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Title: Dave Porter on Cave Island - A Schoolboy's Mysterious Mission
Author: Stratemeyer, Edward, 1862-1930
Language: English
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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.

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[Illustration: “Empty!” murmured Dave sadly. “Empty!”—_Page 217._]

                           Dave Porter Series

                       DAVE PORTER ON CAVE ISLAND



                           EDWARD STRATEMEYER

 Author of “Dave Porter at Oak Hall,” “Dave Porter in the South Seas,”
          “The Gun Club Boys of Lakeport,” “Old Glory Series,”
                      “Pan-American Series,” etc.

                   _ILLUSTRATED BY H. RICHARD BOEHM_

                       LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO.

                         Published, March, 1912
             Copyright, 1912, by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.

                         _All Rights Reserved_

                       Dave Porter on Cave Island

                             Norwood Press
                         Berwick and Smith Co.
                             Norwood, Mass.
                                U. S. A.


“Dave Porter on Cave Island” is a complete story in itself but forms the
eighth volume in a line issued under the general title of “Dave Porter

The opening tale of this series, called “Dave Porter at Oak Hall,”
related the adventures of a wide-awake lad at a typical boarding school
of to-day. This was followed by “Dave Porter in the South Seas,” whither
our hero had gone to find his father, and then by “Dave Porter’s Return
to School.”

From Oak Hall, Dave journeyed to Norway, as related in “Dave Porter in
the Far North.” On his return to this country he once more attended
school, as told of in “Dave Porter and His Classmates.” Dave made a host
of friends and likewise a few enemies, and some of the latter plotted to
do him much harm.

When vacation came once more, Dave received an invitation to visit a
home in the far west, and what he did on that trip has been set forth in
“Dave Porter at Star Ranch.” Then, when vacation days were at an end, he
came back to Oak Hall, as related in the seventh volume of this series,
entitled, “Dave Porter and His Rivals.”

In the present book we find Dave again at school. But the Christmas
holidays are at hand and the lad returns home. Here a most mysterious
and unlooked-for happening occurs, and Dave’s great benefactor, Mr.
Wadsworth, is on the verge of ruin because of it. Dave gets a clew to
the mystery, and, with his chums, resolves to investigate. He takes a
long journey and has a number of stirring adventures, the particulars of
which are given in the pages that follow.

When I started this line of books I trusted that Dave might please the
boys, but I did not imagine that so many thousands of boys and girls all
over the land would clamor as they have for more concerning the doings
of my hero. I thank all for their appreciation of my efforts to please
them, and I sincerely trust that the reading of this new volume will be
a benefit to them.

                                                     Edward Stratemeyer.
                                                     _February_ 1, 1912.


           CHAPTER                                           PAGE
                I. The Schoolboy Chums                          1
               II. A Glimpse at the Past                       16
              III. What Dave Had to Tell                       18
               IV. The Schoolboy Hunters                       28
                V. A Tramp Through the Snow                    38
               VI. Good-by to Oak Hall                         48
              VII. Nat Poole’s Revelation                      58
             VIII. A Merry Christmas                           63
               IX. Nat Poole Gets Caught                       78
                X. What Happened at the Jewelry Works          88
               XI. Looking for the Robbers                     98
              XII. The Telltale Cigarette Box                 108
             XIII. Dark Days                                  118
              XIV. Off for the South                          128
               XV. Something About White Mice                 138
              XVI. Picking up the Trail                       147
             XVII. Meeting Old Friends                        157
            XVIII. Off for Barbados                           167
              XIX. The Missing Ship                           177
               XX. Landing on Cave Island                     187
              XXI. Into a Cave and Out                        197
             XXII. The Hurricane                              207
            XXIII. A Strange Discovery                        217
             XXIV. Jasniff and Merwell                        227
              XXV. Link Merwell’s Story                       237
             XXVI. The Column of Smoke                        247
            XXVII. Behind the Curtain of Vines                257
           XXVIII. In Which the Enemy Sails Away              267
             XXIX. A Chase on the Ocean                       277
              XXX. Homeward Bound—Conclusion                  287



“Come on, fellows, if you are going! It’s a good six-mile skate to
Squirrel Island, and we’ve got to hustle if we want to get there in time
for lunch.”

“Wait till I fix my right skate, Dave,” returned Phil Lawrence. “I don’t
want to lose it on the way.”

“Say, that puts me in mind of a story,” came from another of the group
of schoolboys who were adjusting their skates. “Once a man asked for a
pair of skates for——”

“Stow it, Shadow!” interrupted Dave Porter. “We haven’t any time now to
listen to stories. You can tell them while we are resting up at the

“Shadow can tell stories while we put away the lunch,” observed Roger
Morr, with a grin.

“Not much!” cried the lad mentioned. “I guess that skate will make me as
hungry as anybody—and the stories will keep.”

“I thought Ben Basswood was going, too?” came from another of the

“Here he comes, Lazy,” answered Dave, and as he spoke he pointed to a
path across the snow-covered campus, along which another boy was
hurrying, skates in hand.

“Co-couldn’t get here an-any so-sooner!” panted Ben, as he dropped on a
bench to adjust his skates. “Old Haskers made me do some extra work in
Latin! Wow, but don’t I love that man!”

“We all do,” answered Phil. “We are going to get up a testimonial to
him. A silver-mounted——”

“Slice of punk, with an ancient lemon on top,” finished Dave. “It’s just
what he’s been waiting for.” And at this sally there was a general

“Well, I’m ready,” went on Phil, as he arose from the bench. “Say, but
isn’t it just a glorious day for the outing?” he added, casting his eyes
around and drawing in a deep breath of the pure, cold air.

“It couldn’t be better, Phil,” answered Dave. “And we ought to have a
fine time at the island, bringing down rabbits and squirrels. Old Jerry
Lusk told me that hunting was never better.”

“What’s the matter with having some of the rabbits and squirrels for
lunch?” asked Sam Day.

“Perhaps we can cook them, Sam,” returned Dave. “But we had better
depend on the lunch hamper for something to eat. By the way, we’ll have
to take turns carrying the hamper. It is rather heavy.”

“Chip Macklin and I are going to carry it first,” said a tall, strong
youth named Gus Plum. “It’s not so very heavy, although it is filled
with good things.”

“Don’t lose it, on your life!” cried Phil.

“Lose it!” echoed Roger Morr. “Banish the thought! We’ll form a guard
around Gus and Chip, so they can’t get away with it on the sly.”

“Not so much as a doughnut must be eaten until we reach the island and
start a campfire,” said Dave. “Those are orders from headquarters,” he
added, with a grand flourish.

“Orders accepted, admiral!” cried Gus, and made a bow so profound that
his skates went from under him, sending him to his knees. This caused a
wild laugh, and the powerfully-built youth got up in a hurry, looking
rather sheepish.

“I’m ready now,” said Ben, as he left the bench and settled his skating
cap on his head. “Come on, let’s get away before old Haskers calls us
back for something or other. He just loves to spoil a fellow’s outing.”

“There he is at one of the windows!” cried Roger, pointing back to the
school building. “I really believe he is beckoning to us!”

“Don’t look,” cautioned Dave. “He’ll want us to go back, to put away
some books, or clean our desks, or something. Doctor Clay said we could
take this outing, and I’m not going to let any teacher spoil it.
Forward!” and away from the shore he skated, with his chums around him.
They had scarcely covered a distance of a dozen yards when a window was
thrown up hastily, and Job Haskers thrust his head through the opening.

“Boys! boys!” called out the Oak Hall teacher. “Wait a minute! I want to
know where you are going, and if all of you have finished studying.”

“Don’t look back, and don’t answer!” said Roger, in a hoarse whisper.

“Give the school yell!” suggested Phil.

“Just the thing!” returned Sam Day. “Now then, all together!” And an
instant later through the clear, wintry air, rang the well-known Oak
Hall slogan:

  Oak Hall
  Has the call!
  Biff! Boom! Bang! Whoop!”

Three times the boys gave the cry, and by that time they had skated far
up the river and out of sight of the window at which the teacher was
standing. Job Haskers looked after them glumly, and then closed the
window with a bang.

“They must have heard me—I don’t see how they could help it,” he
muttered to himself. “Such disrespect! I’ll make them toe the mark for
it when they get back! Bah! Doctor Clay is altogether too easy with the
boys. If I were running this school I’d make them mind!” And the teacher
shut his teeth grimly. He was a man who thought that the boys ought to
spend all their time in studying. The hours devoted to outdoor exercise
he considered practically wasted. He was too short-sighted to realize
that, in order to have a perfectly sound mind, one must likewise have a
sound body.

“He’ll have it in for us when we get back,” murmured Chip Macklin. “My!
how he does love to stop a fellow’s fun!”

“Don’t worry,” chimed in Roger. “Sufficient unto the hour is the lecture
thereof. Let us enjoy this outing while it lasts, and let come what will
when we get back.”

“Which puts me in mind of another story,” broke in Shadow Hamilton. “A
fellow used to eat too much, and he had to take his medicine regularly,
to keep from getting indigestion. So once—wow!” And Shadow broke off
short, for Phil had suddenly put out his foot, sending the story-teller
of Oak Hall sprawling.

“So he had to take his medicine,” repeated Dave, gravely.

“Did the medicine agree with him?” asked Roger, innocently.

“He took it lying down, didn’t he?” questioned Gus.

“I’ll ‘medicine’ you!” roared Shadow, as he scrambled to his feet. Then
he made a wild dash after the youth who had tripped him up, but Phil had
skated on ahead and he took good care that Shadow did not catch him. “I
won’t tell you another story for a year!” the story-teller growled,
after the chase was at an end.

“Phew! Shadow says he is going to reform!” murmured Ben.

“Let it pass, Shadow!” cried Dave, not wishing the story-teller to take
the matter too seriously. “You can tell all the stories you please
around the campfire. But just now let us push on as fast as we can. I
want a chance to do some rabbit and squirrel hunting, and you know we’ve
got to be back on time, or we’ll have trouble with Doctor Clay as well
as with old Haskers.”

“Yes, and I want to take some pictures before it gets too dark,” said
Sam, who had his camera along.

“Do you know what Horsehair told me?” came from Roger. “He said we were
fixing for another snowstorm.”

“It doesn’t look so now,” returned Dave. “But Horsehair generally hits
it on the weather, so maybe we’ll catch it before we get back.”

“Wonder if we’ll meet any of the Rockville cadets?” remarked Phil, as he
and Dave forged to the front, they knowing the way up the river better
than did some of the others.

“It is possible, Phil. All of them have guns, and I should think they
would like to go hunting.”

“I guess most of their firearms are rifles, not fowling-pieces.”

“Not more than half—I learned that from Mallory, when we played hockey.
He said they had some shotguns just for hunting and camping out

“Well, those chaps have a holiday to-day, the same as we have, so some
of them may be up around Squirrel Island. But I’d rather not meet them,”
and Dave’s face became serious.

“Humph! If those military academy fellows try to play any tricks on us I
reckon we can give ’em as good as they send,” growled Phil.

“To be sure we can, Phil. But I’d rather keep out of trouble to-day and
have some good, clean sport. I haven’t been hunting this season and I’m
just itching to draw a bead on a fat bunny, or squirrel, or some
partridges. You know, I used to go hunting in the woods around
Crumville, when I was home.”

“Why, of course! Didn’t Roger and I go along once? But we didn’t get
much that trip, although we did get into a lively row with Nat Poole.”

“Oh, yes, I remember now. I wish——” And then Dave Porter came to a
sudden silence.

“What is it, Dave?” and Phil looked closely at his chum.

“Oh, not much,” was the evasive answer.

“But I know something is worrying you,” insisted the shipowner’s son.
“I’ve noticed it for several days, and Roger noticed it, too.”


“Yes. He came to me yesterday and said that he was sure you had
something on your mind. Now, maybe it is none of our business, Dave. But
if I and Roger can help you in any way, you know we’ll be only too glad
to do it.” Phil spoke in a low but earnest voice.

“Hi, what’s doing in the front rank?” cried a cheery voice at this
juncture, and Roger Morr skated swiftly up beside Dave and Phil.

“I’m glad you came,” said Phil, and he looked at the senator’s son in a
peculiar fashion. “I was just speaking to Dave about how we had noticed
something was wrong, and how we were willing to help him, if he needed

“Sure, we’ll help you every time, Dave; you know that,” returned Roger,

“I don’t know that I need any help,” answered Dave, slowly. “The fact of
the matter is, I don’t know what can be done.”

“Then something is wrong?” cried both of his chums.

“Yes, if you must know. I was going to keep it to myself, for I didn’t
think it would do any good to tell about it. I’ll tell you, but I don’t
want it to go any further, unless it becomes necessary to speak.”

“Before you tell us, let me make a guess about this,” said Phil. “Some
of your old enemies are trying to make trouble for you, is that right?”


“And those enemies are Link Merwell and Nick Jasniff,” cried Roger.

“Yes, again,” answered Dave.

“What are they up to now, Dave?” The eager question came from Phil.

“They are up to a number of things,” was the grave response of Dave
Porter. “They are evidently going to do their best to disgrace my family
and myself, and ruin us.”


“Disgrace you and ruin you!” cried Roger, in amazement.

“That is what it looks like,” answered Dave. “I can account for their
actions in no other way.”

“Tell us just what is going on,” urged Phil. “You know you can trust us
to keep it a secret.”

“I will tell you everything,” answered Dave. “But first let us skate up
a little faster, so that the others won’t catch a word of what is said.”
And with that he struck out more rapidly than ever, and his two chums
did likewise.

To those who have read the former volumes of this series, Dave Porter
will need no introduction. For the benefit of others let me state that
my hero had had a varied career, starting when he was but a child of a
few years. At that time he had been found wandering along the railroad
tracks near the town of Crumville. As nobody claimed him, he was placed
in a local poorhouse and later bound out to a broken-down college
professor, Caspar Potts, who had taken up farming for his health.

Professor Potts was in the grasp of a miserly money-lender of Crumville
named Aaron Poole, who had a son Nat, who could not get along at all
with Dave. Mr. Poole was about to foreclose a mortgage on the
professor’s place and sell him out when something occurred that was the
means of changing the whole course of the professor’s own life and that
of the youth who lived with him.

On the outskirts of Crumville lived Mr. Oliver Wadsworth, a wealthy
manufacturer, with his wife and daughter Jessie. One day the gasoline
tank of an automobile took fire and little Jessie was in danger of being
burned to death. Dave rushed to her assistance and beat out the flames,
and thus saved her. For this Mr. Wadsworth was very grateful. He made
some inquiries concerning Caspar Potts and Dave, and learning that
Professor Potts had been one of his former college instructors, he made
the old gentleman come and live with him.

“Dave shall go to boarding school and get a good education,” said Mr.
Wadsworth. And how Dave went has been told in detail in the first volume
of this series, entitled “Dave Porter at Oak Hall.” With Dave went Ben
Basswood, his one boy friend in Crumville.

At Oak Hall, a fine seat of learning, located on the Leming River, in
one of our eastern states, Dave made a number of warm friends, including
Phil Lawrence, the son of a rich shipowner; Roger Morr, whose father was
a United States senator; Maurice Hamilton, usually called Shadow, who
was noted for his sleep-walking and the stories he loved to tell; Sam
Day, known throughout the school as Lazy, why nobody could tell, since
Sam at times was unusually active, and a score of others, some of whom
have already been introduced. He also made, in those days, one enemy,
Gus Plum. But Gus had since reformed, and was now as good a friend as
any of the rest.

What troubled Dave most of all in those days was the question of his
identity. How he started to find out who he was has been related in my
second volume, called “Dave Porter in the South Seas.” There he did not
meet his father, as he had hoped, but he did meet his uncle, Dunston
Porter, and learned much concerning his father, David Breslow Porter,
and also his sister Laura, then traveling in Europe.

When Dave came back to Oak Hall, as related in “Dave Porter’s Return to
School,” he met many of his friends and succeeded in making himself more
popular than ever. But some lads were jealous of our hero’s success, and
two of them, Nick Jasniff and Link Merwell, did what they could to get
Dave into trouble, being aided in part by Nat Poole, the son of the
miserly money-lender, who had followed Dave to the school. The plots
against Dave were exposed, and in sheer fright Nick Jasniff ran away and
went to Europe.

Dave had been expecting right along to meet his father and his sister,
and when they did not return to this country, and did not send word, he
grew anxious, and started out to find them, as related in detail in
“Dave Porter in the Far North.” It was in Norway that Dave first saw his
parent, a meeting as strange as it was affecting.

After his trip to the Land of the Midnight Sun, our hero returned once
again to school, as related in “Dave Porter and His Classmates.” Jasniff
had not returned, but Link Merwell was still at hand, and likewise the
lordly Nat Poole, and they did what they could to make our hero’s life
miserable. In the end Merwell did something that was particularly
despicable and this caused Dave to take the law into his own hands and
he gave the bully the thrashing that he well deserved. Merwell wanted to
retaliate in some manner, but in the midst of his plotting, word of his
wrongdoings reached the head of the school and he was ordered to pack up
and leave, which he did in great rage.

While Dave was off hunting for his father and his sister, Laura Porter
had been visiting her friend, Belle Endicott, at Mr. Endicott’s ranch in
the far west. Belle was anxious to meet her girl chum’s newly-found
brother, and this led to a visit to the ranch, as told of in “Dave
Porter at Star Ranch.” Here Dave again met Link Merwell, and proved that
the latter had been aiding some horse-thieves in their wicked work. Mr.
Merwell had to settle a heavy bill because of his son’s actions, and
then, for a short space of time, Link disappeared.

With the coming of fall, Dave and his chums returned to Oak Hall, as
related in the volume preceding this, called “Dave Porter and His
Rivals.” As his chief enemies had left the school, he did not anticipate
much trouble, yet trouble came in a manner somewhat out of the ordinary.
Nat Poole joined a group of students who had come to Oak Hall from
another school, and the crowd did what it could to get Dave and his
friends off the football eleven. Then, when Dave had once more fought
his way to the front, came word that Nick Jasniff and Link Merwell were
again “after his scalp,” as Roger expressed it. Jasniff and Merwell were
then attending a rival institution of learning known as Rockville
Military Academy.

“Be careful, or they’ll play you some dirty trick, Dave,” said Phil,

“I’ve got my eyes open,” replied Dave.

In a rather unusual manner Dave had become acquainted with a man named
Hooker Montgomery, a fake doctor, who traveled around the country
selling medicines that he made himself. This man asked Dave to call on
him, and when the youth did so he was suddenly seized from behind, made
a prisoner, and carried off in a sleigh and then in an automobile. At
first he did not know what to make of it, but at last learned that he
was being held, for some purpose, by Merwell, Jasniff, Montgomery, and
the fourth man, a mere tool. He watched his chance, and, at length,
escaped, much to his enemies’ chagrin.

“Have them all arrested,” was the advice of Dave’s chums, but this was
not easy, since all of the evil-doers had disappeared. Then, one day,
while on a sleigh-ride to a distant town, the boys fell in with Hooker
Montgomery. The fake doctor was practically “down and out,” as he
himself expressed it, and said he would do anything for Dave, provided
he was not prosecuted.

“It was all a plot gotten up by those two, Jasniff and Merwell,” said
Hooker Montgomery. “They promised me some money if I would help them,
but I never got a cent.” Then he said that Jasniff and Merwell were in

“We’ll locate them,” said Dave, but this was not accomplished until
later, when the pair of rascals were encountered at a railroad office.
Our hero and his chums tried to stop Jasniff and Merwell, but the
rascals rushed through a crowd and got aboard a train; and that was the
last seen of them for the time being. The boys might have gone after the
pair, but they had an important hockey game to play, and when they
administered a stinging defeat to Oak Hall’s ancient rival, Rockville
Academy, Dave, for the time being, forgot that he had an enemy in the

“Two weeks more of the grind, boys!” cried Dave, on the following
Monday. “And then home for the holidays.”

“Right you are,” answered Phil. “But, oh, those two weeks!”

On Wednesday one of Dave’s chums celebrated his birthday, and among the
presents received was a very fine double-barreled shotgun. This lad
immediately wanted to go hunting; and the result was that the boys
applied to Doctor Clay for permission to go to Squirrel Island, up the
river, on a hunting expedition, the following Saturday. There was just
sufficient snow on the ground to make rabbit and squirrel tracking good,
and the boys were told that they might remain away all day. Six of them
had guns and two had revolvers, and they carried in addition a
good-sized hamper of provisions for lunch.

“Now, boys, be careful and don’t shoot yourselves or anybody else,” said
Doctor Clay, with a smile, when Dave, Roger, and Phil left the school
building. “Don’t fire at anything until you are certain of what it is.
Every hunting season somebody is killed through the sheer carelessness
of somebody else.”

“We’ll be careful,” answered Dave.

“Do you think you’ll get any game?” And the doctor continued to smile.

“I hope to bring you at least a brace of rabbits or squirrels, Doctor.”

“Well, I wish you luck. And don’t stay too late,” returned the head of
the school, and then with a pleasant nod he dismissed them.

Dave, Roger, and Phil were the first at the place of meeting, but they
were quickly joined by all the others except Ben.

“I’ll tell you what, Phil,” said the senator’s son, when he had a chance
to talk to Phil alone. “Something is wrong with Dave. He isn’t himself
at all. Can’t you see it?”

“Of course I can, Roger,” was the reply of the shipowner’s son. “If I
get a chance to speak to him about it, I am going to do so. But I’ve got
to be careful—I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”

“When you do speak, give me the sign, so I can hear what he has to say,
too,” went on Roger, and to this Phil agreed. Then came the start up the
river, and a little later Phil broached the subject, and Dave made the
dismaying announcement that Jasniff and Merwell were doing their best to
bring disgrace to himself and his family and ruin them.


“It’s rather a long story, and I scarcely know how to begin,” said Dave,
after he, Phil, and Roger had skated ahead and to the right, where the
others were not likely to overhear the conversation. “But, to begin
with, Jasniff and Merwell have been to Crumville since they left here in
such a hurry, and—I have some reason to believe—they have been here in
town, too.”

“Here!” cried the shipowner’s son.


“Why didn’t you tell us of this before?” asked Roger.

“I didn’t know of it until lately, and I didn’t want to worry you over
my private affairs.”

“But what have they done?” demanded Phil, impatiently.

“As I said before, Phil, I hardly know how to begin to tell you. But to
plunge right in. In the first place, when they were in Crumville they
followed my sister Laura and Jessie Wadsworth to a concert by a college
glee club. They forced their attentions on the two girls, and gave
outsiders an impression that they had come as escorts. The girls were so
upset over it that Laura wrote me that Jessie was actually sick. Two
days after that, when the girls were out walking one evening, Jasniff
and Merwell followed them, and right on the main street, near the
post-office, they came up and commenced to talk and Merwell said to
Laura, loud enough for half a dozen folks to hear: ’You’ve got to keep
your word—you can’t go back on us like that.’ And Jasniff added: ‘Yes,
you girls were glad enough to let us give you a good time before, down
at the Rainbow.’ The Rainbow is a ten-cent moving-picture place, and a
low one at that. Of course there wasn’t a word of truth in it, but
Merwell and Jasniff gave folks the impression that Laura and Jessie had
been going out with them, and you know how such reports spread in a
small town like Crumville.”

“The hounds!” exclaimed the senator’s son, wrathfully. “They should have
been run out of town!”

“Why didn’t the girls tell your folks?” asked Phil.

“They did, as soon as they got home, and my father, Uncle Dunston, and
Mr. Wadsworth went out to look for Merwell and Jasniff, but they were
not to be found. But that was only the beginning. The next day an old
lady came to the house with a letter she had picked up in the
post-office. It was addressed to Link Merwell and had my sister’s name
signed to it, and stated that she was sorry they had quarreled and
wouldn’t he please forgive her and take her to the dance as promised? Of
course the whole thing was a forgery, and it was dropped in the
post-office just to make talk. I suppose Merwell thought some chatterbox
would pick it up and spread the news.”

“But what is his game?” queried the shipowner’s son. “I don’t see how he
is going to gain anything by such actions.”

“He wants to ruin our reputations, just as he and Jasniff have ruined
their own. But I haven’t told you all yet. A day later my father heard
of another letter being found, in which Laura and Jessie promised to go
off on a joy-ride in an auto with Merwell and Jasniff. Then Merwell and
Jasniff appeared in Crumville with a stunning touring car, and they had
two girls with them, loudly dressed and heavily veiled, and the whole
four tooted horns, and sang, and behaved in anything but a becoming
fashion. A good many folks thought the veiled girls must be Laura and
Jessie, and you can imagine how my sister and her friend felt when they
heard of it.”

“Those chaps ought to be arrested,” murmured Phil.

“And tarred and feathered,” added the senator’s son.

“After that, my father and Mr. Wadsworth got after them so sharply that
they left Crumville. That was only a few days ago. The very next day
came a lot of goods to the house, delivered by a large city department
store. The folks hadn’t ordered the goods and didn’t know what to make
of it. They investigated, and learned that a young woman calling herself
Laura Porter had selected the things and had them sent out. Then came
other goods for Mr. Wadsworth, said to have been bought by Jessie. It
was an awful mix-up, and it hasn’t been straightened out yet.”

“It’s the limit!” muttered the senator’s son. “I’ll wager your dad and
Mr. Wadsworth would like to wring those chaps’ necks!”

“Wait, you haven’t heard it all yet,” went on Dave, with a sickly smile.
“Yesterday I received a notice from the express company here to call for
a package on which eighteen dollars was due. I was expecting some things
that I am going to take home for Christmas presents, although they were
to come to fifteen dollars and a half. I paid for the package, thinking
I had made a mistake in footing up my purchases, and when I got it home
I found out it wasn’t what I had bought at all, but a lot of junk nobody
can use. Then my own package came in by the next express, and, of
course, I had to pay again. I sent a telegram to the city about the
first package and they answered that David Porter had purchased the same
and had it sent C. O. D. Then two other packages came, one calling for
six dollars and the other for twenty-four dollars. But I refused to have
anything to do with them, and said I could easily prove that I hadn’t
been to the city to order them. But it is going to cause a lot of

“I believe you,” returned the senator’s son.

“Anything more, Dave?” queried Phil.

“Yes. Last night, if you will remember, an old man came to see me. He
said that two young men had sent him to me, saying that we wanted a man
in Crumville to take care of a certain young lady who was slightly out
of her mind. He said he had once worked in an asylum and knew he could
give satisfaction, even if he was getting old. It was another of Merwell
and Jasniff’s mean tricks, and I had quite a time explaining to the old
man and getting him to go away. He said he had spent two dollars and a
quarter in car-fare to come to see me, and I felt so sorry for him that
I gave him five dollars to help him along.”

“Dave, where is this going to end?” cried Roger.

“That is just what I want to know,” returned Dave. “Perhaps by the time
we get back to Oak Hall there will be more packages waiting for me—or
potatoes, or a horse, or something like that.”

“You could have Merwell and Jasniff arrested for this,” was Phil’s

“Yes, if I could catch them. But they know enough to keep shady. But
that isn’t all. Yesterday I got a letter, or rather a note. It was
postmarked from Rocky Run, about fifteen miles from here. Inside of the
envelope was a card on which was written: ‘We’ll never let up until we
have ruined you.’”

“Was it signed?” asked the senator’s son.

“Oh, no. But I am sure it came from Merwell and Jasniff.”

“They are certainly sore,” was Phil’s comment.

“Traveling around must cost them money. Where do they get the cash?”
asked Roger.

“From Mr. Merwell most likely,” answered Dave. “He got a good price when
he sold his ranch, and he seldom denies Link anything.”

“Have you any idea who the girls were who were in the auto in

“Not exactly, but I think they must have been some of the girls Nat
Poole goes with. When Jasniff and Merwell were there with Nat, I saw the
whole crowd out with some girls from the cotton mills. They were nice
enough girls in their way, but they were very boisterous and not the
kind Laura and Jessie care to pick for company. I suppose those girls
played their part thinking it was nothing but a good joke. One had a hat
on with feathers such as Jessie wears and the other wore a coat and veil
like Laura’s. I guess a good many who saw them riding in the auto and
cutting up like wild Indians thought they were Laura and Jessie.” And
Dave heaved a deep sigh.

“And what are you going to do, Dave?” asked Phil, after a short silence,
during which the three chums continued to skate in advance of their

“What can I do? We are trying to locate the rascals, and when we do
we’ll make them stop. But in the meantime——”

“They may cause you no end of trouble,” finished the senator’s son.

“I don’t care so much for myself as I do for Laura and Jessie, and for
Mr. and Mrs. Wadsworth. I hate to see them suffer because of my trouble
with those rascals. I don’t see why Merwell and Jasniff can’t fight it
out with me alone.”

“You forget one thing, Dave,” returned Phil. “Merwell was once sweet on
your sister. I suppose it made him furious to be turned down by her.”

“Well, then, why does he annoy Jessie? She never harmed him, or Jasniff

“Huh! As if you didn’t know why!” replied Roger, with something like a
chuckle. “Don’t they both know that Jessie is the very apple of your
eye, and that anything that brings trouble to her will cut you to the
heart? Of course they know that, Dave, and you can rest assured that
they will try to hurt you quite as much through Jessie as they’ll try to
hurt you direct.”

“Perhaps, Roger. If I was sure——”

“Low bridge!” shouted Phil at that instant, as a bend of the river was
gained, and then the whole crowd of students swept under the lowhanging
branches of a number of trees. Those ahead had to go slowly and pick the
way with care.

“How much farther have we to go?” called out Sam Day.

“Only a couple of miles,” replied Dave. He turned to Phil and Roger.
“That’s about all,” he whispered. “Keep it to yourselves.”

“We will,” they replied.

“Somebody else going to carry this hamper?” cried Chip Macklin. “It’s
getting rather heavy.”

“I’ll carry one end,” said Ben Basswood.

“And I’ll take the other,” added Phil. “Dave, you and Roger go ahead and
bring down a couple of deer, and a bear, and one or two tigers, or
something like that,” he continued, with a grin, for he wanted to get
Dave’s mind off of his troubles.

“Nothing but an elephant for mine,” answered Dave, with a forced laugh.
“I don’t want to waste my powder.”

“As the society belle said when she left the mark of her cheek on the
gent’s shoulder,” remarked Buster Beggs, the fat lad of the group.

“Say, that puts me in mind of another story,” came from Shadow. “Once on
a time a Dutchman heard that a certain lady was a society belle. He
wanted to tell his friend about it, but he couldn’t think of the right
word. ‘Ach, she is von great lady,’ he said. ‘She is a society


“There’s a ringer for Shadow!”

“Shadow, you want to frame that joke and hang it in the woodshed.”

“Put it down in moth-balls until next summer, Shadow.”

“Oh, say, speaking about moth-balls puts me in mind of another story. A

“Was it a young man, Shadow?” asked Dave, calmly.

“Maybe it was a very old man,” suggested Phil.

“Was he clean-shaven or did he have a beard?” queried Roger.

“Never mind if he was young or old, or clean-shaven or not,” cried the
story-teller. “This man——”

“Was he an American or a foreigner?” demanded Gus Plum. “That is
something we have simply got to know.”

“And if he was knock-kneed,” put in Sam. “I hate love stories about
knock-kneed men. They aren’t a bit romantic.”

“Who said anything about a love story about a knock-kneed man?” burst
out Shadow. “I said——”

But what Shadow was going to say was drowned out in the sudden report of
a shotgun,—a report so close at hand that it made nearly every student
present stop in alarm.


“Dave, what did you shoot at?”

It was Phil who asked the question, for he had been the only one to see
Dave raise his shotgun, take quick aim, and fire into the brushwood
lining the river at that point.

“I shot at a rabbit, and I think I hit him,” was the reply. “I’ll soon
know.” And Dave skated toward the shore, less than twenty yards away. He
poked into the bushes with the barrel of his gun and soon brought forth
a fat, white rabbit which he held up with satisfaction.

“Hurrah!” cried the senator’s son. “First prize goes to Dave! He’s a
fine one, too,” he added, as the students gathered around to inspect the

“Thought you said you wouldn’t shoot anything less than an elephant,”
grunted Buster.

“The elephant will come later,” answered Dave, with a smile.

“I’d like to get a couple like that,” said Gus Plum, wistfully.

“Maybe that will be the total for the day,” was Sam’s comment. He had
gone wild-turkey shooting once and gotten a shot at the start and then
nothing more, so he was inclined to be skeptical.

“Oh, we’ll get more, if we are careful and keep our eyes open,” declared
Dave. “I saw the track of the rabbit in the snow yonder and that made me
look for him.”

Dave’s success put all the students on the alert, and they spread out on
either side of the stream, eager to sight more game.

Less than two minutes later came the crack of Gus Plum’s shotgun,
followed almost immediately by a shot from Buster Beggs’ pistol. Then a
gray rabbit went scampering across the river in front of the boys and
several fired simultaneously.

“I got him! I got him!” shouted Gus, and ran to the shore, to bring out
a medium-sized rabbit.

“And we’ve got another!” cried Sam. “But I don’t know whether Shadow,
Ben, or I killed him.”

“I guess we all had a hand in it,” said Ben. “We all fired at about the
same time.”

“What did you get, Buster?” questioned Chip Macklin.

“I—I guess I didn’t get anything,” faltered the fat youth. “I thought I
saw a squirrel, but I see now that it is only a tree root sticking out
of the snow.”

“Great Scott, Buster! Don’t shoot down the trees!” cried Phil, in mock
dismay. “They might fall on us, you know!” And a laugh arose at the
would-be hunter’s expense.

On the students skated, and before long reached a point where the river
was parted by a long, narrow strip of land known as Squirrel Island,
because squirrels were supposed to abound there.

As they reached the lower end of the island Dave held up his hand as a

“I think I saw some partridges ahead,” he said, in a low voice. “If they
are there we don’t want to disturb them. Put down the hamper and take
off your skates, and we’ll try to bag them.”

His chums were not slow in complying with his commands, and soon the
crowd was making its way toward the center of the island, where grew a
dense clump of cedars. They had to work their way through the brushwood.

“Ouch!” exclaimed Shadow, presently.

“What’s the trouble?” whispered Roger.

“Scratched my hand on a bramble bush,” was the reply. “But it isn’t

“Be careful of your guns,” cautioned Dave. “Don’t let a trigger get
caught in a bush or you may have an accident.”

“There they are!” cried Ben, in a strained voice. “My, what a lot of

He pointed ahead, and to one side of the tall cedars they saw a covey of
partridges, at least twenty in number, resting on the ground.

“All together!” said Dave, in a low, steady voice. “Fire as you stand,
those on the right to the right, those on the left to the left, and
those in the center for the middle of the flock. I’ll count. Ready? One,
two, three!”

Crack! bang! crack! bang! went the shotguns and pistols. Then came a
rushing, rattling, roaring sound, and up into the air went what was left
of the covey, one partridge, being badly wounded, flying in a circle and
then directly for Roger’s head. He struck it with his gun barrel and
then caught it in his hands, quickly putting it out of its misery. The
other boys continued to bang away, but soon the escaping game was beyond
their reach.

“A pretty good haul!” cried Dave, as he and his chums moved forward.
“Three here and the one Roger has makes four. Boys, we won’t go back

“Who hit and who missed?” questioned Sam.

“That would be a hard question to answer,” returned Phil. “Better let
the credit go to the whole crowd,” and so it was decided.

“Well, there isn’t much use in looking for any more game around here,”
said Dave. “Those volleys of shots will make them lay low for some

“Let’s go into camp and get lunch,” suggested Buster. “I’m as hungry as
a bear.”

“Were you ever anything else?” questioned Ben, with a grin, for the
stout youth’s constant desire to eat was well known.

They tramped to the south shore of the island, and there, in a nook that
was sheltered from the north wind, they went into temporary camp,
cutting down some brushwood and heavier fuel and building a fire. Over
the flames they arranged a stick, from which they hung a kettle filled
with water obtained by chopping a hole through the ice of the river.

“Now, when the water boils, we can have some coffee,” said Roger, who
was getting out the tin cups. “And we can roast those potatoes while the
water boils,” he added.

“What about some rabbit pot-pie, or roast partridge?” asked Buster.

“Oh, let us take all the game back to the school!” exclaimed Ben. “Just
to show the fellows what we got, you know.”

“That’s the talk!” cried Gus. “If we don’t, maybe they won’t believe we
were so lucky.”

“Yes, let us take it all back,” chimed in Chip Macklin.

All but Buster were willing to keep the game. He heaved a deep sigh.

“All right, if we must,” he said mournfully. “But it makes my mouth
water, just the same!” And he eyed the plump rabbits and fat partridges

Inside of half an hour the lunch was under way. Around the roaring
campfire sat the students, some on convenient rocks and others on a
fallen tree that chanced to be handy. They had brought with them several
kinds of sandwiches, besides hard-boiled eggs, crackers, cheese, some
cake, and the coffee, with a small bottle of cream and some sugar. They
also had some potatoes for roasting, and though these got partly burned,
all declared them “fine” or “elegant,”—which shows what outdoor air will
do for one’s appetite.

They took their time, and during the meal Shadow was allowed to tell as
many stories as he pleased, much to his satisfaction. It was Dave who
was the first to get up.

“Might as well be moving,” he said, after consulting his watch. “We’ll
have to start on the return inside of two hours, and that won’t give us
much time for hunting.”

“Wait, I want just one more picture!” cried Sam, who had been busy
before with his camera. “Now all look as happy as if to-morrow were
Christmas!” And as the others grinned over the joke, click! went the
shutter of the box, and the picture was snapped.

“Now, Sam, let me take you, with a gun in one hand and the partridges in
the other!” cried Dave. “If it turns out well, we can have it enlarged
for our dormitory.” And a minute later another picture was added to the
roll of films.

“Why not leave the things here and come back for them?” suggested Roger.
“No use in toting the hamper and game everywhere.”

“We can hang the game in a tree,” added Ben.

All agreed to this, and so the hamper and the game were hung up on the
limbs of a near-by walnut tree along with their skates and some other
things. Then the fire was kicked out, so that it might not start a
conflagration in the woods, and the students prepared to continue their

“I guess we may as well tramp to the upper end of the island first,”
said Dave, in answer to a question from his companions. “Then, if we
have time, we can beat up one shore and then the other. By that time it
will be getting dark and time to turn back to the Hall.”

“Say, wait a minute!” cried Ben, suddenly.

“What’s wrong, Ben?” asked several.

“Why, I—er—I thought I saw somebody over in the woods yonder, looking at
us,” and the Crumville lad pointed to the trees in question. All gazed
steadily in the direction but saw nothing unusual.

“Maybe it was a rabbit, or a bear, or something like that,” suggested
Buster. “If it’s a bear we had better look out,” he added, nervously.

“We’ll soon find out,” said Dave. “Come on,” and he walked forward
toward the woods. But he found nothing and soon rejoined his companions.

“I must have been mistaken,” said Ben. “Come on, if we are to do any
hunting.” And off he stalked, and one by one the others followed.

Evidently the shots at the partridges had scared much of the game away,
for at the upper end of the island they started up nothing but two
squirrels and a few wild pigeons. Then they came down the north shore
and there bagged two rabbits. They also saw a wild turkey, but it got
away before anybody could take aim at it.

“See, it has started to snow!” cried the senator’s son, presently, and
he was right. At first the flakes were few, but inside of five minutes
it was snowing steadily.

“We may as well start for the Hall,” said Dave. “This storm looks as if
it might last for some time.”

They left the shore and soon reached the edge of the island. By this
time the snowflakes were coming down so thickly that the boys could see
but little around them. The sky was now growing quite dark.

“I don’t like this,” was Phil’s comment. “We’ll have no fun of it
getting back to school, especially if the snow gets so deep that we
can’t skate on the ice.”

“Say, this puts me in mind of a story,” commenced Shadow. “Once two boys
were caught in a storm and——”

“We haven’t any time for yarns now, Shadow!” cried Dave. “It’s back to
the camping place as fast as we can get there, and then off for school,
unless we want to be snowed in along the route!”

All started across the island, which, at that point, was not over
seventy-five yards wide. They came out at a spot just above where they
had stopped for lunch. Soon all of them stood close to where lay the
remains of the campfire, now covered with the fast-falling snow.

“Hello! What does this mean?”

“Where is the hamper?”

“Where is the game?”

“What has become of the skates?”

“Where is that overcoat I left on the tree?”

These and several other questions were asked in rapid succession. Then
the Oak Hall students looked at each other in blank dismay.

And not without good reason. For everything left at the camping spot
when they had continued the hunt—game, hamper, skates, an overcoat, a
sweater, and some other things of lesser importance—all had disappeared!


“What do you make of this, Dave?”

“I don’t know what to make of it, Roger—excepting that somebody has
taken our things.”

“Do you think it’s a joke, or just plain stealing?” demanded Ben.

“That remains to be found out,” replied Ben. “One thing is certain, the
things didn’t walk off by themselves.”

“Footprints of two persons!” exclaimed Gus, who had been scanning the
snow-covered ground in the vicinity of the trees and bushes.

“Where do they lead to?” asked Dave, eagerly.

“Here they are—you can follow them as easily as I can,” was the reply,
and the heavy-set youth pointed out the tracks in the snow. They led all
around the trees and bushes and then in the direction of the river. Here
there were a jumble of tracks and further on the marks of skate runners.

“Stopped to put on their skates,” remarked the senator’s son.

“And they have skated off with all our things!” grumbled Buster Beggs.
“What are we going to do?”

“Say, that puts me in mind of a story,” came quickly from Shadow. “Once
two boys were out skating and——”

“For the sake of the mummies of Egypt, let up on the story-telling,
Shadow!” burst out Phil. “Don’t you realize what this loss means to us?
It’s bad enough to lose the hamper and clothing, but what are we to do
in this snowstorm, with night coming on, and so far from Oak Hall
without skates?”

“Humph! I guess we’ll have to walk,” grumbled the story-teller of the
school. “But that will take time, and if this storm keeps up——”

“We’ll be snowed under!” finished Chip Macklin.

“Well, no use in staying here,” came from two of the students.

“That is just what I say,” said Dave. “Those skate marks lead down the
river and that is the way we want to go. By following them we’ll be
getting nearer to the Hall and at the same time closer to the fellows
who took our things.”

“We’ll never catch those fellows,” grumbled Ben. “They can skate five
times as fast as we can walk.”

“Never mind, we’ll go after ’em anyway,” replied Gus. “And if we catch
’em——” He did not finish in words but brought his right fist down hard
into his left palm, which left no doubt as to how he intended to treat
the thieves.

“Maybe it’s a trick, of some of the Rockville cadets,” suggested Buster,
when the crowd were on their way down the river.

“Say, don’t you remember my saying I thought I saw somebody near the
camp, just before we went away?” burst out Ben. “You all thought I was

“Well, I reckon you were not mistaken,” answered Dave. “It’s a great
pity we didn’t investigate more before leaving.”

“No use in crying over spilt milk,” said Sam.

“Which puts me in mind of a sto——” commenced Shadow, and then suddenly
stopped talking and commenced to whistle to himself.

“Say, boys, if anybody should ask you, you can tell him it is snowing
some,” puffed Buster, who was struggling to keep up with those in front.
“If it wasn’t that we were on the river, it would be easy to lose our

“That’s true,” replied Dave. “The snow seems to be coming down heavier
every minute.”

“Yes, and the wind is coming up,” added Roger. “We’ll have a hard time
of it reaching the Hall. We’ll never do it by supper-time.”

“Then where are we going to get something to eat?” demanded Buster. “I’m
not going without my supper just because I can’t get back.”

“Perhaps we can get something at some farmhouse,” suggested Phil.

“I’ve got an idea!” cried Dave. “Why can’t we get some farmer to hook up
a carriage or a sleigh and take us to the Hall that way?”

“Hurrah, just the cheese!” cried Ben, who did not relish walking such a
distance. “The thing is, though, to find the farmer,” he continued

“Keep your eyes open for lights,” suggested Dave, and this was done.

A quarter of a mile more was covered, the students hugging the north
shore of the stream, as that afforded the most shelter from the rising
wind. Then Roger gave a cry.

“I think I saw a light through the snow! Just look that way, fellows,
and see if I am right.”

All gazed in the direction indicated, and presently three of the boys
made out a glimmer, as if it came from a lantern being swung to and fro.
Then the light disappeared.

“Perhaps it’s some farmer going out to care for his cattle,” said Dave.
“Let us walk over and see,” and this was done.

Dave was correct in his surmise, and soon the boys approached a big
cow-shed, through a window of which they saw the faint rays of a
lantern. Just as they did this they heard a voice cry out in wonder.

“What be you fellers a-doin’ in my cow-shed?”

“Oh, we just came in to rest out of the storm,” was the answer, in a
voice that sounded strangely familiar to Dave. “We are not going to hurt
your shed any, or the cattle either.”

“It’s Mallory, of Rockville!” whispered Dave to his fellow students,
naming the cadet who was the star hockey player of the military academy

“And Bazen and Holt are with him,” added Phil, gazing through a
partly-open doorway, and naming two other Rockville cadets.

“Hello, who’s out there?” cried the owner of the cow-shed, and, lantern
in hand, he turned to survey the newcomers.

“Why, it’s Mr. Opper!” cried Sam. “Don’t you remember me? I called last
summer, to see some of your young lady boarders.”

“Oh, yes, I remember you,” replied Homer Opper. “You hired my dappled
mare for a ride.”

“That’s it, Mr. Opper. Say, that mare could go.”

“Go? Ain’t no hossflesh in these parts kin beat her,” cried the farmer
proudly. “She won the prize at the last county fair, she did! But wot
brung ye here, sech a night as this?” added Homer Opper curiously.

“Hello, Porter, old man!” cried Mallory, rising from a box on which he
had been seated and shaking hands. “Caught in the storm, too, eh?”

“Yes,” answered Dave. He gazed curiously at the Rockville cadet and his
companions. “Been up the river?”

“Not any further than this.”


“No, skating. We would be going back, only Holt broke one of his skates
and that delayed us. Been out hunting, eh? Any luck?”

“Some—good and bad. We shot some rabbits, squirrels, and partridges, and
we likewise had our hamper, our skates, an overcoat, and some other
things stolen.”

“Stolen!” cried Homer Opper. “By gum, thet’s tough luck! Who tuk the

“That is what we want to find out,” and as Dave spoke he looked sharply
at Mallory and the other Rockville cadets.

“Not guilty,” came promptly from Bazen. “Honest Injun, Porter, if you
think we touched your things, you are on the wrong track; isn’t that so,

“It is,” came promptly from Mallory and Holt. Then suddenly the star
hockey player of Rockville Academy let out a long, low whistle of

“You know something?” demanded Dave.

“Maybe I do,” was Mallory’s slow answer. “Yes, I am sure I do,” he
added. “You can put the puzzle together yourself if you wish,
Porter—because, you see, I hate to accuse anybody.”

“What do you know?”

“I know this: Less than an hour ago we met two fellows on the river, one
with a hamper and the other with a bundle that looked as if it was done
up in an overcoat turned inside out. We came on the fellows rather
suddenly, at a turn where there were some bushes.”

“Our stuff, as sure as you’re a foot high!” cried Phil.

“Who were the fellows, do you know?” demanded the senator’s son.

At this question Mallory looked at Holt and Bazen.

“I wasn’t exactly sure, but——” He hesitated to go on.

“I was sure enough,” chimed in Holt. “They were those chaps who came to
our school from Oak Hall and then ran away—Jasniff and Merwell. How
about it, Tom?”

“I think they were Jasniff and Merwell,” answered Tom Bazen. “To be
sure, as soon as they saw us, they skated away as fast as they could,
and kept their faces hidden. But if they weren’t Jasniff and Merwell
they were pretty good doubles.”

“Jasniff and Merwell,” murmured Dave, and his heart sank a little. Here
was more underhanded work of his old enemies.

The farmer and the Rockville cadets were anxious to hear the particulars
of the happening, and the Oak Hall lads told of what had occurred.

“I know those chaps,” said Homer Opper. “They stayed here one night last
summer. But they cut up so the boarders didn’t like it, so my wife told
’em she didn’t have no room for ’em, an’ they left. They ought to be
locked up.”

“They will be locked up, if we can lay hands on them,” replied Phil.

“They must have followed us to Squirrel Island, and spied on us,” said
Shadow. “Ben, you were right about seeing somebody. It must have been
either Merwell or Jasniff.”

“Have you any idea where they went?” asked the shipowner’s son.

“No, they skated away behind an island and that’s the last we saw of
them,” answered Mallory.

“Yes, and I reckon it’s the last we’ll hear of our things,” returned
Buster, mournfully. “But come on, let us see about getting back,” he
continued. “It’s ‘most time for supper now.”

“Mr. Opper, can you take us back to Oak Hall?” asked Dave. “We’ll pay
you for your trouble.”

The farmer looked at the students and rubbed his chin reflectively. Then
he gazed out at the storm and the snow-covered ground.

“Might hook up my big sleigh and do it,” he said. “But it would be quite
a job.”

“What would it be worth?” asked Ben.

“Oh, I dunno—three or four dollars, at least. It’s a tough night to be
out in—an’ I’d have to drive back, or put up at the town all night.”

“Supposing we gave you fifty cents apiece,” suggested Roger.

“And we’ll go along—as far as Rockville, at the same price—if you’ll
have us,” added Mallory, quickly.

“Why, yes, Mallory, and welcome,” answered Dave cordially. “That is, if
the turnout will hold us all.”

“Sure it will,” answered Homer Opper. “An’ if ye all go an’ pay fifty
cents each,”—he counted them mentally as he spoke—“I’ll hook up my four
hosses an’ git ye there in jig time.”

“Then it’s a go,” answered Dave, after his chums and the Rockville
cadets had nodded their approval.

“And do hurry,” called out Buster, as the farmer moved away to prepare
for the journey. “We don’t want to miss our suppers.”

“Ye ain’t goin’ to miss nuthin’,” called the farmer.

Inside of fifteen minutes he came around to the cow-shed with a big, low
sleigh, to which were attached four fine-looking horses. The sleigh
contained two lanterns and a quantity of wraps and robes.

“Don’t want ye to catch cold, when we’re a-drivin’ fast,” chuckled Homer
Opper. “Now pile right in, an’ we’ll be movin’.”

The boys needed no second invitation, and soon all were aboard—Dave and
Roger on the front seat with the driver and the others behind, including
the Rockville cadets. Then came a crack of the whip, and away through
the swirling snow moved the big sleigh, bound for the two schools.


“Where in the world have you boys been? Why didn’t you come back in time
for supper? Don’t you know it is against the rules to stay away like

Thus it was that Job Haskers, the second assistant teacher of Oak Hall,
greeted Dave and his chums as they came in, after leaving the big sleigh
and settling with Homer Opper.

“We are sorry that we couldn’t get here before, Mr. Haskers,” answered
Dave. “But something unusual happened and we were delayed.”

“I’ll not accept any excuses!” snapped the teacher, who had not
forgotten how the boys had hurried away without listening to his call
from the window. “I think I’ll send you to bed supperless. It is no more
than you deserve.”

“Supperless!” gasped Buster, in dismay. “Oh, Mr. Haskers, we don’t
deserve such treatment, really we don’t!”

“We have been robbed—that is what delayed us,” declared Phil. “I guess
we had better report to Doctor Clay, or Mr. Dale,” he went on,

“You can report to me,” answered Job Haskers, with increased severity.
“There is no need to bother the doctor, and Mr. Dale has gone away for
over Sunday.”

“Well, boys, back again!” cried a cheery voice from an upper landing,
and then Doctor Clay came down, wearing his gown and slippers. “A wild
storm to be out in. I am glad you got back safely.”

“They are late—and you said you gave them no permission to be out after
hours,” said Job Haskers, tartly.

“Hum! Did I?” mused the kindly head of the school. “Well, when it storms
like this it, of course, makes some difference.”

“We would have been back in time only we were robbed of our skates and
some other things,” answered Dave. “We had to walk a long distance
through the storm, and we’d not be here yet if we hadn’t managed to hire
a farmer to bring us in his sleigh.”

“Robbed!” echoed Doctor Clay, catching at the word. “How was that?” And
he listened with keen interest to what the boys had to tell. Even Job
Haskers became curious, and said no more about penalizing them for being

“And you are sure the fellows were Merwell and Jasniff?” asked the
assistant teacher.

“All I know on that point is what Mallory and his chums had to say,”
answered Dave.

“I think it would be like that pair to follow you up,” said Doctor Clay,
with a grave shake of his head. “They are two very bad boys,—worse,
Porter, than you can imagine,” and he looked knowingly at Job Haskers as
he spoke. “Now go in to supper, and after that, you, Porter, Morr, and
Lawrence, may come to my study and talk the matter over further.”

Wondering what else had happened to upset the head of the school, Dave
followed his chums to the dining-hall. Here a late supper awaited the
crowd, to which, it is perhaps needless to state, all did full justice.

“Do you think we can track Jasniff and Merwell?” asked the senator’s
son, during the course of the repast.

“I don’t,” answered Dave frankly. “For they will do their best to keep
out of our way.”

A little later found Dave, Phil, and Roger in the doctor’s private
study, a sort of library connected with his regular office. The head of
Oak Hall was reading a German historical work, but laid the volume down
as they filed in.

“Sit down, boys,” said Doctor Clay, pleasantly, and when they were
seated, he added: “Now kindly tell me all you know about Merwell and

“Do you want to know everything, Doctor?” asked Dave, in some surprise.

“Yes,—and later on, I’ll tell you why.”

“All right,” answered the youth from Crumville, and he told of the many
things that had happened, both at the school and at home—not forgetting
about the auto ride in which Laura and Jessie were supposed to have

“It all fits in!” cried Doctor Clay, drawing a deep sigh. He tapped the
table with the tips of his fingers. “I wonder where it will end?” he
mused, half to himself.

“You said that Merwell and Jasniff were worse than we imagined,”
suggested Dave, to draw the doctor out.

“So I did, Porter. I will tell you boys something, but please do not let
it go any further. Since Jasniff and Merwell became pupils at Rockville
Military Academy and since they ran away from that institution they have
been doing everything they could think of to annoy me. They have sent
farmers here with produce that I never ordered, and have had publishers
send me schoolbooks that I did not want. Worse than that, they have
circulated reports to my scholars’ parents that this school was running
down, that it was in debt, and that some pupils were getting sick
because the sewerage system was out of order. Some of the parents have
written to me, and two were on the point of taking their boys away,
thinking the reports were true. Fortunately I was able to prove the
reports false, and the boys remained here. But I do not know how far
these slanders are being circulated and what the effect will be in the

“And you are sure they come from Merwell and Jasniff?” questioned Phil.

“I am sure at least one letter was written by Merwell, and one farmer
who brought a load of cabbages here said they were ordered by two young
men who looked like Merwell and Jasniff.”

“Oh, nobody else would do it!” cried Roger. “Merwell and Jasniff are
guilty, not the least doubt of it! The question is: How can we catch

“Yes, that is the question,” said Doctor Clay. “I have notified the
local authorities to be on the watch for them, and now I think I shall
hire a private detective.”

“Do it, Doctor,” said Dave eagerly. “I will pay half the expense. I know
that my father will approve of such a course.” And so the matter rested.
The private detective came to Oak Hall two days later, and after
interviewing the doctor and the boys, said he would do his best to run
down Link Merwell and Nick Jasniff.

It snowed hard for a day and a night and when it cleared off the boys
had considerable fun snowballing each other and in coasting down a long
hill leading to the river. Pop Swingly, the janitor, came in for his
full share of the snow-balling and so did Jackson Lemond, usually called
Horsehair, the Hall carryall driver. Horsehair was caught coming from
the barn, and half a dozen snowballs hit him at the same time.

“Hi, you, stop!” he spluttered, as one snowball took him in the chin and
another in the ear. “Want to smother me? Let up, I say!” And he tried to
run away.

“These are early Christmas presents, Horsehair!” sang out Ben, merrily,
and let the driver have another, this time in the cap.

“And something to remember us by, when we are gone,” added Gus, hitting
him in the arm. Then the driver escaped. He felt sore, and vowed he
would square up.

“Maybe he’ll report us,” said Ben, after the excitement was over.

“Not he,” declared Gus. “He’s not that kind. But he’ll lay for us,—just
you wait and see.” And Gus was right. About half an hour later he and
Ben were told that somebody wanted to see them at the boathouse. They
started for the building, walking past the gymnasium, and as they did
so, down on their heads came a perfect avalanche of snow, sent from the
sloping roof above. When they clawed their way out of the mass and
looked up they saw Horsehair standing on the roof, snow-shovel in hand,
grinning at them.

“Thought I’d give ye some more snow fer snowballs,” he chuckled. “Here
ye are!” And down came another avalanche, sending the boys flat a second
time. When they scrambled up they ran off with all speed, the merry
laughter of the carryall driver ringing in their ears.

At last came the final session of the school, with the usual exercises,
in which Dave and his chums participated. Nearly all of the boys were
going home for the holidays, including Dave, Phil, Roger, and Ben. Dave
and Ben were, of course, going direct to Crumville, and it was arranged
that Phil and the senator’s son should come there later, to visit our
hero and his family and the Wadsworths. Nat Poole was also going home,
and would be on the same train with Dave and Ben.

“I wish he wasn’t going with us,” said Ben. “I’m getting so I can’t bear
Nat at all.”

“Well, he isn’t quite as bad as he was when he chummed with Merwell and
Jasniff,” answered our hero. “I think their badness rather scared Nat.
He is mean and all that, but he isn’t a criminal.”

“Well, I think some meanness is a crime,” retorted Ben.

The boys had purchased gifts for Doctor Clay, Mr. Dale, and some of the
others, and even Job Haskers had been remembered. Some of the students
had wanted to ignore the tyrannical teacher, but Dave and his chums had
voted down this proposition.

“Let us treat them all alike,” said Dave. “Perhaps Mr. Haskers thinks he
is doing right.”

“Yes, and if we leave him out in the cold he may be more hard-hearted
than ever,” added Gus, with a certain amount of worldly wisdom.

Dave carried a suit-case and also a big bundle, the latter filled with
Christmas presents for the folks at home. Ben was similarly loaded down,
and so were the others.

“Good-by, everybody!” cried our hero, as he entered the carryall sleigh.
“Take good care of the school until we come back!”

“Good-by!” was the answer. “Don’t eat too much turkey while you are
gone!” And then, as the sleigh rolled away from the school grounds, the
lads to leave commenced to sing the favorite school song, sung to the
tune of “Auld Lang Syne”:

  “Oak Hall we never shall forget,
    No matter where we roam;
  It is the very best of schools,
    To us it’s just like home!
  Then give three cheers, and let them ring
    Throughout this world so wide,
  To let the people know that we
    Elect to here abide!”

“That’s the stuff!” cried Roger, and then commenced to toot loudly on a
tin horn he carried, and many others made a din.

At the depot the boys had to wait a little while. But presently the
train came along and they got aboard. Dave and Ben found a seat near the
middle of the car and Nat Poole sat close by them. He acted as if he
wanted to talk, but the others gave him little encouragement.

“Nat has something on his mind, I’ll wager a cookie,” whispered Ben to

“Well, if he has, he need not bother us with it,” was Dave’s reply. “I
am done with him—I told him that some time ago.”

The train rolled on and when near the Junction, where the boys had to
change to the main line, a couple in front of Ben and Dave got up,
leaving the seat vacant. At once Nat Poole took the seat, at first,
however, turning it over, so that he might face the other Oak Hall

“I want to talk to you, Dave Porter,” he said, in a low and somewhat
ugly voice. “I want you to give an account of yourself.”

“Give an account of myself?” queried Dave, in some astonishment, for he
had not expected such an opening from Nat. “What do you mean?”

“You know well enough what I mean,” cried the other boy, and now it was
plainly to be seen that his anger was rising. “You can blacken your own
character all you please but I won’t have you blackening mine! If you
don’t confess to what you’ve done, and straighten matters out, as soon
as we get to Crumville, I am going to ask my father to have you


Both Dave and Ben stared in astonishment at the son of the money-lender
of Crumville. Nat was highly indignant, but the reason for this was a
complete mystery to the other lads.

“Blacken your character?” repeated Dave. “Nat, what are you talking

“You know well enough.”

“I do not.”

“And I say you do!” blustered the bully. “You can’t crawl out of it.
I’ve followed the thing up and I’ve got the evidence against you, and
against Roger Morr, too. I was going to speak to Doctor Clay about it,
but I know he’d side with you and smooth it over—he always does. But if
I tell my father, you’ll find you have a different man to deal with!”

Nat spoke in a high-pitched voice that drew the attention of half a
dozen men and women in the car. Ben was greatly annoyed.

“Say, Nat, don’t make a public exhibition of yourself,” he said, in a
low tone. “If you’ve got anything against Dave, why don’t you wait until
we are alone?”

“I don’t have to wait,” answered Nat, as loudly as ever. “I am going to
settle this thing right now.”

Fortunately the train rolled up to the Junction depot at this moment and
everybody, including the boys, left the car. Several gazed curiously at
Dave and Nat, and, seeing this, Ben led the others to the end of the
platform. Here there was a freight room, just then deserted.

“Come on in here, and then, Nat, you can spout all you please,” said

“You ain’t going to catch me in a corner!” cried the bully, in some

“It isn’t that, Nat. I don’t want you to make a fool of yourself in
front of the whole crowd. See how everybody is staring at you.”

“Humph! Let them stare,” muttered the bully; yet he followed Ben and
Dave into the freight room, and Ben stood at the doorway, so that no
outsiders might come in. One boy tried to get in, thinking possibly to
see a fight, but Ben told him to “fly on, son,” and the lad promptly

“Now then, Nat, tell me what you are driving at,” said Dave, as calmly
as he could, for he saw that the money-lender’s son was growing more
enraged every minute.

“I don’t have to tell you, Dave Porter; you know all about it.”

“I tell you I don’t—I haven’t the least idea what you are driving at.”

“Maybe you’ll deny that you were at Leesburgh last week.”


“Yes, Leesburgh, at Sampson’s Hotel, and at the Arcade moving-picture
and vaudeville show,” and as he uttered the words Nat fairly glared into
the face of our hero.

“I haven’t been near Leesburgh for several months—not since a crowd of
us went there to a football game.”

“Humph! You expect me to believe that?”

“Believe it or not, it is true.”

“You can’t pull the wool over my eyes, Dave Porter! I know you were at
Leesburgh last week Wednesday, you and Roger Morr. And I know you went
to Sampson’s Hotel and registered in my name and then cut up like a
rowdy there, in the pool-room, and got thrown out, and I know you and
Roger Morr went to the Arcade and made a fuss there, and got thrown out
again, but not until you had given my name and the name of Gus Plum. Gus
may forgive you for it, and think it only a joke. But I’ll not do it, I
can tell you that! You have got to write a letter to the owner of that
hotel and to the theater manager and explain things, and you and Roger
Morr have got to beg my pardon. And if you don’t, as I said before, I’ll
tell my father and get him to have you arrested.” And now Nat was so
excited he moved from one foot to the other and shook his fist in the

To the bully’s surprise Dave did not get excited. On the contrary, our
hero’s face showed something that was akin to a faint smile. Ben saw it
and wondered at it.

“Say, you needn’t laugh at me!” howled Nat, noting the look. “Before I
get through with you, you’ll find it no laughing matter.”

“I am not laughing at you, Nat.”

“Well, do you admit that what I’ve said is true?”

“No; on the contrary, I say it is false, every word of it. Did you say
this happened last Wednesday?”

“I did.”

“Both Roger Morr and I were at the school all day Wednesday. During the
day I attended all my classes, and after school I went to my room, along
with Polly Vane, Luke Watson, and Sam Day, and the three of us wrote on
the essays we had to hand in Thursday. After supper we went down to the
gym for about half an hour, and then went back to our dormitory. And,
come to think of it, you saw us there,” added Dave suddenly.

“I saw you?”

“You certainly did. You came to the door and asked Luke Watson for a
Latin book; don’t you remember? Luke got it out of his bureau. We were
all at the big table. Sam Day flipped a button at you and it hit you in
the chin.”

At these unexpected words the face of the money-lender’s son fell.

“Was that—er—was that Wednesday?” he faltered.

“It certainly was, for we had to hand the essays in Thursday and we were
all working like beavers on them.”

“Nat, what Dave says is absolutely true—I know he wasn’t near Leesburgh
last week, for I was with him every day and every evening,” said Ben.

“But I got the word from some fellows in Leesburgh. They followed you
from the hotel to the show and talked to you afterwards, and they said
you told them your name was Porter, and the other chap said his name was
Morr. They said you gave the names of Poole and Plum just to keep your
real identity hidden.”

“Well, I am not guilty, Nat; I give you my word of honor on it.”

“But—but—if you aren’t guilty how is it those fellows got your name and
that of Morr?” asked the money-lender’s son, not knowing what else to

“I think I can explain it, Nat. The same fellows who did that are
annoying me in other ways. But I’ll not explain unless you will give me
your word of honor to keep it a secret, at least for the present.”

“A secret, why?”

“Because I don’t want the thing talked about in public. The more you
talk about such things the worse off you are. Let me tell you that I
have suffered more than you have, and other folks have suffered too.”

“Do you mean to say that some other fellows did this and gave my name
and Plum’s first and yours and Morr’s afterwards?” asked Nat, curiously.



“For a twofold reason; first to blacken your character and that of Plum,
and, secondly, to cause trouble between all of us.”

“What fellows would be mean enough to do that?”

“Two fellows who used to be your friends, but who have had to run away,
to keep from being arrested.”

“Say, you don’t mean Link Merwell and Nick Jasniff!” burst out the
money-lender’s son.

“Those are the chaps I do mean, Nat.”

“But I thought they had left these parts. They were in Crumville, I
know,” and now the bully looked knowingly at our hero.

“You have heard the reports from home then?” asked Dave, and he felt his
face burn.


“Nat, those reports are all false—as false as this report of your doings
at Leesburgh. They are gotten up by Jasniff and Merwell solely to injure
my friends and my family and me. My sister and Jessie Wadsworth would
refuse to even recognize those fellows, much less go auto-riding with
them. Let me tell you something.” And in as few words as possible our
hero related how things had been sent to him and his friends without
being ordered by them, and of the other trouble Jasniff and Merwell were
causing. The money-lender’s son was incredulous at first, but gradually
his face relaxed.

“And is all that really so?” he asked, at last.

“Every word is absolutely true,” answered Dave.

“Then Nick and Link ought to be in jail!” burst out Nat. “It’s an
outrage to let them do such things. Why don’t you have ’em locked
up—that is what I’d do!”

“We’ve got to catch them first.”

“Do you mean to say you are trying to do that?”

“We are.”

“Well, you catch ’em, and if you want me to appear against ’em, I’ll do
it—and I’ll catch ’em myself if I can.”

There was a pause, and Nat started for the doorway of the freight room.
But Ben still barred the way.

“Nat, don’t you think you were rather hasty in accusing Dave?” he asked,

“Well—er—maybe I was,” answered the money-lender’s son, growing a bit

“Oh, let it pass,” said Dave. “I might have been worked up myself, if I
had been in Nat’s place.”

“Here comes the train—we don’t want to miss it,” cried the
money-lender’s son, and he showed that he was glad to close the
interview. “Remember, if you catch those fellows, I’ll testify against
’em!” he called over his shoulder as he pushed through the doorway.

“The same old Nat, never willing to acknowledge himself in the wrong,”
was Ben’s comment, as he and Dave ran for the car steps. The other boy
had lost himself in the waiting crowd and got into another car, and they
did not see him again until Crumville was reached, and even then he did
not speak to them.

The snow was coming down lightly when Dave and Ben alighted, baggage and
bundles in hand, for they had not risked checking anything in such a
crowd. Ben’s father was on hand to greet him, and close at hand stood
the Wadsworth family sleigh, with Laura and Jessie on the rear seat. The
driver came to take the suit-case and Dave’s bundle, grinning a welcome
as he did so.

“There’s Dave!” cried Jessie, as soon as he appeared. “Isn’t he growing
tall!” she added.

“Yes,” answered the sister. “Dave!” she called.

“Here we are again!” he cried with a bright smile, and shook hands. “I
brought you a snowstorm for a change.”

“I like snow for Christmas,” answered Jessie. She was blushing, for Dave
had given her hand an extra tight squeeze.

“How are the folks?”

“All very well,” answered Laura. “What have you in that big bundle?”

“Oh, that’s a secret, sis,” he returned.

“Christmas presents!” cried the sister. “Jessie, let us open the bundle
right away.” And she made a playful reach for it.

“Not to-day—that belongs to Santa Claus!” cried the brother, holding the
bundle out of reach. “My, but this town looks good to me!” he added, as
he looked around and waved his hand to Mr. Basswood. Then Ben took a
moment to run up and greet the girls.

“You must come over, Ben,” said Laura.

“Why, yes, by all means,” added Jessie, and Ben said he would. Then he
rejoined his father, and Dave got into the sleigh, being careful to keep
his big bundle on his lap, where the girls could not “poke a hole into
it to peek,” as he put it. There was a flourish of the whip, and the
elegant turnout, with its well-matched black horses, started in the
direction of the Wadsworth mansion.


As my old readers know, the Wadsworth family and the Porters all lived
together, for when Dave found his folks and brought them to Crumville,
the rich jewelry manufacturer and his wife could not bear to think of
separating from the boy who had saved their daughter from being burned
to death. They loved Dave almost as a son, and it was their proposal
that the Porters make the big mansion their home. As Dave’s father was a
widower and his brother Dunston was a bachelor, they readily agreed to
this, provided they were allowed to share the expenses. With the two
families was old Caspar Potts, who spent most of his time in the
library, cataloguing the books, keeping track of the magazines, and
writing a volume on South American history.

With a merry jingling of the bells, the family sleigh drove into the
spacious grounds. As it rounded the driveway and came to a halt at the
front piazza the door opened and Dave’s father came out, followed by
Dunston Porter.

“Hello, Dad!” cried the son, joyously, and made a flying leap from the
sleigh. “How are you?” And then he shook hands with his parent and with
his uncle—that same uncle whom he so strongly resembled,—a resemblance
that had been the means of bringing the pair together.

“Dave, my son!” said Mr. Porter, as he smiled a welcome.

“Getting bigger every day, Davy!” was Uncle Dunston’s comment. “Before
you know it, you’ll be taller than I am!” And he gave his nephew a
hand-clasp that made Dave wince.

“Oh, he’s getting awfully tall, I said so as soon as I saw him,”
remarked Jessie, as she, too, alighted, followed by Laura. By this time
Dave was in the hallway, giving Mrs. Wadsworth a big hug and a kiss.
When he had first known her, Dave had been a little afraid of Mrs.
Wadsworth, she was such a lady, but now this was past and he treated her
as she loved to be treated, just as if he were her son.

“Aren’t you glad I’ve returned to torment you?” he said, as he gave her
another squeeze.

“Very glad, Dave, very glad indeed!” she answered, beaming on him. “I
don’t mind the way you torment me in the least,” and then she hurried
off, to make sure that the dinner ordered in honor of Dave’s home-coming
should be properly served.

In the library doorway stood Caspar Potts, his hair now as white as
snow. He came forward and laid two trembling white hands in those of

“Dave, my boy Dave!” he murmured, and his watery eyes fairly glistened.

“Yes, Professor, your boy, always your boy!” answered Dave, readily, for
he loved the old instructor from the bottom of his heart. “And how is
the history getting on?”

“Fairly well, Dave. I have nine chapters finished.”

“Good! Some day, when it is finished, I’ll find a publisher for you; and
then you’ll be famous.”

“I don’t know about that, Dave. But I like to write on the book—and the
research work is very pleasant, especially in such pleasant
surroundings,” murmured the old gentleman.

Mr. Wadsworth was away at his office, but presently he came back, and
greeted Dave warmly, and asked about the school and his chums. Then, as
the girls went off to get ready for dinner, the men folks and Dave went
into the library.

“Have you heard anything more of those two young rascals, Merwell and
Jasniff?” questioned Mr. Porter.

“Yes, but not in the way I’d like,” answered Dave, and told of what Nat
Poole had had to say and of what had occurred at Squirrel Island. “Have
you heard anything here?” he added.

“Did the girls tell you anything?” asked his father.

“Not a word—they didn’t have a chance, for we didn’t want to talk before
Peter.” Peter was the driver of the sleigh.

“I see.” Mr. Porter mused for a moment and looked at Mr. Wadsworth.

“Those good-for-nothing boys have done a number of mean things,” said
the jewelry manufacturer. “They have circulated many reports, about you
and your family, and about me and my family. They must be very bitter,
to act in such a fashion. If I could catch them, I’d like to wring their
necks!” And Oliver Wadsworth showed his excitement by pacing up and down
the library.

“Did you get your affairs with the department stores fixed up?”

“Yes, but not without considerable trouble.”

“Have Jasniff and Merwell shown themselves in Crumville lately?”

“Yes, three days ago they followed your sister Laura and Jessie to a
church fair the girls attended. They acted in such a rude fashion that
both of the girls ran all the way home. All of us went out to look for
them, but we didn’t find them.”

“Oh, if I had only been at that fair!” murmured Dave.

“What could you have done against two of them?” asked his uncle.

“I don’t know, but I would have made it warm for them—and maybe handed
them over to the police.”

“I have cautioned the girls to be on their guard,” said David Porter.
“And you must be on your guard, Dave. It is not wise to take chances
with such fellows as Jasniff and Merwell.”

“I’ll keep my eyes open for them,” answered the son.

Dave ran up to his room, and put his big bundle away in a corner of the
clothing closet. Then he dressed for dinner. As he came out he met
Jessie, who stood on the landing with a white carnation in her hand.

“It’s for your buttonhole,” she said. “It’s the largest in the
conservatory.” And she adjusted it skillfully. He watched her in
silence, and when she had finished he caught her by both hands.

“Jessie, I’m so glad to be back—so glad to be with you again!” he half

“Are you really, Dave?” she returned, and her eyes were shining like

“You know I am; don’t you?” he pleaded.

“Yes,” she answered, in a low voice. And then, as Laura appeared, she
added hastily, but tenderly, “I’m glad, too!”

It was a large and happy gathering around the dining-room table, with
Mr. Wadsworth at the head, and Jessie on one side of Dave and Laura on
the other. Professor Potts asked the blessing, and then followed an hour
of good cheer. In honor of Dave’s home-coming the meal was an elaborate
one, and everybody enjoyed it thoroughly. As nobody wished to put a
damper on the occasion, nothing was said about their enemies. Dave told
some funny stories about Oak Hall happenings, and had the girls
shrieking with laughter, and Dunston Porter related a tale or two about
his travels, for he still loved to roam as of yore.

The next day—the day before Christmas—it snowed heavily. But the young
folks did not mind this and went out several times, to do the last of
their shopping. Late in the afternoon, Peter brought in some holly
wreaths and a little Christmas tree. The wreaths were placed in the
windows, each with a big bow of red ribbon attached, and the tree was
decorated with candies and candles and placed on the table in the

All the young folks had surprises for their parents and for Professor
Potts. There was a set of South American maps for the old professor, a
new rifle for Dunston Porter, a set of cyclopedias for Mr. Wadsworth, a
cane for Dave’s father, and a beautiful chocolate urn for the lady of
the house.

“Merry Christmas!” was the cry that went the rounds the next morning,
and then such a handshaking and such a gift-giving and receiving! Dave
had a new pocketbook for Laura, with her monogram in silver, and a
cardcase for Mrs. Wadsworth. For Jessie he had a string of pearls, and
numerous gifts for the others in the mansion. From Laura he received a
fine book on hunting and camping out, something he had long desired,
while Mrs. Wadsworth gave him some silk handkerchiefs. From his father
came a new suit-case, one with a traveler’s outfit included, and from
his uncle he received some pictures, to hang in his den. Mr. Wadsworth
gave him a beautiful stickpin, one he said had been made at his own

But the gift Dave prized most of all was a little locket that Jessie
gave him for his watchchain. It was of gold, set with tiny diamonds, and
his monogram was on the back. The locket opened and had a place in it
for two pictures.

“You must put Laura’s picture in there,” said Jessie, “Laura’s and your

“No, I have them already—in my watch case,” he answered, and then, as
nobody was near, he went on in a whisper, “I want your picture in this,

“Oh!” she murmured.

“Your picture on one side, and a lock of your hair on the other. Without
those I won’t consider the gift complete.”

“Oh, Dave, don’t be silly!”

“I’m not silly—I mean it, Jessie. You’ll give them to me, won’t you,
before I go back to Oak Hall?”

“Maybe. I’ll see how you behave!” was the answer, and then just as Dave
started to catch her by the arm, she ran away to join Laura. But she
threw him a smile from over her shoulder that meant a great deal to him.

In the afternoon, Ben came over, with his young lady cousin, and all the
young folks went sleigh-riding. The evening was spent at the Wadsworth
mansion in playing games and in singing favorite songs. Altogether it
was a Christmas to be long remembered.

During the fall Mr. Wadsworth had been busy, building an addition to his
jewelry works, and on the day after Christmas Dave went over to the
place with his uncle, to look around. The addition covered a plot nearly
a hundred feet square and was two stories high.

“It will give us a new office and several new departments,” said the
rich manufacturer, as he showed them around. “When everything is
finished I shall have one of the most up-to-date jewelry works in this
part of the country.”

“Are you going to move the old office furniture into this new place?”
asked Dave, noticing some old chairs and desks.

“For the present we’ll have to. The new furniture won’t be here until
early in January.”

“What about your safes?” asked Dave. He remembered the big but
old-fashioned safes that had adorned the old office.

“We are to have new ones in about sixty days. I wanted them at once, but
the safe company was too busy to rush the order. I wish now that I had
those safes,” went on the manufacturer, in a lower voice, so that even
the clerks near by might not hear.

“Why, anything unusual?” questioned Dunston Porter, curiously.

“I took that order to reset the Carwith diamonds, that’s all.”

“Oh, then you got it, didn’t you?” went on Dave’s uncle. “Were they
willing to pay the price?”

“I told them they would have to or I wouldn’t touch the job.”

“What do you suppose the diamonds are worth?”

“They were bought for sixty thousand dollars. At the present value of
such gems, I should say at least seventy-five thousand dollars.”

“Phew! And the settings are to cost eight thousand dollars. That makes a
pretty valuable lot of jewelry, I’m thinking,” was Dunston Porter’s

“You are right, and that is why I wish I had those new safes,” added
Oliver Wadsworth.

“Can’t you keep the diamonds in some safe deposit vault?”

“There is no very good safe deposit place in Crumville. Besides, I must
have the gems here, if my workmen are to set them properly. Of course,
I’ll keep them in the old safes when they are not in the workshop.”

“I should think you’d want a watchman around with such diamonds in the
place,” remarked Dave.

“I have a watchman—old Tony Wells, who is as honest as they make ’em.
But, Dave, I don’t want you to mention the diamonds to anybody. The fact
that I have this order is being kept a secret,” went on Mr. Wadsworth,

“I’ll not say a word to anybody,” answered our hero.

“Don’t do it—for I am anxious enough about the jewels as it is. I shall
be glad when the order is finished and the gems are out of my keeping. I
don’t want any outsider to know I have them.”


In the middle of the week came Phil and Roger, in the midst of another
snowstorm that was so heavy it threatened to stall the train in which
they arrived. Dave went to the station to meet them.

“Say, what do you think?” burst out Phil, while shaking hands.

“We saw Jasniff and Merwell!” finished the senator’s son.

“You did!” ejaculated Dave. “Where?”

“On our train. We walked through the cars at Melton, to see if we knew
anybody aboard, and there were the pair in the smoker, smoking
cigarettes, as big as life.”

“Did you speak to them?”

“Didn’t get the chance. The car was crowded, and before we could get to
Jasniff and Merwell they saw us, ran down the aisle the other way, and
got off.”

“Is that so? Evidently they must know we are on their track,” said Dave,
shaking his head gravely.

“I wish we could have collared ’em,” went on the shipowner’s son. “I’d
like to punch their heads.”

“Don’t do it, Phil. If you ever catch them, call an officer and have
them locked up. A thrashing is wasted on such rascals.”

“Do you know some more about them?” questioned Roger, quickly.

“I do.” And then Dave related what Nat Poole had had to say, and also
told about how Laura and Jessie had been scared when attending the
church fair.

“You are right, they ought to be locked up,” was Roger’s comment.

“By the way, did you hear the news from Oak Hall?” went on Phil, as they
drove off towards the Wadsworth mansion.

“What news?”

“Somehow or other, the storm lifted off two of the skylights from the
roof of the main building and the snow got in the garret and there the
heat from the chimney must have melted it, for it ran down—the water
did—through the floor and loosened the plaster in several of the
dormitories, including ours. I understand all of the plaster has got to
come down.”

“What a muss!”

“Yes, and it is going to take several weeks to fix it up—they couldn’t
get any masons right away.”

“Then where will we sleep when we go back?”

“I don’t know. I understand from Shadow that the doctor was thinking of
keeping the school closed until about the first of February.”

“Say, that will give us quite a holiday!” exclaimed Dave.

“For which all of us will be profoundly sorry,” responded Phil, making a
sober face and winking one eye.

The girls greeted the newcomers with sincere pleasure.

“What a pity Belle Endicott isn’t here,” sighed Laura.

“So it is,” answered Jessie. “We’ll have to do what we can to make up
for her absence.”

Two days later it cleared off, and the young folks enjoyed a long
sleigh-ride. Then they went skating, and on New Year’s Eve attended a
party given at Ben Basswood’s house. Besides our friends, Ben had
invited Sam Day and Buster Beggs, and also a number of girls; and all
enjoyed themselves hugely until after midnight. When the clock struck
twelve, the boys and girls went outside and tooted horns and rang a big
dinner-bell, and wished each other and everybody else “A Happy New

The celebration on the front piazza was at its height when suddenly came
a shower of snowballs from a near street corner. One snowball hit Dave
in the shoulder and another landed directly on Jessie’s neck, causing
the girl to cry out in mingled pain and alarm.

“Hi! who’s throwing snowballs!” exclaimed Roger, and then came another
volley, and he was hit, and also Laura and one of the other girls. At
once the girls fled into the house.

“Some rowdies, I suppose,” said Phil. “I’ve half a mind to go after

“We can’t without our hats and coats,” answered Dave.

Just then came another shower of snowballs and Dave was hit again. This
was too much for him, and despite the fact that he was bare-headed and
wore a fine party suit, he leaped down on the sidewalk and started for
the corner. Phil and Roger came after him. Ben rushed into the hallway,
to catch up two of his father’s canes and his chums’ hats, and then he

Those who had thrown the snowballs had not dreamed of being attacked,
and it was not until Dave was almost on them that they started to run.
There were three boys—two rather rough-looking characters. The third was
well dressed, in a fur cap and overcoat lined with fur.

“Nat Poole!” cried Dave, when he got close to the well-dressed youth.
“So this is your game, eh? Because Ben didn’t see fit to invite you to
his party, you think it smart to throw snowballs at the girls!”

As he spoke Dave ran closer and suddenly gave the money-lender’s son a
shove that sent him backwards in the snow.

“Hi, you let me alone!” burst out Nat, in alarm. “It ain’t fair to knock
me down!”

By this time Dave’s chums had reached the scene, and seeing Nat down
they gave their attention to the two others. They saw that they were
roughs who hung around the railroad station and the saloons of
Crumville. Without waiting, Ben threw a cane to Roger and sailed in, and
the senator’s son followed. Both of the roughs received several severe
blows and were then glad enough to slink away in the darkness.

When Nat got up he was thoroughly angry. He had hired the roughs to help
him and now they had deserted the cause. He glared at Dave.

“You let me alone, Dave Porter!” he cried.

“Not just yet, Nat,” replied our hero, and catching up a handful of
loose snow, he forced it down inside of the other’s collar. Then the
other lads pitched in, too, and soon Nat found himself down once more
and all but covered with snow, which got down his neck, in his ears and
nose, and even into his mouth.

“Now then, don’t you dare to throw snowballs at the girls again!” said
Dave sternly. “It was a cowardly thing to do, and you know it.”

“If you do it again, we’ll land on you ten times harder than we did just
now,” added Ben.

“And don’t you get any more of those roughs to take a hand,” continued
Dave. “If you do, they’ll find themselves in the lock-up, and you’ll be
there to keep them company.”

“You just wait!” muttered Nat, wrathfully. “I’ll fix you yet—you see if
I don’t!” And then he turned and hurried away, but not in the direction
his companions had taken. He wanted to escape them if possible, for he
had promised each a dollar for aiding him and he was now in no humor to
hand over the money. But at another corner the roughs caught up to him
and made him pay up, and this added to his disgust.

When Dave and the others got back to the house they were considerably
“roughed up,” as Roger expressed it. But they had vanquished the enemy
and were correspondingly happy. They found that the girls had not been
much hurt, for which everybody was thankful.

“Maybe they’ll lay for you when you go home,” whispered Ben to Dave,
when he got the chance.

“I don’t think they will,” answered Dave. “But we’ll be on our guard.”

“Why not take a cane or two with you?”

“We can do that.”

When it came time to go home the girls were somewhat timid, and Jessie
said she could telephone for the sleigh. But, as it was a bright, starry
night, the boys said they would rather walk, and Laura said the same.

In spite of their watchfulness, the boys were full of fun, and soon had
the girls laughing. And if, under those bright stars, Dave said some
rather sentimental things to Jessie, for whom he had such a tender
regard, who can blame him?

On the day following New Year’s came word from Oak Hall that the school
would not open for its next term until the first Monday in February.

“Say, that suits me down to the ground!” cried Phil.

“Well, I’m not shedding any tears,” answered Roger. “I know what I’d
like to do—take a trip somewhere.”

“I don’t know where you’d go in this winter weather,” said Dave.

“Oh, some warm climate—Bermuda, or some place like that.”

Another day slipped by, and Dave was asked by his father to go to one of
the near-by cities on an errand of importance. He had to go to a
lawyer’s office and to several banks, and the errand took all day. For
company he took Roger with him, and the boys did not get back to
Crumville until about eleven o’clock at night.

“Guess they thought we weren’t coming at all,” said Dave, when he found
no sleigh awaiting him. “Well, we can walk.”

“Of course we can walk,” answered the senator’s son. “I’ll be glad to
stretch my legs after such a long ride.”

“Let us take a short cut,” went on Dave, as they left the depot. “I know
a path that leads almost directly to our place.”

“All right, if the snow isn’t too deep, Dave.”

“It can’t be deep on the path, for many of the men who work at the
Wadsworth jewelry place use it. It runs right past the Wadsworth works.”

“Go ahead then.”

They took to the path, which led past the freight depot and then along a
high board fence. They turned a corner of the fence, and crossed a
vacant lot, and then came up to one corner of the jewelry works, at a
point where the new addition was located.

“Now, here we are at the works,” said Dave. “It’s not very much further
to the house.”

“Pretty quiet around here, this time of night,” remarked Roger, as he
paused to catch his breath, for they had been walking fast. “There
doesn’t seem to be a soul in sight.”

“There is usually a watchman around, old Tony Wells, an army veteran. I
suppose he is inside somewhere.”

“There’s his lantern!” cried the senator’s son, as a flash of light
shone from one of the windows. Hardly had he spoken when the light
disappeared, leaving the building as black as before.

“It must be a lonely job, guarding such a place,” said our hero, as he
and his chum resumed their walk. “But I suppose it suits Tony Wells, and
he is glad to get the money it brings in.”

“They must have a lot of valuable jewelry there, Dave.”

“Oh, yes, they have. But it is all locked up in the safes at night.”
Dave thought of the Carwith diamonds, but remembered his promise not to
mention them to anybody.

As the boys turned another corner they came face to face with a fat man,
who was struggling along through the snow carrying two heavy bundles.

“Hello!” cried Dave. “How are you, Mr. Rowell?”

“Bless me if it isn’t Dave Porter!” cried Amos Rowell, who was a local
druggist. “Out rather late, aren’t you?”


“So am I. Had to visit some sick folks and I’m carrying home some of
their washing. Goodnight!” and the druggist turned down one road and
Dave and Roger took the other.

Inside of five minutes more our hero and his chum were at the entrance
to the Wadsworth mansion. Just as they were mounting the steps, and Dave
was feeling in his pocket for his key, a strange rumble reached their

“What was that?” asked the senator’s son.

“I don’t know,” returned Dave, in some alarm. “It sounded to me as if it
came from the direction of the jewelry works!”


“The jewelry works?” repeated Roger.

“Yes. What did it sound like to you?”

“Why, like a blast of some kind. Maybe it was at the railroad.”

“They don’t work on the railroad at night—especially in this cold
weather, Roger. No, it was something else.”

Both boys halted on the piazza and listened. But not another sound out
of the ordinary reached their ears.

“Might as well go in—it’s getting pretty cold,” said the senator’s son.

Dave unlocked the door and they entered the mansion. A dim light was
burning in the hallway. While they were taking off their caps and coats
Dave’s father appeared at the head of the stairs.

“Got back safely, did you?” he questioned.

“Yes, dad; and everything in the city was all right,” answered the son.
“I’ll bring the package up to you.”

“Never mind—I’ll come down and put it in the safe,” answered Mr. Porter.
“By the way,” he went on, “what was that strange noise I just heard?”

“That is what we were wondering,” said Roger. “It sounded like a blast
of dynamite to me.”

“Maybe something blew up at the powder works at Fenwood,” suggested
Dave. The works in question were fifteen miles away.

“If it did, we’ll hear about it in the morning,” returned Mr. Porter, as
he took the package Dave gave him and disappeared into the library,
turning on the electric light as he did so.

The boys went upstairs and started to undress. Phil had been asleep, but
roused up at their entrance. The boys occupied a large chamber, with two
double beds in it, for they loved to be together, as at school.

“Listen to that!” cried Dave, as he was unlacing a shoe.

“It’s the telephone downstairs!” cried Phil. “My, but it’s ringing to
beat the band!” he added, as the bell continued to sound its call.

The boys heard Mr. Porter leave the library and go to the telephone,
which was on a table in an alcove. He took down the receiver.

“Yes! yes!” the boys heard him say. Then followed a pause. “You don’t
mean it! When, just now? Was that the noise we heard? Where did they go
to? Wait, I’ll call Mr. Wadsworth. What’s that? Hurry!” Then followed
another pause. “Cut off!” they heard Mr. Porter mutter.

“Something is wrong!” murmured Dave.

Mr. Porter came bounding up the stairs two steps at a time. Dave and the
other boys met him in the hallway.

“What is it, Dad?” asked the son.

“Robbers—at the jewelry works!” panted David Porter. “I must notify Mr.
Wadsworth!” And he ran to a near-by door and pounded on it.

“What is it?” came sleepily from the rich manufacturer. He had heard
nothing of the telephone call, being down deep in the covers because of
the cold.

“Mr. Wadsworth, get up, get up instantly!” cried Mr. Porter. “You are
wanted at the jewelry works. I just got something of a message from your
watchman. Some robbers have blown open your safes and they attacked the
man, but he got away long enough to telephone. But then they attacked
him again, while he was talking to me! We’ll have to get down there at

“Roger, did you hear that?” gasped Dave. “That’s the noise we heard!”

“Yes, and they attacked the watchman,” responded the senator’s son.

“I’m going back there,” went on Dave. “The others will have to stop and
dress. Maybe we can catch those rascals.”

“Yes, and save the watchman, Dave!”

By this time Mr. Wadsworth had appeared, in a bath-robe, and Dunston
Porter also showed himself. Dave slipped on his shoe again and fairly
threw himself into his coat, and Roger also rearranged his toilet.

“Wait—I’ll go with you!” cried Phil.

“Can’t wait, Phil—every second is precious!” answered our hero. “You can
follow with the men.”

“Take the gun, or a pistol—you may need it,” urged the shipowner’s son,
as he started to dress.

In a corner stood Dave’s double-barreled shotgun, loaded. He took it up.
Roger looked around the room, saw a baseball bat in another corner, and
took that. Then the boys ran out into the hallway, where the electric
lights were now turned on full. The whole house was in a hubbub.

“We are dressed and we’ll go right down to the works,” said Dave. “I
heard what father said, Mr. Wadsworth. We’ll help Tony Wells, if we
can.” And before anybody could stop him, he was out of the house, with
Roger at his heels.

“Be careful, Dave!” shouted his uncle after him. “Those robbers may be
desperate characters.”

“All right, Uncle Dunston, I’ll watch out.”

“If you chance to see a policeman, take him along. I’ll come as soon as
I can get some clothing on.”

Tired though they were, the two boys ran all the distance to the jewelry
works. When they got there they found everything as dark and as silent
as before. They had met nobody.

“How are you going to get in?” asked Roger, as they came to a halt
before the main door.

Dave tried the door, to find it locked. “Let us walk around. The thieves
may be in hiding somewhere,” he suggested.

They made the circuit of the works, once falling into a hole filled with
snow. Nothing unusual met their eyes, and each gazed questioningly at
the other.

“It can’t be a joke, can it?” suggested Roger. “Nat Poole might——”

“No, I’m sure it was no joke,” broke in our hero. “Wait, I’ll try that
little side-door. I think that is the one the watchman generally uses.”

He ran to the door in question and pushed upon it. It gave way, and with
caution he entered the building. All was so dark he could see absolutely

“I guess we’ll have to make a light,” he said, as his chum followed him.
“Wait till I see if I have some matches.”

“Here are some,” answered Roger. “Wait, I’ll strike a light. You keep
hold of that gun—and be ready to use it, if you have to!”

The senator’s son struck one of the matches and held it aloft. By its
faint rays the boys were able to see some distance into the workshop
into which the doorway opened. Only machines and work-benches met their
gaze. On a nail hung a lantern.

“We’ll light this,” said Dave, taking the lantern down. “You can carry
it, and I’ll keep the gun handy.”

With lantern and gun held out before them, and with their hearts beating
wildly, the two youths walked cautiously through the workshop. They had
to pass through two rooms before they reached the entrance to the
offices. The light cast curious shadows on the walls and the machinery,
and more than once the lads fancied they saw something moving. But each
alarm proved false.

“Why not call the watchman?” suggested Roger, just before entering the

They raised their voices and then raised them again. But no answer came

“Would he telephone from the office?” asked the senator’s son.

“I suppose so—although there is another ’phone in the shipping-room.”

The boys had now entered one of the new offices. Just beyond was the old
office, with the two old safes, standing side by side.

“Look!” cried Roger, in dismay.

There was no need to utter the cry, for Dave was himself staring at the
scene before him. The old office was in dire confusion, chairs and desks
being cast in various directions. All of the windows were broken out and
through these the chill night air was entering.

But what interested the boys most of all was the appearance of the two
old safes. The door to each had been blown asunder and lay in a twisted
mass on the floor. On top of the doors lay a number of boxes and drawers
that belonged in the safes. Mingling with the wreckage were pieces of
gold and silver plate, and also gold and silver knives, forks, and

“Here is where that explosion came from,” said Dave. “What a pity it
didn’t happen when we were in front of the works! We might have caught
the rascals red-handed!”

“Listen! I hear somebody now!” exclaimed Roger. “Maybe they are coming

“No, that is my father who is calling!” replied our hero. “I’ll let him

He ran to the office door, and finding a key in the lock, opened it.
Roger swung the lantern, and soon Dave’s father and his uncle came up,
followed by Mr. Wadsworth, who, being somewhat portly, could not run so
fast, and had to be assisted by Phil.

“What have they done?” gasped the manufacturer. “Tell me quickly! Did
they blow open the safes?” He was so agitated that he could scarcely

The boys did not reply, for there was no need. Mr. Wadsworth gave one
look and then sank down on a desk, too overcome to make another move.

“Did you see anything of the robbers, Dave?” asked his father.

“Not a thing.”

“And where is the watchman?”

“I don’t know.”

“Strange, he must be somewhere around. He told me of the robbery and
then he said that they were coming after him. Then the message was
suddenly cut off.”

“It looks like foul play to me,” said Dunston Porter, seriously. “We had
better light up and investigate thoroughly.”

He walked to a switchboard on the wall and began to experiment.
Presently the electric lights in the offices flashed up and then some of
those in the workshops were turned on.

By this time Oliver Wadsworth was in front of one of the shattered
safes. An inner door, somewhat bent, was swung shut. With trembling
fingers the manufacturer pulled the door open and felt into the
compartment beyond.

“Gone! gone!” the others heard him mutter hoarsely. “Gone!”

“What is it?” asked Mr. Porter.

“The casket—the Carwith casket is gone!” And Mr. Wadsworth looked ready
to faint as he spoke.

“Were the jewels in it?” questioned Mr. Porter.

“Yes! yes!”

“All of them?” queried Dave.

“Yes, every one. I placed them in the casket myself before we locked up
for the day.”

“Maybe the casket is on the floor, under the doors,” suggested Dave; but
he had little hope of such being the case.

All started a search, lasting for several minutes. But it was useless,
the casket with its precious jewelry had disappeared. Oliver Wadsworth
tottered to a chair that Phil placed for him and sank heavily upon it.


“Gone!” he muttered, in a strained voice. “Gone! And if I cannot recover
it, I shall be ruined!”


All in the offices listened with interest to Oliver Wadsworth’s words.

“The jewels were probably what the rascals were after,” was Mr. Porter’s
comment. “Evidently they did not touch any of the gold plate or

“That shows they must have known the jewels were here,” said Dunston

“Couldn’t they find out about them from the workmen?” questioned Dave.

“I suppose so—although it is a rule of the works for the men to keep
silent regarding precious stones. No one but myself and the general
manager are supposed to know just what we have on hand.”

“We must get busy and see if we cannot follow the robbers!” cried David
Porter. “No use in wasting time here now. Let us scatter in all
directions. One can go to the railroad station and the others to the
roads leading out of town. We may pick up some clew.”

“The police, we’ll have to notify them!” said Roger.

“Yes! yes! Call the police up on the telephone!” ejaculated Mr.
Wadsworth, starting to his feet.

Dave ran to the end of the office, where a telephone rested on a stand.
The shock of the explosion had severed the wires.

“It’s out of commission,” he said. “I’ll have to use the one in the

He left the offices, and made his way through two of the workrooms. Phil
went with him and so did Roger.

“This will be a terrible blow for Mr. Wadsworth,” was the comment of the
shipowner’s son.

“He said if he didn’t get the jewels back it would ruin him,” added

“Oh, we must get them back!” cried Dave. “Why, they are worth a

In the shipping-room all was dark, and the boys had to first light a
match and then turn on the electric illumination. The telephone was near

“Ruined!” cried our hero, as he beheld the wrenched-away receiver and

“Here is where they must have caught the watchman while he was
telephoning to Mr. Wadsworth!” said Phil.

“That must be it, Phil. We’ll have to go to the police station, or find
another telephone.”

The boys rushed back to the offices and told of what they had
discovered. Then Phil and Roger volunteered to run to the police
station, over a quarter of a mile away.

“If you’ll do that, I’ll go to the railroad station,” said Dave. “I may
be able to pick up some clew. The twelve-fifteen train is almost due and
those rascals may try to board it. If I see anybody that looks
suspicious, I’ll have him detained.”

“Don’t get into trouble!” called his father after him.

“I’ll try to take care of myself, Dad,” he answered.

Dave ran the whole distance to the depot. As he went along he kept his
eyes wide open for a possible appearance of the robbers, peering down
side-streets and alleyways, and into vacant lots. But he saw nobody
until close to the station and then he received a sudden hail from in
front of a coal office.

“Hi, you! Where are you going in such a hurry?” And a man in a dark blue
uniform stepped into view, night-stick in hand.

“Just the man I want to see!” cried our hero. “I guess you know me, Mr.
Anderson. Come on down to the depot, quick! We must get there before the
train comes in!”

“Why, it’s Dave Porter!” exclaimed the policeman. “What’s the row,

“Mr. Wadsworth’s jewelry works has been robbed. They have just gone to
notify headquarters. I thought maybe the robbers might try to get away
on the train. We want to stop any suspicious characters.”

“The jewelry works robbed? You don’t say! All right, I’ll go right
along. Hope we can catch ’em!” And Officer Anderson swung up beside
Dave, and both continued on a dog-trot to the depot.

Nobody but the station master was in sight. Dave and the policeman
thought it best to keep out of sight.

“You stay at one end and I’ll stay at the other,” said the officer. “If
you see anybody suspicious, whistle twice and I’ll come on the

At last they heard the train coming. Nobody had appeared, but presently
Dave caught sight of a burly figure sneaking beside several empty
freight cars on a side-track. He gave the signal for aid and then
sneaked after the man. By this time the train had rolled into the little

Only a well-known young man of Crumville alighted, accompanied by an
elderly lady, his mother. There were no passengers to get aboard, and
the conductor swung his lantern for the engineer to go ahead again.

At that moment the burly fellow near the freight cars made a dive for
the trucks of a baggage car, with the evident intention of stealing a
ride. He had almost reached the trucks when Dave came up behind him and
hauled him back.

“Not so fast!” said our hero, firmly. “I want to talk to you.”

“Hey, you let me alone!” growled the burly fellow. He was ragged and
unshaven and evidently a tramp.

“Where did you come from?” went on Dave, and he continued to hold the
man, while the train moved off.

“Wot business is that o’ yours?” was the sulky return. “Wot did yer make
me miss that train for?”

“You’ll find out in a minute or two,” answered our hero, and just then
Officer Anderson came running up.

“Got somebody, have you?” he panted.

“I guess he is only a tramp,” was Dave’s reply. “But we may as well hold
him and see what he has got to say.”

“It’s Applejack Joe,” said the policeman, as he eyed the prisoner. “We
warned him out of town this morning. What was he going to do, steal a

“I think so. I caught him making for the trucks of a baggage car.”

“That’s Joe’s favorite way of riding,” chuckled the policeman.

“I can’t see why that young feller had to stop me,” growled the tramp.
“You folks wants me to git out, an’ when I start yer hold me back.”

“Why didn’t you go this morning, if you were told to go?” asked Dave.

“Say, I don’t move as swift as some folks. Wot’s the use? Take yer time,
is my motter.”

“Where have you been for the last three or four hours?” asked the

“Where have I been? It won’t do you no good to know, cap’n.”

“Well, you tell us, just the same,” said Dave. “I want to know if you
have seen any other men sneaking around town to-night. If you have, it
may pay you to tell me about it.”

“Provided we can land on those other chaps,” put in the officer.

“Oh, I see; somethin’ wrong, hey?” And the tramp leered unpleasantly.
“Want to pull me into it, mebbe.”

“You are pulled in already,” answered Officer Anderson.

“Oh, don’t arrest me, an’ I’ll tell you everything I know!” pleaded
Applejack Joe. He had once been in the Crumville jail in winter and
found it very cold and uninviting, and he wanted no more of it.

“What do you know?” questioned Dave. “Answer quick. There has been a big
robbery here, and if you can help us to catch the men maybe you’ll get a

“Reward? Say, I’m your huckleberry, young man. Wot do I know?” The tramp
rubbed his unshaven chin. “Yes, that’s them, I’m sure of it,” he
murmured, half to himself.

“Who?” demanded Dave, impatiently.

“Them two fellers I see down at Casterbury’s stock-farm this afternoon.
They had a bag wot looked suspicious to me, an’, say; did they use
dynamite, or somethin’ like that?”

“They did!”

“Then that’s them! Cos why? Cos when they walked past where I was
hidin’, I heard one of ’em say, ‘Be careful o’ that, we don’t want it to
go off an’ git blowed up.’”

“Two men?” came from the policeman. “Did you know them?”

The tramp shook his head.

“Never set eyes on ’em before. But I see ’em after that, down back of
that jewelry works over there,” and he threw up his hand in the
direction of Mr. Wadsworth’s place. “Say, is that the place they
robbed?” he continued, with some show of interest.

“Yes,” answered Dave. “Now tell me how those fellows looked.”

“I can’t tell yer that, exactly, fer my eyesight ain’t none too good, I
git so much smoke an’ cinders in ’em from the railroad. But they was
kinder young fellers, I think, and putty good educated—not common
fellers like me. Somethin’ like yerself. An’ they was dressed putty
good, long overcoats, and soft hats wot was pulled down over their

“Did you hear them speak any names?” asked Officer Anderson.

“Nary a name.”

“Have you seen the two men during the last hour or so?” asked Dave.

“No, ain’t see ’em since I spotted ’em back of the jewelry factory. That
was about seven, or maybe eight o’clock.”

“Did they go into the works then?”

“No, they just stood by the back fence talkin’. I thought they had
somethin’ to do with that new buildin’ going up there, so I didn’t think
nuthin’ more about it.”

“I see. Well, Joe, I guess you had better come with us for the present,”
went on Dave. “We’ll want your testimony.”

“It ain’t fair to arrest me!” whined the tramp.

“We won’t call it arrest,” went on Dave, before the policeman could
speak. “You’ll be detained, that’s all, and I’ll see that you don’t lose
anything by it.”

“All right then, if that’s the way you’re goin’ to put it,” answered
Applejack Joe resignedly. “But I hope you’ll see to it that I gits
something to eat an’ a warm place to sleep.”

“I’ll remember,” returned our hero.

There seemed nothing now to do but to return to the jewelry works and
this Dave did, taking the tramp and the officer with him. When they
arrived they found the chief of police there, with two officers. The
chief was questioning Mr. Wadsworth and the distracted manufacturer was
telling what he knew about the crime that had been committed.

The arrival of those from the depot, and what the tramp had to tell, put
a new face on the matter. One of the officers said he had seen the two
strangers with the tool-bag, but had put them down for traveling
salesmen visiting Crumville on business.

“They are undoubtedly the guilty parties,” said the chief. “The only
question is: Where did they go to?”

“Well, they didn’t take that twelve-fifteen train,” answered Dave.

“Then they either got out of town by the use of a horse or an auto, or
else they are here yet,” said Mr. Wadsworth. “Oh, catch them! Catch them
if you can! I must get those jewels back! I’ll give a big reward for
their safe return.”

“Have you heard from Phil or Roger yet?”

“No, Dave.”

“They may bring in some word.”

“Let us hope so,” groaned the manufacturer.

“What became of the watchman?”

“That is a mystery. Perhaps they carried him off and threw him into the
river, or something like that!”

“Oh, they wouldn’t be as rascally as all that!” returned Dave, in

“Perhaps. Some robbers are very desperate characters.”

At that moment came a cry from one of the workrooms, where one of the
officers had gone to take a look around.

“What is it, Carr?” called the chief of police.

“Here’s poor Tony Wells,” was the answer. “He’s in bad shape. Better
somebody run for a doctor at once!”


The watchman was indeed in bad shape. He had been found thrown under a
workbench, and just returning to consciousness. He had a cut over his
left ear and another on his forehead, from which the blood had flowed

“Must have struck him with a club, or an iron bar,” was the opinion of
the chief, as the injured man was carried into the office and placed on
some chair cushions. Here his wounds were washed and bound up, while one
officer ran to get a doctor who lived not a great distance off.

It was some little time before Tony Wells, who was nearly seventy years
of age, opened his eyes to stare around him.

“Don’t—don’t hit me again!” he murmured. “I—I didn’t touch you!”

“It’s all right, Tony!” said the chief. “Those fellows are gone. You’re
among friends.”

“They—knocked me down!” gasped the old watchman. “I—I—tried to
telephone—after the explosion, but—but——” He could not go on, and
suddenly relapsed again into unconsciousness.

“Poor fellow!” said Mr. Wadsworth, tenderly. “We must do what we can for

“Is anything missing besides the jewels?” asked Dave, while they were
waiting for the doctor to come, and waiting to hear from the others who
had gone out.

“No, Dave. But that is enough. If they are not recovered, I shall be

“Can they hold you responsible for the loss?”

“Yes, for when I took the jewels to re-set I guaranteed the safe return
of each jewel. I had to do that because they were afraid some workmen
might try to substitute other jewels not so good—which is sometimes

“And you said they were worth seventy-five thousand dollars?”

“All of that.”

“Those robbers certainly made a haul.”

“It drives me crazy to think about it,” groaned Oliver Wadsworth.

“Perhaps the others who went out will catch them,” answered our hero,

Soon the doctor arrived and took charge of old Tony Wells, whom he knew
well. As Wells was a widower, living alone, the doctor said he would
take the old man to his own home, where he could have constant

“He is already in a fever,” said the physician. “We had better not try
to question him at present. It will only excite him the more.” And a
little later the sufferer was placed on a litter and carried to the
doctor’s residence.

By this time the news was circulating that the Wadsworth jewelry works
had been robbed, and many persons spent the rest of the night looking
for the two young men who were supposed to be guilty of the crime.
Oliver Wadsworth and an officer remained at the offices, guarding the
wrecked place and looking for clews of the evildoers. But nothing in the
way of evidence against the robbers was brought to light, excepting that
they had used several drills and some dynamite on the two old safes,
probably blowing them up simultaneously. They had taken the tool-bag
with its contents with them and also another small valise, belonging to
one of Mr. Wadsworth’s traveling salesmen.

“I can’t understand why Tony Wells didn’t discover them when they first
came in,” said Dave.

“Maybe he did and they made him a prisoner,” suggested Mr. Wadsworth.
“Tony was very faithful—the best watchman I ever had.”

Daylight came at last and still the search for the two robbers was kept
up. In the meantime, telegrams and telephone messages had been sent in
all directions. To stimulate the searchers Mr. Wadsworth offered a
reward of one thousand dollars for the recovery of the jewels and this
reward was later on increased to five thousand dollars.

When Tony Wells was well enough to tell his story he said he had been
going the rounds of the works when he suddenly found himself confronted
by two masked men. He had started to cry out and run for help when the
men had seized him and thrown him down and bound him fast to a
work-bench. Then the men had gone to the offices, and later on had come
the explosion. He knew they were blowing open the safes and did what he
could to free himself. At last he managed to get free, but found himself
too weak to run for help. He had dragged himself to the telephone in the
shipping-room and was sending his message to Mr. Wadsworth when the
masked men had again appeared and knocked him down. That was all he
remembered until the time he was found, as already described.

“You did not see the faces of the two men?” asked Oliver Wadsworth.

“No, sir, they were all covered with black masks. But I think the
fellows was rather young-like,” answered the old watchman. “Both of ’em
was about the size of Dave Porter,—but neither of ’em was Dave,—I know
that by the voices,” he went on, hastily.

“No, Dave was at home with me,” said Oliver Wadsworth. “But he and one
of his friends passed the works just before the explosion.”

The news of the robbery had upset the Wadsworth household completely.
Mrs. Wadsworth was as much distressed as her husband, and Jessie was as
pale as if seriously ill.

“Oh, Dave, supposing the jewels are not recovered!” said Jessie, when
they met in the hallway. “It will ruin father,—I heard him tell mamma

“We are going to get them back—we’ve simply got to do it,” Dave replied.

“But how? Nobody seems to know what has become of the robbers.”

“Oh, just wait, Jessie. We are sure to get some trace of them sooner or

“What makes you so hopeful, Dave?” and now the girl suddenly clutched
his arm. “Have you a clew?”

“I think so, but I am not sure. I am going to talk to your father about
it, and then I am going to take another look around Crumville and around
the offices.”

Dave’s father and his Uncle Dunston had been out all day, and so had
Phil and Roger and Ben, and a score of others, including the officers of
the law. But nothing had been seen or heard of the mysterious men with
the tool-bag. Another tramp had been rounded up, but he knew absolutely
nothing of the crime and was let go again.

Oliver Wadsworth’s face was white and drawn and he looked as if he had
suddenly grown five years older. He had a long, private conversation
with Dave’s father and Dunston Porter, and all three men looked very
grave when the conference came to an end.

There was good cause for this seriousness. The new addition to the
jewelry works had placed Mr. Wadsworth in debt. The Porters had lent him
twenty thousand dollars, and, just then, could lend him no more, having
a number of obligations of their own to meet.

The Carwith jewels were the property of Mr. and Mrs. Ridgeway Osgood
Carwith, of Fifth Avenue, New York City. The Carwiths were now on a trip
around the world, but were expected home some time in the spring. Mr.
Wadsworth had agreed to re-set the jewels according to designs already
accepted by the millionaire and his wife, and had guaranteed the safe
return of the jewels, re-set as specified, not later than the first of
the following May. As the millionaire was a strict business man he had
demanded a bond for the safe return of his property, and this bond had
been given by Mr. Wadsworth, indorsed by David Breslow Porter and
Dunston Porter.

Thus it will readily be seen that the millionaire and his wife were
amply secured. If they did not get the jewels back they would demand the
payment of the bond, worth seventy-five thousand dollars, and Mr.
Wadsworth and the Porters would have to make good.

On the second day after the robbery, Dave, Roger, and Phil went down to
the jewelry works and began a close investigation on their own account.
Dave had mentioned something to his chums that had caused them to open
their eyes in astonishment.

An hour was spent around the offices, and then Phil picked up an empty
cigarette case. He took it to Dave and Roger and both looked at it with
keen interest.

“I guess that is another clew,” said our hero. “Let us look around some

“I’m going for the train now,” said the senator’s son, a little later.
“And as soon as I find Hooker Montgomery I’ll let you know.”

“Yes, and make him come here, whether he wants to or not,” cried Dave.

“You leave that to me,” answered Roger, grimly.

Oliver Wadsworth had been interviewing a private detective, and soon the
man left, stating he thought he could lay his hands on the guilty

“I’ll look for Tom Basnett,” said the detective. “This looks like one of
his jobs.”

“I don’t care whose job it is—I want the jewels back,” said Mr.
Wadsworth, wearily. He had not slept since the crime had been committed.

“Mr. Wadsworth, Phil and I would like to talk to you in private,” said
Dave, when he could get the chance.

“You have some clew, Dave?”

“Well, I want to tell you something, and then you can judge for

“Very well, come with me,” answered the manufacturer, and led the way to
a little side-room, used by the salesmen for exhibiting wares to
possible customers.

“I want to tell you all about something that happened early in the
winter, while I was at Oak Hall,” said Dave. And then he told of how he
had called on the fake doctor, Hooker Montgomery, and how he had been
attacked from behind and made a prisoner, and carried off to a house in
the woods, the particulars of which have already been set down in “Dave
Porter and His Rivals.”

“The fellows who carried me off were the doctor and the driver, who was
only a tool, and two fellows who have caused me a lot of trouble in the
past, Nick Jasniff and Link Merwell,” went on our hero. “When I got away
I tried to follow up Jasniff and Merwell, but they got away from me, and
so did the driver get away. But one day I found Hooker Montgomery, and
by threatening to have him arrested I made him confess to the truth,
which was that Jasniff and Merwell had hired him to help get me in their
power. At first they told Montgomery it was only a schoolboy trick, and
he said he believed them, but, later on, it leaked out that Jasniff and
Merwell had another motive in making me a prisoner.”

“And that motive——?” began Oliver Wadsworth, with deep interest.

“Doctor Montgomery said that Jasniff and Merwell had in mind to drug me
and take me to some place a good distance from Oak Hall. He said he also
heard them speak of robbing a jewelry works, and I was to be drugged and
left in the factory,—to make it appear as if I had done the deed and as
if the blowing up of a safe had stunned me.”

“Dave, is this possible!” exclaimed the manufacturer.

“It is true, Mr. Wadsworth,” said Phil. “I was along and so was Roger at
the time. Montgomery couldn’t give many details, but he said he thought
Jasniff and Merwell were cold-blooded villains and he wanted nothing
more to do with them.”

“This looks as if those rascals, Jasniff and Merwell, had come here.”

“I believe they did come,” went on Dave. “And here is one clew we have
already picked up against them.” And he held up the empty cigarette box.

“What is that? Only a cigarette box. How can that be a clew?”

“I will tell you. Both Jasniff and Merwell are inveterate cigarette
smokers. I have seen them smoking many times. They smoke a Turkish brand
of cigarettes, having a peculiar blue and gold band around the box. This
is the same kind of a box, and I am convinced that this box was emptied
and thrown away in your offices by Jasniff or Merwell.”


Oliver Wadsworth listened to Dave’s words with deep interest. Then he
shrugged his shoulders.

“That sounds pretty good, Dave, were it not for one thing. Do you
imagine that two masked fellows, bent on blowing open safes, would stop
to light and smoke cigarettes?”

“I think Merwell and Jasniff would, Merwell especially. When Link is
nervous the first thing he does is to take out a cigarette and light it.
It’s an almost unconscious habit with him.”

“This story about what that doctor said interests me most of all,” went
on the manufacturer. “I think we ought to have a talk with him. For all
we know, he may be one of the guilty parties.”

“No, I don’t think he is that kind. Besides, he was very angry at
Merwell and Jasniff and wanted nothing more to do with them.”

“The detective who was here thought he had a clew against a professional
bank burglar. Personally, I think this looks more like the work of
professionals than fellows just out of school,” said the manufacturer;
and there, for the time being, the matter rested.

During the day two more detectives appeared and went over the ground, as
the other officials had done. One thought he saw in the robbery the hand
of a criminal known as Red Andrews.

“This is just the way Red Andrews would go at a job,” said the
detective. “He was sent up for robbing a private banker some years ago,
and he got out two months ago. He was in New York—I saw him on Fifth
Avenue, not far from the Carwith mansion. He may have heard about the
jewels there. I am going to look for him.” And he departed on a hunt for
Red Andrews.

It was not until two days later that Roger came back to Crumville. His
face showed his disappointment.

“Such mean luck!” he exclaimed, when he met Dave, Phil, and Ben. “I went
to four towns, looking for Hooker Montgomery, and at last I found out
that he had left the east several days ago.”

“Where did he go to?” questioned our hero.

“The folks I met couldn’t tell exactly, but they thought to visit a rich
aunt in the far west.”

This was a great disappointment, for they had hoped to learn much more
concerning the plans of Jasniff and Merwell, from the fake doctor.

“We might send him a letter, to his last residence. Maybe the
post-office authorities will forward it,” suggested Phil.

“I did that,” answered the senator’s son. “I told him that I wanted to
hear from him at once, and that it would be money in his pocket to write
or to telegraph to me. I didn’t mention your name, Dave, for I thought
he might hear of this robbery and get suspicious.”

It was ideal weather for skating and sleighing, but none of the young
folks at the Wadsworth mansion felt like going out for fun. All could
see that the older folks were much worried, and consequently, they were
worried, too.

“Oh, Dave, what if those jewels are never recovered?” said Laura to her
brother, when they were alone. “It will just about ruin Mr. Wadsworth,
Uncle Dunston says.”

“Let us hope for the best, Laura.”

“I heard you and the other boys talking about Nick Jasniff and Link


“Do you really imagine they had something to do with it?”

“Yes, I think so, and so do Phil, Ben, and Roger. But the detectives and
Mr. Wadsworth think the work was done by professionals. They don’t think
that fellows like Nick and Link would be equal to the job.”

“But if you think Merwell and Jasniff guilty, why don’t you go after
them and find out?”

“We don’t know where they are.”

“Aren’t they with their folks?”


“Are you sure?”

“Yes. The Jasniffs are traveling aboard and Mr. Merwell is in
Philadelphia. We sent to Mr. Merwell—through an outsider—and learned
that he didn’t know where Link was just now, said he had written that he
was going on a tour south for the winter. My private opinion is that Mr.
Merwell finds Link hard to manage and is glad to get rid of him.”

“Do you suppose he did go south?”

“He might—after this affair here.”

“They didn’t say what part of the south he went to?”

“They said Florida. But Florida is pretty big, you know,” and Dave
smiled faintly.

“Jessie is awfully downcast over this, and so is Mrs. Wadsworth—in fact,
we all are.”

“I know it, Laura.” Dave drew a long breath. “It’s awfully hard to sit
still and do nothing. I imagine Mr. Wadsworth can’t sleep for thinking
of the affair.”

“I heard Mrs. Wadsworth talking last night to him. I didn’t mean to
listen, Dave, but before I could get away I heard her say that if it was
necessary she would give up this house to live in and move to a smaller
place! Think of it! Why, her very heart is set on this house and these
fine grounds! And Jessie thinks the world of them, too!”

“It would be awfully hard if they did have to give them up, Laura.”

“Dave, can’t father or Uncle Dunston help them, if they need help?”

“They have helped Mr. Wadsworth already—loaned him twenty thousand
dollars so that he could put that new addition to the works. They also
indorsed his note covering the safe return of the jewels. If those
jewels aren’t gotten back, and Mr. Wadsworth can’t make good on that
note, father and Uncle Dunston will have to pay the money.”

“All of it?”

“As much as Mr. Wadsworth can’t pay. And the worst of the whole matter
is, Laura, just at present father and Uncle Dunston have their ready
money tied up in such a manner that they can’t get hold of it excepting
at a great loss. Oh, it certainly is a terrible state of affairs!” And
Dave shook his head, gravely.

During that week Ben had Shadow Hamilton and Buster Beggs visit him. Of
course, the new arrivals had to hear all about the robbery, and they
came over with Ben to call on the other boys, and on the girls.

“This is fierce!” was Buster’s comment. “And Ben says you rather suspect
Merwell and Jasniff,” he added, in a whisper.

“We do, but don’t say anything to any outsiders about it,” answered

“Say, that puts me in mind of a story,” said Shadow. “A little girl

“Wow! Cut it out, Shadow!” burst out Phil.

“Stories don’t go with robberies,” supplemented Roger.

“Let him tell it,” put in Dave, with a faint smile. “It will relieve his
mind, and I guess I need a little fun to brace me up—I’ve been so
depressed lately.”

“This isn’t so very much of a story,” went on Shadow, as all looked at
him. “Dave telling Buster not to let outsiders know put me in mind of
it. Once the mother of a little girl told her that her uncle had been
naughty and had been put in prison for it. Said the mother, ‘Now, Lucy,
don’t tell anybody.’ So Lucy went out to play and pretty soon, when she
had all her companions around her she said, ‘What do you think my ma
said? She said that when anybody has an uncle in prison, like my uncle
is, you mustn’t tell anybody. So I’m not going to tell a single

“Well, I guess the boys know what I mean,” said Dave, after a short
laugh. “I want you to keep this to yourselves. Don’t spread it any
further. It may be that I am mistaken, and if so, and Merwell and
Jasniff heard of what I have said, they would come down on me like a ton
of bricks—and I’d not blame them.”

In the afternoon, urged by Mrs. Wadsworth, the boys went skating, taking
the girls with them. On the ice they met Nat Poole, but the
money-lender’s son did not speak to them, indeed he did his best to keep
out of their way.

“He hasn’t forgotten New Year’s Eve,” said Ben. “He had better keep his
distance, unless he wants to get into more trouble.”

“Wonder what he thinks of the robbery?” mused Dave.

“We might get Buster to pump him,” suggested Phil. “He is on pretty good
terms with Nat,—that is, they are not open enemies.”

Buster was appealed to and he readily agreed to do the “pumping,”
provided the money-lender’s son had anything to say. He skated off by
himself and then threw himself in Nat’s way, and was gone the best part
of half an hour.

“Well, did you learn anything?” queried Roger, when the stout youth

“I guess I did!” cried Buster. “Say, I think Nat Poole is about as mean
as they make ’em!” he burst out. “And he hasn’t a grain of good, hard

“What did he say?” demanded Phil.

“Oh, he said a lot of things, about the robbery, and about the
Wadsworths and the Porters. First he said he didn’t believe the jewels
were nearly as valuable as Mr. Wadsworth represented them to be, and the
manufacturer was kicking up a big fuss just as a sort of advertisement.
Then he said there was a report that Dave had been seen in front of the
works just a few minutes before the explosion, and that that looked
mighty suspicious to him.”

“The mean fellow!” muttered Roger.

“I told him that you and Roger were going to the Wadsworth house at the
time, and were home when the watchman telephoned, but he only tossed his
head as if he didn’t believe a word of it, and said he guessed Dave
could tell something if he was of a mind to talk.”

“If that isn’t Poole to a T!” cried Phil.

“If I were you, Dave, I’d punch his head for him,” was Shadow’s advice.

“That wouldn’t do any good,” said Ben. “You can’t stop Nat from talking
any more than you can stop water from running out of a sieve.”

“Which puts me in mind of another story,” burst out Shadow, eagerly.
“Once two men——”

“Oh, Shadow, another?” cried Buster, reproachfully.

“I know that story—it’s moss-covered with age,” announced Roger.

“What is it?” demanded the story-teller of Oak Hall.

“Two men—bet—carry water in a sieve—bet taken—water frozen. Ha! ha!
Shadow, I got you that time.”

“Well, it’s a good story anyway,” answered Shadow, ruefully.

“I shan’t attempt to stop Nat unless he makes some direct accusation,”
said Dave, calmly. “What would be the use? It would only make matters

“If you took notice of what he says, some folks would begin to think
there was something in it,” said Phil. “Yes, better drop Nat. He isn’t
worth bothering about, anyway. Just the same, it is mean for him to
speak in this fashion.”

“He wouldn’t be Nat Poole if he didn’t,” retorted Roger.

Despite this incident, the boys and girls managed to have a good time on
the ice, and for an hour or two Dave forgot his troubles and those of
his friends.

“What are you going to do for the rest of the vacation, Dave?” said
Roger, that evening. “You know you promised to come to my home.”

“Yes, and you promised to visit me, too,” added Phil. “You haven’t been
to our house in a long time.”

“To tell the truth, I haven’t the heart to go anywhere,” answered Dave,
soberly. “I guess I had better stay here and see if something doesn’t
turn up.”

“Well, I can’t blame you,” said the senator’s son, and Phil said the


Two days later, when Roger was packing up, getting ready to return home,
he received a letter from Luke Watson that filled him with interest.
Luke had gone to St. Augustine, Florida, to join his folks, who were
spending the winter there.

“Here’s news!” burst out the senator’s son, as he came rushing to Dave
and Phil with the epistle. “This letter is from Luke Watson, you know
his folks are in Florida. Well, on his way to St. Augustine, Luke
stopped for a day at Jacksonville. Listen to what he says:

“‘I was walking down one of the main streets of Jacksonville, looking
into the shop windows, when what do you think? I saw Link Merwell and
Nick Jasniff. You could have knocked me over with a feather, for I
hadn’t imagined that they were anywhere near. They were nattily dressed
and each carried a small valise, and they were buying caps and some
other things for a sea voyage. I went into the shop and called to them,
and my! both of them jumped as if they were shot, and Merwell got so
pale I thought he was going to faint. I said “Hello,” but they didn’t
answer to that, and Jasniff at once wanted to know if I was alone. When
I told him I was he seemed mightily relieved, and Merwell looked
relieved, too. They wanted to know what I was doing there and I told
them. Then I asked what they were doing, but I couldn’t get any straight
answer. Merwell started to say something about going to sea, but Jasniff
stopped him short, and said they guessed they would go back to New York,
where they had come from.

“‘It was awful funny—they positively looked scared to death, and while
they were talking to me they looked over my shoulders, as if on their
guard against somebody. I asked them what they had been doing since they
left Rockville, and they said not much of anything, just traveling
around. They seemed to have plenty of money, for just as I went into the
shop I saw Merwell pay for something from a big roll of greenbacks.

“‘After I left them, I got a bit curious about the pair, and so I
watched them come from the shop and walk down to one of the docks and go
aboard a big four-masted schooner. I hung around a little and pretty
soon they came from the schooner and went up to one of the big hotels,
and there I lost sight of them. Each had his little valise with him, but
they weren’t big enough for much clothing. My, but they were scared! I
fancy they thought I might pitch into them for the mean things they did
in the past. But I didn’t want to start any row.’”

“Is that all he says?” demanded Dave, after the senator’s son had

“That’s all he says about Merwell and Jasniff and their doings.”

“Doesn’t he mention the name of that schooner, or the hotel?” asked


“Did you say Luke was going to Jacksonville?” asked our hero.

“Yes, his whole family are down there.”

“Then I could telegraph to him and he could give me the name of the
hotel, and of the schooner.”

“Dave, what do you make out of this?” demanded the senator’s son.

“I make out of it that Merwell and Jasniff are guilty!” burst out Dave.
“They went from here to Florida, and now they have either gone to sea,
or are going, as soon as that schooner sails. Do you notice what Luke
says about their being scared almost to death when they saw him? They
evidently thought some of us, or the officers of the law, were with

“And the little valises!” burst out the shipowner’s son. “Perhaps they
contain the jewels!”

“Would they be foolish enough to carry them around like that?”
questioned Roger. “Wouldn’t they hide them?”

“They may be looking for some good hiding-place, or some place where
they can sell them,” answered Dave. “Remember, Jasniff and Merwell are
green at this business—they wouldn’t go at it like professionals. If
they were professionals, they wouldn’t have acted so scared.”

“That is true. What will you do, tell Mr. Wadsworth of this?”

“I think I’ll tell my father and my Uncle Dunston first. Mr. Wadsworth
doesn’t place much credit in the story of Merwell and Jasniff’s guilt.
He thinks the detectives are on the right track.”

“Well, possibly they are,” admitted Phil. “But I must say, this looks
mighty suspicious to me.”

“I have half a mind to take matters in my own hands and run down to
Jacksonville,” went on our hero. “Who knows but what I might find
Merwell and Jasniff? If I did, I could stop them and make them give an
account of themselves by making that old charge of abduction against
them, and that charge of having used my name.”

“Say, that’s an idea!” cried Roger. “And say, I’d like to go with you.”

“So would I,” added Phil. “We might go down in one of my father’s

“Too slow, Phil—the limited express for this trip,” answered Dave. “But
I must talk it over with dad first,” he added.

“We have got over three weeks before school opens again,” pursued the
senator’s son. “We could go down to Florida and back easily in that

Dave’s father had gone to New York on business, but came home that
evening. In the meantime a telegram was sent to Luke Watson, asking for
the name of the hotel, at which Merwell and Jasniff had stopped, and of
the schooner.

Dave’s father and his uncle listened closely to what he had to tell, and
to the reading of the letter from Luke Watson. They talked the affair
over for an hour with the boys.

“You may be right, boys,” said Mr. Porter, at last. “And it may be a
good plan to follow those rascals up. But I don’t think I would bother
Mr. Wadsworth about it. He received a telegram from one of the
detectives, and the officer is more sure than ever that he is on the
right track. He caught Red Andrews pawning a fair-sized diamond, and he
thinks the gem is from the Carwith collection.”

“Can’t he make Red Andrews confess?” asked Dave.

“Unfortunately the rascal got away when on the way to the
police-station. But the detective feels he can soon round him up again.”

Dave looked thoughtfully out of the window and tapped the table with his

“You still think Merwell and Jasniff guilty?” remarked his uncle, with a

“Yes, Uncle Dunston. After what Hooker Montgomery said, I’ll think them
guilty until somebody proves otherwise.”

“Then I tell you what I’ll do, boys,” said Dunston Porter. “I’ll take a
trip down to Florida with you and look into this matter. I’d rather be
on the move than sitting still waiting for something to turn up.”

“Will you go?” cried Dave, eagerly.

“I will.”


“As soon as you wish, and we can get train accommodations.”

“Hadn’t we better wait until we hear from Luke?” suggested Roger.

“No, let us get off at once!” exclaimed Dave. “If he sends word after we
are gone, it can be forwarded to us.” And so it was arranged.

Great was the surprise of the Wadsworths and of Laura when the boys and
Dunston Porter announced that they were going to start for Florida the
next morning.

“Why, Dave?” asked Jessie. “Why are you going in such a hurry?”

“Oh, I hardly care to tell, Jessie,” he answered. “It may prove only a
wild goose chase.”

“It is about the missing jewels?”


“Then you are after Merwell and Jasniff.”

“Yes, but please don’t tell any outsiders.”

“Oh, Dave, don’t get into any trouble!” cried the girl, as she clung to
him. “They are such bad fellows! You know what they have done to you in
the past!”

“I am not afraid of them.”

“Oh, I know how brave you are, Dave! But—but don’t let them harm you—for
my sake, please!” And then the tears came into her eyes and she hid her
face on his arm.

“There! there! don’t worry!” he said, as he bent over her, and then he
kissed her forehead. “We’ll be back before long,” and he gave her a
little hug. Then the others came in.

Laura was also worried, but glad that her uncle would be along. She
helped Dave to pack his suit-case. Phil and Roger also packed up, and
sent word home regarding the proposed trip. As my old readers know, all
the boys were well-to-do, so the expenses did not bother them.

At breakfast time the following morning came a telegram from Luke
Watson. It read as follows:

“The hotel was the Castor. Think schooner was the _Emma Brown_, or
_Black_, or _Jones_. Common name.”

“Well, that isn’t very definite, but it is something to work on,”
remarked Dunston Porter.

Soon the party of four were ready to start. There was a general
hand-shaking and also a few kisses.

“Well, have a good time, even if you don’t catch those fellows,” said
Mrs. Wadsworth.

“Keep out of trouble,” warned Laura.

“Yes, yes, don’t let them harm you,” pleaded timid Jessie.

“And let us hear from you often,” said Mr. Porter.

“I don’t know what to say about this,” said Oliver Wadsworth, shaking
his head, slowly. “But if you do get on the track of those jewels, leave
no stone unturned to get them.”

“Leave that to me, Mr. Wadsworth,” said Dunston Porter. “If we find
those young men have the gems—or had them—we’ll get them back, never
fear.” And he spoke in a tone that showed he meant what he said.

They went to the depot in the family sleigh. Ben had heard of their
going away and was there to see them off. Soon the train rolled in that
was to carry the travelers to New York City.

“Good-by!” cried the boys, as they clambered aboard the car.

“Good-by!” called Ben. “I wish you luck.” And then the girls waved their
hands, and the train moved off, slowly at first and then faster and
faster, until Crumville was left behind.

“It’s a great trip they are taking,” said Ben, to Laura and Jessie.
“Wish I was going along.”

“Why didn’t you go?” questioned Laura.

“Oh, I’ve got some things to do at home,” answered Ben. He did not care
to add that his father did not wish to stand the extra expense. Mr.
Basswood was fairly well-to-do, but thought he was spending enough on
his son by sending him to boarding-school.

The sleigh was about to drive off when the station agent came running
out, waving a yellow envelope.

“Is Mr. Wadsworth here?” he questioned, of Jessie.

“No, Mr. Mack, my father went to business. What is it, a telegram?”

“Yes,—something very important too.”

“Then give it to me and I will take it to him at once.”

“I could send it, but——”

“Never mind. Here, I will sign for it,” and Jessie did so. Then the whip
cracked and the horses started for the jewelry works on a gallop.

When Jessie handed the telegram to her father he opened it and read the
contents eagerly. His face lit up.

“This is good news!” he cried. “Good news! I must go to Boston at once.”

“Have they found the jewels?” questioned his daughter.

“The detective thinks he has located them. Yes, I must go at once.” And
Mr. Wadsworth hurried off to prepare for the journey.


Dunston Porter and the boys were to go to New York City and there
transfer to Jersey City for the train bound South. All had comfortable
seats together.

“It’s going to be quite a trip,” said Roger, as he settled back to gaze
at the swiftly-moving panorama of fields covered with snow.

“Yes, and we are going to journey from winter into summer,” added Phil.
“It’s good we remembered that when we packed our suit-cases. At first I
was going to put in nothing but heavy clothing.”

“I am glad we heard from Luke,” said Dave. “That gives us a little to
work on. I hope the _Emma Brown_, or whatever her name may be, hasn’t
sailed yet.”

“Won’t Merwell and Jasniff be surprised if we do locate them?” said the
senator’s son. “I suppose they think we are at home.”

The car was only half-filled with passengers, so the boys and Dunston
Porter had plenty of room, and they moved around from one seat to
another. So the time passed quickly enough, until they rolled into the
Grand Central Station, in New York.

“Well, little old New York looks as busy as ever,” was Phil’s comment,
as they stepped out on the street. “Are we to transfer to Jersey City at

“Yes,” answered Dunston Porter. “We’ll take the subway and the river
tube, and get there in no time.”

Riding through the tube under the Hudson River was a new experience for
the lads and they rather enjoyed it. The train of steel cars rushed
along at a good rate of speed, and almost before they knew it, they were
in New Jersey and being hoisted up in an elevator to the train-shed.

“Coast Line Express!” was the cry at one of the numerous gates to the
tracks, and thither the party hurried. Willing porters took their
baggage, and a minute later they found themselves in an elegant Pullman
car. Dunston Porter had telegraphed ahead for sleeping accommodations,
and they had two double seats opposite each other, directly in the
middle of the car.

“All aboard!” sang out the conductor, about ten minutes later, and then
the long train rolled slowly from the big train-shed, and the trip to
Florida could be said to have fairly begun.

“Do we go by the way of Philadelphia and Washington?” asked Phil, who
had not taken the time to study the route.

“Yes,” answered Dunston Porter. “Here is a time-table. That will show
you the whole route and tell you just when we get to each place.”

“Will we have to make any changes?” asked Roger.

“None whatever.”

Soon the train had left Jersey City behind and a little later it stopped
at Newark, and then sped on towards Philadelphia. By this time it had
grown too dark to see the landscape and the boys and Dunston Porter

On and on through the long night rolled the train, keeping fairly close
to the Atlantic sea-coast. With nothing to do, the boys did not arise
until late in the morning. They found Dave’s uncle in the lavatory ahead
of them, indulging in the luxury of a shave with a safety razor.

“Well, how are you feeling?” asked Dunston Porter.

“Fine!” cried Dave.

“Couldn’t feel better,” added the senator’s son.

“Ready for a big breakfast?”

“I am,” answered Phil, promptly. “Gracious, but traveling makes me

They had to wait a little before they could get seats together in the
dining-car and they amused themselves by gazing at the settlements
through which they were passing. Here and there were numerous cabins,
with hordes of colored children playing about.

“This is the Southland, true enough,” observed Dave. “Just see how happy
those pickaninnies seem to be!”

“Yes, one would almost envy their care-free dispositions,” answered
Dunston Porter. “Their manner shows that it doesn’t take money to make
one happy.”

They had passed through Richmond and were now on their way to Emporia.
It was growing steadily warmer, and by noon all were glad enough to
leave the car and go out on the observation platform at the end of the

The next stop was at Fayetteville and after that came Charleston. Long
before this the snow had disappeared and the fields looked as green as
in the fall at home.

“We’ll be at Jacksonville when you wake up in the morning,” said Dunston
Porter, as they turned into their berths the second night on the train.

“Good! We can’t get there any too quick for me!” answered Dave.

“You mustn’t expect too much, Dave. You may be bitterly disappointed,”
remarked his uncle, gravely.

“Oh, we’ve just got to catch Merwell and Jasniff, Uncle Dunston!”

“Yes, but they may not be guilty. You’ll have to go slow about accusing

“Well, I want to catch them and question them anyway. I can have them
detained on the old charge, you know—that is, if they try to get away
from me.”

Dave and Phil slept on one side of the car, with Dunston Porter and
Roger on the other. As the steam heat was still turned on, it was
uncomfortably warm, and as a consequence Dave was rather restless. He
tumbled and tossed in his berth, which was the upper one, and wished
that the night were over and that they were in Jacksonville.

“Oh, pshaw! I really must get some sleep!” he told himself. “If I don’t,
I’ll be as sleepy as an owl to-morrow and not fit to hunt up those
rascals. Yes, I must go to sleep,” and he did what he could to settle

He had just closed his eyes when a peculiar noise below him made him
start up. Phil was thrashing around wildly.

“What’s the matter, Phil?” he asked, in a low tone.

“Something is in my berth, some animal, or something!” answered the
shipowner’s son. “I can’t go to sleep for it. Every time I lie down it
begins to move.”

“Maybe it’s a rat.”

“Whoever heard of a rat in a sleeping-car?” snorted Phil.

“Perhaps you were dreaming. I didn’t hear anything,” went on Dave.

“No, I wasn’t dreaming—I heard it as plain as day.”

“Better go to bed and forget it, Phil,” and then Dave lay down again.
The shipowner’s son grumbled a little under his breath, then turned off
his electric light, and sank on his pillow once more.

Dave remained quiet for several minutes and then sat bolt upright and
gave a low cry. There was no mistake about it, something had moved over
his feet and given him a slight nip in the toe.

“Phil!” he called, softly. “Did you do that? Come, no fooling now. This
is no place for jokes.”

“Do what?”

“Pinch me in the toe.”

“I haven’t touched your toe. How can I from the lower berth?”

“Well, something nipped me.”

“Maybe it’s you who are dreaming this trip, Dave,” returned the
shipowner’s son, with pardonable sarcasm.

Dave did not reply, for just then he felt something moving in the
blanket. He made a clutch for it. A little squeak followed.

“I’ve got it, Phil!”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know yet—it’s in the blanket.”

“Oh, what a noise!” came from the berth beyond. “Cannot you young men be
quiet?” It was a woman who was speaking. She was an elderly person and
Dave had noticed, during the day, that she was rather sour-looking.

“Sorry, madam, but I’ve just caught something in my berth,” answered
Dave. “I’ll turn up the light and see what it is,” he added, as he held
on to the object in the blanket with one hand and turned on the electric
illumination with the other.

The cries and talking had awakened half a dozen people and the sleepy
porter came down the aisle to find out what was wrong.

“It’s a mouse—a white mouse!” cried Dave, as the little creature was

“Wot’s dat, a mouse!” exclaimed the porter. “Nebber heard of sech a
t’ing! How did he git yeah?”

“Don’t ask me,” replied Dave. “Ugh! he nipped me in the toe, too!”

“Here’s another one!” roared Phil. “Ran right across my arm! Take that,
you little imp!” he added, and bang! one of his shoes hit the woodwork
of the car.

“A mouse!” shrieked the elderly woman. “Did you say a mouse, young man?”

“I did—and there is more than one, too,” answered Dave, for he had felt
another movement at his feet. He lost no time in scrambling up, and Phil

By this time the whole sleeping-car was in an uproar. Everybody who
heard the word “mouse” felt certain one of the creatures must be in his
or her berth.

“Porter! porter! save me!” screamed the elderly lady. “Oh, mice, just
think of it!” And wrapping her dressing-gown around her, she leaped from
her berth and sped for the ladies’ room. Others also got up, including
Dunston Porter and Roger.

“What am I going to do with this fellow?” asked Dave, as he held the
mouse up in his vest.

“Better throw it out of a window,” suggested his uncle. “Mice in a
sleeper! This is certainly the limit!” he muttered. “The railroad
company better get a new system of cleaning.”

“Mice!” screamed a young lady. “Oh, I shall die!” she shrieked, and
looked ready to faint.

“Shoot ’em, why don’t you?” suggested a fat man, who came forth from his
berth wearing a blanket, Indian fashion.

By this time Phil had caught one of the creatures. Both he and Dave
started for the rear of the car, to throw the mice off the train.

“Stop! stop! I beg of you, don’t kill those mice!” came suddenly from a
tall, thin young man who had been sleeping in a berth at the end of the
car. Dave had noticed him during the day and had put him down as a
preacher or actor.

“Why not?” asked our hero.

“They are mine, that’s why,” said the man. “I would not have them killed
for a thousand dollars!”

“Say, wot yo’-all talkin’ about?” demanded the porter. “Dem mice yours?”

“Yes! yes! Oh, please do not kill them!” pleaded the tall, thin man.
“They won’t hurt anybody, really they won’t.”

“Say, are them white mice educated?” demanded the fat man.

“Indeed they are—I educated them myself,” answered the other man. “I
spent months in doing it, too. They are the best-educated white mice in
the United States,” he added, proudly.


The announcement that the mice that had been caught in the car were
educated filled the boys with interest, but it did not lessen their
indignation nor that of the other passengers.

“The idea of mice on the train, even if they are educated!” shrilled the
elderly lady.

“It’s outrageous!” stormed another lady. “I never heard of such a thing
in all my life!”

“Say, you must take this for a cattle train!” remarked the fat man,
bluntly. “If you do, you’ve got another guess coming.”

“Oh, my dear, sweet mice,” said the tall, slim man, as he took the
animal from Dave and also the one that Phil was holding. “That is King
Hal and this one is President Tom! They are both highly educated. They

“Say, howsoeber did yo’-all git dem trash in dis cah!” demanded the

“I—er—I had them in a cage in my—er—in my suit-case,” the owner of the
mice answered, and now his voice faltered. “I really didn’t think they
would get out.”

“We don’t allow no mice in de sleepin’-cahs!” stormed the porter. “Dogs,
an’ cats, an’ parrots, an’ mice goes in de baggage-cah.”

“Are there any more of them loose?” asked one of the ladies.

“I will see!” cried the tall, slim man. “I forgot about that! Oh, I hope
they are safe! If they are not, what shall I do? I have an engagement in
Jacksonville, and another in St. Augustine, to fill.”

“Do you show ’em on the stage?” snorted the fat man.

“To be sure. Haven’t you heard of me, Professor Richard De Haven, the
world-famous trainer of mice, rats, and cats? I have exhibited my mice
in all the countries of the world, and——”

“Never mind that just now,” interrupted Dunston Porter. “Go and see if
the others are safe, otherwise we’ll have to round up your live-stock
before we go to sleep again.”

“Oh, I shall never sleep another wink in this car!” sighed a lady.

“I shall!” snorted the fat man, “or else get the price of my berth out
of that chap, or the railroad company!”

Professor De Haven ran to his berth and dragged forth a dress-suit-case.
A moment later he uttered a genuine howl of dismay.

“They are all gone!”

“How many?” queried Dave, who had followed him.

“Sixteen of them, not counting the two I have here now! O dear, what
shall I do?” And the professor wrung his hands in despair.

“Sixteen mice at large!” shrieked one of the ladies. “Oh, stop the
train! I want to get off!”

“Can’t stop no train now,” answered the porter. “We’se got to jest catch
dem mice somehow, but I dunno how it’s gwine to be done,” he went on,
scratching his woolly head in perplexity.

“I’ve got a shotgun along,” suggested the fat man. “Might go gunning
with that.”

“I’ll get my cane,” said another man.

“I guess the ladies better retire to the next car,” suggested a third

“Yes, yes, let us go, at once!” cried the elderly lady. “Porter, can I
get a berth there?”

“Sorry, missus, but I dun reckon all de berths on dis yeah train am

“See here!” cried Dave, to Professor De Haven. “If the mice are
educated, can’t you call them to you in some way?”

“To be sure!” cried the professor, struck by the idea. “Why did I not
think of that myself? I was too upset to think of anything. Yes, I can
whistle for them.”

“Whistle for ’em?” snorted the fat man.

“Yes, yes! I always whistle when I feed them. Please be quiet. I shall
have to whistle loudly, for the train makes such a noise and it may be
some of my dear pets may not hear me!”

“Humph! Then you better whistle for all you’re worth!” returned the man
of weight.

Walking slowly up and down the sleeping-car Professor De Haven commenced
to whistle in a clear, steady trill. He kept this up for fully a minute
and by that time several white mice had shown themselves. They were
somewhat scared, but gradually they came to him and ran up on his

“Well, doesn’t that beat the Dutch!” whispered Roger, half in

“I shouldn’t have been so scared if I had known they were educated,”
returned Phil.

“Hush!” said Dave. “Give him a chance to gather them all in.”

Placing the captured mice in their cage, the professor moved up and down
the car once more, opening the berth curtains as he did so. He continued
to emit that same clear trill, and soon his shoulders were full of the
white mice.

“Only one is missing, little General Pinky,” he announced.

“Spit, spat, spow! Where did Pinky go?” murmured Phil.

“Ha! I have him! Dear little Pinky!” cried the professor, as the mouse
dropped onto his shoulder from an upper berth. “Now I have them all,
ladies and gentlemen,” he announced. “You can go to sleep without alarm.
I shall take good care that they do not get away again.”

“I dun reckon I’se gwine to take care of dat!” put in the porter. “Dem
mice am gwine into de baggage-cah dis minit!”

“But, my dear fellow——” broke in the professor.

“I ain’t a-gwine to argy de question, mistah. Da is gwine in de
baggage-cah!” And the porter reached out and caught hold of the cage
containing the mice.

“Then I shall go with them,” answered the professor, resignedly.

“Suit yo’ self, sah.”

“But they wouldn’t hurt a flea!”

“Can’t help it, sah, it’s de baggage-cah fo’ dis collection of wild
animals,” answered the porter, striding off with the cage in his hands,
while the professor followed.

“Talk about something happening!” burst out Roger, when the excitement
was over. “This was the funniest experience I ever had.”

“I am sure I don’t see anything funny about it!” snapped the elderly
lady, who overheard the remark. “I think that man ought to be

“He didn’t expect his mice to get loose,” said Dunston Porter. “Just the
same, he had no right to bring them in here. As the porter said, all
animals must go in the baggage-car.”

“Wonder if he’ll come back,” mused Phil.

“I doubt it,” answered Dave. “Well, now I’m going to try to get a little
sleep,” he added, as he climbed back into his berth. The others followed
suit, and presently one after another dropped into slumber. It may be
added here that Professor De Haven did not show himself again while on
the train, he being afraid of the indignation of those who had been
disturbed by his educated mice.

Early the following morning found our friends in the city of
Jacksonville, which, as my readers must know, is located on the St.
John’s River. They did not wait for breakfast but hurried at once in the
direction of the Hotel Castor, once a leading hostelry of the city, but
which had seen its best day.

“Quite a town,” remarked the senator’s son, as they passed along.

“Jacksonville is now the main city of Florida,” replied Dunston Porter.
“It is a great shipping center, and is also well-known as a winter

“How balmy the weather is!” was Phil’s comment. “Just like spring at

Dave’s uncle had been in Jacksonville several times and knew the way
well. Soon they reached the hotel, and with his heart beating loudly,
Dave hurried up to the desk and asked the clerk if Link Merwell and Nick
Jasniff were stopping there.

“Never heard of them,” replied the clerk, after thinking a moment.

“I have photographs, perhaps you can tell them from that,” went on Dave,
and he drew from his pocket two photographs, taken at different times at
Oak Hall. Each showed a group of students, and in one group was Merwell
and in the other Jasniff.

The clerk looked at the pictures closely.

“What is this, some joke?” he asked, suspiciously.

“No, it is a matter of great importance,” answered Dave. “We must find
those two young men if we possibly can.”

“Well, if they are the pair who were here some days ago, you are too
late. But their names weren’t what you said.”

“What did they call themselves?” asked Dunston Porter.

“John Leeds and Samuel Cross,” answered the clerk. “They had Room 87,
and were here two days.”

“Do you know where they went to?” asked Phil.

“I do not.”

“Can you tell me anything at all about them?” went on Dave. “It is very
important, indeed.”

“I might as well tell you,” put in Mr. Porter, in a low voice. “They
were a pair of criminals.”

“You don’t say! Well, do you know, I didn’t much like their looks,”
returned the clerk. “And come to think of it, one acted rather
scared-like, the fellow calling himself Leeds—this one,” and he pointed
to the picture of Link Merwell.

“And you haven’t any idea where they went to?”

“Not the slightest. They simply paid their bill and went away.”

“Did they have any trunks sent off?” asked Roger. “We might find the
expressman,” he explained, to the others.

“No, they had nothing but hand baggage.”

“What—can you remember that?” questioned Dave.

“Yes, each had a suit-case and a small valise,—kind of a tool-bag

“Better look for that schooner, Dave,” said his uncle, in a low voice,
and in a few minutes more they left the hotel, telling the clerk that
they might be back.

“Shall we get breakfast now?” questioned the senator’s son. He was
beginning to grow hungry.

“You can get something to eat if you wish, Roger,” answered Dave. “I am
going to try to locate that schooner first.”

“No, I’ll wait too, then,” said Roger.

The shipping along the St. John’s River at Jacksonville is rather
extensive. But Dunston Porter knew his business and went direct to one
of the offices where he knew he could find out all about the ships going
out under charter and otherwise.

“We want to find out about a schooner named the _Emma Brown_, or
_Black_, or _Jones_, or some common name like that,” said Dave’s uncle,
to the elderly man in charge. “She was in this harbor several days ago.
I don’t know if she has sailed or not.”

“_Emma Brown_, eh?” mused the shipping-clerk. “Never heard of such a

“Maybe she was the _Emma Black_, or _Emma Jones_,” suggested Dave.

“No schooner by that name here,—at least not for the past month or two.
We had an _Emma Blackney_ here about six weeks ago. But she sailed for
Nova Scotia.”

“Well, try to think of some ship that might be named something like what
we said,” pleaded Dave. “This is very important.”

“A ship that might have sailed from here in the past two or three days,”
added Roger.

The elderly shipping-clerk leaned back in his chair and ran his hand
through his hair, thoughtfully.

“Maybe you’re looking for the _Emma Brower_,” he said. “But she isn’t a
schooner, she’s a bark. She left this port yesterday morning.”

“Bound for where?” asked Dave, eagerly.

“Bound for Barbados.”

“Where is that?” questioned Phil. “I’ve heard of the place, but I can’t
just locate it.”

“It’s an island of the British West Indies,” answered Dunston Porter.
“It lies about five hundred miles southeast of Porto Rico.”

“If that’s the case, then good-by to Merwell and Jasniff,” murmured
Phil. “We’ll never catch them in the wide world.”


“They may have gone on some other vessel,” remarked Roger, after a
pause. “Let us find out what other ships have left here during the past
few days.”

“Say,” said Phil, to the elderly shipping-clerk. “Maybe you know my
father or some of the captains working for him. His name is Lawrence, of
the Lawrence Lines.”

“Indeed!” cried the shipping-clerk. “Well, of course I know him! Are you
Phil Lawrence?” he questioned, eagerly.

“I am.”

“Now isn’t that strange!” The man put out his hand. “I don’t suppose you
know me. My name is Sam Castner. I was once a supercargo for your
father, on the _Arvinus_. You took a trip in her with your mother, when
you were about ten years old,—down to Tampa and back, from

“That’s right, so I did!” cried the shipowner’s son. “I remember you
now. We went fishing together.”

“So we did, Mr. Lawrence. My, how you’ve grown since then!” added the
former supercargo, as he gazed at Phil’s tall and well-built form.

“Mr. Castner, we are in a hurry, and maybe you can help us a good deal,”
went on Phil. “We are after two fellows who we think sailed in that
schooner, or bark, or some vessel that left here within the past two
days. They were young fellows, not much older than us boys. Will you aid
us in getting on their track?”

“Sure I will,” was the ready answer. “What do you know about ’em?”

“All we know is that they went under the names of Leeds and Cross,”
answered Dave. “But those are not their right names.”

“And that they are supposed to have sailed on the ship known by a common
name—_Emma_ something or other,” put in Roger.

“I can soon find out who sailed on the _Emma Brower_” answered Sam
Castner. “Come with me to the next shipping office.”

He called another clerk to take charge, and accompanied the party to the
next shipping office. On the way he was introduced to Dave and the

“One of your father’s vessels is in this harbor now,” he said to Phil.

“What ship is that?”

“The _Golden Eagle_, Captain Sanders.”

“Captain Sanders!” cried Dave. “Do you mean Bob Sanders, who used to
sail on the _Stormy Petrel_ with Captain Marshall?”

“The same, Mr. Porter. Then you know him?”

“Indeed I do!” returned Dave. “Why, I sailed with him in the South

“Well, he’s here.”

“We’ll have to try to see him before we leave,” said Phil. “He was a
nice fellow.”

At the second shipping office further inquiries were made concerning the
sailing of the _Emma Brower_. It was learned that the bark had carried
not more than half a cargo for Barbados and eight passengers. The names
of Merwell, Jasniff, Leeds, or Cross did not appear on the passenger

“Did anybody here see those passengers?” asked Dunston Porter.

“I did,” returned a young clerk. “I was aboard just before she sailed,
and I saw all of them.”

“Were there two young fellows, chums?” asked Dave.

“There were, two tall chaps, a bit older than you.”

“Did they look like these fellows?” and now our hero brought out the
photographs he had used before.

“They certainly did!” cried the clerk. “I remember this fellow
distinctly,” and he pointed to Jasniff’s picture, taken just before that
individual had run away from Oak Hall.

“Then they sailed, just as we feared!” returned Dave, and there was
something like a groan in his voice.

“Wonder if they took the jewels,” murmured Roger.

“Most likely, Roger,” answered Dunston Porter.

“But what would they do with them in such an out-of-the-way place as

“I rather imagine their plan is to keep quiet for a while, until this
affair blows over. Then they’ll either return to the United States, or
take a British vessel for England. Barbados is an English possession,
you must remember, and a regular line of steamers sail from there to

“I wonder if we couldn’t charter a steam tug and go after the bark?”
mused Dave.

“It might be done,” returned his uncle. “But I doubt if we could catch
the bark, or even locate her. She has too much of a start.”

“Was the bark going to stop at any ports along the way?” asked Phil.

“She was not,” answered the young shipping-clerk.

“Then there is nothing to do but to sail for Barbados after them!” cried

“Sail after them—that far!” ejaculated the senator’s son.

“Yes, Roger. Of course you haven’t got to go, or Phil either. But I
think my uncle and I ought to go after ’em. Don’t you think so, Uncle

“I don’t know—perhaps,” was the slow reply. “We had better make a few
more inquiries first, Dave.”

“Oh, yes, let us find out all we can about Merwell and Jasniff.”

They left the shipping office and walked back to the hotel. Here they
had a late breakfast and then commenced to make diligent inquiries
concerning all the movements of Merwell and Jasniff. They soon learned
that the pair had had plenty of money to spend, and that they had bought
many things for the trip to Barbados, even taking along an extra supply
of the Turkish cigarettes that came in the boxes with bands of blue and

“I think that that proves my clew of the cigarette box is correct,” said

They visited the local pawnbrokers, and from one of them learned that
Merwell had pawned two diamonds for two hundred and fifty dollars. The
rascal had told the pawnbroker that the gems were the property of a rich
lady who was awaiting a remittance from France.

“Do these diamonds belong to the Carwith collection?” asked Roger.

“That remains to be found out,” answered Dunston Porter, and then he
told the pawnbroker to be sure and not let the gems go out of his
possession until a further investigation could be made. The man grumbled
somewhat, but when Dave’s uncle spoke about calling in the officers of
the law, he subsided.

“Very well, I’ll keep them,” he said. “And if anything is wrong, I’ll do
what the law requires, even if I lose by it.”

“Let us visit the _Golden Eagle_ and see Bob Sanders,” said Phil, late
in the afternoon. “Perhaps he knows something about the _Emma Brower_,
and her trip.”

The others were willing, and sundown found them aboard the vessel
belonging to Phil’s father. Hardly had they stepped on deck when a
grizzled old tar, with white hair, rushed up to Dave.

“If it ain’t Dave Porter!” he burst out. “Yes, sir, Dave, wot I haven’t
seen in a year o’ Sundays! How be you, my boy?” And he caught the youth
by both hands.

“Billy Dill!” exclaimed our hero, as his face lit up with pleasure.
“Where in the world did you drop from? I thought you had given up the

Billy Dill, as my old readers will remember, was the tar who aided Dave
in locating his Uncle Dunston. As related in “Dave Porter in the South
Seas,” Billy Dill had traveled with our hero to that portion of the
globe, in the _Stormy Petrel_, of which Bob Sanders was, at the time,
second mate. On returning home, the old tar had been placed in a
sanitarium and then a sailors’ home, and Dave had imagined he was still
in the latter retreat.

“Couldn’t give up the sea, Dave,” replied the old sailor. “I tried my
best, but it wasn’t no use. So I goes to Phil’s old man, an’ I says,
says I, ‘Give me a berth an’ anything I’m wuth,’ an’ he says, says he,
‘How would ye like to sail with Cap’n Sanders, wot sailed with you to
the South Seas?’ ‘Fust-rate,’ says I; an’ here I be, an’ likes it very

“Well, I’m glad to see you looking so well,” answered Dave.

“It’s the sea air done it, lad. When I was ashore I jest knowed I wanted
sea air. No more homes ashore fer Billy Dill, not much!” And the old tar
shook his head with conviction.

A few minutes later, while the old sailor was shaking hands with the
others, and asking and answering questions, the captain of the ship came

“Very glad indeed to see you again,” said Captain Sanders, with a broad
smile. He looked closely at the boys. “Grown some since I saw you last.”

“And you have advanced, too,” answered Dave, with a grin. “Let me
congratulate you on becoming a captain, Mr. Sanders.”

“It’s all through the kindness of Mr. Lawrence and Captain Marshall. If
it wasn’t for them, I shouldn’t be in this berth.”

“How is Captain Marshall?” asked our hero. The man mentioned was the
commander of the ship in which Dave had sailed to the South Seas.

“First-rate, the last I heard of him. He sailed from San Francisco to
Manila ten days ago.”

“Captain Sanders, what port are you bound for next?” questioned Phil,
after greetings had been exchanged all around and a number of other
questions had been asked.

“No port as yet, Phil. I’m waiting for orders.”

“Have you any idea where you may go to?”

“Something was said about a cargo for Porto Rico. But nothing was
settled. I’ll know in a couple of days, I think.”

“Do any of our ships ever sail to Barbados?”

“Not very often. I could have had a cargo for that port from here, but
the firm didn’t take it, and it went to the _Emma Brower_.”

“The very ship we are after!” murmured Dave.

“Could you get another cargo for Barbados, do you think?”

“I don’t know—maybe. Why?”

“We want to go there!”

“You do! That isn’t much of a place.”

“But we have a reason for wanting to go,” went on Phil. And then,
knowing he could trust Captain Sanders, he told the story of the stolen
gems and the search for Merwell and Jasniff.

“Humph! that’s a queer yarn,” mused the captain of the _Golden Eagle_.
“Supposing I got a cargo for that port—you’d go along?”

“I would,” answered the shipowner’s son, promptly. “That is, if dad
would let me—and I’m sure he would.”

“So would I go,” added Dave.

“I’d have to go—to look after the others,” said Dunston Porter, with a

“Well, you can’t leave me in the cold,” came from Roger. “If the rest
went, I’d go too.”

“Come down to the cabin and talk it over,” said Captain Sanders, and led
the way across the deck and down the companionway.

Once below they were invited to remain to supper and did so. While at
the meal the boys and Dunston Porter told all they knew concerning the
case against Merwell and Jasniff, and the captain told what he knew
about the _Emma Brower_ and her commander.

“I am going to telegraph to my father about this,” said Phil, a little
later. “If this vessel can get a cargo for Barbados she might as well
sail for that port as anywhere.”

“Well, I’m willing,” answered Captain Sanders. “When will you send word
to him?”

“Right away—I’ll send him a telegram at once.”

“I hope it turns out all right,” said Dave. “I feel it is my duty to get
after Merwell and Jasniff, and do it as soon as possible.”


The next three days were busy ones for the boys and Dunston Porter.
Telegrams were sent back and forth between Phil and his father, and also
between Dave and Mr. Wadsworth.

“Here is news!” cried our hero, after receiving one of the messages.
“Just listen to this.” And he read the following, from the jewelry

  “Clew in Boston proved to be false, also clew in New York. Hope you
  are on the right track and get gems. Spare no expense if you feel
  you are right.”

“And here is a telegram from my dad,” said Phil. “He tells us—Captain
Sanders and myself—to use our own judgment.”

“Can you get a cargo for Barbados, Phil?” asked Roger.

“We can get a half-cargo.”

“At once?”

“Yes, that is, inside of two days.”

“Then by all means take it, Phil!” cried Dave. “I know Mr. Wadsworth
will stand the extra expense. And if he won’t, I know my father will.”

“Where is your Uncle Dunston?” questioned the shipowner’s son.

“He’s out on a little business trip. He got a telegram from New York
that upset him somewhat. I hope it isn’t anything serious,” added
Dave, soberly.

The boys rushed off to talk the matter over with Captain Sanders. They
found the master of the vessel at the shipping office, talking over
the matter of a cargo for Barbados.

“Four men want to take passage with us, if we go,” said the captain.
“That will help pay for the trip, since they are willing to pay good
passage money.”

“We want you to take that half-cargo,” said Phil, and explained

“All right, if you say so,” answered Captain Sanders. “But you had
better speak to Mr. Porter about it first.”

Half an hour later Dunston Porter came driving up in a cab. He was
plainly excited.

“I’ve got to go to New York at once,” he said. “I must look after some
valuable investments in Wall Street. Do you think you boys can get
along alone?”

“I think we can, Uncle Dunston,” answered Dave. “You know we are used
to taking care of ourselves,” and he smiled faintly.

“Then go ahead and do as you think best.”

“We want Captain Sanders to start for Barbados as soon as he can,”
went on our hero, and told of the telegrams received.

A general talk followed, lasting until Dunston Porter had to ride away
to catch the train for New York.

“You must be right, and Merwell and Jasniff must be guilty,” he said.
“And if they are, spare no expense in catching them. I think the
quicker you start for Barbados the better. And as soon as you arrive
do your best to locate the rascals and have the authorities arrest
them. And above all things, keep your eyes open for the jewels, for we
need them much more than we need to catch Merwell and Jasniff. To
catch the rascals and miss the gems will do us no good.”

“I understand, Uncle Dunston,” answered Dave. “And if the jewels are
anywhere around we’ll locate them.”

“Then good-by and good luck!” finished Dunston Porter, and in a minute
more he was off.

As soon as he was gone the boys and Captain Sanders commenced
preparations for the trip to Barbados. An extra number of longshoremen
were engaged, so that the half-cargo to be taken along could be gotten
aboard quickly, and the boys spent their time in buying such things as
they needed for the trip.

“They tell me it is pretty warm down there,” said Roger. “So we had
better buy some thin suits.”

“And we had better go armed,” added Phil. “No telling what trouble we
may run into, in trying to corner Merwell and Jasniff. Merwell is no
great fighter, but Jasniff is a brute.”

“Yes, I’ll take no chances with Jasniff,” answered Dave. He had not
forgotten his quarrel at Oak Hall with that bully, and how Jasniff had
attacked him with an Indian club, as related in detail in “Dave
Porter’s Return to School.”

At last all was in readiness for the trip, and the boys and the other
passengers, four burly Englishmen, went aboard. Fortunately, the
_Golden Eagle_ was well provided with staterooms, so there was but
little crowding. Dave had a small room to himself and next to him were
his chums, with Captain Sanders and the first mate opposite. Billy
Dill was, of course, in the forecastle with the other sailors.

“It’s grand to have you along ag’in,” he said, to Dave and Phil.
“Seems like old times, when we sailed the Pacific.”

“So it does,” answered our hero.

“Only ye ain’t a-lookin’ for no uncle this trip, be you?” And the old
tar chuckled.

“No, Billy, we are looking for somebody quite different—two rascals
who ran away with a lot of diamonds.”

“Mackerel an’ codfish! Ye don’t tell me, Dave! Your diamonds?”

“No, but some diamonds that were left with a close friend of mine. If
they are not recovered, my friend will be almost ruined.”

“Jumpin’ dogfish! Then I hope you catch them lubbers! If so be I can
help ye any, don’t be afeered to call on me,” added the old sailor,

“All right; I’ll remember that,” replied Dave.

Early the next day the _Golden Eagle_ slipped down the St. John’s
River and past the jetties and the lighthouse into the Atlantic Ocean.
It was warm and clear, with a good wind blowing from the west, an
ideal day for the departure. The boys remained on deck, watching the
scenery of the winding stream and then the fading shoreline, and then
went below to arrange their belongings, for the trip to Barbados would
occupy some time.

“I hope we don’t get seasick,” remarked the senator’s son.

“Well, if we do, we’ll have to stand it,” replied Phil. “But don’t
let’s think about it.”

“What I am wishing, is that we’ll have good weather and a quick
passage,” remarked Dave. “We can’t get to Barbados any too quick for

“I was looking up the place in the shipping-guide,” went on Roger.
“It’s not much of an island, only twenty-one miles long by fifteen
wide. The whole population is only about two hundred thousand, mostly

“The smaller the population the easier it will be to find Merwell and
Jasniff,” was the comment of the shipowner’s son.

“Well, there may be a good many hiding-places on an island twenty-one
miles long by fifteen miles wide,” added Dave, with a grin.

“Oh, we’ll rake the island with a fine-tooth comb, if we have to,”
cried Roger.

“Roger, was your father quite willing to let you go on the trip?”

“Yes. He and mother are now in Washington, you know, and as the school
is closed, I’d either have to go to the Capital, or stay with you. And
I told him I’d much rather be with you and Phil.”

“And we are glad to have you with us!” cried Phil, and Dave nodded, to
show that he felt the same way about it.

“What do you think about the other passengers?” asked Phil, in a lower
voice, so that nobody else might hear.

“I don’t think I’ll like them very much,” replied the senator’s son.
“That man named Geswick is very loud and dictatorial.”

“Yes, and the chap named Pardell is little better,” returned Dave.

“What line are they in, Phil, did you hear?”

“Oh, they are traveling, that’s all. They came to this country from
London, and they are going back by the way of Barbados.”

“They seem to have some money.”

“Yes, but Captain Sanders told me that they hang on to it pretty
well—more so than he at first expected they would.”

The first day passed rapidly and the _Golden Eagle_ made good headway.
The boys spent most of the time on deck, amusing themselves as best
they could. They talked to Captain Sanders and his mate, and also
visited with Billy Dill. Occasionally they conversed with the four
Englishmen, but they noticed that the Britishers were inclined to keep
to themselves.

“I guess it is just as well, too,” said Dave to his chums. “They are
not our sort at all.”

“Unless I miss my guess, they have had some sort of quarrel among
themselves,” remarked Phil. “They were disputing over something early
this morning and again just before dinner.”

Several days passed, and the boys commenced to feel quite at home on
the ship. None of them had been seasick, for which all were thankful.

“The weather has been in our favor,” said Captain Sanders. “If it
keeps on like this, we’ll make Barbados in record time.”

“Billy Dill said he smelt a storm,” returned Dave.

“Hum! Is that so?” mused the captain. “Well, he’s a pretty good
weather-sharp, I must confess. I’ll take another look at the glass,”
and he walked off to do so.

The storm came up during the night, and Dave was awakened to find
himself rolling from one side of his berth to the other. He arose, and
as he did so he heard an exclamation from Roger.

“What is it, Roger?” he called out.

“I—I guess I’m seasick!” answered the senator’s son. “Gracious, how
this old tub rolls!”

“Don’t call the _Golden Eagle_ a tub!” returned Phil. “Say, can I do
anything for you?” he went on sympathetically.

“Yes, tell Captain Sanders to keep the boat from rocking.”

“Better lie down again, Roger,” said Dave, entering the stateroom.
“It’s a little better than standing up.”

“Oh, I—I guess I’m not so very ba-badly off,” gasped the sufferer.
“But I do wish the storm was over.”

“We all wish that.”

But, instead of clearing away, the storm increased in violence, and by
nine o’clock in the morning the wind was blowing close to a gale. Both
the captain and the mate were on deck, and the former advised the boys
and the other passengers to remain below. Two of the Englishmen were
very seasick and found all manner of fault because of the storm.

“I’d never have come on this treasure hunt had I known I was to be so
sick!” groaned one.

“What bloody luck!” said the other sick man. “All the pirates’ gold in
the world is not worth it!”

“Stow it!” cried the man named Geswick. “You know you weren’t to
mention what we were after.”

“Nobody can hear us, in this storm,” replied the first man who had

“Those boys might hear,” put in the fellow named Pardell.

“Oh, well, they are only boys. Besides, they’d not dare to follow us
up to Cave Island——”

“Hush, I tell you!” cried Geswick, savagely. “Do learn to keep your
tongue quiet.” And then the men continued to talk in whispers.

Dave had been passing the staterooms of the Englishmen during this
conversation and he could not help but hear what was said. When he
rejoined his chums he told them of the talk.

“They must be on the hunt after pirates’ gold,” said Phil. “Well, they
are not the first to do that kind of searching. Party after party has
sailed down here for the same purpose.”

“Yes, and each party has been unsuccessful, so far as I know,”
answered Dave.

“Perhaps they have some extra-good clew,” suggested Roger, trying to
forget his seasickness.

“Perhaps,” returned Dave. “Well, if they can find any pirates’ gold on
any of these islands they are welcome to it, so far as I am concerned.
All I want to get hold of are the Carwith jewels.”


“How much longer do you think this storm will last?”

It was Dave who asked this question, of Captain Sanders, when the
latter came down to get a bite for breakfast. To get a regular meal,
with the vessel pitching and tossing wildly, was out of the question.

“I don’t know, Dave,” was the grave answer. “I am hoping the wind will
die down by sunset. But the storm may last several days.”

“Are we in any danger?” questioned Phil.

“There is always danger during a storm,” answered the master of the
_Golden Eagle_. “But I hope to weather this blow without much

“Can we be of any assistance?” went on our hero.

“No, boys. There is nothing you can do but keep yourselves from
falling overboard. How is Roger?”

“A little better.”

“I heard that two of those Englishmen are pretty sick,” went on
Captain Sanders, with a faint smile.

“They are.”

“It’s queer to me that they sailed with us. It’s not such a pleasant

“I overheard a little of their talk,” answered Dave, and, knowing he
could trust the captain, he related what had been said.

“Pirates’ gold, eh?” muttered the master of the ship. “Most of those
yarns are fairy-stories. I’ve known expedition after expedition to be
fitted out, to search for treasures said to be hidden by the old-time
buccaneers, but I never saw a man yet who got even a smell of a
treasure. Where were they going for it, Dave?”

“I don’t know. I think one of them mentioned Cave Island. Is there
such a place?”

“There may be, although I never heard of it. Many of the islands in
this part of the globe, being of volcanic origin, contain caves.”

“They must expect to get to Cave Island from Barbados.”

“More than likely,” answered the captain, and then hurried on deck

The storm continued for the remainder of the day, but by nightfall the
wind commenced to die down, and by midnight the clouds had passed and
the stars were shining brightly. In the morning the big sun came out
of the sea to the east like a globe of fire.

“Now we are going to have some warm weather,” remarked Billy Dill, and
the old tar was right. As the sun mounted in the heavens it grew
positively hot, until the boys had to go to their staterooms and don
thinner clothing. With the departure of the storm, Roger’s seasickness
left him, but the two Englishmen remained slightly unwell for some
time longer.

“Phew! how warm it is!” remarked Phil. “And just think of it!—up at
home they are having snow and ice!”

With the passing of the storm, the boys settled down as before. They
saw but little of the Englishmen, especially of the pair who were
sick. But one day something happened which came close to causing a

The boys were seated on the rear deck, talking over matters in
general, when a strong puff of wind caused a sheet of paper to blow
from somewhere ahead towards Dave. He reached out and caught the sheet
just as it was about to go overboard.

“Hello, what’s this?” he cried, as he looked the sheet over. “Must be
some sort of a chart.”

“It is,” answered Roger, gazing at the paper. “See, here is a spot
marked Barbados, and another marked Cave Island, a little to the

“Why, look what it says, up here!” cried Phil. “’_Map of the Don
Amorandos Treasure, buried in 1715_.’ Say, do you think those

“Hi, you! Give me that map!” bawled a voice from near by, and with a
very red face, the Englishman named Geswick bore down on the boys.
“How dare you look at this?” he went on, as he snatched the sheet out
of their hands and folded it up.

“We wanted to see what it was and whom it belonged to,” answered Dave,
as calmly as he could.

“You had no right to look at it,” stormed Andrew Geswick. “That is
private property.”

“Then why did you let it fall in our hands?” asked Phil.

“If it hadn’t been for Dave, it would have gone overboard,” put in

“Humph!” The man fell back a little. “Well, I am thankful for that.
But you boys had no right to look at it,” he grumbled.

“Why, it’s only a chart, isn’t it?” asked the senator’s son,

“Never mind what it is!” answered Andrew Geswick, sharply. “Did you
read what was on it?” he demanded, an instant later.

“We saw it was a chart,” answered Dave, and looked knowingly at his
chums, to make them keep silent.

“It—er—it belongs to Mr. Pardell and he is very particular about it,”
went on the Englishman. And then without another word he walked away.

“My, isn’t he sweet!” muttered Phil.

“Just as sweet as a can of sour milk,” answered the senator’s son.
“Dave, I guess you wish you had allowed that map to blow overboard.”

“Not exactly that, Roger. But he might have been a little more
thankful for saving something that he thinks so valuable.”

“Do you think there is anything in this treasure idea?” questioned
Phil, after a pause.

“No, Phil. That is, there may be some lost treasure, secreted by the
pirates and buccaneers of old, but I doubt if anybody will ever find
it—excepting by accident.”

“If there was a treasure on this Cave Island, we might hunt for it,”
went on the shipowner’s son.

“Phil, don’t let that bee get into your bonnet!” cried Roger. “Many a
man has gone crazy looking for pirates’ gold. Better drop it, and
think of how we are to round up Merwell and Jasniff.”

“Well, I’d like to go to Cave Island anyway,” said Phil. “We might——”
And then he stopped short, as he saw Geswick and Pardell near by. The
Englishmen had been listening to part of the conversation.

“So you’d like to go to Cave Island, would you?” cried Andrew Geswick,
his face red with rage. “You take my advice and keep away from that

“Say, do you own that island?” demanded Phil, getting angry because of
the other’s dictatorial manner.

“No, we don’t own the island. But we——” Andrew Geswick stopped short
as his companion plucked him by the sleeve. “Never mind, you keep away
from it, that’s all,” he growled.

“We’ll go there if we want to,” called out Phil.

“If you do you may get into trouble,” called back Pardell. Then he and
his companion disappeared in the direction of the cabin.

“They are touchy enough,” was Roger’s comment. “Phil, you had better
drop Cave Island after this.”

“I’ll talk about it as much as I please,” grumbled the shipowner’s
son. “Those fellows make me tired. They act as if they owned the

Sunday was a quiet day on shipboard. The Englishmen did not show
themselves excepting at meals, and the boys were content to leave them
severely alone. They told Captain Sanders of the chart and of the talk
that had occurred.

“Let them alone, lads,” said the commander of the _Golden Eagle_.
“I’ll venture to say that sooner or later they’ll find out they are on
a wild goose chase.”

“The only one that seems to be anyway nice is the fellow named Giles
Borden,” said Dave. “He is rather quiet. The other fellow, Rumney, is
almost as bad as Geswick and Pardell.”

“So I’ve noticed, Dave. And the queer part of it is, Borden paid for
the passages. He appears to be the only one with money.”

“Maybe he is backing the expedition,” suggested Roger.

“I’m sorry for him if he is,” answered the captain.

The Bahama Islands had been passed, and now they were in the vicinity
of Porto Rico. Then commenced the trip southward, through the Lesser

“This is the spot for active volcanoes,” observed Phil. “Don’t you
remember how the Island of Martinique suffered?”

“Oh, don’t speak of volcanoes!” cried Roger. “I have no use for
them—or for earthquakes either.”

“There must be hundreds of islands around here,” observed Dave. “The
charts are full of them.”

“That must make navigation difficult,” came from Phil.

“Oh, I reckon Captain Sanders knows what he is about.”

“Wonder how soon we’ll run into the harbor at Bridgetown?” mused the
shipowner’s son, the place he mentioned being the main seaport of

“Inside of three days, I hope, Phil,” answered our hero.

“Merwell and Jasniff must be there by this time.”

“It’s more than likely—unless something happened to delay them,”
returned Dave.

At last came the day when they sighted Barbados and ran into the
harbor of Bridgetown. The place was a picturesque one, but the boys
had just then no time to view the scenery or the shipping. As soon as
it could be accomplished, they went ashore, and Captain Sanders went
with them, leaving his vessel in charge of the first mate.

“You may have trouble with those two rascals, if you find them,” said
the commander of the _Golden Eagle_. “I’ll be on deck to help you all
I can.”

“Shall we go to the hotel first?” questioned Roger.

“Might as well,” answered Phil. “They’d strike for the hotel first
thing, after a sea trip like that. Maybe they were both seasick.”

“I hope they were—it would serve them right,” growled the senator’s

Dave and the captain were willing, and a little later walked into the
Royal George Hotel. Here the boys looked at the register, but found no
names that they could recognize. Then Dave brought out his photographs
of Merwell and Jasniff and showed them to the hotel proprietor and his

“Nobody here that looks like either of them,” said the proprietor,
while his clerk also shook his head.

“They came in on the _Emma Brower_,” said Captain Sanders.

“The _Emma Brower_!” cried the hotel man. “Is she in?”

“Why, I suppose so,” and now the commander of the _Golden Eagle_
showed his surprise.

“She wasn’t in last night, and the agents were a bit worried about
her. I know the agents personally, you see.”

“Then maybe she isn’t in yet!” cried Dave. “Let us go down to the
docks and find out about this.”

They lost no time in visiting the docks and the shipping offices.
There they learned that nothing had been heard of the _Emma Brower_
since the vessel had left Jacksonville.

“We must have passed her on the way!” cried Dave, to Captain Sanders.
“Could we do that?”

“Perhaps, since we only had half a cargo, Dave. Besides, maybe that
vessel was damaged by the storm.”

“I wonder how soon she will get in?” mused Roger.

At this the captain shrugged his shoulders.

“It is impossible to say. I’ve known a ship to be a week and sometimes
nearly a month overdue. And I’ve known a ship to drop out altogether,”
he added, soberly.

“Oh, don’t say you think she has gone down!” cried Dave, in alarm.

“Let us hope not, Dave.”

The day passed, and also the next and the next. The cargo of the
_Golden Eagle_ was unloaded, and the Englishmen, who had been
passengers, left for parts unknown. As each day slipped by, Dave grew
more serious. What if the _Emma Brower_ had gone down, carrying
Merwell, Jasniff, and the Carwith jewels with her?


At the end of a week Dave was more worried than ever. Each day he and
his chums went down to the shipping offices and each day returned to
the hotel disappointed. Not a word had been heard concerning the
missing vessel and those on board.

The _Golden Eagle_ was all ready to sail on her return trip to the
United States, but Phil told Captain Sanders to wait.

“Perhaps we’ll hear to-day,” he said, and this was repeated day after

It was very warm and the boys were glad they had brought along some
thin clothing. They scarcely knew what to do with themselves, and Dave
was particularly sober.

“I suppose Mr. Wadsworth and the rest are waiting to hear from me,” he
said to his chums. “But what is the use of sending a message when I
haven’t anything to say?”

Another Sunday passed, and on Monday the boys visited the _Golden
Eagle_, and then went with Captain Sanders to the nearest shipping

“Something is going on!” cried the senator’s son, as he noticed an
unusual crowd congregated. “Must be news of some sort.”

“Let us find out what it is!” returned our hero, quickly.

“The _Emma Brower_ has been heard from,” said a man, standing near.
“That’s the vessel that was missing, don’t you know,” he added.

“What of her?” asked Dave.

“Went down in that terrible storm we had about ten days ago.”

“Down!” gasped all of the boys, while Captain Sanders looked the
concern he felt.

“So they say. I do not know the particulars,” went on the man as he
walked away.

It did not take the boys and the captain long to get into the shipping
office and there they learned as many of the particulars as were
known. A tramp steamer from Porto Rico had come in bringing word that
she had sighted portions of a wreck while out at sea, and an
investigation proved the same to belong to the _Emma Brower_. A
portion of a small boat had been picked up, but nothing had been seen
of sailors or passengers.

“Where was this?” questioned Dave, when he could get the chance.

“The captain of the steamer says about two miles west of Cave Island.”

“Cave Island!” cried Phil. “Why, that is where those Englishmen were
going to hunt for that pirates’ treasure.”

“Two miles from Cave Island,” mused our hero. “If the _Emma Brower_
went down, perhaps those in some of the small boats got to that

“Perhaps,” answered Captain Sanders.

The boys and the captain remained at the shipping office for an hour,
getting all the details possible concerning the wreck, including the
exact latitude and longitude where the vessel was supposed to have
gone down.

“Let us sail for that spot and see if we can discover anything,”
suggested Dave, as the party came away. “We may find some of those in
the small boats.”

“Just what I was going to suggest,” said Phil.

“Well, it’s up to you, Phil, to say what we shall do,” answered
Captain Sanders. “Your father sent me word that I was to look to you
for orders—that is, within reasonable limits,—and I know you won’t be

“Well, we want to get back to the United States, anyway,” said Roger.
“And this would be on our way.”

“How soon can you get ready for the trip?” asked our hero, of the
master of the _Golden Eagle_.

“We are all provisioned, so it won’t take but a few hours,” was the

“Then let us sail to-day.”

“You don’t want to wait for more word?” asked Roger.

“No, Roger; I don’t think it will do any good,” answered our hero.

The matter was discussed at the hotel, and a little later the boys
paid their bill and had their baggage taken to the ship. In the
meantime Captain Sanders had prepared for the trip, and two hours
later the _Golden Eagle_ was moving out of the harbor of Bridgetown.

“How long will it take us to run to that spot where they think the
ship went down?” asked Phil.

“Not more than a day and a half—it depends somewhat on the wind,”
answered Captain Sanders.

The boys tried to settle themselves, but this was impossible. Dave
could not keep still, and paced the deck by the hour, or scanned the
bosom of the ocean with the marine glasses Captain Sanders loaned him.

Only once came a thrill of excitement. A bit of wreckage was sighted
and the ship sailed toward it. It was a yardarm, and to it were lashed
a cask and several boxes, one of the latter bearing the name _Emma
Brower_. Not a sign of a human being could be seen.

“If a man was on that wreckage the storm tore him loose,” said Captain

“How terrible!” whispered Roger.

“And think of it, it may have been Merwell, or Jasniff, or both of
them!” returned Phil.

On the following day they reached the latitude and longitude as given
by the captain of the tramp steamer. In that vicinity they saw some
smaller wreckage, but nothing of importance.

“Cave Island is two miles east of here,” said Captain Sanders.

“Any other islands around?” asked Dave.

“Nothing within fifteen or twenty miles.”

“Then, if the crew and passengers took to the small boats, wouldn’t
they be likely to steer for Cave Island?”

“I think so,—that is, if the storm let ’em do so. It might be the wind
would force ’em the other way. But I think it would be a wise move to
sail for Cave Island and take a look around. The one trouble is, so I
learned at Barbados, the island hasn’t any sort of harbor. We’ll have
to lay-to outside and go ashore in a small boat.”

“Perhaps it won’t be necessary to go ashore,” said Roger.

“Oh, it can be done easily enough.”

The bow of the _Golden Eagle_ was turned eastward. They ran slowly,
all hands keeping their eyes open for more signs of the wreck.

Presently they came in sight of the reef outside of Cave Island. It
formed a large horseshoe, and beyond was the island itself, long, low,
and irregular, the shore fringed with tropical trees and bushes and
the center rocky and barren.

“This ain’t no easy place to land,” said Billy Dill to Dave, as the
sails were lowered and the ship was brought about. “If them critters
from the wreck got here in their small boats in the dark they must
have had a fierce time o’ it!”

“I don’t see a sign of a boat anywhere,” said Dave, as he swept the
reef and the shore with the glasses. “And not a sign of a human being
either,” he added, with a sinking heart.

“That’s queer, too, lad, if they came here. Fust thing I’d think
about, if I was wrecked, would be to put up a signal o’ distress.”

It was growing dark, yet Dave and his chums were anxious to go ashore,
to see if they could discover anything concerning those who had been
wrecked, so Captain Sanders ordered out the largest of the small

“I’ll go with you,” he said. “And we can take Billy Dill and Smiley.”

“We had better take some things along—in case we remain ashore all
night,” said Dave.

“To be sure. And we’ll go armed, lad—no telling what may turn up.”

“Any wild animals here?” questioned the senator’s son.

“I don’t know, but I don’t think so—that is, not large ones. You’ll
find rabbits maybe, and any number of birds.”

Soon the small boat was ready to go ashore. Billy Dill and the other
sailor, Smiley, were at the oars, while Captain Sanders was in the
stern, to steer and give directions.

“If it starts to blow better move off a bit,” said the captain to the
mate. “No use in taking chances around these reefs.”

“I’ll watch out,” was the answer. “I know just what a blow down here
means, and I’ll keep her off.”

“Do you think we’ll have another storm?” asked Dave.

“Can’t tell about that, lad. Sometimes a storm comes up pretty quick
in these parts.”

Soon the small boat was close to the breakers. The water boiled and
foamed on every side, and it must be confessed that Roger was somewhat
scared. Dave and Phil did not mind, although wishing it was over.

“To starboard, hard!” shouted the captain, when the first of the
breakers was encountered. “Now ease off, lads! Lively now, and hard!
Starboard again! Keep it up! There, straight ahead! Bend to it, bend I
tell you! A little more to starboard—not too much! There, now we are
out of it!” And in a moment more the small boat was out of the
breakers and riding into a tiny cove, where there was a stretch of
sand, dotted with palms. The two sailors were all but exhausted and
glad enough to rest up and allow the boat to drift ashore.

“So this is Cave Island?” remarked Dave, as he hopped out on the sand,
followed by his chums. “Well, it doesn’t look much different from the
other islands in this portion of the globe.”

After everybody had alighted, the small boat was pulled up on the sand
and tied to a palm tree.

“What’s to do next?” asked the shipowner’s son, as he looked
inquiringly at Dave. “This is your expedition, Dave.”

“How big around do you suppose this island is, Captain?” asked our

“Four or five miles at least.”

“Then we could walk completely around it in a couple of hours, that
is, if we found it wasn’t too rough in spots.”

“You won’t find it smooth like this all around, lad.”


“Some of us might walk in one direction and some in the other,”
suggested Roger. “Then, if either party discovered anything, it could
signal to the other by firing a pistol or a gun.” For both sorts of
weapons had been brought along.

“Whatever you wish to do to-day must be done quickly,” said Captain
Sanders. “It will soon be night, and, as you know, darkness comes on
quickly in this part of the world.”

The matter was discussed for a few minutes, and then it was decided to
leave the sailors in charge of the boat, while Captain Sanders and
Phil walked up the shore and Dave and Roger traveled in the opposite

For fully a quarter of a mile Dave and the senator’s son found it an
easy matter to push along, for the sandy shore was smooth and offered
no barrier to their advance. But then they came to a series of rocks,
jutting out into the ocean, and here progress was more difficult.

“We’ll not get around this island to-night,” remarked the senator’s
son, after climbing over a particularly sharp line of rocks. “This
takes a fellow’s wind.”

“Look!” cried our hero, as he pointed to a spot between the rocks.
“What do you make that out to be, Roger?”

“It’s the wreck of a rowboat!” cried the other.

“Just what I thought. Let us go down and look it over.”

With care, so as not to sprain an ankle, the two chums climbed down to
the split in the rocks. By this time it was growing dark, and in the
hollow they could not see clearly.

It was the remains of a rowboat which they had discovered. The small
craft was split from end to end, so as to be utterly useless. Near it
lay a broken oar and a broken-open box that had contained provisions
of some sort.

“That boat is from the _Emma Brower_!” cried Dave, after an
investigation. “And that proves that some of the people from the
wrecked ship came to this island!”

“Yes, but are they alive, Dave, or were they drowned?” questioned

“That remains to be found out, Roger. I sincerely hope they are


“Let us look around for footprints, Roger,” said Dave, as the pair
scrambled up the rocks once more. “If any persons landed from that
smashed rowboat they’d have to walk in some direction, and the ground
is soft back of here.”

“The trouble is, it is growing so dark,” returned the senator’s son.
“In a little while we won’t be able to find our way back. We should
have brought a lantern along.”

“I’ve got something almost as good,” answered our hero, and took from
his pocket a little electric flashlight—one of the kind that emits a
tiny flash of light when the button at the end is pressed.

“Good enough! That’s first-rate!”

The pair were soon down from the rocks. Under the palm trees it was
now dark, and Dave used the electric flashlight to advantage.

“Here are footprints!” he cried, presently. “Six pairs! That shows
that at least a half dozen persons came ashore in that boat. Those six
may have been carrying others.”

“Shall we set up a shout?”

“I don’t know, Roger. If Merwell and Jasniff were around I’d like to
surprise them. If they discovered us first, and they had the jewels,
they’d surely hide the gems and then say they didn’t have them.”

“I believe that, Dave. Well, let us follow the footsteps and see where
they lead to.”

“Another thing. Do you remember those Englishmen? They may be on this
island, and if so, I’d rather steer clear of them.”

“So would I, they were so disagreeable—all but that one chap, Borden.”

The trail led among the palm trees and then up a rise of ground where
grew a number of bushes. Here the boys had to proceed more slowly, for
fear of missing the way.

“It’s queer that they should call this spot Cave Island,” observed the
senator’s son. “We haven’t seen anything that looks like a cave.”

“The caves may be on the other side of the island,” answered Dave.
“Look out, Roger, there is a split in the rocks! Let us jump over to
yonder bushes.”

Dave placed the flashlight in his pocket and made the leap he had
mentioned, and his chum came after him.

A most astonishing thing followed. The bushes where they landed gave
way, and down they rolled on some smooth rocks. They tried to stay
their progress, but this was impossible, and they continued to roll
for several minutes. Then Dave bumped into some sort of barrier and
Roger landed beside him.

“For gracious sake, what’s this?” gasped Roger, when he felt able to
speak. The breath had been all but knocked out of him.

“I guess we have found one of the caves,” answered Dave, grimly.
“Phew, but that was some roll, wasn’t it!”

“We must be down near the center of the earth,” murmured the senator’s

“Not quite as bad as that. But we came down some distance, I admit.”

“Flash that light around, Dave, and let us see where we are.”

“I will if the light hasn’t been smashed,” replied our hero. “I rolled
over it half a dozen times.”

He brought out the little flashlight and tried it. Fortunately, it was
still in working order. As the rays fell around the lads, they stared
at each other, blankly.

“What do you make of this, Dave?”

“Looks as if it was cut out of the solid rock, Roger.”

“It certainly is some cave. Wonder where it leads to?”

“We might follow the opening and find out.”

“Excuse me, I’d rather climb out the way we came in.”

“It certainly doesn’t look very inviting.”

The two boys found themselves in an irregular opening of the rocks,
fifty feet wide and perhaps twice that in length. On one side was the
smooth slope down which they had come; on the other a dark hole that
looked as if it might lead to some bottomless pit. A jagged rock in
the center of the underground chamber had been the means of stopping
them from dropping to the unknown depths below them.

“We were lucky to hit this rock,” said Dave, with something like a
shiver. “If we hadn’t——” He did not finish.

“Let us get out. It gives me the creeps to stay here,” returned his

“All right, Roger, I’m willing. But it is going to be hard work
crawling back, those rocks are so smooth.”

“We’ve got to get back!”

“I can’t hold the light and climb too. And if I place it on the rocks
it may roll away and go down into that hole,” went on our hero.

“Oh, put it in your pocket again and we’ll try to climb back in the
dark. We know the direction.”

Dave did as his chum suggested, and then commenced a climb that
neither of the lads ever forgot. The rocks were so smooth in spots
that at times to get a foothold was next to impossible. Once Roger
slid back several feet and would have gone to the bottom had not Dave
caught and held him.

“Take it slowly, Roger,” was our hero’s advice. “If you go to the
bottom, you may be killed!”

“I’ll hang—on!” gasped the other. “But I wi-wish I was

“Well, I wish the same.”

It took fully a quarter of an hour longer to get out of the rocky
cave, and when the boys reached the surface of the earth they were so
exhausted they could do little but sit on the ground and pant for

“It’s Cave Island right enough,” was the comment of the senator’s son.
“But excuse me from tumbling into any more such openings!”

“I guess the best thing we can do is to go back to the boat,” said
Dave. “We can’t discover much in this darkness. We can start out again
early in the morning.”

“All right, back to the boat it is,” and the pair set out on the
return along the sandy shore.

“I see a light!” cried Dave, after about half the distance to where
the rowboat had been left was covered. And he pointed to a spot
inland, among the trees.

“Maybe it’s a camp of some sort,” replied Roger. “It seems to be quite
a distance away.”

“Shall we go and see what it is?”

“Hadn’t we better get the others first, Dave?”

“All right, if you think best.”

So they continued on the way to where the rowboat had been left. They
came up to find that Captain Sanders and Phil had not yet returned.
Smiley was snoring on the sand, while Billy Dill sat near by on guard.

“Find anybody?” queried the old tar, eagerly.

“We found one of the caves, and we saw a light at a distance,”
answered Dave. “We want to investigate that light, as soon as the
others get back.”

Dave and Roger sat down, to rest and to wait, and thus another
half-hour went by. With nothing else to do, Billy Dill took a nap, and
the boys allowed the old sailor to slumber on.

“It’s queer the captain and Phil don’t return,” remarked Roger,
presently. “They must have gone much further than we did.”

“Maybe they fell into one of those caves, Roger.”

“Oh, I trust not!”

Another half-hour went by and still the others did not put in an
appearance. By this time Dave was getting worried.

“Let us take a walk along the shore and look for them,” he said, and
Roger agreed, and they started off.

They had covered less than a quarter of a mile when they came in sight
of a campfire, well-hidden between the rough rocks back from the
water’s edge. Around the campfire were huddled the forms of several
men, evidently sailors.

“Perhaps those men are from the _Emma Brower_,” said Dave, in a low

“I don’t see anything of Captain Sanders and Phil,” remarked the
senator’s son.

“No. And yet they must have seen this campfire, if they came this way.
What can it mean, Dave?”

“I don’t know.”

“Shall we go up to the campfire and talk to those fellows?”

“I don’t see why not. I am not afraid of them.”

“Do you see anybody that looks like Jasniff or Merwell?”

“No, those fellows are all plain sailors, by their outfits.”

Dave continued to advance and Roger followed, and neither halted until
he was within the glow of the campfire. Then Dave called out:

“Hello, messmates!”

At this cry the four sailors around the fire sprang to their feet. At
a glance Dave and Roger saw that they were in tatters, and that they
looked hungry and careworn.

“Hello, yourself!” answered one of the tars, stepping towards the
boys. “Who are you?”

“Passengers from the _Golden Eagle_,” answered Dave.

“Oh, some more of that crowd, eh?” cried the tar.

“Then you’ve seen the others,—the captain and a young fellow like
ourselves?” queried Roger.

“Yes, they were here only a short while ago.”

“They said they’d be back, and take us aboard an’ git us something to
eat,” put in a second of the sailors.

“An’ we need that grub putty bad, we do,” added a third.

“Ain’t had no decent meal since we got wrecked,” came from the fourth.
“A few fish an’ birds, an’ that’s all.”

“You are from the _Emma Brower_?” questioned Dave, eagerly.

“You’ve struck it, messmate. She went down in the storm an’ we come
putty nigh goin’ down with her.”

“Well, you shall have all you want to eat in a little while. Tell me
where the others of our crowd went.”

“They went after the two chaps as ran away.”

“Ran away?” cried Dave. “From where?”

“From here.”

“They must have been Jasniff and Merwell!” murmured Roger.

“Who were those fellows?” asked our hero.

“Two passengers from the bark. They came ashore with us, and they
stayed with us until your captain and the other young fellow come
along. Then they up anchors and away like the old Nick was after ’em,”
explained the tar who had first spoken.

“Were they young fellows like ourselves?”

“Yes,—a bit older, maybe. Named Ford and Smith.”

“They must have been Jasniff and Merwell,” said Dave, to his chum.

“I wonder if they managed to save the jewels,” whispered the senator’s

“Did they have any baggage?” asked Dave of the sailors.

“Baggage? Not much! We didn’t have no time for baggage when the ship
went down. It was every man fer himself. The cap’n got off in one boat
with some o’ the passengers, an’ the mate got off with some of the
crew in another boat, an’ we got off by ourselves. It was blowin’ big
guns, I can tell ye, an’ it looks like we would be swamped most every
minit. I knowed about this island an’ I steered in this direction as
well as I could, an’ by sheer good luck we struck the shore—an’ here
we are.”

“What became of the other boats?”

“Ain’t seen nuthin’ of ’em yet.”

“Is that your boat was split in two, between the rocks in that
direction?” and Dave pointed to where such a craft had been found by
him and Roger.

“That’s her, messmate. Putty badly used up, eh?”

“And you are quite sure those two passengers had no baggage?” went on
our hero, after a pause.

“Nary a thing, messmate, excepting wot they wore. It wasn’t no time to
think o’ baggage, it was a time to think o’ what to do to save your


“What direction did those fellows who ran away take?” asked Dave.

“That’s the way they went,” answered one of the sailors, pointing to
some heavy undergrowth behind the camping-out spot.

“Where does that lead to, do you know?” asked the senator’s son.

“Leads to a spring o’ fresh water an’ half a dozen big caves,” was the

“Caves?” queried Dave. “Then perhaps the fellows, who ran away, took
to one of the caves.”

“Like as not, messmate. Them two chaps have been explorin’ them caves
ever since we came ashore.”

“Let us walk back and have a look,” suggested our hero. “We may be
able to give Phil and Captain Sanders some assistance.”

Without further delay, the two boys left the camp of the castaways and
hurried along a small trail through the bushes. They soon came to a
rocky depression in the midst of which was a tiny spring.

“That water looks good,” exclaimed Dave. “Let us get a drink.”

“Perhaps it is poisonous, Dave.”

“If it was, I think those sailors would have warned us.”

They found the water fairly cold and of a good flavor, and each drank
his fill. Then Dave flashed the electric light around. Ahead they made
out a series of rocks, with here and there a gloomy opening, leading
to unknown depths.

“This is Cave Island and no mistake,” was our hero’s comment. “The
place seems to be fairly honeycombed.”

“Be careful that you don’t go into a hole and drop out of sight,”
warned his chum.

They walked to the entrance of one of the caves and peered in. All was
dark and silent. Then they went to the next cave. Here they caught a
glimmer of light.

“Somebody is moving in here!” exclaimed Dave. “A man with a torch!”

They waited, and presently saw that two persons were approaching
slowly, having to pick their way over the uneven rocks.

“They are the captain and Phil,” cried Roger, and set up a faint call.

“Hello! Who is that?” answered the captain of the _Golden Eagle_.

“Dave and Roger!” cried Phil. “Oh, say,” he added, eagerly, “we’ve
seen Jasniff and Merwell!”

“So we suspected,” answered Dave. “But you didn’t catch them?”

“No, they got away from us,” returned Captain Sanders.

“In this cave?” queried Roger.


“But if they are in here, we can get them sooner or later,” put in

“No, my lad. There are several openings to these caves. We found one
at the far end, and I reckon those rascals got away through it.”

“Did you speak to them at all?” asked our hero.

“Didn’t get time,” answered Phil. “The minute they saw us they ran
like frightened deer.”

“Did they have any baggage, Phil?”

“Not that I could see. I rather fancied Jasniff had a small bundle
under his coat, but I may have been mistaken.”

“The sailors said they came ashore without baggage. Perhaps the jewels
went down with the bark.”

“Oh, I think they’d make an effort to save such costly gems—anybody

“Not if they were thoroughly scared,” broke in Captain Sanders. “A
person who is thoroughly scared forgets everything but to save his

“Then you haven’t any idea where they went to?”

“No, lad. But I don’t think they’ll get off this island in a hurry.”

There was nothing to do but to return to where the four sailors were
encamped. Then the whole party proceeded to where Billy Dill and
Smiley had been left.

“I don’t think it will be safe to try to get through those breakers in
the darkness,” said Captain Sanders. “We may as well make ourselves
comfortable until morning. We have plenty of grub on hand, so you
fellows shall have your fill,” he went on, to the castaways.

The sailors were glad enough to build another campfire, close to the
landing-place, and here they were served with all the food and drink
they wanted, which put them in good humor. They related the
particulars of how the _Emma Brower_ had gone down, and of how one
boat after another had put off in the storm. It had been a time of
great excitement, such as none of them were liable to ever forget.

The boys were worn out from their exertions and willing enough to
rest. They fixed up some beds of boughs and were soon in the land of
dreams. The sailors rested also, each, however, taking an hour at
watching, by orders of Captain Sanders.

It was about five o’clock in the morning when Dave awoke, to find the
wind blowing furiously. Two of the sailors were busy stamping out the
campfire, for the burning brands were flying in all directions,
threatening to set fire to the undergrowth.

“What’s this?” he asked of Captain Sanders.

“No telling, lad,” was the grave reply. “Looks like a pretty big

“More like a hurricane!” snorted old Billy Dill. “The wind is growin’
wuss each minit!”

“Draw that boat up into the bushes and fasten it well,” ordered the
captain. “We don’t want to have it stove in or floated off by the
breakers.” And the rowboat was carried to a place of safety.

“Where is the ship?” asked Roger.

“Slipped away when the blow came up,” answered the captain. “An’ I
hope the mate knows enough to keep away,” he added, gravely.

Soon it started to rain, first a few scattering drops and then a
perfect deluge. The castaways spoke of a cave that was near by, and
all hurried in that direction, taking the stores from the boat with

“How long will this last, do you think?” asked Phil, of the master of
the _Golden Eagle_.

“No telling. Maybe only to-day, maybe several days.”

“If it last several days, we’ll have a time of it getting food,” broke
in the senator’s son.

“We’ll watch out for fish and turtles,” said Billy Dill. “Nothin’ like
turtles when you are good an’ hungry.”

“That’s true,” answered Dave. He had not forgotten the big turtle the
old tar had managed to catch down on one of the islands in the South

Soon it was raining so hard that but little could be seen beyond the
entrance to the cave. The wind moaned and shrieked throughout the
cavern, which happened to have several entrances. Once it became so
strong that it almost lifted the boys from their feet. The rain drove
in at times, and they had to get into a split in the rocks to keep

“Hark! what was that?” cried Roger, during a lull in the wind.

“I heard thunder; that’s all,” answered Phil.

“I think a tree must have been struck by lightning,” answered Captain
Sanders. “The lightning is getting pretty fierce,” he added, as a
brilliant illumination filled the cavern.

“Wonder where Jasniff and Merwell are?” whispered Phil, to his chums,
“I’ll wager this storm scares ’em half to death.”

“Yes, and those four Englishmen,” added Dave. “Don’t forget that they
were coming to this island.”

Slowly the hours of the morning dragged by. There was no let-up in the
hurricane, for such it really proved to be. The wind blew strongly all
the time, but occasionally would come a heavy blast that fairly made
the island tremble. The lightning had died away somewhat, but now and
then would come a great flash, followed by a crash and rumble that
would echo and reëcho among the rocks.

“Just look at the ocean!” cried Dave, as he and his chums walked to
one corner of the entrance to gaze out.

“The waves seem to be mountain-high,” returned Phil. “You wouldn’t
think it possible a ship could live on such a sea.”

“Well, it is mighty dangerous, Phil; you know that as well as I do.”

“I hope the _Golden Eagle_ weathers the storm.”

“We all hope that.”

Dinner was a rather scanty meal, cooked with great difficulty in a
hollow of the rocks. The smoke from the fire rolled and swirled in all
directions, nearly blinding everybody. But the repast was better than
nothing, and nobody grumbled.

By nightfall the rain ceased. But the wind was almost as strong as
ever, and when those in the cave ventured outside they had to be on
guard, for fear a flying tree-branch would come down on their heads.

Captain Sanders was much worried over the safety of his vessel, but he
did not let on to the boys, since it would have done no good. But the
lads understood, and they, too, were more or less alarmed, remembering
the fate that had overtaken the _Emma Brower_ in a storm that had been
no worse than the present one.

With so much rain driving in, the cave was a damp place, and the boys
were glad enough to go outside. They looked for wood that might be
easily dried, and after much difficulty, succeeded in starting up a
new campfire, around which the whole crowd gathered.

“I’m goin’ to try my luck along shore,” said Billy Dill, and started
off with Dave, Phil, and Roger, to see if any fish or turtles could be
located. They found the shore strewn with wreckage.

“Oh, Billy, can this be from our ship?” exclaimed Phil, in alarm.

“I don’t think so, lad. Looks to me like it had been in the water some
days. I reckon it’s from the _Emma Brower_, or some other craft.”

In the wreckage they found the remains of several boxes and barrels.
But the contents had become water-soaked or had sunk to the bottom of
the sea; so there was nothing in the shape of food for them. They also
came across the mainmast of the bark, with some of the stays still
dragging around it.

“That will do for a pole, in case we wish to hoist a flag,” suggested
the senator’s son.

They found neither fish nor turtles, and at last had to return to the
campfire disappointed. There was next to nothing to eat for supper.

“Well, better luck in the morning,” said Captain Sanders, with an air
of cheerfulness he did not feel. “As soon as this wind dies down our
ship will come back, and then we’ll have all we want to eat.”

It was a long, dreary night that followed, and the boys were glad to
behold the sun come up brightly in the morning. Dave was the first up,
but his chums quickly followed, and all went down to the beach, to
look for fish and also to see if the _Golden Eagle_ was anywhere in

This time they had better luck, so far as food was concerned. In a
hollow they found over a score of fish that had been cast from the
ocean by the breakers, and they also found a fine turtle that was
pinned down by a fallen tree.

“That’s a new way to catch a turtle,” remarked Dave. “It’s a regular

“Turtle soup, yum! yum!” murmured Phil.

“And broiled fish,—all you want, too!” added Roger, smacking his lips.

When they got back to the camp they found that the fire had been
renewed, and soon the appetizing odor of broiling fish filled the air.
Then Captain Sanders and one of the castaway sailors came in from a
walk in another direction, carrying an airtight canister, which, on
being opened, was found to contain fancy crackers.

“There is a good deal of wreckage down on the beach,” said the
captain. “We’ll inspect it after breakfast.”

Having eaten their fill of the fish and the crackers, and leaving
Billy Dill and some of the others busy making turtle soup, the boys
and Captain Sanders took another walk along the beach, to look over
the wreckage and also see if they could sight the _Golden Eagle_, or
locate Jasniff or Merwell.

“I hope we can find those two fellows,” said Dave. “I can stand this
suspense no longer. I must know what has become of those jewels!”


A half-mile was covered when, on turning a point of rocks, the boys
and the captain came to a sandy cove. Here was more of the wreckage,
and the whole party ran down to the beach to investigate.

Boxes, barrels, and bits of timber were strewn from one end of the
cove to the other, and in the mass were a number of things of more or
less value—timber, food, and some clothing. There was also a trunk,
but it was open and empty.

“Look!” cried Dave, suddenly, and pointed to a small, black leather
case, that rested on some of the wreckage.

“What is it?” queried Phil and Roger, in a breath.

Dave did not reply, for he was crawling over the wreckage with care.
Soon he reached the spot where the black leather case rested, caught
on a nail, and he picked it up. The clasp was undone and the case fell
open, revealing the interior, which was lined with white plush.

“Empty!” murmured Dave, sadly. “Empty!” There was a groan in his voice
as he uttered the word.

“What is it, Dave?” asked the senator’s son, although he and Phil
guessed the truth.

“It’s the Carwith jewel-case,” was the answer. “The very case that Mr.
Carwith left with Mr. Wadsworth!”

“Are you certain?” demanded Phil.

“Yes, for here is the name, ‘Ridgewood Osgood Carwith,’ stamped in
gold on the top.”

“And empty,” murmured the captain. “This looks bad,” and he shook his
head, thoughtfully.

“Maybe Jasniff and Merwell took the jewels from the case,” suggested
Roger, hopefully.

“It is possible, Roger. But—but—I am afraid the jewels are at the
bottom of the ocean,” answered Dave, and his face showed how downcast
he felt.

“They might have taken the jewels and divided them between
themselves,” said Phil. “Maybe they put them in money-belts, or
something like that. They might think that the sailors would rob them,
if they saw the case.”

“It’s possible, Phil, and I hope you are right,” answered our hero.
But in his heart he was still afraid that the gems had gone to the
bottom of the Atlantic.

“I think we had better climb to the top of yonder rise and take a look
around the island,” said the captain. “For all we know, the _Golden
Eagle_ may be on the other side. I sincerely hope she has weathered
the storm.”

Placing the jewel-case in a safe place between the rocks, the party
commenced to climb the rise of ground the captain had pointed out.
This was no easy task, since the rocks were rough and there were many
openings, leading to the caves below.

“We don’t want another tumble,” remarked Roger to Dave.

“Hardly, Roger; once was enough.”

The sun had come out strongly, consequently the water was drying away
rapidly. It was very warm, and the boys were glad that they had donned
thin clothing on leaving the ship.

At last they reached the top of the rise and from that elevation were
able to see all but the southern end of Cave Island, which was hidden
by a growth of palms.

Not a ship of any kind was in sight, much to the captain’s

“Must have had to sail away a good many miles,” said Dave.

“Either that, lad, or else the storm caused more or less trouble.”

From the elevation, all took a good look at every part of the island
that could be seen. They saw several other rocky elevations and the
entrances to caves innumerable.

“Tell you one thing,” remarked Phil. “If there was any truth in that
story of a pirates’ treasure, the pirates would have plenty of places
where to hide the hoard.”

“Humph! I don’t believe in the treasure and never will,” returned
Roger. “If the treasure was ever here, you can make up your mind that
somebody got hold of it long before this.”

“If those Englishmen came here, it is queer that we don’t see some
trace of them,” said Captain Sanders.

“Maybe they are like Jasniff and Merwell, keeping out of sight,”
ventured Dave.

“That may be true.”

“I think I see some figures moving down near the shore over there,”
continued Roger, after another look around. “But they are so far off I
am not sure. They may be animals.”

“They look like two men to me,” exclaimed Dave, after a long look.
“What if they should be Jasniff and Merwell! Oh, let us walk there and
make sure!”

“That’s a good, stiff walk,” answered Captain Sanders. “We can’t go
from here very well—unless we want to climb over some rough rocks. It
would be better to go down and follow the shore.”

“Then let us do that. It won’t do us any good to go back to where we
left the others, now the ship isn’t in sight.”

But the captain demurred, and finally it was agreed to return to camp
and start out for the other side of the island directly after dinner.

“Turtle soup for all hands!” announced Billy Dill, proudly. “Best ever
made, too.”

“It certainly smells good,” answered Dave.

The turtle soup proved both palatable and nourishing, and, eaten with
crackers, made a good meal.

“We’ll take some crackers and fish along,” said the captain, to the
boys, when they were preparing to leave the camp again. “For there is
no telling how soon we’ll get back. It may take us longer than we
think to reach the other side of this island.”

“I’ve got a knapsack,” said one of the castaway sailors. “You can take
that along, filled,” and so it was arranged. Dave carried his gun and
the captain had a pistol.

“If there is any game, we’ll have a try for it,” said Dave. “Even a
few plump birds would make fine eating.”

“Yes, or a rabbit or hare,” added Roger.

The party walked along the shore as far as they could go and then,
coming to what appeared to be an old trail, took to that.

“What do you make of this path?” said Dave. “I had an idea the island
was uninhabited.”

“It is supposed to be,” answered Captain Sanders. “But there is no
reason why somebody shouldn’t live here.”

Presently they came to a fine spring of water. Near by lay an old
rusty cup, and a little further on a broken bucket.

“Somebody has been here and that recently,” was Dave’s comment. “I
hope we are on the trail of Merwell and Jasniff.”

They walked on a little further and then, of a sudden, Captain Sanders
halted the boys and pointed up into one of the trees.

“Wild pigeons!” exclaimed Dave. “And hundreds of them! Shall I give
them a couple of barrels, captain?”

“Might as well, lad. Wild pigeons are good eating, especially when you
are hungry. Get as many of ’em as you can.”

Dave approached a little closer and took aim with care. Bang! went the
shotgun, and a wild fluttering and flying followed. Bang! went the
second barrel of the weapon, and then, as the smoke cleared away, the
boys and the captain saw seven of the pigeons come down to the ground.
Several others fluttered around and Phil caught one and wrung its
neck, and Roger laid another low with a stick he had picked up.

“Fine shots, both of them,” declared Captain Sanders. “Now load up
again, Dave, so as to be ready for anything else that shows up.”

“I am afraid I have scared the rest of the game,” declared our hero,
and so it proved, for after that they saw nothing but some small

They passed through a thick woods and then came rather unexpectedly to
a wall of rocks, all of a hundred feet in height. At the base of the
wall was an opening leading into a broad cave. Near the entrance was
the remains of a campfire.

“Somebody has been here and that recently!” cried Phil, as he examined
the embers.

“Must be Merwell and Jasniff!” cried Dave. “For if they were strangers
they would come out and see what the shooting meant.”

“Shall we go into the cave, or continue on the way to the shore?”
questioned the senator’s son.

“Oh, let us take a peep into the cave first,” cried Phil. “It looks as
if it was inhabited.”

The others were willing, and lighting a firebrand that was handy, they
entered the cavern. In front they found the opening to be broad and
low, but in the rear the ceiling was much higher and there were
several passageways leading in as many different directions.

“What an island!” murmured Roger. “Why, one could spend a year in
visiting all the caves!”

“It’s like a great, big sponge!” returned Phil. “Holes everywhere!”

“Take care that you don’t slip down into some opening!” warned Captain

In one of the passages they came across the remains of a meal and also
some empty bottles. Then Dave saw some bits of paper strewn over the
rocky floor.

“What are they, Phil?” he asked, and then both commenced to pick the
pieces up. Roger helped, while the captain held the firebrand.

“Well, of all things!” cried the shipowner’s son. “Now what do you
make of this?”

“The chart!” cried Dave.


“What chart?” queried the master of the _Golden Eagle_.

“The treasure chart those four Englishmen had,” answered Dave. “Now
what made them come here with it and tear it to pieces?”

“Hum!” mused the captain. “One of two things would make ’em do that,
lad. Either they got the treasure and had no further use for the map,
or else they found the whole thing was a fake and in their rage they
tore the map to shreds.”

“They must have gotten the gold!” murmured Roger and Phil.

“No, I think they got fooled,” said Dave.

“The question is, if those Britishers were here, where did they go
to?” asked the captain.

“Let us call,” suggested Dave. “They may be in some part of this cave
where they couldn’t hear the shots from my gun.”

All called out several times, and listened intently for a reply.

“Hark! I hear something!” cried Roger. “Listen!”

They strained their ears, and from what appeared to be a great
distance they heard a human voice. But what was said they could not
make out.

“Too many echoes here,” declared the captain. “A fellow can’t tell
where the cry comes from.”

“Well, let us investigate,” said our hero.

They moved forward and backward, up one passageway and down another,
calling and listening. At times the voice seemed to be quite close,
then it sounded further off than ever.

“This sure is a mystery!” declared Phil. “What do you make of it,

“I am beginning to think the call came from somewhere overhead,”
answered our hero. “Captain, see if you can flash a light on those
rocks to the left of our heads.”

Captain Sanders did as requested, and presently all in the party saw
another passageway, leading up from a series of rocks that formed
something of a natural stairway. Up this they went, Dave leading the
van. Then they came to a small opening between two rocks.

“Help! help!” came in a half-smothered voice. “Help, please. Don’t
leave me here in the dark any longer!”


“It’s a man!”

“One of the Englishmen!”

“You are right, lads,” came from Captain Sanders. “And see, he is
bound hands and feet to the rocks!”

What the master of the _Golden Eagle_ said was true, and as the
firebrand was flashed on the scene, the chums could do little but
stare in astonishment.

Lying on his back between the rocks was the Englishman named Giles
Borden. Hands and feet were bound with a strong cord, which ran around
a projection of the rocks in such a manner that the prisoner could
scarcely move.

“Who tied you up?” questioned Dave, as he and Phil set to work to
liberate the prisoner.

“Geswick, Pardell, and Rumney,” groaned the prisoner. “Oh, if only I
had my hands on them!”

“Why did they do it?” asked Captain Sanders.

“They wanted to rob me—and they did rob me!” answered Giles Borden.
“Oh, help me out of this wretched hole and give me a drink of water! I
am dying from thirst!”

Not without difficulty the man was freed of the rope and helped to get
out from between the rocks. Then Dave and Roger half carried him down
to the cave proper. The crowd had a canteen of water and the man
drank, eagerly.

“So your friends robbed you?” said Captain Sanders, curiously.

“Do not call them friends of mine!” returned Giles Borden. “They are
not friends—they are vipers, wolves! Oh, if ever I meet them again at
home I’ll soon have them in prison, or know the reason why!”

“Hadn’t you better tell us all about it?” went on the master of the
_Golden Eagle_.

“Wait a minute!” cried Dave. “Do you suppose those men are anywhere
near here?”

“I don’t know. They said they would be back, but they did not come.”

“They may have seen us and skipped out,” ventured the senator’s son.

“More than likely,” groaned Giles Borden. “Now that they have my money
they won’t want to stay here. They’ll take passage on that ship as
soon as she comes in and leave me to shift for myself.”

“Tell us your story, so we can understand what you are talking about,”
said Captain Sanders.

In a disconnected manner the Englishman related his tale, pausing
occasionally to take another drink of water. He said he was from
London and had met Geswick, Pardell, and Rumney less than six months
before. They had come to him with the story of a wonderful pirates’
treasure said to be hidden on Cave Island, and had asked him to
finance an expedition in search of it.

“I had just fallen heir to five thousand pounds through the death of
my father,” he went on, “and I was anxious to get the treasure, so I
consented to pay the expenses of the trip, taking the three men along.
They had the chart that you saw on shipboard and some other
particulars, and they made me bring along a thousand pounds extra,
stating that we might have to pay some natives well to get them to
show us where the particular cave we were seeking was located.”

Then had followed the trip to Florida and the one to Barbados. At the
latter island a schooner had been chartered to take them to Cave
Island, where they were landed on the eastern shore. The schooner was
to come back for the Englishmen a week later.

“As soon as the treasure hunt began I suspected that I was being
hoaxed,” continued Giles Borden. “For all I knew, we were alone on the
island. We found several huts, but they were all deserted. We visited
a score of caves, but saw nothing that looked like a treasure. Then,
one afternoon, Geswick asked me about the extra thousand pounds I was
carrying. I grew suspicious and tried to hide the money between the
rocks. The three caught me at it and pounced on the money like a pack
of wolves. Then, when I remonstrated, they laughed at me, and told me
to keep quiet, that they were going to run matters to suit

“They must have intended to rob you from the start,” said Dave.

“You are right, and I was a fool to trust them. As soon as they had my
money, one of them, Rumney, tore up the chart and threw the pieces in
my face. That angered me so greatly that I struck him with my fist,
knocking him down. Then the three leaped on me and made me a prisoner,
binding me with the rope. I tried my best to get away, but could not.
That was at night. In the morning they went off, saying they would
come back later and give me something to eat. But that is the last I
have seen or heard of them.”

“If we hadn’t found you, you might have starved to death,” murmured
Captain Sanders. “They ought to be punished heavily for this—and for
robbing you!”

The Englishman was glad enough to get something to eat, and then said
he felt much stronger.

“But what brings you to this island?” he questioned, while partaking
of the food.

“We are after a pair of criminals,” answered Dave, as the others
looked at him, not knowing what to say. “Two young fellows who ran
away with some valuable jewels. I suppose you saw nothing of them.”

“No, as I said before, we saw nobody.”

“They are on this island.”

“Then I hope you catch them. And I hope you’ll aid me in catching
those other scamps.”

“We’ll certainly do that,” answered Captain Sanders.

A little later the whole party left the cave, and Giles Borden pointed
out a number of other caves he had visited.

“The island is full of them,” declared the Englishman. “And one has to
be careful, for fear of falling into a hole at every step.”

The middle of the afternoon found the party once more at the water’s
edge. They had seen no trace of Jasniff and Merwell, or of the
rascally Englishmen. All were tired out and content to rest for a
little while.

“Looks like a wild goose chase, doesn’t it, Dave?” remarked Roger.

“Oh, you mustn’t grow discouraged so quickly, Roger,” was Dave’s
answer. “Unless Jasniff and Merwell have a chance to leave this island
we’ll be sure to locate them, sooner or later. What I am worried about
mostly is the question: Have they the jewels or did the gems go to the
bottom of the ocean?”

“Yes, that’s the most important question of all.”

“It will be poor consolation to catch Jasniff and Merwell and not get
the jewels,” put in Phil. “I reckon, Dave, you’d rather have it the
other way around—get the jewels and miss Jasniff and Merwell.”

“Indeed, yes, Phil.”

“In case we don’t——” began the senator’s son, and then stopped short.
He had seen Captain Sanders leap up and start inland.

“What did you see, Captain?” asked Dave.

“I saw somebody looking at us, from behind yonder trees!” cried the
master of the _Golden Eagle_.

“One of the Englishmen?” queried Phil.

“No, it was somebody younger—looked a little like that picture of Link

“Come on—after them!” cried Dave, and started on a run in the
direction the captain indicated.

All were soon on the way, climbing over some rough rocks at first and
then crashing through the heavy undergrowth. Then they entered a
forest of tropical trees and vines.

“I see them!” exclaimed Dave, after several hundred feet had been
covered. “Jasniff and Merwell as sure as you live! Stop! Stop, I tell
you!” he called out.

“You keep back, Dave Porter!” yelled Nick Jasniff in return. “Keep
back, or it will be the worse for you!”

“Jasniff, you had better surrender!” cried Roger.

“We’ll be sure to get you sooner or later!” added Phil.

“You’ll never catch me!” answered the other. “Now keep back, or maybe
somebody will get shot.”

“Do you think he’ll shoot?” asked Captain Sanders, in some alarm,
while Giles Borden stopped short.

“Possibly,” answered Dave. “But I am going after him anyway,” he added
sturdily. “I came here to catch those rascals and I am going to do

“And I am with you,” said Phil, promptly.

“Scare ’em with your gun, Dave,” suggested the senator’s son.

“I will,” was our hero’s reply, and he brought the weapon to the
front. “I’ve got a gun, Jasniff!” he called out. “You had better stop!
And you had better stop too, Merwell!”

“Don’t yo-you shoot at us!” screamed Link Merwell, in sudden terror.
And then he ran with all speed for the nearest trees and dove out of
sight. The next instant Jasniff disappeared, likewise.

Dave was now thoroughly aroused, and he resolved to do his best to run
the rascals down and corner them. Shifting his shotgun once more to
his back, he ran on in the direction the pair had taken, and Roger,
Phil, and the captain and the Englishman followed.

Listening occasionally, they could hear Jasniff and Merwell crashing
through the undergrowth and at the same time calling to each other.
Evidently they had become separated and were trying to get together

As they advanced into the forest, Dave caught sight of Merwell. He was
behind a low fringe of bushes and an instant later disappeared.

“Stop, Merwell!” he called out. “It won’t do you any good to run. We
are bound to catch you, sooner or later.”

“Yo-you let me alone, Dave Porter!” spluttered Merwell. He was almost
out of breath, so violent had been his exertions.

Dave kept on and soon reached the low bushes. Then he saw Merwell
again, this time leaping for some brushwood between two tall rocks.

“I’ve got you now!” he said, sharply. “You may as well give in!”

“Oh, Porter, please let me——” commenced Link Merwell, and then Dave’s
hand caught him by the shoulder and whirled him about.

As this happened something else occurred that filled both pursued and
pursuer with alarm. The grass and brushwood under their feet began to
give way. Then of a sudden Link Merwell sank from sight, and Dave
disappeared after him!

In the meanwhile Phil and the others kept on in the direction Nick
Jasniff had taken. Twice they caught sight of the former bully of Oak
Hall, but each time he was further away than before.

“You’ll not catch me!” cried Jasniff. “You might as well give up
trying.” Then he dove into another section of the forest and they saw
no more of him.

“What has become of Dave?” asked Phil, when he and Roger came
together, a little later.

“I thought he was with you, Phil.”

“And I thought he was with you.”

“He went after that other chap,” put in Captain Sanders. “Perhaps he
caught him. They were over in that direction,” and the captain pointed
with his hand.

All proceeded in the direction indicated. But they did not catch sight
of either Dave or Merwell.

“Well, this is strange, to say the least,” remarked Phil, after they
had called out several times. “What do you make of it, Roger?”

“I’m sure I don’t know, Phil. They can’t have gotten so far away but
what they could hear us call.”

“Maybe they fell into one of the caves,” suggested Captain Sanders.

“If they have, we had better hunt for Dave at once,” returned Roger.


Down and down and still down went Dave, with Link Merwell in front of
him. Daylight was left behind with a suddenness that was appalling.
The brushwood scratched our hero’s face and he could not repress a cry
of alarm. Merwell screamed loud and long and an echo came back that
was weird and ghostlike. Then came a mighty splash, and both boys went
into the water over their heads.

Dave was a good swimmer, and as soon as he entered the water he struck
out to save himself. He came up in almost utter darkness, so he had to
go it blindly, not knowing in what direction to turn. Then he heard a
wild spluttering and knew the sounds came from his enemy.


“Oh, Porter! Sa-save me, please!” gasped Link Merwell.

“Why don’t you swim?—that is what I am doing.”

“I—I—struck my head on a rock! Oh, save me!” And then came a gasp, and
the scamp disappeared under the surface.

Dave was close by and knew the direction by the noise. Taking a few
strokes, he bumped into Merwell, who promptly tried to catch his
would-be rescuer by the throat. But our hero was on guard and turned
him around.

“Keep quiet, or I’ll let go!” he ordered, as he began to tread water.
As Merwell obeyed, Dave struck out to where he saw a faint streak of
light. He made out a shelving rock, and after some difficulty, reached
this. Here the water was only up to his waist, and he waded along,
half carrying his enemy, until they reached another series of rocks,
where both crawled up to a spot that was dry. From somewhere overhead
came a faint streak of light, testifying to the fact that there was an
opening beyond, even if it could not be seen.

“Oh, my head!” murmured Link Merwell, and put up one hand to a lump
that was rising on his forehead.

“I got struck myself,” said Dave. “But it didn’t amount to much. I
told you to stop. If you had done so, we wouldn’t have gotten into
this pickle.”

“Whe-where are we?” asked Merwell, and there was a shiver in his tone.

“Down at the bottom of that hole.” Dave tried to pierce the darkness.
“Looks like some underground river to me.”

“The water is salt.”

“Then this place must connect with the ocean.” Dave drew a deep
breath. “Merwell, tell me truthfully, what did you do with those
jewels?” he questioned, eagerly. Even in that time of peril he could
not forget the mission that had brought him to Cave Island.

“Who—who said I had the jewels?” faltered the other.

“I know you and Jasniff took them—it is useless for you to deny it.”

“How do you know that?”

“Never mind now. Answer my question. Have you the jewels, or did you
give them to Jasniff?”

“I didn’t give Nick anything.”

“Then you have them.”

“How do you know?”

“I am not here to answer questions, Link Merwell. I want to know what
you did with the jewels.” Dave’s voice grew stern. “Answer me at
once!” And he caught Merwell by the arm.

“Don’t—don’t shove me into the water!” cried the scamp, in alarm,
although Dave had no intention of doing as he imagined. “I—I—we—er—we
divided the jewels between us. But Nick got the best of them.”

“And what did you do with your share?”

“I’ll—er—I’ll tell you when we get out of this hole.”

“You’ll tell me right now, Merwell!” And again Dave caught the culprit
by the arm.

“I—I put my share of the jewels in my money-belt,” he faltered.

“Have you it on now?”

“Yes. But Nick has the best of the jewels—I got only the little ones,”
went on Link Merwell, half-angrily. It was easy to surmise that he and
Jasniff had not gotten along well together.

“How is it Jasniff got the best of them?”

“He had the jewel-case when we were about to leave the bark during the
storm. Everybody was excited, and he said we couldn’t carry the
case—that it wouldn’t be safe, for we might drop it and all of the
jewels would be lost. He said we had better divide them and put them
in our belts. We had bought belts for that purpose in Jacksonville. So
we took the jewels out of the case and threw the box away. I thought I
had my share, but after we got to this island, and I had a chance to
look, I saw he had the lion’s share, about three-quarters, in fact,
and all the big ones.”

“And he has them now?”

“Yes,—that is, he did have them just before we saw you.”

“Did you sell or pawn any of the jewels?”

“Only a few small ones. We were afraid to offer the big ones, so soon
after the—well, you know,” and Link Merwell stopped short, looking
everything but happy.

“You mean so soon after the robbery,” said Dave, bluntly.


“Link, whatever—but never mind that now,” continued our hero, hastily.
“Hand over the money-belt.”

“What, now?”

“Yes, at once. I’ll not trust you to carry those jewels a minute

“Can’t you wait till we get out of this wretched hole?”

“I might, but I am not going to. Hand it over and be careful that none
of the jewels are lost. Your father may have to pay for the others.”

With fingers that trembled from fear and chilliness, Link Merwell
slipped his hands under the light clothing he wore and took off the
money-belt that encircled his waist.

“There is some money there that belongs to me,” he began,

“You’ll get back what is yours, never fear,” answered Dave, and took
the belt. He saw to it that it was tightly closed, then fastened it
around his own waist.

“Remember, Nick has the best of the jewels,” went on Merwell, rather

“I am not likely to forget it,” answered Dave, grimly. “Now, the
sooner we get out of this hole the better.”

Merwell was just as anxious to see daylight, even if he was to be held
a prisoner, and together the boys hunted around for some exit from the
underground watercourse. But the only way out seemed to be far
overhead, and to climb up the smooth, sloping rocks proved impossible.

“Oh, what shall we do?” groaned Merwell, after they had attempted to
climb up and had failed. “We are caught like rats in a trap!”

“Perhaps we’ll have to swim for it,” answered Dave. “This water is
very salt, which proves it comes from the ocean. Moreover, it is
gradually going down, showing it is affected by the tide. Let us
follow the stream for a short distance and see where it leads to.”

Merwell demurred, but he did not want to remain behind alone in the
semi-darkness, so he followed Dave, and both waded and swam a distance
of several hundred feet. Here the underground river made a turn around
the rocks, and both boys were delighted to see a streak of sunlight
resting on the water.

“An opening of some sort!” cried our hero. “Come on!” And he swam on
boldly and Merwell followed as quickly as he could.

Soon the pair reached a break in the cave. On either side were walls
of rocks, uneven and covered with scanty bushes and immense trailing
vines. The opening was about a hundred feet in length, and beyond it
the stream of salty water plunged into another cavern, undoubtedly on
its way to the ocean.

“Well, we are out of the cave in one way but not in another,” observed
Dave, as he stood on the dry rocks and gazed about. “It’s going to be
a stiff climb to get out of here.”

“Ca-can’t you wait till I—I get my breath,” panted Merwell.

“Yes, for I want to get my own breath back. Perhaps we’ll have to go
through that next cave to get out,” he continued, after a pause.

“Oh, I hope not! I hate it underground!” And Merwell shivered.
“Besides, it’s cold,” he went on, to cover up the tremor in his voice.

“Yes, it is cold,” returned Dave, shortly.

He sat down to rest, and Merwell followed suit. On all sides were the
rocky walls and trailing vines, while at their feet ran the silent,
mysterious stream of salty water.

Dave looked at the walls and the stream, and then looked at Merwell.
The face of the other youth was a study. He was downcast to the last

“Link, what made you do it?” he asked, in a voice that was not

“I didn’t do it—that is, it wasn’t my plan!” burst out the culprit,
passionately. “Oh, I know they’ll hold me for it, just the same as
they’ll hold Nick, if they catch him! But I’ll tell you honestly,
Dave, it wasn’t any of my planning. I’m bad, and I know it, but I am
not as bad as that. It was Nick who got the whole thing up. You know
how mad he has been at you ever since he had to leave Oak Hall. Well,
it was his plan to make you a prisoner first and then make it look as
if you had robbed the jewelry works. You ask Doctor Montgomery if that
isn’t so. Well, the first part of the plan fell through, for you got
away. Then he got me to go to Crumville, and found out where we could
get the dynamite. I got scared then and wanted to back out, but he
said if I did he’d throw all the blame on me, and so I stuck to him. I
wish I hadn’t done it,” concluded Merwell, bitterly.

“Did you go direct to Jacksonville after the robbery?”

“No, we went to Washington first and there we pawned one diamond for
sixty dollars. Then we went to Jacksonville. There we met Luke Watson,
and both of us got scared to death. We had paid for our passage on the
_Emma Brower_, and we kept out of sight till the bark sailed. After
the storm we landed here with those four sailors, and were waiting to
sight some passing ship when you and your crowd turned up.”

“What were you going to do at Barbados?”

“Keep quiet until this affair blew over and then take some English
vessel for England. There, Jasniff said, he could get a certain
pawnbroker to take the jewels and give us a good price for them.
You’ll remember, he was in England some time.”

“Yes, I met him there. But, Link, didn’t you realize what a crime you
were committing?” went on Dave, earnestly.

“I did—after it was too late. Many a time I wanted to back out, but
Nick wouldn’t let me. We had a quarrel in Washington, and another in
Jacksonville, and on the ship I came close to exposing him to the
captain. I think I should have done it, only the hurricane came up,
and then we had to hustle to save our lives.”

A silence followed, for each of the boys was busy with his thoughts.
Dave felt sorry for his former schoolmate, but he knew Merwell
thoroughly, and knew that the fellow was more sorry because he was
caught than because he had committed a great wrong. He belonged to the
class of persons who are willing to repent when it is too late.

The day was drawing to a close, and already the sunlight had
disappeared beyond the high rocks. With a deep sigh Dave arose to his
feet and stretched himself, and Merwell followed suit.

“What are you going to do?” asked the former bully of Oak Hall.

“I am going to try to climb up those rocks.”

“They are terribly steep!”

“I know it, but those vines look strong and we can use them as ropes,
Link. But you need not try it, if you don’t want to.”

“Oh, if you try, so will I, Dave.”

After that but little was said, both lads saving their breath for the
task before them. Dave went up first, testing each vine with care as
he advanced. Twice he slipped back, and once Merwell came to his aid
and held him. It was a little thing to do, but it pleased our hero,
and his face showed it.

At last they were out of the hollow and each threw himself on the
ground to rest. Then Dave walked to a near-by hill and gazed in every
direction. Not a human being was in sight anywhere.

“Well, we’ve got to find them somehow,” he said to Merwell. “Come
ahead.” And side by side they set off through the forest in the
fast-gathering darkness.

[Illustration: Dave went up first, testing each vine with care.]


“Well, we are lost, that is all there is to it. And I am so dead tired
I can’t walk another step.” And thus speaking, Link Merwell sank down
on a tree-root to rest.

He and Dave had been plunging along through the forest and across
several clearings for the larger part of an hour. They had found what
looked to be a trail, but it had suddenly come to an end in front of a
small cave that looked to be the lair of some wild animal, and they
had gone on once more. Now the darkness of the tropics shut out the
surrounding landscape.

Link Merwell certainly looked the picture of misery. His clothing was
much tattered and still wet, and his forehead was swollen from contact
with the rocks. One of his shoes was so cut that his bare foot was

“It looks as if we were lost,” replied Dave. “In this darkness it will
be difficult to go much further. But I had hoped, by keeping in a
straight line, that, sooner or later, we’d reach the shore of the

“I reckon we didn’t walk in a straight line—most folks that get lost
in a woods don’t.”

“You are right in that, but I kept as straight as I could, Link.
However, that is neither here nor there. If we have got to stay here
all night we may as well try to make ourselves comfortable. But I wish
the others knew I was safe.”

“Can’t you fire your gun? It ought to be dry by now.”

“I’ll try it.”

Dave sat down and commenced to work over the fowling-piece. In a few
minutes he tried it. Bang! went the gun, the shot echoing far and wide
through the forest and among the rocks. Then both boys listened for a

“Nothing doing,” muttered Merwell, after a minute of utter silence.

“I am sure the others would fire a shot in return if they heard that,”
said Dave. “We must be further from them than I expected. Well, I
don’t see what we can do excepting to try to make ourselves
comfortable. We might climb one of these tall palms and take a look

“Yes, that’s it!” exclaimed the other youth, eagerly. “Why didn’t we
think of that before? But it will be hard work climbing one of those
trees,” went on Merwell, gazing up at the straight trunk with the
first of the limbs many feet above their heads.

“I’ll do it native fashion,” answered Dave.

He had seen the natives of the South Sea Islands climb tall trees by
means of a vine-rope cast about the waist and the tree-trunk.
Selecting several strong vines, he twisted them into a rope, and then
passed the same around a tree-trunk and to the back of his waist. Then
he took off his shoes and stockings and placed his bare feet against
the tree. By “hiking” the rope a few inches at a time, he was able to
“walk up the tree” with comparative ease.

As soon as the branches were reached, Dave discarded the rope and went
up as far as the strength of the tree would permit. He was now close
enough to the top to get a good look around, and he cast his eyes
about eagerly, hoping to catch sight of some of his friends, or their

“See anything?” called up Merwell, eagerly.

“Not yet,” answered Dave, and then he turned around in the tree-top.
He now made out the rolling sea.

“I see a light!” he cried.

“A campfire?” queried the youth below.

“No, it is on the water. I think it must be a light on a ship.”

“What kind of a ship?”

“A sailing vessel of some sort,” answered Dave, and he wondered if it
could be the _Golden Eagle_, coming back after the storm.

“Maybe it’s the ship that was coming back for those Englishmen,” went
on Merwell, for Dave had told him about the men. He heaved a
mountainous sigh as he realized how affairs had turned against him.
For a moment he thought of running away and trying to find Jasniff,
but then the darkness and loneliness of the forest appalled him. He
felt that he would rather be a prisoner than be alone in such a spot.

Dave watched the waving light for some time, as it rose and fell on
the bosom of the ocean, but could learn nothing concerning the craft
that showed it. Then he continued to look around the island. No
campfire was to be located, and finally he rejoined Merwell.

“The light on that ship was all I saw,” he said. “Perhaps it might pay
to walk down to the shore in that direction. But it is a long
distance, and in the darkness we might fall into another of the

“Let us stay here,” answered Merwell.

“It will probably be as well. We can build a campfire and dry our
clothing and then go to bed.”

“Wish I had something to eat,” grumbled the lad who had been caught.

“So do I, Link. But we haven’t anything, so we’ll have to make the
best of it. Try to find some firewood. Luckily I have a waterproof
matchsafe along and it is full of matches,” added our hero.

Fate was kinder to them than they had expected, for in hunting for
firewood, Merwell found a hole containing what they took to be native
hares. He killed two of the creatures, and at once set to work to
clean and skin them. Then, when Dave had started the fire, the game
was broiled while the boys had their clothing drying.

“Not much of a meal, but better than nothing,” said Merwell, and our
hero agreed with him. They found some water in a hollow of the rocks,
left there by the hurricane, and had a drink, after which both lay
down to rest.

“Don’t you think we ought to stand guard?” asked the big youth.

“Oh, I don’t know,” replied Dave. “I am dead tired and so are you, and
I don’t think anybody will come to harm us,—and there are no large
wild beasts on the island. I guess we can take a chance,” and as soon
as their clothing was dry, both turned in, on beds of vines and moss.

In the morning Merwell was the first to stir, and when Dave awoke he
found the campfire burning merrily. The big youth was nowhere to be

“Can he have run away?” mused our hero, and quickly felt to learn if
the money-belt with the jewels was safe. It was still in its place and
he breathed a sigh of relief. Then he gave a call.

“Coming!” came from a distance, and in a few minutes Merwell put in an
appearance, bringing with him some berries and fruits.

“One of those sailors who came ashore with me told me about these,” he
said. “The berries we can eat raw and they are very good. The fruit we
can slice up and toast. They make a pretty decent meal,” and so it
proved, and both youths ate their fill. Then Dave announced his
intention of climbing the tree again and having another look around.

“That ship is at the south end of the island,” he announced. “It is
not the _Golden Eagle_, but a much smaller craft. Most likely it is
the vessel the Englishmen engaged. If it is, those three rascals will
have a chance to get away before Giles Borden can catch them and make
them give up the money they took from him.”

“Oh, Dave, do you think——” And then Merwell stopped short.

“What were you going to say, Link?”

“I was thinking if it would be possible for Nick to go away with those

“Why, yes, if he chanced to meet them, and they were willing to have
him. But would he go and leave you behind?”

“He might, especially if he found out I was captured, or that I had
let you have what jewels I was carrying.”

“If he went with those Englishmen he would be foolish to let them know
about the jewels, for they would rob him, just as they robbed Giles
Borden,” continued our hero, and then he realized that here was a new
peril to face. If the Englishmen got their hands on the jewels it
might be next to impossible to recover the gems, especially if the
rascals managed to get away from Cave Island.

Presently our hero saw a column of smoke arising in another portion of
the island. He watched it for several minutes and then gave a cry of

“I know where they are!”

“You mean your crowd?” queried Merwell.

“Yes. Phil is signaling to me, by means of a column of smoke such as
some Indians out west use. We learned the trick when we were at Star
Ranch. Come on, we’ll soon be with them. It isn’t very far.”

Dave had come down from his high perch in a hurry, and in a very short
time was ready to leave the spot. Merwell gave a deep sigh, for he did
not relish confronting his former schoolmates.

“It’s tough luck, but I suppose I’ve got to stand it,” he murmured, as
he followed Dave, after the fire had been extinguished. “When a fellow
makes a fool of himself he’s got to take the consequences.” And this
remark was so true that Dave did not dispute it.

On they went through the forest and then over a rocky hill. Three
times they came close to falling into the treacherous holes in which
the island abounded, and the last time poor Merwell got a fall that
almost sprained his ankle.

“We’ll rest a bit and you can bathe the ankle,” said Dave, kindly, and
got some water from a nearby pool.

“I don’t wonder nobody is living on this island,” grumbled the injured
one. “I suppose the natives around here are too afraid of falling into
some of those holes.”

“They are afraid of the caves and also afraid of volcanoes,” answered
Dave. “The mate of the _Golden Eagle_ told me that. Sometimes the
volcanoes break out here without warning and cover the rocks with hot

“Is that so? Well, I hope no volcano breaks out while I am here.”

At last the boys reached a small rise of ground and at a distance saw
the column of smoke, plainly. Dave put on extra speed and soon saw
Phil, Giles Borden, and several sailors—the survivors from the
ill-fated _Emma Brower_.


“Dave! At last!” cried the shipowner’s son, joyfully. “Are you hurt?”

“Not a bit of it. How are you?”

“All right, although I had several tumbles while hunting for you. You
disappeared in the strangest fashion.”

“I fell into a cave,—went down with Link Merwell.”

“Oh!” Phil gave a start. “Who is that in the bushes? Merwell, as sure
as I’m alive!”

“Yes, Phil. And what do you think? I’ve got part of the jewels—Link
had them in his money-belt.”

“Good enough! I was so afraid they had been lost out of that
jewel-case. Did you make Merwell a prisoner?”

“Well, in a way. He might have run away a dozen times, but I guess he
didn’t want to be alone. Besides, he has quarreled with Jasniff. I’ll
tell you all about it later,” went on Dave, in a lower tone.

Merwell had halted and now he came shuffling into the temporary camp.
He nodded sheepishly to the shipowner’s son and to the sailors.

“Got ye, did they?” said one of the tars, with a sneer.

“Yes,” answered the culprit, meekly.

“Humph! You’re a fine Dick to run away and steal jewels!” muttered the
sailor, and turned his back on the youth.

“Where are Roger and Captain Sanders and the others?” questioned Dave.

“Gone after you, and after Jasniff and those three rascally
Englishmen,” answered Phil. “I said I’d stay here and try that trick
with a column of smoke. I thought you might remember and look for it.”

“It was a good thing to do, Phil,” answered our hero, “for it brought
us straight to this spot.”


An hour went by and during that time Dave drew Phil to one side and
related the particulars concerning the doings of Merwell and Jasniff,
according to the story told by the former of the two evil-disposed

“I think Link feels pretty sore,” he continued. “So there won’t be any
use in rubbing it in.”

“What do you intend to do with him, Dave?”

“I don’t know yet. We’ll talk it over later on. The thing to do now is
to locate Jasniff and get the rest of the jewels. Don’t forget that he
has the finest of the diamonds. That is one thing that made Link
sore—Jasniff taking the lion’s share.”

“Well, that was the way Jasniff always did, even at school. Now you’ve
got back I’m willing to start the search for him any time you say,”
continued the shipowner’s son.

“We’ll wait a while and see if Roger and Captain Sanders return,”
answered our hero.

He was glad to rest, and threw himself on a bed of moss the sailors
had collected. Merwell sat against a tree, tired out, but too much
worried to sleep. Evidently he was trying to decide on what to do next
and wondering how he was to get out of the awful situation in which he
found himself.

Presently a shout was heard, and Roger burst into view, followed an
instant later by Billy Dill.

“Hello, Dave!” cried the senator’s son. “Got back, have you?” And then
he stared at Merwell. “Oh, are you here, too?”

“Yes,” returned the big youth, and that was all he could say.

“Dave, did you get the jewels Merwell had?” went on Roger.

“Yes. But, Roger, how did you know——”

“There is no time to talk it over now, Dave,” interrupted the
senator’s son, quickly. “We have got to act, and that at once! That
is, if you want to get back the rest of the jewels.”

“Why, what do you mean?” demanded Dave and Phil in a breath, and even
Merwell was all attention.

“Do you remember those Englishmen, the fellows who robbed Mr. Borden?
Well, we traced them to their camp, and what do you think? They met
Jasniff in some way, and he is friendly with them.”

“Did he tell them about the jewels?” demanded our hero.

“No, he was cute enough to keep the story of the jewels to
himself,—that is, we didn’t hear him tell them anything about the
gems. But he said he wanted to get away from the island as quickly as
possible, and without being seen by any of us, and he offered the
Englishmen a thousand dollars in diamonds if they’d help him. They
agreed to it, and all hands are waiting for some ship to come here and
take them off.”

“The ship I saw last night!” cried Dave, and told of the light on the

“It must be that ship!” exclaimed Phil.

“They’ll get away sure, unless you can stop ’em,” put in Merwell, and
he seemed to be almost as interested as anybody. It galled him
exceedingly to think that his companion in crime might escape.

“Roger, how did you learn this?” asked Dave.

“In a queer kind of a way. Billy Dill got on the trail of the three
Englishmen first and we followed them to one of the caves. Then one of
the Englishmen went away and after a while he came back with Jasniff,
and all hands went to another cave, close to the shore. We got into
one part of the cave and overheard what the crowd said, through a
crack in the rocks. We might have confronted Jasniff and demanded the
jewels, but we saw that the Englishmen were all armed and they looked
to be in an ugly mood, and Captain Sanders wanted no bloodshed if it
could be avoided. So then Billy Dill and I said we would come back
here and get Phil and the sailors.”

“I should think you’d do your best to capture Jasniff,” said Merwell.

“Do you want him captured?” asked Roger, sharply.

“Why not? He didn’t treat me fairly—and he planned the robbery in the
first place.”

“Well, if you want him taken you had better help us,” put in Phil.

“Say, Dave, if I help you catch Jasniff and get the rest of the jewels
back, will you—er—will you let me go?” faltered Link Merwell,

“I don’t know—I’ll see about it, Link,” answered Dave, and that was as
far as he would commit himself, for he remembered that this case was
for Mr. Wadsworth and the authorities to settle.

“I’ll help you all I can—just to get square with Nick!” muttered the
big youth. “I’ll show him that he isn’t the only frog in the puddle.”

“The sooner we go the better,” went on the senator’s son.

“I am ready now,” returned Dave. “I’ll not rest easy until Jasniff is
caught and the rest of those jewels are recovered.”

A few words more were exchanged, and then it was decided that the
whole party should follow Roger and Billy Dill to the spot from whence
they had come.

“Borden is very anxious to have the three Englishmen held,” said the
senator’s son.

“I suppose he wants to get back his money,” returned Dave. “I don’t
blame him.”

The path was through the forest and then along a rocky ridge. Here
walking was very uncertain, and Roger warned the others to be careful.

“An’ if ye ain’t careful ye’ll go into a hole to Kingdom Come!” put in
Billy Dill.

When the ridge was left behind they came to another patch of timber,
and then walked through a small cave with a large opening at either
end. In the center of this cave was a hole, at the bottom of which
flowed an underground river.

“If ever an island was rightly named, this is the one,” observed Phil.
“It is caves from one end to the other.”

“Listen! I thought I heard voices!” exclaimed Dave, suddenly, and held
up his hand for silence.

All listened closely and heard a faint murmur, coming from a distance.

“Sounds to me as if it was underground,” whispered Phil.

“Yes, but from what direction?” asked Roger.

“I think it comes from over yonder,” answered Dave. “Let us go there
and make sure.”

They walked on, soon coming to a spot where a place between the rocks
was covered with a matting of long vines, much intertwined.

“Keep quiet!” suddenly exclaimed our hero. “I know where they
are—behind those vines. There must be a cave there, and the vines make
a curtain for the entrance.”

“Who is it?” asked Merwell.

“I don’t know yet. Wait, all of you remain here, behind the rocks,
while I investigate.”

As silently as possible, Dave crawled forward, keeping close to the
rocks on one side of the cave’s entrance. Soon he was up to the
curtain of vines, and cautiously he thrust his hand forward, making a
small opening.

At first our hero could see little, but as his eyes became accustomed
to the gloom, he made out two forms lying on couches of vines,
smoking. The forms were those of the two Englishmen, Pardell and

“Well, Geswick ought to be coming back,” Dave heard Rumney say. “He
said he wouldn’t waste any time.”

“Maybe he had some trouble with that young fellow,” returned Pardell.
“Say, do you know he’s a queer stick? Where did he get those diamonds
he offered for his passage?”

“I don’t know, but I rather think he stole them.”

“Then perhaps he has more of the jewels.”

“Just what I was thinking—and Geswick thought the same.”

“If he has many of them——” The man paused suggestively.

“We might relieve him, eh?” returned the other.

“Why not? We cleaned out Borden. Two jobs of that sort are no worse
than one.”

There was a period of silence, and Dave moved back as quietly as
possible to where he had left his companions.

“Rumney and Pardell are there, in a long cave,” he whispered. “They
are waiting for Geswick and, I think, Jasniff.”

“But where are Captain Sanders and Smiley?” asked the shipowner’s son.

“I don’t know. Perhaps they are watching Jasniff and Geswick—or maybe
they have captured those rascals.”

“Oh, let me get at Pardell and Rumney!” cried Giles Borden. “I’ll
teach them to rob me!” And he started forward, flourishing a heavy
stick he had picked up.

“Wait! wait!” returned Dave, and caught him by the arm. “Don’t go yet.
Let us lie low until Geswick comes, and maybe Jasniff. We may be able
to capture all of them.”

“Can we handle so many?” asked Roger.

“I think so. Anyway we can try. Remember, Captain Sanders and Smiley
may be following Geswick and Jasniff, and if they are, they’ll come to
our aid.”

“I’ll wait, but it’s a hard thing to do, don’t you know,” grumbled the
Englishman who had been robbed.

“We had better set a guard, so that we are not surprised,” advised
Phil. “Supposing we scatter around the rocks and in the vines?”

This was agreed upon, and it was also agreed that Dave should give a
whistle when he wanted an attack made.

After this came a long period of waiting. All remained silent, until,
of a sudden, everybody was startled by a distant cannon shot.

“What in the world can that mean?” cried Phil, who lay close to our

“It’s a shot from a ship’s cannon, and it came from the direction of
the shore!” returned Dave. “It may be some sort of a signal.”

“Do you suppose it’s a summons to Pardell and Rumney?”

“It may be. Wait, I’ll look into the cave again and see what they are

Losing no time, our hero crawled forward once more to the position he
had before occupied. Then he pushed the vines aside and looked into
the long cave.

He could not suppress a cry of consternation. The two Englishmen had

“They are gone!” he called to his companions.

“Gone!” repeated Phil and Roger.

“Don’t tell me that!” fairly shrieked Giles Borden. “I must catch them
and get back my money!”

“Where did they go to?” asked Billy Dill, as he pushed through the
curtain of vines.

“They must have left the cave by some other opening,” answered Dave.
“Come on, we’ll soon find out!” And into the cave he rushed, his chums
and the others in the crowd following.

“I see another opening!” cried Merwell, a minute later. “Look!” And he
pointed down a passageway to the right.

“That’s the way they must have gone!” exclaimed Giles Borden. “After
them, all of you! If I get back my money, I’ll reward you well!” And
on he sped, with Merwell close at his heels and the others following.

“I don’t know if we are on the right track or not,” said Dave, to Phil
and Roger. “This cave may have other openings.”

Hardly had he spoken when there came a yell from Giles Borden,
followed by a cry from Link Merwell. Both had fallen into a small hole
that was filled with water. Each was much shaken up, but unhurt.

“It’s a broken neck somebody will get if we are not careful,” said one
of the sailors. “I’d rather be on the deck of a ship any day than on
an island like this.”

Soon they were out in the open once more. They were on a rise of
ground, and not a great distance away they could see the shore and the
rolling ocean.

“A ship!” cried Roger.

“But not the _Golden Eagle_!” returned Dave. “It must be the vessel
that was to stop for the Englishmen.”

“It is! It is!” bawled Giles Borden. “And look, there they are on the
shore, ready to embark, all of them!”

“Yes, and Jasniff is with them!” added Dave, Phil, and Roger in a


It was a startling discovery, and for the moment Dave and the others
did not know what to do.

“Do you see anything of Captain Sanders, or Smiley?” questioned our

“Not a thing,” returned the senator’s son. “It’s strange, too.”

“Oh, cannot we stop them in some manner?” pleaded Giles Borden.

“Come on—we’ll do what we can!” cried Phil.

“That’s the talk!” put in old Billy Dill. “Oh, for a gatling gun that
we might train on ’em!” he added.

All were calculating the distance to the shore. Between them and the
water was a slight hollow, overgrown with brushwood and vines. How
long would it take to find a path through that hollow?

“No use in staying here,” was Dave’s comment. “We’ll get there
somehow. But keep out of sight, if you can. We don’t want them to
discover us until the last minute.” All moved forward toward the
hollow. By walking well over to the left they managed to keep a
distant row of palms between themselves and those who were at the
water’s edge.

But progress was slow, as all soon discovered. The hollow was a
treacherous one, full of soft spots and pitfalls. Less than a hundred
feet had been covered when two of the sailors went down up to their
waists, and a second later Roger followed.

“Hold on, Roger! I’ll help you!” cried Dave, and he and Phil ran to
their chum’s assistance. They did not dare to go near the soft spot
and so all they could do was to throw the senator’s son a stout vine
for use as a rope, and then haul him out by sheer strength. In the
meantime the others went to the rescue of the two sailors, and they
were hauled out in similar fashion.

“This island certainly is the limit!” gasped Roger, when he was on
firm ground once more. “I wouldn’t live here if they made me a present
of the whole thing!”

“That’s right,” returned Phil. “Because, if you lived here, you might
some day find yourself buried before your time!” And this quaint way
of expressing it made all of the boys grin in spite of their

Beyond the hollow another difficulty confronted them. Here were some
sharp rocks, with deep cuts between. They had to climb over the rocks
with extreme care and do not a little jumping, all of which consumed
much valuable time.

“They’ll be off before we can reach them!” groaned Dave. “Oh, do
hurry, fellows!”

“I’m coming as fast as I can!” answered Phil.

“So am I,” added Roger.

“You ought to shoot at them, if they won’t stop,” put in Merwell.

“I’ll do what I can,” answered our hero. He was wondering how far the
present situation would justify the use of firearms.

At last the rocks were left behind, and the crowd found themselves in
the fringe of palm trees lining the sandy shore.

“Do you see them?” queried Phil, who was getting winded from his

“No, I don’t,” returned Dave. He had looked up and down the sandy
strip in vain for a sight of the Englishmen and Jasniff.

Beyond the beach was the reef with the ever-present breakers and far
beyond this the ship they, had before sighted. The schooner lay-to
with all sails lowered.

“There they are!” suddenly shouted Billy Dill. “Too late, boys, too

“Where? where?” came in a shout from the lads and from Giles Borden.

“Look out there, by the reef. Don’t you see the small boat in the
breakers?” went on the old sailor, pointing with his bronzed hand.

All gazed in the direction he indicated, and Dave and Giles Borden
could not repress a groan of dismay. For, riding the swells of the
ocean, could be seen a small boat, manned by two sailors. In the boat
sat four passengers.

“That’s Jasniff, I am sure of it!” cried Phil.

“And those three men are the fellows who robbed me!” muttered Giles
Borden. “Oh, what luck! Ten minutes too late!”

“Can’t we follow them in some way?” asked Roger.

“I don’t see how,” answered Dave. “Our rowboat is on the other side of
the island. Besides, even if we had a boat, I don’t believe we could
catch them before the schooner got underway. Oh, isn’t it a shame!”
And Dave fairly ground his teeth in helpless dismay.

“If we had a cannon!” murmured old Billy Dill. “A shot across the bow
o’ that craft would make the cap’n take warnin’, I’m thinkin’!”

“Do you suppose any other boat is handy?” asked the Englishman.

“We might look,” returned the senator’s son.

All were about to run out on the beach when Dave suddenly called a

“Don’t do it,” he said. “If we can’t follow them, it will be best for
the present not to show ourselves.”

“How’s that?” demanded Giles Borden. “It’s a bloody shame to let them
go in this fashion.”

“If they see us, they’ll know we are after them and they’ll sail away
as fast as possible,” went on our hero. “If they don’t see us, they
may take their time in getting away, and that will give us so much
better chance to catch them.”

“Dave is right!” cried the senator’s son. And the others agreed with
him, and all kept concealed behind the row of palms and the brushwood
and rocks. From that point they watched the small boat gradually
approach the schooner until it was alongside. Then a rope ladder was
lowered and the passengers mounted to the deck, after which the
rowboat was drawn up on the davits.

“What ship is that?” asked Phil.

“She is named the _Aurora_,” answered Giles Borden.

“The _Aurora_!” exclaimed Billy Dill. “Do ye mean the _Aurora_, Cap’n
Jack Hunker?”

“Yes, that’s the captain’s name.”

“Why, I know him!” went on the old tar. “Sailed with him once, in the
_Peter Cass_,—afore he took command o’ the _Aurora_. Say, Dave, he
used to be a putty good man. I can’t see how he would stand in with
sech fellers as Jasniff an’ them thievin’ Britishers.”

“Perhaps he doesn’t know what scoundrels they are,” returned our hero.

“Oh, they haven’t told him the truth, depend upon that,” said Giles
Borden. “They have fixed up some story to pull the wool over his eyes.
Most likely they’ll tell him that I am the rascal of the party and
that is why I am to be left behind.”

“If the captain of the _Aurora_ is all right, it may pay to signal to
him,” mused Dave. “I wish I had known of this before.”

“See! see! they are hoisting the sails!” cried Phil.

“If you are going to signal to the schooner, you had better do it
pretty quick,” advised Roger.

“I think I will. It can’t hurt much—they are going to sail away,
anyhow. Come on.”

All ran out on the sandy beach, and Dave discharged his shotgun twice
as a signal. The others waved tree-branches and brushwood, and Phil
even lit some of the latter, to make a smudge.

But if the signals were seen, no attention was paid to them. Those on
the schooner continued to hoist the sails, and presently the _Aurora_
turned away, leaving Cave Island behind.

As the schooner moved off Dave’s heart sank within him. On board of
the craft was Jasniff, and the rascal had the larger portion of the
Carwith jewels in his possession.

“It’s a shame!” burst out Phil. “Oh, why didn’t we get hold of Jasniff
when you collared Link!”

“Where is your own ship?” asked Merwell. “Why don’t you find her and
follow that crowd?” He felt as sour as ever over the thought that he
had been captured while his companion in crime had escaped.

“I wish the _Golden Eagle_ would come in,” answered Dave. “I can’t
understand what is keeping her, unless she suffered from that storm
and had to lay to for repairs.”

“And where do you suppose Captain Sanders and Smiley are?” put in

“I don’t know. They may have fallen into one of the caves, or they may
have been made prisoners by those who have sailed away.”

“Prisoners? I never thought of that!” exclaimed Giles Borden. “Yes, it
would be just like Geswick and those other scoundrels to treat them in
that fashion.”

“Well, it won’t do us any good to remain here,” went on our hero. “We
may as well scatter and see if we can’t locate the captain and the

This was considered good advice and tired as the crowd was, all went
on the hunt, some up the shore and some down, and the others inland.

Dave and Roger walked down the shore, why neither could exactly tell.
They passed the palms and brushwood, and leaving the sand, commenced
to climb over some rocks. Then Dave began to shout.

At first no reply came to his calls, but presently he heard a groan,
coming from behind the rocks.

“Let us see what it means!” he exclaimed to the senator’s son, and
they hurried in the direction of the sound with all speed.

Back of the rocks was a grove of plantains, and in the center was the
remains of a thatched hut, evidently built by natives years before. On
the ground in front of this hut lay Captain Sanders and the sailor,
Smiley. Each had his head bound up and each was nursing a bruised

“Captain Sanders!” cried Dave, in astonishment.

“Dave Porter!” returned the commander of the _Golden Eagle_, joyfully.
“My, but I am glad you have come!”

“You are hurt?”

“Yes. Those scoundrels attacked us from behind and knocked us

“You mean those three Englishmen?”

“Yes, and that fellow Jasniff was with them.”

“But your ankles are hurt, too?” went on Dave.

“We hurt them when we fell into one of the beastly caves, or holes. We
were following Jasniff and the Englishmen, and also looking for you
and the others. Then those rascals got behind us in some way, and the
first thing I knew I got a whack behind the ear that knocked me

“And I got the same,” said Smiley. “Oh, I wish I had my hands on those

“They have sailed away,” said Roger.

“Away!” cried the captain. “How?”

In a few brief words our hero and his chum told of the advance to the
beach and of what they and the others had witnessed. Captain Sanders
shook his head, soberly.

“That’s too bad,” he said. “They’ve got a good start and it will be
hard to follow them.”

“How can we follow them, when the _Golden Eagle_ isn’t here?” said

“But she is here—on the other side of the island.”

“Oh, are you sure?” cried our hero.

“Yes. I saw her coming in,—when we were on one of the hills. She was
minus her foretopmast, which shows she must have suffered some in that

“If that’s the case, let us get to her with all possible speed, go
aboard, and follow the _Aurora_,” returned Dave.


It took the best part of the afternoon and evening to get the whole
party together again, and send word to the mate of the _Golden Eagle_
to bring the vessel around to that side of Cave Island. And while this
was being done the hurts Captain Sanders and Smiley had received were
cared for as well as the means at hand permitted.

The captain and the wounded sailor had a long story to tell, of how
they had followed the three rascally Englishmen and Nick Jasniff, and
how the latter had made a compact with the others, so that they would
take him with them when they left the island.

“The Englishmen were a bit afraid of the captain of the _Aurora_,”
said Captain Sanders, “and we overheard them discuss the situation.
They knew the captain would want to know what had become of the fourth
man he had left here. At last they resolved to try a trick, but they
weren’t sure it would work. But evidently it did, for the schooner has

“What was that trick?” asked Dave.

“It seems that when Mr. Borden was on the _Aurora_ he had a headache
from the sun and wore smoked glasses. Is that right, sir?”

“It is,” answered Giles Borden. “The glare on the waves was beastly,
and I wore the smoked glasses all day long.”

“Well, the rascals planned to have Jasniff impersonate Mr. Borden. One
of them, Geswick, exchanged coats and caps with him, and lent him a
pair of smoked glasses, and he was to tie up his cheeks and pretend to
be suffering from toothache, and keep to his stateroom as much as
possible during the trip.”

“Oh, what a thing to do—impersonate me!” roared Giles Borden, in a
rage. “Just wait till I confront him!”

“Yes, you’ll have to wait,” put in Phil, dryly.

“Did you find out where they were going to sail to?” asked Dave,

“To San Juan, on the island of Porto Rico. But they may make some
stops on the way.”

“San Juan,” mused Roger. “That’s a good many miles from here. Perhaps
the _Golden Eagle_ can catch the _Aurora_ before she gets there.”

“If they went to San Juan direct I’d advise waiting till they got in
that harbor before I’d do anything,” said Captain Sanders.

“Why?” asked the boys.

“Because it is one thing to stop them on the high seas and another to
stop them in United States waters. Remember, Porto Rico is now a part
of Uncle Sam’s domain.”

“Yes, I’d rather go at them there than on the high seas,” answered
Dave. “But they mustn’t get away again, no matter where we have to
tackle them,” he added, determinedly.

It was impossible to transfer those ashore to the _Golden Eagle_
during the darkness, because of the danger in the breakers, so they
had to wait until daylight before departing.

Among those to go were, of course, the sailors who had come ashore
from the wreck of the _Emma Brower_. Captain Sanders told them they
could remain on the island if they wished, but they set up an
immediate protest.

“It’s not a fit place for any man,” said one of the tars. “There is
very little game and not much fruit, and one is continually in danger
of falling into a hole or a cave. I’ll go to Porto Rico gladly, and so
will my mates, and we’ll work our passage, if you’re willing.”

“All right,” said Captain Sanders. “But you’ll not have much to do, as
we have about all the hands we need.”

When aboard the ship, the captain and the boys listened to the story
the mate had to tell. Then they learned that the storm had blown the
_Golden Eagle_ many miles from Cave Island, and in trying to avoid
some of the keys of another island, the vessel had lost the top of one
of the masts and the rudder had been damaged. This had necessitated
much delay, which accounted for the non-appearance of the vessel when

While making repairs, the vessel had been passed by a tramp steamer
bound for Trinidad. The captain of the steamer had asked if he could
be of assistance, and after being told no, had given the information
that he had picked up three rowboat loads of passengers and crew from
the ill-fated _Emma Brower_. It may be mentioned here that another
boat load from the same vessel managed to reach another island in that
vicinity, and in the end it was learned that the going down of the
bark was unattended with the loss of a single life.

With so many on board, the accommodations on the _Golden Eagle_ were
somewhat crowded. The sailors went with Billy Dill into the
forecastle, while Giles Borden was asked to share Captain Sanders’
stateroom. What to do with Link Merwell became a question. In one
sense he was a prisoner, yet Dave hated to treat him as such.

“There is the extra pantry,” said Captain Sanders. “We can clean that
out and put in a cot, and he can use that,” and so it was arranged,
much to the relief of all of the boys. The pantry had a grating,
opening on the main passageway, so it made a fairly comfortable
stateroom, although rather hot.

“Well, I suppose I’ve got to take my medicine, when we get back,”
grumbled Link Merwell, when given his quarters.

“What else could you expect?” returned Dave. “If this was my affair
alone, Link, I might let you go, now you have given up the jewels. But
what is to be done is for Mr. Wadsworth and the authorities to say.”

Merwell had confessed that he and Jasniff had taken the skates and
other things at Squirrel Island, and told where they had been left, in
a barn along the river, and how they might be recovered. He had also
admitted impersonating Dave on several occasions and ordering goods in
our hero’s name, and doing other mean things of which he had been
suspected, and said he was heartily sorry for his actions.

Soon the _Golden Eagle_ was ready for the departure from Cave Island.
As the sails were hoisted the boys gathered on deck to take a last
look at the remarkable spot.

“It is really and truly Cave Island,” declared Dave. “I don’t believe
any other place in the world is so full of caves and holes!”

“I am glad the volcanoes didn’t get busy while we were there,”
remarked the shipowner’s son.

“So am I,” added Roger. “The caves and holes were bad enough, without
adding other perils.”

“Dave, do you think we’ll catch that schooner?” went on Phil, after a
pause, during which the boys watched the ship drawing away from the

“I sincerely hope so,” was the serious reply. “If we don’t, and
Jasniff gets away, this mission down here will have proved almost a

“Then you think Jasniff has the most of the jewels?”

“Yes. If you’ll remember, the jewels that were taken were valued at
about seventy-five thousand dollars. Well, I have looked at the jewels
I got from Link, and so has Mr. Borden, who knows something about
gems, and we have come to the conclusion that those Link turned over
to me are not worth over fifteen thousand dollars. That means that
Jasniff has about sixty thousand dollars’ worth.”

“Isn’t that like Jasniff!” cried the senator’s son. “Always wanted the
big end of everything! It’s a wonder he and Link didn’t quarrel

“They did quarrel, and Link wanted to leave him several times, but
didn’t dare, for Jasniff threatened to expose him. In one way, I am
sorry for Link,—but, of course, he had no right to commit such a

After Cave Island was left in the distance, Captain Sanders had a long
conference with Giles Borden concerning the Englishmen who had robbed
him. Later a general talk took place between the pair and the boys.

“I am afraid we’ll have to trust to luck to catch the _Aurora_ or
locate her,” said the captain, finally. “She may go to San Juan and
she may go elsewhere.”

“If we pass any other vessels, can’t we ask if they saw the schooner?”
ventured Dave.


The day went by and also the next. Link Merwell kept to himself, only
speaking when addressed. He felt his position keenly, and would no
doubt have given a great deal if he could have cleared himself. He was
learning that the way of the transgressor is hard.

On the third day, early in the morning, they passed a big barkentine
bound for South American ports. Greetings were exchanged, and Captain
Sanders asked concerning the _Aurora_.

“Yes, we met her,” was the reply. “Yesterday, about two bells in the
afternoon watch.”

“Did she say where she was bound?”

“Bound for San Juan, Porto Rico.”


“Yes. She was going to stop elsewhere, but the captain allowed he’d
make straight for San Juan,” added the captain of the barkentine,
through the megaphone he was using. Then, after a few words more, the
two vessels separated.

“It’s San Juan sure!” cried Dave. “From what Mr. Borden and Billy Dill
say of Captain Hunker he would not tell a falsehood. I guess the best
thing we can do is to sail for that port.”

“I think so myself,” returned Captain Sanders.

The chase was now a definite one, and Dave felt much relieved. He
wondered if they would be able to overtake the _Aurora_ before Porto
Rico was reached.

“We can do that with ease,” answered Captain Sanders when questioned.
“But even so, she may not stick to just the course we take, and we may
pass her in the night. So don’t worry if we don’t see or hear anything
before San Juan is reached.”

“I’ll try not to worry,” answered our hero. Yet he could not help it,
for so much depended on the successful outcome of his mission. He knew
that those at home must be in deep distress, and he could picture the
anxiety of Mr. Wadsworth and his wife and Jessie, and also the anxiety
of his own folks.

“Oh, we’ve got to catch Jasniff and get back those jewels!” he told
himself. “We’ve simply got to do it! I won’t give up, if I have to
follow him around the world!”

It had been warm, but now the weather changed and a strong breeze made
living far more comfortable. The breeze was favorable to sailing, and
the _Golden Eagle_ plowed the deep at a good rate of speed. Many of
the islands of the Lesser Antilles were passed, and some truly
dangerous reefs, and then the course was straight for the harbor of
San Juan, on the northeastern coast of Porto Rico.

They had seen nothing so far of the _Aurora_, but on the afternoon of
the last day out they were passed by a freight steamer from the south
and received word that the schooner was not far away and making for
San Juan.

“I guess we had better go right in and get the authorities to take
hold,” said Captain Sanders. “This is no matter for us to handle, now
we are in United States waters once more.”

Dave agreed; and as soon as possible they entered the harbor and went
ashore. It was an easy matter to notify the harbor police, and inside
of two hours half a dozen officers of the law were detailed to make
the necessary arrests. Dave and Giles Borden and Captain Sanders went
with them, leaving Phil, Roger, and the others aboard the _Golden

The patrol boat of the harbor police had to remain on the watch all
night and half the next morning before the _Aurora_ was sighted.

“There she is!” cried Dave, at last, and Giles Borden echoed the
words. Then the patrol boat lost no time in steaming alongside of the

“Hello, what’s wanted?” demanded Captain Hunker, as he saw the
officers of the law.

“We’ll come aboard, captain,” said the officer in charge.

“What’s the matter?”

“We are after four of your passengers.”

At that moment somebody appeared near the rail, to learn what the
shouting meant. It was Nick Jasniff. He gazed at the officers of the
law and then at Dave. As he recognized our hero his face fell and he
looked totally dumfounded.


“Jasniff, I want to see you!” shouted Dave.

“What do you want of me, Dave Porter?” returned the big youth, as
boldly as he could.

“You know well enough.”

“Humph! You think you’ve got me, don’t you?” sneered Nick Jasniff, and
then he left the rail of the vessel and disappeared down a

By this time the officers of the law were boarding the _Aurora_,
accompanied by Giles Borden and Captain Sanders.

“Where are those bloody rascals who robbed me?” exclaimed the
Englishman, excitedly. “Just let me get my hands on them!”

“I don’t understand this!” returned the captain of the schooner, in
surprise. “You’ll have to explain.”

“You have three Englishmen aboard here—fellows you took to Cave Island
when I was with them.”

“Say, you’re that fourth man!” gasped Captain Hunker. “But that other
chap,—the fellow with smoked glasses, who had his face tied up——” He
did not know how to go on.

“He impersonated me, the villain! But I am after the others, for they
robbed me of over a thousand pounds, don’t you know!”

“Where are your passengers?” demanded the officer in charge of those
from the patrol boat, sternly.

“If they are not on deck they must be below,—they had no chance to
leave the ship,” answered Captain Hunker. “This gets me!” he went on,
weakly. “I thought they acted rather strange, but I supposed they were
nothing but a crowd of weak-minded critters hunting for pirates’

At that moment Geswick, Pardell, and Rumney came on deck, having heard
the tramping of feet overhead and wondering what it meant. Almost
before he could speak, Giles Borden had Geswick by the throat and was
shaking him violently.

“Will rob me, and leave me a prisoner in that cave!” he roared. “I’ll
teach you a lesson! Give me my money, you bloody scoundrel!” And then
he banged Andrew Geswick’s head against a mast.

“Ho, let up!” yelled the criminal. “Let up, I say!” And he tried to
squirm away. But it was useless, and in a minute more one of the
officers of the law handcuffed him, and Pardell and Rumney were also

“Now I want my money!” stormed Giles Borden. “Every shilling of it!”

“I haven’t any of it,” replied Rumney. “Geswick and Pardell have it
all.” Rumney had had a quarrel with his fellows, just as Merwell had
quarreled with Jasniff.

“Just you wait, Rumney; we’ll fix you for going back on us,” growled
Andrew Geswick. But this threat did him little good. In the end he and
Pardell had to hand over every penny taken from Giles Borden, and then
they were marched off to jail, to await a hearing before the

In the meantime Dave had run across the deck and followed Jasniff down
the companionway. He was afraid that the evil-minded youth might hide
the stolen jewels or throw them overboard.

When he got below he looked around, but could see nothing of the other
boy. He ran along a passageway, peering into one stateroom after
another, and also into the cabin and the pantry. Then he heard
something like a cover drop near by and hurried in that direction.

Jasniff was in a corner stateroom on his hands and knees. Beside him
was a flat steamer trunk, which was closed. It was the lid of this
trunk that Dave had heard drop.

“Jasniff, come out of that!” ordered Dave, sternly. “Come right out
and hand over those jewels.”

“Say, Dave Porter, you think you are smart, don’t you?” sneered the
big youth, as he got up on his feet.

“Never mind what I think. I want those jewels, every one of them, and
I am going to have them.”

“I haven’t any jewels.”

“I know better.”

“All right then, you can search me if you want to—and search my
baggage, too,” went on Jasniff, and held out his arms as if willing to
have the investigation begin on the spot.

“If you haven’t the jewels on your person, you have hidden them,” went
on Dave. “Bring them out, right away.”

“Not much, Porter, I am not that kind of a fool.” Jasniff lowered his
voice to a whisper. “To outsiders I won’t acknowledge I have the
jewels, but if you’ll fix it so I go clear, I’ll see to it that old
Wadsworth gets the gems back.”

“I’ll fix nothing, Jasniff, and you’ll hand over every jewel, and do
it right now!” cried Dave, and now he was so angry that he leaped on
the criminal and threw him backward over the trunk.

But if Dave was strong, so was Jasniff, and, as of old, the rascal
thought nothing of playing a foul trick. Around and around the
stateroom went both boys, with first Dave on top and then his
opponent. Then suddenly Jasniff pulled himself away and caught up a
water pitcher that was on a stand.

“I’ll fix you!” he roared, in the same tone of voice he had employed
when he had once attacked Dave in the Oak Hall gymnasium, and he
brought the heavy pitcher down straight for Dave’s head.

Had the blow landed as intended, our hero would have been knocked
senseless and perhaps seriously hurt. But quick as the bully was, Dave
was quicker, and leaped to one side. Then he let out with his fist,
landing on Jasniff’s jaw,—a blow that sent the fellow crashing over
into a corner. As Jasniff came up, Dave hit him again, and this time
he went down all but knocked out.

“Dave!” called a voice from the doorway at that moment, and Captain
Sanders appeared. “Having a tussle, eh? Want any help?”

“May be,” panted our hero. “He attacked me with the water-pitcher!”
And he pointed to the fragments of chinaware that lay on the floor.

“Do-don’t h-hit me again!” spluttered Nick Jasniff.

“Will you hand over the jewels and behave yourself?”

“I—I haven’t got the jewels,” and now Jasniff arose unsteadily to his

“Perhaps he’s hidden them,” suggested the captain of the _Golden
Eagle_. “It would be like him to do it.”

“I’ll search him first and then look around the room. Where are those

“They have their hands full just now with those Englishmen. But I’ll
call them if you wish it.”

“No, just see that he doesn’t get away,” answered Dave.

A rapid search of Jasniff’s clothing told our hero that the rascal did
not have the gems on his person. Then Dave looked into the steamer

“Are they there?” inquired Captain Sanders.


“You’ll never get them from me,” growled Jasniff, and gave Dave a look
that was full of the keenest hatred. “I’ll go to prison for life
before I’ll give them up, now!”

“Watch him carefully,” said Dave to the captain, and got down on his
hands and knees in front of the berth in the room.

“Nothing under there!” cried Jasniff, but his voice had a trace of
anxiety in it.

Dave felt around, but found nothing unusual. Then he lit a match and
continued his search. Soon he saw where a board of the side wall had
been pried loose and then shoved back into place. He pulled on the
board and it came out, revealing a small compartment between two
upright posts. In the compartment was something wrapped in a bandanna
handkerchief. He pulled it out and crawled from under the berth.

“I think I’ve found it,” he said, in a voice he tried in vain to
steady. Then he untied the handkerchief and brought to light a money
belt, exactly like that taken from Link Merwell. He placed it on the
steamer trunk and opened it with care. The sight that met his gaze was
a dazzling one. The money-belt contained all that Jasniff had carried
of the Carwith jewels.

“My, but that’s a sight!” murmured Captain Sanders.

“Going to return them, I suppose,” sneered Nick Jasniff. “You’re a big
fool to do it! I’d keep them, and have a good time on the proceeds.”

“I am not built that way,” answered Dave, shortly. “I’ll put this
around my waist, with the other,” he added, and lost no time in
adjusting the second money-belt. It wasn’t particularly comfortable to
wear those two belts, yet Dave felt a tremendous satisfaction in so

Jasniff was made to march on deck, and there he was handcuffed like
the other prisoners. He no longer pretended to have a toothache, but
he did have a jaw-ache, from Dave’s blow.

The most surprised man was Captain Hunker, and he readily told his
story of how the Englishmen had hired him to take them to Cave Island
and then call for them later. When Jasniff had appeared, with the
smoked glasses and the bandage on his face, he had pitied the fellow
but had not paid much attention to him. When Dave had fired his gun
from the shore, Geswick had explained that other fortune hunters were
on the island but that they wanted nothing to do with the crowd, so
the master of the _Aurora_ had gone off without investigating.

Inside of an hour all of the interested parties had gone ashore, and
the three rascally Englishmen and Nick Jasniff were marched off by the
officers of the law. Roger and Phil appeared and wanted to know the
particulars of the capture.

“And what are you going to do next, Dave?” asked the senator’s son.

“Get back to Crumville with the jewels, just as soon as I can get
away. But I’ve got to arrange it with the police first.”

“Aren’t you going to send word ahead?” asked Phil.

“Of course. I’ll send a cablegram to-day.”

“Won’t they be surprised and glad to get it!” murmured Roger.

“And maybe I’m not glad to be able to take the jewels back with me!”
answered Dave, his eyes glistening.

An officer had been sent to take charge of Link Merwell, who had been
left on board the _Golden Eagle_. An hour later came word that Merwell
could not be found. He had left the vessel in some mysterious manner,
dressing himself in one of Dave’s best suits before going. A little
later Dave learned that Merwell had left San Juan for the interior of
Porto Rico. The officers of the law said they would look for him.

The cablegram to Mr. Wadsworth was sent, and soon a reply came back.
Then came nearly a week of waiting for a steamer that would take the
boys to New York. In the meantime matters were arranged with the
authorities so that they could get away, and take the jewels with
them. A detective accompanied them, to make certain that the jewels
would be properly delivered, for the whole case was now in the hands
of the law. Giles Borden remained in San Juan, to press his charge
against his fellow countrymen. Captain Sanders remained in the harbor,
to await orders from Phil’s father.

“Sorry to part with you boys,” said the captain, as he shook hands.
“Hope you’ll sail with me again some day.”

“An’ sail with me, too,” put in old Billy Dill, who was present, and
as much interested as anybody.

“But not on such a mission as this has been,” returned Dave.

“Nor to such a place as Cave Island,” added Roger.

“For caves and pitfalls that island certainly was the limit,” was
Phil’s comment.

The voyage to New York proved to be uneventful, and all of the lads
were glad when it was over. Arriving in the metropolis, they lost no
time in getting a train for Crumville, the detective going with them,
and Dave carrying the precious jewels.

And then what a home-coming followed! All the Wadsworths and the
Porters were at the depot to meet them, and everybody was brimming
over with good feeling. Mrs. Wadsworth fairly hugged Dave, and Laura
kissed him over and over again, and even Jessie could not resist the
temptation to rush into his arms.

“Oh, Dave, to think you really got the jewels!” said Jessie. “Oh, I’m
so glad! What a hero you are!” And she gave him a look that touched
him to the bottom of the heart.

And then came Mr. Wadsworth, his voice shaking with emotion, and then
Dave’s father, and Uncle Dunston.

“One lad out of a million!” murmured the manufacturer. “Mr. Porter,
you can well be proud of Dave!”

“And I am proud of him,” replied the parent, heartily.

“We are all proud,” added Dunston Porter.

In the excitement it must not be supposed that Phil and Roger were
forgotten. While Dave related his story to the men, and delivered the
jewels to Mr. Wadsworth, his chums had to tell about all that had
occurred, to Mrs. Wadsworth and the girls. And the questions that were
asked and answered would fill a chapter and more.

“And what will they do to Jasniff?” asked Laura.

“Undoubtedly put him in prison for a number of years,” answered the
senator’s son. “And he deserves it.”

“What a misspent life!” sighed Mrs. Wadsworth.

“And what about Link Merwell?” asked Jessie.

“I don’t know what they’ll do to him. Perhaps they won’t catch him,”
said Phil.

“If they don’t, I hope he turns over a new leaf and makes a real man
of himself,” said Laura.

Dave had gone to the jewelry works with the men, and soon Phil and
Roger followed. Here the jewels were examined with care, being checked
off on a list,—the duplicate of a receipt Oliver Wadsworth had given
to the owner of the gems.

“Four stones are missing,” announced the manufacturer. “And they are
worth less than a thousand dollars. Dave, you certainly did well.”

“We can get back at least two of those stones,” answered Dave. “The
pawnbrokers will have to give them up.”

“Then the loss will be less than five hundred dollars—a mere trifle
alongside of what it might have been. Dave, I’ll not offer you a
reward, for I know you won’t take it. But I thank you, my boy, I thank
you most heartily!” And Mr. Wadsworth caught Dave by both hands, while
tears of emotion stood in his eyes.

“It saved us all from a tight place, if not ruin,” added Dunston

“How is that old watchman?” asked our hero, to change the subject.

“You mean the man who was hurt?” asked his father. “He is about as
well as ever.”

“And have you heard from Hooker Montgomery?”

“Not a word, and we sha’n’t need to, now.”

“Any word from Oak Hall?” asked Roger.

“Yes, the place opened again last week.”

“Then I suppose we’ll have to get back once more,” said Phil. “Well,
we’ve had a long enough vacation,—if you can call it such,” he added,
with a grin.

“And such adventures!” murmured Roger. “We’ll never see such strenuous
times again, eh, Dave?”

“There is no telling, we may,” answered Dave. There were still many
adventures ahead, and what they were will be related in the next
volume of this series, to be entitled, “Dave Porter and the Runaways;
or, Last Days at Oak Hall,” in which we shall meet our hero and his
chums and enemies once more.

“If we are to go back to Oak Hall so soon, let us have all the fun we
can,” said Dave, after the matter of the jewels had been settled; and
the next day he and his chums and the girls went out for a grand
sleighride, for it was still winter at home, even though it had been
like summer on Cave Island.

“Dave, are you glad to be back?” asked Jessie, while they were gliding
over the snow.

“Yes, I am,” he answered. “And doubly glad to be here, at your side,”
he added, in a lower voice.

“Oh, Dave, I was so afraid while you were away!”

“Of what?”

“That those bad boys would harm you! Oh, please be careful in the
future, for my sake.”

“All right, Jessie, I’ll be careful,” he answered, and then, under the
big robe, he gave her little hand a tight squeeze, and I don’t know
but that Jessie gave him a squeeze in return. To her Dave was the
finest boy in all the world.

“Let’s have a song!” cried out Phil, from the seat in front.

“Right you are!” returned Dave. “What shall it be?”

“Oh, anything!” came from the girls in concert; and then they started
to sing one familiar song after another; and while they are singing
let us say good-by and take our leave.

                                THE END

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