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Title: Frontier Boys in Frisco
Author: Roosevelt, Wyn
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 "Frontier Boys in Frisco" ***

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FRONTIER BOYS IN FRISCO

by

CAPT. WYN ROOSEVELT

Illustrated by Rudolf Mencl



[Illustration: "The panting engine came to a stop."]



       *       *       *       *       *


THE FRONTIER BOYS

By CAPT. WYN ROOSEVELT

This series tells the adventures of Jim, Joe, and Tom Darlington, first
in their camp wagon as they follow the trail to the great West in the
early days. They are real American boys, resourceful, humorous, and--but
you must meet them. You will find them interesting company. They meet
with thrilling adventures and encounters, and stirring incidents are the
rule, not exception.

Historically, these books present a true picture of a period in our
history as important as it was picturesque, when the nation set its face
toward this vast unknown West, and conquered it.

   1. Frontier Boys on Overland Trail
   2. Frontier Boys in Colorado
   3. Frontier Boys in the Rockies
   4. Frontier Boys in the Grand Canyon
   5. Frontier Boys in Mexico
   6. Frontier Boys on the Coast
   7. Frontier Boys in Hawaii
   8. Frontier Boys in the Sierras
   9. Frontier Boys in the Saddle
  10. Frontier Boys in Frisco
  11. Frontier Boys in the South Seas

Illustrated, 12mo, Cloth Price per Volume, 50 Cents


       *       *       *       *       *


Copyright, 1911, by The Platt & Peck Co.



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER                                    PAGE

       I. On the Engine                         9
      II. A Hold Up                            17
     III. Jim Takes a Chance                   24
      IV. The Girl and the Engineer            32
       V. The Menu                             40
      VI. An Old Acquaintance                  48
     VII. Where was He?                        56
    VIII. In Frisco                            64
      IX. The Watcher                          71
       X. The Chase Begins                     79
      XI. The Chase Continued                  87
     XII. The Castle                           95
    XIII. The Man in the Gully                103
     XIV. The Visitor                         111
      XV. The Lawyer and the Pirate           119
     XVI. An Odd Restaurant                   127
    XVII. The Good Frau                       135
   XVIII. The Reconnoitre                     143
     XIX. The Castle                          151
      XX. The Banquet Hall                    159
     XXI. The Apparition                      167
    XXII. Brian De Bois Guilbert              175
   XXIII. The Crisis                          183
    XXIV. A Reincarnation                     191
     XXV. In the Cell                         199
    XXVI. In the Mow                          206
   XXVII. Look Down and Not Up                214
  XXVIII. A Square Meal                       223
    XXIX. A Reminiscence                      231
     XXX. Jim Boards the Pirate               243
    XXXI. The End, a New Start                252



FRONTIER BOYS IN FRISCO

CHAPTER I

ON THE ENGINE


"Would you like to ride on the engine, Jim?" asked the engineer of the
south bound train.

"Nothing would suit me better, Bob," replied Jim Darlington. "I guess
you can drive this black horse," nodding towards the locomotive, "as
well as you did the 'four' that you drove back in Kansas across the
plains, when we were boys," and Jim grinned. "Nothing like the real
horse," replied Bob Ketchel, "but I can manage this fire eater all
right, too."

"Trust you for that," agreed Jim heartily.

"We will be pulling out in about five minutes," remarked Ketchel; "the
tourists in the eating house are just swallowing their pie now with an
anxious eye on the conductor. Hope they don't choke."

"I'm already, Bob," said Jim.

"No, you're not," replied Ketchel; "go back to your luxurious caboose
and get your heaviest coat and your trusty revolver; we might see some
game going through the Pass," and Bob winked wisely at his "boyhood"
friend.

"Don't pull out until I get back," warned Jim, as he started on a trot
toward one of the rear Pullmans, called a "caboose" by the flippant Bob.

"'The General Denver' leaves in three minutes," called Ketchel after the
retreating Jim; "wouldn't wait a second for nobody." From the fact that
the locomotive was given the dignity of a real name indicates that the
time of our narrative belongs to an earlier and more ornate day than
this when even the biggest engine gets nothing more than a number.

At Ketchel's warning, Jim quickened his pace to a run, for he would not
have missed that ride on the "General Denver" for all the buried wealth
he and his brothers had once found on a treasure hunt in Old Mexico. I
wonder if an introduction to our old friend, Jim Darlington, is really
necessary. At least I am going through the formality. Jim, the leader of
"The Frontier Boys," whose adventures began on "The Overland Trail," and
were last spoken of in the narrative, "In The Saddle," is now on his way
to San Francisco in response to a message sent to him by the engineer of
his captured yacht, _The Sea Eagle_. He had been spending the Christmas
time at his home in Maysville, New York, where his brothers, Tom and Jo,
remained for the winter, much to their mother's joy, but to their own
deep regret, when they saw Jim starting out on a journey whose
adventures they could not share.

So much for the introduction, now to the narrative. Jim had no time to
spare and he could be very prompt when he had to, as all his old friends
can well remember. He swung into the black Pullman near the rear of the
long train, glided through the narrow alley way between the smoking-room
and the side of the car, just missing a head on collision with a stout
party coming out of the sleeper. The latter was about to express a
haughty indignation at Jim's abrupt approach, but that worthy gave him
no chance, as he dashed for section No. 9 at the end of the car. Here he
snatched from his valise his belt and revolver and fastened them with
rapid precision around his waist, and then with a heavy sweater in his
hand, he made a rapid exit from the car.

Already his three minutes were nearly up, and he had an exasperating
delay in the narrow passageway where a file of well-fed diners were
coming through. As Jim leaped from the platform the engine gave a
short, sharp whistle and the wheels began to revolve. Jim's vacation had
not made him fat nor short winded and he sped after the engine, with the
swiftness of an Indian on the trail of an enemy. Perhaps Bob Ketchel let
his engine take it rather slowly. However that may be, Jim in a few
seconds was alongside of "The General Denver" and then his foot was on
the ugly saddle stirrup of iron and he was aboard the engine in a jiffy.

"Pretty good for a tenderfoot," grinned Bob. "No wonder the Injuns
couldn't catch you."

"It's because my feet are so tender that I take them off the ground so
fast," explained Jim.

The fireman laughed at this and his white teeth shone like a darky's
from the sooty grime of his face.

"You can have my side of the cab," he said. "It's going to keep me busy
firing on the upgrade."

Jim took his place with a pleasurable feeling of excitement and
interest. It was a new experience for him and one he was bound to
remember. Already the locomotive was gathering momentum. The little town
was left behind in the gathering dusk and soon they were threading their
narrow iron way through the solitude of the great mountains. Looking
back on a sharp curve, and there were many of them on this mountain
grade, Jim could see the crescent form of the coaches all alight, where
the passengers were seated at their ease.

Then he looked at the intent, grim-faced, young engineer who never took
his eyes from the track ahead, keen and quick to act on the first sign
of emergency. "They certainly are safe with Bob to pilot 'em, lazy
beggars," said Jim to himself, divided between admiration for his friend
and contempt for the ease loving passengers in the sleepers, who would
soon turn into their berths in comfort and security, while the engineer
would guide his roaring, flaming steed through deep gorges, over dizzy
bridges, and down the winding grades from some high divide.

Already the night had fallen and all was darkness except where the light
from the locomotive sent its fierce thrust of illumination into the
night, straight along the steel rails with sudden, quick thrusts as the
"General Denver" rounded a curve. "My but it is great!" cried Jim with
enthusiasm, as on the engine roared into the depths of the mountains. In
a short time the moon rose over the crest of the range, shining with a
pure brilliance that the work-a-day sun can only dream of.

After several hours of uneventful progress the train ran into a long
siding and came to a gentle stop. It was in the center of a wide
mountain valley with nothing to indicate human life except a solitary
section house, painted a dull red, and, beyond it a short distance, a
water tank of the same color.

"I guess that didn't jar any of those sleeping beauties back there, when
I stopped her," said Bob quietly, as he stepped down from the cab.

"Couldn't have done better myself," replied Jim whimsically, "but I
would have been tempted to give them a jolt just to make them sit up for
a minute."

"Some of the boys do shake 'em up when they feel sort of cranky,"
admitted Ketchel.

"That's the kind I have always traveled with," remarked Jim, "but what
are we waiting here for?"

"No. 10 is due in a few minutes. Here's where we oil up." Jim watched
the operation with interest while the engineer and his fireman went
methodically from part to part of the engine with their long billed oil
cans.

"She must be late," said Ketchel, looking keenly up the track and then
at his heavy, open-faced watch. "What do you suppose is the matter with
her? No need of losing time on a night like this," he continued.

"Maybe she has been held up," said the fireman.

"That's more likely to happen to us," replied the engineer shortly. "No.
10 doesn't carry anything but the money the newsboy gets out of the
passengers for peanuts and bum dime novels but we have something in that
express car that's going to California and it's valuable."

"I'm going to California," put in Jim mildly.

"But you ain't valuable," replied the engineer with a grin.

"Except with this," said Jim, putting his hand on his revolver, with a
touch of seeming bravado.

"That's where you come in," said the engineer.

"I thought you weren't giving me a ride just for the fresh air, and to
get a view of the 'mountings' by moonlight. But where do you expect
these villains to jump you?" inquired Jim.

"Well, there are numerous, romantic, little spots along the trail ahead
where they might stop us for an interview," said Ketchel.

"I'm thinking they will be a lurking in 'Boxwood Canyon,'" said Bill
Sheehan, the fireman. "It's the likes of a dirty black gang that will do
the deed, the same that shot poor Jimmie McGuire last month because he
wouldn't give up his train to 'em, and him with three childer at home."

"There comes 'No. 10.'" cried Jim, "and it will be all aboard for
Boxwood Canyon."

"Aye, but you have sharp ears, I don't hear anything of her as yet,"
remarked Bill.

"Him has sharp ears and eyes, Bill!" exclaimed the engineer. "That boy
there can take the trail with any red Indian and that's the truth."



CHAPTER II

A HOLD UP


At that moment there came a glare of light sweeping down the track from
the headlight of "No. 10." With a roar and swaying of the big engine,
the train rushed down upon them and swept past with its hind heels or
wheels kicking up the dust. Then its tail lights of cherry red grew dim
way down the valley.

"All aboard, boys," cried Ketchel as No. 10 passed; "we've got some time
to make up."

"He'll stop just short of murder to the train," declared the fireman who
knew his engineer when it came to a question of picking up a few minutes
of time.

"He will swing her like he used to drive the old stagecoach on the down
grade," remarked Jim, "and that will be going some."

Already they were gathering speed, as he sent "The General Denver" along
the level of the valley. In a short time the train came to a steep
descent through a narrow canyon, and Jim was in for a new experience.
Enured though he was to all kinds of dangers it made him catch his
breath when the engine went straight for a wall of solid rock and then
turned as though to dash straight from the track, into the brawling
stream below.

It righted itself with an effort and leaped down the shining trail
rocking from side to side and trembling with the vibrations of its
fierce power, dashing straight for the depths of the shadows between the
towering cliffs. Little did the sleeping passengers realize the dangers
through which they were passing every minute.

"Gee!" exclaimed Jim, "suppose a bowlder has rolled onto the track just
ahead. It might happen easy enough too."

Just then, Bill Sheehan, the fireman, touched Jim with the end of his
shovel to call his attention to something they were coming to ahead. Jim
saw a jumbled heap of freight cars half in the stream and half out, and
a little ways further on was the rusty ruin of a once powerful
locomotive. Jim nodded to the fireman.

"Something has been doing there," he yelled, but the words were blown
from his lips and lost in the roar as steam disappears in the air. Jim
took a look at his friend, the engineer. He was alert and intent, ready
for any emergency, and Jim felt a sense of absolute confidence in his
friend's skill. After a ten mile run, the canyon began to broaden out
and there were other trees besides the solemn pines. A sense of
impending danger came over Jim. He had experienced it many times before
and whether it was an ambush of Indians, or the plans of some band of
outlaws it had rarely betrayed him. It was something in the air; a
vibration that the human nerves are as conscious of as a dog's nose is
cognizant of the scent of some wild animal. Jim turned and looked at the
engineer, who nodded back at him for a second, with a look that
indicated there was business ahead; then his eyes were fastened on the
track again.

Jim took out his watch and saw that it was a quarter to two. It brought
a quizzical smile to his face. Time and again he had noted the fact that
it was just about this time that an attack was sure to come. It sent a
thrill through his nerves for he felt that they were rushing straight to
a crisis. Much depended on the three men in the engine, for there were
many helpless women and children on the train for whose safety they were
responsible. Jim noted that the country through which they were going
was well suited for the purposes of the bandits desiring to hold up the
train.

On either side the walls of the mountains rose at the distance of only a
few hundred yards, covered with dark pines and huge rocks showing here
and there on the bare fall of some precipice. Between the foot of the
mountains and the track was rugged ground, with large bowlders scattered
here and there. Clumps of trees and bushes and numerous gullies could be
discerned.

It was just the country for a surprise of this kind. Jim stepped down
from his narrow seat and got his hands thoroughly warm and pliable, took
off his coat and folded it neatly on the seat and stood with his
revolver in hand, seeing whether its action was all right. He was a
stalwart figure indeed, dressed in his characteristic regimentals, with
a thick, tight fitting sweater of blue, pants of the same color, and a
new sombrero of a dark hue, for the old one had been battered and worn
out of all semblance to a hat, and he was obliged to give it up, though
it was like parting with an old friend.

Jim as you remember, perhaps, was a trifle over six feet in height and
during his short stay at home he had gained in flesh, so that he weighed
one hundred and eighty-five pounds. His hair was brown and straight and
his eyes gray. He was doubtless fit for this battle or any that should
come his way.

Just at that moment, Bob Ketchel saw an obstruction on the track, about
two hundred yards distant, and applied the air brakes instantly. He had
been on the watch for just this thing, and noted that there was plenty
of cover where the express was halted wherein the desperadoes could
hide.

Slowly the panting engine came to a stop with its nose almost against
the stone obstruction and there were flashes from a half dozen rifles on
either side of "The General Denver." A simultaneous attack was made at
the rear of the train.

It was hardly a fair duel but Jim and Bob Ketchel were competent hands
at this game and keeping under cover they managed to get in some telling
shots. A near bullet sent a splinter from the cab into Jim's cheek, but
he paid no attention to it at the time. When he caught a sudden glimpse
of two men skulking behind a clump of bushes trying to get a bead on
him, he sent two shots straight at them and then ducked into the cab in
time to escape a side shot from behind a rock.

He could hear Bob's fusillade from the other side of the cab and the
return volleys from the enemy, but he did not worry about his friend,
the engineer, for he knew full well that he could take care of himself.
It was the other fellows who would have to look out. But Jim saw a
figure leap in behind a rock, near the side of the express car, where he
would have the drop on Bob.

There was but one thing to do and James did it. He leaped into the
tender which made an excellent fort, and there for a few minutes he kept
the bandits at bay. He would have laughed heartily at the fireman, Bill
Sheehan, if he could have spared the time, for that worthy had taken up
the battle in his own way. Having quickly discarded his revolver with
which he was not an expert, he began hurling chunks of coal, wherever he
saw the flash of the enemy's fire, and filled with fighting fury he
exposed himself most recklessly, but with no apparent harm. Whether
Bill's novel form of attack made the attacking party helpless with
laughter or because he was in such constant motion that it was hard to
get a bead on him, be the reason what it may, at least Sheehan came
through unscathed.

For a brief time, the battle was even, in fact the engineer and Jim
probably had the best of it, and then there came a change in the
situation. The party in the rear, saw that their brethren were meeting
with a sharp resistance from the engine, so two of them swiftly and
stealthily ran along by the side of the train until they came to the
baggage car next to the engine.

Slipping in between the two cars they quickly got on top of the baggage.
Any noise they might have made being deadened by the firing going on
just below. The desperadoes redoubled their attack when they saw two of
their number about to turn the fight in their favor, for it was
perfectly clear what an advantage their position on the roof of the car
would give them.

They could not be hit themselves even if discovered, and it was certain
death for Jim and the engineer for they would not be more than thirty
feet from the two desperadoes. Even a tenderfoot would not miss at that
distance and these men were not in that class. Neither Jim nor Bob
Ketchel were standing so that they could catch a glimpse of the two men
who were crawling along the top of the blind baggage. At that instant,
Bill Sheehan made a rush for the top of the coal pile to get a chunk of
ammunition of sufficient size and weight.



CHAPTER III

JIM TAKES A CHANCE


As Sheehan mounted the coal, he caught a glimpse of one of the
desperadoes on top of the car and yelled to Ketchel and Jim who jumped
just in the nick of time, and by sheer luck not uncommon in battles,
escaped unhurt. As for the fireman he took a novel way of making his
escape, by diving into the shelving bank of coal and letting it slide
over him. In the excitement of the flurry of firing he was able to do
this.

Jim and Ketchel both leaped from the same side of the engine and were
protected by a slight cut alongside of the track. Bullets whirred and
cut into the dirt around them. As they ran both of them sent a shot at
the man on the near side of the blind baggage, with such good effect
that he pitched to the ground with an injured leg.

"Duck low, Jim," yelled the engineer; "we will beat them yet. I've got a
scheme."

"I'm with you," replied Jim.

This was literally true, for he was right at the heels of the scurrying
Bob. As they passed the barricade of stones, Ketchel gave it a quick,
searching look, then in a few strides they got to cover in a culvert a
number of yards in front of the pile of stone. By the help of a few ties
they made a respectable fort.

"So far, so well," said Ketchel, "but it won't do to stay here very
long, for they will loot the train."

"Nearly the whole gang is down there," cried Jim, "I can tell by the
firing."

"We've got to clear that barricade off the track and quick, too,"
declared the engineer. "It's our only hope."

"Those stones are pretty heavy to lift off under fire," said Jim
composedly, "but I guess we can make a go of it."

"I like your nerve," said Ketchel, a gleam of admiration showing for an
instant in his usually noncommittal face, "but I've got something here,
that will help us in this hoisting business," and he thrust his hand
into one of the pockets of his overalls.

"What is it?" queried Jim.

"Dynamite," replied the engineer, producing a small chunk of the same to
view.

"Won't it blow up the engine, too?" asked Jim.

"Not likely with this amount," said Ketchel. "We will have to chance it
anyhow."

"Ain't you afraid that you might take a chaw on it, by mistake for your
tobacco?" queried Jim in a matter-of-fact voice. Bob Ketchel only
grinned by way of reply.

"Now is our chance," whispered the engineer; "keep the beggars lying low
while I start the fireworks."

"I'll attend to that," replied Jim briefly and with emphasis.

Then two crouching figures slipped out from the culvert, and Jim kept on
the move with the quick dodging motions of a boxer so that the enemy in
ambush could not get a bead on him. Flashing the fire of his revolver
this side and that at a cluster of rock, or a clump of bushes he dodged
on, and such was his accuracy that not a man in the attacking party
dared show himself in the open.

Jim was able to keep down their fire, as his ally rushed to the
barricade; then Ketchel stooped down and thrust the dynamite into an
opening between the rocks and drawing off quickly threw himself flat
down by the track. Then there came an upheaval that shook things. A
geyser of rocks shot into the air, and in a jiffy Jim and the engineer
had cleared off what remained on the track in the shape of debris. The
engine itself had most of the cowcatcher torn off and the headlight
smashed.

"Spoiled her beauty for you," said Jim. "But we will spoil their game I
guess, and I don't think the railroad company will complain at the loss
of a cowcatcher." Meantime both had raced back to the engine.

Before the gang had time to fully realize what had happened, Ketchel had
regained his place in the cab and had turned the engine loose on the
sanded rails. Within a remarkably short distance he had her full speed
ahead, with a parting salute of shots from the enraged and baffled "hold
ups."

"There goes three of 'em," cried Jim, who had swung aboard. "My what a
jump."

They shot from the rear of the train like projectiles from a catapult,
rolling over and over down a steep embankment. Two got up very slowly
but the third lay as if dead.

"Where's Sheehan?" cried the engineer; "we haven't lost him I hope."

"Gosh! he's in the coal!" exclaimed Jim.

He leaped into the tender and saw a movement under the coal. Working
frantically, Jim was able to drag their submerged ally from the retreat
that had almost buried him. The cold air brought him to, and he rose
staggeringly to his feet.

"Yer started your thrain too suddint, Mr. Ketchel, and pulled two ton of
coal over my poor head," cried the fireman in half humorous indignation.
"Why didn't you whistle and give me fair warning as to your intentions.
And how did you lads escape without bullets in your hides. Yer must have
charmed lives the both of you."

"How many of 'em did you get, Bill," yelled back the engineer from his
cab.

"Aye, there is many of them that will carry black marks the rest of
their lives, where I handed them some chunks of coal."

"The company will take it out of your salary for wasting their coal,"
remarked Ketchel.

"And shure and they ain't none too good to do it," remarked Bill Sheehan
with conviction.

"Get in, Bill, and throw what coal you have got left into that boiler;
we have got to make the siding this side of the Divide to get out of the
way of 'The Eastern Express.' That little fracas back there cost us
fifteen minutes."

"And half a ton of coal," said the fireman, as he bent his back to the
work of shoveling, looking for all the world like a black gnome.

"I wonder what has happened to the passengers," said Jim to the
engineer; "there seemed to be a lot going on back there the last five
minutes of the fight."

"I can't slow up, Jim," responded the engineer, "because we have got to
make that siding."

"I don't expect you to, Bob," replied Jim, "I'll go over the roofs. I
can make it if those open air burglars did."

"It's durn risky," warned the engineer; "we are speeding now, and the
train is twisting so it will sure throw you on some of the curves."

"I've ridden a few bronchos in my time," declared Jim, "and been aloft
in some heavy seas and I guess I can manage this."

Self-confidence is all right but pride often goes before destruction and
Jim came very near getting his on this occasion.

"And where do you think you are going, lad?" asked Bill Sheehan, as Jim
started on his climb over the tender.

"I'm going back to see how many of the passengers have been scared to
death and why some of those guys in the sleepers didn't turn out and
help us to fight off those bandits back there."

"Oh, them are tenderfeet from way back the other side of the range, they
was too busy hiding behind their women folks to fight," declared the
fireman, "but you ain't going on no such trip young feller." He made a
dive for Jim but that worthy was not to be detained and was half way up
the little iron ladder before Bill Sheehan had recovered his balance.
"Come back," he cried, poising a bit of coal in his hand, "or I'll
bring you back." This bluff did not disturb Jim who was now on top of
the baggage car.

"Just like a young limb," he muttered, as he watched the daring James.
"I'd have done the same twenty years ago."

Jim crawled or sneaked his way along the elevated part of the roof, so
that he could clutch one side or the other in case of need. The train
was now winding through a narrow gulch in a line of hills and a fierce
wind tore at his body as though trying to fling him loose. He felt that
it was more than he had bargained for, as the grimy roof slipped this
way and that under him, then there came a sudden lurch and he was lifted
clear off the top of the car and one hand was wrenched loose, and in a
second his feet were hanging over the side.

His other hand caught the steel rod that opens one of the small windows
in the elevated roof of the car. Would it hold? On its strength depended
his only chance of life. He drew himself up slowly with every ounce of
his strength. The rod bent but held and once more he was back on the
roof. So he took his perilous way along and at last he reached the
foreward coach. The door was guarded and he came near being shot by the
suspicious conductor, who took him for one of the bandits.



CHAPTER IV

THE GIRL AND THE ENGINEER


Indeed Jim's appearance was much against him. He was covered with dirt
and grime and coal dust. It was only by holding his ticket against the
pane of glass in the door of the coach, that the conductor was made
willing to admit him. But when he was informed who Jim was he treated
him with due respect and even cordiality. That was pretty good for a
conductor in those days.

Jim was an object of interest as he passed through the coach. He might
have blushed at finding himself a hero, but if so he was perfectly
disguised by his temporary color, which was decidedly dusky.

"Oh, Mamma," cried a youngster, "I'm afraid of that big black man. Will
he steal me!"

"Nonsense, Willie, that's the nice, kind gentleman, who gave you some
candy at the station yesterday." Jim laughed and the only show of white
about him was his teeth. "I don't blame the little chap for being
scared," he said, "I'm a bad looking object for a fact."

"You ought to have seen three of those fellows jump," remarked Mr.
Conductor, as they went on their way through the train; "that was when
Bob opened up. I guess one of 'em was badly shook up by the way he lit."

"I saw them take their flying leap," returned Jim, "but was anybody hurt
back here?"

"The brakeman got it in the shoulder," replied the conductor, "but I
guess he will be all right. Have to take a lay-off for some weeks."

"It's curious how many bullets are fired without hurting anybody,"
remarked Jim, "but I've noticed that before."

The conductor looked at the tall young fellow keenly for a moment.

"I reckon you are no tenderfoot," he asserted.

"Right there!" replied Jim; "that is if experience counts. But I was
born in the East."

"You can't help that," remarked the conductor, to Jim's amusement; "you
would have laughed to see them fellows lying close to the floor of the
car, when the shooting was going on. It ain't a dignified sight to see a
round fat man trying to make himself small by lying as flat as
possible."

"I can't blame them," replied Jim; "I would have been trying the same
maneuver if I had been there."

"No, you wouldn't," contradicted the Taker of Tickets; "you would have
been busy trying to get a line on some of the gents who were kicking up
a ruction outside.

"Maybe," said Jim doubtfully.

When they entered the first Pullman, Jim was in the lead and at the
sight of a tall, blackened-looking individual entering through the plush
portières into the main body of the car several of the women shrieked,
and two stout gentlemen dived down between the seats.

"Conductor!" they yelled; "Conductor! help!"

Jim was greatly embarrassed by this reception, and started to back out
hastily, but was stopped by the rotund figure of the greatly in demand
conductor.

"Ha! ha!" he roared. "Ladies and gentlemen don't be frightened. This
young man is no desperado, but he has been fighting them off down in
front on the engine during the late hold up."

Slowly like twin round moons rose the faces of the two stout men from
opposite sections.

"I say, Conductor," remarked one of them who was an Englishman, "this is
a jolly shame. Can't we travel in peace in this beastly country? Always
some bally ructions going on, don't yer know."

The conductor's answer was rather abrupt for he did not fancy the
Englishman's style of speech, and that testy individual was more upset
than ever. Jim went quickly to his section, got a change of clothing,
retired to the wash room and proceeded to get thoroughly cleaned up.

This was quite an operation, undertaken in the presence of two drummers
who were smoking and talking in bragging tones of what they had done
during the recent fight. Jim was too busy to pay any attention to their
talk until one of them addressed him directly.

"Where was you, young fellow, when we was held up back there?"
questioned one.

"I was forward," replied Jim shortly. He did not take especially to
either of the two men.

"Bet you were hiding under the trucks," asserted the other. Jim did not
know whether to laugh, or to throw the fellow out of the window. He had
not noticed the conductor who was standing in the passageway, but that
worthy had overheard the remark.

"Who did you say hid under the trucks?" he inquired belligerently. The
man addressed feebly indicated Jim, then the conductor lit into the
fellow for fair.

"You trying to run that young fellow? Why if he took the notion into his
head, he could turn you up simultaneous and paddle whack both of you.
Why you ain't nothing but--" however, I draw a veil over this part of
the harangue.

Jim laughed good-naturedly but said nothing.

After the conductor had left, the men took the opposite tack and were
very fulsome in their praise of Jim. Wanted him to drink with them and
all that sort of cheap comradeship, but he would have none of their game
and got out as soon as he could.

At the first stop the train made, James went forward to join his two
friends on the engine.

"And who may you be?" queried the fireman; "you look very much like the
Vice-president of this railroad instead of the tramp I saw some hours
agone trying to ride the blind baggage."

"I've got my face washed, Bill, and a fresh shirt to my back and my
moccasins polished if that is what you are aiming at," replied Jim good
humoredly.

"I must say, Jim, it gave me a scare when I saw you swing over the edge
of the car, but it was no use for me to try and slow up then, besides I
had time to make up, and the engineer can't stop for his best friend
then. But I must say you have a cast-iron nerve."

"I felt scared," admitted Jim frankly.

"You had reason to," remarked Bill Sheehan.

"All aboard, boys," cried the engineer. "I see the conductor is waving
us to go on. You take Bill's side of the cab and watch me drive her into
the Junction. That's my terminus and we will have breakfast together."

"Wish you were going to the coast with me, Bob," remarked Jim. "I'm in
for some trouble there I'm afraid, and you are the chap I should want to
back me up, and that's solid."

"I'd take you up in a minute, Jim," then he lowered his voice, "but you
see there's a girl at the Junction and we are to be married next month."
Jim gave his friend a hearty slap on his broad back.

"Glad to hear it, Bob, old boy, and may it be a lucky go for both of
you."

"Thanks, Jim," replied Ketchel, and there was a dubious moisture in his
eyes, which vanished in a second, as he watched keenly the road ahead.

Jim always remembered the ride into the Junction. The moonlight had
faded from the sky and the fuller, keener daylight was creeping in to
take its place. The train was now puffing along just below timber line,
and in the west was a semi-circle of snowy peaks, rugged, superb,
symmetrical, with the tint of dawn gilding their summits.

On the mountains through which the train was passing were great patches
of snow. The air had that marvelous clearness that Jim knew so well and
his eyes sparkled, as he breathed it in deeply. Just as the sun came up
he saw below at a distance of several miles, in a snow lined basin in
the hills, the dark patch of the Junction. As they neared it, Jim's keen
eye saw the figure of a girl standing on the porch of a small white
cottage. There was something very attractive about the young figure
standing there, with the color of health in her face, and a look of
fervor in her eyes. A signal passed between the engineer and the girl
and then the train roared on towards the station.

"I don't blame you for not wanting to go to California, Bob," said Jim.

The engineer smiled good-naturedly but was content to let Jim's surmise
go unconfirmed.

"The boss is shure done for," interrupted the fireman; "he won't be the
same high spirited man in a few years he is now. It's all very tempting,
but it's like tolling an ox to get his neck under the yoke. It's a
terrible thing to see a young fellow like him bent on taking
responsibilities he don't know the heft of." Ketchel only grinned at
Bill Sheehan's doleful prophecy for he knew the root of it, as the
fireman's wife was something of a termagant and the sound of her
scoldings had reached other ears than Bill's.

Now came the whistle for the Junction, and the train slowed to a halt on
a long level platform on which lay a six-inch carpet of dazzling snow.



CHAPTER V

THE MENU


That morning always stood out in Jim's memory, not because of any
unusual adventure, nor because it marked any period in his young
existence, but simply that he felt full of the exuberance of life, after
the night's adventure; the very air was intoxicating. That, by the way,
was the only intoxicant James ever took. He was glad to be with his old
friend, Bob Ketchel, even for a short time.

Then, too, there was the certainty of immediate events of interest as
soon as he reached San Francisco, and he felt confident that he could
meet whatever might come. His past experiences had taught him
self-reliance and he thrilled to the sense of coming adventures. But the
fact that he was soon to enjoy a good breakfast had something to do with
his feeling of contentment. Besides, he and the engineer were objects of
interest in this little mountain settlement, for the story of the
attempted hold up was soon common property, and the two were the
observed of all observers. This is not unpleasant, as many a schoolboy
hero of the football field or track knows right well.

In about fifteen minutes' time Jim and the engineer were seated at a
pleasant looking table in a sunny corner of the dining-room, with the
whitest of cloths and everything about the table neat and attractive. It
was not at all like the Wild West, and it is at the eating stations that
whatever of luxury or comfort there is in this wild country is
concentrated.

There was a hearty menu of several kinds of meats and gravies, fried
potatoes in abundance, excellent coffee in large cups, and smoking
plates of griddle cakes with plenty of syrup. Jim ate with an appetite
derived from a long fast, and plenty of exercise. The reader can vouch
as to the amount of exercise that James had undergone in the past few
hours. The dining-room was full of tourists at the different tables, and
it was a lively and animated scene. The events of the previous night
were the general subject of discussion and Jim was fully aware that he
was being talked about. But he was a well balanced chap, and was not the
least "swelled" by the notice taken of him.

He and the engineer had a good time telling each other of the adventures
that had come their way during the years since they last met. Jim could
tell his friend of their wonderful trip into Mexico, the excursion into
Hawaii, and what occurred in the Hollow Mountain, likewise of their
encounter with Captain Broome, that booming old pirate whose splendid
yacht they had seized after a struggle that required strategy as well as
bravery. However, Captain Broome was not through with Jim as we shall
soon see.

"Well, Jim," said Ketchel finally, as he pushed his chair back from the
table, and took a quick look at his watch, "the train you pass here is
due in ten minutes and then you will be pulling out. Let's go outside;
it's a bit too warm in here to suit me."

"All right, Bob, the fresh air will seem good to both of us."

As they stopped at the office just outside the dining-room door, there
was a moment's friendly rivalry to see who should settle for the
breakfast but Ketchel winked at the clerk behind the circular counter
with its usual cigar case, and porcupine arrangement of toothpicks. "His
money is no good, Sam," he asserted, "when he's traveling in my
company."

"You're the judge, Bob," said the clerk. "I hear you and your friend
were held up in Bear Valley last night, together with the train you
were toting along. How about it?"

"I'll tell you later, Sam. Jim here is leaving on No. 7 and we are old
pals and have got some talking yet."

"I see!" acquiesced Sam. "Good luck to you," and he nodded good
humoredly to Jim. The two friends went out into the crisp, clear air.
The snow crunched under their feet as they paced along the platform, and
the elixir of the atmosphere made every bit of them tingle with its
vivacity and life.

Jim's eyes sparkled and his face was ruddy with the glow of healthy
blood in the cold air. He took in the scene about him with an
appreciative eye for he truely loved the West and was at home in it. He
noted the white smoke rising into the clear cold from the chimneys of
the little settlement, the encircling hills of the basin where it lay,
all of a crystalline whiteness and the sky as blue, as the snow was
white, with an intensity all its own. The fresh engine was backing down
to the train as the two friends made the second turn on the platform.
"I'll introduce you, Jim, to the fellow who runs this engine."

The new engineer was a short and very solid man of quiet demeanor; he
looked Jim over thoroughly in a brief moment.

"Glad to know you, Darlington. Hear you had a run-in with that Bear
Valley gang, Bob. Stole the pilot off your engine, eh?" And the engineer
gave a silent laugh that shook his whole system.

"You notice we came in on time, Joe," said Ketchel, briefly.

"If we are going to pull out on time, we'll have to start now. Anything
I can do for your friend, Bob?"

"Yes," returned Ketchel, "give him a ride through the Red Canyon."

"I will," replied Joe as he climbed into his engine and the train slowly
got under way.

"Good-by, Jim," said Ketchel, as they gripped hands; "take care of
yourself."

"The best luck to you and the Missus, Bob," cried Jim as he swung onto
the train, that was now gathering speed and soon the settlement was left
behind as the cars swayed through a narrow passage in the encircling
hills.

Jim slept during the morning hours and nothing of peculiar interest
happened on the day's trip, though Jim enjoyed every minute of it,
especially the ride on the locomotive through Red Canyon, with its
walls rising for several thousands of feet in breathless grandeur.
Gazing from above, the train must have appeared like a worm crawling
along the base of the cliffs.

Twenty-four hours later the huge rounded bulk of the Sierra Nevada
loomed dead ahead. When the train came to a halt at a small station at
the foot of the range, Jim got out as usual to take a walk up and down
the platform. He saw a small box in front of the station supported on a
larger one with a curtain in front of it. Upon the lower box was
inscribed the legend, "The Famous Rocky Mountain Bat."

Jim was naturally interested in all fauna. (Note the word, youthful
reader, and look it up in the dictionary.) So he sauntered up to the
cage and lifting the cheap red curtain looked in. What he saw made him
gasp for a second, but he did not run, his native courage standing him
in good stead. Upon a rich green cloth of Irish hue, was an ordinary red
brick.

There was a number of the inhabitants leaning against the side of the
depot, waiting for just such an occasion as this. They went into
paroxysms of laughter, clasping their knees, or beating each other on
the back, and their mouths were opened wide enough to have swallowed
the aforesaid Bat (Brick). Jim felt like a fool and a strong inclination
welled up within him to punch one of these border humorists, but he put
the brakes on his temper and thus kept from sliding any further down
grade.

Reaching into his coat pocket, he drew forth not his trusty revolver,
but a small diary with a red cover and a dainty ivory knobbed pencil in
the small sheath. Dost thou remember, honored reader, when thou hadst
one of them given thee to keep the record of thy important life? I bet
thou dustest. Perhaps, for ten successive days were daily jottings put
down; if very persistent perchance fifteen days were recorded and then
you quit. Carried away in the rushing course of events, the little diary
was left to wither on the shores of Time.

While this stuff has been recited Jim made a careful drawing of the
brick which he annotated with proper data, keeping all the time an
imperturbable face under the very pointed jibes of the station loungers.

His work in the interests of Science being finished he stepped over to
the place of the scorners, and planting himself squarely in front of the
most boisterous of the group, began calmly to make a sketch of this
wide-mouthed individual. Instantly the fellow's face grew sober, and the
crowd ready for any kind of fun began to jeer him.

This made the man angry and he made a bull-like rush for Jim, who was
not prepared for this maneuver and he was thrown from his balance,
striking with considerable force upon the station platform.



CHAPTER VI

AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE


The crowd, which was a good-natured one, gathered around cheering its
champion and laughing at Jim's fall. But James was thoroughly aroused by
the fall, which had added insult to an injury, and exerting part of his
unusual strength he struggled to his feet, and caught his opponent at
arms' length from him, and then turning him over gave him a few hearty
spanks while the crowd roared.

Naturally the man was furious when Jim turned him loose with a shove
that sent him staggering back for a number of feet, and he picked up a
good sized rock. He came on to demolish Jim with it, but some of his
comrades collared him so that he could not do any mischief and the
attention of the crowd was diverted to some more visitors to the shrine
of the wonderful Rocky Mountain Bat. One was a tall and angular
Englishman dressed in some rough looking suiting and his good lady who
had on a long ulster and a hat with a green veil accompanied him.

"Aw, and what is that?" he questioned, standing and looking at the
curtained box.

"Why, Charles, it says on the box, that it contains 'The famous Rocky
Mountain Bat,'" said his wife with a show of her prominent teeth.

"Bah Jove, we'll have a look into that."

They did and viewed it with closer and closer scrutiny.

"Why d'ye know the beast has escaped. That bit of brick wouldn't hold
him. I daresay the villagers will be surprised when they find it has
gone."

"It certainly is astonishing," exclaimed the lady. "Do you suppose it
can be a joke?"

"Impossible. How quite absurd you are."

Jim who was standing near by looking on with deepest interest, grinned
audibly while the overwrought "villagers" could stand no more. They
regarded the Englishman solemnly, shook their heads sadly and adjourned
to the nearest public house, to discuss the awful density of some
foreigners.

"Most extraordinary people," commented the Englishman; "sometimes
awfully jolly, and then take to drink because they lose something like a
bloomin' bat."

Jim moved away lest he, too, should be driven to drink. He walked
towards the train, which was due to start in a short time, taking no
notice of anyone. But there was one individual who was keeping an eye
on Jim. He had been standing in front of a saloon just across from the
station watching all that was going on.

This man was short like a dwarf, and was evidently a Mexican, and the
proud possessor of one glass eye. But his other eye was fixed upon the
tall young fellow in the blue suit, and the dark sombrero. When Jim was
safely on the sleeper, the Mexican did not attempt to follow him but
went into the smoker, and puffed at a cigarette; meantime he was doing
some thinking and planning.

Jim was soon to find that his old pirate friend, Captain Bill Broome,
had a long arm. A dry word of explanation is necessary here. Frontier
Boys on the Coast served to introduce this redoubtable man to the
readers of this series. The Frontier Boys though badly beaten by the
captain at first, finally under the leadership of Jim, out-maneuvered
him and captured his ship.

The Mexican who was watching Jim was one of Bill Broome's trusted
agents, and the most vicious, if not the most skillful that he made use
of in his nefarious business. Jim might have recognized him, though he
was much changed by a short, curly black beard that he had purposely
allowed to grow and which did not make his personal appearance the more
attractive.

However, Jim did not dream of anyone being on his trail at such a
distance from San Francisco, though he knew from the letter that he
carried that there was trouble to be expected when he arrived there. But
for the present he was just content to take things easy and to enjoy his
trip, which he was certainly doing. Moreover, Jim was naturally of a
frank and straightforward nature and unsuspicious, unless something put
him on his guard and then he was not to be easily fooled.

How was it that Captain Broome knew of Jim's exact whereabouts. He was
certainly not a confidante in regard to his plans and had no direct
means of knowing that James was on his way West. The explanation is
simple enough. The news of the train robbery or rather the attempt at it
was telegraphed to San Francisco and printed in the usual flamboyant
style.

True, Jim's name appeared in the account as Mr. James Damington, but
that was pretty accurate for a newspaper and a brief reference to some
of his former exploits made identification very simple to the shrewd
eyes of old Bill Broome, who was naturally interested in an account of
a robbery even if he did not have a hand in it. It was evident that Jim
was likely to become as famous as Kit Carson, who performed many of his
wonderful exploits by the time that he was seventeen. So it behoves
James to be careful. No sooner did Captain Broome's eagle eye see this
plum of information about "Mr. Damington," whom he heartily hated, than
he set things in motion by sending his greaser scout, with certain
specific instructions, to meet and trail Jim.

Once Jim passed through the smoker, but the Mexican pretended to be fast
asleep with his hat pulled well down and his head half buried in his
overcoat. Jim noticed the reclining figure casually, but thought no more
about the man, though his interest might have been aroused if he had
chanced to turn quickly for the desperado had raised his head with the
quickness of a rattlesnake and his beady eye was fixed with malevolent
intentness on Jim's every movement.

That night Jim slept with great soundness as was usual with him, unless
there was something to watch out for. As it happened there was, though
Jim did not know it. As a link in the chain of what was to occur, I must
mention the negro porter of Jim's car. He was an undersized, grumpy
person, and Jim had earned his ill will by giving him a call down for
his impudence to a lady who had the section across from him.

The darky had vowed to do him dirt, and, though he was afraid of Jim,
the opportunity soon came for him to get even. At one of the stations
the Mexican got acquainted with the porter and soon insinuated himself
into his good graces, and it did not take him long to find out that this
colored person had it in for the tall young gringo, which was sugar to
his coffee.

It was a simple matter for him to find out the number and location of
Jim's berth, and to make arrangements to get into the car about
midnight, so as to carry out his plans. It was shortly after twelve that
night, that the porter unlocked the door of the Pullman, and admitted an
undersized Mexican.

It was a sinister figure that crouched in the corner of the deserted
smoking-room, like a black spider lurking for his prey. At that moment
the porter rushed in, and collared the Mexican. The reason was not far
to seek. Looking out from the door of the car, he had chanced to see the
conductor coming with his lantern; the latter was just opening the door
to step out on the platform between the two sleepers.

It would not do for him to discover the interloper in the car, for there
would be a riot call immediately if not sooner as the Frontier Boys used
to say. The porter hustled the Mexican through the narrow aisle and shut
him into the tall thin closet where a supply of bedding was wont to be
kept, just as the conductor looked into the smoking-room.

"Somebody in here with a cigarette, Porter?"

"No sah," replied the porter. "Not a living pusson in this heah car
but's sleepin'!"

"What's the matter with you?" asked the conductor "you look pale."

"A niggah look pale?" laughed the porter but with mock mirth; "you must
be joking, sah."

"Yaller then," replied the conductor brusquely.

He was not entirely satisfied with the negro's reply, and with his round
lantern, protected by the steel wires held high on his arm he looked
through the smoking-and drawing-rooms which were unoccupied but found
nothing. Then he went along the car aisle and into the next sleeper
banging the door. Immediately the porter let out the imprisoned Mexican
who crouched back into the smoking-room, where he lingered for only a
moment.

Then he glided into the dusky aisle of the car, between the heavy
curtains with their hanging decorations of velvet bands with large steel
figures on them indicating the number of the section. There was the
constant roar of the train, and the swaying of the big brass lamps, and
from all sides came the loud snores of the sleeping citizens.

Once there came a loud cry of a person frightened by some dream, just
where the Mexican was passing and he stopped, crouching low in the
aisle. Then as nothing further came of it, he glided along until he
reached section No. 9, where James Darlington lay asleep.



CHAPTER VII

WHERE WAS HE?


Jim was breathing heavily, profoundly asleep, and the fellow's first
action was to rifle Jim's valise with the skill of an old hand, taking
every scrap of paper he could find, a few letters and a memorandum book;
these he glanced through; they were not what he wanted, at least the
paper that he had been told to bring was not there.

As he shoved the valise under the berth he heard the conductor coming
back on his return trip, and he remained as quiet as a frozen mummy,
leaning far into the berth and behind the curtain, as the conductor
brushed past him. Then he proceeded to the dangerous part of his task.
Jim's coat lay under his head, a precaution he never neglected.

With his knife in his teeth, better than a revolver for close work and
entirely noiseless, the fellow began slowly and with great cunning to
work his hand into the pockets of the coat. He found a long flat letter;
this was what he was told to get. Now his cupidity was aroused. He had
found nothing of pecuniary value, and he knew that this young fellow
carried some treasures of value in the way of jewels.

Jim was too old a campaigner to put these even in the coat on which he
was asleep. The spy knew that they must be in a belt around the boy's
body. Carefully he located it, and now the lust of theft as strong as
that of the Italian for blood gripped him. He despised all risk though
he did not lose his craft or caution; he cut the leather belt at Jim's
back, and began to draw it by minute particles towards him.

Then Jim was aroused and was wide awake in an instant. He knew that he
had been robbed and grabbed for the fellow who slipped away as though he
had been quicksilver and when Jim who became entangled in the bed
clothes got to the door of the sleeper it was locked. Perhaps he has
gone the other way, thought Jim, and he rushed to the other end of the
car; the door there was likewise locked.

Jim hated to raise a hue and cry, but he was determined to get the
thief. The loss of the belt which contained many of the jewels which he
had brought from Mexico was a severe jolt. It would cripple him cruelly
in his plans for his coming campaign when he reached San Francisco. At
all hazards he must recover that belt.

He went to his berth and slipped into his trousers and sweater and then
he found the porter apparently asleep in the smoking-room.

"Here you wake up," cried Jim, shaking him by the shoulder; "I've been
robbed not three minutes ago."

"I didn't rob you. I dunno nothing about it," declared the porter
surlily. "I've been sleeping all the time."

"You go and get the conductor," ordered Jim.

"I can't leave this hyah car," replied the negro.

Jim's face grew hard with anger, and he grabbed the porter by the back
of the neck in a grip that fairly made that worthy's bones crack, and
lifted him towards the door.

"All right, Boss, all right, I'll fatch him sure," cried the terrified
porter. "I dunno you was in such a hurry."

Jim said nothing but kept watch until the porter returned with the
conductor to whom he briefly explained the situation. He looked hard at
the porter, who began to protest his utter innocence with great
vehemence. "Why, Boss, I wouldn't steal a chicken if he crowed right in
my face," he concluded.

"I smelled a rat when I came through this car a time back. You say you
caught sight of this fellow when he escaped from your section?"

"Yes," replied Jim. "It was dark of course. But when he slipped through
the curtains I got a glimpse of him. He was very short, with a hat
pulled down, hiding most of his face, but I think that he had a beard. I
reckon he must be in here somewhere for I found both doors locked and I
was out in a hurry."

"Here you get in there, Porter," cried the conductor, his face red with
wrath, and he gave the negro a shove into the smoking-room, and slammed
and locked the door. "That will hold him for a while. I saw that fellow
all right enough. He was a Mexican and he got on at Reno."

"A Mexican!" cried Jim, starting back. "No, it can't be, this fellow had
a beard."

"Sure! he had a beard!" agreed the conductor. "Well if he is on this
train we will get him."

"He couldn't be anywhere else," declared Jim.

"Not at the rate we are going," agreed the conductor. "This is no
country to jump off in, especially this time of the year."

A thorough search was made of the sleeper which aroused all the
passengers, but the Mexican was not found. However, a trace was
discovered when the conductor unlocked the tall, narrow door, to the
linen closet.

"Somebody has been here all right," declared the conductor. "I bet he
hid here when I came through the train. Something is liable to happen to
that Coon when we get to Oakland."

Meanwhile the search was going on through the other cars of the train.
Nearly everyone had been asleep at the time and the fellow might have
passed through a number of the coaches and not been seen. One woman in
the chair car declared that she had seen someone just like the Mexican
going through the car, about one o'clock.

Everyone joined in the search, looking under the seats in every nook and
corner of the cars. If he was inside the train, it seemed that he must
have the trick of invisibility to escape. At that moment, an idea came
into Jim's mind suggested by a former experience.

"Maybe the beggar has crawled up on top of the cars," he said.

"He must be an acrobat," remarked the conductor, "to do that."

"I'm going to have a look, anyway," Jim declared. The trainmen regarded
him with amazement.

"No, you don't," said the conductor; "that's foolhardy."

"It's slippery as the deuce on top of the cars," put in the brakeman. "I
wouldn't risk it myself."

Then Jim's face broke into a grin, as a sudden thought struck him, in
regard to the subject.

"It won't take long to find out whether the Mexican gent is enjoying the
fresh air on top of the cars," announced Jim; "there's plenty of snow on
top and none has fallen for the past six hours."

The conductor hit Jim a clip on the shoulder.

"Long head, boy!" he exclaimed, "I never thought of that."

They went outside and Jim, the tallest of the crowd, was boosted up by a
couple of trainmen, between the swaying cars (this was long before the
days of vestibules), but they found no trace of the bandit.

"He's certainly not roosting up there," declared Jim.

"Well, if he jumped off, he's a dead greaser," asserted the conductor.

"We will watch and see that he don't slide off at the next station,"
remarked one of the brakemen.

"He couldn't have slipped under one of the cars, could he?" questioned
Jim.

The conductor shook his head with emphasis.

"There's no telling what that fellow mightn't do," said one of the
trainmen.

"With the devil to help him," put in Jim.

"To make sure we will search under the train," decided the conductor,
"at the next stop."

In a few minutes the train rolled into a small station, near the top of
the range. There was a flare of yellow torches under the cars as the
trainmen searched every possible foothold, while Jim stood a short
distance back so that he could see on either side of the train if a
short, dark figure should dart forth to seek escape in the wilds of the
mountains; but their quarry was not flushed into the open, even by the
flare and glare of the torches.

"Well, boy, we will have to give it up," said the conductor to Jim, when
the train started once more.

"It seems so," admitted Jim quietly.

It was hard for him to accept defeat, in this very first skirmish with
his old enemy, Bill Broome, and harder still to lose his treasure that
was to be the sinews of war in the campaign that had already opened. But
Jim soon pulled himself together with rugged determination.

"If I remember right, old Broome gave us a jolly good licking to start
with, when he captured us in the canyon in the coast range," mused Jim
to himself, "and we beat him in the end."

But the reader is probably asking about the "Mysterious Mexican or Where
Did He Go To." Well, friend, I will tell you in confidence that Mr.
Mexican was in the train all the time. Perhaps the ingenious reader has
already solved the problem of the Mexican's escape, but for those who do
not care to be bothered, I will relate what happened, and where he was
located.

When he slipped through the door of the sleeping car, which his
confederate, the negro, locked after him, he glided through several
coaches, where the occupants were all soundly and some loudly asleep,
until he came to the forward car which carried a number of emigrants, on
their way to the coast.

It must be remembered that the Mexican was a dwarf, no larger than a
child. It was easy for him to reach one of the long brass brackets above
one of the rear seats, intended for bundles often heavier than he was;
here he curled up in his heavy coat, for all the world like one of the
bundles belonging to an emigrant and thus escaped detection.



CHAPTER VIII

IN FRISCO


"Well, Jim," said the chief engineer of the _Sea Eagle_, James
Darlington's yacht, "Captain William Broome, able seaman, and all round
pirate, has routed us horse and foot, taken your riches by proxy and the
yacht away from me by his own personal efforts."

"It does look like we were up against it," admitted Jim, "but we have a
fighting chance, and I propose to keep on that old codger's trail."

"Good for you, Jim," said his friend heartily, "but if I had a crew that
had been worth a tinker's curse, the night that he attacked the yacht, I
would have saved that for you! I verily believe that Broome owned
several men in my crew, and the rest of them were half breeds and
renegades, but the best that I could get together down in that forsaken
port."

"I don't blame you a bit, Chief," said Jim; "no man could have done more
for me than you did. Have some more of the olives."

"Thanks, I will."

The two were seated in a well-known restaurant, by a window looking down
on a busy thoroughfare. It was shortly after one o'clock in the
afternoon but the lights were lit, as a dense fog peculiar to San
Francisco had filled the atmosphere with an opaque gloom. There is a
peculiar attractiveness about a first class metropolitan restaurant. It
is a warm and pleasant refuge from the bleak heartlessness and merciless
activity of a great city.

Jim, in an unconscious way, was aware of this inner delightfulness of
the large softly lighted room, with the noiseless and obsequious
waiters, the flowers, the music, the presence of many women, whose
beauty and charm made the social life of this remarkable city a
brilliant one. Jim was by no means an adept social lion, but he had an
outward self-possession that stood him in good stead no matter where he
was. The music, and the lights, and the subdued gayety of the scene
about him, filled him with a certain elation.

Life seemed a very good thing to him, in spite of his present defeat,
and the fact that he was surrounded by very pressing dangers. He would
have been a very much surprised lad if he had been told that any of
these beautiful gowned women regarded him with any interest. But he
carried himself with a simple distinction and poise, that was derived
from varied and harsh experiences, that gave him a quiet self-reliance.

James Darlington was not handsome, but he was not bad looking, as he had
the power and grace of perfect health and condition. Even the few scars
of desperate encounters in the past had not disfigured him, and in his
neatly fitting gray suit, which his friend, the engineer, had helped him
select, his brown straight hair, smoothly brushed upon his long
masculine head, and clear gray eyes, Jim was a pleasant looking specimen
of American youth. The chief engineer of the _Sea Eagle_, was perfectly
aware of the certain amount of interest which Jim excited even if the
boy was entirely oblivious of it. He was a thorough man of the world and
regarded the scene which elated Jim, with a cool contentment and a
certain appraisal of contempt.

"I do hope that no girl will come along, and disturb the lad's head, he
is too good a fighting man to be made a fool of," he mused to himself,
as he noted the sparkle of interest in Jim's eyes as the boy watched the
diners at the different tables.

At that moment the orchestra in the flower hidden balcony began to play
the Mexican national anthem La Poloma, with its enchanting melody, and
the well-known strains made a deep rhythmic run through the boy's blood.
Outwardly the young masculine has no sentiment, but inwardly he is full
of a sense of romance, that he would be shy to confess.

"Here comes the distinguished personage himself," said John Berwick, the
chief engineer, "and his fair daughter, Castilians from Mexico, and that
accounts for the music. Why didn't they render 'Yankee Doodle,' when we
made our triumphal entry, eh, James?"

Jim merely grinned at his companion, and then his face sobered, and his
eyes opened wide. The new arrivals were by no means strangers to him.
The gentleman was tall and distinguished looking with white mustachios,
while his daughter was very dark after the Spanish type; the sheen of
her hair like that of a raven's wing, and her complexion of a pellucid
pallor, while her dark eyes had depth, and not merely surface.

Under the obsequious guidance of the head waiter, they passed directly
by the table where Jim and John Berwick were seated, so close indeed
that the flutter of the señorita's mantilla brushed Jim's arm. At the
second table beyond they were assigned places, the señor facing Jim. In
a way this was a relief to the youth, for he was terribly confused at
the sight of the girl and he was afforded time to collect his wits. The
señor did not even give a casual glance around, but confined his
attention to the menu.

"Old friends, Jim?" asked Berwick who was quick to note the lad's
perturbation.

"Why, yes," answered Jim, "there can be no doubt about it. I have told
you about our adventure in Mexico, where we saved the Señorita Cordova
from Cal Jenkins and his gang and were entertained at the castle by her
father. Well, there they are. I hardly think the señorita would
recognize me. It seems a long time ago."

"Don't you flatter yourself on that point," said the engineer. "Let her
once get a square look at you, and she will know you all right enough.
She had an uneasy suspicion when she went past, that she had seen the
distinguished gentleman with his back to her somewhere. She would like
to turn around now. What did I tell you, she has dropped her fan."

"You must have eyes in the back of your head," remarked James, "but the
waiter has picked it up."

"She smiles very sweetly in thanks," improvised the engineer, "but she
would like to swat him with it. These dear creatures are not as sweet as
they sometimes appear. Have you still the rose she gave you in the
castle in Spain--I mean Mexico?"

"Why, I didn't tell you about that did I?" asked the simple Jim. John
Berwick doubled over with silent laughter.

"You did not need to tell me," he said when he got his breath; "that
method is as old as the daughters of Eve."

"I guess I will go and introduce myself," said Jim hurriedly. "Come on,
Berwick."

"Hold on, Jim," said the engineer, "I don't think that is the wisest
plan. It makes it awkward for both sides, and people don't like to have
their lunch broken in on. We will wait for them in the lobby, or find
out at what hotel they are stopping and you can send up your card."

"You are coming, too, to call on them," said Jim impulsively; "I want
them to meet you." But John Berwick shook his head with slow emphasis
and decision.

"Nay, nay, James," he said, "I have a very susceptible heart. I might
become enamored with the fair señorita, that would be trouble, sequel
two ex-friends on the sea sands by moonlight, two revolvers flashing at
the signal, two beautiful corpses stretched out on the sad sea sands,
then slow music, all on account of a girl with dark hair who once wore a
red rose in it. Life to me is too interesting for any such nonsense."

Jim laughed at his friend's way of expressing himself, and tried to make
him change his mind about the proposed call, but an older man would have
told him that there was much sound sense under John Berwick's odd humor.
The truth was that the more experienced man of the world knew that the
real danger lay in the señorita's caring for him instead of the more
simple and straightforward Jim. Berwick knew that it was social
experience and knowledge that was apt to count for most in such matters.

"Lucky this isn't our busy day," remarked the engineer, as they waited
for the Señor da Cordova and his daughter to finish their lunch.

"It's Broome's move, anyway," replied Jim.

Just then there was an incident at the other table that invited their
attention.



CHAPTER IX

THE WATCHER


The Señorita da Cordova, had suddenly leaned forward in an animated
manner and spoke to her father indicating at the same time someone who
was standing under an awning on the other side of the thoroughfare.
Whether the man's presence caused her fright, or mere excitement it was
hard to tell.

"There he is, there he is!" she was heard to exclaim.

Jim followed the direction of her glance, and immediately he jumped to
his feet.

"Come on, Berwick," he cried, "we want that fellow across the street."

Berwick was puzzled but he knew that Jim was no alarmist who would start
on a wild goose chase, without rhyme or reason. He saw the figure across
the way but did not recognize who it was. Thrusting a bill into the
waiter's hands, a procedure the waiter did not resent, he followed Jim
out of the restaurant. As their sudden departure made a slight
commotion, the señorita turned her head and got a fair look at Jim. A
flush of surprise came into her face, and her dark eyes opened wide.

"Why, Father, look at the tall American going out," she whispered; "it
is the señor who saved me from the bandits."

"There are other tall Americans," he said with a smile; "there was a
resemblance but that happens frequently in life, my daughter, the other
man bore no resemblance to his brothers." The señorita shook her dark
head with emphasis.

"It was not nice of Señor James to run away from us, as though we had
the plague; it was certainly very far from nice, and I shall make him
pay some day."

"Señor James," exclaimed her father, a slight frown on his brow; "you
certainly have a remarkable memory, Marie."

"It is not at all wonderful, Father," replied the girl with much spirit;
"did he not save me from that terrible Señor Jenkins and his band? I
shall remember him as long as there is the breath of life in my little
body."

"His memory does not seem to be as retentive as yours," said her father
with quiet sarcasm. The señorita's face flushed at this thrust and she
sat moodily silent for a while, then something happened which changed
the current of her interest.

"Look," she cried, "the man across the street is running. What can be
the matter?"

"It is your friend, Señor James, and his comrade is the matter,"
remarked her father.

Sure enough the two were in fast pursuit of, "the man across the
street," and then they turned a corner but crossing to the further side
of the thoroughfare they were still in view.

"Oh, dear!" cried the señorita, "I wish I could be informed as to what
all this commotion is about and know who will win."

Let us follow them, and perhaps we shall find out. I daresay the astute
reader has already guessed the name of the gentleman who caused this
distinct and sudden interest and flung consternation and activity into
two separate groups. As James Darlington followed the glance of the
young girl, he had recognized the dwarfish figure of the Mexican who had
robbed him of his treasure and who had previously led him and his party
into dire trouble--hence his excitement, but why the interest of the
Señorita da Cordova?--Ah! that is another tale, but now to tell the
story of the chase, for upon the result much would depend.

"Take your hat and coat, Jim!" warned John Berwick, as the two rushed
from the restaurant.

"I won't bother with my overcoat!" shouted Jim; "I'm going to catch that
fellow now!"

"Take care of his coat!" cried Berwick to the boy in the lobby, tossing
him a quarter.

Then the two friends were outside in the foggy street, where phantom
street cars and passersby were moving through the thick white density
that had rolled in from the Pacific.

"Just wait here, James," said the engineer, as they stood sheltered by
the corner of the building from observation. "He don't know me from Adam
and I'll just saunter up and collar him."

"No, John," said Jim decidedly, "I'm just aching to get my hands on
him!"

Another reason which he was too wise to give, was that this same Mexican
was a most dangerous animal to handle even if taken unawares, and he
preferred to run the risk himself.

"I don't wish to spoil your game, Jim," replied Berwick, "so I will just
saunter along this side, and capture him if he escapes your clutches."

"All right," said Jim, "but he is a wary old fox and some of his pals
may be on the lookout too, so you had better stay here until you see me
on the other side of the street; I am not going directly across."

Jim was too old a campaigner to make a wild rush at his quarry and thus
run a chance of losing him in the shuffle. Then, too, he had a wholesome
regard for the cunning of his enemy, who was not to be easily trapped.
Accordingly Jim, instead of crossing the street, went down around the
next block.

In a short time Berwick saw a tall figure, with a black sombrero, emerge
from the fog down the street, walking casually along as if not
particularly interested in any of the landscape, but out of the corner
of his eye he watched the short, sinister-looking fellow he was after.
By some obscure instinct the Mexican scented danger and started up the
street, and Jim quickened his pace, as Berwick came around the corner
where he had been concealed. Instantly the Mexican took the alarm and
started on the run, but Jim was like a lion unleashed for his prey; in
another leap he would have felled the rascal to the earth, but the
Mexican, handicapped as to speed, knew the city as hand to glove,
especially every by-way, crooked lane, or devious alley.

His knowledge stood him in good stead now; he swerved into a narrow
passageway between two buildings, that was shut off from the street by
a wooden gate, which at this moment was left unfastened; this was not
by accident, either. Before Jim could turn, the fellow had turned the
wooden button fastening the door.

Jim was furious at this escape, almost under his fingers, and his
pleasure was not increased when he heard a gentle voice from the other
side of the gate: "Good-by, Señor Gringo, I cannot wait here all the
afternoon. I have some money to spend." Jim with one bound threw his one
hundred and eighty odd pounds against the obstruction. There was a
splintering crash, and then Jim tore into the alleyway followed a moment
later by his comrade.

At the sound, a fat policeman a block away started on a waddling run to
find the cause of the outbreak, and the father and daughter who were
watching from the window of the restaurant were more than interested.

"Ah, Mother of Mercies!" cried the girl, "he will be killed." Then she
could not help exclaiming in admiration, "What strength! It is Señor
James, as I told you, Father."

"You may be right, my daughter," he admitted; "this Americana is very
brave and strong, but I trust he will not get himself disliked by
killing this Manuel del Garrote, who is of importance not in keeping
with his size."

"He had not better come into my presence if he harms the Señor," said
the Señorita da Cordova with a bitter emphasis, which her dark eyes
endorsed.

"You must learn, my daughter, that in great enterprises we cannot always
choose our associates."

       *       *       *       *       *

When Jim tore through into the passageway between two brick walls, he
saw the Mexican dodging around the corner of one of the buildings about
a hundred and fifty feet ahead. It did not take Jim many seconds to
reach the same corner, and although the rascal was nowhere in sight, the
way of his escape was plain.

Opening from the areaway back of the buildings was another gate, that
the fleeing Mexican had not time to close; beyond was the blank wall of
fog filling the side street with soft gray density. In much less time
than I write it, James was out through the gate on to the lustrous black
sidewalk, polished with the moisture. But once again the man made his
escape and it seemed this time that it was for good. There was a
four-wheeler standing near the curb, into which the fellow plunged, and
the driver, without a word, gave his two rusty blacks the whip and away
they dashed.

Jim was just in time to see the dwarf jump into the coupé. He did not
stop with his mouth open, but set out undaunted to overtake the
fugitive; neither was he distanced, for Jim had not stayed in the effete
East long enough to get pursy and to lose his wind.

Now it was different with the engineer, John Berwick. He was lithe and
active enough, and at a hundred yards, was no doubt faster than his
friend Jim, but he knew that he was not equal to a cross-city run of
several miles in the wake of a four-wheeler drawn by two sturdy
mustangs.



CHAPTER X

THE CHASE BEGINS


At the corner of a street stood a hack to which was hitched a big black,
and the rusty-looking individual who held the reins was anxious for
immediate service. "Right this way, gents!" he yelled, as he noted the
signs of a chase. "I'll catch Bill Durnell's team if I bust a wheel."

"Five dollars if you do," cried John Berwick, as he and Jim leaped into
the musty interior of the cab. Before they were fairly inside the
vehicle was in motion. The driver hit his horse a clip, and away the
hack rattled and jounced in furious pursuit, making racket enough for
ten ordinary carts. The noise of the wheels upon the cobbles aroused the
immediate interest of the street urchins on both sides of the
thoroughfare. They threw compliments as well as stones. One, quicker
than the others, managed to get a perilous hold on the back of the
vehicle, only to be hurled sprawling on the hard road as the hack
whirled around a corner on two wheels. He stayed there for a few
seconds, with a pained and surprised look on his befreckled face, then
he jumped up and fired a rock from the gutter that swatted the coach
squarely making a big dent in the black expanse of back.

"I'll break ye for that ye little gutter snipe," yelled the infuriated
driver standing up on his box.

"Yer ought to drive a coal wagon, you chump," retorted the urchin with a
shrill yell.

"He's been to a wake," greeted another crowd of boys, who stretched an
audacious line across the street directly in front of the surging gallop
of the black horse. This time the driver got some revenge by lashing a
couple of them with his long whip. This provoked a volley of stones,
causing Jim and his friend to duck down to avoid being hit.

"Boys certainly are the deuce," declared the engineer with a laugh;
"they think we are fair game."

"I'll give them a little of their own game!" grinned Jim as he picked up
a couple of stones on the seat opposite, and he leaned out of the window
of the door, sending a stone at the group with accuracy and precision.

"Look at the guy!" they yelled; "paste him in the head."

To their surprise Jim did not duck back at their return volley but
fended off a couple of the shots with his forearm, and one he caught
with his right hand as though it were a baseball, and hurled it back
with a snappy, short arm throw that caught the thrower squarely on the
thigh.

"Hurrah for you, fellar!" yelled the crowd.

Jim acknowledged the salute with a graceful wave of his hand.

"Catching 'em Bill!" he yelled up at the driver.

"Gained half a block on 'em!" cried Bill with enthusiasm. Jim could just
make out a dark blur in the fog ahead where the pursued hack was
galloping to some unknown destination. At the sight all the fierce
excitement of the chase came over Jim. He must not let that Mexican
escape this time. It meant everything to get a hold of him. He would
recover his treasure belt, whose loss was not only a serious blow to his
present plans, but an injury to his natural pride and confidence in
himself. He could imagine his brother Tom saying:

"Ought to have had me along, Jim; you are too innocent to travel alone."

Hearing the voice of his comrade, Jim drew in his head.

"Catch a sight of the black pirate craft?" inquired the engineer.

"Dead ahead, and a smooth sea, sir," replied Jim touching his hat.

"Glad to be off the pebbles anyway, Captain," returned the engineer; "it
may aid digestion, but it is doocid hard on old bones, like mine."

"I'm going upon deck with the pilot," said Jim. "I can't stay below here
while that fellow is within hail."

"Natural feeling, Jim," agreed the engineer, "but you will have to have
the Jehu up there slow down."

"Can't afford to lose the time," declared Jim. "I can reach the forward
step and make it all right."

"Risky," said the engineer, "but that fact won't stop you."

He was correct, it did not, and the driver almost fell off his box in
astonishment when he saw Jim's head at his elbow.

"Hey! what's this!" he yelled, as he clubbed his whip to strike. "Oh!
it's you is it, Mister," he changed his tone when he saw who it was. "By
thunder! I thought I was to be kilt."

"I'll sit in front here, Bill," said Jim genially. "I want to keep an
eye open to see that that greaser don't give us the slip."

"He's there in that hack yet," assured the driver; "he hain't had a
chance to jump out yit."

"They ain't pulling ahead are they?" inquired Jim, anxiously.

"Holding 'em level going down this hill," replied the driver. "My horse
is a leetle heavy for a down grade, but you will see something different
when we are going up hill or on the flat."

"I believe you," said Jim heartily; "that horse of yours is a good one."

"Paid five hundred for him, he ought to be," declared his owner proudly.

Inside the hack the engineer was making himself as comfortable as
possible. His feet were upon the opposite seat, the green carriage robe
was wrapped snugly around him and his head was dented back into the soft
cushions. He was thoroughly enjoying the chase in his own way. The
lurching of the vehicle did not disturb him, and he felt a certain
pleasure in the freedom from any immediate responsibility. There was an
excitement, too, in not knowing where the chase would carry. It was all
a strange section of the city where they now were. He could see the
ghostly fronts of long lines of houses, one not distinguishably
different from another, but as similar as if they had been sawn from
the same block of wood. The fog palliated many a monstrosity of wooden
ornament, little balcony, or carved pinnacle.

If John Berwick was quiescent on the inside of the hack, Jim was on the
_qui vive_ on the outside. He had no idea of the direction in which they
were going, but he was determined never to lose sight of that particular
hack. At this moment they reached the bottom of a long hill. An eddy of
air lifted the fog aside for an instant and Jim saw a head thrust out of
the window of the hack.

"Geewillikins!" he exclaimed, wrathfully; "that isn't the greaser!"

Sure enough the head was not that belonging to the Mexican at all. It
was a shaggy bearded face that leered back at Jim, and then he shouted
some direction to the driver, and with a belligerent shake of his fist
at Jim, jerked his head back.

"I guess that hunchback is in there all the same," cried the driver.

"He'd better be," growled Jim.

At the motion made by the bushy whiskered man, the driver of the first
carriage in this active procession, turned his team at right angles into
a street running east. "Bill" followed suit making a dangerous swerve,
that almost overturned his vehicle, but it righted itself against the
curb, and on the pursuit went. But Jim was beginning to be worried, for
the big horse was tiring rapidly, while the mustangs seemed unflagging
in their energy.

"How far have we gone?" asked Jim.

"About two miles, Boss," replied the driver.

"It won't be long till dusk," said Jim, "with this fog rolling in."

"I'll get back, what they have gained on us," declared Bill with
conviction, "before they have gone another mile."

Jim noticed that this new turn was taking them into an apparently better
section of the city, where there were really some fine-looking
residences.

"They are making a stern chase of it, Jim," called Berwick, poking his
head out of the window.

"We will catch them yet, Chief," declared Jim with outward confidence.

"Good boy!" replied the engineer. "I must say I like your spirit."

"How are you putting in the time down there, John?" queried Jim.

"Taking it easy," replied Berwick; "resting up in case I have to hustle
a little later on."

"Wise man!" rejoined Jim; "just as well to save your energies. There
will be something doing pretty soon or I miss my guess. We should
overhaul them on the next hill."

"You look kind of damp, better get under cover, Jim," urged John
Berwick. Indeed Jim did have a dampish look--his eyelashes and eyebrows
were beaded with the moisture.

"No, I'm going to stay on deck until we overhaul those pirates," he
replied, "and it won't be long either."

However, it was somewhat longer than Jim thought. It seemed that the
driver of the forward coupé was determined to make a clean getaway at
this point for he laid on the whip with fierce determination.



CHAPTER XI

THE CHASE CONTINUED


After going a half a mile further, the leader in the race made another
sharp turn, and a short distance ahead his goal was in sight, or it
would have been had not the heavy fog prevailed. Of this, Jim was of
course in nowise aware. Suddenly the hack ahead whirled and came to a
stop. Two figures leaped out into the fog and started on the run.

Jim thrust a coin into the willing grasp of "Bill," and leaped to the
ground closely followed from the cab by John Berwick, leaving the two
drivers to themselves, and only a few yards apart. These worthies taking
no further interest in the performance of their recent fares, engaged in
a wordy altercation as to the rival merits of their steeds, and each had
a different answer to the problem of "who won the race?" The outcome of
this led to blows; as to the result, that belongs to another chronicle
than mine. We are at present concerned with the race between Jim and the
Mexican, with the chief and "Bushy Whiskers" as runners up.

Jim bounded after the fleeing Mexican and his comrade, with all the
speed of his pent-up energy, and was overtaking him rapidly, when what
looked like a high dark rampart showed indistinct through the fog a few
rods ahead. Then the Mexican bent low and darted out of sight, and his
sturdy companion bounding high in the air disappeared.

Jim was thrown suddenly backward; as in mad pursuit, he dashed into an
almost invisible fence of wire, steel colored,--which luckily was not
barbed. The engineer who was a few paces behind, stopped in the nick of
time, his outstretched hand easily breaking the force of his collision.

"Hurt, Jim?" he queried.

"Naw!" replied James. "Come on, John, let's see if you can jump like his
whiskers."

"I'm no rat like that greaser," replied Berwick; "I can't crawl through,
I've got to jump."

He showed himself something of an acrobat by the grace and agility with
which he vaulted the six foot fence, and Jim went over with more power
if less grace. Now they were in a quandary for directly before them was
a wood of the tall and ghostly eucalyptus, into which the two fugitives
had fled.

"We ought to have told our carriage to wait, Jim," said the chief
engineer, with nonchalant humor. "This reminds me of two needles and a
haystack."

"I've got their trail, Chief, come on before it gets too dark," ordered
Jim, who had been casting around like a hound for a scent.

"You are the 'Boy Scout, or the Young Kit Carson,' for fair, James,"
cried Berwick, giving him a hearty slap of admiration between his broad
shoulders.

Jim grinned but made no reply as he followed the trail into the depth of
the wood, which was made weird by the slender forms of the trees whose
high tops were hidden by the low hanging mists that were as the breath
of the huge ocean. The waters of the ocean not far away were slowly
surging through the narrow pass of "The Golden Gate."

Then the hanging white strips of bark from the tall eucalyptus trees,
added to the ghostly effect of the interior of the wood. James noticed
none of these things for his attention was fixed on following the trail
of his enemies. Here his long training in wood and plain craft stood him
in good stead. It was his friend, Captain Graves, way back in Colorado,
who had given him his first lessons in this difficult art and he could
have had no better tutor than the captain, who had himself qualified in
many a hard contest with the crafty Indian.

Now the Mexican was subtle, if not crafty, and the ordinary observer,
even if he were as intelligent and quick as John Berwick, undoubtedly
would have been entirely at sea in following the trail. Jim's keen
senses, however, trained for such work, were not to be so easily
baffled. The Mexican alone would have been exceedingly hard to have
tracked, but his heavier footed comrade disturbed the fallen leaves or
left a print in the red soil that betrayed the trail.

However, the pursuers were of necessity slowed down to a certain degree
so that their chance of overtaking the two rascals grew slimmer every
second. At that moment, however, their chase was given a new impetus. It
came with a suddenness that was startling. From some distance ahead, it
was difficult to tell how far, there came a furious chorus of yelps,
barks and howls.

"Dogs!" cried Jim; "they have got our quarry treed!"

"Wild dogs, too!" said the engineer. "I've run across packs of them
traveling in Mongolia. Ugly customers they are, too, unless you are
good and ready for them."

At that instant there came the sharp report of half-a-dozen pistol
shots, and the yelps were turned to howls of pain.

"Why didn't our friends in front ambush us and load us up with some of
those lead pellets," remarked John Berwick thoughtfully.

"Perhaps they hadn't got to the place that suited them," said Jim, "or
maybe they have orders from old Captain Broome to take us alive rather
than dead. You know he is a man who likes to settle his own grudges,
rather than by proxy."

"You must be something of a mind reader, James," remarked Berwick.

"I'm not that," declared Jim, "but I have had some dealing with Captain
Bill Broome so I can judge."

Meanwhile the two friends were making straight for the noise of the
fracas, and when they had gone about two hundred yards they were
surprised by the dash of a big, gaunt, snarling yellow hound, who made a
leap for Jim with teeth wide spread. Now James was unarmed, not his
usual practice, but he was not in the habit of taking lunch at a
restaurant armed to the teeth so that when this chase started he was not
armed, else the venture would have come to an end long ago.

However, he did have his long, sharp-edged poniard with him. This he
could carry inconspicuously in a belt around his waist. He slipped it
from its sheath and met the charge of the hound squarely on his bent
knee. He was bent back by the fury of the hound's rush, but he got in a
thrust with a deadly precision that left the dog done for on the ground.

The engineer was not so lucky as Jim, he had no weapon of any kind and a
small limb of a tree that he had hurriedly picked up proved no defense
against the attack of a huge black brute, true of mongrel breed, but
none the less ugly. He had knocked prostrate the engineer, who was not a
large man, and was raving for his throat with cruel jaws, being held off
for the moment only, by Berwick's clever use of the stick he had
retained in his clutch when felled.

Jim was quick to see his friend's need. He dared not waste one single
second, but with a low rush, he grappled with the brute, and by a sudden
surge of his really great strength he thrust the beast to one side and
for a moment they struggled fiercely on even terms, Jim's hand gripping
the animal's throat, while the red, dripping jaws were striving to close
on Jim's shoulder.

Exerting all his strength he managed to twist the beast off his balance
and before it could recover had sent the death thrust home. The rest of
the pack of smaller dogs evidently did not dare to come on and for a
moment Jim rested panting, covered with sweat and blood.

"You certainly saved my neck that time, Jim," acknowledged John Berwick.
"I guess it is hanging I'm reserved for."

"If you are ready we will move on; I'm afraid that trail will get cold,"
said Jim.

"I'm with you," declared the engineer, "but I rather hope that we will
soon be out of these woods."

"Here's a little stream," remarked Jim, after they had gone a few yards,
"guess I had better remove the signs of the late murder."

"You can see where those fellows crossed," remarked Berwick; "here is
the mark of the big fellow's shoes."

"You have the making of a detective in you, John," said Jim with a
perfectly sober face.

"Oh! I can detect all right, if it is thrust directly under my nose,"
agreed the engineer, with a smile.

"I don't see for the life of me how you keep so neat, Chief," remarked
Jim, as he wrung out his stained handkerchief; "you look ready to enter
into the best society, at a moment's notice." The engineer had taken off
his brown hat and was smoothing his hair with a gentle stroke that Jim
recognized was characteristic of him and this had provoked his remark
about his friend's neatness.

"Hardly as bad as that, James," returned Berwick with a smile, "but I
must admit that for some reason I never get very badly mussed in
appearance no matter what the occasion may be."

Jim regarded his friend thoughtfully, carefully drying his hands
meanwhile.

"I should like to wager a reasonable amount, Berwick, that you always
don a dress suit for dinner," said Jim finally.

"Why, yes, I do," agreed the engineer, "whenever there is a chance. It
makes you feel like a human being after the grease and grime of the
engine room."

"Something in that," admitted Jim. "Well, let's hike."



CHAPTER XII

THE CASTLE


Jim's persistence was rewarded in a short time, when they came to the
boundary of the wood. Here they found the trail very clearly marked, as
in the old game of hare and hounds where the point of a new departure is
marked by a bunch of cut paper. So in this case there were clear
footprints, where the two rascals had cleared the fence and lighted on
the damp earth on the other side.

"Where do you suppose they are heading for?" asked the engineer.

"The devil or the deep sea," replied Jim, humorously inclined.

"If they follow this direction, it will be the deep sea for certain,"
remarked Berwick, "for this trail is making straight for the bay, or I
miss my guess."

"I bet anything that those two guys are planning to reach the _Sea
Eagle_, and there will be a boat lying in some cove to take them out,"
said Jim decisively.

"Surely Captain Broome wouldn't have the gall to bring your captured
yacht into the bay right under the nose of the authorities," said the
engineer.

"Huh!" grunted Jim; "that wouldn't be anything extraordinary for old
Broome to do. He'd delight in it; and another thing, according to my
idea the authorities and Captain William Broome ain't on such bad terms
but what they can shut an eye to some of his performances. Besides it
was his ship in the first instance," concluded Jim with a grin.

"A pirate don't have any title, anyhow," remarked the engineer.

"Maybe he does in San Francisco," remarked Jim with great simplicity.

At this Jim's chief engineer laughed heartily.

"That would be true doctrine enough for my native town of New York," he
said.

"Well, howsumever, Captain Broome don't need any title. He keeps what he
has and takes what he hasn't."

"You are an epigrammatist, Jim," said Berwick, smiling.

"Won't I ever outgrow it?" asked Jim anxiously.

"No, you will get worse as you become older," declared his friend.

"Gee, that's a bad outlook. Well, where there is life there is hope,"
replied Jim; "no use nosing this trail along, we have got the general
direction and we want to get to the beach just as soon as we can so as
to head those fellows off."

The two of them then started on a brisk trot and in a short time they
heard the roar of the surf on the sand. But about a quarter of a mile
from the beach they came to a halt, for a high fence barred their way.

"Hello, what does this mean?" inquired Jim with interest.

"It means we have come on someone's private estate," remarked the
engineer, "and judging from the sharpness of these iron spikes, they are
not at home to ordinary folks like us."

"I can just make out the house," remarked Jim, "and it looks like a big
one."

There was the indistinct loom of the house through the fog; it appeared
to be made of brick, with white trimmings and a huge chimney in the
center clad with ivy. This was a good many years ago, and no remnant of
this place remains to-day, for fire and earthquake wrought the ruin of
this mansion, long before the catastrophe of 1906.

"Let's walk around this estate before it gets completely dark," said
Jim, "which will be pretty soon now."

"You don't suppose that those two misguided pirates live here, do you?"
questioned the engineer.

"Hardly," admitted Jim, "but they might be hiding in the yard."

"It would be tough work getting over," said the engineer, "especially
with what is coming from the direction of the house." Jim looked and
pulled his friend down behind the parapet of stone in which the iron
fence was set.

"Perhaps it won't see us," said Jim in a low voice. But they were a wee
bit too late to escape detection. Between the shrubbery there came at a
menacing lope, a huge, yellow-white, bloodhound, with hanging dew laps,
and following him a great Dane whose velvety black form held a real
ferocity. They leaped high with their forefeet against the iron fence,
striving frantically to reach the two men on the other side.

"They are more dangerous than the mountain lion, those dogs," said
Berwick.

"I'm very glad to be on this side of the fence," admitted Jim. "We
wouldn't stand much show without our guns."

"I thought you ate them alive," laughed John Berwick, referring to the
incident in the wood.

"It was to keep you from being eaten up yourself," grinned Jim. "Say,
Chief, let's move out of range, or these beasts will rouse the whole
country."

"All right, Captain," agreed Berwick, using Jim's sea title, and as they
were rather at sea, it was quite appropriate. They reached a large rock
that stood out on the plain away from the house, and sat down on it,
until the noise of the baying had ceased.

"Did you think to fetch a lunch with you on this festive occasion,
James?" inquired Berwick.

"Bah Jove, old chap," replied James, "we left in such haste that it
slipped my mind, don't yer know."

"I wish your mind hadn't been so slippery," remarked the engineer. "If
you could only have had presence of mind enough to have brought an olive
or two."

"I tell you, Chief," said Jim, airily, "I'll have the dinner ready by
the time you get your dress suit. But coming down to the plain English
of it, I'm starved. Think of the exercise we have had since leaving the
restaurant to join our friend on the sidewalk."

"A man who would put you to all that trouble to speak to him is no
gentleman," declared John Berwick whimsically.

"He deserves to be hung," said Jim savagely; "anyone who would impose on
a trustful nature like yours and make you run over twenty miles of
landscape! But cheer up, John, I have a hunch that we will strike a pay
streak of grub yet. Let's take one more scout around that mysterious
castle yonder and then we will make a bee line for the nearest lunch
counter."

"Any time you give the word."

"Well, I suppose that 'all's quiet along the Potomac,' so let's move."

"Agreed, James," said the engineer.

Then the two friends slipped through the soft darkness of the night and
fog until they reached the iron rampart of the fence and went past the
great gates. There was a gilt monogram on either side and in the center,
but these things did not interest them. Then they went on to the south
part of the grounds.

"See that, John!" said Jim in a low voice.

"A light in the tower," replied his friend; "now it's gone out again."

They stood watching with breathless interest. There are lights and
lights. Some are the mere commonplace of domestic peace set on a round
table in a cozy room with children intent on the Frontier Boys. Then
there is the weird light of a lantern moving unevenly across a field, or
revolving along a hidden lane, and there is something of the dramatic in
its yellow flame. Finally there is the light that shines under strange
circumstances or peculiar surroundings that has a mystery of its own, a
beacon of danger, or of sudden death.

"It is again on this side, only higher up," announced Jim; "somebody
going up those stairs, that's what it is."

In a few moments the powerful lamp illuminated an upper room and they
saw the interior distinctly. But what fastened their attention was the
sight of a head that showed just above the sill of the windows. It must
be the head of a child to reach no higher. But what would a child be
doing up in that lonely tower. Jim gripped his companion's arm.

"It's that infernal Mexican, Berwick!" he whispered.

"No other!" said his friend. "And that light is a signal."

"Can't be seen far even if the fog is thinner," objected Jim.

"Broome is close in," said the engineer decisively.

"It may be to serve as a guide for some party coming over the lonely
moor," said Jim with much shrewdness.

"Go to the head of the class, James," remarked Berwick; "that's a sound
guess for a fact."

"Guess nothing," retorted Jim; "that's a deduction as they say in the
school books. What in the deuce is that up there now!"

A canine head was outlined in an open window and then the big hound gave
tongue that went far into the night. His senses told him that an enemy
was lurking near.

"My! what a mark for a shot!" whispered Jim.

Then they heard a sharp command in Spanish and both the dog and the
Mexican disappeared from view.

"We had better move along, Jim," said the engineer, "or we will be on
the hot end of a chase ourselves." Without a word Jim started, but he
would not run far.



CHAPTER XIII

THE MAN IN THE GULLY


The two friends disappeared in the fog, in a southerly direction from
the house and after going for about a quarter of a mile, Jim called a
sudden halt.

"Hold on, John," he said, "there is something coming our way."

"I don't hear anything," replied Berwick. "What does it sound like?"

"It's a vehicle of some kind," declared Jim.

"Now I hear it," admitted the engineer, "and I reckon that it is a
carriage of some kind."

"This is as good a place as any," remarked Jim. "It's lucky there is a
fog because there is no cover to get behind."

"Coming direct our way," said the engineer, as the thud of horses' feet
could be heard distinctly, and the low roll of wheels over the ground.

The two comrades moved quickly to one side, and they saw emerge from the
fog a high-stepping team drawing a closed carriage. The horses shied at
what they saw at the side of the way, but the coachman pulled them
quickly to their course and drove rapidly on. It was impossible to get
even a glimpse of the occupants of the carriage.

"Me lord Duke," said Jim, "going to his ancestral castle."

"That's surely where he is bound for," declared the engineer.

"There goes the gate," cried Jim, as the sound of the iron closing came
to his ears.

"The plot thickens," remarked the engineer; "that wasn't an ordinary
turnout by any means."

"We will investigate this business before morning," determined Jim,
"but there is nothing gained by rushing,--better let things settle. What
do you say, John, to getting something to eat?"

"I'm with you there," agreed Berwick. "I may have been hungrier in my
life before, but I can't remember."

"No Russian Duke this time to help you out, eh?" queried Jim.

"Don't mention that," cried the engineer; "I'm in no need of an
appetiser."

If you have read "Frontier Boys in The Sierras," you will recall the
chief engineer's account of his experience while traveling from St.
Petersburg to the frontier, when he appropriated the Grand Duke's
hamper while his Highness was wrapped in the deep stupor of sleep. He
had told it with much nerve and vivacity, and Jim could recollect very
clearly the scene in the warm engine-room of the _Sea Eagle_, with the
stormy rain sweeping the decks outside, and the good old crowd of
Juarez, and the boys, listening to the engineer.

"I have a hunch that we are going to get something to eat soon,"
remarked Jim encouragingly.

"Shall we strike the trail back to the city, and return in the small wee
hours to call on our friends in the castle?" asked Berwick.

"No need of that," replied Jim; "I am sure we can find a place to eat
down by the beach."

They had a little difficulty in finding a break in the cliffs that
walled the water front, but finally they discovered a cleft in the solid
rock and they were able to make a steep descent over broken bowlders.
They were halfway down when Jim stopped so abruptly that the engineer
stumbled against him.

"See that man sitting against that rock," he whispered; "he looks as if
he were asleep."

"Maybe drunk," remarked John Berwick.

"Or a sentinel for the castle," put in Jim.

He felt around at his feet until he picked up a suitable rock, then
closely followed by the engineer, he approached cautiously the figure
against the rock, then Jim deliberately went up and looked into the
man's face.

"He's dead," said Jim in a quiet voice. "I've seen too many like him not
to know."

"Who do you suppose got him," queried the engineer.

"Those friends of ours on the hill, no doubt," said Jim. "Yes, it's
their work," he declared, as he ran his hand along under the man's coat;
"stabbed in the back." The unfortunate fell heavily against Jim's
shoulder and one of his legs straightened out convulsively.

"You have a pretty fair quality of nerve, my friend," remarked the
engineer in cool admiration.

"Strike a light, John," said Jim, "and see if we can get a line on this
poor fellow."

The engineer drew a pretty trinket of a match box from his upper vest
pocket and struck a match near the face. There was such a direct living
look in the man's half-closed eyes, that the engineer dropped the match
with an involuntary expression of surprise and shock.

"What's the matter with you, John?" asked Jim with a touch of sharpness
in his voice. The engineer was a man of usual nonchalant nerve, whose
bravery had always seemed a by-product of his nature and not due to an
effort of the will, which gave point to Jim's question.

"I am getting shaky in my old age, Captain," replied the engineer.

"No danger of that," replied Jim.

Again a match was lit and this time Berwick held the flame close to the
dead man's face. They saw that he was not over forty years of age, with
a heavy square jaw, a full straw colored mustache, and hazel eyes. He
wore a light gray fedora hat and his suit was also of gray, loosely
worn. He was squarely built, and slightly below the middle height. There
was absolutely nothing to indicate his business, or his station in life.
Whatever possessions he may have had on him had been taken.

"What was the reason for this, John?" questioned Jim, as he gently laid
the dead man back against the rock.

"Robbery?" suggested Berwick.

"They are none too good," replied Jim, "as I can testify from personal
experience. But I reckon that there is more back of this than that.

"Now I may be mistaken, but in my opinion this man was a United States
detective and he was hot on the trail of this gang of pirates and
smugglers. I used to know a number of these fellows in New York and
there is something about them that marks them to my mind."

"I bet you have hit it right," said Jim, "but why did they not hide the
body?"

"Possibly they are so safe in this section that they don't take the
trouble to cover up their crime," remarked the engineer tentatively.

"Or they may be intending to come back to-night and dispose of the
body," said Jim.

"That's more apt to be it," agreed the engineer.

"It might be a good scheme to lie in wait for a while, and see if any of
these hounds come back on their trail," suggested Jim.

The engineer of the _Sea Eagle_ who was at present out of his element,
drew a deep sigh and likewise drew up his belt a couple of holes, which
was his alternative for a meal, that he seemed fated to go without. The
unsympathetic Jim grinned at his comrade in arms.

"I tell you, Chief," he said, "we will catch one of these grand rascals
and cook him a la cannibal."

"I would be most happy to," replied the engineer suavely and savagely.

"We will move down the ravine a ways," ordered Jim.

"My idea was that they would come down from the top of the cliff," said
the engineer with cool criticism.

"That was my idea, too," said Jim cheerfully; "then we might follow them
without too much chance of being caught ourselves."

"You are certainly long on strategy, James," remarked the engineer.

"Hello, Berwick," exclaimed Jim; "there is a light ahead."

Sure enough on the beach at the mouth of the ravine shone the yellow
light from a small square window. They crept up carefully to the place.
It was rather a curious affair. It was simply two old street cars joined
together by a wooden vestibule; one was used as a sleeping room the
other was a tiny beach eating place. Jim looked in cautiously through
the window and his eyes widened and his hand went involuntarily to where
his revolver usually hung. He remained there a full half minute taking
in the scene within while the engineer stood a little ways back in
apparent indifference, but he was carefully taking in the whole
situation. A short distance away the waters of the bay were lapping
through the darkness onto the beach.

He noticed that there were a number of heavy tracks going towards the
door of the odd little restaurant, and they were quite recent. He
listened intently to hear, if possible, who might be inside, but while
he could distinguish voices, there were only a few noncommittal sounds.
He wondered what the captain found so interesting, but just then there
came a scuffling of chairs on the floor within and the sound of guttural
voices. Jim drew back suddenly, and in evident alarm. The door was
slowly opened and a heavy figure dressed in sailor garb lurched out into
the darkness followed by a stealthy form.



CHAPTER XIV

THE VISITOR


"I wonder what mischief the old man is chawing on?" It was the forward
deck of the _Sea Eagle_, and the speaker, Old Pete, the sailor, of
unsavory memory. "He's been as savage as a bear with a sore head two
days past, and that means he's brewing some sort of devilment."

"Maybe he's watching to trail some craft going out with a rich cargo,"
said Jack Cales, of likewise deleterious recollection, who was seated on
the forward hatch, opposite the ancient mariner who was himself resting
on a coil of rope.

"I dunno about that," said Pete, puffing meditatively on his black,
stunted pipe; "according to my notion it's something ashore. Old Hunch
was aboard airly this mornin', and that greaser is a sure sign of
trouble. Reminds me of a croaking black raven. I'd like to wring his wry
neck for him. He ain't fit to associate with respectable pirates like
us."

"I don't see why the cap'n sets such store by him, anyhow," protested
Jack Cales.

"It's an unhung gang of bloody cutthroats the old man's got ashore,"
remarked Old Pete. "I wouldn't want any trafficking with them."

There was something amusing in this feud between the rascals on ship and
ashore, something like the rivalry between the navy and army.

"Shut your jaw," said Cales peremptorily; "here comes the cap'n now."

To the earlier readers of "The Frontier Boys," he is a familiar figure
but he is well worth introducing to those who are meeting him for the
first time. Captain William Broome, familiarly known as Bill, or the old
man, was a remarkable person. There was a strange softness in Captain
Broome's tread, like that of the padded panther, as he came forward
along the main deck. He appeared like a man always ready to get a death
hold upon a nearby enemy, both wary and using unceasing watchfulness.
This was evident in the crouching gait of his powerful figure. His arms
had the loose forward swing of a gorilla's, indicative of enormous
strength.

"That man a pirate!" you exclaim at the first glance. One who carried
the blackest name along the coasts of the two American continents as a
wrecker and smuggler; who in the days before the Civil War had brought
cargoes of slaves from Africa, and who had enjoyed more marvelous
escapes than any man in the history of piracy, with the exception of
Black Jack Morgan? "Impossible!" you say. "Why, that man is nothing but
an old farmer," you cry in disappointment. "He ought to be peddling
vegetables in a market!" But just wait.

True enough, Skipper Broome had come from a long line of New England
farmers, hard, close-fisted, close-mouthed men. Young Broome had broken
away from the farm, and followed his bent for seafaring, but to the end
of his rope, and his days, he kept his farmer-like appearance, and he
affected many of the traits of the yeoman, which he found to be, on more
than one occasion, a most useful disguise.

Let's take a look at him, as he comes along the deck of the _Sea Eagle_.
The heavy winter cap, which he wore in season and out of season, pulled
well down on his grizzled head, gave him a most Reuben-like appearance.
Corduroy pants are thrust into heavy cowhide boots. The deadly gray
eyes, no softer than granite, have become red-rimmed from spasms of fury
and rendered hard by many scenes of coldly-calculated cruelty.

"Yaw two gents enjying the balmy air for'ard, on your bloomin' pleasure
yacht?" inquired Captain William Broome, who had a turn for broad
sarcasm.

"Jus' smokin' a few peaceful pipes, sir," replied Pete, who was allowed
a certain amount of leeway with his master, as he had been with him in
the African trade, and as boys in New England, they had lived on nearby
farms.

"This ain't no time for peaceful meditation," said the captain; "you git
aft and keep a sharp eye abeam, and if you see any boat creepin' through
the fog, even if it's an innercent looking fishin' boat, you report it
to the mate."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied Pete as he stowed his pipe in his capacious
pocket, and maneuvering a safe distance from the captain's foot, went on
his mission. Then Broome spit carefully around on the deck.

"Here, Cales, you loafer, clean this yere deck up," he growled.

Thus, having made himself pleasant to all hands, he went forward and,
leaning heavily on the rail, looked shoreward as if expecting a
messenger of some kind. It was impossible to tell the exact position of
the _Sea Eagle_ in the immense bay of San Francisco. One thing was
certain, that it was not near the shore where the castle stood on the
cliff, for the current and the depth of water made it impossible to
anchor. However, it was near some shore, for the sound of the surf could
be heard distinctly. Five minutes passed and then the captain raised
himself up with a grunt of satisfaction. A long trim boat had slipped
quietly from the enveloping fog into the quiet circle of the sea around
the yacht.

The oars were not muffled but they made as little noise as though they
were. It was rowed by four men, quite evidently foreigners; brown men,
two with rings in their ears, and the others were splendidly built
fellows, who rowed as easily as they breathed. These latter were
Hawaiians, who are as native to the sea and its ways as the cowboys to
their own western plains. They were part of the mixed crew which the old
pirate had got together for reasons of his own. The said reasons being
that such a crew could not very well combine to mutiny or to rob him of
his ill-gotten wealth.

In the stern of the ship's cutter was an entirely different looking man
from the kind with whom Captain Broome was generally associated. If the
man had been a priest or a parson his presence in such company would
have been no more surprising. He had the appearance of a well-dressed
gentleman, probably a professional man of some kind. His features were
good and his dress impeccable.

Against the chill fog he wore a dark overcoat, with silk facings, and a
black derby hat. At his feet, on the bottom of the boat, was a long
black leather bag, somewhat like those which physicians carry. Yet he
was not a doctor, for it was generally the enemies of Captain Broome who
needed the services of a physician.

The boat glided gently by the perforated platform of the gangway and was
held firmly by the oarsmen, while the stranger stepped with a quick,
precise step from the small boat. The captain was on hand and greeted
him with a certain awkward courtesy, for politeness was not in his line.

"Glad to see yer, Mr. Reynolds," he said, giving him a grip from his
horny hand; "hope you didn't get damp from the fog, crossin'."

"It's nothing, Captain," replied the man-crisply, an amused sneer hidden
under his mustache; "fog is my element. It agrees perfectly with my
delicate health."

"I'm relieved to hear it," remarked Captain Broome gently. "Come up to
my cabin, sir, and I'll give you a drink of something that will clear
the fog for you."

The professional gentleman, from the city, followed his sinister host up
the gangway and into his cabin, while the boat pushed away from the side
of the yacht, bowed softly to the gentle swell of the sea. It was like a
carriage that is waiting for the return trip. The two Hawaiians were
laughing and joking in characteristic good humor, which is entirely
different from the boisterous jollity of the darkies.

They were having sport by laughing at their passenger. His neatness of
demeanor and style of dress seemed to furnish them with much amusement.
With their quickness for giving nicknames, they called him, "Mr.
Blackbag," and the captain was known to them as Roaring Bull. They were
very apt, as all Hawaiians are, to see the defects of character and weak
points of those white people who came under their observation.

Meanwhile the captain and his guest sat in the latter's cabin,
discussing matters that will soon concern us gravely. This cabin, as
perhaps the reader remembers, was a good sized room. A large table of
cherry wood was against one side, with a few maps and books on it. A
broad bunk was curtained off with red draperies. There was a scarred sea
chest against the opposite wall, fastened by a heavy padlock. On this
the captain was firmly seated.

To complete the description I may say that the room was paneled in
white, and contrary to what you might expect, the cabin was absolutely
neat. Broome's visitor had turned the swivel chair halfway from the
desk, and was directly facing the hard-faced captain, who had taken off
his heavy cap, showing his bald and polished dome of thought that glowed
red under the light of the big, swinging, brass lamp. The shuttered
window was closed against the dim daylight outside. This was a secret
conclave and with good reason. Upon the table at Mr. Reynold's elbow the
black satchel was opened. Its contents at first glance were not
startling. But wait!



CHAPTER XV

THE LAWYER AND THE PIRATE


The contrast between the two men as they sat facing each other was
really dramatic; the rough hewn captain, in his countrified garb, and
the city man correct in dress and quiet in manner; but as to which was
the most dangerous villain it would be hard to decide off hand.

Mr. William Howard Reynolds was primarily a lawyer, but he was likewise
agent and adviser for several organizations whose aims were not high but
very direct. He had been of aid to Captain Broome several times before,
had smoothed over several unfortunate affairs with the local authorities
on behalf of his client and had been liberally rewarded for so doing.
Where finesse and criminal adroitness were concerned he was of the
greatest use to the captain of the _Sea Eagle_.

It was doubtful if he had ever been engaged in a more nefarious scheme
than he had in hand upon this particular occasion. As he sits facing the
captain with the light slanting across his face let us take a square
look at this man, so that we shall be able to recognize him if we
should chance to meet him again.

As has been said he was well attired, and with his light weight overcoat
off, he is seen to be dressed in a dark cut-a-way coat with a white vest
according to the custom of that remote time. He wore upon the forefinger
of his left hand a peculiar serpent ring, whose ruby eyes seemed really
to glow in the light. He used this ring finger on occasion to drive home
a convincing argument.

His own dark, close set eyes always followed the line of this gesture
with telling effect. It was these eyes together with a cruel mouth, at
one corner of which lurked a treacherous sneer, that showed the true
character of the individual, for aside from these two features his face
was not an unpleasant one. The forehead was high and well developed, the
chin square and masculine. The wiry, but carefully brushed hair was
already becoming gray around the temples. So much for Mr. William H.
Reynolds, so far as his mental and physical photograph goes.

"Well, Captain Broome," he said, leaning forward with the weight of his
hands upon the arms of the chair, "what is your scheme in this
business?"

"I haven't any, Mr. Reynolds," replied the captain mildly; "you know
that I am a plain man, just a simple, seafaring old codger and am
greatly afeared of being shanghaied ashore by some of the villains that
reside there."

The lawyer threw back his head and laughed harshly.

"I've noticed that it is the plain, farmer looking chap, that's the
deepest often," he said, "but I know that you didn't invite me out to
your yacht for afternoon tea. Let's get down to business."

"As I said, I ain't got a scheme, but I'll give you the facts and let
you hatch the scheme." There was an unconscious contempt in the
captain's voice, which the keen lawyer was quick to recognize, but did
not care to resent. His client was too valuable to risk a breach with,
so he merely tightened his jaws, and waited for the captain to begin.

At this juncture in the interview the captain got up quickly from the
locker on which he had been seated. The motion was so sudden and
menacing that the lawyer plunged his hand into the black bag on the
table. Broome, if he noticed this action, gave no sign but crouched
noiselessly to the door, opened it suddenly and rushed out upon the
deck.

There was the sound of a low growl as of an uncaged animal, then a
scuffling sound followed by a thud. In a moment the old pirate returned
to his cabin, shut the door, and sat down as if nothing had happened, as
indeed was the fact according to his idea of things. Meanwhile Cales,
the sailor, who chanced to be cleaning the deck not far from the
captain's cabin, picked himself up from the scuppers, whence he had been
flung by Broome. He was bleeding and dazed, but not so dazed but what he
could heap maledictions upon the head of his superior officer. Even in
his wrath, however, he did not dare to speak above a hoarse whisper. The
lawyer surmised what had happened but he made no comment as his genial
client sat himself down again upon the sea chest.

"These are the facts, Mr. Reynolds, and I'll be brief because it is my
nature." The captain leaned forward heavily on his knees, and spoke in
harsh confidence to his attorney, or rather agent, who listened
intently, but with an inscrutable face. "There's a rich Mexican with a
Spanish name, Señor da Cordova, over in the city right now and he has
been trying to make a dicker with me to get hold of my yacht. He's
interested in helping those Cuban niggers who are fighting the
Spaniards and he thinks this yere boat might come in handy in the
business, and she would, too; there's nothing faster sailing these
waters anyhow."

"He's coming a long ways around to get his cruiser," remarked the lawyer
coolly.

"The other side is watched, and it ain't easy to pick up the right kind
of craft anyway, without payin' a ransom, and this old Dick wants to
drive a hard bargain, says it is a good cause and all that, but I ain't
got no interest in those Cuban niggers."

"I follow you," said the lawyer, "but that isn't what you wanted me to
help with."

He knew his client thoroughly.

"You're right it ain't," replied the captain with emphasis; "I made the
contract to carry the shooting irons and we are loaded ready to sail,
but the Señor's got a gal."

The lawyer looked keenly at his client.

"It's a case of kidnaping, then," remarked the lawyer with as much
unconcern as if referring to an attack of measles.

"Yer have the right idea, Mr. Reynold's," said the candid mariner; "the
gal's daddy sets a heap of store by her, and he'll pay something
handsome to git her back, more than he would for this steam yacht of
mine, twice over."

"Tell me how the land lies, Captain, then I'll give you my terms."

Captain Broome speaking in a low, growling voice, gave him the necessary
details, and then with his bushy eyebrows knitted together he watched
the other man with grim intentness. Mr. William H. Reynolds sat for some
time with his head thrown back and half-closed eyes, gazing upward at
the ceiling, and then he began to whistle softly with a slight hissing
sound.

"It's the devil in him getting up steam," mused Broome; "he sees his way
through all right."

Indeed he did, but he did not inform his valued client that he was well
acquainted with the agent of the Cuban insurgents, who had come West to
meet the Señor da Cordova, for he had no intention of belittling the
difficulty of the task assigned him.

"How much?" inquired Captain Broome, in a noncommittal voice. These two
wasted no time on formalities, they had been in too many transactions
for that. By way of reply, the lawyer held up five fingers. Immediately
the Yankee master put up three and a half by doubling his little finger,
but the attorney remained firm.

"You'll get ten thousand out of this, you old reprobate," he said
frankly, "and I take the risk. Take it or leave it, I've got some other
matters to attend to immediately."

The captain grunted, he hated to pay, especially without a long
bargaining, but he knew his friend well enough to realize that it was a
waste of valuable time, and that one might just as well try to bargain
with a graven image. Slowly he drew out a leather pouch from his
capacious pants' pocket and opening it placed--How many twenty dollar
gold pieces, Reader, to make five hundred dollars? Well, Tom, what is
it? "Fifteen." You Johnny? "Twenty-five." Quite right.

They made a brave sight piled up in the light upon the table, but they
did not stay in evidence very long for after noting each one carefully,
he put it in the black bag, until they were all properly shepherded.

"Would you like to have this business finished to-day, Captain?"
inquired the lawyer.

"You're right, I would," said Broome with emphasis.

"Make it a thousand, and I'll guarantee to do it," replied the lawyer.
The captain's jaw fell.

"It is worth it, for the risk is double," returned the lawyer.

"I haven't anything like it with me," declared the captain. "I'm no gold
mine."

"Give me your note then," said Reynolds, "payable in fifteen days."

"I tell you what I will do, Mr. Reynolds, I'll make it for three
hundred; and more I can't do."

"Agreed," said the lawyer.

"Have a drink on it," urged the captain, hospitably, and feeling fairly
well satisfied with his bargain.

"No time for that," replied the lawyer abruptly; "you'll be at the
castle not later than ten and I'll make my part of the contract good.
Tell those niggers of yours to dig in and row some going back."

The captain evidently gave them sound instructions, because they made
record time, cutting through the fog at a slashing gait.



CHAPTER XVI

AN ODD RESTAURANT


Let us now return to our friends, Captain James Darlington and Chief
Engineer John Berwick, of the good yacht, _Sea Eagle_, the latter now in
the bad hands of Pirate William Broome. We left them crouching in the
fog outside the car restaurant on the beach. Two men had come out into
the fog. The first a big sailor as was evident by his gait, as well as
his costume, and the man who followed in his wake was of a slinking
type, and may have been a beachcomber. Jim could not make up his mind
whether these two were members of the pirate crowd or not.

The two friends watched them until they merged into the darkness and
fog, going towards the water and not in the direction of the castle. For
one moment Jim got the idea that the smaller man meant mischief towards
the big sailor, but he did not attempt to follow the pair for there was
other fish for them to fry that night. After a minute's wait the
engineer made a move as if to go towards the door of the queer little
restaurant, but his comrade laid a restraining hand on his arm. Jim had
learned due caution from his past experience with the Indians and
treacherous border men, and for all he knew these two men might return
after a short time, and make trouble for them. Ten minutes passed in
perfect silence though the engineer began to feel extremely restive from
hunger. Finally Jim rose to his feet.

"I reckon we will board this car, Pardner," he determined, "if you
happen to have the fare."

"They've got the fare inside there," replied the engineer sententiously,
"that I want."

Jim laughed, and then taking another look through the window to assure
himself that no one else was inside, he opened the door and followed by
his friend went in. It was a quaint looking place, lighted by a big
ship's lamp in the center of the ceiling, that shed warmth as well as
light. It had been a really large and spacious car, and there was plenty
of room for the long, clean lunch counter, which was adorned with
several clusters of condiments, salt and pepper shakers, and a heavy
china sugar bowl. These surrounded a tall red ketchup bottle and a black
sauce bottle.

There were likewise two small tables with several stools around them. At
the far end of the car on either side of the heavily curtained portion,
were two stained glass windows, one blue, and the other red. Both had
the same design, that of a knight in full armor on a prancing horse, and
a long lance at half cock, as it were.

"Vell, poys, vat you vant, eh?" questioned the short, fat German, in his
white cap and apron, from behind the lunch counter. It was clear that he
was not favorably impressed with these new customers, who were muddy,
wet and bedraggled, from their long chase of the afternoon and evening.
But do not make a mistake; it was not their character, which Fritz
Scheff viewed askance; they might be cutthroats and villains of the
deepest dye, and it would not worry him any in the least. But could they
pay? that was the question.

John Berwick grasped the situation with sufficient clearness.

"What do we want, Old Sport?" he replied, airily; "everything you've got
on the bill of fare. Here's a bill for a beginner." And the engineer
threw a five dollar currency certificate on the clean wood counter.

The German's little, black eyes opened as wide as was possible, which
was not saying much; he was not used to such lavishness on the part of
customers. However, he was cautious, for such was his nature. He held up
the bill to the light and then gave it a slight tug. This nettled Jim,
who did not sympathize with his friend's extravagance at times.

"Donner and Blitzen mein freund," roared Jim, who used such language as
came to his hand; "you old counterfeit. Get busy, we're hungry. And,
another thing, you can stow that bill my friend gave you, but you've got
to give him back what's coming to him."

"Which will be mighty little," said Berwick humorously, "because my
appetite is growing some."

The proprietor's big red neck grew choleric under Jim's remark, but by a
quick transformation he swallowed his wrath, and became a smiling and
complacent host.

"Anydings you vants shentlemen is yours. Just give me de order."

He handed each of them a rather soiled menu in a frame and the two gaunt
travelers regarded the list with a moment's deep interest.

"A Hamburg steak to start with," said the engineer, "and three fried
eggs on the side not to mention some black coffee and hashed brown
potatoes."

"The same here, friend," remarked Jim, "only put me down for two eggs."

"Bless me! what a delicate appetite, James!" exclaimed Berwick.

"I'm looking to something else, John!" replied Jim.

"Wise lad," remarked the engineer, "but do you know, as I can't have my
dress suit on this auspicious occasion--"

"You mean suspicious," cut in Jim with a grin.

"Never mind that now," continued the engineer; "what I was going to say
was that a plain--"

"High neck," interrupted Jim.

"Any old neck wash would be truly acceptable," concluded the engineer.

The proprietor heard and heeded.

"Eh, Anna, come here," he cried in stentorian German. There was a gentle
shuffling sound and a creaking of a board from the direction of the
other car or room and a large figure appeared in the curtained doorway.

"What is it you want, my Fritz?" questioned the placid and housewifely
Anna, taking in the newcomers with a quiet gaze.

"The shentlemen of honorable wealth, Frau Scheff, would like to wash
their esteemed countenances," he explained with ironical deference.

"Ach! that is good," said Mrs. Scheff with a fat good-natured smile;
"trouble yourselves to come with me."

"By the time you shentlemans are washed and improved, the supper will be
ready," said the proprietor.

The engineer was greatly amused by this stout German couple and showed
it by a slight smile, but Jim who always had a native respect for decent
and kindly people no matter who they were, had no intention of joining
his friend in any humorous byplay in regard to the stout house frau.

She led them through the short passageway into the other room. One end
was curtained off for the bedroom, with snowy white curtains tied back
with pink ribbons.

Everything about the two little rooms was marvelously clean and neat.
There was a big round globe lamp on a black oak table, ornamented with
the quaint carvings of the Fatherland, on the standard. Nearby was a
capacious rocking chair where the good frau had been sitting, and her
knitting was on the table. On a cushion in front of the chair was a huge
gray striped cat, comfortably curled and sound asleep. Jim who loved
all animals could not resist stroking it and then gave its ears a twitch
which made his catship raise his big head and open his mouth in that
silent feline protest, which is so amusing.

"Ah, the Kaiser Fritz is a very spoiled cat. Is it not so liebchen?" and
she lifted him bodily from his comfortable cushion. But the Kaiser was
decidedly peeved by all this attention and showed it very plainly.

"Ach! you are a tiger! a French tiger! you deserve not the good name of
Fritz!" and with a temper as quick as her kindness, she threw him into
the chair.

"The Kaiser Fritz is a fine animal, Frau Scheff," said Jim pleasantly;
"I should like to own him."

"He eats as much as two kinder," said the frau with a sigh, "and he is
not so grateful. Now you two gentlemen make yourselves welcome. Here are
plenty towels."

Jim and the engineer thanked her, the former briefly, the latter with a
pleasing grace that he could use when he so wished. But it was to be
noted that while she surveyed John Berwick with a careful and
noncommittal eye, she regarded Jim with a simple kindness that fairly
beamed, which is not insinuating that the chief engineer of the _Sea
Eagle_ was a rascal but that he did not have the straightforward
sincerity characteristic of Jim.

There were indeed towels enough hanging on the rack by the washstand,
which with its drapings of white and blue was so dainty, that Jim
regarded it as much too fine for mere washing.

"Look at this blue and white china washbowl and pitcher, Jim," remarked
Berwick in a casual tone. "It is really beautiful. It is made in a town,
in southern Germany, where I once spent a couple of months."

"Seems to me you have been everywhere on this created earth, John, and
say," continued Jim, "see that mountain of a feather bed covered with
the snow of the coverlet. You know that they make those in southern
France where once I spent some months." The chief engineer grinned.



CHAPTER XVII

THE GOOD FRAU


After a thorough wash, the two compatriots felt very much refreshed, and
looked less like street urchins or sea urchins, and more like
themselves. Only one thing troubled the chief engineer, as he rubbed his
hand reflectively over his chin and face.

"I would feel quite respectable now if I only had a clean shave. You
know for a fact, Jim, that I can think much more clearly when my face is
smooth. But that is something which you don't have to bother about, Jim,
no reflection on your years, my lad," he concluded, with a smile.

"Better not be," replied Jim gruffly, coloring up, for be it known that
James was sensitive on the point of being young. Funny thing, boy
nature, anyway. John Berwick opened his eyes at Jim's tone, and then a
quizzical look came into his face. There was no denying that Berwick had
at times a vicious temper, but he was always good-natured where Jim was
concerned, and never resented the latter's occasional flare of temper,
which was greatly to his credit.

"You'll feel all right, Captain," he said gravely, "when you get your
emptiness lined with beefsteak."

"I'm a chump to flare up for nothing, Chief," deplored Jim; "next time I
do it give me a swift push into the alley." The engineer only shook his
head good-humoredly, while he was giving his brown mustache a final
twist before the glass; Jim was looking with interest at a photograph of
a lad upon the wall. A well set up boy, with a grave, straightforward
look.

"That is my Fritz," said a voice behind him. It was Frau Scheff. "He
has been away from home now two years. His father was very strict with
him and he love the sea, so he go away from home in some ship. He would
be about your age, my lad, but not so tall. Perhaps some time you see
him, and tell him, please, his mother break her heart to see him." Her
voice trembled, and for a moment she pressed her hands against her eyes.
Jim had a deep-seated aversion to any show of emotion, but this simple
yearning in a mother's voice affected him deeply. His eyes filled with
moisture for a moment.

"I promise you to keep your son in mind, Frau Scheff," he said in a
quiet voice, "and it may not be at all impossible that I should some
day meet him. Was there any certain mark by which I might recognize
him?"

"Fritz had a scar about an inch long over his left eye, which he got
when he was a little fellow," said the mother, "but ach! why do I make
you to feel sorry with my troubles. Come! by this time my husband has
your supper done." She regarded Jim with a benevolent smile and led the
way through the narrow passage into the little restaurant. The savory
smell of cooking greeted the hungry outcasts as they entered the car
restaurant.

"Shentlemans, your repast is served." He waved his hand towards one of
the little tables, which had on it a spotless white tablecloth, and the
necessary implements for attacking the grub.

"Ah! it looks very good, Herr Scheff," said John Berwick, who could be
very gracious when he wished. "Your name should be chef; you deserve it,
my friend."

The German made a short bow and his round face crinkled into a smile.

"It is enough that you are pleased, honorable sir," he said.

"Ach, Fritz!" exclaimed his wife, "why do you give these friends of
ourselves such knives and forks? I will get some of our own."

"Now don't you bother, Mrs. Scheff," said Jim; "these will do all right
for us."

"Ach! no! no!" she exclaimed, shaking her head; "they will not do. The
sailors bite the forks as though they eat them. I go get our own."

And she did. They were of heavy silver, with a quaint monogram on the
handles of the forks. No doubt heirlooms of several generations back.
Without more ado the two friends began with hearty appetites on the two
portions of steaks, the delicately browned potatoes, and the eggs.
Everything had a delicious taste, for, aside from their hunger, the meal
was excellently cooked.

"I will make the coffee, Fritz," said his wife, "and how would you like
some German pancake?"

"We would like nothing better," agreed the engineer.

"I'm good for any kind of a pancake," said Jim heartily, and he was not
exaggerating, either.

How good that coffee did smell, and it tasted equal to its aroma. As for
the big, flat, German pancakes, with their coating of powdered sugar and
side dishes of apple sauce, pleasantly tart with sliced lemon,--well,
Jim always had the tantalizing memory of them when in other days he was
furiously hungry, which latter he was destined to be on more than one
occasion. Jim, nevertheless, had not forgotten the business in hand,
even while eating.

"Herr Scheff, could you tell me about the people who live in the castle
upon the bluff above you?" he questioned.

A cold shadow came over the German's round face. It was evident that at
heart he was anything but a genial man given to much talk.

"I do not make my head ache about what I don't know," he replied; "my
business is to cook for whoever pays me. That's all I say."

"Oh! I see!" exclaimed Jim, somewhat taken aback. He noticed that Frau
Scheff seemed somewhat uneasy, but nevertheless she made no effort to
speak.

"Herr Scheff, how about that man with the gray suit, for whom you got a
lunch to-day, shortly after noon?" asked John Berwick.

For a moment the German's face took on a decided pallor, and then his
expression took on a blank, noncommittal look. There was no getting
behind that stolid wall. He shook his head heavily.

"I know nothing about that; maype you are a reporter, eh?"

John Berwick laughed heartily.

"You do me too much honor, Herr Scheff," he said; "I have not the gifts
of imagination or the requisite nerve for such a profession."

"Ach! but Fritz--" his wife began, but she stopped with a sigh at the
malevolent look her husband shot at her.

Not willing to make trouble for the kind-hearted German woman, Jim and
his friend refrained from making any further inquiries. In the course of
time they finished their meal, and prepared to leave, feeling like new
men and fully ready physically for anything that might be in store for
them. The proprietor had regained his surface good humor, and seemed
anxious to make the two strangers forget his abruptness.

As for his wife, she was her usual warm-hearted self, and there were
tears in her eyes when she said good-by to Jim. "Don't forget my little
Fritz," she urged, and Jim promised, and this seemed to give her much
comfort.

The two comrades then left the warm shelter of the curious little
restaurant. Outside it was misting heavily, but little did they mind it,
as they were warm and dry and well-fed. Indeed, they were now doubly
anxious to make an end of their strange adventure.

"Herr Scheff was a very uncommunicative old bird," remarked Jim, dryly,
as they trudged over the wet, heavy sand towards the cliffs.

"Just what was to be expected," replied John Berwick; "you might just as
well try to get water out of the Sahara as information out of Herr
Fritz. He would give the devil a meal as quick as he would a parson and
ask no questions for conscience' sake. You would never find out that he
had ever entertained either. That's business with that class, you know."

"Business be hanged, then!" exclaimed Jim hotly. "I bet anything that
the poor man we found murdered in the gulch up here did get a meal from
him."

"Certainly," replied the engineer coolly; "and what's more, he knows a
whole lot about the gang that infests that castle on the cliff."

"Well, the old clam can keep his information," remarked Jim. "I propose
to find out for myself what these rascals are up to. That's the only
way."

"You are right there, Jim," replied Berwick.

"We want to go a little careful now," remarked Jim, as they came to the
mouth of Dead Man's Gulch.

Noiselessly the two comrades climbed up the dark cleft, over the
slippery rocks, until Jim came to a halt.

"That man isn't here now, John," he said in a low voice.

"They've sneaked him off while we were below," remarked the engineer.
"It behooves us to be on the lookout."

Somehow, the disappearance of the body of the dead man seemed to give a
sense of danger that was everywhere present in the darkness, as if their
enemies, though elusive, were near at hand.

"Well, here we are," exclaimed Jim, with a breath of satisfaction, as
they reached the tall fence surrounding the castle on the bluff.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE RECONNOITER


"It seems to me that we are only where we were before," said the chief
engineer, in a low voice.

"We won't be there much longer," remarked Jim, with determination;
"follow your leader, and look out for the dog; he bites."

This time James Darlington took a new tack, crawling along in the
opposite direction from the big gate and keeping well hidden. Followed
by John Berwick, he went cautiously along for a distance of a hundred
yards, and then Jim halted, and with very good reason, for he had come
to the edge of the cliff, but not exactly to the end of the fence.

There was an iron obstruction in the way, that barred them from getting
further. It was a fan-like spread of sharp iron spikes, such as you
sometimes see in these days, separating the roofs of adjoining tenements
on the Island of Manhattan. It appeared an impassable obstacle and
indeed it was, as the powerful Jim and the agile engineer had to admit
after a careful investigation.

"No use impaling ourselves on that thing," said Berwick. "It's pretty
clear that the folks in there don't wish to be disturbed."

"More reason for disturbing 'em," asserted Jim briefly. "That Mexican is
inside and has my valued possessions. I intend to get them back."

"I admit the logic, go ahead."

It might have been possible for Jim to have scaled the high fence with
its pointed iron spikes, but it was not practicable for the shorter John
Berwick.

For a little while Jim sat on the ground thinking, trying to find some
way out of the difficulty.

"If we only had a rope," remarked the engineer; "we could make it."

"Yes," replied Jim, "and then use it to hang the greaser with. That is
what I call a beautiful thought."

"We haven't enough clothes to spare, to tear up, either," put in
Berwick.

"You are right, John," remarked Jim. "It is a little bit too damp and
foggy for that."

Jim began pacing up and down for a few minutes, then he reached some
decision.

"You stay here, John, for a few minutes," he said.

"I hate to stay alone here in the dark," remarked Berwick humorously.

Jim grinned, then he strode away along the cliff, and quickly
disappeared in the darkness. Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed, and then
he appeared unexpectedly in front of the engineer.

"Hello, what have you got there?" inquired Berwick; "looks to me like
you were going to start a garden."

"I found these vines growing over some rocks back there," Jim explained;
"as we haven't any rope they are next best."

"Good boy! I would never have thought of that," said Berwick.

"We have used it before," said Jim; "when we were on the frontier."

"But will it hold?" remarked the engineer. "I'm no heavy weight, but I
am not a fairy either."

"Wind 'em together and they will do," replied Jim.

In a short time, he had got one end of the improvised rope over one of
the iron spikes, then he criss-crossed them and got the other end over
the next spike, making a very respectable ladder.

"You first, John," ordered Jim.

"All right, me lad, and if those hounds in the yard nab me, you must do
something to distract their attention."

"I'll attend to them," replied Jim confidently.

"Here goes, then," said the engineer, and with the liveliness of a cat
he was up and over, and Jim followed.

"Now," exclaimed the engineer, "we are in for it. What is our next
move?"

"Take in this rope," replied Jim practically; "maybe we can use it in
our business."

His friend patted James on the back to show his appreciation. Then they
together got most of the vine down, and Jim made a neat coil of it. Then
before they went on they waited, listening for any sound that might
indicate life of any kind about the castle, but it was absolutely dark
and silent.

In all probability the dogs were somewhere about, or at least one of
them would surely be on guard. Jim knew that the first thing to do was
to locate these hounds, for if they were to get on their trail the game
would be up, aside from the danger of being attacked by these ferocious
beasts, who were in reality as strong as a mountain lion and much more
courageous.

First they must find some sort of shelter. The enclosed yard was a
large one, including about eight acres, with trees and shrubs set here
and there and a fountain in the center of the driveway. This latter they
would hardly use, unless they needed a bath. Where the two comrades had
got over the fence was on the north side of the house, and about one
hundred and fifty yards distant.

At half the distance to the house was a clump of bushes in the center of
which rose a tall tree. Back of the castle a short space was a stable
built of brick. At first Jim thought of making it his base of retreat
and observation but gave it up for the present as he was fearful that
one of the dogs might be there or chained near it. As a matter of fact,
one of the big hounds was lying with his nose to the ground not far from
the double door of the stable. It may as well be stated that this
building was at the foot of a sharp slope below the castle and its back
wall was built on a line with the bluff.

"Come on, John," said Jim finally; "we will make for that clump of
bushes with the tree in the center."

"Aye, aye, sir!" replied the engineer softly.

Jim threw himself on the ground and began to crawl imperceptibly towards
the bushes and the engineer followed in as close an imitation of his
leader as possible, and about six feet behind him. The grass was four or
five inches high and they looked to be only a couple of inconspicuous
and inoffensive logs. Jim did not make the mistake of cranching swiftly
through the darkness, for motion was the one thing that would attract
the attention of even an unwary eye. So much James had learned from his
old-time enemies, the crafty and patient Indians.

Once they got a bad scare when they had worked along for half the
distance undertaken. Jim and his comrade became aware of the hulking
yellow form of one of the huge hounds, as he stalked into the open about
fifty yards from where they lay in the short grass. Luckily what little
wind there was blew from the southwest, so that it could not aid to
betray them.

The beast evidently did not have them in mind, and was unsuspicious of
their nearness, as he was looking in the direction of the big gate, but
only a short turn about the grounds and he would pick up their trail and
then the two comrades might as well resign from their present position
and retire over the fence if possible. It would seem as if he were
looking for someone to come from the direction of the road. Then to the
relief of Jim and the engineer the hound hulked heavily towards the
gate.

When he reached it he placed his fore feet high upon a cross bar and
gazed through, evidently on the lookout in a friendly, not an inimical
way. Then he turned and loping near to the house disappeared in the
direction of the stable, and this gave Jim and the engineer their chance
to reach the coveted clump of bushes.

"He is surely looking for someone," said the engineer, as they
straightened up in their shelter of overhanging leaves.

"Lucky he wasn't hunting for us," remarked Jim. "It would have been all
off if he had."

"Or we would be off," put in the engineer frankly.

"Come on, John; let's crawl through this clump and see what is on the
other side," ordered Jim.

"Lead on, MacDuff," assented Berwick.

"My name is plain Duff, I'll have ye to know," replied Jim, catching his
friend playfully by the throat.

For some reason they both felt a thrill of high spirits go through them
and it showed in their speech and actions. If Jim had stopped to
consider he would have remembered that high spirits at a time like this
always indicated some unusual peril ahead. It had been so on many
previous occasions and this peculiar thrill of every fiber was the
distillation of the very wine of danger. They had reached the middle of
the clump of bushes; Jim leading, when our friend received the shock of
his young life, and it startled him through and through.



CHAPTER XIX

THE CASTLE


Jim's hand as he had crawled forward, clutched the foot of a man who was
in hiding in this selfsame clump of bushes. James acted instantly,
realizing instinctively the danger, the extreme danger of the situation.
He leaped forward for the man's throat and to his utter surprise the
body lay perfectly limp.

"Great Heavens!" he exclaimed, "this man is dead."

"It's the poor fellow from the gully, below," said the engineer, after
an examination; "there's no mistaking him."

"But how did he get here?" questioned Jim, with suppressed excitement
and alarm.

"That's simple," replied his friend. "These bandits who live here,
brought the body up at the first convenient chance and left it here for
the time being, but they may come for it any time so we had better be on
the lookout for trouble.

"We don't have to; it is always on the lookout for us," replied Jim
briefly and with truth.

"There's someone directly ahead," remarked the engineer, "or I miss my
guess."

"Just wait a minute, Chief," said Jim; "I want to size up this castle
before making the next move."

"You don't observe any anxiety on my part to go anywhere do you,
Captain?" questioned Berwick.

"Quiet as a kitten," replied Jim with a grin, and then without any
further remarks, he crawled past the form of the unfortunate man, until
he reached the edge of the copse, and gathering a low bush around his
shoulders so that he appeared to be a part of the natural scenery
himself, he observed the castle closely with the eye of a trained scout.

The fog was rifted by the wind so that he could see with sufficient
clearness the outlines and details of the high brick castle. As has been
said, they were on the north side, where there was the large stained
glass window that lit the grand staircase, and now shone with a faint
radiance.

There was also a line of broad mullioned windows, their round, thick
glass in circles of lead, gleaming like opals when the full light was
within, but now cold and ghostly in the dimness of the fog-laden night.
These windows were some twenty feet from the ground, and Jim's keen eyes
regarded them with special interest. Further along and somewhat lower
were the smaller windows, evidently of the kitchen, and near the ground
several more heavily barred.

After a few minutes of observation, Jim returned to his companion, his
mind fully made up.

"Well, James, what do you make of it?" queried his friend.

"I'll make more of it a little later," replied Jim; "I'm going to move
on the enemy, right away."

"Very well, I'm ready," remarked the engineer. "When you can't go back
with safety or stand still it is a good scheme to go forward."

"But I want you to wait here, John," explained Jim; "there's much less
chance with two than one. In case I need you I'll yell."

"If you don't happen to be gagged," replied his friend cheerfully.

"Never you fear about that," returned Jim confidently; "there's none of
that gang that is going to get me so quick but that there will be
something doing on my part first."

"Nothing surer than that," replied the engineer heartily. "Luck to you,
Jim," gripping his hand, "and I'll be in reserve here when you want
me."

"Good old Chief," said Jim, returning his friend's grip; "now I'm off."

Without any further words Jim crawled to the edge of the thicket,
leaving John Berwick in the grewsome company of the dead man, but
Berwick took up a position where he could see the tall, shadowy figure
of James Darlington as he advanced straight toward the stronghold of
this gang of unmerciful pirates.

"That boy has them all beaten when it comes to unqualified nerve,"
muttered the engineer to himself; "the best fellow in an emergency I
ever saw, and that's something."

James would have felt proud to have heard his friend's eulogy, but his
mind was fully taken up with the problem he was facing. He must get into
that house without delay; to stand long where he was meant sure
detection in a short time. If he had only possessed his revolver, he
would have felt more comfortable.

"Have to get or borrow a gun from one of those chaps inside there," he
mused with shrewd humor.

He was now directly below the long mullioned window, but as he was not a
little birdie with wings, he could not fly, and had to climb.

"Here's luck," he said; "this vine is bigger than I thought it could
be. Takes California to grow a vine like a tree and that's a fact."

Indeed, the vine that spread its dark green splendor over the whole
north side of the great structure and wrapped itself around the giant
chimney had a stem that was more like the trunk of a small tree and very
tough and fibrous. Jim did not hesitate, but quickly removed his shoes,
and with both free hands, noiselessly climbed up towards the window,
sustaining his weight partially on the rough jutting bricks until he
finally reached in safety the broad sill of the mullioned window.

"So far so good," he murmured, "now to get inside."

Very slowly and cautiously he pushed on the lower part of the center
window and it gave easily enough, the gang in foolhardy security never
dreaming that an enemy would dare approach their stronghold, much less
come into their very castle. Indeed, their confidence was in some
measure justified, for their head and chief, old Captain Broome, was
very powerful through this section, had strong friends among the
officials in the city and was safe from being bothered by the
authorities. As for private enemies, he could very well take care of
them himself.

So without any trouble at this point Jim slipped through the window and
was within the castle of his bitterest enemy. He let himself down from
the window, to a settee, and thence to the floor. By the dim light from
the windows he saw that he was in a long, rectangular-shaped room,
evidently lined with bookcases, and in the dimness at one end loomed the
outline of a huge fireplace. For the moment Jim felt a thrill of
excitement go through him. There was something in the fact that he was
alone and unarmed in the house of his foes, quite enough to give him
this sensation.

Suppose that you were standing in the darkness in a cage where some
lions were stretched out asleep but liable to awake at any moment, you
might be excused if you had a few shivery thrills, and so it was with
Jim.

It was evident that this room was not in general use and our adventurer
could not have chosen a better place to land as it were.

He stopped only long enough for his eyes to become accustomed to the
lack of light and then he made sure that there was nothing in the room
that would serve him for a weapon.

"Might take a dictionary and throw some of the hard words at 'em," he
remarked with his usual humorous twist of imagination when in a tight
place.

Then he cautiously opened a door which led into a long, wide corridor
that was decidedly dark, except at the further end, where shone a faint
light. Keeping close to the wall, he went softly along until he came to
the main staircase, which surprised Jim with the winding sweep of its
magnificence and the beautiful stained glass window above it. But there
was that in the large hall below that made him draw back.

There was stretched out on an immense rug, the other hound, his nose
between his paws and his watchful, red-rimmed eyes upon the great door
leading from the hall to the out-of-doors. No wonder that the sight of
him made Jim pause and draw back into the darkness of the upper
corridor. One suspicion, and the huge beast would take the staircase in
three leaps, and neither quickness, strength nor prowess could have
saved Jim if once the hound had caught his trail.

"Gosh, I've got to find a weapon somewhere!" Jim mumbled to himself;
"this won't do at all."

By this time his eyes had become thoroughly accustomed to the dim light
and as he turned back he stopped and his heart beat with something
almost akin to fright. Now our friend James Darlington was not
superstitious by nature, but if that dim, silvery white figure was not a
ghost, what in Sam Hill could it be?

It stood perfectly quiet to one side and about half way down the hall,
evidently looking straight at Jim, but making no move to attack him.
What was Jim to do? He could not retreat down the staircase to the main
door, for that was to fall into the jaws of the hound. Neither could he
reach the library in safety.



CHAPTER XX

THE BANQUET HALL


Then Jim looked up at the wall which was paneled in some light wood and
there his eyes saw something that gave him the clue. He straightened up
and moved quickly towards the ghostly figure.

"How are you, Brian de Bois Guilbert?" he said as he came up. "I should
like to borrow your suit of armor if you don't mind."

The audacity of James. It was a gigantic suit of armor, and for the
moment Jim thought of trying to get into it, but he gave it up. Perhaps
as a last resort he might use it, to strike terror into the
superstitious greasers and cutthroats who were making their foul nest in
this once beautiful home.

It would be perfectly useless for him to try and put it on in the hall,
for it would make clangor enough to arouse the deaf or the dead. So Jim
very gently wheedled the image of the late Sir Brian inch by inch
towards the library and finally got it inside. Luckily there was only a
few feet to go, but it took Jim the better half of an hour. This
incident of the armor goes to show how carefully Jim was looking to a
possible chance in the future. Our old college chum, Jim, was certainly
strong on strategy.

"Now, you stay here, Brian, old Boy," he said, "until I come back; if
you don't I'll Ivanhoe your old block for you."

Then Jim slipped out in the passageway once more, and went immediately
to the place in the hall from whence he had sighted the armor man. There
on the wall were medieval weapons--battle-axes, swords and poniards.
These were what had given Jim his clue as to what the ghostly figure
really represented.

"I reckon that I will have to appropriate some of this hardware, before
I explore any further."

He finally selected a small and exceedingly keen poniard, also a short,
heavy sword, and thus equipped he was ready for what might come, which
as he well knew was apt to be the unexpected. As he stood motionless in
the dark hall, with its dimmed radiance at one end, he was sure that he
heard the faint sound of voices, which is not saying that the voices
were faint by any means.

As he went cautiously along, the sound of the voices came no nearer, but
they did not grow less distinct. This puzzled Jim exceedingly.

"I'd give my hat to be able to locate this serenade," he remarked to
himself; "it sounds most peculiar."

James went slowly along, feeling the wall as he went, and all at once
his fingers came to a slight break in the smooth wood, and the voices
became slightly clearer and Jim was positive that he heard the thrum,
thrum of a guitar. He ran his fingers up and down near the minute break,
until they touched a small wooden button. He hesitated a moment before
pressing it, not knowing what might happen nor what might possibly be on
the other side.

"Nothing venture, nothing have," he said, and standing to one side he
pressed the button and the door came quietly back.

"Well-oiled piece of machinery that," thought Jim; "I wonder who uses
this stage entrance anyhow."

Then there came distinctly and clear the voices of several men singing a
Mexican song and Jim saw several steps leading to a lower level under a
low-arched passageway. He also heard besides the singing the low voices
of men speaking and the occasional moving of a chair. He was soon to
solve this particular mystery.

Moving cautiously along he reached the end of the short passageway and
there he saw that it opened on a balcony that ran across one end of a
high vaulted room, embellished with a beautifully carved ceiling of oak.
As the balcony was quite high up and shut in by big panels of wood about
four feet in height, he could not see the floor below.

Jim dared not raise his head to see who were in the room, which was
evidently intended originally for a banquet hall and not a den of
thieves. However, he was not long in doubt as to what to do, for he
slipped the poniard from its sheath, and began to cut a hole through the
wood in front of him and it did not take him long to have a place large
enough to see perfectly what was going on below. He took one long
earnest look.

"Gosh," he muttered to himself, "what a chance, what a chance; if I only
had my revolver with me, I'd corner that gang in short order." And so he
would.

Now this is what he saw, by the light of a mammoth fireplace filled with
great logs that sent a weird, but beautiful light glowing and then
wavering in shadows across the high arched ceiling. A few feet back from
the wide high fireplace with its roaring flame were four men playing
cards. They sat around a table, and three in appearance were villainous
cutthroats, probably Mexicans by their dark visages, swaggeringly armed
with knives and revolvers, with gaudy handkerchiefs knotted at their
throats.

The firelight showed the flash of their cruel eyes and teeth at some
stroke of fortune in the play, and Jim, who was not unaccustomed to see
and deal with dubious citizens, felt that right below him was the
hardest bunch that ill fortune had ever brought across his path. He was
not forgetting either the Apaches with whom he and his brothers had
enjoyed more than one fracas in the great Southwest.

But what the observer regarded with greatest interest was a group of
three well back in the shadow, and he needed none to tell him who that
short, squat figure was. He held a guitar, and was accompanying his own
songs while the other two joined in the refrain. It was his _bête noir_,
the Mexican dwarf who had recently robbed him, and out-maneuvered him on
two occasions at least.

Strange to say that if you did not see him, and only heard his voice you
would be certain that he was a lithe, Spanish cavalier, of the "oh
Juanita" type of lover, for his tone was neither guttural nor harsh but
smooth and melodious, and to-night for some reason he was inclined to
sentimental songs of the serenade kind, but this reason was soon to
appear.

"Who gets the Señorita Manuel, the one who came in the carriage this
evening, as though to a ball?" queried one of the players at the card
table. The words were spoken at an interval between games.

Jim almost stood up in his sudden enlightenment and wrath but he
bethought himself in time and with whitened knuckles he drove the
poniard held in his hand deep into the wood of the floor. This, in a
mild way served to express his feelings. At the question the dwarf
swaggered into the full light of the fire.

"I, Manuel de Gorzaga, will have the señorita, my voice will charm her,
and my money please her."

Jim could hardly restrain a scornful laugh at the audacity of the dwarf,
but he noticed that though the others regarded him askance they did not
ridicule him, but seemed to have a certain fear of his malignity, and
his cunning craft. Jim saw that he was clean shaven now and that he
moved his head back and forth in front of his hump, like an ugly hooded
bird, and his shadow was distorted on the high vaulted ceiling into
something horrible and of ill omen. To complete the picture, it is
necessary to say that he was dressed in gorgeous fashion in a suit of
slashed velvet, and a resplendent sash around his waist.

There was a marvelous celerity in his every movement, so that he was
like nothing so much as a richly colored spider, that darts from shadow
to pounce upon its victim. Jim vowed that he would not leave the castle
that night until the Señorita da Cordova, if a prisoner, was freed from
the power of this contemptible creature. But he was to find the
adventure which he had planned more difficult than was expected and that
was saying a good deal.

"How about the señorita's nice little nurse, Señor Manuel da Gorzaga?"
questioned one of the card players, with a sneer. "Perchance that person
may have something to say to your pretensions."

The dwarf regarded his questioner with a venomous look and then spat
emphatically on the floor, but he gave no reply except by an expressive
drawing of his fingers across his throat.

"The Duenna's throat is iron," replied the other speaker to this
pantomime; "she guards the captain's treasures like the dragon the
golden apples."

"I, too, am valuable to that old shark of the seas," replied the
Mexican, in most uncomplimentary terms to his master captain, William
Broome. "I know his many secrets, and it was I, Manuel, who got the
treasure from that long-legged, white-headed gringo" (Jim grinned at
this description of himself), "who would make one meal of the brave
captain if it were not for me, who am too wise for his thick head."

"Good for you, Humpty Dumpty," said Jim, under his breath, "you won't
have to hire anybody to blow your trumpet for you. Sorry I can't stay,
old chap, to hear the rest of your interesting and eloquent speech."



CHAPTER XXI

THE APPARITION


Jim now had one purpose in mind when he gracefully withdrew, and closed
the door behind him and stood in the upper hall once more and that was
to find where in the castle the Señorita da Cordova was. James waited
for a minute in the broad hall, not only to get accustomed to the
darkness, but to make sure that there was no one coming, or waiting for
him.

Our friend had not been taught by harsh experience to no purpose. Nor
had he fought the crafty Indian, and failed to learn something of their
strategy. So he closed the door as tenderly as a mother, who fears to
waken her sleeping babe, and then stood as still as stone waiting,
watching, listening. Well it was that he did so. What was that gray
bundle across the hall and lying in front of the door opening into the
library?

At first glance Jim thought that it might be the hound, but it was not
that. It looked more like a shapeless bundle of old clothes. Then under
the directness of his gaze the thing stirred, a head was slowly lifted,
and like the gradual resurrection from the cerements of death a figure
half rose, and a gaze from the gray hood that seemed to burn was fixed
upon him.

Next the figure half raised, moved straight and steadily in his
direction, noiselessly, but with terrible intentness, direct towards
him. Jim did not move. What was the use? It was his purpose to avoid all
disturbance or fracas, which would surely wreck his plan now for the
rescue of the señorita. He would see what this creature meant and he
merely moved his hands lightly, one to grasp, the other to defend a
possible thrust at his heart or throat.

To say that he was cool and unmoved would not be true; his heart thumped
and he could feel the blood beat in his ears, but he was not trembling
or unmanned, though curious chills crept all over his body. This person
had advanced now half the way toward him, moving with the same half bent
posture, and the left hand gripping the gray cloth at the throat,
forming a hood. Then the woman, within three feet of him, raised her
face, and looked at him with the wildest eyes ever set in a human
visage. They were shot with horror, terror and an insane desperation. By
the half light from the end of the hall Jim could not tell whether she
were young or old.

Her face seemed to be lighted by her terrible eyes, and from her robe
one lean hand crept, half curved as though to claw. It seemed as if at
any instant she might scream and clutch him and something must be done
forthwith. Jim returned her gaze soberly, but not defiantly, and there
was no fear in his eyes. For a moment she paused, a curious questioning
showing in her glance.

"I wish to see and speak to a young girl who has been brought to this
place," he said quietly. "I am her friend, and would do neither one of
you any harm. You see many things and you believe me and know that I
speak the truth."

That was a simple speech, but there was more wisdom in it than appears
on the surface. It was spoken directly and was phrased to grip with
confidence the woman's poor broken mind; and notice also, that there was
nothing to unduly excite her by a show of sympathy or to arouse her by
denouncing her oppressors, for she was no doubt another victim who had
been held for a ransom that had not been forthcoming.

She made no direct reply to Jim, but only threw her head back and
laughed noiselessly with wide opened mouth. Then leaving the spot she
glided to the staircase and bent down listening intently. As if
satisfied she returned in a moment and beckoned Jim to follow her, which
he was only too willing to do.

She was a strange guide and might lead him to his destruction, but he
was determined to follow her at all hazards for he must find the
señorita and that quickly. So he kept only a short distance behind the
gray crouching figure.

Going through the main hall they came to a fairly broad staircase,
leading to the third floor, thence along a hall dimly lighted to a
narrow winding stair, that brought the two of them to a round platform
of stone with rooms on three sides. This place was badly lit by a tallow
candle, held by a miner's holder, stuck into the wall.

The woman crouched in front of one of the doors, with a wicket in it,
whence Jim heard a low voice repeating something over and over, and the
sound of it thrilled him for he recognized it as the voice of the
Señorita Cordova, praying softly for deliverance. It pierced through
Jim's heart, the pity and the pathos of it, and for a moment his eyes
were blinded with tears. The next moment he was himself again, as he
well needs be. He pushed gently aside the grating covering the aperture
in the door itself, so that he was able to see in. It did not require
much of a slit for that purpose, and he was able to get a good look at
the interior, which was like a cell, with low arched, white-washed
ceiling.

It was not a forbidding room either, for at one end was a latticed
window with diamond panes, and in the ivy that grew outside it you might
imagine the little birds twittering in the summer time. The floor was
covered with a heavy rug and a candelabra of a dozen candles gave a
pleasant light. The room or cell was heated by coals glowing in an
old-fashioned brazier.

Although there were two persons visible, what fastened Jim's eyes was
the figure of the Señorita da Cordova. She was kneeling before a _prie
dieu_ near the casemented window, in evening dress such as she wore when
she got into the carriage. She had supposed that she was going to be
taken to her father, and instead had been brought to this desperate
castle. Her dress of white was ornamented with lace, and there was a
bracelet of odd antique design on her rounded arm that made Jim gasp.

He knew where she had got that. It was his present to her, one of the
many treasures that he and the other Frontier Boys had found in that
mysterious mountain in the interior of Mexico. Why did she wear it? But
in regard to that interesting question he had no time to think at this
juncture. She looked pale as she knelt there, but hers was a natural
pallor and did not mean fear. The graceful figure with a rope of pearls
twined in the dark hair was to remain in James Darlington's memory for
many a year.

The other figure was that of a tall, gaunt woman, hard featured with
reddish brown hair. Jim noted the powerful looking hands and arms and
felt sure that she was not an antagonist to be regarded lightly. At that
moment the woman rose suddenly from the chair in which she had been
seated and Jim saw that she was nearly his equal in height.

"Is that you, you crazy fool?" she questioned in a harsh voice, coming
to the wicket and shoving it back. Jim dodged down, hoping that she
would unbolt the door but she did nothing of the kind.

"Oh, ho! you're here are you, walked into the cap'en's trap have you,
young fellar? I'll tell you one thing, you'll never get out of this
house, because nobody wants you enough to pay a ransom. Got that
straight, Bub."

Jim had had all kinds of experiences, but this was the first time that a
woman's tongue had begun to be sharpened on him and he did not relish it
in the least. He felt small and insulted, so mad that he began to see
things zig-zag way and was tempted to do something rash, and in fact he
did call out.

"Never fear, Señorita, I will get you out of this place."

He saw her clasp her hands and turn towards the door when the sight of
her was eclipsed by the bulk of her jailer.

"So it is you, Señor Jim, with the light head."

"It isn't red anyhow," he replied with humorous indignation.

"Ha, ha," she laughed, "you scored that time anyhow."

Jim took this opportunity to throw his weight against the door with all
his strength; it sagged, but the bar held.

The woman was furious as she glared out at Jim.

"I could throttle you, you sassy, long legged cub," she yelled, "only I
got orders from the cap'n to stay in this here room, and I obeys him."

She made a quick motion with her hand to a place near the jamb of the
door.

"Run, Señor, for your life," cried the poor demented woman; "the Devil
and his dogs are coming."

Jim saw that he must make his escape instantly or be caught helpless
like a rat in a trap to be done to death. He fled with all his speed,
and Jim was no slouch of a runner. Down the narrow stairway he sped, and
along the hall to the second floor. The question was, could he reach the
library where he had climbed in, before the gang in the banquet hall
came rushing up the main staircase.

The chances were against his doing this for the pursuers had only half
the distance to go and they would be certain to respond to the alarm
with much promptness. The Mexican dwarf was notorious for the swiftness
of his attack, so that it looked bad for our friend Jim. He must reach
that room or what would happen?



CHAPTER XXII

BRIAN DE BOIS GUILBERT


There was just one thing that saved Jim at this juncture. It was an
incident which he did not guess at the time and I am not sure that he
became aware of it in later life, and yet there are reasons to surmise
that he may have heard of it.

As has not been related, the big guardian of the señorita in the cell
high up in the tower, had started to give the alarm to the gang in the
banquet hall by pressing a button near the door. James Darlington had
seen her make the move to ring, and his alarm had been added to by the
cry of warning from the crazy woman. He had to run for his life as the
reader well knows.

So much Jim was aware of but he did not see what had happened when the
red headed woman started to give the alarm. The Señorita da Cordova was
not a cowed and spiritless girl and in spite of the terror of her
situation, when she saw the intention of her jailer she glided the
length of the cell with remarkable swiftness and caught the arm of the
woman. The señorita was not a delicate creature either, and in spite of
her apparent pallor, she showed a lithe agility in struggling with this
giant of a woman, who had the strength of two ordinary men and was
probably nearly the equal of the redoubtable Jim himself.

After a struggle lasting some minutes, the girl was thrown with severe
violence against the wall of the cell and lay there stunned and bleeding
from a cut on the forehead, but her efforts had given Jim time to reach
the library which he had to pass and bolt and lock the door to it,
before ever the chase began. Meanwhile the unfortunate woman who had
been of so much help to Jim had time to flee to a remote corner of the
house, where she would be free from pursuit.

James had determined to make his escape the same way he had gotten in,
join his comrade, the engineer, who was outside and together plan a new
attack. Perhaps they could get the aid of the Federal authorities.

At that moment Jim's eye fell on the hollow figure in armor which he had
dubbed Brian de Bois Guilbert, and he determined instantly to carry out
the plan that had first occurred to him, which from its very wildness
might spell success. At least try it he would; anything was better than
leaving the young Spanish girl in the hands of this evil crew,
especially as the Mexican dwarf had openly declared his intention of
making love to her.

Hastily Jim lit the wax candles on the mantel, that sent their soft
gleam through the long, beautiful room, and gave him sufficient light to
work by. Now Jim was not only deft, but desperate. How he got into that
suit of medieval armor, he could not tell. It would be doubtful if he
could have done so in cold blood, but he was spurred on by the terror of
the situation. It was just like a man pursued and in danger of immediate
capture by his enemies, who comes to a chasm that in ordinary moments he
would not think of attempting to cross, but he leaps it because he has
to, or fall into the hands of those who pursue him.

As the renegades rushed through the wide hall, with roar of harsh
voices, the big hound in the lead, Jim was nearly all saddled and
bridled and ready for the fray. It was with a strange feeling of
exultation and also of safety that James Darlington found himself thus
accoutered and discovered that he could move with comparative ease in
the glittering armor on which shone the lights of the candles from above
the fireplace.

It was easy to imagine Jim, who was large enough in his own proper
person, and now a figure of gigantic size, to be a hero of old Romance;
who with three plumed helmets, unheralded and unknown enters the lists
to rescue the oppressed and beautiful heroine from the hands of the
ruthless destroyer.

Perhaps Jim was a hero, but I will give a considerable sum to the boy or
girl who first finds in the many thrilling narratives of "The Frontier
Boys," our friend James spoken of or referred to as "our hero." But to
leave this realm of fancy and to come back to the practical world of our
narrative.

Jim knew that the time allowed him was apt to be very short before he
would be compelled to make his début in his new character, as the man
with the iron jaw, mailed fist and steel legs, so he gripped his heavy
sword, which none but he could wield (see Walter Scott, who preceded the
present writer by some years). I hope you will forgive this jesting, but
Jim was a great hand to make fun in the very presence of danger, a trait
peculiar to the American character, and so I may be pardoned for
following in his footsteps, for I, too, am an American.

Jim advanced toward the door, and he was thoroughly pleased and
encouraged to discover that he could move with comparative ease though
not noiselessly of course. But what did a little noise inside the room
amount to, when there came the roar of the pursuers outside, for they
had returned upon Jim's trail, guided by the hound.

The crisis had now come. The huge beast knew that his prey was inside,
and he rushed against the door with all of his maddened bulk, and his
great bark boomed through the castle, and filled with fury the Mexican
bandits who raged on the outside; then came the voice of their leader.

"Back, you fools," he cried; "away from that door."

They were quick to obey, and at that instant there came the sharp report
of a pistol; the bullet splintered through the thick casement but it
glanced from Jim's steel breastplate, but this attack aroused him to
action. With a thrill and tremor of the nerves which he could not
repress, he drew back the bolts and with a cry, the impulse of his
humorous excitement, "Desdichado to the Rescue!" he flung the door wide
open, and stepped with clanging stride through the smoke into the dimly
lit hall.

To have seen that great steel-clad figure moving with sudden life would
have struck terror to even the stoutest hearts, and shaken the steadiest
nerves. But these superstitious Mexicans were driven almost out of their
excitable minds by the sudden horror of this seeming apparition. Of one
accord they fled, gibbering, towards the stairs, one falling in a faint
from fright before he reached them. Even the dwarf who was not afraid of
the Powers of Darkness themselves, retreated slowly, sullenly and
suspiciously down the hall.

But there was one of all that gang who did not flee, and that was the
valiant hound. He sprang full for Jim as the latter stepped from the
room into the hall. Jim was not altogether unprepared for this, for he
had reckoned that the hound would be the one to make him trouble. If it
had not been for the protection of the armor which he wore it would have
gone hard with the youth.

But his own strength with the added weight of his suit of mail enabled
him to meet the fierce rush of the beast without losing his footing. It
also saved his arm and shoulder from being torn by the grip of the
animal's jaws. It only dented him as the expression goes. Then with a
short arm thrust of his sword he put the hound out of business.
Determined to follow up his advantage and make the rout thorough, he
advanced to the head of the staircase.

The dwarf had just reached the foot of the stairs, and looking up he saw
the giant figure in armor and with a snarl he took quick aim and fired,
the bullet glancing from the helm of Jim's armor and making a long
furrow in the plaster of the ceiling.

Jim had no idea of quietly standing there as a tin target for his enemy
to fire at. There was, he noted, a small marble bust on a pedestal near
the top of the staircase. This he seized in his iron grasp and hurled it
at the elfish figure in the hall below. Now James was "quite some"
thrower as they say in the state of Jersey. The dwarf was marvelously
quick, too, but the white flash of stone came near getting him and as he
dodged he slipped and fell and the bust busted in all directions, one
fragment cutting his cheek, with its sharp impact.

"Look out, Jim! Look out quick!" so a friend would have cried but it was
too late.

While the men had all fled in utter fear, a woman was coming quickly to
retrieve their reverse. "Red Annie," as she was known, strong, strident
and feared by everyone within the castle, was on the trail. She was not
to be fooled for an instant by this figure in armor. Noiseless as a
lioness she crept up behind Jim and as he half turned to find another
weapon to his hand he saw her, but not soon enough. With a mighty shove
she sent him toppling down the stairs. However, Jim was able to
partially save himself by gripping at the balustrade.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE CRISIS


There was but one way of escape now and that was by the front entrance.
Jim regained his feet but by the time he reached the lower hall, the
woman had rallied the brown and white renegades with taunts and fierce
ridicule, and they came again into the attack.

"Take him alive," cried the dwarf; "we will have some sport with him
before he dies."

"I won't die till my time comes," mumbled Jim; "as for the sport, I'll
have that myself."

There were at least twelve of the cutthroats who swarmed into the hall,
some of them reënforcements, men who had been sleeping in other parts of
the castle, and who had been aroused by the racket. Among them was a
huge fellow with a bristling red mustache, close cropped black hair, and
sinister dark eyes, all surface and no depth.

"Jack, darlint," cried the woman, "hit that jinted piece of hardware a
blow with a shillayleh, and show these Manuels and proud Castilians that
it's a holler sham."

"I'll do it for the honor of the ould sod, Annie, me gurl," he cried to
his wife, for such she was.

Jim was pretty thoroughly aroused by these taunts, and he did not wait
for the onslaught of the gallant son of Hibernia, but plowed his way
through the snarling Mexicans, who would have pulled him down, and with
a quickness that took the big Irishman by surprise, smote him with a
heavy swing upon the side of his fortunately thick head; that is,
fortunate for him, and down he went full length, crushing two small,
protesting "Manuels" in his fall. He was the victim of the iron hand,
minus the velvet glove.

But now a trick was brought into play which Jim himself had used once or
twice in the course of his adventurous career. While he was busily
engaged with the matter in hand, he suddenly found his arms pinioned by
a rawhide lasso, cast by the expert hand of Master Dwarf. In a minute he
was utterly helpless, unable to move arms or legs, and then how the
Mexicans came into the attack!

With Southern fury they struck at the iron Jim with feet and fist, and
then they wrung their injured hands and nursed their bruised toes, until
Jim could not help laughing, in spite of the seriousness of the
situation; but he did not laugh long.

The ordeal began quickly for him, and he realized that there was no
escape for him from the hands of his ruthless and revengeful enemies. It
was impossible for John Berwick to help him; indeed, the engineer would
be fortunate to escape himself. Besides him, there was absolutely no one
within several thousand miles who could bring him help.

If only Jo and Tom and Juarez were near, the old frontier combination,
he would not despair of being rescued; but Jim repressed quickly any
thought of his brothers and friend, for the recollection would be sure
to weaken him, and he needed all his fortitude at this point, when cruel
Death and he stood face to face once more, and seemingly for the last
time.

It was a dramatic scene, as well as one of terror, in the splendid
banquet hall, where Jim awaited execution. The blaze was leaping upward
in the great fireplace, and the ruddy spread of light showed the tall
figure of James Darlington, bound hand and foot, with his back to the
northern end of the banquet room. The armor had been torn off from him
with bruising force. The side of his face was torn and bleeding, the
work of Red Annie's husband when his opponent was helpless.

Jim had steeled himself for what must come, and he had to admit that he
would just as soon be back in Colorado in the hands of the Indians as in
the power of the present gang. At least as far as the dwarf was
concerned, there was more of personal hatred than in the case of the red
men. And where natural cruelty is urged on by a desire for revenge, then
look out.

"We will try this game first," cried the dwarf, "and see how brave this
white-headed gringo is."

The others laughed and made wagers on their skill, all except the
Irishman, who glowered at the Mexicans and then at Jim. It was not a
pastime he was expert in. The hunchback took a step forward with his
dagger poised over his shoulder, and holding it by its sharp tip. Then
it flashed red straight for Jim's eye, apparently, but it would have
missed his head by a hair's breadth if he had stayed quiet.

But he was free to move his head and instinctively he dodged; this
roused the Mexican to perfect fury, and he grabbed a poniard from the
man next to him, and aimed for the body. There was murder in his every
move, there was no mistaking that. It looked as if Jim's time had
certainly come.

But what of John Berwick, the former chief engineer of the _Sea Eagle_?
Why did he not make some effort to aid his friend, and superior
officer, Captain Jim? Let us go back a ways, and we will find an answer
to this query. As you remember, when Jim started to find his way into
the castle, he left Berwick in a clump of bushes not far from the house.

In one way he was alone, and in another he was not, for there was the
body of the unfortunate secret service man, who had lost his life in the
gulch below, not far from the beach. But most people would have chosen
to be alone rather than in such company.

The engineer watched Jim as he climbed up to the broad window and
disappeared with a wave of his hand. For a time he listened, on edge for
some outbreak, and expecting every minute to see Jim take a flying leap
from some window, accompanied by a salute of fireworks and pistol
flashes. Once or twice he was positive that he heard a cry or a sound of
a struggle in the great silent house, but nothing came of it.

It was cold standing there, motionless. He did not want to attract
possible attention by moving about, and a thought came to him upon which
he acted. His silent companion had no use for apparel. He secured the
heavy gray coat and put it on over his own. His hat he had lost, and
substituted that of the officer.

An hour or more went by. He found himself growing very sleepy, and no
wonder, if we recall what a strenuous twelve hours he had just gone
through. Nor did he have the stimulus of interest that Jim had to keep
him keyed up. He fought against this sense of overpowering drowsiness,
that was like a heavy adversary that was slowly pressing him into
unconsciousness.

It had him by the wrists tiring him, weighing on the pit of his stomach,
numbing the back of his brain, making his limbs as heavy as ponderous
lead. It seemed to the wearied engineer that there was nothing in this
world to be desired but a good sound sleep; he fought against it
desperately, but after a long struggle he suddenly succumbed; his head
dropped, and he lay prone in the grass, apparently as lifeless, as the
unfortunate a few feet distant.

When he awoke it was with utter bewilderment. Where was he, with grass
and trees and shrubs all about him? That certainly was a pistol shot
which had aroused him. Then he came to his senses, sprang quickly to his
feet, and pushed his way through the copse until he got a clear view of
the castle. There he saw faint gleams of light through the broad
windows of the room, which Jim had entered.

In a moment he had heard enough to convince him that there was serious
business going on in the castle, and that "the captain," as he sometimes
called Jim, was in certain danger. Now, John Berwick did not have the
natural headlong courage of Jim, but he was a man of great coolness and
nerve, when the occasion demanded it. He resisted the impulse to rush
boldly into the house, for he saw that it would be foolhardy, as he was
unarmed, and it would only be making a bad matter worse.

He stood with his head slightly bent, gently whistling to himself; his
hands in his pockets, as if nothing of importance was going on in the
gloomy, looming castle a few feet away, but John Berwick was thinking,
and his thinking, it chanced, was apt to be to some purpose. Then a
curious smile came over his face, that was not exactly pleasant, and
with fair reason.

The engineer had come to a decision, and hit upon a plan. He and the
dead man were about of the same build, practically of the same height,
and superficially they had a similarity of appearance, and he was
dressed in his coat and hat. The latter he grasped firmly and pulled
well down over his face. The coat and hat were the only conspicuous
things about him.

Just now there was a sudden terrible clangor in the castle.

"Sounds like somebody was discharging the cook," he remarked with
whimsical humor, "and that she was throwing the hardware around."

This tumult, as the reader well knows, was our esteemed friend, James,
falling downstairs in his full suit of armor, which was sufficient to
account for the racket. It did not take Berwick long after that to get
ready, and you would have been certain that it was none other than the
dead detective come to life, as he stooped hurriedly across the lawn. He
did not try any roundabout way of making entrance into the castle, but
ran directly to the massive front doors, hoping to find them unlocked,
but in this he was doomed to disappointment.



CHAPTER XXIV

A REINCARNATION


It was no time to waste any precious moments on ceremony; he must act,
and act immediately. There were on either side of the main door long
panels of glass. John Berwick made use of the stout stick, his only
weapon, which he had picked up from the midst of the copse, and broke
the long panel glass into smithereens.

Under ordinary conditions the noise would have been sufficient to
attract the attention of anyone in the banquet hall, in spite of the
heavy doors and their equally heavy hangings of cloth of purple, but at
this precise moment the parties therein were so intent on the tragedy
that was about to be consummated there, that they would not have been
diverted by even a much louder noise than that caused by the breaking of
that slender panel of glass.

John Berwick was of slight and wiry figure, and was able to shove his
way through, a feat that would have been impossible for Jim, even with
the most determined intentions in the world. Within a half minute
Berwick stood crouching in the hall, and then he crossed the space
swiftly, through the open door, the purple curtains parted, and there
advanced into the center of the banquet hall, the gray-clad figure
seemingly of the dead detective.

The deadly dagger which the Mexican Dwarf poised to transfix his victim
was never flung, but dropped with a metallic clatter from his palsied
hand. Even Jim was dazed for a few seconds by this strange apparition,
and then he could have given a yell of joy and of boundless relief. It
was one of the few dramatic moments of his life, which had been filled
with exciting incidents, which is an entirely different thing from being
dramatic.

The first look at John Berwick, wearing the detective's coat and hat,
the latter pulled well over his face, had appalled and paralyzed the
gang of dastards, who were about to execute cold-blooded murder, and as
he advanced upon them this fear was changed into frenzied panic.
Trampling over one another at once they fled by way of a door at the end
of the room, near where they were gathered. The supposed detective gave
up the pursuit after they were utterly routed, and returned to where Jim
stood bound.

"How did you ever think of it, old chap?" cried Jim, as soon as the rope
that bound him had been cut by his friend.

"It chanced that I was prepared," replied Berwick. "I heard that
horrible clatter in the house, and got in as quickly as I could."

"That clatter was Brian de Bois Guilbert tumbling downstairs," said Jim
gleefully.

"Eh?" questioned Berwick, his eyes opening wide as he gazed at Jim in
the dawning belief that the experience he had gone through had unsettled
his mind.

"Oh, I'm not crazy, Chief," exclaimed Jim. "I'll explain later; now for
getting the señorita out of the hands of these villains."

"She is here? Then I'm ready," rejoined Berwick, "but let's get a weapon
or two before we start. We may need them."

Jim had now regained the use of his stiffened muscles, and together the
two comrades went to the end of the long room.

"This is yours, Jim," he said, as he stooped and picked up the weapon
which the Mexican had dropped.

"Sure it is," replied James. "My friend, Manuel, was about to hand it to
me."

"It's poisoned, look out for it," said the engineer, as he handed the
blade to him gingerly.

"Here's a revolver," cried Jim, "that one of the gents dropped in his
hurry. Shy only one cartridge, too," he concluded, after a hasty
examination.

Thus equipped, they started on their quest, and though very inadequately
armed they both felt heartened by the presence of the other. It is a
desolate business, facing danger alone with no one to back you up, or
with whom you can take counsel. True comradeship is one of the best
things in the world.

The two friends move quickly across the floor, but, by comparison with
the danger that is approaching, they seem merely to crawl. You long to
shout a warning to them, do anything to urge them on. They reach the
door of the banquet hall, and then they are quick to act, and with good
reason.

"What durned son of thunder broke that thar glass?" There was no doubt
whose voice that was. It belonged to the redoubtable Captain Broome, and
to no other. It was his stopping to look at the broken glass that gave
the two comrades their chance.

"Busted in'ard," he commented shrewdly, and then his gray, red-rimmed
eye, with its gleam of steel, caught sight of Jim and the engineer, as
they came through the door of the banquet hall. With a roar of wrath he
was inside, followed by six of his sailors; then his humor changed as he
saw Jim looking down from the head of the stairs.

"Very good of you, Mr. Darlington, to visit me in my humble home; sorry
I wasn't here to welcome you," he remarked suavely.

"Oh, I've made myself quite at home, Captain," replied Jim. "Nice place
here; wouldn't you like to trade it for my fine sea-going yacht in the
harbor?"

The captain grew red in the face at this piece of persiflage, and under
the stress of excitement he swallowed his quid of tobacco and likewise
his wrath, at Jim's coolness.

"Waal, son, that's extra kind of you, ain't it, boys?" and he looked
over the hard beaten crew at his back.

A loud guffaw of derision greeted this remark, and it was Jim's turn to
feel like swallowing something, only it was not a quid of tobacco, for
that was a foreign substance he never indulged in, but he made another
bold move by way of reply.

"Well, Captain, as you won't consider a dicker with me, I've got a
friend with me who represents the United States government. Perhaps he
will buy your châlet here by the sea."

John Berwick, who had been standing in the shadow back of Jim, gave a
grunt of surprise at the audacity of this move, but he was game, and
stepped quietly into the limelight. Captain Broome stood for a moment in
open-jawed surprise, and then he dropped his byplay of grim politeness
with startling suddenness. A shot rang out, and a puff of smoke drifted
across the hall. The bullet zipped close to John Berwick's head.

"Don't fire yet," warned Jim; "come quick."

He led the way swiftly down the hall, determined to make one last effort
to save the señorita, though it would have been easy enough for him to
have saved himself and his comrade by dashing into the library, barring
the door, and climbing down by the way which he had come up, but to
Jim's credit, be it said, the thought of such escape never crossed his
mind.

As they ran, Jim had the presence of mind to swerve for a second and
grab the hound which he had killed a short time before and drag it out
so that it lay crossways of the hall; then on they dashed, while the
lumbering sailors, better for climbing masts than for sprinting, came
awkwardly on their trail.

The pursuers had only started on the level of the hall when a volley of
six shots flashed in sudden flame in the direction in which Jim and his
friend were running. Two came unpleasantly near, but this only added a
zest to the race, and Jim laughed with a snort of disdain.

"You fellows shoot like Chinamen," he yelled in derision, which remark
reached the ears of Captain Broome and his gang with forcible
distinctness. It served to blind them with fury, and the next moment the
captain fell forward over the dead hound, and three of his gallant
sailors sprawled over him, for which piece of awkwardness they were
berated and kicked and cuffed by their irate employer.

"What dumb fool left that hound there!" he yelled when he saw the
obstruction by the light of a full lantern that one of his men lit.
"He's been pizened."

"Cut in the neck, Cap'n, that's what killed the beastie."

It was only too true, as the old pirate saw, and he went into a fit of
rage that left him inarticulate; but from the way he shook both gnarled
fists in the direction in which Jim had fled, it was clear that he knew
who was responsible for the death of his hound, and who had placed it
where it was. With a sudden sense of superstition his memory went back
to the fate of his great gorilla of the cavern that once had guarded his
treasure in a cave in one of the islands off the coast of California. It
was this same big, humorous, blond-headed boy, who had several times
outwitted and beaten him, though not always, for the hard-bitten old
salt horse had now gotten his yacht back from Jim's grip, and, through
one of his agents, had a few days ago relieved him of his treasure. Now,
in spite of daring and long-headedness, the captain seemed likely to
defeat the youth's present intention of freeing the Señorita da Cordova
from his cold, calculating and cruel grip.

At least it was not certain that James Darlington was to win her
release; however, he had before fought against odds quite as desperate
and won. We shall see. However, there was no question as to the bitter
chagrin of Captain Bill Broome as he took up the broken pursuit.



CHAPTER XXV

IN THE CELL


James did not stop to gloat over the momentary holdup of his enemy, but
followed by his comrade, he sped around the turn of the hall, then up to
the second story to the narrow winding stairway, winding between stone
walls, towards the cell where the señorita was under guard of the tall,
red-headed Amazon.

As he reached the landing a bitter surprise awaited him. The door of the
room was wide open. Not a soul was there. The bird had flown. Instantly
Jim turned and started to descend the stone stairs. What his intentions
were it would be difficult to say. It would have been a long and hard
task to have found out in which room, out of the many, the senorita was
now held prisoner, even if he had had leisure to look, but under the
circumstances with enemies on all sides it was impossible.

Already the captain and his men were near the foot of the winding stair,
and from the other direction came some of the panic-stricken Mexicans,
who had heard the voice of Captain Broome ringing through the house.

It doubtless gave them renewed courage to find that he was on deck;
besides, they would have been afraid to have him discover them lurking
in fear about the premises, and then, too, they had motives of their own
for joining in the chase now that reënforcements had arrived.

"Back up, Jim," cried John Berwick; "the dogs have got us cornered."

"Hold 'em off," exclaimed Jim; "take one shot; save the rest."

He leaped back to see what way of escape there might be without
retreating into the _cul de sac_ of the cell. He caught a projection in
the stone above the landing in an effort to reach the glass skylight. At
that moment there came a quick shot below him, and the report roared and
reëchoed in the winding stairway. There was a yelp like that of a
wounded animal, and one of the Mexicans fell backward down the stairs,
not mortally wounded, as he thought he was.

For a moment the mob was held back, and then Captain Broome himself took
the lead; he contributed the force and fury of the charge, and the
Mexicans the loud yells and exclamations of burning wrath.

"This is the only way out, Jim," cried Berwick, making for the empty
cell. "No time to waste climbing up stone walls."

Jim saw the force of this; he leaped down to the landing, and as the
leaders of the charge came surging around the curve in the stone
stairway, he and Berwick rushed into the cell, slammed and barred the
door, as the enemy came against it with a dull thud.

There was no chance to make a barricade, as there was scarcely any
furniture in the cell. Nothing would have pleased Jim better than that
means of defense. There were just two things to do, either surrender or
to try the window.

Jim would never think of the first; death was better than that. It was
only a question of a few minutes before the door would be down and their
capture or death certain. Nothing needed to be said. Jim put out the dim
lamp as Berwick reached the leaded casement window.

In a moment they were out on a narrow balcony of iron, but green with
ivy and a rambler rose, that hung and nodded near the casement. The dim
light of morning was seeping through the heavy folds of fog, and
spreading in steel-like patches over the dark-hued Pacific.

Even in this moment of danger they were glad to breathe in the fresh
air. If only the fog was thicker it might be of help to them; if they
had only looked landward their hearts would have been lighter, for there
in huge rolls of gray the fog was moving, thick, impenetrable, over the
ground, and in a short time, probably not over a minute, the castle and
the whole coast would be enveloped.

But the two had to do something immediately, and could not stand there
admiring the scenery. Above them rose the high peak over the window, and
higher yet the hip of the roof. A glance was sufficient to show Jim that
they did not want to get up any higher in the world than they were.
Below them was the ridge of another roof, about a distance of a dozen
feet; a dizzy drop, but they had to do it; there was no other way.

"I'll go first," determined Jim, "and then you follow."

At that instant, a red glow shone through the thick round glass of the
casement, and the door fell with a crash. Jim climbed out, and holding
to the lower edge of the balcony, without the slightest hesitation,
dropped. His feet struck on the slant, and his hands gripped the ridge
and he pulled himself up. The engineer was already dangling in the air,
holding on to the edge.

"Now," cried Jim.

A moment after the casement had burst out, the engineer let go, Jim
steadied him as he struck, and exerting all his strength barely kept the
two of them from sliding down and out. The fog was already upon them
with its thick enveloping whiteness, and they could not see more than
two feet in either direction. It was indeed a case where fortune
appeared to favor the brave.

"They're down there all right," cried the captain in his harsh voice;
"we've got 'em where they can't get away. Don't shoot, lads, we'll take
'em alive."

A roar of approval met this declaration.

"Give me a lasso, Manuel, and hurry, or I'll take the end of it to you,"
roared the captain.

Jim put his hand on his comrade's shoulder and whispered:

"I want that lasso," and he edged along until he was directly underneath
the balcony, then he rose slowly to his feet, which, in his wet
stockings, did not slip. Manuel, indeed, had hurried, for no sooner had
Jim risen to the height of his precarious position than he saw the rope
dangling downward like a snake. He let it alone until he believed that
it was paid out to the full.

Then he gripped it with both of his powerful hands, and gave it a yank,
as though he were ringing out the old year. It pulled the sailor who was
paying the rope out bodily out of the balcony, and only the agility and
strength of the captain kept him from falling into the hands or upon the
head of the enemy below, but in the struggle he let go of the rope.

Jim, with his treasure firmly in hand, now moved rapidly along the ridge
of the roof to a chimney, paying no attention to the uproar on the
balcony above, nor to the shots that, with a dimmed report, tore
harmlessly through the gray garment of the fog. It did not take them
long to tie the rope around the chimney and then Berwick slid down past
several windows and with a drop of ten feet was on the ground once more.
In a moment Jim was standing by him. His first act was to seek out and
put on his shoes.

"Over the fence now, Captain?"

"No," replied Jim, "we won't give up the fight till we're beaten."

"Better get, while we have the chance," protested the engineer
earnestly.

"Come quick; I have a scheme," announced Jim. "We won't run yet."

"No faster than molasses in January," said the engineer irritably.

"Take it easy, John," said Jim soothingly, with a pat on the shoulder;
"we'll come out all right, my boy."

It was as though Jim were the older of the two, but it was the quality
of leadership in him that made him hearten his comrade. Berwick
responded, his good nature instantly restored.

"Go it, Cap. I'll see you through this if it takes my head and both
feet."

"Thank you, John," replied Jim, gripping the other's hand. "It won't be
as bad as that, I hope."

Then they started directly for the fence, to the complete surprise of
the engineer, for Jim had declared against that route most emphatically;
but Berwick made no protest, for, as James had said that he had a
scheme, he knew it would soon develop. He noticed that his leader made
no effort to disguise his footprints as they ran, and so it was not a
shock to him, when they reached the fence, to see that Jim made no
attempt to scale it. He stopped a moment to listen for any sign of
pursuit.



CHAPTER XXVI

IN THE MOW


"All quiet along the Potomac," remarked Jim, as no disturbance was heard
from the direction of the house.

"Not a sound was heard, not a funeral note," added the engineer, with
his usual whimsical humor.

"I bet that there will be a few funeral notes for that fellow who let go
the rope," put in Jim.

"Not to speak of what would happen to us if old Broome should get his
hand on we 'uns," remarked the engineer casually.

"He's just mad enough to chaw iron," grinned Jim. "Well, now, here's for
a little acrobatics."

Jim leaped up to the stone and cement parapet in which the iron fence
was set, taking care to leave a few mud traces on the cement; then he
went along for some little distance from iron bar to iron bar, and when
he rested he did not do so on the wall, so that all trace of their trail
was practically lost, even to the nose of a bloodhound. John Berwick
followed him with greater agility than Jim showed, for he was much
lighter, and very wiry, so that it was easy work for him compared with
the heavier Jim.

Berwick did not guess what their destination might be, though he had
some idea that Jim's scheme was to get down to the beach, but how this
was to be done without getting outside of the grounds he could not
figure. Then close by he saw the faint outline of a building through the
fog, and he thought for the moment that they had come back to the house;
however, he recognized it as the stable. This building was a rustic
affair, built with logs that still had the bark on, and had originally
cost much more than a stone or brick structure would.

"Here we are," said Jim in a low voice; "now look out for the hound."

"I don't believe that he is here now," said Berwick.

This proved to be the case, and they were able to slip into the stable
without anyone being the wiser. It seemed like a refuge to the two
comrades after the hazards that they had run during the past few hours.
And even Jim was fagged and worn, and now that there was time for
reaction his face showed it. There were deep cuts of fatigue in his
cheeks and his eyes looked haggard. They also burned, and his head was
full of a sort of vacant daze, from sleeplessness.

"I don't know, John, whether I'm hungrier or sleepier, but if I had to
choose I think that I would select a nap."

"You have had it a lot harder than I have, old chap," said the engineer;
"take a lay-off and get some sleep."

"I believe I will," agreed Jim; "I don't imagine that we will be
disturbed for some time at least."

There was plenty of hay in the warm, dusky mow, and a cozy, safe place
to rest in.

"I tell you what, Chief," said Jim, "let's both take a sleep, and then
we will be fresh for what may happen next."

"It wouldn't take much urging," replied the engineer; "I'm half dead for
sleep myself, but we had better make the doors secure first, in case
they should look for us here."

"No," rejoined Jim, "leave everything open; if they came to the stable
and found it locked on the inside, they would know, for sure, that we
were in here."

"But suppose some of the gang come in here while we are asleep, they
would be certain sure to hear one or both of us snoring."

"That's right enough," agreed Jim, "but I tell you what we can do, we'll
crawl down under the hay, get close to the wall, and our loudest snores
would be smothered."

"I guess you're right," agreed Berwick. "So lead on and I will follow."

"This reminds me of when I was a boy," declared Jim; "when we used to
tunnel in the hay to hide in the old barn on the back lot."

"When you were a boy," exclaimed Berwick, in good-natured raillery. "How
old do you consider yourself now, I should like to know?"

"Oh, I've lived in heartbeats, not in years," said Jim; "that makes me
about a hundred years old."

"It strikes me that it takes a good deal to make your heart beat faster
than usual," remarked the engineer; "you are a cool hand if there ever
was one." This was a sincere tribute.

Then the two comrades began to work back under and through the hay,
keeping close to the south wall, so that the hay showed no sign of
having been disturbed, and in a short time they had burrowed their way
clear through, until they reached the back wall. How comfortable and
cozy it was in the warm, dry hay! Jim stretched his weary length out
with a sigh of relief.

"Ah, John, isn't this great? After being through what we have,"
exclaimed Jim.

"It is fine," agreed Berwick, "to get into a safe, warm place like this
when you have been in constant danger, as we have, and cold and wet
besides. Here goes for a good sleep."

And the word was hardly out of his lips when he was sound asleep. Jim
looked at his watch by means of a crack of light that came in between
the logs, and saw that it was twenty minutes after six. And then, lulled
by the sound of the waves at the base of the cliffs, he too sank into a
deep, dreamless sleep.

He never thought of sleeping beyond a couple of hours, but he had not
counted on the effect of his extreme fatigue, and the sudden cessation
of the constant strain the two had been under for nearly eighteen hours.
So hour after hour went by and still they slept in the cozy and soft
dryness of the hay, that has no equal as a bed for the truly weary.

It was after two in the afternoon that something happened that roused
them; otherwise they might have slept until night, and indeed it was
almost as dusk as night, for the fog which had lifted in the morning
closed in thicker than ever, so that in the homes and offices of the
city the gas lamps and jets were burning.

Jim awoke with a start, utterly and absolutely bewildered. Where he was
he could not guess; his mind was a confused daze of fragments of events
that had happened during the night of adventure and excitement. Then he
came to himself and remembered how they came in this strange place. His
hand reached out and touched the foot of his sleeping comrade. But what
had roused him? There had been something; of that he was certain. So he
kept perfectly still, listening with the utmost intentness; then he
started slightly, for there was repeated the noise that had roused him
from his sleep. It was a low, terrible croon, like "o-o-h--o-o-h,"
repeated and repeated, and every once in a while its monotone was broken
by a sharp shriek.

Rested though he was, and not liable to nervous tremors, Jim felt his
flesh creep at the uncanny sound. It came, as far as he could judge,
from the open space in the mow not far from the ladder that led up into
the loft. But what it was he could not guess, nor its object in coming
to this particular spot. One thing was probable, that it had nothing to
do with them, and was not indicative of someone on their trail, but it
was no pleasant companion to have in that dusky loft.

He wished that John Berwick might wake, but he did not want to disturb
his much-needed rest until necessary. At that moment there came that
horrid shriek, and, as if in reply to it, the engineer struggled up with
a loud yell. Jim had to shake him vigorously to bring him out of his
very natural nightmare. The sound outside had suddenly stopped, and Jim
heard a rustling, creeping noise, and then all was silence.

"What in the deuce was that?" whispered Berwick.

Jim made no reply, only put his hand on his friend's shoulder. He could
imagine this object rising up and peering through the dusk, trying to
make out what that other noise might be, then evidently not much worried
about it. After a short interval, it began its peculiar croon again.

"I don't know what it is, John," replied Jim to his friend's repeated
question; "it has been going on some time before you waked. You must
have heard it in your sleep, and that is what gave you that nightmare."

"It must have been that," remarked the engineer, "because it could not
have been anything that I have eaten." There was no doubt about the
humor of this. They were able to talk together in low tones, for this
object outside seemed to be more concerned with its own troubles than
anything else.

"How long have we slept?" queried Berwick.

"Bless me if I know," replied Jim, "and it is so dark in here now that I
can't make out the time."

"Well, I reckon that it is high time to get up, anyhow," remarked
Berwick.

"It is more a question of getting out than of getting up," remarked
James, with his usual quaint humor.

But at this point Berwick put a hand of caution on Jim's shoulder, for
he was sure that there was something on hand.



CHAPTER XXVII

LOOK DOWN AND NOT UP


THE engineer was entirely right. There was somebody knocking at the
gate, as they are wont to say in romantic novels, but in this particular
case it was the barn doors where the noise was heard. They were rolled
back and then came the sound of loud voices, or, to be accurate, they
were rather shrill.

"That's the Mexicans," declared Berwick; "they are on our trail."

"We will make them get off," remarked Jim grimly.

"Better throw them off," said the engineer wisely.

"Gosh ding, I don't see how we are going to get out of here now if they
decide to make a search of the premises," remarked Jim; "we are in for
it."

John Berwick was on the point of saying something about "I told you so,"
but he thought better of it, for you remember that it had been his idea
to fasten the stable when they first came in. "I guess the only thing
for us to do is to make a rush for it when they discover us," said Jim,
"and trust to our luck which seems uncommon bad of late."

"Due to turn," said Berwick; "it's run against us long enough."

The men's voices below had suddenly ceased, and then there were signs of
a vigorous search on the lower floor. It was only a question of a little
time when the search would reach the hay loft, where our two friends
were in hiding, and then--

"I'm going to crawl around and see if I can't find some way of getting
out of this trap," declared Jim.

"All right, I'll stay here and guard our common fireside," replied the
engineer with his queer twist of humor.

"Speaking of firesides," remarked Jim; "if they would only set fire to
this place they would surely get us."

"It would be a case of roast pig, as Charles Lamb says," put in John
Berwick.

"The two would go well together, was he a sheep or a mutton," said Jim
coarsely, for be it known James was not much of an authority on English
literature, the only classics with which he was fully acquainted being,
"The Frontier Boys in Every Part of the World," which, with Shakespeare,
forms a complete library.

"I fear you are nothing but a Bravo, James," remarked his friend.

"What's that?" Jim inquired. "Some other time will do just as well," he
declared, "I am going scouting."

Suiting the action to the word, he started to crawl along the wall, and
it did not take him long to get free of the hay, and raising his head,
he saw something that made him draw down hurriedly, and take the trail
back to where his comrade was waiting.

"What luck?" asked Berwick.

"Not a place where a rat could crawl out," remarked Jim, "but you just
wait. I think there is something going to happen."

There did, but it was not exactly what was expected. It was evident that
the search below was over, and after a brief parley, heavy feet could be
heard coming up the ladder. At the moment that the leader's head
appeared through the opening, a gray and ghostly figure rose with its
weird, shrill cry of rage that startled the two comrades safely hidden
in the hay.

The effect upon the intruders can be easily guessed. These superstitious
Mexicans had known vaguely of a woman haunting this castle by the sea.
Sometimes they had seen a gray, creeping figure at the end of the hall
or heard a piercing cry ring out at midnight, and now this creature was
about to spring upon them and curse them to the bottomless pit. There
was a cry of fright, and in leaping back, the man near the top of the
ladder knocked over the one below, and he in turn the next, so that it
was like when a ball hits the King Pin and the others are sent
sprawling.

The searching party fled in panic and dismay out of the barn, and
nothing could have persuaded them to have set foot in those haunted
walls again, no, not even the threats of the redoubtable Captain William
Broome himself. What the outcome would have been had the captain been on
hand, it is difficult to say, for it was commonly supposed that he was
in fear of nothing.

"Well, what did I tell you, Jack?" questioned Jim smiling grimly. "There
was something on hand sure enough."

"What under the canopy was that thing doing?" exclaimed John Berwick.
"It gave me the creeps, and that is a sensation that does not bother me
very much these days."

"That was the story of a haunted house," replied Jim, "but it is safe
enough now since our friends, the enemy, have fled. Let us go out and
see for ourselves if you aren't too timid."

"Anybody who survives the excitement of following your fortunes for a
few weeks cannot be very timid," replied Berwick candidly.

Jim grinned, but made no reply, and in a few moments they emerged from
the hay into the dusk of the loft. For a few seconds they made out
nothing, and then from the deeper shadow a dim figure took shape, and
advanced towards them. Jim was the nearest to her, and Berwick was very
well pleased that this was so. Jim showed no uneasiness.

"Thank you for driving them away," he said quietly, peering down at the
strange face that looked up at him from its hooded gray, and then she
laughed at him with insane mirth. It would have done severe damage to
less hardy nerves than those which our "hero" possessed. Jim regarded
her with unwavering kindness, which seemed to reach through the gray
cloud of her unhappy condition, much as the clear sun penetrates the
mist.

"The old devil has gone," she volunteered.

"Ah, the captain," said Jim to Berwick quietly.

"She could mean no other," agreed his friend. "Perhaps we had better
follow his example."

"And the young lady?" questioned Jim.

There was a nod of the head, and even while they were speaking, the
woman had faded back into the shadows. They did not disturb her, for it
would be to no purpose.

"How had we better get out of here, that is the question," continued
Berwick.

"I thought we might go out the back way," remarked Jim.

"How, jump?" inquired Berwick, who remembered the cliff, one hundred
feet sheer descent, that bounded the precincts of the castle, except
that shut in by the iron fence.

"It won't be hard," said Jim, "if we can find a rope around here, and I
think we can."

"If we do, we will keep enough to hang the captain with," said Berwick
grimly.

"There's a souvenir hanging from the chimney," said Jim with a grin.

"Better leave that for Santa Claus," remarked the engineer thoughtfully.

"Santa Claus doesn't come to California," replied James; "they don't
have Christmas weather here."

"Get lost in the fog, that's a fact," remarked Berwick.

"Come," cried Jim, "let us find some rope."

Down the stairs they went, and it did not take them long to discover a
tar-hued rope coiled in one of the empty feed bins.

"Here's our treasure," said Berwick; "it belongs to the old sea dog
evidently. I suppose you want me to hold it, while you climb gracefully
down."

"Hardly," mocked Jim. "I'd land so suddenly that it would drive my heels
into my head. Here's a sliding window at the back here. Let's see how it
looks below."

At the word, Jim pushed back the window and poking his head out took a
good long look.

"Overhangs the water," exclaimed Jim as he pulled back.

"Let me have a peek," said the engineer, and looking down he saw the
waves rushing in against the black rock of the cliff a hundred feet or
more beneath. When the water withdrew there was a wet stretch of sandy
cove, and then the waves came in with a foaming rush.

"It's pretty near high now," said Berwick, as he pulled his head in.

"I don't think it would be much of a trick to get around that projection
of the cliff to the beach," remarked Jim.

"Maybe," replied Berwick noncommittally, with a slight shrug of his
shoulders.

"You can swim like a fish," put in Jim who had noted the shrug of his
comrade's shoulders.

"But I was thinking of you, my poor friend," replied the engineer. "What
would become of you if the hungry ocean should seize upon you with its
white and foaming teeth?"

"Oh, I'd wade out," remarked Jim nonchalantly.

"Humph," grunted Berwick; "by the way, Jim, I think I can find something
of real interest here."

He got down on his knees and began very carefully to brush away with his
hands the débris on the floor.

"You ain't lost that diamond ring I gave you?" questioned Jim in mock
anxiety.

He, too, got down on the floor and began to dust for himself.

"I've found it," cried Berwick; "just get your hulk off this door."

Jim obeyed promptly, exclaiming, "Hully Gee, it's a trap!"

"What would you expect?" replied the engineer. "The captain could use
this nicely in his line of trade I'm thinking."

"That is where that poor fellow would have been sent, whom we found in
the gulch," exclaimed Jim.

"Certain thing," agreed his friend.

"I've got an idea," said Jim, lying flat on the floor. He stuck his head
through the trap door while his friend held him solicitously by his legs
so he could not do the sudden disappearance act.

"I can fix it," declared Jim as he pulled his head back; "just let me
have the end of that rope."

The engineer did as requested, and Jim slipped the rope's end around one
of the log joists and tied it securely.

"It will be a good thing to have this fastened here, in case we should
have to come back," remarked Jim.

"Which I hope we won't until we get something to eat," said Berwick, who
was not so young and enthusiastic as to find sufficient food in an
adventure as Jim did.

"Might fish through here," remarked Jim.

"Yes, with a bent pin," replied the engineer caustically, "as far as
getting anything to eat."

Jim laughed gleefully.

"Well, I'm off, or down rather," he said, his face growing sober.
"You're next, Chief."



CHAPTER XXVIII

A SQUARE MEAL


However, before Jim began his descent, he cut off some of the rope.

"That might come in handy, you know," he said.

Then without any more adieu he let himself down, caught the edge of the
trap, then dropped, seizing the rope and thus hand over hand until he
was within a few feet of the water, then watching his chance as a wave
receded, he dropped onto the sand and at top speed made around the
projecting cliff. It extended, however, farther than he had thought, and
the returning water caught him and it was only by his exerting himself
to the utmost that he was able to grip a narrow outcrop of the rock from
the face of the cliff. Instantly he thought of his comrade, who was much
lighter than himself, and though he could swim it would not help him
much against the fierce rush of the water. A little above him there was
quite a wide ledge. This he gained as quickly as he could. Meanwhile
John Berwick had let himself through the trap door, closing it down, and
began his descent of the rope.

"Look out, John!" came Jim's voice from an unexpected quarter; "it's
dangerous around that curve. I'll fling you a rope if you don't make
it."

"Aye, aye, sir," cried the engineer; "here goes."

Then he dropped on the skirt of the retreating waves and dashed around
the promontory, but the water coming back caught him. However, he got
further than Jim because he was even quicker and more active.
Nevertheless, the charging water clutched him all the more fiercely
because of the nearness of his escape, and it took him up towards the
beach side of the cliff.

"Catch it," yelled Jim, flinging him the rope.

But to his surprise and dismay, the engineer made no effort to seize the
rope. Perhaps, thought Jim, he was already overcome, but this was not
the case. Berwick, who was an excellent swimmer, had a plan of his own,
for he was not bewildered or frightened and he had noted one or two
things even as the wave caught him. He would not catch the rope flung to
him because of the chance of dragging Jim off his perch in spite of the
latter's great strength, and then, too, he was liable to be hurled
against the cliff and be badly injured, so he let the wave carry him
back, exerting himself so as to be brought nearer the beach on the
return. Being a splendid swimmer, as has been said, he made it with a
few yards to spare between the edge of the cliff and the sand. Jim drew
a big sigh of relief when he saw his friend safe and prepared to get out
of his own difficulty. He was able by careful climbing to edge and work
his way down until at last he was within a twelve-foot leap of the
beach. This he did with ease, lighting gently in the soft sand.

"Why, John, you look damp," he said as his friend joined him. "Been in
swimming?"

"I always like to take a salt bath before eating," replied his friend;
"gives you a relish for your dinner, you know."

"By Jove, if you are going to get any more relish for your meal, I will
be hanged if I am going to pay for it," said Jim with a laugh.

"Come on," said Berwick, paying no attention to Jim's persiflage.

Away they trudged across the sandy beach towards the funny little
restaurant of two cars where they had eaten the night before. Whatever
surprise the stout German may have felt at seeing them altogether soaked
and disguisedly dirty, and likewise alive, he showed none; he was
strictly business.

"Vell, gentlemans, and vat vill you haf this time?" he inquired.

"Everything you've got," said Berwick shortly.

"A salad and after dinner coffee for my friend," put in Jim, "and I will
take"--and here Jim enumerated a bill of fare that would have done
credit to two men.

"The same for me," said the engineer, imperturbably, when James had
finished his little spiel.

"I denk you gentlemens are hungry," said Herr Scheff, as he saw a chance
to make a big profit.

"Mein Gottness!" it was the voice of Frau Scheff, "mein kindlins, you
are drowned, poor tings, come, fix you fine and gute. You go ahead and
cook dem blenty," she commanded her husband as she saw a frown on his
forehead.

He knew that tone of voice and obeyed. The two comrades followed her
into the cozy bedroom.

"I vill haf to give you mein Herr's clothes, it's all I haf," and she
smiled broadly.

"Thank you, Frau Scheff," replied Jim; "while ours are getting dry it
will give us more room to eat."

"Aye, dot is a true wort," and she laughed with a jolly, shaking
heartiness.

It was comical beyond words when they made the change in clothing,
while Frau Scheff had gone to the front to help her husband to prepare
the meal for the two guests. The engineer, who was short, was almost
lost in the voluminous trousers of mein host, and could have easily tied
them around his neck, while another pair came to half mast on the
long-legged Jim, and were much too large so that they flapped like a
sail.

"Talk about dressing for dinner, John, you ought certainly to be
pleased," said Jim with a grin.

"No time for humor," declared the engineer; "I am too weak to laugh."

At this saying, he tripped in his newly acquired garments and fell full
length, and Jim over him. They were both so exhausted from laughing they
could scarcely get up. Jim was the first to arise and he helped up the
other "end man," for that was the character the two suggested to each
other. When they got in the quaint restaurant car, the proprietor
accepted their appearance with professional gravity, only growling under
his breath, "It's a wonder Lena didn't let them have mein best suit."

What a repast the two comrades found on the little round table in the
corner, covered with a snowy cloth! Two big thick tender steaks well
garnished with potato salad, the handiwork of Frau Lena Scheff, creamed
potatoes, huge cups of delicious coffee and a grand finale of broad,
sugar-frosted, German pancakes.

By the time this feast was finished their own garments were thoroughly
dry, and as lightning change artists they appeared in their own clothes,
renewed in body as well as in appearance.

"We have fed and slept," said Berwick, "and ought to be ready for the
next move."

"Herr Scheff," questioned Jim, "do you happen to know where we can get a
good rowboat?"

This gave to his comrade some indication of what the next move would be.

"Yah! Yah! mein freund," replied the German, who felt as gracious as it
was possible for him to feel. "You go down the beach haf a mile and you
find a fisherman and him got two very nice boats."

Thanking their German acquaintance, they spoke a hearty good-by to Frau
Scheff who bade them a cheerful and affectionate farewell, making them
promise to come to the restaurant when they needed food, clothing or
shelter. The two comrades started down the beach, continuing until they
came to a sheltered cove where, in a small, ship-shape hut, they found a
weazened old fisherman who regarded them with taciturn scrutiny when
they told him what they wanted.

"For a couple of days you want my boat? All right, I charge you five
dollars."

Jim readily agreed to this.

"We haven't got much sense," exclaimed the engineer suddenly. "If we are
going on a cruise we ought to have some provisions." Jim hit his skull a
sound rap.

"Dunkerhead," he exclaimed. "I tell you, John, when we select the boat
we will row up to Frau Scheff's and lay in a supply. That must have been
my original plan, but I forgot it," concluded Jim brazenly.

Berwick threw back his head and laughed heartily.

"There is no getting away from it, Jim, you have a good opinion of
yourself."

This gave Jim a certain shock as the expression of his face showed.

"I was only joshing," he said, and there was a slight sense of hurt in
his tones that Berwick was quick to recognize.

"That's all right, old chap," he said, "your head is level."

This straightened out, they went and took a look at the old sailor's
two boats in the cove. One was painted white with a red stripe, and the
other was as black as a Venetian Gondola.

"That's a beauty," exclaimed Jim enthusiastically, looking at the lines
of her, and he pointed to the black boat.

"She oughter be, I built her myself," said the old sailor, "and I know
somethin' about boats, too."

"Got speed?" ejaculated Jim.

"Enough to burn a streak across this bay, boy."

Jim laughed good-naturedly, and the old sailor was evidently pleased
with his appreciation.



CHAPTER XXIX

A REMINISCENCE


The bargain completed, the two comrades were about to board the craft
when the old sailor of the cove interposed.

"I reckon you ain't in any sort of a hurry. If you start across the bay
now before it gets plumb dark old Bill Broome is liable to ketch yer,"
and the aged fellow gave Jim a shrewd look from under his grizzled
eyebrows.

"I guess that he wouldn't really do us any damage," replied Jim, with an
assumed carelessness.

"I should think that you would have to look out for him, yourself," put
in the engineer; "he's just as likely as not to drop in on you sometime,
and take your two boats and such ballast as you have stowed away in your
cabin, that he might take a fancy to."

"Him," said the old sailor with indescribable contempt; "why, old Bill
wouldn't come within a mile of my cabin, unless he was drug here. I had
quite a set-to with him a few years ago, and since thet time he don't
even pass the time of day with me." He was quick to see that he had
roused the deep interest of his two visitors. "Come in to my cabin,
while I smoke a pipe," he continued, "and I'll tell yer about that
fracas between old Broome and myself."

"Certainly we will come in," said the engineer; "we are in no rush that
I know of."

"Suits me," agreed Jim tersely.

They entered the cabin through a low doorway that caused Jim to stoop
his proud crest as it were. The interior was snug and cozy with
brown-hued walls and wooden beams that gave the room the appearance of a
ship's cabin. A large lamp swung from the center of the ceiling gave a
tempered light through a green shade.

There were several nautical prints upon the wall, and in front of a
small stove, wherein glowed coals through its iron teeth, lay on a rug
of woven rags a huge yellow cat stretched out at full and comfortable
length. Everything was scrupulously neat about the place, and kept in
ship-shape condition. The old man seated himself in a hacked wooden
chair with semicircular arms and a green cushion. Jim took his place on
a sea-chest, once green but now much faded, and with heavy rope handles,
while the engineer occupied the other chair. After the sailor's
wrinkled old wife had brought in some coffee for his two guests, and he
had filled his short black pipe, he began his narrative of his once-time
scrap with Captain William Broome, of unpious memory.

"That was one of the most unusual jobs I ever tackled when I took
command of the _Storm King_ for J. J. Singleton."

"That's the famous mining man, who used to live in San Francisco,"
remarked John Berwick.

"The same fellow," continued the old sailor, "and in spite of his money
he had a lot of sensible ideas. You see, old 'J. J,' as he was known
hereabouts, had three sons, the oldest seventeen, and their mother being
dead for some years he brought 'em up according as he thought best. Had
'em work in one of his mines learning to run an engine and earning their
own money. The youngest was on a big cattle ranch that the old man owned
down in the southern part of the state.

"He told the boys that when they earned a certain amount they could put
it into a steam yacht and what was lacking he would make up. Maybe those
kids didn't work hard for some years until they had what was needed. I
had been in command of one of Singleton's coasting ships and the old
man picked me to take charge of the _Storm King_, which was the fool
name of the yacht that they invested in, but there was nothing the
matter with the boat herself.

"'Teach 'em navigating, Captain,' he says to me in his final
instructions, 'and give 'em a taste of the rope's end if they ain't
sharp to obey orders.'

"But shucks, I had no trouble with them boys, they weren't like rich
men's sons, but knew what hard work meant and could obey orders as well
as give 'em. The oldest one's name was John--about your size," pointing
to Jim, "but one of those sandy complected chaps, with white eyelashes
and cool, gray eyes and no end of grit. The other two named Sam and Joe,
were active, competent lads, and they had brought with them a friend off
the cattle ranch, whom they called 'Comanche,' and I want you to know
that boy was some shot with a revolver, rifle or cannon.

"Well, the second day out was where Captain Bill Broome put in an
appearance. He was a smuggler and cutthroat in those days, and did a
little kidnaping on the side."

"He hasn't reformed yet either," put in Jim.

"Not him," agreed the narrator; "he thought that he would make a rich
haul on this occasion if he could get hold of the three Singleton boys
and hold them for ransom. As soon as I saw the long, gray _Shark_, which
I was quick to recognize, and noticed how she hung on our course, I knew
what the game was and, as she had the speed on us, I saw that it was a
case of fight or surrender. I can tell you it wasn't a pleasant
situation for me. I felt my responsibility and I didn't want to face old
Singleton if anything happened to those boys. I told 'em exactly what we
was facing, and it would warm your heart to have seen the spirit they
showed.

"The oldest one declared that their father would never give up one cent
if they surrendered until their ship sank under 'em, and I guess the lad
was right. Now we had three cannon aboard, a long, black, six pounder
mounted aft, which the boys had named 'Black Tom,' and two smaller brass
cannon forward on the bridge deck on either side. I had grinned at these
guns when they were first taken aboard, considering that they were part
of a kid game, and said to the old man that I wasn't qualified to
command a man-of-war and that we might be able to trade the brass pieces
for an island to some chief in the south seas, but now I saw that they
might come in handy, and enable us to land a few kicks in old Bill's
side even if he got us later, as was almost certain, for he was sure to
have the range on us.

"I could see a long, wicked gun that the _Shark_ carried forward, and
there were three cannon on a side; these I could make out clearly
through my glass. 'I'll navigate the ship,' I said to John Singleton,
'and you fight her.'

"'Agreed to that, sir,' he answered, gripping my hand, and I was soon to
learn that he was no kid at the fighting game either. It was now about
eleven of a clear morning, with a smooth and slightly rolling sea; the
_Shark_ was drawing up slowly and steadily, and was about five miles
astern.

"'I reckon it will be an hour and a half before she gets within range,
Captain,' said John Singleton.

"'Just about that,' I replied, wondering how he had estimated it so
closely, but he was one of the most practical chaps I ever saw.

"That will give us time for a good sound feed," remarked John. 'But I
don't feel like eating, Jack,' protested his younger brother, Sam.

"'Sure you've got to eat, Sam,' replied John; 'this game isn't going to
be anything like as fierce as what you and I have faced in the mining
camp. Take my word for it, you won't be fit for anything unless you have
a square meal.' I couldn't help but admire the way in which the lad put
heart into his brothers, and I felt confident that he would more than
hold his end up when it came to the fighting. However, it seemed to me,
the contest could end only one way and as a forlorn hope, I steered
southwest on the chance of cutting across the course of one of the
Pacific steamers, but all I succeeded in raising was the sail of a
Borkentine low down to the south and a few points west.

"About half past two that afternoon the trouble began. The _Shark_ was
nearing the half-mile limit; a long, gray boat of iron, built for speed
and stripped of all superfluous tackle.

"'They are getting ready to show their teeth,' remarked John, pointing
to a group of three men in the bow.

"Besides the men in the bow of the _Shark_, there were several in the
waist leaning over the rail and sizing up the _Storm King_ with cold and
calculating eyes.

"'Let's give 'em a shot, John,' I heard Joe urge.

"'No hurry,' replied his brother; 'don't let them worry you into wasting
any ammunition.'

"In a few minutes John Singleton turned to me, 'could you turn her
course a few points to the north, Captain?' he asked.

"'Certainly,' I replied.

"'Thank you,' responded the lad, 'I've a plan and it won't take over
five minutes.'

"Then he and his friend, Comanche, lowered one of the ship's boats on
the starboard side, where it was sheltered from the sight of the enemy
by the deck cabins just abaft the midships. In this boat were two
rifles, heavily loaded and ready for action. What the boy's scheme was I
did not foresee but it was to develop a short time later.

"Upon the quarter deck of the _Shark_ paced the figure of Captain
Broome, with his long, swinging gorilla-like arms. Suddenly he stopped,
put his hand to his mouth and shouted an order to the men in the bow of
the ship. Then came the quick move of one of the men. A flash leaped
from the mouth of the forward gun, a dull detonation, and a white cloud
of smoke curled back over the bow of the _Shark_, while the shell
plunged into the water directly in front of our prow.

"'That's for us to heave to,' cried John; 'give him our answer,
Comanche, and give it to him hard!'

"Comanche obeyed with belligerent willingness, and with an accuracy of
aim that was utterly surprising to old Bill Broome, for the round shot
struck his boat amidship, and it fell back into the water. The distance
was too great to do execution, but a yell of triumph went up from the
boys on the deck of the _Storm King_.

"'Just a little higher next time,' cried Jack Singleton; 'sweep the
rascal's decks for him.'

"It was good advice and now the fight was on, and it was like a real
naval engagement, with the constant bark of the guns, the heavy clouds
of white sulphurous smoke rolling over the quiet sea between the
combatants, and the thrusting flames from the mouths of the guns
flashing into the smoke. But the fire of the enemy was becoming more
accurate and deadly, and it was a question of only a few minutes before
a well-directed shot would completely disable us.

"'Pull down our flag, Captain,' yelled John Singleton; 'let him come
alongside.'

"It seemed to me the only thing to do, and in a couple of minutes the
long gray _Shark_ had slipped through the smoke on our portside. Old
Bill could not resist the temptation to make some remarks before he
boarded us.

"'I'd like to know, Cap'n, what you, and your parcel of kids mean by
attacking me on the high seas, me going along peaceable, just enjoying a
fishin' cruise for my health. I'll take it out of yer blasted hide for
making me this trouble, and I'll baste them pretty boys of your'n to a
finish, or my name ain't Bill Broome!'

"'Which it ain't,' I says, and I proceeded to hand him out a line of
talk that kept him eager to say something else about my character.

"You see I noticed that John and Comanche had disappeared just as the
_Shark_ hove alongside, and I intended to give them all the time I
could, and I could of yelled when I see'd John creeping up behind the
Cap'n; and the next second he had felled him with the butt of his rifle,
and Comanche had done the same for two of the men who were standing in
the waist of the ship, joining in our previous conversation.

"Well, it wasn't ten seconds before I was aboard with four of my crew
and it was no time before we had possession of that ship. Now you see
the purpose of John Singleton in lowering the boat when he did. He had
used it to slip around the stern of the _Shark_ and to slip up on Bill
Broome and his crew."

"Great work," cried Jim, in admiration, "but what did you do with 'em
when you had them caught?"

"That didn't bother us long," said the old fellow; "we didn't want their
company, and we had to fix it so they wouldn't bother us, so we put
their engines out of commission, so they had to use their small sails;
broke their cannons, and threw all their ammunition into the sea, and
left them, to their own devices."

"Where is the _Storm King_ and her crew now, Captain?" asked the
engineer with evident interest.

"Cruising down in the South Seas, I reckon."

"Some time we may run across them, eh, Chief?" questioned Jim.

"Stranger things have happened," replied Berwick with a knowing grin.

"Well, I don't intend to let John Singleton beat me at the game with our
mutual friend, Captain Broome," remarked Jim, as he rose to his feet.

"The old chap was right enough," remarked Jim, as the two of them sent
the beautiful boat over the slightly rolling waters of the gray,
sodden-hued bay towards Frau Scheff's. "If money can buy her, I am
going to own this boat. There is no telling when we might find use for
her, if we ever go down into the South Seas."

"You want something bigger than this low, black, rakish craft if you are
going to be a pirate in the South Seas," remarked Berwick caustically.

"Indeed, yes!" agreed Jim. "I'm sure going to have the _Sea Eagle_ over
yonder," and he nodded his head in the direction of the open bay.

"When Captain Broome gets done with her?" questioned Berwick slyly.

"Perhaps sooner; I dunno," said Jim gloomily.

They beached their long, low, black craft on the sands below the
restaurant of Herr and Frau Scheff, and from that base of supplies laid
in a liberal stock of provisions, enough to last for a day at least.
There was some ham, a loaf of bread, butter and an apple pie. Sauerkraut
they had to politely refuse, for, as Jim said in an aside to his friend,
"There was no disguising their trail from the enemy if they carried
that." But they had plenty of other necessities, including tea and
coffee. They were also loaned a few necessary cooking utensils, and thus
equipped, they launched out in their skiff once more.



CHAPTER XXX

JIM BOARDS THE PIRATE


"Whither away, Brother?" questioned John Berwick, as they bent gently
and rhythmically to the oars.

"I thought we might lay alongside the _Sea Eagle_, and invite Brother
Broome to surrender," suggested Jim.

"All right, I'm with you, as I can't walk ashore," replied John Berwick.

However, instead of rowing straight in the direction of the _Sea Eagle_,
Jim bent a circuitous course around her. It was now growing towards
evening and a heavy fog was rolling in even then over the sea towards
the Golden Gate. The two comrades in a short time reached the western
shore of the bay near which the _Sea Eagle_ lay anchored.

Here they rowed slowly along, looking for some place to camp. At first
the shore was high and rocky, but after rowing for nearly a mile they
came to a small inlet where a tiny stream trickled down from a hidden
spring above in the woods. There were pines and sycamore trees both, and
altogether it was a delightful place for a camp. Jim's trained eye took
it all in at a glance.

"Here's where we haul in, John," he said.

"It looks good to me," agreed Berwick.

Indeed, it was an excellent place, well sheltered, and with good water.
The rest they had with them.

"What time are you going to make your attack, Jim, my boy?" asked
Berwick.

"I fancy any time between eleven and one would do," said Jim. "That will
give us time to get in a couple of hours' sleep at least. It's just as
well to store up a little rest. There is no telling what will happen;
when we once get started it may be a week before we get another chance."

"Correct," said Berwick; "which watch shall I take, Captain?"

"The first," said Jim, "if you don't mind."

"But I do mind," said Berwick quickly, "when I'm told."

While Jim sat watching some hours later, with everything quiet except
the gentle lapping of the water along the rocky shore, his mind reverted
to the incidents of the past few hours, but quickly changed to the
distant scene of his home.

"I wish I had Jo and Tom with me, and Juarez, too; it looks to me as
though there was going to be a change of scene soon, and then we will
need 'em by way of reënforcements." He brooded thus to himself over his
home folks and the chances of the future until it was time for them to
reconnoiter the enemy if nothing else was done. "I have given John
three-quarters of an hour longer than he expected," he said as he looked
at his watch. "It is now a quarter of twelve."

Berwick responded promptly to the call of time.

"Jove!" he said, "I don't see how you can pick up the _Sea Eagle_ or
anything else in such thick weather."

"It would not be easy if we struck out direct from this inlet," replied
Jim, "but I'm going to keep along the shore to a point that I made a
note of coming in, and then row direct out; we can't lose her."

They did accordingly, but they had to row very slowly, so that Jim could
be able to make out his landmark.

"There it is," he said. "See, here is a point of rock that juts out;
there is no mistaking it."

"What is your plan?" asked the engineer.

"There is only one thing to do," replied Jim; "we are not taking this
exercise for our health. We will drop along the _Sea Eagle_, board her,
find where the señorita is, and row her ashore."

"Are you sure she is on the yacht?" queried Berwick.

"Nowhere else," replied Jim stoutly. "You don't suppose that old Broome
would leave her in the castle after the alarm we raised. The reason he
didn't search for us around the premises was because he had gone off to
hide on the _Sea Eagle_."

Nothing more was said, and they rowed slowly from the point of departure
until they saw the faint loom of the _Sea Eagle_ through the night and
fog. There was a light astern and two forward, one on the starboard and
the other on the port, while a fourth shed a dim light from the
masthead.

There was no sound, whatever, and no figure in sight, which was not
remarkable, considering you could see no distance whatever on account of
the thick fog, but Jim was seaman enough to know that there was sure to
be someone on the bridge, and a watch forward. Berwick brought the boat
gently along the side near the stern rail and Jim was aboard in a jiffy.
Then the engineer pushed off for a few feet where he and the black boat
could not be seen, and waited in ambush for what might happen. He
believed that Jim stood a good chance to rescue the señorita, a much
better chance, in fact, than when she was held captive in the castle.
Once get her into the boat and they, too, would make sure of her safety.

Jim felt a thrill as he once more set foot on the well-known deck. He
felt strong enough to take her back single-handed, and what would he not
have given to be on the bridge again, with Jo and the rest of the old
crew on deck, and the _Sea Eagle_ pushing her nose out through the
Golden Gate, heading for the enchanted regions of the tropic seas.

But Jim took only a moment for such romancing. There was grim and hard
work ahead before he could ever be master of his own boat again. He knew
the ship as a hand does a glove, and in this there was a great
advantage. He cautiously tried the doors of the staterooms on the upper
deck. In one he made out the lean figure of the second mate in his bunk,
sound asleep. At that moment he saw the door of the captain's cabin
open. Jim glided aft and crouched low near the capstan, where he was
hard to be distinguished from a coil of rope.

He saw the squat figure of Captain Broome with the long, swinging,
gorilla-like arms revealed in the light which shone from the interior of
the cabin, and then he slammed the door and strolled forward towards
the bridge. Jim held his breath, hoping he would not come his way.

When the old pirate had disappeared, Jim completed his search of the
deck staterooms, but the señorita was in none of them. The only thing
that remained for Jim was to search the rooms leading from the main
saloon below. He rather mistrusted going down there, and he had most
sincerely hoped that the girl would be in one of the deck rooms, then
his task would have been comparatively easy, but it seemed as if luck
was breaking against him.

He went cautiously but quickly along the deck until he reached the
stairway leading down into the cabin. There was the large lamp lit in
the saloon, but turned very low. As he cautiously descended into the
saloon his heart went into his throat at the sight of the gaunt woman
with the red hair who had been the señorita's jailer in the castle. She
was apparently asleep on one of the divans, but Jim would have much
rather seen anyone else on guard than this redoubtable woman whose
vigilance had been his undoing before. It might have been possible to
have outwitted or defeated a man, but he really was in some awe of this
Amazon.

The first thing for Jim to do was to determine which of the four cabins
opening off the saloon was the prison of the señorita. He could not go
from one to the other opening the doors, for the woman on guard would be
sure to hear, nor could he say after the manner of children, "My mother
told me to take this one."

It was like the suitor of Portia in the "Merchant of Venice," who was
forced to choose his fate from one of three chests with misleading
mottoes on them. But there was no time to lose. Should he take a chance?
There seemed no other way. However, Jim was an experienced scout, as the
reader well knows, and his skill could be put to use inside of walls as
well as out on the desert or in the pathless mountains, where he might
be searching for some obscure trail.

He crawled over the heavily carpeted floor on his hands and knees to the
first door, but he found no trace to guide him. The second seemed to
reward his scrutiny, for the nap of the rug showed the imprint of feet
and the brass knob of the door was somewhat tarnished.

At that moment he heard the sound of heavy feet upon the stairway. He
knew that tread; he had heard it before. There was no hiding-place
except under the hanging of the heavy tablecloth, and with a quiet
celerity, Jim slid under its protection just as the woman stirred from
the divan, and then the captain's heavy, growling voice made itself
heard as he came down into the saloon.

"I'm going to pull anchor out of here to-morrow, Ann," said the skipper;
"it's jest about time."

"What hour, Brother?" asked the woman.

This startled Jim, who had not guessed that this woman was any relation
of the redoubtable Bill Broome, and that so human a word as "Brother"
could be applied to the old pirate had never entered his head. This
rawboned woman was quite the equal of her brother, and her life had
brought out that hardness and cruelty that is latent only too often in
the New England character.

To her question the captain replied, "Not later than four if we are to
get clear. I'm going into Frisco on a little business first."

"Do we take the gal?" questioned the woman, following his thought in
some obscure way.

"Then she is here," mused Jim.

"Part way, anyhow," he rumbled in his harsh voice. "Every day of bother
getting rid of her brings up her price."

Jim felt the hot blood of rage warm the roots of his hair. The
cold-blooded cruelty and calculation of it made him long to get hold of
the old codger. Perhaps he would in a moment.

"Git me something to eat, Ann, old gal," he said. "I'd better begin to
lay in ballast for to-morrow."

The captain took his seat at the table, and put his feet squarely on the
unsuspected Jim. Then came the explosion.

"By tarnation thunder, there's somebody under thar," he exclaimed,
rising to his feet.

Jim crawled from under as quick as he could, and with a sense of sullen
fury he saw the game was up for a second time. If he had cared to escape
without striking a blow he did not have a chance. As he emerged the
captain was on his back with all the ferocity of a hyena.

"It's that blasted young beggar again," he yelled. "We'll do him good
this time."



CHAPTER XXXI

THE END, A NEW START


Jim, well fed and rested, was up to his full strength, and to this was
added his fierce anger against the captain. Not on his own personal
account, but because of his heartless cruelty towards the captive girl
whom he had in his power and was holding for ransom. With a twist Jim
got hold of the back of Captain Bill Broome's neck, and by means of a
mighty wrench he got the old wretch around in front of him, breaking
free from his hold. Jim sent him staggering back.

As the captain, regaining his footing, rushed forward like an enraged
bull, Jim Darlington measured him with a crashing blow on the jaw that
sent him dazed against a sharp edge of woodwork that cut his scalp and
laid him out for the moment. Drawn by the racket, the first and second
mate came tumbling down, and joined in the attack, but Jim knew a trick
or two about boxing and surprised them with lightning blows that they
did not know how to block. He was hampered, however, by a lack of space.
Nevertheless, as they came to close quarters, jarred and bleeding, Jim
was able to fling them off, the sinews of his powerful frame working in
perfect unison.

Just at the moment he was free, he stumbled over the prostrate body of
the captain, who thus accomplished more by his prone position than when
he was on his feet and in the midst of the fray. At this juncture, the
Amazon sister jumped into the fight. She had run up on deck for a
purpose, when the fight started, and returned with a marlin spike. Jim
was so involved with the two mates for a few brief seconds that he did
not see her, and would not have paid much attention if he had, he was so
full of the struggle in hand.

As Jim stumbled, before he could regain his feet, the woman brought down
the marlin spike with a glancing blow on the side of his head. The boy
dropped as though dead. There was no doubt of the strength of the
captain's sister. She was evidently more than a match for any man
aboard, and it was little wonder that the youth lay like a log, the
blood streaming from a cut on the side of his head. He had not heard the
shriek of the señorita as she threw open the door of her cabin prison
and saw Jim lying almost at her feet.

As she stooped to his help (she was no hysterical girl to faint at the
sight of blood), she was thrust violently back, after a short struggle,
by the captain's sister, and locked in the cabin. However, she did not
weep or wring her hands, but she became suddenly, even ominously quiet,
her eyes shining in the pallor of her face with a luminous light.
Meanwhile, there was a council of war outside in the cabin as to the
disposal of their prostrate enemy.

Old Captain Broome had recovered enough to enable him to stand up,
holding on to the table, but he was still swaying somewhat, and was an
ugly looking customer with his cut face.

"Better put him in the hold until we get out to sea," said the Amazon
sister.

"I reckon he's done for this time," said the captain; "he oughter be if
you gave him one of your love taps, Anne," he concluded, with a ghastly
grin.

The woman bent down and coolly felt the boy's pulse, and pushed back the
lids of his eyes, with no more show of feeling than if he had not been a
human being.

"He ain't quite done for," she said, getting to her feet.

"Then he will be, durn soon," declared the old captain venomously.
"Here, Bill, you and Gus take him up on deck and throw him over. That
sure will finish him. One of you take his feet and t'other his head, and
Ann will give you a hist up the stairs. I'm too joggled to help any, but
I will give him my blessing as he goes over, that is, if you don't feel
too squeamish to do it."

The two mates laughed at this with great heartiness.

"I will say this for that young feller, he was some fighter," remarked
Bill. "I have handled some hard specimens in my time, but he was the
toughest yet. He handed me and Gus a couple of cuffs that made our jaws
wobble."

They got the limp figure up the stairs with the Amazon's help, but she
did not follow, but went below to get her brother something to eat as
his strenuous day had begun, and he stood in need of immediate ballast.
The scene just enacted might have been a daily occurrence from her
perfect indifference, as indeed scenes of violence no doubt were, but
none of the men could equal her in _sangfroid_.

Now they were on deck. Which way would they turn, to the right or left
rail. They did not know it, but it would make all the difference in the
world which side they would choose.

"I tell you, boys, you can throw him overboard in front of my cabin;
that would just suit me to the ground," said the captain.

"Aye, aye, sir," replied the amiable pair of mates.

It was accomplished in short order. There was a heave of the shoulders,
and then a heavy splash into the dark waters beneath. No one heard or
heeded a low wailing cry from the prisoner in the cabin. She knew what
had happened. She flung the small port hole open as Jim fell and the
water from the impact splashed into her face. Then to her unspeakable
relief she saw a black boat glide to where the figure came up, and she
saw that he was in safe hands.

With a quick motion she knotted her daintily-scented handkerchief and
tossed it into the boat as it swept by. It had her monogram on it, and
the engineer was quick to seize the handkerchief as well as the import
of it.

"I will give it to him, Señorita," he said in a low voice. Then the boat
was one with the darkness, and was gone from her sight, but she was
happy knowing that Jim was safe. She was not thinking of herself and her
own danger at the time, as is the way of some women.

John Berwick, the engineer, had had an anxious time while Jim had been
conducting his séance on board the ship, and it was his prompt action
that had saved his friend. It was some luck, too, that the three rascals
aboard had not sighted the slender dark boat, but they were dazed
somewhat, due to the effect of Jim's fierce attack upon them, and
likewise the two comrades deserved a little luck considering how
fortunate their enemies had been of late.

Berwick lost no time in pulling for the shore, and had no difficulty in
finding the outjutting rock which was the point of departure.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a full two hours before Berwick could bring Jim fully around, and
then the latter sat by a bright camp fire in the cove, pale and drawn,
with a handkerchief tied around his injured head. He was drinking some
coffee, but as yet he could not eat anything.

"Who was the guy, John, who first called women the weaker sex?" inquired
Jim, in a faint and injured tone.

"Some chump who probably died a sadder and a wiser man," replied his
friend.

"I only wish the gentle Annie back there had given him a tap with the
shillalah," remarked Jim.

Finally, by the time the fog thickened, Jim was himself once more and
the two comrades had determined upon their course. They had this
advantage in that they knew, from what Jim had overheard, something of
the immediate plans of Captain Bill Broome and his evil crew, and what
actually occurred will be fully and graphically told in the "Frontier
Boys in the South Seas." Furthermore, at this particular time, the
captain believed his enemy drowned beyond all possibility of a doubt;
therefore, he would not be on his guard against him in the future, and
would know of no need to hurry his departure.

"All aboard now, John," said Jim. He rose stiffly to his feet. "We will
row across the bay to the city and charter a fast craft to follow these
beggars. I guess there will be a surprise in store for those blooming
pirates in a few days."

"We are short of cash, Captain," remarked John; "I don't see how we are
going to get a boat."

"Trust to luck," said Jim; "it is coming our way I tell you. That was
the break when I wasn't drowned this morning."

It came out, the luck part, as Jim said, and yet it was nothing so
remarkable, for as they had rowed some distance on their way and were
between the shore and the _Sea Eagle_, John Berwick suddenly stopped at
a gesture from Jim.

"Hold on," he whispered, "there is a boat coming our way."

Sure enough, in half a minute a rapidly propelled boat shot into their
circle of the fog. It was pulled by two powerful Hawaiians and heading
for the _Sea Eagle_. In the stern sat the humped and well-known and
sinister figure of the Mexican dwarf.

"Halt, there," cried Jim. The two Hawaiians obeyed with indifferent good
nature.

"None of that, Manuel," yelled Jim, as the Mexican started to draw, and
himself leveling a revolver which they had captured in the castle. It is
true it had but one cartridge in it, but that was enough with Jim at the
directing end of it.

The Mexican wilted as he saw the game was up, and his transfer was
quickly made. Then Jim after a hasty and vigorous search, with a yell of
triumph, unbuckled his treasure belt which the Mexican had stolen from,
him on the train.

"What did I tell you about our luck, John, old boy?" cried Jim. "You
boys come along with us," he continued, speaking to the Hawaiians; "we
give you good pay and treat you right."

"Yes, yes," they agreed smilingly, adding, "Wele ke hau." This was their
native phrase of enthusiasm; in other words, their college yell.

So they took the place of the oarsmen in the black boat, and trailed the
other behind. They rowed with splendid speed and precision towards the
city. The Mexican laid in the bottom of the boat at Jim's feet, securely
tied. The tables were turned, indeed.

I need not weary you with the business details by which Jim Darlington
and the engineer got the boat they wanted, nor how they were joined by
Tom, Jo and Juarez, but at three o'clock one fair day the _Sea Eagle_
glided gracefully through the Golden Gate and turned her prow to the
southwest, and in due time thereafter a slender but powerfully engined
black boat slipped through to the open sea and on the trail.

And now, Jim Darlington, and your crew, the best of good luck go with
you, for we know you all of old, and we like you. Vale.





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