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  • 1916
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As his feet struck the top of the rubbish heap in the hold of the vessel, Cleggett stumbled and staggered forward. But he did not let go of his revolver.

Perhaps he would not have fallen, but the Pomeranian, which had leaped into the hold after him, yelping like a terrier at a rat hunt, ran between his legs and tripped him.

“Damn the dog!” cried Cleggett, going down.

But the fall probably saved his life, for as he spoke two pistol shots rang out simultaneously from the forward part of the hold. The bullets passed over his head. Raising himself on his elbow, Cleggett fired rapidly three times, aiming at the place where a spurt of flame had come from.

A cry answered him, and he knew that at least one of his bullets had taken effect. He rose to his feet and plunged forward, firing again, and at the same instant another bullet grazed his temple.

The next few seconds were a wild confusion of yelping dog, shouts, curses, shots that roared like the explosion of big guns in that pent-up and restricted place, stinking powder, and streaks of fire that laced themselves across the darkness. But only a single pistol replied to Cleggett’s now and he was confident that one of the men was out of the fight.

But the other man, blindly or with intention, was stumbling nearer as he fired. A bullet creased Cleggett’s shoulder; it was fired so close to him that he felt the heat of the exploding powder; and in the sudden glow of light he got a swift and vivid glimpse of a white face framed in long black hair, and of flashing white teeth beneath a lifted lip that twitched. The face was almost within touching distance; as it vanished Cleggett heard the sharp, whistling intake of the fellow’s breath–and then a click that told him the other’s last cartridge was gone. Cleggett clubbed his pistol and leaped forward, striking at the place where the gleaming teeth had been. His blow missed; he spun around with the force of it. As he steadied himself to shoot again he heard a rush behind him and knew that his men had come to his assistance.

“Collar him!” he cried. “Don’t shoot, or—-“

But he did not finish that sentence. A thousand lights danced before his eyes, Niagara roared in his ears for an instant, and he knew no more. His adversary had laid him out with the butt of a pistol.

Cleggett was not that inconsiderable sort of a man who is killed in any trivial skirmish: There was a moment at the bridge of Arcole when Napoleon, wounded and flung into a ditch, appeared to be lost. But when Nature, often so stupid, really does take stock and become aware that she has created an eagle she does not permit that eagle to be killed before its wings are fledged. Napoleon was picked out of the ditch. Cleggett was only stunned.

Both were saved for larger triumphs. The association of names is not accidental. These two men were, in some respects, not dissimilar, although Bonaparte lacked Cleggett’s breeding.

When Cleggett regained consciousness he was on deck; George, Kuroki and Cap’n Abernethy stood about him in a little semicircle of anxiety; Lady Agatha was applying a cold compress to the bump upon his head. (He made nothing of his other scratches.) As for Elmer, who had not stirred from his seat on the oblong box, he moodily regarded, not Cleggett, but a slight young fellow with long black hair, who lay motionless upon the deck.

Cleggett struggled to his feet. “Is he dead?” he asked, pointing to the figure of his recent assailant. Cap’n Abernethy, for the first time since Cleggett had known him, gave a direct answer to a question.

“Mighty nigh it,” he said, staring down at the young man. Then he added: “Kind o’ innocent lookin’ young fellow, at that.”

“But the other one? Was he killed?” asked Cleggett.

“The other?” George inquired. “But there was no other. When we got down there you and this boy—-” And George described the struggle that had taken place after Cleggett had lost consciousness. The whole affair, as far as it concerned Cleggett, had been a matter of seconds rather than minutes; it was begun and over like a hundred yard dash on the cinder track. When George and Kuroki and Cap’n Abernethy had tumbled into the hold they had been afraid to shoot for fear of hitting Cleggett; they had reached him, guided by his voice, just as he went down under his assailant’s pistol. They had not subdued the youth until he had suffered severely from George’s dagger. Later they learned that one of Cleggett’s bullets had also found him. Cleggett listened to the end, and then he said:

“But there WERE two men in the hold. And one of them, dead or wounded, must still be down there. Carry this fellow into the forecastle–we’ll look at him later. Then bring some lanterns. We are going down into that hold again.”

With their pistols in their right hands and lanterns in their left they descended, Cleggett first. It was not impossible that the other intruder might be lying, wounded, but revived enough by now to work a pistol, behind one of the rubbish heaps.

But no shots greeted them. The hold of the Jasper B. was not divided into compartments of any sort. If it had ever had them, they had been torn away. Below deck, except for the rubbish heap and the steps for the masts, she was empty as a soup tureen. The pile of debris was the highest toward the waist of the vessel. There it formed a treacherous hill of junk; this hill sloped downward towards the bow and towards the stern; in both the fore and after parts, under the forecastle and the cabin, there were comparatively clear spaces.

The four men forced their way back towards the stern and then came slowly forward in a line that extended across the vessel, exploring with their lanterns every inch of the precarious footing, and overturning and looking behind, under, and into every box, cask, or jumble of planking that might possibly offer a place of concealment. They found no one. And, until they reached a clearer place, well forward, on the starboard side of the ship, they found no trace of anyone.

Cleggett, who was examining this place, suddenly uttered an exclamation which brought the others to him. He pointed to stains of blood upon the planking; near these stains were marks left by boots which had been gaumed with a yellowish clay. A revolver lay on the floor. Cleggett examined it and found that only one cartridge had been exploded. The stains of blood and the stains of yellow clay made an easily followed trail for some yards to a point about halfway between the bow and stern on the starboard side.

There, in the waist of the vessel, they ceased; ceased abruptly, mysteriously. Cleggett, not content, made his men go over the place again, even more thoroughly than before. But there was no one there, dead or wounded, unless he had succeeded in contracting himself to the dimensions of a rat.

“There is nothing,” said Cleggett, standing by the ladder that led up to the deck. “Nothing,” echoed George; and then as if with one impulse, and moved by the same eerie thought, these four men suddenly raised their lanterns head-high and gazed at one another.

A startled look spread from face to face. But no one spoke. There was no need to. All recognized that they were in the presence of an apparent impossibility. Yet this seemingly impossible thing was the fact. There had been two men in the hold of the Jasper B. They had entered as mysteriously and silently as disembodied spirits might have done. One of them, wounded, had made his exit in the same baffling way. Where? How?

Cleggett broke the silence.

“Let us go to the forecastle and have a look at that fellow,” he said, and led the way.

No one lagged as they left the hold. These were all brave men, but there are times when the invisible, the incomprehensible, will send a momentary chill to the heart of the most intrepid.

Cleggett found Lady Agatha, her own troubles for the time forgotten, in the forecastle. She had lighted a lamp and was bending over the wounded man, whose coat and waistcoat she had removed. His clothing was a sop of blood. They cut his shirt and undershirt from him. Kuroki brought water and the medicine chest and surgical outfit with which Cleggett had provided the Jasper B. They examined his wounds, Lady Agatha, with a fine seriousness and a deft touch which claimed Cleggett’s admiration, washing them herself and proceeding to stop the flow of blood.

“Oh, I am not an altogether useless person,” she said, with a momentary smile, as she saw the look in Cleggett’s face. And Cleggett remembered with shame that he had not thanked her for her ministrations to himself.

A pistol bullet had gone quite through the young man’s shoulder. There was a deep cut on his head, and there were half a dozen other stab wounds on his body. George had evidently worked with great rapidity in the hold.

In the inside breast pocket of his coat he had carried a thin and narrow little book. There was a dagger thrust clear through it; if the book had not been there this terrible blow delivered by the son of Leonidas must inevitably have penetrated the lung.

Cleggett opened the book. It was entitled “Songs of Liberty, by Giuseppe Jones.” The verse was written in the manner of Walt Whitman. A glance at one of the sprawling poems showed Cleggett that in sentiment it was of the most violent and incendiary character.

“Why, he is an anarchist!” said Cleggett in surprise.

“Oh, really!” Lady Agatha looked up from her work of mercy and spoke with animation, and then gazed upon the youth’s face again with a new interest. “An anarchist! How interesting! I have ALWAYS wanted to meet an anarchist.”

“Poor boy, he don’t look like nothin’ bad,” said Cap’n Abernethy, who seemed to have taken a fancy to Giuseppe Jones.

“Listen,” said Cleggett, and read:

“As for your flag, I spit upon your flag! I spit upon your organized society anywhere and everywhere; I spit upon your churches;
I spit upon your capitalistic institutions; I spit upon your laws;
I spit upon the whole damned thing! But, as I spit, I weep! I weep!”

“How silly!” said Lady Agatha. “What does it mean?”

“It means—-” began Cleggett, and then stopped. The book of revolutionary verse, taken in conjunction with the red flag that had been displayed and then withdrawn, made him wonder if Morris’s were the headquarters of some band of anarchists.

But, if so, why should this band show such an interest in the Jasper B. ? An interest so hostile to her present owner and his men?

“If you was to ask me what it means,” said Captain Abernethy, who had taken the book and was fingering it, “I’d say it means young Jones here has fell into bad company. That don’t explain how he sneaked into the hold of the Jasper B., nor what for. But he orter have a doctor.”

“He shall have a physician,” said Cleggett. “In fact, the Jasper B. needs a ship’s doctor.”

“It looks to me,” said Captain Abernethy, “as if she did. And if you was to go further, Mr. Cleggett, and say that it looks as if she was liable to need a couple o’ trained nurses, too, I’d say to you that if they’s goin’ to be many o’ these kind o’ goin’s-on aboard of her she DOES need a couple of trained nurses.”

“Captain,” said Cleggett, “you are a humane man –let me shake your hand. You have voiced my very thought!”

Long ago Cleggett had resolved that if Chance or Providence should ever gratify his secret wish to participate in stirring adventures, he would see to it that all his wounded enemies, no matter how many there might be of them, received adequate medical attention. He had often been shocked at the callousness with which so many of the heroes of romance dash blithely into the next adventure–though those whom they have seriously injured lie on all sides of them as thick as autumn leaves–with only the most perfunctory consideration of these victims; sometimes, indeed, with no thought of them at all.

“Something tells me,” said Cleggett seriously, “that this intrusion of armed men is only a prelude. I have little doubt of the hostility of Morris’s; I am sure that the men who hid in the hold are spies from Morris’s. I do not yet know the motive for this hostility. But the Jasper B. is in the midst of dangers and mysteries. There is before us an affair of some magnitude. Ere the Jasper B. sets sail for the China Seas, there may be many wounds.”

And then he began to outline a plan that had flashed, full formed, into his mind. It was to rent, or purchase, the buildings at Parker’s Beach, and fit them up as a field hospital, with three or four nurses in charge. Lady Agatha, who had been listening intently, interrupted.

“But–the China Seas,” she said. “Did I understand you to say that you intend to set sail for the China Seas?”

“That is the ultimate destination of the Jasper B.” said Cleggett.

“I have heard–it seems to me that I have heard–that it’s a very dangerous place,” ventured Lady Agatha. “Pirates, you know, and all that sort of thing.”

“Pirates,” said Cleggett, “abound.”

“Well, then,” persisted Lady Agatha, “you are going out to fight them?”

“I should not be surprised,” said Cleggett, folding his arms, and standing with his feet spread just a trifle wider than usual, “if the Jasper B. had a brush or two with them. A brush or two!”

Lady Agatha regarded him speculatively. But admiringly, too.

“But those nurses—-” she said. “If you’re going to the China Seas you can’t very well take Parker’s Beach along.”

“I was coming to that,” said Cleggett, bowing. “I contemplate a hospital ship–a vessel supplied with nurses and lint and medicines, that will accompany the Jasper B., and fly the Red Cross flag.”

“But they are frightful people, really, those Chinese pirates, you know,” said Lady Agatha. “Do you think they’ll quite appreciate a hospital ship?”

“It is my duty,” said Cleggett, simply. “Whether they appreciate it or not, a hospital ship they shall have. This is the twentieth century. And although the great spirits of other days had much to commend them, it is not to be denied that they knew little of our modern humanitarianism. It has remained for the twentieth century to develop that. And one owes a duty to one’s epoch as well as to one’s individuality.”

“But,” repeated Lady Agatha, with a meditative frown, “they are really FRIGHTFUL people!”

“There is good in all men,” said Cleggett, “even in those whom the stern necessities of idealism sentence to death. And I have no doubt that many a Chinese pirate would, under other circumstances, have developed into a very contented and useful laundry-man.”

Lady Agatha studied him intently for a moment. “Mr. Cleggett,” she said, “if you will permit me to say so, a great suffragist leader was lost when fate made you a man.”

“Thank you,” said Cleggett, bowing again.

He dispatched George–a person of address as well as a fighter in whom the blood of ancient Greece ran quick and strong–on a humanitarian mission. George was to walk a mile to the trolley line, go to Fairport, hire a taxicab, and make all possible speed into Manhattan. There he was to communicate with a young physician of Cleggett’s acquaintance, Dr. Harry Farnsworth.

Dr. Farnsworth, as Cleggett knew, was just out of medical school. He had his degree, but no patients. But he was bold and ready. He was, in short, just the lad to welcome with enthusiasm such a chance for active service as the cruise of the Jasper B. promised to afford.

It was something of a risk to weaken his little party by sending George away for several hours. But Cleggett did not hesitate. He was not the man to allow considerations of personal safety to outweigh his devotion to an ideal.

“And now,” said Cleggett, turning to Lady Agatha, who had hearkened to his orders to George with a bright smile of approval, “we will dine, and I will hear the rest of your story, which was so rudely interrupted. It is possible that together we may be able to find some solution of your problem.”

“Dine!” exclaimed Lady Agatha, eagerly. “Yes, let us dine! It may sound incredible to you, Mr. Cleggett, that the daughter of an English peer and the widow of a baronet should confess that, except for your tea, she has scarcely eaten for twenty-four hours–but it is so!”

Then she said, sadly, with a sign and sidelong glance at the box of Reginald Maltravers which stood near the cabin companionway dripping coldly: “Until now, Mr. Cleggett–until your aid had given me fresh hope and strength–I had, indeed, very little appetite.”

Cleggett followed her gaze, and it must be admitted that he himself experienced a momentary sense of depression at the sight of the box of Reginald Maltravers. It looked so damp, it looked so chill, it looked so starkly and patiently and malevolently watchful of himself and Lady Agatha. In a flash his lively fancy furnished him with a picture of the box of Reginald Maltravers suddenly springing upright and hopping towards him on one end with a series of stiff jumps that would send drops of moisture flying from the cracks and seams and make the ice inside of it clink and tinkle. And the mournful Elmer, now drowsing callously over his charge, was not an invitation to be blithe. If Cleggett himself were so affected (he mused) what must be the effect of the box of Reginald Maltravers upon sensibilities as fine and delicate as those of a woman like Lady Agatha Fairhaven?

“Could I–if I might—-” Lady Agatha hesitated, with a glance towards the cabin. Cleggett instantly divined her thought; for brief as was their acquaintance, there was an almost psychic accord between his mind and hers, and he felt himself already answering to her unspoken wish as a ship to its rudder.

“The cabin is at your service,” said Cleggett, for he understood that she wished to dress for dinner. He conducted her, with a touch of formality, to his own room in the cabin, which he put at her disposal, ordering her steamer trunks to be placed in it. Then, taking with him some necessaries of his own, he withdrew to the forecastle to make a careful toilet.

It might not have occurred to another man to dress for dinner, but Cleggett’s character was an unusual blend of delicacy and strength; he perceived subtly that Lady Agatha was of the nature to appreciate this compliment. At a moment when her fortunes were at a low ebb what could more cheer a woman and hearten her than such a mark of consideration? Already Cleggett found himself asking what would please Lady Agatha.

CHAPTER VIII

A FLAME LEAPS OUT OF THE DARK

Kuroki announced dinner; Cleggett entered the captain’s mess room of the cabin, where the cloth was laid, and a moment later lady Agatha emerged from the stateroom and gave him her hand with a smile.

If he had thought her beautiful before, when she wore her plain traveling suit, he thought her radiant now, in the true sense of that much abused word. For she flung forth her charm in vital radiations. If Cleggett had possessed a common mind he might have phrased it to himself that she hit a man squarely in the eyes. Her beauty had that direct and almost aggressive quality that is like a challenge, and with sophisticated feminine art she had contrived that the dinner gown she chose for that evening should sound the keynote of her personality like a leitmotif in an opera. The costume was a creation of white satin, the folds caught here and there with strings of pearls. There was a single large rose of pink velvet among the draperies of the skirt; a looped girdle of blue velvet was the only other splash of color. But the full-leaved, expanded and matured rose became the vivid epitome and illustration of the woman herself. A rope of pearls that hung down to her waist added the touch of soft luster essential to preserve the picture from the reproach of being too obvious an assault upon the senses; Cleggett reflected that another woman might have gone too far and spoiled it all by wearing diamonds. Lady Agatha always knew where to stop.

“I have not been so hungry since I was in Holloway Jail,” said Lady Agatha. And she ate with a candid gusto that pleased Cleggett, who loathed in a woman a finical affectation of indifference to food.

When Kuroki brought the coffee she took up her own story again. There was little more to tell.

Dopey Eddie and Izzy the Cat, it appeared, had mistaken their instructions. Two nights after they had been engaged they had appeared at Lady Agatha’s apartment with the oblong box.

“The horrid creatures brought it into my sitting-room and laid it on the floor before I could prevent them,” said Lady Agatha.

“‘What is this?’ I asked them, in bewilderment.

“They replied that they had killed Reginald Maltravers ACCORDING TO ORDERS, and had brought him to me.

“‘Orders!’ I cried. ‘You had no such orders.’ Elmer, who lived on the same floor, was absent temporarily, having taken Teddy out for an airing. I was distracted. I did not know what to do. ‘Your orders,” I said, ‘were to–to—-‘”

She broke off. “What was it that Elmer told them to do, and what was it that they did?” she mused, perplexed. She called Elmer into the cabin.

“Elmer,” she said, “exactly what was it that you told your friends to do to him? And what was it that they did? I can never remember the words.”

“Poke him,” said Elmer, addressing Cleggett. “I tells these ginks to poke him. But these ginks tells th’ little dame here they t’inks I has said to croak him. So they goes an’ croaks him. D’ youse get me?”

Being assured that they got him, Elmer downheartedly withdrew.

“At any rate,” continued Lady Agatha, “there was that terrible box upon my sitting-room floor, and there were those two degraded wretches. The callous beasts stood above the box apparently quite insensible to the ethical enormity of their crime. But they were keen enough to see that it might be used as a lever with which to force more money from me. For when I demanded that they take the box away with them and dispose of it, they only laughed at me. They said that they had had enough of that box. They had delivered the goods–that was the phrase they used–and they wanted more money. And they said they would not leave until they got it. They threatened, unless I gave them the money at once, to leave the place and get word to the police of the presence of the box in my apartment.

“I was in no mental condition to combat and get the better of them. I felt myself to be entirely in their power. I saw only the weakness of my own position. I could not, at the moment, see the weak spots in theirs. Elmer might have advised me–but he was not there. The miserable episode ended with my giving them a thousand dollars each, and they left.

“Alone with that box, my panic increased. When Elmer returned with Teddy, I told him what had happened. He wished to open the box, having a vague idea that perhaps after all it did not really contain what they had said was in it. But I could not bear the thought of its being opened. I refused to allow Elmer to look into it.

“I determined that I would ship the box at once to some fictitious personage, and then take the next ship back to England.

“I hastily wrote a card, which I tacked on the box, consigning it to Miss Genevieve Pringle, Newark, N. J. The name was the first invention that came into my head. Newark I had heard of. I knew vaguely that it was west of New York, but whether it was twenty miles west or two thousand miles, I did not stop to think. I am ignorant of American geography.

“But no sooner had the box been taken away than I began to be uneasy. I was more frightened with it gone than I had been with it present. I imagined it being dropped and broken, and revealing everything. And then it occurred to me that even if I should get out of the country, the secret was bound to be discovered some time. I do not know why I had not thought of that before–but I was distracted. Having got rid of the box, I was already wild to get it into my possession again.

“I confided my fears to Elmer, and was surprised to learn from him that Newark is very near New York. We took a taxicab at once, and were waiting at the freight depot in Newark when the thing arrived. There I claimed it in the name of Miss Genevieve Pringle.

“It became apparent to me that I must manage its final disposition myself. Elmer hired for me the vehicle in which we arrived here, and we started back to New York.

“But the driver, from the first, was suspicious of the box. His suspicions were increased when, upon returning to my apartment hotel, where I now decided to keep the box until I could think out a coherent plan of action, the manager of the hotel made inquiries. The manager had seen the box brought in, and taken out again, before. Its return struck him as odd. He offered to store it for me in the basement. I took alarm at once. Naturally, he questioned me more closely. I was unready in my answers. His inquiries excited and alarmed me. I felt that any instant I might do something to betray myself. I cut the manager short, paid my bill, got my luggage, and ordered the chauffeur to drive to the Grand Central Station. But when we had gone three or four blocks, I said to him: ‘Stop!–I do not wish to go to the Grand Central Station. Drive me to Poughkeepsie!’ I wished a chance to think. I knew Poughkeepsie was not far from New York City, but I supposed it was far enough to give me a chance to determine what to do next by the time we arrived there.

“But I could not think coherently. I could only feel and fear. The drive was longer than I had expected, but when we arrived at Poughkeepsie and the chauffeur asked me again what disposition to make of the box, I was unable to answer him. Thereupon he insolently demanded an enormous fare.

“I could not choose but pay it. For four days we went from place to place, in and about New York City’s suburbs–now in town and now in the country–crossing rivers again and again on ferryboats–stopping at hotels, road houses and all manner of places–dashing through Brooklyn and out among the villages of Long Island–and with the fear on me that we were being followed.

“Elmer and I were continually on the lookout for some way to dispose of the box, but nothing presented itself. The driver, who had become more and more impudent in his attitude and outrageous in his charges, was now practically a spy upon us. The necessity for ice made frequent stops imperative; at the same time the increasing fear of pursuit made it agony for me to stop anywhere.

“Today, at a road house thirty or forty miles from here, I made certain that I was pursued. The very man from whom I had claimed the box at the railway goods station in Newark confronted me. It appears, from what Elmer says, that he is taking a holiday and is visiting his brother, who is the proprietor of the road house.

“And the person who is pursuing me is–a Miss Genevieve Pringle!

“As fate would have it, there lives in Newark a person who really owns that name which I thought I had invented. It seems that she had been expecting a shipment, and had called to inquire for it; upon learning that a box had been delivered to a person in her name she had taken up the trail at once. Having somehow traced me to Long Island, she had actually made inquiries at this very road house some hours earlier. The railway employee, I am certain, would have denounced me at once–he would have accused me of theft, and would have endeavored to have me held until he could get into communication with Miss Pringle or with the authorities–but I bought from him a promise of silence. It cost me another large sum.

“A few hours ago the chauffeur, divining from a conversation between Elmer and me that I was running short of ready money, deserted me here. You know the rest.”

Her voice trailed off into a tired whisper as she finished, and with her elbows on the table Lady Agatha wearily supported her head in her hands. Her attitude acknowledged defeat. She was despairingly certain that she would never see the last of the box which she believed to contain Reginald Maltravers.

Cleggett did not hesitate an instant. “Lady Agatha,” he said, “the Jasper B. is at your service as long as you may require the ship. The cabin is your home until we arrive at a solution of your difficulties.”

His glance and manner added what his tongue left unuttered–that the commander of the ship was henceforth her devoted cavalier. But she understood.

She extended her hand. Her answer was on her lips. But at that instant the jarring roar of an explosion struck the speech from them.

The blast was evidently near, though muffled. The earth shook; a tremor ran through the Jasper B.; the glasses leaped and rang upon the table. Cleggett, followed by Lady Agatha, darted up the companionway.

As Cleggett reached the deck there was a second shock, and he beheld a flame leap out of the earth itself–a sudden sword of fire thrust into the night from the midst of the sandy plain before him. The light that stabbed and was gone in an instant was about halfway between the Jasper B. and Morris’s. A second after, a missile–which Cleggett later learned was a piece of rock the size of a man’s head–fell with a splintering crash upon and through the wooden platform beside the Jasper B., not thirty feet from where Cleggett stood; another splashed into the canal. The next day Cleggett saw several of these fragments lying about the plain.

Calling to his men to bring lanterns–for the night had fallen dark and cloudy–Cleggett ran towards the place. Lady Agatha, refusing to remain behind, went with them. Moving lights and a stir of activity at Morris’s, and the gleam of lanterns on board the Annabel Lee, showed Cleggett that his neighbors likewise were excited.

But if Cleggett had expected an easy solution of this astonishing eruption he was disappointed. Arrived at the scene of the explosion, he found that its nature was such as to tease and balk his faculties of analysis. The blast had blown a hole into the ground, certainly; but this hole was curiously filled. Two large bowlders that leaned towards each other had stood on top of the ground. These had been split and shattered into many fragments. A few pieces, like the one that came so near Cleggett, had been flung to a distance, but for the most part the shivered crowns and broken bulks had been served otherwise; the force of the blast had disintegrated them, but had not scattered them; the greater part of this newly-rent stone had toppled into the fissure in the ground, and lay there mixed with earth, almost filling the hole. It was impossible to determine just where and how the blast had been set off; the rocks hid the facts. But Cleggett judged that the force must have come from below the bowlders; mightily smitten from beneath, they had collapsed into the cavern suddenly opening there, as a building might collapse into and fill a cellar. The pieces that had been thrown high into the air were insignificant in proportion to the great bulk which had settled into the hole and made its origin a mystery.

As Cleggett, bewildered, stood and gazed upon the mass of rock and earth, Cap’n Abernethy gave a cry and pointed at something with his finger. Cleggett, looking at the spot indicated, saw upon the edge of this singular fracture in the earth a thing that sent a quick chill of horror and repulsion to his heart. It was a dead hand, roughly severed between the wrist and the elbow. The back of it was uppermost; the fingers were clenched. Cleggett set down his lantern beside it and turned it over with his foot.

The dead fingers clutched a scrap of something yellow. On one of them was a large and peculiar ring.

“My God!” murmured Lady Agatha, grasping Cleggett convulsively by the shoulder, “that is the Earl of Claiborne’s signet ring!”

But Cleggett scarcely realized what she had said, until she repeated her words. Fighting down his repugnance, he took from the lifeless and stubborn fingers the yellow scrap of paper.

It was a torn and crumpled twenty-dollar bill.

CHAPTER IX

MYSTERIES MULTIPLY

Directing Kuroki to remove the ring and bring it along, Cleggett gave his arm to Lady Agatha and led the way back to the Jasper B. Neither said anything to the point until, seated in the cabin, with the twenty-dollar bill and the ring before them, Cleggett picked up the latter and remarked:

“You are certain of the identity of this ring?”

“Certain,” she said. “I could not mistake it. There is no other like it, anywhere.”

It was a very heavy gold band, set with a large piece of dark green jade which was deeply graven on its surface with the Claiborne crest.

“Was it,” asked Cleggett, “in the possession of Reginald Maltravers?”

“It might have been, readily enough,” she said, “although I had not known that it was. Still, that does not explain. . . .” She shrugged her shoulders.

“There are a number of things unexplained,” answered Cleggett, “and the presence of this ring, and the manner in which it has come into our possession, are not the most mysterious of them. The explosion itself appears to me, just now, at least, hard to account for.”

“The manner in which people get into and out of the hold of your vessel is also obscure,” said Lady Agatha.

“Nor is the motive of their hostility clear,” said Cleggett.

He picked up the piece of paper money. Something about the feel of it aroused his suspicions. He called Elmer, and when that exponent of reform entered the cabin, asked him bluntly:

“Did you ever have anything to do with bad money?”

Elmer intimated that he might know it if he saw it.

“Then look at that, please.”

Elmer took the torn bill, produced a penknife, slit the yellow paper, and cut out of it one of the small hair-like fibers with which the texture of such notes is sprinkled. After wetting this fiber and mangling it with his penknife he gave his judgment briefly.

“Queer,” he said.

“But what does that explain?” asked Lady Agatha. “Perhaps the Earl of Claiborne came to this country and took to making counterfeit money in the hold of the Jasper B., into and out of which he stole like a ghost? Finally he got tired of it and blew himself up with a bomb out there, leaving his ring with a piece of money intact? Is that the explanation we get out of our facts? Because, you know,” she added, as Cleggett did not smile, “all that is absurd!”

“Yes,” said Cleggett, still refusing to be amused, “but out of all this jumble of mystery, just one certain thing appears.”

“And that is?”

“That our destinies are somehow linked!”

“Our destinies? Linked?”

She gave him a swift look, and as suddenly dropped her eyes again. Cleggett could not tell whether she was offended or not by his expression of the idea.

“The same people,” said Cleggett, after a brief pause, “who are so persistently hostile to me are also in some manner connected with your own misfortunes. Their possession of this ring shows that.”

“Yes,” she said, following his thought, “that is true–whoever set off that bomb was also wearing this ring, or was very near the person who was wearing it. And,” with a shudder which conveyed to Cleggett that she was thinking of the box on deck, “it COULDN’T have been Reginald Maltravers!”

“Perhaps,” said Cleggett, “someone was sneaking over from Morris’s with the intention of destroying the Jasper B., and was himself the victim of a premature explosion as he crouched behind the rocks to await his opportunity.”

“But why,” puzzled Lady Agatha, with contracted brows, “should a dynamiter, anarchistic or otherwise, be holding a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill in his hand as he went about his work?”

Cleggett brooded in silence.

“We are in the midst of mysteries,” he said finally. “They are multiplying about us.”

He was about to say more. He was about to express again his belief that they had been flung together by fate. The sense that their stories were inextricably intertwined, that they must henceforward march on as one mystery towards a solution, was exhilarating to him. But how was it possible that she should feel the same sense of pleasure in the fact that they faced dangers, seen and unseen, together?

Together!–How the thought thrilled him!

On deck, Elmer, before returning to the box of Reginald Maltravers, suddenly and unexpectedly grasped Cleggett by the hand.

“Bo,” he said, “I’m wit’ youse. I’m wit’ youse the whole way. Any friend of the little dame is a friend of mine. She’s a square little dame. D’ youse get me?”

“Thank you,” said Cleggett, more affected than he would have cared to own. “Thank you, my loyal fellow.”

Cleggett established a watch on deck that night, with a relief every two hours. Towards morning George returned, with Dr. Farnsworth and a nurse. This nurse, Miss Antoinette Medley, was a black-eyed, slender girl with pretty hands and white teeth; she gestured a great deal and smiled often. She and Dr. Farnsworth devoted themselves at once to the young anarchist poet, who had come out of his stupor, indeed, but was now babbling weakly in the delirium of fever.

The night was not a cheerful one, and morning came gloomily out of a gray bank of mist. Cleggett, as he looked about the boat in the first pale light, could not resist a slight feeling of depression, courageous as he was. The wounded man gibbered in a bunk in the forecastle. The box of Reginald Maltravers stood on one end, leaning against the port side of the cabin, and dripped steadily. Elmer, wrapped in blankets, lay on the deck near the box of Reginald Maltravers, looking even more dejected in slumber than when his eyes were open. Teddy, the Pomeranian, was snuggled against Elmer’s feet, but, as if a prey to frightful nightmares, the little dog twitched and whined in his sleep from time to time. These were the apparent facts, and these facts were set to a melancholy tune by the long-drawn, dismal snores of Cap’n Abernethy, which rose and fell, and rose and fell, and rose again like the sad and wailing song of some strange bird bereft of a beloved mate. They were the music for, and the commentary on, what Cleggett beheld; Cap’n Abernethy seemed to be saying, with these snores: “If you was to ask me, I’d say it ain’t a cheerful ship this mornin’, Mr. Cleggett, it ain’t a cheerful ship.”

But Cleggett’s nature was too lively and vigorous to remain clouded for long. By the time the red disk of the sun had crept above the eastern horizon he had shaken off his fit of the blues.

The sun looked large and bland and friendly, and, somehow, the partisan of integrity and honor. He drew strength from it. Cleggett, like all poetic souls, was responsive to these familiar recurrent phenomena of nature.

The sun did him another office. It showed him a peculiar tableau vivant on the eastern bank of the canal, near the house boat Annabel Lee. This consisted of three men, two of them naked except for bathing trunks of the most abbreviated sort, running swiftly and earnestly up and down the edge of the canal. He saw with astonishment that the two men in bathing suits were handcuffed together, the left wrist of one to the right wrist of the other. A rope was tied to the handcuffs, and the other end of it was held by the third man, who was dressed in ordinary tweeds. The third man had a magazine rifle over one shoulder. He followed about twenty feet behind the two men in bathing suits and drove them.

Cleggett perceived that the man who was doing the driving was the same who had watched the Jasper B. so persistently the day before from the deck of the Annabel Lee. He was middle-sized, and inclined to be stout, and yet he followed his strange team with no apparent effort. Cleggett saw through the glass that he had a rather heavy black mustache, and was again struck by something vaguely familiar about him. The two men in bathing suits were slender and undersized; they did not look at all like athletes, and although they moved as fast as they could it was apparent that they got no pleasure out of it. They ran with their heads hanging down, and it seemed to Cleggett that they were quarreling as they ran, for occasionally one of them would give a vicious jerk to the handcuffs that would almost upset the other, and that must have hurt the wrists of both of them.

As Cleggett watched, the driver pulled them up short, and waved them towards the canal. They stopped, and it was apparent that they were balking and expostulating. But the driver was inexorable. He went near to them and threatened their bare backs with the slack of the rope. Gingerly and shiveringly they stepped into the cold water, while the driver stood on the bank. The water was up to their waists and he had to threaten them again with his rope before they would duck their heads under.

When he allowed them on shore again they needed no urging, it was evident, to make them hit up a good rate of speed, and back and forth along the bank they sprinted. But the cold bath had not improved their temper, for suddenly one of them leaped and kicked sidewise at the other, with the result that both toppled to the ground. The stout man was upon them in an instant, hazing them with the rope end. He drove them, still lashing out at each other with their bare feet, into the water again, and after a more prolonged ducking whipped them, at a plunging gallop, upon the Annabel Lee, where they disappeared from Cleggett’s view.

While Cleggett was still wondering what significance could underlie this unusual form of matutinal exercise, Dr. Farnsworth came out of the forecastle and beckoned to him. The young Doctor had a red Vandyck beard sedulously cultivated in the belief that it would make him look older and inspire the confidence of patients, and a shock of dark red hair which he rumpled vigorously when he was thinking. He was rumpling it now.

“Who’s ‘Loge’?” he demanded.

“Loge?” repeated Cleggett.

“You don’t know anyone named ‘Loge,’ or Logan?”

“No. Why?”

“Whoever he is, ‘Loge’ is very much on the mind of our young friend in there,” said Farnsworth, with a movement of his head towards the forecastle. “And I wouldn’t be surprised, to judge from the boy’s delirium, if ‘Loge’ had something to do with all the hell that’s been raised around your ship. Come in and listen to this fellow.”

Miss Medley, the nurse, was sitting beside the wounded youth’s bunk, endeavoring to soothe and restrain him. The young anarchist, whose eyes were bright with fever, was talking rapidly in a weak but high-pitched singsong voice.

“He’s off on the poems again,” said the Doctor, after listening a moment. “But wait, he’ll get back to Loge. It’s been one or the other for an hour now.”

“I spit upon your flag,” shrilled Giuseppe Jones, feebly declamatory. “‘I spit–I spit–but, as I spit, I weep.'” He paused for a moment, and then began at the beginning and repeated all of the lines which Cleggett had read from the little book. One gathered that it was Giuseppe’s favorite poem.

“‘I spit upon the whole damned thing!'” he shrilled, and then with a sad shake of his head: “But, as I spit, I weep!”

If the poem was Giuseppe’s favorite poem, this was evidently his favorite line, for he said it over and over again–“‘But, as I spit, I weep'”–in a breathless babble that was very wearing on the nerves.

But suddenly he interrupted himself; the poems seemed to pass from his mind. “Loge!” he said, raising himself on his elbow and staring, with a frown not at, but through, Cleggett: “Logan–it isn’t square!”

There was suffering and perplexity in his gaze; he was evidently living over again some painful scene.

“I’m a revolutionist, Loge, not a crook! I won’t do it, Loge!”

Watching him, it was impossible not to understand that the struggle, which his delirium made real and present again, had stamped itself into the texture of his spirit. “You shouldn’t ask it, Loge,” he said. The crisis of the conflict which he was living over passed presently, and he murmured, with contracted brows, and as if talking to himself: “Is Loge a crook? A crook?”

But after a moment of this he returned again to a rapid repetition of the phrase: “I’m a revolutionist, not a crook-not a crook–not a crook–a revolutionist, not a crook, Loge, not a crook—-” Once he varied it, crying with a quick, hot scorn: “I’ll cut their throats and be damned to them, but don’t ask me to steal.” And then he was off again to declaiming his poetry: “I spit, but, as I spit, I weep!”

But as Cleggett and the Doctor listened to him the youth’s ravings suddenly took a new form. He ceased to babble; terror expanded the pupils of his eyes and he pointed at vacancy with a shaking finger. “Stop it!” he cried in a croaking whisper. “Stop it! It’s his skull–it’s Loge’s skull come alive. Stop it, I say, it’s come alive and getting bigger.” With a violent effort he raised himself before the nurse could prevent him, shrinking back from the horrid hallucination which pressed towards him, and then fell prone and senseless on the bunk.

“God!–his wounds!” cried the Doctor, starting forward. As Farnsworth had feared, they had broken open and were bleeding again. “It’s a ticklish thing,” said Farnsworth, rumpling his hair. “If I give him enough sedative to keep him quiet his heart may stop any time. If I don’t, he’ll thrash himself to pieces in his delirium before the day’s over.”

But Cleggett scarcely heeded the Doctor. The reference to “Loge’s” skull had flashed a sudden light into his mind. Whatever else “Loge” was, Cleggett had little doubt that “Loge” was the tall man with the stoop shoulders and the odd, skull- shaped scarfpin, for whom he had conceived at first sight such a tingling hatred–the same fellow who had so ruthlessly manhandled the flaxen-haired Heinrich on the roof of the verandah the day before.

CHAPTER X

IN THE ENEMY’S CAMP

At seven o’clock that morning five big-bodied automobile trucks rolled up in a thundering procession. As they hove in sight on the starboard quarter and dropped anchor near the Jasper B., Cleggett recalled that this was the day which Cap’n Abernethy had set for getting the sticks and sails into the vessel. In the hurry and excitement of recent events aboard the ship he had almost forgotten it.

A score of men scrambled from the trucks and began to haul out of them all the essentials of a shipyard. Wheel, rudder, masts, spars, bowsprit, quantities of rope and cable followed–in fact, every conceivable thing necessary to convert the Jasper B. from a hulk into a properly rigged schooner. Cleggett, with a pith and brevity characteristic of the man, had given his order in one sentence.

“Make arrangements to get the sails and masts into her in one day,” he had told Captain Abernethy.

It was in the same large and simple spirit that a Russian Czar once laid a ruler across the map of his empire and, drawing a straight line from Moscow to Petersburg, commanded his engineers: “Build me a railroad to run like that.” Genius has winged conceptions; it sees things as a completed whole from the first; it is only mediocrity which permits itself to be lost in details.

Cleggett was like the Romanoffs in his ability to go straight to the point, but he had none of the Romanoff cruelty.

Captain Abernethy had made his arrangements accordingly. If it pleased Cleggett to have a small manufacturing plant brought to the Jasper B. instead of having the Jasper B. towed to a shipyard, it was Abernethy’s business as his chief executive officer to see that this was done. The Captain had let the contract to an enterprising and businesslike fellow, Watkins by name, who had at once looked the vessel over, taken the necessary measurements, and named a good round sum for the job. With several times the usual number of skilled workmen employed at double the usual rate of pay, he guaranteed to do in ten hours what might ordinarily have taken a week.

Under the leadership of this capable Watkins, the workmen rushed at the vessel with the dash and vim of a gang of circus employees engaged in putting up a big tent and making ready for a show. To a casual observer it might have seemed a scene of confusion. But in reality the work jumped forward with order and precision, for the position of every bolt, chain, nail, cord, piece of iron and bit of wood had been calculated beforehand to a nicety; there was not a wasted movement of saw, adze, or hammer. The Jasper B., in short, had been measured accurately for a suit of clothes, the clothes had been made; they were now merely being put on.

Refreshed by the first sound sleep she had been able to obtain for several nights, Lady Agatha joined Cleggett at an eight-o’clock breakfast. It was the first of May, and warm and bright; in a simple morning dress of pink linen Lady Agatha stirred in Cleggett a vague recollection of one of Tennyson’s earlier poems. The exact phrases eluded him; perhaps, indeed, it was the underlying sentiment of nearly ALL of Tennyson’s earlier poems of which she reminded him–those lyrics which are at once so romantic and so irreproachable morally.

“We must give you Americans credit for imagination at any rate,” she said smilingly, making her Pomeranian sit up on his hind legs and beg for a morsel of crisp bacon. “I awake in a boatyard after having gone to sleep in a dismantled barge.”

“Barge!” The word “barge” struck Cleggett unexpectedly; he was not aware that he had given a start and frowned.

“Mercy!” exclaimed Lady Agatha, “how the dear man glares! What should I call it? Scow?”

“Scow?” said Cleggett. He had scarcely recovered from the word “barge”; it is not to be denied that “scow” jarred upon him even more than “barge” had done.

“I beg your pardon,” said Lady Agatha, “but what IS the Jasper B., Mr. Cleggett?”

“The Jasper B. is a schooner,” said Cleggett. He tried to say it casually, but he was conscious as he spoke that there was a trace of hurt surprise in his voice. The most generous and chivalrous soul alive, Cleggett would have gone to the stake for Lady Agatha; and yet so unaccountable is that vain thing, the human soul (especially at breakfast time), that he felt angry at her for misunderstanding the Jasper B.

“You aren’t going to be horrid about it, are you?” she said. “Because, you know, I never said I knew anything about ships.”

She picked up the little dog and stood it on the table, making the animal extend its paws as if pleading. “Help me to beg Mr. Cleggett’s pardon,” she said, “he’s going to be cross with us about his old boat.”

If Lady Agatha had been just an inch taller or just a few pounds heavier the playful mood itself would have jarred upon the fastidious Cleggett; indeed, as she was, if she had been just a thought more playful, it would have jarred. But Lady Agatha, it has been remarked before, never went too far in any direction.

Even as she smiled and held out the dog’s paws Cleggett was aware of something in her eyes that was certainly not a tear, but was just as certainly a film of moisture that might be a tear in another minute. Then Cleggett cursed himself inwardly for a brute–it rushed over him how difficult to Lady Agatha her position on board the Jasper B. must seem. She must regard herself as practically a pensioner on his bounty. And he had been churl enough to show a spark of temper–and that, too, after she had repeatedly expressed her gratitude to him.

“I am deeply sorry, Lady Agatha,” he began, blushing painfully, “if—-“

“Silly!” She interrupted him by reaching across the table and laying a forgiving hand upon his arm. “Don’t be so stiff and formal. Eat your egg before it gets cold and don’t say another work. Of course I know you’re not REALLY going to be cross.” And she attacked her breakfast, giving him such a look that he forthwith forgave himself and forgot that he had had anything to forgive in her.

“There’s going to be a frightful racket around here today,” he said presently. “Maybe you’d like to get away from it for a while. How’d you like to go for a row?”

“I’d love it!” she said.

“George will be glad to take you, I’m sure.”

“George? And you?” He thought he detected a note of disappointment in her voice; he had not thought to disappoint her, but when he found her disappointed he got a certain thrill out of it.

“I am going over to Morris’s this morning,” he said.

“To Morris’s? Alone?”

“Why, yes.”

“But–but isn’t it dangerous?”

Cleggett smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

“Promise me that you will not go over there alone,” she demanded.

“I am sorry. I cannot.”

“But it is rash–it is mad!”

“There is no real danger.”

“Then I am going with you.”

“I think that would hardly be advisable.”

“I’m going with you,” she repeated, rising with determination.

“But you’re not,” said Cleggett. “I couldn’t think of allowing it.”

“Then there IS danger,” she said.

He tried to evade the point. “I shouldn’t have mentioned it,” he murmured.

She ran into the stateroom and was back in an instant with her hat, which she pinned on as she spoke.

“I’m ready to start,” she said.

“But you’re not going.”

“After what you’ve done for me I insist upon my right to share whatever danger there may be.” She spoke heatedly.

In her heat and impulsiveness and generous bravery Cleggett thought her adorable, although he began to get really angry with her, too. At the same time he was aware that her gratitude to him was such that she was on fire to give him some positive and early proof of it. It had not so much as occurred to her to enjoy immunity on account of her sex; it had not entered her mind, apparently, that her sex was an obstacle in the way of participating in whatever dangerous enterprise he had planned. She was, in fact, behaving like a chivalric but obstinate boy; she had not been a militant suffragette for nothing. And yet, somehow, this attitude only served to enhance her essential femininity. Nevertheless, Cleggett was inflexible.

“You would scarcely forbid me to go to Morris’s today, or anywhere else I may choose,” she said hotly, with a spot of red on either cheek bone, and a dangerous dilatation of her eyes.

“That is exactly what I intend to do,” said Cleggett, with an intensity equal to her own, “FORBID you.”

“You are curiously presumptuous,” she said.

It was a real quarrel before they were done with it, will opposed to naked will. And oddly enough Cleggett found his admiration grow as his determination to gain his point increased. For she fought fair, disdaining the facile weapon of tears, and when she yielded she did it suddenly and merrily.

“You’ve the temper of a sultan, Mr. Cleggett,” she said with a laugh, which was her signal of capitulation. And then she added maliciously: “You’ve a devil of a temper–for a little man!”

“Little!” Cleggett felt the blood rush into his face again and was vexed at himself. “I’m taller than you are!” he cried, and the next instant could have bitten his tongue off for the childish vanity of the speech.

“You’re not!” she cried, her whole face alive with laughter. “Measure and see!”

And pulling off her hat she caught up a table knife and made him stand with his back to hers. “You’re cheating,” said Cleggett, laughing now in spite of himself, as she laid the knife across their heads. But his voice broke and trembled on the next words, for he was suddenly thrilled with her delicious nearness. “You’re standing on your tiptoes, and your hair’s piled on top of your head.”

“Maybe you are an inch taller,” she admitted, with mock reluctance. And then she said, with a ripple of mirth: “You are taller than I am–I give up; I won’t go to Morris’s.”

Cleggett, to tell the truth, was a bit relieved at the measurement. He was of the middle height; she was slightly taller than the average woman; he had really thought she might prove taller than he. He could scarcely have told why he considered the point important.

But after the quarrel she looked at Cleggett with a new and more approving gaze. Neither of them quite realized it, but she had challenged his ability to dominate her, and she had been worsted; he had unconsciously met and satisfied in her that subtle inherent craving for domination which all women possess and so few will admit the possession of.

Cleggett started across the sands toward Morris’s with an automatic pistol slung in a shoulder holster under his left arm and a sword cane in his hand. He paused a moment by the scene of the explosion of the night before, but daylight told him nothing that lantern light had failed to reveal. He had no very definite plan, although he thought it possible that he might gain some information. The more he reflected on the attitude of Morris’s, the more it irritated him, and he yearned to make this irritation known.

Perhaps there was more than a little of the spirit of bravado in the call he proposed to pay. He planned, the next day, to sail the Jasper B. out into the bay and up and down the coast for a few miles, to give himself and his men a bit of practice in navigation before setting out for the China Seas. And he could not bear to think that the hostile denizens of Morris’s should think that he had moved the Jasper B. from her position through any fear of them. He reasoned that the most pointed way of showing his opinion of them would be to walk casually into Morris’s barroom and order a drink or two. If Cleggett had a fault as a commander it lay in these occasional foolhardy impulses which he found it difficult to control. Julius Caesar had the same sort of pride, which, in Caesar’s case, amounted to positive vanity. In fact, the character of Caesar and the character of Cleggett had many points in common, although Cleggett possessed a nicer sense of honor than Caesar.

The main entrance to Morris’s was on the west side. From the west verandah one could enter directly either the main dining-room, at the north side of the building, the office, or the barroom. The barroom, which was large, ran the whole length of the south side of the place. Doors also led into the barroom, from the south verandah, which was built over the water, and from the east verandah, which was visible from the Jasper B.–and onto the roof of which Cleggett had seen Loge tumble the limp body of his victim, Heinrich. That had been only the day before, but so much had happened since that Cleggett could scarcely realize that so little time had elapsed.

Cleggett strolled into the barroom and took a seat at a table in the southeast corner of it, with his back to the angle of the walls. He thus commanded a view of the bar itself; a door which led, as he conjectured, into the kitchen; the door communicating with the office, and a door which gave upon the west verandah–all this easily, and without turning his head. By turning his head ever so slightly to his right, he could command a view of the door leading to the east verandah. Unless the ceiling suddenly opened above him, or the floor beneath, it would be impossible to surprise him. Cleggett took this position less through any positive fear of attack than because he possessed the instinct of the born strategist. Cleggett was like Robert E. Lee in his quick grasp of a situation and, indeed, in other respects–although Cleggett would never under any circumstances have countenanced human slavery.

There were only two men in the place when Cleggett took his seat, the bartender and a fellow who was evidently a waiter. He had entered the west door and walked across the room without looking at them, withholding his gaze purposely. When he looked towards the bar, after seating himself, the waiter, with his back towards Cleggett’s corner, was talking in a low tone to the bartender. But they had both seen him; Cleggett perceived they both knew him.

“See what the gentleman wants, Pierre,” said the bartender in a voice too elaborately casual to hide his surprise at seeing Cleggett.

The waiter turned and came towards him, and Cleggett saw the man’s face for the first time. It was a face that Cleggett never forgot. Cleggett judged the man to be a Frenchman; he was dark and sallow, with nervous, black eyebrows, and a smirk that came and went quickly. But the unforgettable feature was a mole that grew on his upper lip, on the right side, near the base of his flaring nostril. Many moles have hairs in them; Pierre’s mole had not merely half a dozen hairs, but a whole crop. They grew thick and long; and, with a perversion of vanity almost inconceivable in a sane person, Pierre had twisted these hairs together, as a man twists a mustache, and had trained them to grow obliquely across his cheek bone. He was a big fellow, for a Frenchman, and, as he walked towards Cleggett with a mincing elasticity of gait, he smirked and caressed this whimsical adornment. Cleggett, fascinated, stared at it as the fellow paused before him. Pierre, evidently gratified at the sensation he was creating, continued to smirk and twist, and then, seeing that he held his audience, he took from his waistcoat pocket a little piece of cosmetic and, as a final touch of Gallic grotesquerie, waxed the thing. It was all done with that air of quiet histrionicism, and with that sense of self-appreciation, which only the French can achieve in its perfection. “You ordered, M’sieur?” Pierre, having produced his effect, like the artist (though debased) that he was, did not linger over it.

“Er–a Scotch highball,” said Cleggett, recovering himself. “And with a piece of lemon peeling in it, please.”

Pierre served him deftly. Cleggett stirred his drink and sipped it slowly, gazing at the bartender, who elaborately avoided watching him. But after a moment a little noise at his right attracted his attention. Pierre, with his hand cupped, had dashed it along a window pane and caught a big stupid fly, abroad thus early in the year. With a sense of almost intolerable disgust, Cleggett saw the man, with a rapt smile on his face, tear the insect’s legs from it, and turn it loose. If ever a creature rejoiced in wickedness for its own sake, and as if its practice were an art in itself, Pierre was that person, Cleggett concluded. Knowing Pierre, one could almost understand those cafes of Paris where the silly poets of degradation ostentatiously affect the worship of all manner of devils.

An instant later, Pierre, as if he had been doing something quite charming, looked at Cleggett with a grin; a grin that assumed that there was some kind of an understanding between them concerning this delightful pastime. It was too much. Cleggett, with an oath–and never stopping to reflect that it was perhaps just the sort of action which Pierre hoped to provoke–grasped his cane with the intention of laying it across the fellow’s shoulders half a dozen times, come what might, and leaving the place.

But at that instant the door from the office opened and the man whom he knew only as Loge entered the room.

Loge paused at the right of Cleggett, and then marched directly across the room and sat down opposite the commander of the Jasper B. at the same table. He was wearing the cutaway frock coat, and as he swung his big frame into the seat one of his coat tails caught in the chair back and was lifted.

Cleggett saw the steel butt of an army revolver. Loge perceived by his face that he had seen it, and laughed.

“I’ve been wanting to talk to you,” he said, leaning across the table and showing his yellow teeth in a smile which he perhaps intended to be ingratiating. Cleggett, looking Loge fixedly in the eye, withdrew his right hand from beneath his coat, and laid his magazine pistol on the table under his hand.

“I am at your service,” he said, steadily, giving back unwavering gaze for gaze. “I am looking for some information myself, and I am in exactly the humor for a little comfortable chat.”

CHAPTER XI

REPARTEE AND PISTOLS

Loge dropped his gaze to the pistol, and the smile upon his lips slowly turned into a sneer. But when he lifted his eyes to Cleggett’s again there was no fear in them.

“Put up your gun,” he said, easily enough. “You won’t have any use for it here.”

“Thank you for the assurance,” said Cleggett, “but it occurs to me that it is in a very good place where it is.”

“Oh, if it amuses you to play with it—-” said Loge.

“It does,” said Cleggett dryly.

“It’s an odd taste,” said Loge.

“It’s a taste I’ve formed during the last few days on board my ship,” said Cleggett meaningly.

“Ship?” said Loge. “Oh, I beg your pardon. You mean the old hulk over yonder in the canal?”

“Over yonder in the canal,” said Cleggett, without relaxing his vigilance.

“You’ve been frightened over there?” asked Loge, showing his teeth in a grin.

“No,” said Cleggett. “I’m not easily frightened.”

Loge looked at the pistol under Cleggett’s hand, and from the pistol to Cleggett’s face, with ironical gravity, before he spoke. “I should have thought, from the way you cling to that pistol, that perhaps your nerves might be a little weak and shaky.”

“On the contrary,” said Cleggett, playing the game with a face like a mask, “my nerves are so steady that I could snip that ugly-looking skull off your cravat the length of this barroom away.”

“That would be mighty good shooting,” said Loge, turning in his chair and measuring the distance with his eye. “I don’t believe you could do it. I don’t mind telling you that _I_ couldn’t.”

“While we are on the subject of your scarfpin,” said Cleggett, in whom the slur on the Jasper B. had been rankling, “I don’t mind telling YOU that I think that skull thing is in damned bad taste. In fact, you are dressed generally in damned bad taste.–Who is your tailor?”

Cleggett was gratified to see a dull flush spread over the other’s face at the insult. Loge was silent a moment, and then he said, dropping his bantering manner, which indeed sat rather heavily upon him: “I don’t know why you should want to shoot at my scarfpin–or at me. I don’t know why you should suddenly lay a pistol between us. I don’t, in short, know why we should sit here paying each other left-handed compliments, when it was merely my intention to make you a business proposition.”

“I have been waiting to hear what you had to say to me,” said Cleggett, without being in the least thrown off his guard by the other’s change of manner.

“If you had not chanced to drop in here today,” said Loge, “I had intended paying you a visit.”

“I have had several visitors lately,” said Cleggett nonchalantly, “and I think at least two of them can make no claim that they were not warmly received.”

“Yes?” said Loge. But if Cleggett’s meaning reached him he was too cool a hand to show it. He persisted in his affectation of a businesslike air. “Am I right in thinking that you have bought the boat?”

“You are.”

“To come to the point,” said Loge, “I want to buy her from you. What will you take for her?”

The proposition was unexpected to Cleggett, but he did not betray his surprise.

“You want to buy her?” he said. “You want to buy the old hulk over yonder in the canal?” He laughed, but continued: “What on earth can your interest be in her?”

There was a trace of surliness in Loge’s voice as he answered: “YOU were enough interested in her to buy her, it seems. Why shouldn’t I have the same interest?”

Cleggett was silent a moment, and then he leaned across the table and said with emphasis: “I have noticed your interest in the Jasper B. since the day I first set foot on her. And let me warn you that unless you show your curiosity in some other manner henceforth, you will seriously regret it. A couple of your men have repented of your interest already.”

“My men? What do you mean by my men? I haven’t any men.” Loge’s imitation of astonishment was a piece of art; but if anything he overdid it a trifle. He frowned in a puzzled fashion, and then said: “You talk about my men; you speak riddles to me; you appear to threaten me, but after all I have only made you a plain business proposition. I ask you again, what will you take for her?”

“She’s not for sale,” said Cleggett shortly.

Loge did not speak again for a moment. Instead, he picked up the spoon with which Cleggett had stirred his highball and began to draw characters with its wet point upon the table. “If it’s a question of price,” he said finally, “I’m prepared to allow you a handsome profit.”

Cleggett determined to find out how far he would go.

“You might be willing to pay as much as $5,000 for her–for the old hulk over there in the canal?”

Loge stopped playing with the spoon and looked searchingly into Cleggett’s face. Then he said:

“I will. Turn her over to me the way she was the day you bought her, and I’ll give you $5,000.” He paused, and then repeated, stressing the words: “MIND YOU, WITH EVERYTHING IN HER THE WAY IT WAS THE DAY YOU BOUGHT HER.”

Cleggett fumbled with his fingers in a waistcoat pocket, drew out the torn piece of counterfeit money which he had taken from the dead hand, and flung it on the table.

“Five thousand dollars,” he said, “in THAT kind of money?”

Loge looked at it with eyes that suddenly contracted. Clever dissembler that he was, he could not prevent an involuntary start. He licked his lips, and Cleggett judged that perhaps his mouth felt a little dry. But these were the only signs he made. Indeed, when he spoke it was with something almost like an air of relief.

“Come,” he said, “now we’re down to brass tacks at last on this proposition. Mr. Detective, name your real price.”

Cleggett did not answer immediately. He appeared to consider his real price. But in reality he was thinking that there was no longer any doubt of the origin of the explosion. Since Loge practically acknowledged the counterfeit money, the man who had died with this piece of it in his hand must have been one of Loge’s men. But he only said:

“Why do you call me a detective?”

Loge shrugged his shoulders. Then he said again: “Your real price?”

“What,” said Cleggett, trying him out, “do you think of $20,000?”

The other gave a long, low whistle.

“Gad!” he cried, “what crooks you bulls are.”

“It’s not so much,” said Cleggett deliberately, “when one takes everything into consideration.”

Loge appeared to meditate. Then he said: “That figure is out of the question. I’ll give you $10,000 and not a cent more.”

“You want her pretty badly,” said Cleggett. “Or you want what’s on her.”

“Why,” said Loge, with an assumption of great frankness, “between you and me I don’t care a damn about your boat. I think we understand each other. I’m buying her to get what’s on her.”

“Suppose I sell you what’s on her for $10,000 and keep the ship,” said Cleggett, wondering what WAS on the Jasper B.

“Agreed,” said Loge.

“Since we’re being so frank with one another,” said Cleggett, “would you mind telling me why you didn’t come to me at the start with an offer to buy, instead of making such a nuisance of yourself?”

“Eh?” Loge appeared genuinely surprised. “Why should I pay you any money if I could get it, or destroy it, without that? Besides, how was I to know you could be bought?”

Cleggett wondered more than ever what piece of evidence the hold of the Jasper B. contained. He felt certain that it was not merely counterfeit bills. Cleggett determined upon a minute and thorough search of the hold.

“You’ll send for it?” said Cleggett, still trying to get a more definite idea of what “it” was, without revealing that he did not know.

“I’ll come myself with a taxicab,” said Loge.

Cleggett rose, smiling; he had found out as much as he could expect to learn.

“On the whole,” he said, “I think that I prefer to keep the Jasper B. and everything that’s in her. But before I leave I must thank you for the pleasure I have derived from our little talk–and the information as well. You can hardly imagine how you have interested me. Will you kindly step back and let me pass?”

Loge got to his feet with a muttered oath; his face went livid and a muscle worked in his throat; his fingers contracted like the claws of some big and powerful cat. But, out of respect for Cleggett’s pistol, he stepped backward.

“You have confessed to making counterfeit money,” went on Cleggett, enjoying the situation, “and you have as good as told me that there are further evidences of crime on board the Jasper B. You can rest assured that I will find them. You have also betrayed the fact that you planned to blow my ship up, and there are several other little matters which you have shed light upon.

“I am not a detective. Nevertheless, I hope in the near future to see you behind the bars and to help put you there. It may interest you to know that my opinion of your intellect is no higher than my opinion of your character. You seem to me to have a vast conceit of your own cleverness, which is not justified by the facts. You are a very stupid fellow; a–a–what is the slang word? Boob, I believe.”

But while Cleggett was finishing his remarks a subtle change stole over Loge’s countenance. His attitude, which had been one of baffled rage, relaxed. As Cleggett paused the sneer came back upon Loge’s lips.

“Boob,” he said quietly, “boob is the word. Look above you.”

A sharp metallic click overhead gave point to Loge’s words. Looking up, Cleggett saw that a trap-door had opened in the ceiling, and through the aperture Pierre, who had left the room some moments before with the bartender, was pointing a revolver, which he had just cocked, at Cleggett’s head. He sighted along the barrel with an eager, anticipatory smile upon his face; Pierre would, no doubt, have preferred to see a man boiled in oil rather than merely shot, but shooting was something, and Pierre evidently intended to get all the delight possible out of the situation.

Cleggett’s own pistol was within an inch of Loge’s stomach.

“I was willing to pay you real money,” said Loge, “for the sake of peace. But you’re a damned fool if you think you can throw me down and then walk straight out of here to headquarters.” Then he added, showing his yellow teeth: “You WOULD bring pistols into the conversation, you know. That was YOUR idea. And now you’re in a devil of a fix.”

The man certainly had an iron nerve; he spoke as calmly as if Cleggett’s weapon were not in existence; there was nothing but the pressure of a finger wanting to send both him and Cleggett to eternity. Yet he jested; he laid his strong and devilish will across Cleggett’s mentality; it was a duel in which the two minds met and tried each other like swords; the first break in intention, and one or the other was a dead man. Cleggett felt the weight of that powerful and evil soul upon his own almost as if it were a physical thing.

“You are not altogether safe yourself,” said Cleggett grimly, with his eyes fixed on Pierre’s and his pistol touching Loge’s waistband. “If Pierre so much as winks an eye–if you move a hair’s breadth–I’ll put a stream of bullets through YOU. Understand?”

How long this singular psychological combat might have lasted before a nerve quivered somewhere and brought the denouement of a double death, there is no telling. For accident (or fate) intervened to pluck these antagonists back into life and rob the gloating Pierre of the happiness of seeing two men perish without danger to himself. Something of uncertain shape, but of a blue color, loomed vaguely behind Pierre’s head; loomed and suddenly descended to the accompaniment of a piercing shriek. Pierre’s pistol went off, but he had evidently been stricken between the shoulders; the ball went wild, and the pistol itself dropped from his hand, another cartridge exploding as it hit the floor. The next instant Pierre tumbled headlong through the hole, landing upon Loge, who, not braced for the shock, went down himself.

As the two men struggled to rise a strange figure precipitated itself from the room above, feet first, and hit both of them, knocking them down again. It was a tall man, thin and lank, clad only in a suit of silk pajamas of the color known as baby blue; he was barefoot, and Cleggett, with that lucid grasp of detail which comes to men oftener in nightmares than in real life, noticed that he had a bunion at the large joint of his right great toe.

If the man was startling, he was no less startled himself. Leaping from the struggling forms of Pierre and Loge, who defeated each other’s frantic efforts to rise, he was across the barroom in three wild bounds, shrieking shrilly as he leaped; he bolted through the west door and cleared the verandah at a jump.

Loge, gaining his feet, was after the man in blue in an instant, evidently thinking no more of Cleggett than if the latter had been in Madagascar. And as for Cleggett, although he might have shot down Loge a dozen times over, he was so astonished at what he saw that the thought never entered his head. He had, in fact, forgotten that he held a pistol in his hand. Pierre scrambled to his feet and followed Loge.

Cleggett, running after them, saw the man in the blue pajamas sprinting along the sandy margin of the bay. But Loge, his hat gone, his coat tails level in the wind behind him, and his large patent leather shoes flashing in the morning sunlight, was overhauling him with long and powerful strides. Cleggett saw the quarry throw a startled glance over his shoulder; he was no match for the terrible Loge in speed, and he must have realized it with despair, for he turned sharply at right angles and rushed into the sea. Loge unhesitatingly plunged after him, and had caught him by the shoulder and whirled him about before he had reached a swimming depth. They clinched, in water mid-thigh deep, and then Cleggett saw Loge plant his fist, with scientific precision and awful force, upon the point of the other’s jaw. The man in the blue pajamas collapsed; he would have dropped into the water, but Loge caught him as he fell, threw his body across a shoulder with little apparent effort, and trotted back into the house with him.

Cleggett had left his sword cane in the barroom, but he judged it would be just as well to allow it to remain there for the present. He turned and walked meditatively across the sands towards the Jasper B.

CHAPTER XII

THE SECOND OBLONG BOX

When Cleggett returned to the ship he found Captain Abernethy in conversation with a young man of deprecating manner whom the Captain introduced as the Rev. Simeon Calthrop.

“I been tellin’ him,” said the Cap’n, pitching his voice shrilly above the din the workmen made, and not giving the Rev. Mr. Calthrop an opportunity to speak for himself, “I been tellin’ him it may be a long time before the Jasper B. gets to the Holy Land.”

“Do you want to go to Palestine?” asked Cleggett of Mr. Calthrop, who stood with downcast eyes and fingers that worked nervously at the lapels of his rusty black coat.

“I’ve knowed him sence he was a boy. He’s in disgrace, Simeon Calthrop is,” shrieked the Captain, preventing the preacher from answering Cleggett’s question, and scorning to answer it directly himself. “Been kicked out of his church fur kissin’ a married woman, and can’t get another one.” (The Cap’n meant another church.)

The preacher merely raised his eyes, which were large and brown and slightly protuberant, and murmured with a kind of brave humility:

“It is true.”

“But why do you want to go to Palestine?” said Cleggett.

“She sung in the choir and she had three children,” screamed Cap’n Abernethy, “and she limped some. Folks say she had a cork foot. Hey, Simeon, DID she have a cork foot?”

Mr. Calthrop flushed painfully, but he forced himself courageously to answer. “Mr. Abernethy, I do not know,” he said humbly, and with the look of a stricken animal in his big brown eyes.

He was a handsome young fellow of about thirty–or he would have been handsome, Cleggett thought, had he not been so emaciated. His hair was dark and brown and inclined to curl, his forehead was high and white and broad, and his fingers were long and white and slender; his nose was well modeled, but his lips were a trifle too full. Although he belonged to one of the evangelical denominations, the Rev. Mr. Calthrop affected clothing very like the regulation costume of the Episcopalian clergy; but this clothing was now worn and torn and dusty. Buttons were gone here and there; the knees of the unpressed trousers were baggy and beginning to be ragged, and the sole of one shoe flapped as he walked. He had a three days’ growth of beard and no baggage.

When Cap’n Abernethy had delivered himself and walked away, the Rev. Mr. Calthrop confirmed the story of his own disgrace, speaking in a low but clear voice, and with a gentle and wistful smile.

“I am one of the most miserable of sinners, Mr. Cleggett,” he said. “I have proved myself to be that most despicable thing, an unworthy minister. I was tempted and I fell.”

The Rev. Mr. Calthrop seemed to find the sort of satisfaction in confessing his sins to the world that the medieval flagellants found in scoring themselves with whips; they struck their bodies; he drew forth his soul and beat it publicly.

Cleggett learned that he had set himself as a punishment and a mortification the task of obtaining his daily bread by the work of his hands. It was his intention to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, refusing all assistance except that which he earned by manual labor. After such a term of years as should satisfy all men (and particularly his own spiritual sense) of the genuineness of his penitence, he would apply to his church for reinstatement, and ask for an appointment to some difficult mission in a wild and savage country. The Rev. Mr. Calthrop intimated that if he chose to accept rehabilitation on less arduous terms, he might obtain it; but the poignancy of his own sense of failure drove him to extremes.

“Are you sure,” said Cleggett sternly, “that you are not making a luxury of this very penitence itself? Are you sure that it would not be more acceptable to Heaven if you forgave yourself more easily?”

“Alas, yes, I am sure!” said Mr. Calthrop, with a sigh and his calm and wistful smile. “I know myself too well! I know my own soul. I am cursed with a fatal magnetism which women find it impossible to resist. And I am continually tempted to permit it to exert itself. This is the cross that I bear through life.”

“You should marry some good woman,” said Cleggett.

“I do not feel that I am worthy,” said Mr. Calthrop meekly. “And think of the pain my wife would experience in seeing me continually tempted by some woman who believed herself to be my psychic affinity!”

“You are a thought too subtle, Mr. Calthrop,” said Cleggett bluntly. “But I suppose you cannot help that. To each of us his destiny. I am prepared, until I see some evidence to the contrary, to believe your repentance to be genuine. In the meantime, we need a ship’s chaplain. If your conscience permits, you may have the post–combining it, however, with the vocation of a common sailor before the mast. I am inclined to agree with you that manual labor will do you good. Some time or another, in her progress around the world, the Jasper B. will undoubtedly touch at a coast within walking distance of Jerusalem. There we will put you ashore. Before we sail you can put in your time holystoning the deck.

“The deck of the Jasper B., said Cleggett, looking at it, “to all appearances, has not been holystoned for some years. You will find in the forecastle several holystones that have never been used, and may begin at once.”

Cleggett, if his tastes had not inclined him towards a more active and adventurous life, would have made a good bishop, for he knew how to combine justice and mercy. And yet few bishops have possessed his rapidity of decision, when compelled, upon the spur of the moment, to become the physician of an ailing soul. He had determined in a flash to make the man ship’s chaplain, that Calthrop might come into close contact with other spiritual organisms and not think too exclusively of his own.

The Rev. Mr. Calthrop thanked him with becoming gratitude and departed to get the new holystones.

By three o’clock that afternoon, with such celerity had the work gone forward, Mr. Watkins, the contractor, announced to Cleggett that his task was finished, except for the removal of the rubbish in the hold. Cleggett, going carefully over the vessel, and examining the new parts with a brochure on the construction and navigation of schooners in his hand, verified the statement.

“She is ready to sail,” said Cleggett, standing by the new wheel with a swelling heart, and sweeping the vessel from bowsprit to rudder with a gradual glance.

It was a look almost paternal in its pride; Cleggett loved the Jasper B. She was an idea that no one else but Cleggett could have had.

“Sail?” said Mr. Watkins.

“Why not?” said Cleggett, puzzled at his tone.

“Oh, nothing,” said Mr. Watkins. “It’s none of my business. My business was to do the work I was hired to do according to specifications. Further than that, nothing.”

“But why did you think I was having the work done?”

“Can’t say I thought,” said Mr. Watkins. “I took the job, and I done it. Had an idea mebby you were in the movin’ picture game.”

Mr. Watkins, as he talked, had been regarding Cap’n Abernethy, who in turn was looking at the mainmast. There seemed to be something in the very way Cap’n Abernethy looked at the mainmast which jarred on Mr. Watkins. Mr. Watkins dropped his voice, indicating the Cap’n with a curved, disparaging thumb, as he asked Cleggett:

“Is HE going to sail her?”

“Why not?”

“Oh–nothing; nothing at all,” said Mr. Watkins. “It’s none o’ MY business.”

Cleggett began to be a little annoyed. “Have you,” he said with dignity, and fixing a rather stern glance upon Mr. Watkins, “have you any reason to doubt Cap’n Abernethy’s ability as a sailing master?”

“No, indeed,” said Mr. Watkins cheerfully, “not as a sailing master. He may be the best in the world, for all I know. _I_ never seen him sail anything. I never heard him play the violin, neither, for that matter, and he may be a regular jim-dandy on the violin for all I know.”

“You are facetious,” said Cleggett stiffly.

“Meaning I ain’t paid to be fresh, eh?” said Mr. Watkins. “And right you are, too. And there’s all that junk down in the hold to pass out and cart away.”

Cleggett personally supervised this removal, standing on the deck by the hatchway and scanning everything that was handed up. The character of this junk has already been described. Every barrel or cask that was placed upon the deck was stove in with an ax before Cleggett’s eyes; he satisfied himself that every bottle was empty; he turned over the broken boxes and beer cases with his foot to see that they contained nothing.

But the work was three-quarters done before he found what he was looking for. From under a heap of debris, which had completely hidden it, towards the forward part of the vessel, the workmen unearthed an unpainted oblong box, almost seven feet in length. It was of substantial material and looked newer than any of the other stuff. Cleggett had it placed on one side of the hatchway and sat down on it. It was tightly nailed up; all of its surfaces were sound. Cleggett did not doubt that he would find in it what he wanted, yet in order to be on the safe side he continued to scrutinize everything else that came out of the hold.

But finally the hold was as empty as a drum, and Watkins and his men departed. The oblong box upon which Cleggett sat was the only possible receptacle of any sort in an undamaged condition, which had been in the hold. He determined to have it opened in the cabin.

As he arose from it he was struck by its resemblance to the box in Elmer’s charge, the dank box of Reginald Maltravers, which stood on one end near the cabin companionway, leaning against the port side of the cabin so that it was not visible from the road, which ran to the starboard of the Jasper B. But, since all oblong boxes are bound to have a general resemblance, Cleggett, at the time, thought little enough of this likeness.

He called to George and Mr. Calthrop, who, with Dr. Farnsworth, were forward receiving their first lecture on seamanship from Cap’n Abernethy and Kuroki, to carry the box into the cabin.

But as George and the Rev. Mr. Calthrop lifted the box to their shoulders, Cleggett was startled by a loud and violent oath; a veritable bellow of blasphemy that made him shudder. Turning, he saw than an automobile had paused in the road. In the forward part of the machine stood Loge, raving in an almost demoniac fury and pointing at the box. He writhed in the grip of three men who endeavored to restrain him. One of them was the sinister Pierre.

Hoisting himself, as it were, on a mounting billow of his own profanity, Loge cast himself with a wide swimming motion of his arms from the auto. But one of the men clung to him; they came to the ground together like tackler and tackled in a football game. The others cast themselves out of the machine and flung themselves upon their leader; he fought like a lion, but he was finally overpowered and thrown back into the auto, which was immediately started up and which made off towards Fairport at a rattling speed. Three hundred yards away, however, Loge rose again and shook a furious fist at the Jasper B., and though Cleggett could not distinguish the words, the sense of Loge’s impotent rage rolled towards him on the wind in a roaring, vibrant bass.

The sight of the box that he had not been able to buy, in Cleggett’s possession, had stirred him beyond all caution; he had actually contemplated an attempt to rush the Jasper B. in broad daylight.

But while this queer tableau of baffled rage was enacting itself on the starboard bow of the Jasper B., a no less strange and far less explicable thing was occurring on the port side. The swish of oars and the ripple of a moving boat drew Cleggett’s attention in that direction as Loge’s booming threats grew fainter. He saw that two oarsmen, near the eastern and farther side of the canal, had allowed the dainty, varnished little craft they were supposed to propel to come to a rest in spite of the evident displeasure of a man who sat in its stern. This third man was the same that Cleggett had seen on the deck of the Annabel Lee with a spy glass, and again that same morning driving the two almost nude figures up and down the canal.

The two oarsmen, Cleggett saw with surprise, rowed with shackled feet; their feet were, indeed, chained to the boat itself. About the wrists of each were steel bands; fixed to these bands were chains, the other ends of which were locked to their oars. They were, in effect, galley slaves.

All this iron somewhat hampered their movements. But the reason of their pause was an engrossing interest in the box of Reginald Maltravers, which stood, as has already been said, on the port side of the cabin, on one end, and so was visible from their boat. They were looking at it with slack oars, dropped jaws and starting eyes; the thing seemed to have fascinated them and bereft them of motion; it was as if they were unable to get past it at all. Elmer, worn out by his many long vigils, lay asleep on the deck at the foot of the box, with an arm flung over his face.

The stout man, after vainly endeavoring to start his oarsmen with words, took up an extra oar and began vigorously prodding them