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Title: The Ocean Wireless Boys and the Lost Liner
Author: Goldfrap, John Henry, 1879-1917
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Ocean Wireless Boys and the Lost Liner" ***

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[Illustration: There was a sudden blinding flash from the instruments
and a blaze of blue, hissing fire filled the room.]



THE OCEAN WIRELESS BOYS AND THE LOST LINER

BY

CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON

AUTHOR OF “THE BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES,” “THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS’ SERIES,”
“THE OCEAN WIRELESS BOYS ON THE ATLANTIC,” ETC.

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHARLES L. WRENN

NEW YORK

HURST & COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1914

BY HURST & COMPANY



CONTENTS

    CHAPTER I—AT SEA ONCE MORE
    CHAPTER II—WIRELESS CONVERSATIONS
    CHAPTER III—A STRANGE REQUEST
    CHAPTER IV—A PECULIAR COINCIDENCE
    CHAPTER V—THE INTERRUPTED MESSAGE
    CHAPTER VI—A DARING FEAT
    CHAPTER VII—QUARTERMASTER SCHULTZ VOLUNTEERS
    CHAPTER VIII—SAFE ONCE MORE
    CHAPTER IX—THE MIDNIGHT INTRUDER
    CHAPTER X—A MESSAGE IN SECRET CODE
    CHAPTER XI—WHAT SAM HEARD
    CHAPTER XII—A SUDDEN ALARM
    CHAPTER XIII—A DOSE OF SLEEPING POWDER
    CHAPTER XIV—THE WINKING EYE
    CHAPTER XV—SECRET SIGNALS AT DAWN
    CHAPTER XVI—S. O. S.
    CHAPTER XVII—A DERELICT OF THE SKIES
    CHAPTER XVIII—A LEAP FOR A LIFE
    CHAPTER XIX—A CALL IN THE NIGHT
    CHAPTER XX—TO THE RESCUE
    CHAPTER XXI—A TALE OF THE SEA
    CHAPTER XXII—A DECOY MESSAGE
    CHAPTER XXIII—FALSE FRIENDSHIP
    CHAPTER XXIV—KIDNAPPED
    CHAPTER XXV—SAM, A TRUE FRIEND
    CHAPTER XXVI—A WICKED PLAN
    CHAPTER XXVII—IN THE LION’S MOUTH
    CHAPTER XXVIII—A CLIMB FOR LIFE
    CHAPTER XXIX—FREEDOM ONCE MORE
    CHAPTER XXX—IN SEARCH FOR A CLEW
    CHAPTER XXXI—LOOK FOR A WHITE HORSE
    CHAPTER XXXII—A BOLD ROBBERY
    CHAPTER XXXIII—JARROLD AGAIN
    CHAPTER XXXIV—BAD NEWS FOR THE COLONEL
    CHAPTER XXXV—JARROLD GETS FRANTIC
    CHAPTER XXXVI—ADRIFT
    CHAPTER XXXVII—THE IRONY OF FATE
    CHAPTER XXXVIII—A BOLT FROM THE BLUE
    CHAPTER XXXIX—JACK’S RADIO
    CHAPTER XL—THE ANSWER TO THE WIRELESS CALL



CHAPTER I

AT SEA ONCE MORE


The West Indian liner, _Tropic Queen_, one of the great vessels owned by
the big shipping combine at whose head was Jacob Jukes, the New York
millionaire, was plunging southward through a rolling green sea about
two hundred miles to the east of Hatteras. It was evening and the bugle
had just sounded for dinner.

The decks were, therefore, deserted; the long rows of lounging chairs
were vacant, while the passengers, many of them tourists on pleasure
bent, were below in the dining saloon appeasing the keen appetites
engendered by the brisk wind that was blowing off shore.

In a small steel structure perched high on the boat deck, between the
two funnels of the _Tropic Queen_, sat a bright-faced lad reading
intently a text-book on Wireless Telegraphy. Although not much more than
a schoolboy, he was assistant wireless man of the _Queen_. His name was
Sam Smalley, and he had obtained his position on the ship—the crack
vessel of the West Indies and Panama line—through his chum, Jack Ready,
head operator of the craft.

To readers of the first volume of this series, “The Ocean Wireless Boys
on the Atlantic,” Jack Ready needs no introduction.

Here he comes into the wireless room where his assistant sits reading in
front of the gleaming instruments and great coherers. Jack has been off
watch, lying down and taking a nap in the small sleeping cabin that,
equipped with two berths, opens off the wireless room proper, thus
dividing the steel structure into two parts.

“Hello, chief,” said Sam Smalley, with a laugh, as Jack appeared; “glad
you’re going to give me a chance to get to dinner at last. I’m so hungry
I could eat a coherer.”

“Skip along then,” grinned Jack; “but it’s nothing unusual for you to be
hungry. I’ll hold down the job till you get through, but leave something
for me.”

“I’ll try to,” chuckled Sam, as he hurried down the steep flight of
steps leading from the wireless station up on the boat deck to the main
saloon.

“Well, this is certainly a different berth from the one I had on the old
_Ajax_,” mused Jack, as he looked about him at the well-equipped
wireless room; “still, somehow, I like to look back at those days. But
yet this is a long step ahead for me. Chief wireless operator of the
_Tropic Queen_! Lucky for me that the uncle of the fellow who held down
the job before me left him all that money. Otherwise I might have been
booked for another cruise on the _Ajax_, although Mr. Jukes promised to
give me as rapid promotion as he could.”

Readers of the first volume, dealing with Jack Ready and his friends,
will recall how he lived in a queer, floating home with his uncle, Cap’n
Toby. They will also recollect that Jack, who had studied wireless day
and night, was coming home late one afternoon, despondent from a
fruitless hunt for a job, when he was enabled to save the little
daughter of Mr. Jukes from drowning. The millionaire’s gratitude was
deep, and Jack could have had anything he wanted from him.

All he asked, though, was a chance to demonstrate his ability as a
wireless man on the _Ajax_, a big oil tanker which had just been
equipped with such an outfit. He got the job, and then followed many
stirring adventures. He took part in a great rescue at sea, and was able
to frustrate the schemes of some tobacco smugglers who formed part of
the crew of the “tanker.” This task, however, exposed him to grave
danger and almost resulted in his death.

At sea once more, after the smugglers had been apprehended and locked
up, Jack’s keen wireless sense enabled him to solve a problem in
surgery. The _Ajax_ carried no doctor, and when one of the men in the
fireroom was injured, and it appeared that a limb would have to be
amputated, a serious question confronted the captain, who, like most of
his class, possessed a little knowledge of surgery, but not enough to
perform an operation that required so much skill.

The injured man was a chum of Jack’s, and he did not want to see him
lose a limb if it could be helped, or have his life imperiled by
unskillful methods. Yet what was he to do? Finally an idea struck him.
He knew that the big passenger liners all carried doctors. He raised one
by means of the wireless and explained the case. The injured man was
carried into the wireless cabin and laid close to the table. Then, while
the liner’s doctor flung instructions through space, Jack translated
them to the captain. The result was that the man was soon out of danger,
but Jack kept in touch with doctors of other liners till everything was
all right beyond the shadow of a doubt.

This feat gained him no little commendation from his captain and the
owners. Next he was instrumental in saving Mr. Jukes’ yacht which was on
fire at sea. In the panic Mr. Jukes’ son Tom, who was the apple of the
ship-owning millionaire’s eye, was lost. By means of wireless, Jack
located him and reunited father and son.

His promotion was the result, when the regular operator of the _Tropic
Queen_ went west to receive a big legacy left him. As the services of
the retiring operator’s assistant had been unsatisfactory, Jack was
asked to find a successor to him. He selected an old school chum, Sam
Smalley, who had owned and operated a small station in Brooklyn and was
an expert in theory and practice. The ship had now been at sea two days,
and Sam had shown that he was quite capable of the duties of his new
job.

An old quartermaster passed the door of the wireless cabin. He poked his
head in.

“Goot efenings, Yack,” he said, with easy familiarity. “How iss der
birdt cage vurking?”

This was Quartermaster Schultz’s term for the tenuous aërials swung far
aloft to catch wide-flung, whispered space messages and relay them to
the operator’s listening ears.

“The bird cage is all right,” laughed Jack. “Dandy weather, eh?”

The old man, weather-beaten and bronzed by the storms and burning suns
of the seven seas, shook his head.

“Idt is nice now, all righdt,” he said, “but you ought to see der
glass.”

“The barometer? What is the matter with it?”

“Py gollys, I dink der bottom drop oudt off idt. You may have vurk
aheadt of you to-night.”

“You mean that we are in for a big storm?”

“I sure do dot same. Undt ven it comes idt be a lollerpaloozitz. Take my
vurd for dat. Hark!”

The old quartermaster held up a finger.

Far above him in the aërials could be heard a sound like the moaning
bass string of a violin as the wind swept among the copper wires.

“Dot’s der langwitch of Davy Chones,” declared Schultz. “Idt says, ‘Look
oudt. Someding didding.’ I’fe heardt idt pefore, undt I know.”

The old man hurried off on his way forward, and Jack emitted a long
whistle.

“My, won’t there be a lot of seasick passengers aboard to-night! The
company will save money on breakfast to-morrow.”

Just then Sam came back from dinner and Jack was free to go below to his
meal. He was about to relinquish the instruments when there came a
sudden call.

  “To all ships within three hundred miles of Hatteras: Watch out for
  storm of hurricane violence.

  “Briggs, Operator Neptune Beach U. S. Wireless Service.”



CHAPTER II

WIRELESS CONVERSATIONS


Sam was looking over Jack’s shoulder as the young wireless chief of the
_Tropic Queen_ rapidly transcribed the message on a blank.

“Phew! Trouble on the way, eh?” he asked.

“Looks like it. But we need not worry, with a craft like this under our
feet.”

But Sam looked apprehensive.

“What is the trouble? Not scared, are you?” asked Jack, who knew that,
excellent operator though he had shown himself to be, this was Sam’s
first deep-sea voyage.

“N-no. Not that,” hesitated Sam, “but seasickness, you know. And I ate
an awful big dinner.”

“Well, don’t bother about that now. Lots of fellows who have never been
to sea before don’t get sick.”

“I hope that will be my case,” Sam replied, without much assurance in
his voice.

“Here, take this to the captain; hurry it along now,” said Jack, handing
him the dispatch. “I guess he’ll be interested. Wait a minute,” he added
suddenly. “There’s the _Tennyson_ of the Lamport & Holt line talking to
the _Dorothea_ of the United Fruit, and the battleship _Iowa_ is cutting
in. All talking weather.”

It was true. From ship to ship, borne on soundless waves, the news was
being eagerly discussed.

“Big storm on the way,” announced the _Tennyson_.

“We should worry,” came flippantly through the ether from the
_Dorothea_.

“You little fellows better take in your sky-sails and furl your funnels;
you’ll be blown about like chicken feathers in a gale of wind,” came
majestically from Uncle Sam’s big warship.

Then the air was filled with a clamor for more news from the Neptune
Beach operator.

“You fellows give me a pain,” he flashed out, depressing and releasing
his key snappily. “I’ve sent out all I can. Don’t you think I know my
job?”

“Let us know at once when you get anything more,” came commandingly from
the battleship.

“Oh, you _Iowa_, boss of the job, aren’t you?” remarked the flippant
_Dorothea_.

“M-M-M!” (laughter) in the wireless man’s code came from all the others,
Jack included. The air was vibrant with silent chuckles.

“Say, you fellows, what is going on?” came a fresh voice. Oh, yes, every
wireless operator has a “voice.” No two men in the world send alike.

“Hello, who are you?” snapped out Neptune Beach.

“_British King_, of the King Line, Liverpool for Philadelphia. Let us in
on this, will you? What you got?”

“Big storm. Affect all vessels within three hundred miles of Hatteras.
This is Neptune Beach.”

“Thanks, old chap. Won’t bother us, don’t you know,” came back from the
_British King_, whose operator was English. “Kind regards to you
fellows. Hope you don’t get too jolly well bunged up if it hits you.”

“Thanks, Johnny Bull,” from the _Dorothea_. “I reckon we can stand
anything your old steam tea-kettle can.”

The wireless chat ceased. Sam hastened forward to the sacred precincts
of the captain’s cabin, while Jack went below to his belated dinner. As
he went he noticed that the sea was beginning to heave as the dusk
settled down, and the ship was plunging heavily. The wind, too, was
rising. The social hall was brilliantly lighted. From within came
strains of music from the ship’s orchestra. Through the ports, as he
passed along to the saloon companionway, Jack could see men and women in
evening clothes, and could catch snatches of gay conversation and
laughter.

“Humph,” he thought, “if you’d just heard what I have, a whole lot of
you would be getting the doctor to fix you up seasick remedies.”

In the meantime Sam, cap in hand, presented the message to the captain.
The great man took it and read it attentively.

“This isn’t a surprise to me,” said Captain McDonald, “the glass has
been falling since mid-afternoon. Stand by your instruments, lad, and
let me know everything of importance that you catch.”

“Very well, sir.” Sam, who stood in great awe of the captain, touched
his cap and hastened back. He adjusted his “ear muffs,” but could catch
no floating message. The air was silent. He sent a call for Neptune
Beach, but the operator there told him indignantly not to plague him
with questions.

“I’ll send out anything new when I get it,” he said. “Gimme a chance to
eat. I’m no weather prophet, anyhow. I only relay reports from the
government sharps, and they’re wrong half the time. Crack!”

Sam could sense the big spark that crashed across the instruments at
Neptune Beach as the indignant and hungry operator there, harassed by
half a dozen ships for more news, smashed down his sending key.



CHAPTER III

A STRANGE REQUEST


When Jack came on deck again, he thought to himself that it was entirely
likely that the warning sent through space from Neptune Beach would be
verified to the full by midnight. The merriment in the saloon appeared
to be much subdued. The crowd had thinned out perceptibly and hardly
anybody was dancing.

The ship was rolling and plunging like a porpoise in great swells that
ran alongside like mountains of green water. Although it was dark by
this time, the gleam of the lights from the brilliantly illuminated
decks and saloon showed the white tops of the billows racing by.

Just as Jack passed the door leading from the social hall to the deck, a
masculine figure emerged. At the same instant, with a shuddering,
sidelong motion, the _Tropic Queen_ slid down the side of a big sea. The
man who had just come on deck lost his balance and went staggering
toward the rail. The young wireless man caught and steadied him.

In the light that streamed from the door that the man had neglected to
close, Jack saw that he was a thickset personage of about forty,
black-haired and blue-chinned, with an aggressive cast of countenance.

“What the dickens——” he began angrily, and then broke off short.

“Oh! It’s you, is it? The wireless man?”

“The same,” assented Jack.

“Well, this is luck. I was on my way up to your station. On the boat
deck, I believe it is. This will save me trouble.”

The man’s manner was patronizing and offensive. Jack felt his pride
bridling, but fought the feeling back.

“What can I do for you, Mr.—Mr.——”

“Jarrold’s the name; James Jarrold of New York. Have you had any
messages from a yacht—the _Endymion_—for me?”

“Why, no, Mr. Jarrold,” replied Jack wonderingly. “Is she anywhere about
these waters?”

“If she isn’t, she ought to be. How late do you stay on watch?”

“Till midnight. Then my assistant relieves me till eight bells of the
morning watch.”

Mr. Jarrold suddenly changed the subject as they stood at the rail on
the plunging, heaving deck. Somebody had closed the door that he had
left open in his abrupt exit, and Jack could not see his face.

“We’re going to have bad weather to-night?” he asked.

“So it appears. A warning has been sent out to that effect, and the sea
is getting up every moment.”

Mr. Jarrold of New York made a surprising answer to this bit of
information.

“So much the better,” he half muttered. “You are, of course, on duty
every second till midnight?”

“Yes, I’m on the job till my assistant relieves me,” responded the young
wireless chief of the _Tropic Queen_.

“Do you want to make some money?”

“Well, that all depends,” began Jack doubtfully. “You see, I——”

He paused for words. He didn’t want to offend this man Jarrold, who,
after all, was a first-cabin passenger, while he was only a wireless
operator. Yet somehow the man’s manner had conveyed to Jack’s mind that
there was something in his proposal that implied dishonesty to his
employers. Except vaguely, however, he could not have explained why he
felt that way. He only knew that it was so.

Jarrold appeared to read his thoughts.

“You think that I am asking you to undertake something outside your line
of duty?”

“Why, yes. I—must confess I don’t quite understand.”

“Then I shall try to make myself clear.”

“That will be good of you.”

The man’s next words almost took Jack off his feet.

“When you hear from the _Endymion_, let me know at once. That is all I
ask you.”

“Then you are expecting to hear from the yacht to-night?” asked Jack
wonderingly. It was an unfathomable puzzle to him that this somewhat
sinister-looking passenger should have so accurate a knowledge of the
yacht’s whereabouts; providing, of course, that he was as certain as he
seemed.

“I am expecting to hear from her to-night. Should have heard before, in
fact,” was the brief rejoinder.

“There are friends of yours on board?” asked Jack.

“Never mind that. If you do as I say—notify me the instant you get word
from her, you will be no loser by it.”

“Very well, then,” rejoined Jack. “I’ll see that you get first word
after the captain.”

Jarrold took a step forward and thrust his face close to the boy’s.

“The captain must not know of it till I say so. That is the condition of
the reward I’ll give you for obeying my instructions. When you bring me
word that the _Endymion_ is calling the _Tropic Queen_, I shall probably
have some messages to send before the captain of this ship is aroused
and blocks the wire with inquiries.”

“What sort of messages?” asked Jack, his curiosity aroused to the
utmost. He was now almost sure that his first impression that Jarrold
was playing some game far beyond the young operator’s ken was correct.

Jarrold tapped him on the shoulder in a familiar way.

“Let’s understand each other,” he said. “I know you wireless men don’t
get any too big money. Well, there’s big coin for you to-night if you do
what I say when the _Endymion_ calls. I want to talk to her before
anyone else has a chance. As I said, I want to send her some messages.”

“And as I said, what sort of messages?” said Jack, drawing away.

“Cipher messages,” was the reply, as Jarrold glanced cautiously around
over his shoulder.

The door behind them had opened and a stout, middle-aged man of military
bearing had emerged. He had a gray mustache and iron-gray hair, and wore
a loose tweed coat suitable for the night. Jack recognized him as a
Colonel Minturn, who had been pointed out to him as a celebrity the day
the ship sailed. Colonel Minturn, it was reported, was at the head of
the military branch of the government attending to the fortifications of
the Panama Canal. The colonel, with a firm stride, despite the heavy
pitching of the _Tropic Queen_, walked toward the bow, puffing at a
fragrant cigar.

When Jack turned again to look for Jarrold, he had gone.



CHAPTER IV

A PECULIAR COINCIDENCE


But the young wireless boy had no time right then to waste in
speculation over the man’s strange conduct. It was his duty to relieve
Sam, who would not come on watch again till midnight.

As he mounted the steep ladder leading to the “Wireless Hutch,” he could
feel the ship leaping and rolling under his feet like a live thing.
Every now and then a mighty sea would crash against the bow and shake
the stout steel fabric of the _Tropic Queen_ from stem to stern.

The wind, too, was shrieking and screaming through the rigging and up
among the aërials. Jack involuntarily glanced upward, although it was
too dark to see the antennæ swaying far aloft between the masts.

“I hope to goodness they hold,” he caught himself thinking, and then
recalled that, in the hurry of departure from New York, he had not had a
chance to go aloft and examine the insulation or the security of their
fastenings himself.

In the wireless room he found Sam with the “helmet” on his head. The boy
was plainly making a struggle to stick it out bravely, but his face was
pale.

“Anything come in?” asked Jack.

“Not a thing.”

“Caught anything at all from any other ship?”

Sam’s answer was to tug the helmet hastily from his head. He hurriedly
handed it to Jack, and then bolted out of the place without a word.

“Poor old Sam,” grinned Jack, as he sat down at the instruments and
adjusted the helmet that Sam had just discarded; “he’s got his, all
right, and he’ll get it worse before morning.”

Sam came back after a while. He was deathly pale and threw himself down
on his bunk in the inner room with a groan. He refused to let Jack send
for a steward.

“Just leave me alone,” he moaned. “Oh-h, I wish I’d stayed home in
Brooklyn! Do you think I’m going to die, Jack?”

“Not this trip, son,” laughed Jack. “Why, to-morrow you will feel like a
two-year-old.”

“Yes, I will—not,” sputtered the invalid. “Gracious, I wish the ship
would sink!”

After a while Sam sank into a sort of doze, and Jack, helmet on head and
book in hand, sat at the instruments, keeping his vigil through the long
night hours, while the storm shrieked and rioted about the ship.

The boy had been through too much rough weather on the _Ajax_ to pay
much attention to the storm. But as it increased in violence, it
attracted even his attention. Every now and then a big sea would hit the
ship with a thundering buffet that sent the spray flying as high as the
loftily perched wireless station.

The wind, too, was blowing as if it meant to blow the ship out of the
water. Every now and then there would come a lambent flash of lightning.

“It’s a Hatteras hummer for sure,” mused the boy.

The night wore on till the clock hands above the instruments pointed to
twelve.

Above the howling and raging of the storm Jack could hear the big ship’s
bell ring out the hour, and then, faint and indistinct, came the cry of
the bow watch, “All’s well.” It was echoed boomingly from the bridge in
the deep voice of the officer who had the watch.

“Well, nothing doing on that _Endymion_ yet,” pondered Jack.

He fell to musing on Jarrold’s strange conduct. Why had the man suddenly
vanished when Colonel Minturn appeared? What was his object in the
strange proposal he had made to the young wireless man? What manner of
craft was this _Endymion_, and how was it possible that she could live
in such a sea and storm?

These, and a hundred other questions came crowding into his dozing
brain. They performed a sort of mental pin-wheel, revolving over and
over again without the lad’s arriving at any conclusion.

That some link existed between Jarrold and the _Endymion_ was, of
course, plain. But just why he should have vanished so quickly when the
Panama official appeared, was not equally evident. Jack had a passenger
list in front of him, stuck in the frame designed for it.

He ran his eyes over it. Yes, there was the name:

    Mr. James Jarrold, N. Y.—Stateroom 44.
    Miss Jessica Jarrold, N. Y.—Stateroom 56.

Suddenly Jack’s roving glance caught the name of Colonel Minturn, U. S.
A., stateroom 46. So the colonel’s stateroom adjoined that of the man
who appeared to be so anxious to avoid him! Another thing that Jack
noted was that, although the ship was crowded and a stateroom for a
single passenger called for a substantial extra payment, both Mr.
Jarrold and the army man had exclusive quarters. In the case of Colonel
Minturn this was, of course, understandable, but Jarrold? Jack looked at
the latter’s name again, and now he noticed something else that had
escaped him before.

Stateroom 44, the room occupied by Jarrold and adjoining Colonel
Minturn’s, had evidently been changed at the last moment, for
originally, as a crossed-out entry showed, Jarrold had been given
stateroom 53. A pen line had been drawn through this entry by the purser
evidently, when Jarrold had changed his room.

Jack happened to know that Colonel Minturn had come on board at the last
moment, so, then, Jarrold had changed his stateroom only when he had
found out definitely that Colonel Minturn’s room was No. 46. There must
be something more than a mere coincidence in this, thought Jack, but,
puzzle as he would, he could not arrive at what it meant.

He was still trying to piece it all out when suddenly the door, which he
had closed to bar out the flying spray, was flung open.

A gust of wind and a flurry of spume entered, striking him in the face
like a cold plunge.

“Bother that catch,” exclaimed Jack, swinging round; “I’ll have to get
the carpenter to fix it to-morrow, I——”

But it was not a weakened catch that had given way. The door had been
opened by the hand of a man, who, enveloped in a raincoat and topped by
a golf cap, now stood in the doorway.

The man was James Jarrold.



CHAPTER V

THE INTERRUPTED MESSAGE


Jack sprang to his feet, but the other held out a withholding hand.

“Stay right where you are, Mr. Ready,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep and I
decided to sit out your watch up here with you. You’ve no objection?”

“I’m sorry,” said Jack, for after all Jarrold was a passenger and it
would not do to offend him if he could help it, “but it is against the
rules for passengers to linger about the wireless room.”

“Well, I can write a message, then. You have no objection to that?”

Jack was in a quandary. He knew perfectly well that Jarrold was there
for some purpose of his own, but what it was—except that its aim was
sinister—he could not hazard a conjecture.

“Of course the office is always open for business,” he rejoined, pushing
a stack of sending blanks toward Jarrold.

“Of course,” replied Jarrold, sinking into a chair beside the young
operator. “By the way, nothing from the _Endymion_ yet?”

“That is the business of the line so far, sir,” replied Jack. “If it is
anything of general interest, you will find the notice posted on the
bulletin board at the head of the saloon stairs in the morning.”

Jarrold made no reply to this, but sat absent-mindedly tapping his
gleaming white teeth with a gold-cased pencil as if considering what he
should write on the blank paper before him. He appeared to be in no
hurry to begin, but fumbling for his cigar case, produced a big black
weed and leisurely lighted it, puffing out the heavy smoke with an
abstracted air.

“Sorry, sir,” struck in Jack sharply, “but you can’t smoke in here,
sir.”

“Why not?”

“It is against the rules.”

“Where do you see such a rule? Reckon you made it, eh? Too much of a
molly-coddle to smoke, hey?”

The man’s tone was aggressive, offensive. The subtle objection to him
that Jack had felt when they first met was growing with every minute.
But he kept his temper. It was with an effort, however.

“There are the rules on the wall,” he said.

“Humph,” said Jarrold, with a disgusted grunt. “In that case I’ll throw
my cigar away. But one always helps me to think.”

“Personally, I’ve always heard that tobacco dulls the brain,” retorted
Jack, “but never having tried it, and not wanting to, I don’t know how
true it is.”

Jarrold made no reply to this, but a contemptuous snort. He unfolded his
big, loose-knit frame from the chair and went toward the door. He flung
the cigar into the night. As he did so, there was a blinding flash of
lightning. The rain was coming in torrents now, but the wind and sea
were dying down.

The man came back to his chair and again appeared to be considering the
message he should send out.

“I have my doubts about getting a message through to-night at all,”
hinted Jack. “The rain doesn’t always interfere with the Hertzian waves
but sometimes it does. Maybe you would better wait till morning.”

“I’ll send it when I choose,” was the growled reply.

At that instant Jack’s hand suddenly shot out across the desk in front
of him and turned the switch that sent the current into the detectors.
Faintly, out of the storm, some whispered dots and dashes had breathed
against his ear-drums. Somebody was trying to send a radio.

Jarrold’s lounging figure stiffened up quickly. He had seen Jack’s
sudden motion and guessed its meaning. He leaned forward eagerly while
the young operator tuned his instruments till the message beat more
strongly on his ears.

Through the storm the message came raggedly but it was intelligible.

“_Tropic Queen! Tropic Queen! Tropic Queen!_”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” flung back the boy at the liner’s key. “Who is that?”

“Are you the _Tropic Queen_?”

The sending of the call across the storm was uncertain and hesitating;
not the work of a competent operator, but still understandable.

“Yes, this is the _Tropic Queen_.”

The answer that came made Jack thrill up and down his spine.

“This is the _Endymion_!”

Then came a pause that vibrated. Jack pounded his key furiously. The
sending on the other craft was bad, and the waves that were beating
against the aërials of the _Tropic Queen_ were weak. Although rain does
not necessarily hamper the power of the Hertzian billows, and all things
being equal the transmission of messages is clearer at night, yet
certain combinations may result in poor service.

The spark writhed and squealed and glared with a lambent blue flame as
it leaped like a serpent of fire between the points.

But even above its loud, insistent voice calling into the tempest-ridden
night could be heard the deep, quick breathing of Jarrold as he leaned
forward to catch every move of the young operator’s fingers.

“This is the _Endymion_,” came again.

“Yes! Yes!” flashed back Jack.

“Have you a passenger named Jarrold on board?”

Jack’s heart and pulses gave a bound. Jarrold was leaning forward till
his bristling chin almost touched Jack’s cheek. The man’s hand stole
back toward his hip pocket and stayed there.

“Yes, what do you want with him?”

“We—have—a—message—for him,” came the halting reply.

Jack’s fingers were on the key to reply when the quick, harsh voice of
Jarrold came in his ear.

“That’s the _Endymion_. No monkey business now. Send what I tell you.
I——”

There was a sudden blinding flash from the instruments and a blaze of
blue, hissing fire filled the wireless room.

Jarrold and the young wireless man staggered back, their hands flung
across their faces to shield their eyes from the scorching glare. It was
all over in an instant—just one flash and that upheaval of light.

“The aërials have gone!” cried Jack.

He darted from the wireless room, leaving Jarrold alone, a look of
frustrated purpose in his eyes.



CHAPTER VI

A DARING FEAT


Out along the wet and slippery decks, spray-dashed and awash, rushed the
boy. He was headed for the bridge. He found the first officer, Mr.
Metcalf, on duty.

The officer was shrouded in gleaming oil-skins and sou’wester. Spray
glistened on his cheeks and big mustache as the dim light from the
binnacle revealed his features. Ahead of them Jack could make out dimly
the big, plunging forepart of the ship as it rushed up a water mountain
with glowing phosphorescent head, and then with a swirling roar went
sliding down the other side.

“Well, Ready, what’s the trouble?” boomed out Mr. Metcalf
good-naturedly. “You seem excited.”

“Yes, sir. I’ve just had a message.”

The officer was alert in a moment.

“A vessel in distress?”

“No, sir. Although——”

“Well, well, be quick. On a night like this any call may be urgent.”

“This was from a yacht. The _Endymion_, she said her name was.”

“And she’s in trouble?”

Mr. Metcalf was one of those men who leap to instant conclusions.
Already he was considering the best method of proceeding to the
distressed—as he thought—ship’s assistance.

“No, in no trouble, sir. She had a message for a passenger, but in the
middle of it something happened to our aërials.”

“They’ve parted?”

“I don’t know, sir. Anyhow, I’m going aloft to see. I came to report to
you.”

“Nonsense, Ready, you can’t go aloft to-night. I’ll send a man.”

“Pardon me, Mr. Metcalf,” broke in Jack. “I don’t want to be
disrespectful, but there’s not a man on this ship who could repair those
aërials but myself.”

“But you are not used to going aloft,” protested Mr. Metcalf.

“I’ve been up on the _Ajax’s_ masts in worse weather than this to fix
anything that was wrong,” he said. “I’ll be all right. And besides, I
must go. It’s my duty to do so.”

“Very well, then, but for heaven’s sake be careful. You’ve no idea what
the trouble is?”

“No, sir, but I’m inclined to think it is the insulation that has worn
and caused a short circuit somewhere. That could easily happen on a
night like this.”

“Well, be off with you, Ready,” said the officer, not without
reluctance. “Good luck.”

Jack descended from the bridge deck to the main deck. The ship was
plunging and jumping like a race-horse. He could catch the wild movement
of the foremast light as it swung in crazy arcs against the dark sky.

“Not a very nice night to go aloft,” thought the boy, with a shrug, “but
it must be done.”

Temporarily he had forgotten all about Jarrold. All that lay in front of
him was his duty, the stern necessity of repairing the aërials upon
which it was possible human lives might depend. In the event of accident
to the _Tropic Queen_, the existence of all on board might hang on the
good condition of those slender strands of copper wire which alone
connected the ship with other craft and dry land.

The wind screamed across the exposed main deck with locomotive-like
velocity. Big waves, nosed aside by the bow, viciously took their
revenge by sweeping like waterfalls across the ship’s stem. Jack was
drenched through before he had fought his way to the weather shrouds, by
which slender ladder he had to climb to the top of the swaying steel
fore-mast, fully fifty feet above the lurching decks.

He had not put on oil skins and his blue serge uniform, soaked through,
clung to his body like an athlete’s tights. But he was not thinking of
this as he grabbed the lower end of the shrouds and prepared to mount
aloft. A big sea swept across the exposed foredeck, almost beating the
breath out of his body. But he clung with the desperation of despair to
the steel rigging, and the next moment, taking advantage of a momentary
lull, he began to mount.

Long before he reached the cross-trees, his hands were cut and sore and
every muscle in his body taut as fiddle strings. About him the confusion
and the noise of the storm shrieked and tore like Bedlam let loose.

But stubbornly the figure of the young wireless boy crept upward,
flattened out by the wind at times against the ratlines to which he
clung, and again, taking every fighting chance he could seize, battling
his way up slowly once more. The cross-trees gained, Jack paused to draw
breath. He looked downward. He could see, amid the inferno of raging
waters, the dim outline of the hull. From that height it looked like a
darning needle. As the mast swung, it appeared that with every dizzy
list of the narrow body of the ship beneath, she must overturn.

Jack had been aloft often and knew the curious feeling that comes over a
novice at the work: that his weight must overbalance the slender hull
below. But never had he experienced the sensation in such full measure
as he did that night, clinging there panting, wet, bruised,
half-exhausted, but yet with the fighting spirit within him unsubdued
and still determined to win this furious battle against the elements.

As he clung there, catching his breath and coughing the salt water from
his lungs, he recollected with a flash of satisfaction that he had his
rubber gloves in his pocket. These gloves are used for handling wires in
which current might be on, and are practically shock-proof. Jack knew
that he would have to handle the aërials when he got aloft, and if he
had not his gloves with him, he would have stood the risk of getting a
severe shock.

With one more glance down, in which he could perceive a dim, wet
radiance surrounding the ship like a halo, proceeding from such lights
as still were aglow on board, the boy resumed his climb.

The most perilous part of it still lay before him. So far, he had
climbed a good broad “ladder”—the ratlines stretched between the three
stout steel shrouds. From the cross-trees to the top of the slender
mast, there was but a single-breadth foothold between the two shrouds
running from the tip of the foremast to the cross-trees.

Far above him, cut off from his vision by darkness and flying scud, Jack
knew that the footpath he had to follow narrowed to less than a foot in
breadth. At that height the vicious kicking of the mast must be
tremendous.

It was equivalent to being placed on the end of a giant, pliable whip
while a Gargantuan Brobdingnagian driver tried to flick you off.

But Jack gritted his teeth, and through the screeching wind began the
last lap of his soul-rasping ascent.

He was flung about till his head swam. His ascent was pitifully slow and
tortuous. The reeling mast seemed to have a vicious determination to
hurtle him through space into the vortex of waters below him, over which
he was swung dizzily hither and yon.

But at last, somehow, with reeling brain, cut and bleeding hands and
exhausted limbs, he reached the summit and stretched out cramped fingers
for the aërials.

With the other hand he clung to the shrouds, and with legs wrapped round
them in a death-like grip, he was dashed back and forth through midair
like a shuttle-cock.



CHAPTER VII

QUARTERMASTER SCHULTZ VOLUNTEERS


Clinging with his interlocked lower limbs, Jack managed to draw on his
insulated rubber gloves. Then he fumbled, with fear gripping at his cold
heart, for his electric torch, which every wireless man carries for just
such emergencies.

He pressed the button and a small, pitifully small, arc of light fell on
the aërials where they were secured to the mast. Far beneath him on the
bridge, the first officer and the wondering captain—who had been
summoned from his berth—watched the infinitesimal fire-fly of light as
it flickered and swayed at the top of the mast.

The storm wrack flew low and at times it was shut out from their gaze
altogether. At such times both men gripped the rail with a dreadful fear
that the brave lad, working far above them, had paid the penalty of his
devotion to duty with his life.

But every time that they looked up after such a temporary extinguishment
of the flickering light, they saw it still winking like the tiny
night-eye of a gnome above them in dark space.

With fingers dulled by the thick rubber covering which he dared not
remove, Jack worked among the aërial terminals. One by one he counted
the strands.

One, two, three, four, five.

Yes, they were all there. But he did not count them as fast as that.
Instead, between the fingering of one and another an interval of ten
minutes might elapse, during which time he was flung from pole to pole,
dry mouthed and dizzy.

Then came a sudden flash of lightning outlining the rigging, the steel
hull far below him, the anxious figures on the bridge and the angry
heavens in blue, glaring flame. But Jack had no eye for this. The sudden
light had shown him a jagged rip in the insulation of the wires where
they were joined to the mast rigging. Through this, current had been
leaking into the mast and robbing the aërials of their power of sending
or receiving, short circuiting the Hertzian waves.

Jack waited for a lull and then, almost dead with nausea and brain
sickness from his wild buffeting, he reached for his electrician’s tape
and began making hasty repairs on the electric leak. He bound coil after
coil of the adhesive stuff around the exposed wire, till it was
blanketed beyond chance of “spilling” into the rain.

Then, his work done, he rested for an instant to steady his whirling
senses, and then began the long descent.

Now that the job was over, he felt that he could never live to reach the
deck, miles and miles—hundreds and hundreds of miles—below him. Step by
step, though, he descended, fighting for his life against the sense
numbness that was creeping over him. Limbs and intelligence seemed
equally absent. He felt as if he were a disembodied being, floating
through space on the wings of the storm.

He appeared to have no weight. Like a thistle bloom he thought that he
might be blown where the winds wished. Conquering this feeling, it was
succeeded by a leaden one. He was too heavy to move. His feet felt
enormous, and heavy as a deep-sea diver’s weighted boots. His head was
balloon-like and appeared to sway crazily on his shoulders.

But he still descended. Step by step, painfully, semi-consciously, the
brain-sick, nauseated boy clung to the ratlines. On his grip depended
his life, and this, in a dim, stupid sort of way, he realized.

If he could only reach the cross-trees! Here he could rest in
comparative security for a while.

He must reach them, he must! He wasn’t going to die like this. A furious
fighting spirit came over him. His head suddenly cleared; the deadly
nausea left him; his limbs grew light.

Jack shouted aloud and came swiftly down. He called out defiantly at the
storm. He raved, he yelled in wild delirium.

All at once he felt the cross-trees under his feet. With a last loud cry
of triumph he sank down on the projecting steel pieces that formed, at
any rate, a resting place.

Then came another wild swing of the ship, and a vicious gust.

Jack felt himself flung from the cross-trees and out into the dark void
of the storm.

Down, down, down he went, straight as a stone toward the dark, black,
raging vortex through which the ship was fighting.

He felt rather than heard a despairing cry; but did not know whether it
had come from his lips or not.

Then a rushing dark cloud enveloped him, and with a fearful roaring in
his ears, Jack’s senses swam out to sea.

“The light has disappeared, Metcalf. Do you think the poor lad is lost?”

Far below on the bridge, Captain McDonald, oil-skinned like his officer,
peered upward.

“The good Lord alone knows, sir,” was the fervent reply. “It was a
madcap thing to do. I should never have let him go.”

“It’s done now,” muttered the captain. “Though, had you consulted me, I
should have forbidden it. That boy is the bravest of the brave.”

“He is, sir. You may well say that. A seasoned sailorman might have
hesitated to go aloft to-night.”

“I wish to heaven I knew what had become of him and if he is safe, yet I
wouldn’t order another man up there in this inferno.”

There was a voice behind him.

“Vouldt you accepdt idt a volunteer, sir?”

“You, Schultz?” exclaimed the captain, turning around to the old
quartermaster who was just going off his trick of duty at the wheel.
“Why, man, you’d be taking your life in your hands.”

“I’ve been up der masts of sheeps off der Horn on vorse nights dan
dees,” was the calm reply. “Ledt me go, sir.”

“You go at your own responsibility, then,” was the reply. “I ought not
to let you up at all, and yet that boy—go ahead, then.”

The old German quartermaster saluted and was gone.

From the bridge they saw him for a moment, in the gleam of light from a
porthole, crossing the wet deck.

He clambered into the shrouds and then began climbing upward along the
perilous path Jack had already traveled.

“Pray Heaven we have not two deaths to our account to-night, Metcalf,”
said the captain earnestly to his first officer.

“Amen to that, sir,” was the reply.

And then there was nothing but the shriek of the wind and the beat of
the waves, while the two officers gazed piercingly upward into the
darkness where they knew not what tragedies might be taking place.



CHAPTER VIII

SAFE ONCE MORE


Suddenly Captain McDonald had an inspiration.

“Metcalf!” he cried, above the storm.

“Sir!” was the alert response of the _Tropic Queen’s_ chief officer.

“Order the searchlight turned on that mast!”

One of the two quartermasters, struggling with the bucking, kicking
wheel, was ordered to get the apparatus ready and focus it on the
foremast.

The canvas hood was taken off the big light and then a switch snapped,
sputtering bluely. A radiant spear of light pierced the night. It
hovered vaguely for a few instants and then settled on the foremast.

It revealed a thrilling scene. Schultz had clasped in his arms the
unconscious form of Jack Ready. For the young wireless man, when he
collapsed, had been caught by a stay and held in position on the
cross-trees.

Slowly, and with infinite caution, the old quartermaster began to
descend the shrouds. It was a nerve-racking task to those looking on.
Jack was not a light-weight, and the descent of his rescuer, clasping
the boy with one arm while he held on with all his strength, was
painfully slow.

But at last they reached the deck in safety, and Captain McDonald was
there in person to meet them. He wrung Schultz’s hand in a tight grip as
the old seaman stood pantingly before him.

“That was as brave a bit of work as I’ve seen done since I’ve been going
to sea, Schultz,” he exclaimed. “I’ll see to it that the company gives
you recognition. But now let us take this lad to my cabin. He’s opening
his eyes and the doctor can give him something that will soon set him on
his feet again.”

And so it proved. Half an hour after Jack had been laid on a lounge in
the skipper’s cabin and restoratives had been administered by Dr. Flynn,
he was feeling almost as hale and hearty as ever, although his terrible
ordeal when he was flung back and forth pendulum-wise had left him with
a racking headache.

The captain showered congratulations on him, but reminded him that never
again must he risk his life in such a perilous way.

“The job could have waited till daylight, anyhow,” he said.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said Jack, firmly but respectfully, “it could
not. You know that I was in communication with a ship—the yacht
_Endymion_—when the insulation wore away and my ‘juice’ began to leak?”

“No, I knew no such thing,” said the captain.

“Mr. Metcalf knew of it, sir.”

“In all the excitement caused by your exploit, young man, he must have
forgotten to tell me.”

“That was probably the reason, sir. But the _Endymion_——” The captain
broke in as if struck by some sudden thought.

“Jove, lad, the _Endymion_, you say?”

“Yes, sir, do you know her?”

“I know of her. She bears no good reputation. Once she was chartered to
the Haytian government and was used as a war ship; then she was in the
smuggling trade along the coast. The last I heard of her she was laid up
in the marine Basin at Ulmer Park. Her history has been one of troubles.
Do you feel strong enough to go back to your key?”

“Yes, sir,” exclaimed Jack eagerly. “Young Smalley, my assistant, is too
seasick to work to-night. I’ll take the trick right through.”

“Good for you, my boy. I’ll see that you are no sufferer by it. By the
way, did the _Endymion_ have any message? Was she in trouble?”

“No, sir, but they wished to give some sort of a radio to a Mr. James
Jarrold, one of the first-class passengers.”

The captain tapped his foot musingly on the polished wood floor of his
cabin.

“Odd,” he mused, “I wonder what possible communication they could have
to make to him. Is Jarrold a heavy-set man with a blue, square jaw and
bristly, black hair?”

“Yes, sir, that is the man to the dot.”

“I have noticed him at dinner. He sits at the first officer’s table.
Back in my head I’ve got a sort of indefinable idea that I’ve seen him
somewhere before, but just where I cannot, for the life of me, call to
mind just now.”

“It is too bad that the aërials went out of commission just as that
other operator was starting to give the message.”

“It was, indeed, but you must try now to pick up this _Endymion_ again.
I’m curious to know more of her and of our mysterious passenger.”

“I’ll report to you the instant I get anything, sir,” Jack assured him,
and hurried off.

On the way he passed Schultz and put out his hand with direct,
sailor-like bluntness.

“You saved my life to-night, Schultz. I’ll never forget it,” he said
simply, but there was a wealth of feeling behind the quiet words.

“Oh, dot makes it no nefer mindt, Yack,” said the old German. “Don’t get
excitedt ofer idt. Idt vos just a yob dot hadt to be done und I didded
idt.”

“It was a great deal more than that,” said Jack, with warmth. “I hope
some day I will get a chance to repay you.”

But Schultz, embarrassed and red as a beet under his tan, had hurried
off. Like most sailors, Schultz hated sentiment. To him, his daring deed
of saving Jack from his perilous perch in the cross-trees had been all
in the line of duty.

Back in the wireless room once more, Jack looked in on Sam. The boy was
sitting up in bed staring feverishly out into the wireless room.

“Oh, Jack, I’m glad you have come back!” he exclaimed. “Where have you
been?”

“Fixing a little job of work, youngster. Something was wrong with the
wireless. How do you feel?”

“Better, but oh, what a head! It’s the worst feeling I ever knew!”

“Like something to eat?”

“For heaven’s sake, don’t mention it! The mere thought makes me feel bad
again. But, listen, Jack, I’ve something to tell you. I wakened about
half an hour ago and there was a man out there in the wireless room.”

“What?”

Jack had temporarily forgotten all about Jarrold. Now Sam’s remark
brought the earlier scene back to him. What had Jarrold been doing in
the wireless room while he was absent?



CHAPTER IX

THE MIDNIGHT INTRUDER


“He was stooping over the desk, rummaging about the papers and
dispatches,” said Sam in response to Jack’s eager questions.

“Did he take anything?” asked Jack.

“I don’t know. I called out to him and asked him what he was doing.”

“Yes; what did he say?”

“He didn’t say a word. Just hurried out. Who was he?”

“A man named Jarrold. He’s a first-cabin passenger. He came in here this
evening and was much interested in getting first news of a yacht called
the _Endymion_.”

“I don’t like his looks.”

“Frankly, neither do I, and yet one cannot let a man’s appearance count
against him. But if he was rummaging about that desk, that is another
matter.”

“I think he knows something about wireless himself. I saw him fiddling
with the key.”

“At any rate, I’ll keep a close eye on Mr. Jarrold,” Jack promised
himself. “I don’t quite know what all this means, but I bet I’ll find
out before it’s over!”

There was not much more sleep for Sam that night. He fought bravely
against his seasickness and took the key for a time while Jack stole a
catnap. Both boys worked hard to get in touch with the _Endymion_ once
more, but they failed to raise her operator. So far as Jack could make
out, nothing had been taken from the desk by Jarrold; and the boy came
to the conclusion that the man, disbelieving his word, had searched the
desk for some evidence of a previous message from the _Endymion_.

At breakfast the next morning Jarrold, cleanly shaven around his blue
chin, appeared in the saloon of the ship accompanied by a very pretty
young lady, who, Jack learned, was his niece, Miss Jessica Jarrold. The
man did not raise his glance to Jack, although the latter eyed him
constantly. The young woman, though, regarded Jack with a somewhat
curious gaze from time to time. He was pretty sure in his own mind that
she knew of the events of the night.

In fact, she made it a point to leave the table at the same time as did
Jack. As they both emerged on deck through the companionway she
addressed him.

“Have you heard anything more of the _Endymion_?” she asked.

Although the sea was still running high, the sky was clear and the
weather good. She steadied herself against a stanchion as the ship
pitched, and Jack found himself thinking that she made a pretty picture
there. She was clad in a loose, light coat, and bareheaded, except for a
scarf passed over a mass of auburn hair, from which a few rebellious
wind-blown curls escaped.

Jack raised his uniform cap.

“Nothing, Miss Jarrold,” he said. “Your——”

“My uncle,” she continued for him, “is very anxious to be informed as
soon as you do hear.”

“Of course, the captain will have to be told first,” he said. Her dark
eyes snapped and she bit her lip with a row of perfectly even, gleaming
little teeth.

“Can’t it be arranged so that my uncle can know first about it?” she
said, breaking into a smile after her momentary display of irritation.
“Suppose you told—well, me, for instance.”

“I would be only too glad to do anything to oblige you, Miss Jarrold,”
said Jack deferentially, “but that is out of the question.”

“But why?” she demanded.

“It’s a rule,” responded Jack.

“Oh, dear, what is a stupid old rule! My uncle is rich and would pay you
well for any favor you did him, and then I should be awfully grateful.”

“I’m just as sorry as you are,” Jack assured her, “but I simply could
not do it.”

“Well, will you let my uncle and myself sit up in your wireless room and
wait any word you happen to catch?”

“That, too, I am afraid I shall have to refuse to do,” said Jack. “Such
a procedure would also be against the rules; and especially after
something that happened last night, I am determined to enforce the order
to the letter.”

“What happened last night?” she asked, quizzically eying him through
narrowed lids.

“I am afraid you will have to ask your uncle about that, Miss Jarrold.
No doubt he will tell you.”

Eight bells rang out, and Jack, raising his cap, said:

“That’s my signal to go on duty. Depend upon it, though, Miss Jarrold,
if I get any word from the _Endymion_ which I can give you without
violation of the rules, or if any message comes for either yourself or
your uncle, you will be the first to get it.”

She made a gesture of impatience and turned to meet her uncle, who was
just emerging from the companionway. Jarrold glared at Jack with an
antagonism he did not take much trouble to conceal.

“Any news of the _Endymion_?” he growled out in his deep, rumbling bass.

“As I just told Miss Jarrold, there isn’t,” said Jack. “And, by the way,
I hope you had a pleasant evening in my cabin last night.”

“I left there as soon as you did, right after the short circuit,” said
Jarrold, turning red under Jack’s direct gaze.

“I’m sorry to contradict you, Mr. Jarrold,” replied Jack, holding the
man with keen, steady eyes that did not waver under the other’s angry
glare. “You were in there quite a time after I left.”

“I was not, I tell you,” blustered Jarrold. “You are an impudent young
cub. I shall report you to the captain.”

“I would advise you not to,” said Jack calmly. “If you did, I might also
have to turn in a report from Assistant Sam Smalley, who was in the
other room all the time and saw almost every move you made.”

“What! there was someone there?” blurted out Jarrold. And then, seeing
the error he had made, he turned to his niece. “Come, my dear, let us
take a turn about the decks. I refuse to waste more time arguing with
this young jackanapes.”



CHAPTER X

A MESSAGE IN SECRET CODE


Later that morning something happened which caused Jack to cudgel his
brain still further to explain the underlying mystery that he was sure
encircled the girl and Jarrold, and in which Colonel Minturn was in some
way involved.

He was sitting at the key with the door flung open to admit the bright
sunshine which sparkled on a sea still rough, but as a mill pond
compared with the tumult of the night before, when there came a sudden
call.

“_Tropic Queen. Tropic Queen. Tropic Queen._”

“Yes, yes, yes,” flashed back Jack.

He turned around to Sam.

“I’ll bet a million dollars that it is a navy or an army station
calling,” he said. “You can’t mistake the way those fellows send. It is
quite different from a commercial operator’s way of pounding the brass.”

A moment later he was proved to be right.

“This is the _Iowa_,” came the word. “We are relaying a message from
Washington to Colonel Minturn on board your ship. Are you ready?”

“Let her come,” flashed back Jack.

He drew his yellow pad in front of him and sat with poised pencil
waiting for the message to come through the air from a ship that he knew
was at least two hundred miles from him by this time.

“It is in code; the secret government code,” announced the naval man.

“That makes no difference to me,” rejoined Jack. “Pound away.”

“All right, old scout,” came through the air, and then began a
topsyturvy jumble of words utterly unintelligible to Jack, of course.

The message was a long one, and about the middle of it came a word that
made Jack jump and almost swallow his palate.

The word was _Endymion_, the name of the yacht that had sent out a call
for Jarrold through the storm.

Then, closely following, came a name that seemed to be corelated to
every move of the yacht: James Jarrold!

At last the message, about two hundred words long, was complete. It was
signed with the President’s name, so Jack knew that it must be of the
utmost importance. He turned in his chair as he felt someone leaning
over him and noticed a subtle odor of perfume. Miss Jarrold, with parted
lips, was scanning the message eagerly. He caught her in the act.

But the young woman appeared to be not the least disconcerted by the
fact. With a wonderful smile she extended a sheet of paper.

“Will you send this message for me as soon as you can, please?” she
asked.

Jack was taken aback. He had meant to accuse her point blank of trying
to read off a message which was clearly of a highly important nature.
But her clever ruse in providing herself with the scribbled message that
she now held out to him had quite taken the wind out of his sails.

“Here, Sam, take this message to Colonel Minturn at once,” he said,
thrusting the paper into Sam’s hands and carefully placing his carbon
copy of it in a drawer.

“Now, Miss,” he said, looking the girl full in the eyes, “I’ll take your
message.”

“Oh, I’ve changed my mind now,” said the girl suddenly turning. “Sorry
to have troubled you for nothing. Don’t forget about the _Endymion_
now.”

And she was gone.

“Well, what do you know about that?” muttered Jack. “A woman is
certainly clever. Of course, she merely came in here to see what was
going on, and, by Jove, she came in at just the right time, too. Lucky
the message was in code. And then she was foxy enough to have that
message of hers all ready so that I couldn’t say a thing. Oh, she’s
smart all right! I wish I knew what game was up. I was right about
Colonel Minturn playing some part in it, judging from that dispatch, but
for the life of me I can’t make out what is up.”

He was still reflecting over this when Colonel Minturn, with Sam close
on his heels, entered.

Jack saluted him.

“Good morning,” said the colonel, introducing himself, “I am Colonel
Minturn. I have just received a cipher dispatch and want to send a
reply.”

“I guess I’ll have to relay it through the _Iowa_ if it is for
Washington,” said Jack.

“That is just its destination,” was the rejoinder. “By the way, I hear
from the captain that you did a very brave act last night in climbing
the foremast in the storm and repairing the wireless. That was nervily
done and I want to compliment you on it.”

“Glory! And he didn’t even breathe a word of it to me!” muttered Sam
under his breath.

Jack got red in the face. “Why, that was nothing, Colonel,” he said. “It
had to be done, and nobody but I could have done it.”

“You are as modest as all true heroes,” said the colonel approvingly.
“But, now, here is the dispatch I want you to send. You see, like the
other, it is in cipher. The government’s secrets have to be closely
guarded.”

Jack took the message and filed it and then proceeded to raise the
_Iowa_ again.

Before long came a reply to his insistent calls.

“Here is the _Iowa_. What is it?”

Something peculiar about the sending struck Jack, but he went ahead.

“This is the _Tropic Queen_. I have a message from Colonel Minturn to
Washington. It must be rushed through.”

“Very well, transmit,” came the answer; but once more the curious ending
of the other wireless man struck him forcibly.

“I don’t believe that is the _Iowa_ at all,” he muttered to himself. “I
never heard a man-o’-war operator sending like that. It sounds more
like—like—by hookey! I’ve got it. It’s that fellow on the
_Endymion_,—the craft that Jarrold is so much interested in.”

Just then, winging through the air, came the short, sharp, powerful
sending of the _Iowa_.

“Hullo, there, _Tropic Queen_, this is the _Iowa_. Who is that fellow
butting in?”

“I don’t know,” Jack flashed back. “Re-tune your instruments so that he
can’t crib this message I’m going to send you. Tune them to man-of-war
pitch. From what I heard of his sending, his batteries are too weak to
reach such high power.”

“All right,” was the brief reply.

The two instruments were then run up to a pitch which only the most
powerful supply of “juice” could give them. Then came the test and
everything was found to be working finely.

Jack at once rattled off the message. In it he noticed that the name
Jarrold recurred, also the _Endymion_. Colonel Minturn stood close
beside him and watched him with interest as Jack worked his key in
crisp, snappy, expert fashion.

“You are a very good operator, my boy,” he said when Jack had flashed
out good-by with the squealing, crackling spark. “I may have government
work for you some day. Should you like it?”

“Oh, Colonel!” cried the boy, his face lighting up, “I’d rather work for
Uncle Sam than for anyone else in the world.”

“Then some day you may have that opportunity. In the meantime I want
you, without saying a word to anybody, to inform me of any suspicious
moves on the part of this man Jarrold.”

“Why, is he—is he an enemy of Uncle Sam’s?” Jack ventured.

“He is probably the most dangerous rascal in existence,” was the
staggering reply.



CHAPTER XI

WHAT SAM HEARD


Jack looked the astonishment he felt. While he had sensed something of
sinister import about Jarrold right along, still he had never guessed
the man could merit such a sweeping description of bad character.

“The most dangerous rascal in existence,” he repeated.

“Yes, I called him that and I mean it,” was the reply. “What he is doing
on this boat, I don’t know. But I have a guess and am prepared for him.”

He drew from his hip pocket a wicked looking automatic.

“Is it as bad as that?” asked Jack.

“I don’t know. But, at any rate, I am prepared. Jarrold has been mixed
up in desperate enterprises in a score of countries. He is a diplomatic
free lance of the worst character. It was Jarrold who stole the
documents relating to the Russian navy, which it cost that country so
much time and trouble to recover before they found their way into the
hands of another power.”

“And the young lady—his niece?”

“She has been implicated in most of his plots. They are a dangerous
pair. You will do me and the government a great favor by keeping an eye
on them. You will be able to do this, as I understand they are trying
hard to establish communication with a yacht called the _Endymion_.”

“Yes; both the man and the girl appear very anxious to do that,”
rejoined Jack.

“Jarrold has the stateroom next to mine. In my possession are documents
that would be of immense value to a certain far eastern power that
wishes the United States no good.”

“You think that Jarrold is after these?” asked Jack.

“It is the only supposition I can go upon. That cipher message from the
government warned me to be careful of the man, as his errand had been
surmised by the Secret Service men. They also found out about the
_Endymion_, which fact I did not know before.”

“And he is, apparently, an American, too,” exclaimed Jack.

The colonel nodded.

“Yes, he is a westerner by birth, I believe, but that makes little
difference to men of his type. The only country they know is the one
that gives the biggest price for their rascalities.”

“He ought to be shot for trying to betray the country he owes his birth
to,” said Jack hotly.

The colonel smiled and laid a hand on the excited lad’s shoulder.

“You feel about it as I do, lad,” he said. “But remember we have nothing
to go upon as yet. Absolutely nothing.”

Jack agreed that this was so, and after some more conversation, the
colonel left the wireless room, first warning the young operator that
their talk must be held absolutely confidential.

Of course Jack promised this, and so did Sam. But both lads felt that
they were playing parts in a big game, the nature of which was an
absolute mystery so far.

“It’s like sitting on a keg of dynamite,” said Sam.

“Yes; I have a feeling that there is something electrical in the air,”
said Jack, “besides wireless waves. It may break at any minute, too.”

“If it does, I hope we get a chance to help out the colonel.”

“Yes, he is a fine man, a splendid type of soldier. I don’t wonder the
government chose him for this Panama errand.”

“It’s a mighty responsible job,” agreed Sam.

“And particularly when such a clever rascal as Jarrold, with unlimited
power at his back, is hanging about.”

But then it was dinner time, and Sam, whom even the most engrossing
conversation could not keep from his meals, hastened below. When he came
back, he had an important look on his face.

“I stopped on deck for a breath of fresh air,” he said, “and stood out
of the wind behind a big ventilator. Jarrold and his niece came along.”

“Didn’t they see you?”

“No; they were talking too earnestly; besides, the ventilator hid me,
anyhow.”

“Did you hear what they said?”

“I couldn’t catch much of it.”

“Well, let’s hear what you were able to pick up.”

“Well, the man appeared to be urging something that the girl objected
to. ‘I tell you it is too dangerous,’ I heard her say.

“Then the man, in a rough voice, told her she was a foolish woman and
that he was going ‘to do it to-night at all costs.’

“‘You may ruin everything,’ she said, but he only laughed and said that
if he failed this time, he would succeed later on, anyway.”

“Hum, that’s a mighty interesting scrap of conversation,” mused Jack, “I
wonder what the old fox is up to now.”

“Maybe we’d better inform the colonel,” suggested Sam.

“Hardly. Not with the meager information we’ve got. He would only laugh
at us. No, we’ll have to wait and see what the event will be. But depend
upon it, there is something in the wind.”

Jack was right. What that something was, he was not to learn till later,
but it was far more startling and was to involve him more deeply than he
imagined.



CHAPTER XII

A SUDDEN ALARM


At midnight, while the _Tropic Queen_ was plying ever southward through
smooth seas and under a dark canopy of sky lit by countless stars, Jack
left his key and, calling Sam, whose turn it was on watch, went below
for his customary midnight “snack.” A sleepy-eyed steward served him in
the big saloon, which looked empty and desolate with only one light in
all its vastness.

Jack ate heartily and then prepared to go on deck again. He had reached
the foot of the saloon stairs when a sudden sound made him pause.

It was the rustle of skirts. Jack drew back into the shadow which hung
thickly over that part of the saloon. To his astonishment, for he
thought that all the passengers—except a belated party in the
smoking-room—were in bed, he saw that the figure which passed swiftly
through the corridor beyond the staircase was that of Miss Jarrold.

She wore a white dress which showed ghost-like through the gloom,
although the corridor was dimly lighted. But there was no mistaking her
slender, graceful outlines and quick, panther-like walk.

Suddenly the conversation that Sam had repeated to him flashed across
Jack’s mind. It had appeared to foreshadow some desperate attempt to
gain whatever the pair had set their minds on. Almost beyond a doubt,
these were the papers and plans relating to the Panama Canal. Jack knew
that Colonel Minturn’s cabin was in the direction the girl was
following.

Could it be possible that——

Suddenly a piercing shriek came, followed by cry after cry.

Jack’s heart stood still. His scalp tightened.

[Illustration: The cry was the most blood-chilling that can be heard
at sea.]

The cry was the most blood-chilling that can be heard at sea.

“Fire! Fire! Fire!”

Jack dashed down the passage. From every stateroom now, shouts of men
and screams of women were coming. Warned by he knew not what instinct,
he made for Colonel Minturn’s cabin.

It lay just around a corner of the passage. He had just gained it, when
he saw a bulky figure, that of Jarrold, hurl itself against the door and
go smashing through it. Jack rushed up.

Jarrold turned on him with a savage growl.

“Get away from here, boy. I’ll save Colonel Minturn. You go and warn the
other passengers.”

But Jack made no move to go. Instead, he stepped into the cabin. In his
bunk lay the colonel, apparently sleeping deeply. Jack shook him, but he
did not move, only lay there, breathing heavily.

“This man has been drugged,” he exclaimed half aloud.

At the same instant he felt the hulking form of Jarrold fling itself at
him.

“You infernal, interfering young spy,” he snarled. “Get out of here. Get
back to your post. Send out an alarm of fire.”

He seized Jack with his big hands. The boy’s blood boiled. Big as
Jarrold was, and powerful, too, Jack was, he thought, a match for him.

Jarrold aimed a fierce blow at him. Jack dodged it and parried it with
one of his own. Then the two clinched. Jarrold’s powerful arms
encompassed the boy, squeezing the breath out of him.

Outside the cabin, people in all stages of dress and undress were
rushing about screaming and shouting. The whole ship was in pandemonium.
Within the cabin, for Jarrold had closed the door when he followed Jack
in, the two combatants, the boy and the man, fought in desperate silence
for the mastery, while the man in the bunk lay with closed eyes,
breathing heavily.

Back and forth they swayed till Jack suddenly wrenched himself loose. He
delivered a powerful blow and stopped a bull-like rush from Jarrold. The
fire, everything, was forgotten before his desire to overcome the man
who had attacked him.

Jarrold was, as has been said, a bull of a man. Thick-necked, powerful
and possessed of no little science, he could have torn Jack to pieces if
he could have gripped him right. But Jack, once free of his clutches,
was careful to avoid this.

Jack possessed no little of the science of the gymnasium, too. He fought
coolly, taking every advantage of his skill. Again and again he dodged
Jarrold’s mad rushes, and again and again he landed blows which seemed
heavy enough to fell an ox.

But they did not appear to have any effect on Jarrold’s big frame. A
mere grunt was the only sign that he had noticed them. Jack began to
despair of handling his man after all.

In the struggle, furniture was smashed, Jarrold’s coat torn, and both
combatants’ faces were cut and bruised. Gasping for breath, dizzy from
the thundering shock of the few blows Jarrold had driven home like flesh
and blood sledge hammers, Jack was about to give up, when suddenly he
noticed that no one was facing him. Jarrold, breathing heavily, his face
purple, lay stretched across a lounge as he had fallen.

A terrible thought flashed through Jack’s mind. Suppose he had killed
him?



CHAPTER XIII

A DOSE OF SLEEPING POWDER


Jack rushed out into the hallway. It was not, as he had expected,
smoke-filled, nor was there any odor of fire in the air. Somewhere he
could hear the voices of officers shouting above the distant hub-bub in
the saloon: “Keep your heads! There is no fire.”

Doctor Flynn, the ship’s surgeon, came hurrying by. Jack stopped him and
explained what had occurred in Colonel Minturn’s cabin.

“We must send for help and carry them both out of danger at once,” he
said.

“Danger? But there is no danger,” exclaimed the doctor.

“But the fire?” gasped the boy.

“There is none. It was either the overwrought nerves of a silly woman
that started the panic, or else there was some malicious design
underlying the whole thing.”

The thought of what he had seen as he stood in the shadow of the saloon
stairway rushed across Jack’s mind: Miss Jarrold’s sudden appearance and
then the scream of fire. Could it have been possible that this was the
thing that Sam had overheard her and her uncle debating? That, taking
advantage of the panic they knew would be caused by such an alarm in the
dead of night, Jarrold had schemed a way to enter Colonel Minturn’s
cabin?

“Will you come into Colonel Minturn’s cabin with me at once, doctor?”
asked Jack.

“Certainly, my boy. But,” and the doctor stared at him in amazement,
“what has happened to you? Your face is bruised and marked. Have you
been fighting?”

“A little bit,” said Jack grimly.

“With whom?”

“With a man I believe to be a consummate scoundrel. By the merest
accident on earth, I happened along here just in time to frustrate what
I believe to be a plot against Colonel Minturn.”

All this Jack explained hastily as they retraced their way down the
corridor to Colonel Minturn’s cabin. The panic had died down, and the
passengers, reassured now, were making their divers ways back to their
cabins. Some tried to turn the whole matter into a joke. Others looked
sheepish over the panic-stricken way in which they had behaved.

But when the two entered the colonel’s cabin a surprise awaited them.

_Jarrold was not there._

Jack rubbed his mental eyes. He could have sworn he had left the man
lying across the lounge, to all appearances stunned. Now, in the brief
interval that the boy had been out of the cabin, the man had gone.

“He must have been playing ’possum,” said the surgeon, when Jack had
briefly explained the circumstances; “but now let us see to Colonel
Minturn.”

The doctor bent over the officer’s form as it lay in the bunk. The
colonel was breathing heavily, his pulse was slow, his face gray.

“Run to my cabin for my medicine bag,” ordered the doctor to Jack. “You
will find it on my lounge. Hurry back.”

Jack waited to ask no questions but sped off. The corridors were still
choked with passengers discussing the fire scare. Most of them appeared
to think it had been a grim and criminal form of joke on somebody’s
part. There was talk of offering a reward for the discovery of the
culprit.

But Jack, knowing what he did, placed, as we know, a more sinister
construction on the midnight alarm. He was soon back with the doctor’s
bag. The surgeon took out of it a small syringe and injected some sort
of solution into the unconscious man’s arm.

“What is the matter with him, sir, do you think?” ventured Jack, as the
doctor, his hand on Minturn’s pulse, sat by the side of the bunk.

“He has been drugged. That much is plain. Although what the agency was,
I cannot guess,” was the rejoinder.

A small glass article lying on the floor caught Jack’s eye. It was an
atomizer, such as are used for perfumes. But this was filled with a gray
powder. He pressed the rubber bulb and an impalpable cloud of the powder
was sprayed into the air. He immediately felt sick and dizzy.

“Look here, sir, what do you make of this?” he cried excitedly, handing
it to the doctor. “I found it on the floor. It must have dropped from
Jarrold’s pocket while we were struggling. I’m sure that that powder in
it is some sort of drug. When I sprayed it out, it made me feel weak and
faint.”

The doctor took the glass vessel, unscrewed the top and shook out a
small quantity of the powder on his palm.

“This is an important discovery, indeed,” he exclaimed. “It is a
sleeping powder used by a certain South African tribe. A sufficient
quantity sprayed into the atmosphere would send anyone into a coma. It
is not poisonous, merely sleep producing.”

“Then you think that some of it was sprayed into this room, possibly
through the transom, by Jarrold before——”

“We’ll leave Mr. Jarrold’s name out of this for the present,” said the
doctor shortly. “Remember, we have no proof against him. For all you
know, and for all that appears, he broke in here to try to save the
colonel when the cry of fire occurred.”

“But he attacked me,” protested Jack.

“His answer to that would be that you were not at your post, where you
should have been.”

Jack colored. This was true. Jarrold had indeed a rejoinder to
everything he might say against the man. When it came to a point, the
lad had plenty of suspicions and theories, but absolutely no proofs to
offer. He couldn’t even state positively that the atomizer full of the
sleeping powder was Jarrold’s.

The colonel moved uneasily and opened his eyes. In a few moments he was
able to talk.

“Why, what has happened?” he asked drowsily, looking first at the doctor
and then at Jack.

“First, will you tell us the last thing you recollect, Colonel?”

“Most assuredly. I came to bed early. Before turning in, I examined
certain papers of mine and found they were all in perfect order. This
done, I lay down with a book. Suddenly I felt unaccountably drowsy,
and—and that’s all. But what has occurred in the meantime? I can tell by
your presence in the cabin that something out of the ordinary is up.”

“Will you first oblige me by making sure your papers are safe?” asked
the doctor.

“Certainly; they are in this box under my pillow. Ah yes, everything is
in perfect order. As you see, this is a combination lock. I could tell
in an instant if it had been tampered with.”

“Then, Colonel, I think that you should thank this young man here for
saving you from a theft that might have cost you dearly,” said the
doctor, indicating Jack.



CHAPTER XIV

THE WINKING EYE


“I—I must confess I don’t understand,” said the colonel, looking
bewilderedly from one to the other of his two companions.

“Then let me enlighten you.” And, supplemented from time to time by
Jack, the doctor gave a concise account of the incidents leading up to
the discovery of Jarrold breaking into the colonel’s cabin.

The officer could hardly believe his ears.

“Of course I have suspected Jarrold all along, and cannot be too
grateful to this young man for his vigilance,” he said; “but the
diabolical ingenuity of the man is beyond me.”

“He ought to be in irons at this minute,” asserted the doctor, “but so
far as I can see, he has covered up his tracks so cleverly that we have
nothing upon which to base a complaint against him.”

“At the present time, no, unfortunately,” said the colonel reluctantly.
“And if it had not been for Mr. Ready, here, the whole plot might have
proved a complete success.”

“I think it is reasonably certain that when you awakened, which might
not have been till late to-morrow morning, you would have found your
papers gone,” said the doctor.

“But in that case, I should have instantly suspected Jarrold,” was the
reply. “And exercising my authority as an officer of the United States
army, I could have had him detained under suspicion while his baggage
and his person were searched.”

“I am afraid that that would have been very much like looking for a
needle in a haystack,” said Dr. Flynn. “A rascal as clever as he is
would have found some way to dispose of the papers, where it would be
highly improbable that they could be found.”

“You are right,” agreed Colonel Minturn. “Well, gentlemen, I think that
for the sake of all concerned, we had better keep this secret among us
three and await developments.”

“But Jarrold knows that Ready suspects him,” objected the doctor.

“Oh, well, for that very reason, he won’t do any talking,” was the
colonel’s response. “We must watch and wait, and the next time catch him
red-handed.”

“Then you think he will make another attempt?” asked Jack.

“I have not the slightest doubt of it. Whatever nation is paying him, it
has set a high price on the successful issue of his venture; and he will
stop at nothing to put it through, if I have any knowledge of the man,”
was the response.

“I think the best thing we can all do now is to turn in,” said Dr.
Flynn.

This was generally agreed and good-nights were said; but before Jack
sought his cabin, he visited the doctor’s room, where his face was
attended to so as to leave hardly any marks of his encounter with
Jarrold.

The latter did not appear the next day, but his niece, radiant and
smiling, was at breakfast as if nothing had occurred. Jack looked at her
wonderingly. He had not the slightest doubt that her part in the plot
had been the cry of “Fire”; but she appeared as carefree and debonair as
if she had nothing more important on her mind than making a charming
appearance.

Jack could not help grinning to himself when Jarrold did not come down.

“I guess I gave him something to think about,” he remarked with a
chuckle to Sam, as the two discussed the subject.

Jarrold appeared the next day. A dark mark under his left eye was the
only visible sign of the encounter in Colonel Minturn’s cabin. He
studiously avoided the other passengers, however, and spent most of his
time pacing the deck with his niece.

The weather was steadily growing warmer now. Porpoises appeared in
rolling, leaping schools, and flying fish were stirred up in whole
coveys by the ship’s bow. The officers donned white uniforms, as did our
wireless boys, and everything indicated that the steamer was entering
the tropics.

It was Jack’s first voyage into such regions, and both he and Sam
thrilled with the anticipation of seeing the new sights and people. But
all the time, Jack was aware that under their feet was a smoldering
volcano. Covered for a time, and blanketed, it was still smoldering, of
that he was certain. He caught himself wondering uneasily what form the
next attempt would take.

It was his watch one night and he was turning over these things in his
mind as the ship plowed steadily onward, when, on going to the door of
his cabin for a breath of fresh air, he was surprised to see, not far
off, the green starboard and white mast headlights of what, from the
distance between the lights on her fore and main masts, appeared to be a
fair-sized steamer. She was steaming in the same direction as the
_Tropic Queen_ and going quite as fast.

Now, under ordinary circumstances, the sight of another craft on the
same course would not have astonished one. But nowadays, when almost
every ship is equipped with wireless, the operators of most vessels know
precisely what craft are in their vicinity. Even in the case where ships
are slow, and not equipped with radio apparatus, they usually signal, by
day or night signals, to craft which have wireless, and ask to be
reported. So that the sight of this stranger, moving along parallel with
the _Tropic Queen_, gave Jack what was not exactly a thrill, but a
sensation of vague uneasiness.

All at once, on her bridge, a red light began to flash. Like a
blood-shot eye it winked through the dark night.

“By Jove, signals!” exclaimed Jack.

He got his signal code book and was able to read off, by his knowledge
of Morse, the letters and words the strange craft was sending, as
distinctly as if they had been printed. But they simply formed a
meaningless jumble.

“It’s a code message to someone on board this ship,” muttered Jack to
himself, as the crimson eye ceased to wink.

As it stopped transmitting its untranslatable—except to one who held the
key—message through the darkness, the strange ship began to drop back
under reduced speed. Whatever its mission, it had been accomplished.
That much was plain. Jack wished that the jumble of words before him was
as clear.

He sat there racking his brains over the matter till almost midnight,
when Sam relieved him. The assistant operator looked at the message,
over which Jack was knitting his brows, with astonishment.

“What in the world is that?” he asked.

“I wish I knew,” was Jack’s enigmatic reply, “but there’s one man on
board this ship who does, and I’m inclined to think that his name is
James Jarrold.”



CHAPTER XV

SECRET SIGNALS AT DAWN


The next morning both Jack and Sam were on the _qui vive_ for a sight of
the mysterious steamer of the night. But not even a smudge on the
horizon gave indication of what had become of her. When Jack went down
to breakfast, he met First Officer Metcalf and spoke to him of the
strange signals.

“Yes; Muller, the third officer, who had the bridge last night, reported
them to me this morning,” was the reply. “He jotted them down as they
were flashed, but we can’t make head nor tail of them.”

“Nor can I,” confessed Jack. “It was a code message of some sort.”

“Some would-be funny chump having a joke at our expense, I reckon,” was
the way that Mr. Metcalf, who, of course, knew nothing of the suspected
machinations of Jarrold, dismissed the subject.

A lingering suspicion was in Jack’s mind that, by some queer chance, the
message might have been for Colonel Minturn, so after the morning meal
he drew him aside. But when shown the message, Colonel Minturn declared
that, although the government used several codes, the one in question
was not one of them.

“Then it was for Jarrold,” declared Jack positively, for, knowing what
he did, he could not share Mr. Metcalf’s “joker” theory.

“I believe you are right,” responded Colonel Minturn, stroking his
mustache thoughtfully. “Jove, this thing is taking some strange turns!”

Their eyes strayed to where Jarrold, sprawled out in a deck chair, was
seemingly absorbed in a book. But Jack could have sworn that over the
top of it he was covertly watching them.

“It is evident, to my way of thinking,” Jack ventured, “that the strange
craft was the _Endymion_, and that, despairing of getting a wireless to
Jarrold, or else on account of a break-down in their wireless, they
decided to chance that method of signaling him.”

“That certainly appears plausible,” said Colonel Minturn. “The
_Endymion_, when pressed, can make twenty-five miles an hour. Our speed
is about sixteen. Therefore, it would be an easy matter for her to
overhaul us at night, slip away in the daytime, and sneak back at night
once more.”

“I think it would be a good plan to keep a sharp look-out to-night,”
said Jack. “I’ve a notion that there may be something in the wind.”

“I agree with you,” was the colonel’s rejoinder. “Although, if it comes
down to that, there’s no reason why Jarrold shouldn’t, if he wishes to,
exchange messages with any ship. At least, I know of no way of stopping
him.”

“That’s just the trouble, sir,” said Jack, turning to go. “He’s too much
of a fox to put himself into a position where we can get anything
definite on him.”

The day passed uneventfully and the first part of the night was the
usual unbroken routine. Jack spoke with two or three vessels in the West
Indian and South American trade. But nothing unusual occurred to break
the monotony. Midnight found him on the watch. When Sam, as much
interested in the strange developments as was Jack, came to relieve him
at the wireless key, Jack decided to forego his sleep and do some
investigating.

Putting on a pair of light canvas shoes with rubber soles, Jack took up
a position on the main deck as soon as the ship was wrapped in sleep,
except for the watch and the officer who paced the bridge unceasingly
under the blazing tropic stars. His vigil was not rewarded till some
time before dawn, when, out of the blackness to port, came the sudden
blinking of a scarlet disk, like the leering wink of an ensanguined eye.

It came so suddenly and startlingly that Jack knew that the stranger,
the one he was now convinced was the _Endymion_, had crept up without
lights, under cover of darkness. There came a few dots and dashes,
indicated by the length of the flash of the red light. Then it ceased.

Then it began again, flashing like a night heliograph.

“By Jove! Somebody answered them from this ship!” exclaimed Jack in high
excitement.

But the decks were bare. Not a soul was to be seen. Had it been anyone
above, Sam was on the lookout there and would have notified Jack at
once.

Suddenly a thought flashed across the boy. A thought that sent him, with
a swift, noiseless stride, to the rail. He peered overside. It had just
occurred to him that Jarrold’s cabin was an outside one on the port side
of the _Tropic Queen_, which presented that flank to the stranger.

As he gained the side and peered over, he gave vent to what was almost a
shout of triumph. He had solved part of the riddle at any rate. After a
pause in the signaling from the stranger, there had come from the side
of the _Tropic Queen_ a sudden flash of red light. It was reflected
ruddily on the smooth water as it gleamed across the sea.

“So that’s it, eh, Mr. Jarrold!” cried Jack in a low undertone. “You’ve
got some sort of a flash lantern rigged in your stateroom, connected
with the electric light socket, likely, and you’re having a nice little
talk with your friends over yonder.”

All at once he slapped his thigh as a thought struck him. He knew that a
common switch controlled the lights in each separate corridor of the
ship. Thus, the four cabins in the section that Jarrold occupied, while
they each had their individual light switches, were also controlled by a
switch in the main corridor.

This was so that, in case of accident, the electricians could work more
conveniently.

“I don’t know what the skipper would say to this,” exclaimed Jack, “but
here goes.”

He darted below and soon reached the point in the main port corridor
from which the passage on which the four cabins in Jarrold’s section
opened. He fumbled for the switch in the half darkness. First, though,
he had looked to see that no other lights were shining in that section
except the one he was sure was being used in Jarrold’s room.

Click! The switch was turned.

“Now we’ll see,” exclaimed Jack to himself.

He hastened back on deck. Through the night, off to the port the strange
craft was signaling frantically. Jack chuckled.

“Spiked your guns, Mister Jarrold,” he laughed, as the signaling
continued. Plainly on the other ship they could not understand why they
no longer got flashed replies from Jarrold’s room.

“Oh, I’ll bet the air is blue below,” chuckled Jack, delighted at the
success of his plan. “Now I’ll just watch till they get sick of waiting
for Mr. Jarrold, and then go below and put that switch on again.”

For half an hour the vain red flashes came out of the night and then
they ceased.

“I guess they’ve sneaked off for fear daylight would discover them,”
said Jack. “Now to switch the light on again, and then for a snooze. I
think I’ve earned it.”



CHAPTER XVI

S. O. S.


Dawn showed a smudge of black smoke on the far horizon which might or
might not have been the mysterious visitant of the night. At any rate,
by noon something occurred which quite put out of Jack’s mind, and those
of the ship’s officers, who were considerably exercised over the
midnight signals, all thoughts of the secretive craft.

To Jack, seated at his instruments, there had suddenly come a sharp
call:

“S.O.S.—S.O.S.—S.O.S.”

Coming as it did, like a bolt from the blue, the urgent call thrilled
the young operator. He galvanized into action instantly and sent Sam
scurrying to the bridge with word that the most urgent call that can
assail a wireless man’s ears had just come to him.

It was faint and far away, but that very fact made it evident to Jack’s
experienced mind that whoever was sending the message, was in dire
straits and running out of current.

He pressed his key and sent thundering out with all the volleying force
of his powerful dynamos, an answer.

“What ship are you?” he demanded.

The answer that came back almost knocked him out of his chair.

“The airship _Adventurer_, from New Orleans to Havana. We are on the
surface of the water and sinking rapidly.”

“Your position, quick!” demanded Jack.

Back through space, in a slowly dying wireless voice, came the latitude
and longitude of the luckless craft.

“You are on our course. Stand by and we will pick you up,” said Jack,
whom a rapid glance at the wall map had shown that, roughly, the sinking
air-craft was not more than twenty miles to the southwest of the _Tropic
Queen’s_ position.

“What has happened?” asked Jack.

“No time explain details. Hurry! Hurry!——”

Jack tried to get the unseen operator once more, but a silence that was
far more eloquent than words alone greeted his efforts. He turned to see
the captain, in his white uniform and gold-laced cap, standing behind
him.

“What is this S.O.S., Ready?” he demanded. “What craft is in distress?”

“An airship, sir. The _Adventurer_, bound from New Orleans for Havana,
Cuba.”

“By Neptune! I recall now reading that two aviators were going to make
such a foolhardy attempt.”

“What kind of an air-craft is she, sir? Do you recall?”

“Why, one of those flying-boats, as they are called, I believe.”

“A big aëroplane fitted with a boat’s hull?”

“That’s the idea. But did they give you their position?”

Jack handed over the figures.

“Here they are, sir. But the current from the drifting airship was so
weak that I cannot be absolutely certain as to their accuracy.”

“Well, we’ll have to take them for what they are worth,” said the
captain, scanning them.

“Roughly, they are on our course, sir,” ventured Jack.

“Yes, we can almost make a landfall on them if you got the positions
right. I’ll have full speed ahead signaled. Poor fellows, their plight
must be desperate!”

He hastened off to give the necessary orders, while Jack went back to
his instruments; but, although he tried with all his might to get
another whisper, he could hear nothing.

Either the wrecked airship had gone to the bottom, or else, water having
reached her storage batteries, she could no longer send out word.

But Jack raised another ship,—the _City of Mexico_ of the Vera Cruz
line.

“What’s biting you?” the flippant operator inquired.

“Just got word that a wrecked airship is floating about on the sea,”
flashed back Jack, and gave the latitude and longitude.

“Why, we’ll be there almost as soon as you,” was the reply.

“All right, let’s make it a race,” called Jack. “It is one for a good
cause.”

“Surest thing you know. See you later.”

The _City of Mexico’s_ wireless man cut off. The third officer came into
the wireless room.

“Ready, the old man wants you to make out a bulletin for the passengers.
They’ll go wild over this.”

Jack quickly typed off a bulletin.

  “Shortly before noon, in communication with wrecked and drifting
  flying-boat _Adventurer_. She is about twenty miles to the Southwest.
  We are hurrying at top speed to her assistance and should be there in
  a little over an hour’s time.

  “Ready, Chief Operator, _S. S. Tropic Queen._”

The excitement that followed the posting of this notice on the bulletin
board at the head of the saloon stairs may be imagined by those who have
passed long, dreamy, uneventful days at sea, when even the sight of a
distant sail provides all manner of topics of conversation.

But now they were steaming at top speed toward the hulk of a
flying-boat—that is, provided she was still on the surface. The ship
buzzed and hummed with vibrant excitement. Passengers lined the rails,
and some of the more excitable even tried to swarm into the rigging,
from which exalted positions they were swiftly ejected.

Black smoke poured from the _Tropic Queen’s_ funnels, and the speed of
her accelerated engines caused a humming vibration to run through her
frame like the twanging of a taut fiddle string. On the bridge,
white-uniformed officers stood, with glasses in hand, all on the alert
to catch the first black speck on the sparkling sea which might reveal
the location of the wrecked air adventurers.

Forward, on the forepeak and in the crow’s nest, lookouts had been
doubled. And excitement was added to the race to the rescue when it
became known that the _City of Mexico_ was speeding from the southward
on the same errand of mercy.



CHAPTER XVII

A DERELICT OF THE SKIES


“What a wonderful thing wireless is!” remarked Sam, as the two young
operators stood gazing from the upper deck where their “coop” was
perched.

“Yes, if that flying-boat hadn’t carried even the small, weak equipment
she has, it would have been all off with them,” agreed Jack; “that is,
if they are not at the bottom now.”

“Oh, I hope not!” cried Sam.

“Same here. But still, the sudden way that message cut off looked odd.”

The boys said little more, but kept their attention concentrated,
waiting for the first sharp, quick cry that would announce that the
derelict of the skies had been sighted. It was nerve-racking, the
waiting for that shout.

It seemed that hours had passed, when suddenly there came a sharp bark
from the bows. A keen-eyed salt stationed there had seen something even
before the officers on the bridge had sighted it through their
binoculars.

“What is it, my man?” hailed Captain McDonald through a speaking
trumpet.

“Can’t just make out, sir. It might be a big whale, but it looks to me
like a boat.”

The officers scrutinized the object pointed out through their glasses.
It lay some miles from the ship, spread out darkly on the blue,
gently-heaving sea.

“Can you see any human beings on board it?” demanded Captain McDonald
anxiously of Mr. Metcalf.

“No, sir, I—yes, I do, too. One man. He is standing up, waving.”

“Give me the glasses, Metcalf.”

The captain took the binoculars.

“Yes, you’re right; there’s a man on board. But how long he will keep
afloat, I don’t know. Lucky the sea is calm.”

“You may well say that, sir. In my opinion, whatever he is standing on
is due to sink before long.”

“My opinion, too. But hullo, what is that coming up over the horizon
there?”

“That smoke, sir? That must be the _City of Mexico_.”

“Yes, you’re right, it is. I can see her masts now. She’s coming up
fast.”

“We don’t want to let her beat us, sir.”

“No, indeed; signal below for more speed.”

Mr. Metcalf jerked the engine-room telegraph. A quickened impulse of the
steel hull followed. Inky smoke rolled in volumes from the two funnels
of the big ship. Never had she gone faster. Under the forced draught in
the sweating stokeholds below, the firemen toiled desperately. Steam
screeched from the ’scape pipes in a constant roar, testifying to the
big head of power being carried in the ship’s boilers.

It was a race to thrill the most critical, and a contest of speed, too,
which had, as its goal, a human life; for, from the frantic signals now
being made by the man on the drifting flying-boat, it was plain that he
did not expect to keep above the water much longer.

The _Mexico’s_ wireless man was signaling Jack.

“Hit it up, you _Tropic Queen_.”

“We’re doing nicely, thank you,” came back Jack. “What’s the matter with
your old sea-going smoke wagon?”

In this way the messages between the two on-rushing steamships were
flashed back and forth above the sparkling sea, while the drama of the
race for a life was going forward.

And now the passengers had caught sight of the tiny object adrift on the
vast ocean. A hoarse cheer ascended to the boat decks, in which the
shrill voices of women mingled. They were shouting encouragement and
advice to the castaway of the sky.

He replied by waving. The speed of the ship suddenly was reduced. Under
Quartermaster Schultz a boat crew was made up. Jack begged to be allowed
to be one of them and, to his delight, the captain told him to cut
along.

Sam, although deeply disappointed at being left behind, nevertheless
cheered with the rest as the boat was lowered and struck the water with
a splash. Then, as the steamer’s propellers ground in reverse to check
her way, it dashed off toward the stricken flying-boat.

The craft could be seen quite plainly now—a dainty affair with golden,
shimmering wings supporting a boat-like structure amidships. Jack was
familiar with the general construction of flying-boats, the very latest
type of aëroplane, from pictures he had seen in magazines, but he had
never seen a real one before. He marveled that so frail looking a craft
could have made her way so far out to sea.

But as they neared the stricken airship, shouting words of encouragement
to her lone occupant, a startling thing happened. Simultaneously a groan
burst from the throats of the boat crew.

The flying-boat vanished from the surface of the sea as if she had been
a smudge wiped off a slate with a sponge.



CHAPTER XVIII

A LEAP FOR A LIFE


Had the lone navigator of the craft perished when she gave the last
swift and decisive plunge to the bottom? A groan that went up from the
decks of the _Tropic Queen_, which had steamed quite close, seemed to
indicate that the enthralled onlookers thought so.

But suddenly Jack gave a shout:

“There he is! Over there! Pull for your lives, men!”

The brawny arms of the oarsmen needed no encouragement. Every man bent
to his work till the stout ash sweeps curved and their backs cracked.

The boat flew across the water to a tiny, bobbing, black dot, the head
of the castaway aviator. As they drew closer, they could see his face
turned toward them imploringly. He was a young man, black-haired and
apparently good-looking, although they did not pay much attention to his
appearance just then.

As they drew alongside, his strength suddenly seemed to give out after
the brave struggle he had made, and he disappeared under the water. Even
as he did so, a figure leaped from the boat in a long, clean dive. When
Jack, for it was the young wireless man who had made the daring leap,
reappeared, he held in his arms the body of the half-drowned man.

[Illustration: He held in his arms the body of the half-drowned man.]

A dozen eager hands drew them aboard the boat, while from both the big
steamers, for the _City of Mexico_ had now come up, there arose a mighty
roar of recognition for the plucky rescue. From the _Mexico’s_ signal
halliards a message of congratulation was fluttering as the _Tropic
Queen’s_ boat started back for her ship. In the wireless coop, Sam and
the _City of Mexico’s_ operator were busy exchanging comments by radio.

The aviator soon recovered and was able to talk to Jack as the boat crew
pulled back. His name was Ramon de Garros, and he was a young Frenchman.
He was making the flight from Palm Beach to Havana in the flying-boat in
the interests of a hotel company owning giant hostelries in both places.

He had set out the day before, thinking to finish the flight within a
few hours. Instead, an accident to his engine had compelled him to
alight on the surface of the ocean. Then adverse winds had driven him
far off his course, and finally his gasoline had given out. He luckily
had a wireless apparatus on board, a new, light device with which he had
been experimenting for the government. If it had not been for this, his
chance of rescue would have been slim.

The rails of the ship were lined with men and women who gave the
returning rescuers a hearty roar of welcome as they drew alongside. De
Garros, with the volatility of a true Frenchman, waved his hand to show
that he was not injured. This brought another cheer.

The boat was hoisted home and the crowd pressed about it as Jack
clambered out and extended his hand to De Garros, who was still feeble
from his trying experience. Men and women tried to grasp Jack’s hand,
but he brushed past them, feeling awkward and embarrassed as he
conducted De Garros to the captain’s cabin.

In the crowd was Miss Jarrold, and as they passed her, to Jack’s
astonishment, she and De Garros exchanged looks of unmistakable
recognition. The girl turned away the next instant, but De Garros
exclaimed to Jack:

“What is that young lady doing on this ship?”

“She is accompanying her uncle,” rejoined Jack. “I believe they are on a
pleasure cruise.”

“Her uncle is on board?”

There was a note almost of anxiety in the rescued aviator’s voice as he
put the question.

“Yes. You know him?”

The reply astonished Jack. De Garros’ tone was more than vehement as he
rejoined:

“Know him! I know him too well! I—but never mind about that now.”

Jack had no time to ask questions; indeed, he would have considered it
impertinent to have done so. They now reached the captain’s cabin and
that dignitary himself came forward to greet De Garros. The aviator
explained that he wished to be transported to Kingston, Jamaica, which
was the first port of call of the _Tropic Queen_, and that there he
would cable for money for his passage and so forth.

Captain McDonald greeted him warmly, and clothes from the wardrobe of
the third officer, who was about his size, were found for De Garros, who
was beginning to shiver, warm though the air was. Jack had to hurry off
to relieve Sam at the key. As he left, he and De Garros shook hands
warmly.

“I shall see more of you,” said the young Frenchman.

“I hope so,” responded Jack. “I should like to hear more about your air
voyage, when you have time.”

“I can always make time for the man who saved my life,” was the
rejoinder of the aërial castaway.

“Oh, shucks!” exclaimed Jack, not being able to think of anything else
to say.

Then he hurried back on the job. Half an hour later, in dry clothes, he
was at his key again and exchanging joshes with the operator of the
_Mexico_, as both the stately crafts stood on their courses once more
after participating in what was, probably, the first rescue of an aërial
castaway on record.



CHAPTER XIX

A CALL IN THE NIGHT


Sapphire days of steaming through deep blue tropic seas beneath a
cloudless sky passed by dreamily. The _Tropic Queen_ was now in the
Caribbean, rolling lazily southward through azure water flecked with
golden patches of gulf weed—looking like marine golden-rod. Fleeing
flocks of flying fish scuttered over the water as the steamer’s sharp
bow nosed into the stuff, like a covey of partridges rising from cover
before a sportsman’s gun.

To Jack and Sam, making their first voyage in these waters, everything
was new and fascinating. They never tired of leaning over the rail,
watching the different forms of marine life that were to be seen almost
every moment.

Jack had succeeded in attaching a bell to the wireless apparatus, which,
while it did not sound powerfully when a wireless wave beat against the
antennæ, yet answered its purpose so long as they were in the vicinity
of the wireless room. Jack had hopes, in time, of perfecting a device
which would give a sharp, insistent ring and awaken even the soundest
sleeper. The boy knew that on many small steamers only one wireless
operator is, from motives of economy, carried. When such an operator is
asleep, therefore, the wireless “ears” of his ship are deaf. But with an
alarm bell, such as Jack hoped to bring to perfection, there would be no
danger of the man’s not awakening in time to avert what might prove to
be grave disaster.

They now began to steam past small islands, bare, desolate spots for the
most part, but surrounded by waters clear as crystal and gleaming like
jewels. Some of them were covered with a sparse sort of brush, but
generally they were mere specks of sand in a glowing sea of azure.

One evening Jack was sitting at the key, when through the air there
came, beating at his ears, a wireless summons. Such messages were common
enough and the boy languidly, for the night was stiflingly hot, reached
out a hand for his pencil in order to jot down whatever might be coming.

But the next instant he was sitting bolt upright, sending out with
strong, nervous fingers a crashing reply to the message that had come to
him.

“To any ship in vicinity,” it read. “Send us a boat-load of provisions
and water or we shall perish.”

“Who are you?” flashed Jack’s key in reply.

Feebly, as if the supply of juice was running low, the mysterious sender
of the urgent appeal sent back his answer.

“The Sombrero Island Light. The monthly provision boat has not arrived
from the mainland. We are almost destitute.”

Jack looked up at his wireless map. Sure enough, on a tiny speck of land
not far off, was marked in blue, with a red star, the location of the
island light, the coloring denoting that, like many modern lighthouses,
it was equipped with wireless.

“How many of you are there?” inquired Jack’s radio.

“Two. But my partner, an old man, is bedridden from suffering. I have
not slept for many nights and am almost exhausted.”

“Keep up your courage,” rejoined Jack, “and I’ll see what I can do.”

He hurried forward with his message to the bridge. He found the captain
taking his ease in slippers and pajamas outside the sacred precincts of
his cabin. Jack told him briefly about the communication he had had, and
then handed the skipper the notes he had made of the radio conversation.

The captain looked annoyed. A frown furrowed his forehead.

“Confound it all,” he muttered, “I was making up my mind for a record
run and this means delay. But we can’t neglect to aid those unfortunates
who are probably suffering the pangs of hunger and thirst at this very
moment.”

He paused as if reflecting, while Jack stood by respectfully. The
captain had not dismissed him, and the boy judged that he was
considering some plan.

“Come into the chart room,” he said presently; and Jack followed him
through a doorway into the chart room where the sea-maps were stowed
neatly away in overhead racks.

The captain took down one. Jack saw that it showed the Caribbean. With a
brown forefinger the captain checked off the course of the _Tropic
Queen_ and her present whereabouts, as marked that day by the chief
officer when the log was written up.

“No chance of getting this ship anywhere within ten miles of the
island,” he said, after he had examined the soundings carefully. “It is
one of the worst places charted in these seas.”

“You mean it is unapproachable, sir?” asked Jack.

“Yes, to a degree. It is surrounded by shoals and reefs. It would be
suicide to try to navigate a ship of this size amongst them.”

“What can be done then, sir?” asked Jack, who knew that he would have to
send a reply to the lighthouse keepers.

“We shall be about twenty miles to the east of the island early
to-morrow morning,” said the captain. “You may inform them that I shall
send off a boat and perhaps the doctor, if I can spare him.”

“Very well, sir.”

Jack started away, but then lingered.

“Well, what is it?”

The captain swung around in his chair and looked at the boy who
hesitated in the doorway.

“I—I wondered if it would be possible for me to go along with the boat,
sir?” asked Jack haltingly. There was something very disconcerting in
that direct glance of the captain’s.

“In the boat, you mean?”

“Yes, sir. You see they have wireless there. I might be of some use.
I——”

“There, don’t bother to make excuses,” laughed the captain
good-humoredly. “You really want to go for the sake of the trip, don’t
you?”

“Well, I——” began Jack, feeling rather foolish at having his mind read
so unerringly.

“Will your assistant stand watch if I let you go? The ship must not be
left without a wireless man.”

“Sam will stay, sir,” rejoined Jack. “It is his watch, anyway.”

“All right, then, consider it settled. Cut along now and send out that
message. Those poor devils must be waiting eagerly for it.”

“Very well, sir, and thank you,” exclaimed the delighted Jack.

“Don’t thank me,” said the captain, with a gruffness that a twinkle in
his eye betrayed. “I heard before you joined the ship that you had a
faculty for rushing in where you had no business to be, and now I see
that I was not misinformed.”



CHAPTER XX

TO THE RESCUE


“Aren’t you going to turn in?”

Sam asked the question as, at midnight, he came on watch. He took his
position at the key, but, to his surprise, Jack did not show his usual
alacrity to seek his bunk.

“I guess I’ll sit up a while,” rejoined Jack, without a trace of
drowsiness.

Then he added, as Sam looked his bewilderment, “Sammy, my boy, just cast
your eye over those copies of radios I got and answered while you were
asleep.”

Sam obeyed, scanning the despatches and the answers to them, copied in
carbon, with deep interest. When he had finished he looked up.

“I can guess the reason for your staying up now,” he said.

“Well?” asked Jack, his eyes dancing.

“You’re going along in that boat!”

“A good guess,” laughed Jack. “You don’t mind, do you, Sam?”

“Not a bit. If you will insist on risking your neck, it’s no affair of
mine,” laughed Sam.

“Hum, you’re a nice, sympathetic little friend, aren’t you?” inquired
Jack, giving Sam a dig in the ribs. “But seriously, though,” he added,
“you don’t think it selfish of me to go off alone and——”

“Get a ducking?” chuckled Sam. “No, I don’t. I’d rather be comfortable
here on board than trying to make a landing on an island beach. It’s ten
to one you get tipped over in the surf.”

“Not much danger of that,” said Jack; “we’ve got some skillful oarsmen
in the crew, and you know that boat drill is one of the fads of this
line.”

“Well, what time do you expect to start?”

“Haven’t any idea, but the skipper said we ought to be up with the
island by dawn.”

“If I were you, I’d turn in and get some sleep.”

“Couldn’t take a wink. I’m too keyed up about the trip.”

Jack looked at his watch, the fine gold one that had been presented to
him in Antwerp on his first voyage, in recognition of a brave deed.

“Not one o’clock yet,” he muttered impatiently.

“It won’t be light for four hours anyhow,” counseled Sam; “you’d better
get into your bunk.”

But Jack was so fearful of being left behind that he refused to turn in.
However, after a time, as he sat in the spare chair of the wireless
room, his eyelids did close in spite of all he could do to prevent them.

Sam smiled as, turning around, he saw that his chum was asleep.

It was Schultz, the old quartermaster, who aroused Jack by poking his
head into the door of the wireless room.

“Ahoy, vere is dot Yack vot vants to go midt us py der Somprero Lighdt?”

Jack awakened with a start.

“Eh? What?” he demanded sleepily.

“Vell, don’t you vant to go midt us py der Somprero?” asked Schultz.
“Oder dot you schleep?”

Broad awake now, Jack sprang to his feet.

“All right, Schultz, I’ll be with you in a jiffy,” he exclaimed.

“Don’t make no nefer mindt aboudt gedtting prettied oop,” grinned the
old quartermaster grimly, as Jack plunged his face into a basin of cold
water and parted his tousled hair; “maype vee gedt idt a spill in der
vater before ve gedt back der ship py.”

“There, what did I tell you?” demanded Sam triumphantly; but Jack only
grinned.

There was a great trampling about on the decks outside. The men who had
been selected to form the boat’s crew, the pick of the sailors, were
running about, loading the small craft with provisions and barrels of
fresh water.

To the men this sudden call for a trip to the shore came in the nature
of a junket. It afforded an agreeable bit of relaxation in the midst of
the hum-drum monotony of sea life. A sailor on such an expedition is
like a boy off on a picnic. The men joked and laughed as, in the gray of
the early light, they hustled about between boat and storeroom.

Dr. Flynn, to Jack’s disappointment, was unable to go. A sick patient on
board demanded all his attention. But he put up a case of medicines for
the old light keeper and gave Jack directions how to administer them;
for, by means of the old man’s symptoms, transmitted by wireless through
Jack, the doctor of the _Tropic Queen_ had been able to diagnose the
trouble as being a case of tropic fever.

At last all was ready, and a few early-rising passengers saw the boat
lowered and pulled away for the dim speck of land on the far horizon
that marked the site of Sombrero Island. A few moments later the
stopping of the _Tropic Queen’s_ engines aroused the other passengers,
and before the breakfast bugle blew, the ship was humming with
conjecture and surmise as to the reason for the sudden check in the
voyage.

A bulletin, posted by the captain’s orders, dispelled the mystery. It
also announced that the boat was expected back by evening at the latest.



CHAPTER XXI

A TALE OF THE SEA


The boat, urged by strong arms, fairly flew over the water.
Quartermaster Schultz served out breakfast to the crew in relays, for no
time had been taken for eating before they started. Jack felt in high
spirits. The morning was clear and quite cool. The scorching heat of the
day would not come till later, when the sun rose higher.

“Ach, idt vos a badt ding to be on a lighdthouse midout help from der
supply boat undt not knowing if you vill lif or die,” said the old
quartermaster, as he sat in the stern sheets with Jack. “I rememper ven
I vos younger vunce I vos tired of der sea undt ships, undt I take idt a
yob on a lighdthouse off der coast of Oregon on der Bacific.

“Der Big Boint Lighdt vos its name. It vos known as vun of der loneliest
of all der lighdts on dot rocky coast. Budt I didn’t care about dot, or
I dought I didn’t. Der pay vos goodt undt dere vos annunder keeper, an
oldt man, oldt enough to be mein fadder, I reckon.

“Vell, der supply boat idt take me to der lighdt, budt a badt storm came
up after dey hadt landed me, undt dey had to go avay again. To get to
der lighdt from der schmall boat dey sendt me ashore in, I hadt to be
hoisted oop in a sordt of basket from der boat by a derrick. Der lighdt
vos just as lonely as I hadt heardt idt vos. Idt stood on a big rock
vich formed der endt of a sordt of peninsula of rocks dot ran out two
miles from der shore.

“Idt vos buildt of stone undt lookedt strong undt substantial. Idt
needed to pe so, I dought, as I lookedt aboudt me undt sized der place
oop.

“Der oldt man on der lighdt, his name vos Abbott, velcomed me. He vos a
fine-looking oldt man, midt pale blue eyes undt a long white beard.
After de boat hadt left, pecause of der rising sea, der oldt man toldt
me dot ve vos in for a badt storm.

“‘Let idt come,’ said I, ‘dis tower is as strong aber der rock idt is
built on. Nuddings can harm idt.’

“He didn’t say nuddings, budt showed me my quarters vich vos in der
lower pardt of de tower. Den he took me oop to show me der lamp, an oil
burner midt a two minute flash.

“‘Many a poor sould vill bless dis lamp to-nighdt,’ he saidt to me, undt
den he vent on to tell me dot his son vos a sailor on de China run on a
pig tea clipper.

“‘He is homevard boundt now, undt ought to pe off dis coast to-nighdt,’
he said. ‘His ship runs into Portlandt.’

“Vell, ve cooked our supper undt ate idt vhile der sea oudtside kept
rising undt der windt hadt a sordt of a moan in idt dot made you dink of
somepody in bain. I couldt see dot ve vere in for a mighty badt nighdt.
After ve had eaten, der oldt man, his name vos Abbott, climbed oop der
tower undt lighted der lamps.

“Den he sedt in motion der clockvurk dot kept der lighdt revolving all
t’rough der nighdt giffing oudt der regular flashes, as sedt down on der
charts. Ven dot vos done dere vosn’t much to do budt to smoke undt talk.
Der oldt man vosn’t much of a handt for talking, budt aboudt his son he
had a lodt to say. Vot a fine poy he vos, undt how he vos going to try
to gedt him to leave der sea after dot voyage, der oldt man knowing der
sea undt how efery voyage may pe a sailor’s last. He showed me his
picture, too. A fine figure of a poy. Ach, yes, undt to dink of vot vos
to happen dot night! Poor oldt Abbott, dot vos many years ago, budt I
can hear him still telling me aboudt his poy Harry, undt vot a fine poy
he vos.

“Vell, py der time idt vos my turn to go to bed der vind vos howling
undt tearing roundt der lighdt like a pack of wolves. Der sea vos
gedtting oop, too. You could hear idt roar like vild beasts roundt der
place. I foundt myself being mighty gladt dot der tower vos of solidt
stone. Nudding else couldt have stoodt idt.

“Outside der lighdt vos a small stone shanty. In dis vos der boiler vich
made der fog-horn blow. Oldt man Abbott toldt me pefore I go to bedt dot
I hadt bedder start der fires oop undter der boiler, so dot if anyting
happened to der lighdt ve vould still be able to varn der ships.

“Ven I open der door to go to der boiler room der vind almost knocks me
off my feedt. Der spray blows in my face like knives. Der sea vos all
vhite, like idt vos boiling. I dell you, dot vos a nighdt, budt idt vos
nudding to vot vos to come.

“I got steam oop undt banked der fires. Den I turned in till oldt man
Abbott should rouse me for my vatch. I didn’t sleep much, vhat vith der
devils howling of vind, and der roar of der sea. Ven oldt man Abbott
vake me, he say dot I shall come oop into der lantern.

“I hurried on a few clo’es and climbed oop. Himmel! At der top of der
tower you couldt feel dot stone shake, der vind vos so fierce! Oldt man
Abbott, he vos yust sitting dere saying nudding, budt staring out. He
didn’t turn ven I came in, budt yust kept on staring. Budt at last he
turn round to me undt holdt oop vun of his vingers, solemn like.

“‘Hark!’ he say.

“‘I don’t can hear idt nuddings,’ I saidt.

“He shook his oldt vhite head.

“‘Don’t you hear dem calling?’ he saidt. ‘Listen!’

“I began to dink dot der oldt man hadt gone crazy, as lighdt keepers
sometimes do. For der life of me I could hear nuddings budt der vind
undt der sea. All at vonce a vave came crashing against der glass of der
lantern. You could hear der vater swish undt crash on der lenses.

“Der tower shook as if idt hadt been struck a blow. I pegan to feel a
bidt scared. A few more vaves like dot undt nudding dot man buildt could
standt idt. Budt oldt man Abbott, he say nudding. Py undt py I saw his
lips move undt I dought maype he vos praying.

“I not interrupt him budt come downstairs again. I know I must see to
der furnace under der boiler in der vistle house. But ven I opened der
door I vos blown in again. Dot vind vos so strong dot idt drove me
righdt back, undt I vos a strong young man den, too, midt my muscles
hardened on ships all ofer der vurld. I saw dot if I vanted to endt idt
my life, all I had to do vos to try to gedt to dot boiler house. So I
gif idt oop, undt come in py der tower again.

“I go oop py der lighdt. Ach, it vos terrible oop dere! Der seas vos so
pig dot dey sweep righdt ofer der tower. Small rocks undt stones
hammered against der lenses till you vould haf dought dey must be
smashed in! Budt dey vere of t’ick, strong glass undt dey stoodt idt.

“Oldt man Abbott, he asks me to go pelow undt gedt him some coffee. Py
dot time idt is gedtting on toward morning. Der storm is schreeching
undt howling undt ramping like ten t’ousand teufels. Sometimes ven a big
vave hit der tower idt shake like dere vos an eart’quake gotd idt in its
teef!

“‘Schultz,’ I say by meinselfs, ‘you are one pig fool, mein fine fellow,
to leave der sea. Aber idt is bedder to die on a goodt ship dan in der
wreck of a lighdthouse.’

“I haf youst aboudt godt der coffee ready ven der oldt man comes down.
Dere vos a vild look in his eyes like he hadt seen a ghost.

“‘Dere’s a ship, a fine ship, she’s driven ashore on der Squabs,’ he
said. Der Squabs peing vot ve called der long neck of small rocks
petween der Big Lighdt undt der shore.

“‘Impossible!’ saidt I. ’Ve vould half heardt idt der rockets aber der
guns if such hadt been der case.’

“’Pelief idt or nodt as you like,’ he said, ‘budt dere is a ship ashore.
I heardt der poor soulds on her screaming undt praying.’

“I looked at him, dinking he had suddenly gone crazy. Budt he looked
quite sane undt serious.

“‘Idt is a terrible ding,’ he said, ‘to die like dot midtoudt a grave
budt der sea to lay your headt in, till der judgment day ven der good
book tells us dere shall pe no more sea.’

“‘Mr. Abbott,’ I saidt, ‘I dink you hadt bedder dake your coffee undt go
to bedt. You are overtired.’

“‘I shall keep oop till der storm dies oudt,’ he saidt, undt I shall
nefer forget his voice as he saidt dot. ‘I must see vot ship dot vos dot
drove ashore.’

“Suddenly, above us, ve heardt a terrible noise as if der lighdthouse
vos peing torn to bits. Idt came from der oopper pardt of der tower. I
rushed to der foot of der steps undt vos medt py a rush of vater.

“As idt swept py me idt almost knocked me off my feedt! Righdt avay I
know vot hadt happened. A big vave hadt smashed in der light, or more
likely a big rock, hurled py der vave, hadt done der damage.

“Midt oldt man Abbott close behindt me, I fought my vay oop der steps.

“Himmel! I nefer forget vot ve findt!

“Der whole top of der lantern, idt hadt been cut off as if py a knife!
Only ragged edges of stone showed vhere idt hadt been. Der lighdthouse
vos no longer a lighdthouse, undt vos of no goodt to varn ships of der
danger.

“As ve stoodt dere annuder big vave come sweeping ofer undt half drowned
us. A big rock just missed mein headt, undt der vater go pouring down
der stairs like a cascade.

“‘Ve must go pelow undt shut der door at der bottom of der stairs,’ I
say; ‘uddervise ve pe drowned oudt.’

“Der oldt man nodded as if he only half understoodt.

“‘Yah, yah; drowned, drowned, drowned,’ he saidt to himself; ‘drowned
like der poor folk on der wreck.’

“I got him down der stairs pefore annuder big vave come, undt den shut
der door so dot no more big vaves come into der room. Budt der place vos
a sight! Dere vos six inches of vater in dere vich hadn’t flowed oudt
unter der door. Budt liddle by liddle idt drained oudt.

“No more big vaves come. Idt look as if der storm, hafing wrecked der
lighdthouse, vos content to lie down undt pe quiet for a vhile. Bimeby,
ven der vind drop, I go out py der boiler house.

“Idt hadt gone! Vere idt hadt stood dere vos nudding! Dose vaves hadt
taken idt off der rock as if idt hadt been a shellfish!

“‘Ach, dis is badt,’ I say to meinself. ‘Der lighdthouse is wrecked undt
I lose my yob!’

“Der storm died down fast, undt py der time idt vos daylighdt, dere
being nuddings to do budt to sit round undt vait for der supply boat to
come back, I dropped off into a soundt sleep. I vakened oop an hour or
two later. Der kitchen vere ve hadt been sitting vos empty. I vent up
into der ruins of der lamp, budt oldt man Abbott vos not dere eidder.

“I call for him budt dere comes no answer. Den I go oudtside on der rock
undt I findt him. He is lying very still on der edge of der vater. Close
py him is a big log vich look like part of der spar of a ship. Preddy
soon I see dat dere is someting on der spar, undt I look undt see dot
idt is a man. He is quite dead, dat I see by a look adt his face.

“Den I look again. Undt den I see vy oldt man Abbott lies so still on
der edge of der rock. Der face of der man on der spar vos der face of
his son Harry! Undt oldt man Abbott is deadt.

“Der ship dot der oldt man, in some mysterious vay, heardt drive to her
death on der rocks, vos his son’s ship, der vun on vich he vos making
his homevard voyage. Vell, for a day I stay on der rock midt der dead
fadder undt der deadt son, undt den der relief ship come. Dey bury der
oldt man undt der boy side py side der next day, undt I leave dot part
of der country; undt since den I nefer see a lighdthouse budt I dink of
oldt man Abbott undt der homevard bound son he never saw.”

Not long after the conclusion of the old sailor’s story, which left him
glum and taciturn, the white spiral of the Sombrero Island Light came
into view, sticking up like a finger on the sandy islet whose name it
bore. As they drew closer, Jack could make out a solitary figure on the
beach. It was the light keeper, who was soon greeting them with
heartfelt gratitude. He was probably a young man, but the anxiety he had
been through had aged him in a few nights.

While the sailors were unloading the provisions and water, for drinking
water on that desolate island could only be caught in tanks when it
rained, Jack visited the other light keeper. He found him much better
than he had been when the wireless message was sent out. In fact, after
some of the remedies Dr. Flynn had sent had been administered, he
declared he would be strong enough to go about his duty that night.

The light keepers explained that they were doubly anxious for a sight of
the relief ship, for her appearance meant that they would go on a
month’s vacation, their places to be taken by two other men the relief
craft was bringing out. Before they left the island, Jack had the
satisfaction of spying a distant sail on the horizon. The light keeper,
who was up and about, scrutinized it through his glass. He broke into an
exclamation of thankfulness the next minute.

“It’s the old _Solitaire_, sure enough!” he cried. “She must have been
delayed by storms.”

“Looks as if one of der top masdts, idt has been carried avay,” declared
Schultz, who had borrowed the glass.

“Is the _Solitaire_ the relief ship?” asked Jack.

“Yes; the same old schooner that always comes. Oh, won’t Barney be glad!
It’ll be better to him than medicine.” And the keeper of the light ran
toward the tower to tell his companion the good news.

And so, as they rowed back to the ship, they left the light keepers
happy, but nevertheless old Schultz shook his head as he spoke of them.

“Aber, I’d radder pe a sea-cook dan a keeper py a lighdthouse,” he said
with deep conviction; and added, nodding his head solemnly, “I know.”



CHAPTER XXII

A DECOY MESSAGE


The following days passed quickly and pleasantly. The friendship between
De Garros and Jack ripened, being nourished, of course, by their mutual
interest in wireless, of which De Garros was a capable exponent. He did
not revert again to the subject of any previous acquaintance with
Jarrold and his niece and, seeing his reticence concerning it, Jack
avoided the topic.

At last Jamaica was sighted on the horizon. Some hours later they were
steaming through a deep blue sea along brilliantly green shores, above
which rose rugged peaks and mountains. Jack and Sam gazed with delight
at the scene as it unrolled.

The big steamer slowly rounded the long, sandy arm of Port Royal and
took on the black pilot. Then she proceeded up the harbor, following a
twisted, tortuous channel, past mangrove swamps, ruined batteries and
rankly growing royal palms.

As soon as the ship had docked, Jack and Sam both received leave to go
ashore. As may be imagined, they did not waste much time on
preparations, but were on the deck almost as soon as the gang-plank was
down. Most of the passengers followed their example, and as but few of
the ship’s company were leaving the _Tropic Queen_ at Kingston, the
quaint town, with its cement stores and hotels, its dusty streets and
swarming negroes, was soon thronged with sightseers.

Jack and Sam chartered one of the hacks that are everywhere present in
the town, and ordered the driver to show them about the city. They found
that while the main town was businesslike and substantial with its
concrete structures and stores, the back streets still showed abundant
evidences of the earthquake, which some years ago shook down most of the
city and caused a tremendous loss of life.

Some of the houses looked as if they had been shell-ridden. The roofs
had fallen in, showing the bare rafters. Walls were cracked, and in some
places the entire front was out of a house, revealing the interior of
the bare rooms.

“I don’t see very much that is interesting here,” said Jack at length.
“Suppose we go back to the hotel that was recommended to us?”

“I’m agreeable,” said Sam. “So far, my chief impression of Kingston is
dust and noisy niggers.”

The order was given to the black driver, and they were soon rolling back
to the hotel that Jack had mentioned. It was a picturesque structure in
the Spanish style of architecture, which harmonized well with the tropic
gardens surrounding it. Passing through the lobby, where they stopped to
buy postcards, the boys found themselves in a palm grove facing the blue
waters of the harbor.

A delightful breeze rustled through the palms and the boys contentedly
threw themselves into chairs and ordered two lemonades. They sipped them
slowly while they enjoyed the view and the shade. Many others from the
ship had found their way there, too. Among them was Colonel Minturn with
a party of friends.

He passed the boys with a friendly nod. He had hardly gone by, when
Jack, who had happened to look around, gave a start.

Standing behind a palm and watching the Minturn party intently, was
Jarrold. The trunk of the tree afforded him ample protection from the
observation of the man he was watching with an unwavering scrutiny.

Apparently he had not seen the boys. Jack nudged Sam and gave him a
whispered warning not to turn around.

“Jarrold is there, watching Colonel Minturn. He is plotting some
mischief. I am sure of it.”

“Wherever he is, there is trouble,” agreed Sam.

“That’s just where you are right,” replied Jack.

“Is his pretty niece with him?” inquired Jack’s companion.

“I don’t see her. By the way, I wonder where De Garros met them. Queer
that, although they know each other, as De Garros admits, they never
speak.”

“They probably met abroad somewhere,” hazarded Sam.

“I suppose so,” was the reply, and then the talk drifted to other
subjects. But Jack had shifted his chair so as to watch Jarrold without
appearing to do so. Before long, the man turned and strolled in the
direction of a terrace which opened on the palm garden.

Jack half rose from his chair as if he intended to follow him.

“What’s the trouble?” asked Sam.

“I don’t mean to let Jarrold out of my sight, that’s all,” said Jack.
“But look! He has stopped. He is talking to someone. That chap in a sun
helmet. I can’t see his face, but somehow he looks mighty familiar to
me.”

The young man who had joined Jarrold strolled along the terrace with him
till they both found chairs. Then they sat down and seemed to be engaged
in earnest conversation. The stranger, who yet seemed familiar to Jack,
had his back turned to them so that it was impossible to see his
features.

At length they arose, shook hands as if they had come to an agreement on
some matter, and parted. Jarrold came into the garden and took a seat at
a table. He scowled heavily at the boys as he passed them, but gave no
other sign of recognition. Suddenly Jack rose to his feet.

“I’m a fine chump!” he exclaimed. “I ought to have brought my camera
along. Hanged if I didn’t forget it!”

“Why don’t you go back to the ship for it?” asked Sam. “It’s not very
far. You can get there and back in twenty minutes or less if you drive.”

“That part of it is all right. But I hate to leave His Nibs, there,
unwatched.”

“Oh, as for that, I’ll take care of him till you get back,” Sam
promised.

“Bully for you! Then I’ll go. And say——”

But at that moment a page came into the garden. He was calling for “Mr.
Ready.”

“Means me, I guess,” laughed Jack, “although it sounds new to be called
‘Mr. Ready.’ What do you want?” he asked, stopping the boy.

“You are Mr. Ready? All right then, there’s a telephone message for you.
You’re wanted back on the ship as soon as possible.”

“That’s a funny coincidence,” murmured Jack; “just as I was ready to go,
too.”

As the page hurried off, Jack turned to Sam:

“I can’t think what they can want me for; still, orders are orders. You
stay here and watch His Nibs yonder, then, Sam, till I get back. If he
goes anywhere, follow him, but don’t take any chances. He’s got no great
love for either of us, I fancy.”

“Well, I guess not, after the pummeling you gave him,” laughed Sam.

Jack hurried off. Orders were orders, and although he could not imagine
what he could be wanted for on board the _Tropic Queen_, he knew that it
was his duty to obey at once. But, to his astonishment, when he reached
the ship he found that there had been no message for him so far as
anybody knew. All the ship’s officers were ashore and the ship deserted,
except for the crew unloading the bulky cargo, while black stevedores
sung and swore and steam winches rattled and roared to the accompaniment
of the harsh screaming of the bos’n’s pipe.

A good deal puzzled, Jack was retracing his steps to the hotel and the
pleasant coolness of the garden, when he was suddenly accosted by a
young man who stepped from around the corner of a building.

“Hello there, Jack Ready! Well, if I’m not glad to see you!”

It was Ralph Cummings, the operator whose place had been taken by Sam
Smalley on Jack’s recommendation.



CHAPTER XXIII

FALSE FRIENDSHIP


Jack had no great liking for Cummings. In fact, at the time the latter
lost his job on the _Tropic Queen_, he had left in a rage, swearing that
he would “get even.”

But now he held out his hand with a frank smile, or one that was
intended to be frank but was not, for Cummings hadn’t that kind of a
face. He was about Jack’s age, with sandy hair, low, rather receding
forehead and shifty, light eyes that had a habit of looking on the
ground when he spoke.

“Well, well, Ready,” he exclaimed. “It’s good to see a face from home.”

“Thanks,” said Jack, “but if I recollect rightly you were not so crazy
about seeing me again, the last time we met.”

He instinctively distrusted this fellow. There was something assumed,
something that did not ring true about his apparent heartiness.

“Oh, come now, Ready, here we are thousands of miles from home and
you’re still holding that old grudge against me! Shake hands, man, and
forget it.”

Jack began to feel rather ashamed of his brusqueness. After all,
Cummings might be more unfortunate in manner than intentionally
unpleasant.

“That’s all right, Cummings,” he said, extending his hand. “I’m glad to
see you, too. Here on a ship?”

“Yes, a small one, though. Not a liner like the _Tropic Queen_, but it
was the best I could get.”

Jack felt a twinge of remorse. Cummings said this uncomplainingly and
yet with an emphasis that made Jack feel uncomfortable. The man was
incompetent, it was true, but still, Jack almost began to think that he
ought to have given him another chance.

“When did you get in?” pursued Cummings.

“This morning. We’ll lie here two days, I guess. We’ve got a big cargo.”

“Is that so? Well, I hope we’ll see a lot of each other.”

“I hope so, too,” said Jack, without, however, very much cordiality.

“Well, come and have a drink before you go,” suggested Cummings.

“Thanks, but I never drink. I think it would be better for you, too,
Cummings, if you did not touch liquor.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that. I wanted you to try some cola. It’s a native
drink. They make it here. It’s very cool and nice.”

Jack had been walking fast and was hot. The idea appealed to his
thirsty, dust-filled throat.

“All right, Cummings. Where do you go?” he said.

“Down here. We could get it at a soda fountain in the drug store yonder;
but it’s better in the native quarter right down this street.”

He motioned down the side street from which he had emerged when Jack
encountered him.

“All right; but I can’t stay long. I’ve got a friend waiting for me.”

“That’s all right,” Cummings assured him. “It’s not more than a block
and you can take a short cut back to the hotel to save time.”

They walked down a curious narrow street with high-walled gardens on
either side. Over the tops of the walls, in some places, great creepers
straggled, spangled with gorgeous red and purple flowers. In other
spots, drooping above the walls could be seen the giant fronds of banana
plants, or tenuous palm tree tops.

Cummings stopped in front of a plaster house, badly cracked by the
earthquake.

“Right in here,” he said.

Jack followed him into the dark, cool interior. After the blinding glare
of the sun outside, it was hard at first to make out the surroundings.
But Jack’s eyes soon became accustomed to the gloom, and he saw that
they were in a small room with a polished floor and that two or three
chairs and tables were scattered about.

An old negro woman of hideous appearance, with one eye and two solitary
teeth gleaming out of her sooty, black face, shuffled in. She wore a
calico dress and a red bandana handkerchief and was smoking a home-made
cigar.

Cummings, who seemed quite at home in the place, greeted her as Mother
Jenny. He ordered “two colas.”

“Great place this, eh?” said Cummings with easy familiarity, leaning
back. “You know I’ve made several voyages to the tropics, and when I’m
in Kingston I always like to come in here. There’s a sort of local color
about it.”

“And a lot of local dirt, too,” commented Jack, rather disgustedly
sniffing at the atmosphere, which was an odd combination of stale
tobacco smoke, mustiness and a peculiar odor inseparable from the native
quarters of tropical cities.

However, the cola, when it arrived, quite made up for all these
deficiencies. It was served in carved calabashes and tasted like a sort
of sublimated soda pop.

“Great stuff, eh?” said Cummings, gulping his with great relish.

“It is good,” admitted Jack. “You’d be a lot better off, Cummings, if
you only drank this sort of stuff.”

“Now don’t preach, Ready,” was the rejoinder. “You can’t be a man and
not drink liquor.”

“That might have been true a hundred years ago, but it certainly isn’t
to-day,” retorted Jack. “The great corporations won’t hire men who
drink. It’s gone out of date. The man who drinks is putting himself on
the toboggan slide.”

“Say, you ought to have been in the Salvation Army,” said Cummings, with
what amounted to a veiled sneer.

Strangely enough Jack did not resent this. His head felt very heavy
suddenly. The bright patch of sunlight outside began to sway and waver
queerly.

“I—I don’t feel very well,” he said presently in a feeble tone.

“Must be the sun,” said Cummings. “I’d better call a hack and take you
to the hotel. The sun often effects newcomers like that.”

“I wish you’d get a rig,” said Jack feebly, preventing himself from
falling forward on the table only by a rigid effort.

Cummings jumped to his feet and hurried from the place.

“That native stuff worked quicker than I thought,” he muttered. “Now to
get a rig and meet Jarrold. I guess he’ll think I’ve done a good job.
Anyhow, I’m getting square on that conceited young fool for losing me my
position.”



CHAPTER XXIV

KIDNAPPED


A rig was passing and Cummings hailed the driver.

“There’s a sick man in here and I want you to give me a hand to get him
out, and drive where I tell you,” he said. “You’ll be paid well if you
don’t ask questions.”

“Dere’s been berry many sick mans come out’n Mother Jenny’s,”
volunteered the man with a grin as he pulled up his aged horse.

“You just keep your mouth shut. That’s all I want you to do,” said
Cummings with a scowl.

“Oh, berry well, Busha,” said the black with a grin.

“Wait here, I’ll be out in a minute,” said Ralph Cummings. He hurried
back into the unsavory interior of the place and presently issued again,
supporting Jack, who was reeling and swaying from side to side and who
gazed about him with a vacant expression.

It was at this moment that a dapper little man came hastening along the
street.

“Good gracious, can it be possible that that is Jack Ready in such a
condition?” he exclaimed. “Being led out of a low dram shop! It’s
incredible! I’d not believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.”

He bustled up to Cummings, who was just putting Jack into the cab, where
the young wireless boy collapsed, breathing heavily and rolling his eyes
stupidly about.

“My friend, pardon me,” he exclaimed, addressing Cummings, “but my name
is De Garros. I am a friend of this young man’s from the _Tropic Queen_.
In fact I owe my life to him. Is he ill?”

“Ill nothing! He’s just taken a drop too much. Sea-faring men often do.”

De Garros threw up his hands in horror.

“I would never have believed it,” he cried incredulously; “yet it must
be true! Ready, are you ill?”

Jack mumbled something incoherently in rejoinder. De Garros looked his
disgust.

“What did I tell you?” sneered Cummings. “I’m taking him to a hotel.
He’ll be all right in a few hours.”

“I am glad he has a friend to take care of him,” declared the dapper
little aviator, and he hurried on, shaking his head over the
intemperance which he had been led by Cummings to believe was the cause
of Jack’s plight.

“That’s another spoke in your wheel, my lad,” muttered Cummings as he
got in beside the now senseless youth. “I don’t know who your friend is,
but he won’t think much of you after this, if, indeed, he ever sees you
again.”

He leaned forward and gave a direction to the driver.

“Drive out along the Castle Road,” he said, mentioning an unfrequented
road that led to the outskirts of Kingston.

The darky nodded. All these queer proceedings were none of his business.
Their road led through the negro quarter of the town and they passed
hardly a white face. Such negroes as they encountered merely stared
stolidly at the white-faced, reeling youth seated at Cummings’ side.

By and by the houses began to thin out. Then, in the distance, down the
dusty road, they came in view of an automobile halted at the roadside.

“Stop at that car,” ordered Cummings.

“At dat mobolbubbul?” asked the black.

“That’s what I said, you inky-faced idiot,” snapped Cummings.

“My, my, dayt am a nice gen’mums, fo’ sho’,” muttered the old darky. “Ah
don’ jes’ lak de looks ob dese circumloquoshons nohow, an’ Ah am goin’
ter keep mah eyes wide open. Yes, sah, jes’ dat berry ting.”

By the side of the halted car stood Jarrold. He wore a broad Panama hat
and a long white dust coat.

“Well, you got him, I see,” said Jarrold, with an evil grin that showed
all his tusk-like teeth, as the darky’s rickety old vehicle came to a
halt.

“Yes, it was like taking candy from a child,” responded Cummings. “Now
if you’ll just give me a lift in with him, governor, we’ll get started.”

Between them, the two rascals half pushed, half carried Jack’s limp form
into the back of the auto. Jarrold dug down into his pockets.

“This is the right road for the Lion’s Mouth, isn’t it?” he demanded of
the darky. “It’s years since I was there and I’ve forgotten much about
it.”

The black looked at him with dropping jaw.

“De Lion’s Mouf out by der ole castle, Busha?” he asked.

“Yes, of course,” was the impatient response. “This is the right road?”

“Oh, yas, sah, yas, sah,” sputtered the driver.

Jarrold gave him a big bill and told him to “keep his mouth shut with
that.” The darky looked at the bill and his eyes rolled with
astonishment.

“Dere’s suthin’ wrong hyer,” he muttered as he climbed into his rickety
old rig and prepared to drive back to town. “Hones’ folks wouldn’ give
ole Black Strap dat amoun’ uv money fo’ dat lilly bitty ride ’less dey
was suthin’ fishy. Reckon Ah’ll do some ’vestigatin’ when Ah gits back
to der town.”

In the meantime, Jarrold had taken the driver’s seat of the car and
Cummings sat beside him. In a cloud of dust they started down the road,
the old darky gazing after them till long after they had passed out of
sight.

Then he whipped up his bony old nag to its best speed and hurried back
to Kingston.



CHAPTER XXV

SAM, A TRUE FRIEND


Sam saw Jarrold get up and leave his table suddenly. The boy was on his
feet in a minute and on his trail. Jarrold walked off quickly as if in a
hurry. But Sam trailed him through the lobby. In front of the hotel
stood an automobile, in the tonneau of which sat Jarrold’s pretty niece.

Sam got behind a pillar of the Spanish portico and strained his ears to
hear what the two were saying, as Jarrold paused with his foot on the
running board. A chauffeur, who had apparently driven his car from some
garage, stood beside it waiting respectfully.

The listening boy could not hear much. But he saw the girl clasp her
hands as if pleading with her uncle not to do some contemplated act, and
he heard Jarrold grate out harshly:

“Shut up, I tell you. What do you know about it?”

Then Jarrold turned to the chauffeur.

“You can go, my man. I’ll drive myself,” he said, and then he jumped in
and drove off at a fast pace, while Sam stood helplessly on the portico.
Jarrold had escaped his surveillance and it appeared, from the scrap of
conversation that he had overheard, that mischief was in the wind.

Even had he had the money to hire another car, it would have been too
late. Sam felt vaguely that he had been outgeneraled. He went back to
the hotel to wait for his chum. But lunch time came, and no Jack.

Sam began to get worried. Still, Jack might have been detained on the
ship. Partly to keep from worrying and partly to occupy his time, Sam
set out to walk to the ship.

He found old Schultz, the quartermaster, superintending the getting out
of the cargo.

“Seen Ready about, Schultz?” he asked, going up to the old man.

“Sure I seen idt him,” was the reply.

“Where is he?”

“How shouldt I know? I vos busy votching dese plack peggars vurk. Aber,
if I don’d vatch, dey all go py scheebs alretty. Yah.”

“But he came to the ship some time ago.”

“Ach! Don’d I know idt dot? Budt he leftd again, oh, an hour ago. Some
fool call him up py delephones undt tell him he is vanted. Dot is pig
lie. Nobotty vants him on der ship, so he go. Dot is all I know.”

Sam looked dismayed. If Jack had left the ship to return to the hotel an
hour before, then he should have reached there ages ago. He was not
likely to linger, either, considering how anxious he was to observe
Jarrold’s movements. What could be the explanation? Was he hurt or
injured, or was some plot in execution against him?

But Jack had no enemies in the world so far as Sam knew, and certainly
he had none in Kingston, where he was an utter stranger. Was it possible
that Jarrold—but no, that sinister personage had been quietly seated at
a table in the hotel garden till the time he drove off with his niece.

Feeling puzzled and depressed, Sam went ashore once more and called up
the hospitals, in the belief that his chum might have been injured. But
nobody even remotely resembling Jack had been seen there. Nor did his
search in other quarters result any more favorably. At length Sam went
back to the hotel in the vain hope that Jack might have been delayed in
some way, and that they had passed each other.

But no trace of his chum did he find there, either. The lad made a
miserable pretext of eating lunch and then set out on his search again.
By this time he was absolutely certain that harm of some sort had come
to Jack.

As he was leaving the hotel gates, he almost collided with a figure just
coming in. He greeted the newcomer with a cry of joy. In the mood he was
in, Sam longed for someone in whom to confide his fears about Jack.

“Why, what is the matter?” demanded the other as Sam exclaimed,

“I am glad I met you. I’m in great trouble. It’s about Jack. He left
here to go to the ship. He was summoned there by telephone. But on his
arrival at the dock, he found that the message was either a mistake or a
wilful hoax.”

“So?” said the aviator softly. “Go on, my young friend.”

“That much I found out by inquiry at the ship after I tired of waiting
for him to return.”

“Yes, and then?”

Sam noticed something most peculiar about the aviator’s manner, but he
was in no mood just then to criticize it.

“Well, that’s about all. He just hasn’t shown up and I can’t find any
trace of him.”

“That is more than strange,” said De Garros in a serious voice, “when I
tell you that I myself saw him not more than two hours ago.”

“You saw him?”

“Yes.”

“Where.”

De Garros looked embarrassed. He laid a kindly hand on the shoulder of
the anxious lad beside him.

“I hated to believe my own eyes and I hate to tell you what I saw,” he
said seriously, “but I saw your chum and my friend being helped out of a
low dram shop in the negro quarter into a cab. He was—I hate to say it,
but I must—tipsy.”

Sam started back from the Frenchman with flaming cheeks and angry eyes.

“It’s a lie, I don’t care who says it!—It’s a lie!” he burst out
angrily.



CHAPTER XXVI

A WICKED PLAN


How Cummings came to be acting as the rascally Jarrold’s agent is easily
explained. After he was discharged from the _Tropic Queen_ at Jack’s
behest, he had drifted about seeking any sort of a job. In this way he
discovered that a yacht called the _Endymion_ was being fitted out for a
mysterious voyage.

There were several things about the _Endymion_ and her crew that had
prevented other wireless operators from accepting a berth on her.

No information was forthcoming as to the nature of her cruise or its
destination or even who the owner was.

But Cummings was not particular. He met Jarrold on board and after an
interview with the master rogue, in which he bound himself to ask no
questions but obey orders, he found himself signed on as the yacht’s
wireless man.

The _Endymion_, as we know, was a much faster boat than the _Tropic
Queen_, and had arrived in Kingston, after her mysterious maneuvering on
the voyage south, a day ahead of the liner, slipping in almost unnoticed
and docking at a remote pier. As soon as the _Tropic Queen_ docked,
Jarrold, to whom alone these arrangements were known, hastened to the
_Endymion_. He found Cummings and assigned to him the job of getting
Jack Ready into his power. Cummings would have obeyed Jarrold anyhow,
but the work given him held an added relish, for it afforded him an
opportunity to take revenge on the lad whom he hated with a malicious
envy.

As the auto sped along the road, passing few people and those, country
negroes driving donkeys laden with produce for the Kingston market,
Cummings related with great glee to Jarrold the manner in which he had
tricked Jack into taking the drugged drink.

“I’ll take good care of you for putting the job through as you did,”
Jarrold assured the treacherous youth. “With that young meddler out of
the way, I’ll accomplish what I set out to do before the _Tropic Queen_
reaches Panama.”

“Do you still intend to transfer to the _Endymion_ as soon as you have
the papers in your possession?” asked Cummings.

“Yes. I shall signal you by the red flash.”

“By the way, what happened to your apparatus the last time we exchanged
signals?” asked Cummings, recalling the night that Jack played his
memorable trick and cut off the current by which Jarrold was working his
flash lamp.

“I don’t know, but I suspect that young jackanapes back there of having
something to do with it,” was the reply.

“Well, you won’t be bothered with him now,” said Cummings.

“No; by the time he gets out of the Lion’s Mouth the _Tropic Queen_ will
be far out at sea,” chuckled Jarrold.

“How did you ever come to locate the Lion’s Mouth, as you call it?”
asked Cummings with some curiosity.

“Many years ago, when I was in Jamaica for—well, never mind what
purpose—an old voodoo negro showed me the place. It forms part of the
ruins of an old Spanish castle, and there is a legend that the old Don
who once owned it kept lions in it for his amusement. Any one he didn’t
like, he’d let the lions make a meal of. Nice old gentleman, wasn’t he?”

Cummings joined in Jarrold’s laugh at his own grim humor.

The road began to grow rougher and Jarrold had all he could do to keep
the machine in the track. He had no more opportunity to talk. Rocky
walls shot up on one side of the thoroughfare, and on the other a steep
precipice tumbled sheer down to the sea, which broke in roaring masses
of spray at its foot.

It was a scene of gloomy magnificence in which the modern car with its
red trimmings and snorting engine seemed strangely out of place. At
length they came to a spot where a ravine ran back from the sea,
splitting the towering rock masses and spanned by a narrow bridge.

Jarrold turned the car aside and ran it some distance back into a track
that wound along one side of the deep cleft, at the bottom of which the
sea boiled and roared.

Cummings peered over somewhat fearfully into the dark depths.

“The sea pours into that ravine, and then at high water empties into a
hole in the earth that penetrates nobody knows how deeply into the
bowels of the island,” said Jarrold.

“Has nobody ever explored it?” asked Cummings, unconsciously sinking his
voice.

“Yes, some explorers fitted up a boat once and announced that they were
going to enter the ravine, and thence penetrate into the unexplored
cavern where the waters disappear,” was the reply.

“And what did they find?” asked Cummings.

“Well, they never came back to tell,” rejoined Jarrold, with grim
jocularity.

He brought the car to a sudden stop. A sheer wall of rock shot up before
them. It was the end of the giant cleft in the earth. There were steps
cut in the forbidding acclivity and on a platform far above were traces
of ruined buildings.

“That’s what is left of the old Don’s castle, up there yonder,” said
Jarrold, pointing.

“And the Lion’s Mouth is up there?” asked Cummings.

Jarrold nodded.

“That’s the place,” he said.



CHAPTER XXVII

IN THE LION’S MOUTH


Jack came to himself lying on a rocky couch. For a few moments his brain
refused to work. He did not comprehend where he was or what had
happened. He felt stiff and sore and his head ached intolerably.

Then memory came back with a rush. He recalled the darkened hut where he
had drunk the supposedly innocent cola and then, but very vaguely, the
sensation of being placed in a rig and experiencing a desire to call for
help without being able to raise his voice.

But where was he now?

He looked about him. He lay at the bottom of a steep walled pit,
apparently hewn by man or nature out of the solid rock. The walls shot
up sheer and smooth to a height of at least thirty feet. The bottom of
this pit was about forty or fifty feet in circumference.

Beside him was a big canteen of water and some food. He noticed
something around his shoulders, something that passed under his armpits.
It was a rope about forty feet long. So, then, he had been lowered into
this pit by somebody. But by whom?

His mind reverted to Cummings. Jack was tolerably certain now that he
had been drugged by his crafty enemy, but he could not bring himself to
believe that Cummings’ mind had plotted the bold stroke by which he had
been marooned in this pit. Some master wit had contrived that.

Jack’s head swam as he began to sense the full horror of his situation.
He did not even know how long he had been there. He looked at his watch.
The hands pointed to three o’clock. He had wound the watch in the
morning, so it was clear that it was the same day as the one on which he
had entered Mother Jenny’s place with Cummings.

He rose dizzily to his feet and, steadying himself with one hand against
the rock walls, looked about him with greater minuteness. Far above was
the blue dome of the sky and at the top of those walls lay freedom. But
he might as well have been in China for all the good it did him. He was
cut off from his friends as effectually as if on the other side of the
globe.

Naturally, too, he had not the slightest idea on what part of the island
the pit was located. There was nothing to indicate where it was. Jack
was not a lad who easily lost heart, but his present position was almost
unbearable.

Unless rescuers came to his aid, and it seemed hardly likely that anyone
could penetrate to such a place without a guide, he was doomed to a
miserable death. He flung himself down on the rocky floor of the pit in
an agony of despair. His despondency lasted for some minutes, and then,
resolutely pulling himself together, Jack sprang to his feet.

“I won’t give up! I won’t!” he said, gritting his teeth. “There must be
some way out of this.”

He took a pull at the canteen and ate some of the bread and meat. Then
he began a systematic tour of exploration of his place of captivity. It
was so nearly perfectly circular in form that he was sure that human
hands had fashioned it.

In places in the walls were fastened iron rings that had mouldered away
with the ages till they were as thin as wire. In ancient days, though
Jack did not know it, the cruel old Don’s victims were tied to these, to
be devoured by the lions from which the pit took its name.

In one place a creeper hung temptingly down. But its extremity dangled
fully four feet above the boy’s head, and although Jack could have
climbed on it to freedom had he been able to gain it, he knew that such
a feat was out of the question.

All at once, though, he saw something that sent the blood of hope
singing through his veins.

On the side of the pit opposite to that on which he found himself on his
first awakening from his coma, was a big fissure in the wall. A ragged
rent, it ran from top to bottom of the rock wall like a scar on a
duelist’s face.

It was apparently the work of an earthquake; perhaps the one that had
devastated Kingston had caused it. At any rate, there it was, and to
Jack, in his desperate condition, it offered a chance of escape.

True, for all he knew, he might, by entering it, be embarking upon worse
perils than the ones he now faced, but at any rate it was an avenue to
possible liberty and he determined to take full advantage of it.

In his pocket Jack had plenty of matches and the small electric torch
that he used in making examinations of the more intricate parts of the
wireless apparatus. He stuffed all the bread and meat he could inside
his coat, slung the canteen over his shoulder and was ready to start on
an adventure that would end he knew not how, but which he had sternly
made up his mind to attempt.

As a last thought he coiled up the rope by which he had been lowered
into the pit and laid it over his arm. Then he plunged into the deep
fissure. For some distance it was open to the sky above, but after some
time it closed in and became a tunnel.

At this point, Jack hesitated. The darkness beyond appalled even his
stout heart. He knew not what lay within, what perils might face him.
For several moments he stood there hesitant; but finally he took heart
of grace and, gripping his electric torch, plunged into the black mouth
of the tunnel.



CHAPTER XXVIII

A CLIMB FOR LIFE


The passage, for such it was, through which Jack was now advancing, was
swept by a wind of such violence that at times it almost lifted the boy
from his feet.

But this Jack regarded as a good omen. He knew that there must be some
opening in this bore of nature’s making to cause the great draught. He
was glad he had his electric torch. No other light could have remained
burning in the fierce gale.

The walls were of black rock, and the electric torch gleaming on them
was flashed back in spangled radiance from some sort of ore it
contained. In places, the tunnel contracted till it was only possible
for the boy to progress by bending double. Again it broadened out till
he could only touch the roof with his finger tips.

Suddenly he heard ahead of him a roaring sound like a water fall.
Pressing on with a beating heart, lest he should find his further
progress barred, Jack found himself facing a fair sized chamber, from
the roof of which a cascade was falling. The boy guessed that he must be
beneath the bed of some river and that the water was pouring into the
cavern from a fissure in the rocky roof.

It was a beautiful sight, but he had no time to stop and admire it. He
must push on. He left the cavern and the singing waterfall behind him,
and once more battled with the mighty wind that swept through the bore.

The walls began to grow damp now and it was almost as cold as if a heavy
frost had fallen. Jack shuddered and drew his coat close around him. He
tried to calculate how far he had come, but the bore had made so many
twistings and windings that he found it impossible to estimate.

His limbs felt tired and his eyes ached, but he kept on stubbornly.

“I’ve started this thing and I’m going to see it through,” he said
doggedly to himself.

And now the passage began to grow narrower. Jack felt the walls closing
in on him as if with intent to crush out his life. The passage began to
slope steeply and it was hard to keep a footing on the wet floor.

All at once the boy stumbled and slipped. He almost fell headlong, but
recovered himself with an effort. In front of him he could hear a mighty
roaring sound. The wind, too, was stronger and seemed damper than it had
further back. It smelled as if impregnated with salt.

Jack gave another stumble on the uneven floor. This time he did not
recover himself, but pitched headlong. And then——

He was in the water. It filled his ears, drowning all sounds. He rose to
the surface battling desperately, all senses dormant but the frantic
desire to live.

He dashed the water from his eyes. He spat it from his mouth. It was
salt and must come from the sea. Wave after wave swept toward him and
under each of them he dived.

He soon realized that his fight for life was well-nigh hopeless, but he
struggled as men will when death stares them in the face, for life is
never sweeter than when it seems to be slipping from our grasp.

Weaker and weaker he felt himself growing. A sort of lethargy crept over
him. He didn’t care much longer. His limbs were numbed and chilled. The
waves swept down on him, each gleefully following its predecessor, as if
they were determined to end Jack’s life in this cavern of the seas.

At last he felt himself uplifted on the crest of a gigantic comber and
carried helplessly into the maw of that black gullet.

“It’s the end,” he thought.

But still the instinct of life was strong in his battered body. His
outflung hand caught a projecting scrap of rock in a drowning grip and
clung there, despite the efforts of the wave to tear him loose. It was
more blind instinct than human reason that sustained him as the wave
swept on into the dark cavern, thundering against its sides like a train
passing through a tunnel.

[Illustration: His outflung hand caught a projecting scrap of rock.]

He found himself hanging to the side of a jagged crack that slanted
across the rock high up on the side of the cavern. Into it he managed to
jam himself, and then he hung there, too exhausted to move hand or foot,
waiting for the next wave to tear him from his precarious hold.

How long he hung there he never knew. Wave after wave came racing by,
reaching up watery fingers to tear him from his haven. But he had jammed
himself too securely into the providential rift in the rock to be easily
dislodged.

Hope began to dawn in his mind once more, despite his position. He
mentally cast up what had occurred since that disastrous tumble in the
passage. It was plain enough that the bore in the rock opened on this
cavern where the salt seas swept and raved. The cave, then, must be
connected with the sea. Jack’s reasoning was right. By an extraordinary
chance, he was in the cave which Jarrold had told Cummings existed far
under the ruins of the old Don’s castle.

The boy had lost his rope and his electric torch and he was soaked
through and through. But the canteen of water still hung round his neck.
Safe for the time being, he began to cast about for some means of
extricating himself from his position, but his heart sank as he realized
the full hopelessness of his predicament.



CHAPTER XXIX

FREEDOM ONCE MORE


The necessity for action became imperative. If he stayed cramped and wet
in that position much longer, there was grave danger that he would lose
the power of locomotion altogether. He could not tell how far up the
crack ascended, and, of course, since he had lost his torch he had no
means of lighting up the gloom, for his matches, like the bread and meat
with which he had stuffed his pockets, were soaked through.

He began to climb, moving painfully forward perhaps an inch at a time.
For about fifteen feet he crawled, clinging with fingers and toes. It
was heart-breaking work and anyone with a less stout heart than Jack
Ready would have given it up and lain down to die where they were.

But Jack was made of sterner stuff. He wormed his way forward, and found
suddenly that the crack widened. Then he struck his head violently
against the cavern roof.

The crack continued to widen, though, till it was possible for him to
crawl into it. But the jagged edges of rock cut and tore his hands and
face unmercifully.

Once within the crack, he lay still, panting. It hardly seemed worth
while to go further, after all. Would it not be better to die there in
the darkness without further effort? There was not the remotest
probability that he was nearing a way out of the cavern, and to follow
the crack further was labor lost.

Thus he meditated as he stretched himself out to rest. But when he had
recovered his breath, love of life reasserted itself.

He would keep on. At any rate, one thing was certain: he could never get
back now. Death lay behind him in all its grimness. Ahead, at least,
there was the unknown with a fighting chance—one chance in a thousand—in
his favor.

Desperately, then, he struggled on, writhing between the narrow walls.
He felt as if the whole weight of a mountain was upon him, crushing his
ribs, driving the breath out of his body. The darkness was so dense that
it could be felt enveloping him like a velvety pall of blackness.

Again and again he thought himself stuck fast, doomed to an eternal
grave in the secret bowels of the earth. But every time he managed to
wiggle through the tight place and gain another that was not quite so
constricted.

But it was heart-breaking work at best. Then all at once the crack
widened very noticeably. Cautiously he drew himself to his feet. He
judged that he was standing on a shoulder or ledge of rock, but of
course, in the inky darkness, he had no means of knowing.

It was at least good to be able to stand up and feel no longer the
crushing of the rock walls, like those of a living tomb.

After a little he began to move along, taking care, however, to keep
close to the wall, for he did not know how wide the ledge, as he judged
it, might be. For perhaps a hundred yards he progressed thus. Always
before he took a step he reached out with one foot before him, fearing
to encounter vacancy.

Suddenly he found he was on the edge of a void, and shrank back,
clinging to the wall with the desperation of fear. It was some seconds
before he dared to move again. He could feel the sweat rolling off him,
the cold, pricking sweat of fright.

By a supreme effort he mastered himself. He found a loose bit of rock at
his feet. Cautiously he cast it into the darkness in front of him. There
was a long silence, and then, as if from miles away, came a tiny tinkle.

Jack shuddered.

He had narrowly escaped pitching head first into a bottomless abyss. He
carefully retraced his way down the ledge. Suddenly his feeling fingers
discovered another crack. This one ran vertically upward like a chimney,
almost, at least so far as he could determine by the sense of touch.

A wild hope surged over him. This crack perhaps ran up to the surface of
the earth! Recalling an old school-boy trick, he “spreadeagled” himself
into the crack. He reached out his hands to either side of the “chimney”
and lifted himself a little.

Then he wedged his toes in either side. Thus he painstakingly mounted,
praying within himself that the walls of this natural shaft might not
widen and make further progress impossible.

It was terribly slow work, though. Time and again he was on the point of
giving up, but always the tough spirit of his indomitable old sea-faring
ancestors kept him at his task.

Foot by foot he toiled upward, till he estimated he had climbed some
thirty feet. And then suddenly: Light! The blessed light of day! High
above it was, but unmistakably the light of the outside world was
streaming into this hideous subterranean chamber. It gleamed down into
the shaft he was painfully ascending, shining like a blessed beacon of
hope. It appeared to filter through some sort of net-work of greenery.

Wild with hope, he climbed on till at last he burst his way through a
canopy of creepers and vines that obscured the mouth of the natural
shaft. He clambered out beneath the blessed sky. As he fell exhausted,
prone on the rocks, he heard a cry.

It was his own name!

But for the life of him he could not answer. He could only lie there
without thought or motion.



CHAPTER XXX

IN SEARCH FOR A CLEW


The statement of De Garros concerning his chum struck Sam like a blow
between the eyes. Of course he did not place the slightest belief in the
Frenchman’s words, but he was sorely puzzled and perplexed.

“Where was this place?” he demanded.

“If you will come with me, I will show you,” said De Garros, linking the
boy’s arm in his own. “How sorry I am that I did not accompany him
myself! But I thought, I sincerely thought, that he was in good hands.”

“Who was this fellow that was with him,” demanded Sam.

“I don’t know. I didn’t notice particularly. It was no one I had ever
seen before.”

“What did he look like?”

“As I told you, I did not pay him the attention that I should had I
known things were going to turn out like this. He wore a big sun helmet,
if that will afford you any clew.”

They were walking through the streets now toward the hut of Mother
Jenny.

Sam suddenly stopped short and struck his forehead with his hand, as if
striving to recollect something. Then he shouted:

“Why, why, it was a young man with a sun helmet who was talking to
Jarrold at the hotel this morning.”

“So?” exclaimed the Frenchman. “Can this be more of that rascal’s
villainy? Has he got a finger in this?”

“I wouldn’t put it past him,” declared Sam vehemently. “He hates Jack,
and with good cause from his point of view, for Jack checkmated several
of his schemes.”

“In Paris and again here, Jarrold,” muttered De Garros to himself, as if
recalling some latent memory. “Some day, my friend, you will meet your
reckoning.”

“You knew Jarrold abroad?” asked Sam.

“I knew him, yes. I was his victim, almost—but let us talk no more of
this. Let us hurry to the place where I last saw Jack Ready.”

When they reached the hut with its palm thatch and untidy garden, Sam
gave a gesture of disgust.

“And this is the place you saw Jack being helped out of?” he asked.

“It is, my friend.”

“I cannot think that he would ever have come to such a hovel of his own
free will.”

“Possibly not. But you are confronted with the fact that he was here.”

“That is true. Let us ask that old hag in the doorway what she knows.”

They approached old Mother Jenny, who had hobbled to the doorway and
stood watching them out of her bloodshot old eyes, puffing the while
reflectively at a home-made cigar, as if ruminating on what the
strangers wanted.

“We came to inquire about two young men who were here this morning,”
began Sam.

The old woman’s voice rose to a shrill scream.

“What I know ’bout dem, buckra?” (White man.) “Dey come. Dey drink de
cola an’ den dey pay and go. I know nothing mo’.”

“She’s lying,” whispered De Garros to Sam.

“Who was the hackman who drove them away?” demanded Sam.

The old woman started, but swiftly recovered her composure, if such it
could be called, and flourished her stick wildly.

“Tell you what, buckra,” she yelled; “you go ’way. No bodder me no mo’.
Me, Mother Jenny,’ ’spectable woman. Wha’ yo’ t’ink, buckra, yo’ fren’
come to harm by my place?”

“I didn’t say so. I merely asked the name of the hackman who drove them
away?”

Sam knew how important it was to keep his temper with the old crone.

“How much it wort’ yo’ fo’ me to impart dat imflumation?” asked the old
woman, leering hideously through a cloud of smoke she blew out of her
wrinkled old lips.

“I’ll pay you well for it,” struck in De Garros, who had cabled for and
received a large remittance. Poor Sam was almost “broke.”

“Fi’ dollar?”

De Garros nodded. The old hag stretched out a shriveled claw.

“Gib me de money, buckra,” she croaked; “gib me de money here in dis
hand.”

“There you are,” said De Garros with a gesture of disgust and annoyance.

The aged crone burst into a scream of wild laughter. She shook with
mirth and then shrilled out in her high, cracked voice:

“He drove a brown horse, dat’s all I know. Now go look fo’ him yo’
ownselves!”



CHAPTER XXXI

LOOK FOR A WHITE HORSE


It was useless to try to recover the money, and the two friends had to
walk off minus five dollars and followed by the derisive laughter of the
hag.

“At all events, she gave us one clew,” said Sam hopefully; “the man
drove a brown horse. We must look for every driver in Kingston with a
brown horse.”

“As it so happens,” commented De Garros, “that is no clew at all, for I
happened to notice that the equine in question was a white one.”

“Better still. A white horse should be easier to run down than a brown
one,” declared Sam. “Hullo, there goes one now!”

They halted the driver, but he declared he knew nothing of the matter,
having been out in the suburbs all the morning.

“Oh, well, there must be other white horses,” said Sam, as the man drove
off and they turned to take up the quest afresh.

“I believe, too, I’d remember the driver if I saw him again,” said De
Garros.

“Better and better. I’ll bet we’ll have good old Jack back with us
before night,” declared Sam hopefully. “At all events, we’ve got
something to work on now.”

“That’s so,” agreed De Garros. “But if we’ve got to interview every
owner of a white horse in Kingston, we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

“I don’t care how hard I work, so long as we can find some trace of
Jack,” declared Sam positively.

An aged negro driving a dejected-looking white horse jogged by. The
horse was plastered with dust till it was difficult to decide on what
his real color might be.

Sam stopped De Garros by a tug at the arm.

“Stop that fellow,” he said; “there’s another white horse.”

But oddly enough it was the darky who pulled up without any admonition
to stop. He checked his aged beast and addressed De Garros.

“’Pears ter me lak you am de party wot addressed dat young man wot was
a-helpin’ an-nudder gen’mun inter mah equipage dis mawn-in’?” he said.

“That’s right!” cried De Garros. “You’re the man we’ve been looking high
and low for. Where did you take him?”

“’Bout five miles out down de Castle Road, ’Busha,’” said the old man.

“Five miles out down the road?”

“Yas, Busha, an’ den dey takes him an’ puts him in an awfulmobile and
runs off wid him. Ah t’inks to myself dat ain’ des right. When Ah gets
back to town, Ah’s goin’ to hunt up dat gen’muns wot spoke to him dis
mawnin’ and acquaint him with de circumplexes.”

“Great Scott! This is a clew, indeed. Do you know where they were going
to take him?” choked out Sam.

“Yas, Busha. I hear dem say de Lion’s Mouf.”

“The Lion’s Mouth!”

“Dat’s right, massa. De Lion’s Mouf ol’ time name fo’ a mighty big hole
in de groun’ out at ol’ Don Pedro’s Castle. Don’ nobody hardly never go
dar. White folks don’ know ’bout it. Niggers all scared ob dere bein’ a
ghos’. Ah was dere once when Ah was lil’ an’ dat’s all I know ’bout it.”

De Garros, with the excitable nature of his race, was hopping about from
foot to foot. As the old negro finished speaking, he burst out:

“Do you want to make some money?”

The old man’s eyes popped out of his head. Here was another chance to
make money. Things were coming his way. But he deemed it well to be
prudent.

“Oh, as ter dat, I ain’t particular. Ah’m right tired an’——”

“Put your horse in the stable and meet us here in half an hour. It will
be worth your while. I want you to guide us to the Lion’s Mouth.”

“Berry well, Busha. Ah’ll jes’ put up ole Whitey, he’s nigh tired out,
an’ Ah’ll be right back.”

“Good; hurry. Now, then, Sam——”

“Where are you going?” demanded Sam, carried off his feet by the
volcanic activity of the young Frenchman. “What are you going to do
now?”

“Get about a mile of rope and then charter the fastest auto they’ve got
in this town,” was the reply.

“Then you think——”

“I don’t think, I know, that in revenge for his activities against him,
Jarrold has tried to wreak a hideous vengeance on Jack.”

“In the Lion’s Mouth?”

“I don’t know. I surmise so. But let’s waste no time here in
speculation. Get two hundred feet of the best manila rope you can buy.
In the mean time I’ll charter a car. Then we’ll pick up old Black Strap
and drive at top speed for the Lion’s Mouth.”

“Heaven grant we won’t be too late!” exclaimed Sam, but the lively young
aviator had darted off, leaving Sam dazed. Truly the climax had come
quickly. Jack kidnapped, possibly drugged, and cast into a deep pit! Had
it not been for Providence, they might never have heard of him again.

And so it came about that when Jack emerged from the mouth of “the
chimney,” not more than twenty yards from the rim of the Lion’s Mouth,
the first sounds that greeted him were the voices of his friends who had
been peering, with blanched cheeks, into the profundities of the Lion’s
Mouth.



CHAPTER XXXII

A BOLD ROBBERY


It was the day following Jack’s stirring adventure, which had left no
more serious consequences to him than bruised hands and knees. He was
sitting in the wireless room listening to the uproar outside. For the
_Tropic Queen_ was coaling, and the shouts of the negroes and the roar
of the coal as it shot into the bunkers filled the air.

Sam was ashore and so was De Garros. They had gone to communicate with
the authorities; but had found the Colonial police not much interested.
Jack felt drowsy. It was getting late in the afternoon. Soon the swift
tropic dusk would drop like a pall.

To keep awake, he decided to take a turn along the decks. He descended
to the promenade deck and walked briskly up and down.

“Since we don’t sail till to-morrow, I guess I’ll go ashore this
evening,” he decided to himself. “It’s too lonesome on board.
Everybody’s gone ashore for that big ball at the hotel to-night.”

But he decided to wait for the return of Sam and De Garros before
leaving. It grew dark, and they had not come back. Jack was about to
scribble a note and leave it in the wireless room, explaining that he
had tired of waiting and gone ashore, when a roughly dressed man brushed
by.

It was too dark to see the fellow’s face, but he appeared to be a
sailor. Jack thought little more of the incident and went to his room to
change his uniform for street garments. He was descending the stairs
again to the main deck, bound for the gang-plank, when he was startled
by a sudden sound.

It was the dull booming noise of an explosion, and it appeared to come
from some place on board the ship.

For a minute or two he stood still, trying to locate the sound. As he
stood at pause, a figure darted from the purser’s room. It was that of
the roughly dressed sailor who had shoved past the boy a short time
before. From the purser’s room there rolled a dense cloud of smoke. It
reeked of dynamite.

Jack flashed along the deck. There was a light inside the office of the
ship’s bookkeeper and cashier—which is what a purser amounts to, besides
being a banker and money changer.

The boy saw in an instant what had happened.

The safe had been dynamited. Its door hung by one hinge. The air was
full of smoke and the acrid reek of the explosive.

Jack knew that large sums of money and jewelry were frequently in the
safe, and no doubt the bold thief had made off with an armful of loot.
He wasted no more time investigating, but at top speed dashed for the
gangway.

On the deck two big arc-lights shimmered whitely. Under their glare he
saw a darting figure making for the shore end of the dock. He noticed
that the man was heavily bearded and wore the rough clothes of a
sea-faring man.

“Stop thief! Stop!” shouted the boy; but the man kept right on with his
head down, clutching something that he had concealed in his loose
sailor’s blouse.

There was an old watchman at the gates of the dock. He put out a feeble
arm to stop the marauder, but a terrific blow in the face knocked him
off his feet.

The man darted on. Jack was close on his heels. They passed through the
gate with only a few feet separating them.

A hack, apparently stationed there in preparation for the flight, was
waiting. The black-bearded man leaped into it. But, by providential
luck, another night-prowling rig came along at just that moment, its
driver nodding sleepily.

As the first rig dashed off, rattling loudly over the rough street, Jack
leaped to the front seat of the second, beside the astonished driver.

He seized the reins from the man and brought down the whip on the
horse’s back with a crack that made the animal jump. It leaped forward
with a jerk that seemed as if it would disrupt the crazy harness.

The man began to yell with dismay. But Jack quickly checked him.

“It’s all right. You’ll be well paid for this. That man in the hack
ahead of us is a thief.”

“Gelagoodness, Busha, I t’ink you was de thief, when you come leaping
board mah cab de way you do.”

The man was reassured by Jack’s frankness, however, and they flew down
the street at top speed after the other cab. The way lay along the
deserted water-front, by coal docks, warehouses and gaunt traveling
cranes. There were few lights and the road was rough and uneven. The old
hack jumped and bounced about like a ship at sea.

Suddenly something happened to the cab in front. One of its wheels
caught in a rut as it was passing a dock. The wrench proved too much for
the rickety old contraption, and the wheel went spinning off its snapped
axle, while the black-bearded occupant was flung into the road like a
stone from a catapult.

He lay still a moment while the driver of the wrecked vehicle in vain
tried to stop his horse. Sagging to one side on its broken axle, the
hack vanished in the distance with its runaway steed’s legs working like
piston rods.

Jack was out of the following rig in a flash. He rushed up to the
black-bearded man’s side just as the other rose to his feet.

It was not till that moment that Jack recollected that he had no weapon
with him.



CHAPTER XXXIII

JARROLD AGAIN


By the light of an arc-lamp some distance off, Jack could catch the
dangerous gleam in the black-bearded man’s eyes. It was no time for half
measures. The boy leaped straight at the other, who, entirely taken off
his guard by the sudden onslaught, was borne backward and fell in a heap
on the stones.

The negro who had driven Jack, scared out of his senses by the sight of
the struggle, whipped up his horse and drove off. Jack was left alone
with his antagonist, whom he soon found out was no despicable foe.

He struggled free from Jack’s grip with the agility of an eel. He found
his feet and reached back into his pocket. For an instant Jack thought
the other was drawing a pistol. But it was a whistle that he produced.

He placed it to his lips. Jack, guessing that it was for the purpose of
summoning aid that the thief was about to blow it, jumped forward to
tear it from his grasp. But in his excitement instead of seizing the
whistle he seized the man’s beard.

It came off in his grasp and—James Jarrold stood before him!

For a second Jack’s astonishment was so great that he stood perfectly
still, as if carved from stone. That atom of time was enough for the
disclosed Jarrold. He blew two shrill blasts on the whistle. From
somewhere they were answered. Down the dock came a swift pattering of
feet.

At almost the same instant, Jarrold recognized Jack, as the boy’s face,
for the first time, came into the light.

“So it’s you, is it?” he roared, with an oath. “You escaped from the
Lion’s Mouth! Well, there’s no escape for you now. Here come my men and
this time I’ll put you where you’ll be out of harm’s way for good.”

At the same moment several men, among them Cummings, came running at top
speed toward them.

Jack was no coward. But he was also no fool. There were six against him
in that lonely part of the dock section of Kingston. If he stood his
ground he would not have a chance. As Jarrold leaped toward him, he
turned swiftly and darted off.

Bang!

Jarrold had drawn a pistol and was sending bullets after him. Up a dark
alley Jack dodged, while behind him he could hear the rush of feet
pursuing.

“Goodness, if they ever get me, it’s all off!” gasped the boy.

He darted out of the alley he had been following, doubled up another and
heard the rush of feet growing fainter. At last they died out
altogether. Apparently his pursuers had given up the chase.

Utterly winded, he leaned against a blank wall to recover his breath. He
had no idea what part of the town he was in, but it appeared to be in
the native quarter. From the opposite direction he heard men
approaching.

By a street lamp he saw that they were two blacks. Both carried bundles.
From their dress and walk they appeared to be stokers or firemen on some
steamer. Jack stepped up to them and asked them the way to the hotel.

They stared at him a minute, and then one of them said:

“Lawd, boss, we dunno no mo’ ’bout Kingston ’an you do. We’s United
States niggers, we is. Not dis Wes’ Injun trash. We b’long on de
_’Dimyun_.”

Jack gasped.

“On the _Endymion_?”

“Yes, boss, reckon dat am de name, come ter fink ob it.”

“The _Endymion_ is docked here, then?”

“She sho’ is, boss, but she won’ be long. We’s got orders to git a
wiggle on. She’s gwine to sail right away. Come on, Jake, we ain’t got
no license ter be talkin’ here. We’s likely to miss de ship.”

“One question more!” cried Jack, as the men hurried off. “When did the
ship dock?”

“Night befo’ de day befo’ yisterday,” said Jake.

“Do you know the name of her wireless operator?”

“Ah dunno. Fink it’s Comein or suthin’ lak dat. But see here, we all
kain’t answer no mo’ question. Goo’ night.”

The two negroes hurried off, leaving Jack with swimming senses. So the
_Endymion_ was in the harbor! Had docked the night before the _Tropic
Queen_! It was all plain enough now to the boy. Cummings was her
wireless man. That explained his connection with Jarrold. And the yacht
was to sail that night, within a few minutes probably, and Jarrold, in
disguise, had blown the _Tropic Queen’s_ safe open.

Jack’s head buzzed. What was the key to it all? What had Jarrold blown
the safe for just before he was hurrying to sea on his yacht in this
clandestine fashion?

And then, like a bolt of lightning, the explanation struck him.

Colonel Minturn’s papers had been placed in the safe while he was
ashore!

Jarrold had taken a desperate chance and won out.

In half an hour’s time he would be at sea beyond the possibility of
pursuit, for the _Endymion_ was far faster than any craft in the
vicinity of Kingston.



CHAPTER XXXIV

BAD NEWS FOR THE COLONEL


The gardens of the hotel were brilliantly lighted, and the colored
lamps, strung among the trees, glowed down on a gay throng, when into
the midst of the merry-makers there burst an odd figure.

It was hatless, its white duck clothes were bedaubed with mud. Few would
have recognized in this panting, wild-eyed apparition the usually natty
Jack Ready.

But Jack it was. A waiter stretched out an arm to stop him as he dashed
into the garden, but he shoved the man aside with a force that sent him
spinning. Men and women stared at the boy as if he were a madman as he
rushed about, searching frantically for Colonel Minturn.

He found him at last, chatting with a group of ladies and gentlemen.

Despite Jack’s condition, the colonel recognized him at once.

“What, my boy, what has happened?” he exclaimed. “You look——”

“Never mind that now, Colonel, please,” besought Jack. “I must speak to
you alone at once.”

“Certainly,” said the military man, realizing that Jack must have some
serious news. He excused himself to his friends and stepped aside, while
Jack, in a swift, eager, low tone, told him what he feared had occurred.

“Colonel Minturn must have bad news,” said one of the ladies of the gay
party with which the colonel had been chatting. “Look, he’s as white as
a ghost!”

“That scare-crow messenger has brought him some news that has given him
a shock evidently,” commented one of the men.

But although Jack’s message of the probable theft of the Panama papers
had shaken the colonel to the fibers of his being, the long training of
a military officer stood him in good stead at that crucial moment. By a
supreme effort he steadied his nerves, and in the most casual voice in
the world excused himself to his friends, saying that he would be back
before long.

“I’ve a friend here who has a fast auto,” he said to Jack, as the two
thrust their way through the throng, who gaped at the spectacle of the
distinguished-looking man in evening clothes and his disreputable
appearing companion.

“We must get it and work quick,” he went on, “there’s a chance even yet
that we can stop that yacht.”

“If only I hadn’t lost my way,” said Jack, “we’d have saved a lot of
precious time.”

Colonel Minturn found his friend, and the auto with its chauffeur was
willingly loaned. They jumped into the fast machine and were off, after
Colonel Minturn had given directions to drive first to the ship. They
found old Schultz guarding the safe. The reek of the explosive was still
heavy in the air.

Utterly regardless of his apparel, Colonel Minturn dived in among the
blackened contents. There were packages of money, costly jewels and
other valuables, but the most important contents of the safe—the papers
which the colonel had hoped against hope might have been overlooked by
the thief—were gone.

Despite his stoicism, the colonel could not restrain a groan.

“This means my ruin,” he exclaimed. “We must get a boat of some kind at
once and give chase.”

“There’s nothing in this harbor or south of New York that could touch
the _Endymion_ for speed,” declared Jack bitterly. “There’s only one
chance in a thousand of stopping her! Oh, why didn’t I think of that
before?”

Before the colonel could stop him or ask explanations, the boy rushed
off. He headed straight for the wireless room. Sam was there with De
Garros.

“What in the world——!” began Sam, as the disheveled, wild-eyed boy burst
in. But Jack shoved his chum aside without a word and fairly threw
himself at the wireless key.

He was calling the government quarantine station at the tip of Port
Royal and the mouth of Kingston Harbor. There was just one way he could
stop the _Endymion_ and he meant to try it, forlorn hope that it was.

The spark flashed and roared and whined.

Other stations, those on ships far out at sea and along the coast of the
island, broke wonderingly in as the volley of impatient calls went
thundering out into the night.

The sweat poured from Jack’s blackened face as he bent over the
apparatus in the boiling heat of the tropic night, and worked the
wireless as he had never worked it before.

At last he raised the operator at the quarantine station.

“We’ve shut up shop for the night. What is it?” inquired that
individual, not best pleased at having his rest disturbed.

“You must stop the _Endymion_,” thundered the Hertzian waves; “stop her
at all hazards, even if you have to notify the fort to fire upon her.”

“The _Endymion_?”

“Yes; she has infectious disease on board. She must not leave the
harbor.”

There was a brief and portentous silence. In the hot, heavy stillness
the boys could hear each other’s deep breathing.

Then radio waves began to beat against Jack’s stunned ears. “The
_Endymion_ with a clean bill of health passed out to sea half an hour
ago.”



CHAPTER XXXV

JARROLD GETS FRANTIC


Jack turned to find the colonel bending over him. Despite the military
man’s firm effort at self-control, his face was gray.

“Is there any hope?” he asked.

Jack shook his head.

“They’ve stolen a march on us, Colonel,” he said. “The yacht had a clean
bill of health, whether forged or not, I don’t know. At any rate, her
clearance papers must have been O. K. or she could not have sailed.”

“Probably forged,” said the colonel. “I must communicate with Washington
at once.”

“I can probably relay a message through,” said Jack. “What do you want
to say?”

“I will go to my cabin and write it in code,” was the reply, and with
stooping shoulders the stricken colonel left the wireless room. After a
short time he was back again with his code message. In the meantime, Sam
and De Garros, under Jack’s instructions, had notified the ship’s
officers, who were all ashore, of the looting of the safe, and an
important conference, which Colonel Minturn joined, was held in Captain
McDonald’s cabin.

An examination by the purser showed that nothing except the papers,
which had been in an inner drawer, had been taken, so that there was no
object in alarming the passengers by notifying them of the robbery. The
money and valuables were temporarily removed to another and older safe,
and a screen placed about the damaged one to shield it from prying eyes.

Jack was summoned to the cabin to give his version of the affair and
received warm commendation for the way he had acted. But the boy felt
somehow—however causelessly—that he might have done more to prevent the
robbery and recover the papers. However, it was too late then.

He succeeded at last in getting a message through to the national
capital, relaying to the immense radio station at Arlington. That
message borne over the seas, caused more excitement in Washington than
had any piece of news received there for many days. Cabinet officers
were summoned for an extraordinary conference and every wire and
tentacle of the secret service was set in motion.

Scout cruisers stationed off Mexico were ordered to scour the seas for
the _Endymion_ and capture Jarrold if they had to sink his yacht. The
administration’s message to Colonel Minturn was in code, but Jack
guessed that it was a sharp reprimand couched in no very gentle terms.
Uncle Sam is not harsh with his servants, but he does not tolerate
mistakes, even though innocent and unavoidable.

The _Tropic Queen_ sailed early next morning while the naval wireless
was still sending the far-flung message, “Find the _Endymion_ and
capture the man Jarrold.” That simple message from Jack, tapped out by
his agile finger-tips, had set the machinery of the war and navy
departments buzzing as nothing short of a declaration of war could have
done.

The possession of the complete plans of the fortification of the Panama
Canal by Jarrold, meant only one thing. They would speedily pass into
the hands of the foreign power of which he was agent. This meant that
the power in question would have complete, triumphant knowledge of the
most carefully guarded secrets of the mighty nation that built the great
canal.

It would be necessary to squander money and time on remodeling the whole
system of defense unless the _Endymion_ could be found. That was the
burden of the song the naval wireless men were flinging backward and
forward with flaming keys that crackled and flared angrily.

“Find the _Endymion_! If she is on the Seven Seas, find her.”

Over those who knew the secret agony that the army officer was suffering
hung a heavy gloom, as the _Tropic Queen_ ploughed her way seaward,
bound for Santa Marta on the coast of Colombia. Colonel Minturn kept to
his room, nursing his anxiety.

From time to time the naval wireless boomed messages in the secret code
into Jack’s ears and they were promptly transmitted below. But the
colonel sent out no replies. All that he could say had been said in that
first radiogram that had set official Washington a-buzz.

And in the meantime, on board the _Endymion_, what was happening?
Speeding as if from a deadly plague, she was driven at top speed across
the Caribbean. Jarrold, his face gray and lined, and almost as
anxious-looking as the visage of Colonel Minturn, paced the deck and the
bridge, calling always for speed and more speed. His niece, pale-faced
and nerve-racked, watched him anxiously.

Cummings, catching the naval messages that volleyed through the air,
told of the hunt that was up; of the naval prows ploughing the tropic
seas in a systematic hunt for the grayhound-like yacht that was fleeing
like a criminal across the sea wastes.

Jarrold, under the strain, grew dangerous to approach. He kept shouting
and signaling for speed and ever more speed. The engineer appealed to
him in vain. It was dangerous. The boilers could carry no more steam.
Already the ship was a-quiver with their imprisoned power.

But Jarrold had only one reply:

“More speed, I say, more speed!”

On the evening of the second day of this mad race, a murmur began to run
through the ship: A rumor that Jarrold was a criminal. That he was
fleeing from justice. That he would blow the ship up with every soul on
board rather than be captured.

The grimy crew of the stokehold, the “black watch,” refused to face the
trembling boilers any longer. They feared that at any moment the steel
plates would yield under the terrific pressure and annihilate them and
the ship. The chief engineer, unable to keep them at their work, even at
the pistol’s point, sought Jarrold, while the stokers spread a mutinous
spirit throughout the yacht.

Jarrold was bending over a chart in the pilot house when the engineer
found him.

“You are crawling like a snail,” he snarled; “more speed.”

“The men have quit,” said the engineer quietly to the half-crazed man.
“They are afraid to work below. The boilers may burst any moment.”

“I don’t care about that. We must reach the coast before to-morrow
morning. It must be done. My life hangs on it.”

“I can’t help that. The men won’t work,” protested the engineer;
“they’ve thrown down their shovels and gone forward. I’d advise you to
give in to them; they are in a dangerous mood.”

Jarrold sprang to his feet with a snarl. He reached into a drawer and
drew out a magazine revolver.

“The mutinous dogs! I’ll drive them back to their fires with this,” he
rasped out, rushing from the bridge.

“Don’t do anything rash,” implored the engineer, who knew how things
stood. “The rest of the crew are with them and we’ll have a general
mutiny on our hands if you precipitate trouble.”

The only answer was a roar of rage from the hunted man, about whom Uncle
Sam was weaving a fine-meshed wireless net.

He swung down the steps from the bridge to the main deck with the
agility of an ape. The captain, who also knew how matters stood, turned
to the engineer and the mate.

“You fellows better get your guns,” he said; “there’s trouble coming
now.”

Suddenly the slender, graceful form of Jarrold’s niece appeared on the
bridge.

“Oh, what is it? What is the matter?” she implored.

“It’s nothing, Miss Jarrold,” began the captain, in a tone intended to
pacify the half-hysterical girl. “You see——”

The sharp crack of a pistol shot cut him short. Following the shot, came
a riot of savage cries and shouts.

The captain wasted no more words but, followed by his officers, all
armed with revolvers, ran forward.

“That madman has spilled the fat now,” he cried, as they rushed toward
the forecastle. The sounds proceeding from it resembled the uproar from
a den of wild beasts.



CHAPTER XXXVI

ADRIFT


Cummings, like the rank coward that he was, had run for his cabin just
behind the pilot house when the inferno broke loose. He was cowering in
it with ashen cheeks when Miss Jarrold appeared in the doorway.

“Go away! Go away!” screamed Ralph, in an agony of fright. “The crew has
mutinied. They’ll kill us all. Oh, dear!”

“You coward!” said the girl, with flashing eyes, drawing her figure up
to its full height. “Have you got a pistol?”

“Yes, there’s one in the drawer there,” stuttered Ralph.

With cool, firm hands, the girl took out the weapon.

“What are you going to do?” mewed Ralph fearfully.

“Help my uncle. You know what danger is on his track. Those men must go
back to the furnaces.”

“Oh, we’ll all be killed,” repeated Ralph tremulously; “or, if we’re not
killed, we’ll be caught by a war ship. The air is full of messages about
us. Scout cruisers from Vera Cruz, and war craft from other places are
closing in all around us.”

The girl bit her lip and turned a trifle pale.

“What are they saying?” she demanded.

“I can’t tell. The messages are all in code, but I can catch the name of
this yacht all the time.”

The bulky figure of the captain suddenly appeared. The girl looked at
him inquiringly. There was an expression on his bluff face that she
could not fathom.

“Miss Jarrold, I have some unpleasant news for you,” he said.

“Well, Captain, what is it?” she demanded haughtily.

The big seaman shifted from foot to foot uneasily.

“Your uncle has shot a fireman up in the forecastle,” he said. “Oh,
don’t be alarmed; not dangerously, but the men are ugly. Your uncle,
too, has confessed to me that there’s a whole lot that is crooked about
this cruise and I don’t like it. The United States cruisers are after
us, he says.”

The girl bowed her head.

“So I believe. What of it? We have chartered this vessel and it is your
duty to obey orders.”

“I beg your pardon, Miss, that’s what I was coming to. It’s my duty to
my owners not to get their craft in a position where it can be
confiscated by the government. That is what will happen if we keep on
running away. The situation amounts to this. The men have got your uncle
captured and tied. They say they won’t work the ship as long as he is on
board unless he is made a prisoner.”

The girl tapped her foot impatiently.

“Is that all the authority you have over them? Why don’t you drive them
to their posts?”

“Because I don’t intend to, Miss. This cruise ain’t regular; and I want
this fellow here to send out a wireless message to the nearest
battleship telling her our bearings and saying that we’ll give up Mr.
Jarrold.”

“And if he refuses to accept?”

“We’ll have to provision a boat and turn him loose in it. It’s in the
regular steamer lane here and he won’t suffer much inconvenience.
Somebody’s bound to pick him up, and, anyhow, there are islands not far
off.”

The mate and the engineer appeared with Jarrold at this juncture. His
hands were bound and his expression of rage was more like that of a wild
beast than a man.

“I’ve already told Mr. Jarrold the men’s terms and mine, Miss,” said the
captain. “Mr. Jarrold, sir, which is it to be?”

Jarrold looked like a trapped wolf. He glared at his niece and at his
captors.

“You see, I can’t lose my ship just because you’ve done something that
seems to have stirred up the whole administration,” said the captain
diplomatically. “Personally, if you want to get away, I’d take to the
boat. I can cook up a story about you and the young lady escaping one
dark night, when we reach port.”

Jarrold raged silently. The girl, white-lipped, erect and defiant,
merely said: “Go on, please.”

“You see we can’t hope to get away. Every port we can touch at has a
wireless plant of some sort. By this time the whole coast of the two
Americas is on the lookout for us. And we can’t keep on going without
coal, and because of the crazy way we’ve been making steam, the bunkers
are pretty nigh empty.”

Jarrold nodded bitterly. The truth of the captain’s arguments appeared
to strike home on even his stubborn mind.

“You’ll pledge your word to do no talking?” he said.

“Not a word, sir, and I’ll answer for my officers, too.”

“But the sailors?”

“Oh, they’ll talk, but nobody believes a sailor’s yarns, anyhow. I don’t
know what you’ve been doing, but it’s clear that Uncle Sam wants you
mighty bad. However, that’s none of my business. My job is to save my
ship from confiscation or being blowed up. So is it to be surrender by
wireless or the boat?”

Jarrold glanced at his niece. She came to his side and stood there
proudly.

“Let it be the boat,” she said; and Jarrold nodded his head in silent
assent. He seemed crushed and broken by the way in which fate had turned
against him in the very hour of his triumph.



CHAPTER XXXVII

THE IRONY OF FATE


The _Tropic Queen_ moved majestically through a sapphire sea. It was a
perfect tropic night. A dream mist, like a scarf of shimmering, spangled
vapor lay over the water. Above, the great, soft stars of the equatorial
regions beamed from a sky like blue-black velvet. High above the main
mast, like a great lamp, hung the full moon.

Disaster, danger and death seemed miles away, a contingency too remote
to be considered. Yet they were close at hand, far closer than any of
the sleeping passengers dreamed.

The bells chimed the hours and half hours as they slipped by to the
steady threshing of the propeller, and the wake of the big ship spread
fan-like from her stern in a milky stream that flashed with luminous
phosphorescence.

Suddenly, from the lookout in the crow’s nest came a shout sharp and
clear.

“Something dead ahead, sir,” was the reply to the inquiring hail from
the bridge.

“Can you make it out?”

“Not yet, sir. It’s two points on the starboard bow.”

From the bridge night-glasses were leveled, but the eyes in the crow’s
nest made out the nature of the drifting object on the moonlit sea
first.

“It’s a boat, sir.”

“A boat?”

“Aye, aye, sir. Looks like a ship’s boat.”

“Anybody aboard?”

“Can’t just make out yet, sir.”

And then a minute later:

“Yes, sir. I see somebody standing up and waving. It’s—it’s a woman,
sir.”

“Jove,” exclaimed Mr. Metcalf, who had the watch. “Schultz, call the
captain. Tell him there’s a boat with a woman castaway on board ahead of
us.”

“Aye, aye,” cried the old quartermaster, and hurried off on the errand,
leaving the wheel to his mate; for on such a night the ship could be
steered almost by a boy.

The captain hastened to the bridge in his pajamas and bath-robe.

“A boat, eh, Metcalf?” he said.

“Yes, sir. A ship’s boat, by the looks of her.”

“Order the engines slowed down. Schultz, get the after cutter ready for
clearing away.”

The old quartermaster’s whistle sang out shrilly, and the watch jumped
aft, alert for anything that was in the wind. Like magic, word had flown
among the crew of the discovery of the tiny derelict.

“The land’s not more than two hundred miles off,” said Metcalf. “It’s
possible they’ve drifted out to sea.”

“Most probably that is it, unless some disaster has overtaken a ship. At
any rate, it couldn’t have come from storm, for we haven’t had any
weather to speak of for days.”

“By the way, sir, I heard a lot of talk before we left Kingston about
earthquake weather. In my opinion, a quiet, still night like this means
some sort of a shake. At least, that’s what the natives say.”

“Yes; and the glass has been singularly high. That’s a sign of something
in the wind,” was the response. “But go aft, Metcalf, and see that they
clear that boat properly.”

“Yes, sir,” and the chief officer hurried off.

He found Colonel Minturn, who had been pacing the deck sleeplessly in
his anxiety, beside the boat crew, watching their preparations. Jack,
whose watch had just expired, was there, too.

“Something up, eh?” asked the colonel.

“Yes; there’s a drifting boat with a woman in it dead ahead. We’re going
to pick her up.”

“I wonder if I could go along,” said the colonel. “It would be something
to relieve this anxiety. It is terrible. I cannot sleep. All I can do is
to walk the decks and think.”

“I’ll ask the captain,” said Mr. Metcalf. “Personally, I have no
objections.”

He was soon back with the required permission.

“Ready, you’re off duty and I know you like anything like adventure, so
if you want to come, get aboard.”

“Good!” exclaimed Jack. “Have you any idea what boat it is?”

“Not the least. That makes it all the more interesting. From what we can
make out, though, it’s a ship’s boat of some sort.”

The big vessel almost ceased to move. Her propeller, driven by the
slowly working engines, only made a ripple on the water. The boat was
swung over and struck the sea with a gentle splash.

“There they are, men. Give way with a will now,” ordered Mr. Metcalf
briskly.

The oars struck the water, sending serpents of phosphorescence over its
dark surface. The boat moved swiftly forward toward the other craft, a
small white gig apparently.

“There’s the woman,” cried Jack. “Look, she’s standing up and waving!”

“There’s a man there, too,” cried Mr. Metcalf. “Pull hard, men, the poor
devils may have been drifting for days.”

“Hold on! We’re coming,” cried the colonel encouragingly, forgetting his
own troubles in the sight of these two castaways of the sea.

The boats ranged alongside and the crew of the _Tropic Queen’s_ boat
seized the gunwale of the other craft, holding them together. Jack stood
up and extended his arm to the young woman to aid her on board the
liner’s boat.

The next instant a shock, sharp as the sudden sting of a galvanic
battery, shook him.

The girl was Miss Jarrold! She recognized him at the same instant and
gave a little cry. Simultaneously Jarrold and Colonel Minturn came face
to face. A hoarse cry broke from Jarrold’s throat. He reached into an
inside pocket and drew out a bundle, which he threw overboard before
Minturn could catch his wrist in an iron grasp.

But as the papers splashed, and Jarrold broke out into a mocking laugh
and cried, “You thought you had me beaten, but it’s you that are beaten
now, Colonel Minturn,” there came another splash, a bigger one.

“It’s the kid!” shouted one of the sailors. “He’s gone after that
bundle!”

Mr. Metcalf jumped from his seat to the assistance of Colonel Minturn,
for Jarrold, maddened by the series of disasters that had overtaken him,
had reached for and drawn a pistol. A crack over the wrist from an oar
wielded by the first mate, sent the weapon flying overboard.

A few moments later Jarrold, who fought like a tiger, was lying bound in
the bottom of the boat with two sailors guarding him. His niece sat in
the stern sheets sobbing hysterically over the ironic turn of fate that
had caused the ship that they thought was to rescue them to be the very
one they most dreaded.

Jack was hauled back on board after a few seconds’ immersion. In one
hand he held high a dripping bundle of papers. A sailor reached out to
take them from him. But the boy refused to give them up.

“Only one man gets these,” he said, shaking the water from his curly
head, “and that is Colonel Minturn.”

With a gasp of thankfulness that was almost a sob, the colonel took the
papers from the boy’s hands, thrust them within his coat and then fairly
hauled Jack on board.

By a twist of fate, seemingly incredible, but really attributable to a
logical chain of events, the papers relating to the priceless secrets of
the Panama Canal were once more in the proper hands. They never left
them again.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

A BOLT FROM THE BLUE


All the way back to the ship the girl sat silent, with bowed head buried
in her slender white hands. Jarrold, tied and harmless, on the floor of
the boat, raved and swore incoherently. Not till she stood once more on
the deck of the _Tropic Queen_, however, did the girl give way. Then as
she saw her uncle, sullen and defiant now, led to the captain’s cabin
where he was to be questioned, she reeled and would have fallen had not
De Garros, who happened to be close at hand, caught her.

The sudden stopping of the ship had awakened most of the passengers and
they had come on deck to see what was the matter.

“Here, take her below,” said De Garros to a stewardess, as the
passengers crowded curiously around.

The ship was once more got under way, the boat lashed home and the
voyage resumed, while in the captain’s cabin, facing Colonel Minturn,
the wretched Jarrold told his story. But he expressed no sorrow, except
for the failure of his mission. Captain McDonald ordered him confined in
a cabin, to be turned over to the U. S. authorities when the ship
reached Panama.

The sentence had hardly been executed, when a shuddering, jarring crash
shook the ship.

Her way was checked abruptly and every plate and rivet in her steel
fabric groaned.

Jack was thrown from his chair in the wireless room and hurled against a
steel brace. He struck his head and fell unconscious to the floor.

For an instant following the shock, all was absolute silence. Then
bedlam broke loose. Hoarse voices could be heard shouting orders, and
the answering yells of the crew came roaring back. Women were screaming
somewhere below, and men passengers were trying in vain to quiet them.

Sam was hurled out of his bunk, and, rudely awakened, found Jack lying
stunned on the floor. He dashed some water over him and then ran to the
bridge. Captain McDonald, firm and inflexible, stood there giving orders
as calmly as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

“Shall I send out an S. O. S., sir?” asked Sam, striving to keep as cool
as the ship’s commander.

“Not yet. I have not a full report of the extent of the injury to the
ship,” was the reply. “First reports indicate that we have struck a
submerged derelict.”

But as Sam went back to the wireless room, he saw the boats’ crews all
standing by and every preparation being made for abandoning the ship. In
an instinctive way, he felt that she had been mortally injured. She was
still moving, but slowly, like a wounded thing dragging itself along.

The first officer came hurrying along the deck and shoved his head into
the door.

“You had better try to raise any ship within our zone as fast as you
can,” he said.

“You are going to send the passengers off?” asked Sam.

“Yes, as a measure of precaution. The derelict we struck has torn a big
hole in the engine room. It is impossible to say how long we can keep
afloat.”

He hurried off. Sam heard a groan and saw Jack rising on an elbow.

“What is it? What’s up?” he asked bewilderedly, and then: “Oh, I
remember now. Any orders for an S. O. S., Sam?”

“Not yet. But we’re to raise any ship we can. They are sending the
passengers off in the boats.”

“Wow! That was a crack I got when she struck,” said Jack, getting on his
feet. “What did we hit, did you hear?”

“A submerged derelict. It has torn a big hole in the engine room.”

Jack took the key from Sam and began pounding it. But an exclamation of
dismay spread over his face as he did so.

“No juice!” he exclaimed. “Or not enough to amount to anything. Here’s a
fine fix.”

Below them, as they stood facing each other, thunderstruck at this
disaster, every light on the ship went out.

“Dynamos out of business,” gasped Jack. He struck a match and lighted a
lamp that hung in “gimbals” on the bulkhead.

They could hear the sharp staccato commands of the ship’s officers as
they quelled the incipient panic that had followed the extinguishing of
the lights. The boats were being filled and sent away with quiet and
orderly precision, a boatswain or a quartermaster in each one. The
higher officers could not leave the ship till later, by the law of the
sea.

Everything moved quietly, almost silently. It was like watching a dream
picture, Jack thought afterward. Luckily, the moon was bright and gave
ample light for the disembarking of the passengers. It was just this,
the bright moonlight, the cloudless sky and the smooth, summery sea that
made it all seem so unreal. It seemed impossible that a death blow had
been dealt to a mighty liner and that her passengers were in peril, on a
sea like a millpond and under an unruffled sky.

Jack hastened forward to report the failure of the current, without
which not a message of appeal could be flung abroad. The captain
received the news without the flicker of an eyelid.

“At any rate, the passengers are all safe,” he said, “the boats are all
off. Each has plenty of provisions and water and is in charge of a
competent man. We are in for a long spell of fine weather and the coast
is not far off. At the worst it will be a sea adventure for them with
few discomforts.”

“Are you going to abandon the ship, sir?” asked Jack respectfully.

“No. My duty is to stay by her as long as I think there is a chance of
saving her. The report from the engine room is that she can be run
several miles yet before the water reaches the boilers. All the pumps
are at work, full force, and that is the reason there is no power left
for the dynamos.”

“Do you mean you are going to try to beach her, sir?” inquired Jack.

“If I can possibly do so,” was the reply. “There is an island not far to
the south of here called Castle Island. If I can reach it in time and
beach her, there may be one chance in a thousand of salving her, after
all.”

Jack had asked all the questions he dared. Had it not been a time of
such stress, he would not have ventured to ask so many.

He hurried back to the wireless room. Sam was busy at the key, but he
shook his head in reply to Jack’s inquiring glance.

“Nothing doing,” he said. “Any news forward?”

“Yes. All the passengers are off and there are now on board only the
officers and crew. The skipper means to run for an island called Castle
Island and beach her there. He thinks that later there may be a chance
of getting her hull off, if he can make it.”

“Then she is leaking fast?”

“Yes, they’ve got all the pumps going to keep the water from getting to
the fires. That’s the reason we’ve got no juice.”

“Let’s look up Castle Island,” said Jack, partly to relieve the
tenseness of their position as the wounded ship crawled strickenly
southward and partly to keep Sam, who was making a plucky effort to
fight back his fears, from thinking too much of their situation.

They soon found it—a small island shaped like a splash of gravy on a
plate. It was marked with a red dot. Under this red dot, in italics, was
written, “_Volcano. Probably extinct._”

“Well, any old port in a storm,” remarked Jack, as he closed up the
atlas.



CHAPTER XXXIX

JACK’S RADIO


Darkly violet under the light of the dawn-fading stars lay Castle
Island. Cradled in the heaving seas it was watched by scores of anxious
eyes on the _Tropic Queen_, now in her death struggle. The fire room
crew was kept at work only by physical persuasion. The water was gaining
fast now through the jagged wound in the craft’s steel side.

In the soft radiance that precedes the first flush of a tropic dawn, the
two young wireless men, their occupation gone, watched its notched
skyline grow into more definite shape.

As the light grew stronger, they saw that it was a bigger island than
they had supposed. Vast chasms rent the sides of rock-ribbed mountains,
and the place looked desolate and barren to a degree. Suddenly, too,
Jack became aware of something they had not at first noticed.

From the summit of the rocky apex that topped the island, a smudge of
smoke was blurred against the clear sky.

“The volcano!” exclaimed the boys in one breath.

“But I thought it was extinct,” said Sam, in a dismayed voice. The
thought of being in the proximity of an active volcano was anything but
pleasing to him.

“Extinct volcanoes smoke sometimes,” said Jack. “I’ve read of several in
Mexico that do.”

On the bridge, gray-faced from their long vigil, the ship’s officers
clustered about Captain McDonald, watched with anxiety the growing
outlines of the island.

“There are shoals of sand off to the southeast there,” said the captain.
“I was here years ago when I was an apprentice on the old _Abner A.
Jennings_. If we can reach them the old ship will lie easy unless bad
weather comes on.”

The steamer crept slowly forward. She hardly seemed to move, in the
minds of the impatient souls on board her. But at last the water began
to show green under her bows, signifying that she was getting into shoal
waters. On and on she crawled, till she was a scant quarter of a mile
from the mantling cliffs.

It was then that Captain McDonald sent word below to let the stokers
come on deck. It was none too soon. The men were working at pistol point
with water up to their waists, when the word came to evacuate the
stokehold. Even firearms could not have kept them in that water-filled
black pit much longer.

The engines were left running and a short time later, like a tired
child, the _Tropic Queen_ cradled herself in a bed of soft sand and her
voyage was over. An impressive silence hung over the ship as she
grounded, which was not broken till the sharp orders that preceded her
abandonment were issued.

Then all was bustle. The two remaining boats were lowered and the men
sent ashore. At last all that were left on board were the officers and
the two wireless boys. The men had carried ashore provisions and canvas
for tents, and a stream of water that the first arrivals reported near
the landing place, showed them that there was no danger of their going
thirsty.

It was just as Jack and Sam were preparing to get aboard the boat that a
strange thing happened. The tall, slender form of a young woman appeared
on deck. It was Miss Jarrold. An instant later De Garros joined her.

“Why, I thought you were on board the other boats!” exclaimed Captain
McDonald, fairly startled out of his stoic calm.

“Like myself, Mr. De Garros elected to see this thing out,” chimed in
another voice, and there was Colonel Minturn.

“So we stayed below while the other passengers were being taken off,”
said the young aviator, “knowing that if there was any real danger we
would still be able to escape. A shipwreck was too exciting an
experience to miss.”

“Well, if you want to make two fools of yourselves, I can’t stop you,”
said the captain, in slightly nettled tones. “But this young lady. What
is she doing here?”

“Inasmuch as my uncle is a prisoner on this ship, it was my duty to
stand by him,” said the girl, firmly compressing her lips.

“But I specifically ordered that Mr. Jarrold be taken off in one of the
boats,” said the captain, in a bewildered tone.

“Then whoever you gave the orders to disregarded them,” replied the girl
calmly. Then quite in a matter-of-fact voice she added, “Are we going to
camp on that island?”

“Till help comes, yes,” replied the captain. “I will see that you have a
tent and are made as comfortable as possible, but of course you can’t
expect luxuries.”

An hour later they were all on shore. Captain McDonald made an address
to the men, who were quiet and orderly, telling them that the discipline
in the shore camp would be the same as on board the ship, and that later
on a consultation would be held and the best means of getting assistance
decided upon. They had two boats and it was likely that Mr. Metcalf, in
one of them, might be sent to the mainland in quest of aid.

Castle Island was a dismal-looking spot, but the boys decided to make
the best of a bad business and set out, after a mid-day meal of canned
provisions, coffee and crackers, for a walk along the beach. They didn’t
find much of interest, however. In fact they could hardly keep their
eyes off the _Tropic Queen_, lying on the shoals helpless with smokeless
funnels, and listed heavily to port.

It was on the way back to camp that an odd thing happened. Sam was
walking slightly in advance. Suddenly he turned around on Jack: “Say,
what are you doing?” he demanded. “Don’t shove me.”

“I didn’t shove you,” said Jack. “I felt the same thing. I——Gracious,
it’s the earth shaking!”

“Look, look at the volcano!” cried Sam suddenly.

Jack looked up at the towering, gaunt crest miles away, rearing to an
infinite height above them. An immense cloud of yellow, sulphurous
smoke, muddying the blue of the sky, was pouring from it.

The earth shook again sickeningly. White-faced, the boys hastened back
to camp. They found Captain McDonald and the other men trying to quiet
the fears of the crew, who fully believed that before night the volcano
would be in eruption, burying them, maybe, in lava. They succeeded
fairly well, but the men kept their eyes turned to the smoking crest
almost ceaselessly.

Miss Jarrold sat apart in front of her tent with her uncle, whose bonds
had been taken off.

The day wore on and the tremors were repeated from time to time. But
nothing serious occurred. In fact, the marooned party began to grow used
to the shocks. It was arranged that early in the morning, Mr. Metcalf,
with one of the boats and a picked crew, was to set out for the mainland
and summon help.

During the afternoon, to fend off his melancholy thoughts, Jack decided
to write down all that had happened since the eventful voyage of the
lost liner started. He begged some paper from the purser, who gave him a
stack of duplicate manifests. He sat himself down, pencil in hand, and
was beginning to scribble, when he suddenly stopped short and sat
staring at a sheet of paper that had fallen to the ground beside him.

His eyes were centered on an entry at the top of the page. There didn’t
appear to be much about the entry to cause Jack’s pulses to throb with a
wild hope and his heart to beat quicker, but they did. Here is what he
read:

  “To Don Jose de Ramon, Electric Supplies, Santa Marta. 10 storage
  batteries from Day, Martin & Co., New York.”

Storage batteries!

Jack threw aside his writing and made for the purser.

“Where are those storage batteries for Santa Marta stored?” he asked.

“In hold Number One,” was the reply. “They are on the top of the Santa
Marta cargo.”

“Can they be got at easily?” asked Jack.

“They are among the ‘fragile’ goods,” was the reply, “on the port side
of the hold. They were to be the first things ashore at Santa Marta. But
why do you want to know?”

“Oh, there’s a reason, as the ads. say,” laughed Jack.

That afternoon the two young wireless men spent in long and anxious
consultation. Dark came, and from the volcano a lurid glare lit the sky,
yet no heavy convulsions of the earth occurred. Supper was over and the
sailors, after desperately trying to keep up their spirits by singing,
turned in. Soon the whole camp was wrapped in silence. The only ones
awake were Jack and Sam.

Silently, on the soft sand, the two lads crept from the camp. Around
their waists they wore life belts taken from the boats, which lay on the
sand where they had been pulled up. The inspiration that had come to
Jack when he read that entry on the manifest, was about to be put to the
test.

“You are sure you can swim it, Sam?” asked the boy as the two lads waded
into the water with their eyes fixed on the black hull of the stranded
steamer.

“With this life jacket on I could swim round the Horn,” declared Sam
confidently.

“All right, then, here goes.” Jack struck off into deep water, followed
by Sam.

The water was almost warm and quite buoyant. It was a real pleasure
swimming through it in the moonlight, while at every stroke the
phosphorescence rippled glowingly from their arms and legs. They reached
the ship almost before they knew it, and swam around her till they found
the Jacob’s ladder by which the descent to the boats had been made. They
scrambled up this with the agility of monkeys, and then made their way
along the steeply sloping decks till they reached the wireless room with
its silent instruments. Everything there was in perfect order, except
for “juice” that was needed to wake them to life. And this Jack intended
to have in short order.

Working under his directions, Sam broke into the storeroom where such
supplies were kept by the ship’s electricians, and got two huge coils of
insulated wire. Carrying these, he followed Jack, who bore a lantern, to
Number One hold. It had been broken open at Kingston and the battens had
only been loosely replaced for the run to Santa Marta, so that it was an
easy matter to gain access to the hold.

Down the steep iron ladder they climbed till they stood among high-piled
boxes and bales. Jack flashed his lantern about and at last uttered a
cry of triumph.

“There they are,” he cried, pointing to some big boxes labeled, “Jose de
Ramon, Santa Marta.”

“Now for the test,” chimed in Sam.

The boys attacked the cases vigorously with hatchets they had brought
with them, and soon had the ten powerful storage batteries exposed.

“Now get to work, Sam,” said Jack, producing some pliers and seizing
hold of a coil of wire.



CHAPTER XL

THE ANSWER TO THE WIRELESS CALL


Most of my readers have, in all probability, by this time guessed Jack’s
plan. It was nothing more nor less than to harness up the powerful
storage batteries to the wireless apparatus, and thus secure a wave
that, while not as strong as the one from the ship’s dynamos, would yet
reach for two hundred miles or more.

This was the inspiration that had come to him when his eye had fallen on
the momentous entry on the manifest. The boys worked feverishly. At last
the batteries were connected, and it only remained to run the wires to
the instruments in the wireless room. Then would come the supreme test.

At last everything was “hooked up” to Jack’s satisfaction, and he sat
himself down at the key. He knew that his wave lengths would not be very
heavy nor his radius large, but he calculated on the fact that already
this part of the ocean was alive with scout cruisers and warships
hunting for the _Endymion_.

With a beating heart and a choking sensation in his throat, he seized
the key. Sam could not speak for excitement and suspense, but leaned
breathlessly over his chum’s shoulder.

Downward Jack pressed the key.

A simultaneous shout burst from both boys’ throats. The wireless was
alive once more!

A green spark, like an emerald serpent, leaped from point to point of
the sender. With swift, practiced fingers Jack began sending abroad the
message of disaster and the appeal for rescue.

Almost the entire night passed away without any answer reaching his
ears, although he ran the gamut of the wireless tuning board. He began
to fear that the current was too weak to reach any of the ships that he
knew were scouring the sea for the Endymion, when suddenly, in response
to his S.O.S., came a sharp, powerful:

“Yes—Yes—Yes.”

“Oh, glory!” cried Jack. “I’ve got a battleship! I know it by the
sending.”

“This is the _Tropic Queen_,” he flashed out. “We are wrecked on Castle
Island. Send help quickly. Rush aid. We are——”

A loud, terrified cry from Sam interrupted him. Through the door the
whole sky could be seen a flaming, lurid red. The stranded ship shook as
if in the grip of cruel giant hands. The boys were thrown helter skelter
about the sloping cabin floor.

The place gleamed with the glaring, crimson light. A dreadful roaring
sound filled their ears. The sands beneath them appeared to heave up and
down in sickening waves like those of the unquiet sea.

Then came a vast uproar, and the two terror-stricken boys clawed their
way out on the slanting deck. They looked toward the island. The sky
above it was blood red. The rugged sky-line of its peaks stood out
blackly against the scarlet glare. The air was full of a gas that burned
the throat and choked the lungs.

“It’s the volcano!” cried Jack. “The volcano! Look!”

But Sam was clutching the other’s arm and pointing frantically seaward.
Rolling toward them, its foaming head crimsoned by the lambent glare of
the volcano, was a giant wave.

“Into the wireless room. Quick! For your life!” screamed Jack.

They scrambled up the sloping deck and threw themselves flat on their
faces in the coop, clinging to stanchions with a death-like grip. The
next instant there was a roar like a thousand Niagaras. They felt the
solid fabric of the _Tropic Queen_ lifted dizzily skyward, while tons of
water roared down on her. Then there came a sickening crash that shook
the boys loose from their grips and sent them rolling about the cabin.
The door was burst open and they staggered out on the deck. The _Tropic
Queen_ was almost upright now, with her bottom smashed in till she stood
flat upon her bare ribs in the soft sand.

Jack could see, by the glare of the burning mountain, the bleak
figures of men far up among the rocks. The tidal wave, then, had been
seen in time for some of them, at least, to save themselves. He had
just time to observe this when before his eyes the sea sucked
outward—outward—outward. The ocean floor rose into view, all crimsoned
from the flaming volcano. He could see gaunt rocks uncovered for the
first time since the creation, perhaps, sticking up blackly in the
slimy depths.

And then the sea came back! Out in the far distance across the exposed
flats a mighty wave shouldered itself. Its body and huge hollow incurve
was black, but its crest was glowing with reflected flame. Jack gave one
glance ashore. He could see black figures scuttling high up the rocks.

They had just time to rush into the wireless room, with its steel walls
and stout foundations bolted to the iron superstructure, when, with a
roar, the mighty wave swept landward. Jack and Sam felt the _Tropic
Queen_ lifted and rushed toward the shore, then lifted again and again
and again till it seemed impossible that anything man-made could resist
the awful force.

But at last the ship grounded with a shuddering, sidewise motion that
seemed like a last expiring gasp. The boys ventured forth. The ship was
lying on the beach almost at the foot of the cliffs. Her funnels and
masts had vanished, snapped off like pipe stems. She lay a sheer,
miserable hulk in the flaring light of the volcano.

Seaward, the waves were breaking tumultuously, but the tidal wave had
spent its fury. Dizzy, sick and battered the boys made their way over
the side of the lost liner and crept up the beach. It was littered with
the smashed fragments of the two boats and the remnants of the hastily
abandoned camp.

Through the glowing darkness a figure came toward them.

“Great heavens, boys, is it you?” they heard.

“Yes, Captain,” rejoined Jack. “We’ve come ashore.”

“Thank Heaven you are safe! We are all right except for four poor
sailors who did not awaken in time. But where have you been? How did you
get on board?”

“We swam out,” said Jack simply, “and had just got out a wireless call
when the big blow-up came.”

“A wireless call! Are you out of your head, boy?”

“By no means,” said Jack. “We got out a call, and, better still, got an
answer. I don’t know what ship it was, but it was a naval craft. I gave
our position and then came the tidal wave.”

“It is our only chance,” said the captain. “Both boats were, of course,
smashed, and we are marooned till aid comes.”

It was the next night. The disconsolate castaways were huddled near the
pathetic wreck of the lost liner. Food had been obtained from on board,
so that there was no actual suffering, but the volcano still glared and
rumbled and at any moment a disastrous eruption was to be feared.

De Garros and Miss Jarrold stood together apart from the rest.

“And your uncle’s influence over you is broken forever if we ever escape
from this?” he was asking.

She nodded.

“That time in Paris when he tried to persuade you to give up the
aeronautical plans was when I first began to mistrust him. I never
thought I should see you again after our engagement was broken off, but
fate has brought us together. It has been like a dream,” she went on. “I
think sometimes that he exercised a hypnotic influence over me. But I
know it all now and can see things clearly.”

De Garros was about to answer, when suddenly his body stiffened. He
pointed to the northern horizon.

“There,” he cried. “Look there!”

His excitement was mounting high.

“See,” he shouted, “that white light! It’s sweeping the sky! What is
it?”

Far off, a faint pencil of light swung across the zenith as if on a
pivot. It dipped to the horizon, rose again and swung like a radiant
pendulum across the sky.

“Signals,” the girl choked out. “It’s a searchlight!”

From the seamen there came a hoarse cheer.

“It’s a battleship! She’s signaling!” shouted Jack in a voice that
shook. “It’s Morse!”

He took a long breath or two. Then he choked out the message that was
flung on the sky.

“Courage! We are coming!”

And then pandemonium broke loose. Under the glaring sky, seamen danced
and shouted and the other members of the party shook hands. Only Jarrold
stood silent and aloof, looking at his niece and De Garros. It was as if
he knew that his hold over her was broken forever, and that the
approaching warships, speeding to the rescue, meant for him shackles and
iron bars.

The scene shifts to Colon harbor. Into port are steaming the
_Birmingham_, scout cruiser, and the _Wasp_, torpedo destroyer, the
craft that rescued the castaways of Castle Island. Already by wireless
the story of the lost liner and the wonderful resourcefulness of Jack
Ready and Sam Smalley has gone out to the world. Big crowds are waiting
to meet the rescuing warships. Among them are the military attachés to
whom Colonel Minturn, thanks to Jack, will be able to hand the Panama
documents so nearly lost forever.

At the stern of the _Wasp_, under the ensign, are standing Jarrold’s
niece and De Garros. He is telling her that Colonel Minturn has promised
to intercede for her uncle, and that in all probability he will be
deported with a warning never to tread American soil again, in place of
being imprisoned. Nations do not care to advertise their troubles with
international spies, if it can be avoided.

Jack and Sam, on board the _Birmingham_, stand happily by the wireless
operator of the cruiser. He is taking a message. Presently he turns to
them.

“Some news that will interest you, fellows,” he says. “All the boats
from the _Tropic Queen_ have been picked up, without the loss of a
single passenger.”

“Good work!” exclaim the two listeners heartily.

“And the _Endymion_,” continues the operator, “has been in port for a
week, and her crew and captain are detained pending an inquiry.”

“Well, I guess they’ll get out of the scrape, all right,” says Jack,
“for they didn’t know what schemes Jarrold was up to when he chartered
the yacht.”

“What about Cummings?” asks Sam.

“So far as I am concerned, I shall take no action,” replies Jack. “All
that I am anxious for now is for a sight of the good old U. S. A. and
Uncle Toby and——”

“Somebody named Helen,” chuckles Sam, while Jack turns red under his
tan.

And here, with their adventures on the lost liner at an end, we will say
farewell to our ocean wireless boys till we encounter them again in a
forthcoming volume dealing with their further stirring adventures at the
radio key.

THE END.



BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

Cloth Bound—Price, 50c per volume

THE BOY AVIATORS IN NICARAGUA, Or, Leagued With Insurgents

  The launching of this Twentieth Century series marks the inauguration
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  Frank and Harry Chester, the _Boy Aviators_, are the heroes of this
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  in a tropical storm. It would be unfair to divulge the part that
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By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

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THE BOY AVIATORS ON SECRET SERVICE, Or, Working With Wireless

  In this live-wire narrative of peril and adventure, laid in the
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  this vivid, enthralling story of incident, hardship and pluck to get
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By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

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THE BOY AVIATORS IN AFRICA, Or, An Aerial Ivory Trail

  In this absorbing book we meet, on a Continent made famous by the
  American explorer Stanley, and ex-President Roosevelt, our old
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  Continent—the author follows in exciting detail his young heroes,
  their voyage in the first aeroplane to fly above the mysterious
  forests and unexplored ranges of the mystic land. In this book, too,
  for the first time, we entertain Luther Barr, the old New York
  millionaire, who proved later such an implacable enemy of the boys.
  The story of his defeated schemes, of the astonishing things the boys
  discovered in the Mountains of the Moon, of the pathetic fate of
  George Desmond, the emulator of Stanley, the adventure of the Flying
  Men and the discovery of the Arabian Ivory cache,—this is not the
  place to speak. It would be spoiling the zest of an exciting tale to
  reveal the outcome of all these episodes here. It may be said,
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By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

Cloth Bound—Price, 50c per volume

THE BOY AVIATORS TREASURE QUEST, Or, The Golden Galleon

  Everybody is a boy once more when it comes to the question of hidden
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  that is concealed neither under the sea nor beneath the earth, but is
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  the mystery of the Golden Galleon, plays a large part in the
  development of the plot of this fascinating narrative of treasure
  hunting in the region of the Gulf Stream and the Sagasso Sea. An
  aeroplane fitted with efficient pontoons—enabling her to skim the
  water successfully—has long been a dream of aviators. The Chester Boys
  seem to have solved the problem. The Sagasso, that strange drifting
  ocean within an ocean, holding ships of a dozen nations and a score of
  ages, in its relentless grip, has been the subject of many books of
  adventure and mystery, but in none has the secret of the ever shifting
  mass of treacherous currents been penetrated as it has in the BOY
  AVIATORS TREASURE QUEST. Luther Barr, whom it seemed the boys had
  shaken off, is still on their trail, in this absorbing book and with a
  dirigible balloon, essays to beat them out in their search for the
  Golden Galleon. Every boy, every man—and woman and girl—who has ever
  felt the stirring summons of adventure in their souls, had better get
  hold of this book. Once obtained, it will be read and re-read till it
  falls to rags.

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By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

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THE BOY AVIATORS IN RECORD FLIGHT, Or, The Rival Aeroplane

  The Chester Boys in new field of endeavor—an attempt to capture a
  newspaper prize for a trans-continental flight. By the time these
  lines are read, exactly such an offer will have been spread broadcast
  by one of the foremost newspapers of the country. In the Golden Eagle,
  the boys, accompanied by a trail-blazing party in an automobile, make
  the dash. But they are not alone in their aspirations. Their rivals
  for the rich prize at stake try in every way that they can to
  circumvent the lads and gain the valuable trophy and monetary award.
  In this they stop short at nothing, and it takes all the wits and
  resources of the Boy Aviators to defeat their devices. Among the
  adventures encountered in their cross-country flight, the boys fall in
  with a band of rollicking cow-boys—who momentarily threaten serious
  trouble—are attacked by Indians, strike the most remarkable town of
  the desert—the “dry” town of “Gow Wells,” encounter a sandstorm which
  blows them into strange lands far to the south of their course, and
  meet with several amusing mishaps beside. A thoroughly readable book.
  The sort to take out behind the barn on the sunny side of the
  haystack, and, with a pocketful of juicy apples and your heels kicking
  the air, pass, happy hours with Captain Lawton’s young heroes.

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By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

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THE BOY AVIATORS POLAR DASH, Or, Facing Death in the Antarctic

  If you were to hear that two boys, accompanying a South Polar
  expedition in charge of the aeronautic department, were to penetrate
  the Antarctic regions—hitherto only attained by a few daring
  explorers—you would feel interested, wouldn’t you? Well, in Captain
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  read absorbing adventure in the regions south of the eightieth
  parallel, but absorb much useful information as well. Captain Lawton
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  creation in the person of Professor Simeon Sandburr, a patient seeker
  for polar insects. The professor’s adventures in his quest are the
  cause of much merriment, and lead once or twice to serious
  predicaments. In a volume so packed with incident and peril from cover
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  difficult to single out any one feature; still, a recent reader of it
  wrote the publishers an enthusiastic letter the other day, saying:
  “The episodes above the Great Barrier are thrilling, the attack of the
  condors in Patagonia made me hold my breath, the—but what’s the use?
  The Polar Dash, to my mind, is an even more entrancing book than
  Captain Lawton’s previous efforts, and that’s saying a good deal. The
  aviation features and their technical correctness are by no means the
  least attractive features of this up-to-date creditable volume.”

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BOY INVENTORS SERIES

Stories of Skill and Ingenuity

By RICHARD BONNER

Cloth Bound, Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid.

THE BOY INVENTORS’ WIRELESS TELEGRAPH.

  Blest with natural curiosity,—sometimes called the instinct of
  investigation,—favored with golden opportunity, and gifted with
  creative ability, the Boy Inventors meet emergencies and contrive
  mechanical wonders that interest and convince the reader because they
  always “work” when put to the test.

THE BOY INVENTORS’ VANISHING GUN.

  A thought, a belief, an experiment; discouragement, hope, effort and
  final success—this is the history of many an invention; a history in
  which excitement, competition, danger, despair and persistence figure.
  This merely suggests the circumstances which draw the daring Boy
  Inventors into strange experiences and startling adventures, and which
  demonstrate the practical use of their vanishing gun.

THE BOY INVENTORS’ DIVING TORPEDO BOAT.

  As in the previous stories of the Boy Inventors, new and interesting
  triumphs of mechanism are produced which become immediately valuable,
  and the stage for their proving and testing is again the water. On the
  surface and below it, the boys have jolly, contagious fun, and the
  story of their serious, purposeful inventions challenge the reader’s
  deepest attention.

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BORDER BOYS SERIES

Mexican and Canadian Frontier Series

By FREMONT B. DEERING.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE BORDER BOYS ON THE TRAIL.

  What it meant to make an enemy of Black Ramon De Barios—that is the
  problem that Jack Merrill and his friends, including Coyote Pete, face
  in this exciting tale.

THE BORDER BOYS ACROSS THE FRONTIER.

  Read of the Haunted Mesa and its mysteries, of the Subterranean River
  and its strange uses, of the value of gasolene and steam “in running
  the gauntlet,” and you will feel that not even the ancient splendors
  of the Old World can furnish a better setting for romantic action than
  the Border of the New.

THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE MEXICAN RANGERS.

  As every day is making history—faster, it is said, than ever before—so
  books that keep pace with the changes are full of rapid action and
  accurate facts. This book deals with lively times on the Mexican
  border.

THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE TEXAS RANGERS.

  The Border Boys have already had much excitement and adventure in
  their lives, but all this has served to prepare them for the
  experiences related in this volume. They are stronger, braver and more
  resourceful than ever, and the exigencies of their life in connection
  with the Texas Rangers demand all their trained ability.

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MOTOR CYCLE SERIES

Splendid Motor Cycle Stories

By LIEUT. HOWARD PAYSON.

Author of “Boy Scout Series.”

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THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS AROUND THE WORLD.

  Could Jules Verne have dreamed of encircling the globe with a motor
  cycle for emergencies he would have deemed it an achievement greater
  than any he describes in his account of the amusing travels of Philias
  Fogg. This, however, is the purpose successfully carried out by the
  Motor Cycle Chums, and the tale of their mishaps, hindrances and
  delays is one of intense interest, secret amusement, and incidental
  information to the reader.

THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS OF THE NORTHWEST PATROL.

  The Great Northwest is a section of vast possibilities and in it the
  Motor Cycle Chums meet adventures even more unusual and exciting than
  many of their experiences on their tour around the world. There is not
  a dull page in this lively narrative of clever boys and their
  attendant “Chinee.”

THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS IN THE GOLD FIELDS.

  The gold fever which ran its rapid course through the veins of the
  historic “forty-niners” recurs at certain intervals, and seizes its
  victims with almost irresistible power. The search for gold is so
  fascinating to the seekers that hardship, danger and failure are
  obstacles that scarcely dampen their ardour. How the Motor Cycle Chums
  were caught by the lure of the gold and into what difficulties and
  novel experiences they were led, makes a tale of thrilling interest.

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DREADNOUGHT BOYS SERIES

Tales of the New Navy

By CAPT. WILBUR LAWTON

Author of “BOY AVIATORS SERIES.”

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON BATTLE PRACTICE.

  Especially interesting and timely is this book which introduces the
  reader with its heroes, Ned and Here, to the great ships of modern
  warfare and to the intimate life and surprising adventures of Uncle
  Sam’s sailors.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ABOARD A DESTROYER.

  In this story real dangers threaten and the boys’ patriotism is tested
  in a peculiar international tangle. The scene is laid on the South
  American coast.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON A SUBMARINE.

  To the inventive genius—trade-school boy or mechanic—this story has
  special charm, perhaps, but to every reader its mystery and clever
  action are fascinating.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON AERO SERVICE.

  Among the volunteers accepted for Aero Service are Ned and Herc. Their
  perilous adventures are not confined to the air, however, although
  they make daring and notable flights in the name of the Government;
  nor are they always able to fly beyond the reach of their old
  “enemies,” who are also airmen.

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BUNGALOW BOYS SERIES

LIVE STORIES OF OUTDOOR LIFE

By DEXTER J. FORRESTER.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE BUNGALOW BOYS.

  How the Bungalow Boys received their title and how they retained the
  right to it in spite of much opposition makes a lively narrative for
  lively boys.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS MAROONED IN THE TROPICS.

  A real treasure hunt of the most thrilling kind, with a sunken Spanish
  galleon as its object, makes a subject of intense interest at any
  time, but add to that a band of desperate men, a dark plot and a devil
  fish, and you have the combination that brings strange adventures into
  the lives of the Bungalow Boys.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS IN THE GREAT NORTH WEST.

  The clever assistance of a young detective saves the boys from the
  clutches of Chinese smugglers, of whose nefarious trade they know too
  much. How the Professor’s invention relieves a critical situation is
  also an exciting incident of this book.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES.

  The Bungalow Boys start out for a quiet cruise on the Great Lakes and
  a visit to an island. A storm and a band of wreckers interfere with
  the serenity of their trip, and a submarine adds zest and adventure to
  it.

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FRANK ARMSTRONG SERIES

Twentieth Century Athletic Stories

By MATHEW M. COLTON.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 60c. per vol., postpaid

FRANK ARMSTRONG’S VACATION.

  How Frank’s summer experience with his boy friends make him into a
  sturdy young athlete through swimming, boating, and baseball contests,
  and a tramp through the Everglades, is the subject of this splendid
  story.

FRANK ARMSTRONG AT QUEENS.

  We find among the jolly boys at Queen’s School, Frank, the
  student-athlete, Jimmy, the baseball enthusiast, and Lewis, the
  unconsciously-funny youth who furnishes comedy for every page that
  bears his name. Fall and winter sports between intensely rival school
  teams are expertly described.

FRANK ARMSTRONG’S SECOND TERM.

  The gymnasium, the track and the field make the background for the
  stirring events of this volume, in which David, Jimmy, Lewis, the “Wee
  One” and the “Codfish” figure, while Frank “saves the day.”

FRANK ARMSTRONG, DROP KICKER.

  With the same persistent determination that won him success in
  swimming, running and baseball playing, Frank Armstrong acquired the
  art of “drop kicking,” and the Queen’s football team profits thereby.

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translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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