All-Over-the-World Library—Second Series
STUDENTS ON THE WING
AUTHOR OF "THE ARMY AND NAVY SERIES" "YOUNG AMERICA ABROAD FIRST AND SECOND SERIES" "THE BOAT-CLUB STORIES" "THE GREAT WESTERN SERIES" "THE WOODVILLE STORIES" "THE ONWARD AND UPWARD SERIES" "THE LAKE SHORE SERIES" "THE YACHT-CLUB SERIES" "THE RIVERDALE STORIES" "THE BOAT BUILDER SERIES" "THE BLUE AND THE GRAY AFLOAT" "THE BLUE AND THE GRAY ON LAND" "STARRY FLAG SERIES" "ALL-OVER-THE-WORLD LIBRARY FIRST AND SECOND SERIES" "A MISSING MILLION" "A MILLIONAIRE AT SIXTEEN" "A YOUNG KNIGHT-ERRANT" "STRANGE SIGHTS ABROAD" "AMERICAN BOYS AFLOAT" "THE YOUNG NAVIGATORS" "UP AND DOWN THE NILE" ETC.
LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS
10 MILK STREET
COPYRIGHT, 1894, BY LEE AND SHEPARD
All Rights Reserved
ELECTROTYPING BY C. J. PETERS & SON, BOSTON U.S.A.
PRESSWORK BY S. J. PARKHILL & CO.
MY APPRECIATIVE FRIEND AND BROTHER
FOSTER A. WHITNEY Esq.
OF SOUTHINGTON CONN.
IS FRATERNALLY AND RESPECTFULLY
"ASIATIC BREEZES" is the fourth volume of the second series of the "All-Over-the-World Library." Starting out from Alexandria, Egypt, after the adventures and explorations of the Guardian-Mother party in that interesting country, which included an excursion up the Nile to the First Cataract, the steamer sails out upon the Mediterranean, closely followed by her little consort. The enemy who had made a portion of the voyage exceedingly disagreeable to the watchful commander has been thwarted in all his schemes, and the threatened danger kept at a distance, even while those who are most deeply interested are unconscious of its existence.
But the old enemy immediately appears on the coast, as was expected, and an attempt is made to carry out a plan to escape from further annoyance. The little steamer sails for the island of Cyprus, as arranged beforehand, and reaches her destination, though she encounters a smart gale on the voyage, through which the young navigators carry their lively little craft. Plans do not always work as they have been arranged; and by an accident the young people are left to fight their own battle, as has happened several times before in the history of the cruise.
A considerable portion of the volume is taken up with the record of some very stirring events in a certain bay of the island of Cyprus, where the little steamer had made a harbor after the gale, and where the Guardian-Mother had failed to join her, as agreed upon. The story relates the manner in which the young captain, actively seconded by his shipmates, extricates his little craft from a very perilous situation, though it involves a disaster to the piratical enemy and his steamer. The conduct of the boy-commander brings up several questions of interest, upon which everybody has a right to his own opinion.
The steamer and her consort pass through the Suez Canal, which is minutely described, both in its construction and operation. Some of those on board of the steamer are interested in Scripture history, including the commander; and the residence of the Israelites in the "Land of Goshen," as well as their pilgrimage into Asia, pursued by "Pharaoh and his host," are considered at some length. Some of the different views in regard to the passage of the Red Sea are given, though he who presents them clings to the narrative as he read it from the Bible in his childhood.
Though the party for reasons given do not go to Mount Sinai, the peninsula to which it now gives its name is not neglected. Mount Serbal, and what is generally regarded as the Holy Mountain, are seen from the deck of the steamer, though some claim that the former is the scene of the delivery of the tablets of the Law to Moses. The captain of the steamer does not regard himself as a mere shipmaster; for in recommending the voyage for the young millionaire, he makes a great deal of its educational features, not alone for its opportunities for sight-seeing, but for study and receiving instruction. As earnest in carrying out his idea in the latter as well as the former, he has made a lecture-room of the deck of the vessel.
The physical geography of the regions passed through is considered, as well as the history; and as the ship is in the vicinity of the kingdoms of the ancient world, the professor has something to say to his audience about Assyria, Babylonia, Arabia, the Caliphate, and gives an epitome of the life of Mohammed, and the rise and progress of Islamism.
In the last chapters the story, which has been extended through several volumes, appears to be brought to a conclusion in a manner that may astonish the reader. However that may be, the termination points to an enlarged field of operations in the future for the party as they visit the vast empires where blow the Asiatic breezes.
WILLIAM T. ADAMS.
DORCHESTER, MASS., September 30, 1894.
CHAPTER I. PAGE PREPARING TO OUTWIT THE ENEMY 1
CHAPTER II. HARMONY DISTURBED, BUT HAPPILY RESTORED 11
CHAPTER III. A MOMENTOUS SECRET REVEALED 21
CHAPTER IV. THE POSITION OF THE THREE STEAMERS 31
CHAPTER V. LOUIS BELGRAVE HAS SOME MISGIVINGS 41
CHAPTER VI. A STORMY NIGHT RUN TO CAPE ARNAUTI 51
CHAPTER VII. THE BELLIGERENT COMMANDER OF THE MAUD 61
CHAPTER VIII. THE LECTURE ON THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS 71
CHAPTER IX. A MOST IMPUDENT PROPOSITION 81
CHAPTER X. "JUST BEFORE THE BATTLE, MOTHER" 91
CHAPTER XI. AN EXPEDIENT TO ESCAPE THE ENEMY 101
CHAPTER XII. THE BATTLE FOUGHT, THE VICTORY WON 111
CHAPTER XIII. THE CATASTROPHE TO THE FATIME 121
CHAPTER XIV. THE CONSULTATION IN THE PILOT-HOUSE 131
CHAPTER XV. THE ARRIVAL OF THE GUARDIAN-MOTHER 141
CHAPTER XVI. THE REPORT OF THE BATTLE OF KHRYSOKO 151
CHAPTER XVII. THE INSIDE HISTORY OF THE VOYAGE 161
CHAPTER XVIII. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SUEZ CANAL 171
CHAPTER XIX. THE JOURNEY OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL 181
CHAPTER XX. THE LAST OF CAPTAIN MAZAGAN 192
CHAPTER XXI. THE CONFERENCE ON THE SUEZ CANAL 202
CHAPTER XXII THE CANAL AND ITS SUGGESTIONS 212
CHAPTER XXIII. THE MYSTERIOUS ARAB IN A NEW SUIT 222
CHAPTER XXIV. THE TOY OF THE TRANSIT MANAGER 232
CHAPTER XXV. A VISIT TO THE SPRINGS OF MOSES 241
CHAPTER XXVI. THE VARIOUS ROUTES TO MOUNT SINAI 251
CHAPTER XXVII THE CONFERENCE ON THE PROMENADE 260
CHAPTER XXVIII. THE ANCIENT KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD 270
CHAPTER XXIX. VIEW OF MOUNT SINAI IN THE DISTANCE 280
CHAPTER XXX. SOME ACCOUNT OF MOHAMMED THE PROPHET 290
CHAPTER XXXI. THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF ISLAMISM 300
CHAPTER XXXII. THE AGENT OF THE PARSEE MERCHANTS 310
CHAPTER XXXIII. A DISAPPOINTMENT TO CAPTAIN SCOTT 319
CHAPTER XXXIV. THE SUSPICIOUS WHITE STEAMER AT ADEN 329
CHAPTER XXXV. GENERAL NEWBY'S MAGNIFICENT YACHT 339
CHAPTER XXXVI. AN ALMOST MIRACULOUS CONVERSION 349
"THE STERN OF THE FATIMA SUDDENLY WENT DOWN" Frontispiece
PAGE "IT HAD BEEN A STORMY NIGHT" 51
"STOP WHERE YOU ARE OR I SHALL ORDER MY MEN TO FIRE!" 92
"SHE SPREAD OUT HER ARMS AND RUSHED UPON HIM" 147
"KNOTT, TAKE THIS VILLAIN AWAY" 201
"CAPTAIN RINGGOLD, I AM DELIGHTED TO SEE YOU" 337
"MY SHOT BROUGHT DOWN ONE OF THE BANDITS" 351
"HE WAS PLACED AT THE RIGHT OF CAPTAIN RINGGOLD" 359
PREPARING TO OUTWIT THE ENEMY
"Only one great mistake has been made, Louis Belgrave," said Captain George Scott Fencelowe.
He was a young man of eighteen; but the title by which he was addressed was genuine so far as his position was actually concerned, though it would hardly have passed muster before a court of admiralty of the United States, whose flag was displayed on the ensign-staff at the stern. The vessel was a small steam-yacht, only forty feet in length, but furnished in a miniature way with most of the appliances of a regular steamer.
She had a cabin twelve feet long, whose broad divans could be changed into berths for the four principal personages on board of her. Abaft this apartment was a standing-room with seating accommodations for eight persons, or twelve with a little crowding, with luxurious cushions and an awning overhead when needed.
Her pilot-house, engine-room, galley, and forecastle were as regular as though she had been an ocean steamer of a thousand tons. Her ordinary speed was ten knots an hour; but she could be driven up to twelve on an emergency, and had even made a trifle more than this when an extraordinary effort was required of the craft.
She had been built for a Moorish Pacha of the highest rank and of unbounded wealth, who had ordered that no expense should be spared in her construction and outfit. She was built of steel as strong as it was possible to build a vessel of any kind; and in more than one heavy gale on the Mediterranean she had proved herself to be an unusually able and weatherly craft.
Though she had formerly been called the Salihe, her name had been changed by her later American owners to the Maud. Everything about her was as luxurious as it was substantial. She had a ship's company of seven persons, only two of whom had reached and passed their majority, the other five varying in age from fifteen to eighteen.
The principal personages were boys, three of them having attained the mature age of eighteen, while the fourth was only fifteen. This quartet sometimes called themselves the "Big Four," though it was a borrowed designation, meaning something entirely different from its present signification. Captain Scott had been the first to apply the term; and he had done so simply because it tickled the tympanum of his ear, and it really meant nothing at all.
The Maud was the consort, or more properly the tender, of the Guardian-Mother, a steam-yacht of over six hundred tons' burden, now engaged in making a voyage around the world. In a preceding volume it was related in what manner Louis Belgrave became a millionaire, with fifty per cent more than money enough to entitle him to this rather indefinite appellation. How he happened to be the proprietor of one of the finest steam-yachts that ever floated on the ocean was also explained, through a somewhat complicated narrative, and the details of a cruise to Bermuda, the Bahama Islands, and Cuba, followed by a voyage across the Atlantic and up the Mediterranean, the steamer and her tender having just sailed from Alexandria after the tour of Egypt.
The ship, as the larger steamer was generally called to distinguish her from the smaller one, was the Guardian-Mother. This may be regarded as rather an odd name for a steamship, but it had been selected by the young millionaire himself as a tribute of love, affection, and honor to his mother; for they were devotedly attached to each other, and their relations were almost sentimental. Mrs. Belgrave was one of the most important passengers in the cabin of the steamer.
Felix McGavonty was born in the United States, though his parents came from Ireland. He had been the companion of Louis Belgrave from their earliest childhood; and as they grew older they became the most consummate cronies. Felix almost worshipped his friend, and the friendship was mutual. He was a fair scholar, having attended the academy at Von Blonk Park, where they lived. He could speak the English language as well as a college professor; but he was very much given to speaking with the Irish brogue, in honor of his mother he insisted, and dragged into his speech all the dialects known in the Green Isle, and perhaps supplemented them with some inventions of his own. That great American humorist might have said of Felix just what he did of the kangaroo.
Captain Scott had been a wild boy, in fact, a decidedly bad boy. He had been picked up with his foster-father in the Bahamas. His only guardian bound him over to Captain Royal Ringgold, the commander of the Guardian-Mother, who had thoroughly and entirely reformed his life and character. He was a natural-born sailor, and his abilities were of a high order in that direction. When the ship's company of the Maud was organized, Louis had brought his influence to bear in favor of electing him to the command, for which he was vastly better qualified than any other member of the "Big Four."
Squire Moses Scarburn, another of the all-over-the-world excursionists, was the trustee of Louis's million and a half. He was a jolly fat man, rising fifty years old. He was a lawyer by profession, and had sat upon the bench, and Louis had always been an immense favorite with him. He had taken Felix into his house as an orphan; and his housekeeper, Mrs. Sarah Blossom, had cared for him in his childhood, looked after his morals and the buttons on his shirts and trousers, till she became very fond of him.
Just before the Guardian-Mother sailed on her cruise from New York, a couple of professional gentlemen, thrown overboard by the upsetting of a sailing-yacht, were rescued from a watery grave by the people on board of the steamer, largely by the exertions of Louis. One of them was Dr. Philip Hawkes, one of the most noted medical men of the great city. He was almost the counterpart of the trustee physically, weighing two hundred and twenty-six pounds and three-quarters, while the lawyer fell a quarter of a pound short of these figures. They were continually bantering each other about this difference.
The doctor called Uncle Moses, as the entire party addressed him, "Brother Avoirdupois;" and the lawyer retorted by christening the surgeon "Brother Adipose Tissue." The conductor of the party in Egypt had called them both "cupids;" and this term became very popular for the time. The other gentleman who had been saved from an untimely grave in the bay was a learned Frenchman. Both of them were in feeble health from overwork; and they accepted invitations to join the party, the one as the medical officer of the ship, and the other as the instructor in the languages as well as in the sciences generally, for which he was abundantly competent.
Louis Belgrave, in passing through the incidents of the story, had made the acquaintance of Mr. Lowell Woolridge, a Fifth Avenue millionaire and magnate. He had formerly been a well-known sportsman; but he had abandoned the race-course, though he kept up his interest in yachting. He was the owner of a large sailing schooner; and through this craft Louis and his mother became acquainted with the yachtsman's family, consisting of his wife, a son, and a daughter. The latter was a very beautiful young lady of sixteen, whose face captivated everybody who came into her presence; and Louis's mother had deemed it her duty to warn her son against the fascination of the maiden before he had found his million.
A slight illness had threatened the young lady with possible consequences, and the physicians had advised her father to take her to Orotava, in the Canary Islands. On the voyage the yacht had been nearly wrecked, and the family had been rescued by the officers and crew of the Guardian-Mother. The yacht sailed in company with the steamer; and they visited Mogadore, in Morocco. Here Ali-Noury Pacha, one of the richest and most influential magnates of the country, paid a visit to the ship. Unfortunately he saw the beautiful Blanche Woolridge, and was more attentive to her than pleased her parents.
They were alarmed, for of course the Pacha was a Mohammedan. Captain Ringgold found a way out of the difficulty by towing the sailing-yacht out of the harbor; and both vessels hastened to Madeira. The Moor followed them in his steam-yacht, the Fatime; but the commander put to sea as soon as he realized the situation. At Gibraltar the Pacha confronted the party again. The commander had learned at Funchal that His Highness was a villanously bad character, and he positively refused to permit him to visit or to meet the lady passengers on board his ship. He was an honest, upright, and plain-spoken man. He stated that the Pacha was not a suitable person to associate with Christian ladies.
This led to a personal attack upon the stalwart commander, and the Pacha was knocked into the mud in the street. This had fanned his wrath to a roaring name, for he had been fined before an English court for the assault. His passion for revenge was even more determined than his admiration for the "houri," as he called the maiden. He had followed the ship to Constantinople, engaged a felucca and a ruffian, assisted by a French detective, to capture the fair girl, as the story has already informed the reader in other volumes.
The national affairs of His Highness had called him home, but he had apparently placed his steam-yacht in command of a Captain Mazagan; and this ruffian, attended by Ulbach, the detective, had followed the party to Egypt. The capture of Louis Belgrave, or the young lady, or both of them, was the object of the ruffian, who was to receive two hundred thousand francs if he succeeded, or half that sum if he failed. Louis had had a narrow escape from these ruffians in Cairo; but he had worked his way out of the difficulty, assisted by a chance incident.
The Fatime had been discovered in the harbor of Alexandria before the Guardian-Mother and her tender sailed. The peril which menaced the young lady had been kept a profound secret from all except three of the "Big Four;" for the commander believed himself abundantly able to protect his passengers, and the knowledge of the danger would have made the ladies so nervous and terrified that Mrs. Belgrave and the Woolridges would have insisted upon returning to New York, and abandoning the voyage from which so much of pleasure and instruction was expected.
Captain Ringgold and Louis had considered the situation, and fully realized the intention of Captain Mazagan to follow the steamer and her little consort. They had agreed upon a plan, after Captain Scott and Felix, who was the detective of the ship, by which they hoped to "fool" the enemy, as the young commander expressed it. The Fatime had sailed early in the morning, but she was soon discovered off the Bay of Abukir. The reader is now in condition to inquire into what Captain Scott regarded as the one great mistake that had been made in the arrangements for outwitting the Moorish steam-yacht.
The young captain was in the pilot-house of the Maud when the steamer was discovered. He was the commander; but the smallness of the ship's company made it necessary for him to keep his own watch, which is usually done by the second mate for him. Morris Woolridge, who had had considerable experience in his father's yacht, was the first officer, and there was no other. The young millionaire, in spite of his influence as owner, had insisted on serving as a common sailor, or deck-hand, with Felix. There were two engineers and a cook, who will be presented when they are needed.
"What is the one great mistake, Captain Scott?" asked Louis, who stood at the open window in front of the pilot-house.
"The single mistake of any consequence is in the fact that you are on board of the Maud when you ought to be stowed away in the cabin of the Guardian-Mother," replied the captain very decidedly, with something bordering on disgust in his tones and manner. "Instead of keeping you out of danger, you are running just as straight into the lion's den as you can go, Louis."
"Where is the lion's den, please to inform me," replied the young millionaire, scouting, in his tones and manner, any idea of peril to himself which was not shared by his companions.
"On board of that four-hundred-ton steamer which you see off by the coast."
"Do you think I ought to be any more afraid of her than the rest of the fellows?" demanded Louis. "Do you wish me to stand back and stay behind a fence while you face the enemy?"
"Of course I don't believe you are afraid, Louis, my dear fellow," added Captain Scott, perhaps fearing he had said too much, or had been misunderstood.
But just at that moment Morris Woolridge came forward, and neither of them was willing to continue the conversation in his presence; for he might fall into the possession of the secret which was so carefully guarded.
HARMONY DISTURBED, BUT HAPPILY RESTORED
Morris Woolridge was the first officer of the Maud, and as such he had charge of the port watch. The captain had been two hours at the wheel, and it was Morris's turn to take his trick; and the change was made. At the same time Felix McGavonty relieved Louis. Although the helmsman was always in position to see out ahead of the steamer, the other member of the watch was required to serve as lookout on the forecastle.
Except in heavy weather, when all hands were required to be on duty, the watch not employed had nothing to do, and the members of it could use the time as they pleased. Sometimes they had lost sleep to make up; but most of the leisure hours during the day were given to study, for the commander had stimulated the ambition of the boys so that they were anxious to be prepared to speak on all subjects that were considered at the conferences, or lectures, on board the Guardian-Mother.
Regular subjects for special study were given out, always with reference to the topics of the country that was next to be visited, or was to be seen from the deck of the vessels. After the business of outwitting the enemy on board of the Fatime, which was an episode in the voyage forced upon the commander and his confidants, the steamers would pass through the Suez Canal, and proceed by the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.
A written list of about a dozen subjects had been given out to the students on the wing, as Dr. Hawkes called the class of five who profited systematically by the instructions of Professor Giroud, though all on both steamers were more or less engaged in study. The first of these were the Land of Goshen and Mount Sinai. As the little squadron was to pass near the territory of the ancient kingdoms of Assyria, Babylon, and Syria, and the more modern realm of Mohammed and the Caliphate of Bagdad, these subjects were to follow later. At any rate, the peripatetic students had enough to prevent their active minds from becoming rusty.
It was not for two hours that Captain Scott and Louis Belgrave found another opportunity to consider the alleged mistake, as the former regarded it; for the latter belonged to the port watch, and served with Morris. But when the Maud had made twenty miles more, they were together again, with Felix on the lookout; for he was one of the triumvirate on board in charge of the secret.
Louis took a seat in the pilot-house on one side of the wheel, while Scott was on the other. The Guardian-Mother was not a mile ahead of the Maud. The young captain had already studied up the chart, and the details of the manoeuvre contemplated had been already arranged, so far as it was possible to do so.
"The ship does not seem to be letting herself out yet according to the programme," said Captain Scott, when Louis took his place near him, and Felix was using his glass, which had become his constant companion in observing the movements of the Moorish steamer.
"Captain Ringgold knows what he is about," suggested the other.
"Of course he does; but I supposed he would give his cue by this time, and begin the business of overhauling the pirate," added Scott. "Felix, is the ship stirring up her screw?"
"I think she is, Captain," replied the lookoutman; "but she does not give the signal yet."
"Keep your ears wide open tight, Flix, for it will come soon. Where is the pirate now?"
"She is directly in range with the Guardian-Mother."
If the Fatime had not herself been engaged in piratical proceedings, her owner was responsible for the employment of her present commander on board the felucca Samothraki, in the Archipelago, in an attempt to take Louis and Miss Blanche, or both of them, out of the Maud; and he might have succeeded if Captain Ringgold had not decided to make use of the two twelve-pounders on the top-gallant forecastle of the Guardian-Mother at the critical moment.
The commander regarded Captain Mazagan as really a pirate; and he would have proceeded against him as such, if it had not been that doing so would have broken up his own voyage. With this excellent authority Scott never called the Moorish steam-yacht anything but a pirate, unless it was to save too frequent repetition of the ugly word. If Captain Ringgold had been less politic and prudent, his action would have suited his junior commander better.
"You don't think I am afraid, though one great mistake has been made in permitting me to be on board of the Maud at the present time?" said Louis, while they were waiting for the signal from the ship.
"With no reflection or disparagement upon you of any kind, Louis, I said just what I thought, and spoke just what I felt," replied the captain.
"But I don't understand your position at all, Captain Scott. I do not see that I am in any greater peril than the rest of the ship's company," added Louis with a very cheerful smile upon his good-looking face.
"I don't forget that you are the sole owner of the Guardian-Mother, and half-owner of the Maud, with a million and a half of dollars in your trousers pocket. Though we are all earning our living in your service, as well as improving our education, I for one do not lose sight of the fact that we are all dependent upon your bounty for the means of carrying on this voyage."
"What has all this to do with what we were talking about, Captain Scott?" asked Louis, very much inclined to laugh out loud at the rehearsal of the situation.
"It has this to do with it: I am very much afraid of saying something, or doing something, that will offend you," answered the captain, with more than usual deference in his tone and manner. "We came very near getting into a quarrel in Pournea Bay; and if I had forgotten for a moment what you are and what I am, we might have fallen into a jolly row."
"I acted then as mildly as I could, however, in a matter which you did not understand then, but do now; and I apologized for my interference as soon as I had the opportunity," replied Louis quite seriously. "I cannot understand why you have found it necessary to remind me that I am a millionaire on a small scale, as fortunes are measured in our country, and that I am the owner of the Guardian-Mother. You make it appear as though I regarded you as my inferior. Have I ever put on airs in my relations with you, Captain Scott?"
"Never!" replied the captain promptly, and with decided emphasis.
"Have I ever interfered with you in your command, except in the instance referred to?"
"Have I ever done anything to stultify, degrade you, or impair your self-respect?"
"Could I have done any different, or been any different, if the bill-of-sale of the Guardian-Mother had been among your effects, and the million had been in your trousers pocket instead of mine?" demanded Louis with some earnestness; for the words of his friend—and they had been very strong friends—had produced an unpleasant impression upon his mind.
"You could not, Louis! I have made a donkey of myself; you are the best friend I ever had in this world," returned the captain with emphasis. "But let me say that you have taken me on the wrong tack. I had not the remotest intention of casting the shadow of a reflection upon your demeanor towards me. You have entirely mistaken my meaning."
"Then I think you had better explain yourself."
"Since that little affair in Pournea Bay, I have been mortally afraid I should say or do something to offend you, or hurt your feelings," continued Scott. "We are going on what may prove to be a delicate business."
"I don't see how there can be anything delicate about it," added Louis.
"Perhaps that was not the right word for it. But I want to have it understood, first and foremost, that I did not remind you of the difference in our situations because I felt that I had any cause of complaint," said the captain, so earnestly that he was almost eloquent. "Without reminding you again that you are a millionaire while I am a beggar, you are the most modest fellow on board, and have always been without any let-up. By your action I am in command of the Maud. On your petition I was admitted to the cabin of the Guardian-Mother, where I have a stateroom at this moment, and a place at the table when on board of her, on an entire equality with everybody there."
"Why do you mention these matters, Captain Scott?"
"Only to show that I am not ungrateful for the many favors extended to me," answered the young man heartily. "More than all this, I was a bad egg when I came on board of the steamer. It was your influence and your example, Louis Belgrave, more than even the treatment of Captain Ringgold, which caused me to turn over a new leaf, and try to make a man of myself."
Scott turned away his head, and looked out at the starboard window, and Louis saw a gush of tears fall on the rim of the wheel as he did so. He had been about all that is bad which a young man could be when he was committed to the care of the commander by his foster-father; but since he had been "born again," as he expressed it, he had been thoroughly faithful and exemplary, and morally he stood as high as the other members of the "Big Four." His reformation had made a new being of him, and when he reverted to it, his feelings overcame him.
"I have said too much, my dear fellow, and I am very sorry that I have hurt your feelings," interposed Louis, after he waited a few minutes for his emotion to subside. "Only don't remind me that I am a bigger fellow than the rest of you, and we shall never quarrel."
"You have never spoken an unkind word to me since I was born over again, and it was mean in me to say anything which would cut you to the quick. I did not know what I was saying, and I hope you will forgive me."
"With all my heart; for I realize now that you did not mean what I supposed you did, and you must forgive me for picking you up so suddenly," added Louis. "Now we will not say another word about the matter. We can't get up a quarrel if we try, and you cannot do or say anything now that will make me think less of you. There is my hand, my dear fellow."
Louis extended his hand across the wheel, and it was warmly pressed by the captain. It is possible that Scott had some ideas in his mind in connection with the present mission of the Maud that would more clearly have explained why he had uttered words which seemed to be a reproach on him whom he regarded as his best friend. He was a young man of eighteen, and had some of the weaknesses that belong to immaturity of age. Though he did not say so, he thought Captain Ringgold was what he considered as "rather slow" in his treatment of the pirate. It would not have been unlike many very good boys if he had believed he could manage the matter better.
"Now, Captain, let us come back to the question that was before us, the mistake that was made when I was permitted to remain on board the Maud as she came out on her present mission," said Louis, after harmony had been entirely restored.
"In order to understand why I entertain this opinion, let us overhaul my instructions from the commander," replied the captain.
"That will be the best way to get at the subject."
"In the first place, we are to engage in an attempt to shake off the pirate; for she is not only a nuisance, but a constant menace to certain members of the party," added Scott.
"All that has been admitted by the commander; though, as I happen to be one of the individuals, I may say I have not the slightest fear of anything the pirate can do."
"You have been through quite a number of perilous adventures, Louis, and you have got used to such."
"I don't throw myself into such adventures, but I can't deny that they have afforded me not a little of exhilarating excitement," replied the young millionaire. "It was you who proposed the plan to the commander which was adopted, and we are now to carry out."
"And I hope no weakness in either the ship or the Maud will cause it to be a failure. At the signal from the Guardian-Mother the Maud is to run for the island of Cyprus, distance a trifle less than two hundred knots, while the ship is to continue on her course. Then it will remain to be proved what the pirate will do. I think she will follow the Maud, though Captain Ringgold is in doubt about it; and of course I don't feel sure."
"Our machinery was overhauled by the chief engineer of the ship while we were in Egypt, and it is yet to be shown what speed she can make."
"But the pirate is not good for more than thirteen knots at the most, for we have tried it on with her. In my judgment Captain Mazagan will board us if he can, and take one of our number out of the Maud; and that is the reason why I think it was a mistake that you remained with us."
Louis could not yet see the mistake, and did not believe it was necessary that the Maud should be boarded; for that would be an act of downright piracy.
A MOMENTOUS SECRET REVEALED
"Three whistles from the Guardian-Mother," said Felix, the lookoutman, walking up to the forward windows of the pilot-house, and speaking with a low voice.
"Three whistles, and I heard them, Flix," returned Captain Scott, as he put the helm to starboard. "Where is Morris?"
"I think he is in the cabin studying Assyria and Babylon," replied Felix with a mild laugh, as he thought this was an odd occupation for the first officer of the Maud; for he was little inclined to be a student himself, though he was an attentive listener at the lectures.
Felix returned to his place in the bow, and directed the spy-glass, which he carried with him most of the time, whether on duty or not, in the direction of the Fatime. He had a taste for the business of a detective in the higher walks of that profession, and the commander had recognized his ability. He had been employed to ascertain whether the pirate was in the waters of Egypt, having been the first to suspect her presence; and he had proved the fact beyond a doubt.
Accompanied by John Donald, the second engineer of the Maud, who spoke Arabic, he had followed Mazagan to Rosetta, where he found the Fatime, having evidently made a port there to escape the observation of the commander of the Guardian-Mother and his people. The villain and his assistant had failed to lead Captain Ringgold into the traps set for him.
Having failed in their attempts to accomplish anything at Alexandria, the conspirators had followed the party to Cairo. Louis and Felix were sitting on a bench in the Ezbekiyeh, a park in front of their hotel, when Mazagan and the Frenchman approached them, and wished to make a compromise, which the Moor desired the young millionaire to recommend to the commander. The agent of the Pacha informed the young man that he was to receive a reward of forty thousand dollars for the capture and conveyance to Mogadore of either Louis or Miss Blanche, or both of them, or one-half that sum if he failed; and he proposed to compromise.
The use of the steam-yacht was given to him to accomplish this purpose. Mazagan was, or pretended to be, discouraged by the several failures he had made in effecting his object, and he proposed that the commander should pay him twenty thousand dollars, and then he would collect the other half of the promised stipend of the Pacha, as the promised reward in case of failure.
The pirate proved that he was a very mean and treacherous pirate, as willing to sell out his friend as his foe, and Louis was more disgusted than ever with him. He spoke his mind freely to the villain, and absolutely refused to recommend the treachery to the commander. He would as soon have compromised with the Evil One for the sale of his principles. The approach of Captain Ringgold terminated the interview, and the rascals made haste to retreat. After this they made an attempt to capture Louis, and the detective had been shot in the shoulder.
What the conspirators intended or expected to accomplish since these failures of course none of those interested could know, and it only remained for them to watch the movements of the Fatime, and to be constantly on their guard against any possible attempt on the part of the reprobates to carry out their purpose. Only the commander of the Guardian-Mother and the three members of the "Big Four" could take these precautions, for no others knew anything at all about the necessity for them.
Felix used his glass very diligently. The Guardian-Mother did not change her course, and the Moorish steamer, which was now hardly a mile from her, was still headed to the eastward. Whether the latter would dodge into the port of Rosetta or Damietta, or give chase to the Maud, was yet to be demonstrated; and the lookoutman was watching for a movement of this kind.
"The ship is stirring up a good deal of salt water under her stern," said Felix, walking over to the pilot-house. "You can see by the power of smoke she is sending out at her funnel that the chief engineer is driving her."
"I can see that she has increased her distance from us; but according to the commander's orders I have directed Felipe to run her not more than eight or nine knots," replied the captain of the Maud. "How far ahead of the Guardian-Mother is the pirate, Felix?"
"Not more than a mile, as nearly as I can make it out," replied Felix. "But she is making the fur fly, and if the pirate don't want her to come alongside of her, or get a position where her people can overlook her deck, she will change her course within the next ten minutes;" and the lookoutman returned to his place in the bow.
"It is lucky for that pirate that your humble servant is not in command of the Guardian-Mother," said Captain Scott.
"Do you think yourself competent to command a steamer like the Guardian-Mother, my dear fellow?" asked Louis, with a rather quizzical expression on his face.
"I know I am!" exclaimed Captain Scott emphatically; and he did not lack confidence in himself. "Why not? If I can navigate the Maud, I could do the same with the Guardian-Mother; for the size of the vessel don't make any difference in the navigation as long as both of them go out to sea off soundings. I suppose you doubt what I say?"
"I do not; for I am not a qualified judge in the matter," replied Louis, who was considerably surprised at the amount of confidence the captain of eighteen years of age had in himself. "But why is it lucky for the pirate that Captain Ringgold, instead of Captain Scott, happens to be in command of the ship?"
"Because I should serve her as the commander did another steamer of about the size of the pirate, on the run of the ship from Bermuda to Nassau, I believe it was, for I was not on board at the time," replied the captain, with decision enough in his tones and manner to indicate that he would do what he suggested. "I have heard Flix tell all about the affair; and in his estimation Hercules and General Grant were nothing at all compared with Captain Ringgold, when he tells the story. I think he believes the commander is the greatest man that is or ever was in this world, with the possible exception of yourself."
"That steamer was sailing illegally under the name of the Maud, for her proper name was the Viking; but Captain Ringgold ran into her and smashed a big hole in her port bow."
"As I would in one of the bows of the pirate."
"But there was a reason for it; I was a prisoner on board of that Maud, or Viking—captured as this pirate would serve me if he got a chance."
"I would sink him before he got the chance, rather than after he had picked you up," persisted the captain.
"I doubt if that would be a prudent measure," replied Louis, shaking his head.
"The pirate has changed her course to the southward," said Felix, coming to the window of the pilot-house again.
"What does that mean?" demanded the captain.
"It means that she is going to make a port at Rosetta."
"She is about off the Rosetta mouth of the Nile; but she is doing that only to shake off the Guardian-Mother. What is the ship doing, Flix?"
"She continues on her course, and takes no notice of the pirate;" and the lookout returned to his station.
Captain Scott rang the gong in the engine-room, and the screw of the Maud immediately ceased to revolve. The sea was comparatively smooth, and the little steamer rolled on the waves but slightly. As soon as the screw stopped, and the little craft began to roll on the long swell, Morris Woolridge put aside the "Chambers's" in which he had been reading up Assyria and Babylon, and went out of the cabin into the standing-room. He looked about him to ascertain the cause of the stoppage; but he could make nothing of it.
He was a good skipper himself, and he did not like to ask Captain Scott to explain the situation; for since he had gone into the cabin the relative positions of the three steamers had decidedly changed. His idea was that the Maud should follow the ship as usual; but she had dropped at least a couple of miles astern of her, and the Fatime was headed to the southward. He could not understand the matter at all, and he continued to study upon it.
Louis had come out of the pilot-house, and, looking aft, he discovered Morris, and saw that he was perplexed by the situation, and that Assyria was no longer the subject of his meditations.
"Morris is in the standing-room, and I have no doubt he is wondering why we are wasting our steam just here, when the ship is going ahead at full speed," said he to the captain. "Don't you think the time has come?"
"No doubt of it," answered the captain.
These last remarks may seem a little mysterious; but the present situation had been foreseen by Captain Ringgold. Morris was the first officer, and if the momentous secret was to be kept from him any longer, it would require an amount of lying and deception which was utterly repugnant to the principles of both the commander and Louis. The representative of the Woolridge family on board of the Maud must be left with his father and mother and sister on the ship, or the whole truth must be told to the son. Thus far no lies had been necessary; and the captain did not believe it would be wrong for him to conceal what would be dangerous to the peace of mind of his passengers.
As long as Captain Ringgold conscientiously believed that neither Miss Blanche nor Louis was in any peril, he considered it his duty to conceal from their parents the plot of the Pacha and his agents. He was sure that neither Mrs. Woolridge nor Mrs. Belgrave would consent to continue the voyage even in the face of a very remote danger to their children. He had abundant resources on board, including his two twelve-pounders, for their protection; and he had used them on one occasion, though his passengers did not understand the reason of the attack made on the Maud.
This subject had been considered before the vessels sailed from Alexandria, and the commander declared that he could not adopt the scheme of Scott, if they were to be required to utter no end of falsehoods to Morris; and Louis absolutely refused to do so. They had finally compromised by making the owner a committee of one to confer with the subject of the difficulty when the time for action came. Like the others, Morris was to be pledged to secrecy for the peace and comfort of the mothers. If he refused to give the pledge, the plan of Captain Scott was to be abandoned, and the Maud was to place herself immediately under the wing of the Guardian-Mother again. The time for action on this subject had come.
"I will go aft and have a talk with Morris; and I am only afraid he will fly off at the want of confidence in him we have shown," said Louis.
"But his case is not a whit different from your own; for you have a mother in the cabin as well as he," added the captain.
"But we have concealed everything from him for months; but Morris is as good a fellow as ever sailed the seas, and he will be reasonable."
"I pledged myself to secrecy, and I think we had better make the 'Big Four' a society for the protection of this secret till the end of the voyage."
"We will consider that at another time," replied Louis as he moved aft.
He found Morris still looking about in order to solve what was a mystery to him, as it must have been to the engineers and the cook; but they were paid employes, and it was not proper for them to ask any questions.
"Anything broken down, Louis?" asked Morris, as his watch-mate took a seat at his side.
"Nothing at all," replied the owner. "Do you believe, Morris, that you could keep a very important secret if the peace and happiness of your best friends on earth depended upon it?"
"I know I could, even from my mother, from whom I never kept a secret except once, when I heard the doctor say something about the health of Blanche last winter, not long before we sailed in the yacht. I knew that it would worry the life out of her," replied Morris very seriously.
"This is a case just like that; and if the secret came out it would worry the life out of your mother and mine, and perhaps seriously affect the health of Miss Blanche."
"There is my hand, and I will pledge myself to any honest secret you may impart to me; for I know you would not lead me to do anything wrong."
"I would jump overboard before I would lead you astray, Morris," protested Louis as he took the offered hand, and the pledge was exchanged.
It required two hours to tell the whole story of the operations of Captain Mazagan, begun at Constantinople four months before, including the discovery of the plot of the conspirators in the cafe at Gallipoli.
Morris was astonished at the explanation given him of several incidents with which he was familiar. He quite agreed with Louis as to the necessity of keeping the secret; for his mother would worry herself into a fit of sickness if she learned the truth. He agreed that there was no alternative between abandoning the excursion, which would be a great grief to him, and confining the secret to those who now knew it; and he repeated his pledge with more earnestness than before.
THE POSITION OF THE THREE STEAMERS
The conference in the standing-room of the Maud ended, and all the "Big Four" were in possession of the secret upon the keeping of which the continuation of the delightful excursion voyage depended. They stood on a perfect equality now, and each was as wise as the others. When Louis went forward, Morris went with him; and after the result of the interview had been announced, Scott grasped the hand of the newly initiated, and Felix followed his example.
"I can see that you are all glad to keep me no longer in the dark," said Morris. "You must have been walking on glass all the time for fear that I should break through, and upset your plan to keep me behind the curtain."
"That is so," replied the captain. "We had to shut up tight while you were in the pilot-house; and as Louis is in your watch, I stopped the Maud partly to give him a chance to talk with you, and partly to carry out the manoeuvre agreed upon."
"But I can't see why it was considered necessary to keep me in the dark," added Morris. "Am I supposed to be any more leaky than the rest of you?"
"I don't believe any one thought so," replied Louis. "You remember that at Gallipoli, Flix and I went ashore in one of the two harbors, taking Don with us to talk Turkish, though His Highness and Captain Mazagan did their business in French, which they supposed no one near them could speak or understand; and I happened to be the only one of our party who took in all that was said. When we returned to the Guardian-Mother I told Captain Ringgold all about it, in the presence of Flix. The commander immediately directed us to say not a word about it to any person. Even Captain Scott was kept in the dark till he and I were on the verge of a quarrel in Pournea Bay."
"That is putting it a little too strong, Louis," interposed the captain. "I should not have quarrelled with you under any circumstances; I could not have done so."
"But I interfered with you in your command because I understood the situation, and you did not; and Captain Ringgold told me to tell you all there was to be told," Louis explained. "But he was not willing you should be posted, Morris; for he feared that you might unintentionally betray the secret to your mother. We have got along so far without lying, and I believe the commander would throw up the voyage rather than have any of us go beyond simple concealment without falsehood. As he says, we are acting a lie, though we are doing it for the health, comfort, and happiness of those we love the best on earth. The biggest lies are sometimes told without the utterance of a vocal word."
"I am satisfied, fellows, and I am sure Captain Ringgold has acted from the highest of motives. Now I should like to know something about the manoeuvre in which you are engaged."
Captain Scott explained it in full. Felix had gone to his station in the bow, to observe the movements of the Guardian-Mother and the Fatime. From there he had gone to the hurricane deck, in order to obtain a better view. After an absence of half an hour he came into the pilot-house again, with his glass under his arm; for it had now become the emblem of his occupation.
"The ship is so far off that I can't tell whether or not she is still rushing things; but I judge by her distance that the engine is making things lively in the fire-room," said he.
"How about the Fatime?" asked the captain. "I can still see her."
"The Fatty is sodjering."
"What do you mean by that, Flix?"
"She is wasting her time, and appears to be making not more than four knots," replied Felix. "I judge that Captain Mazagan does not feel quite at home."
"You think our movements bother him?" suggested Louis.
"Not the least doubt of that! The ship is going off at sixteen knots an hour, and will soon be hull down, and we are lying here 'like a painted ship upon a painted ocean.'"
"Coleridge!" exclaimed Morris, amused to hear Felix quote from a poem.
"In other words, he can't make out what we are driving at; for the Maud has always kept under the wing of the Guardian-Mother," added the captain. "But it is about time to give him something to think of."
As he spoke, Captain Scott rang the gong in the engine-room to go ahead, and the screw began to turn again.
"Now keep your weather eye open tight, Flix!" and he threw the wheel over, and fixed his gaze upon the compass in front of him. "You needn't watch the G.-M. very closely, but give me the earliest notice of any change in the course of the pirate; for I can hardly make her out now."
"How far is it from here to Port Said?" asked the lookoutman.
"To where? I don't know where Port Sed is," replied the captain, pronouncing the word as Felix did.
"You don't know where the entrance to the Suez Canal is!" exclaimed the lookout.
"That is what you mean, is it?"
"Of course it is; and that is what I said," protested Felix.
"You said Port Sed."
"I know it; if S-a-i-d don't spell Sed, what does it spell?" demanded Felix.
"It spells S-a-h-i-d out here when you mean the port at the entrance of the Suez Canal," replied the captain quietly and with a smile.
"Oh, you have become an Arabian scholar!" exclaimed Felix with a hearty laugh.
"Honestly, Flix, I did not understand what you meant. I have studied up the navigation in this region," continued Captain Scott, as he took from a drawer in the case on which the binnacle stood a small plan of the port in question. "Look at that, Flix, and tell me what the diaeresis over the i in Said is for."
"It means that the two vowels in the word are to be pronounced separately, and I stand corrected," answered Felix promptly.
"I did not mean to correct you; for I make too many blunders myself to pick up another fellow for doing so. I only wanted to explain why I did not understand you. I had got used to pronouncing it Sah-eed, and Sed does not sound much like it, and I did not take in what you meant, and thought you were talking about some port in the island of Cyprus, where we are bound."
"I accept your apology, Captain, and shift all the guilt to my own shoulders. Now may I ask how far it is from here to Port Sah-eed?" replied Felix very good-naturedly.
"It is 101.76 miles, by which, of course, I mean knots. I figured it up from a point north of Rosetta," added the navigator.
"Won't you throw off the fraction?"
"No; if you run one hundred and one miles only, you will fetch up three-quarters of a knot to the westward of the red light at the end of the breakwater."
"That is putting a fine point on it; but I will go on the hurricane deck and see what the Fatty is about," replied Felix.
"You have not rung the speed bell, Captain Scott, since you started the screw," suggested Louis.
"I did not intend to do so yet a while," replied the captain. "I want to know what the Fatty is about, as Felix calls her; and I think we had better translate her heathen name into plain English."
"Flix's name would apply better to Uncle Moses and Dr. Hawkes than to the Moorish steamer."
"We had a girl in our high school who bore that name, though she was a full-blooded New Yorker; but the master always insisted upon putting the accent on the first syllable, declaring that was the right way to pronounce it. I know we have always pronounced the word Fat'-ee-may, and that is where Flix got the foundation for his abbreviation."
"Fatty it is, Captain, if you say so. I wonder what the Fatty is about just now?" added Louis.
"Flix will soon enlighten us on that subject, for he has a wonderfully sharp pair of eyes."
"Do you really believe we shall get over to Cyprus, Captain Scott?" asked Louis, looking sharply into the eyes of the navigator.
"Why should we not?"
"Because I don't believe Captain Ringgold intends to turn us loose on the Mediterranean, and let us go it on our own hook, or rather on your own hook; for you are the commander, and all the rest of us have to do is to obey your orders," said Louis; and the little tiff between them had gently and remotely suggested to him that Captain Scott had some purpose in his mind which he would not explain to anybody.
His hint that if he were in command of the Guardian-Mother he would make a hole in the side of the Fatime, pointed to something of this kind, though probably it was nothing more than a vague idea. He had suggested the plan upon which the ship and her consort were then acting, and perhaps it had some possibility of which the commander had not yet dreamed.
"Can you tell me why that steam-yacht of over six hundred tons is crowding on steam, and running away towards Port Said, while we are, by Captain Ringgold's order, headed for Cyprus?" asked the captain.
"Of course I can. He expects by this means to draw off the Fatty, and set her to chasing the Maud, so that the party will not be bothered with any conspiracies while we are going through the canal," replied Louis.
"If the Fatty chases us, the Guardian-Mother will put in an appearance before any harm comes to the Maud, or to any one on board of her."
"Precisely so; that is the way the business is laid out," replied Captain Scott; but he looked just as though something more might be said which he did not care to say.
"But it remains to be shown whether the Fatty will follow the Maud or the ship," added Louis.
"She will not follow the Guardian-Mother," said the navigator very decidedly.
"How do you know, Captain? You speak as positively as though Captain Mazagan had told you precisely what he intended to do."
"Of course he has told me nothing, for I have not seen him. Common-sense is all I have to guide me."
They were about to go into a further discussion of the question when Felix came tumbling down the ladder from the upper deck as though he was in a hurry.
"What has broken now, Flix?" demanded the captain.
"Nothing; but the question is settled," replied the lookoutman, stopping at the front window of the pilot-house, as though he had something important to say. "The ship looks like a punctuation mark on the sea, and"—
"Is it a full stop?" asked Captain Scott.
"I don't know; but I think not. She is so far off that I can't make out whether she is moving or not; but she is not sending as much smoke out of her funnel as she was."
"Then your news is a little indefinite."
"As indefinite as a broken barometer. But I did not come down to report upon the ship alone," added the lookoutman.
"Give out the text, and go on with the sermon."
"The text is in the back part of Jonah, where Job swallowed the whale. The Fatty has come about and is now under a full head of steam, as nearly as I can judge," said Felix, who thought he was treated with too much levity over a serious subject. "I couldn't see her compass, but the arrow-head is directly under the mark, according to my figuring of it."
"Don't be too nautical, Flix; but I suppose you mean that she is headed directly for the Maud," replied the captain. "That is precisely what I have been satisfied from the beginning she would do."
"Then Morris may enter on his log-slate that the chase began at 11.15 A.M.," said Louis as he glanced at the clock over the binnacle.
"Not just yet, Morris," replied Captain Scott, who seemed to have no apprehension that the Moor would overhaul the Maud. "Let me have your glass, Flix; and it is your trick at the wheel, Louis."
He took the spy-glass and left the pilot-house. They saw him climb the ladder to the hurricane deck, and it was evident that he intended to take a look for himself.
"He does not accept my report," said Felix with a laugh.
"But he said just now that you had wonderfully sharp eyes, Flix," added Louis.
"Yet he will not trust them."
But the captain returned in a few minutes, and reported what steamers were in sight, with the added information that none of them were headed to the north-east; his shipmates could not see the significance of his information. He rang the speed bell, and Morris noted the time on the slate.
LOUIS BELGRAVE HAS SOME MISGIVINGS
Captain Scott had evidently visited the hurricane deck with the spy-glass for the purpose of scanning the sea within eight or ten miles of the Maud, as his report was that no steamers going in a northeasterly direction were in sight. He did not say that he feared any interference on the part of such vessels if any were near. At eleven o'clock it was time for Felix to take his trick at the wheel; Morris's watch, consisting of himself and Louis, were off duty.
It was a very democratic routine that prevailed on board of the little steamer; for the captain was no bigger man than the two seamen before the mast, and was obliged to take his turn on the lookout; but the arrangement had been made by the boys, all had agreed to it, and no one could complain. Scott went to his place in the bow, taking the glass with him. He had given out the course to his successor at the wheel, and the Maud was now going at full speed.
The dignity of the quarter-deck does not permit an officer, much less a seaman, to ask questions of his superior. This sacred limit on board of a ship was entirely constructive so far as the Maud was concerned; for she was provided with no such planking, and the dignity was applicable only to the persons to whom the quarter-deck is appropriated. But Captain Ringgold was a strict disciplinarian, having served in the navy during the War of the Rebellion.
The young navigators had imbibed this deference from the officers on board of the Guardian-Mother, and it had become, as it were, a part of their nautical being. It had never been incorporated in any regulation, but it was just as potent as though it had been set forth in an order from the commander. Captain Scott did not explain what other steamers headed in the same direction as the Maud had to do with the present voyage, and it was not in order to make any inquiries; but Louis Belgrave would have been very glad to know what was passing through the mind of his superior officer at this time.
The young commander "made no sign," and all that could be done was to wait until events developed themselves. Morris and Louis were at liberty to go where they pleased, and do what they liked, provided they did not interfere with the routine of the steamer. Both of them were desirous of understanding the situation, and they went upon the upper deck in order to obtain a better view of the other vessels.
Morris had a field-glass which he carried with him. Like everything else the magnate of the Fifth Avenue provided for the members of his family, it was of the best quality, and had proved to be a powerful instrument. He first looked for the Guardian-Mother; but he could not make her out. The trend of the coast was to the southward, beyond Damietta, and she had either gone out of the reach of the glass, or she was concealed by the intervening land. The Fatime was very distinctly to be seen, headed for the Maud, and there could be no doubt at all in regard to her intentions. She was in pursuit of the Maud, and her movements very plainly indicated that she was engaged in a mischievous mission.
"It begins to look serious, don't it, Louis?" asked Morris, after both of them had used the field-glass.
"It would look so if the Guardian-Mother were not somewhere in the vicinity," replied Louis. "Captain Mazagan has waited till she is well out of sight; and I have no doubt he is wondering why our two vessels have separated. At any rate, he has bitten at the bait prepared for him without seeing the hook it conceals."
"I don't see why the plan is not succeeding as well as could be desired," suggested the first officer. "Of course Captain Ringgold does not mean to leave us to fall into the hands of this pirate, as you all call her."
"It was distinctly the understanding that she was to come between us and any possible harm."
"Something may happen to prevent her from doing so."
"Of course there is no knowing what may happen," Louis admitted. "I do not see what can possibly occur to prevent her from following us to Cyprus, if we go there."
"Isn't it settled that we are to go there?" asked Morris, who had not heard the manoeuvre discussed before the commander of the ship.
"It is not absolutely settled; for the Fatty might take to her heels, and no doubt would do so if she discovered the Guardian-Mother in her wake. Mazagan knows very well that she can make four knots to the Moorish craft's three; for that is just the ratio we figured out between them. With three or four knots the lead she could overhaul her in an hour."
"But the pirate could make her out in clear weather ten or a dozen miles off. But what was Captain Scott's idea in running for the island of Cyprus?"
"In order to have room enough for his manoeuvre."
"Have you kept the run of the Maud's course, Louis?"
"I have not; I am not so much of a sailor as you are, my boy, and I don't figure on sailing the craft unless required to do so," replied Louis. "But why do you ask that question?"
"Because I think the captain has changed the course of the Maud, and is headed more to the northward," answered Morris.
"What makes you think so? He gave out a north-east course to Flix. You have seen no compass since that time, and the sun is clouded in. I see that Captain Scott is no longer at the bow; he must have gone into the pilot-house," added Louis, his thought in regard to the indefinite idea in the mind of the navigator coming to him again.
"There is a compass in the standing-room, Louis; suppose we go below and look up this matter," Morris proposed, though he could have had no suspicion that the captain had any concealed intentions.
They went down the forward ladder to the forecastle, though there was one aft leading into the standing-room. Louis found that Scott was seated on the divan abaft the wheel, studying a chart, which he could see included the island of Cyprus. He took no notice of them as they descended the ladder, and they went to the standing-room without stopping on the forecastle. Morris led the way; for he seemed to be impatient to ascertain whether or not he was right in relation to the course of the steamer.
"There you are!" he exclaimed as he looked at the face of the compass. "The Maud is headed to the north north-east half east; and that is not the course Captain Scott gave out when Flix took the helm."
"But it is not a great change," added Louis.
"Just now it is not; but in making two hundred miles to the northward it would take the Maud to a point about forty miles to the westward of where she would have brought up on her former course," Morris explained.
"I understand your point; but what does it mean?"
"It means that we are going to a place forty miles west of the one we started for."
"I don't understand it; and Captain Scott is just as tenacious in keeping his own counsels as the commander of the Guardian-Mother himself," replied Louis.
"But you have as much influence with him as the commander."
"And for that reason I will not ask him any questions in regard to the sailing of the Maud."
Morris was not ready to ask him to call the captain to an account; and, leaving him in the standing-room, he went into the cabin. Louis was not willing to believe, or even to accept a suggestion that Scott had any ulterior purpose in his mind; for it seemed very much like treason to harbor such a thought of his friend. The only thing that gave him a hint in that direction was the fact he had expressed that Louis ought not to be on board of the Maud during her present mission.
If the little steamer was not to engage in some perilous adventure, why should Scott wish he were somewhere else? But the captain was certainly solicitous for one of those whose safety was threatened; and he tried to believe that this was a sufficient explanation. While he was thinking of the matter, Morris rushed out of the cabin, and looked and acted as though he were laboring under some excitement.
"What is the matter now, Morris?" he asked.
"Matter enough!" replied the first officer. "The barometer has made a considerable slump since I looked at it the last time."
"And that means bad weather, I suppose," added Louis, who very rarely became excited when a young fellow would be expected to be in such a condition.
"No doubt of it," answered the mate, wondering that he had made so slight an impression on his companion.
"We have weathered two pretty severe gales in the Maud, and I dare say we can do it again. I suppose the barometer will tell the same story on board of the ship that it has on the consort."
"No doubt of that."
"Then we shall soon see the Guardian-Mother bowling this way at her best speed," answered Louis.
The officer levelled his field-glass in the direction the ship had gone; but there was not the least sign of her or any other steamer in that quarter of the horizon.
"She isn't there; but she may have run in under a lee somewhere near Damietta, in order to watch the movements of the Fatty."
"That may be; and if she has done so it was not a bad idea. But I think we had better go forward and ascertain if there is any news there," added Louis, as he led the way.
If he was not alarmed at the situation in view of the weather indications, he was certainly somewhat anxious. When he reached the forecastle he found the captain there, using his glass very diligently, pointing it in the direction in which the ship was supposed to be. Louis and Morris did not interrupt his occupation. He discovered nothing, and he was apparently going aft to get a view of the Fatime when he noticed the members of the port watch.
"I suppose you noticed that the course of the Maud has been changed, Louis?" said he.
This remark afforded the perplexed millionaire a decided relief; for it proved that the captain had not intended to conceal the change from him.
"I did not observe it, but Morris did; for he is boiling over with nautical knowledge and skill," replied Louis, and without asking any question.
"I was going aft to take a look at the Fatty; but I suppose you can report what she is doing," added Captain Scott.
"Morris can, but I cannot."
"Do you think she is gaining on us?" asked the captain, turning from Louis to the mate.
"Of course I can't tell while she is coming head on; but I cannot make out that she has gained a cable's length upon us."
"Mr. Sentrick and Felipe put our engine in first-rate condition while we were going up and down the Nile; and both of them say the Maud ought to make half a knot better time than before," continued the captain. "I am confident we are fully the equal of the Fatty in speed; and perhaps we could keep out of her way on an emergency. You know we had a little spurt with her in the Strait of Gibraltar. But come into the pilot-house, Louis, for I want to show you something there;" and he led the way.
When both of them were fairly in the little apartment, he pointed to the barometer. If Louis was not much of a sailor, he had learned to read the instrument, and he saw that the mercury had made a decided fall from the last reading.
"I see; and it means bad weather," he replied.
"Flix called my attention to the fall some time ago; and after a look at the chart I decided to alter the course," said the captain, as he pointed out the island of Cyprus on the chart spread out on the falling table over the divan.
"I have no doubt you have done the right thing at the right time, as you always do in the matter of navigation."
"But look at this chart, Louis;" and it almost seemed to him that the captain had fathomed his unuttered thoughts, because he was taking so much pains to explain what he had done, and why he had done it. "The course I gave out at first would have carried the Maud to Cape Gata, on the southern coast of the island."
"I understand it so far."
"The tumble of the barometer opened the matter under a new phase. We should have made Cape Gata about three to-morrow morning, and in my judgment in a smart southerly or south-westerly gale. The cape would afford us little or no shelter, as you can see for yourself; and it would be a very bad place in a heavy blow. Our course is now north north-east half-east for Cape Arnauti, on the north side of the island, where we shall be under the lee of the island, though we have to get forty miles more of westing to make it."
Louis thanked the captain for his lucid explanation. The next morning, in a fresh gale, the Maud was off the cape mentioned.
A STORMY NIGHT RUN TO CAPE ARNAUTI
It had been a stormy night, though the gale had not been so severe as either of the two the Maud had before encountered on the Mediterranean. It did not come on to blow hard till about eight bells in the afternoon; and at five o'clock in the morning Captain Scott estimated that the little steamer ought to be off Cape Arnauti; but all the lights of the island were on the south side. He kept her well off shore, where there were neither rocks nor shoals. There was nothing less than twenty fathoms of water a couple of miles from the shore.
The gale had come from the south; and the course of the Maud was only a couple of points from taking it directly aft, so that she was running too nearly before it for the comfort of those on board of her. But she had a little slant, and a close-reefed foresail had been set in the first dog-watch, and she had carried it all night.
The only difficulty about the Maud was her size when it blew hard and there was a heavy sea. She was too small to be at all steady on great waves, though the larger they were the better weather she made of it. Her worst behavior was in a smart, choppy sea, when the waves were not long, but short and violent. But this was not the kind of a sea she had through the night.
In a heavy sea of any kind she made a good deal of fuss; and being only forty feet long it could not be otherwise. She pitched tremendously, and mixed in a considerable roll every time she rose and fell; and it was not an easy thing for even a sailor to get about on her deck. Life-lines had been extended wherever they were needed, and all the ship's company were used to the erratic ways of the diminutive craft. After all, she was larger than some of the vessels used by the early voyagers to America, some of whose craft were not even provided with decks.
When the Maud was prepared for heavy weather she was as tight as a drum; and while the heavy seas rolled the whole length of her, not a bucketful of them found its way below her deck. The only danger of taking in a dangerous sea was at the scuttle on the forecastle, which was the usual door of admission to the forecastle below, where the two engineers and the cook had their quarters.
The steamer when she made a dive into a sea scooped up a quantity of water, which she spilled out over the rails, or over the taffrail in the standing-room. The captain had therefore ordered this scuttle to be secured below, so that it could not be removed. Those who had occasion to go below in that part of the vessel were compelled to do so through the fire-room. Though Scott was a bold and brave fellow, and even daring when the occasion required, he was a prudent commander, and never took any unnecessary chances.
But not a person on board had been permitted to "turn in" as the thing was done in moderate weather. The sail on the upper deck required one hand to stand by it all the time, though he was relieved every two hours. The engineers and the cook had broad divans upon which they could take a nap, and the sailing-force had taken turns on the broad sofa in the pilot-house. But Captain Scott had hardly closed his eyes during the night.
From the time the Fatime was found to be headed to the northward, the officers of the Maud had lost sight of her for only a couple of hours, when a bank of fog swept over the sea, just before sundown. But at eight bells her lights had been discovered. At midnight they could still be seen; but the captain and Morris were confident that she had been losing ground, judging by the diminished clearness of the triangle of lanterns as they appeared over the stern of the Maud.
The lights of a vessel following another appear to the latter in this form, with the white, or plain one, at the upper apex of the triangle, the red and the green making the two abreast of each other. They were observed at seven bells in the first watch; but another fog-bank had passed over the sea, and at eight bells, or midnight, they could not be seen. Morris and Louis had the first watch. Felix had gone to take his nap in the galley; for Pitts, the cook, had been called into service, and was attending to the reefed sail on the upper deck. Captain Scott had joined him here.
With a rope made fast around his waist, he had been to the standing-room to look out for the triangle of lights on the Fatime. He could not find them; but the fog explained why they were not in sight. It was not a very comfortable position on the hurricane deck, for the spray stirred up at the stern was swept over it. All hands had donned their waterproof caps, with capes to protect the neck, and the oilskin suits they had found on board when the steamer was purchased.
"We have been gaining upon her, Pitts," said the captain, after he had looked attentively into the fog astern for some time. "We may not see her again."
"Perhaps not, sir; but she's a bad penny, and she is likely to turn up again," replied the cook. "But I suppose you will not weep, sir, if you don't see her again."
"I should like to know what had become of her if we don't see her again," added Scott carelessly.
"I suppose that Mustapha Pacha is still on board of her; and I should rather like to see Captain Ringgold pitch him into another muddy gutter, as he did in Gibraltar. But the Guardian-Mother is not with us just now, and that is not likely to happen on this little cruise."
Pitts hinted in this manner that he should like to know something more about the present situation; but the captain was willing to let him form his own conclusions, and he gave him no assistance in doing so. Eight bells struck on the forecastle; and this was the signal for the mid watch, which consisted of the captain and Felix; and Scott left the upper deck.
Pitts was relieved by Felix; for he could serve as lookout and take charge of the sail at the same time. Morris was the youngest person on board, and he was tired enough to camp down at once on the divan in the pilot-house. The cabin door could not be safely opened, or at least not without peril to the contents of the cabin; for an occasional wave combed over the taffrail, and poured itself upon it.
Louis was not inclined to sleep, and he went on the upper deck to pass the time with Felix; and the captain asked him to keep a lookout for the pirate. The fog still prevailed, and he could see nothing. He talked with the Milesian for quite two hours, when the time for the relief of the helm came. Just before the four bells struck, the fog disappeared as suddenly as it had dropped down on the sea.
Louis went aft and gazed into the distance; but he could see no triangle of lights, or even a single light in any direction. He made a thorough search, with no other result, and then stood by the sail till the captain came up to take the place of Felix.
"The fog has blown in ahead of us, Louis; but Flix reports that you have not been able to find the lights of the pirate," said Scott.
"Not a sign of them can be made out," replied Louis. "I have looked the sea over in every direction. What does that mean, Captain Scott?"
"It may mean any one of three things, and you have to take your choice among them. The pirate may have foundered in the gale, she may have put about to return to the coast of Egypt, or we may have beaten her so badly in the race of fifteen hours, that she has dropped out of sight astern of us. I don't know much about the Pacha's steamer, though our second engineer told me she was not built to order, as the Maud was, but purchased outright."
"But which of the three results you indicate do you consider the most probable, Captain?"
"The last one I named. This gale has not been heavy enough to wreck any vessel of ordinary strength, so that I cannot believe she has foundered. Captain Mazagan is working for his little twenty thousand dollars' reward; and if he has followed us up here with the intention of picking you up on the cruise, I don't believe he would retire from the field without making a bigger effort than he has put forth so far."
"Then, you think he is after me?"
"Don't we know that he is? Not one of the 'Big Four' is so indifferent and careless about the matter as you are yourself, Louis," replied the captain with a good deal of energy. "I still think you ought not to have come with us on this perilous cruise; and I wonder with all my might that Captain Ringgold did not keep you on board of the Guardian-Mother."
"He desired to do so; but I would not stand it. I have not the slightest fear of the Pacha and all his blackguards and pirates," protested Louis.
"Not since Mazagan got his paw upon you, and you slipped out of it only by a lucky chance?" demanded the captain, more as an argument than as a question to be answered. "You got off by the skin of your teeth; and you may thank your stars that you are not shut up at this moment in some dungeon in Mogadore, where they don't ask hard questions as to what has become of troublesome Christians. If the shop had not been invaded by creditors, you would have been conveyed to Rosetta, and taken away on board the pirate. The rest of the party would not have known what had become of you; for we could not find you when we searched for you in Cairo."
"That is all very nice, Captain Scott," replied Louis, laughing out loud. "I would not have given two cents to have the guard of sailors who made things so sad for the Arabs at Gizeh in the cellar with me. Make as much fuss as you may over my danger at this time, I was master of the situation all the while," answered Louis very decidedly.
"Master of the situation!" exclaimed the captain. "You might as well call the trout the master of the situation after he has the hook in his gills. I don't see it in that light."
"I had fired one shot from my revolver, and wounded Mazagan's assistant in the outrage; and I had five balls more in the weapon. I think the pirate counted upon the custom-house officers to deprive me of the pistol, or he would not have gone to work just as he did. My shot demoralized the wounded man, and scared his brother the shopkeeper out of his wits. My next shot was for Mazagan; and if he had taken another step in his programme he would not have been in command of that steamer just now."
"Perhaps there were some chances for your aim or your calculations to fail," suggested Scott; "though Flix says you never miss your mark when you shoot."
"Captain Ringgold said so much to me to induce me to remain on board of the Guardian-Mother, that I was tempted to yield the point; but it seemed to me to be cowardly to leave my friends in the face of a possible danger. I told him finally that I considered myself under his command, and if he ordered me to remain on board of the ship, I should obey. He would not do that, and I am here. If there is to be any row on my account I must be in it."
"You have a mind of your own, and you are in condition to have your own way. If your mother had been posted you would not have been here."
"We don't know; but I think I have as much influence with my mother as she has with me. I hardly believe she could or would make me act the part of a coward."
The subject was dropped there, for it seemed to be exhausted. The night wore away very slowly, and nothing more was seen of the Fatime's lights. The morning watch came on duty at four o'clock; but the captain did not leave the deck. It was evident to him that the sail had increased the speed of the Maud, and perhaps that was the reason she had run away from the chaser. An hour later, with the dawn of the day, the gale broke.
"Land, ho!" shouted Louis over the forward part of the upper deck, so that Morris could hear him at the wheel; and the captain rushed out of the pilot-house where he had lain down on the divan.
"Where away?" called the first officer.
"Broad on the starboard bow," replied Louis.
"That must be the country south-west of Cape Arnauti," said Scott, after he had examined the shore with the glass. "Make the course north north-east, Morris," he shouted to the wheelman.
"North north-east!" returned the helmsman.
"There are mountains on this island, some of them nearly seven thousand feet high; and there is a cluster of them close to the shore here," added the captain.
It was another hour before they could distinctly make out these mountains; and by that time the end of the cape could be seen on the beam. The speed of the Maud had been reduced one-half, and the course due east was given out. She followed the land around the cape, and was soon in smooth water. With the chart before him at the helm, and with Morris heaving the lead, Captain Scott piloted the Maud to the head of a considerable bay, where he ordered the anchor to be cast loose, and then stopped the screw.
THE BELLIGERENT COMMANDER OF THE MAUD
"Here we are!" shouted Captain Scott, as the cable slid out through the hawse-hole.
"That's so; but where are we?" asked Louis, who had been watching the bottom for the last hour. "There is a big ledge of rocks not twenty feet from the cutwater. Here we are; but where are we?"
"We are on the south-west shore of Khrysoko Bay," replied the captain. "That ledge of rocks is just what I have been looking for the last half-hour."
"Then, I am glad we have found it," added Louis.
"What's the name of the bay, Captain?" inquired Felix, scratching his head.
"Khrysoko," repeated Scott. "It pronounces well enough; but when you come to the spelling, that's another affair."
"I could spell that with my eyes shut; for I used to cry so myself when I was a baby. Cry so, with a co on the end of it for a snapper. But I thought that bay was on the coast of Ireland, sou' sou'-west by nor' nor'-east from the Cove of Cork," added Felix.
"That's the precise bearing of the one you mean, Flix; but this isn't that one at all, at all," said the captain with a long gape.
"Then it must be this one."
"The word is spelled with two k's."
"That's a hard k'se; but where do you get them in?"
The captain spelled the word with another gape, for he had not slept a wink during the night; and Louis advised him to turn in at once.
"Breakfast is all ready in the cabin, sir," said Pitts.
"That will do me more good than a nap," added Scott. "Don, keep a lively lookout on that high cape we came round, and see that it don't walk off while I'm eating my breakfast. Remember, all you fellows, that is Cape Arnauti; and if any of you are naughty, you will get fastened to that rock, as doubtless the chap it was named after was."
"Oh-h-h!" groaned Morris. "You are not sleepy, Captain; a fellow that can make a pun can keep awake."
"I should not need a brass band to put me to sleep just now; but I shall not take my nap till we have overhauled the situation, and figured up where the pirate may be about this time in the forenoon," replied Scott, as he led the way to the cabin.
As Pitts was waiting on the table, nothing particular was said. Don had his morning meal carried to him on the forecastle, where Felipe joined him. He kept his eye fixed on the cape all the time, as though he expected to see the Fatime double it. He knew nothing at all about the real situation, though he could not help seeing that the Maud was trying to keep clear of the Moorish steamer; and he was in full sympathy with this idea.
The larder of the little steamer had been filled up at Alexandria, and Pitts had prepared one of his best breakfasts. The party were in high spirits; for the little Maud had run away from the pirate, though of course there were other chapters to the narrative.
"As soon as we get the situation a little more settled, and you fellows get your eyes braced wide open, one of you must tackle the island of Cyprus, and get up a lecture on it; for the commander desired that we should learn something about the place," said the captain.
"I move you, Mr. Commander, that Mr. Louis Belgrave be invited to prepare and deliver the lecture," interposed Morris; and the motion was put and carried.
"I have no objection; and my own curiosity would have prompted me to do so without any invitation; but I thank you for the honor you confer on me in the selection," replied Louis; and the company adjourned to the forecastle.
"Well, Don, have you seen anything of the Moorish craft?" asked the captain.
"Not a sign, sir," replied the engineer. "If she is looking for the Maud, I don't believe she will find her in here very soon."
"I don't believe this is just the place to hold a consultation on a delicate subject," said Louis, as he pointed to the scuttle which had been removed from its place by Felipe. "I think we shall do better on the hurricane deck."
As this afforded a better place to observe the surroundings, and especially the approaches from the sea, the captain assented to it, and the "Big Four" repaired to the upper deck. They seated themselves in the little tender of the Maud, and all of them looked out in the direction of the cape, from beyond which the pirate was expected to put in an appearance.
"Our present situation is the subject before the house," the captain began. "We have made the bay for which I shaped the course of the Maud as soon as the gale began to make things sloppy. This is a mountainous island, with nothing like a harbor on the west coast between Cape Gata and Cape Arnauti. There are from twelve to twenty fathoms of water in this bay, within a mile of the shore; and the rocks close aboard of us reach out a mile and a half, with from ten to twelve feet of water on them. There is no town within ten miles of the shore, and we are not likely to see any natives, unless some of them come to this bay to fish. That's where we are."
"We should like to have you tell us now where the Fatty is," added Morris.
"Or the Guardian-Mother," said Louis.
"I am sorry to say that I can't tell you where either of these vessels is; and I am as anxious to know as any of you can be," replied Scott, as he took a paper from his pocket. "I have followed the orders of Captain Ringgold, just as he wrote them down: 'Proceed to Cape Gata; but if it should blow heavily from the southward, go to the north side of the island, and get in behind Cape Arnauti.' And here we are."
Felix was seated where he could see that much more was written on the paper which the captain did not choose to read. But he had the right to keep his own council, and the Milesian asked no questions.
"Here we are—what next?" added Louis.
"That depends," replied Scott. "The commander of the Guardian-Mother knows where we are, though he may have to look in at the harbor of Limasol to see if the Maud is there. When he comes I shall have nothing further to say."
"Don't you expect to see the Fatty before the ship comes?"
"It is quite impossible to form any idea what has become of the pirate. Perhaps she is looking for the Maud; and if she is she will probably find her. I think this is about as far as we can go now; and, if you will excuse me, I will turn in and get my nap," said the captain as he rose from his seat.
"That is the right thing to do," added Louis.
"You will all keep a sharp lookout to seaward, and call me as soon as either vessel heaves in sight."
The captain went to the cabin, and in two minutes he was sound asleep. The rest of the ship's company had obtained about one-half of their usual slumber, and they were not inclined to follow the example of the captain. Louis went to the cabin and proceeded to study up the island. He made notes in a little blank-book he kept for the purpose in his pocket, and he had already filled a dozen such books; for they contained a full diary of all the events of the voyage for over a year.
Felix kept his spy-glass in his hand all the time, and every few minutes he swept the horizon to the northward with it. Morris had gone to sleep in the pilot-house, for his watch was not on duty. At about six bells in the forenoon watch the Milesian began to show more sign of animation than before. He held his glass in range with the cape, and directed his attention steadily in that direction.
If he had been fishing, he would have said that he "had a bite." It was clear that he saw something in the distance, which was hardly more than a speck on the ocean; but there was also a thread of black smoke on the sky above it, for it had cleared off since sunrise. Of course it was a steamer; but whether it was the Fatime or the Guardian-Mother, or neither of them, he could not determine, and he did not wish to disturb the captain for nothing.