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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

Title: A Man to His Mate
Author: Dunn, J. Allan, (Joseph Allan), 1872-1941
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 "A Man to His Mate" ***

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



A MAN TO HIS MATE


[Illustration: The sea struck the opposite rail with a roar]



A Man to His Mate

_by_

J. ALLAN DUNN


AUTHOR OF
Jim Morse--Adventurer, Turquoise Canyon,
Dead Man's Gold, etc.


_Illustrated by_
STOCKTON MULFORD


INDIANAPOLIS
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
PUBLISHERS



COPYRIGHT 1920
THE FRANK A. MUNSEY COMPANY

COPYRIGHT 1920
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY


_Printed in the United States of America_


PRESS OF
BRAUNWORTH & CO.
BOOK MANUFACTURERS
BROOKLYN. N. Y.



_To_
J. E. DE RUYTER, ESQUIRE
this yarn is affectionately and
appreciatively dedicated



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

I      BLIND SAMSON                                                    1

II     A DIVIDED COMPANY                                              25

III    TARGET PRACTISE                                                47

IV     THE BOWHEAD                                                    73

V      RAINEY SCORES                                                  82

VI     SANDY SPEAKS                                                   96

VII    RAINEY MAKES DECISION                                         117

VIII   TAMADA TALKS                                                  132

IX     THE POT SIMMERS                                               151

X      THE SHOW-DOWN                                                 163

XI     HONEST SIMMS                                                  186

XII    DEMING BREAKS AN ARM                                          210

XIII   THE RIFLE CARTRIDGES                                          230

XIV    PEGGY SIMMS                                                   241

XV     SMOKE                                                         266

XVI    THE MIGHT OF NIPPON                                           277

XVII   MY MATE                                                       293

XVIII  LUND'S LUCK                                                   332



A Man to His Mate



CHAPTER I

BLIND SAMSON


It was perfect weather along the San Francisco water-front, and Rainey
reacted to the brisk touch of the trade-wind upon his cheek, the breeze
tempering the sun, bringing with it a tang of the open sea and a hint of
Oriental spices from the wharves. He whistled as he went, watching a
lumber coaster outward bound. The dull thump of a heavy cane upon the
timbered walk and the shuffle of uncertain feet warned him from
blundering into a man tapping his way along the Embarcadero, a giant who
halted abruptly and faced him, leaning on the heavy stick.

"Matey," asked the giant, "could you put a blind man in the way of
finding the sealin' schooner _Karluk_?"

The voice fitted its owner, Rainey thought--a basso voice tempered to
the occasion, a deep-sea voice that could bellow above the roar of a
gale if needed. For all his shoregoing clothes and shuffle, the man was
certainly a sailor, or had been. All the skin uncovered by cloth or hair
was weathered to leather, the great hands curled in as if they clutched
an invisible rope. He wore dark glasses with side lenses, over which
heavy brows projected in shaggy wisps of red hair.

Blind as the man proclaimed himself with voice and action, Rainey sensed
something back of those colored glasses that seemed to be appraising
him, almost as if the will of the man was peering, or listening, focused
through those listless sockets. A kind of magnetism, not at all
attractive, Rainey decided, even as he offered help and information.

"You're not fifty yards from the _Karluk_," Rainey replied. "But you're
bound in the wrong direction. Let me put you right. I'm going that way
myself."

"That's kind of ye, matey," said the other. "But I picked ye for that
sort, hearin' you whistlin' as you came swingin' along. Light-hearted, I
thinks, an' young, most likely; he'll help a stranded man. Give me the
touch of yore arm, matey, an' I'll stow this spar of mine."

He swung about, slinging the curving handle of the stick over his right
elbow as the fingers of his left hand placed themselves on Rainey's
proffered arm. Strong fingers, almost vibrant with a force manifest
through serge and linen. Fingers that could grip like steel upon
occasion.

Rainey wonderingly sized up his consort. The stranger's bulk was
enormous. Rainey was well over the average himself, but he was only a
stripling beside this hulk, this stranded hulk, of manhood. And, for all
the spectacled eyes and shuffling feet, there was a stamp of coordinated
strength about the giant that bespoke the blind Samson. Given eyes,
Rainey could imagine him agile as a panther, strong as a bear.

His weight was made up of thews and sinews, spare and solid flesh
without an ounce of waste, upon a mighty skeleton. His face was
heavy-bearded in hair of flaming, curling red, from high cheek-bones
down out of sight below the soft loose collar of his shirt. The bridge
of his glasses rested on the outcurve of a nose like the beak of an
osprey, the ends of the wires looped about ears that lay close to the
head, hairy about the inner-curves, lobeless, the tips suggesting the
ear-tips of a satyr.

Mouth and jaw were hidden, but the beard could not deny the bold
projection of the latter. About thirty, Rainey judged him. Buffeted by
time and weather, but in the prime of his strength.

"Snow-blinded, matey," said the man. "North o' Point Barrow, a year an'
more ago. Brought me up all standin'. What are you? Steamer man? Purser,
maybe?"

"Newspaperman," answered Rainey. "Water-front detail. For the _Times_."

"You don't say so, matey? A writer, eh?"

Again Rainey felt the tug of that something back of the dark lenses,
some speculation going on in the man's mind concerning him. And he felt
the firm fingers contract ever so slightly, sinking into the muscles of
his forearm for a second with a hint of how they could bruise and
paralyze at will. Once more a faint sense of revulsion fought with his
natural inclination to aid the handicapped mariner, and he shook it off.

"The _Karluk_ sails to-morrow," he said.

"Aye, so--so they told me, matey. You've bin aboard?"

"I had a short talk with Captain Simms when she docked. Not much of a
yarn. She didn't have a good trip, you know."

"Why, I didn't know. But--hold hard a minnit, will ye? You see, Simms is
an old shipmate of mine. He don't dream I'm within a hundred miles o'
here. Aye, or a thousand." He gave a deep-chested chuckle. "Now, then,
matey, look here."

Rainey was anchored by the compelling grip. They stood next to the slip
in which the sealer lay. The _Karluk's_ decks were deserted, though
there was smoke coming from the galley stovepipe.

"Simms is likely to be aboard," went on the other. "Ye see, I know his
ways. An' I've come a long trip to see him. Nigh missed him. Only got in
from Seattle this mornin'. He ain't expectin' me, an' it's in my mind to
surprise him. By way of a joke. I don't want to be announced, ye see.
Just drop in on him. How's the deck? Clear?"

"No one in sight," said Rainey.

"Fine! Mates an' crew down the Barb'ry Coast, I reckon. Sealers have
liberties last shore-day. Like whalers. I've buried a few irons myself,
matey, but I'll never sight the vapor of a right whale ag'in. Stranded,
I am. So you'll do me a favor, matey, an' pilot me down into the cabin,
if so be the skipper's there. If he ain't, I'll wait for him. I've got
the right an' run o' the _Karluk's_ cabin. I know ev'ry inch of her.
You'll see when we go aboard. Let's go."

Rainey led him down the gangway to the deck of the sealer, still
cluttered a bit with unstowed gear. Once on board, the blind man seemed
to walk with assurance, guiding himself with touches here and there that
showed his familiarity with the vessel's rig. And he no longer shuffled,
but walked lightly, grinning at Rainey through his beard, with one blunt
forefinger set to his mouth as he approached the cabin skylight, lifted
on the port side. Through it came the murmur of voices. The blind man
nodded in satisfaction and widened his grin with a warning "hush-h" to
his guide.

"We'll fool 'em proper," he lipped rather than uttered.

The companion doors were closed, but they opened noiselessly. The stairs
were carpeted with corrugated rubber that muffled all sound. Two men sat
at the cabin table, leaning forward, hands and forearms outstretched,
fingering something. One Rainey recognized as the captain, Simms--a
heavy, square-built man, gray-haired, clean-shaven, his flesh tanned,
yet somehow unhealthy, as if the bronze was close to tarnishing. There
were deep puffs under the gray tired eyes.

The other was younger, tall, nervously active, with dark eyes and a dark
mustache and beard, the latter trimmed to a Vandyke. Between them was a
long slim sack of leather, a miner's poke. It was half full of something
that stuffed its lower extremity solid, without doubt the same substance
that glistened in the mouth of the sack and the palms of the two
men--gold--coarse dust of gold!

Rainey felt himself thrust to one side as the blind man straddled across
the bottom of the companionway, towering in the cabin while he thrust
his stick with a thump on the floor and thundered, in a bellow that
seemed to fill the place and come tumbling back in deafening echo:

"_Karluk_ ahoy!"

The face of Captain Simms paled, the tan turned to a sickly gray, and
his jaw dropped. Rainey saw fear come into his eyes. His companion did
not stir a muscle except for the quick shift of his glance, but went on
sitting at the table, the gold in one palm, the fingers of his other
hand resting on the grains.

"Jim Lund!" gasped the captain hoarsely.

"That's me, you skulking sculpin? Thought I was bear meat by this,
didn't you, blast yore rotten soul to hell! But I'm back, Bill Simms.
Back, an' this time you don't slip me!"

Jim Lund's face was purple-red with rage, great veins standing out upon
it so swollen that it seemed they must surely burst and discharge their
congested contents. Out of the purpling flesh his scarlet hair curled in
diabolical effect. His teeth gleamed through his beard, strong, yellow,
far apart. He looked, Rainey thought, like a blind Berserker, restrained
only by his affliction.

"You left me blind on the floe, Bill Simms!" he roared. "Blind, in a
drivin' blizzard with the ice breakin' up! If I didn't have use for
yore carcass I'd twist yore head from yore scaly body like I'd pull up a
carrot."

Lund's fingers opened and closed convulsively. Before Rainey the vision
of the threatened crime rose clear.

"I looked for you, Jim," pleaded the captain, and to Rainey his words
lacked conviction. "I didn't know you were blind. I heard you shout just
before the blizzard broke loose."

Lund answered with an inarticulate roar.

"And there's others present, Jim. I can explain it to you when we're by
ourselves. When you're a mite calmer, Jim."

Lund banged his stick down on the table with a smashing blow that made
the man with the Vandyke beard, still silent, keenly observant, draw
back his arm with a catlike swiftness that only just evaded the stroke.
The heavy wood landed fairly on the filled half of the poke and caused
some of the gold to leap out of the mouth.


[Illustration: "What's that I hit?" asked Lund]


"What's that I hit?" asked Lund. "Soft, like a rat." He lunged forward,
felt for the poke, and found it, lifted it, hefted it, his forehead
puckered with deep seams, discovered the open end, poured out some of
the colors on one palm, and used that for a mortar, grinding at the
grains with his finger for a pestle, still weighing the stuff with a
slight up-and-down movement of his hand.

He nodded as he slipped the poke into a side pocket, and the cabin grew
very silent. Lund's face was grimly terrible. Rainey could have gone
when the blind man reached for the gold and left the ladder clear. He
had meant to go at the first opportunity, but now he was held fascinated
by what was about to happen, and Lund stepped back across the
companionway.

"So," said Lund, his deep voice muffled by some swift restraint. "You
found it. And yo're going back after more?" His forehead was still
creased with puzzlement. "Wal, I'm going with ye, eyes or no eyes, an'
I'll keep tabs on ye, Bill Simms, by day and night. You can lay to that,
you slimy-hearted swab!"

His voice had risen again. Rainey saw the sweat standing out on the
captain's forehead as he answered:

"Of course you'll come, Jim. No need for you to talk this way."

"No need to talk! By the eternal, what I've got to say's bin steamin' in
me for fourteen months o' blackness, an' it's comin' out, now it's
started! Who's this man, who was talkin' with ye when I come aboard?"

He wheeled directly toward the man with the Vandyke, who still sat
motionless, apparently calm, looking on as if at a play that might turn
out to be either comedy or tragedy.

"That's Doctor Carlsen. He's to be surgeon this trip, Jim," said Simms
deprecatingly, though he darted a look at Rainey half suspicious, half
resentful.

Rainey, on the hint, turned toward the ladder quietly enough, but Lund
had nipped him by the biceps before Rainey had taken a step.

"You'll stay right here," said Lund, "while I tell you an' this Doc
Carlsen what kind of a man Simms is, with his poke full of gold and me
with the price of my last meal spent two hours ago. I won't spin out the
yarn.

"I rescued an Aleut off a bit of a berg one time. There warn't much of
him left to rescue. Hands an' feet an' nose was frozen so he lost 'em,
but the pore devil was grateful, an' he told me something. Told about an
island north of Bering Strait, west of Kotzebue Sound, where there was
gold on the beach richer and thicker than it ever lay at Nome. I makes
for it, gits close enough for my Aleut to recognize it--it ain't an easy
place to forget for one who has eyes--an' then we're blown south, an' we
git into ice an' trouble. The Aleut dies, an' I lose my ship. But I was
close enough to get the reckonin' of that island.

"Finally I land at Seattle, broke. I meet up with the man they call
Hardluck Simms. Also they called him Honest Simms those days. Some said
his honesty accounted for his hard luck. I like him, an' I finally tell
him about my island. I put up the reckonin', an' he supplies the
_Karluk_, grub, an' crew.

"Simms' luck is still ag'in' him. The _Karluk_ gits into ice, gits
nipped an' carried north, 'way north, with wind an' current, frozen
tight in a floe. It looks like we've got to winter there. Mind ye, I've
given Honest Simms the reckonin' of the island. We go out on the ice
after bear, though the weather's threatenin', for we're short of meat.
An' we kill a Kadiak bear. Me--I'll never stand for the shootin' of
another bear if I can stop it.

"I've bin havin' trouble with my eyes. Right along. I'm on the floe not
eighty yards from Simms. No, not sixty! It was me killed the bear, an'
we're goin' back to the schooner for a sled. I stayed behind to bleed
the brute. All of a sudden, like it always hits you, snow-blindness gits
me, an' I shouts to Honest Simms. I'm blind, with my eyeballs on fire,
an' the fire burnin' back inter my brain.

"Along comes a Point Arrow blister. That's a gale that breeds an' bursts
of a second out of nowhere. It gathers up all the loose snow an' ice
crystals an' drives 'em in a whirlwind. Presently the wind starts the
ice to buckin' an' tremblin' like a jelly under you, splitting inter
lanes. You lose yore direction even when you got eyes. I'm left in it by
that bilge-blooded skunk, blind on the rockin', breakin' floe, while he
scuds back to the schooner with his men. That's Honest Simms! Jim Lund's
left behind but Honest Simms has the position of the island."

"I didn't hear you call out you were blind, Lund. The wind blew your
words away. I didn't know but what you were as right as the rest of us.
The gale shut us all out from each other. We found the schooner by sheer
luck before we perished. We looked for you--but the floe was broken up.
We looked--"

"Shut up!" bellowed Lund. "You sailed inside of twenty-four hours,
Honest Simms. The natives told me so later, when I could understand talk
ag'in. D'ye know what saved me? The bear! I stumbled over the carcass
when I was nigh spent. I ripped it up and clawed some of the warm guts,
an' climbed inside the bloody body an' stayed there till it got cold an'
clamped down over me. Waitin' for you to come an' git me, Honest Simms!

"That bear was bed and board to me until the natives found it, an' me in
it, more dead than alive. Never mind the rest. I get here the day before
you start back for more gold.

"An' I'm goin' with you. But first I'm goin' to have a full an' fair
accountin' o' what you got already. I've got this young chap with me,
an' he'll give me a hand to'ard a square deal."

Lund propelled Rainey forward a few steps and then loosened his grip.
The captain of the _Karluk_ appealed to him directly.

"You're with the _Times_," he said. All through the talk Rainey was
conscious of the gaze of Doctor Carlsen, whose dark eyes appeared to be
mocking the whole proceedings, looking on with the air of a man watching
card-play with a prevision of how the game will come out.

"Mr. Lund is unstrung," said the captain. "He is under the delusion that
we deliberately deserted him and, later, found the gold he speaks of.
The first charge is nonsense. We did all that was possible in the
frightful weather. We barely saved the ship.

"As for the gold, we touched on the island, and we did some prospecting,
a very little, before we were driven offshore. The dust in the poke is
all we secured. We are going back for more, quite naturally. I can prove
all this to you by the log. It is manifestly not doctored, for we
imagined Mr. Lund dead. If we had been able to work the beach
thoroughly, nothing would tempt me into going back again to add to even
a moderate fortune."

Lund had been standing with his great head thrust forward as if
concentrating all his remaining senses in an attempt to judge the
captain's talk. The doctor sat with one leg crossed, smoking a
cigarette, his expression sardonic, sphinxlike. To Rainey, a little
bewildered at being dragged into the affair, and annoyed at it, Captain
Simms' words rang true enough. He did not know what to say, whether to
speak at all. Lund supplied the gap.

"If that ain't the truth, you lie well, Simms," he said. "But I don't
trust ye. You lie when you say you didn't hear me call out I was blind.
Sixty yards away, I was, an' the wind hadn't started. I was afraid--yes,
afraid--an' I yelled at the top of my lungs. An' you sailed off inside
of twenty-four hours."

"Driven off."

"I don't believe ye. You deserted me--left me blind, tucked in the
bloody, freezin' carcass of a bear. Left me like the cur you are. Why,
you--"

The rising frenzy of Lund's voice was suddenly broken by the clear note
of a girl's voice. One of two doors in the after-end of the main cabin
had opened, and she stood in the gap, slim, yellow-haired, with gray
eyes that blazed as they looked on the little tableau.

"Who says my father is a cur?" she demanded. "You?" And she faced Lund
with such intrepid challenge in her voice, such stinging contempt, that
the giant was silenced.

"I was dressing," she said, "or I would have come out before. If you say
my father deserted you, you lie!"

Captain Simms turned to her. Doctor Carlsen had risen and moved toward
her. Rainey wished he was on the dock. Here was a story breaking that
was a _saga_ of the North. He did not want to use it, somehow. The
girl's entrance, her vivid, sudden personality forbade that. He felt an
intruder as her eyes regarded him, standing by Lund's side in apparent
sympathy with him, arrayed against her father. And yet he was not
certain that Lund had not been betrayed. The remembrance of the first
look in the captain's face when he had glanced up from handling the gold
and seen Lund was too keen.

"Go into your cabin, Peggy," said the captain. "This is no place for
you. I can handle the matter. Lund has cause for excitement; but I can
satisfy him."

Lund stood frozen, like a pointer on scent, all his faculties united in
attention toward the girl. To Rainey he seemed attempting to visualize
her by sheer sense of hearing, by perceptions quickened in the blind.
The doctor crossed to the girl and spoke to her in a low voice.

Lund spoke, and his voice was suddenly mild.

"I didn't know there was a lady present, miss," he said. "Yore father's
right. You let us settle this. We'll come to an agreement."

But, for all his swift change to placability, there was a sinister
undertone to his voice that the girl seemed to recognize. She hesitated
until her father led her back into the cabin.

"You two'll sit down?" said the doctor, speaking aloud for the first
time, his voice amiable, carefully neutral. "And we'll have a drop of
something. Mr. Lund, I can understand your attitude. You've suffered a
great deal. But you have misunderstood Captain Simms. I have heard about
this from him, before. He has no desire to cheat you. He is rejoiced to
see you alive, though afflicted. He is still Honest Simms, Mr. Lund.

"I haven't your name, sir," he went on pleasantly, to Rainey. "The
captain said you were a newspaperman?"

"John Rainey, of the _Times_. I knew nothing of this before I came
aboard."

"And you will understand, of course, what Mr. Lund overlooked in his
natural agitation, that this is not a story for your paper. We should
have a fleet trailing us. We must ask your confidence, Mr. Rainey."

There was a strong personality in the doctor, Rainey realized. Not the
blustering, driving force of Lund, but a will that was persistent,
powerful. He did not like the man from first appearances. He was too
aloof, too sardonic in his attitudes. But his manner was friendly
enough, his voice compelling in its suggestion that Rainey was a man to
be trusted. Captain Simms came back into the cabin, closing the door of
his daughter's room.

"We are going to have a little drink together," said the doctor. "I
have some Scotch in my cabin. If you'll excuse me for a moment? Captain,
will you get some glasses, and a chair for Mr. Lund?"

The captain looked at Rainey a little uncertainly, and then at Lund,
whose aggressiveness seemed to have entirely departed. It was Rainey who
got the chair for the latter and seated himself. He would join in a
friendly drink and then be well shut of the matter, he told himself.

And he would promise not to print the story, or talk of it. That was
rotten newspaper craft, he supposed, but he was not a first-class man,
in that sense. He let his own ethics interfere sometimes with his pen
and what the paper would deem its best interests. And this was a whale
of a yarn.

But it was true that its printing would mean interference with the
_Karluk's_ expedition. And there was the girl. Rainey was not going to
forget the girl. If the _Karluk_ ever came back? But then she would be
an heiress.

Rainey pulled himself up for a fool at the way his thoughts were racing
as the doctor came back with a bottle of Scotch whisky and a siphon. The
captain had set out glasses and a pitcher of plain water from a rack.

"I imagine you'll be the only one who'll take seltzer, Mr. Rainey," said
the doctor pleasantly, passing the bottle. "Captain Simms, I know, uses
plain water. Siphons are scarce at sea. I suppose Mr. Lund does the
same. And I prefer a still drink."

"Plain water for mine," said Lund.

"We're all charged," said the doctor. "Here's to a better
understanding!"

"Glad to see you aboard, Mr. Rainey," said the captain.

Lund merely grunted.

Rainey took a long pull at his glass. The cabin was hot, and he was
thirsty. The seltzer tasted a little flat--or the whisky was of an
unusual brand, he fancied. And then inertia suddenly seized him. He lost
the use of his limbs, of his tongue, when he tried to call out. He saw
the doctor's sardonic eyes watching him as he strove to shake off a
lethargy that swiftly merged into dizziness.

Dimly he heard the scrape of the captain's chair being pushed back. From
far off he heard Lund's big voice booming, "Here, what's this?" and the
doctor's cutting in, low and eager; then he collapsed, his head falling
forward on his outstretched arms.



CHAPTER II

A DIVIDED COMPANY


It was not the first time that Rainey had been on a ship, a sailing
ship, and at sea. Whenever possible his play-hours had been spent on a
little knockabout sloop that he owned jointly with another man, both of
them members of the Corinthian Club. While the _Curlew_ had made no
blue-water voyages, they had sailed her more than once up and down the
California coast on offshore regattas and pleasure-trips, and, lacking
experience in actual navigation, Rainey was a pretty handy sailorman for
an amateur.

So, as he came out of the grip of the drug that had been given him,
slowly, with a brain-pan that seemed overstuffed with cotton and which
throbbed with a dull persistent ache--with a throat that seemed to be
coated with ashes, strangely contracted--a nauseated stomach--eyes that
saw things through a haze--limbs that ached as if bruised--the sounds
that beat their way through his sluggish consciousness were familiar
enough to place him almost instantly and aid his memory's flickering
film to reel off what had happened.

As he lay there in a narrow bunk, watching the play of light that came
through a porthole beyond his line of vision, noting in this erratic
shuttling of reflected sunlight the roll and pitch of cabin walls,
listening to the low boom of waves followed by the swash alongside that
told him the _Karluk_ was bucking heavy seas, a slow rage mastered him,
centered against the doctor with the sardonic smile and Captain Simms,
who Rainey felt sure had tacitly approved of the doctor's actions.

He remembered Lund's exclamation of, "Here, what's this?"--the question
of a blind man who could not grasp what was happening--and acquitted
him.

They had deliberately kidnapped him, shanghaied him, because they did
not choose to trust him, because they thought he might print the story
of the island treasure beach in his paper, or babble of it and start a
rush to the new strike of which he had seen proof in the gold dust
streaming from the poke.

He had been willing to suppress the yarn, Rainey reflected bitterly, his
intentions had been fair and square in this situation forced upon him,
and they had not trusted him. They were taking no chances, he thought,
and suddenly wondered what position the girl would take in the matter.
He could not think of her approving it. Yet she would naturally side
with her father, as she had done against Lund's accusations. And Rainey
suspected that there was something back of Lund's charge of desertion.
The girl's face, her graceful figure, the tones of her voice, clung in
his still palsied recollection a long time before he could dismiss it
and get round to the main factor of his imprisonment--_what were they
going to do with him?_

There was a fortune in sight. For gold, men forget the obligations of
life and law in civilization; they revert to savage type, and their
minds and actions are swayed by the primitive urge of lust. Treachery,
selfishness, cruelty, crime breed from the shining particles even before
they are in actual sight and touch.

Rainey knew that. He had read many true yarns that had come down from
the frozen North, in from the deserts and the mountains, tales of the
mining records of the West.

He mistrusted the doctor. The man had drugged him. He was a man whose
profession, where the mind was warped, belittled life. Captain Simms had
been charged with leaving a blind man on a broken floe. Lund was the
type whose passions left him ruthless. The crew--they would be bound by
shares in the enterprise, a rough lot, daring much and caring little for
anything beyond their own narrow horizons. The girl was the only
redeeming feature of the situation.

Was it because of her--it might be because of her special
pleading--that they had not gone further? Or were they still fighting
through the heads, waiting until they got well out to sea before they
disposed of him, so there would be no chance of his telltale body
washing up along the coast for recognition and search for clues? He
wondered whether any one had seen him go aboard the _Karluk_ with
Lund--any one who would remember it and mention the circumstance when he
was found to be missing.

That might take a day or two. At the office they would wonder why he
didn't show up to cover his detail, because he had been steady in his
work. But they would not suspect foul play at first. He had no immediate
family. His landlady lodged other newspapermen, and was used to their
vagaries. And all this time the _Karluk_ would be thrashing north, well
out to sea, unsighted, perhaps, for all her trip, along that coast of
fogs.

Rainey had disappeared, dropped out of sight. He would be a front-page
wonder for a day, then drop to paragraphs for a day or so more, and
that would be the end of it.

But they had made him comfortable. He was not in a smelly forecastle,
but in a bunk in a cabin that must open off the main room of the
schooner. Why had they treated him with such consideration? He dozed
off, for all his wretchedness, exhausted by his efforts to untangle the
snarl. When he awoke again his mouth was glued together with thirst.

The schooner was still fighting the sea--the wind, too, Rainey
fancied--sailing close-hauled, going north against the trade. He fumbled
for his watch. It had run down. His head ached intolerably. Each hair
seemed set in a nerve center of pain. But he was better.

Back of his thirst lay hunger now, and the apathy that had held him to
idle thinking had given way to an energy that urged him to action and
discovery.

As he sat up in his bunk, fully clothed as he had come aboard, the door
of his cabin opened and the doctor appeared, nodded coolly as he saw
Rainey moving, disappeared for an instant, and brought in a draft of
some sort in a long glass.

"Take this," said Carlsen. "Pull you together. Then we'll get some food
into you."

The calm insolence of the doctor's manner, ignoring all that had
happened, seemed to send all the blood in Rainey's body fuming to his
brain. He took the glass and hurled its contents at Carlsen's face. The
doctor dodged, and the stuff splashed against the cabin wall, only a few
drops reaching Carlsen's coat, which he wiped off with his handkerchief,
unruffled.

"Don't be a damned fool," he said to Rainey, his voice irritatingly
even. "Are you afraid it's drugged? I would not be so clumsy. I could
have given you a hypodermic while you slept, enough to keep you
unconscious for as many hours as I choose--or forever.

"I'll mix you another dose--one more--take it or leave it. Take it, and
you'll soon feel yourself again after Tamada has fed you. Then we'll
thrash out the situation. Leave it, and I wash my hands of you. You can
go for'ard and bunk with the men and do the dirty work."

He spoke with the calm assumption of one controlling the schooner,
Rainey noted, rather as skipper than surgeon. But Rainey felt that he
had made a fool of himself, and he took the second draft, which almost
instantly relieved him, cleansing his mouth and throat and, as his
headache died down, clearing his brain.

"Why did you drug me?" he demanded. "Pretty high-handed. I can make you
pay for this."

"Yes? How? When? We're well off Cape Mendocino, heading nor'west or
thereabouts. Nothing between us and Unalaska but fog and deep water.
Before we get back you'll see the payment in a different light. We're
not pirates. This was plain business. A million or more in sight.

"Lund nearly spilled things as it was, raving the way he did. It's a
wonder some one didn't overhear him with sense enough to tumble.

"We didn't take any chances. Rounded up the crew, and got out. The man
who's made a gold discovery thinks everybody else is watching him. It's
a genuine risk. If they followed us, they'd crowd us off the beach. I
don't suppose any one has followed us. If they have, we've lost them in
this fog.

"But we didn't take any risks after Lund's blowing off. He might have
done it ashore before you brought him aboard. I don't think so. But he
might. And so might you, later."

"I'd have given you my word."

"And meant to keep it. But you'd have been an uncertain factor, a weak
link. You might have given it away in your sleep. You heard enough to
figure the general locality of the island when Lund blurted it out. You
knew too much. Suppose the _Karluk_ fought up to Kotzebue Bay and found
a dozen power-vessels hanging about, waiting for us to lead them to the
beach? And we'd have worried all the way up, with you loose. You're a
newspaperman. The suppression of this yarn would have obsessed you, lain
on your reportorial conscience.

"I don't suppose your salary is much over thirty a week, is it? Now,
then, here you are in for a touch of real adventure, better than
gleaning dock gossip, to a red-blooded man. If we win--and you saw the
gold--_you_ win. We expect to give you a share. We haven't taken it up
yet, but it'll be enough. More than you'd earn in ten years, likely,
more than you'd be apt to save in a lifetime. We kidnapped you for your
own good. You're a prisoner _de luxe_, with the run of the ship."

"I can work my passage," said Rainey. He could see the force of the
doctor's argument, though he didn't like the man. He didn't trust the
doctor, though he thought he'd play fair about the gold. But it was
funny, his assuming control.

"Yachted a bit?" asked Carlsen.

"Yes."

"Can you navigate?"

Rainey thought he caught a hint of emphasis to this question.

"I can learn," he said. "Got a general idea of it."

"Ah!" The doctor appeared to dismiss the subject with some relief.
"Well," he went on, "are you open to reason--and food? I'm sorry about
your friends and folks ashore, but you're not the first prodigal who has
come back with the fatted calf instead of hungry for it."

"That part of it is all right," said Rainey. There was no help for the
situation, save to make the most of it and the best. "But I'd like to
ask you a question."

"Go ahead. Have a cigarette?"

Rainey would rather have taken it from any one else, but the whiff of
burning tobacco, as Carlsen lit up, gave him an irresistible craving for
a smoke. Besides, it wouldn't do for the doctor to know he mistrusted
him. If he was to be a part of the ship's life, there was small sense
in acting pettishly. He took the cigarette, accepted the light, and
inhaled gratefully.

"What's the question?" asked Carlsen.

"You weren't on the last trip. You weren't in on the original deal. But
I find you doing all the talking, making me offers. You drugged me on
your own impulse. Where's the skipper? How does he stand in this matter?
Why didn't he come to see me? What is your rating aboard?"

"You're asking a good deal for an outsider, it seems to me, Rainey. I
came to you partly as your doctor. But I speak for the captain and the
crew. Don't worry about that."

"And Lund?" Rainey could not resist the shot. He had gathered that the
doctor resented Lund.

Carlsen's eyes narrowed.

"Lund will be taken care of," he said, and, for the life of him, Rainey
could not judge the statement for threat or friendly promise. "As for my
status, I expect to be Captain Simms' son-in-law as soon as the trip is
over."

"All right," said Rainey. Carlsen's announcement surprised him. Somehow
he could not place the girl as the doctor's fiancée. "I suppose the
captain may mention this matter," he queried, "to cement it?"

"He may," replied Carlsen enigmatically. "Feel like getting up?"

Rainey rose and bathed face and hands. Carlsen left the cabin. The main
room was empty when Rainey entered, but there was a place set at the
table. Through the skylight he noted, as he glanced at the telltale
compass in the ceiling, that the sun was low toward the west.

The main cabin was well appointed in hardwood, with red cushions on the
transoms and a creeping plant or so hanging here and there. A canary
chirped up and broke into rolling song. It was all homy, innocuous. Yet
he had been drugged at the same table not so long before. And now he was
pledged a share of ungathered gold. It was a far cry back to his desk in
the _Times_ office.

A Japanese entered, sturdy, of white-clad figure, deft, polite,
incurious. He had brought in some ham and eggs, strong coffee, sliced
canned peaches, bread and butter. He served as Rainey ate heartily,
feeling his old self coming back with the food, especially with the
coffee.

"Thanks, Tamada," he said as he pushed aside his plate at last.

"Everything arright, sir?" purred the Japanese.

Rainey nodded. The "sir" was reassuring. He was accepted as a somebody
aboard the _Karluk_. Tamada cleared away swiftly, and Rainey felt for
his own cigarettes. He hesitated a little to smoke in the cabin,
thinking of the girl, wondering whether she was on deck, where he
intended to go. Some one was snoring in a stateroom off the cabin, and
he fancied by its volume it was Lund.

It was a divided ship's company, after all. For he knew that Lund,
handicapped with his blindness, would live perpetually suspicious of
Simms. And the doctor was against Lund. Rainey's own position was a
paradox.

He started for the companionway, and a slight sound made him turn, to
face the girl. She looked at him casually as Rainey, to his annoyance,
flushed.

"Good afternoon," said Rainey. "Are you going on deck?"

It was not a clever opening, but she seemed to rob him of wit, to an
extent. He had yet to know how she stood concerning his presence aboard.
Did she countenance the forcible kidnapping of him as a possible
tattler? Or--?

"My father tells me you have decided to go with us," she said,
pleasantly enough, but none too cordially, Rainey thought.

"Doctor Carlsen helped me to my decision."

She did not seem to regard this as a thrust, but stood lightly swaying
to the pitch of the vessel, regarding him with grave eyes of appraisal.

"You have not been well," she said. "I hope you are better. Have you
eaten?"

Rainey began to think that she was ignorant of the facts. And he made up
his mind to ignore them. There was nothing to be gained by telling her
things against her father--much less against her fiancée, the doctor.

"Thank you, I have," he said. "I was going to look up Mr. Lund."

The sentence covered a sudden change of mind. He no longer wanted to go
on deck with the girl. They were not to be intimates. She was to marry
Carlsen. He was an outsider. Carlsen had told him that. So she seemed to
regard him, impersonally, without interest. It piqued him.

"Mr. Lund is in the first mate's cabin," said the girl, indicating a
door. "Mr. Bergstrom, who was mate, died at sea last voyage. Doctor
Carlsen acts as navigator with my father, but he has another room."

She passed him and went on deck. Carlsen was acting first mate as well
as surgeon. That meant he had seamanship. Also that they had taken in no
replacements, no other men to swell the little corporation of
fortune-hunters who knew the secret, or a part of it. It was unusual,
but Rainey shrugged his shoulders and rapped on the door of the cabin.

It took loud knocking to waken Lund. At last he roared a "Come in."

Rainey found him seated on the edge of his bunk, dressed in his
underclothes, his glasses in place. Rainey wondered whether he slept in
them. Lund's uncanny intuition seemed to read the thought. He tapped the
lenses.

"Hate to take them off," he said. "Light hurts my eyes, though the optic
nerve is dead. Seems to strike through. How're ye makin' out?"

Rainey gave Lund the full benefit of his blindness. The giant could not
have known what was in the doctor's mind, but he must have learned
something. Lund was not the type to be satisfied with half answers, and
undoubtedly felt that he held a proprietary interest in the _Karluk_ by
virtue of his being the original owner of the secret. Rainey wondered
if he had sensed the doctor's attitude in that direction, an attitude
expressed largely by the expression of Carlsen's face, always wearing
the faint shadow of a sneer.

"You know they drugged me," Rainey ended his recital of the interview he
had had with the doctor.

"Knockout drops? I guessed it. That doctor's slick. Well, you've not
much fault to find, have ye? Carlsen talked sense. Here you are on the
road to a fortune. I'll see yore share's a fair one. There's plenty. It
ain't a bad billet you've fallen into, my lad. But I'll look out for ye.
I'm sort of responsible for yore trip, ye see, matey. And I'll need ye."

He lowered his voice mysteriously.

"Yo're a writer, Mister Rainey. You've got brains. You can see which way
a thing's heading. You've heard enough. I'm blind. I've bin done dirt
once aboard the _Karluk_, and I don't aim to stand for it ag'in. And I
had my eyes, then. No use livin' in a rumpus. Got to keep watch. Got to
keep yore eyes open.

"And I ain't got eyes. You have. Use 'em for both of us. I ain't asking
ye to take sides, exactly. But I've got cause for bein' suspicious. I
don't call the skipper _Honest_ Simms no more. And I ain't stuck on that
doctor. He's too bossy. He's got the skipper under his thumb. And
there's somethin' funny about the skipper. Notice ennything?"

"Why, I don't know him," said Rainey. "He doesn't look extra well, what
I've seen of him. Only the once."

"He's logey," said Lund confidentially. "He ain't the same man. Mebbe
it's his conscience. But that doctor's runnin' him."

"He's going to marry the captain's daughter," said Rainey.

"Simms' daughter? Carlsen goin' to marry her? Ump! That may account for
the milk in the cocoanut. She's a stranger to me. Lived ashore with her
uncle and aunt, they tell me. Carlsen was the family doctor. Now she's
off with her father."

His face became crafty, and he reached out for Rainey's knee, found it
as readily as if he had sight, and tapped it for emphasis.

"That makes all the more reason for us lookin' out for things, matey,"
he went on, almost in a whisper. "If they've played me once they may do
it ag'in. And they've got the odds, settin' aside my eyes. But I can
turn a trick or two. You an' me come aboard together. You give me a
hand. Stick to me, an' I'll see you git yore whack.

"I'll have yore bunk changed. You'll come in with me. An' we'll put one
an' one together. We'll be mates. Treat 'em fair if they treat us fair.
But don't forget they fixed yore grog. I had nothin' to do with that. I
may be stranded, but, if the tide rises--"

He set the clutch of his powerful fingers deep into Rainey's leg above
the knee with a grip that left purple bruises there before the day was
over.

"We two, matey," he said. "Now you an' me'll have a tot of stuff that
ain't doped."

He moved about the little cabin with an astounding freedom and
sureness, chuckling as he handled bottle and glasses and measured out
the whisky and water.

"W'en yo're blind," he said, ramming his pipe full of black tobacco,
"they's other things comes to ye. I know the run of this ship,
blindfold, you might say. I c'ud go aloft in a pinch, or steer her. More
grog?"

But Rainey abstained after the first glass, though Lund went on lowering
the bottle without apparent effect.

"So yo're a bit of a sailor?" the giant asked presently. "An' a scholar.
You can navigate, I make no doubt?"

"I hope to get a chance to learn on the trip," answered Rainey. "I know
the general principles, but I've never tried to use a sextant. I'm going
to get the skipper to help me out. Or Carlsen."

"Carlsen! What in hell does a doctor know about navigation?" demanded
Lund.

Rainey told him what the girl had said, and the giant grunted.

"I have my doubts whether they'll ever help ye," he said. "Wish I could.
But it 'ud be hard without my eyes. An' I've got no sextant an' no book
o' tables. It's too bad."

His disappointment seemed keen, and Rainey could not fathom it. Why had
both Lund and Carlsen seemed to lay stress on this matter? Why was the
doctor relieved and Lund disappointed at his ignorance?

As they came out of the stateroom together, later, Lund reeking of the
liquor he had absorbed, though remaining perfectly sober, his hand laid
on Rainey's shoulder, perhaps for guidance but with a show of
familiarity, Rainey saw the girl looking at him with a glance in which
contempt showed unveiled. It was plain that his intimacy with Lund was
not going to advance him in her favor.



CHAPTER III

TARGET PRACTISE


The _Karluk_ was an eighty-five-ton schooner, Gloster Fisherman type,
with a length of ninety and a beam of twenty-five feet. Her enormous
stretch of canvas, spread to the limit on all possible occasions by
Captain Simms, was offset by the pendulum of lead that made up her keel,
and she could slide through the seas at twelve knots on her best point
of sailing--reaching--the wind abaft her beam.

After Rainey had demonstrated at the wheel that he had the mastery of
her and had shown that he possessed sea-legs, a fair amount of seacraft
and, what the sailors did not possess, initiative, Captain Simms
appointed him second mate.

"We don't carry one as a rule," the skipper said. "But it'll give you a
rating and the right to eat in the cabin." He had not brought up the
subject of Rainey's kidnapping, and Rainey let it go. There was no use
arguing about the inevitable. The rating and the cabin fare seemed
offered as an apology, and he was willing to accept it.

Carlsen acted as first mate, and Rainey had to acknowledge him
efficient. He fancied the man must have been a ship's surgeon, and so
picked up his seamanship. After a few days Carlsen, save for taking noon
observations with the skipper and working out the reckoning, left his
duties largely to Rainey, who was glad enough for the experience. A
sailor named Hansen was promoted to acting-quartermaster, and relieved
Rainey. Carlsen spent most of his time attendant on the girl or chatting
with the hunters, with whom he soon appeared on terms of intimacy.

The hunters esteemed themselves above the sailors, as they were, in
intelligence and earning capacity. The forecastlemen acted, on occasion,
as boat-steerers and rowers for the hunters, each of whom had his own
boat from which to shoot the cruising seals.

There were six hunters and twelve sailors, outside of a general
roustabout and butt named "Sandy," who cleaned up the forecastle and the
hunters' quarters, where they messed apart, and helped Tamada, the cook,
in the galley with his pots and dishes. But now there was no work in
prospect for the hunters, and they lounged on deck or in the 'midship
quarters, spinning yarns or playing poker. They were after gold this
trip, not seals.

"'Cordin' to the agreement," Lund said to Rainey, "the gold's to be
split into a hundred shares. One for each sailorman, an' they chip in
for the boy. Two for the hunters, two for the cook, four for Bergstrom,
the first mate, who died at sea. Twenty for 'ship's share.' Fifty shares
to be split between Simms an' me."

"What's the 'ship's share'?" asked Rainey.

"Represents capital investment. Matter of fact, it belongs to the gal,"
said Lund. "Simms gave her the _Karluk_. It's in her name with the
insurance."

"Then he and his daughter get forty-five shares, and you only
twenty-five?"

"You got it right," grinned Lund. "Simms is no philanthropist. It wa'n't
so easy for me to git enny one to go in with me, son. I ain't the first
man to come trailin' in with news of a strike. An' I had nothin' to show
for it. Not even a color of gold. Nothin' but the word of a dead Aleut,
my own jedgment, an' my own sight of an island I never landed on. Matter
of fact, Honest Simms was the only one who didn't laff at me outright.
It was on'y his bad luck made him try a chance at gold 'stead of keepin'
after pelts.

"An' we had a hard an' tight agreement drawn up on paper, signed,
witnessed an' recorded. 'Course it holds him as well as it holds me, but
he gits the long end of _that_ stick. W'en I read, or got it read to me,
in the Seattle _News-Courier_, that the _Karluk_ was listed as 'Arrived'
in San Francisco, it was all I could do to git carfare an' grub money.
If I hadn't bin blind, an' some of 'em half-way human to'ards a man with
his lights out, I'd never have raised it. I'd have got here someways,
matey, if I'd had to walk, but I'd have got here a bit late. Then I'd
have had to wait till Simms got back ag'in--an' mebbe starved to death.

"But I'm here an' I've got some say-so. One thing, you're goin' to git
Bergstrom's share. I don't give a damn where the doctor comes in. If he
marries the gal he'll git her twenty shares, ennyway. Though he ain't
married her yet. And I ain't through with Simms yet," he added, with an
emphasis that was a trifle grim, Rainey thought.

"The crew, hunters an' sailors, don't seem over glad to see me back,"
Lund went on. "Mebbe they figgered their shares 'ud be bigger. Mebbe the
doc's queered me. He's pussy-footin' about with 'em a good deal. But
I'll talk with you about that later. It's me an' you ag'in' the rest of
'em, seems to me, Rainey. The doc's aimin' to be the Big Boss aboard
this schooner. He's got the skipper buffaloed. But not me, not by a
jugful."

He slammed his big fist against the side of the bunk so viciously that
it seemed to jar the cabin. The blow was typical of the man, Rainey
decided. He felt for Lund not exactly a liking, but an attraction, a
certain compelled admiration. The giant was elemental, with a driving
force inside him that was dynamic, magnetic. What a magnificent pirate
he would have made, thought Rainey, looking at his magnificent
proportions and considering the crude philosophies that cropped out in
his talk.

"I'm in life for the loot of it, Rainey," Lund declared. "Food an' drink
to tickle my tongue an' fill my belly, the woman I happen to want, an'
bein' able to buy ennything I set my fancy on. The answer to that is
Gold. With it you can buy most enny thing. Not all wimmen, I'll grant
you that. Not the kind of woman I'd want for a steady mate. Thet's one
thing I've found out can't be bought, my son, the honor of a good
woman. An' thet's the sort of woman I'm lookin' for.

"I reckon yo're raisin' yore eyebrows at that?" he challenged Rainey.
"But the other kind, that'll sell 'emselves, 'll sell you jest as
quick--an' quicker. I'd wade through hell-fire hip-deep to git the right
kind--an' to hold her. An' I'll buck all hell to git what's comin' to me
in the way of luck, or go down all standin' tryin'. This is my gold, an'
I'm goin' to handle it. If enny one tries to swizzle me out of it I'm
goin' to swizzle back, an' you can lay to that. Not forgettin' them that
stands by me."

Between Lund and Simms there existed a sort of armed truce. No open
reference was made to the desertion of Lund on the floe. But Rainey knew
that it rankled in Lund's mind. The five, Peggy Simms, her father,
Carlsen, Lund and Rainey, ostensibly messed together, but Rainey's
duties generally kept him on deck until Carlsen had sufficiently
completed his own meal to relieve him. By that time the girl and the
captain had left the table.

Lund invariably waited for Rainey. Tamada kept the food hot for them.
And served them, Lund making good play with spoon or fork and a piece of
bread, the Japanese cutting up his viands conveniently beforehand.

To Rainey, Tamada seemed the hardest worked man aboard ship. He had
three messes to cook and he was busy from morning until night,
efficient, tireless and even-tempered. The crew, though they
acknowledged his skill, were Californians, either by birth or adoption,
and the racial prejudice against the Japanese was apparent.

A week of good wind was followed by dirty weather. The _Karluk_ proved a
good fighter, though her headway was materially lessened by contrary
wind and sea, and the persistence and increasing opposition of the storm
seemed to have a corresponding effect upon Captain Simms.

He grew daily more irritable and morose, even to his daughter. Only the
doctor appeared able to get along with him on easy terms, and Rainey
noticed that, to Carlsen, the skipper seemed conciliatory even to
deference.

Peggy Simms watched her father with worried eyes. The curious, tarnished
look of his tanned skin grew until the flesh seemed continually dry and
of an earthy color; his lips peeled, and more than once he shook as if
with a chill.

On the eleventh day out, Rainey went below in the middle of the
afternoon for his sea-boots. The gale had suddenly strengthened and,
under reefs, the _Karluk_ heeled far over until the hissing seas flooded
the scuppers and creamed even with the lee rail. In the main cabin he
found Simms seated in a chair with his daughter leaning over him,
speaking to her in a harsh, complaining voice.

"No, you can't do a thing for me," he was saying. "It's this sciatica.
I've got to get Carlsen."

As Rainey passed through to his own little stateroom neither of them
noticed him, but he saw that the captain was shivering, his hands
picking almost convulsively at the table-cloth.

"Where's Carlsen, curse him!" Rainey heard through his cabin partition.
"Tell him I can't stand this any longer. He's got to help me. Got to.
_Got to._"

As Rainey appeared, walking heavily in his boots, the girl looked up.
Her father was slumped in his chair, his face buried on his folded arms.
The girl glanced at him doubtfully, apparently uncertain whether to go
herself to find Carlsen or stay with her father.

"Anything I can do, Miss Simms? Your father seems quite ill."

The hesitation of the girl even to speak to him was very plain to
Rainey. Suddenly she threw up her chin.

"Kindly find Doctor Carlsen," she ordered, rather than requested. "Ask
him to come as soon as he can. I--" She turned uncertainly to her
father.

"Can I help you to get him into the cabin?" asked Rainey.

She thanked him with lips, not eyes, and he assisted her to shift the
almost helpless man into his room and bunk. He was like a stuffed sack
between them, save that his body twitched. While Rainey took most of the
weight, he marveled at the strength of the slender girl and the way in
which she applied it. Simms seemed to have fainted, to be on the verge
of unconsciousness or even utter collapse. Rainey felt his wrist, and
the pulse was almost imperceptible.

"I'll get the doctor immediately," he said.

She nodded at him, chafing her father's hands, her own face pale, and a
look of anxious fear in her eyes.

"Mighty funny sort of sciatica," Rainey told himself as he hurried
forward. He knew where Carlsen was, in the hunters' cozy quarters,
playing poker. From the chips in front of him he had been winning
heavily.

"The skipper's ill," said Rainey. "No pulse. Almost unconscious."

Carlsen raised his eyebrows.

"Didn't know you were a physician," he said. "Just one of his spells.
I'll finish this hand. Too good to lay down. The skipper can wait for
once."

The hunters grinned as Carlsen took his time to draw his cards, make his
bets and eventually win the pot on three queens.

"I wonder what your real game is?" Rainey asked himself as he affected
to watch the play. According to his own announcement Carlsen was
deliberately neglecting the father of the girl he was to marry and at
the same time slighting the captain to his own men. Carlsen drew in his
chips and leisurely made a note of the amount.

"Quite a while yet to settling-day," he said to the players. "Luck may
swing all round the compass before then, boys. All right, Rainey, you
needn't wait."

Rainey ignored the omitted "Mister." He held the respect of the sailors,
since he had shown his ability, but he knew that the hunters regarded
him with an amused tolerance that lacked disrespect by a small margin.
To them he was only the amateur sailor. Rainey fancied that the doctor
had contributed to this attitude, and it did not lessen his score
against Carlsen.

The captain did not make his appearance for that day, the next, or the
next. The men began to roll eyes at one another when they asked after
his health. Carlsen kept his own counsel, and Peggy Simms spent most of
her time in the main cabin with her eyes always roving to her father's
door. Rainey noticed that Tamada brought no food for the sick man.
Carlsen was the apparent controller of the schooner. Lund was quick to
sense this.

"We got to block that Carlsen's game," he said to Rainey. "There's a
nigger in the woodpile somewhere an' you an' me got to uncover him,
matey, afore we reach Bering Strait, or you an' me'll finish this trip
squattin' on the rocks of one of the Four Mountain Islands makin' faces
at the gulls.

"I wish you c'ud git under the skin of that Jap. No use tryin' to git in
with the crew or the hunters. They're ag'in' both of us--leastwise
the hunters are. The hands don't count. They're jest plain hash."

Lund spoke with an absolute contempt of the sailors that was
characteristic of the man.

"You think they'd put a blind man ashore that way?" asked Rainey.

"Carlsen would. In a minnit. He'd argy that you c'ud look out for me,
seein' as we are chums. As for you, you've bin useful, but you can't
navigate, an' you've helped train Hansen to yore work. You were in the
way at the start, an' he'd jest as soon git rid of you that road as enny
other. He don't intend you to have Bergstrom's share, by a jugful."

Lund grinned as he spoke, and Rainey felt a little chill raise
gooseflesh all over his body. It was not exactly fear, but--

"They don't look on us two as _mascots_," went on Lund. "But to git back
to that Jap. Forewarned is forearmed. He ain't over an' above liked, but
they've got used to him goin' back an' forth with their grub, an' they
sort of despise him for a yellow-skinned coolie.

"Now Tamada ain't no coolie. I know Japs. He's a cut above his job.
Cooks well enough for a swell billet ashore if he wanted it. An' there
ain't much goin' on that Tamada ain't wise to. See if you can't get next
to him. Trubble is he's too damn' neutral. He knows he's safe, becoz
he's cook an' a damn' good one. But he's wise to what Carlsen's playin'
at.

"Carlsen don't care for man, woman, God, or the devil. Neither do I," he
concluded. "An' I've got a card or two up my sleeve. But I'd sure like
to git a peep at what the doc's holdin'."

The storm blew out, and there came a spell of pleasant weather, with the
_Karluk_ gliding along, logging a fair rate where a less well-designed
vessel would barely have found steerage way, riding on an almost even
keel. Simms was still confined to his cabin, though now his daughter
took him in an occasional tray.

Except for observations and the details of navigation, Carlsen left the
schooner to Rainey. They were well off the coast, out of the fogs,
apparently alone upon the lonely ocean that ran sparkling to the far
horizon. It was warm, there was little to do, the sailors, as well as
the hunters, spent most of their time lounging on the deck.

Save at meal-times, Carlsen, for one who had announced himself as an
accepted lover, neglected the girl, who had devoted herself to her
father. Yet she seldom went into her cabin, never remained there long,
and time must have hung heavily on her hands. A girl of her spirit must
have resented such treatment, Rainey imagined, but reminded himself it
was none of his business.

Lund hung over the rail, smoking, or paced the deck, always close to
Rainey. The manner in which he went about the ship was almost uncanny.
Except that his arms were generally ahead of him when he moved, his
hands, with their woolly covering of red hair, lightly touching boom or
rope or rail, he showed no hesitation, made no mistakes.

He no longer shuffled, as he had on shore, but moved with a pantherlike
dexterity, here and there at will. When the breeze was steady he would
even take the wheel and steer perfectly by the "feel of the wind" on his
cheek, the slap of it in the canvas, or the creak of the rigging to tell
him if he was holding to the course. And he took an almost childish
delight in proclaiming his prowess as helmsman.

The booms were stayed out against swinging in flaws and the roll of the
sea, and Lund strode back and forth behind Rainey, who had the wheel.
The hunters were grouped about Carlsen, who, seated on the skylight, was
telling them something at which they guffawed at frequent intervals.

"Spinnin' them some of his smutty yarns," growled Lund, halting in his
promenade. "Bad for discipline, an' bad for us. He's the sort of
fine-feathered bird that wouldn't give those chaps a first look ashore.
Gittin' in solid with 'em that way is a bad steer. You can't handle a
man you make a pal of, w'en he ain't yore rank."

"Carlsen's slack, but he's a good sailorman," said Rainey casually.

"Damn' sight better sailorman than he is doctor," retorted Lund. "Hear
him the other mornin' w'en I asked him if he c'ud give me somethin' to
help my eyes hurtin'? 'I'm no eye specialist,' sez he. 'Try some boracic
acid, my man.' I wouldn't put ennything in my eyes _he'd_ give me, you
can lay to that. He'd give me vitriol, if he thought I'd use it. I
wouldn't let him treat a sick cat o' mine. He's the kind o' doctor that
uses his title to give him privileges with the wimmin. I know his sort."

Rainey wondered why Lund had asked Carlsen for a lotion if he did not
mean to use it, but he did not provoke further argument. Lund was going
on.

"He don't do the skipper enny good, thet's certain."

"Captain Simms seems to believe in him," answered Rainey. He wondered
how much of Carlsen's increasing dominance over the skipper Lund had
noticed.

"Simms is Carlsen's dog!" exploded Lund. "The doc's got somethin' on
him, mark me. Carlsen's a bad egg an', w'en he hatches, you'll see a
buzzard. An' you wait till he's needed as a doctor on somethin' that
takes more'n a few kind words or a lick out a bottle."

There was a stir among the hunters. Lund turned his spectacled eyes in
their direction.

"What are they up to now?" he queried. "Goin' to play poker? Wish I had
my eyes. I'd show 'em how to read the pips."

Hansen came aft, offering to take the wheel.

"They bane goin' to shute at targets," he said. "Meester Carlsen he put
up prizes. For rifle an' shotgun. Thought you might like to watch it,
sir."

Rainey gave over the spokes and went to the starboard rail with Lund,
watching the preparations between fore and main masts for the
competition, and telling Lund what was happening. Carlsen gave out some
shotgun cartridges from cardboard boxes, twelve to each of the six
hunters.

"Hunters pay for their own shells," said Lund. "But they buy 'em from
the ship. Mate's perkisite. They usually have some shells on hand for
the rifles, but the paper cases o' the shotgun cartridges suck up the
damp an' they keep better in the magazine in the cabin. What they
shootin' at? Bottles?"

Sandy, the roustabout, had been requisitioned to toss up empty bottles,
and those who failed cursed him for a poor thrower. A hunter named
Deming made no misses, and secured first prize of ten dollars in gold,
with a man named Beale scoring two behind him, and getting half that
amount from Carlsen.

Then came the test with the rifles. The weapons were all of the same
caliber, well oiled, and in perfect condition. As Lund had said, each of
the hunters had a few shells in his possession, but they lacked the
total of six dozen by a considerable margin.

Carlsen went below for the necessary ammunition while the target was
completed and set in place. A keg had been rigged with a weight
underslung to keep it upright, and a tin can, painted white, set on a
short spar in one end of the keg. A light line was attached to a bridle,
and the mark lowered over the stern, where it rode, bobbing in the tail
of the schooner's wake, thirty fathoms from the taffrail where the crowd
gathered.

Carlsen, returning, ordered Hansen to steer fine. He gave each
competitor a limit of ten seconds for his aim, contributing an element
of chance that made the contest a sporting one. Without the counting,
each would have deliberately waited for the most favorable moment when
the schooner hung in the trough and the white can was backed by green
water. As it was, it made a far-from-easy mark, slithering, lurching,
dipping as the _Karluk_ slid down a wave or met a fresh one, the can
often blurred against the blobs of foam.

More bullets hit the keg than the can, and Carlsen was often called upon
as umpire. But the tin gradually became ragged and blotched where the
steel-jacketed missiles tore through. Beale and Deming both had five
clean, undisputed hits, tying for first prize. Beale offered to shoot it
off with six more shells apiece, and Deming consented.

"Can't be done," declared Carlsen. "Not right now, anyway. I gave out
the last shell there was in the magazine. If there are any more the
skipper's got them stowed away, and I can't disturb him."

"Derned funny," said Deming, "a sealer shy on cartridges! Lucky we ain't
worryin' about thet sort of a cargo."

"Probably plenty aboard somewhere," said Carlsen, "but I don't know
where they are. Sorry to break up the shooting. You boys have got me
beaten on rifles and shotguns," he went on, producing from his hip
pocket a flat, effective-looking automatic pistol of heavy caliber. "How
are you on small arms?"

The hunters shook their heads dubiously.

"Never use 'em," said Deming. "Never could do much with that kind,
ennyhow. Give me a revolver, an' I might make out to hit a whale, if he
was close enough, but not with one o' them."

"Not much difference," said, Carlsen. "Any of you got revolvers?"

No one spoke. It was against the unwritten laws of a vessel for pistols
to be owned forward of the main cabin. Beale finally answered for the
rest.

"Nary a pistol, sir."

"Then," said Carlsen, "I'll give you an exhibition myself. Any bottles
left? Beale, will you toss them for me?"

There were eight shots in the automatic, and Carlsen smashed seven
bottles in mid-air. He missed the last, but retrieved himself by
breaking it as it dipped in the wake. The hunters shouted their
appreciation.

"Break all of 'em?" Lund asked Rainey. "Enny bottles left at all?"

He walked toward the taffrail, addressing Carlsen.

"Kin you shoot by _sound_ as well as by sight, Doc?" he challenged.

"I fancy not," said Carlsen.

"If I had my eyes I'd snapshoot ye for a hundred bucks," said Lund. "As
it is, I might target one or two. Rainey, have some one run a line,
head-high, an' fix a bottle on it, will ye? I ain't got a gun o' my own,
Doc," he continued, "will you lend me yours?" Carlsen filled his clip
and Lund turned toward Rainey, who was rigging the target.

"I'll want you to tap it with a stick," he said. "Signal-flag staff'll
do fine."

Rainey got the slender bamboo and stood by. Lund felt for the cord,
passed his fingers over the suspended bottle and stepped off five paces,
hefting the automatic to judge its balance.

"Ruther have my own gun," he muttered. "All right, tetch her up,
Rainey."

Rainey tapped the bottle on the neck and it gave out a little tinkle,
lost immediately in the crash of splintering glass as the bottle, hit
fairly in the torn label, broke in half.

"How much left?" asked Lund. "Half? Tetch it up."

Again he fired and again the bullet found the mark, leaving only the
neck of the bottle still hanging. Lund grinned.

"Thet's all," he said. "Jest wanted to show ye what a blind man can do,
if he's put to it."

There was little applause. Carlsen took his gun in silence and moved
forward with the hunters and the onlookers, disappearing below. Rainey
took the wheel over from Hansen and ordered him forward again.

"Given 'em something to talk about," chuckled Lund. "Carlsen wanted to
show off his fancy shootin'. Wal, I've shown 'em I ain't entirely
wrecked if I ain't carryin' lights. An' I slipped more'n one over on
Carlsen at that."

Rainey did not catch his entire meaning and said nothing.

"Did you get wise to the play about the shells?" asked Lund. "A smart
trick, though Deming almost tumbled. Carlsen got those dumb fools of
hunters to fire away every shell they happened to have for'ard. If the
magazine's empty, I'll bet Carlsen knows where they's plenty more
shells, if we ever needed 'em bad. But now those rifles an' shotguns
ain't no more use than so many clubs--_not to the hunters_. An' he's
found out they ain't got enny pistols. _He's_ got one, an' shows 'em how
straight he shoots, jest in case there should be enny trubble between
'em. Plays both ends to the middle, does Carlsen. Slick! But he ain't
won the pot. They's a joker in this game. Mebbe he holds it, mebbe not."

He nodded mysteriously, well pleased with himself.

"Don't suppose _you_ brought a gun along with ye?" he asked Rainey.
"Might come in handy."

"I wasn't expecting to stay," Rainey replied dryly, "or I might have."

Lund laughed heartily, slapping his leg.

"That's a good un," he declared. "It would have bin a good idea, though.
It sure pays to go heeled when you travel with strangers."



CHAPTER IV

THE BOWHEAD


Captain Simms appeared again in the cabin and on deck, but he was not
the same man. His illness seemed to have robbed him permanently of what
was left him of the spring of manhood. It was as if his juices had been
sucked from his veins and arteries and tissues, leaving him flabby,
irresolute, compared to his former self. Even as Lund shadowed Rainey,
so Simms shadowed Carlsen.

The fine weather vanished, snuffed out in an hour and, day after day,
the _Karluk_ flung herself at mocking seas that pounded her bows with
blows that sounded like the noise of a giant's drum. The sun was never
seen. Through daylight hours the schooner wrestled with the elements in
a ghastly, purplish twilight, lifting under double reefs over great
waves that raised spuming crests to overwhelm her, and were ridden down,
hissing and roaring, burying one rail and covering the deck to the
hatches with yeasty turmoil.

The _Karluk_ charged the stubborn fury of the gale, rolling from side to
side, lancing the seas, gaining a little headway, losing leeway,
fighting, fighting, while every foot of timber, every fathom of rope,
groaned and creaked perpetually, but endured.

To Rainey, this persistent struggle--as he himself controlled the
schooner, legs far astride, his oilskins dripping, his feet awash to the
ankles, spume drenching and whipping him, the wind a lash--brought
exultation and a sense of mastery and confidence such as he had never
before held suggestion of. To guide the ship, constantly to baffle the
sea and wind, the turbulence, buffeting bows and run and counter,
smashing at the rudder, leaping always like a pack of yapping
hounds--this was a thing that left the days of his water-front detail
far behind.

And then he had thought himself in the whirl of things! Even as Simms
seemed to be declining, so Rainey felt that he was coming into the
fulness of strength and health.

Lund was ever with him. Sometimes the girl would come up on deck in her
own waterproofs and stand against the rail to watch the storm, silent as
far as the pair were concerned. And presently Carlsen would come from
below or forward and stand to talk with her until she was tired of the
deck.

They did not seem much like lovers, Rainey fancied. They lacked the
little intimacies that he, though he made himself somewhat of an
automaton at the wheel, could not have failed to see. If the girl
slipped, Carlsen's hand would catch and steady her by the arm; never go
about her waist. And there was no especial look of welcome in her face
when the doctor came to her.

Carlsen seldom took over the wheel. Rainey did more than his share from
sheer love of feeling the control. But one day, at a word from the
girl, Carlsen and she came up to Rainey as he handled the spokes.

"I'll take the wheel a while, Rainey," said the doctor.

Rainey gave it up and went amidships. Out of the tail of his eye he
could see that the girl was pleading to handle the ship, and that
Carlsen was going to let her do so.

Rainey shrugged his shoulders. It was Carlsen's risk. It was no child's
play in that weather to steer properly. The _Karluk_, with her narrow
beam, was lithe and active as a great cat in those waves. It took not
only strength, but watchfulness and experience to hold the course in the
welter of cross-seas.

Lund, whose recognition of voices was perfect, moved amidships as soon
as Carlsen and Peggy Simms came aft. There was no attempt at disguising
the fact that the schooner's afterward was a divided company and, save
for the fact of his blindness tempering the action, the manner of Lund's
showing them his back and deliberately walking off would have been a
deliberate insult.

Not to the girl, Rainey thought. At first he had considered Lund's
character as comparatively simple--and brutal--but he had qualified
this, without seeming consciousness, and he felt that Lund would never
deliberately insult a woman--any sort of woman. He was beginning to feel
something more than an admiration for Lund's strength; a liking for the
man himself had, almost against his will, begun to assert itself.

They stood together by the weather-rail. It was still Rainey's
deck-watch, and at any moment Carlsen might relinquish the wheel back to
him as soon as the girl got tired. Suddenly shouts sounded from forward,
a medley of them, indistinct against the quartering wind. Sandy, the
roustabout, came dashing aft along the sloping deck, catching clumsily
at rail and rope to steady himself, flushed with excitement, almost
hysterical with his news.

"A bowhead, sir!" he cried when he saw Rainey. "And killers after him!
Blowin' dead ahead!"

Beyond the bows Rainey could see nothing of the whale, that must have
sounded in fear of the killers, but he saw half a dozen scythe-like,
black fins cutting the water in streaks of foam, all abreast, their high
dorsals waving, wolves of the sea, hunting for the gray bowhead whale,
to force its mouth open and feast on the delicacy of its living tongue.
So Lund told him in swift sentences while they waited for the whale to
broach.

"Ha'f the time the bowheads won't even try an' git away," said Lund.
"Lie atop, belly up, plain jellied with fear while the killers help
'emselves. Ha'f the bowheads you git have got chunks bitten out of their
tongues. If they're nigh shore when the killers show up the whales'll
slide way out over the rocks an' strand 'emselves."

Rainey glanced aft. Sandy had carried his warning to Carlsen and the
girl, and now was craning over the lee rail, knee-deep in the wash,
trying to see something of the combat. Peggy Simms' lithe figure was
leaning to one side as she, too, gazed ahead, though she still paid
attention to her steering and held the schooner well up, her face bright
with excitement, wet with flying brine, wisps of yellow hair streaming
free in the wind from beneath the close grip of her woolen
tam-o'-shanter bonnet of scarlet. Carlsen was pointing out the racing
fins of the killers.

"Bl-o-ows!" started the deep voice of a lookout, from where sailors and
hunters had grouped in the bows to witness this gladiatorial combat
between sea monsters, staged fittingly in a sea that was running wild.
Rainey strained his gaze to catch the steamy spiracle and the outthrust
of the great head.

"_Bl-o-ows!_" The deep voice almost leaped an octave in a sudden shrill
of apprehension. Other voices mingled with his in a clamor of dismay.

"Look out! Oh, look out! Dead ahead!"

The enormous bulk of the whale had appeared, not to spout, but to lie
belly up, rocking on the surface with fins outspread, paralyzed with
terror, directly in the course of the _Karluk_, while toward it, intent
only on their blood lust, leaped the killers, thrusting at its head as
the schooner surged down. In that tremendous sea the impact would be
certain to mean the staving in of something forward, perhaps the
springing of a butt.

"Hard a lee!" yelled Rainey. "Up with her! Up!"

It was desire to vent his own feelings, rather than necessity for the
command, that made Rainey yell the order, for he could see the girl
striving with the spokes, Carlsen lending his strength to hers. The
sheets were well flattened, the wind almost abeam, and there was no need
to change the set of fore and main.

Forward, the men jumped to handle the headsails. The _Karluk_ started to
spin about on its keel, instinct to the changing plane of the rudder.
But the waves were running tremendously high, and the wind blowing with
great force, the water rolling in great mountains of sickly greenish
gray, topped with foam that blew in a level scud.

As the schooner hung in a deep trough, the wind struck at her, bows on.
With the gale suddenly spilled out of them, the topsails lashed and
shivered, and the fore broke loose with the sharp report of a gunshot
and disappeared aft in the smother.

Rainey saw one huge billow rising, curving, high as the gaff of the
main, it seemed to him, as he grasped at the coil of the main halyards.
Down came the tons of water, booming on the deck that bent under the
blow, spilling in a great cataract that swashed across the deck.

His feet were swept from under him, for a moment he seemed to swing
horizontal in the stream, clutching at the halyards. The sea struck the
opposite rail with a roar that threatened to tear it away, piling up and
then seething overboard.



CHAPTER V

RAINEY SCORES


With it went a figure. Rainey caught sight of a ghastly face, a mouth
that shouted vainly for help in the pandemonium, and was instantly
stoppered with strangling brine, pop-eyes appealing in awful fright as
Sandy was washed away in the cascade. The halyards were held on the pin
with a turn and twist that Rainey swiftly loosened, lifting the coil
free, making a fast loop, and thrusting head and arms through it as he
flung himself after the roustabout.

Even as he dived he heard the bellow of Lund, knowing instinctively the
peril of the schooner by its actions, though ignorant of the accident.

"Back that jib! Back it, blast yore eyes! Ba-ck--"

Then Rainey was clubbing his way through the race of water to where he
glimpsed an upflung arm. Sandy was in oilskins and sea-boots, he had
hardly a chance to save himself, however expert. And it flashed over
Rainey's mind that, like many sailors, the lad had boasted that he could
not swim. His boots would pull him under as soon as the force of the
waves, that were tossing him from crest to crest, should be suspended.
Rainey himself was borne on their thrust, clogged by his own equipment,
linked to life only by the halyard coil.

A great bulk wallowed just before him, the helpless body of the bowhead
whale, the killers darting in a mad mêlée for its head. Then a figure
was literally hurled upon the slippery mass of the mammal, its gray
belly plain in the welter, a living raft against which the waves broke
and tossed their spray.

Clawing frantically, Sandy clutched at the base of the enormous pectoral
fin, clinging with maniacal strength, mad with fear. Striking out to
little purpose, save to help buoy himself, blinded by the flying scud
and broken crests, Rainey felt himself upreared, swept impotently on and
slammed against the slimy hulk, just close enough to Sandy to grasp him
by the collar, as the whale, stung by a killer's tearing at its oily
tongue, flailed with its fin and the two of them slid down its body,
deep under water.

Rainey fought against the suffocation and the fierce desire to gasp and
relieve his tortured lungs. The lad's weight seemed to be carrying him
down as if he was a thing of lead, but Rainey would not relax his grip.
He could not. He had centered all his energy upon the desire to save
Sandy, and his nerve centers were still tense to that last conscious
demand.

There came a swift, painful constriction of his chest that his failing
senses interpreted only as the end of things. Then his head came out
into the blessed air and he gulped what he could, though half of it was
water.

The _Karluk_ was into the wind and they were in what little lee there
was, dragging aft at the end of the halyards, being fetched in toward
the rail by the mighty tugs of Lund, a weird sight to Rainey's smarting
eyes as he caught sight of the giant, with red hair uncovered, his beard
whipping in the wind, his black glasses still in place, making some sort
of a blessed monster out of him.

Rainey had his left fist welded to the line, his right was set in
Sandy's collar, and Sandy's death clutch had twined itself into Rainey's
oilskins, though the lad was limp, and his face, seen through the watery
film that streamed over it, set and white.

A dozen arms shot down to grasp him. He felt the iron grip of Lund upon
his left forearm, almost wrenching his arm from its socket as he was
inhauled, caught at by body and legs and deposited on the deck of the
schooner, that almost instantly commenced to go about upon its former
course. Again he heard the bellow of the blind giant, as if it had been
a continuation of the order shouted as he had gone overboard.

"Ba-ack that jib to win'ard! Ba-ck it, you swabs!"

The _Karluk_ came about more smartly this time, swinging on the upheaval
of a wave and rushing off with ever-increasing speed. Lund bent over
him, asking him with a note that Rainey, for all his exhaustion,
interpreted as one of real anxiety:

"How is it with you, matey? Did ye git lunged up?"

Rainey managed to shake his head and, with Lund's boughlike arm for
support, got to his feet, winded, shaken, aching from his pounding and
the crash against the whale.

"Good man!" cried Lund, thwacking him on the shoulder and holding him up
as Rainey nearly collapsed under the friendly accolade.

Sandy was lying face down, one hunter kneeling across him, kneading his
ribs to bellows action, lifting his upper body in time to the pressure,
while another worked his slack arms up and down.

"I tank he's gone," said Hansen. "Swallowed a tubful."

"That was splendid, Mr. Rainey! Wonderful! It was brave of you!"

Peggy Simms stood before Rainey, clinging to the mainstays, a different
girl to the one that he had known. Her red lips were apart, showing the
clean shine of her teeth, above her glowing cheeks her gray eyes
sparkled with friendly admiration, one slender wet hand was held out
eagerly toward him.

"Why," said Rainey, in that embarrassment that comes when one knows he
has done well, yet instinctively seeks to disclaim honors, "any one
would have done that. I happened to be the only one to see it."

"I'm not so sure of that," replied the girl, and Rainey thought her lip
curled contemptuously as she glanced toward Carlsen at the wheel. Yet
Carlsen, he fancied, had full excuse for not having made the attempt,
busied as he had been adding needed strength to the wheel.

"Oh, it was not what he did, or failed to do," said the girl, and this
time there was no mistaking the fact that she emphasized her voice with
contempt and made sure that it would carry to Carlsen. "He said it
wasn't worth while."

Her eyes flashed and then she made a visible effort to control herself.
"But it was very brave of you, and I want to ask your pardon," she
concluded, with the crimson of her cheeks flooding all her face before
she turned away, and made abruptly for the companion.

A little bewildered, the touch of her slim but strong fingers still
sensible to his own, Rainey went to the wheel.

"Shall I take it over, Mr. Carlsen?" he asked. "It's my watch."

Carlsen surveyed him coolly. Either he pretended not to have heard the
girl's innuendo or it failed to get under his skin.

"You'd better get into some dry togs, Rainey," he said. "And I'll
prescribe a stiff jorum of grog-hot. Take your time about it." Rainey,
conscious of a wrenched feeling in his side, a growing nausea and
weakness, thanked him and took the advice. Half an hour later, save for
a general soreness, he felt too vigorous to stay below, and went on deck
again. Sandy had been taken forward. He encountered the hunter, Deming,
and asked after the roustabout.

"Born to be hanged," answered the hunter with more friendliness than he
had ever exhibited. "They pumped it out of him, and got his own pump to
workin'. He'll be as fit as a fiddle presently. Asking for you."

"I'll see him soon," said Rainey, and again offered relief to Carlsen,
which the doctor this time accepted.

"Miss Simms misunderstood me, Rainey," he said easily. "My intent was,
that Sandy could never stay on top in those seas, and that it was idle
to send a valuable man after a lout who was as good as dead. If it
hadn't been for the whale you'd never have landed him. And the killers
got the whale," he added, with his cynical grin.

So he had overheard. Rainey wondered whether the girl would accept the
amended statement if it was offered. At its best interpretation it was
callous.

When Hansen took over the watch Rainey went below to Sandy. Lund had
disappeared, but he found the giant in the triangular forecastle by
Sandy's bunk.

"That you, Rainey?" Lund asked as he heard the other's tread. Then he
dropped his voice to a whisper:

"The lad's grateful. Make the most of it. If he wants to spill
ennything, git all of it."

But Sandy seemed able to do nothing but grin sheepishly. He was half
drunk with the steaming potion that had been forced down him.

"I'll see you later, Mister Rainey," he finally stammered out. "See you
later, sir. You--I--"

Lund suddenly nudged Rainey in the ribs.

"Never mind now," he whispered.

A sailor had come into the forecastle with an extra blanket for Sandy,
contributed from the hunters' mess.

"That's all right, Sandy," said Rainey. "Better try to get some sleep."

The roustabout had already dropped off. The seaman touched his temple in
an old-fashioned salute.

"That was a smart job you did, sir," he said to Rainey.

The latter went aft with Lund through the hunters' quarters. They were
seated under the swinging lamp which had been lit in the gloom of the
gale, playing poker, as usual. But all laid down their cards as Rainey
appeared.

"Good work, sir!" said one of them, and the rest chimed in with
expressions that warmed Rainey's heart. He felt that he had won his way
into their good-will. They were human, after all, he thought.

"Glad to have you drop in an' gam a bit with us, or take a hand in a
game, sir," added Deming.

Rainey escaped, a trifle embarrassed, and passed through the alley that
went by the cook's domain into the main cabin. Tamada was at work, but
turned a gleam of slanting eyes toward Rainey as they passed the open
door. The main cabin was empty.

"Come into my room," suggested Lund. "I want to talk with you."

He stuffed his pipe and proffered a drink before he spoke.

"Best day's work you've done in a long while, matey," he said quietly.
"Take Deming's offer up, an' mix in with them hunters. An' pump thet
kid, Sandy. Pump him dry. He'll know almost as much as Tamada, an' he'll
come through with it easier."

"Just what are you afraid of?" asked Rainey.

"Son," said Lund simply, "I'm afraid of nothing. But they're primed for
somethin', under Carlsen. We'll be makin' Unalaska ter-morrer or the
next day. Here's hopin' it's the next. An' we've got to know what to
expect. Did you know that the skipper has had another bad spell?"

"No. When?"

"Jest a few minnits ago. Cryin' for Carlsen like a kid for its nurse an'
bottle. The doc's with him now. An' I'm beginnin' to have a hunch what's
wrong with him. Here's somethin' for you to chew on: Inside of
forty-eight hours there's goin' to be an upset aboard this hooker an'
it's up to me an' you to see we come out on top. If not--"

He spread out his arms with the great, gorilla-like hands at the end of
them, in a gesture that supplanted words. Beyond any doubt Lund expected
trouble. And Rainey, for the first time, began to sense it as something
approaching, sinister, almost tangible.

"You drop in on the hunters an' have a little game of poker ter-night,"
said Lund emphatically.

"I haven't got much money with me," said Rainey.

"Money, hell!" mocked Lund. "They don't play for money. They play for
shares in the gold. They've got the big amount fixed at a million, each
share worth ten thousand. 'Cordin' to the way things stand at present,
you've got forty thousand dollars' worth in chips to gamble with. Put it
up to 'em that way. I figger they'll accept it. If they don't, wal,
we've learned something. An' don't forget to git next to Sandy."

A good deal of this was enigmatical to Rainey, but there was no
mistaking Lund's tremendous seriousness and, duly impressed, Rainey
promised to carry out his suggestions.

As he crossed the main cabin to go to his own room, Carlsen came out of
the skipper's. He did not see Rainey at first and was humming a little
air under his breath as he slipped a small article into his pocket. His
face held a sneer. Then he saw Rainey, and it changed to a mask that
revealed nothing. His tune stopped.

"I hear the captain's sick again," said Rainey. "Not serious, I hope."

Carlsen stood there gazing at him with his look of a sphinx, his eyes
half-closed, the scoffing light showing faintly.

"Serious? I'm afraid it is serious this time, Rainey. Yes," he ended
slowly. "I am inclined to think it is really serious." He turned away
and rapped at the door of the girl's stateroom. In answer to a low reply
he turned the handle and went in, leaving Rainey alone.



CHAPTER VI

SANDY SPEAKS


The next morning Rainey, going on deck to relieve Hansen at eight bells,
in the commencement of the forenoon watch, found Lund in the bows as he
walked forward, waiting for the bell to be struck. The giant leaned by
the bowsprit, his spectacled eyes seeming to gaze ahead into the gray of
the northern sky, and it seemed to Rainey as if he were smelling the
wind. The sun shone brightly enough, but it lacked heat-power, and the
sea had gone down, though it still ran high in great billows of dull
green. There was a bite to the air, and Rainey, fresh from the warm
cabin, wished he had brought up his sweater.

Lightly as he trod, the giant heard him and instantly recognized him.

"How'd ye make out with the hunters last night?" he queried. "I turned
in early."

"We had quite a session," said Rainey. "They got me in the game, all
right."

"Enny objections 'bout yore stakin' yore share in the gold?"

"Not a bit. I fancy they thought it a bit of a joke. More of one after
we'd finished the game. I lost two thousand seven hundred dollars," he
added with a laugh. "No chips under a dollar. Sky limit. And Deming had
all the luck, and a majority of the skill, I fancy."

"Don't seem to worry you none."

"Well, it was sort of ghost money," laughed Rainey.

"You've seen the color of it," retorted Lund. "Hear ennything special?"

"No." Rainey spoke thoughtfully. "I had a notion I was being treated as
an outsider, though they were friendly enough. But, somehow I fancy they
reserved their usual line of talk."

"Shouldn't wonder," grunted Lund. "Seen Sandy yet?"

"I haven't had a chance. I imagined it would be best not to be seen
talking to him."

"Right. Matey, things are comin' to a head. There's ice in the air. I
can smell it. Feel the difference in temperature? Ice, all right. An'
that means two things. We're nigh one of the Aleutians, an' Bering
Strait is full of ice. Early, a bit, but there's nothin' reg'lar 'bout
the way ice forms. I've got a strong hunch something'll break before we
make the Strait.

"There's one thing in our favor. Yore savin' Sandy has set you solid
with the hunters. They won't be so keen to maroon you. An' they'll think
twice about puttin' me ashore blind. I used to git along fine with the
hunters. All said an' done, they're men at bottom. Got their hearts
gold-plated right now. But--"

He seemed obsessed with the idea that the crew, with Carlsen as prime
instigator, had determined to leave them stranded on some volcanic,
lonely barren islet. Rainey wondered what actual foundations he had for
that theory.

"The sailors--" he started.

"Don't amount to a bunch of dried herrin'. A pore lot. Swing either way,
like a patent gate. I ain't worryin' about them. I'm goin' to git my
coffee. I was up afore dawn, tryin' to figger things out. You git to
Sandy soon's you can, matey." And Lund went below.

Rainey saw nothing more of him until noon, at the midday meal. And he
found no chance to talk with Sandy. He noticed the boy looking at him
once or twice, wistfully, he thought, and yet furtively. A thickening
atmosphere of something unusual afoot seemed present. And the actual
weather grew distinctly colder. He had got his sweater, and he needed
it. The sailors had put on their thickest clothes. Carlsen did not
appear during the morning, neither did the hunters. Nor the girl.

At noon Carlsen came up to take his observation. He said nothing to
Rainey, but the latter noticed the doctor's face seemed more sardonic
than usual as he tucked his sextant under his arm.

With Hansen on deck they all assembled at the table with the exception
of the captain. Tamada served perfectly and silently. The doctor
conversed with the girl in a low voice. Once or twice she smiled across
the table at Rainey in friendly fashion.

"Skipper enny better?" asked Lund, at the end of the meal.

Carlsen ignored him, but the girl answered:

"I am afraid not." It was not often she spoke to Lund at all, and Rainey
wondered if she had experienced any change of feeling toward the giant
as well as himself.

Carlsen got up, announcing his intention of going forward. Lund nodded
significantly at Rainey as if to suggest that the doctor was going to
foregather with the hunters, and that this might be an opportunity to
talk with Sandy.

"Goin' to turn in," he said. "Eyes hurt me. It's the ice in the wind."

"Is there ice?" Peggy Simms asked Rainey as Lund disappeared. Carlsen
had already vanished.

"None in sight," he answered. "But Lund says he can smell it, and I
think I know what he means. It's cold on deck."

The girl went to the door of her own room and then hesitated and came
back to the table where Rainey still sat. He had four hours off, and he
meant to make an opportunity of talking to the roustabout.

"Mr. Carlsen told me he expects to sight land by to-morrow morning," she
said. "Unalaska or Unimak, most likely. How is the boy you saved?"

She seemed so inclined to friendliness, her eyes were so frank, that
Rainey resolved to talk to her. He held a notion that she was lonely,
and worried about her father. There were pale blue shadows under her
eyes, and he fancied her face looked drawn.

"May I ask you a question?" he asked.

"Surely."

"Just why did you beg my pardon? And, I may be wrong, but you seemed to
make a point of doing so rather publicly."

She flushed slowly, but did not avoid his gaze, coming over to the table
and standing across from him, her fingers resting lightly on the
polished wood.

"It was because I thought I had misunderstood you," she said. "And I
have thought it over since. I do not think that any man who would risk
his life to save that lad could have joined the ship with such motives
as you did. I--I hope I am not mistaken."

Rainey stared at her in astonishment.

"What motives?" he asked. "Surely you know I did not intend to go on
this voyage of my own free will?"

The changing light in her eyes reminded Rainey of the look of her
father's when he was at his best in some time of stress for the
schooner. They were steady, and the pupils had dilated while the irises
held the color of steel. There was something more than ordinary feminine
softness to her, he decided. She sat down, challenging his gaze.

"Do you mean to tell me," she asked, "that you did not use your
knowledge of this treasure to gain a share in it, under a covert threat
of disclosing it to the newspaper you worked for?"

It was Rainey's turn to flush. His indignation flooded his eyes, and the
girl's faltered a little. His wrath mastered his judgment. He did not
intend to spare her feelings. What did she mean by such a charge? She
must have known about the drugging. If not--she soon would.

"Your fiancé, Mr. Carlsen, told you that, I fancy," he said, "if you did
not evolve it from your own imagination." Now her face fairly flamed.

"My fiancé?" she gasped. "Who told you that?"

"The gentleman himself," answered Rainey.

"Oh!" she cried, closing her eyes, her face paling.

"The same gentleman," went on Rainey vindictively, "who put chloral in
my drink and deliberately shanghaied me aboard the _Karluk_, so that I
only came to at sea, with no chance of return. He, too, was afraid I
might give the snap away to my paper, though I would have given him my
word not to. He told me it was a matter of business, that he had
kidnapped me for my own good," he went on bitterly, recalling the talk
with Carlsen when he had come out of the influence of the drug. "You
don't have to believe me, of course," he broke off.

"I don't think you are quite fair, Mr. Rainey," the girl answered. "To
me, I mean. I will give you _my_ word that I knew nothing of this. I--"
She suddenly widened her eyes and stared at him. "Then--my father--he?"

Rainey felt a twinge of compassion.

"He was there when it happened," he said. "But I don't know that he had
anything to do with it. Mr. Carlsen may have convinced him it was the
only thing to do. He seems to have considerable influence with your
father."


[Illustration: "The same gentleman who put chloral in my drink"]


"He has. He--Mr. Rainey, I have begged your pardon once; I do so again.
Won't you accept it? Perhaps, later, we can talk this matter out. I am
upset. But--you'll accept the apology, and believe me?"

She put out her hand across the table and Rainey gripped it.

"We'll be friends?" she asked. "I need a friend aboard the _Karluk_, Mr.
Rainey."

He experienced a revulsion of feeling toward her. She was undoubtedly
plucky, he thought; she would stand up to her guns, but she suddenly
looked very tired, a pathetic figure that summoned his chivalry.

"Why, surely," he said.

They relinquished hands slowly, and again Rainey felt something more
than her mere grasp lingering, a slight tingling that warmed him to
smile at her in a manner that brought a little color back to her cheeks.

"Thank you," she said.

He watched her close the door of her cabin behind her before he
remembered that she had not denied that she was to marry Carlsen. But he
shrugged his shoulders as he started to smoke. At any rate, he told
himself, she knows what kind of a chap he is--in what he calls business.

Presently he thought he heard her softly sobbing in her room, and he got
up and paced the cabin, not entirely pleased with himself.

"I was a bit of a cad the way I went at her," he thought, "but that chap
Carlsen sticks in my gorge. How any decent girl could think of mating up
with him is beyond me--unless--by gad, I'll bet he's working through her
father to pull it off! For the gold! If he's in love with her he's got a
damned queer way of not showing it."

The door from the galley corridor opened, and a head was poked in
cautiously. Then Sandy came into the cabin.

"Beg pardon, Mister Rainey, sir," said the roustabout, "I was through
with the dishes. I wanted to have a talk with yer." His pop-eyes roamed
about the cabin doubtfully.

"Come in here," said Rainey, and ushered Sandy into his own quarters.

"Now, then," he said, established on the bunk, while Sandy stood by the
partition, slouching, irresolute, his slack jaw working as if he was
chewing something, "what is it, my lad?"

"They'd kick the stuffin' out of me if they knew this," said Sandy.
"I've bin warned to hold my tongue. Deming said he'd cut it out if I
chattered. An' he would. But--"

"But what? Sit down, Sandy; I won't give you away."

"You went overboard after me, sir. None of them would. I've heard what
Mr. Carlsen said, that I didn't ermount to nothin'. Mebbe I don't, but
I've got my own reasons for hangin' on. Me, of course I don't ermount to
much. Why would I? If I ever had mother an' father, I never laid eyes on
'em. I've made my own livin' sence I was eight. I've never 'ad enough
grub in my belly till I worked for Tamada. The Jap slips me prime
fillin'. He's only a Jap, but he's got more heart than the rest o' that
bloody bunch put tergether."

Rainey nodded.

"Tell me what you know, quickly. You may be wanted any minute."

The words seemed to stick in the lad's dry throat, and then they came
with a gush.

"It's the doc! It's Carlsen who's turned 'em into a lot of bloody
bolsheviks, sir. Told 'em they ought to have an ekal share in the gold.
Ekal all round, all except Tamada--an' me. I don't count. An' Tamada's a
Jap. The men is sore at Mr. Lund becoz he sez the skipper left him
be'ind on the ice. Carlsen's worked that up, too. Said Lund made 'em all
out to be cowards. 'Cept Hansen, that is. He don't dare say too much, or
they'd jump him, but Hansen sort of hints that Cap'n Simms ought to have
gone back after Lund, could have gone back, is the way Hansen put it. So
they're all goin' to strike."

Rainey's mind reacted swiftly to Sandy's talk. It seemed inconceivable
that Carlsen would be willing to share alike with the hunters and the
crew. Sandy's imagination had been running wild, or the men had been
making a fool of him. The girl's share would be thrown into the common
lot. And then flashed over him the trick by which Carlsen had disposed
of all the ammunition in the hunters' possession. He had a deeper scheme
than the one he fed to the hunters, and which he merely offered to serve
some present purpose. Rainey's jaw muscles bunched.

"Go on, Sandy," he said tersely.

"There ain't much more, sir. They're goin' to put it up to Lund. First
they figgered some on settin' him ashore with you an' the Jap. That's
what Carlsen put up to 'em. But they warn't in favor of that. Said Lund
found the gold, an' ought to have an ekal share with the rest. An'
they're feelin' diff'runt about you, sir, since you saved me. Not becoz
it was me, but becoz it was what Deming calls a damn plucky thing to
do."

"How did you learn all this?" demanded Rainey.

"Scraps, sir. Here an' there. The sailors gams about it nights when
they thinks I'm asleep in the fo'c's'le. An' I keeps my ears open when I
waits on the hunters. But they ain't goin' to give you no share becoz
you warn't in on the original deal. But they ain't goin' to maroon you,
neither, unless Lund bucks an' you stand back of him."

"How about Captain Simms?"

"Carlsen sez he'll answer for him, sir. He boasts how he's goin' to
marry the gal. That'll giv' him three shares--countin' the skipper's.
The men don't see that, but I did. He's a bloody fox, is Carlsen."

"When's this coming off?" asked Rainey.

"Quick! They're goin' to sight land ter-morrer, they say. I heard that
this mornin'. I hid in my bunk. It heads ag'inst the wall of the
hunters' mess an', if it's quiet, you can hear what they say.

"They ain't goin' in to Bering Strait through Unimak Pass. They're goin'
in through Amukat or Seguam Pass. An' they'll put it up to Lund an' the
skipper somewheres close by there. An' that's where you two'll get put
off, if you don't fall in line."

"All right, Sandy. You're smarter than I thought you were. Sure of all
this?"

"I ain't much to look at, sir, but I ain't had to buck my own way
without gittin' on ter myself. You won't give me away, though? They'd
keelhaul me."

"I won't. You cut along. And if we happen to come out on top, Sandy,
I'll see that you get a share out of it."

"Thank you, sir."

"I'll come out with you," said Rainey. "If any one comes in before you
get clear, I'll give you an order. I sent for you, understand."

But Sandy got back into the galley without any trouble. Rainey began to
pace the cabin again, and then went back into his own room to line the
thing up. Lund was asleep, but he would waken him, he decided, filled
with admiration at the blind man's sagacity and the way he had foreseen
the general situation.

There was not much time to lose. He did not see what they could do
against the proposition. He was sure that Lund would not consent to it.
And he might have some plan. He had hinted that he had cards up his
sleeve.

What Carlsen's ultimate plans were Rainey did not bother himself with.
That it meant the fooling of the whole crew he did not doubt. He
intended eventually to gather all the gold. And the girl--she would be
in his power. But perhaps she wanted to be? Rainey got out of his blind
alley of thought and started into the main cabin to give Lund the news.

The girl was coming out of her father's room.

"Any better?" asked Rainey.

"No. I can't understand it. He seems hardly to know me. Doctor Carlsen
came along because of father's sciatica, but--there's something
else--and the doctor can't help it any. I can't quite understand--"

She stopped abruptly.

"Have you known the doctor long?" asked Rainey.

"For a year. He lives in Mill Valley, close to my uncle. I live with my
father's brother when father is at sea. But this time I wanted to be
near him. And the doctor--"

Again she seemed to be deliberately checking herself from a revelation
that wanted to come out.

"Did he practise in Mill Valley? Or San Francisco?" asked Rainey,
remembering Lund's outburst against Carlsen's professional powers.

"No, he hasn't practised for some years. That was how it happened he was
able to go along. Of course, father promised him a certain share in the
venture. And he was a friend."

She trailed off in her speech, looking uncertainly at Rainey. The latter
came to a decision.

"Miss Simms," he said, "are you going to marry Doctor Carlsen?"

Suddenly Rainey was aware that some one had come into the cabin. It was
Carlsen, now swiftly advancing toward him, his face livid, his mouth
snarling, and his black eyes devilish with mischief.

"I'll attend to this end of it," he said. "Peggy, you had better go in
to your father. I'll be in there in a minute. He's a pretty sick man,"
he added.

His snarl had changed to a smile, and he seemed to have swiftly
controlled himself. The girl looked at both of them and slowly went into
the captain's room. Carlsen wheeled on Rainey, his face once more a mask
of hate.

"I'll put you where you belong, you damned interloper," he said. "What
in hell do you mean by asking her that question?"

"That is my business."

"I'll make it mine. And I'll settle yours very shortly, once and for
all. I suppose you're soft on the girl yourself," he sneered. "Think
yourself a hero! Do you think she'd look at you, a beggarly news-monger?
Why, she--"

"You can leave her out of it," said Rainey, quietly. "As for you, I
think you're a dirty blackguard."

Carlsen's hand shot back to his hip pocket as Rainey's fist flashed
through the opening and caught him high on the jaw, sending him
staggering back, crashing against the partition and down into the
cushioned seat that ran around the place.

But his gun was out. As he raised it Rainey grappled with him. Carlsen
pulled trigger, and the bullet smashed through the skylight above them,
while Rainey forced up his arm, twisting it fiercely with both hands
until the gun fell on the seat.

Simultaneously the girl and Lund appeared.

"Gun-play?" rumbled the giant. "That'll be you, Carlsen! You're too fond
of shooting off that gat of yores."

Rainey had stepped back at the girl's exclamation. Carlsen recovered his
gun and put it away, while Peggy Simms advanced with blazing eyes.

"You coward!" she said. "If I had thought--oh!"

She made a gesture of utter loathing, at which Carlsen sneered.

"I'll show you whether I'm a coward or not, my lady," he said, "before I
get through with all of you. And I'll tell you one thing: The captain's
life is in my hands. And he and I are the only navigators aboard this
vessel, except a fool of a blind man," he added, as he strode to the
door of Simms' cabin, turned to look at them, laughed deliberately in
their faces, and shut the door on them.



CHAPTER VII

RAINEY MAKES DECISION


"Well?" asked Lund, "what are you goin' to do about it, Rainey? Stick
with me, or line up with the rest of 'em, work yore passage, an' thank
'em for nothing when they divvy the stuff an' leave you out? You've got
to decide one way or the other damn' quick, for the show-down's on the
program for ter-morrer."

"You haven't said outright what you are going to do yourself," replied
Rainey. "As for me, I seem to be between the devil and the deep sea.
Carlsen has got some plan to outwit the men. It's inconceivable that
he'll be willing to give them equal shares. And he has no use for me."

"You ought to have grabbed that gun of his before he did," said Lund.
"He'll put you out of the way if he can, but, now his temper's b'iled
over a bit, he'll not shoot you. Not afore the gold's in the hold. One
thing, he knows the hunters wouldn't stand for it. They've got dust in
their eyes right now--gold-dust, chucked there by Carlsen, but if he'd
butchered you he'd likely lose his grip on 'em. I think he would. I
don't believe yo're in enny danger, Rainey, if you want to buckle in an'
line up with the crowd.

"As for me," he went on, his voice deepening, "I'm goin' to tell 'em to
go plumb to hell. I'll tell Carlsen a few things first. Equal shares! A
fine bunch of socialists they are! Settin' aside that Carlsen's bullin'
'em, as you say. Equal? They ain't my equal, none of 'em, man to man.
All men are born free an' equal, says the Constitution an' by-laws of
this country of ours. Granted. But they don't stay that way long.
They're all lined up to toe the mark on the start, but watch 'em
straggle afore they've run a tenth of the distance.

"I found this gold, an' they didn't. I don't have to divvy with 'em,
an' I won't. A lot of I. W. W.'s, that's what they are, an' I'll tell
'em so. More'n that, if enny of 'em thinks he's my equal all he's got to
do is say so, an' I'll give him a chance to prove it. Feel those arms,
matey, size me up. Man to man, I c'ud break enny of 'em in half. Put me
in a room with enny three of 'em, an' the door locked, an' one 'ud come
out. That 'ud be me."

This was not bragging, not blustering, but calm assurance, and Rainey
felt that Lund merely stated what he believed to be facts. And Rainey
believed they were facts. There was a confident strength of spirit aside
from his physical condition that emanated from Lund as steam comes from
a kettle. It was the sort of strength that lies in a steady gale, a wind
that one can lean against, an elastic power with big reserves of force.
But the conditions were all against Lund, though he proceeded to put
them aside.

"Man to man," he repeated, "I c'ud beat 'em into Hamburg steak. An' I've
got brains enough to fool Carlsen. I've outguessed him so far."

"He's got the gun," warned Rainey.

"Never mind his gun. I ain't afraid of his gun." He nodded with such
supreme confidence that Rainey felt himself suddenly relegating the
doctor's possession of the gun to the background. "If his gun's the only
thing trubblin' you, forget it. You an' me got to know where we stand.
It's up to you. I won't blame you for shiftin' over. An' I can git along
without you, if need be. But we've got along together fine; I've took a
notion to you. I'd like to see you get a whack of that gold, an' all the
devils in hell an' out of it ain't goin' to stop me from gittin' it!"

He talked in a low voice, but it rumbled like the distant roar of a
bull. Rainey looked at the indomitable jaw that the beard could not
hide, at the great barrel of his chest, the boughlike arms, the swelling
thighs and calves, and responded to the suggestion that Lund could rise
in Berserker rage and sweep aside all opposition.

It was absurd, of course; his next thought adjusted the balance that had
been weighed down by the compelling quality of the man's vigor but, for
the moment, remembering his earlier simile, Lund appeared a blind Samson
who, by some miracle, could at the last moment destroy his enemies by
pulling down their house--or their ship--about them.

"Carlsen says that the skipper's life is in his hands," he said, still
evading Lund's direct question. "What do you make of that?"

"I don't know what to make of it," answered Lund. "If it is, God help
the skipper! I reckon he's in a bad way. Ennyhow, he's out of it for the
time bein', Rainey. I don't think he'll be present at the meetin' if
he's that ill. Carlsen speaks for him. Count Simms out of it for the
present."

"There's the girl," said Rainey. "I don't believe she wants to marry
Carlsen."

"If she does," said Lund, "she ain't the kind we need worry about.
Carlsen 'ud marry her if he thought it was necessary to git her share by
bein' legal. He may try an' squeeze her to a wedding through the
skipper. Threaten to let her dad die if she don't marry him, likely'll
git the skipper to tie the knot. It 'ud be legal. But if you're
interested about the gal, Rainey, an' I take it you are, I'm tellin' you
that Carlsen'll marry her if it suits his book. If it don't, he won't.
An', if he wins out, he'll take her without botherin' about prayer-books
an' ceremonies. I know his breed. All men are more or less selfish an'
shy on morals, in streaks more or less wide, but that Carlsen's just
plain skunk."

"The men wouldn't permit that," said Rainey tersely. "If Carlsen started
anything like that I'd kill him with my own hands, gun or no gun. And
any white man would help me do it."

"You would, mebbe," said Lund, nodding sagely. "You'd have a try at it.
But you don't know men, matey, not like I do. This ship's got a skipper
now. A sick one, I grant you. But so far he's boss. An' he's the gal's
father. All's usual an' reg'lar. But you turn this schooner into a
free-an'-easy, equal shares-to-all, go-as-you-please outfit, let 'em git
their claws on the gold, an' be on the way home to spend it--for
Carlsen'll let 'em go that far afore he pulls his play, whatever it
is--an' discipline will go by the board.

"Grog'll be served when they feel like it, they'll start gamblin', some
of 'em'll lose all they got. There'll be sore-heads, an' they'll
remember there's a gal in the after-cabin, which won't be the
after-cabin enny more, for they'll all have the run of it, bein' equal;
then all hell's goin' to break loose, far's that gal's concerned.

"A bunch of men who've bin at sea for weeks, half drunk, crazy over
havin' more gold than they ever dreamed of, or havin' gambled it away.
Jest a bunch of beasts, matey, whenever they think of that gal. They'll
be too much for Carlsen to handle--an'"--he tapped at Rainey's
knee--"Carlsen don't think enough of enny woman to let her interfere
with his best interests."

Rainey's jaw was set and his fists clenched, his blood running hot and
fast. His imagination was instinct to conjure up full-colored scenes
from Lund's suggestions.

"You mean--" he began.

"Under his hide, when there ain't nothin' to hinder him, a man's plain
animal," said Lund. "What do these water-front bullies know about a good
gal--or care? They only know one sort. Ever think what happened to a
woman in privateer days when they got one aboard, alone, on the high
seas? Why, if they pushed Carlsen, he'd turn her over to 'em without
winkin'."

"You hinted I was different," said Rainey. "How about you, Lund, how
would you act?"

"If Carlsen wins out, I'd be chewin' mussels on a rock, or feedin'
crabs," said Lund simply. "I'm no saint, but, so long as I can keep
wigglin', there ain't enny hunter or seaman goin' to harm a decent gal.
That's another way they ain't my equal, Rainey. Savvy? Nor is Carlsen.
There ain't enough real manhood in that Carlsen to grease a skillet. How
about it, Rainey; are you lined up with me?"

"Just as far as I can go, Lund. I'm with you to the limit."

Lund brought down his hand with a mighty swing, and caught at Rainey's
in mid-air, gripping it till Rainey bit his lips to repress a cry of
pain.

"You've got the guts!" cried the giant, checking the loudness of his
voice abruptly. "I knew it. It ain't all goin' to go as they like it.
Watch my smoke. Now, then, keep out of Carlsen's way all you can. He may
try an' pick a row with you that'll put you in wrong all around. Go easy
an' speak easy till land's sighted. If you ain't invited to this
I. W. W. convention, horn in.

"Carlsen'll try an' keep you on deck, I fancy. Don't stay there. Turn
the wheel over to Sandy if you have to. I'll insist on havin' you
there. That'll be better. They'll probably have some fool agreement to
sign. Carlsen would do that. Make 'em all feel it's more like a bizness
meetin'. They'll love to scrawl their names an' put down their marks.
I'll have to have you there to read it over to me; savvy?"

"What do you think Carlsen's game is, if it goes through?"

"He's fox enough to think up a dozen ways. Run the schooner ashore
somewhere in the night. Wreck her. Git 'em in the boats with the gold.
Inside of a week, Deming an' one or two others would have won it all.
Then--he'd have the only gun--he'd shoot the lot of 'em an' say they
died at sea. He ain't got enny more warm blood than a squid. Or he might
land, and accuse 'em all of piracy. What do we care about his plans? He
ain't goin' to put 'em over."

Rainey had to relieve Hansen. He left Lund primed for resistance against
Carlsen, against all the crew, if necessary, resolved to save the girl,
but, as Lund stayed below and the time slid by, his confidence oozed out
of him, and the odds assumed their mathematical proportion.

What could they do against so many? But he held firm in his
determination to do what he could, to go down with the forlorn hope,
fighting. Blind as he was, Lund was the better man of the two of them,
Rainey felt; it was better to attempt to seize the horns of the dilemma
than weakly to give way and, with Lund killed, or marooned, try
single-handed to protect Peggy Simms against the horrors that would come
later.

He did not believe himself in love with her. The environment had not
been conducive to that sort of thing. But the thought of her, their
hands clasped, her eyes appealing, saying she needed a friend aboard the
_Karluk_; the young clean beauty of her, nerved him to stand with Lund
against the odds. Lund was fighting for his rights, for his gold, but he
had said that he would not see a decent girl harmed as long as he could
wiggle. Rough sea-bully as the giant was, he had his code. Rainey
tingled with contempt of his own hesitancy.

The _Karluk_ was bowling along northward toward landfall and the crisis
between Lund and Carlsen at good speed. The weather had subsided and the
half gale now served the schooner instead of hindering her. Rainey
turned over the wheel to a seaman and paced the deck. The bite in the
air had increased until even the smart walk he maintained failed to
circulate the blood sufficiently to keep his fingers from becoming
benumbed, so that he had to beat his arms across his chest.

It was well below the freezing point. If they had been sailing on fresh
water, instead of salt, he fancied that the rigging would have been
glazed where the spray struck it. As it was, the canvas seemed to him
stiffer than usual, and there was a whitish haze about the northern
horizon that suggested ice.

The tall, olive-tinted seas ranged up in dissolving hills, the wind's
whistle was shrill in the rigging. Over the mainmast a gray-breasted
bird with wide, unmoving pinions hung without apparent motion, its ruby
eyes watching the ship, as if it was a spy sent out from the Arctic to
report the adventurous strangers about to dare its dangers.

As the day passed to sunset the gloom quickly deepened. The sun sank
early into banks of leaden clouds, and the _Karluk_ slid on through the
seething seas in a scene of strange loneliness, save for the suspended
albatross that never varied its position by an inch or by a flirt of its
plumes.

Rainey felt the dreary suggestion of it all as he walked up and down,
trying to evolve some plan. Lund's mysterious hints were unsatisfactory.
He could not believe them without some basis, but the giant would never
go further than vague talk of a "joker" or a card up his sleeve. And
they would need more than one card, Rainey thought.

He wondered whether they could win over Hansen, who had spoken for Lund
against the skipper. And had then kept his counsel. But he dismissed
Hansen as an ally. The Scandinavian was too cautious, too apt to
consider such things as odds. Sandy was useless, aside from his
good-will. He was cowed by Deming, scared of Carlsen, too puny to do
more than he had done, given them warning.

Tamada? Would he fight for the share of gold he expected to come to him?
Lund had described him as neutral. But, if he knew that he was to be
left out of the division? It was not likely that he would be called to
the conference. The Japanese undoubtedly knew the racial prejudice
against him, a prejudice that Rainey considered short-sighted, taking
some pains to show that he did not share it. At any rate, Tamada might
provide him with a weapon, a sharp-bladed vegetable knife if nothing
better.

But, if it came to downright combat, they must be overwhelmed. Carlsen's
gun again assumed proper proportions. Lund might not be afraid of it,
but Rainey was, very frankly. He should have snatched it from the cabin
cushions. But Tamada? He could not dismiss Tamada as an important
factor. There was no question to Rainey but that Tamada was, by caste,
above his position as sealer's cook. It was true that a Japanese
considered no means menial if they led to the proper end.

Was that end merely to gain possession of his share of the gold, or did
Tamada have some deeper, more complicated reason for signing on to run
the galley of the _Karluk_? Somehow Rainey thought there was such a
reason. He treated Tamada with a courtesy that he had found other
Japanese appreciated, and fancied that Tamada gradually came to regard
him with a certain amount of good-will. But it was hard to determine
anything that went on back of those unfathomable eyes, or to read
Tamada's face, smooth and placid as that of an ivory image.



CHAPTER VIII

TAMADA TALKS


Tamada's galley was as orderly and efficient as the operating-room of a
first-class hospital. And Tamada at his work had all the deftness and
some of the dignity of a surgeon. There was no wasted move, there was no
litter of preparation, every article was returned to its specified place
as soon as used, and every implement and utensil was shining and
spotless.

It was an hour from the third meal of the day. Tamada was juggling the
food for three messes, and he was doing it with the calm precision of
one who has every detail well mapped out and is moving on schedule. The
boy Sandy was not there, probably engaged in laying the table for the
hunters' mess, Rainey imagined.

Tamada regarded him with eyes that did not lack a certain luster, as a
sloeberry might hold it, but which, beneath their hooded lids, revealed
neither interest, nor curiosity, nor friendliness. They belonged in his
unwrinkled face, they were altogether neutral. Yet they seemed covertly
to suggest to Rainey that they might, on occasion, flame with wrath or
hatred, or show the burning light of high intelligence. Seldom, he
thought, while their gaze rested on him impassively, would they soften.

"Tamada," he queried, "you think I am your friend, that I would rather
help you than otherwise?"

"I think that--yes?" answered the Japanese without hesitation and
without servility. And his eyes slowly searched Rainey's face with
appraising pertinacity for a second or two. His English, save for the
oddness of his idioms and a burr that made _r's_ of most his _l's_, and
sometimes reversed the process, was almost perfect. His vocabulary
showed study. "You are not hating me because you are Californian and I
Japanese," he said. "I know that."

There was little time to spare, and there was likelihood of
interruption, so Rainey plunged into his subject without introduction.

"They promised you a share of this treasure, Tamada?" he asked.

"They promised me that, yes."

"They do not intend to give it to you." There was a tiny, dancing
flicker in the dark eyes that died like a spark in the night air. Rainey
recalled Lund's opinion that little went on that Tamada did not know.
"You may have guessed this," he hurried on, "but I am sure of it. I,
too, am promised some of the gold, but they do not intend to give it to
me. They will offer Mr. Lund only a small portion of what was originally
arranged, the same amount as the rest of them are to get. He will refuse
that to-morrow, when a meeting is to be called. Then there will be
trouble. I shall stand with Mr. Lund. If we win you will get your share,
whether you help us or not. If you help us I can promise you at least
twice the amount you were to get."

"How can I help you? If this is to be talked over at a meeting I shall
not be allowed to be present. If trouble starts it will do so
immediately. Mr. Lund"--he called it Rund--"is not patient man. What can
I do? How can I help you?"

Rainey was nonplused. He had seized the first opportunity
of sounding the Japanese, and he had nothing outlined.

"I do not know," he said. "I must talk that over with Mr. Lund. I wanted
to know if you would be on our side."

"Mr. Lund will not want me to help you. He does not like color of my
skin, he does not like Japanese because he thinks they make too good
living in California, and making more money than some of his countrymen.
I do not think it help you for me to join. I do not see how you can win.
If you can show some way out I will do what I can. But I like to see way
out."

He mollified the bald acknowledgment of his neutrality with a little bow
and a hissing-in breath. Back of it all was a will that was inflexible,
thought Rainey.

"If we lose, you lose," he went on lamely. He had come on a fool's
errand, he decided.

"I think I shall get my money," said Tamada, and something looked out of
his eyes that betrayed a purpose already gained, Rainey fancied, as a
chess player might gain assurance of victory by the looking ahead to all
conceivable moves against him, and providing a counter-play that would
achieve the game. It was borne in upon him that Tamada had resources he
could not fathom. The Oriental gave a swift smile, that held no mirth,
no friendship, rather, a sardonic appreciation of the situation, without
rancor.

"They are very foolish," he said. "They make me cook, they eat what I
serve. They say Tamada is very good cook. But he is Jap, damn him.
Suppose I put something in that food, that they would not taste? I could
send them all to sleep. I could kill them. I could do it so they never
suspect, but would go to their beds--and never get up from them. It
would be very easy. Yet they trust me."

The statement was so matter-of-fact that Rainey felt his horror gather
slowly as he stared at the impassive Oriental.

"You would do that? What good would it do you? You would have to kill
them all, or the rest would tear you apart. And if you murdered the
whole ship where would you be? You talk as if you were a little mad.
Suppose I told Carlsen of this?"

Tamada was smiling again. He seemed to know that Rainey was in no
position to betray him--if he wished to do so.

"I did not say I would do it. And, except under certain circumstances,
it do me little good. I do not expect to do it. But it would be easy.
Yet, as you say, it would not help you to kill only few, those who will
be at the meeting, for example, even if I wish to do. No, I do not see
way out. If, at any time there should seem way out and I can help you, I
will."

He turned abruptly to a simmering pot and rattled the lid. The hunter,
Deming, stuck his head in at the door.

"Smells good," he said. "Evening, Mr. Rainey."

He seemed disposed to linger, and Rainey, not to excite suspicion toward
himself or Tamada, went back on deck. What did Tamada mean by "except
under certain circumstances"? he asked himself. For one thing he felt
sure that Tamada had some basis for his expression that he expected to
get his money. _He knew something_. Was it merely the Oriental method of
_jiu-jitsu_, practised mentally as well as physically, the belief in a
seemingly passive resistance against circumstances, waiting for some
move that, by its own aggressiveness, would give him an opening for a
trick that would secure him the advantage? What could one Japanese hope
to do against the crowd?

A thought suddenly flashed over Rainey. Was Tamada in league with
Carlsen? Had he mistaken his man? Did Carlsen plan to have Tamada
undertake a wholesale poisoning to secure the gold himself, providing
the drugs? Was it a friendly hint from the Japanese?

Still mulling over it he went down to supper. The girl was not present.
Carlsen appeared in an unusual mood.

"I was a bit hasty, Rainey," he said, with all appearance of sincerity.
"I've been worried a bit over the skipper. He's in a bad way.

"Forget what happened, if you can. I apologize. Though I still think
your interference in my private affairs unwarranted. I'll call it
square, if you will."

He nodded across the table at Rainey, saving the latter a reply which he
was rather at a loss how to word. Amenities from Carlsen were likely a
Greek gift. And Carlsen rattled on during the meal in high good spirits,
rallying Rainey about his poker game with the hunters, joking Lund about
his shooting, talking of the landfall they expected the next day.

To Rainey's surprise Lund picked up the talk. There was a subtle,
sardonic flavor to it on both sides and, once in a while, as Tamada,
like an animated sphinx, went about his duties, Rainey saw the eyes of
Carlsen turned questioningly upon the giant as if a bit puzzled
concerning the exact spirit of his sallies.

Rainey admired while he marveled at the sheer skill of Lund in this sort
of a fencing bout. He never went far enough to arouse Carlsen's
suspicions, yet he showed a keen sense of humorous appreciation of
Carlsen's half-satirical sallies that, in the light of Sandy's
revelation, showed the doctor considered himself the master of the
situation, the winner of a game whose pieces were already on the board,
though the players had not yet taken their places. Yet Rainey fancied
that Carlsen qualified his dismissal of Lund as a "blind fool" before
they rose from the table, without disturbing his own equanimity as the
craftier of the two.

Later, when his watch was ended and he was closeted with Lund in the
latter's cabin, the giant promptly quashed all discussion of Tamada's
attitude.

"I'll put no trust in any slant-eyed, yellow-skinned rice-eater," he
announced emphatically. "They're against us, race an' religion. They
want California, or rather, the Pacific coast, an' they think they're
goin' to git it. They're no more akin to us than a snake is a cousin to
an eel. They're not of our breed, an' you can't mix the two. I'll have
no deal with Tamada, beyond gettin' dope out of him. If he helped us it
'ud be only to further his own ends. Not that he can do much--unless--"

He lowered his voice to a husky whisper.

"There's one thing may slip in our gold-gettin', matey," he said--"the
Japanese. I doubt if this island is set down on American or British
charts. But I'll bet it is on the Japanese. I don't know as any nation
has openly claimed it, but it's a sure thing the Japs know of its
existence. They don't know of the gold, or it wouldn't be there.
Rightly, the island may belong to Russia, but, since the war, Russia's
in a bad way, an' ennything loose from the mainland'll be gobbled by
Japan.

"What the Japs grab they don't let go of. On general principles they
patrol the west side of Bering Strait. If one of their patrols sees us
we'll be inside the sealin' limit, an' they'll have right of search.
They'd take it, ennyway, if they sighted us. They go by _power_ of
search, not right. They won't find enny pelts on us, we've got hunters
aboard, we're pelagic sealers, they won't be able to hang up enny
clubbin' of herds on us.

"But, if they should suspicion us of gittin' gold off enny island they
c'ud trump up to call theirs, if they found gold on us at all, it 'ud be
all off with us an' the _Karluk_. We'd be dumped inside of some Jap
prison an' the schooner confiscated.

"An', if things go right with us, an' we ever sight the smoke of a Jap
gunboat comin' our way, the first thing I'll be apt to do will be to
scrag Tamada or he'll blow the whole proposition, whether we've got the
gold aboard or not. Even if he didn't want to tell becoz of his own
share, they'd git it out of him what we was after."

Did this, wondered Rainey, explain Tamada's "certain circumstances"? Was
he calculating on the arrival of a Japanese patrol? Had he already
tipped off to his consul in San Francisco the purpose of the expedition,
sure of a reward equal to what his share would have been? If so, Rainey
had made a muddle of his attempt to sound Tamada. He felt guilty, glad
that Lund could not see his face, and he dropped the subject abruptly.

Lund seemed to know that something was amiss.

"Nervous, Rainey?" he asked. "That's becoz you've not bin livin' a man's
life. All yore experience has bin second-hand, an' you've never gone
into a rough-an'-tumble, I take it. You'll make out all right if it
comes to that at all. Yo're well put up, an' you've got solid of late.
Now yo're goin' to git a taste of life in the raw. Not story-book stuff.
It's strong meat sometimes, an' liable to turn some people's stomachs.
I've got an appetite for it, an' so'll you have, after a bit.

"Ever play much at cards?" he went on. "Play for yore last red when you
don't know where to turn for another, an' have all the crowd thinkin'
yo're goin' broke as they watch the play? An' then you slap down a card
they've all overlooked an' larf in the other chap's face?

"That's what I'm goin' to do with Carlsen. I've got that kind of a card,
matey, an' I ain't goin' to spoil my fun by tellin' even you what it is,
though yo're my partner in this gamble. It's a trump, an' Carlsen's
overlooked it. He figgers he's stacked the deck an' fixed it so's he
deals himself all the winnin' cards. But there's one he don't know is
there becoz he's more of a blind fool than I am, is Doctor Carlsen."

Lund chuckled hugely as he mixed himself some whisky and water. Rainey
refused a drink. Lund was right, he was nervous, bothering over what the
outcome might be, and how he might handle himself. He was not at all
sure of his own grit.

Lund had hit the nail on the head. All his experience had lain in
listening to the stories of others and writing them down. He did not
know whether he would act in a manner that would satisfy himself. There
was a nasty doubt as to his own prowess and his own courage that kept
cropping up. And that state of mind is not a pleasant one.

"All be over this time ter-morrer," put in Lund, "so far as our bisness
with Carlsen is concerned. You git all the sleep you can ter-night,
Rainey. An' don't you worry none about that gal. She's a damn' sight
more capable of lookin' after herself than you imagine. You ain't
counted her in as bein' more than a clingin' vine proposition. Not that
she could buck it on her own, but she's no fool, an' I bet she's game.

"Soft on her?" he challenged unexpectedly.

"I haven't thought of her in that way," Rainey answered, a bit shortly.

"Ah!" the giant ejaculated softly. "You haven't? Wal, mebbe it's jest as
well."

Rainey took that last remark up on deck and pondered over it in the
middle watch, but he could make nothing out of it. Yet he was sure that
Lund had meant something by it.

In the middle of the night the cold seemed to concentrate. Rainey had
found mittens in the schooner's slop-chest, and he was glad of them at
the wheel. The sailors, with but little to do, huddled forward. One man
acted as lookout for ice. The smell of this was now unmistakable even to
Rainey's inexperience. On certain slants of wind a sharper edge would
come that bit through ordinary clothes. It was, he thought, as if some
one had suddenly opened in the dark the doors of an enormous
refrigerator. He knew what that felt like, and this was much the same.

The weather was still clearing. In the sky of indigo the stars were
glittering points, not of gold, but steel, hard and cold. Ahead, the
northern lights were projected above the horizon in a low arch of
quivering rose. And, out of the north, before the wind, the sea advanced
in the long, smooth folds of a weighty swell over which the _Karluk_
wore her way into the breeze, clawing steadily on to the Aleutians and a
passage through to Bering Strait.

At two bells the hunters began to come on deck for a breath or so of
fresh air after the closeness of their quarters, as they invariably did
following a poker session. They did not come aft or give any greeting to
Rainey, but walked briskly about in couples, discussing something that
Rainey did not doubt was the next day's meeting. Doubtless, in the
confidence of their numbers, they considered it a mere formality. Lund
would take what they offered--or nothing. And Carlsen had guaranteed the
skipper's signature to an agreement.

They got their lungs recharged with good air, and then the cold drove
them below, and Rainey, with the length of the schooner between him and
the watch, was practically alone. He went over and over the situation
as a squirrel might race around the bars of his revolving cylinder, and
came to only one conclusion, the inevitable one, to let the matter
develop itself. Lund's winning card he had bothered about until his
brain was tired. The only thing he got out of all his fussing was the
one new thought that seemed to fly out at a tangent and mock him.

If Carlsen was deposed, and the skipper continued ill--to face the worst
but still plausible--if Carlsen, being deposed, refused to act, and the
skipper was too sick to leave his room--who was going to navigate the
schooner? Not a blind man. And Rainey couldn't learn navigation in a
day. There was more to it in these perilous seas than mere reckoning.
Ice was ahead.

What could Lund make of that? Supposing that card of his did win, how
could they handle the schooner? He, in his capacity of eyes for Lund,
would be about as competent as a poodle trying to lead a blind pedler
out of a maze.

The lookout broke in on his mulling over with a sudden shout.

"_Ice! Ice!_ Close on the starboard bow!"

Rainey put the helm over, throwing the _Karluk_ on the opposite tack.

The berg slipped by them, not as he had imagined it, a thing of
sparkling minarets and pinnacles, but a hill of snow that materialized
in the soft darkness and floated off again to dissolution like the ghost
of an island, leaving behind the bitter chill of death, rising and
falling until, in a moment, it was gone, with its threat of shipwreck
had the night been less clear.

Five times before eight bells the cry came from forward, and the heaps
of shining whiteness would take form, gather a certain sharpness of
outline, and go past the beam with the seas surging about them and
breaking with a hollow boom upon their cavernous sides. And this was in
the open sea. Lund had suggested that the strait would be full of ice.
Rainey felt his sailing experience, that he came to be rather proud of,
pitifully limited and inadequate in the face of coming conditions.

When he turned in at last, despite his determination to follow Lund's
admonition concerning sleep, it would not come to him. Hansen had taken
over the deck stolidly enough, with no show of misgivings as to his
ability to handle things, but his words had not been cheering to Rainey.

"Plenty ice from now on, Mr. Rainey. Now we bane goin' to have one hard
yob on our hands, by yiminy, you an' me!"



CHAPTER IX

THE POT SIMMERS


Rainey was awakened at half past seven by the swift rush of men on deck
and a confused shouting. The sun was shining brightly through his
porthole and then it became suddenly obscured. He looked out and saw a
turreted mass of ice not half a cable's length away from the schooner,
water cascading all over its hills and valleys, that were distinct
enough, but so smoothed that the truth flashed over him. Here was a berg
that had suddenly turned turtle and exposed its greater, under-water
bulk to the air.

About it the sea was dark and vivid blue, and the berg sparkled in the
sun with prismatic reflections that gave all the hues of the rainbow to
its prominences, while the bulk glowed like a fire opal. Between it and
the schooner the sea ran in a lasher of diminishing turmoil. Hansen had
carelessly sailed too close. The momentum of the _Karluk_ and its slight
wave disturbance must have sufficed to upset the equilibrium of the
berg, floating with only a third of its bulk above the water. And the
displacement had narrowly missed the schooner's side.

He got a cup of coffee after dressing warmly, and went up. Carlsen and
the girl had preceded him and were gazing at the iceberg. The doctor
seemed to be in the same rare vein of humor as overnight. Lund stood at
the rail with his beak of a nose wrinkled, snuffing toward the icy crags
that were spouting a dazzle of white flame, set about with smaller,
sudden flares of ruby, emerald and sapphire.

"Close shave, that, Rainey," called Carlsen. "She turned turtle on us."

"Too close to be pleasant," said Rainey, and went to the wheel. The girl
had given him a smile, but he marked her face as weary from
sleeplessness and strain. Rainey left the spokes in charge of Hansen for
a minute--Hansen stolid and chewing like an automaton, undisturbed by
the incident now it had passed--and asked the girl how her father was.

"I am afraid--" she began, then glanced at Carlsen.

"He is not at all well," said the doctor, facing Rainey, his face away
from the girl. As he spoke he left his mouth open for a moment, his
tongue showing between his white teeth, in a grin that was as mocking as
that of a wolf, mirthless, ruthless, triumphant. And for a fleeting
second his eyes matched it.

Rainey restrained a sudden desire to smash his fist into that sardonic
mask. This was the day of Carlsen's anticipated victory, the first of
his calculated moves toward check-mate, and he was palpably enjoying it.

"Not--at--all--well," repeated Carlsen slowly. "He needs something to
bring him out of himself, as he now is. A little excitement. Yet he
should not be crossed in any way. We shall see."

He shifted his position and looked at the girl much as a wolf, not
particularly hungry, might look at a tethered lamb. His tongue just
touched the inner edges of his lips. It was as if the wolf had licked
his chops.

"Carlsen would be a bad loser," Lund had once said, "and a nasty winner.
He'd want to rub it in as soon as he knew he had you beat."

Rainey gripped the spokes hard until he felt the pressure of his bones
against the wood. Carlsen's attitude had had one good effect. His
nervousness had disappeared, and a cold rage taken its place. He could
cheerfully have attempted to throttle Carlsen without fear of his gun.
For that matter, he had faced the pistol once and come off best. What a
fool he had been, though, to let Carlsen regain his automatic! Now he
was anxious for the landfall, keen for the show-down.

Far on the horizon, northward, he sighted glimmering flashes of milky
whiteness that came and went to the swing of the schooner. This could
not be land, he decided, or they would have announced it. It was ice,
pack-ice, or floes. He tried to recollect all that he had heard or read
of Arctic voyages, and succeeded only in comprehending his own
ignorance. Of the rapidly changing conditions the commonest sailor
aboard knew more than he. Blind Lund, sniffing to windward, smelled and
heard far more than he could rightfully imagine.

Tamada appeared and announced breakfast.

"You'll be coming later, Rainey?" asked Carlsen. "You and Lund?"

He started for the companionway and the girl followed. As she passed the
wheel Rainey spoke to her:

"I am sorry your father is worse, Miss Simms," he said.

She looked at him with eyes that were filled with sadness, that seemed
liquid with tears bravely held back.

"I am afraid he is dying," she answered in a low voice. "Thank you, for
you sympathy. I--"

She stopped at some slight sound that Rainey did not catch. But he saw
the face of Carlsen framed in the shadow of the companion, his mouth
open in the wolf grin, and the man's eyes were gleaming crimson. He held
up a hand for the girl. She passed down without taking it.

Lund came over to Rainey.

"Clear weather, they tell me?" he said. "That's unusual. Fog off the
Aleutians three hundred an' fifty days of the year, as a rule. Soon as
we sight land, which'll be Unalaska or thereabouts, he'll have the
course changed. There's a considerable fleet of United States revenue
cutters at Unalaska, an' Carlsen won't pull ennything until we're well
west of there. He's pretty cocky this mornin'. Wal, we'll see."

There had always been a certain rollicking good-humor about Lund. This
morning he was grim, his face, with its beak of a nose and aggressive
chin beneath the flaming whiskers, and his whole magnificent body gave
the impression of resolve and repressed action. Rainey fancied
whimsically that he could hear a dynamo purring inside of the giant's
massiveness. He had seen him in open rage when he had first denounced
Honest Simms, but the serious mood was far more impressive.

The big man stepped like a great cat, his head was thrust slightly
forward, his great hands were half open. One forgot his blindness.
Despite the unsightly black lenses, Lund appeared so absolutely prepared
and, in a different way, fully as confident as Carlsen. A certain
audacious assurance seemed to ooze out of him, to permeate his
neighborhood, and a measure of it extended to Rainey.

"We'll sight Makushin first," muttered Lund, as if to himself.

"Makushin?"

"Volcano, fifty-seven hundred feet high. Much ice in sight?"

Rainey described the horizon.

"All fresh-water ice," said Lund. "An' melting."

"Melting? It must be way below freezing," said Rainey. Lund chuckled.

"This ain't cold, matey. Wait till we git _north_. Never saw it lower
than five above in Unalaska in my life. It's the rainiest spot in the
U. S. A. Rains two days out of three, reg'lar. This ice is comin' out of
the strait. Sure sign it's breakin' up. The winter freeze ain't due for
six weeks yet."

Carlsen, before he went below, had sent a man into the fore-spreaders,
and now he shouted, cupping his hands and sounding his news as if it had
been a call to arms.

"_Land-ho!_"

"What is it?" called Rainey back.

"High peak, sir. Dead ahead! Clouds on it, or smoke."

He came sliding down the halyards to the deck as Lund said: "That'll be
Makushin. Now the fun'll commence."

From below the sailors off watch came up on deck, and the hunters, the
latter wiping their mouths, fresh from their interrupted breakfast, all
crowding forward to get a glimpse of the land. Rainey kept on the
course, heading for the far-off volcano. Minutes passed before Carlsen
came on deck. He had not hurried his meal.

"I'll take her over, Rainey," he said briefly.

Rainey and Lund were barely seated before the heeling of the schooner
and the scuffle of feet told of Lund's prophesied change of course.
Rainey looked at the telltale compass above his head.

"Heading due west," he told Lund.

"West it is," said the giant. "More coffee, Tamada. Fill your belly,
Rainey. Get a good meal while the eatin' is good."

Although it was Hansen's watch below, Rainey found him at the wheel
instead of the seaman he had left there. Carlsen came up to him smiling.

"Better let Hansen have the deck, Mr. Rainey," he said. "We're going to
have a conference in the cabin at four bells, and I'd like you to be
present."

"All right, sir," Rainey answered, getting a thrill at this first actual
intimation of the meeting. Hansen, it seemed, was not to be one of the
representatives of the seamen. And Carlsen had been smart enough to
forestall Lund's demand for Rainey by taking some of the wind out of the
giant's sails and doing the unexpected. Unless the hunters had suggested
that Rainey be present. But that was hardly likely, considering that he
was to be left out of the deal.

"In just what capacity are you callin' this conference?" Lund asked,
when Carlsen notified him in turn. "The skipper ain't dead is he?"

"I represent the captain, Lund," replied the doctor. "He entirely
approves of what I am about to suggest to you and the men. In fact I
have his signature to a document that I hope you will sign also. It will
be greatly to your interest to do so. I am in present charge of the
_Karluk_."

"You ain't a reg'lar member of this expedition," objected Lund stolidly.
"Neither am I a member of the crew, just now. But the skipper's my
partner in this deal, signed, sealed and recorded. Afore I go to enny
meetin' I'd like to have a talk with him personally. Thet's fair enough,
ain't it?"

Several of the hunters had gathered about, and Lund's question seemed a
general appeal. Carlsen shrugged his shoulders.

"If you had your eyesight," he said almost brutally, "you could soon see
that the skipper was in no condition to discuss matters, much less be
present."

"Here's my eyesight," countered Lund. "Mr. Rainey here. Let him see the
skipper and ask him a question or two."

"What kind of question? I'm asking as his doctor, Lund."

"For one thing if he's read the paper you say he signed. I want to be
sure of that. An' I don't make it enny of yore bizness, Carlsen, what I
want to say to my partner, by proxy or otherwise. Second thing, I'd like
to be sure he's still alive. As for yore standin' as his doctor, all
I've got to say is that yo're a damned pore doctor, so fur as the
skipper's concerned, ennyway."

The two men stood facing each other, Carlsen looking evilly at the
giant, whose black glasses warded off his glance. It was wasting looks
to glare at a blind man. Equally to sneer. But the bout between the two
was timed now, and both were casting aside any veneer of diplomacy,
their enmity manifesting itself in the raw. The issue was growing tense.

Rainey fancied that Carlsen was not entirely sure of his following, and
relied upon Lund's indignant refusal of terms to back up his plans of
getting rid of him decisively.



CHAPTER X

THE SHOW-DOWN


"Rainey can see the skipper," said Carlsen carelessly.

"All right," said Lund. "Will you do that, Rainey? Now?" And Rainey had
a fleeting fancy that the giant winked one of his blind eyes at him,
though the black lenses were deceiving.

He went below immediately and rapped on the door, a little surprised to
see the girl appear in the opening. He had expected to find the skipper
alone, and he was pretty sure that Carlsen had also expected this. The
drawn expression of her face, the strained faint smile with which she
greeted him, the hopeless look in her eyes, startled him.

"I wanted to see your father," he said in a low voice.

She told him to enter.

Captain Simms was lying in his bunk, apparently fully dressed, with the
exception of his shoes. His cheeks had sunken, dark hollows showed under
his closed eyes, the bones of his skull projected, and his flesh was the
color of clay. Rainey believed that he was in the presence of death
itself. He looked at the girl.

"He is in a stupor," she said. "He has been that way since last night,
following a collapse. I can barely find his pulse, but his breath shows
on this."

She produced a small mirror, little larger than a dollar, and held it
before her father's lips. When she took it away Rainey saw a trace of
moisture.

"Carlsen can not rouse him?" he asked.

"Can not--or will not," she answered in a voice that held a hard quality
for all its despondency. Rainey glanced at the door. It was shut.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked, speaking low.

She looked at him as if measuring his dependency.

"I don't know," she answered dully. "I wish I did. Father's illness
started with sciatica, through exposure to the cold and damp. It was
better during the time the _Karluk_ was in San Francisco though he had
some severe attacks. He said that Doctor Carlsen gave him relief. I know
that he did, for there were days at first when father had to stay in bed
from the pain. It was in his left leg, and then it showed in frightful
headaches, and he complained of pain about the heart. But he was bent on
the voyage, and Doctor Carlsen guaranteed he could pull him through.
But--lately--the doctor has seemed uncertain. He talks of perverted
nerve functions, and he has obtained a tremendous influence over father.

"You heard what he said when--the night he tried to shoot you? You see,
I am trusting you in all this, Mr. Rainey. I _must_ trust some one. If I
don't I can't stand it. I think I shall go mad sometimes. The doctor has
changed. It is as if he was a dual personality--like Jekyll and
Hyde--and now he is always Hyde. It is the gold that has turned his
brain, his whole behavior from what he was in California before father
returned and he learned of the island. He said last night that he could
save father or--or--that he would let father die. I told him it was
sheer murder! He laughed. He said he would save him--for a price."

She stopped, and Rainey supplied the gap, sure that he was right.

"If you would marry him?"

The girl nodded. "Father will do anything he tells him. I sometimes
think he tortures father and only relieves him when father promises what
he wants. Otherwise I could not understand. Last night father asked me
to do this thing. Not because of any threat--he did not seem conscious
of anything underhanded. He told me he looked upon the doctor as a son,
that it would make him happy for me to marry him--now. That he would
perform the ceremony. That he did not think he would live long and he
wanted to see me with a protector.

"It was horrible. I dare not hint anything against the doctor. It brings
on a nervous attack. Last night my refusal caused convulsions, and
then--the collapse! What can I do? If I made the sacrifice how can I
tell that Doctor Carlsen could--_would_ save him? What shall I do?"

She was in an agony of self-questioning, of doubt.

"To see him lie there--like that. I can not bear it."

"Miss Simms," said Rainey, "your father is not in his right mind or he
would see Carlsen as you do, as I do. Carlsen's brain is turned with the
lure of the gold. If he marries you, I believe it is only for your
share, for what you will get from your father. It can not be right to do
a wrong thing. No good could come from it. But--something may happen
this morning--I can not tell you what. I do not know, except that Lund
is to face Carlsen. It may change matters."

"Lund," she said scornfully. "What can he do? And he accused my father
of deserting him. I--"

A knock came at the door, and it started to open. Carlsen entered.

"Ah," he said. "I trust I have not disturbed you. I had no idea I should
interrupt a tête-á-tête. Are you satisfied as to the captain's
condition, Mr. Rainey?"

Rainey looked the scoffing devil full in his eyes, and hot scorn mounted
to his own so swiftly that Carlsen's hand fell away from the door jamb
toward his hip. Then he laughed softly.

"We may be able to bring him round, all right again, who knows?" he
said.

Rainey went on deck, raging but impotent. He told Lund briefly of the
talk between him and Peggy Simms, and described the general symptoms of
the skipper's strange malady. It was nine o'clock, an hour to the
meeting. He went down to his own room and sat on the bunk, smoking,
trying to piece up the puzzle. If Carlsen was a potential murderer, if
he intended to let Simms die, why should he want to marry the girl? He
thought he solved that issue.

As his wife Carlsen would retain her share. If he gave her up, it would
go into the common purse. But, if he expected to trick the men out of it
all, that would be unnecessary. Did he really love the girl? Or was his
lust for gold mingled with a passion for possession of her? He might
know that the girl would kill herself before she would submit to
dishonor. Perhaps he knew she had the means!

One thing became paramount. To save Peggy Simms. Lund might fight for
the gold; Rainey would battle for the girl's sanctity. And, armed with
that resolve, Rainey went out into the main cabin.

Carlsen took the head of the table. Lund faced him at the other end. All
six of the hunters, as privileged characters, were present, but only
three of the seamen, awkward and diffident at being aft. The nine, with
Rainey, ranged themselves on either side of the table, five and five,
with Rainey on Lund's right.

Tamada had brought liquor and glasses and cigars, and gone forward. The
door between the main cabin and the corridor leading to the galley was
locked after him by Deming. The girl was not present. Yet her share was
an important factor.

Lund sat with folded arms, his great body relaxed. Now that the table
was set, the cards all dealt, and the first play about to be made, the
giant shed his tenseness. Even his grim face softened a trifle. He
seemed to regard the affair with a certain amount of humor, coupled with
the zest of a gambler who loves the game whether the stakes are for
death or dollars.

Carlsen had a paper under his hand, but deferred its reading until he
had addressed the meeting.

"A ship," he said, "is a little community, a world in itself. To its
safety every member is a necessity, the lookout as much as the man at
the wheel, the common seaman, the navigator. And, when a ship is engaged
in a certain calling, those who are hired as experts in that line are
equally essential with the rest."

"All the way from captain to--cook?" drawled Lund.

"Each depends upon his comrade's fulfilment of duty," went on Carlsen.
"So an absolute equality is evolved. Each man's responsibility being
equal, his reward should be also equal. It seems to me that this status
of affairs is arrived at more naturally aboard the _Karluk_ than it
might be elsewhere. We are a small company, and not easily divided. The
will of the majority may easily become that of all, may easily be
applied.

"Payment for all services comes on this voyage from an uncertain amount
of gold that Nature, Mother of us all, and therefore intending that all
her children shall share her heritage, has washed up on a beach from
some deep-sea vein and thus deposited upon an uncharted, unclaimed
island. It is discovered by an Indian, the discovery is handed on to
another."

"Meanin' me." Lund seemed to be enjoying himself. Despite the fact that
Carlsen was presiding and most evidently assumed the attributes of
leader, despite the fact that ten of the twelve at the table were
arrayed against him, with the rest of the seamen behind them, Lund was
decidedly enjoying himself.

To Rainey, the matter of the gold was but a mask for the license that
would inevitably be manifested in such a crude democracy if it was
established, a license that threatened the girl, now, he imagined,
watching her father, the captain of the vessel, tottering on the verge
of death. His pulses raced, he longed for the climax.

"This gold," went on Carlsen, "is not a commodity made in a factory,
obtained through the toil of others, through the expenditure of
capital. If it were, it would not alter the principle of the thing. It
is of nature's own providing for those of her sons who shall find it and
gather it. Sons that, as brothers, must willingly share and share
alike."

Lund yawned, showing his strong teeth and the red cavern of his mouth.
The hunters gazed at him curiously. The seamen, lacking initiative,
lacking imagination, a crude collection of water-front drifters, more or
less wrecked specimens of humanity who went to sea because they had no
other capacity--were apathetic, listening to Carlsen with a sort of awe,
a hypnosis before his argument that street rabble exhibit before the
jargon of a soap-box orator.

Carlsen promised them something, therefore they followed him. But the
hunters, more independent, more intelligent, seemed expecting an
outburst from Lund and, because it was not forthcoming, they were a
little uneasy.

"Share and share alike," said Lund. "I've got yore drift, Carlsen. Let's
get down to brass tacks. The idea is to divvy the gold into equal
parts, ain't it? How does she split? There's twenty-five souls aboard.
Does that mean you split the heap into a hundred parts an' each one gits
four?"

"No." It was Deming who answered. "It don't. The Jap don't come in, for
one."

"A cook ain't a brother?"

"Not when he's got a yellow skin," answered Deming. "We'll take up a
collection for Sandy. Rainey ain't in on the deal. We split it just
twenty-two ways. What have you got to say about it?"

His tone was truculent, and Carlsen did not appear disposed to check
him. He appeared not quite certain of the temper of the hunters. Deming,
like Rainey, evidently chafed under the preliminaries.

"You figger we're all equal aboard," said Lund slowly, "leavin' out Mr.
Rainey, Tamada an' Sandy. You an' me, an' Carlsen an' Harris there"--he
nodded toward one of the seaman delegates who listened with his slack
mouth agape, scratching himself under the armpit--"are all equal?"

Deming cast a glance at Harris and, for just a moment, hesitated.

Harris squirming under the look of Deming, which was aped by the sudden
scrutiny of all the hunters, found speech: "How in hell did you know I
was here?" he demanded of Lund. "I ain't opened my mouth yit!"

"That ain't the truth, Harris," replied Lund composedly. "It's allus
open. But if you want to know, I smelled ye."

There was a guffaw at the sally. Carlsen's voice stopped it.

"I'll answer the question, Lund. Yes, we're all equal. The world is not
a democracy. Harris, so far, hasn't had a chance to get the equal share
that belongs to him by rights. That's what I meant by saying that the
_Karluk_ was a little world of its own. We're all equal on board."

"Except Rainey, Tamada an' Sandy. Seems to me yore argumint's got holes
in it, Carlsen."

"We are waiting to know whether you agree with us?" replied Carlsen. His
voice had altered quality. It held the direct challenge. Lund accepted
it.

"I don't," he answered dryly. "There ain't enny one of you my equal, an'
you've showed it. There ain't enny one of you, from Carlsen to Harris,
who'd have the nerve to put it up to me alone. You had to band together
in a pack, like a flock of sheep, with Carlsen for sheepherder. _I'm
talking_," he went on in a tone that suddenly leaped to thunder. "None
of you have got the brains of Carlsen, becoz he had to put this scheme
inter yore noddles. Deming, you think yo're a better man than Harris,
you know damn' well you play better poker than the rest, an' you agreed
to this becoz you figger you'll win most of the gold afore the v'yage is
over. The rest of you suckers listened becoz some one tells you you are
goin' to get more than what's rightly comin' to you.

"This gold is mine by right of discovery. I lose my ship through bad
luck, an' I make a deal whereby the skipper gets the same as I do, an'
the ship, which is the same as his daughter, gets almost as much. You
men were offered a share on top of yore wages if you wanted to take the
chance--two shares to the hunters. It was damned liberal, an' you
grabbed at it. I got left on the ice, blind on a breakin' floe, an' you
sailed off an' grabbed a handful or so of gold, enough to set you crazy.

"What in blazes would you know what to do with it, enny of you? Spill it
all along the Barb'ry Coast, or gamble it off to Deming. Is there one of
you 'ud have got off thet floe an', blind as I was, turned up ag'in? Not
one of ye. An' when I _did_ show you got sore becoz you'd figgered there
'ud be more with me away.

"A fine lot of skunks. You can take yore damned bit of paper an' light
yore pipes with it, for all of me. To hell with it!

"_Shut up_!" His voice topped the murmurs at the table. Rainey saw
Carlsen sitting back with his tongue-tip showing in a grin, tapping the
table with the folded paper in one hand, the other in his lap, leaning
back a little. He was like a man waiting for the last bet to be made
before he exposed the winning hand.

"As for bein' equal, I've told you Carlsen's got the brains of you all.
The skipper's dyin', Carlsen expects to marry his gal. An' he figgers
thet way on pullin' down three shares to yore one. You say Rainey ain't
in on the deal. He's as much so as Carlsen. Carlsen butts in as a doctor
an' a fine job he's made of it. Skipper nigh dead. A hell of a doctor!
Smoke up, all of you."

Carlsen sat quiet, sometimes licking his lips gently, listening to Lund
as he might have listened to the rantings of a melodramatic actor. But
Rainey sensed that he was making a mistake. He was letting Lund go too
far. The men were listening to Lund, and he knew that the giant was
talking for a specific purpose. Just to what end he could not guess.
The big booming voice held them, while it lashed them.

"Equal to me? Bah! I'm a _man_. Yo're a lot of fools. Talk about me
bein' blind. It was ice-blink got me. Then ophthalmy matterin' up my
eyes. It's gold-blink's got you. Yo're cave-fish, a lot of blind
suckers."

He leaned over the table pointing a massive square finger, thatched with
red wool, direct at Carlsen, as if he had been leveling a weapon.

"Carlsen's a fake! He's got you hipped. He thinks he's boss, becoz he's
the only navigator of yore crowd. I ain't overlooked that card, Carlsen.
That ain't the only string he's got on ye. Nor the three shares he
expects to pull down. He made you pore suckers fire off all your shells;
he found out you ain't got a gun left among you that's enny more use
than a club. He's got a gun an' he showed you how he could use it. He's
sittin' back larfin' at the bunch of you!"

The men stirred. Rainey saw Carlsen's grin disappear. He dropped the
paper. His face paled, the veins showed suddenly like purple veins in
dirty marble.

"I've got that gun yet, Lund," he snarled.

Lund laughed, the ring of it so confident that the men glanced from him
to Carlsen nervously.

"Yo're a fake, Carlsen," he said. "And I've got yore number! To hell
with you an' yore popgun. You ain't even a doctor. I saw real doctors
ashore about my eyes. Niphablepsia, they call snow-blindness. I'll bet
you never heard of it. Yo're only a woman-conning dope-shooter! Else
you'd have known that niphablepsia ain't _permanent_! I've bin' gettin'
my sight back ever sence I left Seattle. An' now, damn you for a moldy
hearted, slimy souled fakir, stand up an' say yo're my equal!"

He stood up himself, towering above the rest as they rose from their
chairs, tearing the black glasses from his eyes and flinging them at
Carlsen, who was forced to throw up a hand to ward them off. Rainey got
one glimpse of the giant's eyes. They were gray-blue, the color of
agate-ware, hard as steel, implacable.

Carlsen swept aside the spectacles and they shattered on the floor as he
leaped up and the automatic shone in his hand. Lund had folded his arms
above his great chest. He laughed again, and his arms opened.

In an instant Rainey caught the object of Lund's speech-making. He had
done it to enrage Carlsen beyond endurance, to make him draw his gun.
Giant as he was, he moved with the grace of a panther, with a swiftness
too fast for the eye to register. Something flashed in his right hand, a
gun, that he had drawn from a holster slung over his left breast.

The shots blended. Lund stood there erect, uninjured. A red blotch
showed between Carlsen's eyes. He slumped down into his chair, his arms
clubbing the table, his gun falling from his nerveless hand, his
forehead striking the wood like the sound of an auctioneer's gavel. Lund
had beaten him to the draw.

Lund, no longer a blind Samson, with contempt in his agate eyes,
surveyed the scattering group of men who stared at the dead man dully,
as if gripped by the exhibition of a miracle.

"It's all right, Miss Simms," he said. "Jest killed a skunk. Rainey, git
that gun an' attend to the young lady, will you?"

The girl stood in the doorway of her father's cabin, her face frozen to
horror, her eyes fixed on Lund with repulsion. As Rainey got the
automatic, slipped it into his pocket, and went toward her, she shrank
from him. But her voice was for Lund.

"You murderer!" she cried.

Lund grinned at her, but there was no laughter in his eyes.

"We'll thrash that out later, miss," he said. "Now, you men, jump
for'ard, all of you. Deming, unlock that door. _Jump!_ Equals, are you?
I'll show you who's master on this ship. Wait!"

His voice snapped like the crack of a whip and they all halted, save
Deming, who sullenly fitted the key to the lock of the corridor
entrance.

"Take this with you," said Lund, pointing to Carlsen's sagging body.
"When you git tired of his company, throw him overboard. Jump to it!"

The nearest men took up the body of the doctor and they all filed
forward, silently obedient to the man who ordered them.

"They ain't all whipped yit," said Lund. "Not them hunters. They're
still sufferin' from gold-blink, but I'll clean their eyesight for 'em.
Look after the lady an' her father, Rainey."

Tamada entered as if nothing had happened. He carried a tray of dishes
and cutlery that he laid down on the table.

"Never mind settin' a place for Carlsen, Tamada," said Lund. "He's lost
his appetite--permanent." The Oriental's face did not change.

"Yes, sir," he answered.

The girl shuddered. Rainey saw that Lund was exhilarated by his
victory, that the primitive fighting brute was prominent. Carlsen had
tried to shoot first, goaded to it; his death was deserved; but it
seemed to Rainey that Lund's exhibition of savagery was unnecessary. But
he also saw that Lund would not heed any protest that he might make, he
was still swept on by his course of action, not yet complete.

"I'll borrow Carlsen's sextant," said Lund. "Nigh noon, an' erbout time
I got our reckonin'." He went into the doctor's cabin and came out with
the instrument, tucking it under his arm as he went on deck.

Tamada went stolidly on with his preparations. He paused at the little
puddle of blood where Carlsen's head had struck the table, turned, and
disappeared toward his galley, promptly emerging with a wet cloth.

The girl put her hands over her eyes as Tamada methodically mopped up
the telltale stains.

"The brute!" she said. Then took away her hands and extended them toward
Rainey.

"What will he do with my father?" she said. "He thinks that dad deserted
him. And the doctor, who might have saved him, is dead. My God, what
shall I do? What shall I do?"

Rainey found himself murmuring some attempts at consolation, a defense
of Lund.

"You too?" she said with a contempt that, unmerited as it was, stung
Rainey to the quick. "You are on his side. Oh!"

She wheeled into her father's room and shut the door. Rainey heard the
click of the bolt on the other side. Tamada was going on with his
table-laying. Rainey saw that he had left Carlsen's place vacant. He
listened for a moment, but heard nothing within the skipper's cabin. The
swift rush of events was still a jumble. Slowly he went up the
companionway to the deck.



CHAPTER XI

HONEST SIMMS


Lund greeted Rainey with a curt nod. Hansen was still at the helm. The
crew on duty were standing about alert, their eyes on Lund. They had
found a new master, and they were cowed, eager to do their best.

"It ain't noon yet," said Lund. "I hardly need to shoot the sun with the
land that close."

Rainey looked over the starboard bow to where a series of peaks and
lower humps of dark blue proclaimed the Aleutian island bridge
stretching far to the west.

"I'll show this crew they've got a skipper aboard," said Lund. "How's
the cap'en?"

Rainey told him.

"We'll see what we can do for him," said Lund. "He's better off without
that fakir, that's a cinch. Called me a murderer," he went on with a
good-humored laugh. "Got spunk, she has. And she's a trim bit. A slip of
a gal, but she's game. An' good-lookin' eh, Rainey?"

He shot a keen glance at the newspaperman.

"You're in her bad hooks, too, ain't ye? We'll fix that after a bit. She
don't know when she's well off. Most wimmin don't. An' she's the sort
that needs handlin' right. She's upset now, natural, an' she hates me."

He smiled as if the prospect suited him. A suspicion leaped into
Rainey's brain. Lund had said he would not see a decent girl harmed. But
the man was changed. He had fought and won, and victory shone in his
eyes with a glitter that was immune from sympathy, for all his air of
good-nature.

He had said that a man under his skin was just an animal. His appraisal
of the girl struck Rainey with apprehension. "To the victor belong the
spoils." Somehow the quotation persisted. What if Lund regarded the girl
as legitimate loot? He might have talked differently beforehand, to
assure himself of Rainey's support.

And Rainey suddenly felt as if his support had been uncalled upon, a
frail reed at best. Lund had not needed him, would he need him, save as
an aid, not altogether necessary, with Hansen aboard, to run the ship?

He said nothing, but thrust both hands into the side pockets of the
pilot coat he had acquired from the ship's stores. The sudden touch of
cold steel gave him new courage. He had sworn to protect the girl. If
Lund, seeming more like a pirate than ever, with his cold eyes sweeping
the horizon, his bulk casting Rainey's into a dwarf's by comparison,
attempted to harm Peggy Simms, Rainey resolved to play the part of
champion.

He could not shoot like Lund, but he was armed. There were undoubtedly
more cartridges in the clip. And he must secure the rest from Carlsen's
cabin immediately.

The sun reached its height, and Lund busied himself with his sextant.
Rainey determined to ask him to teach him the use of it. His consent or
refusal would tell him where he stood with Lund.

He felt the mastery of the man. And he felt incompetent beside him.
Carlsen had been right. A ship at sea was a little world of its own, and
Lund was now lord of it. A lord who would demand allegiance and enforce
it. He held the power of life and death, not by brute force alone. He
was the only navigator aboard, with the skipper seriously ill. As such
alone he held them in his hand, once they were out of sight of land.

"Hansen," said Lund, "Mr. Rainey'll relieve you after we've eaten. Come
on, Rainey. You ain't lost yore appetite, I hope. Watch me discard that
spoon for a knife an' fork. I don't have to play blind man enny longer."

Food did not appeal to Rainey. He could not help thinking of the spot
under the cloth where Tamada had wiped up the blood of the man just
killed by Lund, sitting opposite him, making play for a double helping
of victuals.

It was Lund's apparent callousness that affected him more than his own
squeamishness. He could not regret Carlsen's death. With the doctor
alive, his own existence would have been a constant menace. But he was
not used to seeing a killing, though, in his water-front detail, he had
not been unacquainted with grim tragedies of the sea.

It was Lund's demeanor that gripped him. The giant had dismissed Carlsen
as unceremoniously as he might have flipped the ash from a cigar, or
tossed the stub overside.

"I've got to tackle those hunters," Lund said. "I expect trouble there,
sooner or later. But I'm goin' to lay down the law to 'em. If they come
clean, well an' good, they git their original two shares. If not, they
don't get a plugged nickel. An' Deming's the one who'll stir up the
trouble, take it from me. Tell Hansen to turn in his watch-off, I shan't
take a deck for a day or two, you'll have to go on handlin' it between
you. I've got to make my peace with the gal, an' do what I can with the
skipper."

"She'll not make peace easily. But the skipper's in a bad way."

Lund lit his pipe.

"I'd jest as soon it was war. I don't see as we can help the skipper
much 'less we try reverse treatment of what Carlsen did. If we knew what
that was? If he gits worse she'll let us know, I reckon. Mebbe you can
suggest somethin'?"

Rainey shook his head.

"I suppose she can do more than any of us," he said.

Lund nodded, then whistled to Tamada, leaving the cabin.

"Take a bottle of whisky to the hunters' mess, with my compliments.
That'll give 'em about three jolts apiece," he said to Rainey. "Long as
we've won out we may as well let 'em down easy. But they'll work for
their shares, jest the same. A drink or two may help 'em swaller what
I'm goin' to give 'em by way of dessert in the talkin' line. See you
later."

Rainey took the dismissal and went up to the relief of Hansen. He did
not mention what had happened until the Scandinavian referred to it
indirectly.

"They put the doc overboard, sir, soon's Mr. Lund an' you bane go
below."

It seemed a summary dismissal of the dead, without ceremony. Yet, for
the rite to be authentic, Lund must have presided, and the sea-burial
service would have been a mockery under the circumstances. It was the
best thing to have done, Rainey felt, but he could not avoid a mental
shiver at the thought of the man, so lately vital, his brain alive with
energy, sliding through the cold water to the ooze to lie there, sodden,
swinging with the sub-sea currents until the ocean scavengers claimed
him.

"All right, Hansen," he said in answer, and the man hurried off after
his extra detail.

Lund came up after a while, and Rainey told him of the fate of Carlsen's
body.

"I figgered they'd do about that," commented Lund. "They savvied he'd
aimed to make suckers out of 'em, an' they dumped him. But they ain't on
our side, by a long sight. Not that I give a damn. If they want to sulk,
let 'em sulk. But they'll stand their watches, an', when we git to the
beach, they'll do their share of diggin'. If they need drivin', I'll
drive 'em.

"That Deming is a better man than I thought. He's the main grouch among
'em. Said if I hadn't had a gun he'd have tackled me in the cabin. Meant
it, too, though I'd have smashed him. He's sore becoz I said he warn't
my equal. I told him, enny time he wanted to try it out, I'd accommodate
him. He didn't take it up, an' they'll kid him about it. He'll pack a
grudge. I ain't afraid of their knifin' me, not while the skipper's
sick. They need me to navigate."

"This might be a good chance for me to handle a sextant," suggested
Rainey casually.

Lund shook his head, smiling, but his eyes hard.

"Not yet, matey," he said. "Not that I don't trust you, but for me to be
the only one, jest now, is a sort of life insurance that suits me to
carry. They might figger, if you was able to navigate, that they c'ud
put the screws on you to carry 'em through, with me out of the way. I
don't say they could, but they might make it hard for you, an' you ain't
got quite the same stake in this I have."

Here was cold logic, but Rainey saw the force of it. Hansen came up
early to split the watch and put their schedule right again, and Lund
went below with Rainey. Lund ordered Tamada to bring a bottle and
glasses, and they sat down at the table. Rainey needed the kick of a
drink, and took one.

As Lund was raising his glass with a toast of "Here's to luck," the
skipper's door opened and the girl appeared. She looked like a ghost.
Her hair was disheveled and her eyes stared at them without seeming
recognition. But she spoke, in a flat toneless voice.

"My father is dead! I--" she faltered, swayed, and seemed to swoon as
she sank toward the floor. Rainey darted forward, but Lund was quicker
and swooped her up in his arms as if she had been a feather, took her to
the table, set her in a chair, dabbled a napkin in some water and
applied it to her brows.

"Chafe her wrists," he ordered Rainey. "Undo that top button of her
blouse. That's enough; she ain't got on corsets. She'll come through.
Plumb worn out. That's all."

He handled her, deftly, as a nurse would a child. Rainey chafed the
slender wrists and beat her palms, and soon she opened her eyes and
sighed. Then she pulled away from Lund, bending over her, and got to her
feet.

"I must go to my father," she said. "He is dead."

They followed her into the cabin, and Lund bent over the bunk.

"Looks like it," he whispered to Rainey. Then he tore open the skipper's
vest and shirt and laid his head on his chest. The girl made a faint
motion as if to stop him, but did not hinder him. She was at the end of
her own strength from weariness and worry. Lund suddenly raised his
head.

"There's a flutter," he announced. "He ain't gone yit. Get Tamada an'
some brandy."

The Japanese, by some intuition, was already on hand, and produced the
brandy. Rainey poured out a measure. The captain's teeth were tightly
clenched. Lund spraddled one great hand across his jaws, pressing at
their junction, forcing them apart, firmly, but gently enough, while
Rainey squeezed in a few drops of brandy from the corner of his soaked
handkerchief. Lund stroked the sick man's throat, and he swallowed
automatically.

"More brandy," ordered Lund.

With the next dose there came signs of revival, a low moan from the
skipper. The girl flew to his side. Tamada, standing by with the
bottle, stepped forward, handed the brandy to Rainey, and rolled up the
lid of an eye, looking closely at the pupil.

"I study medicine at Tokio," he said.

"Why didn't ye say so before?" demanded Lund. It did not occur to any of
them to doubt Tamada's word. There was an air of professional assurance
and an efficiency about him that carried weight. "What can you do for
him? There's a medicine chest in Carlsen's room."

"I was hired to cook," said Tamada quietly. "I should not have been
permit to interfere. It is not my business if a white man makes a fool
of himself. Now we want morphine and hypodermic syringe."

Tamada rolled up the captain's sleeve. The flesh, shrunken, pallid, was
closely spotted with dot-like scars that showed livid, as if the captain
had been suffering from some strange rash.

Lund whistled softly. Rainey, too, knew what it meant. The skipper had
been a veritable slave to the drug. Carlsen had administered it,
prescribed it, used it as a means to bring Simms under his subjection.
The girl looked strangely at Tamada.

"Would he have taken that for sciatica?" she asked.

"I think, perhaps, yes. Injection over muscle gives relief. Sometimes
makes cure. But Captain Simms take too much. Suppose this supply cut off
very suddenly, then come too much chills, maybe collapse, maybe--" The
girl clutched his arm.

"You meant more than you said. It might mean death?"

"I don't know," replied Tamada gravely. "Perhaps, if now we have
morphine, presently we give him smaller dose every time, it will be all
right." He lifted up the sick man's hand and examined the nails
critically. They were broken, brittle.

Rainey had gone to Carlsen's room in search of the drug and the
injecting needle.

"How much d'ye suppose he took at once?" Lund asked the Japanese in a
low voice.

"Fifteen grains, I think. Maybe more. Too much! Always too much drug in
his veins. Much worse than opium for man."

"Carlsen's work," growled Lund. "Increased the stuff on him till he
couldn't do without it. Made him a slave to dope an' Carlsen his boss.
He deserved killin' jest for that, the skunk."

Rainey frantically searched through the medicine chest and, finding only
five tablets marked _Morphine 1 gr._ in a bottle, sought elsewhere in
vain. And he could find no needle. But he ran across some automatic
cartridges and put them in his pockets before he hurried back.

"This is not enough," said Tamada. "And we should have needle. But I
dissolve these in galley." And he hurried out. The girl had slipped down
on her knees beside the bed, holding her father's hand against her lips,
her eyes closed. She seemed to be praying.

Rainey and Lund looked at each other. Rainey was trying to recall
something. It came at last, the memory of Carlsen slipping something in
his pocket as he had come out of the captain's room. That had been the
hypodermic case! As the thought lit up' his eyes he saw a flash in
Lund's.

"Carlsen had the morphine on him," said Lund in a whisper, not to
disturb the girl.

"And the needle!" said Rainey. "What if?" He raced out of the cabin
forward, passing Tamada, coming out of the galley with the dissolved
tablets in a glass that steamed with hot water. Swiftly he told his
suspicions.

"They may have searched him first," he said, and went on to the hunters'
cabin. They were seated about their table, talking. On seeing Rainey
they stopped abruptly and viewed him suspiciously. Deming rose.

"What's the idea?" he asked and his tone was not friendly.

Rainey hurriedly explained. Deming shrugged his shoulders.

"They sewed him up in canvas in the fo'k'le," he said indifferently.
"None of us went through him. I think they made the kid do the job."

Rainey found Sandy in his bunk, asleep, trying to get one of the catnaps
by which he made up his lack of definitely assigned rest. The roustabout
woke with a shudder, flinching under Rainey's hand.

"They made me do it," he said in answer. "None of 'em 'ud touch it till
I had it sewed in an old staysail, an' a boatkedge tied on for weight. I
didn't go inter his pockets. I was scared to touch it more'n I had to."

"Is that the truth, Sandy? I don't care what you took besides this
little case and a bottle of tablets. You can keep the rest."

"It's the bloody truth, Mister Rainey, s'elp me," whined Sandy. And the
truth was in his shifty eyes.

Rainey went back with his news. He imagined that the five grains would
prove temporarily sufficient. And they could put in for Unalaska. There
were surgeons there with the revenue fleet. He thought there was
probably a hospital.

They would have to explain Carlsen's death. They would be asked about
the purpose of the voyage, the crew examined. It might mean detention,
the defeat of the expedition, the very thing that Lund had feared, the
following of them to the island. He wondered how Lund would take to the
plan.

He found that Tamada had administered the morphine. Already the
beneficial results were apparent. The dry, frightfully sallow skin had
changed and Simms was breathing freely while Tamada, feeling his pulse,
nodded affirmatively to the girl's questioning glance.

"Got it?" asked Lund.

Rainey gave the result of his search.

"We'll have to put in to Unalaska," he said. "There are doctors there."
The girl turned toward Lund. He smiled at the intensity of her gaze and
pose.

"I play fair, Miss Peggy," he said. "Rainey, change the course."

Peggy Simms seized Lund's great paw in both her hands, and, for the
first time, the tears overflowed her eyes. The _Karluk_ came about as
Rainey reached the deck and gave his orders. Then he returned to the
cabin. The captain had opened his eyes.

"Peggy!" he murmured. "Carlsen, where is he? Lund! Good God, Lund, you
can see?"

"Keep quiet as you can," said Tamada. Something in his voice made the
skipper shift his look to the Japanese.

"Where's Carlsen?" he asked again.

"He can't come now," said Tamada.

Under the urge of the drug the skipper's brain seemed abnormally clear,
his intuition heightened.

"Carlsen's dead?" he asked. Then, shifting to Lund. "You killed him,
Jim?"

Lund nodded.

"How much morphine did you give me?"

"Five grains."

"It's not enough. It won't last. _There isn't any more?_" he flashed
out, with sudden energy, trying to raise himself.

"We're puttin' in for Unalaska, Simms," said Lund.

"How far?"

"'Bout seventy miles."

"Then it's too late. Too late. The pain's shifted of late--to my heart.
It'll get me presently."

The girl darted a look of hate at Lund, an accusation that he met
composedly, swift as the change had come from the almost reverence with
which she had clasped his hand.

"I'll be gone in an hour or two," said the skipper. "Got to talk while
this lasts. Jim--about leavin' you that time. I could have come back. I
had words about it--with Hansen. He knows. But the gale was bad, an' the
ice. It wasn't the gold, Jim. I swear it. I had the ship an' crew to
look out for. An' Peggy, at home.

"I might have gone back sooner, Jim, I'll own up to that. But it wasn't
the gold that did it. An'--I didn't hear what you shouted, Jim. The
storm came up. We were frozen by the time we found the ship. Numb.

"Then, then; oh, God, my heart!" He sat upright, clutching at his chest,
his face convulsed with spasms of pain. Tamada got some brandy between
the chattering teeth. Sweat poured out on the skipper's forehead, and he
sank back, exhausted but temporarily relieved. The girl wiped his brows.

"It'll get me next attack," he said presently in a weak voice. "Jim,
this trouble hit me the day after we left the floe. Not sciatica, at
first, but in the head. I couldn't think right. I was just numb in the
brain. An' when it cleared off, it was too late. The ice had closed. We
couldn't go back. I read up in my medical book, Jim, later, when the
sciatica took me.

"Had to take to my bunk. Couldn't stand. I had morphine, an' it relieved
me. Took too much after a while. Had to have it. Got better in San
Francisco for a bit. Then Carlsen prescribed it. Morphine was my boss,
an' then Carlsen, he was boss of the morphine. Seemed like--seemed
like--_More brandy, Tamada_."

His voice was weaker when he spoke again. They came closer to catch his
whispers.

"Carlsen--mind wasn't my own. Peggy--I wasn't in my right mind,
honey. Not when--Carlsen--he was angel when he gave me what I
wanted--devil--when he wouldn't. Made me--do things. But he's dead. And
I'm going. Never reach Unalaska. Peggy--forgive. Meant for
best--but--not in right mind. Jim--it wasn't the gold. Not Peggy's
fault--anyway."

"She'll get hers, Simms," said Lund. "Yours too."

The skipper's eyes closed and his frame settled under the clothes. The
girl flung herself on the bed in uncontrollable weeping. Lund raised his
eyebrows at Tamada, who shrugged his shoulders.

"Better get out o' here," whispered Lund. He and Rainey went out
together. In a few minutes Tamada joined them, his face sphinxlike as
ever.

"He is dead," he said.

Rainey and Lund went on deck. The schooner thrashed toward the volcano,
the bearing-mark for Unalaska, hidden behind it. They paced up and down
in silence.

"I guess he was 'Honest Simms,' after all," said Lund at last. "The gal
blames me for the morphine, but Carlsen never meant him to live. She'll
see that after a bit, mebbe."

Rainey glanced at him curiously. He was getting fresh lights on Lund.

Then the girl appeared, pale, composed, coming straight up to Lund, who
halted his stride at sight of her.

"Will you change the course, Mr. Lund?" she said.

He looked at her in surprise.

"Father spoke once more. After you left. He does not want you to go on
to Unalaska. He said it would mean a rush for the gold; perhaps you
would have to stay there. He does not want you to lose the gold. He
wants me to have my share. He made me promise. And he wants--he
wants"--she bit her lip fiercely in repression of her feelings--"to be
buried at sea. That was his last request."

She turned and looked over the rail, struggling to wink back her tears.
Rainey saw the giant's glance sweep over her, full of admiration.

"As you wish, Miss Peggy," he said. "Hansen, 'bout ship. Hold on a
minnit. How about you, Miss Peggy? If you want to go home, we can find
ways at Unalaska. I play fair. I'll bring back yore share--in full."

"I am not thinking about the gold," the girl said scornfully. "But I
want to carry out my father's last wishes, if you will permit me. I
shall stay with the ship. Now I am going back to him. You--you"--she
quelled the tremble of her mouth, and her chin showed firm and
determined--"you can arrange for the funeral to-morrow at dawn, if you
will. I want him to-night."

Her face quivered piteously, but she conquered even that and walked to
the companionway.

"Game, by God, game as they make 'em!" said Lund.



CHAPTER XII

DEMING BREAKS AN ARM


Rainey, dozing in his bunk, going over the sudden happenings of the day,
had placed Carlsen's automatic under his pillow after loading it. He
found that it lacked four shells of full capacity, the two that Lund had
fired at his bottle target, the one fired by Carlsen at Rainey, and the
last ineffective shot at Lund, a shot that went astray, Rainey decided,
largely through Lund's _coup-de-theatre_ of tearing off his glasses and
flinging them at the doctor.

The dynamo that he had idly fancied he could hear purring away inside of
Lund was apparent with vengeance now, driving with full force. That was
what Lund would be from now on, a driver, imperative, relentless,
overcoming all obstacles; as he had himself said, selfish at heart, keen
for his own ends.

Rainey was neither a weakling nor a coward, but he shrank from open
encounter with Lund, and knew himself, without fear, the weaker man. The
challenge of Lund, splendidly daring any one of them to come out against
him alone, and challenging them _en masse_, had found in Rainey an
acknowledgment of inferiority that was not merely physical.

Lund knew far more than he did about the class of men that made up the
inhabitants of the _Karluk_. Rainey had once fondly hugged the delusion
that he knew something of the nature of those who "went down to the sea
in ships."

Now he knew that his ignorance was colossal. Such men were not complex,
they moved by instinct rather than reason, they were not guided by
conscience, the values of right and wrong were not intuitive with them,
muscle rather than mind ruled their universe.

Yet Rainey could not solve them, and Lund knew them as one may know a
favorite book.

Lund had brains, cunning, brute force that commanded a respect not all
bred of being weaker. In a way he was magnificent. And Rainey vaguely
heralded trouble when Captain Simms was at last given to the deep. He
felt certain that the hunters under Deming were hatching something but,
in the main, his mental prophecy of trouble coming was connected with
the girl.

Lund had shown no disrespect to her, rather the opposite. But the girl
showed hatred of Lund and, in minor measure, of Rainey. Some of this
would die out, naturally. Rainey intended to attempt an adjustment in
his own behalf. But he held the feeling that Lund would not tolerate
this hatred against him on the part of the girl. Such scorn would arouse
something in the giant's nature, something that would either strike
under the lash, or laugh at it.

Dimly, Rainey saw these things as the giant gropings of sex, not as he
had known it, surrounded by conventionalities, by courtesies of
twentieth-century veneering, but a law, primitive, irresistible,
sweeping away barriers and opposition, a thing bigger even than the lust
of gold; the lure of woman for man, and man for woman.

Both Lund and the girl, he felt, would have this thing in greater
measure than he would. He shared his life with too many things, with
books, with amusements, with the social ping-pong of the level in which
he ordinarily moved.

There had been once a girl, perhaps there still was a girl, whom Rainey
had known on a visit to the camp-palace of a lumber king, high in the
Sierras, a girl who rode and hunted and lived out-of-doors, and yet
danced gloriously, sang, sewed and was both feminine and masculine, a
maddening latter-day Diana, who had swept Rainey off his feet for the
time.

But he had known that he was not up to her standards, that he was but a
paper-worm, aside from his lack of means. That latter detail would, he
knew, have bothered him far more than her. But she announced openly that
she would only mate with a man who had lived. He rather fancied that it
had been a challenge--one he had not taken up. The matrix of his own
life just then was too snug a bed. Well, he was living now, he told
himself.

On the border of dreams he was brought back by a strange noise on deck,
a rush of feet, many voices, and topping them all, the bellow of Lund,
roaring, not for help, but in challenge.

Rainey, half asleep, jumped from his bunk and rushed out of the room. He
had no doubt as to what had happened; the hunters had attacked Lund!
And, unused to the possession of firearms, still drowsy, he forgot the
automatic, intent upon rallying to the cry of the giant. As he made for
the companionway, the girl came out of her father's room.

"What is it?" she cried.

"Lund--hunters!" Rainey called back as he sped up the stairs. He thought
he heard a "wait" from her, but the stamping and yelling were loud in
his ears, and he plunged out on deck. As he emerged he saw the stolid
face of Hansen at the wheel, his pale blue eyes glancing at the set of
his canvas and then taking on a glint as they turned amidships.

Lund looked like a bear surrounded by the dog-pack. He stood upright
while the six hunters tore and smashed at him. Two had caught him by the
middle, one from the front and one from the rear, and, as the fight
raged back and forth, they were swung off their feet, bludgeoned and
kicked by Lund to stop them getting at the gun in its holster slung
under his coat close to his armpit.

Lund's arms swung like clubs, his great hands plucked at their holds,
while he roared volleys of deep-sea, defiant oaths, shaking or striking
off a man now and then, who charged back snarlingly to the attack.

Brief though the fight had been when Rainey arrived, there was ample
evidence of it. Clothes were torn and faces bloody, and already the men
were panting as Lund dragged them here and there, flailing, striking,
half-smothered, but always coming up from under, like a rock that
emerges from the bursting of a heavy wave.

And the voice of the combat, grunts and snarls, gasping shouts and
broken curses, was the sound of ravening beasts. So far as Rainey could
vision in one swift moment before he ran forward, no knives were being
used.

A hunter lunged out heavily and confidently to meet him as the others
got Lund to his knees for a fateful moment, piling on top of him,
bludgeoning blows with guttural cries of fancied victory.

Rainey's man struck, and the strength of his arm, backed by his hurling
weight, broke down Rainey's guard and left the arm numb. The next
instant they were at close quarters, swinging madly, rife with the one
desire to down the other, to maim, to kill. A blow crashed home on
Rainey's cheek, sending him back dazed, striking madly, clinching to
stop the piston-like smashes of the hunter clutching him, trying to
trip him, hammering at the fierce face above him as they both went down
and rolled into the scuppers, tearing at each other.

He felt the man's hands at his throat, gradually squeezing out sense and
breath and strength, and threw up his knee with all his force. It struck
the hunter fairly in the groin, and he heard the man groan with the
sudden agony. But he himself was nearly out. The man seemed to fade away
for the second, the choking fingers relaxed, and Rainey gulped for air.
His eyes seemed strained from bulging from their sockets in that fierce
grip, and there was a fog before them through which he could hear the
roar of Lund, sounding like a siren blast that told he was still
fighting, still confident.

Then he saw the hunter's face close to his again, felt the whole weight
of the man crushing him, felt the bite of teeth through cloth and flesh,
nipping down on his shoulder as the man lay on him, striving to hold him
down until he regained the strength that the blow in the groin had
temporarily broken down.

For just a moment Rainey's spirit sagged, his own strength was spent,
his will sapped, his lungs flattened. For a moment he wanted to lie
there--to quit.

Then the hunter's body tautened for action, and, at the feel, Rainey's
ebbing pride came surging back, and he heaved and twisted, clubbing the
other over his kidneys until the roll of the schooner sent them
twisting, tumbling over to the lee once more.

He felt as if he had been fighting for an hour, yet it had all taken
place during the leap of the _Karluk_ between two long swells that she
had negotiated with a sidelong lurch to the cross seas and wind.

Rainey came up uppermost. The hunter's head struck the rail heavily. His
shoulder was free, but he could see ravelings of his coat in the other's
teeth. The pain in his shoulder was evident enough, and the sight of the
woolly fragments maddened him. The tactics of boyish fights came back
to him, and he broke loose from the arms that hugged him, hitched
forward until he sat on the hunter's chest, set a knee on either bicep
and battered at the other's face as it twisted from side to side
helplessly, making a pulp of it, keen to efface all semblance of
humanity, a brute like the rest of them, intent upon bruising, on
blood-letting, on beating all resistance down to a quivering,
spirit-broken mass.

The hunter lay still beneath him at last, his nerve centers shattered by
some blow that had short-circuited them, and Rainey got wearily to his
feet. The hunter's thumbs had pressed deep on each side of his neck, and
his head felt like wood for heaviness, but shot with pain. The vigor was
out of him. He knew he could not endure another hand-to-hand battle with
one of the crowd still raging about Lund, who was on his feet again.

Rainey saw his face, one red mask of blood and hair, with his agate eyes
flaring up with the glory of the fight. He roared no longer, saving his
breath. Hands clutched for him and fists fell, a man was tugging at each
knee of his legs, set far apart, sturdy as the masts themselves.

Lund's arm came up, lifting a hunter clean from the deck, shook him off
somehow, and crashed down. One of the men tackling his legs dropped
senseless from the buffet he got on the side of his skull, and Lund's
kick sent him scudding across the deck, limp, out of the fight that
could not last much longer.

All this came as Rainey, still dazed, helped himself by the skylight
toward the companion, going as fast as he could to get his gun. If he
did not hurry he was certain they would kill Lund. No man could
withstand those odds much longer.

And, Lund killed, hell would break loose. It would be his turn next, and
the girl would be left at their mercy. The thought spurred him, cleared
his throbbing head, jarred by the smashes of his still senseless
opponent who would be coming to before long.

Then he saw the girl, standing by the rail, not crouching, as he had
somehow expected her to be, shutting out the sight of the fight with
trembling hands, but with her face aglow, her eyes shining, watching, as
a Roman maid might have watched a gladiatorial combat; thrilled with the
spectacle, hands gripping the rail, leaning a little forward.

She did not notice Rainey as he crept by Hansen, still guiding the
schooner, holding her to her course, imperturbable, apparently careless
of the issue. As he staggered down the stairs the line of thought he had
pursued in his bunk, broken by the noise of the fight and his
participation, flashed up in his brain.

This was sex, primitive, predominant! The girl must sense what might
happen to her if Lund went down. She had no eyes for Rainey, her soul
was up in arms, backing Lund. The shine in her eyes was for the strength
of his prime manhood, matched against the rest, not as a person, an
individual, but as an embodiment of the conquering male.

He got the gun, and he snatched a drink of brandy that ran through his
veins like quick fire, revivifying him so that he ran up the ladder and
came on deck ready to take a decisive hand.

But he found it no easy matter to risk a shot in that swirling mass.
They all seemed to be arm weary. Blows no longer rose and fell. Lund was
slowly dragging the dead weight of them all toward the mast. The two men
on the deck still lay there. Rainey's opponent was trying to get up,
wiping clumsily at the blood on his face, blinded.

The girl still stood by the rail. Back of the wrestling mass stood the
seamen, offering to take no part, their arms aswing like apes, their
dull faces working. Tamada stood by the forward companion, his arms
folded, indifferent, neutral.


[Illustration: Then he saw the girl standing by the rail]


All this Rainey saw as he circled, while the mass whirled like a
teetotum. The action raced like an overtimed kinetoscopic film. A man
broke loose from the scrimmage, on the opposite side from Rainey, who
barely recognized the disheveled figure with the bloody, battered face
as Deming. The hunter had managed to get hold of Lund's gun. Rainey's
aim was screened by a sudden lunge of the huddle of men. He saw Lund
heave, saw his red face bob up, mouth open, roaring once more, saw his
leg come up in a tremendous kick that caught Deming's outleveling arm
close to the elbow, saw the gleam of the gun as it streaked up and
overboard, and Deming staggering back, clutching at his broken limb,
cursing with the pain, to bring up against the rail and shout to the
seamen:

"Get into it, you damned cowards! Get into it, and settle him!"

Even in that instant the sarcasm of the cry of "cowards" struck home to
Rainey. The next second the girl had jumped by him, a glint of metal in
her hand as she brought it out of her blouse. This time she saw him.
"Come on!" she cried. And darted between the fighters and the storming
figure of Deming, who tried to grasp her with his one good arm, but
failed.

Rainey sped after her just as Lund reached the mast. The girl had a
nickeled pistol in her hand and was threatening the sullen line of
irresolute seamen. Rainey with his gun was not needed. He heard Lund
shout out in a triumphant cry and saw him battering at the heads of
three who still clung to him.

All through the fight Lund had kept his head, struggling to the purpose
he had finally achieved, to reach the mast-rack of belaying pins, seize
one of the hardwood clubs and, with this weapon, beat his assailants to
the deck.

He stood against the mast, his clothes almost stripped from him, the
white of his flesh gleaming through the tatters, streaked with blood.
Save for his eyes, his face was no longer human, only a mass of flayed
flesh and clotted beard. But his eyes were alight with battle and then,
as Rainey gazed, they changed. Something of surprise, then of delight,
leaped into them, followed by a burning flare that was matched in those
of the girl who, with Rainey herding back the seamen, had turned at
Lund's yell of victory.

Lund took a lurching step forward over the prone bodies of the men on
the deck, that was splotched with blood.

"By God!" he said slowly, his arms opening, his great fingers outspread,
his gaze on the girl, "by God!"

The girl's face altered. Her eyes grew frightened, cold. The retreating
blood left her cheeks pale, and she wheeled and fled, dodging behind
Tamada, who gave way to let her pass, his ivory features showing no
emotion, closing up the fore companionway as Peggy Simms dived below.

Lund did not follow her. Instead, he laughed shortly and appeared to see
Rainey for the first time.

"Jumped me, the bunch of 'em!" he said, his chest heaving, his breath
coming in spurts from his laboring lungs. "Couldn't use my gun. But I
licked 'em. Damn 'em! _Equals?_ Hell!"

He seemed to have a clear recollection of the fight. He smiled grimly at
Deming, who glared at him, nursing his broken arm, then glanced at the
man that Rainey had mastered.

"Did him up, eh? Good for you, matey! You didn't have to use your gun.
Jest as well, you might have plugged me. An' the gal had one, after
all."

He seemed to ruminate on this thought as if it gave him special cause
for reflection.

"Game!" he said. "Game as they make 'em!"

He surveyed the rueful, groaning combatants with the smile of a
conqueror, then turned to the seamen.

"Here, you!" he roared, and they jumped as if galvanized into life by
the shout. "Chuck a bucket of water over 'em! Chuck water till they git
below. Then clean the decks. Off-watch, you're out of this. Below with
you, where you belong. Jump!

"They all fought fair," he went on. "Not a knife out. Only Deming there,
when he knew he was licked, tried to git my gun. Yo're yeller, Deming,"
he said, with contempt that was as if he had spat in the hunter's face.
"I thought you were a better man than the rest. But you've got yores.
Git down below an' we'll fix you up."

He strode over to Hansen, stolid at the wheel.

"Wal, you wooden-faced squarehead," he said, "which way did you think it
was coming out? Damn me if you didn't play square, though! You kept her
up. If you'd liked you could have chucked us all asprawl, an' that would
have bin the end of it, with me down. You git a bottle of booze for
that, Hansen, all for yore own Scandinavian belly. Come on, Rainey.
Tamada, I want you."

While Tamada got splints and did what he could for the badly shattered
arm, Lund taunted Deming until the hunter's face was seamed with useless
ferocity, like a weasel's in a trap.

"I wonder you fix him at all, Tamada," he said. "He wanted to cut you
out of yore share. Called you a yellow-skinned heathen, Tamada. What
makes you gentle him that way? You've got him where you want him."

Tamada, binding up the splints professionally, looked at Deming with
jetty eyes that revealed no emotion.

Lund passed his hand over his face.

"I'm some mess myself," he said, stretching his great arms. "Give me a
five-finger drink, Rainey, afore I clean up. Some scrap. Hell popping on
deck, and a dead man in the cabin! And the gal! Did you see the gal,
Rainey?"

Out of the bloody mask of his face his agate eyes twinkled at Rainey
with a sort of good-natured malice. Rainey did not answer as he poured
the liquor.

"Make it four finger," exclaimed Lund. "Deming's goin' to faint. One for
Doc Tamada."

The Japanese excused himself, helping Deming, worn out with pain and
consumed by baffled hate, forward through the galley corridor. Then he
came back with warm water in a basin--and towels.

"After this cheery little fracas," said Lund, mopping at his face,
"we'll mebbe have a nice, quiet, genteel sort of ship. My gun went
overboard, didn't it? Better let me have that one you've got, Rainey."

He stretched out his hand for it. Rainey delivered it, reluctantly.
There was nothing else to do, but he felt more than ever that the
_Karluk_ was henceforth to be a one-man ship, run at the will of Lund.

But the girl, too, had a weapon. He hugged that thought. She carried it
for her own protection, and she would not hesitate to use it. What a
girl she was! What a woman rather! A woman who would _mate_--not marry
for the quiet safety of a home. Rainey thought of her as one does of a
pool that one plumbs with a stone, thinking to find it fairly shallow,
only to discover it a gulf with unknown depth and currents, capable of
smiling placidness or sudden storm.



CHAPTER XIII

THE RIFLE CARTRIDGES


The girl did not appear for the evening meal. She had refused Tamada's
suggestions through the door. Lund drank heavily, but without any
effect, save to sink him in comparative silence, as he and Rainey sat
together, after the Japanese had cleared the table. In contrast to the
excitement of the fight, their moods had changed, sobered by the thought
of the girl sitting up with her dead in the captain's room.

Rainey was bruised and stiffened, and Lund moved with less of his usual
ease. The flesh of his face had been so pounded that it was turning dull
purple in great patches, giving him a diabolical appearance against his
naming beard.

"We've got to git hold of those cartridges," he said, after a
long-pause. "Carlsen had 'em planted somewhere, an' it's likely in his
room. Best thing to do is to chuck 'em overboard. Cheaper to dump the
cartridges an' shells than the rifles an' shotguns.

"You see," he went on, "Deming ain't quit. That's one thing with a man
who's streaked with yeller, when he gits licked in the open an' knows
he's licked proper, he tries to git even underhanded. He knows jest as
well as I do that Carlsen was lyin' that time about there bein' no more
shells. O' course the skipper may have stowed 'em away, but I doubt it.
An' jest so long as he thinks there's a chance of gittin' at 'em, he'll
figger on turning' the tables some day. An' he'll be workin' the rest of
'em up to the job."

"They can't do much without a navigator," suggested Rainey.

"Mebbe they figger a man'll do a lot o' things he don't want to with a
rifle barrel stuck in his neck or the small of his back," said Lund
grimly. "It's a good persuader. Might even have some influence on me.
Then ag'in it might not."

"Where is the magazine?" asked Rainey.

"In the little room aft o' the galley. We'll look there first. Come on."

"How about keys? Carlsen's must have been in his pockets. I didn't see
them when I was hunting the morphine. We can't go in there." Rainey made
a motion toward the skipper's room. Lund chuckled.

"I had my keys to the safe an' the magazine when I was aboard last
trip," he said. "They was with me when we went on the ice. An' I hung on
to 'em. Allus thought I might have a chance to use 'em ag'in."

The strong room of the _Karluk_ was a narrow compartment, heavily
partitioned off from the galley and the corridor. There was a lamp
there, and Rainey lit it while Lund closed the door behind them. The
magazine was an iron chest fastened to the floor and the side of the
vessel with two padlocks, opened by different keys. It was quite empty.

"Thorough man, Carlsen," said Lund. "Prepared for a show-down, if
necessary. Might have put 'em in the safe. Wonder if he changed the
combination? I bet Simms didn't, year in an' out."

He worked at the disk and grunted as the tumblers clicked home.

"It ain't changed," he said. "No use lookin' here." But he swung back
the door and rummaged through books and papers, disturbing a chronometer
and a small cash-box that held the schooner's limited amount of ready
cash. There was no sign of any cartridges.

"We'll tackle Carlsen's room next," he announced. "I don't suppose you
looked between the bunk mattresses, did you?"

"I never thought of it," said Rainey. "I didn't imagine there would be
more than one."

"I've got a hunch you'll find two on Carlsen's bunk. An' the shells
between 'em. He kep' his door locked when he was out of the main cabin
an' slep' on 'em nights. That's what I'd be apt to do."

As they came into the main cabin Rainey caught Lund by the arm.

"I'm almost sure I saw Carlsen's door closing," he whispered. "It might
have been the shadow."

"But it might not. Shouldn't wonder. One of 'em's sneaked in. Saw the
cabin empty, an' figgered we'd turned in. While we was in the
strong-room."

He took the automatic from his pocket and went straight to the door of
Carlsen's room. It was locked or bolted from within.

"The fool!" said Lund. "I've got a good mind to let him stay there till
he swallers some o' the drugs to fill his belly." He rapped on the panel
with the butt of the gun.

"Come on out before I start trouble."

There was no answer. Lund looked uncertainly at Rainey.

"I hate to start a rumpus ag'in," he said, jerking his head toward the
skipper's room. "'Count of her. Reckon he can stay there till after
we've buried Simms. He's safe enough."

Rainey was a little surprised at this show of thoughtfulness, but he did
not remark on it. He was beginning to think pretty constantly of late
that he had underestimated Lund.

The giant's hand dropped automatically to the handle as if to assure
himself of the door being fast. Suddenly it opened wide, a black gap,
with only the gray eye of the porthole facing them. Lund had brought up
the muzzle of his pistol to the height of a man's chest, but there was
nothing to oppose it.

"Hidin', the damn fool! What kind of a game is this? Come out o' there."

Something scuttled on the floor of the room--then darted swiftly out
between the legs of Lund and Rainey, on all fours, like a great dog.
Curlike, it sprawled on the floor with a white face and pop-eyes, with
hands outstretched in pleading, knees drawn up in some ludicrous attempt
at protection, calling shrilly, in the voice of Sandy:

"Don't shoot, sir! Please don't shoot!"

Lund reached down and jerked the roustabout to his feet, half
strangling him with his grip on the collar of the lad's shirt, and flung
him into a chair.

"What were you doin' in there?"

Sandy gulped convulsively, feeling at his scraggy throat, where an
Adam's apple was working up and down. Speech was scared out of him, and
he could only roll his eyes at them.

"You damned young traitor!" said Lund. "I'll have you keelhauled for
this! Out with it, now. Who sent ye? Deming?"

"You've got him frightened half to death," intervened Rainey. "They
probably scared him into doing this. Didn't they, Sandy?"

The lad blinked, and tears of self-pity rolled down his grimy cheeks.
The relief of them seemed to unstopper his voice. That, and the kinder
quality of Rainey's questioning.

"Deming! He said he'd cut my bloody heart out if I didn't do it. Him an'
Beale. Lookit."

He plucked aside the front of his almost buttonless shirt and worn
undervest and showed them on his left breast the scoring where a sharp
blade had marked an irregular circle on his skin.

"Beale did that," he whined. "Deming said they'd finish the job if I
come back without 'em."

"Without the shells?"

"Yes, sir. Yes, Mr. Rainey. Oh, Gord, they'll kill me sure! Oh, my
Gord!" His staring eyes and loose mouth, working in fear, made him look
like a fresh-landed cod.

"You ain't much use alive," said Lund.

"Mebbe I ain't," returned the lad, with the desperation of a cornered
rat. "But I got a right to live. And I've lived worse'n a dorg on this
bloody schooner. I'm fair striped an' bruised wi' boots an' knuckles an'
ends o' rope. I'd 'ave chucked myself over long ago if--"

"If what?"

The lad turned sullen.

"Never mind," he said, and glared almost defiantly at Lund.

"Is that door shut?" the giant asked Rainey. "Some of 'em might be
hangin' 'round." Rainey went to the corridor and closed and locked the
entrance.

"Now then, you young devil," said Lund. "What they did to you for'ard
ain't a marker on what I'll do to you if you don't speak up an' answer
when I talk. _If what?_"

Sandy turned to Rainey.

"They said they was goin' to give me some of the gold," he said. "They
said all along I was to have the hat go 'round for me. I told you I was
dragged up, but there's--there's an old woman who was good to me. She's
up ag'in' it for fair. I told her I'd bring her back some dough an' if I
can hang on an' git it, I'll hang on. But they'll do me up, now, for
keeps."

Rainey heard Lund's chuckle ripen to a quiet laugh.

"I'm damned if they ain't some guts to the herrin' after all," he said.
"Hangin' on to take some dough back to an old woman who ain't even his
mother. Who'd have thought it? Look here, my lad. I was dragged up the
same way, I was. An' I hung on. But you'll never git a cent out of that
bunch. I don't know as they'll have enny to give you."

His face hardened. "But you come through, an' I'll see you git somethin'
for the old woman. An' yoreself, too. What's more, you can stay aft an'
wait on cabin. If they lay a finger on you, I'll lay a fist on them, an'
worse."

"You ain't kiddin' me?"

"I don't kid, my lad. I don't waste time that way."

Sandy stood up, his face lighting. He began to empty his pockets, laying
shells and shotgun cartridges upon the table.

"I couldn't begin to git harf of 'em," he said. "The rest's under the
mattresses. They said they on'y needed a few. I thought you was both
turned in. When you come out of the corridor I was scared nutty."

Between the mattresses, as Lund had guessed, they found the rest of the
shells, laid out in orderly rows save where the lad's scrambling
fingers had disturbed them. Lund stripped off a pillow-case and dumped
them in, together with those on the table.

"You can bunk here," he told the grateful Sandy. "Now I'll have a few
words with Deming, Beale and Company. Want to come along, Rainey?"

Lund strode down the corridor, bag in one hand, his gun in the other.
Rainey threw open the door of the hunters' quarters and discovered them
like a lot of conspirators. Deming was in his bunk; also another man,
whose ribs Lund had cracked when he had kicked him along the deck out of
his way. The bruised faces of the rest showed their effects from the
fight. As Lund entered, covering them with the gun, while he swung down
the heavy slip on the table with a clatter, their looks changed from
eager expectation to consternation.



CHAPTER XIV

PEGGY SIMMS


"Caught with the goods!" said Lund. "Two tries at mutiny in one day, my
lads. You want to git it into your boneheads that I'm runnin' this ship
from now on. I can sail it without ye and, by God, I'll set the bunch of
ye ashore same's you figgered on doin' with me if you don't sit up an'
take notice! The rifles an' guns"--he glanced at the orderly display of
weapons in racks on the wall--"are too vallyble to chuck over, but here
go the shells, ev'ry last one of them. So that nips _that_ little plan,
Deming."

He turned back the slip to display the contents.

"Open a port, Rainey, an' heave the lot out."

Rainey did so while the hunters gazed on in silent chagrin.

"There's one thing more," said Lund, grinning at them. "If enny of you
saw a man hurtin' a dog, you'd probably fetch him a wallop. But you
don't think ennything of scarin' the life out of a half-baked kid an'
markin' up his hide like a patchwork quilt. Thet kid's stayin' aft after
this. One of you monkey with him, an' you'll do jest what he's bin
doin', wish you was dead an' overboard."

He turned on his heel and walked to the door, Rainey following.

"Burial of the skipper at dawn," said Lund. "All hands on deck, clean
an' neatly dressed to stand by. An' see yore behavior fits the occasion.
Deming, you'll turn out, too. No malingerin'."

It was plain that the news of the captain's death was known to them.
They showed no surprise. Rainey was sure that Tamada had not mentioned
it. It had leaked out through the grape-vine telegraphy of all ships.
Doubtless, he thought, the after-cabin and its doings was always being
spied upon.

"Will you take the service ter-morrer?" Lund asked Rainey when they
were back in the cabin. "Bein' as yo're an eddicated chap?"

"Why--I don't know it. Is there a prayer-book aboard? I thought the
skipper always presided."

"I'm only deputy-skipper w'en it comes down to that," said Lund. "It
ain't my ship. I'm jest runnin' it under contract with my late partner.
The ship belongs to the gal. And yo're top officer now, in the regular
run. As to a prayer-book, there ain't sech an article aboard to my
knowledge. But I'd like to have it go off shipshape. For Simms' sake as
well as the gal's. I reckon he used his best jedgment 'bout puttin' back
after me on the floe. I might have done the same thing myself."

Rainey doubted that statement, and set it down to Lund's generosity.
Many of his late words and actions had displayed a latent depth of
feeling that he had never credited Lund with possessing. He could not
help believing that, in some way, the girl had brought them to the
surface.

"I thought I saw a Bible in the safe," he said, "when we were looking
for the shells. There may be a prayer-book. I suppose there have been
occasions for it. The mate died at sea last trip."

"There may be," returned Lund. "That's where Simms 'ud keep it. He
warn't what you'd call a religious man. We'll take a look afore we turn
in."

There were offices to be performed for the dead captain that the girl,
with all her willingness, could not attempt. Lund did not mention them,
and Rainey vacillated about disturbing her until he saw Tamada go
through the cabin with folded canvas and a flag. The Japanese tapped on
the door, which was instantly opened to him. He had been expected.

There was no doubt that Tamada, with his medical experience, was best
fitted for the task, but it seemed to Rainey also that the girl had
deliberately ignored their services and that, despite her involuntary
admiration of Lund's fight against odds, or in revulsion of it, she
reckoned them hostile to her sentiments. Lund roused him by talking of
the burial-service for Simms.

"You're a writer," he said. "What's the good of knowin' how to handle
words if you can't fake up some sort of a service? One's as good as
another, long as it sounds like the real thing.

"I reckon there's a God," he went on. "Somethin' that started things,
somethin' that keeps the stars from runnin' each other down, but, after
He wound up the clock He made, I don't figger He bothers much about the
works.

"Luck's the big thing that counts. We're all in on the deal. Some of us
git the deuces an' treys, an' some git the aces. If yo're born lucky
things go soft for you. But, if it warn't for luck, for the chance an'
the hope of it, things 'ud be upside down an' plain anarchy in a jiffy.
If it warn't the pore devil's idea that his luck has got to change for
the better, mebbe ter-morrer, he'd start out an' cut his own throat, or
some one else's, if he had ginger enough."

"It's hardly all luck, is it?" asked Rainey. "Look at you! You're bigger
than most men, stronger, better equipped to get what you want."

"Hell!" laughed Lund. "I was lucky to be born that way. But you've got
to fudge up some sort of a service to suit the gal. You've got that
Bible. It ought to be easy. Simms wouldn't give a whoop, enny more'n I
would. When yo're dead yo're through, so far's enny one can prove it to
you. A dead body's a nuisance, an' the sooner it's got rid of the
better. But if it's goin' to make the livin' feel enny better for
spielin' off some fine words, why, hop to it an' make up yore speech."

Peggy Simms saved Rainey by producing a prayer-book, bringing it to
Lund, her face pale but composed enough, and her shadowed eyes calm as
she gave it to him.

"I reckon Rainey here 'ud read it better'n me," he said. "He's a
scholar."

"If you will," asked the girl. She seemed to have outworn her first
sorrow, to have obtained a grip of herself that, with the dignity of her
bereavement, the very control of her undoubted grief, set up a barrier
between her and Lund. Rainey was conscious of this fence behind which
the girl had retreated. She was polite, but she did not ask this service
as a favor, as a friendly act. Refusal, even, would not have visibly
affected her, he fancied. There was an invisible armor about her that
might be added to at any moment by a shield of silent scorn. Somehow, if
sex had, for a swift moment, brought her and Lund into any contact, that
same sex, showing another aspect, set them far apart.

Lund showed that he felt it, running his splay fingers through his beard
in evident embarrassment, while Rainey took the book silently, looking
through the pages for the ritual of "Burial at Sea."

Arrangements had been made on deck long before dawn. A section of the
rail had been removed and a grating arranged that could be tipped at
the right moment for the consignment of the captain's body to the deep.

The sea was running in long heaves, and the sun rose in a clear sky. The
ocean was free from ice, though the wind was cold. Here and there a
berg, far off, caught the sparkle of the sun and, to the north, parallel
to their course, the peaks of the Aleutian Isles, broken buttresses of
an ancient seabridge, showed sharply against the horizon.

At four bells in the morning watch all hands had assembled, save for
Tamada and Hansen, who appeared bearing the canvas-enveloped,
flag-draped body of Simms, his sea-shroud weighted by heavy pieces of
iron. Peggy Simms followed them, and, as the crew, with shuffling feet
and throats that were repeatedly cleared, gathered in a semicircle, she
arranged the folds of the Stars and Stripes that Hansen attached to a
light line by one corner.

Whatever Lund affected, the solemnity of the occasion held the men. They
uncovered and stood with bowed heads that hid the bruised faces of the
hunters. Lund's own damaged features were lowered as Rainey commenced to
read. Only Deming's face, gray from the effort of coming on deck and the
pain in his arm, held the semblance of a sneer that was largely bravado.
A hunter had his arm tucked in that of his comrade with the broken ribs.
A seaman was told off to the wheel and the schooner was held to the wind
with all sheets close inboard, rising and falling on an almost level
keel.

"_And the body shall be cast into the sea._"

At the words Lund and Hansen tilted the grating. There was a slight
pause as if the body were reluctant to start on its last journey, and
then it slid from the platform and plunged into the sea, disappearing
instantly under the urge of the weights, with a hissing aeration of the
water. The flag, held inboard by the line, fluttered a moment and
subsided over the grating. The girl turned toward them, her head up.

"Thank you," she said, and went below.

"That's over," said Lund, letting out whatever emotions he might have
repressed in a long breath. "Now, then, trim ship! Watch-off, get below.
We're goin' to drive her for all she's worth."

He took the wheel himself as the men jumped to the sheets and soon Lund
was getting every foot of possible speed out of the schooner. He was as
good a sailor as Simms, inclined to take more chances, but capable of
handling them.

The girl kept below and seldom came out of her cabin, Tamada serving her
meals in there. Rainey could see Lund's resentment growing at this
attitude that seemed to him normal enough, though it might present
difficulty later if persisted in. But the morning that they headed up
through Sequam Pass between the spouting reefs of Sequam and Amlia
Islands, she came on deck and went forward to the bows, taking in deep
breaths of the bracing air and gazing north to the free expanse of
Bering Strait. Rainey left her alone, but Lund welcomed her as she came
back aft.

"Glad to see you on deck again, Miss Peggy," he said. "You need sun and
air to git you in shape again."

His glance held vivid admiration of her as he spoke, a glance that ran
over her rounded figure with a frank approval that Rainey resented, but
to which the girl paid no attention. She seemed to have made up her mind
to a change of attitude.

"How far have we yet to go?" she asked.

"A'most a thousan' miles to the Strait proper," said Lund. "The
Nome-Unalaska steamer lane lies to the east. Runs close to the
Pribilofs, three hundred miles north, with Hall an' St. Matthew three
hundred further. Then comes St. Lawrence Isle, plumb in the middle of
the Strait, with Siberia an' Alaska closin' in."

He was keen to hold her in conversation, and she willing to listen,
assenting almost eagerly when he offered to point out their positions
on the chart, spread on the cabin table. Lund talked well, for all his
limited and at times luridly inclined vocabulary, whenever he talked of
the sea and of his own adventures, stating them without brag, but
bringing up striking pictures of action, full of the color and savor of
life in the raw. From that time on Peggy Simms came to the table and
talked freely with Lund, more conservatively with Rainey.

The newspaperman was no experienced analyst of woman nature, but he saw,
or thought he saw, the girl watching Lund closely when he talked,
studying him, sometimes with more than a hint of approbation, at others
with a look that was puzzled, seeming to be working at a problem. The
giant's liking for her, boyish at times, or swiftly changing to bolder
appraisal, grew daily.

The girl, Rainey decided, was humoring Lund, seeking to know how with
her feminine methods she might control him, keep him within bounds. Her
coldness, it seemed, she had cast aside as an expedient that might prove
too provoking and worthless.

And Rainey's valuation of her resources increased. She was handling her
woman's weapons admirably, yet when he sometimes, at night, under the
cabin lamp, saw the smoldering light glowing in Lund's agate eyes, he
knew that she was playing a dangerous game.

"What d'ye figger on doin' with yore share, Rainey?" Lund asked him the
night that they passed Nome. It was stormy weather in the Strait, and
the _Karluk_ was snugged down under treble reefs, fighting her way
north. Ice in the Narrows was scarce, though Lund predicted broken floes
once they got through. The cabin was cozy, with a stove going. Peggy
Simms was busied with some sewing, the canary and the plants gave the
place a domestic atmosphere, and Lund, smoking comfortably, was
eminently at ease.

"'Cordin' to the way the men figgered it out," he went on, "though I
reckon they're under the mark more'n over it, you'll have forty
thousan' dollars. That's quite a windfall, though nothin' to Miss Peggy,
here, or me, for that matter. I s'pose you got it all spent already."

"I don't know that I have," said Rainey. "But I think, if all goes well,
I'll get a place up in the Coast Range, in the redwoods looking over the
sea, and write. Not newspaper stuff, but what I've always wanted to.
Stories. Yarns of adventure!"

Peggy Simms looked up.

"You've never done that?" she asked.

"Not satisfactorily. I suppose that genius burns in a garret, but I
don't imagine myself a genius and I don't like garrets. I've an idea I
can write better when I don't have to stand the bread-and-butter strain
of routine."

"Goin' to write second-hand stuff?" asked Lund. "Why don't you _live_
what you write? I don't see how yo're goin' to git under a man's skin by
squattin' in a bungalow with a Jap servant, a porcelain bathtub, an'
breakfast in bed. Why don't you travel an' see stuff as it is? How in
blazes are you goin' to write Adventure if you don't live it?

"Me, I'm goin' to git a schooner built accordin' to my own ideas. Have a
kicker engine in it, mebbe, an' go round the world. What's the use of
livin' on it an' not knowin' it by sight? Books and pictures are all
right in their way, I reckon, but, while my riggin' holds up, I'm for
travel. Mebbe I'll take a group of islands down in the South Seas after
a bit an' make somethin' out of 'em. Not jest _copra_ an' pearl-shell,
but cotton an' rubber."

"A king and his kingdom," suggested the girl.

"Aye, an' mebbe a queen to go with it," replied Lund, his eyes wide open
in a look that made the girl flush and Rainey feel the hidden issue that
he felt was bound to come, rising to the surface.

"That's a _man's_ life," went on Lund. "Travel's all right, but a man's
got to do somethin', buck somethin', start somethin'. An' a red-blooded
man wants the right kind of a woman to play mate. Polish off his rough
edges, mebbe. I'd rather be a rough castin' that could stand filin' a
bit, than smooth an' plated. An', when I find the right woman, one of my
own breed, I'm goin' to tie to her an' her to me.

"I'm goin' to be rich. They've cleaned up the sands of Nome, but there's
others'll be found yit between Cape Hope an' Cape Barry. Meantime, we've
got a placer of our own. With plenty of gold they ain't much limit to
what a man can do. I've roughed it all my life, an' I'm not lookin' for
ease. It makes a man soft. But--"

He swept the figure of the girl in a pause that was eloquent of his line
of thought. She grew uneasy of it, but Lund maintained it until she
raised her eyes from her work and challenged his. Rainey saw her breast
heave, saw her struggle to hold the gaze, turn red, then pale. He
thought her eyes showed fear, and then she stiffened. Almost
unconsciously she raised her hand to where Rainey was sure she kept the
little pistol, touched something as though to assure herself of its
presence, and went on sewing. Lund chuckled, but shifted his eyes to
Rainey.

"Why don't you write up _this_ v'yage? When it's all over? There's
adventure for you, an' we ain't ha'f through with it. An' romance, too,
mebbe. We ain't developed much of a love-story as yit, but you never can
tell."

He laughed, and Peggy Simms got up quietly, folded her sewing, and said
"Good night" composedly before she went to her room.

"How about it, Rainey?" quizzed Lund. "How about the love part of it?
She's a beauty, an' she'll be an heiress. Ain't you got enny red blood
in yore veins? Don't you want her? You won't find many to hold a candle
to her. Looks, built like a racin' yacht, smooth an' speedy. Smart, an'
rich into the bargain. Why don't you make love to her?"

Rainey felt the burning blood mounting to his face and brain.

"I am not in love with Miss Simms," he said. "If I was I should not try
to make love to her under the circumstances. She's alone, and she's
fatherless. I do not care to discuss her."

"She's a woman," said Lund. "And yo're a damned prig! You'd like to bust
me in the jaw, but you know I'm stronger. You've got some guts, Rainey,
but yo're hidebound. You ain't got ha'f the git-up-an'-go to ye that she
has. She's a woman, I tell you, an' she's to be won. If you want her,
why don't you stand up an' try to git her 'stead of sittin' around like
a sick cat whenever I happen to admire her looks?

"I've seen you. I ain't blind enny longer, you know. She's a woman an'
I'm a man. I thought you was one. But you ain't. Yore idea of makin'
love is to send the gal a box of candy an' walk pussy-footed an' write
poems to her. You want to _write_ life an' I want to _live_ it. So does
a gal like that. She's more my breed than yores, if she has got
eddication. An' she's flesh and blood. Same as I am. Yo're half sawdust.
Yo're stuffed."

He went on deck laughing, leaving Rainey raging but helpless. Lund
appeared to think the situation obvious. Two men, and a woman who was
attractive in many ways. The _only_ woman while they were aboard the
schooner, therefore the more to be desired, admired by men cut off from
the rest of the world.

He expected Rainey to be in love with her, to stand up and say so, to
endeavor to win her. Lund sought the ardor of competition. He might be
looking for the excuse to crush Rainey.

But he had said she was of his breed, and that was a true saying. If
Lund was a son of the sea, she was a daughter of a line of seamen. Lund,
sooner or later, meant to take her, willing or unwilling. He had said
so, none too covertly, that very evening. And, if Rainey meant to stand
between her and Lund as a protector, Lund would accept him in that
character only as the girl's lover and his rival.

And Rainey did not know whether he was in love with her or not. He could
not even be certain of the girl. There were times when Lund seemed to
fascinate her. One thing he braced himself to do, to be ready to aid her
against Lund if occasion came, and she needed protection. The luck, as
Lund phrased it, that had given brawn to the giant, had given Rainey
brains. When the time came he would use them.

After this the girl avoided Lund's company as much as possible by
seeking Rainey's. They worked through the Strait and headed into the
Arctic Ocean. Ice was all about them, fields formed of vast blocks of
frozen water divided by broad lanes through which the _Karluk_ slowly
made her way, a maze of ice, always threatening, calling for all of
Lund's skill while he fumed at every barrier, every change of the
weather that grew steadily colder.

The sky was never entirely unveiled by mist, and at night, as they
sailed down a frozen fiord with lookouts doubled, the grinding smashing
noises of the ice seemed the warning voice of the North, as they sailed
on into the wilderness.

The hunters kept below. Lund bossed the ship. Deming, it seemed, managed
to hold his cards and deal them despite his mending arm in splints. And
he was steadily winning. The girl talked with Rainey of her own life
ashore and at sea on earlier trips with her father, of his own desire to
write, of his ambitions, until there was little he had not told her,
even to the girl who was the daughter of the Lumber King.

And the spell of her nearness, her youth, her beauty, naturally held
him. When he was on deck duty she remained in her room. When Lund
relieved him, the day's work giving Lund, Hansen, and Rainey each two
regular watches of four hours, though Lund put in most of the night as
the ice grew more difficult to navigate, Rainey occasionally saw the
giant's eyes sizing him up with a sardonic twinkle.

For the time being, the safety of the _Karluk_ and the successful
carrying out of the purpose of the trip took all of Lund's attention and
energy. Twice he had been thwarted by the weather from gleaning his
golden harvest, and it began to look as if the third attempt might be no
more fortunate.

"The _Karluk's_ stout," he said once, "but she ain't built for the
Arctic. If we git nipped badly she'll go like an eggshell."

"And then what?" Rainey asked.

"Git the gold! That's what we come for. If we have to make sleds an' use
the hunters for a dorg-team." He laughed indomitably. "We'll make a man
of you yit, Rainey, afore we git back."

Lund was snatching sleep in scraps, seeking always to feel a way toward
the position of the island through the ice that continually baffled
progress. Several times they risked the schooner in a narrow lane when
a lull of the often uncertain wind would have seen them ground between
the edges of the floe. Twice Lund ordered out the boats to save them.
Once all hands fended desperately with spars to keep her clear, and only
the schooner's overhung stern saved her rudder from the savagely
clashing masses that closed behind them.

But he showed few signs of strain. Once in a while he would sit with
closed eyes or pass his hands across his brows as if they pained him.
But he never complained, and the ice, taking on the dull hues of sea and
sky, gave off no glare that should affect the sight. Against all
opposition Lund forced his way until, just after sunset one night, as
the dusk swept down, he gave a shout and pointed to a fitful flare over
the port bow. Rainey thought it the aurora, but Lund laughed at him.

"It's the crater atop the island," he said. "Nothin' dangerous. Reg'lar
lighthouse. Now, boys," he went on, his deep voice ringing with
exhilaration, "there's gold in sight! Whistle for a change of weather,
every mother's son of you!"

The deck was soon crowded. On the previous trip the schooner had
approached the island from a different angle, but the men were swift to
acknowledge the glow of the volcano as the expected landfall. Lund
remained on deck, and it was late before any of the crew turned in.
Rainey, during his watch, saw the mountain fire-pulse, glowing and
winking like the eye of a Cyclops, its gleam reflected in the eyes of
the watchers who were about to invade the island and rob it of its
golden sands.

The change of weather came about three in the morning, though not as
Lund had hoped. A sudden wind materialized from the north, stiffening
the canvas with its ice-laden breath, glazing the schooner wherever
moisture dripped, bringing up an angry scud of clouds that fought with
the moon. The sea appeared to have thickened. The _Karluk_ went
sluggishly, as if she was sailing in a sea of treacle.

"Half slush already," said Lund. "We're in for a real cold snap.
There'll be pancake ice all around us afore dawn. That is sure a hard
beach to fetch. But it's too early for winter closing. After this nip
we'll have a warm spell. An' we got to git the stuff aboard an' start
kitin' south afore the big freeze-up catches us."



CHAPTER XV

SMOKE


When Rainey came on deck the next morning he found the schooner floating
in a small lagoon that made the center of a floe. The water in it was
slush, half solid. Main and fore were close furled, the headsails also,
and the _Karluk_ was nosing against the far end of the rapidly
diminishing basin. The wind was still lively.

All about were other floes, but they were widely separated, and between
them crisp waves of indigo were curling snappily.

The island stood up sharp and jagged, much larger than Rainey had
anticipated. It boasted two cones, from one of which smoke was lazily
trailing. Ice was piled in wild confusion about its shores, wrecked by
the gale that had blown hard from four till eight, and was now
subsiding with the swift change common to the Arctic.

A deep hum of bursting surf undertoned all other noises and, prisoned as
she was, the schooner and her floe were sweeping slowly toward the land
in the grip of a current rather than before the gusty wind.

Lund had fendered the schooner's bows effectively before he went below
with old sails that enveloped stem and swell, stuffed with ropes and
bits of canvas.

Within an hour the wind had ceased and the slush in the lagoon had
pancaked into flakes of forming ice that bid fair to become solid within
a short time, for the day was bitterly cold and tremendously bright. The
sky rose from filmy silver-azure to richest sapphire, and the rolling
waters between the floes were darkest purple-blue. As the whip of the
wind ceased they settled to a vast swell on which the great clumps of
ice rose and fell with dazzling reflections.

Lund came up within the hour and stood blinking at the brilliance.

"My eyes ain't as strong yit as they should be," he said to Rainey. "I
shouldn't have slung them glasses so hasty at Carlsen, though they
sp'iled his aim, at that. If this weather keeps up I'll have to make
snow-specs; there ain't another pair of smokes aboard." He made a shade
of his curved hand as he gazed at the island.

"Current's got us," he said, "an' we'll fetch up mighty close to the
beach. It lies between those two ridges, close together, buttin' out
from the volcano. Long Strait current splits on Wrangell Island, and
we're in the trend of the northern loop. That's why the sea don't freeze
up more solid. It's freezin' fast enough round us, where there ain't
motion."

He seemed well satisfied with the prospect. "Had breakfast?" he asked
Rainey, and then: "All right. We'll git the men aft."

He bellowed an order, and soon every one came trooping, to gather in two
groups either side of the cabin skylight. Their faces were eager with
the proximity of the gold, yet half sullen as they waited to hear what
Lund had to say. Since the attempt against him Lund had said nothing
about their shares. They acknowledged him as master, but they still
rebelled in spirit.

"There's the island," said Lund. "We'll make it afore sundown. The beach
is there, waitin' for us to dig it up. It'll be some job. I don't reckon
it's frozen hard, on'y crusted. If it is we'll bust the crust with
dynamite. But we got to hop to it. There'll be another cold spell after
this one peters out an' the next is like to be permanent. I want the
gold washed out afore then, an' us well down the Strait. It's up to you
to hump yoreselves, an' I'll help the humpin'.

"We'll cradle most of the stuff an', if they's time, we'll flume the
silt tailin's for the fine dust. Providin' we can git a fall of water.
There'll be plenty for all hands to do. An' the shares go as first
fixed. I ain't expectin' you to do the diggin' an' not git a pinch or
two of the dust."

The men's faces lighted, and they shuffled about, looking at one another
with grins of relief.

"No cheers?" asked Lund ironically. "Wall, I hardly expected enny.
Hansen, you'll be one of the foremen, with pay accordin'. Deming."

"I can't dig," said the hunter truculently. "Neither can Beale, with his
ribs."

"You've got a sweet nerve," said Lund. "I reckon you've won enough to be
sure of yore shares, if the boys pay up. Enough for you to do some
diggin' in yore pockets for Beale. His ribs 'ud be whole if you hadn't
started the bolshevik stunt. But I'll find something for both of you to
do. Don't let that worry you none.

"We've got mercury aboard somewhere," Lund continued, to Rainey, when
the men had dispersed, far more cheerful than they had gathered. "We'll
use that for concentration in the film riffles. Hansen'll have rockers
made that'll catch the big stuff. If the worst comes to the worst,
we'll load up the old hooker with the pay dirt an' wash it out on the
way home. I'll strip that beach down to bedrock if I have to work the
toes an' fingers off 'em."

By noon the schooner was glazed in as firmly as a toy model that is
mounted in a glass sea. The wind blew itself entirely out, but the
current bore them steadily on to the clamorous shore, where the swells
were creating promontories, bays, cliffs and chasms in the piled-up
confusion of the floes pounding on the rocks, breaking up or sliding
atop one another in noisy confusion.

The marble-whiteness of the ice masses was set off by the blues and soft
violets of their shadows, and by a pearly sheen wherever the planes
caught the light at a proper slant for the play of prisms. Beautiful as
it was, the sight was fearful to Rainey, in common with the crew. Only
Lund surveyed it nonchalantly.

"It's bustin' up fast," he said. "All we need is a little luck. If we
ain't got that there's no use of worryin'. We can't blast ourselves out
o' this without riskin' the schooner. We ought to be thankful we froze
in gentle. There ain't a plank started. The floe'll fend us off. There
ain't enny big chunks enny way near us aft. Luck--to make a decent
landin'--is all we need, an' it's my hunch it's comin' our way."

His "hunch" was correct. Though they did not actually make the little
bay on which the treasure beach debouched, they fetched up near it
against a broken hill of ice that had lodged on the sharp slopes of a
little promontory, making the connection without further damage than a
splitting of the forward end of their encasing floe, with hardly a jar
to the _Karluk_.

Lund sent men ashore over the ice, climbing to the promontory crags with
hawsers by which they tied up schooner, floe and all, to the land. If
the broken hill suffered further catastrophe, which did not seem likely,
its fragments would fall upon the floe. In case of emergency Lund
ordered men told off day and night to stand by the hawsers, to cast
loose or cut, as the extremity needed.

The main danger threatened from following floes piling up on theirs and
ramming over it to smash the schooner, but that was a risk that must be
met as it evolved, and there did not seem much prospect of the
happening.

It was dark before they were snugged. The men volunteered, through
Hansen, to commence digging that night by the light of big fires, so
crazy were they at the nearness of the gold. But Lund forbade it.

"You'll work reg'lar shifts when you git started," he said. "An' you
won't start till ter-morrer. We've got to stand by the ship ter-night
until we find out by mornin' how snug we're goin' to be berthed."

All night long they lay in a pandemonium of noise. After a while they
would become used to it as do the workers in a stampmill, but that night
it deafened them, kept them awake and alert, fearful, with the
tremendous cannonading. The bite of the frost made the timbers of the
_Karluk_ creak and its thrust continually worked among the stranded
masses with groaning thunders and shrill grindings, while the surf ever
boomed on the resonant sheets of ice.

The place held a strange mystery. On top of the main cone the volcanic
glow hung above the crater chimney, reflected waveringly on the rolling
clouds of smoke that blotted out the stars. There were no tremors, no
rumblings from the hidden furnace, only the flare of its stoking. The
stars that were visible were intensely brilliant points, and, when the
moon rose, it was accompanied by four mock moons bound in a halo that
widely encircled the true orb. The moon-dogs shone intermittently with
prismatic colors, like disks of mother-of-pearl, and the moon itself was
four-rayed.

Under moon and stars the coast snaked away to end in a deceptive glimmer
that persisted beyond the eye-range of definite dimensions. And, despite
all the sound, muffled and sharp, of splinterings and explosions, of
the reverberation of the swell, outside all this clamor, silence seemed
to gather and to wait. Silence and loneliness. It awed the crew, it
invested the spirits of Peggy Simms and Rainey, gazing at the mystic
beauty of the Arctic landscape.

The walls of forced-up ice shifted about them and came clattering down,
booming on their floe as if it had been a drum, and threatening to tilt
it by sheer weight had they not been fairly grounded forward. Other
floes came from seaward to batter at the cliffs, but the eddy that had
brought them to their resting-place seemed to have been dissolved in the
main current and, save for an occasional alarm, their stern was not
seriously invaded.

Only, as the night wore on, the floating masses became cemented to one
another and the shore. The _Karluk_ was hard and fast within two hundred
yards of her Tom Tiddler's ground, just over the promontory. If a thaw
came, all should go well. If Lund had been deceived, and the true
winter was setting in early, the prospects were far from cheerful,
though no one seemed to think of that possibility.

Beneath the glamour of the magic night, the weird paraselene of the
moon's phenomenon, the glow of the volcano, the noises, the men
whispered of one thing only--Gold!

Dawn came before they were aware of it, a sudden rush of light that dyed
the ice in every hue of red and orange, that tipped the frozen coast
with bursts of ruby flame that flared like beacons and gilded the crests
of the long swells, tinging all their world with a wild, unnatural
glory.

Lund, striding the deck, his red beard iced with his breath, suddenly
stopped and stared into the east. There, in the very eye of the dawn,
was a trail of smoke, like a plume against the flaming, three-quarters
circle of the rising sun!



CHAPTER XVI

THE MIGHT OF NIPPON


Lund's face, on which the bruises were fast fading, changed purple-black
with rage. He whirled upon Sandy, gaping near, and ordered him to fetch
his binoculars. Through them he stared long at the smoke. Then he turned
to the girl and Rainey.

"Come down inter the cabin," he said. "We'll need all our wits."

"That's a gunboat patrol," he said. "Japanese, for a million! None other
this far west. An' it's damned funny it should come up right at this
minnit. We've made the trip on schedule time, an' here they show. But
we'll let that slide. We've got to think fast. They'll board us. They'll
overhaul us lookin' for seal pelts. At least, I hope so.

"We've got none. Our hunters an' our rifles an' shotguns'll prove our
claim to be pelagic sealers. We got to trust they believe us. If there
was a hide aboard or a club, or a sign of a dead seal on the beaches
they'd nail us. They may, ennyway, jest on suspicion.

"They run things out this way with a high hand. If they ever clap us in
prison it'll be where we can't let a peep out of us. A lot they worry
about our consuls. They's too many good sealers dropped out of sight in
one of their stinkin' jails to starve on millet an' dried, moldy fish. I
know what I'm talkin' about.

"It's lucky we didn't start mussin' up that beach. But they'll go over
everything. I know 'em. They claim to own the seas hereabouts, an'
they're cockier than ever, since the war. Rainey you got to git busy on
the log. If yore father didn't keep it up, Miss Peggy, so much the
better. If he has, you got to fake it someways, Rainey.

"I'm Simms, get me, until we're clear of 'em. An' you, Rainey, are Doc
Carlsen. Nothin' must show in the log about enny deaths."

"But why?" asked the girl. "Why do we have to masquerade? If we haven't
touched the seals?"

Lund barked at her:

"I gave you credit for sharper wits," he said. "We've got to have
everything so reg'lar they can't find an excuse for haulin' us in an'
settin' fire to the schooner. They'd do it in a jiffy. We got to show
'em our clearance papers, an' we've got to tally up all down the line.
Rainey ain't on the ship's books--Carlsen is. Lund ain't, but Simms is.
I'm Simms. An' you"--he stopped to grin at her--"you're my daughter.
I'll dissolve the relationship after a while, I'll promise you that. An'
I'll drill the men. They know what's ahead of 'em if the Japs git
suspicious.

"That ain't the worst of it! _They may know what we're after._ If they
do, we're goners. Ever occur to you, Rainey, that Tamada, who is a deep
one, may have tipped off the whole thing to his consul while the
schooner was at San Francisco? He was along the last trip. He'd know the
approximate position. Might have got the right figgers out o' the log,
him havin' the run of the cabin. A cable would do the rest. He'd git his
whack out of it, with the order of the Golden Chrysanthemum or some
jig-arig to boot, an' git even with the way he feels to'ard our outfit
for'ard, that ain't bin none too sweet to him."

The suggestion held a foundation of conviction for Rainey. He had
thought of the consul. He had always sensed depths in Tamada's reserve,
he remembered bits of his talk, the "certain circumstances" that he had
mentioned. It looked plausible. Lund rose.

"I'll fix Tamada," he said. But the girl stopped him.

"You don't _know_ that's true. Tamada has been wonderful--to me. What do
you intend to do with him?"

"I'll make up my mind between here and the galley," said Lund grimly.
"This is my third time of tackling this island, an' no Jap is goin' to
stand between me an' the gold, this trip. Why, even if he ain't blown on
us, he'll give the whole thing away. If he didn't want to they'd make
him come through if they laid their eyes on him. They've got more tricks
than a Chinese mandarin to make a man talk. Stands to reason he'll tell
'em. If he can talk when they git here," he added ominously, standing
half-way between the table and the door to the corridor, his hand
opening and closing suggestively. "The crew'd settle his hash if I
didn't. They ain't fools. They know what's ahead of 'em in Japan. You,
Rainey, git busy with that log. That gunboat'll have a boat alongside
this floe inside of ninety minnits."

But Peggy Simms was between him and the door.

"You shan't do it," she said, her eyes hard as flints, if Lund's were
like steel. "You don't know what he was to me when--when dad was buried.
Call him in and let him talk for himself or--or _I'll tell the Japanese
myself what we have come for!_"

Lund stood staring at her, his face hard, his beard thrust out like a
bush with the jut of his jaw. Still she faced him, resolute, barely up
to his shoulder, slim, defiant. Gradually his features crinkled into a
grin.

"I believe you would," he said at last. "An' I'd hate to fix you the way
I would Tamada. But, mind you, if I don't git a definite promise out of
him that rings true, I'll have to stow him somewheres, where they won't
find him. An' that won't be on board ship."

The girl's face softened.

"You said you played fair," she said with a sigh of relief. She stepped
to the door, opened it, and called for Tamada. The Japanese appeared
almost instantly. Lund closed the door behind him and locked it.

"You know there's a patrol comin' up, Tamada?" he asked. "A Jap patrol?"

"Yes."

"What do you intend tellin' 'em if they come on board?"

"Nothing, if I can help it. I think I can. I am not friendly with
Japanese government. It would be bad for me if they find me. One time I
belong Progressive Party in Japan. I make much talk. Too much. The
government say I am too progressive."

Rainey imagined he caught a glint of humor in Tamada's eyes as he made
his clipped syllables.

"So, I leave my country. Suppose I go on steamer I think that government
they stop me. I think even in California they may make trouble, if they
find me. So I go in _sampan_. Sometimes Japanese cross to California in
_sampan_."

"That's right," said Rainey. He had handled more than one story of
Japanese crews landing on some desolate portion of the coast to avoid
immigration laws and steamer fares. Generally they were rounded up after
their perilous, daring crossing of the Pacific. Tamada's story held the
elements of truth. Even Lund nodded in reserved affirmation.

"Also I ship on _Karluk_ as cook because of perhaps trouble if some one
know me in San Francisco. I think much better if they do not see me. I
have a plan. Also I want my share of gold. Suppose that gunboat find me,
find out about gold, they will not give me reward. You do not know
Japanese. They will put me in prison. It will be suggest to me, because
I am of _daimio_ blood"--Tamada drew himself up slightly as he claimed
his nobility--"that I make _hari-kari_. That I do not wish. I am
Progressive. I much rather cook on board _Karluk_ and get my share of
gold."

Lund surveyed him moodily, half convinced. The girl was all eager
approval.

"What is your plan, Tamada?"

"We're losin' time on that log," cut in Lund. "Git busy, Rainey. Look
among Carlsen's stuff. He may have kept one. Dope up one of 'em, an'
burn the other. Now then, Tamada, dope out yore scheme; it's got to be
a good one."

Both Lund and the girl were laughing when Rainey came out into the main
cabin again with the records. Tamada had disappeared.

"He's some fox," said Lund. "Miss Peggy, you better superintend the
theatricals. It's got to be done right. Rainey, not to interrupt you,
what do you know about enteric fever?"

"Nothing."

"Well, it's the same as typhoid. There'll be a surgeon aboard that
gunboat. You got to bluff him. Say little an' look wise as an' owl.
Don't let him mix in with yore patient."

"My patient?"

"Tamada! He's got enteric fever. If there's time he'll give you all the
dope."

"But I don't see how that--"

"You will see when you see Tamada," Lund grinned. "How about them logs?
Can you fix 'em?"

"I think so."

"Then hop to it. I'm goin' to wise up the men and arrange a reception
committee. Don't forgit yore name's Carlsen, an' mine's Simms."

Rainey wrote rapidly in his log, erasing, eliminating pages without
trace, imitating the skipper's phrasing. Fortunately Simms had made
scant entries at first and, later on, as the drug held him, none at all.
Carlsen had kept no record that he could find. The girl had gone forward
to aid with Tamada's plan which Lund had evidently accepted.

Before he had quite finished he heard the tramp of men on deck and the
blast of a steam whistle. He ended his task and went up to see the
gunboat, gray and menacing, its brasses glistening, men on her decks at
their tasks, oblivious of the schooner, and officers on her bridge
watching the progress of a launch toward the floe.

It made landing smartly, and a lieutenant, diminutive but highly
effective in appearance, led six men toward the _Karluk_. He wore a
sword and revolver; the men carried carbines. Their disciplined rank and
smartness, the waiting launch, the gunboat in the offing, were ominous
with the suggestion of power, the will to administer it. The officer in
command carried his chin at an arrogant tilt. Lund had rigged a gangway
and stood at the head of it, saluting the lieutenant as the latter
snappily answered the greeting.

Rainey found the girl and put a hurried question.

"What about Tamada? Where is he? What's the plan?"

She turned to him with eyes that danced with excitement.

"He's in the galley, Doctor Carlsen. But he isn't Tamada any more. He's
Jim Cuffee, nigger cook, sick with enteric fever, not to be disturbed."

Rainey stared. It was a clever device, if Tamada could carry it out, and
he bear his own part in the masquerade. The willingness of Tamada to
risk the disguise was assurance of his fidelity.

"Lund should have told me," he said. "I've got to change his name on
the papers. It won't take a minute though; he doesn't appear in the
log."

The Japanese officer wasted no time on deck. For precaution, Rainey made
his alteration in the skipper's cabin, leaving the log there on the
built-in desk.

"This is Lieutenant Ito, Doctor Carlsen," said Lund. "You want to see
our papers, Lieutenant?"

"My orders are to examine the schooner," said Ito, in English, even more
perfect than Tamada's. His face was officially severe, though his slant
eyes shifted constantly toward the girl. Evidently she was an unexpected
feature of the visit.

"I'll get the papers first," said Lund. "Doctor, you an' Peggy entertain
the lieutenant." Rainey set out some whisky, which the Japanese refused,
some cigars that he passed over with a motion of his hand. He sat down
stiffly and ran through the papers.

"We're pelagic, you know," said Lund. "We ain't trespassin' on purpose.
Didn't even know you owned the island."

"It is on our charts," said Ito crisply, as if that settled the right of
dominion. "How did you come here at all?"

"We was brought," said Lund. "Got froze in north o' Wrangell. Gale set
us west as we come out o' the Strait. We're bound for Corwin. Nothin'
contraband. All reg'lar. Six hunters, two damaged in the gale, though
the doc's fixed 'em up. Twelve seamen, one boy, an' a nigger cook who's
pizened himself with his own cookin'. Doc's bringin' him round, too,
though he don't deserve it. Want to make yore inspection? We're in no
hurry to git away until the ice melts. Take yore time."

The little, dapper officer with his keen, high-cheeked face, and his
shoe-brush hair, got up and bowed, with a side glance at Peggy Simms.

"It is not usual for young ladies to be so far north." His endeavor at
gallantry was obvious.

"I am with my father," said the girl, looking at Rainey, enjoying the
situation.

"Where I go she goes," said Lund. And looked in turn at her with relish
in his double suggestion. He, too, was playing the game, gambling,
believing in his luck, reckless, now he had set the board.

They passed through the corridor. Lund opened up the strong-room, and
then the galley. It was orderly, and there was a moaning figure in
Tamada's bunk, a tossing figure with a head bound in a red bandanna
above the black face and neck that showed above the blankets. The eyes
were closed. The black hands, showing lighter palms, plucked at the
coverings.

"Delirious," said Lund. "Serves him right. He's a rotten cook."

"Have you all the medicines you need?" asked Ito. "I can send our
surgeon."

"I can manage," returned Rainey, _alias_ Carlsen. "It's enteric. I've
reduced the fever."

They passed on through the hunters' quarters. The girl fell behind with
Rainey.

"A good make-up and a good actor," she whispered. "I helped him to be
sure he covered everything that would show. It was my idea about the
bandanna. Just what a sick negro might wear, and it hid his straight
hair."

The lieutenant appeared fairly satisfied, but requested that Lund go on
board his ship. He stayed there until sundown, returning in hilarious
mood.

"We've slipped it over on 'em this time," he said. "I left 'em aswim
with _sake_, an' bubblin' over with polite regrets. But they'll be back
in three weeks, they said, if the ice is open. An', if the luck holds,
we'll be out of it. I don't want them searchin' the ship ag'in." He
slapped Tamada on the back as he came to serve supper after Sandy had
laid the table.

"A reg'lar vodeville skit," he exclaimed. "You're some actor, Tamada!
But why didn't you say the island was down on their charts? They've even
got a name for it. Hiyama."

"It means hot mountain," said Tamada. "The government names many
islands."

"You can bet yore life they do," said Lund. "They're smart, but they
overlooked that beach an' they've given us three weeks to cash in."

Lund himself had imbibed enough of the _sake_ to make him loose of
tongue, added to his elation at the success he had achieved. The gunboat
was gone on its patrol, and he had a free hand. He half filled a glass
with whisky. "Here's to luck," he cried. And spilled a part of the
liquor on the floor before he set the glass to his lips.

"Here's to you, Doc," he added. "An' to Peggy!" He rolled eyes that were
a trifle bloodshot at the girl.

"Our relations have gone back as usual, Mr. Lund," she said quietly.
Lund glared at her half truculently.

"I'm agreeable," he said. "As a daughter, I disown you from now on, Miss
Peggy. Here's to ye, jest the same!"



CHAPTER XVII

MY MATE


From the day following the arrival and departure of the Japanese
gunboat, they attacked the little U-shaped beach that lay between two
buttresses of the volcano and sloped sharply down to the sea. Twenty-one
men, a lad and a woman, they went at the despoiling of it with a sort of
obsession, led, rather than driven, by Lund, who worked among the rest
of them like a Hercules.

From the beginning the tongue of shingle promised to be almost
incredibly rich. Between these two spurs of mountain the tide had washed
and flung the rich, free-flaking gold of a submarine vein, piling it up
for unguessable years. Ebb tides had worked it in among the gravel,
floods had beaten it down; the deeper they went to bedrock, the richer
the pan.

The men's fancy estimate of a million dollars began speedily to seem
small as the work progressed, systematically stripping the rocky floor
of all its shingle, foot by foot, and cubic yard by cubic yard, cradling
it in crude rockers, fluming it, vaporizing the amalgam of gold and
mercury, and adding pound after pound of virgin gold to the sacks in the
schooner's strong-room.

They worked at first in alternating shifts of four hours, by day and
night, under the sun, the moon, the stars and the flaming aurora. The
crust was drilled here and there where it had frozen into conglomerate,
and exploded by dynamite, carefully placed so as not to dislodge the
masses of ice that overhung the schooner. Fires to thaw out the ground
were unavailable for sheer lack of fuel; there was no driftwood between
these forestless shores. What fuel could be spared was conserved for use
under the boilers that melted ice to provide water for the cradles and
flumes, and help to cook the meals that Tamada prepared out-of-doors for
the workers.

Buckets of coffee, stews, and thick soups of peas and lentils, masses of
beans with plenty of fat pork, these were what they craved after hours
of tremendous endeavor. Despite the cold, they sweated profusely at
their tasks, stripping off over-garments as they picked and shoveled or
crowbarred out the rich gravel.

Peggy Simms worked with the rest, assisting Tamada, helping to serve
with Sandy. Deming, and Beale, the man with the damaged ribs, were given
odd jobs that they could handle: feeding the fires, washing up, or
assisting at the little forge where the drills were sharpened.

Through all of it Lund was supreme as working superintendent. There was
no job that he could not, did not, handle better than any two of them,
and, though Rainey could see a shrinkage, or a compression, of his bulk
as day by day he called upon it for heroic service, he never seemed to
tire.

"Got to keep 'em at it," he would say in the cabin. "No time to lose,
an' the odds all against us, in a way. Barring Luck. That's what we got
to count on, but we don't want them thinkin' that. If the weather don't
break--an' break jest right--as soon as we've cleaned up, we're stung.
Though I'll blast a way out of this shore ice, if it comes to the worst.
I saved out some dynamite on purpose."

"We ought to have brought a steam-shovel along," said Rainey. He was
hard as iron, but he had served a tough apprenticeship to labor, and his
hands and nails, he fancied, would never get into shape again.

"Now you're talkin'," agreed Lund. "We c'ud have handled it in fine
shape an' left the machine behind as junk or a souvenir for our Jap
friends. We've got to cut out this four-hour shift. Too much time wasted
changin'. Too many meals. We'll make it one long, steady shift of all
hands long as we can stand up to it, an' all git reg'lar sleep. I'm
needin' some myself."

Rainey knew that neither he nor Hansen got within two-thirds as much
out of their shifts as when Lund was in command, though he had given
them the pick of the men. It was not that the men malingered, they
simply, neither of them, had the knack of keeping the work going at top
speed and top effectiveness.

But, with Lund handling all of them as a unit, it was not long before
the shovels began to scrape on the bare rock that underlay the gravel at
tide edge, and work swiftly back to the end of the U. The outdoors
kitchen had been established on top of the promontory between the
schooner and the beach, a primitive arrangement of big pots slung from
tripods over fires kindled on a flat area that was partly sheltered from
the sea and the prevailing winds by outcrops of weathered lava.

At dawn the men trooped from the schooner to be fed and warmed, and then
they flung themselves at their task. The more they got out the more
there was in it for them. But Lund was their overlord, their better, and
they knew it. Only Deming worked with one hand the handle of the forge
bellows, or fed the fires, and sneered.

Lund stood a full head above the tallest of them, which was Rainey, and
he was always in the thick of the work, directing, demanding the utmost,
and setting example to back command. His eyes had bothered him, and he
had made a pair of Arctic snow-glasses, mere circles of wood with slits
in them. But under these the sweat gathered, and he discarded them,
resorting to the primitive device of smearing soot all about his eyes.
This, he said, gave him relief, but it made him a weird sort of Caliban
in his labors.

On the fifteenth day, with the work better than half done, with more
than a ton of actual gold in colors, that ranged from flour dust to
nuggets, in the strong-room, the weather began to change. It misted
continually, and Lund, rejoicing, prophesied the breaking up of the cold
snap.

By the eighteenth day a regular Chinook was blowing, melting the sharper
outlines of the icy crags and pinnacles, and providing streams of
moisture that, in the nights now gradually growing longer, glazed every
yard of rock with peril.

The men worked in a muck with their rubber sea-boots worn out by
constant chafing, sweaters torn, the blades of their shovels reduced by
the work demanded of them, the drills, shortened by steady sharpening,
gone like the spare flesh of the laborers, who, at last, began to show
signs of quicker and quicker exhaustion with occasional mutterings of
discontent, while Lund, intent only upon cleaning off the rock as a
dentist cleans a crumbling tooth, coaxed and cursed, blamed and praised
and bullied, and did the actual work of three of them.

Dead with fatigue, filled with food, drowsy from the liberal grog
allowance at the end of the day, the men slept in a torpor every night
and showed less and less inclination to respond, though the end of their
labors was almost in sight.

"What's the use, we got enough," was the comment beginning to be heard
more and more frequently. "Lund, he's got more'n he can spend in a
lifetime!"

Rainey could not trace these mutterings to Deming's instigation, but he
suspected the hunter. There was no poker; all hands were too tired for
play.

The ice in which the schooner was packed began to show signs of
disintegration. The surface rotted by day and froze again by night and
this destroyed its compactness. If the sun's arc above the horizon had
been longer, its rays more vertical, the ice must infallibly have melted
and freed the _Karluk_, for it was salt-water ice, and there were times
when the thermometer stayed above its freezing point for two or three
hours around noon.

Lund gave the holding floe scant attention. So long as the present
weather kept up he declared that he could dynamite his way out inside of
four hours.

The effect of all this on Rainey was a bit bewildering. He was judging
life by new standards far apart from his own modes and, though he, too,
worked with a will, and rejoiced in the freer effort of his muscles, the
result comparing favorably with the best of the others--save Lund--he
could not assimilate the general conditions.

They were too purely physical, he told himself; he missed his old
habits, the reading and discussion of books, new and old, the good
restaurants of San Francisco, and the chat he had been used to hold over
their tables, companionable, witty, the exchange and stimulation of
ideas.

He missed the theaters, the concerts, the passing show of well-dressed
women, a hodge-podge of flesh-pots and mental uplift. He got to dreaming
of these things nights.

Daytimes, he saw plainly that, in this environment at least, Lund was
big, and the rest of them comparatively small. He believed that Lund
could actually form a little kingdom of his own, as he had suggested,
and make a success of it. But it would not be a kingdom that fostered
the arts. It would cultivate the sciences, or at least encourage them
and adopt results as applied to land development, and, if necessary, the
defense of the kingdom.

Lund would be a figure in war and peace, peace of the practical sort,
the kind of peace that went with plenty. He was no dreamer, but a
utilitarian. Perhaps, after all, the world most needed such men just
now.

As for Peggy Simms, she did not lose the polish of her culture, she was
always feminine, even dainty at times, despite her work, that could not
help but be coarse to a certain extent. She was full of vigor, she
showed unexpected strength, she was a source of encouragement to the men
as she waited on them. And also a source of undisguised admiration, all
of which she shed as a duck sheds water. She was filled with abounding
health, she moved with a free grace that held the eye and lingered in
the mind. She was eminently a woman, and she also was big.

Rainey gained an increasing respect in her prowess, and a swift
conversion to the equality of the sexes. There were times when he
doubted his own equality. Had she met him on his own ground, in his own
realm of what he considered vaguely as culture, he would have known a
mastery that he now lacked. As it was, she averaged higher, and she had
an attraction of sex that was compelling.

Here was a girl who would demand certain standards in the man with whom
she would mate, not merely accompany through life. There were times when
Rainey felt irresistibly the charm of her as a woman, longed for her in
the powerful sex reactions that inevitably follow hard labor. There were
times when he felt that she did not consider that he measured up to her
gages, and he would strive to change the atmosphere, to dominate the
situation in which Lund was the greater figure of the two men.

The rivalry that Lund had suggested between them as regards the girl,
Rainey felt almost thrust upon him. There were moods which Peggy Simms
turned to him for sharing, but there was scant time in the waking hours
for love-making, or even its consideration.

Lund was centered on one achievement, the gold harvest. He ordered the
girl with the rest; there were even times when he reprimanded her, while
Rainey burned with the resentment she apparently did not share.

A little before dawn on the eighteenth day of the work upon the beach,
Lund was out upon the floe examining the condition of the ice. He had
declared that two days more of hard endeavor would complete their
labors. What dirt remained at the end of that time they would transship.
Rainey had joined the girl and Tamada at the cook fires.

The sky was bright with the aurora borealis that would pale before the
sun. The men were not yet out of their bunks. They were bone and muscle
tired, and Rainey doubted whether Lund, gaunt and lean himself, could
get two days of top work out of them. Near the fires for the cooking,
the melting of water and the forge, that were kept glowing all night,
the tools were stacked, to help preserve their temper.

The aurora quivered in varying incandescence as Rainey watched Lund
prodding at the floe ice with a steel bar. The girl was busy with the
coffee, and Tamada was compounding two pots of stew and bubbling peas
pudding for the breakfast, food for heat and muscle making.

Sandy appeared on deck and came swiftly over the side of the vessel and
up the worn trail to the fires. He showed excitement, Rainey fancied,
sure of it as the lad got within speaking distance.

"Where is Mr. Lund?" he panted.

Rainey pointed to Lund, now examining a crack that had opened up in the
floe, a possible line of exit for the _Karluk_, later on. The men were
beginning to show on the schooner. They, too, he noted somewhat idly,
acted differently this morning. Usually they were sluggish until they
had eaten, sleepy and indifferent until the coffee stimulated them, and
Lund took up this stimulus and fanned it to a flame of work. This
morning they walked differently, abnormally active.

"They're drunk, an' they're goin' on strike," said Sandy. "You know the
big demijohn in the lazaretto?"

Rainey nodded. It was a two-handled affair holding five gallons, a
reserve supply of strong rum from which Lund dispensed the grog
allowances and stimulations for extra work toward the end of the shift,
the night-caps and occasional rewards.

"They've swiped it," he said. "Put an empty one from the hold in its
place. We got plenty without usin' that one for a while, an' I only
happened to notice it this morning by chance. They've bin drinkin' all
night, I reckon. They're ugly, Mr. Rainey. It's the crew this time. They
got the booze. The hunters are sober. Deming ain't in on this. They did
it on their own. I don't know how they got it. I didn't get it for 'em,
sir. They must have worked plumb through the hold an' got to it that
way."

"All right, Sandy. Thanks. Mr. Lund can handle them, I guess. He's
coming now."

The men had got to the ice, hidden from Lund, who was walking to the
_Karluk_ on the opposite side of the vessel. The seamen were
gesticulating freely; the sound of their voices came up to him where he
stood, tinged with a new freedom of speech, rough, confident, menacing.
As they climbed the trail their legs betrayed them and confirmed the
boy's story. Behind them came the four hunters, with Hansen, walking
apart, watching the sailors with a certain gravity that communicated
itself despite the distance.

Lund showed at the far rail of the schooner with his bar. He glanced
toward the men going to work, went below, and came up with a sweater. He
had left the bar behind him in the cabin, where it was used for a stove
poker.

The men filed by Rainey, their faces flushed and their eyes unusually
bright. They seemed to share a prime joke that wanted to bubble up and
over, yet held a restraint upon themselves that was eased by digs in one
another's ribs, in laughs when one stumbled or hiccoughed.

But Hansen was stolid as ever, and the hunters had evidently not shared
the stolen liquor. Only Deming's eyes roved over the group of men as
they gathered round for their cups and pannikins of food. He seemed to
be calculating what advantage he could gain out of this unexpected
happening.

Peggy Simms, under cover of pouring the coffee, sweetened heavily with
condensed milk, found time to speak to Rainey.

"They're all drunk," she said.

"Not all of them. Here comes Lund. He'll handle it."

Lund seemed still pondering the problem of the floe. At first he did not
notice the condition of the sailors. Then he apparently ignored it. But,
after they had eaten, he talked to all the men.

"Two more days of it, lads, and we're through. The beach is nigh
cleared. We can git out of the floe to blue water easy enough, an' we'll
git a good start on the patrol-ship. We'll go back with full pockets an'
heavy ones. The shares'll be half as large again as we've figgered. I
wouldn't wonder if they averaged sixteen or seventeen thousand dollars
apiece."

Rainey had picked out a black-bearded Finn as the leader of the sailors
in their debauch. The liquor seemed to have unchained in him a spirit of
revolt that bordered on insolence. He stood with his bowed legs apart,
mittened hands on hips, staring at Lund with a covert grin.

Next to Lund he was the biggest man aboard. With the rum giving an
unusual coordination to his usually sluggish nervous system, he promised
to be a source of trouble.

Rainey was surprised to see him shrug his shoulders and lead the way to
the beach. Perhaps breakfast had sobered them, though the fumes of
liquor still clung cloudily on the air.

Lund went down, with Rainey beside him, reporting Sandy.

"I'll work it out of 'em," said Lund. "That booze'll be an expensive
luxury to 'em, paid for in hard labor."

They found the men ranged up in three groups. Deming and Beale, against
custom, had gone down to the beach. They were supposed to help clean the
food utensils, and aid Tamada after a meal, besides replenishing the
fires.

They stood a little away from the hunters and Hansen and the sailors.
The Finn, talking to his comrades in a low growl, was with a separate
group.

There was an air of defiance manifest, a feeling of suspense in the tiny
valley, backed by the frowning cone, ribbed by the two icy promontories.
Lund surveyed them sharply.

"What in hell's the matter with you?" he barked. "Hansen, send up a man
for the drills an' shovels. Yore work's laid out; hop to it!"

"We ain't goin' to work no more," said the Finn aggressively. "Not fo'
no sich wage like you give."

"Oh, you ain't, ain't you?" mocked Lund. He was standing with Rainey in
the middle of the space they had cleared of gravel, the seamen lower
down the beach, nearer the sea, their ranks compacted. "Why, you
booze-bitten, lousy hunky, what in hell do you want? You never saw
twenty dollars in a lump you c'u'd call yore own for more'n ten minnits.
You boardin'-house loafer an' the rest of you scum o' the seven seas,
git yore shovels an' git to diggin', or I'll put you ashore in San
Francisco flat broke, an' glad to leave the ship, at that. _Jump!_"

The Finn snarled, and the rest stood firm. Not one of them knew the real
value of their promised share. Money represented only counters exchanged
for lodging, food and drink enough to make them sodden before they had
spent even their usual wages. Then they would wake to find the rest
gone, and throw themselves upon the selfish bounty of a boarding-house
keeper.

But they had seen the gold, they had handled it, and they were inflamed
by a sense of what it ought to do for them. Perhaps half of them could
not add a simple sum, could not grasp figures beyond a thousand, at
most. And the sight of so much gold had made it, in a manner, cheap. It
was there, a heap of it, and they wanted more of that shining heap than
had been promised them.

"You talk big," said the Finn. "Look my hands." He showed palms
calloused, split, swollen lumps of chilblained flesh worn down and
stiffened. "I bin seaman, not goddam navvy."

Lund turned to the hunters.

"You in on this?" he asked. Deming and Beale moved off. Two of the
others joined them. "Neutral?" sneered Lund. "I'll remember that."
Hansen and the two remaining came over beside Lund and Rainey.

"Five of us," said Lund. "Five men against twelve fo'c'sle rats. I'll
give you two minnits to start work."

"You talk big with yore gun in pocket," said the Finn. "Me good man as
you enny day."

Lund's face turned dark with a burst of rage that exploded in voice and
action.

"You think I need my gun, do ye, you pack of rats? Then try it on
without it."

His hand slid to his holster inside his heavy coat. His arm swung, there
was a streak of gleaming metal in the lifting sun-rays, flying over the
heads of the seamen. It plunked in the free water beyond the ice.

"Come on," roared Lund, "or I'll rush you to the first bath you've had
in five years." The Finn lowered his head, and charged; the rest
followed their leader. The hot food had steadied their motive control to
a certain extent, they were firmer on their feet, less vague of eye, but
the crude alcohol still fumed in their brains. Without it they would
never have answered the Finn's call to rebellion.

He had promised, and their drunken minds believed, that refusing in a
mass to work would automatically halt things until they got their
"rights." They had not expected an open fight. The spur of alcohol had
thrust them over the edge, given them a swifter flow of their
impoverished blood, a temporary confidence in their own prowess, a mock
valor that answered Lund's contemptuous challenge.

Lund, thought Rainey, had done a foolhardy thing in tossing away his
gun. It was magnificent, but it was not war. Pure bravado! But he had
scant time for thinking. Lund tossed him a scrap of advice. "Keep
movin'! Don't let 'em crowd you!" Then the fight was joined.

The girl leaned out from the promontory to watch the tourney. Tamada,
impassive as ever, tended his fires. Sandy crept down to the beach,
drawn despite his will, and shuffled in and out, irresolute, too weak to
attempt to mix in, but excited, eager to help. Deming, Beale, and the
two neutral hunters, stood to one side, waiting, perhaps, to see which
way the fight went, reserves for the apparent victor.

The Finn, best and biggest of the sailors, rushed for Lund, his little
eyes red with rage, crazy with the desire to make good his boast that he
was as good as Lund. In his barbaric way he was somewhat of a dancer,
and his legs were as lissome as his arms. He leaped, striking with fists
and feet.

Lund met him with a fierce upper-cut, short-traveled, sent from the hip.
His enormous hand, bunched to a knuckly lump of stone, knocked the Finn
over, lifting him, before he fell with his nose driven in, its bone
shattered, his lips broken like overripe fruit, and his discolored teeth
knocked out.

He landed on his back, rolling over and over, to lie still, half
stunned, while two more sprang for Lund.

Lund roared with surprise and pain as one caught his red beard and swung
to it, smiting and kicking. He wrapped his left arm about the man,
crushing him close up to him, and, as the other came, diving low,
butting at his solar plexus, the giant gripped him by the collar, using
his own impetus, and brought the two skulls together with a thud that
left them stunned.

The two dropped from Lund's relaxed arms like sacks, and he stepped over
them, alert, poised on the balls of his feet, letting out a shout of
triumph, while he looked about him for his next adversary.

The bedrock on which they fought was slippery where ice had formed in
the crevices. Two seamen tackled Hansen. He stopped the curses of one
with a straight punch to his mouth, but the man clung to his arm,
bearing it down. Hansen swung at the other, and the blow went over the
shoulder as he dodged, but Hansen got him in chancery, and the three,
staggering, swearing, sliding, went down at last together, with Hansen
underneath, twisting one's neck to shut off his wind while he warded off
the wild blows of the second. With a wild heave he got on all-fours,
and then Lund, roaring like a bull as he came, tore off a seaman and
flung him headlong.

"Pound him, Hansen!" he shouted, his eyes hard with purpose, shining
like ice that reflects the sun, his nostrils wide, glorying in the
fight.

The Finn had got himself together a bit, wiping the gouts of blood from
his face and spitting out the snags of his broken teeth. He drew a knife
from inside his shirt, a long, curving blade, and sidled, like a crab,
toward Lund, murder in his piggy, bloodshot eyes, waiting for a chance
to slip in and stab Lund in the back, calling to a comrade to help him.

"Come on," he called, "Olsen, wit' yore knife. Gut the swine!"

Another blade flashed out, and the pair advanced, crouching, knees and
bodies bent. Lund backed warily toward the opposite cliff, looking for a
loose rock fragment. He had forbidden knives to the sailors since the
mutiny, and had forced a delivery, but these two had been hidden. A
knife to the Finn was a natural accessory. Only his drunken frenzy had
made him try to beat Lund at his own game.

One of the two hunters, lamed with a kick on the knee, howling with the
pain, clinched savagely and bore the seaman down, battering his head
against a knob of rock. The other friendly hunter had bashed and
buffeted his opponent to submission. But Rainey was in hard case.

A seaman, half Mexican, flew at him like a wildcat. Rainey struck out,
and his fists hit at the top of the breed's head without stopping him.
Then he clinched.

The Mexican was slippery as an eel. He got his arms free, his hands shot
up, and his thumbs sought the inner corners of Rainey's eyes. The
sudden, burning anguish was maddening and he drove his clasped fists
upward, wedging away the drilling fingers.

Two hands clawed at his shoulders from behind. Some one sprang fairly on
his back. A knee thrust against his spine.

The agony left him helpless, the vertebræ seemed about to crack.
Strength and will were shut off, and the world went black. And then one
of the hunters catapulted into the struggle, and the four of them went
down in a maddened frenzy of blows and stifled shouts.

The sailors fought like beasts, striving for blows barred by all codes
of decency and fair play, intent to maim. Lund had got his shoulders
against the rocks and stood with open hands, watching the two with their
knives, who crept in, foot by foot, to make a finish.

Peggy Simms, a strand of her pale yellow hair whipped loose, flung it
out of her eyes as she stood on the edge of the cliff, her lips apart,
her breasts rising stormily, watching; her features changing with the
tide of battle as it surged beneath her, punctuated with muffled shouts
and wind-clipped oaths. She saw Lund at bay, and snatched out her
pistol. But the distance was too great. She dared not trust her aim.

Sandy, dancing in and out, willing but helpless, bound by fear and lack
of muscle, saw Deming, followed by Beale, stealing up the trail,
unnoticed by the girl, who leaned far forward, watching the fight, her
eyes on Lund and the two creeping closer with their knives, cautious but
determined. Tamada stood farther back and could not see them.

The lad's wits, sharpened by his forecastle experience, surmised what
Deming and Beale were after as they gained the promontory flat and ran
toward the fires.

"Hey!" he shrilled. "Look out; they're after the tools!"

Deming's hand was stretched toward a shovel, its worn steel scoop sharp
as a chisel. Beale was a few feet behind him. They were going to toss
the shovels and drills down to the seamen.

Tamada turned. His face did not change, but his eyes gleamed as he
thrust a dipper in the steaming remnants of the pea-soup and flung the
thick blistering mass fair in Deming's face. At the same moment the
girl's pistol cracked with a stab of red flame. Beale dropped, shot in
the neck, close to the collarbone, twisting like a scotched snake,
rolling down the trail to the beach again.

Deming, howling like a scorched devil, clawed with one hand at the
sticky mass that masked him as he ran blind, wild with pain. He tripped,
clutched, and lost his hold, slid on a plane of icy lava, smooth as
glass, struck a buttress that sent him off at a tangent down the face of
the cliff, bounding from impact with an outthrust elbow of the rock,
whirling into space, into the icy turmoil of the waves, flooding into
the inlet.

Peggy Simms fled down the trail with a steel drill in either hand,
straight across the beach toward Lund. The Finn turned on her with a
snarl and a side-swipe of his knife, but she leaped aside, dodged the
other slow-foot, and thrust a drill at Lund, who grasped it with a cry
of exultation, swinging it over his head as if it had been a bamboo.
Hansen had shaken off his men, and came leaping in for the second drill.

The knife fell tinkling on the frozen rock as Lund smashed the wrist of
the Finn. The girl's gun made the second would-be stabber throw up his
hands while Hansen snatched his weapon, flung it over the farther cliff,
and knocked the seaman to the ground before he joined Lund, charging the
rest, who fled before the sight of them and the threat of the bars of
steel.

Lund laughed loud, and stopped striking, using the drill as a goad,
driving them into a huddled horde, like leaderless sheep, knee-deep,
thigh-deep, into the water, where they stopped and begged for mercy
while Hansen turned to put a finish to the separate struggles.

It ended as swiftly as it had begun. One hunter could barely stand for
his kicked knee, Rainey's back was strained and stiffening, Lund had
lost a handful of his beard, and Hansen's cheek was laid open.

On the other side the casualties were more severe. Deming was drowned,
his body flung up by the tide, rolling in the swash. Beale was coughing
blood, though not dangerously wounded. The Finn was crying over his
broken wrist, all the fight out of him. Ribs were sore where not
splintered from the drills, and the two bumped by Lund sat up with
sorely aching heads. The courage inspired by the liquor was all gone;
oozed, beaten out of them. They were cowed, demoralized, whipped.

Lund took swift inventory, lining them up as they came timorously out of
the water or straggled against the cliff at his order. Tamada had come
down from the fires. Peggy had told of his share, and Sandy's timely
shout. Lund nodded at him in a friendly manner.

"You're a white man, Tamada," he said. "You, too, Sandy. I'll not forget
it. Rainey, round up these derelicts an' help Tamada fix 'em up. I'll
settle with 'em later. Hansen, put the rest of 'em to work, an' keep 'em
to it! Do you hear? They got to do the work of the whole bunch."

They went willingly enough, limping, nursing their bruises, while
Hansen, his stolidity momentarily vanished in the rush of the fight and
not yet regained, exhibited an unusual vocabulary as he bossed them.
Lund turned to the two hunters, who had stood apart.

"Wal, you yellow-bellied neutrals," he said, his voice cold and his eyes
hard. "Thought I might lose, and hoped so, didn't you? Pick up that
skunk Beale an' tote him aboard. Then come back an' go to work. You'll
git yore shares, but you'll not git what's comin' to those who stood by.
Now git out of my sight. You can bury That when you come back." He
nodded at the sodden corpse of Deming, flung up on the grit. "You can
take yore pay as grave-diggers out of what you owe him at poker. He
ain't goin' to collect this trip."

Rainey, lame and sore, helped Tamada patch up the wounded, turning the
hunters' quarters into a sick bay, using the table for operation. Beale
was the worst off, but Tamada pronounced him not vitally damaged. After
he had finished with them he insisted upon Rainey's lying, face down, on
the table, stripped to the waist, while he rubbed him with oil and then
kneaded him. Once he gave a sudden, twisting wrench, and Rainey saw a
blur of stars as something snapped into place with a click.

"I think you soon all right, now," said Tamada.

"You and Miss Simms turned the tide," said Rainey. "If they'd got those
tools first they'd have finished us in short order."

"Fools!" said Tamada. "Suppose they kill Lund, how they get away? No one
to navigate. Presently the gunboat would find them. I think Mr. Lund
will maybe trust me now," he said quietly.

"What do you mean?"

"Mr. Lund think in the back of his head I arrange for that gunboat to
come. He can not understand how they know the schooner at island. He
think to come jus' this time too much curious, I think."

"It was a bit of a coincidence."

Tamada shrugged his shoulders slightly.

"I think Japanese government know all that goes on in North Polar
region," he said. "There is wireless station on Wrangell Island. We pass
by that pretty close."

Rainey chewed that information as he put on his clothes, wondering if
they had seen the last of the gunboat. They would have to pass south
through Bering Strait. It would be easy to overhaul them, halt them,
search the schooner, confiscate the gold. They were not out of trouble
yet.

When he went into the cabin to replace his torn coat--he had hardly a
button intact above the waist, from jacket to undershirt--he found the
girl there with Lund. Apparently, they had just come in. Peggy Simms,
with face aglow with the excitement that had not subsided, was
proffering Lund her pistol.

"Keep it," he said. "You may need it. I've got mine."

"But you threw it into the water. I saw you."

"No," He laughed. "That wasn't my gun. They thought it was. I wanted
to bring the thing to grips. But I wasn't fool enough to chuck away my
gun. That was a wrench I was usin' this mornin' to fix the cabin
stove--looks jest like an ottermatic. I stuck it in my inside pocket. I
was ha'f a mind to shoot when they showed their knives, but I didn't
want to use my gun on that mess of hash."

He stood tall and broad above her, looking down at the face that was
raised to his. Rainey, unnoticed as yet, saw her eyes bright with
admiration.

"You are a wonderful fighter," she said softly.

"Wonderful? What about you? A man's woman! You saved the day. Comin' to
me with them drills. An' we licked 'em. We. God!"

He swept her up into his arms, lifting her in his big hands, making no
more of her than if she had been a feather pillow, up till her face was
on a level with his, pressing her close, while in swift, indignant rage
she fought back at him, striking futilely while he held her, kissed her,
and set her down as Rainey sprang forward.

Lund seemed utterly unconscious of the girl's revulsion.

"Comin' to me with the drills!" he said. "We licked 'em. You an' me
together. My woman!"

Peggy Simms had leaped back, her eyes blazing. Lund came for her, his
face lit with the desire of her, arms outspread, hands open. Before
Rainey could fling himself between them, the girl had snatched the
little pistol that Lund had set on the table and fired point-blank. She
seemed to have missed, though Lund halted, his mouth agape, astounded.

"You big bully!" said Rainey. Now that the time had come he found that
he was not afraid of Lund, of his gun, of his strength. "Play fair, do
you? Then show it! You asked me once why I didn't make love to her. I
told you. But you, you foul-minded bully! All you think of is your big
body, to take what it wants.

"Peggy. Will you marry me? I can protect you from this hulking brute. If
it's to be a show-down between you and me," he flared at Lund, still
gazing as if stupefied, "let it come now. Peggy?"

The girl, tears on her cheeks that were born from the sobs of anger that
had shaken her, swung on him.

"You?" she said, and Rainey wilted under the scorn in her voice. "Marry
you?" She began to laugh hysterically, trying to check herself.

"I didn't mean you enny harm," said Lund slowly, addressing Peggy. "Why,
I wouldn't harm you, gal. You're my woman. You come to me. I was
jest--jest sorter swept off my bearin's. Why," he turned to Rainey, his
voice down-pitching to a growl of angry contempt, "you pen-shovin'
whippersnapper, I c'ud break you in ha'f with one hand. You ain't her
breed. But"--his voice changed again--"if it's a show-down, all right.

"If I was to fight you, over her, I'd kill you. D'ye think I don't
respect a good gal? D'ye think I don't know how to love a gal right?
She's _my_ mate. Not yours. But it's up to you, Peggy Simms. I didn't
mean to insult you. An' if you want him--why, it's up to you to choose
between the two of us."

She went by Rainey as if he had not existed, straight into Lund's arms,
her face radiant, upturned.

"It's you I love, Jim Lund," she said. "A man. _My_ man."

As her arms went round his neck she gave a little cry.

"I wounded you," she said, and the tender concern of her struck Rainey
to the quick. "Quick, let me see."

"Wounded, hell!" laughed Lund. "D'ye think that popgun of yores c'ud
stop me? The pellet's somewheres in my shoulder. Let it bide. By God,
yo're my woman, after all. Lund's Luck!"

Rainey went up on deck with that ringing in his ears. His humiliation
wore off swiftly as he crossed back toward the beach. By the time he
crossed the promontory he even felt relieved at the outcome. He was not
in love with her. He had known that when he intervened. He had not even
told her so. His chivalry had spoken--not his heart. And his thoughts
strayed back to California. The other girl, Diana though she was, would
never, in almost one breath, have shot and kissed the man she loved. A
lingering vision of Peggy Simms' beauty as she had gone to Lund remained
and faded.

"Lund's right," he told himself. "She's not of my breed."



CHAPTER XVIII

LUND'S LUCK


Lund glanced at the geyser of spray where the shell from the pursuing
gunboat had fallen short, and then at the bank of mist ahead. They were
in the narrows of Bering Strait, between the Cape of Charles and Prince
Edward's Point, the gold aboard, a full wind in their sails, making
eleven knots to the gunboat's fifteen.

It was mid-afternoon, three hours since they had seen smoke to the north
and astern of them. Either the patrol had found them gone from the
island, freed by blasting from the floe, and followed on the trail full
speed, or the wireless from some Japanese station on the Tchukchis coast
had told of their homing flight.

The great curtain of fog was a mile ahead. The last shell had fallen two
hundred yards short. Five minutes more would settle it. Hansen had the
wheel. Lund stood by the taffrail, his arm about Peggy Simms. He shook a
fist at the gunboat, vomiting black smoke from her funnel, foam about
her bows.

"We'll beat 'em yet," he cried.

The next shell, with more elevation, whined parallel with them, sped
ahead, and smashed into the waves.

"Hold yore course, Hansen! No time to zigzag. Got to chance it. Damn it,
they know how to shoot!"

A missile had gone plump through main and foresails, leaving round holes
to mark the score. Another fairly struck the main topmast, and some
splinters came rattling down, while the remnants of the top-sail flapped
amid writhing ends of halyard and sheet.

They entered the beginning of the fog, curling wisps of it reached out,
twining over the bowsprint and headsails, enveloping the foremast,
swallowing the schooner as a hurtling shell crashed into the stern. The
next instant the mist had sheltered them. Lund released the girl and
jumped to the wheel.

"Now then," he shouted, "we'll fool 'em!" He gripped the spokes, and the
men ran to the sheets at command while the _Karluk_ shot off at right
angles to her previous course, skirting the fog that blanketed the wind
but yet allowed sufficient breeze to filter through to give them
headway, gliding like a ghost on the new tack to the east.

Rainey, tense from the explosion of the shell, jumped below at last and
came back exultant.

"It was a dud, Lund!" he shouted. "Or else they didn't want to blow us
up on account of the gold. But they've wrecked the cabin. The fog's
coming in through the hole they made. Tamada's galley's gone. It's raked
the schooner!"

"So long's it's above the water line, to hell with it! We'll make out.
Listen to the fools. They've gone in after us, straight on."

The booming of the gunboat's forward battery sounded aft of them,
dulled by the fog--growing fainter.

"Lund's luck! We've dodged 'em!"

"They'll be waiting for us at the passes," said Rainey. "They've got the
speed on us."

"Let 'em wait. To blazes with the Aleutians! Ready again there for a
tack! Sou'-east now. We'll work through this till we git to the wind
ag'in. It's all blue water to the Seward Peninsula. We're bound for
Nome."

"For Nome?" asked Peggy Simms.

"Nome, Peggy! An American port. The nearest harbor. An' the nearest
preacher!"


THE END





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Man to His Mate" ***

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

We also ask that you:

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

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

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

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



Home