Part 3 out of 5
Mr. Chalk stole another look at him; Mrs. Chalk, somewhat suspicious,
followed his example.
"It's a pity you never married, Captain Bowers," she said, at length;
"most men seem to do all they can to keep things from their wives. But
one of these days----"
She finished the sentence by an expressive glance at her husband.
Captain Bowers, suddenly enlightened, hastened to change the subject.
"I haven't seen Tredgold or Stobell either," he said, gazing fixedly at
"They--they were talking about you only the other day," said that
gentleman, nervously. "Is Miss Drewitt well?"
"Quite well," said the captain, briefly. "I was beginning to think you
had all left Binchester," he continued; "gone for a sea voyage or
Mr. Chalk laughed uneasily. "I thought that Joseph wasn't looking very
well the last time I saw you," he said, with an imploring glance at the
captain to remind him of the presence of Mrs. Chalk.
"Joseph's all right," replied the other, "so is the parrot."
Mr. Chalk started and said that he was glad to hear it, and sat trying to
think of a safe subject for conversation.
"Joseph's a nice parrot," he said at last. "The parrot's a nice lad, I
"Thomas!" said Mrs. Chalk.
"Joseph-is-a-nice-lad," said Mr. Chalk, recovering himself. "I have
The sentence was never completed, being interrupted by a thundering
rat-tat-tat at the front door, followed by a pealing at the bell, which
indicated that the visitor was manfully following the printed injunction
to "Ring also." The door was opened and a man's voice was heard in the
hall-a loud, confident voice, at the sound of which Mr. Chalk, with one
horrified glance in the direction of Captain Bowers, sank back in his
chair and held his breath.
"Captain Brisket," said the maid, opening the door.
The captain came in with a light, bustling step, and, having shaken Mr.
Chalk's hand with great fervour and acknowledged the presence of Captain
Bowers and Mrs. Chalk by two spasmodic jerks of the head, sat
bolt-upright on the edge of a chair and beamed brightly upon the
"I've got news," he said, hoarsely.
"News?" said the unfortunate Mr. Chalk, faintly.
"Ah!" said Brisket, nodding. "News! I've got her at last."
Mrs. Chalk started.
"I've got her," continued Captain Brisket, with an air of great
enjoyment;" and a fine job I had of it, I can tell you. Old Todd said he
couldn't bear parting with her. Once or twice I thought he meant it."
Mr. Chalk made a desperate effort to catch his eye, but in vain. It was
fixed in reminiscent joy on the ceiling.
"We haggled about her for days," continued Brisket;" but at last I won.
The _Fair Emily_ is yours, sir."
"The fair who?" cried Mrs. Chalk, in a terrible voice. "Emily who?
Captain Brisket turned and regarded her in amazement.
"Emily who?" repeated Mrs. Chalk.
"Why, it's--" began Brisket.
"H'sh!" said Mr. Chalk, desperately. "It's a secret."
"It's a secret," said Captain Brisket, nodding calmly at Mrs. Chalk.
Wrath and astonishment held her for the moment breathless. Mr. Chalk,
caught between his wife and Captain Bowers, fortified himself with
memories of the early martyrs and gave another warning glance at Brisket.
For nearly two minutes that undaunted mariner met the gaze of Mrs. Chalk
"A--a secret?" gasped the indignant woman at last, as she turned to her
husband. "You sit there and dare to tell me that?"
"It isn't my secret," said Mr. Chalk,"else I should tell you at once."
"It isn't his secret," said the complaisant Brisket.
Mrs. Chalk controlled herself by a great effort and, turning to Captain
Brisket, addressed him almost calmly. "Was it Emily that came whistling
over the garden-wall the other night?" she inquired.
"Whis---?" said the hapless Brisket, making a noble effort. He finished
the word with a cough and gazed with protruding eyes at Mr. Chalk. The
appearance of that gentleman sobered him at once.
"No," he said, slowly.
"How do you know?" inquired Mrs. Chalk.
"Because she can't whistle," replied Captain Brisket, feeling his way
carefully. "And what's more, she wouldn't if she could. She's been too
well brought up for that."
He gave a cunning smile at Mr. Chalk, to which that gentleman, having
decided at all hazards to keep the secret from Captain Bowers, made a
ghastly response, and nodded to him to proceed.
"What's she got to do with my husband?" demanded Mrs. Chalk, her voice
rising despite herself.
"I'm coming to that," said Brisket, thoughtfully, as he gazed at the
floor in all the agonies of composition; "Mr. Chalk is trying to get her
a new place."
"New place?" said Mrs. Chalk, in a choking voice.
Captain Brisket nodded. "She ain't happy where she is," he explained,
"and Mr. Chalk--out o' pure good-nature and kindness of heart--is trying
to get her another, and I honour him for it."
He looked round triumphantly. Mr. Chalk, sitting open-mouthed,
was regarding him with the fascinated gaze of a rabbit before a
boa-constrictor. Captain Bowers was listening with an appearance of
interest which in more favourable circumstances would have been very
"You said," cried Mrs. Chalk--"you said to my husband: 'The fair Emily is
[Illustration: "You said to my husband:'The fair Emily is yours.'"]
"So I did," said Brisket, anxiously--"so I did. And what I say I stick
to. When I said that the--that Emily was his, I meant it. I don't say
things I don't mean. That isn't Bill Brisket's way."
"And you said just now that he was getting her a place," Mrs. Chalk
reminded him, grimly.
"Mr. Chalk understands what I mean," said Captain Brisket, with dignity.
"When I said 'She is yours,' I meant that she is coming here."
"O-oh!" said Mrs. Chalk, breathlessly. "Oh, indeed! Oh, is she?"
"That is, if her mother'll let her come," pursued the enterprising
Brisket, with a look of great artfulness at Mr. Chalk, to call his
attention to the bridge he was building for him;" but the old woman's
been laid up lately and talks about not being able to spare her."
Mrs. Chalk sat back helplessly in her chair and gazed from her husband to
Captain Brisket, and from Captain Brisket back to her husband. Captain
Brisket, red-faced and confident, sat upright on the edge of his chair as
though inviting inspection; Mr. Chalk plucked nervously at his fingers.
Captain Bowers suddenly broke silence.
"What's her tonnage?" he inquired abruptly, turning to Brisket.
"Two hundred and for----"
Captain Brisket stopped dead and, rubbing his nose hard with his
forefinger, gazed thoughtfully at Captain Bowers.
"The _Fair Emily_ is a ship," said the latter to Mrs. Chalk.
"A ship!" cried the bewildered woman. "A ship living with her invalid
mother and coming to my husband to get her a place! Are you trying to
screen him, too?"
"It's a ship," repeated Captain Bowers, sternly, as he sought in vain to
meet the eye of Mr. Chalk;" a craft of two hundred and something tons.
For some reason--best known to himself--Mr. Chalk wants the matter kept
"It--it isn't my secret," faltered Mr. Chalk.
"Where's she lying?" said Captain Bowers.
Mr. Chalk hesitated. "Biddlecombe," he said, at last.
Captain Brisket laughed noisily and, smacking his leg with his open hand,
smiled broadly upon the company. No response being forthcoming, he
laughed again for his own edification, and sat good-humouredly waiting
"Is this true, Thomas?" demanded Mrs. Chalk.
"Yes, my dear," was the reply.
"Then why didn't you tell me, instead of sitting there listening to a
string of falsehoods?"
"I--I wanted to give you a surprise--a pleasant little surprise," said
Mr. Chalk, with a timid glance at Captain Bowers. "I have bought a share
in a schooner, to go for a little cruise. Just a jaunt for pleasure."
"Tredgold, Stobell, and Chalk," said Captain Bowers, very distinctly.
"I wanted to keep it secret until it had been repainted and done up,"
continued Mr. Chalk, watching his wife's face anxiously, "and then
Captain Brisket came in and spoilt it."
"That's me, ma'am," said the gentleman mentioned, shaking his head
despairingly. "That's Bill Brisket all over. I come blundering in, and
the first thing I do is to blurt out secrets; then, when I try to smooth
Mrs. Chalk paid no heed. Alluding to the schooner as "our yacht," she at
once began to discuss the subject of the voyage, the dresses she would
require, and the rival merits of shutting the house up or putting the
servants on board wages. Under her skilful hands, aided by a few
suggestions of Captain Brisket's, the _Fair Emily_ was in the short space
of twenty minutes transformed into one of the most luxurious yachts that
ever sailed the seas. Mr. Chalk's heart failed him as he listened. His
thoughts were with his partners in the enterprise, and he trembled as he
thought of their comments.
"It will do Mrs. Stobell a lot of good," said his wife, suddenly.
Mr. Chalk, about to speak, checked himself and blew his nose instead.
The romance of the affair was beginning to evaporate. He sat in a state
of great dejection, until Captain Bowers, having learned far more than he
had anticipated, shook hands with impressive gravity and took his
The captain walked home deep in thought, with a prolonged stare at the
windows of Tredgold's office as he passed. The present whereabouts of
the map was now quite clear, and at the top of Dialstone Lane he stopped
and put his hand to his brow in consternation, as he thought of the
elaborate expedition that was being fitted out for the recovery of the
[Illustration: "The captain walked home deep in thought."]
Prudence, who was sitting in the window reading, looked up at his
entrance and smiled.
"Edward Tredgold has been in to see you," she remarked.
The captain nodded. "Couldn't he stop?" he inquired.
"I don't know," said his niece; "I didn't see him. I was upstairs when
Captain Bowers looked perturbed. "Didn't you come down?" he inquired.
"I sent down word that I had a headache," said Miss Drewitt, carelessly.
Despite his sixty odd years the captain turned a little bit pink.
"I hope you are better now," he said, at last.
"Oh, yes," said his niece; "it wasn't very bad. It's strange that I
should have a headache so soon after you; looks as though they're in the
family, doesn't it?"
Somewhat to the captain's relief she took up her book again without
waiting for a reply, and sat reading until Mr. Tasker brought in the tea.
The captain, who was in a very thoughtful mood, drank cup after cup in
silence, and it was not until the meal was cleared away and he had had a
few soothing whiffs at his pipe that he narrated the events of the
"There!" said Prudence, her eyes sparkling with indignation. "What did I
say? Didn't I tell you that those three people would be taking a holiday
soon? The idea of Mr. Tredgold venturing to come round here this
"He knows nothing about it," protested the captain.
Miss Drewitt shook her head obstinately. "We shall see," she remarked.
"The idea of those men going after your treasure after you had said it
wasn't to be touched! Why, it's perfectly dishonest!"
The captain blew a cloud of smoke from his mouth and watched it disperse.
"Perhaps they won't find it," he murmured.
"They'll find it," said his niece, confidently. "Why shouldn't they?
This Captain Brisket will find the island, and the rest will be easy."
"They might not find the island," said the captain, blowing a cloud so
dense that his face was almost hidden. "Some of these little islands
have been known to disappear quite suddenly. Volcanic action, you know.
What are you smiling at?" he added, sharply.
"Thoughts," said Miss Drewitt, clasping her hands round her knee and
smiling again. "I was thinking how odd it would be if the island sank
just as they landed upon it."
Mr. Chalk, when half-awake next morning, tried to remember Mr. Stobell's
remarks of the night before; fully awake, he tried to forget them. He
remembered, too, with a pang that Tredgold had been content to enact the
part of a listener, and had made no attempt to check the somewhat unusual
fluency of the aggrieved Mr. Stobell. The latter's last instructions
were that Mrs. Chalk was to be told, without loss of time, that her
presence on the schooner was not to be thought of.
With all this on his mind Mr. Chalk made but a poor breakfast, and his
appetite was not improved by his wife's enthusiastic remarks concerning
the voyage. Breakfast over, she dispatched a note to Mrs. Stobell by the
housemaid, with instructions to wait for a reply. Altogether six notes
passed during the morning, and Mr. Chalk, who hazarded a fair notion as
to their contents, became correspondingly gloomy.
"We're to go up there at five," said his wife, after reading the last
note. "Mr. Stobell will be at tea at that time, and we're to drop in as
though by accident."
"What for?" inquired Mr. Chalk, affecting surprise. "Go up where?"
"To talk to Mr. Stobell," said his wife, grimly. "Fancy, poor Mrs.
Stobell says that she is sure he won't let her come. I wish he was my
husband, that's all."
Mr. Chalk muttered something about "doing a little gardening."
"You can do that another time," said Mrs. Chalk, coldly. "I've noticed
you've been very fond of gardening lately."
The allusion was too indirect to contest, but Mr. Chalk reddened despite
himself, and his wife, after regarding his confusion with a questioning
eye, left him to his own devices and his conscience.
Mr. Stobell and his wife had just sat down to tea when they arrived, and
Mrs. Stobell, rising from behind a huge tea-pot, gave a little cry of
surprise as her friend entered the room, and kissed her affectionately.
[Illustration: "Mrs. Stobell."]
"Well, who would have thought of seeing you?" she cried. "Sit down."
Mrs. Chalk sat down at the large table opposite Mr. Stobell; Mr. Chalk,
without glancing in his wife's direction, seated himself by that
"Well, weren't you surprised?" inquired Mrs. Chalk, loudly, as her
hostess passed her a cup of tea.
"Surprised?" said Mrs. Stobell, curiously.
"Why, hasn't Mr. Stobell told you?" exclaimed Mrs. Chalk.
"Told me?" repeated Mrs. Stobell, glancing indignantly at the wide-open
eyes of Mr. Chalk. "Told me what?"
It was now Mrs. Chalk's turn to appear surprised, and she did it so well
that Mr. Chalk choked in his tea-cup. "About the yachting trip," she
said, with a glance at her husband that made his choking take on a
ventriloquial effect of distance.
"He--he didn't say anything to me about it," said Mrs. Stobell, timidly.
She glanced at her husband, but Mr. Stobell, taking an enormous bite out
of a slice of bread and butter, made no sign.
"It'll do you a world of good," said Mrs. Chalk, affectionately. "It'll
put a little colour in your cheeks."
Mrs. Stobell flushed. She was a faded little woman; faded eyes, faded
hair, faded cheeks. It was even whispered that her love for Mr. Stobell
was beginning to fade.
"And I don't suppose you'll mind the seasickness after you get used to
it," said the considerate Mr. Chalk," and the storms, and the cyclones,
and fogs, and collisions, and all that sort of thing."
"If you can stand it, she can," said his wife, angrily.
"But I don't understand," said Mrs. Stobell, appealingly. "What yachting
Mrs. Chalk began to explain; Mr. Stobell helped himself to another slice,
and, except for a single glance under his heavy brows at Mr. Chalk,
appeared to be oblivious of his surroundings.
"It sounds very nice," said Mrs. Stobell, after her friend had finished
her explanation. "Perhaps it might do me good. I have tried a great
"Mr. Stobell ought to have taken you for a voyage long before," said Mrs.
Chalk, with conviction. "Still, better late than never."
"The only thing is," said Mr. Chalk, speaking with an air of great
benevolence, "that if the sea didn't suit Mrs. Stobell, she would be
unable to get away from it. And, of course, it might upset her very
Mr. Stobell wiped some crumbs from his moustache and looked up.
"No, it won't," he said, briefly.
"Is she a good sailor?" queried Mr. Chalk, somewhat astonished at such a
remark from that quarter.
"Don't know," said Mr. Stobell, passing his cup up. "But this trip won't
upset her--she ain't going."
Mrs. Chalk exclaimed loudly and exchanged glances of consternation with
Mrs. Stobell; Mr. Stobell, having explained the position, took some more
bread and butter and munched placidly.
"Don't you think it would do her good?" said Mrs. Chalk, at last.
"Might," said Mr. Stobell, slowly, "and then, again, it mightn't."
"But there's no harm in trying," persisted Mrs. Chalk.
Mr. Stobell made no reply. Having reached his fifth slice he was now
encouraging his appetite with apricot jam.
"And it's so cheap," continued Mrs. Chalk.
"That's the way I look at it. If she shuts up the house and gets rid of
the servants, same as I am going to do, it will save a lot of money."
She glanced at Mr. Stobell, whose slowly working jaws and knitted brows
appeared to indicate deep thought, and then gave a slight triumphant nod
at his wife.
"Servants are so expensive," she murmured. "Really, I shouldn't be
surprised if we saved money on the whole affair. And then think of her
health. She has never quite recovered from that attack of bronchitis.
She has never looked the same woman since. Think of your feelings if
anything happened to her. Nothing would bring her back to you if once
"Went where? "inquired Mr. Stobell, who was not attending very much.
"If she died, I mean," said Mrs. Chalk, shortly.
"We've all got to die some day," said the philosophic Mr. Stobell.
Mrs. Stobell interposed. "Not till September, Robert," she said, almost
"It wouldn't be nice to be buried at sea," remarked Mr. Chalk,
contributing his mite to the discussion. "Of course, it's very
impressive; but to be left down there all alone while the ship sails on
must be very hard."
[Illustration: "It wouldn't be nice to be buried at sea," remarked Mr.
Mrs. Stobell's eyes began to get large. "I'm feeling quite well," she
"Yes, dear," said Mrs. Chalk, with a threatening glance at her husband."
Of course, we know that.
But a voyage would do you good. You can't deny that."
Mrs. Stobell, fumbling for her handkerchief, said in a tremulous voice
that she had no wish to deny it. Mr. Stobell, appealed to by the
energetic Mrs. Chalk, admitted at once that it might do his wife good,
but that it wouldn't him.
"We're going to be three jolly bachelors," he declared, and, first
nudging Mr. Chalk to attract his attention, deliberately winked at him.
"Oh, indeed!" exclaimed Mrs. Chalk, drawing herself up;" but you forget
that I am coming."
"Two jolly bachelors, then," said the undaunted Stobell.
"No," said Mrs. Chalk, shaking her head, "I am not going alone; if Mrs.
Stobell can't come I would sooner stay at home."
Mr. Stobell's face cleared; his mouth relaxed and his dull eyes got
almost kindly. With the idea of calling the attention of Mr. Chalk to
the pleasing results of a little firmness he placed his foot upon that
gentleman's toe and bore heavily.
"Best place for you," he said to Mrs. Chalk. "There's no place like home
for ladies. You can have each other to tea every day if you like. In
fact, there's no reason----" he paused and looked at his wife, half
doubtful that he was conceding too much--"there's no reason why you
shouldn't sleep at each other's sometimes."
He helped himself to some cake and, rendered polite by good-nature,
offered some to Mrs. Chalk.
"Mind, I shall not go unless Mrs. Stobell goes," said the latter, waving
the plate away impatiently; "that I am determined upon."
Mr. Chalk, feeling that appearances required it, ventured on a mild--a
"And he," continued Mrs. Chalk, sternly, indicating her husband with a
nod, "doesn't go without me--not a single step, not an inch of the way."
Mr. Chalk collapsed and sat staring at her in dismay. Mr. Stobell,
placing both hands on the table, pushed his chair back and eyed her
"It seems to me----" he began.
"I know," said Mrs. Chalk, speaking with some rapidity--"I know just how
it seems to you. But that's how it is. If you want my husband to go you
have got to have me too, and if you have me you have got to have your
wife, and if----"
"What, is there any more of you coming?" demanded Mr. Stobell, with great
Mrs. Chalk ignored the question. "_My_ husband wouldn't be happy without
_me,_" she said, primly. "Would you, Thomas?"
"No," said Mr. Chalk, with a gulp.
"We--we're going a long way," said Mr. Stobell, after a long pause.
"Longer the better," retorted Mrs. Chalk.
"We're going among savages," continued Mr. Stobell, casting about for
arguments; "cannibal savages."
"They won't eat her," said Mrs. Chalk, with a passing glance at the
scanty proportions of her friend, "not while you're about."
"I don't like to take my wife into danger," said Mr. Stobell, with surly
bashfulness; "I'm--I'm too fond of her for that. And she don't want to
come. Do you, Alice?"
"No," said Mrs. Stobell, dutifully, "but I want to share your dangers,
"Say 'yes' or 'no' without any trimmings," commanded her husband, as he
intercepted a look passing between her and Mrs. Chalk. "Do-you-want-to-
Mrs. Stobell trembled. "I don't want to prevent Mr. Chalk from going,"
"Never mind about him," said Mr. Stobell.
"Yes," said Mrs. Stobell.
Her husband, hardly able to believe his ears, gazed at her in
bewilderment. "Very well, then," he said, in a voice that made the
tea-cups rattle. "COME!"
He sat with bent brows gazing at the table as Mrs. Chalk, her face
wreathed in triumphant smiles, began to discuss yachting costumes and
other necessities of ocean travel with the quivering Mrs. Stobell.
Unable to endure it any longer he rose and, in a voice by no means
alluring, invited Mr. Chalk into the garden to smoke a pipe; Mr. Chalk,
helping himself to two pieces of cake as evidence, said that he had not
yet finished his tea. Owing partly to lack of appetite and partly to the
face which Mr. Stobell pressed to the window every other minute to entice
him out, he made but slow progress.
The matter was discussed next day as they journeyed down to Biddlecombe
with Mr. Tredgold to complete the purchase of the schooner, the views of
the latter gentleman coinciding so exactly with those of Mr. Stobell that
Mr. Chalk was compelled to listen to the same lecture twice.
Under this infliction his spirits began to droop, nor did they revive
until, from the ferry-boat, his eyes fell upon the masts of the _Fair
Emily,_ and the trim figure of Captain Brisket standing at the foot of
the steps awaiting their arrival.
"We've had a stroke of good luck, gentlemen," said Brisket, in a husky
whisper, as they followed him up the steps. "See that man?"
He pointed to a thin, dismal-looking man, standing a yard or two away,
who was trying to appear unconscious of their scrutiny.
[Illustration: "He pointed to a thin, dismal-looking man."]
"Peter Duckett," said Brisket, in the same satisfied whisper.
Mr. Stobell, ever willing for a free show, stared at the dismal man and
groped in the recesses of his memory. The name seemed familiar.
"The man who ate three dozen hard-boiled eggs in four minutes?" he asked,
with a little excitement natural in the circumstances.
Captain Brisket stared at him. "No; Peter Duckett, the finest mate that
ever sailed," he said, with a flourish. "We're lucky to have the chance
of getting him, I can tell you. To see him handle sailormen is a
revelation; to see him handle a ship----"
He broke off and shook his head with the air of a man who despaired of
doing justice to his subject. "These are the gentlemen, Peter," he said,
introducing them with a wave of his hand.
Mr. Duckett raised his cap, and tugging at a small patch of reddish-brown
hair strangely resembling a door-mat in texture, which grew at the base
of his chin, cleared his throat and said it was a fine morning.
"Not much of a talker is Peter," said the genial Brisket. "He's a doer;
that's what he is-a doer. Now, if you're willing--and I hope you are--
he'll come aboard with us and talk the matter over."
This proposition being assented to after a little delay on the part of
Mr. Stobell, who appeared to think Mr. Duckett's lack of connection with
the hard-boiled eggs somewhat suspicious, they proceeded to Todd's Wharf
and made a thorough inspection of the schooner. Mr. Chalk's eyes grew
bright and his step elastic. He roamed from forecastle to cabin and from
cabin to galley, and, his practice with the crow's-nest in Dialstone Lane
standing him in good stead, wound up by ascending to the masthead and
waving to his astonished friends below.
Mr. Todd came on board as he regained the deck, and, stroking his white
beard, regarded him with an air of benevolent interest.
"There's no ill-feeling," he said, as Mr. Chalk eyed his outstretched
hand somewhat dubiously. "You're a hard nut, that's what you are, and I
pity anybody that has the cracking of you. A man that could come and
offer me seventy pounds for a craft like this--seventy pounds, mind you,"
he added, with a rising colour, as he turned to the others "seventy
pounds, and a face like a baby. Why, when I think of it, DAMME IF I
Captain Brisket laid his hand on his arm and with soothing words led him
below. His voice was heard booming in the cabin until at length it ended
in a roar of laughter, and Captain Brisket, appearing at the companion,
beckoned them below, with a whispered injunction to Mr. Chalk to keep as
much in the background as possible.
The business was soon concluded, and Mr. Chalk's eye brightened again as
he looked on his new property. Captain Brisket, in high good-humour,
began to talk of accommodation, and, among other things, suggested a
scheme of cutting through the bulkhead at the foot of the companion-
ladder and building a commodious cabin with three berths in the hold.
"There are two ladies coming," said Mr. Chalk.
Captain Brisket rubbed his chin. "I'd forgotten that," he said, slowly.
"Two, did you say?"
"It doesn't matter," said Mr. Stobell, fixing him with his left eye and
slowly veiling the right. "You go on with them alterations. One of the
ladies can have your state-room and the other the mate's bunk."
"Where are Captain Brisket and the mate to sleep?" inquired Mr. Chalk.
"Anywhere," replied Mr. Stobell. "With the crew if they like."
Captain Brisket, looking suddenly very solemn, shook his head and said
that it was impossible. He spoke in moving terms of the danger to
discipline, and called upon Mr. Duckett to confirm his fears. Meantime,
Mr. Stobell, opening his right eye slowly, winked with the left.
"You go on with them alterations," he repeated.
Captain Brisket started and reflected. A nod from Mr. Tredgold and a
significant gesture in the direction of the unconscious Mr. Chalk decided
him. "Very good, gentlemen," he said, cheerfully. "I'm in your hands,
and Peter Ducket'll do what I do. It's settled he's coming, I suppose?"
Mr. Tredgold, after a long look at the anxious face of Mr. Duckett, said
"Yes," and then at Captain Brisket's suggestion the party adjourned to
the Jack Ashore, where in a little room upstairs, not much larger than
the schooner's cabin, the preparations for the voyage were discussed in
"And mind, Peter," said Captain Brisket to his friend, as the pair
strolled along by the harbour after their principals had departed, "the
less you say about this the better. We don't want any Biddlecombe men in
"Why not?" inquired the other.
"Because," replied Brisket, lowering his voice," there's more in this
than meets the eye. They're not the sort to go on a cruise to the
islands for pleasure--except Chalk, that is. I've been keeping my ears
open, and there's something afoot. D'ye take me?"
[Illustration: "There's more in this than meets the eye."]
Mr. Duckett nodded shrewdly.
"I'll pick a crew for 'em," said Brisket. "A man here and a man there.
Biddlecombe men ain't tough enough. And now, what about that whisky
you've been talking so much about?"
Further secrecy as to the projected trip being now useless, Mr. Tredgold
made the best of the situation and talked freely concerning it. To the
astonished Edward he spoke feelingly of seeing the world before the
insidious encroachments of age should render it impossible; to Captain
Bowers, whom he met in the High Street, he discussed destinations with
the air of a man whose mind was singularly open on the subject. If he
had any choice it appeared that it was in the direction of North America.
"You might do worse," said the captain, grimly.
"Chalk," said Mr. Tredgold, meditatively "Chalk favours the South. I
think that he got rather excited by your description of the islands
there. He is a very--"
"If you are going to try and find that island I spoke about," interrupted
the captain, impatiently, "I warn you solemnly that you are wasting both
your time and your money. If I had known of this voyage I would have
told you so before. If you take my advice you'll sell your schooner and
stick to business you understand."
Mr. Tredgold laughed easily. "We may look for it if we go that way," he
said. "I believe that Chalk has bought a trowel, in case we run up
against it. He has got a romantic belief in coincidences, you know."
"Very good," said the captain, turning away. "Only don't blame me,
whatever happens. You can't say I have not warned you."
He clutched his stick by the middle and strode off down the road. Mr.
Tredgold, gazing after his retreating figure with a tolerant smile,
wondered whether he would take his share of the treasure when it was
offered to him.
The anxiety of Miss Vickers at this period was intense. Particulars of
the purchase of the schooner were conveyed to her by letter, but the
feminine desire of talking the matter over with somebody became too
strong to be denied. She even waylaid Mr. Stobell one evening, and,
despite every discouragement, insisted upon walking part of the way home
with him. He sat for hours afterwards recalling the tit-bits of a
summary of his personal charms with which she had supplied him.
Mr. Chalk spent the time in preparations for the voyage, purchasing,
among other necessaries, a stock of firearms of all shapes and sizes,
with which he practised in the garden. Most marksmen diminish gradually
the size of their target; but Mr. Chalk, after starting with a
medicine-bottle at a hundred yards, wound up with the greenhouse at
fifteen. Mrs. Chalk, who was inside at the time tending an invalid
geranium, acted as marker, and, although Mr. Chalk proved by actual
measurement that the bullet had not gone within six inches of her, the
range was closed.
[Illustration: "Purchasing firearms, with which he practised in the
By the time the alterations on the _Fair Emily_ were finished the summer
was nearly at an end, and it was not until the 20th of August that the
travellers met on Binchester platform. Mrs. Chalk, in a smart yachting
costume, with a white-peaked cap, stood by a pile of luggage discoursing
to an admiring circle of friends who had come to see her off. She had
shut up her house and paid off her servants, and her pity for Mrs.
Stobell, whose husband had forbidden such a course in her case, provided
a suitable and agreeable subject for conversation. Mrs. Stobell had
economised in quite a different direction, and Mrs. Chalk gazed in
indignant pity at the one small box and the Gladstone bag which contained
[Illustration: "Mrs. Chalk stood by a pile of luggage, discoursing to an
admiring circle of friends."]
"She don't want to dress up on shipboard," said Mr. Stobell.
Mrs. Chalk turned and eyed her friend's costume--a plain tweed coat and
skirt, in which she had first appeared the spring before last.
"If we're away a year," she said, decidedly," she'll be in rags before we
Mr. Stobell said that fortunately they would be in a warm climate, and
turned to greet the Tredgolds, who had just arrived. Then the train came
in, and Mr. Chalk, appearing suddenly from behind the luggage, where he
had been standing since he had first caught sight of the small, anxious
face of Selina Vickers on the platform, entered the carriage and waved
cheery adieus to Binchester.
To the eyes of Mr. Chalk and his wife Biddlecombe appeared to have put on
holiday attire for the occasion. With smiling satisfaction they led the
way to the ferry, Mrs. Chalk's costume exciting so much attention that
the remainder of the party hung behind to watch Edward Tredgold fasten
his bootlace. It took two boats to convey the luggage to the schooner,
and the cargo of the smaller craft shifting in mid-stream, the boatman
pulled the remainder of the way with a large portion of it in his lap.
Unfortunately, his mouth was free.
Mr. Chalk could not restrain a cry of admiration as he clambered on board
the _Fair Emily_. The deck was as white as that of a man-of-war, and her
brass-work twinkled in the sun. White paint work and the honest and
healthy smell of tar completed his satisfaction. His chest expanded as
he sniffed the breeze, and with a slight nautical roll paced up and down
the spotless deck.
[Illustration: "A slight nautical roll."]
"And now," said Captain Brisket, after a couple of sturdy seamen had
placed the men's luggage in the new cabin, "which of you ladies is going
to have my state-room, and which the mate's bunk?"
Mrs. Chalk started; she had taken it for granted that she was to have the
state-room. She turned and eyed her friend anxiously.
"The bunk seems to get the most air," said Mrs. Stobell. "And it's
nearer the ladder in case of emergencies."
"You have it, dear," said Mrs. Chalk, tenderly. "I'm not nervous."
"But you are so fond of fresh air," said Mrs. Stobell, with a longing
glance at the state-room. "I don't like to be selfish."
"You're not," said Mrs. Chalk, with conviction.
"Chalk and I will toss for it," said Mr. Stobell, who had been listening
with some impatience. He spun a coin in the air, and Mr. Chalk, winning
the bunk for his indignant wife, was at some pains to dilate upon its
manifold advantages. Mrs. Stobell, with a protesting smile, had her
things carried into the state-room, while Mrs. Chalk stood by listening
coldly to plans for putting her heavy luggage in the hold.
"What time do we start?" inquired Tredgold senior, moving towards the
"Four o'clock, sir," replied Brisket.
Mr. Stobell, his heavy features half-lit by an unwonted smile, turned and
surveyed his friends. "I've ordered a little feed at the King of Hanover
at half-past one," he said, awkwardly. "We'll be back on board by
half-past three, captain."
Captain Brisket bowed, and the party were making preparations for
departure when a hitch was caused by the behaviour of Mrs. Chalk, who was
still brooding over the affair of the state-room. In the plainest of
plain terms she declared that she did not want any luncheon and preferred
to stay on board. Her gloom seemed to infect the whole party, Mr.
Stobell in particular being so dejected that his wife eyed him in
"It'll spoil it for all of us if you don't come," he said, with bashful
surliness. "Why, I arranged the lunch more for you than anybody. It'll
be our last meal on shore."
Mrs. Chalk said that she had had so many meals on shore that she could
afford to miss one, and Mr. Stobell, after eyeing her for some time in a
manner strangely at variance with his words, drew his wife to one side
and whispered fiercely in her ear.
"Well, I sha'n't go without her," said Mrs. Stobell, rejoining the group.
"What with losing that nice, airy bunk and getting that nasty, stuffy
stateroom, I don't feel like eating."
Mrs. Chalk's countenance cleared. "Don't you like it, dear? "she said,
affectionately. "Change, by all means, if you don't. Never mind about
their stupid tossing."
Mrs. Stobell changed, and Mr. Tredgold senior, after waiting a decent
interval for the sake of appearances, entreated both ladies to partake of
the luncheon. Unable to resist any longer, Mrs. Chalk gave way, and in
the ship's boat, propelled by the brawny arms of two of the crew, went
ashore with the others.
Luncheon was waiting for them in the coffee-room of the inn, and the
table was brave with flowers and bottles of champagne. Impressed by the
occasion George the waiter attended upon them with unusual decorum, and
the landlady herself entered the room two or three times to see that
things were proceeding properly.
"Here's to our next meal on shore," said Mr. Chalk, raising his glass and
nodding solemnly at Edward.
"That will be tea for me," said the latter. "I shall come back here, I
expect, and take a solitary cup to your memory. Let me have a word as
soon as you can."
"You ought to get a cable from Sydney in about six or seven months," said
His son nodded. "Don't trouble about any expressions of affection," he
urged; "they'd come expensive. If you find me dead of overwork when you
"I shall contest the certificate," said his father, with unwonted
"I wonder how we shall sleep to-night?" said Mrs. Stobell, with a little
shiver. "Fancy, only a few planks between us and the water!"
"That won't keep me awake," said Mrs. Chalk, decidedly;" but I shouldn't
sleep a wink if I had left my girls in the house, the same as you have.
I should lie awake all night wondering what tricks they'd be up to."
"But you've left your house unprotected," said Mrs. Stobell.
"The house won't run away," retorted her friend," and I've sent all my
valuables to the bank and to friends to take care of, and had all my
carpets taken up and beaten and warehoused. I can't imagine what Mr.
Stobell was thinking of not to let you do the same."
"There's a lot as would like to know what I'm thinking of sometimes,"
remarked Mr. Stobell, with a satisfied air.
Mrs. Chalk glanced at him superciliously, but, remembering that he was
her host, refrained from the only comments she felt to be suitable to the
occasion. Under the tactful guidance of Edward Tredgold the conversation
was led to shipwrecks, fires at sea, and other subjects of the kind
comforting to the landsman, Mr. Chalk favouring them with a tale of a
giant octopus, culled from Captain Bowers's collection, which made Mrs.
Stobell's eyes dilate with horror.
"You won't see any octopuses," said her husband. "You needn't worry
He got up from the table, and crossing to the window stood with his hands
behind his back, smoking one of the "King of Hanover's" cigars.
"Very good smoke this," he said, taking the cigar from his mouth and
inspecting it critically. "I think I'll take a box or two with me."
"Just what I was thinking," said Mr. Jasper Tredgold. "Let's go down and
see the landlord."
Mr. Stobell followed him slowly from the room, leaving Mr. Chalk and
Edward to entertain the ladies. The former gentleman, clad in a neat
serge suit, an open collar, and a knotted necktie, leaned back in his
chair, puffing contentedly at one of the cigars which had excited the
encomiums of his friends. He was just about to help himself to a little,
more champagne when Mr. Stobell, reappearing at the door, requested him
to come and give them the benefit of his opinion in the matter of cigars.
"They don't seem up to sample," he said, with a growl;" and you're a good
judge of a cigar."
Mr. Chalk rose and followed him downstairs, where, to his great
astonishment, he was at once seized by Mr. Tredgold and led outside.
"Anything wrong?" he demanded.
"We must get to the ship at once," said Tredgold, in an excited whisper.
Mr. Chalk, much startled, clapped his hands to his head and spoke of
going back for his hat.
"Never mind about your hat," said Stobell, impatiently; "we haven't got
He took Mr. Chalk's other arm and started off at a rapid pace.
"What is the matter?" inquired Mr. Chalk, looking from one to the other.
"Message from Captain Brisket to go on board at once, or he won't be
answerable for the consequences," replied Tredgold, in a thrilling
whisper; "and, above all, to bring Mr. Chalk to quiet the men."
Mr. Chalk turned a ghastly white. "Is it mutiny?" he faltered.
[Illustration: "'Is it mutiny?' he faltered."]
"Something o' the sort," said Stobell.
Despite his friend's great strength, Mr. Chalk for one moment almost
brought him to a standstill. Then, in a tremulous voice, he spoke of
going to the police.
"We don't want the police," said Tredgold, sharply. "If you're afraid,
Chalk, you'd better go back and stay with the ladies while we settle the
Mr. Chalk flushed, and holding his head erect said no more. Mr. Duckett
and a waterman were waiting for them at the stairs, and, barely giving
them time to jump in, pushed off and pulled with rapid strokes to the
schooner. Mr. Chalk's heart failed him as they drew near and he saw men
moving rapidly about her deck. His last thoughts as he clambered over
the side were of his wife.
In blissful ignorance of his proceedings, Mrs. Chalk, having adjusted her
cap in the glass and drawn on her gloves, sat patiently awaiting his
return. She even drew a good-natured comparison between the time spent
on choosing cigars and bonnets.
"There's plenty of time," she said, in reply to an uneasy remark of Mrs.
Stobell's. "It's only just three, and we don't sail until four. What is
that horrid, clanking noise?"
"Some craft getting up her anchor," said Edward, going to the window and
leaning out. "WHY! HALLOA!"
"What's the matter?" said both ladies.
Edward drew in his head and regarded them with an expression of some
"It's the _Fair Emily,_" he said, slowly, "and she's hoisting her sails."
"Just trying the machinery to see that it's all right, I suppose," said
Mrs. Chalk. "My husband said that Captain Brisket is a very careful
Edward Tredgold made no reply. He glanced first at three hats standing
in a row on the sideboard, and then at the ladies as they came to the
window, and gazed with innocent curiosity at the schooner. Even as they
looked she drew slowly ahead, and a boat piled up with luggage, which had
been lying the other side of her, became visible. Mrs. Chalk gazed at it
"It can't be ours," she gasped. "They--they'd never dare! They--they--"
She stood for a moment staring at the hats on the sideboard, and then,
followed by the others, ran hastily downstairs. There was a hurried
questioning of the astonished landlady, and then, Mrs. Chalk leading,
they made their way to the stairs at a pace remarkable in a woman of her
age and figure. Mrs. Stobell, assisted by Edward Tredgold, did her best
to keep up with her, but she reached the goal some distance ahead, and,
jumping heavily into a boat, pointed to the fast-receding schooner and
bade the boatman overtake it.
"Can't be done, ma'am," said the man, staring, "not without wings."
"Row hard," said Mrs. Chalk, in a voice of sharp encouragement.
The boatman, a man of few words, jerked his thumb in the direction of the
_Fair Emily,_ which was already responding to the motion of the sea
"You run up the road on to them cliffs and wave to'em," he said, slowly.
Mrs. Chalk hesitated, and then, stepping out of the boat, resumed the
pursuit by land. Ten minutes' hurried walking brought them to the
cliffs, and standing boldly on the verge she enacted, to the great
admiration of a small crowd, the part of a human semaphore.
[Illustration: "She enacted, to the great admiration of a small crowd,
the part of a human semaphore."
The schooner, her bows pointing gradually seawards, for some time made no
sign. Then a little group clustered at the stern and waved farewells.
Mrs. Chalk watched the schooner until it was a mere white speck on the
horizon, a faint idea that it might yet see the error of its ways and
return for her chaining her to the spot. Compelled at last to recognise
the inevitable, she rose from the turf on which she had been sitting and,
her face crimson with wrath, denounced husbands in general and her own in
"It's my husband's doing, I'm sure," said Mrs. Stobell, with a side
glance at her friend's attire, not entirely devoid of self-
congratulation. "That's why he wouldn't let me have a yachting costume.
I can see it now."
Mrs. Chalk turned and eyed her with angry disdain.
"And that's why he wouldn't let me bring more than one box," continued
Mrs. Stobell, with the air of one to whom all things had been suddenly
revealed; "and why he wouldn't shut the house up. Oh, just fancy what a
pickle I should have been in if I had! I must say it was thoughtful of
"_Thoughtful!_" exclaimed Mrs. Chalk, in a choking voice.
"And I ought to have suspected something," continued Mrs. Stobell,
"because he kissed me this morning. I can see now that he meant it for
goodbye! Well, I can't say I'm surprised. Robert always does get his
"If you hadn't persuaded me to come ashore for that wretched luncheon,"
said Mrs. Chalk, in a deep voice, "we should have been all right."
"I'm sure I wasn't to know," said her friend, "although I certainly
thought it odd when Robert said that he had got it principally for you.
I could see you were a little bit flattered."
Mrs. Chalk, trembling with anger, sought in vain for a retort.
"Well, it's no good staying here," said Mrs. Stobell, philosophically.
"We had better get home."
"_Home!_" cried Mrs. Chalk, as a vision of her bare floors and dismantled
walls rose before her. "When I think of the deceitfulness of those men,
giving us champagne and talking about the long evenings on board, I don't
know what to do with myself. And your father was one of them," she
added, turning suddenly upon Edward.
Mr. Tredgold disowned his erring parent with some haste, and, being by
this time rather tired of the proceedings, suggested that they should
return to the inn and look up trains--a proposal to which Mrs. Chalk,
after a final glance seawards, silently assented. With head erect she
led the way down to the town again, her bearing being so impressive that
George the waiter, who had been watching for them, after handing her a
letter which had been entrusted to him, beat a precipitate retreat.
The letter, which was from Mr. Stobell, was short and to the point.
It narrated the artifice by which Mr. Chalk had been lured away, and
concluded with a general statement that women were out of place on
shipboard. This, Mrs. Stobell declared, after perusing the letter, was
intended for an apology.
Mrs. Chalk received the information in stony silence, and, declining tea,
made her way to the station and mounted guard over her boxes until the
train was due. With the exception of saying "Indeed!" on three or four
occasions she kept silent all the way to Binchester, and, arrived there,
departed for home in a cab, in spite of a most pressing invitation from
Mrs. Stobell to stay with her until her own house was habitable.
Mr. Tredgold parted from them both with relief. The voyage had been a
source of wonder to him from its first inception, and the day's
proceedings had only served to increase the mystery. He made a light
supper and, the house being too quiet for his taste, went for a
meditative stroll. The shops were closed and the small thoroughfares
almost deserted. He wondered whether it was too late to call and talk
over the affair with Captain Bowers, and, still wondering, found himself
in Dialstone Lane.
Two or three of the houses were in darkness, but there was a cheerful
light behind the drawn blind of the captain's sitting-room. He hesitated
a moment and then rapped lightly on the door, and no answer being
forthcoming rapped again. The door opened and revealed the amiable
features of Mr. Tasker.
"Captain Bowers has gone to London, sir," he said.
Mr. Tredgold drew his right foot back three inches, and at the same time
tried to peer into the room.
"We're expecting him back every moment," said Mr. Tasker, encouragingly.
Mr. Tredgold moved his foot forward again and pondered. "It's very late,
but I wanted to see him rather particularly," he murmured, as he stepped
into the room.
"Miss Drewitt's in the garden," said Joseph.
Mr. Tredgold started and eyed him suspiciously. Mr. Tasker's face,
however, preserving its usual appearance of stolid simplicity, his
features relaxed and he became thoughtful again.
"Perhaps I might go into the garden," he suggested.
"I should if I was you, sir," said Joseph, preceding him and throwing
open the back door. "It's fresher out there."
Mr. Tredgold stepped into the garden and stood blinking in the sudden
darkness. There was no moon and the night was cloudy, a fact which
accounted for his unusual politeness towards a cypress of somewhat
stately bearing which stood at one corner of the small lawn. He replaced
his hat hastily, and an apologetic remark concerning the lateness of his
visit was never finished. A trifle confused, he walked down the garden,
peering right and left as he went, but without finding the object of his
search. Twice he paced the garden from end to end, and he had just
arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Tasker had made a mistake when a faint
sound high above his head apprised him of the true state of affairs.
He stood listening in amazement, but the sound was not repeated.
Ordinary prudence and a sense of the fitness of things suggested that he
should go home; inclination suggested that he should seat himself in the
deck-chair at the foot of the crow's-nest and await events. He sat down
to consider the matter.
Sprawling comfortably in the chair he lit his pipe, his ear on the alert
to catch the slightest sound of the captive in the cask above. The warm
air was laden with the scent of flowers, and nothing stirred with the
exception of Mr. Tasker's shadow on the blind of the kitchen window. The
clock in the neighbouring church chimed the three-quarters, and in due
time boomed out the hour of ten. Mr. Tredgold knocked the ashes from his
pipe and began seriously to consider his position. Lights went out in
the next house. Huge shadows appeared on the kitchen blind and the light
gradually faded, to reappear triumphantly in the room above. Anon the
shadow of Mr. Tasker's head was seen wrestling fiercely with its back
"Mr. Tredgold!" said a sharp voice from above.
[Illustration: "'Mr. Tredgold!' said a sharp voice from above."]
Mr. Tredgold sprang to his feet, overturning the chair in his haste, and
"Miss Drewitt!" he cried, in accents of intense surprise.
"I am coming down," said the voice.
"Pray be careful," said Mr. Tredgold, anxiously; "it is very dark. Can I
"Yes--you can go indoors," said Miss Drewitt.
Her tone was so decided and so bitter that Mr. Tredgold, merely staying
long enough to urge extreme carefulness in the descent, did as he was
desired. He went into the sitting-room and, standing uneasily by the
fireplace, tried to think out his line of action. He was still
floundering when he heard swift footsteps coming up the garden, and Miss
Drewitt, very upright and somewhat flushed of face, confronted him.
"I--I called to see the captain," he said, hastily, "and Joseph told me
you were in the garden. I couldn't see you anywhere, so I took the
liberty of sitting out there to wait for the captain's return."
Miss Drewitt listened impatiently. "Did you know that I was up in the
crow's-nest?" she demanded.
"Joseph never said a word about it," said Mr. Tredgold, with an air of
great frankness. "He merely said that you were in the garden, and, not
being able to find you, I thought that he was mistaken."
"Did you know that I was up in the crow's-nest?" repeated Miss Drewitt,
with ominous persistency.
"A--a sort of idea that you might be there did occur to me after a time,"
admitted the other.
"Did you know that I was there?"
Mr. Tredgold gazed at her in feeble indignation, but the uselessness of
denial made truth easier. "Yes," he said, slowly.
"Thank you," said the girl, scornfully. "You thought that I shouldn't
like to be caught up there, and that it would be an amusing and
gentlemanly thing to do to keep me a prisoner. I quite understand. My
estimate of you has turned out to be correct."
"It was quite an accident," urged Mr. Tredgold, humbly. "I've had a very
worrying day seeing them off at Biddlecombe, and when I heard you up in
the nest I succumbed to sudden temptation. If I had stopped to think--if
I had had the faintest idea that you would catechise me in the way you
have done--I shouldn't have dreamt of doing such a thing."
Miss Drewitt, who was standing with her hand on the latch of the door
leading upstairs, as a hint that the interview was at an end, could not
restrain her indignation.
"Your father and his friends have gone off to secure my uncle's treasure,
and you come straight on here," she cried, hotly. "Do you think that
there is no end to his good-nature?"
"Treasure?" said the other, with a laugh. "Why, that idea was knocked on
the head when the map was burnt. Even Chalk wouldn't go on a roving
commission to dig over all the islands in the South Pacific."
"I don't see anything to laugh at," said the girl; "my uncle fully
intended to burn it. He was terribly upset when he found that it had
"Disappeared?" cried Mr. Tredgold, in accents of unmistakable amazement.
"Why, wasn't it burnt after all? The captain said it was."
"He was going to burn it," repeated the girl, watching him; "but somebody
took it from the bureau."
"Took it? When?" inquired the other, as the business of the yachting
cruise began to appear before him in its true colours.
"The afternoon you were here waiting for him," said Miss Drewitt.
"Afternoon?" repeated Mr. Tredgold, blankly. "The afternoon I was----"
He drew himself up and eyed her angrily. "Do you mean to say that you
think I took the thing?"
"It doesn't matter what I think," said the girl. "I suppose you won't
deny that your friends have got it?"
"Yes; but you said that it was the afternoon I was here," persisted the
Miss Drewitt eyed him indignantly. The conscience-stricken culprit of a
few minutes before had disappeared, leaving in his stead an arrogant
young man, demanding explanations in a voice of almost unbecoming
"You are shouting at me," she said, stiffly.
Mr. Tredgold apologised, but returned to the charge. "I answered your
question a little while ago," he said, in more moderate tones; "now,
please, answer mine. Do you think that I took the map?"
"I am not to be commanded to speak by you," said Miss Drewitt, standing
"Fair-play is a jewel," said the other. "Question for question. Do
Miss Drewitt looked at him and hesitated. "No," she said, at last, with
Mr. Tredgold's countenance cleared and his eyes softened.
"I suppose you admit that your father has got it?" said the girl, noting
these signs with some disapproval. "How did he get it?"
Mr. Tredgold shook his head. "If those three overgrown babes find that
treasure," he said, impressively, "I'll doom myself to perpetual
"I answered your question just now," said the girl, very quietly,
"because I wanted to ask you one. Do you believe my uncle's story about
the buried treasure?"
Mr. Tredgold eyed her uneasily. "I never attached much importance to
it," he replied. "It seemed rather romantic."
"Do you believe it?"
"No," said the other, doggedly.
The girl drew a long breath and favoured him with a look in which triumph
and anger were strangely mingled.
"I wonder you can visit him after thinking him capable of such a
falsehood," she said, at last. "You certainly won't be able to after I
have told him."
"I told you in confidence," was the reply. "I have regarded it all along
as a story told to amuse Chalk; that is all. I shall be very sorry if
you say anything that might cause unpleasantness between myself and
"I shall tell him as soon as he comes in," said Miss Drewitt. "It is
only right that he should know your opinion of him. Good-night."
Mr. Tredgold said "good-night," and, walking to the door, stood for a
moment regarding her thoughtfully. It was quite clear that in her
present state of mind any appeal to her better nature would be worse than
useless. He resolved to try the effect of a little humility.
"I am very sorry for my behaviour in the garden," he said, sorrowfully.
"It doesn't matter," said the girl; "I wasn't at all surprised."
Mr. Tredgold recognised the failure of the new treatment at once. "Of
course, when I went into the garden I hadn't any idea that you would be
in such an unlikely place," he said, with a kindly smile. "Let us hope
that you won't go there again."
Miss Drewitt, hardly able to believe her ears, let him go without a word,
and in a dazed fashion stood at the door and watched him up the lane.
When the captain came in a little later she was sitting in a stiff and
uncomfortable attitude by the window, still thinking.
He was so tired after a long day in town that the girl, at considerable
personal inconvenience, allowed him to finish his supper before
recounting the manifold misdeeds of Mr. Tredgold. She waited until he
had pushed his chair back and lit a pipe, and then without any preface
plunged into the subject with an enthusiasm which she endeavoured in vain
to make contagious. The captain listened in silence and turned a
somewhat worried face in her direction when she had finished.
"We can't all think alike," he said, feebly, as she waited with flushed
cheeks and sparkling eyes for the verdict. "I told you he hadn't taken
the map. As for those three idiots and their harebrained voyage--"
"But Mr. Tredgold said that he didn't believe in the treasure," said the
wrathful Prudence. "One thing is, he can never come here again; I think
that I made him understand that. The idea of thinking that you could
tell a falsehood!"
The captain bent down and, picking a used match from the hearthrug, threw
it carefully under the grate. Miss Drewitt watched him expectantly.
"We mustn't quarrel with people's opinions," he said, at last. "It's a
free country, and people can believe what they like. Look at Protestants
and Catholics, for instance; their belief isn't the same, and yet I've
known 'em to be staunch friends."
Miss Drewitt shook her head. "He can never come here again," she said,
with great determination. "He has insulted you, and if you were not the
best-natured man in the world you would be as angry about it as I am."
The captain smoked in silence.
"And his father and those other two men will come back with your
treasure," continued Prudence, after waiting for some time for him to
speak. "And, so far as I can see, you won't even be able to prosecute
them for it."
"I sha'n't do anything," said Captain Bowers, impatiently, as he rose and
knocked out his half-smoked pipe," and I never want to hear another word
about that treasure as long as I live. I'm tired of it. It has caused
more mischief and unpleasantness than--than it is worth. They are
welcome to it for me."
[Illustration: "'I never want to hear another word about that treasure as
long as I live.'"]
Mr. Chalk's foot had scarcely touched the deck of the schooner when Mr.
Tredgold seized him by the arm and, whispering indistinctly in his ear,
hurried him below.
"Get your arms out of the cabin as quick as you can," he said, sharply.
"Then follow me up on deck."
Mr. Chalk, trembling violently, tried to speak, but in vain. A horrid
clanking noise sounded overhead, and with the desperation of terror he
turned into the new cabin and, collecting his weapons, began with frantic
haste to load them. Then he dropped his rifle and sprang forward with a
loud cry as he heard the door close smartly and the key turn in the lock.
He stood gazing stupidly at the door and listening to the noise overhead.
The clanking ceased, and was succeeded by a rush of heavy feet, above
which he heard Captain Brisket shouting hoarsely. He threw a despairing
glance around his prison, and then looked up at the skylight. It was not
big enough to crawl through, but he saw that by standing on the table he
could get his head out. No less clearly he saw how easy it would be for
a mutineer to hit it.
Huddled up in a corner of the cabin he tried to think. Tredgold and
Stobell were strangely silent, and even the voice of Brisket had ceased.
The suspense became unbearable. Then suddenly a faint creaking and
straining of timbers apprised him of the fact that the Fair Emily was
He sprang to his feet and beat heavily upon the door, but it was of stout
wood and opened inwards. Then a bright idea, the result of reading
sensational fiction, occurred to him, and raising his rifle to his
shoulder he aimed at the lock and pulled the trigger.
The noise of the explosion in the small cabin was deafening, but, loud as
it was, it failed to drown a cry of alarm outside. The sound of heavy
feet and of two or three bodies struggling for precedence up the
companion-ladder followed, and Mr. Chalk, still holding his smoking rifle
and regarding a splintered hole in the centre of the panel, wondered
whether he had hit anybody. He slipped in a fresh cartridge and,
becoming conscious of a partial darkening of the skylight, aimed hastily
at a face which appeared there. The face, which bore a strong
resemblance to that of Mr. Stobell, disappeared with great suddenness.
[Illustration: "He aimed hastily at a face which appeared there."]
"He's gone clean off his head," said Captain Brisket, as Mr. Stobell
"Mad as a March hare," said Mr. Tredgold, shivering; "it's a wonder he
didn't have one of us just now. Call down to him that it's all right,
"Call yourself," said that gentleman, shortly.
"Get a stick and raise the skylight," said Tredgold.
A loud report sounded from below. Mr. Chalk had fired a second and
successful shot at the lock. "What's he doing? "inquired Stobell,
A sharp exclamation from Captain Brisket was the only reply, and he
turned just as Mr. Chalk, with a rifle in one hand and a revolver in the
other, appeared on deck. The captain's cry was echoed forward, and three
of the crew dived with marvellous skill into the forecastle. The boy and
two others dashed into the galley so hurriedly that the cook, who was
peeping out, was borne backwards on to the stove and kept there, the
things he said in the heat of the moment being attributed to excitement
and attracting no attention. Tredgold, Brisket, and Stobell dodged
behind the galley, and Mr. Chalk was left to gaze in open-mouthed wonder
at the shrinking figure of Mr. Duckett at the wheel. They regarded each
other in silence, until a stealthy step behind Mr. Chalk made him turn
round smartly. Mr. Stobell, who was stealing up to secure him, dodged
hastily behind the mainmast.
"Stobell!" cried Mr. Chalk, faintly.
"It's all right," said the other.
Mr. Chalk regarded his proceedings in amazement. "What are you hiding
behind the mast for?" he inquired, stepping towards him.
Mr. Stobell made no reply, but with an agility hardly to be expected of
one of his bulk dashed behind the galley again.
A sense of mystery and unreality stole over Mr. Chalk. He began to think
that he must be dreaming. He turned and looked at Mr. Duckett, and Mr.
Duckett, trying to smile at him, contorted his face so horribly that he
shrank back appalled. He looked about him and saw that they were now in
open water and drawing gradually away from the land. The stillness and
mystery became unbearable, and with an air of resolution he cocked his
rifle and proceeded with infinite caution to stalk the galley. As he
weathered it, with his finger on the trigger, Stobell and the others
stole round the other side and, making a mad break aft, stumbled down the
companion-ladder and secured themselves below.
"Has everybody gone mad?" inquired Mr. Chalk, approaching the mate again.
"Everybody except you, sir," said Mr. Duckett, with great politeness.
Mr. Chalk looked forward again and nearly dropped his rifle as he saw
three or four tousled heads protruding from the galley. Instinctively he
took a step towards Mr. Duckett, and instinctively that much-enduring man
threw up his hands and cried to him not to shoot. Mr. Chalk, pale of
face and trembling of limb, strove to reassure him.
"But it's pointing towards me," said the mate," and you've got your
finger on the trigger."
[Illustration: "'It's pointing towards me,' said the mate."]
Mr. Chalk apologized.
"What did Tredgold and Stobell run away for?" he demanded.
Mr. Duckett said that perhaps they were--like himself--nervous of
firearms. He also, in reply to further questions, assured him that the
mutiny was an affair of the past, and, gaining confidence, begged him to
hold the wheel steady for a moment. Mr. Chalk, still clinging to his
weapons, laid hold of it, and the mate, running to the companion, called
to those below. Led by Mr. Stobell they came on deck.
"It's all over now," said Tredgold, soothingly.
"As peaceable as lambs," said Captain Brisket, taking a gentle hold of
the rifle, while Stobell took the revolver.
Mr. Chalk smiled faintly, and then looked round in trepidation as the
inmates of the galley drew near and scowled at him curiously.
"Get for'ard!" cried Brisket, turning on them sharply. "Keep your own
end o' the ship. D'ye hear?"
The men shuffled off slowly, keeping a wary eye on Mr. Chalk as they
went, the knowledge of the tempting mark offered by their backs to an
eager sportsman being apparent to all.
"It's all over," said Brisket, taking the wheel from the mate and
motioning to him to go away, "and after your determination, sir, there'll
be no more of it, I'm sure."
"But what was it?" demanded Mr. Chalk. "Mutiny?"
"Not exactly what you could call mutiny," replied the captain, in a low
voice. "A little mistake o' Duckett's. He's a nervous man, and perhaps
he exaggerated a little. But don't allude to it again, for the sake of
"But somebody locked me in the cabin," persisted Mr. Chalk, looking from
one to the other.
Captain Brisket hesitated. "Did they?" he said, with a smile of
perplexity. "Did they? I gave orders that that door was to be kept
locked when there was nobody in there, and I expect the cook did it by
mistake as he passed. It's been a chapter of accidents all through, but
I must say, sir, that the determined way you came on deck was wonderful."
"Extraordinary!" murmured Mr. Tredgold.
"I didn't know him," attested Mr. Stobell, continuing to regard Mr. Chalk
with much interest.
"I can't make head or tail of it," complained Mr. Chalk. "What about the
Captain Brisket shook his head dismally and pointed ashore, and Mr.
Chalk, following the direction of his finger, gazed spellbound at a
figure which was signalling wildly from the highest point. Tredgold and
Stobell, approaching the side, waved their handkerchiefs in response.
"We must go back for them," said Mr. Chalk, firmly.
"What! in this wind, sir? "inquired Brisket, with an indulgent laugh.
"You're too much of a sailor to think that's possible, I'm sure; and it's
going to last."
"We must put up with the disappointment and do without'em," said Stobell.
Mr. Chalk gazed helplessly ashore. "But we've got their luggage," he
"Duckett sent it ashore," said Brisket. "Thinking that there was men's
work ahead, and that the ladies might be in the way, he put it over the
side and sent it back. And mind, believing what he did, I'm not saying
he wasn't in the right."
Mr. Chalk again professed his inability to make head or tail of the
proceedings. Ultimately--due time having been given for Captain
Brisket's invention to get under way--he learned that a dyspeptic seaman,
mistaking the mate's back for that of the cook, had first knocked his cap
over his eyes and then pushed him over. "And that, of course," concluded
the captain, "couldn't be allowed anyway, but, seeing that it was a
mistake, we let the chap off."
"There's one thing about it," said Tredgold, as Chalk was about to speak;
"it's shown us the stuff you're made of, Chalk."
"He frightened me," said Brisket, solemnly. "I own it. When I saw him
come up like that I lost my nerve."
Mr. Chalk cast a final glance at the dwindling figure on the cliff, and
then went silently below and stood in a pleasant reverie before the
smashed door. He came to the same conclusion regarding the desperate
nature of his character as the others; and the nervous curiosity of the
men, who took sly peeps at him, and the fact that the cook dropped the
soup-tureen that evening when he turned and found Mr. Chalk at his elbow,
only added to his satisfaction.
He felt less heroic next morning. The wind had freshened during the
night, and the floor of the cabin heaved in a sickening fashion beneath
his feet as he washed himself. The atmosphere was stifling; timbers
creaked and strained, and boots and other articles rolled playfully about
[Illustration: "He felt less heroic next morning."]
The strong, sweet air above revived him, but the deck was wet and
cheerless and the air chill. Land had disappeared, and a tumbling waste
of grey seas and a leaden sky was all that met his gaze. Nevertheless,
he spoke warmly of the view to Captain Brisket, rather than miss which he
preferred to miss his breakfast, contenting himself with half a biscuit
and a small cup of tea on deck. The smell of fried bacon and the clatter
of cups and saucers came up from below.
The heavy clouds disappeared and the sun came out. The sea changed from
grey to blue, and Tredgold and Stobell, coming on deck after a good
breakfast, arranged a couple of chairs and sat down to admire the scene.
Aloft the new sails shone white in the sun, and spars and rigging creaked
musically. A little spray came flying at intervals over the bows as the
schooner met the seas.
"Lovely morning, sir," said Captain Brisket, who had been for some time
exchanging glances with Stobell and Tredgold; "so calm and peaceful."
"Bu'ful," said Mr. Chalk, shortly. He was gazing in much distaste at a
brig to starboard, which was magically drawn up to the skies one moment
and blotted from view the next.
"Nice fresh smell," said Tredgold, sniffing. "Have a cigar, Chalk?"
Mr. Chalk shook his head, and his friend, selecting one from his case,
lit it with a fusee that poisoned the atmosphere.
"None of us seem to be sea-sick," he remarked.
"Sea-sickness, sir," said Captain Brisket--"seasickness is mostly
imagination. People think they're going to be bad, and they are. But
there's one certain cure for it."
"Cure?" said Mr. Chalk, turning a glazing eye upon him.
"Yes, sir," said Brisket, with a warning glance at Mr. Stobell, who was
grinning broadly. "It's old-fashioned and I've heard it laughed at, but
it's a regular good old remedy. Mr. Stobell's laughing at it," he
continued, as a gasping noise from that gentleman called for
explanation," but it's true all the same."
"What is it?" inquired Mr. Chalk, with feeble impatience.
"Pork," replied Captain Brisket, with impressive earnestness. "All that
anybody's got to do is to get a bit o' pork-fat pork, mind you--and get
the cook to stick a fork into it and frizzle it, all bubbling and
spluttering, over the galley fire. Better still, do it yourself; the
smell o' the cooking being part of----"
Mr. Chalk arose and, keeping his legs with difficulty, steadied himself
for a moment with his hands on the companion, and disappeared below.
"There's nothing like it," said Brisket, turning with a satisfied smile
to Mr. Stobell, who was sitting with his hands on his knees and rumbling
with suppressed mirth. "It's an odd thing, but, if a man's disposed to
be queer, you've only got to talk about that to finish him. Why talking
about fried bacon should be so bad for 'em I don't know."
"Imagination," said Tredgold, smoking away placidly.
Brisket smiled and then, nursing his knee, scowled fiercely at the
helmsman, who was also on the broad grin.
"Of course, it wants proper telling," he continued, turning to Stobell.
"Did you notice his eyes when I spoke of it bubbling and spluttering over
the galley fire?"
"I did," replied Mr. Stobell, laying his pipe carefully on the deck.
"Some people tell you to tie the pork to a bit o' string after frying
it," said Brisket," but that's what I call overdoing it. I think it's
quite enough to describe its cooking, don't you?"
"Plenty," said Stobell. "Have one o' my matches," he said, proffering
his box to Tredgold, who was about to relight his cigar with a fusee.
"Thanks, I prefer this," said Tredgold.
Mr. Stobell put his box in his pocket again and, sitting lumpily in his
chair, gazed in a brooding fashion at the side.
"Talking about pork," began Brisket," reminds me--"
"What! ain't you got over that joke yet?" inquired Mr. Stobell, glaring
at him. "Poor Chalk can't help his feelings."
"No, no," said the captain, staring back.
"People can't help being sea-sick," said Stobell, fiercely.
"Certainly not, sir," agreed the captain.
"There's no disgrace in it," continued Mr. Stobell, with unusual
fluency," and nothing funny about it that I can see."
"Certainly not, sir," said the perplexed captain again. "I was just
going to point out to you how, talking about pork--"
"I know you was," stormed Mr. Stobell, rising from his chair and lurching
forward heavily. "D'ye think I couldn't hear you? Prating, and prating,
He disappeared below, and the captain, after exchanging a significant
grin with Mr. Tredgold, put his hands behind his back and began to pace
the deck, musing solemnly on the folly of trusting to appearances.
Sea-sickness wore off after a day or two, and was succeeded by the
monotony of life on board a small ship. Week after week they saw nothing
but sea and sky, and Mr. Chalk, thirsting for change, thought with
wistful eagerness of the palm-girt islands of the Fijian Archipelago to
which Captain Brisket had been bidden to steer. In the privacy of their
own cabin the captain and Mr. Duckett discussed with great earnestness
the nature of the secret which they felt certain was responsible for the
[Illustration: "The captain and Mr. Duckett discussed with great
earnestness the nature of the secret."]
It is an article of belief with some old-fashioned people that children
should have no secrets from their parents, and, though not a model father
in every way, Mr. Vickers felt keenly the fact that his daughter was
keeping something from him. On two or three occasions since the date of
sailing of the _Fair Emily_ she had relieved her mind by throwing out
dark hints of future prosperity, and there was no doubt that, somewhere
in the house, she had a hidden store of gold. With his left foot glued
to the floor he had helped her look for a sovereign one day which had
rolled from her purse, and twice she had taken her mother on expensive
journeys to Tollminster.
Brooding over the lack of confidence displayed by Selina, he sat on the
side of her bed one afternoon glancing thoughtfully round the room. He
was alone in the house, and now, or never, was his opportunity. After an
hour's arduous toil he had earned tenpence-halfpenny, and, rightly
considering that the sum was unworthy of the risk, put it back where he
had found it, and sat down gloomily to peruse a paper which he had found
secreted at the bottom of her box.
Mr. Vickers was but a poor scholar, and the handwriting was deplorable.
Undotted "i's"travelled incognito through the scrawl, and uncrossed "t's
"passed themselves off unblushingly as "l's." After half an hour's
steady work, his imagination excited by one or two words which he had
managed to decipher, he abandoned the task in despair, and stood moodily
looking out of the window. His gaze fell upon Mr. William Russell,
standing on the curb nearly opposite, with his hands thrust deep in his
trouser-pockets, and, after a slight hesitation, he pushed open the small
casement and beckoned him in.
"You're a bit of a scholar, ain't you, Bill?" he inquired.
Mr. Russell said modestly that he had got the name for it.
Again Mr. Vickers hesitated, but he had no choice, and his curiosity
would brook no delay. With a strong caution as to secrecy, he handed the
paper over to his friend.
Mr. Russell, his brow corrugated with thought, began to read slowly to
himself. The writing was certainly difficult, but the watching Mr.
Vickers saw by the way his friend's finger moved along the lines that he
was conquering it. By the slow but steady dilation of Mr. Russell's eyes
and the gradual opening of his mouth, he also saw that the contents were
occasioning him considerable surprise.
"What does it say? "he demanded, anxiously.
Mr. Russell paid no heed. He gave vent to a little gurgle of
astonishment and went on. Then he stopped and looked up blankly.
"Well, I'm d---d!" he said.
"What is it?" cried Mr. Vickers.
Mr. Russell read on, and such exclamations as "Well, I'm jiggered!"
"Well, I'm blest!" and others of a more complicated nature continued to
issue from his lips.
"What's it all about?" shouted the excited Mr. Vickers.
Mr. Russell looked up and blinked at him. "I can't believe it," he
murmured. "It's like a fairy tale, ain't it? What do you think of it?"
The exasperated Mr. Vickers, thrusting him back in his chair, shouted
insults in his ear until his friend, awaking to the true position of
affairs, turned to the beginning again and proceeded with much unction to
read aloud the document that Mr. Tredgold had given to Selina some months
before. Mr. Vickers listened in a state of amazement which surpassed his
friend's, and, the reading finished, besought him to go over it again.
Mr. Russell complied, and having got to the end put the paper down and
gazed enviously at his friend.
"You won't have to do no more work," he said, wistfully.
"Not if I 'ad my rights," said Mr. Vickers. "It's like a dream, ain't
"They bought a ship, so I 'eard," murmured the other;" they've got eight
or nine men aboard, and they'll be away pretty near a year. Why,
Selina'll 'ave a fortune."
Mr. Vickers, sitting with his legs stretched out stiffly before him,
tried to think. "A lot o' good it'll do me," he said, bitterly. "It's
young Joseph Tasker that'll get the benefit of it."
Mr. Russell whistled. "I'd forgot him," he exclaimed," but I expect she
only took him becos she couldn't get anybody else."
Mr. Vickers eyed him sternly, but, reflecting that Selina was well able
to fight her own battles, forbore to reply.
"She must ha' told him," pursued Mr. Russell, following up a train of
thought. "Nobody in their senses would want to marry Selina for anything
"Ho! indeed," said Mr. Vickers, coldly.
"Unless they was mad," admitted the other. "What are you going to do
about it?" he inquired, suddenly.
"I shall think it over," said Mr. Vickers, with dignity. "As soon as
you've gone I shall sit down with a quiet pipe and see what's best to be
Mr. Russell nodded approval. "First thing you do, you put the paper back
where you got it from," he said, warningly.
"I know what I'm about," said Mr. Vickers. "I shall think it over when
you're gone and make up my mind what to do."
"Don't you do nothing in a hurry," advised Mr. Russell, earnestly. "I'm
going to think it, over, too."
Mr. Vickers stared at him in surprise. "You?" he said, disagreeably.
"Yes, me," replied the other. "After all, what's looks? Looks ain't
His friend looked bewildered, and then started furiously as the meaning
of Mr. Russell's remark dawned upon him. He began to feel like a miser
beset by thieves.
"What age do you reckon you are, Bill?" he inquired, after a long pause.
"I'm as old as I look," replied Mr. Russell, simply," and I've got a
young face. I'd sooner it was anybody else than Selina; but, still, you
can't 'ave everything. If she don't take me sooner than young Joseph I
shall be surprised."
Mr. Vickers regarded him with undisguised astonishment.
"I might ha' married scores o' times if I'd liked," said Mr. Russell,
with a satisfied air.
"Don't you go doing nothing silly," said Mr. Vickers, uneasily. "Selina
can't abear you. You drink too much. Why, she's talking about making
young Joseph sign the pledge, to keep'im steady."
Mr. Russell waved his objections aside. "I can get round her," he said,
with cheery confidence. "I ain't kept ferrets all these years for
nothing. I'm not going to let all that money slip through my fingers for
want of a little trying."
He began his courtship a few days afterwards in a fashion which rendered
Mr. Vickers almost helpless with indignation. In full view of Selina,
who happened to be standing by the door, he brought her unfortunate
father along Mint Street, holding him by the arm and addressing him in
fond but severe tones on the surpassing merits of total abstinence and
the folly of wasting his children's money on beer.
"I found 'im inside the 'Horse and Groom,"' he said to the astonished
Selina;" they've got a new barmaid there, and the pore gal wasn't in the
house 'arf an hour afore she was serving him with beer. A pot, mind
[Illustration: "'I found 'im inside the Horse and Groom,' he said."]
He shook his head in great regret at the speechless Mr. Vickers, and,
pushing him inside the house, followed close behind.
"Look here, Bill Russell, I don't want any of your larks," said Miss
Vickers, recovering herself.
"Larks?" repeated Mr. Russell, with an injured air. "I'm a teetotaler,
and it's my duty to look after brothers that go astray."
He produced a pledge-card from his waistcoat-pocket and, smoothing it out
on the table, pointed with great pride to his signature. The date of the
document lay under the ban of his little finger.
"I'd just left the Temperance Hall," continued the zealot. "I've been to
three meetings in two days; they'd been talking about the new barmaid,
and I guessed at once what brother Vickers would do, an' I rushed off,
just in the middle of brother Humphrey's experiences--and very
interesting they was, too--to save him. He was just starting his second
pot, and singing in between, when I rushed in and took the beer away from
him and threw it on the floor."
"I wasn't singing," snarled Mr. Vickers, endeavouring to avoid his
"Oh, my dear friend!" said Mr. Russell, who had made extraordinary
progress in temperance rhetoric in a very limited time," that's what
comes o' the drink; it steals away your memory."
Miss Vickers trembled with wrath. "How dare you go into public-houses
after I told you not to?" she demanded, stamping her foot.
"We must 'ave patience," said Mr. Russell, gently. "We must show the
backslider 'ow much happier he would be without it. I'll 'elp you watch
"When I want your assistance I'll ask you for it," said Miss Vickers,
tartly. "What do you mean by shoving your nose into other people's
"It's--it's my duty to look after fallen brothers," said Mr. Russell,
somewhat taken aback.
"What d'ye mean by fallen?" snapped Miss Vickers, confronting him
"Fallen into a pub," explained Mr. Russell, hastily; "anybody might fall
through them swing-doors; they're made like that o' purpose."
"You've fell through a good many in your time," interposed Mr. Vickers,
with great bitterness.
"I know I 'ave," said the other, sadly; "but never no more. Oh, my
friend, if you only knew how 'appy I feel since I've give up the drink!
If you only knew what it was to 'ave your own self-respeck! Think of
standing up on the platform and giving of your experiences! But I don't
despair, brother; I'll have you afore I've done with you."
Mr. Vickers, unable to contain himself, got up and walked about the room.
Mr. Russell, with a smile charged with brotherly love, drew a blank
pledge-card from his pocket and, detaining him as he passed, besought him
to sign it.
"He'll do it in time," he said in a loud whisper to Selina, as his victim
broke loose. "I'll come in of an evening and talk to him till he does
Miss Vickers hesitated, but, observing the striking improvement in the
visitor's attire effected by temperance, allowed a curt refusal to remain
unspoken. Mr. Vickers protested hotly.
"That'll do," said his daughter, indecision vanishing at sight of her
father's opposition; "if Bill Russell likes to come in and try and do you
good, he can."
Mr. Vickers said that he wouldn't have him, but under compulsion stayed
indoors the following evening, while Mr. Russell, by means of coloured
diagrams, cheerfully lent by his new friends, tried to show him the
inroads made by drink upon the human frame. He sat, as Miss Vickers
remarked, like a wooden image, and was only moved to animation by a
picture of cirrhosis of the liver, which he described as being very
At the end of a week Mr. Vickers's principles remained unshaken, and so
far Mr. Russell had made not the slightest progress in his designs upon
the affections of Selina. That lady, indeed, treated him with but scant
courtesy, and on two occasions had left him to visit Mr. Tasker; Mr.
Vickers's undisguised amusement at such times being hard to bear.
"Don't give up, Bill," he said, encouragingly, as Mr. Russell sat glum
and silent; "read over them beautiful 'Verses to a Tea-pot' agin, and try
and read them as if you 'adn't got your mouth full o' fish-bait. You're
"I don't want none o' your talk," said his disappointed friend. "If you
ain't careful I'll tell Selina about you going up to her papers."
The smile faded from Mr. Vickers's face. "Don't make mischief, Bill," he
"Well, don't you try and make fun o' me," said Mr. Russell, ferociously.
"Taking the pledge is 'ard enough to bear without having remarks from
"I didn't mean them to be remarks, Bill," said the other, mildly. "But
if you tell about me, you know, Selina'll see through your little game."
"I'm about sick o' the whole thing," said Mr. Russell, desperately.
"I ain't 'ad a drink outside o' my own house for pretty near a fortnight.
I shall ask Selina to-morrow night, and settle it."
"Ask her?" said the amazed Mr. Vickers. "Ask 'er what?"