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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