Etext scanned by Aaron Cannon of Paradise, California
MY BURIED TREASURE
by Richard Harding Davis
This is a true story of a search for buried treasure. The only
part that is not true is the name of the man with whom I searched
for the treasure. Unless I keep his name out of it he will not let
me write the story, and, as it was his expedition and as my share
of the treasure is only what I can make by writing the story, I
must write as he dictates. I think the story should be told,
because our experience was unique, and might be of benefit to
others. And, besides, I need the money.
There is, however, no agreement preventing me from describing him
as I think he is, or reporting, as accurately as I can, what he
said and did as he said and did it.
For purposes of identification I shall call him Edgar Powell. The
last name has no significance; but the first name is not chosen at
random. The leader of our expedition, the head and brains of it,
was and is the sort of man one would address as Edgar. No one would
think of calling him "Ed," or "Eddie," any more than he would
consider slapping him on the back.
We were together at college; but, as six hundred other boys were
there at the same time, that gives no clew to his identity. Since
those days, until he came to see me about the treasure, we had not
met. All I knew of him was that he had succeeded his father in
manufacturing unshrinkable flannels. Of course, the reader
understands that is not the article of commerce he manufactures;
but it is near enough, and it suggests the line of business to
which he gives his life's blood. It is not similar to my own line
of work, and in consequence, when he wrote me, on the unshrinkable
flannels official writing-paper, that he wished to see me in
reference to a matter of business of "mutual benefit," I was
A few days later, at nine in the morning, an hour of his own
choosing, he came to my rooms in New York City.
Except that he had grown a beard, he was as I remembered him, thin
and tall, but with no chest, and stooping shoulders. He wore
eye-glasses, and as of old through these he regarded you
disapprovingly and warily as though he suspected you might try to
borrow money, or even joke with him. As with Edgar I had never felt
any temptation to do either, this was irritating.
But from force of former habit we greeted each other by our first
names, and he suspiciously accepted a cigar. Then, after fixing me
both with his eyes and with his eye-glasses and swearing me to
secrecy, he began abruptly.
"Our mills," he said, "are in New Bedford; and I own several small
cottages there and in Fairhaven. I rent them out at a moderate
rate. The other day one of my tenants, a Portuguese sailor, was
taken suddenly ill and sent for me. He had made many voyages in and
out of Bedford to the South Seas, whaling, and he told me on his
last voyage he had touched at his former home at Teneriffe. There
his grandfather had given him a document that had been left him by
his father. His grandfather said it contained an important secret,
but one that was of value only in America, and that when he
returned to that continent he must be very careful to whom he
showed it. He told me it was written in a kind of English he could
not understand, and that he had been afraid to let any one see it.
He wanted me to accept the document in payment of the rent he owed
me, with the understanding that I was not to look at it, and that
if he got well I was to give it back. If he pulled through, he was
to pay me in some other way; but if he died I was to keep the
document. About a month ago he died, and I examined the paper. It
purports to tell where there is buried a pirate's treasure. And,"
added Edgar, gazing at me severely and as though he challenged me
to contradict him, I intend to dig for it!"
Had he told me he contemplated crossing the Rocky Mountains in a
Baby Wright, or leading a cotillon, I could not have been more
astonished. I am afraid I laughed aloud.
"You!" I exclaimed. "Search for buried treasure?"
My tone visibly annoyed him. Even the eye-glasses radiated
"I see nothing amusing in the idea," Edgar protested coldly. "It is
a plain business proposition. I find the outlay will be small, and
if I am successful the returns should be large; at a rough estimate
about one million dollars."
Even to-day, no true American, at the thought of one million
dollars, can remain covered. His letter to me had said, "for our
mutual benefit." I became respectful and polite, I might even say
abject. After all, the ties that bind us in those dear old college
days are not lightly to be disregarded.
"If I can be of any service to you, Edgar, old man," I assured him
heartily, "if I can help you find it, you know I shall be only too
happy." With regret I observed that my generous offer did not seem
to deeply move him.
"I came to you in this matter," he continued stiffly, "because you
seemed to be the sort of person who would be interested in a search
for buried treasure."
"I am," I exclaimed. "Always have been."
"Have you," he demanded searchingly, "any practical experience?"
I tried to appear at ease; but I knew then just how the man who
applies to look after your furnace feels, when you ask him if he
can also run a sixty horse-power dynamo.
"I have never actually FOUND any buried treasure," I admitted; "but
I know where lots of it is, and I know just how to go after it." I
endeavored to dazzle him with expert knowledge.
"Of course," I went on airily, "I am familiar with all the
expeditions that have tried for the one on Cocos Island, and I know
all about the Peruvian treasure on Trinidad, and the lost treasures
of Jalisco near Guadalajara, and the sunken galleon on the Grand
Cayman, and when I was on the Isle of Pines I had several very
tempting offers to search there. And the late Captain Boynton
"But," interrupted Edgar in a tone that would tolerate no trifling,
"you yourself have never financed or organized an expedition with
the object in view of----"
"Oh, that part's easy!" I assured him. "The fitting-out part you
can safely leave to me." I assumed a confidence that I hoped he
might believe was real. "There's always a tramp steamer in the Erie
Basin," I said, "that one can charter for any kind of adventure,
and I have the addresses of enough soldiers of fortune,
filibusters, and professional revolutionists to man a battle-ship,
all fine fellows in a tight corner. And I'll promise you they'll
follow us to hell, and back----"
"That!" exclaimed Edgar, "is exactly what I feared! "
"I beg your pardon!" I exclaimed.
"That's exactly what I DON'T want," said Edgar sternly. "I don't
INTEND to get into any tight corners. I don't WANT to go to hell!"
I saw that in my enthusiasm I had perhaps alarmed him. I continued
"Any expedition after treasure," I pointed out, "is never without
risk. You must have discipline, and you must have picked men.
Suppose there's a mutiny? Suppose they try to rob us of the
treasure on our way home? We must have men we can rely on, and men
who know how to pump a Winchester. I can get you both. And
Bannerman will furnish me with anything from a pair of leggins to
a quick firing gun, and on Clark Street they'll quote me a special
rate on ship stores, hydraulic pumps, divers' helmets----"
Edgar's eye-glasses became frosted with cold, condemnatory scorn.
He shook his head disgustedly.
"I was afraid of this!" he murmured.
I endeavored to reassure him.
"A little danger," I laughed, "only adds to the fun."
"I want you to understand," exclaimed Edgar indignantly, "there
isn't going to be any danger. There isn't going to be any fun. This
is a plain business proposition. I asked you those questions just
to test you. And you approached the matter exactly as I feared you
would. I was prepared for it. In fact," he explained shamefacedly,
"I've read several of your little stories, and I find they run to
adventure and blood and thunder; they are not of the analytical
school of fiction. Judging from them," he added accusingly, "you
have a tendency to the romantic." He spoke reluctantly as though
saying I had a tendency to epileptic fits or the morphine habit.
"I am afraid," I was forced to admit, "that to me pirates and
buried treasure always suggest adventure. And your criticism of my
writings is well observed. Others have discovered the same fatal
weakness. We cannot all," I pointed out, "manufacture unshrinkable
At this compliment to his more fortunate condition, Edgar seemed to
"I grant you," he said, "that the subject has almost invariably
been approached from the point of view you take. And what," he
demanded triumphantly, "has been the result? Failure, or at least,
before success was attained, a most unnecessary and regrettable
loss of blood and life. Now, on my expedition, I do not intend that
any blood shall be shed, or that anybody shall lose his life. I
have not entered into this matter hastily. I have taken out
information, and mean to benefit by other people's mistakes. When
I decided to go on with this," he explained, "I read all the books
that bear on searches for buried treasure, and I found that in each
case the same mistakes were made, and that then, in order to remedy
the mistakes, it was invariably necessary to kill somebody. Now, by
not making those mistakes, it will not be necessary for me to kill
any one, and nobody is going to have a chance to kill me.
"You propose that we fit out a schooner and sign on a crew. What
will happen? A man with a sabre cut across his forehead, or with a
black patch over one eye, will inevitably be one of that crew. And,
as soon as we sail, he will at once begin to plot against us. A
cabin boy who the conspirators think is asleep in his bunk will
overhear their plot and will run to the quarter-deck to give
warning; but a pistol shot rings out, and the cabin boy falls at
the foot of the companion ladder. The cabin boy is always the first
one to go. After that the mutineers kill the first mate, and lock
us in our cabin, and take over the ship. They will then broach a
cask of rum, and all through the night we will listen to their
drunken howlings, and from the cabin airport watch the body of the
first mate rolling in the lee scuppers."
"But you forget," I protested eagerly, "there is always ONE
faithful member of the crew, who----"
Edgar interrupted me impatiently.
"I have not overlooked him," he said. "He is a Jamaica negro of
gigantic proportions, or the ship's cook; but he always gets his
too, and he gets it good. They throw HIM to the sharks! Then we all
camp out on a desert island inhabited only by goats, and we build
a stockade, and the mutineers come to treat with us under a white
flag, and we, trusting entirely to their honor, are fools enough to
go out and talk with them. At which they shoot us up, and withdraw
laughing scornfully." Edgar fixed his eye-glasses upon me
"Am I right, or am I wrong?" he demanded. I was unable to answer.
"The only man," continued Edgar warmly who ever showed the
slightest intelligence in the matter was the fellow in the 'Gold
Bug. HE kept his mouth shut. He never let any one know that he was
after buried treasure, until he found it. That's me! Now I know
EXACTLY where this treasure is, and----"
I suppose, involuntarily, I must have given a start of interest;
for Edgar paused and shook his head, slyly and cunningly. "And if
you think I have the map on my person now," he declared in triumph,
"you'll have to guess again!"
"Really," I protested, "I had no intention----"
"Not you, perhaps," said Edgar grudgingly; "but your Japanese valet
conceals himself behind those curtains, follows me home, and at
"I haven't got a valet," I objected.
Edgar merely smiled with the most aggravating self- sufficiency.
"It makes no difference," he declared. "NO ONE will ever find that
map, or see that map, or know where that treasure is, until I point
to the spot."
"Your caution is admirable," I said; "but what," I jeered, "makes
you think you can point to the spot, because your map says
something like, 'Through the Sunken Valley to Witch's Caldron, four
points N. by N. E. to Gallows Hill where the shadow falls at
sunrise, fifty fathoms west, fifty paces north as the crow flies,
to the Seven Wells'? How the deuce," I demanded, "is any one going
to point to that spot?"
"It isn't that kind of map," shouted Edgar triumphantly. " If it
had been, I wouldn't have gone on with it. It's a map anybody can
read except a half-caste Portuguese sailor. It's as plain as a
laundry bill. It says," he paused apprehensively, and then
continued with caution, "it says at such and such a place there is
a something. So many somethings from that something are three
what-you-may-call- 'ems, and in the centre of these three
what-you-may-call-'ems is buried the treasure. It's as plain as
"Even with the few details you have let escape you," I said, "I
could find THAT spot in my sleep."
"I don't think you could," said Edgar uncomfortably; but I could
see that he had mentally warned himself to be less communicative.
"And," he went on, "I am willing to lead you to it, if you
subscribe to certain conditions."
Edgar's insulting caution had ruffled my spirit.
"Why do you think you can trust ME?" I asked haughtily. And then,
remembering my share of the million dollars, I added in haste, "I
accept the conditions."
"Of course, as you say, one has got to take SOME risk," Edgar
continued; "but I feel sure," he said, regarding me doubtfully,
"you would not stoop to open robbery." I thanked him.
"Well, until one is tempted," said Edgar, "one never knows WHAT he
might do. And I've simply GOT to have one other man, and I picked
on you because I thought you could write about it."
"I see," I said, "I am to act as the historian of the expedition."
"That will be arranged later," said Edgar. "What I chiefly want you
for is to dig. Can you dig?" he asked eagerly. I told him I could;
but that I would rather do almost anything else.
"I MUST have one other man," repeated Edgar, "a man who is strong
enough to dig, and strong enough to resist the temptation to murder
me." The retort was so easy that I let it pass. Besides, on Edgar,
it would have been wasted.
"I THINK you will do," he said with reluctance. "And now the
I smiled agreeably.
"You are already sworn to secrecy," said Edgar. "And you now agree
in every detail to obey me implicitly, and to accompany me to a
certain place, where you will dig. If I find the treasure, you
agree, to help me guard it, and convey it to wherever I decide it
is safe to leave it. Your responsibility is then at an end. One
year after the treasure is discovered, you will be free to write
the account of the expedition. For what you write, some magazine
may pay you. What it pays you will be your share of the treasure."
Of my part of the million dollars, which I had hastily calculated
could not be less than one-fifth, I had already spent over one
hundred thousand dollars and was living far beyond my means. I had
bought a farm with a waterfront on the Sound, a motor-boat, and, as
I was not sure which make I preferred, three automobiles. I had at
my own, expense produced a play of mine that no manager had
appreciated, and its name in electric lights was already blinding
Broadway. I had purchased a Hollander express rifle, a REAL amber
cigar holder, a private secretary who could play both rag-time and
tennis, and a fur coat. So Edgar's generous offer left me naked.
When I had again accustomed myself to the narrow confines of my
flat, and the jolt of the surface cars, I asked humbly:
"Is that ALL I get?"
"Why should you expect any more?" demanded Edgar. "It isn't YOUR
treasure. You wouldn't expect me to make you a present of an
interest in my mills; why should you get a share of my treasure?"
He gazed at me reproachfully. "I thought you'd be pleased," he
said. " It must be hard to think of things to write about, and I'm
giving you a subject for nothing. I thought," he remonstrated,
"you'd jump at the chance. It isn't every day a man can dig for
"That's all right," I said. "Perhaps I appreciate that quite as
well as you do. But my time has a certain small value, and I can't
leave my work just for excitement. We may be weeks, months---- How
long do you think we----"
Behind his eye-glasses Edgar winked reprovingly.
"That is a leading question," he said. "I will pay all your
legitimate expenses--transportation, food, lodging. It won't cost
you a cent. And you write the story--with my name left out," he
added hastily; "it would hurt my standing in the trade," he
explained-- "and get paid for it."
I saw a sea voyage at Edgar's expense. I saw palm leaves, coral
reefs. I felt my muscles aching and the sweat run from my neck and
shoulders as I drove my pick into the chest of gold.
"I'll go with you!" I said. We shook hands on it. "When do we
start?" I asked.
"Now!" said Edgar. I thought he wished to test me; he had touched
upon one of my pet vanities.
"You can't do that with me!" I said. "My bags are packed and ready
for any place in the wide world, except the cold places. I can
start this minute. Where is it, the Gold Coast, the Ivory Coast,
the Spanish Main----"
Edgar frowned inscrutably. "Have you an empty suit-case?" he asked.
"Why EMPTY?" I demanded.
"To carry the treasure," said Edgar. "I left mine in the hall. We
will need two."
"And your trunks?" I said.
"There aren't going to be any trunks," said Edgar. From his pocket
he had taken a folder of the New Jersey Central Railroad. "If we
hurry," he exclaimed, " we can catch the ten-thirty express, and
return to New York in time for dinner."
"And what about the treasure?" I roared.
"We'll' bring it with us," said Edgar.
I asked for information. I demanded confidences. Edgar refused
both. I insisted that I might be allowed at least to carry my
automatic pistol. "Suppose some one tries to take the treasure from
us?" I pointed out.
"No one," said Edgar severely, "would be such an ass as to imagine
we are carrying buried treasure in a suit-case. He will think it
"For local color, then," I begged, "I want to say in my story that
I went heavily armed."
"Say it, then," snapped Edgar. "But you can't DO it! Not with me,
you can't! How do I know you mightn't----" He shook his head
It was a day in early October, the haze of Indian summer was in the
air, and as we crossed the North River by the Twenty- third Street
Ferry the sun flashed upon the white clouds overhead and the
tumbling waters below. On each side of us great vessels with the
Blue Peter at the fore lay at the wharfs ready to cast off, or were
already nosing their way down the channel toward strange and
beautiful ports. Lamport and Holt were rolling down to Rio; the
Royal Mail's MAGDALENA, no longer "white and gold," was off to
Kingston, where once seven pirates swung in chains; the CLYDE was
on her way to Hayti where the buccaneers came from; the MORRO
CASTLE was bound for Havana, which Morgan, king of all the pirates,
had once made his own; and the RED D was steaming to Porto Cabello
where Sir Francis Drake, as big a buccaneer as any of them, lies
entombed in her harbor. And I was setting forth on a
buried-treasure expedition on a snub-nosed, flat- bellied,
fresh-water ferry-boat, bound for Jersey City! No one will ever
know my sense of humiliation. And, when the Italian boy insulted my
immaculate tan shoes by pointing at them and saying, "Shine?" I
could have slain him. Fancy digging for buried treasure in freshly
varnished boots! But Edgar did not mind. To him there was nothing
lacking; it was just as it should be. He was deeply engrossed in
calculating how many offices were for rent in the Singer Building!
When we reached the other side, he refused to answer any of my
eager questions. He would not let me know even for what place on
the line he had purchased our tickets, and, as a hint that I should
not disturb him, he stuffed into my hands the latest magazines. "At
least tell me this," I demanded. "Have you ever been to this place
"0nce," said Edgar shortly, "last week. That's when I found out I
would need some one with me who could dig."
"How do you know it's the RIGHT place?" I whispered.
The summer season was over, and of the chair car we were the only
occupants; but, before he answered, Edgar looked cautiously round
him and out of the window. We had just passed Red Bank.
"Because the map told me," he answered. "Suppose," he continued
fretfully, "you had a map of New York City with the streets marked
on it plainly? Suppose the map said that if you walked to where
Broadway and Fifth Avenue meet, you would find the Flatiron
Building. Do you think you could find it?"
"Was it as easy as THAT?" I gasped.
"It was as easy as THAT!" said Edgar.
I sank back into my chair and let the magazines slide to the floor.
What fiction story was there in any one of them so enthralling as
the actual possibilities that lay before me? In two hours I might
be bending over a pot of gold, a sea chest stuffed with pearls and
I began to recall all the stories I had heard as a boy of treasure
buried along the coast by Kidd on his return voyage from the
Indies. Where along the Jersey sea-line were there safe harbors?
The train on which we were racing south had its rail head at
Barnegat Bay. And between Barnegat and Red Bank there now was but
one other inlet, that of the Manasquan River. It might be Barnegat;
it might be Manasquan. It could not be a great distance from
either; toward the ocean down a broad, sandy road. The season had
passed and the windows of the cottages and bungalows on either side
of the road were barricaded with planks. On the verandas hammocks
abandoned to the winds hung in tatters, on the back porches the
doors of empty refrigerators swung open on one hinge, and on every
side above the fields of gorgeous golden-rod rose signs reading
"For Rent." When we had progressed in silence for a mile, the sandy
avenue lost itself in the deeper sand of the beach, and the horse
of his own will came to a halt.
On one side we were surrounded by locked and deserted bathing
houses, on the other by empty pavilions shuttered and barred
against the winter, but still inviting one to 'Try our salt water
taffy" or to "Keep cool with an ice-cream soda." Rupert turned and
looked inquiringly at Edgar. To the north the beach stretched in an
unbroken line to Manasquan Inlet. To the south three miles away we
could see floating on the horizon-like a mirage the hotels and
summer cottages of Bay Head.
"Drive toward the inlet," directed Edgar. "This gentleman and I
Relieved of our weight, the horse stumbled bravely into the
trackless sand, while below on the damper and firmer shingle we
walked by the edge of the water.
The tide was coming in and the spent waves, spreading before them
an advance guard of tiny shells and pebbles, threatened our boots'
and at the same time in soothing, lazy whispers warned us of their
attack. These lisping murmurs and the crash and roar of each
incoming wave as it broke were the only sounds. And on the beach we
were the only human figures. At last the scene began to bear some
resemblance to one set for an adventure. The rolling ocean, a coast
steamer dragging a great column of black smoke, and cast high upon
the beach the wreck of a schooner, her masts tilting drunkenly,
gave color to our purpose. It became filled with greater promise of
drama, more picturesque. I began to thrill with excitement. I
regarded Edgar appealingly, in eager supplication. At last he broke
the silence that was torturing me.
"We will now walk higher up," he commanded. "If we get our feet
wet, we may take cold."
My spirit was too far broken to make reply. But to my relief I saw
that in leaving the beach Edgar had some second purpose. With each
heavy step he was drawing toward two high banks of sand in a hollow
behind which, protected by the banks, were three stunted,
wind-driven pines. His words came back to me.
"So many what-you-may-call-'ems." Were these pines the three
somethings from something, the what-you-may-call-'ems? The thought
chilled me to the spine. I gazed at them fascinated. I felt like
falling on my knees in the sand and tearing their secret from them
with my bare hands. I was strong enough to dig them up by the
roots, strong enough to dig the Panama Canal! I glanced tremulously
at Edgar. His eyes were wide open and, eloquent with dismay, his
lower jaw had fallen. He turned and looked at me for the first time
with consideration. Apology and remorse were written in every line
of his countenance.
I'm sorry, he stammered. I had a cruel premonition. I exclaimed
"You have lost the map!" I hissed.
"No, no," protested Edgar; "but I entirely forgot to bring any
With violent mutterings I tore off my upper and outer garments and
tossed them into the hack.
"Where do I begin?" I asked.
Edgar pointed to a spot inside the triangle formed by the three
trees and equally distant from each.
"Put that horse behind the bank," I commanded, "where no one can
see him! And both you and Rupert keep off the sky-line!" From the
north and south we were now all three hidden by the two high banks
of sand; to the east lay the beach and the Atlantic Ocean, and to
the west stretches of marshes that a mile away met a wood of pine
trees and the railroad round- house.
I began to dig. I knew that weary hours lay before me, and I
attacked the sand leisurely and with deliberation. It was at first
no great effort; but as the hole grew in depth, and the roots of
the trees were exposed, the work was sufficient for several men.
Still, as Edgar had said, it is not every day that one can dig for
treasure, and in thinking of what was to come I forgot my hands
that quickly blistered, and my breaking back. After an hour I
insisted that Edgar should take a turn; but he made such poor
headway that my patience could not contain me, and I told him I was
sufficiently rested and would continue. With alacrity he scrambled
out of the hole, and, taking a cigar from my case, seated himself
comfortably in the hack. I took my comfort in anticipating the
thrill that would be mine when the spade would ring on the
ironbound chest; when, with a blow of the axe, I would expose to
view the hidden jewels, the pieces of eight, coated with verdigris,
the string of pearls, the chains of yellow gold. Edgar had said a
million dollars. That must mean there would be diamonds, many
diamonds. I would hold them in my hands, watch them, at the sudden
sunshine, blink their eyes and burst into tiny, burning fires. In
imagination I would replace them in the setting, from which, years
before, they had been stolen. I would try to guess whence they came
from a jewelled chalice in some dim cathedral, from the breast of
a great lady, from the hilt of an admiral's sword.
After another hour I lifted my aching shoulders and, wiping the
sweat from my eyes, looked over the edge of the hole. Rupert, with
his back to the sand-hill, was asleep. Edgar with one hand was
waving away the mosquitoes and in the other was holding one of the
magazines he had bought on the way down. I could even see the page
upon which his eyes were riveted. It was an advertisement for
breakfast food. In my indignation the spade slipped through my
cramped and perspiring fingers, and as it struck the bottom of the
pit, something --a band of iron, a steel lock, an iron ring-- gave
forth a muffled sound. My heart stopped beating as suddenly as
though Mr. Corbett had hit it with his closed fist. My blood turned
to melted ice. I drove the spade down as fiercely as though it was
a dagger. It sank into rotten wood. I had made no sound; for I
could hardly breathe. But the slight noise of the blow had reached
Edgar. I heard the springs of the hack creak as he vaulted from it,
and the next moment he was towering above me, peering down into the
pit. His eyes were wide with excitement, greed, and fear. In his
hands he clutched the two suit-cases. Like a lion defending his
cubs he glared at me.
"Get out!" he shouted.
"Like hell!" I said.
"Get out!" he roared. "I'll do the rest.
That's mine, not yours! GET OUT!"
With a swift kick I brushed away the sand. I found I was standing
on a squat wooden box, bound with bands of rusty iron. I had only
to stoop to touch it. It was so rotten that I could have torn it
apart with my bare hands. Edgar was dancing on the edge of the pit,
incidentally kicking sand into my mouth and nostrils.
"You PROMISED me!" he roared. "You PROMISED to obey me!"
"You ass!" I shouted. "Haven't I done all the work? Don't I
"You get out!" roared Edgar.
Slowly, disgustedly, with what dignity one can display in crawling
out of a sand-pit, I scrambled to the top.
"Go over there," commanded Edgar pointing, "and sit down."
In furious silence I seated myself beside Rupert. He was still
slumbering and snoring happily. From where I sat I could see
nothing of what was going forward in the pit, save once, when the
head of Edgar, his eyes aflame and his hair and eye-glasses
sprinkled with sand, appeared above it. Apparently he was fearful
lest I had moved from the spot where he had placed me. I had not;
but had he known my inmost feelings he would have taken the axe
into the pit with him.
I must have sat so for half an hour. In the sky above me a
fish-hawk drifted lazily. From the beach sounded the steady beat of
the waves, and from the town across the marshes came the puffing of
a locomotive and the clanging bells of the freight trains. The
breeze from the sea cooled the sweat on my aching body; but it
could not cool the rage in my heart. If I had the courage of my
feelings, I would have cracked Edgar over head with the spade,
buried him in the pit, bribed Rupert, and forever after lived
happily on my ill-gotten gains. That was how Kidd, or Morgan, or
Blackbeard would have acted. I cursed the effete civilization which
had taught me to want many pleasures but had left me with a
conscience that would not let me take human life to obtain them,
not even Edgar's life.
In half an hour a suit-case was lifted into view and dropped on the
edge of the pit. It was followed by the other, and then by Edgar.
Without asking me to help him, because he probably knew I would
not, he shovelled the sand into the hole, and then placed the
suitcases in the carriage. With increasing anger I observed that
the contents of each were so heavy that to lift it he used both
"There is no use your asking any questions," he announced, "because
I won't answer them."
I gave him minute directions as to where he could go; but instead
we drove in black silence to the station. There Edgar rewarded
Rupert with a dime, and while we waited for the train to New York
placed the two suit-cases against the wall of the ticket office and
sat upon them. When the train arrived he warned me in a hoarse
whisper that I had promised to help him guard the treasure, and
gave me one of the suit- cases. It weighed a ton. Just to spite
Edgar, I had a plan to kick it open, so that every one on the
platform might scramble for the contents. But again my infernal New
England conscience restrained me.
Edgar had secured the drawing-room in the parlor-car, and when we
were safely inside and the door bolted my curiosity became stronger
than my pride.
"Edgar," I said, "your ingratitude is contemptible. Your suspicions
are ridiculous; but, under these most unusual conditions, I don't
blame you. But we are quite safe now. The door is fastened," I
pointed out ingratiatingly, it and this train doesn't stop for
another forty minutes. I think this would be an excellent time to
look at the treasure." "I don't!" said Edgar.
I sank back into my chair. With intense enjoyment I imagined the
train in which we were seated hurling itself into another train;
and everybody, including Edgar, or, rather, especially Edgar, being
instantly but painlessly killed. By such an act of an all-wise
Providence I would at once become heir to one million dollars. It
was a beautiful, satisfying dream. Even MY conscience accepted it
with a smug smile. It was so vivid a dream that I sat guiltily
expectant, waiting for the crash to come, for the shrieks and
screams, for the rush of escaping steam and breaking window-panes.
But it was far too good to be true. Without a jar the train carried
us and its precious burden in safety to the Jersey City terminal.
And each, with half a million dollars in his hand, hurried to the
ferry, assailed by porters, news-boys, hackmen. To them we were a
couple of commuters saving a dime by carrying our own hand-bags.
It was now six o'clock, and I pointed out to Edgar that at that
hour the only vaults open were those of the Night and Day Bank. And
to that institution in a taxicab we at once made our way. I paid
the chauffeur, and two minutes later, with a gasp of relief and
rejoicing, I dropped the suit-case I had carried on a table in the
steel-walled fastnesses of the vaults. Gathered excitedly around us
were the officials of the bank, summoned hastily from above, and
watchmen in plain clothes, and watchmen in uniforms of gray. Great
bars as thick as my leg protected us. Walls of chilled steel rising
from solid rock stood between our treasure and the outer world.
Until then I had not known how tremendous the nervous strain had
been; but now it came home to me. I mopped the perspiration from my
forehead, I drew a deep breath.
"Edgar," I exclaimed happily, "I congratulate you!" I found Edgar
extending toward me a two-dollar bill. "You gave the chauffeur two
dollars,"' he said. "The fare was really one dollar eighty; so you
owe me twenty cents."
Mechanically I laid two dimes upon the table.
"All the other expenses," continued Edgar, "which I agreed to pay,
I have paid." He made a peremptory gesture. "I won't detain you any
longer," he said. "Good-night!"
"Good-night!" I cried. "Don't I see the treasure?" Against the
walls of chilled steel my voice rose like that of a tortured soul.
"Don't I touch it!" I yelled. "Don't I even get a squint? "
Even the watchmen looked sorry for me.
"You do not!" said Edgar calmly. "You have fulfilled your part of
the agreement. I have fulfilled mine. A year from now you can write
the story." As I moved in a dazed state toward the steel door, his
voice halted me.
"And you can say in your story," called Edgar," that there is only
one way to get a buried treasure. That is to go, and get it!"
For over forty years, in one part of the world or another, old man
Marshall had, served his country as a United States consul. He had
been appointed by Lincoln. For a quarter of a century that fact was
his distinction. It was now his epitaph. But in former years, as
each new administration succeeded the old, it had again and again
saved his official head. When victorious and voracious
place-hunters, searching the map of the world for spoils, dug out
his hiding-place and demanded his consular sign as a reward for a
younger and more aggressive party worker, the ghost of the dead
President protected him. In the State Department, Marshall had
become a tradition. "You can't touch Him!" the State Department
would say; "why, HE was appointed by Lincoln!" Secretly, for this
weapon against the hungry headhunters, the department was
infinitely grateful. Old man Marshall was a consul after its own
heart. Like a soldier, he was obedient, disciplined; wherever he
was sent, there, without question, he would go. Never against
exile, against ill-health, against climate did he make complaint.
Nor when he was moved on and down to make way for some
ne'er-do-well with influence, with a brother-in- law in the Senate,
with a cousin owning a newspaper, with rich relatives who desired
him to drink himself to death at the expense of the government
rather than at their own, did old man Marshall point to his record
as a claim for more just treatment.
And it had been an excellent record. His official reports, in a
quaint, stately hand, were models of English; full of information,
intelligent, valuable, well observed. And those few of his
countrymen, who stumbled upon him in the out-of- the-world places
to which of late he had been banished, wrote of him to the
department in terms of admiration and awe. Never had he or his
friends petitioned for promotion, until it was at last apparent
that, save for his record and the memory of his dead patron, he had
no friends. But, still in the department the tradition held and,
though he was not advanced, he was not dismissed.
"If that old man's been feeding from the public trough ever since
the Civil War," protested a "practical" politician, "it seems to
me, Mr. Secretary, that he's about had his share. Ain't it time he
give some one else a bite? Some of us that has, done the work, that
has borne the brunt----"
"This place he now holds," interrupted the Secretary of State
suavely, "is one hardly commensurate with services like yours. I
can't pronounce the name of it, and I'm not sure just where it is,
but I see that, of the last six consuls we sent there, three
resigned within a month and the other three died of yellow-fever.
Still, if you. insist----"
The practical politician reconsidered hastily. "I'm not the sort,"
he protested, "to turn out a man appointed by our martyred
President. Besides, he's so old now, if the fever don't catch him,
he'll die of old age, anyway."
The Secretary coughed uncomfortably. "And they say," he murmured,
"republics are ungrateful."
"I don't quite get that," said the practical politician.
Of Porto Banos, of the Republic of Colombia, where as consul Mr.
Marshall was upholding the dignity of the United States, little
could be said except that it possessed a sure harbor. When driven
from the Caribbean Sea by stress of weather, the largest of ocean
tramps, and even battle-ships, could find in its protecting arms of
coral a safe shelter. But, as young Mr. Aiken, the wireless
operator, pointed out, unless driven by a hurricane and the fear of
death, no one ever visited it. Back of the ancient wharfs, that
dated from the days when Porto Banos was a receiver of stolen goods
for buccaneers and pirates, were rows of thatched huts, streets,
according to the season, of dust or mud, a few iron-barred,
jail-like barracks, customhouses, municipal buildings, and the
whitewashed adobe houses of the consuls. The backyard of the town
was a swamp. Through this at five each morning a rusty engine
pulled a train of flat cars to the base of the mountains, and, if
meanwhile the rails had not disappeared into the swamp, at five in
the evening brought back the flat cars laden with odorous
In the daily life of Porto Banos, waiting for the return of the
train, and betting if it would return, was the chief interest. Each
night the consuls, the foreign residents, the wireless operator,
the manager of the rusty railroad met for dinner. There at the head
of the long table, by virtue of his years, of his courtesy and
distinguished manner, of his office, Mr. Marshall presided. Of the
little band of exiles he was the chosen ruler. His rule was gentle.
By force of example he had made existence in Porto Banos more
possible. For women and children Porto Banos was a death-trap, and
before "old man Marshall" came there had been no influence to
remind the enforced bachelors of other days.
They had lost interest, had grown lax, irritable, morose. Their
white duck was seldom white. Their cheeks were unshaven. When the
sun sank into the swamp and the heat still turned Porto Banos into
a Turkish bath, they threw dice on the greasy tables of the Cafe
Bolivar for drinks. The petty gambling led to petty quarrels; the
drinks to fever. The coming of Mr. Marshall changed that. His
standard of life, his tact, his worldly wisdom, his cheerful
courtesy, his fastidious personal neatness shamed the younger men;
the desire to please him, to, stand well in his good opinion,
brought back pride and self-esteem.
The lieutenant of her Majesty's gun-boat PLOVER noted the change.
"Used to be," he exclaimed, "you couldn't get out of the Cafe
Bolivar without some one sticking a knife in you; now it's a
debating club. They all sit round a table and listen to an old
gentleman talk world politics."
If Henry Marshall brought content to the exiles of Porto Banos,
there was little in return that Porto Banos could give to him.
Magazines and correspondents in six languages kept him in touch
with those foreign lands in which he had represented his country,
but of the country he had represented, newspapers and periodicals
showed him only too clearly that in forty years it had grown away
from him, had changed beyond recognition.
When last he had called at the State Department, he had been made
to feel he was a man without a country, and when he visited his
home town in Vermont, he was looked upon as a Rip Van Winkle. Those
of his boyhood friends who were not dead had long thought of him as
dead. And the sleepy, pretty village had become a bustling
commercial centre. In the lanes where, as a young man, he had
walked among wheatfields, trolley-cars whirled between rows of
mills and factories. The children had grown to manhood, with
children of their own.
Like a ghost, he searched for house after house, where once he had
been made welcome, only to find in its place a towering office
building. "All had gone, the old familiar faces." In vain he
scanned even the shop fronts for a friendly, homelike name. Whether
the fault was his, whether he would better have served his own
interests than those of his government, it now was too late to
determine. In his own home, he was a stranger among strangers. In
the service he had so faithfully followed, rank by rank, he had
been dropped, until now he, who twice had been a consul-general,
was an exile, banished to a fever swamp. The great Ship of State
had dropped him overside, had "marooned" him, and sailed away.
Twice a day he walked along the shell road to the Cafe Bolivar, and
back again to the consulate. There, as he entered the outer office,
Jose" the Colombian clerk, would rise and bow profoundly.
"Any papers for me to sign, Jose? " the consul would ask.
"Not to-day, Excellency, "the clerk would reply. Then Jose would
return to writing a letter to his lady-love; not that there was
any-thing to tell her, but because writing on the official paper of
the consulate gave him importance in his eyes, and in hers. And in
the inner office the consul would continue to gaze at the empty
harbor, the empty coral reefs, the empty, burning sky.
The little band of exiles were at second break fast when the
wireless man came in late to announce that a Red D. boat and the
island of Curacao had both reported a hurricane coming north. Also,
that much concern was felt for the safety of the yacht SERAPIS.
Three days before, in advance of her coming, she had sent a
wireless to Wilhelmstad, asking the captain of the port to reserve
a berth for her. She expected to arrive the following morning. But
for forty-eight hours nothing had been heard from her, and it was
believed she had been overhauled by the hurricane. Owing to the
presence on board of Senator Hanley, the closest friend of the new
President, the man who had made him president, much concern was
felt at Washington. To try to pick her up by wireless, the gun-boat
NEWARK had been ordered from Culebra, the cruiser RALEIGH, with
Admiral Hardy on board, from Colon. It was possible she would seek
shelter at Porto Banos. The consul was ordered to report.
As Marshall wrote out his answer, the French consul exclaimed with
"He is of importance, then, this senator?" he asked. "Is it that in
your country ships of war are at the service of a senator?"
Aiken, the wireless operator, grinned derisively.
"At the service of THIS senator, they are!" he answered. "They call
him the 'king-maker,' the man behind the throne."
"But in your country," protested the Frenchman, "there is no
throne. I thought your president was elected by the people?"
"That's what the people think," answered Aiken. "In God's country,"
he explained, "the trusts want a rich man in the Senate, with the
same interests as their own, to represent them. They chose Hanley.
He picked out of the candidates for the presidency the man he
thought would help the interests. He nominated him, and the people
voted for him. Hanley is what we call a 'boss.' "
The Frenchman looked inquiringly at Marshall.
"The position of the boss is the more dangerous," said Marshall
gravely, "because it is unofficial, because there are no laws to
curtail his powers. Men like Senator Hanley are a menace to good
government. They see in public office only a reward for party
"That's right," assented Aiken. "Your forty years' service, Mr.
Consul, wouldn't count with Hanley. If he wanted your job, he'd
throw you out as quick as he would a drunken cook."
Mr. Marshall flushed painfully, and the French consul hastened to
"Then, let us pray," he exclaimed, with fervor, "that the hurricane
has sunk the SERAPIS, and all on board."
Two hours later, the SERAPIS, showing she had met the hurricane and
had come out second best, steamed into the harbor.
Her owner was young Herbert Livingstone, of Washington. He once had
been in the diplomatic service, and, as minister to The Hague,
wished to return to it. In order to bring this about he had
subscribed liberally to the party campaign fund.
With him, among other distinguished persons, was the all- powerful
Hanley. The kidnapping of Hanley for the cruise, in itself,
demonstrated the ability of Livingstone as a diplomat. It was the
opinion of many that it would surely lead to his appointment as a
minister plenipotentiary. Livingstone was of the same opinion. He
had not lived long in the nation's capital without observing the
value of propinquity. How many men he knew were now paymasters, and
secretaries of legation, solely because those high in the
government met them daily at the Metropolitan Club, and preferred
them in almost any other place. And if, after three weeks as his
guest on board what the newspapers called his floating palace, the
senator could refuse him even the prize, legation of Europe, there
was no value in modest merit. As yet, Livingstone had not hinted at
his ambition. There was no need. To a statesman of Hanley's
astuteness, the largeness of Livingstone's contribution to the
campaign fund was self- explanatory.
After her wrestling-match with the hurricane, all those on board
the SERAPIS seemed to find in land, even in the swamp land of Porto
Banos, a compelling attraction. Before the anchors hit the water,
they were in the launch. On reaching shore, they made at once for
the consulate. There were many cables they wished to start on their
way by wireless; cables to friends, to newspapers, to the
Jose, the Colombian clerk, appalled by the unprecedented invasion
of visitors, of visitors so distinguished, and Marshall, grateful
for a chance to serve his fellow- countrymen, and especially his
countrywomen, were ubiquitous, eager, indispensable. At Jose's desk
the great senator, rolling his cigar between his teeth, was using,
to Jose's ecstasy, Jose's own pen to write a reassuring message to
the White House. At the consul's desk a beautiful creature, all in
lace and pearls, was struggling to compress the very low opinion
she held of a hurricane into ten words. On his knee, Henry Cairns,
the banker, was inditing instructions to his Wall Street office,
and upon himself Livingstone had taken the responsibility of
replying to the inquiries heaped upon Marshall's desk, from many
It was just before sunset, and Marshall produced his tea things,
and the young person in pearls and lace, who was Miss Cairns, made
tea for the women, and the men mixed gin and limes with tepid
water. The consul apologized for proposing a toast in which they
could not join. He begged to drink to those who had escaped the
perils of the sea. Had they been his oldest and nearest friends,
his little speech could not have been more heart-felt and sincere.
To his distress, it moved one of the ladies to tears, and in
embarrassment he turned to the men.
"I regret there is no ice," he said, "but you know the rule of the
tropics; as soon as a ship enters port, the ice- machine bursts."
"I'll tell the steward to send you some, sir," said Livingstone,
"and as long as we're here."
The senator showed his concern.
"As long as we're here?" he gasped.
"Not over two days," answered the owner nervously. "The chief says
it will take all of that to get her in shape. As you ought to know,
Senator, she was pretty badly mauled."
The senator gazed blankly out of the window. Beyond it lay the
naked coral reefs, the empty sky, and the ragged palms of Porto
Livingstone felt that his legation was slipping from him.
"That wireless operator," he continued hastily, "tells me there is
a most amusing place a few miles down the coast, Las Bocas, a sort
of Coney Island, where the government people go for the summer.
There's surf bathing and roulette and cafes chantants. He says
there's some Spanish dancers----"
The guests of the SERAPIS exclaimed with interest; the senator
smiled. To Marshall the general enthusiasm over the thought of a
ride on a merry-go-round suggested that the friends of Mr.
Livingstone had found their own society far from satisfying.
Greatly encouraged, Livingstone continued, with enthusiasm:
"And that wireless man said," he added, "that with the launch we
can get there in half an hour. We might run down after dinner." He
turned to Marshall.
"Will you join us, Mr. Consul?" he asked, "and dine with us,
Marshall accepted with genuine pleasure. It had been many months
since he had sat at table with his own people. But he shook his
"I was wondering about Las Bocas," he explained, "if your going
there might not get you in trouble at the next port. With a yacht,
I think it is different, but Las Bocas is under quarantine"
There was a chorus of exclamations.
"It's not serious," Marshall explained. "There was bubonic plague
there, or something like it. You would be in no danger from that.
It is only that you might be held up by the regulations. Passenger
steamers can't land any one who has been there at any other port of
West Indies. The English are especially strict. The Royal Mail
won't even receive any one on board here without a certificate from
the English consul saying he has not visited Las Bocas. For an
American they would require the same guarantee from me. But I don't
think the regulations extend to yachts. I will inquire. I don't
wish to deprive you of any of the many pleasures of Porto Banos,"
he added, smiling, "but if you were refused a landing at your next
port I would blame myself."
"It's all right," declared Livingstone decidedly. "It's just as you
say; yachts and warships are exempt. Besides, I carry my own
doctor, and if he won't give us a clean bill of health, I'll make
him walk the plank. At eight, then, at dinner. I'll send the cutter
for you. I can't give you a salute, Mr. Consul, but you shall have
all the side boys I can muster."
Those from the yacht parted from their consul in the most friendly
"I think he's charming!" exclaimed Miss Cairns. "And did you notice
his novels? They were in every language. It must be terribly lonely
down here, for a man like that."
"He's the first of our consuls we've met on this trip," growled her
father, "that we've caught sober."
"Sober!" exclaimed his wife indignantly.
"He's one of the Marshalls of Vermont. I asked him."
"I wonder," mused Hanley, "how much the place is worth? Hamilton,
one of the new senators, has been deviling the life out of me to
send his son somewhere. Says if he stays in Washington he'll
disgrace the family. I should think this place would drive any man
to drink himself to death in three months, and young Hamilton, from
what I've seen of him, ought to be able to do it in a week. That
would leave the place open for the next man."
"There's a postmaster in my State thinks he carried it." The
senator smiled grimly. "He has consumption, and wants us to give
him a consulship in the tropics. I'll tell him I've seen Porto
Banos, and that it's just the place for him."
The senator's pleasantry was not well received. But Miss Cairns
alone had the temerity to speak of what the others were thinking.
"What would become of Mr. Marshall?" she asked. The senator smiled
"I don't know that I was thinking of Mr. Marshall," he said. "I
can't recall anything he has done for this administration. You see,
Miss Cairns," he explained, in the tone of one addressing a small
child, "Marshall has been abroad now for forty years, at the
expense of the taxpayers. Some of us think men who have lived that
long on their fellow-countrymen had better come home and get to
Livingstone nodded solemnly in assent. He did not wish a post
abroad at the expense of the taxpayers. He was willing to pay for
it. And then, with "ex-Minister" on his visiting cards, and a sense
of duty well performed, for the rest of his life he could join the
other expatriates in Paris.
Just before dinner, the cruiser RALEIGH having discovered the
whereabouts of the SERAPIS by wireless, entered the harbor, and
Admiral Hardy came to the yacht to call upon the senator, in whose
behalf he had been scouring the Caribbean Seas. Having paid his
respects to that personage, the admiral fell boisterously upon
The two old gentlemen were friends of many years. They had met,
officially and unofficially, in many strange parts of the world. To
each the chance reunion was a piece of tremendous good fortune. And
throughout dinner the guests of Livingstone, already bored with
each other, found in them and their talk of former days new and
delightful entertainment. So much so that when, Marshall having
assured them that the local quarantine regulations did not extend
to a yacht, the men departed for Las Bocas, the women insisted that
he and admiral remain behind.
It was for Marshall a wondrous evening. To foregather with his old
friend whom he had known since Hardy was a mad midshipman, to sit
at the feet of his own charming countrywomen, to listen to their
soft, modulated laughter, to note how quickly they saw that to him
the evening was a great event, and with what tact each contributed
to make it the more memorable; all served to wipe out the months of
bitter loneliness, the stigma of failure, the sense of undeserved
neglect. In the moonlight, on the cool quarter- deck, they sat, in
a half-circle, each of the two friends telling tales out of school,
tales of which the other was the hero or the victim, "inside"
stories of great occasions, ceremonies, bombardments, unrecorded
Hardy had helped to open the Suez Canal. Marshall had assisted the
Queen of Madagascar to escape from the French invaders. On the
Barbary Coast Hardy had chased pirates. In Edinburgh Marshall had
played chess with Carlyle. He had seen Paris in mourning in the
days of the siege, Paris in terror in the days of the Commune; he
had known Garibaldi, Gambetta, the younger Dumas, the creator of
"Do you remember that time in Tangier," the admiral urged, when I
was a midshipman, and got into the bashaw's harem?"
"Do you remember how I got you out? Marshall replied grimly.
"And," demanded Hardy, "do you remember when Adelina Patti paid a
visit to the KEARSARGE at Marseilles in '65--George Dewey was our
second officer--and you were bowing and backing away from her, and
you backed into an open hatch, and she said 'my French isn't up to
it' what was it she said?"
"I didn't hear it," said Marshall; "I was too far down the hatch."
"Do you mean the old KEARSARGE?" asked Mrs. Cairns. "Were you in
the service then, Mr. Marshall? "
With loyal pride in his friend, the admiral answered for him:
"He was our consul-general at Marseilles!"
There was an uncomfortable moment. Even those denied imagination
could not escape the contrast, could see in their mind's eye the
great harbor of Marseilles, crowded with the shipping of the world,
surrounding it the beautiful city, the rival of Paris to the north,
and on the battleship the young consul-general making his bow to
the young Empress of Song. And now, before their actual eyes, they
saw the village of Porto Banos, a black streak in the night, a row
of mud shacks, at the end of the wharf a single lantern yellow in
the clear moonlight.
Later in the evening Miss Cairns led the admiral to one side.
"Admiral," she began eagerly, "tell me about your friend. Why is he
here? Why don't they give him a place worthy of him? I've seen many
of our representatives abroad, and I know we cannot afford to waste
men like that." The girl exclaimed indignantly: " He's one of the
most interesting men I've ever met! He's lived everywhere, known
every one. He's a distinguished man, a cultivated man; even I can
see he knows his work, that he's a diplomat, born, trained, that
he's----" The admiral interrupted with a growl.
"You don't have to tell ME about Henry," he protested. "I've known
Henry twenty-five years. If Henry got his deserts," he exclaimed
hotly, "he wouldn't be a consul on this coral reef; he'd be a
minister in Europe. Look at me! We're the same age. We started
together. When Lincoln sent him to Morocco as consul, he signed my
commission as a midshipman. Now I'm an admiral. Henry has twice my
brains and he's been a consul- general, and he's HERE, back at the
foot of the ladder!"
"Why?" demanded the girl.
"Because the navy is a service and the consular service isn't a
service. Men like Senator Hanley use it to pay their debts. While
Henry's been serving his country abroad, he's lost his friends,
lost his 'pull.' Those politicians up at Washington have no use for
him. They don't consider that a consul like Henry can make a
million dollars for his countrymen. He can keep them from shipping
goods where there's no market, show them where there is a market."
The admiral snorted contemptuously. "You don't have to tell ME the
value of a good consul. But those politicians don't consider that.
They only see that he has a job worth a few hundred dollars, and
they want it, and if he hasn't other politicians to protect him,
they'll take it." The girl raised her head.
"Why don't you speak to the senator?" she asked. "Tell him you've
known him for years, that----"
"Glad to do it!" exclaimed the admiral heartily. " It won't be the
first time. But Henry mustn't know. He's too confoundedly touchy.
He hates the IDEA of influence, hates men like Hanley, who abuse
it. If he thought anything was given to him except on his merits,
he wouldn't take it."
"Then we won't tell him, " said the girl. For a moment she
"If I spoke to Mr. Hanley," she asked, "told him what I learned
to-night of Mr. Marshall, "would it have any effect?"
"Don't know how it will affect Hanley, said the sailor, "but if you
asked me to make anybody a consul-general, I'd make him an
Later in the evening Hanley and Livingstone were seated alone on
deck. The visit to Las Bocas had not proved amusing, but, much to
Livingstone's relief, his honored guest was now in good-humor. He
took his cigar from his lips, only to sip at a long cool drink. He
was in a mood flatteringly confidential and communicative.
"People have the strangest idea of what I can do for them," he
laughed. It was his pose to pretend he was without authority. "They
believe I've only to wave a wand, and get them anything they want.
I thought I'd be safe from them on board a yacht."
Livingstone, in ignorance of what was coming, squirmed
"But it seems," the senator went on, " I'm at the mercy of a
conspiracy. The women folk want me to do something for this fellow
Marshall. If they had their way, they'd send him to the Court of
St. James. And old Hardy, too, tackled me about him. So did Miss
And then Marshall himself got me behind the wheel-house, and I
thought he was going to tell me how good he was, too I But he
As though the joke were on himself, the senator laughed
"Told me, instead, that Hardy ought to be a vice-admiral."
Livingstone, also, laughed, with the satisfied air of one who
cannot be tricked.
"They fixed it up between them," he explained, " each was to put in
a good word for the other." He nodded eagerly. "That's what I
There were moments during the cruise when Senator Hanley would have
found relief in dropping his host overboard. With mock deference,
the older man inclined his head.
"That's what you think, is it?" he asked. "Livingstone," he added,
"you certainly are a great judge of men!"
The next morning, old man Marshall woke with a lightness at his
heart that had been long absent. For a moment, conscious only that
he was happy, he lay between sleep and waking, frowning up at his
canopy of mosquito net, trying to realize what change had come to
him. Then he remembered. His old friend had returned. New friends
had come into his life and welcomed him kindly. He was no longer
lonely. As eager as a boy, he ran to the window. He had not been
dreaming. In the harbor lay the pretty yacht, the stately,
white-hulled war- ship. The flag that drooped from the stern of
each caused his throat to tighten, brought warm tears to his eyes,
fresh resolve to his discouraged, troubled spirit. When he knelt
beside his bed, his heart poured out his thanks in gratitude and
While he was dressing, a blue-jacket brought a note from the
admiral. It invited him to tea on board the war-ship, with the
guests of the SERAPIS. His old friend added that he was coming to
lunch with his consul, and wanted time reserved for a long talk.
The consul agreed gladly. He was in holiday humor. The day promised
to repeat the good moments of the night previous.
At nine o'clock, through the open door of the consulate, Marshall
saw Aiken, the wireless operator, signaling from the wharf
excitedly to the yacht, and a boat leave the ship and return.
Almost immediately the launch, carrying several passengers, again
made the trip shoreward.
Half an hour later, Senator Hanley, Miss Cairns, and Livingstone
came up the waterfront, and entering the consulate, seated
themselves around Marshall's desk. Livingstone was sunk in
melancholy. The senator, on. the contrary, was smiling broadly. His
manner was one of distinct relief. He greeted the consul with
"I'm ordered home!" he announced gleefully. Then, remembering the
presence of Livingstone, he hastened to add: "I needn't say how
sorry I am to give up my yachting trip, but orders are orders. The
President," he explained to Marshall, " cables me this morning to
come back and take my coat off." The prospect, as a change from
playing bridge on a pleasure boat, seemed far from depressing him.
"Those filibusters in the Senate," he continued genially, "are
making trouble again. They think they've got me out of the way for
another month, but they'll find they're wrong. When that bill comes
up, they'll find me at the old stand and ready for business!"
Marshall did not attempt to conceal his personal disappointment.
"I am so sorry you are leaving," he said; "selfishly sorry, I mean.
I'd hoped you all would be here for several days." He looked
inquiringly toward Livingstone.
"I understood the SERAPIS was disabled," he explained.
"She is," answered Hanley. "So's the RALEIGH. At a pinch, the
admiral might have stretched the regulations and carried me to
Jamaica, but the RALEIGH's engines are knocked about too. I've GOT
to reach Kingston Thursday. The German boat leaves there Thursday
for New York. At first it looked as though I couldn't do it, but we
find that the Royal Mail is due to- day, and she can get to
Kingston Wednesday night. It's a great piece of luck. I wouldn't
bother you with my troubles, "the senator explained pleasantly,
"but the agent of the Royal Mail here won't sell me a ticket until
you've put your seal to this." He extended a piece of printed
As Hanley had been talking, the face of the consul had grown grave.
He accepted the paper, but did not look at it. Instead, he regarded
the senator with troubled eyes. When he spoke, his tone was one of
"It is most unfortunate," he said. "But I am afraid the ROYAL MAIL
will not take you on board. Because of Las Bocas," he explained.
"If we had only known!" he added remorsefully. "It is MOST
"Because of Las Bocas?" echoed Hanley.
"You don't mean they'll refuse to take me to Jamaica because I
spent half an hour at the end of a wharf listening to a squeaky
"The trouble," explained Marshall, "is this: if they carried you,
all the other passengers would be held in quarantine for ten days,
and there are fines to pay, and there would be difficulties over
the mails. But," he added hopefully, "maybe the regulations have
been altered. I will see her captain, and tell him----"
"See her captain!" objected Hanley. "Why see the captain? He
doesn't know I've been to that place. Why tell him? All I need is
a clean bill of health from you. That's all HE wants. You have only
to sign that paper." Marshall regarded the senator with surprise.
"But I can't," he said.
"You can't? Why not?"
"Because it certifies to the fact that you have not visited Las
Bocas. Unfortunately, you have visited Las Bocas."
The senator had been walking up and down the room. Now he seated
himself, and stared at Marshall curiously.
"It's like this, Mr. Marshall," he began quietly. "The President
desires my presence in Washington, thinks I can be of some use to
him there in helping carry out certain party measures--measures to
which he pledged himself before his election. Down here, a British
steamship line has laid down local rules which, in my case anyway,
are ridiculous. The question is, are you going to be bound by the
red tape of a ha'penny British colony, or by your oath to the
President of the United States?"
The sophistry amused Marshall. He smiled good-naturedly and shook
"I'm afraid, Senator," he said, "that way of putting it is hardly
fair. Unfortunately, the question is one of fact. I will explain to
"You will explain nothing to the captain!" interrupted Hanley.
"This is a matter which concerns no one but our two selves. I am
not asking favors of steamboat captains. I am asking an American
consul to assist an American citizen in trouble, and, "he added,
with heavy sarcasm, "incidentally, to carry out the wishes of his
Marshall regarded the senator with an expression of both surprise
"Are you asking me to put my name to what is not so?" he said. "Are
"That paper, Mr. Marshall," returned Hanley steadily, "is a mere
form, a piece of red tape. There's no more danger of my carrying
the plague to Jamaica than of my carrying a dynamite bomb. You KNOW
"I DO know that," assented Marshall heartily."I appreciate your
position, and I regret it exceedingly. You are the innocent victim
of a regulation which is a wise regulation, but which is most
unfair to you. My own position," he added, "is not important, but
you can believe me, it is not easy. It is certainly no pleasure for
me to be unable to help you."
Hanley was leaning forward, his hands on his knees, his eyes
watching Marshall closely. "Then you refuse?" he said. "Why?"
Marshall regarded the senator steadily. His manner was untroubled.
The look he turned upon Hanley was one of grave disapproval.
"You know why," he answered quietly. "It is impossible."
In sudden anger Hanley rose. Marshall, who had been seated behind
his desk, also rose. For a moment, in silence, the two men
confronted each other. Then Hanley spoke; his tone was harsh and
"Then I am to understand," he exclaimed, "that you refuse to carry
out the wishes of a United States Senator and of the President of
the United States?"
In front of Marshall, on his desk, was the little iron stamp of the
consulate. Protectingly, almost caressingly, he laid his hand upon
"I refuse," he corrected, "to place the seal of this consulate on
There was a moment's pause. Miss Cairns, unwilling to remain, and
unable to withdraw, clasped her hands unhappily and stared at the
floor. Livingstone exclaimed in indignant protest. Hanley moved a
step nearer and, to emphasize what he said, tapped his knuckles on
the desk. With the air of one confident of his advantage, he spoke
slowly and softly.
"Do you appreciate," he asked, "that, while you may be of some
importance down here in this fever swamp, in Washington I am
supposed to carry some weight? Do you appreciate that I am a
senator from a State that numbers four millions of people, and that
you are preventing me from serving those people?"
Marshall inclined his head gravely and politely.
"And I want you to appreciate," he said, "that while I have no
weight at Washington, in this fever swamp I have the honor to
represent eighty millions of people, and as long as that consular
sign is over my door I don't intend to prostitute it for YOU, or
the President of the United States, or any one of those eighty
Of the two men, the first to lower his eyes was Hanley. He laughed
shortly, and walked to the door. There he turned, and
indifferently, as though the incident no longer interested him,
drew out his watch.
"Mr. Marshall," he said, "if the cable is working, I'll take your
tin sign away from you by sunset."
For one of Marshall's traditions, to such a speech there was no
answer save silence. He bowed, and, apparently serene and
undismayed, resumed his seat. From the contest, judging from the
manner of each, it was Marshall, not Hanley, who had emerged
But Miss Cairns was not deceived. Under the unexpected blow,
Marshall had turned older. His clear blue eyes had grown less
alert, his broad shoulders seemed to stoop. In sympathy, her own
eyes filled with sudden tears.
"What will you do?" she whispered.
"I don't know what I shall do," said Marshall simply. "I should
have liked to have resigned. It's a prettier finish. After forty
years--to be dismissed by cable is--it's a poor way of ending it."
Miss Cairns rose and walked to the door. There she turned and
"I am sorry," she said. And both understood that in saying no more
than that she had best shown her sympathy.
An hour later the sympathy of Admiral Hardy was expressed more
"If he comes on board my ship," roared that gentleman, "I'll push
him down an ammunition hoist and break his damned neck!"
Marshall laughed delightedly. The loyalty of his old friend was
never so welcome.
"You'll treat him with every courtesy," he said. "The only
satisfaction he gets out of this is to see that he has hurt me. We
will not give him that satisfaction."
But Marshall found that to conceal his wound was more difficult
than he had anticipated. When, at tea time, on the deck of the
war-ship, he again met Senator Hanley and the guests of the
SERAPIS, he could not forget that his career had come to an end.
There was much to remind him that this was so. He was made aware of
it by the sad, sympathetic glances of the women; by their tactful
courtesies; by the fact that Livingstone, anxious to propitiate
Hanley, treated him rudely; by the sight of the young officers,
each just starting upon a career of honor, and possible glory, as
his career ended in humiliation; and by the big war-ship herself,
that recalled certain crises when he had only to press a button and
war-ships had come at his bidding.
At five o'clock there was an awkward moment. The Royal Mail boat,
having taken on her cargo, passed out of the harbor on her way to
Jamaica, and dipped her colors. Senator Hanley, abandoned to his
fate, observed her departure in silence.
Livingstone, hovering at his side, asked sympathetically: "Have
they answered your cable, sir?" "They have," said Hanley gruffly.
"Was it--was it satisfactory?" pursued the diplomat. "It WAS," said
the senator, with emphasis.
Far from discouraged, Livingstone continued his inquiries.
"And when," he asked eagerly, "are you going to tell him?"
"Now!" said the senator.
The guests were leaving the ship. When all were seated in the
admiral's steam launch, the admiral descended the accommodation
ladder and himself picked up the tiller ropes.
"Mr. Marshall," he called, "when I bring the launch broadside to
the ship and stop her, you will stand ready to receive the consul's
Involuntarily, Marshall uttered an exclamation of protest. He had
forgotten that on leaving the war-ship, as consul, he was entitled
to seven guns. Had he remembered, he would have insisted that the
ceremony be omitted. He knew that the admiral wished to show his
loyalty, knew that his old friend was now paying him this honor
only as a rebuke to Hanley. But the ceremony was no longer an
honor. Hanley had made of it a mockery. It served only to emphasize
what had been taken from him. But, without a scene, it now was too
late to avoid it. The first of the seven guns had roared from the
bow, and, as often he had stood before, as never he would so stand
again, Marshall took his place at the gangway of the launch. His
eyes were fixed on the flag, his gray head was uncovered, his hat
was pressed above his heart.
For the first time since Hanley had left the consulate, he fell
into sudden terror lest he might give way to his emotions.
Indignant at the thought, he held himself erect. His face was set
like a mask, his eyes were untroubled. He was determined they
should not see that he was suffering.
Another gun spat out a burst of white smoke, a stab of flame. There
was an echoing roar. Another and another followed. Marshall counted
seven, and then, with a bow to the admiral, backed from the
And then another gun shattered the hot, heavy silence. Marshall,
confused, embarrassed, assuming he had counted wrong, hastily
returned to his place. But again before he could leave it, in
savage haste a ninth gun roared out its greeting. He could not
still be mistaken. He turned appealingly to his friend. The eyes of
the admiral were fixed upon the war-ship. Again a gun shattered the
silence. Was it a jest? Were they laughing at him? Marshall flushed
miserably. He gave a swift glance toward the others. They were
smiling. Then it was a jest. Behind his back, something of which
they all were cognizant was going forward. The face of Livingstone
alone betrayed a like bewilderment to his own. But the others, who
knew, were mocking him.
For the thirteenth time a gun shook the brooding swamp land of
Porto Banos. And then, and not until then, did the flag crawl
slowly from the mast-head. Mary Cairns broke the tenseness by
bursting into tears. But Marshall saw that every one else, save she
and Livingstone, were still smiling. Even the bluejackets in charge
of the launch were grinning at him. He was beset by smiling faces.
And then from the war-ship, unchecked, came, against all
regulations, three long, splendid cheers.
Marshall felt his lips quivering, the warm tears forcing their way
to his eyes. He turned beseechingly to his friend. His voice
"Charles," he begged, "are they laughing at me?"
Eagerly, before the other would answer, Senator Hanley tossed his
cigar into the water and, scrambling forward, seized Marshall by
"Mr. Marshall," he cried, "our President has great faith in Abraham
Lincoln's judgment of men. And this salute means that this morning
he appointed you our new minister to The Hague. I'm one of those
politicians who keeps his word. I TOLD YOU I'd take your tin sign
away from you by sunset. I've done it!"