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Aunt Jane's Nieces Out West by Edith Van Dyne

Part 3 out of 4

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going to stand by this young fellow, with all my influence, in case those
hounds try to make him trouble."

Arthur did not reply at once. He puffed his cigar silently while he
revolved the startling accusation in his mind.

"Both you and Patsy are staunch friends," he observed, after a while,
"and I have noticed that your intuition as regards character is seldom
at fault. But I advise you, in this instance, not to be hasty, for--"

"I know; you are going to refer to those pearls."

"Naturally. If I don't, Le Drieux will, as you have yourself prophesied.
Pearls--especially such pearls as these--are rare and easy to recognize.
The world does not contain many black-pearls, for instance, such as that
you are wearing. An expert--a man with a photograph that strongly
resembles young Jones--is tracing some stolen pearls of great value--a
collection, I think you said. We find Jones, a man seemingly unknown
here, giving away a number of wonderful pearls that are worthy a place in
any collection. Admit it is curious, Uncle John. It may be all a
coincidence, of course; but how do you account for it, sir?"

"Jones has an island in the South Seas, a locality where most of the
world's famous pearls have been found."



"It is not on any map. This man, Le Drieux, positively stated that there
is no such island, did he not?"

Uncle John rubbed his chin, a gesture that showed he was disturbed.

"He was not positive. He said he thought there was no such island."

"Well, sir?"

"If Jones could lie about his island, he would be capable of the theft of
those pearls," admitted Mr. Merrick reluctantly.

"That is conclusive, sir."

"But he isn't capable of the theft. Le Drieux states that Jack Andrews is
a society swell, an all-around confidence man, and a gambler. Jones is a
diffident and retiring, but a very manly young fellow, who loves quiet
and seems to have no bad habits. You can't connect the two in any
possible way."

Again Arthur took time to consider.

"I have no desire to suspect Jones unjustly," he said. "In fact, I have
been inclined to like the fellow. And yet--his quaint stories and his
foolish expenditures have made me suspicious from the first. You have
scarcely done justice to his character in your description, sir. To us he
appears diffident, retiring, and rather weak, in a way, while in his
intercourse with Goldstein he shows a mailed fist. He can be hard as
nails, on occasion, as we know, and at times he displays a surprising
knowledge of the world and its ways--for one who has been brought up on
an out-of-the-way island. What do we know about him, anyway? He tells a
tale no one can disprove, for the South Seas are full of small islands,
some of which are probably unrecorded on the charts. All this might
possibly be explained by remembering that a man like Jack Andrews is
undoubtedly a clever actor."

"Exactly!" said a jubilant voice behind them, and Mr. Isidore Le Drieux
stepped forward and calmly drew up a chair, in which he seated himself.
"You will pardon me, gentlemen, for eavesdropping, but I was curious to
know what you thought of this remarkable young man who calls himself
'A. Jones.'"

Arthur faced the intruder with a frown. He objected to being startled in
this manner. "You are a detective?" he asked.

"Oh, scarcely that, sir," Le Drieux replied in a deprecating way. "My
printed card indicates that I am a merchant, but in truth I am a special
agent, employed by the largest pearl and gem dealers in the world, a firm
with branches in every large European and American city. My name is Le
Drieux, sir, at your service," and with a flourish he presented his card.

The young rancher preferred to study the man's face.

"I am a sort of messenger," he continued, placidly. "When valuable
consignments of jewels are to be delivered, I am the carrier instead of
the express companies. The method is safer. In twenty-six years of this
work I have never lost a single jewel."

"One firm employs you exclusively, then?"

"One firm. But it has many branches."

"It is a trust?"

"Oh, no; we have many competitors; but none very important. Our closest
rival, for instance, has headquarters on this very coast--in San
Francisco--but spreads, as we do, over the civilized world. Yet
Jephson's--that's the firm--do not claim to equal our business. They deal
mostly in pearls."

"Pearls, eh?" said Arthur, musingly. "Then it was your firm that lost the
valuable collection of pearls you mentioned to Mr. Merrick?"

"No. They were the property of Countess Ahmberg, of Vienna. But we had
sold many of the finest specimens to the countess and have records of
their weight, size, shape and color. The one you are now wearing, sir,"
pointing to Uncle John's scarf pin, "is one of the best black pearls ever
discovered. It was found at Tremloe in 1883 and was originally purchased
by our firm. In 1887 I took it to Tiffany, who sold it to Prince Godesky,
of Warsaw. I carried it to him, with other valuable purchases, and after
his death it was again resold to our firm. It was in October, 1904, that
I again became the bearer of the pearl, delivering it safely to Countess
Ahmberg at her villa. It was stolen from her, together with 188 other
rare pearls, valued at a half million dollars, a little over a year ago."

"This pearl, sir," said Uncle John stiffly, "is not the one you refer
to. It was found on the shores of the island of Sangoa, and you have
never seen it before."

Le Drieux smiled sweetly as he brushed the ashes from his cigar.

"I am seldom mistaken in a pearl, especially one that I have handled,"
said he. "Moreover, a good pearl becomes historic, and it is my business
to know the history of each and every one in existence."

"Even those owned by Jephson's?" asked Arthur.

"Yes; unless they were acquired lately. I have spoken in this manner in
order that you may understand the statements I am about to make, and I
beg you to listen carefully: Three daring pearl robberies have taken
place within the past two years. The first was a collection scarcely
inferior to that of the Countess Ahmberg. A bank messenger was carrying
it through the streets of London one evening, to be delivered to Lady
Grandison, when he was stabbed to the heart and the gems stolen.
Singularly enough, Jack Andrews was passing by and found the dying
messenger. He called for the police, but when they arrived the messenger
had expired. The fate of the pearls has always remained a mystery,
although a large reward has been offered for their recovery."

"Oh; a reward."

"Naturally, sir. Four months later Princess Lemoine lost her wonderful
pearl necklace while sitting in a box at the Grand Opera in Paris. This
was one of the cleverest thefts that ever baffled the police, for the
necklace was never recovered. We know, however, that Jack Andrews
occupied the box next to that of the princess. A coincidence--perhaps. We
now come to the robbery of the Countess Ahmberg, the third on the list.
Jack Andrews was a guest at her house, as I have explained to you. No
blame has ever attached to this youthful adventurer, yet my firm, always
interested in the pearls they have sold, advised me to keep an eye on him
when he returned to America. I did so.

"Now, Mr. Merrick, I will add to the tale I told you the other night.
Andrews behaved very well for a few weeks after he landed at New York;
then he disposed of seven fine pearls and--disappeared. They were not
notable pearls, especially, but two of them I was able to trace to the
necklace of Princess Lemoine. I cabled my firm. They called attention to
the various rewards offered and urged me to follow Andrews. That was
impossible; he had left no clue. But chance favored me. Coming here to
Los Angeles on business, I suddenly ran across my quarry: Jack Andrews.
He has changed a bit. The mustache is gone, he is in poor health, and I
am told he was nearly drowned in the ocean the other day. So at first I
was not sure of my man. I registered at this hotel and watched him
carefully. Sometimes I became positive he was Andrews; at other times I
doubted. But when he began distributing pearls to you, his new friends,
all doubt vanished. There, gentlemen, is my story in a nutshell. What do
you think of it?"

Both Mr. Merrick and young Weldon had listened with rapt interest, but
their interpretation of the tale, which amounted to a positive
accusation of A. Jones, showed the difference in the two men's natures.

"I think you are on the wrong trail, sir," answered Mr. Merrick.
"Doubtless you have been misled by a casual resemblance, coupled with
the fact that Andrews is suspected of stealing pearls and Jones is known
to possess pearls--the pearls being of rare worth in both cases. Still,
you are wrong. For instance, if you have the weight and measurement of
the Tremloe black pearl, you will find they do not fit the pearl I am
now wearing."

Le Drieux smiled genially.

"It is unnecessary to make the test, sir," he replied. "The pearl Andrews
gave to Miss Doyle is as unmistakable as your own. But I am curious to
hear your opinion, Mr. Weldon."

"I have been suspicious of young Jones from the first," said Arthur; "but
I have been studying this boy's character, and he is positively incapable
of the crimes you accuse him of, such as robbery and murder. In other
words, whatever Jones may be, he is not Andrews; or, if by chance he
proves to be Andrews, then Andrews is innocent of crime. All your
theories are based upon a desire to secure rewards, backed by a chain of
circumstantial evidence."

"A chain," said Le Drieux, grimly, "that will hold Jack Andrews fast in
its coils, clever though he is."

"Circumstantial evidence," retorted Mr. Merrick, "doesn't amount to
shucks! It is constantly getting good people into trouble and allowing
rascals to escape. Nothing but direct evidence will ever convince me that
a man is guilty."

Le Drieux shrugged his shoulders.

"The pearls are evidence enough," said he.

"To be sure. Evidence enough to free the poor boy of suspicion. You may
be a better messenger than you are a detective, Mr. Le Drieux, but that
doesn't convince me you are a judge of pearls."

The agent rose with a frown of annoyance.

"I am going to have Jack Andrews arrested in the morning," he remarked.
"If you warn him, in the meantime, I shall charge you with complicity."

Uncle John nearly choked with anger, but he maintained his dignity.

"I have no knowledge of your Jack Andrews," he replied, and turned his



Uncle John and Arthur decided not to mention to the girls this astounding
charge of Isidore Le Drieux, fearing the news would make them nervous and
disturb their rest, so when the men joined the merry party in the alcove
they did not refer to their late interview.

Afterward, however, when all but Arthur Weldon had gone to bed and he was
sitting in Uncle John's room, the two discussed the matter together with
much seriousness.

"We ought to do something, sir," said Arthur. "This Jones is a mere
boy, and in poor health at that. He has no friends, so far as we
know, other than ourselves. Therefore it is our duty to see him
through this trouble."

Mr. Merrick nodded assent.

"We cannot prevent the arrest," he replied, "for Le Drieux will not
listen to reason. If we aided Jones to run away he would soon be caught.
Absurd as the charge is, the youngster must face it and prove his

Arthur paced the floor in a way that indicated he was disturbed by
this verdict.

"He ought to have no difficulty in proving he is not Jack Andrews," he
remarked, reflectively; "and yet--those pearls are difficult to explain.
Their similarity to the ones stolen in Europe fooled the expert, Le
Drieux, and they are likely to fool a judge or jury. I hope Jones has
some means of proving that he brought the pearls from Sangoa. That would
settle the matter at once."

"As soon as he is arrested we will get him a lawyer--the best in this
country," said Mr. Merrick. "More than that we cannot do, but a good
lawyer will know the proper method of freeing his client."

The next morning they were up early, awaiting developments; but Le Drieux
seemed in no hurry to move. He had breakfast at about nine o'clock, read
his newspaper for a half hour or so, and then deliberately left the
hotel. All of Mr. Merrick's party had breakfasted before this and soon
after Le Drieux had gone away young Jones appeared in the lobby. He was
just in time to see the Stanton girls drive away in their automobile,
accompanied by their Aunt Jane.

"The motion picture stars must be late to-day," said the boy, looking
after them.

"They are," answered Patsy, standing beside him at the window; "but Maud
says this happens to be one of their days of leisure. No picture is to be
taken and they have only to rehearse a new play. But it's a busy life,
seems to me, and it would really prove hard work if the girls didn't
enjoy it so much."

"Yes," said he, "it's a fascinating profession. I understand, and nothing
can be called _work_ that is interesting. When we are obliged to do
something that we do not like to do, it becomes 'work.' Otherwise, what
is usually called 'work' is mere play, for it furnishes its quota of

He was quite unconscious of any impending misfortune and when Beth and
Louise joined Patsy in thanking him for his pretty gifts of the pearls he
flushed with pleasure. Evidently their expressions of delight were very
grateful to his ears.

Said Uncle John, in a casual way: "Those are remarkably fine pearls, to
have come from such an island as Sangoa."

"But we find much better ones there, I assure you," replied the boy. "I
have many in my room of much greater value, but did not dare ask you to
accept them as gifts."

"Do many pearls come from Sangoa, then?" asked Arthur.

"That is our one industry," answered the young man. "Many years ago my
father discovered the pearl fisheries. It was after he had purchased the
island, but he recognized the value of the pearls and brought a colony of
people from America to settle at Sangoa and devote their time to pearl
fishing. Once or twice every year we send a ship to market with a
consignment of pearls to our agent, and--to be quite frank with you--that
is why I am now able to build the picture theatres I have contracted for,
as well as the film factory."

"I see," said Uncle John. "But tell me this, please: Why is Sangoa so
little known, or rather, so quite unknown?"

"My father," Jones returned, "loved quiet and seclusion. He was willing
to develop the pearl fisheries, but objected to the flock of adventurers
sure to descend upon his island if its wealth of pearls became generally
known. His colony he selected with great care and with few exceptions
they are a sturdy, wholesome lot, enjoying the peaceful life of Sangoa
and thoroughly satisfied with their condition there. It is only within
the last two years that our American agents knew where our pearls came
from, yet they could not locate the island if they tried. I do not feel
the same desire my father did to keep the secret, although I would
dislike to see Sangoa overrun with tourists or traders."

He spoke so quietly and at the same time so convincingly that both
Arthur and Uncle John accepted his explanation unquestioningly.
Nevertheless, in the embarrassing dilemma in which Jones would presently
be involved, the story would be sure to bear the stamp of unreality to
any uninterested hearer.

The girls had now begun to chatter over the theatre plans, and their
"financial backer"--as Patsy Doyle called him--joined them with eager
interest. Arthur sat at a near-by desk writing a letter; Uncle John
glanced over the morning paper; Inez, the Mexican nurse, brought baby to
Louise for a kiss before it went for a ride in its perambulator.

An hour had passed when Le Drieux entered the lobby in company with a
thin-faced, sharp-eyed man in plain clothes. They walked directly toward
the group that was seated by the open alcove window, and Arthur Weldon,
observing them and knowing what was about to happen, rose from the
writing-desk and drew himself tensely together as he followed them. Uncle
John lowered his paper, frowned at Le Drieux and then turned his eyes
upon the face of young Jones.

It was the thin-featured man who advanced and lightly touched the
boy's arm.

"Beg pardon, sir," said he, in even, unemotional tones. "You are Mr.
Andrews, I believe--Mr. Jack Andrews?"

The youth turned his head to look at his questioner.

"No, sir," he answered with a smile. "A case of mistaken identity. My
name is Jones." Then, continuing his speech to Patsy Doyle, he said:
"There is no need to consider the acoustic properties of our theatres,
for the architect--"

"Pardon me again," interrupted the man, more sternly. "I am positive this
is _not_ a case of mistaken identity. We have ample proof that Jack
Andrews is parading here, under the alias of 'A. Jones.'"

The boy regarded him with a puzzled expression.

"What insolence!" muttered Beth in an under-tone but audible enough to be
distinctly heard.

The man flushed slightly and glanced at Le Drieux, who nodded his head.
Then he continued firmly:

"In any event, sir, I have a warrant for your arrest, and I hope you will
come with me quietly and so avoid a scene."

The boy grew pale and then red. His eyes narrowed as he stared fixedly at
the officer. But he did not change his position, nor did he betray
either fear or agitation. In a voice quite unmoved he asked:

"On what charge do you arrest me?"

"You are charged with stealing a valuable collection of pearls from the
Countess Ahmberg, at Vienna, about a year ago."

"But I have never been in Vienna."

"You will have an opportunity to prove that."

"And my name is not Andrews."

"You must prove that, also."

The boy thought for a moment. Then he asked:

"Who accuses me?"

"This gentleman; Mr. Le Drieux. He is an expert in pearls, knows
intimately all those in the collection of the countess and has recognized
several which you have recently presented to your friends, as among those
you brought from Austria."

Again Jones smiled.

"This is absurd, sir," he remarked.

The officer returned the smile, but rather grimly.

"It is the usual protest, Mr. Andrews. I don't blame you for the denial,
but the evidence against you is very strong. Will you come? And quietly?"

"I am unable to offer physical resistance," replied the young fellow,
as he slowly rose from his chair and displayed his thin figure.
"Moreover," he added, with a touch of humor, "I believe there's a fine
for resisting an officer. I suppose you have a legal warrant. May I be
permitted to see it?"

The officer produced the warrant. Jones perused it slowly and then handed
it to Mr. Merrick, who read it and passed it back to the officer.

"What shall I do, sir?" asked the boy.

"Obey the law," answered Uncle John. "This officer is only the law's
instrument and it is useless to argue with him. But I will go with you to
the police station and furnish bail."

Le Drieux shook his head.

"Quite impossible, Mr. Merrick," he said. "This is not a bailable

"Are you sure?"

"I am positive. This is an extradition case, of international
importance. Andrews, after an examination, will be taken to New York and
from there to Vienna, where his crime was committed."

"But he has committed no crime!"

Le Drieux shrugged his shoulders.

"He is accused, and he must prove his innocence," said he.

"But that is nonsense!" interposed Arthur warmly. "There is no justice in
such an assertion. If I know anything of the purpose of the law, and I
think I do, you must first prove this man's guilt before you carry him to
Austria to be tried by a foreign court."

"I don't care a snap for the purpose of the law," retorted Le Drieux.
"Our treaty with Austria provides for extradition, and that settles
it. This man is already under arrest. The judge who issued the warrant
believes that Jones is Jack Andrews and that Jack Andrews stole the
pearls from the Countess Ahmberg. Of course, the prisoner will have a
formal examination, when he may defend himself as best he can, but we
haven't made this move without being sure of our case, and it will be
rather difficult for him to escape the penalty of his crimes, clever
as he is."

"Clever?" It was Jones himself who asked this, wonderingly.

Le Drieux bowed to him with exaggerated politeness.

"I consider you the cleverest rogue in existence," said he. "But even the
cleverest may be trapped, in time, and your big mistake was in disposing
of those pearls so openly. See here," he added, taking from his pocket a
small packet. "Here are the famous Taprobane pearls--six of them--which
were found in your room a half hour ago. They, also, were a part of the
countess' collection."

"Oh, you have been to my room?"

"Under the authority of the law."

"And you have seen those pearls before?"

"Several times. I am an expert in pearls and can recognize their value at
a glance," said Le Drieux with much dignity.

Jones gave a little chuckle and then turned deprecatingly to Mr. Merrick.

"You need not come with me to the station, sir," said he; "but, if you
wish to assist me, please send me a lawyer and then go to the Continental
and tell Mr. Goldstein of my predicament."

"I will do that," promptly replied Uncle John.

Jones turned to bow to the girls.

"I hope you young ladies can forgive this disgraceful scene," he remarked
in a tone of regret rather then humiliation. "I do not see how any effort
of mine could have avoided it. It seems to be one of the privileges of
the people's guardians, in your free country, to arrest and imprison
anyone on a mere suspicion of crime. Here is a case in which someone has
sadly blundered, and I imagine it is the pompous gentleman who claims to
know pearls and does not," with a nod toward Le Drieux, who scowled

"It is an outrage!" cried Beth.

"It's worse than that," said Patsy; "but of course you can easily prove
your innocence."

"If I have the chance," the boy agreed. "But at present I am a prisoner
and must follow my captor."

He turned to the officer and bowed to indicate that he was ready to go.
Arthur shook the young fellow's hand and promised to watch his interests
in every possible way.

"Go with him now, Arthur," proposed Louise. "It's a hard thing to be
taken to jail and I'm sure he needs a friend at his side at this time."

"Good advice," agreed Uncle John. "Of course they'll give him a
preliminary hearing before locking him up, and if you'll stick to him
I'll send on a lawyer in double-quick time."

"Thank you," said the boy. "The lawyer first, Mr. Merrick, and then



Uncle John was off on his errands even before Jones and Arthur Weldon
had driven away from the hotel with the officer and Le Drieux. There had
been no "scene" and none of the guests of the hotel had any inkling of
the arrest.

Uncle John had always detested lawyers and so he realized that he was
sure to be a poor judge of the merits of any legal gentleman he might
secure to defend Jones.

"I may as well leave it to chance," he grumbled, as he drove down the
main boulevard. "The rascals are all alike!"

Glancing to this side and that, he encountered a sign on a building:
"Fred A. Colby, Lawyer."

"All right; I mustn't waste time," he said, and stopping his driver he
ascended a stairway to a gloomy upper hall. Here the doors, all in a row,
were alike forbidding, but one of them bore the lawyer's name, so Mr.
Merrick turned the handle and abruptly entered.

A sallow-faced young man, in his shirt-sleeves, was seated at a table
littered with newspapers and magazines, engaged in the task of putting
new strings on a battered guitar. As his visitor entered he looked up in
surprise and laid down the instrument.

"I want to see Colby, the lawyer," began Uncle John, regarding the
disordered room with strong disapproval.

"You are seeing him," retorted the young man, with a fleeting smile, "and
I'll bet you two to one that if you came here on business you will
presently go away and find another lawyer."

"Why?" questioned Mr. Merrick, eyeing him more closely.

"I don't impress people," explained Colby, picking up the guitar again.
"I don't inspire confidence. As for the law, I know it as well as
anyone--which is begging the question--but when I'm interviewed I have
to admit I've had no experience."

"No practice?"

"Just a few collections, that's all I sleep on that sofa yonder, eat at
a cafeteria, and so manage to keep body and soul together. Once in a
while a stranger sees my sign and needs a lawyer, so he climbs the
stairs. But when he meets me face to face he beats a hasty retreat."

As he spoke, Colby tightened a string and began strumming it to get it
tuned. Uncle John sat down on the one other chair in the room and
thought a moment.

"You've been admitted to the bar?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. Graduate of the Penn Law School."

"Then you know enough to defend an innocent man from an unjust

Colby laid down the guitar.

"Ah!" said he, "this grows interesting. I really believe you have half a
mind to give me your case. Sir, I know enough, I hope, to defend an
innocent man; but I can't promise, offhand, to save him, even from an
unjust accusation."

"Why not? Doesn't law stand for justice?"

"Perhaps; in the abstract. Anyhow, there's a pretty fable to that effect.
But law in the abstract, and law as it is interpreted and applied, are
not even second cousins. To be quite frank, I'd rather defend a guilty
person than an innocent one. The chances are I'd win more easily. Are you
sure your man is innocent?"

Uncle John scowled.

"Perhaps I'd better find another lawyer who is more optimistic," he said.

"Oh, I'm full of optimism, sir. My fault is that I'm not well known in
the courts and have no arrangement to divide my fees with the powers that
be. But I've been observing and I know the tricks of the trade as well as
any lawyer in California. My chief recommendation, however, is that I'm
eager to get a case, for my rent is sadly overdue. Why not try me, just
to see what I'm able to do? I'd like to find that out myself."

"This is a very important matter," asserted Mr. Merrick.

"Very. If I'm evicted for lack of rent-money my career is crippled."

"I mean the case is a serious one."

"Are you willing to pay for success?"


"Then I'll win it for you. Don't judge my ability by my present
condition, sir. Tell me your story and I'll get to work at once."

Uncle John rose with sudden decision.

"Put on your coat," he said, and while Colby obeyed with alacrity he gave
him a brief outline of the accusation brought against Jones. "I want you
to take my car," he added, "and hasten to the police station, that you
may be present at the preliminary examination. There will be plenty of
time to talk afterward."

Colby nodded. His coat and hat made the young lawyer quite presentable
and without another word he followed Mr. Merrick down the stairs and took
his seat in the motorcar. Next moment he was whirling down the street and
Uncle John looked after him with a half puzzled expression, as if he
wondered whether or not he had blundered in his choice of a lawyer.

A little later he secured a taxicab and drove to the office of the
Continental Film Manufacturing Company. Mr. Goldstein was in his office
but sent word that he was too busy to see visitors. Nevertheless, when
Mr. Merrick declared he had been sent by A. Jones, he was promptly
admitted to the manager's sanctum.

"Our friend, young Jones," he began, "has just been arrested by a

Goldstein's nervous jump fairly raised him off his chair; but in
an instant he settled back and shot an eager, interested look at
his visitor.

"What for, Mr. Merrick?" he demanded.

"For stealing valuable pearls from some foreign woman. A trumped-up
charge, of course."

Goldstein rubbed the palms of his hands softly together. His face wore a
look of supreme content.

"Arrested! Ah, that is bad, Mr. Merrick. It is very bad indeed. And it
involves us--the Continental, you know--in an embarrassing manner."

"Why so?" asked Uncle John.

"Can't you see, sir?" asked the manager, trying hard to restrain a
smile. "If the papers get hold of this affair, and state that our
president--our biggest owner--the man who controls the Continental
stock--is a common thief, the story will--eh--eh--put a bad crimp in
our business, so to speak."

Uncle John looked at the man thoughtfully.

"So Jones controls the Continental, eh?" he said. "How long since, Mr.

"Why, since the January meeting, a year and more ago. It was an
astonishing thing, and dramatic--believe _me_! At the annual meeting of
stockholders in walks this stripling--a mere kid--proves that he holds
the majority of stock, elects himself president and installs a new board
of directors, turning the tired and true builders of the business out in
the cold. Then, without apology, promise or argument, President Jones
walks out again! In an hour he upset the old conditions, turned our
business topsy-turvy and disappeared with as little regard for the
Continental as if it had been a turnip. That stock must have cost him
millions, and how he ever got hold of it is a mystery that has kept us
all guessing ever since. The only redeeming feature of the affair was
that the new board of directors proved decent and Jones kept away from us
all and let us alone. I'd never seen him until he came here a few days
ago and began to order me around. So, there, Mr. Merrick, you know as
much about Jones as I do."

Mr. Merrick was perplexed. The more he heard of young Jones the more
amazing; the boy seemed to be.

"Has the Continental lost money since Jones took possession?" he

"I think not," replied Goldstein, cautiously. "You're a business man, Mr.
Merrick, and can understand that our machinery--our business system--is
so perfect that it runs smoothly, regardless of who grabs the dividends.
What I object to is this young fellow's impertinence in interfering with
my work here. He walks in, reverses my instructions to my people, orders
me to do unbusinesslike things and raises hob with the whole

"Well, it belongs to him, Goldstein," said Uncle John, in defense of
the boy. "He is your employer and has the right to dictate. But just at
present he needs your help. He asked me to come here and tell you of
his arrest."

Goldstein shrugged his shoulders.

"His arrest is none of my business," was his reply. "If Jones stole the
money to buy Continental stock he must suffer the consequences. I'm
working for the stock, not for the individual."

"But surely you will go to the station and see what can be done for him?"
protested Uncle John.

"Surely I will not," retorted the manager. "What's the use? There isn't
even a foot of good picture film in so common a thing as the arrest of a
thief--and the censors would forbid it if there were. Let Jones fight
his own battles."

"It occurs to me," suggested Mr. Merrick, who was growing indignant,
"that Mr. Jones will be able to satisfy the court that he is not a thief,
and so secure his freedom without your assistance. What will happen then,
Mr. Goldstein?"

"Then? Why, it is still none of my business. I'm the manager of a motion
picture concern--one of the biggest concerns in the world--and I've
nothing to do with the troubles of my stockholders."

He turned to his desk and Mr. Merrick was obliged to go away without
farther parley. On his way out he caught a glimpse of Maud Stanton
passing through the building. She was dressed in the costume of an Indian
princess and looked radiantly beautiful. Uncle John received a nod and a
smile and then she was gone, without as yet a hint of the misfortune that
had overtaken A. Jones of Sangoa.

Returning to the hotel, rather worried and flustered by the morning's
events, he found the girls quietly seated in the lobby, busy over their

"Well, Uncle," said Patsy, cheerfully, "is Ajo still in limbo?"

"I suppose so," he rejoined, sinking into an easy chair beside her. "Is
Arthur back yet?"

"No," said Louise, answering for her husband, "he is probably staying to
do all he can for the poor boy."

"Did you get a lawyer?" inquired Beth.

"I got a fellow who claims to be a lawyer; but I'm not sure he will be
of any use."

Then he related his interview with Colby, to the amusement of his nieces,
all three of whom approved the course he had taken and were already
prepared to vouch for the briefless barrister's ability, on the grounds
that eccentricity meant talent.

"You see," explained Miss Patsy, "he has nothing else to do but jump
heart and soul into this case, so Ajo will be able to command his
exclusive services, which with some big, bustling lawyer would be

Luncheon was over before Arthur finally appeared, looking somewhat grave
and perturbed.

"They won't accept bail," he reported. "Jones must stay in jail until his
formal examination, and if they then decide that he is really Jack
Andrews he will remain in jail until his extradition papers arrive."

"When will he be examined?" asked Louise.

"Whenever the judge feels in the humor, it seems. Our lawyer demanded
Jones' release at once, on the ground that a mistake of identity had
been made; but the stupid judge is of the opinion that the charge
against our friend is valid. At any rate he refused to let him go. He
wouldn't even argue the case at present. He issues a warrant on a
charge of larceny, claps a man in jail whether innocent or not, and
refuses to let him explain anything or prove his innocence until a
formal examination is held."

"There is some justice in that," remarked Uncle John. "Suppose Jones is
guilty; it would be a mistake to let him go free until a thorough
examination had been made."

"And if he is innocent, he will have spent several days in jail, been
worried and disgraced, and there is no redress for the false
imprisonment. The judge won't even apologize to him!"

"It's all in the interests of law and order, I suppose," said Patsy; "but
the law seems dreadfully inadequate to protect the innocent. I suppose
it's because the courts are run by cheap and incompetent people who
couldn't earn a salary in any other way."

"Someone must run them, and it isn't an ambitious man's job," replied
Uncle John. "What do you think of the lawyer I sent you, Arthur?"

The young ranchman smiled.

"He's a wonder, Uncle. He seemed to know more about the case than Jones
or I did, and more about the law than the judge did. He's an
irrepressible fellow, and told that rascal Le Drieux a lot about pearls
that the expert never had heard before. Where did you find him, sir?"

Uncle John explained.

"Well," said Arthur, "I think Jones is in good hands. Colby has secured
him a private room at the jail, with a bath and all the comforts of home.
Meals are to be sent in from a restaurant and when I left the place the
jailer had gone out to buy Jones a stock of books to while away his
leisure hours--which are bound to be numerous. I'd no idea a prisoner
could live in such luxury."

"Money did it, I suppose," Patsy shrewdly suggested.

"Yes. Jones wrote a lot of checks. Colby got a couple of hundred for a
retaining fee and gleefully informed us it was more money than he had
ever owned at one time in all his previous career. I think he will earn
it, however."

"Where is he now?" asked Uncle John.

"Visiting all the newspaper offices, to 'buy white space,' as he put it.
In other words, Colby will bribe the press to silence, at least until
the case develops."

"I'm glad of that," exclaimed Beth. "What do you think of this queer
business, Arthur?"

"Why, I've no doubt of the boy's innocence, if that is what you mean.
I've watched him closely and am positive he is no more Jack Andrews than
I am. But I fear he will have a hard task to satisfy the judge that he is
falsely accused. It would be an admission of error, you see, and so the
judge will prefer to find him guilty. It is this same judge--Wilton, I
think his name is--who will conduct the formal examination, and to-day he
openly sneered at the mention of Sangoa. On the other hand, he evidently
believed every statement made by Le Drieux about the identity of the
pearls found in Jones' possession. Le Drieux has a printed list of the
Ahmberg pearls, and was able to check the Jones' pearls off this list
with a fair degree of accuracy. It astonished even me, and I could see
that Jones was equally amazed."

"Wouldn't it be queer if they convicted him!" exclaimed Beth.

"It would be dreadful, since he is innocent," said Patsy.

"There is no need to worry about that just at present," Arthur assured
them. "I am placing a great deal of confidence in the ability of
Lawyer Colby."



The Stanton girls and Mrs. Montrose came in early that afternoon. They
had heard rumors of the arrest of Jones and were eager to learn what had
occurred. Patsy and Beth followed them to their rooms to give them every
known detail and canvass the situation in all its phases.

"Goldstein has been an angel all afternoon," said Flo. "He grinned
and capered about like a schoolboy and some of us guessed he'd been
left a fortune."

"He ought to be ashamed of himself." Patsy indignantly asserted. "The man
admitted to Uncle John that Ajo is the biggest stockholder in the
Continental, the president, to boot; yet Goldstein wouldn't lift a finger
to help him and positively refused to obey his request to go to him after
he was arrested."

"I know about that," said Aunt Jane, quietly. "Goldstein talked to me
about the affair this afternoon and declared his conviction that young
Jones is really a pearl thief. He has taken a violent dislike to the boy
and is delighted to think his stock will be taken away from him."

Maud had silently listened to this dialogue as she dressed for dinner.
But now she impetuously broke into the conversation, saying:

"Something definite ought to be done for the boy. He needs intelligent
assistance. I'm afraid his situation is serious."

"That is what Arthur thinks," said Beth. "He says that unless he can
furnish proof that he is not Jack Andrews, and that he came by those
pearls honestly, he will be shipped to Austria for trial. No one knows
what those foreigners will do to him, but he would probably fare badly
in their hands."

"Such being the logical conclusion," said Maud, "we must make our fight
now, at the examination."

"Uncle John has engaged a lawyer," announced Patsy, "and if he proves
bright and intelligent he ought to be able to free Ajo."

"I'd like to see that lawyer, and take his measure," answered Maud,
musingly, and her wish was granted soon after they had finished dinner.
Colby entered the hotel, jaunty as ever, and Arthur met him and
introduced him to the girls.

"You must forgive me for coming on a disagreeable mission," began the
young attorney, "but I have promised the judge that I would produce all
the pearls Mr. Jones gave you, not later than to-morrow morning. He wants
them as evidence, and to compare privately with Le Drieux's list,
although he will likely have the expert at his elbow. So I can't promise
that you will ever get your jewels back again."

"Oh. You think, then, that Mr. Jones is guilty?" said Maud coldly.

"No, indeed; I believe he is innocent. A lawyer should never suspect his
client, you know. But to win I must prove my case, and opposed to me is
that terrible Le Drieux, who insists he is never mistaken."

"Arthur--Mr. Weldon--says you understand pearls as well as Mr. Le Drieux
does," suggested Patsy.

"I thank him; but he is in error. I chattered to the judge about
pearls, it is true, because I found he couldn't tell a pearl from a
glass bead; and I believe I even perplexed Le Drieux by hinting at a
broad knowledge on the subject which I do not possess. It was all a bit
of bluff on my part. But by to-morrow morning this knowledge will be a
fact, for I've bought a lot of books on pearls and intend to sit up all
night reading them."

"That was a clever idea," said Uncle John, nodding approval.

"So my mission here this evening is to get the pearls, that I may study
them as I read," continued Colby. "Heretofore I've only seen the things
through a plate glass window, or a show case. The success of our defense
depends upon our refuting Le Drieux's assertion that the pearls found in
Jones' possession are a part of the Countess Ahmberg's collection. He has
a full description of the stolen gems and I must be prepared to show
that none of the Jones' pearls is on the list."

"Can you do that?" asked Maud.

She was gazing seriously into the young man's eyes and this caused him to
blush and stammer a little as he replied:

"I--I hope to, Miss Stanton."

"And are you following no other line of defense?" she inquired.

He sat back and regarded the girl curiously for a moment.

"I would like you to suggest some other line of defense," he replied.
"I've tried to find one--and failed."

"Can't you prove he is not Jack Andrews?"

"Not if the identity of the pearls is established," said the lawyer. "If
the pearls were stolen, and if Jones cannot explain how he obtained
possession of them, the evidence is _prima facia_ that he _is_ Jack
Andrews, or at least his accomplice. Moreover, his likeness to the
photograph is somewhat bewildering, you must admit."

This gloomy view made them all silent for a time, each thoughtfully
considering the matter. Then Maud asked:

"Do you know the cash value of Mr. Jones' stock in the Continental
Film Company?"

Colby shook his head, but Uncle John replied:

"Goldstein told me it is worth millions."

"Ah!" exclaimed the girl. "There, then, is our proof."

The lawyer reflected, with knitted brows.

"I confess I don't quite see your point," said he.

"How much were those stolen pearls worth?" asked the girl.

"I don't know."

"You know they were not worth millions. Jack Andrews was an adventurer,
by Le Drieux's showing; he was a fellow who lived by his wits and
generally earned his livelihood by gambling with the scions of wealthy
families. Even had he stolen the Countess' pearls and disposed of the
collection at enormous prices--which a thief is usually unable to do--he
would still have been utterly unable to purchase a controlling interest
in the Continental stock."

She spoke with quiet assurance, but her statement roused the group to
sudden excitement.

"Hooray!" cried Patsy. "There's your proof, Mr. Colby."

"The logic of genius," commented Uncle John.

"Why, it's proof positive!" said Beth.

"It is certainly a strong argument in favor of the boy's innocence,"
asserted Arthur Weldon.

"Maud's a wonder when she wakes up. She ought to have been a 'lady
detective,'" remarked Flo, regarding her sister admiringly.

Colby, at first startled, was now also regarding Maud Stanton with open
admiration; but there was an odd smile on his lips, a smile of indulgent

"Le Drieux's statement connects Andrews with two other pearl robberies,"
he reminded her. "The necklace of the Princess Lemoine is said to be
priceless, and the Grandison collection stolen in London was scarcely
less valuable than that of Countess Ahmberg."

"Allowing all that," said Mr. Merrick, "two or three hundred thousand
dollars would doubtless cover the value of the entire lot. I am quite
certain, Mr. Colby, that Miss Stanton's suggestion will afford you an
excellent line of defense."

"I shall not neglect it, you may be sure," replied the lawyer. "Tonight
I'll try to figure out, as nearly as possible, the total cash value of
all the stolen pearls, and of course Jones will tell us what he paid
for his stock, or how much it is worth. But I am not sure this argument
will have as much weight as Miss Stanton suggests it may. A bold
gambler, such as Andrews, might have obtained a huge sum at Baden Baden
or Monte Carlo; and, were he indeed so clever a thief as his record
indicates, he may have robbed a bank, or stolen in some way an immense
sum of money. Logically, the question has weight and I shall present it
as effectively as I can; but, as I said, I rely more on my ability to
disprove the identity of the pearls, on which the expert Le Drieux lays
so much stress. Jones will have a thorough and formal examination
within a few days--perhaps to-morrow--and if the judge considers that
Andrews the pearl thief has been captured, he will be held here pending
the arrival from Washington of the extradition papers--say two or
three weeks longer."

"Then we shall have all that time to prove his innocence?" inquired Maud.

"Unfortunately, no. There will be no further trial of the prisoner until
he gets to Vienna and is delivered to the authorities there. All our work
must be done previous to the formal examination."

"You do not seem very hopeful," observed Maud, a hint of reproach
in her tone.

"Then appearances are against me, Miss Stanton," replied the lawyer with
a smile. "This is my first important case, and if I win it my future is
assured; so I mean to win. But in order to do that I must consider the
charge of the prosecution, the effect of its arguments upon the judge,
and then find the right means to combat them. When I am with you, the
friends of the accused, I may consider the seamy side of the fabric; but
the presiding judge will find me so sure of my position that he will
instinctively agree with me."

They brought him the pearls Jones had presented to them and then the
lawyer bade them good night and went to his office to master the history
of pearls in general and those famous ones stolen from Countess Ahmberg
in particular.

When he had gone Uncle John remarked:

"Well, what do you think of him?"

They seemed in doubt.

"I think he will do all he can," said Patsy.

"And he appears quite a clever young man," added Beth, as if to
encourage them.

"Allowing all that," said Maud, gravely, "he has warned us of the
possibility of failure. I cannot understand how the coils of evidence
have wrapped themselves so tightly around poor Ajo."

"That," asserted Flo, "is because you cannot understand Ajo himself. Nor
can I; nor can any of us!"



My mother used to say to me: "Never expect to find brains in a pretty
girl." Perhaps she said it because I was not a pretty girl and she
wished to encourage me. In any event, that absurd notion of the ancients
that when the fairies bestow the gift of beauty on a baby they withhold
all other qualities has so often been disproved that we may well
disregard it.

Maud Stanton was a pretty girl--indeed, a beautiful girl--but she
possessed brains as well as beauty and used her intellect to advantage
more often than her quiet demeanor would indicate to others than her most
intimate associates. From the first she had been impressed by the notion
that there was something mysterious about A. Jones and that his romantic
explanation of his former life and present position was intended to hide
a truth that would embarrass him, were it fully known. Therefore she had
secretly observed the young man, at such times as they were together, and
had treasured every careless remark he had made--every admission or
assertion--and made a note of it. The boy's arrest had startled her
because it was so unexpected, and her first impulse was to doubt his
innocence. Later, however, she had thoroughly reviewed the notes she had
made and decided he was innocent.

In the quiet of her own room, when she was supposed to be asleep, Maud
got out her notebook and read therein again the review of all she had
learned concerning A. Jones of Sangoa.

"For a boy, he has a good knowledge of business; for a foreigner, he has
an excellent conception of modern American methods," she murmured
thoughtfully. "He is simple in little things; shrewd, if not wise, in
important matters. He proved this by purchasing the control of the
Continental, for its shares pay enormous dividends.

"Had he stolen those pearls, I am sure he would have been too shrewd to
have given a portion of them to us, knowing we would display them openly
and so attract attention to them. A thief so ingenious as Andrews, for
instance, would never have done so foolish a thing as that, I am
positive. Therefore, Jones is not Andrews.

"Now, to account for the likeness between Andrews, an American
adventurer, and Jones, reared and educated in the mysterious island of
Sangoa. Ajo's father must have left some near relatives in this country
when he became a recluse in his far-away island. Why did he become a
recluse? That's a subject I must consider carefully, for he was a man of
money, a man of science, a man of affairs. Jones has told us he has no
relatives here. He may have spoken honestly, if his father kept him in
ignorance of the family history. I'm not going to jump at the conclusion
that the man who calls himself Jack Andrews is a near relative of our
Ajo--a cousin, perhaps--but I'll not forget that that might explain the
likeness between them.

"Ajo's father must have amassed a great fortune, during many years, from
his pearl fisheries. That would explain why the boy has so much money at
his disposal. He didn't get it from the sale of stolen pearls, that is
certain. In addition to the money he invested in the Continental, he has
enough in reserve to expend another million or so in Patsy Doyle's motion
picture scheme, and he says he can spare it easily and have plenty left!
This, in my opinion, is a stronger proof of Jones' innocence than Lawyer
Colby seems to consider it. To me, it is conclusive.

"Now, then, where is Sangoa? How can one get to the island? And,
finally, how did Jones get here from Sangoa and how is he to return, if
he ever wants to go back to his valuable pearl fisheries, his people and
his home?"

She strove earnestly to answer these questions, but could not with her
present knowledge. So she tucked the notebook into a drawer of her desk,
put out her light and got into bed.

But sleep would not come to her. The interest she took in the fate of
young Jones was quite impersonal. She liked the boy in the same way she
had liked dozens of boys. The fact that she had been of material
assistance in saving his life aroused no especial tenderness in her. On
his own account, however, Jones was interesting to her because he was so
unusual. The complications that now beset him added to this interest
because they were so curious and difficult to explain. Maud had the
feeling that she had encountered a puzzle to tax her best talents, and so
she wanted to solve it.

Suddenly she bounded out of bed and turned on the electric light. The
notebook was again brought into requisition and she penciled on its pages
the following words:

"What was the exact date that Jack Andrews landed in America? What
was the exact date that Ajo landed from Sangoa? The first question
may be easily answered, for doubtless the police have the record.
But--the other?"

Then she replaced the book, put out the light and went to sleep
very easily.

That last thought, now jotted down in black and white, had effectually
cleared her mind of its cobwebs.



Colby came around next morning just as Mr. Merrick was entering the
breakfast room, and the little man took the lawyer in to have a cup of
coffee. The young attorney still maintained his jaunty air, although
red-eyed from his night's vigil, and when he saw the Stanton girls and
their Aunt Jane having breakfast by an open window he eagerly begged
permission to join them, somewhat to Uncle John's amusement.

"Well?" demanded Maud, reading Colby's face with her clear eyes.

"I made a night of it, as I promised," said he. "This morning I know so
much about pearls that I'm tempted to go into the business."

"As Jack Andrews did?" inquired Flo.

"Not exactly," he answered with a smile. "But it's an interesting
subject--so interesting that I only abandoned my reading when I found I
was burning my electric lamp by daylight. Listen: A pearl is nothing more
or less than nacre, a fluid secretion of a certain variety of oyster--not
the eatable kind. A grain of sand gets between the folds of the oyster
and its shell and irritates the beast. In self-defense the oyster covers
the sand with a fluid which hardens and forms a pearl."

"I've always known that," said Flo, with a toss of her head.

"Yes; but I want you all to bear it in mind, for it will explain a
discovery I have made. Before I get to that, however, I want to say that
at one time the island of Ceylon supplied the world with its most famous
pearls. The early Egyptians discovered them there, as well as on the
Persian and Indian coasts. The pearl which Cleopatra is said to have
dissolved in wine and swallowed was worth about four hundred thousand
dollars in our money; but of course pearls were scarce in her day. A
single pearl was cut in two and used for earrings for the statue of Venus
in the Pantheon at Rome, and the sum paid for it was equal to about a
quarter of a million dollars. Sir Thomas Gresham, in the days of Queen
Elizabeth, had a pearl valued at about seventy-five thousand dollars
which he treated in the same manner Cleopatra did, dissolving it in wine
and boasting he had given the most expensive dinner ever known."

"All of which--" began Maud, impatiently.

"All of which, Miss Stanton, goes to show that pearls have been of great
price since the beginning of history. Nowadays we get just as valuable
pearls from the South Seas, and even from Panama, St. Margarita and the
Caromandel Coast, as ever came from Ceylon. But only those of rare size,
shape or color are now valued at high prices. For instance, a string of
matched pearls such as that owned by Princess Lemoine is estimated as
worth only eighty thousand dollars, because it could be quite easily
duplicated. The collection of Countess Ahmberg was noted for its variety
of shapes and colors more than for its large or costly pearls; and that
leads to my great discovery."

"Thank heaven," said Flo, with a sigh.

"I have discovered that our famous expert. Le Drieux, is an
arrant humbug."

"We had suspected that," remarked Maud.

"Now we know it," declared Colby. "Pearls, I have learned, change their
color, their degree of luster, even their weight, according to
atmospheric conditions and location. A ten-penny-weight pearl in Vienna
might weigh eight or nine pennyweights here in California, or it is more
likely to weigh twelve. The things absorb certain moistures and chemicals
from the air and sun, and shed those absorptions when kept in darkness or
from the fresh air. Pearls die, so to speak; but are often restored to
life by immersions in sea-water, their native element. As for color: the
pink and blue pearls often grow white, at times, especially if kept long
in darkness, but sun-baths restore their former tints. In the same way a
white pearl, if placed near the fumes of ammonia, changes to a pinkish
hue, while certain combinations of chemicals render them black, or
'smoked.' A clever man could steal a pink pearl, bleach it white, and
sell it to its former owner without its being recognized. Therefore, when
our expert, Le Drieux, attempts to show that the pearls found in Jones'
possession are identical with those stolen from the Austrian lady, he
fails to allow for climatic or other changes and cannot be accurate
enough to convince anyone who knows the versatile characteristics of
these gems."

"Ah, but does the judge know that, Mr. Colby?" asked Maud.

"I shall post him. After that, the conviction of the prisoner will be

"Do you think the examination will be held to-day?" inquired Mr. Merrick.

"I cannot tell that. It will depend upon the mood of Judge Wilton. If he
feels grouchy or disagreeable, he is liable to postpone the case. If he
is in good spirits and wants to clear his docket he may begin the
examination at ten o'clock, to-day, which is the hour set for it."

"Is your evidence ready, Mr. Colby?"

"Such as I can command, Miss Stanton," he replied. "Last evening I wired
New York for information as to the exact amount of stock Jones owns in
the Continental, and I got a curious reply. The stock is valued at
nineteen hundred thousand dollars, but no one believes that Jones owns
it personally. It is generally thought that for politic reasons the young
man was made the holder of stock for several different parties, who still
own it, although it is in Jones' name. The control of stock without
ownership is not unusual. It gives the real owners an opportunity to hide
behind their catspaw, who simply obeys their instructions."

"I do not believe that Jones is connected with anyone in that manner,"
said Mr. Merrick.

"Nor do I," asserted Aunt Jane. "His interference with Goldstein's plans
proves he is under no obligations to others, for he has acted
arbitrarily, in accordance with his personal desires and against the
financial interests of the concern."

"Why didn't you ask him about this, instead of wiring to New York?"
demanded Maud.

"He might not give us exact information, under the circumstances,"
said Colby.

The girl frowned.

"Jones is not an ordinary client," continued the lawyer, coolly. "He
won't tell me anything about himself, or give me what is known as
'inside information.' On the contrary, he contents himself with saying
he is innocent and I must prove it. I'm going to save the young man, but
I'm not looking to him for much assistance."

Maud still frowned. Presently she said:

"I want to see Mr. Jones. Can you arrange an interview for me, sir?"

"Of course. You'd better go into town with me this morning. If the
examination is held, you will see Jones then. If it's postponed, you may
visit him in the jail."

Maud reflected a moment.

"Very well," said she, "I'll go with you." Then, turning to her aunt, she
continued: "You must make my excuses to Mr. Goldstein, Aunt Jane."

Mrs. Montrose eyed her niece critically.

"Who will accompany you, Maud?" she asked.

"Why, I'll go," said Patsy Doyle; and so it was settled, Uncle John
agreeing to escort the young ladies and see them safely home again.



As the party drove into town Colby said:

"It wouldn't be a bad idea for Jones to bribe that fellow Le Drieux. If
Le Drieux, who holds a warrant for the arrest of Jack Andrews, issued by
the Austrian government and vised in Washington, could be won to our
side, the whole charge against our friend might be speedily dissolved."

"Disgraceful!" snapped Maud indignantly. "I am positive Mr. Jones would
not consider such a proposition."

"Diplomatic, not disgraceful," commented the lawyer, smiling at her. "Why
should Jones refuse to consider bribery?"

"To use money to defeat justice would be a crime as despicable as
stealing pearls," she said.

"Dear me!" muttered Colby, with a puzzled frown. "What a queer way to
look at it. Le Drieux has already been bribed, by a liberal reward, to
run down a supposed criminal. If we bribe him with a larger sum to give
up the pursuit of Jones, whom we believe innocent, we are merely
defending ourselves from a possible injustice which may be brought about
by an error of judgment."

"Isn't this judge both able and honest?" asked Uncle John.

"Wilton? Well, possibly. His ability consists in his knowledge of law,
rather than of men and affairs. He believes himself honest, I suppose,
but I'll venture to predict he will act upon prejudice and an assumption
of personal dignity, rather than attempt to discover if his personal
impressions correspond with justice. A judge, Mr. Merrick, is a mere
man, with all the average man's failings; so we must expect him to be
quite human."

"Never mind," said Patsy resignedly. "Perhaps we shall find him a better
judge than you are lawyer."

"He has had more experience, anyhow," said Colby, much amused at the

They found, on arriving at court, that the case had already been
postponed. They drove to the jail and obtained permission to see the
prisoner, who was incarcerated under the name of "Jack Andrews, alias A.
Jones." Maud would have liked a private audience, but the lawyer was
present as well as Patsy and Mr. Merrick, and she did not like to ask
them to go away.

The boy greeted them with his old frank smile and did not seem in the
least oppressed by the fact that he was a prisoner accused of an ugly
crime. The interview was held in a parlor of the jail, a guard standing
by the door but discreetly keeping out of earshot.

Colby first informed the boy of the postponement of his formal
examination and then submitted to his client an outline of the defense he
had planned. Jones listened quietly and shook his head.

"Is that the best you can do for me?"

"With my present knowledge, yes," returned the lawyer.

"And will it clear me from this suspicion?" was the next question.

"I hope so."

"You are not sure?"

"This is an extraordinary case, Mr. Jones. Your friends all believe you
innocent, but the judge wants facts--cold, hard facts--and only these
will influence him. Mr. Le Drieux, commissioned by the Austrian
government, states that you are Jack Andrews, and have escaped to America
after having stolen the pearls of a noble Viennese lady. He will offer,
as evidence to prove his assertion, the photograph and the pearls. You
must refute this charge with counter-evidence, in order to escape
extradition and a journey to the country where the crime was committed.
There you will be granted a regular trial, to be sure, but even if you
then secure an acquittal you will have suffered many indignities and your
good name will be permanently tarnished."

"Well, sir?"

"I shall work unceasingly to secure your release at the examination. But
I wish I had some stronger evidence to offer in rebuttal."

"Go ahead and do your best," said the boy, nonchalantly. "I will abide
by the result, whatever it may be."

"May I ask a few questions?" Maud timidly inquired.

He turned to her with an air of relief.

"Most certainly you may, Miss Stanton."

"And you will answer them?"

"I pledge myself to do so, if I am able."

"Thank you," she said. "I am not going to interfere with Mr. Colby's
plans, but I'd like to help you on my own account, if I may."

He gave her a quick look, at once grateful, suspicious and amused.
Then he said:

"Clear out, Colby. I'm sure you have a hundred things to attend to, and
when you're gone I'll have a little talk with Miss Stanton."

The lawyer hesitated.

"If this conversation is likely to affect your case," he began, "then--"

"Then Miss Stanton will give you any information she may acquire,"
interrupted Jones, and that left Colby no alternative but to go away.

"Now, then, Miss Stanton, out with it!" said the boy.

"There are a lot of things we don't know, but ought to know, in order to
defend you properly," she observed, looking at him earnestly.

"Question me, then."

"I want to know the exact date when you landed in this country
from Sangoa."

"Let me see. It was the twelfth day of October, of last year."

"Oh! so long ago as that? It is fifteen months. Once you told us that you
had been here about a year."

"I didn't stop to count the months, you see. The twelfth of October
is correct."

"Where did you land?"

"At San Francisco."

"Direct from Sangoa?"

"Direct from Sangoa."

"And what brought you from Sangoa to San Francisco?"

"A boat."

"A sailing-ship?"

"No, a large yacht. Two thousand tons burden."

"Whose yacht was it?"


"Then where is it now?"

He reflected a moment.

"I think Captain Carg must be anchored at San Pedro, by now. Or perhaps
he is at Long Beach, or Santa Monica," he said quietly.

"On this coast!" exclaimed Maud.


Patsy was all excitement by now and could no longer hold her tongue.

"Is the yacht _Arabella_ yours?" she demanded.

"It is, Miss Patsy."

"Then it is lying off Santa Monica Bay. I've seen it!" she cried.

"It was named for my mother," said the boy, his voice softening, "and
built by my father. In the _Arabella_ I made my first voyage; so you will
realize I am very fond of the little craft."

Maud was busily thinking.

"Is Captain Carg a Sangoan?" she asked.

"Of course. The entire crew are Sangoans."

"Then where has the yacht been since it landed you here fifteen
months ago?"

"It returned at once to the island, and at my request has now made
another voyage to America."

"It has been here several days."

"Quite likely."

"Has it brought more pearls from Sangoa?"

"Perhaps. I do not know, for I have not yet asked for the captain's

Both Uncle John and Patsy were amazed at the rapidity with which Maud was
acquiring information of a really important character. Indeed, she was
herself surprised and the boy's answers were already clearing away some
of the mists. She stared at him thoughtfully as she considered her next
question, and Jones seemed to grow thoughtful, too.

"I have no desire to worry my friends over my peculiar difficulties," he
presently said. "Frankly, I am not in the least worried myself. The
charge against me is so preposterous that I am sure to be released after
the judge has examined me; and, even at the worst--if I were sent to
Vienna for trial--the Austrians would know very well that I am not the
man they seek."

"That trip would cause you great inconvenience, however," suggested
Mr. Merrick.

"I am told a prisoner is treated very well, if he is willing to pay for
such consideration," said Jones.

"And your good name?" asked Maud, with a touch of impatience.

"My good name is precious only to me, and I know it is still untarnished.
For your sake, my newly found friends, I would like the world to believe
in me, but there is none save you to suffer through my disgrace, and you
may easily ignore my acquaintance."

"What nonsense!" cried Patsy, scornfully. "Tell me, sir, what's to become
of our grand motion picture enterprise, if you allow yourself to be
shipped to Vienna as a captured thief?"

He winced a trifle at the blunt epithet but quickly recovered and
smiled at her.

"I'm sorry, Miss Patsy," said he. "I know you will be disappointed if our
enterprise is abandoned. So will I. Since this latest complication arose
I fear I have not given our project the consideration it deserves."

The boy passed his hand wearily across his forehead and, rising from his
seat, took a few nervous steps up and down the room. Then, pausing, he
asked abruptly:

"Are you still inclined to be my champion, Miss Stanton?"

"If I can be of any help," she replied, simply.

"Then I wish you would visit the yacht, make the acquaintance of Captain
Carg and tell him of the trouble I am in. Will you?"

"With pleasure. That is--I'll be glad to do your errand."

"I'll give you a letter to him," he continued, and turning to the
attendant he asked for writing material, which was promptly furnished
him. At the table he wrote a brief note and enclosed it in an envelope
which he handed to Maud.

"You will find the captain a splendid old fellow," said he.

"Will he answer any questions I may ask him?" she demanded.

"That will depend upon your questions," he answered evasively. "Carg is
considered a bit taciturn, I believe, but he has my best interests at
heart and you will find him ready to serve me in any possible way."

"Is there any objection to my going with Maud?" asked Patsy. "I'd like to
visit that yacht; it looks so beautiful from a distance."

"You may all go, if you wish," said he. "It might be well for Mr. Merrick
to meet Captain Carg, who would prefer, I am sure, to discuss so delicate
a matter as my arrest with a man. Not that he is ungallant, but with a
man such as Mr. Merrick he would be more at his ease. Carg is a sailor,
rather blunt and rugged, both in speech and demeanor, but wholly devoted
to me because I am at present _the_ Jones of Sangoa."

"I'll accompany the girls, of course," said Uncle John; "and I think we
ought not to delay in seeing your man. Colby says you may be called for
examination at any time."

"There is one more question I want to ask," announced Maud as they rose
to go. "On what date did you reach New York, after landing at San

"Why, it must have been some time in last January. I know it was soon
after Christmas, which I passed in Chicago."

"Is that as near as you can recollect the date?"

"Yes, at short notice."

"Then perhaps you can tell me the date you took possession of the
Continental Film Company by entering the stockholders' meeting and
ejecting yourself president?"

He seemed surprised at her information and the question drew from him an
odd laugh.

"How did you learn about that incident?" he asked.

"Goldstein told Mr. Merrick. He said it was a coup d'etat."

The boy laughed again.

"It was really funny," said he. "Old Bingley, the last president, had no
inkling that I controlled the stock. He was so sure of being reelected
that he had a camera-man on hand to make a motion picture of the scene
where all would hail him as the chief. The picture was taken, but it
didn't interest Bingley any, for it showed the consternation on his face,
and the faces of his favored coterie, when I rose and calmly voted him
out of office with the majority of the stock."

"Oh!" exclaimed Maud. "There was a picture made of that scene, then?"

"To be sure. It was never shown but once to an audience of one. I sat
and chuckled to myself while the film was being run."

"Was it kept, or destroyed?" asked the girl, breathlessly.

"I ordered it preserved amongst our archives. Probably Goldstein now has
the negative out here, stored in our Hollywood vaults."

"And the date--when was it?" she demanded.

"Why, the annual meeting is always the last Thursday in January. Figure
it out--it must have been the twenty-sixth. But is the exact date
important, Miss Stanton?"

"Very," she announced. "I don't know yet the exact date that Andrews
landed in New York on his return from Vienna, but if it happened to be
later than the twenty-sixth of January--"

"I see. In that case the picture will clear me of suspicion."

"Precisely. I shall now go and wire New York for the information I

"Can't you get it of Le Drieux?" asked the young man.

"Perhaps so; I'll try. But it will be better to get the date from the
steamship agent direct."

With this they shook the boy's hand, assuring him of their sympathy and
their keen desire to aid him, and then hurried away from the jail.



Uncle John and the girls, after consulting together, decided to stop at
the Hollywood studio and pick up Flo and Mrs. Montrose.

"It would be a shame to visit that lovely yacht without them," said
Patsy; "and we were all invited, you know."

"Yes, invited by a host who is unavoidably detained elsewhere," added
Uncle John.

"Still, that yacht is very exclusive," his niece stated, "and I'm sure we
are the first Americans to step foot on its decks."

They were all in a brighter mood since the interview at the jail, and
after a hurried lunch at the hotel, during which Maud related to the
others the morning's occurrences, they boarded the big Merrick
seven-passenger automobile and drove to Santa Monica Bay. Louise couldn't
leave the baby, who was cutting teeth, but Arthur and Beth joined the
party and on arrival at the beach Uncle John had no difficulty in
securing a launch to take them out to the _Arabella_.

"They won't let you aboard, though," declared the boatman. "A good
many have tried it, an' come back disjointed. There's something queer
about that craft; but the gov'ment don't seem worried, so I guess it
ain't a pirate."

The beauty of the yacht grew on them as they approached it. It was
painted a pure white in every part and on the stern was the one word:
_Arabella_, but no name of the port from which she hailed. The ladder was
hoisted and fastened to an upper rail, but as they drew up to the smooth
sides a close-cropped bullet-head projected from the bulwarks and a gruff
voice demanded:

"Well, what's wanted?"

"We want to see Captain Carg," called Arthur, in reply.

The head wagged sidewise.

"No one allowed aboard," said the man.

"Here's a letter to the captain, from Mr. Jones," said Maud,
exhibiting it.

The word seemed magical. Immediately the head disappeared and an instant
later the boarding ladder began to descend. But the man, a sub-officer
dressed in a neat uniform of white and gold, came quickly down the steps
and held out his hand for the letter.

"Beg pardon," said he, touching his cap to the ladies, "but the rules are
very strict aboard the _Arabella_. Will you please wait until I've taken
this to the captain? Thank you!"

Then he ran lightly up the steps and they remained seated in the launch
until he returned.

"The captain begs you to come aboard," he then said, speaking very
respectfully but with a face that betrayed his wonder at the order of his
superior. Then he escorted them up the side to the deck, which was
marvelously neat and attractive. Some half a dozen sailors lounged here
and there and these stared as wonderingly at the invasion of strangers as
the subaltern had done. But their guide did not pause longer than to see
that they had all reached the deck safely, when he led them into a
spacious cabin.

Here they faced Captain Carg, whom Patsy afterward declared was the
tallest, thinnest, chilliest man she had ever encountered. His hair was
grizzled and hung low on his neck; his chin was very long and ended in a
point; his nose was broad, with sensitive nostrils that marked every
breath he drew. As for his eyes, which instantly attracted attention,
they were brown and gentle as a girl's but had that retrospective
expression that suggests far-away thoughts or an utter lack of interest
in one's surroundings. They never looked at but through one. The effect
of Carg's eyes was distinctly disconcerting.

The commander of the _Arabella_ bowed with much dignity as his guests
entered and with a sweep of his long arm he muttered in distant tones:
"Pray be seated." They obeyed. The cabin was luxuriously furnished and
there was no lack of comfortable chairs.

Somehow, despite the courteous words and attitude of Captain Carg, there
was something about him that repelled confidence. Already Maud and Patsy
were wondering if such a man could be loyal and true.

"My young master," he was saying, as he glanced at the letter he still
held in his hand, "tells me that any questions you may ask I may answer
as freely as I am permitted to."

"What does that mean, sir?" Maud inquired, for the speech was quite

"That I await your queries, Miss," with another perfunctory bow in her

She hesitated, puzzled how to proceed.

"Mr. Jones is in a little trouble," she finally began. "He has been
mistaken for some other man and--they have put him in jail until he can
be examined by the federal judge of this district."

The captain's face exhibited no expression whatever. Even the eyes
failed to express surprise at her startling news. He faced his visitors
without emotion.

"At the examination," Maud went on, "it will be necessary for him to
prove he is from Sangoa."

No reply. The captain sat like a statue.

"He must also prove that certain pearls found in his possession came
from Sangoa."

Still no reply. Maud began to falter and fidget. Beth was amused.
Patsy was fast growing indignant. Flo had a queer expression on her
pretty face that denoted mischief to such an extent that it alarmed
her Aunt Jane.

"I'm afraid," said Maud, "that unless you come to your master's
assistance, Captain Carg, he will be sent to Austria, a prisoner charged
with a serious crime."

She meant this assertion to be very impressive, but it did not seem to
affect the man in the least. She sighed, and Flo, with a giggle, broke an
awkward pause.

"Well, why don't you get busy. Maud?" she asked.

"I--in what way, Flo?" asked her sister, catching at the suggestion

"Captain Carg would make a splendid motion picture actor," declared the
younger Miss Stanton, audaciously. "He sticks close to his cues, you see,
and won't move till he gets one. He will answer your questions; yes, he
has said he would; but you may prattle until doomsday without effect, so
far as he is concerned, unless you finish your speech with an
interrogation point."

Mrs. Montrose gave a gasp of dismay, while Maud flushed painfully. The
captain, however, allowed a gleam of admiration to soften his grim
features as he stared fixedly at saucy Flo. Patsy marked this fleeting
change of expression at once and said hastily:

"I think. Maud, dear, the captain is waiting to be questioned."

At this he cast a grateful look in Miss Doyle's direction and bowed to
her. Maud began to appreciate the peculiar situation and marshalled her
questions in orderly array.

"Tell me, please, where _is_ Sangoa?" she began.

"In the South Seas, Miss."

"Will you give me the latitude and longitude?"

"I cannot."

"Oh, you mean that you _will_ not?"

"I have been commanded to forget the latitude and longitude of Sangoa."

"But this is folly!" she exclaimed, much annoyed. "Such absurd reticence
may be fatal to Mr. Jones' interests."

He made no reply to this and after reflection she tried again.

"What is the nearest land to Sangoa?"

"Toerdal," said he.

"What is that, an island?"


"Is it on the maps? Is it charted?"

"No, Miss."

She silenced Flo's aggravating giggle with a frown.

"Tell me, sir," she continued, "what is the nearest land to Sangoa that
is known to the world?"

He smiled faintly as he replied: "I cannot tell."

Uncle John had grown very uneasy by this time and he decided he ought to
attempt to assist Maud. So, addressing Captain Carg, he said in a
positive tone:

"We quite understand, sir, that it has been the policy of the owners of
Sangoa to guard all knowledge of the island's whereabouts from the
outside world, as well as the fact that its pearl fisheries are very
rich. We understand that an influx of treasure-seekers would embarrass
the Sangoans. But we are close friends of young Mr. Jones and have no
desire to usurp his island kingdom or seize his pearls. Our only anxiety
is to free him from an unjust suspicion. A foolish man named Le Drieux
accuses Jones of stealing a choice collection of pearls from a lady in
Austria and fleeing with them to America. He has a photograph of the real
criminal, taken abroad, which curiously resembles your young master."

Here the captain turned a quick look upon the speaker and for the first
time his eyes lost their dull expression. But he made no remark and Uncle
John continued:

"This man Le Drieux found several choice pearls in the possession of Mr.
Jones, which he claims are a part of the stolen collection. Hence he
obtained your master's arrest. Jones says he brought the pearls from
Sangoa, his home, where they were found. No one here knows anything of
Sangoa, so they regard his story with suspicion. Now, sir, we believe
that through you we can prove he has told the truth, and so secure his
release. Here is the important question: Will you help us?"

"Willingly, sir," replied the captain.

"Are you forbidden to tell us where Sangoa is, or anything about
the island?"

"Yes, sir; I am forbidden to do that, under any circumstances," was the
ready answer.

"Have you been to Sangoa since you landed Mr. Jones in San Francisco,
some fifteen months ago?"

"Yes, sir."

"And did you bring back with you, on this trip, any pearls?"

"Yes, sir."

"Have you already disposed of them?"

"No, sir."

"Why not?"

"I am awaiting orders from my master."

"Has he been aboard since you anchored here?"

"No, sir."

"What were your instructions?"

"To anchor on this coast and await his coming."

"Well," said Mr. Merrick, reflectively, "I believe you can prove our case
without telling the location of Sangoa. An exhibition of the pearls you
have brought ought to convince any reasonable judge. Are there many of
them in this lot?"

"Not so many as usual, sir."

"Are they very choice ones?"

"Not so choice as usual, sir."

Uncle John was greatly disappointed, but Maud exclaimed eagerly:

"Let us see them, please!"

That was not a question, but the captain rose at once, bowed and left the
cabin. It was some ten minutes before he returned, followed by two men
who bore between them a heavy bronze chest which they placed upon the
cabin floor. Then they left the room and the captain took a key from his
pocket and unlocked a secret panel in the wainscoting of the cabin. A
small compartment was disclosed, in which hung another key on an iron
hook. He removed this and with it unlocked the chest, drawing-from its
recesses several trays which he deposited upon the table. These trays
were lined and padded with white velvet and when the covers were removed,
the girls, who had crowded around the table, uttered cries of
astonishment and delight.

"They may not be as numerous or as choice 'as usual,'" murmured
Mrs. Montrose, "but they are the most amazing lot of pearls I have
ever beheld."

"And did all these come from Sangoa?" Maud asked the captain.

"They represent two months' fishing on the coast of our island," he
replied; "but not the best two months of the year. The weather was bad;
there were many storms."

"Why, the pearls that Ajo gave us were insignificant when compared with
these!" cried Beth. "This collection must be worth an enormous sum.
Uncle John."

Uncle John merely nodded. He had been thinking, as he studied the pearls,
and now turned to Captain Carg.

"Will you come ashore and testify before the judge in behalf of
your master?"

"Yes, if he asks me to do so."

"And will you bring these pearls with you?"

"If my master orders it."

"Very good. We will have him send you instructions."

The captain bowed, after which he turned to the table and began replacing
the trays in the chest. Then he locked it, again hung the key in the
secret aperture and closed the panel. A whistle summoned the two seamen,
who bore away the chest, accompanied by the captain in person.

When they were left alone, Maud said anxiously:

"Is there anything more we can do here?"

"I think not," replied Mr. Merrick.

"Then let us get back. I want to complete my evidence at once, for no one
knows when the judge will summon Ajo for examination."

They thanked the captain when he rejoined them, but he remained as silent
and undemonstrative as ever, so they took their departure without further
ceremony and returned to the shore.



That evening Le Drieux appeared in the lobby of the hotel and sat himself
comfortably down, as if his sole desire in life was to read the evening
paper and smoke his after-dinner cigar. He cast a self-satisfied and
rather supercilious glance in the direction of the Merrick party, which

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