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The Cruise of the Jasper B. by Don Marquis

Part 3 out of 4

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with it. Cleggett had not seen this man look towards the Jasper
B., but he nevertheless had the feeling that the man had missed
little of what had been going on there. He seemed to be that kind
of man.

His crew responding to the stabs of the oar, the little vessel
went perhaps fifty yards farther up the canal towards Parker's,
and then swung daintily around and came back towards the Jasper
B. at almost the speed of a racing shell, the men in chains
bending doggedly to their work. Cleggett saw that the boat must
pass close to the Jasper B., and leaned over the port rail.

The man in the stern had picked up a magazine and was lolling
back reading it. As the boat passed under him Cleggett saw on
the cover page of the magazine a picture of the very man who was
perusing it. It was a singularly urbane face; both the
counterfeit presentment on the cover page and the real face were
smiling and calm and benign. Cleggett could read the legend on
the magazine cover accompanying the picture. It ran:

Wilton Barnstable Tells In this Issue the Inside Story
of How he Broke up the Gigantic Smuggling Conspiracy.

At that instant the man dropped the magazine and looked Cleggett
full in the face. He waved his arm in a meaning gesture in the
direction in which Loge had disappeared and said, with a gentle
shake of his head at Cleggett, as if he were chiding a naughty
child:

"When thieves fall out--! When thieves fall out, my dear sir!"

As he swept by he resumed his magazine with the pleased air of a
man who has delivered himself of a brilliant epigram; it showed
in his very shoulders.

"And that," murmured Cleggett, "is Wilton Barnstable, the great
detective!"

CHAPTER XIII

THE SOUL OF LOGAN BLACK

Wilton Barnstable, the great detective, having witnessed Loge's
outburst of wrath, had thought it signified a quarrel between
thieves, as his words to Cleggett indicated. He had thought
Cleggett a crook, and Loge's ally.

Loge, on the other hand, had thought Cleggett a detective. He
had addressed him as "Mr. Detective" that morning at Morris's.
Loge believed the Jasper B. and the Annabel Lee to be allied
against him.

Whereas Cleggett, until he had recognized Wilton Barnstable in
the boat, had thought it likely that the Annabel Lee and Morris's
were allied against the Jasper B.

Now that Cleggett knew the commander of the Annabel Lee to be
Wilton Barnstable, his first impulse was to go to the Great
Detective and invite his cooperation against Loge and the gang at
Morris's. But almost instantly he reflected that he could not do
this. For there was the box of Reginald Maltravers! Indeed, how
did he know that it was not the box of Reginald Maltravers which
had brought the Great Detective to that vicinity? This man--of
world-wide fame, and reputed to possess an almost miraculous
instinct in the unraveling of criminal mysteries--might be even
now on the trail of Lady Agatha. If so, he was Cleggett's enemy.
When it came to a choice between the championship of Lady Agatha
and the defiance of Wilton Barnstable, and all that he
represented, Cleggett did not hesitate for an instant.

There were still some aspects of the situation in which he found
himself that were as puzzling as ever to Cleggett. It is true
that he now knew why Loge's men had been in the hold of the
vessel; they had been there, no doubt, in an attempt to get
possession of the oblong, unpainted box which had caused Loge's
explosion of wrath; the box which was the real thing Loge had
tried to buy from Cleggett when he dickered for the purchase of
the Jasper B. But why this box should have been in the hold of
the vessel, Cleggett could not understand. And how Loge's men
had been able to get into and out of the hold without his
knowledge still perplexed him.

The motive behind the attempt to dynamite the vessel was clear.
Having failed to purchase it, having failed to recover the box
from it, Loge had sought to destroy it with all on board. But
the strange character of this explosion still defied his powers
of analysis. And then there was the tenth Earl of Claiborne's
signet ring on the dead hand. Beyond the fact that it was a
circumstance which connected his fortunes with those of Lady
Agatha, he could make nothing at all of the signet ring. What,
he asked himself again and again, was the connection of the
criminal gang at Morris's with the proudest Earl in England?

Loge himself was a puzzle to Cleggett. The man was a
counterfeiter. That he knew. The "queer" twenty-dollar bill,
which he had practically acknowledged, left no doubt of that.
But he was more than a counterfeiter. Cleggett believed him to
be also an anarchist. At least he was associated with
anarchists.

But counterfeiting and anarchy are not ordinarily found together.
The anarchist is not a criminal in the more sordid sense. He is
the enemy of society as at present organized. He considers
society to be built on a thieving basis; he is not himself a
thief. He scorns and hates society, wishes to see it overturned,
and believes himself superior to it. He will commit the most
savage atrocities for the cause and cheerfully die for his
principles. The anarchist is not a crook. He is an idealist.

Convinced that the unpainted oblong box would furnish a clew to
the man's real personality, Cleggett, assisted by Lady Agatha and
Dr. Farnsworth, opened it in the cabin.

They first took out a number of plates, some broken, some intact,
for the manufacture of counterfeit notes of various
denominations. There was some of the fibrous paper used in this
process. There was a quantity of the apparatus essential to
engraving the plates. This stuff more than half filled the box.
Then there were a number of books.

"Elementary textbooks," said Dr. Farnsworth, glancing at them.
On the flyleaf of one of them was written in a bold, firm hand:
"Logan Black."

"Loge--or Logan Black," said Dr. Farnsworth, "has been giving
himself an education in the manufacture of high explosives."

"But THESE aren't textbooks," said Lady Agatha, who had pulled
out three long, narrow volumes from the pile. "They're in
manuscript, and they look more like account books."

The first of them, in Loge's handwriting, contained a series of
notes, mostly unintelligible to Cleggett, dealing with
experiments in two sorts of manufacture: first, the preparation
of counterfeit money; second, the production of dynamite bombs.

The second of the manuscript books was in cipher. Cleggett might
have deciphered it without assistance, for he was skilled in
these matters, but the labor was not necessary. The book was for
Loge's own eye. A loose sheet of paper folded between the leaves
gave the key.

The book showed that Loge had been employed as an expert
operator, in the pay of a certain radical organization, to pull
off dynamiting jobs in various parts of the country. This was
his account book with the organization. He had done his work and
taken his pay as methodically as a plumber might. And he had
been paid well. Cleggett guessed that Loge was not particularly
interested in the work in its relationship to the revolutionary
cause; it was the money to be made in this way, and not any
particular sympathy with his employers, which attracted Loge, so
Cleggett divined. Cleggett was astonished at the number of jobs
which Loge had engineered. The book threw light on mysterious
explosions which had occurred throughout a period of five years.

But it was the third manuscript book which displayed the real
Logan Black.

This was also in cipher. Dr. Farnsworth and Cleggett had
translated but a few lines of it when they perceived that it was
a diary. With a vanity almost inconceivable to those who have
not reflected upon the criminal nature, Loge had written here the
tale of his own life, for his own reading. He had written it in
loving detail. It was, in fact, the book in which he looked when
he wished to admire himself.

"It is odd," said Cleggett, "that so clever a man should write
down his own story in this way."

"This book," said Farnsworth, "would be a boon to a psychologist
interested in criminology. You say it is odd. But with a
certain type of criminal, it is almost usual. The human soul is
full of strange impulses. One of the strangest is towards just
this sort of record. Cunning, and the vanity which destroys
cunning, often exist side by side. The criminal of a certain
type almost worships himself; he is profoundly impressed with his
own cleverness. He is a braggart; he swaggers; he defeats
himself. A strange idiocy mingles with his cleverness."

"Even people who are not criminals do just that sort of thing,"
said Lady Agatha. "Look at Samuel Pepys. He was one of the most
timid of beings. And he valued his place in the world mightily.
But he wrote down the story of his own disgrace in his diary--it
had to come out of him! And then, timid and cautious as he was,
he did not destroy the book! He let it get out of his
possession."

It was an evil, a monstrous personality which leered out of Logan
Black's diary. Boastful of his own iniquity, swaggering in his
wickedness, fatuous with self-love, he recounted his deeds with
gusto and with particularity. They did not read a quarter of
this terrible autobiography at the time, but they read enough to
see the man in the process of building up a criminal organization
of his own, with ramifications of the most surprising nature.

"This man," said Dr. Farnsworth, with a shudder, "actually has
the ambition to be the head of nothing less than a crime trust."

"It seems to be something more than an ambition," said Cleggett.
"It seems to be almost an accomplished fact."

"Ugh!" said Lady Agatha, with a gesture of disgust, "he's like a
great horrid spider spinning webs!"

Interested in anarchy only on its practical side, as the paid
dynamiter of the inner circle of radicals, Logan Black in his
diary jeered at and mocked the cause he served. And more than
that, the man seemed to take a perverted pleasure in attaching to
himself young enthusiasts of the radical type, eager to follow
him as the disinterested leader of a group of Reds, and then
betraying them into the most sordid sort of crime. Cleggett
found--and could imagine the grimace of malevolent satisfaction
with which it had been written--this note:

Heinrich is about ready to leave off talking
his cant of universal brotherhood, and make a
little easy money in the way I have shown him.
It will be interesting to see what happens in
side of Heinrich when he realizes he is not an
idealist, but a criminal. Will he stick to me on
the new lay? But those Germans are so sentimental
--he may commit suicide.

Cleggett recalled the manhandling Heinrich had received. A
little farther along he came upon this entry:

The Italian-American boy is a find. Jones and
Giuseppe! Puritan father, Italian mother--and
he worships me! It will be a test for my personal
magnetism, the handling of Gieseppe Jones
will. He hates a thief worse than the devil hates
holy water. If I could make him steal for me, I
would know that I could do anything.

"That's our young poet in the forecastle!" said Cleggett. "I
wonder if Loge still held him." And then as the memory of the
boy's ravings came to him he mused: "Yes--he held the boy! That
is what the fellow meant in his delirium. Do you remember that
he kept saying: 'I'm a revolutionist, not a crook!'? And yet he
continued to obey Loge!"

"Is it not strange," said Lady Agatha, "that the man should take
such pride in working ruin?"

All three were silent for a space. And then they looked at each
other with a shiver. The sense of the strong and sinister
personality of Logan Black struck on their spirits like a bleak
wind.

Cleggett was the first to recover himself.

"God willing," he said solemnly, "I will bring that man to
justice personally!"

Just then two bells struck. It had taken them more time than
they had realized to make even a partial examination of the
contents of the box. Cleggett, when the bell sounded, looked at
his watch to see what time it was--he was still a little
unfamiliar with the nautical system.

"He will go to any length to get this back into his possession,"
said Cleggett, as he dumped the heap of incriminating evidence
back into the box and began to nail the boards on again.

"Any length," echoed the Doctor.

Pat upon the thought came the sound of taxicabs without. They
went on deck and saw a sinister procession rolling by. It
consisted of three machines, and there were three men in each
cab. Loge and Pierre were in the foremost one. None of the
company vouchsafed so much as a glance in the direction of the
Jasper B. as the cabs whirled past towards Morris's. It was
undoubtedly a reinforcement of gunmen.

"Ah!" said Cleggett, pointing to them. "The real battle is about
to begin! They are making ready for the attack!"

CHAPTER XIV

CLEGGETT STANDS BY HIS SHIP

Cleggett did not fear (or rather, expect, since there was very
little that Cleggett feared) an attack until well after
nightfall. Nevertheless, he began to prepare for it at once. He
called the entire ship's company aft, with the exception of Miss
Medley, who was on duty with Giuseppe Jones.

"My friends--for I hope we stand in the relation of friends as
well as that of commander and crew--I have every reason to expect
that the enemy will make a demonstration in force sometime during
the night," he said. "We have opposed to us the leader of a
dangerous and powerful criminal organization. He is, in fact,
the president of a crime trust. He will stop at nothing to
compass the destruction of the Jasper B. and all on board her.
My quarrel with him has become, in a sense, personal. I have no
right to ask you to share my risk unless you choose to do so
voluntarily. Therefore, if there is anyone of you who wishes to
leave the Jasper B., let him do it now."

Cleggett paused. But not a man moved. On the contrary, a little
murmur of something like reproach ran around the semicircle. The
ship's company looked in each other's eyes; they stood shifting
their feet uneasily.

Finally Cap'n Abernethy spoke, clearing his throat with a
prefatory hem:

"If you was to ask me, Mr. Cleggett," said the Captain, with less
than his usual circumlocution, "I'd say the boys here ain't
flattered by what you've just said. The boys here DOES consider
themselves friends of yours, and if you was anxious to hear my
opinion of it I'd say you've hurt their feelin's by your way of
putting it. Speakin' for myself, Mr. Cleggett, as the nautical
commander of this here ship to the military commander, I don't
mind owning up that MY feelin's is hurt."

"Aye, aye, sir," said George the Greek, addressing the nautical
commander, and the word went from lip to lip.

"Aye, aye, sir," said Dr. Farnsworth, "the Captain speaks for us
all."

And the Reverend Mr. Calthrop remarked with a sigh: "You may
have cause to doubt my circumspection, Mr. Cleggett, but you have
no cause to doubt my courage."

Cleggett was not the sort of man who is ashamed to acknowledge an
error. "Friends," he cried impulsively, "forgive me! I should
have known better than to phrase my remarks as I did. I would
not have hurt your feelings for worlds. I know you are devoted
to me. I call for volunteers for the perilous adventure which is
before us!"

The ship's company stepped forward as one man. As if by magic
the atmosphere cleared.

"Now," said Cleggett, smiling back on the enthusiastic faces
before him, but inexpressibly touched by the fineness of his
crew's devotion, "to get to the point. There are seven of us,
but there are at least a dozen of them. We have, however, the
advantage in position, for we can find cover on the ship, whereas
they must attack from the open. More than that, we will have the
advantage in arms; here is a magazine rifle for each of you,
while they, if I am not mistaken, will attack with pistols. We
must keep them at a distance, if possible. If they should
attempt to rush us we will meet them with cutlasses and sabers."

"Mr. Cleggett," said Lady Agatha, rising when he had finished,
and speaking with animation, "will you permit me to make a
suggestion?"

She went on, without waiting for an answer: "It is this: Choose
your own ground for this battle! The Jasper B. is now a
full-rigged schooner. Very well, then, sail her! At the moment
you are attacked, weigh anchor, fight your way to the mouth of
the canal, take up a position in the bay in front of Morris's
within easy rifle range and out of pistol shot, and compel the
place to surrender on your own terms!"

As the brilliance of this plan flashed upon her hearers, applause
ran around the room, and Kuroki, who spoke seldom, cried in
admiration:

"The Honorable Miss Englishman have hit her head on the nail!
Let there be some naval warfares!"

"You are right," cried Cleggett, catching fire with the idea, "a
hundred times right! And why wait to be attacked? Let us carry
the war to the enemy's coast. Crack all sail upon her!--Up with
the anchors! We will show these gentry that the blood of Drake,
Nelson, and Old Dave Farragut still runs red in the veins of
their countrymen!"

"Banzai!" cried Kuroki. "Also Honorable Admiral Togo's veins!"

A good breeze had sprung up out of the northwest while the
conference in the cabin was in progress.

Cleggett was relieved that it was not from the south. There is
not much room to maneuver a schooner in a canal, and a breeze
from the south might have sailed the Jasper B. backwards towards
Parker's Beach, which would undoubtedly have given the enemy the
idea that Cleggett was retreating. The Jasper B.'s bow was
pointed south, and Cleggett was naturally anxious that she should
sail south.

At the outset a slight difficulty presented itself with regard to
the anchors--for although, as has been explained before, the
Jasper B. was a remarkably stable vessel, Cleggett had had the
new anchors furnished by the contractor let down. Having the
anchors down seemed, somehow, to make things more shipshape. It
appeared that no one of the adventurers was acquainted with an
anchor song, and Cleggett, and, indeed, all on board, felt that
these anchors should be hoisted to the accompaniment of some
rousing chantey. Lady Agatha was especially insistent on the
point.

While they stood about the capstan debating the matter the
Reverend Simeon Calthrop hesitatingly offered a suggestion which
showed that, while he was a novice as far as the nautical life
was concerned, he was also a person of resource.

"How many of those present," inquired the young preacher, "know
'Onward Christian Soldiers'?"

All were acquainted with the hymn; the pastor grasped a capstan
bar and struck up the song in an agreeable tenor voice; they put
their backs into the work and their hearts into the song, and the
anchors of the Jasper B. came out of mud to the stirring notes of
"Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war!"

While they were so engaged the breeze strengthened perceptibly.
Looking towards the west, Cleggett perceived the sun sinking
below the horizon. A long, blue, low-lying bank of clouds seemed
to engulf it; for a moment the top of this cloud was shot through
with a golden color; then a mass of quicker moving, nearer vapors
from the north seemed to leap suddenly nearer still; to extend
itself at a bound over almost a third of the sky; in a breath the
day was gone; a storm threatened.

The rising wind made the task of getting the canvas on the poles
extraordinarily difficult. Cleggett was well aware that the
usual method of procedure, in the presence of a storm, is rather
to take in sail than to crack on; but, always the original, he
decided in this case to reverse the common custom. Ashore or at
sea, he never permitted himself to be the slave of
conventionalities. The Jasper B. had lain so long in one spot
that it would undoubtedly take more than a capful of wind to move
her. Cleggett did not know when he would get such a strong wind
again, coming from the right direction, and determined to make
the most of this one while he had it. Genius partly consists in
the acuteness which grasps opportunities.

From the struggles of Cap'n Abernethy and the crew with the
canvas, which he saw none too clearly through the increasing dusk
from his post at the wheel, Cleggett judged that the wind was
indeed strong enough for his purpose. Yards, sheets and sails
seemed to be acting in the most singular manner. He could not
remember reading of any parallel case in the treatises on
navigation which he had perused. Every now and then the Cap'n or
one of the crew would be jerked clean off his feet by some quick
and unexpected motion of a sail and flung into the water. When
this occurred the person who had been ducked crawled out on the
bank of the canal again and went on board by way of the
gangplank, returning stubbornly to his task.

The booms in particular were possessed of a restless and unstable
spirit. They made sudden swoops, sweeps, and dashes in all
directions. Sometimes as many as three of the crew of the Jasper
B. would be knocked to the deck or into the water by a boom at
the same time. But Cleggett noted with satisfaction that they
were plucky; they stuck valiantly to the job. A doubt assailed
Cleggett as to the competence of Cap'n Abernethy, but he was
loyal and fought it down.

Finally Cap'n Abernethy hit upon a novel and ingenious idea. He
tied stout lines to the ends of the booms. The other ends of
these ropes he ran through the eyes of a couple of spare anchors.
Taking the anchors ashore, he made them fast to the wooden
platform which was alongside the Jasper B. Then he took up the
slack in the lines, pulling them taut and fastening them tightly.

Thus the booms were held fast and stiff in position, and the crew
could get the canvas spread without being endangered by their
strange and unaccountable actions.

This brilliant idea of anchoring the booms to the land would not
have been practicable had it not been for a whimsical cessation
of the wind, a lull such as incident to the coming of spring
storms in these latitudes. While the wind was in abeyance the
men got the sails spread. Then the Captain untied the lines,
brought the spare anchors on board, knocked the gangplank loose
with a few blows of his ax, and waited for the wind to resume.

When the wind did blow again it came in a gust which was
accompanied by a twinkle of lightening over the whole sky and
grumble of thunder. A whirl of dust and fine gravel enveloped
the Jasper B. For a moment it was like a sandstorm. A few large
drops of water fell. The gust was violent; the sails filled with
it and struggled like kites to be free; here and there a strand
of rope snapped; the masts bent and creaked; the booms jumped and
swung round like live things; the whole ship from bowsprit to
rudder shook and trembled with the assault.

Cleggett, watchful at the wheel, prepared to turn her nose away
from the bank, but he was astonished to perceive that in spite of
her quaking and shivering the Jasper B. did not move one inch
forward from her position. He was prepared for a certain
stability on the part of the Jasper B., but not for quite so much
of it.

With the next gust the storm was on them in earnest. This blast
came with zigzag flashes of lightning that showed the heavens
riotous with battalions of charging clouds; it came with
deafening thunder and a torrential discharge of rain. One would
have thought the power of the wind sufficient to set a steel
battleship scudding before it like a wooden shoe. And yet the
extraordinary Jasper B., although she shrieked and groaned and
seemed to stagger with the force of the blow, did not move either
forward or sidewise.

She flinched, but she stood her ground.

Second by second the storm increased in fury; in a moment it was
no longer merely a storm, it was a tempest. Cleggett, alarmed
for the safety of his masts, now ordered his men to take in sail.

But even as he gave the order he realized that it could no longer
be done. A cloudburst, a hurricane, an electrical bombardment,
struck the Jasper B. all at once. One could not hear one's own
voice. In the glare of the lightning Cleggett saw the rigging
tossing in an indescribable confusion of canvas, spars, and
ropes. Both masts and the bowsprit snapped at almost the same
instant. The whole chaotic mass was lifted; it writhed in the
air a moment, and then it came crashing down, partly on the deck
and partly in the seething waters of the canal, where it lay and
whipped ship and water with lashing tentacles of wreckage.

But still the unusual Jasper B. had not moved from her position.

Cleggett's men had had warning enough to save themselves. They
gathered around him to wait for orders. More than one of them
cast anxious glances towards the land. Shouting to them to
attack the debris with axes, and setting the example himself,
Cleggett soon saw the deck clear again, and the Jasper B., to all
intents, the same hulk she had been when he bought her. But such
was the fury of the tempest that even with the big kites gone the
Jasper B. continued to shake and quiver where she lay. Speech
was almost impossible on deck, but Cap'n Abernethy signed to
Cleggett that he had something important to say to him.

The whole company adjourned to the cabin, and there, shouting to
make himself heard, the Cap'n cried out:

"Her timbers have been strained something terrible, Mr. Cleggett.

She ain't what I would call safe and seaworthy any more. The'
don't seem to be any danger of her sailin' off, but that's no
sign she can't be blowed over onto her beam ends and sunk with
all on board. If you was to ask me, Mr. Cleggett, I'd say the
time had come to leave the Jasper B. "

The anxiety depicted on the faces of the little circle about him
might have communicated itself to a less intrepid nature. The
old Cap'n himself was no coward. Indeed, in owning to his alarm
he had really done a brave thing, since few have the moral
courage to proclaim themselves afraid. But Cleggett was a man of
iron. Although the tempest smote the hulk with blow after blow,
although both earth and water seemed to lie prostrate and
trampled beneath its unappeasable fury, Cleggett had no thought
of yielding.

Unconsciously he drew himself up. It seemed to his crew that he
actually gained in girth and height. The soul, in certain great
moments, seems to have power to expand the body and inform it
with the quality of immortality; Ajax, in his magnificent gesture
of defiance, is all spirit. Cleggett, with his hand on his hip,
uttered these words, not without their sublimity:

"Whether the Jasper B. sinks or swims, her commander will share
her fate. I stay by my ship!"

CHAPTER XV

NIGHT, TEMPEST, LOVE AND BATTLE

And, indeed, if Cleggett had been of a mind to abandon the
vessel, he could scarcely have done so now. For his words were
no more than uttered when the sharp racket of a volley of pistol
shots ripped its way through the low-pitched roaring of the wind.

Loge had chosen the height of the storm to mask his approach. He
attacked with the tempest.

Without a word Cleggett put out the light in the cabin. His men
grasped their weapons and followed him to the deck. A flash of
lightning showed him, through the driving rain, the enemy rushing
towards the Jasper B., pistol in hand. They were scarcely sixty
yards away, and were firing as they came. Loge, a revolver in
one hand, and Cleggett's own sword cane in the other, was leading
the rush. Besides their firearms, each of Loge's men carried a
wicked-looking machete.

"Fire!" shouted Cleggett. "Let them have it, men!" And the
rifles blazed from the deck of the Jasper B. in a crashing
volley. Instantly the world was dark again; it was impossible to
determine whether the fire of the Jasper B. had taken effect.

"To the starboard bulwark," cried Cleggett, "and give them hell
with the next lightning flash!"

It came as he spoke, with its vivid glare showing to Cleggett the
enemy magnified to a portentous bigness against a background of
chaotic night. Two or three of them stood, leaning keenly
forward; several of the others had dropped to one knee; the rifle
discharge had checked the rush, and they also were waiting for
the lightning. Cleggett and his men threw a second volley at
this wavering silhouette of astonishment.

A cartridge jammed in the mechanism of Cleggett's gun. With an
oath he flung the weapon to the deck. A hand thrust another one
into his grasp, and Lady Agatha's voice said in his ear, "Take
this one--it's loaded."

"My God," said Cleggett, "I thought you were in the cabin!"

"Not I!" she cried, "I'm loading!"

Just then the lightning came again and showed her to him plainly.
Drenched, bare-armed, bareheaded, her hair down and rolling
backward in a rich wet mass, she knelt on the deck behind the
bulwark. Her eyes blazed with excitement, and there was a smile
upon her lips. Beside her was the zinc bucket half full of
cartridges. George tossed a rifle to her. She flung him back a
loaded one, and began methodically to fill the empty one with
cartridges.

"Agatha," shouted Cleggett, catching her by the wrist, "go to the
cabin at once--you will get yourself killed!"

"I'll do nothing of the sort!" she shouted.

"I love you!" cried Cleggett, beside himself with fear for her,
and scarcely knowing what his words were. "Do you hear--I love
you, and I won't have you killed!"

A bullet ripped its way through the bulwark, perforated the zinc
bucket, struck the gun which Lady Agatha was loading and knocked
it from her hands.

"Go to the cabin yourself!" she shouted in Cleggett's ear. "As
for me, I like it!"

"I tell you," shouted Cleggett, "I won't have you here--I won't
have you killed!"

He rose to his feet, and attempted to draw her out of danger.
She rose likewise and struggled with him in the dark. She
wrenched herself free, and in doing so flung him back against the
rail; it lightened again, and she screamed. Cleggett turned, and
with the next flash saw that one of the enemy, his face bloody
from the graze of a bullet across his forehead, and evidently
crazed with excitement of fight and storm, was leaping towards
the rail of the vessel.

Cleggett stooped to pick up a gun, but as he stooped the madman
vaulted over the bulwark and landed upon him, bearing him to the
deck. As he struggled to his feet Lady Agatha, who had grasped a
cutlass, cut the fellow down. The man fell back over the rail
with a cry.

For a long moment there was one continuous electric flash from
horizon to horizon, and Cleggett saw her, with windblown hair and
wide eyes and parted lips, standing poised with the red blade in
her hand beneath the driving clouds, the figure of an antique
goddess.

The next instant all was dark; her arms were around his neck in
the rain. "Oh, Clement," she sobbed, "I've killed a man! I've
killed a man!"

CHAPTER XVI

ROMANCE REGNANT

Cleggett kissed her. . . .

CHAPTER XVII

MISS PRINGLE CALLS ON MR. CLEGGETT

But the rushing onset of events struck them apart. Out of the
night leaped danger, enhancing love and forbidding it. From the
starboard bow Captain Abernethy shrilled a cry of warning, and
the heavy, bellowing voice of Loge shouted an answer of challenge
and ferocity. The wind had fallen, but the lightning played from
the clouds now almost without intermission. Cleggett saw Loge
and his followers, machete in hand, flinging themselves at the
rail. They lifted a hoarse cheer as they came. The fire from
the Jasper B. had checked the assault temporarily; it had not
broken it up; once they found lodgment on the deck the superior
numbers of Loge's crowd must inevitably tell.

Loge was a dozen feet in advance of his men. He had cast aside
the light sword which belonged to Cleggett, and now swung a grim
machete in his hand. Cleggett flung down his gun, grasped a
cutlass, and sprang forward, his one idea to come to close
quarters with that gigantic figure of rage and power.

But before Loge reached the bulwark on one side, and while
Cleggett was bounding toward him on the other, this on-coming
group of Cleggett's foes were suddenly smitten in the rear as if
by a thunderbolt. Out of the night and storm, mad with terror,
screaming like fiends, with distended nostrils and flying manes
and flailing hoofs, there plunged into the midst of the
assaulting party a pair of snow-white horses--astounding,
felling, trampling, scattering, filling them with confusion. A
rocking carriage leaped and bounded behind the furious animals,
and as the horses struck the bulwark and swerved aside, its
weight and bulk, hurled like a missile among Cleggett's staggered
and struggling enemies, completed and confirmed their panic.

No troops on earth can stand the shock of a cavalry charge in the
rear and flank; few can face surprise; the boarding party,
convinced that they had fallen into a trap, melted away. One
moment they were sweeping forward, vicious and formidable,
confident of victory; the next they were floundering weaponless,
scrambling anyhow for safety, multiplying and transforming, with
the quick imagination of panic terror, these two horses into a
troop of mounted men.

This sudden and almost spectral apparition of galloping steeds
and flying carriage, hurled upon the vessel out of the tempest,
flung, a piece of whirling chaos, from the chaotic skies, had
almost as startling an effect upon the defenders. For a moment
they paused, with weapons uplifted, and stared. Where an enemy
had been, there was nothing. So doubtful Greeks or Trojans might
have paused and stared upon the plains of Ilion when some
splenetic and fickle deity burst unannounced and overwhelming
into the central clamor of the battle.

But it is in these seconds of pause and doubt that great
commanders assert themselves; it is these electric seconds from
which the hero gathers his vital lightning and forges his mordant
bolt. Genius claims and rules these instants, and the gods are
on the side of those who boldly grasp loose wisdom and bind it
into sheaves of judgment. Cleggett (whom Homer would have loved)
was the first to recover his poise. He came to his decision
instantaneously. A lesser man might have lost all by rushing
after his retreating enemies; a lesser man, carried away by
excitement, would have pursued. Cleggett did not relax his grasp
upon the situation, he restrained his ardor.

"Stand firm, men! Do not leave the ship," he shouted. "The day
is ours!"

And then, turning to Captain Abernethy, he cried:

"We have routed them!"

"Look at them crazy horses!" screamed the Captain in reply.

The animals were rearing and struggling among the ruins of the
broken gangplank. As the Captain spoke, they plunged aboard the
ship, and the carriage, bounding after them, overturned on the
deck--horses and carriage came down together in a welter of
splintering wheels and broken harness and crashing wood.

A negro driver, whom Cleggett now noticed for the first time,
shot clear of the mass and landed on the deck in a sitting
posture.

For a moment, there he sat, and did nothing more. The pole broke
loose from the carriage, the traces parted, and the two big white
horses, still kicking and plunging, struggled to their feet and
free from the wreckage. Still side by side they leaped the port
bulwark, splashed into the canal, and swam straight across it, as
if animated with the instinct of going straight ahead in that
fashion to the end of the world. Cleggett never saw or heard of
them again.

"Bring a lantern," said Cleggett to Abernethy. "Let's see if this
man is badly hurt."

But the negro was not injured. He rose to his feet as the
Captain brought the light--the storm was now subsiding, and the
lightning was less frequent--and stood revealed as a person of
surprising size and unusual blackness. He was, in fact, so black
that it was no wonder that Cleggett had not seen him on the seat
of the carriage, for unless one turned a light full upon him his
face could not be seen at all after dark. He was in a blue
livery, and his high, cockaded coachman's hat had stayed on his
head in spite of everything.

Even sitting down on the deck he had possessed an air of
patience. When he arose and the Captain flashed the light upon
his face, it revealed a countenance full of dignified good humor.

"Where did you come from?" asked Cleggett.

The negro removed the hat with the cockade before answering. He
did it politely. Even ceremoniously. But he did not do it
hastily. He had the air of one who was never inclined to do
things hastily.

"From Newahk, sah," he said. "Newahk, New Jehsey, sah."

"But who are you?" said Cleggett. "How did you get here?"

The negro was gazing reflectively at the broken carriage.

"Ah yo' Mistah Cleggett, sah? Mistah Clement J. Cleggett, sah,
the ownah of dis hyeah boat?"

"Yes."

The negro fumbled in an inner pocket and produced a card. He
gave it to Cleggett with a deferential bow, and then announced
sonorously:

"Miss Genevieve Pringle, sah--in de cah-age, sah--a callin' on
Mistah Clement J. Cleggett."

He completed the announcement with a dignified and courtly
gesture, which seemed to indicate that he was presenting the
ruined carriage itself to Cleggett.

"You don't mean in that carriage?" cried Cleggett.

"Yes, sah," said the negro. "Leas'ways, she was, sah, some time
back. Mah time an' mah 'tention done been so tooken up wif dem
incompatible hosses fo' some moments past, sah, dat I cain't say
fo' suah ef she adheahed, or ef she didn't adheah."

He glanced speculatively at the carriage again. Cleggett sprang
towards the broken vehicle, expecting to find someone seriously
injured at the very least. But, from the ruin, a precise and
high-pitched feminine voice piped out:

"Jefferson! Kindly assist me to disentangle myself!"

"Yassum," said the negro, moving forward in a leisurely and
dignified manner, "comin', ma'am. I hopes an' trusts, Miss
Pringle, ma'am, yo' ain't suffered none in yo' anatomy an'
phlebotomy from dis hyeah runaway."

With which cheerful wish Jefferson lifted respectfully, and with
a certain calm detachment, the figure of a woman from the debris.

"Thank you, Jefferson," she said. "I fear I am very much bruised
and shaken, but I have been feeling all my bones while lying
there, and I believe that I have sustained no fractures."

Miss Pringle was a woman of about fifty, small and prim. Prim
with an unconquerable primness that neither storm nor battle nor
accident could shake. If she had been killed in the runaway she
would have looked prim in death while awaiting the undertaker.
She must have been wet almost to those unfractured bones which
she had been feeling; her black silk dress, with its white
ruching about the neck, was torn and bedraggled; her black hat,
with its jet ornaments, was crushed and hung askew over one ear;
nevertheless, Miss Pringle conveyed at once and definitely an
impression of unassailable respectability and strong character.

"Which of you is Mr. Cleggett?" she asked, looking about her, in
the lantern light, at the crew of the Jasper B., as she leaned
upon the arm of Jefferson, her mannerly and deliberate servitor.

"I am Mr. Cleggett."

"Ah!" Miss Pringle inspected him with an eye which gleamed with
a hint of latent possibilities of belligerency. "Mr. Cleggett,"
she continued, pursing her lips, "I have sought an interview to
warn you that you are harboring an impostor on your ship."

At that moment Lady Agatha joined the group. As the light fell
upon her Miss Pringle stepped forward and thrust an accusing, a
denunciatory finger at the Englishwoman.

"You," she said, "call yourself Lady Agatha Fairhaven!"

"I do," said Lady Agatha.

"Woman!" cried Miss Pringle, shaking with the stress of her moral
wrath. "Where are my plum preserves?"

And with this cryptic utterance the little lady, having come to
the end of her strength, primly fainted.

Jefferson picked her up and carried her, in a serene and stately
manner, to the cabin.

CHAPTER XVIII

THE MAN IN THE BLUE PAJAMAS

The rain had ceased almost as Miss Pringle was removed to the
cabin. The storm had passed. Low down on the edges of the world
there were still a few dark clouds, there was still an occasional
glimmer of lightning; but overhead the mists were fleecy, light
and broken. A few stars were visible here and there.

And then in a moment more a full moon rose high and serene above
the world. The May moon is often very brilliant in these
latitudes, as sailors who are familiar with the coasts of Long
Island can testify. This moon was unusually brilliant, even for
the season of the year and the quarter of the globe. It lighted
up earth and sky so that it was (in the familiar phrase) almost
possible to read by it. Only a few moments had elapsed since the
rout of Logan Black's ruffians, but in the vicinity of this
remarkable island such sudden meteorological changes are anything
but rare, geographers and travelers know.

Lady Agatha had gone into the cabin to resuscitate Miss Pringle
and, as she said, "have it out with her." Cleggett, gazing from
the deck towards Morris's, in the strong moonlight, wondered when
the attack would be renewed. He thought, on the whole, that it
was improbable that Loge would return to the assault while this
brightness continued.

Suddenly three figures appeared within his range of vision. They
were running. But running slowly, painfully, lamely. In the
lead were the two men whom he had first seen hazed up and down
the bank of the canal by Wilton Barnstable, and whom he had seen
the second time chained in the great detective's boat.

They were shackled wrist to wrist now. To the left leg of one of
them was attached a heavy ball. A similar ball was attached to
the right leg of the other. They had picked these balls up and
were struggling along under their weight at a gait which was more
like a staggering walk than a trot.

They were pursued by the man whom Cleggett had seen attempt to
escape from Morris's. This man still wore his suit of baby blue
pajamas.

He wore nothing else. He was stiff. He moved as if the ground
hurt his bare feet.

He especially favored, as Cleggett noticed, the foot on which
there was a bunion. He was lame. He crept rather than ran. But
he seemed bitterly intent upon reaching the two men in irons who
labored along twenty or thirty feet ahead of him. And they, on
their part, casting now and then backward glances over their
shoulders at their pursuer.

Cleggett divined that the men in irons had escaped from the
Annabel Lee, and that the man in the baby blue pajamas was loose
from Morris's. But why the man in the pajamas pursued and the
others fled he could not guess.

They passed within fifty yards of the Jasper B. But the men in
irons were so intent upon their own troubles, and the pursuer was
so keen on vengeance, that none of them noticed the vessel. As
they limped along, splashing through the pools the rain had left,
the pursuer would occasionally pause to fling stones and sticks
and even cakes of mud at the fugitives, who were whimpering as
they tottered forward.

The man in the baby blue pajamas was cursing in a high-pitched,
nasal, querulous voice. Cleggett noticed with astonishment that
a single-barreled eyeglass was screwed into one of his eyes.
Occasionally it dropped to the ground, and he would stop and
fumble for it and wipe it on his wet sleeve and replace it. Had
it not been for these stops he would have overtaken the men in
irons.

"Clement!" Lady Agatha laid her hand upon his arm. "Miss Pringle
wants to see you in the cabin."

"Well--imposter!" laughed Cleggett. "Is she able to talk to you
yet? And what on earth did she mean by her plum preserves?"

"That is what she wants to tell, evidently," said Lady Agatha.
And she went aft with him.

Miss Pringle, who had been rubbed dry by Lady Agatha, and was now
dressed in some articles of that lady's clothing, which were much
too large for her, sat on the edge of the bed in Lady Agatha's
stateroom and awaited them. Her appearance was scarcely
conventional, and she seemed to feel it; nevertheless, she had a
duty to perform, and her innate propriety still triumphed over
her situation and habiliments.

"Mr. Cleggett," she said, pointing to the box which contained the
evidence against Logan Black, which was exactly similar to the
box of Reginald Maltravers, and which had been placed in this
inner room for safe-keeping, "what does that box contain?"

Cleggett was startled. He and Lady Agatha exchanged glances.

"What do you think it contains?" he asked.

"That box," she said, "was shipped to me from Flatbush, and was
claimed in my name--in the name of Genevieve Pringle--at the
freight depot at Newark, New Jersey, by this lady here. Deny it
if you can!"

"I do deny it, Miss Pringle," said Lady Agatha, accompanying her
words with a winsome smile. But Miss Pringle was not to be won
over so easily as all that; she met the smile with a look of
steady reprobation. And then she turned to Cleggett again.

"Mr. Cleggett," she said, "my birthday occurred a few days ago.
It was--I have nothing to conceal, Mr. Cleggett--it was my
forty-ninth birthday. Every year, for many years past, a niece
of mine who lives in Flatbush sends me on my birthday a box of
plum preserves.

"These preserves have for me, Mr. Cleggett, a value that they
would not possess for anyone else; a value far above their
intrinsic or, as one might say, culinary value. They have a
sentimental value as well. I was born in Flatbush, and lived
there, during my youth, on my father's estate. The city has
since grown around the old place, which my niece now owns, but
the plum trees stand as they have stood for more than fifty
years. It was beneath these plum trees. . . ."

Miss Pringle suddenly broke off; her face twitched; she felt for
a handkerchief, and found none; she wiped her eyes on her sleeve.

In another person this action might have appeared somewhat
careless, but Miss Pringle, by the force of her character,
managed to invest it with propriety and dignity; looking at her,
one felt that to wipe one's eyes on one's sleeve was quite proper
when done by the proper person.

"I will conceal nothing, Mr. Cleggett. It was under these plum
trees that I once received an offer of marriage from a worthy
young man. It was from one of these plum trees that he later
fell, injuring himself so that he died. You can understand what
these plum trees mean to me, perhaps?"

Lady Agatha impulsively sat down beside the elder woman and put
her arm about her. But Miss Pringle stiffly moved away. After a
moment she continued:

"The preserved plums, as I have said, are sent me every year on
my birthday. This year, when I received from my niece a
notification that they had been shipped, I called for the box
personally at the freight office.

"What was my astonishment to learn that the box had been claimed
in my name, not a quarter of an hour before, and taken away.

"I obtained a description of the person who had represented
herself as Miss Genevieve Pringle, and of the vehicle in which
she had carried off my box. And I followed her. The paltriness
of the theft revolted me, Mr. Cleggett, and I determined to bring
this person to justice.

"The fugitive, with my plum preserves in her possession, had
left, goodness knows, a broad enough trail. I found but little
difficulty in following in my family carriage. In fact, Mr.
Cleggett, I discovered the very chauffeur who had deposited her
here with the box. Inquiries in Fairport gave me your name as
the owner of this lighter."

"Lighter!" interrupted Cleggett. "The Jasper B., madam, is not
a lighter."

"I beg your pardon," said Miss Pringle. "But what sort of vessel
is it then?"

"The Jasper B.," said Cleggett, with a touch of asperity, "is a
schooner, madam."

"I intended no offense, Mr. Cleggett. I am quite willing to
believe that the vessel is a schooner, since you say that it is.
I am not informed concerning nautical affairs. But, to
conclude--I discovered from the chauffeur that this lady, calling
herself Lady Agatha Fairhaven, had been deposited here, with my
box. I learned yesterday, after inquiries in Fairport, that you
were the owner of this vessel. The real estate person from whom
you purchased it assured me that you were financially
responsible. I came to expose this imposter and to recover my
box. On my way hither I was caught in the storm. The runaway
occurred, and you know the rest."

Miss Pringle, during this recital, had not deigned to favor Lady
Agatha with a look. Lady Agatha, on her part, after the rebuff
which she had received, had sat in smiling silence.

"Miss Pringle," she said, pleasantly but seriously, when the
other woman had finished, "first I must convince you that this
box does not contain your plum preserves, and then I will tell
you my story."

With Cleggett's assistance Lady Agatha removed the cover from the
oblong box, and showed her its contents.

"That explains nothing," said Miss Pringle, dryly. "Of course
you would remove the plum preserves to a place of safety."

"Miss Pringle," said Lady Agatha, "I will tell you everything. I
DID claim a box in your name at the railway goods station in
Newark--and if there had been nothing in it but plum preserves,
how happy I should be! I beg of you, Miss Pringle, to give me
your attention."

And Lady Agatha began to relate to Miss Pringle the same story
which she had told to Cleggett. At the first word indicative of
the fact the Lady Agatha had suffered for the cause of votes for
women, a change took place in the expression of Miss Pringle's
countenance. Cleggett thought she was about to speak. But she
did not. Nevertheless, although she listened intently, some of
her rigidity had gone. When Lady Agatha had finished Miss
Pringle said:

"I suppose that you can prove that you are really Lady Agatha
Fairhaven?"

For answer Lady Agatha went to one of her trunks and opened it.
She drew therefrom a letter, and passed it over without a word.

As Miss Pringle read it, her face lighted up. She did not lose
her primness, but her suspicion seemed altogether to depart.

"A letter from Emmeline Pankhurst!" she said, in a hushed voice,
handling the missive as if it were a sacred relic. "Can you ever
forgive me?"

"There is nothing to forgive," beamed Lady Agatha. "I am willing
to admit, now that you understand me, that the thing looked a bit
suspicious, on the face of it."

"You have suffered for the cause," said Miss Pringle. "I have
suffered for it, too!" And, with a certain shyness, she patted
Lady Agatha on the arm. But the next moment she said:

"But what IS in the box you brought here then, Lady Agatha? Two
boxes were shipped to Newark, addressed to me. Which one did you
get? What is really in the one you have been carrying around?
My plum preserves, or----"

She shuddered and left the sentence unfinished.

"Let us open it," said Cleggett.

"No! No!" cried Lady Agatha. "Clement, no! I could not bear to
have it opened."

Miss Pringle rose. It was evident that a bit of her earlier
suspicion had returned.

"After all," said Miss Pringle, indicating the letter again, "how
do I know that----"

"That it is not a forgery?" said Lady Agatha. "I see." She mused
a moment, and then said, with a sigh, "Well, then, let us open
the box!"

"I think it best, Agatha," said Cleggett. "I shall have it
brought down."

But even as he turned upon his heel to go on deck and give the
order, Dr. Farnsworth and the Rev. Simeon Calthrop ran excitedly
down the cabin companionway.

"The box of Reginald Maltravers," cried the Doctor, who was in
Cleggett's confidence, "is gone!"

CHAPTER XIX

TWO GREAT MEN MEET

"Gone!" Lady Agatha, who had emerged from her stateroom, turned
pale and caught at her heart.

They rushed on deck. The young Doctor was right; the box, which
had stood on the larboard side of the cabin, had disappeared.

"It might have been blown into the canal during the storm,"
suggested the Rev. Mr. Calthrop. All of the crew of the Jasper
B. knew Lady Agatha's story, and were aware of the importance of
the box.

"It was on the lee side of the cabin," objected Dr. Farnsworth,
"and while it might have been blown flat to the deck, in spite of
its protected position, it would scarcely have been picked up by
the wind again and wafted over the port bulwarks."

"If you was to ask me," said Cap'n Abernethy, who had joined in
the discussion, "I'd give it as MY opinion it's a good riddance
of bad rubbish."

"Rubbish?" said Miss Pringle. "Rubbish, indeed! I am confident
that that box contained my plum preserves!"

"It has been stolen!" cried Cleggett, with conviction. "Fool
that I was, not to have taken it into the cabin!"

"But, if you had, you know," said Lady Agatha, "one would
scarcely have cared to stay in there with it."

"Loge has outgeneraled me," murmured Cleggett, well-nigh frantic
with self-reproach. "While he made the attack in front, he sent
some of his men to the rear of the vessel and it was quietly made
off with while we were fighting." Had the disappearance of the
box concerned himself alone Cleggett's sense of disaster might
have been less poignant. But the thought that his own
carelessness had enabled the enemy to get possession of a thing
likely to involve Lady Agatha in further trouble was nearly
insupportable. He gritted his teeth and clenched his hands in
impotent rage.

"No doubt Loge caught sight of it during the early part of the
skirmish, by a flash of lightning," said Dr. Farnsworth, "and
acted as you suggest, Mr. Cleggett. But does he believe it to be
the box which contains the evidence against him? Or can he, by
any chance, be aware of its real contents?"

"No matter which," groaned Cleggett, "no matter which! For when
he opens it, he will learn what is in it. Don't you see that he
has us now? If he offers to trade it back to us for the other
oblong box, how can I refuse? If we have his secret, Loge has
ours!"

But Dr. Farnsworth was not listening. He had suddenly leaned
over the port rail and was staring down the canal. The others
followed his gaze.

The house boat Annabel Lee, they perceived, had got under weigh,
and was slowly approaching the Jasper B. in the moonlight. They
watched her gradual approach in silence. She stopped within a
few yards of the Jasper B., and a voice which Cleggett recognized
as that of Wilton Barnstable, the great detective, sang out:

"Jasper B., ahoy!"

"Aye, aye!" shouted Cleggett.

"Is Mr. Cleggett on board?"

"He is speaking."

"Mr. Cleggett, have you lost anything from your canal boat?"

Cleggett did not answer, and for a moment he did not move. Then,
tightening his sword belt, and cocking his hat a trifle, he
climbed over the starboard rail and walked along the bank of the
canal a few yards until he was opposite the Annabel Lee. The
great detective, on his part, also stepped ashore. They stood and
faced each other in the moonlight, silently, and their followers,
also in silence, gathered in the bows of the respective vessels
and watched them.

Finally, Cleggett, with one hand on his hip, and standing with
his feet wide apart, said very incisively:

"Sir, the Jasper B. is NOT a canal boat."

"Eh?" Wilton Barnstable started at the emphasis.

"The Jasper B.," pursued Cleggett, staring steadily at Wilton
Barnstable, "is a schooner."

"Ah!" said the other. "Indeed?"

"A schooner," repeated Cleggett, "indeed, sir! Indeed, sir, a
schooner!"

There was another silence, in which neither man would look aside;
they held each other with their eyes; the nervous strain
communicated itself to the crews of the two vessels. At last,
however, the detective, although he did not lower his gaze, and
although he strove to give his new attitude an effect of ease and
jauntiness by twisting the end of his mustache as he spoke, said
to Cleggett:

"A schooner, then, Mr. Cleggett, a schooner! No offense, I
hope?"

"None at all," said Cleggett, heartily enough, now that the point
had been established. And the tension relaxed on both ships.

"You have lost an oblong box, Mr. Cleggett." The great detective
affirmed it rather than interrogated.

"How did you know that?"

The other laughed. "We know a great many things--it is our
business to know things," he said. Then he dropped his voice to a
whisper, and said rapidly, "Mr. Cleggett, do you know who I am?"
Before Cleggett could reply he continued, "Brace yourself--do not
make an outcry when I tell you who I am. I am Wilton
Barnstable."

"I knew you," said Cleggett. The other appeared disappointed for
a moment. And then he inquired anxiously, "How did you know me?"

"Why, from your pictures in the magazines," said Cleggett.

The detective brightened perceptibly. "Ah, yes--the magazines!
Yes, yes, indeed! publicity is unavoidable, unavoidable, Mr.
Cleggett! But this box, now----"

The great detective interrupted himself to laugh again, a trifle
complacently, Cleggett thought.

"I will not mystify you, Mr. Cleggett, about the box.
Mystification is one of the tricks of the older schools of
detection. I never practice it, Mr. Cleggett. With me, the
detection of crime is a business--yes, a business. I will tell
you presently how the box came into my possession."

"It IS in your possession?" Cleggett felt a dull pang of the
heart. If the box of Reginal Maltravers were in the hands of
Logan Black he could at least trade the other oblong box to Loge
for it, and thus save Lady Agatha. But in the possession of
Wilton Barnstable, the great detective----! Cleggett pulled
himself together; he thought rapidly; he recognized that the
situation called, above all things else, for diplomacy and
adroitness. He went on, nonchalantly:

"I suppose you are aware of the contents of the box?"

The other laughed again as if Cleggett had made an excellent
jest; there was something urbane and benign in his manner; it
appeared as if he regarded the contents of the box of Reginald
Maltravers as anything but serious; his tone puzzled Cleggett.

"Suppose I bring the box on board the Jasper B.," suggested the
great detective. "It interests me, that box. I have no doubt it
has its story. And perhaps, while you are telling me some things
about it, I may be able to give you some information in turn."

There was no mistaking the fact that the man, whether genuinely
friendly or no, wished to appear so.

"Have it brought into my cabin," said Cleggett, "and we will
discuss it."

A few minutes later Wilton Barnstable, Cleggett, Lady Agatha,
Miss Pringle, and two of Wilton Barnstable's men sat in the cabin
of the Jasper B., with the two oblong boxes before them--the one
which had contained Loge's incriminating diary, and the one which
had caused Lady Agatha so much trouble.

In the light of the cabin the three detectives were revealed as
startlingly alike. Barton Ward and Watson Bard, Barnstable's two
assistants, might, indeed, almost have been taken for Barnstable
himself, at a casual glance. In height, in bulk, in dress, in
facial expression, they seemed Wilton Barnstable all over again.
But, looking intently at the three men, Cleggett began to
perceive a difference between the real Wilton Barnstable and his
two counterfeits. It was the difference between the face which is
informed of genius, and the countenance which is indicative of
mere talent.

"Mr. Cleggett," began Wilton Barnstable, "as I said before, I
will make no attempt to mystify you. I was a witness to the
attack upon your vessel. Mr. Ward, Mr. Bard, and myself, in fact,
had determined to assist you, had we seen that the combat was
going against you. We lay, during the struggle, in the lee of
your--your--er, schooner!--in the lee of your schooner, armed,
and ready to bear a hand. We have our own little matter to
settle with Logan Black. Why Logan Black should desire
possession of this particular box, I am unable to state.
Nevertheless, at the moment when he was leading his assault upon
your starboard bow, two of his men, who had made a detour to the
stern of your vessel, had clambered stealthily aboard, and were
quietly pushing the box over the side into the canal. They let
themselves down into the water, and swam towards the mouth of the
canal, pushing it ahead of them. We followed in our rowboat, Mr.
Ward, Mr. Bard, and myself, at a discreet distance. We let them
push the box as far south as the Annabel Lee. And then----"

He paused a moment, and smiled reminiscently. Barton Ward and
Watson Bard also smiled reminiscently, and the three detectives
exchanged crafty glances.

"Then, to be brief, we took the box away from them. They were so
ill-advised as to struggle. They are in irons, now, on board the
Annabel Lee.

"But what I cannot understand, Mr. Cleggett, is why these men
should risk so much to make off with an empty box."

"An empty box!" cried Cleggett.

"Empty!" echoed Lady Agatha and Miss Pringle, in concert.

The detective wrenched the cover from the box of Reginald
Maltravers.

"Practically empty, at any rate," he said.

And, indeed, except for a few wads of wet excelsior, there was
nothing in the box of Reginald Maltravers.

"Where, then," cried Lady Agatha, "is Reginald Maltravers?"

"Where, indeed," said Wilton Barnstable, "is Reginald
Maltravers?"

"Where, then," cried Miss Pringle, "are my plum preserves?"

"Where, indeed?" repeated Wilton Barnstable. And Barton Ward and
Watson Bard, although they did not speak aloud, stroked their
mustaches and their lips formed the ejaculation, "Where, indeed?"

"We will tell you everything," said Cleggett. And beginning with
his purchase of the Jasper B. he recounted rapidly, but with
sufficient detail, all the facts with which the reader is already
familiar, weaving into his story the tale of Lady Agatha and the
adventures of Miss Pringle. Wilton Barnstable listened
attentively. So did Barton Ward and Watson Bard. The benign
smile which was so characteristic of Wilton Barnstable never left
the three faces, but it was evident to Cleggett that these
trained intelligences grasped and weighed and ticketed every
detail.

While Cleggett narrates, and Wilton Barnstable and his men
listen, a word to the reader concerning this great detective.

CHAPTER XX

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL DETECTIVE

Wilton Barnstable was the inventor of a new school of detection
of crime. The system came in with him, and it may go out with
him for lack of a man of his genius to perpetuate it. He
insisted that there was nothing spectacular or romantic in the
pursuit of the criminal, or, at least, that there should be
nothing of the sort. And he was especially disgusted when anyone
referred to him as "a second Sherlock Holmes."

"I am only a plain business man," he would insist, urbanely, with
a wave of his hand. "I have merely brought order, method,
system, business principles, logic, to the detection of crime. I
know nothing of romance. Romance is usually all nonsense in my
estimation. The real detective, who gets results in real life,
is NOT a Sherlock Holmes."

The enemies of Wilton Barnstable sometimes said of him that he
was jealous of Sherlock Holmes. When this was reported to
Barnstable he invariably remarked: "How preposterous! The idea
of a man being envious of a literary creation!"

Perhaps his denial of the existence of romance was merely one of
those poses which geniuses so often permit themselves. Perhaps
he saw it and was thrilled with it even while he denied it. At
any rate, he lived in the midst of it. The realism which was his
metier was that sort of realism into which are woven facts and
incidents of the most bizarre and startling nature.

And, certainly, behind the light blue eyes that could look with
such apparent ingenuousness out of his plump, bland face there
was the subtle mind of a psychologist. Barnstable, true to his
attitude of the plain business man, would have been the first to
ridicule the idea publicly if anyone had dubbed him "the
psychological detective." That, to his mind, would have savored
of charlatanism. He would have said: "I am nothing so strange
and mystifying as that--I am a plain business man." But in
reality there was no new discovery of the investigating
psychologists of which he did not avail himself at once. His
ability to clothe himself with the thoughts of the criminal as an
actor clothes himself with a role, was marvelous; he knew the
criminal soul. That is to say, he knew the human soul. He
refused to see anything extraordinary in this. "It is only my
business to know such things," he would say. "We know many
things. It is our business to know them. There is no miracle
about it." This was the public character he had created for
himself, and emphasized--that of the plain business man. This
was his mask. He was so subtle that he hid the vast range of his
powers behind an appearance of commonplaceness.

Wilton Barnstable never disguised himself, in the ordinary sense
of the term. That is, he never resorted to false whiskers or
wigs or obvious tricks of that sort.

But if Wilton Barnstable were to walk into a convention of
blacksmiths, let us say, he would quite escape attention. For
before he had been ten minutes in that gathering he would become,
to all appearances, the typical blacksmith. If he were to enter
a gathering of bankers, or barbers, or bakers, or organ grinders,
or stockbrokers, or school-teachers, a similar thing would
happen. He could make himself the composite photograph of all
the individuals of any group. He disguised himself from the
inside out.

This art of becoming inconspicuous was one of his greatest assets
as a detective. Newspaper and magazine writers would have liked
to dwell upon it. But he requested them not to emphasize it. As
he modestly narrated his triumphs to the young journalists, who
hung breathless upon his words, he was careful not to stress his
talent for becoming just like anybody and everybody else--his
peculiar genius for being the average man.

The front which he presented to the world was, in reality, his
cleverest creation. The magazine and newspaper articles which
were written about him, the many pictures which were printed
every month, presented the mental and physical portrait of a
knowing, bustling, extraordinarily candid personality. A
personality with a touch of smugness in it. This was very
generally thought to be the real Wilton Barnstable. It was a
fiction which he had succeeded in establishing. When he
addressed meetings, talked with reporters, wrote articles about
himself, or came into touch with the public in any manner, he
assumed this personality. When he did not wish to be known he
laid it aside. When he desired to pass incognito, therefore, it
was not necessary for him to assume a disguise. He simply
dropped one.

The two men with him, Barton Ward and Watson Bard, were his
cleverest agents. They were learning from the master detective
the art of looking like other people, and were at present
practicing by looking like the popular conception of Wilton
Barnstable. They were clever men. But Barton Ward and Watson
Bard were, as Cleggett had felt at once, only men of
extraordinary talent, while Wilton Barnstable was a genius.

As Cleggett talked he was given a rather startling proof of
Wilton Barnstable's gift. He was astonished to find a change
stealing over Wilton Barnstable's features. Subtly the detective
began to look like someone else. The expression of the face, the
turn of the eyes, the lines about the mouth, began to suggest
someone whom Cleggett knew. It was rather a suggestion, an
impression, than a likeness; it was rather the spirit of a
personality than a definite resemblance. It was a psychic thing.
Barnstable was disguising himself from the inside out; he had
assumed the mental and spiritual clothing of someone else.

Cleggett could not think at first who it was that Wilton
Barnstable suggested. But presently he saw that it was himself.
He glanced at Barton Ward and Watson Bard; they still resembled
the popular conception of Wilton Barnstable.

Gradually the look of Cleggett faded from Wilton Barnstable's
face. It changed, it shifted, that look did; Cleggett almost
cried out as he saw the face of Wilton Barnstable become an
impressionistic portrait of the soul of Logan Black. He looked
at Barton Ward. Barton Ward was now looking like Wilton
Barnstable's conception of Cleggett. But Watson Bard, less
facile and less creative, still clung stolidly to the popular
conception of Wilton Barnstable.

But, even as Cleggett looked, this remarkable exhibition ceased;
the Wilton Barnstable look dominated the faces again. Plump, yet
dignified, smiling easily and kindly, three plain business men
looked at him; respectable citizens, commonplace citizens, a
little smug; faces that spoke of comfort, method, regularity;
eyes that seemed to wink with the pressure of platitudes in the
minds behind them; platitudes that desired to force their way to
the lips and out into the world.

Yes, such was the genius of Wilton Barnstable that he could at
will impose himself upon people as the apotheosis of the
commonplace. He did it often. It was almost second nature to
him now. His urbane smile was the only visible sign of his own
enjoyment of this habitual feat. He knew his own genius, and
smiled to think how easy it was to pass for an average man!

CHAPTER XXI

THE THIRD OBLONG BOX ARRIVES

"I think," said Wilton Barnstable, when Cleggett had finished,
"that I may be able to clear up a few points for you.

"The two men whom you saw me hazing up and down the bank of the
canal, and whom you saw again tonight, followed by the man in the
baby blue silk pajamas, were Dopey Eddie and Izzy the Cat!"

"The wretches!" cried Lady Agatha.

"Wretches indeed," said Wilton Barnstable, Barton Ward, and
Watson Bard, in unison, and with conviction.

"And the man in the baby blue silk pajamas, was----" the great
detective paused, as if to make his revelation more effective.
And while he paused, Miss Genevieve Pringle, with pursed lips and
averted face, signified that the very idea of introducing a man
in baby blue silk pajamas into the conversation was intensely
displeasing to her.

"The man in pajamas was Reginald Maltravers," finished the great
detective.

"Reginald Maltravers!" cried Lady Agatha.

She opened her mouth again as if to say something more, but words
failed her, and she only stared at the detective, with parted
lips and round eyes.

Cleggett went to her and touched her on the arm, and with the
touch she gave a sob of emotion and found her tongue again.

"Reginald Maltravers," she said, "is not dead then! Not dead
after all!"

She endeavored to control herself, but for a moment or two she
trembled. It was evident that it was all she could do to keep
from crying hysterically with relief. The nightmare that had
haunted her for days had vanished almost too suddenly. Presently
she began to be herself again.

"You are sure that he is not dead?" she said with a voice that
still shook.

"Sure," said Wilton Barnstable.

And as if quietly satisfied with the sensation they had produced,
the three detectives smiled at each other urbanely and
contentedly. Barnstable continued:

"Reginald Maltravers came to my agency some days ago and
requested a bodyguard. Dopey Eddie and Izzy the Cat had attacked
him, no doubt intending to earn the money which Elmer had
promised them. He beat them off. In fact, he caned them
soundly. But they still continued to dog him.

"Mr. Ward here, who handled the case, soon reported to me that he
believed Reginald Maltravers to be insane."

"Insane he was," cried Lady Agatha. "I have seen the light of
insanity in his eye, gleaming through his accursed monocle." She
spoke with vehemence. Now that she knew the man to be alive, her
hatred of him had flared up again.

"Insane he was," agreed Wilton Barnstable. "And shortly after
that discovery was made, he disappeared. The next day after his
disappearance, Dopey Eddie and Izzy the Cat were liberally
supplied with money.

"Of course they got the money, Lady Agatha, through the clever
trick they worked upon you."

"A great many people have got money from me since I have been in
America," said Lady Agatha.

"Ah! Yes?" The great detective went on with his masterly summing
up. "Of course they got the money from the trick they worked on
Lady Agatha. But at the time I thought it possible that they had
robbed Reginald Maltravers and then put him out of the way. They
are well-known gunmen.

"I took them into custody and determined to hold them until such
time as Reginald Maltravers would be found, or his fate
discovered. Eventually I brought them with me on my house boat.
I was really holding them without due legal warrant, but I am
forced to do that, sometimes. They complained of lack of
exercise, so I gave them exercise in the manner which you saw the
other morning, Mr. Cleggett.

"One of my agents, shortly after this, picked up the trail of
Reginald Maltravers again. When I learned that he was alive my
first impulse was to release Dopey Eddie and Izzy the Cat. But I
learned that the two gunmen could, if they would, give me a tip
as to certain of the activities of Logan Black, against whom I
have been collecting evidence for nearly a year. So I kept them
on my boat.

"Reginald Maltravers, most of the time that you were riding about
the country, Lady Agatha, with the box that you thought contained
him, was really following you. He would lose your trail and find
it again, but he was always some hours behind you. Of course, he
knew nothing of the oblong box. He thought that you were running
away from him. And all the time that Reginald Maltravers was
following you, agents of mine were following Reginald
Maltravers."

"Lady Agatha," interrupted Cleggett, "was also being pursued by
Miss Pringle here."

Wilton Barnstable carefully made a note in a little book which he
drew from his waistcoat pocket. Barton Ward also made a note in
a little book, Watson Bard started to make a note, and then
paused; in fact, Watson Bard did not complete his note until he
had gotten a peep into the notebook of Barton Ward. The notes
made, the three detectives once more smiled craftily at each
other, and Wilton Barnstable resumed:

"We knew, of course, that another lady was also following Lady
Agatha. But, until the present moment, we had not identified her
with Miss Pringle. And I should not be at all surprised, not at
ALL surprised, if still another person had been following Miss
Pringle."

"With what object?" asked Miss Pringle, looking alarmed at the
idea.

"The motive, my dear lady, I must for the present withhold," said
Wilton Barnstable. And again the three detectives exchanged
knowing glances.

"Reginald Maltravers' pursuit of you, Lady Agatha, led him to
Fairport," went on the great sleuth. "No doubt he met the driver
of the vehicle which brought you hither, and learned that you
and Elmer had been set down in this neighborhood, just as Miss
Pringle learned it. No doubt it was well after dark when he
arrived in the vicinity of the Jasper B. And it is to be
supposed that, once out here, he went to Morris's road house,
thinking it quite likely that you and Elmer would stop there, as
he had been tracking you from road house to road house. Logan
Black, knowing that the authorities were on his trail, mistook
Reginald Maltravers for a detective, and held him prisoner at
Morris's. Logan Black's men took away his clothes in order to
minimize the possibility of his escape."

"And the Earl of Claiborne's signet ring----" began Cleggett.

"Of course, Reginald Maltravers was wearing it, and of course
they took his valuables from him," said Barnstable. "One of the
ruffians was wearing the ring as he approached your vessel with a
bomb. But, Mr. Cleggett, there are points about that bomb
explosion which I do not understand."

"Nor I," admitted Cleggett.

"We will clear them up later," said the great detective, smiling
benignly at his thumbs, which he was revolving slowly about each
other as he reconstructed the case.

"Later!" smiled Barton Ward. "Later!" murmured Watson Bard.
With their hands clasped over their stomachs, they, too, benignly
twirled their thumbs.

"Tonight," pursued Barnstable, "having finally got all the
information I wished from Dopey Eddie and Izzy the Cat with
regard to Logan Black, I tossed them the key to their irons and
told them to unlock themselves and clear out. It was just before
the storm began, and they were sitting on the bank of the canal
at the time. I allowed them to sit there in the evenings and get
the fresh air.

"But before they could unlock themselves Reginald Maltravers, who
had, we must suppose, escaped from Morris's through the
carelessness of one of Logan Black's subordinates, crawled up the
bank of the canal, which he had swum, and made for the two
gunmen, with the water dripping from his eyeglass. He had
recognized them as the men who had dogged and assaulted him, and
every other idea was obliterated in his desire for vengeance.

"They fled. He pursued. He caught them, and they fought. They
succeeded in dropping one of the iron balls on his foot--on his
bunion foot, Mr. Cleggett--crippling him."

As this mention of the bunion, Miss Genevive Pringle arose with
dignity, and, flinging a shawl about her shoulders, left the
cabin, chin in air. She did not vouchsafe so much as one
backward glance at Cleggett or the three detectives or lady
Agatha as she left, but outraged propriety was expressed in every
line of her figure.

"H'm," mused the detective, flushing slightly; and Watson Bard
and Barton Ward also colored a little, and looked hacked. They
glanced furtively at Lady Agatha, to see if she too might be
offended.

"Proceed, Mr. Barnstable," she said a little impatiently.
"Bunions don't bother me, either mentally or physically. I am
familiar with the idea of bunions. There are many bunions in the
Claiborne family."

"On his bunion foot, crippling him," resumed the detective,
reassured. "The storm came up, and still the gunmen fled, and
still Reginald Maltravers pursued. I suppose, since you saw them
on the west side of the canal, Mr. Cleggett, that they had run
around the north end of it. Probably, while you and Logan Black
were fighting, they were running up and down in the neighborhood,
in the storm, intent only upon their own feud."

"They certainly seemed exhausted when I saw them," said Cleggett,
"all three of them. But if you will permit me to say so, the
astuteness with which you are reconstructing this case compels my
admiration."

Wilton Barnstable bowed, and Barton Ward and Watson Bard slightly
inclined their heads.

"Your skill," said Lady Agatha, "is equal to that of Sherlock
Holmes."

At the name of Sherlock Holmes a shade passed over the face of
Wilton Barnstable. He slightly compressed his lips, and his
eyebrows went up a fraction of an inch. This shade was reflected
on the faces of Barton Ward and Watson Bard. There was a moment
of silence, but presently Wilton Barnstable continued, repressing
a sigh:

"I thought at first, Mr. Cleggett, that you were an ally of Logan
Black's, just as you believed me to be his ally, and as he
believed you and me to be working together. It may interest you
to know that smuggling has been one of his side lines. There is,
somewhere hereabouts, a cave in which smuggled goods are stored.
These coasts have a sinister history, Mr. Cleggett. It is
possible that your canal boat--I beg your pardon, your schooner,
Mr. Cleggett--played some part in their smuggling operations. At
any rate it is evident that Logan Black transferred to the hold
of this vessel the incriminating evidence against him, contained
in that oblong box, when he learned that my agents were watching
Morris's. The Jasper B. has been lying in her present position
for a long time. In the event that a sudden get-away from
Morris's became necessary, it was an advantage to Logan Black to
be able to leave without being hampered with this matter. No
one, for many years, had paid any attention to the Jasper B.,
with the exception of the old truck farmer, Abernethy, who used
sometimes to fish from her deck, and----"

"Truck farmer!" cried Cleggett. "Abernethy?"

"Truck farmer," repeated Wilton Barnstable.

"Is not Abernethy an old sea captain?" asked Cleggett.

"Why, no, I believe not," said Barnstable. "At least I never
heard so. He is well known as a small truck gardener in this
neighborhood. It is true that he comes of a seafaring
family--indeed, it is his boast. But, in a community where
nearly everyone knows a little about boats, I believe that
Abernethy is remarkable for an indisposition to venture far from
shore."

"I can scarcely believe it," breathed Cleggett.

"He does not understand boats," said Barnstable. "That is the
reason, I take it, why he has always fished in the canal from the
deck of the Jasper B. "

"Abernethy is a gallant man," said Cleggett, rather sternly.
"And even although he may have had little actual seafaring
experience, the instinct is in him! The inherited love of a
nautical life has been latent in him all along. And at the first
opportunity it has come out. He has shown his mettle aboard the
Jasper B. "

"I do not doubt it, if you insist upon it," said Wilton
Barnstable, politely. And from revolving his thumbs benignly
towards himself he began to revolve them urbanely from himself.
The reversal was imitated at once by Barton Ward, but Watson Bard
was slower in putting this new coup into execution.

"The resemblance between the two oblong boxes evidently fooled
Logan Black," continued Barnstable, "and his men stole the wrong
one. but he knows by this time that his plan to get the box has
failed."

"He knows it?" said Cleggett.

"From the bank of the canal he witnessed our capture of the box,
and of the two men who were making off with it. After you had
beaten off his assault upon the ship, he turned his attention to
the canal, to see if the men whom he had assigned to the job of
creeping over the stern of the Jasper B. had by any chance
succeeded in purloining the box. He was alone, but he attempted
to come to the assistance of his two followers even as we made
them prisoners. In fact, we exchanged shots."

The great detective made little of the danger he had encountered.

Indeed, his smile became one of amusement as he removed his coat,
rolled up his shirt sleeves, and exhibited a bandaged wound in
the fleshy part of his arm.

"It is only a slight wound," he said, beaming on it as if wounds
were quite delightful affairs, "and scarcely inconveniences me."

Barton Ward and Watson Bard, with their sleeves rolled up, were
also smiling placidly and indulgently at bandages about their
left arms. Whether there were real wounds beneath their bandages
also, Cleggett could not determine. The bandage of Barton Ward
was slightly stained with red, but the bandage of Watson Bard was
quite white. All three replaced their coats at the same time,
and Wilton Barnstable went on:

"Our course of procedure is plain, Mr. Cleggett. We have the
evidence against Logan Black. We must have the man himself. I
depend upon you to cooperate with me. I think," he said, beaming
at Barton Ward and Watson Bard with an air of modest triumph,
"that the case of Logan Black is going to prove one of my really
GREAT cases.

"There is only one point which I have not yet made clear to you,
I believe--and that is how Logan Black's men were able to enter
and leave the hold of your vessel so mysteriously. But I am
shaping up my theory about that! I am shaping it up!"

"Would it be indescreet to inquire just what your theory is?"
asked Cleggett.

And Lady Agatha murmured:

"For my part, I can make nothing of it, and I should be glad to
hear your theory."

"It would," said Wilton Barnstable, soberly, "it would be
premature, if I told you my theory at the present moment. You
must pardon me--but it WOULD. In my line of business--and I
insist, Mr. Cleggett, that I am a plain business man, nothing
more--I find it absolutely necessary not to communicate all my
information to the layman until the case is quite perfect in all
its points. But do not get the notion, Mr. Cleggett, that I
underestimate the part that you have taken in the case of Logan
Black. You have helped me, Mr. Cleggett. When I have my
secretary prepare the case of Logan Black for magazine and
newspaper publication I shall have your name mentioned as that of
a person who has helped me. Yes, you have helped me."

As he spoke he picked from a reading table a magazine, on the
cover of which appeared his own portrait--or rather, the portrait
of the popular conception of Wilton Barnstable--and began to make
motions about it with his finger. He appeared to be marking off
the space beside the portrait into an arrangement of letters and
spaces. His lips moved as he did so; he murmured: "The Case of
Logan Black--the Case of Logan Black!" He seemed to see, with
the eye of a typographical expert, the legend printed there.
Barton Ward and Watson Bard, slightly flushed and a little
excited in spite of themselves, seemed also to see it there.

It might have occurred to a person more critical than Cleggett
that it was he himself who had furnished nearly all the real
evidence upon which Wilton Barnstable was constructing this Case
of Logan Black. But Cleggett looked for the gold in men, not the
dross; the great qualities of Wilton Barnstable appealed to his
imagination; the best in Cleggett responded to the best in Wilton
Barnstable; if the detective possessed a certain amount of
vanity, Cleggett preferred to overlook it.

"Decidedly," said Wilton Barnstable, laying down the magazine,
and looking at Cleggett kindly and serenely, "I shall see to it
that your name is mentioned in connection with the Case of Logan
Black." And Barton Ward and Watson Bard also bent upon him their
bland and friendly regard.

Cleggett was about to thank them, but at that moment there was a
commotion of some sort on deck.

Two female voices, one of which they all recognized as that of
Miss Genevieve Pringle, were mingling in a babble of greeting,
expostulation, interjection, and explanation, and presently Miss
Pringle entered the cabin, followed by a younger lady who, except
for her youth, looked much like her.

"My niece, Miss Henrietta Pringle, of Flatbush," said Miss
Pringle, primly presenting her prim relation. "She has just
arrived----"

"With the plum preserves!" cried Lady Agatha.

"With the plum preserves," confirmed Miss Genevieve Pringle.

And Captain Abernethy and George the Greek bore into the cabin a
third oblong box, exactly similar in appearance to the box of
Reginald Maltravers and the box which contained the evidence
against Logan Black, and set it on the floor.

The three detectives stood and looked at the three boxes with an
air of great satisfaction.

"With this addition to our oblong boxes," said Wilton Barnstable,
"their number is now complete. Miss Henrietta Pringle, we will
listen to your story."

There was little to tell, and Miss Henrietta Pringle told it in a
breath. Having received no acknowledgment of the receipt of the
plum preserves from her aunt, an unusual oversight on her aunt's
part, she had journeyed to Newark with a vague fear that there
might be something wrong.

"Arrived in Newark," she said, "I learned that my aunt, with her
two white horses and her family carriage driven by Jefferson, the
negro coachmen, had suddenly left Newark, without giving any
explanation to anyone, or making her destination known.

"The proceeding was very strange; it was very unlike my aunt, and
I was frightened. Everyone who had seen her start testified that
she was laboring under a great nervous strain of some sort.

"I called at the freight depot and got the box of plum preserves
which I had shipped to her. To tell the truth, I feared for her
reason. I thought that if I could find her, and could show her
the familiar plum preserves, which she loved so well, they would
be of material assistance in influencing her to return to her
home. So, setting out to search for her in my Ford auto, I took
the box of plum preserves with me.

"I soon got upon her trail. The negro coachman, the family
carriage and the white horses had excited remark everywhere.
Briefly, I traced her here, and am happy to discover that my
worst fears with regard to her have proved false."

"Henrietta," said her aunt, reproachfully, "your fears do you
very little credit, or me either."

"Aunt Genevieve," said the niece, "pray, do not rebuke me."

"I was certain," said Wilton Barnstable, complacently, "that it
would develop that Miss Genevieve Pringle was herself being
pursued. I was confident of it, Cleggett. And now that I have
cleared up for you the mystery of Logan Black, the mystery of the
box of Reginald Maltravers, and the mystery of the box of plum
preserves, there only remains the capture of Logan Black to hold
me in this part of the country and to keep you from your voyage
to the China Seas."

"We must get together," said Cleggett, "on a plan of campaign.
Logan Black will certainly attack again. He has only been beaten
off temporarily. In the meanwhile, it is almost breakfast time."

And, indeed, the lights in the cabin were suddenly growing pale.
The sun was rising. Its beams, shining through the cabin
skylight, fell upon the three great detectives, each one of whom,
with an air of ineffable satisfaction, was gloating--but gloating
urbanely and with dignity--over an oblong box.

CHAPTER XXII

DANCING ON THE DECK

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