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Frontier Stories by Bret Harte

Part 8 out of 8

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a visit to some friends at the old Ranch. I didn't want to go. I like
it much better here."

"But you cannot bury yourself here forever, Miss Nott," said Renshaw,
with a sudden burst of honest enthusiasm. "Sooner or later you will be
forced to go where you will be properly appreciated, where you will be
admired and courted, where your slightest wish will be law. Believe me,
without flattery, you don't know your own power."

"It doesn't seem strong enough to keep even the little I like here,"
said Rosey, with a slight glistening of the eyes. "But," she added
hastily, "you don't know how much the dear old ship is to me. It's the
only home I think I ever had."

"But the Ranch?" said Renshaw.

"The Ranch seemed to be only the old wagon halted in the road. It was a
very little improvement on out-doors," said Rosey, with a little
shiver. "But this is so cosy and snug, and yet so strange and foreign.
Do you know I think I began to understand why I like it so since you
taught me so much about ships and voyages. Before that I only learned
from books. Books deceive you, I think, more than people do. Don't you
think so?"

She evidently did not notice the quick flush that covered his cheeks
and apparently dazzled his troubled eyelids, for she went on

"I was thinking of you yesterday. I was sitting by the galley door,
looking forward. You remember the first day I saw you when you startled
me by coming up out of the hatch?"

"I wish you wouldn't think of that," said Renshaw, with more
earnestness than he would have made apparent.

"_I_ don't want to, either," said Rosey, gravely, "for I've had a
strange fancy about it. I saw once, when I was younger, a picture in a
print shop in Montgomery Street that haunted me. I think it was called
'The Pirate.' There were a number of wicked-looking sailors lying
around the deck, and coming out of the hatch was one figure, with his
hands on the deck and a cutlass in his mouth."

"Thank you," said Renshaw.

"You don't understand. He was horrid-looking, not at all like you. I
never thought of _him_ when I first saw you; but the other day I
thought how dreadful it would have been if some one like him and not
like you had come up then. That made me nervous sometimes of being
alone. I think father is too. He often goes about stealthily at night,
as if he was watching for something."

Renshaw's face grew suddenly dark. Could it be possible that Sleight
had always suspected him, and set spies to watch--or was he guilty of
some double intrigue?

"He thinks," continued Rosey, with a faint smile, "that some one is
looking round the ship, and talks of setting bear-traps. I hope you're
not mad, Mr. Renshaw," she added, suddenly catching sight of his
changed expression, "at my foolishness in saying you reminded me of the
pirate. I meant nothing."

"I know you're incapable of meaning anything but good to anybody, Miss
Nott, perhaps to me more than I deserve," said Renshaw, with a sudden
burst of feeling. "I wish--I wish--you would do _me_ a favor. _You_
asked me one just now." He had taken her hand. It seemed so like a mere
illustration of his earnestness, that she did not withdraw it. "Your
father tells you everything. If he has any offer to dispose of the
ship, will you write to me at once before anything is concluded?" He
winced a little--the sentence of Sleight, "What's the figure you and
she have settled upon?" flashed across his mind. He scarcely noticed
that Rosey had withdrawn her hand coldly.

"Perhaps you had better speak to father, as it is _his_ business.
Besides, I shall not be here. I shall be at the Ranch."

"But you said you didn't want to go?"

"I've changed my mind," said Rosey, listlessly. "I shall go to-night."

She rose as if to indicate that the interview was ended. With an
overpowering instinct that his whole future happiness depended upon his
next act, he made a step towards her, with eager outstretched hands.
But she slightly lifted her own with a warning gesture, "I hear father
coming--you will have a chance to talk _business_ with him," she said,
and vanished into her state-room.


The heavy tread of Abner Nott echoed in the passage. Confused and
embarrassed, Renshaw remained standing at the door that had closed upon
Rosey as her father entered the cabin. Providence, which always
fostered Mr. Nott's characteristic misconceptions, left that
perspicacious parent but one interpretation of the situation. Rosey had
evidently just informed Mr. Renshaw that she loved another!

"I was just saying good-by to Miss Nott," said Renshaw, hastily
regaining his composure with an effort. "I am going to Sacramento
to-night, and will not return. I"--

"In course, in course," interrupted Nott, soothingly; "that's wot you
say now, and that's wot you allow to do. That's wot they allus do."

"I mean," said Renshaw, reddening at what he conceived to be an
allusion to the absconding propensities of Nott's previous tenants,--"I
mean that you shall keep the advance to cover any loss you might suffer
through my giving up the rooms."

"Certingly," said Nott, laying his hand with a large sympathy on
Renshaw's shoulder; "but we'll drop that just now. We won't swap hosses
in the middle of the river. We'll square up accounts in your room," he
added, raising his voice that Rosey might overhear him, after a
preliminary wink at the young man. "Yes, sir, we'll just square up and
settle in there. Come along, Mr. Renshaw." Pushing him with paternal
gentleness from the cabin, with his hand still upon his shoulder, he
followed him into the passage. Half annoyed at his familiarity, yet not
altogether displeased by this illustration of Rosey's belief of his
preference, Renshaw wonderingly accompanied him. Nott closed the door,
and pushing the young man into a chair, deliberately seated himself at
the table opposite. "It's jist as well that Rosey reckons that you and
me is settlin' our accounts," he began, cunningly, "and mebbee it's
just ez well ez she should reckon you're goin' away."

"But I _am_ going," interrupted Renshaw, impatiently. "I leave

"Surely, surely," said Nott, gently, "that's wot you kalkilate to do;
that's just nat'ral in a young feller. That's about what I reckon _I'd_
hev done to her mother if anythin' like this hed ever cropped up, which
it didn't. Not but what Almiry Jane had young fellers enough round her,
but, 'cept ole Judge Peter, ez was lamed in the War of 1812, there
ain't no similarity ez I kin see," he added, musingly.

"I am afraid I can't see any similarity either, Mr. Nott," said
Renshaw, struggling between a dawning sense of some impending absurdity
and his growing passion for Rosey. "For Heaven's sake, speak out if
you've got anything to say."

Mr. Nott leaned forward and placed his large hand on the young man's
shoulder. "That's it. That's what I sed to myself when I seed how
things were pintin'. 'Speak out,' sez I, 'Abner! Speak out if you've
got anything to say. You kin trust this yer Mr. Renshaw. He ain't the
kind of man to creep into the bosom of a man's ship for pupposes of his
own. He ain't a man that would hunt round until he discovered a poor
man's treasure, and then try to rob'"--

"Stop!" said Renshaw, with a set face and darkening eyes. "_What_
treasure? _what_ man are you speaking of?"

"Why Rosey and Mr. Ferrers," returned Nott, simply.

Renshaw sank into his seat again. But the expression of relief which
here passed swiftly over his face gave way to one of uneasy interest as
Nott went on.

"P'r'aps it's a little high-falutin' talkin' of Rosey ez a treasure.
But, considerin', Mr. Renshaw, ez she's the only prop'ty I've kept by
me for seventeen years ez hez paid interest and increased in valoo, it
ain't sayin' too much to call her so. And ez Ferrers knows this, he
oughter been content with gougin' me in that horse-hair spec, without
goin' for Rosey. P'r'aps yer surprised at hearing me speak o' my own
flesh and blood ez if I was talkin' hoss-trade, but you and me is
bus'ness men, Mr. Renshaw, and we discusses ez such. We ain't goin' to
slosh round and slop over in po'try and sentiment," continued Nott,
with a tremulous voice, and a hand that slightly shook on Renshaw's
shoulder. "We ain't goin' to git up and sing, 'Thou 'st lamed to love
another thou 'st broken every vow we've parted from each other and my
bozom's lonely now oh is it well to sever such hearts as ourn forever
kin I forget thee never farewell farewell farewell.' Ye never happen'd
to hear Jim Baker sing that at the moosic hall on Dupont Street, Mr.
Renshaw," continued Mr. Nott, enthusiastically, when he had recovered
from that complete absence of punctuation which alone suggested verse
to his intellect. "He sorter struck water down here," indicating his
heart, "every time."

"But what has Miss Nott to do with M. de Ferrieres?" asked Renshaw,
with a faint smile.

Mr. Nott regarded him with, dumb, round, astonished eyes. "Hezn't she
told yer?"

"Certainly not."

"And she didn't let on anythin' about him?" he continued, feebly.

"She said she'd like to know where"--He stopped, with the reflection
that he was betraying her confidences.

A dim foreboding of some new form of deceit, to which even the man
before him was a consenting party, almost paralyzed Nott's faculties.
"Then she didn't tell yer that she and Ferrers was sparkin' and keepin'
kimpany together; that she and him was engaged, and was kalkilatin' to
run away to furrin parts; that she cottoned to him more than to the
ship or her father?"

"She certainly did not, and I shouldn't believe it," said Renshaw,

Nott smiled. He was amused; he astutely recognized the usual
trustfulness of love and youth. There was clearly no deceit here!
Renshaw's attentive eyes saw the smile, and his brow darkened.

"I like to hear yer say that, Mr. Renshaw," said Nott, "and it's no
more than Rosey deserves, ez it's suthing onnat'ral and spell-like
that's come over her through Ferrers. It ain't my Rosey. But it's
Gospel truth, whether she's bewitched or not; whether it's them damn
fool stories she reads--and it's like ez not he's just the kind o'
snipe to write 'em hisself, and sorter advertise hisself, don't yer
see--she's allus stuck up for Lim. They've had clandesent interviews,
and when I taxed him with it he ez much ez allowed it was so, and
reckoned he must leave, so ez he could run her off, you know--kinder
stampede her with 'honor.' Them's his very words."

"But that is all past; he is gone, and Miss Nott does not even know
where he is!" said Renshaw, with a laugh, which, however, concealed a
vague uneasiness.

Mr. Nott rose and opened the door carefully. When he had satisfied
himself that no one was listening, he came back and said in a whisper,
"That's a lie. Not ez Rosey means to lie, but it's a trick he's put
upon that poor child. That man, Mr. Renshaw, hez been hangin' round the
Pontiac ever since. I've seed him twice with my own eyes pass the cabin
windys. More than that, I've heard strange noises at night, and seen
strange faces in the alley over yer. And only jist now ez I kem in I
ketched sight of a furrin-lookin' Chinee nigger slinking round the back
door of what useter be Ferrers' loft."

"Did he look like a sailor?" asked Renshaw quickly, with a return of
his former suspicion.

"Not more than I do," said Nott, glancing complacently at his
pea-jacket. "He had rings on his yeers like a wench."

Mr. Renshaw started. But seeing Nott's eyes fixed on him, he said
lightly, "But what have these strange faces and this strange
man--probably only a Lascar sailor out of a job--to do with Ferrieres?"

"Friends o' his--feller furrin citizens--spies on Rosey, don't you see?
But they can't play the old man, Mr. Renshaw. I've told Rosey she must
make a visit to the old Ranch. Once I've got her thar safe, I reckon I
kin manage Mr. Ferrers and any number of Chinee niggers he kin bring

Renshaw remained for a few moments lost in thought. Then rising
suddenly, he grasped Mr. Nott's hand with a frank smile but determined
eyes. "I haven't got the hang of this, Mr. Nott--the whole thing gets
me! I only know that I've changed my mind. I'm _not_ going to
Sacramento. I shall stay _here_, old man, until I see you safe through
the business, or my name's not Dick Renshaw. There's my hand on it!
Don't say a word. Maybe it is no more than I ought to do--perhaps not
half enough. Only remember, not a word of this to your daughter. She
must believe that I leave to-night. And the sooner you get her out of
this cursed ship the better."

"Deacon Flint's girls are goin' up in to-night's boat. I'll send Rosey
with them," said Nott, with a cunning twinkle. Renshaw nodded. Nott
seized his hand with a wink of unutterable significance.

Left to himself, Renshaw tried to review more calmly the circumstances
in these strange revelations that had impelled him to change his
resolution so suddenly. That the ship was under the surveillance of
unknown parties, and that the description of them tallied with his own
knowledge of a certain Lascar sailor, who was one of Sleight's
informants--seemed to be more than probable. That this seemed to point
to Sleight's disloyalty to himself while he was acting as his agent, or
a double treachery on the part of Sleight's informants, was in either
case a reason and an excuse for his own interference. But the
connection of the absurd Frenchman with the case, which at first seemed
a characteristic imbecility of his landlord, bewildered him the more he
thought of it. Rejecting any hypothesis of the girl's affection for the
antiquated figure whose sanity was a question of public criticism, he
was forced to the equally alarming theory that Ferrieres was cognizant
of the treasure, and that his attentions to Rosey were to gain
possession of it by marrying her. Might she not be dazzled by a picture
of this wealth? Was it not possible that she was already in part
possession of the secret, and her strange attraction to the ship, and
what he had deemed her innocent craving for information concerning it,
a consequence? Why had he not thought of this before? Perhaps she had
detected his purpose from the first, and had deliberately checkmated
him. The thought did not increase his complacency as Nott softly

"It's all right," he began with a certain satisfaction in this rare
opportunity for Machiavellian diplomacy, "it's all fixed now. Rosey
tumbled to it at once, partiklerly when I said you was bound to go.
'But wot makes Mr. Renshaw go, father,' sez she; 'wot makes everybody
run away from the ship?' sez she, rather peart-like and sassy for her.
'Mr. Renshaw hez contractin' business,' sez I; 'got a big thing up in
Sacramento that'll make his fortun','sez I--for I wasn't goin' to give
yer away, don't ye see?' He had some business to talk to you about the
ship,' sez she, lookin' at me under the corner of her
pocket-handkerchief. 'Lots o' business,' sez I. 'Then I reckon he don't
care to hev me write to him,' sez she. 'Not a bit,' sez I; 'he wouldn't
answer ye if ye did. Ye'll never hear from that chap agin.'"

"But what the devil"--interrupted the young man impetuously.

"Keep yer hair on!" remonstrated the old man with dark intelligence.
"Ef you'd seen the way she flounced into her state-room!--she, Rosey,
ez allus moves ez softly ez a spirit--you'd hev wished I'd hev unloaded
a little more. No sir, gals is gals in some things all the time."

Renshaw rose and paced the room rapidly. "Perhaps I'd better speak to
her again before she goes," he said, impulsively.

"P'r'aps you'd better not," replied the imperturbable Nott.

Irritated as he was, Renshaw could not avoid the reflection that the
old man was right. What, indeed, could he say to her with his present
imperfect knowledge? How could she write to him if that knowledge was

"Ef," said Nott, kindly, with a laying on of large benedictory and
paternal hands, "ef ye're willin' to see Rosey agin, without _speakin_?
to her, I reckon I ken fix it for yer. I'm goin' to take her down to
the boat in half an hour. Ef yer should happen--mind, ef yer should
_happen_ to be down there, seein' some friends off and sorter
promenadin' up and down the wharf like them high-toned chaps on
Montgomery Street--ye might ketch her eye unconscious like. Or, ye
might do this!" He rose after a moment's cogitation and with a face of
profound mystery opened the door and beckoned Renshaw to follow him.
Leading the way cautiously, he brought the young man into an open
unpartitioned recess beside her state-room. It seemed to be used as a
store-room, and Renshaw's eye was caught by a trunk the size and shape
of the one that had provided Rosey with the materials of her
masquerade. Pointing to it, Mr. Nott said in a grave whisper: "This yer
trunk is the companion trunk to Rosey's. _She's_ got the things them
opery women wears; this yer contains the _he_ things, the duds and
fixins o' the men o' the same stripe." Throwing it open he continued:
"Now, Mr, Renshaw, gals is gals; it's nat'ral they should be took by
fancy dress and store clothes on young chaps as on theirselves. That
man Ferrers hez got the dead wood on all of ye in this sort of thing,
and hez been playing, so to speak, a lone hand all along. And ef thar's
anythin' in thar," he added, lifting part of a theatrical wardrobe,
"that you think you'd fancy--anythin' you'd like to put on when ye
promenade the wharf down yonder--it's yours. Don't ye be bashful, but
help yourself."

It was fully a minute before Renshaw fairly grasped the old man's
meaning. But when he did--when the suggested spectacle of himself
arrayed _a la_ Ferrieres, gravely promenading the wharf as a last
gorgeous appeal to the affections of Rosey, rose before his fancy, he
gave way to a fit of genuine laughter. The nervous tension of the past
few hours relaxed; he laughed until the tears came into his eyes; he
was still laughing when the door of the cabin suddenly opened and Rosey
appeared cold and distant on the threshold.

"I--beg your pardon," stammered Renshaw hastily. "I didn't mean--to
disturb you--I"--

Without looking at him Rosey turned to her father. "I am ready," she
said coldly, and closed the door again.

A glance of artful intelligence came into Nott's eyes, which had
remained blankly staring at Renshaw's apparently causeless hilarity.
Turning to him he winked solemnly. "That keerless kind o' hoss-laff
jist fetched her," he whispered, and vanished before his chagrined
companion could reply.

When Mr. Nott and his daughter departed, Renshaw was not in the ship,
neither did he make a spectacular appearance on the wharf as Mr. Nott
had fondly expected, nor did he turn up again until after nine o'clock,
when he found the old man in the cabin awaiting his return with some
agitation. "A minit ago," he said, mysteriously closing the door behind
Renshaw, "I heard a voice in the passage, and goin' out, who should I
see agin but that darned furrin nigger ez I told yer 'bout, kinder
hidin' in the dark, his eyes shinin' like a catamount. I was jist
reachin' for my weppins when he riz up with a grin and handed me this
yer letter. I told him I reckoned you'd gone to Sacramento, but he said
he wez sure you was in your room, and to prove it I went thar. But when
I kem back the d----d skunk had vamosed--got frightened I reckon--and
wasn't nowhar to be seen."

Renshaw took the letter hastily. It contained only a line in Sleight's
hand. "If you change your mind, the bearer may be of service to you."

He turned abruptly to Nott. "You say it was the same Lascar you saw

"It was."

"Then all I can say is, he is no agent of De Ferrieres'," said Renshaw,
turning away with a disappointed air. Mr. Nott would have asked another
question, but with an abrupt "Good-night" the young man entered his
room, locked the door, and threw himself on his bed to reflect without

But if he was in no mood to stand Nott's fatuous conjectures, he was
less inclined to be satisfied with his own. Had he been again carried
away through his impulses evoked by the caprices of a pretty coquette
and the absurd theories of her half imbecile father? Had he broken
faith with Sleight and remained in the ship for nothing, and would not
his change of resolution appear to be the result of Sleight's note? But
why had the Lascar been haunting the ship before? In the midst of these
conjectures he fell asleep.


Between three and four in the morning the clouds broke over the
Pontiac, and the moon, riding high, picked out in black and silver the
long hulk that lay cradled between the iron shells and warehouses and
the wooden frames and tenements on either side. The galley and covered
gangway presented a mass of undefined shadow, against which the white
deck shone brightly, stretching to the forecastle and bows, where the
tiny glass roof of the photographer glistened like a gem in the
Pontiac's crest. So peaceful and motionless she lay that she might have
been some petrifaction of a past age now first exhumed and laid bare to
the cold light of the stars.

Nevertheless, this calm security was presently invaded by a sense of
stealthy life and motion. What had seemed a fixed shadow suddenly
detached itself from the deck and began to slip stanchion by stanchion
along the bulwarks toward the companion-way. At the cabin-door it
halted and crouched motionless. Then rising, it glided forward with the
same staccato movement until opposite the slight elevation of the
forehatch. Suddenly it darted to the hatch, unfastened and lifted it
with a swift, familiar dexterity, and disappeared in the opening. But
as the moon shone upon its vanishing face, it revealed the whitening
eyes and teeth of the Lascar seaman.

Dropping to the lower deck lightly, he felt his way through the dark
passage between the partitions, evidently less familiar to him, halting
before each door to listen.

Returning forward he reached the second hatchway that had attracted
Rosey's attention, and noiselessly unclosed its fastenings. A
penetrating smell of bilge arose from the opening. Drawing a small
bull's-eye lantern from his breast he lit it, and unhesitatingly let
himself down to the further depth. The moving flash of his light
revealed the recesses of the upper hold, the abyss of the well
amidships, and glanced from the shining backs of moving zigzags of rats
that seemed to outline the shadowy beams and transoms. Disregarding
those curious spectators of his movements, he turned his attention
eagerly to the inner casings of the hold, that seemed in one spot to
have been strengthened by fresh timbers. Attacking this stealthily with
the aid of some tools hidden in his oil-skin clothing, in the light of
the lantern he bore a fanciful resemblance to the predatory animals
around him. The low continuous sound of rasping and gnawing of timber
which followed heightened the resemblance. At the end of a few minutes
he had succeeded in removing enough of the outer planking to show that
the entire filling of the casing between the stanchions was composed of
small boxes. Dragging out one of them with feverish eagerness to the
light, the Lascar forced it open. In the rays of the bull's-eye, a
wedged mass of discolored coins showed with a lurid glow. The story of
the Pontiac was true--the treasure was there!

But Mr. Sleight had overlooked the logical effect of this discovery on
the natural villainy of his tool. In the very moment of his triumphant
execution of his patron's suggestions the idea of keeping the treasure
to himself flashed upon his mind. _He_ had discovered it--why should he
give it up to anybody? _He_ had run all the risks; if he were detected
at that moment, who would believe that his purpose there at midnight
was only to satisfy some one else that the treasure was still intact?
No. The circumstances were propitious; he would get the treasure out of
the ship at once, drop it over her side, hastily conceal it in the
nearest lot adjacent, and take it away at his convenience. Who would be
the wiser for it?

But it was necessary to reconnoiter first. He knew that the loft
overhead was empty. He knew that it communicated with the alley, for he
had tried the door that morning. He would convey the treasure there and
drop it into the alley. The boxes were heavy. Each one would require a
separate journey to the ship's side, but he would at least secure
something if he were interrupted, He stripped the casing, and gathered
the boxes together in a pile.

Ah, yes, it was funny too that he--the Lascar hound--the d----d
nigger--should get what bigger and bullier men than he had died for!
The mate's blood was on those boxes, if the salt water had not washed
it out. It was a hell of a fight when they dragged the captain--Oh,
what was that? Was it the splash of a rat in the bilge, or what?

A superstitious terror had begun to seize him at the thought of blood.
The stifling hold seemed again filled with struggling figures he had
known, the air thick with cries and blasphemies that he had forgotten.
He rose to his feet, and running quickly to the hatchway, leaped to the
deck above. All was quiet. The door leading to the empty loft yielded
to his touch. He entered, and, gliding through, unbarred and opened the
door that gave upon the alley. The cold air and moonlight flowed in
silently; the way of escape was clear. Bah! He would go back for the

He had reached the passage when the door he had just opened was
suddenly darkened. Turning rapidly, he was conscious of a gaunt figure,
grotesque, silent, and erect, looming on the threshold between him and
the sky. Hidden in the shadow, he made a stealthy step towards it, with
an iron wrench in his uplifted hand. But the next moment his eyes
dilated with superstitious horror; the iron fell from his hand, and
with a scream, like a frightened animal, he turned and fled into the
passage. In the first access of his blind terror he tried to reach the
deck above through the forehatch, but was stopped by the sound of a
heavy tread overhead. The immediate fear of detection now overcame his
superstition; he would have even faced the apparition again to escape
through the loft; but, before he could return there, other footsteps
approached rapidly from the end of the passage he would have to
traverse. There was but one chance of escape left now--the forehold he
had just quitted. He might hide there until the alarm was over. He
glided back to the hatch, lifted it, and closed it softly over his head
as the upper hatch was simultaneously raised, and the small round eyes
of Abner Nott peered down upon it. The other footsteps proved to be
Renshaw's, but, attracted by the open door of the loft, he turned aside
and entered. As soon as he disappeared Mr. Nott cautiously dropped
through the opening to the deck below, and, going to the other hatch
through which the Lascar had vanished, deliberately refastened it. In a
few moments Renshaw returned with a light, and found the old man
sitting on the hatch.

"The loft-door was open," said Renshaw. "There's little doubt whoever
was here escaped that way."

"Surely," said Nott. There was a peculiar look of Machiavellian
sagacity in his face which irritated Renshaw.

"Then you're sure it was Ferriferes you saw pass by your window before
you called me?" he asked.

Nott nodded his head with an expression of infinite profundity.

"But you say he was going _from_ the ship. Then it could not have been
he who made the noise we heard down here."

"Mebbee no, and mebbee yes," returned Nott, cautiously.

"But if he was already concealed inside the ship, as that open door,
which you say you barred from the inside, would indicate, what the
devil did he want with this?" said Renshaw, producing the
monkey--wrench he had picked up.

Mr. Nott examined the tool carefully, and shook his head with momentous
significance. Nevertheless, his eyes wandered to the hatch on which he
was seated.

"Did you find anything disturbed _there_?" said Renshaw, following the
direction of his eye. "Was that hatch fastened as it is now?"

"It was," said Nott, calmly. "But ye wouldn't mind fetchin' me a hammer
and some o' them big nails from the locker, would yer, while I hang
round here just so ez to make sure against another attack."

Renshaw complied with his request; but as Nott proceeded to gravely
nail down the fastenings of the hatch, he turned impatiently away to
complete his examination of the ship. The doors of the other lofts and
their fastenings appeared secure and undisturbed. Yet it was undeniable
that a felonious entrance had been made, but by whom or for what
purpose, still remained uncertain. Even now, Renshaw found it difficult
to accept Nott's theory that De Ferrieres was the aggressor and Rosey
the object, nor could he justify his own suspicion that the Lascar had
obtained a surreptitious entrance under Sleight's directions. With a
feeling that if Rosey had been present he would have confessed all, and
demanded from her an equal confidence, he began to hate his feeble,
purposeless, and inefficient alliance with her father, who believed but
dared not tax his daughter with complicity in this outrage. What could
be done with a man whose only idea of action at such a moment was to
nail up an undisturbed entrance in his invaded house! He was so
preoccupied with these thoughts that when Nott rejoined him in the
cabin he scarcely heeded his presence, and was entirely oblivious of
the furtive looks which the old man from time to time cast upon his

"I reckon ye wouldn't mind," broke in Nott, suddenly, "ef I asked a
favor of ye, Mr. Renshaw. Mebbee ye'll allow it's askin' too much in
the matter of expense; mebbee ye'll allow it's askin' too much in the
matter o' time. But _I_ kalkilate to pay all the expense, and if you'd
let me know what yer vally yer time at, I reckon I could stand that.
What I'd be askin' is this. Would ye mind takin' a letter from me to
Rosey, and bringin' back an answer?"

Renshaw stared speechlessly at this absurd realization of his wish of a
moment before. "I don't think I understand you," he stammered.

"P'r'aps not," returned Nott, with great gravity. "But that's not so
much matter to you ez your time and expenses."

"I meant I should be glad to go if I can be of any service to you,"
said Renshaw, hastily.

"You kin ketch the seven-o'clock boat this morning, and you'll reach
San Rafael at ten"--

"But I thought Miss Rosey went to Petaluma," interrupted Renshaw

Nott regarded him with an expression of patronizing superiority.
"That's what we ladled out to the public gin'rally, and to Ferrers and
his gang in partickler. We _said_ Petalumey, but if you go to Madrono
Cottage, San Rafael, you'll find Rosey thar."

If Mr. Renshaw required anything more to convince him of the necessity
of coming to some understanding with Rosey at once it would have been
this last evidence of her father's utterly dark and supremely
inscrutable designs. He assented quickly, and Nott handed him a note.

"Ye'll be partickler to give this inter her own hands, and wait for an
answer," said Nott gravely.

Resisting the proposition to enter then and there into an elaborate
calculation of the value of his time and the expenses of the trip,
Renshaw found himself at seven o'clock on the San Rafael boat. Brief as
was the journey it gave him time to reflect upon his coming interview
with Rosey. He had resolved to begin by confessing all; the attempt of
last night had released him from any sense of duty to Sleight. Besides,
he did not doubt that Nott's letter contained some reference to this
affair only known to Nott's dark and tortuous intelligence.


Madrono Cottage lay at the entrance of a little _canada_ already green
with the early winter rains, and nestled in a thicket of the harlequin
painted trees that gave it a name. The young man was a little relieved
to find that Rosey had gone to the post-office a mile away, and that he
would probably overtake her or meet her returning--alone. The
road--little more than a trail--wound along the crest of the hill
looking across the _canada_ to the long, dark, heavily-wooded flank of
Mount Tamalpais that rose from the valley a dozen miles away. A
cessation of the warm rain, a rift in the sky, and the rare spectacle
of cloud scenery, combined with a certain sense of freedom, restored
that light-hearted gayety that became him most. At a sudden turn of the
road he caught sight of Rosey's figure coming towards him, and
quickened his step with the impulsiveness of a boy. But she suddenly
disappeared, and when he again saw her she was on the other side of the
trail apparently picking the leaves of a manzanita. She had already
seen him.

Somehow the frankness of his greeting was checked. She looked up at him
with cheeks that retained enough of their color to suggest why she had
hesitated, and said, "_You_ here, Mr. Renshaw? I thought you were in

"And I thought _you_ were in Petaluma," he retorted gayly. "I have a
letter from your father. The fact is, one of those gentlemen who has
been haunting the ship actually made an entry last night. Who he was,
and what he came for, nobody knows. Perhaps your father gives you his
suspicions." He could not help looking at her narrowly as he handed her
the note. Except that her pretty eyebrows were slightly raised in
curiosity she seemed undisturbed as she opened the letter. Presently
she raised her eyes to his.

"Is this all father gave you?"


"You're sure you haven't dropped anything?"

"Nothing. I have given you all he gave me."

"And that is all it is." She exhibited the missive, a perfectly blank
sheet of paper folded like a note!

Renshaw felt the angry blood glow in his cheeks. "This is unpardonable!
I assure you, Miss Nott, there must be some mistake. He himself has
probably forgotten the inclosure," he continued, yet with an inward
conviction that the act was perfectly premeditated on the part of the
old man.

The young girl held out her hand frankly. "Don't think any more of it,
Mr. Renshaw. Father is forgetful at times. But tell me about last

In a few words Mr. Renshaw briefly but plainly related the details of
the attempt upon the Pontiac, from the moment that he had been awakened
by Nott, to his discovery of the unknown trespasser's flight by the
open door to the loft. When he had finished, he hesitated, and then
taking Rosey's hand, said impulsively, "You will not be angry with me
if I tell you all? Your father firmly believes that the attempt was
made by the old Frenchman, De Ferrieres, with a view of carrying you

A dozen reasons other than the one her father would have attributed it
to might have called the blood to her face. But only innocence could
have brought the look of astonished indignation to her eyes as she
answered quickly:

"So _that_ was what you were laughing at?"

"Not that, Miss Nott," said the young man eagerly; "though I wish to
God I could accuse myself of nothing more disloyal. Do not speak, I
beg," he added impatiently, as Rosey was about to reply. "I have no
right to hear you; I have no right to even stand in your presence until
I have confessed everything. I came to the Pontiac; I made your
acquaintance, Miss Nott, through a fraud as wicked as anything your
father charges to De Ferrieres. I am not a contractor. I never was an
honest lodger in the Pontiac. I was simply a spy."

"But you didn't mean to be--it was some mistake, wasn't it?" said
Rosey, quite white, but more from sympathy with the offender's emotion
than horror at the offense.

"I am afraid I did mean it. But bear with me for a few moments longer
and you shall know all. It's a long story. Will you walk on, and--take
my arm? You do not shrink from me, Miss Nott. Thank you. I scarcely
deserve the kindness."

Indeed so little did Rosey shrink that he was conscious of a slight
reassuring pressure on his arm as they moved forward, and for the
moment I fear the young man felt like exaggerating his offense for the
sake of proportionate sympathy. "Do you remember," he continued, "one
evening when I told you some sea tales, you said you always thought
there must be some story about the Pontiac? There _was_ a story of the
Pontiac, Miss Nott--a wicked story--a terrible story--which I might
have told you, which I _ought_ to have told you--which was the story
that brought me there. You were right, too, in saying that you thought
I had known the Pontiac before I stepped first on her deck that day. I

He laid his disengaged hand across lightly on Rosey's, as if to assure
himself that she was listening.

"I was at that time a sailor. I had been fool enough to run away from
college, thinking it a fine romantic thing to ship before the mast for
a voyage round the world. I was a little disappointed, perhaps, but I
made the best of it, and in two years I was the second mate of a whaler
lying in a little harbor of one of the uncivilized islands of the
Pacific. While we were at anchor there a French trading vessel put in,
apparently for water. She had the dregs of a mixed crew of Lascars and
Portuguese, who said they had lost the rest of their men by desertion,
and that the captain and mate had been carried off by fever. There was
something so queer in their story that our skipper took the law in his
own hands, and put me on board of her with a salvage crew. But that
night the French crew mutinied, cut the cables, and would have got to
sea if we had not been armed and prepared, and managed to drive them
below. When we had got them under hatches for a few hours they
parleyed, and offered to go quietly ashore. As we were short of hands
and unable to take them with us, and as we had no evidence against
them, we let them go, took the ship to Callao, turned her over to the
authorities, lodged a claim for salvage, and continued our voyage. When
we returned we found the truth of the story was known. She had been a
French trader from Marseilles, owned by her captain; her crew had
mutinied in the Pacific, killed their officers and the only
passenger--the owner of the cargo. They had made away with the cargo
and a treasure of nearly half a million of Spanish gold for trading
purposes which belonged to the passenger. In course of time the ship
was sold for salvage and put into the South American trade until the
breaking out of the Californian gold excitement, when she was sent with
a cargo to San Francisco. That ship was the Pontiac which your father

A slight shudder ran through the girl's frame. "I wish--I wish you
hadn't told me," she said. I shall never close my eyes again
comfortably on board of her, I know."

"I would say that you had purified her of _all_ stains of her past--but
there may be one that remains. And _that_ in most people's eyes would
be no detraction. You look puzzled, Miss Nott--but I am coming to the
explanation and the end of my story. A ship of war was sent to the
island to punish the mutineers and pirates, for such they were, but
they could not be found. A private expedition was sent to discover the
treasure which they were supposed to have buried, but in vain. About
two months ago Mr. Sleight told me one of his shipmasters had sent him
a Lascar sailor who had to dispose of a valuable secret regarding the
Pontiac for a percentage. That secret was that the treasure was never
taken by the mutineers out of the Pontiac! They were about to land and
bury it when we boarded them. They took advantage of their imprisonment
under hatches _to bury it in the ship_. They hid it in the hold so
securely and safely that it was never detected by us or the Callao
authorities. I was then asked, as one who knew the vessel, to undertake
a private examination of her, with a view of purchasing her from your
father without awakening his suspicions. I assented. You have my
confession now, Miss Nott. You know my crime. I am at your mercy."

Rosey's arm only tightened around his own. Her eyes sought his. "And
you didn't find anything?" she said.

The question sounded so oddly like Sleight's, that Renshaw returned a
little stiffly:

"I didn't look."

"Why?" asked Rosey simply.

"Because," stammered Renshaw, with an uneasy consciousness of having
exaggerated his sentiment, "it didn't seem honorable; it didn't seem
fair to you."

"Oh you silly! you might have looked and told _me_."

"But," said Renshaw, "do you think that would have been fair to

"As fair to him as to us. For, don't you see, it wouldn't belong to any
of us. It would belong to the friends or the family of the man who lost

"But there were no heirs," replied Renshaw. "That was proved by some
impostor who pretended to be his brother, and libelled the Pontiac at
Callao, but the courts decided he was a lunatic."

"Then it belongs to the poor pirates who risked their own lives for it,
rather than to Sleight, who did nothing." She was silent for a moment,
and then resumed with energy, "I believe he was at the bottom of that
attack last night."

"I have thought so too," said Renshaw.

"Then I must go back at once," she continued, impulsively. "Father must
not be left alone."

"Nor _must you_," said Renshaw, quickly. "Do let me return with you,
and share with you and your father the trouble I have brought upon you.
Do not," he added in a lower tone, "deprive me of the only chance of
expiating my offense, of making myself worthy your forgiveness."

"I am sure," said Rosey, lowering her lids and half withdrawing her
arm, "I am sure I have nothing to forgive. You did not believe the
treasure belonged to us any more than to anybody else, until you knew

"That is true," said the young man, attempting to take her hand.

"I mean," said Rosey, blushing, and showing a distracting row of little
teeth in one of her infrequent laughs, "oh, you know what I mean." She
withdrew her arm gently, and became interested in the selection of
certain wayside bay leaves as they passed along. "All the same, I don't
believe in this treasure," she said abruptly, as if to change the
subject. "I don't believe it ever was hidden inside the Pontiac."

"That can be easily ascertained now," said Renshaw.

"But it's a pity you didn't find it out while you were about it," said
Rosey. "It would have saved so much talk and trouble."

"I have told you why I didn't search the ship," responded Renshaw, with
a slight bitterness. "But it seems I could only avoid being a great
rascal by becoming a great fool."

"You never intended to be a rascal," said Rosey, earnestly, "and you
couldn't be a fool, except in heeding what a silly girl says. I only
meant if you had taken me into your confidence it would have been

"Might I not say the same to you regarding your friend, the old
Frenchman?" returned Renshaw. "What if I were to confess to you that I
lately suspected him of knowing the secret, and of trying to gain your

Instead of indignantly repudiating the suggestion, to the young man's
great discomfiture, Rosey only knit her pretty brows, and remained for
some moments silent. Presently she asked timidly:

"Do you think it wrong to tell another person's secret for their own

"No," said Renshaw, promptly.

"Then I'll tell you Monsieur de Ferrieres'! But only because I believe
from what you have just said that he will turn out to have some right
to the treasure."

Then with kindling eyes, and a voice eloquent with sympathy, Rosey told
the story of her accidental discovery of De Ferrieres' miserable
existence in the loft. Clothing it with the unconscious poetry of her
fresh, young imagination, she lightly passed over his antique gallantry
and grotesque weakness, exalting only his lonely sufferings and
mysterious wrongs. Renshaw listened, lost between shame for his late
suspicions and admiration for her thoughtful delicacy, until she began
to speak of De Ferrieres' strange allusions to the foreign papers in
his portmanteau. "I think some were law papers, and I am almost certain
I saw the word Callao printed on one of them."

"It may be so," said Renshaw, thoughtfully. "The old Frenchman has
always passed for a harmless, wandering eccentric. I hardly think
public curiosity has ever even sought to know his name, much less his
history. But had we not better first try to find if there _is_ any
property before we examine his claims to it?"

"As you please," said Rosey, with a slight pout; "but you will find it
much easier to discover him than his treasure. It's always easier to
find the thing you're not looking for."

"Until you want it," said Renshaw, with sudden gravity.

"How pretty it looks over there," said Rosey, turning her conscious
eyes to the opposite mountain.


They had reached the top of the hill, and in the near distance the
chimney of Madrono Cottage was even now visible. At the expected sight
they unconsciously stopped--unconsciously disappointed. Rosey broke the
embarrassing silence.

"There's another way home, but it's a roundabout way," she said

"Let us take it," said Renshaw.

She hesitated. "The boat goes at four, and we must return to-night."

"The more reason why we should make the most of our time now," said
Renshaw with a faint smile. "To-morrow all things may be changed;
to-morrow you may find yourself an heiress, Miss Nott. To-morrow," he
added, with a slight tremor in his voice, "I may have earned your
forgiveness, only to say farewell to you forever. Let me keep this
sunshine, this picture, this companionship with you long enough to say
now what perhaps I must not say to-morrow."

They were silent for a moment, and then by a common instinct turned
together into a narrow trail, scarce wide enough for two, that diverged
from the straight practical path before them. It was indeed a
roundabout way home, so roundabout, in fact, that as they wandered on
it seemed even to double on its track, occasionally lingering long and
becoming indistinct under the shadow of madrono and willow; at one time
stopping blindly before a fallen tree in the hollow, where they had
quite lost it, and had to sit down to recall it; a rough way, often
requiring the mutual help of each other's hands and eyes to tread
together in security; an uncertain way, not to be found Without
whispered consultation and concession, and yet a way eventually
bringing them hand in hand, happy and hopeful, to the gate of Madrono
Cottage. And if there was only just time for Rosey to prepare to take
the boat, it was due to the deviousness of the way. If a stray curl was
lying loose on Rosey's cheek, and a long hair had caught in Renshaw's
button, it was owing to the roughness of the way; and if in the tones
of their voices and in the glances of their eyes there was a maturer
seriousness, it was due to the dim uncertainty of the path they had
traveled, and would hereafter tread together.


When Mr. Nott had satisfied himself of Renshaw's departure, he coolly
bolted the door at the head of the companion-way, thus cutting off any
communication with the lower deck. Taking a long rifle from the rack
above his berth, he carefully examined the hammer and cap, and then
cautiously let himself down through the forehatch to the deck below.
After a deliberate survey of the still intact fastenings of the hatch
over the forehold, he proceeded quietly to unloose them again with the
aid of the tools that still lay there. When the hatch was once more
free he lifted it, and, withdrawing a few feet from the opening, sat
himself down, rifle in hand. A profound silence reigned throughout the
lower deck.

"Ye kin rize up out o' that," said Nott gently.

There was a stealthy rustle below that seemed to approach the hatch,
and then with a sudden bound the Lascar leaped on the deck. But at the
same instant Nott covered him with his rifle. A slight shade of
disappointment and surprise had crossed the old man's face, and clouded
his small round eyes at the apparition of the Lascar, but his hand was
none the less firm upon the trigger as the frightened prisoner sank on
his knees, with his hands clasped in the attitude of supplication for

"Ef you're thinkin' o' skippin' afore I've done with yer," said Nott
with labored gentleness, "I oughter warn ye that it's my style to drop
Injins at two hundred yards, and this deck ain't anywhere more 'n
fifty. It's an uncomfortable style, a nasty style--but it's _my_ style.
I thought I'd tell yer, so yer could take it easy where you air.
Where's Ferrers?"

Even in the man's insane terror, his utter bewilderment at the question
was evident. "Ferrers?" he gasped; "don't know him, I swear to God,

"P'r'aps," said Nott, with infinite cunning, "yer don't know the man ez
kem into the loft from the alley last night--p'r'aps yer didn't see an
airy Frenchman with a dyed mustache, eh? I thought that would fetch
ye!" he continued, as the man started at the evidence that his vision
of last night was a living man. "P'r'aps you and him didn't break into
this ship last night, jist to run off with my darter Rosey? P'r'aps yer
don't know Rosey, eh? P'r'aps yer don't know ez Ferrers wants to marry
her, and hez been hangin' round yer ever since he left--eh?"

Scarcely believing the evidence of his senses that the old man whose
treasure he had been trying to steal was utterly ignorant of his real
offense, and yet uncertain of the penalty of the other crime of which
he was accused, the Lascar writhed his body and stammered vaguely,
"Mercy! Mercy!"

"Well," said Nott, cautiously, "ez I reckon the hide of a dead Chinee
nigger ain't any more vallyble than that of a dead Injin, I don't care
ef I let up on yer--seein' the cussedness ain't yours. But ef I let yer
off this once, you must take a message to Ferrers from me."

"Let me off this time, boss, and I swear to God I will," said the
Lascar eagerly.

"Ye kin say to Ferrers--let me see"--deliberated Nott, leaning on his
rifle with cautious reflection. "Ye kin say to Ferrers like this--sez
you, 'Ferrers,' sez you, 'the old man sez that afore you went away you
sez to him, sez you, "I take my honor with me," sez you'--have you got
that?" interrupted Nott suddenly.

"Yes, boss."

"'I take my honor with me,' sez you," repeated Nott slowly. "'Now,' sez
you--'the old man sez, sez he--tell Ferrers, sez he, that his honor
havin' run away agin, he sends it back to him, and ef he ever ketches
it around after this, he'll shoot it on sight.' Hev yer got that?"

"Yes," stammered the bewildered captive.

"Then git!"

The Lascar sprang to his feet with the agility of a panther, leaped
through the hatch above him, and disappeared over the bow of the ship
with an unhesitating directness that showed that every avenue of escape
had been already contemplated by him. Slipping lightly from the
cutwater to the ground, he continued his flight, only stopping at the
private office of Mr. Sleight.

When Mr. Renshaw and Rosey Nott arrived on board the Pontiac that
evening, they were astonished to find the passage before the cabin
completely occupied with trunks and boxes, and the bulk of their
household goods apparently in the process of removal. Mr. Nott, who was
superintending the work of two Chinamen, betrayed not only no surprise
at the appearance of the young people, but not the remotest recognition
of their own bewilderment at his occupation.

"Kalkilatin'," he remarked casually to his daughter, "you'd rather look
arter your fixins, Rosey; I've left 'em till the last. P'r'aps yer and
Mr. Renshaw wouldn't mind sittin' down on that locker until I've
strapped this yer box."

"But what does it all mean, father?" said Rosey, taking the old man by
the lappels of his pea-jacket, and slightly emphasizing her question.
"What in the name of goodness are you doing?"

"Breakin' camp, Rosey dear, breakin' camp, jist ez we uster," replied
Nott with cheerful philosophy. "Kinder like ole times, ain't it? Lord,
Rosey," he continued, stopping and following up the reminiscence, with
the end of the rope in his hand as if it were a clue, "don't ye mind
that day we started outer Livermore Pass, and seed the hull o' the
Kaliforny coast stretchin' yonder--eh? But don't ye be skeered, Rosey
dear," he added quickly, as if in recognition of the alarm expressed in
her face. "I ain't turning ye outer house and home; I've jist hired
that 'ere Madrono Cottage from the Peters ontil we kin look round."

"But you're not leaving the ship, father," continued Rosey,
impetuously. "You haven't sold it to that man Sleight?"

Mr. Nott rose and carefully closed the cabin-door. Then drawing a large
wallet from his pocket, he said, "It's sing'lar ye should hev got the
name right the first pop, ain't it, Rosey? but it's Sleight, sure
enough, all the time. This yer check," he added, producing a paper from
the depths of the wallet, "this yer check for 25,000 dollars is wot he
paid for it only two hours ago."

"But," said Renshaw, springing to his feet furiously, "you're duped,

"Young man," said Nott, throwing a certain dignity into his habitual
gesture of placing his hands on Renshaw's shoulders, "I bought this yer
ship five years ago jist ez she stood for 8,000 dollars. Kalkilatin'
wot she cost me in repairs and taxes, and wot she brought me in since
then, accordin' to my figgerin', I don't call a clear profit of 15,000
dollars much of a swindle."

"Tell him all," said Rosey, quickly, more alarmed at Renshaw's
despairing face than at the news itself. "Tell him everything,
Dick--Mr. Renshaw; it may not be too late."

In a voice half choked with passionate indignation Renshaw hurriedly
repeated the story of the hidden treasure, and the plot to rescue it,
prompted frequently by Rosey's tenacious memory and assisted by her
deft and tactful explanations. But to their surprise the imperturbable
countenance of Abner Nott never altered; a slight moisture of kindly
paternal tolerance of their extravagance glistened in his little eyes,
but nothing more.

"Ef there was a part o' this ship, a plank or a bolt, ez I don't know,
ez I hevn't touched with my own hand, and looked into with my own eyes,
thar might be suthin' in that story. I don't let on to be a sailor like
_you_, but ez I know the ship ez a boy knows his first boss, as a woman
knows her first babby, I reckon thar ain't no treasure yer, onless it
was brought into the Pontiac last night by them chaps."

"But are you mad? Sleight would not pay three times the value of the
ship to-day if he were not positive! And that positive knowledge was
gained last night by the villain who broke into the Pontiac--no doubt
the Lascar."

"Surely," said Nott, meditatively. "The Lascar! There's suthin' in
that. That Lascar I fastened down in the hold last night unbeknownst to
you, Mr. Renshaw, and let him out again this morning ekally

"And you let him carry his information to Sleight--without a word!"
said Renshaw, with a sickening sense of Nott's utter fatuity.

"I sent him back with a message to the man he kem from," said Nott,
winking both his eyes at Renshaw significantly, and making signs behind
his daughter's back.

Rosey, conscious of her lover's irritation, and more eager to soothe
his impatience than from any faith in her suggestion, interfered. "Why
not examine the place where he was concealed? he may have left some
traces of his search."

The two men looked at each other. "Seein' ez I've turned the Pontiac
over to Sleight jist as it stands, I don't know ez it's 'zactly on the
square," said Nott doubtfully.

"You've a right to know at least _what_ you deliver to him,"
interrupted Renshaw, brusquely. "Bring a lantern."

Followed by Rosey, Renshaw and Nott hurriedly sought the lower deck and
the open hatch of the forehold. The two men leaped down first with the
lantern, and then assisted Rosey to descend. Renshaw took a step
forward and uttered a cry.

The rays of the lantern fell on the ship's side. The Lascar had, during
his forced seclusion, put back the boxes of treasure and replaced the
planking, yet not so carefully but that the quick eye of Renshaw had
discovered it. The next moment he had stripped away the planking again,
and the hurriedly restored box which the Lascar had found fell to the
deck, scattering part of its ringing contents. Rosey turned pale;
Renshaw's eyes flashed fire; only Abner Nott remained quiet and

"Are you satisfied you have been duped?" said Renshaw, passionately.

To their surprise Mr. Nott stooped down, and picking up one of the
coins handed it gravely to Renshaw. "Would ye mind heftin' that 'ere
coin in your hand--feelin' it, bitin' it, scrapin' it with a knife, and
kinder seem' how it compares with other coins?"

"What do you mean?" said Renshaw.

"I mean that that yer coin--that _all_ the coins in this yer box, that
all the coins in them other boxes--and thar's forty on 'em--is all and
every one of 'em counterfeits!"

The piece dropped unconsciously from Renshaw's hand, and striking
another that lay on the deck gave out a dull, suspicious ring.

"They waz counterfeits got up by them Dutch supercargo sharps for
dealin' with the Injins and cannibals and South Sea heathens ez bows
down to wood and stone. It satisfied them ez well ez them buttons ye
puts in missionary boxes, I reckon, and, 'cepting ez freight, don't
cost nothin'. I found 'em tucked in the ribs o' the old Pontiac when I
bought her, and I nailed 'em up in thar lest they should fall into
dishonest hands. It's a lucky thing, Mr. Renshaw, that they comes into
the honest fingers of a square man like Sleight--ain't it?"

He turned his small, guileless eyes upon Renshaw with such child-like
simplicity that it checked the hysterical laugh that was rising to the
young man's lips.

"But did any one know of this but yourself?"

"I reckon not. I once suspicioned that old Cap'en Bowers, who was
always foolin' round the hold yer, must hev noticed the bulge in the
casin', but when he took to axin' questions I axed others--ye know my
style, Rosey? Come."

He led the way grimly back to the cabin, the young people following;
but turning suddenly at the companion way he observed Renshaw's arm
around the waist of his daughter. He said nothing until they had
reached the cabin, when he closed the door softly, and looking at them
both gently, said with infinite cunning:

"Ef it is n't too late, Rosey, ye kin tell this young man ez how I
forgive him for havin' diskivered THE TREASURE of the Pontiac."

* * * * *

It was nearly eighteen months afterwards that Mr. Nott one morning
entered the room of his son-in-law at Mandrono Cottage. Drawing him
aside, he said with his old air of mystery, "Now ez Rosey's ailin' and
don't seem to be so eager to diskiver what's become of Mr. Ferrers, I
don't mind tellin' ye that over a year ago I heard he died suddenly in
Sacramento. Thar was suthin' in the paper about his bein' a lunatic and
claimin' to be a relation to somebody on the Pontiac; but likes ez not
it's only the way those newspaper fellows got hold of the story of his
wantin' to marry Rosey."

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