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´╗┐Title: Excavating a Husband
Author: Wallis, Ella Bell
Language: English
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EXCAVATING A HUSBAND

by

ELLA BELL WALLIS



The McLean Company
Publishers
Baltimore, Md.

Copyright
1916
Ella Bell Wallis



EXCAVATING A HUSBAND


Katherine Boulby had reached her fiftieth year, and all these years
had been spent in single blessedness. It is true that she had not
realized the entirety of the perfect calm and peace that abides in the
maiden state, for her brother Joseph and she lived together. But Miss
Katherine--as she was commonly called in her native town--was of a
cheerful disposition and said that she felt she was indeed blessed
among women, as she had graciously been endowed with sense enough to
choose a free and unfettered life, and the vexations and limitations
contingent upon the proximity of one of the male sex, had been
mitigated as much as possible for her as her brother was a quiet,
fairly pliant man who rarely interfered with her plans for broadening
and enriching her mind.

This mental culture was Miss Katherine's chief aim in life, and it was
not a selfish one. She never refused to give abundantly of her
knowledge, and ever strove to correct and purify the literary and
artistic tastes of her friends. It would be quite impossible to state
upon what lines Miss Katherine pursued her mental cultivation, for,
like the great geniuses, she was extremely versatile, and in almost
every subject she described an avenue which, if followed to the end
would lead at last to the goal whither she was bound. As Miss
Katherine strayed from one path to another in the great labyrinth of
learning, it is very probable that she was inextricably lost and
didn't know it. But she found pleasure and sustenance therein, and
never sought to find herself.

Now, it is far from my purpose to represent my heroine as a
blue-stocking or as other than a most charming person. Had she pursued
her studies methodically and scientifically she might not have been
the same delightful woman that she was, but she flitted from romantic
prose to didactic poetry and from poetry to astrology, and thence to
architecture, history or biology. In Miss Katherine you found a person
who possessed a rare instinct concerning hobbies. She never became so
abstruse as to be unintelligible to her friends who were not
hobbyists. She dealt in interesting and easy generalities.

In fact, Miss Katherine was one of a type the world cannot spare. Of
good, sound, common sense she possessed the usual allotment, but in
rare, child-like enthusiasm and love of romance she was richly
endowed. It is true that at times everything but romantic fancies
seemed expelled from her mind, but the complications thus arising were
of no moment when all the brightness and zest she infused into life
were considered. It was psychologically impossible for Miss Katherine
to view the commonplace occurrences of everyday life in the same light
as do most of us. She found in a very ordinary event the nucleus of
something interesting and romantic. So you see there was nothing of
the blue-stocking about my heroine.

There is another matter upon which the reader must be clear. One might
think from Miss Katherine's fervent thankfulness for her single state
that she had an aversion to men. Such was the case only in theory. It
seemed more fitting for a single woman of artistic temperament to avow
a distaste for the society of the coarser sex, but in reality she got
along rather better with men than women. As a rule, men are better
listeners than women, and Miss Katherine found them more disposed to
listen to her latest ideas and freshest aspirations than were women.
She did not credit these listeners with ability to understand all she
was saying and this incapacity in man was the reason she had never
married. She had a susceptible heart, but it would respond only to him
who would understand her. She was not at all averse to marriage and
kept a vigilant eye upon the horizon that she might catch the first
possible glimpse of the romantic figure she confidently expected
would one day loom thereon. His appearance was long delayed, and,
while Miss Katherine did not mourn because of this, still she wisely
considered moving to where she would view a new and broader horizon.

One day she came upon the following advertisement:

"For Rent--Furnished house, property of Captain Peter Shannon;
delightful situation, attractive and comfortable house; garden
contains very choice plants and shrubs. Apply, W. J. Skinner, Ocean
View."

"There!" exclaimed Miss Katherine to her brother, "isn't it delightful
to find just what we want with so little trouble?"

"How do you know it's just what we want?" asked Joseph, who had
partially consented to his sister's suggestion that they rent a house
near the sea during the spring and summer.

Miss Katherine did not possess any occult power by which she could
visualize the property advertised, but she did have a remarkable
faculty for reading between lines. It often happened that she found
there that which defied every other interpretation, but this was
possibly owing to her highly developed imagination. She had so often
urged her brother to develop this quality, that now his utter lack of
imagination made her reply crisply--

"How do I know? Because my mind has certain qualities that I see yours
will never possess, and besides I think a little. Now consider this
advertisement with the aid of a very little imagination and common
sense. The owner is a sea captain. That is a volume in itself to me.
Sailors are very fond of the picturesque, so I should expect Captain
Shannon's house to be delightfully situated, quaint and comfortable. I
can't imagine anyone from whom I'd rather buy property than from such
a man as Captain Shannon must be," concluded Miss Katherine.

"Why don't he live in it himself, then, if it's such a fine place?"
inquired Joseph with an attempt at sarcasm which was quite beyond him.

"Can he live in a house on the land and sail on the sea at the same
time?" demanded his disgusted sister.

"Well, if I had such a place as you say it is I wouldn't be risking my
neck on the sea. I'd stay right there and raise vegetables," returned
Joseph.

Joseph was several years older than his sister and as he had just
retired from business with the intention of spending the remainder of
his days in peace and calm, he thought it wise not to jeopardize this
residue of his life by running counter to any fixed idea of his
sister. But in yielding to Miss Katherine's strong desire to spend
the spring and summer near the sea, Joseph was not solely actuated by
fear of her displeasure. He thought that a few months of undisturbed
gardening would be the purest possible happiness, so readily consented
to Miss Katherine's going to view the place for rent. She went, she
saw and she was captivated. Such a view! Such a garden! Nothing could
be more delightful.

Ocean View was not far distant from their home, so the day after his
sister's return Joseph set out to see the house for himself. He found
Miss Katherine's praise very just. It was indeed a most pleasant
place, and though the garden sadly needed care, that fact, in Joseph's
eyes, did not detract from the desirability of the place. Beneath a
very impassive exterior he concealed a tenderness and real passion for
flowers and a garden. He had passed his days in his hardware shop
among unlovely objects, and had never gratified this one passion,
which was still strong. But now Joseph thought of the long spring and
summer days spent in the garden, and went in haste to interview the
agent.

"Captain Shannon's place, eh?" said Mr. Skinner. "It used to be a
pretty place when the Captain lived there, and I have had good tenants
who have kept it up pretty well, but we didn't rent it last year so
it's grown up rather wild. Would you happen to be fond of flowers,
now?"

Upon Joseph's replying that he was, Mr. Skinner continued:

"Captain Shannon lived there only two years when he took to sea again.
I don't know whether he's dead or alive, for that's seven years ago,
and I've never seen or heard from him since. I send the rent to his
bank in New York, but it's my opinion that he's gone where he don't
need money, for if he was alive why wouldn't he come back and spend
the rest of his days here? He ain't a young man by any means, about
sixty, I think. But I was going to tell you why I asked if you were
fond of flowers. The Captain was crazy about them and kept a record of
all his choice plants. That book's in the library now. Well, when he
told me he was going to sea again and asked to rent the place, he said
to get a tenant that would look after the plants. It just seemed to me
he wanted to stay, but the sea pulled too strong for him and he had to
go. But now if you like pottering round in a garden, that's just the
place for you."

Joseph felt it was but did not express himself too strongly until he
had concluded a very good bargain.

To Miss Katherine's extreme delight Joseph was ready to move to Ocean
View without delay. She had drawn from him all the information
concerning Captain Shannon that he had obtained from Mr. Skinner. She
had immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Captain had been
lost at sea. To tell the truth, although she had as tender a heart as
woman ever possessed, the owner's tragic end rather increased her
delight in her surroundings. It wasn't every day one had the
opportunity of handling things that had belonged to one for whom fate
had destined such a tragic end.

It was towards the books in the library that she felt most reverently.
Not for a moment could she forget that these books had been selected,
read and loved by Captain Peter Shannon, victim of the cavernous seas.
But soon she came to value the books for themselves, for she found
them much to her taste. There was nothing in literature that so
captivated Miss Katherine as tales of daring on land or sea, and of
these the Captain's library was full.

"Captain Shannon must have been a very interesting man," she remarked
rather sadly to Joseph. "I can tell by his books. His tastes were just
like mine," she added naively.

"Don't let your mind run on him too much, Katie," advised Joseph. "It
would only lead to disappointment, for he's most likely drowned or
dead, it don't matter which."

"I'd try to exercise a little common sense, Joseph Boulby," returned
his sister acidly.

"Why, ain't I?" asked Joseph. "I don't see anything unreasonable about
warning you not to set your heart upon a dead man. There's not much
chance of a corpse coming to life these days."

Joseph's delight in his garden was actually making him facetious.

However strongly Miss Katherine became convinced that, had he lived,
there would have been a strong affinity and perhaps something more
between Captain Shannon and herself, she did not become depressed. But
without doubt there entered into Miss Katherine's heart a sentiment
that she had never experienced before.

In a closet full of rubbish she found a portrait of a seamanly
looking, heavily whiskered man. This she rightly conjectured to be a
feeble attempt to reproduce on canvas Captain Shannon's noble
countenance. She tastefully framed the portrait and hung it over the
books she fancied he had best loved.

Having made an exhaustive examination of the books on the library
shelves, Miss Katherine turned her attention to the papers which the
table and desk contained. She felt no compunction in doing this,
although she rarely meddled with the affairs of others. But to Captain
Shannon's personal papers she felt she had a peculiar right, a sort
of spiritual right.

What she found among these papers was of such interest and import that
she rushed at once to find her brother.

"Joseph! Joseph Boulby!" she gasped. "You'll never guess what I've
found! The log of a schooner! Captain Shannon's schooner. He was
shipwrecked and the schooner was lost but--I'll read it to you,
Joseph: 'Log of Schooner Fare-thee-well'--isn't that a fine
name--'Peter Shannon owner and master.

"'May 17, '05.

"'Sailed from Manzanilla with cargo of lumber for Panama. Wind blowing
strong from N. W.

"'Made 105 miles.

"'May 18.

"'Wind increased in volume. Still running with wind on starboard beam.
Unable to make an observation. Made 190 miles by dead reckoning.

"'May 19.

"'Wind veered slightly to westward and continued to freshen. Glass
falling rapidly. Made 204 miles.

"'Above is log of schooner up to May 20, from which time it was
impossible to keep further record until she was beached. Following is
story of the last voyage of the Fare-thee-well. It was written after
landing on Cocos Island.

"'May 20. Hurricane struck us at four bells in the afternoon watch,
as nearly as I can remember. Called all hands to close reef the
mainsail, intending to run before wind under storm jib and mainsail
reefed down, when enormous sea struck us washing away mate and two
seamen, leaving only myself and boy. Schooner heeled so far to port
that I feared she could not right herself, and water covered half the
desk. Strain on mainsail so great that it snapped about fourteen feet
above deck carrying sail and top hamper with it. Boy and I managed to
cut away all stays and shrouds and cleared away the wreckage, after
which we scuddled before the wind under bare poles. With help of boy I
managed to rig spare topsail from stump of mainmast and with storm jib
we managed to keep steerage way upon her.

"'May 21. Still running before the wind.

"'May 22. Do.

"'May 23. Do.

"'May 24. Just before midnight, as near as I can remember, schooner
struck with terrible force and waves swept her from stem to stem. Boy
carried overboard. Was unable to do anything to save him.

"'May 25. When morning came the sea had gone down somewhat and I
discovered an island about one hundred fathoms on port bow. Was afraid
vessel would break up so made a raft with what spars and lumber I
could get together, and taking the log book, a few tools, instruments
and provisions, I endeavored to reach the land. After great difficulty
I landed on what proved to be Cocos Island.'"

For a moment or two after she had ceased reading, Miss Katherine
remained silent as if overpowered. She soon recovered speech however.

"I thought I had estimated Captain Shannon correctly when I said that
he was no ordinary man, but I don't believe I did full justice to him.
Did you notice the style of this narrative, Joseph? It is so direct
and simple, but forceful and compelling. I don't think I would be
going too far to say that there is the stamp of genius upon this
manuscript. And his modesty, Joseph! Nothing about his wonderful
seamanship that kept the ship afloat or about the quick wittedness and
strength that saved him, or about his sojourn on the island or his
daring escape from it!"

"I suppose a ship came along and took him off," said Joseph. "I don't
see any daring in that."

"Well, if you don't, I do," retorted his sister. "The idea of a man
like Captain Shannon waiting for a ship to take him away!"

"Well, it would be more sensible to wait a spell before he started
out," observed Joseph.

Tenderly disposed as she was to the memory of Captain Shannon,
Joseph's remark grated upon Miss Katherine, and she made a very
cutting remark about people who had no fine sensibilities themselves
and could not feel for others who had. However, she forgave and forgot
very quickly, and the next evening she confided to Joseph a most
important discovery.

"You remember that I read last night that Captain Shannon had been on
Cocos Island?" she asked.

Joseph replied that he remembered all she had read to him.

"Well," continued Miss Katherine, "the name of that island bothered me
all night, and to-day I set to work to find out what I had heard about
it. This is what I found in the encyclopedia:

"'Cocos Island, volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean, S. W. of Costa
Rica, with steep rugged coasts and quite level interior; comprises
about nine square miles, is uninhabited and is reported to have been
the place of concealment of treasure, jewelry and plate sent there by
wealthy inhabitants of Spanish colonies on the neighboring mainland
early in the nineteenth century, during the wars in which they
achieved their independence from Spain. The belief that many of these
valuables have never been recovered led to a number of unsuccessful
search expeditions.'

"They have never been recovered, Joseph," repeated Miss Katherine with
glistening eyes. "Did you note the significance of that? The treasure
was there when Captain Shannon landed on the island, and there he was
alone on the island, with provisions enough to enable him to remain
there a considerable time, with tools to aid him in a complete search,
and with a raft to carry him to the mainland when he had found the
object of his search. What do you think now, Joseph?"

"He must have had a devil of a time landing on that island in a raft
if the coast is rugged and steep, as it says," remarked Joseph
irrelevantly.

Miss Katherine wanted to shake her brother, but she brought wile
instead of strength to her aid. Joseph was known among his neighbors
to be "a little close." He certainly regarded with respect and almost
reverence whatever represented a good sum of dollars.

"That treasure must have been worth millions of dollars," began Miss
Katherine. "Even if Captain Shannon discovered or brought away only a
small part of it, there would have been great wealth in that part."

"But he might not have known anything about it," interposed Joseph,
who was becoming interested.

"The idea!" exclaimed his sister, "Captain Shannon not to know all
about Cocos Island!"

But Joseph wasn't to be scorned off well taken ground, and maintained
that the Captain had had too much sense to put dependence in such
yarns as that.

Miss Katherine began very patiently:

"It isn't a yarn, but a well substantiated fact that every sea captain
would know. But I have good reasons for believing he found it,"
concluded Miss Katherine mysteriously.

Miss Katherine closed her lips tightly as if she knew a great deal but
was resolved to make no more disclosures to a skeptic. She acted very
wisely, for curiosity is not confined exclusively to females. Joseph
resisted as long as he could and then said in a gruffly apologetic
tone:

"I didn't mean to offend you, Katie; but I was trying to see all sides
of the case. Would you have any idea where he put the money and
valuables, if he found them?"

Miss Katherine was quite mollified.

"I wouldn't want to say that I knew exactly where he put them, but
I'll tell you what I've deduced from the facts of the case. One would
suppose that Captain Shannon had put all his money into his schooner
which was lost, but notwithstanding that he immediately settles here
and spends a good deal of money upon this property. I am convinced
that that money was part of the treasure he found on Cocos Island."

Miss Katherine paused impressively.

"Where is the rest?" asked her brother in almost child-like faith.

"Fate destined the Captain to be a victim of the sea, so he had to
leave, and he thought to himself that he wanted his treasure to fall
into the hands of some kindred spirit, should he never return. Captain
Shannon is a man whom few understand, but I am convinced that I do. He
was a man of strong human sympathy--"

"Yes, Katie, dear," interrupted Joseph meekly. "What you say is
perfectly correct, but what were you going to say about the treasure?"

"I was just about to explain it all, Joseph. He wanted his treasure to
fall into the hands of some kindred spirit, should he never return,
some one who would be able to deduce his idea from the clews he left
behind. First he leaves instructions that only congenial people are to
rent this property, then he leaves his diary. Then he says to himself,
'If the person that reads this diary is really interested in me, that
person will find out the history of Cocos Island and infer my
discovery of the treasure.' And then he thought it would be but a
short step to the actual finding of the treasure."

"Humph!" grunted Joseph. "A short step? In what direction I'd like to
know?"

"I am not prepared to say exactly where it is," explained Miss
Katherine, "but my theory is that it is secreted about the house or
garden."

"If it's in that garden," began Joseph, energetically but was
interrupted.

"We must be very guarded and no one must suspect our purpose,"
cautioned Miss Katherine. "We cannot tell to what ends people might go
if it was discovered that there was a great treasure concealed here.
We will have to be careful about admitting strangers to the house or
garden. It is very probable that some sailors, friends of Captain
Shannon's, might have suspected this, for I never read a treasure
story yet where someone didn't make trouble."

Twice that night, after Miss Katherine had retired to rest, she almost
rose from her bed at the thought that the house was in a most
unfortified state. Whether she expected to see John Silver, wooden
leg, urbanity and all, climbing in at the window, I can not say, but
she felt so insecure that it was long after midnight when she fell
asleep. She dreamed that Captain Shannon and she were sailing away to
Cocos Island and he was telling her that all the jewels there were
hers if she would only take him, too. Ah! the futility of the sweetest
dreams!

But the next day Miss Katherine had the treasure searching problem
well in hand. Her mind had at once turned to the classic on this
subject, and she hastened to find Poe's "Purloined Letter" and "Gold
Bug." Therein she found many possible methods and studied in detail
the house-searching methods of the Parisian commissaire de police. She
imparted something of what she had learned to Joseph, but he didn't
have any faith in 'yarns.' His fingers were itching to use the spade
and pick-axe, but this Miss Katherine strictly forbade as yet.

The next day she continued her studies and was in a most interesting
and instructive part when the door bell rang. She knew that Mrs.
White, their only maid, was so employed that she could not go to the
door. Reluctantly she laid down her book and answered the ring. A
well-built, fresh, clean shaven man of about sixty regarded Miss
Katherine pleasantly as he inquired if Mr. Boulby were home. Upon
being informed that Mr. Boulby was not home, the stranger said that
with permission he would step in and explain his business. The line of
thought upon which Miss Katherine had been intent for the past few
days had inclined her to be suspicious, and she regarded the stranger
with a distrustful eye. He, however, was quite unobservant of this
attitude toward himself, and he stepped into the hall. Miss Katherine
was compelled to conduct him to the library, the other rooms being in
the throes of house-cleaning. As the stranger entered that room his
eye fell immediately upon Captain Shannon's portrait which occupied a
very conspicuous place. He seemed struck by it, and as Miss Katherine
turned to offer him a chair she saw him gazing at it with great
interest.

"Ah, you observe Captain Shannon's portrait," said Miss Katherine in a
pleased voice. "We have just come here, but I am greatly interested in
the Captain. I found the portrait in a closet and framed it. I think
it is a remarkable face, don't you?"

The question seemed to confuse the stranger.

"I--er--do you?" he stammered. "I--er--I believe I have met the
Captain, oh, I mean I knew him quite well. Now, er, well really what
is remarkable about the face?"

"There is so much remarkable about it, to me," returned Miss
Katherine. "There is unusual strength in every feature, it seems to
me, and the face is a most interesting and attractive one."

The stranger's hand crept to his face where it went through the
motions of clutching a beard, an adornment which he lacked. He gazed
stupidly from the portrait to Miss Katherine and back again to the
portrait. He spoke in a very hesitating and uncertain way.

"Did you say--that you--er--found the portrait in a closet--er--and
went to the trouble of framing it?"

"Yes, that is quite correct. But it was no trouble, only a pleasure
and the contemplation of those features has amply repaid me," replied
Miss Katherine.

"It--er--will naturally be very gratifying to--er--the
Captain--ah--when he returns--ah--to find his portrait so--er--highly
valued," observed the man.

"I'm sure I couldn't say about that as the poor Captain was drowned,
at least he is supposed to have been lost at sea. But I believe him to
have been a very modest man, and I doubt whether it would really
gratify him to see his portrait there."

The stranger's hand again went to his face, and as it was a large hand
almost covered the features.

"I hadn't heard," he began in a very throaty voice, "I--I--didn't know
that the Captain--ah--wasn't--er--what you just said, you know."

Miss Katherine observed the stranger sympathetically. He had evidently
been a friend of the Captain and felt his loss.

"Sit down, sir," she said kindly, "I see you feel this, and no wonder.
Of course in cases like this one is never sure just what has happened;
but it is believed that Captain Shannon must have met with some
misfortune as he has not been heard from for seven years."

"Oh! seven years!" repeated the man. "Ah, I see."

"It is a pity that such a man as Captain Shannon should be cut off in
his prime," sighed Miss Katherine.

"Ah, you think that the late Captain was--er--a--ah--some good in the
world?" inquired the stranger.

"I am very sure he was that and a most charming man besides," replied
Miss Katherine, her eyes dwelling admiringly and wistfully on the
portrait.

"The Captain should be hap--ah, I mean--er--it is pleasant--er--I
should say, madam, that--ah--in fact I am detaining you," he lucidly
concluded.

"Not at all," returned Miss Katherine affably. "If you would explain
your business I might serve in place of my brother, or I can tell him
you called, Mr. ----"

"Oh--a--Murphy," supplied the stranger hastily. "I knew this place was
for rent but didn't know whether it had been taken or not so I thought
I'd see about it. It would suit me splendidly. Would you--ah--could
you consider a lodger, madam?"

"Well, really," replied Miss Katherine very pleasantly--the man was
very gentlemanly and not at all ordinary--"really, I'm afraid not,
although I should very much like to accommodate you."

"Oh, that's alright," Mr. Murphy assured her. "It's a nice healthy
spot and I think I'll spend a few months here--to--er--recover my
health."

Miss Katherine looked at his fresh face and vigorous frame in some
surprise, whereupon Mr. Murphy made haste to explain:

"I am feeling very much better now, but not quite right. I--ah--should
be able to lift five hundred pounds. Well now, I'll just say good
morning and I'll see if I can get suitable lodgings somewhere near. I
feel--er--that our common friendship for the late Captain Shannon
should be--ah--a sort of bond, so to speak, between us, so I shall
drop in to see you again."

Miss Katherine gave him a very cordial invitation to come and see her
brother and herself frequently.

When the door had closed upon Mr. Murphy, a shade passed over her face
and she betook herself again to the library. Could it be that this
stranger was a spy? Had he really known the Captain and suspected the
existence of the treasure? Was he going to stay in the vicinity to
keep watch upon them? Miss Katherine trembled as she thought of what
might have become of Joseph and herself if she had taken him as a
lodger. But here poor Miss Katherine's heart suffered a pang, for she
thought of the gentlemanly deportment and attractive appearance of her
visitor. He had seemed quite impressed with her, too. There was no
denying it. She rose from the chair with a sigh and walked about the
room.

"I must hide the book, anyway," she exclaimed aloud. "There's no
telling what that man was after and I'd better put it in a safe
place."

She took the treasured volume--Capt. Shannon's diary--and, after
glancing out of the window to make sure she was not watched, she stole
cautiously from the room as if the house were full of spies. When she
reached the floor above she stood still, wondering what hiding places
the house afforded. There were not many, she knew, but now she could
think of none. Downstairs was out of the question. Anyone could come
in there at night and carry it off. The second floor was little better
for the windows were all open and anyone could enter them by means of
a ladder. The attic! Yes, that was the only place and Miss Katherine
flew up the steep stairs to the attic.

There was a very little light admitted through a small window, and
when her eyes became accustomed to the dim light, she saw a trap door
in the ceiling. Of all places in the world this was the most
desirable. As luck would have it she found an old ladder among the
rubbish. One end of this she placed against the trap door, then,
pushing with all her might at the other end, she succeeded in raising
the door and liberating clouds of dust, spiders, dead flies and
cob-webs. Though half choked and blinded she proceeded to execute her
scheme. Placing an end of the ladder in the opening she endeavored to
make it secure from slipping. Of its strength she was fairly
satisfied, but she could not feel confident of its equilibrium. She
did the best she could and then began the perilous ascent. She held
the book in one hand and with the other clung fearfully to the rickety
ladder. She stood in need of another prehensile member for the rungs
of the ladder were worn smooth as glass and every upward step was
fraught with danger. The ladder creaked ominously beneath a weight
that was far from trifling. However, she made a steady progress, and
when she had climbed as far as she dared, she very cautiously reached
upward and placed the book upon the rafters. In her relief at having
placed the book in safety she forgot caution and gave the ladder the
excuse it was looking for. She felt the ladder going and frantically
grabbed the side of the trap door. It was well her arms were not
slender ones for they had to support her entire weight. The very
ceiling creaked. A severe fall was to be preferred to bringing the
roof down upon her, so she suddenly let go her hold and came crashing
down upon the floor that quivered to receive its burden. But it was
only a moment before Miss Katherine was sufficiently recovered to
assure herself that, as the book was securely hidden nothing else was
of consequence.

Poor Miss Katherine was bruised all over and had considerable
difficulty in hiding her physical sufferings from Mrs. White, who was
a native of Ocean View, and therefore it would never do to arouse her
suspicions. When that lady asked Miss Katherine how she got such a
bruise on her arm, she replied that her flesh bruised at a touch and
she must have struck it against something. But when Mrs. White
inadvertently touched Miss Katherine upon quite another part of her
body and she flinched before she recollected caution, the
aforementioned lady began to wonder, and when a woman begins to wonder
she soon has something to tell.

When Joseph returned his sister related all that had occurred during
his absence.

His evident uneasiness concerning Mr. Murphy's motives was quite
comforting. It is so gloomy to be the only anxious one in the house.

"He can't set foot on the property if we forbid him," said Joseph with
a determined countenance.

"But we can't do that, at least it wouldn't be wise," remonstrated his
sister gently. It was soothing to her bruises to note Joseph's
anxiety. "He is a perfect gentleman, a man we couldn't treat rudely.
He mightn't be spying at all and then we'd look ridiculous, or we
might arouse suspicions in him by over caution. Now my plan is to let
him call if he cares to, but never to leave him alone and to watch all
his movements very carefully. He might unconsciously give us a clew if
he has any exact knowledge of the whereabouts of the treasure. Now
don't you think that's the wisest course to pursue?"

Joseph had no wile in his makeup, so would have preferred a pugilistic
encounter at the gate, as the best way of dealing with a spy, but his
sister was undeniably the leader in this affair, so he agreed to
remain passive while she matured her plan.

It was well that they made their decision concerning the stranger when
they did for the next day, in the afternoon, as Joseph was digging
among the flowers in the front garden, Mr. Murphy appeared at the
gate. Joseph's interest in his work had driven all thoughts of
treasure and treasure seekers out of his mind. He supposed it to be
one of his neighbors and merely looked up and nodded to the caller to
enter.

"Good afternoon neighbor," said Joseph with what breath his unwonted
exertions allowed him, "could you tell me whether it's too late to
separate these roots and transplant them? I think they're too thick,
but I don't want to spoil 'em for blossoming this year. I think a piny
is as pretty a flower as grows."

"Why, now, I'd think this was about the right time to separate the
roots, but you want to do it right. Now, if you'd just give me the
spade I'll show you how to handle it and not cut the roots and I'll
separate them, too," replied Joseph's neighbor, throwing off his coat
and seizing the spade.

Joseph stood by and watched for a few moments and then trotted off to
get himself a spade. The two men spaded and puffed until all the peony
roots lay on the fresh earth. Then the work of separation began. The
supposed neighbor acted as teacher and Joseph was an interested pupil.

"Bless my soul!" exclaimed Miss Katherine, as she looked out of the
window. "Mr. Murphy!"

For almost the first time in her life she experienced a pang of
jealousy and pique. When she had advocated tolerancy towards the
suspect, it must be confessed that Miss Katherine was influenced by
more than one consideration. She had been inclined to think that if
the stranger came again, she would be the magnet and not the treasure.
And now here he was pottering around with Joseph!

She didn't stay vexed long, for soon she thought he might have been
coming to see her and Joseph in his stupid way had stopped him with
questions about his flowers. And then he very likely was fond of
flowers and gardening. All nice men were. The Captain had been
passionately fond of them.

Finally Miss Katherine sallied out with her most engaging
countenance.

"So you have pressed Mr. Murphy into service, Joseph?" she asked
brightly.

"Eh?" returned Joseph. How did Kate know this neighbor's name?

"I haven't even introduced myself to your brother, Miss Boulby,"
explained Mr. Murphy. "We have been working so hard I clear forgot."

"I mentioned Mr. Murphy's calling, if you remember," said Miss
Katherine to her brother, nudging him sharply.

"Oh, Mr. Murphy," repeated Joseph. He recollected it all now, and
being no actor, dared do nothing but stare.

"You must come in to tea," said Miss Katherine to Mr. Murphy, who
accepted promptly.

When his sister became leader in this scene, Joseph retired to the
background and subsequently to the back yard. Miss Katherine conducted
her guest to the library. Supper would soon be ready.

"You remind me somewhat of Captain Shannon," remarked Miss Katherine.

Mr. Murphy looked rather startled.

"I mean that you are fond of gardening. I have been told that it was a
passion with the Captain," explained Miss Katherine.

"I heard something like that, too, about the Captain," returned Mr.
Murphy, who seemed more fluent than upon his first visit.

"How are you feeling to-day, Mr. Murphy?" inquired Miss Katherine
kindly.

"Feeling,--feeling?" repeated her guest in a puzzled way.

"Do you think Ocean View will completely restore your health?"
explained Miss Katherine.

"Oh! Ah, yes!" hastily began Mr. Murphy. "To tell you the truth I have
been so hearty lately that I forget I came here for my health."

"Isn't that lovely!" exclaimed Miss Katherine delightedly.

"Ah--er--yes, it is," replied her guest helplessly. He was
unaccustomed to feminine effusiveness.

"I--ah--really I find that Captain Shannon interests me. Would you
tell me something more about him?" asked Mr. Murphy.

"I suppose it is some years since you knew him?" interrogated Miss
Katherine, and, as her guest made a rather unintelligible reply, she
continued:

"I have gathered very little from others concerning Captain Shannon,
but I have deduced a great deal. I don't think there is any class of
people so interesting as sailors, and especially captains. They are
daring, picturesque, romantic, don't you think?"--Mr. Murphy scratched
his head as if he would make an inlet for these new ideas.--"Paul
Jones, Long Tom and even Captain Kidd were such captivating
characters."--Mr. Murphy changed off to the other hand.--"On this
account I was disposed to admire Captain Shannon, and when I noticed
the books he had read and loved I admired him much more. I have always
told my brother that a man is charming in proportion to his love of
tales of daring and chivalry and romance."

Here the tide of Miss Katherine's eloquence was interrupted by an
eager gesture from her listener.

"If Captain Shannon set such store by those books, I believe I'll have
a try at them," he said.

Miss Katherine's face glowed. Here was a man! She went to the shelves
and read over the names. Seeing Mr. Murphy's lips moving as if he were
committing them to memory she offered to make a list for him. This was
too great a kindness! How much he would value it!

All this and more that followed on the same lines raised Mr. Murphy to
a great height in Miss Katherine's estimation. Through strict
vigilance he succeeded in maintaining this exalted position.

       *       *       *       *       *

Though other matters might temporarily thrust aside her central
subject of interest, Miss Katherine invariably returned to it. The
morning after Mr. Murphy's second visit she set to work in earnest to
obtain a clew to the hiding place of Captain Shannon's treasure. Where
was she to begin? She was well informed on the subject of secret
drawers and closets and she knew that one was apt to stumble upon them
unawares. An inadvertent touch upon a panel, the slightest pressure on
some bit of carving might expose the most cleverly concealed hiding
place.

For this reason Miss Katherine experienced more or less uneasiness
when Mrs. White was not directly under her eye. She found excuses to
follow her about constantly, until that honest woman, being of
ordinary penetration, concluded that she was not thought strictly
trustworthy. As she was a very sensible being she decided that it was
not unreasonable for Miss Boulby, an entire stranger, to keep an eye
on her. She had heard of such substantials as butter, meat and flour
disappearing through the back door, through the agency of the
domestic, so she offered to get a testimonial from the minister. Miss
Katherine saw her mistake at once and lied glibly but not well. She
explained that since coming to that house she had been strangely timid
and didn't like to be alone, and if Mrs. White had noticed her
following her about it was for that reason and no other. To give
weight to her assertion, she threw in a ghost or two that she had
suspected the house of harboring. Miss Katherine would not have
congratulated herself upon the success of her explanation had she
known that Mrs. White was saying to herself that perhaps all that was
true and perhaps it wasn't, but it would be wise for her to keep an
eye on Miss Boulby.

Miss Katherine had not yet made a sufficiently exhaustive study of
Poe's Prose tales and was thus employed in the library the next
morning, when, happening to glance up from her book, her eyes fell
upon the great fireplace that occupied almost the entire end of the
room. Miss Katherine received an inspiration. She sat up, straight and
alert.

"It is a most likely place," she said aloud.

She went over to the fireplace, looked at it carefully and began a
careful examination of the old-fashioned iron ornamentations. In the
centre of the mantle was a dog's head in gilded iron. She pinched and
pushed him, trying to find a spring in his eyes, nose, ears or tail.
He remained immovable, however, as did everything else pertaining to
the mantle. But there was still hope. She lightly tapped the brick
walls for she had been reading Poe's frightful tale of the black cat,
and she had learned that an unusual space in a wall could be detected
by a light rap upon it. Miss Katherine's ear was not trained to this
sort of divination, but she persevered, testing first a wall she was
certain was solid and then working on a suspected area.

Mrs. White had not forgotten her suspicions of the previous day and
was on the alert. She knew Miss Boulby was in the library and when she
caught the sound of a gently repeated, mysterious rapping in that
room, she tiptoed to the door and applied her eye to the keyhole. What
she saw would have made anyone inquire whether Miss Boulby were in
possession of her senses or if she never had had any. She was down
upon her knees before the hearth, gently tapping the bricks and
listening intently to the sound she produced.

"My stars alive!" whispered Mrs. White to herself as she rose on
trembling limbs, "what's she after or is she crazy? It's my belief
she's stark crazy."

Unable to satisfactorily answer her own query she crept back to the
kitchen, where she sat down and faced the situation. Was she not in
danger by remaining there with a lunatic? She shivered when she
thought that she very likely had been within an inch of death when
Miss Boulby had taken to following her around. Thank goodness, she had
taken to tearing the house to bits and not her! Mrs. White resolved to
have a bad attack of sciatica that very night and to leave the next
morning. Meanwhile she would be constantly on guard.

All unsuspecting this attitude on Mrs. White's part, Miss Katherine
was preparing for bed that night and thinking about the unfortunate
impression she had made upon Mrs. White.

"She is a good and sensible woman," said Miss Katherine to herself. "I
should be very sorry to hurt her feelings or awaken any suspicions in
her, but--I declare to goodness I've never searched the cellar and
that's one of the likeliest places. I can't possibly do it in the
daytime for she goes there so frequently. I'd just better slip down
now and have a look."

So saying, Miss Katherine slipped a heavy wrapper over her night
dress, drew on her stockings and slippers, and with the extreme
caution that makes every board in a floor creak and every joint in
one's body crack, she proceeded down the stairs.

Now this stealthy tread was just what Mrs. White's ears was expecting.

"She's prowling round the house," whispered that lady to herself.
"It's a mercy I didn't fall asleep."

Having located the enemy, Mrs. White slipped out in cautious pursuit.
She heard Miss Katherine enter into the kitchen and open the cellar
door and start down the stairs. She stole out the front way and went
round the house to a cellar window. When she arrived at that vantage
point she beheld Miss Katherine standing in the centre of the cellar,
holding a lamp above her head that she might first get a good general
view before beginning particular investigations.

"This is a difficult task," she said aloud, "the cellar is so large
that it would take me all night to sound all the walls. Now, would
there be an old iron-bound sea-chest, the kind sailors hide things in,
in a corner here?"

Holding her lamp well above her head, she slowly turned herself about
that she might see every corner.

Now it happened that old Tabby had just presented the thankless
household with a family of kittens. She had thought that some straw
that lay in a corner of the cellar would be a soft, safe bed for her
babies, and as a broken window provided ingress and egress for
herself, she had taken possession of the corner. Old Tabby's guard
over her family was most vigilant, but she had not been disturbed
until this strange figure made its appearance in the centre of the
cellar.

As Miss Katherine brought her light to bear upon Tabby's corner, the
watcher at the window, who knew nothing of the family in the cellar,
beheld the lamp dashed to the ground and heard a terrified but
half-suppressed shriek and then flying footsteps. She did not wait to
see or hear more but stole upstairs as fast as she could in a panic,
not knowing but that she might meet the maniac on the stairs.

"I'll be crazy, too, if I stay here any longer," she said to herself.
"If I'm spared till morning I'll get out of this."

She put all the movable furniture in her room against the door, sent
up a fervent prayer for protection and got into bed, but not with the
intention of sleeping.

The next morning she informed Miss Boulby that she was far from well,
was all crippled with sciatica and would have to leave. Her pale face
corroborated her words and reluctantly Miss Katherine let her go.

       *       *       *       *       *

I should like now to turn the reader's attention to our friend, Mr.
Murphy. That gentleman had found comfortable lodgings and seemed to be
getting much attached to Ocean View. By watching rather closely one
might suspect that he wished to avoid the adults of Ocean View,
excepting Mr. and Miss Boulby. He called upon them pretty frequently.
The boys of the neighborhood found his society very entertaining and
followed in a pack at his heels. He did not always welcome this
following, however, for he often put a book in his pocket and rambled
along the shore until he found just the right spot where he could sit
and read undisturbed. He had taken to doing this immediately after
his second call at the Boulbys'. The books he carried at first bore
the mark of Ocean View Public Library. But one afternoon when he had
found his favored spot, he drew from his pocket a glistening new
volume.

"Gosh darn it!" muttered Mr. Murphy, as he regarded the book, "if I'd
ever thought I'd come to this I suppose I'd 've drowned myself."

He leafed over the book and looked at the illustrations.

"It ain't dull reading anyway. It might be worse. They say Cooper was
a clever man so I guess it won't spoil my intellect to read 'em. But
it does beat all how tenants use things. To think of those brand new
books looking like that!"

Mr. Murphy turned to the first chapter and began "The Pilot." He
became very much interested therein and read on till the greyness of
the page told him that it was growing late. He closed the book, put it
in his pocket, stretched out his legs and gazed across the water.

"I'll be damned if it isn't the best of any of 'em, and I've read
upwards of two dozen now. Well, I'd never have believed it. You'll
come to almost anything in this world, that's my belief. But it does
take a woman to give you the push that starts you down."

He meditated silently for sometime, but began again to hold audible
commune with himself. "I wonder if I've got the correct picture in my
head of that knight of the waves hanging up in that library? It would
be a good pattern to model myself after if the elements of all those
high qualities ain't in me already. By darn, that's it! They are in me
all the time, too, and I don't realize it. They just need bringin' to
the surface, excavating 'em so to speak. 'Daring' was one of
'em--well, I never was called a coward. 'Picturesque'--that's a hard
one to come at. Now an Indian dressed up in his war togs, or a Mexican
or even a cowboy would have some claim on that quality, but I'll be
darned what a plain, sober, God-fearing man can do to be it and keep
the respect of his mates. I'm doubtful of making that one. If I
remember right she claimed he was 'romantic.'" Mr. Murphy kicked the
pebbles about and then resumed his monologue. "It wouldn't be as hard
to make that one as the other one. I've got half a dozen to steer by
in any one of the books I've been pouring down me. Let me see, though,
she mentioned two or three: Captain Kidd was among 'em, I remember.
I'd hate to have to carry on my conscience all he must have had on
his, if that's necessary to qualify. But I've heard he wore stunning
whiskers and that's probably what took her eye. I can't call the
others to mind but I'm bound to hit on them soon if my eyes don't give
out."

The lengthening shadows warned Mr. Murphy that it was past supper
time, so he rose, stretched himself and started homeward.

       *       *       *       *       *

All this time we have been ignoring Joseph, who had again fallen into
the even tenor of his way. The vision of gold that had for a time
disturbed his tranquility had vanished almost as suddenly as it had
arisen. Such flights of imagination were not for him and he was
leading a life of perfect content when a malicious sprite stumbled
upon him and marked him for her own.

Joseph and Willie Brown, a neighbor's boy, were spading up the ground
where he had decided to replant his currant bushes. Mr. Murphy had
been sauntering about and had pulled a book out of his pocket and
departed when Joseph's unlucky spade threw up something which, in
hitting against a stone, had given forth such a clear, ringing sound
that he stooped down and felt about in the fresh earth. His fingers
closed upon something cold, flat and round. He rubbed it against his
overalls until a piece of gold milled like a coin came to view. In a
moment his mind had made the connection between his sister's theories
and his discovery. He stood gazing at the piece of gold. "Holy Moses!"
he softly ejaculated.

Suddenly he remembered Willie. He had found but a clew to the
treasure. Where was the bulk of it? Willie suspected something
already. Joseph looked at the boy, then at the gold piece, and then
at the place where he had found it. I have remarked before that there
was no strategy in Joseph's nature. He seized Willie by the arm and
marched him towards the house.

"That ground's too hard for currant bushes," he said to the astonished
boy. "We won't work any more to-day."

However, Willie felt he had no cause for complaint, as Joseph gave him
a whole day's pay and Miss Katherine filled his pockets with cookies.

Brother and sister now held a consultation and decided that they must
be up and doing. Miss Katherine believed that they were in imminent
danger of having their treasure looted.

"I know boys," she said, "they're all eyes and ears. He saw what you
found before you did and he'll tell all the rest of the boys and
they'll come in the night and carry the whole thing away. I think we'd
better not go out to that spot again to-day for you can depend upon
it, he's watching. He'll forget about it by night and then we can go
out with the lantern."

Now, Willie Brown was like all other boys. After being dismissed by
Mr. Boulby he sat down in the corner of a fence and thought. A light
broke in upon him after a few moments of silent meditation.

"I'll bet yuh anything!" he almost yelled, slapping his leg, "that's
it!"

True to the terrible oath he had sworn, he was off like a shot to
rally the Faithful Band. It happened that he met Mr. Murphy before any
of the Band.

"I thought you were helping Mr. Boulby," said Mr. Murphy.

"So I was but--but--." Willie's pride in his secret and mystery was
his downfall. From that moment he was an empty vessel in Mr. Murphy's
sight.

That night found the brother and sister plying their spades in the
garden. Their lantern was burning dimly, but it gave sufficient light
to show the boys all they wished to see.

"What did I tell yuh?" whispered Willie to his comrades of the
Faithful Band. "Don't that beat everything? And here it was all the
time and we didn't know it."

"I'll bet the old Captain was a pirate," whispered Ned Larkins.

"I'll bet so, too," whispered another.

There is always somebody to throw cold water on our most cherished
theories, as Willie Brown was soon to learn.

"If you didn't take that thing in your own hands and examine it, you
don't know what it was, Willie," remarked Tom Parker. "There is a
mystery here alright enough, but I wouldn't say you're right, Willie."

When they were a safe distance away they besought Tom to give them the
benefit of his theory, but he absolutely refused. There was no good,
he said, in his getting mixed up with it, for if he wasn't mistaken
there'd be trouble about this thing yet. Considerably sobered, the
band dispersed.

The next day, though dejected and cast down, Willie Brown again
circulated the fiery cross among his faithful followers, and did not
even except the skeptic. He was fated to again fall in with Mr.
Murphy, who had been doing some midnight scouting himself and was
therefore in both glee and perplexity. By a few skillful questions and
tentative remarks, Mr. Murphy obtained all the information he could
desire.

The next day Joseph and his sister were feeling pretty stiff and sore
after the unaccustomed exposure to the dew and cold. They decided not
to work that night.

"You had better drag that big packing box over the hole, Joseph," said
Miss Katherine. "Somebody might fall in and break a leg."

The Faithful Band appeared later than the previous night. Mr. Murphy
had dropped a hint about the folly of undertaking certain kinds of
expeditions at any other time than midnight. They saw the faint
outlines of the box but nothing else. At first they were discomfited
and then elated. Ned Larkins said that they must climb over the fence
into the garden and dig in the exact spot where the box then was.

Tom Parker, the dissenter, being the oldest and biggest, was appointed
leader.

"No, sir!" declared he emphatically. "I know better than that. I've
got too much sense to meddle with that. The biggest detective in New
York wouldn't dare go and leave his tracks around there. Oh, no!
they're too cute for that."

Tom, of course, meant to imply that he also was "too cute for that."

Willie had taken one snub from Tom and he was determined that should
be the last.

"You're a calf," was his polite reply to Tom as he vaulted over the
fence. "Who's goin' to foller me?"

They all followed, even Tom Parker. They advanced cautiously. Willie's
temerity was moderating and he waited for the rest to come up with
him. They advanced in a semicircle. As the wavering line was within
ten yards of the box that object seemed to lift itself from the ground
and a deep groan arose as from the bowels of the earth. Oh what a
fright was that--my Faithful Banders! In a moment the fence seemed
alive with terrified and struggling boys. Mr. Murphy crawled out of
his cramped quarters and went home.

The boys had, of course, been properly sworn to secrecy, but somehow,
the next day an uneasy feeling pervaded the village. No one seemed to
possess any definite information, but there were rumors to the effect
that there were peculiar folks now in the neighborhood; people weren't
really safe and Mrs. White could tell a good deal if she would. That
lady had exercised a good deal of prudence and had said very little
about the Boulbys, but the day after the boys' adventure she was
credited with volumes.

It was not long before the strong minded mother of a member of the
Faithful Band had obtained from him enough to warrant her sending to
all the matrons of the village a pressing invitation to tea that
afternoon. It was a formidable group that foregathered that afternoon.
The discoveries and adventures of the Band were duly narrated and
embellished.

Out of the chaos of frightful tales that flourished exceedingly and
waxed more and more fearful, one could have deduced the fact that the
Boulbys were nothing more or less than modern Blue-Beards.

Well, their families had to be protected, and if they told the men all
they knew it would be all over the country in no time, and for some
reason they didn't think that would be well. As far as they could see
the best thing to be done was for them to investigate for themselves
that very night.

And so it was that for the third time the Boulbys were to undergo a
night attack.

Miss Katherine was not the sort of woman to be caught sleeping. She
had been unable to continue the excavation, owing to a slight attack
of rheumatism. She felt uneasy about so vast a treasure lying
unguarded and begged Joseph to make himself some sort of shelter in
the garden and keep watch during the night.

"You wouldn't have to keep awake all the time," she said, "you'd hear
any noise in your sleep and it would do you good to sleep out in the
fresh air."

But Joseph was not a fresh air enthusiast, and the very idea of
sleeping in the garden gave him rheumatic twinges. However, Miss
Katherine was not to be balked. She took the faithful old dog Bruno by
the collar and led him to the garden where she pointed out the box and
explained his duty to him. Bruno understood and consented.

"A woman has always one she can depend on, if she has a dog," Miss
Katherine cuttingly remarked as she re-entered the house.

Just a word about Mr. Murphy before we proceed with the night attack.

He had been very busy all day, walking about the village, chatting
with the boys and gossiping with the women. There might have been
method in his gossip, as he seemed to elicit just what he desired.
Towards evening he took a walk along the shore and held communion with
himself.

"I don't think she'd call it chivalrous to scare them. But she'd rate
it pretty high if I kept watch to come to the rescue of the besieged
or the besiegers, whichever needs help."

As Mr. Murphy has reached this satisfactory conclusion we will leave
him and return to follow the female posse across the fields to the
Boulbys' garden.

When the group of trembling females had reached the garden fence they
beheld the confirmation of the boy's story.

There was a whispered discussion of the advisability of further
investigation. The pros won and the means to this end now stared them
in the face.

The picket fence had presented no difficulties to the boys but it was
a great obstacle to their mothers. To climb it was impossible. The
only other way was to make a breach wide enough to admit a portly
form. One picket was gone and they began loosening several on each
side of the opening. It was difficult to do this and prevent the
loosening nails from screeching. The process was a very slow one as
such care had to be exercised.

Meanwhile Bruno was quite cognizant of their presence and with
bristling hair and bared teeth was crouching for an attack when
further provocation should be given.

The Boulbys had retired early, as neither was feeling very well, but
towards midnight Miss Katherine awoke and began to think of poor old
Bruno. She thought she would get up and peek out to see if he were all
right.

The trespassers were making sure but slow progress and were still
hanging on the pickets with their whole weight as Miss Katherine
looked out of the window. She was not at all alarmed. She understood
her own sex, her faithful dog and her own resources.

The heaviest of the group had now been pressed into service as weights
on the loosening pickets which suddenly surrendered with a frightful
wrenching sound. Simultaneously with this noise there arose from the
box a savage growl and a great, black beast threw himself into the air
like an imprisoned spirit released from Hades. From the window had
come a sharp report and from the opposite fence a yell that must have
been emitted from a savage throat.

At the too sudden surrender of the pickets four heavy females were
precipitated against their companions and the whole posse fell in an
inextricable mass upon the ground.

Miss Katherine let the burst paper bag flutter to the ground as she
hung upon the window curtain, helpless with laughter.

Mr. Murphy scudded away from behind the fence ejaculating,

"Bully for her! She doesn't need a protector. It's no wonder she's set
her heart on a romantic man."

When morning came and they could speak more calmly concerning their
bruises the same females were again met in conclave.

Some were for placing the matter in the hands of the constable, but
this did not meet with unanimous approval.

"Poor old constable Wilson couldn't get up enough courage to go
there," said one.

"It would be a shame to ask him," said another. "Everybody knows he
isn't expected to look after anything dangerous. Such a thing as this
was never heard of before in this neighborhood, so they just put in
old man Wilson for he could keep the boys out of the orchards and
'tend pound and that's about all there is to do in this neighborhood.
Now isn't there somebody that could handle them Boulbys?"

"I've got a plan," began an earnest faced matron. "I think Mr.
Horton's the man to see to this. If he can't exhort the evil spirit
to come out of them Boulbys, nobody can. And he ain't afraid of
anything either. It's his duty, too, to look after things like this,
for we all know that the Evil One has taken control of the Boulbys,
body and soul. But we won't have to do any urging to get Mr. Horton to
do his duty. Just last Sunday he said in his sermon that the scent of
the battle and the battle cry was like perfume to his nostrils and
music in his ears, when he could wage war upon the forces of evil."

"That's a good plan," agreed a sister in the church. "You're right in
saying he ain't afraid of anything. His sermon last Sunday was a
splendid one. I thought he'd break the old pulpit to pieces, he was
that earnest. He preached about Gideon and Gideon always makes a good
subject. Do you remember that he said that when he felt he was armed
with the sword of the Lord and of Gideon he could face ten thousand
foes?"

It was agreed that this fearless spirit would be undaunted by this
task and a committee was appointed to place the matter before him.

Mr. Horton was a man, who, had he been of another religious
persuasion, would have made one of Alva's fiercest bloodhounds. He was
untiring in his zeal for the cause he espoused. He knew not mercy and
he gave no quarter in the battle. And so he listened with hardening
face to the tale poured forth by the suffering females, the most
faithful of his flock. No need to urge him forward on the path of
duty. He gave his word that he would go forth without delay to wrestle
with the evil spirit that possessed these unfortunate people.

And thus it was that Joseph caught sight of the ministerial form
stalking up the walk just as his sister was concluding a recital of
the events of the night before.

"The minister's coming," he warned Miss Katherine. "Don't let him hear
you laughing about scaring those women--likely it's that he's coming
about."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed his sister. "I'd pretty soon tell him to mind
his own business."

Grim and undaunted Mr. Horton stood upon the verandah, awaiting
admittance. Not even the pleasant, welcoming smile upon Joseph's mild
and open countenance softened his austerity.

"A wolf in sheep's clothing, no doubt," he said to himself.

It was well that he had steeled his heart, for Miss Katherine was at
her pleasantest this morning, and she was very charming in that mood.
But even she could not soften that heart of adamant.

When he had seated himself he calmly began a searching scrutiny of the
two faces before him. Perhaps he was a student of natural history and
had learned that this was one way of taming wild animals, and as he
had come to cage the roaring lion that walked up and down the world
seeking whom he could devour, it would be well to follow approved
methods.

Mr. Horton was not a man to hesitate when his duty lay plain before
him, so he informed the brother and sister that he had come to inquire
after the welfare of their souls and to save them if they felt
themselves lost and guilty sinners condemned to a fearful punishment.

Under this attack Joseph was more nettled than his sister. Miss
Katherine told herself that he must be a religious fanatic and as they
hadn't yet attended church in Ocean View, he believed them to be
godless people.

"I have every sympathy with religious enthusiasm," she gently informed
Mr. Horton, "but, of course, I don't feel as strongly on the subject
as you do."

This remark confirmed his wolf theory and he began to fear that he had
to deal with the wiliest of Satan's lieutenants. He thought he had
better strengthen himself by a word of prayer so informed them that
they must kneel with him.

Joseph's face grew dark, but Miss Katherine imperatively motioned to
him to be silent and passive. Mr. Horton implored aid in the task he
had undertaken and begged that he might be the instrument to bring
these poor, lost, guilty souls to repentance. Under shelter of this
storm of words Miss Katherine whispered to her brother that he must
control himself and must not be violent.

When they rose from their knees, Mr. Horton was breathless, so Miss
Katherine had him at her mercy. She politely asked him to excuse her
brother as he was not feeling well, at which Joseph gratefully
withdrew.

"A guilty soul is a terrible thing, Miss Boulby," said Mr. Horton
mopping his forehead.

"Yes, I suppose it must be," she returned calmly, "but what is even
worse is to have a mind that is constantly imagining evil in others.
Now, Mr. Horton, the ladies of your church have quite ignored us since
we came, but I should be very much pleased if Mrs. Horton and some of
the prominent ladies in the church would call and we can discuss what
I can do and where I can fit in in church work."

Mr. Horton fairly shone with triumph. Here was a repentant sinner.

"There is joy among--" he began but that was too much for Miss
Katherine.

       *       *       *       *       *

About this time Mr. Murphy was giving the pebbles on the shore the
benefit of one of his frequent monologues: "I've seen them taken with
it before," he informed himself, "but never so bad as she's got it.
Treasure hunting is like yellow fever. You've got to let it burn
itself up. I should think her treasure hunting fever would be about
cured, but you never can tell with a woman. Perhaps she's onto a new
place by this time. I hope she won't go tearing the place down to see
if there's a secret chamber anywhere. I like her to enjoy herself, but
she's apt to get into trouble with Skinner if she destroys much
property. I'll have to think up some way of satisfying her or she'll
land in the penitentiary.

"I wonder if she's found any more qualities in the old Cap's picture?
I think the picture's got all the strength when she's around, for darn
me if I ain't as weak as water when she goes talking about him being
the kind of man she admires! For I know that there's just so many
qualities that I'll begin to dig up out of me or to plant in me. But
she might come to the end of the choicest characteristics soon and
give a feller time to cultivate a few."

The Captain tugged at a large volume in his pocket. He succeeded in
tearing it out. The place where he had been reading was marked by a
slip of paper upon which was a long list of books written in a
feminine hand. The name of the volume Mr. Murphy was reading was the
twenty-first on the slip and was 'Treasure Island.'

"If I'd ever had a villain like that Silver around me I'd 've strung
him up. Such dilly-dallying around makes me sick," commented the
reader.

"Why, Mr. Murphy, do you talk to yourself or are you reading aloud?
Your expression is wonderful if you were reading," said the pleasant
voice of Miss Boulby who had quite innocently chosen for her afternoon
walk Mr. Murphy's usual direction.

That gentleman jumped to his feet in great trepidation. What had he
been saying?

"Oh--why--I believe I was reading aloud. I get so interested in those
books you were telling me about--the ones the Captain read so much,
you know, that I read aloud before I think."

Miss Katherine seated herself and motioned to Mr. Murphy to do the
same. She picked up the book which had fallen in the reader's
surprise.

"Treasure Island! That is a most delightful book. I am so glad you
enjoy it. I do think that a man who can, as it were, live these
adventures with Stevenson's characters is as delightful and
interesting a person as,--as even old John Silver himself," said Miss
Katherine with enthusiasm.

"A-hem," Mr. Murphy cleared his throat and rubbed his chin. "Do you
like John Silver?"

"I think he's just fascinating, don't you?" returned Miss Katherine.

"Exactly, Miss Boulby. Fascinating's the word I was hunting for just
before you came up. But it's the subject of the book itself that
fetches me. I was always after hidden treasure, Captain Kidd's and so
on. I don't suppose you were ever taken that way?"

Miss Katherine looked at her questioner out of the corner of her eye,
but he was gazing abstractedly over the water.

"Well, yes, I must confess that I have been rather interested in
hidden treasures. But, of course, I have never done any actual hunting
as I have never had any clues. But I should think it would be very
interesting. Did you mean that you have actually sought a specific
treasure?"

"Not exactly that," explained Mr. Murphy, "at least not till I came
here."

Miss Katherine's eyes grew wide.

"I haven't done any real diggin' here yet," he went on, "but I hope to
begin soon. Now I don't mind telling you for I'd like a partner, one
who thinks as I do about it, you understand. It isn't for the love of
the money, you know, but the romance, that's it, the romance. Now you
know all about Captain Kidd?"

Miss Katherine nodded.

"Well, I've figured it out pretty well, and it's my opinion that some
of his hoard lies right along this shore and not very far from here."
Mr. Murphy's imagination was pretty well exhausted so he stopped to
recuperate.

"Along this shore and not far from here!" exclaimed Miss Katherine.
"Dear me! Who'd have thought it? But have you any maps or plans or
charts or whatever tells you where to look?"

Mr. Murphy's imagination had taken a new lease on life.

"I've got them hidden carefully in my rooms," he explained. "I have
been comparing them with the physiognomy of the shore here and I
believe with a little help on the subject which you can supply I would
be able to identify the spot to-morrow."

"I should love to help you," exclaimed Miss Katherine. "It's so very
kind of you."

"Oh, no, no!" returned Mr. Murphy. "It's only just now since you told
me that you were interested in treasure seeking that I have really
enjoyed thinking about it."

"You said you had always been interested in hidden treasures," Miss
Katherine reminded him.

Mr. Murphy's face grew red. He hastened to explain:

"I mean that the books that I've been reading under your direction
have been so interesting that I couldn't bear to stop reading and look
for the treasure."

Miss Katherine beamed.

"We will search together," she said coyly.

As they were walking home together, Mr. Murphy observed casually--

"A friend of mine who was a great friend of Captain Shannon's told me
once that the Captain had produced a new species of rose and that he
had been awarded a gold medal by the American Horticultural Society.
The Captain told my friend that he used to wear it on his chain but he
lost it while working in his garden here. Wasn't it a pity? I don't
suppose you have ever come across it?"

"Not that I know of," returned Miss Katherine composedly.

When she got home she went immediately to the library and to the
drawer that held the ancient golden coin that Joseph had found. She
took it to the kitchen where she scraped and brushed it well. Behold!
there was the name of the American Horticultural Society on one side
and on the other the inscription:

"Consequitur quodcunque petit!"

       *       *       *       *       *

When Mr. Horton returned from his visit to the Boulbys, he told his
wife of the gratifying results and of Miss Boulby's wish that she and
other church workers would call upon her.

"The brother was strangely moved," concluded Mr. Horton, "and the
sister was greatly softened."

Mrs. Horton and her friends did not delay calling upon Miss Boulby.
That lady has been walking on air since the above-related conversation
with Mr. Murphy and was in a very sweet and forgiving mood. She
allowed her callers to talk just as much as they pleased and on the
subject dearest to them. They discussed and re-discussed every phase
of church work. Miss Katherine professed herself willing to make
endless quilts for the missionary box, pin-cushions for the bazaar,
socks for the Old Men's Home and cakes for the sewing circle. The
minister's wife was dazed by such liberality and when Miss Katherine
spoke of the number of years her brother had been deacon in their home
church, and of her own activities in every conceivable church society,
the ladies felt that a terrible injustice had been done this exemplary
brother and sister.

When Miss Katherine had seen that her words fell on receptive ground
she still mellowed that soil by tempting refreshments after which she
proposed a walk in the garden. As Joseph was from home she offered
slips, roots and seeds without number. At last she came to a rose tree
which, she judged, would do as well as any other and she launched into
the story of Captain Shannon's experiments to produce a new species
and final triumph.

"We knew," said the unblushing Miss Katherine, "that he had been
awarded a medal by the American Horticultural Society. Mr. Murphy, who
is an old friend of the Captain's, told us he had lost the medal in
the garden, so we began looking for it. Come with me and I'll show you
where we found it."

Miss Katherine did so, elaborating on the trouble they had taken to
discover it.

"It is solid gold," said she, "and we were afraid that the boys might
suspect what we were looking for and come at night and hunt for it, so
we set Bruno to watch at night, but fortunately we found it. Come in
the house and I'll show it to you."

As Miss Katherine watched her visitors go away she said to herself:

"I confess that all I said this afternoon was not strictly true, but
there are times when a prudent woman will deviate somewhat from the
exact truth."

       *       *       *       *       *

When Miss Katherine had bade Mr. Murphy good afternoon, on the day of
his startling disclosure concerning Captain Kidd's treasure, the
aforementioned gentleman fell to chuckling.

"I'm in a devil of a fix, but I've saved the house from destruction,
that's sure. I'll trust her to make peace with the neighbors and then
I'll gradually ease her off the Captain Kidd proposition and then
there should be plain sailing. But Jehosaphat! What about that chart?
Well, I'll just have to get some paper and a pencil and go back to the
shore and draw it, that's all. I can't lie worth a darn. I've got to
get myself in a worse mess every time instead of lying out."

So saying, Mr. Murphy procured the paper and pencil and retraced his
steps to the shore where he labored long and arduously, for he was
neither an artist nor a cartographer.

In a couple of days Mr. Murphy informed Miss Katherine that he thought
he had located the right spot and that afternoon, they would begin
their search. Miss Katherine was to join him at the spot where she had
found him the day they became partners in this affair. He would be
laden with the necessary tools. Miss Katherine asked if she should
bring a bag in case of success, but Mr. Murphy said no, they were more
apt to find it if they acted as if they thought they wouldn't.

At the appointed time and place the junction of the forces was
successfully accomplished.

Miss Katherine and Mr. Murphy sat down side by side to study the
chart. The latter explained that he had worn out the original and this
was a copy he had made. The chart fully came up to Miss Katherine's
idea of a chart.

"Now you can see if you study it," exclaimed Mr. Murphy, "that it's
this bit of shore that's meant. See where it juts out here by the
pine tree! Well, just look down the shore there and you'll see the
very spot. From there just follow along and compare the chart with the
shore. Line for line, ain't they?"

"Isn't that remarkable!" exclaimed Miss Katherine. "What a wonderful
observer you must be to have noticed the similarity! But wouldn't you
think there would be changes in the shore line since the time this
chart was made?"

"Well, you see it's sheltered here," returned Mr. Murphy. "That makes
a big difference."

"Oh does it?" cried Miss Katherine.

"Oh, yes!" replied Mr. Murphy.

"And now where is the treasure?" asked Miss Katherine.

"Well, the first place I'd try is right in this little hollow. We'll
go right along to it."

Mr. Murphy shouldered his spade, pick and axe and directed Miss
Katherine to the spot, a little sandy hollow between two little sandy
mounds.

"Now you must keep guard while I dig," said Mr. Murphy. "It wouldn't
do to let others into the secret you know."

Miss Katherine was quite disappointed, for she had anticipated
watching the excavation sink deeper and deeper until the spade
suddenly struck the iron lid of a box, and a king's ransom glowed at
their feet. But she realized the wisdom of this request and
uncomplainingly complied with it.

In silence and with inward protest Mr. Murphy plied his spade until he
was obliged to straighten his aching back. He looked at his task
mistress entreatingly, but she was on guard and had no eyes for the
toiler. The poor man gazed about him in distress. Would he fall from
grace if he took a little rest?

Fortunately for Mr. Murphy, at this moment, Miss Katherine's eye fell
upon the little lunch basket she carried. A pang of remorse shot
through her heart as she turned and beheld her hero leaning wearily
upon his spade.

At the suggestion of lunch Mr. Murphy climbed out of prison with such
alacrity that Miss Katherine's soft heart suffered another pang. But
as pity is akin to another, warmer and tendered passion let us hope
all was working for the highest good of Miss Katherine and Mr. Murphy.

Whatever hopes of a prolonged rest that gentleman had at first
entertained were soon destroyed by a word or two from his inexorable
partner, and again the gentle chuck, chuck as the spade struck against
the soft sand, was the only sound that broke the silence.

Miss Katherine, though not watching the digger, kept time with his
steady spade and strained her ear to catch a clink instead of a click.
That would announce the bursting of an old leather bag or the
striking upon an iron box. There it would be! Gold! Gold glittering in
the light after years of darkness!

"Damn it!" broke in upon Miss Katherine's golden dream.

In mild surprise she turned about and beheld her erstwhile obedient
partner hurl his spade from him and scramble out of the deep hole he
had dug. Rebellion was written on his face, but as he approached Miss
Katherine there was something much softer and infinitely agreeable to
the female eye in his expression.

"Confound it all!" said Captain Peter Shannon, "let's stop this
foolishness and get married."



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Punctuation errors have been corrected.

Archaic and variant spelling is preserved as printed.

The following emendations have been made:

    Page 6--Katharine's amended to Katherine's--... so readily
    consented to Miss Katherine's going ...

    Page 7--be amended to he--... why wouldn't he come back ...

    Page 9--Katharine amended to Katherine--However strongly Miss
    Katherine became convinced ...

    Page 19--ever amended to every--"There is unusual strength in
    every feature, ..."

    Page 20--captain amended to Captain--... to--er--the
    Captain--ah--when he returns ...

    Page 21--captain amended to Captain--"Ah, you think that the
    late Captain was ..."

    Page 27--by amended to my--"Bless my soul!" exclaimed Miss
    Katherine, ...

    Page 31--snbstantials amended to substantials--She had heard of
    such substantials ...

    Page 32--Pue's amended to Poe's--... for she had been reading
    Poe's frightful tale of the black cat, ...

    Page 36--hook amended to book--... for he often put a book in
    his pocket ...

    Page 37--llustrations amended to illustrations--... and looked
    at the illustrations.

    Page 39--aainst amended to against--... which, in hitting
    against a stone, ...

    Page 42--your're amended to you're--"... but I wouldn't say
    you're right, Willie."

    Page 46--seem amended to seemed--... as he seemed to elicit
    just what he desired.

    Page 48--know's amended to knows--"Everybody knows he isn't
    expected ..."

    Page 53--thing amended to think--I think the picture's got all
    the strength ...

    Page 53--a sweak amended to as weak--... I ain't as weak as
    water ...

    Page 54--villian amended to villain--"If I'd ever had a villain
    like that Silver ..."

    Page 54--one's amended to ones--... the ones the Captain read so
    much, ...

    Page 55--omitted double closing quote added--"... Now you know
    all about Captain Kidd?"

    Page 55--horde amended to hoard--... it's my opinion that some
    of his hoard lies right along this shore ...

    Page 57--omitted word 'he' added--The Captain told my friend
    that he used to wear it ...

    Page 57--Consequitar amended to Consequitur--"Consequitur
    quodcunque petit!"

    Page 59--forunately amended to fortunately--... but fortunately
    we found it.

    Page 60--everytime amended to every time--... in a worse mess
    every time ...





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