men, and Habert learned that the steamboat was
waiting for his Billy Boy, who, astride a horse, was rounding up
isolated drilling gangs who had not yet learned that the United States
had seized Vera Cruz and that all Mexico was boiling.

Habert climbed out to wait and to go down on the steamer, while the
three that remained on the _Chill_, having learned that Miss Drexel
was not with the refugees, headed for the Dutch Company on the south
shore. This was the big gusher, pinched down from one hundred and
eighty-five thousand daily barrels to the quantity the company
was able to handle. Mexico had no quarrel with Holland, so that the
superintendent, while up, with night guards out to prevent drunken
soldiers from firing his vast lakes of oil, was quite unemotional. Yes,
the last he had heard was that Miss Drexel and her brother were back at
the hunting lodge. No; he had not sent any warnings, and he doubted that
anybody else had. Not till ten o'clock the previous evening had he
learned of the landing at Vera Cruz. The Mexicans had turned nasty as
soon as they heard of it, and they had killed Miles Forman at the Empire
Wells, run off his labor, and looted the camp. Horses? No; he didn't
have horse or mule on the place. The federals had commandeered the last
animal weeks back. It was his belief, however, that there were a couple
of plugs at the lodge, too worthless even for the Mexicans to take.

"It's a hike," Davies said cheerfully.

"Six miles of it," Wemple agreed, equally cheerfully. "Let's beat it."

A shot from the river, where they had left Peter in the boat, started
them on the run for the bank. A scattering of shots, as from two rifles,
followed. And while the Dutch superintendent, in execrable Spanish,
shouted affirmations of Dutch neutrality into the menacing dark, across
the gunwale of _Chill II_ they found the body of the tow-headed
youth whose business it had been not to die.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the first hour, talking little, Davies and Wemple stumbled along the
apology for a road that led through the jungle to the lodge. They did
discuss the glares of several fires to the east along the south bank of
Panuco River, and hoped fervently that they were dwellings and not
wells.

"Two billion dollars worth of oil right here in the Ebaño field alone,"
Davies grumbled.

"And a drunken Mexican, whose whole carcass and immortal soul aren't
worth ten pesos including hair, hide, and tallow, can start the bonfire
with a lighted wad of cotton waste," was Wemple's contribution. "And if
ever she starts, she'll gut the field of its last barrel."

Dawn, at five, enabled them to accelerate their pace; and six o'clock
found them routing out the occupants of the lodge.

"Dress for rough travel, and don't stop for any frills," Wemple called
around the corner of Miss Drexel's screened sleeping porch.

"Not a wash, nothing," Davies supplemented grimly, as he shook hands
with Charley Drexel, who yawned and slippered up to them in pajamas.
"Where are those horses, Charley? Still alive?"

Wemple finished giving orders to the sleepy peons to remain and care for
the place, occupying their spare time with hiding the more valuable
things, and was calling around the corner to Miss Drexel the news of the
capture of Vera Cruz, when Davies returned with the information that the
horses consisted of a pair of moth-eaten skates that could be depended
upon to lie down and die in the first half mile.

Beth Drexel emerged, first protesting that under no circumstances would
she be guilty of riding the creatures, and, next, her brunette skin and
dark eyes still flushed warm with sleep, greeting the two rescuers.

"It would be just as well if you washed your face, Stanton," she told
Davies; and, to Wemple: "You're just as bad, Jim. You are a pair of
dirty boys."

"And so will you be," Wemple assured her, "before you get back to
Tampico. Are you ready?"

"As soon as Juanita packs my hand bag."

"Heavens, Beth, don't waste time!" exclaimed Wemple. "Jump in and grab
up what you want."

"Make a start--make a start," chanted Davies. "Hustle! Hustle!--Charley,
get the rifle you like best and take it along. Get a couple for us."

"Is it as serious as that?" Miss Drexel queried.

Both men nodded.

"The Mexicans are tearing loose," Davies explained. "How they missed
this place I don't know." A movement in the adjoining room startled him.
"Who's that?" he cried.

"Why, Mrs. Morgan," Miss Drexel answered.

"Good heavens, Wemple, I'd forgotten _her_," groaned Davies. "How
will we ever get her anywhere?"

"Let Beth walk, and relay the lady on the nags."

"She weighs a hundred and eighty," Miss Drexel laughed. "Oh, hurry,
Martha! We're waiting on you to start!"

Muffled speech came through the partition, and then emerged a very
short, stout, much-flustered woman of middle age.

"I simply can't walk, and you boys needn't demand it of me," was her
plaint. "It's no use. I couldn't walk half a mile to save my life, and
it's six of the worst miles to the river."

They regarded her in despair.

"Then you'll ride," said Davies. "Come on, Charley. We'll get a saddle
on each of the nags."

Along the road through the tropic jungle, Miss Drexel and Juanita,
her Indian maid, led the way. Her brother, carrying the three rifles,
brought up the rear, while in the middle Davies and Wemple struggled
with Mrs. Morgan and the two decrepit steeds. One, a flea-bitten roan,
groaned continually from the moment Mrs. Morgan's burden was put upon
him till she was shifted to the other horse. And this other, a mangy
sorrel, invariably lay down at the end of a quarter of a mile of Mrs.
Morgan.

Miss Drexel laughed and joked and encouraged; and Wemple, in brutal
fashion, compelled Mrs. Morgan to walk every third quarter of a mile.
At the end of an hour the sorrel refused positively to get up, and, so,
was abandoned. Thereafter, Mrs. Morgan rode the roan alternate quarters
of miles, and between times walked--if _walk_ may describe her
stumbling progress on two preposterously tiny feet with a man supporting
her on either side.

A mile from the river, the road became more civilized, running along the
side of a thousand acres of banana plantation.

"Parslow's," young Drexel said. "He'll lose a year's crop now on account
of this mix-up."

"Oh, look what I've found!" Miss Drexel called from the lead.

"First machine that ever tackled this road," was young Drexel's
judgment, as they halted to stare at the tire-tracks.

"But look at the tracks," his sister urged. "The machine must have come
right out of the bananas and climbed the bank."

"Some machine to climb a bank like that," was Davies' comment. "What it
did do was to go down the bank--take a scout after it, Charley, while
Wemple and I get Mrs. Morgan off her fractious mount. No machine ever
built could travel far through those bananas."

The flea-bitten roan, on its four legs upstanding, continued bravely to
stand until the lady was removed, whereupon, with a long sigh, it sank
down on the ground. Mrs. Morgan likewise sighed, sat down, and regarded
her tiny feet mournfully.

"Go on, boys," she said. "Maybe you can find something at the river and
send back for me."

But their indignant rejection of the plan never attained speech, for, at
that instant, from the green sea of banana trees beneath them, came the
sudden purr of an engine. A minute later the splutter of an exhaust told
them the silencer had been taken off. The huge-fronded banana trees were
violently agitated as by the threshing of a hidden Titan. They could
identify the changing of gears and the reversing and going ahead, until,
at the end of five minutes, a long low, black car burst from the wall of
greenery and charged the soft earth bank, but the earth was too soft,
and when, two-thirds of the way up, beaten, Charley Drexel braked the
car to a standstill, the earth crumbled from under the tires, and he ran
it down and back, the way he had come, until half-buried in the bananas.

"'A Merry Oldsmobile!'" Miss Drexel quoted from the popular song,
clapping her hands. "Now, Martha, your troubles are over."

"Six-cylinder, and sounds as if it hadn't been out of the shop a week,
or may I never ride in a machine again," Wemple remarked, looking to
Davies for confirmation.

Davies nodded.

"It's Allison's," he said. "Campos tried to shake him down for a private
loan, and--well, you know Allison. He told Campos to go to. And Campos,
in revenge, commandeered his new car. That was two days ago, before we
lifted a hand at Vera Cruz. Allison told me yesterday the last he'd
heard of the car it was on a steamboat bound up river. And here's where
they ditched it--but let's get a hustle on and get her into the
running."

Three attempts they made, with young Drexel at the wheel; but the soft
earth and the pitch of the grade baffled.

"She's got the power all right," young Drexel protested. "But she can't
bite into that mush."

So far, they had spread on the ground the robes found in the car.
The men now added their coats, and Wemple, for additional traction,
unsaddled the roan, and spread the cinches, stirrup leathers, saddle
blanket, and bridle in the way of the wheels. The car took the
treacherous slope in a rush, with churning wheels biting into the woven
fabrics; and, with no more than a hint of hesitation, it cleared the
crest and swung into the road.

"Isn't she the spunky devil!" Drexel exulted. "Say, she could climb the
side of a house if she could get traction."

"Better put on that silencer again, if you don't want to play tag with
every soldier in the district," Wemple ordered, as they helped Mrs.
Morgan in.

The road to the Dutch gusher compelled them to go through the outskirts
of Panuco town. Indian and half breed women gazed stolidly at the
strange vehicle, while the children and barking dogs clamorously
advertised its progress. Once, passing long lines of tethered federal
horses, they were challenged by a sentry; but at Wemple's "Throw on the
juice!" the car took the rutted road at fifty miles an hour. A shot
whistled after them. But it was not the shot that made Mrs. Morgan
scream. The cause was a series of hog-wallows masked with mud, which
nearly tore the steering wheel from Drexel's hands before he could
reduce speed.

"Wonder it didn't break an axle," Davies growled. "Go on and take it
easy, Charley. We're past any interference."

They swung into the Dutch camp and into the beginning of their real
troubles. The refugee steamboat had departed down river from the
Asphodel camp; _Chill II_ had disappeared, the superintendent knew
not how, along with the body of Peter Tonsburg; and the superintendent
was dubious of their remaining.

"I've got to consider the owners," he told them. "This is the biggest
well in Mexico, and you know it--a hundred and eighty-five thousand
barrels daily flow. I've no right to risk it. We have no trouble with
the Mexicans. It's you Americans. If you stay here, I'll have to protect
you. And I can't protect you, anyway. We'll all lose our lives and
they'll destroy the well in the bargain. And if they fire it, it means
the entire Ebaño oil field. The strata's too broken. We're flowing
twenty thousand barrels now, and we can't pinch down any further. As it
is, the oil's coming up outside the pipe. And we can't have a fight.
We've got to keep the oil moving."

The men nodded. It was cold-blooded logic; but there was no fault to it.

The harassed expression eased on the superintendent's face, and he
almost beamed on them for agreeing with him.

"You've got a good machine there," he continued. "The ferry's at the
bank at Panuco, and once you're across, the rebels aren't so thick on
the north shore. Why, you can beat the steamboat back to Tampico by
hours. And it hasn't rained for days. The road won't be at all bad."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Which is all very good," Davies observed to Wemple as they approached
Panuco, "except for the fact that the road on the other side was never
built for automobiles, much less for a long-bodied one like this. I wish
it were the Four instead of the Six."

"And it would bother you with a Four to negotiate that hill at Aliso
where the road switchbacks above the river."

"And we're going to do it with a Six or lose a perfectly good Six in
trying," Beth Drexel laughed to them.

Avoiding the cavalry camp, they entered Panuco with all the speed the
ruts permitted, swinging dizzy corners to the squawking of chickens and
barking of dogs. To gain the ferry, they had to pass down one side of
the great plaza which was the heart of the city. Peon soldiers, drowsing
in the sun or clustering around the _cantinas_, stared stupidly at
them as they flashed past. Then a drunken major shouted a challenge from
the doorway of a _cantina_ and began vociferating orders, and as
they left the plaza behind they could hear rising the familiar mob-cry
"_Kill the Gringoes!_"

"If any shooting begins, you women get down in the bottom of the car,"
Davies commanded. "And there's the ferry all right. Be careful,
Charley."

The machine plunged directly down the bank through a cut so deep that it
was more like a chute, struck the gangplank with a terrific bump, and
seemed fairly to leap on board. The ferry was scarcely longer than the
machine, and Drexel, visibly shaken by the closeness of the shave,
managed to stop only when six inches remained between the front wheels
and overboard.

It was a cable ferry, operated by gasoline, and, while Wemple cast off
the mooring lines, Davies was making swift acquaintance with the engine.
The third turn-over started it, and he threw it into gear with the
windlass that began winding up the cable from the river's bottom.

By the time they were in midstream a score of horsemen rode out on the
bank they had just left and opened a scattering fire. The party crowded
in the shelter of the car and listened to the occasional richochet of a
bullet. Once, only, the car was struck.

"Here!--what are you up to!" Wemple demanded suddenly of Drexel, who had
exposed himself to fish a rifle out of the car.

"Going to show the skunks what shooting is," was his answer.

"No, you don't," Wemple said. "We're not here to fight, but to get
this party to Tampico." He remembered Peter Tonsburg's remark. "Whose
business is to live, Charley--that's our business. Anybody can get
killed. It's too easy these days."

Still under fire, they moored at the north shore, and when Davies had
tossed overboard the igniter from the ferry engine and commandeered ten
gallons of its surplus gasoline, they took the steep, soft road up the
bank in a rush.

"Look at her climb," Drexel uttered gleefully. "That Aliso hill won't
bother us at all. She'll put a crimp in it, that's what she'll do."

"It isn't the hill, it's the sharp turn of the zig-zag that's liable to
put a crimp in her," Davies answered. "That road was never laid out for
autos, and no auto has ever been over it. They steamboated this one up."

But trouble came before Aliso was reached. Where the road dipped
abruptly into a small jag of hollow that was almost V-shaped, it arose
out and became a hundred yards of deep sand. In order to have speed left
for the sand after he cleared the stiff up-grade of the V, Drexel was
compelled to hit the trough of the V with speed. Wemple clutched Miss
Drexel as she was on the verge of being bounced out. Mrs. Morgan, too
solid for such airiness, screamed from the pain of the bump; and even
the imperturbable Juanita fell to crossing herself and uttering prayers
with exceeding rapidity.

The car cleared the crest and encountered the sand, going slower from
moment to moment, slewing and writhing and squirming from side to side.
The men leaped out and began shoving. Miss Drexel urged Juanita out and
followed. But the car came to a standstill, and Drexel, looking back and
pointing, showed the first sign of being beaten. Two things he pointed
to: a constitutional soldier on horseback a quarter of a mile in the
rear; and a portion of the narrow road that had fallen out bodily on the
far slope of the V.

"Can't get at this sand unless we go back and try over, and we ditch the
car if we try to back up that."

The ditch was a huge natural sump-hole, the stagnant surface of which
was a-crawl with slime twenty feet beneath.

Davies and Wemple sprang to take the boy's place.

"You can't do it," he urged. "You can get the back wheels past, but
right there you hit that little curve, and if you make it your front
wheel will be off the bank. If you don't make it, your back wheel'll be
off."

Both men studied it carefully, then looked at each other.

"We've got to," said Davies.

"And we're going to," Wemple said, shoving his rival aside in comradely
fashion and taking the post of danger at the wheel. "You're just as good
as I at the wheel, Davies," he explained. "But you're a better shot.
Your job's cut out to go back and hold off any Greasers that show up."

Davies took a rifle and strolled back with so ominous an air that the
lone cavalryman put spurs to his horse and fled. Mrs. Morgan was helped
out and sent plodding and tottering unaided on her way to the end of the
sand stretch. Miss Drexel and Juanita joined Charley in spreading the
coats and robes on the sand and in gathering and spreading small
branches, brush, and armfuls of a dry, brittle shrub. But all three
ceased from their exertions to watch Wemple as he shot the car backward
down the V and up. The car seemed first to stand on one end, then on the
other, and to reel drunkenly and to threaten to turn over into the
sump-hole when its right front wheel fell into the air where the road
had ceased to be. But the hind wheels bit and climbed the grade and out.

Without pause, gathering speed down the perilous slope, Wemple came
ahead and up, gaining fifty feet of sand over the previous failure. More
of the alluvial soil of the road had dropped out at the bad place; but
he took the V in reverse, overhung the front wheel as before, and from
the top came ahead again. Four times he did this, gaining each time, but
each time knocking a bigger hole where the road fell out, until Miss
Drexel begged him not to try again.

He pointed to a squad of horsemen coming at a gallop along the road a
mile in the rear, and took the V once again in reverse.

"If only we had more stuff," Drexel groaned to his sister, as he threw
down a meager, hard-gathered armful of the dry and brittle shrub, and as
Wemple once more, with rush and roar, shot down the V.

For an instant it seemed that the great car would turn over into the
sump, but the next instant it was past. It struck the bottom of the
hollow a mighty wallop, and bounced and upended to the steep pitch of
the climb. Miss Drexel, seized by inspiration or desperation, with a
quick movement stripped off her short, corduroy tramping-skirt, and,
looking very lithe and boyish in slender-cut pongee bloomers, ran along
the sand and dropped the skirt for a foothold for the slowly revolving
wheels. Almost, but not quite, did the car stop, then, gathering way,
with the others running alongside and shoving, it emerged on the hard
road.

While they tossed the robes and coats and Miss Drexel's skirt into the
bottom of the car and got Mrs. Morgan on board, Davies overtook them.

"Down on the bottom!--all of you!" he shouted, as he gained the running
board and the machine sprang away. A scattering of shots came from the
rear.

"Whose business is to live!--hunch down!" Davies yelled in Wemple's ear,
accompanying the instruction with an open-handed blow on the shoulder.

"Live yourself," Wemple grumbled as he obediently hunched. "Get your
head down. You're exposing yourself."

The pursuit lasted but a little while, and died away in an occasional
distant shot.

"They've quit," Davies announced. "It never entered their stupid heads
that they could have caught us on Aliso Hill."

       *       *       *       *       *

"It can't be done," was Charley Drexel's quick judgment of youth, as the
machine stopped and they surveyed the acute-angled turn on the stiff
up-grade of Aliso. Beneath was the swift-running river.

"Get out everybody!" Wemple commanded. "Up-side, all of you, if you
don't want the car to turn over on you. Spread traction wherever she
needs it."

"Shoot her ahead, or back--she can't stop," Davies said quietly, from
the outer edge of the road, where he had taken position. "The earth's
crumbling away from under the tires every second she stands still."

"Get out from under, or she'll be on top of you," Wemple ordered, as he
went ahead several yards.

But again, after the car rested a minute, the light, dry earth began to
crack and crumble away from under the tires, rolling in a miniature
avalanche down the steep declivity into the water. And not until Wemple
had backed fifty yards down the narrow road did he find solid resting
for the car. He came ahead on foot and examined the acute angle formed
by the two zig-zags. Together with Davies he planned what was to be
done.

"When you come you've got to come a-humping," Davies advised. "If you
stop anywhere for more than seconds, it's good night, and the walking
won't be fine."

"She's full of fight, and she can do it. See that hard formation right
there on the inside wall. It couldn't have come at a better spot. If I
don't make her hind wheels climb half way up it, we'll start walking
about a second thereafter."

"She's a two-fisted piece of machinery," Davies encouraged. "I know her
kind. If she can't do it, no machine can that was ever made. Am I right,
Beth?"

"She's a regular, spunky she-devil," Miss Drexel laughed agreement. "And
so are the pair of you--er--of the male persuasion, I mean."

Miss Drexel had never seemed so fascinating to either of them as she was
then, in the excitement quite unconscious of her abbreviated costume,
her brown hair flying, her eyes sparkling, her lips smiling. Each man
caught the other in that moment's pause to look, and each man sighed to
the other and looked frankly into each other's eyes ere he turned to the
work at hand.

Wemple came up with his usual rush, but it was a gauged rush; and Davies
took the post of danger, the outside running board, where his weight
would help the broad tires to bite a little deeper into the treacherous
surface. If the road-edge crumbled away it was inevitable that he would
be caught under the car as it rolled over and down to the river.

It was ahead and reverse, ahead and reverse, with only the briefest of
pauses in which to shift the gears. Wemple backed up the hard formation
on the inside bank till the car seemed standing on end, rushed ahead
till the earth of the outer edge broke under the front tires and
splashed in the water. Davies, now off, and again on the running board
when needed, accompanied the car in its jerky and erratic progress,
tossing robes and coats under the tires, calling instructions to Drexel
similarly occupied on the other side, and warning Miss Drexel out of the
way.

"Oh, you Merry Olds, you Merry Olds, you Merry Olds," Wemple muttered
aloud, as if in prayer, as he wrestled the car about the narrow area,
gaining sometimes inches in pivoting it, sometimes fetching back up the
inner wall precisely at the spot previously attained, and, once, having
the car, with the surface of the roadbed under it, slide bodily and
sidewise, two feet down the road.

The clapping of Miss Drexel's hands was the first warning Davies
received that the feat was accomplished, and, swinging on to the running
board, he found the car backing in the straight-away up the next zig-zag
and Wemple still chanting ecstatically, "Oh, you Merry Olds, you Merry
Olds!"

There were no more grades nor zigzags between them and Tampico, but, so
narrow was the primitive road, two miles farther were backed before
space was found in which to turn around. One thing of importance
did lie between them and Tampico--namely the investing lines of the
constitutionalists. But here, at noon, fortune favored in the form of
three American soldiers of fortune, operators of machine guns, who had
fought the entire campaign with Villa from the beginning of the advance
from the Texan border. Under a white flag, Wemple drove the car across
the zone of debate into the federal lines, where good fortune, in the
guise of an ubiquitous German naval officer, again received them.

"I think you are nearly the only Americans left in Tampico," he told
them. "About all the rest are lying out in the Gulf on the different
warships. But at the Southern Hotel there are several, and the situation
seems quieter."

As they got out at the Southern, Davies laid his hand on the car and
murmured, "Good old girl!" Wemple followed suit. And Miss Drexel,
engaging both men's eyes and about to say something, was guilty of a
sudden moisture in her own eyes that made her turn to the car with a
caressing hand and repeat, "Good old girl!"





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dutch Courage and Other Stories" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home