ISLE O' DREAMS
ISLE O' DREAMS
FREDERICK F. MOORE
Author of "The Devil's Admiral," "The Sailor Girl," Etc.
FRONTISPIECE BY RALPH PALLEN COLEMAN
Garden City New York DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1920
COPYRIGHT, 1917, 1920, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN
I. Robert Trask Arrives in Manila from Amoy 3
II. Dinshaw Tells of His Island 19
III. Captain Dinshaw Pulls a Long Bow 33
IV. Captain Jarrow Goes Cruising in Strange Waters 50
V. Jarrow Does and Says Queer Things 64
VI. Mr. Peth Is Particular About Where He Sleeps 74
VII. Trask Has a Talk With Doc Bird 92
VIII. How the Schooner Arrived off the Island 104
IX. Trask Undertakes a Private Investigation 124
X. Captain Jarrow Admits He Is Suspicious of Peth 144
XI. Mr. Peth Does Most Amazing Things 161
XII. Trask Makes a Discovery 179
XIII. What Happened to Doc and the Dinghy 191
XIV. What Jarrow Wanted and What He Got 203
XV. An End and a Beginning 220
ISLE O' DREAMS
ISLE O' DREAMS
ROBERT TRASK ARRIVES IN MANILA FROM AMOY
As the tubby little China Coast steamer marched up Manila Bay, Trask stood under the bridge on the skimpy "promenade deck" and waited impatiently for the doctor's boat to come alongside. He was the only white passenger among a motley lot of Chinese merchants and half-castes of varied hues, and he was glad the passage was at an end.
He had made the trip with a Finnish skipper, disconcertingly cross-eyed, a Lascar mate who looked like a pirate and had a voice like a school-girl, a purser addicted to the piccolo late at night, and fellow-passengers who jabbered interminably about nothing at all in half a dozen languages. So Trask regarded the spires and red roofs of Manila with the hungry eyes of a man who has been separated from civilization and his own kind too many days to remember.
Before the steamer anchored, Trask saw the Taming passing out for Hong Kong, white moustaches of foam at her forefoot and her decks alive with men and women. She was as smart as a big liner.
But he looked away from her to the Luneta and the villa-like Bay View Hotel, white and stately, at the lip of the bay. That was his goal, for he had promised Marjorie Locke he would be in Manila the day before, and he was now a day late.
The customs boarding officer took him ashore with his bags and graciously allowed him to depart in a quilez, after holding his baggage for examination. Trask went whirling up Calle San Fernando, through Plaza Oriente, Calle Rosario, Plaza Moraga, over the Bridge of Spain and into shady Bazumbayan Drive, skirting the moat of the Walled City. It was a roundabout way but the quickest, for the cochero made his ponies travel at a good clip for a double fare.
The rig shot across the baking Luneta, and ere it had come to a full stop before the Bay View Trask was out and into the darkened hall of the tourist headquarters of the Philippine capital.
The place appeared deserted except for a sleepy muchacho, who staggered out from some palms, looking for the new guest's baggage.
"Have you got an outside room?" demanded Trask of the drowsing English clerk behind the railing, as he pulled the register toward him and scanned the open page.
"I say! Mr. Trask!"
The young man looked up. "Correct," he said. "Where did we——?"
"I'm Wilkins, sir, G. O. H., Colombo. You were there last year, sir, in from Singapore. You had an argument with a 'rickshaw man. I was managing the bar at the time."
"Sure enough, Wilkins! How d'ye do!" and Trask extended a hand which Wilkins shook with fervour, striking a bell with the other for the Chinese bar-boy.
"Two stone gingers with a finger of Scotch," said Wilkins. "Fine room on the bay-side, Mr. Trask. And you'll find it quiet enough."
"It does look quiet for you," said Trask, as he wrote his name in the register and took off his helmet. It was plain that the tropics had put their mark upon him, for in contrast to the deep tan of burnt umber over cheeks and chin, the upper part of his forehead showed a white band of skin, the helmet line of the veteran traveller in low latitudes. His black eyes were embedded in nests of tiny wrinkles, the "tropical squint," which no mere griffin ever has as a passport.
"Yes, sir," said Wilkins. "The China boat cleaned the place up this morning. Not a tripper left."
"No?" cried Trask, with sudden concern. He turned to the register again and flopped back the pages. "You must have a man here named Locke, an American, travelling with his daughter."
"Gone," said Wilkins. "Left on the Taming to catch the Pacific Mail at Hong Kong."
"If that isn't my blooming luck!" moaned Trask, shutting the register with a slam and turning his back to the desk, a picture of limp despair.
"Yes, sir," continued Wilkins, coming out from behind his barrier, "the Lockes left here Friday for Dagupan, to be back in time to sail this noon. They must have caught the Taming. I sent their spare trunks down this morning to be held for Mr. Locke. He wasn't to come back here, but go right aboard from the morning train. Friends of yours?"
"Yes. We were shipmates from Honolulu coming out, three months back."
"Very respectable people," said Wilkins. "I understand Mr. Locke's quite wealthy."
"I imagine so," replied Trask, despondently. It was hard luck, for he had managed to take a month's vacation for no other purpose than to meet Marjorie Locke for a few days in Manila and here he was, like a man marooned, with nothing to do, and the Lockes out in the China Sea, bound for the "States."
"But why shouldn't they go?" thought Trask. The fact that he was secretly in love with Marjorie Locke, and had allowed himself to believe that she rather liked him, was no reason why she should wait in Manila merely because he had told her that he expected to be in that city on a certain date.
"Oh, that reminds me!" said Wilkins suddenly, as he ran in behind the railing again. "Look here! I've a letter for you. Been here a couple of days, never struck me at the time it was you, never dawned on me until I saw you at the desk, then I remembered your name."
"Mail for me?" asked Trask. "Why, nobody knows I'm in Manila. I'm supposed to be up in Korea."
"Not mail, precisely, sir. It was left here a few days ago."
"Who left it?" Trask was suddenly hopeful.
"Can't say, sir. I found it on the desk. Rather mysterious, you know. I'd say it was——" He paused, to rifle the letter-rack.
"If you don't mind, sir, I'd say it was queer, rather extraordinary circumstance. Now where could I have put it?"
"How was it queer? Don't keep me on the grid. What about it?"
"The fact is," said Wilkins, "I'd consider it a bit irregular. The backing was done with a typewriter, but the paper—I'd say the envelope was business, but not house stationary. It struck me that way, if you don't mind my saying it. Quite involuntary on my part, but natural, sir, considering the name looked familiar. Of course, I never remembered you in connection with Colombo until I'd seen your face——"
"Certainly, certainly," said Trask, impatiently.
"Stupid of me not to think of it before," went on Wilkins, musingly. "We hotel men get to notice things, and I shouldn't like to be so slow as a usual thing with—— Ah, here it is! Got in among the steamer guides."
Trask reached across for the letter. It was a large, square envelope of a bulky woven paper. On it was typed in purple:
Mr. Robert Trask. Consolidated Mines Syndicate. To be called for.
The letters of the words were topped by a faint and blurry purple line, showing that the heavy envelope had undergone troubles by being rolled into a typewriter.
"Excuse me," said Trask. He tore it open just as the bar-boy appeared with a tray decorated with stone ginger jars and glasses. The letter read:
DEAR MR. TRASK:
Thank you so much for the flowers you sent me at the King Edward in Hong Kong. They were lovely. So sorry we shan't see you again. I remember you said you'd be in Manila the tenth of this month. Dad has changed his plans and wants to get back home, so we leave Manila by the Taming on the eleventh. We are going up to Dagupan by train and will reach Manila to sail by noon. So, if you do get to Manila on the tenth, I think it would be jolly to see you on board. We'll go directly from the station to the tender. I'll address this on the machine, so it'll look most businesslike, for Mr. Wilkins, the clerk, is prone to gossip. Thank you again for your kindness in Hong Kong and your many kindnesses to Dad and me on board the Manchuria.
Trask, smiling broadly, put the letter into his pocket.
"That must be good news, sir. Hope it is. Shall we go out on the big veranda for our nip? Cooler out there."
"What? Yes, certainly," said Trask, reminded of where he was as he looked up to see the bar-boy standing beside him and Wilkins waiting. In spite of the fact that the letter was ample proof that Miss Locke was gone, it had put his head in a whirl. At least she hadn't forgotten. He followed Wilkins.
"You look quite bucked up now," said Wilkins, as he pulled out a chair beside a marble-topped table.
"I do feel better," admitted Trask. "Just the same, I'm bitterly disappointed. No doubt I'm ungrateful, but I've played in rotten luck."
"You expected to meet the Lockes?" suggested Wilkins. "Too bad."
"Yes," said Trask, and taking a glass from the bar-boy, sat down.
"Here's luck and a long stay, sir," said Wilkins.
"Thanks." But Trask was rather listless and tired, frankly bored by the clerk. He stared out over the sickle curve of the bay along the Cavite shore, where a line of white beach made a barrier between the water and the green jungle. The red-roofed buildings of Cavite lay out on the end of the sickle like a clutter of bleached bones cast up by the tide.
The bay lay like a great shining shield before him, blazing with millions of mirrors that danced on the shoulders of the sleek and lazy swells, lifting in the sun-dazzle from the entrance, some twenty-five miles away.
Trask looked at his watch. It was well after one, the hour when men take shelter from the sun in cafes to talk over prolonged tiffins and wait for the heat of mid-day to wane.
A hush had fallen over the city, like the lull which precedes the breaking of a typhoon, a panting sort of hush. Heat waves rose from the bare expanse of the Luneta like siroccos from the nether regions, and the palm trees of the Malecon Drive, seen through the shimmering air, appeared to dance like souls in torture.
Beyond the Luneta the tawny walls of the city fairly cracked with the heat, and over them could be seen the sea of roofs of the intra-mural section, the heart of Manila, inside its ancient bastions. Spires rose from the ruck of low buildings like dead trees denuded of their branches. Down the bay a streamer of smoke hung over the Bataan hills, the last vestige of the outward-bound Taming, a sort of farewell pennant left behind to tell that she was driving jauntily toward Hong Kong.
"It'll be cooler in an hour," ventured Wilkins.
"If you'll order a rig for me," said Trask, "I'll roll down to the customs house and see about my baggage."
"How about tiffin, sir?"
"Good idea. I'll have it with you. Never mind the rig now. By the way, I heard some gossip coming down. Did you ever hear of a man named Dinshaw? A sailor?"
"Looney Dinshaw? Raw-ther! He's a joke."
"How a joke?"
"Oh, the poor old blighter, he sells pictures which he paints himself. They're pictures of an island he says he was wrecked on, that's full of gold. Comes up here and sells 'em to trippers."
"But the island?" persisted Trask. "There was a Swede yarning with the skipper, but they wouldn't let me hear."
"Dinshaw's loco," said Wilkins. "Lost his ship on this island three or four years ago. It's somewhere up the north coast. He was taken off by a Jap fisher crew blown down from the Rykukus. He lost his ship right enough, and his mind with it. To hear him talk you'd think it was solid gold."
"Solid gold is what I'm hunting for when I'm working," said Trask with a smile. "I'd like to look into this business."
"There's plenty who's looked into it, sir, but they can't get anything but babble out of the old fellow. He thinks everybody wants to cheat him."
"Where can I find him?"
"In the Sailors' Home, kept by Prayerful Jones in Calle San Fernando, a charity place for sailors on the beach. I say, you're not serious?"
"Indeed I am. Not that I expect to find a solid gold island, but if it's off the coast of Luzon it might give me a lead to something up in the mountains. The Igorrotes find some gold up in the rivers and I've heard the rocks were mighty heavy. May be iron pyrites, or it may be the real thing."
"I can have him up here," suggested Wilkins. "Just drop a word over the 'phone to Prayerful Jones. Nobody need know what it's about. I'll hint he may sell a picture."
"Shoot!" said Trask. "I've got a month to kill, and some money to gamble on my own hook. I may take a flyer on it, if I can get anything definite out of this Dinshaw."
"You'll have half the waterfront on your heels if you let it out that you're taking Dinshaw to his island. Plenty would go if he'd tell 'em where it is, but they want to skin him."
"Then we'll keep it mum! Hello! Who's coming?"
He heard the rattle of hoofs and looked across the Luneta to see a victoria whirl out of Bagumbayan Drive. It was occupied by a man in a pongee suit and a young woman in white with a blue parasol which rose above the rig like a porcelain minaret.
"The Lockes!" cried Wilkins.
"Hush!" said Trask. "Don't say a word about me. I'll surprise 'em!" He picked up a copy of the Cablenews from the table and hid himself behind its ample pages.
"We'll stick right here until the next boat," he heard Locke saying as the victoria stopped. "I'd like to see somebody pry me loose from this porch."
Trask looked over the top of his paper to see Marjorie Locke, in duck skirt and linen coat, climb down from the victoria. Her hair was as yellow as her wide-brimmed "sailor" and her eyes as blue as her parasol. She was laughing gaily as she mounted the stoop.
"You missed the boat!" exclaimed Wilkins, as he came out.
"Missed it forty miles!" said Locke, taking off his floppy Bangkok hat and using a handkerchief on his face as though it were a blotter. His nose was peeled from sunburn, but his round and rubicund face fairly oozed good humour.
"Your luggage—I sent it, sir," said Wilkins.
"Hang the luggage! I'll have a soda bath right away. I've got the prickly heat so bad I feel like a human pincushion!"
"Yes, sir," said Wilkins.
"Be game, Dad! You always told me you liked the tropics."
"So I do—at home in the winter time. I believe you knew we'd miss that boat, Marge. I'm wise! You want to see where Magellan landed and where Legaspi gasped."
"I can't say you're a born tourist," said his daughter.
"Yes, I am. Just now I'd start for the North Pole. Wow! Those Spanish fellows sure liked a hot climate when they went out to take up land! Whoof! I'd give a lot for ten cubic feet of 'Frisco fog right now! Turn the blowers on in our rooms, Wilkins, and say, aim mine at the bath water. Well, look who's here! If that isn't Trask I'll——"
"Mr. Trask!" cried Miss Locke. "How jolly! Fancy meeting you!"
"Fancy meeting him!" exclaimed Locke, derisively. "It's a frameup, that's what it is, a frameup on me and my prickly heat!"
Trask climbed out from behind his paper and stood up, bowing and grinning.
"I'm sorry you missed your boat—almost," he said.
"Oh, shucks!" said Locke, taking his hand and pulling him forward. "I don't give a whoop. Marge, I'll bet forty dollars you knew that Dagupan train wouldn't catch the Taming!"
"Don't be absurd, Dad. We're so glad to meet you again, Mr. Trask. We were stupid about the train, but——"
"You'll have to excuse me," said her father, "I hear the bath going. Wilkins! Feed us tiffin till we're blue in the face," and he disappeared into the sala.
"And there isn't a boat to connect with the Pacific Mail for twenty-six days," said Trask. "I'm on a vacation."
"You know so much about Manila, too," she said. "But we may go on the Thursday boat."
"The Thursday boat?"
"If there's a Thursday boat, I'll wreck it," said Trask, and clapped his hands for the muchacho.
DINSHAW TELLS OF HIS ISLAND
"Here," said Locke, "comes Rip Van Winkle—without his dog."
"A beggar!" whispered Marjorie, looking past Trask. "Poor old man!"
Trask turned from the table, and saw at the end of the veranda an old man approaching with a package under his arm. He looked like a vagabond, in khaki trousers with the bottoms fringed by tatters through which showed his bare ankles; pitiful old cloth shoes; a patched coat of white drill with frogging across the front such as Chinese mess boys wear; and a battered, rimless straw hat. He drew near the table with weary feet, hesitatingly and dazed, as though he had lost his way, peering about like an owl thrust into the light of mid-day from a darkened belfry.
"Why, it must be Captain Dinshaw!" said Trask.
The old man stopped ten feet from the trio and lifting his head like a hound who has taken scent, gazed at them suspiciously. Then he smiled toothlessly and swung off his bowl of a hat with a grand air.
"Aye, sir," he said, in a weak but shrill voice. "Cap'n Dinshaw, late of the bark, James B. Wetherall, lost in a typhoon an' Lord ha' mercy on us!"
"This is a shame!" said Locke, in a cautious whisper to Trask, as he leaned back in his grass chair to light a cigar. "I hate to see a white man like that in this country."
"He looks hungry," said Marjorie. "Dad, call the boy!"
"It's an interesting case," said Trask. "I want you to hear him. Wilkins had him up so I could talk to him. He's got an island."
"Would the lady buy a picter?" inquired Dinshaw, with a little bow. "Hand painted by myself, out of my head, from my own recollections. A good suvverner." He began to unwrap his flat parcel.
"Come over here and sit down," said Locke, rising, and pushing forward a chair. "You ought to have something to drink and a bite to eat. Shouldn't be out in sun like this with that sort of headgear."
Dinshaw muttered a thanks, and dropped into the chair, his thin, wrinkled face drawing into a queer smile. He let the package fall across his knees, and his hat dropped from his trembling fingers. He stroked a tuft of whisker under his chin.
"I don't mind the heat, but the soup's bad," he remarked.
"Here's the boy," said Trask. "Now what's it to be?"
"Eh! Oh, Ah Wing! That boy knows me. A tot of gin with a stinger, and thank you kindly. A master should go with his ship," and he touched his sparse white hair which showed his scalp, and nodded his head, staring out over the bay as if in a reverie. The colour was bleached out of his failing eyes and they had a habit of roving about unsteadily, a quality common in old sailors and probably acquired in a lifetime of watching heaving seas.
"Bring some more of the fish, and a big cup of coffee," said Trask, as Ah Wing grinned and turned to go.
"So you sell pictures," encouraged Marjorie. "And paint them yourself!"
"Aye, ma'am. All hands lost but myself—piled up on a reef of this island. A master should go with his ship." He clutched at his parcel and began tearing off the string.
"Picters o' my island. I allus was a painter," he continued, "if I did foller the sea. Why, in my bark, the Wetherall it was, I had fancy picters on the bulkheads an' gold linin' over the white but she got in a twistin' jimmycane, such as we have in these waters. Thar's my island!"
He held up one canvas, a foot high and two feet wide, tacked over a piece of board. It was a gaudy representation of an island wrought with pathetic lack of skill. There was a conical peak at the left end smeared with a slash of purple, and over it a very red and very round sun. The land sloped away from the peak to the other end of the island, and was lost in a white streak extending seaward, the the bony finger of a skeleton, marking a reef clothed with fuzzy breakers. A rocky ledge ran down to where the reef began and a big gray stone stood up abruptly, giving the island the appearance of a bluff-bowed vessel, and under it, a triangular patch of beach. Near the rock were four palm trees. One bent over at a sharp angle, as if it had been partly uprooted, and its moppy fronds almost trailed in the still water of a pool formed by a second reef, not so clearly defined, which ran parallel with the land. Except inside this natural basin the whole shore of the island was wreathed by white rollers and behind the shore line was a fringe of vividly green jungle.
"Oh, isn't that splendid!" exclaimed Marjorie.
"It's a work o' art, that's what everybody says," remarked the old man with a show of pride.
"What do you call the island?" asked Locke.
"The name don't matter, sir. 'Dinshaw's Island' they call it hereabouts, in honour o' the fact I was wrecked on it. Blown off my course in a typhoon at night and went smash into this reef ye see here. I was washed out o' the riggin', an' when I come to I was on the beach here, wreckage all round, an' the sun shinin' bright as a whiffet, an' me all beat out an' water-logged. Right there it was," and he put his thumb on a spot near the rock.
"Is it a big island?" asked Trask.
"Not in the way ye might think. Big enough as it goes, but it ain't the size what counts," and he broke into a cackling laugh, wagging his head, as if he held the secret of a great joke.
"Where is it?" asked Locke.
"Thar's lots as would like to know, sir," said Dinshaw, gravely. "But I ain't in the way o' tellin', not until I can see my way clear to go myself."
"It is near the mainland of Luzon?" asked Trask.
Dinshaw turned quickly and peered at him suspiciously, pursing his lips.
"It is," he said, finally.
"I don't see any other land in the picture," ventured Trask, scanning the canvas with more care.
"Ye bet ye don't!" snapped Dinshaw, with sudden asperity. "I left that out so they can't find it. Lots as would like to find Dinshaw's island, young man, but I'm savin' it for myself. Jarrow said he'd take me, but he never did. He wants to go steal it himself. I know. I know. They can't fool me, if I am old."
"Steal your island?" asked Marjorie. "Why, how could anybody steal an island?"
"What's on it?" whispered Dinshaw.
"Oh, ho," said Locke. "Then there's something on it, is there? Now we're interesting! Treasure, I suppose."
"Gold on it," piped Dinshaw, with childish simplicity. "Gold enough to make us all rich. Gold enough to ballast a hundred ships!"
"Ye see that reef? Well, I lay in that bight thar, an' the sun come out. The eye o' the storm it was, and after awhile it come on to blow again, as is the custom with twisters. When the weather cleared again, I don't know how long it was, I crawled down and overhauled the flotsam. There was part of Number One boat, with a beaker o' water an' a ham from the cabin stores. Later, I found my mate, Seth Colburn. He was dead. He'd sailed with me all his life, come from down Eastport way, and a smart man he was, too, at figgers. I dug his grave with my bare hands in this patch o' sand, right there under the ridge, and it was all yaller, shinin' in the sun, as it run through my fingers. All glittery an' soft, like corn meal. That island's full o' it, I'm tellin' ye! It'll make us all rich!" His voice rose, and quavered with excitement.
Locke looked at Trask questioningly.
"Here," said Trask, passing Dinshaw the glass which the bar-boy brought. "Drink this."
"Jarrow said he'd take me," gasped Dinshaw after he had drunk.
"Who's Jarrow?" asked Trask.
"Oh, he's got a schooner," said Dinshaw.
"So your island is full of gold," said Locke, with a skeptical wink for the benefit of Trask and Marjorie. "And you sell pictures of it, eh?"
"Aye, gold. An' Seth Colburn's buried in it. He'd laugh if he knew. But Jarrow'll take me some day, an' when he does, I'll go back to Yarmouth an' build a big house, all snug an' shipshape, with a piazza like the quarter-deck of a frigate, an' a garden with petunias, an'—an'—have good soup for supper. I fed my crew better'n Prayerful Jones does, an' I tell him so every day. Them that sailed with Cap'n Dinshaw had duff twice a week with raisins in it, sir, an' Wes' Injia m'lasses."
Marjorie passed Dinshaw a plate of sandwiches and served him with a cup of coffee. Trask drew aside, and Locke followed him.
"This is right in your line," said Locke.
"I've a mind to investigate it," said Trask. "Heard some talk about it on my way down from Amoy."
"Sounds fishy to me," said Locke. "I believe he's off his head."
"That's what they say here. Wilkins was telling me about him."
"You think there's gold there?"
"Possibly. The formation of the ledge looks promising. He may have run into a deposit washed out by the sea, merely a pocket, but significant. You see, if the ledge in the picture is a continuation of a crest from the mainland, I might follow up the lead on Luzon. There is gold out here but the country hasn't been properly prospected, owing to the troubles with the natives. I'd like to look things over on my own hook. Of course the company would go in on it with me. I've always wanted to come here but my chief never thought much of it. So I'm on a vacation, and what I find for myself I'll be able to swing. If Dinshaw would split——"
"You'd get yourself into a tangle with him," said Locke. "He'd most likely go around telling folks you wanted to steal his island if you talked with him about it."
"I'll go slowly and I may get his confidence after awhile."
"Well, I wish you luck," said Locke. "I'm going to make the Thursday boat."
"I wasn't thinking of going on this trip for a couple of weeks," Trask hastened to say.
"Hong Kong for mine," said Locke.
"Dad! Come here, please," called Marjorie. "Captain Dinshaw wants to go to his island. It seems to me that you men who are looking for something to do might help him out."
"I'll give him ten pesos for one of those pictures," said Locke.
"The other for me at the same price," said Trask.
"Stingies!" cried Marjorie. "If I were a man, I'd go find his island."
"Perhaps I will," said Trask.
"None of this Count of Monte Cristo stuff for me," said Locke, as he laid down a bill before Dinshaw. "Say, captain, I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll pay your passage home first class if you'll go so that you can get back to your relatives. Now you can't say I'm a piker, Marge."
"Ten pesos!" whispered Dinshaw, staring at the bill. "Thank ye kindly, sir. I'll make ye all rich."
"But how about going home?" said Locke. "I'll fix you up with some clothes. This is no place for an old man like you."
"Home!" said Dinshaw. "I'm at the Sailors' Home."
"But you ought to be back in the States."
"I'm goin' back to my island, that's what," insisted Dinshaw. "Jarrow said he'd take me."
"Dad, you said I could go anywhere I wanted on this trip," pouted Marjorie.
"Where do you want to go, Miss Trinkets?"
"I think it would be gorgeous fun to find this island. I've never done anything romantic in my life, and I've always wanted to elope, or something. I'll run away with a drummer in a band—or something like that, if I have to go home without finding an island—a tropical island, with a wreck, too—and sailors buried on it—and gold! I'm for it, strong."
"Not so strong as I am for a touch of cool weather," laughed Locke. "That reminds me, it's time for another soda——"
But Locke disappeared into the hall, laughing, saying something about Timbuctoo and other places he would not care to visit.
"And he's finding fault about having to live in tourist hotels and listen to bored guides! And here's a chance to get off the main stamping ground, as he calls it, and help a poor old man."
"We don't like to get far from the comforts of civilization, after all," said Trask. "But I don't know of anything I'd rather do than take you and your father cruising."
"I wish there wasn't any old Thursday boat," wailed Marjorie. "We might argue him into going if we had more time."
"You've got to miss that Thursday boat," declared Trask. "We ought to be able to kidnap him or something."
"What's the name?" asked Dinshaw, rising from the table and putting on his hat.
"Locke," said Marjorie. "Mr. Locke. You come up again to-morrow and see us."
"I'll have to paint another picter," said Dinshaw.
"Here," said Trask. "You take this one with you, and bring it back to-morrow, when I'll pay you twenty pesos for it. That'll give you an excuse for coming back. And don't say a word to anybody."
"Locke," murmured Dinshaw. "Mr. Locke."
"You ought to eat some more," said Marjorie.
"Can't stop," said Dinshaw, gathering up the other picture, which he had not unwrapped. "Can't wait for the tide. I'll go see Jarrow. He said he'd take me."
"Now look here," said Trask. "Don't you say a word to anybody. Understand? Don't tell anybody!"
"I'm a clam, sir, a clam," said Dinshaw, solemnly, and blinking his eyes at the sun which assailed him from the bare Luneta, he hurried down the steps and hastened away.
"Poor old duffer," said Trask.
"We've got to help him find his island," said Marjorie. "I'll tell you what to do. Dad wants to get up to Hong Kong because there's a man at the King Edward he can beat at billiards."
"What's that got to do with it?" asked Trask, vaguely.
"You're a regular man!" she retorted. "Can't you see? Can you play billiards?"
"A little," admitted Trask.
"Come up to our rooms and have tea," she said. "Then you get Dad into a game of billiards, play as well as you can and—lose."
"A whale of an idea!" exclaimed Trask.
"And don't say anything more about the island," warned Marjorie. "Dad's stubborn, but he's easy to handle. We'll act as if we didn't care a whoop about this Dinshaw business—until we miss the Thursday boat. Then we'll give him no rest. But remember, I'm for the Thursday boat. That's just to throw him off his guard. He's a dear old Dad, but sometimes he's balky."
CAPTAIN DINSHAW PULLS A LONG BOW
Below the customs house in Manila, close to the embankment of the Pasig River, on the Binondo side, opposite Fort Santiago and the Walled City, there is an ancient adobe building thatched with nipa. Its narrow door opens on the waterfront. High and narrow windows, devoid of glass or shell, are mere slits cut through the walls. Seen from the river, they have a striking resemblance to the gun-ports of an ancient battleship.
This place is known to sailormen the world over as "The Cuartel" and probably takes its name from the fact that it was a sort of block house used by the Spanish, to hold the approaches to the river. It stands at the head of a narrow little street which twists back into the native quarter of Tondo, and affords a haven for the mixed population which labours on the Mole—coolies, seamen, Chinese mess "boys," Tagalog cargadores, Lascar serangs, stalwart Sikh watchmen from the hemp and sugar godowns, squat Germans in white suits with pencils stuck in their sun helmets and wearing amber-coloured spectacles. British clerks with cargo lists, customs brokers, barking mates with blasphemous vocabularies, Scotch mechanics with parched throats, and all the underlings who have to do with ships and their freights.
Here they all gather for their tipple and gossip, easy at friendships and quick at quarrels. They babble of things which their employers would have kept secret, their tongues limbered by drams from square-shouldered greenish bottles, Dutch as dykes, which line the shelves behind the bar.
The Cuartel is owned by a black man from Batavia who calls himself Vanderzee. His mother was a Kling. He was berth-deck cook of a gunboat, by his own report, and "Jack o' the Dust" in a river monitor up "China way." That's all anybody seems to know about him, and it is suspected that he has his own reasons for keeping a clove hitch on his tongue about himself.
There are legends about fortunes which have been made out of bits of news gleaned from conversations before the bar of the Cuartel. The lampman of a Blackpool tramp remarked over his peg of rum that his skipper liked smoked eels for breakfast and was taking on a cargo of best steaming coal for Kamrangh Bay. This knowledge enabled Togo to destroy the Baltic fleet in the Tushima Straits. And a stevedore made something like a million dollars out of a cargo of canned salmon by hearing some cockney give his theory about how the blockade could be run to Port Arthur.
Vanderzee made some of his profits out of a little room at the far end of his bar, where a man could sit hidden by tawny tapa curtains rove on a bamboo pole, and have privacy while he heard what was being said at the bar. The room had a marble-topped table and two chairs.
Two men were inside of an afternoon, playing at cribbage. One was short and heavily built, with powerful shoulders threatening to break through the seams of his white drill jacket. His black hair was clipped close to his skull, making his ears appear to stick out amazingly. He had black moustaches which grew down over his mouth, masking it. His face was brown and rough hewn. A straw hat, curled up into a grotesque shape, lay at his feet like some distorted bivalve. Its owner had an air of authority about him, even a touch of dominance in the way he scanned his cards or moved the pegs in the board. When his arm went out to the table, it moved with a ponderous steadiness. His brown and hairy hand had the slow, powerful sweep of a derrick-boom.
His companion was thin and angular, quick-eyed and nervous in his movements, as though he moved on a gear of higher speed than his opponent in the game. He crouched over the table when he shuffled the cards or played them, without lifting his elbows from the table, in the fashion of a jealous dog with a bone. He wore a blue cap with a polished black visor, tilted back on his head, giving him a rakish, devil-may-care aspect. His long and lean face, cut with wrinkles, was twisted into a sly grin, as if he thought he had the advantage of the other man.
The tapa curtains were closed. The alcove was lighted from two of the narrow windows, cut so high in the wall that they gave no view of the Mole and the street outside unless a man were to climb on a chair and get his shoulders on a level with the bamboo rafters, where the tiny lizards prowled in the dust and hunted flies.
The roar of the docks surged through dull and confused, a medley of clanking hatch-covers, complaining tackle, deep-throated protests of donkey-engines, outlandish commands from stevedores, and the yelps of high-strung little tugs bossing the lighters.
Vanderzee pottered at his books behind the bar, smoking a china pipe. His watchful eye was on his Chinese boy polishing the brasswork of the taps. The last of the noon idlers had gone, and the door leading to the Mole was shut against the hot breeze lifting from the sun's glare on the river.
Then a beam of light whipped across the floor with a shuffle of feet on the stone steps outside. Captain Dinshaw tottered in, gasping for breath and shaking with excitement.
"Van!" he cried, weakly, making for the bar. "I'm rich!"
The black man grunted, and put his pipe in his mouth, staring past Dinshaw at the door as if he expected to see a pursuing party burst in and attack the old man, who seemed spent from running.
"Who's der drouble?" he growled. "For v'y you roon?"
"I've hauled the wind!" cried Dinshaw, dropping his parcel on the bar, and throwing up his hands in a gesture of wild delight.
"My luck's turned! I'm a rich man, I tell ye!"
"Vell," remarked Vanderzee with stolid calm. "If you puy a monkey in some oder blaces, don'd pring him here to me. You vant me droubles to haff der bolice mit, hey? A few trinks you get, der sun your het in, und—dronk der Cuartel in und my license I loose maype."
"I'll make ye rich!" persisted Dinshaw, in his high-pitched, quivering voice, and giving no heed to the admonitions of the black man and not in the least disconcerted by the lack of welcome. "I'm goin' to my island!"
"Der more kvicker, der more petter," said Vanderzee, and humped his shoulders up with a convulsive shrug. "Maype you prink it back und anchor it off der lighthouse, hey?"
"Jarrow'll take me in the Nuestra," continued Dinshaw, now as if talking to himself. "I'll be rich and have good soup for supper. I've got the tide this time, an' no mistake. It's turned for me, as I allus said it would, and Jarrow'll head out for my island. I tell ye, man, it's all settled. Have ye seen Jarrow?"
"Charrow petter nod see you. Crassy you iss."
"He'll want to see me, an' don't forget," said Dinshaw, wagging his head. "Jarrow's the man for me and——"
The tapa curtains were thrust aside violently, and the short, squat man with clipped hair stood between them, glowering, one hand gripped into a fist, and the other holding the swaying fabric.
"What's this of me and the Nuestra?" he roared. His moustaches puffed out at each word, and his jaw lifted to a pugnacious angle as he threw back his head. He screwed up his eyes into a sort of malevolent grin which did not extend below the bridge of his nose.
Dinshaw blinked at him for a minute, taken aback by the picture of this man, who seemed about to charge into the room after him.
"You said you'd go," said Dinshaw.
"You lay off this blasted chin-chin about me and my schooner!" raged Jarrow. "I've heard enough of it!"
"But I'm in soundin's, cap'n. We're bound out in the Nuestra for the island! We're goin——"
"Git out!" snapped Jarrow, and clumping out into the room, lifted a hairy fist at the old man. But Dinshaw held his ground, and as Vanderzee cried out to take care, the captain merely pushed the old man back with a snort of rage.
"But it's all settled, I tell ye!" insisted Dinshaw. "Hard and fast. We're to go——"
"Then go!" snarled Jarrow. "Go jump off the Mole, and give me some rest and quiet. I got other things to 'tend to. How'm I to git a charter for the Nuestra, with you and yer slack jaw runnin' wild up and down the waterfront tellin' all hands and the ship's cook I'm goin' to yer blasted island in my schooner? Hop in the river, but keep clear o' me and mine! Won't have it from ye!"
"Der sun his het in," said Vanderzee, with a significant nod toward Dinshaw. He wanted to avoid trouble. "He iss crassy."
The tall, thin man now parted the curtains and came out, his long legs moving stiffly across the floor. He glanced at Dinshaw with a sneering, wicked eye and sniffed contemptuously. He gave the twisted straw hat to Jarrow, who pulled it open and clamped it over his clipped skull. They both turned to the bar.
"Ye said ye'd go," piped Dinshaw. "Ye allus said ye'd take me, an' now's the chance. I ain't goin' to stay with Prayerful Jones no more. I'm goin to pack my dunnage an' take it aboard the Nuestra."
"There ye go!" cried Jarrow, swinging toward him, and extending a brawny arm wrathfully. "Ye make fast to me like a devilfish! That's the tune ye've been singin' for years! 'Said ye'd go!' Same old story! Why, I——"
He paused, as if at a loss for words to express his disgust, and pulled a cigar from his pocket. He bit the end from it with a twisting motion of his head. The tall man sighed wearily.
"Ach!" said Vanderzee. "No harm. Who iss to giff mind to vat he say? He iss crassy."
"There's a-plenty to give mind to it," snarled Jarrow. "Didn't I lose a charter last dry season to bring wood from Mindoro? What with this booby-bird goin' round Manila with word I'm to take the Nuestra to his fool island, who's to want my boat? Here I am now, lookin' to sign up a gover'ment hay charter, and he'll put me high and dry if this word is passed along again. I won't have it. I'll see the police."
"Can't ye let me tell——?" began Dinshaw.
"Come along of me, Peth," said Jarrow. The angular man, who had arranged the upper part of his body in such manner that the bar afforded possibilities for rest, unfolded himself and moved toward his companion.
"I'll make ye all rich," wailed Dinshaw.
"You'll cost me a pretty penny, that's what!" exploded Jarrow, turning back from the door. "I never said I'd take ye, and ye can git that out of yer fool head! Here I am, kickin' my heels around port and my schooner feedin' barnacles off the breakwater, all 'cause ye've got somethin' chafin' yer top-hamper. I won't stand for it no more."
"But I got a man to take us," pleaded Dinshaw, going after him. "A man said he'd charter the Nuestra and we'd all go. Two men and a lady it was, up at the——"
"Oh, I've heard enough of yer cock-and-bull yarns," retorted Jarrow, who was not averse to freeing his mind on Dinshaw. "What the devil do ye want to make fast to me fer! I don't want ye traversin' round charterin' my schooner and me. Makin' jokes for the loafers up on the canal. Ye done that once before, and ye'll do it again. I'll have the police on ye! It's about time Prayerful Jones was shut of lettin' loose his bums and lunatics on us folks with property."
"No harm," said Vanderzee, soothingly.
"I say it is harm! I'm hailed whurever I go about this business of the old un's island, Van! Just 'cause I've got a schooner, it's Jarrow, Jarrow, Jarrow! I'd look fine and smart cruisin' round for a P. D. island, wouldn't I? Now tell me that?"
"It's a lie!" cried Dinshaw. "Them geodetic youngsters didn't look for my island, an' what's more, they wouldn't know it if they found it. That's why they come back with a 'Position Doubtful' report. Think I'm goin' to let them young whippersnappers know about my island so they can find it? Find it! I can find it with a bone quadrant and——"
"Find Tophet!" yelled Jarrow, and turned to the door.
"Look here!" shouted Dinshaw, reaching into his pocket and fishing out the bill he got from Locke for his picture. "I can prove it! Here's money, planked down, and more where it comes from. I'm to go, I tell ye, an' if ye don't want none of it, I'll see Hood about a boat. I thought ye was a friend of mine, Jarrow, so I come to ye. This man I got could buy your old schooner and a hundred like her, an' never miss the money. He asked for a boat and I said Jarrow, an' when the young lady asked who's to skipper it, I said Jarrow's the man, an' Peth for mate, an' he sung out for me to bring ye up to the tavern an' sign the charter. I'll say no more—I'll see Hood."
"What's this?" demanded Jarrow, turning back to stare at the bill. Vanderzee leaned over the bar, and Peth craned his neck forward, maintaining his eternal grin. They had never seen Dinshaw with so much wealth before.
"Money!" piped Dinshaw, triumphantly.
"Has he gone plumb loco?" asked Jarrow, looking at Vanderzee.
"Dot money ain'd crassy," said the black man.
"Where'd ye git it?" asked Jarrow, reluctantly gentle.
"A rich man at the Bay View—with a young lady and a young man in a helmet. I told 'em about the Wetherall and they give me this money to buy clothes, and sent me on the run for you. They want to go to the Golden Isle. I better see what Hood's got for charter."
"You better stay right here," said Jarrow, pushing Dinshaw back toward the bar. "I'm goin' to look into this."
"I'll see Hood," persisted Dinshaw.
"Luff!" commanded Jarrow, holding out his arms to head Dinshaw off from the door. "You'll see me! You've been usin' me and my schooner long enough, and if there's anything in this yarn of yours, it's mine. Who's this man?"
"He's a rich man, and he'll take us," said Dinshaw.
"I'd believe ye sooner if ye said ye saw pink elephants," said Jarrow. "Git down to cases. What's his name?"
"Money talks," suggested Vanderzee.
"Moonshine!" declared Peth.
"His name's Locke," said Dinshaw. "Will ye go, Jarrow? I'll make ye all rich."
"Now what did this Locke man say?" demanded Jarrow. "I don't want any ravin's. I want facts, straight out, so you come up into the wind. What'd he say?"
"He said to look sharp about it," said Dinshaw, blinking at Jarrow, a trifle confused at being questioned. "Stores and crew—right away, and be ready to sail in a day's time. We don't want no soldierin' on the job. It's to be up hook and away and look lively. You'll have to move navy style, Jarrow. You know me."
"Thinks I'm foremast in his brig," said Jarrow, with a leer at Vanderzee.
"You better cut over across the river," said Dinshaw, "and tell him you're ready and you'll have the Nuestra alongside the Mole by dark to take on stores, or he'll have another boat. He said somethin' about knowin' a man out here who had a yacht, comin' down from Japan."
"Smoke," said Peth.
"I wonder," remarked Jarrow, scratching his head. "Sure ye didn't lift that ten-peso bill from Prayerful Jones? I'll be bugs myself if I listen to you."
"Hood'll listen," said Dinshaw, crisply, and made a new effort to reach the door.
"Vhy don'd you to der Pay Few go?" suggested Vanderzee.
Jarrow looked at himself. "I'd have to shift my duds," he said, "and I ain't for huntin' sharks' eggs on Looney's say. What ye think, Peth? Shall we fill up that way?"
"I ain't no hand for them swells," said Peth. "You go, cap'n, an' I'll stand by down here with Dinshaw."
"Vait!" said Vanderzee, holding up a black hand. "Vot's der name? Locke!" He stepped into a tiny office behind the bar. They heard him asking the clerk at the Bay View if there was a man named Locke staying there. In an instant he was back again, grinning.
"Iss!" he exclaimed. "So soon I know, I hang opp."
"Well," said Jarrow, who was still in doubt as to what he should do, "that's somethin' to know. Maybe some rich tourist did fall for Looney's yarn."
Peth went back to the bar and leaned against it as if he had made up his mind not to move until Jarrow reached some decision.
"By the Mighty Nelson, I've got a twist in my chains to take a run over to the hotel!"
"Shoot," said Peth, displaying more interest than he had at any time since Dinshaw had arrived.
"Come along, Peth," said Jarrow. "I'll git into some fresh duds, and you brail yerself up to look smart, and we'll drift over in a carromata. Will you wait here, Dinshaw?"
"I'll wait, Jarrow, I'll wait. Tell him I sent ye, and he'll know. It's all settled right enough if you lay alongside and make fast, and no time lost."
"See that he don't git away," Jarrow whispered to Vanderzee. "I can't take no chances with this—and keep him quiet—in there."
Pointing to the alcove, Jarrow slipped out through the door, followed by Peth, close at heel, like a well-trained dog behind his master.
"It's this way," said Jarrow, as they made their way between the bales and barrels among the workers on the Mole. "Maybe Looney give 'em hot shot about this island and they're keen to go, thinkin' there's bunches of gold there, which I know ain't so. But it don't matter if we git a charter at fifty a day or so, and drag it out into a couple of weeks."
"We'll want our own crew," suggested Peth.
"Bevins," said Jarrow.
"Shope," said Peth.
"And Doc Bird for steward, and Shanghai Tom ships as cook."
"Right. Ye leave it to me, and if there's anything in it, I'll have all hands come dark."
"I ain't hatchin' no chickens on what Looney said," cautioned Jarrow, "but if there's a man who's lit up on Looney's island-o'-gold yarn, it ain't my way to throw sand in his eyes. And if we do find gold that's two tails to the cat. We'll take things as they lay."
CAPTAIN JARROW GOES CRUISING IN STRANGE WATERS
Captain Jarrow and Mr. Peth were driven across the Bridge of Spain and up Bagumbayan Drive past the Walled City in a carromata, and disembarked from the native rig at the edge of the Luneta, whence they proceeded to the Bay View Hotel.
Jarrow wore a new white suit, squeaky French shoes of yellow hue, and an aura of perfumed soap. Mr. Peth felt uncomfortably respectable in blue serge and a shirt with a starched collar.
"I might ha' stayed back," grumbled Peth, as they mounted the stoop of the deserted veranda.
"You lay a course for the bar while I brace the gent at the office," said Jarrow. "Don't have nothin' to say."
Mr. Peth measured the veranda with his long legs and disappeared into the bar, while Jarrow squeaked his way into the palms and velvet grandeur of the sala, waving away the boy who came to inquire about his baggage.
"Yes, sir," said Wilkins, rising from behind the railed desk.
"You got a man here named Locke," asserted Jarrow, seizing the railing as if to brace himself against a shock.
"Right-o," said Wilkins. "Name, please?" He reached for the room telephone.
Jarrow was taken aback at the thought of being so abruptly thrust before a stranger he could not see. He had no plan for a telephone conversation as preliminary to a meeting and was averse to having his name bandied about by the clerk.
"You can say," he suggested, "it's a friend of Captain Dinshaw's, who's come to have a word with him—strictly private."
Wilkins pressed a button, and after a few seconds announced: "Mr. Locke, there's a gentleman here to see you from Captain Dinshaw. He wants to speak to you privately."
"Put him on the wire," said Locke. "Hello! I guess you've got the wrong party."
"No, sir," said Jarrow. "I was sent to see you. I'm from Captain Dinshaw."
"Don't know him," said Locke. "What's it about?"
"The island," said Jarrow, still cautious.
"Island! Oh, yes, the old fellow with the picture. All right, come on up."
Jarrow was soon before the door of the Lockes' suite and was ushered into a room which overlooked the bay, the windows open and the awnings down. He saw a young woman seated before a small table covered with tea things, and a tall young man standing near by. Mr. Locke stood just inside the door, but what warmed Jarrow's heart and bolstered his courage was a picture of Dinshaw's island which lay on a divan. There was the proof that the old captain had talked with these people.
Locke regarded his visitor with a puzzled air, but concealed his surprise. The stranger seemed to him to be strangely furtive and sinister, standing in the half-light, ears twitching, a clipped skull thrust forward on a short neck like the head of a turtle pushing out from a shell.
"I didn't get your name, sir," said Locke, in a friendly way, to save his guest embarrassment.
"Jarrow's my name. I got a wreckin' business. You ask anybody in Manila about me."
"And you say Dinshaw sent you?"
"Yes, sir. I take it you've had a talk with him."
"So I have."
"Then it's all right. Understand he mentioned me."
"You are Captain Jarrow? And you have a schooner?" asked Trask.
"Jarrow!" exclaimed Marjorie. "Of course! Don't you remember, Dad? Captain Dinshaw told us about Captain Jarrow."
"Oh, yes, yes," said Locke. "You're the man he said would go to his island. This is my daughter, Miss Marjorie—and Mr. Trask."
Jarrow ducked his head. Locke had introduced the others more for the purpose of gaining time to study this hulking, limp-kneed man who stood before him like a gorilla crouched for a spring and squeezing a soft straw hat into a shapeless lump in his hands.
"Won't you sit down?" asked Locke, and took his hat. Jarrow allowed himself to sink carefully into a gold-backed chair of doubtful strength and capacity.
"Perhaps you'll take a cup of tea," suggested Marjorie.
"No, thanks, ma'am. I don't eat nothin' much between meals. See you've been buyin' some of the old cap'n's pictures. He's a oddity, but there's gold on that island of his, right enough."
"Think so?" asked Trask.
"Know so. Scads of it. He brung back samples in his pockets. I've told him time and time again I'd go to his island, and what's more, I would ha', only I don't own all my schooner. It's been busy up to now with gover'ment work—hay for the cavalry posts down south. But now I'm ready, and if I can arrange a charter, I'll cut the rate to the bone, just to help Dinshaw—say sixty-five a day, gold." He looked at Locke inquiringly.
"I don't know much about such things," said Locke, vaguely.
"Well, a hundred a day is the usual rate," went on Jarrow, "but I'll make it special just to help the old man."
"I hope you're well repaid," said Locke. "If there is gold——"
"Gold!" exclaimed Jarrow. "Mr. Locke, ye're in on a good thing, if you'll let me say a word about it."
"I'm a little bit mixed up on this thing," said Locke, with an amused smile at Trask. "You know more about the proposition than I do, captain. Of course, Captain Dinshaw talked with Mr. Trask——"
"I hope I ain't put my foot in anything," broke in Jarrow. "I thought from what Dinshaw said Mr. Trask here knew all about it."
"Mr. Trask knows as much about it as I do, and more," said Locke. "Say whatever you like."
"Then it's all right," said Jarrow, obviously relieved. "'Tain't a piece of business I'd want to tell Tom, Dick, and Harry, if I had the weather on it like you have. I'm above board in my dealin's. You ask anybody in Manila about Captain Jarrow, the wrecker. But I thought for a minute I'd let the cat out of the bag."
"No damage done," said Locke. "As I understand it, you intend to go to this island of Dinshaw's."
"We're so glad to hear it, Captain Jarrow," said Marjorie. "It will surely make the old man happy."
"Thank ye, ma'am. I want to kind o' apologize for jammin' myself in like this, but I'm a frank man."
Jarrow paused, and throwing one foot over a knee, stroked the seams of his new French shoes with the tips of his fingers.
"Of course," he resumed, "Captain Dinshaw and me, we're thick as three in a bed. Ask anybody in Manila if I ain't been doin' my best to go to his island. I've offered to take him to his island, time and time again, but he wouldn't hear it, 'cause he knew I was makin' money with the Nuestra—that's my schooner, the Nuestra Senora del Rosario—me and Peth, my mate, we own it with others. In the wreckin' business it's touch and go. You got to be on the spot, and there ain't been any too many wrecks out this way lately. Let me go away for a week or two on this island business, and I'd likely lose somethin' good. But with somebody to kind o' go in on the deal, I'd split even at sixty-five dollars a day. I'd be some out of pocket, if there wa'n't much gold there, but I look for findin' it in a big way. It's a open and shut proposition."
"It sounds interesting," said Locke, getting more puzzled as to why Jarrow should call on him to take him into his confidence regarding plans about Dinshaw's island.
"There's big money in it," said Jarrow.
"May I ask why you think so, Captain Jarrow?" inquired Trask.
Jarrow turned to Trask in surprise. The question was appallingly direct, and Trask's tone was crisp and business-like.
"I know it," said Jarrow, uncomfortably aware of being pinned down to definite information.
"But I don't understand why you should take the trouble to tell us about your proposed trip," said Locke.
"How?" Jarrow's head snapped up suddenly and his eyes opened in a wide stare at Locke.
"What is the purpose of this interview?" demanded Locke. "There seems to be some sort of mistake."
Jarrow put his foot down slowly and sucked his moustache in between his lips. His ears twitched and his head ducked forward as he made a swallowing movement with his throat.
"How's that again?" he whispered, as if he had lost his voice.
"From what you've said, captain, I gather you believe I have something to do with the matter of the island."
Jarrow blew his moustache and gave a suppressed sigh of agony.
"Why—why, Dinshaw—he told me you wanted me and my schooner to go to his island!"
Trask laughed outright in spite of his effort to keep still, and Marjorie gave an exclamation of amazement. Locke could only stare at Jarrow.
"Told you I wanted your schooner! He certainly is crazy! Most absurd thing I ever heard of!"
"Mr. Peth, my mate, he's below now," said Jarrow.
"Then you are going?" asked Trask.
"Am I goin'?" retorted Jarrow. "No! I can't go on my own hook. I thought you folks was goin'—that's what I'm here for."
"It's all a mistake," said Locke. "We had no intention of misleading the old man."
"It will be a terrible disappointment to him," said Marjorie. "It's a ghastly mistake if poor old Captain Dinshaw really believes we told him we'd go."
"We bought his picture out of charity," said Locke. "Mr. Trask here is a mining man, and was interested in his story, but we haven't any more idea of going to this gold island than we have of going to the moon. My daughter and I are leaving the day after to-morrow for Hong Kong to connect with the Pacific Mail. We were going this morning, but missed the Taming."
"This'll just about kill old man Dinshaw," said Jarrow.
"He's so pathetic," said Marjorie. "I'm sorry if we've done anything to disappoint him. I'll always feel guilty about it. Just what did he say, Captain Jarrow?"
"Why, ma'am, he comes runnin' down to the Cuartel not an hour ago, all excited up about you people. 'Jarrow,' he says to me, 'I've got a party who'll go to my island if they can git your schooner—and yours is the only one to be had for love or money. I know you'll lose on it, seein's you got a new gover'ment hay charter comin' your way, but can't you strain a p'int for an old friend? If you don't stand by me, the chance is gone.'
"'Cap'n Dinshaw,' says I to him, 'I'll stand by if I can be any help, lose money or no. If me and my schooner's what you need, why, she's lyin' off the breakwater, and I'm your man.' And Peth, my mate, he speaks up, and says to him: 'Dinny, don't you fret none, but leave it to Jarrow. He's the man to tie to if ye need help.'
"So we lays a course for up here. When he hears of this, it'll just about kill him dead, sure. Happened the same way once before, and he was laid up in the Civil Hospital for a month with brain fever. He ain't as strong now as he was then, neither. If I had the capital, I'd go in on my own, but I'm up to my ears in debt, and as I said, I'd just about split even at sixty-five dollars a day. But I can't go it alone. The old man he'll just fade away and die, if you don't mind my puttin' in my oar about it. When he gits these idees about somebody goin' to his island, and then it falls through, he moans and moans——"
"Oh, Dad, I wish something could be done!" cried Marjorie. "I'll never forgive myself if we go away from here and leave that old man grieving!" She looked at Trask and caught a twinkle in his eye.
"Well, I'll send him back to the States if you feel that way about it," said Locke.
"He won't go," said Jarrow. "We've all tried to send him home. I offered to buy his ticket some time back, but he's got this island on the brain."
"Where is the island?" asked Trask. "I understand it isn't far."
"Oh, up the coast a piece," said Jarrow. "Take a week, say, to go and come back."
"A week!" said Locke. "I had an idea it was a long way off."
"Shucks!" said Jarrow. "No great shakes of a ways. With favourin' winds, a week would do it easy. Of course, if a man wanted to spend a lot of time there, diggin' around, that's a cat of another colour. But with a couple of days to look the place over in good shape, ten days would do it easy."
"Dad, why can't we go?" asked Marjorie. "Just to make Dinshaw happy! You said I might go any place I wanted to on this trip."
"You mean to tell me you want to go schoonering around out in this country, Marge?" Locke was astounded.
"It would be great fun."
"Great guns!" said Locke. "Don't you know a schooner isn't what a liner is? You can't have suites and stewards and fancy things to eat."
"You'll find it comfortable enough on the Nuestra," said Jarrow, his hopes rising. "A good Chink cook, a coloured steward, all hands a room to theirselves. All Cap'n Dinshaw needs is a mouthful of sea-air an' a deck under his feet. There's a whallopin' lot of gold there, too, or I miss stays. I know nobody believes him, but they didn't believe Columbus. I can't guarantee——"
"I'll go," said Trask, "if we can make the right sort of a deal."
"If you go, I'm in on it," declared Locke.
"Oh, Dad, you're a brick! I knew you'd go!"
Trask took Locke aside, to confer privately. "I want you to come, Mr. Locke," he said, "but I don't want to have you stand an expense which may be a dead loss——"
"I won't go unless I can stand half," said Locke.
"Very well, but I'd rather not appear in the matter as the leader, because if I did, the newspapers would find out who I am and make it appear that my company was backing Dinshaw. I haven't authority to go on this trip, and if it turned out badly, a failure would be credited against the Consolidated, and it's a very conservative company. Here's a thousand dollars. Will you draw checks against it at your bank? And I'll go as your guest?"
"Certainly," said Locke. "I have an account current at the Chinese bank, which was to be transferred to Hong Kong, but I'll hold it here."
"All right. You give Jarrow a check as an advance and to buy supplies. We'll close the deal right now."
JARROW DOES AND SAYS QUEER THINGS
Mr. Peth was slinking about the bar like a leopard on a still hunt when Captain Jarrow returned from his conference which resulted in a tentative charter of the Nuestra Senora del Rosario, with himself as master and Peth as mate.
Jarrow was in a state bordering between exhaltation at his success and collapse over the narrow margin by which he had put through a deal which at one time appeared as elusive as a chimera.
"Give me a Picon, and make it strong," said Jarrow to the bar-boy, disregarding Peth, while he scrubbed his face with a handkerchief.
"Hook up?" asked Peth, edging along the bar until he had an elbow against Jarrow's side.
"Mighty Nelson!" whispered Jarrow. "It was a lee shore, and no mistake. Looney lied."
"Lied!" whispered Peth.
"They never told him they wanted us," continued Jarrow, with due caution, glancing about the deserted bar. "But I put it through. They're swells and no mistake."
"Then it's a go, skipper?"
"We get out in the morning. It's to be quiet. We clear for Vigan with passengers. Take rock ballast this afternoon, and git stores aboard. Locke give me free rein for everything needed, and I'm to draw on him at the Hong Kong-Shanghai bank. We ought to clean up. Pipe down, here's the dude clerk."
"You saw Mr. Locke?" asked Wilkins, with a genial air, as he came in from the office, consumed with curiosity.
"Oh, yes," said Jarrow. "He's a nice man."
"Raw-ther," said Wilkins.
"I hear he's rich," said Jarrow.
Wilkins smiled knowingly. "Millions," he said.
Peth looked at Jarrow quickly, and whistled faintly through his teeth.
"I guess you know me," said Jarrow. "I been up here a few times now and then on business."
"You're a Manila man, aren't you?" asked Wilkins. "I don't place your name but your face is familiar."
"I'm Captain Jarrow, head of the Inter-Island Wreckin' Company. I got a big business, in a way. Everybody knows me in my line. I'm the man who done the divin' for the gover'ment."
"Oh, yes," said Wilkins.
"I'd like for you to say a good word for me, if it falls your way, to this Mr. Locke—and Trask."
"Sure," said Wilkins.
"Who does this Mr. Trask happen to be?" asked Jarrow.
"Mining man," said Wilkins.
"Yes, he was talking with Looney Dinshaw. Seems he came out here from China to look after the island. I knew him down in Colombo, when I managed a hotel."
"Lookin' for the island!" exclaimed Jarrow. "That's news to me."
"I thought maybe that's why you called," said Wilkins.
"Well, maybe I didn't and maybe I did. I have to keep a closed mouth. But if you'll say a word for me to these people—reliable and all that—I may put somethin' your way sometime."
"I'll have a gin," said Peth.
"Glad to do what I can, sir," said Wilkins. "Support home industry, that's always been my motto. If I'm asked, I'll say the right sort of thing."
"Good for you," said Jarrow. "This is Mr. Peth, my mate. We got to slide," and waving his hand at Wilkins, Jarrow walked toward the veranda while Peth gulped his gin and trailed after him with alacrity.
The mate overtook the captain as the latter headed across the Luneta toward Malecon Drive, where the great king palms offered shade from the blinding sunlight.
Jarrow marched along, with head down, staring at the gravel. He gave no heed to Peth, who overtook him and fell in beside him.
"Millions," said Peth, presently.
"You ain't got the brains of a goose, Peth."
"What's the row?" demanded Peth.
"Can't you hear millions spoke of without actin' like a blasted whistlin' buoy?" demanded Jarrow, savagely.
"I was took aback," said Peth.
"Took aback! This ain't no business for a man who's got to blow off steam in public the minute he sniffs somethin' good! Things like that might bust up the whole business—and sixty a day in it!"
"I don't see what I done, skipper," whined Peth.
"You done enough. Couldn't you see what I was drivin' at? You ain't got half an eye. That dude clerk, he can fix us solid with them people. What if he got an idea we was out to make money off 'em? This Locke'll go askin' that feller, so I had to prime him. Lucky he didn't notice your fidgets when he spoke of millions."
"You go make a mountain out of it," said Peth, as they turned into the Malecon and proceeded toward the river.
"Peth, you better not cross the bows of these people till we're ready for sea."
Peth turned his sharp face toward the captain and looked down on him with searching eyes, a trifle startled. He turned away and spat viciously. "I won't bite 'em," he growled.
"They might bite you. We can't reckon on what these swells'll cotton to in a deal like this."
"Aint I big enough dude?"
"You ain't got no diplomacy."
Peth gritted his teeth gently. "Don't ye want me for mate?" he demanded, with a poor attempt to conceal his wrath.
"What's the matter of you?" asked Jarrow, looking at him in surprise.
"You that's sayin' it. You talk like I'm a horned toad or somethin', to set folks on the run the minute they clap eyes on me."
"Have sense," cautioned Jarrow. "We got a lot to do come sundown. Have sense. I'm the brain's, ain't I?"
"So you say, cap'n."
"I got my own meanin's. What if this Trask and the girl come down aboard this evenin' to look things over, and they don't like your looks first off?"
"What's my looks got to do with it? Ain't I dressed up?"
"Yes, good enough for me, but maybe not for them. They'll put a hole in our copper plates, charter or no charter, if they take a dislike to you. We can't take no chances."
"Might as well see me first as last."
"Oh, no. Plenty of reasons for 'em comin' about on the whole business and leavin' us high and dry, except for the advance. They hop aboard a liner—what then?"
"Got to see me some time."
"Sure! Once to sea, they'll take things as they find 'em. But it's touch and go with us until we clear the bay, and don't forget that for a minute."
"What they want? Sody water gents for a crew?"
"Whatever they want, they'll have it, them swells."
"Then I ain't gallant enough for the likes o' you and this charter party, I take it," said Peth, his anger rising.
"I ain't findin' no fault with you myself, Peth. All I'm gallied about is what the others'll think. You're goin' mate, of course——"
"Thanks," said Peth, curtly. "You talk like I was ship's boy, not owner of an eighth of the Nuestra. Who helped you salve her? Who like to broke his back doin' of it? Peth did, that's who. Now he ain't good enough, once ye make fast to a millionaire."
"You talk like an old mitten with the thumb brailed up," said Jarrow.
"Where was this millionaire feller when ye wanted a man to stand by and raise the Nuestra, I'd like——?"
"Belay that!" said Jarrow. "I'm talkin' for yer own good. There's money in this cruise for both of us. I got my own reasons, and that's enough. I'd look smart cuttin' you out of things, wouldn't I?"
"Well, all I can say, cap'n, ye don't need to take me mate if ye don't want to."
"Steady as she goes," said Jarrow, taking him by his arm. "You're mate, and I never had it my mind ye wouldn't go mate."
"All right, all right," growled Peth, shaking himself free. "I ain't goin' to fuss none. I don't want to be gammin' around with swells, no ways. But if I thought ye wanted to beach me——"
"Oh, git that out of yer head. You've got to git the crew together and I got to see Prayerful Jones afore Dinshaw gits back. Then I'll git the old man aboard and keep his jaw close to the wind. We got to run this thing on some basis. You'll find Doc Bird cookin' in a civilian mess out Malate way. We got to have him."
"Will Doc cut loose from a shore berth for what looks like a v'yage to Vigan?"
"He'll cut loose from anything if he knows I want him," said Jarrow, in a tone significant of no doubts about the matter. "He's to be aboard in the mornin'—to-night would be better. When we git our ballast we'll lay out in the stream again. It's safer from talk."
"From folks nosin' around. We can't have none of the crew hangin' 'longshore, ginnin' up. I'll fix the clearance myself, and see the commissioner."
"But I'm to have who I want for'ard," said Peth.
"That's it. You know who we want."
They hailed a banca and were rowed across the river, making a landing over a tier of cascos.
"I'll go over to the Cuartel and pass the word for the men and do a little lookin' myself," said Peth.
"Keep Dinshaw there half an hour," suggested Jarrow.
Peth looked at him suspiciously.
"What's the game?"
"Never mind me or the game."
"I seem to be kind o' out on the aidge o' things," growled the mate.
"You keep Dinshaw from shootin' off his face, that's all you got to do, and don't let Van know how things swung at the Bay View. I'm goin' to keep this business under gratin's."
"You don't need to fret," said Peth. "I ain't fixin' to break nothin' out," and he tracked away to the Cuartel, weaving in and out among the litter of goods on the Mole.
Jarrow stood and watched him disappear into the Cuartel. "I ain't never had no luck with him," he remarked. "I hope he breaks his fool neck, that's what I hope. He'll mess things up for me yit."
MR. PETH IS PARTICULAR ABOUT WHERE HE SLEEPS
Early in the morning, when Manila was turning over for another nap, a victoria from the Bay View took Locke, Trask, and Marjorie over the Bridge of Spain and through Plaza Moraga to the landing steps, where the tug which was to take the Nuestra Senora del Rosario to sea was waiting to put the voyagers aboard the schooner. The Nuestra was at anchor down the bay.
As they got out of the carriage a black man hopped ashore from the tug and made for their baggage.
"I'm Doc Bird, the steward," he said. "I reckon yo' all is fo' Cap'n Jarrow's packet?"
"We are," said Locke. "Is everything ready?"
"Never gon' be no readier, sir," said the steward, who looked smart in a suit of white and a jaunty cap. Instead of a shirt, he wore a gaudy cotton sweater with stripes running athwart his body, red and blue, after the manner of a convict's clothes.
"Then we're off," said Locke, as he helped Marjorie aboard, while Trask superintended the job of getting their bags aboard, at which task the native crew of the tug assisted the steward.
In a minute they were heading down the river. As they cleared the old transport docks they made out the Nuestra well off the breakwater, her brown, bare masts rising like spires from her black hull, and the morning sun glinting from a strip of brass on her taffrail. They could see busy figures aboard, and as they drew nearer Captain Jarrow appeared on the poop-deck smoking a cigar. He was all in white, his queer cockle-shell straw hat fastened to a button of his coat by a cord.
They had visited the schooner the night before, under the pilotage of Jarrow, before Locke had signed the agreement which was practically a charter, at sixty dollars a day. She had six rooms in her main cabin in addition to the galley and lazarette, and while they were small, they were comfortable enough and satisfactory.
No one was aboard during the brief visit, but Mr. Bevins, the second mate, and one man of the crew. Bevins's manners were ingratiating and he wore a constant smile, due more to some defect of his facial muscles than chronic geniality. The other man was a big fellow with much tattooing on his hands and wrists. Captain Jarrow summoned him to the cabin door and introduced him as "Shope, who was to go b'sun."
"There's Captain Dinshaw!" cried Marjorie, as the patron steered the tug to come alongside.
Dinshaw had popped up over the starboard bulwark, and watched the tug maneuver with critical eye.
"And all dressed up," said Trask, smiling, as he observed that Dinshaw wore a white suit and sported an official-looking cap with a white top.
"The old man shore thinks he's the skipper," remarked Doc Bird.
"How's that?" asked Locke.
"He's a-bossin' everybody," replied the steward. "Thinks he's in his old brig what he lost on his island."
"The old dear!" said Marjorie. "Isn't he pathetic? He looks thoroughly happy!"
Dinshaw stood with his hands on the bulwark, and looked down at the tug, his head askew like an observant fowl.
"Don't scratch the paint!" he shouted to the patron of the tug. "Mind what ye're at!"
"Paint!" laughed Locke. "Couldn't hurt that paint with a crowbar."
"Glad to see ye in good time, Mr. Locke," called Jarrow, and then stepped back to escape the smoke from the tug's funnel, calling to Peth to see that the ladder was put over.
After a deal of fussing and bawling on the part of the tug's crew, she was nestled alongside the schooner, and Jarrow was at the rail to assist them over the side.
"I told ye I'd go," said Dinshaw, proudly, taking off his cap to Marjorie as she jumped down to the deck. "This lady knows, and she wanted to go to my island. Thank ye, ma'am! Good mornin'."
"Indeed I do want to go," laughed Marjorie. "And I hope we'll find your island, too, captain."
"Thank ye, ma'am. We'll find it right enough," and with a hasty bow he waddled forward importantly, to oversee the getting of the anchor and the passing of the towing hawser.
But the tug remained alongside after Locke and Trask had climbed over into the waist and the baggage was transferred by Doc Bird.
"Oh," said Jarrow, as the patron mounted the ladder and grinned at them, hat in hand, "this boy wants his towage."
"How much?" asked Locke, taking out a large roll of yellow American bills.
"I'd give him a check," advised Jarrow, "if you've got your book."
"All right," said Locke, and he followed Jarrow into the cabin while Trask and Marjorie went to the poop-deck. The Nuestra looked clean as a pin and fresh as a maker's model. Her decks had been scrubbed until the caulking in the seams looked like lines of black paint on old ivory. Her standing rigging had been newly tarred, her bright work polished, and the water casks lashed in the waist had their hoops painted a bright yellow, not yet dry. New hemp hung in the belaying pins. The roof of the cabin, covered by a tarpaulin, gleamed with oil and yellow paint. She had been scrubbed and freshened until she had quite the aspect of a yacht.
"This beats waiting around Hong Kong," said Marjorie, as they stood looking forward. She looked quite nautical in a suit of white duck and a yachting cap pinned to her flaxen hair. Trask thought she appeared entrancingly healthy and "out of doors."
"It's going to be a jolly fine trip," said Trask. "I hope you'll enjoy it one hundredth as much as I do."
"But gold-mine hunting is no novelty to you," she said.
"It's the first time I've actually gone to sea in search of a gold mine. And there are other reasons which make this trip unique."
"You are absurdly reticent, Mr. Trask."
"Under the circumstances it would be unfair to state the facts in their blunt simplicity," he retorted, with a smile.
"You mean father and me?"
"Mostly you," and he moved forward abruptly to tell Doc Bird to put his bags in his room.
Locke and Jarrow came out of the main cabin and paid off the patron of the tug.
"Well, we're off," said Locke, coming aft, as Jarrow went forward to oversee the getting of the anchor and the passing of the hawser. Bevins came aft presently and took the wheel, and in a few minutes the Nuestra started down the bay at the end of her leash.
Well under way, Jarrow called Peth to the main cabin and introduced him to Marjorie, Locke, and Trask, who had been summoned below for the assignment of their rooms.
Peth stood in the doorway and bowed, looking quite smart and respectable in clean dungarees, and though he said nothing but "How de do," he gave the impression of affability mixed with shyness. He missed no detail of Trask's clothing, and seemed to measure the young man's strength as he looked him up and down.
"Now, Miss Locke, you'll have this room aft, to port, next is Mr. Locke, and then Mr. Trask. Then comes the cabin stores. I'll be aft to starboard, Mr. Peth and Captain Dinshaw next, the cook and the steward, and the galley——"
"If ye don't mind, cap'n," interrupted Peth, "I'd not want to bunk with the old man. I got to be up and around nights."
"All right," said Jarrow. "There are two bunks in Mr. Trask's room here. Maybe you wouldn't find it out of the way if Mr. Peth took the lower?"
"Not at all," said Trask. "I'll sleep soundly enough."
"My gear's in there now," said Peth, and he went out on deck.
"I'd git my stuff all opened up and stowed while we're in the bay," suggested Jarrow. "There may be a swell on outside, and then it's goin' to be hot below as the sun climbs. Tom! How's that coffee comin' on?"
The fat Chinese cook looked out from the galley, a white cap on his head and an apron tied about him. He grinned pleasantly, and replied that the coffee was on the fire.
"We had breakfast," said Locke.
"I'd take a nip of coffee," said Jarrow. "Now then, here's Doc Bird to help open your gear. Anything you want, ask for it, and you, Doc, keep an eye out to make all hands comfortable. I got to go up now."
Trask followed the captain up the companion and left Marjorie and her father below, until he was called to have his coffee. When they went on deck again Corregidor Island was astern, rising out of the channel like a derelict battleship.
To starboard, close aboard beyond the stretch of sun-dazzled sea, was the coast of Bataan, with the brown fuzzy mountains behind Mariveles shouldering into the sky. Point Luzon marked the limit of the land over the starboard bow, and on the port side the shining China Sea reached away to the horizon.
The jib and foresail were already set although the tug had not cast off. Soon they began to fill, and as Peth bawled to the tug, the hawser was dropped, and tooting a farewell, the little boat swung in a wide arc and headed back for Manila.
Peth came aft and routed Doc Bird from under the mainsail boom where the steward sat peeling potatoes. Dinshaw kept moving about, repeating the orders of the mate, or talking to himself.
The crew were all white, in accordance with the orders of Locke, who had declared that he did not want to undertake the voyage with natives forward.
The breeze from landward died as the main was being set, and the Nuestra began to roll gently as she fell off. For a few minutes she threatened to follow the tug back to Manila, with many lurches and angry snappings of blocks.
"We'll git a clinkin' good breeze from the south'ard when we're off the land," said Jarrow, glancing aloft to the windvane on the mizzen truck. It was flopping about like a dead fish on a gaff.
Before long the foresail began to fret its sheets, and Bevins got her head to seaward. Then there came from astern a hot, puffy breeze, and the schooner stood out on a port tack, curvetting prettily as her sails were trimmed and filled.
One of the crew, hailed as Pennock, now came aft and took the wheel, and Bevins went forward. Captain Dinshaw went into the cabin, and looking down, Trask could see him bent over the table, sucking a stub of a pencil and studying a sheet of paper.
"What's the bearin' and distance of Point Luzon?" he called up the companion.
Jarrow looked at Locke and smiled.
"Northwest, five miles," called Jarrow, after a look at the compass and the land.
"What course ye steerin'?"
"Variation, one degree east," remarked Dinshaw, and went back to his figuring, talking to himself and scratching his head. From his conduct since sailing it was obvious that he intended to hold himself aloof from the rest of the party.
"Thinks he's navigatin'," whispered Jarrow, with a wink to Trask.
"He looks a lot better than he did," said Locke. "Has more colour and walks with more vigour."
"Good eatin'," said Jarrow. "He perked right up the minute he come aboard. Acts like he's master. Don't do no harm, only Mr. Peth gits rubbed the wrong way sometimes. I say, if the old man gits any fun out of thinkin' it's his own schooner, what's the odds?"
"How did you come out on getting anything certain about the position of his island?" asked Locke. "From what you said last night it was a sure thing."
"Oh, we know where we're goin' right enough," said Jarrow.
"Then he's given you some more data?"
"We ain't goin' on his say-so. He give me the leaf out of his old log, with his noon position the day before he was lifted off his course by the typhoon."
"Is that enough?"
"We ought to run slap into his island. It's one of the Capones, off the Zambales coast. There's a whole flock of 'em, but the one I figure on stands out from the rest, from what I've worked."
"Wilkins, at the hotel, was telling me the geodetic people couldn't find the island."
"Wilkins?" Jarrow turned and looked at Locke intently. "Oh, yes. Did he say anything about me?"
"Yes, he spoke very highly of you."
"Well, it's this way," said Jarrow, after a thoughtful pause. "The old man didn't give 'em the right position. He said he'd piled up near one of the Sisters, just to the south'ard of the Little Sister, to be exact. But that's more'n sixty miles north of where the Wetherall struck. Ye see, the old man didn't want nobody to find the island if he couldn't go himself. But he's all right now."
Peth came up the weather side of the poop, and seeing the trio with the captain, turned abruptly to go forward again.
"Did you want to see me, Mr. Peth?" called Jarrow.
The mate stopped, and pushing his cap to the back of his head, grumbled an assent.
"What about?" asked Jarrow, leaning his elbows on the top of the cabin trunk.
"I wanted to speak private," said Peth, grumblingly.
"Well, sing out," said Jarrow.
"Thought I'd speak to ye about where I'd bunk, sir," said Peth.
"Didn't we settle that?" demanded Jarrow, with considerable surprise.
"Not to my tastes," said the mate.
"What's the trouble?"
"I thought I'd take my gear out, if it's all the same to you, sir."
"Out of that room, sir."
"Where'd ye want to bunk?"
"I thought I'd bunk for'ard. Bevins is with the men——"
"Well, you're the mate," said Jarrow. "Ye don't want to be with the crew, do ye?"
"I thought mebbe if I moved for'ard I wouldn't be in the way."
"Nobody's said anything 'bout ye bein' in the way," said Jarrow, with rising temper.
"I'd be a heap more comfortable, sir," insisted Peth.
"I won't be at all disturbed," said Trask, getting out of his deck chair so that he could see Peth.
"I reckon I'd rather be for'ard," repeated the mate, doggedly.
Captain Dinshaw came up through the companion, and started toward Peth, glaring at the mate.
"What's this? What's this?" cried Dinshaw.
"Better keep quiet, sir, and let me handle it," said Jarrow in a low tone. Then to Peth: "If ye think ye'll be more comfortable for'ard, Peth, why, that's your lookout. We'll let it stand that way till we talk it over and——"
"Bad for discipline to have the mate for'ard with the crew," shouted Dinshaw. "Ye'll stay with the afterguard, Mr. Peth. I'm master here. That's all."
"Who is skipper, anyhow?" demanded Peth.
"I'm skipper," said Jarrow. "No use of gittin' excited up this way. Captain Dinshaw, ye'll please me if ye go below. Now we'll go for'ard and talk this over, Mr. Peth. I won't have no disputin' aboard me." He hurried after Peth, and they went forward of the foremast, talking in low tones.
"Captain Dinshaw!" said Locke, as the old man started to descend the stairs to the cabin.
"Dad!" warned Marjorie. "Don't hurt his feelings."
"Yes, sir," said Dinshaw.
"Don't you want to go to your island?" asked Locke, gently.
"Then we can't have this sort of thing, or I'll turn back to Manila. Captain Jarrow is in command."
"I know now, sir," said Dinshaw, rubbing his forehead with his hand, as if to brush away something which affected his vision. "It's all clear in my head, sir—I git kind o' dreamy, sir."
"All right," said Locke. "You'd better go down and keep out of the sun. It's all right this time, but you know we must not have a division of authority. Captain Jarrow is master."
"Very good, sir." And Dinshaw, somewhat crestfallen, went below.
"I merely wanted to take a hand in things," said Locke. "Better for me to chip the old man and keep him quiet than for Jarrow to give him fits."
"And I'm as well satisfied that Mr. Peth is going to live in the forecastle, if that's a measure of his temper," said Trask, who was more annoyed by the mate's request than he allowed the Lockes to see.
"I didn't like his looks from the first," said Marjorie.
"Oh, things'll get shaken down," said Locke. "But I'll give Jarrow to understand that we don't want to hear any more quarrels."
Trask and Marjorie left their chairs on the lee side of the poop, and leaned against the rail, the better to see what was taking place forward, where they could hear Jarrow and Peth in quiet argument. From their gestures it was plain that in spite of Jarrow's pleas Peth was still obdurate.
Pennock, the man at the wheel, gave no sign that he had heard any of the conversation aft, but stared over the top of the cabin trunk, glancing aloft now and then at the sails, and watching the compass. The crew were busy wetting down the decks, having swept them after clearing a litter of rope and boxes.
Soon Captain Jarrow came back, looking red and flustered, his cigar out and badly chewed. He made an attempt to light it, but gave up the attempt and threw it over the side.
"I'm sorry to see this happen, Mr. Locke," said Jarrow finally, as if he felt that he must say something to restore a pleasant status.
"You know I've half a mind to put back to Manila and throw him ashore," said Locke, severely. "We're here for pleasure, Captain Jarrow, and we can't have any such scenes. My daughter's worried."
"Oh, Mr Peth's all right," said Jarrow. "His bark's worse'n his bite. He feels a little awkward with you folks aboard, that's all. It was the old man scraped him."
"I've already chipped the old man about it," said Locke. "I wish you'd let the matter drop. What did Mr. Peth decide to do?"
"He's set on bunkin' with the men," said Jarrow.
"All right, then, he can mess with the men," said Locke. "We won't have him aft at all."
"All right," said Jarrow, and fell to pacing the weather side of the poop, his hands clasped behind his back.
In a few minutes Peth came clumping down the waist and, calling two of the crew, went into the main cabin. There was a banging of doors, heard above the clatter of Shanghai Tom's chopping tray, and then Peth went forward, carrying clothes under both arms, followed by two men with his sea-chest.
The schooner was bowling along now at a good rate, marching away from the land steadily, and making little leeway. Trask went below, ostensibly to have his bag unpacked, but really to have a talk with Doc Bird. Also, he had an automatic pistol which he thought he would get out and clean. He suspected that it would do no harm to have it known that there were weapons among the "passengers."
TRASK HAS A TALK WITH DOC BIRD
Calling Doc Bird from the galley, Trask set about putting his things in order in his room, and sent the steward inside to open the biggest bag, which was secured with straps.
"I reckon we better take this out, sir," suggested Doc, as he made an effort to get the straps loose. He found it hard to work in the narrow little room.
"No," said Trask, "open it in here." He stood in the doorway, and let the door rest against his back, holding it partly closed with one hand. It was his purpose to keep Doc shut in, and so be able to question him without being overheard.
"Mighty hard to open," said Doc, down on his knees, struggling with the straps. It was hot in the room, and rather dark, as the deadlight to the poop-deck was fogged by sea water.
"You're new to the schooner, aren't you?" asked Trask.
"Yassir. I jus' shipped fo' the roun' trip."
"How long have you known Mr. Peth?" Trask kept his voice low, and bent down to Doc.
"Yassir. I know Mr. Peth. I know him fo' a long time."
"Have you sailed with him before?"
"Yassir. I been along with Cap'n Jarrow an' Mr. Peth off an' on six years. Got a key fo' this hyar satchel?"
"It isn't locked. Just press the lock to the left."
"You mighty ca'less with yo' possessions," said Doc with a chuckle.
"What sort of a man is Mr. Peth?"
"Catch me with my stuff sailin' around loose. Some o' these hyar native trash go'n walk off wid you, bag an' baggage, if you don' watch out, man."
"Why do you suppose Mr. Peth wanted to move out of here?"
"Oh, he's just kind o' techy."
"How do you mean?"
"Kind o' uppish. He don' git along wid nobody, nohow, Mr. Peth don't."
"He's been with Captain Jarrow a long time, hasn't he?"
Doc turned his head sidewise and looked at Trask, and then looked out into the main cabin, as if to make sure no one was listening before he went on.
"A lion an' a lamb," he said, in a scared whisper.
"And Peth's the lion?"
"Yassir, you got it. Peth, he'd fight with his own gran'mother, that man. Argue en argue en argue. He ain't fixin' to hurt nobody when he talks, but when he stops talkin'—excuse me!"
"What does he do when he stops talking?"
"If ol' Doc Bird's on the lan'scape, he hunts a hole an' he crawls in when Mr. Peth he begins to act up."
"You mean you're afraid of him?"
"Not exac'ly what you'd go an' call 'fraid, but I don' take no chances." He chuckled again, and wagged his head. He could not manipulate the lock to get the bag open, and Trask reached down and showed him how it was done.
"Then you consider Mr. Peth a dangerous man?"
"He sho' is."
"How is he dangerous?"
"Well, Mr. Trask, I don' lak' to go an' say nothin' agin a man, 'specially when he's matin' round a boat what I'm in."
"Oh, I suppose he's rough with a sailor if it suits his fancy," said Trask, convinced now that Doc was merely making talk, and telling a yarn simply to impress him.