Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Satan - A Romance of the Bahamas
Author: Stacpoole, H. De Vere (Henry De Vere)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Satan - A Romance of the Bahamas" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



SATAN



  SATAN

  A Romance of the Bahamas

  _By_
  H: DE VERE STACPOOLE

  AUTHOR OF “THE BLUE LAGOON,” “THE BEACH
  OF DREAMS,” ETC.


  [Illustration]


  NEW YORK
  ROBERT M. McBRIDE & COMPANY
  1921



  Copyright, 1920, by
  ROBERT M. McBRIDE & CO.


  _Printed in the
  United States of America_


  Published, · 1921



CONTENTS


  PART I

  CHAPTER                                 PAGE
       I  PALM ISLAND                        1

      II  A FLOATING CARAVAN                 6

     III  BREAKFAST                         16

      IV  PAP’S SUIT                        23

       V  THE PORTMANTEAU                   34

      VI  SKELTON SAILS                     58

     VII  CARQUINEZ                         68

    VIII  JUDE OVERDOES IT                  79

      IX  THE “JUAN” SAILS                  96

       X  CUSS WORDS                       107

      XI  THE COMING OF CLEARY             116

     XII  AN HONEST MAN                    123

    XIII  PROBLEMS                         130

     XIV  HANTS AND OTHER THINGS           136

      XV  UNDER WAY                        144

     XVI  THE STEERSMAN                    150


  PART II

    XVII LONE REEF                         157

   XVIII  THE WRECK                        169

     XIX  MUTINY                           174

      XX  THE SANDSPIT                     183

     XXI  DISHED                           193

    XXII  THE CRABS                        199

   XXIII  THE RETURN                       206

    XXIV  A BOTTLE OF RUM                  215

     XXV  THEY FIRE THE FUSE               220

    XXVI  THE CARGO                        226

   XXVII  CROCKERY WARE                    232

  XXVIII  TIDE AND CURRENT                 238

    XXIX  SATAN IN PARADISE                243

     XXX  A SECRET OF THE SAND             253

    XXXI  THE GO-ASHORE HAT                259

   XXXII  CLEARY!                          267

  XXXIII  THE FIGHT                        272

   XXXIV  “I’LL TAK!”                      280


  PART III

    XXXV  THE VANISHED LIGHT               285

   XXXVI  THE WEDDING PRESENT              295



PART I



SATAN



CHAPTER I

PALM ISLAND


The sky from sea-line to sea-line was crusted with stars, a triumphant,
cloudless, tropic night-sky beneath which the _Dryad_ rode at her
anchor, lifting lazily to the swell flowing up from beyond the great
Bahama bank.

She was Skelton’s boat, a six-hundred-tonner, turbine engined, rigged
with everything new in the way of sea valves and patent gadgets, and
she had anchored at sundown off Palm Island, a tiny spot, gull haunted,
and due west of Andros.

Skelton was a Christchurch man, Bobby Ratcliffe a Brazenose, and Bobby,
tonight, as he leaned on the starboard rail smoking and listening to
the wash of the waves on the island beach, was thinking of Skelton,
who was down below writing up his diary. Before coming on this “winter
cruise to the West Indies in my yacht” Bobby did not know that Skelton
kept a diary, that Skelton was so awfully Anglican, so precise, so
stuffed with the convenances, that he dined in dress clothes even in
a hurricane, that he had a very nasty, naggling temper, that he had
prayers every Sunday morning in the cabin which the chief steward,
the under stewards, and the officers off watch were expected to
attend--also Bobby. Two other men were booked for the cruise, but they
cried off at the last moment. If they had come, things might have been
different. As it was, Bobby, to use his own language, was pretty much
fed up.

Skelton was a right good sort, but he was not the man with whom to
share loneliness, and Bobby, who had plenty of money of his own, was
thinking how jolly this winter cruise would have been if he had only
taken it on board a passenger liner, with girls and deck quoits and
cards in the evening, instead of Skelton.

Bobby was only twenty-two, a good-looking clean youth, well-balanced
enough, but desirous of fun. Oxford had not spoiled him a bit. He had
no “manner,”--just his own naturalness,--and he had shocked Skelton at
Barbados by getting a great negro washing woman on board (she had come
alongside in a blue boat) and giving her rum, for the fun of the thing.
“Debauching a native woman with alcohol!” Skelton had called it.

Skelton vetoed shark fishing. It messed his decks. He was like an old
woman about his decks. “I tell you what you ought to do, Skelly,” Bobby
had said. “You ought to start a blessed laundry!” They had nearly
quarreled at Guadeloupe over sharks.

And again at St. Pierre, where, lying off the ruins of the town,
Skelton had likened it to Gomorrah, declaring it had been destroyed
because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.

“And how about the ships in the bay?” had asked Bobby. “What had they
to do with the business? Why weren’t they given notice to quit?”

“We won’t argue on the matter,” replied Skelton.

And there was still two months of this blessed cruise to be worked out!

He was thinking of this when Skelton came on deck, his white
shirt-front shining in the starlight. He was in an amiable mood tonight
and, ranging up beside Bobby, he spoke about the beauty of the stars.

It was chiefly on Bobby’s initiative that they had dropped the anchor
so that they might prospect the island on the morrow, and as they
smoked and talked the conversation passed from stars to desert islands,
and from desert islands to the old Spaniards of the West Indies,
bucaneers, filibusters, pirates, and Brethren of the Coast.

Perhaps it was the starlight, or the tepid wind blowing up from the
straits of Florida, or the distant starlit palms of Palm Island that
set Skelton off and touched a vein in his nature hitherto unsuspected:
whatever it was, he warmed to his subject and for the first time on the
voyage became interesting. He could talk! Nombre de Dios, Carthagena,
and Porto Bello,--he touched them alive again, set the old plate-ships
sailing and the pirates overhauling them, sacked cathedrals of gold and
jewels, showed Bobby Tortuga, the great rendezvous of the bucaneers and
the Spaniards attacking it, men marooned on desolate places like Palm
Island, treasure buried--and then all of a sudden closed up and became
uninteresting again. The remnants of the boy in him had spoken, the
old pirate that lives in most men’s hearts had shown his head. Perhaps
he was ashamed of his warmth and enthusiasm over these old romantic
things--who knows? At all events, he retired into himself and then went
below to find a book he was reading, leaving the deck to Bobby and the
anchor watch.

Then the moon began to rise from beyond the Bahamas, a vast, full moon,
with the sea seeming to cling to her lower limb as she freed herself.
Dusky, at first, she paled as she rose, and now, in her light, the
palms of the island and the coral beach showed clear.

Palm Island is a scrub of cactus and bay cedar bushes, half a mile long
and quarter of a mile broad, with not more than forty trees. Crabs and
turtles and gulls are its only visitors, and desolation sits there
visible and naked. But in the moonlight, on a night like this and seen
from the sea, it is fairyland--storyland.

Ratcliffe, his mind full of pirates and bucaneers, Spaniards and
plate-ships, found himself wondering if men had ever been marooned
here, if Morgan and Van Horn and all that crowd had ever had dealings
on that beach, and what the moon could tell about it all if she could
remember and speak. He was thinking this when the creak of block and
cordage struck his ear, and past the stern of the _Dryad_ came gliding
the fore canvas of a small vessel, a thing that seemed no larger than a
fishing boat.

She had been creeping in from the sea unnoticed by them as they talked.
Skelton had gone below without sighting her, and she was so close that
the slap of her bow-wash came clearly as she passed.

He watched her gliding shoreward like a phantom, and then across the
water came a voice, shrill as the voice of a bird:

“Seven fathom!”

And on top of that another voice:

“Let go!”

The rumble--tumble--tumble--of an anchor chain followed, and then the
silence of the night closed in, broken only by the far-off wash of the
waves on the beach.

This ghost of the sea fascinated Ratcliffe. He could see her now riding
at anchor against the palms and bay cedars of the island.

She was shedding her canvas; and now a glow-worm spark, golden in the
silver of the moonlight, climbed up and became stationary but for the
lift and fall of the swell as she rode at her moorings. It was her
anchor light.

He listened for voices. None came. Then he saw a lantern being carried
along her deck. It vanished, probably through a hatch.

Then he went below, and, dropping asleep the instant he turned in,
dreamt that he was marooned on Palm Island with Skelton, and Skelton
was trying to hang him on a palm tree for a pirate, and the gulls
were shouting “Seven fathom!--seven fathom--seven fathom!” Then came
oblivion and the sleep of youth that defies dreams.



CHAPTER II

A FLOATING CARAVAN


Next morning, an hour after sunrise, Ratcliffe came on deck in his
pajamas,--gorgeous blue and crimson striped pajamas,--a sight for the
gods.

The sky was cloudless. The wind of the night before had fallen to a
tepid breathing scarcely sufficient to stir the flag at the jackstaff,
and from all that world of new-born blue and mirror-calm sea there came
not a sound but the sound of the gulls crying and quarreling about the
reef spurs of the island.

Amid the glory of light and color and against the palms and white beach
lay the ghost of the night before, a frowzy-looking yawl-rigged boat of
fifty feet or so, a true hobo of the sea, with wear and weather written
all over her and an indescribable something that marked her down even
to Ratcliffe as disreputable.

Simmons, the second officer, was on deck.

“She must have come in last night,” said Simmons. “Some sea scraper or
another working between the islands--Spanish most likely.”

“No, she’s not Spanish,” said Ratcliffe. “I saw her come in and I heard
them shouting the soundings in English--look! there’s a chap fishing
from her.”

The flash of a fish being hauled on board had caught his eye and fired
his passion for sport. They had done no fishing from the _Dryad_.

He borrowed the dinghy from Simmons and, just as he was, put off.

“Ask them to sell some of their fish, if they’ve any to spare,” cried
Simmons as the dinghy got away.

“Ay, ay!” replied Ratcliffe.

The sea blaze almost blinded him as he rowed with the gulls flying
round and shouting at him. As he drew up to the yawl the fisherman
lugged another fish on board. The fisherman was a boy, a dirty-faced
boy, in a guernsey, and as the dinghy came alongside he stared at the
pajama-clad one as at an apparition.

“Hullo, there!” cried Ratcliffe, clawing on with the boathook.

“Hullo, yourself!” replied the other.

“Any fish for sale?”

“Any what?”

“Fish.”

The boy disappeared. Then came his voice, evidently shouting down a
hatch.

“Satan, below there!”

“Hullo!”

“Here’s the funniest guy come alongside wants to know if we’ve got fish
to sell him. Show a leg!”

“One minute,” replied the second voice.

The boy reappeared at the rail in the burning sunlight. “The cap will
be up in a minute,” said he. “What in the nation are you got up like
that for?”

“What?”

“Them things.”

Ratcliffe laughed.

“I forgot I was in my pajamas. I must apologize.”

“What’s pajamas?”

“My sleeping suit.”

“You sleep in them things?”

“Of course.”

“Well, I’m damned!” said the boy. Then he gave a sudden yell of
laughter and vanished, sitting down on the deck evidently, while
another form appeared at the rail, a lantern-jawed, long-haired,
youthful figure, rubbing the sleep out of its eyes. It stared at the
occupant of the dinghy, then it opened its mouth and uttered one word:

“Moses!”

“He sleeps in them things!” came a half-strangled voice from the deck.
“Satan, hold me up, I’m dyin’!”

“Shut your beastly head!” said Satan. Then to Ratcliffe, “Don’t be
minding Jude,--Jude’s cracked,--but you sure are gotten up--Say, you
from that hooker over there?”

“Yes.”

“What are you?”

“Nothing.”

Another explosion from the deck, stifled by a kick from Satan.

“But what are you doing here, anyway?”

Ratcliffe explained, Satan leaning comfortably on the rail and
listening.

“A yacht--well, we’re the _Sarah Tyler_. Pap and me and Jude used to
run the boat. He died last fall. Tyler was his name, and Satan Tyler’s
mine. He said I yelled like Satan when a pup and he put the name on
me--Say, that’s a dandy boat. I’m wanting a boat like that. Will you
trade?”

“She’s not mine.”

“That don’t matter,” said Tyler with a laugh. “But I forgot: you aren’t
in our way of business.”

“What’s your way of business?”

“Lord! Shut up, Satan!” came the voice from the deck.

“Well, Pap was one thing or another; but we’re respectable, ain’t we,
Jude?”

“Passons to what Pap was,” agreed the voice in a quieter tone, and it
came to Ratcliffe that the figure of Jude remained invisible, being
ashamed to show itself after having guyed him.

“We’re out of Havana, and we scratch round and make a living,” went on
Tyler, “and the boat being ours we make out. There’s lots to be had on
these seas for the looking.”

“Do you work the boat alone?”

“Well, we had a nigger to help since Pap died. He skipped at Pine
Island a fortnight ago. Since then we’ve made out. Jude’s worth a man
and don’t drink--”

“Who says I don’t drink?” Two grimy hands seized the rail and the body
and face of Jude raised themselves. Then the whole apparition hung,
resting midriff high across the rail, just balanced, so that a tip
from behind would have sent it over.

“Who says I don’t drink? How about Havana Harbor last trip?”

“They gave her rum,” said Satan gloomily, “gave her rum in a doggery
down by the waterside--curse the swabs! I laid two of them flat and
then got her aboard.”

“Her!” said Ratcliffe.

“Blind, wasn’t I?” cut in Jude hurriedly.

“Blind you were,” said Tyler.

Jude grinned. Ratcliffe thought he had never met with a stranger couple
than these two, especially Jude. Hanging on with the boathook, he
contemplated the dirty, daring face whose fine, gray, long-lashed eyes
were the best features.

“How old are you?” asked he, addressing it.

“Hundred an’ one,” said Jude. “Ask me another.”

“She’s fifteen and a bit,” said Tyler, “and as strong as a grown man.”

“I thought she was a boy,” said Ratcliffe.

“So I am,” said Jude. “Girls is trash. I’m not never goin’ to be a
girl. Girls is snots!”

As if to prove her boyhood, she hung over the rail so that he feared
any moment she might tumble.

“She’s a girl, right enough,” said Tyler as if they were discussing an
animal, “but God help the skirts she ever gets into!”

“I’d pull them over me head and run down the street if anyone ever
stuck skirts on me,” said Jude. “I’d as soon go about in them pajamas
of yours.”

Ratcliffe was silent for a moment. It amazed him the familiarity that
had suddenly sprung up between himself and these two.

“Won’t you come aboard and have a look around?” asked Tyler, as though
suddenly stricken with the sense of his own inhospitality.

“But the boat?”

“Stream her on a line--over with a line, Jude!”

A line came smack into the dinghy, and Ratcliffe tied it to the painter
ring. Next moment he was on board, and the dinghy, taking the current,
drifted astern.

No sooner had his feet touched the deck of the _Sarah Tyler_ than he
felt himself encircled by a charm. It seemed to him that he had never
been on board a real ship before this. The _Dryad_ was a structure
of steel and iron, safe and sure as a railway train, a conveyance, a
mechanism made to pound along against wind and sea; as different from
this as an aëroplane from a bird.

This little deck, these high bulwarks, spars, and weather-worn
canvas,--all them collectively were the real thing. Daring and distance
and freedom and the power to wander at will, the inconsequence of the
gulls,--all these were hinted at here. Old man Tyler had built the
boat, but the sea had worked on her and made her what she was, a thing
part of the sea as a puffin.

Frowzy looking at a distance, on deck the _Sarah Tyler_ showed no sign
of disorder. The old planking was scrubbed clean and the brass of the
little wheel shone. There was no raffle about, nothing to cumber the
deck but a boat,--the funniest-looking boat in the world.

“Canvas built,” said Tyler, laying his hand on her; “Pap’s invention;
no more weight than an umbrella. No, she ain’t a collapsible: just
canvas and hickory and cane. That’s another of Pap’s dodges over
there, that sea anchor, and there’s ’nother, that jigger for raising
the mudhook. Takes a bit of time, but half a man could work it, and I
reckon it would raise a battleship. There’s the spare, same as the one
that’s in the mud--ever see an anchor like that before? Pap’s. It’s a
patent, but he was done over the patentin’ of it by a shark in Boston.”

“He must have been a clever man,” said Ratcliffe.

“He was,” said Tyler. “Come below.”

The cabin of the _Sarah Tyler_ showed a table in the middle, a hanging
bunch of bananas, seats upholstered in some sort of leather, a telltale
compass fixed in the ceiling, racks for guns and nautical instruments,
and a bookcase holding a couple of dozen books. A sleeping cabin
guarded by a curtain opened aft. Nailed to the bulkhead by the bookcase
was an old photograph in a frame, the photograph of a man with a
goatee beard, shaggy eyebrows, and a face that seemed stamped out of
determination--or obstinacy.

“That’s him,” said Jude.

“Your father?”

“Yep.”

“It was took after Mother bolted,” said Tyler.

“She took off with a long-shore Baptis’ minister,” said Jude. “Said
she couldn’t stand Pap’s unbelievin’ ways.”

“He made her work for him in a laundry,” said Tyler.

“It was at Pensacola, up the gulf, and a year after, when we fetched up
there again, she came aboard and died. Pap went for the Baptis’ man.”

“He wasn’t any more use for a Baptis’ minister when Pap had done with
him,” said Jude. “That’s his books--Pap’s. There’s dead loads more in
the spare bunk in there.”

Ratcliffe looked at the books. Old man Tyler’s mentality interested him
almost as much as the history of the Tyler family,--“Ben Hur,” Paine’s
“Age of Reason” and “Rights of Man,” Browne’s “Popular Mechanics,”
“The Mechanism of the Watch,” “Martin Chuzzlewit,” and some moderns,
including an American edition of “Jude the Obscure.”

“Some of those came off a wreck he had the pickin’s of,” said Tyler, “a
thousand-tonner that went ashore off Cat Island.”

“That was before Jude was born,” said Ratcliffe.

“Lord! how do you know that?” said Jude.

Ratcliffe laughed and pointed to the book. “It’s the name on that
book,” said he. “I didn’t know: I just guessed.”

“I reckon you’re right,” said Tyler, opening a locker and fetching out
cups and saucers and plates and dumping them on the table. “Not that
it matters much where it come from, but you’ve got eyes in your head,
that’s sure. Say, you’ll stay to breakfast, now you’re aboard?”

“I’d like to,” said Ratcliffe, “but I ought to be getting back: they
won’t know what’s become of me. And besides I’m in these.”

“That’s easy fixed,” said Tyler. “Jude, tumble up and take the boat
over to the hooker and say the gentleman is stayin’ to breakfast an’ll
be back directly after. I’ll fix him for clothes.”

Jude vanished, and Tyler, going into the after-cabin, rousted out an
old white drill suit of “Pap’s” and a pair of No. 9 canvas shoes.

“They’re new washed since he wore them,” said Tyler. “Slip ’em on
over your what’s his names and come along and lend me a hand in the
galley--can you cook?”

“You bet!” said Ratcliffe.

Eased in his mind as to the _Dryad_, the boy in him rose to this little
adventure, delightful after weeks of routine and twenty years of
ordered life and high respectability. He had caravaned, yachted in a
small way, fancied that he had at all events touched the fringe of the
Free Life--he had never been near it. These sea gipsies in their grubby
old boat were It! A grim suspicion that these remains of the Tyler
family sailed sometimes pretty close to the law and that their sea
pickings were, to put it mildly, various did not detract in the least
from their charm. He guessed instinctively they were not rogues of a
bad sort. The lantern-jawed Satan had not the face of a saint. There
were indications in it indeed of the possibility of a devilish temper
no less than a desperate daring, but not a trace of meanness. Jude was
astonishingly and patently honest, while old man Tyler, whose presence
seemed still to linger on in this floating caravan, had evident titles,
of a sort, to respect.

He was helping to fry fish over the oil-stove in the little galley when
Jude returned with the information, delivered through the shouting of
the frying pan, that everything was all right, and the message had been
delivered to a “guy” in a white coat who was hanging his fat head over
the starboard rail of the _Dryad_; that he had told her to mind his
paint; that she had told him not to drop his teeth overboard, and he
had “sassed” her back; that the _Dryad_ was a dandy ship, but would be
a lot dandier if she were hove up on some beach convenient for pickin’
her.

Then she started to make the coffee over an auxiliary stove, mixing her
industry with criticisms of the cookery and instructions as to how fish
should be fried.

“Jude does the cookin’ mostly,” said Tyler, “and we’d have hot rolls
only we were under sail last night and she hadn’t time to set the
dough. We’ll have to make out with ship’s bread.”

Considering the condition of Jude’s grubby hands, Ratcliffe wasn’t
sorry.



CHAPTER III

BREAKFAST


The amount of food those two put away was a revelation to Ratcliffe,
and from start to finish of the meal they never stopped talking.
One being silent, the other took up the ball. They had cottoned to
Ratcliffe, evidently from the very first moment, for, at the very first
moment, Tyler had been communicative about himself and his ship and his
way of life. An ordinary ship’s officer coming alongside would have got
fish at a price if he had been civil or a fish flung at his head if he
had given “sass”: Ratcliffe got friendship.

It was maybe his youth and the fact that all young people are
Freemasons that did the business; the humor of the gorgeous pajamas may
have helped. Anyhow, the fact remained. He had secured something that
knowledge or position or fortune could not have bought,--the good will
and conversation of this pair, the history of the Tylers, and more than
a hint of their life on these seas. They had four thousand dollars in
the bank at Havana left by Pap, not to be touched unless the _Sarah
Tyler_ came to smash. They had no house rent or rates; no expenses but
harbor dues, food, oil, and tobacco, and not much expense for food--at
least just at present.

Tyler winked across the table at Jude and Jude grinned.

“Shut your head,” said Jude, “and don’t be givin’ shows away!” then
suddenly to Ratcliffe, “We’ve got a cache.”

“Who’s giving shows away now?” asked Tyler.

“Oh, he won’t split,” said Jude.

“It’s on the island here,” said Tyler, “near a ton of stuff, canned. A
brig went ashore south of Mariguana. We picked up the crew and heard
their yarn and got the location. Then a big freighter came along and
took the men off us. The wreck was only a hundred and fifty miles from
our position, and we reckoned the salvage men wouldn’t be on the spot
for a fortnight or more and something was due to us for savin’ that
crew; so we lit out for the wreck. We had four days’ work on her. She
was straddled on a reef with twenty fathoms under her counter and a
flat calm, all but a breathin’ of wind. We made fast to her, same as if
she’d been a wharf. We had the nigger then to help, and we took enough
grub to last us two years an’ fourteen boxes of Havana cigars and a
live cat that was most a skeleton.”

“She croaked,” put in Jude. “Satan fed her half a can of beef cut
small, and then she scoffed half a bucket of water--that bust her.”

“We wouldn’t have been so free in taking the things but for the lie
of the hooker on the reef and the weather that was sure coming,” said
Tyler. “We knew all about the weather and the chances. And we didn’t
cast off from that hooker an hour too soon! We were ridin’ out that
gale three days, and when we passed the reef again making west the brig
was gone.”

“And you cached the stuff here?”

“Yep.”

“But we hadn’t to make no cache hole,” put in Jude. “Pap had one here.
It’s among the bushes--and he didn’t make it, neither.”

“It’s all coral rock a foot under the bushes,” said Tyler, “and there’s
a hole you drop down six foot, that leads to a cave as cool as a
refrigerator; so the goods would keep to the last trumpet. The old
Spaniards must have cut it to hide their stuff in. Pap dropped on it
by chance. Said they’d used it for hidin’ gold and such. Not that he
believed in the buried treasure business--sunk ships is different.”

Jude, who was hacking open a can of peaches, suddenly made an awful
face at Satan. It had the effect of cutting him short. Ratcliffe
refused the peaches. He sat watching this pair of cormorants and
thinking that the cache must be pretty big if it held two years’
provisions for them.

Then suddenly he said so, laughing and without giving the least
offense. Tyler explained that the cache was not their only larder:
there were fish and turtle and turtle eggs, birds sometimes, fruit to
be had for next to nothing, often for nothing. The only expense was
for tobacco, and he had not paid ten cents for tobacco since last fall
and wouldn’t want to for a year to come; clothes, and they didn’t want
much clothes, Jude did the mending and patching; paint, and the _Sarah
Tyler_ had ways and means of getting paint and all such, spars and so
on. He gave a wonderful instance:

Before Christmas last they had chummed up with a big yacht on the
Florida coast near Cedar Cays. Thelusson was the owner, a man from New
York. He took a fancy to the _Sarah_ and her way of life, and he and
his crew helped to careen her in a lagoon back of the reefs, cleaned
her copper (she was dead foul with barnacles and weeds), gave her a
new main boom and foresail and some spare canvas, and all for nix. He
had no paint, or he would have painted her. He drank champagne by the
bucket, and he wanted to quit the yacht and go for a cruise with them,
only his missus who was on board wouldn’t let him.

Ratcliffe thought he could visualize Thelusson.

“She was a mutt,” put in Jude, “with a voice like a muskeeter.”

“She wanted to ’dopt Jude and stick a skirt on her,” said Tyler.

“Handed me out a lot of sick stuff about sayin’ prayers and such,”
hurriedly cut in Jude.

“And put the nightcap on it by kissin’ her,” finished Tyler.

Jude’s face blazed red like a peony.

“If you chaps have had enough, I’m goin’ to clear,” said Jude.

“Right!” said Satan, rising, and she cleared, vanishing with the
swiftness of a rabbit up the companionway.

Tyler fetched out a box of cigars. They were Ramon Alones.

“She won’t speak to me now for half a day,” said Tyler. “If you want
to guy Jude, tell her she’s a girl. I wouldn’t a told you, only you’re
not in our way of life and so can’t make trouble. No one knows. There’s
not a man in any of the ports knows: she goes as me brother. But the
Thelusson woman spotted her on sight--Come on deck.”

Jude was emptying a bucket of refuse overboard, then she vanished into
the galley, and Ratcliffe, well fed, lazy, and smoking his cigar,
leaned for a moment over the rail before taking his departure, talking
to Tyler.

To starboard lay Palm Island, with the sea quietly creaming on the
coral beach and the palms stirring to the morning wind, to port the
white _Dryad_ riding to her anchor on the near-shore blue, and beyond
the _Dryad_ the violet of the great depths spreading to the far
horizon, beyond which lay Andros, and the islands, reefs, and banks
from Great Abeco to Rum Cay. Not a sail on all that sea, nor a stain on
all that splendor: nothing but the gulls wheeling and crying over the
reefs to southward.

But Satan’s mind as he leaned beside Ratcliffe was not engaged by the
beauty of the morning or the charm of the view. Satan was a dealer with
the sea and the things that came out of the sea or were even to be met
with floating on the waves. Ratcliffe was one of these things.

“You’ve never had no call to work?” said Satan tentatively. “You’ve
lots of money, I s’pect, and can take things easy.”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“Like fishin’?”

“You bet!”

“Well, if you ever wants to see good fishin’ and more than ordinary
folk see of the islands here, drop me a word to Havana. Kellerman,
marine store dealer, Havana, will get me. He’s a pal of mine. I fetch
up in Havana every six months or so--and there’s more than fishin’--”

Tyler stopped short, then he spat overboard and began to fill his pipe.
He had no use for cigars--much.

“How do you mean more than fishing?”

“Well, I don’t know. We’re underhanded a bit for any big job and I
wouldn’t trust most men. They don’t grow trustable parties in Havana,
nor the coast towns--not much. I’ve taken a likin’ to you somehow
or ’nother, and if ever we come together again I’ll tell you maybe
somethin’ that’s in my mind. You see, between Pap and me and the old
_Sarah_, we’ve seen close on thirty years of these waters right from
Caicos to N’y’Orleans and down to Trinidad. Turtle egg huntin’ and
fishin’ and tradin’, there’s not a reef or cay we don’t know. The old
_Sarah_ could find her way round blind. Put her before the wind with
the wheel half a spoke weather helm and leave her, and she’d sniff the
reefs on her own.”

“You were saying about something more than fishing,” persisted
Ratcliffe, whose curiosity had been, somehow, aroused.

“I was,” said Tyler; “but I’m not free to speak about private affairs
without Jude, and there’s no use in tacklin’ her when she’s snorty.
Listen to that!”

Sounds were coming from the galley as of a person banging pots and pans
about.

Tyler chuckled.

“It’s always the same when her dander is up,--she starts cleanin’ and
dustin’ and makin’ hell of the place. Mother was the same. I reckon
a woman can’t help bein’ a woman, not if she had a hundred pair of
breeches on.”

“Well,” said Ratcliffe, “I’d like to come for a cruise, and I will some
day, I hope. Maybe I’ll see you on the island later. I was intending
going ashore today to have a look round: that’s why we anchored here.”

“Maybe I’ll see you ashore then,” said Tyler, “but if I’m not there,
mind and say nothin’ of the cache.”

“Right!”



CHAPTER IV

PAP’S SUIT


Jude, having been fetched out of the galley, the canvas boat was got
overboard.

Ratcliffe had offered to shed Pap’s suit and return in his pajamas as
he had come, but Tyler vetoed the idea. The far-seeing Satan, who had
snaffled a careen and clean up, not to speak of a main boom and spare
canvas, out of Thelusson, had an object in view.

“It’s no trouble,” said he. “You take the dinghy, and we’ll take the
boat and fetch the duds back. It’s late in the mornin’ for you to be
boarding your ship in them colored things.”

One of the big fish caught that morning was dropped into the boat as a
“present for the yacht,” and they started.

The accommodation ladder was down and Simmons and a quartermaster
received Ratcliffe. As he went up the side he heard Tyler shouting to
Simmons something about the fish. There was no sign of Skelton on deck,
for which he was thankful, then he dived below to change.

Now “Pap’s” suit had been constructed for a man of over six feet and
broad in proportion and a man, moreover, who liked his clothes loose
and easy. On Ratcliffe they recalled the vesture of Dr. Jekyll on Mr.
Hyde. The saloon door was closed. He opened it, and found himself face
to face with Skelton, who was sitting at one end of the saloon table
reading from a book, while Strangways the captain, Norton the first
officer, Prosser the steward, and sundry others ranged according to
their degree sat at attention.

It was Sunday morning. He had forgotten that fact, and there was no
drawing back. He reached his cabin, mumbling apologies to the dead
silence which seemed crystallized round Skelton, closed the door, and
stuffed his head among the pillows of his bunk to stifle his laughter,
then he undressed and dressed.

As he dressed he could hear through the open port the voice of Tyler
from alongside. The voice was pitched in a conversational key; it was
saying something about a lick of white paint. He was talking evidently
to Simmons.

Then, fully dressed, with the bundle of clothes and the canvas shoes
under his arm, Ratcliffe peeped into the saloon. The service was over
and the saloon was empty. He reached the deck. It was deserted save for
a few hands forward and Simmons.

Then he came down the accommodation ladder to the stage, and handed the
clothes over to Satan.

A drum of white paint and a coil of spare rope were in the boat close
to Jude, and Satan was saying to Simmons something about a spare ax.

“Well, if you haven’t got one, there’s no more to be said,” finished
Satan; then to Ratcliffe, “See you ashore, maybe.”

Jude grinned kindly, and they pushed off, the boat a strake lower in
the water with their loot.

The fat-faced Simmons watched them with the appearance of a man just
released from mesmerism.

“That chap would talk the hat off one’s head,” said he. “I’ll have h--l
to pay with Norton over that paint; most likely I’ll have to put my
hand in my own pocket for it. But he’s a decent chap, that fellow, but
sharp--the way he landed me with that fish for a bait!”

“He’s all there,” said Ratcliffe.

“So’s the boy,” said Simmons. “Come alongside after you’d gone, to
say you were staying to breakfast with them. Told him to mind and not
damage the paint. Let out like a bargee at me--and Sir William Skelton
listening!”

“Where’s Sir William now, Simmons? He wasn’t in the saloon when I’d
finished dressing.”

“I expect he’s in his cabin,” said Simmons.

Ratcliffe got a book and, taking his seat under the double awning
sheltering the quarterdeck, tried to read. He had chosen a History
of the West Indies, the same book most likely from which Skelton had
“cadged” his information of the night before. The printed page was
dull, however, compared to the spoken word, and he found himself
wondering how it was that Skelly could have warmed him up so to all
this stuff and yet be such an angular stick-in-the-mud in ordinary
life. What made him such a superior person? What made him at thirty
look forty, sometimes fifty, and what made him, Ratcliffe, fear Skelly
sometimes, just as a schoolboy fears a master?

He guessed he was in for a wigging now for cutting breakfast and
appearing like a guy before the officers, and he knew instinctively the
form the wigging would take,--a chilly manner and studious avoidance
of the subject, that would be all,--Christchurch on a wet Sunday
for forty-eight hours, with the Oxford voice and the Oxford manner
accentuated and thrown in.

At this moment Sir William Skelton, Bart., came on deck,--a tall, thin
man, clean shaved, like a serious-minded butler in a yachting suit of
immaculate white drill. His breeding lay chiefly in his eyes: they
were half-veiled by heavy lids. He had an open mother-of-pearl-handled
penknife in his hand.

Free of the saloon hatch and not seeing Ratcliffe, he stopped dead like
a pointer before game and called out “Quartermaster!”

A quartermaster came running aft.

Some raffle had been left on the scupper by the companionway, a fathom
or so of old rope rejected by Tyler as not being the quality he was
“wantin’.”

He ordered it to be taken forrard, then he saw Ratcliffe and nodded.

“’Morning,” said Skelton.

He walked to the rail and stood with his hand on it for a moment,
looking at the island and the _Sarah Tyler_.

Jude and Satan were at work on something aft. In a minute it became
apparent what they were doing. They were rigging an awning in imitation
of the _Dryad’s_, an impudent affair made out of old canvas brown with
weather and patched from wear.

It was like seeing a beggar woman raising a parasol.

Skelton sniffed; then he turned and, leaning with his back against
the bulwarks, began attending to his left little fingernail with the
penknife.

“Ratcliffe,” said Skelton suddenly and apparently addressing his little
finger, “I _wish_ you wouldn’t!” He spoke mildly, in a vaguely pained
voice. It was as though Ratcliffe had acted in some way like a bounder;
more, and, wonderfully, he actually made Ratcliffe feel as though he
had acted in some way like a bounder. He was Ratcliffe’s host; that
gave an extra weight to the words. The whole thing was horrible.

“Wouldn’t what?” said Ratcliffe.

Skelton had been rather hit in his proprieties by a man going off his
boat in pajamas and remaining away to breakfast on board a thing like
the _Sarah Tyler_ in his pajamas; but the real cause of offense was
“Pap’s” suit suddenly appearing at Sunday morning prayers. The chief
steward had grinned.

Skelton, though a good sailor, an excellent shipmaster, and as brave as
a man need be, was a highly nervous individual. A general service on
deck for the whole crew was beyond him: he compromised by conducting a
short service in the saloon. Even that was a tax on him. The entrance
of Ratcliffe in that extraordinary get-up had joggled his nervous
system.

“If you can’t understand, I can’t explain,” said Skelton. “If our
cases had been reversed, I should have apologized. However, it doesn’t
matter.”

“Look here, Skelly!” said Ratcliffe. “I’m most awfully sorry if I have
jumped on your corns, and I’ll apologize as much as you want, but the
fact of the matter is we don’t seem to hit it off exactly, do we? You
are the best of good people, but we have different temperaments. If
those other fellows had come along on the cruise, it would have mixed
matters more. We want to be mixed up in a big party more, you and I, if
we want to get on together.”

“I told you before we started I disliked crowds,” said Skelton, “and
that only Satherthwaite and Magnus were coming. Then, when they failed,
you said it didn’t matter, that we should be freer and more comfortable
alone.”

“I know,” said Ratcliffe. “It was my mistake, and besides I didn’t want
to put you off the cruise.”

“Oh, you would not have put me off. I should have started alone. I am
dependent on no one for society.”

“I believe you would have been happier alone.”

“Perhaps,” said Skelton with tight lips.

“Well then, shove me ashore, somewhere.”

“That is talking nonsense!” said Skelton.

Ratcliffe had risen and was leaning over the rail beside the other. His
eyes were fixed on the _Sarah Tyler_, the disreputable _Sarah_, and as
he looked at her Jude and Satan suddenly seemed to him real live free
human beings and Skelton as being not entirely alive nor, for all his
wealth, free.

It was Skelton who gave the Tylers a nimbus, extra color, fascination,
especially Jude. There was a lot of fascination about Jude, even
without the background of Skelton.

“It’s not talking nonsense a bit,” said he, “and, if you can trundle
along the rest of the cruise alone, I’ll drop you here.”

“Drop you on this island?”

“No--I’d like to go for a cruise with those chaps--I mean that chap in
the mud barge over there. He asked me, any time I wanted to.”

“Are you in earnest?”

“Of course I am. It would be no end of a picnic, and I want to shove
round these seas. I can get a boat back from Havana.”

Skelton felt that this was the washerwoman of Barbados over
again,--irresponsibility--bad form. He was, under his courteousness as
a host, heartily sick of Ratcliffe and his ways and outlook. A solitary
by inclination, he would not at all have objected to finishing this
cruise by himself. All the same, he strongly objected to the idea just
put before him.

What made him object? Was he insulted that the _Dryad_ should be turned
down in favor of the frowzy, disreputable-looking _Sarah Tyler_, that
the companionship of the Tylerites should be preferred to his? Did
some vague instinct tell him they were the better people to be with
if one wanted to have a good time? Was high conventionality outraged
as though, walking down Piccadilly with Ratcliffe, the latter were to
seize the arm of a dustman?

Who knows? But he bitterly and strongly objected. And how and in what
words did he show his objection and anger?

“Then go, my dear fellow, go!” said he as though with all the good will
in the world.

“Right!” said Ratcliffe. “But are you sure you don’t mind?”

“Mind! Why should I mind?”

“One portmanteau full of stuff will do me,” said Ratcliffe, “and I have
nearly a hundred and fifty in ready money and a letter of credit on
the Lyonnaise at Havana for five hundred. I’ll trundle my stuff over
if you’ll lend me a boat, and be back for luncheon. You’ll be off this
evening, I suppose, and I can stay aboard here till you get the anchor
up. It’s possible I might pick you up at Havana on the way back; but
don’t worry about that. Of course all this depends on whether that
fellow will take me. I’ll take the portmanteau with me and ask.”

He did not in the least see what was going on in Skelton’s mind.

“You will take your things with you in a boat, and if this--gentleman
refuses to take you, what then?”

“I’ll come back.”

“Now I want to be quite clear with you, Ratcliffe,” said Skelton.
“If you leave my ship like that--for nothing--at a whim and for
disreputable chance acquaintances--absolute scowbankers--the worst
sort--I want to be clear with you--quite, absolutely definite--I must
ask you not to come back!”

“Well, I’m hanged!” said Ratcliffe, suddenly blazing out. “First
you say go and then you say don’t! Of course that’s enough: you’ve
practically fired me off your boat.”

“Do not twist my words,” said the other. “That is a subtle form of
prevarication I can’t stand.”

“I think we had better stop this,” said Ratcliffe. “I’m going! If I
don’t see you again. I’ll say goodby.”

“And please understand,” said the other, who was rather white about the
mouth, “please understand--”

“Oh, I know,” said Ratcliffe. “Goodby!”

He dived below to the saloon and rang for his bedroom steward.

Burning with anger and irritation and a feeling that he had been sat
upon by Skelton, snubbed, sneered at, and altogether outrageously
used, he could not trust himself to do his own packing. He sat on his
bunkside while the steward stuffed a portmanteau with necessaries, and
as he sat the thought came to him of what would happen were Tyler to
refuse to take him. He would have to take refuge on Palm Island. It was
a comic opera sort of idea; yet, such was the state of his mind, he
actually entertained it.

Skelton was no longer “Skelly,” but “that beast Skelton.” Then he
tipped the steward and the chief steward, telling them that he was
going for a cruise in that “yawl over there.” On deck he met Norton
and Simmons and told them the same tale. Skelton had vanished to his
cabin. He told the first and second officers that he had said goodby to
his host and asked for a boat to be lowered.

“I’ll pick you up most likely at Havana,” said he to gloze the matter
over. “I expect I’ll have a good time, but rather rough. I want to do
some fishing.”

The whole thing seemed like a dream and not a particularly pleasant
one. Embarked on this business now, he almost wished himself done with
it. The yacht was comfortable, the cooking splendid; to satisfy any
want, one had only to touch a bell. There were no bells on board the
_Sarah Tyler_. A lavatory and a sort of bathroom invented by “Pap” were
the only conveniences, and the bath was impracticable. It was “Pap’s”
only failure, for the sea-cock connecting it with the outer ocean was
so arranged or constituted that as likely as not it would let in the
Caribbean before you could “stop it off.”

If Skelton now, at the last moment, had asked Ratcliffe to come down
and have an interview, things might have been smoothed over, but
Skelton was not the sort of man to make advances; neither, in his way,
was Ratcliffe.

Meanwhile, Simmons was directing the lowering of a boat. The
companionway was still down. The luggage was put in, and Simmons,
seated by Ratcliffe in the stern seats, took the yoke lines. Not a sign
of Skelton, not even a face at a porthole!

“Give way!” shouted Simmons.

As they drew up to the _Sarah Tyler_, Ratcliffe saw Satan leaning over
the rail and watching them. Jude was nowhere visible.

“Hullo!” said Ratcliffe as they came alongside. “I’ve come back.”

“I was half-expectin’ you,” said Satan with a grin.

“Will you take me for that cruise right off?”

“Sure! That your dunnage?”

“Yes.”

Satan stepped to the cabin companionway and shouted down it.

“Jude!”

“Hullo!” came Jude’s voice.

“He’s come back!”



CHAPTER V

THE PORTMANTEAU


As Jude came on deck the portmanteau was being hoisted on board.
Ratcliffe passed down a five-pound note to the boat’s crew, and then
stood, waving to Simmons as the boat put away. Then, turning to
Satan, he tried to discuss terms, but was instantly silenced by Jude
and Satan. They would hear nothing of money. Used to sea changes and
strange happenings, they seemed to think nothing of the business, and
after the first words fell to talking together.

The trend of their talk induced in Ratcliffe a vaguely uncanny feeling.
It was as though they had already discussed his coming on board and
the storage of himself and his baggage, as though they had known by
instinct that he would return. The size of the portmanteau affected
Jude.

“You can’t keep that,” said Jude, giving the portmanteau a slight kick.
“It’s a long sight too big. Say, what have you got in it?”

“Clothes.”

“Pajamas?”

“Yes, and lots of other things.”

Jude tilted back the old panama she was wearing and took her seat
on the portmanteau. Her feet were bare, and she twisted her toes in
thought as she sat for a moment turning matters over in her mind.

“You can stick the things in the spare locker,” said she at last. “You
gonna have a gay old time if you keep this in the cabin, tumblin’ over
it. Better empty her here an’ cart the stuff below.”

“Right!” said Ratcliffe. “But what shall I do with the portmanteau when
it’s empty?”

“Heave her overboard,” said Jude.

“Shut your head!” said Tyler, suddenly cutting in. “What you talkin’
about? Heave yourself overboard!” Then to Ratcliffe, “She’s right, all
the same; there’s no room for luggage. If you’ll help Jude to get the
things below, I’ll look after the trunk. When you’ve done with the
cruise you can get a bag to hold your things.”

Ratcliffe opened the portmanteau. The steward of the _Dryad_ was an
expert: in a past existence he had probably been a pack rat. In any
given space he could have tucked away half as much again as any other
ordinary mortal. But he certainly had no imagination, or perhaps he had
been too busy to cast his eye overboard and see the manner of craft
Ratcliffe was joining, and Ratcliffe had been far too much exercised in
his mind about Skelton to notice what was being packed.

Jude on her knees helped.

“What’s this?” asked Jude, coming on a black satin lining.

“Confound the fool!” said Ratcliffe. “He needn’t have packed that: it’s
a dinner jacket.”

“Mean to say you sit down to your dinner in a jacket?” Jade choked
and snorted while Ratcliffe hurriedly, on his knees, hauled out the
trousers and waistcoats that went with the garments.

“That’s the lining--it’s worn the other way about--I know it’s
tomfoolery. Stick ’em all in one bundle--Lord! look at the shirts he’s
packed!”

“They’ve got tucks in them,” said Jude, looking at the pleated fronts.

“I know. They go with that tomfool dinner suit. You can’t knock sense
into the head of a bedroom steward. Come along and let’s get them down
below.”

While they were carting the stuff down, Satan on the hatch cover
cut himself a chew of tobacco (he sometimes chewed) and, with his
lantern jaws working regularly like the jaws of a cow chewing the cud,
contemplated the steadily emptying portmanteau.

He had a plan about that portmanteau, a plan to turn it to profit.
Satan’s plans generally had profit for their object. He had taken
a genuine liking for Ratcliffe; but it was a curious thing with
Satan that even his likings generally helped him along toward
profit,--perhaps because they were the outcome of a keen intelligence
that had been sharpened by knocking about among rascals, beachcombers,
wharf rats, as well as honest folk.

When Ratcliffe had fetched down the last load and come up again, he
found Satan and the portmanteau gone.

The canvas boat had not been brought on board, but streamed astern
on a line. He looked over the side. Satan was in the boat with the
portmanteau and in the act of pushing off.

“I’m takin’ her back to the yacht,” said Satan.

Ratcliffe nodded.

At that moment Jude came on deck blinking and hitching up her trousers.
She had washed her face and made herself a bit more tidy,--perhaps
because she had remembered it was Sunday or perhaps because company had
come on board. She had evidently put her whole head into the water.
It was dripping, and as she stood with the old panama in her hand
and her cropped hair drying in the sun Ratcliffe observed her anew
and thought that he had never seen a more likable figure. Jude would
never be pretty, but she was better than pretty,--healthy, honest
and capable, trusting and fearless, easily reflecting laughter, and
with a trace of the irresponsibility of youth. It was a face entirely
original and distinctive. Dirty, it was the face of a larrikin;
washed, a face such as I have attempted to describe; and the eyes were
extraordinary,--liquid-gray, with a look of distance, when she was
serious, a look acquired perhaps from life among vast sea spaces.

“Where’s Satan?” asked Jude.

Ratcliffe pointed.

Jude, shading her eyes, looked. Then she laughed.

“Thought he was up to somethin’,” said she. “He’s gone to kid that
officer man out of some more truck.”

In a flash Ratcliffe saw the reason of Satan’s activities, and in
another flash he saw again, or seemed to see, in Satan and Jude a
pair of gipsies of the sea. A gipsies’ caravan camped close to a
neat villa,--that was the relationship between the _Sarah Tyler_ and
the _Dryad_,--and Satan was the caravan man gone round to the villa’s
back door to return an empty portmanteau and blarney the servants out
of scraps and old odds and ends not wanted, maybe to commandeer a
chicken or nick a doormat--heaven only knew! He remembered the fancy
Satan had taken to the dinghy. And he, Ratcliffe, had thrown in his
lot with these people! Fishing cruise! Rubbish! Gipsy patter, sea
thimblerigging, wreck-picking, and maybe petty larceny from Guadaloupe
to dry Tortugas,--that was what he had signed on for. Why, the _Sarah
Tyler_, could she have been hauled into any law court, would have
stood convicted on her very appearance! Jude was honest enough in her
way; but her way was Satan’s way, and she had owned up with steadfast,
honest eyes to the plundering of a brig and the caching of the plunder.
They were “passons to what Pap had been,” but they were his offspring,
and the law to them was no doubt what it had been to him,--a something
to be avoided or outwitted, like a dangerous animal.

All these thoughts running through his head did not disturb him in the
least. Far from that! The reckless in him had expanded since he had cut
the cable connecting him with the _Dryad_, and not for worlds would
he have changed the _Sarah_ into a vessel of more conventional form,
or altered Satan from whatever he might be into a figure of definite
respectability.

He reckoned that if Satan broke the law he would be clever enough to
avoid the consequences. His tongue alone would get him out of most
fixes, and just this touch of gipsiness in the business gave a new
flavor to life,--the flavor boys seek when they raid orchards and
hen-roosts and go pirating with corked faces and lath swords.

“He’s goin’ aboard her,” said Jude.

The portmanteau had been taken up by one of the crew, and now Satan,
evidently at the invitation of one of the white-clad figures leaning
over the rail of the _Dryad_, was going up the accommodation ladder,
leaving the boat to wash about in the blue water by the stage.

Ratcliffe guessed that one of the white-clad figures was Skelton and
that it was on Skelton’s invitation he had gone on board. He felt
vaguely uneasy. What did Skelton mean by that? Was he up to any dodge
to “crab” the cruise?

However, he had no time to bother over this, for Jude, who had him now
to herself without fear of interruption, had opened her batteries.

“Say,” said Jude, hanging over the rail where the awning cast its
shadow, speaking without looking at him and spitting into the water,
“what are you when you’re ashore, anyway?”

“I’m one of the idle rich,” said Ratcliffe, lighting his pipe.

“Well, you won’t be idle aboard here,” said Jude definitely. “What was
your dad? Was your dad an idle-rich?”

“No, he was a ship owner.”

“How many ships did he own?”

“About forty.”

“What sort?”

“Steamers.”

“What sizes?”

“Oh, anything from two to five thousand tons.”

She turned to see if he were guying her.

“There was another man in the business,” said Ratcliffe, “a partner;
Ratcliffe & Holt was the same of the firm. The governor died intestate.”

“Somethin’ wrong with his inside?”

“No, he died of a stroke; he was found in his office chair dead; he
died at his work.”

“Did they get the chap that did him in?” asked Jude.

“No, it wasn’t a man that struck him; it was apoplexy, a disease, and
dying without a will, all his money was divided up between my two
brothers and me.”

“How much did you get?”

“Over a hundred thousand.”

“Dollars?”

“No, pounds--four hundred thousand dollars.”

“Got ’em still?”

“Yes.”

“In the bank?”

“Some; the rest is invested.”

She seemed to lose interest in the money business and hung for a moment
over the rail, whistling almost noiselessly between her teeth and
kicking up a bare heel. Then she said:

“Who’s the chap you were sailin’ with?”

“Skelton is his name.”

“He owns that hooker?”

“Yes.”

“Well,” said Jude suddenly, as if waking from a reverie, “this won’t
boil potatoes--I’ve got to get dinner ready. Come ’long and help if
you’re willin’.”

There was half a sack of potatoes in the galley. She set the stove
going, and then, on her knees before the open sack, she sent him to
fetch half a bucket of water from overboard. He found the bucket with a
rope attached, brought the water, and filled the potato kettle, then he
brought more water for the washing of the potatoes.

She did the washing squatting on her heels before the bucket.

“Where did you get them from?” asked Ratcliffe.

“Get which?”

“The potatoes.”

“Bought them,” said Jude; then, as though suddenly smitten by
rectitude, “No, we didn’t, nuther: we kidooled them out of a fruiter.”

“What’s a fruiter?”

“Fruit steamer. Satan fixed her.”

“How did he fix her?”

“Well,” said Jude, “it’s no harm to hold up a packet if you don’t throw
her off her course--much. It’s the owners pays, and they can stand the
racket. The crew likes it, and if there’s passengers aboard they just
love it.”

“Do you mean to say you hold up steamers?” asked Ratcliffe.

“Yep.”

“But how do you do it?”

“Oh, it’s only now and then. What’s easier than to lay in her course
with the flag half-mast? Then she heaves to.”

“And you board her and ask for potatoes, or whatever you want?”

“Not much!” said Jude. “They’d boot you off the ship. Water’s what you
ask for, pretendin’ you’re dying of thirst; then you drink till you’re
near bustin’ and fill the breaker you’ve brought with you. It’s all
on the square. Satan would never hold a ship unless he had some fish
to offer them for whatever he wants,--potatoes or fruit or tobacco.
He’s got the fish in the boat and hands it up. They’re always glad of
fresh fish and they offer to buy it; but he won’t take money, but says,
‘If you’ve got a few potatoes handy, I don’t mind takin’ them for the
fish.’ Sometimes it’s fruit he wants, or other things. Then you push
off--and if it’s a passenger packet the passengers, thinkin’ they’ve
saved you from dyin’ of thirst, line up and cheer. It’s no end of fun.”

“What flag do you sail under?”

“’Murrican, what else? You see,” went on Jude as she put the potatoes
into the kettle, “fish costs nothing to us and they’re mighty glad of
it, but I reckon they’d bat our heads off if they knew about the dyin’
of thirst business.”

“But suppose you struck the same ship twice?”

“It’s not a job one does every day,” said Jude, with a trace of
contempt in her tone, “and Satan don’t wear blinkers, and it’s not a
job you could do at all if you didn’t know the lie of the fishin’
banks by where the ship tracks run. I reckon you’ve got to learn
something about things.”

“I reckon I have,” said Ratcliffe, laughing, “and I bet you’ll teach
me!”

“Well, shy that over to begin with,” said Jude, giving him the pail of
dirty water.

He flung the water over the side, and as he did so he took a glance at
the _Dryad_. Satan was in the boat just pushing off. When he returned
to the galley with the news, Jude was preparing to fry fish: not the
early morning fish, but some caught just before Ratcliffe had come on
board.

Then he went to the rail again just as Satan was coming alongside.

Satan had a cargo of sorts. His insatiable appetite for canvas and rope
was evidenced by the bundle in the stern, and there were parcels. The
return of the empty portmanteau had not been waste labor.

“That’s coffee,” said he to Ratcliffe, handing up the goods. “We were
runnin’ short. And here’s biscuits--catch a holt--and here’s some
fancy muck in cans and c’ndensed milk--I told the chap our cow died
yesterday. ‘Take everything you want,’ says he. ‘Don’t mind me--I’m
only the owner.’ Offered me the mainsail as I was putting off an’
told me to come back for the dinghy. I’d told him I was sweet on
her--full of fun he was--and maybe I will. Claw hold of this bundle
of matches--they’re a livin’ Godsend--and here’s a case of canned
t’marters--and that’s all.”

Skelton’s irony was evidently quite lost on Satan, or put down to his
“fun,” but Ratcliffe could appreciate it, and the fact that its real
target was himself.

The canned t’marters appeared with the food at dinner, and during the
meal more of Skelton came out. He had offered Satan vinous liquors,
hoping, so Ratcliffe dimly suspected, to send him back a trouble to
the _Sarah Tyler_ and an object lesson on the keeping of disreputable
company; but the wily Satan had no use for liquor. He was on the water
wagon.

“I leave all them sorts of things to Jude,” said he, with a grin. He
was referring to Jude’s boasted drunk at Havana, and Ratcliffe, who was
placed opposite to the pair of them, across the table, saw Jude’s chin
project. Why she should boast of a thing one moment and fire up at the
mention of it at another was beyond him.

For a moment it seemed as if she were going to empty the dish of
tomatoes over Satan, but she held herself in, all but her tongue.

“You’d have been doin’ better work on board here, mendin’ the gooseneck
of that spare gaff, than wangling old canvas an’ rope out of that man,”
said she. “We’re full up of old truck that’s no more use to us than
Solomon’s aunt. It’s in the family, I suppose, seein’ what Granf’er
was--”

“Oh, put a potato in your mouth!” said Satan.

“He used to peddle truck on the Canada border,” said she to
Ratcliffe,--“hams--”

“Close up!” said Satan.

“--made out o’ birchwood, and wooden nutmegs--”

“That was Pap’s joke,” said Satan. “And another word out of you and
I’ll turn you over me knee and take down your--”

“Then what do you want flingin’ old things in my face?” cried Jude,
wabbling between anger and tears. “Some day I’ll take me hook, same as
mother did.”

“There’s not a Baptis’ minister would look at you,” said Satan, winking
at Ratcliffe.

“Damn Baptis’ ministers! You may work your old hooker yourself. I’ll
skip! Two thousand of them dollars is mine, and next time we touch
Havana I’ll skip!”

“And where’ll you skip to?”

“I’ll start a la’ndry.”

“Then you’ll have to black your face and wear a turban, same as the
others--and marry a nigger. I can see you comin’ off for the ship’s
washin’.”

Jude began to laugh in a crazy sort of way, then all at once she
sobered down and went on with her dinner. One could never tell how her
anger would end,--in tears, laughter of a wild sort, or just nothing.

Not another word was said about the family history of the Tylers, at
least at that meal, and after it was over Jude made Ratcliffe help to
wash up the plates and things in the galley.

“Satan’s Cap,” said Jude. “He never helps in the washin’ or swillin’.
Not cold water!--land’s sake! where did you learn washin’ up?--hot!
I’ve left some in that billy on the stove.”

She had taken off her old coat and rolled her guernsey sleeves up to
the shoulders nearly, and it came to Ratcliffe as he helped that,
without a word of remonstrance, naturally, and as a part adapts itself
to the economy of a whole, he had sunk into the position of kitchen
maid and general help to the Tyler family, taken the place of the
nigger that had skipped; furthermore that Satan was less a person
than a subtle influence. Satan seemed to obtain his ends more by
wishing than by willing. He wanted an extra hand, and he had somehow
put the spell of his wish on him, Ratcliffe. He had wished a drum of
paint out of Simmons--and look at Skelton, the cynical and superior
Skelton, sending off doles of coffee and “t’marters” to the dingy and
disreputable _Sarah Tyler_, offering his mainsail to the rapacious
Satan as a gibe! What had he been but a marionette dancing on the
string of Satan’s wish?

Only for Jude and the _Sarah_ and the queer new sense of freedom from
all the associations he had ever known, only for something likable
about Satan, the something that gave him power to wheedle things out
of people and bend them to his wishes, Ratcliffe might have reacted
against the Tyler hypnotism. As it was, the whole business seemed as
jolly as a pantomime, as exciting as a new form of novel in which the
folk were real and himself a character.

Leaving Satan and the old _Sarah_ aside, and the extraordinary
fascination of spars, sails, narrow deck, and close sea, catching one’s
own fish, cooking one’s own food, and dickering with winds, waves,
reefs, and lee shores for a living,--leaving all these aside, Jude
alone would have held him; for Jude gave him what he possessed when
he was nine,--the power of playing again, of seeing everything new and
fresh. Washing up dishes with Jude was a game. To the whole-souled
Jude all this business was a game,--hauling on the halyards, fishing,
cooking, hanging on to the beard of a storm by the sea anchor, wreck
picking and so on,--and she had infected him. Already they were good
companions and, when together, of the same age, about nine--though she
was fifteen and he over twenty.

“Stick them on that shelf,” said Jude. “Oh,
Lord!--butter-fingers!--lemme! That’s the gadget to keep them from
shiftin’ if the ship rolls. Now stick the knives in that locker. You
don’t mind my tellin’ you, do you?”

“Not a bit.”

“Well, that’s all.”

They found Satan under the awning, attending to the gooseneck of the
spare gaff.

Jude sat down on the deck clasping her knees, criticized Satan’s
handiwork, received instructions to hold her tongue, and then
collapsed, lying on her back with knees up and the back of her hand
across her eyes. She could sleep at any odd moment.

The horizon had vanished in haze, the crying of the gulls had died
down, and the washing of the lazy swell on the island beach sounded
like a lullaby.

A trace of smoke was rising from the yellow funnel of the _Dryad_ as
she lay like a white painted ship on a blue painted ocean. They were
firing up.

“How about getting ashore?” asked Ratcliffe. “I want to see that cache
of yours. Care to come?”

“I’d just as soon leave it till they’re away,” said Satan, jerking his
hand toward the _Dryad_. “There’s no tellin’, they might be spottin’ us
on the location with a glass, and they’ll be off tonight--so the chap
told me. You leave it to me and I’ll show you a cache better nor that
in a day or two.”

“Shut up, Satan!” came a drowsy voice from the deck.

“Shut up yourself!” said Satan. “I’m not talkin’ of what you mean: I’m
talkin’ of the abalone reef--lyin’ there like a lazy dog and lippin’
your betters!”

“Where’s me betters?” cried Jude, sitting bang-up suddenly, like the
corpse in “Thou art the man.”

“I’m your betters.”

“You!”

“Me!”

Jude broke into a cracked laugh.

“Listen to him talkin’!” cried she to the universe in general. “Ain’t
fit to bile potatoes!” She was on her feet, and he was after her with a
rope’s end, dodging her round the mast. “Touch me and I’ll tell him!” A
flick of the rope’s end caught her, and next moment she was clinging to
Ratcliffe and using him as her shield. “It’s an old ship sunk south o’
Rum Key!” cried Jude. “South o’ Rum Key! I told you I’d tell him if you
touched me.”

Satan dropped the rope and resumed the gooseneck business.

“Now you’ve done it!” said he.

“Told you I would,” said Jude. She sat down on the deck again as
though nothing had happened and nursed her knees.

“You needn’t mind me,” said Ratcliffe. “I won’t tell.”

“Oh, it’s not that,” said Satan, “but Pap was mighty particular about
keepin’ close. He located that hooker only three months before the
fever took him--and he didn’t come on it by chance nuther. And now
Jude’s given the show away!”

“I told you I’d tell him,” said Jude broodily.

“Told me you’d tell him! Why, ever since last fall you’ve been at me
to keep my tongue in my head about it, and then you bring it out bing,
first thing, yourself! That’s a woman all over.”

“Who are you callin’ a woman?”

“Me aunt. Shut your head and give over handlin’ that ball of yarn,
clutch hold of the gaff and keep it steady while I fix this ring on
her!”

He worked away in silence while Ratcliffe sat watching, vaguely
intrigued by what had just passed. It was less the words than the place
and circumstance,--the little deck of the _Sarah Tyler_, the blue lazy
sea, the voice of the surf on Palm Island, the figure of Jude and
Satan. He had seen Rum Cay: They had passed it in a pink and pearly
dawn. The steward had called him up to look at it. South of that lonely
and fascinating place old man Tyler had located a sunk ship. What sort
of ship he knew instinctively and that the Tylers were not the people
to halloo over nothing. The gulls did not know these seas better than
they. He said nothing, however. It was Satan who spoke next.

“Pap had reckoned to lay for it this spring,” said Satan, “but the
fever took him. Then we were underhanded. Jude and me can make out to
work the boat and get a livin’, but we’re too underhanded for a big
job. Why, takin’ that truck off the brig I told you about near laid us
out, and we had the nigger to help and she was hove up so that it was
like takin’ cargo off a wharfside.”

“Look here,” said Ratcliffe, “I’ll help if you care to go for it. I
don’t want any share: just the fun. What’s in her?”

“Well,” said Satan in a half-hearted way, “maybe we’ll have a look at
her; but it’s a job that wants more than three by rights. Pap was three
men in himself; he’d a done it. It’s a dynamite job. She’s got to be
blasted open.”

“I’ve heard stories about buried treasure in these seas--” began
Ratcliffe. Jude turned her head.

“That’s bilge,” said she.

“Yarns,” said Satan. “Pap used to turn any man down that talked of
stuff bein’ buried. First he said that chaps didn’t bury stuff, second
if they did you couldn’t find it, what with earthquakes and sand
siftin’ and such, and third that never an ounce of silver, or gold for
the matter of that, has ever been dug up by the tomfools huntin’ for
it. Havana is full of tall stories of buried treasure--chaps make a
livin’ sellin’ locations and faked charts and the like of that. It’s a
Spanish game, and it takes good American money every year. You see, Pap
was a book-readin’ man,--taught himself to read, too, and didn’t start
the job till he was near forty,--so he had a head on him, but somehow
or ’nother he never made the money he ought. If he’d stuck in towns and
places, he’d have been a Rock’feller; but he liked beatin’ about free,
said God’s good air was better than dollars. But it stuck in him that
he hadn’t made out, somehow. Then he turned into unbelievin’ ways, Said
he was a soci--what was it, Jude?”

“Somethin’ or ’nother,” said Jude.

“Socialist?” suggested Ratcliffe.

“That’s it! Said the time was coming when all the guys that were down
under would be on top of the chaps that were on top, and that there’d
be such a hell of a rough house money’d be no use anyway; said the
time was comin’ when eggs would be a dollar apiece and no dollars to
buy them with, and me and Jude would be safest without money gettin’
our livin’ out of the sea. He was a proper dirge when he got on that
tack. But all the same it stuck in him that he wasn’t on top, and one
night when he was in Diegos’ saloon he heard three Spanish chaps layin’
their heads together. He knew the lingo well enough to make out their
meanin’. They were in the bar. Pap wasn’t on the water wagon, but he
was no boozer. He was sittin’ there that night just dead beat, as any
man might be after the day’s work he’d done, runnin’ the customs--”

“Luff!” said Jude in a warning voice.

“Oh, close your head! Think I am talkin’ to a customs officer? He don’t
care.”

“Not a bit,” said Ratcliffe. “Heave ahead.”

“Well, he was sittin’ with his eyes shut, and he heard these guys
colludin’ together. He didn’t get more than half they said, but he
got enough to make him want to hear more. Then they quit the bar and
went into a back room with their lemon juice and cigarettes. Ten
minutes after hell broke loose in that back room, and when Pap and the
bartender got the door open there was the chaps, one on the floor shot
through the head and the other two near done in. Two of them had set
on the guy that was dead; but they hadn’t knocked him out before he
began to shoot, and he’d pretty well riddled them with a Colt automatic
pistol--”

“Them’s the things!” said Jude. “I’m savin’ up to buy one of them
things on my own--twenty-five dollars--”

“Shut your head! Then they must have knocked it out of his hand and
used the last shot on him.”

“His brains were all over the floor,” said Jude with relish. “Pap said
they looked like white of egg beat up and enough to fill a puddin’
basin.”

“Pap spotted somethin’ else on the floor,” went on Satan, “a piece of
paper folded double. He put it in his pocket while the fellers were
bein’ lifted to the hospital, where they died that same night. He was
on the square all right, takin’ that paper, and I’ll tell you why. Six
months before that we’d spotted a wreck comin’ up from Guadaloupe.
She’s so placed--as maybe you’ll see yourself one day--that a hundred
ships might have passed her without spottin’ her, and bein’ out of
trade tracks made her all the safer. These guys had been talkin’ about
a wreck before they left the bar for the back room, and he reckoned it
was our find they were onto. The piece of paper made him sure of that,
and, takin’ it with the talk he’d heard, he reckoned he had got the
biggest thing that ever humped itself in these waters. He said there
was a hundred thousand dollars aboard her.”

It was a fascinating story, yet it seemed to Ratcliffe that Satan
showed little enthusiasm over the business.

“You don’t seem very keen about it,” said he.

“Well,” said Satan, “it seems a bit too big, and that’s the truth. The
hooker’s there right enough, but I don’t seem to see all that stuff
aboard of her.”

“It’s there right enough,” said Jude.

“Then there’s the getting of it,” went on Satan. “That’s a tough job to
tackle. Months of work, no pay, and the chance of bein’ let down at the
end of it.”

“Satan’d sooner be grubbin’ round after abalones,” said Jude. “Bone
lazy, that’s what he is! I know the stuff’s there, and I’m goin’ to get
it if I have to dig it out myself.”

“Well, off with you then,” said the other, “and a good riddance you’d
be!” Then to Ratcliffe, “We’ll run you down there some day and you can
see for yourself. If you’ve any money to burn, you might like to put
it in the spec’. We’d want extra help. Jude’s talkin’ through her hat.
We can’t tackle that business alone, even Pap saw that--though he was
mighty set on doin’ it single-handed. And that’s where the bother
comes in, for the island where she’s lyin’ is Spanish, and the Dagoes
would claim what we got if they knew.”

“We’d have to get half a dozen men and give them a share,” said
Ratcliffe. “That would make them hold their tongues; but I see an awful
lot of difficulties. Suppose you got the stuff, how are you to get rid
of it?”

“We’d have to get it down to a Brazil port,” said Satan, “or run it
into Caracas. That’s handier. Them Venezuelans are the handiest chaps
when it comes to loose dealin’.”

“For the matter of that,” said Ratcliffe, “one could run it straight
to England. There are lots of places there where we could get it
ashore--but we’ve got to get it first.”

“That’s so,” said Satan. “Look! She’s puttin’ a boat off.” He pointed
to the _Dryad_.

A quarter-boat had been lowered and was pulling away from the yacht.
As she drew closer Ratcliffe saw that the man in the sternsheets,
steering, was Skelton,--Skelton coming either to make trouble or to
make friends.

The oars rose up and fell with a crash as the bow oar hooked on to the
dingy old _Sarah_.

“Hulloo!” said Ratcliffe.

“Hulloo!” said Skelton.

“Won’t you come on board?”

“No, thank you.” A sniff from Jude. “I just came over to say that we
are starting.”

Ratcliffe saw that he wanted to say a lot, but was tongue-tied before
the boat’s crew and the Tylers.

“Better come on board,” said he, “and have a chat in the cabin before
you’re off.”

Skelton hesitated a moment, then he came. He gave Satan a nod, utterly
ignored Jude, and, followed by Ratcliffe, passed below. Downstairs his
manner changed. Standing and refusing a seat, as though fearing to
contaminate his lily-white ducks, he began to speak as if addressing
the portrait of old man Tyler.

“I can’t believe you absolutely mean to do this,” said he. “I can
understand a moment’s temper, but--but--this is a joke carried too far.”

“My dear Skelton,” said the other, “what’s the good? I have the
greatest respect for you, but we are dead opposites in temperament and
we make each other unhappy. What’s the good of carrying it on? It’s not
as if you minded being alone. You like being alone, and I like this old
tub and her crew. Well, let’s each carry out our likings. I’m as happy
as anything here.”

“I’m not thinking of your happiness, but of the position. You were a
guest on my yacht, and you leave me like this--I need not embroider on
the bare fact.”

“Do you want me to go back?”

“Not in the least,” said Skelton. “You are a free agent, I hope.”

Ratcliffe’s blood was beginning to rise in temperature. He knew quite
well Skelton wanted him to go back, but was too proud to say so, and he
knew quite well that Skelton wanted him back, not for any love of him,
but simply because the _position_ was irregular and people, if they
heard of all this, might talk; also it might seem queer to the yacht’s
crew.

“Well, then, if you don’t specially want me back, I’ll stay,” said he.

“Very well,” said Skelton, “as you please. I wash my hands of the
affair, and if you come to grief it is your own lookout. I will have
the remainder of your baggage forwarded home to you when I reach
England.”

“I’ll maybe see you at Havana when this cruise is over,” said Ratcliffe
vaguely.

“I doubt it,” said Skelton. “It is quite possible I may not call
there.” He turned and began to climb the companionway. On deck he
nodded frigidly to Satan and got over the side.

Satan, leaning across the rail, looked down.

“How about that mains’l?” asked Satan jocularly.

“I’m afraid I have no more spare canvas available,” said Skelton, with
a veiled dig at the rapacity of the lantern-jawed one, “or provisions.
Anything else I shall be delighted to let you have.”

“Well, then,” said Satan, “you might send us a loan of the dinghy.
We’re short of boats.”

“You shall have her,” said Skelton with a glance at Ratcliffe, who was
also leaning over, as though to say, “This is the sort of man you have
thrown your lot in with!”

The boat pushed off.

“Goodby!” cried Ratcliffe, half laughing, half angry, with Satan, but
quite unable to veto the promised gift.

“’By,” replied the other, raising a hand.

Jude, who had said not one word, suddenly began to giggle.

“What’s wrong with you?” asked Satan.

“I dunno,” replied Jude, “but there’s somethin’ about that guy that
makes me want to laugh.”



CHAPTER VI

SKELTON SAILS


The breeze had risen with the declining sun and the water round the
_Dryad_ looked like a spread of smashed sapphires.

They watched Skelton getting on board, and then they saw the dinghy
lowered and the quarter-boat taking her in tow. In five minutes, like
a white duckling behind a moor-hen, she was streaming on a line behind
the _Sarah_ and the quarter-boat was pulling back for the yacht.

Satan had got his wish, and Ratcliffe was feeling just as Skelton
wanted him to feel, under a compliment and rather a beast. Then they
saw the boat taken on board and the hands laying aloft and the canvas
shaking out to the favoring breeze.

“He’ll have the wind right aft, and that’ll save his coal,” said Satan.
“I reckon if his engines give out he wouldn’t bother much, with all
that canvas to carry him.”

“They’re handlin’ it smart,” said Jude. “There’s the anchor goin’ up.”

The flurried sound of the steam winch raising the anchor came across
the water, then it ceased, and Jude, running to the flag locker,
fetched out a dingy old American flag, bent it on, and ran it up,
dipping it as the _Dryad_ began to move.

She returned the compliment, gliding away with the bow-wash beginning
to show and the wake creaming behind her. As she passed the southern
reefs and shifted her helm, squaring her yards to the following wind,
a blast from her siren raised a blanket of shouting gulls. Then the
island cut her off and the sea lay desolate.

The sense of his loneliness came on Ratcliffe, sudden as the clap of a
door. He had cut the painter with civilization. The deck of the _Sarah
Tyler_ seemed smaller than ever, Jude and Satan more irresponsible and
unaccountable, and his own daring a new thing, somewhat dubious. He had
renounced services and delicacies and surety of passage and safety,
letters and newspapers, everything he had known! The shock scarcely
lasted a minute, and then, with the breeze across the pansy-blue
evening sea, came blowing the wind of Adventure and Freedom.

Then in a moment some spirit explained to him what life really
meant,--life as the Argonauts knew it, as the gulls know it, freedom
in the intense and living moment, without a thought of yesterday, with
scarcely a care for the morrow.

He took his seat in an old chair that Satan had placed under the rag of
awning and lit his pipe. That delightful smoke seemed the culmination
of everything in these first moments in this new world. As he smoked he
watched the Tylers, who were so busy with their own affairs that they
seemed to have forgotten him. They had hauled the dinghy alongside,
then they got into her and were lost to sight; but he could hear their
voices, Jude’s shrill with pleasure and excitement.

“My! Ain’t she a beauty? Ain’t she a dinky boat? My! look at
the _cus_hions!” A laugh. “For the love of Mike look at the
cushions--_cus_hions in a boat! Heave ’em on deck!” The cushions came
flying over the rail, together with the voice of Satan, evidently
bending.

“Leave them alone or I’ll bat y’ with the bailer! Well, let them lay
on deck if they’re there. She’s a duck, new built too,--teak, copper
fastenin’s, all the best that money could buy. Stop rockin’ her and
over you get after the cushions.”

Jude came clambering on board, beaming in the sunset, then she got
one of the boat’s cushions and took her seat on it on the deck beside
Ratcliffe.

“I reckon old Popplecock’s as soft as his cushions, to be wangled out
of a boat like that,” said Jude, examining the sole of her bare right
foot for a fancied splinter. “Satan said he was goin’ to try it on him
when you were down below with him. Didn’t believe he’d do it. That chap
looked as stiff as his own mainmast--but there’s no tellin’--Say, I
heard what you said to him when you were down below.”

“Oh, did you?”

“I wasn’t listenin’: I just heard through the skylight. I heard you
sayin’ you liked us and the old _Sarah_ better’n him and his boat--what
makes likin’s?”

“I don’t know.”

“Nuther do I; but we took to you right off, same as you to us. Ever
done abalone fishin’?”

“No.”

“Well, I reckon you won’t want to do it again, once you’ve tried.
There’ll be a big low tide tomorrow after sun-up, and you’ll have a
chance of seein’ what it is. Finished your pipe? Well, come along and
help us to get supper.”

For all the work Ratcliffe did, she might have got the supper herself.
He was mostly in the way; but it was the companionship that helped.
Brothers aren’t much good as companions. Ratcliffe was a new thing,
absolutely new, from his striped pajamas and dandy clothes to his
condition of mind, just as she was a new thing to Ratcliffe. Never did
two beings come together so well or create more rapidly a little world
of mutual interests out of the little things of life, or a weaker being
dominate more completely the stronger.

“Can you make bread?” asked Jude after he had filled the tin kettle
for her. “Well, you’ll have to learn. That’s the bakin’ powder in that
big tin, and the flour’s in the starboard locker--What’re you doin’
with the tin? Land’s sake! You don’t think I’m goin’ to make bread for
supper, same as you make tea? Where was you born?”

“Hampshire.”

“I thought it was somewhere like that,” said Jude.

She instructed him in the primitive method of bread making as conducted
on board the _Sarah Tyler_, finishing up with the information that
hardtack would be their portion at supper that night and breakfast
next morning, as she was “up to the gunnel” in other business. Among
the other things was having to put a patch on her trousers: not the
ones she was wearing, which were her next best, but her worst. The old
guernsey she was wearing was her second best. Coats! Oh, coats were
good enough on Sunday or for going ashore in, but no use much in a
ship, except an oilskin for dirty weather. Boots the same; stockings
the same. You had to wear boots, of course, over rocks and through
stuff like that over there on the island.

“Them pajamas” would be bully things to wear by day, only they’d
frighten the fish. As for sleeping in such things, she’d just as soon
seek the arms of Morpheus in a top hat. Why didn’t he wear a nighty
like her and Satan? Pap’s eyes would have bugged out had he seen those
things. He was “awful old fashioned,”--used to make her and Satan
put cotton between their teeth every night. They did it still. She
exhibited a set of dazzling white teeth to prove the fact. You just
pulled a cotton thread between them, and then they never went rotten.
Also he made them brush their teeth every morning. Folks that didn’t do
that got toothache.

“Kettle’s boilin’,” suddenly finished Jude. “Now start in an’ let’s
see you make the tea--said you could do it. There’s the can. Ain’t
you goin’ to heat the pot first? How’re you to heat it? Let me have a
hold. Now fling the water out. A spoonful a head and one for the pot
and another one for Satan,--he likes it strong,--and if you’ll take it
along to the cabin without spillin’ it I’ll be after you in a minute
with the plates and things.”

Satan, who never put his hand to menial work, maintaining, without
the least offense, his position as captain and owner, came down to
supper, flushed with the good qualities of the dinghy. He had taken
her for a row--and it was like hearing a man talking of a stroll with
a sweetheart--if men ever talk of such things. Before going on deck
to smoke he pointed out Ratcliffe’s quarters for the night. He was to
have Pap’s cabin, the space divided off with a curtain. Jude and he
always slept in hammocks swung in the “saloon.” Before going on deck he
fetched an old canister out of a locker and, emptying some dried herbs
into a saucer, set fire to them and left them smoldering on the table.
It was to keep the mosquitoes away. Pap had got the receipt from a
Seminole Indian up near Cedar Cays. It was patent stuff. Not a mosquito
would come when there was a sniff of it in the air.

Then, just as the moon was rising, and after the things were washed up,
they sat on deck, smoking, listening to the waves on the beach, and
watching fish jumping in the track of the moon. They talked of fish,
and to Ratcliffe’s mind two things became apparent,--Satan’s profound,
awful knowledge of the sea and all that lived therein, and his absolute
indifference to sport. Satan fished for food. Tarpon and tarpon
fishermen filled him with disgust and disdain. You can’t eat tarpon,
and the guys that came from New York and such places and spent their
days fighting tarpon with a ten-ounce rod and a twenty-one-thread line
seemed to him bereft of reason.

Jude, sitting on the deck and mending her pants by the light of the
moon, concurred.

“But it’s the fun of the thing,” said Ratcliffe; “it’s the matching of
one’s skill and strength against the fish.” He talked of the joys of
salmon fishing.

“What bait do you use for them?” asked Satan.

“Flies.”

Jude shrieked.

“Not live flies,” he explained: “imitation ones.” He tried to describe
artificial fly-making and finished with a sense of failure as of one
who had entered the lists in defense of a niggling form of business
that had yet a touch of humor in it.

Then, as they talked, suddenly through the night came a sound like the
boom of a big gun. Ratcliffe nearly dropped his pipe.

“That’s a fish,” said Satan.

“Sea bat,” said Jude indifferently.

“That noise?”

“Sea bat jumping. There they go again. Must be a circus of them playin’
about beyond the reefs,--big flat fish, weigh all of a ton.”

“Tails as long as themselves and eyes like dinner plates,” said Jude,
“mushy brutes. Tow a ship after them if they foul the anchor--won’t
they, Satan?”

“They’re loudenin’,” said Satan. “They’ll be comin’ this way with the
current. Come forward and have a look.”

Leaning over the rail, they watched the moon-shot water. The sounds had
ceased.

“They’ve stopped playin’,” said Satan, as though he knew exactly what
they were doing.

“It’s too shallow for them here,” said Jude.

“Shallow! It’s fifty foot of water and a sandy bottom. What are you
talkin’ about? Told you.”

The depths of the sea suddenly became lit. Down below vast forms came
drifting like the mainsails of ships ablaze with phosphorescent light,
drifting and turning over as they drifted like gargantuan leaves blown
by the wind. The whiplike tails could be seen as streaks of flame.
Glimpses of devilish faces and lambent eyes showed as they turned, the
fins waving like frills of fire.

Then they were gone.

The Tylers showed little concern over the marvelous sight; allowing,
however, that it was the biggest school of “bats” they had ever struck;
but to Ratcliffe it was as though the sea had disclosed a peep of its
true heart and real mystery.

Then they went to rest, and as he lay in Pap’s cabin, listening to the
occasional trickle of the water against the planking and the groan of
the rudder moved by the lilt of the swell, it seemed to him that daring
in its everyday and cold-blooded form could not have carried a man
much further than it had carried him. The sea bats had underscored the
business as far as the mystery of the ocean and danger of cruising in
such a small boat were concerned; the hardness of Pap’s bunk bedding
told of comforts renounced; while the morals of the Tylers, though
good enough no doubt, had, as disclosed in their conversation, a
touch of the free lance and a threat of port authority troubles and
differences of opinion with the customs. Absolute respect for the
rights of man, partial respect for the rights of shipping companies and
steamer lines, no respect at all for governments and customs,--that
was an outline of the Tyler morality. What had made him renounce
the _Dryad_ for the _Sarah?_ What, lying in his hard bunk, made him
contented with the exchange? The love of adventure and the craving for
something new contributed, no doubt, but the main reason he felt to be
the Tylers,--Satan with his strange mentality and queer methods; Jude,
unlike any other being he had ever met.

Then, as he lay considering all this, came muted voices from the
“saloon.” Satan’s voice:

“Have you put the cotton between your teeth?”

Then Jude’s, drowsily:

“Naw--leave a body alone!”

“Get out o’ your hammock, you lazy dog, an’ fix your teeth or I’ll let
you down by the head!”

Then Jude’s voice, dolorous and muffled, “Shut up or you’ll be wakin’
him! Cuss my teeth--cayn’t find the cotton! Wakin’ a body up like that!
Tell you I’m _lookin’_ for it--got it--”

A long silence, during which Ratcliffe dropped off, to be awakened an
hour later by the lamentations of Jude and the sounds of Satan prodding
her out of a nightmare,--a gastric nightmare, in which it appeared to
her troubled soul that she _had_ to fry a sea bat, _totum terres atque
rotundum_, in the small galley frying pan for breakfast.



CHAPTER VII

CARQUINEZ


The tide had begun to draw out with the setting stars, and the tune of
the waters on the beach had sunk to the merest thread of sound.

Then, through the silence from the far reefs to southward, came the
single, lamentable cry of a gull; then a chorus, and away against the
vague blue of the east, here and there, like leaves blown about a dimly
lit window showed the wings of the birds already putting out to sea for
the fishing.

Ratcliffe was awakened by Jude calling on him to “show a leg.”

“Satan’s on deck,” said Jude, “and if you believe in washin’ he’ll give
you a swill with a bucket. Hurry up and come down again, for I want a
swill myself. Swim? Not on your life! Sharks, that’s why.”

The voice came from a hammock which he had blundered against in the
semidarkness. Then on deck after his swill, drying himself with an old
towel provided by Satan, he stood for a moment watching the sun break
up through the water and the great sea flashing to life and the white
gulls flying.

The island was sending a faint breeze to them, a tepid breeze flavored
with earth and cactus and bay cedar scents, perfumes that mixed with
the tang of the ocean and the tar-oakum scents of the _Sarah Tyler_.

And all these scents and sounds and sights, from the sun flash on the
sea to the trembling palm fronds on the shore, seemed like a great
bouquet presented by youth and morning.

Oh, the splendor of being alive, free, happy, without a single care,
and the deck of the wandering _Sarah_ under foot!

From below through the skylight came a sleep-heavy voice.

“Ain’t you done yet?”

“Coming,” said Ratcliffe.

He dived into his pajamas and came below.

“Get into your cabin an’ shut the door,” commanded the yawning voice
from the hammock.

“There’s no door.”

“Well, draw the curtain. Oh, Lord! what’s the good o’ gettin’ up? I’m
near dead asleep!”

Then the voice of Satan descending the companion ladder.

“Ain’t you up? Well, you wait one minute!”

A thump on the floor, a scurry up the companion ladder, and then
shuddery lamentations and the sounds of swilling from the deck above,
mixed with the admonitions of Satan from below.

“Oh, my! ain’t it cold? Oh, my! ain’t it frizzin’?”

“Get on, you mad turkle! You ain’t washin’, you’re splashing the water
on the deck. Slush it over you.”

“I’m slushing it.”

“Think I don’t know? Why, you ain’t gasped yet! Give a gasp, or I’ll be
up to you with a rope-end! That’s more like it.”

It was!

The sun was high when Ratcliffe got on deck, and a light, steady breeze
was blowing up from the straits of Florida; the gulls looked like
snowflakes blowing round the far reefs and against the morning blue of
the sea.

Jude had put the kettle on. She had dressed on deck, having carried her
“togs” with her, and she was now preparing a line for fishing, and, as
she bent over it, appeared Satan,--Satan rising from the cabin hatch
with a toothbrush in his hand.

“You’ve forgot your teeth,” said Satan.

“No, I haven’t,” said Jude. “I’ve been fillin’ the kettle--I’ll fix
them when I’ve done with the fishin’.”

“Fishin’ will wait.” He fetched a pannikin of water. “You’re more
trouble than a dozen. What’d Pap say if he saw you?”

“I’ll fix them when I’ve done with the fishin’.”

“You’ll fix them now!”

“No. I won’t!”

Satan put down the pannikin and the brush. She evaded him like a flash
and skimmed up the mast to the crosstrees.

Scarcely had she got up than she came sliding down, seized the
toothbrush and pannikin, and began to brush her teeth over the scupper
with a fire speed and fury that seemed born of dementia.

“Sardines comin’,” explained Jude between mouthfuls. “Look alive and
get a bucket!”

Ratcliffe looked over the sea, where her birdlike sight had spotted
the sardine shoal being driven like a gray cloud under the water
by pursuing fish. A fringe of dancing silver showed the leaping
sardines, and the great fish driving the shoal broke up now and then in
sword-flashes.

They were coming from south to north, and the left wing of the shoal
would pass the island beach by a cable length.

While Satan stood by with a bucket at the end of a rope, Ratcliffe hung
over the side watching.

The driven sardines had no eyes for the _Sarah_. They struck her like
the blow of a great silvery hand, boiled around her, and passed. The
army of pursuit followed, passed and vanished, leaving the water clear
and Satan with a dipped up bucket full of quivering silver.

The Tylers, absolutely blind to the wonder of the business, fried the
sardines just as they were, tossed out of the blue sea into the frying
pan, and, breakfast over, Satan and Ratcliffe took the dinghy to hunt
for abalones on the uncovered reef.

The reefs to southward formed two spurs divided by a creek of blue
water, and having got the dinghy into this creek Ratcliffe tended the
boat while Satan hunted for the abalones.

Satan in search of pearls was a sight. Heart, soul, and mind bound
up in the business, like a dog hunting for truffles, every find was
announced by a yell or a whoop, like the whoop of a Red Indian.

Ratcliffe could see squiggly-wiggly cuttlefish tendrils running up
Satan’s arms as he delved in some of the rock-clefts, and Satan
disengaging them and flinging the “mushy brutes” away. The big abalones
were nearly always deep down under the rock ledges and had to be
chiseled off, wallowing in the water. At these times Ratcliffe might
have fancied the vanished one lost or drowned, but for the profane
language that rose and floated away on the breeze.

All the same, it was dull work for the boat tender. Having nothing else
to think of, he thought of Jude. Her figure chased away dullness.

A man in the bright and early morning is quite a different person
from the same man at noon, and coming across Jude after a long course
of Skelton was like stepping from a gray afternoon to dawn. Was it
possible that Skelton and Jude were vertebrates of the same species?

Then there was what women would have called the pity of it. Ratcliffe
did not deal much with the conventions as a rule; still, he could
not but perceive that all life has an aim and ending, and that the
end of an old sailor was not what life and the fitness of things had
destined for Jude. What would she grow up into? He thought of all the
girls he had ever known. There was not one so jolly as Jude; still,
it was terrible, somehow, monstrous. He remembered her threat to pull
her skirts over her head and run down the street if skirts were ever
imposed upon her. Her contempt for the feminine rose up before him, and
against all that her housewifely instincts and the fact that, despite
Satan’s rope-end and mock bluster, she ruled the _Sarah Tyler_ just as
a woman rules a house.

Still, it was deplorable. Looking away into distance, what would become
of her?

Vague and fatherly ideas of getting her away from this life and having
her brought up properly and educated came to him, only to be dispelled
by Jude. Imagine Jude in a girls’ school, at a tea party!

He was aroused from these meditations by Satan,--Satan with an armful
of abalones, Satan scratched and bleeding and soused in sea water, but
triumphant.

He reckoned they were the biggest “fish” ever got on these reefs. There
were a dozen and six all told, and when they were collected and put on
board the dinghy put back.

Coming round the western spur of the reef, they found that Jude had
left the _Sarah_--a high crime--and rowed herself ashore.

The canvas boat was on the beach, and away amid the bay cedars and
cactus toward the trees could be seen the head and shoulders of the
deserter moving about. She seemed in search of something.

“God love me!” cried Satan.

He beached the dinghy, helped Ratcliffe to run her up, and then
started, followed by the other, running and shouting as he ran.

“Hi! chucklehead! Whatcha leave the ship for? Didn’t I tell you to
stand by her? Whatcha huntin’ for--turkles’ eggs?”

“What you done with your eyes?” retorted the other. “Cayn’t you see?”

Instantly, and by her tone and by some sixth sense, Satan was appeased.
He seemed suddenly to scent danger. He saw the work she had been on,
camouflaging the cache more effectively. He cast his glance over the
island, the western sea, turned, and then stood stock-still, shading
his eyes.

Away beyond the _Sarah Tyler_ across the purple blue stood a sail. The
land wind had died off, and the stranger was bringing the sea wind with
her. A small topsail schooner she showed now, with all sail set, making
dead for the island.

“That’s him,” said Satan.

“Spotted him half an hour ago,” said Jude. “He was steering
nor’-nor’west and shifted his helm when he saw us.”

The bay cedar bushes sighed suddenly to the new-risen wind, and as
Ratcliffe glanced about him the feeling of the desolation of the place
where he stood came to him strong,--strong in the scent of cactus and
herbage, the tune of the water on the beach, and the rustle of the wind
in the bushes.

“He’s been huntin’ for us,” said Satan, “curse him!”

“Who is he?” asked Ratcliffe.

“Friend of Pap’s, he was--”

“Pretended to be,” put in Jude.

“Spanish,” continued Satan, “and ever since Pap gave out he’s been
pretty much on our heels. Jude and me worked the thing out and we came
to conclude he’d scented, somehow, from Pap, about the hooker I spoke
of.”

“The wreck?’

“Yep. Pap was keen on gettin’ extra money into the business of salvin’
her, and I b’lieve he sounded Carquinez,--that’s his name,--and how
much he let out takin’ his soundin’s the Lord only knows! Cark’s in the
tobacco line. Does a bit of everythin’,--has a shop in the Calle Pedro
in Havana and a gamblin’ joint on the front, owns ships. That’s one of
them, and Matt Sellers runs her for him. He don’t trouble handlin’ her:
sits in the cabin all day smokin’ cigarettes.”

“He’s been after us ever since Pap died,” said Jude, “on and off.”

“It was one of his men got Jude in that doggery down by the wharf and
filled her up with rum,” said Satan, turning the brim of his panama
down. “Remember I told you--and what she let out the Lord only knows!”

“I didn’t let out nothin’,” said Jude; “only that we were goin’ east
this trip, I owns to that.”

“Well, there’s the result of your jaw,” said Satan. “East was good
enough for Cark: he’d hunt hell for a red cent. And don’t you be sayin’
you didn’t let out nothin’. Why, I heard you jawin’ about all the money
you had when I come in and collared you! Cark believes Pap found that
stuff and cached it--that’s what he believes, or my name’s not Tyler.”

“Well, let’s get aboard,” said Jude. “If they see us squatting about
here, they’ll maybe think the stuff’s hid here.”

“They’ve seen us by this, though it’s too far for them to make out who
we are,” said Satan, pushing his panama farther forward to hide his
face. He led the way to where the boats were on the sand, and they
reëmbarked.

The abalones were got on board, and then they stood watching the
approach of the stranger.

The white had gone out of her sails. Close in now, they showed dingy
and patched. She had a low freeboard. Then, as she dropped anchor and
swung to her moorings broadside on to the _Sarah_, the rake of her
masts became apparent, and her whole disreputableness spoke aloud.

Ratcliffe felt like a man who, having got into pleasant low company,
suddenly finds himself drawn into unpleasant low company.

The _Tylers_ and the old _Sarah_ were all right, but this new crowd
and that ratty old schooner he felt to be all wrong. And the newcomer
somehow did not add honesty or moral stability to the appearance of the
_Sarah_, nor did the half-disclosed character and activities of Cark
shed luster on old man Tyler or his present representatives.

However, he had gone into this business open-eyed, and it was not for
him to grumble at the friends or relationships of his hosts; besides he
had trust in Satan and the wit of Satan to preserve them from the law.

Satan had covered the heap of abalones with some sail-cloth, and he was
standing now working his lantern jaws on a bit of chewing gum, his eyes
fixed on the stranger as though she were made of glass and he could
see Carquinez sitting smoking his cigarettes in the cabin.

“They haven’t shown a sign,” said Jude.

“They’re bluffin’ us to believe they haven’t spotted who we are,” said
Satan. “Cark doesn’t want us to twig he’s been lookin’ for us.”

“Well,” said Jude, “let’s get the mud-hook up and put out right away.
They won’t have the face to chase us.”

“Yes,” said Satan, “and leave them to hunt the island and find the
cache! They’d lift the stuff to the last tin of beef. They’ve seen us
ashore among the bushes. You shouldn’t have gone ashore.”

“I went to see we hadn’t left no traces.”

“Traces be damned! Cark wants no traces. Once he starts to hunt, he’ll
turn the durned island upside down and shake it. He’ll say to himself,
‘What were they doin’ here, anyway; what were they pokin’ about them
bushes for?’ No, we’ve got to sit here till he goes, and that’ll be
this time next year, maybe.”

“What’s the name of his schooner?” asked Ratcliffe.

“The _Juan Bango_,” replied Satan, “named after the tobacco company
people. Look, they’re gettin’ a boat off. That’s Sellers, and he’s
comin’ aboard.”

Then he collapsed, squatting under the bulwarks. “Guy them,” said he to
Jude. “Tell them I’m down with smallpox: that’ll make them shove.”

“Leave ’em to me,” said Jude.

It was Matt Sellers right enough, a big wheezy man suggestive of
Tammany Hall, but a sure-enough sailor in practice. “The biggest
blackguard on the coast” was his subsidiary title. He was the henchman
of Carquinez. His career was not without interest and romance of a
sort. It was he who had bought, with the money of Carquinez, the bones
of the _Isidore_, wrecked against the sheer cliffs by the black strand
of Martinique. Ten thousand dollars in gold coin she had on board her,
and he salved them. That was a straight job, and a wonderful bit of
work, taking it all together. It was a curiosity, too, because it was
straight.

The crooked jobs of Matt Sellers would have filled a book.

Like old man Tyler, Sellers had no use for people who talked of buried
treasure, he knew the Caribbean and the gulf too well.

If he was keen on the wreck business, then it was because he had
excellent reasons for his keenness.

As the boat drew near, Ratcliffe noticed the villainous-looking crew,
Spaniards, some of them with red handkerchiefs tied round their heads.



CHAPTER VIII

JUDE OVERDOES IT


“Hullo, Kid!” cried Sellers as the boat came alongside the _Sarah_.

“Hullo, yourself,” replied Jude. “Where’ve you blown in from?”

“What’s become of Satan? Ain’t he aboard?” asked Sellers, ignoring the
question.

“Satan’s dead,” said Jude.

“Satan’s which?”

“Died of the smallpox.”

“Well, I’m d--d!” said Sellers, casting his eyes over the _Sarah_ and
then resting them on Ratcliffe. “When was it?”

“A week ago.”

Sellers gave a word to the bow oar and the boat pushed off a bit, the
fellows hanging on their oars.

“I thought I saw three of you on deck,” he shouted.

“The other chap’s gone below,” replied Jude.

The boat of the _Juan_ hung for a moment as if in meditation. She made
a striking picture, the blue water paling to green under her and the
sun-blaze on the red topknots of the oarsmen.

Then without a word more she turned back to the _Juan_.

Satan in the scupper seemed preparing to have a fit.

“What’s the matter now?” asked Jude.

“What’s the matter? What did you say I was dead for? Didn’t I tell you
to say I was down with smallpox?”

“Well, what’s the difference?”

“Why, you mutt, wouldn’t you have been snivelin’ and cryin’ if I was
dead? And you handed that yam out to him as ca’m as if you were talking
of a tomcat! I didn’t believe you myself.”

“Why, I told him you was dead a week,” cried Jude. “D’you think I’d be
snivelin’ and cryin’ a week if you was dead? Lord! what you do think of
yourself!”

Satan did not reply. He was thinking that he had made a false move and
that Jude had put the cap on the business. Cark would be certain now
that there was something hidden on the island.

Satan was on the horns of a dilemma. One horn was the cache of
provisions containing a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of stuff, the
other horn was the old wreck that might contain nothing.

To hang on here was useless, for Cark would hang on too. Even if Cark
went away, he would be sure to come back to hunt.

He sat with his back to the bulwarks, chewing and thinking. Then,
heedless whether he was seen or not from the _Juan Bango_, he rose
to his feet and leaned with his back against the rail He had come to
a decision. Jude, watching him, said nothing, and Ratcliffe waited
without a word. This little sea comedy interested him intensely, and
all the more for its setting of loneliness and its background of blue
sea and quarreling gulls.

It was to Ratcliffe that Satan spoke first “Look here!” said Satan.
“You’re standin’ out of this, aren’t you?”

“Which--the wreck business?”

“Yep. You’re not keen upon puttin’ money into it and havin’ a share?”

“Oh, no. If you wanted me to, I’d be glad enough; but if you’d rather I
stood out, I’ll do so. I’m not keen about money, anyway; only I’d like
to see the fun.”

“You’ll see fun enough,” said Satan. “I’m goin’ to drag Cark in. First
of all, if I don’t, he’ll keep hangin’ round here and sniff the cache;
second, he’ll work the job for us with his crew.”

“He’ll gobble every cent,” said Jude.

“Which way?” asked Satan. “We’ll give him half shares, and well split
on him if he doesn’t play fair. If we found stuff there, and once it
was known, d’you think we’d be let keep it? We’ve got to get help, and
isn’t he as good as another? If there’s no stuff there, he’ll have all
his work for nothing.”

“The thing I can’t make out,” said Ratcliffe, “is the way he started
out from Havana to find you. How did he ever expect to come across you?”

“Well, it’s this way,” said Satan. “Bein’ in with Pap, he knew the
lines we worked on; f’rinstance, he knew we worked this place for
abalones. If he hadn’t sighted as here; he’d have tried Little Pine
Island, which is lonesomer than this place. You see he’s got it in his
noddle, as far as I can make out, that Pap lifted the stuff and cached
it, and Pine Island or here would have been the likeliest places. He
reckoned when we put out of Havana this time we were out to lift it
for good. Well, he’ll do the liftin’ if it’s to be done. Come on, I’m
going over to see him right off. Jude, you stick here and clean up them
abalones.”

He got into the dinghy, followed by Ratcliffe, and they pushed off.

As they drew closer the _Juan Bango_ showed up more distinctly for what
she was.

One of the old schooners that used to run in the carrying trade between
Havana and the Gulf ports, she had fallen from commercial honesty;
anyhow in appearance, perhaps because Carquinez did not bother about
appearance. You could not have damaged his paint if you had tried,--it
was sun-blistered and gone green,--but his copper showed sharp and
clear through the amazing brilliance of the water, without trace of
weeds or barnacles.

Sellers was hanging over the rail as they came alongside.

If he felt surprise at this resurrection, he did not show it much.

“Hullo, Satan!” cried Sellers. “Thought you was dead.”

“Cark on board?” asked Satan without wasting time on explanations.

“He’s down below,” said Sellers, accepting the attitude of the other.
“Who’s your friend?”

“Oh, just a gentleman that’s come along for a cruise,” said Satan. “So
you’ve found me!”

“Seems so,” said Sellers; “but tie up and come aboard.”

Satan tied the painter to a channel plate and got over the side,
followed by Ratcliffe.

The deck of the _Juan_ sagged, and plank and dowel were
indistinguishable one from the other by reason of dirt. Forward some
of the crew were scraping a spare boom, and others collected round the
foc’sle head were smoking cigarettes. The wind had died out into a warm
breathing, setting aft and bringing with it a faint odor like the smell
of acetylene. It was garlic.

From the foc’sle came the muffled thrumming of a guitar.

It was Ratcliffe’s first experience with a Spaniard. He followed Satan,
who followed Sellers down a steep companionway and then into a cabin
where a great shaft of sunlight from the skylight above struck down
through a haze of cigarette smoke.

The place was paneled with bird’s-eye maple; the seats were upholstered
in thick ribbed silk, worn and stained; the carpet was of the best, but
threadbare in spots and burnt with cigar droppings; the metal fittings
far too good for a trading schooner of the _Juan_ type.

Everywhere lay evidence of splendor that had seen better days.

All these fittings had, in fact, been torn out of a yacht bought by
Carquinez for an old song, and at the end of the saloon table, going
over some papers with a cigarette in his mouth, sat Carquinez himself,
a figure to give one pause.

The whole of the left side of this gentleman’s face was covered by a
green patch. It was said that he had no left side to his face, that it
had been eaten away by disease, and that, were he to unveil himself,
the sight would frighten the beholder. However that may have been, what
remained visible was enough to frighten any honest man with eyes to
behold the nose of a vulture above the peaked chin of a money changer.

“Hullo, Cark!” said Satan.

“Come in,” said Cark.

“Bring yourselves to an anchor,” said Sellers, pointing out two of the
fixed seats on each side of the table and taking another close to the
owner of the _Juan_. “What’ll you have?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Satan. “Something soft will suit us, and long.”

Carquinez raised a bird-shrill voice:

“Antonio!”

“Si, Sigñor,” came a response from outside, and on the voice a dusky
form at the cabin door.

“Bring me two Zin and Zinzibeers for these two zentlemen, please.”

“No gin!” cried Satan, Ratcliffe concurring. “Ginger beer will do.”

“Zinzibeers,” said Carquinez.

It was nearly all that he said at this interview, the trusty Sellers
doing the talking.

Said Sellers to Satan, “Well, it’s funny us hittin’ on you like this,
durned funny! We’d been down to Acklin looking up a location Cark was
keen about, and comin’ back I shifted the helm, seein’ you lying here
and not recognizin’ the old _Sarah_. I thought it was Gundyman’s boat.”

Said Satan, taking up the drink just presented by Antonio, “Here’s our
respects to you both. Thought I was Gundyman, did you? Well, I spotted
you on sight. Didn’t want to see you neither. This gentleman will tell
you I was squattin’ in the scuppers while Jude was handing you that lie
about the smallpox.”

“Oh, was you?” said Sellers with an open and hearty laugh.

“I was so. Let’s cut pretendin’ and play on the square--are you
willin’?”

“None better.”

“Well, I’ll put my cards out. You and Cark here have been after me
pretty near since last fall; reason why, that wreck Pap told Cark of.”

“W’ich was that?”

“I said let’s cut pretendin’ and play fair,” said Satan sternly.

Cark wilted and raised his fingers in deprecation, and Sellers cut in.

“Yes, we’ll play fair. There was talk of a wreck between your dad and
us, and I’m not denying we had an eye after it. You see I’m open and
honest with you. Heave ahead.”

“I’m comin’ to the point,” said Satan, “and the point is you and Cark
between you have got it in your heads that you’ve only to follow me,
find out where she’s located, and claim shares for not tellin’.”

“Heave ahead,” said Sellers.

“Well, you’ve got it wrong,” went on Satan. “You may follow me till the
old _Juan_ rots to pieces and you’ll never know, not if I don’t want
you to know--got that clear?”

“Clear as day,” said Sellers.

“Well, then, here’s something else. If that wreck is what she’s taken
to be, it’s more than one man’s job to shift the boodle and bank it.
I’ve got to have help, and if we can arrange a deal I’d just as soon
have you two in the show as anyone else.”

“Now you’re talking,” said Sellers.

Carquinez said nothing, but his hand shook, and Ratcliffe, watching
him, received a shock. A wreath of cigarette smoke was stealing out
from beneath the patch on his cheek! He wished the conference over and
himself back on board the healthy _Sarah_. It came to him all at once
that he had been drawn into a web of which Carquinez was the spider.
Satan, too, and Jude had been drawn in. He could do nothing, however,
at least for the moment, but watch and wait, and Satan’s face was worth
watching as that wily diplomatist sat facing Sellers.

“Not that I don’t believe you’d kidoodle me over the business if you
had a chance,” continued Satan. “You would, sure; but you see I’ve got
the weather gauge of you, knowing what I do of you, and that’s more’n
I’d have with strangers.”

“Sure,” said Sellers.

“Well, then,” said Satan, “we’ve got that far, and it comes to terms.
What’s your share to be for helpin’ to collar the stuff and dispose of
it in Havana?”

“Two dollars out of every three that we make,” said Sellers promptly.
“There’s the salving, you can’t do that alone, or your dad would have
done it prompt; then there’s the cashing of it, you’re lost men if you
try that job on by yourselves. Why, there’s not another man in Havana
could do it only Cark, and even he couldn’t bring the stuff into Havana
Harbor! It’ll have to be landed back of the island, north of Santiago.
Lord knows what he’ll have to pay!”

Satan cogitated for a moment.

“I’ll meet you,” said he at last. “I’m not set on big money. Anything
more?”

“No, that’s all,” said Sellers.

Carquinez nodded approval, and lighting another cigarette leaned back
in his chair.

“And what’s this gentleman doing in the business?” asked Sellers,
referring to Ratcliffe.

“Oh, he’s standing out,” said Satan. “He’s just on a cruise with us.”

“Yes, I’m standing out,” said Ratcliffe. “I’m in it only for the fun of
the thing, though I’m willing to help.”

“Well, I reckon you’ll have fun enough,” said Sellers, “if we get foul
of the customs, or if some other hooker comes poking along while we’re
salving. You’re British, aren’t you?”

“I am.”

“I thought so. Come out for a spree?”

“You may put it like that.”

“Did you by any chance come off a big white yacht that went west
yesterday?”

“Yes, I did. What made you guess that?”

“Well,” said Sellers, “it’s easy to be seen you aren’t one of us, and
your clothes give you away. It’s easy to be seen you haven’t been
dough-dishing long in the old _Sarah_. I didn’t get your name.”

“Ratcliffe.”

“No trade or business?”

“None. My father was Ratcliffe the shipowner, Holt & Ratcliffe.”

“Lord--love--a--duck!” said Sellers. “You’re not wanting for money,
I reckon. Well, this gets me, it do indeed! Holt & Ratcliffe--should
think I _did_ know them!”

“Antonio!” suddenly piped Carquinez.

“Si, Señor.” Antonio appeared.

“Pedro Murias,” said Carquinez.

Antonio vanished, and reappeared with a box of cigars, colossal cigars,
worth twenty-five guineas a hundred in the London market. They were
placed on the table and pushed toward Ratcliffe.

Satan grinned.

“Well,” said he, “we’ve fixed things so far,--two out of every three
dollars to you and no deductions.”

“That’s it,” said Sellers.

“And now we’ve fixed terms,” said Satan, “I want to know all about this
hooker.”

“Which was you meaning?” asked Sellers.

“The wreck.”

“Listen to him!” cried Sellers. “Mean to say you don’t know all about
her?”

“N’more than Adam. I’ve heard from Pap she was called the _Nombre de
Dios_, and was full of gold plate got from churches; but that’s not
much more than a name and a yarn. I’ve never banked much on the yarn.
Seems too much of the New Jerusalem touch about it for me.”

“Well, maybe you’re wrong,” said Sellers.

“Spit it out,” said Satan. “Tell us what you know about her. You’ve got
the contrac’; give us the news.”

“Well, I’ll tell you,” said Sellers. “She weren’t no ship with gold
plates,--your dad got that wrong,--she was a big Spanish ship out of
Vera Cruz making for Spain. She had a cargo of timber, some of them
heavy foreign timbers that don’t float. She’d got aboard her, besides
the timber, more’n a million dollars’ worth of gold,--Mexican gold most
of it, Spanish coin some of it. Lopez was the name of the skipper, and
he laid to bank that gold for himself. He’d been forty years in these
seas and knew every key and sandbank same as the insides of his own
pockets.

“Him and the mate were the only men in the know about that gold beside
a supercargo by name of Perez.

“Well, he colluded together with them two guys to sink the hooker in
six fathom water out of trade tracks, give out that she’d sunk in a
gale, and come back in a year or two and collar the boodle. They had
her bored and plugged for the game, and when they got her to the
location they pulled out the plugs, and she went down without a sneeze,
natural as a dyin’ Christian.

“They got the boats away in order, and the crew was got off to a man;
but that crew never got ashore. Maybe it was something wrong with the
grub or the water, there’s no saying, but they never got ashore to turn
witness. But the grub and water was all right in the dinghy. Them three
guys had taken the dinghy, and they were picked up and landed somewhere
on the gulf, fat and well.”

All through Sellers’ recitation Carquinez had sat nodding his head.
He glanced now at Satan and Ratcliffe as if measuring its effect upon
them, then he half closed his eyes again and retired into himself like
a tortoise.

“They slung their yarn,” went on Sellers, “and made all good, and it
was only left for them to wait awhile and hire or steal a likely boat
to pick up the stuff, when the yellow fever took the supercargo and the
mate, leaving Lopez to fish for himself.

“He got back to Havana, which was his natural home, and there he put
up with his son, who was a trader in tobacco, got a bit of a factory
not bigger than a henh’us, and turned out a brand of cigars made out of
leavin’s and brown paper mostly.

“He put the son wise about the wreck; but he wouldn’t give the location
away till it was time to go and pick up the stuff, which wouldn’t be
for a year yet.

“Then he up and died, and the son started to hunt for the chart and
couldn’t find it. The old guy had given him everything but the chart
with the location marked on it. It wasn’t a proper chart, neither: just
a piece of paper with the thing done rough, but giving the bearings.
And it was never found--not by the son. The grandson found it--and
where do you think? Pasted into the lining of an old hat. That wasn’t
so long ago, neither, and what do you think that fool of a grandson
did? Well, I’ll tell you what he did. First of all he comes to Cark
here, and tries to get him onto the job on a ten per cent basis, Cark
to risk his money and repitation for a lousy ten per cent on what might
be only the bones of an old ship. He let out her name and history and
everything but the location.

“Cark wasn’t having any on those terms,--was you, Cark?--and he told
the chap to go to Medicine Hat and pick bilberries. The chap goes off,
and what does he do but tries to get up a syndicate between himself and
two yeggmen without a keel to their names! Perrira was the name of one,
and da Silva was the name of the other, and they held a board meeting
in Diego’s saloon one night and shot holes in one another in the back
parlor.

“Silva and Perrira had fixed it to lay the grandson out and collar the
chart for themselves, and they’d have done it, only he wasn’t backward
with the shooting. Your dad was in the bar that night, and he twigged
something from what they let drop before they went to the back parlor
to hold their meeting. Then when the shooting began he was first into
the room, and collared the chart, which was lying on the floor. He was
always quick on the uptake, was your dad. Being a knowledgeable man,
he reckoned Cark was the only chap in Havana to help him take the stuff
and clear it. He knew the stuff was there by what he’d heard going on
in the bar before the three chaps had left it for the back room, but
before he could conclude business with Cark he up and died.”

Cark nodded.

“That was so,” said he.

“Well,” said Satan, “we’ve got the whole yarn now, and I’m wishing
to be done with the business. I’m pretty near sick of you two guys
trailing after me, and I’ll hand you out my belief for what it’s worth.
It don’t seem natural to me to find gold in a hooker like that, just
for the picking up, and I’d sell any man my chances for a thousand
dollars. I’ve no knowledge of what’s there. I’m just talkin’ out of
my head. You know what I am, I make my livin’, and I’m content to run
small. It’s maybe that that puts me against big ventures. Anyhow, we’ve
got to push this thing through, we’ve made the contrac’. I don’t want
it written down and signed, seein’ that the law couldn’t help me. I’m
only sayin’ that if you play me crooked I’ll split. Got that in your
heads?”

The high contracting parties on the other side nodded assent.

“That bein’ settled,” said Satan, “here’s the chart.”

He produced a metal tobacco box and took from it a folded piece of
paper, which he laid on the table before Sellers.

The effect was magical.

Carquinez sprang from his chair like a young man, came behind Sellers,
and, bending over his shoulder, looked. Ratcliffe, though out of the
business, was as excited as the others. Satan alone was calm.

He had been carrying the thing about so long that it had probably lost
its freshness of interest.

Sellers, without speaking, stared at the chart before him.

Rum Cay was shown, and then, southwest of Rum Cay, a line of reef
marked “Lone Reef,” and in red ink, connected to the reef by a red
line, the name “Nombre de Dios” could be made out, the “Dios” very
indistinct at the frayed edge of the paper. In the top right-hand
corner the latitude and longitude were written, but so faintly that it
would have required close study in a strong light to make the figures
out.

Nobody bothered about them. Lone Reef was on all the charts, and the
name was enough.

“I’ve been by there,” said Sellers at last, “and I’ve never seen signs
of a wreck.”

“You wouldn’t,” said Satan. “She lies flush with the coral in a crik
between two arms of reef, not a stump of a mast on her. The hull of
that reef must have raised itself since she was sunk, for the water in
the crik doesn’t cover her at high tide and low tides it’s pretty near
empty. But she’s been under right enough, years ago, for the decks are
coraled over, hatches and all, and the stuff’s turned to iron cement
with the sun and weather. We’ve got to dynamite her open.”

“Sure,” said Sellers; then, after a moment’s pause, “It’ll be a big
job, if it’s what you say. I had it in my mind that she was a diving
job in shallow water--never thought of the blasted coral.”

Carquinez said nothing. He withdrew to his seat at the end of the
table and lit another cigarette. To Ratcliffe the silence of Carquinez
approached the weird. The way Sellers, without consulting him, did all
the talking seemed uncanny as though the pair were telepathic.

One thing certain was gradually being borne in upon him,--they were a
most atrocious pair of rogues, and the marvel to him was the simplicity
of Satan in having any dealings at all with them. They would surely
swindle him, take what precautions he might. They would never give
him a third share of any treasure. They would, most likely, murder
him before he could split on them, if treasure were found. Of this
Ratcliffe felt certain. He tried to telegraph a warning across the
table, but Satan seemed blind to winks and frowns.

“Well, it’s there,” said Satan, “near a foot thick. You’ve got to drill
it, and stick dynamite cartridges in the drill-holes and fire them. Got
any dynamite aboard?”

“Not an ounce.”

“We might make out with blasting powder.”

“Yes, if we’d got it,” said Sellers. “There ain’t no use worrying,
we’ve got to shin out of this back to Havana and get the explosives.
Question is who’ll go for them, us or you?”

“Not me,” said Satan, “not if she was to lie there till the last
trumpet. We’re underhanded, for one thing, and, f’r another, I’m
gettin’ little enough out of the job as it stands without fetchin’ and
carryin’ for you.”

“Then we’ll go,” said Sellers. “’Twon’t take us more than a week to get
there and back. Give us ten days, counting accidents, and we’ll pick
you up here.”

“Why not at the reef?” asked Satan.

“Don’t matter,” said Sellers. “Here or there, it’s all the same to us;
ain’t it, Cark?”

Cark nodded assent, and Satan, recapturing the chart, folded it up and
put it back into the tobacco box.

“Right!” said he, placing the box into his pocket. “Here you’ll find
us.”



CHAPTER IX

THE “JUAN” SAILS


They rose from the conference table, and Carquinez stood holding his
coat together with a veined and knotted hand while the visitors were
making their adieux.

“You haven’t a few feet of galvanized wire aboard?” asked Satan as he
passed out, following Sellers.

“Come on deck,” said Sellers.

On deck he stood listening, while the other passed from galvanized
wire to the question of spare ring-bolts and other trifles he stood
desperately in need of. Like a hypnotized fowl in the hands of Satan,
he made scarcely any resistance.

He had no ring-bolts, but the galvanized wire was forthcoming, also
a little barrel for use as a buoy, some Burgundy pitch, an old
paintbrush, a small can of turpentine, and a couple of pounds of twine.

A small boat-anchor that had raised Satan’s desires brought the séance
to a conclusion and broke the spell that seemed to lie on Sellers.

Blessed if Satan wouldn’t be asking for his back teeth yet! What did he
take the _Juan_ for, a marine store? What would he want next, Carquinez?

They rowed off with the spoil, Sellers leaning on the rail and
lovingly pressing on them the acceptance of other trifles, including a
guitar.

Alongside the _Sarah_ they found Jude waiting to receive them.
She had been cleaning up the abalones, was dissatisfied with the
result,--quarter of a matchbox full of seed pearls,--and said so.

When her eye lighted on the stuff in the boat that Satan had wangled
out of Sellers, she laughed in a dreary fashion.

“What you laughin’ at?” demanded Satan.

“Nothing,” said Jude.

She sat down on an upturned keg while they brought the truck on board.
Then, nursing her knee and wiggling her bare toes to the warmth of the
sun, she sat without a word, waiting for explanations.

It seemed to Ratcliffe all at once that a critic had come on the scene.
He had forgotten Jude in relation to the deal over the wreck, and he
was wondering now how she would take it. The female does not always
see eye to eye with the male, as many a business man has discovered on
revealing a transaction to the wife of his bosom.

Leaning against the rail, he filled his pipe and awaited the
revelation with interest; but Satan, the revealer, seemed in no hurry
for the business. He was bustling about disposing of the new-gotten
“stores,”--the turpentine and pitch forward in the hole where paints
were kept, the galvanized wire in a locker, and the little barrel
behind the canvas boat.

Then he came aft again and, lighting a pipe, stood beside Ratcliffe.

“Well, what you been doing, anyway?” asked Jude, suddenly opening her
batteries.

“Doing--which?” asked Satan. “Oh, you mean with Cark. Well, I’ve
settled things with him, fixed it up so’s he’s goin’ to help.”

“Which way?” asked Jude.

“Why, to get the stuff, if it’s there--what else? He’s our only chance
of doing the thing proper.”

“What’s he askin’?” said Jude.

“You mean terms?”

“Yep.”

“Well, it’s this way: He’ll have to do the wreckin’ business, and then
if the stuff’s got he’ll have to run it ashore, and after that he’ll
have to get rid of it. I’m givin’ him two dollars out of every three.”

“Oh, Lord!” said Jude.

“What’s the matter with you?”

“Why didn’t you give him the lot?”

“Now look you here!” cried Satan. “I don’t want no sass! Who’s runnin’
this show, you or me? How do you know what I’ve got up my sleeve?
Have you ever known me done on a deal yet? Now you take my orders
where Cark’s concerned and take them smart, with no questions! If you
don’t--well, then, trade with him yourself, take charge of the _Sarah_
and run her yourself! Lippin’ your betters!”

Jude took off her old hat and looked into it as if for inspiration;
then she clapped it on her head again, drew up both feet, clasped her
arms round her knees, and sat on the keg-top speechless and brooding,
her eyes fixed on the _Juan_.

Satan turned and went below.

“Jude,” said Ratcliffe.

“What you want?” said Jude, without shifting her gaze.

“Suppose you had all the money off that old wreck, if the money is
there, what would you do with it?”

“What’s the good of askin’ me things like that?” said Jude. “I’d
precious soon do something with it!”

“No, you wouldn’t. You’d put it in the bank, and then your trouble
would begin.”

“Which way?”

“Well, you’d have it in the bank or invested and it would bring you
in, say, twenty thousand dollars a year; well, you couldn’t spend that
on the dock-side, could you? You wouldn’t be able to spend it at all
unless you gave up the _Sarah_ and lived ashore in a fine house with a
carriage and horses and servants, and to do that you’d have to become
a lady--or gentleman,” hastily put in Ratcliffe, the figure on the keg
suddenly threatening to turn on him. “You’d have to do that, and you’d
have to do more than that: you’d have to learn all sorts of things.”

“Which sort?”

“Oh, lots. Can you write, Jude?”

“You bet!”

“Told me the other day you couldn’t.”

“Well, I’ve most forgot. Pap started to learn me, then he said he
reckoned I was more cut out for makin’ puddin’s, but he learned me to
write my name.”

“Well, if you ever grow rich, you’ll have to do a lot more than write
your name.”

“Which way?”

“You’ll have to write checks and letters, and, what’s more, you’ll have
to be able to read them.”

“Well, I reckon,” said the philosophical Jude, “it’ll be time enough
to bother about that when I’m rich--and seems to me I’ll never be rich
with them two diddling Satan same as they’ve done.”

“Oh, yes, you will; you are going to be rich some day, as rich as I am.
I’m a fortune teller. Show us your hand.”

Jude held out a hand, and Ratcliffe examined the palm where the lines
were few but straight and clear cut. It was a beautiful little hand,
despite the hard work it had done, full of character and vigor, and
expressing kindliness and honesty and capability.

Ratcliffe had an instinct for hands. A hand could attract or repulse
him just as powerfully as a face; more so, perhaps, for a hand never
lies.

“Oh, yes,” said he, “you are going to be rich, you can’t escape it, and
you are going to learn reading and writing and arithmetic, and you are
going to live to be a hundred.”

“Cut me throat first!” said Jude. “Heave ahead.”

“And you are going to England some day, and you’ll turn into a
Britisher.”

“Damned if I do! Satan!”

“Hullo!” came a faint voice from below.

“Rat says I’m goin’ to turn into a Britisher.”

“They wouldn’t own you. Quit foolin’ and get the dinner ready.”

Jude uncurled herself, came down from the keg with a thud, ran to the
open skylight, and was about to reply in kind, when her eye caught
sight of something that brought her to a halt.

They were handling the canvas on the _Juan_.

“Cark’s off!” cried she.

Satan came on deck. Across the blue blaze of the sea they could hear
now the clank of the windlass pawls,--the _Juan’s_ anchor was coming up.

“I thought Sellers would have come on board before they started,” said
Ratcliffe. “They’re in a big hurry, aren’t they?”

“You bet,” said Satan with a grin. “He’ll crack on everything to get to
Havana for that dynamite; won’t stop to eat their dinners till they’re
back,--that’s what they’d have us believe--swabs!”

“Why, don’t you think they are going to Havana?”

“Oh, they’re _goin’_ to Havana right enough,” said Satan. “You watch
and you’ll see them headin’ that way. Look! she’s fillin’ to the wind.”

The anchor was home now, and they watched the sails filling as she
headed on the same course the _Dryad_ had taken. She dipped her flag,
and they returned the compliment; then she drew past the southern
reefs, the hull vanished, and nothing remained but the topsails far
against the western blue.

Ten minutes later, down below at dinner, Jude, who had said no word
about the departure of the _Juan_, but seemed to have been thinking a
lot, suddenly spoke.

“You never told me that chap was going to Havana for dynamite,” said
Jude. “What for--to bust the wreck open?”

“That’s it,” replied Satan. “Did you think he wanted it to eat?”

“There’s no knowing what a feller may swallow, seeing you’ve swallowed
that yarn,” said Jude. “He’s gone to Havana to sell us, that’s my
’pinion.”

“Which way?”

“Lord! there’s many a way of sellin’ fools.”

Ratcliffe felt that the truth was with Jude, he felt an uneasy
conviction that they had been done. The hurried departure of Carquinez
seemed to put a seal on the business. He looked at Satan expecting an
explosion; but Satan was quite calm and helping himself to canned ox
tongue.

“Seein’ I have the chart,” said he, “where’s the sellin’ to come in?”

“But you’ve give him the location,” said Jude. “You said yourself that
the place was fixed on every chart and a chap had only to have Lone
Reef in his head to put his claws on the wreck.”

“That’s so,” said Satan; “but the location is no use without the chart.”

“What are you gettin’ at?”

“I’m tryin’ to get at your intellects. How often have you seen that
chart?”

“Dozens of times.”

“Ever noticed anything queer about it? Not you! Giving sass to your
betters is your lay in life instead of usin’ your eyes.” He pushed his
plate away, produced the tobacco box, and, taking the chart from it,
laid it on the table.

Jude got up and came behind him to look, while Ratcliffe leaned forward.

“There’s the chart,” said Satan. “There’s the reef, and there’s the
name of the hooker pointin’ at the reef, and there’s the latitude and
longitude wrote up in the corner. Plain, ain’t it?”

“That’s plain enough,” said Ratcliffe.

Jude, munching a biscuit, concurred.

“Plain enough, ain’t it?” went on Satan. “Give a man the name of Lone
Reef, and with any old Admiralty chart he’ll get there, and he has
only to land on the reef to find the hooker stuck there in that crik
between them two arms. Jude has seen her, and I’ve walked over her and
’xamined her, and she’d have been broke open maybe by this, only chaps
don’t land on reefs like that, not unless a storm lands them. We struck
it huntin’ for abalones. Plain enough, ain’t it? Well, I tell you the
whole business is no use to any man who hasn’t that chart in his hand
and who can’t read what’s written on it secret. Here you are! Take a
good long look, and I’ll give you ten dollars if you spot what I mean.
It’s as clear as simple.”

Ratcliffe spread the thing before him on the table.

“I can’t see anything in it,” said he at last, “except what’s written
plain enough. There’s Rum Cay, there’s the reef, the name of the wreck
with a pointer to the reef, and the latitude and longitude up in the
corner. No, I can’t see anything but that: it all seems plain as a
pikestaff. I take an interest in cryptograms, too.”

“What’s that?”

“Cryptograms? Hidden writing.”

“Well, that’s what’s before you,” said Satan. “Pap never twigged it,
nor any of the crowd that had the handlin’ of it. It’s only a month ago
I spotted it.”

“You never said a word to me,” cut in Jude.

“Get back to your place and don’t be chewin’ in my ear,” said Satan,
reaching for the chart and pocketing it again. “Tell you? Likely! Why,
if I had, you’d have let it out, same as you did the lie of the reef
to Rat here the other day. Get on with your dinner! Why haven’t we any
potatoes?”

“No time to boil them,” said Jude, “cleanin’ up your mushy abalones.”

“No time, and you yarnin’ and havin’ your future told! I heard you.”

“My fault,” said Ratcliffe. “I began the business.”

“Not you,” said Satan. “I heard her start in on it, sayin’ what she’d
do with a fortune if she had it and finishin’ up by mistrustin’ me.”

“Lord love you for a liar! I only said them two guys had done you in
over the wreck,” cried Jude. “Don’t be stickin’ words in my mouth.”

“How was it you came to spot the cryptogram?” asked Ratcliffe, eager to
cut the dissension short.

“The which?” asked Satan. “Oh, ay--well, it come natural for me to
say to myself, ‘Here’s a thing that’s been hid up and kept secret, yet
it’s all wrote out as plain as my palm.’ I said to myself, ‘It’s too
blame simple! A man who knows where money is hid doesn’t write the
location on a bit of paper, to be lost, maybe, and picked up by God
knows who. Why, drop that chart in the streets of Havana, and the first
chap with any knowledge in his head that picks it up will turn it into
dollars right off. It’s a sure bait for fools, anyhow, and a wreckin’
expedition would be out before the end of the week. They’d only have to
look up any chart that’s been printed the last hundred years to find
Lone Reef as easy as the Swimmer Rocks.’ Then I said to myself, ‘What
in the nation did the guy want makin’ a chart at all for? Why couldn’t
he have written on a piece of paper, “The Nombre de Dios lies on Lone
Reef, sou’west of Rum Cay”? That’s all the chart says, and yet he must
go and make drawin’s; must have taken him an hour’s pen scraping to
make that chart.’ Puttin’ the two things together, I says to myself,
‘The feller concerned must have been a fool in two ways if this thing’s
genuine,--a fool to leave the fac’s as plain as an ad for liver pills,
and a fool to waste his time drawin’ his advertisement instead of
writin’ it,’ but I reckoned he was no fool. Dad was always quotin’ some
damn ass who said the world was most made up of fools. Well, in my
’xperience that don’t hold. Maybe in Europe it does, but not in Havana
and the Gulf ports, anyway. So I says to myself, ‘Let’s try and see
what the guy was drivin’ at.’”

“And you won’t tell us how you did it?”

“I’d just as soon not.”

“Why?”

“Because,” said Satan, “I may be wrong; though I’m pretty sure I’m
right--and I b’lieve in a shut head.”

“You opened your head to Cark, anyhow,” said Jude.

“I’ll tell you once and I won’t tell you twice, if I have any more
chat out of you, I’ll lay into you with a slipper! O’ course I opened
my head to him! Did you want him hanging round here and sniffin’ out
the cache? Haven’t we got rid of him? I don’t want any more talkin’.
I’ve my plan laid out and you’ve get to take my orders right from now
without questions!” He turned to Ratcliffe. “You don’t mind helpin’ to
work the boat, leavin’ sailing directions to me?”

“Not I,” said Ratcliffe. “I’m quite content to help and look on,
leaving things to you. What’s your first move?”

“I’m goin’ to clear out of this tomorrow.”

“Why, I thought you was going to wait for Cark to come back,” said Jude.

“Never you mind what you thought. I’m goin’ to clear out of this
tomorrow. Meantime, I want more stuff from the cache, and you’d better
take the dinghy and get it right off. I want provisions for a month for
the three of us.”



CHAPTER X

CUSS WORDS


When they had washed up and put the plates in their rack, Jude
commandeered Ratcliffe to help with the dinghy. Satan, having given
his orders, had retired into himself and the business of patching an
old sail. He was seated at the work under the awning, and he seemed
scarcely to notice the others as they got the boat away.

“Satan’s got something up his sleeve,” said Jude as they pulled for the
beach. “I reckon he’s laying low to get the better of Cark.”

“Well, if you ask me,” said Ratcliffe, “I think he has got the better
of him in some way or another. I don’t know how, and I don’t want to.
I’d sooner wait and see. It’s as interesting as a game of chess.”

“What’s that?”

“Chess--oh, it’s a game. I’ll show you some day. Don’t you ever play
games, Jude?”

“You bet! Why, I won five dollars day before we put out buckin’ against
the red at Chinese Charlie’s--y’know Havana? Well, it’s on the Calle
sin Pedro. They play faro, but mostly r’lette.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that sort of games.”

“Which sort did you mean?” asked Jude, as the nose of the boat beached
on the sand and they scrambled out. “Did you mean whisky drinkin’ and
cuttin’ and carryin’ on?”

“Oh, Lord, no! I meant games, just ordinary games.”

Jude, the boat well beached, sat down on the blazing sands. It was
two hours past noon, and the heat of the day had lifted under the
freshening wind from the east, the tide was on the turn, and the
far-off lamentations of the gulls around the southern reef-spurs came
mixed with the fall of the waves,--waves scarcely a foot high, crystal
clear, less waves than giant ripples.

Beyond the _Sarah Tyler_ and her reflection on the water lay the
violet-colored sea, infinity, and the blue of sky, broken only by a
gull, spar white in the dazzle.

Ratcliffe sat down beside his companion. Jude, like any old salt, had
her moments of dead laziness. Active as a kitten as a rule, she would
suddenly knock off, when the fancy took her, “let go all holts,” to use
Satan’s expression, and laze. You couldn’t kick her out of it, Satan
said.

She had brought an old pair of boots for going through the bay cedar
bushes. It wasn’t good to walk among the bushes unshod: there were
tarantulas there, and scorpions, to say nothing of stump cacti. The
boots were lying beside her on the sand, to be put on only at the last
moment.

“What you mean by ordinary games?” asked Jude suddenly, finishing the
inspection of a new variety of soft-shell crab she had just caught and
flinging it into the sea.

“Oh, the games people play,” said Ratcliffe, who had almost forgotten
what they had been talking about. He tried to explain, and found it
singularly hard, especially when cross-examined.

Jude did not seem able to understand grown men and women spending half
a day “knockin’ a ball about.”

“I used to play ma’bles with Dutch Mike’s kids when we were at
Pensacola,” said she. “Mike ran a whisky joint, and the kids were
pretty ornery. When we’d done playin’ marbles they’d have a cussin’
bee.”

“What on earth’s that?”

“Well, you’ve heard of a spellin’ bee--you get a prize for spellin’ the
best. Well, a cussin’ bee you start cussin’ each other, and the one
that cusses hardest gets the prize. Pap never knew till one day he let
into me with a strap for somethin’ or ’nother and I let fly at him.
Then he found it was Mike’s children who’d been learnin’ me, and he had
a dust-up with Mike on the wharf, and left him limpin’ for the rest of
his natural. Did you cuss when you was young?”

“No,” said Ratcliffe. “I learned that later.”

“’R you any good at it?”

“Upon my word, I don’t know.”

“Have a try,” said Jude, losing her languor. “Clench your fists to
it and have a go at me, and then I’ll have a go at you--there’s no
one listenin’. Pretend you’re the skipper and I’m a hand that’s been
haulin’ on the wrong rope.”

“No,” said Ratcliffe. “I’m no use at it, and it’s not a nice game,
anyway. I’d sooner play at something else.”

Jude sniffed. She evidently felt snubbed. “I’m not a baby to be playing
games,” said she. “You can go and play by yourself if you want to.”

She collapsed on her back with her knees up and her old hat covering
her face; then from under the hat:

“You’ll hear all the swearin’ you want to in a minute from the old
hooker.”

“You mean Satan?”

“Yep, the minute he turns his eye ashore and sees us lazin’ here
instead of workin’.”

“Then, come on.”

“Not me,” said Jude, “not till Satan begins. I’m too comfortable. I
been working hard all the morning while you two was aboard the _Juan_
clackin’ with Sellers and havin’ drinks, I bet. I’m going to rest
myself--what did you have?”

“Ginger beer and a cigar.”

“Did you take notice of Cark’s face?”

“Rather!”

“They say he hasn’t any one side to his face where the patch is. I’d
like to see him with the patch off, wouldn’t you?”

“Lord, no! I saw quite enough of him with it on. Come, get up, and
let’s get to work.”

“I’m not goin’ to work no more,” mumbled Jude drowsily. “I’m dead sick
of fetchin’ and carryin’. Let Satan go and fetch and carry for himself.
I’m going to stick here.”

“On the island?”

“Yep.”

“And give up Satan and the _Sarah_?”

“Yep.”

“But what will you do for a living?”

“Start a la’ndry.”

“But there’s no one here to give you any washing to do.”

“Then I’ll have all the easier time.”

“That’s true. It’s a bright idea, and I’ll stay with you and carry the
laundry basket.”

“No, you won’t! I’ll stick here alone.”

Suddenly, across the water from the _Sarah_ and shattering this
fantasy, came a voice. It was Satan’s voice, distant and borne on the
breeze. Ratcliffe thought he could make out the words “lazy dog.”

He got up. Jude with the old panama over her face had stiffened out as
if dead. He tried to turn her over with his foot. Then he felt half
frightened. Had the sun got to her head, and was all that nonsense talk
delirium?

He knelt down beside her and shook her.

“Jude, what’s the matter with you?”

No reply.

He took the panama from the face. The eyes were closed and the features
were in repose.

Now, really alarmed, he jumped up, ran down to the boat, seized the
baling tin, and filled it with sea water. He had never seen a case of
sunstroke, but he had heard cold water on the head was a remedy.

As he turned back with the tin the corpse was sitting up putting on its
boots.

“What’re you doing with that baling tin?” said Jude.

“I’ll jolly soon show you!” said he, making toward her. “Shamming dead!”

But before he could reach her she was gone among the bushes, one boot
on, the other off. Then, flinging the baling tin away, he joined her,
helped her on with the boot, and they started. Jude, as if to make up,
put her hand into his in a trusting and loving manner. She swung his
hand as they walked. Then, near their destination, she flung it away
and made off, hunting like a dog among the bushes till she found what
she was in search of,--a long, knotted rope.

“What’s that for?” asked he.

“You wait and see,” replied Jude. “Here’s the cache. Mind where you’re
walkin’ or you’ll be into it.”

The cache was well hidden among the bay cedars. The opening, eight feet
long by six broad, was covered over with short poles spread with cut
branches gone withered with the sun. When they had got the covering
off, Jude tied one end of the rope to a tree close by and dropped the
other end into the cache. She swung herself down by it, and Ratcliffe
followed.

From the floor of this place a step, two feet high, gave entrance to
the cave.

“You see,” said Jude. “It may rain till it’s black, but it never floods
the cave. The water drains off before it can rise the height of the
step.”

There were a candle and some matches inside the cave entrance. She lit
the candle and led the way.

Ratcliffe was astounded, less by the size of the place, than the stacks
of goods,--canned peaches, condensed milk, corned beef, tomatoes, ox
tongues, Heinz’s pickles, Nabisco wafers. The old brig, making for some
gulf port, must have been a floating Italian warehouse as far as cargo
was concerned.

“I don’t wonder at Satan not wanting Sellers and Carquinez to spot all
this,” said he. “Why, there must be five hundred pounds’ worth of stuff
here. Aren’t you afraid that nigger who skipped from you at Pine Island
may split?”

“Sakes, no! He was too much afeared of Satan. Satan was always
threatening to skin him. Besides, he doesn’t know. We told him this
place was Turtle Island, and that’s a hundred and fifty miles to
s’uth’ard. You trust Satan to keep a thing dark. Here, catch hold of
the candle while I collect.”

There were two sacks folded up on the floor. She started collecting
things, and when the sacks were half-filled Jude, clambering out of the
pit, hauled them up by the rope.

“Anything more?” asked he, from below.

“I reckon that will be enough,” said Jude, looking down at him. “It’ll
take us all our time to carry them to the boat, and if Satan ain’t
satisfied he can come and fetch some more himself.”

“Then drop the rope; I want to get out.”

Jude, kneeling at the cache edge, lowered the rope gingerly. He reached
up, and was just about to seize the loose end when it eluded him.

“Why don’t you catch hold?” asked Jude.

“I can’t. How could I when you pulled it up again. Go on, drop it and
don’t play the fool.”

“Who’s playin’ the fool?”

“You are.”

The rope, instead of descending again, was hauled right out of the
cache. Then a face appeared, looking down and framed against the sky.
He had forgotten the snub he had given her on the beach, but she hadn’t.

“D’y’r’member what you said down there on the beach?” asked Jude.

“No, what about?”

“Cussin’.”

“Oh, yes.”

“Said I wanted you to play games that wasn’t nice.”

“I never said any such thing.”

“Didn’t yer? Well, whether you did or you didn’t, you’ve got to swear
before I let you out.”

“Well, then I’ll stay in. Go on, Jude, don’t be silly. It’s cold down
here.”

The rope came down, and he was just seizing the end when it was whipped
out of his hand.

“Damn!” said Ratcliffe wholeheartedly.

“Now you’re talkin’,” said Jude.

Like a boy fishing for polliwogs, she lowered the rope again and
snatched it up suddenly, bringing with it another oath.

But the third time he was too quick for her. Then as he came swarming
up with skinned knuckles and rage in his heart, she bolted. He chased
her, dodging here and there among the bushes, then he chased her round
a tree, caught her, and, in his anger and irritation somehow, kissed
her.

The perfectly amazing smack on the face that followed was revelation;
it also knocked him off his balance so that he sat down as though cut
off at the knees.



CHAPTER XI

THE COMING OF CLEARY


She stood for a moment, frightened at her handiwork.

Then, as he pulled himself together, she drew away a step.

“What ails you?” asked she.

Ratcliffe, sitting up with his hand to the top of his head, groaned.

She drew a step closer. Then she saw that he was laughing, and drew a
step back.

“Get up, and don’t be fooling,” said she.

“Fooling! And who started it?” asked he.

Jude made no reply. She turned and went off to the cache, lugged the
sacks a bit more away from the opening, and started to put the poles
across. When he joined her on the work she wouldn’t speak. She was
evidently mortally offended.

He knew at once and by some fine instinct what was the matter with her.
He had trod on her dignity, like the Thelusson woman,--treated her like
a child, that is to say like a girl, for the two things were synonymous
with Jude, who seemed to have no more idea of the realities of sex than
a pumpkin.

When she did speak at last, it was to give jeering orders.

“Lord! Did you never have to use your hands? Which way is that to be
sticking the poles? Why, it’d take twenty dozen to cover it the way
you’re doing! Leave a foot and a half between them.”

“Right,” said Ratcliffe humbly.

“I didn’t say two foot.”

“Sorry.”

“Now the branches an’ stuff.”

She had reserved one of the poles, for what reason soon became apparent.

Each sack was too heavy to be carried by one person, so she slung one
to the middle of the pole, and they started for the beach, Caleb and
Joshua fashion, Ratcliffe in front.

It was horrible work. They had to keep step, which was difficult; owing
to the bushes, the going was bad. The sack kept slipping toward Jude,
owing to the inequality of their heights, and the pressure of the pole
on his shoulder was galling; also the wind had changed and was coming
from the direction of the gulf, warm and moist like the breath from a
great mouth.

When they reached the beach he sat down. Unused to hard work and
unused to the climate, he was sweating and exhausted. Jude looked
comparatively cool and fresh.

“Now then, Lazybones!” said Jude. Then she collapsed also, sitting down
with her knees up and her arms round them.

She seemed to have forgotten the sack, Ratcliffe, everything, as she
sat whistling dreamily between her teeth and staring across the water
toward the _Sarah_.

She had kicked off her boots, and her toes were playing with the sand.
Uncramped by boots, her feet were as expressive as her hands.

“You’ll hear Satan begin to holler in a minute,” said Jude.

“Let him,” said the other, “I’m not going to stir another foot till
I’ve rested myself.”

“Oh, he won’t holler at you. It’s me he’ll go for; you’re the
first-class passenger.”

“No, I’m not: I’m one of the crew.”

Jude laughed in a mirthless manner.

“Well, I reckon myself one, anyhow,” said he. “I wouldn’t have come on
board unless I was to help in working the boat.”

“Oh, Satan won’t mind you helpin’ to work her,” replied she; “but he
didn’t bring you aboard for that.”

“I know--and it was awfully decent of him. He just thought I’d like the
cruise.”

Jude sniffed.

“I reckon you don’t know Satan,” said she.

“How?”

“Satan never does nothing for nothing.”

“Well, what did he bring me aboard for?”

“Lord knows,” said Jude; “but he’s got something up his sleeve, sure.
Mind you, Satan’s as straight as they make them unless he’s dealin’
with law chaps and such, and you’d be safe with him if you was blind
and dumb and covered with diamonds only waitin’ to be picked off you.
You see, you’re straight, and anyone that’s straight with Satan he’s
straight with them. It’s different with lawyers, or guys like Cark and
Sellers, who’d beat their own gran’mothers out of their store teeth.
All the same, you look out with Satan. He’s got some plan about you,
sure.”

“What sort of plan is it, do you think, Jude?”

“Lord knows. Nothing to harm you, anyway; maybe it’s to go shares in
some deal--I dunno.”

“Well, I’m up for any deal he likes to propose that would benefit
him--as much money as he wants.”

“Satan’s not set on money,” said Jude, “not in a big way. I reckon
he’s something like Pap. Pap would take no end of trouble making a few
dollars, but he was never really set on bein’ rich. I reckon he took up
that old wreck business more for the fun of the thing than the dollars.
He used to say great riches was only trouble to a man, an’ that he only
wanted God’s good air and ’nough to live on.”

“Well, maybe he was right,” said Ratcliffe.

“I reckon Satan cottoned to you because he thought you was honest,”
said Jude.

“Well, I hope I am.”

“He said to me, right off, after you’d gone back to the yacht, ‘I
reckon that feller’s honest,’ he said.”

Ratcliffe laughed.

“You see,” went on Jude, “you don’t pick up honest parties round these
parts, not by the bushel. You might rake Havana with a finetooth comb
lookin’ for fellers that wouldn’t do you, but you wouldn’t find none.
It’s the same all round the gulf, from N’Orleans to Campêche; you can’t
stick your nose in anywhere without being stung--if you’re a softy.”

“So he liked me because he thought I was straight. What did you like me
for, Jude?”

“Lord! if you don’t fancy yourself! Who told you I liked you?”

“You did last night. You said you and Satan took to me right off.”

“Oh, did I? Well, maybe it was them pajamas--Hullo!” The shrill notes
of a bo’sn’s whistle came over the water. She sprang to her feet.

Satan’s form appeared at the rail of the _Sarah_. He was making
movements with his arms as though signaling, and Jude flung up an arm
in answer.

Then, shading her eyes, she looked seaward.

“What’s up?” asked Ratcliffe.

“Come on!” said Jude.

She seized the sack, called on him to help her, and between them they
ran it down to the water’s edge. Then they got the dinghy afloat, the
sack on board, and started.

“What’s up?” again asked Ratcliffe, as they rowed.

“Sail,” said Jude.

He had seen nothing, perhaps because of the sun-dazzle on the water or
because he had not looked in the right direction. The sensitiveness
of the Tylers to the approach of strangers and their hawklike vision
struck him as belonging almost to the uncanny.

Satan had rigged a tackle, and without a word uttered the sack was got
aboard and below. Then and not till then did Satan speak.

“It’s Cleary,” said he.

Jude took the old glass he had been using, and examined the stranger,
then she handed it to Ratcliffe. He turned it on the fleck of sail
which sprang gigantic into the form of a big fore-and-aft-rigged boat,
beating up for the island, the late afternoon sunlight flashing back
from the foam at the forefoot and her foam-wet bows.

“Who is Cleary?” asked he, handing back the glass.

“Cark’s partner,” said Satan, “sort of half and half partner. They’re
always bestin’ one another. Cleary is by way of bein’ a ship breaker
and dealer in odds and ends; owns a couple of ratty old schooners
besides that old ketch. Wonder what he’s doin’ down here? Curse him!”

“He’s after Cark, most likely,” said Jude. “Maybe he’s got a smell of
the wreck.”

“Maybe,” replied Satan. “He’s always spyin’ on Cark. There’s nothin’
much that Cleary don’t know, and if he got wind that Cark’s on a likely
job he’d put out after him.”

It seemed to Ratcliffe all at once that the old wreck lying on that
unseen reef might have been likened to a carcass in the desert, and
that he was watching the gathering of the vultures to a feast.

First Carquinez, now Cleary--how many more would come circling out of
the blue?

He said so, and Satan concurred.

“It’s got out somehow or ’nother,” said Satan, “and Lord only knows
there may be half a dozen others on the hunt. You see, the very fac’
of Cark’s puttin’ to sea himself would give suspicions to half Havana;
but Cleary is the only man beside Cark that knows my ports of call. He
knows I come here for abalones, and he knows I hunt round Pine Island,
not to say other places.”

Satan fell into meditation for a moment. Then he resumed:

“That’s what the cuss has been doin’. He’s been on the hunt for me,
same as Cark was, only for different reasons. Now you wait and see.
Jude!”

“Hullo,” said Jude.

“Did you cover the cache proper?”

“You bet; but there’s a sack of stuff we didn’t manage to bring off.
It’s among the bushes.”

“It’ll have to lay there.”

“What’s the name of Cleary’s boat?” asked Ratcliffe as he watched the
approaching ketch.

“The _Natchez_,” said Satan, “an old cod boat, built at Marthas
Vineyard. Lord! ain’t they crackin’ on! Cleary’s in a hurry. There’s no
denyin’ that.”

He whistled contentedly as he leaned on the rail, and Ratcliffe,
watching his hatchet-sharp profile, wondered what was coming next.
Of one thing he was beginning to feel certain,--Cleary, Carquinez,
Sellers, and anything else that might come out of Havana on the long
trail for plunder would find a match in Satan.



CHAPTER XII

AN HONEST MAN


The ketch carried on, heading straight for the _Sarah_; then, spilling
the wind from her sails, she came round, presenting a full view of her
dirty old hull and dropping her anchor two cable lengths away.

Almost on the last rasp of the anchor chain she dropped a boat, which
shoved off for the _Sarah_.

“That’s Cleary,” said Satan, shading his eyes.

It was, and as Cleary came on board, leg over rail, saluting Satan
with the affability of old acquaintanceship and the quarterdeck with
a squirt of tobacco juice, Ratcliffe fell to wondering what sort of
place Havana might be and what else it might give up in the way of
detrimentals.

Carquinez was bad and Sellers was bad, but Cleary was--Cleary. Against
the gold and blue of afternoon, the sight of this faded man, who
looked as though he had seen better days, who suggested a broken-down
schoolmaster, with a slungshot in his pocket, struck Ratcliffe with
astonishment and depression. It was as though the dazzling air had
suddenly split to disclose a London slum.

“Hullo! Hullo!” said Cleary. “Thought I recognized the old hooker. What
you doin’ down here away?”

Jude made a dive for the galley, and Ratcliffe could hear her choking.
The sound banished the feeling of depression and repulsion created by
the newcomer and brightened him somehow.

Here was the comic man of the pantomime come aboard.

“What am I doin’?” said Satan. “I’m fishin’ for chair-backs. What are
you doin’ yourself?”

Cleary turned, spat his quid overboard, and then, leaning on the rail,
looking seaward, with his back to the others, and, just as easy as
though he were aboard his own ship, laughed.

“Fishin’ for chair-backs!” Then, sluing his head half round, “How’s the
abalone fishin’ gone?”

“Jude!” cried Satan.

“Hullo!”

“Bring up them pearls!”

Cleary turned, and, leaning with his back against the rail, began to
fill an old pipe in a languid and leisurely manner. Then, when the
pearls were produced, he turned them from the matchbox into the palm of
his hand.

“How much?” asked Cleary.

“Forty dollars,” said Satan.

“Forty which?”

“Dollars.”

“Ain’t worth forty cents.”

“Well, who’s askin’ you to deal?”

Cleary carefully poured the pearls into the matchbox, closed it, and
put it in his pocket.

Satan did not seem to mind.

“Jude!” said Satan.

“What?”

“Bring up them cigars!”

“Who’s the gentleman?” asked Cleary.

“Gentleman came aboard for a cruise off a yacht. You needn’t mind him;
he’s only out for pleasure.”

Cleary nodded to Ratcliffe, who nodded in return. Then things hung
for a moment till Jude appeared with the cigar-box, and the newcomer,
having tapped the tobacco out of his pipe, chose a cigar, lit it and,
leaning with his back against the rail and his thumbs in the armholes
of his old waistcoat, blew clouds. He seemed for a moment far away in
thought, and Ratcliffe, watching him and Satan,--Jude having vanished
again, attacked with another fit of choking,--puzzled his head in
vain to find out the inner meaning of what was going on. The wretched
pearls were scarcely worth five dollars, he had heard Satan say so, and
Cleary, evidently an expert, was not the man to pay eight times their
worth, nor was Satan the man to allow the other to pocket them.

Then suddenly Cleary spoke.

“Cark’s a clever man, don’t you think?”

“Well, seein’ he’s your partner, you’re a better judge than me,”
replied Satan.

“Well, maybe that’s so,” said Cleary. “Partners we were, and partners
we are till I ketch him and bust him.”

“Why, what’s he been doin’ to you?”

“Now, I’ll tell you,” said Cleary. “I’m an honest man. I don’t say in
trade I’m not above shavin’ the barber, but between man an’ man I’m
honest, and I’m goin’ to tell you straight out Cark and me has been
layin’ for you ever since your dad was fool enough to give Cark the
tip about that treasure business. I wasn’t keen on it, same as he
was. I allowed there might be somethin’ in it--but that don’t matter.
What gets my monkey is Cark he gets fearful thick with Sellers, then
he cools off on the business of the treasure gettin’, and a matter of
two weeks ago he rigs up a job for me to see after at Pensacola that’d
have taken me two months and more. I says to myself, ‘There’s somethin’
in this.’ Says nothin’ to Cark. Off I goes, taking the old _Natchez_.
Hadn’t reached the latitood of Key West when back I puts, and finds
Cark gone with the _Juan_ and Sellers.

“Then I knew he’s started to hunt for you again, leavin’ me in the
lonely cold. He’s been huntin’ you ever since last fall, that’s
straight; but he’d never let me down before. He’d always told me the
results. I tell you he’s huntin’ for you now, and the surprisin’ thing
is he hasn’t found you, knowing as he does this is one of your grounds.”

“How do you know he hasn’t found me?”

“What you mean?”

“Why, he was here this morning and off not four hours ago.”

“Christopher!”

“Him and Sellers.”

“Holy Mike!”

“You was comin’ up from West, you ought to have sighted him.”

“Sighted nothin’ but a tank, and her nearly hull down.”

“Well, if you’d been here a few hours earlier, you’d have smelt the old
_Juan_ as well as sightin’ her.”

“Was he here on business?”

“He was,--he was after that wreck Pap told him of. You just told me
he’s been after me since last fall spyin’ on me. I know it, and I’m
pretty sick of the business. B’sides, he’s as good to help in it as
anyone else; so I’ve made a contrac’ with him.”

“_Sufferin_’ Moses!--a contrac’ with Cark!” Cleary stood for a moment
as though absorbing this news, then he laughed, the funniest laugh
Ratcliffe had ever heard,--it was like the whinny of a pony. He saw
Jude’s head at the cabin hatch, and the head suddenly duck and vanish,
as though her body had been doubled up.

“A contrac’ with Cark!”

“Well, what are you laughin’ at?”

“Nothin’. May I ask what terms?”

“We go shares.”

“In the pickin’s?”

“What else?”

“Have you give him the location?”

“I have.”

“You’ve give him the location and let him slip his cable--him and
Sellers?”

“What odds? It’ll take a month to bust her open and hunt for the
stuff. I’ll be after him tomorrow.”

Cleary crossed his arms and stood with the half-cigar stuck in the
corner of his mouth and pointing skyward, his eyes fixed on the deck
and his left eye half closed.

Jude’s face had reappeared at the cabin hatch, and the grin on it
spread to Ratcliffe’s.

Satan alone was unmoved, half-sitting on the keg and cutting up some
tobacco.

“Well,” said Cleary at last, “you’ve made your bargain, there’s no
gettin’ round that. _I’m_ not wishin’ to poke my nose in your business,
nor to ask what your share is to be, but I’m partners with Cark, and
you see how he’s let me down--cayn’t you give me a lead?”

“Which way?”

“Give me a lead to the location. It won’t make a cent difference to
you.”

“How’s that?”

“Clear enough, I don’t want none of your share. Cark’s the man I want
to tap, having a right to, being partners.”

Satan seemed to turn this matter over in his mind for a moment. Then he
said, “Suppose we come back to them pearls?”

“Right,” said Cleary in a lively voice. “What’s this you was askin’,
forty? Well, forty you shall have.”

He produced an old brown pocketbook, counted out four ten-dollar notes,
and handed them over.

Satan examined each note, back and front, folded them, and placed them
into his pocket.

“Now,” said Cleary, “out with the lead!”

“You’ll have it tomorrow,” said Satan. “I’m pickin’ up my anchor
tomorrow mornin’. You’ve only to follow me.”

“I’d rayther have the indications on paper.”

“Maybe you would, but you won’t. I’ve made my bargain with Cark, and
there’s nothin’ in the contrac’ about givin’ the location away to third
parties. I can’t help you followin’ me.”

“I take you,” said Cleary.



CHAPTER XIII

PROBLEMS


The sun was nearly touching the horizon when he dropped into his boat
and rowed off.

“Look here!” said Ratcliffe. “Are you in earnest with that chap?”

“I sure am,” said Satan.

“Going to take him down to Lone Reef?”

“Yep.”

“But how about Carquinez? We had got to wait for him here till he gets
back from Havana with the dynamite.”

“Yes,” said Satan, “we’d got to wait here one week, or maybe ten days
allowin’ for weather--where was you born?”

“How?”

“Cark’s tried to sell me a pup, that’s how! He’s gone to no Havana:
he’s crackin’ on for the wreck with every stitch he can carry. Reckons
to bust her open and scoop the boodle while we’re layin’ here rubbin’
our noses and waitin’ for him. Mind you,” said Satan, “I may be wrong,
but that’s my ’pinion.”

“But he sailed off toward Havana.”

“Lord! Hasn’t he a rudder?”

“All the same, would it pay him?”

“How?”

“Well, if he played a dirty trick on you like that, wouldn’t he be
afraid you’d split?”

“Who to?”

“To the authorities at Cuba.”

“D’you remember Sellers talkin’ about landin’ the stuff,” asked Satan,
“sayin’ they’d have to take it round to Santiago way? They thought I
was drinkin’ all that in. If there were any dollars in the business,
d’you think they’d touch Cuba? Not they! They’d either cache the stuff
or run it to some likely port. I was laughin’ in my hat all the time.
Now you may think me a suspicious cuss. I’m not; but a feller has to
run by compass in this world or go off his course, and my compass in
this turnout is Cark. I say he’s gone down to Lone Reef and given me
the left leg over the business, and my compass is the fac’ that he
can’t run straight. Not if he tried to, he couldn’t run straight; nor
could Sellers nor Cleary. If them fellers were straight, I’d match
them and give them a fair deal. As it is, they’re like a lot of blind
bally-hoolies playin’ blindman’s buff, runnin’ round and round, with me
in the middle, tryin’ to kidoodle me and bein’ kidoodled themselves.
Forty dollars for them rotten pearls, and all sorts of fixin’s out of
Sellers--_and I haven’t done with them yet_!”

It had seemed to Ratcliffe, on board the _Juan_, that Carquinez was
the spider of the web of this business. It seemed to him now that the
spider was Satan.

He began to wonder was there any wreck at all, was the treasure
story a myth. The idea of these rogues being incited to dreams of
fortune so that they might be plundered of pots of paint and cans of
turpentine and a few dollars appealed to him immensely. He remembered
Thelusson and Skelton, he remembered Jude’s yarn about fruit steamers
being held up, he remembered Carquinez and Sellers, and he had just
seen Cleary; and of a sudden Satan’s ocean-wide activities appeared
before him in nightmare contrast with their microscopic results. Great
steamers stopped for a bunch of bananas, yachts lying idle to careen
the _Sarah_, ships sailing from Havana to hunt for buried treasure--but
in reality to supply the wandering _Sarah_ with cans of turpentine and
a few dollars! Was there any treasure, or was the whole thing a Tyler
fake invented by Pap and handed to his family as an heirloom? He could
not resist the question.

“That chart you showed us,” said he,--“is there anything really in it?”

Satan took him at once.

“The chart’s all right,” said he, “for them that can read it. If you
mean is it _genuine_, I reckon it is--for them that can read it.
We’ll see some day if I’m right or wrong; but, honest truth, I’m not
botherin’ much about it,--the chances are so big, as I told you before,
against treasure huntin’, and even if we strike it what’s the use of
barrels of gold to a feller like me? If you ask me, I’m botherin’ more
about the kid than huntin’ for money.”

“You mean?”

“Jude. Suppose I was to get a bash on the head from one of them cusses,
or drop to the smallpox, same as I pretended to Sellers, what’d become
of the kid?”

The sound of the “kid” frying fish for supper came mixed with the
question.

“I know,” said Ratcliffe, “that’s a problem that must often occur to
you, I should think.”

“You’ve seen the sort of crowd Havana’s made of,” went on Satan. “It’s
hard to tell which is worse, the Yanks or the Spaniards, and there’s
not a seaport that’s not the same, and when I think of me lyin’ dead
and her driftin’ loose, it gets my goat. It’d be different if she was a
boy.”

“Besides that,” said the other, “she can’t go on always as she is now.”

“How’d you mean?”

“Well, dressed as she is now. She’ll grow up.”

“Sure,” said Satan.

“She’ll have to dress differently some day.”

“Meanin’ skirts?”

“Yes.”

Satan laughed a hollow laugh. The idea seemed so futile that he did not
dwell upon it, or seemed not to.

“Have you any female relations yourself?” asked he.

“Lots,” replied Ratcliffe, calling up in memory his cousins and aunts,
females of the highest upper-middle-class respectability, and vaguely
wondering what they would think of Jude could they see her.

“The bother is,” said Satan, “she don’t take to women folk; always was
against them, and that Thelusson woman put the cap on the business,
kissin’ her and handin’ out slop talk. Well, I don’t know. I reckon
she’ll have to go on bein’ what she is till somethin’ happens; but it
would have been a lot handier if she’d been born a boy.”

He turned and went below.

The sun had sunk beyond Palm Island, and a violet dusk, forerunner of
the dark, was spreading through the sky. Over beyond the _Natchez_ the
sea for a moment became hard looking as a floor of beryl, then vague.

Ratcliffe, lingering for a moment watching this transformation scene,
found himself thinking of Jude and her problem. The Tylers had taken an
extraordinarily firm hold upon him. He knew them more intimately than
he knew his own relations, or fancied so. It seemed to him that he had
known them for years.

When this cruise was over and he packed up his traps and left them, he
would probably never see them again. Jude and Satan would go their way
and he would go his way--and what would happen to Jude? Suppose Satan
were to die, get knocked on the head or “fall to the smallpox”? The
thought hurt him almost as much as it hurt Satan; for Jude had, somehow
or another, captured his mind and touched his heart, and her youth and
absolute irresponsibility before the major facts of life had infected
him in the most extraordinary manner.

Over there on the island, engaged in the serious matter of provisioning
the _Sarah_, they had been carrying on like children. He had not
thought of it then; now, reflecting sanely, it rose before him together
with the rest of this strange cruise, and for a moment the whole
business seemed mad, absolutely mad. The supersane figure of Skelton
rose up before him, and beyond Skelton, Oxford, the calm, sane
English country, where the Tylers would have been impossible, the hard
bourgeois conventions of the upper-upper-middle classes, those uncles,
cousins, and aunts to whom Class was as holy as Sunday and to whom Jude
would be absolutely invisible as she was.

He was engaged in these reflections when a voice broke the stillness
of the evening, a half-tired, half-cantankerous voice, the voice of an
overworked housekeeper who had been frying fish while others have been
idling.

“_Ain’t_ you comin’ to help me?” inquired the voice.



CHAPTER XIV

HANTS AND OTHER THINGS


Down below, at supper, the injured housekeeper was still in evidence
and rose to a charge that the fish was overfried. Satan was the accuser.

The defendant, “het up” and flushed, replied in the language of the sea:

“Go’n fry your head! Clackin’ on deck and leavin’ me to do the
work--the pair of you! It’s all men’s good for.”

“Why, I thought you was a man!” said Satan. “You cut and carry on like
a man; scratch you and your tongue goes both ends like a woman. Start
you on a job, and you sit down to it before it’s half done. I saw you
lazin’ on the beach, and now look where we are,--there’s a sack of
stuff not brought off and how are we to bring it with Cleary messin’
round?”

“It wasn’t my fault,” said Jude. Then she checked herself and her eyes
met Ratcliffe’s.

“It was my fault,” said he. “I got tired.”

Jude looked at him. This defense of her, trifling though it was,
seemed to make a new relationship between them. It seemed to her that
Ratcliffe had suddenly become different. She could not tell what the
difference was or how it had come about in the least, or why she
half-resented his shielding her, even in this small matter; then her
eyes fell away and rested on the table before her.

“It wasn’t,” said she. “It was my fault I was foolin’ when I ought to
have been workin’, and now the stuff is lyin’ there--” She choked, and
then to the horror of Satan she pushed her plate away and broke into
tears, hiding her face on her folded arms. Then, before the astonished
ones could speak, she rose and dashed out of the cabin.

“Land’s sake!” cried Satan. “What ails her? Cryin’! She’s never done
that before--and all over that rotten sack--why, let it lay there, cuss
the thing!”

He went on with his supper in an irritable manner.

“She’s overtired, maybe,” said Ratcliffe. “Wait and I’ll fetch her
back.”

He left the cabin and came on deck.

The moon had not risen yet, and the riding light, which had been run up
before supper, showed yellow against the stars.

Not a sign of Jude.

He went forward. There she was, huddled up in the bows.

“Jude!”

The bundle sniffed.

“Come on down to supper. Satan’s not angry.”

“Who the”--sniff--“cares whether’es angry or not? You lea’ me alone!”

“But what are you crying about?”

“_Ain’t_ cryin’!”

“Well, what are you lying on the deck for?”

“’Cause I choose.”

“Come on down and help to clear the things away.”

“Clear them yourself!”

He bent down and tried to take her arm. She shook him off, rose
suddenly like a released spring, ran to the side where the dinghy was
moored, and got over the rail.

He looked over. She was in the boat unfastening the painter.

“Where on earth are you going?”

“Ashore.”

She pushed off.

Ratcliffe came down to the cabin.

“She’s gone ashore.”

“She’s gone for that sack,” said Satan unconcernedly. “Reckons to get
it off before moon rise, I expect.”

“But it’s too heavy for one.”

“She’ll do it. You’ve put her monkey up makin’ her confess it was her
fault. She’s never done that before in all her born life. She’s just
natural proud and she’d as soon cut her tongue out as give in she was
in the wrong. You’ve made her do more’n I’ve ever made her do, and how
you’ve done it--well, search me.

“You aren’t gettin’ on with your supper,” said Satan after a pause.

“Oh, I’ve had enough. I was wondering if she has her boots for going
through that bush stuff.”

“She’s got them all right. They were in the dinghy: she didn’t bring
them aboard. You’re worryin’ a lot about the kid.”

“Well, maybe. She’s the jolliest kid I ever struck, and I don’t want
any harm to come to her; the pluckiest, too. There’s not many people
would go off alone in the dark like that in a place like this.”

“Lord bless your soul!” said Satan. “That’s nothin’, no more than
walkin’ down the street to Jude. Do you think sailin’ these seas is all
fair-weather work? Why, we’ve been rubbin’ our noses in _des_truction
since she was born. She don’t know what fear is.”

“I could tell that from her face.”

“It’s her face that’s troublin’ me,” said Satan. “Pass me the water
pitcher, will you? She’s begun to take after mother. A few months ago
she was the homeliest little pup ever littered; but she’s beginnin’ to
pick up in looks, and if she takes after her mother’s side in looks and
ways--Lord save us!”

“Was your mother good looking?”

“Well,” said Satan, “I don’t know what you call good looks. Pap said
she was a nacheral calamity; that was after she’d bolted with the
Baptis’ man. It wasn’t the looks so much as the somethin’ about her
that’d make a blind man rubber after her if she passed him in the
street, that’s what Pap said. He never said no prayers, but when he was
talkin’ of Jude I’ve heard him say time and again, ‘Thank the Lord she
don’t take after her mother!’ and now it’s comin’ out, same as the ace
of spades a shark has hid up his sleeve--and what’s comin’ after, Lord
only knows.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, I scarce know myself, but Pap said those sort of women couldn’t
help bein’ nacheral calamities, attractin’ chaps and turnin’ the world
upside down. He said a man, once they’d got the clutch on him, was no
more use than a hypnotized fowl, whatever that is. You’ve heard what
Jude said about skirts--well, I’m thinkin’ that’s all baby talk, an’
it’s my ’pinion when she gets her nacheral sailing orders she’ll be
into skirts some day, same as a dude takes to water, and hypnotizing
chaps, same as her mother before her.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” said Ratcliffe; “but I don’t think she’ll be
a natural calamity. I think, from what I have seen of her, that she has
a fine character, honest as the day, good as gold.”

“Maybe,” said Satan; “but you never know what a woman is, seems to me,
till she’s been rubbed against a man. Those were Pap’s words and he’d
got a headpiece on him. Well, I reckon time will tell.”

They went on deck.

The moon had not risen yet, and the island lay like a humped shadow
in the starlight. To seaward the anchor light of the _Natchez_ showed
a yellow point, and from the beach came the lullaby of little waves
falling on the sand.

“Now if it wasn’t these days,” said Satan, “I’d be in two minds about
putting out straight now, rather than lyin’ all night by that feller
Cleary.”

“What do you mean by these days?”

“Well, in the old throat-cuttin’ days I reckon Cleary would have gone
through us, sunk the old _Sarah_, and taken me aboard his hooker with a
gun at my head to make me show him the way to the wreck; but things is
different now. Fellers are afraid of the law. Cark’s mortally afraid of
the law, so’s Cleary.”

“What time do you start tomorrow?”

“After sun-up, if the wind holds.”

“It will be a joke if we find Carquinez at the reef. What will he say,
do you think?”

“Cark? Oh, he’ll not mind. There ain’t no shame in Cark. He’ll have
broke his contrac’ by not goin’ to Havana, he’ll stand proved to the
eyes as a damn cheat. He won’t mind: the contrac’ not bein’ regular,
the law can’t have him.”

“I expect Cleary will go for him.”

“Maybe,” said Satan. “Then we’ll have some fun. There’s Jude.”

Something like a swimming water rat was breaking the star shimmer on
the sea. It was the dinghy.

Jude was sculling it from behind, noiselessly. It came alongside to
starboard like a ghost, and with it came Jude’s voice calling for the
tackle. Then the sack came aboard and after it Jude.

“Well, you’ve done it smart,” said Satan, “and no mistake. Now off down
with you and have your supper. We’ve got to start bright and early in
the morning.”

Jude said nothing. Her anger and irritability seemed to have departed.
She kicked off her boots, hitched up her trousers, and started down
below.

“She never keeps a grudge up,” said Satan.

Away in the middle of the night Ratcliffe was awakened by a stifled
scream, the voice of Satan promptly following.

“Wake up! What ails you?”

“For the Land’s sake, where am I?”

“In your hammock. What’re you dreamin’ of?”

“Gee-owsts.”

“Hants, you mean.”

“Black faces they had, and they was chasin’ me round and round them
trees.”

“That’s what comes of stuffin’ yourself and goin’ to bed on top of it.
Get off your back and onto your side. Wakin’ a body up like that! What
was they like?”

“The hants?”

“Yep.”

“I can’t be talkin’ for fear of wakin’ him up.”

“He’s asleep. I hear him snorin’. What was they like?”

“They’d black faces and tails like cows--an’ I’d rather not be talkin’
of them.”

“Wonder what it means dreamin’ of them things?”

“Nothin’ good--bad weather, most like.”

“Glass is steady.”

“Well, maybe we’ll bust on a reef or somethin’.”

“Oh, shet your head!”

“Shet yours. I’m wantin’ to get asleep.”

Silence.

Ratcliffe could hear the water outside tickling the ribs of the
old _Sarah_. A bigger swell was running, and she rose to it with
balloon-like buoyancy. A score of little voices from the trickle and
slap of the sea against the timbers to the click of the rudder chain
marked her movements.

The idea of the ghosts chasing Jude round the dream tree reminded him
of how he had chased her round the real tree and kissed her--kissed her
out of irritation.

Something in his half-asleep state told him he had been a fool to do
that. It was all done in play, just as a little boy might kiss a little
girl; but he was not a little boy. What had prompted him?

Then as he lay dissolving into slumber the groaning timbers of the
_Sarah_ said something that sounded like “nacheral calamity,” and then,
the door of sleep flung wide, he was walking on a blazing beach with
Cleary.

The _Natchez_ and the _Juan_ were at anchor out on the blue dream
sea, a great wreck was heaved up on the sands, and when they reached
it Cleary tapped on the timbers and said something about a “nacheral
calamity,” and at the words a porthole opened and Jude’s fresh young
face appeared laughing, framed by the timbers of the wreck.

It seemed to him the most delightful vision--then it popped in and the
porthole closed and Carquinez came riding up on a horse, saying he was
going to “bu’st” the wreck open with dynamite to get at the treasure.



CHAPTER XV

UNDER WAY


He was routed out before dawn by Satan. The cabin lamp was lit, the
table spread, and Jude was bringing in coffee. She seemed in a bad
temper, and as he huddled himself into his clothes he could hear her:

“Knockin’ myself about in the dark! That old slush lamp in the galley
don’t burn worth a cent. What you want haulin’ out this hour for?”

And to her Satan:

“Wind will be up with the sun--where’s them biscuits? We’ve got to get
the dinghy aboard yet, and all that raffle forward stowed, and it’ll be
light enough in another ten minutes.”

“Where’s Rat?”

“He’s comin’.”

He sat down to table opposite Jude. She scarcely gave him good morning.
The face that had looked so well framed by the porthole of the dream
ship was cross, almost sullen. He thought for a moment that her
ill-temper was directed toward Satan as well as himself; then, in some
subtle way, he knew it wasn’t. Early rising may have helped; but he was
the cause. What had he done? He could not think.

He remembered how she had acted when he had stood up for her the night
before. It was just the same this morning.

Satan said the coffee was burnt,--tasted like bud barley, and ought to
be slung in the slush tub. Ratcliffe stood up for the coffee, but was
cut short by Jude.

“I reckon it’s beastly,” said Jude; “but I haven’t more’n two hands
to be gettin’ the things on the table and the coffee boiled--and some
folks snoring in their bunks!”

“Shet up!” said Satan, ruffled at this wanton attack on the guest “And
talkin’ of snorin’, I reckon you can give any man points and beat him,
once you lay down to it Why, you shake the ship so that I’ve woke often
of nights thinkin’ we’d got adrift and was dudderin’ over sandbanks.”

“Lord love you for a liar!” was all Jude said. She refused help in
clearing away the things, joining them on deck a few minutes later,
just as day was coming into the eastern sky.

The problem of how to get the dinghy aboard had not occurred to
Ratcliffe till now. The _Sarah Tyler_ possessed no davits, and though
the old canvas boat was easy to handle as an umbrella, the sturdy
little dinghy was a different matter.

Standing in the half-dark with a faint wind bringing the smell of
the early morning sea, sharp as the smell of a new-drawn sword, he
questioned Satan on the subject.

“Get her aboard?” said Satan. “Oh, I’ll durn soon get her aboard.
Davits! God love you! what do you want them things for?”

“Except for hoistin’ fools off the ship?” said the voice of Jude from
the darkness. “_Air_ you goin’ to get a move on? You’ve got the old
awning to take in and stow. Maybe you’ve forgotten it.”

They got the awning down and stowed, and then, against a train of fire
crawling on the eastern sea-line and in a light that made the world
like the vestibule of Fairyland, Satan set to on the problem of the
dinghy. He had no doubt half a dozen dodges for the purpose. The one he
employed was simply to unshackle the main halyards and fix them to the
ring-bolt on the bow.

As they hauled on the tackle, and as if in answer to the creak of block
and shrill chantey started by Satan, the races of the gulls blazed
out. The deep-sea fishing gulls had long since started for sea; but
the shore gulls, as though waiting for a convoy to follow, were round
the stern of the _Sarah_. Then, the dinghy secured, the throat and
peak halyards were manned, and the mainsail rose slatting against the
splendor of the morning.

The sun was over the sea-line now, the wind rising to meet him, and
to starboard the fresh blue sea flooding against the wind showed the
_Natchez_, her canvas rising and the fellows swarming at the ropes.

Satan had unlashed the wheel and was standing by it, now that the
mainsail was set, shouting directions to his crew; and to Ratcliffe,
as he labored with Jude getting the foresail and jib on her, the truth
came in a flash that this was the real thing. The lazy peace of the
last couple of days had broken all at once. Activity, Adventure,
and Danger seemed suddenly to have boarded the old _Sarah Tyler_ and
delivered her as a prey to enormous and unknown forces.

He had never recognized till now the potential energy of canvas. The
mainsail seemed horribly vast, out of all proportion to the hull; the
slatting of the jib as they raised it spoke of an energy new born,
viewless, and seeming to have little relationship to the warm and
benign breeze.

But he had no time to think. The anchor was still to be had in, and
as he helped with Jude at the windlass--Pap’s patent that would have
raised a battleship--the threshing of the canvas with all sheets slack
and the voice of Satan came urging speed.

Then, when the old killick was aboard and the sails trimmed, came
Peace. With the wind on the starboard beam and the canvas hard against
the blue the _Sarah_ settled down to her work, Palm Island fading to
westward, and to sou’west the _Natchez_ with all sail set in pursuit.

Jude’s bad temper seemed to have blown away on the wind, the surly look
had gone from her face, and as she stood for a moment by Ratcliffe,
looking over the weather rail, her mind seemed entirely occupied by
Cleary.

“He’s blowing along,” said Jude; “but he’s feeling our pace. Not more
than holding his own--and he had the cheek to tell me once his old tub
could sail circles round the _Sarah_!”

Satan at the wheel cocked his eye over his shoulder at the _Natchez_,
spat, and refixed his gaze on the binnacle.

“Where’s your eyes?” asked Satan.

“In my head,” replied Jude. “What you gettin’ at?”

“He’s overhaulin’ us. Wonder he ain’t aboard! Time you was gettin’ that
anchor up and handlin’ the jib.”

Ratcliffe was about to share the blame when, remembering the incident
of the coffee, he checked himself and held his peace.

Satan was right. The _Natchez_ had the pace of the _Sarah_, at least
under present wind conditions and under plain sail. The two boats had
evidently never been matched before, and the gloom of the Tylers might
have been gaged by their silence. Satan did not want to run away from
Cleary; but he had promised him a “lead,” and this impudent display
of the better sailing qualities of the _Natchez_ was like a derisive
underscore to the promise.

Cleary, in this matter at least, was a very unwise man. He should have
checked the speed of his boat by mishandling her or even trailing a
drogher. Instead of that he held on, determined, evidently, to take the
shine out of the _Sarah_ and pour derision on the head of Satan.

Ratcliffe, little as he knew of boatcraft, felt the situation. Being
wise, he said nothing.

Suddenly Jude spoke.

“It’s her beams helping her. Try her on a wind and we’d knock flinders
out of her. Lord! to think of being beat by that old cod boat! Say,
cayn’t we do nothin’, crack on a balloon jib or somethin’?”

Satan laughed a mirthless laugh.

“S’much as to tell the cuss we’re beat. Don’t you think Cleary’s got no
balloon jibs up his sleeve? Hain’t you no sense?”

They held on, the _Natchez_ steadily overhauling them till she was dead
level half a mile away and drawing ahead.

Then, having demonstrated her superiority, she began to reduce sail so
as to give the _Sarah_ the lead.

Jude turned away and leaned with her back against the rail; then Satan
told her to take the wheel and went below for a “wash.”



CHAPTER XVI

THE STEERSMAN


Ratcliffe, taking his seat on the bottom of the dinghy, watched her as
she steered, the old panama on the back of her head and her eyes roving
from the binnacle to the luff of the mainsail. The following wind blew
warm, and the gentle creak of a block, the slash of the bow-wash, and
the occasional click of the rudder chain were the only sounds in all
the blue world ringing them.

A mile or more behind them the _Natchez_ showed, a triangle of pearl,
Palm Island had vanished, and nothing remained in all the wheel of sea
but a trace of smoke to the southward,--the smoke of some freighter
hull down on the horizon.

The sturdy little figure at the wheel seemed to have forgotten his
existence. He was wondering whether the grudge was still being kept up
against him, and what it was all about, and whether this indifference
was real or assumed, when a voice made him start:

“Say! Have you swallowed your tongue?”

“No, but I didn’t like to speak to you.”

“What for?”

“Well, I’ve heard you mustn’t speak to the man at the wheel.”

“Who stuffed you with that yarn?”

“Oh, I’ve seen it stuck up on steamboats, and besides I thought you
were in a temper with me.”

“Which way?”

“Well, you said davits were only good for hoisting fools off a ship.”

“So they are.”

“I thought you meant me.”

“Thought you was a fool, did you?”

“Then last night you got in a wax--Jude.”

“Yep.”

“Nothing--only--we don’t want to quarrel--and we haven’t been the same
since last night, somehow.”

“Which way?”

“Oh, I don’t know. You wouldn’t let me help to clear the things this
morning.”

“Wouldn’t I? Well, you can help to steer the ship now. Kin you steer?”

“Only a boat.”

“Well, it’s easy learnt, and you’re not much use aboard unless you can
take your hand at the wheel.”

He said nothing for a minute, admiring the way she had steered clear of
the subject he had started on.

“I don’t mind,” said he at last. “I’ll learn some time--you can teach
me.”

Jude let her eyes rest on him. Then suddenly, and with the vehemence
and force of a Methodist preacher driving home a point from the pulpit,
she spoke:

“_Air_ you stuck to the bottom of that dinghy with cobbler’s wax?”

He laughed and stood up.

“That’s right,” said Jude. “Now come’n take the wheel. Some time’s no
time! You’ve got to learn to handle her now if you want to. Go behind
me and look over my shoulder--that’s right.”

He stood behind her, wondering what the next command would be. It came
almost at once.

“Stick your eye on the compass card.”

“Right.”

“S’long as the pointer’s like that she’s on her course. Now I’ll let
her off a spoke or two--keep your eye on the card.”

The pointer altered its indication, and the mainsail seemed suddenly
attacked by the ague.

“Now she’s on her course again,” said Jude, altering the wheel. “Take
hold of her. I’ll stand by to give you a hand if you want it.”

He took the spokes she had been holding as she relinquished them, and
the first sensation that came to him was the feeling that he had taken
hold of something alive, something alive and sensitive as a hare.
The wheel seemed to have a motive power and will of its own, and the
infernal compass card to take affront at the least movement of the helm.

Jude rested her hand on his left hand to show him how and give him
confidence, and at the touch of her firm little hand the stage-fright
that comes to every steersman when he first takes the wheel left him.

In five minutes he had got the hang of the thing, or thought so.

“Can you run her alone?” asked Jude.

“Rather! It’s as simple as simple.”

“Right,” said Jude.

She drew off and took her seat on the dinghy.

“Easy, ain’t it?”

“Easy as pie.”

The wind freshened a bit, and the _Sarah_, heeling slightly, took
matters in her own hand for a moment and fell off her course. He put
the wheel over too much, and like a frightened horse she went plunging
away in the opposite direction, the wind spilling from her sails and
the main boom threatening to swing to port.

In a moment Jude was beside him, her hands on the spokes, and the
_Sarah_ on her course again.

A voice came from below, where Satan, like a sensitive plant, had
evidently felt the alteration in their course.

“What the ---- are you doin’ up there?”

“Learning Rat to steer,” cried Jude.

Ratcliffe, himself again, retaking the wheel, turned to her.

“For God’s sake,” said he, “don’t call me that!”

“Which?”

“Rat.”

“For the land’s sake what’s the matter with it?”

“It’s a beastly name. If you want something short, call me what
everyone else calls me.”

“What’s that?”

“Bobby.”

“You’re lettin’ her off again,” said Jude. “Starboard--that’s it. Here’s
Satan: he’ll go on learnin’ you. I’m goin’ below for a wash.”



PART II



CHAPTER XVII

LONE REEF


It was the morning of the third day out, somewhere about four o’clock.
The moon had set, and the _Sarah_ was lifting against a gentle head
sea, boosting the foam from her bows under the light of a million stars.

Satan was at the wheel, Jude below in her hammock, and Ratcliffe at
the weather rail, close to Satan. He was leaning over watching the
water,--gouts and lines of star-shot foam, planes of ebony blackness,
and now and then, deep down, the bloom of phosphorus like the life in
the heart of a black opal.

“What time do you reckon we’ll strike the reef?” asked Ratcliffe.

“We’re right on to it now,” replied Satan, “and if it wasn’t more’n a
five-knot breeze I’d heave her to.”

“You aren’t afraid of running on it?”

“Lord, no! There’s no smell of it yet.”

“You mean to say you could smell it?”

“Waal,” said Satan, “I don’t know if it’s rightly smell or hearin’ or
what, but I’d know it, even with the wind as she is. I reckon it’s
maybe the water. Shoal water smells different from deep, and it’s shoal
water right up from four miles to Lone. Feels different too.”

“How do you mean?”

“More choppy--I dunno--different. Jude would tell you the same. Pap had
the sense of it too. Western ocean folks can smell ice miles off when
the bergs are cruisin’ about. I reckon it’s the same thing-- There’s
the sun.”

Right ahead, as if touched by a wizard, the stars had faded above
the sea line, the sky over there looked sick, a stain on the velvety
splendor of the night.

A great gull passed the _Sarah_, flying topmast high, and now far
off and as though coming through a pinhole could be heard a creaky
lamentable sound,--the crying of gulls.

“I’ve got the smell of her now,” said Satan. “Them gulls you’re hearin’
aren’t all of them from Lone. There’s a big spit to east’ard, and
they’ll be comin’ up against the wind. Say, will you take a bet?”

“What sort?”

“I’ll bet you even dollars Cleary hasn’t held on same as we’ve done the
last six hours. He was droppin’ astern a long way last time I sighted
him. He’ll have seen the reef on the chart right ahead of him, and his
navigation is no account: hasn’t no sea sense. He’ll be hove to singin’
‘Lead, kindly light’ and listenin’ for the breakers--What you say?”

“I’d rather bet on the _Sarah_.”

“Maybe you’re right,” said Satan.

The head sails showed hard now against the east, and almost before
one could turn and look again the blaze had come above a band of
opal-tinted mist which passed and vanished, leaving on the horizon a
train of fire pale as guinea gold.

In that moment, far ahead and as if suddenly sketched by a pencil
against the eastern light, they saw the naked spars of a vessel
anchored in the dawn.

“That’s Cark,” said Satan. “Told you we’d find him here--damn swab!”

“Well, I couldn’t have believed it,” said Ratcliffe. He remembered the
sailing of the _Juan_, presumably for Havana, and though he had sized
up Sellers and Carquinez for what they were worth, still, the evidence
of their duplicity, here before his eyes, came as a shock.

In a moment it was blotted out by the sun, washed away in the blazing,
seething ocean of light that sprang on them as if to the blast of a
trumpet.

Satan swung his head over his shoulders. Ratcliffe followed his gaze.
The sea to westward was empty, not a sign of a sail.

“Cleary’s gone,” said Ratcliffe.

“Oh, he’ll be nosin’ along soon,” said Satan. “He’s sure to come close
enough to see Cark’s topmasts, and then he’ll pounce.”

He put the helm over, and the _Sarah_ payed off to the north so as to
round the northern spur of the reef.

“That’s the wreck,” said Satan, “that line like a lump of rock.”

Ratcliffe, shading his eyes, could now see the reef, long and
foam-flecked, stretching from north to south, the line of rock
absolutely unsuggestive of a wreck, beyond the reef the _Juan’s_ masts
and spars, and about the reef-spurs the gulls flitting and wheeling;
but, despite the movement of the gulls and the splendor of the morning,
the place struck him as the most desolate he had ever seen.

“Nothing stirring,” said Satan, as they rounded the north spur and the
boom came over. “Them lowsy Spaniards are all in their bunks. Rap on
the deck for Jude. Hi, Jude, y’lazy dog, show a leg! What you doin’!”

“Comin’,” cried a voice, followed by the sounds of thrashing about and
inquiries of the Lord to know where her clothes were.

Then at the hatch appeared a face blind with sleep. She ran with
Ratcliffe to get the lashings off the anchor, helped to let go the
halyards, and as the anchor fell and the _Sarah_ swung to her moorings
a couple of cable lengths from and outside the _Juan_, down she sat on
the deck like a person collapsing under a heavy load.

The sight of the _Juan_ did not seem to move her at all. Like a
dormouse suddenly electrified into life and movement, the stimulus
withdrawn, the mechanism ceased to act. She yawned, turned on her side,
and hid her face in the crook of her arm as if to shut out the sun.
Satan, whistling between his teeth, stood with his hands on the rail
looking at the _Juan_.

“They’re wakin’ up,” said he.

A fellow with a red handkerchief round his head had appeared on deck.
He came and looked over the side at the _Sarah_, then vanished.

“Gone to wake Cark out of his beauty sleep,” said Satan. “Look! There’s
two more of them movin’ about like sick flies. Will you look at the
way they’ve stowed them sails?--and they’ve got her a sight too close
to the reef. Get a Western Ocean sea suddenly runnin’ and the anchor to
drag, where’d they be?”

He turned and contemplated the prostrate figure of Jude.

“There’s another sleepin’ beauty,” said he. “Ought a be married to
Cark. Well they’d look in the same hammock with Sellers fannin’ the
flies off them!”

The figure on the deck turned on its back, stretched out its arms,
yawned, and then sat up holding its knees.

Youth may sneer at Age; but, anyhow, Age knows nothing of the weariness
of Youth, of a morning.

Satan, satisfied with the semi-resurrection, dropped below, and
promptly the figure fell on its back again with arms outspread.

“Get up!” said Ratcliffe.

“I’m getting-- Say!”

“Yes.”

“I--ow--yow--ain’t it awful bein’ tired?”

“You’ll be all right when you’re on your feet. Get up!”

“I’m getting-- Say, d’you know where the fishing lines are? Starboard
locker. Fetch’m up, an’ that chunk of grouper I kep’ for bait--in the
tub.”

“Right.”

When he returned on deck she was drying her head in the sun, having
soused it in a bucket of water.

Then they dropped a line.

Away through the diamond-clear water, thirty feet down, they could see
the slack of the anchor chain like a conger on the coral and sponge.

A nurse shark passed like a grisly ghost, then a shoal of sardines,
then a young whip ray not bigger than a soup plate, then a mangrove
schnapper that nosed the bait, swallowed it, and was hauled on board.

“He’ll be enough,” said Jude. “You clean him while I get the frying pan
ready. Hullo! blest if Cark’s not putting off a boat!”

A boat had been dropped on the starboard side of the _Juan_ and was
rounding her stern.

“That’s Sellers,” said Jude, shading her eyes. “Satan! Below there!”

“Hullo!”

“Sellers is coming off.”

“I’ll be up in a minute.”

The boat came alongside, just as it had come at Palm Island,--same
boat, same crew, Sellers just the same.

“Hullo, Kid!” cried Sellers.

“Hullo yourself! Thought you was gone to Havana.”

“Thought you was to wait for us at Pa’m Island,” said Sellers. “Hullo,
Satan, that you? How about your contrac’ with us?”

Satan, who had just come on deck, leaned over the rail and contemplated
Sellers. Then he spoke.

“God A’mighty!” said Satan. He stared at Sellers for a moment as one
might stare at a prodigy. Then he broke out:

“Contrac’! Holy George! _What_ you say, contrac’? You daar to hook
onto my channel plates, and I’ll buzz this fish at y’r head! Shove off!
What are you doin’ here, anyway? Why aren’t you at Havana gettin’ the
dynamite?”

“Why ain’t you waitin’ for us at Pa’m Island?” logically responded
Sellers. “If you want to know why we’re here. I’ll tell you. It was a
bet I had with Cark.”

“Which way?”

“I bet him you’d never wait for us at Pa’m Island, but’d light out for
here to raise the stuff if we went foolin’ off to Havana. Seems I was
right, don’t it?”

The impudence of this made Ratcliffe gasp, but left Satan quite unmoved.

“S’pose we quit lyin’,” said he.

“I’m willin’ to follow soot,” replied Sellers.

“Well, then,” said Satan, “follow soot off to the wreck an’ get your
workin’ party onto the business like hot nails. I’ll be over to help
you soon’s we’ve had breakfast. You’ve no time to waste.”

“How’s that?”

“Cleary’s after you.”

This news seemed to take the wind out of Sellers. He sat for a moment
without speaking.

“How do you know that?” asked he at length.

“He put into Palm Island not more’n four hours after you’d gone; said
you and Cark had tricked him and he was after your blood. I told him
that wasn’t no concern of mine. He asked me had I seen you.”

“What did you say?”

“The truth. Think I’d perjure me soul lyin’ for the likes of you and
Cark? Told him I was goin’ to join you.”

“_Sufferin’_ Moses! You’ve put your hoof in it this time! Go on and
don’t stand waggin’ your tail! What’d he say?”

“Nothin’, didn’t say nothin’, but when I put out he put out after me.”

“Followed you?”

“Yep. I only lost him last night; but it’s ten to one he’ll drop on us.
He’ll be bustin’ everywhere round here.”

“He will,” said Sellers, “and then it’s half shares he’ll be wantin’,
not to mention Cark’s liver. I’m sweatin’! Cark’s let that chap down
cruel. I owns it. Did it against my advice. Did he have many with him?”

“Reckon so. The old _Natchez_ was full as a beehive with the
toughest-lookin’ crowd.”

The sight of Sellers’ face at this announcement set Jude off. She
seized the fish and started off to the galley with it, while Sellers,
having communed with himself for a moment, spoke:

“Crooked’s a bad course to run,” said this moralist. “I’ve always told
Cark so. I told you we’d no dynamite aboard,--neither we had,--but
there’s a keg of powder in the hold, and Cark reckoned to sample the
goods without your help. There, it’s out! You’d have had your share
as long as I’d a leg to stand on, honest you would, s’far as I was
concerned, and that’s all I have to say pers’nally on the matter. What
I’m gettin’ at is this: If Cleary turns up, there’ll be hell of a
rough-house. Will you stand for us if there’s fightin’ to be done?”

“That depends,” said Satan.

“Which way?”

“I’m not trustin’ you no more, not without the coin in my hand. Cark’s
got to plank down something on account, if it’s no more’n a thousand
dollars. If he don’t, I’ll put out for Havana and blow the gaff. You’ve
overhauled the wreck?”

“Yep.”

“Well, you can judge what the chances are. You hop back lively as a
flea and tell Cark what I’m sayin’. Gold coin and right into my fist
this mornin’, or I’ll give the show away. It’s his own doin’. If he’d
played straight with me, I’d have trusted him. Seein’ he’s played
crooked, he’ll have to pay. One thousand dollars, or I go back to
Havana and you’ll have a t’pedoboat on top of you, to say nothin’ of
Cleary!”

“I’ll tell him,” said Sellers. “Come over to the reef soon as you’re
ready and I’ll give you word of what he says. I reckon it’ll be all
right. One thousand dollars?”

“Gold coin, and tell him it’ll be double after eleven o’clock.”

“Oh, he won’t kick,” said Sellers.

The boat shoved away.

Ratcliffe remembered what Satan had said about the chart and the hidden
writing in it and the high probability that the bones of the _Nombre
de Dios_ were lying elsewhere than here. More than ever did it seem to
him that Satan was the spider of this web,--not a malignant spider,
for the flies he was catching in the form of Carquinez and Sellers,
and possibly Cleary, were the weavers of the web, in which they seemed
tangling themselves. Satan only fell in with circumstance and took toll.

“Look here!” said he. “Suppose Carquinez pays you a thousand dollars’
advance, and suppose you don’t find any treasure, will you pay him
back?”

“Why should I pay him back?” asked Satan. “I’ve given him the location,
and that’s worth a thousand anyway.”

“But you said there was nothing on the chart, that it was a fake.”

“Lord! I said no such thing. I said that in my ’pinion the stuff wasn’t
here; but I may be wrong. There’s Jude hollering for us to come to
breakfast. Come along down and I’ll show you my meanin’.”

He scarcely spoke during the meal, and when it was over he took the
tobacco box from his pocket and opened the chart on the table.

“Now,” said Satan, “I’ll show you what I mean by sayin’ the stuff may
be here, but it’s a big sight larger maybe it isn’t. Don’t crowd me.
Stand behind me on either side and keep your eyes on the chart. Well,
now, there’s Lone Reef with the creek marked and the name of her, and
there’s Rum Cay to the left, and there’s the latitude and longitude
wrote up--all plain, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Well, seein’ Rum Cay is given, and seein’ Lone Reef is down on all
the charts and as well known as Cuba to any sailor man, what did the
man want stickin’ the latitude and longitude down for? The chart’s
not a sailin’ chart. A blind monkey wouldn’t use it nor bother about
examinin’ the latitude and longitude wrote on it. He’d just say, ‘Lone
Reef is the place I want to get to,’ and he’d get there with the
ordinary ship’s chart.”

“Yes.”

“Well,” said Satan, “in my opinion the chap that sank the _Nombre de
Dios_ knew of the old wreck lyin’ over there on Lone Reef and used it
as a blind, for the latitude and longitude wrote there so faint that
no man would bother to try to read it isn’t the latitude and longitude
of Lone Reef; it’s a hundred and ten mile out. It’s the latitude and
longitude of Cormorant Cay, a blasted sandbank down to s’uthard, all
shoals and gulls, and that’s where the _Nombre de Dios_ lies, in my
’pinion.”

Ratcliffe whistled.

“Of course I may be wrong,” said Satan, “there’s no knowin’.”

“I see what you mean,” said Ratcliffe. “This chap reckoned that anyone
finding or stealing the chart would take the latitude and longitude
written there for granted as the latitude and longitude of Lone Reef,
and not bother to examine the figures and verify them; having no cause,
indeed, to do so, seeing Lone Reef is so well known and on all the
charts.”

“That’s how it seems to me,” said Satan. “I’m not sayin’ I’m right, but
that’s how it seems to me, and if he figured that no one would trouble
about readin’ and verifyin’ the latitude and longitude as given there
he was right. Pap didn’t, and it was only by chance I did, a month
ago.”

“Have you seen Cormorant Cay?”

“Lord, yes! It’s a lagoon sandspit, and the hooker may be in the lagoon
for all I know, or under the sand for all I know, or I may be wrong all
through and that may be her on the reef over there. Well, we’ve got to
see; but it seems to me I’m pretty safe anyway, if I can touch Cark for
that thousand.”

So thought Ratcliffe.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE WRECK


After breakfast, leaving Jude to keep ship, they got the dinghy
overboard and rowed for the reef. Here to eastward the landing was made
easy by a scrap of beach a hundred yards long, where the boat of the
_Natchez_ was lying, having landed Sellers and his working party.

Satan, scrambling, led the way over the rocks to the central creek
between the two reef arms, where, ponded round with water, lay the
wreck.

The reef, seen from the deck of the _Sarah_, showed little sign of a
wreck. One had to land on it to discover that the long hogback of rock
rising from the creek had structure. There was not even the indication
of where a mast had been, bowsprit there was none, stem and stern were
almost indistinguishable; yet, standing there, with the gulls flying
round him and the lonely tune of the sea in his ears, Ratcliffe knew
that the thing he was gazing upon was a ship. Structure speaks! You can
destroy it, but can scarcely disguise it.

Between the right arm of the reef and the starboard bow of the hulk a
ridge of rock gave access to the deck, and as the others crossed over
he took his seat to rest for a moment and contemplate the thing before
him.

To see the Sphinx properly, one should visit it alone, and so with the
great wreck of the _Nombre de Dios_,--if that were its name,--crouching
here, camouflaged with rock-growth and weed, swollen, sinister in the
blazing sunlight, and sung to by the chime and gurgle of the sea.

Sunk in shallow water,--so the tale ran,--raised by that alteration in
level constantly in progress among the reefs and islands, freighted
with treasure, and guilty of the death of many a man--well, the tale
here rang true. On board the _Sarah_ one might doubt, but here, even in
face of that chart which seemed faked, one believed,--mainly, perhaps,
because one wanted to believe.

Here, sitting on the reef, one became part of the story, just as when
the lights of the theater are lowered one becomes part of the play.
The flower-blue sky, the sapphire sea, the tepid wind, the shouting
gulls, all became confederates. One saw, in the far past, the _Nombre
de Dios_ setting sail,--the tragic figure of Lopez on her quarterdeck;
the sinking of her in shallow, reef-strewn water; the escape in the
boats; men dying of starvation; the lapse of years; Lopez dying with
her secret still hidden; and Lone Reef rising still higher out of the
sea to expose more fully the murdered ship.

The reef had always been here, for it was down in the oldest charts.
Had it really risen? Was that chart, as Satan supposed, a lie?

According to Sellers’ story, the _Nombre de Dios_ had been sunk in
six-fathom water, thirty-six-foot. Well, if that was so, Satan was
right, for the highest point of the reef was only six feet above water,
and when she was sunk the reef would have been thirty feet under water
and so uncharted.

There was the chance that Lopez might have sailed her into the creek,
deeper in those days, and that the creek bottom might have raised
itself to its present level, the reef remaining the same. This seemed
unlikely.

And yet the decks must have been under water once, to account for the
old coral deposits.

It was low tide in the creek now: high-tide mark was six feet below the
deck level. He tried to calculate how far she must have been lifted,
gave up the attempt, and, rising, crossed by the rock bridge to her
deck.

This bridge of rock was another factor in the insoluble problem. It
seemed placed there by some marine architect without reason, built up
out of huge fragments as if from some fallen peak or spire.

“Step careful!” shouted Satan.

The warning came just in time, for the deck was slippery as ice in
patches where a thin moss had grown,--a gray, greasy moss, treacherous
as Death, and covering the droppings of innumerable sea birds.

He made his way aft, where Sellers was standing with Satan and the
half-dozen Spaniards that formed the working party. Drills and picks
lay about, and marks showed where work had been started the day before.

“It’s a foot thick,” said Sellers, “whatever it is, and harder than
cement. Rock!--this ain’t coral rock, not such as I’ve ever seen.
Harveyized steel’s more like it, and after that there’s the deck
planking to be got through.”

“Well,” said Satan, “I told you it was a dynamite job, and if you’d
played fair and got the stuff we’d have been a long sight nearer the
end of the business, even if we started a week later. But there’s no
use in talkin’ now, and there’s no use in messin’ about pickin’ holes
here and there. Your job is to make a hole big enough to sink that
barrel of powder of yours--take me? Sink it half deep and then lay a
fuse and fire the whole lot at once and risk chances. It’s ten to one
you’ll split the deck right open at one go. As for sinkin’ little holes
and usin’ small charges, you’ll be ten years on the job.”

Sellers rose up and wiped his brow and cast his eyes over the sea to
westward, evidently with Cleary in his mind.

“Well, I’m not sure you aren’t right,” said he. “I’ll fix it that way;
but it’ll be a long job with the tools we have.”

“Maybe,” said Satan. “And now to the question of them dollars.”

“Oh, them--I’ve spoke to Cark, and he’s agreeable.”

“Oh, is he? Well, then. I’ll go right aboard with you now while he’s
warm and get them dollars into my hand. Set your men at work and you
come along with me.”

Sellers hung fire for a moment, then he agreed, gave the working party
their directions, and led the way off the deck across the rock bridge.

He pushed off with Satan in the boat of the _Juan_. Satan asked
Ratcliffe to take the dinghy back to the _Sarah_.

“You won’t want to be hangin’ about the reef,” said Satan; “you’ll be
more comfortable aboard ship. And tell Jude to be sure and wash that
old jumper I left on the rail. She’s forgot it, for there it’s hangin’
still.”

“Right,” said Ratcliffe.



CHAPTER XIX

MUTINY


As he sculled up alongside the _Sarah_ there was no sign of Jude. He
tied up the boat and came over the rail.

“Jude, where are you?”

“What you want?” came a surly voice from below. She was in the
“saloon,” for he could hear her moving about.

“You.”

“Well, you kin go on wantin’. I’m sick!”

“What on earth’s the matter with you?”

Pause--then the voice came again mixed with sounds as of plates being
put away.

“I’m sick of the hull of this crowd--washing up and cooking and you two
playin’ about!”

“Come up on deck.”

“Sha’n’t! I’m going to scatter--soon’s I’ve finished clearing away.
Life of a dog!” indistinct grumbles tailing away into silence.

He lit a pipe and waited.

Presently the companionway creaked and a head appeared at the cabin
hatch. He said nothing while the whole body emerged, stood erect on the
deck, and shaded its eyes toward the _Juan_. Then, still speechless,
it leaned on the rail, looking toward the reef and apparently lost in
thought.

The sleeves of the guernsey were rolled up to mid-arm, ill temper
seemed to have vanished and to have been replaced by sudden laziness,
and as she lolled, kicking up a bare heel, she whistled.

She seemed utterly unconscious of his presence--or pretending to be.
Then her eyes fell to the water alongside and the dinghy. The whistling
ceased and her face turned to him.

“Say,” said Jude, “where did you learn to tie up boats?”

He came beside her.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing at present, but give her half an hour and she’d work herself
free of that tom-fool knot.”

“I’ll go down and retie it.”

“No use in troubling, I’m going off in her in a minute, and she’ll hang
there till I’m ready.”

“Where are you going?”

“Never _you_ mind! You’ve been playing about on the reef, and you’ve
got to stick here now and boil the potatoes! Me alone here all the
morning!”

“Why, I wasn’t more than an hour on the reef--and I never knew you
wanted to go. If I had, I shouldn’t have gone, honestly I shouldn’t.”

Jude contemplated him a moment with a more friendly face.

“Well,” said she, “I’m going, anyhow.”

“But where to?”

“Gulls-nesting.”

“On the reef?”

“Lord, no! To the spit away there to east’ard. You can’t see it: it’s
near seven mile away.”

“But you can’t row there alone.”

“Can’t I? You bet I can, there and back by sundown!”

“But what will Satan say?”

Jude laughed. “He’ll be wild--that’s what I want to make him. I’ll
learn him! Him and his jumpers!”

She took the jumper off the rail, rolled it up and threw it on the
deck, then she dived below and reappeared with a water jar and some
provisions done up in a bundle. She had evidently been making her
preparations.

“Look here!” said Ratcliffe. “If you’re going, I’ll go too.”

“No, you won’t!” said Jude. “You’ve got to stick here and look after
the ship--and see how you like it.”

“Not I--I couldn’t face Satan; besides, if you want to make him wild
really, hell be twice as wild if we both go; besides, I’m sick of the
ship. Come on: I’ve never been gulls-nesting.”

Jude, evidently weakening, put down her bundle.

“Well, there ain’t enough grub for two,” she complained. “I reckon
there’s enough water, though.”

“Well, get some more grub.”

She cast her eyes about in indecision, now at Ratcliffe, now at the
_Juan_, then, with one of those sudden changes so indicative of her,
she made up her mind and dived below.

Five minutes later she reappeared with another small bundle.

Ratcliffe, during her absence, had torn the back off an old letter. He
had a pencil in his pocket, and, scrawling “gone gulls-nesting on the
sandspit” on the paper, stuck the missive to the mast with his penknife.

Then, bundling the food and the water jar into the dinghy, they started.

He took the sculls at first, Jude steering, her eyes fixed ahead under
the shade of her old panama. She could tell exactly the spot where
the spit lay. She could not see it, but she could see in the sky now
and then over there a faint trace like a haze of smoke that formed,
vanished and reformed,--gulls.

Occasionally she looked back where the deserted _Sarah Tyler_ lay,
with the _Juan_ seeming now close beside her and the reef behind them.
Smaller and smaller they grew and more vast the ocean, an infinity of
blazing lazulite, without horizon, silent, but sonorous with light.

The current was with them.

Satan had made a small mast and lug sail for the dinghy. That was the
job he had been engaged on while Jude and Ratcliffe had landed on Palm
Island to get provisions from the cache. He had worked with all the
care of a fond mother making a garment for a beloved child. The little
mast, scraped and varnished, the sail made of an extra special bit of
stuff wheedled from Thelusson, were in the boat, and, a breeze now
springing up from the sou’west, Jude gave orders to step the mast. Then
she took the sheet, he slipped from his seat to the bottom of the boat,
and the dinghy, bending to the three-knot breeze, lifted to the gentle
swell.

A great herring hog passed them, plunging like a dolphin, and a
flying fish with blind, staring eyes missed the sail by a hand’s
breadth and flickered into the sea ahead; then a strange-looking gull
swooped toward them from nowhere, hung for a moment with domed wings,
honey-colored against the sun, and passed with a cry into the great
silence, a silence broken only by the slap and tinkle of the water
against the planking.

Ratcliffe lit his pipe. Jude, steering, seemed to have forgotten her
last trace of grudge against him, forgotten Satan and the jumper and
the fact that she had been left to her lonesome while they had been
playing on the reef and her desire to cut the whole show and start a
“la’ndry.” She seemed just now a different person, companionable and
friendly and sane, as though the cooking and cleaning and the worries
and troubles of the _Sarah_ had been lifted like a dish-cover from her
prisoned soul.

It was the first time they had been really alone together, and the
companionship that springs from loneliness helped.

The gull reminded her of gulls she had seen on the Louisiana coast
where the cypress swamps come down to meet the sea and you could hear
“the bullfrogs shoutin’ all night, ‘Paddy got drunk, Paddy got drunk,
Paddy got drunk,’ and the other chaps answering up, ‘Bottle of rum,
bottle of rum, bottle of rum,’ and the ’gaters would come alongside
grinding against the planking sniffing for bits--ever seen a ’gater?”

“Only stuffed.”

“Which way?”

“Oh, in museums and places.”

“What’s them?” asked Jude.

“Oh, places where they keep stuffed birds and animals.”

“Git a bit more to sta’board to trim the boat; _sta_’board I said, not
port! And what in the nation do they want keeping them things for?”

“Jude,” said he lazily.

“What?”

“This is the jolliest time I ever spent. I’ve never felt free before
till just now. I’d like to go sailing round and round the world in this
little dinghy and forget civilization. That’s the place where they keep
stuffed birds to look at, and stuffed animals in museums, and where the
men and women are stuffed idiots. Do you remember the morning I came on
board the _Sarah_ first?”

“Them pajamas!”

“Yes, them pajamas. Only for them you wouldn’t have laughed at me, and
if you hadn’t laughed at me I shouldn’t have come aboard, perhaps.”

“Oh, yes, you would.”

“Why?”

“Satan wanted you.”

“Oh, did he? Bless Satan!--he made me young again.”

“Lord! you ain’t so old as all that.”

“I’m over twenty-one--and you’re only--”

“Raisin’ sixteen,” said Jude, with steady eyes fixed ahead where the
gulls above the spit were now well visible.

He refilled and lit his pipe, bending under the gunnel.

“You’re mighty fond of that old pipe,” said Jude.

“Have a whiff?”

“Not me! I had half a cigar once; Dirk Peterson dared me. It was one
of them wheelings, black, slick-lookin’ cigars. He and me an’ anuther
boy’d gone to look at the nigger girls bathin’ and clod them--”

“Where on earth was that?”

“Vera Cruz.”

“Oh, and who was Dirk Peterson?”

“Son of an old feller that run a dridger in the harbor, Yankee,
half-Dutch, hadn’t only one eye, and wasn’t more’n eleven, biggest liar
from here to C’necticut. His face was all chawed up, and he said he’d
got it like that and lost his eye fightin’ with a tiger. Confl’ent
smallpox was what had done him, so Pap said; but the boys believed him
till that day I was telling you of, he fetched out a half cigar he’d
stole or picked up somewhere and a box of waxios and dared me smoke
her--and I lit her up, like a durned fool!”

“What happened then?”

“Oh, lots of things,” said Jude. “First of all the harbor begun
spinnin’, and then it went on till two tides more I’d have been inside
out, when Dirk shouts to some chaps to come an’ look at Jonah tryin’ to
bring up the whale. That got my goat, and I laid for him by the foot
and brought him down and near beat the head off him. Then I got sick on
him again, and he run home to his mother, with all the fellers after
him wantin’ to know about that tiger.”

“He couldn’t fight?”

“N’more than a jewfish.”

“Have you had many fights with boys?”

“Not me--not with Satan handy to do the fighting. I’d only to say to
one, ‘You touch me and I’ll put Satan on you,’ and he’d shrivel.”

“Well, I shouldn’t care to tackle Satan myself,” admitted Ratcliffe.
“And Sellers seemed to think a lot of him that way, for I heard him
asking if he’d stand by if Cleary showed fight.”

“Garn!” said Jude. “Cleary--he’s no good; Sellers is no good, neither.
There’s not a man in these seas nowadays that’s got the fight of a
tomcat in him. That’s what Pap used to say. He was great on old times,
and used to string off yarns about the pirates and the high doin’s
there used to be, and he said we were nothing but a lot of scowbankers
now--and that’s the truth! If Cleary comes up with Cark, they’ll be
shaking hands and kissing one another, feeling in each other’s pockets
all the time to see if they can’t steal five cents. In the old days
they’d have been cutting each other’s throats.”

“Would you like to be a pirate, Jude?”

“You bet!”

“Murdering people?”

“Oh, ask me another.”

“How’d you like to kiss Cark?”

“How’d you? Hear the gulls!”

The crying of the gulls above the spit was coming up against the wind,
a lamentable sound across the lone blue sea.

“We’re not more’n a mile away,” said the steersman. “You can get a
sight of the spit if you raise yourself. That’s it, the white line
runnin’ north and south; but the gulls don’t seem to be as many as they
used to be a year ago. It’s a bit early for the full laying season, but
there’s sure to be turkles’ eggs. Better get your shoes and stockin’s
off and roll up your pants, for it’s shallow beaching and we’ll have to
run her up.”

“Won’t you take down the sail and row her in?”

“Not me. There’s no sea on and I’ll run her up as she is.”

They held on, the gulls shouting over them now, and the sigh of the
sandspit, fuming to the lazy sea, in their ears. It was full tide, and
as the keel touched the sand, letting the sheet go and the sail to flog
in the wind, they tumbled over and dragged the little boat high and dry.

Then Jude took down the sail.

“You aren’t hungry yet?” said Jude.

“No; are you?”

“Well, I can wait. Well leave the grub and the water jar in the boat
and cover them with the sail,--keep the sun off. Lend’s a hand.”

They covered the provisions, hauled the boat up another foot or two to
make sure, and, that done, Ratcliffe looked around him.



CHAPTER XX

THE SANDSPIT


That was one of the strangest moments in his life. He had never seen
anything comparable to this long white street of sand curbed with
emerald waves, leading nowhere, lost, useless, desolate, brilliant with
a brilliance that hit the heart as well as the eye, flown over by the
white gulls.

The sands fizzed to the sea wind, and away to north and south they
trembled and waved in the heat; but the curious thing was the fact
that, despite their loneliness, one did not feel alone. The place
seemed populous, filled with a crowd that for a moment had made itself
invisible. Perhaps it was the riot of color and the brilliance of
light: the effect remained.

Jude, looking round, seemed preoccupied about something. It was the
absence of gulls.

“Last time I was here,” said Jude, “it was all over gulls’ nests, right
here in the middle. Now they seem to have gone off to the ends. Wonder
what’s come to them?”

“Maybe it’s too early for them.”

“It’s a bit early, but not much: there’s always early breeders. No,
they’ve just took their hook--gulls are like that. We’ll have to go
and hunt at the ends. You go north and I’ll go south.”

“Well,” said he, “it’s an awfully long way. Suppose we have something
to eat first?”

“I don’t mind,” said Jude.

They got the provisions and water jar from the boat and sat down on the
sands. It was past noon and cooler, for the breeze had livened up, the
outgoing tide was leaving a strip of wet sand glittering like a golden
sword, and the fume of beach filled the air resonant with the gentle
rhythm of the waves.

They ate, leaning on their sides like old Athenians. They had no cup;
so they took it in turns to drink from the water jar. Then he lit a
pipe.

“This is jolly,” said he.

“Ain’t bad,” said Jude.

She made a pillow of sand for her head, and then, on her back with her
head on the pillow, lay like a starfish, spread-eagled, her hat over
her eyes.

He followed suit.

“How about those gulls’ nests?” he asked.

“Which ones?” evaded Jude.

“The ones you were going to hunt for?”

“Oh, them? Well, I reckon there’s dead loads of time.”

“Lots--listen to the sand!”

“It’s the wind blowing it.”

“I know. All the same this is a rum place. Do you know when we landed
here, just now, the first thing that struck me?”

“Naw.”

“Well, I felt as if the place was full of people.”

“Which way?”

“Oh, I don’t know; people I couldn’t see, ghosts.”

“Hants?”

“Yes.”

“What made y’ think that?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Somehow it reminded me of a story I’d once read.”

“What was the story?”

“About a beach over in the Pacific where wizards used to go and pick up
shells.”

“What’s them?”

“Chaps that work magic and sell themselves to the devil. They can make
themselves invisible so’s you can’t see them, and they used to come
to the beach and pick up shells, and then turn the shells into silver
dollars. You couldn’t see them, but you could hear them rustling about,
like that sand, and talking to one another, and now and then you’d see
a little fire blaze up.”

Jude, interested, rolled over, rested her chin in her palms, and kicked
a bare heel to the sun.

“I reckon you’re not far wrong,” said Jude.

“How?”

“Well, I’ve felt the same way here myself, as if there was hants about
and if you’d turn your head sharp you’d see someone behind you. Now
you’ve talked of it. I’ll be always thinking it if I come here again.
Wish you’d kept your head shut.”

She sat up and looked about her.

“Sorry,” said Ratcliffe, raising himself on his arm; “but if you come
again I’ll come with you, and that’ll keep the hants off--unless I’m
gone.”

“How d’you mean?”

“Well, when this cruise is over I’ll have to leave you both and go
home. I don’t want to go.”

Jude said nothing. Staring over the sea under the brim of her hat, she
did not seem to have heard him.

“I’d much sooner stick on here with you and Satan. What’s that thing
floating out there?”

“Turkle,” said Jude. “Look, he’s doing a dive!”

He sat up beside her.

“So he has. Well, he’s gone.” He sat with his knees up, looking over
the sea.

Alone here with Jude she seemed a different person from what she had
been aboard the _Sarah_. The strange antagonism she had suddenly
exhibited, and a trace of which had remained up till this morning,
seemed to have utterly vanished. Perhaps it was the “hants,” or the
loneliness, or a combination of both, but she seemed subdued.

“Well, I don’t see what you want going for if you don’t want to,”
suddenly said Jude, drawing up her knees and crossing them with her
hands.

“Oh, bother!” said he. “Don’t let’s think of it; besides, we’ll fix up
something. I don’t want to go. I’ve never had such a jolly time in my
life, and I’m not going to lose sight of you and Satan--unless you want
to.”

“Lord! I don’t want to.”

“Well, that’s all right We’ll stick together, somehow, and let the old
world go hang, and we’ll go hunting abalones and fishing--let’s make
plans.”

His arm somehow slipped round her waist, half automatically, just as
one puts one’s hand on a person’s shoulder. When he realized what he
had done, he realized, at the same time, that she did not seem to mind;
more than that, she reciprocated in a way by letting her shoulder rest
more comfortably against his. It was companionship, pure and simple,
and her mind seemed far away, wrapped in the sun-blaze as with a
garment, and wandering--who knows where?

“Heave ahead,” said Jude drowsily. “What’s your plans?”

“Plans--oh, I’ve lots. Let’s go round the world in the old _Sarah_--get
a couple more hands.”

“Where’d you stick them?”

“Well, you’ve got a foc’s’le.”

“Not big enough for a tomcat. The nigger filled it. He said he reckoned
he’d got to stick his head through the hatch to breathe.”

“Well, we’ll get rid of the _Sarah_ and get a bigger boat.”

“Lord! Don’t you never let Satan hear you say that: she’s his skin!”

“We’ll do without extra hands, then, and work her, the three of us. I
can steer all right now.”

“Kin you?”

“You know jolly well I can!”

“What’s the points of the compass? Run ’em off.”

“North--nor’-nor’east, nor’east--um--”

Jude chuckled subduedly.

“Heave ahead!”

“I’ve forgotten.”

“Never knew.”

“Well, maybe.”

The confiding shoulder rested more heavily against him as against a
cushion and she began to hum a tune. She seemed to have forgotten
the points of the compass, him, everything, just as a child suddenly
forgets everything in day-dream land.

The absolute contentment of doing nothing, resting, listening to the
waves, had fallen upon him too, with a something else, a sort of
mesmerism born of his companion, the strangest feeling as though Jude
were a part of himself, as though he had put his arm round his own
waist and a new self,--a much pleasanter self than the old one, less
stiff, more human, and somehow more alive.

The metronomic rhythm of the little waves falling on the sand seemed
to mix his thoughts together and blur them; but he saw Skelton,
Sir William Skelton, Bart., he saw a girl he, Ratcliffe, had been
engaged to, he saw all sorts of men and all sorts of women, everyone
he had ever known, it seemed to him, in a nebulous cluster, and they
all seemed, somehow, not quite alive,--not dead, but sleeping in
the trance we call civilization, their days ordered by the beat of
a metronome,--get up--wash--dress--eat--work or play--eat--work or
play--eat--work or play--bed--sleep--get up--wash--dress etc.,--all the
figures moving like one, their very laughter and tears ordered except
when they got drunk or went mad.

It seemed to him that vivid life was not so much a question of vitality
as of freedom.

Was that the secret Satan had discovered,--Satan, who had no hankering
after great riches, but was free as a gull? Satan and Jude were
gulls,--seagulls, untamable as seagulls and as far from civilization!
It was as though his arm were round a bird,--quiescent by some miracle
and allowing him to handle it, and imparting to him, somehow, the
knowledge of its vitality,--the vitality of freedom.

“What I like about the old _Sarah_,” said he, “is the way she just pots
about--with nothing to do.”

“Nothing to do!”

“Well, you and Satan can take things easy.”

“Oh, can we? That’s news--what d’you call easy?”

“You have no fixed work, you can knock off when you like, you haven’t
to carry cargo, or be bothered with owners, or be up to time. You are
as free as the gulls.”

Jude took his hand and removed his arm from around her waist just
as one removes a belt. She wanted to shift her position. She seemed
to have lost interest in the conversation. Sand had got between her
toes, and she removed it, running her finger between them. She had
no handkerchief,--never used one or needed to use one: the perfectly
healthy animal never does.

Then, crossing her legs like a tailor and squatting in front of him,
she dived into the right hand pocket of her trousers and produced a
dollar, a slick, evil, suspicious-looking dollar. She seemed utterly
to have forgotten the gulls’-nesting business and how the time was
running on, and having little passion for the business he was content
not to remind her.

“I’ll match you for dollars,” said Jude. She was no longer the person
of a moment ago. She was the harbor larrikin, the clodder of bathing
nigger girls, a person to be avoided by pious boys with possessions in
the form of money or land.

The coin spun in the air.

“Tails is the bird,” cried Jude.

“Heads, then.”

“Tails! Y’owe me a dollar.”

It spun again.

“Heads! We’re quits. Heads again, heads--oh, hell!--what you want
sticking to heads for? That’s two dollars I owe you. Tails--scrumps!
that’s three! Tails again, that’s four. What you want sticking to tails
for? Why don’t you wabble about an’ give a body a chance? Heads--holy
Mike! What’s wrong with the durned thing? Five dollars gone on a bang!”

“We’re not playing right,” said he. “We should call alternately.”

“What’s that?”

“One after the other.”

“I’m not going to play any more,” said Jude. “I’m broke. The bank’s
bust and I kin’t pay you, not till I get to Havana--unless I play you
double or quits. You call; I’ll toss.”

“Heads.”

She sent the coin six feet high and it fell on the sand--heads!

“That settles it,” said Jude. “Ten dollars I owe you. You’ll have
to wait till we get to Havana, for if Satan knew I was tossing for
coins he’d sculp me. I can get some money out of the bank at Havana,
pretending it’s for something else. I haven’t a cent, an’ this old
dollar’s no use: it’s a dud.”

“You don’t owe me anything,” said Ratcliffe. “We were only tossing for
fun.” The words were no sooner out of his mouth than he regretted them.

Jude flushed red under her freckles and sunburn.

“I’m not taking your money, thank you,” said she; then breaking out,
“What the blizzard d’you think we’ve been playing at, and what you take
me for? S’posin’ I’d won, you’d a paid, wouldn’t you?”

“I didn’t mean anything,” said he.

“Y’shouldn’t have said it, then,” said she.

“Well, I’m sorry--I take it back.”

She played with the dud dollar for a moment, tossing it, and catching
it; then she put it into her pocket, uncrossed her legs, and lay flat;
her chin resting on the back of her hands.

Her hat was off, lying beside her, and the quarrel with him was
evidently over; she seemed plunged in reverie. Then he noticed that the
eyes, upturned under their lashes, were steadfastly looking at him.
Instantly they fell, and her position altered so that her face was
hidden on her arm.

He lit his pipe and smoked for a moment in silence.

“Jude!”

No answer.

“What’s the matter with you?”

Silence. He remembered how she had shammed dead on Palm Island, put
down his pipe, and crawled toward the corpse. It was rigid, and to
revive it he began to pour sand on its head.

“Quit fooling,” grumbled a voice; then, as if the sand had suddenly
revived memory and galvanized her to life, she scrambled to her feet.

“Them eggs--and the sun’s getting down and we fooling about!” She
picked up her hat. “I’ll take this end and you go t’other.”

“But I haven’t anything to gather them in.”

“Gather them in your hat, and keep a lookout for quicksan’s. If you get
into one, holler and throw yourself on your back. But you’ll easy tell
them--they look different from the or’nary sands.”

“How?”

“I dunno; just different. If you see the sand in front of you looking
different, keep clear of it.”

Off she went.



CHAPTER XXI

DISHED


He struck to the north. Over there in the north the sea was of a violet
blue accentuated by the white blaze of the sands.

The sands, once one got moving on them, were full of interest,
strewn along the sea-edge with all sorts of prizes,--colored shells,
cuttlefish bones, extraordinary seaweeds, bits of wreckage; a few yards
out a nautilus fleet was steering, with tiny sails set to the wind, the
oldest ships that ever floated on the sea, unspoiled by storm and time,
just as they were launched in the morning of the world. He watched them
for awhile, forgetful of gulls’ eggs, or quicksands, or the sun, now
sensibly declining.

If ever things had purpose, these had. They were going somewhere,
bound on some business, keeping formation, and possessed of charts and
compasses and barometers as surely as of sails. They made him think of
God, and then they made him think of Satan,--Satan, whose sea sense
served him better than all precise knowledge.

Then he remembered Jude and glanced back. Away, far away to the south,
he saw her. The sands dipped and rose there, and sometimes she was
invisible and his heart thumped to the idea that a quicksand had taken
her, then she reappeared and he went on, and, ever as he went, he
seemed walking deeper into loneliness, peopled with viewless things and
half-heard voices.

Sometimes a chiming sound like the shattered and mingled voices of
distant bells filled the air,--it was the singing of the sands. He had
not noticed it in company with Jude, but here alone he noticed it.
Sometimes laughter, far away in the distance, came distinct, human,
and startling,--it was the calling of a laughing gull,--and always,
penetrating all other sounds with the subtlety of osmosis, the silky,
sinister whisper of the wind playing with the sand-grains. He went on.
Something nearly tripped him. It was a great spar, half sanded over,
the relic of some ship that had come to grief, maybe, on the spit.

The sight of this spar touched everything with a new and momentary
color. “Gascoign, the Sandal Wood Trader,” and other old stories he had
read in his boyhood came back to him half-remembered, and with them
came a whiff from a world he had half-forgotten,--a breath of the air
we breathe at fifteen.

He saw to his satisfaction that the gulls were beyond his reach, a
broad channel of water cutting the spit in two right ahead. He took his
seat on the spar for a moment to rest and look about, and as he sat the
gulls, wheeling and crying, kept up around him the elusive atmosphere
of storyland.

All the money in the world could not have brought him that! Nor
could he have found it had he landed here from a yacht with grown-up
companions.

He fell to thinking what an extraordinarily lucky person he was, and
to plume himself on his instinctive wisdom in dropping Skelton and
civilization for Jude and Satan, who had led him into a world of
things he had never seen, things he had never imagined, things he had
half-forgotten.

Carquinez alone was a revelation, to say nothing of Sellers and Cleary.
There was only one cloud, smaller than a man’s hand; but there!--where
was it to end? It was all very well talking to Jude about sailing round
the world: you can’t sail out of Time, and the time would come--the
time would come--

Jude was winding threads round him as a silkworm winds a cocoon,--tiny
threads but deathly strong. It was almost as though she were becoming
part of himself,--part of himself and part the sun and freedom and blue
sea. She seemed half built up of those things and to have the power
to make him one with them. Well, there was no use in bothering. So he
said to himself, and as he said it the cloud no larger than a man’s
hand swelled and twisted and rolled across the sandspit before him,
resolving itself into a troupe of female relations, male relations,
friends,--people as remote from Satan and Jude as parrots from
seagulls, caged parrots content in the great gilded cage of convention.

What would they say about Jude? He had an instinctive knowledge of what
Jude would say about them, if they ever met, which seemed impossible.

Then came the weird recollection that they had, in a way, actually met.
She had met Skelton, the high priest of the whole crowd, Sir William
Skelton, Bart. Old Popplecock was the label she had affixed to him, and
it somehow stuck and fitted. What label would she affix to his aunts,
his two maiden mid-Victorian aunts, should she ever meet them?

A faint halloo from the south sent aunts and all other considerations
flying. He turned. Jude, far away on the sands, was coming toward the
dinghy. She was carrying something and running as if pursued; then he
saw her trip and fall.

She was on her feet in a second, and the thing pursuing her had
evidently given up the hunt, for she stood examining something she had
picked up from the ground, and seemed regardless of everything else.

He waited for her by the boat, and as she came up he guessed the
tragedy. She had been carrying a hatful of birds’ eggs and had smashed
than when she fell. The hat was eloquent.

“Smashed them every one,” said Jude, wading out and beginning to wash
the hat. “All your fault!”

“My fault! For heaven’s sake how?”

“Stuffing me up with them yarns.”

“What yarns?”

“Hants.”

“Was that what made you run?”

“Who was running?”

“You were.”

“Oh, was I? Reckon you’d have run too.”

“Did you see anything?”

“Yep.”

“What was it?”

“You never mind.”

She was evidently in a vile, bad temper; so he took his seat on the
sand waiting for her to cool. Then, hat in hand, she came and sat
close beside him, more out of a desire for company than friendship, he
imagined; then, placing the hat to dry, she began examining the sole of
her right foot, spreading the toes apart and brushing off the sand.

“Well, I’m awfully sorry,” said he at length. “But tell us--what was it
you saw, really?”

“A wuzzard.”

“What was it like?”

“Nothin’,” then suddenly, and as if unburdening her soul, “I hadn’t
more’n got the last of the eggs when I turned and saw him walking on
the sands,--little old man with a glass under his arm, dressed queer
in a long coat, an’ a hat on his head like an I dunno what. I wasn’t
afraid, thought he was real, and he stuck the glass to his eye ’sif he
was looking out for a ship.”

“Yes.”

“Then he went out--puff--like the sniff of a candle--hu--hu--” She
clung to him.

“It was all my fault,” said he, “talking that nonsense. Don’t think of
it: it was only an optical illusion.”

“He didn’t cast a shadow--I remember now.”

“That proves it. I’ve often heard cases like that. Sir Walter Scott saw
a man like that once, and he knew it was only an illusion. He had some
wine handy and he drank a glass of it, and the thing disappeared.”

“I reckon I’d have drunk a barrel of rum if I’d had one handy,” said
Jude, drawing away a bit. “Let’s get off. Lord! Look at the sun--it’s
half down. Come’n help with the boat.”

They got up, and taking the dinghy by the gunnels began to haul her to
the water. They had not got her more than a couple of yards when Jude
straightened up as though remembering something and clapped her hand to
her head.

“We’re dished!” said Jude.



CHAPTER XXII

THE CRABS


“How do you mean?” said he.

She explained. It was like her to forget and spend the precious time
lazing and playing about with “wuzzards.” The sun was taking his plunge
into the sea, darkness was upon them, and she could not find her way
back in the dark. Moon or starlight would be of no use. The thriddy
spars of the _Sarah_ and _Juan_, invisible from the sandspit even in
daylight, would be picked up only several miles out. She could not
steer by the stars, and there was a great sweep of current setting
sou’east which might take them to Timbuktu. Satan would have done
the business right enough blindfolded; but she was a night-funk, she
confessed it. Night put her all abroad and mixed up everything in her
mind so that front seemed back and west seemed east, besides filling
the world with “hants.” She had “near died” of fright fetching that
sack from the cache the other night.

All this in a lugubrious voice not far from tears, as they stood facing
each other, and lit by the remorselessly setting sun.

“All right,” said Ratcliffe. “Cheer up. We’ll just have to stick here
till daybreak. We have some grub left and lots of water. No use
pulling the boat farther down. But I expect Satan will be in a stew.”

“I reckon he’ll know,” said Jude. “The weather’s all right. He’d scent
if we were in any trouble, and he’d borrow Cark’s boat to hunt for us.”

“How do you mean ’scent’?”

“He’d smell trouble; he’s awful sharp.”

“Sort of telepathy.”

“Which?”

“Mind reading.”

“I dunno, but I reckon he’s not worrying, and if he was he’d be
alongside here pronto.”

Her face was like a buttercup in the extraordinary light of that
sunset. The whole sky was buttercup color; the great sea was seething
round the great sun, now half-gone, churning and washing round him, a
blazing globe sinking in boiling gold.

Golden gulls, golden sky, golden sea,--all fading at last, the purple
of night breaking through, rushing dark from the west across the sea.

The shipwrecked mariners lost their golden faces and hands, and,
as they sat down with their backs to the dinghy and the remains of
the “grub” between them, laughing gulls, passing like ghosts in the
twilight, hailed them, while the stars broke out to look above the
darkness and the tepid wind.

There is nothing like eating to keep up the spirits. Jude got less
doleful. In the stir of mind caused by the new circumstances she had
clean forgotten the “hants,” nor did she remember them for a moment
now, as she chatted away in an uplift of spirits caused by the food
and the recognition that to be downcast was futile.

“I sure am a mutt!” said Jude. “Reckon I was born on a Friday--they say
mugs are all born on a Friday. We should a been off two hours before
sundown, and there I was talking and listening to your yarns, and here
we are on the beach--oh, mommer!” Then after a long pause:

“What’s them stars, do you reckon?”

“Suns.”

“Gar’n!”

“It’s so.”

“Say!”

“Yes.”

“Did you notice anything looking north before sundown, or were you
asleep sitting on that spar?”

“I did see something over there; looked like the ghost of a cloud.”

“That was Rum Cay, and a sure sign the weather’s going to hold. It
lifts itself into the sky like that, evening times; you can see it from
Lone Reef too.”

“I wish I had known that and I should have looked at it more
particularly. I was thinking.”

“What was you thinking about?”

He laughed. “My people.”

“Which people?”

“My relations.”

“What made you think of them for?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Yes, I was wondering what you’d think of them if you saw them,
especially my aunts.”

“Well, you take the bun,” said Jude, “you sitting there thinking of
your aunts and me running with them eggs!” She stopped of a sudden; her
memory had suddenly conjured up the “wuzzard.”

“That cuss!” said Jude.

“Which?”

“The one I saw.” She wriggled close to him till their sides touched.
“S’posin’?”

“Yes?”

“S’posin’ he was to take it into his head to do a walk along here?”

“Don’t you bother about him,” said Ratcliffe. “I’d kick him into the
sea--besides, he was only an optical illusion. It was my stupid talk
did it.”

“I’m not bothering,” said Jude, “only it’s a durned long time till
morning. N’matter,” she rested her hand on his shoulder in all the
familiarity of companionship; then she shifted her hand from his left
to his right shoulder so that her arm was across his back, and then she
fell silent and he felt something poking into his left shoulder--it was
her nose! She had evidently under his protection forgotten “hants” and
“wuzzards,” forgotten him, even, for she was humming a sort of tune
under her breath.

He knew exactly her mental condition,--mind wandering,--and it
was a strange feeling to be cuddled like that by a person who had
half-forgotten his existence, except as a protection against fears,
especially when he remembered her recent antagonism that had developed
so mysteriously and as mysteriously vanished. He slipped his left arm
round her to make her more comfortable. Then her nose gave place to her
cheek against his shoulder and she yawned. He could feel her ribs under
her guernsey and the beat of her heart just beneath the gentle swell of
her breast. He remembered her coat, which was in the dinghy. She had
thrown it in as an after-thought in case of a change of weather, but
had never worn it.

“Hadn’t you better put on your coat?” asked he.

“Lord! I don’t want no coat.”

“But the night air.”

“Nothing wrong with it. It’s a Gulf wind an’ as hot as a blanket--ain’t
you warm enough?”

“Lots.”

“Ever slept out before?”

“Only in a tent--have you?”

“Which?”

“Slept out before?”

“Heaps o’ times. But I wouldn’t sleep out in a full moon.”

“Why?”

“’Cause I don’t want to wake up with my face twisted to one side like
a flat fish--mean to say you don’t know?--either that or a chap goes
loony. But there’s no fear tonight; it’s only a half-moon. The only
thing I’m frightened of is crabs. We’ve gotta keep our eyes skinned for
crabs. This mayn’t be a crab spit; then again, there’s no knowing but
it may.”

“What on earth is a crab spit?”

Jude raised her face from his shoulder and sat up a bit straighter as
though the question had roused her.

“Place where crabs come, hun’erds of millions of them, same as Crab
Cay. There’s crabs everywhere of course, but not in shiploads same as
Crab Cay. Three men were drifted ashore there once, and after sundown
up came the crabs and fought them all night, and there was nothing but
their skeletons left in the morning. We’d better take it turn about to
keep watch.”

She released herself from his arm and scrambling about in the starlight
on her hands and knees began to make a sand pillow.

“There you are!” said she. “Stick your head on it; I’ll take first
watch. You be port watch, and I’ll be sta’board.”

“No, you won’t! I will. I’m not a bit sleepy.”

“Neither’m I. Stick your head on it. You’ve gotta turn in or you’ll be
no use tomorrow.”

He did as he was bid, and Jude took her place sitting on the sand close
to him.

“Give us a call if anything happens,” said he.

“You bet!” replied Jude.

Then he closed his eyes. A moment before and he had been leagues away
from sleep, but with the compulsory closing of his eyes a drowsiness
began to steal on him. The wind had died to nothing and in the dead
silence of the night the sound of the waves on the mile and a half of
spit came loud and low, rhythmical, mesmeric. It was as though the
tide of sleep were rising to drift him off.

Now, suddenly, he was walking in the blazing sunlight on the spit, and
toward him was walking the “wuzzard,”--a little old man in a cocked
hat with a spyglass under his arm, who vanished, giving place to Jude,
carrying a hatful of gulls’ eggs.

Then Skelton landed from somewhere, and Jude, turning, was calling him
a “pesky brute.”

The words broke the dream, and he opened his eyes. The moon had just
risen, touching the spit, and in her light, seated on the sand propped
up on its stilts, a spirit crab, white as snow with ruby eyes, was
staring at Jude.

Drugged with weariness and ozone, he closed his eyes for one moment,
determined to rise up and drive the thing away in one moment. When he
opened his eyes again the sun was rising.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE RETURN


The gulls were mewing and calling and flying above him in the blue.
He was lying on his back, his left arm out, and Jude’s head on his
shoulder.

She had snuggled up beside him for company, and then, regardless of
spirit crabs, “hants,” and the possibility of crustaceans landing in
shiploads to devour them, had fallen asleep. Her arm was flung over
his chest. It was the embrace of a tired child, delightful to wake up
to as the freshness of the air and the new life of the world and the
innocence of the flower-blue sky, delightful as her breath, sweet and
warm against his cheek. As he moved she stirred, grumbled something
under her breath, shifted her head so that his arm was released, and
turned on her other side, with her right arm flung out on the sand.

He stood up. The tide was in and the dinghy only waiting to be
launched. Not a sail or speck upon the sea.

Rum Cay had prophesied right,--the fine weather held,--but the water
was nearly gone, and the “grub” was finished. There was no breakfast
till they boarded the _Sarah_ again.

He turned to where the starboard watch was lying, clinging still to
Morpheus, and stirred it gently with his foot. Jude moved, turned,
grumbled to herself, and then, as if electrified, sat up digging her
fists into her eyes and yawning. Then she sat gazing at the sea as if
stunned.

“Come on,” said Ratcliffe, “we’ve got to be starting. All the grub’s
gone and nearly all the water. How did you sleep?”

“Oh, Lord!” said Jude. “I’ve been chasin’ round the hull night with a
hatful of eggs. I’m near dead beat. Which way’s the wind? Sou’east.
Must a changed in the night. It’ll take us back in two ticks.”

She collapsed again comfortably.

“Remember,” said he, “the current is against us.”

“Oh, it ain’t no distance,” said Jude, “and a few minutes more or less
don’t count. Wonder what Satan’s doing?”

Knowing that it was hopeless to bother till the spirit moved her, he
sat down on the sand beside her and began picking up little shells and
casting them into the sea.

“Goodness knows!” said he. “I’m wondering what he’ll say when we get
back.”

“He’ll start jawing,” said Jude dreamily and fatefully and with her
eyes closed. “I can hear him as if I was listening. He’ll say, ‘What
you mean leaving the ship, and where’s your eggs?’ No use telling him
they’re broke. Lord! I’m sick of it all! I’m just going to lay here and
die.”

He began to drop shells on her chest.

“Quit foolin’.”

“Then get up and come on. Let’s get it over. It’s like having a tooth
pulled,--the sooner over the better.”

“Did y’ever have a tooth pulled?”

“Yes.”

“What’s it like?”

“Beastly for a moment, but it’s soon over.”

“Did y’spit blood?”

“Rather! Come on.”

“I’m coming in a minute.”

Then suddenly she sat up, put on her hat, scrambled to her feet, took a
glance round the sea, and made for the dinghy.

“Shove in the water jar,” said Jude. He put the jar in, seized the
opposite gunnel, and ran her down.

In a minute they were afloat, the sail spread to the wind, Jude
steering and holding the sheet. Gulls chased them out, and the beam
wind meeting tide and current sent boosts of spray on board. It was a
rougher passage coming than going, and a more silent one. Ratcliffe,
squatting in the bottom of the boat, had little else to do than smoke
and watch Jude. Jude, engaged with her own thoughts, and with her eyes
keened for the indications of Lone Reef, seemed absolutely to have
forgotten him.

There was no indication of the companion who had slept with her arm
round him, who had sat almost lovingly, half-forgetfully, with her arm
across his shoulder and his arm round her waist.

It came to him suddenly and with a curious pang that Jude would never
be more than that,--a warm companion if cast alone together, just as
she might be with Satan, or any stranger her fancy approved of.

Instinctively he felt that there was a barrier,--a curious barrier, he
seemed to have broken through that night he took her part, and when,
for the first time in her life, she had confessed herself at fault;
a barrier, that had, however, mended itself. It was as though he had
injured her independence. Yet Satan was injuring her independence all
day long with his orders and what not. Ay, but Satan was her brother,
almost part of herself. She would not have banged Satan on the head for
kissing her.

He gave up thinking, watching her and how well she handled the boat.
The crying of the gulls round the spit had died down; nothing remained
but the voice of the sea, silent as dumb death from the blue horizon to
the planking of the dinghy when it spoke.

“That’s her!” suddenly said Jude.

“What?”

“Lone--I kin see the spars of the _Juan_ an’ the _Sarah_. Rubber and
you’ll see them too.”

He turned with his elbow resting on the thwart and picked out the spars
on the sea-line.

“And the _Natchez_,” said Jude. “Look, close up to the _Juan_. Cleary’s
put in and we not there! I’d forgot Cleary; didn’t believe he’d pick up
the place so soon. There he is. Oh, hell!”

“No matter,” said Ratcliffe; “it can’t be helped.”

“Cuss them gulls! If they’d stuck to their laying places, we’d have got
the eggs soon’s we’d landed and been back last night. Wonder what’s
been going on?”

“Well,” said he, “Satan’s all right. Cleary has no grudge against him.
If there has been any bother, it has been between Cleary and Sellers.”

“Maybe,” said Jude.

An hour later they were so close up that they could see the reef-line
and the line of the wreck with fellows working on it. Whatever had
happened, business was going on as usual.

The three vessels, anchored and swinging to the tide, looked peaceful
enough, and as they drew up to the _Sarah_, Satan, who had just
appeared on deck, came and stood by the starboard rail watching them.

They fastened up, preparing for an explosion. None came.

“Couldn’t get back last night,” said Jude as they came on board. “Left
it till sundown, and then I was afeard of the current.”

“Afeard of the dark,” said Satan. “I reckoned that’d be so--whar’s your
eggs?”

“Gone phut. Smashed the lot. Wasn’t more than a hatful. Them rotten
gulls had given up nesting, all but at the ends--and say, Satan, I saw
a wuzzard! I was carrying the eggs when I saw him, and then I ran and
smashed the lot.”

“A which?”

“A hant--little old chap walking on the sands. D’you remember the
figurehead on that old bark they broke up last year at Havana,--man
with a glass under his arm and the other arm wavin’ his hat? That was
him plain as my eye. He up with his glass and I let one yelp. Rat’ll
tell you: he saw me running.”

“Oh, git along--git along, you and your hants! I’d been countin’ on
them eggs, and here you come back like a one-eyed skite with your yarns
about hants. Why, you ought a had a boatful! Didn’t you see no turkles’
eggs?”

“Nope.”

“Well, come along down if you want some grub. I sighted you more’n an
hour ago, and there’s coffee waitin’. D’ye see that?” He pointed to a
new-washed jumper drying in the blazing sun on the rail.

“Well, I was het up,” said Jude, “or I’d have la’ndered it before I
started.”

“Come along down,” said Satan.

It came to Ratcliffe that the quietude of Satan over the business came
less from natural good temper than some other reason. The desertion of
the _Sarah_ was mutiny and a rank crime. Satan had been left with his
food to cook and his jumper to wash, his sister had been off with an
almost stranger for a whole night--yet he was not displeased.

If Jude had done the business alone, she most surely would have been
carpeted. It was evidently his--Ratcliffe’s--participation in it that
fended off trouble and turned wrath into complacence. Why?

Was it because he was a guest? Not a bit! Satan, had he been angry,
would not have bothered about that. He followed down below, and there,
over the breakfast table, the Cleary business was cleared up.

“He dropped in last night,” said Satan, “an hour before sundown,
and the anchor hadn’t more than clawed the mud before he was aboard
the _Juan_. I expected the shootin’ to begin; but there weren’t no
fireworks, and after dark I lit out for the _Juan_ in the c’lapsible
and tied up and boarded her. All the men were in the foc’sle, eating
onions and playin’ tunes on guitars,--no anchor watch,--and the Cleary
crowd down in the saloon as friendly as pie, Cark ladling the liquor
and Cleary suckin’ it down, cigars as big as your leg in their faces,
and Cleary with his thumbs in the armhulls of his vest leanin’ back
laughin’. That’s how I found them.”

“I told you,” said Jude to Ratcliffe, “they’d be kissing each other
and--”

“Suppose you shet your head!” said Satan. “I’m tellin’ you--there they
were sittin’ all colludin’ together thick as thick, and I sat for an
hour with them and then lit out. Sweet as sugar they were; but I tell
you this, I’m as frightened as hell.”

“How’s thet?”

“Cleary. Y’see Cark and Sellers aren’t much by themselves, but Cleary
is the snake’s tooth an’ poison bug of that combination, now that he’s
joined in with Cark again. Cleary’s Irish gone bad on the father’s
side and drunk Welsh on the mother’s: I had his pedigree from Pap. Pap
said he was a sure-enough thoroughbred of a hellhound, and he reckoned
the roof of his mouth was black right down to the heart of him. Well,
I’ve had forty dollars from Cleary for them rotten pearls and one
thousand dollars from Cark on account of takin’s. Now you see how I am,
supposin’ the wreck turns out a dud. D’you mean to say they won’t go
for me to get their money back? Supposin’ the gold is there. D’you mean
to say they won’t chouse me out of my share?”

“What are you going to do?”

“I worked the hull thing out last night before I boarded them. Seeing
there was no fighting, I concluded they’d joined up an’ become friends;
then I made my plans, I didn’t put out no anchor light.

“Sellers, when I was leaving the _Juan_, said, ‘Whar’s your light?’

“‘Run short of oil,’ says I. ‘Kin you let me have some?’ He thought I
was tryin’ to wangle oil out of him, and he closed; said he was run
short himself.”

“What was your meaning in not putting out a light?” asked Jude.

“Maybe you’ll find out,” said Satan, “if you keep your eyes skinned
and stop askin’ questions. Well, that’s where we are. They’ll have the
barrel of gunpowder fixed by tomorrow to blow the deck off her, and as
soon as they put a light to it we’ll know. It’s blastin’ powder and
ought to split the deck to flinders if they fix it proper. I don’t
b’lieve it’s coral coverin’ that deck, I b’lieve it’s old petrifacted
guano, if you ask me; anyhow, it’s hard enough.”

“By Jove!” said Ratcliffe. “If that’s so, it bears out my theory. I
came to the conclusion that the old hooker had never been under water
according to that yarn Lopez slung; yet I couldn’t account for the
coral deposits. I believe you’re right. I believe the real wreck
is lying at that place you said that’s given in the latitude and
longitude. Well, see here, why not get the anchor up and light out
right now for the other place. They wouldn’t follow.”

“Wouldn’t they?” said Satan. “The _Natchez_ would be after us like a
cat pouncin’. No, I’d rather stick, if it’s all the same to you, and
see the fireworks. After that leave ’em to me. There aren’t many’s got
the better of me when my dander’s up. Now then, Jude, if you’ve done
stuffin’ yourself, maybe you’ll lend a hand on deck. There’s swabbin’
to be done.”



CHAPTER XXIV

A BOTTLE OF RUM


Ratcliffe helped in the swabbing and polishing. No housekeeper ever
exercised more meticulous care in this respect than Satan. He was a
fanatic where cleanliness was concerned, and polish,--witness the
brasswork of the wheel, the binnacle and skylight,--even paint and
varnish were minor gods compared with Brasso!

Meanwhile, as the Sarahites worked, the _Natchez_ and _Juan_, lying in
cynical and sinister neglect and dirt, showed little signs of life. The
working party on the reef seemed busy enough; but the ships, save for
a few hands lounging at the rails or squatting about the foc’sle head,
might have been deserted.

About ten o’clock a boat put off from the _Natchez_. Cleary was in the
sternsheets, and as she came alongside he hailed the _Sarah_.

Satan came to the rail.

“Sellers’s going to bust her open today,” said Cleary. “Just had word
from him.”

“I thought he wouldn’t be ready till tomorrow,” said Satan.

“Just had word the hole’s near deep enough and the star cuttin’s from
it. He’s got the powder off and reckons to fire it at noon. Wants you
to come an’ help.”

“Oh, does he?”

“He’s a bit bothered about the fuse, not havin’ done much of that sort
of work, and he reckons you’re an ingenious cuss an’ll be able to put
him wise.”

“Oh, does he? Well, I’ll be there.”

Cleary came over the rail.

“No spittin’!” cried Satan.

Cleary, averting his head in time to send the squirt of tobacco juice
overside instead of on the deck, looked around.

He nodded at Ratcliffe, disregarded Jude, and fixed his eye on the
blazing binnacle and the glittering rods of the skylight.

“Dandy ship,” said he. “Whaar you goin’ to take the prize?”

“Where your old tub’d be skeered to show her nose. How’s the potato
crop gettin’ along?”

Cleary turned his quid over and allowed his eyes to travel about the
deck.

“Waal,” said he, speaking with point and consideration, “some likes one
thing and some likes another, but I never did see that fandanglin’ with
frills an’ brasswork an’ sich lends anythin’ to the _sailin’_ qualities
of a ship.”

Jude, raising herself up from flemish coiling a rope, blazed out:

“Maybe it don’t to an old cod boat blowin’ along with her own smell,”
began Jude.

“Shet up!” said Satan. Then to Cleary, “Have a drink?”

“I’m willin’,” said Cleary, “but thought you was a dry ship.”

Satan winked, slipped below, and returned with a bottle of rum, a
glass, and a water jar. There were three or four bottles of rum on
board. Satan said he kept the stuff for “rubbing his corns”; he never
drank it. There were also a revolver and a rifle on board. He never
fired them: lethal weapons have their time and place.

Satan, having placed the bottle and jar on the deck, produced another
glass from his pocket, filled out a four-finger peg for Cleary and
another for himself.

“Here’s luck,” said Cleary.

“Here’s luck--no _spittin’_!”

They drained glasses.

“Holy Mike!” cried Cleary, his eyes bulging and his face injected.
“What sorter bug-water’s this?”

“British Navy; thirty over proof.”

Cleary, with one eye shut, seemed turning over in his mind the
activities going on in his stomach and on the whole approving.

“Well,” said he, “I’ve drunk wasp brandy and one or two nigger
dopes--they don’t get near it, not in knots. A man’d want to be a
centipede to carry a bottle of that stuff, I reckon. N’more, thanky.
Well, I’m off, and I’ll fly a flag when Cark gives the signal he’s got
the stuff ready for the fuse.”

Off he went.

“For the land’s sake, Satan! what made you swallow that stuff for?”
said Jude.

Satan took his seat on the skylight edge, then he gulped, then he
hiccupped.

“Get your hind legs under you and cart the bottle and the glasses down
below,” said Satan. “Strewth!--gimme the water jar till I flood my
hold.”

He drank till Ratcliffe thought he would never stop, then he went to
the port rail and canceled matters.

“It’s Demerara Black John,” said he apologetically to Ratcliffe as he
turned, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Some likes it, but
I’ve no holdin’ with drink.”

Ratcliffe was about to ask why he had swallowed it, but he checked
himself. Jude, who had just appeared again, put the question.

“What in the nation made you drink that snake-juice?” asked Jude.

Satan took a glance at the sun, at the reef, and at the _Juan_.

“Now then,” said he, “finish up clarin’ away that raffle and get the
dinner ready; I’ve no time to be talkin’.”

He set to sand and canvassing the rail he had been working on when
Cleary appeared, Jude and Ratcliffe took up their jobs, and the
ordinary life of the _Sarah_ resumed as though the rum incident had
never been.

All the same, work could not prevent Ratcliffe from pondering the dark
problem of Satan and his doings.

Why had he not put out an anchor light last night? Why had he pretended
to Sellers that he was short of oil? Why had he swallowed a glass of
rum only to unswallow it again?

Then in the monotony of work his mind passed from these considerations
to a state of pleasant expectancy. What would they find in the wreck,
and the explosion of the barrel of powder, how would it come off?

He felt as pleased as a boy about to fire a brass cannon and not sure
whether it will burst or not.



CHAPTER XXV

THEY FIRE THE FUSE


Satan used a modification of the deck bear for cleaning his decks; that
is to say, a box filled with stones having a rough mat nailed under it.
The deck having been sprinkled with sand, the bear had to be pulled
backward and forward after the fashion of a carpet sweeper. This was
Ratcliffe’s job, and he was not sorry when it was over.

Dinner was served at eight bells, and getting along toward one o’clock
the _Natchez_ and _Juan_ were flying all sorts of flags on the tepid
breeze as a signal, evidently, that it was time to get to business.

Ratcliffe made out the red and white flag indicating H, the triangular
blue with the white ball, the red cross on a white ground, and the
white with the blue square,--H. D. V. S.

“What are they trying to say?” he asked.

“Oh, them flags,” replied Satan. “_They’re_ not tryin’ to say anythin’,
only flyin’ to show time’s up. Cark hasn’t got a full set of the
c’mercial code; wouldn’t know how to use them, neither. Now if you’re
ready we’ll put off. Jude will stick here to keep ship.”

Jude protested.

“Why, you’ll see the blow-up from here a durned sight better than from
the boat,” said Satan.

“I want to see her innards when the deck’s off,” said Jude.

“Why, Lord bless me! you’ll have days to see them in,” said Satan, “and
there’s no knowin’ what may happen when the blow-up comes, what with
flyin’ timbers and muck. I’ll come back and bring you off when the
powder’s fired. I can’t say fairer than that.”

They got into the dinghy and shoved off, Jude watching them.

Sellers was waiting for them on the reef, and Cleary. Their boats were
on the strip of beach surrounded by the crews, and a couple of fellows
on the wreck were putting the last touches to the preparation of the
charge. Sellers was holding what seemed a length of thick white cord in
his hand.

“Here’s the fuse,” said he. “I had it left over with the barrel from
that last wrecking business we did in the fall. It’s a five-minutes’
fuse.”

“Oh, is it?” said Satan, handling the thing. “And where’s your
guarantee? S’posin’ it only takes a minute? And five minutes is none
too much for the man that fires it to get clear of the reef and put
out.”

“That’s true,” said Sellers, “and one of you will have to do the firin’
business, seein’ I’m lame.”

“What’s lamed you?”

“Fell on the deck this mornin’ over a slush tub one of them damn dagoes
left lyin’ in the dark. Near put my knee out.”

“Then Cleary will do the trick,” said Satan.

Cleary laughed. “Not me! I’m not lame, but it ain’t my job. Runnin’
over rocks don’t suit me, and I reckon the man that lays a light to
that thing will want to be a boundin’ kangaroo.”

“Instead of a damned ass like y’self,” said Satan. “Come on. I’ll light
it, I’m not afeard.”

They clambered over the rocks, crossed the rock bridge, and gained the
wreck.

The little barrel had been well and truly laid, the top almost flush
with the level of the stuff covering the deck.

“We got right through the deck plankin’,” said Sellers, “or to a
crossbeam. Wood’s most dry-rotted, and it’ll be a nacheral mercy if the
powder don’t blow the whole coffee shop to blazes right down to the
reef. Here’s the hole for the fuse.”

While they were examining the fuse-hole, Ratcliffe took notice of the
cuts radiating starlike from the charge-hole that had been made in the
deck-casing. When he turned again, Satan, with the aid of Sellers, had
fixed the fuse. The Spanish sailors who had been at work had taken
their departure and were already down by the boats, leaving only four
men on the wreck,--Satan, Sellers, Cleary and himself.

Satan rose up, clapped the knees of his trousers as if to knock dust
off them, and produced a yellow box of Swedish matches from his pocket.

“Look here!” said Ratcliffe. “It’s not fair. Let’s draw lots who’ll
fire the thing.”

“Not me,” said Satan. “I wouldn’t trust one of them two with a box of
matches, let alone a dollar. Now then, scatter for the boats!”

Then to Ratcliffe, as Sellers and Cleary made off, “Stand by ready to
shove the dinghy off when you see me coming.”

“All right,” said the other; “but I’ll stick by you if you like.”

“I reckon two don’t run quicker than one,” said Satan. “Off with you,
and, if I’m blown to blazes, look after the kid.”

When Ratcliffe reached the strip of beach the boats of the _Juan_ and
_Natchez_ had shoved off. He could see the figure of Carquinez at the
after-rail of the _Juan_ and Jude watching from the _Sarah_. He pulled
the dinghy down a bit more to the water and then, turning, looked at
the wreck.

Satan was standing against the skyline, now he was down on his knees,
and now he was up again. The fuse had evidently been fired, but he did
not move; stood evidently looking to see that it was burning properly,
and then moved off, walking, not running, and not even hurrying himself.

Then he came clambering over the rocks, reached the dinghy, and they
pushed off.

“Well, you are a cool chap,” said Ratcliffe. “I’d have run.”

“And broke your leg, maybe. There’s no danger unless a spark got at the
powder. The durned thing was sparkin’ and spittin’ like all possessed
when I left it. I reckon that’s why Sellers got cold feet. We’re out
far enough now.” He ceased rowing, and they hung drifting.

Ratcliffe looked round. The other boats were much farther out. The
tepid wind had almost died off, so that the flags on the _Juan_ and
_Natchez_ hung in wisps. They could hear the wash of the water on the
reef and the occasional lamentation of a gull. No other sound broke the
silence of the blue and gorgeous afternoon.

“Seems like as if everything was listenin’, don’t it?” said Satan,
wiping his forehead. “The bust ought to have come by this. Wonder if
the durned thing has fizzled out?”

A gull made derisive answer and across the satin smooth swell a hail
came from the _Juan_.

“That’s Cark,” said Satan, “makin’ kind inquiries, blister him!”

“There she goes!” cried Ratcliffe.

A jet of flame and a column of smoke sprang from the reef, followed by
a clap of thunder that could have been heard at Rum Cay.

Flying filth and deck planking filled the air, and on top of all came
the yelling of a thousand gulls.

The dinghy jumped as though from the blow of a great fist--then
silence, and over the reef a filthy dun-colored cloud of smoke curling
upward like a djin.

Satan seized the sculls and headed for the beach. The boats of the
_Juan_ and _Natchez_, already under way, were rowing as if for a
wager, but the dinghy had the lead. They beached her, hauled her up
a foot, and started over the rocks, running this time, heedless of
broken limbs, Satan leading like the bounding kangaroo of Cleary’s and
whooping as he went.

The rock bridge was still intact, but nearly the whole of the after
part of the deck was gone.

“Go careful!” cried Satan. He got down on hands and knees and,
crawling, followed by Ratcliffe, leaned over the break and looked.

Ratcliffe cried out in horror.



CHAPTER XXVI

THE CARGO


In that vast and gloomy interior the great beams showed like the ribs
of some eviscerated monster and the honest light of day fell sick upon
the cargo,--a cargo of skulls, ribs, vertebræ, and entire skeletons,
piled high, as though five hundred men had struggled aft for exit in
one mad rush and died heaped one upon the other like refuse. A charnel,
limy smell rose, poisoning the air.

“Good God!” said Ratcliffe.

“Slaver,” said Satan. “What did I tell you? _Nombre de Dios_ be
sugared! She’s an old slaver, wrecked with the men under hatches.
Here’s Sellers!”

Sellers, panting, his face all mottled, and followed by Cleary, had
gained the deck.

“Boys, what is it?” cried Sellers.

“Gold!” cried Satan. “Go careful, for the hull deck’s sprung. Get on
your hands and knees. Gold bars an’ di’monds--we’re all rich men!”

The pair of scoundrels, crawling like crabs, stuck their heads over the
break.

“Oh, hell!” said Sellers.

“Slaver,” said Satan.

Cleary spat. He was the first to laugh.

“This is putting it over on Cark, ain’t it?” said Cleary. “How many
dollars d’you think it’s cost our firm to blow the lid off this
damned scrofagus, to say nothin’ of the time? And he packed me off to
Pensacola to get me out of the way! Oh, send for him to have a look!”

“No use sendin’, he’s comin’,” said Satan, pointing to where the gig of
the _Juan_ was approaching the beach.

Carquinez crossed the rock-bridge and advanced along the deck,
clutching his old coat together and making birdlike noises. When he
reached the break, crouching like the others, he looked over.

The sight below did not seem to horrify him.

“Slaver,” said Satan for the third time, turning his head for a moment
from the objects that seemed to fascinate him.

“Pst, pst, pst!” said Carquinez. “Vel, I reckon dat is so.”

“No gold ship,” said Sellers.

“Maybe there was gold in the after-cabin,” suddenly broke in Cleary,
“and the niggers broke through the bulkhead and are on top of it.”

“Where’s your bulkheads?” asked Sellers. “There was no after-cabin to
the hooker. It was all one cattle boat below, with niggers for cattle.”

“That is so,” said Carquinez.

The old gentleman seemed taking his setback extraordinarily well; so,
too, seemed Sellers and Cleary. They were evidently used to reverses in
business, and treasure hunting was wildcat anyway, a thousand to one
against the chance of a colossal fortune.

“That is so,” said Carquinez. Then he proceeded to demonstrate what the
hold of a slaver was like,--men lying side by side and sometimes on top
of one another. There was no after-cabin, indeed nothing, no latrines,
no means of washing, nothing: just one vast sty without straw even for
the human beasts to lie on.

The officers and crew slept in deckhouses; sometimes the crew had
nothing to shelter them, sleeping on the bare decks.

Carquinez knew it all. His grandfather had been in the business, and he
mentioned the fact with a sort of pride.

Then he drew back from the break like a reptile balked and retreating;
rose to his feet, and stood contemplating the sea.

Satan rose also, as did Ratcliffe.

“I’m off,” said Satan. “This boneyard don’t please me any. Say, what
you goin’ to do?”

“Von moment,” said Cark.

“Which?” asked Satan.

“Cark means how about the contrac’?” said Sellers.

“Which way?”

“Lord! Why, we’re left, left with a cargo of skelentons, and you--why,
you’ve got a thousand dollars in your pocket.”

“There was nothin’ in the contrac’ about handin’ them back,” said
Satan; “b’sides the contrac’s bust. That thousand dollars was on
account of findin’s. Is it my fault the findin’s is skelentons? But,
see here, you give’s a few hours to turn the thing over, and come
aboard the _Sarah_ gettin’ along sundown, and we’ll have a clack. We’re
all in the soup, seems to me, and I’m not wishin’ to be hard on you.”

“We’ll drop aboard,” said Sellers.

Cleary said nothing.

After his outburst of laughter he had remained dumb.

“Well, I’m off,” said Satan. “I want a drink and that’s the truth. The
smell of them skelentons’s enough to start a Baptis’ minister on the
booze.” Then he turned to Carquinez. “What did I tell you, sittin’
in your cabin? Told you I didn’t bank on this business, maybe you’ll
remember that. Blast treasure liftin’! Leavin’ salvage aside, have
you ever seen an ounce of gold raised in all these years? There was a
hundred million lyin’ off Dry Tortugas--did they ever get it? How many
ships has been down to Trinidad huntin’ for the pirates’ gold? Knight
was the last man there--a lot he made of it! It’s only the chaps that
sell locations to mugs that make money over this business, it’s my
b’lief. Well, see you aboard later on.”

Off he went, Ratcliffe following.

As they came alongside the _Sarah_, Jude was hanging over the rail.

“What’s the luck?” cried Jude as they came aboard.

“Skelentons,” said Satan, “shipload of skulls an’ cross-bones. Slaver,
that’s what she was; dead men’s bones, that’s your treasure.”

“Lord! And I’ve never seen them!”

“Well, there’s nothin’ much to see,” said Satan, with the irritating
nonchalance of the one who has seen the show; “ain’t worth the trouble
of lookin’.”

“I want to see them skelentons,” said Jude.

“Tell you they ain’t wuth lookin’ at!”

“I want to see them--”

“Oh, well then, tumble into the boat, tumble into the boat, and I’ll
row you over.”

Ratcliffe watched while the dinghy passed over to the reef. He saw Jude
on the wreck, kneeling and poring over the cargo, held, evidently, by
the fascination that lies for youth in the horrible.

Then they returned, and Satan ordered the dinghy to be taken on board.

“Are you going to put out now?” asked Ratcliffe.

“Put out!” said Satan, with a grin. “Why, I’ve asked those fellers to
come aboard gettin’ on for sundown, and whether or no if I raised a
foot of chain they’d be on me with the first click of the windlass.
I tell you we’re in a tight place! Cleary said nothin’, you noticed
that, but he’s goin’ to have his forty dollars back if he knows how,
and Sellers is the same,--he wants his thousand. We’re held for one
thousand and forty dollars, and we’re not strong enough to fight them.”

“Well, see here,” said the peacemaker. “Pay them. I’ll stand the
racket. It’s only a little over two hundred pounds, and I’ll give you a
check.”

“You don’t get me,” said Satan. “It’s not the dollars I’m thinkin’ of
so much as the game. Cark played me a low-down trick lightin’ out for
here to scoop the boodle, and Cleary laughed at me with his old cod
boat outsailin’ us. They’ve got to pay. B’sides, if I was to hand over
that money, I’d never be able to show my nose again in Havana.”

“How so?”

“Why, them two would put the laugh on me, and it’d be ‘what price
skelentons’ wherever I went, see? I’d be the mug then. They’re the mugs
now, seem’ they’ve paid a thousand and forty for what they’ve got.”

“I see. But considering that they’ll be after you if you move, and that
we’re not strong enough to fight them, what’s to be done?”

“Well,” said Satan, “when they come aboard it’ll be either to get the
dollars back or fight. You’ve noticed I asked them to come, seein’
they’d have come whether I asked them or not. Well, if I can foozle
them into hanging on for their answer till tomorrow, I’ll give them the
slip tonight. Moon’s not up till late.”

“But they’ll hear you getting the anchor up and handling the sails!”

“Not with an ear trumpet,” said Satan, “if I can only foozle them into
waitin’ till tomorrow. Now then, Jude, lend a hand with the dinghy.”



CHAPTER XXVII

CROCKERY WARE


An hour before sunset, Jude, on the lookout, gave the alarm. “Sellers’s
getting ready to come off,” she cried.

Satan’s head appeared at the cabin hatch.

“Sure?”

“The boat’s alongside the _Juan_ full of dagoes, and Sellers and
Cleary’s gettin’ in.”

“Where did you stick that bottle of nose-paint?”

“Starboard forward locker.”

“One minute.”

In a minute the head reappeared and an arm holding the rum bottle.

“Now, mind you, I’m drunk,” said Satan, “fightin’ drunk, not to be
disturbed on no account. They can call again tomorrow morning.”

He smashed the rum bottle on the deck.

“Leave the pieces lyin’.” He vanished.

Jude looked at Ratcliffe and grinned.

“Rub your nose and pretend to be cryin’,” came a voice from below.

“What for should I be cryin’?” answered Jude.

“God A’mighty! I’ll show you if I get on deck! Ain’t I drunk and
cuttin’ up? What else would you be doin’? _I’ll_ larn you!”

A smash of crockery came from below that made the housekeeper spring to
the cabin skylight.

“Quit foolin’,” cried she. “I’m willin’ to rub the damn nose off my
head, but stop smashin’ the plates--what have you broke?”

Another plate went.

“I’m rubbin’.”

“Here they are!” cried Ratcliffe.

Jude’s nose did not seem to want any rubbing, nor her face. Descended
from generations of crockery worshipers and careful housewives,
instinctively hating Cleary, Sellers, Cark, and all their belongings,
feeling with perfect illogic that they had been done out of the
treasure by the “skelentons” somehow through Cark, she was convincing.
Satan with rare art had worked her up to the part. She was not crying:
her mind was raging above tears.

“Hullo, Kid!” cried Sellers, as the boat ground alongside and a filthy
ruffian with a handkerchief twisted round his head clawed on with a
boathook. “What’s the matter, Kid? What’s up with you? Where’s Satan?”

“Who’re you kiddin’?” cried Jude, as Sellers came aboard, followed by
Cleary. “Where the hull are your fenders? Comin’ cuttin’ the paint off,
you and your skullintons! Where’s Satan? He’s down below drunk as Billy
be damn and cuttin’ the lights out of the ship.”

“He’s been at the eyewash I was tellin’ you of,” said Cleary. “Look,
he’s broke a bottle of it. Lord! don’t the place stink?”

“Well, drunk or sober, he’s got to bail up,” said Sellers. “It’s my
belief he’s been spoofin’ us all along.”

“Spoofin’ who?” cried Jude.

“Cark an’ me.”

“Cark an’ you--that old leather face an’ _you_! Satan been spoofin’
you--pair of yeggmen! Satan’s straight, the on’y straight man in
Havana! Get off this ship! Come in the mornin’ if you want to try an’
rob him. Off with you now!”

“Why,” cried Sellers, half-laughing, half-angry, “what’s the matter
with the kid? What’s gingerin’ you up?”

The answer came from another smashed plate below.

Jude made one spring for a deck-mop standing handy, twirled it so that
the water sprayed from it in a rainbow, and brought it to the charge.

Cleary slipped over the rail.

“Off with you!” cried Jude.

“Put down that mop!” cried Sellers, now suddenly furious. “Put down
that mop, you braying little bitch! Go’n get inter your petticoats! You
ain’t a boy! I never b’lieved it, not for the last six months, an’ now
I know. You’ve give yourself away proper. Why, look at you, as round as
a tub--you’re a wumman!”

Ratcliffe looked on horrified. Jude, flushed and bright-eyed, had
somehow revealed her sex. In her excitement she looked for a moment
almost beautiful. Her tongue had done the rest. The smashing of the
plates had brought the woman out of her as a conjurer brings a rabbit
out of a hat.

“Put down that mop!”

Jude from rose color had turned awfully white; then with the élan and
dash of a gamecock she charged. The wet swab hit the ruffian full in
his flat face, and he fell on the deck with a bang.

In a second he was up and scrambling over the rail. Again she charged,
the swab meeting him this time full on his stem and sending him over
into the boat like a bag of oats.

A slush tub, fortunately half-full, and marked by her prescient mind,
was her next weapon. The contents caught Cleary full in the face, and
as the boat made off, the oars, all at sixes and sevens, wildly rowing,
she pursued it with the battery of her tongue till it was out of range.
Then she broke down and cried, sniffed, with her arm hiding her face,
and then flushed, like a thing of shame dived below.

Ratcliffe knew.

Her sex proclaimed aloud by the shameless Sellers was as a garment
stripped off her publicly. On the very first day Satan had stated her
case and she didn’t mind, though he, Ratcliffe, had been a stranger;
but it was different now, somehow. It was as if the end of her boyhood
had come. Sellers would no doubt proclaim the fact in Havana.

He heard voices from below.

“I don’t care if I’d killed him! Wish’t I had! Lea’ me alone--for two
cents I’d go drown myself! Look at them plates! You’ve broke the two
blue pattern ones an’ the chaney one with the bird on it, the best we
had, an’ not a cracked one touched! Hain’t you no sense?”

“Never you mind; I’ll get you some more.”

“I’m not wanting more. Them plates were mother’s--much you care! I’ve
gone as careful as walking on eggs with them, and now they’re broke
an’ the old Delf’ ones left. If you must be breaking and cutting
up, couldn’t you a broke the cracked ones? An’ where’s the sense in
breaking them anyhow?”

“Waal, I reckoned it’d liven you up hearin’ the crockery goin’.”

“Liven me up! Makes me believe you _have_ been getting at the rum to
hear you talk. Where’s the sense in all your doings,--ship stinking of
drink and all the crockery broke, and what’s the use?”

“I’ll show you after dark. I tell you I want to get away from those
thugs, and if I hadn’t headed them off pretendin’ to be drunk they’d
have gone through me.”

“Well, they’ll go through you right enough tomorrow morning.”

“No, they won’t.”

“Which way?”

“I’ll be gone.”

“Gone! Why, first click of the windlass and they’ll be aboard us.”

“You leave it to me.”

“Well, I wish we’d have went before you broke them plates.”

“Oh, cuss the plates!”

“Easy to say that. It makes me just nacheral wild to see that old Delf’
plate starin’ me in the face, round and sound, and the blue pattern
ones gone.”

Silence for a moment, at the end of which Satan’s head and bust
appeared at the cabin hatch.

He winked at Ratcliffe, and pointed backward with his thumb and down
below, as if indicating the domestic trouble.

“There’s no sign of them swabs comin’ off again?” asked he.

“No,” said Ratcliffe. “They seem to have had enough of it.”

The rum bottle had broken fairly in two without splinters.

“You might heave the bottle over, like a good one,” said Satan. “I
can’t show on deck for fear of those shrimps seein’ me. It’ll be dark
in an hour, and then I’ll be up. You can wait for your supper till we
get away?”

“Oh, yes,” said Ratcliffe; “I’m in no hurry.”



CHAPTER XXVIII

TIDE AND CURRENT


He lit a pipe. Having disposed of the fragments of the bottle, he got
the mop and a bucket of water and swabbed the rum-stained deck. Then he
took his seat forward and watched the sunset.

The great sun, half-shorn of his beams and bulging broad as Jupiter,
lolled above the reef in a sky of laburnum gold fading to aquamarine.
Gulls, dark as withered leaves, blew about him, and shifting here and
there to north and south became gulls of gold, while the wind blowing
up from the gulf and the westward running current, meeting the last of
the flood, broke the sea surface into a million tiny dancing waves,
momentary mirrors dazzling the eye with shattered light.

Lone Reef seemed well named. Dawn or sunset or the blaze of full day
could not take from its desolation, and this evening the sinister line
of the wreck dominated everything, turning the blaze of sunset to the
light of a funeral pyre.

The _Sarah_, moving to the swell, creaked and whimpered, and now and
then from below he could hear voices,--Jude’s voice and the voice of
Satan. Beyond that came the murmur of the reef and the clang of the
gulls, and now and again a snatch of Spanish song from the _Juan_.

Then the sun passed below the reef, the tide began to draw out, and
the _Sarah_, swinging to it, brought to his view the _Juan_ and the
_Natchez_, ships of dusk in a world of dusk powdered with star dust.
Presently a light was run up on the _Natchez_, then the _Juan_ put up
her riding light, then Satan appeared, a dusky form, rising from the
cabin hatch and followed by Jude.

They came forward. Jude squatted on the deck, and Satan drew close to
Ratcliffe.

“Now, if them skunks had any sense in their skulls, they’d stick out
a guard boat,” said Satan; “but I’ve fair put the hood on them, I
b’lieve, and they’ve never saw what I was after, pretendin’ I had no
oil for an anchor light. Why, they are only fit to be put out to nuss!
Half an hour more and we’ll be off.”

“How are you going to do it?”

“Knock the shackle off the anchor chain an’ let her drift. Tide an’
current is runnin’ four knots.”

“But even without the anchor light they’ll be able to see us by the
stars.”

“Lord bless you! at this distance they won’t be able to see mor’n a
glimpse of us. We’ll go so gradual they won’t notice. If they keep
a lookout at all,--which they won’t, ten to one,--he’ll see us by
believin’ we’re there.”

“Lord! I’d love to see their faces in the morning!” murmured Jude.

“But won’t they go for you when we get back to Havana?” asked
Ratcliffe.

“Not they,” said Satan. “They’ll say nothin’, seein’ as how they’re
done and the laugh’s against them. Why, Cark will respect me more for
this job than if I’d run straight with him over the biggest deal. If
it’d been the other way about and he’d pulled the dollars off me, I’d
have been nowhere with him. Mind you out here, if I was to stick here
till tomorrow, they’d be aboard and maybe manhandling us if I didn’t
bail up; but back in Havana the thing will be closed and the accounts
wrote off.”

The sound of a guitar came through the dusk, crossing the warm wind,
the lazy, languorous wind of a perfect summer’s night. Seville, which
he had never seen, rose before Ratcliffe, firefly-haunted orange
groves, lovely women all skewered together by the remembered words of a
ribald song.

    “When I was a student at Cadiz!”

“There goes old Catguts,” said Satan. “He’s the band aboard the
_Juan_,--Antonio, Alonzo, Alphonso--damn his name!”

“It ain’t,” said Jude. “It’s that old copper-patch Cleary’s got with
him. I’ve heard him in harbor. I gave him a plug of tobacco once for
getting me some bait, and he showed me the thing. It’s got a crack
in it or suthin’, and makes a noise like a skeeter in a jug,--kind
a fizzin’ noise between the plonks. He’s got an ulster on his leg
so’s you can see the bone. He took off the rags an’ showed me--he’s a
Portugee.”

“Well, it’s time to get busy,” said Satan. “Here, h’ist yourself and
lend a hand!”

Ratcliffe got more forward while they knocked the shackle off the
chain. There came a splash. Then the meeting resumed.

“If they heard that splash,” said Satan, “they’d put it down to a fish
jumpin’. Now you watch them lights.”

Ratcliffe watched the amber lights of the _Natchez_ and _Juan_. They
did not seem to alter position in the least. In the first of the
starlight and the last of the dusk the spars and hulls of the two
vessels could just be made out.

Then presently he saw that the lights had drawn a bit more aft and
seemed closer together. The feel of the _Sarah_ was different too, she
moved more freely to the swell.

The sound of the guitar seemed slightly fainter.

Now and then the beguiling sea would give the _Sarah_ a little slap, no
louder than the slap of a girl’s hand, on the low planking as if joking
with her over some secret shared in common.

Yes, the sound of the guitar was fainter, much fainter, and the
spars and hulls of the vessels now invisible as though they had been
dissolved in the gloom.

The anchor lights alone marked their places.

“We’re all right now,” said Satan; “but I’ll give them another five
minutes. Got the matches for the binnacle light?”

“Yes,” said Jude.

Five minutes passed, then they got the canvas on her, and Satan, at
the wheel, taking his bearings from the far-off lights of the betrayed
ones, turned the spokes.

“Where are you going to sail for?” asked Ratcliffe.

“Cormorant Cay,” said Satan. “I’ve a fancy to look at that place.”



CHAPTER XXIX

SATAN IN PARADISE


He had divided Ratcliffe and Jude into watches, port and starboard.

Jude turned in first, relieving him somewhere about two in the morning.
At six, when Ratcliffe turned out and came on deck, he found Satan at
the wheel, relinquished by Jude, and day pursuing the Sarah across a
wrinkled sea of tourmaline and hinted blue. Away ahead somewhere to the
south lay Cormorant Cay, the true tomb, if the chart indications were
correct, of the _Nombre de Dios_.

A strong sailing wind was blowing, and Satan gave their speed at seven
knots. He refused to hand over the wheel.

“I’ve had a snooze on deck,” said he, “while the kid took charge. We’re
nearly sixty miles south of Lone, and if this wind holds will be on to
Cormorant somewhere about eight bells.”

“Not a sign of those chaps,” said Ratcliffe, looking back over the sea,
clear of Cleary and Sellers and their dirty crowd.

“Naw; they’ll be just about rousin’ up now and rubbin’ their eyes.”

“You don’t think they’ll try to follow us?”

“Not likely, I don’t think. They’re wastin’ time and money if they
cruise after us. Cark’s got his business in Havana to attend to, and
Cleary’s the same. What’s gettin’ me is the fac’ that Sellers has
spotted the kid for what she is. It’ll be all over Havana, and she
knows it.”

“Well, it had to come out some time.”

“Maybe.”

“Look here, Satan!” said Ratcliffe. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the
girl and what’s to become of her. She can’t go on as she is. We must
fix up something.”

“That’s easy said.”

“Well, I’ve grown fonder of her than any person I’ve ever met, that’s
the truth. There’s no one like her; she’s gold right through.”

“She ain’t bad.”

“This sort of thing was all right when she was a child,” went on
Ratcliffe; “but she’s growing out of that. Why, even in the little time
since I’ve come aboard, she seems different, somehow.”

“Well, if you ask me,” said Satan, “you seem to have made a change in
her. She’s brightened up, somehow, has more sass in her. Y’see, when
we were cruisin’ round since Pap died, me, she, and the nigger, there
wasn’t much company, and she was gettin’ a bit down-hearted. Then, when
you came aboard, she picked up. She hadn’t laughed for weeks till she
saw you in that pajama rig; then she chummed onto you.”

“She did.”

“Liked you from the first minute she saw you. There’s no two ways
about Jude,--it’s either like or the other thing, right off.”

“Well, I’m pretty much the same--and I don’t want to lose sight of
her--or you.”

“How’d you mean?”

“Oh, just that. I’m bothering about when this cruise is over. That’s
bothering me a lot. Well, we’ll leave it at that for the present.”

Satan turned his lantern face to starboard for half a moment to
expectorate right over the starboard rail--maybe also to hide a grin.

“I reckon it’ll come all right somehow,” said he. “We ain’t much in
the world, but we’re straight. Reckon you’re straight too. That’s all
I want. That feller Thelusson, y’remember I told you he wanted to come
for a cruise with us. Well, he was straight enough s’far as dollars
went, but I wouldn’t have had him on this ship, not if he’d paid me
a dollar a minute and a bonus for every knot we made--not with Jude
aboard--Here’s the wheel for a sec’, if you’ll take it whiles I get
some coffee ready.”

Toward noon a wreath of gulls in the sky showed Cormorant.

Jude was at the wheel, Satan forward on the lookout.

Twenty minutes later Satan came running aft, fetched the old glass out
of its sling, and went forward with it.

“There’s a hooker on the sands!” cried he. “Looks like a small fruiter
or suthin’ hove up.”

Ratcliffe, standing beside him, could see nothing,--the sand, owing
to their low level, was invisible from the deck of the _Sarah_,--then,
straining his eyes, he made out a speck on the sea-line.

“Mast’s gone,” said Satan, “white painted, not more’n fifty ton, and
she’s layin’ in the lagoon. She must have come in over the sand where
it narrows to the westward. There’s a pinch of sand there that’s near
under water at flood, and the seas come right over it in an east’ard
gale.”

He handed the glass to Ratcliffe.

“Funny,” said Ratcliffe, “if you were right about the _Nombre de Dios_
being sunk here and we come to have a look for her and find another
wreck.”

“Well, I don’t take no shares in the _Nombre de Dios_,” said Satan.
“I ran here more for somewhere to run to than with any thought of the
_Nombre_. She’s a hundred foot under the sand if she’s here at all; but
it’s luck all the same. There’ll be pickin’s. There was a big blow two
weeks ago from the east,--that’s what’s done her,--and the salvage men
won’t be here yet, if they ever come.”

He stuck the glass to his eye.

“She’s a yacht, that’s what she is, one of them small cruisers, not
more’n fifty or sixty, and her fittin’s will just do for us, if she’s
not been stripped. There’s all sorts of folks come from New York and
Philadelphia and N’ y’Orleans, cruisin’ about these seas in tubs like
that,--fishin’ mostly.”

The _Sarah_ held on, almost due south, with the daring of a sea-bird,
Satan giving directions to the steersman and seeming absolutely
regardless of the death and dangers around them,--reefs that they
shaved, rocks that waved fathom-long ribbons of fuci a few feet under
water,--he avoided them all.

South, east, and west Cormorant Cay is devoid of danger. Only here to
the north do the reefs and rocks show, and it is just here that the
only entrance to the lagoon lies.

The place consists really of two sandspits widely separated to the
north so as to form a pondlike harbor running from five to ten fathoms
deep. Farther south the sandspits join so as to form a wide street,
like the spit to eastward of Lone Reef.

They held on. The sound of the gentle surf on the sands came now, and a
full view of the lagoon water reflecting the sun blaze like a mirror.

On the still lagoon, with strange stereoscopic effect seen between the
two sand-arms holding off the wrinkled sea, lay the craft, floating on
an even keel, and showing a stump of mainmast against the skyline. From
her lines she had been a yacht.

“Why, Go’ bless my soul, she’s anchored!” cried Satan. “Derelic’ and
anchored. The people must have got away in a boat or suthin’. There’s
not a sign of them. Port--hard--port--as you were--steady--so!”

He ran to let go the halyards.

Another anchor had been bent on to some spare chain. It was heaved
over, and the _Sarah_ came up to it, swinging less than fifty yards
from the stranger. She was a picture, a forty-ton fishing yawl, white
painted, gracile as a fish, dismasted, abandoned, and swinging to a
taut anchor chain; beyond her and the emerald of the lagoon lay the
great stretch of sands, running due south, blanketing to the heat and
showing ponds of aquamarine and storms of gulls.

The anchor down, Satan stood with his eyes fixed on his prey; Jude
too. They seemed considering her as a butcher might consider a carcass
before he cut it up.

“Aren’t you going to board her?” asked Ratcliffe.

“Have you ever seen a dead b’ar?” asked Satan. “Sometimes a b’ar isn’t
as dead as he looks, and sometimes a derelic’ isn’t as empty as it
looks. It’s a common thing for men on the Florida coast to hide in a
driftin’ canoe and rise up and laugh at them that come out to collect
it. I can’t make out that anchor chain bein’ down, and I’ll just give
them one hour whiles we have dinner.”

When they came on deck again after the meal, they dropped the dinghy,
and the three of them put off for the derelict.

She must have been dismasted outside the sands, for not a spar lay in
the water alongside,--dismasted and driven over by a big wave, her crew
clinging to her. On the bow was her name, _Haliotis_. They tied up and
scrambled on board. The deck ran flush fore and aft. The wheel looked
all right, but was jammed and immovable; the binnacle glass was smashed.

Satan stood, whistling and looking about him. Then he dived below,
followed by the others. The cabin had been left in good order. It was a
bit over-gilded and decorated for a plain man’s taste, but everything
was of the best, and a hanging lamp of solid brass still swung over
the center-table. The walls were of bird’s-eye maple, the cushions of
the best blue cloth, and the fittings of the tiny sleeping cabins to
match.

There was plenty of stuff lying about,--books, clothes, boots. The
people had evidently put off in a hurry, not caring much what they took
as long as they got away. Perhaps they had taken advantage of a passing
steamer.

Ratcliffe picked up a book, a volume of O. Henry. There was a name in
it,--J. Seligmann.

Jude, delving in the starboard after-cabin, came out holding up
something. It was a pair of boots, women’s, patent leather with white
suede tops and heels three inches high.

“Look at them things!” said Jude with a burst of suppressed laughter.

“A girl’s boots,” said Ratcliffe. “Try them on, Jude.”

“If I wore them things,” said Jude, “I’d have to walk on my hands.
There’s dead loads more of stuff, and the place smells as if a polecat
had been living there.”

Ratcliffe stuck his head into the little cabin. It reeked of California
poppy as though a bottle of it had been upset, California poppy and
cosmetic scents. Clothes were lying about in disorder; a woman’s white
yachting cap, deck shoes, lingerie, bursting like froth out of a cabin
trunk, gave added touch to the hysterical distraction of the scene.

One could see her, the woman, rushing about saving or collecting her
valuables, leaving everything else, and calling on the gods to witness
that she would never set foot again on another small yacht for a
pleasure cruise among the islands.

Jude picked out a frilled garment from the lingerie box, looked at
it, rolled it up, and cast it with a chuckle into the bunk, then she
reached up and opened the little port.

Ratcliffe left her pursuing her investigations, attracted by the whoops
of Satan, who seemed pursuing things about the deck.

Satan, with his hair wild and his eyes ablaze, had rapidly sampled his
treasure. Everything he wanted had been left. Had he found the _Nombre
de Dios_ with gold to her hatches, it is doubtful if his excitement
would have been so intense.

“Look at that!” cried he, pointing to the mast winch. “Wantin’
it--should think I had been! Come along and see!” He led the way
to a heap of raffle and broken spars forward. “Look at them gaff
jaws, galvanized an’ covered with hide, and me with old wooden ones
creakin’ like an old shoe! There’s a mainsheet buffer too! Camper
Nicholson’s--rubber--cringles--come along to the sail room!”

They went to the sail room, then to the galley,--everywhere finds,
glorious finds, with this rough sum total:

In the sail room, sixty fathoms of new manila rope, an eighty-foot
otter trawl, harpoons and grains and a seine net, a trysail, square
sails, two jibs; in the galley, cooking gear, an Atkey cooking stove
to burn coal or coke; in addition to all this some splendid blocks
with patent sheaves with ball bearings which run so much better than
dummies, a lower mainsheet block and two quarter-blocks, fathoms of
galvanized chain, and two Nicholson’s patent anchors. Other things
included lamps, a pair of binoculars, a sextant and a chronometer,
charts, and lastly, glorious but useless, in a little engine room
the auxiliary, a 13-15 horse-power petrol-paraffin Kelvin engine,
two-cylinder, with the shaft running out through the quarter, and a
spare Bergius propeller, which shuts up and opens out automatically
when in motion.

When they came on deck again after a rapid glance at these things a
brain-wave came to Ratcliffe.

“Look here!” said he. “Why not tow her back to Havana and claim
salvage? She’s worth a lot and she’s derelict.”

“Not me,” said Satan. “Have you ever claimed salvage? First there’s
the tow, and we’re underhanded. Then there’s the lawyers. What’s to
stop this Seligmann whoever he is poppin’ up an’ swearin’ against me.
He’d say he left her with the anchor down in harbor; it amounts to
that, though she’s derelic’ right enough. Not me! I’ll take what I want
without no lawyers to help me. She’s my meat, by all the laws of the
sea, and that’s the end of it.”

Appeared Jude from the cabin hatch, carrying as a trophy a go-ashore
hat she had unearthed from somewhere, a crushed-strawberry-colored
straw hat--or was it a bonnet? It had long strings and a rose stuck on
one side of it.

“Look what that catawampus has left behind her!” cried Jude.

“Quit your foolin’,” cried Satan, “and come along and lend a hand.
Here, h’ist these things into the dinghy!”

Jude flung the hat down the open skylight, and the rank burglary of the
_Haliotis_ began.



CHAPTER XXX

A SECRET OF THE SAND


It seemed to Ratcliffe in the days that followed that he had never
known what work meant before. That he, a wealthy and respected member
of the British upper, upper-middle classes, an ex-Christ Churchman, and
a member of Boodles, was assisting Satan Tyler in “tearing the tripes”
out of another man’s yacht, also occurred to him sometimes as a fact, a
distorted sort of fact, blurred and dimmed by the blazing and brilliant
atmosphere in which they were working, the absolute and shocking
loneliness that hemmed them in, Satan’s personality, and Jude’s
companionship.

By all the laws of the sea, according to Satan, these things were the
property of the first finder. That was all very well according to
Satan, and indeed according to what seemed common-sense; still, sea
law was for all he could tell not quite the same thing as the laws of
the sea, according to Satan. Though belonging to a great ship-owning
family, he knew nothing of the rights of the matter; but the business
they were engaged on seemed to him sometimes, when he cared to
think, most tremendously like larceny,--larceny excused by a lot of
considerations and made picturesque by environment; still, a business
that in the unpicturesque surroundings of the London Sessions would
undoubtedly have appealed to a judge in the voice of Larceny.

Sometimes he imagined a warship, one of those prying, officious little
cruisers that do police work, closing up with the cay and sending a
boat into the lagoon.

Sometimes he fell to wondering what Seligmann was like,--an American
surely, one of the Gulf haunters, belonging, most probably, to one of
the numerous clubs on the Florida coast, and Mrs. Seligmann--or was it
Miss--or not even that?

One thing was certain, Seligmann was rich. They were not robbing a poor
man.

At the end of the third day Jude gave out, not from weariness, but from
distaste.

“Lord! haven’t you had enough of this old truck?” said Jude. “I don’t
feel’s if I ever wanted to see a len’th of rope nor a cringle again.”

Ratcliffe felt pretty much the same.

“I’ll finish the business myself,” said Satan. “You can knock off if
you like. Go’n hunt for turkles’ eggs.”

“I’m going,” said Jude.

“I’ll come along, too,” said Ratcliffe.

Satan ferried them over to the sands. It was about two hours before
sundown, and an easterly breeze was blowing fresh and cool, shivering
up the lagoon water and whispering among the sand-grains.

Jude walked despondently as they trudged along close to the sea edge
and discovering nothing.

“D’you know,” said Ratcliffe, “we’ve never even started to hunt for a
sign of the _Nombre de Dios_? I wonder if she’s sunk, really, anywhere
near here?”

“I dunno,” said Jude; “don’t care, nuther. Satan’s so full of his pesky
old fittings he’s no time to think of anything else.”

“Cheer up, Jude.”

“I’m all right.”

“No, you’re not. What’s wrong?”

“Lots of things.”

“When we get back to Havana--” began Ratcliffe. She cut him short.

“I don’t want to go back to Havana,” said she. “Ain’t going.”

She sat down on the sands plump, nursed her knees, and stared over the
sea, casting her hat beside her. He stood for a moment, then he sat
down. He knew at once, knew what had been working in her mind for days.

“You’re bothering about what Sellers said, dirty scoundrel! I’d have
punched his head, only the whole thing happened so quick and you landed
him with that mop--don’t worry.”

No reply.

“What’s the good?” went on Ratcliffe; then cautiously and feeling that
he was treading on dangerous ground, “See here, there’s no harm in
being a girl, no more than there is in being a man.”

No reply.

A laughing gull passed and jeered at them. Jude followed it with her
eyes. She seemed almost unconscious of his presence and not to have
heard his words. He watched her profile against the sky, noticed the
eyelashes which seemed longer and more carved up than ever, the nice
shape of the head, free of the old panama.

Then she turned, leaned on her elbow, and looked up at him--then she
looked down.

“What made you think I was botherin’ about Sellers?” asked Jude.

“I don’t know,” said Ratcliffe, “I just thought it. I’ve been thinking
a lot about you--I care for you a lot, that’s about it.”

She looked up at him again, full in the eyes, and with a new expression
he had never seen before, a puzzled, half-startled look, like that of a
person suddenly awakened in strange surroundings.

Then her eyes fell away from him.

She took a handful of sand and let the grains fall between her fingers.

“Just that,” said Ratcliffe.

She was still playing with the sand, letting it fall between her
fingers carefully as though trying to count the grains. Then she threw
the stuff away, brushed the palm of her hand clean, and sat up. Drawing
a little closer to her, he put his hand round her waist, just as he had
done when they were on the sandspit, and just as on the sandspit, she
let it rest there--for a moment. Then, with a queer little laugh, she
removed the hand and struggled to her feet.

He rose up and they went on, without a word. Then presently they
began to talk about indifferent matters almost as though nothing had
occurred.

They found a nest of turtles’ eggs, and Jude marked it; farther along
they came upon something strange, a sort of platform half-covered with
sand. Jude said it was the foretop of a ship sunk and sanded over.

“It’s the _Nombre de Dios_, maybe,” said Ratcliffe.

“Maybe,” said Jude. “It’s the foretop of an old ship, anyhow. See,
where the mast’s broke off--she’s thirty or forty foot under that.”

“Not much good to us, even if she is the _Nombre de Dios_.”

“Not much.”

The gulls seemed to agree, and the little waves, falling crystal clear
on the beach.

It was near the end of the spit just here, and the sands shelved out,
losing themselves in the immeasurable loneliness of the sea stretching
to Mariguana and the Caicos and the northern shoulder of South America.

Jude, on her knees with a bit of driftwood, was scraping away the sand
from the edge of the sunk foretop, when something caught her eye.

A turtle had landed where they had marked the eggs. It was so far away
that it did not look bigger than a threepenny bit.

She flung the bit of driftwood away, rose to her feet, and started
running, taking the extreme sea-edge where the sand was hard. Ratcliffe
followed. They were half a minute too late, the turtle turning back to
the sea and leaving them spent and laughing. She got down on her knees
and hived the eggs in her hat still laughing. He helped, filling his
hat and his pockets, and then they started for the lagoon edge, Jude
suddenly in the wildest spirits. He had never seen her in such high,
good spirits. When they got aboard it was just the same. Even Satan’s
maniacal passion for old junk, expressed at supper in the determination
to spend two more days picking and scraping at the _Haliotis_, did not
depress her, it only made her laugh.

“You’ll be cryin’ before you’ve done if you go on laughin’ like that,”
said Satan. “What’s possessed you eh?”

Sure enough she was. The words acted like a pin on a bubble.

She flushed, pushed her plate away, half rose, and then sat down again.

“You’re always going on at me! Whatch’a want me to do? If I’m crying,
I ought to be laughin’, an’ if I’m laughin’ I ought to be crying! I’ll
laugh as much as I want--”

Then, logically, she broke into violent tears, rose, and ran on deck.

“What the hell-nation’s the matter with her?” asked Satan.

“I don’t know,” replied Ratcliffe.



CHAPTER XXXI

THE GO-ASHORE HAT


He had time to think over the matter as he lay in his bunk that night.

He fell to wondering, among other things, what the spell was that drew
him toward Jude and held him.

Was it the indefinable attractive quality that had made her mother a
“nacheral calamity” where men were concerned, or just the power of
youth? Scarcely the latter. He had met lots of youth in his time, and
it had not attracted him much; besides, when you have only to look into
the looking-glass to see youth, it is at a discount.

Puzzling over the matter, he came to the bedrock fact that Jude, in
some extraordinary way, had the power to make him feel more alive than
he had ever felt before.

Leaving other things aside, there were an honesty, faithfulness, and
simplicity about Jude that removed her from the category of bifurcated
beings and raised her to the level of a dog.

Instinct told him that this compound quality was worth more than all
the gold lying under the hatches of the _Nombre de Dios_, more than
all the diamonds in the Rand, when combined with that other quality
speaking in her level gaze,--steadfastness, the something that would
make her keep the wheel in all weathers.

But these excellencies would have been nothing without the
impossibilities with which they were allied,--social and conventual
impossibilities. The one reacted on the other, making an irresistible
whole combined with the something else that was Jude.

He remembered the queer little laugh with which she had freed herself
from his hand round her waist--then he fell asleep and dreamt that he
and Jude and a lot of larrikins were lying in wait by a harbor blue as
the sea off Jamaica, to clod bathing nigger girls; then he was chasing
Jude round and round a tree, only to catch her and find that she was
Carquinez.

When he got on deck next morning he found the ship deserted. The others
were away on the sandbank, and he amused himself by fishing till they
returned.

Jude showed no traces of the tears of the last night, and Satan was
elated. He had been examining the wreck-wood, and his experienced eye
backed the declaration of Jude. It was the foretop of a ship, right
enough, and, a hundred to one, so he declared, the foretop of the
_Nombre_.

Ratcliffe, wondering vaguely why he seemed so pleased over the find,
considering the sand conditions, asked him the chances of raising her.
Then said Satan, seeming to turn his gaze inward upon his awful and
profound knowledge of the sea and its ways:

“If you was to get all the dridgers from H’vana to Pensacola and
dridged till your eyes bugged out o’ your head an’ your tongue hanged
down to your heels, you wouldn’t clear her--siltin’--but she’s a sure
enough mug trap.”

“How do you mean?”

“Why, with that story and that chart an’ that old foretop, I could set
half Havana diggin’ like dogs for a bone, to say nothin’ of private
parties an’ syndikits an’ such things--maybe I will, too, some day.”

They put out after breakfast for the _Haliotis_ and another load of
“old junk.” Satan rowed back with it, leaving Jude and Ratcliffe on
board,--Ratcliffe collecting things forward, and Jude grubbing about in
the saloon.

Having collected the odds and ends in a heap, he turned his eyes to the
_Sarah_. Satan, having tied up the dinghy, was busy transhipping his
plunder. Then the beauty of the morning sea flooding into the lagoon,
held him for a moment. He followed the gulls in their flight, noted
the sudden break from emerald to ultramarine deepening to purple,
and beyond the reefs the sudden glitter of a leaping fish. Then he
remembered Jude down below.

He came to the companionway and down the stairs.

The cabin was brilliant with sunlight, with water reflections through
the open portholes playing on the ceiling and polished maple and
venesta of the walls. Across a pile of truck and bunk bedding heaped on
the table he caught a glimpse of the upper part of Jude.

Jude, fancying herself entirely alone, and yielding to some prompting
or other, had picked up the despised go-ashore hat and put it on;
she was looking at herself in the mirror fixed to the after bulkhead.
She was looking at herself with her head now straight and now tilted
slightly to one side; then the head turned, but she did not see
Ratcliffe: her eyes were still fixed on the hat, she was looking at it
sidewise.

All her unconscious movements might have been those of a lady in a
milliner’s shop trying on a hat in a critical spirit.

She had not heard him coming down the companionway, owing to the fact
that he was in his bare feet, and she did not hear him go up again.

On deck he took his seat on an old box upended close to the
mainmast stump, and considered the thing he had just witnessed in a
philosophical spirit.

It was like seeing a chrysalis crack and a butterfly’s wing protruding.

If Jude had not been admiring herself in that hat, then sight was a
liar and its evidence worthless. But Jude was as honest as the day.
She had greeted the thing with derision, brought it on deck to show
as an object of mirth, and flung it down the skylight opening with
contempt--yesterday morning.

What had happened since then to make her consider the thing at all, let
alone wear it before a looking-glass?

Had she put it on in derision and to see what a guy she looked? Not a
bit! She had made friends with that hat! Those few movements of the
head spoke of consideration not derision, in a language old as the
earliest feather headdress and more universal than Esperanto.

Then he remembered last evening on the sandspit and her sudden passage
from despondency to high spirits; he remembered her queer little laugh
as she removed his hand from round her waist,--had that been the sound
of the rift coming in the chrysalis casing?

For a moment he almost yielded to the desire to go below and see if the
butterfly had really arrived. Then he checked himself. There was time,
plenty of time; besides, Satan was putting off again in the dinghy for
another load.

Satan, over this business, like a man in drink or a lunatic, had his
hot fits and cold fits. A hot fit had suddenly come on him.

The petrol-paraffin engine had begun suddenly to shout to him that
it must be taken. A glorious idea, too, had evolved itself in his
brain,--why not fit it to the _Sarah_; not there in the lagoon,
of course, but in some port? All that was required would be some
structural alterations and a shaft-hole in the quarter; he reckoned the
fitting would cost under three hundred dollars.

He didn’t want the thing, really,--masts and sails were good enough for
his pottering-about work,--it was the passion of a woman for jewelry.
The _Sarah_ would be a nobbier boat with an auxiliary,--sea swank,
purely, exhibiting the only apparent weak spot in his character.

That spare Bergius propeller had begun revolving in his mind days
ago,--“thrud--thrud--thrud! See me drive the _Sarah_, see me drive the
_Sarah_!” He had examined the propeller already attached and found the
blades all broken. The shaft was intact, and, beaching the _Haliotis_
stern on in that quiet lagoon, it would have been possible to fit on
the spare one and take her off unmasted, as she was under her own
motive power.

He had a vague notion of the structure of engines and Yankee ingenuity
enough to have driven her, but the fact of her anchor being down, as
before stated, and the fact that he had already “torn the tripes” out
of her plundered the sail room and the store room, removed brasswork
that would have taken weeks to replace, and generally left her like a
scooped cheese, prevented an idea of salvage.

Taking the _Haliotis_ into port he would have to declare her like a
box of cigars,--a box of cigars belonging to another man and half the
cigars gone.

Coming over the rail, Ratcliffe saw the new light in his eye and
wondered what it portended.

“I’ve been thinkin’,” said Satan, taking his stand by the mast stump
and surveying the heap of stuff collected by the other, “I’ve been
thinkin’ it’s tomfoolery to leave that engine.”

Jude, brought up by the sound of the dinghy coming alongside, appeared
at the saloon companionway. She wore no hat.

“Good Lord!” said Ratcliffe, aghast. “You don’t mean to say--but it’s
impossible. We haven’t the means to take it.”

“There’s enough of the mast left to rig a tackle to,” said Satan, “and
that hatch leads right down to the engine place. The heavy fittin’s are
easy raised from the bed-plates, and they’re not too heavy to go in
the dinghy. We can tow her with the c’lapsible.”

“But what can you do with the thing?”

“Fit her to the _Sarah_, of course.”

“Here, in the lagoon?” asked the horrified Ratcliffe.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind if I had the hands and the tools for the job,”
replied Satan. “Naw, it’s beyont me. I’ll have to take her to a port to
have it done,--not Havana, neither: there’s too many eyes in Havana and
people that know my business. Vera Cruz is the place. I know a Spanish
yard there’ll do the job.”

“The year after next,” put in Jude, “supposing you do manage to get
it aboard, you know what the dagoes are, and you’ll knock the inside
of the _Sarah_ to flinders. She won’t be the same boat with that old
traction injin in her--I wish we’d never struck this cay!”

She sat down on the combing of the skylight and folded her hands.
Ratcliffe had never seen her do that before. He stood torn between two
things,--the desire to please Satan and the desire to please Jude.
Pulling on the side of Jude there was also the sure foreknowledge of
the heavy work that would be required. That did not frighten him; but
it did seem to him that they had done enough and ought to be satisfied.
It was like burglars going for the kitchen boiler after having removed
the plate, furniture, and very bed-linen of a house.

All the same he could not but admire Satan. Time was pressing, it was
quite possible that a salvage boat might poke her nose into the lagoon
at any moment. Satan knew this as well as he, yet it did not move him.

“It’s not a dago yard,” said Satan, evading the traction engine dig,
“it’s French, and I’ve been wanting an auxiliary for years. Pap was
with me, only he was awful slow over business, and here’s one for nix.
I’m goin’ down to have a look at her.”

He dived below.

Jude sat brooding.

“Never mind,” said Ratcliffe. “It’s not a big engine, and he and I will
be able to do it with a tackle. I’m not going to let him put you to
work on it.”

“I’m not bothering about that,” said Jude fatefully. “It’s when it’s
fixed up I’m thinking of.”

“How?”

“He’ll make me drive the durned thing.”

“No, he won’t.”

“What’s to stop him?”

“Oh, lots of things--leave it to me.”

He was cut short by Satan’s voice calling him to come below. Down below
he had to follow all sorts of details pointed out, details proving the
desirability of the prize and the miraculous ease of its removal.

Then they came on deck and put off for dinner. But Satan was never
destined to lift that engine. Fate had fixed it to its bed-plates more
securely than screws and nuts could hold it.



CHAPTER XXXII

CLEARY!


Dinner was over and Jude had run up on deck. Suddenly her voice came
down through the open skylight.

“Below there! Cleary’s coming!”

Satan jumped from his place like a man shot. Next moment he was on
deck. Jude pointed and handed him the binoculars she had been using.

“That’s them!” said Satan, after a long look. “Cuss the swabs!”

He handed the glasses to Ratcliffe.

Away to the north two sails cut the sea-line. With the aid of the
glasses two vessels leaped into view,--a topsail schooner and a smaller
vessel of fore-and-aft rig. Even with the glasses he could not have
been sure that these were the _Natchez_ and the _Juan_ like a pair of
evil dogs hunting in company; but Satan was sure, so was Jude.

“They’re coming dead for the cay,” said Jude. Satan said nothing.

He had been filling his pipe when the hail came, he lit it now, walked
to the starboard rail to be alone, and stood with his eyes fixed on the
_Haliotis_.

The position was as bad as could be. First of all, these ruffians would
be sure to make him bail up even more than he had had out of them;
secondly, they would have the laugh at him and post him as a mug all
over Havana; thirdly, they would give him away about the _Haliotis_, if
they discovered how he had plundered her.

Having smoked for a moment in silence, he turned to his companions.

It was a boast of Satan’s that he had never lost a spar, a fact partly
due to luck, partly to his foreseeing eye; like a good general, he had
plans for all eventualities.

“They won’t be in the lagoon for a couple of hours,” said he, “with
this wind and all. Come on aboard the old tub.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Jude. “Sink her at her moorings?”

“No time; besides, they’d see her on the lagoon floor. It’s up anchor
and let her drift on the sands.”

“What’s the good of that?”

“Oh, Lord! Don’t stand jibberin’! I’ve got my plan. Into the dinghy
with you!”

They rowed over to the _Haliotis_.

The one thing that Satan had not coveted was, mercifully, the winch;
it was of the type of the West Country winch, and not a spot on Pap’s
patent, at least in Satan’s eyes.

They set to, got the anchor in, secured it, and rowed back to the
_Sarah_. Then they watched the _Haliotis_ drift. The tide was going
out. She was close to the eastern arm of the spit, and that arm had a
bead in it toward the narrowing entry.

Satan reckoned she would take the sand a hundred yards or so from the
entry, and he reckoned right.

But they had no time to watch her. The deck of the _Sarah_ was lumbered
with stuff that bad to be stowed out of sight. It took an hour before
everything was shipshape and snug, and by that time the oncomers were
close in, their sails big bellied with the wind, beating up for the
entrance.

They came through, the _Juan_ leading, the _Natchez_ some two cable
lengths behind; then, with canvas threshing and the gulls yelling
round them, they dropped their anchors, the _Juan_ to starboard of the
_Sarah_ and the _Natchez_ farther up the lagoon. Ratcliffe had expected
demonstrations of hostility: there were none.

They could see Sellers directing the fellows forward, and they could
make out Cleary on the deck of the _Natchez_. Then they saw Sellers
drop below, and through the binoculars they could see Cleary as though
he were only a few yards off,--he was smoking and giving orders to the
hands. Then he came and spat over the rail and stood looking toward the
_Sarah_ with his eyes shaded; having finished this inspection, he too
dropped below.

“I’d a sight sooner they’d shook their fists at us,” said Satan. “They
know they’ve got us, sure.”

Then Sellers reappeared on the deck, and the _Juan_ dropped a boat.

“Here he is,” said Jude, “and whether he’s got us or whether he
hasn’t, he ain’t coming aboard this ship!”

She ran forward and fetched the mop from the hole where it was stowed.

“Let up!” said Satan. “I don’t want no fightin’: I tell you, I’ve got a
plan; I don’t want no mops in it.”

“He ain’t coming aboard,” said Jude.

As the boat of the _Juan_ came alongside, Sellers, in the sternsheets,
raised his hand in a lordly fashion and slightly, as befitted a
superior taking notice of an inferior.

“Hullo, Satan!” cried Sellers as the bow oar hooked on.

“Hullo, yourself!” replied Satan. “What you doin’ down here away?”

“Tell you when I get aboard,” said Sellers. “Why, there’s the kid!
Hullo, Kid!”

“Claws off!” cried Jude. “You try to come aboard and I’ll land you with
this mop! You can talk from the boat.”

Sellers sat down again in the sternsheets.

“She won’t let you aboard,” said Satan, speaking as though Jude were
not present. “You shouldn’t have sassed her the way you did over there
at Lone.”

“I’m sure I beg your pardon,” said Sellers. “I’m trooly sorry to have
trod on a female’s sussuptibilities; but what I’m wishin’ to say is
this, and it’s as easy said from here as on deck: You’ve got to come
aboard the _Juan_, you and that thousand dollars you’ve had from Cark,
to say nothin’ of the coin you’ve had from Cleary, an’ be tried by C’t
Martial, an’ take your sentence. If you don’t, I’ll board you, me
and Cleary, an’ go through your ship, an’ fling the lot of you in the
lagoon--d’you take me? I’m not funnin’.”

“I’ll come,” said Satan. “I want to have a talk with Cark anyhow.”

“And he wants to have a talk with you.”

“Right. Off you go, and I’ll follow.”

“Swab!” said Jude, “are you going to pay them that thousand dollars
back? I’d sooner chuck it in the lagoon!”

“I’d pay a thousand dollars to see Cark done in the eye,” replied
Satan. “Where’s the damage? I’ve hived more than two thousand dollars’
worth of stuff off that blistered derelic’. You leave them cusses to
me.”



CHAPTER XXXIII

THE FIGHT


As they watched Sellers pulling back they saw the _Juan_ drop a boat.

“Hullo!” said Satan.

He put the glass to his eye.

“Cark’s coming off. He’s in the sternsheets, him and his patch--what’s
up now?”

The two boats approached one another, and then hung together, evidently
in consultation. Then the oars took the water and they approached the
_Sarah_, Sellers leading. Satan, who had found a piece of chewing-gum
in his pocket, put it into his mouth and began to chew, leisurely, like
a cow on her cud, while he watched the approaching boats.

“What you want?” shouted Satan when they were in speaking distance.

“Cark says you’re to come aboard right now,” replied Sellers. “You’ve
played him one trick, and he don’t want you to play him another.”

“Oh, don’t he?”

“No, he don’t.”

Satan spat into the water alongside and leaned comfortably on the rail.
Carquinez was as close to the _Sarah_ as Sellers, yet he spoke no
word, leaving his deputy to do the talking, and contenting himself with
making occasional birdlike noises.

“Well,” said Satan, ruffled, for all his appearances of calm, “you can
tell him I’ll come when I want to, and that won’t be before tomorrow
morning, for his damn cheek! Ahoy there, Cark! Ain’t you got a tongue
in your head?”

“He’s like a blessed canary bird,” cut in Jude. “Hi, there, Sellers!
what you done with the cage?”

“Is that your ultermatum?” demanded Sellers, ignoring Jude and
addressing Satan.

“My which matum?”

“Is that all you gotta say?”

“Oh, Lord, no!” said Satan.

“Well, then, out with it!”

Ratcliffe had never seen Satan “het up” till now, as, straightening
himself and gripping the rail, he let out:

“Gotta say? Why, if I’m sayin’ from now to the end o’ next week, I
couldn’t say the beginnin’ of my opinion of you, right from the truck
of Cleary’s old cod boat to the keel o’ that old disgrace you ripped
of her guts when she was a yacht--you an’ your crew of cockroaches an’
dagoes--right from the soles of Cleary’s flat feet to the end of your
bottle nose--you and your ultermatum!

“That’s all. I haven’t time to be wastin’ on you. I’ll come if I have a
mind to and when I want, without waitin’ for your orders--now scatter
yourselves!”

“Right,” said Sellers.

He gave an order to the boat’s crew, and the boat turned, and, followed
by Carquinez, made back to the _Juan_.

Satan, his hand on the rail, watched them, still chewing.

Not a word spoke he, the bulge in his cheek steadfast against the
skyline and his eyes fixed on the boats.

Then he suddenly turned.

“Them thugs will try to board us now,” said Satan. “We’ve gotta fight.
There’s Cleary puttin’ off, and we’ll have the whole Noah’s ark on us
in two ticks. We’ve gotta get the ammunition ready.”

“There are guns down below,” said Ratcliffe.

“Guns!” said Satan. “God bless you, we don’t want no guns! Cark’s too
frightened of the law to let any of his men use knives or pistols.
Jude, where’s that tub of stinkin’ bait--you haven’t hove it over, have
you?”

“Nope.”

“Cart it along. Rat; fetch up them five bottles of whisky,--they’re
better’n bumshells,--and there’s an old fryin’ pan in the galley with a
hole in it. Fetch it with the rest. There’s nothin’ like a fryin’ pan
for beltin’ people--you can’t miss. What you gettin’ at Jude?”

“The mop,” said Jude. “I don’t want nothing better for sweepin’ up
rubbish!”

“Well, maybe; but they’ll fight better’n you think. Lord! if I only had
a roll of barb wire! Here they come! Hurry up, Rat!”

The three boats, Sellers and Cleary leading, were in motion and making
for the _Juan_.

“We’ve only two to reckon with,” said Satan, as Ratcliffe arrived,
Jude helping him up with the ammunition. “Cark won’t join in: he’s too
frightened of his skin. Now then, ready with your weapons!”

He was right. Cark’s boat, half a cable-length away, backed water while
the redoubtable Cleary and Sellers rushed like hawks on the prey,
aiming to board the _Sarah_ to starboard, Cleary forward, Sellers aft.

But the men at the oars were not used to this sort of work. In their
enthusiasm and despite the curses of their captains, they held on too
long, nearly smashed the boat’s bows against the side of the _Sarah_,
and fell into wild confusion trying to get their oars in under the
bombardment from the deck. Over the clamor of the gulls rose the shrill
curses and shouts of the dagoes, the whooping of Satan, the smashing of
bottles, while over all the perfume of bad fish and poisonous whisky
rose like the fume of the fight; but the attackers held, held by teeth
and claws and boathooks, while the wily Carquinez, on the fringe of the
fight, voiceful for once, standing up and clutching his coat together,
shouted directions--unheeded as unheard.

Twice Sellers was almost on board, and twice Jude’s mop sent him head
over heels back; but now Cleary had made good forward, backed by two of
his crew, and while Jude, rushing to Ratcliffe’s aid, drove him back
with the mop in the pit of his stomach, Sellers, eyes shut, head down,
and fighting Satan like a mad bull, gained the deck, gripped Satan,
slipped, fell, and rolled with him in the scuppers. Three dagoes had
followed Sellers and flung themselves like dogs on the stragglers;
but now Jude and Ratcliffe, free for a moment, flung themselves on the
dagoes, broke the fight, freed Satan, and sent the whole lot bundling
over, Sellers and all--only to find that Cleary had made good again,
and after Cleary half his boat’s crew.

Led by Satan, who had seized the frying pan, the defenders hurled
themselves on Cleary.

Satan was right, you can’t miss with a frying pan. Cleary went down
before it. Ratcliffe, using only his fists, had floored the biggest
of the dagoes, and the rest were crowding back helter skelter, when a
shout from Sellers, who had regained the deck, brought the battle to a
pause.

“Stop fightin’, you damn fools!” cried Sellers.

“Lord! Look!” cried Jude.

The port side of the _Sarah_ was turned to the entrance of the lagoon,
and into the lagoon was gliding a long, lean destroyer, shearing the
blue-green water from her fore foot.

Being to starboard, the attackers had not seen her, and the men on deck
had been too busy.

Carquinez alone had sighted her. The effect was magical. Peace fell
like a suddenly dropped dish-cover, and over the rail came Carquinez
and half a dozen more Spaniards from the boats.

“Now we’re done!” said Sellers. “She’s a Britisher, and this damn
sandbank’s British and we’ll be had to the Bahamas Courts o’ Inquiry
and Lord knows what all. Referred to Havana for inquiries. They’ve
seen us at it, no use in denyin’ it. Look at them cusses’ bloody noses
and Cleary flattened out. Kick him alive, some of you fools! Here they
come!”

The destroyer had cast anchor and dropped a boat. With the terrible
precision of a hawk or a warship closing on its prey, she was on to the
_Sarah_. A blue and gold man held the yoke lines, and the oars of the
rowers rowed like one.

“Look at that image on the sternsheets,” said Sellers.

“Leave him to me,” said Satan.

“What’s your game?”

“Shut your head! Here he is!”

The boat came alongside. The oars rising like one, fell with a crash,
the bow oar hooked on, and over the rail came a sublieutenant of the
British Navy, smooth of face and neat as though just taken from a
bandbox.

“What the devil are you fellows up to, fighting here?” asked the
sublieutenant.

Satan broke into a laugh.

“We’re movie men,” said Satan.

“You’re what?”

“Movin’ pictures.”

“Oh--cinematograph?”

“That’s it.”

Ratcliffe, fired with admiration for this Satanic move, joined in
laughing.

“Did you think we were fighting, really? Well, that’s funny. What’s the
name of your ship?”

“The _Albatross_,” replied the sublieutenant, completely and roundly
taken in. “You’re English, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m English. Joined the show some time ago.”

“What’s that hooker on the sand over there?”

“Oh, that’s part of our show. Boat supposed to have been wrecked--these
chaps are pirates.”

“Jolly good make-up!” said the other, surveying the pirates and taking
in Cark, also Cleary, who, resuscitated in time, was leaning over the
rail chewing and spitting into the water.

The awful question, “Where’s your camera?” never came. If it had, Satan
would no doubt have met it; but the sublieutenant was new to this sort
of business and not on the hunt for evidence. The thing was palpable
and plain. No complaint came from the attacked, and attacked and
attackers were all seemingly friends. The words “cinematograph company”
covered the situation completely.

He gave a few words of information about the _Albatross_. She had put
in for a small repair and would be off again tomorrow morning. Then he
dropped into his boat and the incident was closed.

“Now, you cusses,” said Satan, “see where you have landed yourselves!
Where’d you have been only for me?”

“Well, I don’t deny you slipped the hood over that Britisher pretty
smart,” said Sellers.

Cleary turned his head and looked at Sellers. “_You_ don’t deny! Why,
you bloody barnacle scraper, I told you to hold off from the business!
Satan, I forgive you that clap on the head. Lord love me! I’ll never
carry a derringer again. Give me a fryin’ pan, that’s the weppin; you
can’t dodge it no more than you can dodge a thunderstorm.”

“Well,” said Satan, “fryin’ pan back the lot of you, and I’ll be on
board the _Juan_ inside half an hour and settle my business with you.
If Cark had kept his mouth shut instead of givin’ me orders, we’d have
finished it by now and no heads broke.”

“We’ll be waiting for you,” said Sellers.

They tumbled into the boats and rowed off.

“They never drew a knife,” said Ratcliffe.

“Oh, Cark took their knives from them,” said Satan. “He didn’t want no
blood spillin’ and trouble,--too much afraid of the law.”

Jude, who had collapsed sitting-wise on the deck, began to laugh
hysterically.

“What are you laughin’ at?” demanded Satan.

“I dunno,” said Jude.



CHAPTER XXXIV

“I’LL TAK!”


Ten minutes later Satan and Ratcliffe boarded the _Juan_. Cleary was
already on board, down in the cabin with the others; Cark and a bottle
of gin were presiding at one end of the table. Satan, with a nod to the
company, came to the table and took his seat; motioning Ratcliffe to
take the seat opposite to him.

It was like a meeting of a board of directors, and the table just held
the six comfortably.

What followed struck the unaccustomed Ratcliffe with astonishment,--the
amiability of it,--it might have been a card party, with Satan the
loser--momentarily.

“Well, gentlemen,” said Satan, “what’s to pay?”

There were extra glasses on the table and a box of cigars. The cigars
were pushed along by Sellers as he spoke.

“There’s Cark’s loss of time,” said Sellers, “not to say mine and
Cleary’s. We tried for you round Rum Cay when you gave us the slip, and
then there was the run down here. A thousand dollars to us that means,
and five hundred to Cleary.”

“Makin’ it two thousand five hundred and forty,” said Satan. “I’m
agreeable--and the derelic’ is mine.”

“Which derelic’?” asked Sellers innocently.

Satan, absolutely disdaining to reply, lit a cigar.

“She’s worth all ten thousand dollars,” said he, “and what’s the
salvage on that?”

“Y’mean that old dismasted catboat stuck on the sand there?” said
Cleary. “Not worth five--b’sides she’s our meat.”

Satan dropped Sellers and turned to Carquinez. “You’ll maybe explain,”
said he. “You know the rights of the law. If you try to collar that
hooker, I’ll come in with first claim, and here’s a gentleman will back
me in law expenses. You know him,--Mr. Ratcliffe, Holt & Ratcliffe.”

“I’ll back you,” said Ratcliffe.

“And it seems to me law is not your lay, Cark,” went on Satan. “We came
in here yesterday and boarded and claimed that hooker, and I was fixing
the tackle for towing when you blew along. The thing’s as clear as
paint. She’s ours for salvage, and you’re not in it.”

“Look here!” began Sellers violently--then he closed up: Cark had given
him a kick under the table. Then there was silence for a moment, during
which these two scoundrels seemed to brood together telepathically.

Then Cark spoke, addressing Satan.

“Will you take the air on deck for wan moment with your friend?” said
Cark.

“Sure,” said Satan.

A few minutes later they were called down again.

“See here,” said Sellers, acting as spokesman for the others, “we
don’t want to bear hard on you, but we’ve been at a big loss over this
business.”

“And who let you in for it?” asked Satan. “Haven’t you been chasin’ me
since last fall over the _Nombre_? Was it my fault she weren’t there?”

“Well, anyhow we’re losers. But I’m coming to the derelic’. You’ll
never be able to do the tow with the _Sarah_--why, the _Sarah_ ain’t
bigger than her, and you’re underhanded anyhow.”

“That’s so,” said Satan.

“Well, what I propose is this,” said Sellers. “We’ll drop claims for
the run down here and only ask a thousand and forty of you, and you
drop claims on the derelic’.”

Satan laughed.

“Maybe you don’t know she’s got an auxiliary in her worth four thousand
dollars if it’s worth a cent. She’s broke her propeller, but she’s got
a spare one on board, and if I knew anythin’ of injins I’d drive her
back on her own power. No, I sticks to the derelic’ if that’s the best
you can offer and here’s your dollars--though I’ll have to give you my
check for the extra money.”

He produced a bundle; then, with his hand on it:

“If you choose to take the derelic’ for what she’s worth and call it
quits. I’ll trade, one or the other. I’m not set on that tow. But there
you are; you know the chances.”

“I’ll tak!” suddenly broke in Carquinez, and the business was ended.



PART III



CHAPTER XXXV

THE VANISHED LIGHT


A week later, toward sundown, the _Sarah_ came up the half-mile channel
and dropped her hook in Havana Harbor close to the old anchorage of the
_Maine_. A Royal Mail boat passing out gave her the kick of its wash
as she settled down to her moorings, a customs boat dropped alongside,
and the customs men, hailing Satan as a friend and brother, came aboard
and transacted business with him in the cabin. The wind blew warm,
bringing scents and sounds across the vast harbor, fluttering the flags
of the shipping, and Ratcliffe, standing at the rail, dazzled by the
brilliance of the scene before him, knew that his cruise was over.

It was like coming to the end of a book,--a volume suddenly handed to
him by Fate to read, and of which he was condemned to write the sequel.

He remembered the morning at Palm Island when he boarded the _Sarah_
first, and the picture was still fresh in his mind of the _Haliotis_
as they had left her in the lagoon at Cormorant, Sellers and Cleary
and their men swarming about her and tinkering her up. They intended
to ship the spare propeller and bring her along under her own motive
power to the nearest port, Nassau in the Bahamas.

They had been so busy with the engines and the hull that they had never
noticed how completely she had been stripped. They were unconscious of
the fact that she had been left with her anchor down--unfortunates! He
could still see them like ants laboring in the sun, at the task set to
them by the grimly humorous Satan.

Satan had won the game they had forced on him, holding, as he did, a
thousand and forty dollars, the “tripes” of the _Haliotis_, and the
secret of the mug trap, to be disposed of, perhaps, later on for a
consideration. Satan would, no doubt, set other unfortunates digging
for the _Nombre_ just as he had set Cleary and Sellers tinkering and
towing at the _Haliotis_, just as he had held up freighters for a bunch
of bananas, just as he had made Thelusson and his crew careen and
scrape the _Sarah_, just as he had made Ratcliffe an accomplice in his
plans and a handy man to help him in his works; yet the funny thing
about the scamp was the fact that he was absolutely dependable, when
not dealing with companies or governments or derelicts. Ratcliffe would
have trusted him with his last penny.

Dependable if you took hold of him by his handle and not by his cutting
edge! Trustable if you trusted him!

Then Jude came up in her harbor rig; that is to say, boots and a coat.

“Satan’s clacking away with the customs an’ the port doctor man,” said
Jude. “You can’t see across the cabin with the smoke, and I had to
change my rig in the galley.”

“You going ashore?” asked Ratcliffe.

“No,” said Jude, “Satan’s going. I’ve got to keep ship. You going with
him?”

“I suppose so.”

Appeared Satan, followed by the port men, who tumbled into the boat and
rowed off.

“Goin’ ashore?” asked Satan. “Well, I’ll row you to the wharf after
I’ve had a bite of supper. Jude’ll bring the boat back, and we can get
a shore boat off for half a dollar.”

Half an hour later, just as the electrics were springing alive and the
anchor lights of the shipping marking the dusk blue sky, they started.
They stood on the wharf steps for a moment watching Jude row off, then
they turned to the town.

Havana smells different from any other seaport. She smells of rum and
garlic and dirt and cigars and the earth of Cuba, which is different
from the earth anywhere else. The harbor and the town exchange
bouquets; the negroes help; Spanish cigarettes, Florida water and
decaying vegetables lend a hand. Satan led the way. He knew the place
as well as the inside of his pocket, and as he trudged along beside
Ratcliffe under the electrics across plazas, or through short-cut
cut-throat-looking byways, he pointed out the notable features of the
place,--Dutch Pete’s, the Alvarez factory, the great opera house, the
Calle Commacio, the cathedral.

They passed Florion’s with its marble tables, drinkers, and domino
players, and Satan suddenly hove to.

“Where d’you want to go now?” said Satan. “D’you want drinks?”

“No, I don’t want drinks,” said Ratcliffe. “Come over here.”

A blazing cinema palace shone across the way, and they entered,
Ratcliffe paying.

The place was in black darkness. A cowboy shooting up a bar was on the
screen, and a man with an electric torch led them to their seats.

Then they sat watching the pictures, Satan criticizing the actors
sometimes, and in a loud voice and not always favorably. The cowboy
shot himself off the screen, the lights flared up for half a minute,
went out, and the pictures resumed.

Ratcliffe felt a nudge, and in the darkness Satan’s voice, muted now,
came in his ear.

“Say,” whispered Satan, “did you see him?”

“Who?”

“The man that dropped you at Pa’m Island.”

“Skelton!”

“That’s him. He’s sittin’ right a front of you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure as sure.”

Skelton here! But where, then, was the _Dryad_? Had he wrecked her, or
what?

The words of Satan seemed to alter everything, from the music to the
picture of John Bunny on the screen.

The darkness, filled with native Havana scents, became tinged with the
atmosphere of British Respectability. Skelton at the pictures! Why, he
ought to have been at the opera or one of the theaters or walking on
the _alameda_ digesting his dinner and thinking of Tariff Reform or
Anglicanism. It seemed impossible; yet when the light flared up again
there was Skelton, sure enough, sitting with another man, and now he
was rising, evidently tired of the show, and passing out, followed by
his friend, grave as though he had been attending his mother’s funeral
instead of the marriage of John Bunny to Flora Finch in a Pullman car
with negro accompaniments.

He wore evening clothes, covered by a light overcoat. Ratcliffe rose
and, followed by Satan, pursued him, touching him on the shoulder
outside and in the full blaze of the lamps.

“Good God!” said Skelton. “Ratcliffe!”

“Just got in,” said Ratcliffe. “Had a ripping time. Where’s the
_Dryad_?”

“Up at the wharf, coaling,” replied Skelton, absorbing Ratcliffe’s
rough and ready garb, the cloth cap he was wearing, and Satan. “I’m
staying at the Matanzas; but I go aboard tomorrow morning, and we’re
off in the evening. What have you been doing with yourself?”

“Oh, having no end of fun. We found an old treasure ship and blew her
up and found she was full of skulls and bones. You know Satan?”

Skelton, who had ignored Satan, acknowledged his existence by a little
nod.

“Who’s your friend?” asked Ratcliffe, glancing at Skelton’s companion,
who had removed himself a few paces.

“Ponsonby--diplomatic service. See here, come on board to lunch
tomorrow--one-fifteen.”

“Right.”

“I have some gear of yours.”

“Right. I’ll see about it.”

“’Night.”

“’Night.”

Off he went.

They had seen enough of the pictures, and having no inclination for
cafés or taverns or gambling shops they made back toward the wharves,
Satan walking in profound silence, Ratcliffe thinking.

The whole evening he had been followed by a miserable sort of
half-depression. It had attached itself to him first on the deck of
the _Sarah_, born of his return to civilization; it had managed to
decolorize the past few weeks and demagnetize Jude.

His conscious mind had never quite gauged the hold that Jude had
managed to get upon him, and this subconscious devil, rising at the
touch of civilization, like a gas bubble from his conventional past,
had burst, with spoiling effect, robbing the _Sarah_ of her romance and
sea-charm and the past few weeks of their brightness. Jude had dimmed
with everything else, become part and parcel of what seemed an illusion.

It was while sitting at the pictures, in black darkness, with knowledge
of Skelton’s presence, that the atmosphere began to clear, the waves to
beat again on Cormorant Cay, the gulls to fly and call--and Jude come
back to life.

He heard again that queer little laugh of hers as she removed his hand.
He felt again the warm body that had rested confidingly against him
away there on the sandspit.

And then she was out on the black harbor alone in the _Sarah_, while he
and Satan were watching the pictures! Suppose some lumbering sailing
craft being towed to her moorings or some incoming mailboat were to
smash into the _Sarah_--and they were to row off and find nothing--no
Jude?

The thought almost made him rise from his seat to leave the place. But
he could not explain to Satan; so he sat on till the lights flared out.
And all the time, mocking the pictures on the screen, came pictures of
Jude, all sunlit, real, fresh as herself!

Then, as they pursued their way to the wharf after leaving Skelton,
the impatience increased; the darkness of the night, the blaze of
the town, the gay life of the streets, and the revelry of the cafés
seemed sinister and banded in a conspiracy against him and the lonely
little figure of Jude. The indifference of Skelton, the way he had gone
hurriedly off, the way he had ignored Satan, were part of the business,
blended with the blazing cafés, the moving crowd of Chinks, colored
men, Spaniards, and Americans, the brilliance and gaiety without heart,
that seemed like a barrier between him and the humble little _Sarah_
and Jude away out there in the darkness alone--waiting for him! It came
to him that Jude was the one sole thing he wanted in the cruel, odd,
electric-lit world--and he had left her!

They passed through narrow streets like the streets in an evil dream
and blazing streets hideous with noise. Then at last they reached the
wharf with its amber lights spilling on the black waving water. Satan
hired a boat, and they put off, two dagoes rowing and Satan at the
yoke-lines.

The _Sarah_ was anchored a mile out, and the vast three-mile harbor,
vague in the starlight and circled by the hills, seemed to Ratcliffe
more immense than when seen by daylight.

Lights, lights everywhere,--scattered lights of shipping, some near,
some far away, gem-crusted bulks that were great liners at anchor,
songs and voices, and the creak of the oars in the rowlocks! Then a
sudden green, red, and white light ahead and a fussy and furious little
tug that nearly ran them down and left them rocking in her wash.

“Scowbankers!” said Satan. Then: “I can’t make out the light of the
_Sarah_, nohow.”

A clutch came to Ratcliffe’s heart, the clutch of something cold and
malign which had seemed following him ever since Skelton’s presence had
made itself felt like an evil omen.

They were so far out now that the sounds of the town and wharves had
died to nothing; but still the creak of the oars in the rowlocks kept
on. Then came Satan’s voice:

“That’s her, over beyond them three lights on the starboard bow.”

Ratcliffe breathed again, and his heart leaped in him as he picked out
the light.

Satan altered their course.

“Are you sure?” asked Ratcliffe.

“Sure.”

“You gave me the devil of a fright.”

“Which way?”

“I thought she might have been run down by some ship coming in--or
something.”

“Oh, she’s well out of the track,” said Satan.

“All the same, I didn’t feel easy.”

Then they hung silent, Ratcliffe’s eyes on the light and his hand in
his pocket feeling for dollars to pay the boatmen.

“What’s there to pay?” asked he.

“A dollar, seeing there’s two of them,” replied Satan. “_Sarah_ ahoy!”

“Ahoy!” came Jude’s voice, and a lantern swung over the side.

Satan bundled on board, and Ratcliffe crammed five dollars into the
hand of the stern oar; then he followed, and the fellows pushed off.

“Took it without fightin’!” said Satan. “Lord’s sake, what’s come to
them?” Then he bundled below to make some coffee.

Jude snuffed the lantern out.

She was moving away from the side and away from Ratcliffe, when he
caught hold of her round the body. She did not resist him. He held her
close to his heart.

“Jude!”

“What is it?” asked Jude, with a sudden catch in her breath and
speaking in a whisper. “Whacha want?”

Then his lips met hers, full.

Five minutes later Satan, making his coffee over the Primus stove of
the _Haliotis_, heard a struggling sound, mixed with stifled laughter,
and Ratcliffe appeared at the cabin door. He was dragging Jude in; she
was half-resisting, and her face was hid in the crook of her arm.

“Satan,” said Ratcliffe, “I’m going to marry Jude.”

“God help you!” said Satan.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THE WEDDING PRESENT


“I’m going to marry Jude!”

The fantastic fact embodied in those words appeared to him folly only
next day at one o’clock, with the sky to northward breathing hot on
Havana Harbor like the mouth of a blue oven, flags fluttering to the
wind, the drum and fife band of an American training ship coming over
the water, and the _Dryad_ being towed to her moorings half a mile
shoreward.

The blushing bride-to-be of last night, hiding her nose on Ratcliffe’s
shoulder, as they sat together on the couch before Satan, while he
taunted her with the fact that now she’d have to get into skirts, had
turned back into Jude.

She was busy getting the dinghy ready to row her fiancé off to the
_Dryad_.

She was over the side in her, busy and humming a tune as she worked,
baling out water, fixing the cushions, and so on, while Satan watched
her in a brooding manner over the rail.

A ghastly fear was working in the heart of Satan, the fear that Skelton
might want the dinghy returned.

“Now, mind you,” said Satan, “and bring the boat back. I’d sooner lose
me head than that boat. If you come back without her, I’ll chuck you in
the harbor! I’m talking straight.”

Ratcliffe, who had just come on deck dressed for the occasion, came to
the rail. Jude looked up at him and laughed.

He had seen her laughing before, he had seen her surly, meditative,
brooding, weeping, flushed with anger, grumbling; but he had never seen
her with a look like this,--happy.

Since last night something had come into her eyes that made her, when
her eyes met his, beautiful. It was as though a lamp had been suddenly
lit inside her, and the magical thing was the knowledge that he himself
was the lamplighter.

He had created this new something that spoke to him right out, right to
his heart, right to his soul!

He got into the dinghy, nodded to Satan, and they started, Jude at the
sculls, her trousers rolled half-way up to the knees and her old panama
on the back of her head.

“Go slow,” said he, “there’s lots of time.” Then, when they were out of
hearing and he was alone with her at last:

“Jude!”

“What?”

“D’you remember yesterday you asked me if I was going away, now the
anchor was down?”

“Yes.”

“What would you have done if I had?”

“I’d a drowned myself in the harbor,” said Jude without a moment’s
hesitation. “What’s the good of asking?”

“When did you begin to care for me a bit?”

“D’you remember the sandspit?” asked Jude. “I dunno--maybe it was
beyond then--remember the cache?”

“When I chased you round the tree and--”

Jude screwed up her lips.

“You gave me an awful bang on the head.”

“You frightened the gizzard out of me,” said Jude, “and I wasn’t the
same after--that night.”

“I remember, I heard you telling Satan that hants were chasing you.”

“You were the hants.”

“But you didn’t care for me then. Remember you said derricks were only
good for hoisting fools off ships with.”

“I reckon it was a sort of caring turned inside out,” said Jude. She
turned her head to see if they were making for the _Dryad_.

“You’re letting her off her course,” said she, “unless you’re making
for that brig.”

“I’d just as soon make for her as anywhere else,” said he, altering the
course, “unless it was the sandspit--Jude!”

“Yep.”

“Imagine if we were alone on the sandspit, you and I, just as we were
that day, instead of in this rotten old harbor--let’s go there!”

“I’m willing.”

“When?”

“Soon’s you like.”

“We can get a tent and grub, and Satan can take us there and come back
for us. Damn! here’s the _Dryad_!”

The first officer of the _Dryad_ was leaning over the rail watching
them. The stage was down, and Jude brought the dinghy alongside.

Then on the stage he watched her rowing off. He waved his hand to her,
and she replied.

Then, when he reached the deck, he found Skelton also at the rail.

“’Morning,” said Ratcliffe. “That’s Satan’s sister.”

“Which?” asked Skelton. “That--er--person in the boat?”

“Yes. But you saw her on deck down at Palm Island, didn’t you?”

“I had forgotten,” said Skelton, dismissing the subject.

There were no guests. Ponsonby was to have come, but he was indisposed;
yet the luncheon was just as formal an affair as though a dozen had
been present instead of two.

Half-way through the meal, however, Ratcliffe’s spirits began to
brighten under the influence of Perrier Jouet and the harlequin thought
that began to dance in his head, “I am going for a honeymoon to the
sandspit with Jude!”

He laughed occasionally at nothing in particular, and Skelton thought
his manner strange, heady, queer, and began to thank his stars that
Ponsonby was indisposed. He noticed also that Ratcliffe’s hands,
despite scrubbing, bore the evidence of hard work not dissociated with
tar. There was also something queer about his hair.

There was! Satan had barbarized it down at Cormorant with the pair of
scissors he used on Jude.

Skelton, in asking Ratcliffe on board to luncheon, had considered
himself a most forgiving individual. Leaving aside their little quarrel
at Palm Island, remained the fact that Ratcliffe had left his ship,
deserted him for the company of those Yankee “scowbankers,” and, to
make matters worse, Ratcliffe seemed to have enjoyed the exchange.

Now, in closer company with the delinquent, he was beginning to regret
his forgiveness. “The man had deteriorated!”

As a result of this impression his manner had stiffened; he felt
irritated and bored.

The steward had withdrawn, having placed the dessert on the table,
and Skelton was in the act of carving a pineapple in the only way a
pineapple ought to be carved,--that is to say by tearing it into pieces
with two forks,--when Ratcliffe, who had been staring at the fruit as
though hypnotized, suddenly broke into a chuckle of laughter.

The pineapple, connecting itself, maybe, with canned pineapples robbed
from the store room of the _Haliotis_, had suddenly brought up the
vision of Satan.

Satan in a new guise--Satan as a matchmaker!

All sorts of things, some almost half-forgotten, rushed together to
clothe Satan in this new garment. He remembered Satan’s solicitude for
Jude’s future, Satan’s complacency when he and Jude had gone off to the
sandspit together, his conversations about Jude, the complete absence
of surprise with which he had taken the business of last night,--a
hundred things, and all pointing in the same direction and to the fact
that Satan had wished the business, just as he had wished the dinghy
away from Skelton, just as he had wished Ratcliffe on board of the
_Sarah Tyler_.

He, Ratcliffe, was part of the sea-pickings of this gipsy, part and
parcel with bunches of bananas, pots of paint, sailcloth, mainsheet
buffers, cringles, and so on! He was annexed to fit Jude just as the
mast-winch of the _Haliotis_ was annexed to fit the _Sarah_!

Jude herself had declared that Satan had brought him on board because
he “wanted him.”

Skelton paused in his operation on the pineapple and stared at the
other.

“I beg your pardon,” said Ratcliffe, “but something has just struck me
so horribly funny I couldn’t help laughing--anyhow, the joke is against
myself. Look here, Skelton, I want to tell you something--I’m--m--going
to marry a girl.”

“Indeed--but what is there horribly funny about that?”

“Nothing--it’s not that, it’s something else; but let’s start with
that. I’m going to marry that girl who rowed me over here today,
Satan’s sister.”

Skelton laid down his fork. All his starch had vanished. Surprised
out of his life, he seemed suddenly to grow younger and more natural
looking.

“Good God!” said Skelton, staring at the other. “You don’t mean--”

“I do. I don’t know why I am telling you, but there it is. You can’t
understand in the least--couldn’t hope to make you.”

Now Skelton with his starch off and in an emergency was a sound man,
with a heart as good as any ordinary mortal’s.

He had an eye that no little detail ever escaped. He had seen Jude
at Palm Island, he had heard her speak, he had seen her half an hour
ago, and Ratcliffe’s manner left him in no doubt as to his absolute
earnestness.

The man was about to commit suicide, social suicide. He had seen men do
the same thing often in different ways.

He pushed the pineapple away and rose from the table.

“Come into the smoke room,” said he.

In the smoke room he rang for coffee. Not a word about Jude. Dead
silence.

Then, when the coffee was brought and the door closed, he turned to the
other.

“Ratcliffe, you can’t do this thing. I know. Let me speak for a moment.
You are your own master, free to do as you choose; but I must speak. I
like you. Our temperaments are dead different, and we don’t make good
companions; but you have many sterling qualities, and I don’t want to
see you come a mucker. You can do a thing like this in two minutes; but
two hundred years won’t get you out of it, once it’s done. (Take sugar
in your coffee? Yes, I remember.) See here! I had a young brother once
who was going to do just the same,--absolutely ruin himself. I managed
to stop it, saved his future and his name.”

He picked a cigar out of a box and, coming to a dead stop in his
remarks, cut the end off.

“My dear fellow,” said Ratcliffe, before he could continue, “I know
absolutely and exactly how you feel on the subject and what you would
say. I’ve felt it myself and said it to myself.

“I began to get fond of her almost from the first. If you’d been in my
shoes, you would have been just the same. No one could help getting
fond of her. Then after awhile I found how I was drifting, and I said
to myself, ‘It’s absurd!’ I pictured all my female relations and so
forth and my position in the wonderful thing you call Society.”

“Don’t sneer at Society,” said Skelton gravely. “That’s the easiest
sort of cant that ever folly put into a man’s mouth. Go on.”

“You’re right,” said Ratcliffe. “All the same Society galls one at
times when the thought of it comes up against something alive and fresh
and free from snobbery like Jude. Well, things went on and on. I hadn’t
much time for thinking, underhanded as we were; and that was the fatal
thing, for I absorbed her without thinking,--not her face or body, but
her character. You know that, underhanded and close together on a tub
like the _Sarah_, character is the thing that shows and counts, and
at every hand’s turn hers showed up and got a tighter grip on me. It
wasn’t a character all jam, either, but it was a thing to count on and
real as the sea--you can’t understand.”

“I can,” said Skelton, humoring the other, “a fine character.”

“Oh, Lord, no!” said Ratcliffe. “Don’t get away with things. _Real_,
that’s the word!”

“But, my dear man--”

“I know what you are going to say. She can’t speak King’s
English--well, I’m going to teach her. She’s dressed like that--well,
I’m going to dress her properly after awhile.”

Skelton suddenly showed a flash of irritation.

“Come up to the point,” said he. “Are you, after what I’ve said, still
fixed in your purpose? Are you going to marry her?”

“As soon as ever I can get a priest off to the old _Sarah_,” replied
Ratcliffe.

“That is your last word?”

“Yes.”

“Very well,” said Skelton. His manner changed. He had done what he
could: it was useless. Ratcliffe was no relation of his, and now,
contemplating the thing with as much detachment as though it were a
losing horse race or boxing encounter on which he had no bet, he lit
the cigar, which he had been holding unlighted in his fingers, and
became almost amiable.

“Very well,” said he, “go ahead. After all, it’s not my affair; but
I’ll be interested to know how you get on. By the way, I have some gear
of yours on board.”

“Take it back, will you, like a good chap,” said the other, “and leave
it with the yacht people at Southampton? I’ll pick it up there when I
return.”

“You are coming back?”

“Oh, rather; but not for a year or so, maybe. I’ve a lot to do, and
when you see us next maybe you’ll agree--” He stopped short and relit
his cigar, and they hung silent, each engaged in his own thoughts.

Now; on the warm sea-scented air entering through the open ports, came
a voice.

It was the voice of the second officer, addressing someone over-side.

“Hi, there! Bring her round to the quarter-boat davits; she’s to come
aboard.”

“That’s the dinghy,” said Skelton. “I told them to bring her aboard.
I’ll send you back in the pinnace.”

Again came the voice.

“Hi, there! Are you deaf? Bring her round to the quarter-boat davits;
she’s to come aboard.”

Then Jude’s fresh young voice:

“Gar’n! She’s ours; old Popplecock gave her to Satan. Whacha talking
about?”

“Very well,” came the other’s. “You wait till Sir William comes on
deck.”

Skelton with a grim smile turned to the door. He pointed to the clock
on the bulkhead.

“I’m going on deck,” said he. “See that clock--promise me to stick here
for two minutes by it and think right over the matter for the last
time. Don’t let anything I have said weigh with you.”

He went on deck and, keeping clear of the rail, entered into
conversation with the first officer.

Three minutes passed, and Ratcliffe’s head appeared at the saloon hatch.

“Going?” said Skelton.

“Yes,” said Ratcliffe.

“Right! You can keep the dinghy--it’s a wedding present. Luck!”

“Same to you!” said Ratcliffe.

He gripped the other’s hand, and the grip was returned. The two men had
never been so close to each other before, never would be again.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two hours later the _Dryad_, queening it over the satin-smooth harbor,
dipped her flag to the humble little _Sarah_, and the _Sarah_ dipped
her flag to the _Dryad_, and someone in the Wedding Present lying
alongside the _Sarah_ waved a hat.

Skelton, at the after rail, fixed his binoculars on the hat-waver. It
was Satan.


THE END



Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Satan - A Romance of the Bahamas" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home