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Title: Fire Mountain - A Thrilling Sea Story
Author: Springer, Norman, 1888-1974
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 "Fire Mountain - A Thrilling Sea Story" ***

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[Transcriber's notes: Extensive research found no evidence that the
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_A Thrilling Sea Story_










_Printed in the United States of America_






[Transcriber's note: Page 1 missing from book]

[Transcriber's note: Page 2 missing from book]

years.  Bright, aslant eyes, and a suave and ever-ready smile that
broke immediately Martin met his gaze.

"You will be so good as to inform the honorable that Dr. Ichi is here?"
he asked in precise and stilted voice.

Ever the same--the noiseless entry, the quietly spoken request for the
lawyer.  Martin repressed a flash of irritation; the little Japanese,
with his uncanny soft-footedness and stereotyped address, got upon his
nerves.  However, his orders were explicit; Mr. Smatt would see Dr.
Ichi without delay or preliminary, whenever Dr. Ichi favored the office
with a visit.  It was already the third visit that day, but orders were

So, Martin inclined his head toward the door of Smatt's private office.
The Japanese crossed the room.  He bowed to Martin, as stately a bow as
if Martin were also an "honorable," instead of a poor devil of a law
clerk; then, noiselessly as he had entered the outer office, Dr. Ichi
disappeared within Smatt's sanctum.

Martin turned to his window again.  But his bright day dream was fled,
and he could not conjure it back again.  The view was without charm.
His thoughts, despite himself, persisted in centering upon the dapper
little figure now closeted with his employer.  The dandified Jap
aroused Martin's interest.

What manner of client was this Dr. Ichi?  Martin had not seen a single
scrap of paper, nor had Smatt dropped a single hint, concerning the
case.  It was mysterious!  Martin was not an overly curious chap, but
he was human.

It was another of Smatt's secret cases, thought Martin.  Another token
of those hidden activities of the old vulture, which he sensed, but did
not know about.  For, though Martin attended to the routine work,
though his duties were responsible--Smatt specialized and was prominent
in maritime law--still Martin knew he did not enjoy his employer's
complete confidence.

Much of Smatt's time was taken up with cases Martin knew nothing about,
with clients who appeared to shun the daylight of the courts.  The
Nippon Trading Company, for instance!  Martin knew Smatt was interested
in a company of that name--a strange company, that apparently conducted
business without using the mails.  And there was business between Ichi
and Smatt--money, or Smatt would have nothing to do with it.  The
mystery aroused Martin's dormant curiosity.

But all his speculation was pointless.  Martin bethought himself of the
marine affidavit lying uncompleted upon his desk.  He turned from the
window with the intention of applying himself to that task--and he
discovered the office to have a second visitor.  Another unusual figure
who possessed the penchant for surreptitious entry.  He observed the
fellow in the very act of closing the office door.

"Say, you!  Didn't you see the sign on the door, 'Please Knock'?"
exclaimed Martin.  "Can't you read English?"

"I'm no knocker, I'm a booster.  Besides I don't believe in signs," was
the surprising response.

The visitor faced about as he spoke, and Martin took stock of him.  He
was a hunchback.  He was seedily clad in a shiny black suit, but a
modish green velvet hat, several sizes too small, perched precariously
atop his very large head and gave him an oddly rakish appearance.  But
his face was pleasing--a wide grin, a snub nose, a pair of twinkling
eyes beneath a broad, intelligent forehead.  Martin immediately
commenced to thaw as the other smiled.

The hunchback carried a book under one arm, a formidable appearing
volume.  With a dexterous flirt, he bounced it into his hand and thrust
it beneath Martin's very nose.

"The bargain of the century--cannot afford to miss it--wonderful
opportunity first time offered," he began in a sing-song.

Martin stiffened with surprise.  Not at the words; he was accustomed to
book-agents of strange guise.  But the voice!  A rich, throaty tenor
with not a squeak in it.  The man's discourse was like a song.

"Cost you nothing.  Wonderful Compendium of Universal
Knowledge--compiled after years of labor--faculties of great
universities.  Cost you nothing; Absolutely free."

The golden voice sang on.  Martin found his gaze upon the book, and
then upon the hand that held the book.  That hand!  Surely, no
book-agent ever possessed such a hand--brown-backed, big, and muscular,
plainly the hand of an outdoors man.  Where the sleeve fell away from
the wrist Martin glimpsed the blue of a tattooed figure.  A sailor's

He raised his eyes to the hunchback's face, noting as he did the great
length of arm, and the unnaturally square yet muscular shoulder.  And
the face!  A book-agent might be expected to have tanned cheeks, his
occupation not being a sedentary one.  But surely, such a bronzed and
weather-lined coating as this man's face wore was never gained by
winning past janitors or tramping city streets.

"Possible to make offer only because of great advertising campaign--you
reap advantage free of charge.  Wonderful volume absolutely free.  You
merely subscribe to _Coleman's Weekly_--ten cents a week, fifty cents a
month, price of magazine--wonderful Compendium of Universal
Knowledge--cost you absolutely nothing----"

The hunchback pattered on.  Book-agent or no, Martin conceded he had
the technique of the craft at his tongue's tip.  His eyes--suddenly,
Martin was aware of the peculiar behavior of the other's eyes.  The
were roving about the office from point to point, as if the fellow were
endeavoring to fix in his mind every feature of the room.  But most
often, Martin noticed, his gaze rested upon the door to Smatt's private
office, through which came at intervals the hoarse murmur of Smatt's
voice.  Once, atop the murmur, came a few words in Dr. Ichi's clipped
and even tones----

"Plan--good--have caution--proceed----"

The hunchback ceased talking.  Martin attributed his satisfied smile to
assurance of a sale; the chap evidently had confidence in his musical
patter.  Martin felt almost sorry as he declined the greatest offer of
the century.  His brain was already overburdened, he kindly explained,
and he dare not risk brain fag by delving into the matchless
Compendium.  Of course, some other day, when finances...

The purveyor of knowledge took the refusal easily.  Martin had expected
him to lose his smile, but it grew wider.  So Martin braced himself to
receive the assault of facts and figures he was sure was preparing.
Instead, however, came a raucous command from the other room.

"Blake, come here!"

It was characteristic of Josiah Smatt that his offices had few of the
modern business accoutrements.  No conventional stenographer powdered
her nose and received clients in an ante-room, no traditional
office-boy harried the janitor or played in the corner upon a
mouth-organ, no call-buzzers frazzled the nerves.

Smatt was a prominent legal light in shipping circles, and he was not
parsimonious.  But he was eccentric.  He carried his secrets and most
of his bookkeeping beneath his hat; Martin, his one employee, was
admitted to only partial confidence.  And whenever Mr. Smatt wished his
clerk to attend upon him, he lifted up his voice and bellowed.

It was this bellow that checked the book agent's flow of words, and
startled Martin into activity.  Mr. Smatt did not like to be kept

"Sorry," Martin said to the hunchback, "but I'm called in there.
You'll have to get out.  Couldn't use your book anyway."

"Oh, that's all right," responded the other airily.  "You will observe
I do not depart downcast!  It has really, sir, helped me a lot, just to
visit you--helped me a very great deal.  You are a pleasant chap!"

Martin entered the inner office, and he had a last glimpse of the
queer, deformed little figure, book under arm, velvet hat cocked over
one ear, in the act of negotiating the outer exit.

Martin, standing docilely before Smatt's desk, discovered himself to be
the subject of a searching scrutiny from two pairs of eyes.  Both Smatt
and Dr. Ichi, the latter seated at the lawyer's right hand, were
critically inspecting the tall, good-looking young fellow who faced

Martin was accustomed to the lawyer's boring glances.  He returned
Smatt's stare, and experienced more keenly than usual his sense of
dislike for the man.  Smatt's face was in keeping with his voice, which
was rusty.  It was bleak and lantern-jawed, with a gash for a mouth,
and a great beak of a nose that thrust out between two cold gray eyes.
He was quite bald.  An impressive appearing old man, not one to inspire
affection but fear.  One year of service had endowed Martin with no
sense of loyalty or liking for the man.  Now, he returned Smatt's gaze
with one of indifference, tinged with hostility.

"Blake, I wish you to execute a mission for me tonight," said Smatt.

Martin inclined his head in understanding.  Executing missions at
night-time for Mr. Smatt was a not uncommon experience.  He rather
liked these confidential errands, though he sometimes doubted the good
faith of the man who inspired them.  They took him into strange corners
of the city, to interview strange characters.  They were the one
exciting feature of his drab employment.

The lawyer picked up from his desk a well-stuffed and tightly sealed
legal-sized envelope.  He turned to the Japanese, as if for approval or
permission, and Dr. Ichi, without removing his bright, oblique eyes
from Martin's face, inclined his head in agreement with that unspoken
communication.  The lawyer faced Martin again, but the latter had the
feeling that, despite Smatt's heavy voice and forceful personality, it
was the silent little Dr. Ichi who dominated the situation.

"You are to deliver this envelope to a man named Carew, Captain Robert
Carew," commenced Smatt.  "At ten o'clock tonight, exactly, you will
enter a drinking saloon situated on the corner of Green Street and the
Embarcadero.  This resort is known as the Black Cruiser Saloon, and is
conducted by a person named Spulvedo--you will find both names on a
sign over the entrance."

The lawyer looked inquiringly toward Dr. Ichi, and the latter nodded
confirmation of the instruction and description.  Smatt continued.

"You will speak with this man, Spulvedo, taking care not to be
overheard, and you will ask him to conduct you to Captain Carew."

Martin nodded his understanding as the lawyer paused, and extended his
hand for the envelope.  It was simple.  This Carew was evidently lying
doggo in this water-front saloon.

"One moment!" said Smatt.  "Repeat your instructions."

Martin obeyed, and, being blessed with a memory, he repeated them

"Very good," said Smatt.  "Now, for the rest."  He shot a quick glance
to Dr. Ichi, and the Japanese bowed.  "This person, Spulvedo, will lead
you into Captain Carew's presence.  Under no circumstances will you
deliver this envelope to other than Carew, himself.  You may identify
him readily by his appearance.  He is a large, blond man, with a deep
voice.  He speaks with an English accent, using the words of an
educated man.  A star is tattooed in red upon the back of his right

Smatt paused again.  Martin, parrot-like, repeated the other's words.
Dr. Ichi inclined his head in approval.  Smatt continued:

"To make your identification doubly sure, you will use this precaution:
When you approach Carew you will say, 'I wish to see you on the
Hakotdate business.'  He will respond, 'It is time that business was
settled.  Did the Chief send you?'  Then you will deliver the envelope
to him.  Now, repeat in full my instructions."

Martin complied correctly.  Dr. Ichi silently signified his approval.
Smatt handed the sealed envelope across the desk, and Martin
straightway stowed it in his inside coat-pocket.

"Of course, Blake, you are to mention this matter to no one," was the
lawyer's parting injunction as Martin withdrew from the room.

It seemed to Martin, as he reëntered the outer office, that the room's
air had the indefinable tinge of very recent occupancy.  When he
emerged from the private office, he seemed to be treading upon some
one's heels, so to speak.  He opened the door and looked out into the
hall, but the hall was empty.  Then he dismissed the matter from his
mind as a fancy.



Martin lived at Mrs. Meagher's Select Board for Select People
establishment, far out in the western addition.  He was star boarder,
and as such made free with Mrs. Meagher's little private parlor.  A
fire always burned there on cool evenings, and moreover, he escaped the
ragtime that nightly filled the community room where the piano was, the
interminable arguments anent the European war, and the coy advances of
the manicure lady.

In that little room Martin spent his best hours.  It was there he
retreated to read his favorite fiction, red-blooded and exciting
stories, without exception.  It was there he lived a life apart, a life
in a strange and desirable environment.  For Martin always identified
himself with the sprightly hero of the evening's tale.  He, Martin
Blake, suffered, despaired, triumphed, and galloped off with the
heroine.  And when the story's end was reached, he returned to the drab
reality of his existence with revolt in his soul.

"You worm, you well-fed, white-faced office grub!" he told himself.
"Why don't you do something?  Why don't you get out of the rut?  You
have no responsibilities; you are foot loose!  Then why don't you get
out there, where adventure is, where things happen!"

But then would come the rub.  Where was "out there," and how reached by
a pen-driving clerk?

After supper, Martin carried his magazine into the private parlor and
ensconced himself before the grate fire.  He read a yarn of ships and
mutinies and treasure trove--hot stuff!

But there was a fly in the ointment of Martin's content.  Of late, his
sanctuary was not always inviolate.  On the occasion of the past
Christmas, an absent and fiendish-minded nephew had presented Mrs.
Meagher with a phonograph.  This instrument of torture Mrs. Meagher
installed in the little parlor, and at frequent intervals she sat
herself down before it and indulged in a jamboree of musical noise.

But this night Martin hoped for quiet.  Mrs. Meagher had seemed busily
engaged recounting rheumatic symptoms to Mary, the cook, and Martin
knew from bitter experience that the recital usually occupied an hour
and a half.  Then, there was a good chance the matron would betake her
buxom person bedward without visiting the parlor.

Luck smiled.  Martin planned to read until nine o'clock before leaving
the house to carry out the mission of his employer.  He had no mind to
leave sooner, for a keen, April wind ruled outdoors San Francisco that

He did read until eight o'clock, and then a rustle heralded the
approach of the storm and diverted his attention from the printed page.
Mrs. Meagher sailed into the room, her ample figure clothed in her best
black silk house gown.  Martin's spirits sank to zero--she always
donned this funeral drapery before operating the infernal contraption
in the corner.

Mrs. Meagher dropped into her rocking-chair and groaned tentatively.
Martin read desperately.  He knew as long as he kept his eyes upon his
book she was much too considerate to disturb him, and between
phonographic noise and rheumatic reminiscence, he chose the former as
being escapable.

The good woman hitched her chair over to the machine.  Martin writhed
in spirit.  It was not that he was insensible to harmony, even though
canned.  He was quite receptive while a booming basso rang the bell in
the lighthouse, dingdong.  He was even stoical when the sextette brayed
forth the sorrows of Lucia.  But the while a dread clutched him.

Mrs. Meagher had a favorite record.  She played it regularly, and wept
cheerfully at each performance.  The piece was anathema to Martin.

He watched the old lady out of the corners of his eyes.  She searched
her record case and arose triumphant.  The well-hated, jangling prelude
filled the room.  Martin dropped his book and accomplished a swift and
silent exit.

In the hallway, the manicure lady bobbed her suspiciously yellow head
and smiled provocatively.  Martin fled to the cloak-rack near the door.
Hurriedly he donned top-coat and hat.  Until he finally closed the
front door behind him, a tinny wail poured out of the little parlor and
assailed his ears, a reedy soprano declaiming passionately that she had
raised no son of hers to the profession of arms.

Martin sighed with profound relief as he slammed that door.  He thus
shut behind him such disagreeable facts as favorite ballads and
peroxide blondes.  It was like shunting a burden off his shoulders.

He stood a moment on the stoop, under the area light, drawing on his
gloves and regarding the night.  A night of bright stars, but no moon.
A sharp, windy night, he shivered even beneath his overcoat, but the
air tasted good and fresh.  The darkness charitably covered the
respectable ugliness of the neighborhood.  Under the twinkling
street-lamps the commonplace street assumed a foreign and even romantic

Martin's spirits mounted.  Was he not setting forth on an errand of
mystery?  Why, something might happen to a fellow on such a night!

Something did happen, and at once, though Martin attached no importance
to the event at the time.  Standing there under the area light, Martin
drew forth the envelope that was the occasion of his errand, to assure
himself by evidence of eyesight that it was still in existence.  He
thrust it into the inside pocket of his overcoat, as being a safe and
handy receptacle.  As he did so, a suppressed sneeze made him aware he
was not alone upon the stairway.  Somebody was on the stoop before the
house next door.

Mrs. Meagher's establishment was housed in the half of a three-story
structure.  All of the houses of the block were thus built in pairs.
Only a balustrade separated their front steps.

Now Martin knew the house next door was vacant.  Even in the darkness,
he could discern the real estate agent's sign in the front window.
Hence his surprise in beholding a man pressing the doorbell of the
empty house--for that, he discerned, was what the person who sneezed
was doing.

"For whom are you looking?" called Martin.  "That house is empty.
Don't you see the sign!"

Without a word, the man turned and ran lightly down the steps, and set
off at a smart pace down the street.  Martin noticed the fellow wore a
long gray overcoat and cap, and that he seemed remarkably light upon
his feet.

"Queer," thought Martin.  "Didn't seem drunk.  Maybe a tramp looking
for lodgings.  Didn't look like a tramp, though."

And then, as he set out for the corner and the street-car, the incident
slipped from his mind.

No street-car was in sight, and Martin withdrew to the friendly lee of
the House of Feiglebaum to await its coming.  Here, pressed against the
window, he was sheltered from the wind that swept around the corner.

The front of the House of Feiglebaum was at that hour dark, but a few
yards distant a light blazed over the entrance to the other and more
profitable part of Feiglebaum's business.  Johnny Feiglebaum was part
of an industry indigenous to San Francisco--he kept a combination
grocery store and saloon, the latter a quiet place that was stranger to
mixed drinks and hilarity.  It was sort of a neighborhood rendezvous;
most of the henpecked husbands of the district sought haven there, and
surcease of care with cribbage and pale beer.

Martin debated whether or not to enter and join in a game with one of
this subdued brotherhood; he had two hours, almost, to spend ere he was
due at the Black Cruiser.  He decided against it as being too mild a
pastime for his mood.  He felt fit for adventure, this night.

An extra keen gust of wind swept around the corner and invaded Martin's
refuge.  He shrank back into the dark doorway in search of a warmer
retreat.  He backed against something soft, something alive.  He swung
about with words of apology on his tongue for the prior occupant of the

His startled gaze encountered a broad back.  A man stood there in the
far corner of the doorway, his back to the street, his head seemingly
bowed in his arms.  A man of such huge proportions, that Martin, but
two inches less than six feet, himself, felt like a pigmy in
comparison.  The man's outline was vague and enhanced by the gloom;
Martin, a-tingle with the unexpected collision, had the first thought
it was a preposterous apparition.

There came a rumble from the giant's corner.  It was a noise as
surprising as the other's appearance; it checked Martin's apology.  It
was a rumble of parts; it seemed to be compounded of a prodigious sigh,
a strangled sob, and a sneeze.  It bespoke misery.

"Sick?" asked Martin.

A groan.  Then a series of well-formed sighs.  Then the giant turned
and loomed above Martin, snuffling.

"Ow, swiggle me!" rumbled a deep and husky voice.  "Ow, I'm in a proper
fix, I am.  Ow, where 'as 'e got 'imself to!  Ow, why didn't I die
afore I was born, says I!"

"Why, what is the matter?  Come, come!" exclaimed Martin, aghast at the
stricken voice.

The big man teetered to and fro upon his feet.  He was perhaps wrestled
by sorrow.  But Martin smelled whisky.

"Come, brace up!" he admonished.

"Ow, strike me, I'm in for it, I am!" came the plaintive growl.  "I've
gone an' lost 'im, I 'ave; I've gone an' lost Little Billy.  Can't find
'im, can't find 'im in the bloomin' town.  I've looked in a thousand
bleedin' pubs, I 'ave, and I can't find Little Billy.  Walked a blister
on my foot, I 'ave.  Ow, swiggle me, what a snorkin' day I've 'ad!"

The words tumbled forth heavy laden with alcohol.  Martin could
understand there had been a wet search.  The other groaned and

"Ow, swiggle me stiff!" he ejaculated despairingly.  "What am I goin'
to say to the blessed, bleedin' little mate!"

"Oh, come now, don't be down-hearted," cheered Martin.  The man and his
words fell in with Martin's mood.

Both were unusual--this was better than listening to a phonograph's
banal wail, or conversing with a giggling manicurist!

"Cheer up, there are many more than a thousand saloons in this city,"
assured Martin.  "You have not yet tried them all.  There is one in
this building.  Have you visited it?"

"In this building!  A saloon in this building!" echoed the other.
There was surprise, and much less sorrow in his voice.  "Ow, swiggle me
stiff, lad, let's go 'ave a wet!"

He placed a hand the size of a ham on Martin's shoulder, lurched out of
the doorway and rolled down the street toward the entrance to Johnny
Feiglebaum's.  He had seemed to divine instantly this particular
saloon's location.

Martin accompanied the other willingly; he wished to see more of this
strange giant.  The streetcar he had been awaiting passed by
unregarded.  Martin had the feeling, also, that he would have to accept
the big man's invitation, whether or no--that huge hand gripped his
shoulder like a vise.  Feiglebaum's was empty of its usual custom; only
old Johnny, himself, from his station behind the bar, witnessed with
scandalized eyes their rather tempestuous entrance.

"Set 'em up for two, matey!" roared Martin's companion, or rather,
abductor, as soon as they crossed the threshold.

The little German's answer was a wail of dismay.

"Ach, Himmel, you here again!" he cried at the big man.  "Mein Gott!  I
thought at last you haf gone!  Marty, mein poy, why haf you brought him

Martin couldn't answer this obviously unfair question.  He was
helpless.  The vise squeezed his shoulder cruelly, and only pride
prevented him exclaiming in pain.  Squirming increased the pressure.
His captor half led, half dragged him up to the bar, and there released
him.  Martin grunted with relief and nursed his misused flesh.

"I'll 'ave a pot o' beer, says I!" rumbled the big fellow, slapping his
hand upon the wood with a force that made the glasses jingle in their
racks.  "And my friend 'ere--why, 'e'll 'ave a pot o' beer, too, says
'e," he concluded, interpreting Martin's nod.

Johnny filled the order with alacrity.  He evidently stood in awe of
this strange man.  But he spluttered indignantly as he set the drinks
upon the bar.

"Why haf you brought dot man back here?" he whispered to Martin
reproachfully.  "Ach, he is der deffil's own!  All der evening he haf
been in und oudt, und he drink und drink, und talk und talk and cry
apout his trouble.  He haf lost his Beely, his Leedle Beely, und he
talk like I haf stolen him.  _Schweinhunde_!  Mein Gott, Marty, I would
nod steal him--I would nod haf der _verdumpf_ dog in der blace!"

"A dog!  A dog!  'Oo says 'e's a dog?"  The "_schweinhunde_" had sharp
ears.  He pounded the bar with his fist, and his voice boomed like
distant artillery.  "'E ain't no dog!  Just let me meet the bloke what
calls Little Billy a dog!"  He ignored old Johnny, and glared at Martin
belligerently.  "'E's my mate, is Little Billy, and a proper lad 'e is,
for all 'e ain't no bigger nor a Portagee man-o-war.  A dog!  Swiggle
me stiff, that's a squarehead for you!"

He ended with a snort.  Martin hastened to assure him that without
doubt Little Billy was a most proper lad.

The big man received the amends with dignity.  His warlike attitude
forsook him.  He drooped over his beer and mused darkly.  He seemed
oppressed by the denseness of "squarehead" stupidity; he appeared
desolated by the absence of the beloved Little Billy.  Martin observed
two big tears roll out of the corners of the other's eyes, course down
the sides of his nose and splash into the goblet of beer.  The man
exuded gloom.

Martin seized his first chance to take stock of the fellow.  He
gathered an impression of size and redness.  Why, the man must stand
six feet and a half in his boots!  A son of Anak!  And his head--no
wonder the man had temper.  He was afire.  A red face, a red mustache
that bristled, a thatch of brick-red hair that protruded from beneath a
blue, peaked cap.  His suit was of pilot cloth, and he wore a guernsey.
He was unmistakably a sailor--both words and appearance bespoke the
seaman.  Martin was surprised to encounter such a specimen in this
remote section of the city, miles distant from the waterfront.

The despondent one aroused himself.  His mooning gaze appeared to
encounter the glass of beer for the first time.  He swept the goblet to
his lips and drained it at a gulp.  He seemed cheered and refreshed.

"Fill 'em up again," he rumbled at Johnny.  "And set one afore my
friend, 'ere," he added, with a wide sweep of arm toward Martin.

Martin was interested.  He grasped the opportunity to re-open the

"Too bad you lost him," he ventured diplomatically.  "But it is
probable he will turn up all right, isn't it?"

The big man nodded gloomily.

"Ow, yes, 'e'll turn up all right tomorrow.  Safe and sound, 'e'll
sleep tonight--bleedin' safe and sound.  'E'll be in jail.  That's the
kind o' sport Little Billy is--can't 'ave a nice quiet time like me.
In jail, 'e'll be.  Ow, swiggle me, I'm in a proper fix!"

"Why, things are not so bad," said Martin.  "If you know where he will
be in the morning, you can bail him out."

"In the morning!  Bail 'im out!" exclaimed the other.  "We can't wait
till no morning!  We got to be aboard tonight, we 'ave!  Ow, Lord,
what'll I say to the blessed mate?"

"Oh, I see, you must return to your ship tonight," commented Martin.
He was pleased with himself for having judged the man a sailor from the

The sailor nodded his head lugubriously.  Two more tears tumbled his
nose's length.  Martin felt like laughing.  It was ludicrous to connect
tears and this huge husky with the fierce voice.

The man of the sea resumed his plaint.

"What'll I say to the mate?  What'll the mate say to me?  Aye, that's
it, what'll the blessed, bleedin' little mate say to me?  Swiggle me
stiff, I'll be keelhauled--that's what'll 'appen to me!  And it all
begun so innercent, too!"

Martin murmured condolences.

"Come ashore on account of it being the mate's birthday," confided the
other.  "'Ad to sneak ashore--come this morning.  Wanted to get a
birthday present, we did.  Swiggle me, could anything 'ave begun more

"Oh, a birthday present!  You must like your officers," prompted Martin.

"Like!  Like!  Why, strike me, lad, we love the little mate!  Ain't
anybody on the 'Appy Ship as don't love the mate, from the Old Man

"Happy Ship?" said Martin, struck by the words' connotation.  "Is that
the name of your vessel?"

"What we call 'er," the sailor answered.  "'Er name is _Cohasset_--brig
_Cohasset_.  I'm bosun, and Little Billy, 'e's steward, and a prime
steward 'e is."

The bosun of the brig _Cohasset_ paused and spat stringily.

Martin feared the font of his speech was dried up, and he hurriedly
bade Johnny replenish the glasses.  The bosun acknowledged the office
with a lordly gesture.  Then his grief overwhelmed him, and he bowed
his head over his glass and sniffed audibly.  He cultivated

"I 'ad 'im all right at the Ferry Building," he told Martin tearfully.
"I 'ad Little Billy right enough, there."

He spoke as if he had Little Billy safely tucked under an arm at the
Ferry Building.  He inspected Martin suspiciously, as if Martin might
have the missing steward concealed somewhere about his person.

"We was walking up Market Street," he continued, "sober as judges,
both.  And Billy says a bokay was what we wanted for the little mate's
birthday.  Fine, says I.  A bokay of lilies, says 'e, because lilies
means purity.  No, says I, they got to be roses, roses meanin' beauty.
And so we stops into a place or two to talk it over.  Swiggle me stiff,
could anything 'ave begun more innercent?  Just going to buy a bokay,
that's what!  And now----"

The bosun sighed.  He was crushed by the fell consequences of a
virtuous intent.

"Ow, swiggle me, lad, what'll I say to the bloomin' little mate, as
trusted me so?"  Tears came again to the bosun's eyes.  "The little
mate is goin' to feel terrible hurt--us sneaking ashore and all," he
concluded miserably.  "Ow, swiggle me, fill 'em up again!"

Martin gulped over his glass.  He was astonished.  His cherished and
carefully nurtured conception of the iron-souled men of the sea was
receiving knocks.  Here was a sailor, a man with all the ear-marks of a
pugilistic temperament, who wept because the tender feelings of the
mate might have been bruised.  He vowed he loved the mate, he and his
shipmates!  What a queer mate, thought Martin.

Martin knew all about mates.  An ardent perusal of the literature of
the sea, from Captain Marryatt to Captain Kettle, had familiarized him
with their character.  They were an iron-fisted, brazen-voiced race,
who swanked and swaggered about the decks and knocked the sailormen

The self-reliant and rather disdainful demeanor of the master-mariners
who occasionally visited Smatt's office had confirmed this
estimate--they had once been mates.  Had the boatswain mentioned a fear
of being met on his return to his ship, with a flailing capstan-bar, or
a dish of belaying-pin soup, Martin would have understood.  Mates were
hasty men.  He could have properly sympathized with the boatswain over
such a prospective fate.  He could have given him legal advice as to
his rights.  But this mate of the brig _Cohasset_; this mate who
commanded nosegays on natal occasions; this mate who inspired love, and
brought bibulous tears to the eyes of this toping giant!

But another surprise was coming to Martin, one that touched him
intimately.  The boatswain slouched over the bar, deep descended into
the slough of despond.  Martin wished to renew the interesting
conversation, but hesitated how to begin.  Funny chap, this sailor,
rather soft and chicken-hearted.

The boatswain muttered to himself.  He was evidently delving into the
clouded realm of memory.  Martin caught disconnected words:

"Milly--so innercent.  Swiggle me--brown devils-----"

Suddenly the boatswain straightened up and exploded a tremendous oath.

"It was them blighted brown devils!" he swore.  "What chance 'as a poor
'unchback against them blasted Japs?  They get 'im in 'Onolulu, and,
swiggle me stiff, they get 'im in 'Frisco.  It was that blasted shark,
Ichi!  It was Ichi, says I, as took Little Billy!"

The boatswain thumped the bar.  He was a man who sees a light and likes
It not.

Japanese!  Hunchback!  Ichi!  Martin seemed to see a light, also, a
dim, uncertain light.  Perhaps it was the association of
words--Japanese, hunchback, Ichi.

Martin suddenly recalled the hunchback book agent of the afternoon.  In
his mind's eye, he beheld the quaint figure standing before him in
Smatt's office, while Smatt and Dr. Ichi held conference behind closed
doors.  But it seemed preposterous to identify that friendly, glib
little deformed man as the missing Little Billy, as the bosom friend of
this lachrymose viking.  And what could this rough seaman know of the
exquisite Dr. Ichi?

The boatswain ceased his vituperation of the Nipponese Empire, and the
men thereof, through sheer lack of breath.  Martin grasped the

"Say, what does Little Billy look like?" he queried.  "Did you say he
was a hunchback?  How was he dressed?"

"'E had on his go-ashore togs," said the bosun.  "'E's a proper toff,
is Little Billy, when 'e's dressed up.  Yes, 'e's a 'unchback, but you
don't notice 'is 'ump after you know 'im.  'E's a lot straighter than
some without a 'ump--'e's a white man, is Little Billy.  And 'e's a
proper toff--'e's eddicated.  Swiggle me, 'ow 'e can chew the rag!  And
sing!  Sings like a blessed angel!"

"Did he wear a black suit and a green velvet hat?" asked Martin.

"Yes, 'e did," answered the boatswain excitedly.  "'Ave you seen him?"

"Yes, this afternoon," laughed Martin.  "You need not worry about your
Little Billy.  Neither the police nor the Japs have captured him.  He
is improving his chance to pursue the avocation of book salesman."

Martin recounted his meeting with the purveyor of universal knowledge.
The boatswain listened silently and his red-shot eyes glinted
suspiciously.  It seemed to Martin he was not so drunk as a moment

"But, say," finished Martin, "who is this Ichi you mentioned?  Do you
know Dr. Ichi?"

"Do I know Dr. Ichi?" echoed the boatswain.  "Do I know----"

He glowered at Martin.  The query seemed to inflame his temper.

"Do you know Ichi?  Hey?  Say, do you know Ichi?  That's what I want to
know!"  His manner became threatening.  "Why, swiggle me stiff, you
must be one o' them, yourself!"

Assault seemed imminent.  Martin backed hurriedly away.

"No, no, you are quite mistaken," he assured the boatswain.  "You may
be sure I am not one of them, whoever they are.  I am your friend."

The boatswain subsided growlingly.  He was plainly suspicious--of what,
Martin could not guess.  But it was evident that any mention of the
name of Ichi peppered his temper.

If Martin had been a cautious young man he would have let well enough
alone.  The boatswain seemed a hasty and a heavy-fisted man.  But
Martin's interest was more than piqued.  Here seemed a chance to learn
something about that mysterious Japanese.  This sailor appeared to know
him.  Some light might even be thrown upon his errand to the Black
Cruiser.  The papers in his inside pocket oppressed him with their

"Perhaps Little Billy is down on the waterfront," he remarked casually.
"He mentioned to me that he was going to look up a friend on the
Embarcadero--a fellow named Carew.  Do you know Captain Carew?  At a
place called the Black Cruiser?"

The boatswain received the remark in a most disconcerting manner.  He
stiffened and stared at Martin, mouth agape, for an appreciable
instant.  He seemed breathless.  The semi-paralysis of drunkenness
seemed to flee his face.

"Carew!  Did you say Carew?" he at last exclaimed.  "Strike me, 'e says

It seemed that the boatswain had received some momentous morsel of
information difficult to digest.  Suddenly he smote the bar with his
clenched fist.  "Carew--'Wild Bob' Carew!" he cried.  "And Wild Bob
Carew takes a 'and in this!"

This was progressing!

"Oh, so you know Captain Carew?" prompted Martin.

The boatswain turned.  He regarded Martin strangely.  His face was set
and stern.  He seemed a man for whom the moment of badinage is past and
the moment of action is come.

"You talk of Ichi, and then you talk of Wild Bob Carew!" he said to
Martin.  "Swiggle me stiff, young man, you _are_ one o' them!"

His great hands reached toward Martin.  There was annihilation in his
eye.  His attitude was a sudden and complete declaration of war.

Martin did not await that onslaught.  He started for the door.  Fortune
favored him--uncounted potations, perhaps, had rendered the boatswain a
bit unsteady on his pins, and, as he left the support of the bar rail
and lurched for his victim, he lost his balance.  He sat down on the
floor with a crash that shook the building.

The boatswain swore, Johnny Feiglebaum emitted a wail as three glasses
bounced off their rack, and Martin kept on going.  As he passed through
the door, the boatswain was scrambling agilely to his feet.  Martin was
a young man in a hurry.

He sprinted for, and boarded a passing street-car, just as the
boatswain reached the curb.  He paid his fare, passed inside the car,
and sank thankfully into a seat.  He was aglow with his adventure.
Something to remember, that affair with the weeping boatswain!  But
what was the fellow so sudden about?

Thus did Martin consign the boatswain to the limbo of memory.  He was
inside the street-car, so he did not see the automobile, driven by a
figure in a gray overcoat and cap, that drew up at the curb beside the
boatswain.  Nor did he observe that automobile's consequent strange
behavior in persistently keeping half a block behind the slowly moving
street-car the whole distance to the waterfront.



The clock on the tower of the ferry building showed fifteen minutes
past nine when Martin dropped off the car at the foot of Market Street.
He paused a moment on the corner, enjoying the never-ending bustle
about the city's gateway.  He had plenty of time--Green Street and the
Black Cruiser, was but a quarter hour's leisurely walk distant, and it
was then forty-five minutes till ten o'clock.  He turned and walked
slowly northward along the Embarcadero.

The wide street was swept by a keen wind, and Martin found the night
even rawer than he had anticipated.  But overcoated, he was protected,
and the walk was anything but lonely and uninteresting.  To his lively
mind, this night stroll along the famous East Street was a fitting
complement to his strange encounter with the red boatswain of the brig
_Cohasset_, a fitting prelude to the secret business he was engaged

The very breath of the street was invigorating--the salt tang of the
breeze, the pungent, mingled smell of tar and cordage from the ship
chandleries, the taste of the Orient from the great warehouses, even
the gross smells of the grog-shops, and it set Martin's blood
a-coursing.  It conjured visions of tall ships, wide seas, far ports.

Across the way, at the wharves, great steamers were disgorging.  The
rattle of their winches filled the air.  On his side of the street, the
sidewalk was thronged with stevedores, stokers, sailors, what not.
Each of the innumerable saloons he passed possessed its wassail group,
and rough ditties boomed out through swinging doors.  Great loaded
trucks rumbled by.  It was a world that worked and played both night
and day.

But as Martin continued northward, the street's character changed.  The
kens and cheap eating-places gave way for the most part to the
warehouses--great brick and concrete fortresses that turned a blank
dark face to the night.

Pedestrians became few, mainly straggling seamen bound for their ships.
Across the way, the steamers at the wharves were smaller, and here and
there loomed the spars of a sailing vessel, a delicate tracery upon the
blue-black starlit sky.

Martin speculated upon these last.  The intricate, woofed masses of
wood and cordage captured his fancy.  He wondered if by any chance the
boatswain's ship was over there.  He wondered what the brig _Cohasset_
was like.  He wondered what the "blessed little mate" was like.  He
visioned that surprising person who had such influence over rough
boatswains--a prim little man with mutton chop whiskers, he decided.
Yes, the 'blessed little mate' of the brig _Cohasset_ would be a
little, white-crowned, bewhiskered old gentleman, perhaps somewhat
senile and decrepit.  It was inherent respect for old age that inspired
the boatswain's affection.

So musing, Martin came to a by-street that divided two warehouses.  He
crossed the alleys, but lingered on the far curb.

The alley was dark, but he noticed some distance down it the outline of
an automobile standing with its lights hooded.  He had a passing wonder
at the presence of an apparently deserted machine in such a location,
but it was a subconscious interest.

The next street, he knew, was Green Street.  Those lights that shone on
the next corner must mark his destination, the Black Cruiser saloon.
He pulled out his watch; still five and twenty moments before ten

As he stood there under a dim street light consulting his timepiece,
there came to his ears out of the darkness just ahead, a voice, a rich
and throaty tenor, singing softly.  The sweet sounds pierced his
preoccupation.  He looked, and some thirty or forty paces distant
perceived a gnome-like figure perched atop a fire hydrant, at the edge
of the sidewalk.

The figure was little better than a grotesque shadow in the gloom, but
there was no need of light to give definite shape.  That pure, musical
voice once heard was not easily forgotten.  Martin knew the missing
steward of the brig _Cohasset_ was there before him.

The voice rose and fell in a careless carol, an ancient, lilting, deep
sea chantey.

  A roving, a roving,
  Since roving's been my ru-u-in,
  I'll go no more a roving,
  With Thee, Fair Maid.

Martin stood entranced.  The songster adventured on with the "Amsterdam
Maid," another stanza and chorus.  The soft bell-like tones, the salty
words, the air, like all the chanteys, both sad and reckless, caressed
Martin's ears like a siren charm.  The boatswain's words, "'E sings
like a blessed angel," crossed his mind.  Rather, a blessed merman!  To
Martin, greedy for the oceans and beyond, the ditty seemed the very
whisper of bright and beckoning distance--a whisper of tropic seas, of
spice-scented nights, of blue isles.  It heaped fuel on his sea-lust.
His heels itched.

The song ended and was followed by a chuckle, a care-free clucking of
subdued mirth.  The singer was evidently in a jovial mood.  A few
softly spoken, laughter-tinged words reached Martin.

"The audience is requested to kindly move forward.  No extra charge for
box seats.  Front row reserved for bald heads.  Next show starts right
away.  Especially staged for young gentlemen of the law."

Martin came to himself with a start.  The words were addressed to him.
He was the sole audience in sight.  And the facetious hunchback
evidently recognized him, remembered him and the fact of his employment
in a law office.  Martin was standing beneath the dim glow of a street
lamp, but Little Billy must have very sharp eyes to recognize features
in that half-light.

Martin moved forward promptly.  First the weeping boatswain, now the
happy hunchback.  It was a night of odd meetings!  But Little Billy
seemed not so downcast as the bosun.

"Ah, ha, my amiable acquaintance of the afternoon walks abroad!"
chuckled the voice, as Martin came to a halt beside the hydrant.  "Is
it thus he cools a brow fevered of too much Trent and Blackstone?"

"Well, it is a good night for such a cooling," was Martin's
good-natured retort.

"True," admitted the other.  "And other things than the law fever the
head--heavy ordnance of cruisers of accursed blackness, the fatal rum
and gum, the devious workings of the Oriental mind, the slithering
about of fat and greasy varlets.  Yes, many things fever the brow, and
'tis a good night for a cooling.  As witness!"

Martin stared at the other.  No reek of alcohol met his nostrils, as
with the boatswain, but, none the less Little Billy's cryptic jargon
confirmed his suspicions.  Also drunk, he reflected.  The revered and
gentle old mate of the brig _Cohasset_ would have cause for grief when
his two prodigals came roistering home.

Martin could not make out Little Billy's features very distinctly; the
hydrant was beyond the street lamp's circle.  But the hunchback's body
was plain enough--the queer body squatted upon the hydrant, legs
dangling, the ridiculous velvet hat rakishly aslant the large head.
The hunchback's eyes were bright and alive.

"I can well believe your mind is care-ridden," bandied Martin, falling
in with the other's mood.  "It must be a wearisome and thankless task
to scatter universal knowledge amidst the brainless.  Have you still
got your book?  That thing you tried to sell to me?"

"Alas, I must confess I have it not," was the blithe response.  "I
ditched it, sir.  It oppressed me to bear about such a store of wisdom.
The marvel of the ages, the compendium of universal knowledge, reposes
in the dust-bin.  Mayhap some aspiring dust-man, in whose mind smolders
untaught genius, will chance upon it.  It may prepare some dim soul for
future brilliancy--the arts, the crafts, the sciences, are all
contained in that wonderful volume.  Who knows, out of that black
dust-bin may rise a radiant glow of light.  The janitor, the collector
of garbage, the industrious people who rake over the dumps--there are
many chances of the right hands grasping that printed jewel.

  Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
  The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear.

"'Tis a pleasant thought, my legal friend.  Ah, I am happy in
contemplation.  I may not have lived in vain."

Martin grinned.

"You certainly are an optimist," he said.  "But why did you cast such a
wonderful gem aside?"

"Alas, the grossness of the commercial classes, the brutality of the
tired business man!  We Americans are a rude folk my friend; the
courtesies are absent from our manners.  Now, I am a young man with
tender feelings, both mental and--er, physical.  And these trousers I
wear have already rendered long and faithful service; they have arrived
at the stage where they require, let us say, humoring.  The oft
repeated impact of a number ten boot upon such delicate fabric could
have naught but dire results.  I discarded the book, sir, and resigned
my membership in the peripatetic brotherhood, to avert a catastrophe.
Both cloth and nerves were frayed.  I am a cheerful youth, but
sensitive, and I require considerate treatment to be happy.  Ah, you
are laughing!  Never mind, I like people who laugh--like great Caesar,
I would have them about me."

"Pardon me," gulped Martin.  "I was just thinking how aptly the bosun
described you.  ''Ow 'e can chew the rag!' he said.  And you can."

"The bosun!" exclaimed the other.  "Did I understand you to say 'the
bosun'?  Can it be you have met my heart's chum, my dear bosun?"

"You bet I did!" replied Martin emphatically.  "And I was lucky to end
the encounter with a whole skin.  Hasty man, your dear bosun!"

"'Tis true," admitted Little Billy.  "He requires coddling, does my
bosun.  Red hair always does.  My bosun has a tender heart, and he is a
creature of impulse.  Beneath that rough exterior surges the artistic
temperament.  But tell me, was the bosun, by any chance, inquiring for
one Little Billy?"

"He was," said Martin.  "Not only inquiring for Little Billy, but
weeping for him, fighting for him--and for the larcerated feelings of
the dear mate of the brig _Cohasset_.  Of course, I know you are Little

"Your perspicacity is remarkable," said Little Billy.  "I am
discovered.  But your news is disturbing.  Tears and temper are
pregnant signs with my redheaded friend.  You did not, by any chance,
meet him in the city Bastile?"

Martin sketched for the other the scene at Johnny Feiglebaum's.

"But the bosun had the same misgivings of the police on your account,"
he finished.

"He stated positively you would sleep this night in jail.  He gave you
a turbulent character."

"Base libel," asserted Little Billy.  "Bosun has imagination, but it
functions within narrow limits.  He is solely a son of experience.  His
idea of a pleasant and well spent evening ashore, is to introduce into
the physical system an indefinite amount of variously tinted alcohol,
and then to try a brave whirl of fisticuffs with the scorned minions of
the law.  To his understanding there is no other way of spending a
holiday.  Hence his solicitude for Little Billy.  Of course, thinks he,
Little Billy is off alone a-roistering.  Why else should he have given
his bosun the slip?"

"Did you give him the slip?" said Martin.  "He thinks he mislaid
you--that is a point in his distress.  Did you run away from him to
become a book agent?"

"You do not understand," stated the hunchback with dignity.  "It was
but a manifestation of the wanderlust, at once the curse and the
blessing of my misshapen existence.  Behold in me, sir, the rover, the
argonaut, the adventurer!"

He straightened his slouched figure upon its slippery seat and
attempted to strike an oratorical posture.  He lost his balance and
lurched sidewise towards Martin.  He grasped Martin's overcoat.

Martin good-naturedly put an arm around the other to steady him.
Little Billy, he guessed, was rendered dizzy by that rum and gum he had
darkly hinted at.  The hunchback teetered and clung to Martin's
overcoat.  Not for an instant did his tongue cease wagging.

"I am an explorer of strange lands, strange men, strange pursuits," he
told Martin.  "Behold in me a rollicking blade of the sea; one who has
matched wits with all races, all colors, and sometimes, alas, come off
second best; one who has followed many occupations.  A sailor--yes.  A
book agent--yes.  Also, sir, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.  A
wooz, a wizard, a king of legerdemain.  Student, actor--But why

He had regained his balance upon his precarious seat by this time, and
he finished with a fine, sweeping gesture:

"In this crippled carcass doth abide a vagabond spirit whose wanderlust
has no purely geographical basis.  I wander the wide world over, yes!
Also, I wander in and out of men's lives, in and out of men's affairs.
To wander--'tis my excuse for living.  A fascinating obsession, sir!"

Martin was charmed.  Never had he encountered such a flow of words,
such musical eloquence.  What a lawyer this chap would make!  But
Martin was also oppressed by his consciousness of the flight of time.
He wanted to linger with his quaint companion; but the time!

He reached for his watch and noted that Little Billy's clutch had
opened his overcoat.  He struck a match and discovered it was four
minutes to ten--four minutes to reach the next corner.  He could make
it in two, still it was time he was moving.

"I must leave you," he said to Little Billy.  "I've an errand to that
saloon on the corner.  Wait for me; I'll be back this way in a few
moments, and we'll go get a bite together."

"Would that I could," said Little Billy.  "But I, too, must depart.  My
ship awaits."

"Well, then, so long," said Martin.  "You know where I work, Little
Billy, look me up sometime.  Be glad to see you.  I won't forget this

"Good-by.  No, you'll not forget this meeting," responded the
hunchback.  He slipped down from his perch and shook hands.  "No," he
repeated, "you'll remember me all right."

Martin strode for the corner, and the Black Cruiser.  Little Billy
ambled across the street towards the dark wharves, and as he went he
whistled blithely.

The street was empty.  Martin passed but one living being during the
rest of his journey.  This was a figure in a gray greatcoat and cap,
who lounged against a telegraph pole across the street from Martin's
destination.  The gray figure stared steadily towards the wharves;
Martin passed it by almost without notice.



Martin was disappointed.  The Black Cruiser--delectable name, of which
he had expected much--was, it appeared, housed in a commonplace and
very ugly two-story wooden building, a building with many dark and
shuttered windows on the upper floor.

From where he stood upon the corner, Martin could see that the building
was of considerable depth, and that the saloon appeared to occupy only
the front downstairs portion.  The upstairs, with its many shuttered
windows, had the aspect of a deserted rooming-house.  Just before him,
over the closed door to the saloon, was the inscription Smatt had
spoken of, in plain black letters, "Black Cruiser Saloon, Diego
Spulvedo, Prop."  It was a sordid and unprepossessing exterior; Martin
felt that the Black Cruiser would prove the anti-climax to his
evening's adventures.

The second-hand of his watch climbed toward the hour.  He knew old
Smatt's passion for exact punctuality; not a second before the
appointed time must he enter the place.  The hand touched the required
point.  Martin felt of the paper in his pocket and opened the door.

He stepped into a low-ceilinged bare and dingy room.  The place reeked
of stale drink.  A battered bar filled one side, and before it stood
five men in a row, attended upon by a heavily paunched and aproned
fellow.  Martin accosted this last, as he approached the bar.

"Mr. Spulvedo?" asked Martin.  "I wish to see Mr. Spulvedo."

The aproned man regarded him with a stare from heavy lidded and nearly
closed eyes.  He had a swarthy, greasy, fat face, this officer of the
Black Cruiser, and moist, thick lips.  Martin recalled Little Billy's
reminiscence concerning the "slithering about of fat and greasy
varlets."  Was this the varlet?  The name fitted.

"Spulvedo!" repeated Martin.  "Are you Mr. Spulvedo?"

"Yais," drawled the man.

Martin dropped his voice to a whisper.

"I would like to speak with you alone," he commenced.

He shot a glance out of the corners of his eyes toward the five
patrons.  Smatt had said to take care not to be overheard.  He caught
his breath with surprise.  The glance revealed five stolid,
yellow-brown faces turned toward him, five pairs of black, oblique-set
eyes regarding him intently.  Five Japanese!  They were interested in
him, there was the thrill.  Martin sensed some connection between
himself and the five.  That envelope in his inner pocket!

"You weesh to speak weeth me, yais?"

The drawling voice compelled his attention.

"Yes--alone," said Martin.

Spulvedo nodded.  He turned and waddled fatly around the farther end of
the bar, and Martin rejoined him at the other end of the room.

"You are the messenger we expect, yais?" purred Spulvedo.

"I wish to see Captain Carew," stated Martin.  "I was told to see you
and ask for him; told you would conduct me to him.  Is he here?"

"Yais, you see heem," answered Spulvedo.

He turned to a door in the wall behind him and unlocked it.  He opened
it a crack and held whispered parley with some one within.  Then he
turned to Martin.

"Thees way--come!" he bade.

Martin brushed through the door, opened just wide enough to admit his
body.  He expected the greasy saloonkeeper to follow, but instead that
worthy slammed the door upon him and turned the lock.  Martin was left
alone in pitch darkness.

He stood still, nonplused by that cavalier desertion and disturbed by
the darkness.  He stretched out both arms and touched two walls.  He
was in a hallway.  Alone?  The air about him seemed to be filled with
rustlings.  He fancied he heard breathing.  He took a tentative step
forward, arm outstretched.  A cold, clammy hand grasped his wrist and
drew from him a startled yelp.

"Have no afraid," soothed a soft voice.  "I make show he way to he

There was, it seemed, more than one fashion in spoken English at the
Sign of the Black Cruiser; this fellow did not talk like Spulvedo.
Martin's eyes were becoming accustomed to the darkness, and he made out
the vague outlines of a short figure before him.  The figure moved, and
the clutch on his wrist urged him to follow.

They moved forward some twenty paces, passed through a door, and
encountered a stairway leading upstairs at right angles to the passage
they had just traversed.  It was not so dark here; a gas light burned
somewhere in the hall upstairs, and a moiety of its glow found its way

His conductor released his wrist, and commenced to ascend the stairs.
Martin, as he started to follow, noticed there was a second door at the
foot of the stairs.  He guessed it let upon the street.

They gained the upstairs landing and paused.  Martin saw before him a
long hall with at least a dozen doors opening upon it.  A gas light
burned at the farther end.  As he had suspected from without, this
place was, or had been, a cheap lodging-house.  Nothing save that light
seemed to speak of occupancy now.

Martin took his first good look at his guide.  He was, as he had noted
on the stairs, a Japanese; a chunky little man with an apologetic
manner, and a muscular and bow-legged figure.  If he had been a white
man, Martin would have listed him a sailor.

The Japanese smiled.  His teeth flashed startlingly white in his dark

"He, hon'ble, catch it Captain down there," he stated.

He waved a hand toward the gas light at the other end of the hall.
Then he opened the door of the room nearest to hand.

"He, hon'ble, stop by here," he invited.  "I go make prepare."

Martin shrugged his shoulders.  There seemed to be many preliminaries
to an audience with this Captain Carew.  Through the door the Jap held
open he saw the outlines of a bed, and a rag of carpet.  When he
stepped through the door, the musty, sour air of the room smote his
nostrils like a blow.

The Japanese closed the door, and the retreating echo of his footsteps
sounded from the hall.  Martin had not expected to be thus shut in
darkness, but after all it was a small matter.  He felt his way to the
bed and sat down on its edge.

After a moment he struck a match.  The flare revealed, as he expected,
the meanly appointed bedroom of a tenth rate hostelry.  The single
window was shuttered.

He composed himself to patience.  This business was getting on his
nerves.  This visit to the Black Cruiser was not proving the evening's
anti-climax, as he had feared, but he was not enjoying himself.  The
loose face of the Cruiser's commander, the mysterious Japanese, the
disturbing secrecy, the foul air--he would be glad when his errand was
completed, and he was once again outdoors in the clean, fresh air.

There was an alien taint in that poisonous room.  With the Japanese in
mind he placed it--it was that indefinable odor the man of the Orient
leaves about his abiding place, the smell one gets during a walk
through Chinatown.  Was this Spulvedo conducting this rookery as a
Japanese lodging-house?

A strange place for a sea-captain to lodge.  This Carew--this "Wild
Bob" Carew, as the boatswain had termed him--must be a man very
indifferent to his surroundings, or else mightily anxious to remain
under cover.  The captains Martin had met were particular men; one
would not find them in such a noisome hole.  This Carew must be some
rough renegade.  Perhaps he was not even white; perhaps he was a
half-caste.  That would explain his choice of lodgings.  One would
think from all the secret mummery with which he surrounded himself that
he was the Mikado, himself.  He certainly was not very popular with the

Thus far had Martin got with his musings, when his attention was
attracted by noises that suddenly disturbed the unearthly quiet of the
house.  They reached him quite plainly through the thin walls.

A door slammed, below stairs.  He heard sounds of a scuffle.  The
sounds drew nearer--grunts, exclamations, footsteps.  They were coming
up the stairs.  In the hall outside a door was noisily opened.  Some
one ran past his door, and sentences were, spoken in a harsh, clicking,
alien tongue.

Martin sat tensely on the edge of the bed.  What was about, there in
the hall?  The scuffling had reached the head of the stairs; now it was
opposite his door.  Several pairs of feet were making that noise.
Martin heard a voice exclaim chokingly, and in English----

"Let go--let go of me!"

It was a strange voice, a rich and thrilling voice, and it carried an
appeal.  A man's voice?

Martin felt his way to the door.  This affair without was none of his
business, but he must see what was being done to the owner of that
voice.  He must confirm or dispel that vague suspicion.

He turned the knob and pulled, and the door came a few inches.  There
was an exclamation from some one who stood in front of the door.  An
arm shot through the opening, a clenched hand impacted against the pit
of his stomach, and Martin went reeling backward.  The door slammed
shut and the lock clicked.

Martin fetched up against the bed and sat down heavily, experiencing
that sharp agony that follows upon a plexus punch.  In that brief
instant he had held the door ajar, however, he had witnessed a sight
that caused him to ignore the pain.  He had seen what was transpiring
in the hall.  He had seen the group of little yellow men clustered
about and urging along a single figure that slightly overtopped them; a
figure clad in a gray overcoat.

At the very second Martin had looked, a gray cap had fallen from the
head in the scuffle, and a wonderful mass of dark hair had tumbled down
about the gray-clad shoulders.  An excited, protesting face had turned
toward him.  It was a woman those chunky aliens were urging along the
hallway, a woman clad in a man's gray overcoat.  A white woman--a young
and beautiful woman!

Martin crouched on the bed's edge and panted to recover his breath.
The scuffling without grew faint, a door slammed, and the house was
again quiet.

Martin's mind was awhirl, but uppermost in the confusing chaos was that
startling picture, photographic in its clearness, of the squat
outlanders surrounding the protesting figure.  A woman--a white
woman--in the hands of these yellow men!

Surely he had seen aright.  It was an ill light in the hall, but he had
looked from a dense darkness, and had seen clearly.  And had he not
heard her voice?  And seen the feminine tresses tumble about the
gray-clad shoulders as the cap came off?  There was some faint stirring
of memory in connection with the thought of that gray, mannish apparel,
but Martin was too excited to notice it.  He was possessed by the
event.  He had caught a glimpse of the angry, vivid face.  Angry, that
was it--not fear, but anger, in her bearing.  They had not wanted him
to observe the incident, the outrage.  They had offered him violence.
They had slammed and locked the door.  He was prisoner.

By this time, Martin, a thoroughly aroused young man, was again at the
door.  He, Martin Blake, would not submit to maltreatment and
imprisonment!  He would find out what this yellow crew was doing with
that girl.

In the back of his excited mind danced grim shadows of the tales every
San Franciscan knows; stories of white slaves, of white women being
seen entering Oriental dens, and being lost forever to the world that
knew them; of horrible relics of womanhood being discovered years after
in some underground cave of Chinatown.  Sickening thoughts!

Martin yanked at the door and pounded upon the panel.  His blows echoed
without, but brought no other response.  He lifted his foot and drove
his boot against the door.  It shivered and splintered.

Before he could kick a second time, there came a cry from the hall, a
hurried footfall, and the door was unlocked.  Martin jerked it open.
Confronting him was the Japanese who had been his guide, who had gone
to "make prepare" Captain Carew.

"You come now," announced the little man, bowing courteously.

"What does all this mean?" demanded Martin angrily.  "Who struck me
through the door?  How dare you lock me in?  Who----"

"He Captain speak you come," said the other, smiling blandly.  He shed
Martin's rain of words as if he were some yellow oilskin.  "I make him
way--hon'ble fellow my show."

"What is going on in this house?" demanded Martin.  "Who was that white
woman?  What was that gang doing with her?"

The other backed away before Martin's excited questioning.  "No
understand," he said.  "No woman--no gang.  No savvy."

"No savvy--big lie!" cried Martin, and he pounced down upon the gray
cap which was lying on the hallway floor.  He held it up for the
other's inspection.  "You savvy this?" he demanded.

The Jap shook his head.  His smile was gone, and there was a hostile
gleam in his eyes.

"That--no understand," he said crisply.  "You come for he Captain--you
catch business he Captain!"

Martin saw he could get nothing from this fellow.  He was being told
very plainly to mind his own business.  Very well, this Captain Carew
was perhaps a white man.

Without further words, Martin followed the Japanese.  They went the
length of the hall and paused before the last door, the one before
which the light burned.  The guide rapped.  A deep voice rumbled orders
within, chairs scraped, a door slammed, and the door before which they
stood was opened.



Martin lurched forward past the man who opened the door into a room
that was brightly lighted by gas and kerosene lamps.  It was a room
bare of furniture save for a common kitchen table, littered with charts
and papers, and several kitchen chairs.

It was a large room, much larger than the one he had just quitted, the
full width of the house, and, it seemed, part of a suite, for two
doors, besides the one he entered through, let upon it, from the rear
wall.  But these details only impressed themselves upon Martin's mind
later, and gradually.  At the instant of his tempestuous entrance, he
was entirely engrossed with his obsession, and he had eyes only for the
dominant figure that stood behind the paper-littered table in the
center of the room.  To this man Martin addressed himself without

"That woman--didn't you hear?" he cried.  "These Japs have a woman
prisoner in this house--a white woman!  See!  This is her cap.  I

"Are you the messenger who was to come to me tonight?" interrupted the
man addressed.  He spoke in a commanding and vibrant bass voice.

It was suddenly borne in upon Martin's consciousness that he was in the
presence of a personality.  They were immobile yellow gargoyles, those
two Japs who stood against the farther wall, they did not count.  But
this man who stood across the table from him--the air of the room was
electric with his presence.  A commanding and forceful personality, but
a hostile personality, there was a chill in that interruption.  But the
momentum of his feelings carried Martin on.

"In the hall--shoving her along--she was struggling!  A white girl!
Those yellow----"

"What is your business with me?"  The heavy voice beat down Martin's
words.  It was as if he had not spoken.  "I am Captain Carew.  You have
a message for me?"

Martin checked his splutter of words.  The other's sentences were like
a dash of cold water; they cleared his mind.  There was menace in that
heavy voice, in the other's attitude, in the frosty gleam of his eyes.
That veiled threat sobered Martin.  He stood still and played his eyes
upon the other in appraisal.

And he was a picture to fill the eye, this man who bore himself so
disdainfully, this Captain Wild Bob Carew.  Went glimmering the
graceless, blasphemous sea-renegade of Martin's fancy.  Martin caught
his breath with unforced admiration as he measured the other's form and

Captain Carew was big and blond, as Smatt had predicted.  He was also
quite the handsomest man Martin had ever seen.  He stood at least six
feet, and was leanly and finely built.  He was, perhaps, thirty-five
years old, but the springiness of youth was still in his carriage.

Martin gained from him the impression of great physical strength.  The
face was finely chiseled, virile, aristocratic, a face to compel men's
admiration, to turn women's heads.  But Martin divined the flaw in that
fine mask.  The full, curved lips were shaded by a short, blond
mustache, but that hirsute covering did not conceal the cruel quirk at
the lips' corners.  The face was ruddy, even in that light, and
unlined.  The eyes, probably blue in daylight, were black and
glittering; and they bore Martin's scrutiny without a flicker.  But
after a moment the cruel lips curled scornfully.

"Well, my good fellow, have you quite finished with your inspection?"
said Carew.  "I hope you have discovered nothing about my appearance
that displeases you."

The cavalier tone brought Martin to himself with a start.  He had been
taken aback by the appearance of Captain Carew, the man so different
from his preconceived picture.  This was no rough bully of the seas;
Carew's bearing and dandified apparel bespoke gentility.  Martin had
just observed one of the captain's hands, a slender, white,
aristocratic hand, small for the man's size.  On the back of the hand
was a star, tattooed in red.

The tattooing recalled Smatt and Smatt's words; recalled to Martin his
reason for being in that room; banished for the moment his
knight-errant mood.  He thrust his hand into his inside overcoat pocket
and felt of the envelope.  Smatt's formula came to his lips.

"I wish to see you on the Hakodate business," he said.

"It is time that business was settled.  Did the Chief send you?" Carew
responded promptly.

"That is correct," said Martin.

He half withdrew the envelope from his pocket and then hesitated.  This
Carew was a severe and superior person.  The packet delivered, Martin
foresaw instant dismissal.  And that poor girl!  Yet, Carew was a white

"But, Captain Carew, you could not have understood me aright!" he
appealed.  "I tell you, these Japanese have a young white woman----"

"Enough!" barked Carew.  His tone made Martin jump.  "Young man, you
were sent here to deliver certain papers to me.  Do so."

Silently, Martin handed over the envelope.  He was baffled.  He was

"Now--get out!" commanded Carew, waving him toward the hall.

Martin turned toward the exit.  Hot, edged words were on his tongue's
tip, and he could not trust himself to further urge this cold-blooded
wretch.  He took a step toward the door and then stopped short, staring
into the corner of the room.  He saw a man's gray overcoat lying on the
floor in the corner.

He wheeled upon Carew again and found the latter's eyes upon him in a
threatening glare.  "You--you--that coat!" stammered Martin.

"Enough!" exclaimed Carew.  "You have finished your business with me,
young man.  You will find your guide in the hall; he will conduct you
to the street.  And a word of advice, my good fellow: If you value your
skin and your employment, you will promptly forget everything and
anything you may have seen in this house!"

Martin choked upon his rage.  Within him surged a hot hatred of this
insolent sailor; this captain of yellow bravos; this abductor of girls;
this man who dared not face the daylight.  He was a worm beneath the
Captain's feet.  He was--well, the worm could turn.

He moved toward the door.  Yes, he would go, and quickly.

"If you value your skin and your employment!"  So that was it--a
threat!  He would show this high-handed captain that Martin Blake would
risk his skin as readily as the next man; and as for his employment--a
fig for Smatt, and Dr. Ichi, and all their ilk!  They were crooks; this
Carew was a crook.  They held that girl against her will.  It was all a
piece of some dirty, crooked work.  Well, the police....

"God, what treachery is this!"

The booming sentence arrested Martin at the door.  He lifted his hand
from the knob and turned to the voice.  Carew, his face convulsed with
passion, was regarding him.

"What does this mean?" cried Carew.  He shook a handful of papers at
Martin.  "Come back here, you!  Explain this beastly trick!"

Martin went back.  He noticed, as he drew close to the other, that the
envelope he had given the captain lay empty and torn on the table.

"Well, what is it?  What trick?" he demanded shortly.

"What trick!" mimicked Carew.  "Look here.  Is this what you were to
deliver to me?"

He thrust the sheaf of papers beneath Martin's nose.  They were sheets
of blank, white paper, and they had been creased by folding.

"This is what that precious envelope contained," continued Carew.
"Tell me, what ---- foolery is this?  Where is that code translation?
Where are my instructions?  Where are my clearance papers?  Hey--you
staring fool!"

"Stop that!" flared Martin.  "You moderate your tone when you speak to
me!  If you have any complaint to make about the contents of that
envelope, make them to Josiah Smatt, and that Dr. Ichi.  I know nothing
about the contents.  The envelope was given to me sealed, and I
delivered it to you sealed."

"It has been tampered with," declared Carew.

"It has not," asserted Martin.  "I have had it in my pocket, on my
person, since Smatt gave it to me.  I delivered it to you with the
contents intact.  If you found those blank sheets within, they were
placed there before I received the envelope."

Carew favored Martin with a steely and searching stare; and Martin,
ablaze with resentment, stared boldly back.  Martin's bearing, and his
positive statements, evidently impressed the captain.

"You had better take the matter up with the men who sent me here," said
Martin.  "I have finished with my part of the affair.  I wish to go."

"You are jolly well right I'll take the matter up with the men who sent
you here!" exclaimed Carew.  "And I'll take the matter up at once.
Meanwhile, you will remain here.  I'll not lose track of you until I
get to the bottom of this affair."

"Do you mean you intend to detain me here?  Whether I will or no?"
demanded the thoroughly angered Martin.

"I do," stated Carew.

He barked an order in a foreign tongue.  The two gargoyles at the other
end of the room sprang to life and started swiftly toward Martin.

Martin wheeled about and darted for the door to the hallway.  He
reached it, and was jerking it open, when the two Japs flung themselves
upon him.  He lifted one from his feet with a well-placed swing.  The
other flung his arms about Martin's neck and clung there.

Martin staggered into the hall, wrestling with that leech-like hug.  He
tore free from the fellow; and as he did he caught a glimpse of Captain
Carew through the open door.  The man had not moved from his station
behind the table.

Then a mountain seemed to drop upon Martin's back.  He was crushed face
downward upon the floor, enveloped and smothered by a vast and
sour-smelling bulk.

He struggled desperately and succeeded in partly rolling over on his
back.  He flailed his arm twice, and felt his fist strike against soft
flesh.  He saw hanging over him the unwholesome face of the
saloonkeeper, Spulvedo.

Then a heavy blow smote his jaw-bone, and he went a-dancing through a
world of bright, shooting stars, into darkness.



The results of a forceful tap on the human jaw are various.  One man
lies inert, dead of body, blank of mind; a second writhes about and
babbles; a third retains a modicum of control over locomotion, but the
mind journeys afar into a phantasmagoric world.

Martin was the third man during this, his first, reaction to a knockout
blow.  He was not completely unconscious, but that terrific jolt seemed
to divorce body and mind.  So far as further resistance was concerned,
he was helpless.  He swam about in an opaque mist.  There, afar off, on
the floor, was stretched another Martin Blake, a shadow of Martin
Blake; and he saw monstrous things surrounding this adumbration of
himself, headless bodies, and bodiless heads, and detached arms and

He saw these parts of men haul the unreal Martin Blake to his feet and
bundle him through the door, back into the big, lighted room.  He saw
this other self, body sagging, head hanging, stand again before the
paper-littered table and sway to and fro upon tottering legs.  He
heard, from a great distance, the deep rumble of Captain Carew's
voice--but all he could see of Carew was a foot and a section of leg.
He saw a wide expanse of bare floor, and the floor was moving.

He hung suspended before a door.  Came Carew's voice--

"Not there--fools--next room."

More moving floor.  Another door.  The door receded and showed a black
hole.  Again the deep voice--

"Good place--safe--just quill-pusher--dump."

A headlong flight through darkness, falling, falling, into the
bottomless pit.  A crash.  And Martin's mind and Martin's body became
one again as he struck the floor.

He was lying face downward upon a bare floor.  He sat up.  His head was
ringing, and he could feel that his cheek was swelling.  His addled
wits slowly settled themselves.  He moved his head about and took
stock, as well as he could, of his new surroundings.

He retained a vague memory of his passage through the big room, and of
the two doors.  So, he knew the place he had been so unceremoniously
dumped into was one of the rooms that opened upon Carew's headquarters.
The only light that entered the place crept under the door from the
room without.  He knew, without experiment, the door was locked upon

The room felt bare.  He struck one of his few remaining matches.  The
room was bare, not a stick of furniture in it.  The single window was
closed, and he supposed it was shuttered as well, for he could not see
through it.  But he would make sure.  He clambered to his feet, a bit
dizzy yet but well able to control his movements.  He moved softly
toward the window, feeling his way.

In a second his hand touched the window-ledge.  He felt along the sash
and shoved upward.  To his surprise, the window lifted easily.  But the
hand he shoved without met, as he expected it would, a heavy wooden
shutter; and his investigating fingers disclosed, moreover, a padlock,
that, by means of a staple sunk in the sill, locked the shutter fast.
No hope of getting away through the window.

The certainty that he was imprisoned in this sealed box of a room was
not soothing to Martin's temper.  He was not frightened--he was angry.
The haughty Carew had aroused in him resentment; now, he had been
slugged semi-conscious and locked in this room.  His anger reached the
proportions of a rage, a hot, furious rage.

He left the window and crossed to the door.  He did not try this time
to soften his footfalls--he did not care who heard him.

He tried the door.  Locked.  He shook it, and rattled it.  No response,
but his straining ears caught the sound of light footfalls without.

He pounded upon the door, shouted threats, demands, challenges.  He was
in the mood to flog the whole vile brood of this Pension Spulvedo.

He resorted to the method that had brought him freedom once before that
night--he lifted his foot and drove his boot against the door.  And, as
before, the response was immediate.

A peremptory voice was raised in the other room.

"Be quiet, you, een there!  Eef you be not quiet, I feex you!"

A well-remembered voice!  That greasy villain of a saloonkeeper was out
there!  It was Spulvedo who had smote him on the jaw.  Martin redoubled
his blows on the door.

"Stop!  _Santa Maria_, eef you not stop, I shoot!"

Martin kicked away.  The door, of flimsy enough construction, seemed on
point of giving way.  Then, there happened in such rapid sequence as to
seem simultaneous, several things.

There was an ear-splitting crash, a splintering of wood, a hot streak
passing so close to Martin's head it scorched, a tinkle of broken glass
from the window behind him, a smell of burnt gunpowder.

Martin stood on one leg, like a stork, his free foot suspended for the
kick he did not deliver.  There was a queer sinking feeling in that
inward organ that received his food.  He stared at a little hole in the
door panel, just above his head--a little bullet-hole that glowed
yellow with the light from the other room.  The man had shot through
the door at him!

"Eef you not stop the keek, I shoot lower!" came the voice.

Martin sat down quickly upon the floor.  Then, on second thought, he
crawled into the nearest corner and crouched against the wall.

To be shot at, to have Death's hot breath scorch one's very hair, might
very well daunt a person of more tumultuous antecedents than Martin
Blake.  To a young man whose chief occupation in life has been the
warming of an office chair, such an experience is apt to prove
unnerving.  It spoke well of the stuff Martin was made of that he was
not overly frightened.  But Martin was certainly a bit shaken.

He suddenly discovered there was a vast difference between braving
death in spirit in the pages of a book, and braving death in person in
a locked upstairs room of a dubious and isolated boozing den.  It was
all very well for, say, Roger De Puyster, hero of that swanking tale
"Death before Dishonor" to disregard such trifles as revolver shots and
threats of death.  But as for Martin Blake, law clerk, well, he
squatted low and hugged close in his corner.  No panic gripped him, but
the instinct of self-preservation is a primal instinct.  Martin's
condition of mind, for the moment, was that bromidic state, "better
imagined than described."

Chiefly, he was astonished.  He, Martin Blake, had at last encountered
a real adventure!  He, the obscure law clerk and messenger, whose
existence was a drab routine, whose every act must favor dull
convention, had suddenly tumbled into the meshes of a dark intrigue,
undoubtedly unlawful, where men's violent passions were given free rein.

In the short space of a half-hour, he had witnessed an abduction, been
assaulted, imprisoned, murderously shot at!  These things had happened
to him, to Mrs. Meagher's star boarder, to Martin Blake, the despised
quill-pusher!  There was in Martin's mood, as he crouched there in the
corner, that transcended his anger, his wonder, his fear, something
that was close akin to exhilaration.

It was very still.  His thumping heart seemed to him to be the only
sound that reached his straining ears.

What was going on out there in the big room?  He had not heard Carew's
voice.  Was the captain still there?  Was Spulvedo crouching without
the door, pistol raised, waiting for him to "keek"?  Where were the
mysterious Japanese?  What were they--Carew's men or Dr. Ichi's?

Strange thing about that envelope.  Martin had been as much surprised
as Carew at the contents.  What kind of a game were Smatt and Ichi
playing, sending him with injunctions of secrecy to deliver sheets of
blank paper?  Carew declared the envelope had been tampered with, but
Martin knew better.  It had not left his possession.  Had Smatt
foreseen the reception that would be accorded his messenger?  He did
not doubt it.  Smatt was a cold-blooded fish; he would not hesitate to
risk his clerk's skin if a dollar profit were in sight.  Did Smatt and
Ichi know about the abduction--the imprisonment of that girl who
masqueraded in the gray overcoat?

Aye, the girl--that was the important thing!  Who was she?  Where had
she been taken?  If he could only get word to the police!  He had no
fears for himself, at least, not many.  When Carew had adjusted the
matter of the envelope with Smatt and Ichi, why, of course, he would be
turned loose.  But the woman--those yellow men....

Martin's ears became suddenly aware of a faint, strange sound.  It was
a sound he had been endeavoring subconsciously to place during the
period of his musing; he had almost identified it as his heart-beats.
Now, alert and listening, he placed it.  It was a tapping on the other
side of the wall he leaned against, a light tap-tap-tap.  It started,
stopped, started.

Somebody was tapping on the wall in the next room.  Another prisoner!
It was the girl--of course, it was the girl.

Martin was instantly sure of the tapper's identity, with a sureness
born of intuition and memory.  He remembered the two doors opening from
the big room, the gray overcoat lying in the corner, Carew's words when
the semi-conscious Martin Blake was held poised before the other door.
"Not there--next room."  Those were Carew's words.  Why, of course, the
Japs had brought the girl to Carew, and he had shut her in the next

_Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap_.  There it came again.  Martin rapped against
the wall with his own knuckles, paused, rapped again.  Instantly came
the response from the other side, the same number of raps.  A plain

But Martin's elation was short lived.  The unseen tapper immediately
commenced again, _tap-tap, tap-tap-tap-tap, tap_.

Surely there was method in that irregular tapping.  A signal, a talk in
code!  But he could not read it.  Nor dare he lift his voice in shouted
communication through the wall--Spulvedo, and bullets, hung over him.
One experience of being shot at while unarmed and helpless was
sufficient.  It would not help the girl for him to get himself shot.

The unevenly tapped message came again.  The best he could do was
repeat the taps.  But this, evidently, did not satisfy the sender.  The
tapping on the other side ceased.  Though he rapped till his knuckles
were sore, he could not induce the other to recommence.

The gloom of the room was less dense, Martin's accustomed eyes being
now able to discern all four walls and the outline of the window.
A-fever with excitement as he was, the inactivity palled upon him,
became unbearable.  He must do something.  Well, he would try the
window again.

But first he crept to the door and endeavored to peer through the
key-hole into the big room.  He hoped to get a view of what was
happening without, of Carew, of Spulvedo.  But he was disappointed.
The key, thrust in the lock on the outer side, completely barred any
outlook.  He pressed his ear against the door, but heard nothing.

A second later he was at the window, feeling of the padlocked shutter.

He drew his penknife from his pocket.  It was a tiny, ridiculous blade,
and it seemed futile to hope it would dig that stout staple out of the
sill; still, thought Martin, any sort of attempt was better than no

He leaned over the sill and pecked away with his office tool.  Of a
sudden, a draft of cold, fresh air rushed up into his face.  At the
same instant, his other hand, which was leaning against the shutter,
felt the shutter bulge slightly outward, and his ears caught a
distinct, but not loud, scraping sound.

The sound increased, the bulge increased, the draft increased.  Martin
felt the staple that held the padlock bending, felt, also, the prying
edge of a small steel bar between the sill edge and the shutter.  Some
one was outside, breaking entrance.

He drew to one side, shrinking against the wall, instinctively holding
his breath.  The prying of the shutter from without steadily continued.
Conjectures and hopes surged through his mind--it was a burglar, it was
the police, it was some unknown, unguessed friend.  He didn't care who
it was so long as the shutter was opened.

His heart beat a bass-drum solo against his ribs.  There were distinct,
rasping creaks from the window-sill--the staple was groaning at being
hauled from its wooden bed.  There was a sharp crack, and the shutter
swung open.  Martin heard a relieved grunt, felt the cool, fresh air
enveloping him, and saw a square of black sky, lighted with a few stars.

A hand grasped the window-sill and slid along it.  Martin stared at the
hand, fascinated.  It seemed no more than a writhing shadow.

Then a head abruptly bobbed into the square of uncertain light.  It was
a familiar head; even against that dark background Martin recognized it
promptly; it was an unusually large head, surmounted by a ridiculously
small hat.  A well remembered voice reached Martin's ear in a guarded

"Miss Ruth, Miss Ruth!  Are you there, Miss Ruth?"

It was the hunchback, Little Billy.

Martin's long-held breath exploded with a sudden pop.  The hunchback
stiffened at the sound and hung motionless, half over the sill.  He
peered into the dark room evidently endeavoring to locate the noise.

"Miss Ruth?" he hissed sharply.

Martin stepped from the wall towards the window.

"It is I," he commenced.

"Stop!  Don't move, don't yell.  I have you covered!" was Little
Billy's sharp injunction; and Martin caught the gleam of steel in the
other's hand, saw the muzzle of a revolver pointed at his chest.

"No, no, don't shoot!" he exclaimed.  "It is I, Martin Blake, the law
clerk.  Don't you remember--the fellow who was talking to you by the
fire hydrant?"

"The law clerk!  Good Lord!  Have they shanghaied you?"

"Yes, I'm locked in this room," said Martin.  "They are guarding the
door.  That fellow, Spulvedo, just took a shot at me because I tried to
break out.  Don't speak loudly--they'll overhear."

"I'm coming in," whispered Little Billy.

He wriggled his body further over the sill, swung about and dropped to
the floor by Martin's side.  Immediately, he turned and thrust his head
out of the window and spoke a few words in an undertone to some one

Martin leaned over Little Billy's shoulder and peered out.  He
discovered the means by which the hunchback had reached that second
story window--about nine feet below was the roof of a shed that abutted
against the side of the building, and on the farther side of the shed
was a dark space that looked like an alley, a freight entrance probably
to the great brick warehouse that reared its blank, windowless side
just opposite.  He saw that his previous surmise had been correct--this
room he had been confined in was a rear room, the shed below was
doubtless an outhouse of the saloon, the street yonder was Green Street.

Martin grasped these details at a glance.  What really interested him
at the moment was a man's figure just below him on the roof of the
shed.  The upturned face was but a few feet distant; the man bulked
huge in the shadow.  It was the boatswain.  Martin divined the method
of the hunchback's assault upon the shutters--he had evidently stood
upon the giant's shoulders.

"Stand by, Bos," called Little Billy softly.  "I'm inside, all right."

"Aye, aye," came the answering rumble.  "'Ave you found 'er, lad?
'Oo's that lookin' over your shoulder?"

"It is that clerk," said Little Billy.  "'Wild Bob' locked him up.  No,
she isn't----"

He straightened up and clutched Martin's arm.

"You in here alone?" he demanded.  "I am looking----"

"I know--a girl," interrupted Martin excitedly.  "I think she is in the
next room.  A white girl.  The japs caught her and turned her over to
Carew.  Had on a man's gray overcoat, and----"

"Did you see her?  Is she safe?"

"Think so.  They haven't had time to harm her.  I think she is in the
next room.  Some one was rapping on the wall."

"Code talk!" supplemented the hunchback.  "That is Ruth.  She thinks I
was caught, too.  She has been trying to communicate with me.  Must
have heard them put you in here.  Which wall?"

He darted to the side of the room Martin indicated, moving lightly and
soundlessly.  He started a light tapping on the wall, the same
irregular tapping that had puzzled Martin a few moments before.  Hardly
had he begun when faint replies came from the next room.

Martin tiptoed to the door and pressed his ear against it.  Events were
crowding him swiftly.  He had no time or data for cool reasoning.  The
boatswain, the hunchback, the imprisoned woman, Carew, the envelope,
Ichi and Smatt--it was all a mysterious jumble that he had no time to
bother with.  His impulse controlled him, and his impulse enlisted him
upon the girl's side against Carew.  Little Billy and the boatswain he
accepted without question as friends.  Had they not opened the window,
and the way to freedom?  So he listened at the door while the hunchback
exchanged signals, alert for alarming sounds from the big room.  But he
heard nothing.

For several moments the strange conversation continued through the
wall.  Twice, Martin heard the hunchback mutter an oath.  Then, after a
final series of raps, the little man left the wall and crept to
Martin's side.

"Yes, she is in there," he announced.  "We will have to work swiftly.
What do you know of this house--how constructed?"

Martin described in whispers the plan of the building as he knew
it--the hall and stairs, the large room, the two smaller rooms opening
off it.  He also told Little Billy of his own rough experience, though
he did not mention the envelope.

"Spulvedo is on guard on the other side of this door," he concluded.
"He is armed, and he won't hesitate to shoot."

"I know he would shoot," said Little Billy grimly.  "So will I shoot,
if necessary.  You have been thrust into a desperate business, my
friend.  Oh, I understand your position, even better than you,
yourself.  I know why you were seized and locked in here.  I warn you
truly, you are in some danger.  Carew, or any of his crowd, would snuff
you out in an instant if he thought fit.  I am not going to ask you to
risk your skin in an affair that does not concern you.  There is the
window--the bosun will let you pass."

"I'll stay and help you, if you'll have me," promptly replied Martin.
"I am not afraid to take a chance.  And that girl--those yellow----"

"I knew you would stick!" interrupted the hunchback.  His hand grasped
Martin's in a congratulatory grip.  "I knew I had not misjudged
you--you are a white man.  We must get her away, and we dare not call
the police into this affair.  But there is nothing crooked on our side
of the fence.  Here, take this--you may need it!"

Little Billy thrust something into Martin's hand, and Martin thrilled
at the feel of it.  It was a pistol, a compact, automatic messenger of
death.  But once or twice before had Martin ever handled such a weapon,
and he had never shot one at a living mark.  Nevertheless, it fitted
snugly and naturally into his palm.  He even contemplated, with a
certain amount of pleasure, its instant use upon the divekeeper's gross
person.  There was a subtle and lasting change of character in that
brief moment--Martin Blake, law clerk, became of the dead past, and
Martin Blake, adventurer, stepped into the law clerk's boots.

"It is too risky to make a rush through this door," Little Billy was
saying.  "They would hear us and be on guard.  We will try the next

He darted to the window, and Martin followed.  The purposeful hunchback
was a stimulating surprise, a far cry from the eloquent Little Billy of
the fire hydrant to the energetic Little Billy of the moment!  The man
of words become the man of action.

Little Billy leaned out of the window, and whispered.

"Aye, aye," Martin heard the hoarse whisper in reply.

"Stand by, we are coming out--both of us," admonished Little Billy.

He vaulted over the sill, clung a moment, and dropped.  Martin saw the
boatswain catch the little man in midair and lower him gently to his

"Come on," the hunchback then called softly.

Martin divested himself of his overcoat.  The cause, he thought, was
worth the sacrifice, and the garment was cumbersome.  Then he clambered
over the sill and lowered himself.

He was preparing to drop, when a resistless clutch fastened upon his
hips.  He was handed through the air as if he were a feather, and set
gently upon his feet at Little Billy's side.  The boatswain's gruff
whisper was in his ear--

"Swiggle me, ladibuck, I 'ad no thought to run afoul of you again."

"Come on--next window," commanded Little Billy.

He shrank against the side of the building and began to edge himself
along.  Martin and the boatswain followed.  Martin looked up.  The
window they had just climbed through was a mere black blot, the window
that was their objective was a mere outline overhead and a few feet to
one side.  No betraying light hazarded them, there on the shed.  The
warehouse behind them, and the building against which they crouched,
combined to drape them in black shadow.  Unless they made a noise,
Martin divined there was not much chance of their being discovered.

Little Billy paused beneath the other window, and Martin and the
boatswain pressed close to his side.

"Now, bosun, lend me your shoulders," said Little Billy.  "If this
shutter is fastened the same way the other one was, we won't have much
trouble.  Hand me the bar."

The boatswain produced a short steel bar from some place about his
person and handed it to the hunchback.  Then he braced his back against
the building, directly below the desired window, and picking up Little
Billy, hoisted the little fellow to his own broad shoulders.  The
hunchback perched there a moment and delivered instructions to Martin.

"You stand lookout," he instructed.  "Watch the street.  Listen for

Martin obediently crept to the edge of the shed's roof that overlooked
the street and posted himself there as watchman.  The alley was on his
left hand, but it was so dark there he could not see the ground.  The
street, just before him, was not so impervious to peering eyes.

The cobblestones and the sidewalk pavement gleamed dully.  By
stretching his neck, he could see the corner where the street lamp
spluttered before the saloon entrance, and beyond the corner, the wide
vista of the Embarcadero and a section of dark wharf.  But he saw
nothing threatening in the scene.  Nothing moved--the street was empty
of life.  The only sounds were the hooting of steamboat whistles on the
bay and the light rattle of Little Billy's bar against the shutter.

Then, abruptly, came from around the corner, in front of the saloon,
the muffled throb of an automobile engine.  It sank to a purr, and
stopped.  Martin stiffened tensely and gripped the revolver in his
hand.  Behind him, he heard the boatswain mutter:

"'Ear that, Billy?  Swiggle me, 'e's back--'urry!"

The scraping sound of the steel bar upon the shutter increased in
volume.  Martin heard a mumble of voices, and a stamping of feet on the
pavement.  Then a door closed and the sounds ceased.  Martin knew that
several men had entered the saloon.  The danger seemed to have passed
them by.

He heard Little Billy give vent to a satisfied grunt.  He looked up,
over his shoulder, and saw that the jimmy had completed its task.  The
shutter was open, Little Billy was clambering down from the boatswain's
shoulders, an indistinct figure was half over the sill, clambering out
of the newly opened window.  And in the same glance, he saw a beam of
yellow light illumine the other window, the window of the room in which
he had been prisoner.  His ears were assailed with a sudden outcry
coming through that window----

"He ees gone!"

It happened in the twinkling of an eye.  Martin wheeled about at the
sight and sound.  He had no time for reflection, but he knew instantly
that his escape had been discovered, that the light above came from the
big room where he had bearded Carew, that they had opened the door and
found him gone.

Feet trampled in the room.  A man's figure was framed in the lighted
window--a bloated bulk that he knew was Spulvedo.  A flame shot from
that figure into his very face.  The missile struck the roof close to
his side and splattered shingle and dirt in his face.  Without
hesitation, he straightened his own arm and fired point blank at the
living mark.  Spulvedo emitted a stifled shriek and fell from sight.

The window was empty again.  Not until long afterward did Martin recall
that his conscious mind never received the sound of those two shots.

A dark figure brushed past him and dropped over the edge of the roof to
the street.  The boatswain followed.  Little Billy was by his side,
grasping his shoulder.

"Come on--roll off!" the hunchback was urging.

The second window overhead was suddenly alight, and a booming voice was
cursing in the room.  Martin rolled off the edge and fell into the
boatswain's arms.

Then he was on his feet, running, by the boatswain's side.  Just in
front of him raced the hunchback, and a queer figure in man's clothes,
whose long hair streamed behind.  He heard men shouting.

They passed the corner and started across the Embarcadero toward the
wharves.  Far down the street a police whistle was blowing shrilly.
Behind them, the Black Cruiser was spewing forth its brood.

The street was wide.  They were not nearly across when these sounds of
pursuit reached Martin's ears.  He heard the pounding of feet behind
him, and the sound of shots.  He heard the hunchback fling over his

"Hold them back, bos!  We'll get the boat free!"

The boatswain stopped short and wheeled about.  Martin's momentum
carried him several steps farther, then he too checked his stride.
Intuitively, he knew his place was at the boatswain's side.

The boatswain was on one knee, shooting rapidly at a cluster of
retreating figures.  The Black Cruiser was still emptying itself.
Everywhere before the saloon, it seemed to Martin, were darting forms.

From behind telegraph poles, from kneeling figures, came the spurting
flames of revolver shots.  The reports were a sharp rattle.  Martin
dropped to his knee and raised his arm.  The gun in his hand leaped
like a live thing as he pulled the trigger.  He was given entirely over
to the battle lust of the moment.  He was cool, he was happy, he
laughed aloud, and he shot rapidly, with intent to kill, at the enemy
figures yonder.

The police whistles sounded insistently, more shrilly.  Martin sensed
there was a commotion a block or so down the street--approaching
police, he knew.

The boatswain was on his feet and backing toward the dock.  His voice
warned Martin----

"Avast there, nipper!"

Martin found his feet also and commenced to retreat.  One of the enemy
figures was coming straight for them, ignoring the shots.  There was
something distinctive, contemptuous, about that charge.  Martin knew
the approaching figure was Carew.  He took aim, crooked his finger, and
found his weapon empty.  He drew back his arm and hurled the gun
straight at the other, and at the same instant the charging man shot.
And darkness enveloped Martin as he fell.



Martin returned to consciousness gradually, and _via_ the nightmare
route.  He was being put to torture.  He was bound, helpless, and a
steel band encircled his head, and sharp spikes were probing his brain.

He was surrounded by gibbering and leering slant-eyed yellow faces;
they screamed at him without letup, and his ears rang with their
fiendish outcry.  But mingled with, and woven into, that barbarous howl
was a softer and friendlier note, at which his groping wits clutched
eagerly; it was a clear, musical chant, and somehow, it soothed his
hurts, and gave him courage to face his torturers.  The yellow faces
grimaced horridly at him.  He was being roughly rolled about.  So, he
opened his eyes.

He was staring upward at the bare, wooden bottom-side of a bunk.  It
was a long moment before he could identify that blank expanse.  Then he
discovered that he was lying in a bunk, and there was something the
matter with his couch, it bounced about, and his feet were, as often as
not, higher than his head.

He was in a room.  Just before his eyes was a little round window in
the wall, and through it filtered a feeble daylight when his feet were
ascendant, and when his head was uppermost he glimpsed racing, green
water on the other side of the thick glass circle.  It was strangely

His eyes roved.  The mists were clearing somewhat from his mind.  He
was in a room, yes, the queerest little cubby-hole he had ever seen.
There was a lamp in a rack against the wall, and the lamp remained
stationary and upright while the wall behind it reeled drunkenly.

Clothes dangled from pegs as if inhabited by dancing ghosts.
Somewhere, crockery rattled.  There was an alarming creaking, as if
great timbers were grinding together.  And there was, over all, a
shrill, menacing, unceasing howl--the same dread sounds that had made
part of his dream.

Also persisted the singing voice that had drawn him safely out of his
marish visions.  His eyes, continuing their sweep, passed by a tiny
desk, a rack of books, a swinging wash-basin, and encountered the
source of that musical chant.  The hunchback, Little Billy, was seated
crosslegged upon the floor, sewing on some piece of wearing apparel,
and, as he deftly plied the needle, he crooned his ditty in the pure
tenor that had before charmed Martin.

  "A-roving, a-roving,
  Since roving's been my ru-u-in----"

So far he got, when he looked up and saw Martin's eyes fixed upon him.
He promptly threw his work aside, leaped to his feet and bent over the
bunk.  His impish, friendly face was wreathed in a cordial smile.

"Why, hello, old scout!  Had your sleep out?  How do you feel?" was his
cheerful greeting.

Martin had been fully occupied in receiving impressions during the few
moments he had been awake, and until Little Billy spoke, he had not
considered himself.  But at the other's words, he suddenly discovered
that something was the matter with his body.  He was sick.  His head
hurt, and something terrible was happening to his inner man--he was
ascending to great heights only to drop swiftly to great depths.  It
was his stomach, his stomach was performing a rapid and continuous
journey between his throat and the soles of his feet.  He ached all
over.  He felt it was the end; it was approaching dissolution.

"My inside--my stomach.  I'm dying!" he managed to gasp.

Little Billy's elfish grin grew wider.  The wretch even chuckled as he
contemplated Martin's misery.

"Oh, that is nothing," Martin heard him say.  "Just a little bout with
our old friend Mister Mal de Mer.  You'll be all right once you get on
your feet and get some warm food inside of you.  How is the head?"

The mention of food was nauseous, but the remark anent the head
acquainted him with a new ill.  He touched the place where his hair
should have been, and instead of hair his hand caressed a bandage.  He
discovered that beneath the bandage was the seat of the throbbing pain
that bothered him.  Also, memory began to stir in the chaos of his
mind--head bandaged, street fight, Black Cruiser, shots.

"What--what," he stuttered.

"You were shot," little Billy replied to that interrogatory stare.
"The bosun picked you up and carried you to the boat, and we brought
you aboard with us.  You were creased.  The narrowest squeak I ever
saw.  The bullet just plowed over your skull.  We thought at first you
were gone--fractured skull, you know--but you came out of your trance
and fell asleep.  You have been lying in that bunk for about fifteen
hours.  It is midafternoon now, and we have been to sea since midnight."

"T-to sea!" gasped Martin.

The hunchback's matter-of-fact announcement fairly took his breath.
The latter's chuckle became more pronounced at Martin's blank amazement.

"Yes, my legal friend, you have invaded the troublous domains of old
King Nep.," he continued genially.  "As the bosun remarked this
morning, when a few playful tons of H2O rolled him along the main deck,
''Ere we are, swiggle me stiff, safe and sound at sea again!'"  Little
Billy struck an oratorical pose, and declaimed musically:

  "O, we're running free with a gale abaft,
  And we're bound for the End o' the World!"

"But--why did you bring--" mumbled Martin.

"We had to fetch you along," interrupted Little Billy.  "If the bosun
had left you behind, those yellow devils would have finished you, or
else the police would have nabbed you.  The police were at our heels
when we made the getaway from the wharf, as it was.  By Jove!  It was
for your own benefit we shanghaied you--you realize, don't you, that a
street fight with guns in a civilized town like Frisco, with wounded,
perhaps dead, men lying around, makes a rather serious business?  But
don't you worry any about the future.  Everything is rosy.  We are safe
at sea, and booming along with a gale at our backs.  The law may have
gobbled up Wild Bob Carew and his crew--hope it did, but suspect my
haughty captain squirmed out of it as he usually does.  We have made
our getaway, anyhow."

At sea!  Disturbing visions were dancing through Martin's mind.  At sea!

It was one thing to stand in an office window, idly watching passing
ships, and longing to be at sea.  It was quite another thing to awaken
without foreknowledge, in a stuffy and careening berth, on a strange
ship that was plowing through a storm, possessed of a wounded head and
a gadabout stomach, and be informed casually by a grinning gnome that
he was fleeing the law--that he had been kidnaped so he would avoid the
consequences of a wild and deadly street brawl.

A man accustomed to rough buffets and fickle fortune might well blink
his eyes over such a situation.  To Martin, the clerk, to whose
law-abiding existence both fights and police had hitherto been
strangers, the information was more than a shock.  It was an
earthquake.  His world was tumbling about his ears.

The jolt galvanized him to action.  He sat up in his bunk and swung his
legs over the side.  For a second he had some wild idea of rushing
forth, and somehow stepping ashore, and back into yesterday.  Then he
steadied himself.

"But what will I do?" he demanded of the hunchback.  "Where are you
going?  I am not a sailor, I am a clerk--and my job----"

"My friend," said Little Billy, "I think you may definitely assume that
your connection with the legal profession is severed.  Your job is
close on two hundred miles astern.  But as I told you a moment since,
you need not worry about your future.  Why, you have already been
adopted into the happy family--you are already one of the jolly company
of the brig _Cohasset_, with equal rights, and an equal share.  And if
we have decent luck with this job ahead of us, you will have no cause
to grieve at being yanked out of your berth ashore.  It isn't so bad,
is it?  We know you leave no family behind--oh, yes, we know quite a
lot about you, Martin Blake, we had to look you up--and I think you
will be blessing us in a day or two for prying you out of your rut.
You are the right sort.  You were never cut out for a clerk!  By Jove!
You should hear the bosun tell how you bowled over Carew, himself, with
your empty gun!  You are a nervy one, all right.  I'll wager this
business ahead of us will be more to your liking than the one you leave

"What is it?" asked Martin.  "Where are you going?"

"Not my story--I can't tell you, now," answered Little Billy.  "You'll
find out tonight, after supper.  There will be a pow-wow in the cabin,
and the Old Man and Miss Ruth will enlighten you then."

"Miss Ruth!" echoed Martin, thinking for the first time of the girl who
had innocently got him into this mess.  "That is the girl!  Then we got
the girl safely?"

"Oh, yes, she is aboard, and safe enough.  She dressed your head--neat
job of bandaging she does.  Well, Blake, I'll have to be about my
duties.  I'm steward, you know.  This is my room.  You are to bunk with
me.  I would advise you to get up on deck if you can manage it.  There
is no cure for seasickness like being on your feet in fresh air.  Don't
worry about your head--it is only a flesh wound, and it will heal in a
couple of days.  And after supper you'll hear all about it.  So long."

The door closed behind the sprightly little figure, and Martin was left

Alone, but with thoughts enough for company.  He sat there with his
legs swinging over the side of the bunk, nursing his sore head and
trying to digest the information Little Billy had imparted.

He was troubled, yet somehow not depressed.  His coward fears of a few
moments ago were gone, and he could face the situation now with
considerable aplomb.  Of course, it was disturbing to learn that he was
probably a fugitive from justice; and with his knowledge of the law he
could very well appreciate the probably serious consequences of last
night's affair.  Why, there were likely dead men in the city morgue as
a result, and old Smatt, judging himself betrayed by his clerk, might
swear him a murderer.  He was a vindictive old man, Martin knew.  And
Spulvedo--he knew he had shot Spulvedo; he had seen the man drop.

Martin felt a qualm at that remembrance--shooting a man was a new and
terrible experience, and his conscience had scruples concerning the
sanctity of human life.  If Martin Blake could then have seen a few
months into the future....

Yet he had no regrets for the part he had played.  He had been
headstrong, he knew, in so unreservedly joining forces with the strange
people of this strange ship.  But what else could he have done and
retained his self-respect?  A man, by George, owed it to himself to be
willing to fight for a woman in distress--especially such a
good-looking girl as this mysterious Miss Ruth.  Little Billy, and
these people, seemed to be at outs with the police, but he knew he was
on the right side.

And so he was one of the jolly company of the brig _Cohasset_!  This
craft seemed to have been fated to enter his life.  He recalled how
interested he had been when the boatswain first mentioned the name,
last night, in Johnny Feiglebaum's.  Last night!  Why, it seemed a year
ago!  "Happy ship," the boatswain had called her, and Little Billy had
referred to the "happy family."  A queer outfit he had fallen in with.
Well, at least he would see that "blessed, bleedin' little mate" the
boatswain was so exercised about.

Brig _Cohasset_!  What kind of a ship was a brig, anyway?  He would see.

Arrived at this conclusion, Martin felt better.  He rolled clear of the
bunk and balanced himself on the swaying floor.  He was going to take
the hunchback's advice and look over this new home of his, and take the
tonic prescribed for his peripatetic stomach.  Already, he felt much
better.  He even contemplated food without disgust.

He had been undressed, and he discovered his clothes hanging on the
wall.  While he donned them, his spirits continued to mount.  He was
done with fright and worry.

Things were not so bad.  It was true there was no one ashore to grieve
at his disappearance, save good Mrs. Meagher.  But how in the world did
the hunchback discover that fact?  Come what might, he was done with
his old drab life, done with musty legal forms, done with the job he so
loathed.  There was a jubilant tinge to his thoughts.  Why, he was just
where he had so often longed to be--"Out There where Things happened!"

That all-pervading screaming that rang in his ears--why, that was the
wind whistling through the rigging, overhead, the storm king's brazen
voice that he had so often dreamed of hearing.  And that disconcerting
lurching beneath his feet--why, that was the heaving deck he had so
lusted to press foot upon.

What matter if it did play havoc with his midriff.  That would pass;
already he was feeling fit.  Now he would go out and get acquainted
with his shipmates--ah, shipmates!  He smacked his lips over the word.
Already he knew the hunchback and the boatswain--fine fellows.  And the
girl--he had seen her once and would never forget her face.  That
shining mass of hair....

And Martin laved himself in the basin, spruced himself before the
little glass, and let himself out of the room.

Martin stepped into the ship's cabin.  He knew it was the cabin,
because he had often read passages descriptive of just such a room.

There were several doors on either side.  They led to the berths.
There was the curve of the ship's stern in the after wall, portholes,
and a divan which followed the half-round.  Chairs, a large table,
swinging lamps, a skylight overhead.  There was the companion ladder,
leading to the deck above.

He made for the ladder.  At its base he stopped.  Some one was
descending.  A hale, white-bearded, rosy-cheeked old man came down from
the deck.  He had a serene and smiling countenance.

Martin waited expectantly, with half-extended hand.  This must be the
"Old Man" of the hunchback's reference.  But the old man's wide-open
eyes stared over his head, or through him.  He walked past within a
foot of Martin and gave not the least indication that he noticed
Martin's presence.  A second later he disappeared through a door on the
farther side of the room.

Martin's hand dropped to his side.  He was nonplused and somewhat
piqued.  It was unbelievable that he had been unseen.  Why, the man had
passed within touching distance and had looked straight at him!  If
this were the captain of the jolly brig...

However, just now he was eager to reach outdoors.  He mounted the
ladder and found himself in a box-like hatch.  He thrust aside a canvas
flap and stepped out on deck.

A blast of cold wind slapped his face and almost took his breath for a
moment.  He was facing aft, looking out over the stern of the ship, and
his eyes beheld a tumbling chaos, a fearsome waste of leaping waters.

In the foreground of this picture, just across the skylight from him,
stood the man at the wheel.  He was an integrant feature of that wild
scene, felt Martin.  In Heaven's name, what manner of outlander was he?
Squat and bulky in oilskins, broad-faced, high-cheeked, brown-colored,
his forehead was tattooed, and ridges of horrible scars disfigured both
plump cheeks.  His eyes were small, feral; he gave Martin a fleeting,
incurious glance, and turned his attention to his work.  He stood
impassive, clutching the wheel-spokes.

The deck was wet and slippery.  The ship lunged down the slope of a
sea, and Martin slid to leeward.  He fought his way up-deck again and
grasped the side of the hatch for support.  The mishap had turned him
about.  He now faced forward, and the wheelman was forgotten.

He was on the poop, and he overlooked the length of the ship.  The brig
_Cohasset_ was before his eyes, as much of her as was above water.
But, as a matter of fact, and as he was later informed, he did not look
upon a brig at all; the _Cohasset_ was a brig only by virtue of
sailors' loose habits of speech.  She was in truth "a rig what ye
rarely see, lad, a proper brigantine, a craft what I'll be swiggled
stiff if ye can mate 'er anyw'ere for sailing and comfort."

But nice distinctions of rig did not bother Martin on this, his first,
view of his new home.  He was looking through his landsman eyes.

He saw, over the break of the poop, a sweep of deck that careened till
the lee rail dipped, and green seas lolloped aboard and swirled,
foam-flecked, aft.  He saw the long jib-boom, now stabbing the leaden
sky, now plunging into the depths.  He saw the pyramid of bellying
canvas on the foremast, the great foresail, the topsails, and the bare
spars above.

He saw the great boom above his head, and the vast expanse of the
mainsail, a tremendous canvas, even though reefed.  He saw the
straining, board-like staysails.  He heard the harsh scream of the wind
aloft, the vibrant thrumming of tautened stays, the banging of a block,
the crash of boarding seas.  Grim sounds, and an outlook to daunt a
young man whose maritime experience consisted of an occasional
ferry-boat trip.

Martin was aghast.  The ship was a chip in a maelstrom, lost, tossed
about, sport of those monster waves.  The ticklish game of "carrying
on" was beyond Martin's present ken.  He was thinking in the terms of
his favorite literature.  He was awe-struck by the fury of the
elements, by the limitless expanse of upheaving waters, by the long,
white-crested seas racing down the wind.  He was beholding the raging

"Hello, Mr. Blake!  Glad to see you about.  Nice little puff we have
had for a starting boost--about blown out, I'm afraid."

The words, rich, throaty, tinged with amusement, came down the wind to
Martin's ears.  Martin turned his head.  Opposite him on the sloping
weather deck, regarding him with a smile, stood the girl--"Miss Ruth."

Martin stared.  Had he heard aright, "little puff"?  This battle of
wind and wave a little puff!  And she who regarded this cataclysmic
scene with such contempt--that brave and confident figure, swaying so
easily to the deck's reel, that bizarre costume, that sparkling
face--was she the distressed maid he had fought for the night before?
Yes, he remembered that vivid, expressive face.  By George, she was a

She was, without doubt, an uncommonly pretty girl, and the strange
costume she wore accentuated, rather than hid, her charms.  A serge
skirt came but little below her knees, and beneath it Martin saw feet
and ankles encased in stout, trim, absurdly small sea boots.

She wore a sailor's pea-coat, open at the front and disclosing a
guernsey covering a swelling bosom.  The great mass of dark hair Martin
remembered so well was knotted and piled atop her head, and a blue,
peaked cap perched saucily aslant the mass.

Her face was alive, vivacious.  The eyes were large, dark, bright, the
lips were ripe and smiling, the cheeks weather-bronzed but not swarthy.

Martin drank in the details of her appearance greedily, and they left
him tongue-tied.  Yes, by George, she was a beauty!  Her carriage was
regal, and there was about her an air of competence, of authority.  She
was not disturbed by her surroundings--she laughed.  What had she
called the storm?  A puff!  She seemed, by George, like a sprite of the
storm!  Like the steersman yonder, she seemed to belong to this setting
of laboring ship and tumultuous sea.  Here she came toward him with
hand outstretched.

She walked easily, body inclining gracefully to the ship's whims,
disdaining aid of skylight or hatch.  Martin clung to the hatch with
one hand and extended his other.

He thrilled to the warm clasp she gave him.  He glowed at the friendly
light in her eyes.  She was tall, taller than she looked at a distance,
almost as tall as he.  She did not seem to raise her voice, yet her
words reached him distinctly above the howl of the wind.  He had to
shout his answers.

"How does your head feel?" were her first words.

He answered reassuringly, and remembered of a sudden that it was those
brown, shapely fingers that wrapped the bandage.

"I am Ruth Le Moyne," she continued.  "I would like to thank you for
what you did last night.  You were splendid!  Little Billy has told us
how promptly you volunteered your aid, when you knew it meant danger to
yourself.  It was brave of--oh, words are so tame!  But you can guess
what it meant to me--I, a girl, and Carew----"

Yes, Martin knew.  He hastened to shout that he knew.  The girl's
attitude made him uncomfortable.  He shouted that he knew all about it,
and that it was nothing, really nothing.  He would like to do it again;
he was really glad to be at sea on such a jolly little ship; the bump
on his head was nothing; no, his seasickness was past; what he had done
was nothing, by George, not worth mentioning!

So he said, while he held Ruth Le Moyne's hand and looked into her
eyes--dark brown eyes, he noticed, not bright now, but misty with
gratitude---and he meant what he said.

"Of course, you feel strange and lost," she said.  "But you will get
quickly used to ship life, and I know you will like it.  You know, we
call ourselves the 'happy family.'  You are one of us, now.  You share
in the venture, and if we are successful--but you will hear all about
it after awhile."

She broke off abruptly, looked aloft, then turned to the helmsman.

"Watch your eye, Oomak!" she called.

The savage-appearing steersman inclined his head submissively and
pulled upon the wheel spokes.  Martin stared, surprised.  What had this
entrancing bundle of femininity to do with the steering of the ship?

She turned to him again.

"We are losing the breeze," she said regretfully.  "I suppose, though,
we shouldn't complain.  We have gained a good offing."

Losing the breeze!

"Do you mean--is the storm passing?" asked Martin.

"The storm?"  She stared, then smiled.  "Oh, yes--see!"

Martin looked up.  Rifts of blue sky showed in the leaden blanket
overhead.  But the sea seemed as wild, his ear sensed no decrease in
the wind's howl.  This girl seemed very sure.

"I'll set the t'gal'n's'l and shake a reef out of the mains'l at eight
bells," she continued.  "Just a few moments of the time, now.  You
know, we are cracking on."

"Oh--of course," said Martin blankly.  He didn't know just what she was
talking about, but the salty words rolled off her tongue very glibly.
"W-what are you on the ship, Miss----"

"Oh, I forgot that you didn't know," laughed the girl.  "Why, I am the

The mate!  This radiant, laughing creature the mate!  This slip of a
girl!  Oh, ho, no wonder the boatswain wept and spoke of posies, and
the hunch-back waxed poetical in description.  This girl...

Martin suddenly gulped.  He remembered the prim, mutton-chopped little
man of his imaginings, the gentle, senile little mate of the brig
_Cohasset_.  He winced and blushed at the recollection of his idle
thoughts.  But a woman for mate!  Why--and he stared about him--this
girl must be in practical command of the ship.  His life, the lives of
those oilskin-clad figures he saw lounging forward, all the lives on
the ship, were in her hand, dependent upon her skill.  Mate!  He had
never heard----

"You seem rather surprised," she rallied him.  "I see disapproval in
your face.  But I assure you, I am a very good mate.  I even have a
master's ticket."

Martin stuttered in his confusion and tangled himself in a web of
denial.  Then came a blessed interruption.  Up through the companion
hatch, to which he still clung, arose a white head, and then the man.
It was the serene-faced old man who had passed him by in the cabin.

"The captain!" announced the beskirted mate.  "Captain, here is Mr.
Blake--Mr. Blake, meet Captain Dabney."

The old man stepped out on deck and turned his head about uncertainly.
His hand wandered an instant, and then met Martin's.  His face wreathed
in a cordial smile.

"Glad to meet you, lad," he said.

Martin found himself without words.  He was fascinated by the captain's
eyes, those serene, blue eyes that stared at him without seeing him.
Captain Dabney was blind.



Martin lounged upon the divan, on edge with impatience, his attention
divided between the faces of his companions and the face of the clock
hanging on the forward bulkhead.  The two big lamps, upright in their
gimbals, shed a warm, bright glow about the cabin.

The supper remains had disappeared.  Little Billy was completing his
steward's task by spreading over the table the damask cloth that graced
the board between meals.  The blind captain sat in a chair, quietly
puffing a pipe.  The clock showed a quarter of eight.  At eight
o'clock, eight bells would strike overhead, the bosun would relieve the
mate, the mate would come below, and then his burning curiosity was
promised satisfaction.

The mate!  Martin's thoughts buzzed around the girl like a moth around
a candle-flame.  Not yet could he reconcile Ruth with her duties as
ship's first officer.  It seemed so absurd.  She and the giant bosun
divided the watches between them.  What an ill-assorted brace!  And she
was the superior.  She was the right arm, and the eyes of the old blind
man.  Oh, she was a proper sailor, right enough!

Yes, she had set the t'gal'n's'l and shaken the reef out of the
mains'l.  He knew now what she had meant.

What a superb figure she was, standing there on the windswept deck,
singing her orders.  Yes, singing--that full, contralto _halloo_ of
hers was naught but a song.  And how the wild men of the crew had
leaped to obey!  Wild men--he had seen but few white faces
forward--wild islanders of some sort.

He would never forget his first dogwatch, spent by the boatswain's
side, pacing the poop deck.  How niftily he had gained his sea legs!
He had easily learned the trick of throwing his body to meet the ship.
He had learned lots, besides, from the deep voice rumbling in his ear.

"A smart little 'ooker lad, and a smart crew, all married to 'er.
Swiggle me!  Ain't many 'er size can show 'er a pair o' 'eels.  Ay,
small, but big enough for 'er work--'undred thirty ton.  Great trader,
the Old Man is.  'Square Jim' Dabney, 'e's called, from the Arctic to
'Obart Town, and across Asia side; except them Rooshuns--they call 'im
the 'Slippery Devil.'  Says I, fine 'auls we've 'ad, seal and fur, from
them Rooshuns.

"Blast o' dynamite, lad, took the Old Man's sight.  Fine 'aul this time
if we 'ave luck.  Swiggle me stiff, it'll set us up ashore for bleeding
toffs! ... ye'll 'ear about it later....  Ay, that's the royal,
lad--topmost spar--be shakin' that rag out afore long....  Ay, mate,
and a proper fine mate she is, bless 'er bleeding little 'eart!  Grew
up at sea--proper shark for navigation--Old Man never 'ad 'er 'ead for
figures....  See--them's the 'alyards, lad! ...  Ay, prime sailorman,
she is, too...."

Such was the burden of the boatswain's discourse throughout the
dogwatch.  A shark for navigation, and a prime sailorman, bless her
bleeding little heart!  Oh, she was the apple of the boatswain's eye!
And of other eyes.  And the boatswain had called her "mister" when he
came on deck----

"'Ow's she going, mister?"

She grew up at sea!  So the boatswain had said.  Had been able to "take
a sight at ten year, lad, an' work out a position, which, swiggle me, I
can't do for all my size and years!"  Could even match the red giant at
sailorly work with ropes and wires.

What a strange upbringing for a girl!  He had gathered that Ruth was
the granddaughter of the blind man, Square Jim Dabney, that she was
orphaned; that this cockleshell of a vessel had been her home since
babyhood.  Bred of seamen and to the sea.  No wonder she paced the deck
so confidently, and flung a laugh into the East Wind's very face!

She was of the breed of the silent old man who bore his affliction so
steadfastly.  Martin studied the patient figure of the blind man with a
new interest.  What a pity, that hale, active man caged in darkness!
What misery, what despair, thought he, might lurk behind those fine,
unmarred eyes!  Yet the face was happy enough.  Indeed, it was serene,
unscarred by impatience or passion; the race of one who awaits Fate
fearlessly.  Martin had difficulty in connecting that kindly and
peaceful figure with the "Old Man" of the boatswain's talk.

What stirring adventures the boatswain's casual words had hinted at!
In what a bald, matter-of-fact manner had the _Cohasset's_ various
activities been mentioned!  Pearl shell and island trade; "a bit o'
filibustering now and then," to Mexico and South America; seal and fur
poaching on the Siberian coast, in open defiance of the Czar's mandates!

Square Jim Dabney, might be the captain's name from the Arctic to
Hobart Town, but some of the exploits the boatswain had boasted of
suggested "Freebooter Jim" Dabney to Martin's mind.  How about that
affair where the captain had lost his eyesight?  Raiding a gold-bearing
reef in the Louisiades with dynamite, the boatswain had said, in
derisive revolt against the Australian mining laws.

It had happened but a few months before, and a premature explosion of a
dynamite charge had been the unusual fruit of the raid--unusual because
when the boatswain and others had rushed to recover what they thought
was their captain's mangled body, they discovered their leader unmarred
by the blast but stone-blind from the shock.  An injured optic nerve,
the San Francisco specialists had said, a hopeless case.

Yet even permanent blindness did not place a period to the career of
this venerable Pacific freelance.  Was he not engaged in some wild
venture even now?  Some mysterious business that had begun with
bloodshed, and would end--how?  What had Little Billy said?  "Bound for
the End o' the World!"  And what, pray, would they find at the End o'
the World?

Well, he didn't care what they found there, but he was very glad to be
able to voyage to the world's end with this company.  He was glad he
had been pitched head foremost into the affair, little as he yet
understood of it all; he was glad to be at sea and shipmates with the
"happy family."  No longer was he a despised quill-pusher.

Just what he was at present, Martin could not decide, but he was
determined to become a valued and accomplished member of this
adventuring household.  He was determined--like the moth to the flame,
Martin's thoughts came back to the girl--he was determined to win the
respect of Ruth Le Moyne, to match her self-reliance.  He would show
her, by George, that he did not lack for courage; that stranger though
he was to sea life, he could acquit himself creditably in the face of
any danger he might encounter in his new environment!

The boatswain came out of his room and paused at the foot of the
companion-ladder to fill his pipe.  He looked like some huge,
red-shagged bear, thought Martin, a well-fed, contented bear.  The
hands of the clock were almost on the hour--in a moment the bosun would
be on deck, and Ruth would come below.  Then...

The boatswain's enormous sea boots disappeared through the hatch, and a
moment later eight bells struck overhead.

Martin sat up expectantly.  Little Billy grinned at him from across the
room.  Confound the fellow!  He had insisted on treating Martin as an
invalid during the supper, had been absurdly solicitous about the
wounded head and the turbulent stomach, when Martin had forgotten the
existence of both; he had persisted in interrupting when Martin wanted
to talk to Ruth.  Here she came!

A light step, a little boot poked into view, and Ruth bustled down the
ladder.  By George, she was a beauty!

"Due west--setting more canvas," she announced briskly to Captain

The latter turned his sightless eyes on the rosy face that bent above
him; the serene, white-bearded face was suddenly beautiful with its
welcoming smile.  The blind man's hand reached out and gently stroked
the girl's arm.  Martin saw there was complete agreement between the

Ruth divested herself of the heavy pea-coat she wore, tossed it upon
the divan, and drew up a chair beside the captain's.

"Well, let us commence at once with our tales of woe, and our council
of war," said she laughingly.  "I am quite sure Mr. Blake is perishing
with curiosity.  I know I would be in his place."

It was an odd assortment that gathered about the table--a girl, a blind
man, a hunchback, and a clerk.  A strange company for a ship's cabin,
at sea.

But the incongruity escaped Martin.  For the moment he had eyes but for
the figure opposite him, for the trim figure revealed by the
tight-fitting guernsey, for the vivid face that bloomed above.  Ruth
bore his gaze with composure; she even smiled at him, with a twinkle in
her eye.  Martin blushed.

Little Billy had brought to the table a small, locked cash-box, made of
light steel.  He set it carefully in the center of the table, and then
took a seat by Martin's side.

Ruth spoke.

"First of all, we had better tell the whole story of the _Good Luck_,
and the code, and the log, to Mr. Blake.  It is unfair to keep him in
darkness any longer."

"Yes--that will be best," said Captain Dabney.  "I will tell you about
finding the wreck.  But Billy must finish the tale--he is the more used
to yarn-spinning.  Billy, have you the box there?"

"Yes--here," answered the hunchback.

He rapped the cash-box with his fingers, and the captain nodded at the
metallic sound.  Then Little Billy drew a key from his pocket and
unlocked the box.  He threw an envelope out upon the table.

Martin blinked.  He knew that plain wrapper.  Yesterday afternoon, old
Smatt had handed him that envelope, and last night at the Black Cruiser
he, himself, had delivered it to Captain Carew.  Now, it was here
before his eyes!

Little Billy chuckled at his amazement.  Even Ruth smiled at him.

"Hello!  Our friend seems to recognize Exhibit A," bantered the
hunchback.  "Well, Blake, without waiting for counsel's advice, I will
admit that you probably have seen this very envelope before.  But I bet
the contents are stranger to your popping eyes!"

With that, Little Billy spread the envelope's contents upon the table.

Martin saw a plain sheet of paper, written upon by Smatt's angular
hand, and a strip of some kind of animal skin, or gut, about 4x5 inches
in size, and of a leprous-white color.  The skin was covered with what
he took to be a multitude of faint, red scratches, but upon a second
look he saw that the scratches were figures.

Ruth indicated the skin with her finger.

"The secret of Fire Mountain," she said.

"Yes, the secret of Fire Mountain," echoed Little Billy.  "And this--"
he pointed to the paper containing Smatt's writing--"is the secret
kindly bared for us by that genial gray vulture of the law, Mr. Smatt.
The envelope also contained Wild Bob's clearance papers--cleared for
Papeete, the slick devil--but we presented them to the gulls off the
Farallones.  They can go a-voyaging on them if they wish."

"A little thing like a clearance will not keep Bob Carew in port,"
interposed Captain Dabney.

"No, I suppose not," replied Little Billy, his face sobering.  "He is
on our heels now, I dare say.  However, we have had the satisfaction of
putting a good one over on him."

"But--but what--" stammered Martin, his eyes still upon the envelope;
the others' reference were Greek to him.

"So friend Blake is puzzled!" exclaimed the hunchback, his light humor
returned.  "Are you not beginning to see light, Blake?  Observe--" he
tapped the skin with a finger--"this cryptic skin contains the secret
of Fire Mountain.  Ichi, the wily one, abstracts it from its
discoverers and rightful owners and carries it to that fine legal
rascal who employed you; fine legal rascal gives it to clerk to deliver
to Wild Bob Carew.  Wild Bob Carew has rakish schooner ready to scoot
for loot, but needs code translation, and latitude and longitude;
friend Blake carries code in pocket, friend Mate carries position in
head--so, there is plot and counterplot; gumshoeing and shanghaiing.
You, my friend, at the center of one storm circle.  Devious and
devilish machinations assail you--at first with failure, for the mate
lost her wits, and the boatswain lost his balance.  But Little Billy
Corcoran, King of Legerdemain, succeeds.  With his prattling tongue and
dexterous fingers he effects the substitution, and the lost is

Little Billy finished triumphantly, and beamed at Martin's blank face.

"Substitution!" exclaimed Martin.

"Yes.  Must I place a tack upon your head, and smite it with a hammer,
in order to drive the point home?  Do you not comprehend?  Little Billy
sat upon a fire hydrant and very carefully picked a young gentleman's

"Why, then it was you placed the envelope containing the blank paper--"
commenced Martin.

"Exactly.  Your intuition is remarkable," stated the hunchback.
"But--please--do not look so shocked.  I assure you I do not commonly
pick young gentlemen's pockets.  It is a vulgar pastime, and I am an
accomplished villain.  Why, once upon a time, I wrote an epic poem.
What mere larceny can compare with that fell deed!  Besides, this
particular outrage upon the sanctity of your overcoat was not without
justification.  Observe: Ichi, the beast, picks Little Billy's pocket,
and the way to Fire Mountain is lost; Little Billy picks Mr. Blake's
pocket, and the way to Fire Mountain is regained!  Is it not
beautifully simple?"

"Way to Fire Mountain!  But I don't understand," answered Martin.

"Oh, don't listen to him," interrupted Ruth.  "Billy, you shut up!  You
will have plenty of chance to talk after awhile.  Captain, you tell
about finding the _Good Luck_."

"Squashed!" sighed Little Billy.



"It won't take me long to tell my part of the story," commenced Captain
Dabney.  "It happened last Summer, up in Bering Sea.  I dodged out of
the fog-bank, where I had been playing hide-and-seek with the Russian
gunboat, and saw the sun for the first time in a week, and at the same
time clapped eyes upon Fire Mountain.  Ay, I had my eyes then--good
eyes, too."

The captain drew his hand across his sightless eyes.  He had spoken in
the inflectionless voice of the blind, but Martin sensed a note of
bitterness, of revolt, in his voice.  Ruth patted his shoulder
comfortingly, and the old man continued.

"Fire Mountain, lad, is a volcano.  It is a volcanic island sticking up
out of the water several hundred miles off the Kamchatka coast.  But I
guess I had better tell you how we came to be in Bering last Summer.

"You know, lad, I am a trader.  Fur is a mighty profitable trade, if
you can get enough fur, and at reasonable prices, and for the last ten
years I have traded every Summer along the Kamchatka and Anadyr coasts.
I have left the seal rookeries alone--they are too well guarded
nowadays--and traded with the natives for their furs.

"The Russian Chartered Company has a monopoly of the fur trade in
Eastern Siberia, and, like any monopoly, they gouge.  They insist upon
about five thousand per cent. profit in their dealings with the
natives.  Naturally, the natives are more than anxious to trade with a
free-lance.  The Russian Government keeps a little tin-pot gun-boat
cruising up and down to prevent poaching, and if you are caught it
means the mines for all hands.  But, Lord!  Any live Yankee can dodge
those lubbers.  They have chased me every year for ten years, and I
have won free every time.

"The last chase they gave me was last August.  We sighted the Russian
just as we were coming out of a little bay below Cape Ozerni, where I
had had business with a tribe of Koriaks.  There was a nice little
offshore, ten-knot breeze blowing, and we cracked on and made for the

"The fog, you know, lad, is the poachers' salvation in the Bering.  In
the Summer, the fog lies over the water in banks, either low and thick,
or high and thin, caused by the Japan current meeting the Arctic
streams.  They call those waters the Smoky Seas, sometimes.  You don't
see the sun for weeks on end.

"This was a low-lying and thick bank we made for, and we slipped into
it with the Russian about three mile astern of us.  We were safe enough
then, though he entered after us.  We played a game of 'catch me,
Susie,' for three days.  It was funny.  We had enough wind to drive us
at about four knots; the fog was so thick you couldn't see half a
cable-length in any direction; and the bank seemed of limitless width.

"We could hear the gunboat's screw miles away, but he couldn't hear
us--though we'd give him a blat out of our patent fog-horn every now
and then, just to let him know we were still around.  Three days he
rampaged around, looking for us, and then he gave us up for a bad job.
The second morning after, we slipped out of the western rim of the bank
and found ourselves in sunshine, and almost on top of as wicked a
looking saw-tooth reef as I ever want to see.

"The reef encircled a mountain that stuck straight up out of the sea
for about two thousand feet.  It was an old volcano--still smoking.  We
sailed around it, and on the south side discovered a break in the reef,
a little bay bitten narrowly into the mountain, and a beach.

"Well, volcanic islands are common in Bering Sea.  But we were
interested in this one, both because of its strange appearance, and
because it was unmarked on the chart.  That last was not so unusual,
though.  The charts of that section of Bering are mostly guesswork.

"We got a boat over the side, and Little Billy and I were pulled
ashore, while Ruth kept the brig standing by.  I wanted to make a
closer inspection of the place, and the landing seemed good.

"The break in the reef was quite wide, and we sounded and found a
channel, and good holding ground inside.  We landed on a shell and
black-sand beach, about forty yards wide at high water, and a couple of
hundred long.

"The mountain stuck up sheer in front of us and on either side of the
bay.  It was full of caves--riddled like a sponge.  A strange place!
The mountain sides were overlaid for an unknown depth with black lava,
from ancient eruptions; and this lava had hardened and twisted into all
manner of shapes, all the way to the still smoking crater.  That is
what formed the caves--and formed also, tremendous columns, and
castles, and animals' heads.

"On the level with the little beach were several cave openings.  One
was a jutting rock that looked just like an elephant's head carved out
of the black lava, and beneath the outflung trunk, was a black opening
leading into the mountain.  There was the sound of running water from
within, and the wind howled like a sabbath of witches.  We didn't
investigate--no torches.  At one end of the beach we found three
springs of hot water squirting out of the rock--tasted sulphurous.

"The beach contained quite a bit of driftage, and some old timbers we
knew were from a wreck.  Then, 'way up on the beach, and behind some
big bowlders, we discovered the ribs of a whaleboat, a rust-eaten
sheath-knife, and a board that contained part of a ship's name.  The
lettering was almost effaced; we made out the letters LUC-- and beneath
it the word, BEDFORD.

"Well, the discovery of that wreckage told us that we weren't the first
to visit the place.  The word 'Bedford' was a good clew--it meant that
a New Bedford whaleship had been there at some time; and the wreckage
meant that she had probably been wrecked upon the reef.  There was
nothing else to be found, though we searched for evidences of
castaways.  But the wreck had happened a good many years ago, we could
tell from the appearance of the whaleboat's remains, and if there had
been any castaways, all signs of them had disappeared.

"We snooped around a little bit longer, felt a baby earthquake, and
then went back aboard the ship.  I marked the location on the chart,
and we squared away for the Kamchatka coast.  An hour later, the fog
shut the smoking mountain from our view and from my mind until Little
Billy made his discovery in Honolulu a few months ago.

"Now, Billy, you commence--it is your yarn from now on!"

The captain heaved a contented sigh, settled himself into a listening
attitude, and turned his blind face to the hunchback.



"My turn to talk?" exclaimed the lively hunchback.  "Fine!  Talking is
my favorite sport.  But before I commence, I will show friend Blake,
here, Exhibit B."

He reached into the cash-box and drew out a little book.  Martin
observed that it was apparently a pocket notebook, a cheap, dog-eared
thing with cracked cardboard covers.  Little Billy held it up before
Martin's eyes.

"This is Exhibit B," he continued.  "Read this, on the fly-leaf!"

Martin leaned closer and saw written in faded ink on the fly-leaf the

  John Winters,
  His Log.

  Bark _Good Luck_ of New Bedford.

  No. 2.

"Ah, I see your mind is leaping to conclusions!" went on Little Billy,
as surmise and understanding flitted across Martin's face.  "And
correct conclusions, I have no doubt.  But before I confirm your
suspicions, by reading excerpts from John Winters's Log, I had better
tell you how this little book came into our possession.

"So then, let us jump from Bering Sea to Honolulu, and from August to
January.  My narrative commences with the night I spent in Kim Chee's
Chamber of Horrors, while recovering from my semi-annual drunk.

"Oh, don't try to shield me--" as Ruth attempted to interpose--"Blake
may as well be made acquainted with my failing.  He would find out

Martin was taken aback by the violent interjection.  A grim cloud
rested for a moment on the hunchback's sunny face, and the man looked
suddenly aged.  Martin saw that Ruth's face was soft with sympathy.
But Little Billy's next words were enlightening.

"Perhaps I could justly pass the buck to my begettors," he said.  "I
came into the world handicapped--a crooked back, and a camel's desire
and capacity for liquids--alcoholic liquids.  I am a periodical
drunkard.  Every six months, or so, I am constrained by the imp within
me to saturate myself with spirits and wallow in the gutter, like a pig
in a sty."

"Oh, don't believe him---it is not so bad as that!" cried Ruth.

"It is indeed," asserted Little Billy.  "As witness this time, when I
fought the 'willies' in Kim Chee's rubbish room.  It must be admitted,
though, that this particular spree had a fruitful ending, for it was in
Kim Chee's that I discovered the secret of Fire Mountain.  It was this

"When we came down from the Bering in September, we sold our furs to a
Jap syndicate in Hakodate.  The captain has dealt regularly with that
Jap firm--they pay good prices, and ask few questions.  Then we left
Hakodate on our Winter trip--captain had the idea that he might run
across something worth while in the neighborhood of Torres Straits.
But, let me mention in passing, before we sailed we shipped a cook.  He
was a Jap named Ichi, an affable little man who couldn't speak very
good English, who seemed rather dull-witted for his race.  More of him,
later on.

"Down South we had the accident, and the captain's eyes were injured.
We made a record passage to Honolulu, arrived there the first week in
January, and the captain went ashore to the hospital.  The bosun and I
snugged down everything on board, and then I succumbed to my habit.  I
went ashore and tried to place Honolulu in the dry column by swallowing
all the whisky in town.  I suppose I had a glorious time--I don't
remember much about it.  But about a week later I came to one evening
in Kim Chee's place, with a dollar and five cents in my pocket, a
blazing stomach, and a troupe of goblins affixed to my person as a

"Kim Chee is the oldest, most wrinkled-up Chinaman in the world.  He
has had that drinking den in Honolulu for forty years--ran it in the
old days when the King and the Opium Ring governed Hawaii.  It has
always been a sailor resort; in the old days it was a whalemen's
rendezvous.  Fine old gentleman, Kim Chee.

"I couldn't drink any more, and I was jumpy.  So Kim Chee ushered me
into his Chamber of Horrors.  The Chamber of Horrors is an institution
at Kim's place.  It is a rubbish room, filled with the junk the old
Chinaman has collected during a lifetime, and whenever one of his
patrons gets the horrors from imbibing his bottled dynamite, Kim chucks
him into this room to die or get over it as the Fates decree.

"So I found myself in this room, with an old lantern for light.  I was
in a bad way.  I was seeing things.  Not alligators or monkeys, such as
the conventional drunk is supposed to see, but Things, faceless
formless Things who brushed against me and leered at me out of the
corners.  _Urrgh_!  The memory makes me quake.

"I was afraid of losing control of myself, and to keep myself occupied,
and my tormentors in the background, I commenced to paw over the junk
pile.  I was searching for something to read.

"Well, there was an assortment in that room that would have gladdened
the heart of any collector--native weapons from all the islands of the
Pacific, carved whalebone from the North, knickknacks from wherenot,
everything that a couple of generations of sailormen could leave behind
them.  There were sea-chests and sea-bags that belonged to men who, I
doubt not, were drowned before I was born.  But nowhere did I find what
I sought--something to read.

"I was about to give up the search when I picked up a small package,
oilskin-wrapped and securely tied with marlin.  It had lain in that
corner for a long, long time.  It was covered with dust, and the
oilskin was brittle dry.  The package felt like a book.  I opened it,
and found I had John Winters's diary in my hand.

"I read that inscription on the fly-leaf, but I must confess that I
didn't think of Fire Mountain at the moment.  That came later.  But I
was interested--a sailor's private log always interests a man who knows
the sea.  I sat down on one of the old chests, drew the lantern close
and commenced to read.  And as I read, I forgot my ills entirely.

"Now, I'll read you portions of this little book.  Afterward, if you
wish, Blake, you may read it through yourself.  It is worth while--the
record of a whaling voyage.  But just now I will confine myself to the
parts that directly affect us.  Queer thought, isn't it, that the words
this chap wrote a quarter of a century ago, whose face none of us has
ever seen, who is also twenty-five years dead, should affect our
several destinies?  Fate is a strange jade!

"But first, a word about the author of this log.  This John Winters was
the second mate of the whaling bark _Good Luck_ of New Bedford, one
gleans from reading the book.  The inscription on the fly-leaf mentions
the date, 1889, also the figure 'No. 2.'  The number two means that
this is the second log on the voyage.  Research through some old
'Marine Bulletins' the captain owns told us that the whaleship _Good
Luck_ left New Bedford on her last voyage in the year 1887, and that
she refitted in Honolulu in the Fall of 1889, reported missing, with
all hands, two years later.  Winters's log commences with the departure
of the ship from Honolulu in November, '89.

"The first entry that interests us is made several months later, on
March 23rd, 1890.  Position given as 158° E. 9°, 18' N.  That places
the _Good Luck_ somewhere in the Carolines, on the sperm whale grounds.
It goes:

This day Westphal fell from the fore rigging and broke his arm.  Still
no sign of fish.  The Old Man is in a bad temper because of our poor
luck, and he is talking of going north already.  Mr. Garboy says there
is a Jonah aboard.  I think he is the Jonah.  Westphal is a Dutch

"I read this entry mainly to acquaint you with John Winters," continued
Little Billy.  "You see, this was his private journal, and he was given
to expressing his true feelings concerning his shipmates.  This Mr.
Garboy he mentions was the chief mate of the _Good Luck_.  The next
entry I have marked is dated March 26th, and they are still on the
Caroline grounds.

This day I did cover myself with glory, and did take Garboy down a peg.
This morning we raised fish, a big school of cachalot, about three mile
to leeward.  We lowered four boats.  I had Silva for harpooner, the
best man on the ship.  The mate had Lord Joe, the Jamaica nigger.

Murphy and Costa bore south to head the school, and Garboy and I bore
straight for them.  Raced to see who would first back, and I won.
Backed a big bull, and Silva gave him the iron deep.  He flurried
without sounding, and I did not have to lance.  Garboy backed his whale
and Lord Joe made a poor cast, and they lost the fish.  I backed a cow,
and made fast.  She sounded, but we overhauled at her first blow, and I
lanced.  Short flurry.  Two fish in less than hour!

Garboy went for a big bull.  He had put Lord Joe at the sweep, and was
going to harpoon himself.  He backed, and made a fine cast.  But the
fish, instead of sounding, turned on their boat, and took it in his
mouth.  They all spilled clear except Lord Joe; the poor nigger was
caught.  Then the fish sounded, and made off with a tub of line.  I
picked up Garboy and his crew, all except Lord Joe--the nigger was
gone--and I made fast to the wreckage.  Garboy was wild.  I never heard
better swearing.

Costa and Murphy both made a kill, making four fish.  And Costa picked
up a lump of amber grease near his kill.  Captain Peabody was very
pleased with my work, but he dug into old Garboy.  The mate squirmed,
and it tickled me, because he has bragged so much about his record.  He
damned Lord Joe mightily, but Lord Joe don't mind, he is with Davy
Jones.  The ambergrease weighs twenty-five pounds.  A fine day's work!

"There you are, 'a fine day's work,' and the pestiferous Mr. Garboy
taken down a peg.  I read the entire entry, but the part that really
concerns us, is the part about the ambergris they picked up.  Tell me,
Blake, do you know anything about ambergris?"

"No, never heard of the stuff," answered Martin.

"Then we will have to digress a moment, while I attend to your
neglected education," said Little Billy.  "Because, from tonight, you
will think of ambergris by day, and dream of it by night--ambergris in
kegs, oodles of it!  I don't suppose your legal training acquainted you
with the technical details of the perfume industry?"

"No, I must plead ignorance," conceded Martin.

"Then pay attention," admonished Little Billy.  "Ambergris, my friend,
is the stuff John Winters calls ambergrease, like the good whaleman he
was.  It is a waxy substance, very light weight, that forms inside of a
sperm whale, and which friend whale belches forth when he gets the
colic from feasting too heartily upon squid.  Squid, otherwise
cuttle-fish, is a horrid monster, all arms and beak, which the cachalot
considers a most dainty tidbit.  Scientific sharks disagree as to the
exact process that forms ambergris, but they all agree that it comes
from an overindulgence in squid.  Ambergris is very rarely obtained,
especially nowadays when the whaling industry is almost dead, and it is
actually worth double its weight in gold.

"It is used as a base in the manufacture of the finest perfumes.  It is
the best perfume base obtainable--it has the virtue of making the odor
super-fine and enduring.  The demand for it is insistent, and
unsatisfied--doubly insistent at the present time, for the supply of
the best substitute for ambergris, the sac of the Himalayan musk deer,
has also been steadily waning, and has now almost been dried up by the
European War.  Today there is an almost unlimited market for ambergris,
and the lucky seller can command his own price.  The stuff is precious.
We looked up prices in Frisco and found that forty dollars an ounce
will be paid without haggling.

"So now you know what ambergris is, and its connection with the perfume
industry.  Soon you will see its connection with us.  Meanwhile, let us
to John Winters's journal again.

"The next relevant entry is five days later, March 31st:

This day we picked up another piece of ambergrease, floating past
overside.  Silva spotted it, and he gets ten pounds of tobacco as a
reward.  It weighed ten pounds.  The Old Man is very joyous; he says it
means good luck.  This afternoon we raised two islands, well wooded.
Captain Peabody knows these islands.  They are uninhabited, and the
north one is well watered.  Tomorrow we wood and water.

"And then, comes the smashing dénouement, the very next day, April 1,

This day there did happen to us the like which no whaleman aboard can
remember.  I will write it down like it happened.

This morning, at dawn, we came through the channel into the lagoon of
the north island.  It is a very difficult channel.  A current sweeps
the shore and runs through it like it was a big funnel, and all the
driftage hereabouts comes into the lagoon.  We let go anchor in ten
fathoms, a half mile from the beach.

I was given the wooding, and Costa was told off to water.  We towed the
casks ashore, and landed on a fine, white beach, that was littered with
driftage.  While the men were rolling the casks up to the spring
Captain Peabody told us about, Costa and I took a walk along the beach.
We came upon a great squid lying dead.  He had been bitten in two by a
cachalot, and had only three arms left, but they were of tremendous
length.  Then we saw pieces of other squid all along the beach.

Suddenly Costa ran forward, and gave a great shout, and bent over what
I had taken to be a big jelly-fish.  "By Gar--grease!" says he.  It was
a big lump of ambergrease, the biggest any man aboard has ever seen.
It weighs 198 pounds.

But this was not all.  Costa and I danced around our find like madmen,
and the hands came running up.  Then Silva gave a shout, and we found
he had discovered a lump of grease.  Then we looked along the beach,
and we found it was dotted with the precious stuff.

I sent Costa straightway to tell the captain, and he and Mr. Garboy
came ashore in a great hurry.  I never saw anybody take on like Garboy.
The Old Man brought everybody ashore, except the cook and chips, and we
combed the beach all the way around the lagoon, and around the seaward
rim of the island.  But we didn't find any grease except inside.  By
nightfall we had a big boatload, and we went aboard.  The captain and
Mr. Garboy are on the poop now, helping the cooper stow it, themselves,
so afraid are they that some of it will be smuggled forward.  The Old
Man is dancing with joy.

"There you are--all of that entry.  Just think of those two chaps
dancing around their find, beside a giant dead squid!  I wager that was
the supreme moment of their greasy lives.  I wager that old spouter
seethed with excitement and gossip that night.  No wonder the Old Man
danced!  How would you like to stumble on a windfall like that, Blake?
But let us get on.

"I'll read the entry for three days later.  In the interim, they had
lain to anchor in the lagoon, and continued their search for more

We did not get any more grease today, though we raked and scraped the
beach.  There is no more.  The Old Man says he is satisfied, and we
leave tomorrow morning.  Everybody is speculating about how so much
grease came to be here.  Nobody knows for sure.  Garboy says that this
is a great place for squid, and that the school of Cachalot we were in
a couple of weeks ago had been here feeding.  He says that something
was the matter with the squid and that the fish got sick and vomited
the grease.

I don't know, it may be so, the stuff is full of squid beaks.  But
Garboy is too cocksure.  Anyway we have the stuff, and stowed safe in
the lazaret.  Counting what we picked up before, we have 1,500 pounds.
A great fortune for the owners, and a fine bonus for us.  When I get
home, I will buy a farm, and settle down ashore.

"So--1,500 pounds, and worth more than half a million dollars,
according to prices paid in those days--today, worth a million.  John
Winters might well indulge in dreams of bucolic bliss; the whalemen,
you know, received a substantial bonus on ambergris finds, over and
above their regular lay.

"The log for the next few days is filled with the various speculations
rife as to the origin of the treasure, of visions of quiet farm life in
New England, and of hopes concerning a girl named Alice.  Then, on
April 25th, 144°, 48' E. Longitude, 20° 33' N. Latitude--that shows
they were at the northern limits of the Ladrones--he writes:

We are to have another season up north, in Okhotsk and Bering seas.
The Old Man and Mr. Garboy have had a fine argument about it.  Garboy
says we have enough to make the owners happy, and give us all a fine
lay, and that we can't trust the foremast hands with all the grease

Captain Peabody says he is going home with a full ship, grease or no
grease, that the hands may be ----, that they haven't the guts to get
at the grease anyway, and that it isn't the mate's place to give him
advice.  So Garboy shut up, and we are bound north after the baleen.
Well, I think Garboy is right, though he hasn't any business offering
advice to the Old Man.  I am glad the Old Man shut him up.  Anyway, a
full ship means more dollars, and I will need plenty of dollars to
start life ashore with.  I will have enough to buy the old Wentworth
place.  I think Alice will take me, and if she don't, there are plenty
of other girls in the world.

"You see, friend Winters is indulging in the time-honored pastime of
spending his payday before he has it; and of vowing the usual sailor
vow to leave the sea and buy a farm.  Well, perhaps the poor devil was
in earnest; but he didn't have a chance to achieve his ambition.

"Now we will skip to the last regular entries in the book.  They are
dated several months later, August of 1890, and the _Good Luck_ has
been on the northern grounds for some time.  No position is given, for
reasons you will appreciate.  First is dated August 15th:

Still in the fog.  We have been three weeks without a sight, fogbound,
and blundering God knows where.  The breeze holds from the southwest at
about three knots, but the bank is moving with the wind.  It is so
thick we can not see a ship's length in any direction.  The current is
strong and westerly.

I know the Old Man is worried, because the Kamchatka coast is close
a-lee.  Garboy says he was in a bank in these seas one time for ten
weeks.  I think he is a liar.  I am thinking a lot about Alice.

"Next entry two days later, August 17th," said the hunchback.

Still fogbound.  Heavy groundswell from sou'east.  Garboy says it means
a sou'east blow, and I think he is right.  Well, anything to blow away
this cursed fog!  The Old Man is drunk today.  The old skinflint never
hands out a swig to any of us, though.  We must be near land, for we
hear birds flying above the fog.  All hands standing by, and we are
keeping the best lookout possible.  The Old Man should sober up, and
attend to business.

"There, that is the last regular entry, the last one he wrote upon the
ship.  Here is the next one--observe the different ink!  This is
written in red, the same color as those figures upon the skin.  I think
Winters wrote with one of those red writing-sticks you buy on the China
coast; he probably had one in his pocket.  This entry tells of
tragedy--mark how it begins:

May God have mercy!  I will write down our plight, though I know there
is small chance of these words reaching civilization.  I sit in the
window of the dry cave, on the Fire Mountain, and write by the light of
the midnight sun!

Manuel Silva and I are the sole survivors of the wreck of the _Good
Luck_.  Thirty-five were lost.  We are cast away on a barren island.
It is a volcanic mountain, filled with black caves.  There is a
bottomless hole that belches steam, and the earth shakes.  We do not
know our latitude or longitude.  God help us, we only know we are cast
away in the empty Bering sea, near the Asia coast!

It happened a week ago.  I had the deck.  We were running before a hard
gale from the sou'east, and the Old Man was drunk.  It was very thick,
and impossible to keep a good lookout.  Then, just after two bells in
the middle watch, I heard breakers.  I had only time to order the wheel
up, when we struck.  We jammed between two monster rocks, and the masts
went by the board, and the ship broke in two.  The fore part went to
pieces, and all the hands forward, except Silva, who was at the wheel,
went to.

The stern was wedged fast.  Garboy and Costa gained the deck from the
cabin.  The others must have drowned in their bunks.  We launched the
quarterboat, but it swamped, and we were spilled into the boiling sea.
I was washed free of the reef, and made the beach.  I found Silva there.

We were 'most frozen, and bruised badly.  I got out the matches I had
in the waterproof packet I carry this log in, and we made a fire of
driftwood in one of the caves, and warmed ourselves.  Then, we looked
for the others, it being daylight, except for the couple of hours after
midnight.  But we found not a body.

We salvaged all the wreckage we could reach.  It was not much, for the
currents swept most of the stuff to sea.  We got a cask of beef, and
one of biscuit.  The quarterboat came ashore, only a little damaged.
We also got the wreckage of No. 4 whaleboat, and her gear, and some
timbers, and a handy billy.

That day the gale was spent, and next day was clear and calm.  We
repaired the quarterboat with stuff from the whaleboat, and she is
tight.  Then we pulled off to the wreck, and succeeded in boarding her.
Then the Devil entered into us, and we were possessed by greed.  We had
planned to get clothes, and stores from the lazaret; but when we got
into the lazaret, we had no thought but for the treasure of
ambergrease.  We spent all the day getting the ambergrease to shore.
We were greatly tired by the labor, and, since the wreck showed no
signs of breaking up, we went into a cave and turned in.

While we slept, it came on to blow again.  When we awoke, the seas were
breaking over the wreck.  The bay was quiet, sheltered by the mountain,
so our stuff on the beach had come to no harm.  But during the day the
wreck broke up, and swept to sea.  We salvaged but one box of
candles--not a particle of the clothes and food we so sorely need.  So,
doth Providence justly punish us for our greed!

Silva was greatly disheartened, but I braced him up.  We set about to
explore the caves, with the candles; for we wanted a dry cave to sleep
it, and to stow the ambergrease in.  The ground-level caves are all wet
from steam, though they are warm.  So, we went into the mountain
through the Elephant Head, toward the great noise.  We came to a windy
cave, where there was a great Bottomless Hole, that the noise came out
of.  Silva went half mad with terror, for he is very superstitious, but
I saw it was steam.  But it is an evil place.  And afterward we found
the hole in the roof that led to this dry cave.

This window I write by is the only daylight opening of the dry cave,
and it is full forty feet above the beach.  But we had no nerve to look
deeper into the black guts of this awful place, and we decided to use
this cave.  So, I rigged the handy billy, and we hoisted all the grease
in through the window, and stowed it.  And we have taken up our
quarters here, and I have made a ladder from the rope of the handy
billy, so we can come in through the window, and don't have to pass
through that fearsome place where the hole is.

"There--that was written a week after the wreck," said Little Billy.
"The next one, three days later:

We have been here ten days now, and I think things look mighty black.
Silva's nerve is gone, and I have to fight to keep mine.  The mountain
shakes continuously, and we fear it will erupt.  And always, there is
the noise, the moaning in the hole, and the great rumble.  It has got

Silva has gone down to the beach to get shellfish.  We are saving the
beef, as much as we can.  I am glad Silva is out of my sight.  He is
mad--and, God help me!  I fear I am going mad, too.  He sits and looks
at me by the hour, just looks, looks, and says not a word, and his eyes

I am feared of him.  He is a murderer.  He told me so, when his
conscience mastered him.  He told me why he feared the hole.  He drank
of the hot spring, and when he got a bellyache, he thought he was
dying.  Then he told me that he was one of the hands on the _Argonaut_,
a dozen years ago, and that there was mutiny, and that he strangled the
captain with his hands.  And he says the moaning down in the hole is
the captain calling him.  He is very superstitious.  Now he prays by
the hour, and then curses horribly.  And he goes down to the edge of
the hole and howls at the captain.  I try to talk with him, and plan to
reach the mainland in the quarterboat, but he shakes his head, and just
looks, looks.  I have taken his sheath knife, but I fear to wake and
find him strangling me.  But I will leave here, whether he will go or
not.  Better to die at sea, than in this black place!

"Now--the next entry.  Day or two later, I judge," said Billy.

He is gone!  He was sitting opposite me, and suddenly he sings out
something in his own lingo, and sprang to his feet, and rushed down
toward the hole leading to the windy cave.  He was laughing awfully.  I
followed--but could not catch him.  He jumped into the hole and the
noise stopped.  And I stayed through the shake, and saw the lights from
the pit.  God help me, I wanted to jump, too!

I am going to leave this place tomorrow.  I have repaired the
quarterboat, and hopeless or not, I will try to reach Kamchatka.  It is
better than to stay here, and go mad, and follow Silva!

I have written the secret of the cave on a piece of the lining of my
parka, though God knows if I shall ever need it.  I have a little beef,
and biscuit, and the breaker from the wreck of the whaleboat.  Little
enough!  If I only had the latitude and longitude of this place, I
might guess my chances.  But--not even a compass!

"The next entry is just a scrawl," said Little Billy.  "It is barely

I am in the fog--the terrible gray fog!  No water!  I see Alice in the

"And then--the end."

I see Silva sitting opposite me.  He looks, looks!  Lord God, hast thou
deserted me?



There was a moment's silence as Little Billy finished reading.  There
was in the hunchback's face, and in the faces of the girl and the old
captain, a somber understanding of John Winters's fate.

The whaleman's pitiful experience was a commonplace of the sea, and it
required no effort of mind on their part to vision the tragedy of an
open boat on an empty sea.  But Martin was more sharply impressed.  The
sea held as yet no commonplaces for him, and the poignant question that
ended the castaway's chronicle kindled a flame of pity.  Martin had the
picture mind, and a habit of dramatizing events.

As Little Billy read, Martin had unconsciously followed the narrative
with his mind's eye, building a series of vivid, connected pictures.
He had witnessed the battle with the whales, the finding of the
treasure, had peered baffled into the blanket of Bering fog, had seen
the leaping breakers at the base of the smoking mountain, had
excursioned through the caves by Winters's side, and, at last, had
beheld clearly the little open boat, with its despairing occupant,
disappear into the gray mist.

"The poor devil!" cried Martin.

His words broke the spell of silence that was upon the table.

"Yes--the poor devil!" echoed Little Billy.  "My very words, as I
finished reading, there in Kim Chee's place.  'The poor devil!'  A
fitting epitaph."

"But why an epitaph?" asked Martin quickly.  Visions of an
eleventh-hour rescue were surging through his mind.  He felt one was
necessary to round out his reel of pictures.  "Could he not have been
rescued after making that last entry?  Why, he must have been rescued!
How else could the journal have reached Honolulu?"

"He was picked up," interposed Ruth.

"By another whaler," added Little Billy.  "Sick to death, and
completely lunatic.  He never recovered his reason.  He died in Kim
Chee's place.  But I will continue my yarn, and you will see.

"You can imagine, of course, the progressive transformation I
underwent, while curled up on that old sea-chest, perusing the log.  I
began merely with the intention of forcing my mind away from myself,
and thereby quieting my booze-jangled nerves; in a moment, I was
interested; then I was excited by the whalemen's discovery of the
ambergris, and lastly I was overwhelmed by the fact that John Winters's
Fire Mountain was identical with the _Cohasset's_ Fire Mountain.  The
description clinched that fact.  And to make more certain, I recalled
the wreckage the captain and I had come across, and the board with the
nearly effaced lettering upon it.  The letters upon that board were,
'LUC,' and beneath, the word 'BEDFORD.'  Of course, it was the remnant
of '_Good Luck_, of New Bedford.'

"It was about four o'clock in the morning when I finished the book.  I
summoned the Chinaman, straightway.  Kim was asleep, and he came
grumbling, in answer to my call.  He thought I wanted drink, but John
Winters had effectually doused the flame in my vitals.  I had happened
upon the probable clew to a vast treasure, and the thought of it
obsessed me.

"I put the question to Kim as to how the journal came to be in the
Chamber of Horrors.  It was a poser for Kim.  His old yellow face
wrinkled into a thousand dark creases, in the lantern's dim light, and
his shrewd, beady eyes wandered uncertainly between the book and my
face.  But at last he remembered, and in his forcible and inimitable
manner he enlightened me.

"'Why flor you sing out?  Me catchie one piecie dleam.  You no catchie
'lisky?  Why flor you want?  Me savvy blook.  Long time--one time come
glease ship.  Up no'lth, sailorman he catchie one fellow walk about one
piecie boat alone.  Velly sick.  Catch 'im bats in 'liskers.  Bring um
Kim Chee.  Sailorman go 'way-- ---- 'tief!  No pay.  Qleer fellow velly
sick.  No eat, no dlink, velly 'ot--all time tlalk, tlalk, about plecie
glease.  ---- fool clazy!  Bimeby die.  Flind piecie blook under
clothes.  Kim Chee no savvy.  Why flor you want blook?  'Ow much you
got?  Dolla flive---all light, you take.  Me go bed.'

"From which discourse, I gathered that Kim Chee had been rudely
interrupted in the midst of a sweet dream; that he could not fathom my
sudden distaste for whisky; that a long time ago a whaleship had come
into port with a sick man aboard, whom they had picked up in an open
boat, up north; that they had brought the sick man to Kim, and departed
without paying over any money; that Kim Chee had cared for the sick
man, until the latter died; that the sick man had been out of his head,
had talked constantly of 'grease,' had been crazy; that Kim had removed
the diary from the man's body, after death; that he would let me have
it gladly for a dollar and five cents; that he was going back to bed
and didn't want to be disturbed again by the unaccountable vagaries of
a dipsomaniacal white man.

"I didn't bother Kim again.  Indeed, I clasped my cheaply purchased
treasure close, hied myself with speed to the docks, and had myself
pulled off to the brig.  My spree was ended, and I felt that I held in
my hand the best piece of fortune that had befallen the happy family in
many a day.

"I reasoned, you see, that the treasure of ambergris was still in its
hiding-place on Fire Mountain--and subsequent events have not shaken
that belief.  I reasoned that Winters had been picked up some time
after he had made his last entry in the log, that he was out of his
head when rescued, and that he never regained sanity.

"His rescuers apparently did not bother to search him, or else, with
the cunning of the crazed, Winters concealed from them his journal.  If
they had happened upon it, they would surely have appropriated it.
Their dumping him off on Kim Chee was not so heartless as it
sounds--the sick man was undoubtedly better off ashore in Hawaii than
aboard a cruising whaler, and Kim Chee is famed for his charity from
one end of the Pacific to the other.

"At breakfast that morning, I acquainted Ruth with the discovery, and
read to her the passages I read to you.  It was an exciting breakfast.

"We were waited upon by Ichi, the little Jap we shipped as cook in
Hakodate.  Polite, stupid, unfamiliar with the English language, we did
not think it necessary to guard our speech against him.  Indeed, we
never gave him a thought, and we discussed my find pro and con very
freely.  We dwelt upon the value of the treasure, verified the _Good
Luck's_ reported loss by research, congratulated ourselves upon our
knowledge of the position of Fire Mountain--all in the hearing of the
self-effacing Ichi.  We were only daunted by the prospect of searching
blindly through that cave-riddled mountain.  Then, Ruth found the code."

"Yes, it was pure luck," interposed Ruth.  "I was examining the book,
and I noticed a crack in the length of the cover.  I looked more
closely and discovered that the cover had been slit lengthwise, and
that a piece of skin had been inserted."

"That is it--Exhibit A," said Little Billy.  He pointed to the white
strip on the table.  "We recognized it instantly as the piece of parka
lining Winters mentions using to write upon the secret of the cave.  It
is a piece of the skin of an unborn reindeer.  The Kamchatka tribes
line their fur garments with that skin, and Winters had evidently
obtained his parka from them.  The writing, you see, is all numerals."

Martin picked up and inspected the skin curiously.  Unborn reindeer
skin!  He rubbed the glossy substance between his fingers.  It felt
uncanny to his touch, this relic of a long-past tragedy, this message
from the world's end.  And the message seemed to be no more than a
faded jumble of figures.  He read them carefully, searching in vain for
some hint of meaning.


[Transcriber's note: the first two rows of the above numbers in the
source book had been defaced to the point of being almost unreadable.
A best guess was made on some of them.]

"But how do you know this is a code?" Martin asked curiously.

"Three excellent reasons," said Little Billy.  "First, John Winters
mentions writing down the secret of the treasure's location, and we
discover this skin; second, your genial former employer deciphered
these figures for the affable Ichi; third, Ruth and I proved the
correctness of the deciphering this morning.

"I guess I had better acquaint you with the method of this means of
communication.  I don't know how a simple seaman, like John Winters
seems to have been, could have become familiar with the art of
cryptography--probably from reading, possibly devised the thing
himself.  It is very simple once you have the key--quite useful, too.
Ruth and I talked to each other through a wall by this code, back there
in Bob Carew's lair.  Consultation with Poe's _Gold Bug_, and an hour's
application that morning after breakfast, gave me the key, though I had
no chance that day to discover more.  It is what is called a
'checker-board' code.  Here, I will draw it out!"

The hunchback turned to a blank space in the diary and rapidly sketched
a diagram.  He handed it across, for Martin's interested inspection,
and Martin beheld the following:

     1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
  1  a | b | c | c | e
  2  f | g | h | i | j
  3  l | m | n | o | p
  4  q | r | s | t | u
  5  v | w | x | y | z

    Number 6 for spacing
    between words

"You will observe that the letter 'k' is missing," said Little Billy.
"You use 'c' for 'k,' and to write a message, you merely write down the
line the letter is on, and its position on that line.  Thus, in
Winters's message, the first two numerals are '43.'  That means, fourth
line, third letter, or the letter 's.'  You see, you take the numbers
in pairs--that is, until you reach a number 6.

"There are no numbers in the code above 5, so Winters used a 6 to
indicate the spaces between words.  To illustrate: Winters's secret
begins with the numbers 43344544236.  Pair these numbers off, and we
have 43-34-45-44-23-6.  Decipher with the diagram, and we have, 4th
line 3rd letter, or 's,' 3rd line 4th letter, or 'o,' 4th line 5th
letter, or 'u,' 4th line 4th letter, or 't,' 2nd line 3rd letter, or
'h.'  That makes s-o-u-t-h, or the word 'south.'

"But there is no need of my continuing the translation.  Friend Smatt
has kindly attended to that for us.  Here it is."

Martin took the proffered piece of paper, the piece of paper covered
with Smatt's handwriting, that had come out of the envelope.  He read
in Lawyer Smatt's bold, angular hand,

South end beach--in elephant head--4 starboard--windy cave--2
port--aloft--north corner dry cave.

"That marks the location of our prospective, odorous loot," continued
the hunchback.  "No doubt about it.  The captain and I remember very
well the cave opening in the rock shaped like an elephant's head, on
the south end of Fire Mountain's beach.  It is up to us to get there

"But how did Smatt--" commenced Martin.

"How did Smatt come to be in possession of the skin?  I am coming to
that.  The Jap, Ichi, brought it to him.

"That morning, after Ruth and I had discussed the diary, Ruth set out
for shore to visit the captain in the hospital.  She took Winters's
book along with her to read to the captain--good thing she did, as it
turned out.  I stayed aboard and tackled the code.  As I said, I
discovered the key after an hour's or so application.  That is, I had
fathomed the checkerboard, had drawn a diagram, and had begun to
decipher.  Then my much-abused body went on strike.

"You remember, I was just at the end of an extended spree.  For a week
I had swum in stimulants and gone without rest.  I was near a breakdown
when Kim Chee took me in hand.  The discovery of the log braced me up.
But all of a sudden, while I was working here in the cabin, over that
scrap of reindeer skin, I collapsed.

"I called for Ichi and ordered black coffee.  I remember he answered my
call by materializing almost instantly at my side.  He must have been
lingering behind my chair--though I do not recollect seeing him about
the cabin after Ruth left for shore.  He brought me a large cup of
black coffee.  I drank it, and went promptly to sleep.  It may have
been a drug, or it may have been nature having her way with me."

"It was drugged coffee the Jap gave you," stated Captain Dabney with
finality.  "I know those yellow imps!"

Martin started at the blind man's sudden interjection into the
conversation.  Since he had concluded his story, Captain Dabney had sat
listening, immobile and silent.  At times Martin had suspected him of
dozing.  But now, his emphatic outburst proved that he had followed
Little Billy's words closely.

"That Ichi lad was no dunderhead," continued the captain.  "He was
playing a part aboard here.  He was commissioned by that Hakodate crowd
to discover our trading points--if this ambergrease affair hadn't
turned up and tempted him, he would have stayed with us and made the
trip north this Summer.  Then next year a couple of Jap schooners would
have gone ahead of us, peddling booze to the tribes, and killing the
goose that laid the golden egg.  Blast their yellow hides!  I never
traded with a trustworthy Jap in my life."

"Yes, he was doubtless a spy of the syndicate," assented Little Billy.
"Certainly he was playing a part aboard here, for when I ran across him
yesterday morning, in Frisco, he was anything but the cookie of a
wind-jammer, and his English showed a remarkable improvement.

"In any event, whether Ichi drugged my coffee or not, I was dead to the
world as soon as I swallowed it.  When the boatswain came aboard--he
had been ashore for a couple of days, searching for me--in the middle
of the afternoon, he found me asleep in my chair.  He thought I was
drunk, and he picked me up and carried me to my bunk.  When Ruth came
aboard later, bringing the captain with her, it was discovered that
Ichi had vanished, and Ruth had to prepare the cabin supper that night.
I slept till morning.  When I awoke, I discovered that Winters's code
had vanished with the cook."

"We also discovered that Ichi had tried unsuccessfully to open the safe
in the captain's room," said Ruth.  "He was undoubtedly after the old
log book that contained the entry about the discovery of Fire Mountain,
including the latitude and longitude."

"Well, he was successful enough in making off with the code," said
Little Billy.  "We combed Honolulu for him that day, without result.
Two ships had left the afternoon before--one bound for the Orient, the
other for California.  Our missing cookie appeared upon the passenger
list of neither vessel, but we concluded that he had taken steerage
passage for Yokohama.

"The loss of the code was a serious matter.  Of course, we knew the
location of the island, and we were determined to square away for Fire
Mountain as soon as the season permitted, but we were rather dismayed
by the prospect of having to search blindly through that labyrinth of
caves for the _Good Luck's_ treasure.  That Winters and Silva had
stowed the stuff in some well-concealed place was evident from the
entry in the log, and from the use of a code.  We were dubious of
success in our quest until last night.

"Jump from Hawaii to San Francisco.  We came up to Frisco, you know, to
consult some specialists about the captain's eyesight.  Yesterday, the
captain came aboard from the hospital.  We were lying off Angel Island,
ready for sea, and awaiting the captain's word to up anchor and away
for the Bering--it will be the open season up there by the time we have
completed the passage.

"Yesterday was a holiday with us.  It was the occasion of our revered
and beloved chief mate's twenty-first natal day, and in the morning,
the boatswain and I set forth for shore in search of suitable

"I know--you were setting forth to buy flowers," broke in Martin.
"Bosun told me--you got----"

"We got lost from each other; intentionally lost on my part, as I
confessed to you.  Well, friend Ichi was the innocent cause of that
harrowing separation.

"It happened in one of the many thirst parlors that line Market Street.
The bosun and I had stepped in to wet our whistles, and, looking out of
the open door, I was astounded to perceive our truant cookie pass by.
The bosun was occupied at the moment with a nickel poker machine.  I
did not disturb him--he is a hasty, straightforward person and unfitted
for a subtle pursuit.  I slipped through the door and fell into the
wake of the Jap.  But what a metamorphosed sea-cook I trailed!
Resplendent in fine feathers, Ichi looked more like a diplomat or
banker than anything else.

"I trailed him through the streets for an hour.  Once he stopped before
a news-stand and purchased a paper, and I was close enough to overhear
him speak perfect English to the clerk.  He finally led me into an
office building, up an elevator, and to the office of one Josia Smatt,
Attorney at Law.  Ichi entered this office.  I, following by the
elevator's next trip, saw him disappear through the door.  I applied my
eagle eye to the aperture intended for keys and spying, and saw you, my
dear Blake, direct the Oriental blossom into an inner office.

"Along the hall meandered one of the loquacious brotherhood, book under
arm, conquest in his eye.  Inspiration struck me a thump.  I fell in
the way of the book agent and became a ready victim of his wiles.  For
a consideration, I became owner of the volume.  As soon as he had my
money, the agent made for the stairs, evidently fearing I would repent
my bargain.  When he had disappeared, I adopted his role and burst in
upon the hapless clerk of Lawyer Smatt with the matchless 'Compendium
of Universal Knowledge.'

"You know what transpired then, for you were that very hapless clerk.
You were very pleasant to the poor book agent, Blake, but you refused
to be seduced by the alluring description I gave my wares."

"By George!  You talked like a sure-enough book pest," asserted Martin.
"But I noticed something phony about you--your tanned face, and the
tattoo marks on your arms.  I remember, I wondered how a book agent
came by such ornaments."

"Yes, and I noticed you wondered why my eyes were roving around your
office," added Little Billy.  "I was looking for Ichi.  I placed him in
that inner office, heard his voice, and the voice of your employer.  I
was wondering what to do to get past you and attempt to spy upon them,
and then Smatt helped me out by summoning you.  Do you recollect, when
you dismissed me and entered the inner office, you saw me leaving the
outer office?  Yes, you did--not.  You had no sooner closed the inner
office-door behind you than I was at the keyhole.

"I tried first to overhear.  Nothing doing.  Couldn't distinguish but
an occasional word.  Then, I placed my eye to the keyhole.  I saw you
standing before the desk, Ichi staring at you, and Smatt addressing
you.  I saw Smatt hand over the envelope.  I was morally certain it
contained the code, from the care Smatt exercised and the interest Ichi
showed.  Then you started for the door, and I had to beat a hasty
retreat.  I guess I reached the hallway about the same instant you
opened the door from the inner office."

"I felt your presence!" cried Martin, recalling of a sudden his feeling
of that moment the previous afternoon.  "I remember I looked out----"

"--Into the hall," finished Little Billy.  "Yes--I was concealed around
the corner of the cross corridor.  I saw you.  I left the building at a
double quick and made for the water-front.  I went aboard and told Ruth
and the captain what I had discovered.  Then Ruth and I went ashore.

"I was sure you had the code in your possession, and I had overheard
enough to know that you were to deliver the envelope to somebody, some
place, last night.  So, you were the unconscious burden of our
thoughts, the prospective victim of our wiles.

"I had obtained your name from the janitor of the office building, by
pretending I was searching for a friend who worked in one of the
offices.  Consultation of the city directory gave us your home address,
and we headed in that direction.  First, though, we picked up the
bosun, hard by where I had deserted him.  His condition was rather
bibulous, but owing to his hollow legs and ivory dome, he was
clear-headed and able to fall in with our plans.  A shrewd-enough
person is the bosun, an actor of no mean ability.  His strategy served
us well in the evening.

"Well, having the bosun, we set forth to gather information concerning
your own estimable self.  We went to your boarding-house.  I donned the
role of census-taker for the new city directory, and interviewed the
chatty Mrs. Meagher.  From her I learned the names and occupations of
all the boarders in the house; specifically, I was informed of your
orphaned and comparatively friendless condition, your age, your lodge,
your studious habits, and your very, very respectable residence.  From
another source we later learned of your adorable curly brown hair, your
calm, gray eyes, your strange aversion for the dangerous sex, even
though they be 'puffick loidies.'  A fellow lodger of yours gave us
most of our information--or, let us say, a companion lodger.  A lady, a
'puffick loidy,' a gimlet-eyed and talkative maiden, with a glorious
crown of golden hair--though, alas, I fear 'tis a drug-store gold."

"Good Lord--Miss Pincher!" exclaimed Martin.

He felt his ears burning, and knew he was blushing.  Confound that
manicure girl!  "Adorable hair--calm eyes" indeed!  He shot a glance at
Ruth.  She was laughing at his discomfiture.

"We discovered she lodged in your house and we trailed her to the
beauty parlor where she labors.  Ruth pumped her."

"Oh, you are a fine favorite of hers," rallied Ruth.  "She swears by
you, Mr. Blake.  I happened to casually mention your name, and she was
charmed by the coincidence of your being a mutual friend.  She gave you
a very fine character indeed, though, she hated to admit, you were not
as gallant as you might be.  'Regular goop with goils,' I believe she

"Silly little mush-head," mumbled Martin, greatly confused.  "Suppose
she told you everything she knew about me."

"Yes, and then some," remarked Little Billy.  "Oh, Ruth has your entire
history, Martin Blake.  But I would not blush about it.  Indeed, if my
record were as good as yours, I would straighten my back.  Ruth came
out of that beauty-parlor with a record that goes something like this:
very good-looking, muscular, studious, poor but honest, does not drink
or smoke to excess, though has been known to swear violently and
indulge in combat on occasion of coalman flogging horse up a hill, is
impervious to wiles of beskirted siren, be her hair ever so yellow, and
her eyes ever so blue.

"Frankly, we were disappointed by your uncompromising rectitude, friend
Martin.  We were, you see, greatly desirous of obtaining that envelope
you had in your pocket.  We had hoped to discover some weakness, some
vice, in your composition--a fondness for drink, or for women, or for
cards--something we might use as a leverage to pry loose from you that
envelope.  We failed in our quest, and we had to abandon our safe
scheme of cunning in favor of more direct and violent methods.

"We hired an automobile for the day--I'll wager that garage man was
peevish when he discovered his machine abandoned in an alleyway,
today--and Ruth and the bosun departed for that neighborhood that
lodged you.  I waited around the office, and when you left I trailed
you home.

"I met Ruth and bosun, and we hit upon a plan.  I went to a clothing
store and purchased a suit of men's clothes, and overcoat, and a cap.
Ruth donned them in the privacy of the car.  Then, she and I took up
our position in the dark doorway of the vacant house next door to you."

"Why, I recall!  I saw a chap in a gray overcoat!" cried Martin.

"On the steps as you came out of the house," supplemented Little Billy.
"Yes, that was Ruth.  You came out before we expected you, and we were
not prepared.  You see, we had decided to hold you up.  I was to shove
a revolver in your face, and Ruth was to relieve you of the envelope.
Your popping out so unexpectedly upset us.

"Ruth sneezed, and attracted your attention, and then she lost her wits
and beat it down the street.  If you had looked more keenly into that
doorway next door, you would have seen yours-truly lurking nervously
there.  But you went straightway down the street yourself, and, in
truth, I was not sorry that accident spoiled our coup.  Neither Ruth,
nor I, liked very well the idea of sticking up that active-appearing
and uncertain quantity termed 'Martin Blake,' not to mention our
scruples anent law-breaking violence.

"Well, the hold-up was off.  Ruth beat you to the corner, and informed
the waiting bosun of the failure.  The bosun was properly valorous.  He
would attend to the 'blasted law shark.'  So, while Ruth sought refuge
in the automobile, the bosun lay in wait for you by the corner.  He was
to grasp you in those enormous hands of his, subdue you properly, and
extract the treasure from your pocket--Ruth had told him which pocket.

"But, friend Martin, your penchant for making friends on sight saved
you.  The bosun's scheme was to pick a quarrel with you, but when you
encountered him, your courtesy disarmed him.  He confided this morning
that you were 'such a proper little lad, I didn't 'ave the 'eart to 'it
'im.'  So, to gain time, and to boost his courage, he carted you into
the saloon and bought you a drink.  And a good thing he did; otherwise
we would have been in ignorance of Wild Bob Carew's joining this game.
Ay, and Ruth might have disappeared and left us in ignorance of her

A sudden, forcible, inelegant oath, ripped forth by the blind captain,
startled the group.  It was not an epithet to use before a
woman--though Martin did not think of that at the moment, nor did Ruth
appear shocked.  Martin was surprised by the wild rage that suddenly
suffused Captain Dabney's serene countenance.

"I'll make that renegade hound pay!" swore the captain, thumping the
table in emphasis.  "I told him I'd kill him if he bothered Ruth again.
By Heaven, blind though I be, I'll keep my word!  I'll see him, and
recognize him, when we meet--the lying cur!"

The outburst ceased as suddenly as it had commenced, and the captain's
working features assumed instantly their accustomed immobile serenity.
Martin noticed that the hunchback's face was sober, and that Ruth's
face was white.  He judged that the captain was not indulging in vain

"Wild Bob Carew is the jinx of the happy family," said Little Billy,
after a moment.  "He is a human devil right enough.  And the discovery
that he is interested in this affair was serious and important news for
us.  I understand it took the wind out of the bosun's sails for a
moment.  You see, before your conversation with the bosun in that
little tavern we did not know where you were taking the envelope.  You
mentioned 'Carew' and 'Black Cruiser,' and we were enlightened.

"But the bosun failed in his undertaking, after all.  He slipped on the
floor, and your agility saved you.  You hopped a street-car and escaped
the bosun's clutches.

"You didn't shake us off, though.  We picked up the bosun, and followed
you in the machine, keeping your car in sight the entire way to the
Ferry Building.  During the journey, the bosun communicated his news.
At the Ferry we shot ahead of you, ditched the machine in an alleyway,
and prepared the new plan I had evolved.

"I dodged into a pawn-shop and bought a legal-size envelope and some
sheets of paper.  Then I doubled back ahead of you and awaited your
coming, perching myself on a handy fire-hydrant.  The rest you know.
My eloquence charmed you, and while you so kindly encircled me with
your arm, to keep me from falling, I picked your pocket of the treasure
and substituted the trash I had prepared.

"Such was our campaign against the person of Martin Blake.  You went on
and entered the dive.  I dodged across to the wharf where the bosun
and, I thought, Ruth, were awaiting me in the brig's dingey.  I found
the bosun, but not Ruth.  She had been too curious to remain in safety.
She had left the bosun in charge of the boat and taken up a position
where she could watch my operations."

"Not altogether curiosity--I had a scheme of my own in case you
failed," broke in Ruth.

"Well, your scheme got you into a pretty fix," retorted Little Billy.
"I was nervous because of the proximity of Carew to Ruth," he continued
to Martin, "and I straightway set out to look for her.  I came abreast
the Black Cruiser just in time to see a certain young gentleman in a
gray overcoat being hustled through the saloon's side entrance, by a
group of suspiciously chunky-appearing men.  I heard no outcry, but I
knew that Ruth was in Carew's toils."

"I couldn't cry out," said Ruth.  "One of those yellow runts had a
jiu-jitsu hold upon my neck.  My speech was paralyzed for the instant.
Indeed, I could hardly walk.  They practically carried me into Carew's

"I saw you, in the hall," broke in Martin.

"I didn't see you," replied Ruth.  "Indeed, I hardly recall passing
through a hall.  I came to my senses when they brought me into a big,
lighted room, where Carew sat behind a table.  I was--" the girl paused
uncertainly, and Martin saw her face was white and strained--"I was
frightened.  There is no use my disguising the fact--that man terrifies
me.  He is--he is----"

"He is a scoundrel!" exploded Captain Dabney.

"Yes, but a courageous and resourceful scoundrel," commented Little
Billy.  He turned to Martin and continued: "Bob Carew is not a new
acquaintance of ours.  We have had trouble with him before.  He is,

"He is possessed of the idea that he loves me," Ruth quietly continued
Little Billy's stammering words.  "And he is a man who acts upon his
ideas.  He has made my life miserable for four years.  Oh, I am afraid
of that man!  He is so determined and ruthless.  And I would rather be
dead than mated with that heartless wretch!"

"Aye, and I would rather see you dead," commented Captain Dabney.
"Carew's life smells to heaven.  He is more odorous than those yellow
men who own him."

"If you knew the Pacific, you would know Carew," explained Little Billy
to Martin.  "He is the best and least favorably known blackleg between
the two poles.  He is an Englishman--the cast-off son of some noble
house, I believe.  And he is a cruel, treacherous, brave, and cunning
beast!  No other words fit him.  Add to that a really beautiful body, a
brazen gall, and a well-bred and suave carriage, and you have Wild Bob.
He has an apt nickname--'Wild Bob.'

"The man has come through more wild, disreputable escapades than any
other three men afloat.  He has robbed right and left all over the
Pacific.  Half the island capitals are closed to him.  He robbed the
captain, here, when the captain first knew and trusted him.  Two years
ago, his schooner the _Aileen_ was confiscated by the United States
government for opium-running into California.  Since that time he has
been employed on shares by the same syndicate of Japs who have bought
the captain's furs.  They gave him the _Yezo_, which he renamed the
_Dawn_, the fastest little schooner in the north and south Pacific, and
he has been poaching seal for them, up north."

"Aye, and next year he would have ruined my trade, had not their spy
cleared out with your secret," rumbled the captain.

"Yes, I have no doubt those gentlemen in Hakodate placed Ichi aboard to
spy out our trading secrets," assented Little Billy.  "And Ichi's
learning of the million in ambergris awaiting an owner up there in
Bering Sea upset their little plan.  Ichi fled to Frisco, instead of to
Japan, as we thought.  He knew Carew and the schooner were in Frisco,
and I suppose he turned to Smatt for assistance in deciphering the
code, and also in preparing the _Dawn_ for sea.  Carew could not have
attended to that personally.  He has to keep under cover in United
States' territory.  I hazard the guess, Blake, that you are not
acquainted with all the activities of Mr. Smatt?"

"No," admitted Martin.  "Smatt is a very secretive man.  All I know of
his affairs I learned from handling his court papers; but I know he has
many interests I am entirely ignorant of.  For instance, I did not know
what brought Dr. Ichi to the office, though he and Smatt were very
chummy.  I thought it was business connected with the Nippon Trading
Company.  Smatt is American counsel for a Japanese firm of that name.
I never heard of the _Dawn_, nor of Carew, before yesterday."

"I guess we are better posted concerning your former employer than you,
yourself," informed Little Billy.  "Smatt's name is a byword with the
Pacific traders--the shrewd old spider!  'Nippon Trading Company' is
the same syndicate we have done business with; and those yellow
financiers of Hakodate and Tokyo have many irons in the fire besides
the fur iron.  Opium and coolie smuggling into California--both very
profitable.  And old Smatt looks after their American interests, fixes
officials, keeps them clear of the law.  It was Smatt who rescued Carew
two years ago.

"I have no doubt that immediately on receipt of Ichi's intelligence,
Smatt set about outfitting Carew for a trip to Fire Mountain.  But I
don't know whether the attempted shanghaiing of Ruth was premeditated
or not.  Of course, they knew of our presence in the port, and they may
have been waiting for a chance to pick up Ruth--aside from Carew's mad
infatuation, they may have expected to force from Ruth the latitude and
longitude of Fire Mountain.  I would not put a planned kidnaping beyond
them.  But it doesn't seem probable in the light of our undisturbed
efforts to filch the code from you."

"No, I am sure my capture was not the result of forethought," stated
Ruth.  "I think they just noticed me standing steadfastly in the same
position, just across the street from their rendezvous, and naturally
they concluded I was a spy of some sort.  Indeed, Carew's exclamation,
when they brought me before him, is convincing proof that he did not
know whom his men had bagged.  'My word, it is my spitfire, Ruth!' he
cried.  I acted the spitfire, too, and I am afraid I said some very
unladylike things to him.  But he only laughed in high glee.  I was
horribly frightened, though I took care he didn't suspect it.  I know
he meant to take me to sea with him.

"I only faced him for a few moments.  There was an interruption from
the hall, a banging and a knocking----"

"I did that, kicking a door," said Martin.

"I thought it was Little Billy, also captured," went on Ruth.  "I was
desperate.  And Carew had me thrust into that other room, and the door
secured upon me.  I heard a commotion and quarreling without, and
somebody was thrown into the room next to me.  I thought it was Billy,
and I tried to communicate by raps.  You know, Billy and I have become
quite expert in the use of that code; we practised on the passage up
from the islands.  You could not answer me, so I knew it was not Little
Billy who had been imprisoned in the next room.  I waited patiently and
fearfully, until Billy burst open the window."

"Yes, we didn't lose any time starting our rescue," added Little Billy.
"When I saw them haul Ruth into the house, I rushed back to the boat
and told the bosun.  We reconnoitered.  We saw a taxi drive up in front
of the saloon, and Carew storm out, and drive off."

"I guess he was bound to see Smatt about the blank sheets of paper in
the envelope," said Martin.  "I swore up and down that they had been
placed there by Smatt."

"Yes, we guessed as much," responded Little Billy.  "Well, we encircled
the building, discovered that back shed, and decided to try and force
entrance from the rear.  I hustled back to where we had left our
automobile, and got a small steel bar from the tool-box.  When I
rejoined the bosun, we mounted to the roof of the shed and tackled the

"Luck was with us.  You separate prisoners were in the rear of the
house.  We had a narrow squeak of it, though.  Wild Bob returned before
we had freed Ruth--that was that engine noise that startled us,
Martin--and Wild Bob lived up to his reputation by that vicious pursuit
he gave us.

"We won aboard safely, yanked up the hook and slipped out with the
tide, without waiting for pilot or clearance.  And so--well, now you
know all.  Remains nothing but for us to extend you a formal welcome to
the bosom of the happy family."

Martin became suddenly aware that the recital was ended, and that three
unlike, friendly faces were beaming upon him with smiling lips.
Unconsciously, as he had followed the course of the tale with absorbed
interest, he had lost sight of the fact of his own intimate connection
with the narrated events.  He had seemed to be a listener to an
interesting fiction.  His old habit of identifying himself with the
characters in the tales he read had mastered him.  Little Billy's
recountal, and his own responses and interjections, all seemed part of
a melodrama which, played out, would vanish and leave him secure in his
accustomed law-abiding world.

Now he suddenly realized that the melodrama was real, that the first
act only was ended, and that the last was obscured in the future.

The day had been replete with shocks, but the greatest shock was this,
when Martin finally and completely realized that the even course of his
life had been rudely and permanently changed, that he had been plucked
out of his humdrum niche and cast willy-nilly into this violent drama
by sportive circumstance.  The tumultuous incidents of the previous
night arrayed themselves in his mind with something of their true

He touched his head, and felt the bandage about the forgotten wound.
He became more keenly conscious of his surroundings--the unfamiliar
furnishings of the cabin, the careened table, the motion of the ship
that had at first disturbed and now soothed him, the measured footfalls
of the boatswain, overhead, the sough of the wind aloft.

He looked with fresh eyes upon his companions.  They too were actors in
the play--the forceful blind man, the lovable cripple, and this
blooming, merry-eyed girl whose every glance sent a strange thrill
through his being.  They were his partners, his shipmates!  He was
committed with them to this adventure, and he was glad.  They, too,
seemed glad, for they were smiling a welcome.

"Of course, Martin, we feel rather diffident before you," spoke up
Little Billy.  "We know it is an outrage, this causing you to lose your
comfortable berth ashore, and----"

"Say no more about it," interrupted Martin.  "You had sufficient
provocation for all your actions.  And really, believe me, I am very
glad I fell in with you.  I am glad to be here.  I have wanted to go to
sea all my life.  We are going to Fire Mountain now, aren't we?"

"That's the spirit!" cried the captain heartily.  "And you will not
lose by your joining us, lad.  Even if this venture prove a failure,
there is still a mighty good living to be picked up on the Pacific."

"We are a sort of coöperative association," explained Ruth.  "We work
on shares; something like the whaleman's lay, though more generous.  Of
course, we pay straight wages to the hands forward.  But we of the
afterguard work this way: After all expenses of a voyage have been
paid, the captain as master and owner takes fifty per cent. of the net
profits.  The remaining fifty per cent. is divided among the rest of
us, not according to rank but pro rata.  We want you to join the
partnership.  You are to share equally with Billy, the bosun, and
myself.  And if we really find this stuff on Fire Mountain, your share
will come to a neat fortune.  No, don't start protesting--of course you
are entitled to it."

"And don't commence counting your chickens before they are hatched,"
admonished Little Billy.  "It is quite on the cards that we will reach
Fire Mountain to discover Carew ahead of us.  Or somebody else may have
happened upon the stuff during the twenty-five years since Winters
died.  The last is not probable, but the first is, at least, possible.
It will not do for us to rest in false security.  Carew and his backers
are sure to have a try for that million on Fire Mountain."

"But he does not know the island's position.  I am sure of that!"
objected Ruth.

"But he does know Bering Sea, almost as well as I," spoke up Captain
Dabney.  "And he knows the particular corner of Bering we are bound
for.  No--Billy is right.  We must not imagine the _Dawn_ isn't on our
heels, even now.  In any event, he would be setting out for the Kuriles
to pick up the seal-herds, about this time; and, knowing Carew as we
do, we may prophesy that he will try to find our island.  Indeed, the
man may have already run across Fire Mountain during his excursions in
those waters--he may know its position as well as we do.  He'll try to
poach on our preserve, no fear.

"That ambergris would represent the profits of a score of
seal-raids--and besides, there is you, Ruth, drawing him like a
lodestone.  His attempt to shanghai you, back there in Frisco, shows
the temper of the man.  If we meet the _Dawn_ up north, and I have a
hunch we shall meet her, we want to keep our eyes open.  Meanwhile, we
want to make a smart passage, and get there first, and away.  We want
to carry on--by the Lord, crack on to the limit!"

"If it has come to a race, Carew's schooner has the heels of us,"
observed Little Billy.

"Yes, the _Dawn_ is the better sailer," reluctantly admitted the
captain.  "If the _Cohasset_ were ten years younger, I wouldn't admit
it, but the old girl isn't quite as limber as she used to be.  But the
log line isn't everything in an ocean race.  I know Bob Carew is a good
seaman, but I'll show him a trick or two this passage, for all that I'm
a blind man!"

"I hope we don't meet him up north.  I am afraid," muttered Ruth.

"But haven't you considered that the police may have grabbed Carew, and
the rest of that gang, for their part in that street fight?" broke in
Martin.  "Of course, I didn't see the finish of that affair, but I
remember that I saw the police coming just before I fell."

"The police!  Lay Carew by the heels!"  The captain shook his head.
"No such good luck, I'm afraid.  Trust Carew to win clear of the police
every time."

"And if they did grab him, you may trust Lawyer Smatt to have procured
his release, at least upon bail, ere now.  There is the hope, of
course, that when you, Martin, shied that gun into his face, he was
badly injured," said Little Billy.

"Oh, I hope not!" ejaculated Martin.

"We hope so," went on Little Billy.  "If you had killed him, you would
have rendered mankind a service.  No such luck, though--the devil never
fails to look after his own.  He may not have even been stunned.  The
bosun did not see what happened after you fell--he picked you up and
turned tail and ran for it.  But I have no doubt Carew's men gathered
up their leader and made off ahead of the law's coming.  Carew is too
much the fox not to have had a getaway prepared; and the clearance we
dumped off the Farallones showed that he had the _Dawn_ ready for sea.
I'll wager we didn't beat him out through the Gate by many hours!"

"I suppose the police are looking for us?" ventured Martin.

"Not likely," assured the other.  "We are safe away, at any rate.  But
I doubt if they have even heard of the _Cohasset_.  The denizens of
that groggery would have given no evidence against us--they are
themselves too deeply implicated.  Also, shooting affrays are common
enough on the Frisco waterfront, even gunfights of such magnitude as we
indulged in.  The police will forget all about it within a week's time.

"Of course, if we had left you behind, to be arrested, the consequences
might have been serious enough for you, providing you did not have
money or influence.  That is the main reason we brought you to sea with
us.  But as it is, a dead or wounded Jap does not amount to much in
Frisco, and the affair will have slipped men's minds long ere we see
Market Street again."

"But--I think I killed that man, Spulvedo!" urged Martin, with a qualm
at the recollection.

"A good job if you did," was the reply.  "He was a notorious scoundrel.
If you snuffed him out, I suspect the police would feel inclined to
vote you a medal.  But don't feel badly about that incident, Blake.
Remember, you dropped him in self-defense."

"Gentlemen!" broke in Ruth suddenly.  "We will have to adjourn this
meeting till another time.  Seven bells went some time ago.  I have
just time to get my coffee and relieve the bosun by midnight."

"What--the watch gone!" cried the captain.  "But, lass, you have had no

"Small matter," assented the girl, rising.  "I'll make up for it.  Is
there any change in course, captain?"

"No, make all the westing we can," said the captain.  "If this breeze
will only hold a couple of days longer, we'll pick up the trades.  Then
for the passage!"

"But--a second!" exclaimed Little Billy.  "We have not yet assigned our
new brother to his duties.  You know, Blake, there are no drones in the
happy family.  Now, I suggest, you are eminently qualified to assist
the hard-driven steward."

A hearty laugh from the girl and the old man checked the hunchback's

"No, you are not going to sluff your job upon poor Mr. Blake's
shoulders!" cried Ruth.  "That is--unless he wishes to become a

"I want to be a sailor," Martin asserted emphatically.

"Well said, lad--I know you have mettle," commented Captain Dabney.
"But it means work.  You cannot learn a sailor's work by pacing a

"I am more than willing to work--common sailor work," said Martin.

"Well, we'll assign you to a watch," said the old man.  "Of course, you
will live aft.  Keep your present berth with Billy.  You had better
join the starboard watch, I think.  The bosun is a great hand to break
in a greenhorn."

But Martin objected to this disposition.  He was watching Ruth.  She
was buttoning her pea-coat around her throat, preparatory to braving
the raw night.  There was, he dared to think, a welcome twinkle, a
meaning message, in the sidewise glance she shot at him.

"I would rather be in the mate's watch," said Martin.

The captain grinned, Little Billy chuckled and muttered something about
a "sheep to the slaughter," and the mate rewarded him with a flash of
white teeth.

"I'll be glad to have you in my watch," she said.  "But remember--it is
all work and no play!  I keep strict discipline in my watch!"

Martin then proposed to commence straightway his seaman's career, by
standing the impending watch, by accompanying Ruth on deck.  Thereupon
his officer voiced her first command:

"I don't want you blundering about the decks to-night with that sore
head.  Time enough for you to start in the morning; after breakfast
I'll examine the wound, and if it looks well I'll turn you to.  Also,
you need to visit the slop-chest."  She pointed to his once natty, now
bedraggled, business suit.  "You are hardly dressed for facing weather.
Billy will outfit you in the morning.  Meanwhile, turn in and sleep."



It was the night of April 29, 1915, that Martin Blake, clerk, sat at
the _Cohasset's_ cabin table and heard the tale of Fire Mountain.  It
was on the morning of July 6, 1915, that Martin Blake, seaman, bent
over the _Cohasset's_ foreroyal yardarm and fisted the canvas, with the
shrill whistle of the squall in his ears.

The interim had fashioned a new Martin Blake.  In the bronzed and
active figure, dungaree clad, sheath-knife on hip, who so casually
balanced himself on the swaying foot-rope, there was little in common,
so far as outward appearance went, with the dapper, white-faced clerk
of yore.

He completed furling the sail.  Then he straightened and swept the sea
with keen, puckered eyes.  It was a scrutiny that was rewarded.  Ahead,
across the horizon sky, floated a dark smudge, like the smoke-trail of
a steamer, and beneath it was a black speck.  It was no ship, but land,
he knew.  It was the expected landfall, the volcanic island, there
ahead, and he, of all of the ship's company, first perceived it from
his lofty perch.

He sent the welcome hail to the deck below----

"Land ho!"

He leaned over the lee yard-arm, grasped a back-stay, and commenced a
rapid and precipitous descent to the deck.  A few months before, he
would have descended laboriously and fearfully by way of the shrouds;
sliding down a backstay would then have rubbed his palms raw, and
visited giddiness upon him.  But now his hands were rope calloused, and
his wits height proof.  He was now the equal, for agility and daring,
with any man on the ship.  He had won, without much trouble, a seaman's
niche on the ship.

In truth, Martin was to the life born, and he took to the sea like a
duck to water.  He won quickly through the inevitable series of mishaps
that rubbed the greenhorn mark away; and he gleefully measured his
progress by his ever-growing ability to outpull, outclimb, and outdare
the polyglot denizens of the brigantine's forecastle.

He had expert coaching to urge his education on apace.  He knew the
many ropes and their various offices before he was two weeks on board;
and he was able to move about aloft, by day or night, quite fearlessly.
By the end of the first month he was standing his regular wheel trick.
And, as the weeks passed, he gained more than a cursory knowledge of
the leverages and wind surfaces that controlled and propelled his
little floating world.

He applied himself earnestly to master his new craft.  It was the life
he had lusted for, and the mere physical spaciousness of his new
outlook was a delight.  He contrasted it with his former city-cramped,
office-ridden existence.

He rejoiced openly as each day lengthened the distance between him and
his former slavery.  On the very first day he had mounted to the deck
to commence work, the morning after the meeting in the cabin, he had
enacted a ceremony that, to his own rollicking mind, placed a definite
period to his old life.  He came on deck bravely bedecked in his new
slop-chest clothes, a suit of shiny, unstained dungarees.

He held carefully in his hands a black derby hat, and a starched collar
of the "choker" variety.  He carried the articles to the ship's side
and cast them into the sea.  Then he declaimed his freedom.

"They were the uniform of my servitude--badges of my clerkhood!  I have
finished with them.  Into the ocean they go!  Now--ho for the life on
the billowy wave!"

"Very good!" the mate applauded his act and words.  Her next words were
an incisive and frosty command.  "You may commence at once your life on
the billowy wave!  Go for'rd and stand by with the watch!"

Martin went forward, and he began to learn the why and wherefore of
things in his new world.  He learned to jump to an order called out by
that baffling and entrancing person aft, learned to haul in unison, to
laugh at hard knocks and grin at pain.

He learned to cultivate humility, and to mount the poop on the lee side
when duty took him there.  He learned the rigid etiquette of the sea,
and addressed that blooming, desirable woman with the formal prefix,

His body toughened, his mind broadened, his soul expanded.  But his
heart also expanded, and it was unruly.  Ruth was such a jolly
chum--off duty.  On duty, she was a martinet.  Below, she was the merry
life of the "happy family."  On deck, she lorded it haughtily from the
high place of the poop, and answered to the name of "mister"!

The _Cohasset_, Martin discovered, was manned by a total of eighteen
souls.  Besides the five persons aft, there were a sailmaker, a
carpenter, a Chinese cook and ten forecastle hands.  His first
impression--that the crew was composed of wild men--was partially borne
out.  Of the ten men in the forecastle, but four were Caucasian--two
Portuguese from the Azores, a Finn and an Australian--and the quartet
were almost as outlandish in their appearance as the other six of the

The remaining six were foregathered from the length and breadth of the
Pacific.  There was a Maori from New Zealand, a Koriak tribesman from
Kamchatka, two Kanakas, a stray from Ponape, and an Aleut.  The six
natives, Martin discovered, had all been with the ship for years, were
old retainers of Captain Dabney.  The four white men, and the cook, who
rejoiced in the name of Charley Bo Yip, had been newly shipped in San

Martin's watchmates were five of the natives.  Martin suspected they
composed the mate's watch because they were all old, tractable hands.
They were the Maori, Rimoa, a strapping, middle-aged man, Oomak, the
Koriak, the man with the tattooed and scarified face whom Martin had
seen at the wheel the first day at sea, the two Kanakas, and the Aleut.
They talked to each other, he found, in a strange pidgin--a speech
composed mainly of verbs and profanity, a language that would have
shocked a purist to a premature grave.  But Martin found his watchmates
to be a brave, capable, though rather silent group.

Martin's initiation into the joys of sea life was a strenuous one.  The
gale that had sent the _Cohasset_ flying from San Francisco, died out,
as Ruth had predicted.  Followed a couple of days of calm.

Then came another heavy wind, in the boatswain's words, "a snortin'
norther," and for three days Martin's watches on deck were cold, wet
and hazardous.  He blindly followed his watchmates over lurching,
slippery decks, in obedience to unintelligible orders.  He was rolled
about by shipped seas, and his new oilskins received a stern baptism.
His clerk's hands became raw and swollen from hauling on wet ropes, his
unaccustomed muscles ached cruelly, the sea water smarted the
half-healed wound on his head, now covered with a strip of plaster.
But he stood the gaff, and worked on.  And he was warmly conscious of
the unspoken approval of both forecastle and cabin.

During that time of stress he learned something of the sailor's game of
carrying on of sail.  The wind was fair, and by the blind captain's
orders, they held on to every bit of canvas the spars would stand.  The
little vessel rushed madly through the black, howling nights, and the
leaden, fierce days, with every timber protesting the strain, and every
piece of cordage adding its shrill, thrummed note to the storm's mighty

During that time Martin first proved his mettle.  He fought down his
coward fears, and for the first time ventured aloft, feeling his way
through the pitch-black night to the reeling yard-arm, to battle, with
his watch, the heavy, threshing sail that required reefing.  After the
test, when he came below to the warm cabin, he thrilled to the core at
his officer's curt praise.

"You'll do!" she muttered in his ear.

But it was not all storm and battle.  Quite the reverse.  The calm
succeeded the storm.  Martin came on deck one morning to view a bright
sky and a sea of undulating glass.  Astern, above the horizon, were
fleecy clouds--they afterwards rode high, and became his friends, those
mares' tails--and out of that horizon, from the northeast, came
occasional light puffs of wind.

Captain Dabney, pacing his familiar poop with firm, sure steps, turned
his sightless face constantly to those puffs.  There was upon the ship
an air of expectancy.  And that afternoon Martin beheld an exhibition
of the old man's sea-canniness; he suddenly stopped his steady pacing,
stood motionless a moment, sniffing of the air astern, and then wheeled
upon Ruth.

"To the braces, mister!  Here she comes!" he snapped.

She came with tentative, caressing puffs at first, each one a little
stronger than the last.  Then, with a sigh, a dark blue ripple dancing
before her, she arrived, enveloped and passed them.

The brig trembled to the embrace and careened gently, as if nestling
into a beloved's arms.  About the decks were smiling faces and joyous
shouts, and the sails were trimmed with a swinging chantey.  For the
_Cohasset_ had picked up the northeast trades.

That night the wind blew, and the next day, and the next, and the next
week, and the weeks following.  Ever strong and fresh, out of the
northeast, came the mighty trade-wind.  Nine knots, ten knots, eleven
knots--the brig foamed before it, into the southwest, edging eleven
knots--the brig foamed before it, into the southwest, edging away
always to the westward.

Every sail was spread.  Sails were even improvised to supplement the
vast press the ship carried, a balloon jib for the bows, and a
triangular piece of canvas that the boatswain labored over, and which
he spread above the square topsails on the main.  He was mightily proud
of his handicraft, and walked about, rubbing his huge hands and gazing
up at the little sail.

"An inwention o' my own," he proudly confided to Martin.  "Swiggle me
stiff, if the _Flyin' Cloud_ 'as anything on us, for we've rigged a
bloody moons'il, says I."

Day by day the air grew warmer, as they neared the tropics.  One day
they sighted a school of skimming flying fish; that night several flew
on board and were delivered into Charley Bo Yip's ready hands, and
Martin feasted for the first time upon that dainty morsel.  Bonito and
porpoise played about the bows.

Martin could not at first understand how a ship that was bound for a
distant corner of the cold Bering Sea came to be sailing into the
tropics.  But the boatswain enlightened him.

"It's a case o' the longest way being the shortest, lad.  The winds,
says I.  We 'ave to make a 'alf circle to the south, using these
trades, to make the Siberian coast this time o' year.  We're makin' a
good passage--swiggle me, if Carew an' his _Dawn_ 'ave won past, the
way we're sailin'!  And the old man reckons seventy days, outside,
afore 'e makes 'is landfall o' Fire Mountain.  Coming 'ome, now, will
be different.  We'll sail the great circle, the course the mail-boats
follow, an' we'll likely make the passage in 'alf the time.  We'll run
the easting down, up there in the 'igh latitudes with the westerlies
be'ind us."

They were bright, sunny days, those trade-wind days, and wonderful
nights.  The ship practically sailed herself.  A slackening and
tightening of sheets, night and morning, and a watch-end trimming of
yards, was all the labor required of the crew.

So, regular shipboard work, and Martin's education, went forward.
"Chips" plied his cunning hand outside his workshop door; "Sails"
spread his work upon the deck abaft the house.

A crusty, talkative, kind-hearted fellow was Sails.  He was an old
Scot, named MacLean; and the native burr in his speech had been
softened by many years of roving.  He always took particular pains to
inform any listener that he was a MacLean, and that the Clan MacLean
was beyond doubt the foremost, the oldest, and the best family that
favored this wretched, hopeless world with residence.  He hinted darkly
at a villainous conspiracy that had deprived him of his estates and
lairdships in dear old Stornoway, Bonnie Scotland.  He was a pessimist
of parts, and he furnished the needed shade that made brighter Martin's
carefree existence.

MacLean had followed Captain Dabney for six years--most of the crew
were even longer in the ship--and before joining the _Cohasset_, he
had, to Martin's intense interest, made a voyage with Wild Bob Carew.

"Och, lad, ye no ken the black heart o' the mon," he would say to
Martin.  "Wild Bob!  Tis 'Black Bob' they should call the caird.  The
black-hearted robber!  Aye, I sailed a voyage wi' the deil.  Didna' he
beach me wi'oot a penny o' my pay on Puka Puka, in the Marquesas?  An'
didna' I stop there, marooned wi' the natives, till Captain Dabney took
me off?  Forty-six, five an' thrippence he robbed me of.

"I am a MacLean, and a Laird by rights, but I could no afoord the loss
o' that siller.  Oh, he is the proud deil!  His high stomach could no
stand my plain words.  Forty quid, odd, he owed me, but I could no hold
my tongue when he raided the cutter and made off wi' the shell.  The
MacLeans were ne'er pirates, ye ken.  They are honest men and
kirkgoers--though I'll no pretend in the old days they didna' lift a
beastie or so.

"I talked up to Carew's face, an' told him a MacLean could no approve
such work, an' I told him the MacLeans were better folk than he, for
all his high head.  Ye ken, lad, the MacLeans are the best folk o'
Scotland.  When Noah came oot the ark, 'twas the MacLeans met him and
helped him to dry land.

"On Puka Puka beach he dumped me, wi'oot my dunnage, and wi'oot a cent
o' the siller was due me.  Och, he is a bad mon, yon Carew, wi' many a
mon's blood on his hands!  He has sold his soul to the deil, and Old
Nick saves his own.  He is a wild mon wi' women, and he is mad aboot
the sweet lassie aft.  Didna' he try to make off wi' her in Dutch
Harbor, three years ago?  And didna' the old mon stop him wi' a bullet
through the shoulder?  And now he tries again in Frisco!

"The lass blooms fairer each day--and Carew's madness grows.  Ye'll
meet him again, lad, if you stay wi' the ship.  Wi' Old Nick to help
him, 'tis black fortune he'll bring to the lass, ye'll see."  And Sails
would croak out dismal prophecies concerning Wild Bob Carew's future
activities, so long as Martin would listen.

Indeed, the adventurer of the schooner _Dawn_ was ever present in the
thoughts of the brig's complement.  He was a real and menacing shadow;
even Martin was affected by the lowering cloud.  The old hands in the
crew all knew him personally, and knew of his mad infatuation for their
beloved mate.  In the cabin, it was accepted that he would cross their
path again, though it was hoped that Fire Mountain would be reached and
the treasure secured before that event occurred.  But, save for an
ever-growing indignation against the haughty Englishman, for daring to
aspire to Ruth LeMoyne's hand, Martin gave the matter small thought; he
was too busy living the moment.

Concurrent with his education in seamanship, progressed Martin's
instruction in the subtle and disquieting game of hearts.  Ruth
attended to this particular instruction unconsciously, perhaps, but
none the less effectively.

Of course, it was inevitable.  When a romantic-minded young man aids in
the thrilling rescue of an imprisoned maid, that young man is going to
look upon that young woman with more than passing interest.  When the
maid in question happens to be extremely pretty, his interest is
naturally enhanced.  When he is thrown into a close shipboard intimacy
with her, and discovers her to be at once an exacting tyrant and a
jolly chum, when the maid is possessed of a strange and exciting
history, and congenial tastes, when she is not unaware of her own
excellence, and, at times, not disinclined to coquet a trifle before a
young, virile male--then, the romantic young man's blood experiences a
permanent rise in temperature, and there are moments when his heart
lodges uncomfortably in his throat, and moments when it beats a devil's
own tattoo upon his ribs.

And when there are wonderful tropic nights, and bright eyes by his side
that outrival the stars overhead, and a glorious tenor voice softly
singing songs of love nearby--then, the heady wine of life works a
revolution in a romantic young man's being, and in the turmoil he is
accorded his first blinding glimpse of the lover's heaven of fulfilled
desire, and his first glimpse also of the lover's hell of doubting
despair.  A man, a maid, a soft, starry night upon the water, a song of
love--of course it was inevitable!

Martin's previous experience with the tender passion was not extensive.
Circumstance, shyness and fastidiousness had caused him to ignore most
of the rather frequent opportunities to philander that his good looks
and lively imagination created, and upon the rare occasions when he had
paused, it was because of curiosity--a curiosity quickly sated.

Of course, he had been in love.  At twelve years he had betrothed
himself to the girl who sat across the aisle, at fifteen, he exchanged
rings and vows with a lady of fourteen who lived in the next block, at
seventeen he conceived a violent affection for the merry Irish girl who
presided over his uncle's kitchen--but Norah scoffed, and remained true
to the policeman on the beat, and Martin, for a space, embraced the
more violent teachings of anarchy and dreamed with gloomy glee of
setting off a dynamite bomb under a certain uniformed prop of law and

The uncle died, and Martin was henceforth too busy earning a living to
indulge in sentimental adventures.  After a time, as he grew to manhood
and his existence became more assured, he became a reader of stories;
and unconsciously he commenced to measure the girls he met with the
entrancing heroines of his fiction.  The girls suffered by comparison,
and Martin's interest in them remained Platonic.

By degrees he became possessor of that refuge of lonely bachelorhood,
an ideal--a dream girl, compounded equally of meditation and books.
She was a wonderful girl, Martin's dream girl; she possessed all the
virtues, and no faults, and she was very, very beautiful.  At first she
was a blond maid, and when she framed herself before his eyes, out of
the smoke curling upward from his pipe, she was a vision of golden
tresses, and rosy cheeks, and clear blue eyes.

But then came Miss Pincher, the manicure maid, to reside at Martin's
boarding-house.  Miss Pincher's hair was very, very yellow--there were
dark hints about that boarding-house board anent royal colors coming
out of drug-store bottles--and her eyes were a cold, hard blue.  She
cast her hard, bold eyes upon Martin.  She was a feminist in love.
Martin fled horrified before her determined, audacious wooing.

His blood idol was overthrown, his ideal slain.  He went to bed with
the stark corpse, and awoke to contemplate with satisfaction a new
image, a brooding, soulful brunette.

Then, Martin suddenly discovered that his ideal was neither a rosy
Daughter of the _Dawn_, nor a tragic Queen of the Night--she was a
merry-faced, neutral-tinted Sister of the Afternoon, a girl with brown
hair, so dark as to be black by night, and big brown eyes.  A girl with
a rich contralto voice that commanded or cajoled in a most distracting
fashion.  A girl who commanded respect by her mastery of a masculine
profession, yet who thereby sacrificed none of her appealing
femininity.  A girl named Ruth LeMoyne.

There was nothing staid or conservative about the manner of Martin's
receiving this intelligence.  It was his nature to fall in love with a
hard bump, completely and without reservation.  He recognized Ruth as
the girl of his dreams the very first moment he obtained a good
daylight look at her--that is, upon the afternoon he first mounted to
the _Cohasset's_ deck, and was welcomed by the smiling, lithesome queen
of the storm.  Blonde and brunette had in that instant been completely
erased from his memory; he had recognized in the mate of the _Cohasset_
the companion of his fanciful hours, in every feature she was the girl
of his dreams.

There are people who say that every person has his, or her, preordained
mate somewhere in the world.  They say that the true love, the big
love, is only possible when these predestined folk meet.  They say that
love flames instantly at such a meeting, and that the couple will
recognize each other though the whole social scale divide them.  They
say that Love will conquer all obstacles and unite the yearning pair.
They are a sentimental, optimistic lot, who thus declaim.  Martin, when
he thought the matter over, inclined to their belief.  Only--the
trouble was that Ruth did not seem to exactly recognize or welcome her
predestined fate.

But there is another theory of love.  Any shiny-pated wise man will
give the formula.

"Love at first sight!  Bosh!" says the wise man.  "Love is merely a
strong, complex emotion inspired in persons by propinquity plus

Perhaps.  Certainly, the emotion Martin felt from the time he spoke his
first word to Ruth LeMoyne, was strong enough and complex enough to
tinge his every thought.  And the propinquity was close enough and
piquant enough to flutter the heart of a monk--which Martin was not.
And a headlong young man like Martin Blake could be trusted to make the

He made several occasions.  His journey along Cupid's path was filled
with the sign-posts of those occasions.

Off duty, Ruth and he were boon companions, during the rather rare
hours when she was not in attendance upon the blind captain or asleep.
Martin stinted himself of rest, Ruth was too old a sailor for that.

The dog-watches, and, after they had gained the fine weather, the early
hours of the first watch, were their hours of communion.  They eagerly
discussed books, plays, dreams, the sea, their quest, and themselves.
They called each other by their first names, in comradely fashion.
Oftentimes Little Billy joined them and enlivened the session with his
pungent remarks, or, on the fine evenings, treated them with wonderful,
melting songs.

Martin had the uneasy feeling that Little Billy, of all the men on the
ship, divined his passion for Ruth.  He seemed to feel, also, that
Little Billy was, in a sense, a rival; with a lover's insight, he read
the dumb adoration in the hunchback's eyes whenever the latter looked
at, or spoke of, the mate.

But, of course, Ruth knew what was in Martin's mind and heart.  Trust a
daughter of Eve to read the light in a man's eyes, be she ever so
unpractised by experience.  It is her heritage.  Nor did Martin attempt
concealment of his love for very long.  A dashing onslaught was
Martin's nature.

Ruth teased him and deftly parried his crude attempts to make the grand
passion the sole topic of their chats.  She would hold him at arm's
length, and then for a swift moment drop her guard.  It would be but a
trifle--a fugitive touching of shoulders, perhaps--but it would shake
Martin to his soul.

She would hold their talk to commonplaces, and then, as their hour
ended, would transfix him with a fleeting glance that seemed to bear
more than a message of friendship, and he would stand looking after
her, weak and gasping, with thumping heart.

One evening they stood together on the forecastle head, watching the
setting sun.  Sky and sea, to the west, were ablaze for a brief space
with ever-changing gorgeous colors.  The sheer beauty of the scene,
added to the disturbing nearness of his heart's wish, forced Martin's
rose-tinted thoughts to speech.

"I see our future there, Ruth," he said, pointing to the rioting sunset
colors.  "See--that golden, castle-shaped cloud!  We shall live there.
Those orange-and-purple billows surrounding are our broad meadows.  It
is the country we are bound for, the land of happiness, and its name

"Its name is 'dreamland'!" finished Ruth, with a light laugh.  "And
never will you arrive at your voyage's end, friend Martin, for
'dreamland' is always over the horizon."

She looked directly into Martin's eyes; the brief dusk was upon them,
and her face was a soft, wavering outline, but her eyes were aglow with
the gleam that set Martin's blood afire.  Her eyes seemed to bear a
message from the Ruth that lived below the surface Ruth--from the newly
stirring woman beneath the girlish breast.

It was a challenge, that brief glance.  It made Martin catch his
breath.  He choked upon the words that tried tumultuously to burst from
his lips.

"Oh, Ruth, let me tell you--" he commenced.

Her laugh interrupted him again, and the eyes he looked into were again
the merry, teasing eyes of his comrade.  With her next words she
wilfully misunderstood him and his allusion concerning the sunset.

"Indeed, Martin, that cloud the sunset lightened is shaped nothing like
Fire Mountain, which is a very gloomy looking place, and one I should
not like to take up residence in.  And no bright meadows surround
it--only the gray, foggy sea.  Hardly a land of happiness.  Though,
indeed, if we salvage that treasure, we will have the means, each of
us, to buy the happiness money provides."

"Confound Fire Mountain and its treasure!" exclaimed Martin.  "You know
I didn't mean that, Ruth!  I was talking figuratively, poetically, the
way Little Billy talks.  I meant just you and I, and that sunset was
the symbol of our love."

But he was talking to the air.  Ruth was speeding aft, her light
laughter rippling behind her.

Another night, when the brig was near the southern limit of her long
traverse, they stood in the shadow, at the break of the poop, and
together scanned the splendid sky.  Ruth was the teacher; she knew each
blazing constellation, and she pointed them out for Martin's benefit.
But Martin, it must be admitted, was more interested by the pure
profile revealed by a slanting moonbeam than by the details of
astronomy and his mumbled, half-conscious replies revealed his

After a while, she gave over the lesson, and they stood silent, side by
side, leaning on the rail, captivated by the witchery of the tropic

The heavens were packed with the big, blazing stars of the low
latitudes, and the round moon, low on the horizon, cut the dark, quiet
sea with a wide path of silver light.  Aloft, the steady breeze hummed
softly; and the ship broke her way through the water with a low, even
purr, and the sea curled away from the forefoot like an undulating
silver serpent.  The wake was a lane of moonlight, barred by golden
streaks of phosphorescence.

On the ship, the decks were a patchwork of bright, eerie light and
black shadow.  The bellying sails and the woof of cordage aloft, seemed
unsubstantial, like a gossamer weaving.  The quiet ship noises, and the
subdued murmur of voices from forward seemed unreal, uncanny.

The unearthly beauty of the night touched strange fancies to life in
Martin's mind--he was on a phantom ship, sailing on an unreal sea.  The
desirable, disturbing presence so close to his side enhanced his

His shoulder touched her shoulder, and he could feel the gentle rise
and fall of her breast, as she breathed.  The bodily contact made his
head swim.  When she raised her head to stare at the sky, a fugitive
moonbeam caressed her face and touched her briefly with a wondrous
beauty.  Her curved, parted lips were almost within reach of his own at
such instants; he had but to bend swiftly forward!  Martin was all
atremble at the daring thought, and he clutched the rail to steady

Behind them, a golden voice suddenly commenced to sing an age-old song
of love, "Annie Laurie."

Softly the hunchback sang; his voice seemed to melt into and become one
with the hum of the breeze aloft and the snore of the forefoot
thrusting apart the waters.  It seemed to Martin that the whole world
was singing, singing of love.  His heart thumped, his breath came
quickly, pin-points of light swam before his eyes.

The girl trembled against his shoulder.  Martin leaned eagerly forward,
and their eyes met.  They both stiffened at that electric contact.  His
eyes were ablaze with passion, purposeful, masterful; and in her eyes
he again glimpsed the fresh-awakened woman, beckoning, elusive,
fearful.  For a brief instant they stared at each other, man and woman,
souls bared.  But that blinding moment seemed to Martin to encompass
eternity.  The songster's liquid notes fell about them, and they were

The song ended.  Quite without conscious movement, Martin put his arms
about Ruth and drew her into a close embrace.  He pressed his hot lips
to hers, and with a thrill so keen it felt like a stab, he realized her
lips returned the pressure.

It lasted but a second, this heaven.  The girl burst backward out of
his embrace.  Martin's arms fell to his sides, nerveless, and he stood
panting, tongue-tied with emotion.  Nor did he have the chance to
master himself and speak the words he wished, for Ruth, with a half
sob, half laugh, turned and sped across the deck, and through the open
alleyway door, into the cabin.

The next watch Ruth stood upon her dignity, and her manner was
unusually haughty toward her slave.  And the next day, in the
dog-watch, he discovered that the old comradeship was fled.  She was
shy and silent, and she listened to his stammered apology with averted
eyes and pink ears.

When Martin attempted to supplement his apology with ardent words, she
fled straightway.  And never again during the passage did Martin find
an opportunity to avow his love.  He discovered that somehow Little
Billy, or the boatswain, or Captain Dabney was always present at their
talks.  Her elusiveness made him very wretched at times.  But then,
occasionally, he would surprise her looking at him, and the light in
her eyes would send him to the seventh heaven of delight.

There came the day when the little vessel reached the southern point of
the great arc she was sailing across the Pacific.  Martin came on deck
to find the bows turned northward, toward the Bering, and the yards
braced sharp to catch the slant from the dying trades.

The _Cohasset_ raced northward, though not as swiftly as she had raced
southward.  The winds were light, though generally fair, and the brig
made the most of them.

The weather grew steadily cooler; the brilliant tropics were left
behind, and they entered the gray wastes of the North Pacific.  Forward
and aft were smiling faces and optimistic prophecies, for the ship was
making a record passage.  The captain's original estimate of seventy
days between departure and landfall was steadily pared by the hopeful
ones.  The boatswain, especially, was delighted.

"Seventy days!  Huh!" he declared.  "Why, swiggle me stiff, we'll take
the days off that, or my name ain't Tom 'Enery!  'Ere we are, forty-one
days out, an' already we're in sight o' ice, an' runnin' free over the
nawstiest bit o' water between 'ere an' the 'Orn!  It'll be Bering Sea
afore the week out, lad!  And afore another week, we'll 'ave fetched
the bloody wolcano and got away again with that grease!  Bob Carew?
Huh--the _Dawn_ may 'ave the 'eels of us--though, swiggle me, what with
my moons'il, an' that balloon jib, I'd want a tryout afore admitting it
final--but it ain't on the cards that Carew 'as 'ad our luck with the
winds.  'E's somewhere a week or two astern o' us, I bet.  We'll 'ave
the bleedin' swag, an' be 'alf way 'ome, before 'e lifts Fire
Mountain--if he does know where the bloomin' place is!

"Ow, lad, just think o' all that money in a lump o' ruddy grease!  Ow,
what a snorkin' fine time I'll 'ave, when we get back to Frisco!  'Am
an' eggs, an' a bottle o' wine every bloomin' meal for a week!  Regular
toff, I'll be, swiggle me--with one of them fancy girls adancin', and
one o' them longhaired blokes afiddlin' while I scoffs!"

Only old Sails declined to be heartened by bright expectations.  He
wagged his gray head solemnly.

"The passage is no made till we are standing off yon Island," he warned
Martin.  "Aye, well I remember the smoking mountain.  Didna' that big,
red loon aft split a new t'gan'-s'il the very next day, wi' his crazy
carrying on of sail?  Aye, I mind the place--a drear place, lad, wi' an
evil face.  I dinna like to see the lassie gang ashore there, for all
the siller ye say the stuff is worth, an' I ken well she'll be in the
first boat.  'Tis a wicked place, the fire mount, and I ha' dreamed
thrice o' the feyed.  Nay, I'll tell ye no more, lad.  But do you give
no mind to yon talk o' Bob Carew being left behind.  He is the de'il's
son, and the old boy helps his own.  But keep ye a sharp eye on the

No more than this half mystical jargon could Martin extract from the
dour Scot.  MacLean would shake his head and mumble that feydom brooded
over the brig and hint darkly of battle and bloodshed.

That night, in the privacy of their berth, Martin mentioned MacLean's
dismal croakings to Little Billy.  He was minded to jest about the
pessimist, but, to his great surprise, the hunchback listened to his
recountal with a very grave face.  But after a moment Little Billy's
smile returned, and he explained.

"Sails is a Highland Scot," he told Martin.  "Of course he is
superstitious, as well as a constitutional croaker.  He claims to be a
seventh son, or something like that, and to be able to foretell death.
When he speaks of a 'feyed' man, he means one over whom he sees
hovering the shadow of death.  He didn't say who was feyed, did he?"

"No, he wouldn't talk further," answered Martin.  "What bosh!"

"Yes, of course," assented Little Billy.  "You and I, with our minds
freed of superstition, may laugh--but Sails, I think, believes in his
visions.  And, to tell you the truth, your words gave me something of a
start at first.  I have known MacLean a long time, you know.  Last
voyage, he told me one day that Lomai, a Fiji boy, was feyed, and that
very night Lomai fell from the royal yard and was smashed to death on
the deck.  And once before that, before I became one of the happy
family, he foretold a death to the captain.  I am glad you told me
about this.  He didn't mention a name?"

"No.  Just said he had dreamed three times of the feyed," said Martin,
impressed in spite of himself.

"I'll speak to him, myself," went on Little Billy.  "Won't do any good,
though.  He only tells one person of his foresight, and he has chosen
you this time.  But I wish--oh, what is wrong with us!  Of course it is
bosh!  The old grumbler has indigestion from eating too much.  I am
going to read awhile, Martin, if the light won't bother you.  Don't
feel sleepy."

The hunchback clambered into his upper bunk and composed himself, book
in hand.  Martin finished his disrobing and rolled into his bunk,
beneath the other.  He was tired, but he didn't go to sleep directly.
His mind was busy.  Not with thoughts of Sails and his ghostly
warning--Martin had not been long enough at sea to be tinged with the
sailor's inevitable superstition, and he was stanchly skeptical of
supernatural warnings.  Martin lay awake thinking of the deformed
little man, ostensibly reading, a few feet above him.

For some nights, now, the hunchback had read late of nights, because he
"didn't feel sleepy."  Daily, Little Billy's lean face grew more lined
and aged; in the past week his appearance had taken on a half-score
years.  He still retained his smile, but it was even wan at times.  In
his eyes lurked misery.  Martin knew that the books he took to bed were
mainly a subterfuge to enable Little Billy to keep the light burning.
For Little Billy was waging a battle with his ancient enemy, and he had
grown afraid of the dark.

A week before, he had abruptly said to Martin:

"I gave the key of the medicine-chest to Ruth today.  I won't be able
to get at _that_ booze, anyway."  To Martin's startled look, he added:
"I want you to know, so you won't be surprised by the capers I am
liable to cut for a while.  You see, I am dancing to old Fiddler
Booze's tune.  I want to go on a drunk--every part of me craves
alcohol.  And I am determined to keep sober.

"Oh, it is nothing to startle you, Martin.  I never get violent.  Only,
I'll be in plain hell for a couple of weeks.  Then the craving will go
away, to return at ever shorter intervals, until I do get ashore on a
good bust.  No, I'll keep sober till I reach shore again--whatever
comes.  No raiding the bosun's locker for shellac or wood-alcohol this

"Good Lord, you wouldn't do that!" exclaimed Martin.

"Oh, yes--I did it once," confessed Little Billy easily.  "Indeed, a
swig of shellac punch is drink for the gods; my very soul writhes now
at the thought of it.  But, I'll admit, the wood-alcohol beverage
conceals complications.  It was the captain, and his little
stomach-pump, that brought me to that time.  But no more of such
frolicking on board ship.  That episode occurred during my first year
with Captain Dabney.  Never since have I succumbed to the craving while
at sea.  Oh, I'll be all right this time--only don't be startled if you
hear me talking to myself, or roaming about in the middle of the night."

That was all that passed between them.  But during the days following
Martin's eyes often rested on the other with curiosity and sympathy.
It was a new experience for Martin, to be room-mated with a
dipsomaniac, and besides Little Billy had grown to be a very dear
friend, indeed.  Everybody on the ship loved the sunny hunchback.

Little Billy's happy face grew bleak, and many fine lines appeared
about the corners of his eyes and mouth.  He was suffering keenly,
Martin knew.  Even now, he could hear the uneasy, labored breathing of
the man in the bunk above.

It was a strange, changeable, eager face, Little Billy had.  It seemed
to vary in age according to the hunchback's mood; these days he looked
forty, but Martin had seen him appear a youthful twenty during an
exceptionally happy moment.  Actually, Martin learned during the
passage, Little Billy Corcoran's age was thirty-one.

He learned, moreover, that Little Billy was the son, and sole surviving
relative, of Judge Corcoran, a famous California politician in his day.
Judge Corcoran had been a noted "good fellow" and a famous man with the
bottle.  And his son was a hunchback and a dipsomaniac.  Little Billy
was blessed with a fine mind, and he had taken his degree at Yale, but
throughout his hectic life the thirst he was born with proved his

"I am an oddity among a nation of self-made men," Little Billy once
told Martin.  "They all commenced at the bottom and ascended fortune's
ladder, whereas I started at the top and descended.  And what a
descent!  I hit every rung of that ladder with a heavy bump, and jarred
Old Lady Grundy every time.  I was the crying scandal, the horrible
example, of my native heath.  That old rogue, my father, used to boast
that he never got drunk--I used to boast that I never got sober.
Finally, I bumped my last bump and found myself at the bottom.  And
there I stayed, until Captain Dabney, and the dear girl, pulled me out
of the mire."

Almost literally true, this last, for Martin learned that five years
before, Captain Dabney had salvaged Little Billy off the beach at Suva,
a dreadful scarecrow of a man, and Ruth's nursing, and the clean sea
life, had built a new William Corcoran.  But the appetite for the drink
was uneradicable, and the genial hunchback's life was a series of
losing battles with his hereditary curse.

But the boatswain was proved a poor prophet.  Not that week, nor the
next, did they reach Fire Mountain.  The _Cohasset_ crossed the path of
the Orient mail-packets, the great circle sailers, and they entered
their last stretch of Pacific sailing, above the forty-eighth parallel.

Captain Dabney's objective was the little-used gateway to the Bering
that lies between Copper Island and the outlying Aleuts.  They sailed
upon a wild and desolate waste of leaden sea; a sea shrouded frequently
with fog, and plentifully populated with those shipmen's horrors,
foot-loose icebergs.  And their fair sailing abruptly terminated.

It began in the space of a watch.  The glass tumbled, the wind hauled
around to foul, and it began to blow viciously.  For days they rode
hove to.

That was but the beginning.  For weeks, they obtained only an
occasional favorable slant of wind, and these, as often as not, in the
shape of short, sharp gales.  They made the most of them; the blind man
on the poop coached cannily, and Ruth and the boatswain carried on to
the limit.

Martin, once again, as in the days leaving San Francisco, saw the
smother of canvas fill the decks with water.  But such sailing was
rare, and of short duration.  Always, succeeding, came the heavy slap
in the face from the fierce wind god of the North.

Martin labored mightily, in company with his fellows, it being a
constant round of "reef, shake out, and come about."  The days were
sharp, and the nights bitter cold--though, as they won northward, and
the season advanced, the days grew steadily longer.

Went glimmering, as the weeks passed, the high hopes of a record
passage.  Disappeared, also, the assurance of recovering the treasure.
The shadow of Wild Bob Carew fell between them and their destination.

When one day the capricious wind drove them fairly past Copper Island,
and they plunged into the foggy, ill-charted reaches of the Bering,
their jubilation was tempered with a note of pessimism.  They debated,
in the _Cohasset's_ cabin, whether the adventurer of the _Dawn_ had
been beforehand; and Captain Dabney discussed his plans for proceeding
on to the Kamchatka coast for trading in case they discovered Fire
Mountain to be despoiled.

The situation, it seemed to Martin, resolved itself to this: If Carew
knew the latitude and longitude of the smoking mountain--and being
familiar with the Bering Sea, all hands admitted that he might well
know it--the ambergris was most certainly lost to them, unless, as was
most unlikely, the _Dawn_ had had even worse luck with the weather than
the _Cohasset_.  But if Carew did not know Fire Mountain's location,
they had a chance, though Carew was probably cruising adjacent waters,
on the lookout for them--and if they encountered him, they might
prepare to resist a piracy.

Martin, in truth, had a secret hope that they might encounter Carew's
schooner.  He had a healthy lust for trouble and a scorn bred of
ignorance for the Japanese crew of the _Dawn_.  He harbored a grudge
against the _Dawn's_ redoubtable skipper.  Ruth was the kernel of that

And, oddly enough, he had a queer companion also wishing they might be
compelled to battle the Japanese.  It was none other than Charley Bo
Yip, the cook.

Yip hated the Japanese with a furious hatred, if the garbled words that
dropped from his smiling lips were to be believed.  He hated them
individually and nationally.  And he sharpened, ostentatiously, a
meat-cleaver, and proclaimed his intention of procuring a Jap's head as
a trophy, should they have trouble.

"Me China boy, all same Melican," he told Martin, as he industriously
turned the grindstone beneath the cleaver's edge.  "Me like all same
lepublic--me fight like devil all same time when China war.  Now Jap he
come take China.  No good.  Me kill um Jap.  Velly good.  All same chop
um head, chop, chop!"

And Yip waved his cleaver over his head, and a seraphic smile lighted
his bland, unwarlike face.

At last, on the sixty-eighth day of the passage, Martin came on deck
for the morning watch and found the vessel bouncing along under
unaccustomed blue skies, and with a fair breeze.  The boatswain went
below, swiggling himself very stiff with the fervent hope that no
bleeding Jonah would interrupt the course before the next eight bells,
and Ruth took up an expectant watch with the glasses handy.  Captain
Dabney also kept the deck.  Martin knew the landfall was expected.

At the middle of the watch, a squall sent Martin racing aloft to furl
the royal.  It was then that his sea-sharpened sight raised the land.

His hail to the deck aroused the ship.  By the time he had finished his
descent from aloft, all hands were at the rail, endeavoring each to
pick up the distant speck.

Four bells had gone while he was aloft, and he strode aft to take his
wheel.  As he passed along the poop, he heard Ruth say--

"If the breeze holds, we'll be inside in a couple of hours."

Captain Dabney turned his old, sea-wise face to the wind.  After a
moment, he shook his head.

"I feel fog," he said.



Within the hour, Captain Dabney's words bore fruit.  The spanking
ten-knot breeze dropped abruptly to a gentle four-knot power.  Then in
the twinkling of an eye, as it were, the fog enveloped them.

Martin, at the wheel, was straining his eyes, trying to make out the
land ahead that he had seen from aloft.  Abruptly before his eyes rose
a wall of opaque gray.

It was a typical Smoky Sea fog, a wet, dense, Bering blanket.  From his
station near the stern, Martin could not see the rail at the break of
the poop, could hardly, indeed, discern objects a dozen paces distant.
Familiar figures, entering his circle of vision, loomed gigantic and
grotesque.  The _Cohasset_ sailed over a ghostly sea, whose quiet was
broken only by the harsh squawking of sea-birds flying high overhead.

Of recent weeks, Martin had become accustomed to fog.  But there was
about this fog a peculiarity foreign to his experience, though he had
been informed during the cabin talks of the frequent occurrence of this
particular brand of mist in these waters.  For, though Martin, standing
on deck, was surrounded by an impervious wall of fog that pressed upon
him, though he could not see the water overside or forward for a
quarter of the little vessel's length, yet he could bend back his head
and see quite plainly the round ball of the sun glowing dully through
the whitening mist overhead.

He understood the wherefor.  The fog was a low-lying bank, and thirty
feet or so above his head it ended.  He could not, from the wheel,
distinguish the upper hamper, but he knew the topmasts were free of the
mist that shrouded the deck.  Presently, from overhead, and ghostily
piercing the gray veil, came Ruth's clear hail.  She ordered him to
shift the course a couple of points.  So he knew his officer was aloft,
up there in the sunshine, in a position that enabled her to direct
their course.

In such a fashion, creeping through the fog, the _Cohasset_ came at
last to Fire Mountain.  The fog delayed, but did not daunt, the
mariners of the happy family.

After the hurried noon meal, Ruth returned to her station aloft and
resumed conning the vessel by remembered landmarks on the mountain's
face.  On deck, Martin, in company with his fellows, labored under the
boatswain's lurid driving to prepare the ship for anchoring.  They
cockbilled the great hooks, overhauled the cables, and coiled down
running braces and halyards; for, said the captain, attending upon
their bustle with his abnormally sharp ears:

"It's a wide breach in the reef that makes the cove, and the water is
deep right up to the beach.  The lass should have no trouble conning us
in, for she has a clean view aloft.  But just have everything ready for
quick work, bosun, in case we get into trouble."

Hence it was that Martin, a-tingle though he was with curiosity, found
no opportunity to run aloft into the sunshine and view the place he had
talked and dreamed so much about.  Other men went aloft on ship's work,
but Martin's duty kept him racing about the wet decks.

The fog pressed closer upon them as the day advanced, it seemed to
Martin.  It required an effort of his imagination to admit that a few
feet above him the sun shone.

The ship seemed to be crawling blindly about in a limitless void.  Anon
would come Ruth's cheering and mellow halloo, cleaving sweetly through
the drab enveloping blanket, and seeming to Martin's eager ears to be a
good fairy's voice from another world.

The screaming of the sea-birds grew in volume--but not a wing did
Martin spy.  The air appeared to take on an irritating taint; the fog
tasted smoky.

Added to other sounds, slowly grew a great surging rumble.  Aided by
Ruth's calls, Martin knew he heard the sea beating against the reef
that encircled the mountain; but he saw nothing overside but that dead
gray wall.

The upper canvas was clewed up and left hanging, and the brig's slow
pace became perceptibly slower.

A boat was lowered, and Little Billy was pulled into the void ahead;
and directly his musical chant came back, as he sounded their path with
the lead.

The surging thunder came from both sides, and Martin knew they were
entering the haven.  The voices of Ruth and Little Billy brought echoes
from the giant sounding-board ahead.

A sharp command from Captain Dabney, a moment's rush of work to the
accompaniment of a deal of fiery swiggling on the boatswain's part, the
ship lost way and rounded up, the anchor dropped with a dull _plub_,
the chain roared through the hawse-pipe and brought a vastly multiplied
echoing roar from the invisible cliffs, and there was a sudden,
myriad-voiced screeching from the startled birds.  Succeeded an
ominous, oppressive quiet, broken only by the dull thunder of the surf.

Martin drew a long breath and stared at the blank, impervious void
about him.

"So this," he thought whimsically, "is the terrible Fire Mountain!"  He
was excitedly happy.

A few moments later, when he went aloft to furl sail, he saw the shore,
this unmarked, unknown rock that had filled his thoughts for months.

It was a sudden and eery transition as he mounted the rigging, from
gray night to sunshine in the space of a few ratlines.  On the
foretopgallant-yard he was above the fog, the very roof of the bank
lying a dozen feet below.  The decks were concealed from him.

Overhead, the sky was blue and the gulls drove past and circled about
in white screaming clouds.  Before him, and on either side, not five
hundred yards distant, loomed the mountain.

Martin stared intently and curiously, and, despite himself, that bleak
and desolate outlook sobered the gaiety of his mood.  On three sides
the rock reared skyward, bare and black, with never a hint of

The mountain formed a rough cone; some two thousand feet overhead was
the summit, and over it hovered a cloud of white steam vapor, and a
twisting column of curiously yellow-brown smoke that trailed away
lazily on a light wind.  Martin, staring at it, decided that the air he
breathed did have an alien, a sulphurous taint.

There were no raw fissures about the crater edge, and no evidence
beyond the rather thin volume of smoke that the volcano contained life.
Yet Martin seemed to hear, above the thunder of the surf in the fog
beneath him, a distant, ominous rumbling, as if the slumbering Vulcan
of the mountain were snoring in his sleep.

But it was the mountainside that longest held Martin's fascinated gaze.
For, in her fiery past, the volcano had clad her flanks with black lava
that was now molded into a vast chaos of fantastic architecture and
sculptures.  It was as if an army of crazy artists had here expended
their lunatic energies.

He saw huge, round towers, leaning all awry; a vast pile fashioned like
a church front, with twin steeples canting drunkenly; the tremendous
columns the captain had told him of; jutting masses that hinted in
their half-formed outlines of gigantic, crouching beasts.  And
everywhere in that weird field of shapes were the openings of
caves--dark blots in the black stone.

The mountain was truly a sponge-like labyrinth, Martin perceived.  He
could not see the strip of beach, however, or the cavern mouth, shaped
like an elephant's head, of the whaleman's log.  The fog hid them from

But what he did see was sufficient.  It was an evil landscape.  It
loomed black and forbidding against the background of blue sky, and the
sun failed to lighten the aspect.  It threatened.  The stark
desolateness of the place was enhanced by the wild cawing of the gulls
and the mournful booming of the sea upon the reef.

Martin was depressed, as by a foreboding of ill fortune.  He turned to
Rimoa, who was on the yard-arm with him, and spoke with forced

"A cheerful-looking place, eh, Rimoa?"

The Maori shuddered, and there was fear in his eyes.

"No like!" he said.  "This place bad, bad, bad!"

Then, as they bent to their work, the fog-bank suddenly lifted,
enveloped them, and hid the black mountain from view.



"No, we'll not go ashore tonight," stated Captain Dabney at supper.
"We would only lose ourselves blundering about in this fog.  If the
stuff is still there, it will keep until tomorrow.  In the morning
we'll have a try, whether the fog has lifted or not."

"We'll find the junk unless Wild Bob and Ichi have beaten us to it,"
said Little Billy.  "Hope they are not snugged close by behind this
blooming curtain."

"No danger of that," answered Ruth.  "If the _Dawn_ had been anywhere
near us, I would have raised her topmasts above the bank.  I didn't, so
she is neither outside nor inside.  They have either been here or gone,
or they never arrived.  In either case, I am thankful for Carew's
absence.  Shall we stand watch and watch tonight, captain?"

"Hardly necessary," said the captain.  "Make it an anchor watch.  Guess
you'll welcome a couple of extra hours in your bunks.  Let's see,
Martin, you stand watch with the afterguard; that will make four of
you--Ruth, Bosun, Little Billy, and Martin.  Have the fo'c's'le stand
watch in batches of two.  Make Chips and Sails--they have been farmers
the passage--stand watch and watch.  That will make four hands on deck
at a time--plenty for any sudden emergency.  But if the fog lifts
during the night, rouse the ship at once and we'll set off for the
beach.  Got your directions ready, Billy?"

"Yes, in my pocket," said the hunchback.  "But I venture that we all
know them by heart."

"If the fog lifts, wind may follow," added the captain.  "If it breezes
up from the south we may have to hike out of here in a hurry.  How much
chain is out?  Forty-five?  Well, have the bosun clap the devil's claw
on ahead of the shackle, and loosen the pin, in case we have to drop
the cable.  And--all hands at four o'clock."

In the lottery that presently followed, Martin drew the watch from two
to four in the morning.  Little Billy's paper called for from twelve to
two.  Ruth and the boatswain divided the first four hours.

Before he turned in, Martin went forward to discover which of the
forecastle hands would share his vigil.  When he came abreast the
galley door, where a beam of light shining out lighted dimly a small
patch of the pervading, foggy murk, he encountered Sails.

MacLean was standing in the light, bitterly recounting his troubles to
the cheerfully grinning Charley Bo Yip.  Martin paused, and was
promptly aware that Sails had transferred his flow of words to the
newcomer, as being a better audience than the unresponsive Chinaman.

Martin gathered that Sails was to stand the middle watch, and that he
was aggrieved that the best blood of Scotland had been bested in a game
of chance by a blanked squarehead ship's carpenter, who had, it seemed,
won the right to stand the earlier watch.  And, in any case, it was
sacrilege to violate the night's rest of a MacLean.  And a sailmaker
was a dash-blanked tradesman and should never be blankety well asked to
stand a watch under any dashed circumstances!  So quoth Sails.

Martin commiserated with the other.

"You'll be on watch with me, Sails," he concluded.  "I have the two to
four.  Little Billy has the earlier half of the watch."

"Little Billy!" echoed Sails.  "Did ye say Little Billy, lad?"  His
belligerent voice dropped to a hoarse whisper.  "_Och_, lad--Little

"Why, yes.  What is wrong with that?" answered Martin.

Suddenly Sails raised an arm and shook a clenched fist at the mountain
that brooded invisible behind the fog curtain.

"_Och_, ye black de'il's kirk!" he declaimed.  "Ye blood-sucker!  The
MacLean's curse on ye!"

He stood in relief against the muddy background, his features dimly
lighted by the ray from the galley lamp, wisps of fog eddying about his
gray head and beard, his features wild and passion-working.  And he
cursed the Fire Mountain.  It was unreal, unearthly, a scene from
another age.  But Martin felt a superstitious thrill.

"Great Scott!  What is the matter?" he cried, startled.

MacLean lowered his arm, and his shoulders slumped despondently.  He
mumbled to himself.  Then, in answer to Martin, he said:

"Little Billy--_och_, 'tis Little Billy, dear Billy!  'Tis feydom,
lad!"  And he turned abruptly, strode forward, and was lost in the fog.

When Martin reached aft again, he intended to tell Little Billy about
MacLean's strange behavior.  He found the hunchback restlessly pacing
the tiny floor space of their common room.  Little Billy lifted a
haggard face as Martin entered.

"Hello, Martin," he said.  "I was waiting up for you.  Here--keep these
for me, will you?"  He extended a bunch of keys.  "I'm feeling extra
dry tonight, and I don't want to be tempted by knowing I have the key
to the medicine-chest in my pocket.  Whenever I pass that confounded
box, I think of the two quarts of booze inside, and my tongue swells.
Just keep the keys till tomorrow, will you?  Ruth kept them for me when
I had my last big thirst, a few weeks ago--remember?  But I would
rather you kept them this time.  I don't want her to know I'm having a
hard time.  She makes such a fuss over me, stuffs me with pills, and
makes me drink that vile sassafras tea."

Martin dropped the bunch of keys into his trousers pocket.  He regarded
Little Billy with sympathy.  For the past few days, the hunchback had
again been engaged in a bout with his ancient enemy.  Little Billy was
fighting manfully, but the strain was telling, aging his mobile face,
making rare his sunny smile and whimsical banter.  Martin keenly felt
the other's suffering, for he had learned to love the little cripple.

"Cheer up, Billy!" he said.  "A better day coming."

"Oh, sure!  Don't worry about me," responded Little Billy.  "Turn in
and get your sleep.  I'm for the bunk, too--but I guess I'll read a bit
before I turn the lamp down.  Lord, don't I wish I owned a saloon!
Well, tomorrow we'll find the ambergris, and I'll have money enough to
drink myself peacefully to death--providing that devil, Carew, hasn't
been before us to this cheerful spot.  Good night."

Clambering into his bunk, the little man composed himself to a pretense
of reading.

Martin decided he would not trouble Little Billy with a recital of
MacLean's outburst.  The poor fellow's mind was feverish enough without
being bothered with the old Scotchman's wild, nonsensical raving.
Martin knew the hunchback would consider gravely, and be disturbed, if
he spoke.  Little Billy apparently had some faith in Sails' mystical

In truth, Martin himself, was impressed and oppressed by the Scot's
obscure hints of evil to come--they fitted so well with the wild and
gloomy face of the volcano and the depressing fog.  Martin was half
ashamed of his dread of something he could not name; but he turned in
standing, removing only his shoes and loosening his belt, before
crawling into his bunk and drawing the blankets over him.

A strange hand grasping his shoulder brought Martin out of deep sleep
to instant consciousness.  The light still burned in the room, and his
opening eyes first rested on the tin clock hanging on the wall
opposite.  It was one o'clock.

The hand that shook him belonged to MacLean.  The old man was bending
over him with the white face of one who has seen a ghost.

"He's gone!" he softly exclaimed, before Martin could frame a question.

Startled, Martin sat up and swung his legs outboard.

"What--Little Billy?"  A glance showed him the upper bunk was empty.

"Aye--Billy," responded Sails.  "_Och_, 'tis a bad night outdoors,
lad--a thick, dark night.  And Billy's gone.  Didna' I see him in the
dark, and wearing the black shroud, these months agone!  He was feyed!
Yon mount is the de'il's home, and others----"

"What are you talking about?" interrupted Martin impatiently.  "What
nonsense!  Isn't Little Billy on deck?  Isn't he on watch?"

"On watch?  Aye, who kens where he watches now?  He's gone, I tell ye!"
hissed the old man fiercely.  And then, apparently observing Martin's
bewilderment, he went on: "He has disappeared from deck.  _Och_, I can
no say how!  The Powers o' Darkness can no be seen through, and he was
under the black shroud!  I saw him at one bell when he came for'rd and
routed me oot the galley where I was taking a wee spell.

"_Och_, 'tis a black, bad night the night.  Ye canna' see your hand
afore ye.  And Billy went aft, and I leaned on the rail, and
listened--listened, for I couldna' see.  And I heard _It_!  Aye, I
kenned 'twas _It_, for 'twas no the soond o' the waves, nor the calling
o' the birds, nor the splash o' anything that lives in the sea.  I
kenned it was _It_.  Hadna' I seen the shroud?  Soonded like an oar
stroke.  'Twas the Prince o' Evil soonding his way, a-coming wi' his
shroud.  _Och_!  I run aft to tell Billy, and I tell ye, lad, Little
Billy was gone!"

MacLean leaned forward, grunting his words earnestly, his face working
with superstitious fear.

"Oh, nonsense!" exclaimed Martin.  "You make me tired with your eternal
'fey' business.  Little Billy is somewhere around the deck--probably
seeking you, this minute."

"He's gone!" reiterated Sails.  "I searched, I tell ye!  I got my
lantern, and I looked all aboot the poop, and all aboot the decks,
clear for'rd, and I sang oot as loud as I could wi'oot rousing all
hands--and no hide or hair o' Billy could I find.  _Och_, he's gone, I
tell ye, lad.  Didna' I see him lying stark in the dark place, wi' the
black shroud over him.  The MacLeans ha' the sight, lad, and I am the
seventh son."

"All right, all right!  Don't chatter so loud, you'll awaken
everybody," interrupted Martin.  He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes,
and bent over and pulled on his shoes.  "I'll go on deck with you, and
of course Little Billy will give us the laugh."

But Martin was, in fact, a little bit impressed by the old sailmaker's
earnest conviction.  As he laced his shoes, a little superstitious
thrill tingled along his spine at the thought of _It_ plucking Little
Billy from the deck and carrying him into the dark depths of the
brooding mountain.

But that was nonsense, he immediately reflected, half angry with
himself.  By George!  If he allowed that confounded volcano to affect
him so, he would soon be as bad as old Sails!  Still, he had better go
on deck and take a look at Little Billy, and satisfy the old man.  His
watch was soon, anyway.

Martin was recalling the hunchback's nervousness a few hours previous;
Little Billy was wrestling John Barleycorn.  If he had disappeared as
the sailmaker claimed, he had probably lost the bout and would be found
in drunken sleep.  There was whisky in the medicine-chest--no, he had
the keys.  Well, then the alcohol in the boatswain's locker.

"Was there anything unusual about Little Billy's manner when you saw
him at one bell?" he asked MacLean.

"No, lad.  I ken your thought," replied the other.  "He'd no had a
drop, though he was jumpy as a cat."

Martin was taken aback by Sails' shrewd guess.  He tiptoed to the door.

"Come on," he whispered to Sails.  "Don't make any noise.  We don't
want to disturb the others until we make sure Little Billy isn't on the

They stepped into the cabin, and Martin's first glance was toward the
medicine-chest.  It had not been disturbed.  They went forward, through
the cabin alleyway, toward the main deck.  The boatswain's room opened
off here.

Martin opened the door, half expecting to see the hunchback chatting
with his bosom friend.  But the room was dark, and the red giant was
sleeping noisily.  Then they opened the door at the end of the alleyway
and stepped out on deck, Martin softly closing the door behind him.

Abruptly, Martin found himself isolated in a sea of murk.  At that
hour, the sun had dipped for its brief concealment beneath the horizon,
and the fog, which had been a gray-brown curtain in daylight, was now
an all-enshrouding cloak of blackness that rendered eyesight useless.

Literally, Martin could not see his hand before his face.  Nor could he
see the door to the cabin alleyway, that he had just closed, though he
had stepped but a couple of paces away from it.  Nor could he see
Sails, though the latter stood but an arm's length distant.  Sails's
hoarse whisper came through the gloom:

"Ye see the night, lad?  _Och_, 'tis a night for evil!"

Martin shivered at the sound of Sails' dismal croaking.  See the night!
He could see nothing.  The other's voice came out of an impenetrable
void.  Above him, beneath him, all about him, was nothing but
blackness, thick, clinging gloom.  The Stygian, fog-filled night
crushed, like a heavy, intangible weight; one choked for breath.

Martin felt like an atom lost in back immensity.  He wanted to shout at
the top of his voice.  But what he did do was lift his voice gently, so
the words would not arouse the sleepers in the cabin.

"Little Billy!  Billy!" he called.

His call was swallowed up, smothered, by the night.  He strained his
ears.  But the only answer was the eery cry of a night-flying gull and
the deep moaning of the sea upon the rocks--that and the hoarse, uneasy
breathing of the invisible MacLean.

Martin was more than disturbed by that silence.

"Sails, who are the foc'sle hands who have this watch?" he said.

"Rimoa and Oomak," came MacLean's voice.  "They were for'rd when I came
aft for you."

Martin called again, along the decks.

"Rimoa!  Oomak!  For'rd there--speak up!"

The wailing voices of the night replied; not a word, not a footfall
came out of the gloom to tell of stirring human life.

"Good Lord, they must all be asleep!" exclaimed Martin testily.
"Sails, where is that lantern you spoke of?"

"In the galley--I left it there," answered the sailmaker.  "I will go
fetch it."

He heard MacLean's retreating footsteps, uncertain and uneven, as the
man felt his way forward.  The diminishing sounds affected him
strangely; he was suddenly like a little child affrighted by the dark.
The sinister night contained a nameless threat.  The black wall that
encompassed him, flouting his straining gaze, seemed peopled by
rustlings and leering eyes.  Abruptly, Martin decided to follow
MacLean, instead of waiting for him.

He stepped out in the other's wake, as he thought.  After a blundering
moment, he fetched up against the ship's rail.  He tacked away and
bumped into the after capstan, which stood in the middle of the deck.
He barked his shins there and swore aloud to relieve his surcharged

Then his groping hand encountered a little object, lying on top of the
capstan, that checked his words instantly.  It was a well-known
article, one he had handled often, and recognized immediately he
touched it--it was Little Billy's rubber tobacco-pouch.  He fingered it
apprehensively, staring about him.  Why was Little Billy's pouch
abandoned there on the capstan-head, this pocket companion of an
inveterate smoker?  Why, Little Billy must be near by!  He called

"Billy!  Billy!  Where are you?"

The night took his hail and returned its own sphinx-like reply.  Martin
stuffed the pouch into his pocket.  He was distinctly uneasy, now, on
the hunchback's account.  Something had happened, he felt--some
accident had happened to Little Billy.  It was not like Little Billy to
thus forsake his beloved shag, his constant ally in his fight against
the drink hunger.  Had the poor devil succumbed after all?  Had he
deserted Nicotine for Barleycorn?

Martin leaned over the capstan, peering into that baffling gloom.  He
stiffened tensely.  He seemed to hear whispering; it came out of that
black pit before him, the very ghost of a man's voice.

He strained his ears, but the sound, if sound it were, was not
repeated.  He was impatient for MacLean to appear with the lantern, but
he could no longer hear MacLean's footfalls.  Then his ears caught
another sound; it was peculiar, like the patter of bare feet.

"MacLean!  Where are you?" he called sharply.  "Hurry with that

Instead of MacLean's voice in reply, he heard a heavy breathing, the
sound of a man taking several long, sobbing breaths.  The breathing
ceased immediately, but a light patter followed it, and then the scrape
of a shod foot across the deck.  The sounds came from just ahead, close
by, but he could see nothing.  But he sensed some kind of a struggle
was taking place on the deck.

He started forward, and then stopped dead.  Out of the black void
before him came MacLean's voice--strangled words in a horrible,
ascending pitch:

"Marty!  Marty!  My God!  Ah-h-h!"

There, was the thud of a heavy, falling body striking the deck.

For a second Martin was anchored by horror.  Then he leaped forward,
giving voice as he did to a great, arousing, wordless bellow.  And even
as he ran blindly ahead those few paces, he heard a heavy voice give a
shouted supplement to his call.

The darkness was suddenly alive with rushing feet.  A body hurled
itself against him, an arm struck a sweeping blow, and he felt the
knife rip through his flannel shirt and graze his shoulder near his

He went reeling backward, his foot tripped on a ring-bolt in the deck,
and he fell heavily.  His head struck with stunning force against a
bulwark stanchion.

The collision scattered his wits, and Martin lay in the scuppers,
blinking at the dancing lights before his eyes.  In his ears was a
great humming.  Then, after a moment, the humming broke into parts and
became a babel of shouts.

He heard a harsh chatter--voices crying out in a foreign tongue.  He
heard a great booming voice that stirred memory.  He heard a
pistol-shot.  He heard Ruth's voice, raised in a sharp, terror-stricken

"Martin--Billy--Martin!  Oh, help!"

The scream galvanized Martin to action.  _She_ was calling him!

He struggled to arise, got upon his knees, reached upward and grasped a
belaying-pin in the rail above.  Clutching the pin, he drew himself

He swayed drunkenly for a moment, still dizzied by his fall.  The
pandemonium of a moment agone was stilled.  Ruth did not cry out again,
but voices came from aft.  The belaying-pin he grasped was loose in its
hole and unencumbered by rope.  Quite without reasoning, Martin drew it
out, and, grasping it clublike, lurched aft.

Twice during his headlong flight toward the cabin, hands reached out of
the darkness to stay him.  And twice the stout, oaken club he wielded
impacted against human skulls, and men dropped in their tracks.

Martin burst out of the gloom into the small half-circle of half light
that came from the now open alleyway door.  He rushed through, into the

He had time but for a glimpse of the scene in the cabin.  One whirling
glance that took in the scattered company--the bedraggled Japanese,
Captain Dabney lying face down across the threshold of his room, his
white hair bloodied, Wild Bob Carew lifting a startled face.  And Carew
was holding a squirming, fighting Ruth in his arms!

Martin hardly checked the stride of his entrance.  He flung himself
toward the man who held his woman, and his club cracked upon another

A man hurtled against him and drove him against the wall.  He saw Carew
fall, and Ruth spill free of the encircling arms.

Then a hand took him by the throat, long, supple, muscular fingers
stopping his wind.  He saw a face upraised to his--an expressionless
yellow face, with glittering, slanting eyes.  He drew up his club for
the blow.  The slender fingers were probing upward, behind his jawbone,
and he was choking.

Then, it seemed to Martin, a stream of liquid fire flooded his veins,
searing his entire body.  The belaying-pin dropped from his nerveless
hand, his arms dropped, his knees sagged.

The terrible fingers squeezed tighter.  He could feel his eyeballs
starting, his tongue swelling.  The flame consumed his vitals.  It was
hellish pain--quite the sharpest agony Martin had ever felt.

He was upon his back on the floor.  The fingers were gone, but the
awful pain continued.  His wits were swimming.  A pair of soft arms
were about him.  His reeling head was cushioned against a loved and
fragrant breast; a dear voice spoke his name anxiously.

"Martin, Martin!  What have they done?  Oh, Martin, speak to me!"  He
tried to speak, but could not.

Then the loved presence was gone, and he was alone.  A face bent over
him!--a yellow face.  It was a well-remembered face, the face of little
Dr. Ichi.  But what a towsled, bedraggled successor to the former dandy!

Ichi was smiling at him.  It was all very strange to Martin, unreal,
like the fancies of a delirium.  A mist came before his eyes and
blotted out the smiling face.  But his senses left him with Ichi's
courteously spoken words in his ears:

"Very, very sorry, Mr. Blake.  You were of such roughness we were
compelled to use the ju-jitsu!"



It seemed to Martin he was wandering in a vast and thirsty desert.  To
the very core of his being he was dry.  Drink!  Drink!  With his whole
life he lusted drink.  He waded through that parched world, burning up
with thirst.

Despite his efforts, his mouth sagged open, and his tongue, swollen to
prodigious size, burst through its proper limits and hung down upon his
breast, broiling in the rays of the hot sun.  To make the keener his
thirst, there lay before him a delectable oasis, a patch of moist
green, with playing fountains and rippling cascades plainly visible to
his tortured gaze.  He struggled toward it, and always, as he neared
it, some malign influence clutched his wrists--which unaccountably
stuck out behind him--and jerked him back.

For ages and ages he waded through the dry sand toward the water, and
ever the Evil One who controlled his wrists kept him from attaining his
desire.  Water!  Water!  He was in agony for water.  Water!  Would he
never reach that blessed water?

Then something cold, slimy, horrible, ran over his face, and the
loathful thrill he felt shocked him into reality.

The desert vanished.  He tried to move and sat up.  He heard a frenzied
squeaking, and a light scampering on wood, and he knew that a rat had
run over his body.

All the sensations of consciousness assailed him abruptly.  He heard
the rats, and a deep rumble near by; he saw dimly in the darkness; he
smelled of mingled odors of provisions; he felt thirst.  Though he was
out of the desert, he was still consumed with thirst.

He sat quietly for a moment while his confused thoughts gradually
arrayed themselves in orderly fashion.  He knew where he was
instantly--the jumble of casks, and kegs, and boxes, that surrounded
him, and which he could dimly perceive in the gloom, and the smell,
told him he was in the ship's lazaret.  How he came to be there was as
yet concealed behind a haze that clouded his memory.

Next, he became aware that something was the matter with his arms.
They ached cruelly.  After a moment's experimenting and reflection the
truth came to him with shocking force--his arms were drawn behind him,
and his wrists were handcuffed together.  The shock of that discovery
dissipated the fog over his mind.  He began to remember.

But while his wits groped, he was sharply conscious of his thirst.  It
blazed.  His tongue felt like a piece of swollen leather.  He felt
pain.  His throat was throbbing with pain.  Water!  Water was the
pressing need, the most important thing in existence.

He tried to mouth his desire, to speak it aloud, and a weak and painful
gurgle struggled outward from his throat.

There was a stir close by him, and a voice spoke up.  Martin was then
aware that the deep rumble he had been listening to was the sound of a
man swearing deeply and softly.  The man now spoke to him.

"Ow, lad, is that you?  'Ave you come to, Martin!"

Martin peered toward the voice, and saw a few feet ahead of him, beyond
a circular stanchion, the shadowy outline of a man.  He tried to speak,
to say, "Bosun!  Bosun!"  But his misused throat and parched tongue
refused to form the words.  And with the other's voice came memory,
complete and terrible.  The past was arrayed before his mind's eye with
a lightning flash of recollection.  The dreadful present was clear to
him in all its bitter truth.

He remembered the trip to the deck in search of Little Billy; the
black, evil night, and MacLean's horrified outcry.  He remembered the
scene in the cabin, Captain Dabney lying inert on the floor, the
hateful ring of yellow faces, and Carew--Carew clasping Ruth in his

He remembered felling Carew, and being felled himself by the lethal
clutch of the Japanese.  He remembered Ichi, and even Ichi's words,
"compelled to use the ju-jitsu."  They had ju-jitsued him!  That was
what was wrong with his throat.

The sum of his memories was clear, and for the moment it crushed and
terrified him.  For it was evident that that which they had speculated
upon as a remote almost impossible, contingency, had come to pass--the
brig was in Carew's hands.  They had been surprised in the fog, a
piracy had occurred, murder had been done, and Wild Bob and his yellow
followers had taken the ship.

He was a prisoner in the bowels of the ship, his hands chained behind
his back, absolutely helpless.  And Sails was dead!  And Little Billy
was dead!  Captain Dabney was dead!  The crew--God knew, perhaps--they
were slaughtered too!  And Ruth--Ruth was alive, in Carew's hands, at
the mercy of the brute she so feared.  Ruth was alive--to suffer what
fate?  And he--he who loved her--was chained and helpless.

Panic, rage, despair, shook Martin.  In excess of misery, he groaned
aloud, a smothered sob of anguish.

"Martin, lad!  'Ave you come around?  You're sittin' up.  Ow, swiggle
me, lad, pipe up!"

The words came from the huddled figure behind the stanchion, in a husky
beseeching rumble.  The shadowy figure stirred, and Martin heard the
sharp clink of steel striking against steel.

The words and the sound pierced his dread, and brought his thoughts
back to the boatswain.  He tried a second time to answer the other's
hail, and managed to articulate in a hoarse mumble.  The words tore
barbed through his sore throat, and were hardly managed by his dry,
swollen tongue.

"All right--bos--dry--come."

He got upon his knees and peered into the darkness about him.  He was
in a narrow passageway between two rows of ship's stores that fan fore
and after the length of the lazaret.  He was facing forward.  Just
behind him, on his right hand, a ladder ran up to the cabin overhead,
but the trapdoor in the cabin floor was closed.

His scrutiny was aided as much by memory as by eyesight, for he had
several times been in this chamber, breaking out stores.  The passage
he sat in, he knew, ran forward to the row of beef casks which abutted
against the forward bulkhead.  Midway was an intersecting, thwart-ship
alleyway between the stores.  At this point of intersection was the
stanchion, behind which was the boatswain, a hulking black blot in the
surrounding gloom.

He hunched himself along upon his knees, and reached the stanchion.

"Drink--dry--water," he gabbled painfully.

"Marty--Marty, lad, I'm glad you're 'ere!" came the heartfelt whisper
from the boatswain.  "I feared 'e 'ad choked the life out o' ye.  Dry,
ye say?  So am I, lad.  Cussed so much I can't spit--an' my back's
bloomin' well busted from bending over 'ugging this stanchion!"

Martin, leaning against a tier of boxes, was able to see the boatswain
more clearly.  He could not make out the other's features plainly, but
he almost rubbed against an arm and leg, and he saw that the big man
was in his underwear.  The boatswain was seated on the floor, and his
arms and legs encircled the stanchion.

"I'd 'a' come to you, Marty, but the blighters 'ave me ironed, ironed
'and an' foot around this bloody stanchion!  Ow, but it's a black
business, lad!  But can ye stand, Martin?  'Ave they ironed you, too?"

Martin desperately endeavored to swallow the dry lump in his throat.

"Behind back--hand," he managed to gulp out.  "Throat bad--can't

"Be'ind your back!" broke in the boatswain.  "Ow ---- blast the cruel
devils!  Be'ind your back--ironed be'ind your back!  An' you lyin' on
your arms these hours!  That's cruel 'ard--'arder than me 'ugging this
ruddy post.  Throat bad?  I know--I seen them giving you the squeeze.
Ju-jitsu--swiggle me if it wasn't!  But can ye stand, Martin?  'Ave you
the use o' your legs?  Because, them boxes you're leanin' against are
canned goods, tomatoes an' such, and----"

But Martin heard no more.  He had struggled to his feet, and begun to
investigate.  For the boatswain's remark concerning canned goods had
brought two memories to his mind.  One memory went back to the old,
half-forgotten days of his clerkhood in San Francisco.  In those days
he had occasionally gone on Sunday hikes over the Marin hills, in
company with Fatty Jones, who worked in a neighboring office.  And
Fatty Jones, he recalled, always carried with him, in preference to a
canteen, two cans of tomatoes for drinking purposes.

The second memory went back but a week.  He, and the two Kanakas of his
watch, had been sent below to break out a fresh cask of beef.  As they
struggled with the heavy burden in this very passageway, one of the
Kanakas had knocked from its position on top of a pile, a box of
tomatoes.  The fall broke open the box.  They had tossed it back into
place, unrepaired.  Unless some one had subsequently renailed the cover
on that box, it was open to him, somewhere along the top tier.

A vision of himself quaffing deeply of the cool, wet contents of those
cans, filled Martin's mind to the exclusion of aught else.

The row of boxes was about breast-high.  Unable to use his hands,
Martin leaned over and explored with his chin.  The fourth box rewarded
him.  He broke his skin upon a bared nail, and, craning further, rubbed
his jawbone over the cold, smooth, round tops of cans.

He crooned with delight.  Then followed despair as he discovered that
he was unable, without the use of his hands, to either move the box or
extract a can.

The boatswain, following his progress with eye and ear, counseled him:

"Turn around, an' bend over, an' reach up backwards.  No?  Well, try
and get on top o' the pile, and flop over."

It was bracing advice.  Martin pulled himself together and essayed the

Slowly he wormed his way upward until his middle balanced on the edge
of the top tier.  A quick writhe placed him atop.  Then he bent back,
and his manacled hands felt around till they encountered the cans.

It required repeated attempts ere he was able to draw one out of the
box, for the cans were large, of gallon size, and his numbed arms were
almost strengthless.  But at last he plucked one out and canted it over
the edge of the box.  It struck the deck with a thud.  He scrambled
down from his perch, croaking excitedly--

"Got it--bos--got--one."

An instant later, he had kicked the can to the stanchion, and was
squatted again by the boatswain's side.

The boatswain slid his arms down the post and felt of the treasure.

"Aye--ye got it!" he commented.  "But 'ow'll we open the thing?  Too
big for me to get my 'ands around, or I'd twist it open--an' the way
we're tied up we can't bash it against anything.  Strike me a blushin'
pink, what rotten luck.  An' we fair perishin' with thirst!"

"Got--knife?" mumbled Martin.

"Knife!  I ain't got my bloody clothes, let alone my knife!  Caught me
in my bunk, asleep, they did.  And you needn't twist about looking for
your sheath-knife, lad.  I seen them take it from you, up there in the
cabin.  Swiggle me' we're stumped--but, you 'aven't a pocket-knife,
'ave you?"

"No," answered Martin.

His spirits were at zero, with the diminishing prospect of tasting
those wet tomatoes.  His raging thirst, whetted by expectation,
assailed him with added force; he was actually dizzy with lust of drink.

"Blimme!  'Aven't you anything in your pockets what's sharp?" asked the
boatswain.  "Ow, what tough luck!"

Martin suddenly remembered something.

"Got--keys," he croaked.  "Bunch--keys."

"Keys!" echoed the other.  "Bless me that's better.  May work it.  Can
you reach them--what pocket?  Side?  'Ere--lean closer to me, an' I'll
get 'em out.  Keys!  Ow--any of them sharp pointed?  Any Yales?"

Two of the boatswain's clublike fingers worked their way into Martin's
trousers pocket.

"Don't know--not--mine," Martin answered the questioning.  "Keys
belong--Little Billy--gave----"

The boatswain's fingers stopped prodding for a second.  The man tensed,
drew in a sharp breath, and then exploded an oath.

"What!  Billy's keys?  God 'elp us lad, did ye say you 'ad Little
Billy's keys?"

The fingers dove into the pocket with redoubled energy, grasped the
keys, and drew them out.  And then the boatswain pawed them over for a

"Ow, strike me, 'e spoke right!" he muttered exultingly.  "Billy's
keys--the steward's ring!  Oh ho!  An' may the devil swiggle me
bleedin' well stiff, if 'ere ain't the wery key!  By 'Eaven, I'll 'ave
my bare 'ands on that bloke yet!  Ow--what luck!"

"What--" commenced the astonished Martin.

"What!" echoed the boatswain.  "Ere--you just stand around, and let me
get at them bracelets.  I'll show ye what!  Ow--where's the bloody
'ole!  Ah-h!"

There was a tiny click--and Martin felt his steel bonds being drawn
from his wrists.  His nerveless arms fell to his sides.

The boatswain explained the miracle.

"Little Billy's keys--'ow'd you 'appen--don't ye see, lad?  There's a
duplicate key to these irons on Billy's key-ring.  Old man 'as the
other key--or 'ad, suppose Carew 'as it now.  It fits all the irons.
'Ere, turn me loose now.  This little key!"

A moment later, Martin's fumbling fingers completed their task, and the
big man's limbs were free.  The boatswain straightened and stretched
with a grunt of satisfaction.  Martin, obeying the dominant need, which
was to drink, seized the can of tomatoes and commenced to pound it
against the stanchion, in the hope of bursting it open.

"'Ere--stop that!" hoarsely commanded the boatswain.  "You'll 'ave them
down on us with that noise.  Give me the can--an' the keys.  Ah--'ere's
a Yale, saw edge.  Just drive it through--so.  An' use it like a
bloomin' can-opener--so.  'Ere you are, lad, drink 'earty.  I know 'o'w
a chokin' like you got makes a man crazy with thirst.  I'm some dry

Martin seized the can.  The boatswain had cut a small, jagged opening
in the top and Martin clapped his mouth over it, cutting his lips in
his eagerness.  He drank, drank.  It was an exquisite delight to feel
the cool stream pouring down his throat; his whole body was instantly
refreshed, invigorated.

He paused for breath, and drank again.  The contents of the can were
three-quarters drinkable, and he gulped the major portion down.  Then
he stopped with a sudden shame of his greediness, recalling the
boatswain's expressed need.

"Oh, bosun, I forgot!" he exclaimed, noting as he spoke that his tongue
was limber and tractable again, and that he could form words.

"That's all right, laddie," said the boatswain, taking the proffered
can.  "I know 'ow you felt.  Enough for me 'ere.  Ah, that's better
than the best drink ever mixed be'ind a bar.  Plenty, lad, plenty--I
feel fit now.  'Ere, 'ave some more."

Martin finished the tin.  Then he heaved a surfeited sigh.

"Oh, I didn't think I'd ever get enough," he said.  "Why, I was so dry
I couldn't talk.  And my throat----"

"I know," interrupted the boatswain, sitting down beside him.  "You're
bleedin' lucky to be talkin' now, even in a whisper.  I've seen other
men choked like you was, an' they couldn't say a word for days.  Slick
beggars with their fingers, them jitsu blokes!  And now, Martin, let's
figure it out.  Ow, swiggle me, what'll we do?  The lass----"

The boatswain swore deeply and energetically.

Martin groaned in unison with the other's oaths, his love-born panic
for the girl's safety overwhelming him again.  Grim, horrible fears
surged through his mind and pricked him unendurably.  God!  Ruth, his
Ruth, was alone, helpless, at the mercy of those devils' lusts!  And he
was sitting here inactive!  It was unendurable!

He scrambled to his feet, with the wild idea of mounting the ladder to
the cabin and battering his way through the trap-door.  He must succor

The boatswain reached up a huge hand and pulled him down again.  Martin
struggled for a moment, his reason clouded by his hot fear.

"But, bosun--Ruth!" he cried.  "Ruth is--Good God, man, Carew and those
yellow men have Ruth!"

The giant restrained him as easily as if he were a child, and talked

"Aye, aye, lad--I know.  But Ruth is safe, I think, so far.  An' ye can
bet your bottom dollar Carew will keep the Japs at their distance of
the lass, and she'll stand off Carew--for a w'ile, any'ow.  Swiggle me,
Martin, 'ave sense.  What can ye do bare-'anded?  'Ere, now, sit still,
and we'll figure out some plan.  Ruth's all right.  She's in the Old
Man's room, a-nursin' 'im."

"No, no--the captain is dead!" asserted Martin.  "I saw him lying dead
on the floor!"

"'E wasn't dead," said the boatswain.  "Carew took 'is gun away, and
'it 'im over the eye with the butt of it.  Laid 'im out, same as you.
They let the lass take 'im into 'is room and stay there to nurse 'im.
I seen it, I tell ye!"

Martin subsided.

"But what will we do?" he exclaimed.  "We must do something, bosun!"

"Aye--please God, we'll do something," said the boatswain.  "Please
God, I'll 'ave my 'ands on that black-'earted murderer--and on Ichi,
too!  I 'ave a plan.  But first, tell me what 'appened to you?  'Ow did
you 'appen to be on deck?  It wasn't your watch.  What 'appened on deck
before you came bouncing into the cabin and batted Carew on the knob
with the belayin'-pin?  Neat crack!  Too bad it didn't 'urt the beggar
much.  And brace up, lad!  I know 'ow ye feel.  I know 'ow 'tis between
you and the lass--I've seen the eyes ye give each other.  She'll be
safe, Martin.  Strike me, God will never let them 'arm 'er, swiggle me
stiff if 'E will!"

There was a wealth of simple faith in the giant's voice, and some of it
found lodgment in Martin's troubled breast.  He composed himself, held
himself in sure check, and upon the boatswain's repeated request, told
what had happened to him from the moment the old sailmaker had awakened
him till he felt his senses leave him in the cabin.

When he finished, he discovered it was his turn to hearten.  The
boatswain was immersed in grief, and the hunchback was the cause.

"Ow, swiggle me!  I 'oped as 'ow Billy was safe somewhere--locked up
like us," he groaned.  "But 'e's gone.  Got 'im first, likely.  Must
'ave slipped up be'ind 'im, while 'e was fillin' his pipe there w'ere
ye found 'is baccy, and give 'im the knife.  They didn't 'ave
guns--used knives.  They got guns now, blast 'em.  An' Little Billy's
gone!  I--I loved the lad, Martin."  The man's voice choked.

"But he may not be dead, not even injured," urged Martin.  "I only
heard Sails cry out.  Perhaps Billy wasn't around when they slipped
aboard.  You know his failing, bosun, and you know how he has been the
last few days.  The reason I have the keys, you know, is because he
didn't want to be tempted by the medicine-chest.  Maybe he gave in, and
got some alcohol, forward, and got drunk and went to sleep."

The boatswain snorted indignantly.

"You don't know Billy like I do!" he cried.  "Drunk, no!  Billy 'ad 'is
failing, but 'e'd sooner 'a' died than give in at such a time.
No--'e's gone.  Ye say old Sails told ye Billy was feyed!  Ow, that
proves it.  That ---- burgoo-eater was always right in such things!
Billy, dear Billy--'e was a proper mate, Martin."

The boatswain's mood changed abruptly, and rage possessed him.  Martin
felt the man's great body tremble with the intensity of his passion.
He spoke through his clenched teeth, slowly and strangely, without
using his accustomed expletives.

"They killed 'im!  They'll pay.  We're goin' to get out o' 'ere,
Martin--I know 'ow, now.  We're going to try an' take the ship back.
Aye--maybe they'll get us, but I'll twist the necks o' some o' them
first.  And I'll get Carew, 'imself!"

He spoke the words with a cool positiveness that bred belief.  Martin,
in almost as vengeful a mood as the other, was grimly cheered by the
pictured prospect.

"I'll tell you what I know about it," went on the boatswain in a
somewhat lighter voice.  "They got me in my bunk.  'Ad the irons on me
before I was awake--ye know 'ow I sleep, like a ruddy corpse.  Ichi
steered 'em.  The blighter knows the ship, knew where the irons 'ung in
the cabin, knew 'ow the rooms are laid out.  When I woke up I was
'elpless, and 'alf dozen o' them picked me up and packed me into the
cabin and threw me down be'ind the table.  That's where I lay when you
busted in.  They 'ad gagged me with my own socks.

"They must 'ave been on board before Sails came aft, and as soon as the
two of ye went for'rd, they slipped into the alleyway be'ind ye.  I was
already dumped on the cabin floor when the rumpus broke out on deck--at
the same instant Carew appeared.  At the noise, the Old Man jumped out
of 'is room, gun in 'and, and 'e shot at Carew's voice.  Carew grabbed
the gun, and banged 'im over the eye with it, and the Old Man went down
across 'is doorway.  Then Ruth popped out o' 'er room, and Carew
grabbed 'er.  She fought like the devil.  Then you bust in with your

"After they 'ad choked you, an' after Carew 'ad got to 'is feet and
pulled the lass away from 'uggin' and kissin' you, Carew and Ichi began
to confab.  It was English, and I 'eard a bit.  Ichi went to the Old
Man, 'oo was breathin' heavy, and examined 'im like 'e was a sure
enough sawbones.  'E says the Old Man is just knocked out, and no
fracture.  'E takes the Old Man's keys.  Then Carew 'as a couple o'
'ands hoist the Old Man into 'is bunk, and 'e says to the lass as 'ow
she can 'tend to the skipper.  Ruth bounces into the room and slams an'
locks the door.  Carew laughs and turns to business.

"An' what do ye think 'is first order was?  To 'ave the cook aft.  In a
jiffy, they 'ad Charley Bo Yip afore 'im.  'E ordered grub--slathers o'
grub, immediate, for fifteen.  Yip took the order without turnin' a
'air--trust a Chink for that.  Then they give us attention, an' they
lift the trap an' dump us down 'ere.  They leave you where you fell,
but they boosted me along to this 'ere stanchion and, while Carew
tickled my shoulder-blades with a knife, Ichi, using the skipper's key,
trussed me up around the post.  Then they went aloft again, slippin'
the cuffs on you as they passed, I think, for they didn't do it in the

"Well, in fifteen minutes they were back--'alf dozen o' them, with Yip,
and plenty o' lanterns.  Breaking out stores for Yip.  Yip never looks
at me till he's ready to go aloft again.  Then, making sure I can see
'is mug, 'e tips me a big wink.  That means something, Martin.  They're
deep uns them Chinks.

"That's all.  I sat there, cuffed up proper, for hours, cussing, and
thinking, and calling to you.  Hours!  Swiggle me stiff, 'twas a bloody
lifetime, it seemed like.  About five or six hours though, I
think--must be about seven or eight o'clock now.

"That's all that 'appened.  But I'll tell you what I learned from
Carew's and Ichi's talk, and from lookin' at them.  They've been cast
away, lad!  That's why we didn't sight the schooner when we looked for
'er.  The _Dawn_ was wrecked, some time ago.  Carew ordered food for
fifteen--the _Dawn_ was fitted for seal 'unting, and carried a crew o'
nigh thirty.  That shows only 'alf were saved--a bad wreck.

"They ordered grub first thing--shows they didn't save stores, and 'ave
been starvin' ashore.  Must 'ave saved a boat though, or they couldn't
'ave boarded us.  Must 'ave seen us come in; spied us from one o' the
caves in the wolcano, an' we could not see them.  The blasted fog just
played into their 'ands.  'Av'ing been ashore, they must 'ave found the
ambergrease.  They needed a ship, and they took us.  And there ye are!
Sails dead, Little Billy dead, God knows 'ow many o' the crew gone, the
lass at the whim o' Wild Bob Carew.  Ow, what a bit o' blasted luck!
Swiggle me stiff!"

The boatswain growled desperate oaths to himself.  For a few moments he
gave himself up to lurid and audible thought.

Martin, in as black a mood himself, kept his peace, but he, too, spent
the time in thought, in gloomy surmising, in attempting to form some
plan of action.  "What to do--what to do!"  The refrain sang in his
troubled mind.  They must act, and act quickly.  Ruth's safety, and the
lives of their comrades, if any were alive, depended on the boatswain
and himself.  But--what to do?

Though they were free of their bonds, they were still boxed in this
storeroom like rats in a trap!  Obviously the first thing to do was to
get out of the lazaret.

Martin commenced to formulate a hazy plan of lurking beneath the
trap-door until opened from above, and then trying to burst into the
cabin, trusting to luck aiding them there.  A mad plan, fore-doomed to
failure, he conceded to himself, even as he thought of it.  But, what
else?  They must act!  Ruth ...

In the somber field of Martin's misery bloomed a tiny flower; and
whenever his mental eye rested upon this exotic, a sudden glow of
happiness pervaded his being.  This bright flower was a memory--the
thought of himself lying helpless on the cabin floor, while two soft
arms pressed his sore-addled head to a protecting bosom, and warm lips
caressed his face, and a dear voice entreated; the thought of the
boatswain's confirming words, "Carew pulled the lass away from 'uggin'
and kissin' you."

So, she loved him!  She returned his love!  The love he had seen
lighting her eyes, but which he could never force her to acknowledge by
words, she had unmistakably admitted by action.  In that black moment
in the cabin, she had bared her heart to him--bared it fearlessly
before all that hostile, leering company.  His love was returned.  Ruth
loved him!

Such was the origin of the exultant thrills that shot brightly through
Martin's despair.  But the triumphant thought was momentary.  Love
could not brighten their lot; nay, love but made more numerous the grim
host of cruel fears that pressed upon him.  Ruth--God!  What would
happen to Ruth, what had happened to her, what was happening to her
even now, while he sat mooning, cooped and helpless in this black hole?
It was unendurable!  He exploded a fierce oath.

"Bosun, we must do something--now--at once!" he cried.

The giant placed a restraining hand upon his shoulder.

"Easy lad!  Not so loud, or ye'll 'ave them coming down for a look-see.
We don't want that," he admonished.  "Steady!  I know 'ow you feel--but
raising a rumpus down 'ere won't 'elp us none.  We'll do something
right enough.  I got a plan, didn't I tell ye!  I was just thinking it
out--'ere, I'll tell you.  First, though, let's fix these bleedin'
irons, in case they pay us a visit."

He leaned over, searching about on the dark deck, and Martin heard the
clinking as he gathered up the cuffs.  He fiddled with them for a

"'Ere, Martin, stick out your 'ands!"

Martin complied, and felt the handcuffs close about his wrists.

"See if you can pull your 'ands out."

Martin found he could, easily.

"All right--just keep them 'anging from one wrist," said the boatswain.
"In case they come down on us, we don't want them to find us loose.
Just clap your 'ands be'ind you and slip your irons on.  I 'ave mine
fixed, too, and I'll be 'uggin' the post in the same old way.  They
won't think o' examinin' us."

"But we can't lounge here indefinitely," commenced Martin impatiently.

"We'll bide quiet for a bit," said the boatswain.  "I 'ave a 'unch
they'll be coming down soon to give us some scoffin's.  They wouldn't
'ave gone to the trouble o' chuck'in' us down 'ere if they was going to
kill us off'and.  And they won't starve us to death--they'll feed us
till they get ready to slit our throats an' dump us overside.  And if
ye strain your ears, lad, you'll 'ear the occasional rattle o' dishes
over'ead.  They are eatin' up there.  Now, what's the natural time to
send scoffin's below to the prisoners?  Why, thinks I, after they 'ave
their own bellies full, and Charley Bo Yip is clearin' away the
leavin's.  If they don't come in an 'alf-hour or so, I'll commence

Martin immediately proposed rushing the hatch as soon as it was opened.
The boatswain vetoed the proposal.

"They'd slaughter us, lad.  We'd never 'ave a chance.  No--'ere's my
scheme: We can get out o' this lazaret into the 'old.  Aye, that's
something ye didn't know, isn't it?  Nor does Ichi know, for all 'e was
cook aboard.  One time, some years ago, we was tradin' in the New
'Ebrides, and the Old Man stowed some o' 'is trade stuff in the
after'old.  'E 'ad a door cut in the for'rd bulk'ead, 'ere, so 'e could
get at the goods without opening the 'atch on deck.  Afterward, we
boarded it up--but the boards aren't nailed; just 'eld by cleats.
Right at the for'rd end o' this alley we're squattin in, be'ind the
beef casks.  We can get through into the 'old."

"What good will it do?" queried Martin.  "We would be just as much
prisoners in the hold as where we are.  The hatches are battened down."

"Don't ye see?  We can make our way for'rd, there being naught but a
bit o' ballast in the 'ooker.  And from the fore'old I think we can
reach deck by way o' the peak.  The two of us ought to be able to bust
our way into the peak.  And ye know where the forepeak 'atch is--in the
middle o' the fo'c's'le deck!  Well, I figure they 'ave what's left o'
our foremast crowd locked in the fo'c's'le.  Aye, I figure there is
some o' them left.  If Carew 'ad meant to make a clean sweep at once,
we'd not be down 'ere.  So--if we can get into the fo'c's'le and join
our lads, the odds won't be so great against us.  Be great enough,
though, even if most o' our 'ands are safe; swiggle me, fifteen o'
them, and the blighters 'ave the use o' our own guns, out of the cabin.

"But our lads are good boys.  They'll fight if we get to them to lead
them; every man Jack would go to ---- for the lass!  And if we can bust
out on deck, there's capstan bars and belaying-pins to fight with.
It's a long chance, Martin, but a better one than your plan would give
us, tryin' to break into the cabin from 'ere, just us two, and gettin'
knocked on the 'ead, or shot, soon as we started through the 'atch!"

Better than his plan!  Why, it was a definite campaign.  A flame of
hope kindled in Martin's breast.  He was for immediate action.

"Come on--let's start!" he exclaimed, and he started to scramble to his

"'Ere--'old on!" exclaimed the boatswain, pulling him back on his
haunches.  "Swiggle me, don't fly up like that, lad!  Keep your 'ead
cool.  We got to wait a bit.  We don't want them comin' down 'ere to
find we've did the wanishin' stunt.  We got to pull this off as a
surprise.  We ought to wait till night when 'alf o' them, at least,
would be asleep; but, blimme, I can't wait till then, nor can you.  But
we'll wait a little while an' see if they bring us grub; if they do, we
can be pretty sure they won't visit us again for several hours.
That'll give us time.  Hist, Marty, 'ere comes some one now!  Quick,
slip on your 'andcuff and play 'alf dead!"

Some thin points of light, suddenly shooting into their dark prison,
from around the edges of the trap-door over their heads, gave rise to
the boatswain's exclamations.  Martin, observing the light at the same
instant as the bosun, knew that the rug that covered the square in the
cabin floor had been drawn aside.  Some one was about to come down to

Martin bent his arms behind him and quickly slipped his free hand into
the handcuff.  Then he lay down on his side.

The boatswain encircled the stanchion with his arms and legs and
adjusted the loose manacles to his wrists and ankles.  Except to a
close examination, the pair appeared to be as tightly shackled as when
their captors introduced them into their present surroundings.  They
crouched tense and still, their eyes on the square door overhead,

The trap-door opened.  A flood of daylight rushed into the storeroom
and lighted a wide patch of boxes and kegs; not, however, reaching to
the spot where Martin and the boatswain lay.

"Fog gone," Martin heard his companion mutter.

A man stepped into the light, bearing a lighted lantern in his hand,
and started to descend the ladder.  But it was not Charley Bo Yip with
food, as the boatswain had expected.  It was the Japanese, Ichi.

Ichi stepped out of the square of daylight at the bottom of the ladder,
lifted his lantern, and sent its beam down the gloomy passage.  The two
observant prisoners were disclosed.

"Ah, Mr. Blake!  I perceive you have regained consciousness, and the
power of locomotion," came to Martin's ears in the softly modulated,
even voice he so well remembered as being part of the one-time visitor
to Josiah Smatt.  "May I inquire if you have also recovered speech?"
added Ichi.

"Answer 'im," whispered the boatswain, as Martin lay silent and

"Yes," said Martin.

"Ah, my dear boatswain, Henry, is a wise counselor," remarked Ichi,
proving the acuteness of his hearing.  "You are to be congratulated,
Mr. Blake.  One does not usually recover with such admirable quickness
from the effects of the cervical plexus hold my man, Moto, practised
upon you.  And you, my good boatswain--it is with great pleasure that I
perceive the workings of Fate have chastened the--er, boisterousness I
remember so well from the days of my servitude."

The words were mocking.  The Jap was clearly revealed where he stood,
with the patch of daylight behind him, and the outheld lantern before
him.  Martin could not read a thought in that bland, smiling face.  But
the words mocked.

"Ye monkey-faced, yellow toad!" burst forth the boatswain.  "If I 'ad
the use o' my 'ands, ye'd not stand there grinnin'!"

"Ah, it grieves to discover I am in error," was Ichi's smiling response
to the outburst.  "The lessons Fate teaches are learned slowly by
rebellious natures.  My good boatswain, I would recommend your heated
mind to solitude and meditation.  If you think with much hardness upon
the uncertainties of life, you may achieve that humility of spirit and
manner which is so blessed in the eyes of our ancestors."

Ichi stepped forward a pace and lifted higher his lantern, the better
to enjoy the effect of his words upon the shackled giant.

"My dear boatswain, do you recall the occasion when my honored self so
unfortunately spilled upon your decks of whiteness the grease from the
cooking; and how with great furiousness you applied to my respected
person the knotted end of a rope?  Ah, so then, it would perhaps add
interest to your meditation to ponder the possibleness of physical
persuasion to correct your faults--in the guise of the fingers of my
good Moto!  You have beheld the handling of the worthy Mr. Blake--yes?"

A vindictive note had crept into their visitor's soft, impersonal voice
as he gibed the boatswain.  Martin, staring upward at the
lantern-lighted face, half expected to see the smirk flee the lips that
threatened torture, and the hateful passions that inspired Ichi's
gloating to reveal themselves in his features.  But no hint of emotion
disturbed the surface of that bland, yellow mask the one-time sea cook
wore for a face; only the eyes were leagued with the sinister voice.
Martin fancied he saw a cruel and mirthful gleam in Ichi's beady eyes,
such a gleam as might creep into the eyes of a cat while playing with a
captured mouse.

But the boatswain seemed not a whit appalled by Ichi's words.  His
response was prompt, and liberally tinged with sulfur and brimstone.

"Aye, I remember rope's-ending you, ye rat-eyed son o' a Hakodate
gutter-snipe!  If I 'ad my 'ands free now, I'd do worse--I'd pull your
rotten 'ead from your shoulders!  Aye, swiggle me, 'tis like your breed
to mock a man what's tied, ye blasted coolie!"

At the words, expression suddenly enlivened the Jap's face and to
Martin's astonishment it was not an expression of hate but of wounded

"No, no, I am not a coolie!" he exclaimed vehemently.  "I am not of
common blood--I am a gentleman, a Japanese gentleman!"

The boatswain snorted contemptuously, and Ichi turned to Martin.  "You
are with knowledge of my gentlemanness, my dear Mr. Blake!  You have
seen me with proper attire, having conference with the honorable Smatt.
I am a Japanese gentleman, sir.  I have from my revered ancestors the
blood of a Shogun.  I am graduated from the University of Tokyo.  I
have a degree from your own most honorable institution of Columbia."

"Ow ---- your ruddy eddication!" broke in the boatswain.  "Ye bloody
murderer!  Ye'll 'ang if you've gone to a dozen colleges!  Wait till
they 'ear about this business at 'ome, or in any port ye call at!
They'll know the brig--and ye'll 'ang, every last scut o' ye!"

The Japanese gentleman recovered his composure as suddenly as he had
lost it, as the boatswain swore.  He was again his suave self.  Martin
cast a quick glance toward the boatswain, and a certain sly expression
that flitted across the giant's fierce features enlightened him.  He
glimpsed the method in the boatswain's madness.

"Ah, my boatswain, you have a defect in your reflectiveness," Ichi
purred smoothly, in response to the boatswain's prophecy.  "We do not
fear hanging; rather will events shape thusly: If the authorities of
your America learn by some unlikely favor of Fate of our barratry, they
will say, 'The brigantine _Cohasset_, commanded by the notorious
filibuster, Captain Dabney, which slipped out of San Francisco without
clearance--yes, we know that, my worthy friend--is again in trouble.
The trouble has happened in Russian waters--let the Russians attend to
it.  We are satisfied if the respected Dabney never again is able to
arouse our worriness.'  Is it not so the American officials would
speak, Mr. Henry?"

The boatswain swore luridly.

"And the Russians, if the affair came to their attention, would move
not at all against us," went on Ichi, smug pleasure in his voice.
"Indeed, the chartered company might even reward us for removing one of
such dangerousness as Captain Dabney from their trade reserves.  And if
you suppose my Government would act, I fear you underestimate with
greatness the powerfulness of my connections in my country.  No, my
dear boatswain, it is most unlikely this incident will ever reach
unfriendly ears, or ever cross the Pacific.  You might meditate upon
your chance to carry the tale."

"Ye may silt all our throats," said the boatswain, "but as long as the
old brig's above water, there's the evidence that'll 'ang ye."

"Ah--not so," answered Ichi.  "There are many closed harbors in my
native Yezzo, and the honorable Captain Carew assures me that rigs may
be altered.  The honorable captain will have a new schooner, to replace
the _Dawn_, for next year's season--and at slight expense to my
company.  A skilful man in his profession--the honorable Carew!"

"Skilful----!" taunted the boatswain.  "'E wasn't skilful enough to
save 'is ship!"

"Fate.  A night of darkness, and much wind," said Ichi.  "Yet Fate
relented--for, after a week of starving in the holes on the quaking
Island, Fate sends you to our rescue.  Fate smiles upon our side, my
boatswain--brings us to the Fire Mountain, plays you into the trap,
gives to the honorable Carew his wish, and now, only----"

A heavy voice boomed down through the open hatch and interrupted Ichi's
smirking revelations.  Martin directed his gaze beyond the Jap.  A man
was leaning over the opening, peering into the aret.  The heavy voice
belonged to Carew, Martin knew.

"I say--what is keeping you down there, Ichi?" called Carew.  "Do you
need help?"

"All right, captain, directly we come!" answered Ichi.

"Can't you get the young blighter to his feet?" went on Carew.  "I will
send a couple of hands down, to heave him out."

"I am of the opinion he can walk," replied Ichi.  He turned to Martin.
"My dear Mr. Blake, we muchly desire your presence in the cabin.  Can
you travel there without assistance?"

Martin received a sharp, meaning glance from the boatswain.

"Yes--I can make it," he told Ichi.

He promptly scrambled to his feet and stumbled toward the ladder.

The boatswain wailed behind him.

"Ow--swiggle me stiff!  'Ere now, Ichi, you ain't goin' to leave me
down 'ere alone, all ironed up, and with these bleedin' rats runnin'
about!"  There was positive fear in the cry.

Ichi chuckled.

"Yes, Mr. Henry, I am convinced that solitude will benefit your
manners.  Ah--I had not thought of the rats.  But surely the great bull
boatswain of the _Cohasset_ can not fear the little rats!  Ah, I am
glad you mentioned them; yes, they shall be companions of your

The boatswain, in a forcible sentence, disclosed his opinion of the
Japanese gentleman's ancestral line.  Then, abruptly, his tone became

"Ow--but say!  Ye'll send me some grub?  Swiggle me, ye ain't going to
bloody well starve me, are ye?"

Ichi, retreating to the ladder before Martin's advance, delivered his
parting shot at the boatswain.

"Fasting, my dear friend, is an ancient companion of meditation.
Tomorrow, perhaps, when thought has chastened your mood, there is a
possibleness you may receive food."

Martin mounted the ladder with mingled feelings; with dismay at leaving
the boatswain, with a wild hope of encountering Ruth above, with
exhilaration at the success of the boatswain's strategy.

For Martin had fathomed the boatswain's reason for baiting the
Japanese.  The boatswain had known of the alloy of vanity in Ichi's
composition, and he had seized upon it to extract needful information.
He had succeeded; Ichi's conceit and vindictiveness had overcome his
native caution.

The boatswain knew now something of the enemy's plans.  More important,
he knew that he was to be left alone, without disturbance, in the
lazaret for a whole day.  Ichi had already stepped into the cabin with
his lantern.  Martin called into the gloom behind him:

"Good-by, bos!  Good luck!"

He could not see his friend, but he shrewdly suspected the boatswain
was already divesting himself of his bonds.  The big fellow's hoarse
growl reached him:

"Good-by, lad.  Good luck!"



Daylight, dazzling to Martin's gloom-accustomed eyes, filled the
_Cohasset's_ cabin.  Martin's upward ranging gaze, as he clambered out
of the lazaret, saw, through the open cabin skylights, the blue sky and
the sunshine sparkling upon brass fixtures.  So he knew the fog had
lifted and the day was clear.

He took a step aside from the lazaret hatch, and then sent his eager
gaze about the cabin.  But Ruth was not present.  He was intensely

He stared hard at the closed door to Captain Dabney's room, as if the
very intensity of his troubled gaze might penetrate those blank oak
panels.  The boatswain had said Ruth was nursing the captain in that
room.  But was the boatswain's opinion correct?  Hours had passed.  Was
she still safe in the captain's room?

The slamming shut of the trap-door over the black hole by his side
abruptly brought his thoughts back to himself, and his eyes to his
surroundings.  A man was leaning over, spreading out the rug that
ordinarily covered the lazaret opening.  Martin recognized the fellow
as the same wooden-faced Jap who had choked him unconscious a few hours
before.  Ichi, he discovered standing by his side, regarding him with
an ingratiating smile.  But it was neither the ju-jitsu man nor Ichi
who fastened Martin's attention.

A large man sprawled in Captain Dabney's easy chair at the farther end
of the cabin table.  The table was littered with the debris of a meal,
which Charley Bo Yip was phlegmatically and deftly clearing away, and
Martin stared across the board's disarray at Wild Bob Carew's
disdainful face.  The erstwhile commander of the schooner _Dawn_, his
comrades' unscrupulous enemy, his own rival, was the same aloof,
superior rogue he remembered from the night in Spulvedo's dive.

As Martin looked, Carew engaged himself with filling and lighting his
pipe, and seemed to be totally unconscious of the disheveled young man
standing before him, with wrists manacled behind his back.

Martin was again surprised, as he had been that night in San Francisco,
with the incongruity of Wild Bob's appearance contrasted with his
activities.  Was this splendid figure of a man the vicious outlaw of
wide and evil repute?  The renegade thief?  The persecutor of women?
The pitiless butcher of defenseless men?  Were those fine, clean-cut
features but a mask that covered an abyss of black evil?  Did that
broad forehead actually conceal the crafty, degenerate brain that
planned and executed the bloody and treacherous piracy upon their ship?

The haggardness of recent hardship was upon Carew's features, and a
week's, or more, stubble of yellow beard covered his cheeks, yet the
growth in nowise brutalized the handsome face.  There was a long scar
on Carew's forehead, which glowed a vivid red as he sucked upon his
pipe; there was also a wide cross of court-plaster on a clipped spot on
top of the head.  Martin suddenly realized that both disfigurements
were his handiwork; one was a memento of the fight on the Frisco
waterfront, the other the result of his blow the night before.

Carew suddenly lifted his eyes and met Martin's stare, and a cold
thrill tingled along Martin's spine.  For there was a hot ferocity
lighting the man's eyes; there was a hot, yet calculated, hatred in the
level look.

Ichi's suave voice broke the uneasy silence.

"Mr. Blake, we have brought you up here for a little chat," said Ichi.
"And before we commence, I beg please to inform you I am your very dear
friend, and I think of you no ill.  So--will you not be seated?"

Martin seated himself gingerly upon the edge of a chair.  It was an
uncomfortable position, and his arms ached keenly from being
constrained in the unnatural position the handcuffs demanded, but he
dare not slip out a hand and relieve himself.

"Ah, let us trust none of the violence of epithet which marked my
discourse with the worthy boatswain Henry will mar our conversation,
Mr. Blake," went on Ichi.  Martin perceived his conceit still smarted
under the boatswain's curses.  "You are an American gentleman, the
honorable Carew is an English gentleman, I am a Japanese gentleman.
So, our discussion need not be intruded upon by those exclamations of
great explosiveness with which your wonderful English language is so
enriched.  We gentlemen have civility."

"Never mind talking manners, doctor!" broke in Carew impatiently.  "It
would please me if you would permit me to forget your gentility for an
hour.  Come to the point!  State our proposition to this fellow, and
let him make his choice."

"The point.  Ah, yes," said Ichi.  "You know, my captain, you people of
the West are brutal with your directness.  But I shall to the point.
Ah, Mr. Blake, I am not mistaken in assuming you would with relishness
accept refreshment?  You would talk with more easiness?"

"Water--coffee," said Martin briefly.

He was agreeably surprised by the question.  He was again very, very
dry, and his sore throat pained him and made speaking difficult.  He
was hungry, too, his supper the night before having been his last meal.
He had been looking longingly at the food and drink the Chinaman was
rapidly and silently removing from the table, which perhaps inspired
Ichi's question.

"I will offer you drink," said Ichi.

Carew snorted disgustedly but did not offer an objection.

"You will pardon us for not offering food," went on Ichi, "but you
would be unable to eat in your present condition of bondagement, and we
regret muchly our disinclination to free your hands at this juncture.
With arms free, you have impressed us most unfortunately."

He glanced toward Carew's plastered head.  Carew disclosed some white,
even teeth, with a half snarl, and Martin saw beneath the concealing
mustache, as he had seen that night in San Francisco, the cruel mouth
that gave the lie to Wild Bob's face.

"But your national beverage of coffee contains much food value," added
the Japanese, and he barked an order to the Chinaman.

Yip seized a large cup, filled it with black coffee from the big
percolator standing in the center of the table, and carried it to
Martin.  He held it to Martin's lips.

Martin drank eagerly, tilting back his head and staring upward into
Yip's face.  He half expected to see some sign of friendship there, a
fleeting smile, or the flutter of an eyelid.  He recalled that Yip had
winked at the boatswain, down in the lazaret, and the boatswain had
attached importance to the action.  But he was disappointed.  There was
not the hint of an emotion in Charley Bo Yip's moon-like face; not the
ghost of an encouraging recognition.  Not even Ichi's passionless
countenance could match Yip's serene, blank face for lack of
expression.  The Chinaman might have been pouring the coffee down a
hopper, rather than down a man's throat, from his impersonal demeanor.

But if Yip disappointed, the coffee did not.  The strong, hot stuff
flooded strength through Martin's veins, eased his smarting throat,
lubricated his parched tongue.  When Yip turned away with the empty
cup, Martin heaved a satisfied sigh.

"That is better," he said to Ichi.  "Fire away.  I can talk now."

Ichi started off on a rambling and flowery appreciation of Martin's
implied thanks.  Martin gave attention with his ears, but his eyes
roved.  He had been puzzled since his entry into the room by a certain
oddity, familiar oddity, about the other men's appearance.

Carew was wearing a guernsey much too large for him, and Carew was a
very big man.  Martin suddenly recognized the guernsey as the property
of the boatswain.  Ichi was clad in shirt and trousers belonging to
Little Billy--not a bad fit.  The ju-jitsu man sported a complete
outfit of his, Martin's.  Obviously, the belongings of the _Cohasset's_
crew had been looted to cover the scarecrow nakedness of the captors.

Something else Martin noticed, while Dr. Ichi talked on with Oriental
indirectness.  There was a large cupboard affixed to the cabin's
forward bulkhead.  It stood open and empty.  Martin knew what its
contents had been.  It had been the ship's armory; it had contained
four high-powered rifles, two shotguns, and four heavy navy revolvers,
with a plentiful supply of ammunition for all arms.  They were gone.
He reflected they must be in the hands of Carew's men.  Not a pleasant
reflection in view of the boatswain's scheme.

Carew, breaking roughly into Ichi's speech, commanded his attention.

"Never mind all that, Ichi!  By Jove!  We can not afford to waste time
listening to pretty courtesies!"  He swung upon Martin with menacing
eye and voice.  "Here you!  No ---- hedging now!  What has become of
the code writing that directed to the ambergris hidden ashore?
Come--spit it out.  Where is it?"

Martin blinked with surprise at the sudden attack, and at the question
itself.  He and the boatswain had taken it for granted that Carew,
having been ashore on Fire Mountain, had obtained possession of the
treasure.  The question implied that Carew and his followers had failed
to locate the cache; that he had been hauled out of the lazaret for the
purpose of giving them information.

"Come--speak up!" commanded Carew, again.

Martin attempted to dissemble.

"I don't know anything about it," he lied.  "I have been a common
sailor on the ship, and have not been in the confidence----"

"Enough!  Spin that yarn to the marines.  I want the truth!" cried
Carew.  "Common sailor--not in their confidence--hey?  And since when
has Old Man Dabney permitted his foremast hands to live aft?  How long
since Ruth Le Moyne takes a heart interest in common sailors?  Hey?"

He leaned forward in his chair, and shot the questions at Martin.  His
face was suddenly debased with evil passion, and bitter hatred was
clearly revealed in his blazing eyes.

"Listen to me, my fine fellow!" he went on.  "You fooled me once and
spoiled my plans with your double dealing.  But this time you'll throw
no dust in my eyes!  You'll not get by with any cock-and-bull yarn this
time.  I know just how warmly you feathered your nest--humoring that
old blind fool and making love to his granddaughter.  A pretty reward
opened to you by your treachery that night in Frisco--a fortune and a
sweetheart to boot!  Hey, my winsome fancy man!  A fine chance you've
had for your billing and cooing; but now by Heaven, you'll pay the

Martin gasped before the wordy onslaught.  But Carew's hot words, and
his appearance, conveyed to Martin's alert mind a startling truth--it
was not lust for treasure that inspired Wild Bob's verbal flogging, or
venomous glances; it was jealousy, a wild, hate-filled jealousy of him,
Martin Blake.  Ruth was the core of Carew's rage.

"Come--where is that code?" went on Carew.  "Speak up lively, now!  By
Heaven, if you sulk, I'll jolly well draw the truth out of you!  Here,
Ichi, call up that finger devil of yours and we'll see if a little
gullet-twisting will loosen this cub's tongue!  Here--Moto!"

The wooden-faced ju-jitsu man, who had been seated on the divan, got on
his feet and moved toward Martin's chair.  His face was absolutely
expressionless, his attitude impersonal, but he was rubbing his hands
together and stroking his fingers as if to make them supple for the
work that lay before them.

Martin observed the maneuver with a suddenly contracted heart.  He had
a vivid recollection of the terrific pain that accompanied the former
application of those writhing fingers to his person.  He cautiously
worked the handcuffs down upon his hands so that a quick movement would
fling them off.

If he was to be put to torture, he would first fight!  He eye-marked a
carving-knife lying on the table within leaping reach.

But Ichi intervened and relieved the tension of the moment.  He halted
the businesslike bravo with a word.

"Let us not use Moto just yet," he said to Carew.  "Our dear Mr. Blake
does not understand, perhaps.  We will explain the matter.  I am sure
he will not then be of stubbornness.  You know what we decided upon,
captain?  We do not want to use Moto just yet."

"One would think you were advocate for the fellow," sneered Wild Bob.
"Oh, all right--have your way.  We'll save Moto till we call in the

Moto resumed his seat at a nod from Ichi.  Martin breathed heavily with
relief and relaxed, readjusting his bonds.  Ichi turned to him.

"My dear Mr. Blake," commenced the Jap, "let me repeat that I am your
very good friend.  It makes me very, very sorrowful to view you in your
present condition of uncomfortableness, and I trust you will reflect
that resentment of Fate is idle.  We understand Fate, we gentlemen, and
accept what the gods decree.

"So, I will be of complete frankness in explaining our need, Mr. Blake.
We thought it was ill fate when, seven days ago, our schooner was
wrecked upon the rocks that guard this mountain.  Even though we had
searched with diligence for this very spot, we regarded it as fortune
of much badness to be compelled to land on the Fire Mountain from an
open boat, with but half our company, and without provisions.  During
days of hunger we cursed Fate.  And all the while Fate was preparing
our succor.  So--if we are wise we accept Fate, Mr. Blake.

"Yet Fate has not been of too great kindness to us, for we could not
uncover the so precious lodestone which drew us all to this desolate
corner of the world.  Fate intended we should wait until the honorable
_Cohasset_ should arrive.

"You see, the translation of the scarlet writing which the eminent and
worthy Smatt furnished us, after the occasion of your unfortunate
defection, was lost in the wreck.  We had, we thought, a memory of
truthfulness of the paper, for we had read it muchly.  We were
mistaken.  We have not discovered the ambergris, though we have
searched with industriousness.

"We have also searched the ship for the original writing.  We have not
as yet obtained it.  The young woman has informed us with much
readiness of a place where the paper is.  But there are certain
reasons--" Ichi glanced at Carew--"why we may not test the truth of
Miss Le Moyne's statement.

"So, we look to you, my dear Mr. Blake, to enlighten us, to dispute to
verify the young woman's words.  We ask you, where is the whaling man's
writing?  And before you give answer, I would with much earnestness beg
of you to reflect that Fate is undoubtedly with us, that you and yours
have not favor with the gods.  It is wisdom to accept Fate!  And
reflect also, please, that the young woman's immunity from--let us
say--physical persuasion to speak, does not extend to your respected
self.  And bear in mind, please, that the throat-hold you have already
experienced is by no means the hold of most painfulness, out of the
several score my Moto is of expertness in applying.  So--where is the

"Come, spit it out!" growled Carew.

Martin reflected, though not upon Fate, as the Japanese advised.  He
knew he must speak.  Moto was quietly massaging his deadly fingers, and
Martin did not relish the torture he knew those digits could inflict.
But should he speak truth?

He wondered if Ruth had really answered their question, and if she had
told them truly where the writing was.  One thing vastly cheered
him--he gathered from Ichi's words that Ruth was safe from molestation
so far.  He decided he had best tell them the truth.  It would not help
them, and it could not harm Little Billy, for poor Billy was gone.

"Billy Corcoran has the code," he said.  "I saw him place it in his
pocket last night."

"Ah--so!" exclaimed Ichi.  He exchanged a significant glance with
Carew.  "What unfortunateness!  Just as the young woman said!"

"Little Billy, eh!" said Wild Bob.  "Well, young fellow, can you tell
us what became of that blasted hunchback?"

Martin almost leaped from his chair.  What!  Had Little Billy escaped?
Did they know what had become of Little Billy?  Martin had accepted
without question the fact that Little Billy was dead.  The
probabilities, and the boatswain's conviction, had convinced him.  But

"I don't know what has become of him," he told Carew.  "You ought to
know.  He had the watch on deck when you came out of the fog, last

"---- queer!" muttered Carew.  Then to Ichi: "I tell you, doctor, he
must have been settled and dumped overside with the rest.  We fixed
every one who was awake, except this fellow, Blake.  The hunchback must
have been knifed and thrown over without being recognized."

"No, there were only three, and the cripple was not of them," returned

Not of them!  Martin's heart was pounding joyfully.  Then Little Billy
was alive.

"Well, he isn't on the ship," asserted Carew.  "He isn't in the hold
with that fo'c's'le crowd, nor aft, here, nor hidden anywhere about the
vessel.  We know that.  Let us not waste any more time--we'll get the
information the other way.  Call in the minx.  Perhaps it will tame
some of that cursed spirit of hers to witness her pretty darling, here,
being made uncomfortable!"

He accompanied his remark with a hateful glance toward Martin, a glance
that was filled with cruel anticipation.  But neither look nor words
much disquieted Martin's mounting spirits.  "In the hold with the
fo'c's'le crowd!" Carew had said.  Then the boatswain would not have to
chance breaking into the forepeak.  He need only get into the hold to
join the remnant of the crew, and it was a stout remnant if only three
had been slaughtered.  Why, the boatswain must already have joined
them; be leading them now in an attempt to break out of the hold.  And
Little Billy was alive, and at large!

Martin wriggled his wrists in the handcuffs and stiffened tensely in
his seat.  Almost, he expected to hear that instant the commotions of
battle from the deck, and to see his friends burst into the cabin.  He
eyed wistfully the carving-knife on the table and marked it for his
weapon.  No, he could contemplate these thugs about him now without
that hopeless sinking of the heart; he could even withstand torture
with fortitude born of hope.  For there was a fighting chance.

"Go knock on the door and fetch her out," said Carew to Ichi.  To the
silent Moto he added: "All right, Moto, we are ready for you.  Stand



Ichi rapped softly on the door of Captain Dabney's room.  The door
opened a space, and a clear, fearless voice demanded--

"Well, what do you wish?"

The happy thrill Martin felt at the sound of that undaunted voice was
nowise dampened by the knowledge that Moto, the torturer, stood behind
his chair, with fingers ready to Carew's bidding.  Martin, for the
instant, had but eyes and ears of love.

"My dear miss, we would consider it a favor of much greatness if you
would but spare us a few moments of your honored time," said Ichi,
bowing profoundly to the crack in the door.  "If you will but grant us
the delightfulness of your presence for a very short time--then you may
return to carefulness of the honorable Dabney."

Ruth stepped out of the berth and softly closed the door behind her.
Then she faced about and saw Martin sitting stiffly on the edge of his
chair, with his arms behind his back.

"Oh, Martin!" she cried.

Martin caught his breath as he returned her look, while a sudden surge
of feeling clogged his throat and stabbed his heart with a thrust half
pain, half pleasure.  She was beautiful! She was glorious!

She stood there, swaying easily to the gentle motion of the riding
ship, her wide-open eyes full upon his with a look that held a world of
anxious love.  Her face appeared like a bright, rare flower, in
contrast with her blue blouse and skirt, and the dark wood-paneling
behind her.  The night had placed its mark upon her features--there
were dark circles beneath her eyes, and a droop at the corners of the
sweet mouth.  But courageous self-reliance was still her bearing; and
the haggard hints of suffering on her face but enhanced its loveliness.

She was glorious, superb!  Martin, his own love in his kindling gaze,
recalled of a sudden how she had looked that night when he had stolen
the kiss.  A glancing moonbeam had that time lighted her beauty.  So,
too, this time a light ray brightened her--a sunbeam darting through
the open skylight set her in a golden frame.

A sharp, sobbing intake of breath came from the head of the table where
Carew sat.  Ruth directed her gaze from Martin to the outlaw, and her
mouth became grim, and her eyes, but now so soft with love, became hard
and alert.

Martin, too, looked at Wild Bob.  And the sight of the man's face
brewed wild rage in Martin's soul, stirred the elemental instinct that
makes the male fight to keep his mate.  For Carew was also staring at
Ruth, much the same as Martin had been staring.  His face was hungry,
avid, with desire--desire for the wonderful woman before him.  His very
soul was in his burning gaze, and it was an ugly, bestial soul.

The man was mad--mad with love, insane with a heedless, reckless
passion for the girl.  Martin could well understand now Wild Bob
Carew's turbulent and persistent wooing of Ruth.  His whole ruthless,
lawless nature was dominated by his evil passion; for so long balked,
his love had fed wildly upon itself till now it was his master.

Yet, in that brief, illuminating moment when Martin regarded the
other's passion-heated countenance, he beheld something that soothed
his rage, checked his panic, and made his heart suddenly swell with
pride and tenderness for his love.  For behind the lustful glistening
in Carew's eyes there lurked a shadow of fear.

Carew was afraid of the girl!  Martin, with the lover's insight,
discerned and interpreted that lurking shadow.  For Carew's fear was
bred of man's nature, and made strong by the intensity of his wild
emotion; the fear was a vicious nature shamed, an impure love abashed,
by the virgin goodness of the woman.

The fleeting glance Martin had of the conflict in Carew's mind conveyed
meaningful information to his own love-sharpened senses.  Carew was
baffled by the girl.

It was Ichi who interrupted the tense silence that followed Ruth's
entry.  He beckoned to Yip, and then bowed low before Ruth.

"But, miss, will you not be seated?" he said.

Charley Bo Yip left his work at the table and brought a chair, placing
it, at the Jap's direction, directly opposite Martin, but several feet

Ruth sat down, ignoring Ichi, but smiling an acknowledgment of the
service to the impassive Chinaman.  Her hand, Martin noticed, brushed
against Yip's hand as she took her seat.  Yip returned to his labors
and immediately left the cabin with a tray-load of dishes.

Martin's speech at last broke through the host of emotions and
impressions that had swarmed upon him during the past few moments.
Ruth's eyes were on him again.  For a moment there was a swift, though
broken, conversation.

"Oh, Ruth, how is it with you?  Have they----"

"Safe, Martin.  And you--oh, the beasts!  Your arms!"

"Nothing, dear.  Captain Dabney----"

"Alive--unconscious.  The bo's'n--Billy?  What----"

"Billy's alive, Ruth!  Free!  How----"

"Enough of that!" broke in Carew roughly.  "You two were not brought
together for conversation.  Any more of that chatter and I'll have Moto
place a finger on 'dear Martin's' windpipe!"

As if obeying an order already given, Moto became alive.  Martin had
for the time being forgotten the ju-jitsu man standing behind his
chair, but now Moto suddenly leaned forward and gently stroked his neck
with long and supple fingers.

Ruth's eyes widened at the action, and horror crept into them as she
looked past Martin and observed the cruel, impassive calm of Moto's
yellow face.  She turned to Carew.

"You beast!  Have you brought us together, then, to torture us?" she

Martin saw the red blood mantle the renegade's cheeks.  But Carew held
check on his tongue.  It was Ichi who answered the girl's scornful

"Torture?  Ah--no, no!  It is, ah, persuasion," said Ichi.  "But let us
trust, my dear miss, you will not compel us to persuade.  Believe me,
my honored captain and myself are your very fine friends; it would
muchly harrow our gentlemanness to order Moto to make painful the
person of esteemed Mr. Blake, and thus make disturbful your own
honorable mind.  We would not like to be hurtful to dear Mr. Blake--ah,

"You gloating, yellow cat!" was Ruth's response.  "Why, you are
torturing him now.  Look at his arms!"

"Well, well!  You seem to be greatly exercised over the comfort of your
pet!" broke out Carew angrily; his mouth was sneering; Martin saw the
devils of jealousy were prodding him.  "Well, milady, your fancy boy is
ironed up because we have learned from somewhat harsh experience that
he is rather impulsive in the use of his hands.  I do not care to have
him assault me and be compelled to kill him--at least, not yet.  His
arms will remain as they are.  And as to whether Moto will work upon
him, why, that depends upon you, my girl!"

Martin drew a breath of thankful relief.  He had tried to check Ruth's
outburst with a frown; he feared her words might cause them to unlock
the handcuffs.  Cruelly as his arms ached, he much preferred the pain
to having them discover the cuffs had been tampered with.  If his
bracelets were once closely examined, and they learned he could remove
them at will, he knew that a prompt investigation would forestall the

Carew's decision pleased him.  He knew there was no danger now of their
loosing his bonds--they were pleased to see him suffer; Carew, because
of jealousy, and Ichi, because of native cruelty.  He determined to
bear his lot with stoicism.  If they were about to command this yellow
fiend with the deadly fingers to torture him, why, he would stand it.
He would not give them the satisfaction, nor Ruth the pain, of hearing
him squeal.  He would keep his arms behind him and his mouth shut
though Moto did his worst.

"It depends upon me?  Why, what do you mean?" demanded Ruth, staring
from Carew to Ichi.

"Ah, yes, on you," purred Ichi.  "Just a morsel of information, you
could with such easiness give----"

"Tell them nothing!" burst out Martin.  "Don't mind me, dear.  They
can't hurt----"

The fingers suddenly pressed hard upon a spot on the back of Martin's
neck.  His speech was choked.  Sharp pain flooded his body.  Despite
himself, Martin squirmed.

"Oh, you fiends!  Stop!  Stop!" cried Ruth.

She sprang to her feet, with the evident intent of flinging herself
upon Moto.  Ichi grasped her two wrists.  She exclaimed with pain and
sank back into her seat.

"Here--stop that, Ichi!" roared Carew.  "None of your ---- tricks with
the girl!  Don't dare place a hand on her again!  Be still, Ruth!  Your
darling is not being murdered!  Ease up, Moto!  Next time wait for

The fingers lifted from Martin's neck.  The relief from the shooting
pain was instant, though his misused nerves continued to prick their

Ruth panted to master her emotion.  Then she flung hot words at Carew,
words colored with scorn and loathing.

"Oh, you unspeakable brute!" she cried.  "You coward!  It is like you
to find pleasure in inflicting pain upon a helpless man, and a
defenseless woman!  What is it you wish me to tell you?  Come, speak
up.  Don't sit cringing in that chair!"

"By Heaven, girl, you'll go too far!" commenced Carew.

"Ah--we wish to know such a little thing," interrupted Ichi, answering
Ruth's demand.  "We wish to know the directions that lead to the
ambergris hidden ashore, in the mountain.  Ah, yes, you recall you
boasted of your knowledge of the code directions, and dared us to
unlock your memory?  But now you will so nicely tell us--yes, please?"

"Yes, that is what we are after, Ruth," added Carew.  "And, by Jove,
you should be jolly well thanking me, instead of calling me names.  You
know well enough that but for me, Moto would be playing his fingers
upon your nerves, instead of Blake's."

"I see.  And in order to spare me, you are going to torture this bound
man in my presence, in order that his agony will make me speak!"
retorted Ruth.  "What a hypocritical beast you are, Captain Carew!  I
suppose that next you will apologize to Mr. Blake for the inconvenience
my stubbornness is causing him.  Of course, you are sorry for him!"

Carew swore at the girl's gibing.

"Sorry!" he exclaimed.  "By Heaven!  I'd like to twist the young
blighter's neck with my bare hands!  Don't go too far, milady, or it
will be the worse for this fine lover of yours!"

He suddenly left his chair, and strode to Martin's side.  He favored
Martin with an angry, jealous glare, and then turned tempestuously upon
the girl.

"Look at me, woman!" he cried.  "By ----!  Am I not a man?  Compare us,
girl!  Compare me with this half-baked cub you ogle so sweetly!  Am I
not the better man?  Why, I could break that booby in two!  Compare us,

He drew himself up with shoulders back and stood there, a splendid
figure of a man.  His face was flushed and working, showing plainly the
jealous passions and the intolerable longing for the girl's approval
which had whipped him into this melodramatic outburst.  Ruth faced him
with silent, contemptuous scorn.  Martin's gorge rose to fever pitch.
With difficulty he restrained himself from slipping the cuffs and
springing at the insolent egotist's throat.

"It is not ambergris I want!" went on Carew.  "It is you, Ruth.  I want
you of your own free will.  Look at me, Ruth!  Am I hideous, or a
weakling?  By Heaven!  Women in plenty have come to me ere now, and
without my pleading!  I am the mate for you.  This pup, this runaway
clerk, has no right to you.  I could kill him for his presumption!
Come to me.  Ruth, you shall be anything, everything, you wish!  I'll
make you a fine lady--a queen--I know islands----"

"An island where you will install me as queen of your harem, I
suppose," interrupted Ruth acidly.  "Have you informed the other ladies
you mentioned of your intentions?"

"You are the only one.  There will never be another, I swear to you!"
avowed Carew.  "Those other women--they did not matter.  But you--you
will be my wife!  A true marriage.  I can give you a great name, a
clean name, not the name of Carew."

"And I suppose we are to live up to your great name with the treasure I
am to deliver into your hands?" scoffed Ruth.

"No, no!  I do not want you for that!" asserted Carew.  "It is you, you
alone!  The ambergris goes to my employers, to Ichi, here, and his
partners.  I must get it for them.  It is the bargain I made.  My own
share will not be great, Ruth; I would gladly give a hundred times as
much for your favor.  But I am rich, girl.  I have plenty salted away.
I'll make my peace with my family, and we shall go home, to England.
You'll be my wife, my legal wife!"

"I would rather be dead than your wife!" declared Ruth with vehemence.
"I hate you!"

"And I say I will take you, hating me, rather than lose you!" returned
Carew.  His manner of impassioned pleading changed abruptly to
threatening.  "I'll beg no more of you, my haughty minx!  But I will
suggest that you reflect upon the reality of your condition.  In any
event, what will become of yourself?  Hey?  And what will become of
this darling crew of yours, we hold prisoners below?  And what will
become of this scrub, here in the chair--this apple of your eye?"

"By Jove!  You had better jolly well think about it!  Would you rather
have your grandfather, and the crew, and this lover of yours, set upon
some safe shore--or, have the other thing happen to them?  It rests
with you!"

Martin's rage mounted to boiling-point during Wild Bob's remarkable
wooing.  The man's raw insults made him furious; the stormy browbeating
of the woman he loved set him a-tingle with the strongest desire he had
ever known--a desire to fling himself upon this sneering wretch and
vindicate his manhood by battle.  His hands crawled in their restraint,
in their lust to batter upon that supercilious face.  But he dare not.
He knew that an outbreak on his part would mean the death of their
chance to regain the ship.

So he held himself in check, biting his lips over his enforced
impotence.  But Carew's final threat wrung speech from him, for he saw
speculation in Ruth's eyes, as she measured her tormentor.  The
dreadful thought occurred to Martin, "Ruth will barter herself to save
the rest of us!"

"No, no, Ruth!" he cried out.  "Pay no attention!"

"Shut up!" roared Carew, wheeling furiously upon him.  "If you speak
again, I'll have Moto put a clapper on your tongue!"  He turned to Ruth
again.  "And now, my girl, you will do the begging!  We'll listen to
you beg for this pretty boy!  Are you going to tell us how to reach the
ambergris or shall I order Moto to commence his work?"

"The information--ah, but I am certain the lady will tell us with much
gladness," spoke up Ichi.

He had been waiting patiently and impassively while Carew underwent his
travail of heart.  Now he was again his smirking, leering self.

"You know ju-jitsu," continued Carew.  "Moto is an expert--he will pick
your darling to pieces and make him a screaming lunatic, here, before
your eyes, unless you speak.  And if you speak, be sure and speak
truth; for Blake goes ashore with the gang, and God help him if you
direct us wrongly!  Now decide, please!"

Ruth looked at Martin soberly.  Martin smiled at her, but his mind was
busied with fresh information.  He was to go ashore with the gang!  So
Carew said.  Then this yellow band would be divided.  If he could hold
them ashore until the boatswain attempted his coup, the odds would not
be so great against the _Cohasset_ lads.  If he only knew how the
boatswain was progressing down below; whether he had gained to the
forecastle crowd!  Anyway, it was a chance to take.

"Martin, dear, I had better tell them," said Ruth.

"Yes, yes, tell them," urged Martin feverishly.  "Why--I know the code
myself, by heart.  I'll tell them."

"Ho, ho!  See how your brave knight stands the gaff!" guffawed Carew to

Ruth stared searchingly at Martin.  Martin writhed in spirit.  He
longed to shout to her that he was not craven, that it was policy
dictated his course.

But Ruth was evidently satisfied by what she saw in his face, for she
smiled brightly and said without any trace of disappointment:

"Of course, Martin.  It would be foolish to allow them to torture the
words out of either of us.  I shall speak."

"Ah--but just a moment!" exclaimed Ichi.

He drew a pencil and note-book from his pocket, and extended them to

"If the young lady will be of a kindness," he said, "she will perhaps
write the directions down on the paper.  Then we shall compare it with
dear Mr. Blake's directions.  Yes, please?"

Ruth took the proffered articles and, without hesitation, scribbled a
couple of lines.  Ichi recovered the book.

"Ah--so!" he exclaimed, after glancing at the writing.  "Now, Mr.
Blake, will you be of such a kindness?  I make the comparing.  Yes,

Martin spoke, also without hesitation.  His memory was exceptional, and
he had read often and attentively John Winters' code writing.

"South end beach--in elephant head--four starboard--windy cave--two
port--aloft--north corner dry cave," Martin rattled off.

"Ah!  So, it is of a correctness!" sang out Ichi with more feeling than
Martin had yet seen him exhibit.  He waved the book at Carew.  "They
speak the same.  And observe, captain, here is our error so great.  It
says 'aloft.'  We searched with much diligence all about, and beneath.
But we did not search overhead--so missed the cave of dryness.  But
now, ah!"

The little wretch almost danced for happiness.

Carew accepted the intelligence with calmness.  It was apparent to
Martin that Carew had spoken true words to Ruth--the man was more
interested in the girl than in the treasure.

"Well, you had better go ashore after the stuff," he said to Ichi.
"Take a full boat's crew, and Blake, here--yes, be sure and take Blake
with you.  I'll remain aboard--snatch forty winks, if I can, for I'll
get no rest tonight if we pull out of this hole.  You may return to
your grandfather, Ruth!"

Ruth stood up.  She half turned, as if to step for the door of Captain
Dabney's room, then, swift as a flash, she darted to Martin's side and
threw her arms about him.  Her cool cheek pressed against his for an
instant, and she breathed swift words in his ear.

"Courage, dear.  There is a plan----"

Carew, with a snarled oath, placed his hand upon her shoulder, and drew
her away with some violence, though he lifted his hand immediately.

"Nothing like that!" he admonished her.  "By Heaven!  I'll not stand by
and watch you cuddling that cub!  Get back to your room--go!"

Ruth threw a beaming, hope-filled glance to Martin.  Then Captain
Dabney's door closed behind her.



The Japanese gentleman might ramble at length in his speech, but he
proved himself to be direct and speedy enough in action.  Martin found
that Dr. Ichi was disposed to hurry.  No sooner had Ruth disappeared
within the captain's room than he commenced to act upon Carew's orders.

A volley of staccato Japanese relieved the grim Moto of his sinister
attendance upon Martin and sent him scurrying forward to the deck, to
Martin's vast satisfaction.

Next, he held a low-voiced consultation with Carew, who had stretched
himself out upon the divan at the after end of the room.  This talk was
inaudible to Martin, but at its conclusion Carew said:

"Very well.  If you find you need assistance, signal off and I'll send
another boat.  And if you are going to take Moto with you, have Asoki
send a hand aft to stand guard in the cabin while I sleep.  Best to
keep an eye on the girl."

Ichi turned to Martin.

"So we have made prepare," he stated.

He drew a revolver from his hip-pocket, examined it ostentatiously, and
placed it carefully in a side coat-pocket.  Martin, regarding the
weapon with covetous eyes, recognized it as one of the ship's arms.

"Now, my dear Mr. Blake, you will be of such kindness to go before me
to the deck?  Yes, please?"

Martin arose promptly and started for the alley-way leading to the main
deck.  In his mind mingled triumph and trepidation--triumph because he
knew that Ichi's expedition to the shore would lessen the number of the
crew holding the ship and thereby aid the boatswain's plan for delivery
which he was sure was maturing in the darkness of the hold; trepidation
because despite his resolution to fortitude he was more than a little
uneasy concerning his own future.  If he went ashore with Ichi, would
he live to return?  Had Carew given orders as to his disposition?  He
had intercepted glances filled with a smoldering hate, during that
whispered conversation a moment since.

Martin had a feeling that he was the object of that discussion, there
at the other end of the cabin.  Was Carew whispering murderous orders
into Ichi's ready ear?  The man was smarting under Ruth's scorn.  What
more natural to Carew's pitiless nature than to sop his mad jealousy
with his rival's death?

The Japanese gentleman, cruel and vindictive beneath his surface
suavity, would, Martin felt, be pleased to put a period to his
existence.  Was it merely to cow him that Ichi so carefully examined
his gun?  Or was it to have cruel sport with him, as Ichi had attempted
to have with the boatswain?

"Whatever way," ran Martin's thought, "my job is to get as many of
these yellow imps ashore as is possible, and hold them there as long as
I can, so that the bosun, leading his outbreak, will have a chance of
success.  What if Ichi does let daylight through me?  It is for Ruth!"

Closely followed by Ichi, Martin traversed the passage and stepped out
on deck, and found himself bathed with the sunlight of a bright, calm
morning.  At Ichi's word, he paused outside the door.

Ichi continued across the deck and spoke to a man who was shouting over
the rail to a boat crew overside.  Martin recognized the man; he was
the same bow-legged, muscular little Jap who had acted as his guide
that night in the Black Cruiser.  He wore an air of authority; Martin
concluded he was the mate of Carew's yellow following, perhaps the
fellow, Asoki, Wild Bob had mentioned.

The mate turned from Ichi and hallooed forward.  A man who was sitting
on the sunny deck, abaft the galley, arose and came aft in obedience to
the hail.  Martin saw the fellow carried one of the _Cohasset's_
rifles.  He paused while Ichi gave him some terse directions, then he
passed Martin and entered the cabin.  Ichi and Asoki then proceeded to
inspect the boat overside.

Martin's eager eyes ranged about the decks.  What he saw did not
encourage his hopes.  For just before him, on the main hatch, sat two
impassive yellow men, one with a rifle across his knees, the other
holding a shotgun.  Forward, the galley blocked his view of the
fore-hatch; but an armed man leaned against the rail at the break of
the forecastle.  So he knew that both hatches were well guarded from
the deck.

The two men on the main hatch were of alert and efficient appearance;
and Martin knew that Carew's men, being seal-hunters, must be
experienced and expert shots.  Martin regarded them gloomily.  What
chance for a successful rising in the face of these armed watch-dogs?
The lads would be slaughtered, even though their numbers were even.

The Japs before him were dressed in clothes he recognized as belonging
to his shipmates.  He concluded that the invaders were already
domiciled in the forecastle; probably a half of them were even then
occupying the imprisoned men's bunks.  Even so, the few armed men on
deck would be more than a match for the boatswain.

If he only knew what time the boatswain would make his attempt!  It was
ten in the morning now--he had noticed the cabin clock--and the
boatswain might wait till night, not knowing of the shore expedition.
How long could he manage to hold the party ashore?  If there only was
some other, safer plan!  Plan!  What was it Ruth tried to tell him?
Had she also a plan?

Such were Martin's troubled thoughts during the moment of his leisure.
They were black bodings, and they almost killed the cheerful spark that
had been born in his heart during the tilt of wits in the cabin.  The
menacing peace of the deck occupied all his mind.  He barely noticed
the mountain looming blackly beyond the ship's bows, and on either side.

Smoke was pouring out of the galley smoke-stack.  The rattle of pots
against iron came to his ears.  Yip was preparing another meal; the
Japs, Martin reflected, were not denying their stomachs.  Probably
making up for the enforced starvation they had lately suffered.

He wondered if the men imprisoned in the hold had been given food, or
whether they were being starved, like the boatswain, because of Dr.
Ichi's whim.  Beneath the Japanese gentleman's velvet exterior existed
a merciless humor.  He delighted in cruelty, and Martin sensed that,
for some reason, he bore a sly and implacable hatred toward the entire
company of the _Cohasset_.

Martin wondered just what position Ichi filled in Carew's following.
In the cabin, his manner toward Carew had been of a man toward an
equal, rather than a subordinate to a leader.  Martin wondered if the
yellow crew were at bottom Carew's men or Ichi's.  They jumped to
Ichi's orders; there, at the rail, Carew's mate was actually fawning
upon Ichi's words.  Ichi was plainly the owners' man.

Yip stuck his head out of the galley door, looked aft, and then
withdrew from sight.  Immediately after there issued from the galley
the shrill caterwauling of a Chinese song, and a renewed rattle of pots.

Martin listened resentfully.  Charley Bo Yip's cheerful acceptance of
change of masters angered him.  He had been quite friendly with Yip
during the passage, and he knew the Chinaman was a veteran of the
Chinese revolution and a professed enemy of all Japanese.  Yet here he
was working for these same Japanese, apparently content with events,
and serenely indifferent to the fate of his shipmates.  During the
scene in the cabin, Martin had divined from Ichi's bearing toward Yip
that the thugs from the _Dawn_ regarded the Chinaman--or rather,
disregarded him--contemptuously, as one of a despised and slavish race,
born to serve obediently and menially.  Which he was, thought Martin

During this short period of his musing, Martin's eyes were not idle.
He suddenly was aware of the cause for Ichi's delay.

From the recesses forward appeared Moto and another man, coming aft.
Moto carried a lantern in each hand, and the fellow who followed him
bore a watch-tackle on his shoulder.  As they passed the galley, Yip's
song ceased, and the Chinaman also stepped out on deck and ambled aft.

Martin wasted no glance on the cook.  He watched with interest the
Japs.  The burdens they bore were to aid in the exploration of the
caves, he knew.  At the sight of the lanterns, a dim plan for future
action germinated in his mind.

The two Japs reached the spot where Ichi and Asoki stood waiting.  They
handed their loads over the rail to the waiting hands below.  Then they
followed, by way of a Jacob's ladder.

Charley Bo Yip approached, bound for the cabin entrance.  He passed
close behind Martin, almost brushing against Martin's handcuffed hands.
He stepped on into the alleyway without slackening his stride, but
Martin marked the silent passage with a suddenly thumping heart--for
Yip had pressed a piece of paper into one of his manacled hands.  Ichi
turned to him and motioned--

"Come, we are of readiness, Mr. Blake!"

Martin twisted his hand around and thrust the paper into his hip
pocket.  Then he stepped forward to the rail.

A couple of moments later, Martin sat in the stern-sheets of a
whaleboat.  He was much shaken and somewhat bruised from his attempt to
negotiate a Jacob's ladder with his hands behind him, but his swift
descent had not dimmed his mind.  His first thought, even as he
clambered over the brig's rail, was to count the men in the shore
party.  His fall hardly interrupted him.

There were four men at the oars, he saw.  And beside him stood Moto,
manning the steering oar.  On the opposite gunwale perched Ichi.  Six
of them!

"That will leave nine of them aboard," ran Martin's mind.  "Ichi said
only three were killed last night.  They would be Rimoa and Oomak and
MacLean.  Then there are eight forecastle hands, and Chips, and the
bosun, down below.  Numbers are even, more than even!  But odds!  Oh,
if only a couple of those rifles were in the bosun's hands!  If only
Ichi would take them ashore!"

Martin searched the boat with his eyes, but no firearms were visible.
If the boatswain and the lads reached the deck, they would have those
armed watchers to reckon with.  Hopeless!

At a sharp order from the steersman, the four oarsmen gave way smartly,
and the boat left the ship's side, headed beachward.  It was not one of
the _Cohasset's_ boats, Martin noted.  The dingey, in which Little
Billy had sounded to anchorage yesterday, still rode to its painter
under the counter.  The rest of their own boats were still snug on the
skids.  The whale-boat was Carew's boat in which he had boarded them.

Little Billy!  The sight of the dingey brought the hunchback into
Martin's racing thoughts.  Where was Little Billy?  The paper Yip had
slipped him, fairly burned in his pocket.  But, of course, he dare not
attempt to read it here in the midst of his enemies.  For he had not
the slightest doubt the paper was a note written by Little Billy, and
conveyed by Yip's friendly hand.

Good old Yip!  Martin felt shame of his recent low estimate of the
Chinaman.  Yip was fooling the Japs--perhaps coached by the safely
hidden hunchback!

Martin's hopes leaped again.  Why, thought he, with Little Billy's
fertile mind on the job, and Yip free and friendly, their chance of
success in an outbreak was greatly increased.  Likely enough Little
Billy was in communication with the men in the hold.  A well-timed
surprise might overcome the terrible handicap of the guns.  If he only
knew what that paper in his pocket contained!  Well, perhaps he would
know soon, if things went right.

Ichi's right side was toward him.  Martin carefully noted the
revolver-butt peeping from the coat-pocket.  That revolver occupied an
important place in the plan that was forming in Martin's mind.  He
carefully scanned the other occupants of the boat.  So far as he could
see their only weapons were sheath-knives.

The tide was ebbing swiftly and the _Cohasset_ tugged at her cable, bow
on to the beach.  The breach between the ship and the whale-boat
widened; the panoramic view of the mountain and the little bay
interrupted Martin's thoughts.  He twisted about in his seat, and sent
his gaze about the cove in an encircling sweep, thus gaining his first
clear idea of the actual geography of the place.

Nature had formed the bay, he saw, by pinching a small chunk out of the
huge cone of the volcano.  The bay was a watery wedge cutting into the
mountain to a depth of about twelve hundred yards, a half-mile wide at
the entrance, and narrowing down to a bare half hundred yards of narrow
beach at the point of the wedge.

The _Cohasset_ was anchored about five hundred yards from the beach,
and at a like distance on either side of her the flanking cliffs rose
sheer from the water.  The waters of the bay were quiet, but, at the
mouth, Martin saw the seas beating fiercely upon the girdling reef,
smashing thunderously upon jutting, jagged rocks, and sending the white
spray cascading into the sunshine.  But he searched in vain for signs
of a wreck.  He interrupted Ichi's reverie with a question.

"Where did the _Dawn_ strike?"

To his surprise, the Japanese answered promptly.

"On the opposite side of the island--on the reef.  Ah, that was a
happening of much terribleness, Mr. Blake.  It was night and fog--the
same utterly darkness that was of such disaster to you honorable
gentlemen last night.  Honorable Carew did not suspect the nearness of
land.  The rock pierced our bottom and we sank with immediateness.
Ah--it was of much sadness!  We saved not food or clothes and but half
our number.  We rowed away.

"After while, there came to us a morning of much niceness, like the
present one, and we found that the schooner had been altogether taken,
as honorable Carew remarked by one god of the sea, named David Jones.
So we rowed around the volcano and came in this bay, and I knew the
place from the memory I had of hearing the reading, so long ago, in

"Ah, but the days we spent here before the worthy _Cohasset_ was
sighted were days of much badness!  We thought you had come and
departed, for we did not find the ambergris.  We thought we would all
have to go out from hunger and exposure.  We thought it would be of
much sadness to go out in this place of blackness; the spirits of our
honorable ancestors would regard us with much unkindness if we came
from this evil place."  The man suddenly leered upon Martin.  "How
would you like to go out in this place of bleakness?  Ah--what a

He turned and stared at the fantastic, brooding face of the rapidly
nearing rock.

"I will with frankness say I do not like this place," he concluded.  "I
shall be of gladness when I see the last of that smoke, up there, and
feel no more the shakes of awfulness."

They were within a few yards of the beach.  Martin stared upward.  The
mountain tapered steeply to the crater thousands of feet above him.
The yellow-brown smoke poured upward lazily, and he was sensible, as on
the day before, of an acrid, unpleasant taste in the air.  Also, as
when he had obtained his first fog-obscured view of the mountain from
the topgallantyard, he felt oppressed as he looked at that desolate
wilderness of crazily jumbled rock towering above him; the sunlight,
which sparkled upon the water, failed to brighten the mountain's somber
tone, and the nightmare architecture looming above him shivered him
with dread.

The openings of numberless caves gaped blackly, like blind eyes.  The
myriad-voiced screeching of the sea-birds added to the bleakness of the
aspect.  As Moto swept the boat through the gentle surf that laved the
little beach, the Fire Mountain was invested, in Martin's excited mind,
with personality, with a malignant, evil personality.

In truth, Martin looked upon himself as doomed.  "How would you like to
go out?" Ichi had queried; and his manner had made the question a
promise.  Well, he would try not to go out alone.  His work was cut out
for him, and it was desperate work.  There was slim chance, he knew, of
surviving the execution of his plan, but he contemplated his probable
death with the high courage of self-sacrifice.

His life, he felt, was a small price to pay for the recovery of the
ship and the freeing of his sweetheart.  For he was convinced that the
boatswain's success was dependent upon his keeping these six Japs on
shore.  He felt sure his comrades, warned by Yip and Little Billy,
would seize the opportunity presented by Carew's divided forces.  He
meant to fight to keep the Japs separated.

As the boat grounded, and he stood up to leap ashore, he wriggled his
wrists in the cuffs, making sure he could free himself with a jerk.  He
might die, but he vowed he would take some of these yellow devils with
him on his passage out.

Also, he reflected, it would make little difference to him, even if he
remained docile.  The issue would be the same.  He was certain Ichi
would murder him, so soon as the treasure was uncovered.  He was
certain Carew had commanded that very ending.

So, it was with a mind made up to grasp any desperate chance, with a
courage utterly reckless, that Martin disembarked on the volcanic sand
of Fire Mountain beach.

They had landed at one end of the beach.  The first object Martin's
curious eyes encountered was the "Elephant Head."  John Winters'
directions ran in his mind--"south end beach, in elephant head."  That
curiously fashioned jutting rock was the elephant head; cleanly
sculptured were the rounded head, slab ears, arched trunk, all
gigantic.  Beneath the rock-snout was a narrow slit about six feet high
by half as wide.  It was, Martin knew, the entrance the whaleman had
written of.

But Martin had little time to inspect the beach.  Ichi commanded
dispatch.  Martin noticed with surprise that as soon as Ichi touched
foot on the sand, his accustomed phlegm was replaced by visible

Ichi ordered, and the four sailors ran the boat up on the beach.  Then,
Moto leading the way, carrying the two lanterns, they all trooped
toward the cave entrance.

Martin used his eyes as he walked.  There were, he saw, many cave
openings on a level with the beach.  One in particular was a gaping
cavern.  Ichi, by his side, and talkative, indicated this place.

"Where we lived," he informed.  "Very nasty place--damp, and of
coldness.  But our torches were poor, and driftwood of much scarceness,
so we dare not investigate greatly the interior for better place.  Our
wood was all gone, and we feared muchly we must break up the boat, when
Fate with so great a kindness sent the honorable Dabney to rescue us."

"A queer rescue, you murderous little wretch!" thought Martin.  But
aloud, he said, "What did you live on?"

They had fallen behind the others.  Martin considered swiftly whether
or not to fall upon his companion now.  He was certain he could get the
gun, and commence shooting, before the others assailed him.  But he
decided promptly that it would not do.  They would witness the affair
from the ship.

"Oh--we eat the gulls," replied Ichi.  "And the shell-fish, and a seal
that was dead--ah, he was long dead and of great nastiness!  But mostly
it was the shell-fish.  See the many shells on the sand?"

Martin looked.  He gulped a swift, deep breath to keep from crying out,
and stopped dead in his tracks.  He stared into the yawning mouth of
the cave Ichi was speaking about, his heart thumping furiously.  Good
Heaven!  Had he seen a ghost?  Was it a crazy trick of his overwrought
mind?  Or had he actually beheld, for a fraction of a second, a white
face framed in the dense gloom of the cave's interior?  But that face!

"Ah--but do not pause, my dear Mr. Blake," said Ichi with a hint of
sarcasm.  "It is of great interest, I know, but the view that awaits
you as we seek the ambergris inside, is of much more interestness.
Come!  See, our dear Moto has the lanterns lighted!"

Martin with difficulty maintained a disinterested expression.  He
recovered his stride, and they joined the others beneath the
overhanging elephant rock.  Moto and Ichi held for a moment a
chattering interchange of their native speech.

Martin peered into this other opening, his agitated mind half-expecting
to see the startling vision again, flashing white in the interior
blackness.  But beyond a few feet of sand floor and black lava walls,
he saw nothing.  The opening in the elephant head led into a narrow
gallery, a hallway into the mountain.

A blast of hot, sulfur-tainted air swirled out of the opening.  It made
his eyes smart.  Coincidentally, his ears were assailed by strange
sound.  It came out of the black hole, and it was like the wailing of
souls in torment.  It was a dolorous whistling that increased to a
shrill screeching, then died away sobbingly.

Martin listened to that weird grief all a-prickle with shivery
sensations.  It was unnerving.

Nor were his companions indifferent to the sound.  The four sailors
huddled quickly together and gazed fearfully into the dark opening.

Moto chopped off short the word he was saying, and Martin saw his body
stiffen and his eyes dilate.  Even Ichi betrayed agitation, and Martin
saw a violent but quickly mastered emotion flit across his yellow

The eery wail died quite away, and Martin's scalp stopped crawling.
Ichi turned to him with a somewhat shaken smile; Martin saw that the
Japanese gentleman's nostrils were twitching nervously, and that his
voluble speech was really an effort to regain composure.

"Have no afraid.  The sound of much strangeness is from the cave of the
wind," said Ichi.  "It is from the deep place.  Now will come the
shake, perhaps."

The shake came on the tail of Ichi's words.  A heavy, ominous rumbling
came out of the black depths.  Martin recalled hearing the same sound
the day before, when he was on the topgallant-yard.  And suddenly the
hard, packed sand began to crawl beneath his feet, things swayed
dizzily before his eyes, and a sharp nausea attacked the pit of his

It was but a baby temblor, and it lasted but an instant.

Martin was not much disturbed--a lifetime in San Francisco had made
quakes a commonplace experience--but he had the sudden thought that
there were safer journeys in the world than the one he was about to
take into the heart of a half-extinct volcano.  Not that the probable
danger of the trip impressed him sharply--he was too much occupied with
his plight, and desperate plan--but it was evident the Japs did not
relish the undertaking.

The four sailors and Moto were plainly terrified, and, as the trembling
and rumbling ceased, they exclaimed with awe and fear.  Ichi held
himself in hand, but his mouth sagged.

"Always comes the strange noise, and then the shake," he said to
Martin.  There was the hint of a quiver in his voice.  "Out of the deep
place, they come--like the struggles of Evil Ones!"

He broke off to speak sharply to his men, bracing them with words.

"They are of much ignorance," he continued to Martin.  "They have much
fear.  They know a silly story their mothers have told them, about the
Evil Ones calling from the deep pit; it is a--what you say?--a folk
story of the Japanese.  These men are of ignorance.  But we gentlemen
know it is of absurdness, and most untrue.  It is a story of great

Ichi rolled the last word off his tongue with difficult triumph.
"Unscientificness," was evidently the club his Western education gave
him, with which to combat the inbred superstition of centuries.  But
Martin saw it was a straw club.

But if Ichi were frightened, he mastered his fear.

"It will, perhaps, be some time till the next shake," he told Martin.
"We must haste.  You shall follow me, please?  And recall, as we walk,
that Moto is but a pace behind you, and in fine readiness."

He chattered peremptory words to his followers.  One of the sailors
picked up a lantern, Moto stepped behind Martin, and Ichi lifted the
other lantern and stepped toward the cave mouth.

"You might look well at the sky, dear Mr. Blake," he leered over his
shoulder at Martin.  "Who may say when you will see it again?"

But Martin was in no mood to be frightened.  Indeed, if he had put his
hot thoughts into words, he would have replied to the sinister hint by
inviting Ichi to take _his_ last look at daylight.  He did look at the
sky, but it was for another purpose than bidding farewell to sunlight.
He brought his gaze down to the waters of the bay.

The _Cohasset_ was quiet, lying peacefully on the easy water.  Figures
on her deck were plainly visible.  Martin saw the bow-legged lieutenant
standing on the poop, staring at the group on the beach.  He saw more.

The tide had swung the vessel around during the past few moments.  She
now lay broadside on to the beach.  From a cabin port, he saw a bit of
fluttering white.  A lump rose in his throat.  It was Ruth, he knew,
waving him good-by.  Dear Ruth!  Yes, it was farewell!  Farewell to
life, perhaps, and to love, to this wonderful love that made him almost
happy in his misery.  The thought of his sweetheart cooped up in that
little room with the stricken blind man, with only her resourceful wit
and high courage to combat the leaguering terrors, steeled his resolve.
He would play his part, he vowed to himself, no matter what the price
he payed.  God grant that his shipmates be enabled to play their part!

"Ah--we wait, Mr. Blake!" came Ichi's voice, and he was suddenly
conscious that Moto's hand was pressing his shoulder.

Ichi was already inside, lantern held high.  As Martin stepped for the
opening, he cast a swift, sidelong glance down the beach, toward the
big-mouthed cave.  He saw nothing--which was what he expected.

"I must have been mistaken," he thought.  "It must have been a trick of

He brushed past the man who had the watch-tackle coiled over a
shoulder, and fell in behind Ichi.  The last sound he heard from the
outer world was the clear, vibrant sound of the ship's bell.  Five



During the voyage Martin had listened to many discussions between
Little Billy and Captain Dabney concerning the formation of Fire
Mountain, and their descriptions of the strange features of the island
had made him impatient to see with his own eyes the grotesque
sculptures, and with his own feet explore the mysterious caverns.

In some long past age, argued the captain, the volcano had erupted
during the Arctic winter, and the flowing lava had been quickly chilled
by the intense cold, and in the hardening formed the odd sculpting and
the numberless caves.  But, urged the captain, this lava cloak could
not be very thick, and while the caves existed from base to summit and
all the way around the mountain, it was unlikely that any of them
penetrated into the heart of the mountain.

Little Billy disagreed.  He cited John Winters's log in disproof; and
he and Martin made plans to thoroughly explore the Island.  The
prospect charmed Martin.  He felt he could hardly wait to reach Fire
Mountain beach, and enter the gloomy depths through the portal of the
Elephant Head on his errand of discovery.

And here at last he was on the very beach, stepping through the very
opening!  How different was reality from his bright dreams?  Instead of
friendly company, he was surrounded by alien, hostile figures; instead
of Ruth's little hand snuggling confidingly in his, his arms were bound
behind him; instead of inspecting his path with carefree, curious gaze,
he looked about him with eyes of desperation.

He had little interest in discovery as he stepped through the Elephant
Head.  The details of the physical appearance of the passageway were
sharply impressed upon his mind, but they were subconscious
impressions.  His active mind was at the moment wholly concerned with
his arms.  They ached cruelly.  Would they fail him?  When he jerked
them free, would he be able to use them?  Or would they drop numb and
useless by his sides?  No, he decided after cautious experiment, they
were not numbed.  He could wriggle his fingers easily.

Ichi walked first, then Martin, the grim Moto next, and the four
sailors trailed behind, the last man carrying the second lantern.  The
gallery they traversed was a deep fissure in the black rock, of uneven
height and width.  The walls narrowed until they could hardly squeeze
through, and then widened until the lanterns' rays failed to reveal
them; at times Martin had to bend his head to pass beneath the low
roof; again the roof was lost in the gloom.

After a few steps, the sand underfoot gave place abruptly to a floor of
hard, smooth lava rock.  The gallery twisted, and the thin shaft of
daylight from the entrance was lost.  The way sloped gently upward.
The lanterns waged but a feeble battle against the darkness; Martin
felt he was being crushed by that heavy, intense gloom.  Their steps
echoed upon the glasslike, slippery rock underfoot.

Soon Martin was sensible of a sharp rise in temperature.  There was a
strong draft in the passageway, and a hot, smelly air blew against his
face, and ruffled his hair.  And now he was also conscious of the low
moaning, a vast, spine-prickling moaning like the protest of a giant in
pain, that came out of the darkness ahead.

They wound this way and that.  Martin had lost count of the steps, but
he thought they must have gone sixty or seventy yards into the
mountain.  They passed an opening, but it was on the left hand.

The whaleman's directions were in Martin's mind: "4 starboard--windy
cave."  That must mean the fourth opening on the right hand.  The cave
of winds.  Ichi said that was where the "deep place" was located.  This
horrible moaning must come from there.  Ichi's "deep place" must be
Winters's "bottomless hole"; the weird moaning must be the "Voice" that
called the conscience-stricken Silva to his doom.

In quick succession they passed three openings on the right hand.  The
hot wind blew more strongly; it was a moisture-laden breeze and
Martin's clothes were damp.  Suddenly the passage angled obliquely.  A
few steps more and Ichi stopped.  Over his head Martin saw the yawning
mouth of the windy cave.

It was a large opening, and the agitated air rushed out through it as
though expelled by a giant fan.  The air smelled and tasted evilly of
gas and sulphur.  The moaning came with the air; it seemed to come from
below, from an immense distance.

The group clustered at the mouth of the cave, and the two lanterns,
held high, beat back the gloom for a few yards.  Ichi shouted orders to
his men, and his words were hardly audible above the deep, rhythmic
moan that rose steadily from somewhere beneath their feet.  Martin
peered into the cavern; it was huge, he knew, but he could not even
guess its dimensions.

But it was not the length or breadth of the windy cave that fastened
his regard.  It was the depth.  There, at his feet, plainly revealed by
the lanterns' light, was the "deep place," the "bottomless hole."  It
was a crack in the floor, its width and length lost in the gloom.  Its
near edge was but a couple of feet inside the cavern entrance.  It was
from this half revealed gaping slit that the wind came rushing; it was
from somewhere in that hole, down, down, an immeasurable distance, that
the eerie wailing came.

The lanterns revealed white vapors swirling upward out of the hole.
Everything was wet, water dripped from overhead, the black walls
glistened with moisture, underfoot was wet and slippery as a waxed
floor.  Martin's clothes were wet through.

The four sailors huddled fearfully together, peering into the chasm.
Ichi's orders finally aroused them to action.  The man with the tackle
slipped it from his shoulder, and, with the aid of another, overhauled
it.  Martin had supposed the tackle was to be used in recovering the
treasure, but now he saw it was intended for another purpose.  This was
not Ichi's first visit to the cave of winds, and he came prepared.

The opening in which they stood was near the left hand wall of the
windy cave.  A ledge, no more than six feet wide at the widest, ran
between the wall and the edge of the pit.  It sloped towards the gaping
hole, and it was wet and shining like the walls.  Martin could see it
must be a most treacherous footing, and he knew from the words of the
code--"windy cave--2 port--aloft"--that they must travel that dangerous

It was here, on this ledge, that the blocks and tackle were to be used.
The man who carried the second lantern, took the head block in his free
hand, and stepped onto the ledge.  He sidled along, hugging the wall,
dragging the rope behind him.

A few feet inside he crept past the first opening in the wall.  A score
of feet beyond, man and lantern melted into the wall, and Martin knew
the second opening was reached.  In a moment, man and lantern
reappeared, and the fellow sang out.

The sailor in the entrance, who held the foot block, fastened its hook
in a little raised hump of rock; then, grasping the hauling line,
pulled the tackle taut.  The result was a serviceable lifeline, waist
high, across the dangerous passage.

The sailor took a turn about his body with the bight of the rope, and
leaned back, holding a steady strain upon the tackle.  Martin could see
now why they had fetched a tackle, and not just a length of rope--there
were no boldly jutting rocks about which a rope might be looped and
knotted, but the hooks of the blocks fitted into the small inequalities
the edges of the walls presented.  So long as a strain was kept upon
the hauling line, the hooks would bite, and the lifeline would be quite

Martin followed this work with a watchful eye.  He was on the lookout
for a chance to execute his plan, waiting for a careless moment on the
part of those about him, which would give him an opportunity to free
his hands, and strike his blow.

For this was the time and the place!  Here, by the edge of the abyss,
must come his opportunity, his only opportunity.  Somehow he must get
possession of Ichi's revolver, the only firearm in the crowd.  If he
obtained that, he might be able to hold this gang at bay, and prevent
them returning to the ship until after the bosun's surprise party.  Or,
failing that, he could surely finish some of them before their sharp
knives finished him.  He could dispose of Ichi.

And this was the only plan he had.  To fight, and to sacrifice himself,
if need be.  He had dismissed the thought of escape, of making a dash
and losing himself in the black caves.  He could do that, he knew.  But
his escape would not help his shipmates; it would not save Ruth.

He knew that if he did not run for it, his death was almost certain.
If he fought, when he fought, he would be killed.  If he did not make
his chance to fight, Ichi would murder him as soon as the ambergris was
discovered--he was sure this program was agreed upon by Carew and Ichi.
And if the ambergris were not discovered he would be given over to Moto
for torture.  Martin was afraid of Moto, and a little bit afraid of
death--but his fear for himself was quite overshadowed by his other
great fear, his fear for Ruth.  His fate was nothing.  But her fate!
It was because of Ruth he disdained an attempt at flight; it was for
Ruth he would strike his blow, and take death if it came.

Hence Martin stood meekly by while the sailors rigged the line, and
watched for his chance.  Moto's eyes remained fixed upon him
unwaveringly; Ichi was surrounded by his men.  The moment was not yet.

Martin could not help according the little yellow men a certain
admiration.  They were frightened, plainly terrified, by this gloomy
cave, and especially by the gruesome sounds that came from the "deep
place."  But their native courage, or, perhaps, the iron discipline to
which they were accustomed, caused them to fight down their
superstitious fears.  Even Ichi, himself, was visibly unnerved by his
surroundings.  "Scientificness" and "Fate" evidently could not stop his
ears, nor quite eradicate inherited fears.  But he held his disquiet
firmly under control, and his bearing was sure as he shouted his
orders--only a side glance into the hole, and a momentary shudder,
betrayed his nervousness.

Ichi placed his lantern on the ground, beside the man who was holding
the line, and beckoned to Martin.  Then he stepped out upon the ledge,
one steadying hand upon the tackle.

For the fraction of a second, Martin hesitated to follow.  "What if
they shove me over?" he thought.  His hands were useless, doubled
behind him; if Moto were to give him the slightest shove, over the edge
into that dreadful hole he would go, for he would have no saving grip
upon the lifeline.  But the instant's reflection reassured him.  They
would not try to get rid of him until the treasure's hiding place were
discovered; and by that time he would have made his opportunity to

He followed Ichi.  Although the comforting touch of the lifeline was
not for him, his nerves were steady, and he did not falter on the
glassy, inclined way.  Ichi minced his steps, compelling Martin to
shorten his stride.  Martin saw that Ichi was trembling, and gazing
fearfully into the abyss.  He had an impulse to throw himself upon
Ichi, and roll with him over the edge.  But then, he thought, this blow
would not help his shipmates; indeed, it would harm them, for the rest
would immediately scurry back to the ship.  No, he must try to get the
revolver into his hand.

Ichi reached the lantern, and stepped into the cleft in the wall.
Martin followed, and found himself again on a level floor, and in the
entrance to another cave.

This entrance was not large.  There was standing room there for but
four of them, the sailor who had strung the line, and who was guarding
the head block, Ichi, Moto, and himself.  The other two sailors were
compelled to stay on the ledge, grasping the tackle.  The remaining man
in the party held to his position at the other end of the tackle, the
rope wrapped about his body.

"Ah--It is here we must commence our looking," exclaimed Ichi.  "It is
here we must test the statements of the young female and your honorable
self, Mr. Blake.  You are--ah--of a sureness as to direction?  My
worthy Moto is of a readiness."

Martin could feel the worthy Moto's fingers resting lightly upon his
shoulder.  But he also felt against his leg, the hard outline of the
revolver in Ichi's coat pocket--so closely were they crowded together
in the cave entrance.

"The code says 'aloft,'" answered Martin.  "Look for a hole in the roof
leading up into a dry cave."

Ichi chattered an order, and the sailor picked up the lantern and held
it over his head.  Very cautiously, so Moto would not feel and
interpret the movement, Martin began to squeeze his hand free from the

The lantern revealed the overhead rock for quite an area.  It revealed
the very spot they sought.  Just to the left of the entrance and on
level with Martin's chin a shelf of rock jutted out a couple of feet
from the wall.  Above this shelf was an opening, a crack in the ceiling
wide enough to admit a man's body.

Ichi pointed and exclaimed excitedly.  The lantern light illumined his
upturned face and Martin saw it contorted with triumphant greed.  The
others also exclaimed their joy.  Half glancing over his shoulder,
Martin saw that Moto's attention was fixed on the ceiling.  It was the
careless moment Martin awaited, his moment--with a convulsive jerk he
freed his hands.

But before he could straighten his arms, Ichi turned and grinned up
into his face.

"Ah--so, it was with truthfulness you spoke.  But we must prove, yes?"
He gave an order to the sailor, and the latter, replacing the lantern
on the floor, boosted himself to the ledge and disappeared through the
hole.  Martin backed against the wall to conceal the fact that his
hands were free, that one-half of his handcuffs were empty.  He waited
stolidly--Ichi and Moto were both watching his face, gloating upon him.

In a moment the expected hail came from overhead.  The sailor returned
from his exploration, stuck his head through the opening, and shouted a
sentence to Ichi, a triumphant, exultant shout.  Martin's knees bent
slightly and his body tensed for the leap.  And Ichi, leering up at
him, said, "And now--we have no needfulness of Mr. Blake----"

So far he got.  And then the smirk disappeared from his sagging mouth,
the cruelty and cupidity left his eyes, and terror crept in.

It was not Martin that checked him.  It was the Voice of the Pit.  In
the passing of a second, the moan from the chasm had become an
appalling roar.  A very gale of hot air hit their backs as it gushed up
from below.  The terrifying roaring grew in volume.  It seemed to be a
tangible thing approaching them.  Moto and Ichi, their prisoner
forgotten, were crouching, staring wide-eyed into the pit.

Martin reached out and gathered Ichi into his arms.

He had mentally rehearsed his movements.  He hugged the Jap with his
left arm, from which wrist the irons dangled, while his right hand dove
for Ichi's coat pocket.  His fingers closed about the pistol butt, and
he jerked the weapon out.

Ichi struggled furiously, awake to danger at the first touch.  He could
not break Martin's bear-like hug.  He screamed at the fascinated Moto;
Martin could see his lips framing cries, but not a syllable sounded
above the huge roaring that filled the caverns.  Then Ichi bent his
head and sunk his teeth into Martin's arm.

The pain of the bite caused Martin to jerk his arm violently upward.
He wrenched it free from the other's teeth; involuntarily, he pressed
the trigger, and the weapon discharged.  But he did not lose his grasp
on the gun; he clubbed it, and brought it down with all his might on
Ichi's head.

Ichi collapsed.  He sagged in Martin's encircling arm as limply and as
lifelessly as a sack of wheat.  The shot had aroused Moto; the
torturer's terrible fingers were reaching for Martin's throat.  The
latter dropped Ichi, and sprang backward; and even as he did so, he
hurled the weapon at Moto's face.

It was a true shot.  The heavy butt caught the Jap squarely on the
forehead, and sent him reeling and stumbling, hurled him off the level
underfooting at the cave entrance, and caused him to slip and
over-balance upon the sloping edge outside.  He fell.  His momentum
carried him on, and he slid down the slope toward the chasm, clutching
futilely at the wet, glassy surface.  At the edge he appeared to hang
motionless for an instant, his face lifted to Martin, his mouth wide
open, his contorted features half obscured by the wreathing vapors.
Then he vanished.

Martin's knees sagged.  He was horrified.  So suddenly had the tragedy
happened, he was still in the posture of throwing the revolver--and now
revolver and victim were both gone, and Ichi--Ichi was this lump at his
feet.  Unconsciously, he strained his ears for Moto's death cry.  But
the thunder that ascended from the depths drowned all other sounds.
This roar was swelling, swelling; it seemed to rock the world.

He felt sick.  He squatted there in the entrance, beside Ichi's body,
his wide eyes fixed upon the dancing rim of the chasm.  In his mind's
eye he could see Moto falling, falling down, down, down, past black,
slippery walls, down into the heart of that tremendous sound.  But he
was too stunned by the awful noise to feel either glad or sorry.  Only
horror, and a dumb wonder.

He thought, "This is death."  Then, strangely, his mind inquired, "Why
the sound?  What is it?"  Once the query was put to himself, his mind
worked upon it quite independent of his will.  It was a saving quest,
something to keep him sane, this groping for an explanation.  He
watched the vapors.  The windy cave seemed less dark, and the white
clouds poured upward and swirled about like dancing ghosts.  The hot,
wet air beat upon him.  He was half choked, and sopping wet.  And the
noise grew and grew.  It was like a thousand huge boilers all blowing
off at once.

Steam!  The thought of boilers was the clue.  He had it; he was sure he
was right.  It was the roar of escaping steam far, far down in that
fearful hole.  The vapors, the hot, wet wind--dead steam, half
condensed during its long rush upward.  Down there in the bowels of the
mountain the sea seepage was being turned to steam.  The live heart of
this old volcano was nothing else than a tremendous boiler, and this
chasm was the boiler's safety valve.  But, God--how far down must be
the fires!  Miles, perhaps.  He wondered if Moto had yet reached bottom.

Gradually, he became conscious that the roar was diminishing, that the
vapors no longer gushed forth in such volume.  He had lost track of
time; he felt he had always been sitting here by the edge of the pit;
he had forgotten all about the other Japs, all about the bosun and
Ruth.  The noise had even driven Ruth from his conscious mind.  But
now, with the lessening of the pressure against his ear drums, and the
end of the great humming inside his head, his apathy was gone.  He
peered about him.

He looked out of the entrance, along the ledge.  The two sailors still
clung to the lifeline; there was only air between them and the chasm,
and they clutched the ropes tightly and stared down into the hole.
Martin could not see their faces, but their postures were eloquent of
their terror.  Beyond, by the light of the lantern at his feet, the
remaining Jap was plainly revealed.  His face was visible--and
terror-stricken.  But he still had the hauling line about him, and was
leaning backwards keeping the saving strain upon the lifeline.

The great steam roar died away to the rhythmic, whistling wail that had
preceded it.  But another great noise was commencing.  It was not the
shattering scream of steam, but a mighty rumble that came from an
immense distance.  Coincidentally, the mountain itself came alive and
shook, not violently, but gently, shudderingly, as if Atlas, far
beneath, were hunching his burdened shoulders.

A dim light appeared, hovering over the great crack in the cave floor.
It seemed a reflection of some distant glare, in color a pale green.
Slowly it mounted and spread, diffusing a soft, eerie radiance, and
revealing to Martin's fascinated gaze the truly vast dimensions of the
cave of winds.

Something forced Martin's gaze to the other entrance.  And, as his eyes
rested upon the figure of the rope-holding Jap, Martin's own body
stiffened convulsively with a shock of surprise.  His heart skipped a
beat, and then began to furiously race, while cold chills crawled up
and down his spine.

For a second figure had suddenly materialized beside the figure of a
Jap.  Another figure--a gnome, a wraith!  The unholy light from the pit
painted it an unearthly greenish hue, and accentuated the haggardness
of face, and the gleaming eyes, the humped body, its crookedness
magnified by the crouched attitude.  It looked like some demon come
floating up on the wicked light from the "deep place."  It crouched to
leap, to strike, and a bared knife gleamed in an upraised hand; it
glared balefully, fixedly, at the living anchor of the lifeline.

The yellow sailor seemed to feel that fearsome presence at his side.
He did not turn his head, but he slowly rolled his eyes and regarded
the menacing apparition.  An expression of complete horror and despair
swept into his face.

For an instant he remained motionless.  Then his surrender to his
terror was complete.  He leaped as though released by a spring, cast
the rope from him, covered his face with his hands, and backed away
from the figure.  He backed into the big cave, toward the pit.

In another second they were gone--all three of them.  Gone before
Martin could utter his cry of warning--or recognition.  Gone before the
stranger could move.

For, when the sailor cast away the rope, the strain on the tackle was
released, and the freed hauling line whipped snakelike through the air
as it rushed through the sheaves.  The two men on the ledge fell
backward, as their lifeline collapsed; the blocks, with no weight to
hold them taut dropped from the rock; and the two poor wretches sliding
down the incline towards the pit dragged the tackle after them.  The
tail block, swishing over the smooth surface, twined about the feet of
the backward-stumbling first man, and jerked him from his feet.  With
the swiftly waning light revealing a writhing jumble of outflung arms
and legs, ropes and blocks, the three men slipped over the chasm edge.

The quake rumble had ceased.  Above the simmering moan of the steam,
Martin heard the death wail of the trio, a wild, hideous shriek that
grew fainter and fainter, farther and farther away, and finally merged
completely with the other sound.

The greenish glow subsided into the depths from which it had sprung.
The black gloom swept down over the caves, covering all save the narrow
circles about the lanterns.  And Martin squatted, sick and shaken, by
one lantern, and stared beyond the ledge at the other lantern.  By it
stood Little Billy.



"Is it little Billy?" thought Martin.  "No, it can't be.  Little Billy
is on board, planning the uprising, directing Yip and Bosun."  The
guess he had made, born of hope and Ruth's hurried whisper, that Little
Billy was at large on the ship, combated the evidence of his sight.  He
could not believe it was Little Billy.

But then the voice came across from the other entrance.  It was
unmistakably Billy's voice.

"Martin, Martin!  Are you all right?"

Martin found his own voice then.  He shouted loudly, "Billy, Billy!"
He staggered to his feet, intent on joining the other.  But Little
Billy was already on the ledge, sidling towards him.

An instant later he was pawing the hunchback, and gabbling gladly,
"Billy, Billy!"  It really was Little Billy, a real flesh and blood
Billy.  The mere feel of him was medicine to Martin's sick soul; it
shoved back the horror of the last few minutes.  He was almost
hysterical, so intense was his relief and joy at having Little Billy by
his side.

But the hunchback's first words effectually checked this mood.  "Ruth!"
he said.  "My God, Martin--the ship--Ruth--what has happened!"

It was like a cold blast--these words.  They shocked Martin sober, blew
the stupor from his mind.  "Ruth--the ship!"

"Is she--is she--" stuttered Little Billy.

"All right.  So far.  Carew has the ship.  But there is a plan--"
Martin stopped.  The plan!  Good Lord, what now of the plan?  He had
taken it for granted that Little Billy was on the ship, directing a
rescue.  Why, Yip had passed him a note from Little Billy----

That note!  Martin clapped his hand to his hip pocket.

"What is it?" cried Little Billy.  "Talk to me--tell me, Martin, about
the ship--Ruth!"

Martin bent over the lantern, and unfolded the paper he had drawn from
his pocket.  It was a mere scrap of paper, hurriedly and irregularly
torn from a larger sheet; on it, in Ruth's hand, was penciled a few

"Grandfather has regained his sight--courage, dear--Yip has a plan.
The noon meal."

Their eyes met above the papers, Martin's kindling with understanding,
Little Billy's bewildered.

"By George, she wrote it!" exclaimed Martin.  "I know--she slipped it
to Yip in the cabin, and he slipped it to me.  And all the time I
thought I had a note you had written.  She wrote it--Ruth!"

All of a sudden Martin realized that the hunchback's presence by his
side was a mystery.  For the first time his eyes began to critically
inspect his companion.  Revealed in the lantern light, Little Billy was
a truly pitiful figure, coatless, shoeless, clad only in sea-soiled
trousers and singlet.  The twisted, meager frame slumped dejectedly,
the face was haggard with fatigue and worry, the eyes deep-sunken,

"What happened, Billy?  You--how did you get ashore?" began Martin.

"Swam," was the succinct reply.  "Never mind me.  Just now, you talk.
What are conditions aboard?  How many of us are left?  The note--the
plan--to retake the ship?"

"Yes, I think so.  The crew--I'll explain, Billy.  But this place--"
The distant roar was audible again, and, despite himself, Martin fell
to trembling.  "Let us get out of here," he urged Little Billy.  "Back
to the beach--where we can see the ship."

"We can't show ourselves on the beach," said the Other.  "Winters'
cave--did you discover it?"

Martin nodded.  The dry cave overhead--that was the place.  He did not
relish recrossing the ledge by the chasm edge at that moment; he did
not think he could do it without falling in.  And Winters' cave, if he
recalled aright the description, had an outlook over the bay.

He motioned Little Billy to hold the lantern, while he bent over to
inspect Ichi.  A dim idea was at work in Martin's mind; not yet clear
cut, not yet a reasoned plan.  It concerned Ichi.  If only the little
wretch were not dead, or badly injured, as he feared.  The man had lain
there so motionless; he seemed such an inanimate lump as Martin rolled
him over on his back.

But the fear was groundless.  There was blood on Ichi's face from a
torn scalp, and a big lump on the side of his head.  The hunchback felt
the lump, and cried, "Knocked out!"  Immediately he added, "He's coming
around--or playing 'possum.  His eyes!  He isn't shot.  I thought you
shot him; I saw the flash.  But he's just knocked out--and waking up.
See his eyes!  Frisk him.  Not even a knife."

Ichi's lids were fluttering.  Presently they drew back slowly, and the
man stared up at them.  At first it was a vague, wavering,
uncomprehending stare.  But after a moment, intelligence--and
fear--crept into the beady black eyes, and the gaze fastened upon the
two grim, white faces above.  Ichi tried to raise his head, his body.
But Martin's hand was at his throat, and his knee upon his chest.

"He's alive!" exclaimed Martin, triumphantly.  "Don't you see,
Billy--we can bargain----"

"Use him, or kill him," cried the cripple, savagely, and he cursed at
the prostrate man's face.  "Drag him to his feet, Martin.  Let's be
going.  The way to Winters' cave--up here?"

With his clutch on Ichi's collar, Martin dragged him to his feet and
propped him against the wall.  Ichi was groggy, but he kept his feet;
and he was plainly conscious, though he did not open his mouth.  The
handcuffs which had chafed Martin's wrists for so many hours were still
dangling from his left arm.  He slipped them off, and, with no gentle
hand, forced his prisoner's wrists together behind him and ironed them
tightly.  Tit for tat, thought Martin; and he made certain that Ichi
would not wriggle his wrists through the steel clasps.

"Look here!" called Little Billy.  "I had a hunch that shot hit
somebody.  Look--up here!"

He held the lantern over his head, and its rays lighted the shelf
beneath the hole in the ceiling.  On it was sprawled the body of a man.
It was a gruesome sight; the form seemed oddly shrunken and twisted,
one leg hung over the edge of the rock, the face was towards them, eyes
and mouth wide open.  Unmistakably dead.

"Hole in the forehead," said Little Billy.

The nausea had Martin's stomach again.  But he fought it back.  His
mind searched for and immediately found the answer.

"When Ichi bit my arm, and I jerked it up and the gun went off.  Yes,
that's it.  And that--I'd forgotten about that fellow, Ichi sent him
aloft to explore.  He must have been crawling back when I--when he was

"Good riddance," said Little Billy.

"Watch this bird a moment," commanded Martin.

He stepped forward, and, conquering his repugnance, put his arms about
the corpse and lifted it to the floor.  Then, on second thought, he
knelt and removed the leather belt and sheath knife from about the
man's waist.  He had remembered he was weaponless.

It was no easy task to boost the prisoner to the shelf, and thence
through the crack in the ceiling.  Ichi was none too willing to
proceed, though he made no audible protest.  But with Little Billy--who
went first--pulling from above, and Martin prodding and thumping from
below, the three finally negotiated the unhandy entrance.

They found themselves in a tunnel, much like the one below that
connected with the Elephant Head.  But this shaft, when they got a
little ways into it, was dry, and the air was sweet.  A cool, sweet
wind touched their faces, so they knew they were approaching blessed

Little Billy went first, with the lantern.  Martin brought up the rear,
and, with his hand on Ichi's collar, directed the latter's somewhat
faltering steps.  Their way climbed sharply, then leveled; the tunnel
was as tortuous as the one below.  They turned a corner and discerned a
bar of daylight cutting athwart the darkness of the passage.  Another
turn, and they were on the threshold of a wide and lofty cavern, a
great room that was dimly lighted by a large, natural window in the
farther wall.

"Watch him!"  Martin cried to Little Billy; and, deserting his
prisoner, he rushed forward to the opening.

He looked out over the beach and the sun-sparkled waters of the little
bay.  This cave was a good forty feet above the beach.  He looked down
on the vessel, which was but a few hundred yards distant; the flooding
tide had swung her stern to the shore, and her decks were plainly

At his first glance, Martin suffered a sharp stab of disappointment.
For nothing was changed.  There, leaning over the taffrail, staring
shoreward, was the Japanese mate, Asoki, in the exact attitude in which
Martin had last seen him, when he entered the caves in Ichi's wake.
The man seemed not to have budged since then.  And forward, the guards
were still at the hatches.  He saw Yip step out of the gallery, empty a
pot overside, and stand there by the rail, gazing aft.

Asoki suddenly came to life, walked over to the skylight and glanced
below, and then struck six bells' on the bell that hung by the wheel.

Martin's feeling of disappointment was changed to one of astonishment.
Six bells!  It was unbelievable.  Only thirty moments since he followed
Ichi through the Elephant Head!  A half hour!

The swift tragedies by the chasm brink, the earth's convulsions, and
the darkness, above all the darkness, all combined to lend error to his
time reckoning.  He had felt he was immersed in the black bowels of the
mountain for hours.  But now he looked into daylight, and reasoned
about it, he realized how short was the time spent in the cave of
winds.  It was but a half hour since they landed.  Thirty moments!
Why, the bosun and the boys must still be quiet in the hold, and Yip's
plot was still a-borning.  And now, he was not impotent; he could help,
perhaps.  With Ichi.

He turned to call Little Billy and the prisoner forward.  He discovered
the hunchback by his side, peering out at the ship.  But Ichi was gone.

"My God, where is he?" exclaimed Martin.

"Eh?  Damn!  I forgot him!" was Billy's answer.  He glanced swiftly
around.  "There he goes!"

Martin saw him the same instant--the squat figure streaking for the dim
recesses at the farther end of the cavern.  He sprinted after the
vanishing form.  Before he could overhaul it, Ichi rounded a spur of
rock; there was a crash, and a yelp of terror and pain.  Martin,
rounding the corner, came into collision with a round rolling object,
and sprawled headlong over it.

He landed on a softer couch than the rock, on Ichi, himself; and the
Jap's remaining wind was expelled from his body with a forcible
"_woof!_"  Something made of wood fell on Martin's back, and bounced
off; then a barrel rolled against him and stopped.  He did not feel
either blow; he was too intent on making sure of the safety of the
captive.  He flopped the limp and groaning Ichi over on his back, and
sat on him.

Just then Little Billy appeared around the jutting rock with the

"Got him safe?" he exclaimed.  "Oh, Martin, I was so anxious--the
ship--took my eyes off him just a second, and--"  He stopped his
excuses suddenly, and held up the lantern, gazing about.

"Good heavens, do you know what this is?" he cried.

Martin knew.  He had guessed it even before Billy spoke, even before
the lantern brought clear sight.  The thing he had tumbled over: the
other things that bumped him; the reek of musk in the air.  He knew it
was the treasure.

None the less, he was astonished when he followed Little Billy's
gesture with his gaze.  They were in a corner of the dry cave, and the
jutting rock which had spelled grief for Ichi formed a pocket or
alcove.  This little chamber, in which they now were, was nearly filled
with kegs.  They were stowed neatly, tier on tier, from floor to
sloping roof.  They were about the size of pickle kegs, and there were
dozens of them.  Ichi had evidently plumped headlong into the pile and
sent several kegs (and himself) rolling, one of which had tripped

Martin's knowledge of ambergris was still very vague.  He would not
have been surprised at the sight of a couple of barrels and an
iron-bound chest or two.  But a regiment of kegs!  Dozens of kegs!  If
they all contained ambergris, he thought, there must be tons of the
smelly stuff.

"See it, Martin?" cried the volatile hunchback, all else forgotten in
the excitement of the instant.  "By Jove, the entire fifteen hundred
pounds, or I'll eat this lantern!  _Phew_--it hasn't lost any of its

"But all those kegs can't be filled with it," said Martin.  "Fifteen
hundred pounds--why, there must be fifty kegs there."

"Fifty-five," answered Little Billy, "counting the ones you knocked
over.  Not as much as it looks.  There is hardly any weight to
ambergris; it takes quite a lump to weigh even an ounce.  Specific
gravity is--is--oh, I forget."

"It is .09," came a muffled voice from underneath Martin.

Martin started, and lifted his weight from the prostrate form.

"That is of betterness," said Ichi, more clearly.  "May I see, please?"

"The rat smells cheese," observed Little Billy.  It seemed so.  Ichi
struggled into a sitting posture, and his little black eyes were bright
and greedy as he feasted them upon the kegs.  He even sucked in the
burdened air greedily.

"Let's get back where we can see the ship," said Martin.  He jerked the
Jap to his feet, and propelled him before.  "That cursed stuff sickens
me," he told Little Billy, as they rapidly retraced their way.  "Think
of the ruin--the murder--all the trouble it has caused."

"Aye, Sails," responded Little Billy.  "Poor Sails.  And who else?  For
God's sake, who else, Martin?  And the ship--Ruth--everything!  I know

"Lend a hand while I truss him up, so he won't lead us another chase,"
said Martin.

They had regained the window, and a glance had assured Martin the ship
had remained peaceful during their brief absence.  And now he took the
strap belt he had salvaged from the dead sailor and with it tightly
bound Ichi's ankles.  It rendered him quite helpless.  Martin deposited
him with his back to the wall, a few feet from the window.

"Sit there awhile and think over your sins," he told him, when Ichi
tried to speak.  "When I'm ready, I'll talk with you."



"If we could only get on board to help," complained Little Billy.  "If
it were only dark.  That whaleboat down there."

"But we can't," was Martin's prompt rejoinder.  "You said yourself we
dare not venture on the beach.  They would only knock us over with
their rifles--and besides, Carew would learn that something had
happened to his landing party."

They were sitting on either side of the opening, watchfully regarding
the ship.  Martin, in response to the hunchback's importuning, had just
briefly related the details of the previous night's misfortune, and he
now summarized the situation on board as he knew or guessed it.

"The foc'sle crowd is locked in the hold--you see the guards, one at
the fore hatch, and two amidships," said Martin.  "The bosun has
undoubtedly broken through from the lazaret and joined the boys by this
time.  Captain Dabney is laid up in his room, suffering from the blow
Carew gave him, and Ruth is nursing him.  But her note said he has
regained his sight--what does that mean, Billy?"

"I don't know," said Little Billy.  "It was a shock that blinded him;
perhaps another shock has cured him.  But the Chink's plan, Martin!
What is it?  'The noon meal.'  What does that mean?"

Martin shook his head.  "I wish I knew.  I shouldn't think eight bells
would be a good time for the boys in the hold to attempt to break out.
Now, would be a good time.  There are only three of the gang on
guard--or four, if you count the mate, there on the poop.  Another one
is in the cabin with Carew.  The rest must be asleep in the foc'sle.
There are only nine of them left, Billy.  We have accounted for six,
you and I--and that hole.  There are ten of our fellows in the hold.
If only they were armed!  I am afraid to try my scheme just yet; it
might upset their plans, it might spoil everything.  Her note is
explicit, 'The noon meal.'"

"Your plan?  We can help?" exclaimed Little Billy.

Martin inclined his head towards the bound form of their captive, lying
beyond earshot.  "Decoy," he said.

Understanding lighted the hunchback's face.  "I see.  Draw them
off--some of them.  Just before eight bells.  Oh, I am dopey, not to
have thought of that.  But I can't think straight.  Nerves snapping.
I've worried a lot since last night.  You know how it is--I didn't know
what had happened, and Ruth---"

Yes, Martin knew how it was.  He smiled his understanding and sympathy,
and leaned over and patted Billy's shoulder.  Yes, he knew.  His own
nerves were snapping, when he thought of Ruth.  He knew that his, and
Wild Bob's, were not the only hearts enslaved by the maid of the
_Cohasset_.  And he, the accepted lover, could regard without disquiet
the light that shone in Billy's eyes whenever the latter spoke of Ruth.

"I know how it is between you two," continued Little Billy.  "And
you--I think you know how it is with me.  I--why, I'd die for her
gladly.  Oh, Martin, in my mind I think I died a thousand times last

"What happened to you last night?" inquired Martin.  "How did you
escape them, and get ashore?"

"I suppose they murdered Rimoa and Oomak while Sails was in the cabin,
calling you.  Poor Sails--so it was his concern for me that caused him
to awaken you.  He thought feydom had me."

"But he was wrong," said Martin, quickly.

"I don't know; I have had a feeling--oh, well, no matter," rejoined
Little Billy.  "I guess they would have finished me, as well as the
others, had I been on board."

"Had you been on board?" echoed Martin.

"I was already on my way to the beach when they boarded.  Passed them
on the way.  It was just an accident, a simple mishap," explained the
other.  "It happened just after I roused MacLean from his snooze in the
galley.  You recall how dark it was last night.  I felt my way aft, and
paused by the capstan, where you found my tobacco pouch.  I placed it
there preparatory to filling my pipe.  My pipe wasn't in my pocket, and
I remembered that it was lying on the thwart of the dingey, where I
left when I came on board after sounding to anchor in the afternoon.

"Well, you may remember what state I was in.  The booze craving made me
jumpy and unreasonable.  I decided I must have that pipe, no other pipe
would do.  So I crossed to the side and felt around until I grasped the
boat's painter; and then I overhauled until the dingey was beneath me.
I had climbed up on the rail, and was perched there on my knees, and as
I twisted around to make the painter fast, I over-balanced and fell.

"I guess I struck the boat's gunwale a glancing blow with my head.
Anyway, I bounced off into the water.  When I came to the surface I was
at first too stunned to cry out.  I needed all my breath, anyway, to
keep afloat.  The tide was flooding like a millrace, and sweeping me
with it.  I couldn't see the ship; I was isolated in the black fog.

"The water was icy cold and my clothes dragged me under.  You remember
how chilly it was last night; I had on sea boots and reefer coat.  I
struggled desperately, under water half the time, and managed to slip
off the boots; then I wriggled out of my coat and guernsey.  By this
time I knew I was near the beach, and I was almost spent.

"Then, a boat passed me.  I could not see it--but I heard oars, or
fancied I did.  I tried to call out.  But I was too far gone; every
time I opened my mouth it filled with water, and I only spluttered.
Anyway, I wasn't sure it was oars; it was more likely surf on a rock, I
thought.  A little later, I felt the ground under my feet, and
staggered up on the beach.

"I was lying on the sand, waiting for strength that would enable me to
hail the ship, when they rushed you.  I heard a shriek coming out of
the darkness.  It must have been MacLean.  Then shouts, and a shot, and
Ruth's scream, and--silence.  Oh, I knew then what had happened, and
that I had really passed a boat, Carew's boat!

"I don't like to think about the time that followed.  I think I was
crazy for a time; I know I ranged up and down the beach like a madman.
But I retained enough sense to know I couldn't swim against the tide.
It was a miracle I kept afloat with the tide in that Arctic water, and
me a lubberly swimmer.  Then, after a long while--how long a time I
don't know; each moment seemed an age--I stumbled upon MacLean's body.
Poor Sails, he could not foretell his own finish!

"He--he couldn't have been quite dead when they threw him over, or he
wouldn't have made the beach so quickly.  But he was quite dead then.
I took his knife from his hip--this is it I have here--because I felt I
might have a chance to use it.  God, how I longed for a chance to use
it!  Finding MacLean sort of steadied me; it shocked me sane, so to
speak.  The fog began to thin out, and I slipped into a cave.

"Pretty soon the fog lifted altogether, and it was a bright calm
morning.  Through the cave mouth, I could see the Japs parading the
deck.  But I didn't see them making preparations to get the ship under
way, so I reasoned the ambergris was still ashore, and that they would
come for it.  So I just waited.

"You see, I thought it was all ended for the Happy Family.  I knew
Carew, and these yellow devils; I was sure you had all been killed, and
that Ruth--oh, well, I was going to meet them when they came ashore,
and do a little work with Sails' knife before they finished me.

"At last their whaleboat started for the beach.  I was ready to show
myself, when I noticed you in the party--you, alive.  I thought if you
were alive, some of the others might also be alive, and there might be
something to hope for.  So I lurked in the cave, and watched."

"I saw you!" interjected Martin.  "Lord, what a start the glimpse of
your face gave me!  I knew you were alive, but I was convinced you were
on board.  I thought I was seeing ghosts."

"You went in through the Elephant Head, and I went after you,"
continued Little Billy.  "The cave I was in (the one those fellows
lived in, by the reek of the place) communicated with the passage you
traveled, so I could fall in behind without going out on the beach.  I
trailed your party to the big cave, stopped just back of the light, and
watched you cross the ledge.  Then came that awful blast (did you
notice it was steam, Martin?) and I saw you struggling with one of
them, and you knocked another one over the edge, and I thought it was
time for me to lend a hand.  But the sight of me was too much for that
fellow who held the line.

"Well, they are gone, poor devils.  I suppose I should feel a bit sorry
for them.  But I don't.  I know just what brutes they were.  What
surprises me, is that they didn't make a thorough job of it and
slaughter all hands, instead of only three.  What do they want of
prisoners?  Except--Ruth?"

"I am sure Carew prevented that," said Martin.  He rehearsed the scene
in the cabin.  "Carew is wild about Ruth, and she has him bluffed,
actually bluffed.  If it had been left to Ichi, there, I am sure we all
would have been killed, and the directions for finding the treasure
tortured out of Ruth.  But Carew protected her--and us.  He hopes to
gain her favor, to compel her to love him, or--at least accept him.  He
even hinted he would place all the rest of us safely ashore.  I think
he was lying."

"Depend on it, he was," asserted Little Billy.  "Place you safely
ashore on this island, I suppose, And conduct you to the edge of that
hole, and personally chuck you in.  That's Carew's style!  My God, that
is an awful hole, Martin!  It got on my nerves.  Listen, she's blowing

They regarded each other silently, listening to the roaring down there
in the depths.  It grew and grew, became for a moment a harsh menacing,
overwhelming screech, and then slowly subsided to the murmurous moaning
that never ceased.

"It happens continuously," commented Little Billy.  "Every hour or so,
since I've been ashore.  Blow the roof off some day.  Here comes the
rest of it."

"The rest of it" was the rumble and the little quake.  It brought
vividly before Martin's eyes the horrid picture of the ghostly lighted
chasm, and the yellow men falling to their death.  It brought
disquietude to another mind, also.  Ichi emitted a wail of pure terror.

"This place has got him," said Little Billy.  "By Jove, it has nearly
got me, too.  One could swear those were human voices in torment, down
there.  Eh, Ichi," he added in louder tones, "don't you hear your
shipmates calling to you to join them?  Down yonder in the hole?"

Ichi chattered in his native tongue.  He may have been answering Little
Billy; it sounded as though he were cursing him.  Whatever it was, it
was frightened and forceless talk; and when presently Ichi lapsed into
English, it was the fear-stricken coolie who entreated, and not the
swagger Japanese gentleman who commanded.

"Oh, Mr. Blake, you are gentleman.  Mr. Billy is not speak
truthfulness, yis?  Mr. Blake, please, you will not give me to the
'Deep Place.'  Not to the 'Evil Ones.'  Mr. Blake, I help you, I be of
much usefulness.  You promise--Mr. Billy spoke with jokefulness.  Yis,

"He's forgetting his English.  What do you know about that?" said
Little Billy.

"He thinks you meant what you said about his shipmates calling,"
replied Martin, in a low voice.  "He thinks you meant that you were
going to drop him into the hole, after his gang.  Threaten him some
more.  The more frightened he is, the more eagerly he'll do what we
wish.  There goes seven bells on the ship--we'll have to use him in a
few minutes."

"So you don't like the thought of being chucked into the hole, eh, my
yellow snake?" drawled Little Billy, strolling over to Ichi's resting
place.  Despite his knowledge that the hunchback was acting, Martin
shuddered at his tones; his voice was vibrant with bitter hate.  "But
it is not what you like this time, Ichi.  It is what we like, what I
like, eh?  You see this knife; you feel it when I prick your
throat--so?  Well, it is old Sails' knife, Ichi, poor old Sails' knife.
Why not slit your lying throat with Sails' knife, like you slit Sails'
throat--if I like, eh?  But I don't like, Ichi.  That's too sweet a
finish for you.  No, when we get ready we are going to cart you down to
the edge of that hole, and--over the edge you go!"

"Oh, please, please--oh, _prease_ Mr. Brake!" chattered Ichi.  "You
come take him away.  You not let him do it?  Oh, Mr. Blake, a long time
I your friend; you helpful me I helpful you, I be your man.  Not the
Deep Place, not the--_aiee-ee_," and his voice trailed off in a
dolorous howl as some freak of the draught caused the voice of the pit
to momentarily shriek.

"All right, Billy, on watch here.  Let me talk to him now," said Martin.

He dragged Ichi closer to the window, so that daylight fell upon the
man's face.  Then he sat down in front of him, and regarded him

Ichi was in a frenzy of mingled hope and fear.  He gabbled half
incoherently his allegiance to his captor, his love for him, his
willingness to do this, that, anything--only, not the Deep
Place--_prease_!  He was a pitiable object, could Martin have found
pity for him in his heart.  He was no longer the suave, dapper Japanese
gentleman.  His boasted gentility was gone with his courage; and
superstitious terror had quite overcome his Western skepticism.  He was
just a yellow coolie, terror-stricken, cringing before and begging of
his master.

"Wild Bob has just come up on the poop.  He's talking to the mate,"
called Little Billy.

"Good," said Martin.  He unbuckled the strap from around Ichi's ankles,
and hoisted the man erect.

"Now, Ichi, you do what I say, and I promise you it won't be the Deep
Place.  Indeed, I promise you your life, so far as I hold it--though
you don't deserve it.  But if you don't do what I say----"

"Yis--oh, yes, please, I helpful you muchly," he promised, eagerly.

"Carew is at the taffrail," said Little Billy.  "He's hailing the
beach--hailing Ichi."

Martin had finished looping the strap about the chain of the handcuffs.
Now he thrust the man forward, into the window; he, himself, retaining
a grasp on the leather, and remaining beyond the window edge, by the
hunchback's side.

Captain Carew stood at the taffrail and searched the face of the
mountain.  Presently he cupped his hands, and sent a second stentorian
hail across the water--"Ahoy-y-y!  Ahoy, the beach!  Ichi!"

"So he's a bit worried about his partner," whispered Little Billy.
"That's good."

Martin commanded Ichi.  "Answer him."

Ichi hesitated.  But a jerk on the strap opened his mouth.  He sent a
piercing "Aiee-e-e!" out of the window.

Carew looked eagerly for the sender of the hail.  But it was Asoki, the
mate, who located the figure framed in the opening.  He clutched
Carew's arm, and pointed.  And Martin noted that not only the pirate
captain was interested.  Charley Bo Yip's head popped out of the galley
door; and the guards all stared shorewards.

"Are you all right?" hailed Carew.  "Have you found the stuff?"  The
voice came very clearly over the water; the cliffs making a sounding
board that accented, then echoed, every syllable.

"Tell him," Martin commanded Ichi, "tell him, 'Come ashore!'  Come,
sing it out.  Remember the Deep Place!"

"Come ashore!" howled Ichi.

"Anything wrong?" demanded Carew.

"Tell him, 'Yes,'" commanded Martin.  On the spur of the moment he
added, "Tell him I have been lost.  That's it.  An accident.  And you
need him.  Out with it."

"Yes!  Accident!  Mr. Blake lost!  You come and helpful, Captain!" Ichi
called, obediently.

"What's that--the cub lost--gone?" shouted Carew.  He seemed not
overcome by the news.  He laughed, and slapped Asoki on the back.
"D'ye want me to help locate the stuff?" he hailed back to Ichi.
"Shall I bring the girl?"

"My God!" breathed Little Billy.

Martin jerked viciously on the strap.  "Tell him yes, damn you, tell
him yes!" he cried.

"Yes--the girl!" called Ichi.

Carew waved his arm.  "Coming!" he replied.  "Meet me on the beach!"



They waited there at the window for some time longer, watching the
preparations made for Carew's coming ashore.  Carew, himself, had
disappeared below, but a sailor appeared on the main deck, and hauled
the dingey alongside.  He was the cabin guard, thought Martin.  Asoki,
the mate, left the poop and lent a hand at the task, and supervised the
placing of the oars in the boat, and the adjusting of the Jacob's

And they in the cave watched not only this task.  Events were
proceeding forward.  It was evidently very near the noon hour, for Yip
was preparing to serve the dinner to the crew.  Even before Carew left
the deck, the Chinaman banged a pan, at the galley door, announcing his
purpose to the world.  And now, three new figures were visible on the
deck, coming up from the foc'sle.

Martin stared closely.  The newcomers did not appear to carry their
arms with them; the sunlight gleamed on but three rifles, the one
carried by the fore-hatch guard, and the two weapons in the possession
of the men lounging abaft the house, amidships.  All of the Japs, save
only the guard at the fore hatch, lounged over to the rail and watched
their compatriots aft prepare the dingey.  They were evidently more
interested in this work, and in the aspect of the beach, than in the
meal that Yip was now spreading for them on the deck abaft the house.

Presently, Carew was visible again--on the main deck, this time, at the
rail.  And--Martin's heart leaped into his throat--Ruth was with him.
Ruth, cloaked and bowed, stood submissively by Carew's side.

Carew noticed his men lounging forward, gaping at him.  He evidently
disliked the sight, or perhaps, some word of theirs' about the girl
reached his ears--he flung an order to Asoki, and the latter chattered
angrily at the loafers.  They left the rail precipitantly, and
clustered about the mess kits Yip had just finished placing on the
deck.  The Chinaman, Martin noticed, retreated immediately into the
galley; and, a second later, reappeared on the other side of the deck.
He peeked around the side of the house at the diners; then he strolled

Carew was already in the dingey, and Ruth was being helped to the rail
by the Jap mate.  The sailor was in the dingey, too, seated at oars,
ready to give way.  Martin had the thought: "There is now no guard in
the cabin, and if Captain Dabney really has his sight--"  But he did
not pursue the speculation.  He was thinking of Ruth, watching her
descend the Jacob's ladder into Carew's waiting arms.  He forgot to
watch Yip.  He forgot everything save Ruth, and the hated hands that
fastened upon her waist and lifted her into the boat.

Grim-faced, savage-eyed, Martin stared down at the little boat; watched
Carew seat Ruth beside him in the sternsheets; watched the sailor bend
to the oars as Asoki cast off the painter.  And Martin's mood was
exultant as he watched.  Carew was coming!  Now he was going to square
accounts with the renegade beast!  Now he was going to wipe the smirk
from those cruel lips!  That sneering mouth would never again babble
the brute's unclean love into _her_ unwilling ears, by heaven, no!

It was a gasp from Ichi, and a stuttering exclamation from Little
Billy, that brought his mind--and eyes--to the ship again.  Something
was happening amid the group of eaters.  One of them was rolling on the
deck, another was staggering about, consternation reigned over the
rest, and their cries of surprise and fear were audible in the cave.
Asoki was running toward the scene.

"The hatch!  Yip!" cried Little Billy.

A blood-curdling whoop rode the air.  Yip's whoop.  The Chinaman was
dancing on the deck, away forward by the foc'sle scuttle, brandishing
something over his head.  More than that, Martin saw--the fore hatch
was open.  Other figures appeared by Yip's side.  The gigantic figure
of the bosun appeared around the forward corner of the house, and he
was rushing aft.

He--and his followers--almost reached the after end of the house before
the rattled Japs spied them.  Then was pandemonium.  One of the armed
Japs shot point blank at the bosun.  He missed the mark at which he
aimed, though a man behind the bosun fell; but the bosun, before his
enemy could fire again, leaned over and scooped into his arms the
figure that had been writhing on the deck, and, half straightening,
hurled it at the man with the gun.  The body hurtled true to its
mark--both target and missile went scooting across the deck, to fetch
up motionless in the scuppers.  Then the bosun had the rifle and was
swinging it, clubbed, the center of a mêlée.

Carew's voice, roaring at Asoki, brought Martin's gaze down to the
small boat.  It had made some hundred yards towards shore when the shot
was fired at the bosun--the first inkling Carew had, it seemed, that
his conquest of the ship was in jeopardy.  He was standing up in the
boat, trying to get a glimpse of the deck of the ship, and calling to
know what was wrong.  The man at the oars was backing water, holding
the boat motionless; but as the sounds of general conflict came to the
captain's ears, he evidently gave the sailor instructions, for the boat
began to swing back to the brig.

But Carew was not destined to set foot again on stolen decks.  A new
factor suddenly entered the struggle.  Martin noticed first, with a
great gasp of astonishment; then Little Billy exclaimed, "The captain!
Skipper Dabney!  See!" and excitedly wagged his finger at the figure
just emerging into the sunlight of the poop deck through the cabin

Captain Dabney was coatless, barelegged, bare-headed, all his white
hair blowing.  But he moved with the swiftness of a young man, and his
step was no blind man's step.  As soon as he reached the deck he spied
and snatched up the rifle that was leaning against the skylight--it was
Asoki's rifle, left behind when that worthy went to supervise Carew's
departure--and rushed to the rail.

Carew shook his fist and roared a curse at the wild figure that so
suddenly appeared at the poop rail.  Asoki was climbing the poop
ladder, come for his rifle or perhaps to take the Captain from behind.
There was a shot forward (it was Hardy, the Australian, with the rifle
taken from the hatch guard, Martin afterwards learned) and Asoki fell
backward, out of sight.  Then Captain Dabney drew down his bead, and
his rifle barked--and Carew's cap flew from his head.

Carew did a thing that drew a growl of rage and fear from two of the
watchers in the cave.  He ducked, seized Ruth and swung her in front of
him, covering his own body with hers.  And in response to his orders,
the sailor at the oars began to furiously pull towards the beach.

Martin never remembered much about that second, headlong passage of the
caves, when he and Little Billy, and the cowering Ichi, retraced their
path to the beach.  He was in a frenzy of rage and fear.  The hunchback
was weeping and cursing in the same breath.  Their prisoner howled
hysterically as they kicked him along the ledge by the chasm edge.
Martin could never afterwards figure out why they troubled with Ichi
when time was so precious; he had no further use for the Jap that he
knew of.  But they dragged the little wretch all the way to the beach.

Not quite to the beach.  Little Billy, in the lead, guided them into
another passage, and instead of emerging through the Elephant Head,
they found themselves in the great open-mouthed chamber where Billy had
hidden before.

The beach lay revealed before them.  Thirty yards distant, at the
water's edge, the oarsman was beaching the dingey.  Carew and Ruth were
already halfway up the beach; he was literally almost dragging the girl
over the sand, for she was struggling in his grasp.  He was making for
the Elephant Head.

"Ichi!  Where are you?  Lend a hand here!" Carew shouted.  "You
white-livered sneak--send a man out here if you are afraid!"

"Answer him!" Martin urged Ichi.  "Tell him, 'This way!'"

Ichi stuttered, and hesitated.  He was evidently less anxious to face
Carew than was Martin.

Out on board the brig, the battle apparently was over, with victory for
Martin's side.  For Martin saw one of the _Cohasset's_ boats swinging
out in the davits, and heard the bosun's stentorian bellow as he
encouraged the launching.  On the poop still stood Captain Dabney, his
rifle trained shorewards.  Even as Martin looked, the rifle cracked,
and the sand spurted about the feet of the Jap sailor by the dingey.

The closeness of the miss seemed to rattle the man, to take his wits
and lend wings to his feet.  He had been landing the gear of the boat;
he now dropped his task and sped for the caves.  He would have been
quite safe had he fallen in behind his captain and unwilling companion,
for they would not have ventured a shot from the ship with Ruth in line
of fire.  But he attempted to speed by Carew and gain the--as he
thought--comparatively safety of the caves.

"Help me here--hey, you--stop!" commanded Carew, as the man dashed
past.  "Damn you then--take, that!"  And he threw down with the pistol
he was brandishing, and shot the sailor in the back.  The fellow
pitched forward on his knees, and then fell face down on the sand.

In the cavern where the trio lurked, Ichi suddenly yelped as Little
Billy pressed the point of his knife a half inch into the yellow hide.
"Call to him," he commanded.

Ichi screamed it.  "This way!  This way, Captain!"

"Where?  Show yourself!  Give me a hand, here!" roared Carew.

Martin thrust Ichi half out of the cave, and, when Carew glimpsed him,
jerked him back again.  Swearing vilely, Carew changed his course, and
began to draw Ruth towards the open-mouthed cave.

He had his hands full with the girl.  His hand, rather, for he held her
with one arm, leaving his other, his weapon arm, free.  She was
struggling furiously to break free from his grasp, wriggling, kicking,
clawing, using all of her vigorous strength against him.  Almost she
succeeded.  Then he had recourse to brute tactics to subdue her.

"Curse you, come along!" he exclaimed, and struck her heavy blows in
the face with the fist that held the revolver.  She sagged limply in
his arm.

Something seemed to snap in Martin's mind at this sight.  Gone was his
caution, forgotten his plan.  With a hoarse, wordless cry, he cleared
the cave entrance with a bound, and threw himself forward towards his

Carew was still a score of paces distant from the cave mouth.  But so
startled was he by the sudden appearance of the charging, hostile
figure, that Martin had covered half the intervening distance ere Wild
Bob's sagging mouth closed.  But by then Carew had recognized the
oncomer, and realized his danger.  He took snap aim with his weapon,
and fired point blank at Martin.

The bullet seared Martin's cheek.  Behind him, Little Billy, just
emerging from the cave in Martin's wake, stopped short in his tracks,
clutched at his poor, disfigured breast, and sank slowly to the ground.

Before Carew could shoot again, Ruth reached up her hands and clawed
his face.  Screaming a curse, Carew threw her from him and staggered
back a step.

But Martin was closed with him now.  He had Carew's wrist, wrenching
it, and the weapon dropped to the sand.  He had Carew's throat in his
clutch.  He was pressing, pressing, forcing the man back.

It was the very fury of his headlong, unreasoned assault that gave
Martin initial victory.  He was not as large as Carew, nor as strong.
But at the moment he had the strength of three men in his body.  He was
berserk.  He had no craft in his fighting; only blind rage and the
strength it gave him.  His hands were at the throat of the most hateful
thing in the world--the man who had harmed loved ones, the man who
tried to steal his woman.

Carew's fists battered at Martin's unguarded face.  Martin did not even
feel these blows.  He squeezed and squeezed that cursed neck.  Carew
gave ground.  He bent backwards.  His glaring eyes were popping; his
mouth was open.  He was down.

And then something happened to Martin.  He was conscious of pain, of
sudden, paralyzing pain that pervaded his whole body.  The strength
left his fingers; he felt his entire body giving way, slumping weakly.

Now he was on his back, and fingers were at his throat.  Carew's face
loomed above him, red, contorted, the lips curled into a fiendish
snarl, an insane murderous light in his eyes.  Martin was choking; a
tremendous weight was on his chest.  In Carew's hand was a knife
descending.  Above the ringing in his ears, Martin heard Carew's voice
saying, "You shall not have her!"

A sudden roar filled his ears.  The weight on his chest jerked
suddenly; the knife fell from the up-raised hand, the fingers loosened
on his throat.  He saw Carew's eyes blinking rapidly, and an expression
of stupid surprise succeeded the triumphant ferocity in the man's face.
And then Carew rolled off him altogether, and lay quiet on the ground
by his side.

Dazed, Martin raised himself on his elbow.  He saw the skirt, and then
the smoking revolver clutched in the little hand, and, his eyes leaping
upwards, Ruth's frightened face and wide open, horrified eyes.  The
pain still gripped him, but he tried to get up, and he held out his
arms to her.



"Aye, it was the knee he give you, lad.  'Ow was an innercent babe like
you to know about foul tricks o' fighting?  But 'twas a close shave you
'ad, a blinkin' close shave, swiggle me stiff, it was!  If it 'adn't
been for the lass grabbin' up 'is gun and potting the blighter--well,
it's a lucky lad you are, Martin, with a double treasure won, and but
sore muscles to pay."  The bosun shifted his quid and spat over the
rail into the racing sea.  "Aye, the lass," he mumbled.  "A lucky lad,
that's wot."

"I know I am," answered Martin, humbly.  "Oh, so lucky.  If only poor
Billy had had some of my luck."

"'E was feyed, Martin," declared the bosun.  "I knew from the moment
you told me wot Sails as 'ow I'd never clasp Little Billy's 'and again,
and 'im alive and cheery.  Poor Billy!  'E was my mate, my chum, and
I'd give my share o' the swag ten times over just to 'ear 'im cuss me
out again."

They took a turn or two on the deck in sorrowful silence, Martin
limping somewhat painfully, and the big man accommodating his stride to
the other's progress.  The brig was running before the wind, over a
sun-sparkled, white capped sea; every rag she owned was spread, and the
breeze snored aloft like an organ.  The bosun paused at the poop break,
snorted into his large red handkerchief, and pretended to inspect the
drawing of the mainsail.  Then, his emotion conquered, he resumed the

"We left foul weather be'ind us in that black Devil's 'ole," he
commented.  "Now it's fair winds and bright skies.  Ow, well, swiggle
me stiff, wot's done is done and can't be undone, as Sails would 'ave
said.  'Tis fine weather for you, eh, lad--and you standin' the
moonlight watches with the lass by your side?  Another day o' this, and
we'll be landin' those five yellow imps we got in the hold on their own
bloomin' coast, and then it's 'urrah for 'ome and the splicin' party,
eh, lad?"

Martin smiled happily.

"I don't mind landin' the four 'foremast 'ands, and lettin' them off
scott free except for their cuts and bumps," grumbled the bosun.  "They
didn't 'ave no 'and in the plannin' of it.  But to land that feller,
Ichi--swiggle me stiff, if I 'ad my way, I land that blighter in the
air, below the tops'l yardarm, with a bloomin' noose around 'is neck!
Why, 'e was the ruddy bird wot started the business!"

"But I promised him his life," said Martin.  "And--my God, Bosun,
hasn't there been enough death on this ship?"

"Well, anyway, that feller, Ichi, is lucky 'e wasn't on board when we
'ad the grand fight," vowed the Bosun.  "I was looking for 'im; I 'ad
'im marked for my meat.  Swiggle me, 'e'd 'ave gone over the side if I
got my 'ands on 'im that mornin'.  Aye, and Yip was layin' for 'im,

"How Yip hated them," mused Martin.

"Aye, that 'e did," agreed the bosun.  "But 'e was a slick one, was
Yip.  'Oo but 'im would of thought o' dopin' their grub?  And the
'olesale way 'e did it--mixin' a pint bottle o' cockroach killer in
with their rice.  A white man wouldn't 'ave been able to do that.  But
it give Yip his chance, when they got the bellyache, to skip for'ard
and lay out the 'atch guard with his cleaver.  My blinkin' heye, when I
come up after 'e opened the 'atch, there 'e was with that Jap's neck
across the 'atch combin', and 'e was 'ackin' away and yellin' like a
wild Indian.  Aye, and 'e'd 'ave 'acked some more o' them, if that shot
that was aimed at me 'adn't took 'im through the 'ead.  Swiggle me,
Marty, I wouldn't 'ave been able to eat 'is grub after that."

"Nor I," agreed Martin.  "Well, Bos, I think I'll take a turn below."

"Aye, I 'eard the lass' voice through the skylight, a moment since,"
observed the bosun, slyly.  "Swiggle me--get along with ye, lad!"  He
gave Martin a gentle nudge with his giant's elbow that nearly knocked
him down the hatch.

She was in the cabin, when Martin descended the stairs.  She welcomed
him with a glance that more than repaid him for the bosun's thump; aye,
that repaid him (he would have sworn) for all the pain and misery he
had ever suffered.

She was standing by her grandfather's side, and the latter was seated
at the cabin table, a mess of papers before him.

"Well, my boy, I've just been figuring out our fortune," he hailed
Martin.  "It's plenty; more than plenty.  Something not much short of a
million, as prices for ambergris were quoted when we left San
Francisco.  Not such a bad little treasure, eh?"

"We have paid a stiff price for it," answered Martin, soberly.

A shade crossed the captain's serene old face.  "That we have," he
assented.  "Too great a price.  Gladly I'd give it all, and more, to
get my men back again.  To have--Little Billy--"  He heaved a deep
sigh, and smiled again.  "Ah, and that is not all," he said, patting
Ruth's hand, which lay on his shoulder, "for it seems I must lose my
girl, as well.  Even the thought of walking in on that doctor who told
me I would never see again hardly reconciles me to the thought of
losing my girl."

"What nonsense!" exclaimed Ruth.  "Why, grand-daddy, you don't lose me.
You gain--a son."

Captain Dabney's bright, clear eyes searched Martin's face, and when he
replied to Ruth it was in a contented, satisfied voice:

"Yes, I do," he said.  "And a worthy son, girl, tried and tempered, by
Fire Mountain."


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