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Title: Doubloons—and the Girl
Author: Forbes, John Maxwell
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 "Doubloons—and the Girl" ***

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DOUBLOONS--AND THE GIRL



BY

JOHN MAXWELL FORBES



INTERNATIONAL FICTION LIBRARY

CLEVELAND, O. ------  NEW YORK, N. Y.

MADE IN U. S. A.



Copyright, 1917, by

SULLY AND KLEINTEICH


All rights reserved



PRESS  OF

THE COMMERCIAL BOOKBINDING CO.

CLEVELAND



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

      I.  ON THE BLIND SIDE OF CHANCE
     II.  TYKE GRIMSHAW AND HIS AFFAIRS
    III.  HARD HIT
     IV.  THE SHADOW OF ROMANCE
      V.  A SETBACK
     VI.  THE BROKEN CHEST
    VII.  A MYSTERIOUS DOCUMENT
   VIII.  THE SCOURGES OF THE SEA
     IX.  GETTING DOWN TO "BRASS TACKS"
      X.  CAPRICIOUS FORTUNE
     XI.  A DREAM REALIZED
    XII.  A SATISFACTORY OUTLOOK
   XIII.  STORM SIGNALS
    XIV.  BEGINNING THE VOYAGE
     XV.  THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER
    XVI.  GATHERING CLOUDS
   XVII.  THE STORM BREAKS
  XVIII.  A SEA COURT
    XIX.  FOREBODINGS
     XX.  THE EARTH TREMBLES
    XXI.  "IF I WAS SUPERSTITIOUS----"
   XXII.  BURIED ALIVE
  XXIII.  A DESPERATE SITUATION
   XXIV.  THE ALARM
    XXV.  THE LAKE OF FIRE
   XXVI.  HOPE DEFERRED
  XXVII.  THE GIANT AWAKES
 XXVIII.  BY FAVOR OF THE EARTHQUAKE
   XXIX.  MUTINY
    XXX.  THE FLAG OF TRUCE
   XXXI.  A DARING VENTURE
  XXXII.  THE BATTLE IN THE FORECASTLE
 XXXIII.  THE GHOST
  XXXIV.  THE BATTLE IS ON
   XXXV.  THE SURRENDER--CONCLUSION



DOUBLOONS--AND THE GIRL


CHAPTER I

ON THE BLIND SIDE OF CHANCE

Allen Drew, glancing carelessly about as he started for the shore-end
of the pier, suddenly saw the girl coming in his direction.  From that
moment--dating from the shock of that first glimpse of her--the current
of his life was changed.

Women were rare enough down here on the East River docks; one of the
type of this gloriously beautiful girl seemed an impossibility--an
hallucination.  Curiosity was not even blended with his second glance
at her.  An emotion never before conceived in his heart and brain
gripped him.

Somehow she fitted the day and fitted, too, his mood.  The very spirit
of April seemed incarnated in her, so springy her step, so lissom the
swaying of her young body, so warm and pink the color in her cheeks.
Her dress, of some light gray material, had a dash of color lent to it
by the bunch of violets at her waist.  Her figure was slender and
slightly above the middle height.  A distracting dimple dented the
velvet of her right cheek, and above her small mouth and perfectly
formed nose a pair of hazel eyes looked frankly out upon the world.
Her oval face was surmounted by a dainty toque, from under which a
vagrant tendril of hair had escaped.  This blew about her ears,
glistening like gold in the sunshine.

Drew saw beautiful women every day of his life.  He could not fail to
do so in a city where they abound.  But aside from the day and his
mood, there was much about this slip of a girl that stirred him
mightily and set his pulse to galloping.

He had lunched heartily, if not sumptuously, at one of the queer little
restaurants that seem to have struck their roots into Fulton Market and
endured for generations.  There were no shaded candles on the table,
and finger bowls would have evoked a puzzled stare or a frown from most
patrons of the place.  But the food was abundant and well cooked, and
at twenty-two, with a keen appetite and the digestion of an ostrich,
one asks for little more.

Drew paid his check and stepped out into the crooked side street that
led to the East River, only a block distant.  From force of habit, his
steps turned in the direction of the chandlery shop where he was
employed.  On reaching South Street, he remembered a commission that
had been given him to execute; so, turning to the right, he walked
briskly toward the Battery.

It was a glorious day in early April.  A sudden shower, vanishing
almost as quickly as it had come, had washed the rough pavement of the
old street to a semblance of cleanliness.  In a very real sense it had
also washed the air until it shimmered with the translucence of a
pearl.  A soft wind blew up from the south and the streets were
drenched with sunshine.

It was a day that might have prompted a hermit to leave his cave, a
philosopher to renounce his books, a miser to give a penny to a beggar.
It spoke of youth and love and growing things, of nest building in the
trees, of water rippling over stones, of buds bursting into bloom, of
grass blades pushing through the soil.

Yet, despite this--or perhaps because of it--Allen Drew was conscious
of a vague restlessness.  A feeling of discontent haunted him and
robbed the day of beauty.  Something was lacking, and he had a sense of
incompleteness that was quite at variance with his usual complacent
outlook on life.  He was not given to minute self-analysis, but as this
feeling persisted and bothered him, he began harking back to the events
of the morning in the hope of finding an explanation.  Was there
anything he had done that was wrong or anything that he had neglected
to do that came in his province?  He cudgeled his brains, but thought
of nothing that should give him uneasiness.

He had corrected that imperfect invoice and sent it on to White &
Tenny.  He had reminded his employer that their stock of compasses was
low and should be replenished.  He had directed young Winters to answer
that cablegram from Kingston.  Try as he would, he could think of no
omission.  The books were strictly up to date and everything was moving
in the usual routine.

Ah, there he had it!  Routine!  That was the key to the enigma.  It was
just that unvarying smooth routine, that endless grinding away at the
same familiar things that to-day, when everything about him spoke of
change and growth and freedom, was making him restless and perturbed.
He was just a cog in the ever-turning wheel.  He was a slave to his
desk, and not the less a slave because his chains happened to be
invisible.

"It won't do," he murmured to himself.  "I've got to have a
change--some excitement--something!"

With the springtime fermenting in his blood and stirring him to
rebellion, he went on, turning out now and then to avoid the trucks
that, with a cheerful disregard for police regulations, backed up on
the sidewalks to receive their loads from the warehouse doors, until he
reached Wall Street.  Just beyond was Jones Lane, whose sylvan name
seemed strangely out of place in the whirl and hubbub of that crowded
district.  Here he turned, and, picking his way across the muddy
street, went out on the uncovered pier that stretched for five hundred
feet into the river.

The pier was buzzing with activity.  Bales and boxes and barrels by the
thousands were scattered about in what seemed to be the wildest
confusion.  Gangs of sweating stevedores trundled their heavy burdens
over the gangplanks of the vessels that lay on either side, and great
cranes and derricks, their giant claws seizing tons of merchandise at a
time, swung creakingly overhead to disgorge their loads into yawning
hatchways.

Drew threaded his way through the tangled maze until he reached the end
of the pier where the bark _Normandy_ was lying.

"Captain Peters around anywhere?" he asked of the second officer, who
was superintending the work of the seamen, and had just relieved
himself of some remarks that would have made a truck driver envious.

"Below in his cabin, sir," was the answer, and Drew went aboard, walked
aft, and swung himself down the narrow stairs that led to the captain's
quarters.

He found the skipper sitting at his table, looking over a sheaf of
bills of lading.

"Good afternoon, Captain Peters," was Drew's greeting.

"Howdy," responded the captain.  "Jest sit down an' make yerself
comf'table.  I'll be through with these papers in jest a minute or two."

His work concluded, the captain shoved the bills aside with a sigh of
relief and looked up.

"I s'pose ye come to see me about that windlass?" he remarked.  "But
first," he added, as Drew was about to reply, "won't ye have somethin'
to wet yer whistle?"

He reached for a decanter and a couple of glasses.  Drew smilingly
declined, and the captain, nothing daunted, poured out enough for two
and drank it in a single Gargantuan swallow.

"I just came to say," explained Drew, as the captain set down the
glass, smacking his lips complacently, "that we'll have that windlass
over to you by to-morrow, or the next day at the latest.  The factory
held us up."

"That's all right," replied the captain good-naturedly.  "I haven't
been worryin' about it.  I've been dealin' with Tyke Grimshaw goin' on
twenty year an 'he ain't never put me in a hole yet.  I knew it would
come along in plenty of time fur sailin'."

"By the way, when do you sail, Captain?" asked Drew.

"In a week, more or less.  It all depends on how soon we get our cargo
stowed."

"What are you carrying?"

"Mostly machinery an' cotton prints fur China and Japan."

"And what will you bring back?"

"Ain't sure about that yet.  Owners' orders will be waitin' fur me when
we get to Hong Kong.  Probably load up with tea and such truck.  Maybe
get some copra at some of the islands."

China, Japan, the South Seas!  Lands of mystery, adventure and romance!
Lands of eternal summer!  Azure seas studded with islands like
emeralds!  Velvet nights spangled with flaming stars!

The wanderlust seized on Allen Drew more fiercely than before, and his
heart sickened with longing.

"It must be wonderful to see all those places," he ventured.

"Huh?" said the captain, looking at him blankly.

"I mean," explained the landsman, half ashamed of his enthusiasm, "that
everything is so different--so old--so mysterious--so beautiful----.
You know what I mean," he ended lamely.

The captain sniffed.

"Pooty enough, I s'pose," he grunted.  "But I never pay no 'tention to
that.  What with layin' my course an' loadin' my cargo an' followin'
owners orders, my mind's what ye might call pooty well took up."

The irony of it all!  The captain who did not care a copper for romance
was going into the very thick of it, while he, Allen Drew, who panted
for it, was doomed to forego it forever.  Of what use to have the soul
of a Viking, if your job is that of a chandler's clerk?

The captain applied himself to the decanter again and Drew roused from
his momentary reverie.

"Well," he observed, as he took his hat from the table on which he had
thrown it, "I'll keep a sharp eye out for that windlass and see that it
is shipped to you the minute it reaches us from the factory."

"All right," responded the captain, rising to his feet.  "I'll be
lookin' for it.  I wouldn't dare risk the old one fur another v'yage."

They shook hands, and Drew climbed the stairs, crossed the deck and
went out on to the wharf.

The river was a scene almost as busy as that which lay behind him in
the crowded streets of the metropolis.  Snorting tugs were darting to
and fro, lines of barges were being convoyed toward the Sound,
ferryboats were leaving and entering their slips, tramp steamers were
poking their way up from Quarantine, and a huge ocean liner was moving
majestically toward the Narrows and the open sea beyond.

Drew took off his hat and let the soft breeze cool his brow.  Things
seemed hopelessly out of gear.  He felt like a trapped animal.  So he
imagined a squirrel might feel, turning the wheel endlessly in the
narrow limits of its cage.  Or, to make the image human, his thoughts
wandered to the shorn and blinded Samson grinding his tale of corn in
the Philistine town.

He found himself envying a man who leaned against a neighboring spile.
He was a tall, spare fellow, dressed a little better than the common
run of sailors, but unmistakably a sea-faring man.  What Drew
especially noted was that the stranger had only one eye--and that set
in a rather forbidding countenance.  Ordinarily he might have pitied
him, but in his present mood Drew envied him.  The stranger's one
remaining eye had, after all, seen more of the world than his own two
good optics would likely ever see.

From these fruitless and fantastic musings he roused himself with an
effort.  A glance at his watch startled him.  This would never do.  As
long as he took Tyke Grimshaw's money he must do Tyke Grimshaw's work.

"Back to the treadmill," he said to himself, grimly; and it was then,
as he started for the head of the pier, that he first saw the girl.

He slackened his pace instantly, so as to have her the longer in sight,
mentally blessing the bales and boxes that made her progress slow.  Not
for the world would he have offended her by staring; but he stole
covert glances at her from time to time; and with each swift glance the
impression she had made upon him grew in strength.

She came on, seemingly unconscious of his presence, until they were
almost opposite each other.  One hand held her dress from contact with
the litter of the dock; in the other she carried what appeared to be a
packet of letters.  The path she chose led her to the very edge of the
dock.

Drew would have passed the next instant had the girl not stopped
suddenly, a startled expression becoming visible on her face.  The
young man turned swiftly.  The one-eyed seaman, whose appearance he had
previously marked, stood almost at his elbow and confronted the girl.

She stepped back to avoid the seaman, and her foot caught in a coil of
rope.  For a moment she swayed on the verge of the dock--then Drew's
hand shot out, and he caught her arm, steadying her.  But the packet
she carried flew from her hand and disappeared beyond the stringpiece
of the pier.

The girl uttered a little cry of distress.  Drew shot a belligerent
glance at the one-eyed man.

"What do you want?" he demanded, with truculence.  "Isn't the dock
broad enough for you to pass without annoying the lady?  Get along with
you!"

The one-eyed man uttered an oath, but moved away, though slowly.  Drew
turned to the girl again, hat in hand, a smile chasing the frown from
his face.



CHAPTER II

TYKE GRIMSHAW AND HIS AFFAIRS

"I beg your pardon," Drew said, bowing low, "but can I be of any
further assistance?"

The girl looked up at him a little doubtfully, but what she saw in his
frank brown eyes must have reassured her, for she spoke without
hesitation.

"You are very kind," she answered, "but I fear it is too late.  I had
some letters in my hand, and when I slipped they went into the water.
I'm afraid you can't get them."

Mentally resolving to dive for them if such a procedure became
necessary, Drew stepped upon the stringpiece of the pier beside her and
looked down.

She gave a joyous exclamation as she saw the package lying in the
bottom of a small boat that floated at the stern of a steamer moored to
the pier.

"Oh, there they are!" she cried delightedly.  "How lucky!"  Then her
face changed.  "But after all it is going to be hard to get them," she
added.  "The pier is high and there don't seem to be any cleats here to
climb down by."

"Easiest thing in the world," returned Drew confidently.  "I'll go
aboard the steamer, haul the boat up to the stern, and drop into it."

"But the stern is so very high," she said, measuring it with her eye.

"That doesn't matter," he replied.  "If you'll just wait here, I'll go
aboard and be back with the letters before you know it."  He glanced
around swiftly.  "I don't think that fellow will trouble you again."

"I am not at all afraid of that man.  He only startled me for the
moment.  But I hate to put you to so much trouble," she added, looking
at him shyly.

"It will be a pleasure," protested Drew, returning her look with
another from which he tried to exclude any undue warmth.

It is to be feared that he was not altogether successful, judging from
the faint flush that rose in her cheek as she dropped her gaze before
his.

His mind awhirl, the young man hurried up to the gangway of the steamer
where he found one of the officers.  He briefly explained that he
wanted to secure a package that a young lady had dropped into the boat
lying astern, and the officer, with an appreciative grin, readily
granted permission to him to go aboard.

Drew hurried to the stern, which, as the steamer had discharged her
cargo, rose fully twenty feet from the water.  He hauled in the boat
until it lay directly beneath.  Then he gathered up the slack of the
painter and wound it about a cleat until it was taut.  This done, he
dropped over the rail and let himself down by the rope until his feet
touched the thwart of the tender.

He worked his way aft carefully, and picking up the package placed it
in his breast pocket.  Then he caught hold of the rope and climbed up,
hand over hand.

It was unaccustomed work for a landsman, but Drew was supple and
athletic and he mounted rapidly.  Not for a fortune would he have
faltered with those hazel eyes fixed upon him.  With the girl watching
him, he felt as though he could have climbed to the top of the
Woolworth Building.

It was his misfortune that he could not see the look of admiration in
her eyes as they followed his movements--a look, however, which by the
exercise of maidenly repression she had changed to one of mere
gratitude when at last, breathing a little quickly, he approached her
with the packet he had recovered in his hand.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, taking it eagerly and clasping it tightly, "how
very good of you to take all that trouble!  I don't know how to thank
you enough."

"It was no trouble at all," Drew responded.  "I count myself lucky to
have happened along just when you needed me."

His speech won him a radiant smile, and he promptly decided that the
dimple in her cheek was not merely distracting.  It was divine!

There was a moment of embarrassed silence.  The young man was wild to
pursue the conversation.  But he was too much of a gentleman to presume
on the service he had rendered, and he knew that he should lift his hat
and depart.

One feeble resource was left by which he might reconcile duty with
desire.

"It's very hard getting about on this crowded pier," he ventured, "and
you see there are some rough characters around.  You might perhaps like
to have me see you safely to the street when you are ready to go?"

She hesitated for a moment, her own inclination evidently battling with
convention.  But convention won.

"I think not," she said, flashing him a smile that softened her refusal
and at the same time completed his undoing.  "You see it is broad
daylight and I am perfectly safe.  Thank you for the offer though, and
thank you again for what you have done for me."

It was dismissal, none the less final because it was gracious, and Drew
yielded to the inevitable.

He glanced back once or twice, assuring himself that it was his plain
duty to keep her in sight in order to see that nothing happened to her.
He found himself wishing that she would drop the letters overboard
again--that the one-eyed man would reappear--that something would
occur, however slight, to call him to her side once more.  It was with
a thrill of exultation that he saw her approach the gangplank of the
_Normandy_.

Then, for a moment, at least, he was sure he was going to have his
wish.  He spied the one-eyed man coming into view from behind a heap of
freight and approach the boarding-plank.  He spoke to the girl and she
halted.

Drew was on the point of darting back to the girl's rescue.  But the
seaman's attitude was respectful, and it seemed that what he said was
not offensive.  At least, the girl listened attentively, nodded when
the man had finished speaking, and as the latter fell back she tripped
lightly aboard the _Normandy_, and so disappeared.

Drew's curiosity was so great that he might have lingered until the
girl came ashore again, but the one-eyed man was coming up the dock and
the young fellow was cooler now and felt that it would not be the part
of wisdom to have another altercation with the rough looking stranger.
Perhaps, after all, the one-eyed man had merely spoken to the girl to
ask pardon for having previously startled her.

"Well," Drew said to himself, "Peters knows her and can tell me all
about her.  Anyhow I know her name and I'll find out where she lives if
I have to search New York from end to end."

For on the envelope that had lain uppermost when he had picked up the
package from the grating of the tender, he had seen the name, "Ruth
Adams."  The address had escaped him in that momentary glance, and
although he could have easily repaired the omission while he was
passing back along the steamer's deck, his instincts revolted at
anything that looked like prying.

But there was nothing in his code that forbade his using every
legitimate means of searching her out and securing an introduction in
the way dictated by the approved forms, and he promised himself that
the episode should not end here.

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast," especially when that breast
is a youthful one, and Allen Drew's thoughts spun a dozen rainbow
visions as he made his way back to the shop whose insistent call he had
for the last hour put aside.  He walked automatically and only that
sixth sense peculiar to city dwellers prevented his being run down more
than once.  But the objurgations of startled drivers as they brought up
their vehicles with a jerk bothered him not a whit.  His physical
presence was on South Street but his real self was on the crowded pier
where he had left Ruth Adams.

Still moving on mechanically, he entered the door of the chandlery
shop, over which a signboard, dingy with age, announced that "T.
Grimshaw" was the proprietor.  He nodded absently in response to the
salutations of Sam, the negro porter, and Winters, the junior clerk,
and sat down at his desk.

The building that housed the chandlery shop was a very old one, dating
back to a time previous to the Revolution.  When it was erected the
Boston "Tea Party" was still in the future.  If its old walls could
have spoken they might have told of the time when almost all New York
was housed below Chambers Street; when the "Bouwerie," free from its
later malodorous associations, was a winding country lane where lads
and lasses carried on their courtships in the long summer evenings;
when Cherry Hill, now notorious for its fights and factions, was the
abode of the city's wealth and fashion; when Collect Pond, on whose
site the Tombs now stands, was the skating center where New York's
belles and beaux disported themselves; when merry parties picnicked in
the woods and sylvan glades of Fourteenth Street.

Those same walls, looking across the East River, had seen the prison
ship _Jersey_, in whose foul and festering holds had died so many
patriots.  And they had shaken to the salvos of artillery that greeted
Washington, when, at the end of the Revolutionary War, he had landed at
the Battery and had gone in pomp to Fraunce's Tavern for a farewell
dinner to his officers.

In its day it had been a stout and notable building, and even now it
might be good for another hundred years.  But the inexorable march of
progress and the worth of the land on which it stood had sealed its
doom.  Grimshaw had occupied it for twenty years, but when he sought to
renew his lease he had been told that no renewal would be granted.  He
could still occupy the building and pay the rent from month to month.
But he now held possession only on sufferance, and it was distinctly
understood that he might be called upon to vacate at any time on a few
days' notice.

But "threatened men live long," and it was beginning to look as though
the same might be said of the old building.  For two years the months
had come and gone without any hint of change, and Tyke had settled down
in the belief that the building would last as long as he did.  After
that it did not matter.  He had no kith or kin to whom to leave his
business.

He was a grim and grizzled old fellow, well on in his sixties.  In his
earlier days he had been a master mariner, and had sailed all the Seven
Seas.  He had rounded the Horn a dozen times; had scudded with reefed
topsails in the "roaring forties"; had lost two fingers of his left
hand in a fight with Malay pirates; had battled with waterspouts,
tornadoes and typhoons; had harpooned whales in the Arctic; had lost a
ship by fire, and been shipwrecked twice; and from these combats with
men and nature he had emerged as tough and hardy as a pine knot.

The profits of a notable whaling expedition from which he had returned
with the tanks filled to bursting, barrels crowded on the deck, and the
very scuppers running oil, together with a tidy little inheritance that
fell to him about the same time, had enabled him to buy the chandlery
shop from its former proprietor and settle down to spend the rest of
his life ashore and yet in sight and scent of salt water.

How he had gained the name of "Tyke," by which everybody called him,
nobody knew.  He himself never volunteered to tell, and in all his
bills and accounts used only the initial "T."  Some of his employees
favored Tyrus, others Titus.  One in a wild flight of fancy suggested
Ticonderoga.  But the mystery remained unsolved, and, after all, as the
checks that bore the scrawl, "T. Grimshaw," were promptly honored at
the bank, it did not matter.

He was not what could be called an enterprising business man and there
were many houses in his line that made a more pretentious appearance,
carried a larger stock, and had a much more extensive trade.  But he
lived frugally, discounted his bills, and had such a broad acquaintance
among seafaring men that each year's end showed a neat profit on his
books.

His store force was modest, being only three in number.  Allen Drew was
a sort of general manager, and Tyke was growing more and more into the
habit of leaving the conduct of the business to him.  Winters was the
junior clerk.  He had come direct from high school and was now in his
second year of service.  Then there was Sam, the colored porter and man
of all work, whose last name was as much a mystery as Grimshaw's first.

Drew took up some papers that had been laid on his desk during his
absence, and tried to fix his mind upon them.  He was dimly aware that
somebody had entered the store door, had spoken to Winters, and that
the junior clerk had shown the visitor into Grimshaw's private office.

But Allen Drew's thoughts were too far afield to be caught by this
incident, or to become easily concentrated upon humdrum business
affairs.  He laid down the papers, and sighed.

He began to day-dream again.  In the whole category of feminine names
was there ever one so pretty as Ruth?  And surely never did a girl, in
both form and feature, so fit the name.

Suddenly he realized that the door of the private office was open and
that Grimshaw's head was thrust out.

"Hey!  Come here a minute, Allen," he called.

There was a note of trouble in the old man's voice, and Tyke's face
expressed some strong emotion.  Alert on the instant, Drew rose to obey
his employer's summons.



CHAPTER III

HARD HIT

Drew was not surprised to find that his employer was not alone.  A man
whom he now recognized as the agent of the estate controlling the
building was seated at one end of the desk and was drumming upon it
with his fingers.

Tyke was hunched up in his big revolving chair with a look of agitation
on his face.  His hands were clenching and unclenching rapidly.  It was
evident that something much out of the ordinary had occurred to rob him
of his usual placidity.

He motioned Drew to a seat.

"Well, Allen," began Grimshaw, in a voice that he tried in vain to
render calm, "it's come at last.  We've got to get out of the old
place."

"What?" cried the young man; yet this only confirmed the suspicion
which his recognition of the visitor had suggested.

"We're sorry, of course," purred the agent, who had tried to break the
unwelcome news to the old man as easily as possible.  "But, of course,
you know that you held the place on the distinct understanding that we
should take possession at will."

"I ain't denying that, Mr. Blake," admitted Tyke.  "There's isn't
anything underhand or wrong about what you're doing.  I kept on here
with my eyes wide open and I'm ready to take my medicine.  But all the
same, it comes as a shock.  I'd hoped to hold on to the old craft as
long as I lived."

"I wish you could, both for your sake and ours," returned Blake.  "We
haven't a tenant anywhere who pays his rent more promptly and bothers
us less about repairs.  But the trustees of the estate have had an
offer from parties who want to put up a more modern building on this
site, and it was too good to decline."

"When are they going to start?" asked Drew.

"They're in something of a hurry," replied the agent.  "You see this is
the right time of the year for construction work, and they want to have
the foundations laid by fall."

"It's only a matter of days then before we have to find another place?"
went on Drew.

"Oh, I should hardly say that," replied Blake, soothingly.  "You know
how those things are.  They'll have a lot to do in the way of plans and
contracts before they get down to the actual work of building.  Still,"
he went on, more cautiously, "they may get busy on wrecking the old
building at almost any time, and I'd advise you as a friend not to let
the grass grow under your feet.  You've got a lot of stuff here, and it
will take a good deal of time to move it.  If I were you, I'd figure on
being out in a week or ten days."

"Ten days!" groaned Tyke.  "An' I haven't even got a place to go to."

"It may take some hustling," admitted the agent.  "But a good deal can
be done in a short time when you have to.  I'll look around, and if I
learn of any place that would suit you I'll let you know."

There was little else to be said, and after another expression of
regret at the unpleasant duty he had had to perform, Blake took his
leave.

The two men left in the office, contrasting types of age and youth,
looked at each other for a moment without speaking.  Allen Drew had a
real affection for his employer, who for some time past had treated him
more like a son than an employee, and he was genuinely shocked to see
how this blow had affected him.

"Don't mind, Mr. Grimshaw," he said cheerily.  "It doesn't mean the end
of the world.  We'll find another place that is just as good.  And this
time we'll get a lease, so we won't have to worry about being routed
out in this way."

Tyke shook his head dismally.

"That's all very well for you youngsters," he replied.  "You're at an
age when you'd as soon change as not.  But I've kind o' stuck my kedge
deep into the old place, an' it's like plucking my heart out to have to
up anchor and make sail for another port."

The younger man thought it would be best to leave Grimshaw alone for a
while, and he rose briskly to his feet.

"If you say so, I'll go out and look around," he suggested.  "I've had
this thing in the back of my mind for some time past, and I know of two
or three likely places that may fill the bill."

"All right," assented Tyke apathetically.  "Jest tell Winters to look
after things in the shop while you're gone.  I reckon I won't be much
good for the rest of the afternoon."

Drew went out, and after imparting the news, which shocked Winters and
Sam, put on his hat and left the office.

That morning he had been hoping for a change.  This afternoon he was
getting it with a vengeance.

It was desirable from every standpoint that the new place should be as
near to the old one as possible.  This consideration limited his choice
to two buildings which he knew were vacant, and toward these he bent
his steps.

The first place he visited had just been rented, but at the second he
had better luck.  He returned about four o'clock and burst into the
store, flushed and jubilant.

"I've found it," he announced, going into the private office.  "Just
what the doctor ordered.  Plenty of room, a better pair of show windows
than we have here, and a long-time lease for a rent that's only a
trifle more than we're paying now."

Tyke looked up with the first sign of animation he had shown since
Blake's visit.

"Where is it?" he asked.

"Just on the next block," answered Drew.  "Turner's old place."

"We'll go right over now an' look at it," said Tyke, rising and putting
on his hat.

After inspecting the three floors thoroughly, Grimshaw agreed with his
young manager that they were in luck to get the building.  A visit to
the agent followed, and before they left his office Tyke had handed
over a check for the first month's rent and had a five-year lease in
his pocket.

"A good piece of work, Allen, my boy," he said, as they parted outside
the shop that night.  "I don't know what I'd do without you.  But I'm
mighty sorry to have to leave the old place.  No other will ever seem
exactly like it."

"Poor old Tyke," mused Drew, as he looked after the retreating figure
that suddenly seemed older than he had ever seen it.  "He's hard hit."

In all the stir and bustle of that crowded afternoon, Drew had been
conscious of a glow at his heart that was not due to mere business
excitement.  One name had been upon his lips, one thought had sought to
monopolize him.  And now that business was over for the day, he yielded
utterly to the obsession of that meeting on the wharf.

Instead of striding uptown as usual, he turned in the other direction
and went down to the Jones Lane pier, now for the most part deserted
and quiet in the waning light.  Here and there a watchman sat on a bale
smoking his pipe, while occasionally a sailor lay a more or less
unsteady course for his ship.

Drew made his way to where the _Normandy_ was moored, and asked for
Captain Peters.

"Gone ashore, sir," said the man he addressed.  "Some friends of his
came aboard this afternoon and he's gone off with them to celebrate."

There was a grin on the man's face as he spoke, and this, together with
his recollection of the decanter, left no illusions in Drew's mind as
to the character of the celebration.

"Any message to leave for the captain, sir?" the man inquired.

"Nothing important," returned Drew carelessly.  "I may drop around and
see him to-morrow."  And he blessed the belated windlass which would
give him a reasonable excuse for returning.

But even though the captain was absent, there were other things at hand
that spoke of the girl with the hazel eyes.  There was the place where
she had dropped the letters.  There was the post against which she had
leaned as she watched him recover them.  And there, as he bent over the
edge of the pier, he saw the little boat that had played its part in
the day's happenings.

How musical her voice was!  And she had smiled at him once--no, twice!
Smiled not only with her lips but with her eyes.

He thought of her as he went slowly uptown.  He thought of her until he
went to sleep and then his thinking changed to dreaming.

Decidedly, Tyke was not the only one who was hard hit on that eventful
day.



CHAPTER IV

THE SHADOWS OF ROMANCE

When Allen Drew opened his eyes the next morning, he was conscious of
an unusual feeling of elation.  He lay for a moment in the twilight
zone between sleeping and waking, seeking the reason.  Then in a flash
it came to him.

He was out of bed in a twinkling.  Life was too full and rich now to
waste it in sleep.  Yesterday morning it had seemed drab and
commonplace.  To-day it sparkled with prismatic hues.  He was a new man
in a new world.

He found himself whistling from sheer excess of good spirits as he
moved about the room.  He hurried through his shower and dressing in
record time.  Then he despatched his breakfast with a speed and
absent-mindedness that were most unusual for him and evoked the mild
astonishment of his landlady.  A few minutes later he had joined the
hurrying throng that was moving toward the nearest subway station.  He
left the train at Fulton Street and surprised Winters by appearing at
the shop a half hour earlier than his usual time.

There were two reasons for pressing haste on this morning.  The moving
from the old quarters to the new involved an amount of work that was
appalling.  There were a thousand things to be done, and for the next
week or ten days the force of three employees must work at top speed.
Current business would have to be attended to as usual, and in addition
there was the colossal task of removing the contents of the three
crowded floors from the old building to the new.

There was a second task which, in Drew's secret heart, seemed the more
important.  That was to discover the address of the girl he had met on
the pier and learn what he could about her.

In the first flush of determination this had seemed to be a
comparatively easy matter.  The very fact that he wanted it so badly
seemed to guarantee his success.  Such difficulties as suggested
themselves he waved airily aside.  No young Lochinvar coming out of the
West had felt more certain of carrying off his Ellen than Allen Drew
had felt the night before of finding Miss Ruth Adams.  But when he
applied his mind to the task in the cold light of day, it did not seem
so easy and he was hazy as to the best way to go about it.

He opened his desk, and before looking at the mail that mutely besought
his attention, he reached for the huge city directory and opened to the
letter "A."  He was appalled to find how many Adamses there were.
There were dozens, scores, hundreds!  Even with the firm and
corporation names eliminated, the individual Adamses were legion.  And
not one of them had Ruth before it.

This, however, he had hardly expected.  She was too young to be listed
separately, and would probably be included under the name of her father
or her mother.

He had had a vague idea that, if there were not too many Adamses, he
might take them one by one and by discreet inquiries in the
neighborhood of each find out if the family included a young lady named
Ruth.  If he succeeded, that would be a great point gained.  What he
should do after that he would have been puzzled to tell.  But he had a
desperate hope that, hovering in the vicinity, some way, somehow, he
could manage to secure an introduction.

But now, with this formidable array of names before him, his plan
vanished into thin air.  Life was too short, and he could not wait for
eternity!

And how did he know that she lived in the city at all?  It was
probable, but not at all certain.  She might simply be here on a visit;
and for all he knew her permanent home might be Chicago or San
Francisco.

Clearly, he must see Captain Peters without loss of time.  The girl had
gone aboard his bark, and the probability was that her errand had been
with him.

He looked hastily through the mail, and was glad to see that it
included a notification from the freight department of the railroad
that a windlass consigned to "T. Grimshaw" had arrived and was awaiting
his orders.

"I'll just drop around to see Peters and set his mind at rest about
that windlass," he said to Winters, reaching for his hat.

"I thought you did that yesterday," replied Winters.

"I told him we expected it," said Drew, flushing a little; "but he may
be worrying about it, being delayed on the way.  He's an old customer
of ours and we want to keep on the right side of him."

Winters looked his surprise at this sudden spasm of business anxiety,
but said nothing further, and Drew hastened down to the Jones Lane pier
and boarded the _Normandy_.  But again he was doomed to meet with
disappointment.

"Sorry, sir," said the second officer, biting off a chew from a plug of
tobacco, "but the skipper can't be seen just now.  Just came aboard a
little while ago and there was a friend on either side of him.  You
know how it is," and he winked.  "He's below now, sound asleep, and
'twould be as much as my billet's worth to disturb him."

"Well," Drew said thoughtfully, "that windlass he ordered has arrived
and I'll see that it's carted down here to-day.  But there was another
matter I wanted to speak to him about."

"Better wait a day or two if it's any favor you want to ask the old
man," advised the seaman.  "Let his coppers get cooled first.  A better
navigator than Cap'n Peters never stepped, and he don't lush none
'twixt port and port; but he's no mamma's angel child when his coppers
is hot, believe me!"

"Thanks.  I'll remember," Drew said.  "Of course you did not notice the
young lady who came aboard here yesterday afternoon just after I left?"

"Didn't I, though?" responded the second officer of the _Normandy_.
"My eye!"

"Do you know who she is?" blurted out Drew.

"No, sir.  But the skipper does, I reckon."

"All right," Drew said, and turned to descend the plank to the dock.
As he did so he found himself confronting the one-eyed man who had
figured in the incident on the dock the previous afternoon.

The fellow's countenance was raised to his own as Drew came down the
plank, and the latter obtained a good view of the scarred face.

It was almost beardless, and even the brows were so light and scanty
that they lent no character to the remaining shallow, furtive blue eye.
The empty socket gave a horribly grim appearance to the whole face.

Momentary as Drew's scrutiny was, he saw that the one-eyed man was
intoxicated.  Not desiring to engage in a controversy with a stranger
in that condition, he would have passed on quickly, but the fellow
would not step aside.

"Just let me pass, will you?" Drew said, eyeing the other warily.

"You lubberly swab!" the one-eyed man said thickly, and with it spat
out a vile epithet that instantly raised a flame of hot anger in Allen
Drew.

He plunged down the plank, his fists clenched and his eyes ablaze.  The
one-eyed man was by no means unsteady on his legs; he met the charge of
the young fellow boldly enough.

But Drew dodged his swing, and having all the push of his descent of
the plank behind the straight-arm jolt he landed on the other's jaw,
the impact was terrific.

"Whee!" yelled the second officer of the _Normandy_, leaning on the
rail, an interested spectator.  "That's a soaker!"

Others came running to the scene.  A fight will bring a crowd quicker
than any other happening.

The one-eyed man had been driven back against the nearest pile of
freight.  Drew was after him before he could recover from that first
blow, and he got in a couple of other punches that ended the
encounter--for the time being, at least.  His antagonist went to the
floor of the dock and stayed there.

"Beat it, 'bo!" advised a seaman at the _Normandy's_ rail.  "Here comes
the cop."

Drew accepted the advice as good, dodged around a tier of freight, and
so escaped.  He was not of a quarrelsome disposition; yet somehow the
memory of those three blows he had struck gave him a deal of
satisfaction.

"I never supposed those sparring lessons at the gym would come in so
handy," he thought, hurrying officeward.  Then he chuckled.  "Yesterday
I was grouching because nothing ever happened to me.  And look at it
now!  That fellow had it coming to him, that's all.  I wonder who he
is.  Like enough I'll never see him again."

But he was never more mistaken in his life than in this surmise.

Grimshaw had come in by the time Drew got back to the shop, and was
busy in his office.  Winters and Sam were condoling with each other
over the amount of work that lay before them.

"It's a whale of a job," complained Winters, looking about the crowded
shop.

"Ah kin feel de mis'ry comin' into ma back ag'in," groaned Sam, who had
formerly been a piano mover, but had been obliged to seek a less
strenuous occupation because of having wrenched his back.  "Ah suttinly
will be ready fo' de hospital when Ah gits t'rough wid dis movin'."

"Oh, you're just plain lazy, Sam," chaffed Drew.  "It won't be half so
bad as you think.  We'll have a gang of truckmen and their helpers to
do most of the heavy work.  But I suppose we've got our hands full,
packing these instruments so they won't be broken and scratched.  And
'hustle' is the word from now on."

"But think of the junk upstairs!" groaned Winters.  "Why doesn't the
old man call in the Salvation Army and give them the whole bunch on
condition that they take it away?  He's got the accumulation of twenty
years on that top floor, and it's not worth the powder to blow it up.
It beats me why Tyke keeps all that old clutter."

"It doesn't seem worth house room," admitted Drew; "and now that we're
moving, perhaps we can get rid of a lot of the stuff.  I'll speak to
Tyke about it.  But let's forget the upper floors and get busy on this
one.  There's a man's job right here."

"A giant's job, to my way of thinking," grumbled Winters, as he looked
around him.

It was indeed a varied and extensive stock that was carried on the main
floor.  To name it all would have been to enumerate almost everything
that is used on shipboard, whether driven by wind or by steam.
Thermometers, barometers, binoculars, flanges, couplings, carburetors,
lamps, lanterns, fog horns, pumps, check valves, steering wheels,
galley stoves, fire buckets, hand grenades, handspikes, shaftings,
lubricants, wire coils, rope, sea chests, life preservers, spar
varnish, copper paint, pulleys, ensigns, twine, clasp knives, boat
hooks, chronometers, ship clocks, rubber boots, fur caps, splicing
compounds, friction tape, cement, wrenches, hinges, screws, oakum,
oars, anchors--it was no wonder that the force quailed at sight of the
work that lay before them.

They set to work smartly and had already made notable progress when
Tyke stepped out of the private office.  He looked around with a
melancholy smile.

"Dismantling the old ship, I see," he observed to Drew.

"Right on the job," replied the young man, glad to note that Tyke
seemed to have somewhat recovered his equanimity after the trying
events of the day before.

Grimshaw watched them for a while, making a suggestion now and then but
leaving most of the direction of the work to his chief clerk while he
ruminated over the coming change.

At last he roused himself.

"Better leave things to Winters now and come upstairs with me," he said
to Drew.  "There's a heap of stuff up there, and we want to figure on
where we're going to stow it all in the new place."

Drew followed him and they mounted to the second floor.  Here the
surplus stock was held in reserve, and there was nothing that could be
dispensed with.  But the third floor held a bewildering collection that
made it a veritable curiosity shop.  When they reached this, Drew
looked about and was inclined to agree with Winters in classifying it
as "junk."

All the discarded and defective stock of the last twenty years had
found a refuge here.  And in addition to this debris there was a pile
of sailors' boxes and belongings that reached to the roof.  Tyke had a
warm spot in his heart for sailormen, especially if they chanced to
have sailed with him on any of his numerous voyages; and when they were
stranded and turned to him for help they never met with refusal.

In some cases this help had taken the form of money loans or gifts.  At
other times he had taken care of the chests containing their meagre
belongings, while they were waiting for a chance to ship, or perhaps
were compelled to go to a hospital.

In the course of a score of years, these boxes had increased in number
until now they usurped a great part of the space on that upper floor.
Drew had often been on the point of suggesting that they be got rid of,
but as long as they did not encroach on the space actually needed by
the business this thought had remained unspoken.  Now, when they were
about to move and needed to have their work lightened as much as
possible, the time seemed opportune to dispose of the problem.

Tyke listened with a twinkle in his eye as Allen repeated the
suggestion of Winters that the contents of the floor be held for what
it would bring or given to the Salvation Army.

"Might be a good idea, I s'pose," he remarked.  "Them old things ain't
certainly doing any one any good.  An' yet, somehow, I've never been
able to bring myself to the point of getting rid of 'em.  Seems as
though they were a sort of trust.  Though I s'pose most of the boys
they belonged to are dead and gone long ago."

"I don't imagine there's anything really valuable in any of the
chests," remarked Drew.

"No, I don't think the hull kit an' boodle of 'em is worth twenty
dollars," acquiesced the old man.  "Although you can't always tell.
Sometimes the richest things are found in onlikely places.  But I kind
of hate to part with these old boxes.  Almost every one of 'em has
something about it that reminds me of old times.

"You know I ain't much of a reading man," Grimshaw went on, "an' these
boxes make the only library I have.  I come up here an' moon around
sometimes when I git sick of living ashore, an' these old chests seem
to talk to me.  They smell of the sea an' tell of the sea, an' each one
of 'em has some history connected with it."

Drew scented a story, and as Tyke's tales, while sometimes garrulous,
were always interesting, he forebore to interrupt and disposed himself
to listen.

"Now take that box over there, for instance," continued Tyke, pointing
to a stained and mildewed chest which bore all the marks of great age
and rough handling.  "That belonged to Manuel Gomez, dead ten year
since.  He went down in the _Nancy Boardman_ when she was rounding the
Cape.  Big, dark, upstanding man he was, an' one of the best bo'suns
that ever piped a watch to quarters in a living gale.

"An' he was as good a fighting man as he was sailor.  Nobody I'd rather
have at my side in a scrap.  He was right up in front with me when
those Malay pirates boarded us off the Borneo coast.  Those brown
devils came over the side like a tidal wave, an' no matter how many we
downed, they still kep' coming on.

"It was nip an' tuck for a while, but we were fighting for our lives,
an' we beat 'em off at last an' sent what was left of 'em tumbling into
their praus.  As it was, they sliced off two of my fingers, an' one
fellow would have buried that crooked kriss of his in my neck if Manuel
hadn't cut him down jest in time.

"Of course, I was grateful to him for saving my life, an' he sailed
with me for several voyages after that.  That scrap with the pirates
never seemed to do him an awful lot of good.  He had pirates on the
brain anyway.  You see, he come from Trinidad on the Spanish Main,
where the old pirates used to do their plundering an' butchering, an' I
s'pose he'd heard talk about their doings ever since he was a boy.

"He used to talk about 'em whenever he got a chance.  Of course,
discipline being what it is on board ship, he couldn't talk as free
with me as I s'pose he did with his mates.  But once in a while he'd
reel off a yarn, an' then he'd hint kind of mysterious like that he
knew where some of the old Pirates' doubloons were buried an' that some
day, if luck was with him, he'd be a rich man.

"I'd heard so much of that kind o' stuff in my time that I used to
laugh at him, an' then he'd get peeved--that is, as peeved as he dared
to be, me being skipper.  But that wouldn't last long, and after a
while he'd be at it again.  Jest seemed as though he couldn't get away
from the thought of it."

"Perhaps there was something in it after all," said Drew, to whom just
now anything that savored of adventure appealed more strongly than
usual.

"More likely his brain was a bit touched," replied Grimshaw carelessly.
"I lost sight of him for several years when I quit the sea.  But just
before he went on his last voyage, he wanted me to take charge of this
chest of his until he returned.  Said he didn't dare trust it with any
one else.

"'All right, Manuel.  No diamonds or anything of that kind in it, I
s'pose?' I says with a laugh and a wink.

"But he didn't crack a smile.

"'Somet'in' wort' more zan diamon's,' he said solemnly, an' went away.
I never saw him again, an' a few months later I heard of the _Nancy
Boardman's_ going down with all hands."

"Why not examine the chest?" cried Drew eagerly.

The recital of the grizzled veteran had fired his blood.  All that he
had ever read or heard of the old buccaneers came back to him.  In
fancy he saw them all, Avery, Kidd, Bartholomew Roberts, Stede Bonnet,
Blackbeard Morgan, the whole black-hearted and blood-stained crew of
daring leaders ranging up and down the waters of the Spanish Main,
plundering, sacking, killing, boarding the stately galleons of Spain,
sending peaceful merchant ships to the bottom, wasting their gains in
wild orgies ashore capturing Panama and Maracaibo amid torrents of
blood and flame.  Silks and jewels and brocades and pearls and gold!
From the whole world they had taken tribute, until that world--tried at
last beyond bearing--had risen in its might and ground the whole nest
of vipers beneath its wrathful heel.

Tyke looked at the young man quizzically.

"Thinking of the pirate doubloons, Allen?"

"Why not?" Drew defended himself, albeit a little sheepishly.  "Perhaps
the key to treasure is right over there in that old chest of Manuel's."

Then Tyke laughed outright.



CHAPTER V

A SETBACK

"I wouldn't bank on finding treasure," Grimshaw advised.  "What those
old pirates got they spent as they went along.  They warn't of the
saving kind.  'Easy come, easy go' was their motto."

"That's true enough of the majority of them, no doubt," conceded Drew.
"The common sailors got only a small portion of the loot anyway.  But
some of the leaders were shrewd and far-sighted men.  They didn't look
forward to dying as pirates.  They wanted to save enough to buy their
pardons later on and live the rest of their lives ashore in peace and
luxury.  What was more natural than that they should hide their shares
of the plunder on some of the little islands they were familiar with?
They wouldn't dare to keep it on their ships, where their throats might
be cut at any moment if their crews knew there was treasure aboard."

"That's true enough," admitted his employer.

"And if they did bury it," pursued the young man, encouraged by this
concession, "why shouldn't a good deal of it be there yet?  Gold and
silver and jewels don't perish from being kept underground.  And as
most of the pirates died in battle, they had no chance to go back and
dig the plunder up from where they had buried it."

"But some of the crews must have been in the secret," objected Tyke,
"an' after the death of their captains what was to hinder them from
going after the doubloons an' getting 'em."

"There might have been a good many reasons," answered Drew.  "In the
first place, the captains seem to have had a cheerful little habit of
killing the men who did the digging and leaving their skeletons to
guard the treasure-chests.  And even when that didn't happen, what
chance would the common sailor have had of going after the loot?  He
couldn't have got a ship without giving away his secret, and the minute
he'd given it away his own life wouldn't have been worth a copper cent.

"And then, too," went on Drew, warming to his subject, "look at all the
traditions there are on the subject.  Where there is so much smoke
there must be some fire.  A single rumor wouldn't amount to much, but
when that rumor persists and is multiplied by a thousand others until
it becomes a settled belief, there must be something in it.  The rumors
are like so many spokes of a wheel all pointing to a single hub, and
that hub is--treasure!"

"I declare! you're getting all het up about it," grinned Tyke, as Drew
paused for breath.  "But all the same, my boy, you want to get back to
earth.  You've got as good a chance of finding hidden treasure as I
have of taking first prize in a beauty show."

"What's the matter with taking a look in Manuel's box and finding out
what it was he was so anxious about?" questioned Drew, a little dashed
by Tyke's skepticism.

"Well, perhaps we shall some time later on," conceded Tyke, somewhat
doubtfully.  "We can't think of doing it until we git moved an'
settled.  We've got enough on hand now to keep us as busy as ants for a
good many days to come."

Drew was disappointed, but as his employer had spoken there was nothing
more to be said, and he regretfully followed Grimshaw to the ground
floor.

The chronicle of his life for the rest of that day and the two
following could be summed up in the one word, work--hard, breathless,
unceasing work.  A reminder had come from Blake that the moving must be
expedited, and from Tyke himself down to Sam no one was exempt.

Not that the thought of Ruth Adams was ever for long out of Drew's
mind.  But the colors had grown more sombre in his rainbow of hope.  He
had snatched a few moments from his noon hour on the second day to run
over to the _Normandy_, and although this time he saw Captain Peters,
it was only to learn that he could expect no help from that quarter.

The captain was curt and irritable after his prolonged drinking bout,
and answered chiefly in monosyllables.  No, he had not seen any young
girl come aboard two days before.  Did not know of any one who had.

"Now you git out," snarled Peters in conclusion.  "You'll git no
information here.  Make no mistake about that!"

Drew was startled by the change in Captain Peters' manner and look.
The skipper glared at him as though Drew were a strange dog trying to
get the other's bone.  The young man's temper was instantly rasped; but
Peters was a considerably older man than he, and he seemed to be
laboring under some misapprehension.

"I assure you, Captain Peters," Drew said, "my reasons for asking were
perfectly honorable."

"You needn't assure me of anything.  Just git out!" roared the skipper
of the _Normandy_; and, seeing that there was nothing but a fight in
prospect if he remained, the young man withdrew.  On deck he saw the
second officer, and that person winked at him knowingly and followed
him to the plank.

"Old man on the rampage?" he asked.

"Seems to be," said the confused Drew.

"Chance was, that that Bug-eye you knocked out the other day is a
pertic'lar friend of the skipper's.  But gosh! you're some boy with
your mits."

Drew might again have tried to find out from this fellow about the
girl, but he shrank from making her the subject of any general inquiry
or discussion.  To him she was something to be kept sacred.  His heart
was a shrine with her as its image, and before that image he burned
imaginary tapers with the fervor of a devotee.

One thought came to him with a suddenness that made him quake.  Could
it be that she was already married?

He tried to remember whether "Mrs." or "Miss" had preceded the name on
the letter.  For the life of him he could not recall.  He had so
utterly assumed that she was unmarried, on the occasion of their
meeting, that any thought to the contrary had not even occurred to him
then.  He was somewhat comforted by the probability that, had she been
married, her husband's name or initials would have followed the "Mrs."
instead of her given name.  Yet, this was a custom that was becoming as
much honored in the breach as in the observance, and the use of her own
given name would not be at all conclusive.

Then, with a great wave of relief, the memory came to him that he had
placed the letters in her left hand and had noted that she had no rings
on that hand at all.  The thought had come to him at the time that no
ornament could make those tapered fingers prettier than they were.

His heart leaped with elation.  She was unmarried then!  She wore no
wedding ring!

There was still greater cause for jubilation.  She wore no ring of any
kind!  She was not even engaged!

She probably was somewhere in this teeming city.  Many times their
paths might almost cross, perhaps had already almost crossed since that
first meeting on the pier.

Fantastic musings took possession of him.  Who was it that, in a burst
of hyperbole, said that if one took up his station at Broadway and
Thirty-fourth Street, he would, if he stayed there long enough, see
everybody in the world go past?  Or was it Kipling who said that of
Port Said?

Where should he take his stand?  What places should he frequent with
the greatest likelihood of meeting her?  Theatres, the opera, art
galleries, railway stations, Central Park?

He recalled himself from these fantasies with a wrench.  How foolish
and fruitless they were!  He was no man of leisure, to do as he
pleased.  He was bound as securely to his desk as the genie was to the
lamp of Aladdin, and he must answer its call just as unfailingly.

So, alternately wretched and elated, tasting the torments as well as
the joys of this experience that had revolutionized his life, he tore
desperately into his work, but with the girl's face ever before him.

On the third day after Tyke had received notice to move, the
preparations were far advanced.  Delicate instruments had been
carefully wrapped; heavier objects had been clothed with burlap;
truckmen were notified to be ready on the following day.  Tyke and Drew
had made frequent pilgrimages to the new place and had arranged where
the stock could be placed to the best advantage.  New bills and
letterheads had been ordered from the printers, and even the old sign
over the door, which Tyke obstinately refused to leave behind, had been
taken down to have the old number painted out and the new one
substituted.

There was no elevator in the old building.  Drew had often urged
Grimshaw to have one installed, but the old man was dead set against
any such "new-fangled contraptions."  So, everything from the upper
lofts, when it was called for, had to be carried or rolled down the
rickety stairs, a proceeding which often roused rumbles of rebellion in
the breast of Sam, upon whom fell the brunt of the heavy work.

He had spent most of that afternoon in getting down the boxes from the
third floor so that they might be within easier reach of the truckmen
when the moving should begin.  He was on his way down with one of them,
perspiring profusely and tired from the work that had gone before,
when, as he neared the lowest step, he slipped and dropped his burden.

He was fortunate enough to scramble out of the way of the box and thus
escape injury.  But the box itself came to the floor with a crash, and
split open.

Drew and Winters sprang to the help of the porter, and were relieved to
find that he was not hurt.  He rose to his feet, his black face a
picture of consternation.

"Dat ole mis'ry in ma back done cotched me jes' when Ah got to de las'
step," he explained.  "Ah hope dey ain't much damage done to dat 'er
box."

"Pretty badly done up, it seems to me," remarked Winters, as he
surveyed the broken chest critically.

"Never mind, Sam," consoled Drew.  "It wasn't your fault and the old
box wasn't of much account anyway."

Just then Tyke thrust his head out of his office to learn the meaning
of the crash.  At the sight of the broken box he came into the shop.

"How did this happen?" he asked.

"Ah couldn't help it, Mistah Grimshaw," said Sam ruefully.  "Ma back
jes' nacherly give way, an' Ah had to let go.  Ah'm pow'ful sorry, sah."

Sam was a favorite with the old man, who refrained from scolding him
but stood a moment looking curiously at the box.

"Carry it into the office," he said at last to Sam.  "And you, Allen,
come along."



CHAPTER VI

THE BROKEN CHEST

Sam lifted the big chest, and, very carefully this time to make amends
for his previous dereliction, carried it into the private office.  He
placed it on two chairs that his employer indicated and then withdrew,
closing the door softly behind him and rejoicing at having got off so
easily.

"Well, Allen," remarked Tyke, wiping his glasses and replacing them on
the bridge of his nose, "you're going to get your wish sooner than
either one of us expected."

"What do you mean?" asked Drew wonderingly.

"Don't you see anything familiar about this box?" replied Tyke,
answering a question in Yankee fashion by asking one.

"I don't know that I do," responded the other.  Then, as he bent over
to examine the broken chest more closely, he corrected himself.

"Why, yes I do!" he cried eagerly.  "Isn't this the one you pointed out
to me the other day as belonging to the man who fought with you against
the Malays?"

"That's it," confirmed Tyke.  "It's Manuel Gomez's box.  Queer," he
went on reflectively, "that of all the chests there were in that loft
the only one we thought of looking in should burst open at our very
feet.  If I was superstitious" (here Drew smothered a smile, for he
knew that Tyke was nothing if not superstitious), "I might think there
was some meaning in it.  But of course," he added hastily, "we know
there isn't."

"Of course," acquiesced the younger man.

Tyke seemed rather disappointed at this ready assent.

"Well, anyway, now that it has opened right under our noses, so to
speak, we'll look into it.  I guess we've got far enough ahead with our
moving to take the time."

Drew, who was burning with curiosity and impatience, agreed with him
heartily.

The chest had split close to the lock, so that it was an easy matter
after a minute or two of manipulation to throw the cover back.

A musty, discolored coat lay on top, and Tyke was just about to lift
this out when Winters stuck his head into the office.

"Some one to see you, sir," he announced.

Tyke gave a little grunt of impatience.

"Tell him I'm busy," he snapped.  Then he caught himself up.  "Wait a
minute," he said.  "Did he tell you his name?"

"No, sir," returned Winters.  "But I'll find out." In a moment he was
back.  "Captain Rufus Hamilton, he says."

The petulant expression on Grimshaw's face changed instantly to one of
pleasure.

"Bring him right in," he ordered.

Drew, thinking that Grimshaw would wish to see his friend alone, rose
to follow Winters.

"I suppose we'll put this off until after he's gone," he remarked.

But his employer motioned to him to remain.

"Stay right where you are," he directed.  "Cap'n Rufe is one of the
best friends I have, and I'm glad he came jest now."

The door opened again, and Winters ushered in a powerfully built man
who seemed to be about fifty years of age.  He had piercing blue eyes,
a straight nose with wide nostrils, and a square jaw, about which were
lines that spoke of decision and the habit of command.  His face was
bronzed by exposure to the weather, and his brown hair was graying at
the temples.  There was something open and sincere about the man that
caused Drew to like him at once.

The newcomer stepped briskly forward, and Tyke met him half way,
gripping his hand in the warmest kind of welcome.

"Well met, Cap'n!" cried Tyke.  "I haven't seen you in a dog's age.  I
was jest wondering the other day what had become of you.  There's
nobody in the world I'd rather see.  What good wind blew you to this
port?"

"I'm just as glad to see you, Tyke," replied the visitor, with equal
heartiness.  "I've been in the China trade for the last few years, with
Frisco as my home port.  You can be sure that if I'd been hailing from
New York I'd have been in to see you every time I came into the harbor."

Tyke introduced Drew to the newcomer, and then the two friends settled
down to an exchange of reminiscences that seemed sure to be prolonged
for the rest of the afternoon.

After a while Captain Hamilton leaned back to light a cigar, and in the
momentary nagging of conversation that ensued while he was getting it
to going well, his gaze fell on the open chest.

"What have you got here?" he asked with a smile.  "Looks like a
sailor's dunnage."

"And that's jest what it is," answered Tyke, recalled to the work on
which he had been engaged when the captain's coming had interrupted.
"I declare! your visit put it clean out of my head.  It's the box that
used to belong to Manuel, that old bo'sun of mine that I guess I've
told you about in some of my yarns.  The one that was with me off
Borneo when I lost these two fingers."

"That run-in you had with the Malays?" returned the captain.  "Yes, I
remember your telling me about him.  Saved your life, I think you said,
when one of the beggars was going to knife you."

"That's the one," confirmed Grimshaw.  "He was shipwrecked later off
the Horn.  He left his box here with me to take care of for him."

"Seems to be pretty well broken up."

"The porter dropped it coming downstairs," explained Drew.

"You had it brought in here to save room, I suppose," said the captain.
"I noticed that you were all cluttered up outside."

"Why, it wasn't that exactly," replied Tyke, slightly embarrassed.
"You see, Allen an' I were rummaging around in the top loft the other
day, an' among other things our eyes fell on this box.  That started me
off yarning about the tight places Manuel an' I had been in together,
an' how he'd hinted that some day he'd be rich.  Then I told Allen of
how Manuel said, when he left his box with me, that there was something
in it worth more'n diamonds an' then----

"Yes, I can guess the rest," said Captain Hamilton, with a quiet smile.
"And then you both got a hankering to see what was in the box."

"Allen did," admitted Tyke, "'an' I ain't denying that my fingers
itched a little too.  But I put it off until we had got moved into our
new place.  Now, didn't I, Allen?" he demanded virtuously.

Drew assented smilingly.

"Why didn't you wait then?" gibed the captain.

"We would have," affirmed Grimshaw eagerly, conscious that here at last
he was on firm ground, "but that black rascal, Sam, the porter, dropped
the box on his way downstairs an' it split wide open, as you see.  If I
was superstitious----" here he glared challengingly at both of his
listeners, who by an effort kept their faces grave, "I'd sure think it
was meant that we should look into it right away.  What do you say,
Cap'n Rufe?"

"I agree with you," replied the captain.  "The man is dead, and the box
is yours by right of storage if nothing else.  This Manuel didn't have
wife or children that you know of, did he?"

"Nary one," responded Grimshaw.  "When he'd been drinking too much he
used to cry sometimes an' say that he hadn't a relative in the world to
care whether he lived or died."

"That being the case, heave ahead," advised the captain.  "You don't
owe anything to the living or the dead to keep you from finding out all
you want to know."

Reinforced by this opinion, the old man again lifted the coat from the
top of the box.

What lay beneath was a curious medley of articles such as might have
been gathered at various times by a sailor who was familiar with all
the ports of the world.  Mingled in with old trousers and boots and
caps, were curiously tinted shells, clasp knives with broken blades,
grotesque images of heathen gods, a tarantula and a centipede preserved
in a small jar of alcohol, miraculously saved from breakage.

But what especially attracted their attention in the midst of this
miscellaneous riffraff was a small cedar box, about eight inches long
by six inches wide and deep.  It was heavily carved, and was secured by
a lock of unusual size and strength.

"Wonder if this is the thing that was worth more'n diamonds," grunted
Tyke, with a carelessness that was too elaborate not to be assumed.

"It must be that, if anything," replied Captain Hamilton, who had let
his cigar go out and was now vigorously chewing the stub.

Drew said nothing, but his cheeks were flushed and his eyes brighter
than usual.

Grimshaw fumbled with the lock for a moment, but found it immovable.

"Jest step out, Allen, and get all the keys we have an' we'll see if
any of 'em fit," he directed.

Drew did so, and returned in a moment with the entire collection that
the shop boasted.  Tyke tried them all in turn, but none fitted.

"I guess there's no help for it," he said at last.  "I hate to spoil
the box, but we'll have to force the lock.  Get a chisel, and we'll pry
the thing open."

The chisel was brought and did its work promptly.  There was a rasping,
groaning sound, as if the box were complaining at this rude assault
upon its privacy, then, with a hand that trembled a little, Tyke lifted
the cover.

All three heads were close together as the men bent over and peered in.
Their first glimpse brought a sense of disappointment.  They had half
expected to catch the sheen of gold or the glitter of jewels.  Instead
they saw only a piece of oilskin that was carefully wrapped about what
proved to be some sheets of paper almost as stiff as parchment.

"Huh," grunted Tyke.  "Pesky lot of trouble with mighty little result.
I told you I thought Manuel was a bit touched in the brain, an' I guess
I was right."

"Wait a minute," said Captain Hamilton.  "Don't go off at half-cock.
Let's see what's in that oil-skin."

Tyke opened the packet.  The others drew up their chairs, one on either
side, as he unfolded the oilskin carefully on his desk.

There were two sheets of paper inside, so old and mildewed that they
had to be handled carefully to prevent their falling to pieces.

One of the papers seemed to be an official statement written in
Spanish.  The other consisted of rude tracings, moving apparently at
random, with here and there a word that was almost illegible.

The three men looked at this blankly.  Drew was the first to speak.

"It's a map!" he exclaimed eagerly.



CHAPTER VII

A MYSTERIOUS DOCUMENT

The two captains scanned the document closely.

"It certainly is a map," pronounced Captain Hamilton decisively.

"That's what it 'pears to be," admitted Tyke.

"And it's the map of an island," went on Hamilton.  "See," he pointed
out, "these wavy lines are meant to represent water and these firmer
lines stand for the land."

The others followed the movement of his finger and agreed with him.

"Well, after all, what of it?" asked Tyke, leaning back in his chair
with affected indifference.

"There's this of it," said his visitor throwing his extinguished cigar
into the waste-basket and drawing his chair still closer.  "I feel that
we have a mystery on our hands, and we should examine it fore and aft
to find what there is in it."

"I s'pose the next thing you'll be saying is that's it's a guide to
hidden treasure or something like that," jeered Tyke feebly, to conceal
his own growing excitement.

"Stranger things than that have happened," replied the captain
sententiously.

"Have it your own way," assented Tyke, rising and going to the door.

"Winters," he called, "jest remember that I'm not in to anybody for the
rest of the afternoon."

"Yes, sir," replied Winters dutifully.

Having locked the door as an additional guard against intrusion, Tyke
rejoined the two at the desk.

"Fire away," he directed.  "What's the first move?"

"The first thing is to make out what's written on this other paper,"
said the captain, handling it gingerly.

The three bent over and studied the document closely.

"Why, it's some foreign lingo; Spanish probably!" exclaimed Grimshaw.
"Not a word of English anywhere, as far as I can make out."

"That's so," agreed the captain, a little dismayed at the discovery.
"We've struck a snag right at the start.  If we have to call in any one
to translate it, we'll be taking the whole world into the secret, if
there is any secret worth taking about."

"Don't let that worry you," Drew intervened.  "I think I know enough
Spanish to be able to make out the paper."

There was an exclamation of delight from Captain Hamilton and a snort
of surprise from Tyke.

"Why, I never knew that you knew anything about that lingo!" the latter
ejaculated.

"I don't know any too much about it," returned Drew, modestly.  "But
the South American trade is getting so big now that I thought it would
be a good thing to know something of Spanish; so I've been studying it
at night and at odd times for the last two years."

"Well, don't that beat the Dutch!" cried Tyke delightedly.  "Now if I
was superstitious"--he stared truculently at the suspicious working of
Drew's mouth--"I'd be sure there was something in this that wasn't
natural.  We want to look into the box, an' it busts open in front of
us.  We want to read that Spanish lingo, an' you know how to do it.
I'll be keelhauled if it don't make me feel a little creepy.  That is,"
he corrected himself quickly, "it would if I believed in them things."

"Well, now that we know you don't believe in them," said Captain
Hamilton, with the faintest possible touch of sarcasm, "and since our
young friend here is able to read this paper, suppose we go to it."

"You bet we'll go to it!" cried Tyke eagerly.  "You jest take a pencil
an' write it down in English as Allen reels it off."

"There won't be any 'reeling off'," warned Drew, as with knitted brow
he pored over the document.  "In the first place, the Spanish used here
is very old, and some of the words that were common then aren't in use
any more.  I can see that.  Then, too, the ink has faded so much that
some of the words can't be made out at all.  And where the paper has
been folded the lines have entirely crumbled away."

"Sort o' Chinese puzzle, is it?" queried Tyke dismally.

"A Spanish puzzle, anyway," smiled Drew.  "I need something to help out
my eyes.  I wish we had some microscopes in our stock, as well as
telescopes."

"We'll get the best there is in the market if necessary," declared
Tyke.  "But jest for the present, here is something that may fill the
bill."

He reached into a drawer and brought out a reading glass that could be
placed over the paper as it lay on the desk.

"The very thing!" exclaimed Drew as he applied it.  "That helps a lot."

There was a tense air of expectancy over all three as he began to read.
Tyke kept nervously polishing his glasses, and Captain Hamilton's hand
was the least bit unsteady as it guided the pencil.  Drew's voice
trembled, though he tried studiously to keep it as calm as though he
were reading off the items on a bill of lading in the ordinary course
of business.

But if the work was exciting, it was none the less very slow.  Once in
a while there would be a word that was wholly outside Drew's
vocabulary.  In such cases the captain put it down in the original
Spanish for Drew to study out later by the aid of his dictionary.  Then
at the points where the story seemed most important, there would be a
crease in the paper that would eliminate an entire line.  Other words
had faded so completely that the magnifying glass failed to help.

But at last, despite all the tantalizing breaks, the final word was
reached, and the captain sat back and drew a long breath while the
younger man refolded the paper.

"Well now," said Tyke, "lets have it all from the first word to the
last.  An' Cap'n, read mighty slow."

Amid a breathless silence, Captain Hamilton commenced reading what he
had taken down.


"Trinidad, March 18, 17--.

"In the name of God, amen.

"I Ramon ...... rez unworthy sin ..........  ...... fit .... ......
name ...... .... lips ....  ...... ...... knowing ..... .... .... ....
.... mercy ........ ...... ...... shown none, expecting .... .... ....
.... .... .... deepest hell yet .... .... .... .... .... Mary .... ....
.... .... saints .... shriving .... .... Holy Church .... .... ....
confess .... .... .... life.

".... .... .... wild .... .... .... ....  .... .... .... Tortugas ....
French .... _Reine Marguerite_ .... .... .... .... .... .... death.

From there we ran to Port au Spain .... ....  .... plundering .... ....
.... .... city, ....  many men and boys and .... .... .... women and
.....  Off one of Baha .... Cays .... ....  .... galleon .... .... ....
.... fought stoutly .... .... .... .... walk .... plank.  Other ships
.... .... .... .... .... forgotten.  We took great spoils .... ....
.... .... accursed ... ...  spent .... .... living,

"I .... .... .... captain.  Down in the Caribbean Sea we .... ....
caravel .... .... ....  .... .... .... .... .... .... one hundred and
twenty.  Lost ship in tornado .... .... .... ....  got another.

"Many more .... .... .... .... .... ....  .... weary .... .... telling
we .... .... ....  God .... man.

"At last .... .... ten .... .... .... butchery ....  frigates .... ....
ch .....  Fled to one of the .... islands .... careened.  Tired knowing
.... .... sooner or later I made up my mind .... .... .... .... one
more rich prize .... ....  wickedness.

"We captured the .... Guadalquiver .....  Desperate  .... .... blood
..... thousand doubloons .... pearls .... .... price.

"I knew of an island off the beaten track where there was good hiding
.... .... found, night.  Cutter .... .... ashore, mutiny .... ....
killed them both.  And there the booty is still .... ....  .... ....
.... forbid.

"Now standing .... .... .... .... .... hell, I have made .... drawing
.... .... island where .... buried.  I give it freely .... Mother ....
.... .... .... cand .... .... .... altar and .... .... masses .... ....
unworthy soul.

  his
  (X) _Al_ .... ....
  mark

"Attest _Pablo Ximenes_, notary."


The captain laid the paper on the desk and glanced at the intent faces
of his companions.

"Now, what do you make of that?" he asked.



CHAPTER VIII

THE SCOURGES OF THE SEA

Tyke's eyes were staring and his face was so apoplectic that Drew was
alarmed.

"Make out of it?" Tyke spluttered, getting up and nearly overturning
his chair.  "I make out of it that Manuel was right when he said that
the old chest held something worth more'n diamonds."

Grimshaw was so shaken out of his usual calm that Captain Hamilton,
too, shared Drew's alarm.

"I tell you what we'd better do," he suggested.  "We're all too much
excited to discuss this thing intelligently now.  We've got a whole lot
to digest, and it will take time.  This thing will keep.  Suppose we
have our young friend here take this rough draft home with him and
piece out the missing parts as well as he can.  In the meantime we'll
all mull it over in our minds, look at it from every angle, and meet
here fresh and rested to-morrow morning to decide on what we'd better
do."

"I guess you're right," assented Tyke, mopping his forehead.  "This old
head of mine is whirling around like a top."

Tyke locked the map carefully in his safe and committed the other paper
and the captain's partial transcription to his chief clerk with solemn
injunctions to take the utmost care of them.

But the latter stood in no need of the admonition.  He would have
defended those papers with his life.  They meant for him--what did they
not mean?

Romance, adventure, wealth!  Now at last he would have something to
justify his search for Ruth Adams and his suit for her hand.  Now he
could frame his jewel, when he found it, in a proper setting.

The three men prepared to leave the private office.  Captain Hamilton
was first at the door, and he unlocked it.  The instant he pulled the
door open, Drew heard him ejaculate:

"Thunderation!  Mr. Ditty!  What are you doing here?"

"You told me to follow you here, Captain Hamilton," said a respectful
voice.  "They told me you were inside, and so I waited for you."

"Humph! quite right, Mr. Ditty," Captain Hamilton said hastily.  Then
he thrust his, head back into the office.  "My mate's come for me,
Tyke.  We've got an errand on Whitehall Street.  See you to-morrow.
Good night, Mr. Drew."

Both the captain and the other man had gone when Drew went out into the
larger room.  The remainder of that afternoon he spent in a dream.

When the day's work was over, Drew dined hastily and then shut himself
in his room where he worked busily until midnight, filling in the
vacant spaces in the rough draft of the confession.  He was critical of
his efforts, recasting and revising again and again until he was
satisfied that he had caught the full meaning of the old document as
far as it was humanly possible.  Only then did he lay it aside--to
dream of Ruth.

Drew was at the shop before his usual time the next morning, and Tyke
and Captain Hamilton came in soon afterward.  The three went at once
into secret session, leaving the entire conduct of the chandlery
business to Winters, much to the mystification of that youth.

All three were fresh and cool this morning as they buckled down to the
problem they had to solve, and the wisdom of the previous night's
adjournment was clearly evident.

"I got to talking this thing over with my daughter last night," said
Captain Hamilton.  "You'd forgotten I had a daughter, Tyke?  Wait till
you see her!  Well, she was aboard the schooner for dinner with me, and
she said: 'Daddy, if there is a real pirate's treasure, please go after
it.  Then you can stay ashore and not go sailing away from me any
more.'  So, I've a double incentive for pursuing this thing," and the
captain laughed.

"Yes, that's like the women-folk," observed Grimshaw.  "They're always
for a man's leaving the sea."

"That isn't what made you leave it, Tyke," Captain Hamilton said slyly.

"An' it won't be women-folk that sends me back to it, neither," growled
the older man.  "An' now, Allen," he added, as they settled comfortably
into their chairs, "how did you git along with the paper?  Have you got
it so that it makes sense?"

"I'll let you judge of that for yourselves," replied Drew, taking the
revised draft from his pocket.  "Of course, I can't say that it's
exactly right.  Some of the missing words and sentences I had to guess
at.  But it's as nearly right as I know how to make it."

He waited while Grimshaw and Captain Hamilton lighted their cigars, and
then proceeded to read:


"Trinidad, March 18, 17 .....

"In the name of God, amen.

"I, Ramon Alvarez, unworthy sinner that I am and not fit to take the
name of God upon my lips, and well knowing that I deserve no mercy who
have ever shown none, expecting to be plunged into the deepest hell,
yet basing my only hope on the Virgin Mary and the blessed saints and
the shriving of Holy Church, do hereby confess the misdeeds of my life.

"From my youth up I was wild.  I was with the buccaneers who, off the
Tortugas, captured the French ship, _Reine Marguerite_, all of whose
crew and passengers we put to death.  From there we ran to Port au
Spain, ravaging and plundering.  We captured the city, killing most of
the men and boys and carrying off the women and girls.  Off one of the
Bahama Cays we took a Spanish galleon, and although her people fought
stoutly, we made them finally walk the plank.  Other ships we captured
whose names I have forgotten.  We took great spoils, but the money was
accursed and was soon spent in wild living.

"I myself soon became a captain.  Down in the Caribbean Sea we won a
caravel and killed all on board, one hundred and twenty.  I lost my
ship in a tornado, but soon got another.

"Many more evil deeds we did that would make me weary with the telling.
We feared neither God nor man.

"At last, after ten years or more of butchery, the nations sent many
frigates in chase of us.  I fled to one of the islands and careened my
ship.  Tired, knowing I would be taken sooner or later, I made up my
mind that I would capture one more rich prize and then be done with my
wickedness.

"We captured the ship _Guadalquiver_.  The fight was desperate and the
decks ran with blood.  We took ...... thousand doubloons, many pearls
and jewels of price.

"I knew of an island off the beaten track where there was good hiding
to be found.  I took the cutter one night and went ashore to bury
treasure.  Two men with me mutinied and I killed them both.  And there
the booty is still, unless it has been taken away, which God forbid.

"Now, standing mayhap on the very brink of hell, I have made this
drawing of the island where the treasure is buried.  I give it freely
to Holy Mother Church, and beg that part be spent for candles to be
burned before the altar and for masses to be said for my unworthy soul.

           his

  _"Ramon_ (X) _Alvarez_.

           mark

"Attest, _Pablo Ximenes_, notary."


"Good work, Allen," commended Tyke, as the reader stopped.

"Very cleverly done," added Captain Hamilton.

Drew flushed with pleasure.

"Those old fellows were well called 'the scourges of the sea,' weren't
they?" he said.  "Now here!  There are just two things missing that it
would be the merest guess-work to supply," he added.  "One is the date.
We know the century, but the year is absolutely rubbed out.  The other
is the number of doubloons captured with his last prize.  That was in a
crease of the paper and had crumbled away."

"Yes," replied Captain Hamilton; "but neither is so very important.  Of
course, the later the date, the less time there has been for any one to
find the doubloons and take them away.  We have the names of some of
the ships that were captured though, and we might look the matter up in
some French or Spanish history and so get a clue to the date.

"As to the extent of the treasure, we'll find that out for ourselves
when we get it, if we ever do.  And if we don't get it, the amount
doesn't matter."

"It seems to be a pretty good-sized one, from the way the rascal speaks
about it," remarked Tyke.

"Plenty big enough to pay for the trouble of getting it," agreed
Captain Hamilton.

"Well, now that we know what the paper says, let's git right down to
brass tacks," suggested Grimshaw.  "In the first place, this particular
pirate, Alvarez, was evidently a Spaniard.  The language the paper is
written in proves that."

"Not necessarily," objected the captain.  "Spanish is the language
spoken in Trinidad, and even if the dying man were a Frenchman or an
Englishman, the notary would probably translate what he said into
Spanish.  Still, the first name, and probably the last, indicate
Spanish birth.  I guess we're pretty safe in considering that point
settled."

"But I thought most of the pirates, the leaders anyway, were French or
English," persisted Tyke.

"So they were," answered the captain; "but the Portuguese and Spaniards
ran them a close second.  As a matter of fact, those fellows
acknowledged no nationality and cut the throats of their own countrymen
as readily as any others.  The only flag they owed any allegiance to
was the skull and crossbones."

"But how comes it that this confession was made before a notary?" asked
Drew.  "I should think it would have been made verbally to a priest."

"Well," said the captain thoughtfully, "there are various ways of
accounting for that.  Alvarez may have been taken sick suddenly, and
the notary may have been nearest at hand.  Even if the priest had been
summoned, the sick man might have feared that he would die before the
priest got there and wanted to get it off his mind.  He didn't seem to
have much hope of heaven, from the way the paper reads."

"I don't wonder," put in Tyke, dryly.

"But whatever chance there was, he wanted to take it," finished the
captain.

"I wonder how the paper ever got into Manuel's hands," pondered Tyke.

"The churches and convents seemed to suffer most in those wild days,"
said the captain.  "They were sacked and plundered again and again.  It
might very well be that this paper was stolen by ignorant adventurers,
and in some way got into the hands of one of Manuel's ancestors and so
came down to him.  Probably most of them couldn't read and had no idea
of what the paper contained.  Could Manuel read?" he asked, turning to
Grimshaw.

"Why, yes; but rather poorly," answered Tyke.

"I've seen him sometimes in port looking over a Spanish newspaper,
moving his finger slowly along each line."

"That explains it then," said the captain.  "He was able to make out
just enough to guess that the paper and map referred to hidden
treasure, but he wasn't able to make good sense of it."

"I s'pose that was the reason he was always trying to git me interested
in his pirate stories," put in Tyke.  "He was kind o' feeling me out,
an' if I'd showed any interest or belief in it, he'd have probably
tried to git me to take a ship and go after it with him."

"Not a doubt in the world," agreed Captain Hamilton.

"Well, now we've looked at the matter of the paper from most every
side," remarked Tyke; "an' I guess we're all agreed that it looks like
a _bona fide_ confession.  We've seen, too, how it was possible for it
to git into the hands of Manuel.  Now let's see if we can make head or
tail of the map."

He brought out the paper from his safe and the three men crowded around
it.  Here, after all, was the crux of the whole matter.  By this they
were to stand or fall.  It booted little to know merely that the
doubloons were buried somewhere in the West Indies.  They might as well
be at the North Pole, unless they could locate their hiding place with
some degree of precision.

The dark, heavily shaded part in the center of the map was evidently
meant to mark the position of the island itself.  Quite as surely, the
light, undulating lines surrounding it were intended to show the water.

"There seems to be just one inlet," said Captain Hamilton, pointing to
an indentation that bit deeply into the dark mass of the island.

"Lucky there's even one," grunted Tyke.  "I've known many of those
picayune islands where there was no safe anchorage at all."

The island was irregular in shape and seemed to have an elevation in
the center.  But what most attracted their attention were three small
circles some distance in from the shore that seemed to indicate some
special spot.

"There's some writing alongside of these," announced Drew, after a
sharp scrutiny.  "If you'll hand me the reading glass I think I can
make it out."

The glass was quickly brought into use, and Drew stared at the writing
hard and long.

"'The Witch's Head.'  'The Three Sisters'," he translated.

"Sounds like a suffragette colony," muttered Tyke.

But Drew was too deeply engrossed with his task to notice the play of
fancy.

"Thirty-seven long paces due north from the Witch's Head.'
'Eighty-nine long paces due east from The Three Sisters,'" he went on.

"Now we're getting down to something definite!" exclaimed Captain
Hamilton.

"That's all," announced Drew.  "What do you suppose it means?"

"It can mean only one thing, it seems to me," said Tyke excitedly.
"It's pointing to the spot where the doubloons are buried."

"Yes," agreed the captain, "I should take it to mean that if you mark
off thirty-seven long paces north from the Witch's Head and eighty-nine
long paces east from The Three Sisters, the spot where those paths
cross would be the place to dig."

"Do you see anything on the map that would give a hint as to the
latitude and longitude?" asked Grimshaw anxiously.

"No," answered Drew.  "Wait a minute though," he added hastily.
"Here's something that looks like figures down in the lower left hand
corner.  Fifty-seven ....  No!  Sixty-seven-three is one, and
thirteen-ten is the other."

"That can only stand for longitude and latitude!" cried Tyke.  "Quick,
Allen, git down that Hydrographic Office chart.  That'll cover it."



CHAPTER IX

GETTING DOWN TO "BRASS TACKS"

In a moment the chart was taken down from its hook and spread out on
Tyke's big desk.  With shaking fingers the old man found the line of
longitude indicated on the pirate's map, and followed it down till he
came to the thirteenth degree of latitude.

"Thirteen-ten; sixty-seven-three," he muttered.  "Thirteen degrees, ten
minutes latitude; sixty-seven degrees, three minutes longitude.  There
it is!" and he made a mark with his pencil on the chart.  "Right down
there in the Caribbean, west of Martinique.  Glory Hallelujah!"

The old man was as frisky as a colt, and under the stimulus of
excitement the years seemed to drop away from him.

Captain Hamilton was quite as delighted, though he did not give so free
a rein to his emotions.

"Splendid!" he beamed.  "When we can actually get down to figures, it
begins to look like business.  Of course, there are innumerable small
islands down that way.  But it won't take much cruising around to try
them all."

Once more he studied the shape and the size of the island, and his
brows knitted almost to a scowl, so close was his concentration.

"That elevation in the middle looks something like a whale's hump,"
remarked Drew.

Captain Hamilton jumped as though he had been shot.

"That's it!" he cried.  "By Jove!  I know that island!  I remember
thinking that very thing about it one day some years ago when I was
coming up from Maracaibo.  My mate was standing by me at the time.  It
was just as sunset, and the island stood out plain against the sky.  I
remember saying to him that it looked to me just like the hump of a
whale.  Now we've located it sure.  I'll recognize it the minute my
eyes fall on it whether it's charted or not.  My boy, you're a wonder.
You've helped us out at every turn in this business."

"That he has," declared Tyke enthusiastically.  "Neither the paper nor
the map would have been any good without Allen to translate 'em.  I'm
proud of you, Allen."

The young man flushed with pleasure and murmured deprecatingly that it
was just a bit of luck that he happened to know Spanish.

"Luck!  'Tisn't luck that makes a man dig out a foreign lingo," said
Tyke.  "An', anyway, you've been smart at every point with your
suggestions, an' helped us out as we went along.  You started things
with your eagerness to look into Manuel's box an' you put the cap sheaf
on when you jest now gave Cap'n Rufe that last pointer.

"An' now," Tyke went on, when they had sobered down a little, "let's
get down to brass tacks.  There's jest one thing that remains to be
done, but it's a mighty big thing.  We feel pretty sure that there is a
treasure, an' we think we know where that treasure is.  Now the
question is, how are we going to git it?"

Drew experienced a feeling of dismay.  He had been so engrossed with
the preliminary work that he had hardly given a thought to the
practical problem involved.  He had taken it for granted that it would
be easy enough to get a ship to go after the pirate's hoard.

Now with Tyke's bald statement confronting him, a host of perplexities
sprang up to torment him.  Where were they to get the right kind of
ship?  How could they escape telling the captain of that ship just
where they were going and what they were going for?

But if the matter puzzled Tyke and his chief clerk, it bothered Captain
Hamilton not at all.  He lighted a fresh cigar, crossed his legs and
smiled broadly.

"That's an easy one," he remarked.  "Give me something hard."

Tyke looked at him in some surprise and Drew's face reflected his
bewilderment.

"Seems to me it's hard enough," grumbled Tyke.

"What do you mean?" asked Drew quickly.

"I mean," said the captain complacently, "that we'll make this voyage
in my schooner."

The two others jumped to their feet.

"Splendid!" cried Drew.

"Glory be!" ejaculated Tyke.

"The plan seems to suit you," smiled the captain.

"Suit us!" shouted Tyke.  "Why, it's jest made to order.  But how're
you going to git the owner's permission?  How do you know he'll be
willing to have the ship chartered for such a cruise?  An' how are we
going to keep the secret from him?"

"As I happen to be the chief owner, as well as the captain, I guess we
won't have any trouble on that score."

"Owner!" exclaimed Tyke, in astonishment.  "I hadn't any idee that you
had any int'rest in her outside of your berth as captain.  You've been
pretty forehanded to have got so far ahead as to own a craft like that."

"I haven't done so badly in the last few years," said the captain
modestly; "and as fast as I saved money I kept buying more stock in the
old girl.  Mr. Parmalee encouraged that idea in his captains.  He knew
human nature, and knew that when a man's own money was invested in the
deck under him he was going to be mighty careful of the ship's safety
and would have a personal interest in seeing that she was a money
maker.  The old man's dead now, but his son has inherited a third
interest in the _Bertha Hamilton_, while I hold the other two-thirds.
I renamed her when I got control of the bonny craft.  I hope some day
to buy out Parmalee's share and become the sole owner."

"You're a lucky man," congratulated Tyke warmly.  "It must be great
when you tread the plank to feel that you're not only boss for the time
being, but that you actually own her.  What is she like?  How big is
she?  And how much of a crew do you ship?"

"She's three stick, schooner rigged," replied the captain.  "A hundred
and fifty feet over all and carries a crew of about thirty.  Oh! she's
a sailing craft, Tyke.  She's not afoul with steam winches and the
like.  And she's a beauty," he added, his eyes kindling with pride.
"There are mighty few ships on this coast that she can't show a pair of
heels to, and she's a sweet sailer in any weather.  She stands right up
into the wind's eye as steady as a church and when it comes to reaching
or running free, I'd back her against anything that carries sails."

"But how about your other engagements?" suggested Grimshaw.  "Is she
chartered for a voyage anywhere soon?"

"That's another rare bit of luck," returned the captain.  "I had an
engagement to-day with Hollings & Company, who were thinking of having
me take a cargo for Galveston.  If I hadn't run plump into this
treasure business as I did, there isn't any doubt but I would have
closed with them to-day.  But now it's all off.  I'll see them this
afternoon and tell them they'll have to get somebody else."

Tyke sat down heavily in his chair and wagged his grizzled head
solemnly.

"It's beyond me," he said.  "It must be meant.  Here we might be weeks
or months before we could git a ship that suited us, if we got it at
all; but along comes Cap'n Rufe here with the very thing we want.  If I
was superstitious,"--before his stony stare they sat unwinking--"I'd
think for sure there was something in this more'n natural.  It can't
be, after all this, that we're going on a wild goose chase."

"Well," replied Captain Hamilton cautiously, "it may be that after all.
Things certainly have worked to a charm so far, but that doesn't prove
anything.  'There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip,' and this
may be one of them.  When all is said and done, it's a gamble.  For all
we know, the doubloons may have been taken away a hundred years ago,
and all we'll find after we get there may be an empty hole in the
ground.  But 'nothing venture, nothing have'; and with all the evidence
we have, I'm willing to take a chance."

"So am I!" cried Tyke heartily.  "Of course, we stand to lose a tidy
little sum if it should turn out to be a fluke.  There's the outfitting
to be done, the crew's wages to be paid, an' a lot of other expenses
that'll mount up into money.  But it's worth a chance, and if we lose
I'm willing to stand the gaff without whining."

It goes without saying that Drew heartily echoed these sentiments in
his mind, but he felt some delicacy about expressing them.  After all,
it was Captain Hamilton and his employer who would have to provide the
funds for the expedition and stand the loss if there were any.  He
himself would be called on to risk nothing.

And with this thought came another with the suddenness of a stab.  On
what was he building his hopes for a share in the profits of the
adventure?  After all, he was only Tyke's employee.  The very time he
was spending in unraveling this mystery belonged to Tyke and was paid
for by him.  He felt again the weight of his chains, and the air castle
he had built for Ruth's occupancy suddenly took on the iridescent
colors of a bubble.

"Well, now that we've got down to brass tacks as you say, Tyke, let's
get along to the next point," said the captain briskly.  "I don't
suppose you could come along with me?"

"You don't!" snorted Tyke.  "Well then, you're due for another guess.
You bet your binoculars I'm coming along.  I'd like to see anything
that would stop me!"

Drew's heart sank.  If Tyke were going, that would mean that he would
have to stay behind to look after the interests of the chandlery shop.

"But your business?" objected the captain.

"Business be hanged!" roared Tyke.  "It can go to Davy Jones, for all I
care.  Anyway, I can leave it in good hands.  But I'm going to have one
more sight of blue water before I turn up my toes for good, no matter
what happens.  An' I'm going to take Allen along with me!"

Drew was struck dumb for the moment and could only stare at the excited
old man.

"Yes!" repeated Tyke, "he's going to have his fling along with the rest
of us.  We ought to be back in a couple of months, if we have any kind
of luck.  Winters is a bright boy, and he can keep things going for a
while."

"That'll be fine," said the captain with enthusiasm.  "I'd like nothing
better than to have the two of you for messmates."

"But say!" broke in Tyke, as a thought suddenly occurred to him, "what
about that feller--Parmalee--who has a third int'rest in your craft?
Of course, he'll want to know, an' he'll have a right to know, why you
don't take this Galveston cargo an' why you're going on this cruise of
ours.  How are you going to git around that?"

"That is something of a problem," the captain replied slowly, "and
especially as he thought of going with me to Galveston for the sake of
his health.  He's lame and delicate, and the doctor told him that a sea
voyage was just what he needed to build him up.

"Of course," he went on, "I'm the principal owner of the ship, and what
I say, goes.  I could do this against his will, if I wished, although
of course in that case I'd be bound to see that he got as much profit
as he would have done if I'd taken the Galveston job."

"What kind of feller is this Parmalee?" asked Grimshaw cautiously.

"As fine a lad as you'd care to meet," answered the captain heartily.
"Friendly and good-hearted and white all through.  He's sickly in body,
but his head's all right.  And just because he is that kind, I don't
want to do anything that would hurt or offend him.

"But that's a matter that can wait," he continued.  "In any event it
won't affect our plans.  Either I'll fix the matter up with him
satisfactorily in a money way, or, if you think best, we'll let him
into the secret and take him along."

"Would that be safe?" inquired Tyke dubiously.

"Absolutely," affirmed the captain.  "He's a man of honor, and if he
promised to keep our secret, wild horses couldn't drag it from him.
I'd trust him as I would myself.  Maybe he'd like to come along with
us.  He's too rich to care anything about the doubloons, but he's
romantic, and he might like the fun of hunting for it."

"Well," said Tyke, "we'll have to leave that matter to you to settle as
you think best.  Any one you vouch for will be good enough for me."

"And now," said Captain Hamilton, "there's one thing more that we
haven't touched on yet.  I suppose we understand, Tyke, that you and I
put up the expenses of this expedition, fifty-fifty?"

"Sure thing," agreed Tyke.

"And if nothing comes of it, we simply charge it up to profit and
loss----'

"An' let it go at that," finished Tyke.  "We'll have had a run for our
money, anyhow."

"On the other hand," the captain continued, "if we find the treasure,
and it proves to be of any size, we'll first deduct the cost of the
trip, lay aside enough for Parmalee to make things right with him--he
may not want it, but we'll make him take it--and then divide what's
left into three equal shares?"

"Three!" Drew uttered the ejaculation, and the blood drummed in his
temples.

"That's right," assented Tyke placidly.  "One for you, one for me, and
the third for Allen."



CHAPTER X

CAPRICIOUS FORTUNE

Drew experienced a thrill of delight.  But he felt that he ought to
protest.

"I'm not putting up anything toward the expense," he said.  "If things
go wrong, you'll lose heavily.  I have nothing to lose and everything
to gain.  It doesn't seem the square thing."

"Let us do the worrying about that," smiled the captain.  "You've done
your fair share already toward this adventure.  We'll all share and
share alike."

"You bet we will," chimed in Tyke.  "There wouldn't be any cruise at
all if it hadn't been for you.  Who suggested searching the box?  Who
translated the paper and the map?  You've been the head and front of
the whole thing from the beginning."

"But----" began Drew.

"'But,' nothing," interrupted Tyke.  "Not another word.  Remember I'm
your boss."

And Drew, glad enough for once in his life to be bossed, became silent.
But the walls of his air castle began to grow more solid.

"How long will it be before you can have the schooner ready to sail?"
Tyke inquired, turning to the captain.

"Oh, in a week or ten days if we are pressed," was the response.  "It
won't take us more than that to get our supplies aboard and ship our
crew."

"The crew is an important matter," reflected Tyke.  "It won't do to
pick up any riffraff that may come to hand.  We want to git men that we
can trust.  Sailors have a way of smelling out the meaning of any
cruise that is out of the usual order of things, an' if there's any
trouble-makers in the crew who git a hint that we're out for treasure,
they'll cause mischief."

"They won't get any hint, unless some of us talk in our sleep," replied
the captain.  "I know where I can lay hands on quite a few of my old
crew, but I'll be so busy with other things that I'll have to leave the
picking of most of the men to Ditty."

"Ditty?" said Grimshaw inquiringly.

"He's my mate," explained the captain.  "Cal Ditty.  As smart a sailor
as one could ask for.  But that about lets him out."

"Why! don't you like him?" asked Tyke quickly.

"No, I can't say I do," replied the captain slowly.  "I've never warmed
toward the man.  There's something about him that repels me."

"Why don't you git rid of him then?"

"Well, you see it's like this," explained Captain Hamilton.  "He saved
Mr. Parmalee's life one time when the old man fell overboard, and
naturally Parmalee felt very grateful to him.  He promised him that he
should always have a berth on one of his ships as long as he lived.  Of
course, since the old man is dead, we could do as we liked about firing
Ditty, but young Parmalee feels that it's up to him to respect his
father's wishes.  So rather than have any trouble about it, I've kept
Ditty on.  But he's a lush when he's ashore, and I don't fully trust
him.  That may be unjust too, for he's always done his work well and
I've had no reason to complain."

"Well, anyway," warned Tyke, "I'd keep my weather eye peeled if I was
you.  When you feel that way about a man, there's usually something to
justify it sooner or later."

"Well, now, suppose I'm ready in a fortnight, how about you?" asked
Captain Hamilton.

"Oh, we'll be ready by that time," replied Tyke confidently.  "Of
course we've got this moving to do, but we're pretty well packed up
now, an' before a week is over we'll have everything shipshape in our
new quarters."

"We'll race each other to see who'll be ready first," laughed Captain
Hamilton.  "In the meantime, if you're not too rushed, come over and
take a squint at the _Bertha Hamilton_.  And if you don't see the
niftiest little craft that ever gladdened the eyes of a sailorman, you
can call me a swab."

"Where is she lying?" asked Drew.

"Foot of Franklin Street, North River.  You'll find me there most all
the time, but if you don't just go aboard and look her over anyway.
You'll be on her for some weeks, and you might as well get acquainted."

Tyke and Drew promised that they would, and, with a cordial handshake,
Captain Hamilton left the office.

Grimshaw carefully stowed the map and paper away in his safe, and then
turned to Drew.

"Named his craft after the daughter he spoke of, I reckon--_Bertha
Hamilton_.  Well, perhaps it'll bring us luck.  Cap'n Rufe is some
seaman, an' no mistake."  Then he added, with a quizzical smile: "Quite
a lot's happened since this time yesterday."

"I should say there had!" responded Drew.  "My head is swimming with
it.  It'll take some time for me to settle down and get my bearings.
I'm tempted to pinch myself to see if I'm not dreaming.  If I am, I
don't want to wake up.  You're certainly good to me, Mr. Grimshaw," he
added warmly.

Tyke waved aside Drew's thanks by a motion of his hand.

"Everything does seem topsy-turvy," he said.  "I thought that the old
hulk was laid up for good.  But now it seems she's clearing for one
more cruise.  An' it's all come about so queer like.  Now if I----"

Tyke checked himself and rose to his feet.

"Well, now we've got one more reason for hustling," he declared.
"You'll have your hands full from this time on, my boy, an' so will I.
You want to begin to break Winters in right away, so that he'll be able
to take charge of things while we're gone."

"How shall I explain it?" asked Drew.  "What shall I give as a reason
for the trip?"

Tyke reflected for a moment.

"Jest say that we're going for a cruise in Southern waters with an old
sea cap'n friend of mine.  Tell him that you've been sticking pretty
close to your desk, an' that I thought it would be a good thing for you
to go along.  Don't make any mystery of it.  Tell him that we'll be
back in a couple of months, an' that it's up to him to make good while
we're gone.

"One thing more," he added, as Drew turned to go.  "Tell him that I'm
going to raise his salary, an' he'll feel so good about that that he
won't waste much time thinking about us and our plans."

The recipe worked as Tyke had predicted, and after the first
expressions of surprise, Winters speedily became engrossed in his added
responsibilities and the increase in his pay, leaving Drew untroubled
by prying questions.

For the next three days all worked like beavers, and by nightfall of
the third day the moving had been effected and the stock arranged in
their new quarters.

"Guess we're going to be ready for that cruise before Cap'n Rufe is,"
grinned Tyke, as he surveyed the finished work.

But he exulted too soon.  That very evening, Drew received a telephone
message from St. Luke's hospital saying that Mr. T. Grimshaw had been
brought in there with an injured leg as the result of a street
accident.  He had requested that Drew be summoned at once.

Shocked and grieved, the young man hurried to the hospital.  He was
ushered at once into the private room in which Tyke was lying.

The leg had been bandaged, and Tyke had recovered somewhat from the
first shock of the accident.  He was suffering no special pain at the
moment, and was eagerly watching the door through which Drew would come.

The latter's heart ached as he saw how wan and gray the old man's face
looked.  But his indomitable spirit still shone in his sunken eyes, and
he tried to summon a cheery smile as Drew came near the bed.

"Well, Allen, my boy," he remarked, "I guess I crowed too soon this
afternoon.  I didn't think then that the old hulk would be laid up so
soon for repairs."

Drew expressed his sorrow, as he gripped Tyke's hand affectionately.

"How did it happen?" he asked.

"Cruising across the street in front of an auto," replied Tyke.
"Thought I had cleared it, but guess I hadn't.  I saw that one-eyed
feller standing there--

"What one-eyed fellow?" Drew asked, interrupting.

"Why, I don't know who he was.  Looked like a sea-faring man," returned
Tyke.  "Oh!  That does hurt!  Doctor said it would if I moved it."

"Don't move your leg, then," advised Drew.  "What about the one-eyed
man?"

"Why," repeated Tyke, reflectively, "I saw him on the curb jest as I
jumped to git out of the way of that auto.  I ain't as spry as I used
to be I admit; but seems to me I would have made it all right if it
hadn't been for that feller."

"What did he do to you?" asked the anxious Drew.  Of course, there was
more than one sailor in the world with only one eye; yet the young man
wondered.

"I saw his hand stretched out, an' I thought he was going to grab me.
But next I knew I was pushed right back an' the car knocked me flat.
B'fore I lost my senses, it seemed to me that that one-eyed swab was
down on his knees going through my pockets."

"Robbing you?" gasped Drew.

"Well--mebbe I dreamed it.  I've been puzzling over it ever since I've
been lying here.  I didn't lose my watch, nor yet my wallet, that's
sure," and Tyke grinned.  "But it certainly was a queer experience.
An' I'd like to know who that one-eyed feller is."

"How badly is your leg hurt?" asked Drew.

"Might have been worse," answered Tyke.  "Doctor says my knee's
wrenched an' the ligaments torn, but there's nothing that can't be
mended.  I'll be off my pins for the next month or two, they say.  So I
guess old Tyke won't be Johnny-on-the-spot when you dig up them
doubloons."

"Don't worry about that," protested Drew.  "The only important thing
now is that you should get well.  The treasure can wait.  We'll
postpone the trip until you get ready to go."

"No you won't!" declared Tyke energetically.  "You'll do nothing of the
kind!  You'll go right ahead and look for it, an' I'll lie here an'
root for you."

He was getting excited, and at this juncture the nurse interposed and
Drew had to go, after promising to come again the first thing in the
morning.

He sent a message on leaving the hospital to Captain Hamilton, and the
next morning they went in company to visit the patient.

They were delighted to learn that he was doing well.  There were no
complications, and it was only a matter of time before the injured leg
would be as well as ever.

The captain had been grieved to hear of his old friend's mishap.  He
expressed his entire willingness to postpone the trip till some time in
the future when Tyke could go along.  But the latter had been thinking
the matter over and was even more determined than he had been the night
before that his injury should not prevent the expedition going forward
as planned.

"One man more or less don't make any difference," he declared.  "Of
course, I'd set my heart on going with you, an' I ain't denying it's a
sore disappointment to have to lie here like some old derelict.  But it
would worry me a good deal more to know that I was knocking the whole
plan to flinders.  Our agreement still stands, except that I'll have to
be a silent partner instead of an active one.  Allen can represent me,
as well as himself, when you git to the island.  But I can do my part
in outfitting the expedition as well as though I was on my feet.  My
leg is out of commission, but my arm isn't, an' I can still sign
checks," and he chuckled.  "You fellers go right ahead now and git
busy."

There was no swerving him from his determination, and, although
reluctantly, they were forced to acquiesce.  The captain went ahead
with his preparations, and Drew redoubled his activities, as now he had
to do two men's work.  But his superb vitality laughed at work and he
became so engrossed in it that he forgot everything else.

Except Ruth Adams!

Consciously or sub-consciously, her gracious memory was with him always.

In the first rush of exultation that he felt when he found himself
admitted as an equal partner in the possible gains of the expedition,
he had overlooked the fact that it meant an absence, more or less
prolonged, from the city where he supposed Ruth Adams to be.  How many
things might happen in the interval!  Suppose in his absence some
fortunate man should woo and win her?  A girl so attractive could not
fail to have suitors.  He felt that the golden fruit he might get on
the expedition would turn to ashes if he could not lay it at her feet.

So, tossed about by a sea of alternate hopes and fears, the days went
by until but forty-eight hours remained before the time agreed upon for
sailing.

On Tuesday, Allen had occasion to confer with Captain Hamilton.  Up to
now, their meetings, when it had been necessary to see each other on
business connected with the trip, had been in the South Street office.
And, what with the multiplied demands on his time and his daily calls
on Tyke at the hospital, Drew had not yet visited the _Bertha
Hamilton_.  He had planned to do so more than once, but had found it
out of the question.  He told himself that he would have ample time to
get acquainted with the schooner from stem to stern when they had left
New York behind them and were heading for the island in the Caribbean.

But to-day the conference was to be aboard the _Bertha Hamilton_.  Drew
was forced to confess, on reaching the pier at which the schooner was
moored and on catching his first glimpse of her, that the captain was
justified in his enthusiasm.  She was indeed a beauty.  With her long,
graceful, gently curving lines, she seemed more like a yacht than a
merchant vessel.  She was schooner rigged, and, although of course the
sails were furled, the height of her masts indicated great
sail-carrying capacity.  Everything about her suggested grace and
speed, and Drew did not doubt that she could show her heels to almost
any sailing craft in the port.

As his appreciative eyes swept the vessel throughout its entire length
from stern rail to bowsprit, his admiration grew.  He was glad that
such a craft was to carry the hopes and fortunes of the treasure
hunters.  She seemed to promise success in advance.

He went over the plank and turned to go aft in search of the captain.
Then he stopped suddenly.  His heart seemed to cease beating for an
instant.  He found himself looking into the hazel eyes of the girl of
whom he had been dreaming day and night since he had first seen her
down on the East River docks!



CHAPTER XI

A DREAM REALIZED

For a moment Drew almost doubted his own eyesight.  But there was no
mistake.  There could be only one girl like her in the world, he told
himself.  She was wearing a simple white dress and her head was bare.
The bright sunshine rioted in her golden hair, and her eyes were
luminous and soft.  A wave of color mounted to her forehead as she came
face to face with Allen Drew.

She had turned the corner of the deck house, and they had almost
collided.  She stepped back, startled, and Drew collected his scattered
wits sufficiently to lift his hat and apologize.

"I--I beg your pardon," he stammered.  "I ought to have been more
careful."

"Oh, it was my fault entirely," she answered graciously.  "I shouldn't
have turned the corner so sharply."

What next he might have said Drew never knew, for just then there came
a heavy step and the sound of a jovial voice behind him, and Captain
Hamilton's hand was grasping his.

"So you did manage to come over and get a look at the beauty, did you?
What do you think of her?"

"The most beautiful thing I've ever seen!" answered Drew fervently.

He might have had a different beauty in mind from that which the
captain had, and perhaps this suspicion occurred to the girl, for the
flush in her cheek became slightly more pronounced.  But the
unsuspecting captain was hugely gratified at the tribute, though
somewhat surprise at its ardor.

A glance from the girl reminded the captain of a duty he had overlooked.

"I was forgetting that you two hadn't met," he said.  "Drew, this is my
daughter, Miss Hamilton.  Ruth, this is Mr. Allen Drew, the young man
I've been telling you so much about lately."

They acknowledged the introduction and for one fleeting, delicious
moment her soft hand rested in his.

So she was Captain Hamilton's daughter!  Her name was not Adams!  What
a blind trail he had been following!

But Drew's thoughts were interrupted by the girl's voice.

"We have met before, Daddy," Ruth said with a smile.  "Don't you
remember my telling you about the young man who came to my aid that day
when I went on an errand for you to the _Normandy_?  You remember--the
day I dropped the letters over the side?  That was Mr. Drew."

"You don't say!" exclaimed the captain.  "And here we've been seeing
each other every day or so and I've never thanked him.  Drew, consider
yourself thanked by a grateful father."

They all laughed, and then the captain put his hand on the young man's
shoulder.

"Come into the cabin and let's get that business settled.  You'll
excuse us, won't you, Ruth?" he added, turning to his daughter.  "We've
got a hundred things to do yet, and we can't afford to lose a minute."

Ruth smilingly assented, and Drew was dragged off, raging internally,
his only comfort being the glance she gave him beneath her lowered
eyelids.

He tried to listen intelligently to the captain's talk and give
coherent answers to his questions.  But bind himself down as he would,
his mind and heart were in the wildest commotion.

So she was Captain Hamilton's daughter!  Her name was not Adams!  The
thought kept repeating itself.

But he had found her now, he wildly exulted.  The search that might
have taken years--that even then might not have found her--had come to
an end.  He had been formally introduced to her.  He need no longer
worship from afar.  Her father was his friend.  He could see her, talk
to her, listen to her, woo her, and at last win her.  Poor fellow! he
was so hard hit he scarcely knew how to conduct himself.

"As I was saying," he heard the captain remarking in a voice that
seemed to be coming from a great distance, "young Parmalee has finally
made up his mind to come with us.  His doctor insists that the one
thing he needs just now is a sea voyage.  Not the kind that he might
get on an ocean steamer, with its formality and heavy meals and
chattering crowds, but the kind you can get nowhere but on a sailing
craft."

"I suppose you had to tell him just what we were going down there to
look for?" Drew forced himself to say.

"Yes, I did, after putting him on his word of honor never to breathe a
word about the object of the cruise to anybody.  I'd as lief have his
word as any one's else bond."

"What did he think about our chances in such an enterprise?"

"Now, there's a thing that rather surprised me," replied the captain.
"To tell the truth, I felt a little sheepish about mentioning the
doubloons to him, for I rather expected him to laugh.  But he took it
in dead earnest, and honestly thinks we have a chance."

"Is he perfectly willing, as far as his interest in the schooner goes,
that she shall be used for this purpose?" Drew queried.

"Perfectly.  In fact, he was enthusiastic about it.  Wouldn't even hear
of any compensation for the use of the vessel.  Said he expected to get
his money's worth in the fun he'd have."

"He seems to have a sportsmanlike spirit, all right," commented Drew,
with a smile.

"He surely has," confirmed the captain.  "I think you'll like him when
you come to know him."

"How old is he?"

"About your own age I should judge.  You're twenty-two, I think I've
heard you say?  Parmalee is perhaps twenty-three or twenty-four, but
not more than that."

"Have you got your full crew shipped yet?" Drew inquired, after a pause.

"Well, some of them are aboard," was the answer.  "We've got two dozen
in round numbers, but we still need five or six more men before we get
our full quota.  Ditty's ashore looking them up now."

"Do you think they're going to suit you?"

"Oh, I've seen better crews and I've seen worse," answered the captain.
"There are some of them whose faces I don't just like, but that's true
in every ship's company.  I guess they'll average up all right.

"There's one thing I want to show you," went on the captain, opening
the door of a closet built into the cabin.

Drew looked, and was surprised to see as many as a dozen rifles, as
well as several revolvers and a sheaf of machetes.

"Why, it looks like a small arsenal!" he exclaimed, in surprise.  "What
on earth will we want all these for?  One might think that we expected
to have a scrap ourselves with pirates on the Spanish Main."

"Not that exactly," said the captain laconically, "but in an enterprise
like ours it's wise to take precautions.  'Better to be safe than be
sorry.'  If it's known that we're after treasure, there may be sundry
persons who will take an unwholesome interest in our affairs."

"Do you mean members of the crew?"

"Not necessarily; though they may.  It's not likely, for it's probably
nothing but a turtle cay, but there may be people living on the island
where we're going who would seriously dispute our right to take
anything away and might try to stop us.  Few of those small islands are
inhabited; still, I'll feel a good deal more comfortable to know that
I've got these weapons stowed away where I can get them at a moment's
notice.  By the way, do you know how to shoot?"

"Yes," answered Drew.  "I belong to a rifle club, and I'm a fairly good
shot with either a pistol or a gun."

"A useful accomplishment," commented the captain.  "You never know when
it may come in handy."

Drew was wild to go on deck again to talk with Ruth.  He had scarcely
exchanged three sentences with her, and there were a thousand things he
wanted to say.  The time was getting so terribly short!  In two days
more he would be sailing away with her father, leaving her behind, and
months might elapse before he could see her again.

It was his eager desire just now to get her interested in him to some
extent, so that she would think of him sometimes while he was away; to
give her some hint of the tumult in his heart; to let her guess
something of the wealth of homage and adoration she had inspired.
Surely, if he could talk with her, she could not fail to see something
of what he felt.  And seeing, she might perhaps respond.

"I suppose you'll find it hard to leave your daughter behind?" he
ventured to say.

The captain looked at him in surprise.

"Bless your heart, I'm not going to leave her behind!" he exclaimed.
"She's going with us after those doubloons," and he laughed.



CHAPTER XII

A SATISFACTORY OUTLOOK

Drew was transported with delight, but he threw a certain carelessness
into his tone as he observed:

"I remember.  Does she know what we're going for?"

"Oh yes," replied her father.  "She and I are great chums, and I don't
keep anything from her.  She wanted to go with me anyway when I was
thinking of taking on a cargo for Galveston, and now that she knows
treasure is in the wind, she's more eager than ever.  You know how
romantic girls are, and she's looking forward with immense pleasure to
this unusual venture of ours."

Drew would have liked to ask whether the captain's wife were going too,
but he felt that he might be treading on delicate ground, so he used a
round-about method.

"I don't suppose there'll be any other women in the company?" he said
lightly.

"No," replied the captain, a little soberly.  "When my wife was alive
she used to go with me occasionally on my voyages.  The schooner's
named for her.  But she's been dead for three years now, and as Ruth is
the only child I have, she and I will be thrown together more closely
than ever.  She's finished school.

"But I'm keeping you," he added, rising from the table at which they
had been sitting; "and I suppose you've got more work on your hands
than you know how to attend to."

Drew rose with alacrity.

"I am pretty busy, for a fact," he assented.  "That accident to Mr.
Grimshaw has just about doubled my work.  But it isn't getting the
upper hand of me, and by the time we are ready to sail I'll have tied
all the lose ends."

"That's good.  By the way, speaking of Tyke, how did you find him this
morning?  I suppose you stopped in at the hospital on your way downtown
as usual?"

"Yes.  He's getting along in prime shape, but he's as sore as the
mischief because he can't go along."

"It's too bad," remarked the captain sympathetically.  "I'd have liked
to have him along, not only for his company, but for his shrewdness as
well.  He's got a level head on those shoulders of his, and his advice
at times might come in mighty handy.

"I won't go on deck with you, if you'll excuse me," continued the
captain, reaching out his hand for a farewell shake, "because I've some
work to do in connection with my clearance papers.  Good-bye."

The young man was perfectly willing to be deprived of the captain's
further company, much as he liked him.  The captain's daughter would
make a very good substitute.  He hoped ardently that she, unlike her
father, would have no business to keep her below.

His hopes were realized, for he caught sight of her leaning on the rail
and gazing out upon the river with as much absorption as though she had
never seen it before.

Possibly it did interest her.  Possibly, too, she had forgotten all
about the handsome young man who was in conference with her father in
the cabin.  Possibly she had not been stirred by the adoration in his
eyes or the agitation in his voice.  So many things are possible!

Anyway, despite a heightened color in her cheeks and a starry
brightness in her eyes, her start of surprise, as she looked up and saw
Drew standing beside her, was done very well indeed.

"So you conspirators have got through plotting already," she said
lightly.

"Yes," Drew laughed; "we've been going over every link of the chain and
have decided that it is good and strong.  Not that my judgment was
worth very much, I fear, this morning."

"Why not?" she asked demurely.

"Because I couldn't put my mind on it," he answered.  "My wits were
wool gathering.  I scarcely heard what your father said.  I'm glad he
isn't a mind reader."

"So few people are."

"I wish you were," he said earnestly.

She stiffened a little, and from that he took warning.  He must check
the impetuous words that strove for utterance.  He had but barely met
her.  How was she to know the feelings that had possessed him since
their casual encounter on the pier?  He must not frighten her by trying
to sweep her off her feet.  This citadel was to be captured, if at all,
by siege rather than by storm.  He would risk disaster by being
premature.

"Do you know," he said in a lighter tone, "that it was the surprise of
my life when I found that your name was Hamilton?"

"Why should it have been a surprise?" she asked.

"Because I had been thinking all along that your name was Adams."

"What made you think that?" she inquired in genuine surprise.

"W--why," he stammered, "I saw that name on one of the letters when I
picked up the packet from the grating of the boat."

She flushed.

"You mustn't think," he said earnestly, "that I tried to pry.  If I'd
done that, I'd have found out the address at the same time.  The name
just looked up at me, and I couldn't help seeing it."

His tone carried conviction, and she unbent.

"I can see how you made the mistake," she smiled.  "The letter on top
of the packet was addressed to a very dear friend whose first name
happens to be the same as mine.  She and I were great chums in boarding
school.  The letter had been sent to her by a girl we both knew and who
had been traveling abroad, and as Ruth knew I would be interested in
it, she sent it on for me to read."

"That explains the foreign stamp," he commented.

"You noticed that too, did you?" she asked, flashing a mischievous
glance at him.  "Really, you took in a lot at a single look.  You ought
to be a detective."

"I wish I were," said Drew, as he thought ruefully of the unavailing
plans he had made to find her.  "I'm afraid I'm a pretty bungling
amateur."

"Well, you were only half wrong, anyway," she answered.  "The first
part of the name was right."

"Yes," he admitted.  "But that didn't help me much.  The last one
didn't either for that matter.  There are so many Adamses in the city."

"How do you know?" she challenged.

He grew red.  "I--I looked in the directory," he confessed.

She thought it high time to change the subject.

"I suppose it will be quite a wrench to say good-bye to your people
here," she remarked.

"I haven't any," replied Drew.  "My father and my mother died when I
was small.  The only brother I have is out West, and I haven't seen him
for years.  I've been boarding since I came to the city, five years
ago."

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said with ready sympathy.  "I know something of
how you feel, because I lost my own mother three years ago.  I've been
in boarding school most of the time since then.  So I know what it is
to be without a real home.  Sometimes our only home was on shipboard."

"But it's always possible to make a real home," said Drew daringly.
Then he checked himself and bit his lip.  That troublesome tongue of
his!  When would he learn to control it?

She pretended not to have heard him.

"I have my father left," she went on; "and he's the best father in the
world."

"And the luckiest," put in Drew.

"He didn't want to take me on this trip at first," she continued, "but
the most of my relatives and friends are in California, and I knew I'd
be horribly lonely in New York.  So I begged and teased him to let me
go along, and at last he gave in."

"Of course he would," Drew said with conviction.  "How could he help
it?"

He knew that if she should ask him, Allen Drew, for the moon he would
promise it to her without the slightest hesitation.  He wished he dared
tell her so.

"Have you ever been to sea?" she asked.

"No," replied Allen.  "But I've always wanted to go."

And he told her of the longing that had sprung up in him when Captain
Peters had spoken so indifferently about the wonder-lands of mystery
and romance to which his bark was sailing.

While he talked, she was studying him closely, as is the way of girls,
without appearing to do so.  She noted the stalwart well-knit figure,
the handsome features--the strong straight nose, the broad forehead,
the brown eyes that sparkled with animation.

Drew was at his best when he talked, especially when his audience was
attentive, and there was no doubt that his audience of one was that.
She listened almost in silence only putting in a word now and then.

The thought came to him that he might be boring her, and he stopped
abruptly.

"If I keep on, you'll be talked to death," he said apologetically.

"Not at all," she protested.  "I've been intensely interested.  I'm
glad you feel so strongly about far-off places, because you're sure to
find plenty of romance where we are going."

"And treasure, the doubloons, too--don't forget the doubloons," he
laughed, lowering his voice and looking around to see that no one was
listening.

"And that too," she agreed.  "I suppose you've spent your share
already?" she bantered.

"Well, I'm not quite so optimistic as all that," he laughed.  "But I
really think we have a chance.  Don't you?"

"Indeed I do!" she exclaimed.  "I don't think it's a wild goose chase
at all!"

"I'm glad you feel that way about it."

"Even if things go wrong, we can't be altogether cheated," she went on.
"We'll have had lots of fun looking for our treasure.  Then, too, we'll
have had the voyage, and the schooner is a splendid sailing craft."

"She's a beauty," assented Drew.  "I don't wonder you're proud of her."

"It was really quite flattering that you men should tell me what you
were going for," she said mockingly.  "You're always saying that a
woman can't keep a secret."

"I don't feel that way," protested Drew.  "And to prove it, I'll----"

"Listen!" said Ruth hurriedly.  "Wasn't that my father calling me?"

"I didn't hear him," he replied, looking at her suspiciously.

"I think I'd better go and make sure," decided Ruth, moved by a sudden
impulse of filial duty.

"Let him call again," suggested Drew.

But Ruth was sure that this audacious young man had said quite enough
for one morning, and she held out her hand.

"Good-bye," she smiled.  "I know from what my father has told me that
you have an awful lot to do to get ready for the trip."

"Have I?" rejoined Drew.  "I'd forgotten all about them."

They laughed.

He held the soft hand and fluttering fingers a trifle longer than was
absolutely necessary, and after he released them he stood watching her
lithe figure until she disappeared.

When Drew left the _Bertha Hamilton_ he was treading on air and his
head was in the clouds.

His dream had come true--part of it at least.  He had found her, had
talked with her.  He was going to sail in the same ship with her.  They
would be thrown together constantly in the enforced intimacy of an
ocean voyage.  He would see her in the morning, in the afternoon, in
the evening.  And at last he would win her.  The last part of his dream
would be realized as surely as the first had been.

But when he got back to the shop he found that he was in a practical
world whose claims refused to be ignored.  Winters still needed a lot
of coaching, and the time was short.  The business must not suffer
while Drew was gone.

One thing lifted from his shoulders some of the weight of
responsibility.  Tyke would be at hand to superintend things and to
keep a check on Winter's inexperience.  To be sure, he would be in the
hospital for some time to come, but Winters could go to see him every
evening, and get help in his problems.

The _Bertha Hamilton_ was to sail at high tide on Thursday morning, and
by Wednesday night Drew had sent his baggage on board and had settled
the last item that belonged to Tyke's part of the contract.  Everything
from now on was in the hands of Captain Hamilton.

He went up to the hospital to report to his employer and to say
farewell.  They talked long and late, and both were strongly moved when
they shook hands in parting.  Who knew what might happen before they
met again?  Who knew that they ever would meet again?

"Good-bye, Mr. Grimshaw," said Drew.  "I hope you'll be as well and as
strong as ever when I get back."

"Good-bye, Allen," responded Tyke, with a suspicious moisture in his
eyes.  "I'll be rooting for you an' thinking of you all the time.
Good-bye an' good luck."

At daybreak the next morning Drew stepped on board the _Bertha
Hamilton_ and the most thrilling experience of his life had begun.



CHAPTER XIII

STORM SIGNALS

Naturally Drew's first thought as he glanced about the vessel, was of
Ruth.  But it was too early for the young lady to be in evidence.

Captain Hamilton met him with a cordial grasp of the hand, and took him
down to the room assigned to him for the voyage.  It was one of a
series of staterooms on either side of a narrow corridor aft, and,
although of course small, it was snug and comfortable.

There was a berth built against one side of the room.  Apart from a
tiny washstand, with bowl and pitcher, and a small swinging rack for a
few books, a chair completed the equipment of the stateroom.  The room
was immaculately neat and clean, and in a glass on the washstand was a
tiny bunch of violets.  Drew wondered who had put it there.

"Rather cramped," laughed the captain; "but we sailors have learned how
to live in close quarters, and you'll soon get used to it.  There are
some drawers built into the side where you can put your clothes, and
your trunk and bags can go under the berth."

Drew, with his eyes and thoughts on the flowers, hastened to assure the
captain that there was plenty of room.

"The stateroom next to yours, I had set aside for Tyke," said Captain
Hamilton regretfully.  "It's too bad that the old boy isn't coming.
The one on the other side is Parmalee's."

"I suppose he hasn't come aboard yet?" half questioned Drew, as he
unstrapped his bags, preparatory to putting their contents in the
drawers.

"Oh, yes he has," returned the captain.  "He came aboard last night.  I
suppose he's still asleep.  Haven't heard him stirring yet."

"What time do you expect to pull out?" asked Drew.

"Almost any minute now.  We've got everything aboard and we're only
waiting for the tug that will take us down the bay.  The wind's not so
fair this morning."

The captain excused himself and went on deck, and a little later,
having finished his unpacking, the younger man followed him.

The one person on whom his thoughts were centered was still invisible,
and Drew had ample time to watch the busy scene upon the schooner's
deck.  The members of the crew were hurrying about in obedience to
shouted orders, stowing away the last boxes and provisions that had
come on board.

The sails were in stops ready to be broken out when the vessel should
be out in the stream.  A snorting tug was nosing her way alongside.  A
slight mist that had rested on the surface of the water was being
rapidly dissipated by the freshening breeze, and over the Long Island
horizon the sun was coming up, red and resplendent.

Drew made his way along the deck until he came near the foremast, where
the mate was standing, bawling orders to the men.  He was a tall, spare
man, and in his voice there was a ring of authority, not to say
truculence, that boded ill for any man who did not jump when spoken to.
His back was toward Drew, but there was something about the figure that
seemed familiar.

While he was wondering why this was so, the man turned, and, with
amazement, Drew saw that the mate of the _Bertha Hamilton_ was the
one-eyed man with whom he had had his unpleasant encounter upon the
Jones Lane wharf.

There was a flash of recognition and plenty of insolence in that one
eye as it was turned upon Drew, but the next moment the man had turned
his back and was again bellowing at the sailors.

Drew had a feeling of discomfort.  He knew from the look the mate had
given him that he still cherished malice.  It was unpleasant to have a
discordant note struck at the very outset of the voyage.  And then,
there was the suspicious circumstance of Grimshaw's accident.  A
one-eyed seaman had figured in that.  Should he go to Captain Hamilton
and report his vague suspicions of this fellow?

He had no time to pursue the thought, however, for at that moment he
heard the clang of a gong, and an ambulance came dashing out on the
pier just as the moorings of the _Bertha Hamilton_ were about to be
cast off.

Drew's first thought was that an accident had happened, and he hurried
over to the starboard rail.  The ambulance had stopped, and two
white-clad attendants were helping out a man who had been reclining on
a mattress within.  They stood him on one foot while they slipped a
pair of crutches under his arms.  The man lifted his head, and, with a
yell of delight, Drew leaped to the wharf.

It was Tyke Grimshaw!  Pale and haggard the old man looked, but his
indomitable spirit was still in evidence and his eyes twinkled with the
old whimsical smile.

"Hurrah!" yelled Drew.

The cry was echoed by Captain Hamilton, who had likewise leaped from
the taffrail to the pier.

"Didn't expect to see me, eh?" queried Tyke, while the ambulance men
stood by, grinning.

"No, I didn't," roared Captain Hamilton, gripping him by one hand while
Drew held the other.  "But I can't tell you how glad I am that you made
up your mind to come."

"We might have known you'd get here if you had to walk on your hands,"
cried Drew jubilantly.

"Had to fight like the mischief to get them doctors to let me come,"
chortled Tyke, evidently delighted by the warmth of the greeting.
"They told me I was jest plumb crazy to think of it.  But after Allen,
here, left me last night I got so lonesome an' restless there was no
holding me.  Seemed like I'd go wild if I'd had to stay in that
sick-bay while you fellers were sniffing the sea air.  So I jest reared
up on my hind legs, as you might say, an' they had to let me come."

"And you got here just in the nick of time," said the captain.  "Ten
minutes more and we'd have been slipping down the river."

Carefully supporting him on either side, for he found the unaccustomed
crutches awkward, Captain Hamilton and Drew helped him on board the
vessel and seated him comfortably in a deck chair.

Tyke drew in great draughts of the salt-laden air and his eyes
glistened as he scrutinized the lines and spars of the schooner, noting
her beauties with the expert eye of the sailor.

"Great little craft," he said approvingly.  "I wouldn't have missed
sailing on her for the world.  A cruise in a tidy schooner like this
will do me more good than them blamed doctors could if they fiddled
around me for a year."

"How is your leg feeling now?" asked Drew solicitously.

"Better already," grinned Tyke.  "In less'n a week I'll be chucking
these crutches overboard.  See if I don't."

Suddenly Tyke fell silent.  Drew turned swiftly and saw that the old
man was staring under bent brows at the mate of the schooner.

"Who's that?" Tyke finally demanded.

"That's Ditty--my mate," said Captain Hamilton.  "I told you he was no
handsome dog, didn't I?"

"Ugh!" grunted Tyke, and said no more.

Before Drew could ask the question that was on the tip of his tongue, a
musical voice at his elbow said:

"Good morning, Mr. Drew."

He was on his feet in a flash, holding out his hand in eager greeting.
"I was wondering when I was going to see you!" he exclaimed.

"You'll probably see too much of me before this voyage is over," Ruth
said demurely.  "I expect you men will be frightfully bored with one
lone woman hovering around all the time."

Drew's eyes were eloquent with denial.

"Impossible!" he said emphatically.  Then he became conscious that Tyke
was looking on with some curiosity.

"Oh, I forgot," he said.  "Mr. Grimshaw, this is Miss Hamilton, Captain
Hamilton's daughter.  Miss Hamilton, this is Captain Grimshaw."

Ruth held out her hand, but Tyke deliberately drew her to him and
kissed her on the cheek.  She extricated herself blushingly.

"An old man's privilege, my dear," said Tyke placidly.  "An' I've known
your father going on thirty years."

Drew wished that it were a young man's privilege as well.

"So you're Rufus Hamilton's daughter," went on Tyke.  "My, my!  An'
pooty as a picture, too."

Ruth flushed a little at so open a compliment, but smiled at Grimshaw
and said brightly:

"I'm so glad you can come with us.  I was dreadfully sorry to hear of
your accident.  It would have been horrid for you to stay cooped up in
that old hospital.  Father has told me how much you had counted on the
trip."

"The old craft isn't a derelict jest yet," replied Tyke complacently.
"I'm afraid I'll be something of a nuisance till I get steady on my
pins again, but I'll try not to be too much in the way."

"We'll all be glad to wait on you, I'm sure," protested Ruth, with
another smile that won Grimshaw completely.

"I'll go down now and see how Wah Lee is getting along with breakfast,"
the girl continued.  "I've no doubt you folks will be hungry enough to
do justice to it."

"This air would give an appetite to a mummy," declared Drew.

"I'm some sharp set myself," admitted Tyke, as the fragrance of
steaming coffee was wafted to him from the cook's galley.  "Jest the
very thought of eating in a ship's cabin again makes me hungry."

Drew's eyes followed the girl as she disappeared down the companionway,
and when he looked up it was to find Tyke regarding him amusedly.

"So that's the way the wind blows, is it?" the old man chuckled.

"Nonsense!" disclaimed Drew, although conscious that his tone did not
carry conviction.  "She's a very nice girl, but this is only the second
time I've met her."  To avoid further prodding, he added: "I'll go down
to your room and see if that Jap has put things shipshape for you."

As he went to the room reserved for Grimshaw, he met Ruth just coming
out of it.  Her skirts brushed against him in the narrow corridor and
he tingled to the finger tips.

"I've just put a few flowers in Mr. Grimshaw's room," she said.  "They
seem to make the bare little cubby holes a bit more homey, don't you
think?  I thought they would be a sort of welcome."

Drew agreed with her, but the hope he had been hugging to his breast
that he had been singled out for special attention vanished.

"I was foolish enough to think that I had them all," he confessed with
a sheepish grin.

"What a greedy man!" she laughed.  "No, indeed!  Did you think I was
going to overlook my father or Mr. Parmalee?  You men are so conceited!"

As though the mention of his name had summoned him, the door of a
neighboring stateroom opened just then and a young man stepped out.  He
smiled pleasantly as his gaze fell on Ruth.

"Good morning, Miss Ruth.  I'm incorrigibly lazy, I'm afraid," he
remarked, "or else this good air is responsible for my sleeping more
soundly than for a long time past."

Ruth assured him that it was still early.

"If you are lazy, the sun is too," she said, "for, like yourself, it
has just risen."

"That makes him lazier," returned Parmalee, "for he went to rest a good
deal earlier than I did last night."

Ruth laughed, and, after introducing the young men to each other, she
vanished in the direction of the captain's cabin.

The pair exchanged the usual commonplaces as they moved toward the
companionway.  Parmalee walked with some difficulty, leaning on a cane,
and Drew had to moderate his pace to keep in step.  When they emerged
into the full light of the upper deck, Drew had a chance to gain an
impression of the man who was to be his fellow-voyager.

Lester Parmalee was fully four inches shorter than the trifle over six
feet to which Drew owned, and his slender frame gave him an appearance
of fragility.  This impression was heightened by the cane on which he
leaned and the lines in his face which bespoke delicate health.  His
complexion was pale, and seemed more pallid because of its contrast
with a mass of coal black hair which overhung his rather high forehead.
His nose and mouth were good and his eyes dark and keenly intelligent.
Some would have called him handsome.  Others would have qualified this
by the adjective romantic.  All would have agreed that he was a
gentleman.

His physical weakness was atoned for to a great extent by other
qualities that grew on one by longer acquaintance.  His manners were
polished, his mind trained and well stored.  He was a graduate of
Harvard and had traveled extensively.  His inherited wealth had not
spoiled him, although it had, perhaps, given him too much
self-assurance and just a shade of superciliousness.

The two young men as they chatted formed a violent contrast.  If Drew
suggested the Viking type, Parmalee would, with equal fitness, have
filled the role of a troubadour.  The one was powerful and direct, the
other suave and subtle.  One could conceive of Drew's wielding a broad
axe, but would have put in Parmalee's hands a rapier.  Each had his own
separate and distinct appeal both to men and women.

Drew introduced Parmalee to Grimshaw.  Then the captain came along, and
all four were engaged in an animated conversation when Namco, the
Japanese steward, announced:

"Lady say I make honorable report: Bleakfast!"

"And high time for it!" cried the captain.  "I'm as hungry as a hawk
and I guess the rest of you are too.  We'll go down and see what that
slant-eyed Celestial has knocked up for us."

Wah Lee had "done himself proud" in this initial meal, which proved to
be abundant, well-cooked and appetizing.

All were in high spirits as they gathered about the table.  Ordinarily,
the mate would have formed one of the company while the second officer
stood the captain's watch.  But the narrow quarters and the unusual
number of passengers on this trip made it necessary that the mate
should eat after the captain and his guests had finished.

The captain sat at the head of the table while Ruth presided over the
coffee urn at the foot.  Tyke sat at the captain's right, and the two
young men were placed one on either side of their hostess.

She wore a fetching breakfast cap, which did not prevent a rebellious
wisp or two of golden hair from playing about her pink ears.  Her
cheeks were rosy, her eyes sparkling, and her demure little housewifely
air as she poured the coffee was bewitching.  The excitement of the
start, the novelty of the quest on which they had embarked, and the
presence of two young and attentive cavaliers put her on her mettle,
and she was full of quaint sayings and witty sallies.

Her father gazed on her fondly, Tyke beamed approvingly, and Parmalee's
admiration was undisguised.  As for Drew, the havoc she had already
made in his heart reached alarming proportions.  He found himself
picturing a home ashore, where every morning that face would be
opposite to him at the breakfast table with that ravishing dimple
coming and going as she smiled at him.

"How do you like your coffee?" she asked him, her slender fingers
hovering over the cream jug and the sugar tongs.

"Two lumps of cream and plenty of sugar," he responded.

She laughed mischievously.

"We always try to please," she said; "but really our cream doesn't come
in lumps."

He reddened.

"I surely did get that twisted," he said a little sheepishly.  "Suppose
we put it the other way around."

"I guess your mind was far away," she jested.  "You must have been
thinking of the treasure."

"That's exactly right," he returned, looking into her eyes as he took
the cup she handed him.  "I was thinking of the treasure."



CHAPTER XIV

BEGINNING THE VOYAGE

Ruth bent a little lower over her coffee urn to hide the additional
flush that had come into her cheeks, and after that she guided the
conversation to safer ground and took care to leave no opening for
Drew's audacity.

The meal over, all went on deck.  The captain took charge and sent
Ditty and Rogers, the second officer, below to get breakfast.  The crew
had already breakfasted.

Tyke had been carefully helped up by Drew and Captain Hamilton and
placed in a chair abaft the mizzenmast, where his keen old eyes could
delight themselves with the activities of the crew.  Ruth had fussed
around him prettily with cushions and a rest for his injured leg, until
the veteran vowed that he would surely be spoiled before the voyage was
over.

They had passed the Battery by this time, and were moving sluggishly
with the tide.  Behind them stretched the vast metropolis, with its
wonderful sky-line sharply outlined by the bright rays of the morning
sun.  The Goddess of Liberty held her torch aloft as though to guide
them in their venture.  At the right the hills of Staten Island smiled
in their vernal beauty, while at the left, white stretches of gleaming
beach indicated the pleasure resorts where the people of the teeming
city came to play.

Ditty had come on deck again.  Unpleasant though his countenance was,
and as suspicious as Drew was of him, it was plain that the mate of the
_Bertha Hamilton_ was a good seaman.

He looked now at Captain Hamilton for permission to make sail.  The
latter signed to him to go ahead.  Useless to pay towage with a
favoring wind and flowing tide.

Ditty bawled to the crew:

"Break her out, bullies!  H'ist away tops'ls!"

The halyards were promptly manned.  One man started the chorus that
jerked the main topsail aloft.

  "Oh, come all you little yaller boys
    An' roll the cotton _down_!
  Oh, a husky pull, my bully boys,
    An' roll the cotton _down_!"


In a trice, it would seem, her three topsails were mastheaded and the
foretopsail laid to the mast.  The fore-braces came in, hand over hand,
the hawsers were tossed overboard and the tug fell astern.  The _Bertha
Hamilton_ leaned gracefully to the freshening gale, and was shooting
for the Narrows.

"It is perfectly beautiful, isn't it?" cried Ruth.

"Magnificent," agreed Drew.

"It's the finest harbor in all the world, to my mind," declared
Parmalee.

"I wonder when we'll see it again," mused Ruth, with a touch of
apprehension in her voice.

"Oh, it won't be long before we're back," prophesied Parmalee.

"And when we do come back, we'll have enough doubloons with us to buy
up the whole city," joked Drew.

"Don't be too sure of that," smiled Ruth.  "Those who go out to shear
sometimes come back shorn."

"We simply can't fail," asserted Drew.  "Especially as we're taking a
mascot along with us."

"The mascot may prove to be a hoodoo," laughed Ruth.  "I've thought
more than once that I shouldn't have teased my father to take me along."

"He'd have robbed the whole trip of brightness if he had refused,"
affirmed Parmalee.

"It's nice of you to say that," returned Ruth.  "But if any serious
trouble should come up, fighting or anything of that kind, you might
find me terribly in the way."

"We'd only have an additional reason to fight the harder," declared
Drew.  "No harm should come to you while any of us were left alive.
But really, there's nothing to worry about.  This trip is going to be a
summer excursion."

"Nothing more serious to fear than the ghosts of some of the old
pirates who may be keeping guard over their doubloons and may resent
our intrusion," said Parmalee.

"I'm not afraid of ghosts," cried Ruth.  "It's only creatures of flesh
and blood that give me any worry."

"If anything should come up," said Drew, "we're in pretty good shape to
give the mischief-makers a tussle.  Your father has a good collection
of weapons down in the cabin."

"Yes," assented Ruth; "and I know how to load and handle a revolver."

Drew put up his hands in pretended fright.

"Don't shoot!" he pleaded.

Thus with jest and compliment and banter the time passed until they
were off Sandy Hook.  The breeze, while brisk, was light enough to
warrant carrying all sails, and a cloud of canvas soon billowed from
aloft.  One after another the sails were broken out on all three masts
until they creaked with the strain.  The _Bertha Hamilton_ heeled over
to port, and with every stitch drawing before a following wind gathered
way until she boomed along at a gait that swiftly carried her out of
sight of land.  Before long the Sandy Hook Lightship sank from view
astern, and nothing could be seen on any side but the foam-streaked
billows of the Atlantic.

When the schooner was fairly under way and the watches had been chosen,
the captain gave her into charge of the mate and rejoined Tyke.

That grizzled veteran was enjoying himself more than he had done at any
time for the last twenty years.  As the old warhorse "sniffs the battle
from afar," so he already anticipated with delight the coming battle
with wind and waves.

"Well, Tyke, what do you think of her?" the captain asked.

"She's a jim dandy!" ejaculated Tyke enthusiastically.  "She rides the
waves like a feather.  Jest slips along like she was greased."

"She's a sweet sailer," declared the captain proudly.  "Just wait till
you see how she manages against head winds.  Even when she's jammed up
right into the wind, she's good for six knots, and with any kind of a
fair gale, she's good for ten or twelve."

"With ordinary luck, then, we ought to git to the Caribbean in ten or
twelve days," said Tyke.

"Unless we meet up with something that strips our spars," returned the
captain confidently.  "Of course, a hurricane might knock us out in our
calculations.  Taking it by and large though, and allowing for the time
we may have to cruise around before we find the island we're looking
for, I'm figuring that we'll make Sandy Hook again in two months all
right."

"Better count on three and be sure," cautioned Grimshaw.  "You know it
isn't a matter of simply finding the island, staying there mebbe a day
or two an' coming away again.  This is more'n jest sending a boat's
crew ashore for water.  We may be a month hunting around and trying to
find the pesky thing."

"And even then we may not find it," laughed the captain.

"Well, it'll be some satisfaction if we even find the hole it used to
be in," said Tyke.  "That'll show that we weren't altogether fools in
taking the paper an' map for gospel truth."

"I don't know that there'd be much comfort in that," returned Captain
Hamilton.  "If you're hungry it doesn't do much good to look at the
hole in a doughnut.  There isn't much nourishment except in the
doughnut itself," and he grinned over his little joke.

The wind held fair for the rest of the day, and the schooner kept on at
a spanking gait, reeling off the miles steadily.  By night the
increasing warmth of the air showed how rapidly the South was drawing
near.

Ruth was a good sailor and felt no bad effect from the long ocean
swells as the ship ploughed over them.  Drew, too, who had no sea-going
experience at all and had inwardly dreaded possible sea-sickness, was
delighted to find that he was to be exempt.

Parmalee, however, although he had traveled extensively, had never been
immune from paying tribute to Neptune.  He ate but little at the
noon-day meal, and when the rest gathered around the table at night he
did not appear at all.

Drew felt that he should be sympathetic, and, to do him justice, he
tried to be.  He visited Parmalee in his cabin, condoled with him, and
offered to be of any possible service.  But Parmalee wanted nothing
except to be let alone, and, with the consciousness of duty done, Drew
left him to his misery and joined the rest at the table.

"I'm awfully sorry for poor Mr. Parmalee," remarked Ruth, as she poured
Drew's tea.

"Poor fellow," chimed in the young man perfunctorily.

"You don't say that as though you meant it at all," objected Ruth
reprovingly.

"What do you expect me to do?" laughed Drew.  "Weep bitter tears?  I'll
do it if you want me to.  In fact, I'll do anything you want me to
do--jump through a hoop, roll over, play dead, anything at all."

"I didn't know you had so many accomplishments," remarked Ruth, with a
touch of sarcasm.

"Oh, I'm a perfect wonder," replied the young man.  "There isn't
anything I can't do or wouldn't do--for you," he added, dropping his
voice so only she could hear it.

Ruth, however, pretended not to hear, and addressed her next remark to
Grimshaw.

"How do you like Wah Lee's cooking?" she asked.

"Fine," replied Tyke.  "There's no better cooks anywhere than the
Chinks.  Want to look out that he don't slip one over on you, though,
if the victuals run short.  Might serve up cat or rat or something of
the kind an' call it pork or veal.  An' he'd probably git away with it,
too."

Ruth gave a little shudder.

"Cat might not be so bad at that," remarked her father.  "Down in
Chili, for instance, they haven't any rabbits and they serve up cats
instead.  'Gato piquante' they call it, which means savory cat.  I've
never tasted it, but I know those who have, and they say that it makes
the finest kind of stew."

"Why not?" commented Drew, with a grin.  "Catfish is good.  So is
catsup.  Why not cat stew?"

"I think you men are just horrid!" exclaimed Ruth.  "Taking away poor
Wah Lee's character like this behind his back."

"Well, I guess we won't have to worry about his falling from grace on
this cruise," laughed her father.  "We're too well stocked up for him
to be driven to try experiments."

When they went up on deck, the moon had risen.  Its golden light tipped
the waves with a sheen of glory and turned the spray into so much
glittering diamond dust.  Under its magic witchery, the ropes and
rigging looked like lace work woven by fairy fingers.

The crew were grouped up in the bow, and one of them was playing a
concertina.  Mr. Rogers paced the deck, casting a look aloft from time
to time to see that the sails were drawing well.  The wind had a slight
musical sound as it swept through the rigging, and this blended with
the regular slapping of the water against her sides as the _Bertha
Hamilton_ sailed steadily on her course.

The air was the least bit chilly, and this gave Drew an excuse for
tucking Ruth cozily into the chair he had placed in a sheltered
position behind the deckhouse.  His fingers trembled as he drew the
rugs and shawls around her.  She snuggled down, wholly content to be
waited on so devotedly, and perhaps--who knows?--sharing to some degree
the emotion that made the man's pulse race so madly.



CHAPTER XV

THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER

Drew placed his own chair close beside Ruth's--as close as he dared.
And they talked.

There was something in the witchery of that moonlit night that seemed
to remove certain restraints and reserves imposed by the cold light of
day, and they spoke more freely of their lives and hopes and ambitions
than would have been possible a few hours earlier.

The girl told of the main events that had filled her nineteen years of
life.  Her voice was tender when she spoke of her mother, whose memory
remained with her as a benediction.  After she had been deprived by
death of this gentle presence, she, Ruth, had stayed with relatives in
Santa Barbara and Los Angeles during her vacations and had passed the
rest of her time at boarding school.  She had neither sister nor
brother, and she spoke feelingly of this lack, which had become more
poignant since her mother's death.  She had felt lonely and restless,
and the bright spots in her life had been those which were made for her
by the return of her father from his voyages.

Of her father she spoke with enthusiasm.  Nobody could have been more
thoughtful of her comfort and happiness than he had been.  The fact
that they were all that were left of their family, had made them the
more dependent for their happiness on each other, and the affection
between them was very strong.

It had been her dearest wish that he should be able to retire from the
sea entirely, so that she could make a home for him ashore.  As far as
means went, she supposed he was able to give up his vocation now if he
chose.  But he was still in the prime of health and vigor, and she had
little doubt that the sea--that jealous mistress--would beckon to him
for years to come.

This time she could not bear being left behind, and as the voyage
promised to be a short one, he had yielded to her persuasions to be
taken along.

Drew listened with the deepest sympathy and interest, watching the play
of emotion that accompanied her words and made her mobile features even
more charming than usual.

Encouraged by her confidences, he in turn told her of his experiences
and ambitions.  He could scarcely remember his parents, and to this
degree his life had been even more lonely than her own.  He had come to
the city from an inland town in New York State when he was but little
over seventeen, and had secured a position in the chandlery shop.  He
had worked hard and had gained the confidence and good will of his
employer, of whose goodness of heart he spoke in the warmest terms.
His own feeling for Tyke, he explained, was what he imagined he would
have felt for his father if the latter had lived.  He had felt that he
was progressing, and had been fairly content until lately.

But now--and his voice took on a tone that stirred Ruth as she
listened--he had been shaken entirely out of that contentment.  He had
suddenly realized that life held more than he had ever dreamed.  There
was something new and rich and vital in it, something full of promise
and enchantment, something that he must have, something that he would
give his soul to get.

He had grown so earnest as he talked, so compelling, his eyes so glowed
with fire and feeling, that Ruth, though thrilled, felt almost
frightened at his intensity.  She knew perfectly well what he meant,
knew that he was wooing her with all his heart and soul.  And the
knowledge was sweet to her.

But he had come too far and fast in his wooing, and she was not yet at
the height of her own emotion.  To be sure, he had attracted her
strongly from the very first.  From the day when she had met him on the
pier, she had thought often of the gallant young knight who had aided
her in her emergency, and his delight when he had found her on her
father's ship had been only a shade greater than her own.

But, although her heart was in a tumult and she secretly welcomed his
advances, she did not want to be carried off her feet by the sheer
ardor of his passion.  She wanted to study him, to know him better, and
to know her own feelings.  She was not to be won too easily and
quickly.  An obscure virginal instinct rather resented the excessive
sureness of this impetuous suitor.

So she roused herself from the soft languor into which the moonlight
and his burning words had plunged her, and rallied, jested and parried,
until, despite his efforts, the conversation took a lighter tone.

"You've made quite an impression on daddy," she laughed.  "He thinks it
was wonderfully clever of you to get at the meaning of that map and the
confession as quickly as you did."

"I'm glad if he likes me," Drew answered.  "I may have to ask him
something important before long, and it will be a good thing to stand
well with him."

"He'll be on your side," she replied lightly.  "I wouldn't dare tell
you all the nice things he has said about you.  It might make you
conceited, and goodness knows----"

"Am I conceited?" he asked quickly.

"All men are," she answered evasively.

"I don't think I am," he protested.  "As a matter of fact, I'm very
humble.  I find myself wondering all the time if I am worthy."

"Worthy of what?" she asked.

"Worthy of getting what I want," he answered.

"The doubloons?" she asked mischievously.  "Dear me!  I can hardly
imagine you in a humble role.  To see the confident Mr. Drew in such a
mood would certainly be refreshing."

"Don't call me Mr. Drew," he protested.  "It sounds so formal.  We're
going to be so like one big family on this ship for the next few weeks
that it seems to me we might cut out some of the formality without
hurting anything."

"What shall I call you then?" she asked demurely.

"There are lots of things that I should like to have you call me if I
dared suggest them," he replied.  "But for the present, suppose you
call me Allen."

"Very well, then--Allen," she conceded.

His pulses leaped.

"I don't suppose I'd dare go further and beg permission to call you
Ruth?" he hazarded.

"Make it Miss Ruth," she teased.

"No, Ruth," he persisted.

"Oh, well," she yielded, "I suppose you'll have to have it your own
way.  It's frightful to have to deal with such an obstinate man as you
are, Mr.--Allen."

"It's delightful to have to deal with such a charming girl as you are,
Miss--Ruth."

They laughed happily.

"It's getting late," she said, drawing herself up out of the warm nest
that Drew had made for her, "and I think I really ought to go below."

"Don't go yet," he begged.  "It isn't a bit late."

"How late is it?" she asked.

He drew out his watch and looked at it in the moonlight.

"I told you it wasn't late," he declared, putting the watch back in his
pocket.

"You don't dare let me look at it," she laughed.

"It must be fast," he affirmed.

"You're a deceiver," she retorted.  "Really I must go.  You wouldn't
rob me of my beauty sleep, would you?"

"Leave that to other girls," he suggested.  "You don't need it."

"You're a base flatterer," she chided.

Drew reluctantly gathered up her wraps, and, with a last lingering look
at the glory of the sea and sky, they went below.

It was not really necessary for him to take her hand as they parted for
the night, but he did so.

"Good night, Ruth," he said softly.

"Good night--Allen," she answered in a low voice.

His eyes held hers for a moment, and then she vanished.

It was the happiest night that Drew had ever known.  He had opened his
heart to her--not so far as he would have liked and dared, but as far
as she had permitted him.  And in the soft beauty of her eyes he
thought that he had detected the beginnings of what he wanted to find
there.  And she had permitted him to call her "Ruth."  And she had
called him "Allen."  How musical the name sounded, coming from her lips!

It was fortunate that he had the memory of that night to comfort him in
the days that followed.

Ruth was more distracting than ever the next morning when she appeared,
fresh and radiant, at the breakfast table.  But in some impalpable way
she seemed to have withdrawn within herself.  Perhaps she felt that she
had let herself go too far in the glamour of the moonlight.

She was, if anything, gayer than before, full of bright quips and
sayings that kept them laughing, but she distributed her favors
impartially to all.  And she was blandly unresponsive to Drew's efforts
to monopolize her attentions.

It was so all through that day and the next.  There was nothing about
her that was stiff or repellant, but, nevertheless, Drew felt that she
was keeping him at arm's length.  It was as though she had served
notice that she would be a jolly comrade, but nothing more.

Poor Drew, unused to the ways of women, could not understand her.  He
tried again and again to get her by herself, in the hope that he might
regain the ground that seemed to be slipping away from under him.  But
she seemed to have developed a sudden fondness for the society of her
father and Grimshaw, and she managed in some way to include one or both
of them in the walks and chats that Drew sought to make exclusive.

Then, too, there was Parmalee.

That young man fully recovered from his seasickness after the third day
out and resumed his place in the life of the ship.

Ruth had been full of solicitude and attentions during his illness, and
when he again took his place at table, she expressed her pleasure with
a warmth that Drew felt was unnecessary.  His own congratulations were
much more formal.

Parmalee seemed to feel that he had appeared somewhat at a disadvantage
in succumbing to the illness which the others had escaped, and the
feeling put him on his mettle.  He made special efforts to be genial
and companionable, and his conversation sparkled with jests and
epigrams.  He could talk well; and even Drew had to admit to himself
grudgingly that the other young man was brilliant.

Ruth, always fond of reading, had turned to books in her loneliness
after her mother's death and had read widely for a girl of nineteen,
and their familiarity with literature made a common ground on which she
and Parmalee could meet with interest.  He had brought along quite a
number of volumes which he offered to lend to Ruth and to Drew.

Ruth thanked him prettily and accepted.  Drew thanked him cooly and
declined.

All three were sitting on deck one afternoon, while Tyke and the
captain talked earnestly apart.  Ruth's dainty fingers were busy with
some bit of embroidery.  Her eyes were bent on her work, but the eyes
of the young men rested on her.  And both were thinking that the object
of their gaze was well worth looking at.

Ruth herself knew perfectly well the attraction she exerted.  And she
would have been less than human if she had not been pleased with it.
What girl of nineteen would not enjoy the homage of a Viking and a
troubadour?

She was not a coquette, but there was a certain satisfaction that she
could not wholly deny herself in playing one off against the other.  It
would do Drew no harm to make him a little less sure of himself and of
her.  In her heart she liked his Lochinvar methods, while, at the same
time, she rather resented them.  She was no cave woman, to be dragged
off at will by a determined lover.

She had a real liking for Parmalee.  He was suave, polished and
deferential.  His attentions gallant without being obtrusive, and his
geniality and culture made him a very pleasant companion.

"We're like the Argonauts going out after the Golden Fleece," Parmalee
was remarking.

"Yes," Ruth smiled, looking up from her work, "it doesn't seem as
though this were the twentieth century at all.  Here we are, as much
adventurers as they were in the old times of Jason and his companions."

"Let's hope we'll be as lucky as they were," said Drew.  "If I remember
rightly, they got what they went after."

"And yet when they started out they weren't a bit more sure than we
are," rejoined Parmalee.

"And we won't find any old dragon waiting to swallow us, as they did,"
laughed Ruth.

"Well, whether we find the treasure or not, we'll have plenty of fun in
hunting for it," prophesied Parmalee.  "Somehow, I feel that we are on
the brink of a great adventure.  I think I know something of the
feeling of the old explorers when they first came down to these parts.
Do you remember the way Keats describes it, Miss Ruth?"

"I don't recall," answered Ruth.

"I'll go and get the book.  I have it in my cabin.  Or wait.  Perhaps I
can remember the way it goes."  He paused a moment, and then began:

  "Then feel I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
  Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
    He stared at the Pacific--and all his men
  Looked at each other with a wild surmise--
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien."


"What noble verse!" exclaimed Ruth.

Drew remained silent.

"The very air of these southern seas is full of romance," went on
Parmalee.  "And of tradition too.  Have you ever heard the story of
Drake's drum?"

"What is it?" asked Ruth.

"The old drum of Sir Francis Drake that called his men to battle is
still preserved in the family castle in England," explained Parmalee.
"It went with him on all his voyages.  It beat the men to quarters in
the fight with the Spanish Armada and in all his battles on the Spanish
Main, when, to use his own words, he was 'singeing the whiskers of the
King of Spain.'  He was buried at sea in the West Indies, and the drum
beat taps when his body was lowered into the waves.

"The story goes that when Drake was dying he ordered that the drum
should be sent back to England.  Whenever the country should be in
mortal danger, his countrymen were to beat that drum, and Drake's
spirit would come back and lead them to victory."

"And have they ever done it?" asked Ruth, intensely interested.

"Twice," replied Parmalee.  "Once when the Dutch fleet entered the
Thames with a broom at the masthead to show that they were going to
sweep the British from the seas.  They beat it again when Nelson broke
the sea power of Napoleon at Trafalgar.

"Here's what an English writer supposes Drake to have said when he was
dying:

  'Take my drum to England, hang it by the shore,
  Strike it when your powder's running low;
  If the Dons sight Devon, I'll quit the port of heaven
  And drum them up the Channel, as we drummed them long ago.'"


"How stirring that is!" cried Ruth, clapping her hands.

"Yes," admitted Drew, a little dryly.  "They must have forgotten to
beat it though at the time of the American Revolution."

It was a discordant note and all felt it.

"Oh, how horrid of you!" exclaimed Ruth.  "You take all the romance out
of the story."

"I'm sorry," said Drew, instantly penitent.

"I don't believe you are a bit," declared Ruth.  "And Mr. Parmalee told
that story so beautifully," she added, with a wicked little desire to
punish Drew.

"Cross my heart and hope to die," protested Drew, to appease his
divinity.  "Put any penance on me you like.  I'll sit in sackcloth and
put ashes on my head if you say so, and you'll never hear a whimper."

"He seems to be suffering horribly," said Parmalee, a bit
sarcastically, "and you know, Miss Ruth, that cruel and unusual
punishments are forbidden by the Constitution.  I think you'd better
forgive him."

Ruth laughed and the tension was broken.  But there was still a little
feeling of restraint, and after a few minutes Parmalee excused himself
and strolled away.

Ruth kept on stitching busily, her face bent studiously over her work.

Drew looked at her miserably, bitterly regretting the momentary impulse
to which he had yielded.  He knew in his heart that he had been jealous
of the impression that Parmalee, by his easy and graceful narration,
had seemed to be making on Ruth, and he hated himself for it.

"Ruth," he said softly.

She seemed not to have heard him.

"Ruth," he repeated.

"Yes?" she answered, but without looking up.



CHAPTER XVI

GATHERING CLOUDS

"Ruth," Drew pleaded.  "Look at me."

She dropped her work then and met his eyes.

"You're angry with me, aren't you?" he asked.

"No; I'm not angry," she replied slowly.

"But you're vexed?" he suggested.

"I should say rather that I am sorry," she answered.  "Everything has
been so pleasant between us all up to now, and I hoped it was going to
remain so."

"It was that impulsive tongue of mine," he said.  "The words slipped
out before I thought."

"What you said was nothing," she replied.  "But the tone in which you
spoke was unpleasant.  It seemed as though you were trying to put a
damper on things.  It came like a dash of cold water, and I'm sure that
Mr. Parmalee felt chilled by it."

"You seem very much interested in Mr. Parmalee's feelings," he said,
with a return of jealousy at the mention of the other's name.

"No more than I am in those of any of my friends," she answered.  "I
think he is very nice, and I was very much interested in what he was
saying," she added, with a tiny touch of malice.

But she repented instantly as she saw the pain in Drew's eyes.

"Let's forget all about it!" she exclaimed.  "It was only a trifle,
anyway."

"You forgive me then?" he asked.

"Of course I forgive you, you foolish boy!  And to prove it, I'm not
going to make you do any penance," she added gaily.

From that time, a smile from Ruth raised Drew to the seventh heaven,
but when her smile was bestowed on Parmalee, he was dashed to the
depths.

One thing especially was calculated to torture the jealous heart of a
lover.  Several times Drew observed Ruth and Parmalee engaged in what
seemed to be a peculiarly confidential talk.  Their heads were close
together and their voices low.  They seemed to be talking of something
that concerned themselves alone.

The first time he saw them together in this way, he strolled up to
them, but they changed instantly to a lighter and more careless tone,
and introduced a topic in which he could join.  But Ruth's face was
flushed and Parmalee was scarcely able to disguise his impatience at
the interruption.

After the first time, Drew left them alone.  His pride refused to let
him be a third in a conversation plainly designed for two.

In his secret musings Allen Drew dwelt on and exaggerated the
advantages which Parmalee possessed.  To be sure, he was weak and
delicate, while Drew had the strength of a young ox.  But Parmalee had
wealth and standing and a polished manner that appealed strongly to
women.  Why should he not, with his suavity and winning smile,
fascinate an impressionable girl?

Ruth herself, warned by the chilliness between the men that grew more
pronounced with every day that passed, did her best to be prudent.  The
mischievous pleasure of having them both dangle when she pulled the
strings had been replaced by a feeling almost of alarm.  She realized
enough of the fervor of Drew's passion to know that he was in deadly
earnest and would brook no rivalry.

Tyke had been enjoying himself hugely from the start.  He had utterly
cast aside all thoughts of the business he had left behind him, and
when Drew sometimes referred to it he refused to listen.  The sea air
and the delight of being once more in the surroundings of his early
days had proved a tonic.  His leg mended with magical rapidity, and by
the time they had been ten days at sea he cast aside his crutches and
managed to get about with the aid of a cane.  Almost every moment of
the day and evening when he was not at meals, he spent on deck,
exchanging yarns with Captain Hamilton, studying the set of the sails,
or gazing on the boundless expanse of sea and sky.

The weather so far had been perfect, and the schooner had slipped along
steadily and rapidly, most of the time carrying her full complement of
canvas.  The captain thought that in about two or three days more they
would be in the vicinity of Martinique.  Once there, to the westward of
that island, they would cruise about until the cay shaped like the hump
of a whale should appear on the horizon.

But despite the good weather, there had been for some time past a
shadow on the face of the captain which betrayed uneasiness.  The young
people, absorbed in their own affairs, had not noticed it, but Tyke's
shrewd eyes had seen that all was not well, and one day when the
captain dropped into a chair beside him, he broached the subject
without ceremony.

"What's troubling you, Cap'n Rufe?" he asked.  "Out with it and git it
off your chest."

"Oh, nothing special," replied the captain evasively.

"Yes there is," retorted Tyke.  "You can't fool me.  So let's have it."

"Well, to tell you the truth," said Captain Hamilton, "I don't quite
like the actions of the crew."

"No more do I," said Tyke calmly.

"Have you noticed it too?"

"I've still got a pair of pretty good eyes in my head.  But heave
ahead."

"Well, in the first place," said the captain, "it's about the worst set
of swabs that ever called themselves sailors.  Some of 'em don't seem
to know the spanker boom from the jib.  Of course, that isn't true of
all of 'em.  Perhaps half of them are fairly good men.  But the rest
seem to be scum and riffraff."

"What did you ship the lubbers for?" asked Grimshaw.

"I didn't," answered Captain Hamilton.  "I was so busy with other
things that I left it to Ditty."

"An' there you left it to a good man!" Tyke said scornfully.  "I've
been keeping tabs on that Bug-eye, as they call him, since I come
aboard.  He's a bad actor, he is.  Listen here, Cap'n Rufe----" and the
old man, with a warning hand on Captain Hamilton's knee and in a low
voice, repeated what he had told Drew in the hospital about the
one-eyed man being at the scene of his accident.

"And was it Ditty?" gasped Captain Hamilton.

"Surest thing you know.  An' I don't believe I dreamed he went through
my pockets.  What was that for, when he didn't rob me of my watch and
cash?"

The master of the schooner shook his head thoughtfully, making no
immediate reply.

"Ditty's a pretty good sailor himself, I notice," went on Tyke.

"None better," assented the captain.

"An' he knows a sailor when he sees one?" continued the old man.

"Of course he does," the captain affirmed.  "And that's what has seemed
strange to me.  He's often picked crews for me before, and I've never
had to complain of his judgment."

"Well then," concluded Tyke, "it stands to reason that if he's shipped
a lot of raffraff this time, instead of decent sailors, he'd a reason
for it."

"It would seem so," admitted the captain uneasily.

"Have you put it up to him?" asked Tyke.

"I have.  And he admits that some of the men are no good, but says that
he was stuck.  He left it to some boarding-house runners, and he says
they put one over on him by bundling the worst of the gang aboard at
the last minute."

"A mighty thin excuse," commented Tyke.

"Of course it is; and I raked Ditty fore and aft on account of it.  I'm
through with him after this cruise.  I've only kept him on as long as I
have because Mr. Parmalee wanted it so.  But he finds another berth as
soon as we reach New York."

"I've noticed him talking to some of the men a good deal," remarked
Tyke.

"That's another thing that's worried me," said the captain.  "Up to
now, Ditty has always been a good bucko mate and has kept the men at a
distance.  Did you see the man I knocked down the other day when he
started to give me some back talk?"

"Yes," grinned Tyke.  "You made a neat job of it.  Couldn't have done
it better myself in the old days."

"But the peculiar thing about it," continued the captain, "was that I
had to do it although the mate was a good deal nearer to the fellow
than I was.  Ordinarily, Ditty would have put him on his back by the
time he'd got out the second word.  But this time he had paid no
attention, and I had to do the job myself."

"Well, what do you make of it all?"

"I don't know what to make of it, and that's just what's troubling me.
If I could only get to the bottom of it, I'd make short work of the
mystery."

"How's your second officer, Rogers?  Is he a man you can depend on?"

"He's true blue.  A fine, straight fellow and a good sailor."

"That's good."

"I wish he were mate in place of Ditty," muttered the captain.

"Well, he ain't," replied Tyke.  "An' to make any change jest now with
nothing more'n you've got to go on, would put you in bad with the
marine court.  We'll jest keep our eyes peeled for the first sign of
real trouble, and' if them skunks start to make any we'll be ready for
'em."

"I wonder what the matter is with Drew and Parmalee over there!"
exclaimed the captain suddenly.  "More trouble?"

Tyke followed the direction the captain indicated and was astonished to
see that the young men seemed to be on the verge of an altercation.
Their faces were flushed and their attitude almost threatening.

The captain hurried toward them, and Tyke hobbled after him as fast as
he was able.

The tension between Parmalee and Drew had been slowly but steadily
tightening.  Little things, trifles in themselves, had increased it
until they found it hard to be civil to each other.  In the presence of
Ruth and the two older men, they suppressed this feeling as much as
possible; and except by Ruth it had been unsuspected.

The purest accident that afternoon had brought the matter to a crisis.

Ruth was detained below by some duty she had on hand, and Drew was
pacing the deck while Parmalee, leaning on his cane, was standing near
the rail looking out to sea.

As Drew passed the other, the ship lurched and his foot accidentally
struck the cane, which flew out of Parmalee's hand.  Deprived of the
support on which he relied, the latter staggered and almost lost his
balance.  He saved himself by clutching at the rail.  Then he turned
about with an angry exclamation.

Drew stooped instantly and picked up the cane, which he held out to
Parmalee.

"I'm sorry," he said.  "It was an awkward accident."

"Awkward, sure enough," sneered Parmalee.

"As to it's being an accident----"  He paused suggestively.

Drew stepped nearer to him, his eyes blazing.

"What do you mean?" he asked.  "Do you intimate that I did it
purposely?"

Parmalee regretted the ungenerous sneer as soon as he spoke.  But his
blood was up, and before Drew's menacing attitude he would not retract.

"You can put any construction on it that you please," he flared.

Just then Tyke and the captain came hurrying up.

"Come, come, boys," said the captain soothingly, "keep cool."

"What's the trouble with you two young roosters?" queried Tyke.

They looked a little sheepish.

"Just a little misunderstanding," muttered Drew.

"I fear it was my fault," admitted Parmalee.  "Mr. Drew accidentally
knocked my cane out of my hand, and I flew off at a tangent and was
nasty about it when he apologized."

"Nothing mor'n that?" said Tyke, with relief.  "You young fire-eaters
shouldn't have such hair-trigger tempers."

"Shake hands now and forget it," admonished the captain genially.

The young men did so, both being ashamed of having lost control of
themselves.  But there was no cordiality in the clasp, and Tyke's keen
sense divined that something more serious than a trivial happening like
the cane incident lay between the two.

Tyke had never seen the French motto: "_Cherchez la femme_," and could
not have translated it if he had.  But he had seen enough of trouble
between men, especially young men, to know that in nine cases out of
ten a woman was at the bottom of it.  He thought instantly of Ruth.

He decided to have a serious talk with Drew at the earliest
opportunity.  But as he looked about, after the young men had departed,
he saw signs of a change in the weather that in a moment drove all
other thoughts out of his head.  He limped into the cabin companionway
to look at the barometer.

"Jumping Jehoshaphat!" he shouted, "we're going to ketch it sure!
She's down to twenty-nine an' still a-dropping!"



CHAPTER XVII

THE STORM BREAKS

Tyke was not the only one who had noted the falling barometer.  Captain
Hamilton was already standing at the foot of the mainmast, shouting
orders that were taken up by Ditty and Rogers and carried on to the men.

To the north, great masses of leaden-gray clouds were heaped up against
the sky.  The sea was as flat as though a giant roller had passed over
it.  A curious stillness prevailed--the wind seemed hushed, holding its
breath before the tempest burst.

The hatches were battened down and the storm slides put on the
companionway.  Most of the sails were reefed close, and with everything
snug alow and aloft, the _Bertha Hamilton_ awaited the coming storm.

This wait was not long.  A streak of white appeared along the sea line,
and this drove nearer with frightful rapidity.  With a pandemonium of
sound, the tempest was upon them.  The spars bent, groaning beneath the
strain, and the stays grew as taut as bowstrings.  The schooner
careened until her copper sheathing showed red against the green and
white of the foaming waves.

The screaming of the wind was deafening.  Hundreds of tons of water
crashed against the schooner's sides and poured over her stern.  The
sea clawed at her hull as though to tear it in pieces.  Tatters of foam
and spindrift swept over the deck and dashed as high as the topgallant
yards.  The spray was blinding and hid one end of the craft from the
other.

Staggering under the repeated pounding of the tumbling, churning waves
that shook her from stem to stern, the _Bertha Hamilton_ plunged on,
her bow at times buried in the surges, her spars creaking and groaning,
but holding gallantly.

Ruth had been ordered by her father to go below, and he had advised
Parmalee and Drew to do the same.  But the fascination of the storm had
been too much for the young men to resist, and they crouched in the
shelter of the lee side of the deckhouse, holding on tightly while they
watched the unchained fury of the waters.  As for Tyke, he was in his
element, and nothing could have induced him to leave the deck.

For nearly twenty-four hours the storm continued, although its chief
fury was spent before the following morning.  But the billows still ran
high, and it was evening before the topsails could be set.  Later on,
as the wind subsided, the schooner, having shown her mettle, settled
once more into her stride and flew along like a ghost.

Then, for the first time since the storm had begun, the captain laid
aside his oil-skins and relaxed.

"That was a fierce blow," chuckled Tyke.  "A little more and you might
have called it a hurricane."

"It was a teaser," asserted the captain.  "Did you see how the old girl
came through it?  Never lost a brace or started a seam.  Hardly a drop
of water in the hold.  Didn't I tell you she was a sweet sailer, either
in fair weather or foul?  But the crew!  Holy mackerel! what a gang of
lubbers."

"You're right to be proud of the craft," assented Tyke.  "Has it taken
her much out of her course?"

"A bit to the north, but nothing more.  For that matter, we've passed
Martinique.  I figure it out that we may raise the hump-backed island
to-morrow, if we have luck."

A feeling of relief was experienced by the rest of the after-guard when
at last the danger was past, and it was a happy, if tired, party that
gathered about the captain's table that evening.

Supper over, they went on deck.  The tropical night had fallen.  There
was no moon, and a velvety blackness stretched about the ship on every
side, broken here and there by a faint phosphorescent gleam as a wave
reared and broke.

The schooner still rose and plunged from the aftermath of the storm,
and the slipperiness of the wet decks made the footing insecure.  The
captain was fearful that Ruth might have a fall, and after a while
urged her to go below.  Drew and Parmalee offered to accompany her, but
she was very tired after the excitement and sleeplessness of the
previous night, and excused herself on the plea that she thought she
would retire early.

Drew and Parmalee were standing near each other just abaft the
mizzenmast, while Tyke and the captain were aft, talking in low voices.

An unusually big wave struck the schooner a resounding slap on the
starboard quarter, causing her to lurch suddenly.  Drew was thrown off
his balance.  He tried to regain his footing, but the slippery deck was
treacherous and he fell heavily, striking his head on the corner of the
hatch cover.

How long he lay there he did not know, but it must have been for
several minutes, for when he recovered consciousness his clothes were
wet where they had absorbed the moisture from the deck.  His head was
whirling, and he felt giddy and confused.  He put his hand to his
forehead and felt a cut that was bleeding profusely.

Drew had a horror of scenes, and instead of reporting to Tyke or to the
captain, he resolved to go quietly to his room, bind up the wound as
well as he was able, and then get into his berth with the hope that a
good night's rest would put him in good shape again.

He wondered in a dazed way where Parmalee was.  Why had not the other
young man sought to help him?  He had been standing close by at the
time and could not have failed to notice the accident.  Was it possible
that Parmalee still nourished a grudge, and had refused the slight
service that humanity should have dictated?  No, Parmalee was not that
kind.  There was no love lost between the two, but Drew refused to do
him that injustice.

But Drew's wound demanded attention, and he was too confused just then
to solve problems that could wait till later.  So he picked his way
rather unsteadily to the companionway and went down.

He had to pass the captain's cabin on his way to his own room.  As he
did so, the light streamed full upon him, and Ruth, who had not yet
gone to her own room, looked up from her sewing and saw him.  She gave
a little scream and rushed toward him.

"Oh, Allen, Allen!" she cried, taking his face in her hands.  "What has
happened?  Your head is bleeding!  Are you badly hurt?"

"Don't be frightened, Ruth," he returned.  "I was stupid enough to fall
and cut my head a little.  Bu it's nothing of any account.  I'll bind
it up and I'll be as right as a trivet in the morning."

"_You'll_ bind it up!" she exclaimed.  "You'll do nothing of the kind.
You'll come right in here and let me fix that poor head for you."

She drew him in and he went unresistingly, glad to yield to her gentle
tyranny.

Ruth found warm water, ointment, lint and bandages, and deftly bound up
the wound.  She was a sailor's daughter, and an adept in first aid to
the wounded.  Her soft hands touched his face and head, her eyes were
dewy with sympathy, and Drew found himself rejoicing at the accident
that had brought him this boon.  She had never been so close to him
before, and he was sorry when the operation was ended.

"Through so soon?" he asked regretfully.

She laughed merrily.  She could laugh now.

"I can take the bandage off and start all over again if you say so,"
she said mischievously.

"Do," he begged.

"Be sensible," she commanded.  "Go at once now and get to bed.
Remember, you're my patient and must obey orders."

She shook her finger at him and tried to frown with portentous
severity.  But the dancing eyes and mutinous dimple belied the frown.

"If you're my nurse, I'm going to be sick for a long time," he warned
her.

He tried to grasp the menacing finger, but she eluded him and playfully
drove him out of the room.

The sun was shining brightly through the porthole of his room when he
awoke the next morning, and on reaching for his watch he found that he
had waked later than usual.  He dressed himself quickly.  He felt a
little light-headed from the effect of his wound, but nothing more.

There was an exclamation of alarm from Tyke and the captain when they
saw his bandaged head.

"Only a cut," said Allen lightly.  And he briefly narrated the details
of his misadventure.

"Lucky it was no worse," commented Tyke.

"Wasn't there any one near by at that time?" asked the captain.

"Why----" began Drew, and stopped.  To say that Parmalee had been near
him would have been an indictment of the former for his seeming
heartlessness.  He did not want to take advantage of his absent rival.

"If there had been, he'd have certainly picked me up," he evaded,
rather lamely.

Ruth greeted him in her usual gay and gracious manner, but he sought in
vain for any trace of the tenderness of the night before.  She was on
her guard again.

"How is my patient this morning?" she smiled.

"Fine," he answered.  "If you ever want any recommendation as a nurse
you can refer to me.  Only I wouldn't give it," he added.

"Why not?" she asked.

"Because I want to be your only patient."

She hastened to get off perilous ground.

"I wonder what's keeping Mr. Parmalee this morning," she observed.
"He's even more of a sleepy head than you are."

"Tired out, I guess," conjectured the captain.  "This storm has used us
all up pretty well."

Ruth summoned Namco and told him to knock on Mr. Parmalee's door.  The
Japanese was back in a minute.

"Honorable gent no ansler," he reported.

"That's queer," remarked the captain.  "I'll step there myself."

He returned promptly, looking very grave.  "He isn't there," he
announced.

"Perhaps he's gone on deck to get an appetite for breakfast," suggested
Drew lightly.

"It's not alone that he's absent," said the captain in a worried tone.
"His bed hasn't been slept in!"

There was a chorus of startled exclamations.  Drew and Tyke jumped to
their feet and Ruth lost her color.

"Oh, Daddy!" she cried, "it can't be that anything's happened to him?"

"Don't get excited, Ruth," said her father soothingly.  "There may be
some explanation.  I'll have the ship searched at once."

They all hurried on deck, and the captain summoned the mate and Mr.
Rogers.  He told them what he feared and ordered that the ship be
searched thoroughly.

Rogers turned to obey, but the one-eyed mate, Cal Ditty, stopped him
with a gesture.

"No use," he said.  "Mr. Parmalee ain't here."

"How do you know?" cried the captain.

"Because he was thrown overboard last night," was the sudden grim
answer.

Ruth gave a smothered shriek and the others gasped in amazement and
horror.

"What do you mean?" shouted the captain.

"Just what I said."

"Who threw him overboard?"

"He did," declared Ditty, pointing to Drew.

There was a moment of terrible silence as the others looked in the
direction of the mate's pointing finger.

Drew stood as though he were turned to stone.  His tongue was
paralyzed.  He saw consternation in the faces of Tyke and the captain.
He glimpsed the horror in the eyes of Ruth.  Then, with a roar of rage,
he hurled himself at the one-eyed mate.

"You lying hound!" he shouted.  "If crime's been done, _you've_
committed it."

Ditty slid back a step and met the younger man's charge with a coolness
that showed his taunt had been premeditated and that this result was
expected.  As the enraged Drew closed in, the mate met him with a
frightful swing to the side of his bandaged head.

Drew's head rocked on his shoulders, and for a moment he was dazed.
Blood flowed from under the bandage, and in an instant his cheek and
neck were besmeared with it.  The bucko, with the experience of long
years of rough fighting, landed a second blow before the confused Drew
could put up his defense again.

But that was the last blow Ditty did land.  Drew's brain cleared
suddenly.  Hot rage filled his heart.  He forgot his surroundings.  He
forgot that Ruth stood by to see his metamorphosis from a civilized man
into an uncivilized one.  He forgot everything but the leering face of
the lying scoundrel before him, and he proceeded to change that face
into a bruised mask.

His skill and speed made the mate, with only brute force behind him,
seem like a child.  Drew closed Ditty's remaining eye, split his upper
lip, puffed both his cheeks till his nose was scarcely a ridge between
them, and ended by landing a left hook on the point of the jaw that
knocked the mate down and out.

As Drew fell back from the fray, which had lasted only seconds, so
swift was the pace, Tyke seized him.

"You've done enough, boy!  You've done enough, Allen!" he exclaimed.
"Leave life in the scoundrel so we can get the truth out of him."



CHAPTER XVIII

A SEA COURT

"Mr. Rogers, take the deck!" commanded Captain Hamilton sharply.  "You
bullies, get forward with you!" he added to the curious men of the
watch.  "Don't any of you lose sight of the fact that if it were a
seaman instead of a passenger who attacked Mr. Ditty, he'd be in the
chain-locker now.

"Drew, you and Tyke come below with me.  When you've washed your face,
Mr. Ditty, I want to see you there too.  Mr. Rogers!"

"Aye, aye, sir!" responded the second officer, smartly.

"Pass the word forward.  Has anybody seen Mr. Parmalee or does any of
them know personally what's happened to him?  No second-hand tales,
mind you."

"Aye, aye, sir."

With all his rage and confusion of mind, Drew realized that easy-going,
peace-loving Captain Hamilton had suddenly become another and entirely
different being.

Even Ruth descried no softness in her father's countenance now.  She
noted that his eye sparkled dangerously.  He waved her before him, and
she fled down the companionway steps ahead of Drew and Grimshaw.

"Now, what's all this about?" the master of the _Bertha Hamilton_
demanded, facing Drew across the cabin table.

"Oh, Father!" gasped Ruth.  "That--that--Mr. Ditty says Mr. Parmalee is
murdered and that Allen did it!"

"That's neither here nor there," said the captain sternly.  "I don't
believe that any more than you do.  But what is this between Ditty and
Mr. Drew?  They went at each other like two bulldogs that have nursed a
grudge for a year.

"Now, I want to know what it means, Drew.  I heard--Ruth told me--of
the little run-in you had with Ditty the day you first met my daughter
on the Jones Lane pier," pursued Captain Hamilton.  "Ruth was carrying
a letter to Captain Peters for me.  The _Normandy_ is bound for Hong
Kong, where I'd just come from, and Peters and I have mutual friends
out there.  I forgot something I wanted Ruth to tell Captain Peters,
and I asked Ditty, who had shore leave, to waylay her and give her my
message.  She'd never seen Ditty, and he startled her.  He isn't a
beauty, I admit.  But now, what happened after that between you two,
Drew?"

"Nothing at all that day," said the young man promptly.  "But another
day I was over there, at the _Normandy_, to see--er--Captain Peters,
and this fellow showed up half drunk and gave me the dirty side of his
tongue.  I knocked him down."

"Seems to me you're mighty sudden with your fists," growled Captain
Hamilton.

"And Mr. Grimshaw can tell you something about Ditty, too," Drew began;
but the master of the schooner stopped him.

"Never mind about that.  We're discussing your affair with Ditty.  I've
got to judge between you two.  I'm judge, jury, and hangman in this
case--until we make some port where there's a consul, at least.  Now,
here's the mate.  No more fighting, remember or I'll take a hand in it
myself."

The battered Ditty stumbled down the cabin steps.  He could scarcely
see out of his single eye; but that eye glittered malevolently when it
fell upon Allen Drew.

"Sit down, Mr. Ditty," said the captain evenly.  "We've got to get to
the bottom of this business.  You've said something, Mr. Ditty, that's
got to go down on the log--and it's going to make you a peck of trouble
if you don't prove it.  You understand that?"

"I know it," snarled Ditty, through his puffed lips.  "He done it."

"You lying hound!" muttered Drew.

Captain Hamilton ignored this.  He said:

"What makes you say that Mr. Drew flung Mr. Parmalee overboard?"

"Because I seen him do it," answered Ditty.

Drew started for the mate again, but Tyke held him back.

"Go ahead, Mr. Ditty.  Tell your story," commanded the captain curtly.

"They was both standin' abaft the mizzen," the mate began, "and I heard
'em quarrelin' about something.  I went there, thinkin' to stop 'em if
it was anything serious, and jest as I got near 'em I seen Mr. Parmalee
up and hit Mr. Drew on the head with his cane.  Then, before you could
say Jack Robinson, Mr. Drew picked up Mr. Parmalee as if he had been a
baby and threw him over the rail."

There was a stifled murmur from the group.

"Why didn't you give the alarm and lower a boat?" asked the captain.

"I was goin' to, but Mr. Drew turned round and saw me.  He whipped a
gun out of his pocket and swore he'd shoot me if I gave the alarm or
said a word.  He held me under the point of his gun till it was too
late to lower a boat, and only let me go after I promised him I'd keep
mum about the hull thing."

"You're a fine sailorman," charged the captain bitterly, "to let a man
drown without doing anything to help him!  Why didn't you take a
chance?"

"He had the drop on me," mumbled the mate.

The captain turned to Drew.

"What about it?" he asked.

"Do I have to deny such a yarn?" the young man burst out hotly.  "What
can I say except that this infernal scoundrel is lying?  The whole
ridiculous story is as new to me as it is to you.  The last time I saw
Mr. Parmalee was when he was standing beside me on the deck last night.
I never laid a finger on him!"

"Where were you standing?" asked the captain.

"Just where Ditty says I was," replied Drew frankly.  "That part of the
story is true.  And it's the only thing in it that is true."

"Did you have any unfriendly words with Mr. Parmalee?"

"Not a word," was the answer.

"Ask him if he ever had any quarrel with him afore that," snarled the
mate.

"I know all about that," replied the captain sharply.  "I was there
myself.  It was just a little misunderstanding, and it blew over in a
minute."

"Ev'ry one on board knows there was bad blood 'twixt 'em," put in the
mate, "and they come pretty nigh to guessin' the reason for it, too,"
he added with a leering glance at Ruth.

"Stop, you dog!" shouted the captain in sudden rage.  "If you say
another word along that line I'll knock you down!"

The mate took a step backward, and mumbled an apology.

"Go on, Drew," ordered the captain.  "When did you lose sight of Mr.
Parmalee?"

"I slipped on the deck and struck my head on the corner of the
hatch-cover.  Mr. Parmalee was with me at the time.  I lost my senses
from the blow, and when I came to, Parmalee wasn't there.  I remember
thinking it strange that he hadn't helped me when I fell, but I was
dizzy and confused and soon forgot about it.  If I thought of him at
all, it was to suppose that he had gone to his room.  I fully expected
to see him at the breakfast table this morning, and I was as much
surprised as you were when he didn't turn up."

His story was told so frankly and simply that it carried conviction.
But Ditty still had a card up his sleeve.  He went over to the open
companion-way.

"Give me that cane, Bill," he called to a sailor standing at a little
distance.

The man obeyed, and a thrill went through the group as they recognized
it as having belonged to Lester Parmalee.  Ruth was making a strong
effort for self-control.

"Look at the blood-stains on this cane," said Ditty triumphantly, as he
handed it over to the captain.

There were, in truth, dark red stains on the end of the cane, standing
out clearly in contrast with the light oak color of the stick itself.

"That's where the cut on Mr. Drew's head come from, jest as I says,"
proclaimed Ditty.

"And what's more," he went on, "there ain't any blood on the edge of
the hatch cover."

"No, there wouldn't be," muttered Tyke, "for the deck was washed down
this morning, of course."

"Do you own a pistol, Drew?" asked Captain Hamilton, after a painful
pause.

"Yes," admitted the accused man.  "I have an automatic.  It's in my
stateroom now.  But I haven't carried it since I came on board the
ship.  I didn't have it on me last night."

The captain mused for a moment in evident perplexity.

"Well," he said, rising to his feet, "that's all, Mr. Ditty.  I'll
think this over and figure out what it's best to do."

"Ain't you goin' to put him in irons?" asked the mate truculently.

"That's none of your business," snapped the master of the schooner.
"I'm captain of this craft, and I'll do as I think best.  You are
relieved from duty for the present.  Lord man! but you're a sight."

Ditty wavered as though some impudent reply were forming on his tongue;
but he thought better of it beneath the steady gaze of the captain's
eyes and turned to go.  He could not, however, forbear a parting shot.

"You can see from the way he went at me what a savage temper he's got,"
he said.  "He'd 've killed me if he could 've.  And if he'd do that to
me for what I said, what would 've stopped his doin' it to a man who
had already hit him?"

"That'll do, Mr. Ditty!" snapped the captain again.

Tyke left no doubt as to where he stood.  Out of respect for the
captain, he had left the inquiry entirely in his hands, but now he
hobbled over to Drew and clapped him vigorously on the shoulder.

"Brace up, my boy!" he exclaimed.  "I don't know jest what the motive
of that swab is, but I know he was lying from first to last."  Ruth was
sobbing, and could not speak, but her little hand stole into the young
man's, and he grasped it convulsively.

"I can't believe that you did it either, Drew," declared the captain;
but there was a lack of heartiness in his tone that Drew was quick to
detect.  "I'll have to look into the whole matter as carefully as I
know how.  Parmalee's disappearance must be accounted for.  All we know
now is that he isn't to be found.  I'll have the ship searched, but I
have little doubt but the poor fellow has gone overboard.  In itself
that doesn't prove anything.  He may have fallen over.  But we can't
get away from the fact that one man says he knows how Parmalee came to
his death.  He may be lying.  I think he is.  I hope to God he is.  But
the whole matter will have to be taken up by the proper authorities as
soon as we get back to New York."

Drew's brain reeled.  He saw himself in a court of justice, on trial
for his life, charged with a horrible crime that he had no means of
refuting, except by his own unsupported denial.  And even if he were
acquitted, the black cloud of suspicion would hang over him forever.

"But I'm going to believe you're innocent until I'm forced to believe
the contrary," continued the captain; "and God help Ditty if I find
he's been lying!"

"He is lying," protested Drew passionately.  "I never dreamed of
injuring Parmalee.  Did I act like a murderer last night when you bound
up my head, Ruth?"

"No!  no!" sobbed the girl.

"Did I act like a murderer at the table this morning?" Drew continued,
conscious that he was proving nothing, but clutching eagerly at every
straw.

"You're no more a murderer than I am!" almost shouted Tyke, moved to
the depth by Drew's distress.

"You're going to have the benefit of every doubt, my boy," the captain
assured him soothingly.  "But now you'd better go to your room and try
to pull yourself together.  We're all upset, and talking won't do us
any good until we've got something else to go on.  But you have got to
promise me that you'll leave Ditty alone."

"I'll leave him alone if he leaves me alone."

"That is all I ask.  I'll warn him to keep away from you."

Drew released Ruth's hand.  She threw herself on her father's breast,
and the young man groped his way to his room.  Once there, he sat down
and tried to face calmly the terrible indictment that had been made
against him.

He did not delude himself as to the bits of circumstantial evidence
that might be used to piece out that indictment to make it plausible.

What was Ditty's motive?  He racked his brain in vain to find it.
There was, to be sure, the row upon the pier, but that had been only a
trifle, and the world would never believe that for anything like that a
man would swear away the life of another.

The previous quarrel between him and Lester Parmalee seemed to
establish the fact that there was bad blood between them.  There was
the cut upon his head, received at the very time that Parmalee
disappeared.  There were the blood stains on the cane, carrying the
inference that that stick in the hand of Parmalee had inflicted his
wound.  He owned a revolver, which would bear out Ditty's statement
that the mate had been intimidated by it.  Then there was his own
savage attack on Ditty, which showed his hot and impetuous temper.

He groaned as he saw what could be made of all these things in the
hands of a clever district attorney.  He could see the picture that
would be drawn for the benefit of the jury.  The old, old story--a
beautiful woman with two young and ardent suitors; one quarrel already
having occurred; a meeting in the dark; a renewal of the quarrel; an
attack by the weaker with a cane; the blow that turned the stronger
into a maddened beast and prompted him to grasp his frail rival and
throw him into the sea.  What was more possible?  What was more
probable?  Jealousy had caused thousands of similar tragedies in the
history of the world.

And when to these damaging circumstances was added the testimony of a
declared eye-witness who seemed to have no sufficient reason for lying,
what would the jury do?

Drew shuddered, and his soul turned sick within him.

And Ruth!  He ground his teeth in rage at the thought of her name being
dragged into the terrible story, as it certainly would be.

Even supposing that he should be given the benefit of the doubt and
discharged, his life would be utterly wrecked.  He could not ask her to
share the life of a man who the world would believe owed his escape
from the penitentiary to luck rather than to his innocence.  Even if
she were willing, he could not ask her to link her life with his.

All through that day and part of the next, he lived in an inferno.  By
tacit consent, the members of the party refrained from talking of the
one thing about which all were thinking.  When they met, they spoke of
indifferent matters, but there was a hideous feeling of restraint that
could not be dispelled, and gloom hung over them like a pall.

The morning of the second day, as they were cruising about in the
longitude and latitude indicated by the map, the voice of the lookout
resounded from the masthead.

"Land ho!"

"Where away?" shouted Rogers, who chanced to be officer of the deck.

"Three points on the weather bow," was the answer.

Rogers reported instantly to the captain, who came rushing on deck,
followed by the other members of the party.

The captain adjusted his binoculars and looked hard and long at a black
speck rising from the waves.  Finally he dropped the glass.

"The hump of the whale!" he announced.



CHAPTER XIX

FOREBODINGS

The hearts of all on board were thrilled.  Crew and passengers alike
were delighted, although the latter had a special reason for excitement
of which the former were supposed to be ignorant.

The schooner had been proceeding under full sail, but as she approached
nearer to the land whose outlines at every moment became more distinct,
the topgallants were taken in until the _Bertha Hamilton_ had just
enough canvas drawing to give her good steerage way.

Before long the schooner approached near enough for those on board to
see the island plainly with the naked eye.  It seemed to be several
miles in length.  It looked like an emerald floating in the sunlight.
Lush vegetation extended to within a hundred yards of the sea, and a
silvery stretch of beach edged the breakers that curled and burst with
an unceasing roar.

There was no sign of human habitation anywhere.  No hut broke the
smooth expanse of the beach or peeped out from among the trees.  The
impression of an uninhabited wilderness was heightened by great numbers
of pelicans and cranes, who stood sleepily on one foot or stalked
solemnly about pursuing their fishing in the shallows.

There was only one place where the outline of the coast was broken.  At
the eastern end the claws of a reef extended for about half a mile into
the sea, making a barrier behind which the water was comparatively
calm, though at the opening, of about two hundred yards, there ran a
turbulent sea.

"That must be the inlet shown on the pirate's map," whispered Tyke, who
was standing at the rail of the _Bertha Hamilton_ close beside the
captain.

"That's probably what it is," replied Captain Hamilton, his voice
showing the agitation under which he was laboring.  "But before we put
her through the opening, I'm going to take soundings.  Mr. Ditty!" he
called, "heave to and lower a boat to take soundings."

"Aye, aye, sir," responded the mate.

In a twinkling the necessary orders were given, the _Bertha Hamilton_
lost way and rounded to, and a boat manned by six sailors was dropped
from the davits on the lee side.

"Pull away smartly now, my lads," called the mate as he took the
tiller-ropes.

It required smart seamanship to get through that rushing raceway
without capsizing; but, whatever Ditty's faults, he did not lack
ability, and the work was done in a way that elicited an unwilling
grunt of admiration from Tyke.

In less than two hours the requisite soundings had been taken, and
Ditty came to report.

"Plenty of depth, sir," he reported.  "No less than ten fathoms
anywhere.  And a good bottom."

"All right, Mr. Ditty," replied the captain.  "Put the canvas on her
now and we'll take her through."

The captain himself assumed charge of this critical operation, and
under half sail the _Bertha Hamilton_ dashed through as though
welcoming the end of her journey.  She made the channel without mishap,
and let go her anchor within a quarter of a mile of the head of the
lagoon.

Inside the breakwater the sea was almost as smooth as a mirror.  The
water was wonderfully transparent, and they could see hundreds of
tropical fish swimming lazily at a great depth.  On the beach the waves
lapped in musical ripples, in striking contrast to the thundering surf
on the reef.

The captain wiped his perspiring forehead and drew a long breath of
relief.  "So far so good," he remarked.  "It won't be long now before
we'll know whether we've come on a fool's errand or not."

"There's one thing about which the map hasn't lied, anyway," said Drew.
"It pointed out the inlet just where we found it.  That's a good omen,
it seems to me."

"Let's hope the rest of the map is all right," replied the captain.
"But it's nearly time for dinner now, and we'll have that before going
ashore."

All were so feverishly impatient, now that they were almost in sight of
their goal, that none of them paid much attention to the meal, and it
was soon over.

"Do you s'pose the crew have any idee why we're stopping at this
island?" asked Tyke.  There was a grim look on his seamed countenance,
and both the captain and Drew looked at him curiously.

"What's milling in your brain, Tyke?" asked Captain Hamilton.  "I've
kept my eyes peeled, and I swear I haven't seen anything more to
suggest treachery.  Ditty's on his best behavior----"

"Yes; that's so," agreed Tyke.  "But did you spy the men he took with
him in the boat jest now, when he came in here to make soundings?"

"I didn't notice," the captain confessed.

"The orneriest ones of the whole bunch.  An', believe me! this is the
wo'st crew of dock scrapings I ever set eyes on," growled Tyke.  "Ditty
did a lot of talking in the boat--I watched 'em through my glass.  Them
six are his close friends, Cap'n Rufe.  They've laid their plans----"

"Holy mackerel!" exclaimed Captain Hamilton.  "What are you saying,
Tyke?"

"I've figgered out that we aren't going to have things our own way down
here," the other said earnestly.  "I've been waiting for you to say
something, Cap'n Rufe, ever since that Bug-eye accused Allen like he
did.  Ditty's on to our game--has been on to it right along--an' he
selected this crew of wharf-rats for a purpose."

"I agree with you, Mr. Grimshaw," Drew declared eagerly.  "That's what
Ditty was after when he tried to rob you at the time you were knocked
down by the automobile.  You were right.  He did push you back in front
of the machine, and then he searched your pockets while you were on the
ground."

"For what?" demanded Captain Hamilton, staring.

"For the paper and the map.  Ditty believed Mr. Grimshaw carried that
confession in his pocket," Drew replied.

The master of the schooner rose and began to walk about in excitement.

"That's it!  He was lurking outside your office door that day, Tyke,
when we first found the papers in Manuel Gomez's chest.  I see it now.
He was aboard the schooner that very evening, too, when I told Ruth at
dinner about the pirate's doubloons.  He might have been eavesdropping
then."

"An' I bet he flung poor Parmalee over the rail himself," said Tyke.
Hamilton's expression changed and he shook his head at that.

"He'd git rid of one of the after-guard that way," urged Tyke.
"Parmalee could shoot.  An' if it comes to a fight----"

"My soul!" groaned Captain Hamilton suddenly.  "And Ruth with us!"

"What about Ruth?" asked that young lady cheerfully, coming from her
cabin.  "Aren't you all ready yet?  I am going ashore with you."

"Yes; you'd better come," said her father gloomily.

"Why, what is the matter?" she demanded.

"We were just wondering," said Drew quickly, assuming a casual tone to
cover their real emotion, "if the crew suspected our reason for
touching at this island."

Captain Hamilton picked up the ball at once.

"But I don't believe they do," he said.  "Of course, it would have
seemed strange to the mate and to Rogers if I hadn't given them some
explanation, especially as we came out in ballast.  So I dropped hints
that we were out on a survey expedition that couldn't be talked of just
now.  They probably have the idea that we're looking up a suitable
coaling station for the Government, or something of that kind.  To
carry that out, I've got some surveyor's instruments here that we'll
take along with us, just for a blind."

"Let's hope it'll work," said Tyke dubiously.  "An' it won't do any
harm to take our guns along."

"There's a pair of revolvers for each of us," replied Captain Hamilton,
opening the closet where he kept the arms that Drew had previously
seen; "and we'll take half a dozen guns along with us in the boat.
There may be snakes or wild animals on the islands."

"I must have a revolver too, Daddy," said the girl.

"Of course, my dear," agreed the captain.

"Mebbe you'd better not put any cartridges in it, Cap'n Rufe," said
Grimshaw, taking Ruth playfully by the arm, "They'd be more dangerous
to us than to anything else."

"It's mean of you to say that, Mr. Grimshaw," pouted Ruth.  "You'll
find that I can use a gun as well as anybody."

"Mebbe so, mebbe so, my dear," said Tyke indulgently.

"Hadn't we better take some provisions along?" asked Ruth, as she
slipped the cartridges into her revolver and put the weapon in the
pocket of the sports skirt that she had donned.

"That won't be necessary," replied the captain.  "We'll be back before
nightfall.  This is just a little preliminary scouting.  We won't have
time for more than that this afternoon.  The real work of searching for
the treasure will begin to-morrow."

The preparations finished, the party went on deck.

"Crew had their dinner yet, Mr. Ditty?" Captain Hamilton asked of his
first officer.

"My watch have, sir," was the answer.  "The others are eating now."

"Pick out half a dozen men and lower the boat," ordered the captain.
"We're going ashore for a few hours.  We'll be back for supper."

"How long will we lay up here, sir?"

"Can't tell yet.  Perhaps two or three days.  Possibly a week or more."

"How about shore leave for the men, sir?"

"Beginning to-morrow, they can go ashore in batches of ten.  This
afternoon, Mr. Rogers and a boat's crew can take the long boat and some
casks and go ashore to look for water."

"Very well, sir," replied the mate, with a curious expression on his
face.

As he turned away, his one eye fell on Drew.  They had not met since
the fight two days before.  They stared at each other for several
seconds, until Ditty's eye fell before the concentrated fury in those
of the young man.

Ruth, who had witnessed the interchange of looks, put her hand lightly
on Drew's arm.

"Aren't you going to help me into the boat, Allen?" she asked.

His rage at Ditty vanished in an instant as he turned to her.  She was
trying to smile, but there was no laughter in her dewy eyes.  But Drew
saw there something deeper and sweeter and tenderer.  There was immense
sympathy and--what was that other fugitive expression that he caught
before her eyelids lowered?

He bent toward her, but just then Grimshaw and the captain ranged
alongside, and they had to take their places in the boat.

The members of the crew who had been told off for the service, bent to
the oars, and, at a rapid pace, they approached the shore.  The beach
shelved gradually, and they had no trouble in making a landing.  The
sailors leaped out into the shallow water and drew the boat well up on
the strand, and the party disembarked.

Drew wished that they had found it necessary to wade.  With what
delight he would have carried Ruth in those strong arms of his!

"We'll be back in an hour or two, my lads," said the captain.  "You can
scatter about and do as you like until we return, as long as you keep
within hail of the boat."

With the captain and Tyke in the lead, and Drew following behind to
help Ruth over the hard places, they plunged into the unknown forest.
After all, they went slowly, for Tyke had to favor what he called his
"game leg."

For all the evidence that the wood afforded, it had been untrodden for
many years.  Giant ceiba trees reared themselves two hundred feet into
the air.  Lianas hung in festoons from the boughs like monstrous boa
constrictors.  Parrots flew squawking from branch to branch, and
humming birds and butterflies of many hues and gorgeous beauty darted
like bright arrows among the flowers.

The underbrush was thick and in some places impenetrable, and the
treasure seekers would have found their progress very slow if it had
not been for certain irregular trails that seemed to have been hewn
through the woods at intervals.  In some places these trails were many
yards wide, while at others they narrowed to a foot or two.  Nothing
grew upon them, but they were covered by dead leaves and twigs of
varying depths.

"Wonder how these trails came here," said the captain.  "There are no
footprints on them, and yet they must have been made by animals or men."

"Better keep our eyes peeled," warned Tyke.

The captain, who had scraped away some of the accumulated leaves and
rubbish, gave a sudden exclamation.

"Why, this path is made of stone!" he cried.  He dropped on his knees
and examined more closely.  When he rose to his feet his face was grave.

"It's lava!" he stated.

"Then the island must be volcanic!" exclaimed Drew, startled by the
thought.

"Nothing very surprising about that when you come to think of it," Tyke
declared.  "We're right down here in the earthquake zone, where the
earth's liable to throw a fit any time.  Like enough this old whaleback
is a sleeping volcano.  She may blow up again some time."

"Just as it did at Martinique," confirmed the captain.  "Perhaps that
may explain the absence of people hereabouts.  They may have all been
wiped out by some eruption, or they may have been so scared that they
left the island for safer quarters."

"I don't think we have much to worry about," remarked Tyke.  "There
ain't any doubt but this hill we're heading for has been at some time a
volcano.  But likely it's been quiet for hundreds of years.  An' it's
not likely that it's going to git busy now jest for our special
benefit.  Let's hike along."

"There's one good thing about it, anyway," remarked Drew, as they
resumed their march.  "It's burned out these paths and made the walking
easier.  And it's pointed out just the way we want to go.  All we have
to do is to follow this path and it can't help but lead us right up to
the whale's hump."

"That's the point we want to head for," replied the captain, consulting
the map.  "You'll notice that these circles seem to be on the slope of
the hill not so very far from the top.  Besides, that pirate fellow
would be likely to go quite a way in from the shore to bury his loot."

Half a mile further on, a little stream ran through the forest.  The
party went over to it, and Drew, bending down and making a cup of his
hands, bore some of the water to his lips.  He made a wry face and
almost choked.

"Sulphur!" he exclaimed.  "It's full of it."

Captain Hamilton, too, tasted.

"Another proof, if we needed it, that the island is volcanic," he
observed.  Then, in a tone that only Drew heard, he added: "What I
don't like about it is that it shows there's brimstone in the old
whale's hump yet.  If there wasn't, the water would have sweetened long
ago."

Tyke and Ruth each took a few drops of the water, and then the party
went on a little more soberly than before.  The trees soon became more
scattered, though the undergrowth was dense.  Before long they emerged
on a sort of plateau above which was lifted, at a height of two hundred
feet or more, the whale's hump.

Its sides were heaped with masses of hardened lava in all kinds of
grotesque shapes.  It was utterly desolate and bare.  Ruth shuddered as
she looked at the weird scene.

"I don't wonder that some place around here is called the Witch's
Head," she remarked.  "This must be like the place where Macbeth saw
the witches brewing their potions."

"Except that they brewed them 'in lightning, thunder and in rain',"
said Drew.  "Those are the only things that are missing."

He had scarcely spoken when there was a rumbling that sounded like
thunder.  Drew was startled, and Ruth grew slightly pale.

"That's funny," remarked Tyke.  "Weather's as clear as a bell too.
This ain't the hurricane season."

The captain was in a brown study, seemingly unheedful of the rumbling
sound.  In a moment he roused himself and said:

"Well, now let's scatter about and see if we can find anything that
looks like The Three Sisters or the Witch's Head."

Grimshaw sat down to rest, not wishing to put too heavy a strain on the
leg that had been injured, and the others wandered about for half an
hour trying to discover anything that might be identified as the places
named on the map.  But their efforts were fruitless, and the captain,
looking at his watch, called a halt.

"Nothing more doing now," he said.  "We have only time to get back to
the boat.  But we've got our bearings and have done a good afternoon's
work.  To-morrow's a new day, and we'll get on the job early."

Reluctantly, the little party went back to the boat.  They found the
crew waiting for them and were pulled rapidly to the schooner, whose
anchor lights were already gleaming like fireflies in the sudden dusk.



CHAPTER XX

THE EARTH TREMBLES

It was with a feeling of relief after their surroundings of the last
few hours, that the treasure seekers found themselves again on board
the _Bertha Hamilton_ and seated in the bright cabin at the appetizing
and abundant meal that Wah Lee had prepared for them.

All four felt jubilant at the discoveries they had made.  Drew and Ruth
were sure that they were on the very brink of finding the pirate hoard,
and might, that very afternoon, have uncovered it if they had had a few
more hours of daylight.  To-morrow, they felt sure, would find them in
possession of the doubloons.

Drew's personal trouble had been for the moment obscured, although the
thought of it was sure to return to torment him as soon as the
excitement of the afternoon's search was past.

One thing served to delight and to torture him at the same time.  He
was almost sure that he had surprised a secret in the eyes of Ruth.  He
was thrilled as he thought of it.  But the next moment he groaned in
anguish as he remembered the frightful charge hanging over his head.
What had he now to offer her but a wrecked career and a blackened name?

The exhilaration all had felt on their return was followed soon by
reaction.  Ruth withdrew early to her room, pleading weariness.  Tyke
was thoughtful, thinking of the thunder he had heard just before they
had left the island.  The captain went on deck only to find in the
report of the second officer more cause for gravity.

Mr. Rogers came up to him as he emerged from the cabin.

"Couldn't get any water this afternoon, sir," he reported.  "Found
some; but it tasted strong of sulphur, sir."

"Yes, I know, Mr. Rogers," replied the captain.  "I tasted some myself
while I was ashore, and found it no good.  Still, we've got plenty on
board, so it doesn't matter."

Still the second officer lingered.

"What is it, Mr. Rogers?" asked the captain, who saw that the man had
something on his mind.

"Why, I hardly know how to put it, sir," answered the second officer, a
little confusedly.  "Perhaps it's foolish to speak about it; and there
may be nothing in it, after all."

"Out with it, Mr. Rogers," ordered the captain, all alert in an instant.

"Why, it's this way, sir," returned the second officer.  "I don't like
the way the men are acting.  I never was sweet on the crew from the
beginning, for the matter of that, not meaning any disrespect to Mr.
Ditty, who had the choosing of most of them.  There's a few of them
that are smart seamen, but most of them are rank swabs that don't know
a marlinspike from a backstay.  Seem more like a gang of river pirates
than deep-sea sailors."

"I know that most of them are a poor lot," replied the captain.  "But
they've managed to work the ship down here, and I guess they can get
her home again."

"But it isn't only that, sir," went on the other.  "There's altogether
too much whispering and getting into corners when the men are off duty
to suit me.  And they shut up like clams when I pass near 'em.  And
they're surly and impudent when I give 'em orders.  I've had to lick a
half dozen of 'em already."

"Well, you've got Mr. Ditty to help you out," said the captain.

"That's another queer thing, sir," continued the second officer,
evidently reluctant to speak against his superior.  "Mr. Ditty is
usually quicker with his fists than he is with his tongue; but I never
saw him like he is on this voyage.  Seems like at times as though he
took the men's part, sir."

"That's a hard saying, Mr. Rogers," said the captain.

"True enough, sir; but you told me to speak out.  I had trouble with
some of the men this very afternoon, sir, when I went over to the
island.  They found the water tasted of sulphur, and some of 'em
started in saying that the devil wasn't very far off when you could
taste brimstone so plain.  Of course, sailors are superstitious, and I
wouldn't have thought anything of that, only it seemed as if the bad
ones were just making that an excuse to get the others sore and
discontented.  They were growling and muttering amongst themselves all
the time they were ashore.

"I've got it off my chest now, sir, and maybe you'll think it's
foolish, but I thought you ought to know.  There's something going on
that I can't understand, and it bothers me."

"You've done quite right to tell me what you have, Mr. Rogers," replied
the captain, "and I'm obliged to you.  I'll think it over.  In the
meantime, keep your eyes wide open and let me know at once if anything
comes to light.  By the way, did you ever find anybody who saw what
happened to Mr. Parmalee?"

"Not a man among 'em will own to having seen anything.  It was a dark
night," replied Mr. Rogers, touching his cap and turning away.

Captain Hamilton sought out Tyke immediately and related to him what
Rogers had said.

"How many men that you know you can depend on have you got in your
crew?" asked Tyke quickly.

"Not more than a dozen that I'm sure of," admitted Captain Hamilton.
"That many've sailed with me on a number of voyages and they came home
with me from Hong Kong.  They are as good men as ever hauled on a
sheet.  But even some of them may have been affected by whatever it is
that's brewing.  It takes only a few rotten apples to spoil a barrel,
you know."

"A dozen," mused Tyke reflectively.  "Those, with you and Allen and me
would make fifteen."

"Don't forget Rogers," put in Hamilton.

"Sixteen," corrected Tyke.  "That leaves only eighteen, if Ditty's got
'em all.  Counting himself, that's nineteen.  Sixteen against nineteen.
Considering the kind of muts they are, we ought to lick the tar out of
'em."

"We could if it came to open fighting.  But if they're up to mischief,
they'll know what they're after and will have the advantage of striking
the first blow.

"That is," he went on, "if there's anything in it at all.  Perhaps
we're just imagining they mean something serious, when after all it may
be only a matter of sailors' grumbling.  Rogers may have only uncovered
a mare's nest."

"Perhaps," admitted Tyke.  "All the same, I've never trusted that
rascal, Ditty, from the minute I clapped eyes on him.  An' since he
lied so about Allen, I _know_ he's a scoundrel."

"I hope he did lie," said the captain doubtfully.

"_Hope!_" cried the old man hotly.  "Don't you _know_?  Look here, Rufe
Hamilton, you an' me have been friends for going on thirty years, but
we break friendship right here and now if you tell me you don't _know_
that Ditty lied!"

"There, there, Tyke," soothed the skipper, "have it your own way.  But
what we have on hand just now is how to get the better of Ditty and his
gang."

Gradually Tyke's ruffled feathers were smoothed and he devoted himself
to the matter in hand.

They talked late and long, but in the face of only vague conjectures,
could reach no definite conclusion.  One thing they did decide: It was
so to manage matters as to leave Rogers in command of the schooner when
the captain himself should be ashore.  Unless Ditty were actually
deposed, and as yet there was no valid excuse for doing this, the only
way they could carry out this plan was to see that Ditty was on shore
at the same time that the treasure seekers were.

The next morning when the party was ready to start, Captain Hamilton
spoke to Ditty.

"Mr. Ditty," he directed, "you will take ten of the men ashore on leave
this morning in the long-boat.  I am going myself with the crew of the
smaller boat.  Mr. Rogers will remain in charge of the ship.  If you
find sweet water, send back for the casks."

Ditty started to make an objection.

"Beg pardon, sir, but I don't care for shore leave myself.  Mr. Rogers
can go in my place if he wants to, sir."

"You heard what I said, Mr. Ditty.  Mr. Rogers went yesterday," said
the captain curtly.  "Have both boats lowered at once."

There was no help for it, and Ditty yielded a surly obedience.

"What time shall I bring the men back, sir?" he asked.

"When I give you the signal," replied the captain.  "Perhaps not till
late afternoon.  Take your dinner grub with you."

The boats left the ship's side together, and in a few minutes both
reached the beach.  With instructions to Ditty to keep his men on the
east end of the island, the captain's party entered the jungle.

They easily found the path they had trodden the day before, and were
well on their way to the whale's hump when they were startled by a
queer vibration of the earth.  There was no sound accompanying it.  On
the contrary, everything seemed hushed in a deathlike stillness.  The
cries of birds and the humming of insects had stopped as though by
magic.  Nature seemed to be holding her breath.

Then came a second quivering stronger than the first--a shock which
threw the four treasure hunters violently to the ground.



CHAPTER XXI

"IF I WAS SUPERSTITIOUS-----"

"What is this?"

"An earthquake!"

"The island is sinking!"

"We'll have to get out of this!"

Such were some of the cries of the treasure hunters as the earth
trembled beneath them.

For perhaps twenty seconds the sickening vibration continued.  Then it
stopped as suddenly as it had begun.  The swaying trees finished their
dizzy dance, and the rocks that had seemed to be bowing to each other
like so many mummers resumed their impassive attitudes.  Their lawless
frolic had ended!

Drew had caught Ruth by the arm as she went down, and thus had broken
the violence of her fall.  But all were jarred and shaken.

As the more agile of the quartet, the young man was first on his feet.
He tenderly assisted Ruth to rise, while the others scrambled up
unaided.

"Are you hurt?" Drew asked the girl solicitously.

"Not a bit," she answered pluckily, and Drew reflected on what a
thoroughbred she was.

The others also had sustained no injury.  But their forebodings as to
their safety on the island had been quickened by this striking example
of nature's restlessness.  The giant in the volcano was not dead.  He
was uneasy and had turned in his sleep.  It was as though he resented
the coming of these interlopers, and was giving them warning to go away
and leave him undisturbed.

"Now if I was superstitious," remarked Tyke, "I should say that
something was trying to keep us from getting this treasure."

"Let it try then," said the captain grimly.  "We haven't come as far as
this to turn tail and run just when we're on the point of getting what
we came for."

"Good for you, Daddy!" cried Ruth gaily.  "We're bound to have that
treasure."

They quickened their steps now.  This was no time for leisurely
investigation of the phenomena of earthquakes.  They soon reached the
point they had attained the day before.  But as they had explored that
section of the hillside already, they did not halt there, but pushed on
to the west.

"Now," said the captain, as he and Drew disburdened themselves of the
spades and mattocks they had brought along, carefully wrapped under the
guise of surveyors instruments, "we'll go at this thing in a scientific
way.  We'll make a rough division of this whole section"--he included
with a wave of his hand a space half a mile square--"into four parts.
No, three parts.  Tyke must rest his leg.  Then each must search his
section to find some rocks that look like those beauties marked on the
map."

The three scattered promptly, and began the search.  They looked
diligently, but for a long time found nothing to reward their efforts.
Drew tried as conscientiously as the rest, although at times he could
not make his eyes behave, and his gaze would wander over in Ruth's
direction.  It was in one of these lapses from industry that he saw her
lift her arm and wave eagerly in his direction.  He did not wait for a
second summons, but hurried over, after calling to the others to follow.

The girl was flushed and excited.

"What have you found?" Drew asked, as soon as he got within speaking
distance.

"Look!" she answered.  "Doesn't that big rock over there seem to you
like a witch's head--wild and ragged locks, and all that?"

From where he was then standing, he could trace no resemblance, but
when he reached her side and looked from the same angle he raised a
shout.

"The very thing!" he cried.  "There can't be any doubt of it."

The rock in question stood apart from the rest on the slope of the
hill.  Nature had carved it in a moment of prankishness.  There were
all the features of an old crone, forehead, nose, sunken mouth,
nut-cracker jaws, while small streams of lava, hardening as they had
flowed, gave the similitude of scanty tresses.

Tyke and the captain, soon came up, and all their doubts disappeared as
they gazed.

"The Witch's Head!" they agreed exultantly.

"With that to start with, the rest will be easy," cried Drew.  "The
Three Sisters can't be more than a few hundred feet or so away."

Ten minutes' further search revealed a group of three rocks, which,
while having no resemblance to female faces, were the only ones that
stood apart from all the rest as a trio.

The hands of the three men trembled as they got out the old map and
pored over it.

"Thirty-seven big paces due north from the Witch's Head; eighty-nine
big paces due east from The Three Sisters," muttered the captain.

"Paces, even big paces, is rather indefinite," commented Drew.  "If it
were yards or feet, now, it would be different.  But one man's paces
differ from another's, and a short man's differ from a tall man's."

"It was very inconsiderate of that old pirate not to tell exactly how
tall he was," jested Ruth.

"Well, we can't have everything handed to us on a gold plate," said the
captain.  "We may have to dig in a good many places before we strike
the right spot."

"Let's do this," suggested Tyke.  "Each one of us men will mark off the
paces, taking good long strides, an' see where we bring up.  Then we'll
mark off a big circle that will include all three results.  It's a
moral certainty that it will be somewheres in that circle if it's here
at all."

They acted on this suggestion, Ruth, with pencil and paper, serving as
scribe, while the men did the pacing.  She was elated at the part she
had played in the discovery.

It was an easy enough matter to make thirty-seven big paces from one
point and eighty-nine big paces from another, but, as every student of
angles knows, it was very difficult to make the two lines converge at
the proper point.  But though their methods were rough, they succeeded
at last in getting a very fair working hypothesis.  A rough circle of
forty feet in diameter was drawn about the stake Drew set up, and
within that circle they were convinced the treasure lay.

By this time the sun had reached the zenith, and before they started to
dig they retreated to the shade in the edge of the jungle and ate their
lunch.

"Hadn't you better wait until it gets a little cooler by and by?" asked
Ruth anxiously.  "It will be frightful under this hot sun.  This is the
hour of siesta."

"I guess we're too impatient for that," answered her father.  "But
we'll work only a few minutes at a time and take long resting spells
between."

Fortunately the ground was moderately soft within the circle, and their
spades sank deep with every thrust.  Tyke was not allowed to share in
this work of excavation, much to his disgust.  As for Drew and Captain
Hamilton, their muscular arms worked like machines, and they soon had
great mounds of earth piled around their respective pits.

But fortune failed to reward their efforts.  One place after another
was abandoned as hopeless.

They were toiling away with the perspiration dripping from them, when
Drew was startled by a cry from Ruth.  He leaped instantly out of his
excavation, and ran to her.  Ruth was standing in the shade of the
jungle's edge; but she was staring across the barren hillside toward
the west.

"What is it?" demanded the young man.  "What do you see?"

"I--I don't know.  I'm not _sure_ I saw anything," she admitted.  "And
yet----"

"Some of the seamen?" demanded Drew.  "I've been expecting that, though
your father is so sure that Ditty and his gang will remain at the
eastern end of the island."

"Oh, Allen!  Not Ditty!  Not one of the sailors!  I--I could almost
believe in--in ghosts," and she tried to laugh.

"What is it, my dear?" asked Tyke, who had come over.  "What's
happened?  Did you see something?"

"Yes.  It moved.  It was there, and then it wasn't there.  The space it
stood in was empty," said the girl earnestly.

"For the love o' goodness!" cried Tyke, mopping his brow.  "You've got
me all stirred up.  Now, if I was superstitious----"

"You will be if I tell you more about that--that thing," Ruth said.
She said it jokingly, and Tyke turned away, going over to where Captain
Hamilton was still at work.

"It must have been the spirit of the old pirate come back to guard his
hoard," Drew said lightly.

Ruth looked at him very oddly.

"What do you think?" she whispered, when Tyke was out of hearing.  "Why
should the ghost of Ramon Alvarez look so much like Mr. Parmalee?"

Drew paled, and then flushed.

"Do you mean that, Ruth?" he asked, and he could not keep his voice
from trembling.

"Yes," she said.  Then she flashed him a sudden smile.  "Of course, it
was merely an hallucination.  But, 'if I was superstitious----'" and
she quoted Tyke with a look which she tried to make merry.



CHAPTER XXII

BURIED ALIVE

Ruth pointed out to Drew exactly where the figure that had so startled
her had stood.  It was down the slope of the hill to the westward, and
directly between two lava boulders at the edge of the jungle.

The figure--man, apparition, what or whoever it was--had lingered in
sight but a moment.

Before returning to work in his excavation, Drew went down to the spot
Ruth had pointed out.  There was not a sign of anybody having been
there.  The earth between the huge lumps of lava seemed not to have
been disturbed.  He could find no broken twigs or torn vines at the
edge of the jungle.

"She dreamed it--that's all," muttered Drew.  "Poor Parmalee!"

He thought of the man whose tragic end was so linked with his own
existence--of the body buffeted by the waves somewhere in the blue
expanse that stretched easterly from this little island.

Of what use would the pirate treasure, if they found it, be to Allen
Drew?  This bitter query obsessed him.  He would gladly give every coin
and jewel Ramon Alvarez had buried here, were it his to give, to see
Parmalee, leaning on his cane, walk out of the jungle.

He was so lost in these gloomy musings that he started when he felt a
light touch on his arm.

He looked up to find Ruth standing beside him.

"Did you find any trace of him, Allen?" she asked, in a voice from
which the tremor had not entirely gone.

"Not the slightest sign," he answered.  "The man or thing, whatever it
was, seems to have vanished into thin air."

"It must have been mere fancy," she murmured, though without conviction.

"Our nerves play strange tricks sometimes," Drew rejoined lightly.  "We
are all of us in such an excited state just now that anything may
happen."

"I've always felt that nerves had been left out of my composition,"
said Ruth, smiling faintly.  "But when it comes to the pinch, I suppose
I'm just as liable to them as any one else."

"No, you're not," denied Allen Drew warmly.  "You're the most perfect
thoroughbred of any woman I ever knew."

"Perhaps your experience has been limited," she suggested, with a flash
of her old mischief.

"I'm perfectly willing it should be limited from this time on to just
one woman," he was on the point of saying, but bit his lip just in time.

"It is strange that this apparition, for want of a better name, should
have taken the form of Parmalee," he continued, his jealousy in spite
of himself taking possession of him.  "Perhaps you were thinking of
him, just then," he hazarded.

"Not at all," returned Ruth frankly.  "Just at that moment I'm afraid
my mind was fixed on nothing else but the hunt for the pirate's
treasure."

Drew felt somewhat reassured by this, and they had turned to retrace
their steps when he suddenly stood stock still.

"What is it?" asked Ruth in some alarm.

"I thought I saw an opening in the side of the mountain over there," he
replied.  "Perhaps the ghost, or whatever it was, is hiding in that,"
he added jestingly.  "At any rate I'm going to take a minute and see
what it is."

He made a step in the direction he had indicated.  Ruth sought to
restrain him.

"Don't you think you had better call my father and Mr. Grimshaw before
you venture in there?" she asked.  "You don't know what may be lurking
there."

"Nonsense," laughed the man lightly.  "They'd only be vexed at being
interrupted in their digging.  At any rate they're within easy call--if
there should be any need of them."

Ruth was silenced though only half convinced.  Together they went over
to a gaping rent in the side of the hill.

As a matter of precaution, Drew had taken his revolver from his belt
and held it ready in his hand.  He had really no expectation of meeting
anything hostile in human shape and he did not believe that any animal
that would be at all formidable ranged the island.

"If it's a ghost, I don't suppose this revolver would do any good," he
joked, more to relieve Ruth's uneasiness than any that he felt himself.
"At the very least I'd have to have a silver bullet or one that had
been dipped in the river Jordan."

The opening before which they stood was irregular in shape and seemed
to have been made by one of the convulsions of nature that apparently
were so common to the island.  It was, roughly speaking, about four
feet wide and nine high, and from the glimpse they got into its depths
seemed to widen out in the interior.  There was nothing about it to
speak of human occupancy and the ground leading to it bore no marks of
footprints.  Nor were there any bones scattered about that might
indicate that it was the lair of wild beasts.

Drew cupped his hands to his mouth and sent forth a ringing call.

"Hello, in there!" he shouted.

There was no answer, but the reverberations of his own voice that came
back to him seemed to show that the cave extended inward to a
considerable depth.

"Hello!" he shouted again.  "If there's any one in there, come out!
We're friends and won't hurt you."

Again there was no answer.

"Doesn't seem to be sociably inclined," muttered Allen grimly.

"I guess there's nobody there," said Ruth.  "Let's go back to the
others, Allen.  We've spent too much time already on this foolish
notion of mine."

"It wasn't foolish at all," protested Drew.  "As a matter of fact it
may prove to be of the greatest importance.  We ought to sift the
matter to the bottom.  If there's anybody on this island we don't know
about, it ought to be our first business to find out.  I think I'll
take a peep into this mysterious cave."

He made a step forward, but Ruth's hand tightened on his arm and he
stopped.

"Do you think you'd better risk it, Allen?" she asked.  "How do you
know what may be in there.  Suppose--suppose----"

"Suppose what?" he asked with a whimsical smile.

"Suppose anything should happen to you?" she half whispered.

"Nothing will happen to me," he rejoined.  "Not that it matters much
anyway," he added bitterly, as the thought swept over him of the black
cloud of suspicion that hung above him.

"Just give me a minute, Ruth," he pleaded, hating himself for his
reckless words as he saw the pained look in her eyes.  "I won't go in
for more than twenty or thirty feet, just to see if there's anything
about this place that we really ought to know.  You stay here and I'll
be back before you fairly know I've gone."

She reluctantly loosened her grasp of his arm and he plunged forward
into the darkness.

For the first ten feet or so, the going was rendered rather difficult
by projecting bits of rock that caught at his clothes and impeded his
progress.  But then the passage widened out steadily until he could not
feel the sides even when his arms were stretched to their utmost limit.

The light that had followed him from the small entrance finally
vanished, and he went forward with the utmost caution, carefully
planting each foot for the next step.  At any moment, for all he knew,
he might find himself on the brink of a precipice.

"Black as Egypt in here," he muttered to himself, as he felt for the
matches he carried in an oilskin bag in the pocket of his coat.  "I
guess I'd better strike a----"

But he never finished the sentence.

A deafening roar resounded through the cavern and he was thrown
violently forward on his hands and knees.  Again came that dizzy,
sickening shaking of the earth, that nauseating sense of being lifted
to a height and suddenly let fall, that squirming of the ground beneath
him as though it were a gigantic reptile.

His earlier experience in the open air had been bad enough, but there
at least he had had the sense of space and sunlight and companionship.
Here in the darkness and confinement the horrors of the earthquake were
multiplied.

For more than a minute, which seemed to him an hour, the convulsions of
the earth continued.  Then they gradually subsided, though it was some
minutes later before the quivering finally ceased.

Dazed and bewildered, Allen Drew scrambled to his feet.  His hands were
scraped and bleeding, though he thought little of this in his mental
perturbation.

His thought turned instantly to Ruth.  What might have happened to her
while he was away from her?  The trees were thick near the mouth of the
cave.  Suppose one had fallen and caught her before she could escape?

He started to rush back to the entrance, but to his astonishment, could
see no trace of the light that had marked the place where the opening
had been.

He stopped short, puzzled and alarmed.

"That's queer," he muttered.  "I guess that jar I got has turned me
around.  It must be in the other direction."

He hastily retraced his steps.  But as the cave grew wider and he found
no sign of the narrow passage by which he had entered, he knew that he
was wrong.

"Must have had it right the first time," he thought, "but it's strange
that I didn't see any light.  Perhaps there was a bend in the passage
that I hadn't noticed."

Again he went back, feeling his way.  The path narrowed and his
outstretched hand came in contact with a shred of cloth that had been
torn from his coat when he had entered.  This was proof positive that
he was on the right track.  But where then was the light?

The answer came to him with startling suddenness when he plunged
violently into a mass of earth and rock that barred his way.

_The entrance to the cave had vanished!_

In its place was a vast mass of earth, a slice of the mountain side
that had been torn loose by that last mighty writhing of tortured
nature and that now held him as securely a prisoner as though he were
in the center of the earth.



CHAPTER XXIII

A DESPERATE SITUATION

Mechanically, Drew took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the
cold sweat from his brow.  He tried to steady his reeling brain and
bring some semblance of order into his thoughts.

This then was the end!  Trapped like a rat in a cage, shut out forever
from the world of men, doomed to die miserably and hopelessly,--sealed
in a tomb while yet alive!

All the dreams he had cherished, all the hopes he had nourished, all
the future he had planned--planned with Ruth----

Ruth!

The thought of her wrung his soul with anguish, but it also woke him
from his torpor.

He _would_ see her again!  He would not surrender!  He would _not_ die!
Not while a breath remained in his body would he give in to despair.
There must be some way out.  Fate would not be so cruel as to carry its
ghastly joke to the very end.  He would call on all his resources.  He
would struggle, fight, never give up for a moment.

His brain cleared and he took a grip on himself.  The blood once more
ran hot in his veins.  His youth and manhood asserted themselves in
dauntless vigor and determination.

The first thing to do was to attack the wall of fresh dirt and rock
that hemmed him in.  Perhaps it was less thick than it seemed.  He had
no implement to help him; but his muscular arms and powerful hands
might suffice to dig a way to freedom.

He sought to fortify himself by calling to mind all that he had ever
read about prisoners digging their way to freedom.  Their cases had
seemed desperate, but often they had succeeded.  He too would
succeed--he must succeed.  Ruth was outside waiting for him, working
for him, praying for him.

He set to work with a dogged resolution and fierce energy that soon had
the perspiration flowing from him in streams.  Behind him the dirt and
debris piled up in a rapidly growing mound.  His hands and nails were
torn, but his excitement and absorption were so great that no sensation
of physical pain was conveyed to his overwrought brain.

At times he stopped to rest a moment and to listen for the stroke of
pick or shovel from the opposite side of his living grave.  But no
sound came to him.  He seemed to be in a soundless universe except for
the rasp of his own labored breathing.

It was after one of these intervals of listening that he was about to
resume his frenzied efforts when he thought he heard a slight sound in
the cave behind him.

His heart seemed to stand still for a moment while he strained his ears.

There was no mistake.  Some living thing was in the cave besides
himself!

Instinctively, his hand gripped the butt of his revolver.  Then with a
bitter smile he put it back in its place.  Why should he hurt or kill
anything that was alive?  Death seemed sure enough for any occupant of
that cave.

He went back stealthily until he reached the wider part of the cave,
where he had been when the shock came that had entombed him.

Again that faint sound, undeniably human, came to his ears.  Pacing
cautiously in the direction from which it came, his foot struck against
something soft.  He reached down and his hand came in contact with a
woman's dress.

In an instant he had gathered the yielding form in his arms.

"Ruth!" he shouted.

"Allen!" came back faintly from her parted lips.

For an instant everything reeled about Drew and his mind was awhirl.
Then he laid his burden down and fell frantically to rubbing her hands.
Incoherent cries came from his lips as he sought to restore her to
complete consciousness.

His vigorous efforts were rewarded a few moments later when Ruth
stirred and tried to sit up.

"I must have fainted," she said; "or perhaps I struck my head against
the side of the cave when the shock came."

"Don't try to talk yet," said Drew.  "Just lie still a few minutes till
you are stronger."

She obeyed, while he sat beside her holding her hand.

"I can sit up now," she said after a few minutes.  "My head is
perfectly clear again."

"Are you sure you didn't hurt yourself when you fell?"

"I think not," she answered, as she passed her hand over her hair.  "My
head doesn't seem to be bruised or bleeding anywhere.  It must have
been the shock."

"Thank God it was nothing worse!" returned Drew fervently.  "But tell
me how you happened to be here.  It seems like a miracle.  The whole
thing staggers me.  I thought I left you outside of the cave when I
went in."

"So you did," she assented with a touch of her old demureness, "but
that doesn't say that I stayed there."

"I see it doesn't," he replied.  "But why didn't you?"

"I guess it's because I'm not used to obeying anybody except my
father," she answered evasively.

"Tell me the real reason."

"Well," she said, driven to bay, "I was afraid there might be something
dangerous in here and--and--I didn't want you to have to face it
alone--and"--here she paused.

Drew's heart beat wildly.

"And so you came in to stand by my side," he said with emotion.  "Ruth,
Ruth----"

"But now," said Ruth hastily, following up her advantage, "we must
hurry and get back to the others.  Father will begin to worry about me."

Anguish smote Drew.  Ruth had evidently not the slightest idea that
anything stood between her and freedom.  How could he break the
dreadful news to her?  He felt like an executioner compelled by some
awful fate to slay the one he loved most dearly.

"You mustn't look at me after we get outside until I've had a chance to
arrange my hair," she warned him gaily.  "I must look a perfect fright."

Every innocent word was a stab that went straight to the man's heart.

His mind was a tumult of warring emotions.  At first there had been a
wild delight when he had found himself in the presence of his heart's
desire, after he feared that he would never hear her voice again.  In
the excitement of bringing her back to consciousness and listening to
her story, the fearful peril in which they stood had been relegated to
the background.  Now it came back at him with re-doubled force, and he
had to close his lips tightly to suppress a groan.

He could have died alone, if escape had proved impossible, and met
death like a man.  But to have to watch Ruth die--die perhaps after
enduring unspeakable suffering--the mere thought threatened to drive
him mad.

And she was here because she had feared that he might encounter danger
and wanted to meet it at his side when it came.  But for that
courageous impulse, she might at this moment be safe and sound out
under the open sky instead of being buried alive in this island tomb.

Moreover her very presence here made their danger all the greater.
There was little chance now of help coming to them from the outside.
No doubt Tyke and Captain Hamilton would grow uneasy at their absence
and look them up--probably they were hunting for them now.  But they
did not know of the existence of the cave, and now that the entrance
was closed there was not the slightest chance of finding them.  They
would explore the mountain side, search every foot of the island, but
their quest would be doomed to failure from the beginning.

While these thoughts had been hurrying through his tortured brain, Ruth
had arranged her disordered hair as best she could in the darkness and
stood ready to go.

"Well, Allen, what are we waiting for?" she asked.  "You men are always
complaining that the girls keep you waiting, but this time you're the
guilty one."

He tried to adopt her bantering mood, but failed miserably.

"I'll have to throw myself on your mercy," he said.  "But wait here a
moment, Ruth, till I see if the path is clear."

Even in the darkness, he was almost conscious that she looked at him in
surprise.  But he needed time to get his thoughts together and decide
on the easiest way of breaking the terrible news that weighed on his
heart.

He cudgeled his brain to find the gentlest, most reassuring phrases
that would alarm her least and keep up her courage.  But there was the
stark, hideous fact that could not be blinked or dodged, and when at
last his lagging steps returned, he was no nearer a solution of his
problem than before.

"I declare you sound like Tyke coming along the passage," Ruth laughed
merrily.  "They say bad news travels fast.  So your news must be good,
or you wouldn't be coming so slowly."

"I only wish you were right," he said, grasping at the opening.  "But
to tell the truth my news isn't any too good.  Oh, nothing to be
alarmed about," he added hastily, as he caught her stifled exclamation.
"A little loose earth seems to have come down the slope of the hill and
blocked up the entrance.  I'll get to work at it and clear it out in a
jiffy."

He tried to throw a world of confidence into his tone, but it failed to
ring true.  In the darkness he heard Ruth catch her breath.

"Let's go and see just how bad it is," was all she said, and Drew with
a chill in his heart, led the way.

"What is this dirt in here?" asked Ruth, as she stumbled over a mound
that Allen had thrown behind him in his frantic digging.

"Oh, that's some that I've dug out already," Allen replied with assumed
carelessness.  "I just wanted to find out how hard the dirt was and
whether it would give way easily.  It's fresh and soft and we'll get
the whole lot out of our way in no time."

He was about to start in again at the task when Ruth laid her hand upon
his arm.

"You didn't dig all this out in that minute you were away from me just
now," she said quietly.  "You must have been working while I lay in
there unconscious.  Come now, Allen, tell me the whole truth.  Remember
that I am a sailor's daughter and am not afraid to face things, no
matter how bad they may be.  The cave entrance is badly blocked up,
isn't it?"

"God bless your staunch, plucky heart, Ruth," blurted out Drew, his own
heart kindling at her courage.  "You're one woman in a thousand, yes,
in a million.  I might have known you'd face the truth without weeping
or hysterics.  You're right about the landfall.  I'm afraid it's a
heavy one.  I've been digging at it for some time without making much
impression.  But after all it's all guess-work and it may not be so
thick as it seems to be.  We may let daylight through at any minute.
At any rate I'm going at it like a tiger.  I worked hard before when I
thought I was alone, but now that I've got you to look out for I'll do
ten times as much.  I've only begun to fight.  We're just going to get
out of this and that's all there is about it."

"And I'll help you," cried Ruth.

"Not with those little hands," replied the man vehemently.  "You just
stand back there and pray while I do the work."

"Those little hands, as you call them, are stronger than you think.
I'm going to work with all my might and help you out.  And that won't
keep me from praying either.  I guess the cave women used to work and
fight just about as much as the men, and I'm a cave woman now if I
never was before."

Again Drew sought to deter her, but she was determined and he had to
let her have her way.  The only concession he could gain was to make
her put on a pair of buckskin gloves that dangled at his belt.  They
were woefully large for her shapely hands and at any other time would
have furnished a subject for jesting.  But nothing now was further from
their minds than laughter.  They were engaged on a grim work of life or
death and both of them knew it.

But though brave, there was a limit to Ruth's physical strength, and
under such strenuous and unaccustomed effort it was not long before
that limit was reached.  Drew discerned it coming before Ruth herself
would admit it.

He took her gently but firmly by both wrists and fairly compelled her
to sit down on one of the mounds, where he improvised a seat that
enabled her to rest her back against one side of the cave.  Then he
returned to the work with redoubled vigor, tossing the dirt aside as
though he were a tireless steam shovel.

But though Ruth's body was resting, her mind was working actively,
darting hither and thither in an effort to find a way of escape from
their fearful predicament.

"Allen," she said, as he stopped for an instant to rest, "come here and
sit down beside me."

He had never hesitated before at accepting that coveted invitation, but
just now he wondered whether he ought to stop even for an instant.  His
herculean efforts had brought him to the very edge of collapse, but he
was feverishly eager to keep on.

"Ought I, Ruth?" he questioned.  "Every minute now is precious, you
know."

"I know it," she admitted, "but you'll drop dead from exhaustion if you
don't stop and rest.  You must rest."

The gentle tyrant had her way and Drew yielded.  He sat down beside
her, his chest contracting and expanding under the stress of his
labored breathing.

"Poor boy!" she said softly, and Drew thrilled at the sympathy in her
tone.

"I've been thinking, Allen, that perhaps we had better not rely
entirely on your digging for getting out of here," she continued.
"It's all a guess as to how thick that wall of earth and rock is, and
we may be using on it the strength that we need for other things.  If
you had an implement of some kind it would be different.  But with your
bare hands together with what little help I can give you it may be
impossible."

"Yes," he was forced to concede, "I can't go on forever.  Sooner or
later my strength will give out.  But what can we do but keep on
trying?  I'd go raving mad if I didn't keep on taking the one little
chance we have."

"But is it the only chance we have?" she argued.  "Did you bring your
revolver with you?"

For answer he took it out of his belt and put it in her hand.

"Have you any extra cartridges?" she asked.

"Not a single one, but the revolver itself is fully loaded.  That's
just six we have to count on."

She was silent for a moment.

"There isn't any likelihood we'll have to use these for defending
ourselves," she said at length.  "There doesn't seem to be any living
thing in this cave of which we need to be afraid.  But, nevertheless,
suppose we keep two for emergencies.  That would give us four to
experiment with, wouldn't it?"

"Experiment?  How?" he inquired.

"I was thinking that perhaps father"--here her voice faltered a
little--"and Tyke might be somewhere in the neighborhood hunting for
us.  If we should discharge the revolver they might possibly hear one
or more of the shots and get some idea of where we were.  I know it's
only a forlorn hope, but we've got to try everything just now."

"It's a good idea!" exclaimed Drew, though he knew in his heart how
slender a chance it offered.  "And in the meantime, I'll keep on
digging, so that if the shots aren't heard we won't be any worse off
anyway.  You fire the four shots at intervals of a minute or two and
we'll see what happens."

He went savagely to work again and Ruth at short intervals discharged
the revolver.  The noise and the echoes in that compressed space were
deafening and it certainly seemed as though the sound ought to
penetrate to the world outside.

But though they fairly held their breath as they listened for a
response, no answering sound penetrated from the outside into the
cavern, and their hearts sank as they realized that one more of their
few hopes had failed them.

"It's of no use," observed Ruth sadly, as she handed the weapon back to
Allen.  "Either they didn't hear the shots, or, if they did, they
thought it was some sound made by the volcano.  We'll have to try
something else."

Both were silent for a few moments, immersed in bitter thoughts that
were as black as the darkness that surrounded them.

"Can you ever forgive me, Ruth, for having gotten you into such a trap
as this?" he burst out suddenly.

"You didn't get me in it," protested Ruth.  "I came in of my own
accord."

"I don't mean that," explained Drew.  "But you tried to persuade me not
to enter the cave in the first place, and if I'd only had sense enough
to listen to you; we'd both of us be out in the sunlight at this
minute.  Headstrong fool that I was!" he ended in an agony of self
condemnation.

"Now don't blame yourself a bit for that, Allen," said Ruth earnestly.
"You only did what you thought you ought to do, and ninety-nine times
out of a hundred no harm would have come of it."

"And it was our luck to strike the hundredth time," replied Drew
bitterly.

"Besides," said Ruth with a trifle of hesitation, "I think I'd have
been a little disappointed at the time if you had done as I asked.  I'd
have felt that perhaps in your secret heart you did it apparently to
please me, but really because you were glad enough not to have to take
any chances of what you might meet in here."

Drew was somewhat puzzled at this bit of feminine psychology, but he
gathered some comfort from it, and this was perhaps after all the
result that Ruth was seeking.

"Do you notice, Allen, how fresh the air seems to be in here?" she
asked.

"I've been wondering at that," he answered.  "To tell the truth my
worst fear has been that it would get too close and foul for us to
breathe.  But it seems to be just as sweet now as it was at the
beginning."

"What do you suppose is the reason?"

"It must be that the cave is a little larger than it seems to be.  It
seemed to be getting bigger and bigger as I went further into it.  If
that is so, it accounts for the fact that the air supply has not yet
begun to be vitiated."

"But mayn't there be any other reason?" she asked.

"I can't think of any other," he answered.  Then as a thought suddenly
struck him, he jumped as though he had been shot.

"Why didn't I think of that before?" he fairly shouted.  "There may be
another entrance!"



CHAPTER XXIV

THE ALARM

Unaware of the possible tragedy that was being developed within a few
hundred yards of them, Tyke and Captain Hamilton had kept on digging in
the excavation.  For Tyke had refused to be kept out of the work of
recovering the treasure, and when Drew had strolled off with the
intention of discovering what had frightened Ruth and had been followed
shortly after by the latter, the old man had seized Drew's abandoned
shovel and had gone lustily to work.

"Too much of a strain on that game leg of yours to be heaving up those
shovelfuls," the captain protested.

"Nary a bit of it," answered Tyke.  "I ain't ready to be put on the
shelf yet, not by a blamed sight, and I guess if it came to a showdown,
Rufe, my muscles are as good as yours."

"You're a tough old knot all right," admitted Captain Hamilton, his
eyes twinkling.  "But there's no sense in your doing Allen's work.
Where in thunder has the boy gone anyway?"

"Oh, he'll turn up in a minute or two," returned Tyke.  "Wherever he is
you can bet your boots he's doing something connected with this here
work of treasure seeking.  It simply ain't in that boy to lay down on
any job."

"Drew makes a hit with you all right," laughed the captain.

"And why shouldn't he?" asked Tyke belligerently.  "He's been with me
for some years now, and I've had plenty of chances of sizin' him up.
If there was a yellow streak in him, I'd have found it out long ago.
If I'd had a son of my own, I wouldn't have asked for him to be any
better fellow than Allen is, and nobody could say any more'n that.
He's got grit an' brains an' gumption, an' more'n that he's as straight
as a string."

"Go ahead," laughed the captain, as Tyke paused for want of breath.
"Don't let me stop you."

"I don't mind tellin' you, Rufe, what I've never told yet to any human
soul," continued Tyke, waxing confidential, "an' that is that when I
lay up in my last harbor, Allen is goin' to come into everything I've
got.  He don't know it himself yet, but I've got it down shipshape in
black and white an' the paper's in my office safe."

"He's a lucky fellow," commented the captain briefly.

"An' let me tell you another thing, Rufe," said Tyke, "an' that is that
Allen would make not only a good son, but a mighty good son-in-law."

He nudged the captain in the ribs as he spoke, with the familiarity of
old comradeship.

"Lay off on that, Tyke," said the captain, flushing a little beneath
his bronze.

"You don't mean to say that you haven't seen the way the wind was
blowin'?" rejoined Tyke incredulously.  "Why, any one with a pair of
good eyes in his head can't help but see that those two are just made
for each other."

"I'm not blind, of course," returned the captain, who now that the ice
was broken seemed not averse to talking the matter over with his old
comrade.  "I know of course that I can't keep Ruth forever and that
some time some fellow will lay me aboard and carry her off right from
under my guns.  And I'm not denying that up to a few days ago, I'd
rather it would have been young Drew than any one else.  But now--"
here he paused.

"Well, but now," repeated Tyke.

"You know just as well as I do what I'm meaning," blurted out Captain
Hamilton.  "This matter of Parmalee's death has got to be cleared up
before I'd even consider him in connection with Ruth.  You can't blame
me for that, Tyke."

The old man's face clouded.

"I ain't exactly blaming you, Rufe," he conceded, for despite his
ardent partisanship of Allen, he could realize how Captain Hamilton as
a parent must feel; "but I'm mortal sure that thing will be cleared up
before long.  You know just as well as I do that Allen didn't kill
Parmalee any more than you or I did."

"That's what I want to believe," returned the captain.  "I mean," he
corrected, as he saw the choleric flash in Tyke's eyes, "that's what I
do believe."

"It's that scoundrel, Ditty, that did it himself," growled Tyke
savagely.  "He cooked up the whole thing and then shoved it off on
Allen.  You've seen enough of him since then to know that he's capable
of anything."

"Yes," admitted the captain, "he's a dirty dog.  But don't you see,
Tyke, that even allowing that Allen is innocent, he's been _charged_
with doing it.  And to lots of people, that's just about the same as
though he were actually guilty.  Then, too, the matter will have to be
tried out in the courts.  Allen will have to stand trial and even if he
gets off, as I hope he will, there'll be a cloud on his name as long as
he lives.  How could I let Ruth marry a man who had been charged with
murder and who got off because there wasn't evidence enough to convict?"

"Mebbe Ruth would be willing to take the chance," persisted Tyke
stubbornly.

"Maybe she would," agreed the captain, "but she'd never do it with my
consent.  She's too good and sweet and pretty a girl to link her life
with a man whose name was smirched.  I wouldn't stand for it for a
minute."

Tyke was framing a reply when suddenly the earthquake which wrought
such dire results to the two of whom they were speaking shook the
ground.  The two men were thrown against each other and both went in a
heap to the bottom of the ditch.  The breath was knocked out of their
bodies, and every thought was driven from their minds except the
instinctive desire to remain alive until nature's onslaught had ceased.

When the worst was over, they scrambled to their feet, brushed the dirt
from their clothes and faces, and stared grimly at each other.

"If it didn't seem too conceited to think that all this fuss was being
made on our account," growled the captain, as he picked up his spade.
"I'd surely make up my mind that something was trying to shoo us away
from this treasure hunting."

"Yes," agreed Tyke.  "Now, if I was superstitious--"

"I wonder," broke in the captain with sudden alarm, as he thought of
the two errant members of the party, "where Ruth and Allen were when
this quake happened."

"The only safe thing is to say that they were together somewhere," said
Tyke.  "I notice that they're never far apart.  Don't you worry, Rufe.
Allen will take good care of her."

But the captain was already climbing out of the excavation.  He gave
Tyke a hand and helped him up.

"Where did you last see them, Tyke?" Hamilton asked, as his eyes
scanned the surrounding landscape without catching a glimpse of the
figures he sought.

"The last I saw of Allen he was going down toward them trees," replied
Tyke, indicating a corner of the jungle, "an' a little later, out o'
the corner of my eye, I saw Ruth going in the same direction.  Now,
don't fret, Rufe.  They'll turn up as right as a trivet in another
minute or two."

"The jungle!" gasped the captain in alarm.  "Don't you see, Tyke, that
some of those trees have been shaken down.  Maybe they've been caught
under one of them.  Hurry!  hurry!"

He set off, running hurriedly, and Tyke hastened after him as fast as
he could.

They were soon at the jungle's edge.  Several giant trees had fallen
victims to the earthquake's wrath, but a frantic searching among their
trunks revealed no traces of the missing ones.

The captain wiped his brow and gave a great sigh of relief.

"So far, so good!" he exclaimed.  "They've escaped that danger anyway.
I had a fearful scare.  I don't mind admitting that my heart was in my
mouth for a minute."

"Same here," assented Tyke, who despite his faith in Drew's
resourcefulness had secretly shared the captain's alarm.  "But if
they're not here, where in Sam Hill can they be?"

They raised their voices in a shout, but no answering sound came back.

Several times they repeated the call, but all to no purpose.

"Strange," muttered the captain uneasily.  "It isn't like Ruth to go
off to any distance without telling me about it beforehand."

"Nor Allen neither," put in Tyke loyally.

"You might almost think the earth had swallowed them up," pursued the
captain, little thinking how near he was to guessing the truth.

"Well, the only thing to do is to keep looking for 'em until we find
'em," said Tyke.  "You take that side of the hill, Rufe, and I'll take
the other.  We'll come across them probably before we meet up with each
other."

The two men separated on their quest, calling out at frequent
intervals.  It did not take them long to skirt the base of the whale's
hump, but when at last they met each saw only disappointment and a
growing alarm in the eyes of the other.

"We'll have to try it again and make a wider circle," exclaimed
Hamilton desperately.  "We've simply got to come across them somewhere
around here."

"Of course we shall," said Tyke heartily, though the crease in his
forehead belied the confidence of his words.

Once more they made the round of the hump, this time ranging out much
further from the base.  Still their efforts were fruitless, and when
they met once more, neither tried to disguise from the other the
growing panic in his heart.

"Ruth, Ruth!" groaned the captain.

"Come now, Rufe, brace up," comforted Tyke.  "While there's life
there's hope."

"That's just it," replied the captain.  "But how do we know there is
life?  Something serious must have happened to them, or they'd never
stay away like this.  They'd know we'd be worried about them after that
shock came and they couldn't have come back to us quick enough, if
they'd been able to come."

Tyke could not deny the force of this.

"Well now, Rufe, let's get down to the bottom of this," he said.  "I'm
afraid just as you be that they're in trouble of some kind.  Now what
could make trouble for them on this island?  There ain't any wild
beasts of any account here, do you think?"

"Not that I ever heard of," replied the captain.  "We're too far south
for mountain lions and too far north for jaguars.  There may be an
occasional wildcat, but it wouldn't be likely to attack a single person
let alone two together.  There may be snakes here though for all I
know."

"Nothing doing there," said Tyke decisively.  "Mebbe there's boas, but
if so there're a mild and harmless kind, such as those they make
household pets of in some places to keep away the rats.  And if there
are any poisonous snakes, it's against all likehood that both Ruth and
Allen would be bitten.  One of them would come scurrying to us at once
for help for the other.

"Besides," he went on, "I know that Allen had his revolver along with
him and he's a sure shot.  No, I don't think we have to worry about
animals or snakes."

"What is there left then?" groaned the captain.

"There's two things left," replied Tyke reflectively.  "One of 'em is
old nature herself.  What she can do is a plenty, as we've seen since
we come to this island----."

"This infernal island," broke in the captain viciously.  "I wish to
heaven we'd never seen it.  I wish some one of these earthquakes had
sent it to the bottom of the sea."

"I don't blame you much," assented Tyke.  "But being here, we've got to
take things as they come.  Now, as I was saying, old nature may have
taken a hand in causing trouble for the two young folks.  But for the
life of me I don't see how.  We've already seen that they weren't
caught under those falling trees.  And there didn't any lava flow come
with that last quake.  And that being so I can't see where nature's got
into the game.

"Now," he continued, "there's just one thing left--and that's men!
There may be some natives on this island that feel sore at our butting
in on 'em and they may have come across them youngsters and captured
'em."

"I don't think that's at all likely," rejoined the captain.  "There'd
certainly have been some sign of them, some boat, some hut or something
else of the kind.  But we haven't seen hide or hair of anything since
we landed.  The boat's crew, too, have been roaming over the island and
they'd have reported to us anything they'd seen that looked as though
people lived in this God-forsaken spot."

"Yes," assented Tyke.  "And it stands to reason that Allen with his
automatic would have put up a fight and we'd have heard the sound of
shots.  But there are other men besides natives on the island."

"What do you mean?" asked the captain in surprise.

"I mean Ditty and his gang of water rats," replied Tyke.

"You don't think that skunk would dare--" spluttered the captain.

"I think that one-eyed rascal would dare almost anything," answered
Tyke.  "And it struck me as barely possible that he might have come
sneaking around to see what we were doing and perhaps run across Allen
and Ruth.  There's bad blood there, as you know, and it wouldn't take
much to bring about a scrap.

"Not that I think that has happened," he went on, "because it isn't
likely that Ditty's plans are far enough forward yet for him to show
his hand.  Still I may be wrong.  I tell you what I think you'd better
do.  You can git around faster than I can with this old game leg of
mine.  Suppose you run back to the shore and see if Ditty is hanging
around there.  If he is and everything seems shipshape we can leave him
out of our calculations.  Then we'll have to figure out what we're to
do next."

It was grasping at straws, but in their utter ignorance of the real
facts they had nothing but straws to grasp at.  The captain set off
hurriedly, while Tyke went once more around the mountain base in the
forlorn hope that this time something tangible would come to reward his
efforts.

Once he thought he heard something that sounded like shots and he
stopped short in his tracks.  His old eyes, keen yet, despite his
years, looked eagerly around.  But as far as his eyes could reach there
was nothing to be seen, and he came to the conclusion that he must have
imagined the sounds or that they were caused by some rumbling of the
earth.

In a surprisingly short time, the captain was back, panting and winded
by his exertions.

"Well," asked Tyke eagerly, "did you find out anything?"

"The men were all huddled down on the shore evidently scared out of
their wits.  I guess we can cross them off our slate.  But how about
you?  Did you find any clue?"

"Nary a thing," answered Tyke dejectedly.  "I thought at one time that
I heard shots, but when I come to look it up there was nothing in it."

"We must find them!" cried the captain excitedly, pacing back and forth
like a wild animal and digging his nails into his palms as he clenched
his fists in anguish.  "We'll go over every foot of this island.  I'll
get out every man on the ship and set him to work searching."

"I wouldn't do that--at least not yit," adjured Tyke, laying his hand
on the captain's arm.  "Of course we may have to do that as a last
resort.  But you know what sailors are, an' we don't want to have 'em
cracking their jokes 'bout Allen an' Ruth going off together.  Wait a
bit.  The day's young yet an' they may turn up any time of their own
accord.  In the meantime, we'll explore places that we haven't tried
before an' mebbe we'll run across 'em.  If everything else fails, then
we'll turn out every man jack of the crew and go over every inch of the
island."

To the agonized father, everything that savored of delay seemed
intolerable, but he yielded to the wisdom of Tyke's suggestion and once
more they started out in their desperate search.



CHAPTER XXV

THE LAKE OF FIRE

Drew was all animation in an instant at the new hope that sprang up
within him with its offer of possible safety for his companion and
himself.

"Why didn't I think of it before?" he repeated, his voice shaken with
excitement.

"You didn't think of it before, because you were working like a slave.
No man can work like that and think of anything but what he is doing.
Oh, Allen, won't it be great if you are right?"

"I'm going to see if I am right," he replied.

"How can you tell?" she asked divining that he was fumbling at his
pocket.

"In this way," he answered, drawing out the oilskin bag that contained
his precious matches.

He struck a match and held it aloft.

At first the flame mounted straight up in the air.  Then an instant
later it was deflected and stood out at a distinct angle from the stick.

"See," cried Allen jubilantly.  "There's a current of air in the cave.
It's too slight for us to feel, but the flame feels it.  If we were
sealed up utterly in the cave, the air would be still.  Somewhere the
air is coming in from the outside world and it's up to us to find out
where."

"Thank God!" murmured Ruth tremulously.

In the sudden transition from despair to hope, they took little account
of the difficulties they might have to overcome before they reached
that other entrance--or the exit, from their point of view--which they
had reason to believe existed.  But as their first jubilation subsided
somewhat, a soberer view began to thrust itself upon them.

Admitting that there was an exit, what guarantee had they of reaching
it?  Suppose a fathomless gulf barred their way?  Suppose the passage
narrowed to a point too small for them to thrust themselves through?
Suppose when the coveted exit should at last be found it should prove
to be in the ceiling of the cave instead of the side, and hopelessly
out of reach?

But they quickly dismissed these dismal forebodings.  Those problems
could wait for solution until they faced them.  The present at least
was illumined by hope.

"Come along, Ruth," cried Allen gaily.  "Pack up your trunks and let's
be moving."

"Only too gladly," the girl responded, falling into his mood.  "I never
did care much for this place anyway."

But suddenly a reflection came to her.

"How are we to find our way in this pitch darkness?" she asked.  "I
don't know how many matches you have with you, but at the most they
can't last long.  And the time may come when a match would be more
precious than a diamond."

Drew took out his bag again, and, taking the greatest precautions not
to drop one, counted the matches by the sense of touch.

"Just thirty-two," he announced when he had counted them twice.

"Only thirty-two!" echoed Ruth.  "And we may need a hundred and
thirty-two before we get to the other mouth of the cave."

For a moment Drew pondered.

"You're right, as always, Ruth," he agreed.  "We can't depend on the
matches alone.  We'll have to get something that will serve as a torch.
While I was digging, I remember I came across many branches of trees
that had been carried down by the slide in its rush.  We'll see if we
can't make some torches out of them."

He set lustily to work and soon had as many as ten good-sized sticks
that promised to supply his need.  He was afraid that not being
seasoned wood they would prove difficult to light.  But there proved to
be a resinous quality in the wood that atoned for its greenness, and
before long he had a torch that burned steadily though rather murkily.

"Eureka!" he cried waving it aloft.

"Good for you, Allen," applauded Ruth.  "Now give me the rest of those
sticks to carry and you go ahead with the lighted torch."

"I'll carry them myself," he protested.

"No you won't," she said decidedly, at the same time gathering them up
in her arms.  "You'll have the torch in one hand and you need to have
the other free for emergencies."

He recognized the common sense of this, but found it hard to let her do
it.

"It's too much like the Indians," he said.  "You know that with them
the buck carries his dignity, while his squaw carries everything else."

"But I'm not your squaw," slipped saucily from Ruth's lips before she
could realize the possible significance of her remark.

"Not yet," replied Allen daringly, wanting to bite his tongue out a
moment later for having taken advantage of her slip.

"But let's hurry now, Ruth," he went on hastily to cover their mutual
confusion.  "Follow close in my steps and don't keep more than two or
three feet behind me at any time."

They set off on the unknown path whose end meant to them either
deliverance or death.  The chances were against them, but their hearts
were high and their courage steadfast.

They had need of all their fortitude, for they had not advanced forty
paces before danger menaced them.

Drew holding his torch high so as to throw its light as far ahead as
possible, stepped on what seemed to be a crooked stick in the path.
Instantly the stick sprang to life, and a powerful, slimy coil wound
itself around the man's leg as high as the knee.

His first impulse was to spring back.  His next was to grind down with
crushing force on the squirming thing beneath his heel.  The second
impulse conquered the first and he stood like a statue while a cold
sweat broke out all over his body.

For he had realized by the feel that it was the reptile's head that was
beneath his heel and must be kept there at all costs until the life was
crushed out of it.

Gradually the writhings grew feebler, until at last the coils relaxed
and fell in a heap about his foot.

"What is it Allen?" asked Ruth in alarm at his sudden stop and rigid
pose.  "Do you see anything?"

"There's no danger," he assured her, though his voice was not quite
steady.  "I must have stepped on a lizard or something like that, and
it gave me a start."

He kicked the mangled reptile out of the path, but not before Ruth's
horrified glance had seen that it was no lizard but something far more
deadly.

Here was a new terror added to the others.  For all they knew there
might be a colony of the reptiles in the cave.  And in that
semi-tropical region, the chances were vastly in favor of their being
poisonous.  At all events it behooved them to advance with redoubled
caution.

They kept a wary lookout for anything that looked like a crooked stick
after that, and their progress, already slow, became still slower as
they went on.

Before long they came to a place where the cave seemed to divide into
three separate passageways.  Two of them had nothing to distinguish
them from each other, but in the third they distinguished a faint light
in the distance.

"The blessed light!" exclaimed Ruth fervently.

"I guess that's the path to take, all right," exulted Drew.  "In all
probability that light comes from the outlet of the cave.  Hurrah for
us, Ruth!"

Ruth echoed his enthusiasm, and they accelerated their pace.  The hope
that they had cherished seemed now about to become certainty.

But the way was rougher now, and at one place they had to make a long
detour.  But they made no complaint.  As long as no impassable barrier
of rock loomed up before them they could feel that they were getting
nearer and nearer to freedom and life.

But before long both became conscious of a steadily-growing heat in the
air of the cave.  The perspiration flowed from them in streams.  At
first they were inclined to attribute this to their strenuous exertions
and the mental strain under which they were laboring.

"Strange it should be so frightfully hot," remarked Drew, as he stopped
for a moment to wipe his brow.

"It's no wonder," responded Ruth.  "It's hot enough on this island even
when you're in the outer air, and it would naturally be worse still in
this confined place."

"But we didn't feel that way ten minutes ago," objected Drew.

"We've done a good deal of walking since then," said Ruth, though
rather doubtfully.  "But let's get along, Allen.  I'm just crazy to get
to the outlet."

They were about to resume their journey, when a great flame of fire
leaped to the very roof of the cave about a hundred yards in front of
them.

They stopped abruptly, and in the smoky light of the torch both of
their faces were white as chalk, as they faced each other with a
question in their eyes.

"Fire!" gasped the man.

"Yes," assented Ruth quietly but bitterly.  "What we thought was
daylight is nothing other than fire."

"Shall we keep on?" debated Allen.

"We're so close that we might as well," advised Ruth.  "Perhaps we may
be able to get around it somehow."

They went forward, though with excessive care, and a moment later stood
on the brink of the most awe-inspiring spectacle they had ever
witnessed.

In a deep pit perhaps six hundred feet in circumference was a lake of
liquid fire!  The molten lava twisted and writhed as though a thousand
serpents were coiling and uncoiling.  A vapor rose from the fiery mass
that glowed with a hideous radiance in all the colors of the spectrum.

At intervals, huge geysers of living flame spurted up from the surface
to a height of many feet and fell back in a glistening of molten gold
and coruscating diamonds.

It was a scene that if it could have been viewed with safety would have
drawn tourists in thousands from every corner of the globe.

But to the two spectators the thought that they were looking on one of
the marvels of the world brought nothing but desolation and despair.

"This must be the source of the lava flow when the whale's hump is in
eruption," said Drew in a toneless voice.

"I suppose so," said Ruth in a voice that for dreariness was a replica
of his own.  "Do you think it's possible for us to get around it in any
way, Allen?"

"Not a chance in the world," answered Drew.  "You can see that the
passage we followed ends at the brink of the crater.  From there on,
there's just a wall of solid rock.  The only thing left for us to do is
to get back to the place where the cave split into three parts."

They retraced their steps with hearts that grew heavier at every step.
The passage that had seemed most promising had yielded nothing but
bitter disappointment.  Only two other chances remained, and who could
tell that they led anywhere but to death?

At the juncture of the passageways, they hesitated for a moment only.
There was absolutely nothing to indicate that they should take one of
the remaining two paths rather than the other.  Impenetrable blackness
covered both.

"Which shall it be, Ruth?" asked Drew.

"You do the choosing, Allen," Ruth responded.

At a venture he took the one leading to the left, but had not proceeded
more than a hundred feet when he stopped abruptly on the very brink of
a chasm that spanned the entire width of the passage-way.  There was no
ledge however narrow to furnish a foothold along its sides.  Once more
they were absolutely blocked.

Drew checked a groan and Ruth stifled something suspiciously like a
sob.  The tension under which they were was fast reaching the breaking
point.

"Never mind," said Drew, stoutly recovering himself.  "There's luck in
odd numbers and the third time we win."

"First the worst, second the same, last the best of all the game,"
responded Ruth with an attempt at heartiness.

Again they went back and took the only way remaining.  Upon the ending
of that passage their life or death depended.

But as they advanced steadily and no barrier interfered, their spirits
rose.  Then suddenly they cried aloud in their joy, for on turning a
sharp bend in the path a rush of air almost extinguished the torch that
Drew was carrying.

A hundred feet ahead was an opening thickly covered with bushes, but
large enough to admit of forcing a passage!

Ruth dropped her load of surplus torches.  Drew, grasping her arm,
hurried her along.  He forced the bushes apart and pushed her through.
Then he followed.  They heard a wild shout and the next minute Ruth was
sobbing in her father's arms, while Tyke--hardy grizzled old Tyke--had
thrown his arms around Allen in a bear's hug and was blubbering like a
baby.



CHAPTER XXVI

HOPE DEFERRED

There was a wild babble of questions and answers, and it was a long
time before all had calmed down enough to talk coherently.

The captain and Tyke in their frantic search had come just abreast of
the outlet at the moment when Ruth and Allen had burst out into
daylight and safety.

Their hearts thrilled as they listened to the dreadful perils through
which had passed the two who were dearest to them on earth and the
narration was punctuated with expressions of consternation and sympathy.

"Well now," suggested Ruth after a half hour had passed, "let's get
back to work."

"No more work this afternoon," ejaculated the captain.  "You're going
straight back to the ship."

"Indeed I'm not, Daddy," rejoined Ruth.  "I'm all right now and I'll be
vastly happier sitting here and seeing you go on with the work than to
feel I've made you lose a day.  We've got some hours of daylight yet."

The captain protested, but Ruth coaxed and wheedled him till he
consented and they all went back to the ditch they had started and went
to work, Ruth alone of the party being forbidden to lift a finger.

They excavated to the volcanic ledge in half a dozen places.  In none
did they find a trace of treasure--not a sign that this soil had ever
before been disturbed by the hand of man.

"Bad mackerel!" grumbled Captain Hamilton, finally climbing out of his
last pit.  "This looks as if we'd been handed a rotten deal from a cold
deck."

Tyke looked up from his work, and began:

"Mebbe that--Now, if I was superstitious--Oh, well," he went on
hastily, "you can't expect to find a fortune in a minute."

"But we got the bearings all right, according to the map, didn't we?"
demanded the captain with some asperity.

"We certainly did," Drew put it.

"We can't dig over the whole island," complained Captain Hamilton.  "It
would be foolish.  Hush!  What's that?"

A rumble, a sound from the very bowels of the hill, smote upon their
ears.  Ruth ran to them.

"Oh, Daddy!" she cried, "is there going to be another earthquake?"

"Look there!" Drew said pointing upward.

Over the summit of the whale's hump hung a balloon of smoke, or of
steam, its underside of a lurid hue.

"I say I've had enough for one day," declared the master of the _Bertha
Hamilton_.  "Let's get back to the schooner before anything else
occurs.  Maybe a night's sleep will put heart in us.  But I tell you
right now, I, for one, would sell my share in the pirate's treasure at
a big discount."

The captain was the most outspoken of the treasure seekers; but they
were all despondent.  They hid their digging tools, and departed for
the shore of the lagoon, the volcano rumbling at times behind them.

They emerged from the forest just as the sun was setting.  As they came
out on the beach they were surprised to see that it was bare.  Neither
the longboat nor the smaller one was in sight, nor could anything be
seen of the crews.

The captain called some of the men by name.  There was no response.
Then he cupped his hands at his mouth, and his stentorian voice rang
over the waters of the lagoon.

"Ship ahoy!"

In a moment there was an answering hail, and they soon saw that a boat
was being manned.  It came rapidly inshore, propelled by four members
of the crew, and, as it drew nearer, they could see that Rogers was
seated at the tiller.

As the boat reached the beach the second officer stepped out.

"What does this mean, Mr. Rogers?" asked the captain sternly.

"Mr. Ditty's orders, sir," replied the second officer.  "The men got
scared at the earthquake this morning, sir, and after that second quake
they flatly refused to stay ashore.  So Mr. Ditty let them go back to
the ship."

"But why didn't he leave the other boat's crew waiting for me?" asked
the captain.  "If they were afraid to remain ashore they could have
stayed in the boat, rigged an awning to shield them from the sun, and
laid off and on within hail."

"That's what I thought, sir, and I said as much to Mr. Ditty.  But he
shut me up sharp, and said it would be time enough to send a boat when
you should come in sight, sir."

The captain bit his lip, but said no more, and the party stepped into
the boat.  They soon reached the _Bertha Hamilton_, and all climbed
aboard.  The first officer was standing near the rail.

"Come aft and report to me after supper, Mr. Ditty," ordered the
captain brusquely.

"Aye, aye, sir," replied the mate.

As soon as supper was over and Ruth had gone to her stateroom the
captain started to go on deck, but Tyke put his hand on his arm.

"Going to give Ditty a dressing down, I suppose," he remarked.

"He's got it coming to him," snapped Captain Hamilton.

"He surely has," agreed Tyke.  "But have you thought that perhaps
that's jest what he wants you to do?"

The captain sat down heavily.

"Get it off your chest, Tyke," he said.  "Tell me what you mean."

"I mean jest this," said Tyke.  "Often there's trouble in the wind that
never comes to anything because the feller that's brewing it don't git
a chance to start it.  He fiddles 'round waiting for an opening; but if
he don't find it the trouble jest dies a natural death.

"Now, this Ditty, _I_ think, is looking for an opening.  As far as his
letting his own boat's crew come on board when you had told him to keep
them on shore for the day is concerned, that can be overlooked.  You
can't blame the men for being scared, an' any mate might be excused for
using his own judgment under those conditions.

"But his not keeping your boat's crew waiting for you, even if they
stayed a little away from the shore, was rank disrespect.  He knew you
would take it so.  He knew it would weaken your authority with the
crew.  An' he expects you'll call him down for it.  Isn't that so?"

"Of course it is," agreed Captain Hamilton.

"Well then," pursued Tyke, "if he did that deliberately, expecting
you'd rake him fore and aft for it, it shows that he wants you to start
something, don't it?  An' my principle in a fight is to find out what
the other feller wants and then not do it.  He wants to provoke you.
Don't let yourself be provoked or you'll play right into his hands."

"I might as well make him captain of the ship and be done with it,"
cried Captain Hamilton bitterly.  "I've never let a man get away with
anything like that yet."

"An' we won't let this feller git away with it for long," answered
Tyke.  "We'll give him a trimming he'll never forgit.  But we'll choose
our own time for it, an' that time ain't now.  Wait till we've found
the treasure an' got it safe on board.  Then, my mighty! if he starts
anything, put him an' his gang ashore an' sail without 'em."

"You think, then, he wants me to knock the chip off his shoulder?"
mused the captain.

"Exactly," replied Tyke.  "An' if you don't, he may be so flabbergasted
that before he cooks up anything new we'll have the whip hand of him."

"Well, I'll do as you say, though it sure does go against the grain."

Tyke's recipe worked; for when Ditty sauntered to the poop a little
later to receive the rebuke which he expected and which he was prepared
to resent, the wind was taken out of his sails by the captain's good
nature and pleasant smile.

"Quite a little scare the men got, I suppose, when they felt the quake
this morning?" Captain Hamilton inquired genially.

"Yes, sir," replied the mate.  "There was nothin' to do but to get back
to the ship.  Some of 'em was so scared that they would 've swum the
lagoon, and I didn't want 'em to do that for fear of sharks."

"Quite right, Mr. Ditty," returned the captain approvingly.  "That is
all."

Still Ditty lingered.

"I ordered the men in your boat to come back too," he said, eyeing the
skipper aslant.

"That was all right too," replied the captain absently, as though the
matter was of no importance.  "The ship was so near that it wasn't
worth while keeping the men out there in the sun all day."

Ditty stared.  This was not the strict disciplinarian that Captain
Hamilton had always been.  He hesitated, opened his mouth to say
something, found nothing to say, and at last, with his ideas
disordered, went sullenly away.  If he had planned to bring things to a
crisis he had signally failed.

Captain Hamilton watched the retreating back of his mate with a somber
glow in his eyes that contrasted strongly with the forced smile of a
moment before, and then retired to the cabin to go again into
conference with Grimshaw.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE GIANT AWAKES

Allen Drew had not been a party to the conference between Captain
Hamilton and Grimshaw after supper.  After the strenuous exertions of
the day he had felt the need of a bath and a change of linen.

Once more clothed and feeling refreshed, Drew paced the afterdeck with
his cigar, hearing the voices of Captain Hamilton and Tyke in the
former's cabin, but having no desire just then to join them.

Although his body was rejuvenated, his mind was far from peaceful.  He
had not lost hope of their finding what they had come so far to search
for; he still believed the pirate hoard to be buried on the side of the
whale's hump.  "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick;" but hope had not
been long enough deferred in this case to sicken any of the party of
treasure seekers.  Yet there was a great sickness at the heart of Allen
Drew.

That particular incident of the afternoon that had brought the
remembrance of Parmalee so keenly to his mind, had thrown a pall over
his thoughts not easily lifted.

It had shown, too, that Parmalee's strange and awful death had strongly
affected Ruth.  That mystery was likely to erect a barrier between the
girl and himself.  Indeed, it had done so already.  Drew felt it--he
knew it!

There was in her father's attitude something intangible, yet certain
enough, which spelled the captain's doubt of him.  As long as
Parmalee's disappearance remained unexplained, as long as Ditty's story
could not be disproved, Drew felt that Captain Hamilton would nurse in
his mind a doubt of his innocence.

And that doubt, if it remained, whether Drew was ever tried for the
crime of Parmalee's murder or not, just as surely put Ruth out of his
grasp as though his hands actually dripped of the dead man's blood.

Captain Hamilton would never see his daughter marry a man under such a
cloud.  Drew appreciated the character of the schooner's commander too
thoroughly to base any illusions upon the fact that Hamilton treated
him kindly.  They were partners in this treasure hunt.  The doubloons
once secured, the _Bertha Hamilton_ once in port, Drew well knew that
Ruth's father would do what he felt to be his duty.  He would be Drew's
accuser at the bar of public justice.  That, undoubtedly, was a
foregone conclusion.

Plunged in the depth of these despairing thoughts, Drew was startled by
the light fall of a soft hand upon his arm, and he descried the slight
figure of Ruth beside him.

"Walking the deck alone, Allen?" she said softly.  "I wondered where
you were."

"Just doing my usual forty laps after supper," he responded, trying to
speak lightly.

"I should think your work to-day in the digging, to say nothing of our
experience in the cave, would have been as much exercise as you really
needed," she said, laughing.  "And all for nothing!"

"We could scarcely expect success so soon," he replied.

"No?  Perhaps success is not to be our portion, Allen.  What then?"

"Well," and he tried to say it cheerfully, "we've had a run for our
money."

"A run for the pirate's money, you mean.  Let's see," she added slyly,
"that confession did not state just how many doubloons were buried, did
it?"

"The amount specified I failed to make out," he told her.  "Time had
erased it."

"Then we are after an unknown amount--an unknown quantity of doubloons.
And perhaps we are fated never to know the amount of the pirate's
hoard," and she laughed again.  Then, suddenly, she clutched his arm
more tightly as they paced the deck together, crying under her breath:
"Oh! look yonder Allen."

A strangely flickering light dispelled the pall that hung above the
hilltop.  The cloud of smoke or steam, rising from the crater and which
they had first seen that afternoon, was now illuminated and shot
through with rays of light evidently reflected from the bowels of the
hill.

"The volcano is surely alive!" cried the young man.

The crew, loafing on the forecastle, saw the phenomenon, and their
chattering voices rose in a chorus of excitement.  Tyke came up from
below and joined Drew and the captain's daughter.  The glare of the
volcano illuminated the night, and they could see each other's features
distinctly.

"Looks like we'd stirred things up over there," chuckled the old man.
"There are more'n ghosts of dead and gone pirates guarding that
treasure."

"It--it is rather terrifying, isn't it?" Ruth suggested.

"It is to them ignorant swabs for'ard," growled Tyke.  "Good thing,
though.  They'll be too scared to want to roam over the island.  We
want it to ourselves till we find the loot.  Don't we, Allen?"

"That's true.  The disturbance over there may not be an unmitigated
evil," was the young man's rejoinder.

Captain Hamilton called Ruth through the open window of his cabin, and
she bade Grimshaw and Allen Drew good night and went below.  Tyke
remained only long enough to finish his cigar, then he departed.

The light over the volcano faded, the rumblings ceased.  Drew, in his
rubber-soled shoes, paced the deck alone; but he could not be seen ten
feet away, for he wore dark clothes.

He knew that Mr. Rogers had long since gone to his room.  Most of the
crew had either sought their bunks or were stretched out on the
forecastle hatch.  Yet he heard a low murmur of voices from amidships.
When he paced to that end of his walk, the voices reached him quite
clearly and he recognized that of the one-eyed mate.  The other man he
knew to be Bingo, the only English sailor aboard--a shrewd and
rat-faced little Cockney.

"Blime me, Bug-eye! but wot Hi sye Hi means.  The devil 'imself's near
where there's so much brimstone.  If that hull bloomin' 'ill blows hup,
where'll we be, Hi axes ye?"

"Jest here or hereabouts," growled Ditty.

Drew stepped nearer and frankly listened to the conversation.

"Hi'm as 'ungry for blunt as the next bloke, an' ye sye there's plenty
hin it----"

"Slathers of it, Bingo," said the mate earnestly.  "Why, man! some of
these islands down here are rotten with buried pirate gold.  Millions
and millions was stole and buried by them old boys."

"Yah!  Hi've 'eard hall that before, Hi 'ave.  Who hain't?" said Bingo,
with considerable shrewdness.  "Honly hit halways struck me that if
them old buccaneers, as they calls 'em, was proper sailormen, they'd
'ave spent the hull blunt hinstead o' buryin' hof hit."

"Holy heavers, Bingo, they couldn't spend it all!" exclaimed Ditty.
"There was too much of it.  Millions, mind you!"

"Millions!  My heye!" croaked the Cockney.  "A million of yer Hamerican
dollars or a million sterling?"

"You can lay to it," said Ditty firmly, "that there's more'n one
million in English pounds buried in these here islands.  And there's a
bunch of it somewheres on this island."

"Then, Bug-eye, wye don't we git that map hand dig it hup hourselves on
the bloomin' jump?  Wye wite?  We kin easy 'andle the hafter-guard."

"The boys are balkin', that's why," growled Ditty.  "They're like
you--afraid of that rotten old volcano."

"Blime me!  Hand wye wouldn't they be scare't hof hit?" snarled the
Cockney.

"That bein' the general feelin'," Ditty said calmly, "why we'll stick
to my plan.  Let the old man dig it up hisself and bring it aboard.

"It'll save us the trouble, won't it?  And mebbe we can git rid of some
of the swabs, one at a time----"

"Huh!" chuckled Bingo.  "One's gone halready.  Hi see yer bloomin'
scheme, Bug-eye."

"Well, then," said the mate, rising from his seat, "keep it to yourself
and take your orders from me, like the rest does."

"Hall right, matey, hall right," said Bingo, and likewise stood up.

Drew dared remain no longer.  He stole away to the stern and stood for
a while, looking over the rail into the black water--no blacker than
the rage that filled his heart.

He felt half tempted to attack the treacherous Ditty with his bare
hands and strangle the rascal.  But he knew that this was no time for a
reckless move.  There were only himself, the captain, and Tyke to face
this promised mutiny.  Probably they could trust Rogers, and some few
of the men forward might be faithful to the after-guard.  The
uncertainty of this, however, was appalling.

After a time he went below and rapped lightly on the captain's door.
The commander of the _Bertha Hamilton_ opened to him instantly.  He was
partly undressed.

"Eh?  That you, Mr. Drew?"

"Sh!  Put out your light, Captain.  I'll bring Mr. Grimshaw.  I have
something to tell you both," whispered the young man.

"All right," said the captain, quick to understand.

His light was out before Drew reached Tyke's door.  This was unlocked,
but the old man was in his berth.  Long years at sea had made Tyke a
light sleeper.  He often said he slept with one eye open.

"That you, Allen?"

"Yes.  Hush!  We want you in the captain's room--he and I.  Come just
as you are."

"Aye, aye!" grunted the old man, instantly out of his berth.

The light was turned low in the saloon.  Drew did not know whether
Ditty had come down or not; but unmistakable nasal sounds from Mr.
Roger's room assured him that the second officer was safe.

Tyke, light-footed as a cat, followed him to Captain Hamilton's door.
It was ajar, and they went in.  The commander of the schooner sat on
the edge of his berth.  They could see each other dimly in the faint
light that entered through the transom over the door.  Captain Hamilton
had drawn the blind at the window.

"Well, what's up?" he murmured.

Drew wasted no time, but in whispers repeated the conversation he had
overheard between Bingo and the mate.  When he had finished, Tyke
observed coolly:

"I'd 've bet dollars to doughnuts that that was the way she headed.
Now we know.  Eh, Cap'n Rufe?"

"Yes," grunted the captain.

"What shall we do?" asked Drew.

"Do?  Keep on," Captain Hamilton said firmly.  "What d' you say, Tyke?"

"Yes," agreed Grimshaw.  "Ditty is playing a waiting game.  So will we.
An' we have the advantage."

"I don't see that," Drew muttered.

"Why, we know his plans.  He don't know ours," explained the old man.
"We haven't got to worry about them swabs till we've found the
doubloons, anyway."

"If we find 'em," murmured the captain.

"By George! we're bound to find 'em," Tyke said, with confidence.
"That's what we come down here for."

His enthusiasm seemed unquenched.  Drew could not lose heart when the
old man was so hopefully determined.

"But Miss Ruth?" Allen suggested timidly, looking at Captain Hamilton.

"Don't bother about her," answered the captain shortly.  "She'll not be
out of my sight a minute.  She must go ashore with us every day.  I'll
not trust her aboard alone with these scoundrels."

They talked little more that night; but it was agreed to take all the
firearms and much of the ammunition, disguised in wrappings of some
kind, ashore with them in the morning and conceal all with the digging
tools.

"Jest as well to take them all along," Tyke had advised.  "I hope we
won't have to use 'em.  But if we're going to take Rogers with us
to-morrow and leave Ditty in charge here, the rascal might go nosing
around an' find them guns."

"I hate to leave Ditty in possession of the schooner," returned the
captain, with a worried look.

"So do I," admitted Tyke.  "But after all, it isn't only the schooner
he wants.  She's no good to him until we git the treasure aboard.  The
only men it will be wise to take with us to-morrow are Rogers an' a
boat's crew that you know you can trust."

Immediately after breakfast the next morning the captain summoned the
second officer.

"I want you to take me ashore this morning, Mr. Rogers," he said; "and
as I have a lot of heavy dunnage that the men will have to carry, I'll
want a husky crew.  Take six men; and I want you to take special pains
in picking out the best men we have.  Men whom we can trust and who
haven't been mixed up with the whispering and the queer business that
you mentioned."

The second officer's eye flashed, and he nodded understandingly.

"Aye, aye, sir," he replied.  "As for the men, sir," he went on
reflectively, "there's a dozen I could stake my life on who wouldn't be
in any crooked game.  Suppose," he counted off on his fingers, "we take
Olsen and Binney and Barker and Dodd and Thompson and Willis.  They're
all true blue, and I don't think they're in such a funk over the
volcano as some of the others."

"They'll do," assented the captain.  "They're the very men I had in
mind.  Call some of them down now and have them get this stuff up on
deck.  And tell the cook to send dinner grub along, for we may be gone
all day."

"Aye, aye, sir," answered Rogers, as he left the cabin.

A little later the party gathered at the rail, and the captain spoke to
the mate.

"Mr. Rogers is going to take us ashore, Mr. Ditty," he said pleasantly.
"There are no special orders.  You can let some of the men have shore
leave if they want it, although after yesterday I don't suppose they
will."

"I suppose not," replied Ditty surlily.  "They'll all be glad when we
turn our backs on this cursed island."

The captain pretended not to hear.  The goods were stowed in the boat,
the party and crew took their places, and the craft was pulled smartly
to the beach.

"Now, my lads," said the captain briskly, as he stepped ashore,
"there's quite a trip ahead of you and you've got a man's job in
carrying this stuff, but I'll see that you don't lose anything by it.
Step up smartly now."

The men shouldered their burdens and started off on the trail that had
now grown familiar to the treasure seekers.  The men were able to
maintain a fairly rapid pace, and before long the party arrived at the
edge of the clearing within which the treasure was supposed to be
buried.

The captain took Rogers aside.

"Take your men back to the beach now, Mr. Rogers," he directed.
"Remember, I want none of them poking about here.  We'll rejoin you in
good season for supper, if not before."

"Aye, aye, sir!" was the cheerful reply.

Rogers turned with his men, and the captain watched their backs far
down the forest path, until they were lost to sight in the greenery of
the jungle.

"Well now," he remarked, as he turned again to the others, "lively's
the word.  Let's get busy and----.  Great Scott!  Look at that!" he
exclaimed, staring at the top of the whale's hump.

A column of black smoke was rising from the crater.

"Looks like the whale was going to blow again," Tyke said, with a
feeble attempt at levity to disguise his apprehension.

The next moment the ears of the party were deafened by a terrific
explosion.



CHAPTER XXVIII

BY FAVOR OF THE EARTHQUAKE

No thunder that had ever been heard could be compared with the sound of
the explosion.  It was like the bellowing of a thousand cannon.  It was
as though the island were being ripped apart.

The earth shook and staggered drunkenly beneath the feet of the
treasure seekers.  Great trees in the adjacent forest fell with
tremendous uproar.  The slope of the whale's hump was ridged until it
looked like a giant accordion.  Crevasses opened, extending from the
summit of the hill downward.  Rocks came tumbling down by the score,
and a column of smoke and flame rose from the crater to a height of two
hundred feet or more.

None of the party had been able to keep on a footing.  All had been
thrown to the ground by the first shock, and there they lay, sick from
that awful seismic vibration.

A cloud of almost impalpable dust spread broadly and shrouded the sun.
There was not a breath of air astir.  Not a living thing was to be seen
in the open--even the lizards had disappeared.

The spot where they had delved the day before, was now in plain view to
the treasure seekers.  They saw the hillside yawn there in an awful
paroxysm, till the aperture was several yards wide.  Then, from
beneath, there shot into the open, smoking rocks, debris of many kinds,
and--something else!  Drew, seeing this final object, shrieked aloud.
His voice could not be heard above the uproar, but the others saw his
mouth agape, and struggled to see that at which he was pointing so
wildly.

The crevasse closed with a crash and jar that rocked the whole island.
It was the final throe of the volcano's travail.  The lurid light above
the crater subsided.  The dust began to fall thick upon the treasure
seekers as they lay upon the ground.  They sat up, dazed and
horror-stricken.  It was some time before their palsied tongues could
speak, and when they did, the words came almost in whispers.

Drew found that his arm was around Ruth.  She had been near him when
the first shock came, and he had seized her instinctively.  Now he
turned to her and asked:

"You're not hurt, are you, Ruth?"

"N--no," she gasped, "but dreadfully frightened!  Oh, let's get away
from here!"

She realized that he was holding her and drew away with a faint blush.
He released her and staggered to his feet.

Tyke and the captain followed suit, and the three men looked at each
other.

"Now, if I was superstitious----" began Tyke in a quavering voice.

"Never mind any 'ifs' just now," interrupted the captain.  "We've got
to get away from here just as fast as the good Lord will let us.  I
don't believe in tempting Providence."

"And leave the doubloons?" queried Tyke, in dismay.

"Yes, and leave the doubloons," replied the captain stubbornly.  "If
Ruth weren't here, we men might take a chance, but my daughter is worth
more to me than all the pirate gold buried in the Caribbean."

Drew, if inaudibly, agreed with him.  "Let's get Ruth down to the
shore, anyway," he said.  "Then, if you'll come back----  I saw
something just at that last crash."

"By the great jib-boom!" roared Tyke, "so did I.  What did you see,
Allen?  Something shot up out o' one o' them pits we dug yesterday.  I
saw it.  An' it wasn't a lava boulder, neither!"

"You're right, there," Drew agreed.  "It was a box or something.  Too
square-shaped to be a rock."

"We can't fool with it now," Captain Hamilton said, with determination,
though his eyes sparkled.  "Come, Ruth.  I must get you down to the
boat."

But here the girl exercised a power of veto.  "I don't go unless the
rest of you do--and to remain, too," she declared.  "I am not a child.
Of course, I'm afraid of that volcano.  But so are you men.  And it's
all over now.  If Allen really saw something that looked like a box or
a chest thrown out of that opening, I'm going to----"

She left the rest unspoken, but started boldly for the barren patch
where they had dug the day before.  It looked now like a piece of
plowed ground over which were scattered blocks of lava of all sizes and
shapes.

Captain Hamilton hesitated, but Drew ran ahead, reaching the spot
first.  Anxious and frightened as he had been at the moment of the
phenomenon, the young man had noted exactly the spot where the strange
object had fallen.  Half buried in a heap of earth was a discolored,
splintered chest.  Its ancient appearance led Drew to utter a shout of
satisfaction.

"I guess we've got it," he remarked in a tone that he tried to keep
calm, but which trembled in spite of himself.

A cry of delight rose from all.  The men joined Drew, and helped him
clear away the earth.  The chest soon stood revealed.  Then by using
their spades as levers, they pried it loose and by their united efforts
dragged it over to the shade at the jungle's edge.  They sat beside it
there, panting, almost too exhausted from the excitement and their
tremendous efforts to move or speak.

Ruth fluttered about like a humming bird, excited and eager.  She
looked somewhat less disheveled and begrimed than the men.  But if they
looked like trench diggers, they felt like plutocrats, and their hearts
were swelling with jubilation.

The map had not lied!  The paper had not lied!  That old pirate, Ramon
Alvarez, who had probably told a thousand lies, had told the truth at
last in his ardent desire for the shriving of Holy Church.  The
treasure lay before them!

And how wonderfully the chest had been revealed to them!  Not by their
own exertions had the pirate hoard been uncovered!

A moment more and they were on their feet, Tyke panting:

"Now, if I was superstitious----"

They would have plenty of time for resting later on.  Now a fierce
impatience consumed them.  They must see the contents of the box!

The chest was about five feet long, two feet wide and three feet deep.
It was made of thick oak, and was bound by heavy bands of iron.  A huge
padlock held it closed.

The box had originally been of enormous strength, but time and nature
and the earthquake had done their work.  The wood was swollen and
warped, the iron bands were eaten with rust.  But the lock resisted
their efforts when they sought to lift the cover.

"Stand clear!" cried Captain Hamilton, raising his spade.

He struck the padlock a smashing blow.  Then he stooped and lifted the
cover, which yielded groaningly.

A cry burst simultaneously from the treasure seekers.

"Gold!"

"Doubloons!"

"Jewels!"

"Riches!"

Priceless treasures heaped in careless profusion, glinting, glowing,
coruscating, scintillating threw back in splendor the rays of the
tropic sun.

None of them could remember afterward quite how they acted in those
first few minutes of unchained emotion.  But they laughed and sang,
cheered and shouted, and it was a long time before the rioting of their
blood ceased and they regained a measure of self-control.

There was no attempt made to measure the value of the treasure trove.
There would be time for that later on.  What they did know beyond the
shadow of a doubt was that wealth enough lay before them to make them
all rich for the rest of their lives.

Gold there was, both coined and melted into bars; Spanish doubloons,
Indian rupees, French louis, English guineas; cups and candelabra;
chains and watches; jewels too, in whose depths flashed rainbow hues,
amethysts, rubies, diamonds, emeralds, strings upon strings of
shimmering pearls.

The discoverers bathed their hands in the golden store, running the
coins in sparkling streams through their fingers, all the time feeling
that they were moving in a dream from which at any moment they must be
rudely awakened.

At last the captain's voice, a bit husky from emotion, brought them
back to practical realities.

"Well, the first log of our voyage is written up," he said.  "But now
let's get down to the question of what we're to do next.  How are we to
get this stuff aboard?"

All sobered a little as they faced the problem.

"We can take the chest just as it is," said Tyke.  "A four-man load,
though."

"What will the crew think?" Drew asked somewhat anxiously.

"Let 'em think and be hanged to 'em!" replied Captain Hamilton.  "Yet,"
he added a moment later, "with things in the shaky condition they are
and that rascal, Ditty, planning mischief, we don't want to take too
many chances."

"Couldn't we make a number of trips back and forth and take some of the
treasure with us each time until we got it all on board?" suggested
Ruth.  "We could carry a lot in our clothes and we could wrap some up
to look like the bundles we brought ashore."

"Take too long," objected her father.

"How would this do?" was Drew's contribution.  "As has already been
said, the men would be surprised to see us bring a box aboard if they
hadn't first seen us take it ashore.  Now, suppose we take one of the
ship's chests, load it with some worthless junk that would make it as
heavy as this box, and bring it ashore.  We could bring it up here,
throw away the contents, put the treasure in it, and then call on the
men to take it back to the ship.  They'd recognize it as the same one
they'd brought over, and their thinking would stop right there."

"By Jove, I believe you've hit it, Allen!" exclaimed the captain.

"That sounds sensible," conceded Tyke.  "I guess it's the only way."

"Well, now that that's settled," went on the captain, "what are we
going to do with the treasure in the meanwhile?  It's getting late now.
We can't get it aboard to-day.  We'll want eight men besides Rogers.
Then, there's all this hardware," and he indicated the firearms.

"Couldn't we leave it just where it is until we come back to-morrow?"
ventured Ruth.  "There isn't a soul on the island, and we'll be here
the first thing in the morning."

"A little too risky, I'm afraid," said Tyke.  "It's dollars to
doughnuts that there's no one on the island but ourselves and the
boat's crew; yet we'd go 'round kicking ourselves for the rest of our
lives if we found to-morrow that some one had been here an' helped
himself."

"Let's pile some of these loose lava blocks on top of the chest," said
Drew.  "Make a regular mound.  It will look as though the earthquake
had done it."

That plan seemed the best, and they acted on it.  They closed the cover
after one more lingering, delighted look at the chest's gleaming
contents, then they built the cairn.

"One sure thing," observed Tyke.  "There isn't anybody going to come up
here for jest a little pleasure jog--not much!  That volcano's likely
to spit again 'most any time."

The party started for the lagoon with their hearts bounding with
exultation.  But as they entered the forest path they were startled by
the sight of Rogers and his men hastening toward them.

The captain was about to utter a rebuke, but when he saw the pale and
frightened faces of the men he checked his tongue.

"Well, Mr. Rogers, what is it?" he asked.  "Got a pretty good scare, I
suppose, like the rest of us.  I guess the quake's all over now."

"I hope so, sir," replied the second officer.  "I thought sure it was
all over with the lot of us.  But it isn't that, sir, that I came back
for.  The boat's gone."

"Gone!" exclaimed the captain, staring.

"Yes, sir.  It must have pushed away from the shore when the earth
shook so.  Just down here below a bit is a place where you can see the
lagoon, and I caught sight of the boat about half-way between the shore
and the ship."

"Oh well, if that's all, there isn't any great harm done.  Mr. Ditty
will send out and pick up the boat."

"But there's something else, sir," went on the seaman hoarsely.  "As I
looked out, it seemed to me, sir, as if the reef had closed up behind
the schooner."

"What?" roared the captain.

"It's gospel truth sir," persisted the second officer.  "I thought at
first I must be dreaming.  But I looked carefully, sir, and you can
call me a swab if it isn't so!  I couldn't see any sign at all of the
passage where we came in, sir."

The captain's bronzed face paled, as the full significance of the news
burst upon him.

"Come along and show me the place where you can see the schooner," he
commanded, and started to run, followed by the whole party.

They had not far to go.  At a place where the earthquake had rooted out
a monster tree, a clear view could be had of the entire lagoon.

There lay the _Bertha Hamilton_, straining at her cable in the
commotion of the waters that had been stirred up by the earthquake.
And there was the small boat tossing about like a chip.  But the
captain wasted not a second glance at these.  He had seized his
binoculars and his gaze was fixed upon the reef.  As he looked, his
visage became ashen.

The passage through which the ship had come into the lagoon was
entirely closed!

A barrier had been thrown up from the ocean floor, and this completely
landlocked the lagoon in which the schooner rode at anchor.  The lagoon
had welcomed the ship as though with extended arms.  Now those arms
were closed and the hands were interlocked.

The captain groaned at the magnitude of the disaster.

"Oh, Daddy, dear!" cried Ruth, darting to his side.  "Don't take it so
hard!  There'll be some way out!"

"Never!" cried the captain.  "The _Bertha Hamilton_ is done for.
There's no way to get her out.  She'll lie there now until she rots."

"And we're prisoners on this island," gasped Drew.

They looked at each other, appalled.  This last statement seemed to be
irrefutable.  They were captives on the island, which seemed itself to
be in the throes of dissolution.



CHAPTER XXIX

MUTINY

Drew was the first to rally from the shock of this discovery.

"It is a terrible situation, God knows," he said.  "And I know, too,
Captain, how you must feel the loss of the schooner--if it is lost.
But there may be a chance left of releasing her.  The reef looks solid
from here, but when you get close to it there may be a crevice through
which she can be warped.

"She don't draw much water in ballast," comforted Tyke, although in his
heart he had little hope.  "An' you've got some giant powder on board.
Perhaps we can blast a passage."

The captain straightened up and took a grip on himself.

"We won't give up without a fight, anyway," he said; and Ruth rejoiced
to hear the old militant ring in his voice.  "The first thing to do is
to get on board the ship.  Come along down to the beach."

The others hurried after him as fast as they could, but, owing to the
number of trees that had been thrown down, their progress was
exasperatingly slow.  But even in the turmoil of his emotion, Drew
blessed the chance that made it possible for him to hold Ruth's arm,
and in some especially difficult places to lift her over obstacles.

They reached the beach and the captain hailed the ship.  Again and
again he sent his voice booming over the water, and the others
supplemented his efforts by waving their arms.  It was impossible that
they should not have been heard or seen; but the _Bertha Hamilton_
might have been a phantom vessel for all the response that was evoked.

The captain fumed and stormed with impatience.

"What's the matter with those swabs?" he growled.

"Ah! now they're lowering a boat," cried Drew.

"They've taken their time about it," growled the captain.

The boat put out from the side and headed for the beach.  When half-way
there, the rowers overtook the captain's boat and secured it.  Then,
instead of resuming their journey, they turned deliberately about and
rowed back.  The boats were both hoisted to the davits and quietness
again reigned on the schooner.

The stupefied spectators on the beach felt as though they had taken
leave of their senses.

"Well, of all the----" raged Captain Hamilton, when he was interrupted
by the sound of a shot fired on the schooner.  Two others followed in
quick succession.  Then came a roar of voices.  A moment later a man
leaped from the mizzen shrouds over the rail.  He was shot in midair,
and those ashore heard his shriek as he threw up his arms and
disappeared in the still heaving waters of the lagoon.

"Mutiny!" roared Captain Hamilton.

"Yes," echoed Tyke; "mutiny!"

Horror was stamped on every face.  One blow had been succeeded by
another still more crushing.  It was now not only a question of the
loss of the schooner.  Their very lives might be threatened.

"That scoundrel, Ditty!" gasped the captain.

"It's too bad we pulled Allen off him the other day," ejaculated Tyke
savagely.  "We ought to have let him finish the job."

"Thank God we've got the weapons anyway!" exclaimed Captain Hamilton.

"Don't think that he hasn't got some too," warned Tyke.  "You heard
those shots.  No doubt the rascal's got all the guns and ammunition he
wants.  You can gamble on it that he isn't figuring on fighting us with
his bare hands."

The captain turned to Rogers and the boat's crew.

"What do you know about this, Mr. Rogers?" he said quietly.  "Can we
count on you?"

"That you can, Captain," replied Rogers heartily.  "I only know what
I've told you before, sir."

"And how about you, my lads?" Captain Hamilton continued, addressing
the boat's crew.  "Are you going to stand with your captain?"

There was a chorus of eager assent.  Not one of them flinched or
wavered, and indignation was hot in their eyes.

"Good!" cried the captain approvingly.  "I knew you'd sailed with me
too long to desert me when it came to a pinch."

"That makes ten of us altogether," observed Tyke Grimshaw.

"Eleven," put in Ruth.  "Don't forget me."

"Eleven," repeated the master of the _Bertha Hamilton_, looking at her
fondly.  "You're a true sailor's daughter, Ruth.  I'm proud of you, my
dear."

"Eleven," said Drew.  "That leaves twenty-five on the ship, including
Ditty."

"Twenty-four," put in Tyke.  "There's one less than there was a few
minutes ago."

"Yes," agreed the captain sadly.  "And I've no doubt the poor fellow
was killed because he wouldn't join the rest of the gang.  Twenty-four,
then.  That's pretty big odds against eleven."

"Beggin' your pardon, sir," said Barker, who was the oldest man of the
crew, "but there's some of our mates over there that wouldn't never
fight on the side of that Bug-eye--meanin' no disrespect to the mate,
sir.  Whitlock wouldn't for one, nor Gunther, nor Trent.  I'd lay to
that, sir."

"No, sir," put in Thompson; "an' Ashley wouldn't neither.  No more
would Sanders."

"I believe you, my lads," replied the captain.  "They've sailed with us
before.  But even if they don't fight against us, they can't fight with
us as things stand now.  The very least that Ditty will do with them is
to hold them prisoners until he's put the job through."

"But he isn't going to put it through," cried Drew, his eyes kindling.

"Not by a jug full!" declared Tyke.  "But we'll know we've been in a
fight, I s'pose, before we can prove that to him.  He's put his head in
the noose now, an' he'll be desperate."

"I only hope I get a chance at him before the hangman does," muttered
Drew.

"There's not much to be done until those fellows come over here," said
the captain reflectively.  "We've no way of getting out there to the
schooner.  This thing will have to be fought out on land."

"Do you suppose they'll attack us right away, or try to starve us out?"
Drew asked.  "They've got the advantage in having provisions."

"No chance of starving us," replied Captain Hamilton.  "There's plenty
of fruit here, and then there are birds and small game.  I saw an
agouti run by a little while ago."

"Oh!  Why, that's a rat, Daddy!  Or is it a sort of 'possum?" cried
Ruth, with a shudder.  "And you men were hinting the other day that
poor Wah Lee might serve us up some dainty dish like that!" she added
with a chuckle.

"By George!" Tyke suddenly shouted.  "There's cookee an' the steward!
We forgot them in our calculations.  How about 'em, Cap'n Rufe?"

"Oh, that's so!" cried Ruth.  "That little Jap boy never would turn
against us, surely!"

"Nor Wah Lee," said Captain Hamilton reflectively.

"Neither of 'em would be much good," remarked Tyke.  "You know how them
critters are--both Chinks and Japs.  Cold-blooded as fish.  They'll
keep on cooking for the mutineers an' serving 'em.  It's none of their
pidgin whether that rascal, Ditty, bosses 'em or you are at the helm,
Cap'n Rufe."

"Well, I expect you're right," agreed Captain Hamilton.  "They're poor
fish to fry.  We can't count on them to supply us with grub, that's
sure," and he laughed shortly.

"An' look here!" exclaimed Tyke, coming back to their former
discussion.  "How about water?  We might git along on this sulphur
water for a little while, but we couldn't stand it long."

"That's a little more serious," admitted the captain.  "But we can get
milk from the cocoanuts.  There's plenty of them.  And there's the
chance of rain, too.

"But I don't think it will come to a siege," he continued, aside to
Tyke.  "Ditty will figure that he's got to have quick action.  He knows
that a vessel of some kind may come along any time, and then his cake
will be dough.  Besides, that bunch of rough-necks will be impatient
for the loot that I've no doubt he's promised them."

"Where are you going to wait for him?" asked Tyke.

"Up at the whale's hump," replied the captain.  "We can build a sort of
fortification there that will help make up for our lack of numbers.
They'll have to come out of the woods into the open up there, too.  We
might wait here on the beach, but they could keep out of gunshot, and
we wouldn't get a decision.  They can't land too quick to suit me."

Acting on this decision, the party started back at once, dropping
Rogers by the way at the ledge that overlooked the sea, so that he
could bring to them a report of any action taken by the mutineers.

Ruth's presence at his side was very dear to Drew as they toiled along,
but he was deeply apprehensive for her safety.  The men of the party
had only death to fear if the worst came to the worst, but his heart
turned to ice as he thought of Ruth left without protection in the
hands of the mate and his gang.

She seemed to realize his thoughts, for she looked up at him bravely.

"I wish I had the carpet of Solomon here," he said.

"Why?" she smiled.

"I'd put you on it and have you whisked off to New York in a flash."

"Suppose I refused to go?"

"You wouldn't."

"I would!  Why should I go to New York?  All whom I love are here."

"Here?" he breathed eagerly.

"Surely.  I love my father dearly."

"Oh!" he said disappointedly.

"You don't seem to approve of filial devotion," she observed, darting a
mischievous look at him from under her long lashes.

"It's a beautiful thing," he answered promptly.  "But there's another
kind that----"

"We'd better hurry," the girl broke in hastily.  "We're letting them
get too far ahead of us."

They hastened on, and the words that were on Drew's lips remained
unspoken.

After all, he thought to himself as the old bitter memory, forgotten in
the excitement, came back to him, it was better so.  They must not be
spoken.  They never could be spoken while he was under the awful cloud
of suspicion.  The love that had grown until it absorbed all his life
must be ruthlessly crushed under foot.

The party emerged upon the slope of the whale's hump.  Nothing had
disturbed the cairn they had built over the treasure chest, nor were
the rifles and tools displaced.  Captain Hamilton's decision to make
the stand here was admittedly a wise one.  Here was enough lava,
rubbish to build a dozen forts.

"Jest the spot," Tyke said vigorously, waving his hand in the direction
of the heap of lava blocks that hid the pirate's chest.  "What do you
say, Cap'n Rufe?  Shall we make that pile o' rocks the corner of our
breastworks?"

"Good idea, Tyke," agreed the captain.  "But pass guns around first,
boys.  All of you can handle a rifle, I suppose?"

"Aye aye, sir," said Barker, "you'd better believe we kin."

"If it comes to bullets," said Captain Hamilton, "those swabs will be
so near to us we can scarcely miss 'em.  That is, if they come out of
the jungle.

"Suppose they circle around and come at us from above?" Drew suggested.

"We'll build a circular fort, by gosh!" cried Tyke.  "An' build the
back higher'n the front.  How about it, Cap'n Rufe?  Then if them swabs
climb the hill to git the better of us, they can't shoot over."

"You're right, Tyke," agreed the master of the _Bertha Hamilton_.

"I don't believe," said Drew, "that Ditty and the men have many
firearms.  Nothing like these high-powered rifles, that's sure."

"That's so, Drew, I'm sure," said the captain promptly.  "Now, boys,
get to work," he added.  "Roll 'em down!  Here, Barker, you're
chantey-man.  Set 'em the pace."

Weirdly, echoing back from the wall of the jungle and hollowly from the
hillside, the improvised chantey was raised by Barker, and the chorus
line taken up by the other seamen as though they were jerking aloft the
schooner's topsails.

  "Oh, Bug-eye's dead an' gone below,
    Oh, we says so, an' we hopes so;
  Oh, Bug-eye's dead an' he'll go below
    Oh, poor--ol'--man!

  "He's deader'n the bolt on the fo'c'sle door,
    Oh, we says so, an' we hopes so;
  Oh, he'll never knock us flat no more,
    Oh, poor--ol'--man!"


Under the impetus of this dirge with its innumerable verses the men
rolled the boulders down.  The fortification began to take form and
give promise of shelter in time of need.

And there was no telling how soon that time might come!



CHAPTER XXX

THE FLAG OF TRUCE

The seamen rolled the larger boulders to the line Tyke indicated.
Captain Hamilton himself and Drew chocked the interstices between the
larger blocks with broken lava.  A chance bullet might slip through
into the fort, but under a rain of lead those within the fortification
would be fairly well protected.

In two hours, and not long before sunset, the work was finished.
Facing the jungle, from which the expected attack would come, if at
all, the wall was breast high; in the rear, it rose higher so that no
man unless he stood fairly in the lip of the crater above, could shoot
over the barrier.

"And take it from me," said Tyke Grimshaw, "those bums ain't going to
run their legs off to reach the top of this volcano.  They're scared to
death of it."

"And our own boys aren't much better," muttered Captain Hamilton.  "See
'em looking over their shoulders now and again?  They're expecting a
shoot-off any minute."

"Well," the older man agreed, "that may be so.  But it strikes me that
the volcano and the earthquakes have been mighty helpful to us.  Now,
if I was superstitious----"

"How about locking my schooner in that blasted lagoon?" growled the
master of the _Bertha Hamilton_.  "This island is hoodooed, I've half a
mind to believe."

Next the rifles and revolvers were carefully cleaned and loaded, and
the ammunition distributed.

"How are we off for cartridges?" Drew asked.

"None too well," answered the captain.  "If these fellows were sure
shots, there'd probably be all we'd need.  But they'll waste a lot.
I've got several hundred in a box under my berth--and clips for the
automatics, too.  I certainly wish I'd brought 'em along."

"S'pose Ditty's gobbled 'em?" inquired Grimshaw.

"I don't think he'd find them.  But they're no good to us now," groaned
the captain.

At this moment Rogers came hurrying up.

"They're putting off from the ship," he reported breathlessly.

"How many of them?" asked the captain.

"Ten in the longboat and seven in the other," was the answer.

"Seventeen in all," mused the captain.  "I wonder where the rest are."

"Probably dead or prisoners," put in Tyke.  "The men who wouldn't join
him he's likely killed or triced up an' left 'em under guard of one or
two of the gang."

"That's probably so," agreed the master of the _Bertha Hamilton_.
"Well, that reduces the odds somewhat; but they're heavy enough just
the same.  We'll have action now 'most any time."

They had been so excited and absorbed in their preparations that they
had not thought of food.  Now the captain insisted upon their eating
what Wah Lee had put up for them that morning.  But he portioned out
water from the cask very sparingly.

Another hour passed, and still they heard no tread of approaching feet.
It would soon be dark.  But suddenly they were startled when a voice
hailed them.  It came from the direction of a big ceiba tree a hundred
yards down the forest path.

"Ahoy, there!"

"Ahoy, yourself!" shouted back the captain.

A stick was thrust from behind the tree.  A white cloth was tied to the
end of it.

"This is Ditty talkin'," came the voice.

"I know it is, you scoundrel," roared the captain.

"No hard words, Cap'n," came the answer.  "It'll only be the worse for
you.  I want to have a confab with you."

"Come along then and say your say," replied Captain Hamilton.

"You won't shoot?"

"Not you," promised the captain.  "I hope to see you hung later on."

"No tricks, now," said Ditty cautiously

"I said I wouldn't and that's enough," responded the captain.  "You can
take it or leave it."

The mate emerged fully from behind the tree and came into the open
space.  At fifty paces from the fortress he halted.

"There's guns coverin' you from behind them trees, if anything happens
to me," he said in further warning.

"I don't wonder you think that every man's a liar, Ditty," the captain
replied bitterly.  "You judge them out of your own black heart.  Now,
what do you want?  Why have you seized my ship?  Why have you killed
one of my men?"

"I hain't seized your ship," answered Ditty sullenly.  "You left me in
charge of it.  An' I didn't kill any of your men.  Sanders got drunk
an' fell overboard."

"Don't lie to me, you rascal," returned the captain.  "We heard the
shooting and saw the man shot as he leaped overboard.  You'll hang for
that yet, if I don't kill you first.  You're a bloody mutineer and you
know it.  Now stow your lies and get to the point.  What do you want?"

"We want them doubloons!" fairly shouted Ditty, stung by the captain's
contempt, "an' we're goin' to have 'em."

"Doubloons?  What do you mean?" asked the captain.

"The treasure you come here to dig for," answered Ditty.  "You can't
fool me.  I've been on to your little game ever since before the
schooner left New York.  I got sharp ears, I have," pursued the mate,
his one eye gleaming balefully as he looked at the heads above the line
of the breastwork.  "I know you found a map an' some sort of a paper
what explained about that old pirate treasure.  It was in a sailorman's
chest in Tyke Grimshaw's office.  Like enough Tyke stole it from the
poor feller.  An' I heard you tellin' Miss Ruth about it that night at
dinner," he added, with a leering glance at the pale-faced girl.

"So that's why you shipped me such a lot of scum and riffraff, was it,
you villain?" Captain Hamilton asked.

"You can think as you like about that," answered Ditty.  "But this here
kind of chinning won't git us anywhere.  I know all about the map and
that paper, an' I know that you come here lookin' for that loot.  An' I
bet you've found it a'ready.  Now, to put it short an' sweet, me an' my
mates want it."

"Suppose you got it?" parleyed the master of the _Bertha Hamilton_.
"It wouldn't do you any good.  The schooner is landlocked and can't get
away."

"Even so it'll do us as much good as it will you," countered Ditty.
"We've got the longboat an' we can easily make one of the islands near
by where we can find a ship to take us to the States."

"And suppose I have the treasure and refuse to give it to you?" pursued
the captain.

"Then we'll take it!" threatened Ditty, his one eye glowing with
malevolence.  "We'll take it if we have to kill every last one of you
to git it!

"Hey!  Barker!  Olsen!  The rest of you bullies!" he added, raising his
voice, "you know blamed well the after-guard won't do nothin' for you
fellers but let you git shot.  You better come with us.

"We're nearly two to one, anyway, an' you've got no chance," he added
to Captain Hamilton.

"We haven't, eh?" exploded the captain, his pent-up rage finding vent.
"Do your worst, you black-hearted hound!  And if you're not behind that
tree in one minute, may God have mercy on your soul!"



CHAPTER XXXI

A DARING VENTURE

With an expression of baffled rage convulsing his features, Ditty
turned and made for shelter.  Once safely there, he hurled back the
wildest threats and imprecations.  So vile they were that Ruth
shuddered and put her hands to her ears.

"I said I'd kill you all!" the mate shouted.  "I'll take that back.
I'll kill all but one!"

The threat was easily understood.  Captain Hamilton's face went white,
and he glanced hastily at Ruth.  But he only said:

"Keep down out of sight, men.  They know where we are, but we don't
know where they are.  They may try to rush us, but I don't think they
will at first.  Aim carefully and shoot at anything that offers a fair
target, but don't waste the ammunition."

He had hardly finished speaking before there came a volley, and the
bullets pattered against the rocks.  They came from several directions.
Ditty had arranged his men in the form of a semicircle.  They had ample
cover, and the only chance for the besieged lay in the chance that one
of the enemy should protrude his head or shoulder too far from behind
his tree.

Many times in the next hour the fusilade was repeated.  It was plain
that the mutineers were armed only with pistols.

"Probably Ditty laid in a stock before he left New York," the captain
muttered to Tyke.  "Automatics, too."

"His ammunition won't last long if he keeps wasting it this way,"
replied Tyke.  "An' an automatic ain't always a sure shot."

Just then a cry from Olsen showed that the mutineers' cartridges had
not been wholly wasted.  A bullet had caught the Swede in the shoulder.
He dropped, groaning.

Ruth was by his side in an instant.  She bound up his wound as best she
could, and, putting a coat beneath his head, made him as comfortable as
possible.

"One knocked out," muttered the captain.  "I wonder who'll be the----
Ah!  Good boy, Allen!" he cried delightedly.

One of the enemy had thrown up his hands and, with a yell, had crashed
heavily to the ground.  He lay there without motion.

"Leaned his head out a little too far," remarked Drew composedly.
"That was the cockney, Bingo."

"An' a dirty rat," Tyke said grimly.  "That evens up the score."

"Not exactly," replied Drew.  "We'll have to pot two of them to every
one they get, to keep the score straight.  And they'll be more careful
now about exposing themselves."

He was right; for in the short moments of daylight that remained they
lessened no further the number of their foes.  Nor did any bullet find
its billet in the body of any of the besieged.  But one ball knocked a
splinter from a rock and drove it against the knuckles of Binney's
right hand, making it difficult for him to use his rifle.

Now darkness fell, and the enemy seemed to have withdrawn.

"The real fight will come to-morrow," prophesied Captain Hamilton.
"This was only a skirmish to feel us out."

"Do you think they'll try to do anything to-night?" asked Drew
thoughtfully.

"I don't believe so," was the reply; "but we'll post sentinels, and if
they come they won't take us by surprise."

"As a matter of fact," the captain went on, "I wish they would adopt
rushing tactics.  Then they'd be out in the open and we could get a
good crack at them.  As it is, we're concentrated and they're
scattered, and their bullets have a better chance than ours of finding
a mark.  These sniping methods are all in their favor, if Ditty has
sense enough to stick to them."

"They've gained already by this afternoon's work," pondered Tyke.
"When they started in we were seventeen to 'leven.  Now, as far as we
know, they're sixteen to our nine, for neither Olsen nor Binney's what
you might call able-bodied.  The odds are getting bigger against us."

"All the ammunition we have spent has accounted for only one man,"
added the captain.  "Their cover has served 'em well.  And our
ammunition is short.  I figure out that we haven't much more than
thirty cartridges apiece left for the rifles.  That won't last us long."

"Why not dash out and charge them?" suggested Drew.

"We will when our cartridges get low," agreed the captain.  "But I'm
hoping they'll charge us first in the morning.  We could drop a bunch
of 'em before they closed in on us, and then we'd have a better chance
in hand-to-hand fighting."

After dark the captain posted three men some distance within the
forest, with the promise that they should be relieved at midnight and
with strict injunctions to keep a vigilant watch and report to him at
once should anything seem suspicious.

Rogers was delegated to make his way down to the beach, where it was
supposed the mutineers would encamp for the night, to see if he could
gain any information as to their plan of attack on the morrow.

To Ruth this whole situation was a most terrifying one; but nobody
displayed more bravery than she.

She had attended to the two wounded men skilfully.  She had been
obliged to arrange a tourniquet on Olsen's shoulder, or the man would
have bled to death; and she had done this as well as a more practised
nurse.  The wound was a clean one, the bullet having bored right
through the shoulder.

Binney's wound was merely painful, and he could not use his rifle
effectively.  But he could handle an automatic with his left hand.

The departure of the mutineers and the coming of night released their
minds and hearts from anxiety to a certain degree.  Night fowls in the
forest shouted their raucous notes back and forth, and there were some
squealings and gruntings at the edge of the jungle that betrayed the
presence of certain small animals that might add to their bill of fare
could they but capture them.

"We'll forage for grub to-morrow," said Captain Hamilton.  "It's too
dark to-night to tell what you were catching, even if you went after
those creatures.  Ruth says she doesn't want agouti because they're too
much like rats; but maybe there are creatures like polecats here--and
they'd be a whole lot worse."

A daring idea came into Drew's mind, but he did not mention it to Tyke
or the captain because he felt sure that they would not approve.  He
acknowledged to himself that it was a forlorn hope, but he knew, too,
that forlorn hopes often won by their very audacity.

He knew that the moon rose late that night, and as darkness was
essential to the execution of his plan, he rose shortly and said:

"Think I'll go out and do a little scouting on my own account."

The captain looked at him in some surprise.

"Well," he said slowly, "we can't get any too much information; but
we're fearfully short of men, and you're the best shot we have.  Better
be careful."

"Yes, do be careful, Allen!" exclaimed Ruth.  "For my sake," she added
in a whisper.

"Do you care very much?" he responded, in the same tone.

"Care!" she repeated softly.  It was only one word, but it was eloquent
and her eyes were suspiciously moist.

He pressed her hand and she did not try to withdraw it.

"I'll be careful," he promised, releasing it at last.  Another moment
and he had surmounted the barrier and was swallowed up in the gloom of
the forest.

From his repeated trips over the trail, Drew had a pretty good idea of
the locality, and had it not been for the fallen trees that had been
torn up by the cataclysm of the morning, he would have had little
difficulty in gaining the beach.  But again and again he had to make
long detours, and as the darkness was intense he had to rely entirely
on his sense of touch; so his progress was slow.

Nearly two hours elapsed before he caught sight of a light beyond the
trees that he thought must come from the campfire of the mutineers.  He
crept forward with exceeding care, for at any moment he might stumble
over some sentinel.  But, with the lack of discipline that usually
accompanies such lawless ventures and relying upon their preponderance
in numbers, the mutineers had neglected such a precaution.

With the stealth of an Indian on a foray, Drew approached the beach
until he was not more than a hundred yards from the fire.  There he
sheltered himself behind a massive tree trunk and surveyed the scene.

He saw Rogers nowhere about.  The mutineers had made a great fire of
driftwood, more for its cheerful effect than for any other reason, for
the night was oppressively warm.  At some distance from it the men were
sitting or lying in sprawling attitudes.  Some were sleeping, some
singing, while one tall man, whom Drew recognized as Ditty, was engaged
in earnest conversation with two others, probably his lieutenants.

Drew counted them twice to make sure there was no mistake.  There were
sixteen in all.  Only one, then, had been accounted for that afternoon.
And there were but nine able-bodied men in the fort, counting Binney as
able-bodied.

Sixteen to nine!  Nearly two to one!  And men who would fight
desperately because in joining this mutiny they knew that they stood in
peril of the hangman's noose or the electric chair.

Drew's resolution hardened.  The fire cast a wide zone of light on the
beach and the surrounding water.  But over the eastern end of the
lagoon darkness hung heavily.  Keeping in the shelter of the palms, he
went northward, following the contour of the lagoon until he reached
the point where vegetation ceased and the reef began.

Although this reef was volcanic (indeed the whole island had
undoubtedly been thrown up from the floor of the sea by some
subterranean convulsion in ages past), the coral insects had been at
work adding to the strength of the lagoon's barriers.  The recent quake
that had lifted the reef had ground much of this coral-work to dust.
Drew found himself wading ankle deep in it as he approached the water.

The little waves lapped at his feet.  There was a shimmering glow on
the surface of the lagoon, as there always is upon moving water.
Outside, the surf sighed, retreated, advanced, and again sighed, in
unchanging and ceaseless rotation.

Drew disrobed slowly.  He could not see the schooner, but he knew about
where she lay.  Indeed, he could hear the water slapping against her
sides and the creaking of her blocks and stays.  She was not far off
the shore.

And yet he hesitated before wading in.  He was a good swimmer, and the
water was warm; the actual getting to the schooner did not trouble his
mind in the least.  But, as he scanned the surface of the lagoon, there
was a phosphorescent flash several fathoms out.  Was it a leaping fish,
or----

His eyes had become accustomed to the semi-darkness.  Drifting in was
some object--a small, three-cornered, sail-like thing.  Another flash
of phosphorescence, and the triangular fin disappeared.  Drew shuddered
as he stood naked at the water's edge.  He could not fail to identify
the creature.  Something besides the _Bertha Hamilton_ had been shut in
the lagoon by the rising reef.

"And I venture to say that that shark is mighty hungry, too--unless he
found poor Sanders," muttered the shivering Drew.

He then waded into the water.



CHAPTER XXXII

THE BATTLE IN THE FORECASTLE

Making as little disturbance as possible, Drew sank to his armpits in
the pellucid waters, and then began to swim.  He believed the shark had
started briskly for some other point in the lagoon; but he knew the
eyes of the creature were sharp.

All about him, as the young man moved through the water, there were
millions of tiny organisms that would betray his presence, as they had
the shark's, at the first ripple.  These minute infusorians would glow
with the pale gleam of phosphorescence if the water were ruffled.
Therefore, he had to swim carefully and slowly, when each second his
nerves cried out for rapid, panic-stricken action.

He came at last to the schooner's stern without mishap.  He could see
her tall hull and taller spars above him.  There was no light in the
after part of the vessel; nor was there even a riding light.  The
mutineers whom Ditty had left aboard had evidently thrown off all
discipline.

Finding no line hanging from the rail aft, Drew swam around the
schooner to her bows.  Here was the anchor chain, and up this he
clambered nimbly to the rail.

Cautiously he raised his head above the rail and looked about him.
There was a light in the forecastle, but most of the deck was in deep
shadow.  Very slowly he pulled himself inboard and dropped down in the
bows.  Then, on hands and knees and avoiding any spot of light, he
crept noiselessly toward the forecastle and looked in.

By the light of the lamp swinging in its gimbals, he could see five men
seated on the floor with their hands tied behind them.  At a little
distance two other men were seated, both with revolvers thrust in their
belts.

The nearest of the guards was talking at the moment, and Drew easily
heard what was said.

"You're a bloomin' fool, I tell you, Trent," he was saying to one of
the prisoners.  "Ditty has got the old man dead to rights.  The
after-guard hain't got the ghost of a chance.  You'd better pitch in an
take your luck along with the rest of us."

"You're a lot of bloody murderers," growled the one addressed, "and
you'll swing for this business yet."

"Not as much chance of our swingin' as there is of you gittin' what
Sanders got," retorted the other.  "He's 'bout eat up by the sharks by
this time.  An' when Ditty comes back with the loot; he ain't goin' to
let you live to peach on 'im.  No, siree, he ain't.  Dead men tell no
tales."

Drew waited no longer.  He had no weapon with him, not even a knife.
But he counted on the advantage of surprise.  He gathered himself
together, and, with the agility of a panther, leaped upon the shoulders
of the man seated beneath him.  They went to the deck with a crash.
The fellow was stunned by the shock, and lay motionless; but Drew was
on his feet in a second.

The other mutineer leaped up, but when he saw the white and dripping
figure of the unexpected visitor he dropped the automatic and fell back
against the mess table, shaking and with his hands before his eyes.

"It's a ghost!" yelled Trent, no less frightened than the others, but
more voluble.  "It's Sanders been an' boarded us!"

The prisoners, crowded together on the deck of the forecastle, glared
at the apparition of the naked man in horror.  After all, the mutineer
had the most courage.

"Blast my eyes!" he suddenly shouted.  "Sanders wasn't never so big as
him; 'nless he's growed since he was sent to the sharks."

He sprang forward to peer into Drew's face.  The latter's fist shot out
and landed resoundingly on the fellow's jaw.

"Nor he don't hit like Sanders, by mighty!" yelled the fellow.  "Nor
like no ghost.  It's that blasted Drew--I knows 'im now."

"And you're going to know more about me directly," said Drew, between
his teeth, following the fellow up for a second blow.

But the mutineer had recovered himself, both in mind and body.  He was
a big, beefy chap, weighing fifty pounds heavier than Drew, despite the
latter's bone and muscle.  No man, no matter how well he can spar, can
afford to give away fifty pounds in a rough and tumble fight and expect
not to suffer for it.

The fellow put up a good defense, and Drew suddenly became aware that
he himself was at a terrible disadvantage.  He was a naked man against
one clothed and booted.  He could defend himself from the flail-like
blows of his antagonist and could get in some of his own swift hooks
and punches.  But when he was at close quarters the fellow played a
deadly trick on him.

As Drew stepped in to deliver a short-armed jolt to the mutineer's
head, the latter took the punishment offered, but, with all his weight,
stamped on Drew's unprotected foot.

The groan that this forced from the young man's lips brought a
diabolical grin to the mutineer's face.  Even the satisfaction of
changing that grin to a bloody smear, as he did the very next moment by
giving a fearful blow to the mouth, did not relieve Drew's pain.

He had to keep the fellow at arm's length, and that was not
advantageous to his own style of fighting.  He could make a better
record in close-up work.  But the mutineer wore heavy sea-boots, and
Drew already felt himself crippled.  His own footwork was spoiled.  He
limped as badly as had Tyke Grimshaw for a while.

There was not room for a fair field in the crowded forecastle, at best.
The big sailor was very wary about stepping near the five prisoners,
but he forced Drew, time and again, against the body of the prone and
unconscious man on the deck.  Three times his naked antagonist all but
sprawled over this obstruction.

In fact, Drew was not getting much the best of it, although few of the
mutineer's blows landed.  This fighting at arm's length never yet
brought a quick decision.  And that was what Allen Drew was striving
for.  For all he knew, Ditty might take it into his head to come off to
the schooner before bedtime.  If he were caught in this plight, he
would be utterly undone.

This thought harried the young man's very soul.  All he had risked in
swimming out to the schooner would go for nothing.  Not only would his
object in coming fail of consummation, but if Ditty caught him, the
besieged party up on the side of the whale's hump would lose its best
shot.

Thus convinced of the necessity for haste, Drew suddenly rushed in.  He
stifled a cry as the heavy boot crunched down on his foot once again.
This was no time for fair fighting.  He seized his antagonist by the
collar of his shirt, jerked him forward, and at the same time planted a
right upper-cut on the point of the jaw.

The fellow crashed to the deck--down and out without a murmur.  Drew,
panting and limping, leaving a trail of blood wherever he stepped,
secured some lengths of spun yarn and tied both mutineers hand and foot
before he gave any attention to the murmuring prisoners.

"Now, men," he said, turning to the five, "you know me.  I'm Mr. Drew
and I'm no ghost."

"You don't hit like no ghost," grinned Trent.  "I'm mighty glad you
come, Mr. Drew.  It would have been all up with us when old Bug-eye
come back if you hadn't."

"You're fine fellows and all right to stand up for your captain,"
replied Drew; "and you'll find that you've not only been on the right
side, but on the winning side.  However, we've got to hurry.  Where's a
knife?"

"You'll find one in that fellow's belt," said Whitlock, pointing to one
of the mutineers.

Drew secured it and cut the ropes that bound the prisoners.  They fell
to rubbing their arms and legs to get the blood to circulating.

"As soon as you can move about, get the dinghy ready," directed Drew.
"Stow in it all the provisions it will hold together with some casks of
water.  And you'd better bring Wah Lee and the Jap along.  I've got to
go to the captain's cabin, but I'll be back before you're ready.
Smart, now, for we don't know what minute Ditty may take a notion to
come aboard."

Drew hurried aft and into his own room where he quickly got into some
clothing and bandaged his crushed foot.  Then he pushed into the
captain's stateroom.  There was no light there, but he dropped on his
hands and knees and felt under the berth.

His hand touched the sharp corner of a box.  He dragged it out and
hurried up the companionway where he could examine it by the light of a
lantern.  He recognized at once the label of a well-known ammunition
company, and knew that these must be the cartridges of which the
captain had spoken.  That box perhaps spelled salvation for the
treasure seekers.

With his heart throbbing with elation and tightly clutching the
precious box, Drew hastened to the rail where the men were preparing to
launch the boat.  Wah Lee and Namco stood by, blinking with true
Oriental stolidity.  They betrayed neither eagerness nor reluctance,
nor was there the slightest trace of curiosity.  For them it was all in
the day's work.

The seamen heaped in all the provisions and water that the boat would
hold and still leave room for its occupants.  Drew advised muffling the
oars, and with barely a sound the craft moved toward the shore.
Heavily laden at is was, the progress was slow.  They kept cautiously
out of the zone of light cast by the mutineers' campfire, which now,
however, was dying out.  Finally the craft grated on the sand.

Under Drew's whispered directions, the men shouldered the stores, and
the party commenced the toilsome march inland to the little fort.

It was fully midnight when they were challenged by the sentinels at the
edge of the wood.

"Ahoy, there!" called Drew, hailing the fort.

"Ahoy, yourself!" came back the answer.  "Is that you, Allen?"

"Yes.  And some friends with me."

"Friends?"  There was surprise in the tone.  "Who are they?"

"I'll let you see for yourself."

The besieged, whose sleep had been fitful, had all been aroused by the
colloquy, and they crowded to the front of the barricade.  The moon had
now risen, and their faces could be clearly discerned.  Ruth lovelier
every time he saw her, Allen thought, stood beside her father.

"Why, it's Whitlock!" cried Captain Hamilton jubilantly.  "And
Gunther--and Trent--and Ashley--and _Barnes_!" he went on in
ever-increasing wonderment and excitement, as he recognized the
weather-beaten faces.  "And blest if here isn't that old heathen, Wah
Lee!  And the Jap!  Glory hallelujah!"

There was a moment of wild exclamations and handshakings.

"Bully lads!" cried the master of the _Bertha Hamilton_, with deep
emotion.  "So you broke away and came to help your captain, did you?
Good lads."

"We didn't exactly break away, Cap'n," said Gunther.  "Though God knows
we wanted to bad enough.  But it's Mr. Drew you want to thank for our
bein' here.  He done it all."

"I knowed it!  I knowed it!" cried Tyke.  "I felt it in my bones when I
first saw 'em!  Glory be!"

"He did it all?" inquired the captain.  "What do you mean?  Tell us,
Allen."

"Oh, there isn't much to tell," replied Drew.  "I was lucky enough to
reach the schooner and I found the men there with their hands tied.  I
cut the ropes and brought them along."

"You reached the schooner!" the captain repeated.  "How?"

"Did you git the boat from under the eyes of them fellers?" asked Tyke.

"No.  I swam over."

"Swam!" ejaculated the captain.

Ruth gave a little shriek and put her hand to her heart.

"Oh!" she cried.  "The sharks!"

"Haven't I always told you that boy was a wonder?" chuckled Tyke.

But here Whitlock touched his cap.

"Beggin' your pardon, Cap'n," he said apologetically, "but if Mr. Drew
was as slow with his fists as he is with tellin' his story, meanin' no
disrespec', me an' my mates wouldn't be here."

"Go ahead, Whitlock," said the captain.  "It is like pulling teeth to
get anything from Mr. Drew."

Whitlock told the story, which lost nothing in the telling.

There was a pause, tense with emotion, and all eyes were turned on
Drew.  Tyke's hand clapped him on the shoulder, but the old man did not
trust himself to speak.  Ruth's eyes were wet, but the tears could not
obscure a look that made the young man's heart thump wildly.

"Allen," said the captain, taking his hand, "it was the pluckiest thing
I ever heard of.  If we get out of this place alive, we shall owe it
all to you."

"You make too much of it," disclaimed Drew, red and confused.  "But
hadn't we better stow away these things the men have brought along?
Here's the box of cartridges I found under your berth."

The captain fairly shouted.

"That puts the cap sheaf on!" he exulted.  "Now Ditty and his gang are
done for.  They can't come too soon."



CHAPTER XXXIII

THE GHOST

The camp quieted down after a time.  In one corner, Ruth had a shelter
of rugs which had been brought up from the boat, and she retired to
this after helping her father dress and rebandage Drew's foot.

The captain, as so many skippers are, was a good amateur surgeon; and
as far as he could discern there were no bones broken.  But the foot
was so very painful that the young man could not coax the drowsy god.
He tossed restlessly on the hard bed of lava rock, and, though his eyes
closed at times, they opened again as though fitted with springs.

The exciting events of the day and the chances he had taken were
repeated over and over in his mind.  For the first time in his life he
had aimed a deadly weapon at another human being.

He knew that Bingo had fallen by his hand.  But, oddly enough, that
fact did not sear his conscience.  He had been accused of drowning
Lester Parmalee, and the thought of that accusation now made him shrink
and writhe.

He was guiltless of Parmalee's awful end; still, he shuddered at the
thought that he might have been guilty.  At one time he had felt such
rage and animosity, through jealousy, that he might have struck
Parmalee a fatal blow.

Drew had considered the missing man his rival for Ruth's affection.
Fate had removed that rival from his path.  Yet, in doing this, fate
had likewise raised a barrier to Drew's own happiness with Ruth.

The man groaned aloud at this thought.  Then, fearing that some of the
others would be disturbed, that Ruth might hear him, he arose and
hobbled to the barrier.

He felt in a pocket of the coat he had put on while aboard the schooner
and found pipe and tobacco.  He filled the pipe and fell to smoking,
hoping to soothe his jumping nerves, while he stared out across the
moonlit open.

The tropical moonlight revealed every object to the edge of the jungle
as clearly as though it were broad day.  It was a peaceful scene--so
peaceful that it was hard to imagine that daybreak might change it to a
place of carnage.

Suddenly he took his pipe from his lips and peered more closely at a
spot near the edge of the jungle.  Something had moved there.

It could not be one of the sentinels.  Attack was not expected from the
west.  Nor was it one of the small, night-roaming animals of the
forest.  Drew was sure there were no beasts of prey on this island.  It
was too far from the mainland and the larger islands.

The something which he had seen moved farther out from the line of
verdure.  It was a man.

Although the distance was fully a cable's length, Drew's eyes were
keen.  The moonlight for a full minute shone on the face of the figure
before it moved again.

The sight of the pallid countenance, with the black hair above it,
smote Drew with an emotion akin to terror.  He could not understand the
apparition--he could scarcely believe his eyes; yet that face was
Lester Parmalee's!

In a moment more the man had disappeared.  The figure seemed to have
melted into the black background of the jungle.

Without a grain of superstition in his being, Allen Drew felt that he
was in the presence of the supernatural.  He had not imagined the
figure.  It was no figment of a waking dream.

This was what Ruth had seen.  This was what had so startled her on the
occasion of the treasure seekers' first visit to the whale's hump.  She
thought she had imagined the appearance of Lester Parmalee.  Drew knew
he had seen it!

He was tempted to arouse Captain Hamilton.  Yet he shrank from that.
He could not utter the missing man's name to Ruth's father, knowing, as
he did, that the captain was doubtful of his, Drew's, innocence in
connection with Parmalee's disappearance.

He whispered to the man on guard that he was going outside, and quickly
surmounted the barrier.  He had his automatic revolver; and, anyway, he
did not think any of the mutineers were in the neighborhood.

Having marked well the spot where the ghostly figure had presented
itself to his startled vision, Drew hobbled directly to it, forgetting
in his excitement the painful foot.  He did not halt to search for
foot-prints, but looked instead for an opening in the jungle, into
which the figure could have disappeared.

It was there--one of those strange lava paths through the thick
vegetation.  The moonlight scarcely illuminated it, for it was narrow;
but Drew entered boldly.  This matter must be brought to a conclusion.
He felt that the mystery had to be solved without delay.

There was light enough to show him the black wall of the jungle on
either side of the path.  There were no openings.  Tropical undergrowth
is not like that of a northern forest.  Here the lianas and thorns
intermingled with strong brush, make an impervious hedge.  One could
not penetrate it without the aid of a machete.

Drew heard no sound as he went on.  The man he followed was not
struggling through the jungle in an attempt to escape pursuit.  Allen
hastened his footsteps, his hand on his revolver.  Was that a figure
moving through the semi-dusk ahead?  Should he call?  His lips formed
the name of Parmalee, but no sound came from them.

Suddenly he came to a clearing, perhaps a dozen yards across.  Here the
lava had formed a pool and cooled in this circular patch.  The
moonlight now revealed all.

A figure--the same he had seen upon the edge of the jungle--was
crossing this opening in the forest.  The pursuer sprang forward.

"Wait!" he gasped.  "It's I--Drew!  Wait!"

The other whirled.  He held only a club as a means of defense.  He was
in rags.  His black hair hung in dank locks about his pale brow.

"Who are you?" he cried.  "Keep off!"

"Parmalee!"

Allen Drew rushed in, making light of the club, and seized the other in
his arms.

"My God, man! don't you know me?  How came you here?  Are you real?" he
chattered.

"Is it you, Drew?" queried the other, brokenly.  "Lord! don't take my
breath, old fellow."

"They accuse me of taking your life!" ejaculated Drew, with hysterical
laughter.  "Don't mind a little thing like being hugged.  Gad,
Parmalee! how glad I am to see you!"

"Accused you of taking my life!" the other exclaimed, amazed.

"Ditty, the black-hearted hound, accused me of throwing you overboard.
Said he saw me do it.  Captain Hamilton half believes it yet.  Heavens,
Parmalee, but you're a sight to put heart into a man!

"Only," Drew added, "you quite took the heart out of me just now when I
saw you standing there at the edge of the forest staring at the fort."

"The fort.  Yes.  That's what puzzled me," Parmalee said.  "I wasn't
sure which party was defending it.  The sailors mutinied, didn't they?
You're fighting them?"

"I should say we are, the----"

He got no further.  In their eagerness, the two men had been talking in
ordinary tones and had paid no attention to their surroundings.  A
voice suddenly crackled through the other sounds of the night.

"Well, we've got two of 'em.  Hands up, or we'll blow your heads off!"

It was Ditty with half a dozen of the mutineers at his back.  They held
Drew and Parmalee under the muzzles of their automatics.

It was useless to attempt to escape.  Even Drew, reckless as he had
shown himself at times, would not take his life so lightly in his
hands.  And, besides, he knew well that Ditty would be only too glad to
shoot him.

His hands, as well as Parmalee's, went up promptly.  One of the seamen,
laughing a little, came forward and searched them both, taking away
Drew's weapon.  Parmalee had dropped his useless club.

The young men, so suddenly made captives by the mutineers, stood with
their backs to the strong moonlight, their faces in the shadow.  The
moon was now sinking behind a buttress of the volcano.  As yet, neither
had been recognized by their captors.  But now Ditty came forward, and
first of all thrust his face into that of Parmalee.

"Who the devil are you?" he demanded.

The young man lifted his head and stared into the mate's pale eye.
Ditty started back with a shriek.

"What--what----  Who is it?" chattered the mate.  His henchmen gazed at
him in amazement.  Suddenly Ditty came forward again, and whirled
Parmalee around so that he faced the sinking moon.

"Mr. Parmalee!" he whispered.

The latter smiled faintly.

"It's Parmalee, all right," he said.  "You didn't expect to see me
again, I imagine, Mr. Ditty."

The sound of the man's voice seemed to reassure the mate.  The other
mutineers chattered their surprise.  Finally Ditty, licking his dry
lips, stammered:

"I--I thought that you--you were----"

"No thanks to you that I'm not drowned, Mr. Ditty, if that's what you
mean," said Parmalee bitterly.  "You tried your best to murder me."

"Not me!" declared Ditty, with a gesture of denial, turning his single
eye away from the other's accusing gaze.  "It was that swab, Drew,
threw you overboard."

"Liar," declared Parmalee evenly.  "Drew lay on the deck unconscious
from his fall.  I was stooping to help him.  Though you crept up behind
me, I knew you when you seized me in your arms, you villain.  And I
hope to see you punished for it."

Ditty, with a curse, would have struck Parmalee, but Drew stepped
between them and received the blow intended for his comrade.

"If you must hit a man, hit one of your own size," he said quietly.

"Drew!  Drew himself!" shouted the mate, recognizing the second
captive.  "The very one we wanted!  Hi, bullies! we've got the
whip-hand now.  We've got the old man's right bower!  An' him an' the
gal an' Tyke Grimshaw will pay us our price for the freedom of this
laddy-buck, to say nothin' of Parmalee.  Bring 'em along!"



CHAPTER XXXIV

THE BATTLE IS ON

Helpless and almost hopeless, the two captives were led deeper into the
forest paths.  Drew realized that they were skirting the barren
hillside and gaining a position nearer to the treasure seekers' fort.

Finally they saw a fire in the now dark wood, and soon came to a
stockade.  Several fallen trees formed this barrier, and in addition to
the protection they afforded, a number of branches had been so arranged
as to form an abattis.  The work had been hastily done; but with
determined men behind it, it would offer a formidable obstacle to an
attacking party.

At a fire in the further end of the enclosure the mutineers were
preparing their breakfast.  Ditty went over and talked earnestly with
some of his men, but finally broke off abruptly and came back to the
prisoners, who had both been tied, wrist and ankle.

"So I've got you where I've wanted you at last, have I?" he taunted
Drew.  "Little moonlight walks don't always pan out as you expect."

Drew disdained to reply.

"You wont talk, eh?" the mate snarled, kicking him in the ribs with his
heavy boot.  "Well, I know some cunnin' little ways of makin' people
talk when I want 'em to.  But I'm goin' to wait a while before I try
'em on you.  I want somebody here to see you cringe and hear you howl.
Bless her pretty eyes, how she'll enjoy it!"

Then Drew's eyes flashed and he strained at his bonds.

"You vile scoundrel!" he cried.  "If my hands were free I'd choke the
life out of you!"

"So you can talk, after all?" sneered the mate, his cold eye becoming
still more reptilian.

"And more than talk--give me the chance," Drew flung back at him.

"Smart boy," jeered the mate.  "Smart enough to translate Spanish and
the pirate's old map, eh?  An' now you're goin' to smart more when you
see me an' my mates walk off with the doubloons," and he laughed.

"Yes.  When I do!" the young man said boldly.  "You'll be a deal older
when that happens, Ditty."

"I'll show you!" ejaculated the mate, and kicked him again.

"The brute!" gasped Parmalee.

"Parmalee," Drew said in a trembling voice, "I never wanted the use of
my hands so much as I do now.  When I do get free, I shall be tempted
to kill that fellow."

"He deserves it--the double-dyed villain!" groaned Parmalee.  "And he
threw me overboard."

"I knew he must have done so," said Drew.  "But why did he do it?  Not
just to put the crime on me?  How were you saved and how did you get
here?  Let's hear it all."

"I had overheard the rascal plotting with some of the men," returned
Parmalee.  "Ditty must have caught a glimpse of me.  I suppose he felt
the time was not ripe for exposure; so he put me out of the way.  He
must have been lurking near us that night when you fell.  I was
stooping to help you when he grabbed me and flung me over the rail.  I
didn't have time to cry out.

"I'm a good swimmer--one of the few active accomplishments I
possess--and I swam as long as I could.  Just as I lost strength, my
hand touched a cask lashed to a grating that must have fallen from some
vessel, or been thrown from it.  That held me up till morning.  By that
time I was about all in.  But just then a sloop--a turtle catcher she
was--bore down on me, sighted me, and answered my frantic appeal, and
picked me up.  It was a terrible experience."

"It must have been," breathed the other.  "Go on.  How did you get here
to this very island where the doubloons were buried?"

"Are they here?" asked Parmalee eagerly.  "Do you know?"

"Sh!" whispered Drew.  "Don't say a word.  We have 'em--pecks of them!
And jewels and other stuff besides--enough to make us all as rich as
Midas."

"Humph!" commented Parmalee, with sudden gravity.  "And he had asses'
ears.  I'm afraid this mess we're all in shows that we did an asinine
thing in coming down here after the doubloons.  What is wealth compared
to life itself?"

"True," murmured Drew.  "And what we've been through besides.  But go
on.  Tell the rest."

"When those turtle catchers landed here I had no idea that this island
was the one marked on the pirate's map which Captain Hamilton showed
me," pursued Parmalee.  "I was treated well enough.  But I happened to
have no money in my pockets, and the men disbelieved my claim that I
would pay them if they would get me to a civilized port!  So they made
me work.  That was all right, but the work was too heavy for me; so I
went off into the interior of the island to see if there were not some
inhabitants.  Then the first earthquake came.  It frightened those
half-breeds and negroes blue.  They set off in the sloop, leaving me
behind.

"Day before yesterday I came up this way.  I guessed that the
fortification must have been thrown up by one party from the _Bertha
Hamilton_ and that this was the island we had been seeking; but
hesitated to come nearer, unarmed as I was, fearing that Ditty and his
gang of cut-throats were fortified here."

"Ruth saw you," Drew volunteered.  "She thought you were an apparition.
And so did I, this morning.  But you must have had a frightful time of
it."

"I've been keeping myself alive on fruit and shell-fish since the
turtle catchers deserted me.  It's not a satisfying diet," Parmalee
said with a little laugh.

During this low-voiced conversation between the two prisoners, the
mutineers had been eating breakfast.  They offered the young men none;
but neither Drew nor Parmalee was thinking of his appetite.

"Sit up close behind me, Parmalee," whispered Drew.  "I believe I can
work on that cord that fastens your wrists.  If I can get you free, you
can free me."

"Good!  We'll try it," said the other confidently.

"That will do.  Get close to me and let me pick away at this knot.
Ditty's too busy to come over here now.  Besides, they're getting ready
to attack our people, I think.  He believes we're safe here, and he'll
need all his men with him."

"You're getting it, Drew, old fellow," whispered Parmalee eagerly.

"Bet your life!  One of the easiest knots a seaman ever tied.  Now try
mine."

Parmalee did as directed, and the knot that fastened Drew's wrists soon
yielded.  But the latter still kept his hands behind him and assumed a
pose of deep dejection, his companion doing the same.

As Drew had conjectured, Ditty had made up his mind to attack.  He was
still unaware of what had taken place on the schooner during the night,
and was confident that he outnumbered the besieged by about two to one.
Time was pressing, for a ship might appear at any time.  He resolved to
hazard all his chances on one throw.

At the head of his band he left the stockade.  Drew and Parmalee waited
till they felt sure that all had gone and that no guard left behind was
stealthily watching them through the trees.  Drew then got out his
pocket knife and severed their ankle lashings.

At that moment a volley of shots was heard in the direction of the
barricade.  It was followed by another and still another.  The fight
had begun.

"Come on!" cried Drew excitedly, and he dashed out of the stockade
followed by Parmalee.

Day was just breaking.  Overhead the twittering of doves, the squeaking
of parrakeets, the countless sounds of bird and insect life, welcomed
the sun.

But the fusilades of gun shots hushed the clamor of wild life, and sent
the birds and the animals shrieking away from the vicinity.



CHAPTER XXXV

THE SURRENDER--CONCLUSION

Great was the consternation in the little fortress when it was
discovered that Drew was absent.  And as the time dragged by and he did
not return, his friends knew that either he had been killed or was a
prisoner in the hands of the mutineers.  And if the latter, they knew
only too well what mercy he had to expect from the mate.  One murder
more or less was nothing to that scoundrel now.

Grimshaw and Captain Hamilton were abnormally grave, and Ruth's eyes
were wild with anguish and terror.  She no longer had any doubt of her
feeling for Allen.  She knew that she loved him with all her heart.

At the first sign of daylight, the master of the _Bertha Hamilton_ put
his little band on a war footing.  The ammunition was distributed, and
he rejoiced to see how abundant it was.  That he had Drew to thank for.
Ruth prepared lint and bandages for the wounded from supplies which
Allen had also brought, then she stood ready to reload the extra rifles
and small arms, or, at need, to use a revolver herself.  Her eyes were
clear and dauntless, and if her father looked at her with grave
anxiety, it was also with pride.

Breakfast despatched, the men took the places assigned to them.  The
captain had formed his plan of battle.

"They'll rush us after a few volleys," he asserted.  "Wait till they
get within thirty feet before you fire.  Then let them have it, and aim
low.  If they waver, and I think they will, jump over the breastworks
when I give the word, and we'll charge in turn.  If we once get them on
the run, they'll never rally and we'll hunt them down like rats until
they surrender.  We're going to win, my lads!"

The answer was a cheer, and Captain Hamilton had no doubt as to the
spirit with which his little force was going into the fray.

The outposts came hurrying in with the news that the mutineers were
coming.  And not long after, this was confirmed by a spatter of bullets
against the rocks.

The defenders made a spirited reply, and several volleys were
exchanged.  But the mutineers were in the shelter of the wood.

Ditty knew that the pistol bullets of his men would do little damage at
long range.

There came an ominous pause.

"They're getting ready now," said Captain Hamilton quietly.  "Mind what
I told you, my lads, about shooting low.  And when you see me jump over
the rocks, come close on my heels.  I'll be up in front."

It was a nerve-trying wait.  Then, suddenly, the mutineers emerged from
the wood and rushed toward the fort, yelling as they came.

They had covered nearly half the distance when Captain Hamilton gave
the word and the rifles spoke.  Some of the bullets went high and wide,
but several of the attacking force staggered and went down.  Their
comrades hesitated for a second, and the master of the _Bertha
Hamilton_ seized his opportunity.

"Follow me!" he yelled.  "Come on!"

He leaped over the rocky breastwork, and with a cheer the seamen
followed him.

The check of the mutineers had been only temporary.  Ditty raged and
stormed and swore at them and they regained some semblance of order.
By the time the captain and his force had fairly cleared the lava
barricade and had got into the full momentum of their charge, the
mutineers had reformed.  In another instant the lines had met and were
locked in deadly combat.

There was no longer any pretense of discipline.  When their guns were
empty, every man singled out his antagonist and grappled with him.  The
forces were now about evenly divided, and for a time the issue was
doubtful.

Then came a diversion.

Out from the wood leaped Drew, whirling a heavy club, his eyes blazing
with rage and the lust of battle.  Here was the chandlery clerk,
metamorphosed indeed!  He was followed by Parmalee, plucky, but for the
moment breathless from the struggle through the jungle.

"Shoot him, you bullies!  Pull him down!" yelled Ditty, seeing the
charging Drew.

He aimed his own revolver at the young man and fired.  Drew felt as
though his head had been seared by a red-hot iron.  He staggered, but,
nevertheless, kept on, charging directly at the one-eyed mate.

They met.  As Drew struck at his enemy with the club, the latter flung
his emptied revolver full in the face of the younger man.  Drew ducked,
but could not avoid it.  But the bodies of the two came together, and
they clenched.

Back and forth they strained, each struggling for a wrestler's hold in
order to enable him to throw the other.  For half a minute or more
neither was successful.

But the mate was the better man in the rough-and-tumble fight.  He
suddenly lifted Drew from the ground and flung him to the ground.  But
Ditty fell too, landing heavily on his victim.

The shock almost deprived Drew of breath.  The wound in his head had
confused him.  His grasp on Ditty relaxed, and with a yell of triumph
the latter released himself, leaped to his feet, seizing the club as he
arose.

"Now I've got you!" he yelled, and swung the club aloft.

At that moment Captain Hamilton shot Ditty through the breast.  With a
snarl, the mate, losing the club, hurled himself toward the captain and
grappled with him.  They went down, the latter's head striking the
ground so that he was dazed for a moment.

The mutineer jerked the knife from his belt and raised it to strike;
but Tyke Grimshaw, who had been fighting furiously, kicked the knife
from his hand and the captain, recovering, threw his enemy from him and
arose.

Ditty did not rise.  The remaining mutineers wavered when their leader
fell, then turned to flee.

"After them, my lads!" cried Captain Hamilton.  "We've got 'em on the
run!"

But the battle ended abruptly.

In the excitement of the fight, none had noticed the black cloud
shooting up from the crater so close at hand.  There was a stupendous
roar, and the earth shook again as though twisted between the fingers
of a Titan.  The crashing of trees in the forest, and the bursting of
hot lava spewed out of the volcano, grew into a cannonade.

Prone on the ground, terrified and bewildered before this awful seismic
phenomenon, neither belligerent party thought of fighting.  Not until
the uproar and quaking had subsided some minutes later, could they
reconcile themselves to the conviction that by a miracle only were they
alive.

The mutineers crept away into the forest unmolested.  Gradually the
others regained self-control.  Tyke nursed the lame foot which had done
such timely service in thwarting Ditty, while the captain tallied up
his losses.  Two of the faithful seamen were dead, Ashley and Trent,
and several were rather badly wounded, while none had emerged from the
struggle without some injury.  Five of the mutineers had been killed,
and three more were severely though not mortally wounded.

Drew had at first thought that the wound inflicted by Ditty's bullet
was slight.  But suddenly a deadly weakness came over him.  He seemed
to be falling into a stupor from which he tried desperately to save
himself.  Ruth was bandaging his wound when she noticed his growing
faintness.  She cried out in alarm.

"Allen, dear, Allen!" she begged.  "Rouse up!  Don't faint!"

"I--I'm going, Ruth," he answered.

"No, no;" she cried desperately.  "I won't let you!"

"I'm going," he muttered, clinging to her.

"You mustn't!" she exclaimed wildly.  "Don't go, Allen!  Not until I
tell you----"

But the next moment Drew slipped into unconsciousness.

When he awoke to find himself between snowy sheets in his old berth
with Ruth's cool hand upon his forehead and her tender eyes looking
into his, he had many things to learn.  She pieced out for him the
happenings after that stark fight on the island.  She told how Parmalee
had picked up a revolver from the field and played his part in the
fight; how, after the burial of the dead and aid to the wounded, the
treasure chest had been transferred to the schooner; how the remnant of
the mutineers had evaded capture and had fled to the remote parts of
the island; and, greatest of all, how that last earthquake shock had
tipped the reef again and made a new opening in the barrier that had
hemmed in the schooner.  She told him, too, that in an hour the _Bertha
Hamilton_ would be ploughing the waves of the Caribbean.

To all these things he listened with unutterable content and peace
beyond all telling.  He was alive!  His name was stainless!  His future
was secure!  And Ruth was beside him!  It was heaven just to lie there,
drinking in the beauty of her eyes and breathing the fragrance of her
hair when she bent over to adjust his pillow.

"And we shall soon have bidden good-bye to Earthquake Island!" Ruth
exclaimed gaily.

"Is that what you've dubbed it?" he asked, smiling.  "It couldn't be
better christened.  Earthquakes seem to be its chief stock in trade."

"Except doubloons," she reminded him.  "Don't be ungrateful."

Tyke came in and sat patting Drew's hand, too deeply moved at first to
trust himself to speak.  The captain, too, was a visitor, confidently
attributing the salvation of the party to Drew's pluck and daring.  And
Parmalee--a vastly stronger and healthier Parmalee than before he had
been compelled to "rough it"--showed himself exceedingly friendly.

"It has been a great voyage for me," he said.  "I'm open to
congratulations, Drew.  My health is so much improved, that I shall be
married as soon as we reach New York."

Drew's heart suddenly turned to ice.  He knew he ought to say
something, but for the life of him he could not speak.  He looked
unseeingly at Parmalee, his face the color of ashes.

"Her name is Edith," continued Parmalee, with the egotism of a lover.
"Beautiful name, don't you think?  We've been engaged for more than a
year, but I didn't want to marry until I was stronger."

The blood flowed into Drew's face once more.

"Beautiful?" he cried.  "I should say it was!  And I bet she's as
beautiful as her name.  Parmalee, I congratulate you.  With all my
heart I congratulate you.  You're a lucky dog.  Shake hands."

Parmalee's eyes twinkled.

"Upon my word! you're a fellow of sudden and wonderful enthusiasms," he
exclaimed.  "But I can guess why.  I'm not blind.  Go in and win, old
fellow."

Ruth came back just then, gay and radiant.

"Seems to me there's a lot of noise here for a sick man's room," she
remarked, looking smilingly from one to the other.  "I'll have to drive
you out, Mr. Parmalee, if you get my patient too greatly excited," she
went on, shaking her finger at him with mock severity.

"I imagine I haven't done him any harm," laughed Parmalee slyly.

"Harm!" cried Drew.  "You've given me a new lease on life.  I'll get
well now in no time.  I've just got to get well!"

"I was telling him about Edith," explained Parmalee.

"Edith!" exclaimed Ruth.  "Isn't she just the dearest girl?  So you've
taken Allen into the secret too?  Go and get her picture and let him
see what a darling she is."

Parmalee, nothing loth, rose and left the room.

"You'll simply fall in love with her when you see her picture,"
prophesied Ruth, as she adjusted the pillow.

"No, I won't," declared Drew with emphasis.

"She's one of the dearest friends I have," Ruth continued, teasingly
keeping her hand just out of Allen's reach.  "Of course, I knew all
about their engagement, and Mr. Parmalee's talked to me a lot about her
during this voyage.  The poor fellow was so lonely without her that I
suppose he had to have some one to confide in."

A great light broke upon Drew's mind.

"So that's what you two used to talk about when I was so----" he
hesitated, seeking for a word.

"So what?" she asked demurely, with a glint of the old mischief in her
eyes.

"Oh, you know," he answered, hardly knowing how to proceed.  He was
doing his best to catch her eye but could not.

He raised up and caught her by the forearm, but he was too weak to hold
her and she drew herself gently away.

"I told Mr. Parmalee that he must not excite you, and now I'm acting
just as badly," she said.  "You must rest or you'll never get well."

"Oh, I'm bound to get well now!" he declared.  At that moment Tyke
Grimshaw's face appeared at the doorway.

"How are you making it, Allen?" he questioned.

"First rate," was the answer.  The young man was rather put out over
the interruption, yet he could not help but remember what Grimshaw had
done for him and he gave the old man a warm look of gratitude.

"We're going to have some rough sailing for a little while," announced
Grimshaw.  "We're going to sail through that there gap in the reef--if
it can be done."

From a distance they could hear the voice of Mr. Rogers giving orders.
And the stamp of the seamen's feet announced that the _Bertha Hamilton_
was getting under way.  Short-handed as she was, never did sailors
swing into the ancient chantey in better tune and with more
cheerfulness.

  "Oh, haul the bowline, Katy is my darling,
    Oh, haul the bowline, the bowline _haul_!

  "Oh, haul the bowline, London girls are towing,
    Oh, haul the bowline, the bowline _haul_!

  "Oh, haul the bowline, the packet is a-rolling,
    Oh, haul the bowline, the bowline _haul_!"


With anchor apeak, topsails jerked aloft and flattened, the schooner
took the wind.  Although the earthquake had subsided, the waters both
inside the reef and outside were much troubled.  Where the two jaws of
the rocky barrier still remained, the waves pounded and foamed
furiously.

Would they be able to get out safely?  That was the question in the
mind of every man who trod the deck of the schooner.  Soundings had
been made, and they had learned that the lane to safety was both narrow
and winding.

"If we hit, it will be all up with us," said one of the tars to his
mates.

"We got ter take a chance," was the answer.  "Keelhaul me, if I want to
stay at this island any longer!"

Closer and closer to the jaws of the reef sped the _Bertha Hamilton_.
Then up and down like a cork danced the schooner.  For one brief
instant as she plunged through the waves and the foam, scattering the
flying spray in all directions, it looked as if nature might force her
upon the rocks, there to be battered into a shapeless hulk.  But then,
as if by a miracle, she righted herself, answered her helm, and shot
through the miraculously opened lane into the blue waters of the ocean
beyond.

They were homeward bound.

A week later as the schooner was running up the Florida coast, Drew,
who had gained strength magically after his enlightening interview with
Parmalee, was standing with Ruth near the rail.  Dusk was coming on,
and a crescent moon was already showing its horns in the sky, still
touched by the sun's aftermath.

In the hush of the twilight they had fallen silent.  Ruth's hand was
resting on the rail.  Allen reached over gently and took it in his own.
It was quivering, but she did not withdraw it.

"Ruth, look at me," he said, somewhat huskily.  She lifted her eyes to
his, but dropped them instantly.

"Ruth," he continued, "when I was hurt and was losing consciousness on
the island, do you remember what you said to me?"  She was silent.
"Tell me, Ruth," he urged.  "Do you?"

"How can I?" she said evasively.  "I--I said so many things.  I was so
excited----"

"I remember," he said softly.  "I will never forget.  You said: 'Don't
go, Allen, not until I tell you----'  What was it you wished to tell
me, Ruth?"

"Don't make me say it, Allen," she murmured, her gaze downcast.

"Was it this?" he asked; and now his voice was shaking.  "Was it: Don't
go, Allen, not until I tell you that I love you?  Was that it, Ruth?"

She looked at him then, and her eyes were wonderful.

With a stifled cry he opened his arms, and she crept into them in shy
and sweet surrender.

His lips met hers.

He had gained the Doubloons--and the Girl.



THE END





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