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Title: Catty Atkins Sailorman
Author: Kelland, Clarence Budington
Language: English
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                        CATTY ATKINS, SAILORMAN

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                Books by
                       CLARENCE BUDINGTON KELLAND

                     CATTY ATKINS, SAILORMAN
                     CONFLICT
                     SCATTERGOOD BAINES
                     YOUTH CHALLENGES
                     EFFICIENCY EDGAR
                     CATTY ATKINS
                     CATTY ATKINS, RIVERMAN
                     THE HIDDEN SPRING
                     THE HIGHFLYERS
                     THE LITTLE MOMENT OF HAPPINESS
                     MARK TIDD
                     MARK TIDD IN BUSINESS
                     MARK TIDD’S CITADEL
                     MARK TIDD, EDITOR
                     MARK TIDD, MANUFACTURER
                     MARK TIDD IN THE BACKWOODS
                     THE SOURCE
                     SUDDEN JIM
                     THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER

                      HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK
                            Established 1817

------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Illustration: NEXT I KNEW, SOMEBODY WAS FEELING ALONG THE WALL]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        CATTY ATKINS, SAILORMAN

                                   By
                       Clarence Budington Kelland

                         Author of “MARK TIDD”
                     “CATTY ATKINS, RIVERMAN” ETC.

                              Illustrated

                      HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
                          NEW YORK AND LONDON
                                MCMXXII

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        Catty Atkins, Sailorman

                            Copyright, 1922
                          By Harper & Brothers

                        Printed in the U. S. A.
                             First Edition

                                  D-W

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                             ILLUSTRATIONS

    Next I Knew, Somebody Was Feeling Along the Wall

    When We Got Just Under Her Tail We Could Hear a Murmur of Voices

    We Cranked Until We Wore the Skin Off Our Hands, and Until Our
    Backs Were ’Most Busted

    There Was Excitement for a Minute and Everybody Came Running

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                         CATTY ATKINS—SAILORMAN



                               CHAPTER I


It seems as if Catty and I have a lot of luck, and this summer we had
more than usual, for Mr. Browning, who lived in New York, and was
interested in all kinds of businesses, invited us to go for a cruise on
his yacht. He was out to our town to see Mr. Atkins on some sort of
business, and before we knew it Catty and I were friends with him, and
took him fishing, and went around with him—and the day he left he said
we were to come for the cruise.

We were to start in July, and it was hard for us to wait for the time to
come around, but it did come. We were kind of surprised that it actually
did, but as Mr. Atkins says, if you only wait long enough _any_ time
will come. We packed our stuff and took the train, and when we woke up
next morning we were coming into New York.

Mr. Browning met us and we went to a big hotel, the biggest I ever saw,
and after breakfast we got into his automobile and drove out into the
country on Long Island. In about an hour we got to the town where Mr.
Browning kept his yacht anchored off a club. We didn’t know what kind of
a boat it was going to be, but you can bet we were anxious to find out.
There were about a hundred yachts anchored there—all kinds, from great
steam yachts and enormous sailing yachts to little thirty-foot launches.

There was a power dinghy tied to the float and a man in it dressed in
“whites.” The name _Albatross_ was on the dinghy in gold letters, so we
knew it belonged to Mr. Browning, for that was the name of his yacht.
Mr. Browning walked out on the float and says, “Hello, Naboth.
Everything ready?”

“Ready as human hands kin git it—considerin’,” says Naboth.

“Help get the baggage aboard. Here’s the rest of our crew, Naboth. Catty
Atkins and Wee-wee Moore.”

“Huh. Eat more ’n they’ll work,” said Naboth.

“We’ll set them polishing brass,” says Mr. Browning.

“Won’t nuther. Don’t calc’late to have no boys tinkerin’ with my brass.
’Tain’t ’s if it was ord’nary brass. Uh-uh. Seems like I _raised_ that
brass from a pup. Hain’t nobody goin’ to tetch a polishin’ rag to it but
me, not so long’s I’m able to waggle a fist.... You hear that?” he says,
turning to us kind of fierce.

We said we heard, and he said we’d better hear and heed, and then we all
got into the dinghy and Naboth started the engine, and we went
skittering out toward the fleet. In about three minutes we came up under
the stern of a big white boat with _Albatross_ across her stern, and
Naboth brought the dinghy up against her jacob’s ladder as soft as if it
was an egg and he was afraid of breaking it.

“Make ’em git rubber soles on quick, so’s they won’t scratch up my
deck,” says he.

I began to wonder who owned the yacht—whether it was Mr. Browning or
Naboth, but I didn’t say anything, and neither did Catty. As Catty says,
“You never make a fool of yourself by keeping your mouth shut and your
eyes open.”

We climbed up to the deck, and then Mr. Browning took us down into the
cabin. You’d be surprised how big that room was. Why it was almost as
big as the parlor at home! Behind it was Mr. Browning’s stateroom, with
two berths in it, and forward of the cabin was a bath room and the
galley, and then came the engine room with the biggest six-cylinder
engine I ever saw, and still ahead of that was the crew’s quarters. The
boat was seventy feet long! And clean! And shining!

In the main cabin were four Pullman berths that folded into the wall,
and Mr. Browning said Catty and I were to sleep there. He showed us how
to take them down, and there they were, with the bed clothes all
strapped on, and behind them some shelves for our clothes. He told us to
fix things up and then to come on deck, for we would be getting under
way in a few minutes.

We hustled and then went up on the bridge where we found Mr. Atkins
talking to a young man who was introduced to us as Mr. Topper. He looked
as if he was about twenty-six or seven, and was so long and thin and sad
looking we didn’t know what to make of him. He hardly said a word, but
just sat on the leather cushion looking off at the water and wiggling
his fingers.

The crew, Mr. Topper said, was Naboth and the engineer, whose name was
Tom, and the cook, whose name was Rameses III.

“Rameses III?” says I. “Is he a king or something?”

“He’s a king of a cook. No, that’s his name. Rameses Third. Comes from
Cape Cod some place. Always fighting with Naboth,” said Mr. Browning.

Pretty soon the crew cast off the mooring, and we were on our way. Mr.
Browning was at the wheel, and we started out of the harbor for Long
Island Sound. It was a lovely day, and the water was as smooth as glass.
Lots of small boats were all around us, and everybody seemed happy
except Mr. Topper, and he was about the gloomiest looking man I ever
saw.

Just as we came out of the harbor we saw a black yacht, almost as big as
we were. It was going along slow, and I saw somebody on deck watching us
through glasses. Mr. Topper sat up and made a face and says, “What
boat’s that?”

“Never saw her before,” says Mr. Browning. “Why?”

“I don’t like her looks,” says Mr. Topper. “There’s something about that
boat that goes against my grain.”

“Fiddlesticks,” says Mr. Browning.

“She’ll follow us,” says Mr. Topper.

“Nonsense. Nobody knows you’re here. Nobody knows anything about what
we’re up to.”

“You can’t tell. If that boat follows us——”

“But it won’t,” says Mr. Browning.

I looked at Catty and Catty looked at me. That was funny kind of talk,
and I wondered what we were getting into.

We turned up the sound, and, sure enough, the black yacht circled and
turned and came right along in our wake, about half a mile behind us.
Topper pointed. “There,” says he, “what did I tell you?”

“You’re seeing things,” says Mr. Browning. “Black boat, isn’t there?”

“Yes.”

“Turned and followed us, didn’t she?”

“She turned, but not to follow us. Why, Topper, what in the world would
anybody follow us for?”

“You know that as well as I do,” said Mr. Topper.

“But nobody knows but you and I.”

“Can’t ever tell. You can’t keep anything secret in this world.”

“We’ve kept this secret. Nobody knows what you know, and nobody knows
what I know.”

“But somebody may know I’ve been there, and somebody may suspect—what I
know.”

“You’ve got the shivers,” says Mr. Browning.

“I don’t want to lose out now, after all the trouble I’ve been through.”

“And you won’t,” says Mr. Browning. “Forget it.”

I was interested, you can bet, but just then I heard a racket on the
after deck that sounded as if we had been boarded by pirates, and when I
looked back, there were Naboth and Rameses III going it like all git
out. Naboth had Rameses backed against the rail and was whacking at him
with a dirty rag, and Rameses was whacking back with might and main, and
the way they hollered at each other was a caution.

“You will go monkeyin’ with my brass, will ye?” Naboth hollered. “You
hip-shouldered, bow-legged, cow-eyed wampus! Hain’t I told you time and
again that I’d chaw ye up if I ketched you layin’ a rag to that rail?
Eh? What d’you know about polishin’ brass, you soup-stirrin’,
apple-stewin’ whang-doodle?”

“You hit me with that there rag, and I calc’late to show you. I was
polishin’ brass when you was cuttin’ eye teeth. I know more about brass
polishin’ in a minute than you do in a year. I got a right to shine
brass if I want to. Hain’t I part of this here crew, you leather-necked
ol’ turtle?”

“They’re at it again,” says Mr. Browning. “Been at it just like that
ever since anybody ever heard of them. They always ship on the same
yacht. You can’t separate them, but they never do a thing but fight.
Next row’ll be because Naboth pokes his nose into the galley. Rameses
thinks he’s a sailorman, and Naboth believes he’s a cook.”

“Why not let them swap jobs,” says Catty.

“Some day I’m going to try it,” says Mr. Browning, and then the noise
got so loud he turned and yelled at the men. “Hey,” he says, “stop the
noise or I’ll heave you both overboard. You get below Rameses III and
get lunch. You Naboth, get things stowed away shipshape in the
lazarette.”

They quit in a second and Rameses III ducked below. I turned to look
behind, and there was the black yacht, not more than half a mile behind,
cutting through the water as business-like as could be.

Catty motioned to me and jerked his head aft. I saw he wanted to say
something to me, so I got up and went to the after deck and he came
along in a minute.

“Hear that talk?” says he.

“Not being deaf,” says I, “I did.”

“What did you make out of it?”

“Nothing,” says I, “unless Mr. Topper is crazy, or he’s running away
from somebody with something.”

“Um. He doesn’t look crazy to me.”

“That settles it then,” says I, kind of sarcastic.

“And he isn’t running away from the police. Mr. Browning wouldn’t have
that kind of a man aboard.”

“What then?” says I.

“Treasure,” says he, “buried treasure. Old Captain Kidd used to hang
around these parts.”

“Piffle,” says I. “All the treasure’s been dug up long before this.”

“Bet it hasn’t,” says he. “Bet Mr. Topper’s got a map, and that black
yacht is full of folks who know it, and they’re going to attack us and
take it away from him.”

“You’ve been reading books,” says I. “Look, there’s New York back there.
Over there is Connecticut. This is Long Island. You’re off your base.”

“All right,” says he, “you wait and see. Come on, they may suspect we’re
talking about it.”

We walked forward, and just as I got to the bridge I heard Mr. Browning
say, “Hush. Here come the kids. You’ll be scaring the lives out of
them.”

Well we chugged along and Mr. Browning showed us how to keep the log and
navigate by chart. He showed us how to set a course, and all day we were
busy checking up lights and nuns and bell buoys and beacons and red and
black stakes. It was a lot of fun, and Mr. Browning said if a fog was to
come up, that would be how we would find our way. Every time we passed a
mark we would put it down in the log with the exact hour and minute.

Along about five o’clock—we had crossed the sound diagonally and were
running up the Connecticut shore just near enough so we could see how
lively it was through the glasses—Mr. Browning says, “There we are. The
Thimbles. It’s a hard place to get into. All rocks and reefs.” He
slacked speed and headed for what looked like a solid cliff of rock, and
on both sides we could see the water lapping on nasty ledges of rock. In
a few minutes we swung into a channel of deep water, with high rocks
lifting on either side, and on the rocks were summer cottages. And
pretty soon we were right among the Thimbles, and could see dozens and
dozens of little rock islands, all with cottages on them, and channels
running every which way.

“This used to be a refuge for pirates, years and years ago,” said Mr.
Browning. “They used to run in here and hide, and folks have dug up
every inch of this place for buried treasure.”

“Ever find any?” says Catty.

“I don’t know,” says he.

“Do you think there is any—anywheres? Must have all been dug up years
ago,” says Catty.

“Oh, I don’t know,” says Mr. Browning. “I guess a lot of it was buried,
and it isn’t likely it’s all been found.”

“Gosh,” said Catty, “I wish we could get a chance to dig for some.”

“Well,” says Mr. Browning, with a grin, “you may before this cruise has
ended. Never can tell what will happen when you’re on salt water.”

Catty looked at me and wrinkled his nose, as much as to say, “I told you
so.”

And then—the black yacht nosed through the passage and dropped her
anchor not a hundred yards from us.



                               CHAPTER II


Mr. Topper just pointed with the longest, boniest finger I ever saw, and
I thought he was going to cry.

“There,” says he. “Look at that.”

“Fiddlesticks,” says Mr. Browning. “Ninety yachts out of a hundred come
in here for anchorage the first night out of New York.”

Mr. Topper grabbed the glasses and stared at the black yacht. “Her
name’s _Porpoise_,” he said.

“See anybody you know?”

Mr. Topper shook his head. “Everybody’s below except a man in dungarees.
Part of the crew. Smoke’s coming out of the funnel. Galley stovepipe
must come up there. Probably all getting ready for dinner.”

“Then,” said Mr. Browning with a chuckle, “whether they’re friendly or
hostile, we won’t have to worry for an hour.” And just then Rameses III
poked his head above deck and stood there mumbling.

“Food’s on the table. Gittin’ cold. Work myself to the bone gittin’ hot
grub for folks and they never do nothin’ but dally and loiter till it’s
colder’n dead fish. Dunno whatever I took up with bein’ a cook fer. Git
no thanks. Nothin’ but kicks and dishwashin’. Nothin’ to me whether
folks eats hot food or not. Sp’ile their stummicks if they want to. I do
_my_ duty, and if they hain’t willin’ to profit by it, why, ’tain’t no
skin off’n my neck.”

We filed down and took our seats, and for a while nobody said a word,
because we were hungry and the things Rameses III had cooked were mighty
good. Then Mr. Browning says, “Got to row up to the village to send a
telegram. Better come along, Topper.... Why don’t you boys wait around a
while and go for a swim before you turn in?”

“Sounds good,” says Catty.

So, when dinner was over, Mr. Topper and Mr. Browning piled into the
dinghy and Naboth went along to run the engine, and Catty and I were
left alone on the _Albatross_ with Rameses III and Tom, the engineer.
Tom was one of the silent kind. All the time we spent on that boat I
never heard him say a word. All he ever did was to shake his head for
yes or waggle it for no.

We took the phonograph onto the after deck and started her going and
just sat and enjoyed ourselves. We were full of grub and our lungs were
full of fine air, and everything was growing still and shadowy so that a
fellow didn’t want to do much and was mighty well satisfied just to be
there. After a while a ramshackle launch came alongside. It was loaded
with vegetables and melons and such, but Rameses III shooed the man off
and wouldn’t buy anything. After that things were quiet for a while, and
the shadows sort of sprawled out from the high rocks toward us, and you
couldn’t see any more what was rock and what was water—and then lights
began to twinkle off on the shore, and a fellow started to tune up on a
cornet. Our riding lights were lit, and the only way we could tell the
black yacht was still there was by the light at her masthead. It looked
kind of like a star that had got lost and settled down close to the
water. Then a young fellow and a girl came sliding past in a canoe and
Catty and I joked with them some.

“Well,” says Catty after a while, “guess my dinner’s settled. Let’s go
in for a swim.”

We dropped off our clothes and stood up on the rail and dove in. Wow!
I’ve been in some pretty cold water, but that water in the Thimbles was
colder than I’d expect to find it at the North Pole. It wasn’t so bad
after a minute though, and we swam around enjoying it to beat
everything.

“Say,” Catty says after a minute, “let’s swim over and have a look at
the pirate.”

“What pirate?” says I.

“Only pirate there is. Here we are, you and I. We’ve been sent in by a
frigate that’s chasing pirates to spy out this hiding place. We don’t
know anybody’s here, but we’ve got to find out, and go back and guide
the cutters in to attack. They always had cutters, didn’t they? And they
called it ‘cutting out.’ Well we’re going to cut out this pirate, and
burn their stockade and rescue prisoners, and maybe find bales and boxes
and heaps of rich merchandise that’ll make us wealthy. Come on.”

“All right,” says I, “but let’s not get lost.”

“Always can see the riding light,” he says. “Swim as still as you can.”

So we started off towards the pirate, swimming so quiet we could hardly
hear ourselves. It wasn’t much of a swim, though there was quite a
little current. We got to the pirate and all around her. There wasn’t a
light except her riding light, and for a while we couldn’t hear a sound.
It was just as if she was deserted. But when we got just under her tail
we could hear a murmur of voices and Catty reached out and touched my
shoulder and whispered, “Grab hold of her stern and listen.”

[Illustration: WHEN WE GOT JUST UNDER HER TAIL WE COULD HEAR A MURMUR OF
VOICES]

So we grabbed and lay still on the water. But we couldn’t make out a
word for quite a while. Then one of the men got up and stood right over
us and says, “Well, so far—so good.”

“Any fool can chase a boat in broad daylight,” says the other man, who
came and stood by him.

“But we aren’t sure he’s aboard.”

“I am,” says the other man.

“Wish I was. If we’ve been fooled——”

“Oh, he never suspected a thing. How should he?”

“A man that knows what he knows is suspicious of everybody and
everything—if he’s got any sense. And this fellow’s got _some_ sense. We
shouldn’t have hung to his heels so close.”

“Rubbish.”

“And, as I said, he may have fooled us. I didn’t see him aboard that
yacht.”

“Why don’t you row and pay him a friendly call? Nothing unusual in that.
Here we are anchored side by side and nobody would think anything of it
if you made a call.”

“He doesn’t know me, but I don’t want him to see me. If he never sees me
at all—so much the better.... By jove!”

“What now.”

“I’ve a notion to slip into the water and swim over. Kind of take a look
at things.”

“Go it,” says his friend, “if it’ll make you feel any better.”

Catty nudged me.

In a couple of minutes we heard the man say, “Well, here goes,” and then
there was a faint splash.

“Everybody’s spying tonight,” Catty whispered. “Let him get a little
start and we’ll follow him.”

So we did, and you can bet we swam mighty silently. We had the advantage
because we knew he was there, and he didn’t know we were there. Of
course we couldn’t see him because it was so dark and we couldn’t hear
him, so we just swam straight for our light and kept our eyes peeled.

When we got almost to the _Albatross_ we lay still and floated and
listened, but there wasn’t a sound. Then we swam around the yacht
keeping so close our hands almost touched her sides, and still we didn’t
see or hear our pirate friend. I was just a little ahead when we came
under the stern and started up the starboard side toward the jacob’s
ladder, which was down. I was just slipping along as still as a fish,
and then, all of a sudden, as I reached out to grab the lower step of
the ladder, I didn’t grab the step at all, but I did take right hold of
a man’s arm.

“Wow!” says he, startled, and he kicked out like he thought a shark was
trying to eat him.

“Wow yourself,” says I, and then he twisted his arm away and slipped
into the water and began to swim like all git out.

“What’s the hurry, Mister?” says Catty, but he didn’t answer a word.

Catty and I scrambled up the ladder and rubbed down as quick as we could
and got into our clothes.

“Well,” says Catty, “I guess we kind of scairt him.”

“He acted so.”

“And he didn’t find out anything, either.”

“Neither did we.”

He looked at me kind of pitying and says, “Oh, we didn’t, eh. How about
finding out they really were following us? How about finding out one of
them wasn’t sure Topper was aboard? How about making certain they really
are some kind of pirates, and don’t mean us any good? Pretty fair
night’s work, seems to me.”

“Guess that’s right,” says I, “but now we know it, what do we do?”

“I was wondering,” says he.

“Better tell Mr. Browning,” says I.

“Maybe he won’t like our butting in. He didn’t tell us anything, and it
looked like he was trying to keep Mr. Topper quiet so we wouldn’t hear
how worried he was. Nobody ever loses any money by keeping his mouth
shut.”

“Maybe not,” says I, “but what then?”

“Why,” says he, “we know something’s up and we’re warned. The thing to
do is to keep our eyes and ears open until we find out what it’s all
about. Guess we better mind our own business, except when we’re alone
and can get some fun out of it.”

“All right,” says I, “just as you say.”

It wasn’t more than ten minutes later when the dinghy came back with Mr.
Topper and Mr. Browning and Naboth. Mr. Browning asked us if we’d been
in for a swim, and we told him we had, and we guessed we’d turn in for
the night. I was feeling kind of sleepy and Catty said he was, too. So
we went below and opened our berths and rolled in. It felt mighty good.
The air was cool and fresh and the yacht swayed just enough in the
current to give it a dandy kind of soothing motion, and I’d have been
asleep in two minutes if Naboth and Rameses III hadn’t started a rumpus
in the galley. They were arguing at the top of their voices.

“I tell you he could do it,” says Naboth. “A whale could swaller a man
if he wanted to, and anyhow this here Jonah was a skinny man accordin’
to all the pictures I ever seen of him. Why, you ol’ lunkhead, a feller
as skinny as Jonah could go slippin’ and slidin’ down a whale’s gullet
as smooth and slick as soft soap. I’ve seen whales.”

“I’ve seen more whales ’n what you have, says Rameses III, and no whale
I ever see could swaller anythin’ bigger’n a two months old pickaninny
baby like they use for alligator bait in Africy. Naw. A whale might
swaller up a man after it had chawed him, but the’ wa’n’t a tooth mark
onto Jonah nowheres. Not a tooth mark. My idee is this here Jonah was
one of them fellers that always wants to git his friends all het up with
a tall story, and that he never even _seen_ a whale.”

“Let’s try and settle this here thing scientific,” says Naboth. “How
long’s a whale?”

“Sixty-seventy feet.”

“Good. How long be you?”

“Nigh six feet.”

“Any whale that amounts to anythin’ is ten times as long as you be,
hain’t he?”

“Calc’late he is.”

“But a whale runs to mouth and head, don’t he? Whale’s mouth’s more’n
ten times as big as _your’n_?”

“Yes,” says Rameses III, “but I hain’t sure it’s ten times bigger’n
_your’n_.”

“It’s fifty times bigger,” says Naboth.

“Mebby.”

“Why? I ask you why. Tell me that, consarn ye. Tell me why has a whale
got a mouth as big as that.”

“To chaw with,” says Rameses III.

“Naw. To fit his stummick. Got to have a big mouth to keep company with
his stummick. A feller can stand up and walk around inside a whale’s
stummick, can’t he?”

“Hain’t never seen it proved.”

“The size of the mouth proves it. No use havin’ a big mouth ’less you
got a big stummick. No use havin’ a big stummick ’less you got a big
mouth. And, here’s where the science comes in, by gum! It ’ud be foolish
to have a stummick bigger’n a cave and a mouth bigger’n a cellar if the’
wa’n’t some hole connectin’ ’em that was big enough to let sumthin big
through it, because the mouth it takes in big things and the stummick
has to have big things to fill it, and neither the mouth nor the
stummick would be any good if big things couldn’t git from the one to
the other. And there you be, and that’s _proof_. It’s science. It’s how
I jest know a whale could ’a’ swallered Jonah if he’d ’a’ wanted to—even
a medium sized whale, and the one we’re talkin’ about is a extry big
whale.”

“It couldn’t,” says Rameses III, “because it didn’t; and that hain’t
science, it’s common sense; and how do I know it? I’ll tell you: because
nobody but this here feller Jonah ever claimed to be swallered by a
whale, and there’s been tall liars since _his_ day. The’s been men had
all sorts of things happen to ’em but never another but jest this here
one Jonah feller dared claim a whale swallered him and then spit him up
’cause he didn’t like the taste of him. And this here Jonah wa’n’t no
American, either. He was some kind of a furriner, and them furriners is
as full of lies as an egg is of meat, and that’s common sense. If this
here whale in question was to up and swaller an American, and this here
American was to come back and tell it and hold up his hand and cross his
heart, why, mebby I’d b’lieve him. But not no Dago, or whatever this
Jonah was——”

And then I sort of lost track of things, and the next I knew it was
morning and Mr. Browning was shaking me to get up.



                              CHAPTER III


Next morning we hauled up our anchor and left the Thimbles early.
Rameses III did not have breakfast ready until we were well out in the
Sound and had headed for Point Judith. It was another beautiful day. The
Sound was as smooth as a piece of glass and there wasn’t a thing to do
but be lazy, and there are times when I like being lazy a lot. Catty
said he felt like he could lay back in a chair on deck and look at the
water and snooze for a month. But I knew he couldn’t. Snoozing wasn’t in
his line. No, sir, says I to myself. In half an hour that kid will be
down taking the engine to pieces or doing something else to get us both
into trouble. That’s the kind he is. He can’t sit still, and if there
isn’t a thing to do, why, he invents something.

This time it was the engine room, and we hadn’t been through breakfast
half an hour when he was down there sure enough, gassing with Tom, the
engineer, and learning how to run the thing. By noon he knew all the
parts of the engine by their nicknames, and it was all Tom could do to
stop him from commencing with a screwdriver and a monkey wrench to find
out what it looked like inside. He was daubed with grease from head to
foot where he’d tried to crawl into the shaft tunnel to see how the
clutch worked, and his fingers were blistered from monkeying with the
hot cylinders. But he was happy, and what more can you ask.

I wasn’t het up much over engines, but I did want to learn how to steer,
so I hung around the bridge until Mr. Browning explained the compass to
me and let me steer a while. Mr. Topper just sat on the cushion behind
the wheel looking like somebody had poisoned his oatmeal, and kept his
eyes fastened on the black yacht that followed us out of the Thimbles
and was about half a mile behind us now.

We made pretty good time that day, keeping just off the Connecticut
shore, and rounding Point Jude, and then cutting across to Newport. We
got there just before six o’clock. I was kind of excited, because I was
never in a naval base before, and I was never anywhere where
millionaires were thick like I’d heard they were in Newport. I don’t
know which I was hottest to see—a warship or a multi-millionaire.

The _Albatross_ nosed into the harbor past the big coast defense guns
that nose out over the rock, and past the old fort, and then we turned
to the right around a kind of an island with officers’ houses on it, and
cast our anchor near the station of the New York Yacht Club. I enjoyed
it a heap, and so did Catty. The place was full of destroyers anchored
side by side like sardines in a sardine tin. There were dozens of them,
and a couple of cruisers and other boats of the navy.

We had hardly cast anchor when the black yacht poked her snout around
the island and anchored about a hundred yards from us. Mr. Topper
snorted and Mr. Browning shrugged his shoulders, but Catty and I—we
_knew_. We knew that yacht was after us and Mr. Topper and meant
business of some kind, and we made up our minds we would keep our eyes
pretty wide open to see what it was.

After supper we went ashore with Mr. Browning and walked around looking
for millionaires, but we didn’t see any to speak of. Catty claimed he
saw one, but I didn’t believe it, because he didn’t wear a silk hat and
hadn’t any diamonds to speak of. Catty claims millionaires don’t always
wear silk hats and diamonds, but I know better. Anybody that can afford
them, wears them; I should, and everybody’s kind of like me, I’ll bet.
If I was a millionaire I’d _sleep_ in a Prince Albert coat and patent
leather shoes, and when I got up in the morning, the first thing I’d put
on would be a dozen diamond rings. No sense having all that money if you
can’t kind of dazzle folks that haven’t.

The dinghy of the black yacht followed us in, and Catty and I kept our
eyes on the man that came in with it. He was kind of big and wide with
black hair and real nifty yachting clothes, white pants and all, and
buttons with anchors on them. I got a good close look at him. Just as we
were turning to go back to the boat Catty saw him go into the telegraph
office on the corner and he nudged me.

“Let’s see what he’s up to,” said he, and then he says to Mr. Browning,
“Wait just a minute at the boat for us, will you, Mr. Browning? We’ll be
right there.”

“All right. Don’t get lost, and don’t let a millionaire bite you,” says
he.

So we hiked back, and there was our man standing at the counter writing
a message. Catty nosed up beside him and made believe _he_ was writing a
message, but he wasn’t. Pretty soon the man handed in his message, and
Catty and I came away.

“Well?” says I.

“Got it,” says he.

“What did it say?” says I.

“It was to a man named Jonas P. Dunn in New York, and it said: ‘Followed
them to Newport. Can’t lose them. Will act when advisable.’ And his name
is House. That’s all.”

“It’s something,” says I. “I don’t like that part that they’ll act when
advisable. It doesn’t sound cheerful. Wonder how they’ll act, and when
it’ll be advisable.”

“That,” said Catty, “is for us to find out.”

It began to cloud up and get cold by the time we were getting back to
the _Albatross_, and pretty soon it began to rain. The yacht began to
roll a little, not so much because of the waves but on account of us
laying at anchor with the wind blowing against us. I was pretty sleepy
and so was Catty, so we went below and fixed up our berths and rolled
in. It was the finest motion to go to sleep by that I ever felt. Regular
rock-a-bye-baby, and before I knew it I was dreaming about pirates and
desert islands and thingumbobs. I don’t know how long I slept, but all
at once something waked me up and I lay still, kind of scairt. Then
there came a sort of grinding bump and the _Albatross_ rolled like a
rolling pin, and I landed right out in the middle of the floor. Catty
got there about the time I did.

“What’s the matter?” says he.

“Don’t know. Feels like we’re wrecked,” says I.

“How’s a boat going to get wrecked that’s lying at anchor?” says he.

“How should I know?” says I, and then Mr. Browning dashed out of his
stateroom and up on deck, and we dashed after. It was raining like all
git out. The wind was driving the rain along in a straight line, and it
was so dark you couldn’t see the back of your neck. Just as we got there
another bump came that threw me flat on the deck.

“Anchor’s dragging,” shouted Mr. Browning. “We’re drifting down onto
somebody.”

Well, I didn’t know what to do, nor how serious it was, and I did know
it was mighty cold and wet and uncomfortable, so Catty and I huddled
together and waited to see. In a few minutes our eyes got used to the
dark so we could see we had drifted down onto a big schooner yacht, and
the two boats were bumping and grinding together and wearing off each
other’s paint. Mr. Browning and Naboth and Tom and Rameses III were
running around with fenders, and somebody was yelling at us and calling
us pet names, and Naboth was yelling names back.

“Hey, you fat-bellied sardine can, what you rampagin’ down on top of us
fer, hey? A-scrapin’ our paint off on your dirty nose.... You
gasoline-stinkin’ bum-boat!” bellowed a voice out of the dark.

“Shet up,” howled Naboth, “you slab-sided lobster pot. You ornery
garbage scow. Think you kin take up all the harbor with your ol’
she-camel? Sheer off there! Sheer off, or we’ll jest up and ride right
over the top of ye.”

There were all kinds of compliments, and then Mr. Browning told Tom to
start the engines, and ordered Naboth to see to the anchor. We got under
way, and backed off from the other boat about a hundred yards and
dropped anchor again. “There,” says Mr. Browning, “hope she holds this
time.” So we started to turn in again, but before we could get below
Naboth and Rameses III had started a quarrel about a rope fender that
had got itself dropped overboard. Naboth claimed Rameses should have
held the end of the rope, and Rameses claimed Naboth just let go out of
pure meanness. In a minute they had forgotten the fender and veered
around to Rameses III’s coffee, which Naboth claimed was made out of
shavings and varnish, and from there they touched on legs and hair and
relatives and laziness, and moved on to Jonah’s whale, and how much of
an iceberg floats under water, and what makes the Gulf Stream hot—and
then we turned in and let them go it.

In the morning when we woke up it was still cold and drizzly, and the
wind was blowing a gale, so Mr. Browning said we’d stay right there in
the harbor for the day and wait to see if the weather didn’t improve. It
didn’t seem very bad in there, but I guess he thought the open water
outside would be pretty rough. There was a lot of it out there to get
rough, anyhow. So we got fixed to loaf all day and wait for the wind to
go down.

There were some books down in the cabin, and I got settled to read, but
Catty wasn’t in a reading humor. He wanted to do something, and finally
he made up his mind to take the little dinghy and row ashore. So I went
along with him. We walked all over Newport in the rain, and bought some
post cards to send home, and some candy. Then we stopped in the yacht
club station, and there was a book on the table called Lloyd’s Register
of Yachts, or something like that, and we looked in it, and there was
the name of every yacht in America with its dimensions and who owned it.
We found our boat, and then Catty says, “Let’s see who _owns_ the
_Porpoise_.” So we looked it up; it belonged to Jonas P. Dunn.

“H’m,” says Catty, “that’s the man the telegram went to.”

“So it is,” says I.

“Then he’s the boss pirate,” says Catty, “and these fellows here are
only hired men, like you might say.”

“Sure,” says I, “but what of it?”

“We might find out,” says he, “if Topper ever heard of a man named
Dunn.”

“And then what?”

“Why,” says Catty, “then we’d know.”

“Know what?”

“If he’d ever heard of him,” Catty says with a grin.

Well, we loafed around some more, and then rowed back to the
_Albatross_, and it was _some row_ right into the teeth of the wind.
Catty had rowed in, and it was my turn to row back. I kind of wondered
why he volunteered to take the first turn, but I saw now. He’d figured
out the wind would blow us into the dock, but it would take tough work
to get us back.

“You’re a sweet one,” says I.

“What’s the matter?” says he, as innocent as a pint of cream.

“Why,” says I, “rowing in so’s I’d have to row back against this wind,
and bust my spine.”

“Um,” says he, kind of satisfied with himself, “it pays to kind of keep
your eyes open. But you’ll learn, Wee-wee. A few years knocking around,
and you’ll learn to think it over before you take the first proposition
offered you.”

We got back safe, but I was some tuckered out, and went down in the
cabin where Mr. Topper was reading a book and smoking.

“Say, Mr. Topper,” says Catty, “did you ever hear of a man by the name
of Jonas P. Dunn?”

“Jonas P. Dunn!” says he, jumping up like he’d been shot, “Jonas P.
Dunn! Where’d you hear that name?”

“Why,” says Catty, “it’s just the man’s name that owns the
_Porpoise_—that black yacht over yonder.”

“His boat!... His boat!... Are you sure?”

“Dead certain; Lloyd’s Register says so.”

Well, sir, Mr. Topper jumped for Mr. Browning’s door and hammered on it
and Mr. Browning, who was taking a nap, hollered out kind of cross to
know what the racket was, and Mr. Topper says to come out quick. So out
came Mr. Browning.

“D’you know who owns that black yacht?” says Mr. Topper kind of sharp.

“No.... Who?... And what of it?”

“Jonas P. Dunn,” says Mr. Topper.

Mr. Browning whistled and then bit his lip.

“Does look as if there was something to worry about, doesn’t it?”

“Jonas P. Dunn is the man I’m more afraid of than anybody else in the
world.”

“And that’s his yacht?”

“It says so in Lloyd’s.”

“Well, if that is Dunn’s boat, and I guess it must be, then we want to
go mighty easy. Dunn is the kind of a man who sticks to a thing he
starts after. He’s got all the money in the world, and he doesn’t care
much how he gets more.... Um.... We’ll have to give that yacht the
slip.”

“Let’s run now,” says Topper.

“We’d have a lovely time out there in this gale,” says Mr. Browning. “We
might make New Bedford, and we might make Davy Jones’ Locker. No,
there’ll be no running out before tomorrow. When we get up into Buzzards
Bay we can give them the slip some place—among among the islands. Lots
of places to dodge in and hide.”

“I wish we were there this minute,” says Mr. Topper.

“Well,” says Mr. Browning, “I don’t mind owning I feel that way myself.”



                               CHAPTER IV


The bad weather kept up all the next day, but by night the wind went
down, and next morning after that it was warm and fine. Mr. Browning got
us up mighty early, because he had planned with Mr. Topper to try to
sneak out at daylight and so dodge the _Porpoise_. We got up the anchors
as quietly as we could and off we went, and no sign of life aboard the
enemy ship. It was fine, but as we came out of the harbor we found out
that the sea doesn’t always go down the minute the wind does. There was
a big sea running, a sort of enormous swell, and our course was right in
the trough of it. I was kind of scared at first when I saw those waves.

Why, when we got on top of one and looked down, it seemed as if we were
a hundred feet in the air, and when we slid down between two waves, with
one of them racing right down onto us, it seemed as if we were in a
valley and one of the sides was sure to fall right over on us and finish
us. But the motion was so easy and the waves were so big, that it got to
be real pleasure, like sliding down hill. There didn’t seem to be a bit
of danger, though we could see where the waves dashed against the rocks
on the shore and the spray was thrown a hundred feet into the air. It
was easy to imagine what would happen to us if we got swept in there. It
would be good-by _Albatross_ and good-by Wee-wee and good-by everybody
else.

But we didn’t get swept.

There weren’t many boats out, though we did see a few lobster men, and a
destroyer wallowed past us going like the mischief. I noticed that Catty
stuck to the after-deck, with Mr. Browning’s glasses, watching the mouth
of the harbor, and every little while Mr. Topper would go back there and
strain his eyes over the course we had taken. All at once Catty sung
out, “Here she comes,” and sure enough, there was the black yacht, four
or five miles back, just nosing between the rocks. We hadn’t dodged her
worth a cent.

There was nothing to do but keep on going, so we kept. I was helping
navigate and keep the log, marking down when we passed each spar and
buoy and nun and lighthouse. In a few hours we passed the Hen and
Chickens, and a little while afterward we sighted the lightship, and
then we turned to the northward and entered Buzzards Bay. It got
smoother right away, because we got under shelter of the islands that
shut the bay off from the ocean, and then we picked our course up the
channel and rounded the lighthouse just this side of New Bedford, and
wiggled through the opening in a stone breakwater, and cast anchor in a
harbor full of yachts. There must have been close to a hundred of
them—all kinds. It was Padanaram, where the New Bedford Yacht Club has a
clubhouse and where most of its yachts lay.

About half an hour later in came the _Porpoise_ and dropped her anchor
not far from a whopping big schooner yacht. She sort of settled down
with a grunt of satisfaction that she had come up with us again. Well,
we hadn’t gained anything.

Catty and I went in for a swim. It was Catty’s idea and it turned out he
wanted to go in so we could swim around out of earshot and talk things
over.

“The trouble with this crowd,” says he, “is that they don’t plan
anything. They just run, and trust to luck to throw the _Porpoise_ off
our track. No sense in that. The enemy is planning. They’re keeping
watch all the time, and they’re ready. The only way we can duck them is
to plan _better_ than they do.”

“All right,” says I, “go ahead and plan.”

“I’m going to,” says he. “I’ve been studying the chart of these waters,
and it ought to be easy to give them the slip. Over across there are a
lot of islands, and harbors and channels to fiddle around in. Off at the
end is Penikese Island where the Leper colony is, and next is Cuttyhunk,
and the chart shows a little land-locked basin that you get into through
a sort of canal. I bet if we could manage to duck in there, nobody could
see us from outside. Then there’s Robinson’s Hole and Wood’s Hole, and
farther up the bay are inlets and things. Then, once we get through one
of the Holes, we’re in Vineyard Sound, and across that is Martha’s
Vineyard and Nantucket. I’d say this was a part of the coast made on
purpose to hide in.”

“Suits me,” says I, “let’s hide.”

“Yes,” says he, “but the _Porpoise_ won’t blind and be it while we hide.
If we could get them to count up to a couple of thousand while we find a
place to hide, it would be all right.”

“Might ask ’em,” says I.

“Wish they’d run on a sandbar,” says he.

“But they won’t,” says I.

“No chance. So we’ve got to plan it. We’ve got to fix it so we can go
while they’ve got to stay. They’re pirates, aren’t they? Well? It’s fair
and lawful to do anything to pirates.”

“Sink ’em,” says I.

“Guess we hadn’t better go that far,” he says with a grin, “but there’s
something we _can_ do. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’ll find out.”

“What,” says I, “do you s’pose they’re after? What has Mr. Topper got
that they want?”

“Treasure,” says he.

“What kind of treasure?”

“Oh, gold and precious stones, and rings and jewelry and all the things
old Captain Kidd and those other pirates used to hide in chests.”

“Think he’s got a map?”

“Yes,” says Catty.

“Um ...” says I.

“Say,” Catty says, and he lifted his head out of water, “wouldn’t it be
a joke if we could send them off on a wild-goose chase?”

“How?”

“By letting them get hold of the wrong map,” says he. “We could fix up a
map, and let it fall into their hands—and make them think they’d got
hold of the right one. Then they’d leave us alone and go hiking off as
fast as they could to get the treasure before we could.”

“Good idea,” says I, “but how could we fix it so’s they’d get the map?”

“That’s what we’ve got to figure out,” says he.

“Let’s get back, then,” says I, “and make the map.”

So we swam back and dressed. Catty hunted up Mr. Browning and asked him
if he had an extra chart of that part of the coast, and Mr. Browning
said he had an old one we could have. Well, Catty and I took that chart
and studied over it, and picked out a place a long way off. We thought
it would be a good idea to send them sailing as far as we could get them
to go handily. The island we picked was Nantucket, because that looked
like it was about as far as sounded reasonable, and then we went to
work.

We studied over the map of the island, and figured out where we would
bury treasure if we were pirates. The island is shaped kind of like a
long claw. There’s a channel into a harbor right at the town of
Nantucket where the old whalers used to sail from, and the harbor looks
like it stretched quite a ways back from the town, and almost through to
the ocean on the other side.

“I’ll bet there weren’t many people living there when the pirates were
doing business,” says Catty. “The pirates would use that harbor, because
it’s sheltered, and they could go in and out without being seen. Most
likely they would have hid their treasure some place where they could
get to it in any weather, so it wouldn’t have been on the open coast. It
would be some place where they could row to it in a small boat. So the
likeliest place is off at the far end of that basin somewheres. It looks
on the chart as if it was all low and sandy. There’s a good spot back
there,” he says, pointing with a pencil.

“Good enough,” says I, “let’s bury our treasure there.”

So we did. We didn’t try to make believe we had an old map, but just a
copy of one on a modern chart. As careful as we could we measured off on
the chart by the scale of miles, and made a cross in ink. Then we wrote,
or printed rather, down at the bottom of the chart. What we printed was:

“Intersection of lines drawn N. by E. from Steamship Dock, and S. by S.
E. from light on tip of claw. Fifty feet from highwater mark. Six feet
down.”

“There,” says Catty, “that looks interesting, eh?”

“You bet,” says I, “but now what do we do with it?”

“That,” says he, “is for us to find out.”

A little while afterward Mr. Browning said he was going ashore to
telephone, and asked if we didn’t want to go along, which we did. We
used the little dinghy, and hauled her up on the club float. Then we
walked up the dock to the clubhouse, and the steward met us and made us
welcome. Mr. Browning went inside to telephone, while we sat on the
porch. Pretty soon he came out again, and said he would have to go down
to New Bedford on some business, and that we could go along if we wanted
to, but Catty says, “Thanks, but I guess we better stay here where we
can keep an eye on the yacht. Kind of an int’resting place, this is, and
I’d like to hang around and see what’s to be seen.”

“All right,” says Mr. Browning. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”

“Now what?” says I, when Mr. Browning had gone.

Catty pointed and there was a dinghy coming in from the _Porpoise_. It
rowed up to the float and Mr. House stepped ashore and walked up toward
the clubhouse. Right then Catty pulled the chart out of his pocket and
pretended like he was studying it hard. When Mr. House came up the steps
Catty looked up and says, “Good afternoon,” and Mr. House spoke back as
pleasant as pie.

“Fine day,” says he, stopping and looking us over. “Bully harbor. Live
here, you boys?”

“No,” says Catty, “we live aboard a yacht. Just came in. There she
lies.”

“Um....” says Mr. House, “the _Albatross_, you mean?”

“Yes.”

“Who owns her? We’ve seen her quite a bit on this cruise.”

“Mr. Browning, of New York.”

“Just cruising, or going somewhere?”

“Just cruising.”

“Same here,” says he. “What you doing? Studying navigation?”

“No,” says Catty, “this is just an old chart we picked up on deck this
morning. Got some funny marks on it, and we’re trying to figure what
they mean. Guess Mr. Topper threw it away.”

“Oh.... Funny marks, eh? I’m quite a navigator, maybe I can help you
out.”

“Here you are,” says Catty, and he handed over the map. Mr. House took
it, and we watched his face. He bit his lips, and that was the only sign
he gave of anything going on inside his head. He studied it over.

“Old chart,” he said. “Out of date. The new surveys and new channel
markings aren’t here. Kind of a curiosity.”

“Yes,” says Catty, “but what’s the idea of those marks in Nantucket
harbor? Nobody’s been charting a course like that.”

“Looks like somebody had checked a place to dig clams or something,”
says Mr. House. He kind of hesitated like he was thinking, and then he
says: “Say, if you haven’t any special use for this chart, I’d like to
have it. I was arguing with my friend last night about the old harbor
markings over at Cuttyhunk. He claimed they had been the way they’re
shown now for six years. I was sure they were changed a couple of years
ago. This shows I was right. I’d sort of like to show it to him to prove
it.”

“Go ahead,” says Catty. “It’s no use to us. Mr. Topper threw it away.
You’re welcome.”

“Much obliged,” says Mr. House, and right there he forgot all about what
he came ashore to do, but hurried right back to his dinghy and had
himself rowed back to the _Porpoise_.

“He bit,” says Catty. “He swallowed hook, line, and sinker. In about ten
minutes we’ll see the _Porpoise_ hauling up her anchor and making away.”

“On a wild-goose chase,” says I, “and that’s the last we’ll see of
_her_.”

But I was just a little mistaken in that last guess.



                               CHAPTER V


We lay in Padanaram all that day and night. In the afternoon Catty and I
went on the street car to New Bedford and saw the old whaling museum,
which is one of the most interesting things in America, and looked
around the town to find traces of the whalers that used to sail from the
port. But there weren’t so many traces. The whaling fleets are almost
done with. But we had a good time and saw lots of things.

That evening we were sitting on the deck of the _Albatross_ and Catty
says, “What are those funny riggings so many of these yachts have on
them?”

“You mean that dingus sticking out in front?” says I; “the thing that
looks like a bowsprit?”

“Yes,” says he.

“That,” says Mr. Browning, “is the pulpit.”

“For preaching?” says I. “Who do they preach to, and why do they all
have it?”

“For harpooning,” says he. “Swordfish. That’s the great sport here. Wish
we had time to give it a try. They say it’s wonderful fun.”

“How do they do it?” says Catty.

“They go outside, some place past Cuttyhunk in the ocean. A swordfish
blows something like a whale. They come up and lie on the surface and
sleep. I’ve heard you can get right close to them without disturbing
them at all. These boats have a man with a long harpoon out on the
pulpit, inside that little railing, and when they get right over the
swordfish, they let drive. The shaft is free from the head of the
harpoon, and as soon as it strikes, it falls off. A long line is
fastened to the head, and a keg is fastened to the line. These swordfish
are great big fellows, you know; weigh a lot. As soon as the harpoon
nicks them, they’re off like regular submarine boats, and the fishermen
throw the keg overboard and let the fish pull it around. Then they
follow till the fish tires itself out—and shoot it.”

“Must be a circus,” says Catty.

Catty and I were pretty tickled with ourselves for sending the
_Porpoise_ off on a wild-goose chase, but we didn’t say a word, because
we weren’t supposed to know anything about it. But Mr. Browning and Mr.
Topper looked a heap relieved, and surprised, too. When they saw that
black yacht up-anchor and move away, you would have thought somebody had
left them a billion dollars.

“Now what d’you make of that?” says Mr. Topper in a whisper.

“Beats the Dutch,” says Mr. Browning. “Guess you were mistaken about
her. Couldn’t have been following us at all.”

“She was,” says Topper. He began to look kind of worried. “Can’t be
they’ve discovered anything, can it? They didn’t get aboard us?”

“Not a chance. This boat been guarded every second. Nobody could get
aboard without being seen.”

“Anyhow,” says Mr. Topper, “they’re gone, and we’d better take advantage
of it.”

“We’ll skin out at crack of dawn. And if they get sight of us again it
won’t be _my_ fault.”

So we went to bed, and for half an hour we laid awake while Naboth and
Rameses III argued all over the place about what became of the pillar of
salt that Lot’s wife turned into. Naboth claimed it was still standing
on the very spot, and Rameses III said he saw it in a museum in New
York, and he said Lot’s wife was a powerful homely woman, if the salt
was any real likeness of her, and he felt like Lot was probably mighty
glad to get rid of her. When they got to that point I dozed off.

It was hardly light when we were waked up. Naboth was getting up the
anchor; the engine was running, and just as Catty and I got on deck, we
heard Mr. Browning throw in the clutch. Mr. Topper fired our cannon in
salute to the Yacht Club, and we moved out of the harbor into Buzzards
Bay.

It was a little misty and we couldn’t see far, but Mr. Browning was
navigating, and had all of us standing forward to look out for spars and
buoys and such-like. We headed right across the bay. Pretty soon the sun
came out, and a little breeze came along, and the mists disappeared. A
long ways ahead we could see land, and the chart said it was Cuttyhunk,
with bigger land off the port bow, and a tiny island called Penikese to
starboard.

“That’s the leper colony,” says Mr. Browning.

“Real lepers—like in the Bible?” says Catty.

“Regular lepers. The government keeps them there—like on that island in
the Sandwich group.”

“Can we see them?” says Catty.

“Not if I’ve got anything to say about it,” says Mr. Browning. “I’ve got
a lot of curiosity, but lepers are something I don’t need in my
business. The nearest we get to that island is about a mile away from
it.”

“Huh,” says Catty to me. “I had an idea leprosy was just a Bible disease
and in Ben Hur. Didn’t ever figger we had it right at home.”

“Folks get it from eating fish,” says I.

“I’ve et fish all my life,” says he, “and I never got it. Why, when Dad
and I were tramps, we pretty nearly _lived_ on fish, and we never had a
sign of it. Fish, your grandmother!”

“Maybe it wasn’t fish,” says I. “Maybe it was snakes.”

“And maybe it was angle worms,” says Catty.

“Anyhow, folks get it from something,” says I.

Just as we headed up the narrow channel that leads through rocks and
reefs to Cuttyhunk, that a fish line is named after, there was a little
lobster boat laying to and pulling up a lobster pot. We ran up alongside
and cut out the engine, and Mr. Browning hollered to know if the man had
any lobsters to sell.

“Got a pail?” says he, and Naboth fetched up a pail. Then the man filled
it chock-full of little lobsters and passed it back to us, and Mr.
Browning says, “How much?” and the man says, “Oh, about a dollar’n a
quarter.”

Those were the first lobsters I’d ever seen, except on the labels of
cans, and I didn’t think so much of them on account of their being so
small, until Mr. Topper explained they were young ones, which was why
the lobster man sold them to us so cheap.

Then we started along, and in a few minutes came to anchor off the stone
piers that lead through into the little land-locked basin of Cuttyhunk
where the lobster fleet anchor. We didn’t go in because we were
protected enough outside if a storm came up, and because the basin was
so small and full of other craft that we would have had a lot of trouble
maneuvering. But Mr. Browning took Catty and me ashore.

There was quite a big wharf inside, and a good sized boat fastened to
it. We went right to it to find out what was going on, and a man told us
it was the boat that carried lobsters to the Boston market. They were
loading lobsters at that very minute. We went aboard and watched.

Catty went and looked down a hatch and called me over.

“Look,” says he.

The whole inside of the ship was a kind of a tank, and that tank was
alive with lobsters, and barrels and barrels more were being poured and
chucked in. One of the men said there were about ten thousand of them. I
guess lobsters object to going to market because they kicked and flopped
out of the kegs and pails and waggled their big claws and grabbed at
things as vicious as could be. I got over being disappointed in lobsters
right there. Why, some of them looked as big as bulldogs, and acted
about the same. I wouldn’t have let one of those fellows get a grip on
my toe for the whole ship. Just imagine being in swimming and having one
of those things grab you by the foot! Whee! I’ve been grabbed by an
ordinary crab, but it would be as different to be nailed by a lobster as
there is difference between being stepped on by a cat and a horse.

We walked around the island some, and stood up on the cliff and watched
the surf smashing against the rocks, which was a fine sight. There is a
big club there where folks from Boston come to fish, and a few houses
and a lighthouse, and that’s about all. It must be an awful place to
live in winter, sort of shut off from all the world, with winds
thrashing at you from the ocean all the time, and great waves thundering
day and night. I’ll bet it’s about as lonesome a place as there is
anywheres.

We didn’t stay there very long, but went back to the _Albatross_ and
Rameses III had lunch ready. He served it in spells between arguments
with Naboth about whether lobsters were fish or animals, so the meal
went kind of slow. Naboth claimed they were animals because they had
whiskers, and Rameses III argued that wasn’t any argument at all because
cat fish have whiskers, too. Naboth said a lobster was a kind of an
alligator, and an alligator was a relation to a turtle, and a turtle was
a cousin to an armadillo, and an armadillo was an honest-to-goodness
animal, and that anything that was a relative to an animal had to be an
animal itself. But Naboth claimed a lobster lived in the water and never
came on shore at all for anything. “A lobster hain’t got no bizness to
tend to ashore,” says he, “no more’n a flounder has. He jest don’t have
no dealin’s with dry land a-tall, and that’s why he’s a fish. All them
other critters you mention has transactions to transact on dry land, but
not no lobster. He jest tends to his bizness on the floor of the ocean
till some feller comes along and hauls him out, protestin’. A critter
that’s as fond of water as all that’s a fish whether it’s a fish or
not.”

Then Mr. Browning spoke up and says: “What we want is food, and more
speed about it, and you men can compromise and call a lobster a bird.
It’s as close to being a bird as it is either a fish or an animal.”

“Huh,” says Naboth, “if a lobster hain’t a fish and hain’t an animal,
what is it? You tell me that.”

“A lobster,” says Mr. Browning, “belongs to a class all by itself. The
scientific name of lobsters is gilly-winkus; and no gilly-winkus can
ever get to be a fish or a bird in a million years. They’re called
gilly-winkuses on account of the way they roll their eyes.... Now fetch
on the coffee.”

After lunch we got under way again and ran down the shore, dodging buoys
of lobsters pots, till we got to Robinson’s Hole. Up this way the folks
called the little passages between islands “holes.” We ran through the
passage to the Vineyard Sound, and then headed diagonally across to
Martha’s Vineyard.

Catty and I sat way up forward playing checkers and talking things over.

“Well,” says I, “I guess we lifted the trouble off of Mr. Topper’s
shoulders.”

“Maybe,” says he.

“How maybe?” says I.

“The cruise isn’t over yet, and we haven’t lifted that treasure, or
whatever it is he’s after.”

“But we’ve got rid of the black yacht.”

“Maybe,” says he again.

“Huh,” says I.

“Wait,” says he. “They’ll go and dig where that map we gave ’em says to
dig, and they won’t find anything. Then what’ll they do?”

“They’ll wish they had hold of you and me,” says I.

“They will,” says he, “and they’ll come looking for us. Not for you and
me special, but for the _Albatross_ and Mr. Topper. And,” he said, “if
I’m any judge of where we’re heading, they won’t have much trouble
finding us.”

“Why?” says I.

“We sent them to Nantucket, didn’t we?”

“Yes.”

“Well, we’re heading towards Nantucket ourselves.”

“Don’t believe it.”

“Going across to Martha’s Vineyard now, aren’t we?”

“Sure.”

“Next island is Nantucket.”

“Nobody’s said we were going there.”

“Bet we do.”

“Let’s find out,” says I.

So we got up and went to the bridge, and Catty says to Mr. Browning,
“Where are we heading?”

“Vineyard Haven,” says he.

“And after that?”

“Edgartown.”

“And after that?”

“Nantucket.”

“Huh,” says Catty, and he eyed me kind of savage, like I’d done
something I shouldn’t. “Now what?” says he to me.

“I dunno,” says I.

“We’ll run slam into them,” says I.

“And all our work for nothing.”

“Sure.”

“Wee-wee,” says he kind of solemn, “wouldn’t it be rotten luck if this
treasure was hid on Nantucket, and we had sent them to the very place?”

“It would be,” says I.

“It’s up to you and me,” says he, “to get busy and do some figuring.”

So we went forward to do it.



                               CHAPTER VI


We ran into Vineyard Haven and anchored for the night. It was an
interesting old place, but Mr. Browning said it couldn’t touch Edgartown
or Nantucket. There was no sign of the black yacht, and I began to feel
pretty safe, and so did Mr. Topper—for once. He got quite jolly, and I
heard him say to Mr. Browning that maybe he had been mistaken after all.
He said he was so nervous that he suspected everybody of following him,
and he guessed for once he had been mistaken.

Well, Catty and I had our own idea about that, but we didn’t say so. I
told Catty I thought we ought to tell how we had sent the _Porpoise_ off
on a wild-goose chase to Nantucket, but he said to keep my mouth tight
closed about it.

“We aren’t supposed to know anything about this treasure, or whatever it
is,” says he, “and nobody’s asked us to help. What we know we’ve found
out for ourselves, and until they ask us, or tell us about it, it
wouldn’t be good manners for us to say anything.”

“Maybe,” says I, “but it don’t seem like very good manners to go butting
in like we have, then.”

“That’s different,” says he. “You don’t have to be introduced to a
drowning man before you can jump in and save him. Here we find these men
in a fix, and we do the best we can to pull them out, but that doesn’t
entitle us to let on we’ve discovered a secret they want to keep from
us.”

I couldn’t see it that way, and I didn’t make any sense out of the way
he reasoned it, but there it was, and I didn’t want to start an
argument. We had plenty of argument aboard with Naboth and Rameses III.

“I wonder if Captain Kidd buried this treasure,” says I, because I liked
to talk about it. It got me kind of excited to talk about treasure and
pirates and digging in lonely places where you might run into a skeleton
with his finger pointing to a chest. Catty liked it, too, but he let on
he didn’t.

“Huh,” says he.

“A chest full of pieces-of-eight—whatever they are—and gold cups and
jewels and all that. I hope they let us come along when they dig it up,
don’t you?”

“When who digs up what?” says Mr. Browning, who just came up out of the
cabin without our hearing him.

“Why,” says Catty, “if you and Mr. Topper were going to dig for buried
treasure, Wee-wee and I thought we’d like to go along.”

Mr. Browning laughed, and then he got sober all of a sudden. “What made
you think of that? How did you get it into your heads Topper and I were
going to dig for something?”

“Well, almost every place we’ve been, you’ve told us about how pirates
used to be around, and we thought maybe we might run onto a treasure or
something. And there was that black yacht——”

“What about the black yacht?”

“It looked kind of like it might be a pirate.”

“I’ll tell you what I think,” says Mr. Browning, “and that is that
you’ve got sharper ears than Topper and I gave you credit for having.”

“Maybe so,” says Catty.

“And you know we’re after something.”

“We’ve got our suspicions.”

“Know what it is?”

“No, sir.”

“Um.... Well, you’re not likely to find out,” he said, and then he
grinned like he had a whale of a joke on us.

“Laugh ahead,” says Catty, when he had gone forward. “Maybe we’ve got a
bigger joke on you.”

We got out the phonograph and played it a while, and then turned in, and
slept like logs. In the morning we took our time, and after breakfast,
started for Edgartown, around the corner of the island. It wasn’t a long
run, but when we got there we’d have been willing to have gone a long
ways to see it. There was a fine harbor and lots of yachts, and some old
fishing boats, and the town ashore. Why, you could imagine it was still
a harbor for whalers like it was once. The old town looked like it might
be, and I says to Catty that I bet almost everybody who lived there was
an old sea captain or his family. We went ashore and bought some post
cards to send home, and to send a telegram for Mr. Browning and see if
there were any messages for him.

We asked the man.

“What yacht did you say?” says he.

“The _Albatross_,” says Catty.

“Hain’t got a message for you,” says he, “but one just came in _about_
you.”

“No,” says Catty, pretending he was astonished.

“Know a yacht by the name of the _Porpoise_?” says he.

“Yes.”

“Message’s for her,” says he. “Where is she?”

“Nantucket, or somewheres.”

“Expect to meet her?”

“Sort of.”

“Wa-al, I kind of figgered so. This telegram says you started out like
you was heading here, and to be sure to keep track of you.”

“Much obliged,” says Catty, and we went out.

“There,” says he, “that shows they’re taking no chances. They’re having
us watched and reported, as well as following us with the _Porpoise_.
We’re going to have a job dodging them.”

“You bet,” says I, “especially if we’re heading for Nantucket to run
right into them.”

Naboth was waiting for us in the dinghy and took us aboard again. As we
ran up the jacob’s ladder there was Mr. Browning waiting to see if we
had a telegram for him.

“Nothing for you,” says Catty, “but there was a message about us.”

“About us?”

“To the _Porpoise_,” says Catty. “It said we were headed for here, and
to keep track of us.”

“Um....” says Mr. Browning, and he called to Mr. Topper. “Hey, listen to
this news,” says he, and then told him.

I thought Mr. Topper would throw a conniption fit.

“There,” says he, “didn’t I tell you? When Jonas P. Dunn goes after a
thing, he goes after it.”

“But he doesn’t always get it,” says Mr. Browning.

“Say,” says Catty, “is it fair to ask a question?”

“Maybe,” says Mr. Browning.

“Where are we heading?”

“Nantucket.”

Catty looked at me and I looked at him. The fat was in the fire for
sure. Nantucket!

“Isn’t there any other place we can go?” says Catty.

“Why?”

“Because,” says Catty, “that’s where the _Porpoise_ is.”

“She is! How do you know?”

“We sent her there.”

“What!”

“We sent her there. Might as well own up. We couldn’t help overhearing
how Mr. Topper was afraid the black yacht was a pirate or something
following us, and that we were on a cruise after treasure. So Wee-wee
and I cooked up a scheme to get rid of them so we could sneak off where
they couldn’t find us.”

“Um.... What kind of a scheme?”

“Why, we found an old chart of Nantucket—it was when we were in
Padanaram—and we kind of marked it up to look like a treasure map, and
we sat on the porch of the yacht club’s station looking at it when one
of the pirates—his name is House—came along and got curious.... We gave
him the chart, and he took his old yacht off to dig where we had made a
cross mark.”

Mr. Browning threw back his head and laughed so I thought he would bust.
“Listen to that, Topper. We should have taken in these kids on the
start. They know how to cruise after treasure. Ho....”

“A fine mess they’ve made of things,” says Mr. Topper.

“Might be worse. Anyhow, we’re sure now. No mistake. And we know where
they are.”

“But we’ve got to go to Nantucket.”

“Sure. They’d have followed us anyhow. Now they’re interested in this
chart, and they’ll be digging all over the place. It’ll keep them
occupied. They think they’ve got something, and it will give us a chance
to do our bit of business and be off for home.”

“Maybe, but I don’t like it. Say, where did you kids make your cross for
them to dig?”

“Here’s a chart,” says Catty. “I’ll show you.”

He did, and pointed with his finger to the place we had marked for the
_Porpoise_ men to do their digging. I heard Mr. Topper make a funny
noise, and I looked from him to Mr. Browning, and he looked as if
somebody had hit him in the stomach.

“However did you come to pick that locality?” says he.

“Why,” says Catty, “it looked like a likely place for treasure to be
buried.”

“It is,” says Mr. Browning. “It’s all-fired likely. I’ll bet they’re
digging now within a hundred feet of where the thing is hid that we’re
going after.”

“It looks,” says Catty, “as if we’d made a mess of things.”

“It does,” says Mr. Browning, “but you can’t tell. Anyhow, it was our
fault for not taking you into the secret a little more. Then you
wouldn’t have got to letting your imaginations run wild all over the
Atlantic Coast. But it’s done. They’re there, and what we want is
there—and we’ve got to go there, and there you are.”

“We’ll think up another scheme for you,” says Catty, and then Mr.
Browning laughed again. “I’ll bet you will,” says he. “Well, we might as
well face the music.... Naboth, up with the anchor. Tell Tom to start
the engine.”

“You’re going to run right into them?” says Mr. Topper.

“May as well be soon as late,” says Mr. Browning, and in ten minutes we
were under way.

Quite a fog had come up, and before we got past the point we had lost
the lightship and were navigating by compass, with our fog horn tooting
like all git out. Everybody was on the lookout for buoys and stakes and
bells marked on the chart, but the farther we went the less we saw, and
then the engine began to act up and snort and miss, and all at once she
laid down and went to sleep. It was a mess. The tide was going out, and
it looked to me like we had a fine chance to be swept between Martha’s
Vineyard and Nantucket, right out to sea—and the nearest land that was,
if I guessed right, was a country by the name of Spain. I didn’t want to
go to Spain.

But we didn’t go there. Tom got the engine tinkered up, and we started
off again through the fog. Mr. Browning said the compass was a little
off, and he wasn’t sure where we were exactly, but he kind of hoped we
would come out right. Well, I can tell you I was glad when we heard a
bell, and ran up to it to get its number. Then we found it on the chart
and knew where we were. In another hour we were running through the
rock-banked channel into Nantucket Harbor.

I was kind of disappointed at first, because from where we were it
looked like a summer colony, with cottages all along the shore, but when
we rounded the lighthouse into the harbor and could see the rows of old
wharves, and the fishing boats, and a big Cape Cod cat making out with a
bunch of fishermen aboard, I felt better. There was the old town, off
our port bow, and it looked more interesting than anything we had seen
yet.

But there was something that was even more interesting than the town.
There, anchored off the beach with her nose pointed into the tide, was a
black yacht, and her name was the _Porpoise_.

“Guess we’ll drop our hook as far from her as possible,” says Mr.
Browning, and that is what we did—keeping out of the channel where the
steamers from New Bedford come in, so as not to get ourselves run down.

“Well,” says Catty, “here we are, and there they are.”

“And over yonder,” says I, pointing with my thumb, “is the treasure.”

“I’ll bet you a fish,” says Catty, “that we get it and they don’t.”

“All I ask,” says Mr. Browning, “is that you don’t make any more plans
for anything till you tell me what they are.”

“I won’t,” says Catty; and then, after a pause, “if I can help it.”

But as things turned out, he couldn’t help it.



                              CHAPTER VII


It was likely the _Porpoise_ had been there all night and that day. If
she had run directly across from New Bedford she must have been in
Nantucket that long, anyhow, and Catty and I wondered if our friend
House had done any digging for the treasure yet. While we were talking
about it a catboat sailed close by to take a look at us, and Catty sung
out to her.

“Say,” he says, “when did that black yacht come in?”

“Last night,” says the young fellow in the cat.

“Much obliged,” says Catty. “How far can you sail that boat up yonder?”
he says, pointing off up the bay where it stretches off inland.

“As far as I want to,” says the young fellow.

“Your boat?”

“Yes.”

“Um.... Ever take out passengers?”

“Calc’late to.”

“At night?”

“Often.”

“Well,” says Catty, making up his mind all of a sudden, “Wee-wee and I
would like to go for a sail—way up this bay as far as you can go.
Tonight. How much’ll it cost?”

“Dollar apiece,” says the young fellow.

“Go you,” says Catty. “You come back just as it’s getting dark, and
we’ll be ready.”

Now, I wondered what he was up to, and what Mr. Browning would have to
say to it, and I asked him. “You leave me to take care of Mr. Browning,”
says he, “and you’ll see what I’m up to soon enough.”

“I’m in it, hain’t I?”

“Sure.”

“Then I got a right to know what’s going to be done. I’m not going
poking off blindfolded.”

“Too bad,” says he. “I’ll kind of miss you.”

Well, that was that. Right off he marched down into the cabin where Mr.
Browning was talking to Mr. Topper, and he says:

“A young fellow just came along in a catboat, and he said he’d take
Wee-wee and me for a sail tonight. May we go?”

“Sure,” says Mr. Browning, kind of absentminded. “Go ahead. These cats
around here are mighty safe craft.”

So that was all right, and we went on deck again, and Catty took the
glasses from under the cushion of the bench across the bridge, and we
spent the rest of the afternoon watching the _Porpoise_, but there
wasn’t much to see. About six o’clock we saw the power dinghy snort
ashore and come back with Mr. House, and then everybody went below, and
so did we when Rameses III called supper.

When we had filled up we went to wait for our cat to come after us, and
pretty soon she came along and slid right up to the jacob’s ladder while
Naboth did a war dance on one foot an squalled like all git out for fear
our paint would be scratched.

“Hey, you lop-eyed sperm whale, where d’ye think your a-goin’ in that
laundry tub, eh? What d’ye think this is—a fish wharf? Sheer off!...
Sheer off! If you put a scratch onto my paint as long as a pin and as
thick as a hair, I’ll board ye, b’gum. I’ll board ye and I’ll keel-haul
ye, and chaw ye and spit ye into the water fer eels to eat....
Yea-a-a-a-a.” He got out that last holler just as the cat touched the
foot of the stairs as gentle as a bird lighting.

Rameses III poked his head out of the galley window. “What’s a-goin’
on?” says he. “What’s the argument? Where’s all the trouble? Be I
needed?”

“You’re needed to keep your mouth shet,” says Naboth. But just then
Catty slid by him and down the ladder and I followed. We stepped into
the cat and in a second the tide was carrying us off.

“Yay! Whoa there? Where you a-goin’? Come back here,” yelled Naboth; but
Catty just grinned and says, “We’re off to catch a night-blooming
sunfish, Naboth. See you later.”

The young man at the tiller was grinning all over. “Nice, gentle,
house-broke, soft-spoke sailorman, that,” says he.

“His bark’s worse than his bite,” says Catty.

“Most is,” says he, as if his saying it settled the matter for good and
all. “Now where?” says he.

“Up the bay, and kind of skirmish around,” says Catty.

So we sailed off, tacking and twiddling around, and it grew darker and
darker, and then the moon began to come up. “Keep as close as you can to
that shore,” says Catty, motioning with his thumb.

“Aye, aye, sir,” says the young man.

Well, we fooled around maybe an hour, and then I heard a little motor
boat coming, and Catty leaned over and squinted hard. “Bet it’s them,”
says he.

“Who?” says I.

“The _Porpoises_, of course,” says he. “What you think I’m fooling
around here for?”

“The only way to find out,” says I, as sarcastic as I could make it,
“was to come along and see. I’m seeing.”

“Keep right at it,” says he, “and don’t let your eyes get tired.... It’s
their dinghy, sure as shooting.”

The dinghy went past us, maybe a hundred yards off, and kept on going.

“Follow them,” says Catty.

So we did, and pretty soon we could hear that they had stopped the
motor.

“Going ashore,” says Catty. Then he turned to the young man. “Say,” says
he, “can you beach this boat?”

“I can,” says he, “but the real question is, will I? The answer is I
will.”

So he headed in, and then jerked up the center board and brought her
about. “You’ll have to wade a piece,” says he.

“All right,” says Catty. “You stand off and on till I whistle three
times. Then run in to pick us up.”

I kind of admired his language. That “stand off and on” sounded pretty
fair to me. Right off I knew he got it out of a book somewheres. He was
getting awful nautical.

He took off his shoes and stockings and I did the same, and we stepped
off on a sandy bottom and waded ashore.

“What kind of dum foolishness is this?” says I.

“Jest looking for turtles’ eggs,” says he. “A feller told me the time to
find ’em was by moonlight.”

“I don’t need any turtles’ eggs,” says I.

“Not many folks does,” says he, “but I do. I want to send a box of them
home to Dad. He’s that fond of turtles’ eggs you wouldn’t believe it.”

“Go ahead,” says I; “if they’re for your Dad, why I’ll help you to the
bitter end.... But you promised Mr. Browning you wouldn’t go planning
any plans without letting him know.”

“I’m not. I’m hunting turtles’ eggs, and if anything happens while I’m
doing it, it isn’t my fault, is it?”

With that he started off along the shore, slinking like an Indian, and I
was subtile, like James Fenimore Cooper says, right at his heels. We
were about the most subtile pair of kids that ever were. Why, we went
along so quiet we almost lost ourselves, and every once in a while I had
to pinch my leg to make sure I was there. It worried me. When a fellow’s
out at night that way, he don’t enjoy the feeling that he’s got lost
from himself.

It was kind of spooky anyhow. Across the sand we could hear the surf
breaking on the ocean side of the island, and the moonlight was a kind
of sickly pale that made things look different than they really were,
and the sand itself, with unlucky bushes growing once in a while, and
clumps of grass, made the whole place look like almost anything
disagreeable could happen there. And I bet it could.

“Go easy,” says Catty, “we may run onto them any minute.”

“Them?” says I.

“The turtle eggs,” says he, with a kind of a chuckle.

Sure enough; in a few minutes we could hear somebody talking, and we
flopped down on our stomachs and wriggled along, until we could see two
men. They had been digging, but now they were resting and talking it
over while they sat on a pile of sand.

“I tell you this _is_ the place,” says Mr. House. “I measured carefully,
and then went all over it to be sure I hadn’t made a mistake.”

“Well, we dug all night last night, and nothing yet. They surely
wouldn’t have it much deeper.”

“The map may have made a mistake,” says House, “but I didn’t.” At that I
poked Catty in the ribs and he kicked my shin.

“We’ve got to lift it tonight. They’ll be nosing around. They may be
here tonight.”

“They won’t hurry. They don’t suspect anything.”

At that Catty kicked me a good one, and I was like to holler out good
and loud, but I didn’t. I made up my mind I’d remember that kick and pay
it back double when it was safe.

“Anyhow, I want to get it and be off,” says the other man to Mr. House.
“They’re welcome to the hole it came out of.”

“It was great luck, our getting that map that way,” says House.

“Hasn’t looked like much luck yet.”

“If you were as good at digging as you are at finding fault it would,”
says House.

We just lay still and watched them throw sand, and it was fun, because
we knew they were just getting exercise. Every once in a while they
would stop and quarrel about it, and then go back at it again, until Mr.
House said his back was busted in two, and the other man said he had
blisters on his hands as big as oranges and at that I snorted. Catty
kicked me again, and this time I deserved it. But it didn’t help to kick
after the snort.

“What’s that?” says Mr. House.

“Sounded like a sheep,” says the other man.

“What would a sheep be doing out here?”

“What’s a sheep ever doing any place?... Let’s take a look, anyhow.
Nothing like being safe.”

So they started off to take a look, and we played hide and seek with
them in the sand drifts and behind grass clumps. But they were thorough.

Catty grabbed my arm, and we lay down behind a bush, and then he
commenced to throw sand over us. I caught on in a second, and we went at
it like groundhogs. In a few minutes we were covered right to the tips
of our noses, and there we lay. They could hunt for a week, and if they
didn’t step right onto us, they wouldn’t see us. And then—well, I didn’t
like it. I heard House yell.

“Somebody was here,” he says. “I see footprints.”

Then they started to hunt in earnest, and the next thing, their voices
got mighty close and closer, and there they were standing right over us.
We didn’t even breathe, and then what should House do but take another
step right onto the center of the middle of my stummick. I let out a
yell and caught him by the leg, and down he went in a heap. Catty ducked
up, right between the other man’s legs and we were off, running for dear
life.

It took them a few seconds to get over being startled and that gave us a
start. We made for the shore of the bay, and Catty had just breath
enough to give three whistles for our catboat. We waded out into the
water as far as we could, and waited. No catboat. We waited some more.
No catboat—and Mr. House and Company were there, on shore, and just
stepping into the water.

“Swim for it,” says Catty, and we plunged ahead, clothes and all, and
went lickety-split out into the bay. And then the moon went under and it
was dark as pitch.

“Keep to your left,” says Catty.

“Why?”

“We’ll borrow their dinghy, if we can beat them to it.”

“Who’ll run it?”

“Me. I’ve watched Naboth.”

“Huh,” says I, and saved my breath to swim with.

We kept veering toward shore, and pretty soon my feet touched, and we
kind of crawled up through the water, just keeping our faces out. And
talk about luck. We walked right into that black dinghy. There she was
as big as life and twice as natural.

“Haul her off,” whispered Catty.

We did and swam out about fifty yards with her. Then we crawled in.

“Howdy-do,” says a voice, and a couple of the biggest hands I ever saw,
dropped right out of the sky and collared Catty and me.



                              CHAPTER VIII


I’ll own up I was surprised and, though Catty doesn’t like to admit he’s
ever surprised, I’ll bet he was, too. I’ll bet he was so surprised he
almost shed his ears and that’s about as surprised as a fellow can get
without going to a lot of trouble and annoyance. Right out of a clear
sky those great big hands came down on the backs of our necks and hung
on. Next time I crawl into a dinghy you can believe I’m going to take a
peek in to see if anybody’s there.

“Wa-al,” says the man, “who be you, and what’s the idee of towin’ me out
here?”

“We didn’t know you were in the dinghy,” says Catty.

“So I jedged,” says the man, kind of dry-like. “I figgered you’d be
awful glad to see me when you found out I _was_ here.”

The man never let go his hold, and there wasn’t a bit of chance to
squirm away. “Calc’late I’ll hang onto you younguns,” said the man. “Act
kind of slippery to me. Tide’ll drift us ashore in a minute so the’
hain’t no need for me to start up the engine. Say, what was you aimin’
to do, anyhow?”

“Nothin’ much,” says I, and I’ll admit myself that wasn’t much of an
answer.

“How come you way out here?” he says.

“Sailed,” says Catty, “and while we were ashore our boat went off and
left us.”

“And you was aimin’ to borrow this here dink to git back to town, eh?”

“Yes,” says Catty.

“Um.... Fine doin’s. All this is fine goin’s on. Dunno what it’s all
about. Chasin’ and hollerin’ and tryin’ to run off with dinks. Anyhow,
I’m a-goin’ to take you in and show you to the boss.”

He kept his grip on us, and pretty soon the boat grated on the beach,
and the man let out a holler, “Hey, I got a couple kids here. Come take
a look at ’em.”

In about two minutes Mr. House and another man came along and turned
flashlights on us. House kind of grunted.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” says the other man to Catty,
but before Catty could answer, Mr. House spoke up and says, “They’re the
two kids from the _Albatross_.... The ones we got the chart from.”

“So,” says the other man, whose name turned out to be Robbins. “That’s
how it is, eh? What were you hiding out here for and spying on us?”

“We came out for a sail with a man that owned a cat. He charged us a
dollar,” says Catty, “and then went off and left us. He acted like he
was mad at the man who left us, and looked sort of simple-minded and
frightened.”

“Left you? How did he leave you?”

“We came ashore to dig for oysters,” says Catty, “and when we went where
he ought to be, he wasn’t there.”

“Dig for oysters?” says Mr. Robbins. “And where in the world did you
expect to find oysters?”

“Why—up in the sand. We were told oysters grew in the sand.”

“Huh.... And what were _you_ after?” he says to me.

“More oysters,” I says.

“They were going to roll in oysters,” Mr. House says to Mr. Robbins.
“Say, don’t you know oysters aren’t good to eat for two months yet?”

“No,” says Catty, “the man told us they were ripe now, and all we had to
do was to dig them and shuck them.”

“I’ll be jiggered!” says Mr. House.

“I don’t see anything funny about it,” says Catty. “You were digging,
too. Weren’t you after oysters?”

“No,” says Mr. Robbins, “we weren’t after oysters exactly. We were
digging for——”

“Baked beans,” says Mr. House with a face as grave as a deacon’s.
“Boston Baked Beans. This is the best bean beach in America. There are
places where you get them with more pork, but not a place in the world
where the beans themselves are half as large.”

Of a sudden Mr. Robbins got fierce, and he pointed his finger in Catty’s
face, “Now, young man, no fooling, if you know what’s good for you. What
did you see?”

“We saw you digging a hole, and you didn’t act like you were finding
any—baked beans in the bottom of it,” says Catty.

“It was him gave me the chart,” says Mr. House.

“Where did you get that chart,” says Mr. Robbins.

“On the _Albatross_,” says Catty.

“Anybody tell you to give it to us?”

“No.”

“Hear any talk about us aboard your boat?”

“None to speak of,” says Catty.

“We kind of thought you were following us—the way you’ve stuck to us,”
says Mr. House, and I was just going to say the shoe was on the other
foot, when Catty gouged me with his elbow, and I said “Ourrumph” and
then shut up.

“No,” says Catty, “we aren’t following anybody. We’re just cruising
around looking for fish and things.”

“About that map,” says Mr. Robbins, “the chart you gave us?”

“Oh, that. Why, you’re welcome to it, I guess. It was an old one.”

Then Mr. House took a hand. “Listen, Robbins,” he said. “I’ve been
watching this kid’s face, and I don’t believe he’s half the idiot he
makes believe. We better take them aboard the _Porpoise_ and put them
through a course of sprouts. There’s too much at stake here to miss any
chance.... Hey, you, start the engine and let’s be going. Anyhow I’ve
done my share of digging for tonight.”

The sailorman started the engine, and we moved out into the black bay.
Away off to the left we could see the lights of Nantucket town, and we
headed for them. It was a pretty howdy-do. Here we were in a fine mess,
being taken aboard the _Porpoise_, and goodness only knew what was going
to happen there. I wasn’t exactly scairt, but I was pretty uneasy, I can
tell you. It was getting late and Mr. Browning would start to worry
about us. Then I got to thinking, what if the fellow with the catboat
went back and told how we had gone ashore? Take it all around, and
things were mighty messy.

It’s curious, now, to look back at that night and to see how much
happened in just a few hours—and how fast it happened—and how soon it
was all over with for that time. But it didn’t seem short while it was
going on. I should say not. It seemed like it was a week, and when I
looked at the clock just before I crawled into my bunk and saw what time
it was, I couldn’t believe it.

Anyhow, we put-putted along until we came to the _Porpoise_, and Catty
and I were marched up the ladder to her deck.

“Down into the cabin,” says Mr. House, and down we went.

The cabin was about as large as ours aboard the _Albatross_, but,
instead of having windows, it had portholes, and somehow, it seemed
stuffy and less pleasant. Maybe that was just because we didn’t enjoy
being there. That makes a lot of difference.

There was a seat along one side, and Catty and I were told to sit down
there. Mr. House and Mr. Robbins drew up chairs and sat down facing us.

“Now,” says Mr. House, “what’s your name?”

“Catty Atkins,” says Catty.

“And yours?”

“Wee-wee Moore,” says I.

“What are you doing on the _Albatross_?”

“Mr. Browning invited us to come for this cruise,” says Catty.

“Any relation of his?”

“No.”

“Any relation of Topper’s?”

“No, we never saw Mr. Topper until we went aboard the yacht.”

“Um.... Now I want you kids to answer up sharp, and tell the truth. What
is the _Albatross_ doing here?”

“Lying at anchor,” says Catty, and his face looked as if he didn’t have
as much sense as a guinea pig.

“We can see that. But what made her come here?”

“Why—nothing special, I guess. Just to see the island. Say, what’s the
matter? Why do you bring us aboard here? I want to go back to the
_Albatross_. Mr. Browning won’t like it.”

“That,” says Mr. Robbins, “is too bad.... Ever hear them speak about
us?”

“Yes.”

“What did they say?”

“They said this looked like a good boat, only they thought she’d look
better if she wasn’t painted black.”

“Huh,” says Mr. Robbins, and then nobody said anything for a while.

“Sure they never said anything else about us? Didn’t ever figure we were
following them around?”

“Oh,” says Catty, “were you following us? What for?”

“Listen,” says Mr. House, and we all listened. It was a faint kind of a
rumble. “Thunder,” says he. “Storm coming.”

“Let her come,” says Mr. Robbins.

“Got enough anchor chain out? This anchorage, just on the edge of the
channel, didn’t look any too secure to me,” says Mr. House.

“Oh, we’ll hold,” says Mr. Robbins.

Then it lightened, and the thunder sounded louder. Mr. House went up on
deck to take a look, and nobody said anything while he was gone. I had
that kind of a hungry feeling that always comes just as a thunder storm
is coming up—kind of a lightness in the stomach, and a tingling all
over. I’m not afraid of storms—but I can’t say I like them.

I kept my eyes on Catty, wondering what he was thinking about, and if he
had any scheme in his head. He didn’t look to me as if he had anything
in his head at all. Just kind of sleepy was the way he looked, and I
felt sort of discouraged.

Pretty soon the storm burst, and it was a dandy. The wind came down with
a roar, and thunder claps came so fast it sounded as if it was one big
long one. We could feel the _Porpoise_ roll and churn around, and things
cracked and creaked. Flash came right on top of flash, and you’d think
every one of them was hitting the water just outside. And then Mr. House
yelled down the companionway:

“Hey, come up. We’re dragging.”

Mr. Robbins jumped up at that, and so did we. I was going to rush right
up, but Catty grabbed my arm and hung on.

“Wait,” says he.

“What for?” says I.

“Never have another chance like this to look around,” says he. “Here’s
our chart,” says he, “laying right on this shelf. See, they’ve been
making calculations on it.” He folded it and stuffed it in his pocket.
“Going to be kind of hard for them to calculate any more,” says he.

He looked into the stateroom, and there, on the bed was a leather
document case. “Um.... Wish we had time to take a look,” says he, and he
reached for it. Just as he reached there was a sort of grating jar, and
we could hear voices hollering up on deck.

“We’ve drifted down on somebody,” says Catty. “Come on.”

He grabbed the document case and ran up the stairs, me right at his
heels—and, would you believe me, but there right against us, scraping
her paint off against ours, was the _Albatross_.

“Jump,” says I, but just then we drifted apart so we couldn’t jump. I
saw Catty draw back his arm and throw the document bag across the water.
It landed on the deck of the _Albatross_.

“Ahoy, the _Albatross_!” Catty yelled at the top of his lungs. “We’re
all right—aboard the _Porpoise_. Don’t worry.”



                               CHAPTER IX


It was pretty confused for a while, what with fending off and getting
the engine started, and I guess Mr. House and Mr. Robbins were too busy
to notice what we were up to. At last we got to moving, though, in the
blackness, it was hard to see where we were moving _to_. Not much to go
by but the flashes of lightning.

Catty got hold of my arm and drew me aft. “Guess we can’t do much more
good here,” says he.

“No,” says I, “and so far as I can see, we haven’t done a heap of good
anywhere.”

“Never can tell,” says he. “Wonder if they pulled the dink up on the
davits?”

“Dunno,” says I.

We were back on the after-deck by this time, and Catty started feeling
for a line. “It’s here,” says he. “The dink’s towing astern.”

“What about it?” says I.

“We’re going off in her,” says he.

“In this storm?”

“You bet.”

“All right,” says I, “if you aren’t scairt to do it, why, I guess I can
stick along. But I don’t like it.”

“Shucks,” says he. “Pull in on the line.”

We pulled and got the dink right under the stern. “Get in,” says he,
“while I hold her.”

I managed to get in the dink without going overboard, and then held her
there while Catty got in. Then we cast off. It seemed as if we were
fifty feet away from the _Porpoise_ in less time than it takes to tell
about it.

“Wait a minute,” says Catty, “and we’ll start the engine just as soon as
we’re out of earshot.”

Well, that was easier said than done. Neither of us knew much about gas
engines, and we didn’t know a thing about this particular engine, and we
didn’t dare make a light. We didn’t have anything to make a light with.
We sort of nosed around to find the switch and then I cranked her.
Nothing happened. I cranked some more, and then Catty cranked, and then
I cranked, and then Catty cranked.

“Never saw such an engine,” says Catty.

“For me,” says I, “I’d a heap rather have oars. You don’t have to crank
a rowboat.”

“There aren’t any oars,” says he.

“Wonder which way we’re drifting,” says I, “and I wonder what Mr.
Browning is thinking.”

“Bet we catch it,” says Catty.

“We can’t drift out to sea, can we?”

“Not very handy,” says he. “We’d have to go through the long channel,
and we’d be sure to run ashore before we did that. Wish this rain would
stop. I’m wetter than a drowned rat.”

“Let’s crank some more,” says I.

So we went at it again, and cranked until we wore the skin off our
hands, and until our backs were ’most busted. I never thought I could
hate anything like I hated that little gas engine. I could have taken a
sledge hammer and busted it and then thrown the pieces overboard to the
fish. But it wouldn’t start.

“Let’s holler,” says I.

“And have the _Porpoise_ come and pick us up?” says he.

“Anyhow,” says I, “let’s sit back and rest and see what happens. We’re
bound to drift ashore some place.”

“I guess that’s the best we can do,” says he.

It was mighty cold and disagreeable; the water was pouring down the
backs of our necks and dripping off our noses, and the wind was trying
to blow our clothes off, and the bay was kicking up so the dink rolled
and pitched like it was crazy, and every once in a while a wave would
come _splash_ against it and duck us good and plenty.

“Say,” says Catty, “if we don’t look out we’re going to fill up with
water and sink. Between the rain and these waves we’re getting more than
we need. Hunt around for a pail or something.”

We felt around and found a can, and for half an hour we took turns
bailing. I couldn’t see that we gained much, for every time we threw a
pailful out a wave threw one in again. But we broke even, which was
something. I never was so cold and uncomfortable in my life.

“If this is having an adventure,” says I, “I’ll stick to a quiet,
peaceful life.”

“Huh,” says Catty, “you won’t mind it in a week.”

“In a week,” says I, “I won’t mind anything. I’ll be frozen to death.”

“Fiddlesticks,” says he.

“I’m hungry,” says I.

“You’re like to be hungrier before you eat,” says he.

Just then there came a bright flash of lightning and not more than fifty
feet away we could see the shore—low, sandy shore.

[Illustration: WE CRANKED UNTIL WE WORE THE SKIN OFF OUR HANDS, AND
UNTIL OUR BACKS WERE ’MOST BUSTED]

“We’re drifting in,” says Catty. “We’re almost there.”

He was right for once. In about five minutes we did drift ashore, and
you can bet we jumped out mighty spry and pulled the dink up on the
beach.

“Wonder where we are?” says I.

“There’s the lighthouse ’way over there,” says he. “We must have drifted
almost back to the place where Mr. House was digging.”

“No comfort in that,” says I.

“The rain’s slacking up,” says he.

“Let’s run up and down to get warm,” says I, and for five minutes we
galloped up and down in the sand until we got up a sweat and felt a lot
better. By that time the rain was over and the moon came out and it got
some warmer.

“If we could only make a fire,” says I.

“And somebody would come along with some hot coffee and fried cakes,”
says he. Then after a minute, “Well, we might as well have some fun out
of it. Let’s pretend we’re marooned on a desert island by pirates. We
found out the secret of the place where they hid their treasure, so they
set us ashore and sailed away and left us.”

“Without a gun or any food,” says I.

“Yes. And we’ve got to live some way. The first thing to do is to
explore,” says he, “and see if there are any savages, or any animals we
can trap. Come on.”

So we started to walk—the way we thought Nantucket town was. All at once
the sand gave way under my feet and I slid down into a hole that was
half full of water.

“Here’s where the pirates were digging,” says I. “The rain’s caved in
the sides of their hole.”

I started to crawl out when my hand grabbed onto something hard and I
pulled at it. Whatever it was came loose and I tossed it out.

“What’s that,” says I. “Maybe it’s good to eat.”

“Looks like an old tin chart case,” says he. “Must have drifted ashore
and got buried in the sand.”

We looked at it as best we could in the moonlight. It was a tin tube
about three feet long and maybe three inches in diameter, and there was
a water-tight cap at the end that opened. “Huh,” says I, “I’d rather
have found a beefsteak—all smothered with onions.”

“Probably off some wreck,” says Catty, “and full of old charts. No good
to anybody.”

“Let’s save it,” says I.

“What’s the use,” says he.

“Tell you what,” I says, “let’s pretend it’s the chart to a treasure.
We’ve been hunting for it, and just as we find it, the pirates get on
our trail, and we can’t use it to go find all the buried gold. So we
have to hide it again. Hurry. They’re after us. Get down and sneak along
like they were all around and we were like to run into one any minute.”

So we went along hiding behind bushes and clumps of grass and such like,
and making believe the place was as crowded with pirates as a
county-fair grounds is with farmers.

“It’s funny those pirates didn’t find these maps,” says I, “when they
were digging. I picked this right out of the hole they dug.”

“Just luck,” says Catty. “They _almost_ found it. It was right on the
edge of their digging, I guess, and when the rain washed the sand down
it was uncovered. Mighty lucky, wasn’t it?”

“Mighty lucky it wasn’t the real treasure,” says I, “that Mr. Topper is
so hot after.”

“You bet,” says Catty.

Well, we kept going along till we came to a little tumbledown shanty
that Catty said he guessed had been used for a fisherman’s shack once,
and we stopped there and rested.

“Here would be a good place to hide our treasure map,” says he.

“Fine,” says I. “How’ll we do it?”

“Have to do it scientific,” says he. “Let’s see. Um.... Start at the
corner of the cabin toward town and walk eleven paces. Then face the
lighthouse off there on the end of the claw and walk fifteen paces.” I
did it. “Now face the light at the entrance to the harbor and walk nine
paces,” says he, and I did that.

“There,” he says, “dig a hole and bury it.”

So with our hands, we scraped a hole and stuck in the old chart case and
buried it and smoothed over the spot.

“Now,” says he, “we’ll have to have a map of the place where it’s
buried, so we won’t forget it or so we can send somebody to get it.”

“Nothing to make a chart of,” says I.

“We’ll find something,” says he.

So we went back to the shanty and nosed around, and inside we found a
shingle.

“We can cut a chart on this,” says Catty.

He got out his knife and started to cut. “We’ll make a better one when
we escape from this place,” says he, “but this will do to make us
remember the number of paces and the directions.”

“Sure,” says I, “and now let’s hit out for town. I’m fed up with this.
What I want is a bed and some hot food. Let’s get a hustle on us.”

With that we started out, and we hustled some. It was an hour or more
before we got to town, and then we wandered around quite a while before
we found our way to the dock.

“However will we get aboard?” says I, as we walked down to the water.

“Don’t know,” says Catty, “but there’ll be some way.”

And there was. Right at the end of the dock was a dink and in the dink
was Naboth.

“Hello, Naboth,” says Catty, “what you doing here?”

“What you doin’ here’s what I’d like to know,” Naboth says. “Never seen
such kids. Gallivantin’ off and worryin’ everybody to death—like as if
we didn’t have enough troubles without you cuttin’ up capers. I’d skin
you if I had my way.”

“Hope you don’t have it,” says Catty. “Where’s Mr. Browning?”

“Some’eres with Mr. Topper, lookin’ for a doctor or a horspittle. Mr.
Topper’s gone wrong in his inn’ards. All of a sudden he started to
holler with some kind of a misery in his stummick or some’eres, and
nobody couldn’t do him no good, though the cook filled him up with
mustard water and what not. Mr. Browning, he got scairt a while back,
and we loaded Mr. Topper into the dink, and lugged him ashore. Never see
sich doin’s in all my years afloat, and neither did Rameses III.”

“Well,” says Catty, “can you take us aboard? We’re wet and hungry and we
want to get to bed.”

“Pile in,” says Naboth, kind of cross-like.

So we got in and he started the engine and in a couple of minutes we
were aboard the yacht. Naboth went back to wait for Mr. Browning, and we
went down to see if we could tease some food out of Rameses III.

“Hungry,” says he, and he scowled at us like he wanted to throw us
overboard to the sharks. “Mealtimes is mealtimes. Them that can’t fill
up to the table goes hungry till next feedin’ time.”

“But,” says Catty, “this is a special case. It’s an emergency.”

“A what?”

“Emergency.”

“New kind of sickness?” says Rameses III. “Ketchin’?”

“Not catching,” says Catty, “an emergency means a special time, not like
other times, when something _has_ to be done.”

“Um.... And in this emergency eatin’ has to be done, I judge.”

“That’s what,” says Catty.

“You wouldn’t have got it if it hadn’t been for that word,” says Rameses
III, “but that’s a good word, and I kin use it arguin’ with Naboth. I
calc’late if I shove that word at him when he’s goin’ strong, it’ll jest
collapse him like a busted paper bag. Emergency, eh? Well, fer this
emergency you git coffee and a ham sandwich apiece and a handful of
fried cakes. Now go git them wet clothes off and roll into your bunks,
and I’ll fetch in the grub. Skedaddle out of this here galley.”

We skedaddled, and in five minutes Rameses III came in with a lunch that
would have made a cannibal’s mouth water even if he was chuck-full of
missionary. We gobbled it down, and that’s the last I remember. I went
to sleep so fast and so hard that I guess it set a new world’s record.



                               CHAPTER X


In the morning Mr. Browning hadn’t come aboard, but Naboth was there,
and he told us Mr. Topper was sick with a disease he called
pender-sidus, and had to be operated on. He said Mr. Browning had to
stay with Mr. Topper, and he didn’t know how long it would be.

“That’s bad,” said Catty to me, “not just because Mr. Topper has
appendicitis, though that’s bad enough, but on account of the treasure.
What’s going to become of _it_ while Mr. Topper’s sick and Mr. Browning
can’t attend to it?”

“Dunno,” says I.

“I know,” says he. “Mr. House’ll dig and dig till he gets it.”

“Now,” says I, “isn’t that too bad—after all the trouble we’ve gone to.
It doesn’t seem right. I’d like to see that treasure.”

“So would I,” says Catty, “and,” he says, with his chin sticking out
like it does when he’s got his mind all made up, “I’m going to see it.”

“Maybe,” says I, “Mr. House’ll show it to you.”

“Don’t be sarcastic,” says he, “it isn’t your strong point. Now tell me
this: what’s the matter with our going after the treasure ourselves? It
can’t do any harm, the way things are, and it may do some good.”

“I’m willing,” says I, “though we’ll probably make some kind of a mess
of it and get into trouble.”

We were sitting on deck while we talked, watching the _Porpoise_. While
we looked we saw them lower the starboard dinghy and Mr. House and one
of the crew got into it and rowed toward us. They kept coming until they
were alongside, and Mr. House looked up like he was kind of surprised to
see us.

“Well,” says he, “where’d you come from, and where’s our dink?”

“Oh, we got here all right,” says Catty, “and dink’s over on the beach
yonder.” He pointed. “We pulled it up so it would be safe.”

“Much obliged,” says Mr. House. “Where’s Topper?”

“In town,” says Catty.

“Browning, too?”

“Yes.”

“Huh.... Well, glad you got aboard all right. Good-by.”

“Same to you,” says Catty, “and many of them.”

Mr. House grinned and Catty grinned and I grinned, and they rowed away.

About an hour afterward Mr. Browning came out, and he looked pretty
serious. He told us Mr. Topper was very sick and the doctor said there
would have to be an operation that very day.

“No sickness ever came at a worse time,” said Mr. Browning. “It will be
terrible for Mr. Topper. He has made so many plans depending on the
success of the business we came here to look after. Now it looks as if
our expedition would be a failure. Poor old Topper.”

“It meant a lot of money, didn’t it?”

“I should say so,” answered Mr. Browning. “More than either of you ever
saw.”

“That,” says I, “wouldn’t have to be such a lot.”

“Maybe,” says Catty, “the pirates won’t find it.”

“That’s our only hope,” says Mr. Browning. “But they’ll have a long time
to try without interference.”

“Mr. Browning,” says Catty, “this is a kind of an emergency. Why don’t
you tell Wee-wee and me where to dig, and let us go after this treasure.
It would be another chance to win, and it couldn’t do any harm.”

“Why,” says Mr. Browning, “that’s so, but you might get into trouble. I
don’t imagine those men will be over gentle. It means thousands upon
thousands of dollars to them.”

“They’re not so bad,” says Catty. “You know we were aboard their yacht
last night.”

“Tell me about it,” says Mr. Browning, and we told him, and he listened
careful. “You threw a document bag aboard?” says he. “Huh. We didn’t see
anything of one.”

“I saw it strike aboard this yacht, and I believe it stayed,” says
Catty.

“Let’s look,” says I.

So we all went on deck to nose around, but not a thing did we find, and
Naboth said he hadn’t found anything when he swabbed the decks this
morning. It was mighty funny.

“Well,” says Mr. Browning, “that’s that. Um.... Look here, you fellows.”

He took us below and showed us a chart. “There’s something buried in the
sand out yonder. I shan’t tell you what it is, because it’s just as well
if you don’t know. Here are the directions to find it. Now, go to it,
but be careful. If you do get it, why, it’ll be the best day’s work
you’ll ever do.”

With that he went on deck, and Naboth took him ashore in the power dink.
Catty and I studied the map, and so far as we could judge, it showed the
place where the treasure was hid to be just about where Mr. House and
Mr. Robbins had been digging. It might have been there, or it might have
been a hundred feet or so in any direction of their hole, but anyhow, it
was close. The only way to tell, was to make exact measurements
according to the figures on the map.

“So far, so good,” says Catty. “I’ve got the figures memorized. Now we
better hide this map in a safe place so there’s no chance of anybody
sneaking aboard while we’re gone and stealing it.”

We looked around for a place to hide the map, but there didn’t seem to
be any safe places. We had to put it some place, though, so, in the end,
we hid it in back of the mirror and went on deck.

Then we got Rameses III to help us lower the other dink—the one you have
to row—and started to see what we could see. The _Porpoise_ was still at
anchor, and just as we got a quarter of a mile away, we saw a whopping
big steam yacht come in. She must have been close to two hundred feet
long, and she was a dandy. She steamed in, slowed down, and after
fussing around a while she dropped anchor. We watched and saw her lower
a boat. Then a man who looked big and fat got in and two sailors, and
they went chugging away, and would you believe it?—they headed straight
for the _Porpoise_. Yes, sir, they ran right up to her, and the fat man
went aboard.

“What d’you think of that?” says I.

“I think we’d better get a move on us if we want to lift this treasure,”
says Catty. “That looks to me like reinforcements to the enemy.”

“It’s a lot of reinforcements,” I says.

Well, we rowed on for half an hour, and then beached the dink close to
the spot where the digging had been going on, and got ashore. We hadn’t
gone a dozen feet before a man got up from behind a knoll and scowled at
us.

“Hey,” says he, “where do you think you’re going?”

“Walking,” says Catty.

“Well, take your foot in your hand and walk back into your boat,” says
he.

“Why?” says Catty.

“Because I tell you to,” says the man.

“What right have you to order us off this beach?” says Catty.

“None of your business,” says the man; “and don’t argue, but git.”

“Anybody has a right on any beach anywhere up to highwater mark,” says
Catty, “That’s the law.”

“I’m making the law right here, young feller,” says the man, “and I tell
you to git.”

“Do you own this land?” says Catty.

“No, but my boss has leased it, and he’s put me here to chase folks
off.”

“Oh, leased it, eh? Who’s your boss?”

“Don’t know that it’s any of your business, but his name is Mr. House.”

“Um....” says Catty. “Kind of a slick trick,” says he to me. “Wonder if
it’s true.”

“Don’t seem to make much difference to you and me whether it’s true or
not,” says I; “this feller can throw us off whether he’s got a right or
not.”

“I’m not so sure,” says Catty, and his jaw stuck out with that stubborn
way it’s got when he thinks somebody is trying to put it on him.

“Try it and see,” says the man, taking a step toward us. “Skedaddle.
Git. Vamose the ranch.”

“Hold on,” says Catty; “when did Mr. House lease this land?”

“How should I know?” says the man.

Catty stood a minute looking at the man, and then he kind of studied the
sky and peered at the sand and waggled his head. “Pretty slick,” says
he, and his voice was sort of admiring. “This man House isn’t anybody’s
fool, is he. I like to see a man with brains, even if he is a pirate.
Well, Mr. Guard, we’ll be getting along now, but you can get word to
your boss that we’ll be back.”

“I’ll be right here waitin’ for you,” says the man, with a grin.

“But,” says Catty, “you won’t see us.”

“I won’t, eh?... Jest try it once.”

There wasn’t any use standing there arguing, so we got into our dink
again and rowed back. We passed close to the big yacht that came in
while we were on our way out, and she was a dandy. I’ll bet she cost
close to a million dollars, and she had a crew of real sailors in
sailor’s clothes and everything. I’ll bet there were twenty men aboard
her.

“If that is really reinforcements to Mr. House,” says I, “I guess our
chances have gone glimmering.”

“Never give up till the last rooster dies,” says Catty.

Pretty soon we were aboard the _Albatross_ again, and we got down
Lloyd’s Register and looked up the new yacht. Her name was the _Dawn_,
and she was a hundred and fifty feet long, with some kind of engines
built in Philadelphia in 1913, and her owner was Jonas P. Dunn, of New
York! I looked at Catty and Catty looked at me. Jonas P. Dunn! The big
boss himself.

“Guess he thought Mr. House wasn’t doing his best,” says I, “so he came
up to take charge.”

“Must be a pretty big treasure to get a multi-millionaire like this Dunn
all excited over it,” says Catty.

“Bet there’s barrels and boxes and crates of gold and jewels,” says I.

Catty looked kind of discouraged. “Must be,” says he. “And what I want
to know,” he says, “is, how in the world you and me could carry off all
that weight of stuff even if we found it?”

“Give it up,” says I.

“Anyhow,” says he, “we might grab onto a boat load of it. You know a
dinghy full of diamonds would be worth a lot money. Better than
nothing.”

“Geewhillikins,” says I, “just think of it. A boat load of diamonds, and
every diamond worth a hundred dollars. Why, you could get ’most a
million diamonds in a boat.”

“Let’s not count ’em up till we get ’em,” says he.

“And rubies and emeralds,” says I. “Whoop!”

“And a man guarding them, and a yacht with twenty more men on it just
come to help guard it—and nobody but two kids to fight them all. Looks
kind of sickly, don’t it?”

“You bet,” says I.

“Just the same,” says he, “I’m going to gaffle onto at least a hatful of
those diamonds and pearls and emeralds in spite of all the guards and
yachts Jonas P. Dunn can fetch here.”

“Me, too,” says I, “but how’ll we go at it.”

“Stratagem,” says he.

“What kind of stratagem?” says I.

“I dunno,” says he, “but I’m going to sit down and think one out.”

“Bully for you,” says I, kind of sarcastic, “think out a couple, one for
me.”



                               CHAPTER XI


Naboth’s voice came back to where we sat, and it was loud, and
high-pitched and excited. “Rameses III,” says he, “you done it. You done
it as sure as if you’d fed him pizen.”

“What did I do? Tell me that. Say.”

“You give Mr. Topper these here appendy-siduses he’s got.”

“I never,” says Rameses III. “In the fust place, I never had none, and
what a feller hain’t got, he can’t give.”

“He kin make ’em,” says Naboth.

“I wouldn’t know how to make them things he’s sick with.”

“You don’t have to know how to make ’em.”

“Now you talk sense, Naboth. Stick to facts. Don’t git me riled. Take
warnin’ now—don’t git me riled.”

“Listen here,” says Naboth, “what is this here appendy-sidus, anyhow.
D’you know?”

“Hain’t got the faintest idee.”

“It resembles stummick ache, only it hain’t stummick ache, but worse and
lots more of it. It’s kind of related to stummick ache, sort of like a
cousin by marriage, or some sich relationship, and the place where it
hurts most is right under your belt. If you don’t git it cut out and
pickled in alcohol, why, you die. That’s what that there appendy-siduses
is. Clear to you now, hain’t it?”

“Calc’late so,” says Rameses III, “but what’s eatin’ me is how you come
to figger I give ’em or it or whichever ’tis, to Mr. Topper.”

“Hain’t I jest told you it was kind of stummick trouble?”

“You done so.”

“Wa-al,” says Naboth, like he’s proved some mighty important point.

“What’s that got to do with fastenin’ the crime onto me?” says Rameses
III.

“Why,” says Naboth, “stummick trouble is caused by things you eat.”

“To be sure.”

Naboth kind of backed off a step before he shot his next broadside, like
he wanted to be ready for any emergency that might come. “Wa-al,” he
said, “the’s jest one kind of food that causes this here appendy-sidus.
Jest one kind. And you been givin’ him that three times a day.”

“I have, have I. Not if I know it. Not me. I hain’t never fed nobody
food like that.... Say, what you talkin’ about. What kind of food you
mean?”

“The kind of grub you feed everybody aboard this boat—jest plain _bad
cookin’_,” says Naboth.

Well, sir! Rameses III let out a roar like a black bull with a bee sting
in his tail and made for Naboth. He hadn’t seen where the argument was
leading him at all, and when it dawned on him that Naboth was casting
aspersions on his ability as a cook, things began to happen. Naboth
ducked and ran, and Rameses III was right on his heels, hollerin’ for
vengeance. Up and down and around and around they went, and nobody in
the world can say how it would have ended up. Mr. Browning wasn’t there
to stop it, and Catty and I liked the circus too well to try. We just
stood by and watched, and hoped for the best. They’d trampled all over
the ship about a dozen times, and were just making the thirteenth trip,
when, as they passed the hatchway to the engine room, old Tom, the
engineer, stuck his whiskers out and took a look. Naboth was right
there. Tom reached up and gave Naboth a shove, and Naboth braided his
legs and took a header—not onto the deck, but right over the rail into
the harbor. Well, mister!

And then, what d’you suppose happened. Why, Rameses he turned on a
frightened yell. “He can’t swim,” says he, “He’ll drownd.” And without
waiting to take off his hat, he dived in. The next we saw he came up
with Naboth in his mouth, like he was a Newfoundland dog, and swam with
him to the jacob’s ladder, and we helped haul them in.

Naboth coughed out about a gallon of water, and Rameses III shook
himself and scowled, and says to Naboth, “I’d a let you drownd, dog-gone
ye, but if I had I wouldn’t ’a’ got the chanct to knock you into a
cocked hat like I’m a-goin’ to the minnit this tired spell’s wore off.”

“I wondered what old Tom was for,” says Catty. “Haven’t heard him say a
word yet, have you?”

“Guess he’s dumb,” says I. “Whoa. Look there. What’s going on?”

I pointed off towards the big steam yacht, and there, putting off from
her shining black sides, were two boats full of men. I grabbed the
glasses and counted. There were ten men altogether.

“Now what?” says I.

One boat made off up the bay toward the treasure ground, and the other
headed for Nantucket dock. Something was afoot sure, and our business
was to keep our eyes open to find out what. We found out in an hour that
we couldn’t find out. It was a puzzle. The first boat kept right on and
landed way up the beach near the hole Mr. House had dug. The second one
tied to the wharf and four of the men climbed ashore and disappeared. We
waited and waited, and pretty soon they came back carrying big bundles
and three or four things that looked like enormous fried cakes.

“Life preservers,” says I.

“Nope,” says Catty, “too heavy. Look how the men carrying them sag
down.”

That was so. Whatever those fried cakes were, they took all a man’s
strength to carry one. Well, the crew loaded them in the boat and then
they rowed off up the harbor and landed right by the first boat, and
unloaded. We couldn’t see very well, but we could make out movement
among the bushes and sand dunes like those ten men were working pretty
hard. Next we saw Mr. House put off in his power dink and go up there.

“To boss the job,” says Catty, “whatever it is.”

“I’ll bet,” says I, “we aren’t going to like it.”

“The harder they make things, the more credit to us if we beat them,”
says Catty.

Now that was just like him. He kind of liked to have things hard, and to
have to work like the dickens and puzzle his head. He said anybody could
do a thing that was easy, but it took a regular fellow to pull through a
tough job. Maybe that was so, but I says to him: “You can have all the
honor and credit that’s tied up to one of these tough propositions, but
just give me plain, easy sailing when there’s a treasure in sight. I
want to be sure of those diamonds and pearls, and no monkey business.”

“I never heard,” says he, “of anybody getting a treasure easy. In every
book I ever read the treasure hunters had to work and fight and had an
awful time before they got what they were after.”

“That’s all right to read about,” says I, “but when it comes to the
actual thing with me in it, I’d as soon it wasn’t so interesting. Nope,
just hand me my treasure on a silver plate, and I’ll take it without a
kick.”

“Fine treasure hunter _you_ are,” says he. “That’s against all the
rules. Why, a treasure you just stumbled onto, and then walked off with
without any trouble, wouldn’t seem like a treasure at all.”

“It would _spend_ like a treasure,” says I.

“If spending’s all you want of a treasure,” he says, as scornful as if
I’d asked him to come and steal apples from a blind peddler, “why you
can have it.”

“Well, why else do you want a treasure?” says I.

“To get it,” says he. “Just to show myself it can be done. Spending
isn’t much fun.”

“Maybe not,” I says, “but I like it in moderation. Say about a hundred
dollars a day to spend. Nothing big or extravagant, but just that.”

“I s’pose,” says he, “you’d buy a hundred dollars’ worth of peanuts and
chocolate ice-cream soda every day.”

“All but Wednesdays and Saturdays,” I says, kind of irritated, because
he thought he was so smart; “those two days I’d spend it for crackers
and cheese.”

He just shrugged his shoulders and squinted down the bay. “Say,” says
he, “what became of that document bag?”

“Must have gone overboard,” says I.

“Don’t believe it,” says he. “I’m going to have another look.”

“Anyhow,” says I, “it’ll be something to do.”

So we started in to search, and we hunted high and low, every place
you’d think a leather case might have dropped when it was thrown, but
not a sign.

“It hit up forward some place,” says Catty, so we went up in front of
the bridge and looked all over again. There wasn’t anything there but
the windlasses for hoisting the anchors and a couple of capstan bars and
some cleats and a sort of a skylight which gave air and light to the
crew’s quarters forward of the engine room. This was closed.

“Couldn’t have got in there,” says I.

Catty took a look anyhow. The skylight, or whatever they call it, was
built above the deck about six inches at the sides and maybe a foot in
the middle, and shaped like the roof of a house. There were hinges where
the peak of the roof would be, and both sides lifted up to let in air
when you wanted it. Underneath was a flat screen to keep out flies and
mosquitoes. Well, Catty lifted up the lid, so to speak, and there was
the leather case. It sure beat all. There it was, as big as life and
three times as natural.

“Huh,” says Catty, “I dunno as we could find a better hiding place for
it. Let’s leave it right there. It’ll be safe.”

“Fine,” says I, “and now that’s off our minds, what next?”

“We’ll go scouting,” says he.

“They say there’s fishing up the bay there,” says I.

“Good idea, we’ll scout and fish, too.”

So we put our tackle in the boat and rowed off. Rameses yelled at us to
be back at eight bells, or we wouldn’t eat, and we promised.

There were lots of little boats fussing around the harbor, motor boats
and big Cape Cod cats that carried thirty or forty folks on fishing
trips—summer visitors, mostly—and there were sailing dories, and
everything you could think of. It didn’t look much like a desert place
where you would think of finding treasure, but in spite of all the folks
and the cottages and hotels, the treasure was there just the same. It
was kind of funny to think about what was going on, and none of all the
people around there a bit the wiser.

We pulled along till we got abreast of where the sailors had landed, and
then we rowed in close.

“Let’s land and see what happens,” says I.

“We’ll give it a try,” says Catty, and we headed in for the shore. But
we hadn’t touched before a man came running toward us.

“Hey,” says he. “Private property. You can’t land here!”

“Who says so?” Catty asked.

“I do,” says the man, “and I’m plenty big to back it up.”

“Guess you are. Say, what’s going on here, anyhow?”

“Oh, a feller’s just startin’ a gold-fish farm. He’s settin’ out about
ten acre of seed and he calc’lates to thrash out about twenty bushel of
gold-fish to the acre. Goin’ to sell them to towerists.”

“Anyhow,” Catty says, “we can get an eyeful from here,” and that’s what
we did. We anchored off there and pretended to fish but we didn’t do any
real fishing, not to speak of, on account of not having bait. I don’t
know how it is other places, but right where we were the fish wouldn’t
bite a bare hook.

After we’d squinted at those men working ashore for half an hour, we
made out what they were up to.

“Well,” says Catty, “I’ll be jiggered!”

“Yes?” says I. “Why?”

“See what they’re doing?”

“Not very clear,” says I.

He scowled at me a second. “They’re setting posts,” says he, “all around
that part of the beach where there’s any chance of the treasure being,
and they’re going to put a barb wire fence around it.”

“Sufferin’ mackerel!” says I, “that cooks our goose.”

“It’s a mighty slick idea,” says Catty, “but folks have got through barb
wire before this.”

“But they tore their pants,” says I.



                              CHAPTER XII


“The worst of it is,” says Catty, “it’s all our fault.”

“How so?” says I.

“That chart, of course. They’d never have known where to dig if I hadn’t
fixed up that chart and wished it on Mr. House. Of course there was
rotten luck in it. We thought we were sending them off on a wild-goose
chase—and however we came to hit on the very spot where the treasure’s
buried, I can’t see. But we did, and there they are, and we’ve done it.”

“Well,” says I, “we did the best we could.”

“We butted in,” says he, “and if I was Mr. Browning, I’d take me and
drown me in a potato sack.”

“They haven’t found the treasure yet,” says I.

“But they’ve got it fenced in with barbed wire, and they’ll dig till
they get it if they have to dig up the whole shooting match. What’s
almost as bad, we can’t get a chance to dig at all. We’re licked,” he
says, and looked mighty doleful.

“We might watch them till they dig it up—and then sneak it away from
them,” says I.

“Fine chance,” says he. “You and I would look pretty getting a treasure
away from about fifty men, to say nothing of a barbed wire fence.”

“You’ve kept hammering it into me,” says I, “that there’s always a way
anything can be done.”

“If you can think of it,” says he.

“Then,” says I, “it looks like our job from now on is thinking.”

“Then let’s go back to the yacht and think,” says he.

We rowed back kind of silent and discouraged, and climbed aboard. The
whole crew were sitting up on deck smoking pipes when we came up the
ladder, and Naboth says, “There they be.”

“So they be,” says Rameses III.

But Tom, the engineer, didn’t say a word, like always.

“Boys,” says Naboth, “is a nuisance.”

“I hold,” says Rameses III, “that they hain’t.”

“Why?” says Naboth.

“Because there hain’t no law agin ’em. There’s a law against nuisances.
You can sue a man for a nuisance, and if you go commit some kind of a
nuisance or other, I dunno but what they could put you in jail. But the’
hain’t a state in the Union that’s got a law agin boys. Therefore,” says
he, “that proves they can’t be nuisances.”

“You’re wrong,” says Naboth, “like you always be. You hain’t got no head
to reason out things. No. All you do is git an idee, and then open up
your mouth and start talkin’. If a word of reason was ever to come out
of your mouth, your lips ’ud be so s’prised they’d blister. Now I hold
boys is the worst nuisances the’ is.”

“Why?” says Rameses III, kind of warlike.

“Because,” says Naboth, “they’re always _bein’_ nuisances, and nobody
kin discover a way to stop ’em. You can’t drownd ’em like kittens, can
you?”

“No.”

“Well, that proves it, don’t it?”

“Proves what?”

“That they’re nuisances.”

“Say.... You listen here, you deck-swabbin’ cousin to a sick porpoise!
That don’t prove nothin’. A boy’s a nuisance because you can’t drownd
him! I suppose an elephant’s a nuisance because you can’t pack his
shirts in his trunk, eh? Or a piano’s a nuisance because you can’t use
it for a cook stove. Allus knowed you was sort of touched in the head,
but I calc’late you’re about ready to be shut up with a keeper ’fore you
start to git vi’lent.... Now take these boys here. Be they nuisances?
And if they be, why? Let’s git right down to logic, as they call it.
Now, you tell me why these here two boys right in front of you is
nuisances.”

“Because they act like nuisances,” says Naboth.

“How?” says Rameses III.

“Well, in the first place,” says Naboth, “they’re boys, and bein’ boys
they’ve got to be nuisances, because boys always is. It’s like this, pig
is always pork, hain’t it? Can’t be nothin’ else.”

“Sausage,” says Rameses III.

“_Pork_ sausage,” says Naboth. “And cow always is beef, hain’t it?”

“Sure, beef.”

“And flounders is always fish, hain’t they?”

“Yes, but whales hain’t.”

“Here’s what I’m gittin’ at. Everythin’ is what it _is_, hain’t it?”

“To be sure.”

“Then,” says Naboth, kind of scornful, “boys is always nuisances. Guess
that proves it so’s even you kin see it.”

Rameses III kind of scratched his head like he was almost convinced, or
anyhow, like he couldn’t see any way out of Naboth’s argument. He acted
like he could see Naboth had made a _point_, and it was a hard point,
and one that not many people could jump over or walk around. He acted as
if Naboth had handed out a regular _clincher_, and Naboth acted so, too.
Why, he just sat back and puffed his pipe, and swelled all up with
pride, and winked at Tom, and grinned superior at Rameses III. He was so
proud of himself he was like to bust.

But all at once Rameses III kind of got his second wind and he leaned
forward and sailed in and before he got through with it, Naboth was
going down for the third time, and Rameses had hammered over a clincher.

“Listen,” says he. “Ships hain’t railroad trains, be they?”

“No.”

“But they both carry folks and freight, don’t they?”

“Yes.”

“And cows hain’t whales, be they?”

“No.”

“But they both give milk, don’t they?”

“Yes.”

“And pants hain’t hats, be they?”

“No.”

“But you wear both of ’em, don’t you?”

“Y-yes,” says Naboth, beginning to get kind of worried and losing his
grin of satisfaction. I guess he commenced to see what a trap Rameses
III was leading him into, and couldn’t see any way out of it.

“And barnacles is a nuisance, hain’t they?”

“They be.”

“Well, then, is boys barnacles?” says Rameses III, and he threw back his
head and let out a bellow, and slapped his knee, and rocked back and
forth in his chair, and reached over and poked old Tom in the ribs. I
thought he was going to have a fit. “There,” says he, “that settles it.
A barnacle is a nuisance, but a boy hain’t a barnacle, so a boy jest
can’t be a nuisance, because if he was a nuisance he’d be a barnacle,
and he hain’t a barnacle, and there you be.”

“I hain’t convinced,” says Naboth.

“And I hain’t convinced by _your_ argument,” says Rameses III.

“Tom here has heard both sides,” says Naboth. “Let’s leave it to him.”

“Sure,” says Rameses III, “Tom’ll be the judge. Speak up Tom, fair and
honest. Which of us has got the best of it? Which one made the best
argument?”

Tom puffed a few moments, and kind of waggled his head, and squinted his
eyes, and acted like a man trying to digest something pretty knotty.
Once he opened his mouth, but he wasn’t quite ready to say anything, so
he shut it up again, and held it shut with his hand, as if he was afraid
it might open up and say something before he wanted it to. It was kind
of hard for Naboth and Rameses III to wait. You could see they were all
het up and anxious, but neither of them dared say a word for fear of
upsetting Tom. Pretty soon Tom let loose of his jaw so he could open,
and rolled his eyes, and cleared his throat three times, and he spit
over the side. Then he blinked his eyes and stared at Catty and me. By
that time he got around to opening up his mouth.

“It’s a tie,” he says, and then shut his mouth and kind of locked it
again for the day.

Well, it was hard on Catty and me. There we were. With that argument a
tie, how were we ever to know whether we were nuisances or not, and it
would be weighing on our minds. You can’t help letting a thing like that
worry you.

It was kind of embarrassing, standing around there like that, and
wondering, so we went down into the cabin to talk.

“If the soldiers over in France,” says Catty, “could get through barbed
wire entanglements, and make trench raids, and capture prisoners, I
guess we can get through a single wire fence.”

“But what would we do with prisoners?” says I.

“We wouldn’t take prisoners,” he says, “we’d just get information.”

“But there’ll be guards.”

“So were there guards over in the trenches,” says he.

“Well,” says I, “I don’t like the idea much.”

“We’ve got to do it. It’s our duty.”

“Oh, it’s our duty, eh? That’s a different matter. I s’pose we’ll have
to go then.”

“Tonight,” says he. “Maybe we can borrow some wire cutters of Tom.”

“I’ve got over fences without wire cutters,” says I.

“It wouldn’t be right in this case,” he says. “You can’t have a trench
raid without wire cutters. It’s never been done, and if we were to go
wrong on an important thing, no telling what would come of it. You have
to do things _right_, and there’s just one right way.”

“That settles _that_,” says I, “but, all the same, I can climb a barbed
wire fence.”

“And we’ll go by land,” he says. “I never held much with naval attacks
on land positions. Look at the Dardanelles fight. The navy got all the
worst of it. No. We’ll make a land attack.”

“It’s a rotten long walk.”

“It’s strategy,” says he.

“Go ahead,” says I, “you know best.”

“We’ll wait till dark, and I hope it’s awful dark.”

“And we won’t be able to carry a lantern,” says I. “We’ll break our
necks sure.”

“What we’ve got to do is plan it out,” he says, “and know every move by
heart. It’s the only chance of success.”

“Sure,” says I, “but if we succeed, what do we get out of it?”

“Information,” says he.

“We’ve got that now. We know there’s a fence and men guarding it, and we
know they’re going to dig for our treasure.”

He just shrugged his shoulders as if I was asking a foolish question,
and maybe I was. Somehow I never know when I’m asking a foolish
question. Lots of questions I think are all right get me into trouble,
or get me laughed at. Asking questions isn’t safe. The best way is to
keep your mouth shut and saw wood.

“We’ll make a map,” says he.

“It’s a map that got us into all this trouble,” says I.

“This one won’t,” he says, and off he went to the chart case and got out
the chart of Nantucket, and then we found some paper and worked out all
our military maneuvers so we would know just what to do every second.

“We’ll have to have a zero hour,” says he, “and then a time to reach
every objective.”

“Fine,” says I, “but how’ll we see our watches in the dark. And
besides,” says I, “we haven’t any watches.”

“Pretend we have,” says he, and that settled another point.

Well, we managed to borrow some wire cutters from Tom, though it was a
hard job. He was about as easy to borrow tools from as an ordinary
person would be to borrow a nose or an ear from, but we wheedled it out
of him.

Then we waited. We read, and played checkers, and ate whenever we could
tease anything away from Naboth. It was a long time to wait, but after
hours and hours, it got dusk, and then we rowed ashore. By the time we
landed it was pretty dark, and so we started through town and out onto
the beach. And by the time we left the lights of Nantucket town behind
us, it was so dark you couldn’t feel the back of your neck.

“Just the kind of night I hoped for,” says Catty.

“Me, too,” says I, but I didn’t mean it. I didn’t like it. I wished I
had a lantern that threw a light like an arc lamp. I never did like the
dark, and I don’t care who knows it, and every time I stepped in a hole
and went onto my nose, I liked it less. One thing I was glad of. It was
a long way to the place we were going to raid and the longer it was, the
farther off the time was when we had to do it. I would have been willing
to put it off till next year.



                              CHAPTER XIII


There are different kinds of dark. There is just common, everyday dark,
like in a house before you light the lights; there’s the kind of dark
there is in a cellar; there’s the spooky kind there is in corners and
under beds; and there’s the kind of dark we ran into that night after we
left Nantucket town and started for the barbed wire entanglement. That
was a special, sticky, _solid_ dark. It felt exactly like we were
pushing our way through something that pushed against us and tried to
hold us back. There wasn’t a sign of moon or stars, and there _was_ a
fog. It was a dripping kind of a fog that almost was a drizzle. You
could hold your hand up at arm’s length before your nose, and you
couldn’t see a thing.

“Say,” says I, “what did you stop at the drug store for?”

“Soothing syrup,” says Catty. “I thought maybe you’d get nervous, so I
got something to quiet you down.”

“Huh,” says I, but I knew there wasn’t any use to ask him questions when
he was in a tight-mouthed humor. Mostly he was willing to talk things
over; but sometimes he got stubborn and in-growing, and then you
couldn’t pry anything out of him with a crowbar. “What you should ’a’
got,” says I, “is some sweet oil to rub on your jaw.”

He didn’t answer right back, but pretty soon he says, “The next board
you fall over—pick it up.”

“Sure,” says I. “I’ll wander around looking for a board to trip over.
Like one with a nail in it, wouldn’t you? I’d just as soon step on a
nail if it’ll help you out.”

“What I want,” says he, “is a broad board about as tall as a man.”

“Anyhow,” says I, “I’m glad you’re not looking for a darning needle. I
don’t know as I could manage to stumble on a darning needle tonight.”

“Wonder where we are?” says he.

“In a place I don’t like,” says I.

“You’ll be in one you like less pretty soon,” he says.

Well, we found out where we were in a couple of minutes and this is the
way we did it: It was as easy as falling off a log. Of course you have
to know how, and it isn’t everybody who knows how. I guess there aren’t
many people beside me who could have managed to do it, but that doesn’t
swell my head any. No. The thing it swelled was my nose. This nose I’m
wearing now. I don’t believe it looks like the nose I used to
have—exactly—but it works pretty good, and only a few people have
complained of it. I can still sneeze with it, and that’s a good deal. We
were going along as fast as we could, with our shoes full of sand, and
wondering where we were at. As I say, I was the one who found out. If
you’re going to a place straight ahead but have kind of lost track of
yourself, somebody will tell you to follow your nose, and you’ll get
there. I followed mine, and it led me _ker-slam_ against a wall! My nose
was a couple of inches ahead of the rest of me, so it found the wall
first. It found it so hard that it closed up like an accordion against
the rest of my face and then bounced me back. For a minute it wasn’t
dark any more. No. It was a regular Fourth of July. I said something out
loud.

“What’s the matter,” says Catty.

“I’ve poked a hole in a plank with my nose,” says I, grabbing hold of it
and trying to straighten it out. It wasn’t bleeding, thank goodness.
“I’ve found your board,” says I, “but maybe it won’t be any good. Maybe
I’ve busted it,” says I.

“Where?” says he.

“Just stick your nose out in front of you and walk toward my voice,”
says I, which he did, and then he found it.

“It’s the fish shanty—where we hid our treasure,” says he.

“No,” says I, “this is too hard. This is an awful hard building. Must be
built of ironwood.”

“Feel around for the door,” says he, “and we’ll go in and light a
candle, or a flash, and see what’s up.”

“Have you got a candle?” says I.

“No,” says he.

“Well,” says I, “I quit the practice of carrying candles around quite a
while ago.”

“Oh, dry up,” says he, “I borrowed Naboth’s flashlight. We can pretend
it’s a candle. Back in pirate days they didn’t have flashlights.”

“So these are pirate days?” says I. “There you go shifting time on me
again. I thought this was a trench raid in the war.”

“It was,” says he, “but now it’s a scouting party after a pirate lair—so
the flash has got to be a candle.”

“Candle it is, then,” says I, “but if you want me to do my best work,
you’ll have to keep me better posted. You’ll be having me jump out of a
cellar in a parachute some day, shifting like this without giving
notice.”

Anyhow, we fumbled around the shack and found the door, and went inside.
Then we shut the door again and Catty lighted the flashlight. It did
seem good to be able to see again. I’d missed it like everything.

“What we want now,” says Catty, “is a wide board, about as high as a
man.”

We looked all around inside, and finally located a board about the size
he wanted, and then we pried it out of the wall. He looked it over as
careful as if he was planning to eat it, and then he stood it against
the wall.

“You hold the flash,” says he, “while I work.”

“I’m busy holding my nose,” says I, “and I haven’t a hand to spare. It’s
swelled so it takes both hands to cover it.”

He pulled a little paint brush out of his pocket. “That’s what I stopped
at the drug store to get,” says he.

“Fine,” says I, “and now that you’ve got it, what?”

“Watch and see,” says he.

So I held the flash and he took a tube out of another pocket and stood
with his head cocked on one side studying the board, and then he began
to paint.

“Say,” says I, “that’s funny paint.”

“You bet,” says he.

“What’s the idea?” says I.

“Don’t you remember that paint we saw advertised in that boy’s magazine?
We were talking about what fun we could have with it. Well, I didn’t say
anything, but I sent off and got a tube, and I’ve kept it till the right
time came to use it. This is the time,” says he.

“You mean that night-shining paint?”

“Luminous paint, they call it. Got radium in it.”

“Bet it hasn’t,” says I. “Radium’s too expensive to put in paint. A
piece of radium as big as a pea, would be worth a hundred million
dollars.”

“Anyhow, they call it radium,” says he, “and it’s just as good for what
we want it for.”

“Go ahead and paint,” says I.

So he went ahead. Catty had quite a knack for drawing and now he did
better than usual. I guess he got inspiration out of the mess we were
in. He started at the top of the board, and I couldn’t make out what he
was up to for a while, but then I saw. He was painting a skull. It
didn’t shine much, but he said it was because we had a light. When he
finished the skull, he kept right on and drew a whole skeleton. Maybe
the skeleton wasn’t just right in spots, with every bone where it
belonged, and the right number of teeth and everything, but it looked to
me like a mighty fine skeleton. I never cared much for skeletons anyhow.
As I look at it, skeletons are a kind of a nuisance, and nobody wants
one around, especially at night.

In half an hour he was done, and he said to turn off the flash, which I
did, and then I turned it right back on again. That skeleton seemed to
jump right out at you as soon as the shack was dark. It didn’t look as
if it was painted on a board. The board just up and disappeared, and the
skeleton looked as if it was standing in the air and _glowing_. It gave
me the jumps.

“If that thing’s going along,” says I, “you can count me out. Two’s
company—three’s a crowd.”

“Fiddlesticks,” says he. “I’ll carry it. Guess we’re ready now. Come
on.”

“Hold the dog-gone thing with its back this way, then,” says I, “I don’t
want it staring at _me_.”

So we went out of the shack and headed for the pirates’ lair, or barbed
wire entanglement, or whatever it was Catty had decided it was now.
Looked to me like he’s made up his mind to have it be a graveyard.

“Go careful now,” says Catty, “and keep listening. We don’t want to run
into a trap.”

“You bet we don’t,” says I. “Won’t they have any lights?”

“Maybe lanterns,” says he.

It turned out there wasn’t much light. Pretty soon we got close to the
wire. Everything was quiet, but we could see a light in a tent, and
after a while we could hear somebody walking up and down.

“The sentinel,” says Catty.

“Is he inside the wire, I wonder,” says I.

“Why?”

“If he was outside we could sic the skeleton on him, and let it bite his
leg.”

“We’ll sic it on him, all right,” says he, “but first we’ve got to lead
up to it.”

“How?” says I.

“Hollow groans,” says he.

“I can do that,” says I. “My nose hurts so I can groan real natural.”

“All right,” he says, “you can be the official groaner of this
expedition, but don’t let go with one till I say so.”

“Hurry up, then,” I says, “because I feel a groan coming on.”

We started in then and crawled closer until we weren’t more than a dozen
feet from where the man was walking back and forth. We could barely see
a black shape where he was. We kept quiet, and before long another
sentinel came along and the two stopped to talk.

“Nasty night,” says one.

“Rotten,” says the other.

“I feel like I was back in the navy,” says the first one, “mounting
guard like this.”

“What’s it all about?”

“How should I know? The Old Man didn’t take me into his confidence.”

“Guess Jonas P. Dunn never told nobody nothin’,” says the other.
“Tight-mouthed old coot.”

“He knows what he’s up to, you can bet on that.”

“There’s diggin’ in it. Don’t s’pose he’s rim onto Captain Kidd’s
treasure or somethin.”

“Like’s not.”

“Hope ’tain’t so. Them old pirates allus buried dead men along with
their treasure, to guard it. The captain always killed them men that
helped bury it, so they couldn’t tell where it was hid.... And men like
that don’t rest easy in their graves.”

“Shut up,” says the other. “Hain’t it bad enough and lonesome enough
here in the dark without havin’ you harp on ghosts?”

“Well, facts is facts. If it’s pirate treasure we’re after, you can
calc’late on ghosts.”

“The’ hain’t no sich thing as a ghost.”

“Mebby not—mebby _so_.... As fur’s I’m concerned, I hain’t makin’ no
mock of ghosts. I’ve _seen_ ’em.”

“G’wan.”

“With starin’ eyes of fire, a-lettin’ out awful groans,” says the man.
“I hope I never see the like agin.”

“Honest Injun?”

“As sure’s I’m standin’ here. And that there ghost chased me nigh onto a
mile, with me runnin’ so’s I most left my hair behind.... Ghosts is
turrible things.”

“I wisht you’d shut up.”

“With starin’ eyes of fire,” says the man, “and them groans. I dunno but
what the groans was the wust part.”

Catty nudged me. “Groan,” says he.

I drew in a breath and commenced on the first end of a groan. It started
slow and low and kind of trembly, and then lifted up a little and got
louder, and sank back and turned itself over once or twice, and then
finished up with a rush. It was a fine groan. Of all the groans I ever
heard, and I’ve heard some first class ones in my time, that was the
best. It was a groan with _trimmings_. Not many fellows could turn out a
groan like that, and I couldn’t have, but for luck. Once Dad had the
siatiac rheumatiz, and I used to set around and study how he groaned. He
did as good as you could expect without practice; but I’d studied the
thing, and listened to the different kinds, and, if I do say it, I was
an expert groaner. And the pain in my nose helped.

When I let up there wasn’t a sound. Both those men were as quiet as a
doorknob. They just stood and listened.

“W-what was t-that?” says one of them after a minute.

“Wind,” says the other.

“It w-was a g-groan,” says the first one.

Catty nudged me. “Give ’em another,” says he, and I did. It was a better
one than the first, with more fancy fixin’s to it.

“Guess they won’t say _that’s_ the wind,” I says to Catty.

“Now watch,” says he, and I settled back to watch.



                              CHAPTER XIV


Those two guards were hanging onto each other, and standing as stiff as
fence posts. You’d have thought they were frozen. And then, all of a
sudden, Catty turned around his board so the skeleton side faced the
men. Well, _sir_! First one of them let out a yawp, and then the other
one let out a better yawp. It was a regular yawp competition. Catty
ducked his board out of sight quick.

“D-d-did you see t-that?” says one man.

“I s-s-saw s-something,” says the other, with his teeth chattering.

“It was a s-skeleton.”

“A-wigglin’ his arms and dancin’ and makin’ awful faces,” says the
other, which goes to show how easy it is to see things that _ain’t_.

“M-maybe we jest imagined it.”

“We didn’t imagine them groans.”

At that I set off another groan, and right on top of it Catty gave them
a short view of the skeleton again—and then we missed those men. They
went away from there. They didn’t go slow, either. If a jackrabbit could
have seen the jumps they took he would have curled up and died with
envy; and at every jump they turned loose a yell. Well, in about two
minutes the whole camp was in a rumpus. Lanterns began to show, and men
began to holler to know what was the matter, and there was a regular
mess.

“I guess,” says Catty, “we better kind of move away a little—around to
the other side.”

“We can’t,” says I.

“Why?”

“Because the barbed wire runs right down to the water.”

“That’s right,” says he. “Let’s go hide behind something close by.”

So we went and laid down to listen, and the noise kept up, and we could
hear a man talking loud and mad.

“Hey, what’s all this rumpus about?” says he. “Who’s doin’ all this
dog-gone bellerin’ and hollerin’?”

“We seen a ghost ... a pirate ghost,” says a voice, and we knew it was
one of our sentinel friends.

“You git back to your place,” says the boss, “and don’t leave it again.”

“Not me,” says the man. “Not for a million dollars. I’m all through
bein’ out there in the dark, with dead men under foot and skeletons
a-groanin’ and a-moanin’ all over the place.”

“Be you goin’ to obey orders?”

“Not if I was to hang for it,” says the man. There was a kind of a
silence, and then the boss says, “What was it you seen?”

“A skeleton, all over fire, and a-dancin’ and blubberin’ and a-pointin’
his finger at us.”

“Whereabouts?”

“Right beyond where we was standin’,” says the man.

“Show me.”

“I’ll show nobody. If you want to look, you kin look. It don’t make no
difference to me if you never see no ghost—and if you wait till I show
you one, why, you hain’t apt to see him. Me, I’m a-goin’ to git into my
bunk and kiver my head up with the blanket.”

Then the boss spoke to somebody else.

“Something scared them,” says he. “What d’ye suppose it was?”

“We’d better find out.”

“If somebody’s monkeying around here, Mr. Dunn’ll want to know about
it.”

“Come on, then.”

Catty and I could see them coming closer by the lantern they carried. In
a minute they stopped by the wire and stood looking, but there wasn’t a
thing to see.

“What’ll we do?” says I.

“Wait,” says Catty.

Well, they looked and looked, and listened and listened, but nothing
happened.

“Just got scairt in the dark,” says the boss man. “We better send
somebody else out to keep watch.”

So they went away, and in a couple of minutes some other men came along
to be sentinels. We let them get all set, and then Catty told me to let
loose a groan. I made a dandy. It was the best one I’d done yet. I
suppose the men were kind of nervous anyhow, on account of the other
rumpus, and when they heard me moan, they almost turned a flip-flop.
Then, right on top of it, Catty set up his skeleton and gave them a good
look.

That was the last of them. They went away faster than the other two, and
they yelled almost as loud.

“We’re having lots of fun,” says I, “but I don’t see we’re doing much
good.”

“We’re impairing the morale of the enemy,” says he.

“I can’t see where that pays any wages,” says I.

“It’ll get them so nervous,” says he, “they’ll be careless.”

“And then what?”

“Then,” says Catty, “we can go ahead with our scouting.”

About that time the boss man came back talking loud language, and what
he said was that he was going to stand guard himself for a while and
find out what it was that frightened the daylights out of his men. We
could see him light his pipe and stand leaning against a post.

“Wonder if he’ll scare?” says I.

“Wait a minute, and we’ll find out,” says Catty.

When he thought it was time, he gave me the word to moan, and this time
I really moaned. I’d had practice, and this one was mighty near perfect.
I don’t believe I could do better if I was to live a hundred years.

I’ll bet it was a shivery sound in the dark there, especially after four
other men had been frightened almost out of their shirts. Of course we
couldn’t see exactly what the boss man did, but I’ll bet he almost bit
his Adam’s apple.

“Who’s there?” says he, and his voice didn’t sound so harsh and bossy as
it did.

Catty held his hand over his mouth so his voice would sound hollow and
funny, and then he kind of sang, “Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest.”
Like that. And then he says, “Pieces-of-eight.... Pieces-of-eight....”
like the parrot in Treasure Island.

Then there was a little pause, and all at once he turned his skeleton
around so it faced the boss.

“Hey,” says the man, “who be you? You can’t fool me with your tricks.
Who be you?” But his voice sounded kind of wobbly. “You better come out
where I kin see you.”

“Walk the plank.... Walk the plank....” says Catty.

Anyhow this man wasn’t any coward. He was scairt, there was no doubt
about it, but he didn’t run.

“Hey, men,” he yelled. “Six of you come here. There’s somethin’ foolin’
around out here. Git a move on.”

“Now’s our chance,” says Catty.

“It looks as if now wasn’t,” says I. “They’ll catch us.”

“Don’t you believe it,” says he.

I guess they figured there was safety in numbers, for a bunch of men
came over together, and we gave them a groan and a peek at the skeleton.

“Over the wire and catch it,” says the boss. “Everybody over. I’m with
you. Nothin’s goin’ to hurt you. Ten dollars to the man that ketches
it.”

So over they came pell-mell, and just as they came, Catty set up the
skeleton in the sand, so it would stand without being held, where they
could see it.

“Come on,” says he, and he grabbed my arm. He didn’t drag me away, but
toward the wire.

“Hey,” I whispered, “you’re going the wrong way.”

“Shut up,” says he, “and come on.”

So I came.

The bunch of men were making a rush for the skeleton, and it was easy to
dodge them. In a minute we touched the wire, and I heard Catty snip, and
snip, and snip. “There,” says he. “We’ve cut their entanglement. Get a
move on you.”

We went through the gap and into the camp, and there we were. Just what
good it was going to do, I couldn’t see, and I don’t know as I see yet.
But it was exciting, and maybe that’s what Catty was after. He loved
excitement.

“They’ve captured the ghost,” says he, and I could hear him chuckle.
“Hope they enjoy it.”

While we talked I could hear his snippers going as he moved down the
fence and cut it in about a dozen places. “That’ll teach them to stick
up wire where they’ve no right to put it.”

“What do we do next?”

“Lay low and listen,” says he.

“For what?”

“To find out if they’ve discovered the treasure yet.”

“Where’ll we hide?”

“That’s what we’ve got to find out.”

There didn’t seem to be a soul in camp, for everybody had run over to
the side where the attack on the skeleton was going on. They seemed to
be looking hard for the folks who stuck it up, and there was a great
running around and hollering. It gave us a fine chance to nose around.

Right in the middle of the camp was a big hole, with trenches running
off from it in all directions. It looked like they intended to dig up
the whole enclosure in their hunt for the treasure, and it did look as
if they hadn’t found it yet. Not far from the hole was a pile of
supplies all covered with a tarpaulin, and we crouched behind it and
listened. It sounded as if the men were making a systematic hunt for us
along the beach. Lanterns were bobbing around and getting farther away.

“They’re going to comb the whole place between here and town,” says I.

“Fine,” says he, “the longer they stay, the better.” And then he slapped
his knee. “Whee!” he says kind of soft, but like he was tickled to
death.

“What’s the idee?” says I.

“Feel that box,” he says, “under the tarpaulin.”

“I feel it,” says I. “What’s in it?”

He scrouched down and got under the cover and, where nobody could see,
lighted his flash.

“It’s a case of sardines,” says he. “Help me haul it out.”

I did.

“Now dump it into this trench,” says he, and we did that, and covered it
with sand—right at the place where they had left off digging.

“There’s a treasure for ’em,” says he. “They’ll be digging there in the
morning, and the first thing, they’ll run onto that. Sardines! Oh, Billy
Patterson’s Mule! Sardines! They’ll think they’ve got the treasure till
they open it! Oh, don’t I wish I could be here to see it!”

You couldn’t beat that, could you? He’d have to play a joke on somebody
if he was just being blown up with dynamite.

“Say,” I says, “let’s do something that will be some good. This monkey
business isn’t helping Mr. Topper or Mr. Browning.”

“Well,” says he, “you take charge. What’ll we do first?”

“How should I know?” says I.

“You don’t want to be the boss?”

“No, but I want to do something.”

“All right. I’ll do whatever you say.” He waited a minute. “But if you
haven’t any ideas, why, leave me alone. We’ve got to trust some to
luck.”

“If we get caught in here,” says I, “we’ll need something besides luck.
What we’ll need will be a two-inch plank inside the seat of our pants.”

And then, so sudden it almost made me jump out of my shoes, a voice out
of the darkness says, “Who’s there?”

We dropped flat and didn’t even breathe. The man came nosing over and
went past us. It was lucky he didn’t have a light.

“I heard somebody, sure’s shooting,” he muttered. “Better git me a
lantern.”

He moved past, and Catty whispered in my ear. “He’ll be back with a
light.”

“Yes,” says I, “and then what’ll happen to us can’t be played on a
flute.”

“Here,” says he, “crawl in under, quick!”

He was holding up the side of the tarpaulin that covered the supplies,
and I crawled under. He came right after me. The canvas hardly dropped
in place before we heard the man coming back, and he had a lantern.



                               CHAPTER XV


When I saw the light of that lantern I began to think. Right off I
realized I should have started up my thinker a long while ago. There we
were—Catty and I—under a tarpaulin and entirely surrounded by canned
tomatoes and baked beans and enemies. There wasn’t any reason for our
being there that I could see, and there were a million reasons for our
being some place else. I was sore. At that minute I could have taken
Catty and whacked him across the nose with something heavy and
painful.... The way it looked to me was this:—He had gotten us into this
pickle just for the sake of getting us into a pickle. He hadn’t had any
plan at all, but just that everlasting desire of his to have an
adventure out of a story book.

That was it. He had played pirate, or whatever game he had in his head,
and had gone along with it till he got out where his feet couldn’t touch
bottom, and I went with him like a ninny. Now the adventure we were
likely to have wasn’t one out of a story book at all. It had all the
look of a real one with lots of grief in it.

Of course neither of us dared whisper, and we could hardly breathe under
that thick canvas. We didn’t object to that especially. I would have
been willing to have the canvas two feet thick. Then nobody could have
seen through it or heard through it.

The man with the lantern came closer and walked all around the pile of
supplies and then sat down on something and lighted his pipe. I could
have reached out and scratched his back. If he hadn’t been deaf as a
brickbat he would have heard my heart beat, and I was pretty sure I
wouldn’t be able to hold it down inside me where it belonged. It acted
like it wanted to settle in my throat, or maybe come popping right out
of my mouth. There was a box corner that gouged me in the middle of the
back and was about ready to poke a hole through my skin, and my left
foot was asleep and prickling like the mischief, and I was hot and
sweaty and lonesome. I don’t believe anybody was ever so uncomfortable.
The worst of it was I couldn’t complain. When you’re feeling sore at
everybody and everything, it helps a lot if you can roar about it.

Catty was right alongside of me, which was some comfort, though not so
much as if I had dared jam a pin into him two or three times. I wished I
could go to sleep, but didn’t ever try it on account of snoring.

Well, after I’d sat there all cramped up for two or three weeks, I heard
another man come along and sit down by the first one and light his pipe.

“What was all the rumpus?” he says.

“I dunno, but I don’t like this place. Them men seen ghosts.”

“Mebby so—mebby not. Say, ever hear of a feller that was _hurt_ by a
ghost?”

“Don’t call none to mind; if you don’t count bein’ scairt to death.”

“Ever hear of a ghost cuttin’ barb wire?”

“I calc’late they could cut anythin’ they wanted to cut.”

“They wa’n’t ghosts,” says the second man.

“What was they, then?”

“Folks.”

“What folks?”

“Why, folks that want to git rich.”

“Um....”

“Same as you and me want to git rich. You do want to git rich, don’t
you?”

“So’s never to have to work no more, and to buy me a sloop and go
sailin’ with plenty of grub and all the terbacker a feller kin smoke.
You bet you. Rich!... I’ve allus had a hankerin’ to git rich.”

“The boss is rich, hain’t he?”

“Awful rich.”

“Come here to git richer, didn’t he?”

“Calc’late so.”

“Figgered to take a lot of money away from this here sandbar, didn’t
he?”

“Hain’t give it much thought.”

“Maybe a million dollars.”

“How d’ye know?”

“Look at the cost of all this. Payin’ wages and all. He’s diggin’ for
treasure, hain’t he? Plain as the nose onto your face. Buried treasure.
Put here by them ol’ pirates.”

“Think that’s it?”

“Sure.”

“How much d’you figger them pirates buried?”

“They never bothered to bury nothin’ less’n a million. Near’s I kin find
out, they allus spent their small change leadin’ a gay life in port. But
when they got a million all to wunst, they up and buried it.”

“Um....”

“How much d’you figger would make you rich enough?”

“Wa-al, if I was to have say fifty thousand dollars out at interest——”

“Me, too, and, mate, this here’s the first chance I ever see to come by
that sum of money.”

“Come by it? What d’ye mean?”

“It’s here, hain’t it?”

“Looks that way.”

“Then,” says the man, “what for do we dig it up for Jonas P. Dunn? Why
don’t we jest dig it up for ourselves?”

“Because Jonas P. won’t let us.”

“How many is there of him?”

“Jest one.”

“Sure—and there’s a lot of us. Suppose now, jest suppose, twenty of us
says to ourselves that it was a heap better if we was to take this here
treasure and divide it up into fifty-thousand-dollar lots—one for each
of us—than it is to dig it up and hand it over to Jonas P. Dunn? Eh?
What then?”

“Oho!... Ahum!... Fifty thousand!”

“And easy come by.”

“How easy?”

“Nothin’ to do but git the twenty of us all ready, and then, all of a
sudden, to grab onto Jonas P. and the mate and them friends of his’n,
and tie ’em up, and grab the treasure and the yacht and—off we go.
Easier’n catchin’ herrin’ in a net.”

“Mebby some fellers would stick by him.”

“Shucks! With fifty thousand in the offing. Not much. I’ve kind of
sounded out more’n a dozen, and every one’s willin’. I’ll finish up
tonight, and know where everybody stands. Git twenty as easy as fallin’
off a log. I’ll be captain, and give the signal. When the time’s ripe
I’ll pass the word, and we’ll jest keel over everybody that’s like to
interfere, and smouge the treasure and off we go. Simple, hain’t it?”

“Sounds kind of easy.”

“Be you with us?”

“You bet you,” says the man with the lantern, “only I hain’t hankerin’
to git caught.”

“For doin’ what?”

“Stealin’.”

“Stealin’ what and off’n who?”

“A million dollars off’n Jonas P. Dunn.”

“’Tain’t his treasure, is it? Got as much right to it as he has, hain’t
we?”

“Wa-al, now you put it that way, I dunno but what we have.... But hain’t
it mutiny?”

“We don’t aim to harm nobody—unless we jest got to. And we’ll jest take
his yacht fer a little pleasure cruise—like. We don’t aim to keep it.
We’ll cruise till we find a safe place to land, and then we’ll go ashore
and divide up the treasure, and everybody skedaddle in a different
direction—and live rich and handsome forever after. Who’s a-goin’ to
ketch us, and how be they a-goin’to go about it?”

“Sounds like you was right. Sounds mighty easy.... Um.... Fifty
thousand. Put out to interest that’s a deal of money. Lemme see,
supposin’ I was to git six percent on it all, what would that amount
to?”

“Three thousand a year. I got it all figured out.”

“Shucks! Three thousand. Feller could live in a regular hotel with that
much to spend. Say, mate, I’m with you. You kin count on me from
vegetable soup to toothpicks.”

“Thought I knowed a man when I seen one. Shake.”

They shook hands, and then the man who had thought up the scheme says:
“I’m captain. Somebody’s got to be till this is pulled off. I got to
have authority and all hands has got to mind what I say.... Jest sit
tight till I give the sign, and then we’ll jump ’em. Keep your eye
peeled and don’t waggle your tongue.”

Then he moved off and left the man with the lantern thinking it over and
spending his fifty thousand dollars, I guess. Catty reached over in the
dark and put his hand on my knee, and I could tell he was tickled to
death. This was a better adventure than he ever had any idea of running
into, and it came free, as you might say. It was extra, without any
cost. I could see his face just as well as if it was light as day. I
know he’d got kind of pale and that his eyes were shining like they
always do when he’s excited. Say, he wouldn’t have taken fifty thousand
dollars for his chance at this adventure. Me? Well, I’d have given fifty
thousand to be fifty thousand miles away from it!

Just where we were going to fit into it, I couldn’t see for the life of
me. We’d fit in some place, all right, but it looked to me like it would
be an unpleasant fit. It was bad enough to be shut up in the enemy’s
camp, but now we had two sets of enemies, and the last were worse than
the first.

I’ve read about mutinies, and I know what mutineers do to cabin boys and
such who happen onto the secret of their plot. I thought of a dozen
stories, and every one was worse than the one before. The back of my
neck got prickly, and I came close to giving myself up altogether.
“Here’s the finish of Wee-wee Moore,” says I to myself, “and likely
nobody’ll ever know what become of me.”

For another two or three weeks I sat being awful sorry for myself, and
then the man with the lantern got up and walked away. I listened, and
heard him going farther and farther, and then everything was quiet. The
camp sound asleep, it seemed as though.

Then Catty leaned over with his lips close to my ear and whispered.

“Isn’t it—_gorgeous_?” he says.

“Yes,” says I, “_it ain’t_.”

“I never expected to be mixed up in a real mutiny. Pirate treasure was
fine, but who ever would expect to pile mutiny on top of it?”

“Not me,” says I, “or I wouldn’t have come.”

“And we’ll make out to be the heroes—like Jim in Treasure Island,” he
says.

“Thank you,” says I, “none on my plate. I got enough.”

“Why,” says he, “it’ll give you something to think about all the rest of
your life.”

“Seeing,” says I, “that my life ain’t apt to last much more’n a few
hours, that isn’t much comfort.”

“Rats,” says he, “the heroes always get out of it somehow. I never read
a book where the hero came to much harm.”

“This,” says I, “isn’t any book. This is awful real. There’s a real box
corner prodding a hole in my hide. This is a real tarpaulin that’s
choking us to death. Those are real men with arms and legs....”

“Fiddlesticks,” says he. “We’re in for the adventure of our lives. We’ve
got to circumvent these mutineers and save Jonas P. On top of that,
we’ve got to grab the treasure for Mr. Browning and Mr. Topper, and——”

“I know the undertaker back home,” says I, “and I never liked him.”

“Who you’ll get to know,” says he, “is the president of the bank. And if
this goes right, he’ll take off his hat to you the next time you pass.”

“Folks,” says I, “and even the bank presidents, take off their hats to
funeral processions.”



                              CHAPTER XVI


“A little sleep wouldn’t do me any harm,” says I.

“Go ahead and sleep,” says Catty.

“Maybe it can be done,” says I, “but I haven’t ever got used to sleeping
on the corner of a case of canned corn. The difficulty,” says I, “is
where to put my feet.”

“Um.... Let’s fix up a place to be comfortable,” says Catty. “It’s dark
enough, and with this mutiny plot going on, nobody’s going to keep close
watch. We’ll make us a cave,” says he.

“You go ahead,” says I, “and when it’s done call me.”

“I mean it,” says he. “We can shift these boxes, and kind of pile them
around, and make a space in the middle big enough to lie down in. It’ll
be safer, too. Kind of a hiding place.”

“All right,” says I. “Commence.”

It turned out to be easier than I thought. We just shifted cases and
rucked them away cautious and piled them in a tier around a spot about
five feet square, right slam in the middle of the pile. It took a half
an hour, because we had to work slow and be careful not to make any
noise. When it was done Catty says, “I’ll take the first watch and you
snooze. In two hours I’ll wake you and it’ll be your watch.”

So I cuddled up on the sand and shut my eyes. At first the sand felt
kind of soft and comfortable. Pretty soon it wasn’t so soft, and then it
started to get _hard_. In fifteen minutes it was harder than any rock I
ever heard of. It was a _mean_ hard—the kind of a hard that reaches out
and pokes you. Never again as long as I live will I try to sleep on
sand. I ached and creaked. But I was so tired and so sleepy that pretty
soon I fell off to sleep and dreamed dreams. I never was so busy
dreaming in my life, and none of them pleasant.

It seemed as if I’d hardly shut my eyes when Catty shook me and
whispered that it was my watch.

“You said I could sleep two hours,” says I.

“You have,” says he. “Two long ones.”

“I just this minute laid down,” says I, but I got up just the same, and
rubbed my eyes, and felt like a boiled owl. Catty curled up in the
corner, and that was the end of him.

I never thought two hours could be so long, but they can. Just sit in
the dark, all alone, scairt half stiff the way I was—do it for five
minutes and see. Why, five minutes is a week long, and two hours is the
best part of a year. I don’t see why it takes men a couple of months to
build a house. If all hours are as long as mine were then, a dub
carpenter could build a hotel in fifteen minutes.

It was lucky nothing happened. I could hear somebody walking around
every little while, and thought it was a guard, but that was all. I woke
Catty, and took another snooze myself, and then it was morning. Morning
means breakfast, and I’m partial to breakfast. When I get up I want
food, and if I don’t get food, why, I’m not so awful happy.

“Catty,” says I, “got a cup of coffee in your pocket?”

“Boys shouldn’t drink coffee,” says he. “It says so in the book.”

“All right. Give me a glass of milk and about twelve flapjacks and two
or three fried cakes, and I’ll call it square.”

“Well,” says he, “I don’t see why we should starve when we’re almost
buried in food.”

“Raw canned peas don’t strike me very hard for breakfast food,” says I.

“No, but there must be crackers or biscuit, or something like that, and
maybe canned meat. I’ve heard there’s nothing like the juice of canned
tomatoes for thirst.”

“Uhhh!” says I.

“You always read about cowboys drinking it,” he says, “in wild-west
stories.”

“Let’s see what we can find,” says I.

We didn’t find much that was useful. But we did make out a breakfast
after a fashion. The difficulty was opening cases without making a
racket, and the way we did it was to cut into them with our jackknives.
It was slow, but it worked. There were some crackers like hardtack, only
harder, and there was a case of cans of corned beef, and I found a big
box of sweet cookies. It saved us from starving clean to death, but it
didn’t help the thirst any.

“Let’s try the tomatoes,” says Catty.

“You take the first swig,” says I, “and if you live through it, I’ll
come next.”

“Nope,” says he, “we’ll open two cans. I’ll count three and we both
drink at once.”

So we got out a couple of cans and bored two holes in the tops, and
Catty says, “One—two—three.” Neither of us made a move.

“Bad start,” he says. “Try again.”

It’s lucky few things are as bad as you think they are going to be. This
wasn’t. Tomato juice wouldn’t be an awful punishment if it wasn’t for
the seeds. You kind of have to drink through your teeth so as to screen
the seeds out. When we got used to it we could do it pretty accurate,
and the juice was wet. It was mighty refreshing, too, when we finally
got it down, and right off I felt a lot better.

“Now what?” says I.

“Nothing but wait,” says he.

“We can’t get out of here by daylight.”

“Not a chance.”

“And it’ll be ten hours before dark again. I’m crazy about being cooped
up here for ten hours.”

“Maybe,” says he, “something will happen to pass the time away.”

“More’n likely,” I says, “what with mutiny and all that’s going on.”

“They won’t mutiny,” says he, “until the treasure’s found. It would be
foolish. But the minute anybody digs up any gold, why, off she pops.”

“It doesn’t seem right to stay here, knowing there’s going to be a
mutiny, and not give this Jonas P. Dunn warning of it. I never heard of
any heroes that stay around and allowed mutineers to do what they
wanted. Heroes always do something smart and wonderful, and rescue all
the good folks.”

[Illustration: THERE WAS EXCITEMENT FOR A MINUTE AND EVERYBODY CAME
RUNNING]

“There’s something in that,” he says kind of thoughtful. “I’ll think it
over.”

It wasn’t long before the digging commenced right alongside of us, and
you can bet we were pretty interested. Any shovelful might uncover the
treasure, and then things would pop. It was like waiting for somebody to
jab a pin into you. Exciting? Sure it was, but I can do with less
excitement and more peace and comfort.

Then I remembered the case of sardines we buried the night before. I
just remembered it in time. One of the diggers let out a yell, and
everybody gathered around and there was excitement. I never saw a mutiny
start, so I don’t know exactly how it’s done, but I was ready for
anything, and I was glad I could swim. My mind was all made up to take a
header into the water—if I could get that far—and just swim. I’d swim
any place so long as I got away from where I was. Treasure didn’t mean a
thing to me. Whatever interest I had in it could have been bought for a
rusty horseshoe nail.

There was excitement for a minute and shouting and everybody came
running. But then a man busted open the case with his pick, and it
wasn’t anything but sardines. We were peeking out from under the
tarpaulin, and you never saw anything sag like that gang of men did. The
mutiny was ripe to pick, I guess, but it just laid down and groaned. You
never saw any crowd so disgusted in your life. Even Mr. Dunn came
running over, but when he saw what had been dug up he was the maddest
man in the country, and he acted it.

“If I find out the joker who buried that thing,” he says, as vicious as
a yellow dog, “I’ll fix him so he won’t joke again for a day or two.”

The men just looked at him and scowled. He walked off and the digging
commenced again, but somehow there didn’t seem to be such a lot of
enthusiasm about it. We could see one man who kept circulating among the
others, and right off we guessed he was the fellow who had got up the
mutiny, and that he was patching it together so it would run again when
he needed it. He was a big man, and there was something about his face
that I didn’t like a bit. He looked like the kind of man who would be
careless with other folks’ health.

So things quieted down again and the digging went on and waiting went
on.

“I wonder,” says I, “what they think on board the _Albatross_. I’ll bet
Naboth and Rameses III are boiling over. They’ll think we’re drowned or
something.”

“Can’t be helped,” says Catty. “When there’s an adventure like this
going on, somebody’s got to worry. They always do. It might as well be
Naboth.”

“What,” says I, “if they come to this pile for grub—and what if they
notice how we’ve piled up boxes.”

“They won’t,” says Catty, but he said it more like he hoped so than as
if he thought so.

It wasn’t more than ten minutes later when a mate or somebody came along
with a gang of men, three or four, and stopped.

“This pile of chuck,” says he, “has got to be moved. They’ll be digging
here before the day’s over. You men get to shifting it over to the
northeast corner there. Clean it up, and then spread the tarpaulin over
it again.... On the job, now.”

Nice, wasn’t it? And there we were roosting right in the middle. I know
how it feels to be inside of a banana and have somebody strip the
peeling off. It isn’t a comfortable sensation. They would go ahead and
just move the walls from around us, and there we’d be left as big as
life and twice as natural. And then somebody might get curious to know
what we were doing there. Somebody was almost sure to get curious about
it.

“Catty,” says I, “the mutineers will guess we’ve been here all night,
and that boss mutineer will know we overheard his plotting—and then
what?”

“Then,” says Catty, “it will be up to us to do something pretty slick to
escape. The heroes always escape somehow.”

“I wish,” says I, “you’d be real quick and think up how _these_ heroes
are going to escape. I’ve a feeling in my bones that it’ll take a
slicker scheme than usual.”

“If we only had some hollow pipes about two feet long,” says Catty.

“Then what?”

“Why, we’d just dig ourselves in, and let the pipes run up through the
sand to the air, and we’d lie there as comfortable as bugs in a rug and
breathe.”

“I don’t s’pose,” says I, “anybody would stop to wonder what those pipes
were sticking up for. Oh, no.”

“Anyhow,” says he, “we haven’t got them. And besides they’re going to
start digging this way, and so they’d dig us out anyway. It wasn’t a
very good scheme.”

“I wasn’t crazy about it when you mentioned it,” says I.

“Well,” says he, “you think of something now.”

“Me?” says I. “All I can think of is having a balloon come along and
drop us a rope. But I haven’t seen a balloon around here anywheres.”

“There’s some way out of it,” he says. “There’s always a way out of
everything. It just takes brains to get out of any kind of a fix.”

“There’s canned peas and tomatoes and corned beef, but I haven’t run
onto a crate of brains in this pile,” says I.

“So far as I can see,” he says, “you never ran onto many brains
anywhere.”

“There,” says I, “goes the first box. About seven minutes and we’re
going to be answering questions there isn’t any healthy answer to.”

No gang of men ever moved boxes as fast as that crew did. And then one
of them stripped the tarpaulin off the top of the heap and let in the
sunlight on us. We crouched close to the wall of boxes and put off being
discovered as long as we could. The number of cases between us and
trouble was getting mighty small.

“No scheme yet?” says I.

“Nary scheme,” says he, “but it’ll come. It’s got to come.”

“Just get the first end of it and give me a hold of it,” says I. “The
way I feel I could pull a scheme right out of anybody tail first. That’s
how bad I need one.”

Then a man took a box off the top of the inner row, and another one took
another box and another took another box.

“You’ve got about six seconds now,” says I.

“One second will be enough—if I get it,” says he.

“I wonder how it’ll feel?” says I.

“What?”

“Why,” says I, “whatever it is that’s going to happen to us.”

He shrugged his shoulders, and then his eyes got bright all of a sudden
and he reached over and poked me.

“I’ve got it,” says he.

“It’s time,” says I, and then a man’s arm reached over and took a box
from right in front of us.



                              CHAPTER XVII


“Quick,” says I.

“Push,” says Catty, and he got his shoulder against the cases on the
opposite side of the pile from the man. I didn’t stop to ask why,
because there are times when there’s nothing to do but what you’re
told—and to be mighty rapid about it. I shoved, and over went the boxes.

“Out,” says Catty.

I jumped over and was set to make a dash for the water and swim for it,
when Catty grabbed me. “Don’t run,” says he, “walk slow and act as if
you had a right to be here.”

“Walk where?” says I.

“Keep alongside of me,” says he. “This is where we pull the lion’s
whiskers.”

I don’t remember where we walked. My mind was on something else. You can
bet it was. So I just tagged Catty and we walked around aimless like—or
that’s the way it seemed to me—for about seven hours. I began to feel
for long whiskers on my chin, because it seemed as if I’d been inside
that barb wire long enough to be at least seventy years old. Another
night like the last one and Methuselah wouldn’t have a year on me.

Then, all of a sudden, a man came bearing down on us, and he looked
awful belligerent.

“Hey, you,” says he. “Where you think you’re goin’?”

“Who?... Us?” says Catty, kind of like he was about two-thirds of half
witted.

“Yes, you.”

“We’re lookin’ for somebody,” says Catty.

“Well, you’ve found him. I’m him....” He made a grab for our collars.
“How’d you git here?”

“Oh,” says Catty, “we just come.”

“Huh.... Well, now you’re goin’ to just go,” he says, and his voice was
mean. I didn’t like it at all. You could tell by it that his toe was
itching to get acquainted with the seat of somebody’s pants.

“You’re him?” says Catty. “Then we can deliver our message.”

“What message?”

“The one we came to bring.”

“Say, be you tryin’ to make fun of me?”

“No, sir,” says Catty, “we wouldn’t make fun of anybody. We wouldn’t
know how. Honest.... All we want to do is give our message and get paid
for it, and go back. We’re in a hurry, we are. We aim to go fishin’.”

“You’ll fish when I git through with you,” says the man.

“Yes, sir,” says Catty, as meek as Moses.

“How’d you git in here?”

“Jest walked.”

“Nobody try to stop you?”

“What ’ud anybody stop us for?” says Catty, all full of surprise. “We
come on business.”

“Who sent you?”

“I dunno his name. He said when we delivered the message we’d get paid a
dollar. And we’re goin’ to git paid, too. Yes, sir. We’ll get paid, or
else there’ll be a lawsuit.”

“Huh.... Say, who’s this message fer?”

“A feller by the name of Dunn. Jonah Dunn, or suthin like that. Know
such a feller?”

I could have melted and run right there. It looked to me like the last
man in the world we wanted to see was this Jonas P. Dunn, and here was
Catty fixing things so we’d be taken to him. I scowled and started in to
say something, but Catty grabbed my arm so hard he left marks on it, and
says, “My cousin here hain’t very bright. You got to make allowances for
him.”

“I wouldn’t say either one of ye was cut out to be college perfessors,”
says the man. “Did a Mr. House send ye?”

“Dunno if he was house or barn,” says Catty.

“Give me the message.”

“Be you Mr. Dunn?”

“No. But I’m mate of his yacht.”

“Mates wasn’t mentioned,” says Catty. “I was told to tell this message
to Mr. Dunn, and to nobody else. And that’s what I’m a-goin’ to do. Yes,
sir. And I’m goin’ to be paid my dollar—right on the spot—cash money.”

It was bad enough as it was, but then another man in a uniform came
along, and he scowled and stopped. It was everybody’s day to scowl, I
guess.

“What’s this?” says he.

“Boys. They say they came with a message, Cap’n.”

“For who?”

“Mr. Dunn.”

“How’d they get past the guard?”

“It beats me. They claim they jest walked in.”

The captain waggled his head, and then he reached for us and grabbed
each of us by the arm.

“Message, eh? Well, you come right along and deliver it. We’ll find out
about that message, and if there’s any funny work, why, you’ll wish you
never heard of any message.”

“Do we git our dollar?” says Catty.

“You’ll get a heap more’n a dollar,” says the captain.

“A dollar was the bargain,” says Catty, as stubborn as a mule, “and a
dollar’s what we want.”

“Come and git it, then,” says the captain, and off we went. I don’t
believe my feet touched the ground. He just kind of shoved me through
the air by the arm, and it wasn’t a comfortable way to travel.

“Don’t you go to hurt my cousin,” says Catty. “He ain’t very sharp, and
he’s apt to cry. Don’t you go makin’ him cry.”

“Shet up,” says the captain.

In a minute we stopped in front of a kind of a square tent and the
captain calls out kind of polite and obsequious, “Mr. Dunn.”

“What’s wanted?”

“Two boys who claim to have a message for you, sir.”

“Fetch them in,” says Mr. Dunn, and the captain all but threw us into
the tent.

We kind of sprawled on the floor in front of Jonas P. Dunn, and he
scowled. Never did I see so many men who could scowl so easy.

“What’s this? What’s this?” says he, kind of snappy.

“Sh-sssh,” says Catty.

“What d’ye mean? What’re you shishing about? What ails you?”

Catty stood up and looked Mr. Dunn straight in the eye. “We’ve got
something to tell you,” says he, “and it’s true. We know what we’re
talking about. I think you’d better send the captain away while we tell
you.”

“They said they had a message for you.”

“Is it a message?” says Jonas P.

“No,” says Catty.

“What you mean by tellin’ me you had a message for him, then?” says the
captain.

“If we hadn’t you wouldn’t have brought us here. Now, Mr. Dunn, this is
serious—and private.”

Mr. Dunn frowned right into Catty’s eyes, but Catty never moved a
muscle; then he turned to the captain. “Step outside,” he said. “I’ll
see what this is all about.”

“I ought to stay,” says the captain.

“I guess a couple of kids won’t eat me—even if you’re not here to
protect me,” says Mr. Dunn, and then the captain went out.

“Now, what’s it about?” he says.

“Have you got any guns?” says Catty.

“No.... Guns! What are you talking about?”

“Nobody,” says Catty, “has any business going treasure digging without
he’s armed to the teeth.”

“Treasure digging! Young man, where did you hear I was treasure
digging?”

“I know all about it,” says Catty. “I came to Nantucket on the
_Albatross_.”

“With Browning and Topper.” His teeth showed under his moustache, and
then he grinned. “Well, I don’t imagine they’re very happy.”

“That hasn’t anything to do with it. What I want to talk about is
mutiny. Have you made any preparations to quell a mutiny?”

“Say, kid, are you crazy? Mutiny?”

“Mr. Dunn, there’s always mutiny on a treasure hunt. Did you ever hear
of a ship going after buried treasure without the crew turning on the
owners? Why, it can’t be done. There—there wouldn’t be any story if
there wasn’t a mutiny.”

Mr. Dunn looked like he was going to lose his senses.

“Say, what are you talking about?”

Catty lowered his voice. “Mutiny. And you’ve got one on your hands.
Twenty men—maybe more. The plot’s all made. It’s apt to break any
minute.”

“Are you talking sense?”

“We are telling the truth, and you’ve got to believe it.”

“How did you come here?”

“We were the ghosts last night,” says Catty. “We sneaked through the
wire and hid under the tarpaulin that covered your pile of supplies.”

“What for?”

“We belong to the _Albatross_,” says Catty, “and we came to see what we
could do about lifting the treasure. We’ve a right to do that. You’re a
kind of a pirate, trying to get Mr. Topper’s treasure away from him, and
we’re helping.... But we couldn’t sit and let a lot of mutineers grab
it, and seize your yacht and go sailing off. Now, could we?”

“Go on.”

“While we were under the tarpaulin we heard the plot. The men are
organized, enough of them to do what they want to—if you aren’t armed.
Maybe they are. I don’t know that. One man is captain of the mutineers,
and they are waiting for him to give the signal. As soon as he gives it,
you will be seized, and they’ll take the treasure, if it’s been found,
or dig for it, if it hasn’t. Then they’re going to seize your yacht and
sail away to some place where it’s safe to land, and divide the
treasure, and be rich forever after.”

Now, I’ll give Jonas P. Dunn credit for one thing—he had nerve. The
first thing he did was to laugh, like he knew a joke, and then he got
good and mad.

“You’re sure of this?”

“I’m sure. I heard it all—and Wee-wee heard it.”

“Did you?” says Mr. Dunn to me.

“Every word,” says I.

“Um.... Serious. Never expected to be in a mutiny,” he says, and kind of
grins again. “Who’s the leader of it?”

“We couldn’t see, and no names were mentioned. It was dark.”

“Is the captain or the mate mixed up in it?”

“We don’t know, but I don’t think the captain is.... You don’t suppose
anybody can hear what we say in here, do you?”

“Hardly.... Now what’s to be done?”

“We ought to have all the arms. The owner and the captain and the
faithful hands always try to get all the arms and ammunition.”

“That would be a good idea. But we haven’t any arms. Never expected to
need a gun. Huh.... Somebody’ll smart for this. I don’t believe they’ve
got nerve to go through with it. Why, Nantucket is only a mile or so
over there. The island is alive with summer visitors. The bay out there
is speckled with boats. Mutiny can’t happen in such a place.”

“You wouldn’t say treasure hunting could go on here, either,” says
Catty, “but it is.”

“Humph,” says Mr. Dunn, and at that very minute we heard a man holler
outside and then a chorus of shouts and yells, and out we all dashed.
The first thing we saw was about nine men piling onto the captain, and
another crowd sitting on the mate.

“It’s busted,” says Catty, “and they’ve seized the officers.”

Mr. Dunn charged right out, bellowing at the top of his voice. “Hey,
what does this mean? What’s going on.”

A couple of men ran at him, and he knocked one galley west, but the
other two got him and held him, and then one fellow who seemed to be
bossing the job, came over and says, “Mr. Dunn, we don’t want to do you
no harm personal, but we mean business. We’re going to hog-tie these two
officers, and we’ll hog-tie you, if you get rambunctious.... Behave
yourself, and you won’t get hurt.”

“Somebody’ll get hurt for this,” says Mr. Dunn.

“That’s the chance we take,” says the boss mutineer. “Now shall we tie
you, or will you go back to your tent and keep quiet?” Then he squinted
at Catty and me.

“Hiding under the tarp, was you? Tattlin’ on me and the boys, eh?...
When we git time, we’ll tend to _your_ case.”

With that a man grabbed each of us, and two went along with Mr. Dunn and
chucked us into the tent. And there we were!



                             CHAPTER XVIII


By that time Mr. Dunn was just about four pounds madder than any man who
ever lived to tell the tale. He swelled up like a balloon and shoved out
his jaw, and just waded out of that tent with all his fists flying.
Maybe he enjoyed it, but it wasn’t wise. No, sir. It got us all into
trouble. The net result was that a couple of Swedes sat on his stomach,
and they dragged him back in and tied him to the tent pole. And what was
worse, they made a good job of it by tying Catty and me, too.

“Guess that settles _you_,” says the boss mutineer. “Didn’t know when
you was well off, did you?”

“You’ll sweat for this,” says Mr. Dunn.

“I’m figgerin’ on warm weather and hard work,” says the boss mutineer.
Then he went out after he stationed a guard by the door, and we three
sat on the ground with our backs against the tent pole and thought it
over.

We must have looked kind of funny to a bystander. Three backs against
that post, and three sets of legs stretching in all directions on the
ground—kind of like some new kind of a spider.

But it wasn’t funny to us, or to me at any rate. I was scairt. I don’t
know what Mr. Dunn was besides mad. He was so full of that, I guess,
that there wasn’t much room for anything else. Catty didn’t say a word,
and I couldn’t stretch my neck far enough to see his face. He wasn’t the
kind to keep quiet long, though.

“My,” says he after a while, “isn’t this adventure working out first
class!”

“Eh?” says Mr. Dunn.

“Better than a book,” says Catty. “I never heard of the mutineers
seizing everybody, and tying them to a tent pole. It makes it a lot
harder.”

“What?”

“Why—circumventing the mutineers. Generally the faithful party is
barricaded on the poop deck or in a stockade or something. They always
have arms. But look at us! We’re caught and tied and helpless. It’s—it’s
wonderful.”

“Say, young man, are you crazy?”

Catty answered like he thought Mr. Dunn must be crazy. “Aren’t you
enjoying it?” says he, like he was surprised almost to death.

“I’m enjoying it like an attack of rheumatism,” says Mr. Dunn.

“I’ll see every last one of them hung—or something,” says Mr. Dunn. “The
day for mutinies and piracies has gone past. I’ll show them....”

“Sure,” says Catty, “we’ll show them. But how?”

“We’ll notify the police,” says Mr. Dunn.

“How?” says Catty, “and besides there aren’t enough police on this
island to do more than speak loud to this gang of mutineers.
Police—fiddlesticks!”

“You’re right, young man. We’re up against it. Say,” he says, beginning
to realize all of a sudden what a fix he was in, “what can we do,
anyhow?”

“The first thing to do,” says Catty, “is to talk low so the guard can’t
overhear us. No use making a plan and telling it to the enemy.”

“You have got _some_ sense,” says Mr. Dunn.

“Wait and see,” says Catty. “Now let me think.”

“Huh....” says Mr. Dunn.

So we sat, back to back, and listened to the mutineers fussing around
outside and we began to ache, and the sun got high and the tent was
scorching hot, and we began to itch, and nothing to scratch with. I was
tired of mutineers.

“Maybe,” says I, “Mr. House or Mr. Robbins—on board the _Porpoise_—will
miss you and come to see what’s the matter.”

“Huh,” says Mr. Dunn.

“And maybe,” says I, “our party will miss us and start a search.”

“Hope not,” says Catty.

“Why?”

“Well, they’d just get into trouble, and besides, that’s not the way
it’s done. We don’t want to be _rescued_, do we? I should say not.
Pretty heroes we’d be, letting somebody get us out of a fix. Our job is
to get other folks out of fixes.”

“Say,” says Mr. Dunn, “what do you think you’re talking about?”

Catty’s voice sounded kind of pitying as he answered.

“Wee-wee and I are the heroes of this adventure. You’re the victim, and
it’s our business to rescue you by overcoming terrible obstacles. It
would spoil the whole thing if somebody else stepped in and did it. What
kind of an adventure would you call it where the hero isn’t the big man?
Tell me that. Why, I never heard of such a thing! I’d never hold up my
head again.”

“Er—do you mean you’re—_enjoying_ this?”

“I was never in anything like it before. It’s—it’s grand.”

“And you calculate to be the hero, eh?”

“We just _are_. We can’t help it. No heroes in stories start out to be
heroes. Things just happen, and they have to be whether they want to or
not. That’s how this is.”

“All right,” says Mr. Dunn, “go ahead and be a hero. I’m willing. Only
be quick about it. I’m thirsty and this confounded tent pole is jamming
a hole in my backbone. I’m all ready to be rescued now. Get busy and
rescue me.”

“We’ve got to think about the treasure, too. It would be fairly easy to
escape. But whoever heard of the good people escaping and leaving the
treasure to the mutineers. I should say _not_.”

“Are you going to give me the treasure when you get it?” says Mr. Dunn
kind of sarcastic.

“You.... No siree. That treasure belongs to the party on the
_Albatross_—and we’re going to have it. All you get is to escape with
your life. The minute we escape, you and I are enemies like we were
before.”

“Did Mr. Topper describe this treasure to you?” says Mr. Dunn.

“No, but all buried pirate treasure is alike. Pieces-of-eight and jewels
and Spanish things. The mutineers say there’s a million dollars worth of
it. They’re going to take fifty thousand each and live happy forever
after.”

“Hum.... They’re right about one thing, anyhow. It’s worth all of a
million.”

Whew! Think of that. There we were sitting on that sand bar with a whole
million dollars buried within a few feet of us. It had been there nobody
knows how long. Folks had walked over it, and maybe dug clams right over
it, and sat down on top of it—and never even guessed they could have
uncovered all that money just by digging a little.

Another week or two passed, and then we heard a racket outside and
yelling, and then a couple of men chucked Mr. House into the tent and
followed him in and sat on him a little until he got reasonable, and
tied him to the tent pole in the space between Mr. Dunn and me. It was
kind of crowded, but he didn’t act like he minded the crowd.

As soon as he could speak he began quite a speech with lots of language
in it. As near as I could gather, he wanted to know what in tunket was
going on.

“Mutiny,” says Mr. Dunn. “The men have mutinied and they’re going to
seize the treasure and the yacht.”

“No!” says Mr. House. Then he craned his neck to look at me and Catty.
“Where’d you pick up these confounded kids?”

“They,” says Mr. Dunn, “are the heroes.”

“They’ve been heroing around ever since we started on this cruise. It
was the skinniest one that we got the chart from.”

“No!” says Mr. Dunn.

“That didn’t work out like we expected,” says Catty, kind of apologetic.
“I’ll tell you about that, now that it’s over. It all happened because
Mr. Topper didn’t take us into his confidence right at the start. Of
course we saw something was going on, and we figured out you were
pirates, following us in that black yacht. Then we got onto the
treasure, and knew that was what you were after. We weren’t sure till
Newport, when we saw Mr. House send you a telegram.”

“Huh,” says Mr. House.

“Then,” says Catty, “we made up our minds to help, so we started in to
fool you, and send you off on a wild-goose chase while we lifted the
treasure comfortable.”

“Yes.”

“So we fixed up that chart, with marks on it and everything, and
arranged things so you’d see it there in Padanaram. Remember?”

“I remember.”

“It was too bad. Mr. Topper should have told us what was what. But we
did the best we could. We picked out Nantucket as being about as out of
the way as anything could be, and marked the treasure right here. It got
rid of you, all right. But the worst of it was, we had bad luck. Instead
of sending you off where we’d never see you again, we sent you right to
the spot where the treasure was buried.... It was a lovely scheme.”

“Can you beat that?” says Mr. House.

“Huh,” says Mr. Dunn, “if it hadn’t been for fool luck, these kids would
have bamboozled you. You’re a fine citizen, you are. It isn’t your fault
we’re not digging holes in some place a hundred miles from here. Smart
kids, I’ll say.”

“They’re that. They’ve been on our necks ever since we got here,
prowling around, and what not. We caught them once and had them aboard
the _Porpoise_, but they got away.”

“Is that where that document case went to?” says Mr. Dunn kind of
savage.

“I don’t know, but we missed it that night.”

“Have you kids got a document case you got aboard the _Porpoise_?” says
Mr. Dunn.

“Why?” says Catty.

“Because,” says Mr. Dunn, “if you have, it’ll be worth money to you to
give it back.”

“How much money?”

“Oh,” says Mr. Dunn careless-like, “twenty-five dollars.”

“H’m, ... if we had it—which we’re not saying, twenty-five dollars
doesn’t look like enough to support a large family on,” says Catty.

“Anyhow,” says I, “twenty-five dollars wouldn’t be any good to
anybody—not tied up in this tent. You can’t spend a penny here.”

“That’s sense,” says Mr. Dunn. “The first thing is to get out of here.
Hear that, Mr. Hero? Now get busy heroing.”

“In daylight?” says Catty, kind of pitying. “However do you think I
could rescue you in daylight?”

“These ropes are ’most cutting my wrists off,” says I.

“They always do,” says Catty. “Lots of times the prisoners bear scars
for life, where the ropes cut in.”

“I’m not collecting scars,” says I. “Postage stamps are my specialty.”

“Everybody leave me alone,” says Catty, “while I think.”

“I suppose Robbins will be coming along next,” says Mr. Dunn.

“I doubt it,” says Mr. House. “I heard that man who seems to be bossing
the crew give orders to man a boat and go out to the yacht. Most likely
the mutineers have taken possession of it by now, both the _Porpoise_
and your big yacht.”

“Then,” says Catty, “the _Albatross_ is our only hope.”

“If there _is_ any hope,” says I.

“I’m beginning to get an idea,” says Catty, “but we’ll have to wait for
dark.”

“I hope it’s a good one,” says Mr. Dunn.

“It will be,” says Catty, “if it works.”

“Is there any danger in it?” says I.

“Plenty,” says Catty, as satisfied as a cat with a dish of cream.

“Then,” says I, “you can get right to work thinking up another one. What
I want is something nice and safe—and comfortable.”

“Keep still,” says Catty, “or I won’t let you be in it.”

“That,” says I, “just suits me. I wish I hadn’t been allowed to be in
_this_.”

“It’ll take nerve,” says Catty, “and daring.”

“Just out of both,” says I. “Find one with food in it.”



                              CHAPTER XIX


We didn’t talk much for a while, but I could see Catty was thinking
hard. He kind of wriggled around and squirmed quite a bit, and then he
says:

“I can get you all loose any time you want me to.”

“How?” says I.

“I’ll tell you when the time comes,” he says, “and that’ll be when it’s
good and dark, and there’s just one man on guard.”

“Young man,” says Mr. Dunn, “you’re talking through your hat.”

“Maybe,” says Catty, “but you can hear my voice coming through it, can’t
you?”

“What if the mutineers find the treasure before dark?” says I.

“Then,” says Catty, “we’re out of luck, and we’ll have to think up some
plan to get it away from them.”

“Huh,” says Mr. Dunn, “I’ll say you’re not easily discouraged, anyhow.
How do you think you could get a treasure away from that gang if they
got their hands on it?”

“There’d be a way,” says Catty. “There’s always a way.”

We spent a mighty long day in that tent, and about as uncomfortable as I
ever heard of. But it did get dark after a year or two. Of course we
didn’t know what was going on outside, but we could tell one thing, and
that was that the mutineers hadn’t found the treasure. If they had found
it we should have heard all the hollering. Every little while during the
day our guard came in to look us over, but he didn’t take much interest
in it, because we were tied to the tent pole, and there wasn’t any
chance of our getting away. After dark he came in once, and we all
pretended to be trying to sleep, so he went outside and sat down with
his back to the tent-flap. He acted like he was settled for half an
hour, anyhow.

“Now’s the time,” says Catty.

“For what?” says Mr. Dunn.

“To escape, of course.”

“Oh,” says Mr. Dunn. “We’re going to escape how, eh? Very well, young
man, go ahead and escape.”

“Whose hands are on top?” says Catty.

“Mine,” says Mr. Dunn.

“Can you work the ropes along the pole and stand up? Try it. That’s the
way. Don’t be afraid to lean on us, and we’ll shove.”

Mr. Dunn wriggled around for a spell, and then got Mr. House onto his
feet, and I got onto mine.

“My hands are at the bottom,” says Catty. “Now, everybody get hold of
the tent pole. This is a little tent. Take it easy. _Lift._ Lift slow
and steady so it won’t be noticed outside. Lift her up. She’s
coming—she’s coming.... Once more. Just an inch more.... Fine. Now you
can let go.”

We let go, and there was Catty standing a yard away and loose from the
pole, but his hands were tied behind him yet.

“Everybody sit down again like you were—in case the guard peeks in,”
says he.

“How’d you do it?” says Mr. House.

“Simple. Just had you folks lift the pole and slipped my hands under the
bottom when it came out of the sand.”

Mr. Dunn clucked like a fat duck. “Say, young man, you _have_ got a
head, haven’t you—for all the nonsense there’s in it. I never would have
thought of that.”

“Quite likely,” says Catty. “Now I’ve got to get my hands loose. Here,
I’ll back up to you, Wee-wee, and you see if you can get into my back
pocket for my knife.... _Look out!_”

He plunked down where he had been with his hands behind him, and he was
just in time about it, too, for the guard came nosing in to take a look.
Everything seemed all right, I guess, so he slouched out again.

“Now,” says Catty, and I tried to get into his pocket. It was hard work,
but I managed after a couple of minutes, and got his knife in my
fingers. I passed it to him. He could work freer than any of us because
he could move his arms and the pole didn’t interfere, so it wasn’t much
trouble for him to open the knife.

“Here, Wee-wee,” says he, “take it in your teeth and bite hard. I’ll
kneel right in front of you, and you see if you can’t saw this rope in
two. You can do it.”

I tried. Now I want to say that it wasn’t half as easy as it sounded.
Just you hold a knife in your mouth and try to cut a rope with it. Your
neck doesn’t work. And after a while you get a crick—and—but what’s the
use? It did cut through after a while, and Catty was free.

He took the knife then and cut the rest of us loose, and there we were.

“Better sit down around the pole again until we make up our minds just
what to do,” says he. “If we go moving around the guard’s apt to see us
against the light here, or to hear us.”

So we all snuggled against the post, and talked in whispers.

“You’re the general,” says Mr. Dunn. “So far, you’ve done fine. What
next?”

“Listen, Mr. Dunn,” says Catty, “if I get you out of here, will you
promise to quit interfering with the _Albatross_ party and let us have
the treasure?”

“Certainly not,” says Mr. Dunn.

“I was afraid you’d say that, but I had to ask. Well, I can’t leave you
here a prisoner to these mutineers—enemy or no enemy. I’ve got to rescue
you. We’ll take measures about the treasure when you’re free.”

“Rescue _me_. What about rescuing yourself?”

“Oh,” says Catty, “I’m rescued now. As far as I’m concerned, all I’ve
got to do is crawl under the back of the tent and go. But you’re
different.”

“Some,” says Mr. Dunn.

“Of course I can get away and go for help—but that wouldn’t be the way
to do it. It would spoil things. No, I’ve got to rescue the whole kit
and b’ilin’ of you.”

He began to crawl over to the tent wall farthest away from the opening.

“I’m going to slit it,” says he, “and as soon as I cut, you, Mr. Dunn,
be right here to crawl through. _Now._”

Mr. Dunn got through on his hands and knees, and then Mr. House and then
me. Catty came last.

“It’s darker than a stack of black cats, thank goodness,” Catty
whispered. “Take hold of hands so we don’t lose each other, and follow
me. Crouch down.... Say, if you can’t crouch better than that, Mr. Dunn,
get down on your hands and knees.”

“Young man,” says Mr. Dunn, “when you get to weigh what I do, you won’t
think it’s so easy to crouch.”

“You _got_ to crouch.... This way.... _Drop!_”

We all dropped flat and lay still, for there was a man coming, and he
walked past so close I could almost touch him. But he didn’t see us, and
my heart started to beat again. It missed about fifty ticks, I guess,
and how in the world I’m ever going to get them back, I don’t know.

For a couple of minutes we lay as still as logs, and then Catty stirred
us up again. “Come on,” says he.

“How about the barb wire?” says I.

“We’ll cross the wire when we get to it,” says he.

“I can see Mr. Dunn straddling over his own entanglement,” says I. “I’ll
bet he’ll wish he hadn’t put it up.”

“I do,” says Mr. Dunn in a sad kind of voice.

“Huh,” says Catty, “the worst that can happen will be to tear your
pants. Let’s move.”

“They’re still digging—by lantern light,” says Mr. House.

“They’ve got no time to lose,” says Catty. “They’ve got to find that
treasure and get away before people begin to ask questions. You can bet
they won’t waste a minute.”

“They’ll waste a lot more than that before I’m through with them,” says
Mr. Dunn.

“You keep your mind on escaping,” says Catty. “That’s our business now.
If those men catch us it won’t be they who lose time. I haven’t any
hankering to be tied up to a tent pole again. And you can bet the next
time they tie us, it won’t be so we can get away.”

“And,” says I, “that guard is about due to step into the tent to see if
we’re all right.”

“Hurry,” says Mr. Dunn.

“We’ve got to go slow and cautious,” says Catty. “Keep hold of my hand,
and come on. The wire ought to be right in front of us.”

“And to think,” says Mr. House, “all this has happened because those men
got the treasure idea into their heads.”

“And because you got it into your head,” says Catty, “and because we got
it into our heads. Everybody goes crazy when you mention treasure. There
ought to be a law against hidden treasure.... But then,” says he, “what
would folks write books about if there weren’t treasure to dig for.”

“And here’s the wire,” says I, “four strands high, and my pants are
caught in it.”

“Can you climb over, or will you crawl under?” says Catty to Mr. Dunn.

“Hanged if I know, but crawling sounds most attractive. I’m not built
for much climbing.”

“Wait, I’ll hold the bottom wire up so you can wiggle under,” says
Catty.

Then Mr. Dunn got down on his stomach in the sand and tried to wiggle
under like a snake, but I guess millionaires are all out of practice as
wigglers, because, if I’m any judge, in a wiggling race Mr. Dunn would
come out about last. Then, too, even when he was on his stomach he was
pretty high off the ground. The bottom wire wasn’t so high off the
ground as it might be, and the barbs reached down and grabbed the back
of Mr. Dunn’s coat, and there he stuck.

He couldn’t edge back, and he couldn’t push forward, and it began to
look as if we had got to the end of our escape. Either we’d have to stay
with Mr. Dunn and be recaptured, or we’d have to go off and leave him. I
knew Catty never would do that, and I didn’t think highly of it myself.

“Next time you go trying to hog a treasure,” says I to Mr. Dunn, “you’d
better leave out the barb wire.”

“You bet I will,” says he, “and furthermore, I’ll hire somebody to do it
for me while I stay comfortably at home. I’m not built for adventure and
excitement.”

“If we had a shovel,” says I, “we might dig a trench and roll him
through.”

“But we haven’t a shovel,” says Catty. “We haven’t anything.”

“Can’t we slip him out of his coat?” says I.

“Might if we had a derrick,” says Catty, “and if we had a yoke of oxen
we might hitch to his shoulders and haul him through, coat or no coat.”

“For goodness sake, do something,” says Mr. Dunn. “I’m getting my mouth
full of sand.”

I wanted to tell him he wouldn’t get sand in his mouth if he kept it
shut, but that didn’t sound polite, and I didn’t mean it the way he’d
think I did.

“Where’s your knife?” says I.

“Pocket,” says Catty.

“Slit his coat,” says I. “Cut him out of the wire like you’d cut out a
fishhook that got stuck in your clothes.”

“Hum,” says Catty, “I s’pose that coat cost a lot of money, but it can’t
be helped. Better lose a coat than your skin,” says he, and I guess Mr.
Dunn agreed with him.

“Can’t see very well,” says Catty. “If I stick you let me know.”

“I will,” says Mr. Dunn emphatic-like.

“But don’t squeal,” says Catty. “It’ll bring the gang down on us
hot-foot.”

“Go easy,” says Mr. Dunn. “I can feel that knife right on my spine.”

“Wiggle ahead every time I tell you to,” says Catty. “I’ll slit, and you
wiggle, and we’ll make an inch or so, and if they give us time, I’ll get
you through.”

“I haven’t got another wiggle in me,” says Mr. Dunn. “If I get out of
this you’ll have to carry me. I’m done up.”

“Take it easy. Go slow. We’re coming,” says Catty, and just then we
heard a holler back toward the tent and then lots of yells.

“They’ve got away.... They’ve got away,” somebody hollered.

“That’s the guard,” says Catty, as cool as a cucumber. “We’ll have to
get a move on us now.”

Then the boss mutineer yelled, “Scatter everybody and look for them.
They can’t be far. You’ve got to fetch them back—every one of them....”
And there we were with a fat man on our hands—stuck under a barb wire
fence.



                               CHAPTER XX


Catty turned to me quick as a flash. “Run down to the water,” he says,
“and holler as loud as you can that you’ve found a boat. Then duck along
the shore toward Nantucket and lie down in the sand. It’ll call them off
our tracks a minute, anyhow.”

I didn’t stop to argue, but I wanted to argue. Just why I should be the
sacrifice, I couldn’t make out. It was all very well to run down that
way and holler, and then lie down. It sounded fine. But what would
happen when everybody came running to see who hollered, and what if they
stepped on me? I didn’t care for it.

But I went and I hollered, and about four thousand men came running
pell-mell—on the inside of the barb wire. I was outside, by luck, and
the way I skittered along that shore in the dark would make a deer
jealous. I’ll bet I could have beaten the fastest deer in the woods by
fifty yards in a hundred-yard dash. When I thought I was far enough I
just dove head-first into the sand and lay there.

All the time I could imagine what Catty was trying to do with Mr. Dunn,
and how he and Mr. House were slicing and tugging and jerking to get him
under the wire. It must have been mighty exciting to have to stand there
and keep cool and not hurry when, every second, somebody might happen
onto you. But everybody was interested down by the shore where I had
hollered, and they rampaged up and down for five minutes. By that time I
thought it was safe to move, so I got onto my hands and knees and
crawled back a ways from the shore and started toward Nantucket. I was
all alone. Whether Catty had got Mr. Dunn through the wire or not I
hadn’t the least idea. Lonesome! Say!

Well, the mutineers got tired looking along the shore, and began to
scatter. I could hear them running and yelling behind me, and lanterns
bobbed around all over. Some of them were coming my way, and you can bet
I looked around for a place to hide. I never stopped a second, but kept
running, or crawling when it seemed safer. Nobody got real close to me,
but that didn’t hurt my feelings. I wasn’t so lonesome but what I could
get along without the company of any mutineers. No, sir; bad as I wanted
company I drew the line at that.

I could tell they hadn’t found Catty and the rest of them, because they
kept on hunting, and there wasn’t any sign of a row, or yelling because
the mutineers had succeeded. That made me feel a little better, anyhow.
I knew how it would be if they did get caught. Catty would have expected
me to hang around and rescue them, and of course, that’s what I would
have had to try to do. Catty would have done it. But I knew I’d only get
into some kind of a mess.

I kept on for quite a spell, until, all of a sudden, I saw something
solid and black in front of me. It scared me at first, but I sneaked up
on it to see what it was, and it turned out to be the fish shanty where
Catty and I hung out that night, and where we hid that tin cylinder that
had washed up on shore. It looked pretty good to me. I figured I could
hide in it, and it wasn’t likely anybody would look there for me. The
mutineers would think we had all put out for town.

I went in, and it was pitch dark. I didn’t mind that. The darker the
better. It was comfortable, anyhow, and I sat down to think it over. The
more I thought it over the more I came to the conclusion that thinking
wasn’t my strong point. I didn’t get anywhere at all, nor think of
anything. I didn’t even think of hurrying to town for help, and that was
silly, because almost anybody could have thought that up. But not I. No,
I had to sit there in the dark, and shiver, and wonder if I hadn’t
better start to crawl back toward the mutineers’ camp to find Catty.

It wasn’t long before I heard a sound outside like folks sneaking along,
and then I did get scairt. I wished there was a cellar in that fish
shanty so I could crawl into it, and I was real angry with the fishermen
for not building me a cellar. I crouched back in a corner and listened
and waited. I couldn’t do a very good job of listening, because my heart
beat so loud I couldn’t hear much of anything else.

Well, next I knew, somebody was feeling along the wall, and then they
stopped and whispered.

“Now comes it,” says I to myself, “and I’m caught like a rabbit in a
trap.”

“But,” says I to myself, “they don’t suspect I’m here, and maybe they
won’t come in.”

And then I got an idea. It wasn’t a very high class idea, but it was the
best I had in stock. I says to myself that I’d take them by surprise,
and maybe be able to get away in the dark. I knew they were there, and
they didn’t know I was there. So I went close to the door and waited. In
a minute somebody pushed it open cautious, and was just about to come
in. Then I sprung my surprise. I stepped back and opened up my mouth,
and let out the most blood-curdling scream I could dig out of my
innards. It was a jim dandy. And then, right in the middle of the scream
I rushed at the figure in the door and butted it in the stomach and out
I went. It would have been fine, but there was another figure behind the
first one, and I ran into it, and we both went down together, clawing
and scrapping to beat the band.

Well, sir, I don’t remember very clear just what went on for a minute or
so, except that I was as busy as a buzz saw, and the other fellow knew
it. Then something came down ker-wallop on top of both of us and knocked
the wind clean out of me. I was done. I couldn’t have lifted the tip of
a finger. You know how it is when your wind is knocked out and you can’t
breathe, and you feel as if you never would breathe again. I was like
that.

The weight rolled off of me, and I heard somebody say, “What in tunket
is this?”

I couldn’t speak, but I knew that voice, and it made me so sore I wanted
to bite. I was coming around enough so I could kick, and I just reached
out with my foot and tunked his shin.

“Outch,” he says, and it was Catty Atkins!

“Serves—you—right,” says I, with the little breath I’d gotten back.
“Wish I’d kicked you on the chin.”

“If it isn’t Wee-wee,” says he. “Quick. Pull him into the house.”

They dragged me in, and by that time I was feeling pretty good again.

“What d’ye mean,” says I, “scaring a fellow to death?”

“Didn’t know you were here,” says Catty.

“Glad you were, for I was wondering how in the world to find you.”

“You butted me in the stomach, young man,” says Mr. Dunn, “and my
stomach’s been through enough tonight without that.”

“How’d you get loose from the wire?” says I.

“We cut and tugged him loose,” says Catty, “and we didn’t have a minute
to spare, either. We had hardly dragged his feet under the wire when a
couple of men came up on the other side. There was a bush right there,
and we crouched down beside it and hardly breathed. They walked on, and
we’ve been crawling and hiding and running ever since.”

“And I’m almost dead,” says Mr. Dunn.

“Are we safe here?” says Mr. House.

“We’re everything else but,” says Catty, “but I guess we’ve got to take
a chance. It doesn’t look as if Mr. Dunn could go any farther till he
gets rested some.”

“I can’t,” says Mr. Dunn, “and I won’t—not if all the pirates and
mutineers that ever lived come galloping up.”

“All right,” says Catty, “you two men sit in here and get rested.
Wee-wee and I will go out and reconnoiter.”

“I’m going to stay right here,” says I.

“You’re coming with me,” says Catty. “We’ve got business.”

So I went. We stood outside and listened. There were no sounds of
pursuit, and I guessed the mutineers had given it up as a bad job.

“We’ve got to find the sacred jewels,” says Catty.

“The who,” says I, and I kind of thought all the excitement had gone to
his head.

“Why,” says he, “the peck of sacred jewels we got away from the savages.
They must be worth a couple of million dollars. Now’s our chance while
those two medicine men are asleep.”

“What medicine men?” says I.

“The two in the shanty there,” says he. “They’ve been trailing us ever
since we escaped from the temple, trying to find where we hid the
jewels.”

“Catty,” says I, “we better start for town quick, so you can see a
doctor. Those men are just Mr. Dunn and Mr. House.”

“Fiddlesticks,” says he, “for the next few minutes, they’re medicine men
if I say so. Can’t we have any fun in this world? Have you always got to
spoil everything?”

“Oh,” says I, “we’re pretending again, are we?”

“Yes,” says he.

“And haven’t you had enough real excitement tonight without having to
pretend any?” says I. “I’m satisfied. I’ve got my money’s worth. You
don’t have to throw anything in for good measure.”

“I tell you,” says he, “we’ve got to get those jewels.”

“All right,” I says, “jewels it is.” I knew I might as well go ahead and
pretend with him, because when he takes it into his head to play some
kind of a wild game, why, he just goes ahead and does it. You can’t stop
him.

“Hope I haven’t forgotten how to find them,” says he, and he began
pacing off. I followed along, trying to remember, too, but I’d forgotten
entirely.

He walked and turned and walked and turned. “There,” says he, “if I
haven’t made a mistake, we’re standing right on top of them.”

“Then,” says I, “let’s dig and have it over with.”

So we dug, and sure enough, he remembered right. In about two minutes we
came onto the old tin chart case and got it out of the sand. Catty held
it up in the air.

“Hurrah,” says he, “we’ve got it. We’ve won. Now we’ll be rich for
life—a million apiece. I wish we were in New York now so we could start
to sell these emeralds.”

“They’re emeralds?” says I. “All of them?”

“Every last one—as big as hickory nuts,” says he. “Now we’ve got to
carry them into town with us, but those medicine men will be following,
and they mustn’t know what we’ve got. How’ll we conceal this jewel
case?”

“Swallow it,” says I.

“No,” says he, “there are some old papers in the shack. I remember them,
back in a corner. We’ll just wrap up the case, and they’ll never
suspect.”

“Of course not,” says I. “Medicine men are kind of idiots anyhow. If
they weren’t, they wouldn’t be medicine men.”

We took our old cylinder back to the shack, and as we were going in I
says to Catty, “Say, quit pretending and tell me what you want that old
thing for, anyhow?”

“Oh, just for a souvenir,” says he. “I can hang it up in my room.”

“Huh,” says I.

In the dark I could hear him monkeying with papers, so I guessed he was
doing up his jewels so the medicine men couldn’t see them. Then he says,
“There isn’t a sound outside? If you’re rested I guess it’s safe to make
tracks for Nantucket.”

“And,” says Mr. Dunn, “if there’s a bed in that town, I’m going to get
into it and sleep for forty-eight hours.”

“You’ve got to catch your mutineers, and save your ship,” says Catty.

“I’ll just attend to that by wire,” says he. “We’ll have a destroyer
here from Newport, or some kind of a government ship. They haven’t a
chance to escape.”

“All ready,” says Catty.

So we started for town, stringing along, and none of us going very fast.
Pretty soon we came to the edge of town, and then we struck the end of a
street, and felt we were safe.

In another ten minutes we were on the broad main street, and I knew
where I was at, and felt human again.

“What now?” says Catty.

“We’ll send a wire, and then go to a hotel,” says Mr. Dunn.

“Guess we’ll go to the _Albatross_,” says Catty, “they must be worrying
about us.”

Well, just as he said that he tripped over the curb and the tin cylinder
flew out of his arms and rolled across the walk just under a street
light.

Mr. House looked at it, and stopped.

“What’s that?” he said in a queer sounding voice.

“Just an old chart case we found?”

“Where’d you find it?”

Something in his voice made Catty hesitate. Before he answered he made a
jump for the case and got it into his hands, but he wasn’t a moment too
soon, for Mr. House had jumped, too. The next thing I knew Catty was
tearing down the street like all git out with Mr. House at his heels.



                              CHAPTER XXI


Now there’s one thing about me, if somebody starts to run I’ve got to
start to run myself. I didn’t stop to think why, but just dug out after
Mr. House and Catty, tearing down the street like a runaway sheep. Mr.
Dunn wasn’t built for running, and I guess he didn’t wake up to what was
going on any more than I did. We just left him flat. For a while he was
out of the story altogether.

Catty headed for the water and then turned off to the left. Mr. House
wasn’t ten feet behind him, and I was right at Mr. House’s heels. It was
dark except where the street lights showed and nobody was on the street
to see the circus. I gained on Mr. House, and he gained some on Catty.
Catty isn’t as good a runner as he ought to be. Running is my strong
point. When a fellow gets scared of as many things as I do, he naturally
learns to use his legs.

About a hundred yards farther Mr. House was so close to Catty he could
almost grab him. I put on a little more steam, and just as he was
reaching out for the back of Catty’s neck I jumped and butted him in the
hip. Somehow he didn’t grab Catty just then. Things happened to his
feet. He tried to twist his right leg around his left leg, and then he
tried to step on his right foot with his left foot, and then he turned
himself into a flying machine. I never saw a man who could fly so far as
he did without any wings. No, sir. He left the ground and soared, and I
thought he wasn’t ever coming down. But he did—eventually—all spraddled
out in the street. I didn’t stop to ask him what he meant by such
antics. Uh-uh. I kept on going after Catty.

We got down to the dock, still going strong. Right ahead of us, maybe a
hundred yards out, we could see the riding light of the _Albatross_.
Catty never stopped, he took a header into the water, and I was right
behind him. I don’t know whether Mr. House got up to chase us or not.
And we swam.

The next I knew we were climbing up the ladder to the deck of the
_Albatross_, and for the first time in two or three days, I felt safe.
Dawn was just beginning to show in the east, but I wasn’t interested in
dawns. What I wanted was coffee and a place to sleep.

“Well,” says I to Catty, “what kind of a circus was that?”

“I don’t know,” says he, “but I saw Mr. House wanted this chart case, so
I started. It wasn’t any time to ask him why or what ailed him. I lit
out.”

“You did,” says I.

“What become of him?” says he.

“I turned him into an airship,” says I. “Just as he was going to grab
you, I butted him—and he was all through running.”

“Good for you,” says Catty. “We better wake somebody up. No telling
what’ll happen now.”

But we didn’t have to do any waking. Rameses III poked his head above
the decks all full of sleep and irritation.

“Hey,” says he, “who be you, and what in tunket be you boardin’ this
ship fer?”

“It’s us,” says Catty.

“It better be,” says he. “Where you been, and what you been up to. Mr.
Browning’s most crazy. Figgered you was drownded.”

“We’ve been busy,” says Catty. “Where’s Mr. Browning.”

“Here I am, young man,” says Mr. Browning’s voice. “Now, suppose you
give an account of yourselves.”

“While we’re giving it,” says Catty, “have Rameses III get us a cup of
coffee.”

“I cook meals at mealtimes,” says Rameses III, as cross as a snapping
turtle.

“I guess we’d better feed them,” says Mr. Browning. “Now come below and
tell me what you’ve been doing with yourselves. I never saw such a pair
of kids.”

“We’ve been in a mutiny,” says Catty.

“Mutiny!”

“Yes, and we rescued Mr. Dunn and Mr. House....”

“Hold on there. Start at the beginning.”

“Well, we figured we ought to get that treasure for Mr. Topper, seeing
as we gave away the place where it was hid. How is Mr. Topper?”

“Coming along fine,” says Mr. Browning.

“That’s good.... So we went over to scout around the enemy’s camp. We
cut their wire and got inside, and hid under a tarpaulin. The first
thing we knew the men mutinied.”

“They what?”

“Mutinied. Honest. They wanted the treasure, so they seized the yacht
and everything, and started to dig for gold. Then they caught Wee-wee
and me, and tied us and Mr. Dunn and Mr. House all in a tent.”

“Land o’ Goshen!” says Mr. Browning.

“So Wee-wee and I rescued Mr. Dunn and Mr. House, and got them to
Nantucket a few minutes ago, and then Mr. House started to chase me, and
Wee-wee butted him, and we dove off the dock, and here we are.”

“What made him start to chase you after you’d rescued him?”

“I dropped the chart case, and he saw it.”

“What chart case?”

“This one,” says Catty, and he picked the tin cylinder off the floor and
showed it to Mr. Browning.

I thought Mr. Browning would jump through the ceiling.

“Where’d you get this?” he says.

“Oh, we were poking around the hole where they’d been digging for the
treasure, and we found it. I kind of wanted it for a souvenir, so we
took it away and hid it. That was a day or so ago. We buried it in the
sand near a fish shanty. Then, last night, we hid from the mutineers in
the same shanty, and we went out and dug it up. Pretended it was full of
sacred jewels.”

“You got this where they were digging for treasure?”

“Yes.”

“Um....” He started to take the cap off the cylinder and then he pulled
a thick roll of paper out of it. “Doesn’t look like charts, does it? So
House saw this and chased you?” He started to laugh. “If this don’t beat
the Dutch. Right under their noses....”

“What is it?” says Catty.

“Look and see,” says Mr. Browning.

We did, and it was just sheets of paper covered all over with figures
and funny marks that didn’t mean a thing.

“Looks like a crazy man wrote it,” says Catty.

“He didn’t,” says Mr. Browning. “A very sane man wrote it. This is
cipher.”

“What for? Can you read it?”

“No,” says Mr. Browning, “because Mr. House has the key.”

Then he started to laugh again and he laughed and laughed. “You’ve
really had this thing for days! Oh, that’s too good! Didn’t know what it
was!... Oh, my. Well, that’s our fault. We should have told you all
about things. Can’t you guess what it is?”

“No, sir.”

“This,” says Mr. Browning, “is the treasure.”

“Aw, shucks,” says Catty.

“It is, and there aren’t many treasures worth more money—if we only had
House’s key to the cipher. As it is, maybe well have to divide with him.
If we just had that key. But we haven’t.”

Just then Catty looked over at the table, and there lay Mr. House’s
black leather document case.

“Where’d you find that?” says Catty.

“I never saw it before. What is it?”

Rameses III came in with the coffee and heard what Mr. Browning said. “I
found it,” says he. “’Twas under the seat of the starboard dinghy.
Picked it out last night.”

“And we looked high and low for it,” says Catty.

“What is it?” says Mr. Browning.

“Mr. House’s document bag. When we were prisoners on the _Porpoise_, we
hooked it and threw it aboard the _Albatross_.”

Then Mr. Browning did get excited. He jerked the case open and spilled
out the things in it. One of them was a kind of a note book and he
pounced on it with a yell.

“You can’t beat it,” says he. “You kids’ll be the death of me. Not only
do you carry off the treasure right under the noses of fifty men, but
you gobble onto the key to the cipher.”

“Honest?” says Catty.

“Honest Injun.”

“And that thing is worth money?”

“It’s worth more than all the diamonds you could pack in that case.”

“Mr. Dunn said the treasure was worth a million.”

“It is—and then some,” says Mr. Browning.

“But that—it’s nothing but a scribbling.”

“It’s the most valuable scribbling in America.”

“What is it?”

“Formulae,” says Mr. Browning.

“What are they?” says I.

“Just like recipes,” says Catty, “for making biscuits or pie.”

“Exactly,” says Mr. Browning, “only these are recipes for making
dyes—German dyes. All the world has to go to Germany for its fine
colors. We don’t know how to make them. And this cipher gives all the
directions. Anybody who has this can manufacture dyes as good as are
made in Germany, and make so much money he won’t know what to do with
it.”

“How did it ever get buried out there?” says Catty.

“Do you remember that super-submarine Germany sent over with a cargo to
New London? Well, on board that was an American who had lived in Germany
for years. He was one of the crew. But he was a good American, and,
somehow, he got hold of these formulae, and was trying to find a way to
smuggle them across the ocean.... He waited his chance and shipped on
that submarine. One night the ship was running along on the surface, and
he saw land. An officer said it was Nantucket. So the man slipped below,
got this case, and when he thought nobody was looking, he slid overboard
and swam for it. He knew it would be only a matter of days before the
German secret service got after him, so he buried the formulae where you
found them.”

“But how did Mr. House get the key to the cipher?”

“Somehow the American got acquainted with him, but never gave him his
whole confidence. As I get the story, the American was killed, maybe by
the German secret service, and House found the key to the cipher in his
pocket.... The American was Mr. Topper’s brother.”

“Oh,” says Catty, “so Mr. Topper is really entitled to the treasure,
fair and square?”

“He is,” says Mr. Browning.

“Well,” says Catty, “I’m glad he’s got it.”

“What d’you suppose the enemy’ll do now?” says I.

“We won’t give them a chance to do much,” says Mr. Browning. “I’ll get
word ashore to Topper. This will do more to make him well than all the
doctors in the country. Then we’ll hoist anchor and get this stuff in
the strongest safety deposit vault in New York. I won’t feel safe till
it’s there.”

                  ------------------------------------

Well, that’s about all there is to the story, except that we got the
formulae safely to New York, and Mr. Topper got well, and Mr. Dunn came
to see Mr. Browning and Mr. Topper and offered them a million dollars
cash for the formulae, or he offered to finance the manufacture of it
and give them half the stock. But they wouldn’t do business with him.
No, sir. They didn’t like his style.

They started right out and formed a company of their own, and right now
they’re building factories and putting in machinery. In a couple of
months the business will be going, and they say it is going to make
everybody mixed up in it as rich as all git out.

But here’s the best of the whole business. One day, after Catty and I
got home, Mr. Browning and Mr. Topper got off the train and came to
Catty’s house, and they took a couple of envelopes out of their pocket
and gave one to each of us.

“What’s this?” says Catty.

“Your share of the treasure,” says Mr. Browning. “We would have lost it
if it hadn’t been for you boys. We owe the whole thing to you.”

“But we just did it for fun,” says Catty.

“You’ll find it the most profitable fun you ever had,” says Mr. Topper.
“If this business goes the way we know it is going to go, this stock
we’re turning over to you will fix you for life. It’ll give you a
handsome income as long as you live.”

“No,” says Catty. “You mean we’ll be rich?”

“Pretty close to it,” says Mr. Browning.

“Don’t that beat the Dutch,” says Catty. “The money’s fine, but I
wouldn’t have missed the show for twice what we’ll get out of it.”

Which was just like him. As for me—well, I can do without so much
excitement. But I never will so long as I chum around with Catty Atkins.

                                The End

------------------------------------------------------------------------

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