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FRITZ TO THE FRONT;

Or, The Ventriloquist Scamp-Hunter.

by

EDWARD L. WHEELER,

Author of "Fritz, the Bound-Boy Detective," "Deadwood
Dick" Novels, "Rosebud Rob" Novels, etc.



Copyright, 1881, by Beadle & Adams.

The Arthur Westbrook Company
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.


[Illustration: FRITZ BEHELD AN OBJECT WHICH CAUSED HIM TO UTTER A
GRUNT OF STARTLED ALARM]



Table of Contents

   MADGE.                        CHAPTER I
   THE STRANGE MARRIAGE.         CHAPTER II.
   THE BLUFF HOUSE.              CHAPTER III.
   THE GHASTLY RELIC.            CHAPTER IV.
   BILL BUDGE'S CONVERSATION.    CHAPTER V.
   ON THE SCENT.                 CHAPTER VI.
   THE STRUGGLE.                 CHAPTER VII.
   ADRIFT.                       CHAPTER VIII.
   FRITZ'S DISCOVERY.            CHAPTER IX.
   A DIVE FOR LIFE.              CHAPTER X.
   A FATHER'S BRUTALITY.         CHAPTER XI.
   A PITIFUL END.                CHAPTER XII.
   CONCLUSION.                   CHAPTER XIII.



FRITZ TO THE FRONT.



CHAPTER I

MADGE.


One bright, hot August morning a cheap excursion was advertised to
leave South Street wharf, Philadelphia, for Atlantic City--that lively
little city by the sea, which is so fast growing in size and
popularity as to rival the more noted of the Atlantic coast summer
resorts. A cheap excursion which is within the means of the working
class is ever a success, and this one was no exception; it gave the
masses a chance to escape from the overheated city for a small sum,
and they grasped at it eagerly.

Bright and early the ferry-boat was crowded and still there was no
cessation of the stream of humanity that surged toward the river
front. There were representatives of every trade in the city, nearly,
and likewise a mixture of several nationalities; there were young
folks and old folks and little children; then there were roughs,
bruisers, and bummers, an indispensable adjunct to summer excursions;
and, all in all, a heterogeneous collection of humanity.

Just as the hot August sun peeped up over Jersey's sandy horizon, the
bell of the boat rung, and the huge ferry-boat began to move out
across the Delaware, toward Kaighn's Point, where connection was to be
made with the railway.

It was a noisy crowd aboard the boat, there being a good many roughs
among the pleasure-seekers, who were more or less under the effect of
Dock Street "soothing syrup," and who were disposed to have something
to say to every one.

Among the passengers was a young lady of eighteen or nineteen years of
age, who sat in the stern of the boat, seeming to have no friends or
acquaintances.

She was by no means unprepossessing in face, and was trimly built, and
dressed rather stylishly, compared to the others of her sex aboard the
boat.

It was not long before several of the roughs noted the fact that she
was unaccompanied, and determined to know the reason why.

Therefore, one lubberly, raw-boned young bruiser, with a freckled
face, blood-shot eyes, and a large, red nose, approached her and
tipped his hat with tipsy gallantry:

"'Scuse me, young lady, but (hic) may I ask ef yer got (hic) company?"
he asked.

"Plenty of it, sir," the young lady replied, her eyes flashing. "I do
not know you; you'd confer a favor by not addressing me."

"I'll do as I please, my gal; don't ye sass yer cuzzin. Don't ye know
me? I'm a 'full moon' solid Mulligan Muldoon, I am."

Greatly annoyed, the young woman turned her head away without
answering.

This, however, did not abash the "full moon," for he advanced closer,
and laid one burly hand upon the railing beside her.

"Now, (hic) see here, my beloved Miss Moriarty," he began, but before
he could proceed further, a foppishly attired young Jew, with red hair
and a hooked nose, stepped forward and slapped the Fourth Ward man on
the shoulder.

"Yoost you bounce oud, mine friend," he said. "Der young lady don'd
vas vant some off your attention."

"Hello! who in blazes are you?" Muldoon demanded, gruffly, not
offering to move. "I are Muldoon, ther solid man, I am, an' I allow I
kin lick any man on (hic) ther boat."

"That don'd make any difference. Dot young lady don'd vant you near
her, und uff you don'd vas gone away, right off quick, I'll throw you
oud--dot's der style off an excursionist I am!" cried the Jew.

"Oho! you wull, wull you? You'll throw me out, hey?--me Full-moon
Muldoon, ther solid man? I'll hev a kiss from the girl an' then I'll
heave yer Israelite carcass overboard for the fishes."

And, making a drunken lunge forward, he threw his arms about the young
lady's neck, amid indignant cries of a crowd of bystanders, and
attempted to kiss her.

But he failed in his purpose, for she pluckily threw him off, and the
next instant the Jewish-looking young man came to her rescue.

Seizing the rough by the coat and trousers he jerked him away; then
with the strength of a Hercules, raised him from the floor and hurled
him forward down the cabin stairway to the lower deck.

A cheer of approval at once went up from the larger share of the
spectators, and the Dutchman became the hero of the hour.

Some of Muldoon's companions rushed to his rescue and found him
doubled up like a jack-knife, and groaning over severe bumps.

His rough usage, however, had evidently cowed him, for he made no
attempt to show fight or create further disturbance.

The young lady thanked the Jew, but that was all, until the boat
grated up alongside Kaighn's Point wharf, when she caught his eye and
motioned for him to approach.

"If you will be so kind as to assist me in finding a seat in the
train," she said, modestly, "I would esteem it a great favor."

"Vel, you bet I vil! Id is a purdy rough crowd for a young lady
withoud some company. My name ish Fritz Snyder; vot ish yours?"

"You may call me Madge," was the quiet reply.

Then Fritz took her little traveling-bag, and they left the boat with
the crowd, and boarded the excursion-train which was close at hand.

Being among the first to reach it, they had no difficulty in finding a
seat, and made haste to occupy it, as the cars were fast filling.

"I reckon ash how you vas goin' to der sea-shore?" Fritz asked, having
some curiosity to know.

"I presume so, if the cars take me there," the young lady replied,
with a faint smile. "Is it a nice place?"

"Vel, I don'd know. I vas neffer there, but I hear id vas a nice
place. You see, I vas goin' there on pizness--I--I--don'd know off I
stay long or not."

Little more was said during the overland trip to the ocean.

The young woman did not appear inclined to talk, and Fritz finally
excused himself, and moved to another seat.

"Der ish somedings vot don'd vas right apoud dot vimmens," he
soliloquized. "She ish not goin' to der sea-shore for vone object
alone, I'll bet a half-dollar."

Just ahead of him, in the next seat, sat two old ladies, who were
discussing that topic uppermost in their minds--spiritualism. One was
a believer--the other an unbeliever.

"Pooh! you can't stuff such nonsense into my head, Marier," the
unbeliever declared, taking a pinch of snuff. "Speerits don't trouble
me."

"But, that is because you have no faith, Mehitable. Now, my Sammy's
speerit converses with me, every day and night, and keeps me posted
about the realms of eternal bliss, and when I ax him to appear, he
comes before me as natural as life."

"Has he got that wart behind his left ear yet?" apparently asked a man
in front of the ladies, though Ventriloquist Fritz was of course the
author of the question.

"Sir-r-rh!" the spiritualist cried, indignantly, "I'll have you know
my Samuel had no wart upon his person!"

"But he had bunions, though!" a portly old gent across the aisle
seemed to declare.

"It's a lie--a shameful lie! I'd like to know how you dare cast your
insinuations about one you never knew, sir?" and Mrs. Marier arose in
her seat, excitedly. "My husband was a good moral gentleman."

"For the land's sake, Marier, do set down," the other woman cried,
feeling embarrassed.

"No I won't set down!" Marier declared. "That old bald-headed, pussy
fabricator said my Sammy had bunions!"

"My good woman, I never said anything of the kind," the portly party
declared, getting red in the face.

"The old woman's crazy!" another man seemed to cry.

"Crazy, am I?" Mrs. Marier cried, snatching up a freshly baked pumpkin
pie from the seat beside her, and holding it ready to hurl at the
offenders. "I'll show you if I'm crazy. Jest ye open yer mouths, ary
one of ye, an' I'll show ye how crazy I am! Oh! I'll learn ye to
insult a respectable woman, who minds her own business!"

And the woman came off victor, for Fritz ventriloquized no further,
and the passengers had nothing to say, having no desire to get
plastered up with freshly prepared pumpkin pie.

In the course of three hours the train arrived at Atlantic City, and
before the ocean's blue expanse, as it billowed away to meet the
horizon.

The grand stretch of level beach was thronged with people, despite the
pouring heat of the midday sun, and many queerly costumed
pleasure-seekers were buffeting about in the water for recreation and
health.

Fritz was among the first to leave the cars, and he stationed himself
where he could watch the movements of the girl, Madge.

Some subtle instinct prompted him to do this, with the impression that
she was--what?

That was an enigma. He could not, for the life of him, have told why,
but he was impressed with an idea that there was some strange romance
connected with her visit to the sea-shore--that she did not come alone
for pleasure, but for an object that might be worth investigating.

She left the cars, and at once took a carriage for the principal
hotel.

Not to be balked, Fritz jumped into another carriage, and directed the
driver to take him to the same hotel.

His conveyance arrived first, and he was standing on the veranda, when
the carriage drove up with Madge, and she got out.

She scarcely noticed him as she came up the steps and passed into the
hotel; but, after she had registered, she came out, and touched him on
the arm.

"You are watching me--what for?" she asked, when he turned around
facing her. "Am I an object of suspicion to you, sir?"

Fritz flushed uncomfortably, and hardly knew how to answer.

"Vel, I--I--"

"There! don't make any apologies or excuses; I know you are, and shall
look out for you. Please understand I am no criminal!"

Then she turned around again, and swept haughtily into the hotel,
while Fritz walked away toward the beach in meditation.

"She vas sharper ash lightning," he mused, "und dot makes me t'ink
some more dot for some reason or odder she vil bear watching."

He took a bath in the ocean, and then went back to the hotel. He was
not quite satisfied to drop the matter where it was. Something urged
him to pry further into the affairs of this young lady, whose case had
struck him as being singular.

On examining the register, he found that she was registered as Miss
Madge Thurston, and assigned room 43.

As nothing more offered, he sat down on the veranda, and watched the
stream of people that surged in and out of the hotel, and to and from
the beach--men, women, and children by the hundred, and yet there
were scarcely two faces alike.

During the afternoon an elegant close carriage, drawn by a superbly
harnessed pair of high-stepping bays, which were in turn driven by a
liveried negro, came dashing down the avenue, and drew up before the
Brighton.

A man of some thirty-five years of age leaped from the carriage, and
entered the hotel--a man with a sinister yet handsome face, ornamented
with a sweeping mustache, and a pair of sharp, black eyes. He was
attired in spotless white duck, with patent-leather boots, and a white
"plug" hat, and was evidently a person of some importance!

He soon came out of the hotel, accompanied by the young woman Fritz
had defended, and entering the carriage, they were whirled away down
the avenue out of sight.

"Dot settles dot! My game's gone und I don'd got some professional
detective gase, there," Fritz growled, as he watched the receding
carriage. "I'll bet a half-dollar I neffer see dem again."

But he was mistaken.

That evening when the moon was sending a flood of brilliant light down
upon the long level beach, he was one of a thousand who took a stroll
along the water's edge, over the damp sands of the sea.

He was thus engaged, and watching the great luminous moon which seemed
to have risen out of the distant watery waste, when a man touched him
upon the shoulder.

"Excuse me," he said, respectfully, "but are you Fritz, the young man
who took a young lady's part, on a ferry-boat near Philadelphia,
to-day?"

"Vel, I dink I am, uff I recomember right. Vot of it?" Fritz replied.

"Well, sir, you are wanted to bear witness to a marriage ceremony,
to-night, up the coast, and I was sent for you. Step this way, to the
carriage, sir."

Scarcely knowing what was best to do, Fritz followed, got into an open
carriage, and was driven rapidly north along the beach, through the
romantic moonshine.

But, how romantic was his little adventure destined to turn out? That
was what he asked himself, as he gazed doubtfully out upon the
greenish blue of mother ocean.



CHAPTER II.

THE STRANGE MARRIAGE.


In the course of little over an hour, the carriage stopped at the
inlet, where Fritz was told to get out and take a small boat and row
across the water to the other shore, where he would find another
carriage to complete his journey in.

He accordingly did as directed, and had soon crossed the inlet, found
the second carriage, and was once more rolling northward, along the
sandy beach.

It seemed hours to him ere his conductor drew rein in front of a
jutting bluff which interrupted their further progress along the
beach, from the fact that it reached to the water's edge; for another
hour he followed the driver, a grim, uncommunicative fisherman, on
foot up a jagged path, which finally led into a lonely ocean cave
which the high tides of many centuries had washed out to about the
size of an ordinary room. A torch thrust in a crevice in the rocky
wall, lit up the scene in rather a ghostly way.

About in the center of the cave stood three parties--Madge, a
clerical-looking party, and another well-dressed man, with black hair
and full beard.

He stepped forward as Fritz and the fisherman entered the cave, and
said:

"Ah! I am glad you have come. Was fearing that you would not
accommodate us, sir."

"Vel, I didn't vas know vedder to come or not," Fritz answered, "but
ash I am here, vot you want off me?"

"I will tell you. The young lady yonder and myself are about to be
married, and, to make things legal, we prefer to have a couple of
witnesses to the ceremony. You will only be required to attach your
signature to the marriage certificate, and will then be taken back to
Atlantic City."

"Vel, off dot ish all, go ahead mit der pizness," Fritz said, perching
himself on a rock. "I don'd know off id is a legal dransaction or not,
but I'll do vot ish right by der lady."

"Then let's have the ceremony," the prospective bridegroom said. "Are
you ready, Madge?"

"Quite ready," the young lady replied, smilingly.

Then they clasped hands, and the aged clerical-looking gentleman read
a marriage-service, asked the usual questions, and pronounced them man
and wife.

The parties to the consummation were announced as Miss Madge Thurston
and Major Paul Atkins.

At the conclusion of the ceremony the clergyman filled out a
certificate, signed it himself, and then requested Fritz to come
forward and do likewise, and also the old fisherman.

His request being obeyed, Major Atkins said:

"Your favor is duly appreciated, Mr. Snyder, and, if an opportunity
offers, I shall be happy to be of service to you. You may now return
to town in the manner you came."

Accordingly, Fritz did so, not a little puzzled at his adventure and
the strange wedding in the coast cave.

Day was just beginning to lighten the eastern horizon when he arrived
back at Atlantic City, and went to his room for a nap.

But he found that sleep would not come to his relief, and so he was
among the early fashionable bathers at the beach.

After a good, refreshing bath he went back to the Brighton and took a
seat on the veranda.

He had not been seated long when a rapidly driven carriage whirled up
before the hotel, and an elderly, portly man leaped out and hurried
into the hotel, his face flushed with excitement.

He was well-dressed, wore a little bunch of gray side-whiskers on
either cheek, and was evidently all of sixty years of age.

Fritz surveyed him closely with the short glimpse he got of him, and
then scratched his head as if in quest of an idea.

"I'll bet a half-dollar I see into der whole pizness now," he
muttered, with a chuckle. "Id vas plainer ash mud to me. Dot couple
vot got married vas elopers mit each odder, und dis pe der old man on
der war-path after 'em, madder ash a hornet. Der next t'ing is, who
vas der bully veller, vot ish honest und haff der rocks to support dot
virtue?"

After a few minutes the old gentleman came out of the hotel, and stood
looking out upon the ocean, with rather a savage expression of
countenance--and his was a face that could be very stern, when
occasion required it.

"I don'd know vedder I better poke mine nose inder dis pizness, or
not," Fritz muttered, taking a second survey of him. "He looks like
ash if he might swaller a veller off he got mad, und I don'd vas care
apoud imitadin' Jonah."

As if interpreting his thoughts, the old gent turned rather gruffly,
and took a searching glance at the young man.

"Well?" he said, "I suppose I look as if I wanted to cut some one's
throat, don't I?"

Fritz laughed lightly.

"Vel, I vas t'inking somedings like dot," he admitted.

"I thought so. I ain't a fool; I know when I am mad, I _look_ mad. Do
you know of any party around here who's particularly anxious to end
his career, and ain't got the grit to do the job?--I would like to
operate on such a chap."

"You feels like ash off you could pulverize some one, eh?"

"Humph! I'll contract to lay out the first man that durst look
cross-eyed at me. I'm mad, I am--mad as thunder, and I come from
Leadville, too, where they raise thunder occasionally. Bah! I wish
some one would step up and kick me!"

"Well, I'm your man, if you really want a _bona fide_ job
done!" Fritz caused a pompous-looking man to say, who stood
near--ventriloquially, of course. "I'm the champion patent kicker from
Kalamazoo!"

The old gent from Leadville turned and gazed at the pompous-looking
man a moment, his dander rising several degrees.

"Oh! so you're anxious to kick me, are you, my Christian friend? You
want to kick me, do you?" he ejaculated.

"Who has said anything about kicking you, sir?" the pompous party
demanded, in haughty surprise. "You'd evidently better go to bed and
sleep off your 'cups,' my friend."

"I haven't drank a drop, sir, in ten years. And for you to deny
expressing a desire to boot me, sir--why, man, I heard you!"

"You are a liar, sir; I said nothing of the kind. Besides, I am not in
the habit of picking quarrels with strangers."

And with a shrug, the pompous man turned on his heel, and walked off,
indignantly.

Leadville's angered delegate gazed after him a moment, with
unutterable contempt--then turned to Fritz:

"Poor fool. He's no sand, or he'd not cut and run, after calling a man
a liar. Up in Leadville things are supremely different, but here
alas! is a lack of back-bone. I say, young fellow, have you ever
cherished dreams of becoming rich?--a man of millions, as it were?"

"Vel, I don'd know but I haff some off dose anxiety to get rich, vonce
in a vile," Fritz admitted.

"Well, sir, I can tell you just how you can do it the easiest, if you
will stroll upon the beach with me."

Accordingly Fritz arose, and sauntered down to the beach with this
eccentric Leadvillian, whoever he might prove to be.

"Now, I suppose you'd like to know what I'm mad at," the old gent
began, pushing his gold-headed cane into the sand, as they strolled
along. "Well, before I tell you, I want to know who you are, and what
your business is?"

"My name vos Fritz Snyder, und I vas vot you might call a
detective--or, dot is, I vas trying my luck at der pizness."

"Indeed? Then perhaps it is well I have met you, for I have a case,
and if you can win that case, you can also win five thousand dollars.
How does that strike you?"

"It hits me right vere I liff, ven I ish at home," Fritz grinned.
"Yoost you give me der p'ints, und I'm your bologna, you can bet a
half-dollar on dot five t'ousand-dollar job. Vot's der lay--suicides,
murder, sdole somedings, or run avay mit anodder vife's veller?"

"Neither. A girl has run away from her home, and is wanted--five
thousand dollars' worth. She is my daughter, and is a somnambulist,
and consequently of unsound mind, at times. She frequently goes into a
trance, and remains thus for weeks at a time, eating and drinking
naturally enough, but knowing nothing what she has been doing, when
she awakens--though to outward appearance, she is awake, when in this
trance, but not in her right mind. I have consulted eminent
physicians, but they pronounce her case incurable, and say she will
some day die in one of these trances."

Here the man from Leadville grew pathetic in his story, and wiped a
tear from his eye; but finally went on:

"Well, as you may imagine, I have had a deal of trouble with her, for
in her state of trance she has often robbed me of sums of money. And
wandered off, too, sometimes; but this last blow has been the most
severe. It came to my knowledge that she had become the prey of an
unprincipled Eastern rascal. He had met her during her somnambulistic
wanderings, and prejudiced her against me, and caused her to rob not
only me but others, and surrender the stolen booty to him. On learning
this, myself and neighbors formed into a vigilance committee to hunt
the rascal down, but he took to his heels, and fled Eastward. A few
days later, my poor child turned up missing, and with her the sum of
twenty thousand dollars, which had been paid me from the sale of a
mine, and which I had lodged in my safe for safe keeping until I could
deposit it, the next day!"

"Twenty t'ousand--so much ash dot?"

"Yes--a big sum, and likewise nearly all the money I then possessed. I
immediately took up the trail, but egad! 'twas no use. The girl is
sharper than lightning, and eluded me at every turn. I found that her
destination was Eastward--doubtless to join her evil genius--and so I
telegraphed to Chicago and St. Louis for the detectives to look out,
and intercept her, if possible. But all to no avail. She was seen in
those places, but owing to some irregularity beyond my comprehension,
was not captured. When I arrived in Chicago, I found that she had two
days before left the city, Eastward bound. I trailed her to
Philadelphia, and there lost all track of her. Thinking quite likely
she would come to this summer resort, I came on, to-day, in hopes of
striking the trail, but all to no avail. I have as yet heard of no
clew to her whereabouts."

"Vel, dot ish purdy bad," Fritz assented. "Vot ish your name?"

"My name is Thornton--I am a mining speculator from Leadville,
Colorado."

"Und your daughter's name vos--?"

"Madge. She is a pretty young maiden, aged eighteen, and left her home
very well dressed."

"Und der feller vot vas pocketing der money--vot vos his name?"

"It is hard to guess what his true name was. At Leadville he was
called Pirate Johnson--at Pueblo he was known as Griffith Gregg."

"Gregg--Gregg?" Fritz said, meditatively. "I am on the look-out for a
man by that name. But my man is a smuggler."

"This villain may be connected with any nefarious piece of rascality.
If I only had him here one or the other of us would get laid out--that
is as good as sworn to. God only knows what perils my poor child will
pass through before I succeed in finding her, if I ever do."

"Vel, I reckon ve can find her, uff der ish such a t'ing in der
dictionary," Fritz asserted.

He then went on to relate the particulars of his assisting the lady on
the boat, and of the marriage in the cave, which excited Mr. Thornton
greatly.

"By Heaven! I see through it all! Madge Thurston is no more or less
than my daughter, and she has wedded this rascal, Atkins, who is one
and the same person who was the Gregg or Johnson out West. God forbid
that my child is married to such a wretch. Describe him."

Fritz obeyed, giving a description according as he remembered the
bridegroom--also of the man who took Madge Thurston from the hotel.

"The latter was undoubtedly Gregg," the speculator declared, "and the
other also, was, it is likely, disguised for the occasion, with a
false beard. Now, Fritz, I want you to help me find my child, and
break the neck of this rascal, and you shall have for reward the sum I
promised you. We'll search this world high and dry but what we'll
recover my child. Come, let's seek a conveyance to take us to the
cave."

They accordingly went back to the Hotel Brighton, ate dinner, and
afterward secured a carriage and set out for the scene of the strange
wedding the night before.

And thus Fritz entered into a five-thousand-dollar chase, which was
destined to lead him into more adventures than he had yet
experienced.



CHAPTER III.

THE BLUFF HOUSE.


In due time they arrived at the cave, where the ceremony of the
previous night had taken place, but a thorough search of the cavernous
wash-out failed to yield any tidings of the romantic lovers.

"Pshaw! there's no use of further search in this direction; they have
long ere this set out for some other portion of the country, and we
are wasting time in tarrying here."

"Mebbe dot ish so, but I dink dey vas go on up der coast, instead off
cum pack by Atlantic City."

"Not impossible. In that case, it will be our best lead to go back to
Atlantic, take the cars to Philadelphia, and strike for some sea-coast
point ahead of them."

"Dot vould pe a purty good idea vor you, but I t'ink better I remain
on der coast stardting vrom here, und follow der trail in der rear.
I'll bet a half-dollar I find 'em first, afore you do."

"Very well. It shall be as you deem best. I will leave you here and
join you, or rather be there to meet you, when you reach Long Branch.
If nothing results in our favor by that time I'll decide what is the
next best course to pursue. Here is a hundred dollars, toward
defraying your expenses. If you need more, telegraph to Jim Thornton
at the Chalfonte, Long Branch, and I'll remit."

And placing the sum of money in Fritz's possession, he soon after took
his departure.

After he had gone, Fritz sat down on a rock in the mouth of the cave,
which overlooked the ocean, and gazed thoughtfully out upon the sunlit
waters.

"Vel, here I vas--but der next question ish, vere vas I?" he
soliloquized. "I haff undertaken a job mitout any bases vor a
start-off. I kinder vish Rebecca vas here, too--but ash vishin' don'd
vas do some good, pizness is der next consideration."

Night was not far distant, but he resolved to continue on up the coast
in hopes of finding a fisherman's house, where he could obtain food
and lodging.

He accordingly left the cave and continued his journey. He soon came
to a level stretch of beach again, and followed its northward course
for a number of miles--until sunset, when he found himself as far from
any human habitation as he had in the start.

He accordingly sought a grassy spot, back from the beach, and lay down
to rest.

Arising early the next morning, he struck out once more on his
journey, feeling decidedly anxious to find some kind of a human
habitation, as he was very hungry.

He soon spied a farm-house, inland from the beach, and made for it in
double-quick time.

A gruff-looking man sat upon the front veranda, as he entered the
well-kept yard, and eyed him with an expression of suspicion.

"Well, what d'ye want, young man?" he demanded, sourly.

"Grub--somedings to eat," Fritz replied, spiritedly. "I vas hungry
like ash a sucker after a hard winter."

"Get out! I don't want no tramps about here. Clear, I say, or I'll set
the dog on you," the farmer growled, stamping on the veranda with his
cane.

"But, I don'd vas no tramp, nor I don'd vas skeardt at der dogs!"
Fritz replied. "I vants some preakfast, und ish able to pay vor id
like a shendleman."

"Go to a tavern, then. I don't keep no puttin'-up place."

"But I don'd find some tavern, und I ain'd going no furder ondil I get
somedings to eat. So trot oud der best vot you haff, und I pay for
'em."

"Didn't I tell you, you couldn't get something to eat here?" the man
cried, getting exasperated. Then he began whistling for the dog. "I'll
show you who runs this place."

"All right! Fetch oud der canine," Fritz grinned, perching himself on
the fence, and taking a pistol from his pocket. "I yoost ash leave
haff dog steak ash peef stew. Anydings to fill up ven a veller vas
hungry."

"What! how dare you, sir! I'll have you arrested for carrying
concealed weapons, you scamp!"

"Den I haff you arrested vor causing cannibalism, py not giffin' a
veller somedings to eat. Come, now, mister; yoost set oud der vittles
und der von't pe no droubles; otherwise, der may be an exposure off
somedings!"

The farmer started at Fritz's unmeaning declaration, and giving him a
swift, startled glance, arose and entered the house.

Fritz noticed what effect his thoughtless shot had had, and gave vent
to a low, peculiar whistle, denotive of surprise.

"Hello! vot ish dose I've done?" he mused. "I give der old chap a sour
grape, dot time, all of which proves dot he is 'fraid off der exposure
off somedings, und don'd vas got a clear conscience. Vel, dot ish
purdy goot, too. Von t'ing leads to anodder--mebbe I vil discover
somedings else. Anyhow, I'm going to stay right here undil I gets
somedings to eat, und I reckon der old man vil fetch or send id."

Nor was he wrong in his reckoning, for shortly afterward a plump and
pretty maid brought him out a tray of victuals that looked most
tempting.

There was bread and butter, cold meat, cake, pie, apples, and a bowl
of rich milk. No wonder Fritz's eyes sparkled with satisfaction, as he
sat down upon the carriage-block, and received the offering.

"I thank you more ash a t'ousand times," he said. "Der old man didn't
vas goin' to give me somedings, but I told him I would expose him, und
dot fixed him. Vot's der old crab's name, young lady?"

The girl stared.

"Mr. Sample, do you mean?" she asked, in surprise.

"Yes, I reckon dot's der one--der old vinegar-barrel vot yoost sot on
der veranda. So his name vas Sample, eh? If he vas a sample off der
neighbors around here, I dinks I stop no more. He vas got a segret,
don'd he?"

"How should I know, sir?"

"Oh! vel, I didn't know but you might haff heard somedings."

"If I had, I don't believe I should confess it to you," the maid
retorted. "When you get through eating leave the server on the block."

"But, hold on--you ain'd going?"

"Yes."

"But vait aw'ile! I say no. I vant to ask you some questions."

"What?"

"Vel, one t'ing--ish der a town somevere's near, on der coast?"

"Yes, several."

"Vot one is der nearest?"

"Forsyth Landing."

"Vot is der population?"

"Four people."

"Shimminy dunder! So mooch ash dot? Any old maids among der lot?"

"Nary a maid!"

"Vel, dot's all. Much obliged."

After she had departed, Fritz finished his meal, and then resumed his
tramp along the lonely beach.

Half an hour brought him to the landing, but he did not pause.

Two rough-looking old sea-dogs were lounging outside a sort of a hut,
but their appearance did not inspire Fritz with any desire to
cultivate their acquaintance.

About sunset he arrived at a far prettier spot than he had yet
encountered.

A great bluff of land rolled up to an abrupt and precipitous ending at
the ocean's edge.

In high tide it would be impossible to walk along the beach at the
base of the bluff, owing to the depth of water, while at low tide the
beach was quite bare.

The evening tide was rolling in close to the base of the cliff, when
Fritz reached it, and so he paused and took a reconnoissance.

Far up on the top of the bluff he saw a large, rambling, old house, in
a grove of trees, but whether it was deserted or not, he could not
tell.

It looked so grim in the weird sunset light, and so isolated in its
lone watch by the sea that one might easily have fancied it an abode
of spooks, and their like.

"I s'pect dot I'll haff to climb up und go around that bluff," Fritz
muttered, not at all liking the idea. "Uff a veller vas to try und
wade along der front, he'd like ash not get drowned, und dot vould pe
a duyfel off a fix. I wonder ef der folks who lif up yonder ar'
samples off dot Sample I met dis morning? Looks like ash uff it might
be a ghost factory."

He was considering what was best to do, when he felt a tap upon his
shoulder, and wheeled about with a nervous start.

Before him stood a ragged, frowsy-haired, bare-footed girl, some
sixteen or seventeen years of age--a girl with a well-rounded figure
of but medium stature, and a face at once peculiar and attractive,
from the sparkle of its eyes, the broad grin of its mouth, and the
amount of dirt gathered about it.

She had evidently but recently emerged from the water, for her long
black hair as well as her wet garments were dripping with drops which
the dying sunlight transformed into diamonds.

"Ha! ha! ha!" she laughed, putting her pretty arms akimbo, and staring
hard at Fritz. "Don't I look silly, though?"

"Vel, I don'd know apoud dot. I dink der abblication uff some water
mit your face vould make you look petter ash vot you are now!" Fritz
answered, somewhat puzzled.

"Water! ha! ha! I just came out of the water. But oh! I'm so
silly--that's what everybody says, and I guess it must be so; anyhow,
they call me Silly Sue. Was you ever silly, boss?"

"Vel, I don'd vas know so mooch apoud dot, vedder I vas or not," Fritz
replied, with a doubtful grin. "Do I look silly?"

"Oh! lordy! you are the silliest-looking goose I ever saw. I never saw
a Yankee but what he was silly."

"But I don'd vas be a Yankee!"

"Get out! Don't dispute me! I know just who and what you are. You are
Neptune, come up from the bottom of the sea."

"You lie like dunder!" Fritz retorted, backing up, and beginning to
get considerably alarmed, for he began to suspect that she was crazy.
"I vasn't no Neptune at all--no von but Fritz Snyder. Id's a vonder
you don'd call me Joner, vot swallered de valebone."

"Nop! you're Neptune. Do you see the house up yonder?"

"Vel, yes; vot off it?"

"Oh! that's a high old roost. Ghosts and skeletons perch up there
after dark and grin and rattle their bones at you. They don't do it to
me, because I feed 'em snuff. Ha! ha! can you snuff the silly part of
that outrageous gag? Say, boss, where you going, ef it ain't askin'
too much?"

"Vel, I don'd know dot myself."

"Don't know where you're going?"

"No; I vas huntin' vor somebody."

"Oho! so am I! I was huntin' for some one, when I discovered
something, and they called me silly because I refused to tell what.
Well, good-day; swim over to England when you want to see me again."

Then, with a peal of elfish laughter, she ran and sprung into the
water, and swam around the base of the cliff out of sight.

"I'll pet a half-dollar dot gal vas drunk or crazy, von or der odder,
und der pest t'ing vor me to do is shlip avay vile I can!" Fritz
ejaculated.

To think was to act with him, and he accordingly set out clambering up
the steep side of the bluff.

In due time he reached the top and found a level spot of a couple of
acres extent, in the center of which the house was situated,
surrounded by sentinel rows of sighing hemlocks. A general aspect of
desolation was perceptible on every hand, showing the premises to be
untenanted.

The garden was grown up with rank weeds and the house weather-worn and
old, some of the shutters hanging by one hinge.

It was a large structure of many queer gables, wings and projections,
and fronted upon a road which had been used to communicate with some
thoroughfare further inland.

"Dot looks like ash uff it vas going to rain," Fritz muttered, gazing
at an ominous bank of clouds that was gathering in the west. "I dink
maybe I petter sday in der old house till morning, uff I und der
ghosts can agree. I don'd vas much affraid off ghosts, anyhow."

And he evidently was not, for he boldly entered the house by the
creaking front-door and closed the door behind him.

When the clouds had overspread the sky in an inky mass, and darkness
had set in around the gloomy edifice, two black-whiskered men came
along and stopped at the mansion.



CHAPTER IV.

THE GHASTLY RELIC.


Meantime Fritz had been in the old rookery some time prior to the
arrival of the bearded men.

No sooner had he entered the large hall, and closed the door behind
him, than he felt a sort of dread of something, he knew not what.
There was a damp, musty, deathly smell about the place that he did not
quite like.

"I don'd know vedder I vas afraid of ghosts or not," he soliloquized,
pausing and gazing around him. "It looks ash uff dis might be a blace
vere dey manufacture ghost shows; but somebody has liffed here vonce
upon a time."

The carpet yet remained upon the floor of the long hall, and also upon
the staircase which led to the upper floor. There was also a large
picture hung upon the wall.

Passing along the hall, Fritz tried each of the doors which opened off
from it, but in each instance he found them locked, and was unable to
effect an entrance.

"Vel, dot looks like ash uff nopody vas to home," he muttered. "I'll
try der upstairs part, und if I don'd haff no better success, I vil
stay out mit der hall."

He accordingly ascended the hall staircase, and proceeded to take a
tour of the upper part of the rambling old structure.

Here the doors were all locked, with one exception, and this had
evidently been left as locked, the bolt being turned, but the door not
having been tightly closed, the bolt failed to enter the socket.

Opening this door, Fritz entered, and found himself in a large
furnished apartment, there being a carpet, old and moth-eaten, upon
the floor; several pieces of stuffed furniture, which had also been
victims of moth and worm, and a large round oaken table in the center
of the room.

And over this, suspended by a cord, which was fastened to the ceiling,
was an object which caused Fritz to utter a grunt of startled alarm.

It was a man's head, cut from the body at the throat, and held in
suspension by a cord fastened to the long hair.

The head had probably hung there for a year or so, for the flesh had
dried down upon the bones. The eyes, however, retained their glassy
stare, the teeth showed to ghastly advantage, and the heavy black
mustache and goatee bristled ferociously.

Fritz gave a startled cry, and his hair fairly raised on end, as he
beheld the strange spectacle, but the longer he stared at it, the less
his alarm, and he finally advanced into the room.

"By shimminy--I vas skeardt like ash der duyfel at first, put now I
don'd vas a bit afraid. Somepody hang dot up there yoost for a
scare-crow. Uff der ghosts vas to see it, I'll bet a half-dollar dey
vould run."

Just then there was a flash of lightning and a heavy roll of thunder,
which caused Fritz to start, and give a nervous glance at the swinging
head.

"I don'd quite vas like id here," he muttered, uneasily. "I'd makes a
veller t'ink he's goin' der get smashed up effery minute. I vonder vot
dey keep up there?" and his eyes rested upon an aperture in the
ceiling, such as is often provided in houses as a means of reaching
the roof. A stout rope hung down through this opening to the floor of
the room, and had evidently been used to climb up into the attic.

Fritz was just contemplating it, when a sound of footsteps in the hall
outside aroused him to quicker thoughts.

"I'll bet a half-dollar it's a ghost comin'," he gasped, the tendency
of his hair being again decidedly upward. "But, it was a cold day ven
dey scalb me mit der tommyhawk, ash long ash I can climb."

Accordingly, up the rope he went, hand-over-hand, with the agility of
a monkey, and soon gained the attic immediately above the chamber.

It was a dark, ill-smelling place, and so far as Fritz could see, used
for no particular purpose whatever.

Ensconcing himself directly beside the aperture through which he had
come up, Fritz prepared to await developments.

He was not a little anxious to know who the new-comer was--whether a
human or spiritual being, for if the latter, he had a curiosity to
inspect it.

In a few moments the door opened and a strapping Irishman stalked into
the chamber, a lank, lean specimen of humanity, with a Killkenny face,
red hair, a fringe of reddish beard under his lower jaw, extending to
his ears, and attired in brogans, short pantaloons, and a blue
soldier coat, with a grimy clay pipe in his mouth, and battered plug
hat on his head. Of the "rale old" race of Irishmen, he was certainly
a good specimen.

"Arrah! sure it's divil one room but they have locked, an' a sorry
place it is, too, for a dacent Irish gintlemon--an the son of a duke
at that! Bad 'cess to sich a counthry, onny-how. It's wurruk like the
divil for a bit of grub, and when a mon gits out ov wurruk sure
stomick has to pay for it. If yez ax a mon will he be afther givin'
yez a nip off bread, he tell yez, 'Arrah! off wid ye, ye murdtherin'
tromp, or I'll sick tha purrup on yez!' bedad."

"I'll yoost pet half-dollar der Irishman vas pin stoppin' mit
Samples!" Fritz muttered, with a grin, taking a peep at the son of
Erin. "He vas hungry like as vot I vas. Vonder off he haff discovered
der skelegon, yet avile."

The Hibernian had not, evidently, for he was perched composedly
beneath the suspended head.

"Sorry a place this is for the son of a duke," he went on muttering.
"Sure, it looks as if the ould divil himself had been here. Guess this
property would be sellin' moighty cheap, tha while. Ugh!" as a heavy
clap of thunder caused the house to shake from stem to stern, "a sorry
wild night it's a-goin' to be, an' it's meself that's wishin' I was
back forninst the furdther side av the big puddle."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Fritz, throwing his voice to the farther side of the
room.

"Yis, ha! ha! bad 'cess to the loikes av yez, whoever ye may be!" the
Irishman cried, fiercely, gazing in vain around the apartment, in
search of the author of the laugh.

"Ho! ho! itchy, dirdty Irish!" Fritz caused a different voice to say,
in a still opposite part of the room.

"No, I'm divil a wan av the likes!" the son of Erin cried, getting
angry. "Bad luck to yez! ef I gits me hands on yez, it's a divil's own
trouncin' you'll get, ontirely. I'll have yez know my name is Patrick
Grogan, an' it's the dacent, gintlemonly son av a duke and a duchess I
am, bedad."

"A son off a gun, more likely. Look out, you bloody Irish, or I vil
spit on you!" Fritz caused the suspended head to say, in a hoarse,
gurgling voice.

"Aha! it's spittin' on me yez'll be, eh?" the Hibernian cried, leaping
from his seat, his walking-stick in hand--a formidable piece of real
thorn. "Oh! you black-livered omadhaun, if I catch yez, _won't_ I
tache yez to be dacent and civil to a gintlemon!"

Then, chancing to glance upward, he saw for the first the swinging
head, and in utter horror dropped upon his knees and raised his hands
upward in supplication.

"Oh, holy Virgin Mary, protect me!" he howled, his terrified gaze
glued upon the unsightly object. "Oh, murdtherin Maria! och, bad luck!
fot have I done, Mr. Divil? shure it's nary a thing wrong I've did,
nor sthalin' I've never been guilty of!"

"You vas von son-off-a-sea-cook!" came from the head.

"Yis--och, sure I'se anything yez wants, Mr. Divil! only don't be
afther hurtin' the loikes av me!"

"Then arise, dirdty Irish, and climb into the attic, before the
spirits come to wrap their icy clutches around you!"

"Sure, I'll be afther goin'," Pat cried, and he did go--not up the
rope, but out of the room, as fast as he could go.

Nor did he pause until outside of the house, as Fritz could tell by
the sound of his rapidly retreating footsteps.

"Vel, dot vas purdy goot fun," Fritz muttered with a grin. "I dink I
vil vait dil some vone else comes."

He had not long to wait before footsteps sounded once more, coming up
the stairs, just as the storm broke loose outside, and torrents of
rain poured down upon the roof, while the thunder rumbled ominously.

Presently two men entered, one carrying a lantern, for it was now
quite dark.

Both were roughly dressed and brutal-looking fellows, wearing heavy
black beards.

"Humph!" was Fritz's mental comment, as he beheld them. "I'll bet a
half-dollar I smells von mice. Uff I haff not made a big mistake, I
dinks I haff stumbled right inder the smugglers' den vot I am looking
for."

It was only a sudden suspicion, to be sure; nevertheless it struck him
very forcibly.

One of the men set the lantern upon the table, and then perched
himself beside it, while the other sat down upon a chair and gazed
speculatively at the ghastly object which hung suspended from the
ceiling.

"I wonder how long afore the rest o' ther boys will be here," he
growled.

"Dunno," the other fellow replied. "Hope they'll come afore long and
settle the matter, so that we'll know what we've got to do."

"How d'ye think it's going?"

"Dunno. Reckon the majority'll be ag'in' the poor cuss."

"I'm thinkin' that way, too. I kinder hope not, though, for I don't
fancy the job."

"Pshaw! you're chicken-hearted, without cause. He's never made love to
you."

"Darn it, no; but he's too fine a specimen of manhood to feed to the
sharks."

"Pooh! Many's the one better'n he wot's enriched the bottom o' the
sea. I wonder who the Irishman was, we met at the front?"

"Some tramp, I allow, who'd sought a night's shelter here, and got
skeered at our friend Bill," and he glanced at the swinging head with
a laugh. "Hello! I say, Bill, how are you getting along in your new
place o' residence?"

"First-rate!" apparently answered the grinning head, followed by a
ghostly sort of a gurgling laugh.

"Jehosaphat!" cried the questioner, leaping to his feet. "Thunder and
lightning! Did ye hear that, Hand?"

"Waal, I should murmur," Hank grunted, leaving the table with a
spring, and landing near the door. "What the devil's the matter?"

"Cussed ef the cadaver o' Bill Budge didn't speak," the first man
cried.

"Git out! Budge has bin dead over a year; how in thunder could he
speak?"

"Mebbe his spirit hes come back inter his head."

"Pooh! impossible! It was our fancy; we didn't hear nothin'," Hank
growled, edging a little nearer to the door.

"You're a liar!" thundered a voice, seeming to come directly from
between the pearly teeth of the suspended head, and to make matters
worse, the head began to swing slowly to and fro.

With howls and curses, the two masked men made the hastiest kind of an
exit from the room and down the stairs, while Fritz in the attic was
convulsed with laughter.

"Dot was better as half-a-dozen suppers, py shimminy!" he snorted,
holding his sides.

All was now quiet for some time, except for the howling of the storm
without.

But, finally, footsteps were again heard, and eight men, all masked
but one, filed into the room.

The eighth man was a young man, of prepossessing appearance, unmasked,
and had his hands bound behind his back.

He was better dressed than his grim captors, and there was a fearless,
cool expression upon his face, that at once won Fritz's admiration.

"Ha! Hank and Jim have been here already, and gone!" a tall,
broad-shouldered member of the party said. "They'll be back directly,
no doubt. And now, Hal Hartly, we will proceed to review your case,
and dispose of it according to the decision of the majority."

"Go ahead, captain!" the prisoner replied, calmly. "I am as well
prepared now, as I shall be."



CHAPTER V.

BILL BUDGE'S CONVERSATION.


To Fritz, the scene below of course began to grow more interesting.

"Dot veller vas goin' to pe tried for somedings," he muttered, "und
vot ish more, uff der verdict don't vas in his favor, he vas goin' der
git sp'iled."

Young Hartly if his thoughts were in the same channel as those of the
watcher, didn't appear very much troubled about the matter, for he
perched himself upon the table, while the six jurors sat in a
semicircle facing him, and the captain a little to one side.

"Well, sir, what have you to say, Hartly, in regard to this suspicion
which has arisen against you--that you are a traitor to our cause?"

"Nothing, sir, except that whoever started the suspicion, is a liar
and a coward!" was the retort.

"Then, you deny that you have ever betrayed the existence of this
band, outside of its own membership?"

"I do most emphatically. What assurance have you, that any one has
betrayed you?"

"Is it not ample proof, when strange men haunt this vicinity, and
haunt the members to their very doors? These law-sharks, or
detectives, only wait for some disclosure, to spring their traps on me
and my faithful followers."

"I am not to blame. Though forced into service against my will, and
made to swear the oath of allegiance, rather than lose my life, I have
kept such secrets as came into my possession. I believe I know who has
excited the suspicious feeling against me."

"Well, sir, who?"

"Your rascally son, for one--your jealous daughter, for another,"
Hartly replied, shrugging his shoulders with a contemptuous laugh.

"How dare you term my son rascally, sir, and accuse my child of
jealousy?"

"Because the boy is as unprincipled a villain as yourself, and as for
your daughter, when she found that I did not court her favor, she at
once turned against me. I despise both your son and your daughter,
Captain Gregg, and that is all I have to say, except that I am not
guilty of the charge preferred against me."

"That remains to be told by the jury. You see the head of Bill Budge,
just above you, Hartly? He was caught in an intended act of treachery,
and you see his end. If Bill could speak, he'd tell you that the fate
of the traitor is hard."

"You're a cussed liar!" Budge's suspended remnant seemed to say, in a
deep, hoarse voice.

The captain and the jury uttered each a startled oath, and gazed at
the offending head in astonishment.

"Who called me a liar?" Gregg demanded, fiercely. "By the gods, I
thought it was Budge's lips that uttered those words."

"So it was!" the head seemed to say; then there was a gurgling sort of
laugh, and the head shook, perceptibly.

"Ten thousand furies!" Gregg yelled, and hastily wrenching open the
door, he made a hasty exit from the room, followed by the jurors--nor
did they stop, short of the bottom of the stairs.

Hartly did not leave the room, but dismounting from his perch upon the
table, walked off a few paces to where he could get a good look at
Budge's unfortunate pate.

"Something deuced funny, here, I'm blowed if there ain't!" he
soliloquized, apparently quite composed. "It's the first time I have
ever heard dead men talk. I say, Budge, how's the temperature up your
way?"

"Two t'ousand degrees above blood heat," seemed to issue from between
the gleaming teeth.

"Humph! pretty warm, that, I must admit," Hartly said, looking still
more puzzled.

Fritz, while perpetrating the ventriloquism, was also listening and
planning.

"Dot veller Hartly is der very chap to helb me oud mit my scheme," he
muttered, "und ve must escape from here, pefore der smugglers return."

Accordingly he slid down the rope into the room below.

Hartly looked surprised.

"Who the deuce are you?" he demanded, stepping back a pace.

"Fritz Snyder, detective," Fritz replied. "I come here on pizness--vot
for, you can easily guess. I vant you to helb me oud mit it, und I vil
see dot you haff your liberty."

"Ha! ha! that's your game, is it? Well, my friend, I'd like to do it,
first-rate, but I can not oblige you."

"Vy not?"

"Because I swore allegiance to the cause you would have me betray, and
it never shall be said that Hal Hartly was not a man of his word!"

"But I heard you say dot you vas forced inder der pizness."

"So I was, against my will, but that does not lessen the obligations
of my oath. While I live, I shall adhere to my sworn promise."

"You vas foolish--you don'd vil get any credit for your resolve. Yoost
ash like ash not you will pe killed, on der suspicion dot's already
against you."

"Perhaps. If so, I shall submit, knowing I have been innocent of
breaking my word."

"Pshaw! dis vos all nonsense! You don'd vas vant to die no more ash
any odder man. Let me cut der bonds vot fastens your arm, und ve vill
climb up to der attic und escape vrom der roof to some place where we
vil pe safe, undil we can make arrangements to break oop dis
smugglers' league."

"Nothing would please me more, but owing to my oath, I must
positively refuse to do anything of the kind," Hartly persisted,
firmly. "I admire your proposed attempt, and while I shall do nothing
to interrupt it, I can not conscientiously do anything to help it
along. Can you enlighten me any as to the mystery of this head, which,
though not possessed of life, yet uses its voice so naturally?"

"I dells you noddings apoud it," Fritz replied, shaking his head.
"Hark!"

"Yes! I hear it. It is Gregg and the boys coming back. Quick! or you
will be seen!"

Fritz made haste to shin up the rope to the garret once more, and had
barely succeeded in so doing when the smugglers, headed by Captain
Gregg, once more entered the room.

They did not come boldly in, but thrust their heads in and took a look
around first.

Seeing that no harm had come to Hartly, they then ventured in.

"Ha! ha! you're brave fellows, ain't you?" he laughed. "I didn't cut
tail and run, although I have not even the use of my hands."

"You're cussed brave, all at once!" Gregg growled, evidently not
liking the taunt. "Did that thing speak again?" with a wry glance at
the guiltless pate of the departed Budge.

"Of course. I've had quite a chat with William," Hartly replied. "He
says he's in a very warm latitude at present, and so he's come back
spiritually for a short cooling off!"

Gregg uttered an oath.

"Pooh! I don't believe such bosh."

"But it's a fact, nevertheless. Budge says they've got a little corner
left up in his country for you, too, when you get ready to emigrate,
which will be mighty soon, judging by the active preparations that are
being made to receive you, such as gathering kindling wood, making
matches, and the like."

"Curse you, they'll git you first!" the smuggler said, with vicious
emphasis. "Go ahead, boys, an' tell him the decision you've made."

"Well, we've concluded that Hal Hartly is a traitor to our cause, and
for the sake of protection it will be necessary to feed him to the
fishes!" one of the jurors said. "Eh, ain't that the ticket, boys!"

A grunt of assent from the others was the answer.

"Then it shall be so," Captain Gregg ordered. "I am sorry for you,
Hartly, but treachery merits death, as you were informed when you
joined. As an organization which must exist in secrecy, we are forced
to adopt harsh rules. Your companions have carefully weighed all the
evidence, and have decided that the safety of the organization demands
your death. As you have sown, so shall you reap."

"Do you mean this, Captain Gregg?"

"I do, sir, emphatically."

"Then you shall live to repent ever having pronounced my doom.
Henceforth I shall not consider my oath of allegiance obligatory, as I
have hitherto done. I'll show you what harm I can do your vile
organization."

"But you shall have no chance. Jim Hovel and his brother have already
consented to sink you to the bottom of the Atlantic for a stated sum,
and thus rid us of you effectually. They are waiting below for you, as
it is a safe night for such work. If you have any prayers to make, you
had better make the best use of your time."

"I'll suit myself about that, you villain!"

"Numbers two and three, take the prisoner down-stairs!" the captain
ordered.

Two of the smugglers seized hold of poor Hartly, and led him from the
room.

Up in the attic. Fritz was in a predicament. The majority of the
smugglers yet remained in the room below, and he could not get out of
the house in that way, as was his desire, to make an attempt if
possible to rescue Hal Hartly.

The only course left for him was to escape through a trap-door onto
the roof, and trust to luck in getting to the ground from there.

"Dot veller vas von big fool for not acceptin' my advice," he mused,
as he fumbled cautiously around in the darkness. "Yoost like ash not
dey vil pe gone off mit him, ven I git down dere, und den he vil pe a
goner, sure ash der dickens."

It required several minutes to find the trap in the roof, and it was
no slight job to displace it.

When he had accomplished this much, however, it was but a moment's
work to clamber out upon the roof in the pouring rain and replace the
door.

"Py shimminy, dot vas a hard storm," he soliloquized. "Der ocean
grunts as uff she vas got der dispeppersy. Now der next t'ing ish
somedings else. Der roof vas slippery ash von soap ladle, und first I
know der vil pe a dead Dutchmon spilled someveres over t'e ground."

That portion of the main roof of the building was quite steep, and the
eaves were at least twenty-five feet from the ground.

Not fancying the idea of a drop of that distance, the young detective
crawled to the ridge, to reconnoiter.

On the other side of the ridge, the roof sloped down to meet a gable,
from where the gable's roof took another descent, so as to bring the
eaves about seven feet nearer to the ground.

Aside from this there was no possible way of reaching _terra firma_.

"Eighteen feet! I don'd know vedda I can stand dot or no. I must try
it, however, or Hal Hartly vas a dead codfish sure."

Using extreme caution, he slid from one ridge to the other, and then
from that to the eaves, from where he was to drop.

"Vel, here's der blace vere I don'd vas so much tickled. But pizness
vas pizness, und a veller don'd vas can rise in der vorld vidout
dropping sometimes; so here goes!" he muttered.

And clinging to the eaves for a second, he let himself drop.

Down--down he went, with great velocity, and finally struck upon
something softer than mother earth, from which he tumbled end over end
to the ground.

The following instant a wild, unearthly howl rent the night.

"Och! murther--murther!" shrieked a man's voice; "I'm kilt! I'm kilt!
Och! Holy Vargin Mary save me!"

It was the Irishman's voice. It was upon him that Fritz had first
alighted, and he was probably badly jarred up, for he continued to hop
around and yell at the top of his voice.

To make matters worse, the door of the house opened, and Gregg and his
followers came pouring out.



CHAPTER VI.

ON THE SCENT.


Fritz had been stunned a little, even after tumbling off from the
yelping Irishman; still, he had sense enough to struggle to his feet
on seeing the smugglers rush from the building.

"Shut oop!" he cried, addressing Grogan. "The smugglers are upon us!
Draw your wippons, if you have any, and fire!"

"Dom tha wippons!" Grogan howled, refusing to hear to reason. "Och!
holy Vargin! it's kilt sure I am ontirely!"

"Helloo! what the devil is the matter here?" the captain shouted,
waving his lantern on high. "Who is it that's making all this noise?"

"Spies--detectives!" suggested one of his companions. "Shoot 'em
down!"

"Hurrah! Death to the spy!" cried a third, and then they made a rush
forward and seized upon Pat, despite his lively use of his "bit o'
buckthorn" on the defensive.

Perceiving that he was not seen, Fritz crawled softly away to a safe
distance, and then paused to gaze back.

The yelling had ceased in the vicinity of the house, and the lantern
light had disappeared from view, leaving naught but blank darkness and
the pouring rain, which came down monotonously but heavily.

"I'll bet a half-dollar dot they've choked der life oud off dot duke's
son-off-a-gun," Fritz muttered, creeping under the cover of a dense
tree. "I vonder off I proke any of his pones ven I lit on him. By
shimminy! he must haff a gonstitution like a mule, or I'd 'a' smashed
him all to sausage meat."

Evidently something was to pay, for, except the sound of the storm and
the dashing of the ocean against the bluff, all was quiet. The
smugglers had either killed Grogan on the spot or taken him back into
the house with them.

And poor Hartly--what had become of him?

That was the question which troubled Fritz far more than the fate of
the lean man from Kilkenny.

"He vas a gone-up goose now anyhow, und I don'd suppose id vil do some
great deal off good to vorry apoud him, only I vish I could haff saved
him," he mused.

It was a wild night at the best, and Fritz heartily wished that he was
back in Philadelphia, sitting in the old pawnbroker-shop, beside his
girl, Rebecca.

Still, he would not willingly have given up what he had learned in
reference to the smugglers' league for a good deal, and he was
resolved to hang to the matter attentively, until he should be able to
trip and trap the rogues and break up their existence as an
organization.

Knowing of no other available shelter in the vicinity, he resolved to
linger under the tree until the smugglers should leave the building,
when he would once more take possession.

The night was well advanced, however, when he heard them leave in a
body, and start off down the lonely road.

On first thought, he was tempted to follow them, but a cold blast of
wind from off the ocean warned him that he was wet to the skin, and
the best thing he could do would be to get under roof and dry off.

He accordingly went back into the deserted house, and sat down in the
lower hall. Though not cowardly, he had no desire to keep further
company with the grinning skull of the late lamented Budge, whoever
he may have been.

Rolling up one end of the old carpet he converted it into a sort of
pillow, and lay down, out of the draft.

Sleep soon came to his relief, and he slept soundly until morning,
when he was awakened by the sun shining in his face, through a rear
hall window.

Rising, he went out-of-doors to reconnoiter, and consider what was
best to do next.

It was a clear, glorious morning after the storm; the sun shone
brightly, and a soft salt breeze blew off from the ocean, which was at
once refreshing and invigorating.

But it was not this sort of refreshment that Fritz now yearned for. He
had had nothing to eat since the previous morning, and was decidedly
hungry and faint.

"Dose fellers don'd vas can live a good vays from here, vot I saw,
last night," he mused, "but, ten to one uff I ask 'em for somedings to
eat, dey bounce me oud."

He advanced to the northern edge of the bluff, and took a look in that
direction.

To his surprise he saw, not more than a half mile away, a little
village, nestling near the beach.

This village, for charity's sake, we will call Millburg, as that name
will answer quite us well as any other.

There might have been a hundred buildings, all told, and it was
evidently a fishing hamlet, as a number of small boats, and smacks,
were drawn up along the beach.

Just outside the breakers, an ocean steamship, of small size and trim
build, was anchored. Upon her sides was painted in large letters the
word, "Countess."

"I don'd know petter I go down there, or not," Fritz muttered, gazing
down upon the village. "I don'd vas know, neider, vich job I better
look to, first--der smuggler pizness, or der girl pizness. For der
latter I haff der bromise of five t'ousand dollars--for der former, I
like ash not get paid off mit a proken head. Still I don'd vant to
leave dis blace ondil I trip und trap der game, und turn id over to
der law, for dis is der whole game, sure!"

After some deliberation he decided to go down to the village. The
people would not offer him any molestation, probably, unless he gave
them cause to suspect him, and he resolved to be constantly upon his
guard.

Descending from the bluff, he walked along the beach, and finally
entered the little burg.

It was rather a rough-looking place, built up of weather-worn wooden
shanties, a few stores, and a sort of tavern.

There were, however, two imposing residences, on opposite sides of the
only street, which were built of stone, and set down in large shaded
lawns.

Passing up the street, Fritz was the target for many curious glances
of rough-looking men, who sat in their doorways, but, paying no
attention to them, he entered the tavern and purchased his breakfast,
to which he was able to do full justice.

Afterward he came out in the bar-room and sat down.

A half a dozen rough-looking fellows were lounging about, who, to
judge from their looks, were in the habit of ingulfing more grog than
was good for them.

Then the landlord, who kept a close watch over them, was the fattest
specimen of manhood Fritz had seen; his girth was something enormous.
He was not a villainous-looking man, like the rest, and this fact
impressed Fritz more favorably than anything else he saw about the
premises.

During the forenoon a well-dressed, fine-looking man, with iron-gray
hair and mustache, galloped up to the tavern on horseback. He looked
as if he had been reared in luxury, for there was that haughtiness of
mien that betokened the arrogant aristocrat.

"Good-morning, John," he said, as the tavern-keeper waddled to the
door. "Will you send up a basket of champagne during the day, and a
barrel of good ale--the champy for her ladyship, the countess, you
know, and the ale for the villagers. Going to have a sort of a
jollification at the lawn to-night, you know, in honor of the arrival
of the countess, and want you all to turn out."

Then he galloped on, quite as airily as he had come.

"Who vas dot big-feelin' rooster?" Fritz asked, when John re-entered
the tavern.

"That? Why, that's Honorable Granby Greyville," the fat man
replied--"the rich haristocrat who owns most of the land hereabouts. A
right big-feeling man, too, as you say."

"Granby Greyville, eh?" Fritz commented, under his breath. "Vel, dot
ish funny. I thought sure dot was Captain Gregg, der smuggler, und I
don'd vas so much foolished apoud it yet. I'll pet a half-dollar I
find oud somedings pefore I leave der blace."

Resolved to remain a few days in the village for the purpose of
prospecting, Fritz made himself at home about the hotel.

One suspicion after another was gradually occurring to him, and he was
not slow to give them a thorough consideration prior to putting them
to test.

Of all things, he was desirous of attending the "jollification," as
the horseman had termed it, with a view of seeing the countess, who,
he learned, had lately arrived from England, in her own steamship, for
a few weeks' stay upon the Atlantic coast, and a visit to her
prospective husband, Greyville.

During the afternoon a man entered the tavern, who evidently had
"blood in his eye." His whole appearance seemed to indicate that he
was anxious to have a fight with some one, and was not particular who
it was.

He was a large, raw-boned fellow, with great muscular development; his
face was large, with a bristling stubble of black beard upon the lower
portion; his eyes were dark and wild, his hair silvered with broad
streaks of white, and worn in a shaggy, unkempt mass.

His mouth was large, and his teeth projected beyond his lips, in a
horrible manner.

His attire, too, was ragged and greasy, with clumsy, stogy boots upon
his feet, and a dilapidated hat upon his head.

On entering the room, he paused and glared around him, as if in search
of some one on whom to vent his wrath.

"Well, Bully Jake, what'll ye have!" the tavern-keeper demanded, with
a frown, for the ruffian was evidently an unwelcome intruder.

"Waal, I don't keer ef I do take a drap o' likker!" the man growled,
glaring around.

"You to blazes! I mean, what d'ye want here?" Fat John grunted.

"A fureigner--a fureigner! Ye know I'm death on 'em, an' thar can't
none o' 'em can stay around hyar, while I hev things _my_ way."

"What foreigner is there here, now?"

"A Dutch cuss, blarst his eyes! Thar he sets," and he indicated Fritz
who was tipped back in one corner. "Oh! but I'll go through him,
though! I'll pulverize and sow him to the seven winds of the earth."

Then, with a tragic stride, he made for Fritz, pausing but a few paces
away from him, and shaking his fist fairly in his face.

"You, look!" the ruffian cried. "D'ye know who I am?"

"Vel, I dinks I don'd vas haff made your acquaintance!" Fritz replied,
retaining his seat, but on guard for an attack, if one was made.

"Ho! ho! I reckon not, an' ye'll wish ye never had, afore I git
through with yer!" Bully Jake declared. "Behold in me, my furin
rooster, Jake Jogagog, commonly known as Bully Jake, the Terror o'
ther Coast. I'm a cyclone, I am. Then, I'm prime minister ter his
honor, Granby Greyville, an' from him I hev orders to demolish every
furin craft wot sots anchor in his domains. Therefore, ef ye wanter
escape teetotal annihilation, I'd advise ye ter _git_! Ef ye ain't
seen goin' in less'n two seconds, I'll stamp ye out o' existence."

"Vel, when I gits ready to go, den I vil go, und not pefore!" Fritz
retorted. "Uff you makes me any droubles, I plack your eye for you!"

"Oh! ye wull, hey? Oh! snortin' walrusses an' white-haired whales!"
roared the bully, and sprung savagely upon the young detective, as if
bent on his certain destruction, Fritz clinched with him.

It was to be a struggle of brute strength now.



CHAPTER VII.

THE STRUGGLE.


Both were strong, active men, Fritz in particular being well supplied
with all the necessary muscle and agility of the prize-fighter,
although he by no means looked as if he was an "ugly customer" to
handle.

After clinching the two men soon tripped and fell to the floor, where
the struggle literally began in all its meaning.

"Oh! I'll show ye how ther howlin' porpoise fights!" Bully Jake
roared, endeavoring to get a bite at Fritz's nose. "I'll chaw ye all
up like a dish o' hash!"

"Vil, you, dough!" Fritz cried, finally getting his hands free, and
clinching them around the bully's throat tightly. "I'll pet yoost a
half-dollar you von't do noddings off der kind," and now getting the
ruffian under him he gradually shut off his wind.

"Hold on! hold on! no chokin'!--no chokin', I say; it's ag'in' ther
moral rules o' fightin'!"

"I don'd vas see id dot vay," Fritz said. "Eider you vas got to ax my
parding for assaulting me, or I vil choke off your breathe so you vil
haff none to use."

"No choke, I say! Let me up, an' I'll fight ye accordin' ter book."

"Not a let oop!" was the young detective's reply. "Ven you come
foolin' around mit der Dutchman you pet your life you get left.
Apologize, I dells you, or I turns de throttle, und shuts der sdeam
off your logermotiff. I mean pizness--no 'pology, no breathe. Vas you
understand?"

The man began to wince as Fritz closed his terrible gripe.

"Oh, let me up, an' we'll call et squar'," the man gurgled.

"Ven you dells me 'I ax your humble parding'--den I let you up!"

"But I won't!"

"Den I vil squeeze your windpipe, so!"

"I ask your pardon. Oh! yes, I do. Thar, now, let me up!"

Fritz obeyed, and let the ruffian rise from the floor, but just as
soon as he was on his feet Bully Jake drew a long knife.

"Oho! I didn't say what I'd do next!" he howled, brandishing the
blade, threateningly. "I'll cut your cussed heart out now."

"Vil you, dough? Vel, I'll pet you yoost apout a half-dollar, on dot,
I vil!" Fritz cried, drawing and cocking his revolver. "Now, you coome
on, uff you vant to get der whole dop off your head plowed off. I can
do der job vid greatest of pleasure."

The sight of the revolver caused the big loafer to pause.

"Ye wouldn't shoot, when I'm only in fun, would you?" he asked,
incredulously.

"Well, just try me and see, dot's all," was the retort. "Your
funniness vas entirely too t'in, mine friendt; I don'd vas like it. So
I'll giff you one minnit der git oud. If you don'd vas gone py dot
time, I vil shoot you so quicker ash I vould von leedle cat. One! Got
ready, all der vile! Swi! High time you vas skinnin' oud! Three! Ven I
hollers dot, if you don'd vas gone I spot you!"

"Then, tearfully and sadly, I must tear myself away from you," the
ruffian declared, with a grimace, as he stalked toward the door, "I'll
allow ye hold ther grip now, but thet ain't sayin' ye'll allus hold
it."

Then he took his leave.

Fritz was not sorry. He did not want to hurt any one unless forced to,
and yet was bound to defend himself.

Toward evening the loungers, one by one, quitted the tavern, until
Fritz and Fat John were the only ones in the bar-room.

Then it was that the latter spoke.

"I say, young feller," he said, "you're a hextrordinary chap, and if
it wouldn't be haskin' too much, I'd like to inquire what brings you
here?"

"Vel, pizness, I dinks," Fritz replied, "und judgin' py der latest
demonstrations, I vil haff lots off id."

"You had better look out sharp for Number One, I tell you, for though
this ain't counted no hard town, they ginerally pitch onto a stranger
and try to bulldoze him into leavin' by settin' Bully Jake onto him."

"I vas tumbled to dot already," Fritz replied; "but der virst one vot
attempted it didn't make so much success."

"No; but that ain't saying you'll have as big luck next time. You see,
his honor, Mr. Greyville, owns most of the property hereabouts, an'
he's as big feeling as a duke, and won't allow no one around 'cept
what bows to his will."

"Vel, ve vil see apoud dot," Fritz muttered. "I dinks dey don'd vas
make mooch bulldozing me. I vant to ask you von question--don'd this
man Greyville be Captain Gregg, der smuggler?"

The fat host of the Lion's Paw gave a start. The question was
evidently something of a surprise to him.

"Why, no, of course not! What ever put such an idea into your head,
young man? Gregg the smuggler is said to be one of the worst
characters along the Atlantic coast, and at the same time, the most
successful in his line of business. Greyville is a man who would scorn
to stoop to _such_ work; and, moreover, he is said to be immensely
rich in ready cash, though his landed property is mortgaged for its
full value."

Fritz accepted this explanation without reply, but his mind was but
little changed in the matter.

"I dinks Gregg und Greyville vas one und der same parties," he
muttered, "und shall not giff up dot opinion until I can haff furder
proof von vay or der odder."

As soon as the gloaming of evening began to settle over the quiet
little hamlet, he left the tavern, and sauntered down the street
toward the Honorable Granby Greyville's residence, whither most of the
villagers had already wended their way.

On arriving at the front of the handsome lawn, with its winding walks,
large shade trees, beds of flowers, and attractive residence, Fritz
paused to survey the scene that was spread out before him.

Here and there dotted about among the shade trees were tables spread
with tempting viands, to which the villagers were freely helping
themselves, and to the flowing pitchers of ale that were passed around
by several of the village maidens.

A couple of Italians were making music upon violin and harp, which
sounded weird and enchanting; children were playing and romping about
the grounds; Chinese lanterns were strung about among the lower
branches of the trees, and altogether it was a festive and attractive
scene.

From his position outside the fence Fritz could see nothing of either
Greyville or the alleged countess, and he resolved to enter the
grounds for that purpose, which he accordingly did, and sauntered
about leisurely, as if he had a perfect right there by invitation.

Although many curious glances were leveled at him, he paid no
attention to them, and after walking around awhile, he leaned up
against a tree and looked on, studying every face within the reach of
his gaze.

Presently there was a shout among the assembled villagers, and upon
this, the door of the mansion opened, and Mr. Greyville came forth
upon the grounds, with the countess leaning upon his arm.

His honor, was attired in a suit of immaculate white duck, with a
massive gold chain strung across his vest and a superb diamond pin
upon his shirt front.

The countess was a Frenchwoman, of some three-and-thirty years, with a
thin, angular face, bead-like black eyes, and hair to match, and a
thin compressed mouth, which when she laughed showed two rows of
pearly teeth. She also wore an abundance of paint and powder upon her
face, and what with her rich attire of silk, lace, and diamonds, was a
striking and peculiar-looking personage--a woman who looked crafty,
and capable of mischief.

As soon as she and the Honorable Greyville advanced upon the lawn, the
villagers arose from the tables, and the women courtesied low, while
the men swung their hats and sent up a rousing cheer.

The countess and her escort then moved about here and there, with a
pleasant word for all, and a bidding for them to continue their feast.

As they passed near where Fritz stood leaning against the tree,
Greyville gave him a sharp, stern glance, and said:

"Ah! who are you, and what do you want here, sir?"

"Nothing in particular," Fritz replied, returning his stare, calmly. "I
only see vot you vas haff a pic-nig, und I come in to look on."

"Then begone, sir, at once! I allow no loafers around here. Go, I
say!" and then they passed on.

Fritz did not go, however, but retained his position, in defiance.

"Shorge Vashingdon made dis a free coundry, und I von'd go dil I gits
ready," he muttered.

It was not long, however, before he was hastily approached by a man,
and that man no less a person than the same flashily attired
individual who had taken the young woman, Madge, away from the hotel,
at Atlantic City!

"Hello! get out of this, you loafer!" he cried seizing Fritz by the
shoulder, roughly. "How many times do you have to be told to go? The
guv'nor said go--now, if you don't light out, I'll make your heels
break your neck."

"_Vil_ you, dough!" Fritz grinned, wrenching loose, and standing on
the defensive. "Yoost you keep your hands off vrom me, Griffith Gregg,
or I vil knock der whole top off your nose off."

"What! you vagabond! you compare me with the smuggler's son? I'll
thump your skull for that piece of impudence."

And he was as good as his word, for, raising a stout cane he carried,
he brought it heavily down upon the young detective's head.

For a moment Fritz was nearly stunned, but he quickly recovered, and
sprung at his assailant, pluckily.

"Oh! you snoozer!" he cried, "I vil plack your eye mit plue, for dot."

And he did deal the honorable's son two severe whacks between the
eyes, in rapid succession, which had the effect to land him on his
back on the ground.

"Thump me on der head, vil you?" Fritz cried, standing over him, ready
to give him another rap, if he attempted to rise. "I'll pet you a
half-dollar you vil got left, on dot."

"Let me up, you dastardly loafer!" young Greyville raved, not daring
to rise under the existing circumstances. "I'll murder you, for this,
I--I'll--"

"Got your head proke, off you come mit your foolishness around me!"
Fritz cried. "I'll let you oop, dough, ash I must go!"

He saw a half a dozen of the village roughs coming toward the spot,
and knew he was ill-prepared to battle with all of them. So with a few
dextrous bounds he leaped away out of the yard, and ran swiftly down
to the beach.

Finding that they did not follow him, he soon after made his way up
the street again, to the tavern, and went to the room which had been
assigned him.

"I'll pet der vil pe some droubles before I got t'rough mit dis
pizness," he muttered, "but I vas der man who vil come oud der
winner."

He was soon off in a sound sleep, from which he, hours later,
awakened, with a violent start.

The scene was changed.

He was not in the tavern, on the bed, but instead, was bound hand and
foot, and lying in the bottom of a boat!



CHAPTER VIII.

ADRIFT.


At first Fritz had no idea of what could have happened, but it did not
take him long to come to one conclusion on the matter, that he had
been captured at night, thrust into the frail boat, and sent adrift on
the ocean. Who had been the authors of the job? There could be no
doubt in his mind about that.

The Greyvilles--or the Greggs, as he believed they were--were anxious
to have him leave the neighborhood, and had probably, through their
agents, caused his removal in this very promiscuous manner.

By an effort he sat up in the little boat and gazed around him. He was
now some distance from the beach, beyond the white-capped breakers,
and, as the tide was receding, the frail craft was of course drifting
farther and farther from land each moment, a reflection that might
have caused any one a start, while to Fritz, bound and helpless, it
was the next thing to being alarming.

"Vel, py shimminy dunder!" was his exclamation, as he gazed dolefully
around him. "Off I don'd vas in a duyfel off a fix, den I don'd vant a
cent. They've come von cute game ofer me, und I'll bet a half-dollar I
go down der same throat vot Jonah did--der w'ale's. Vonder vich von
off dem vellers put up der shob on me? I'd like to punch his nose.
Reckon id vas dot veller whose eyes I placked mit Jersey plue up at
der pig-nic. I vonder vot der plazes a veller can do, anyhow?"

There was a sorry prospect for his being able to do anything much
toward helping himself from the unenviable situation in which he had
been placed. He was unable to use his hands or feet, and was,
therefore, helpless and at the mercy of the wild waters over which he
was drifting.

Did he have the use of hands and feet he was not yet out of danger,
for the boat was without oars and the distance to the land was so
great as to make it a daring attempt to breast the outgoing tide in a
struggle to reach the shore by swimming.

Still, it seemed the only hope for him, if by any way he could free
himself of the straps which bound him, and he was not the one to
despair without first proving to his satisfaction that it was the
only thing left for him to do.

Therefore he set to work industriously in an attempt to loosen the
bonds from his hands. Luckily they were not bound behind his back,
which was one advantage, as he could use his teeth upon them.

But, being leather straps, he made slow headway, nibbling at the strap
around his hand; but little by little it yielded, so that after awhile
a violent wrench broke it asunder, and his hands were free.

"Py shimminy, dot ish goot, anyhow," he muttered, making haste to
unloosen his feet. "Now, der next t'ings is somedings else. How ish I
going to got pack mit der shore?"

It was an all-important question.

The boat was perhaps a mile farther from shore than when he first had
estimated the distance.

"I don'd know vedder I can swum dot furder or not," he muttered,
doubtfully. "But subbosin' der whale, or der duyfel-fish, catch 'old
mit mine pootleg, und suck me in under der vater. Vot a duyfel o' a
fix I'd be in den. Off I only had some paddles, I vould haff no
droubles getting to shore vid der poat."

He was in the midst of these reflections when he heard a shout farther
out at sea, and for the first time beheld dimly a dusky object
floating in the water not far ahead of him.

"Hello! who you vas, und vot you vant?" Fritz shouted, in answer.

"I am a poor devil more or less drowned, and can't hang on to this
barrel much longer. Be you man or devil, for Heaven's sake hurry along
with your boat."

"All righd. I vil pe dere in der sweedness py-und-py. Keep a stiff
upper lip, und I'll got you soon," the young detective replied,
heartily. "Dere's nodding like hang-on at der critical minute."

Kneeling, and leaning over the front part of the boat, he used his
hands as propellers, and in this way was able to improve the slow
progress of his light craft to some extent, and in a few moments was
alongside the barrel, on top of which a drenched human was balancing
himself.

At a glance Fritz perceived who it was.

"Hartly!" he exclaimed, in surprise.

"Yes, what's left of me," the sentenced smuggler replied, clambering
into the boat. "Thank Heaven you came along just as you did, for my
gripe wouldn't hold out much longer."

"Vel, I should dink not. I'd giffen you up ash dead. How ish it dot
you don'd vas kilt by der smugglers?"

"It is no fault of theirs," Hartly replied, grimly. "They chucked me
under night afore last, miles out at sea, supposing my hands and feet
were bound, and a heavy stone tied to my head. But while they were
rowing me out, I contrived to loosen up matters, so that I was really
free the minute I struck water. But I went under all the same to
deceive them. When they headed for shore I arose to the surface, and
after swimming about until nearly exhausted, I caught onto this empty
cask, which has in one sense been my salvation. By the tides I have
been carried quite near to the shore, but my lower limbs being numb by
remaining so long in the water, I dared not attempt to swim ashore,
and the outgoing tide has carried me out again--not so far as it
would, however, if I had not struggled shoreward constantly. But how
come you out here, in this frail shell, without even oars?"

Fritz explained as far as he had known, and Hartly scowled.

"There'll be a reckoning for some one," he said, "if I ever succeed in
getting ashore. But there's not much prospect of that, unless we can
get some oars, or something to pull ashore with. The tide will begin
to ebb in before a great while, too."

"I haff von idea," Fritz said. "Uff ve can got der parrel apart, we
might do somedings vid der staves--vot you t'ink apoud _dot_?"

"Good idea. We can easily get the staves."

Hartly drew the barrel up alongside the boat, and soon had it knocked
to pieces, and four of the staves secured.

"Now, then, for shore," he cried. "When we get there, I will leave
you, on business, for a few hours, after which I will join you, and we
will work together against the Gregg gang. We will paddle to land on
the lower side of the bluff, as it wouldn't be particularly healthy
for me to land in front of the village. You can, and in fact, had
better keep shady, in the vicinity of the old rookery on the bluff,
and I will join you, as soon as possible."

Accordingly they paddled as rapidly toward the beach as their strength
would permit. By the time it was daybreak they had landed below the
bluff.

Here they drew the light boat up on the beach, and Hartly said:

"I'll leave you now, but will return, in the course of a few hours."

"All righd. I vil remain in der neighborhood," Fritz replied, and then
the young smuggler clambered up the side of the bluff, and was soon
gone from view.

"I vonder vot dot veller ish oop to, now," Fritz muttered, after he
had gone. "Der is somet'ing he vas goin' to do, vot he ain'd
purticular apoud my knowing somedings apoud. I have haff a notion dot
he ain'd vos so nice a veller vot I firsd t'ought, und I vouldn't pe
much surprised if he vould give me avay off he got a chance. But, oh!
I'll keep watch of him! I've got der smugglers und der kidnapper
spotted, und I'll bet a half-dollar id don'd vas be some centuries
till I get 'em trapped. In der meantime, der is somet'ing I vant to
investigate."

This was something he had noticed as he and Hartly had paddled in to
the shore from the ocean.

In about the center of the bluff, at the water's edge, as it faced the
open Atlantic, was a dark hole of considerable size, which looked as
if it might lead to a cavern in the hill.

If Hartly knew of its existence, he had kept it a secret, but our
German detective had noticed it, and resolved to see where the
aperture led to.

Under any other circumstances he would not have given it a second
thought, but the fact that the smugglers held out in this vicinity--of
which he now had no doubt--gave that hole in the bluff more than
ordinary significance.

Jumping into the boat he paddled off once more into the water, and
headed toward the front of the bluff.

Not knowing what danger he might unexpectedly run into, he had drawn
his revolver, which, strangely enough his captors had not taken from
him, and placed it on the stern seat beside him.

Working silently but steadily along the face of the bluff, which was
quite perpendicular, he soon came before the aperture, and headed his
boat into it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr.--or, as he styled himself, Honorable--Granby Greyville sat in his
private study this same morning, engaged in smoking a cigar, as he
rocked in an easy-chair and gazed out through an open glass door upon
the pretty lawn.

That his thoughts were of an unpleasant nature was evident by a frown
which disfigured his florid countenance.

And this frown did not lessen, but rather increased as there suddenly
appeared in the doorway no less a wild-looking personage than Silly
Sue, whom Fritz had encountered upon the beach.

She made a grimace and sort of a jerky bow as she saw his honor, and
then stood staring at him in a strange manner.

"Well!" he growled, angrily, "what brings you here?"

"What allus brings me?" she replied, with a chuckle. "I want to come
back and play up high-cockolorum, like my big-feelin' sister. S'pose
that's silly, too, ain't it, daddy?"

"No more so than your accursed obstinacy, you fool!" was the severe
reply. "You well know the only terms that can ever restore you as a
member of my family."

"But I won't accept 'em!"

"Then clear out. You shall never be anything to me till you surrender
the stolen money."

"Bah! it ain't yours! You're a bad, wicked man, and you got it
wickedly, and get all your wealth wickedly, and the more you get the
wickeder you get. Get out! I'd cut my head off, silly's I am, before
I'd give you up the money."

"Curses on your mulishness!"

"Ha! ha! I know you cherish the most fatherly regard for me. If it
wasn't for the hope that I will some day restore you your lost ten
thousand you'd had me drowned months ago. By the way, old man, what
have you done with my feller?"

"Your fellow?"

"Yes--Hal Hartly."

"How should I know anything about him?"

"Who should know better? Oh! you wicked monster!"

"Take care, girl!"

"No, I won't take care!" and her eyes flashed in defiance of his
anger. "I ain't a bit afraid of you, because I can outrun any dog in
the town. I know what's become of Hal. Your tools took him out and
chucked him under. But, ha! ha! he's all right!"

Greyville started a little.

"What foolishness is this of yours?"

"Oh! only silliness, of course," and she laughed loudly. "But Hal's
all right, and, now that his scruples have had a pickle, I allow he'll
come around to my cherished plan, and we'll make it warm for you!"

"What! you dare to threaten _me_?"

"Didn't I tell you I'd go for you if you didn't reform? Well, I must
be off. How's my stately sister? How's the countess? Ha! ha! ha! shoot
her. She's an old hag, with a glass eye and false teeth. The future
Mrs. G! Bah! and such a model private excursion steamer, too! Still,
it serves its purpose. I'm off now--just come up to spice your
breakfast. Better mend your ways. The way of the transgressor is hard.
By-by! Yours, truly, Silly Sue!"

And then, with a wild laugh, she vanished.



CHAPTER IX.

FRITZ'S DISCOVERY.


Let us return to our ventriloquist detective and his venturesome
expedition.

In heading the boat into the opening in the bluff, he had no idea how
his venture would terminate, but was urged on by a great curiosity to
explore the spot, feeling sure that it had some connection with the
smugglers' league.

The height of the aperture was insufficient to admit the passage of
the boat with him sitting up; so putting the boat under headway he lay
down and thus glided in.

In high tide, this opening, he concluded, was covered by water, while
in extreme low water the beach must be bare in front of the bluff, as
the water at this juncture now was quite shallow.

He almost immediately emerged into a cave in the heart of the bluff.

It was as large as a couple of good-sized rooms, and looked as if the
waters of many years had eaten it out.

The work of man, however, was seen in the planks overhead, which,
resting on wooden supports, held the roof in place.

The water reached about midway into the chamber, and from its edge the
pebbly ground ascended to the farther side of the cave, where a narrow
aperture branched off--evidently cut as a passageway by the hand of
man.

Grounding his boat, Fritz stepped out and took a survey of his
surroundings.

"Dis don'd look ash if id vas a healthy blace at high tide, but I
reckon dot id vas der blace vere dey run in smuggled goods," he mused.
"Dot passage probably leads to a higher und dryer place."

Holding his revolver ready for use in case of emergency, he stole
softly toward the subterranean passage, with a view to exploring it.

It was a dark, uninviting tunnel, of just sufficient width and height
to admit of a person's passage, and looked as if it might have no
connection with any other chamber, as he could see no light to
indicate its terminus.

Nothing daunted, however, he entered it and walked along softly, ready
for any surprise.

A score of steps he went, and then emerged into what he concluded was
another large subterranean chamber, but where all was of Stygian
darkness.

Luckily he had a close metal pocket-box of matches with him, and
lighting one after another he discovered a half dozen lamps in
brackets around the chamber side.

One of them he soon lit, when he proceeded to inspect his situation.

As before stated, the sides of the cavern were walled up like a
cellar; and in size it was a hundred and fifty feet square, by ten or
twelve in height.

The ceiling overhead was planked, and these supported by rude pillars
resting upon the ground floor, as in the outer cave.

Here and there, scattered about, were heaps of straw, pieces of wooden
boxes and canvas, and occasionally a bottle, or a piece of damaged
silk or lace.

At the opposite side of this chamber was a round hole in the ceiling,
similar to a well, down through which hung a rope ladder to the floor.

This seemed to indicate that either there was another chamber,
overhead, or else this was a means of access to the open air.

In the stone wall, at either side of the room, were doorways supplied
with strong, grated iron doors, which were fastened with padlocks and
chains.

"Vel, I be jiggered off dis don'd vas yoost like a regular brizon,"
Fritz ejaculated; "und dis pe der blace vere der smugglers unpack deir
goods. I t'ought I vould discoffer somet'ings, off I come here. Vonder
uff dey haff got somepody shut up mit dem cells? Dot vouldn't pe so
much off a 'sell,' neider, off I am any shudge."

Taking down the lamp, he proceeded to inspect the matter. Approaching
the right-hand dungeon, he peered in.

The place, evidently, was empty.

Crossing the cavern to the door of the other, to his surprise he saw
that this dungeon was occupied.

Upon a rude cot bed, a woman was stretched, apparently fast asleep.

As her face was turned from his view, he could not tell whether she
was young or old, pretty or ugly, but he was strangely impressed. Her
size--form--clothing, all aroused his suspicions that it really was
the Leadville man's runaway daughter--Madge Thornton, or Thurston, as
she had called herself. He was staggered a moment by the very thought.

"Hello! vake oop--who you vas?" he shouted, rattling the door.

The woman gave a violent start, and sat up on her cot, with a gasp: it
was indeed the speculator's lost daughter!

"Goot! dot vas a nest egg for me!" was the thought that flashed
through his mind, as he remembered the offered reward.

"Who are you?--what do you want?" the bride of Major Atkins demanded,
eagerly, as she arose from her bed, and stepped falteringly toward the
door.

"Vel, I am Fritz! You remember der chap Fritz, don'd you?"

"Oh! yes! yes! You are a friend to me--oh! say that you are, and that
you have come to rescue me and take me back to papa!"

"Vel, I should snicker dot dot vas apoud der size off der
circumstance," the young detective grinned. "You don'd vas like dis
hotel, den?"

"Oh! no! no! I shall die if I remain here. Open the door--take me from
this terrible place! Oh! please do this, sir, and I will always love
you."

"Nixy! You mustn't do dot," Fritz replied, with a serious expression,
"or you vil haff mine gal, Rebecca, in your vool. She's shealous, is
Rebecca, und id makes her madder ash a hornet bee, uff I even looks
sweed at a potato pug--dot ish a fact. But I vil get you oud all der
same, if I can, vich I don'd know so much apoud, ash der door vas
fastened tighter ash a brick. You see, your old dad he vas send me
down dis vay to look vor you, und I dells him I find you, yoost like a
pook. I vas a reg'lar snoozer at findin' dings vot don'd pelong to
me."

"My father sent you? Oh! joyful news! Tell me--tell me, where is my
father?" and she clasped her hands, her face and eyes aglow with
eagerness.

There was evidently nothing dazed or somnambulistic about her now.

"Vel, der last I see'd your old man, he vas at der blace vere you got
married. But he left for Long Branch to rustygate und keep a vedder
eye out for you, vile I took der rear trail, und skeer'd up der game.
You see der old man dells me off I vind you und der money vot you
stole vrom him, he vould giff me five t'ousand dollars. How vas dot?
He vas yoost der man I haff pen vantin' to meed, vor a long vile.
But, how apoud der money?"

"It is where no earthly hands but mine can find it, except I give the
directions!" the girl replied, with evident enthusiasm over the fact.
"When I left home, to come East and marry Major Atkins, I was in a
state of half insanity, or somnambulism, they called it, and took the
money, and when I came to my senses found it in my possession. It
seems, as I have learned since, that before his leaving for the East,
and at the same time when I was in my dazed state Atkins said that he
had a large roll of money in my father's safe, and that when I came, I
should bring it. And to my surprise, I have also since learned that it
was not the first somnambulistic theft I have been guilty of. Upon
discovering the large sum upon my person, I put it in a place where it
would be safe, and came on to marry Major Atkins, whom I imagined
myself to be in love with. We met--it was he who took me away from the
hotel--and we were married, as I supposed, at the time, but it has
since been proved a base deception. Almost immediately after your
departure he demanded the money of me."

"Vel, you guff it oop to him, I subbose?"

"No, I did not," she replied, with an exhibition of spirit. "I told
him I didn't have it--which was true--but he wouldn't believe that,
saying that he had learned I had the money in my possession on leaving
home. Then I got angry and told him I wouldn't give it to him, if I
did have it. This in turn enraged him, and he declared the marriage to
be a sham, and that if I didn't surrender the money he would kill me.
I defied him, and dared him to do it, whereupon he and the bogus
minister seized upon me, and searched me, but failed to find the
money. The monster, Atkins, then knocked me down, and I became
insensible. When I awoke, it was in this terrible underground place.
He has been here several times, and threatened me, and alternated the
matter by promising to make me his wife in reality, and the mistress
of a princely home if I would give up the money. But, having found out
what a villain he is, I have firmly refused."

"Dot vas right! Ve will giff him der duyfel von off dese days--or, at
least, I vil, for smuggling. I don'd know vedder I can got you oud off
here or not! I ought der haff some tools, as id don'd vas some leedle
shob preakin' iron mit a veller's hands."

"Oh! do try and release me, in some way--I do so want to get free!"

"Und I know dot. But, you see, id vas harder ash breakin' der
consditution to preak dis chain."

It was no easy job, indeed.

The chain was several feet in length, and made of short, stout welded
links. The padlock, too, was a formidable affair, such as could not
easily be broken, and Fritz did not have any keys with him.

He was stuck for once, in not knowing how to proceed, and was just
cogitating over what was best to do, when he noticed something that
caused him to start.

On glancing toward the rope-ladder, he perceived that it was moving!

Some one was descending it!

Did he remain here, discovery was inevitable, and discovery would
probably destroy all possibility of rescuing Madge.

These thoughts occurred to him like a flash.

"'Sh! some one is coming, and I must hide!" he said to Madge, in a
whisper; then he hurried softly across the chamber, into the dark
passage, where he paused at a point where he could see without being
seen.

"I'll bet dot id vas der veller whose eye I blacked," he muttered.

And, sure enough, he was right.

A moment later, Major Atkins, _alias_ young Greyville, _alias_
Griffith Gregg, came down the ladder into the cavern, his eyes yet
showing unmistakable evidence of the power of Fritz's shoulder-hits.

"What the devil's all the noise down here?" he demanded, approaching
the door of Madge's dungeon. "I thought I heard voices conversing."

"You probably heard me singing, Sir Monster!" Madge retorted,
sarcastically. "You know I am in good humor for vocalism."

"The devil take you! It wasn't singing--it was talking I heard."

"Ah! perhaps you heard me saying over threats of what I'll do, when I
get free!"

"Now, what will you do?"

"I'll claw your eyes out--then I'll tie you and give you a thrashing
with a bull-whip."

"Bah! threaten what you like. I'll guarantee you'll remain here until
I get your amiable dad's swag."

"But you will never get it!"

"Won't I? When you begin to rot in your dungeon, and your tongue
hangs out of your mouth for want of food and water, I fancy you'll
come to terms."

"But I won't, though!"

"Oh! we shall see. I won't argue with you. At the present moment I
want to find out who it was I heard you conversing with!"

And to her horror he made for the dark passage.

Fritz, too, was considerably concerned, and began to make a rapid and
stealthy retreat to the other chamber.

On arriving there, another thing startled him.

The tide had set in, and the hole in the face of the bluff was so
nearly filled as to make escape with the boat impossible.



CHAPTER X.

A DIVE FOR LIFE.


There was but one choice left for Fritz--that of standing his ground
and meeting young Greyville boldly; for there was apparently no avenue
of escape for him now.

Consequently, with his revolver drawn, ready for use, he positioned
himself at the water's edge, facing the aperture, and waited.

He had not long to wait.

In a few seconds Griffith Gregg--as we shall henceforth call him--came
striding into the chamber, and uttered a violent oath at sight of
Fritz.

"Hello! by the Satanic I thought I was not mistaken. The Dutchman we
left adrift, for sure!"

Fritz did not speak, or allow himself to move a particle, but stood
glaring at his enemy like one turned to stone.

"Hello! why the devil don't you answer?" Gregg demanded; apparently
not feeling positive that Fritz was in the flesh. "If you don't
answer, I'm hanged if I don't drown ye."

No answer from Fritz.

But from directly over the villain's head seemed to come the words, in
a hoarse voice:

"Villain, behold the reflection of your crime!"

"Bah!" Gregg cried, with a start, glaring about him. "You can't play
any tricks on me, you Dutch blunderbuss! In some way you've escaped
the trap, and now I'll pay you a grudge I've got against you."

And with a long knife in hand which he had drawn from his belt, he
dashed fiercely at Fritz, regardless of the drawn revolver.

Leveling his pistol at his opponent's breast, the young detective
pulled the trigger.

The weapon missed fire.

Gregg was almost upon him now.

There was but a moment to act, and yet, in that time, Fritz hurled the
weapon with great velocity at the villain's head, and somersaulted
backward into the water, the toe of one of his boots catching Gregg in
under the lower jaw.

This, with the stinging blow of the pistol, dropped him like a log to
the ground, where he lay for an instant, howling with pain and rage.

Fritz, landing in the water, swam through the almost submerged
entrance, and soon was outside the cavern, at the edge of the bluff.

To swim around to the southern side was the work of but a few moments,
and he was once more on _terra firma_, at his starting-point.

Here he sat down upon the beach to collect his thoughts.

So strange had been his experience within the last few hours that he
was really more confused than he had yet been since entering upon his
profession as a detective.

"Now den, let me see apoud somet'ings," he muttered. "In der virst
blace, dis be a reg'lar ruffian seddlement, vere id don'd vas healthy
vor such ash I, und id would puzzle me to do der shob all alone. I
must haff some help. Off der ish a delegraph office near here, den I
must find id, und delegraph to Philadelf vor assistance. Der ish no
doubt but I haff discovered der smugglers, und der next t'ing is to
cabture dem. Und I don'd dink id vas healthy for me to go down mit der
cave again, undil dis matter keeps shady. I vonder vot haff pecome off
der gal vot called herself Silly Sue?"

"Here she is--what do you want of her?" a merry voice cried, and the
elfin danced, laughing, out from behind a huge bowlder at Fritz's
rear, where she had been concealed, evidently playing the spy. "What
do you want of Silly Sue, Irishman?"

"I vas no Irishman!" Fritz retorted. "I am a Dutchman."

"Get out! You're pure Irish. But that ain't the point. What do you
want of me?"

"I vanted to inquire how far it ish to der nearest delegraph station?"

"Oh! a good ways inland. The road you see in front of the old house on
the bluff leads direct to it. If you want to send a message, I'll send
it for you."

"You vil?"

"Yes. I'll hook one o' dad's horses from the pasture, and ride to
town. Guess I know what ye propose doing."

"Vot?"

"You are a detective, and you have discovered that my dad and his
smugglers live around here, and you want to send for help to arrest
them!"

"How vos you know all dot?"

"Oh, I'm silly enough to guess it, and I hope you'll do it. They're a
hard gang, and a wicked gang, and they hate me worse than poison,
because I'm honest, unlike the rest of them."

"Captain Gregg und Honorable Granby Greyville are der same persons,
not?"

"Yes. You're mighty cute to find that out, when some o' the villagers
don't even suspect it. I'm _his_ gal."

"Ish _dot_ a fact?"

"Yes, but he don't own me, because I denounce his dishonesty. Ha! ha!
an old man was found dead on the beach once. The next day my papa had
a big sum of money in his possession. I smelled foul play. I stole the
money from him and burned it up. Ha! ha! Then he whipped me
unmercifully, and turned me adrift. But, pooh! I don't care! I get
along famous, and I'll make fun for the smugglers yet. So if you want
me to go to the telegraph station for you, and will give me a few
shillings, I'm ready."

"I'll giff you five dollars!" Fritz assured.

"Bully!" the girl assented. "Now, just tell me what you want, and I'm
yours."

"Vel, I vant you to go to der delegraph office und send a message to
Tony Fox, care of Police Headquarters, Philadelphia, telling him to
fetch a half-dozen men der dis village at once. Can you remember
dot?"

"Well, you bet I can! I don't forget things easily. Give us your
money, and I'm off for a wild horseback ride."

Fritz accordingly gave her a V-note, and then, after again instructing
her what to do, she took her departure by clambering up the bluff.

Fritz then lay down upon the sand in the warm sunlight, little
dreaming that his plans had been overheard.

The Irishman, Pat Grogan, had been concealed behind another bowlder,
and had over heard every word of Fritz's conversation with Silly Sue.

Shortly after her departure, and when sure Fritz was not watching, he
stole softly from his place of concealment and up the side of the
bluff.

Once on top of the bluff, he quickened his pace, descended the
opposite side, and hurried toward the village. At the residence of
Granville Greyville he paused, and entered the spacious lawn.

His honor and the countess were seated upon the lawn in front of the
house, enjoying the shade of a great tree, and Grogan tipped his hat
as he approached them.

"Sure, sur, it's mesilf as has made a discovery, sur," he said, with a
huge grin of satisfaction.

"Ah! indeed! I thought you might be of some use!" his honor replied,
complacently. "What is the nature of your discovery, Grogan?"

"Sure, sur, it's consarnin' the girl you set me to watchin'."

"As I expected--curse her! What new devilment has she been up to?"

"Sure I did kape a civil eye on her, as yez told me to, and a bit ago
she met a Dutchman on the beach, an' it's a grand plot tha be afther
organizin'. The loikes av the Dutchman he ha wanted to ba sindin' a
tiligraph missage to Philadelphia for tha detectives, an tha gal she
did till him for a V she would stale a horse forninst your pasture an'
be carryin' the missage for him hersilf, whereat he forked over the
cash, and she skipped, bedad!"

His honor listened, his face growing purple with passion.

"May all the furies seize that obstinate and meddlesome little
wretch!" he hissed. "She seems determined to ruin me. No amount of
whippings have ever served to make her like other girls. Why didn't
you stop her, Pat?"

"Sure, it was yersilf as told me to be doin' naught else but watchin'
her."

"True, I had forgotten. She has probably gone so far that it would be
next to useless to attempt to overhaul her now. Do you think you could
mount a horse and overtake her, Pat?"

"Bedad, no. It's sorry a horse I can ride, yer honor."

"Then ascertain from the ostler the location of the pasture, and when
she returns capture her. I'll give you ten dollars for the job."

"Bad 'cess to me if I don't do it. An' what shall I be doin' to her
after I cotch 'er?"

"Then take her to the old mansion on the bluff and wait until I come."

"Och! howly murther, I'll not go in where the skelegon is--nary a
time!"

"Nor need you. What time intervenes between your arrival and mine you
can spend outside. But look sharp she don't escape you."

"Sure, it's mesilf as will ba doin' that same!"

Then Grogan executed a grotesque bow and took his departure toward the
stable, while Greyville turned toward the countess.

"The devil will be to pay now. As I suspected, that Dutchman is a spy,
and having suspicioned or ferreted out some knowledge concerning the
league, has sent for his fellow watch-dogs. In less than two days we
shall be in the clutches of the law, unless we make a break for
liberty at once."

"Oh! there is no particular reason for hurry. When we find there is
danger, we can easily escape," the countess said, calmly.

"How? If we wait until their arrival, it will be too late."

"By no means. My steamboat lies out but a short distance, and we can
board it and sail for _la belle_ France, in defiance."

"What! without unloading?"

"Bah! what are a few thousand dollars to life? Besides, the goods will
sell again, for full value, at Havre."



CHAPTER XI.

A FATHER'S BRUTALITY.


After the departure of Silly Sue, Fritz sunned himself until his
garments were dried; then rising, he began to cast about him for
something to eat.

"I don'd know better I go back mit der tavern, or not!" he mused. "I
dinks dot vas an onhealthy blace, und yet I vould like somedings to
ead, very bad."

Climbing to the top of the bluff, he passed the old mansion, and
followed the country road for some distance, in hopes of finding an
orchard or watermelon patch. And he was successful.

About a mile distant he came to a good-sized orchard, near no human
habitation, and hastily made a raid on it, with the result of
discovering all the luscious eating harvest apples he could carry.

Filling his pockets he made his way back to the old rookery, and sat
down upon the front step to finish his meal.

"I vonder vot's pecome of der villain I kicked mit der under jaw?" he
muttered.

"I t'ink I must haff dislocated 'im or I should 'a' seed him. I vonder
vere der mouth off der well is, anyhow, vot dey come up t'rough. Id
must pe somevere's vere der house stands, und probably hidden."

After he finished his meal on apples, he entered the old dwelling,
with a view to giving it another exploration.

Passing through the lower hall, he tried each door opening off from
it, but found them all locked, as before.

What they contained he could therefore not learn, except by bursting
them open or unlocking them, which he had no way of doing.

Finding no success, down-stairs, he went upstairs, remembering that he
had only tried the doors of part of the upper rooms, on his previous
visit, the second one being the assembly chamber containing the
swinging head of ill-fated Bill Budge.

He shunned this apartment now, and passed on along the corridor.

The first and second doors he tried were locked, like those below. The
third door, however, was unfastened, and opening it he entered a
large unfurnished apartment, containing but one window, which looked
out upon the ocean.

Noticing a card tacked upon the wall, opposite the door, Fritz
advanced to read what was written upon it.

But, that, he was destined never to do. Halfway across the room he
got--then the floor sunk quickly beneath him, and he went down! down!
down!

He had stepped upon a trap, which had evidently been prepared for
occasional stragglers, and he was the unsuspecting victim, until too
late to save himself.

Down! down! he went into empty space, until he struck heavily upon a
hard floor, and lay for a moment in a heap, his senses partly leaving
him. When he recovered consciousness, he arose to his feet. He was in
utter darkness, and in a place where the air was close and stifling.
What kind of a den he had fallen into he could not ascertain by
looking, at least.

       *       *       *       *       *

Later that day Mr. Granby Greyville left his handsome residence, and
made his way to the bluff, accompanied by her ladyship, the countess.

There was a terrible expression of stern resolve upon his countenance,
and in his grasp he carried an ugly-looking cart-whip, which looked as
if it were capable of inflicting dire pain in the hands of a human
brute.

Arriving at the top of the bluff, they found Grogan, the Irish
delegate, seated upon the doorstep of the old house, while, lying upon
the ground, in front of him, was the girl, Sue, bound, hand and foot,
but none the less defiant for that fact, as was evident by the
contemptuous curl of her lip, and the indignant, wicked flash of her
eyes.

A little shiver went over her, though, when she saw the countess, the
man she knew as her father, and the whip he carried.

"Sure, it's mesilf as cotched her," Grogan cried, as Greyville
approached. "But it's the devil's own time I had at it, bedad, an' if
yez don't b'lave it ye kin look at me face. Begorra! she scratched an'
bit an' fit loike tha very devil's imp she is!" and the Hibernian
rubbed his torn and bruised visage dolefully.

"So you're caged, are you, my young tigress?" the smuggler captain
demanded, gazing down at the girl, wrathfully. "I'll see that you
never break loose hereafter!"

"Ba-aa!" the girl retorted, in contempt. "I'm not afraid of you, you
ruffianly wretch, if you do carry a whip. You can whip me, pound me,
stamp me into the earth, but you can't intimidate me. I'll despise and
defy you to the longest day I live!"

"We shall see. I've made up my mind to cease dealing mildly with you,
and instead, treat you to the harshness your foolishness demands. It's
time you were broken in, and I'm going to compel you to submission to
my will, and to obedience, or I'm going to kill you."

"Kill, if you like--I'll still defy you. You can not make me obey a
monster like you, even though you are my father! I despise you, hate
you, you inhuman wretch!"

"A good flogging will bring back your affection. By the way, I
understand that by way of amusing yourself you have become the consort
of a Dutch detective, and by way of furthering his game, have just
been to telegraph for an additional force of the devils. Now do you
know what I am going to do?"

"Any one might guess; brutal cowards always carry whips!"

"Yes, I'm going to whip you within an inch of your life. Then, if you
promise me to ever after obey me, and tell me where to find the money
you stole from me, I will let you go. If you refuse I'll kill you, and
end the trouble! Grogan, lash her securely to yonder post!"

The Irishman obeyed by raising her and roping her to a post which had
been used for a hitching-post, at some remote period.

Sue's face was very pale now, and she trembled in dread of the cruel
lash.

It was not the first time she had been whipped by him, and she well
knew what a merciless wretch he was.

Greyville threw off his coat now, and seized the heavy whip firmly,
not a tithe of pity expressed in his stern, cruel face.

"Beg, now!" he cried. "Tell me where the money is, and promise future
obedience and proper conduct, or I'll give it to you!"

"Never! I'll die first!" Sue gasped.

The next instant the wretch struck her with all his might, following
one blow with another, until he had struck her twenty, the last one
being upon the top of the head, with the butt of the whip.

White as death was Sue, but her eyes flashed bravely, her face was
defiant--but she never uttered a moan or cry of pain.

"Now--_now_ maybe you'll come to time!" the smuggler roared, more like
some enraged wild beast than a human being, in his demoniac fury.
"Now, will you tell and promise?"

"Never, monster!" was the low, piteous gasp, then the eyes of the poor
outcast closed; she had fainted, unable longer to endure the agony.



CHAPTER XII.

A PITIFUL END.


The situation of Fritz was to him a decidedly gloomy one, as, owing to
the impenetrable darkness his eyesight was of no use whatever. He did
not know either, if it was safe to stir, as there might be another
trap which he would fall into, and go headlong down into some other
pit.

But he resolved to test the matter, and feel out the boundaries of his
new prison at once.

Groping about, inch by inch, and trying the floor in front of him
before trusting the weight of his body upon it, he soon came to a
plastered wall, and concluded by that, that he still remained in the
building, having probably only fallen to the first floor.

"Vel, dot don'd vas so pad ash I first expected," he muttered, feeling
a little more assured. "I t'ought I vas goin' vay down to der blace
vere dey manufacture fire-crackers. Der next question, ish der any
outlet to dis brison, I vonder?"

Keeping his hands upon the wall, he walked several times around the
dark apartment without pausing.

"Der ish not von door or vinder, nor hole of any kind!" he finally
muttered. "I would not haff such a house for a gift."

The room indeed appeared to be barren of those accessories, as far as
he was able to learn by the sense of feeling, and it would seem that
it was thus purposely prepared for a prison.

"Vel, I guess I might as vel prepare to imitate der example off Doctor
Tanner, und go vidout somedings to eat for forty years or so!" Fritz
muttered, feeling of his stomach dolefully, for the apples had far
from satisfied his appetite. "But, if possible, I must get oud off
here, somehow, before Fox und der boys get here."

Just how he was to do it furnished him a serious subject to ponder on.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Curse the girl! she's fainted!" the smuggler chief cried, pausing in
his horrible work.

"Perhaps she is playing off, to escape punishment," the countess
suggested, with a malicious smile. "The American mademoiselle is very
deceitful!"

"Faint or no faint, she shall get all that her stubborn resistance
demands!" Greyville growled, mercilessly, and he raised the whip and
struck her another stinging blow.

"Stop! Strike that girl again and I'll kill you!" a voice cried, not
far in their rear, and turning, they beheld a stranger rushing up, a
pair of cocked revolvers in hand.

"Furies!" Greyville gasped, turning pale.

"_Mon Dieu!_ what's to pay? Let's fly!" from the countess.

"No! we will stand our ground!" the smuggler hissed.

The new-comer soon stood before them, with stern, accusing gaze, and a
face flushed from his run.

"Devils!" he cried, "what is the meaning of this brutal scene? Explain
instantly."

It was the Leadville speculator, Thornton, who spoke, and there was
grim business expressed in his tone.

"What right have you to intrude in what is none of your business?"
Greyville demanded, sourly.

"Eh! I'll show you, you brutal puppy! Don't give me any of your lip,
or I'll blow your brains out. Why, cuss my boots, you're as bad as the
Dog Injuns on the frontier!"

"I presume I've a right to chastise my own child, sir, when her
conduct deserves it!"

"That's not your child, Garry Gregg! I know you. You are the wretch I
have been longing to meet these ten years!"

"You know me?" the smuggler cried, in amazement.

"Ay! I know you!" the Westerner cried. "You are the worthless devil
who trapped Minnie Gray into a secret marriage years ago, and after
living with her a couple of years, and abusing her, left her in
poverty, to live with a woman you had previously married."

"And incurred your enmity by winning your sweetheart away from you!"
Gregg sneered, mockingly.

"Be that as it may, you are responsible for a good woman's death, and
you shall answer for it. Tell me, sir--is this poor child you have
been beating, the daughter of Minnie Gray?"

"If you like, yes."

"Then, curse you, leave this spot at once, if you don't want me to
shoot you down. I'll take care you never strike her again! Go! I say,
or I'll kill you without hesitation!"

There was a stern glare in the speculator's eyes that betokened
danger, and, accompanied by the countess and Grogan, the smuggler
chief hurried away.

As soon as they had gone, Mr. Thornton cut the bonds that held Silly
Sue to the post, and laid her tenderly down upon the soft grass.

Hurrying down to the beach, he procured some water in his hat, and
returning, dashed it in her face.

But although he did this, and chafed her hands and wrists, she did not
open her eyes. Her breath came in stifled gasps, and her heart beat
slowly.

"By Heaven! I believe they have killed her!" Mr. Thornton muttered,
feelings of terrible rage swelling within him. "The equal of this
brutality is seldom, even among the red devils on the frontier. Ah!
Garry Gregg, if this poor child dies, you shall pay bitterly for her
life, or my name is not Thornton!"

He continued faithfully in his endeavors to bring her back to
consciousness, but all to no avail.

While he was thus engaged there came sounds of rapid footsteps, and
Hal Hartly dashed up, flushed and excited.

"Great Heaven! what is the matter with Susie?" he demanded, on seeing
her lying on the ground, so cold and white.

"I fear she is dying, young man," Mr. Thornton replied, solemnly. "I
can not restore her to consciousness. Was she anything to you, sir?"

"Indeed, yes; she was all the world to me, poor child, and we were to
be married, one of these days!" Hartly replied, kneeling beside her,
with tears in his eyes. "Susie! oh! Susie, my little waif, can't you
look up and speak to me?"

The girl slowly opened her eyes, and gazed up at him, with a loving
smile.

"Yes, Hal, I know. I am dying, Hal. Where is Fritz?"

"I don't know, darling. I have not seen him since morning."

"Well, when you see him, tell him I sent the message, and got an
answer that the detectives would come."

"The detectives?"

"Yes. I went for him, to telegraph for them, and he gave me five
dollars. It is in my pocket, Hal--you can have it, to get me a little,
plain stone for my grave."

"But, Susie, you can't be dying--tell me what is the matter?"

"She has been cruelly beaten. I came here a few moments ago and drove
off the devils, but I fear I came too late!" Mr. Thornton explained,
sadly.

"It was papa, you know!" Sue added, as Hartly uttered a cry of
astonishment. "He discovered the errand I had done, and had a big
Irishman capture me and bring me here. Then he and the countess came,
and I was tied to a stake and whipped till I fainted. They have killed
me, I guess. I feel as if I am filling up inside, and something tells
me I shall soon die. I hate to leave you, Hal, but I am not afraid to
die. I have always said my prayers, loved the Lord, and been honest,
and I know He will receive me."

The girl's childish faith and simplicity touched Mr. Thornton as well
as young Hartly, and tears flowed freely.

The little outcast soon closed her eyes again, her arms about Hartly's
neck, as she rested in his embrace, and a peaceful expression of
contentment upon her face.

About sunset she spoke, without opening her eyes.

"Hal!" she said, softly.

"Yes, Susie," he replied; "what do you wish?"

"Not much. After I am gone burn the old house yonder, and break up the
smugglers."

"Yes, Susie."

"And you'll be a good man, Hal, all your life, so you will join me in
heaven?"

"I will try, dearest."

"Then kiss me good-by."

Convulsed with sobs, the grief-stricken lover obeyed, and, just as the
last rays of sunset began to fade, Susie breathed her last, expiring
without the least appearance of pain, and a faint, peaceful smile upon
her lips.

For some moments after her death neither Hartly nor Mr. Thornton
spoke, but finally the latter said:

"She has gone where she will know no more suffering or sorrow and it
is perhaps better so. Is your home near by?"

"I live in a sort of hut back in the woods, and if you will lend a
hand we will take her there."

The speculator assented, and Hartly procured a wide board, and laid
the limp form upon it. Then raising the primitive litter between them,
they left the bluff and took to the lonely country road, which they
followed until they came to a rude shanty, standing in the edge of
the woods. They bore their burden into the only room and deposited it
upon a couple of stools.

Hartly then turned to Mr. Thornton.

"You are a stranger to us, sir," he said, "but would you kindly remain
here until I can go to a neighboring town and make arrangements for
her burial?"

"Certainly, my boy."

"Then I will go and send the undertakers at once to take charge of the
remains. If I do not return with the undertakers, let them remove the
body, and I will see you later, perhaps."

He then kissed the lips and forehead of the dead girl, and took his
departure.

Once outside, his whole demeanor underwent a change.

His face became stern and hard in its expression, and his eyes gleamed
with a wild light that could hardly have been pronounced sane.

"First the house!" he muttered, between his clinched teeth; "then I
will see to the burial. After that revenge!"--words uttered with a
power of feeling, which bespoke grim resolution.

Hurrying back to the bluff he entered the building, and from the
pantry brought an oil-can and poured oil about in a number of
different places, applying a lighted match to each.

As a result, bright sheets of flame sprung up, and, in less time
almost than it takes to tell it, the interior of the old rookery was
on fire in several places.

Then, with a wild laugh, he turned and fled from the building, and
disappeared from the vicinity of the bluff.

The old house was doomed.

And in the doorless, windowless trap-room, where he had so
unexpectedly become imprisoned, was Fritz, in the most unenviable
situation one could well conceive.

       *       *       *       *       *

Captain Gregg, as we shall henceforth call him, learned of Silly Sue's
death shortly after it occurred through the Irishman, who, while
pretending to leave the spot, had scouted around, and lurked in the
vicinity until Hartly and Mr. Thornton had departed with the body.

Gregg was both alarmed and surprised when he heard the news, and
immediately sought the countess for consultation.

He had no idea he had done the girl any fatal bodily injury. If she
was dead, and the cause of her death came to be known, he well knew
that he would be called upon to answer to the law.

The countess listened to his recital of Grogan's report, the lines in
her thin face growing even harder than were their wont.

"I feared zis," she said. "You were ver' mooch savage!"

"What do you advise?"

"Zat we remain where we be for ze present. You say zis stranger be an
old enemy of yours?"

"Yes. Doubly so now, from a fact that he is the father of Grif's
prisoner, that's locked up in the dungeon."

"Humph! zis is bad! Vare be ze Dutchman?"

"There is no telling. Perhaps Griffith will know when he comes."

But Griffith did not come.

It was nearly dark in the outer world when he recovered from the
terrible blow he had got from Fritz's pistol in the cave, and
staggered to the inner cavern.

The moment he entered it a smell of burning timbers greeted his
nostrils.

"By Heaven! the house above is burning up, I believe!" he cried,
rushing to the rope ladder and beginning to climb it rapidly.

But he had only got a few feet up when it gave way, and he fell to the
ground, considerably bruised.

"The devil's to pay now!" he muttered, angrily. "A fellow will smother
down here."

For a moment the young villain stood irresolute--then he approached
the door of Madge Thornton's cell.

"Madge!" he called.

There was no answer.

"Madge!" he shouted, in a louder tone, at the same time rattling the
door, savagely.

"Well, what do you want?" she demanded, rising from her cot.

"I want to know if you want to escape from this place alive?"

"Why, what is the matter?"

"Matter enough! The old house above is burning down, and if you don't
want to suffocate you must leave this place at once, with me."

"Well, why don't you open the door, then?"

He was unlocking the great padlock even as he spoke.

"I am perfectly willing to do so, and when you reveal to me the
hiding-place of your father's money, which you had, when you left
Leadville, you are free to go," he said, standing the doorway.

"Are you foolish enough to suppose for one moment, that I will reveal
that?"

"If you don't do it, curse you, I will leave you here to suffocate!"

"Do so! I would cheerfully pay that penalty of my folly in ever having
anything to do with you, a hundred times, rather than submit to your
demands."

"Then--but no! I'll release you if you'll give me half of the sum."

"Not a cent, you detestable wretch."

"Curses on your obstinacy! You have refused to do what is right, and
you shall take the the consequences."

Stepping back he reclosed the door angrily, and hastily relocked the
padlock; then he left the main chamber, for the outer one, and jumped
into the boat.

The tide was now on the ebb, and the water was now down so that he
could row out of the hole into the ocean.

As soon as he got out a grand sight met his gaze.

The old house on top of the bluff was in a sheet of lurid flame,
lighting up the early evening, which otherwise was quite dark.

Showers of sparks ascended toward the heavens, and the crackling of
the dancing blaze made weird music.

Pulling in to shore, Griffith Gregg leaped from the boat, and
clambered up the side of the bluff.

The first man he met was Thornton of Leadville, who had fastened up
the hut, and hurried to the scene of the conflagration, as soon as he
had discovered the light.

The recognition was mutual, and each uttered a cry.

"At last!" the speculator cried, and he bounded forward, and seized
his enemy by the throat. Gregg clinched with him, and the two men
rolled to the ground, in a fierce struggle, the lurid light of the
burning building lighting up the scene like unto the colored fire to
some wild exciting drama.



CHAPTER XIII.

CONCLUSION.


The struggle was short and decisive.

Supple though the younger Gregg was, he was no match for the man from
Leadville, and it was not long ere Mr. Thornton had his man pinned
firmly beneath him, so that he could not move.

By this time the villagers had arrived upon the scene, in numbers, and
stood contemplating the scene, in wonder.

"What is the matter here?" one of them demanded, stepping forward.
"Who set fire to this building?"

"That I am not prepared to say, as I just came," Mr. Thornton replied,
"but I know that I have captured one of the worst villains living. Is
there an officer of the law among you? If so, I want him to take this
devil into immediate custody, and watch well that he don't escape."

"I am a constable, but I must first know what charge you have against
this young man of highly respected family," another villager said.

"Charges enough to hang him higher than Haman, if you like," the
speculator cried. "He has my daughter imprisoned somewhere, in hopes
of extorting money from me; he is wanted in Leadville, Colorado, for
no less than three cold-blooded murders, and also for horse-theft, and
I've got papers to show for it!"

"It's a lie! It's a mistake! This man is crazy!" young Gregg shouted.
"I appeal to you for protection, gentlemen!"

"Protection you shall have, sir, by law, if you deserve it!" the
constable replied, slipping a pair of hand-cuffs upon the young man's
wrists.

"Now, sir"--to Mr. Thornton--"permit me to examine your papers."

The speculator drew a package of documents from an inside coat-pocket,
and the officer gave them a critical examination.

"They are all right," he said, returning them.

"For the present, I will leave the scoundrel in your charge--until I
recover my lost daughter!" Mr. Thornton said.

"That you will never do, curse you!" Griffith Gregg hissed, savagely.
"You've sealed her doom, in tackling me, and you may as well put a
mourning band around your hat."

"What! do you dare to tell me my daughter is in peril, sir?"

"Well, that remains to be told. It is according to whether I am
released or not. If not, most assuredly you will never see her or the
money she stole, for if I am to answer for all the charges you have
preferred against me, I can just as well add a few more, without any
inconvenience."

"We shall see about that. I think a rigid search will find her.
Officer, remove him to a place of safety, until I determine upon a
future course of action."

The constable accordingly took his departure, marching the younger
Gregg with him.

The fire had by this time gained great headway.

It leaped in great crackling volumes from the roof, and burst through
the sides in fiery forks. The whole interior was a seething furnace of
lurid flame, and timbers were already beginning to fall in.

"Where is Silly Sue?" some one cried, and the question went from mouth
to mouth. "She sometimes sleeps in the old house."

"Silly Sue, as you call her, is dead," Mr. Thornton announced.

"Dead!" the villagers exclaimed, gathering around him--"Silly Sue
dead?"

"Yes, dead, and lies in the shanty down the road, belonging to Hal
Hartly, who has gone to some neighboring town to arrange for her
burial!" the speculator said. Then he related what he knew concerning
the brutal whipping she had had, at the hands of Gregg senior.

A murmur of indignation ran through the crowd as he spoke, and though
some of the men did not cry out against the guilty man, the majority
were greatly excited.

"Do you swear this is true?" one of the villagers cried, angrily.

"Ay--swear it a hundred times, if you like. If you have any doubts on
the matter, it will take but a few moments to examine the poor child's
form, upon which welts and bloody cuts yet remain to be seen."

"Then, I for one propose we give Greyville as good as he meted out!"
the man cried, whose name was Tompkins. "I always had a private idea
that he was a villain, and now I need no further proof to confirm it.
All in favor of hauling him out and lynching him, make manifest by
saying 'I.'"

There was a decisive shout among all but about ten of the men, who
maintained a grim silence.

"Lynching is a crime, gentlemen," Mr. Thornton said, "in the East,
which would render you liable. It can do no harm to give the human
monster a taste of the whip, however, and then turn him over to the
rigor of the law."

"Perhaps you are right," Tompkins agreed. "Come along, boys! We'll
teach the wretch that he must be civilized, if he will live in a
civilized country!"

And the sturdy villager led off, the whole crowd following in his rear
with indignant faces.

There was indeed a dark look-out for Captain Gregg.

From his library window in the village mansion he was watching the
fire, and saw the crowd march in a funeral-like procession down from
the bluff along the beach toward the village.

The countess saw, too, and compressed her lips tightly.

"Ze crisis is coming!" she hissed, sharply--so sharply that he started
violently. "Ze crowd has heard of ze girl's death, and are coming for
you."

He turned deathly pale; they would show him no mercy, as he had shown
none to Susie, he well knew.

"We must escape from here, somehow!" he cried. "To submit to arrest
means death--for you as well as myself."

"How so?"

"Did you not witness the whipping without attempting to interfere?" he
sneered. "They'd string you up as quick as I--especially when
investigation came to prove you to be Madame Lisset, the notorious
French smuggler."

The woman's turn it was to whiten now, and a suppressed curse escaped
from between her clinched teeth.

"I vas one big fool for evaire anchoring here, or having you for me
agent," she replied. "Somesing must be done, and zat vera quick. What
s'all it be?"

"There is but one course--flight. Go to my room and get all the money
and jewels there. When you come back, I will be ready."

She obeyed, and in a very short space of time returned, dressed ready
for escape.

Leaving the house by the rear door, they skulked hurriedly along a
narrow lane.

This soon brought them out into the country, and into an orchard.

Without pausing, the chief of smugglers made a wide _detour_, which
finally brought them out upon the beach, half a mile north of the
village, and directly opposite the steamer "Countess," which lay a
good two miles out at sea, at anchor.

A light row-boat was drawn upon the beach. This Gregg pushed off into
the water, and sprung in, the countess following him. Then, seizing
the oars, he pulled with all his skill and strength toward the
steamer.

At the same time, a boat manned by half a dozen men, pulled out from
the beach in front of the village, and this, too, was headed toward
the steamer.

"Ha! they've suspected our dodge!" Gregg growled, on discovering the
pursuit. "Curse them! I did not think discovery of our flight would be
made so quickly."

"Will zey reach ze boat first?"

"By no means. I've got the start, and the steamer is a good half a
mile farther from them than us, if not more!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us look after Fritz.

The roof of the old rookery on the bluff has just fallen in, and
millions of sparks go up toward the cloudy sky.

Is the young detective still within that old building?

He had heard Hartly, when he ran through the house, setting fire to
it, and had yelled at the top of his voice for assistance.

But, either Hartly had not heard or did not heed his cries, for no
assistance came.

Out in the hall, which adjoined the doorless room, the flames soon
began to crackle ominously, and the pungent smell of smoke crept
through the wall to his nostrils.

For a few moments Fritz stood transfixed with horror, as the peril of
his situation began to dawn upon him.

He knew by the smell that the house was on fire; he knew that if he
did not make a hasty escape he would be consumed in the merciless
flames.

What was he to do?

Really, what was there he _could_ do?

He rushed about, scarcely aware what he was doing.

Suddenly his foot caught upon something, and he fell violently to the
floor.

In all his after life he could look back with gladness upon that
mishap, as it was the means of saving him from an awful death.

Quickly scrambling to his feet, he searched the floor; a moment later
his hand came in contact with an iron ring. Pulling upon it, he raised
a trap in the floor, disclosing a large aperture leading down into
another pit below, which he concluded was a cellar.

Without pausing to consider what he was doing, he dropped down through
the hole.

Anything was preferable to the horrible danger above.

He landed upon his feet upon a hard bottom of the cellar into which he
had leaped.

In a moment thereafter there was a crash, and a portion of the rear
roof over the cellar fell in.

The light of the burning timbers now gave him a view of his situation.

The cellar ran in under the whole of the house, and was nearly filled
with boxes. The only stairway had been covered by the caving in of the
floor, thus closing this avenue of escape.

The caving in, in turn, had been mainly caused by the falling of a
heavy girder, from the second floor.

Directly in front of where Fritz had landed was a large well-like hole
in the ground, that looked as if it might be very deep, and his only
wonder was that he had not stepped off into it, in the darkness that
had prevailed immediately after he had struck into the cellar.

"I vonder off dot vas a well, or ish der hole vot leads down into der
cavern," he muttered, peering over the edge. "If der latter vos der
case, I'm all righd, providin' I can git down. But off id vos a well,
den I vos a gone sucker sure. I don'd see anydings off der
rope-ladder."

Looking above his head, he however, discovered where a staple had been
recently drawn out of a joist, and this satisfied him that it had been
where the ladder had been fastened to, and that the hole was the same
that penetrated into the cavern in the bluff.

"Der next t'ing vas to get down dere," he muttered. "If I jump, like
ash not I preak mine neck, und den I pe ash pad off ash before, of not
vorse."

There seemed no other way of getting down, however, and he resolved to
take his chances, rather than remain in the cellar and become a target
for the fallen fiery timbers.

With a prayer for safety he made the uncertain leap.

Down--down--down he went with a velocity that took his breath, and he
knew no more, except being conscious of striking the earth with a
heavy jar.

When he recovered his senses he was in the outer cave, and Madge
Thornton was kneeling over him, chafing his hands.

The cavern was dense with smoke, and breathing was difficult.

Fritz comprehended the situation at once and sat up.

"I vas come down like a t'ousand of bricks, eh?" he smiled, feeling of
his limbs to learn if any of them were seriously damaged. "I forgot
all apoud vere I vas going all at vonce. How you got oud off der
dungeon?"

"Good luck would have it that Griffith, in his passion should have
thrown the bolt of the padlock when the catch was not in, so I easily
reached out my hand, drew the padlock off, and got out into the
chamber," Madge replied. "What is the matter? Is the old house
burning?"

"Yes. We must get oud off here or ve shoke to death. Off it gets too
deep, I vil swim mit you t'rough dot hole."

He accordingly arose to his feet, and raising her in his arms, he
waded toward the aperture, and outside of the cavern, around to the
southern beach, the water in the deepest place but reaching to his
throat.

"By shimminy dunder, I feel yoost like ash if I vas tickled to death,
t'ings haff turned oud so vell," Fritz cried, as he placed Madge on
her feet. "A vile ago I vas ash goot ash guff up for a roasted
Dutchman; now I vas oud, und so vas you, und I feel better ash a
spring lamb."

"Are you sure we are out of danger?"

"Vel, no, not eggsactly sure, but I t'ink ve pe all righd now. Yoost
you sday here in der shadow off yer pluff, vile I skirmish aroundt und
see vot's to pay."

She accordingly did as directed, while he clambered up the side of the
bluff, bent on reconnoisance.

The first man and only man he met was Mr. Thornton, who had hurried
back from the village to the bluff as soon as Captain Gregg was
discovered missing, to keep watch in the vicinity.

He uttered a cry of joy as he saw Fritz.

"Why, bless you, boy, I never expected to see you again!" he cried,
shaking the young detective by the hand.

"Und you come purdy near id, too, you can bet a half-dollar, Mr.
Thornton, for I yoost got oud off der building here in time to save
mine vool. But I haff got your daughter, und der monish vas safe!"

"What! you do not tell me this for a fact, Fritz?"

"Vel, off I don'd misdake, it vas. Yoost vait here, und I pring you
der girl. Ash to der money, she vas no fool, und put it avay vere she
can get it again."

He vanished, only to reappear a few minutes later, accompanied by
Madge.

Then followed a touching scene. The speculator received his lost
daughter with open arms; there were explanations, and kisses, and
tears, and laughs, and the reunion was now complete.

Leaving them to their joy, let us take a concluding glance at the
ocean race, which was in the meantime transpiring.

The pursuers saw Gregg pull out from the shore as soon as he saw them;
and they tugged at their oars with a will.

"Pull, boys!" Tompkins cried, from his position at the steering-oar.
"See! the woman is waving her handkerchief! That is a signal to the
crew on board to fire up, ready to be off. Pull--pull for your worth!
We must intercept them, if possible, before they board!"

The villagers did pull, with a will, and their boat fairly leaped over
the water.

Tompkins had guessed the truth. The countess's signal did result in
the crew's raising anchor, and in unbanking the slumbering fires, for
huge volumes of smoke almost immediately began to roll from the
smokestacks.

But, pull though they did, with almost super-human efforts, the
pursuers were destined not to win.

Gregg's boat reached the steamer while the villagers were yet eight
minutes distant, and he and the countess clambered aboard. Then the
steamer's whistle gave a defiant shriek, and the craft began to move
away.

As she did so, the pursuers saw a man suddenly leap overboard into the
water.

Pulling on, they came to him, just as he was sinking for the last
time.

It was Hal Hartly, and he was mortally wounded.

He only spoke once after they pulled him aboard; it was to gasp out
faintly:

"She's doomed! I've scuttled her!"

Then the blood spurted from his mouth, and he expired, while the
"Countess" steamed away to sea, and was lost from view, and Captain
Gregg the smuggler was lost from the clutches of the law.

What was the fate of the "Countess" is not definitely known, but she
never again entered the port of Havre, nor was a soul on board of her
ever afterward seen.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Philadelphia detectives who arrived the next day found no one to
arrest, as those on whom suspicion could justly rest, had fled, during
the night.

Susie and Hal Hartly received a respectable burial, at the expense of
Mr. Thornton; then, after paying Fritz as promised, the sum of five
thousand dollars, the speculator set out for his Western home,
accompanied by his daughter, and by Griffith Gregg, who was to go back
to the scene of his crimes, for trial.

With his reward money, Fritz immediately returned to Philadelphia, and
soon after purchased an interest in a paying established business,
where he may be seen 'most any day, when not on detective duty, or if
he is out, his pretty wife Rebecca will represent him.





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