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 The Wrecker

by Robert louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne


It was about three o'clock of a winter's afternoon in Tai-o-hae, the
French capital and port of entry of the Marquesas Islands. The trades
blew strong and squally; the surf roared loud on the shingle beach; and
the fifty-ton schooner of war, that carries the flag and influence of
France about the islands of the cannibal group, rolled at her moorings
under Prison Hill. The clouds hung low and black on the surrounding
amphitheatre of mountains; rain had fallen earlier in the day, real
tropic rain, a waterspout for violence; and the green and gloomy brow of
the mountain was still seamed with many silver threads of torrent.

In these hot and healthy islands winter is but a name. The rain had not
refreshed, nor could the wind invigorate, the dwellers of Tai-o-hae:
away at one end, indeed, the commandant was directing some changes in
the residency garden beyond Prison Hill; and the gardeners, being
all convicts, had no choice but to continue to obey. All other folks
slumbered and took their rest: Vaekehu, the native queen, in her
trim house under the rustling palms; the Tahitian commissary, in his
beflagged official residence; the merchants, in their deserted stores;
and even the club-servant in the club, his head fallen forward on
the bottle-counter, under the map of the world and the cards of navy
officers. In the whole length of the single shoreside street, with its
scattered board houses looking to the sea, its grateful shade of palms
and green jungle of puraos, no moving figure could be seen. Only, at
the end of the rickety pier, that once (in the prosperous days of the
American rebellion) was used to groan under the cotton of John Hart,
there might have been spied upon a pile of lumber the famous tattooed
white man, the living curiosity of Tai-o-hae.


His eyes were open, staring down the bay. He saw the mountains droop,
as they approached the entrance, and break down in cliffs; the surf boil
white round the two sentinel islets; and between, on the narrow bight
of blue horizon, Ua-pu upraise the ghost of her pinnacled mountain tops.
But his mind would take no account of these familiar features; as he
dodged in and out along the frontier line of sleep and waking, memory
would serve him with broken fragments of the past: brown faces and
white, of skipper and shipmate, king and chief, would arise before his
mind and vanish; he would recall old voyages, old landfalls in the hour
of dawn; he would hear again the drums beat for a man-eating festival;
perhaps he would summon up the form of that island princess for the love
of whom he had submitted his body to the cruel hands of the tattooer,
and now sat on the lumber, at the pier-end of Tai-o-hae, so strange
a figure of a European. Or perhaps from yet further back, sounds and
scents of England and his childhood might assail him: the merry clamour
of cathedral bells, the broom upon the foreland, the song of the river
on the weir.

It is bold water at the mouth of the bay; you can steer a ship about
either sentinel, close enough to toss a biscuit on the rocks. Thus
it chanced that, as the tattooed man sat dozing and dreaming, he was
startled into wakefulness and animation by the appearance of a flying
jib beyond the western islet. Two more headsails followed; and before
the tattooed man had scrambled to his feet, a topsail schooner, of some
hundred tons, had luffed about the sentinel and was standing up the bay,

The sleeping city awakened by enchantment. Natives appeared upon all
sides, hailing each other with the magic cry "Ehippy"--ship; the Queen
stepped forth on her verandah, shading her eyes under a hand that was
a miracle of the fine art of tattooing; the commandant broke from his
domestic convicts and ran into the residency for his glass; the harbour
master, who was also the gaoler, came speeding down the Prison Hill; the
seventeen brown Kanakas and the French boatswain's mate, that make up
the complement of the war-schooner, crowded on the forward deck; and the
various English, Americans, Germans, Poles, Corsicans, and Scots--the
merchants and the clerks of Tai-o-hae--deserted their places of
business, and gathered, according to invariable custom, on the road
before the club.

So quickly did these dozen whites collect, so short are the distances
in Tai-o-hae, that they were already exchanging guesses as to the
nationality and business of the strange vessel, before she had gone
about upon her second board towards the anchorage. A moment after,
English colours were broken out at the main truck.

"I told you she was a Johnny Bull--knew it by her headsails," said an
evergreen old salt, still qualified (if he could anywhere have found
an owner unacquainted with his story) to adorn another quarter-deck and
lose another ship.

"She has American lines, anyway," said the astute Scots engineer of the
gin-mill; "it's my belief she's a yacht."

"That's it," said the old salt, "a yacht! look at her davits, and the
boat over the stern."

"A yacht in your eye!" said a Glasgow voice. "Look at her red ensign! A
yacht! not much she isn't!"

"You can close the store, anyway, Tom," observed a gentlemanly German.
"Bon jour, mon Prince!" he added, as a dark, intelligent native cantered
by on a neat chestnut. "Vous allez boire un verre de biere?"

But Prince Stanilas Moanatini, the only reasonably busy human creature
on the island, was riding hot-spur to view this morning's landslip on
the mountain road: the sun already visibly declined; night was imminent;
and if he would avoid the perils of darkness and precipice, and the
fear of the dead, the haunters of the jungle, he must for once decline
a hospitable invitation. Even had he been minded to alight, it presently
appeared there would be difficulty as to the refreshment offered.

"Beer!" cried the Glasgow voice. "No such a thing; I tell you there's
only eight bottles in the club! Here's the first time I've seen British
colours in this port! and the man that sails under them has got to drink
that beer."

The proposal struck the public mind as fair, though far from cheering;
for some time back, indeed, the very name of beer had been a sound of
sorrow in the club, and the evenings had passed in dolorous computation.

"Here is Havens," said one, as if welcoming a fresh topic. "What do you
think of her, Havens?"

"I don't think," replied Havens, a tall, bland, cool-looking, leisurely
Englishman, attired in spotless duck, and deliberately dealing with a
cigarette. "I may say I know. She's consigned to me from Auckland by
Donald & Edenborough. I am on my way aboard."

"What ship is she?" asked the ancient mariner.

"Haven't an idea," returned Havens. "Some tramp they have chartered."

With that he placidly resumed his walk, and was soon seated in the
stern-sheets of a whaleboat manned by uproarious Kanakas, himself
daintily perched out of the way of the least maculation, giving his
commands in an unobtrusive, dinner-table tone of voice, and sweeping
neatly enough alongside the schooner.

A weather-beaten captain received him at the gangway.

"You are consigned to us, I think," said he. "I am Mr. Havens."

"That is right, sir," replied the captain, shaking hands. "You will find
the owner, Mr. Dodd, below. Mind the fresh paint on the house."

Havens stepped along the alley-way, and descended the ladder into the
main cabin.

"Mr. Dodd, I believe," said he, addressing a smallish, bearded
gentleman, who sat writing at the table. "Why," he cried, "it isn't
Loudon Dodd?"

"Myself, my dear fellow," replied Mr. Dodd, springing to his feet with
companionable alacrity. "I had a half-hope it might be you, when I found
your name on the papers. Well, there's no change in you; still the same
placid, fresh-looking Britisher."

"I can't return the compliment; for you seem to have become a Britisher
yourself," said Havens.

"I promise you, I am quite unchanged," returned Dodd. "The red
tablecloth at the top of the stick is not my flag; it's my partner's.
He is not dead, but sleepeth. There he is," he added, pointing to a bust
which formed one of the numerous unexpected ornaments of that unusual

Havens politely studied it. "A fine bust," said he; "and a very
nice-looking fellow."

"Yes; he's a good fellow," said Dodd. "He runs me now. It's all his

"He doesn't seem to be particularly short of it," added the other,
peering with growing wonder round the cabin.

"His money, my taste," said Dodd. "The black-walnut bookshelves are Old
English; the books all mine,--mostly Renaissance French. You should see
how the beach-combers wilt away when they go round them looking for a
change of Seaside Library novels. The mirrors are genuine Venice; that's
a good piece in the corner. The daubs are mine--and his; the mudding

"Mudding? What is that?" asked Havens.

"These bronzes," replied Dodd. "I began life as a sculptor."

"Yes; I remember something about that," said the other. "I think, too,
you said you were interested in Californian real estate."

"Surely, I never went so far as that," said Dodd. "Interested? I guess
not. Involved, perhaps. I was born an artist; I never took an interest
in anything but art. If I were to pile up this old schooner to-morrow,"
he added, "I declare I believe I would try the thing again!"

"Insured?" inquired Havens.

"Yes," responded Dodd. "There's some fool in 'Frisco who insures us, and
comes down like a wolf on the fold on the profits; but we'll get even
with him some day."

"Well, I suppose it's all right about the cargo," said Havens.

"O, I suppose so!" replied Dodd. "Shall we go into the papers?"

"We'll have all to-morrow, you know," said Havens; "and they'll be
rather expecting you at the club. C'est l'heure de l'absinthe. Of
course, Loudon, you'll dine with me later on?"

Mr. Dodd signified his acquiescence; drew on his white coat, not without
a trifling difficulty, for he was a man of middle age, and well-to-do;
arranged his beard and moustaches at one of the Venetian mirrors; and,
taking a broad felt hat, led the way through the trade-room into the
ship's waist.

The stern boat was waiting alongside,--a boat of an elegant model, with
cushions and polished hard-wood fittings.

"You steer," observed Loudon. "You know the best place to land."

"I never like to steer another man's boat," replied Havens.

"Call it my partner's, and cry quits," returned Loudon, getting
nonchalantly down the side.

Havens followed and took the yoke lines without further protest. "I am
sure I don't know how you make this pay," he said. "To begin with,
she is too big for the trade, to my taste; and then you carry so much

"I don't know that she does pay," returned Loudon. "I never pretend to
be a business man. My partner appears happy; and the money is all his,
as I told you--I only bring the want of business habits."

"You rather like the berth, I suppose?" suggested Havens.

"Yes," said Loudon; "it seems odd, but I rather do."

While they were yet on board, the sun had dipped; the sunset gun (a
rifle) cracked from the war-schooner, and the colours had been
handed down. Dusk was deepening as they came ashore; and the Cercle
Internationale (as the club is officially and significantly named) began
to shine, from under its low verandas, with the light of many lamps. The
good hours of the twenty-four drew on; the hateful, poisonous day-fly
of Nukahiva, was beginning to desist from its activity; the land-breeze
came in refreshing draughts; and the club men gathered together for the
hour of absinthe. To the commandant himself, to the man whom he was then
contending with at billiards--a trader from the next island, honorary
member of the club, and once carpenter's mate on board a Yankee
war-ship--to the doctor of the port, to the Brigadier of Gendarmerie, to
the opium farmer, and to all the white men whom the tide of commerce,
or the chances of shipwreck and desertion, had stranded on the beach of
Tai-o-hae, Mr. Loudon Dodd was formally presented; by all (since he was
a man of pleasing exterior, smooth ways, and an unexceptionable flow of
talk, whether in French or English) he was excellently well received;
and presently, with one of the last eight bottles of beer on a table
at his elbow, found himself the rather silent centre-piece of a voluble
group on the verandah.

Talk in the South Seas is all upon one pattern; it is a wide ocean,
indeed, but a narrow world: you shall never talk long and not hear the
name of Bully Hayes, a naval hero whose exploits and deserved extinction
left Europe cold; commerce will be touched on, copra, shell, perhaps
cotton or fungus; but in a far-away, dilettante fashion, as by men
not deeply interested; through all, the names of schooners and their
captains, will keep coming and going, thick as may-flies; and news
of the last shipwreck will be placidly exchanged and debated. To a
stranger, this conversation will at first seem scarcely brilliant; but
he will soon catch the tone; and by the time he shall have moved a
year or so in the island world, and come across a good number of the
schooners so that every captain's name calls up a figure in pyjamas or
white duck, and becomes used to a certain laxity of moral tone which
prevails (as in memory of Mr. Hayes) on smuggling, ship-scuttling,
barratry, piracy, the labour trade, and other kindred fields of human
activity, he will find Polynesia no less amusing and no less instructive
than Pall Mall or Paris.

Mr. Loudon Dodd, though he was new to the group of the Marquesas, was
already an old, salted trader; he knew the ships and the captains; he
had assisted, in other islands, at the first steps of some career of
which he now heard the culmination, or (vice versa) he had brought
with him from further south the end of some story which had begun in
Tai-o-hae. Among other matter of interest, like other arrivals in
the South Seas, he had a wreck to announce. The John T. Richards, it
appeared, had met the fate of other island schooners.

"Dickinson piled her up on Palmerston Island," Dodd announced.

"Who were the owners?" inquired one of the club men.

"O, the usual parties!" returned Loudon,--"Capsicum & Co."

A smile and a glance of intelligence went round the group; and perhaps
Loudon gave voice to the general sentiment by remarking, "Talk of good
business! I know nothing better than a schooner, a competent captain,
and a sound, reliable reef."

"Good business! There's no such a thing!" said the Glasgow man. "Nobody
makes anything but the missionaries--dash it!"

"I don't know," said another. "There's a good deal in opium."

"It's a good job to strike a tabooed pearl-island, say, about the fourth
year," remarked a third; "skim the whole lagoon on the sly, and up stick
and away before the French get wind of you."

"A pig nokket of cold is good," observed a German.

"There's something in wrecks, too," said Havens. "Look at that man in
Honolulu, and the ship that went ashore on Waikiki Reef; it was blowing
a kona, hard; and she began to break up as soon as she touched. Lloyd's
agent had her sold inside an hour; and before dark, when she went to
pieces in earnest, the man that bought her had feathered his nest. Three
more hours of daylight, and he might have retired from business. As it
was, he built a house on Beretania Street, and called it for the ship."

"Yes, there's something in wrecks sometimes," said the Glasgow voice;
"but not often."

"As a general rule, there's deuced little in anything," said Havens.

"Well, I believe that's a Christian fact," cried the other. "What I want
is a secret; get hold of a rich man by the right place, and make him

"I suppose you know it's not thought to be the ticket," returned Havens.

"I don't care for that; it's good enough for me," cried the man from
Glasgow, stoutly. "The only devil of it is, a fellow can never find a
secret in a place like the South Seas: only in London and Paris."

"M'Gibbon's been reading some dime-novel, I suppose," said one club man.

"He's been reading _Aurora Floyd_," remarked another.

"And what if I have?" cried M'Gibbon. "It's all true. Look at
the newspapers! It's just your confounded ignorance that sets you
snickering. I tell you, it's as much a trade as underwriting, and a
dashed sight more honest."

The sudden acrimony of these remarks called Loudon (who was a man of
peace) from his reserve. "It's rather singular," said he, "but I seem to
have practised about all these means of livelihood."

"Tit you effer vind a nokket?" inquired the inarticulate German,

"No. I have been most kinds of fool in my time," returned Loudon, "but
not the gold-digging variety. Every man has a sane spot somewhere."

"Well, then," suggested some one, "did you ever smuggle opium?"

"Yes, I did," said Loudon.

"Was there money in that?"

"All the way," responded Loudon.

"And perhaps you bought a wreck?" asked another.

"Yes, sir," said Loudon.

"How did that pan out?" pursued the questioner.

"Well, mine was a peculiar kind of wreck," replied Loudon. "I don't
know, on the whole, that I can recommend that branch of industry."

"Did she break up?" asked some one.

"I guess it was rather I that broke down," says Loudon. "Head not big

"Ever try the blackmail?" inquired Havens.

"Simple as you see me sitting here!" responded Dodd.

"Good business?"

"Well, I'm not a lucky man, you see," returned the stranger. "It ought
to have been good."

"You had a secret?" asked the Glasgow man.

"As big as the State of Texas."

"And the other man was rich?"

"He wasn't exactly Jay Gould, but I guess he could buy these islands if
he wanted."

"Why, what was wrong, then? Couldn't you get hands on him?"

"It took time, but I had him cornered at last; and then----"

"What then?"

"The speculation turned bottom up. I became the man's bosom friend."

"The deuce you did!"

"He couldn't have been particular, you mean?" asked Dodd pleasantly.
"Well, no; he's a man of rather large sympathies."

"If you're done talking nonsense, Loudon," said Havens, "let's be
getting to my place for dinner."

Outside, the night was full of the roaring of the surf. Scattered lights
glowed in the green thicket. Native women came by twos and threes out of
the darkness, smiled and ogled the two whites, perhaps wooed them with
a strain of laughter, and went by again, bequeathing to the air a
heady perfume of palm-oil and frangipani blossom. From the club to Mr.
Havens's residence was but a step or two, and to any dweller in Europe
they must have seemed steps in fairyland. If such an one could but have
followed our two friends into the wide-verandahed house, sat down
with them in the cool trellised room, where the wine shone on the
lamp-lighted tablecloth; tasted of their exotic food--the raw fish, the
breadfruit, the cooked bananas, the roast pig served with the inimitable
miti, and that king of delicacies, palm-tree salad; seen and heard by
fits and starts, now peering round the corner of the door, now railing
within against invisible assistants, a certain comely young native lady
in a sacque, who seemed too modest to be a member of the family, and too
imperious to be less; and then if such an one were whisked again through
space to Upper Tooting, or wherever else he honored the domestic gods,
"I have had a dream," I think he would say, as he sat up, rubbing his
eyes, in the familiar chimney-corner chair, "I have had a dream of a
place, and I declare I believe it must be heaven." But to Dodd and his
entertainer, all this amenity of the tropic night and all these dainties
of the island table, were grown things of custom; and they fell to meat
like men who were hungry, and drifted into idle talk like men who were a
trifle bored.

The scene in the club was referred to.

"I never heard you talk so much nonsense, Loudon," said the host.

"Well, it seemed to me there was sulphur in the air, so I talked for
talking," returned the other. "But it was none of it nonsense."

"Do you mean to say it was true?" cried Havens,--"that about the opium
and the wreck, and the blackmailing and the man who became your friend?"

"Every last word of it," said Loudon.

"You seem to have been seeing life," returned the other.

"Yes, it's a queer yarn," said his friend; "if you think you would like,
I'll tell it you."

Here follows the yarn of Loudon Dodd, not as he told it to his friend,
but as he subsequently wrote it.










The beginning of this yarn is my poor father's character. There
never was a better man, nor a handsomer, nor (in my view) a more
unhappy--unhappy in his business, in his pleasures, in his place of
residence, and (I am sorry to say it) in his son. He had begun life as a
land-surveyor, soon became interested in real estate, branched off into
many other speculations, and had the name of one of the smartest men in
the State of Muskegon. "Dodd has a big head," people used to say; but I
was never so sure of his capacity. His luck, at least, was beyond doubt
for long; his assiduity, always. He fought in that daily battle of
money-grubbing, with a kind of sad-eyed loyalty like a martyr's; rose
early, ate fast, came home dispirited and over-weary, even from success;
grudged himself all pleasure, if his nature was capable of taking any,
which I sometimes wondered; and laid out, upon some deal in wheat or
corner in aluminium, the essence of which was little better than highway
robbery, treasures of conscientiousness and self-denial.

Unluckily, I never cared a cent for anything but art, and never shall.
My idea of man's chief end was to enrich the world with things of
beauty, and have a fairly good time myself while doing so. I do not
think I mentioned that second part, which is the only one I have managed
to carry out; but my father must have suspected the suppression, for he
branded the whole affair as self-indulgence.

"Well," I remember crying once, "and what is your life? You are only
trying to get money, and to get it from other people at that."

He sighed bitterly (which was very much his habit), and shook his poor
head at me. "Ah, Loudon, Loudon!" said he, "you boys think yourselves
very smart. But, struggle as you please, a man has to work in this
world. He must be an honest man or a thief, Loudon."

You can see for yourself how vain it was to argue with my father.
The despair that seized upon me after such an interview was, besides,
embittered by remorse; for I was at times petulant, but he invariably
gentle; and I was fighting, after all, for my own liberty and pleasure,
he singly for what he thought to be my good. And all the time he never
despaired. "There is good stuff in you, Loudon," he would say; "there
is the right stuff in you. Blood will tell, and you will come right in
time. I am not afraid my boy will ever disgrace me; I am only vexed he
should sometimes talk nonsense." And then he would pat my shoulder or
my hand with a kind of motherly way he had, very affecting in a man so
strong and beautiful.

As soon as I had graduated from the high school, he packed me off to the
Muskegon Commercial Academy. You are a foreigner, and you will have a
difficulty in accepting the reality of this seat of education. I assure
you before I begin that I am wholly serious. The place really existed,
possibly exists to-day: we were proud of it in the State, as something
exceptionally nineteenth century and civilized; and my father, when he
saw me to the cars, no doubt considered he was putting me in a straight
line for the Presidency and the New Jerusalem.

"Loudon," said he, "I am now giving you a chance that Julius Caesar
could not have given to his son--a chance to see life as it is, before
your own turn comes to start in earnest. Avoid rash speculation, try
to behave like a gentleman; and if you will take my advice, confine
yourself to a safe, conservative business in railroads. Breadstuffs are
tempting, but very dangerous; I would not try breadstuffs at your time
of life; but you may feel your way a little in other commodities. Take
a pride to keep your books posted, and never throw good money after bad.
There, my dear boy, kiss me good-by; and never forget that you are an
only chick, and that your dad watches your career with fond suspense."

The commercial college was a fine, roomy establishment, pleasantly
situate among woods. The air was healthy, the food excellent, the
premium high. Electric wires connected it (to use the words of the
prospectus) with "the various world centres." The reading-room was well
supplied with "commercial organs." The talk was that of Wall Street; and
the pupils (from fifty to a hundred lads) were principally engaged
in rooking or trying to rook one another for nominal sums in what was
called "college paper." We had class hours, indeed, in the morning, when
we studied German, French, book-keeping, and the like goodly matters;
but the bulk of our day and the gist of the education centred in the
exchange, where we were taught to gamble in produce and securities.
Since not one of the participants possessed a bushel of wheat or a
dollar's worth of stock, legitimate business was of course impossible
from the beginning. It was cold-drawn gambling, without colour or
disguise. Just that which is the impediment and destruction of all
genuine commercial enterprise, just that we were taught with every
luxury of stage effect. Our simulacrum of a market was ruled by the real
markets outside, so that we might experience the course and vicissitude
of prices. We must keep books, and our ledgers were overhauled at
the month's end by the principal or his assistants. To add a spice
of verisimilitude, "college paper" (like poker chips) had an actual
marketable value. It was bought for each pupil by anxious parents and
guardians at the rate of one cent for the dollar. The same pupil, when
his education was complete, resold, at the same figure, so much as was
left him to the college; and even in the midst of his curriculum, a
successful operator would sometimes realize a proportion of his holding,
and stand a supper on the sly in the neighbouring hamlet. In short,
if there was ever a worse education, it must have been in that academy
where Oliver met Charlie Bates.

When I was first guided into the exchange to have my desk pointed out
by one of the assistant teachers, I was overwhelmed by the clamour and
confusion. Certain blackboards at the other end of the building were
covered with figures continually replaced. As each new set appeared, the
pupils swayed to and fro, and roared out aloud with a formidable and
to me quite meaningless vociferation; leaping at the same time upon
the desks and benches, signalling with arms and heads, and scribbling
briskly in note-books. I thought I had never beheld a scene more
disagreeable; and when I considered that the whole traffic was illusory,
and all the money then upon the market would scarce have sufficed to
buy a pair of skates, I was at first astonished, although not for long.
Indeed, I had no sooner called to mind how grown-up men and women of
considerable estate will lose their temper about half-penny points, than
(making an immediate allowance for my fellow-students) I transferred
the whole of my astonishment to the assistant teacher, who--poor
gentleman--had quite forgot to show me to my desk, and stood in the
midst of this hurly-burly, absorbed and seemingly transported.

"Look, look," he shouted in my ear; "a falling market! The bears have
had it all their own way since yesterday."

"It can't matter," I replied, making him hear with difficulty, for I was
unused to speak in such a babel, "since it is all fun."

"True," said he; "and you must always bear in mind that the real profit
is in the book-keeping. I trust, Dodd, to be able to congratulate
you upon your books. You are to start in with ten thousand dollars of
college paper, a very liberal figure, which should see you through the
whole curriculum, if you keep to a safe, conservative business.... Why,
what's that?" he broke off, once more attracted by the changing figures
on the board. "Seven, four, three! Dodd, you are in luck: this is the
most spirited rally we have had this term. And to think that the same
scene is now transpiring in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, and rival
business centres! For two cents, I would try a flutter with the
boys myself," he cried, rubbing his hands; "only it's against the

"What would you do, sir?" I asked.

"Do?" he cried, with glittering eyes. "Buy for all I was worth!"

"Would that be a safe, conservative business?" I inquired, as innocent
as a lamb.

He looked daggers at me. "See that sandy-haired man in glasses?" he
asked, as if to change the subject. "That's Billson, our most prominent
undergraduate. We build confidently on Billson's future. You could not
do better, Dodd, than follow Billson."

Presently after, in the midst of a still growing tumult, the figures
coming and going more busily than ever on the board, and the hall
resounding like Pandemonium with the howls of operators, the assistant
teacher left me to my own resources at my desk. The next boy was posting
up his ledger, figuring his morning's loss, as I discovered later on;
and from this ungenial task he was readily diverted by the sight of a
new face.

"Say, Freshman," he said, "what's your name? What? Son of Big Head Dodd?
What's your figure? Ten thousand? O, you're away up! What a soft-headed
clam you must be to touch your books!"

I asked him what else I could do, since the books were to be examined
once a month.

"Why, you galoot, you get a clerk!" cries he. "One of our dead
beats--that's all they're here for. If you're a successful operator, you
need never do a stroke of work in this old college."

The noise had now become deafening; and my new friend, telling me that
some one had certainly "gone down," that he must know the news, and
that he would bring me a clerk when he returned, buttoned his coat and
plunged into the tossing throng. It proved that he was right: some one
had gone down; a prince had fallen in Israel; the corner in lard had
proved fatal to the mighty; and the clerk who was brought back to keep
my books, spare me all work, and get all my share of the education, at
a thousand dollars a month, college paper (ten dollars, United States
currency) was no other than the prominent Billson whom I could do no
better than follow. The poor lad was very unhappy. It's the only good
thing I have to say for Muskegon Commercial College, that we were all,
even the small fry, deeply mortified to be posted as defaulters; and the
collapse of a merchant prince like Billson, who had ridden pretty high
in his days of prosperity, was, of course, particularly hard to bear.
But the spirit of make-believe conquered even the bitterness of recent
shame; and my clerk took his orders, and fell to his new duties, with
decorum and civility.

Such were my first impressions in this absurd place of education; and,
to be frank, they were far from disagreeable. As long as I was rich, my
evenings and afternoons would be my own; the clerk must keep my books,
the clerk could do the jostling and bawling in the exchange; and I could
turn my mind to landscape-painting and Balzac's novels, which were then
my two preoccupations. To remain rich, then, became my problem; or, in
other words, to do a safe, conservative line of business. I am looking
for that line still; and I believe the nearest thing to it in this
imperfect world is the sort of speculation sometimes insidiously
proposed to childhood, in the formula, "Heads, I win; tails, you lose."
Mindful of my father's parting words, I turned my attention timidly to
railroads; and for a month or so maintained a position of inglorious
security, dealing for small amounts in the most inert stocks, and
bearing (as best I could) the scorn of my hired clerk. One day I
had ventured a little further by way of experiment; and, in the sure
expectation they would continue to go down, sold several thousand
dollars of Pan-Handle Preference (I think it was). I had no sooner
made this venture than some fools in New York began to bull the market;
Pan-Handles rose like a balloon; and in the inside of half an hour I saw
my position compromised. Blood will tell, as my father said; and I stuck
to it gallantly: all afternoon I continued selling that infernal
stock, all afternoon it continued skying. I suppose I had come (a frail
cockle-shell) athwart the hawse of Jay Gould; and, indeed, I think I
remember that this vagary in the market proved subsequently to be the
first move in a considerable deal. That evening, at least, the name of
H. Loudon Dodd held the first rank in our collegiate gazette, and I and
Billson (once more thrown upon the world) were competing for the same
clerkship. The present object takes the present eye. My disaster,
for the moment, was the more conspicuous; and it was I that got the
situation. So you see, even in Muskegon Commercial College, there were
lessons to be learned.

For my own part, I cared very little whether I lost or won at a game so
random, so complex, and so dull; but it was sorry news to write to my
poor father, and I employed all the resources of my eloquence. I told
him (what was the truth) that the successful boys had none of the
education; so that if he wished me to learn, he should rejoice at my
misfortune. I went on (not very consistently) to beg him to set me up
again, when I would solemnly promise to do a safe business in reliable
railroads. Lastly (becoming somewhat carried away), I assured him I was
totally unfit for business, and implored him to take me away from this
abominable place, and let me go to Paris to study art. He answered
briefly, gently, and sadly, telling me the vacation was near at hand,
when we could talk things over.

When the time came, he met me at the depot, and I was shocked to see
him looking older. He seemed to have no thought but to console me
and restore (what he supposed I had lost) my courage. I must not be
down-hearted; many of the best men had made a failure in the beginning.
I told him I had no head for business, and his kind face darkened. "You
must not say that, Loudon," he replied; "I will never believe my son to
be a coward."

"But I don't like it," I pleaded. "It hasn't got any interest for me,
and art has. I know I could do more in art," and I reminded him that
a successful painter gains large sums; that a picture of Meissonier's
would sell for many thousand dollars.

"And do you think, Loudon," he replied, "that a man who can paint a
thousand dollar picture has not grit enough to keep his end up in
the stock market? No, sir; this Mason (of whom you speak) or our
own American Bierstadt--if you were to put them down in a wheat pit
to-morrow, they would show their mettle. Come, Loudon, my dear; heaven
knows I have no thought but your own good, and I will offer you a
bargain. I start you again next term with ten thousand dollars; show
yourself a man, and double it, and then (if you still wish to go to
Paris, which I know you won't) I'll let you go. But to let you run away
as if you were whipped, is what I am too proud to do."

My heart leaped at this proposal, and then sank again. It seemed easier
to paint a Meissonier on the spot than to win ten thousand dollars
on that mimic stock exchange. Nor could I help reflecting on the
singularity of such a test for a man's capacity to be a painter. I
ventured even to comment on this.

He sighed deeply. "You forget, my dear," said he, "I am a judge of
the one, and not of the other. You might have the genius of Bierstadt
himself, and I would be none the wiser."

"And then," I continued, "it's scarcely fair. The other boys are helped
by their people, who telegraph and give them pointers. There's Jim
Costello, who never budges without a word from his father in New York.
And then, don't you see, if anybody is to win, somebody must lose?"

"I'll keep you posted," cried my father, with unusual animation; "I did
not know it was allowed. I'll wire you in the office cipher, and we'll
make it a kind of partnership business, Loudon:--Dodd & Son, eh?" and
he patted my shoulder and repeated, "Dodd & Son, Dodd & Son," with the
kindliest amusement.

If my father was to give me pointers, and the commercial college was to
be a stepping-stone to Paris, I could look my future in the face. The
old boy, too, was so pleased at the idea of our association in this
foolery that he immediately plucked up spirit. Thus it befell that those
who had met at the depot like a pair of mutes, sat down to table with
holiday faces.

And now I have to introduce a new character that never said a word nor
wagged a finger, and yet shaped my whole subsequent career. You have
crossed the States, so that in all likelihood you have seen the head
of it, parcel-gilt and curiously fluted, rising among trees from a wide
plain; for this new character was no other than the State capitol of
Muskegon, then first projected. My father had embraced the idea with a
mixture of patriotism and commercial greed both perfectly genuine. He
was of all the committees, he had subscribed a great deal of money, and
he was making arrangements to have a finger in most of the contracts.
Competitive plans had been sent in; at the time of my return from
college my father was deep in their consideration; and as the idea
entirely occupied his mind, the first evening did not pass away before
he had called me into council. Here was a subject at last into which I
could throw myself with pleasurable zeal. Architecture was new to me,
indeed; but it was at least an art; and for all the arts I had a taste
naturally classical and that capacity to take delighted pains which some
famous idiot has supposed to be synonymous with genius. I threw myself
headlong into my father's work, acquainted myself with all the plans,
their merits and defects, read besides in special books, made myself
a master of the theory of strains, studied the current prices
of materials, and (in one word) "devilled" the whole business so
thoroughly, that when the plans came up for consideration, Big Head Dodd
was supposed to have earned fresh laurels. His arguments carried the
day, his choice was approved by the committee, and I had the anonymous
satisfaction to know that arguments and choice were wholly mine. In the
recasting of the plan which followed, my part was even larger; for I
designed and cast with my own hand a hot-air grating for the offices,
which had the luck or merit to be accepted. The energy and aptitude
which I displayed throughout delighted and surprised my father, and I
believe, although I say it whose tongue should be tied, that they alone
prevented Muskegon capitol from being the eyesore of my native State.

Altogether, I was in a cheery frame of mind when I returned to the
commercial college; and my earlier operations were crowned with a full
measure of success. My father wrote and wired to me continually. "You
are to exercise your own judgment, Loudon," he would say. "All that I do
is to give you the figures; but whatever operation you take up must be
upon your own responsibility, and whatever you earn will be entirely
due to your own dash and forethought." For all that, it was always clear
what he intended me to do, and I was always careful to do it. Inside
of a month I was at the head of seventeen or eighteen thousand dollars,
college paper. And here I fell a victim to one of the vices of the
system. The paper (I have already explained) had a real value of one
per cent; and cost, and could be sold for, currency. Unsuccessful
speculators were thus always selling clothes, books, banjos, and
sleeve-links, in order to pay their differences; the successful, on the
other hand, were often tempted to realise, and enjoy some return upon
their profits. Now I wanted thirty dollars' worth of artist-truck, for
I was always sketching in the woods; my allowance was for the time
exhausted; I had begun to regard the exchange (with my father's help)
as a place where money was to be got for stooping; and in an evil hour
I realised three thousand dollars of the college paper and bought my

It was a Wednesday morning when the things arrived, and set me in
the seventh heaven of satisfaction. My father (for I can scarcely say
myself) was trying at this time a "straddle" in wheat between Chicago
and New York; the operation so called is, as you know, one of the
most tempting and least safe upon the chess-board of finance. On the
Thursday, luck began to turn against my father's calculations; and by
the Friday evening, I was posted on the boards as a defaulter for the
second time. Here was a rude blow: my father would have taken it ill
enough in any case; for however much a man may resent the incapacity of
an only son, he will feel his own more sensibly. But it chanced that, in
our bitter cup of failure, there was one ingredient that might truly be
called poisonous. He had been keeping the run of my position; he missed
the three thousand dollars, paper; and in his view, I had stolen thirty
dollars, currency. It was an extreme view perhaps; but in some senses,
it was just: and my father, although (to my judgment) quite reckless of
honesty in the essence of his operations, was the soul of honour as to
their details. I had one grieved letter from him, dignified and tender;
and during the rest of that wretched term, working as a clerk, selling
my clothes and sketches to make futile speculations, my dream of Paris
quite vanished. I was cheered by no word of kindness and helped by no
hint of counsel from my father.

All the time he was no doubt thinking of little else but his son, and
what to do with him. I believe he had been really appalled by what he
regarded as my laxity of principle, and began to think it might be
well to preserve me from temptation; the architect of the capitol had,
besides, spoken obligingly of my design; and while he was thus hanging
between two minds, Fortune suddenly stepped in, and Muskegon State
capitol reversed my destiny.

"Loudon," said my father, as he met me at the depot, with a smiling
countenance, "if you were to go to Paris, how long would it take you to
become an experienced sculptor?"

"How do you mean, father?" I cried. "Experienced?"

"A man that could be entrusted with the highest styles," he answered;
"the nude, for instance; and the patriotic and emblematical styles."

"It might take three years," I replied.

"You think Paris necessary?" he asked. "There are great advantages
in our own country; and that man Prodgers appears to be a very clever
sculptor, though I suppose he stands too high to go around giving

"Paris is the only place," I assured him.

"Well, I think myself it will sound better," he admitted. "A Young Man,
a Native of this State, Son of a Leading Citizen, Studies Prosecuted
under the Most Experienced Masters in Paris," he added, relishingly.

"But, my dear dad, what is it all about?" I interrupted. "I never even
dreamed of being a sculptor."

"Well, here it is," said he. "I took up the statuary contract on our new
capitol; I took it up at first as a deal; and then it occurred to me it
would be better to keep it in the family. It meets your idea; there's
considerable money in the thing; and it's patriotic. So, if you say the
word, you shall go to Paris, and come back in three years to decorate
the capitol of your native State. It's a big chance for you, Loudon; and
I'll tell you what--every dollar you earn, I'll put another alongside of
it. But the sooner you go, and the harder you work, the better; for
if the first half-dozen statues aren't in a line with public taste in
Muskegon, there will be trouble."






My mother's family was Scotch, and it was judged fitting I should pay a
visit on my way Paris-ward, to my Uncle Adam Loudon, a wealthy retired
grocer of Edinburgh. He was very stiff and very ironical; he fed me
well, lodged me sumptuously, and seemed to take it out of me all the
time, cent per cent, in secret entertainment which caused his spectacles
to glitter and his mouth to twitch. The ground of this ill-suppressed
mirth (as well as I could make out) was simply the fact that I was an
American. "Well," he would say, drawing out the word to infinity, "and
I suppose now in your country, things will be so and so." And the whole
group of my cousins would titter joyously. Repeated receptions of
this sort must be at the root, I suppose, of what they call the Great
American Jest; and I know I was myself goaded into saying that my
friends went naked in the summer months, and that the Second Methodist
Episcopal Church in Muskegon was decorated with scalps. I cannot say
that these flights had any great success; they seemed to awaken little
more surprise than the fact that my father was a Republican or that I
had been taught in school to spell COLOUR without the U. If I had
told them (what was after all the truth) that my father had paid a
considerable annual sum to have me brought up in a gambling hell, the
tittering and grinning of this dreadful family might perhaps have been

I cannot deny but I was sometimes tempted to knock my Uncle Adam down;
and indeed I believe it must have come to a rupture at last, if they had
not given a dinner party at which I was the lion. On this occasion, I
learned (to my surprise and relief) that the incivility to which I had
been subjected was a matter for the family circle and might be regarded
almost in the light of an endearment. To strangers I was presented with
consideration; and the account given of "my American brother-in-law,
poor Janie's man, James K. Dodd, the well-known millionnaire of
Muskegon," was calculated to enlarge the heart of a proud son.

An aged assistant of my grandfather's, a pleasant, humble creature with
a taste for whiskey, was at first deputed to be my guide about the city.
With this harmless but hardly aristocratic companion, I went to Arthur's
Seat and the Calton Hill, heard the band play in the Princes Street
Gardens, inspected the regalia and the blood of Rizzio, and fell in love
with the great castle on its cliff, the innumerable spires of churches,
the stately buildings, the broad prospects, and those narrow and crowded
lanes of the old town where my ancestors had lived and died in the days
before Columbus.

But there was another curiosity that interested me more deeply--my
grandfather, Alexander Loudon. In his time, the old gentleman had been a
working mason, and had risen from the ranks more, I think, by shrewdness
than by merit. In his appearance, speech, and manners, he bore broad
marks of his origin, which were gall and wormwood to my Uncle Adam.
His nails, in spite of anxious supervision, were often in conspicuous
mourning; his clothes hung about him in bags and wrinkles like a
ploughman's Sunday coat; his accent was rude, broad, and dragging: take
him at his best, and even when he could be induced to hold his tongue,
his mere presence in a corner of the drawing-room, with his open-air
wrinkles, his scanty hair, his battered hands, and the cheerful
craftiness of his expression, advertised the whole gang of us for a
self-made family. My aunt might mince and my cousins bridle; but there
was no getting over the solid, physical fact of the stonemason in the

That is one advantage of being an American: it never occurred to me to
be ashamed of my grandfather, and the old gentleman was quick to mark
the difference. He held my mother in tender memory, perhaps because
he was in the habit of daily contrasting her with Uncle Adam, whom he
detested to the point of frenzy; and he set down to inheritance from
his favourite my own becoming treatment of himself. On our walks abroad,
which soon became daily, he would sometimes (after duly warning me
to keep the matter dark from "Aadam") skulk into some old familiar
pot-house; and there (if he had the luck to encounter any of his veteran
cronies) he would present me to the company with manifest pride, casting
at the same time a covert slur on the rest of his descendants. "This is
my Jeannie's yin," he would say. "He's a fine fallow, him." The purpose
of our excursions was not to seek antiquities or to enjoy famous
prospects, but to visit one after another a series of doleful suburbs,
for which it was the old gentleman's chief claim to renown that he had
been the sole contractor, and too often the architect besides. I have
rarely seen a more shocking exhibition: the bricks seemed to be blushing
in the walls, and the slates on the roof to have turned pale with shame;
but I was careful not to communicate these impressions to the aged
artificer at my side; and when he would direct my attention to some
fresh monstrosity--perhaps with the comment, "There's an idee of mine's:
it's cheap and tasty, and had a graand run; the idee was soon stole, and
there's whole deestricts near Glesgie with the goathic adeetion and
that plunth,"--I would civilly make haste to admire and (what I found
particularly delighted him) to inquire into the cost of each adornment.
It will be conceived that Muskegon capitol was a frequent and a welcome
ground of talk; I drew him all the plans from memory; and he, with the
aid of a narrow volume full of figures and tables, which answered
(I believe) to the name of Molesworth, and was his constant pocket
companion, would draw up rough estimates and make imaginary offers on
the various contracts. Our Muskegon builders he pronounced a pack of
cormorants; and the congenial subject, together with my knowledge of
architectural terms, the theory of strains, and the prices of materials
in the States, formed a strong bond of union between what might have
been otherwise an ill-assorted pair, and led my grandfather to pronounce
me, with emphasis, "a real intalligent kind of a cheild." Thus a second
time, as you will presently see, the capitol of my native State had
influentially affected the current of my life.

I left Edinburgh, however, with not the least idea that I had done a
stroke of excellent business for myself, and singly delighted to escape
out of a somewhat dreary house and plunge instead into the rainbow city
of Paris. Every man has his own romance; mine clustered exclusively
about the practice of the arts, the life of Latin Quarter students, and
the world of Paris as depicted by that grimy wizard, the author of the
_Comedie Humaine_. I was not disappointed--I could not have been; for
I did not see the facts, I brought them with me ready-made. Z. Marcas
lived next door to me in my ungainly, ill-smelling hotel of the Rue
Racine; I dined at my villainous restaurant with Lousteau and with
Rastignac: if a curricle nearly ran me down at a street-crossing, Maxime
de Trailles would be the driver. I dined, I say, at a poor restaurant
and lived in a poor hotel; and this was not from need, but sentiment.
My father gave me a profuse allowance, and I might have lived (had I
chosen) in the Quartier de l'Etoile and driven to my studies daily.
Had I done so, the glamour must have fled: I should still have been
but Loudon Dodd; whereas now I was a Latin Quarter student, Murger's
successor, living in flesh and blood the life of one of those romances
I had loved to read, to re-read, and to dream over, among the woods of

At this time we were all a little Murger-mad in the Latin Quarter.
The play of the _Vie de Boheme_ (a dreary, snivelling piece) had been
produced at the Odeon, had run an unconscionable time--for Paris, and
revived the freshness of the legend. The same business, you may say,
or there and thereabout, was being privately enacted in consequence in
every garret of the neighbourhood, and a good third of the students
were consciously impersonating Rodolphe or Schaunard to their own
incommunicable satisfaction. Some of us went far, and some farther. I
always looked with awful envy (for instance) on a certain countryman of
my own who had a studio in the Rue Monsieur le Prince, wore boots, and
long hair in a net, and could be seen tramping off, in this guise, to
the worst eating-house of the quarter, followed by a Corsican model, his
mistress, in the conspicuous costume of her race and calling. It takes
some greatness of soul to carry even folly to such heights as these; and
for my own part, I had to content myself by pretending very arduously
to be poor, by wearing a smoking-cap on the streets, and by pursuing,
through a series of misadventures, that extinct mammal, the grisette.
The most grievous part was the eating and the drinking. I was born with
a dainty tooth and a palate for wine; and only a genuine devotion to
romance could have supported me under the cat-civets that I had to
swallow, and the red ink of Bercy I must wash them down withal. Every
now and again, after a hard day at the studio, where I was steadily and
far from unsuccessfully industrious, a wave of distaste would overbear
me; I would slink away from my haunts and companions, indemnify myself
for weeks of self-denial with fine wines and dainty dishes; seated
perhaps on a terrace, perhaps in an arbour in a garden, with a volume
of one of my favourite authors propped open in front of me, and now
consulted awhile, and now forgotten:--so remain, relishing my situation,
till night fell and the lights of the city kindled; and thence stroll
homeward by the riverside, under the moon or stars, in a heaven of
poetry and digestion.

One such indulgence led me in the course of my second year into an
adventure which I must relate: indeed, it is the very point I have been
aiming for, since that was what brought me in acquaintance with Jim
Pinkerton. I sat down alone to dinner one October day when the rusty
leaves were falling and scuttling on the boulevard, and the minds of
impressionable men inclined in about an equal degree towards sadness
and conviviality. The restaurant was no great place, but boasted a
considerable cellar and a long printed list of vintages. This I was
perusing with the double zest of a man who is fond of wine and a lover
of beautiful names, when my eye fell (near the end of the card) on that
not very famous or familiar brand, Roussillon. I remembered it was a
wine I had never tasted, ordered a bottle, found it excellent, and when
I had discussed the contents, called (according to my habit) for a final
pint. It appears they did not keep Roussillon in half-bottles. "All
right," said I. "Another bottle." The tables at this eating-house are
close together; and the next thing I can remember, I was in somewhat
loud conversation with my nearest neighbours. From these I must have
gradually extended my attentions; for I have a clear recollection of
gazing about a room in which every chair was half turned round and every
face turned smilingly to mine. I can even remember what I was saying at
the moment; but after twenty years, the embers of shame are still alive;
and I prefer to give your imagination the cue, by simply mentioning that
my muse was the patriotic. It had been my design to adjourn for coffee
in the company of some of these new friends; but I was no sooner on
the sidewalk than I found myself unaccountably alone. The circumstance
scarce surprised me at the time, much less now; but I was somewhat
chagrined a little after to find I had walked into a kiosque. I began to
wonder if I were any the worse for my last bottle, and decided to steady
myself with coffee and brandy. In the Cafe de la Source, where I went
for this restorative, the fountain was playing, and (what greatly
surprised me) the mill and the various mechanical figures on the rockery
appeared to have been freshly repaired and performed the most enchanting
antics. The cafe was extraordinarily hot and bright, with every detail
of a conspicuous clearness, from the faces of the guests to the type of
the newspapers on the tables, and the whole apartment swang to and fro
like a hammock, with an exhilarating motion. For some while I was so
extremely pleased with these particulars that I thought I could never
be weary of beholding them: then dropped of a sudden into a causeless
sadness; and then, with the same swiftness and spontaneity, arrived at
the conclusion that I was drunk and had better get to bed.

It was but a step or two to my hotel, where I got my lighted candle from
the porter and mounted the four flights to my own room. Although I could
not deny that I was drunk, I was at the same time lucidly rational and
practical. I had but one preoccupation--to be up in time on the morrow
for my work; and when I observed the clock on my chimney-piece to have
stopped, I decided to go down stairs again and give directions to the
porter. Leaving the candle burning and my door open, to be a guide to me
on my return, I set forth accordingly. The house was quite dark; but as
there were only the three doors on each landing, it was impossible to
wander, and I had nothing to do but descend the stairs until I saw the
glimmer of the porter's night light. I counted four flights: no porter.
It was possible, of course, that I had reckoned incorrectly; so I went
down another and another, and another, still counting as I went, until
I had reached the preposterous figure of nine flights. It was now quite
clear that I had somehow passed the porter's lodge without remarking
it; indeed, I was, at the lowest figure, five pairs of stairs below
the street, and plunged in the very bowels of the earth. That my hotel
should thus be founded upon catacombs was a discovery of considerable
interest; and if I had not been in a frame of mind entirely
businesslike, I might have continued to explore all night this
subterranean empire. But I was bound I must be up betimes on the next
morning, and for that end it was imperative that I should find the
porter. I faced about accordingly, and counting with painful care,
remounted towards the level of the street. Five, six, and seven flights
I climbed, and still there was no porter. I began to be weary of the
job, and reflecting that I was now close to my own room, decided I
should go to bed. Eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen flights
I mounted; and my open door seemed to be as wholly lost to me as the
porter and his floating dip. I remembered that the house stood but
six stories at its highest point, from which it appeared (on the most
moderate computation) I was now three stories higher than the roof. My
original sense of amusement was succeeded by a not unnatural irritation.
"My room has just GOT to be here," said I, and I stepped towards the
door with outspread arms. There was no door and no wall; in place of
either there yawned before me a dark corridor, in which I continued to
advance for some time without encountering the smallest opposition. And
this in a house whose extreme area scantily contained three small rooms,
a narrow landing, and the stair! The thing was manifestly nonsense;
and you will scarcely be surprised to learn that I now began to lose
my temper. At this juncture I perceived a filtering of light along
the floor, stretched forth my hand which encountered the knob of a
door-handle, and without further ceremony entered a room. A young lady
was within; she was going to bed, and her toilet was far advanced, or
the other way about, if you prefer.

"I hope you will pardon this intrusion," said I; "but my room is No. 12,
and something has gone wrong with this blamed house."

She looked at me a moment; and then, "If you will step outside for a
moment, I will take you there," says she.

Thus, with perfect composure on both sides, the matter was arranged.
I waited a while outside her door. Presently she rejoined me, in a
dressing-gown, took my hand, led me up another flight, which made the
fourth above the level of the roof, and shut me into my own room, where
(being quite weary after these contraordinary explorations) I turned in,
and slumbered like a child.

I tell you the thing calmly, as it appeared to me to pass; but the next
day, when I awoke and put memory in the witness-box, I could not conceal
from myself that the tale presented a good many improbable features.
I had no mind for the studio, after all, and went instead to the
Luxembourg gardens, there, among the sparrows and the statues and the
falling leaves, to cool and clear my head. It is a garden I have always
loved. You sit there in a public place of history and fiction. Barras
and Fouche have looked from these windows. Lousteau and de Banville (one
as real as the other) have rhymed upon these benches. The city tramples
by without the railings to a lively measure; and within and about you,
trees rustle, children and sparrows utter their small cries, and the
statues look on forever. Here, then, in a seat opposite the gallery
entrance, I set to work on the events of the last night, to disengage
(if it were possible) truth from fiction.

The house, by daylight, had proved to be six stories high, the same as
ever. I could find, with all my architectural experience, no room in its
altitude for those interminable stairways, no width between its walls
for that long corridor, where I had tramped at night. And there was yet
a greater difficulty. I had read somewhere an aphorism that everything
may be false to itself save human nature. A house might elongate or
enlarge itself--or seem to do so to a gentleman who had been dining.
The ocean might dry up, the rocks melt in the sun, the stars fall from
heaven like autumn apples; and there was nothing in these incidents
to boggle the philosopher. But the case of the young lady stood upon a
different foundation. Girls were not good enough, or not good that way,
or else they were too good. I was ready to accept any of these views:
all pointed to the same conclusion, which I was thus already on the
point of reaching, when a fresh argument occurred, and instantly
confirmed it. I could remember the exact words we had each said; and I
had spoken, and she had replied, in English. Plainly, then, the whole
affair was an illusion: catacombs, and stairs, and charitable lady, all
were equally the stuff of dreams.

I had just come to this determination, when there blew a flaw of wind
through the autumnal gardens; the dead leaves showered down, and a
flight of sparrows, thick as a snowfall, wheeled above my head with
sudden pipings. This agreeable bustle was the affair of a moment, but it
startled me from the abstraction into which I had fallen like a summons.
I sat briskly up, and as I did so, my eyes rested on the figure of a
lady in a brown jacket and carrying a paint-box. By her side walked a
fellow some years older than myself, with an easel under his arm; and
alike by their course and cargo I might judge they were bound for the
gallery, where the lady was, doubtless, engaged upon some copying.
You can imagine my surprise when I recognized in her the heroine of my
adventure. To put the matter beyond question, our eyes met, and she,
seeing herself remembered and recalling the trim in which I had
last beheld her, looked swiftly on the ground with just a shadow of

I could not tell you to-day if she were plain or pretty; but she had
behaved with so much good sense, and I had cut so poor a figure in
her presence, that I became instantly fired with the desire to display
myself in a more favorable light. The young man besides was possibly her
brother; brothers are apt to be hasty, theirs being a part in which
it is possible, at a comparatively early age, to assume the dignity
of manhood; and it occurred to me it might be wise to forestall all
possible complications by an apology.

On this reasoning I drew near to the gallery door, and had hardly got in
position before the young man came out. Thus it was that I came face to
face with my third destiny; for my career has been entirely shaped
by these three elements,--my father, the capitol of Muskegon, and my
friend, Jim Pinkerton. As for the young lady with whom my mind was at
the moment chiefly occupied, I was never to hear more of her from that
day forward: an excellent example of the Blind Man's Buff that we call






The stranger, I have said, was some years older than myself: a man of a
good stature, a very lively face, cordial, agitated manners, and a gray
eye as active as a fowl's.

"May I have a word with you?" said I.

"My dear sir," he replied, "I don't know what it can be about, but you
may have a hundred if you like."

"You have just left the side of a young lady," I continued, "towards
whom I was led (very unintentionally) into the appearance of an offence.
To speak to herself would be only to renew her embarrassment, and I
seize the occasion of making my apology, and declaring my respect, to
one of my own sex who is her friend, and perhaps," I added, with a bow,
"her natural protector."

"You are a countryman of mine; I know it!" he cried: "I am sure of it
by your delicacy to a lady. You do her no more than justice. I was
introduced to her the other night at tea, in the apartment of some
people, friends of mine; and meeting her again this morning, I could not
do less than carry her easel for her. My dear sir, what is your name?"

I was disappointed to find he had so little bond with my young lady;
and but that it was I who had sought the acquaintance, might have been
tempted to retreat. At the same time, something in the stranger's eye
engaged me.

"My name," said I, "is Loudon Dodd; I am a student of sculpture here
from Muskegon."

"Of sculpture?" he cried, as though that would have been his last
conjecture. "Mine is James Pinkerton; I am delighted to have the
pleasure of your acquaintance."

"Pinkerton!" it was now my turn to exclaim. "Are you Broken-Stool

He admitted his identity with a laugh of boyish delight; and indeed any
young man in the quarter might have been proud to own a sobriquet thus
gallantly acquired.

In order to explain the name, I must here digress into a chapter of
the history of manners in the nineteenth century, very well worth
commemoration for its own sake. In some of the studios at that date,
the hazing of new pupils was both barbarous and obscene. Two incidents,
following one on the heels of the other tended to produce an advance in
civilization by the means (as so commonly happens) of a passing appeal
to savage standards. The first was the arrival of a little gentleman
from Armenia. He had a fez upon his head and (what nobody counted on) a
dagger in his pocket. The hazing was set about in the customary style,
and, perhaps in virtue of the victim's head-gear, even more boisterously
than usual. He bore it at first with an inviting patience; but upon one
of the students proceeding to an unpardonable freedom, plucked out
his knife and suddenly plunged it in the belly of the jester. This
gentleman, I am pleased to say, passed months upon a bed of sickness,
before he was in a position to resume his studies. The second incident
was that which had earned Pinkerton his reputation. In a crowded studio,
while some very filthy brutalities were being practised on a trembling
debutant, a tall, pale fellow sprang from his stool and (without the
smallest preface or explanation) sang out, "All English and Americans to
clear the shop!" Our race is brutal, but not filthy; and the summons
was nobly responded to. Every Anglo-Saxon student seized his stool; in
a moment the studio was full of bloody coxcombs, the French fleeing in
disorder for the door, the victim liberated and amazed. In this feat of
arms, both English-speaking nations covered themselves with glory;
but I am proud to claim the author of the whole for an American, and
a patriotic American at that, being the same gentleman who had
subsequently to be held down in the bottom of a box during a performance
of _L'Oncle Sam_, sobbing at intervals, "My country! O my country!"
While yet another (my new acquaintance, Pinkerton) was supposed to have
made the most conspicuous figure in the actual battle. At one blow, he
had broken his own stool, and sent the largest of his opponents back
foremost through what we used to call a "conscientious nude." It appears
that, in the continuation of his flight, this fallen warrior issued on
the boulevard still framed in the burst canvas.

It will be understood how much talk the incident aroused in the
students' quarter, and that I was highly gratified to make the
acquaintance of my famous countryman. It chanced I was to see more of
the quixotic side of his character before the morning was done; for as
we continued to stroll together, I found myself near the studio of a
young Frenchman whose work I had promised to examine, and in the fashion
of the quarter carried up Pinkerton along with me. Some of my comrades
of this date were pretty obnoxious fellows. I could almost always admire
and respect the grown-up practitioners of art in Paris; but many of
those who were still in a state of pupilage were sorry specimens, so
much so that I used often to wonder where the painters came from, and
where the brutes of students went to. A similar mystery hangs over the
intermediate stages of the medical profession, and must have perplexed
the least observant. The ruffian, at least, whom I now carried Pinkerton
to visit, was one of the most crapulous in the quarter. He turned
out for our delectation a huge "crust" (as we used to call it) of St.
Stephen, wallowing in red upon his belly in an exhausted receiver, and
a crowd of Hebrews in blue, green, and yellow, pelting him--apparently
with buns; and while we gazed upon this contrivance, regaled us with
a piece of his own recent biography, of which his mind was still very
full, and which he seemed to fancy, represented him in a heroic posture.
I was one of those cosmopolitan Americans, who accept the world (whether
at home or abroad) as they find it, and whose favourite part is that
of the spectator; yet even I was listening with ill-suppressed disgust,
when I was aware of a violent plucking at my sleeve.

"Is he saying he kicked her down stairs?" asked Pinkerton, white as St.

"Yes," said I: "his discarded mistress; and then he pelted her with
stones. I suppose that's what gave him the idea for his picture. He has
just been alleging the pathetic excuse that she was old enough to be his

Something like a sob broke from Pinkerton. "Tell him," he gasped--"I
can't speak this language, though I understand a little; I never had any
proper education--tell him I'm going to punch his head."

"For God's sake, do nothing of the sort!" I cried. "They don't
understand that sort of thing here." And I tried to bundle him out.

"Tell him first what we think of him," he objected. "Let me tell him
what he looks in the eyes of a pure-minded American"

"Leave that to me," said I, thrusting Pinkerton clear through the door.

"Qu'est-ce qu'il a?"[1] inquired the student.

[1] "What's the matter with him?"

"Monsieur se sent mal au coeur d'avoir trop regarde votre croute,"[2]
said I, and made my escape, scarce with dignity, at Pinkerton's heels.

[2] "The gentleman is sick at his stomach from having looked too long at
your daub."

"What did you say to him?" he asked.

"The only thing that he could feel," was my reply.

After this scene, the freedom with which I had ejected my new
acquaintance, and the precipitation with which I had followed him, the
least I could do was to propose luncheon. I have forgot the name of the
place to which I led him, nothing loath; it was on the far side of the
Luxembourg at least, with a garden behind, where we were speedily set
face to face at table, and began to dig into each other's history
and character, like terriers after rabbits, according to the approved
fashion of youth.

Pinkerton's parents were from the old country; there too, I incidentally
gathered, he had himself been born, though it was a circumstance he
seemed prone to forget. Whether he had run away, or his father had
turned him out, I never fathomed; but about the age of twelve, he was
thrown upon his own resources. A travelling tin-type photographer picked
him up, like a haw out of a hedgerow, on a wayside in New Jersey; took
a fancy to the urchin; carried him on with him in his wandering life;
taught him all he knew himself--to take tin-types (as well as I can make
out) and doubt the Scriptures; and died at last in Ohio at the corner
of a road. "He was a grand specimen," cried Pinkerton; "I wish you could
have seen him, Mr. Dodd. He had an appearance of magnanimity that used
to remind me of the patriarchs." On the death of this random protector,
the boy inherited the plant and continued the business. "It was a life
I could have chosen, Mr. Dodd!" he cried. "I have been in all the finest
scenes of that magnificent continent that we were born to be the heirs
of. I wish you could see my collection of tin-types; I wish I had them
here. They were taken for my own pleasure and to be a memento; and they
show Nature in her grandest as well as her gentlest moments." As he
tramped the Western States and Territories, taking tin-types, the boy
was continually getting hold of books, good, bad, and indifferent,
popular and abstruse, from the novels of Sylvanus Cobb to Euclid's
Elements, both of which I found (to my almost equal wonder) he had
managed to peruse: he was taking stock by the way, of the people, the
products, and the country, with an eye unusually observant and a
memory unusually retentive; and he was collecting for himself a body of
magnanimous and semi-intellectual nonsense, which he supposed to be the
natural thoughts and to contain the whole duty of the born American.
To be pure-minded, to be patriotic, to get culture and money with both
hands and with the same irrational fervour--these appeared to be the
chief articles of his creed. In later days (not of course upon this
first occasion) I would sometimes ask him why; and he had his answer
pat. "To build up the type!" he would cry. "We're all committed to that;
we're all under bond to fulfil the American Type! Loudon, the hope of
the world is there. If we fail, like these old feudal monarchies, what
is left?"

The trade of a tin-typer proved too narrow for the lad's ambition; it
was insusceptible of expansion, he explained, it was not truly modern;
and by a sudden conversion of front, he became a railroad-scalper. The
principles of this trade I never clearly understood; but its essence
appears to be to cheat the railroads out of their due fare. "I threw my
whole soul into it; I grudged myself food and sleep while I was at it;
the most practised hands admitted I had caught on to the idea in a month
and revolutionised the practice inside of a year," he said. "And there's
interest in it, too. It's amusing to pick out some one going by, make up
your mind about his character and tastes, dash out of the office and hit
him flying with an offer of the very place he wants to go to. I don't
think there was a scalper on the continent made fewer blunders. But I
took it only as a stage. I was saving every dollar; I was looking
ahead. I knew what I wanted--wealth, education, a refined home, and a
conscientious, cultured lady for a wife; for, Mr. Dodd"--this with
a formidable outcry--"every man is bound to marry above him: if the
woman's not the man's superior, I brand it as mere sensuality. There was
my idea, at least. That was what I was saving for; and enough, too! But
it isn't every man, I know that--it's far from every man--could do what
I did: close up the livest agency in Saint Jo, where he was coining
dollars by the pot, set out alone, without a friend or a word of French,
and settle down here to spend his capital learning art."

"Was it an old taste?" I asked him, "or a sudden fancy?"

"Neither, Mr. Dodd," he admitted. "Of course I had learned in my
tin-typing excursions to glory and exult in the works of God. But it
wasn't that. I just said to myself, What is most wanted in my age and
country? More culture and more art, I said; and I chose the best place,
saved my money, and came here to get them."

The whole attitude of this young man warmed and shamed me. He had more
fire in his little toe than I had in my whole carcase; he was stuffed to
bursting with the manly virtues; thrift and courage glowed in him; and
even if his artistic vocation seemed (to one of my exclusive tenets) not
quite clear, who could predict what might be accomplished by a creature
so full-blooded and so inspired with animal and intellectual energy? So,
when he proposed that I should come and see his work (one of the regular
stages of a Latin Quarter friendship), I followed him with interest and

He lodged parsimoniously at the top of a tall house near the
Observatory, in a bare room, principally furnished with his own trunks
and papered with his own despicable studies. No man has less taste for
disagreeable duties than myself; perhaps there is only one subject on
which I cannot flatter a man without a blush; but upon that, upon all
that touches art, my sincerity is Roman. Once and twice I made the
circuit of his walls in silence, spying in every corner for some spark
of merit; he, meanwhile, following close at my heels, reading the
verdict in my face with furtive glances, presenting some fresh study for
my inspection with undisguised anxiety, and (after it had been silently
weighed in the balances and found wanting) whisking it away with an open
gesture of despair. By the time the second round was completed, we were
both extremely depressed.

"O!" he groaned, breaking the long silence, "it's quite unnecessary you
should speak!"

"Do you want me to be frank with you? I think you are wasting time,"
said I.

"You don't see any promise?" he inquired, beguiled by some return of
hope, and turning upon me the embarrassing brightness of his eye. "Not
in this still-life here, of the melon? One fellow thought it good."

It was the least I could do to give the melon a more particular
examination; which, when I had done, I could but shake my head. "I am
truly sorry, Pinkerton," said I, "but I can't advise you to persevere."

He seemed to recover his fortitude at the moment, rebounding from
disappointment like a man of india-rubber. "Well," said he stoutly, "I
don't know that I'm surprised. But I'll go on with the course; and throw
my whole soul into it, too. You mustn't think the time is lost. It's all
culture; it will help me to extend my relations when I get back home;
it may fit me for a position on one of the illustrateds; and then I can
always turn dealer," he said, uttering the monstrous proposition,
which was enough to shake the Latin Quarter to the dust, with entire
simplicity. "It's all experience, besides;" he continued, "and it seems
to me there's a tendency to underrate experience, both as net profit and
investment. Never mind. That's done with. But it took courage for you
to say what you did, and I'll never forget it. Here's my hand, Mr. Dodd.
I'm not your equal in culture or talent--"

"You know nothing about that," I interrupted. "I have seen your work,
but you haven't seen mine.

"No more I have," he cried; "and let's go see it at once! But I know you
are away up. I can feel it here."

To say truth, I was almost ashamed to introduce him to my studio--my
work, whether absolutely good or bad, being so vastly superior to his.
But his spirits were now quite restored; and he amazed me, on the way,
with his light-hearted talk and new projects. So that I began at last
to understand how matters lay: that this was not an artist who had been
deprived of the practice of his single art; but only a business man
of very extended interests, informed (perhaps something of the most
suddenly) that one investment out of twenty had gone wrong.

As a matter of fact besides (although I never suspected it) he was
already seeking consolation with another of the muses, and pleasing
himself with the notion that he would repay me for my sincerity, cement
our friendship, and (at one and the same blow) restore my estimation of
his talents. Several times already, when I had been speaking of myself,
he had pulled out a writing-pad and scribbled a brief note; and now,
when we entered the studio, I saw it in his hand again, and the
pencil go to his mouth, as he cast a comprehensive glance round the
uncomfortable building.

"Are you going to make a sketch of it?" I could not help asking, as I
unveiled the Genius of Muskegon.

"Ah, that's my secret," said he. "Never you mind. A mouse can help a

He walked round my statue and had the design explained to him. I had
represented Muskegon as a young, almost a stripling, mother, with
something of an Indian type; the babe upon her knees was winged, to
indicate our soaring future; and her seat was a medley of sculptured
fragments, Greek, Roman, and Gothic, to remind us of the older worlds
from which we trace our generation.

"Now, does this satisfy you, Mr. Dodd?" he inquired, as soon as I had
explained to him the main features of the design.

"Well," I said, "the fellows seem to think it's not a bad bonne femme
for a beginner. I don't think it's entirely bad myself. Here is the best
point; it builds up best from here. No, it seems to me it has a kind of
merit," I admitted; "but I mean to do better."

"Ah, that's the word!" cried Pinkerton. "There's the word I love!" and
he scribbled in his pad.

"What in creation ails you?" I inquired. "It's the most commonplace
expression in the English language."

"Better and better!" chuckled Pinkerton. "The unconsciousness of genius.
Lord, but this is coming in beautiful!" and he scribbled again.

"If you're going to be fulsome," said I, "I'll close the place of
entertainment." And I threatened to replace the veil upon the Genius.

"No, no," said he. "Don't be in a hurry. Give me a point or two. Show me
what's particularly good."

"I would rather you found that out for yourself," said I.

"The trouble is," said he, "that I've never turned my attention to
sculpture, beyond, of course, admiring it, as everybody must who has a
soul. So do just be a good fellow, and explain to me what you like in
it, and what you tried for, and where the merit comes in. It'll be all
education for me."

"Well, in sculpture, you see, the first thing you have to consider
is the masses. It's, after all, a kind of architecture," I began, and
delivered a lecture on that branch of art, with illustrations from
my own masterpiece there present, all of which, if you don't mind,
or whether you mind or not, I mean to conscientiously omit. Pinkerton
listened with a fiery interest, questioned me with a certain
uncultivated shrewdness, and continued to scratch down notes, and tear
fresh sheets from his pad. I found it inspiring to have my words thus
taken down like a professor's lecture; and having had no previous
experience of the press, I was unaware that they were all being taken
down wrong. For the same reason (incredible as it must appear in
an American) I never entertained the least suspicion that they were
destined to be dished up with a sauce of penny-a-lining gossip; and
myself, my person, and my works of art butchered to make a holiday
for the readers of a Sunday paper. Night had fallen over the Genius of
Muskegon before the issue of my theoretic eloquence was stayed, nor did
I separate from my new friend without an appointment for the morrow.

I was indeed greatly taken with this first view of my countryman,
and continued, on further acquaintance, to be interested, amused, and
attracted by him in about equal proportions. I must not say he had a
fault, not only because my mouth is sealed by gratitude, but because
those he had sprang merely from his education, and you could see he had
cultivated and improved them like virtues. For all that, I can never
deny he was a troublous friend to me, and the trouble began early.

It may have been a fortnight later that I divined the secret of the
writing-pad. My wretch (it leaked out) wrote letters for a paper in the
West, and had filled a part of one of them with descriptions of myself.
I pointed out to him that he had no right to do so without asking my

"Why, this is just what I hoped!" he exclaimed. "I thought you didn't
seem to catch on; only it seemed too good to be true."

"But, my good fellow, you were bound to warn me," I objected.

"I know it's generally considered etiquette," he admitted; "but between
friends, and when it was only with a view of serving you, I thought it
wouldn't matter. I wanted it (if possible) to come on you as a surprise;
I wanted you just to waken, like Lord Byron, and find the papers full of
you. You must admit it was a natural thought. And no man likes to boast
of a favour beforehand."

"But, heavens and earth! how do you know I think it a favour?" I cried.

He became immediately plunged in despair. "You think it a liberty," said
he; "I see that. I would rather have cut off my hand. I would stop it
now, only it's too late; it's published by now. And I wrote it with so
much pride and pleasure!"

I could think of nothing but how to console him. "O, I daresay it's all
right," said I. "I know you meant it kindly, and you would be sure to do
it in good taste."

"That you may swear to," he cried. "It's a pure, bright, A number 1
paper; the St. Jo _Sunday Herald_. The idea of the series was quite my
own; I interviewed the editor, put it to him straight; the freshness of
the idea took him, and I walked out of that office with the contract in
my pocket, and did my first Paris letter that evening in Saint Jo. The
editor did no more than glance his eye down the headlines. 'You're the
man for us,' said he."

I was certainly far from reassured by this sketch of the class of
literature in which I was to make my first appearance; but I said no
more, and possessed my soul in patience, until the day came when I
received a copy of a newspaper marked in the corner, "Compliments of
J.P." I opened it with sensible shrinkings; and there, wedged between an
account of a prize-fight and a skittish article upon chiropody--think of
chiropody treated with a leer!--I came upon a column and a half in which
myself and my poor statue were embalmed. Like the editor with the first
of the series, I did but glance my eye down the head-lines and was more
than satisfied.







In the body of the text, besides, my eye caught, as it passed, some
deadly expressions: "Figure somewhat fleshy," "bright, intellectual
smile," "the unconsciousness of genius," "'Now, Mr. Dodd,' resumed the
reporter, 'what would be your idea of a distinctively American quality
in sculpture?'" It was true the question had been asked; it was true,
alas! that I had answered; and now here was my reply, or some strange
hash of it, gibbeted in the cold publicity of type. I thanked God that
my French fellow-students were ignorant of English; but when I thought
of the British--of Myner (for instance) or the Stennises--I think I
could have fallen on Pinkerton and beat him.

To divert my thoughts (if it were possible) from this calamity, I turned
to a letter from my father which had arrived by the same post. The
envelope contained a strip of newspaper-cutting; and my eye caught
again, "Son of Millionaire Dodd--Figure somewhat fleshy," and the rest
of the degrading nonsense. What would my father think of it? I wondered,
and opened his manuscript. "My dearest boy," it began, "I send you a
cutting which has pleased me very much, from a St. Joseph paper of
high standing. At last you seem to be coming fairly to the front; and
I cannot but reflect with delight and gratitude how very few youths of
your age occupy nearly two columns of press-matter all to themselves.
I only wish your dear mother had been here to read it over my shoulder;
but we will hope she shares my grateful emotion in a better place. Of
course I have sent a copy to your grandfather and uncle in Edinburgh;
so you can keep the one I enclose. This Jim Pinkerton seems a valuable
acquaintance; he has certainly great talent; and it is a good general
rule to keep in with pressmen."

I hope it will be set down to the right side of my account, but I had
no sooner read these words, so touchingly silly, than my anger against
Pinkerton was swallowed up in gratitude. Of all the circumstances of my
career, my birth, perhaps, excepted, not one had given my poor father so
profound a pleasure as this article in the _Sunday Herald_. What a fool,
then, was I, to be lamenting! when I had at last, and for once, and
at the cost of only a few blushes, paid back a fraction of my debt
of gratitude. So that, when I next met Pinkerton, I took things very
lightly; my father was pleased, and thought the letter very clever, I
told him; for my own part, I had no taste for publicity: thought the
public had no concern with the artist, only with his art; and though I
owned he had handled it with great consideration, I should take it as a
favour if he never did it again.

"There it is," he said despondingly. "I've hurt you. You can't deceive
me, Loudon. It's the want of tact, and it's incurable." He sat down, and
leaned his head upon his hand. "I had no advantages when I was young,
you see," he added.

"Not in the least, my dear fellow," said I. "Only the next time you wish
to do me a service, just speak about my work; leave my wretched person
out, and my still more wretched conversation; and above all," I added,
with an irrepressible shudder, "don't tell them how I said it! There's
that phrase, now: 'With a proud, glad smile.' Who cares whether I smiled
or not?"

"Oh, there now, Loudon, you're entirely wrong," he broke in. "That's
what the public likes; that's the merit of the thing, the literary
value. It's to call up the scene before them; it's to enable the
humblest citizen to enjoy that afternoon the same as I did. Think what
it would have been to me when I was tramping around with my tin-types to
find a column and a half of real, cultured conversation--an artist, in
his studio abroad, talking of his art--and to know how he looked as he
did it, and what the room was like, and what he had for breakfast; and
to tell myself, eating tinned beans beside a creek, that if all went
well, the same sort of thing would, sooner or later, happen to myself:
why, Loudon, it would have been like a peephole into heaven!"

"Well, if it gives so much pleasure," I admitted, "the sufferers
shouldn't complain. Only give the other fellows a turn."

The end of the matter was to bring myself and the journalist in a more
close relation. If I know anything at all of human nature--and the IF
is no mere figure of speech, but stands for honest doubt--no series
of benefits conferred, or even dangers shared, would have so rapidly
confirmed our friendship as this quarrel avoided, this fundamental
difference of taste and training accepted and condoned.






Whether it came from my training and repeated bankruptcy at the
commercial college, or by direct inheritance from old Loudon, the
Edinburgh mason, there can be no doubt about the fact that I was
thrifty. Looking myself impartially over, I believe that is my only
manly virtue. During my first two years in Paris I not only made it a
point to keep well inside of my allowance, but accumulated considerable
savings in the bank. You will say, with my masquerade of living as a
penniless student, it must have been easy to do so: I should have had no
difficulty, however, in doing the reverse. Indeed, it is wonderful I did
not; and early in the third year, or soon after I had known Pinkerton, a
singular incident proved it to have been equally wise. Quarter-day came,
and brought no allowance. A letter of remonstrance was despatched, and
for the first time in my experience, remained unanswered. A cablegram
was more effectual; for it brought me at least a promise of attention.
"Will write at once," my father telegraphed; but I waited long for his
letter. I was puzzled, angry, and alarmed; but thanks to my previous
thrift, I cannot say that I was ever practically embarrassed. The
embarrassment, the distress, the agony, were all for my unhappy father
at home in Muskegon, struggling for life and fortune against untoward
chances, returning at night from a day of ill-starred shifts and
ventures, to read and perhaps to weep over that last harsh letter from
his only child, to which he lacked the courage to reply.

Nearly three months after time, and when my economies were beginning
to run low, I received at last a letter with the customary bills of

"My dearest boy," it ran, "I believe, in the press of anxious business,
your letters and even your allowance have been somewhile neglected. You
must try to forgive your poor old dad, for he has had a trying time; and
now when it is over, the doctor wants me to take my shotgun and go
to the Adirondacks for a change. You must not fancy I am sick, only
over-driven and under the weather. Many of our foremost operators have
gone down: John T. M'Brady skipped to Canada with a trunkful of boodle;
Billy Sandwith, Charlie Downs, Joe Kaiser, and many others of our
leading men in this city bit the dust. But Big-Head Dodd has again
weathered the blizzard, and I think I have fixed things so that we may
be richer than ever before autumn.

"Now I will tell you, my dear, what I propose. You say you are well
advanced with your first statue; start in manfully and finish it, and if
your teacher--I can never remember how to spell his name--will send me
a certificate that it is up to market standard, you shall have ten
thousand dollars to do what you like with, either at home or in Paris.
I suggest, since you say the facilities for work are so much greater
in that city, you would do well to buy or build a little home; and
the first thing you know, your dad will be dropping in for a luncheon.
Indeed, I would come now, for I am beginning to grow old, and I long to
see my dear boy; but there are still some operations that want watching
and nursing. Tell your friend, Mr. Pinkerton, that I read his letters
every week; and though I have looked in vain lately for my Loudon's
name, still I learn something of the life he is leading in that strange,
old world, depicted by an able pen."

Here was a letter that no young man could possibly digest in solitude.
It marked one of those junctures when the confidant is necessary; and
the confidant selected was none other than Jim Pinkerton. My father's
message may have had an influence in this decision; but I scarce suppose
so, for the intimacy was already far advanced. I had a genuine and
lively taste for my compatriot; I laughed at, I scolded, and I loved
him. He, upon his side, paid me a kind of doglike service of admiration,
gazing at me from afar off as at one who had liberally enjoyed those
"advantages" which he envied for himself. He followed at heel; his laugh
was ready chorus; our friends gave him the nickname of "The Henchman."
It was in this insidious form that servitude approached me.

Pinkerton and I read and re-read the famous news: he, I can swear, with
an enjoyment as unalloyed and far more vocal than my own. The statue was
nearly done: a few days' work sufficed to prepare it for exhibition; the
master was approached; he gave his consent; and one cloudless morning
of May beheld us gathered in my studio for the hour of trial. The
master wore his many-hued rosette; he came attended by two of my French
fellow-pupils--friends of mine and both considerable sculptors in Paris
at this hour. "Corporal John" (as we used to call him) breaking for once
those habits of study and reserve which have since carried him so
high in the opinion of the world, had left his easel of a morning to
countenance a fellow-countryman in some suspense. My dear old Romney
was there by particular request; for who that knew him would think
a pleasure quite complete unless he shared it, or not support a
mortification more easily if he were present to console? The party
was completed by John Myner, the Englishman; by the brothers
Stennis,--Stennis-aine and Stennis-frere, as they used to figure on
their accounts at Barbizon--a pair of hare-brained Scots; and by the
inevitable Jim, as white as a sheet and bedewed with the sweat of

I suppose I was little better myself when I unveiled the Genius of
Muskegon. The master walked about it seriously; then he smiled.

"It is already not so bad," said he, in that funny English of which he
was so proud. "No, already not so bad."

We all drew a deep breath of relief; and Corporal John (as the most
considerable junior present) explained to him it was intended for a
public building, a kind of prefecture--

"He! Quoi?" cried he, relapsing into French. "Qu'est-ce que vous me
chantez la? O, in America," he added, on further information being
hastily furnished. "That is anozer sing. O, very good, very good."

The idea of the required certificate had to be introduced to his mind
in the light of a pleasantry--the fancy of a nabob little more advanced
than the red Indians of "Fennimore Cooperr"; and it took all our talents
combined to conceive a form of words that would be acceptable on
both sides. One was found, however: Corporal John engrossed it in his
undecipherable hand, the master lent it the sanction of his name and
flourish, I slipped it into an envelope along with one of the two
letters I had ready prepared in my pocket, and as the rest of us moved
off along the boulevard to breakfast, Pinkerton was detached in a cab
and duly committed it to the post.

The breakfast was ordered at Lavenue's, where no one need be ashamed
to entertain even the master; the table was laid in the garden; I had
chosen the bill of fare myself; on the wine question we held a council
of war with the most fortunate results; and the talk, as soon as the
master laid aside his painful English, became fast and furious. There
were a few interruptions, indeed, in the way of toasts. The master's
health had to be drunk, and he responded in a little well-turned speech,
full of neat allusions to my future and to the United States; my health
followed; and then my father's must not only be proposed and drunk,
but a full report must be despatched to him at once by cablegram--an
extravagance which was almost the means of the master's dissolution.
Choosing Corporal John to be his confidant (on the ground, I presume,
that he was already too good an artist to be any longer an American
except in name) he summed up his amazement in one oft-repeated
formula--"C'est barbare!" Apart from these genial formalities, we
talked, talked of art, and talked of it as only artists can. Here in the
South Seas we talk schooners most of the time; in the Quarter we talked
art with the like unflagging interest, and perhaps as much result.

Before very long, the master went away; Corporal John (who was already a
sort of young master) followed on his heels; and the rank and file were
naturally relieved by their departure. We were now among equals; the
bottle passed, the conversation sped. I think I can still hear the
Stennis brothers pour forth their copious tirades; Dijon, my portly
French fellow-student, drop witticisms well-conditioned like himself;
and another (who was weak in foreign languages) dash hotly into the
current of talk with some "Je trove que pore oon sontimong de delicacy,
Corot ...," or some "Pour moi Corot est le plou ...," and then, his
little raft of French foundering at once, scramble silently to shore
again. He at least could understand; but to Pinkerton, I think the
noise, the wine, the sun, the shadows of the leaves, and the esoteric
glory of being seated at a foreign festival, made up the whole available
means of entertainment.

We sat down about half past eleven; I suppose it was two when,
some point arising and some particular picture being instanced, an
adjournment to the Louvre was proposed. I paid the score, and in a
moment we were trooping down the Rue de Renne. It was smoking hot; Paris
glittered with that superficial brilliancy which is so agreeable to the
man in high spirits, and in moods of dejection so depressing; the wine
sang in my ears, it danced and brightened in my eyes. The pictures that
we saw that afternoon, as we sped briskly and loquaciously through the
immortal galleries, appear to me, upon a retrospect, the loveliest
of all; the comments we exchanged to have touched the highest mark of
criticism, grave or gay.

It was only when we issued again from the museum that a difference of
race broke up the party. Dijon proposed an adjournment to a cafe, there
to finish the afternoon on beer; the elder Stennis, revolted at the
thought, moved for the country, a forest if possible, and a long walk.
At once the English speakers rallied to the name of any exercise: even
to me, who have been often twitted with my sedentary habits, the thought
of country air and stillness proved invincibly attractive. It appeared,
upon investigation, we had just time to hail a cab and catch one of the
fast trains for Fontainebleau. Beyond the clothes we stood in, all were
destitute of what is called (with dainty vagueness) personal effects;
and it was earnestly mooted, on the other side, whether we had not time
to call upon the way and pack a satchel? But the Stennis boys exclaimed
upon our effeminacy. They had come from London, it appeared, a week
before with nothing but greatcoats and tooth-brushes. No baggage--there
was the secret of existence. It was expensive, to be sure; for every
time you had to comb your hair, a barber must be paid, and every time
you changed your linen, one shirt must be bought and another thrown
away; but anything was better (argued these young gentlemen) than to
be the slaves of haversacks. "A fellow has to get rid gradually of all
material attachments; that was manhood" (said they); "and as long as you
were bound down to anything,--house, umbrella, or portmanteau,--you were
still tethered by the umbilical cord." Something engaging in this
theory carried the most of us away. The two Frenchmen, indeed, retired,
scoffing, to their bock; and Romney, being too poor to join the
excursion on his own resources and too proud to borrow, melted
unobtrusively away. Meanwhile the remainder of the company crowded
the benches of a cab; the horse was urged (as horses have to be) by an
appeal to the pocket of the driver; the train caught by the inside of
a minute; and in less than an hour and a half we were breathing deep
of the sweet air of the forest and stretching our legs up the hill from
Fontainebleau octroi, bound for Barbizon. That the leading members of
our party covered the distance in fifty-one minutes and a half is (I
believe) one of the historic landmarks of the colony; but you will
scarce be surprised to learn that I was somewhat in the rear. Myner,
a comparatively philosophic Briton, kept me company in my deliberate
advance; the glory of the sun's going down, the fall of the long
shadows, the inimitable scent and the inspiration of the woods, attuned
me more and more to walk in a silence which progressively infected my
companion; and I remember that, when at last he spoke, I was startled
from a deep abstraction.

"Your father seems to be a pretty good kind of a father," said he. "Why
don't he come to see you?" I was ready with some dozen of reasons, and
had more in stock; but Myner, with that shrewdness which made him feared
and admired, suddenly fixed me with his eye-glass and asked, "Ever press

The blood came in my face. No; I had never pressed him; I had never even
encouraged him to come. I was proud of him; proud of his handsome looks,
of his kind, gentle ways, of that bright face he could show when others
were happy; proud, too (meanly proud, if you like) of his great wealth
and startling liberalities. And yet he would have been in the way of my
Paris life, of much of which he would have disapproved. I had feared to
expose to criticism his innocent remarks on art; I had told myself, I
had even partly believed, he did not want to come; I had been (and still
am) convinced that he was sure to be unhappy out of Muskegon; in short,
I had a thousand reasons, good and bad, not all of which could alter one
iota of the fact that I knew he only waited for my invitation.

"Thank you, Myner," said I; "you're a much better fellow than ever I
supposed. I'll write to-night."

"O, you're a pretty decent sort yourself," returned Myner, with more
than his usual flippancy of manner, but (as I was gratefully aware) not
a trace of his occasional irony of meaning.

Well, these were brave days, on which I could dwell forever. Brave,
too, were those that followed, when Pinkerton and I walked Paris and the
suburbs, viewing and pricing houses for my new establishment, or covered
ourselves with dust and returned laden with Chinese gods and brass
warming-pans from the dealers in antiquities. I found Pinkerton well
up in the situation of these establishments as well as in the current
prices, and with quite a smattering of critical judgment; it turned out
he was investing capital in pictures and curiosities for the States, and
the superficial thoroughness of the creature appeared in the fact, that
although he would never be a connoisseur, he was already something of
an expert. The things themselves left him as near as may be cold; but he
had a joy of his own in understanding how to buy and sell them.

In such engagements the time passed until I might very well expect
an answer from my father. Two mails followed each other, and brought
nothing. By the third I received a long and almost incoherent letter
of remorse, encouragement, consolation, and despair. From this pitiful
document, which (with a movement of piety) I burned as soon as I had
read it, I gathered that the bubble of my father's wealth was burst,
that he was now both penniless and sick; and that I, so far from
expecting ten thousand dollars to throw away in juvenile extravagance,
must look no longer for the quarterly remittances on which I lived. My
case was hard enough; but I had sense enough to perceive, and decency
enough to do my duty. I sold my curiosities, or rather I sent Pinkerton
to sell them; and he had previously bought and now disposed of them so
wisely that the loss was trifling. This, with what remained of my last
allowance, left me at the head of no less than five thousand francs.
Five hundred I reserved for my own immediate necessities; the rest I
mailed inside of the week to my father at Muskegon, where they came in
time to pay his funeral expenses.

The news of his death was scarcely a surprise and scarce a grief to me.
I could not conceive my father a poor man. He had led too long a life
of thoughtless and generous profusion to endure the change; and though I
grieved for myself, I was able to rejoice that my father had been taken
from the battle. I grieved, I say, for myself; and it is probable there
were at the same date many thousands of persons grieving with less
cause. I had lost my father; I had lost the allowance; my whole fortune
(including what had been returned from Muskegon) scarce amounted to
a thousand francs; and to crown my sorrows, the statuary contract
had changed hands. The new contractor had a son of his own, or else a
nephew; and it was signified to me, with business-like plainness, that I
must find another market for my pigs. In the meanwhile I had given up my
room, and slept on a truckle-bed in the corner of the studio, where as I
read myself to sleep at night, and when I awoke in the morning, that now
useless bulk, the Genius of Muskegon, was ever present to my eyes. Poor
stone lady! born to be enthroned under the gilded, echoing dome of the
new capitol, whither was she now to drift? for what base purposes be
ultimately broken up, like an unseaworthy ship? and what should befall
her ill-starred artificer, standing, with his thousand francs, on the
threshold of a life so hard as that of the unbefriended sculptor?

It was a subject often and earnestly debated by myself and Pinkerton.
In his opinion, I should instantly discard my profession. "Just drop it,
here and now," he would say. "Come back home with me, and let's throw
our whole soul into business. I have the capital; you bring the culture.
Dodd & Pinkerton--I never saw a better name for an advertisement; and
you can't think, Loudon, how much depends upon a name." On my side, I
would admit that a sculptor should possess one of three things--capital,
influence, or an energy only to be qualified as hellish. The first two
I had now lost; to the third I never had the smallest claim; and yet I
wanted the cowardice (or perhaps it was the courage) to turn my back
on my career without a fight. I told him, besides, that however poor
my chances were in sculpture, I was convinced they were yet worse in
business, for which I equally lacked taste and aptitude. But upon this
head, he was my father over again; assured me that I spoke in ignorance;
that any intelligent and cultured person was Bound to succeed; that I
must, besides, have inherited some of my father's fitness; and, at
any rate, that I had been regularly trained for that career in the
commercial college.


"Pinkerton," I said, "can't you understand that, as long as I was there,
I never took the smallest interest in any stricken thing? The whole
affair was poison to me."

"It's not possible," he would cry; "it can't be; you couldn't live in
the midst of it and not feel the charm; with all your poetry of soul,
you couldn't help! Loudon," he would go on, "you drive me crazy. You
expect a man to be all broken up about the sunset, and not to care a
dime for a place where fortunes are fought for and made and lost all
day; or for a career that consists in studying up life till you have it
at your finger-ends, spying out every cranny where you can get your
hand in and a dollar out, and standing there in the midst--one foot on
bankruptcy, the other on a borrowed dollar, and the whole thing spinning
round you like a mill--raking in the stamps, in spite of fate and

To this romance of dickering I would reply with the romance (which is
also the virtue) of art: reminding him of those examples of constancy
through many tribulations, with which the role of Apollo is illustrated;
from the case of Millet, to those of many of our friends and comrades,
who had chosen this agreeable mountain path through life, and were now
bravely clambering among rocks and brambles, penniless and hopeful.

"You will never understand it, Pinkerton," I would say. "You look to the
result, you want to see some profit of your endeavours: that is why you
could never learn to paint, if you lived to be Methusalem. The result
is always a fizzle: the eyes of the artist are turned in; he lives for
a frame of mind. Look at Romney, now. There is the nature of the artist.
He hasn't a cent; and if you offered him to-morrow the command of an
army, or the presidentship of the United States, he wouldn't take it,
and you know he wouldn't."

"I suppose not," Pinkerton would cry, scouring his hair with both his
hands; "and I can't see why; I can't see what in fits he would be after,
not to; I don't seem to rise to these views. Of course, it's the
fault of not having had advantages in early life; but, Loudon, I'm so
miserably low that it seems to me silly. The fact is," he might add with
a smile, "I don't seem to have the least use for a frame of mind without
square meals; and you can't get it out of my head that it's a man's duty
to die rich, if he can."

"What for?" I asked him once.

"O, I don't know," he replied. "Why in snakes should anybody want to be
a sculptor, if you come to that? I would love to sculp myself. But what
I can't see is why you should want to do nothing else. It seems to argue
a poverty of nature."

Whether or not he ever came to understand me--and I have been so tossed
about since then that I am not very sure I understand myself--he soon
perceived that I was perfectly in earnest; and after about ten days
of argument, suddenly dropped the subject, and announced that he was
wasting capital, and must go home at once. No doubt he should have gone
long before, and had already lingered over his intended time for the
sake of our companionship and my misfortune; but man is so unjustly
minded that the very fact, which ought to have disarmed, only embittered
my vexation. I resented his departure in the light of a desertion; I
would not say, but doubtless I betrayed it; and something hang-dog in
the man's face and bearing led me to believe he was himself remorseful.
It is certain at least that, during the time of his preparations, we
drew sensibly apart--a circumstance that I recall with shame. On the
last day, he had me to dinner at a restaurant which he knew I had
formerly frequented, and had only forsworn of late from considerations
of economy. He seemed ill at ease; I was myself both sorry and sulky;
and the meal passed with little conversation.

"Now, Loudon," said he, with a visible effort, after the coffee was
come and our pipes lighted, "you can never understand the gratitude and
loyalty I bear you. You don't know what a boon it is to be taken up by
a man that stands on the pinnacle of civilization; you can't think how
it's refined and purified me, how it's appealed to my spiritual nature;
and I want to tell you that I would die at your door like a dog."

I don't know what answer I tried to make, but he cut me short.

"Let me say it out!" he cried. "I revere you for your whole-souled
devotion to art; I can't rise to it, but there's a strain of poetry in
my nature, Loudon, that responds to it. I want you to carry it out, and
I mean to help you."

"Pinkerton, what nonsense is this?" I interrupted.

"Now don't get mad, Loudon; this is a plain piece of business," said he;
"it's done every day; it's even typical. How are all those fellows over
here in Paris, Henderson, Sumner, Long?--it's all the same story: a
young man just plum full of artistic genius on the one side, a man of
business on the other who doesn't know what to do with his dollars--"

"But, you fool, you're as poor as a rat," I cried.

"You wait till I get my irons in the fire!" returned Pinkerton. "I'm
bound to be rich; and I tell you I mean to have some of the fun as I go
along. Here's your first allowance; take it at the hand of a friend; I'm
one that holds friendship sacred as you do yourself. It's only a hundred
francs; you'll get the same every month, and as soon as my business
begins to expand we'll increase it to something fitting. And so far from
it's being a favour, just let me handle your statuary for the American
market, and I'll call it one of the smartest strokes of business in my

It took me a long time, and it had cost us both much grateful and
painful emotion, before I had finally managed to refuse his offer and
compounded for a bottle of particular wine. He dropped the subject at
last suddenly with a "Never mind; that's all done with," nor did he
again refer to the subject, though we passed together the rest of the
afternoon, and I accompanied him, on his departure; to the doors of the
waiting-room at St. Lazare. I felt myself strangely alone; a voice told
me that I had rejected both the counsels of wisdom and the helping
hand of friendship; and as I passed through the great bright city on
my homeward way, I measured it for the first time with the eye of an






In no part of the world is starvation an agreeable business; but I
believe it is admitted there is no worse place to starve in than this
city of Paris. The appearances of life are there so especially gay,
it is so much a magnified beer-garden, the houses are so ornate, the
theatres so numerous, the very pace of the vehicles is so brisk, that a
man in any deep concern of mind or pain of body is constantly driven in
upon himself. In his own eyes, he seems the one serious creature moving
in a world of horrible unreality; voluble people issuing from a
cafe, the queue at theatre doors, Sunday cabfuls of second-rate
pleasure-seekers, the bedizened ladies of the pavement, the show in the
jewellers' windows--all the familiar sights contributing to flout his
own unhappiness, want, and isolation. At the same time, if he be at all
after my pattern, he is perhaps supported by a childish satisfaction:
this is life at last, he may tell himself, this is the real thing;
the bladders on which I was set swimming are now empty, my own weight
depends upon the ocean; by my own exertions I must perish or succeed;
and I am now enduring in the vivid fact, what I so much delighted to
read of in the case of Lonsteau or Lucien, Rodolphe or Schaunard.

Of the steps of my misery, I cannot tell at length. In ordinary times
what were politically called "loans" (although they were never meant to
be repaid) were matters of constant course among the students, and many
a man has partly lived on them for years. But my misfortune befell me
at an awkward juncture. Many of my friends were gone; others were
themselves in a precarious situation. Romney (for instance) was reduced
to tramping Paris in a pair of country sabots, his only suit of clothes
so imperfect (in spite of cunningly adjusted pins) that the authorities
at the Luxembourg suggested his withdrawal from the gallery. Dijon, too,
was on a leeshore, designing clocks and gas-brackets for a dealer; and
the most he could do was to offer me a corner of his studio where I
might work. My own studio (it will be gathered) I had by that time lost;
and in the course of my expulsion the Genius of Muskegon was finally
separated from her author. To continue to possess a full-sized statue,
a man must have a studio, a gallery, or at least the freedom of a back
garden. He cannot carry it about with him, like a satchel, in the
bottom of a cab, nor can he cohabit in a garret, ten by fifteen, with
so momentous a companion. It was my first idea to leave her behind at
my departure. There, in her birthplace, she might lend an inspiration,
methought, to my successor. But the proprietor, with whom I had
unhappily quarrelled, seized the occasion to be disagreeable, and called
upon me to remove my property. For a man in such straits as I now found
myself, the hire of a lorry was a consideration; and yet even that I
could have faced, if I had had anywhere to drive to after it was hired.
Hysterical laughter seized upon me as I beheld (in imagination) myself,
the waggoner, and the Genius of Muskegon, standing in the public view of
Paris, without the shadow of a destination; perhaps driving at last
to the nearest rubbish heap, and dumping there, among the ordures of a
city, the beloved child of my invention. From these extremities I was
relieved by a seasonable offer, and I parted from the Genius of Muskegon
for thirty francs. Where she now stands, under what name she is admired
or criticised, history does not inform us; but I like to think she
may adorn the shrubbery of some suburban tea-garden, where holiday
shop-girls hang their hats upon the mother, and their swains (by way
of an approach of gallantry) identify the winged infant with the god of

In a certain cabman's eating-house on the outer boulevard I got credit
for my midday meal. Supper I was supposed not to require, sitting
down nightly to the delicate table of some rich acquaintances. This
arrangement was extremely ill-considered. My fable, credible enough at
first, and so long as my clothes were in good order, must have seemed
worse than doubtful after my coat became frayed about the edges, and
my boots began to squelch and pipe along the restaurant floors. The
allowance of one meal a day besides, though suitable enough to the state
of my finances, agreed poorly with my stomach. The restaurant was a
place I had often visited experimentally, to taste the life of students
then more unfortunate than myself; and I had never in those days entered
it without disgust, or left it without nausea. It was strange to find
myself sitting down with avidity, rising up with satisfaction, and
counting the hours that divided me from my return to such a table. But
hunger is a great magician; and so soon as I had spent my ready cash,
and could no longer fill up on bowls of chocolate or hunks of bread,
I must depend entirely on that cabman's eating-house, and upon certain
rare, long-expected, long-remembered windfalls. Dijon (for instance)
might get paid for some of his pot-boiling work, or else an old friend
would pass through Paris; and then I would be entertained to a meal
after my own soul, and contract a Latin Quarter loan, which would keep
me in tobacco and my morning coffee for a fortnight. It might be thought
the latter would appear the more important. It might be supposed that a
life, led so near the confines of actual famine, should have dulled the
nicety of my palate. On the contrary, the poorer a man's diet, the more
sharply is he set on dainties. The last of my ready cash, about thirty
francs, was deliberately squandered on a single dinner; and a great part
of my time when I was alone was passed upon the details of imaginary

One gleam of hope visited me--an order for a bust from a rich
Southerner. He was free-handed, jolly of speech, merry of countenance;
kept me in good humour through the sittings, and when they were over,
carried me off with him to dinner and the sights of Paris. I ate well;
I laid on flesh; by all accounts, I made a favourable likeness of the
being, and I confess I thought my future was assured. But when the bust
was done, and I had despatched it across the Atlantic, I could never
so much as learn of its arrival. The blow felled me; I should have
lain down and tried no stroke to right myself, had not the honour of
my country been involved. For Dijon improved the opportunity in the
European style; informing me (for the first time) of the manners of
America: how it was a den of banditti without the smallest rudiment of
law or order, and debts could be there only collected with a shotgun.
"The whole world knows it," he would say; "you are alone, mon petit
Loudon, you are alone to be in ignorance of these facts. The judges of
the Supreme Court fought but the other day with stilettos on the bench
at Cincinnati. You should read the little book of one of my friends: _Le
Touriste dans le Far-West_; you will see it all there in good French."
At last, incensed by days of such discussion, I undertook to prove to
him the contrary, and put the affair in the hands of my late father's
lawyer. From him I had the gratification of hearing, after a due
interval, that my debtor was dead of the yellow fever in Key West, and
had left his affairs in some confusion. I suppress his name; for though
he treated me with cruel nonchalance, it is probable he meant to deal
fairly in the end.

Soon after this a shade of change in my reception at the cabman's
eating-house marked the beginning of a new phase in my distress. The
first day, I told myself it was but fancy; the next, I made quite sure
it was a fact; the third, in mere panic I stayed away, and went for
forty-eight hours fasting. This was an act of great unreason; for the
debtor who stays away is but the more remarked, and the boarder who
misses a meal is sure to be accused of infidelity. On the fourth day,
therefore, I returned, inwardly quaking. The proprietor looked askance
upon my entrance; the waitresses (who were his daughters) neglected my
wants and sniffed at the affected joviality of my salutations; last and
most plain, when I called for a suisse (such as was being served to all
the other diners) I was bluntly told there were no more. It was obvious
I was near the end of my tether; one plank divided me from want, and now
I felt it tremble. I passed a sleepless night, and the first thing in
the morning took my way to Myner's studio. It was a step I had long
meditated and long refrained from; for I was scarce intimate with the
Englishman; and though I knew him to possess plenty of money, neither
his manner nor his reputation were the least encouraging to beggars.


I found him at work on a picture, which I was able conscientiously
to praise, dressed in his usual tweeds, plain, but pretty fresh, and
standing out in disagreeable contrast to my own withered and degraded
outfit. As we talked, he continued to shift his eyes watchfully between
his handiwork and the fat model, who sat at the far end of the studio
in a state of nature, with one arm gallantly arched above her head. My
errand would have been difficult enough under the best of circumstances:
placed between Myner, immersed in his art, and the white, fat, naked
female in a ridiculous attitude, I found it quite impossible. Again and
again I attempted to approach the point, again and again fell back on
commendations of the picture; and it was not until the model had enjoyed
an interval of repose, during which she took the conversation in her
own hands and regaled us (in a soft, weak voice) with details as to her
husband's prosperity, her sister's lamented decline from the paths
of virtue, and the consequent wrath of her father, a peasant of stern
principles, in the vicinity of Chalons on the Marne;--it was not, I say,
until after this was over, and I had once more cleared my throat for
the attack, and once more dropped aside into some commonplace about the
picture, that Myner himself brought me suddenly and vigorously to the

"You didn't come here to talk this rot," said he.

"No," I replied sullenly; "I came to borrow money."

He painted awhile in silence.

"I don't think we were ever very intimate?" he asked.

"Thank you," said I. "I can take my answer," and I made as if to go,
rage boiling in my heart.

"Of course you can go if you like," said Myner; "but I advise you to
stay and have it out."

"What more is there to say?" I cried. "You don't want to keep me here
for a needless humiliation?"

"Look here, Dodd, you must try and command your temper," said he. "This
interview is of your own seeking, and not mine; if you suppose it's not
disagreeable to me, you're wrong; and if you think I will give you money
without knowing thoroughly about your prospects, you take me for a fool.
Besides," he added, "if you come to look at it, you've got over the
worst of it by now: you have done the asking, and you have every reason
to know I mean to refuse. I hold out no false hopes, but it may be worth
your while to let me judge."

Thus--I was going to say--encouraged, I stumbled through my story; told
him I had credit at the cabman's eating-house, but began to think it was
drawing to a close; how Dijon lent me a corner of his studio, where I
tried to model ornaments, figures for clocks, Time with the scythe, Leda
and the swan, musketeers for candlesticks, and other kickshaws, which
had never (up to that day) been honoured with the least approval.

"And your room?" asked Myner.

"O, my room is all right, I think," said I. "She is a very good old
lady, and has never even mentioned her bill."

"Because she is a very good old lady, I don't see why she should be
fined," observed Myner.

"What do you mean by that?" I cried.

"I mean this," said he. "The French give a great deal of credit amongst
themselves; they find it pays on the whole, or the system would hardly
be continued; but I can't see where WE come in; I can't see that it's
honest of us Anglo-Saxons to profit by their easy ways, and then skip
over the Channel or (as you Yankees do) across the Atlantic."

"But I'm not proposing to skip," I objected.

"Exactly," he replied. "And shouldn't you? There's the problem. You
seem to me to have a lack of sympathy for the proprietors of cabmen's
eating-houses. By your own account you're not getting on: the longer you
stay, it'll only be the more out of the pocket of the dear old lady at
your lodgings. Now, I'll tell you what I'll do: if you consent to go,
I'll pay your passage to New York, and your railway fare and expenses
to Muskegon (if I have the name right) where your father lived, where he
must have left friends, and where, no doubt, you'll find an opening. I
don't seek any gratitude, for of course you'll think me a beast; but I
do ask you to pay it back when you are able. At any rate, that's all
I can do. It might be different if I thought you a genius, Dodd; but I
don't, and I advise you not to."


"I think that was uncalled for, at least," said I.

"I daresay it was," he returned, with the same steadiness. "It seemed to
me pertinent; and, besides, when you ask me for money upon no security,
you treat me with the liberty of a friend, and it's to be presumed that
I can do the like. But the point is, do you accept?"

"No, thank you," said I; "I have another string to my bow."

"All right," says Myner. "Be sure it's honest."

"Honest? honest?" I cried. "What do you mean by calling my honesty in

"I won't, if you don't like it," he replied. "You seem to think
honesty as easy as Blind Man's Buff: I don't. It's some difference of

I went straight from this irritating interview, during which Myner had
never discontinued painting, to the studio of my old master. Only one
card remained for me to play, and I was now resolved to play it: I
must drop the gentleman and the frock-coat, and approach art in the
workman's tunic.

"Tiens, this little Dodd!" cried the master; and then, as his eye fell
on my dilapidated clothing, I thought I could perceive his countenance
to darken.

I made my plea in English; for I knew, if he were vain of anything, it
was of his achievement of the island tongue. "Master," said I, "will you
take me in your studio again? but this time as a workman."

"I sought your fazer was immensely reech," said he.

I explained to him that I was now an orphan and penniless.

He shook his head. "I have betterr workmen waiting at my door," said he,
"far betterr workmen.

"You used to think something of my work, sir," I pleaded.

"Somesing, somesing--yes!" he cried; "enough for a son of a reech
man--not enough for an orphan. Besides, I sought you might learn to be
an artist; I did not sink you might learn to be a workman."

On a certain bench on the outer boulevard, not far from the tomb of
Napoleon, a bench shaded at that date by a shabby tree, and commanding
a view of muddy roadway and blank wall, I sat down to wrestle with my
misery. The weather was cheerless and dark; in three days I had eaten
but once; I had no tobacco; my shoes were soaked, my trousers horrid
with mire; my humour and all the circumstances of the time and place
lugubriously attuned. Here were two men who had both spoken fairly of my
work while I was rich and wanted nothing; now that I was poor and lacked
all: "no genius," said the one; "not enough for an orphan," the other;
and the first offered me my passage like a pauper immigrant, and the
second refused me a day's wage as a hewer of stone--plain dealing for
an empty belly. They had not been insincere in the past; they were not
insincere to-day: change of circumstance had introduced a new criterion:
that was all.

But if I acquitted my two Job's comforters of insincerity, I was yet far
from admitting them infallible. Artists had been contemned before,
and had lived to turn the laugh on their contemners. How old was Corot
before he struck the vein of his own precious metal? When had a young
man been more derided (or more justly so) than the god of my admiration,
Balzac? Or if I required a bolder inspiration, what had I to do but turn
my head to where the gold dome of the Invalides glittered against inky
squalls, and recall the tale of him sleeping there: from the day when a
young artillery-sub could be giggled at and nicknamed Puss-in-Boots by
frisky misses; on to the days of so many crowns and so many victories,
and so many hundred mouths of cannon, and so many thousand war-hoofs
trampling the roadways of astonished Europe eighty miles in front of
the grand army? To go back, to give up, to proclaim myself a failure, an
ambitious failure, first a rocket, then a stick! I, Loudon Dodd, who
had refused all other livelihoods with scorn, and been advertised in the
Saint Joseph _Sunday Herald_ as a patriot and an artist, to be returned
upon my native Muskegon like damaged goods, and go the circuit of my
father's acquaintance, cap in hand, and begging to sweep offices! No, by
Napoleon! I would die at my chosen trade; and the two who had that
day flouted me should live to envy my success, or to weep tears of
unavailing penitence behind my pauper coffin.

Meantime, if my courage was still undiminished, I was none the nearer to
a meal. At no great distance my cabman's eating-house stood, at the
tail of a muddy cab-rank, on the shores of a wide thoroughfare of mud,
offering (to fancy) a face of ambiguous invitation. I might be received,
I might once more fill my belly there; on the other hand, it was perhaps
this day the bolt was destined to fall, and I might be expelled instead,
with vulgar hubbub. It was policy to make the attempt, and I knew it was
policy; but I had already, in the course of that one morning, endured
too many affronts, and I felt I could rather starve than face another. I
had courage and to spare for the future, none left for that day; courage
for the main campaign, but not a spark of it for that preliminary
skirmish of the cabman's restaurant. I continued accordingly to sit
upon my bench, not far from the ashes of Napoleon, now drowsy, now
light-headed, now in complete mental obstruction, or only conscious
of an animal pleasure in quiescence; and now thinking, planning, and
remembering with unexampled clearness, telling myself tales of sudden
wealth, and gustfully ordering and greedily consuming imaginary meals:
in the course of which I must have dropped asleep.

It was towards dark that I was suddenly recalled to famine by a cold
souse of rain, and sprang shivering to my feet. For a moment I stood
bewildered: the whole train of my reasoning and dreaming passed afresh
through my mind; I was again tempted, drawn as if with cords, by
the image of the cabman's eating-house, and again recoiled from the
possibility of insult. "Qui dort dine," thought I to myself; and took my
homeward way with wavering footsteps, through rainy streets in which
the lamps and the shop-windows now began to gleam; still marshalling
imaginary dinners as I went.

"Ah, Monsieur Dodd," said the porter, "there has been a registered
letter for you. The facteur will bring it again to-morrow."

A registered letter for me, who had been so long without one? Of what
it could possibly contain, I had no vestige of a guess; nor did I delay
myself guessing; far less form any conscious plan of dishonesty: the
lies flowed from me like a natural secretion.

"O," said I, "my remittance at last! What a bother I should have missed
it! Can you lend me a hundred francs until to-morrow?"


I had never attempted to borrow from the porter till that moment: the
registered letter was, besides, my warranty; and he gave me what he
had--three napoleons and some francs in silver. I pocketed the money
carelessly, lingered a while chaffing, strolled leisurely to the door;
and then (fast as my trembling legs could carry me) round the corner
to the Cafe de Cluny. French waiters are deft and speedy; they were not
deft enough for me; and I had scarce decency to let the man set the wine
upon the table or put the butter alongside the bread, before my glass
and my mouth were filled. Exquisite bread of the Cafe Cluny, exquisite
first glass of old Pomard tingling to my wet feet, indescribable first
olive culled from the hors d'oeuvre--I suppose, when I come to lie
dying, and the lamp begins to grow dim, I shall still recall your
savour. Over the rest of that meal, and the rest of the evening, clouds
lie thick; clouds perhaps of Burgundy; perhaps, more properly, of famine
and repletion.

I remember clearly, at least, the shame, the despair, of the next
morning, when I reviewed what I had done, and how I had swindled the
poor honest porter; and, as if that were not enough, fairly burnt my
ships, and brought bankruptcy home to that last refuge, my garret. The
porter would expect his money; I could not pay him; here was scandal
in the house; and I knew right well the cause of scandal would have to
pack. "What do you mean by calling my honesty in question?" I had cried
the day before, turning upon Myner. Ah, that day before! the day before
Waterloo, the day before the Flood; the day before I had sold the roof
over my head, my future, and my self-respect, for a dinner at the Cafe

In the midst of these lamentations the famous registered letter came
to my door, with healing under its seals. It bore the postmark of
San Francisco, where Pinkerton was already struggling to the neck in
multifarious affairs: it renewed the offer of an allowance, which his
improved estate permitted him to announce at the figure of two hundred
francs a month; and in case I was in some immediate pinch, it enclosed
an introductory draft for forty dollars. There are a thousand excellent
reasons why a man, in this self-helpful epoch, should decline to be
dependent on another; but the most numerous and cogent considerations
all bow to a necessity as stern as mine; and the banks were scarce open
ere the draft was cashed.

It was early in December that I thus sold myself into slavery; and
for six months I dragged a slowly lengthening chain of gratitude and
uneasiness. At the cost of some debt I managed to excel myself and
eclipse the Genius of Muskegon, in a small but highly patriotic Standard
Bearer for the Salon; whither it was duly admitted, where it stood the
proper length of days entirely unremarked, and whence it came back to me
as patriotic as before. I threw my whole soul (as Pinkerton would have
phrased it) into clocks and candlesticks; the devil a candlestick-maker
would have anything to say to my designs. Even when Dijon, with his
infinite good humour and infinite scorn for all such journey-work,
consented to peddle them in indiscriminately with his own, the dealers
still detected and rejected mine. Home they returned to me, true as
the Standard Bearer; who now, at the head of quite a regiment of lesser
idols, began to grow an eyesore in the scanty studio of my friend. Dijon
and I have sat by the hour, and gazed upon that company of images. The
severe, the frisky, the classical, the Louis Quinze, were there--from
Joan of Arc in her soldierly cuirass to Leda with the swan; nay, and
God forgive me for a man that knew better! the humorous was represented
also. We sat and gazed, I say; we criticised, we turned them hither
and thither; even upon the closest inspection they looked quite like
statuettes; and yet nobody would have a gift of them!

Vanity dies hard; in some obstinate cases it outlives the man: but
about the sixth month, when I already owed near two hundred dollars
to Pinkerton, and half as much again in debts scattered about Paris, I
awoke one morning with a horrid sentiment of oppression, and found I
was alone: my vanity had breathed her last during the night. I dared
not plunge deeper in the bog; I saw no hope in my poor statuary; I owned
myself beaten at last; and sitting down in my nightshirt beside the
window, whence I had a glimpse of the tree-tops at the corner of the
boulevard, and where the music of its early traffic fell agreeably upon
my ear, I penned my farewell to Paris, to art, to my whole past life,
and my whole former self. "I give in," I wrote. "When the next allowance
arrives, I shall go straight out West, where you can do what you like
with me."

It is to be understood that Pinkerton had been, in a sense, pressing
me to come from the beginning; depicting his isolation among new
acquaintances, "who have none of them your culture," he wrote;
expressing his friendship in terms so warm that it sometimes embarrassed
me to think how poorly I could echo them; dwelling upon his need for
assistance; and the next moment turning about to commend my resolution
and press me to remain in Paris. "Only remember, Loudon," he would
write, "if you ever DO tire of it, there's plenty of work here for
you--honest, hard, well-paid work, developing the resources of this
practically virgin State. And of course I needn't say what a pleasure
it would be to me if we were going at it SHOULDER TO SHOULDER." I marvel
(looking back) that I could so long have resisted these appeals, and
continue to sink my friend's money in a manner that I knew him to
dislike. At least, when I did awake to any sense of my position, I awoke
to it entirely; and determined not only to follow his counsel for the
future, but even as regards the past, to rectify his losses. For in this
juncture of affairs I called to mind that I was not without a possible
resource, and resolved, at whatever cost of mortification, to beard the
Loudon family in their historic city.

In the excellent Scots' phrase, I made a moonlight flitting, a thing
never dignified, but in my case unusually easy. As I had scarce a pair
of boots worth portage, I deserted the whole of my effects without
a pang. Dijon fell heir to Joan of Arc, the Standard Bearer, and the
Musketeers. He was present when I bought and frugally stocked my new
portmanteau; and it was at the door of the trunk shop that I took my
leave of him, for my last few hours in Paris must be spent alone. It
was alone (and at a far higher figure than my finances warranted) that
I discussed my dinner; alone that I took my ticket at Saint Lazare;
all alone, though in a carriage full of people, that I watched the
moon shine on the Seine flood with its tufted islets, on Rouen with her
spires, and on the shipping in the harbour of Dieppe. When the first
light of the morning called me from troubled slumbers on the deck, I
beheld the dawn at first with pleasure; I watched with pleasure the
green shores of England rising out of rosy haze; I took the salt air
with delight into my nostrils; and then all came back to me; that I was
no longer an artist, no longer myself; that I was leaving all I cared
for, and returning to all that I detested, the slave of debt and
gratitude, a public and a branded failure.

From this picture of my own disgrace and wretchedness, it is not
wonderful if my mind turned with relief to the thought of Pinkerton,
waiting for me, as I knew, with unwearied affection, and regarding me
with a respect that I had never deserved, and might therefore fairly
hope that I should never forfeit. The inequality of our relation struck
me rudely. I must have been stupid, indeed, if I could have considered
the history of that friendship without shame--I, who had given so
little, who had accepted and profited by so much. I had the whole day
before me in London, and I determined (at least in words) to set the
balance somewhat straighter. Seated in the corner of a public place, and
calling for sheet after sheet of paper, I poured forth the expression of
my gratitude, my penitence for the past, my resolutions for the future.
Till now, I told him, my course had been mere selfishness. I had been
selfish to my father and to my friend, taking their help, and denying
them (which was all they asked) the poor gratification of my company and

Wonderful are the consolations of literature! As soon as that letter was
written and posted, the consciousness of virtue glowed in my veins like
some rare vintage.






I reached my uncle's door next morning in time to sit down with the
family to breakfast. More than three years had intervened almost without
mutation in that stationary household, since I had sat there first, a
young American freshman, bewildered among unfamiliar dainties, Finnan
haddock, kippered salmon, baps and mutton ham, and had wearied my mind
in vain to guess what should be under the tea-cosey. If there were
any change at all, it seemed that I had risen in the family esteem. My
father's death once fittingly referred to, with a ceremonial lengthening
of Scotch upper lips and wagging of the female head, the party launched
at once (God help me) into the more cheerful topic of my own successes.
They had been so pleased to hear such good accounts of me; I was quite
a great man now; where was that beautiful statue of the Genius of
Something or other? "You haven't it here? not here? Really?" asks the
sprightliest of my cousins, shaking curls at me; as though it were
likely I had brought it in a cab, or kept it concealed about my person
like a birthday surprise. In the bosom of this family, unaccustomed to
the tropical nonsense of the West, it became plain the _Sunday Herald_
and poor, blethering Pinkerton had been accepted for their face. It is
not possible to invent a circumstance that could have more depressed
me; and I am conscious that I behaved all through that breakfast like a
whipt schoolboy.

At length, the meal and family prayers being both happily over, I
requested the favour of an interview with Uncle Adam on "the state of
my affairs." At sound of this ominous expression, the good man's face
conspicuously lengthened; and when my grandfather, having had the
proposition repeated to him (for he was hard of hearing) announced his
intention of being present at the interview, I could not but think that
Uncle Adam's sorrow kindled into momentary irritation. Nothing, however,
but the usual grim cordiality appeared upon the surface; and we all
three passed ceremoniously to the adjoining library, a gloomy theatre
for a depressing piece of business. My grandfather charged a clay pipe,
and sat tremulously smoking in a corner of the fireless chimney; behind
him, although the morning was both chill and dark, the window was partly
open and the blind partly down: I cannot depict what an air he had of
being out of place, like a man shipwrecked there. Uncle Adam had his
station at the business table in the midst. Valuable rows of books
looked down upon the place of torture; and I could hear sparrows
chirping in the garden, and my sprightly cousin already banging the
piano and pouring forth an acid stream of song from the drawing-room

It was in these circumstances that, with all brevity of speech and a
certain boyish sullenness of manner, looking the while upon the floor,
I informed my relatives of my financial situation: the amount I owed
Pinkerton; the hopelessness of any maintenance from sculpture; the
career offered me in the States; and how, before becoming more beholden
to a stranger, I had judged it right to lay the case before my family.

"I am only sorry you did not come to me at first," said Uncle Adam. "I
take the liberty to say it would have been more decent."

"I think so too, Uncle Adam," I replied; "but you must bear in mind I
was ignorant in what light you might regard my application."

"I hope I would never turn my back on my own flesh and blood," he
returned with emphasis; but to my anxious ear, with more of temper than
affection. "I could never forget you were my sister's son. I regard
this as a manifest duty. I have no choice but to accept the entire
responsibility of the position you have made."

I did not know what else to do but murmur "thank you."


"Yes," he pursued, "and there is something providential in the
circumstance that you come at the right time. In my old firm there is a
vacancy; they call themselves Italian Warehousemen now," he continued,
regarding me with a twinkle of humour; "so you may think yourself
in luck: we were only grocers in my day. I shall place you there

"Stop a moment, Uncle Adam," I broke in. "This is not at all what I
am asking. I ask you to pay Pinkerton, who is a poor man. I ask you to
clear my feet of debt, not to arrange my life or any part of it."

"If I wished to be harsh, I might remind you that beggars cannot be
choosers," said my uncle; "and as to managing your life, you have tried
your own way already, and you see what you have made of it. You must now
accept the guidance of those older and (whatever you may think of it)
wiser than yourself. All these schemes of your friend (of whom I
know nothing, by the by) and talk of openings in the West, I simply
disregard. I have no idea whatever of your going troking across
a continent on a wild-goose chase. In this situation, which I
am fortunately able to place at your disposal, and which many a
well-conducted young man would be glad to jump at, you will receive, to
begin with, eighteen shillings a week."

"Eighteen shillings a week!" I cried. "Why, my poor friend gave me more
than that for nothing!"

"And I think it is this very friend you are now trying to repay?"
observed my uncle, with an air of one advancing a strong argument.

"Aadam!" said my grandfather.

"I'm vexed you should be present at this business," quoth Uncle Adam,
swinging rather obsequiously towards the stonemason; "but I must remind
you it is of your own seeking."

"Aadam!" repeated the old man.

"Well, sir, I am listening," says my uncle.

My grandfather took a puff or two in silence; and then, "Ye're makin' an
awfu' poor appearance, Aadam," said he.

My uncle visibly reared at the affront. "I'm sorry you should think
so," said he, "and still more sorry you should say so before present

"A believe that; A ken that, Aadam," returned old Loudon, dryly;
"and the curiis thing is, I'm no very carin'. See here, ma man," he
continued, addressing himself to me. "A'm your grandfaither, amn't I
not? Never you mind what Aadam says. A'll see justice din ye. A'm rich."

"Father," said Uncle Adam, "I would like one word with you in private."

I rose to go.

"Set down upon your hinderlands," cried my grandfather, almost savagely.
"If Aadam has anything to say, let him say it. It's me that has the
money here; and by Gravy! I'm goin' to be obeyed."

Upon this scurvy encouragement, it appeared that my uncle had no remark
to offer: twice challenged to "speak out and be done with it," he twice
sullenly declined; and I may mention that about this period of the
engagement, I began to be sorry for him.

"See here, then, Jeannie's yin!" resumed my grandfather. "A'm goin' to
give ye a set-off. Your mither was always my fav'rite, for A never could
agree with Aadam. A like ye fine yoursel'; there's nae noansense aboot
ye; ye've a fine nayteral idee of builder's work; ye've been to France,
where they tell me they're grand at the stuccy. A splendid thing for
ceilin's, the stuccy! and it's a vailyable disguise, too; A don't
believe there's a builder in Scotland has used more stuccy than me. But
as A was sayin', if ye'll follie that trade, with the capital that A'm
goin' to give ye, ye may live yet to be as rich as mysel'. Ye see, ye
would have always had a share of it when A was gone; it appears ye're
needin' it now; well, ye'll get the less, as is only just and proper."

Uncle Adam cleared his throat. "This is very handsome, father," said he;
"and I am sure Loudon feels it so. Very handsome, and as you say, very
just; but will you allow me to say that it had better, perhaps, be put
in black and white?"

The enmity always smouldering between the two men at this ill-judged
interruption almost burst in flame. The stonemason turned upon his
offspring, his long upper lip pulled down, for all the world, like a
monkey's. He stared a while in virulent silence; and then "Get Gregg!"
said he.

The effect of these words was very visible. "He will be gone to his
office," stammered my uncle.

"Get Gregg!" repeated my grandfather.

"I tell you, he will be gone to his office," reiterated Adam.

"And I tell ye, he's takin' his smoke," retorted the old man.

"Very well, then," cried my uncle, getting to his feet with some
alacrity, as upon a sudden change of thought, "I will get him myself."

"Ye will not!" cried my grandfather. "Ye will sit there upon your

"Then how the devil am I to get him?" my uncle broke forth, with not
unnatural petulance.

My grandfather (having no possible answer) grinned at his son with the
malice of a schoolboy; then he rang the bell.

"Take the garden key," said Uncle Adam to the servant; "go over to the
garden, and if Mr. Gregg the lawyer is there (he generally sits under
the red hawthorn), give him old Mr. Loudon's compliments, and will he
step in here for a moment?"

"Mr. Gregg the lawyer!" At once I understood (what had been puzzling me)
the significance of my grandfather and the alarm of my poor uncle: the
stonemason's will, it was supposed, hung trembling in the balance.

"Look here, grandfather," I said, "I didn't want any of this. All
I wanted was a loan of (say) two hundred pounds. I can take care
of myself; I have prospects and opportunities, good friends in the

The old man waved me down. "It's me that speaks here," he said curtly;
and we waited the coming of the lawyer in a triple silence. He appeared
at last, the maid ushering him in--a spectacled, dry, but not ungenial
looking man.


"Here, Gregg," cried my grandfather. "Just a question: What has Aadam
got to do with my will?"

"I'm afraid I don't quite understand," said the lawyer, staring.

"What has he got to do with it?" repeated the old man, smiting with his
fist upon the arm of his chair. "Is my money mine's, or is it Aadam's?
Can Aadam interfere?"

"O, I see," said Mr. Gregg. "Certainly not. On the marriage of both
of your children a certain sum was paid down and accepted in full of
legitim. You have surely not forgotten the circumstance, Mr. Loudon?"

"So that, if I like," concluded my grandfather, hammering out his
words, "I can leave every doit I die possessed of to the Great
Magunn?"--meaning probably the Great Mogul.

"No doubt of it," replied Gregg, with a shadow of a smile.

"Ye hear that, Aadam?" asked my grandfather.

"I may be allowed to say I had no need to hear it," said my uncle.

"Very well," says my grandfather. "You and Jeannie's yin can go for a
bit walk. Me and Gregg has business."

When once I was in the hall alone with Uncle Adam, I turned to him, sick
at heart. "Uncle Adam," I said, "you can understand, better than I can
say, how very painful all this is to me."

"Yes, I am sorry you have seen your grandfather in so unamiable a
light," replied this extraordinary man. "You shouldn't allow it
to affect your mind though. He has sterling qualities, quite an
extraordinary character; and I have no fear but he means to behave
handsomely to you."

His composure was beyond my imitation: the house could not contain
me, nor could I even promise to return to it: in concession to which
weakness, it was agreed that I should call in about an hour at the
office of the lawyer, whom (as he left the library) Uncle Adam should
waylay and inform of the arrangement. I suppose there was never a more
topsy-turvy situation: you would have thought it was I who had suffered
some rebuff, and that iron-sided Adam was a generous conqueror who
scorned to take advantage.

It was plain enough that I was to be endowed: to what extent and upon
what conditions I was now left for an hour to meditate in the wide
and solitary thoroughfares of the new town, taking counsel with
street-corner statues of George IV. and William Pitt, improving my
mind with the pictures in the window of a music-shop, and renewing my
acquaintance with Edinburgh east wind. By the end of the hour I made my
way to Mr. Gregg's office, where I was placed, with a few appropriate
words, in possession of a cheque for two thousand pounds and a small
parcel of architectural works.

"Mr. Loudon bids me add," continued the lawyer, consulting a little
sheet of notes, "that although these volumes are very valuable to the
practical builder, you must be careful not to lose originality. He tells
you also not to be 'hadden doun'--his own expression--by the theory of
strains, and that Portland cement, properly sanded, will go a long way."

I smiled, and remarked that I supposed it would.

"I once lived in one of my excellent client's houses," observed the
lawyer; "and I was tempted, in that case, to think it had gone far

"Under these circumstances, sir," said I, "you will be rather relieved
to hear that I have no intention of becoming a builder."

At this, he fairly laughed; and, the ice being broken, I was able to
consult him as to my conduct. He insisted I must return to the house,
at least, for luncheon, and one of my walks with Mr. Loudon. "For the
evening, I will furnish you with an excuse, if you please," said he, "by
asking you to a bachelor dinner with myself. But the luncheon and the
walk are unavoidable. He is an old man, and, I believe, really fond of
you; he would naturally feel aggrieved if there were any appearance of
avoiding him; and as for Mr. Adam, do you know, I think your delicacy
out of place.... And now, Mr. Dodd, what are you to do with this money?"

Ay, there was the question. With two thousand pounds--fifty thousand
francs--I might return to Paris and the arts, and be a prince and
millionaire in that thrifty Latin Quarter. I think I had the grace, with
one corner of my mind, to be glad that I had sent the London letter: I
know very well that with the rest and worst of me, I repented bitterly
of that precipitate act. On one point, however, my whole multiplex
estate of man was unanimous: the letter being gone, there was no help
but I must follow. The money was accordingly divided in two unequal
shares: for the first, Mr. Gregg got me a bill in the name of Dijon to
meet my liabilities in Paris; for the second, as I had already cash in
hand for the expenses of my journey, he supplied me with drafts on San

The rest of my business in Edinburgh, not to dwell on a very agreeable
dinner with the lawyer or the horrors of the family luncheon, took the
form of an excursion with the stonemason, who led me this time to no
suburb or work of his old hands, but with an impulse both natural and
pretty, to that more enduring home which he had chosen for his clay. It
was in a cemetery, by some strange chance, immured within the bulwarks
of a prison; standing, besides, on the margin of a cliff, crowded with
elderly stone memorials, and green with turf and ivy. The east wind
(which I thought too harsh for the old man) continually shook the
boughs, and the thin sun of a Scottish summer drew their dancing

"I wanted ye to see the place," said he. "Yon's the stane. Euphemia
Ross: that was my goodwife, your grandmither--hoots! I'm wrong; that was
my first yin; I had no bairns by her;--yours is the second, Mary Murray,
Born 1819, Died 1850: that's her--a fine, plain, decent sort of
a creature, tak' her athegether. Alexander Loudon, Born Seventeen
Ninety-Twa, Died--and then a hole in the ballant: that's me. Alexander's
my name. They ca'd me Ecky when I was a boy. Eh, Ecky! ye're an awfu'
auld man!"

I had a second and sadder experience of graveyards at my next
alighting-place, the city of Muskegon, now rendered conspicuous by
the dome of the new capitol encaged in scaffolding. It was late in the
afternoon when I arrived, and raining; and as I walked in great streets,
of the very name of which I was quite ignorant--double, treble, and
quadruple lines of horse-cars jingling by--hundred-fold wires of
telegraph and telephone matting heaven above my head--huge, staring
houses, garish and gloomy, flanking me from either hand--the thought of
the Rue Racine, ay, and of the cabman's eating-house, brought tears to
my eyes. The whole monotonous Babel had grown, or I should rather say
swelled, with such a leap since my departure, that I must continually
inquire my way; and the very cemetery was brand new. Death, however, had
been active; the graves were already numerous, and I must pick my way
in the rain, among the tawdry sepulchres of millionnaires, and past the
plain black crosses of Hungarian labourers, till chance or instinct led
me to the place that was my father's. The stone had been erected (I
knew already) "by admiring friends"; I could now judge their taste in
monuments; their taste in literature, methought, I could imagine, and I
refrained from drawing near enough to read the terms of the inscription.
But the name was in larger letters and stared at me--JAMES K. DODD.
What a singular thing is a name, I thought; how it clings to a man, and
continually misrepresents, and then survives him; and it flashed across
my mind, with a mixture of regret and bitter mirth, that I had never
known, and now probably never should know, what the K had represented.
King, Kilter, Kay, Kaiser, I went, running over names at random, and
then stumbled with ludicrous misspelling on Kornelius, and had nearly
laughed aloud. I have never been more childish; I suppose (although the
deeper voices of my nature seemed all dumb) because I have never been
more moved. And at this last incongruous antic of my nerves, I was
seized with a panic of remorse and fled the cemetery.

Scarce less funereal was the rest of my experience in Muskegon, where,
nevertheless, I lingered, visiting my father's circle, for some days. It
was in piety to him I lingered; and I might have spared myself the pain.
His memory was already quite gone out. For his sake, indeed, I was made
welcome; and for mine the conversation rolled awhile with laborious
effort on the virtues of the deceased. His former comrades dwelt, in
my company, upon his business talents or his generosity for public
purposes; when my back was turned, they remembered him no more. My
father had loved me; I had left him alone to live and die among the
indifferent; now I returned to find him dead and buried and forgotten.
Unavailing penitence translated itself in my thoughts to fresh resolve.
There was another poor soul who loved me: Pinkerton. I must not be
guilty twice of the same error.

A week perhaps had been thus wasted, nor had I prepared my friend for
the delay. Accordingly, when I had changed trains at Council Bluffs, I
was aware of a man appearing at the end of the car with a telegram in
his hand and inquiring whether there were any one aboard "of the name of
LONDON Dodd?" I thought the name near enough, claimed the despatch,
and found it was from Pinkerton: "What day do you arrive? Awfully
important." I sent him an answer giving day and hour, and at Ogden found
a fresh despatch awaiting me: "That will do. Unspeakable relief. Meet
you at Sacramento." In Paris days I had a private name for Pinkerton:
"The Irrepressible" was what I had called him in hours of bitterness,
and the name rose once more on my lips. What mischief was he up to now?
What new bowl was my benignant monster brewing for his Frankenstein? In
what new imbroglio should I alight on the Pacific coast? My trust in
the man was entire, and my distrust perfect. I knew he would never
mean amiss; but I was convinced he would almost never (in my sense) do

I suppose these vague anticipations added a shade of gloom to that
already gloomy place of travel: Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, scowled
in my face at least, and seemed to point me back again to that other
native land of mine, the Latin Quarter. But when the Sierras had been
climbed, and the train, after so long beating and panting, stretched
itself upon the downward track--when I beheld that vast extent
of prosperous country rolling seaward from the woods and the blue
mountains, that illimitable spread of rippling corn, the trees growing
and blowing in the merry weather, the country boys thronging aboard
the train with figs and peaches, and the conductors, and the very
darky stewards, visibly exulting in the change--up went my soul like a
balloon; Care fell from his perch upon my shoulders; and when I spied
my Pinkerton among the crowd at Sacramento, I thought of nothing but to
shout and wave for him, and grasp him by the hand, like what he was--my
dearest friend.

"O Loudon!" he cried. "Man, how I've pined for you! And you haven't come
an hour too soon. You're known here and waited for; I've been booming
you already; you're billed for a lecture to-morrow night: _Student
Life in Paris, Grave and Gay_: twelve hundred places booked at the last
stock! Tut, man, you're looking thin! Here, try a drop of this." And
he produced a case bottle, staringly labelled PINKERTON'S THIRTEEN STAR

"God bless me!" said I, gasping and winking after my first plunge into
this fiery fluid. "And what does 'Warranted Entire' mean?"

"Why, Loudon! you ought to know that!" cried Pinkerton. "It's real,
copper-bottomed English; you see it on all the old-time wayside
hostelries over there."

"But if I'm not mistaken, it means something Warranted Entirely
different," said I, "and applies to the public house, and not the
beverages sold."

"It's very possible," said Jim, quite unabashed. "It's effective,
anyway; and I can tell you, sir, it has boomed that spirit: it goes now
by the gross of cases. By the way, I hope you won't mind; I've got your
portrait all over San Francisco for the lecture, enlarged from that
carte de visite: H. Loudon Dodd, the Americo-Parisienne Sculptor. Here's
a proof of the small handbills; the posters are the same, only in red
and blue, and the letters fourteen by one."

I looked at the handbill, and my head turned. What was the use of
words? why seek to explain to Pinkerton the knotted horrors of
"Americo-Parisienne"? He took an early occasion to point it out as
"rather a good phrase; gives the two sides at a glance: I wanted the
lecture written up to that." Even after we had reached San Francisco,
and at the actual physical shock of my own effigy placarded on the
streets I had broken forth in petulant words, he never comprehended in
the least the ground of my aversion.

"If I had only known you disliked red lettering!" was as high as he
could rise. "You are perfectly right: a clear-cut black is preferable,
and shows a great deal further. The only thing that pains me is the
portrait: I own I thought that a success. I'm dreadfully and truly
sorry, my dear fellow: I see now it's not what you had a right to
expect; but I did it, Loudon, for the best; and the press is all

At the moment, sweeping through green tule swamps, I fell direct on the
essential. "But, Pinkerton," I cried, "this lecture is the maddest of
your madnesses. How can I prepare a lecture in thirty hours?"

"All done, Loudon!" he exclaimed in triumph. "All ready. Trust me to
pull a piece of business through. You'll find it all type-written in my
desk at home. I put the best talent of San Francisco on the job: Harry
Miller, the brightest pressman in the city."

And so he rattled on, beyond reach of my modest protestations, blurting
out his complicated interests, crying up his new acquaintances, and ever
and again hungering to introduce me to some "whole-souled, grand fellow,
as sharp as a needle," from whom, and the very thought of whom, my
spirit shrank instinctively.

Well, I was in for it: in for Pinkerton, in for the portrait, in for the
type-written lecture. One promise I extorted--that I was never again to
be committed in ignorance; even for that, when I saw how its extortion
puzzled and depressed the Irrepressible, my soul repented me; and in all
else I suffered myself to be led uncomplaining at his chariot wheels.
The Irrepressible, did I say? The Irresistible were nigher truth.

But the time to have seen me was when I sat down to Harry Miller's
lecture. He was a facetious dog, this Harry Miller; he had a gallant way
of skirting the indecent which (in my case) produced physical nausea;
and he could be sentimental and even melodramatic about grisettes and
starving genius. I found he had enjoyed the benefit of my correspondence
with Pinkerton: adventures of my own were here and there horridly
misrepresented, sentiments of my own echoed and exaggerated till I
blushed to recognise them. I will do Harry Miller justice: he must have
had a kind of talent, almost of genius; all attempts to lower his
tone proving fruitless, and the Harry-Millerism ineradicable. Nay, the
monster had a certain key of style, or want of style, so that certain
milder passages, which I sought to introduce, discorded horribly, and
impoverished (if that were possible) the general effect.

By an early hour of the numbered evening I might have been observed at
the sign of the Poodle Dog, dining with my agent: so Pinkerton delighted
to describe himself. Thence, like an ox to the slaughter, he led me
to the hall, where I stood presently alone, confronting assembled San
Francisco, with no better allies than a table, a glass of water, and a
mass of manuscript and typework, representing Harry Miller and myself.
I read the lecture; for I had lacked both time and will to get the trash
by heart--read it hurriedly, humbly, and with visible shame. Now and
then I would catch in the auditorium an eye of some intelligence, now
and then, in the manuscript, would stumble on a richer vein of Harry
Miller, and my heart would fail me, and I gabbled. The audience yawned,
it stirred uneasily, it muttered, grumbled, and broke forth at last
in articulate cries of "Speak up!" and "Nobody can hear!" I took to
skipping, and being extremely ill-acquainted with the country, almost
invariably cut in again in the unintelligible midst of some new topic.
What struck me as extremely ominous, these misfortunes were allowed to
pass without a laugh. Indeed, I was beginning to fear the worst, and
even personal indignity, when all at once the humour of the thing broke
upon me strongly. I could have laughed aloud; and being again summoned
to speak up, I faced my patrons for the first time with a smile. "Very
well," I said, "I will try, though I don't suppose anybody wants to
hear, and I can't see why anybody should." Audience and lecturer laughed
together till the tears ran down; vociferous and repeated applause
hailed my impromptu sally. Another hit which I made but a little after,
as I turned three pages of the copy: "You see, I am leaving out as much
as I possibly can," increased the esteem with which my patrons had begun
to regard me; and when I left the stage at last, my departing form was
cheered with laughter, stamping, shouting, and the waving of hats.

Pinkerton was in the waiting-room, feverishly jotting in his
pocket-book. As he saw me enter, he sprang up, and I declare the tears
were trickling on his cheeks.

"My dear boy," he cried, "I can never forgive myself, and you can never
forgive me. Never mind: I did it for the best. And how nobly you clung
on! I dreaded we should have had to return the money at the doors."

"It would have been more honest if we had," said I.

The pressmen followed me, Harry Miller in the front ranks; and I was
amazed to find them, on the whole, a pleasant set of lads, probably
more sinned against than sinning, and even Harry Miller apparently
a gentleman. I had in oysters and champagne--for the receipts were
excellent--and being in a high state of nervous tension, kept the table
in a roar. Indeed, I was never in my life so well inspired as when I
described my vigil over Harry Miller's literature or the series of my
emotions as I faced the audience. The lads vowed I was the soul of good
company and the prince of lecturers; and--so wonderful an institution
is the popular press--if you had seen the notices next day in all the
papers, you must have supposed my evening's entertainment an unqualified

I was in excellent spirits when I returned home that night, but the
miserable Pinkerton sorrowed for us both.

"O, Loudon," he said, "I shall never forgive myself. When I saw you
didn't catch on to the idea of the lecture, I should have given it






Opes Strepitumque.

The food of the body differs not so greatly for the fool or the sage,
the elephant or the cock-sparrow; and similar chemical elements,
variously disguised, support all mortals. A brief study of Pinkerton
in his new setting convinced me of a kindred truth about that other and
mental digestion, by which we extract what is called "fun for our money"
out of life. In the same spirit as a schoolboy, deep in Mayne Reid,
handles a dummy gun and crawls among imaginary forests, Pinkerton sped
through Kearney Street upon his daily business, representing to himself
a highly coloured part in life's performance, and happy for hours if
he should have chanced to brush against a millionnaire. Reality was his
romance; he gloried to be thus engaged; he wallowed in his business.
Suppose a man to dig up a galleon on the Coromandel coast, his rakish
schooner keeping the while an offing under easy sail, and he, by the
blaze of a great fire of wreckwood, to measure ingots by the bucketful
on the uproarious beach: such an one might realise a greater material
spoil; he should have no more profit of romance than Pinkerton when he
cast up his weekly balance-sheet in a bald office. Every dollar gained
was like something brought ashore from a mysterious deep; every venture
made was like a diver's plunge; and as he thrust his bold hand into the
plexus of the money-market, he was delightedly aware of how he shook the
pillars of existence, turned out men (as at a battle-cry) to labour
in far countries, and set the gold twitching in the drawers of

I could never fathom the full extent of his speculations; but there were
five separate businesses which he avowed and carried like a banner. The
Thirteen Star Golden State Brandy, Warranted Entire (a very flagrant
distillation) filled a great part of his thoughts, and was kept before
the public in an eloquent but misleading treatise: _Why Drink French
Brandy? A Word to the Wise._ He kept an office for advertisers,
counselling, designing, acting as middleman with printers and
bill-stickers, for the inexperienced or the uninspired: the dull
haberdasher came to him for ideas, the smart theatrical agent for his
local knowledge; and one and all departed with a copy of his pamphlet:
_How, When, and Where; or, the Advertiser's Vade-Mecum._ He had a tug
chartered every Saturday afternoon and night, carried people outside the
Heads, and provided them with lines and bait for six hours' fishing,
at the rate of five dollars a person. I am told that some of
them (doubtless adroit anglers) made a profit on the transaction.
Occasionally he bought wrecks and condemned vessels; these latter (I
cannot tell you how) found their way to sea again under aliases, and
continued to stem the waves triumphantly enough under the colours of
Bolivia or Nicaragua. Lastly, there was a certain agricultural engine,
glorying in a great deal of vermilion and blue paint, and filling (it
appeared) a "long-felt want," in which his interest was something like a

This for the face or front of his concerns. "On the outside," as he
phrased it, he was variously and mysteriously engaged. No dollar slept
in his possession; rather he kept all simultaneously flying like a
conjurer with oranges. My own earnings, when I began to have a share, he
would but show me for a moment, and disperse again, like those illusive
money gifts which are flashed in the eyes of childhood only to be
entombed in the missionary box. And he would come down radiant from a
weekly balance-sheet, clap me on the shoulder, declare himself a winner
by Gargantuan figures, and prove destitute of a quarter for a drink.

"What on earth have you done with it?" I would ask.

"Into the mill again; all re-invested!" he would cry, with infinite
delight. Investment was ever his word. He could not bear what he called
gambling. "Never touch stocks, Loudon," he would say; "nothing but
legitimate business." And yet, Heaven knows, many an indurated gambler
might have drawn back appalled at the first hint of some of Pinkerton's
investments! One, which I succeeded in tracking home, and instance for
a specimen, was a seventh share in the charter of a certain ill-starred
schooner bound for Mexico, to smuggle weapons on the one trip, and
cigars upon the other. The latter end of this enterprise, involving (as
it did) shipwreck, confiscation, and a lawsuit with the underwriters,
was too painful to be dwelt upon at length. "It's proved a
disappointment," was as far as my friend would go with me in words; but
I knew, from observation, that the fabric of his fortunes tottered. For
the rest, it was only by accident I got wind of the transaction; for
Pinkerton, after a time, was shy of introducing me to his arcana: the
reason you are to hear presently.

The office which was (or should have been) the point of rest for so many
evolving dollars stood in the heart of the city: a high and spacious
room, with many plate-glass windows. A glazed cabinet of polished
redwood offered to the eye a regiment of some two hundred bottles,
conspicuously labelled. These were all charged with Pinkerton's Thirteen
Star, although from across the room it would have required an expert to
distinguish them from the same number of bottles of Courvoisier. I used
to twit my friend with this resemblance, and propose a new edition of
the pamphlet, with the title thus improved: _Why Drink French Brandy,
when we give you the same labels?_ The doors of the cabinet revolved all
day upon their hinges; and if there entered any one who was a stranger
to the merits of the brand, he departed laden with a bottle. When I used
to protest at this extravagance, "My dear Loudon," Pinkerton would cry,
"you don't seem to catch on to business principles! The prime cost of
the spirit is literally nothing. I couldn't find a cheaper advertisement
if I tried." Against the side post of the cabinet there leaned a gaudy
umbrella, preserved there as a relic. It appears that when Pinkerton was
about to place Thirteen Star upon the market, the rainy season was
at hand. He lay dark, almost in penury, awaiting the first shower, at
which, as upon a signal, the main thoroughfares became dotted with his
agents, vendors of advertisements; and the whole world of San Francisco,
from the businessman fleeing for the ferry-boat, to the lady waiting
at the corner for her car, sheltered itself under umbrellas with this
strange device: Are you wet? Try Thirteen Star. "It was a mammoth boom,"
said Pinkerton, with a sigh of delighted recollection. "There wasn't
another umbrella to be seen. I stood at this window, Loudon, feasting
my eyes; and I declare, I felt like Vanderbilt." And it was to this neat
application of the local climate that he owed, not only much of the sale
of Thirteen Star, but the whole business of his advertising agency.

The large desk (to resume our survey of the office) stood about the
middle, knee-deep in stacks of handbills and posters, of _Why Drink
French Brandy?_ and _The Advertiser's Vade-Mecum._ It was flanked upon
the one hand by two female type-writers, who rested not between
the hours of nine and four, and upon the other by a model of the
agricultural machine. The walls, where they were not broken by telephone
boxes and a couple of photographs--one representing the wreck of the
James L. Moody on a bold and broken coast, the other the Saturday tug
alive with amateur fishers--almost disappeared under oil-paintings
gaudily framed. Many of these were relics of the Latin Quarter, and I
must do Pinkerton the justice to say that none of them were bad,
and some had remarkable merit. They went off slowly but for handsome
figures; and their places were progressively supplied with the work of
local artists. These last it was one of my first duties to review and
criticise. Some of them were villainous, yet all were saleable. I said
so; and the next moment saw myself, the figure of a miserable renegade,
bearing arms in the wrong camp. I was to look at pictures thenceforward,
not with the eye of the artist, but the dealer; and I saw the stream
widen that divided me from all I loved.

"Now, Loudon," Pinkerton had said, the morning after the lecture, "now
Loudon, we can go at it shoulder to shoulder. This is what I have longed
for: I wanted two heads and four arms; and now I have 'em. You'll find
it's just the same as art--all observation and imagination; only more
movement. Just wait till you begin to feel the charm!"

I might have waited long. Perhaps I lack a sense; for our whole
existence seemed to me one dreary bustle, and the place we bustled in
fitly to be called the Place of Yawning. I slept in a little den behind
the office; Pinkerton, in the office itself, stretched on a patent sofa
which sometimes collapsed, his slumbers still further menaced by an
imminent clock with an alarm. Roused by this diabolical contrivance, we
rose early, went forth early to breakfast, and returned by nine to what
Pinkerton called work, and I distraction. Masses of letters must be
opened, read, and answered; some by me at a subsidiary desk which had
been introduced on the morning of my arrival; others by my bright-eyed
friend, pacing the room like a caged lion as he dictated to the tinkling
type-writers. Masses of wet proof had to be overhauled and scrawled upon
with a blue pencil--"rustic"--"six-inch caps"--"bold spacing here"--or
sometimes terms more fervid, as for instance this, which I remember
Pinkerton to have spirted on the margin of an advertisement of Soothing
Syrup: "Throw this all down. Have you never printed an advertisement?
I'll be round in half an hour." The ledger and sale-book, besides,
we had always with us. Such was the backbone of our occupation, and
tolerable enough; but the far greater proportion of our time was
consumed by visitors, whole-souled, grand fellows no doubt, and as sharp
as a needle, but to me unfortunately not diverting. Some were apparently
half-witted, and must be talked over by the hour before they could reach
the humblest decision, which they only left the office to return again
(ten minutes later) and rescind. Others came with a vast show of hurry
and despatch, but I observed it to be principally show. The agricultural
model for instance, which was practicable, proved a kind of flypaper for
these busybodies. I have seen them blankly turn the crank of it for five
minutes at a time, simulating (to nobody's deception) business interest:
"Good thing this, Pinkerton? Sell much of it? Ha! Couldn't use it,
I suppose, as a medium of advertisement for my article?"--which was
perhaps toilet soap. Others (a still worse variety) carried us to
neighbouring saloons to dice for cocktails and (after the cocktails were
paid) for dollars on a corner of the counter. The attraction of dice for
all these people was indeed extraordinary: at a certain club, where I
once dined in the character of "my partner, Mr. Dodd," the dice-box came
on the table with the wine, an artless substitute for after-dinner wit.

Of all our visitors, I believe I preferred Emperor Norton; the very
mention of whose name reminds me I am doing scanty justice to the
folks of San Francisco. In what other city would a harmless madman who
supposed himself emperor of the two Americas have been so fostered
and encouraged? Where else would even the people of the streets have
respected the poor soul's illusion? Where else would bankers and
merchants have received his visits, cashed his cheques, and submitted to
his small assessments? Where else would he have been suffered to attend
and address the exhibition days of schools and colleges? where else,
in God's green earth, have taken his pick of restaurants, ransacked
the bill of fare, and departed scathless? They tell me he was even an
exacting patron, threatening to withdraw his custom when dissatisfied;
and I can believe it, for his face wore an expression distinctly
gastronomical. Pinkerton had received from this monarch a cabinet
appointment; I have seen the brevet, wondering mainly at the good nature
of the printer who had executed the forms, and I think my friend was at
the head either of foreign affairs or education: it mattered, indeed,
nothing, the presentation being in all offices identical. It was at a
comparatively early date that I saw Jim in the exercise of his public
functions. His Majesty entered the office--a portly, rather flabby man,
with the face of a gentleman, rendered unspeakably pathetic and absurd
by the great sabre at his side and the peacock's feather in his hat.


"I have called to remind you, Mr. Pinkerton, that you are somewhat in
arrear of taxes," he said, with old-fashioned, stately courtesy.

"Well, your Majesty, what is the amount?" asked Jim; and when the figure
was named (it was generally two or three dollars), paid upon the nail
and offered a bonus in the shape of Thirteen Star.

"I am always delighted to patronise native industries," said Norton the
First. "San Francisco is public-spirited in what concerns its Emperor;
and indeed, sir, of all my domains, it is my favourite city."

"Come," said I, when he was gone, "I prefer that customer to the lot."

"It's really rather a distinction," Jim admitted. "I think it must have
been the umbrella racket that attracted him."

We were distinguished under the rose by the notice of other and greater
men. There were days when Jim wore an air of unusual capacity and
resolve, spoke with more brevity like one pressed for time, and took
often on his tongue such phrases as "Longhurst told me so this morning,"
or "I had it straight from Longhurst himself." It was no wonder, I used
to think, that Pinkerton was called to council with such Titans; for the
creature's quickness and resource were beyond praise. In the early
days when he consulted me without reserve, pacing the room, projecting,
ciphering, extending hypothetical interests, trebling imaginary capital,
his "engine" (to renew an excellent old word) labouring full steam
ahead, I could never decide whether my sense of respect or entertainment
were the stronger. But these good hours were destined to curtailment.

"Yes, it's smart enough," I once observed. "But, Pinkerton, do you think
it's honest?"

"You don't think it's honest!" he wailed. "O dear me, that ever I should
have heard such an expression on your lips!"

At sight of his distress, I plagiarised unblushingly from Myner. "You
seem to think honesty as simple as Blind Man's Buff," said I. "It's a
more delicate affair than that: delicate as any art."

"O well! at that rate!" he exclaimed, with complete relief. "That's

"I am perfectly certain of one thing: that what you propose is
dishonest," I returned.

"Well, say no more about it. That's settled," he replied.

Thus, almost at a word, my point was carried. But the trouble was that
such differences continued to recur, until we began to regard each other
with alarm. If there were one thing Pinkerton valued himself upon, it
was his honesty; if there were one thing he clung to, it was my
good opinion; and when both were involved, as was the case in these
commercial cruces, the man was on the rack. My own position, if you
consider how much I owed him, how hateful is the trade of fault-finder,
and that yet I lived and fattened on these questionable operations,
was perhaps equally distressing. If I had been more sterling or more
combative things might have gone extremely far. But, in truth, I was
just base enough to profit by what was not forced on my attention,
rather than seek scenes: Pinkerton quite cunning enough to avail himself
of my weakness; and it was a relief to both when he began to involve his
proceedings in a decent mystery.

Our last dispute, which had a most unlooked-for consequence, turned on
the refitting of condemned ships. He had bought a miserable hulk, and
came, rubbing his hands, to inform me she was already on the slip, under
a new name, to be repaired. When first I had heard of this industry I
suppose I scarcely comprehended; but much discussion had sharpened my
faculties, and now my brow became heavy.

"I can be no party to that, Pinkerton," said I.

He leaped like a man shot. "What next?" he cried. "What ails you,
anyway? You seem to me to dislike everything that's profitable."

"This ship has been condemned by Lloyd's agent," said I.

"But I tell you it's a deal. The ship's in splendid condition;
there's next to nothing wrong with her but the garboard streak and the
sternpost. I tell you Lloyd's is a ring like everybody else; only it's
an English ring, and that's what deceives you. If it was American, you
would be crying it down all day. It's Anglomania, common Anglomania," he
cried, with growing irritation.

"I will not make money by risking men's lives," was my ultimatum.

"Great Caesar! isn't all speculation a risk? Isn't the fairest kind of
shipowning to risk men's lives? And mining--how's that for risk? And
look at the elevator business--there's danger, if you like! Didn't I
take my risk when I bought her? She might have been too far gone; and
where would I have been? Loudon," he cried, "I tell you the truth:
you're too full of refinement for this world!"

"I condemn you out of your own lips," I replied. "'The fairest kind of
shipowning,' says you. If you please, let us only do the fairest kind of

The shot told; the Irrepressible was silenced; and I profited by the
chance to pour in a broadside of another sort. He was all sunk in
money-getting, I pointed out; he never dreamed of anything but dollars.
Where were all his generous, progressive sentiments? Where was his
culture? I asked. And where was the American Type?

"It's true, Loudon," he cried, striding up and down the room, and
wildly scouring at his hair. "You're perfectly right. I'm becoming
materialised. O, what a thing to have to say, what a confession to make!
Materialised! Me! Loudon, this must go on no longer. You've been a loyal
friend to me once more; give me your hand!--you've saved me again. I
must do something to rouse the spiritual side; something desperate;
study something, something dry and tough. What shall it be? Theology?
Algebra? What's Algebra?"

"It's dry and tough enough," said I; "a squared + 2ab + b squared."

"It's stimulating, though?" he inquired.

I told him I believed so, and that it was considered fortifying to

"Then that's the thing for me. I'll study Algebra," he concluded.

The next day, by application to one of his type-writing women, he got
word of a young lady, one Miss Mamie McBride, who was willing and able
to conduct him in these bloomless meadows; and, her circumstances
being lean, and terms consequently moderate, he and Mamie were soon
in agreement for two lessons in the week. He took fire with unexampled
rapidity; he seemed unable to tear himself away from the symbolic art;
an hour's lesson occupied the whole evening; and the original two was
soon increased to four, and then to five. I bade him beware of female
blandishments. "The first thing you know, you'll be falling in love with
the algebraist," said I.

"Don't say it even in jest," he cried. "She's a lady I revere. I could
no more lay a hand upon her than I could upon a spirit. Loudon, I don't
believe God ever made a purer-minded woman."

Which appeared to me too fervent to be reassuring.

Meanwhile I had been long expostulating with my friend upon a different
matter. "I'm the fifth wheel," I kept telling him. "For any use I am,
I might as well be in Senegambia. The letters you give me to attend
to might be answered by a sucking child. And I tell you what it is,
Pinkerton: either you've got to find me some employment, or I'll have to
start in and find it for myself."

This I said with a corner of my eye in the usual quarter, toward the
arts, little dreaming what destiny was to provide.

"I've got it, Loudon," Pinkerton at last replied. "Got the idea on the
Potrero cars. Found I hadn't a pencil, borrowed one from the conductor,
and figured on it roughly all the way in town. I saw it was the thing at
last; gives you a real show. All your talents and accomplishments come
in. Here's a sketch advertisement. Just run your eye over it. 'Sun,
Ozone, and Music! PINKERTON'S HEBDOMADARY PICNICS!' (That's a good,
catching phrase, 'hebdomadary,' though it's hard to say. I made a note
of it when I was looking in the dictionary how to spell hectagonal.
'Well, you're a boss word,' I said. 'Before you're very much older, I'll
have you in type as long as yourself.' And here it is, you see.) 'Five
dollars a head, and ladies free. MONSTER OLIO OF ATTRACTIONS.' (How does
that strike you?) 'Free luncheon under the greenwood tree. Dance on
the elastic sward. Home again in the Bright Evening Hours. Manager and
Honorary Steward, H. Loudon Dodd, Esq., the well-known connoisseur.'"


Singular how a man runs from Scylla to Charybdis! I was so intent on
securing the disappearance of a single epithet that I accepted the rest
of the advertisement and all that it involved without discussion. So it
befell that the words "well-known connoisseur" were deleted; but that
H. Loudon Dodd became manager and honorary steward of Pinkerton's
Hebdomadary Picnics, soon shortened, by popular consent, to the

By eight o'clock, any Sunday morning, I was to be observed by an
admiring public on the wharf. The garb and attributes of sacrifice
consisted of a black frock coat, rosetted, its pockets bulging with
sweetmeats and inferior cigars, trousers of light blue, a silk hat
like a reflector, and a varnished wand. A goodly steamer guarded my
one flank, panting and throbbing, flags fluttering fore and aft of her,
illustrative of the Dromedary and patriotism. My other flank was covered
by the ticket-office, strongly held by a trusty character of the Scots
persuasion, rosetted like his superior and smoking a cigar to mark the
occasion festive. At half-past, having assured myself that all was well
with the free luncheons, I lit a cigar myself, and awaited the strains
of the "Pioneer Band." I had never to wait long--they were German and
punctual--and by a few minutes after the half-hour, I would hear them
booming down street with a long military roll of drums, some score of
gratuitous asses prancing at the head in bearskin hats and buckskin
aprons, and conspicuous with resplendent axes. The band, of course,
we paid for; but so strong is the San Franciscan passion for public
masquerade, that the asses (as I say) were all gratuitous, pranced for
the love of it, and cost us nothing but their luncheon.

The musicians formed up in the bows of my steamer, and struck into
a skittish polka; the asses mounted guard upon the gangway and the
ticket-office; and presently after, in family parties of father, mother,
and children, in the form of duplicate lovers or in that of solitary
youth, the public began to descend upon us by the carful at a time; four
to six hundred perhaps, with a strong German flavour, and all merry as
children. When these had been shepherded on board, and the inevitable
belated two or three had gained the deck amidst the cheering of the
public, the hawser was cast off, and we plunged into the bay.

And now behold the honorary steward in hour of duty and glory; see me
circulate amid crowd, radiating affability and laughter, liberal with
my sweetmeats and cigars. I say unblushing things to hobbledehoy girls,
tell shy young persons this is the married people's boat, roguishly
ask the abstracted if they are thinking of their sweethearts, offer
Paterfamilias a cigar, am struck with the beauty and grow curious about
the age of mamma's youngest who (I assure her gaily) will be a man
before his mother; or perhaps it may occur to me, from the sensible
expression of her face, that she is a person of good counsel, and I
ask her earnestly if she knows any particularly pleasant place on the
Saucelito or San Rafael coast, for the scene of our picnic is always
supposed to be uncertain. The next moment I am back at my giddy badinage
with the young ladies, wakening laughter as I go, and leaving in my wake
applausive comments of "Isn't Mr. Dodd a funny gentleman?" and "O, I
think he's just too nice!"

An hour having passed in this airy manner, I start upon my rounds
afresh, with a bag full of coloured tickets, all with pins attached, and
all with legible inscriptions: "Old Germany," "California," "True Love,"
"Old Fogies," "La Belle France," "Green Erin," "The Land of Cakes,"
"Washington," "Blue Jay," "Robin Red-Breast,"--twenty of each
denomination; for when it comes to the luncheon, we sit down by
twenties. These are distributed with anxious tact--for, indeed, this
is the most delicate part of my functions--but outwardly with reckless
unconcern, amidst the gayest flutter and confusion; and are immediately
after sported upon hats and bonnets, to the extreme diffusion of
cordiality, total strangers hailing each other by "the number of their
mess"--so we humorously name it--and the deck ringing with cries of,
"Here, all Blue Jays to the rescue!" or, "I say, am I alone in this
blame' ship? Ain't there no more Californians?"

By this time we are drawing near to the appointed spot. I mount upon the
bridge, the observed of all observers.

"Captain," I say, in clear, emphatic tones, heard far and wide, "the
majority of the company appear to be in favour of the little cove beyond
One Tree Point."

"All right, Mr. Dodd," responds the captain, heartily; "all one to me.
I am not exactly sure of the place you mean; but just you stay here and
pilot me."

I do, pointing with my wand. I do pilot him, to the inexpressible
entertainment of the picnic; for I am (why should I deny it?) the
popular man. We slow down off the mouth of a grassy valley, watered by
a brook, and set in pines and redwoods. The anchor is let go; the
boats are lowered, two of them already packed with the materials of
an impromptu bar; and the Pioneer Band, accompanied by the resplendent
asses, fill the other, and move shoreward to the inviting strains of
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out to-night? It is a part of our programme
that one of the asses shall, from sheer clumsiness, in the course of
this embarkation, drop a dummy axe into the water, whereupon the mirth
of the picnic can hardly be assuaged. Upon one occasion, the dummy axe
floated, and the laugh turned rather the wrong way.

In from ten to twenty minutes the boats are along-side again, the messes
are marshalled separately on the deck, and the picnic goes ashore,
to find the band and the impromptu bar awaiting them. Then come the
hampers, which are piled upon the beach, and surrounded by a stern
guard of stalwart asses, axe on shoulder. It is here I take my place,
note-book in hand, under a banner bearing the legend, "Come here for
hampers." Each hamper contains a complete outfit for a separate twenty,
cold provender, plates, glasses, knives, forks, and spoons: an agonized
printed appeal from the fevered pen of Pinkerton, pasted on the inside
of the lid, beseeches that care be taken of the glass and silver. Beer,
wine, and lemonade are flowing already from the bar, and the various
clans of twenty file away into the woods, with bottles under their arms,
and the hampers strung upon a stick. Till one they feast there, in a
very moderate seclusion, all being within earshot of the band. From one
till four, dancing takes place upon the grass; the bar does a roaring
business; and the honorary steward, who has already exhausted himself to
bring life into the dullest of the messes, must now indefatigably dance
with the plainest of the women. At four a bugle-call is sounded; and by
half-past behold us on board again, pioneers, corrugated iron bar, empty
bottles, and all; while the honorary steward, free at last, subsides
into the captain's cabin over a brandy and soda and a book. Free at
last, I say; yet there remains before him the frantic leave-takings
at the pier, and a sober journey up to Pinkerton's office with two
policemen and the day's takings in a bag.

What I have here sketched was the routine. But we appealed to the taste
of San Francisco more distinctly in particular fetes. "Ye Olde Time
Pycke-Nycke," largely advertised in hand-bills beginning "Oyez, Oyez!"
and largely frequented by knights, monks, and cavaliers, was drowned
out by unseasonable rain, and returned to the city one of the saddest
spectacles I ever remember to have witnessed. In pleasing contrast,
and certainly our chief success, was "The Gathering of the Clans,"
or Scottish picnic. So many milk-white knees were never before
simultaneously exhibited in public, and to judge by the prevalence of
"Royal Stewart" and the number of eagle's feathers, we were a high-born
company. I threw forward the Scottish flank of my own ancestry, and
passed muster as a clansman with applause. There was, indeed, but one
small cloud on this red-letter day. I had laid in a large supply of
the national beverage, in the shape of The "Rob Roy MacGregor O" Blend,
Warranted Old and Vatted; and this must certainly have been a generous
spirit, for I had some anxious work between four and half-past,
conveying on board the inanimate forms of chieftains.

To one of our ordinary festivities, where he was the life and soul of
his own mess, Pinkerton himself came incognito, bringing the algebraist
on his arm. Miss Mamie proved to be a well-enough-looking mouse, with
a large, limpid eye, very good manners, and a flow of the most correct
expressions I have ever heard upon the human lip. As Pinkerton's
incognito was strict, I had little opportunity to cultivate the lady's
acquaintance; but I was informed afterwards that she considered me "the
wittiest gentleman she had ever met." "The Lord mend your taste in wit!"
thought I; but I cannot conceal that such was the general impression.
One of my pleasantries even went the round of San Francisco, and I have
heard it (myself all unknown) bandied in saloons. To be unknown began at
last to be a rare experience; a bustle woke upon my passage; above all,
in humble neighbourhoods. "Who's that?" one would ask, and the other
would cry, "That! Why, Dromedary Dodd!" or, with withering scorn, "Not
know Mr. Dodd of the Picnics? Well!" and indeed I think it marked a
rather barren destiny; for our picnics, if a trifle vulgar, were as gay
and innocent as the age of gold; I am sure no people divert themselves
so easily and so well: and even with the cares of my stewardship, I was
often happy to be there.

Indeed, there were but two drawbacks in the least considerable. The
first was my terror of the hobbledehoy girls, to whom (from the demands
of my situation) I was obliged to lay myself so open. The other, if less
momentous, was more mortifying. In early days, at my mother's knee, as a
man may say, I had acquired the unenviable accomplishment (which I have
never since been able to lose) of singing _Just before the Battle._
I have what the French call a fillet of voice, my best notes scarce
audible about a dinner-table, and the upper register rather to be
regarded as a higher power of silence: experts tell me besides that
I sing flat; nor, if I were the best singer in the world, does _Just
before the Battle_ occur to my mature taste as the song that I would
choose to sing. In spite of all which considerations, at one picnic,
memorably dull, and after I had exhausted every other art of pleasing,
I gave, in desperation, my one song. From that hour my doom was gone
forth. Either we had a chronic passenger (though I could never detect
him), or the very wood and iron of the steamer must have retained the
tradition. At every successive picnic word went round that Mr. Dodd was
a singer; that Mr. Dodd sang _Just before the Battle_, and finally that
now was the time when Mr. Dodd sang _Just before the Battle;_ so that
the thing became a fixture like the dropping of the dummy axe, and you
are to conceive me, Sunday after Sunday, piping up my lamentable
ditty and covered, when it was done, with gratuitous applause. It is a
beautiful trait in human nature that I was invariably offered an encore.

I was well paid, however, even to sing. Pinkerton and I, after an
average Sunday, had five hundred dollars to divide. Nay, and the picnics
were the means, although indirectly, of bringing me a singular windfall.
This was at the end of the season, after the "Grand Farewell Fancy Dress
Gala." Many of the hampers had suffered severely; and it was judged
wiser to save storage, dispose of them, and lay in a fresh stock when
the campaign re-opened. Among my purchasers was a workingman of the
name of Speedy, to whose house, after several unavailing letters, I
must proceed in person, wondering to find myself once again on the wrong
side, and playing the creditor to some one else's debtor. Speedy was
in the belligerent stage of fear. He could not pay. It appeared he had
already resold the hampers, and he defied me to do my worst. I did not
like to lose my own money; I hated to lose Pinkerton's; and the bearing
of my creditor incensed me.

"Do you know, Mr. Speedy, that I can send you to the penitentiary?" said
I, willing to read him a lesson.

The dire expression was overheard in the next room. A large, fresh,
motherly Irishwoman ran forth upon the instant, and fell to besiege me
with caresses and appeals. "Sure now, and ye couldn't have the heart to
ut, Mr. Dodd, you, that's so well known to be a pleasant gentleman; and
it's a pleasant face ye have, and the picture of me own brother that's
dead and gone. It's a truth that he's been drinking. Ye can smell it off
of him, more blame to him. But, indade, and there's nothing in the
house beyont the furnicher, and Thim Stock. It's the stock that ye'll
be taking, dear. A sore penny it has cost me, first and last, and by
all tales, not worth an owld tobacco pipe." Thus adjured, and somewhat
embarrassed by the stern attitude I had adopted, I suffered myself to be
invested with a considerable quantity of what is called wild-cat stock,
in which this excellent if illogical female had been squandering her
hard-earned gold. It could scarce be said to better my position, but the
step quieted the woman; and, on the other hand, I could not think I was
taking much risk, for the shares in question (they were those of what I
will call the Catamount Silver Mine) had fallen some time before to the
bed-rock quotation, and now lay perfectly inert, or were only kicked
(like other waste paper) about the kennel of the exchange by bankrupt

A month or two after, I perceived by the stock-list that Catamount
had taken a bound; before afternoon, "thim stock" were worth a quite
considerable pot of money; and I learned, upon inquiry, that a bonanza
had been found in a condemned lead, and the mine was now expected to do
wonders. Remarkable to philosophers how bonanzas are found in condemned
leads, and how the stock is always at freezing-point immediately before!
By some stroke of chance the, Speedys had held on to the right thing;
they had escaped the syndicate; yet a little more, if I had not come to
dun them, and Mrs. Speedy would have been buying a silk dress. I could
not bear, of course, to profit by the accident, and returned to
offer restitution. The house was in a bustle; the neighbours (all
stock-gamblers themselves) had crowded to condole; and Mrs. Speedy sat
with streaming tears, the centre of a sympathetic group. "For fifteen
year I've been at ut," she was lamenting, as I entered, "and grudging
the babes the very milk, more shame to me! to pay their dhirty
assessments. And now, my dears, I should be a lady, and driving in my
coach, if all had their rights; and a sorrow on that man Dodd! As soon
as I set eyes on him, I seen the divil was in the house."

It was upon these words that I made my entrance, which was therefore
dramatic enough, though nothing to what followed. For when it appeared
that I was come to restore the lost fortune, and when Mrs. Speedy (after
copiously weeping on my bosom) had refused the restitution, and when
Mr. Speedy (summoned to that end from a camp of the Grand Army of the
Republic) had added his refusal, and when I had insisted, and they had
insisted, and the neighbours had applauded and supported each of us in
turn; and when at last it was agreed we were to hold the stock together,
and share the proceeds in three parts--one for me, one for Mr. Speedy,
and one for his spouse--I will leave you to conceive the enthusiasm that
reigned in that small, bare apartment, with the sewing-machine in the
one corner, and the babes asleep in the other, and pictures of Garfield
and the Battle of Gettysburg on the yellow walls. Port wine was had in
by a sympathiser, and we drank it mingled with tears.

"And I dhrink to your health, my dear," sobbed Mrs. Speedy, especially
affected by my gallantry in the matter of the third share; "and I'm
sure we all dhrink to his health--Mr. Dodd of the picnics, no gentleman
better known than him; and it's my prayer, dear, the good God may be
long spared to see ye in health and happiness!"

In the end I was the chief gainer; for I sold my third while it was
worth five thousand dollars, but the Speedys more adventurously held on
until the syndicate reversed the process, when they were happy to escape
with perhaps a quarter of that sum. It was just as well; for the bulk
of the money was (in Pinkerton's phrase) reinvested; and when next I saw
Mrs. Speedy, she was still gorgeously dressed from the proceeds of the
late success, but was already moist with tears over the new catastrophe.
"We're froze out, me darlin'! All the money we had, dear, and the
sewing-machine, and Jim's uniform, was in the Golden West; and the
vipers has put on a new assessment."

By the end of the year, therefore, this is how I stood. I had made

By Catamount Silver Mine..................... $5,000
By the picnics............................... 3,000
By the lecture............................... 600
By profit and loss on capital
in Pinkerton's business...................... 1,350

to which must be added

What remained of my grandfather's
donation..................................... 8,500

It appears, on the other hand, that

I had spent.......................... 4,000
Which thus left me to the good............... $14,450

A result on which I am not ashamed to say I looked with gratitude and
pride. Some eight thousand (being late conquest) was liquid and actually
tractile in the bank; the rest whirled beyond reach and even sight (save
in the mirror of a balance-sheet) under the compelling spell of wizard
Pinkerton. Dollars of mine were tacking off the shores of Mexico, in
peril of the deep and the guarda-costas; they rang on saloon-counters
in the city of Tombstone, Arizona; they shone in faro-tents among the
mountain diggings; the imagination flagged in following them, so wide
were they diffused, so briskly they span to the turning of the wizard's
crank. But here, there, or everywhere I could still tell myself it was
all mine, and what was more convincing, draw substantial dividends. My
fortune, I called it; and it represented, when expressed in dollars, or
even British pounds, an honest pot of money; when extended into francs,
a veritable fortune. Perhaps I have let the cat out of the bag; perhaps
you see already where my hopes were pointing, and begin to blame my
inconsistency. But I must first tell you my excuse, and the change that
had befallen Pinkerton.

About a week after the picnic to which he escorted Mamie, Pinkerton
avowed the state of his affections. From what I had observed on board
the steamer, where methought Mamie waited on him with her limpid eyes,
I encouraged the bashful lover to proceed; and the very next evening he
was carrying me to call on his affianced.

"You must befriend her, Loudon, as you have always befriended me," he
said, pathetically.

"By saying disagreeable things? I doubt if that be the way to a young
lady's favour," I replied; "and since this picnicking I begin to be a
man of some experience."

"Yes, you do nobly there; I can't describe how I admire you," he cried.
"Not that she will ever need it; she has had every advantage. God knows
what I have done to deserve her. O man, what a responsibility this is
for a rough fellow and not always truthful!"

"Brace up, old man, brace up!" said I.

But when we reached Mamie's boarding-house, it was almost with tears
that he presented me. "Here is Loudon, Mamie," were his words. "I want
you to love him; he has a grand nature."

"You are certainly no stranger to me, Mr. Dodd," was her gracious
expression. "James is never weary of descanting on your goodness."

"My dear lady," said I, "when you know our friend a little better,
you will make a large allowance for his warm heart. My goodness has
consisted in allowing him to feed and clothe and toil for me when he
could ill afford it. If I am now alive, it is to him I owe it; no man
had a kinder friend. You must take good care of him," I added, laying my
hand on his shoulder, "and keep him in good order, for he needs it."

Pinkerton was much affected by this speech, and so, I fear, was Mamie. I
admit it was a tactless performance. "When you know our friend a little
better," was not happily said; and even "keep him in good order, for he
needs it" might be construed into matter of offence; but I lay it before
you in all confidence of your acquittal: was the general tone of it
"patronising"? Even if such was the verdict of the lady, I cannot but
suppose the blame was neither wholly hers nor wholly mine; I cannot but
suppose that Pinkerton had already sickened the poor woman of my very
name; so that if I had come with the songs of Apollo, she must still
have been disgusted.

Here, however, were two finger-posts to Paris. Jim was going to be
married, and so had the less need of my society. I had not pleased his
bride, and so was, perhaps, better absent. Late one evening I broached
the idea to my friend. It had been a great day for me; I had just banked
my five thousand catamountain dollars; and as Jim had refused to lay a
finger on the stock, risk and profit were both wholly mine, and I was
celebrating the event with stout and crackers. I began by telling him
that if it caused him any pain or any anxiety about his affairs, he had
but to say the word, and he should hear no more of my proposal. He was
the truest and best friend I ever had or was ever like to have; and
it would be a strange thing if I refused him any favour he was sure
he wanted. At the same time I wished him to be sure; for my life was
wasting in my hands. I was like one from home; all my true interests
summoned me away. I must remind him, besides, that he was now about to
marry and assume new interests, and that our extreme familiarity might
be even painful to his wife.--"O no, Loudon; I feel you are wrong
there," he interjected warmly; "she DOES appreciate your nature."--So
much the better, then, I continued; and went on to point out that our
separation need not be for long; that, in the way affairs were going,
he might join me in two years with a fortune, small, indeed, for the
States, but in France almost conspicuous; that we might unite our
resources, and have one house in Paris for the winter and a second near
Fontainebleau for summer, where we could be as happy as the day was
long, and bring up little Pinkertons as practical artistic workmen, far
from the money-hunger of the West. "Let me go then," I concluded; "not
as a deserter, but as the vanguard, to lead the march of the Pinkerton

So I argued and pleaded, not without emotion; my friend sitting
opposite, resting his chin upon his hand and (but for that single
interjection) silent. "I have been looking for this, Loudon," said he,
when I had done. "It does pain me, and that's the fact--I'm so miserably
selfish. And I believe it's a death blow to the picnics; for it's idle
to deny that you were the heart and soul of them with your wand and your
gallant bearing, and wit and humour and chivalry, and throwing that kind
of society atmosphere about the thing. But for all that, you're right,
and you ought to go. You may count on forty dollars a week; and if Depew
City--one of nature's centres for this State--pan out the least as I
expect, it may be double. But it's forty dollars anyway; and to think
that two years ago you were almost reduced to beggary!"

"I WAS reduced to it," said I.

"Well, the brutes gave you nothing, and I'm glad of it now!" cried Jim.
"It's the triumphant return I glory in! Think of the master, and that
cold-blooded Myner too! Yes, just let the Depew City boom get on its
legs, and you shall go; and two years later, day for day, I'll shake
hands with you in Paris, with Mamie on my arm, God bless her!"

We talked in this vein far into the night. I was myself so exultant in
my new-found liberty, and Pinkerton so proud of my triumph, so happy in
my happiness, in so warm a glow about the gallant little woman of his
choice, and the very room so filled with castles in the air and cottages
at Fontainebleau, that it was little wonder if sleep fled our eyelids,
and three had followed two upon the office clock before Pinkerton
unfolded the mechanism of his patent sofa.






It is very much the custom to view life as if it were exactly ruled in
two, like sleep and waking; the provinces of play and business standing
separate. The business side of my career in San Francisco has been now
disposed of; I approach the chapter of diversion; and it will be found
they had about an equal share in building up the story of the Wrecker--a
gentleman whose appearance may be presently expected.

With all my occupations, some six afternoons and two or three odd
evenings remained at my disposal every week: a circumstance the more
agreeable as I was a stranger in a city singularly picturesque.
From what I had once called myself, The Amateur Parisian, I grew (or
declined) into a waterside prowler, a lingerer on wharves, a frequenter
of shy neighbourhoods, a scraper of acquaintance with eccentric
characters. I visited Chinese and Mexican gambling-hells, German secret
societies, sailors' boarding-houses, and "dives" of every complexion of
the disreputable and dangerous. I have seen greasy Mexican hands pinned
to the table with a knife for cheating, seamen (when blood-money ran
high) knocked down upon the public street and carried insensible on
board short-handed ships, shots exchanged, and the smoke (and the
company) dispersing from the doors of the saloon. I have heard
cold-minded Polacks debate upon the readiest method of burning San
Francisco to the ground, hot-headed working men and women bawl and swear
in the tribune at the Sandlot, and Kearney himself open his subscription
for a gallows, name the manufacturers who were to grace it with their
dangling bodies, and read aloud to the delighted multitude a telegram of
adhesion from a member of the State legislature: all which preparations
of proletarian war were (in a moment) breathed upon and abolished by the
mere name and fame of Mr. Coleman. That lion of the Vigilantes had but
to rouse himself and shake his ears, and the whole brawling mob was
silenced. I could not but reflect what a strange manner of man this was,
to be living unremarked there as a private merchant, and to be so
feared by a whole city; and if I was disappointed, in my character of
looker-on, to have the matter end ingloriously without the firing of a
shot or the hanging of a single millionnaire, philosophy tried to tell
me that this sight was truly the more picturesque. In a thousand towns
and different epochs I might have had occasion to behold the cowardice
and carnage of street fighting; where else, but only there and then,
could I have enjoyed a view of Coleman (the intermittent despot) walking
meditatively up hill in a quiet part of town, with a very rolling gait,
and slapping gently his great thigh?

Minora Canamus. This historic figure stalks silently through a corner
of the San Francisco of my memory: the rest is bric-a-brac, the
reminiscences of a vagrant sketcher. My delight was much in slums.
Little Italy was a haunt of mine; there I would look in at the windows
of small eating-shops, transported bodily from Genoa or Naples, with
their macaroni, and chianti flasks, and portraits of Garibaldi, and
coloured political caricatures; or (entering in) hold high debate with
some ear-ringed fisher of the bay as to the designs of "Mr. Owstria" and
"Mr. Rooshia." I was often to be observed (had there been any to observe
me) in that dis-peopled, hill-side solitude of Little Mexico, with its
crazy wooden houses, endless crazy wooden stairs, and perilous mountain
goat-paths in the sand. Chinatown by a thousand eccentricities drew
and held me; I could never have enough of its ambiguous, interracial
atmosphere, as of a vitalised museum; never wonder enough at its
outlandish, necromantic-looking vegetables set forth to sell in
commonplace American shop-windows, its temple doors open and the scent
of the joss-stick streaming forth on the American air, its kites of
Oriental fashion hanging fouled in Western telegraph-wires, its flights
of paper prayers which the trade-wind hunts and dissipates along
Western gutters. I was a frequent wanderer on North Beach, gazing at
the straits, and the huge Cape-Horners creeping out to sea, and imminent
Tamalpais. Thence, on my homeward way, I might visit that strange and
filthy shed, earth-paved and walled with the cages of wild animals and
birds, where at a ramshackle counter, amid the yells of monkeys, and a
poignant atmosphere of menagerie, forty-rod whiskey was administered by
a proprietor as dirty as his beasts. Nor did I even neglect Nob
Hill, which is itself a kind of slum, being the habitat of the mere
millionnaire. There they dwell upon the hill-top, high raised above
man's clamour, and the trade-wind blows between their palaces about
deserted streets.

But San Francisco is not herself only. She is not only the most
interesting city in the Union, and the hugest smelting-pot of races and
the precious metals. She keeps, besides, the doors of the Pacific, and
is the port of entry to another world and an earlier epoch in man's
history. Nowhere else shall you observe (in the ancient phrase) so many
tall ships as here convene from round the Horn, from China, from Sydney,
and the Indies; but scarce remarked amid that crowd of deep-sea giants,
another class of craft, the Island schooner, circulates: low in the
water, with lofty spars and dainty lines, rigged and fashioned like
a yacht, manned with brown-skinned, soft-spoken, sweet-eyed native
sailors, and equipped with their great double-ender boats that tell a
tale of boisterous sea-beaches. These steal out and in again, unnoted by
the world or even the newspaper press, save for the line in the clearing
column, "Schooner So-and-so for Yap and South Sea Islands"--steal out
with nondescript cargoes of tinned salmon, gin, bolts of gaudy cotton
stuff, women's hats, and Waterbury watches, to return, after a year,
piled as high as to the eaves of the house with copra, or wallowing
deep with the shells of the tortoise or the pearl oyster. To me, in my
character of the Amateur Parisian, this island traffic, and even the
island world, were beyond the bounds of curiosity, and how much more of
knowledge. I stood there on the extreme shore of the West and of to-day.
Seventeen hundred years ago, and seven thousand miles to the east,
a legionary stood, perhaps, upon the wall of Antoninus, and looked
northward toward the mountains of the Picts. For all the interval of
time and space, I, when I looked from the cliff-house on the broad
Pacific, was that man's heir and analogue: each of us standing on the
verge of the Roman Empire (or, as we now call it, Western civilization),
each of us gazing onward into zones unromanised. But I was dull. I
looked rather backward, keeping a kind eye on Paris; and it required a
series of converging incidents to change my attitude of nonchalance for
one of interest, and even longing, which I little dreamed that I should
live to gratify.

The first of these incidents brought me in acquaintance with a certain
San Francisco character, who had something of a name beyond the limits
of the city, and was known to many lovers of good English. I had
discovered a new slum, a place of precarious, sandy cliffs, deep, sandy
cuttings, solitary, ancient houses, and the butt-ends of streets. It was
already environed. The ranks of the street-lamps threaded it unbroken.
The city, upon all sides of it, was tightly packed, and growled with
traffic. To-day, I do not doubt the very landmarks are all swept away;
but it offered then, within narrow limits, a delightful peace, and (in
the morning, when I chiefly went there) a seclusion almost rural. On a
steep sand-hill, in this neighbourhood, toppled, on the most insecure
foundation, a certain row of houses, each with a bit of garden, and all
(I have to presume) inhabited. Thither I used to mount by a crumbling
footpath, and in front of the last of the houses, would sit down to
sketch. The very first day I saw I was observed, out of the ground-floor
window by a youngish, good-looking fellow, prematurely bald, and with
an expression both lively and engaging. The second, as we were still
the only figures in the landscape, it was no more than natural that
we should nod. The third, he came out fairly from his intrenchments,
praised my sketch, and with the impromptu cordiality of artists carried
me into his apartment; where I sat presently in the midst of a museum of
strange objects,--paddles and battle-clubs and baskets, rough-hewn stone
images, ornaments of threaded shell, cocoanut bowls, snowy cocoanut
plumes--evidences and examples of another earth, another climate,
another race, and another (if a ruder) culture. Nor did these objects
lack a fitting commentary in the conversation of my new acquaintance.
Doubtless you have read his book. You know already how he tramped and
starved, and had so fine a profit of living, in his days among the
islands; and meeting him, as I did, one artist with another, after
months of offices and picnics, you can imagine with what charm he would
speak, and with what pleasure I would hear. It was in such talks, which
we were both eager to repeat, that I first heard the names--first fell
under the spell--of the islands; and it was from one of the first of
them that I returned (a happy man) with _Omoo_ under one arm, and my
friend's own adventures under the other.

The second incident was more dramatic, and had, besides, a bearing on
my future. I was standing, one day, near a boat-landing under Telegraph
Hill. A large barque, perhaps of eighteen hundred tons, was coming more
than usually close about the point to reach her moorings; and I was
observing her with languid inattention, when I observed two men to
stride across the bulwarks, drop into a shore boat, and, violently
dispossessing the boatman of his oars, pull toward the landing where I
stood. In a surprisingly short time they came tearing up the steps; and
I could see that both were too well dressed to be foremast hands--the
first even with research, and both, and specially the first, appeared
under the empire of some strong emotion.

"Nearest police office!" cried the leader.

"This way," said I, immediately falling in with their precipitate pace.
"What's wrong? What ship is that?"

"That's the Gleaner," he replied. "I am chief officer, this gentleman's
third; and we've to get in our depositions before the crew. You see they
might corral us with the captain; and that's no kind of berth for me.
I've sailed with some hard cases in my time, and seen pins flying like
sand on a squally day--but never a match to our old man. It never let
up from the Hook to the Farallones; and the last man was dropped not
sixteen hours ago. Packet rats our men were, and as tough a crowd as
ever sand-bagged a man's head in; but they looked sick enough when the
captain started in with his fancy shooting."

"O, he's done up," observed the other. "He won't go to sea no more."

"You make me tired," retorted his superior. "If he gets ashore in one
piece and isn't lynched in the next ten minutes, he'll do yet. The
owners have a longer memory than the public; they'll stand by him; they
don't find as smart a captain every day in the year."

"O, he's a son of a gun of a fine captain; there ain't no doubt of
that," concurred the other, heartily. "Why, I don't suppose there's been
no wages paid aboard that Gleaner for three trips."

"No wages?" I exclaimed, for I was still a novice in maritime affairs.

"Not to sailor-men before the mast," agreed the mate. "Men cleared out;
wasn't the soft job they maybe took it for. She isn' the first ship that
never paid wages."

I could not but observe that our pace was progressively relaxing; and
indeed I have often wondered since whether the hurry of the start were
not intended for the gallery alone. Certain it is at least, that when we
had reached the police office, and the mates had made their deposition,
and told their horrid tale of five men murdered, some with savage
passion, some with cold brutality, between Sandy Hook and San Francisco,
the police were despatched in time to be too late. Before we arrived,
the ruffian had slipped out upon the dock, had mingled with the crowd,
and found a refuge in the house of an acquaintance; and the ship was
only tenanted by his late victims. Well for him that he had been
thus speedy. For when word began to go abroad among the shore-side
characters, when the last victim was carried by to the hospital, when
those who had escaped (as by miracle) from that floating shambles,
began to circulate and show their wounds in the crowd, it was strange
to witness the agitation that seized and shook that portion of the
city. Men shed tears in public; bosses of lodging-houses, long inured
to brutality, and above all, brutality to sailors, shook their fists at
heaven: if hands could have been laid on the captain of the Gleaner,
his shrift would have been short. That night (so gossip reports) he was
headed up in a barrel and smuggled across the bay: in two ships already
he had braved the penitentiary and the gallows; and yet, by last
accounts, he now commands another on the Western Ocean.

As I have said, I was never quite certain whether Mr. Nares (the mate)
did not intend that his superior should escape. It would have been like
his preference of loyalty to law; it would have been like his prejudice,
which was all in favour of the after-guard. But it must remain a matter
of conjecture only. Well as I came to know him in the sequel, he was
never communicative on that point, nor indeed on any that concerned the
voyage of the Gleaner. Doubtless he had some reason for his reticence.
Even during our walk to the police office, he debated several times with
Johnson, the third officer, whether he ought not to give up himself, as
well as to denounce the captain. He had decided in the negative, arguing
that "it would probably come to nothing; and even if there was a stink,
he had plenty good friends in San Francisco." And to nothing it came;
though it must have very nearly come to something, for Mr. Nares
disappeared immediately from view and was scarce less closely hidden
than his captain.

Johnson, on the other hand, I often met. I could never learn this man's
country; and though he himself claimed to be American, neither his
English nor his education warranted the claim. In all likelihood he
was of Scandinavian birth and blood, long pickled in the forecastles
of English and American ships. It is possible that, like so many of his
race in similar positions, he had already lost his native tongue. In
mind, at least, he was quite denationalised; thought only in English--to
call it so; and though by nature one of the mildest, kindest, and most
feebly playful of mankind, he had been so long accustomed to the cruelty
of sea discipline, that his stories (told perhaps with a giggle) would
sometimes turn me chill. In appearance, he was tall, light of weight,
bold and high-bred of feature, dusky-haired, and with a face of a clean
even brown: the ornament of outdoor men. Seated in a chair, you might
have passed him off for a baronet or a military officer; but let him
rise, and it was Fo'c's'le Jack that came rolling toward you, crab-like;
let him but open his lips, and it was Fo'c's'le Jack that piped and
drawled his ungrammatical gibberish. He had sailed (among other
places) much among the islands; and after a Cape Horn passage with
its snow-squalls and its frozen sheets, he announced his intention of
"taking a turn among them Kanakas." I thought I should have lost him
soon; but according to the unwritten usage of mariners, he had first to
dissipate his wages. "Guess I'll have to paint this town red," was his
hyperbolical expression; for sure no man ever embarked upon a milder
course of dissipation, most of his days being passed in the little
parlour behind Black Tom's public house, with a select corps of old
particular acquaintances, all from the South Seas, and all patrons of a
long yarn, a short pipe, and glasses round.

Black Tom's, to the front, presented the appearance of a fourth-rate
saloon, devoted to Kanaka seamen, dirt, negrohead tobacco, bad cigars,
worse gin, and guitars and banjos in a state of decline. The proprietor,
a powerful coloured man, was at once a publican, a ward politician,
leader of some brigade of "lambs" or "smashers," at the wind of whose
clubs the party bosses and the mayor were supposed to tremble, and (what
hurt nothing) an active and reliable crimp. His front quarters,
then, were noisy, disreputable, and not even safe. I have seen worse
frequented saloons where there were fewer scandals; for Tom was often
drunk himself; and there is no doubt the Lambs must have been a useful
body, or the place would have been closed. I remember one day, not long
before an election, seeing a blind man, very well dressed, led up to the
counter and remain a long while in consultation with the negro. The pair
looked so ill-assorted, and the awe with which the drinkers fell back
and left them in the midst of an impromptu privacy was so unusual in
such a place, that I turned to my next neighbour with a question. He
told me the blind man was a distinguished party boss, called by some
the King of San Francisco, but perhaps better known by his picturesque
Chinese nickname of the Blind White Devil. "The Lambs must be wanted
pretty bad, I guess," my informant added. I have here a sketch of the
Blind White Devil leaning on the counter; on the next page, and taken
the same hour, a jotting of Black Tom threatening a whole crowd of
customers with a long Smith and Wesson: to such heights and depths we
rose and fell in the front parts of the saloon.


Meanwhile, away in the back quarters, sat the small informal South Sea
club, talking of another world and surely of a different century. Old
schooner captains they were, old South Sea traders, cooks, and mates:
fine creatures, softened by residence among a softer race: full men
besides, though not by reading, but by strange experience; and for days
together I could hear their yarns with an unfading pleasure. All had
indeed some touch of the poetic; for the beach-comber, when not a mere
ruffian, is the poor relation of the artist. Even through Johnson's
inarticulate speech, his "O yes, there ain't no harm in them Kanakas,"
or "O yes, that's a son of a gun of a fine island, mountainious right
down; I didn't never ought to have left that island," there pierced a
certain gusto of appreciation: and some of the rest were master-talkers.
From their long tales, their traits of character and unpremeditated
landscape, there began to piece itself together in my head some image
of the islands and the island life: precipitous shores, spired mountain
tops, the deep shade of hanging forests, the unresting surf upon the
reef, and the unending peace of the lagoon; sun, moon, and stars of an
imperial brightness; man moving in these scenes scarce fallen, and woman
lovelier than Eve; the primal curse abrogated, the bed made ready for
the stranger, life set to perpetual music, and the guest welcomed, the
boat urged, and the long night beguiled, with poetry and choral song. A
man must have been an unsuccessful artist; he must have starved on the
streets of Paris; he must have been yoked to a commercial force like
Pinkerton, before he can conceive the longings that at times assailed
me. The draughty, rowdy city of San Francisco, the bustling office where
my friend Jim paced like a caged lion daily between ten and four, even
(at times) the retrospect of Paris, faded in comparison. Many a man less
tempted would have thrown up all to realise his visions; but I was by
nature unadventurous and uninitiative: to divert me from all former
paths and send me cruising through the isles of paradise, some force
external to myself must be exerted; Destiny herself must use the fitting
wedge; and little as I deemed it, that tool was already in her hand of

I sat, one afternoon, in the corner of a great, glassy, silvered saloon,
a free lunch at my one elbow, at the other a "conscientious nude" from
the brush of local talent; when, with the tramp of feet and a sudden
buzz of voices, the swing-doors were flung broadly open and the place
carried as by storm. The crowd which thus entered (mostly seafaring
men, and all prodigiously excited) contained a sort of kernel or general
centre of interest, which the rest merely surrounded and advertised, as
children in the Old World surround and escort the Punch-and-Judy man;
the word went round the bar like wildfire that these were Captain
Trent and the survivors of the British brig Flying Scud, picked up by a
British war-ship on Midway Island, arrived that morning in San Francisco
Bay, and now fresh from making the necessary declarations. Presently I
had a good sight of them: four brown, seamanlike fellows, standing by
the counter, glass in hand, the centre of a score of questioners.
One was a Kanaka--the cook, I was informed; one carried a cage with a
canary, which occasionally trilled into thin song; one had his left arm
in a sling and looked gentlemanlike, and somewhat sickly, as though
the injury had been severe and he was scarce recovered; and the captain
himself--a red-faced, blue-eyed, thickset man of five and forty--wore
a bandage on his right hand. The incident struck me; I was struck
particularly to see captain, cook, and foremost hands walking the street
and visiting saloons in company; and, as when anything impressed me,
I got my sketch-book out, and began to steal a sketch of the four
castaways. The crowd, sympathising with my design, made a clear lane
across the room; and I was thus enabled, all unobserved myself, to
observe with a still-growing closeness the face and the demeanour of
Captain Trent.

Warmed by whiskey and encouraged by the eagerness of the bystanders,
that gentleman was now rehearsing the history of his misfortune. It was
but scraps that reached me: how he "filled her on the starboard tack,"
and how "it came up sudden out of the nor'nor'west," and "there she was,
high and dry." Sometimes he would appeal to one of the men--"That was
how it was, Jack?"--and the man would reply, "That was the way of it,
Captain Trent." Lastly, he started a fresh tide of popular sympathy by
enunciating the sentiment, "Damn all these Admirality Charts, and that's
what I say!" From the nodding of heads and the murmurs of assent that
followed, I could see that Captain Trent had established himself in the
public mind as a gentleman and a thorough navigator: about which period,
my sketch of the four men and the canary-bird being finished, and all
(especially the canary-bird) excellent likenesses, I buckled up my book,
and slipped from the saloon.

Little did I suppose that I was leaving Act I, Scene I, of the drama of
my life; and yet the scene, or rather the captain's face, lingered for
some time in my memory. I was no prophet, as I say; but I was something
else: I was an observer; and one thing I knew, I knew when a man was
terrified. Captain Trent, of the British brig Flying Scud, had been
glib; he had been ready; he had been loud; but in his blue eyes I could
detect the chill, and in the lines of his countenance spy the agitation
of perpetual terror. Was he trembling for his certificate? In my
judgment, it was some livelier kind of fear that thrilled in the man's
marrow as he turned to drink. Was it the result of recent shock, and had
he not yet recovered the disaster to his brig? I remembered how a friend
of mine had been in a railway accident, and shook and started for a
month; and although Captain Trent of the Flying Scud had none of the
appearance of a nervous man, I told myself, with incomplete conviction,
that his must be a similar case.






The next morning I found Pinkerton, who had risen before me, seated at
our usual table, and deep in the perusal of what I will call the _Daily
Occidental_. This was a paper (I know not if it be so still) that stood
out alone among its brethren in the West; the others, down to their
smallest item, were defaced with capitals, head-lines, alliterations,
swaggering misquotations, and the shoddy picturesque and unpathetic
pathos of the Harry Millers: the _Occidental_ alone appeared to be
written by a dull, sane, Christian gentleman, singly desirous of
communicating knowledge. It had not only this merit, which endeared it
to me, but was admittedly the best informed on business matters, which
attracted Pinkerton.

"Loudon," said he, looking up from the journal, "you sometimes think I
have too many irons in the fire. My notion, on the other hand, is, when
you see a dollar lying, pick it up! Well, here I've tumbled over a whole
pile of 'em on a reef in the middle of the Pacific."

"Why, Jim, you miserable fellow!" I exclaimed; "haven't we Depew City,
one of God's green centres for this State? haven't we----"

"Just listen to this," interrupted Jim. "It's miserable copy; these
_Occidental_ reporter fellows have no fire; but the facts are right
enough, I guess." And he began to read:--


"H.B.M.S. Tempest, which arrived yesterday at this port, brings Captain
Trent and four men of the British brig Flying Scud, cast away February
12th on Midway Island, and most providentially rescued the next day. The
Flying Scud was of 200 tons burthen, owned in London, and has been out
nearly two years tramping. Captain Trent left Hong Kong December 8th,
bound for this port in rice and a small mixed cargo of silks, teas, and
China notions, the whole valued at $10,000, fully covered by insurance.
The log shows plenty of fine weather, with light airs, calms, and
squalls. In lat. 28 N., long. 177 W., his water going rotten, and misled
by Hoyt's _North Pacific Directory_, which informed him there was a
coaling station on the island, Captain Trent put in to Midway Island.
He found it a literal sandbank, surrounded by a coral reef mostly
submerged. Birds were very plenty, there was good fish in the lagoon,
but no firewood; and the water, which could be obtained by digging,
brackish. He found good holding-ground off the north end of the larger
bank in fifteen fathoms water; bottom sandy, with coral patches. Here he
was detained seven days by a calm, the crew suffering severely from the
water, which was gone quite bad; and it was only on the evening of the
12th, that a little wind sprang up, coming puffy out of N.N.E. Late as
it was, Captain Trent immediately weighed anchor and attempted to get
out. While the vessel was beating up to the passage, the wind took a
sudden lull, and then veered squally into N. and even N.N.W., driving
the brig ashore on the sand at about twenty minutes before six o'clock.
John Wallen, a native of Finland, and Charles Holdorsen, a native of
Sweden, were drowned alongside, in attempting to lower a boat, neither
being able to swim, the squall very dark, and the noise of the breakers
drowning everything. At the same time John Brown, another of the crew,
had his arm broken by the falls. Captain Trent further informed the
OCCIDENTAL reporter, that the brig struck heavily at first bows on, he
supposes upon coral; that she then drove over the obstacle, and now
lies in sand, much down by the head and with a list to starboard. In the
first collision she must have sustained some damage, as she was making
water forward. The rice will probably be all destroyed: but the more
valuable part of the cargo is fortunately in the afterhold. Captain
Trent was preparing his long-boat for sea, when the providential arrival
of the Tempest, pursuant to Admiralty orders to call at islands in her
course for castaways, saved the gallant captain from all further danger.
It is scarcely necessary to add that both the officers and men of the
unfortunate vessel speak in high terms of the kindness they received
on board the man-of-war. We print a list of the survivors: Jacob
Trent, master, of Hull, England; Elias Goddedaal, mate, native of
Christiansand, Sweden; Ah Wing, cook, native of Sana, China; John Brown,
native of Glasgow, Scotland; John Hardy, native of London, England.
The Flying Scud is ten years old, and this morning will be sold as she
stands, by order of Lloyd's agent, at public auction for the benefit of
the underwriters. The auction will take place in the Merchants' Exchange
at ten o'clock.

"Farther Particulars.--Later in the afternoon the OCCIDENTAL reporter
found Lieutenant Sebright, first officer of H.B.M.S. Tempest, at the
Palace Hotel. The gallant officer was somewhat pressed for time, but
confirmed the account given by Captain Trent in all particulars. He
added that the Flying Scud is in an excellent berth, and except in the
highly improbable event of a heavy N.W. gale, might last until next

"You will never know anything of literature," said I, when Jim had
finished. "That is a good, honest, plain piece of work, and tells the
story clearly. I see only one mistake: the cook is not a Chinaman; he is
a Kanaka, and I think a Hawaiian."

"Why, how do you know that?" asked Jim.

"I saw the whole gang yesterday in a saloon," said I. "I even heard the
tale, or might have heard it, from Captain Trent himself, who struck me
as thirsty and nervous."

"Well, that's neither here nor there," cried Pinkerton. "The point is,
how about these dollars lying on a reef?"

"Will it pay?" I asked.

"Pay like a sugar trust!" exclaimed Pinkerton. "Don't you see what this
British officer says about the safety? Don't you see the cargo's valued
at ten thousand? Schooners are begging just now; I can get my pick of
them at two hundred and fifty a month; and how does that foot up? It
looks like three hundred per cent. to me."

"You forget," I objected, "the captain himself declares the rice is


"That's a point, I know," admitted Jim. "But the rice is the sluggish
article, anyway; it's little more account than ballast; it's the tea
and silks that I look to: all we have to find is the proportion, and one
look at the manifest will settle that. I've rung up Lloyd's on purpose;
the captain is to meet me there in an hour, and then I'll be as posted
on that brig as if I built her. Besides, you've no idea what pickings
there are about a wreck--copper, lead, rigging, anchors, chains, even
the crockery, Loudon!"

"You seem to me to forget one trifle," said I. "Before you pick that
wreck, you've got to buy her, and how much will she cost?"

"One hundred dollars," replied Jim, with the promptitude of an

"How on earth do you guess that?" I cried.

"I don't guess; I know it," answered the Commercial Force. "My dear boy,
I may be a galoot about literature, but you'll always be an outsider in
business. How do you suppose I bought the James L. Moody for two hundred
and fifty, her boats alone worth four times the money? Because my name
stood first in the list. Well it stands there again; I have the naming
of the figure, and I name a small one because of the distance: but it
wouldn't matter what I named; that would be the price."

"It sounds mysterious enough," said I. "Is this public auction
conducted in a subterranean vault? Could a plain citizen--myself, for
instance--come and see?"

"O, everything's open and above board!" he cried indignantly. "Anybody
can come, only nobody bids against us; and if he did, he would get
frozen out. It's been tried before now, and once was enough. We hold
the plant; we've got the connection; we can afford to go higher than
any outsider; there's two million dollars in the ring; and we stick at
nothing. Or suppose anybody did buy over our head--I tell you, Loudon,
he would think this town gone crazy; he could no more get business
through on the city front than I can dance; schooners, divers, men--all
he wanted--the prices would fly right up and strike him."

"But how did you get in?" I asked. "You were once an outsider like your
neighbours, I suppose?"

"I took hold of that thing, Loudon, and just studied it up," he replied.
"It took my fancy; it was so romantic, and then I saw there was boodle
in the thing; and I figured on the business till no man alive could give
me points. Nobody knew I had an eye on wrecks till one fine morning I
dropped in upon Douglas B. Longhurst in his den, gave him all the facts
and figures, and put it to him straight: 'Do you want me in this ring?
or shall I start another?' He took half an hour, and when I came back,
'Pink,' says he, 'I've put your name on.' The first time I came to the
top, it was that Moody racket; now it's the Flying Scud."

Whereupon Pinkerton, looking at his watch, uttered an exclamation,
made a hasty appointment with myself for the doors of the Merchants'
Exchange, and fled to examine manifests and interview the skipper. I
finished my cigarette with the deliberation of a man at the end of many
picnics; reflecting to myself that of all forms of the dollar hunt, this
wrecking had by far the most address to my imagination. Even as I went
down town, in the brisk bustle and chill of the familiar San Francisco
thoroughfares, I was haunted by a vision of the wreck, baking so far
away in the strong sun, under a cloud of sea-birds; and even then, and
for no better reason, my heart inclined towards the adventure. If not
myself, something that was mine, some one at least in my employment,
should voyage to that ocean-bounded pin-point and descend to that
deserted cabin.

Pinkerton met me at the appointed moment, pinched of lip and more than
usually erect of bearing, like one conscious of great resolves.

"Well?" I asked.

"Well," said he, "it might be better, and it might be worse. This
Captain Trent is a remarkably honest fellow--one out of a thousand. As
soon as he knew I was in the market, he owned up about the rice in so
many words. By his calculation, if there's thirty mats of it saved, it's
an outside figure. However, the manifest was cheerier. There's about
five thousand dollars of the whole value in silks and teas and nut-oils
and that, all in the lazarette, and as safe as if it was in Kearney
Street. The brig was new coppered a year ago. There's upwards of a
hundred and fifty fathom away-up chain. It's not a bonanza, but there's
boodle in it; and we'll try it on."


It was by that time hard on ten o'clock, and we turned at once into
the place of sale. The Flying Scud, although so important to ourselves,
appeared to attract a very humble share of popular attention. The
auctioneer was surrounded by perhaps a score of lookers-on, big fellows,
for the most part, of the true Western build, long in the leg, broad in
the shoulder, and adorned (to a plain man's taste) with needless finery.
A jaunty, ostentatious comradeship prevailed. Bets were flying, and
nicknames. "The boys" (as they would have called themselves) were very
boyish; and it was plain they were here in mirth, and not on business.
Behind, and certainly in strong contrast to these gentlemen, I could
detect the figure of my friend Captain Trent, come (as I could very well
imagine that a captain would) to hear the last of his old vessel. Since
yesterday, he had rigged himself anew in ready-made black clothes, not
very aptly fitted; the upper left-hand pocket showing a corner of
silk handkerchief, the lower, on the other side, bulging with papers.
Pinkerton had just given this man a high character. Certainly he
seemed to have been very frank, and I looked at him again to trace (if
possible) that virtue in his face. It was red and broad and flustered
and (I thought) false. The whole man looked sick with some unknown
anxiety; and as he stood there, unconscious of my observation, he tore
at his nails, scowled on the floor, or glanced suddenly, sharply, and
fearfully at passers-by. I was still gazing at the man in a kind of
fascination, when the sale began.

Some preliminaries were rattled through, to the irreverent,
uninterrupted gambolling of the boys; and then, amid a trifle more
attention, the auctioneer sounded for some two or three minutes the pipe
of the charmer. Fine brig--new copper--valuable fittings--three fine
boats--remarkably choice cargo--what the auctioneer would call a
perfectly safe investment; nay, gentlemen, he would go further, he would
put a figure on it: he had no hesitation (had that bold auctioneer) in
putting it in figures; and in his view, what with this and that, and one
thing and another, the purchaser might expect to clear a sum equal to
the entire estimated value of the cargo; or, gentlemen, in other words,
a sum of ten thousand dollars. At this modest computation the
roof immediately above the speaker's head (I suppose, through the
intervention of a spectator of ventriloquial tastes) uttered a clear
"Cock-a-doodle-doo!"--whereat all laughed, the auctioneer himself
obligingly joining.

"Now, gentlemen, what shall we say?" resumed that gentleman, plainly
ogling Pinkerton,--"what shall we say for this remarkable opportunity?"

"One hundred dollars," said Pinkerton.

"One hundred dollars from Mr. Pinkerton," went the auctioneer, "one
hundred dollars. No other gentleman inclined to make any advance? One
hundred dollars, only one hundred dollars----"

The auctioneer was droning on to some such tune as this, and I, on my
part, was watching with something between sympathy and amazement the
undisguised emotion of Captain Trent, when we were all startled by the
interjection of a bid.

"And fifty," said a sharp voice.

Pinkerton, the auctioneer, and the boys, who were all equally in the
open secret of the ring, were now all equally and simultaneously taken

"I beg your pardon," said the auctioneer. "Anybody bid?"

"And fifty," reiterated the voice, which I was now able to trace to
its origin, on the lips of a small, unseemly rag of human-kind. The
speaker's skin was gray and blotched; he spoke in a kind of broken song,
with much variety of key; his gestures seemed (as in the disease called
Saint Vitus's dance) to be imperfectly under control; he was badly
dressed; he carried himself with an air of shrinking assumption, as
though he were proud to be where he was and to do what he was doing,
and yet half expected to be called in question and kicked out. I think I
never saw a man more of a piece; and the type was new to me; I had never
before set eyes upon his parallel, and I thought instinctively of Balzac
and the lower regions of the _Comedie Humaine_.

Pinkerton stared a moment on the intruder with no friendly eye, tore
a leaf from his note-book, and scribbled a line in pencil, turned,
beckoned a messenger boy, and whispered, "To Longhurst." Next moment
the boy had sped upon his errand, and Pinkerton was again facing the

"Two hundred dollars," said Jim.

"And fifty," said the enemy.


"This looks lively," whispered I to Pinkerton.

"Yes; the little beast means cold drawn biz," returned my friend. "Well,
he'll have to have a lesson. Wait till I see Longhurst. Three hundred,"
he added aloud.

"And fifty," came the echo.

It was about this moment when my eye fell again on Captain Trent.
A deeper shade had mounted to his crimson face: the new coat was
unbuttoned and all flying open; the new silk handkerchief in busy
requisition; and the man's eye, of a clear sailor blue, shone glassy
with excitement. He was anxious still, but now (if I could read a face)
there was hope in his anxiety.

"Jim," I whispered, "look at Trent. Bet you what you please he was
expecting this."

"Yes," was the reply, "there's some blame' thing going on here." And he
renewed his bid.

The figure had run up into the neighbourhood of a thousand when I
was aware of a sensation in the faces opposite, and looking over my
shoulder, saw a very large, bland, handsome man come strolling forth and
make a little signal to the auctioneer.

"One word, Mr. Borden," said he; and then to Jim, "Well, Pink, where are
we up to now?"

Pinkerton gave him the figure. "I ran up to that on my own
responsibility, Mr. Longhurst," he added, with a flush. "I thought it
the square thing."

"And so it was," said Mr. Longhurst, patting him kindly on the shoulder,
like a gratified uncle. "Well, you can drop out now; we take hold
ourselves. You can run it up to five thousand; and if he likes to go
beyond that, he's welcome to the bargain."

"By the by, who is he?" asked Pinkerton. "He looks away down."

"I've sent Billy to find out." And at the very moment Mr. Longhurst
received from the hands of one of the expensive young gentlemen a folded
paper. It was passed round from one to another till it came to me, and I
read: "Harry D. Bellairs, Attorney-at-Law; defended Clara Varden; twice
nearly disbarred."

"Well, that gets me!" observed Mr. Longhurst. "Who can have put up a
shyster [1] like that? Nobody with money, that's a sure thing. Suppose
you tried a big bluff? I think I would, Pink. Well, ta-ta! Your partner,
Mr. Dodd? Happy to have the pleasure of your acquaintance, sir." And the
great man withdrew.

[1] A low lawyer.

"Well, what do you think of Douglas B.?" whispered Pinkerton, looking
reverently after him as he departed. "Six foot of perfect gentleman and
culture to his boots."

During this interview the auction had stood transparently arrested, the
auctioneer, the spectators, and even Bellairs, all well aware that Mr.
Longhurst was the principal, and Jim but a speaking-trumpet. But now
that the Olympian Jupiter was gone, Mr. Borden thought proper to affect

"Come, come, Mr. Pinkerton. Any advance?" he snapped.

And Pinkerton, resolved on the big bluff, replied, "Two thousand

Bellairs preserved his composure. "And fifty," said he. But there was a
stir among the onlookers, and what was of more importance, Captain Trent
had turned pale and visibly gulped.

"Pitch it in again, Jim," said I. "Trent is weakening."

"Three thousand," said Jim.

"And fifty," said Bellairs.

And then the bidding returned to its original movement by hundreds and
fifties; but I had been able in the meanwhile to draw two conclusions.
In the first place, Bellairs had made his last advance with a smile of
gratified vanity; and I could see the creature was glorying in the kudos
of an unusual position and secure of ultimate success. In the second,
Trent had once more changed colour at the thousand leap, and his relief,
when he heard the answering fifty was manifest and unaffected. Here then
was a problem: both were presumably in the same interest, yet the one
was not in the confidence of the other. Nor was this all. A few bids
later it chanced that my eye encountered that of Captain Trent, and his,
which glittered with excitement, was instantly, and I thought guiltily,
withdrawn. He wished, then, to conceal his interest? As Jim had said,
there was some blamed thing going on. And for certain, here were these
two men, so strangely united, so strangely divided, both sharp-set to
keep the wreck from us, and that at an exorbitant figure.

Was the wreck worth more than we supposed? A sudden heat was kindled
in my brain; the bids were nearing Longhurst's limit of five thousand;
another minute, and all would be too late. Tearing a leaf from my
sketch-book, and inspired (I suppose) by vanity in my own powers of
inference and observation, I took the one mad decision of my life. "If
you care to go ahead," I wrote, "I'm in for all I'm worth."

Jim read and looked round at me like one bewildered; then his eyes
lightened, and turning again to the auctioneer, he bid, "Five thousand
one hundred dollars."

"And fifty," said monotonous Bellairs.

Presently Pinkerton scribbled, "What can it be?" and I answered, still
on paper: "I can't imagine; but there's something. Watch Bellairs; he'll
go up to the ten thousand, see if he don't."

And he did, and we followed. Long before this, word had gone abroad that
there was battle royal: we were surrounded by a crowd that looked on
wondering; and when Pinkerton had offered ten thousand dollars (the
outside value of the cargo, even were it safe in San Francisco Bay)
and Bellairs, smirking from ear to ear to be the centre of so much
attention, had jerked out his answering, "And fifty," wonder deepened to

"Ten thousand one hundred," said Jim; and even as he spoke he made a
sudden gesture with his hand, his face changed, and I could see that he
had guessed, or thought that he had guessed, the mystery. As he
scrawled another memorandum in his note-book, his hand shook like a

"Chinese ship," ran the legend; and then, in big, tremulous half-text,
and with a flourish that overran the margin, "Opium!"

To be sure! thought I: this must be the secret. I knew that scarce a
ship came in from any Chinese port, but she carried somewhere, behind a
bulkhead, or in some cunning hollow of the beams, a nest of the valuable
poison. Doubtless there was some such treasure on the Flying Scud. How
much was it worth? We knew not, we were gambling in the dark; but Trent
knew, and Bellairs; and we could only watch and judge.

By this time neither Pinkerton nor I were of sound mind. Pinkerton was
beside himself, his eyes like lamps. I shook in every member. To any
stranger entering (say) in the course of the fifteenth thousand, we
should probably have cut a poorer figure than Bellairs himself. But we
did not pause; and the crowd watched us, now in silence, now with a buzz
of whispers.

Seventeen thousand had been reached, when Douglas B. Longhurst, forcing
his way into the opposite row of faces, conspicuously and repeatedly
shook his head at Jim. Jim's answer was a note of two words: "My
racket!" which, when the great man had perused, he shook his finger
warningly and departed, I thought, with a sorrowful countenance.

Although Mr. Longhurst knew nothing of Bellairs, the shady lawyer knew
all about the Wrecker Boss. He had seen him enter the ring with manifest
expectation; he saw him depart, and the bids continue, with manifest
surprise and disappointment. "Hullo," he plainly thought, "this is not
the ring I'm fighting, then?" And he determined to put on a spurt.

"Eighteen thousand," said he.

"And fifty," said Jim, taking a leaf out of his adversary's book.

"Twenty thousand," from Bellairs.

"And fifty," from Jim, with a little nervous titter.

And with one consent they returned to the old pace, only now it was
Bellairs who took the hundreds, and Jim who did the fifty business. But
by this time our idea had gone abroad. I could hear the word "opium"
pass from mouth to mouth; and by the looks directed at us, I could see
we were supposed to have some private information. And here an incident
occurred highly typical of San Francisco. Close at my back there had
stood for some time a stout, middle-aged gentleman, with pleasant eyes,
hair pleasantly grizzled, and a ruddy, pleasing face. All of a sudden he
appeared as a third competitor, skied the Flying Scud with four fat
bids of a thousand dollars each, and then as suddenly fled the field,
remaining thenceforth (as before) a silent, interested spectator.

Ever since Mr. Longhurst's useless intervention, Bellairs had seemed
uneasy; and at this new attack, he began (in his turn) to scribble a
note between the bids. I imagined naturally enough that it would go to
Captain Trent; but when it was done, and the writer turned and looked
behind him in the crowd, to my unspeakable amazement, he did not seem to
remark the captain's presence.

"Messenger boy, messenger boy!" I heard him say. "Somebody call me a
messenger boy."

At last somebody did, but it was not the captain.

"He's sending for instructions," I wrote to Pinkerton.

"For money," he wrote back. "Shall I strike out? I think this is the

I nodded.

"Thirty thousand," said Pinkerton, making a leap of close upon three
thousand dollars.

I could see doubt in Bellairs's eye; then, sudden resolution.
"Thirty-five thousand," said he.

"Forty thousand," said Pinkerton.

There was a long pause, during which Bellairs's countenance was as
a book; and then, not much too soon for the impending hammer, "Forty
thousand and five dollars," said he.

Pinkerton and I exchanged eloquent glances. We were of one mind.
Bellairs had tried a bluff; now he perceived his mistake, and was
bidding against time; he was trying to spin out the sale until the
messenger boy returned.

"Forty-five thousand dollars," said Pinkerton: his voice was like a
ghost's and tottered with emotion.

"Forty-five thousand and five dollars," said Bellairs.

"Fifty thousand," said Pinkerton.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Pinkerton. Did I hear you make an advance, sir?"
asked the auctioneer.

"I--I have a difficulty in speaking," gasped Jim. "It's fifty thousand,
Mr. Borden."

Bellairs was on his feet in a moment. "Auctioneer," he said, "I have to
beg the favour of three moments at the telephone. In this matter, I am
acting on behalf of a certain party to whom I have just written----"

"I have nothing to do with any of this," said the auctioneer, brutally.
"I am here to sell this wreck. Do you make any advance on fifty

"I have the honour to explain to you, sir," returned Bellairs, with a
miserable assumption of dignity. "Fifty thousand was the figure named by
my principal; but if you will give me the small favour of two moments at
the telephone--"

"O, nonsense!" said the auctioneer. "If you make no advance, I'll knock
it down to Mr. Pinkerton."

"I warn you," cried the attorney, with sudden shrillness. "Have a care
what you're about. You are here to sell for the underwriters, let me
tell you--not to act for Mr. Douglas Longhurst. This sale has been
already disgracefully interrupted to allow that person to hold a
consultation with his minions. It has been much commented on."

"There was no complaint at the time," said the auctioneer, manifestly
discountenanced. "You should have complained at the time."

"I am not here to conduct this sale," replied Bellairs; "I am not paid
for that."

"Well, I am, you see," retorted the auctioneer, his impudence quite
restored; and he resumed his sing-song. "Any advance on fifty thousand
dollars? No advance on fifty thousand? No advance, gentlemen? Going at
fifty thousand, the wreck of the brig Flying Scud--going--going--gone!"

"My God, Jim, can we pay the money?" I cried, as the stroke of the
hammer seemed to recall me from a dream.

"It's got to be raised," said he, white as a sheet. "It'll be a hell of
a strain, Loudon. The credit's good for it, I think; but I shall have to
get around. Write me a cheque for your stuff. Meet me at the Occidental
in an hour."

I wrote my cheque at a desk, and I declare I could never have recognised
my signature. Jim was gone in a moment; Trent had vanished even earlier;
only Bellairs remained exchanging insults with the auctioneer; and,
behold! as I pushed my way out of the exchange, who should run full tilt
into my arms, but the messenger boy?

It was by so near a margin that we became the owners of the Flying Scud.






At the door of the exchange I found myself along-side of the short,
middle-aged gentleman who had made an appearance, so vigorous and so
brief, in the great battle.

"Congratulate you, Mr. Dodd," he said. "You and your friend stuck to
your guns nobly."

"No thanks to you, sir," I replied, "running us up a thousand at a time,
and tempting all the speculators in San Francisco to come and have a

"O, that was temporary insanity," said he; "and I thank the higher
powers I am still a free man. Walking this way, Mr. Dodd? I'll walk
along with you. It's pleasant for an old fogy like myself to see the
young bloods in the ring; I've done some pretty wild gambles in my time
in this very city, when it was a smaller place and I was a younger man.
Yes, I know you, Mr. Dodd. By sight, I may say I know you extremely
well, you and your followers, the fellows in the kilts, eh? Pardon me.
But I have the misfortune to own a little box on the Saucelito shore.
I'll be glad to see you there any Sunday--without the fellows in kilts,
you know; and I can give you a bottle of wine, and show you the best
collection of Arctic voyages in the States. Morgan is my name--Judge
Morgan--a Welshman and a forty-niner."

"O, if you're a pioneer," cried I, "come to me and I'll provide you with
an axe."

"You'll want your axes for yourself, I fancy," he returned, with one
of his quick looks. "Unless you have private knowledge, there will be a
good deal of rather violent wrecking to do before you find that--opium,
do you call it?"

"Well, it's either opium, or we are stark, staring mad," I replied. "But
I assure you we have no private information. We went in (as I suppose
you did yourself) on observation."

"An observer, sir?" inquired the judge.

"I may say it is my trade--or, rather, was," said I.

"Well now, and what did you think of Bellairs?" he asked.

"Very little indeed," said I.

"I may tell you," continued the judge, "that to me, the employment of a
fellow like that appears inexplicable. I knew him; he knows me, too; he
has often heard from me in court; and I assure you the man is utterly
blown upon; it is not safe to trust him with a dollar; and here we find
him dealing up to fifty thousand. I can't think who can have so trusted
him, but I am very sure it was a stranger in San Francisco."

"Some one for the owners, I suppose," said I.

"Surely not!" exclaimed the judge. "Owners in London can have nothing
to say to opium smuggled between Hong Kong and San Francisco. I should
rather fancy they would be the last to hear of it--until the ship was
seized. No; I was thinking of the captain. But where would he get the
money? above all, after having laid out so much to buy the stuff in
China? Unless, indeed, he were acting for some one in 'Frisco; and in
that case--here we go round again in the vicious circle--Bellairs would
not have been employed."

"I think I can assure you it was not the captain," said I; "for he and
Bellairs are not acquainted."

"Wasn't that the captain with the red face and coloured handkerchief?
He seemed to me to follow Bellairs's game with the most thrilling
interest," objected Mr. Morgan.

"Perfectly true," said I; "Trent is deeply interested; he very likely
knew Bellairs, and he certainly knew what he was there for; but I can
put my hand in the fire that Bellairs didn't know Trent."

"Another singularity," observed the judge. "Well, we have had a capital
forenoon. But you take an old lawyer's advice, and get to Midway Island
as fast as you can. There's a pot of money on the table, and Bellairs
and Co. are not the men to stick at trifles."

With this parting counsel Judge Morgan shook hands and made off along
Montgomery Street, while I entered the Occidental Hotel, on the steps of
which we had finished our conversation. I was well known to the clerks,
and as soon as it was understood that I was there to wait for Pinkerton
and lunch, I was invited to a seat inside the counter. Here, then, in a
retired corner, I was beginning to come a little to myself after these
so violent experiences, when who should come hurrying in, and (after a
moment with a clerk) fly to one of the telephone boxes but Mr. Henry
D. Bellairs in person? Call it what you will, but the impulse was
irresistible, and I rose and took a place immediately at the man's back.
It may be some excuse that I had often practised this very innocent
form of eavesdropping upon strangers, and for fun. Indeed, I scarce know
anything that gives a lower view of man's intelligence than to overhear
(as you thus do) one side of a communication.

"Central," said the attorney, "2241 and 584 B" (or some such
numbers)--"Who's that?--All right--Mr. Bellairs--Occidental; the wires
are fouled in the other place--Yes, about three minutes--Yes--Yes--Your
figure, I am sorry to say--No--I had no authority--Neither more
nor less--I have every reason to suppose so--O, Pinkerton, Montana
Block--Yes--Yes--Very good, sir--As you will, sir--Disconnect 584 B."

Bellairs turned to leave; at sight of me behind him, up flew his hands,
and he winced and cringed, as though in fear of bodily attack. "O, it's
you!" he cried; and then, somewhat recovered, "Mr. Pinkerton's partner,
I believe? I am pleased to see you, sir--to congratulate you on your
late success." And with that he was gone, obsequiously bowing as he

And now a madcap humour came upon me. It was plain Bellairs had been
communicating with his principal; I knew the number, if not the name;
should I ring up at once, it was more than likely he would return
in person to the telephone; why should not I dash (vocally) into the
presence of this mysterious person, and have some fun for my money. I
pressed the bell.

"Central," said I, "connect again 2241 and 584 B."

A phantom central repeated the numbers; there was a pause, and then
"Two two four one," came in a tiny voice into my ear--a voice with the
English sing-song--the voice plainly of a gentleman. "Is that you again,
Mr. Bellairs?" it trilled. "I tell you it's no use. Is that you, Mr.
Bellairs? Who is that?"

"I only want to put a single question," said I, civilly. "Why do you
want to buy the Flying Scud?"

No answer came. The telephone vibrated and hummed in miniature with all
the numerous talk of a great city; but the voice of 2241 was silent.
Once and twice I put my question; but the tiny, sing-song English voice,
I heard no more. The man, then, had fled? fled from an impertinent
question? It scarce seemed natural to me; unless on the principle that
the wicked fleeth when no man pursueth. I took the telephone list and
turned the number up: "2241, Mrs. Keane, res. 942 Mission Street." And
that, short of driving to the house and renewing my impertinence in
person, was all that I could do.

Yet, as I resumed my seat in the corner of the office, I was conscious
of a new element of the uncertain, the underhand, perhaps even the
dangerous, in our adventure; and there was now a new picture in my
mental gallery, to hang beside that of the wreck under its canopy of
sea-birds and of Captain Trent mopping his red brow--the picture of a
man with a telephone dice-box to his ear, and at the small voice of a
single question, struck suddenly as white as ashes.

From these considerations I was awakened by the striking of the clock.
An hour and nearly twenty minutes had elapsed since Pinkerton departed
for the money: he was twenty minutes behind time; and to me who knew so
well his gluttonous despatch of business and had so frequently admired
his iron punctuality, the fact spoke volumes. The twenty minutes slowly
stretched into an hour; the hour had nearly extended to a second; and
I still sat in my corner of the office, or paced the marble pavement of
the hall, a prey to the most wretched anxiety and penitence. The hour
for lunch was nearly over before I remembered that I had not eaten.
Heaven knows I had no appetite; but there might still be much to do--it
was needful I should keep myself in proper trim, if it were only to
digest the now too probable bad news; and leaving word at the office for
Pinkerton, I sat down to table and called for soup, oysters, and a pint
of champagne.

I was not long set, before my friend returned. He looked pale and rather
old, refused to hear of food, and called for tea.

"I suppose all's up?" said I, with an incredible sinking.

"No," he replied; "I've pulled it through, Loudon; just pulled it
through. I couldn't have raised another cent in all 'Frisco. People
don't like it; Longhurst even went back on me; said he wasn't a
three-card-monte man."

"Well, what's the odds?" said I. "That's all we wanted, isn't it?"

"Loudon, I tell you I've had to pay blood for that money," cried my
friend, with almost savage energy and gloom. "It's all on ninety days,
too; I couldn't get another day--not another day. If we go ahead with
this affair, Loudon, you'll have to go yourself and make the fur fly.
I'll stay of course--I've got to stay and face the trouble in this city;
though, I tell you, I just long to go. I would show these fat brutes of
sailors what work was; I would be all through that wreck and out at the
other end, before they had boosted themselves upon the deck! But you'll
do your level best, Loudon; I depend on you for that. You must be all
fire and grit and dash from the word 'go.' That schooner and the boodle
on board of her are bound to be here before three months, or it's B. U.
S. T.--bust."

"I'll swear I'll do my best, Jim; I'll work double tides," said I. "It
is my fault that you are in this thing, and I'll get you out again or
kill myself. But what is that you say? 'If we go ahead?' Have we any
choice, then?"

"I'm coming to that," said Jim. "It isn't that I doubt the investment.
Don't blame yourself for that; you showed a fine, sound business
instinct: I always knew it was in you, but then it ripped right out. I
guess that little beast of an attorney knew what he was doing; and he
wanted nothing better than to go beyond. No, there's profit in the deal;
it's not that; it's these ninety-day bills, and the strain I've given
the credit, for I've been up and down, borrowing, and begging and
bribing to borrow. I don't believe there's another man but me in
'Frisco," he cried, with a sudden fervor of self admiration, "who could
have raised that last ten thousand!--Then there's another thing. I had
hoped you might have peddled that opium through the islands, which is
safer and more profitable. But with this three-month limit, you must
make tracks for Honolulu straight, and communicate by steamer. I'll
try to put up something for you there; I'll have a man spoken to who's
posted on that line of biz. Keep a bright lookout for him as soon's you
make the islands; for it's on the cards he might pick you up at sea in a
whaleboat or a steam-launch, and bring the dollars right on board."

It shows how much I had suffered morally during my sojourn in San
Francisco, that even now when our fortunes trembled in the balance,
I should have consented to become a smuggler and (of all things) a
smuggler of opium. Yet I did, and that in silence; without a protest,
not without a twinge.

"And suppose," said I, "suppose the opium is so securely hidden that I
can't get hands on it?"

"Then you will stay there till that brig is kindling-wood, and stay
and split that kindling-wood with your penknife," cried Pinkerton. "The
stuff is there; we know that; and it must be found. But all this is
only the one string to our bow--though I tell you I've gone into it
head-first, as if it was our bottom dollar. Why, the first thing I
did before I'd raised a cent, and with this other notion in my head
already--the first thing I did was to secure the schooner. The Nora
Creina, she is, sixty-four tons, quite big enough for our purpose since
the rice is spoiled, and the fastest thing of her tonnage out of San
Francisco. For a bonus of two hundred, and a monthly charter of three, I
have her for my own time; wages and provisions, say four hundred more: a
drop in the bucket. They began firing the cargo out of her (she was part
loaded) near two hours ago; and about the same time John Smith got the
order for the stores. That's what I call business."

"No doubt of that," said I. "But the other notion?"


"Well, here it is," said Jim. "You agree with me that Bellairs was ready
to go higher?"

I saw where he was coming. "Yes--and why shouldn't he?" said I. "Is
that the line?"

"That's the line, Loudon Dodd," assented Jim. "If Bellairs and his
principal have any desire to go me better, I'm their man."

A sudden thought, a sudden fear, shot into my mind. What if I had been
right? What if my childish pleasantry had frightened the principal
away, and thus destroyed our chance? Shame closed my mouth; I began
instinctively a long course of reticence; and it was without a word
of my meeting with Bellairs, or my discovery of the address in Mission
Street, that I continued the discussion.

"Doubtless fifty thousand was originally mentioned as a round sum," said
I, "or at least, so Bellairs supposed. But at the same time it may be an
outside sum; and to cover the expenses we have already incurred for the
money and the schooner--I am far from blaming you; I see how needful
it was to be ready for either event--but to cover them we shall want a
rather large advance."

"Bellairs will go to sixty thousand; it's my belief, if he were properly
handled, he would take the hundred," replied Pinkerton. "Look back on
the way the sale ran at the end."

"That is my own impression as regards Bellairs," I admitted. "The point I
am trying to make is that Bellairs himself may be mistaken; that what he
supposed to be a round sum was really an outside figure."

"Well, Loudon, if that is so," said Jim, with extraordinary gravity of
face and voice, "if that is so, let him take the Flying Scud at fifty
thousand, and joy go with her! I prefer the loss."

"Is that so, Jim? Are we dipped as bad as that?" I cried.

"We've put our hand farther out than we can pull it in again, Loudon,"
he replied. "Why, man, that fifty thousand dollars, before we get clear
again, will cost us nearer seventy. Yes, it figures up overhead to more
than ten per cent a month; and I could do no better, and there isn't
the man breathing could have done as well. It was a miracle, Loudon. I
couldn't but admire myself. O, if we had just the four months! And you
know, Loudon, it may still be done. With your energy and charm, if the
worst comes to the worst, you can run that schooner as you ran one
of your picnics; and we may have luck. And, O, man! if we do pull it
through, what a dashing operation it will be! What an advertisement!
what a thing to talk of, and remember all our lives! However," he
broke off suddenly, "we must try the safe thing first. Here's for the

There was another struggle in my mind, whether I should even now admit
my knowledge of the Mission Street address. But I had let the favourable
moment slip. I had now, which made it the more awkward, not merely the
original discovery, but my late suppression to confess. I could not help
reasoning, besides, that the more natural course was to approach the
principal by the road of his agent's office; and there weighed upon my
spirits a conviction that we were already too late, and that the man
was gone two hours ago. Once more, then, I held my peace; and after an
exchange of words at the telephone to assure ourselves he was at home,
we set out for the attorney's office.

The endless streets of any American city pass, from one end to another,
through strange degrees and vicissitudes of splendour and distress,
running under the same name between monumental warehouses, the dens
and taverns of thieves, and the sward and shrubbery of villas. In San
Francisco, the sharp inequalities of the ground, and the sea bordering
on so many sides, greatly exaggerate these contrasts. The street for
which we were now bound took its rise among blowing sands, somewhere in
view of the Lone Mountain Cemetery; ran for a term across that rather
windy Olympus of Nob Hill, or perhaps just skirted its frontier; passed
almost immediately after through a stage of little houses, rather
impudently painted, and offering to the eye of the observer this
diagnostic peculiarity, that the huge brass plates upon the small and
highly coloured doors bore only the first names of ladies--Norah or Lily
or Florence; traversed China Town, where it was doubtless undermined
with opium cellars, and its blocks pierced, after the similitude of
rabbit-warrens, with a hundred doors and passages and galleries; enjoyed
a glimpse of high publicity at the corner of Kearney; and proceeded,
among dives and warehouses, towards the City Front and the region of the
water-rats. In this last stage of its career, where it was both grimy
and solitary, and alternately quiet and roaring to the wheels of drays,
we found a certain house of some pretension to neatness, and furnished
with a rustic outside stair. On the pillar of the stair a black
plate bore in gilded lettering this device: "Harry D. Bellairs,
Attorney-at-law. Consultations, 9 to 6." On ascending the stairs, a door
was found to stand open on the balcony, with this further inscription,
"Mr. Bellairs In."

"I wonder what we do next," said I.

"Guess we sail right in," returned Jim, and suited the action to the

The room in which we found ourselves was clean, but extremely bare. A
rather old-fashioned secretaire stood by the wall, with a chair drawn to
the desk; in one corner was a shelf with half-a-dozen law books; and
I can remember literally not another stick of furniture. One inference
imposed itself: Mr. Bellairs was in the habit of sitting down himself
and suffering his clients to stand. At the far end, and veiled by a
curtain of red baize, a second door communicated with the interior of
the house. Hence, after some coughing and stamping, we elicited the
shyster, who came timorously forth, for all the world like a man in fear
of bodily assault, and then, recognising his guests, suffered from what
I can only call a nervous paroxysm of courtesy.

"Mr. Pinkerton and partner!" said he. "I will go and fetch you seats."

"Not the least," said Jim. "No time. Much rather stand. This is
business, Mr. Bellairs. This morning, as you know, I bought the wreck,
Flying Scud."

The lawyer nodded.

"And bought her," pursued my friend, "at a figure out of all proportion
to the cargo and the circumstances, as they appeared?"

"And now you think better of it, and would like to be off with your
bargain? I have been figuring upon this," returned the lawyer. "My
client, I will not hide from you, was displeased with me for putting her
so high. I think we were both too heated, Mr. Pinkerton: rivalry--the
spirit of competition. But I will be quite frank--I know when I am
dealing with gentlemen--and I am almost certain, if you leave the matter
in my hands, my client would relieve you of the bargain, so as you would
lose"--he consulted our faces with gimlet-eyed calculation--"nothing,"
he added shrilly.

And here Pinkerton amazed me.

"That's a little too thin," said he. "I have the wreck. I know there's
boodle in her, and I mean to keep her. What I want is some points which
may save me needless expense, and which I'm prepared to pay for, money
down. The thing for you to consider is just this: am I to deal with you
or direct with your principal? If you are prepared to give me the facts
right off, why, name your figure. Only one thing!" added Jim, holding a
finger up, "when I say 'money down,' I mean bills payable when the ship
returns, and if the information proves reliable. I don't buy pigs in

I had seen the lawyer's face light up for a moment, and then, at the
sound of Jim's proviso, miserably fade. "I guess you know more about
this wreck than I do, Mr. Pinkerton," said he. "I only know that I was
told to buy the thing, and tried, and couldn't."

"What I like about you, Mr. Bellairs, is that you waste no time," said
Jim. "Now then, your client's name and address."

"On consideration," replied the lawyer, with indescribable furtivity,
"I cannot see that I am entitled to communicate my client's name. I
will sound him for you with pleasure, if you care to instruct me; but I
cannot see that I can give you his address."

"Very well," said Jim, and put his hat on. "Rather a strong step, isn't
it?" (Between every sentence was a clear pause.) "Not think better of
it? Well, come--call it a dollar?"

"Mr. Pinkerton, sir!" exclaimed the offended attorney; and, indeed, I
myself was almost afraid that Jim had mistaken his man and gone too far.

"No present use for a dollar?" says Jim. "Well, look here, Mr. Bellairs:
we're both busy men, and I'll go to my outside figure with you right

"Stop this, Pinkerton," I broke in. "I know the address: 924 Mission


I do not know whether Pinkerton or Bellairs was the more taken aback.

"Why in snakes didn't you say so, Loudon?" cried my friend.

"You didn't ask for it before," said I, colouring to my temples under
his troubled eyes.

It was Bellairs who broke silence, kindly supplying me with all that
I had yet to learn. "Since you know Mr. Dickson's address," said
he, plainly burning to be rid of us, "I suppose I need detain you no

I do not know how Pinkerton felt, but I had death in my soul as we came
down the outside stair, from the den of this blotched spider. My whole
being was strung, waiting for Jim's first question, and prepared to
blurt out, I believe, almost with tears, a full avowal. But my friend
asked nothing.

"We must hack it," said he, tearing off in the direction of the nearest
stand. "No time to be lost. You saw how I changed ground. No use in
paying the shyster's commission."

Again I expected a reference to my suppression; again I was
disappointed. It was plain Jim feared the subject, and I felt I almost
hated him for that fear. At last, when we were already in the hack and
driving towards Mission Street, I could bear my suspense no longer.

"You do not ask me about that address," said I.

"No," said he, quickly and timidly. "What was it? I would like to know."

The note of timidity offended me like a buffet; my temper rose as hot as
mustard. "I must request you do not ask me," said I. "It is a matter I
cannot explain."

The moment the foolish words were said, that moment I would have given
worlds to recall them: how much more, when Pinkerton, patting my hand,
replied: "All right, dear boy; not another word; that's all done. I'm
convinced it's perfectly right." To return upon the subject was beyond
my courage; but I vowed inwardly that I should do my utmost in the
future for this mad speculation, and that I would cut myself in pieces
before Jim should lose one dollar.

We had no sooner arrived at the address than I had other things to think

"Mr. Dickson? He's gone," said the landlady.

Where had he gone?

"I'm sure I can't tell you," she answered. "He was quite a stranger to

"Did he express his baggage, ma'am?" asked Pinkerton.

"Hadn't any," was the reply. "He came last night and left again to-day
with a satchel."

"When did he leave?" I inquired.

"It was about noon," replied the landlady. "Some one rang up the
telephone, and asked for him; and I reckon he got some news, for he
left right away, although his rooms were taken by the week. He seemed
considerable put out: I reckon it was a death."

My heart sank; perhaps my idiotic jest had indeed driven him away;
and again I asked myself, Why? and whirled for a moment in a vortex of
untenable hypotheses.

"What was he like, ma'am?" Pinkerton was asking, when I returned to
consciousness of my surroundings.

"A clean shaved man," said the woman, and could be led or driven into no
more significant description.

"Pull up at the nearest drug-store," said Pinkerton to the driver; and
when there, the telephone was put in operation, and the message sped to
the Pacific Mail Steamship Company's office--this was in the days
before Spreckels had arisen--"When does the next China steamer touch at

"The City of Pekin; she cast off the dock to-day, at half-past one,"
came the reply.

"It's a clear case of bolt," said Jim. "He's skipped, or my name's not
Pinkerton. He's gone to head us off at Midway Island."

Somehow I was not so sure; there were elements in the case, not known
to Pinkerton--the fears of the captain, for example--that inclined me
otherwise; and the idea that I had terrified Mr. Dickson into flight,
though resting on so slender a foundation, clung obstinately in my mind.
"Shouldn't we see the list of passengers?" I asked.

"Dickson is such a blamed common name," returned Jim; "and then, as like
as not, he would change it."

At this I had another intuition. A negative of a street scene, taken
unconsciously when I was absorbed in other thought, rose in my memory
with not a feature blurred: a view, from Bellairs's door as we were
coming down, of muddy roadway, passing drays, matted telegraph wires,
a Chinaboy with a basket on his head, and (almost opposite) a corner
grocery with the name of Dickson in great gilt letters.

"Yes," said I, "you are right; he would change it. And anyway, I don't
believe it was his name at all; I believe he took it from a corner
grocery beside Bellairs's."

"As like as not," said Jim, still standing on the sidewalk with
contracted brows.

"Well, what shall we do next?" I asked.

"The natural thing would be to rush the schooner," he replied. "But I
don't know. I telephoned the captain to go at it head down and heels in
air; he answered like a little man; and I guess he's getting around. I
believe, Loudon, we'll give Trent a chance. Trent was in it; he was
in it up to the neck; even if he couldn't buy, he could give us the
straight tip."

"I think so, too," said I. "Where shall we find him?"

"British consulate, of course," said Jim. "And that's another reason for
taking him first. We can hustle that schooner up all evening; but when
the consulate's shut, it's shut."

At the consulate, we learned that Captain Trent had alighted (such is I
believe the classic phrase) at the What Cheer House. To that large and
unaristocratic hostelry we drove, and addressed ourselves to a large
clerk, who was chewing a toothpick and looking straight before him.

"Captain Jacob Trent?"

"Gone," said the clerk.

"Where has he gone?" asked Pinkerton.

"Cain't say," said the clerk.

"When did he go?" I asked.

"Don't know," said the clerk, and with the simplicity of a monarch
offered us the spectacle of his broad back.

What might have happened next I dread to picture, for Pinkerton's
excitement had been growing steadily, and now burned dangerously high;
but we were spared extremities by the intervention of a second clerk.

"Why! Mr. Dodd!" he exclaimed, running forward to the counter. "Glad to
see you, sir! Can I do anything in your way?"

How virtuous actions blossom! Here was a young man to whose pleased ears
I had rehearsed _Just before the battle, mother,_ at some weekly picnic;
and now, in that tense moment of my life, he came (from the machine) to
be my helper.

"Captain Trent, of the wreck? O yes, Mr. Dodd; he left about twelve; he
and another of the men. The Kanaka went earlier by the City of Pekin; I
know that; I remember expressing his chest. Captain Trent? I'll inquire,
Mr. Dodd. Yes, they were all here. Here are the names on the register;
perhaps you would care to look at them while I go and see about the

I drew the book toward me, and stood looking at the four names all
written in the same hand, rather a big and rather a bad one: Trent,
Brown, Hardy, and (instead of Ah Sing) Jos. Amalu.

"Pinkerton," said I, suddenly, "have you that _Occidental_ in your

"Never left me," said Pinkerton, producing the paper.


I turned to the account of the wreck. "Here," said I; "here's the name.
'Elias Goddedaal, mate.' Why do we never come across Elias Goddedaal?"

"That's so," said Jim. "Was he with the rest in that saloon when you saw

"I don't believe it," said I. "They were only four, and there was none
that behaved like a mate."

At this moment the clerk returned with his report.

"The captain," it appeared, "came with some kind of an express waggon,
and he and the man took off three chests and a big satchel. Our porter
helped to put them on, but they drove the cart themselves. The porter
thinks they went down town. It was about one."

"Still in time for the City of Pekin," observed Jim.

"How many of them were here?" I inquired.

"Three, sir, and the Kanaka," replied the clerk. "I can't somehow fin
out about the third, but he's gone too."

"Mr. Goddedaal, the mate, wasn't here then?" I asked.

"No, Mr. Dodd, none but what you see," says the clerk.

"Nor you never heard where he was?"

"No. Any particular reason for finding these men, Mr. Dodd?" inquired
the clerk.

"This gentleman and I have bought the wreck," I explained; "we wished to
get some information, and it is very annoying to find the men all gone."

A certain group had gradually formed about us, for the wreck was still
a matter of interest; and at this, one of the bystanders, a rough
seafaring man, spoke suddenly.

"I guess the mate won't be gone," said he. "He's main sick; never left
the sick-bay aboard the Tempest; so they tell ME."

Jim took me by the sleeve. "Back to the consulate," said he.

But even at the consulate nothing was known of Mr. Goddedaal. The doctor
of the Tempest had certified him very sick; he had sent his papers in,
but never appeared in person before the authorities.

"Have you a telephone laid on to the Tempest?" asked Pinkerton.

"Laid on yesterday," said the clerk.

"Do you mind asking, or letting me ask? We are very anxious to get hold
of Mr. Goddedaal."

"All right," said the clerk, and turned to the telephone. "I'm sorry,"
he said presently, "Mr. Goddedaal has left the ship, and no one knows
where he is."

"Do you pay the men's passage home?" I inquired, a sudden thought
striking me.

"If they want it," said the clerk; "sometimes they don't. But we paid
the Kanaka's passage to Honolulu this morning; and by what Captain Trent
was saying, I understand the rest are going home together."

"Then you haven't paid them?" said I.

"Not yet," said the clerk.

"And you would be a good deal surprised, if I were to tell you they were
gone already?" I asked.

"O, I should think you were mistaken," said he.

"Such is the fact, however," said I.

"I am sure you must be mistaken," he repeated.

"May I use your telephone one moment?" asked Pinkerton; and as soon as
permission had been granted, I heard him ring up the printing-office
where our advertisements were usually handled. More I did not hear; for
suddenly recalling the big, bad hand in the register of the What Cheer
House, I asked the consulate clerk if he had a specimen of Captain
Trent's writing. Whereupon I learned that the captain could not write,
having cut his hand open a little before the loss of the brig; that the
latter part of the log even had been written up by Mr. Goddedaal; and
that Trent had always signed with his left hand. By the time I had
gleaned this information, Pinkerton was ready.

"That's all that we can do. Now for the schooner," said he; "and by
to-morrow evening I lay hands on Goddedaal, or my name's not Pinkerton."

"How have you managed?" I inquired.

"You'll see before you get to bed," said Pinkerton. "And now, after
all this backwarding and forwarding, and that hotel clerk, and that
bug Bellairs, it'll be a change and a kind of consolation to see the
schooner. I guess things are humming there."

But on the wharf, when we reached it, there was no sign of bustle,
and, but for the galley smoke, no mark of life on the Norah Creina.
Pinkerton's face grew pale, and his mouth straightened, as he leaped on

"Where's the captain of this----?" and he left the phrase unfinished,
finding no epithet sufficiently energetic for his thoughts.

It did not appear whom or what he was addressing; but a head, presumably
the cook's, appeared in answer at the galley door.

"In the cabin, at dinner," said the cook deliberately, chewing as he

"Is that cargo out?"

"No, sir."

"None of it?"

"O, there's some of it out. We'll get at the rest of it livelier
to-morrow, I guess."

"I guess there'll be something broken first," said Pinkerton, and strode
to the cabin.

Here we found a man, fat, dark, and quiet, seated gravely at what seemed
a liberal meal. He looked up upon our entrance; and seeing Pinkerton
continue to stand facing him in silence, hat on head, arms folded, and
lips compressed, an expression of mingled wonder and annoyance began to
dawn upon his placid face.

"Well!" said Jim; "and so this is what you call rushing around?"

"Who are you?" cries the captain.

"Me! I'm Pinkerton!" retorted Jim, as though the name had been a

"You're not very civil, whoever you are," was the reply. But still a
certain effect had been produced, for he scrambled to his feet,
and added hastily, "A man must have a bit of dinner, you know, Mr.

"Where's your mate?" snapped Jim.

"He's up town," returned the other.

"Up town!" sneered Pinkerton. "Now, I'll tell you what you are: you're a
Fraud; and if I wasn't afraid of dirtying my boot, I would kick you and
your dinner into that dock."

"I'll tell you something, too," retorted the captain, duskily flushing.
"I wouldn't sail this ship for the man you are, if you went upon your
knees. I've dealt with gentlemen up to now."

"I can tell you the names of a number of gentlemen you'll never deal
with any more, and that's the whole of Longhurst's gang," said Jim.
"I'll put your pipe out in that quarter, my friend. Here, rout out your
traps as quick as look at it, and take your vermin along with you. I'll
have a captain in, this very night, that's a sailor, and some sailors to
work for him."

"I'll go when I please, and that's to-morrow morning," cried the captain
after us, as we departed for the shore.

"There's something gone wrong with the world to-day; it must have come
bottom up!" wailed Pinkerton. "Bellairs, and then the hotel clerk,
and now This Fraud! And what am I to do for a captain, Loudon, with
Longhurst gone home an hour ago, and the boys all scattered?"

"I know," said I. "Jump in!" And then to the driver: "Do you know Black

Thither then we rattled; passed through the bar, and found (as I had
hoped) Johnson in the enjoyment of club life. The table had been
thrust upon one side; a South Sea merchant was discoursing music from a
mouth-organ in one corner; and in the middle of the floor Johnson and
a fellow-seaman, their arms clasped about each other's bodies, somewhat
heavily danced. The room was both cold and close; a jet of gas,
which continually menaced the heads of the performers, shed a coarse
illumination; the mouth-organ sounded shrill and dismal; and the faces
of all concerned were church-like in their gravity. It were, of course,
indelicate to interrupt these solemn frolics; so we edged ourselves to
chairs, for all the world like belated comers in a concert-room, and
patiently waited for the end. At length the organist, having exhausted
his supply of breath, ceased abruptly in the middle of a bar. With
the cessation of the strain, the dancers likewise came to a full stop,
swayed a moment, still embracing, and then separated and looked about
the circle for applause.

"Very well danced!" said one; but it appears the compliment was not
strong enough for the performers, who (forgetful of the proverb) took up
the tale in person.

"Well," said Johnson. "I mayn't be no sailor, but I can dance!"

And his late partner, with an almost pathetic conviction, added, "My
foot is as light as a feather."

Seeing how the wind set, you may be sure I added a few words of
praise before I carried Johnson alone into the passage: to whom, thus
mollified, I told so much as I judged needful of our situation, and
begged him, if he would not take the job himself, to find me a smart

"Me!" he cried. "I couldn't no more do it than I could try to go to

"I thought you were a mate?" said I.

"So I am a mate," giggled Johnson, "and you don't catch me shipping
noways else. But I'll tell you what, I believe I can get you Arty Nares:
you seen Arty; first-rate navigator and a son of a gun for style." And
he proceeded to explain to me that Mr. Nares, who had the promise of
a fine barque in six months, after things had quieted down, was in the
meantime living very private, and would be pleased to have a change of

I called out Pinkerton and told him. "Nares!" he cried, as soon as I
had come to the name. "I would jump at the chance of a man that had had
Nares's trousers on! Why, Loudon, he's the smartest deep-water mate out
of San Francisco, and draws his dividends regular in service and out."
This hearty indorsation clinched the proposal; Johnson agreed to produce
Nares before six the following morning; and Black Tom, being called into
the consultation, promised us four smart hands for the same hour, and
even (what appeared to all of us excessive) promised them sober.

The streets were fully lighted when we left Black Tom's: street after
street sparkling with gas or electricity, line after line of distant
luminaries climbing the steep sides of hills towards the overvaulting
darkness; and on the other hand, where the waters of the bay invisibly
trembled, a hundred riding lanterns marked the position of a hundred
ships. The sea-fog flew high in heaven; and at the level of man's life
and business it was clear and chill. By silent consent, we paid the hack
off, and proceeded arm in arm towards the Poodle Dog for dinner.

At one of the first hoardings, I was aware of a bill-sticker at work: it
was a late hour for this employment, and I checked Pinkerton until the
sheet should be unfolded. This is what I read:--










"This is your idea, Pinkerton!" I cried.

"Yes. They've lost no time; I'll say that for them--not like the Fraud,"
said he. "But mind you, Loudon, that's not half of it. The cream of
the idea's here: we know our man's sick; well, a copy of that has been
mailed to every hospital, every doctor, and every drug-store in San

Of course, from the nature of our business, Pinkerton could do a thing
of the kind at a figure extremely reduced; for all that, I was appalled
at the extravagance, and said so.

"What matter a few dollars now?" he replied sadly. "It's in three months
that the pull comes, Loudon."

We walked on again in silence, not without a shiver. Even at the Poodle
Dog, we took our food with small appetite and less speech; and it was
not until he was warmed with a third glass of champagne that Pinkerton
cleared his throat and looked upon me with a deprecating eye.

"Loudon," said he, "there was a subject you didn't wish to be referred
to. I only want to do so indirectly. It wasn't"--he faltered--"it wasn't
because you were dissatisfied with me?" he concluded, with a quaver.

"Pinkerton!" cried I.

"No, no, not a word just now," he hastened to proceed. "Let me speak
first. I appreciate, though I can't imitate, the delicacy of your
nature; and I can well understand you would rather die than speak of it,
and yet might feel disappointed. I did think I could have done better
myself. But when I found how tight money was in this city, and a man
like Douglas B. Longhurst--a forty-niner, the man that stood at bay in a
corn patch for five hours against the San Diablo squatters--weakening on
the operation, I tell you, Loudon, I began to despair; and--I may
have made mistakes, no doubt there are thousands who could have done
better--but I give you a loyal hand on it, I did my best."

"My poor Jim," said I, "as if I ever doubted you! as if I didn't
know you had done wonders! All day I've been admiring your energy and
resource. And as for that affair----"

"No, Loudon, no more, not a word more! I don't want to hear," cried Jim.

"Well, to tell you the truth, I don't want to tell you," said I; "for
it's a thing I'm ashamed of."

"Ashamed, Loudon? O, don't say that; don't use such an expression even
in jest!" protested Pinkerton.

"Do you never do anything you're ashamed of?" I inquired.

"No," says he, rolling his eyes. "Why? I'm sometimes sorry afterwards,
when it pans out different from what I figured. But I can't see what I
would want to be ashamed for."

I sat a while considering with admiration the simplicity of my friend's
character. Then I sighed. "Do you know, Jim, what I'm sorriest for?"
said I. "At this rate, I can't be best man at your marriage."

"My marriage!" he repeated, echoing the sigh. "No marriage for me now.
I'm going right down to-night to break it to her. I think that's what's
shaken me all day. I feel as if I had had no right (after I was engaged)
to operate so widely."

"Well, you know, Jim, it was my doing, and you must lay the blame on
me," said I.

"Not a cent of it!" he cried. "I was as eager as yourself, only not so
bright at the beginning. No; I've myself to thank for it; but it's a

While Jim departed on his dolorous mission, I returned alone to the
office, lit the gas, and sat down to reflect on the events of that
momentous day: on the strange features of the tale that had been so far
unfolded, the disappearances, the terrors, the great sums of money; and
on the dangerous and ungrateful task that awaited me in the immediate

It is difficult, in the retrospect of such affairs, to avoid attributing
to ourselves in the past a measure of the knowledge we possess to-day.
But I may say, and yet be well within the mark, that I was consumed that
night with a fever of suspicion and curiosity; exhausted my fancy in
solutions, which I still dismissed as incommensurable with the facts;
and in the mystery by which I saw myself surrounded, found a precious
stimulus for my courage and a convenient soothing draught for
conscience. Even had all been plain sailing, I do not hint that I should
have drawn back. Smuggling is one of the meanest of crimes, for by that
we rob a whole country pro rata, and are therefore certain to impoverish
the poor: to smuggle opium is an offence particularly dark, since it
stands related not so much to murder, as to massacre. Upon all these
points I was quite clear; my sympathy was all in arms against my
interest; and had not Jim been involved, I could have dwelt almost with
satisfaction on the idea of my failure. But Jim, his whole fortune, and
his marriage, depended upon my success; and I preferred the interests of
my friend before those of all the islanders in the South Seas. This is
a poor, private morality, if you like; but it is mine, and the best I
have; and I am not half so much ashamed of having embarked at all on
this adventure, as I am proud that (while I was in it, and for the
sake of my friend) I was up early and down late, set my own hand to
everything, took dangers as they came, and for once in my life played
the man throughout. At the same time, I could have desired another field
of energy; and I was the more grateful for the redeeming element of
mystery. Without that, though I might have gone ahead and done as well,
it would scarce have been with ardour; and what inspired me that night
with an impatient greed of the sea, the island, and the wreck, was the
hope that I might stumble there upon the answer to a hundred questions,
and learn why Captain Trent fanned his red face in the exchange, and why
Mr. Dickson fled from the telephone in the Mission Street lodging-house.






I was unhappy when I closed my eyes; and it was to unhappiness that I
opened them again next morning, to a confused sense of some calamity
still inarticulate, and to the consciousness of jaded limbs and of
a swimming head. I must have lain for some time inert and stupidly
miserable, before I became aware of a reiterated knocking at the
door; with which discovery all my wits flowed back in their accustomed
channels, and I remembered the sale, and the wreck, and Goddedaal, and
Nares, and Johnson, and Black Tom, and the troubles of yesterday,
and the manifold engagements of the day that was to come. The thought
thrilled me like a trumpet in the hour of battle. In a moment, I had
leaped from bed, crossed the office where Pinkerton lay in a deep trance
of sleep on the convertible sofa, and stood in the doorway, in my night
gear, to receive our visitors.

Johnson was first, by way of usher, smiling. From a little behind, with
his Sunday hat tilted forward over his brow, and a cigar glowing between
his lips, Captain Nares acknowledged our previous acquaintance with a
succinct nod. Behind him again, in the top of the stairway, a knot of
sailors, the new crew of the Norah Creina, stood polishing the wall with
back and elbow. These I left without to their reflections. But our two
officers I carried at once into the office, where (taking Jim by the
shoulder) I shook him slowly into consciousness. He sat up, all abroad
for the moment, and stared on the new captain.

"Jim," said I, "this is Captain Nares. Captain, Mr. Pinkerton."

Nares repeated his curt nod, still without speech; and I thought he held
us both under a watchful scrutiny.

"O!" says Jim, "this is Captain Nares, is it? Good morning, Captain
Nares. Happy to have the pleasure of your acquaintance, sir. I know you
well by reputation."

Perhaps, under the circumstances of the moment, this was scarce a
welcome speech. At least, Nares received it with a grunt.

"Well, Captain," Jim continued, "you know about the size of the
business? You're to take the Nora Creina to Midway Island, break up
a wreck, call at Honolulu, and back to this port? I suppose that's

"Well," returned Nares, with the same unamiable reserve, "for a reason,
which I guess you know, the cruise may suit me; but there's a point or
two to settle. We shall have to talk, Mr. Pinkerton. But whether I go or
not, somebody will; there's no sense in losing time; and you might give
Mr. Johnson a note, let him take the hands right down, and set to to
overhaul the rigging. The beasts look sober," he added, with an air of
great disgust, "and need putting to work to keep them so."

This being agreed upon, Nares watched his subordinate depart and drew a
visible breath.

"And now we're alone and can talk," said he. "What's this thing about?
It's been advertised like Barnum's museum; that poster of yours has
set the Front talking; that's an objection in itself, for I'm laying a
little dark just now; and anyway, before I take the ship, I require to
know what I'm going after."

Thereupon Pinkerton gave him the whole tale, beginning with a
businesslike precision, and working himself up, as he went on, to the
boiling-point of narrative enthusiasm. Nares sat and smoked, hat
still on head, and acknowledged each fresh feature of the story with a
frowning nod. But his pale blue eyes betrayed him, and lighted visibly.

"Now you see for yourself," Pinkerton concluded: "there's every last
chance that Trent has skipped to Honolulu, and it won't take much of
that fifty thousand dollars to charter a smart schooner down to Midway.
Here's where I want a man!" cried Jim, with contagious energy. "That
wreck's mine; I've paid for it, money down; and if it's got to be fought
for, I want to see it fought for lively. If you're not back in ninety
days, I tell you plainly, I'll make one of the biggest busts ever seen
upon this coast; it's life or death for Mr. Dodd and me. As like as not,
it'll come to grapples on the island; and when I heard your name last
night--and a blame' sight more this morning when I saw the eye you've
got in your head--I said, 'Nares is good enough for me!'"

"I guess," observed Nares, studying the ash of his cigar, "the sooner I
get that schooner outside the Farallones, the better you'll be pleased."

"You're the man I dreamed of!" cried Jim, bouncing on the bed. "There's
not five per cent of fraud in all your carcase."

"Just hold on," said Nares. "There's another point. I heard some talk
about a supercargo."

"That's Mr. Dodd, here, my partner," said Jim.

"I don't see it," returned the captain drily. "One captain's enough for
any ship that ever I was aboard."

"Now don't you start disappointing me," said Pinkerton; "for you're
talking without thought. I'm not going to give you the run of the books
of this firm, am I? I guess not. Well, this is not only a cruise; it's a
business operation; and that's in the hands of my partner. You sail that
ship, you see to breaking up that wreck and keeping the men upon the
jump, and you'll find your hands about full. Only, no mistake about one
thing: it has to be done to Mr. Dodd's satisfaction; for it's Mr. Dodd
that's paying."

"I'm accustomed to give satisfaction," said Mr. Nares, with a dark

"And so you will here!" cried Pinkerton. "I understand you. You're
prickly to handle, but you're straight all through."

"The position's got to be understood, though," returned Nares, perhaps
a trifle mollified. "My position, I mean. I'm not going to ship
sailing-master; it's enough out of my way already, to set a foot on this
mosquito schooner."

"Well, I'll tell you," retorted Jim, with an indescribable twinkle: "you
just meet me on the ballast, and we'll make it a barquentine."

Nares laughed a little; tactless Pinkerton had once more gained a
victory in tact. "Then there's another point," resumed the captain,
tacitly relinquishing the last. "How about the owners?"

"O, you leave that to me; I'm one of Longhurst's crowd, you know," said
Jim, with sudden bristling vanity. "Any man that's good enough for me,
is good enough for them."

"Who are they?" asked Nares.

"M'Intyre and Spittal," said Jim.

"O, well, give me a card of yours," said the captain: "you needn't
bother to write; I keep M'Intyre and Spittal in my vest-pocket."

Boast for boast; it was always thus with Nares and Pinkerton--the two
vainest men of my acquaintance. And having thus reinstated himself in
his own opinion, the captain rose, and, with a couple of his stiff nods,

"Jim," I cried, as the door closed behind him, "I don't like that man."

"You've just got to, Loudon," returned Jim. "He's a typical American
seaman--brave as a lion, full of resource, and stands high with his
owners. He's a man with a record."

"For brutality at sea," said I.

"Say what you like," exclaimed Pinkerton, "it was a good hour we got him
in: I'd trust Mamie's life to him to-morrow."

"Well, and talking of Mamie?" says I.

Jim paused with his trousers half on. "She's the gallantest little soul
God ever made!" he cried. "Loudon, I'd meant to knock you up last night,
and I hope you won't take it unfriendly that I didn't. I went in and
looked at you asleep; and I saw you were all broken up, and let you be.
The news would keep, anyway; and even you, Loudon, couldn't feel it the
same way as I did."

"What news?" I asked.

"It's this way," says Jim. "I told her how we stood, and that I backed
down from marrying. 'Are you tired of me?' says she: God bless her!
Well, I explained the whole thing over again, the chance of smash, your
absence unavoidable, the point I made of having you for the best man,
and that. 'If you're not tired of me, I think I see one way to manage,'
says she. 'Let's get married to-morrow, and Mr. Loudon can be best man
before he goes to sea.' That's how she said it, crisp and bright, like
one of Dickens's characters. It was no good for me to talk about the
smash. 'You'll want me all the more,' she said. Loudon, I only pray I
can make it up to her; I prayed for it last night beside your bed, while
you lay sleeping--for you, and Mamie and myself; and--I don't know if
you quite believe in prayer, I'm a bit Ingersollian myself--but a kind
of sweetness came over me, and I couldn't help but think it was an
answer. Never was a man so lucky! You and me and Mamie; it's a triple
cord, Loudon. If either of you were to die! And she likes you so much,
and thinks you so accomplished and distingue-looking, and was just as
set as I was to have you for best man. 'Mr. Loudon,' she calls you;
seems to me so friendly! And she sat up till three in the morning fixing
up a costume for the marriage; it did me good to see her, Loudon, and to
see that needle going, going, and to say 'All this hurry, Jim, is just
to marry you!' I couldn't believe it; it was so like some blame' fairy
story. To think of those old tin-type times about turned my head; I was
so unrefined then, and so illiterate, and so lonesome; and here I am in
clover, and I'm blamed if I can see what I've done to deserve it."

So he poured forth with innocent volubility the fulness of his heart;
and I, from these irregular communications, must pick out, here a little
and there a little, the particulars of his new plan. They were to be
married, sure enough, that day; the wedding breakfast was to be at
Frank's; the evening to be passed in a visit of God-speed aboard the
Norah Creina; and then we were to part, Jim and I, he to his married
life, I on my sea-enterprise. If ever I cherished an ill-feeling
for Miss Mamie, I forgave her now; so brave and kind, so pretty and
venturesome, was her decision. The weather frowned overhead with a
leaden sky, and San Francisco had never (in all my experience) looked so
bleak and gaunt, and shoddy, and crazy, like a city prematurely old; but
through all my wanderings and errands to and fro, by the dock side or in
the jostling street, among rude sounds and ugly sights, there ran in my
mind, like a tiny strain of music, the thought of my friend's happiness.

For that was indeed a day of many and incongruous occupations. Breakfast
was scarce swallowed before Jim must run to the City Hall and Frank's
about the cares of marriage, and I hurry to John Smith's upon the
account of stores, and thence, on a visit of certification, to the
Norah Creina. Methought she looked smaller than ever, sundry great
ships overspiring her from close without. She was already a nightmare of
disorder; and the wharf alongside was piled with a world of casks, and
cases, and tins, and tools, and coils of rope, and miniature barrels of
giant powder, such as it seemed no human ingenuity could stuff on board
of her. Johnson was in the waist, in a red shirt and dungaree trousers,
his eye kindled with activity. With him I exchanged a word or two;
thence stepped aft along the narrow alleyway between the house and the
rail, and down the companion to the main cabin, where the captain sat
with the commissioner at wine.

I gazed with disaffection at the little box which for many a day I was
to call home. On the starboard was a stateroom for the captain; on the
port, a pair of frowsy berths, one over the other, and abutting astern
upon the side of an unsavoury cupboard. The walls were yellow and damp,
the floor black and greasy; there was a prodigious litter of straw, old
newspapers, and broken packing-cases; and by way of ornament, only
a glass-rack, a thermometer presented "with compliments" of some
advertising whiskey-dealer, and a swinging lamp. It was hard to foresee
that, before a week was up, I should regard that cabin as cheerful,
lightsome, airy, and even spacious.

I was presented to the commissioner, and to a young friend of his whom
he had brought with him for the purpose (apparently) of smoking cigars;
and after we had pledged one another in a glass of California port, a
trifle sweet and sticky for a morning beverage, the functionary spread
his papers on the table, and the hands were summoned. Down they trooped,
accordingly, into the cabin; and stood eyeing the ceiling or the floor,
the picture of sheepish embarrassment, and with a common air of wanting
to expectorate and not quite daring. In admirable contrast, stood
the Chinese cook, easy, dignified, set apart by spotless raiment, the
hidalgo of the seas.

I daresay you never had occasion to assist at the farce which followed.
Our shipping laws in the United States (thanks to the inimitable Dana)
are conceived in a spirit of paternal stringency, and proceed throughout
on the hypothesis that poor Jack is an imbecile, and the other parties
to the contract, rogues and ruffians. A long and wordy paper of
precautions, a fo'c's'le bill of rights, must be read separately to each
man. I had now the benefit of hearing it five times in brisk succession;
and you would suppose I was acquainted with its contents. But the
commissioner (worthy man) spends his days in doing little else; and when
we bear in mind the parallel case of the irreverent curate, we need not
be surprised that he took the passage tempo prestissimo, in one roulade
of gabble--that I, with the trained attention of an educated man,
could gather but a fraction of its import--and the sailors nothing.
No profanity in giving orders, no sheath-knives, Midway Island and any
other port the master may direct, not to exceed six calendar months,
and to this port to be paid off: so it seemed to run, with surprising
verbiage; so ended. And with the end, the commissioner, in each case,
fetched a deep breath, resumed his natural voice, and proceeded to
business. "Now, my man," he would say, "you ship A. B. at so many
dollars, American gold coin. Sign your name here, if you have one, and
can write." Whereupon, and the name (with infinite hard breathing) being
signed, the commissioner would proceed to fill in the man's appearance,
height, etc., on the official form. In this task of literary portraiture
he seemed to rely wholly upon temperament; for I could not perceive him
to cast one glance on any of his models. He was assisted, however, by a
running commentary from the captain: "Hair blue and eyes red, nose
five foot seven, and stature broken"--jests as old, presumably, as the
American marine; and, like the similar pleasantries of the billiard
board, perennially relished. The highest note of humour was reached in
the case of the Chinese cook, who was shipped under the name of "One
Lung," to the sound of his own protests and the self-approving chuckles
of the functionary.

"Now, captain," said the latter, when the men were gone, and he had
bundled up his papers, "the law requires you to carry a slop-chest and a
chest of medicines."

"I guess I know that," said Nares.

"I guess you do," returned the commissioner, and helped himself to port.

But when he was gone, I appealed to Nares on the same subject, for I was
well aware we carried none of these provisions.

"Well," drawled Nares, "there's sixty pounds of niggerhead on the quay,
isn't there? and twenty pounds of salts; and I never travel without some
painkiller in my gripsack."

As a matter of fact, we were richer. The captain had the usual sailor's
provision of quack medicines, with which, in the usual sailor fashion,
he would daily drug himself, displaying an extreme inconstancy, and
flitting from Kennedy's Red Discovery to Kennedy's White, and from
Hood's Sarsaparilla to Mother Seigel's Syrup. And there were, besides,
some mildewed and half-empty bottles, the labels obliterated, over
which Nares would sometimes sniff and speculate. "Seems to smell like
diarrhoea stuff," he would remark. "I wish't I knew, and I would
try it." But the slop-chest was indeed represented by the plugs of
niggerhead, and nothing else. Thus paternal laws are made, thus they
are evaded; and the schooner put to sea, like plenty of her neighbours,
liable to a fine of six hundred dollars.

This characteristic scene, which has delayed me overlong, was but a
moment in that day of exercise and agitation. To fit out a schooner for
sea, and improvise a marriage between dawn and dusk, involves heroic
effort. All day Jim and I ran, and tramped, and laughed, and came near
crying, and fell in sudden anxious consultations, and were sped (with
a prepared sarcasm on our lips) to some fallacious milliner, and made
dashes to the schooner and John Smith's, and at every second corner
were reminded (by our own huge posters) of our desperate estate. Between
whiles, I had found the time to hover at some half-a-dozen jewellers'
windows; and my present, thus intemperately chosen, was graciously
accepted. I believe, indeed, that was the last (though not the least) of
my concerns, before the old minister, shabby and benign, was routed from
his house and led to the office like a performing poodle; and there, in
the growing dusk, under the cold glitter of Thirteen Star, two hundred
strong, and beside the garish glories of the agricultural engine, Mamie
and Jim were made one. The scene was incongruous, but the business
pretty, whimsical, and affecting: the typewriters with such kindly faces
and fine posies, Mamie so demure, and Jim--how shall I describe that
poor, transfigured Jim? He began by taking the minister aside to the far
end of the office. I knew not what he said, but I have reason to believe
he was protesting his unfitness; for he wept as he said it: and the old
minister, himself genuinely moved, was heard to console and encourage
him, and at one time to use this expression: "I assure you, Mr.
Pinkerton, there are not many who can say so much"--from which I
gathered that my friend had tempered his self-accusations with at least
one legitimate boast. From this ghostly counselling, Jim turned to me;
and though he never got beyond the explosive utterance of my name and
one fierce handgrip, communicated some of his own emotion, like a charge
of electricity, to his best man. We stood up to the ceremony at last,
in a general and kindly discomposure. Jim was all abroad; and the divine
himself betrayed his sympathy in voice and demeanour, and concluded with
a fatherly allocution, in which he congratulated Mamie (calling her "my
dear") upon the fortune of an excellent husband, and protested he had
rarely married a more interesting couple. At this stage, like a glory
descending, there was handed in, ex machina, the card of Douglas B.
Longhurst, with congratulations and four dozen Perrier-Jouet. A bottle
was opened; and the minister pledged the bride, and the bridesmaids
simpered and tasted, and I made a speech with airy bacchanalianism,
glass in hand. But poor Jim must leave the wine untasted. "Don't touch
it," I had found the opportunity to whisper; "in your state it will make
you as drunk as a fiddler." And Jim had wrung my hand with a "God bless
you, Loudon!--saved me again!"

Hard following upon this, the supper passed off at Frank's with somewhat
tremulous gaiety. And thence, with one half of the Perrier-Jouet--I
would accept no more--we voyaged in a hack to the Norah Creina.

"What a dear little ship!" cried Mamie, as our miniature craft was
pointed out to her. And then, on second thought, she turned to the best
man. "And how brave you must be, Mr. Dodd," she cried, "to go in that
tiny thing so far upon the ocean!" And I perceived I had risen in the
lady's estimation.

The dear little ship presented a horrid picture of confusion, and its
occupants of weariness and ill-humour. From the cabin the cook was
storing tins into the lazarette, and the four hands, sweaty and sullen,
were passing them from one to another from the waist. Johnson was three
parts asleep over the table; and in his bunk, in his own cabin, the
captain sourly chewed and puffed at a cigar.

"See here," he said, rising; "you'll be sorry you came. We can't stop
work if we're to get away to-morrow. A ship getting ready for sea is no
place for people, anyway. You'll only interrupt my men."

I was on the point of answering something tart; but Jim, who was
acquainted with the breed, as he was with most things that had a bearing
on affairs, made haste to pour in oil.

"Captain," he said, "I know we're a nuisance here, and that you've had
a rough time. But all we want is that you should drink one glass of wine
with us, Perrier-Jouet, from Longhurst, on the occasion of my marriage,
and Loudon's--Mr. Dodd's--departure."

"Well, it's your lookout," said Nares. "I don't mind half an hour.
Spell, O!" he added to the men; "go and kick your heels for half an
hour, and then you can turn to again a trifle livelier. Johnson, see if
you can't wipe off a chair for the lady."

His tone was no more gracious than his language; but when Mamie had
turned upon him the soft fire of her eyes, and informed him that he was
the first sea-captain she had ever met, "except captains of steamers,
of course"--she so qualified the statement--and had expressed a lively
sense of his courage, and perhaps implied (for I suppose the arts of
ladies are the same as those of men) a modest consciousness of his good
looks, our bear began insensibly to soften; and it was already part
as an apology, though still with unaffected heat of temper, that he
volunteered some sketch of his annoyances.

"A pretty mess we've had!" said he. "Half the stores were wrong; I'll
wring John Smith's neck for him some of these days. Then two newspaper
beasts came down, and tried to raise copy out of me, till I threatened
them with the first thing handy; and then some kind of missionary bug,
wanting to work his passage to Raiatea or somewhere. I told him I would
take him off the wharf with the butt end of my boot, and he went away
cursing. This vessel's been depreciated by the look of him."

While the captain spoke, with his strange, humorous, arrogant
abruptness, I observed Jim to be sizing him up, like a thing at once
quaint and familiar, and with a scrutiny that was both curious and

"One word, dear boy," he said, turning suddenly to me. And when he had
drawn me on deck, "That man," says he, "will carry sail till your hair
grows white; but never you let on, never breathe a word. I know his
line: he'll die before he'll take advice; and if you get his back up,
he'll run you right under. I don't often jam in my advice, Loudon; and
when I do, it means I'm thoroughly posted."

The little party in the cabin, so disastrously begun, finished, under
the mellowing influence of wine and woman, in excellent feeling and
with some hilarity. Mamie, in a plush Gainsborough hat and a gown of
wine-coloured silk, sat, an apparent queen, among her rude surroundings
and companions. The dusky litter of the cabin set off her radiant
trimness: tarry Johnson was a foil to her fair beauty; she glowed in
that poor place, fair as a star; until even I, who was not usually of
her admirers, caught a spark of admiration; and even the captain, who
was in no courtly humour, proposed that the scene should be commemorated
by my pencil. It was the last act of the evening. Hurriedly as I went
about my task, the half-hour had lengthened out to more than three
before it was completed: Mamie in full value, the rest of the party
figuring in outline only, and the artist himself introduced in a back
view, which was pronounced a likeness. But it was to Mamie that I
devoted the best of my attention; and it was with her I made my chief

"O!" she cried, "am I really like that? No wonder Jim ..." She paused.
"Why it's just as lovely as he's good!" she cried: an epigram which was
appreciated, and repeated as we made our salutations, and called out
after the retreating couple as they passed away under the lamplight on
the wharf.

Thus it was that our farewells were smuggled through under an ambuscade
of laughter, and the parting over ere I knew it was begun. The figures
vanished, the steps died away along the silent city front; on board, the
men had returned to their labours, the captain to his solitary cigar;
and after that long and complex day of business and emotion, I was at
last alone and free. It was, perhaps, chiefly fatigue that made my heart
so heavy. I leaned at least upon the house, and stared at the foggy
heaven, or over the rail at the wavering reflection of the lamps, like a
man that was quite done with hope and would have welcomed the asylum of
the grave. And all at once, as I thus stood, the City of Pekin flashed
into my mind, racing her thirteen knots for Honolulu, with the hated
Trent--perhaps with the mysterious Goddedaal--on board; and with the
thought, the blood leaped and careered through all my body. It seemed no
chase at all; it seemed we had no chance, as we lay there bound to iron
pillars, and fooling away the precious moments over tins of beans. "Let
them get there first!" I thought. "Let them! We can't be long behind."
And from that moment, I date myself a man of a rounded experience:
nothing had lacked but this, that I should entertain and welcome the
grim thought of bloodshed.

It was long before the toil remitted in the cabin, and it was worth
my while to get to bed; long after that, before sleep favoured me;
and scarce a moment later (or so it seemed) when I was recalled to
consciousness by bawling men and the jar of straining hawsers.

The schooner was cast off before I got on deck. In the misty obscurity
of the first dawn, I saw the tug heading us with glowing fires and
blowing smoke, and heard her beat the roughened waters of the bay.
Beside us, on her flock of hills, the lighted city towered up and
stood swollen in the raw fog. It was strange to see her burn on thus
wastefully, with half-quenched luminaries, when the dawn was already
grown strong enough to show me, and to suffer me to recognise, a
solitary figure standing by the piles.

Or was it really the eye, and not rather the heart, that identified that
shadow in the dusk, among the shoreside lamps? I know not. It was Jim,
at least; Jim, come for a last look; and we had but time to wave a
valedictory gesture and exchange a wordless cry. This was our second
parting, and our capacities were now reversed. It was mine to play the
Argonaut, to speed affairs, to plan and to accomplish--if need were, at
the price of life; it was his to sit at home, to study the calendar, and
to wait. I knew besides another thing that gave me joy. I knew that my
friend had succeeded in my education; that the romance of business,
if our fantastic purchase merited the name, had at last stirred my
dilletante nature; and, as we swept under cloudy Tamalpais and through
the roaring narrows of the bay, the Yankee blood sang in my veins with
suspense and exultation.

Outside the heads, as if to meet my desire, we found it blowing fresh
from the northeast. No time had been lost. The sun was not yet up before
the tug cast off the hawser, gave us a salute of three whistles, and
turned homeward toward the coast, which now began to gleam along its
margin with the earliest rays of day. There was no other ship in view
when the Norah Creina, lying over under all plain sail, began her long
and lonely voyage to the wreck.






I love to recall the glad monotony of a Pacific voyage, when the trades
are not stinted, and the ship, day after day, goes free. The mountain
scenery of trade-wind clouds, watched (and in my case painted) under
every vicissitude of light--blotting stars, withering in the moon's
glory, barring the scarlet eve, lying across the dawn collapsed into the
unfeatured morning bank, or at noon raising their snowy summits between
the blue roof of heaven and the blue floor of sea; the small, busy,
and deliberate world of the schooner, with its unfamiliar scenes, the
spearing of dolphin from the bowsprit end, the holy war on sharks,
the cook making bread on the main hatch; reefing down before a violent
squall, with the men hanging out on the foot-ropes; the squall itself,
the catch at the heart, the opened sluices of the sky; and the relief,
the renewed loveliness of life, when all is over, the sun forth again,
and our out-fought enemy only a blot upon the leeward sea. I love to
recall, and would that I could reproduce that life, the unforgettable,
the unrememberable. The memory, which shows so wise a backwardness
in registering pain, is besides an imperfect recorder of extended
pleasures; and a long-continued well-being escapes (as it were, by its
mass) our petty methods of commemoration. On a part of our life's map
there lies a roseate, undecipherable haze, and that is all.

Of one thing, if I am at all to trust my own annals, I was delightedly
conscious. Day after day, in the sun-gilded cabin, the whiskey-dealer's
thermometer stood at 84. Day after day, the air had the same
indescribable liveliness and sweetness, soft and nimble, and cool as
the cheek of health. Day after day the sun flamed; night after night the
moon beaconed, or the stars paraded their lustrous regiment. I was aware
of a spiritual change, or, perhaps, rather a molecular reconstitution.
My bones were sweeter to me. I had come home to my own climate, and
looked back with pity on those damp and wintry zones, miscalled the

"Two years of this, and comfortable quarters to live in, kind of shake
the grit out of a man," the captain remarked; "can't make out to be
happy anywhere else. A townie of mine was lost down this way, in a
coalship that took fire at sea. He struck the beach somewhere in the
Navigators; and he wrote to me that when he left the place, it would be
feet first. He's well off, too, and his father owns some coasting
craft Down East; but Billy prefers the beach, and hot rolls off the
bread-fruit trees."

A voice told me I was on the same track as Billy. But when was this? Our
outward track in the Norah Creina lay well to the northward; and perhaps
it is but the impression of a few pet days which I have unconsciously
spread longer, or perhaps the feeling grew upon me later, in the run to
Honolulu. One thing I am sure: it was before I had ever seen an island
worthy of the name that I must date my loyalty to the South Seas. The
blank sea itself grew desirable under such skies; and wherever the
trade-wind blows, I know no better country than a schooner's deck.

But for the tugging anxiety as to the journey's end, the journey itself
must thus have counted for the best of holidays. My physical well-being
was over-proof; effects of sea and sky kept me for ever busy with my
pencil; and I had no lack of intellectual exercise of a different order
in the study of my inconsistent friend, the captain. I call him friend,
here on the threshold; but that is to look well ahead. At first, I
was too much horrified by what I considered his barbarities, too much
puzzled by his shifting humours, and too frequently annoyed by his small
vanities, to regard him otherwise than as the cross of my existence. It
was only by degrees, in his rare hours of pleasantness, when he forgot
(and made me forget) the weaknesses to which he was so prone, that he
won me to a kind of unconsenting fondness. Lastly, the faults were
all embraced in a more generous view: I saw them in their place, like
discords in a musical progression; and accepted them and found them
picturesque, as we accept and admire, in the habitable face of nature,
the smoky head of the volcano or the pernicious thicket of the swamp.

He was come of good people Down East, and had the beginnings of a
thorough education. His temper had been ungovernable from the first; and
it is likely the defect was inherited, and the blame of the rupture
not entirely his. He ran away at least to sea; suffered horrible
maltreatment, which seemed to have rather hardened than enlightened him;
ran away again to shore in a South American port; proved his capacity
and made money, although still a child; fell among thieves and was
robbed; worked back a passage to the States, and knocked one morning
at the door of an old lady whose orchard he had often robbed. The
introduction appears insufficient; but Nares knew what he was doing.
The sight of her old neighbourly depredator shivering at the door in
tatters, the very oddity of his appeal, touched a soft spot in the
spinster's heart. "I always had a fancy for the old lady," Nares said,
"even when she used to stampede me out of the orchard, and shake her
thimble and her old curls at me out of the window as I was going by; I
always thought she was a kind of pleasant old girl. Well, when she came
to the door that morning, I told her so, and that I was stone-broke; and
she took me right in, and fetched out the pie." She clothed him, taught
him, and had him to sea again in better shape, welcomed him to her
hearth on his return from every cruise, and when she died bequeathed him
her possessions. "She was a good old girl," he would say. "I tell you,
Mr. Dodd, it was a queer thing to see me and the old lady talking a
pasear in the garden, and the old man scowling at us over the pickets.
She lived right next door to the old man, and I guess that's just what
took me there. I wanted him to know that I was badly beat, you see, and
would rather go to the devil than to him. What made the dig harder, he
had quarrelled with the old lady about me and the orchard: I guess that
made him rage. Yes, I was a beast when I was young. But I was always
pretty good to the old lady." Since then he had prospered, not
uneventfully, in his profession; the old lady's money had fallen in
during the voyage of the Gleaner, and he was now, as soon as the smoke
of that engagement cleared away, secure of his ship. I suppose he was
about thirty: a powerful, active man, with a blue eye, a thick head
of hair, about the colour of oakum and growing low over the brow;
clean-shaved and lean about the jaw; a good singer; a good performer on
that sea-instrument, the accordion; a quick observer, a close reasoner;
when he pleased, of a really elegant address; and when he chose, the
greatest brute upon the seas.

His usage of the men, his hazing, his bullying, his perpetual
fault-finding for no cause, his perpetual and brutal sarcasm, might have
raised a mutiny in a slave galley. Suppose the steersman's eye to have
wandered: "You ----, ----, little, mutton-faced Dutchman," Nares would
bawl; "you want a booting to keep you on your course! I know a little
city-front slush when I see one. Just you glue your eye to that compass,
or I'll show you round the vessel at the butt-end of my boot." Or
suppose a hand to linger aft, whither he had perhaps been summoned not
a minute before. "Mr. Daniells, will you oblige me by stepping clear
of that main-sheet?" the captain might begin, with truculent courtesy.
"Thank you. And perhaps you'll be so kind as to tell me what the hell
you're doing on my quarter-deck? I want no dirt of your sort here. Is
there nothing for you to do? Where's the mate? Don't you set ME to find
work for you, or I'll find you some that will keep you on your back a
fortnight." Such allocutions, conceived with a perfect knowledge of his
audience, so that every insult carried home, were delivered with a mien
so menacing, and an eye so fiercely cruel, that his unhappy subordinates
shrank and quailed. Too often violence followed; too often I have heard
and seen and boiled at the cowardly aggression; and the victim, his
hands bound by law, has risen again from deck and crawled forward
stupefied--I know not what passion of revenge in his wronged heart.

It seems strange I should have grown to like this tyrant. It may even
seem strange that I should have stood by and suffered his excesses to
proceed. But I was not quite such a chicken as to interfere in public;
for I would rather have a man or two mishandled than one half of
us butchered in a mutiny and the rest suffer on the gallows. And in
private, I was unceasing in my protests.

"Captain," I once said to him, appealing to his patriotism, which was
of a hardy quality, "this is no way to treat American seamen. You don't
call it American to treat men like dogs?"

"Americans?" he said grimly. "Do you call these Dutchmen and
Scattermouches [1] Americans? I've been fourteen years to sea, all but
one trip under American colours, and I've never laid eye on an American
foremast hand. There used to be such things in the old days, when
thirty-five dollars were the wages out of Boston; and then you could see
ships handled and run the way they want to be. But that's all past and
gone; and nowadays the only thing that flies in an American ship is a
belaying-pin. You don't know; you haven't a guess. How would you like to
go on deck for your middle watch, fourteen months on end, with all your
duty to do and every one's life depending on you, and expect to get
a knife ripped into you as you come out of your stateroom, or be
sand-bagged as you pass the boat, or get tripped into the hold, if the
hatches are off in fine weather? That kind of shakes the starch out of
the brotherly love and New Jerusalem business. You go through the mill,
and you'll have a bigger grudge against every old shellback that dirties
his plate in the three oceans, than the Bank of California could settle
up. No; it has an ugly look to it, but the only way to run a ship is to
make yourself a terror."

[1] In sea-lingo (Pacific) DUTCHMAN includes all Teutons and folk from
the basin of the Baltic; SCATTERMOUCH, all Latins and Levantines.

"Come, Captain," said I, "there are degrees in everything. You know
American ships have a bad name; you know perfectly well if it wasn't for
the high wage and the good food, there's not a man would ship in one if
he could help; and even as it is, some prefer a British ship, beastly
food and all."

"O, the lime-juicers?" said he. "There's plenty booting in lime-juicers,
I guess; though I don't deny but what some of them are soft." And with
that he smiled like a man recalling something. "Look here, that brings
a yarn in my head," he resumed; "and for the sake of the joke, I'll give
myself away. It was in 1874, I shipped mate in the British ship Maria,
from 'Frisco for Melbourne. She was the queerest craft in some ways that
ever I was aboard of. The food was a caution; there was nothing fit
to put your lips to--but the lime-juice, which was from the end bin no
doubt: it used to make me sick to see the men's dinners, and sorry to
see my own. The old man was good enough, I guess; Green was his name;
a mild, fatherly old galoot. But the hands were the lowest gang I ever
handled; and whenever I tried to knock a little spirit into them, the
old man took their part! It was Gilbert and Sullivan on the high seas;
but you bet I wouldn't let any man dictate to me. 'You give me your
orders, Captain Green,' I said, 'and you'll find I'll carry them out;
that's all you've got to say. You'll find I do my duty,' I said; 'how
I do it is my lookout; and there's no man born that's going to give
me lessons.' Well, there was plenty dirt on board that Maria first and
last. Of course, the old man put my back up, and, of course, he put up
the crew's; and I had to regular fight my way through every watch. The
men got to hate me, so's I would hear them grit their teeth when I came
up. At last, one day, I saw a big hulking beast of a Dutchman booting
the ship's boy. I made one shoot of it off the house and laid that
Dutchman out. Up he came, and I laid him out again. 'Now,' I said, 'if
there's a kick left in you, just mention it, and I'll stamp your ribs
in like a packing-case.' He thought better of it, and never let on;
lay there as mild as a deacon at a funeral; and they took him below to
reflect on his native Dutchland. One night we got caught in rather a
dirty thing about 25 south. I guess we were all asleep; for the first
thing I knew there was the fore-royal gone. I ran forward, bawling blue
hell; and just as I came by the foremast, something struck me right
through the forearm and stuck there. I put my other hand up, and by
George! it was the grain; the beasts had speared me like a porpoise.
'Cap'n!' I cried.--'What's wrong?' says he.--'They've grained me,' says
I.--'Grained you?' says he. 'Well, I've been looking for that.'----'And
by God,' I cried, 'I want to have some of these beasts murdered for
it!'--'Now, Mr. Nares,' says he, 'you better go below. If I had been one
of the men, you'd have got more than this. And I want no more of your
language on deck. You've cost me my fore-royal already,' says he; 'and
if you carry on, you'll have the three sticks out of her.' That was old
man Green's idea of supporting officers. But you wait a bit; the cream's
coming. We made Melbourne right enough, and the old man said: 'Mr.
Nares, you and me don't draw together. You're a first-rate seaman, no
mistake of that; but you're the most disagreeable man I ever sailed
with; and your language and your conduct to the crew I cannot stomach.
I guess we'll separate.' I didn't care about the berth, you may be sure;
but I felt kind of mean; and if he made one kind of stink, I thought
I could make another. So I said I would go ashore and see how things
stood; went, found I was all right, and came aboard again on the top
rail.--'Are you getting your traps together, Mr. Nares?' says the old
man.--'No,' says I, 'I don't know as we'll separate much before 'Frisco;
at least,' I said, 'it's a point for your consideration. I'm very
willing to say good-by to the Maria, but I don't know whether you'll
care to start me out with three months' wages.' He got his money-box
right away. 'My son,' says he, 'I think it cheap at the money.' He had
me there."


It was a singular tale for a man to tell of himself; above all, in the
midst of our discussion; but it was quite in character for Nares. I
never made a good hit in our disputes, I never justly resented any act
or speech of his, but what I found it long after carefully posted in his
day-book and reckoned (here was the man's oddity) to my credit. It was
the same with his father, whom he had hated; he would give a sketch of
the old fellow, frank and credible, and yet so honestly touched that
it was charming. I have never met a man so strangely constituted: to
possess a reason of the most equal justice, to have his nerves at the
same time quivering with petty spite, and to act upon the nerves and not
the reason.

A kindred wonder in my eyes was the nature of his courage. There was
never a braver man: he went out to welcome danger; an emergency (came it
never so sudden) strung him like a tonic. And yet, upon the other hand,
I have known none so nervous, so oppressed with possibilities, looking
upon the world at large, and the life of a sailor in particular, with
so constant and haggard a consideration of the ugly chances. All
his courage was in blood, not merely cold, but icy with reasoned
apprehension. He would lay our little craft rail under, and "hang on" in
a squall, until I gave myself up for lost, and the men were rushing
to their stations of their own accord. "There," he would say, "I guess
there's not a man on board would have hung on as long as I did that
time; they'll have to give up thinking me no schooner sailor. I guess
I can shave just as near capsizing as any other captain of this vessel,
drunk or sober." And then he would fall to repining and wishing himself
well out of the enterprise, and dilate on the peril of the seas, the
particular dangers of the schooner rig, which he abhorred, the various
ways in which we might go to the bottom, and the prodigious fleet of
ships that have sailed out in the course of history, dwindled from the
eyes of watchers, and returned no more. "Well," he would wind up, "I
guess it don't much matter. I can't see what any one wants to live for,
anyway. If I could get into some one else's apple-tree, and be about
twelve years old, and just stick the way I was, eating stolen apples, I
won't say. But there's no sense in this grown-up business--sailorising,
politics, the piety mill, and all the rest of it. Good clean drowning is
good enough for me." It is hard to imagine any more depressing talk for
a poor landsman on a dirty night; it is hard to imagine anything less
sailor-like (as sailors are supposed to be, and generally are) than this
persistent harping on the minor.


But I was to see more of the man's gloomy constancy ere the cruise was
at an end.

On the morning of the seventeenth day I came on deck, to find the
schooner under double reefs, and flying rather wild before a heavy run
of sea. Snoring trades and humming sails had been our portion hitherto.
We were already nearing the island. My restrained excitement had begun
again to overmaster me; and for some time my only book had been the
patent log that trailed over the taffrail, and my chief interest the
daily observation and our caterpillar progress across the chart. My
first glance, which was at the compass, and my second, which was at the
log, were all that I could wish. We lay our course; we had been doing
over eight since nine the night before; and I drew a heavy breath of
satisfaction. And then I know not what odd and wintry appearance of the
sea and sky knocked suddenly at my heart. I observed the schooner
to look more than usually small, the men silent and studious of the
weather. Nares, in one of his rusty humours, afforded me no shadow of a
morning salutation. He, too, seemed to observe the behaviour of the ship
with an intent and anxious scrutiny. What I liked still less, Johnson
himself was at the wheel, which he span busily, often with a visible
effort; and as the seas ranged up behind us, black and imminent, he kept
casting behind him eyes of animal swiftness, and drawing in his neck
between his shoulders, like a man dodging a blow. From these signs, I
gathered that all was not exactly for the best; and I would have given
a good handful of dollars for a plain answer to the questions which
I dared not put. Had I dared, with the present danger signal in the
captain's face, I should only have been reminded of my position as
supercargo--an office never touched upon in kindness--and advised, in
a very indigestible manner, to go below. There was nothing for it,
therefore, but to entertain my vague apprehensions as best I should be
able, until it pleased the captain to enlighten me of his own accord.
This he did sooner than I had expected; as soon, indeed, as the Chinaman
had summoned us to breakfast, and we sat face to face across the narrow

"See here, Mr. Dodd," he began, looking at me rather queerly, "here is a
business point arisen. This sea's been running up for the last two days,
and now it's too high for comfort. The glass is falling, the wind is
breezing up, and I won't say but what there's dirt in it. If I lay her
to, we may have to ride out a gale of wind and drift God knows where--on
these French Frigate Shoals, for instance. If I keep her as she goes,
we'll make that island to-morrow afternoon, and have the lee of it to
lie under, if we can't make out to run in. The point you have to figure
on, is whether you'll take the big chances of that Captain Trent making
the place before you, or take the risk of something happening. I'm
to run this ship to your satisfaction," he added, with an ugly sneer.
"Well, here's a point for the supercargo."

"Captain," I returned, with my heart in my mouth, "risk is better than
certain failure."

"Life is all risk, Mr. Dodd," he remarked. "But there's one thing: it's
now or never; in half an hour, Archdeacon Gabriel couldn't lay her to,
if he came down stairs on purpose."

"All right," said I. "Let's run."

"Run goes," said he; and with that he fell to breakfast, and passed half
an hour in stowing away pie and devoutly wishing himself back in San

When we came on deck again, he took the wheel from Johnson--it appears
they could trust none among the hands--and I stood close beside him,
feeling safe in this proximity, and tasting a fearful joy from our
surroundings and the consciousness of my decision. The breeze had
already risen, and as it tore over our heads, it uttered at times a
long hooting note that sent my heart into my boots. The sea pursued
us without remission, leaping to the assault of the low rail. The
quarter-deck was all awash, and we must close the companion doors.

"And all this, if you please, for Mr. Pinkerton's dollars!" the captain
suddenly exclaimed. "There's many a fine fellow gone under, Mr. Dodd,
because of drivers like your friend. What do they care for a ship or
two? Insured, I guess. What do they care for sailors' lives alongside
of a few thousand dollars? What they want is speed between ports, and
a damned fool of a captain that'll drive a ship under as I'm doing this
one. You can put in the morning, asking why I do it."

I sheered off to another part of the vessel as fast as civility
permitted. This was not at all the talk that I desired, nor was the
train of reflection which it started anyway welcome. Here I was, running
some hazard of my life, and perilling the lives of seven others; exactly
for what end, I was now at liberty to ask myself. For a very large
amount of a very deadly poison, was the obvious answer; and I thought
if all tales were true, and I were soon to be subjected to
cross-examination at the bar of Eternal Justice, it was one which would
not increase my popularity with the court. "Well, never mind, Jim,"
thought I. "I'm doing it for you."

Before eleven, a third reef was taken in the mainsail; and Johnson
filled the cabin with a storm-sail of No. 1 duck and sat cross-legged
on the streaming floor, vigorously putting it to rights with a couple of
the hands. By dinner I had fled the deck, and sat in the bench corner,
giddy, dumb, and stupefied with terror. The frightened leaps of the
poor Norah Creina, spanking like a stag for bare existence, bruised me
between the table and the berths. Overhead, the wild huntsman of the
storm passed continuously in one blare of mingled noises; screaming
wind, straining timber, lashing rope's end, pounding block and bursting
sea contributed; and I could have thought there was at times another, a
more piercing, a more human note, that dominated all, like the wailing
of an angel; I could have thought I knew the angel's name, and that his
wings were black. It seemed incredible that any creature of man's art
could long endure the barbarous mishandling of the seas, kicked as the
schooner was from mountain side to mountain side, beaten and blown upon
and wrenched in every joint and sinew, like a child upon the rack. There
was not a plank of her that did not cry aloud for mercy; and as she
continued to hold together, I became conscious of a growing sympathy
with her endeavours, a growing admiration for her gallant staunchness,
that amused and at times obliterated my terrors for myself. God bless
every man that swung a mallet on that tiny and strong hull! It was not
for wages only that he laboured, but to save men's lives.

All the rest of the day, and all the following night, I sat in the
corner or lay wakeful in my bunk; and it was only with the return of
morning that a new phase of my alarms drove me once more on deck. A
gloomier interval I never passed. Johnson and Nares steadily relieved
each other at the wheel and came below. The first glance of each was
at the glass, which he repeatedly knuckled and frowned upon; for it was
sagging lower all the time. Then, if Johnson were the visitor, he would
pick a snack out of the cupboard, and stand, braced against the table,
eating it, and perhaps obliging me with a word or two of his hee-haw
conversation: how it was "a son of a gun of a cold night on deck, Mr.
Dodd" (with a grin); how "it wasn't no night for panjammers, he could
tell me": having transacted all which, he would throw himself down
in his bunk and sleep his two hours with compunction. But the captain
neither ate nor slept. "You there, Mr. Dodd?" he would say, after the
obligatory visit to the glass. "Well, my son, we're one hundred and four
miles" (or whatever it was) "off the island, and scudding for all we're
worth. We'll make it to-morrow about four, or not, as the case may be.
That's the news. And now, Mr. Dodd, I've stretched a point for you;
you can see I'm dead tired; so just you stretch away back to your bunk
again." And with this attempt at geniality, his teeth would settle
hard down on his cigar, and he would pass his spell below staring and
blinking at the cabin lamp through a cloud of tobacco smoke. He has
told me since that he was happy, which I should never have divined. "You
see," he said, "the wind we had was never anything out of the way; but
the sea was really nasty, the schooner wanted a lot of humouring, and
it was clear from the glass that we were close to some dirt. We might
be running out of it, or we might be running right crack into it. Well,
there's always something sublime about a big deal like that; and it kind
of raises a man in his own liking. We're a queer kind of beasts, Mr.

The morning broke with sinister brightness; the air alarmingly
transparent, the sky pure, the rim of the horizon clear and strong
against the heavens. The wind and the wild seas, now vastly swollen,
indefatigably hunted us. I stood on deck, choking with fear; I seemed
to lose all power upon my limbs; my knees were as paper when she plunged
into the murderous valleys; my heart collapsed when some black mountain
fell in avalanche beside her counter, and the water, that was more than
spray, swept round my ankles like a torrent. I was conscious of but
one strong desire, to bear myself decently in my terrors, and whatever
should happen to my life, preserve my character: as the captain said,
we are a queer kind of beasts. Breakfast time came, and I made shift
to swallow some hot tea. Then I must stagger below to take the time,
reading the chronometer with dizzy eyes, and marvelling the while what
value there could be in observations taken in a ship launched (as ours
then was) like a missile among flying seas. The forenoon dragged on in
a grinding monotony of peril; every spoke of the wheel a rash, but an
obliged experiment--rash as a forlorn hope, needful as the leap that
lands a fireman from a burning staircase. Noon was made; the captain
dined on his day's work, and I on watching him; and our place was
entered on the chart with a meticulous precision which seemed to me
half pitiful and half absurd, since the next eye to behold that sheet of
paper might be the eye of an exploring fish. One o'clock came, then two;
the captain gloomed and chafed, as he held to the coaming of the house,
and if ever I saw dormant murder in man's eye, it was in his. God help
the hand that should have disobeyed him.

Of a sudden, he turned towards the mate, who was doing his trick at the

"Two points on the port bow," I heard him say. And he took the wheel

Johnson nodded, wiped his eyes with the back of his wet hand, watched a
chance as the vessel lunged up hill, and got to the main rigging, where
he swarmed aloft. Up and up, I watched him go, hanging on at every
ugly plunge, gaining with every lull of the schooner's movement, until,
clambering into the cross-trees and clinging with one arm around the
masts, I could see him take one comprehensive sweep of the southwesterly
horizon. The next moment, he had slid down the backstay and stood on
deck, with a grin, a nod, and a gesture of the finger that said "yes";
the next again, and he was back sweating and squirming at the wheel, his
tired face streaming and smiling, and his hair and the rags and corners
of his clothes lashing round him in the wind.

Nares went below, fetched up his binocular, and fell into a silent
perusal of the sea-line; I also, with my unaided eyesight. Little by
little, in that white waste of water, I began to make out a quarter
where the whiteness appeared more condensed: the sky above was whitish
likewise, and misty like a squall; and little by little there thrilled
upon my ears a note deeper and more terrible than the yelling of the
gale--the long, thundering roll of breakers. Nares wiped his night glass
on his sleeve and passed it to me, motioning, as he did so, with his
hand. An endless wilderness of raging billows came and went and danced
in the circle of the glass; now and then a pale corner of sky, or the
strong line of the horizon rugged with the heads of waves; and then of
a sudden--come and gone ere I could fix it, with a swallow's
swiftness--one glimpse of what we had come so far and paid so dear to
see: the masts and rigging of a brig pencilled on heaven, with an ensign
streaming at the main, and the ragged ribbons of a topsail thrashing
from the yard. Again and again, with toilful searching, I recalled that
apparition. There was no sign of any land; the wreck stood between sea
and sky, a thing the most isolated I had ever viewed; but as we drew
nearer, I perceived her to be defended by a line of breakers which drew
off on either hand, and marked, indeed, the nearest segment of the reef.
Heavy spray hung over them like a smoke, some hundred feet into the air;
and the sound of their consecutive explosions rolled like a cannonade.

In half an hour we were close in; for perhaps as long again, we skirted
that formidable barrier toward its farther side; and presently the sea
began insensibly to moderate and the ship to go more sweetly. We had
gained the lee of the island as (for form's sake) I may call that ring
of foam and haze and thunder; and shaking out a reef, wore ship and
headed for the passage.






All hands were filled with joy. It was betrayed in their alacrity and
easy faces: Johnson smiling broadly at the wheel, Nares studying the
sketch chart of the island with an eye at peace, and the hands clustered
forward, eagerly talking and pointing: so manifest was our escape, so
wonderful the attraction of a single foot of earth after so many suns
had set and risen on an empty sea. To add to the relief, besides, by one
of those malicious coincidences which suggest for fate the image of an
underbred and grinning schoolboy, we had no sooner worn ship than the
wind began to abate.

For myself, however, I did but exchange anxieties. I was no sooner out
of one fear than I fell upon another; no sooner secure that I should
myself make the intended haven, than I began to be convinced that Trent
was there before me. I climbed into the rigging, stood on the board, and
eagerly scanned that ring of coral reef and bursting breaker, and the
blue lagoon which they enclosed. The two islets within began to show
plainly--Middle Brooks and Lower Brooks Island, the Directory named
them: two low, bush-covered, rolling strips of sand, each with
glittering beaches, each perhaps a mile or a mile and a half in length,
running east and west, and divided by a narrow channel. Over these,
innumerable as maggots, there hovered, chattered, screamed and clanged,
millions of twinkling sea-birds: white and black; the black by far the
largest. With singular scintillations, this vortex of winged life swayed
to and fro in the strong sunshine, whirled continually through itself,
and would now and again burst asunder and scatter as wide as the lagoon:
so that I was irresistibly reminded of what I had read of nebular
convulsions. A thin cloud overspread the area of the reef and the
adjacent sea--the dust, as I could not but fancy, of earlier explosions.
And a little apart, there was yet another focus of centrifugal and
centripetal flight, where, hard by the deafening line of breakers, her
sails (all but the tattered topsail) snugly furled down, and the red rag
that marks Old England on the seas beating, union down, at the main--the
Flying Scud, the fruit of so many toilers, a recollection in so many
lives of men, whose tall spars had been mirrored in the remotest corners
of the sea--lay stationary at last and forever, in the first stage of
naval dissolution. Towards her, the taut Norah Creina, vulture-wise,
wriggled to windward: come from so far to pick her bones. And, look as
I pleased, there was no other presence of man or of man's handiwork;
no Honolulu schooner lay there crowded with armed rivals, no smoke rose
from the fire at which I fancied Trent cooking a meal of sea-birds. It
seemed, after all, we were in time, and I drew a mighty breath.

I had not arrived at this reviving certainty before the breakers were
already close aboard, the leadsman at his station, and the captain
posted in the fore cross-trees to con us through the coral lumps of the
lagoon. All circumstances were in our favour, the light behind, the sun
low, the wind still fresh and steady, and the tide about the turn. A
moment later we shot at racing speed betwixt two pier heads of broken
water; the lead began to be cast, the captain to bawl down his anxious
directions, the schooner to tack and dodge among the scattered dangers
of the lagoon; and at one bell in the first dog watch, we had come
to our anchor off the north-east end of Middle Brooks Island, in five
fathoms water. The sails were gasketted and covered, the boats emptied
of the miscellaneous stores and odds and ends of sea-furniture, that
accumulate in the course of a voyage, the kedge sent ashore, and the
decks tidied down: a good three-quarters of an hour's work, during
which I raged about the deck like a man with a strong toothache. The
transition from the wild sea to the comparative immobility of the lagoon
had wrought strange distress among my nerves: I could not hold still
whether in hand or foot; the slowness of the men, tired as dogs after
our rough experience outside, irritated me like something personal; and
the irrational screaming of the sea-birds saddened me like a dirge. It
was a relief when, with Nares, and a couple of hands, I might drop into
the boat and move off at last for the Flying Scud.

"She looks kind of pitiful, don't she?" observed the captain, nodding
towards the wreck, from which we were separated by some half a mile.
"Looks as if she didn't like her berth, and Captain Trent had used her
badly. Give her ginger, boys!" he added to the hands, "and you can all
have shore liberty to-night to see the birds and paint the town red."

We all laughed at the pleasantry, and the boat skimmed the faster over
the rippling face of the lagoon. The Flying Scud would have seemed small
enough beside the wharves of San Francisco, but she was some thrice the
size of the Norah Creina, which had been so long our continent; and
as we craned up at her wall-sides, she impressed us with a mountain
magnitude. She lay head to the reef, where the huge blue wall of the
rollers was for ever ranging up and crumbling down; and to gain her
starboard side, we must pass below the stern. The rudder was hard aport,
and we could read the legend:



On the other side, about the break of the poop, some half a fathom of
rope ladder trailed over the rail, and by this we made our entrance.

She was a roomy ship inside, with a raised poop standing some three feet
higher than the deck, and a small forward house, for the men's bunks and
the galley, just abaft the foremast. There was one boat on the house,
and another and larger one, in beds on deck, on either hand of it. She
had been painted white, with tropical economy, outside and in; and we
found, later on, that the stanchions of the rail, hoops of the scuttle
but, etc., were picked out with green. At that time, however, when we
first stepped aboard, all was hidden under the droppings of innumerable

The birds themselves gyrated and screamed meanwhile among the rigging;
and when we looked into the galley, their outrush drove us back.
Savage-looking fowl they were, savagely beaked, and some of the black
ones great as eagles. Half-buried in the slush, we were aware of a
litter of kegs in the waist; and these, on being somewhat cleaned,
proved to be water beakers and quarter casks of mess beef with some
colonial brand, doubtless collected there before the Tempest hove in
sight, and while Trent and his men had no better expectation than to
strike for Honolulu in the boats. Nothing else was notable on deck,
save where the loose topsail had played some havoc with the rigging,
and there hung, and swayed, and sang in the declining wind, a raffle of
intorted cordage.

With a shyness that was almost awe, Nares and I descended the companion.
The stair turned upon itself and landed us just forward of a thwart-ship
bulkhead that cut the poop in two. The fore part formed a kind of
miscellaneous store-room, with a double-bunked division for the cook (as
Nares supposed) and second mate. The after part contained, in the midst,
the main cabin, running in a kind of bow into the curvature of the
stern; on the port side, a pantry opening forward and a stateroom for
the mate; and on the starboard, the captain's berth and water-closet.
Into these we did but glance: the main cabin holding us. It was dark,
for the sea-birds had obscured the skylight with their droppings; it
smelt rank and fusty; and it was beset with a loud swarm of flies that
beat continually in our faces. Supposing them close attendants upon man
and his broken meat, I marvelled how they had found their way to Midway
reef; it was sure at least some vessel must have brought them, and that
long ago, for they had multiplied exceedingly. Part of the floor was
strewn with a confusion of clothes, books, nautical instruments, odds
and ends of finery, and such trash as might be expected from the turning
out of several seamen's chests, upon a sudden emergency and after a
long cruise. It was strange in that dim cabin, quivering with the near
thunder of the breakers and pierced with the screaming of the fowls,
to turn over so many things that other men had coveted, and prized, and
worn on their warm bodies--frayed old underclothing, pyjamas of strange
design, duck suits in every stage of rustiness, oil skins, pilot coats,
bottles of scent, embroidered shirts, jackets of Ponjee silk--clothes
for the night watch at sea or the day ashore in the hotel verandah; and
mingled among these, books, cigars, fancy pipes, quantities of
tobacco, many keys, a rusty pistol, and a sprinkling of cheap
curiosities--Benares brass, Chinese jars and pictures, and bottles
of odd shells in cotton, each designed no doubt for somebody at
home--perhaps in Hull, of which Trent had been a native and his ship a

Thence we turned our attention to the table, which stood spread, as if
for a meal, with stout ship's crockery and the remains of food--a pot of
marmalade, dregs of coffee in the mugs, unrecognisable remains of
foods, bread, some toast, and a tin of condensed milk. The table-cloth,
originally of a red colour, was stained a dark brown at the captain's
end, apparently with coffee; at the other end, it had been folded back,
and a pen and ink-pot stood on the bare table. Stools were here and
there about the table, irregularly placed, as though the meal had been
finished and the men smoking and chatting; and one of the stools lay on
the floor, broken.

"See! they were writing up the log," said Nares, pointing to the
ink-bottle. "Caught napping, as usual. I wonder if there ever was a
captain yet, that lost a ship with his log-book up to date? He generally
has about a month to fill up on a clean break, like Charles Dickens
and his serial novels.--What a regular, lime-juicer spread!" he added
contemptuously. "Marmalade--and toast for the old man! Nasty, slovenly

There was something in this criticism of the absent that jarred upon my
feelings. I had no love indeed for Captain Trent or any of his vanished
gang; but the desertion and decay of this once habitable cabin struck me
hard: the death of man's handiwork is melancholy like the death of man
himself; and I was impressed with an involuntary and irrational sense of
tragedy in my surroundings.

"This sickens me," I said. "Let's go on deck and breathe."

The captain nodded. "It IS kind of lonely, isn't it?" he said. "But I
can't go up till I get the code signals. I want to run up 'Got Left' or
something, just to brighten up this island home. Captain Trent hasn't
been here yet, but he'll drop in before long; and it'll cheer him up to
see a signal on the brig."

"Isn't there some official expression we could use?" I asked, vastly
taken by the fancy. "'Sold for the benefit of the underwriters: for
further particulars, apply to J. Pinkerton, Montana Block, S.F.'"

"Well," returned Nares, "I won't say but what an old navy quartermaster
might telegraph all that, if you gave him a day to do it in and a pound
of tobacco for himself. But it's above my register. I must try something
short and sweet: KB, urgent signal, 'Heave all aback'; or LM, urgent,
'The berth you're now in is not safe'; or what do you say to PQH?--'Tell
my owners the ship answers remarkably well.'"

"It's premature," I replied; "but it seems calculated to give pain to
Trent. PQH for me."

The flags were found in Trent's cabin, neatly stored behind a lettered
grating; Nares chose what he required and (I following) returned on
deck, where the sun had already dipped, and the dusk was coming.

"Here! don't touch that, you fool!" shouted the captain to one of the
hands, who was drinking from the scuttle but. "That water's rotten!"

"Beg pardon, sir," replied the man. "Tastes quite sweet."

"Let me see," returned Nares, and he took the dipper and held it to his
lips. "Yes, it's all right," he said. "Must have rotted and come sweet
again. Queer, isn't it, Mr. Dodd? Though I've known the same on a Cape

There was something in his intonation that made me look him in the face;
he stood a little on tiptoe to look right and left about the ship,
like a man filled with curiosity, and his whole expression and bearing
testified to some suppressed excitement.

"You don't believe what you're saying!" I broke out.

"O, I don't know but what I do!" he replied, laying a hand upon me
soothingly. "The thing's very possible. Only, I'm bothered about
something else."

And with that he called a hand, gave him the code flags, and stepped
himself to the main signal halliards, which vibrated under the weight of
the ensign overhead. A minute later, the American colours, which we had
brought in the boat, replaced the English red, and PQH was fluttering at
the fore.

"Now, then," said Nares, who had watched the breaking out of his signal
with the old-maidish particularity of an American sailor, "out with
those handspikes, and let's see what water there is in the lagoon."

The bars were shoved home; the barbarous cacophony of the clanking pump
rose in the waist; and streams of ill-smelling water gushed on deck and
made valleys in the slab guano. Nares leaned on the rail, watching the
steady stream of bilge as though he found some interest in it.


"What is it that bothers you?" I asked.

"Well, I'll tell you one thing shortly," he replied. "But here's
another. Do you see those boats there, one on the house and two on the
beds? Well, where is the boat Trent lowered when he lost the hands?"

"Got it aboard again, I suppose," said I.

"Well, if you'll tell me why!" returned the captain.

"Then it must have been another," I suggested.

"She might have carried another on the main hatch, I won't deny,"
admitted Nares; "but I can't see what she wanted with it, unless it
was for the old man to go out and play the accordion in, on moonlight

"It can't much matter, anyway," I reflected.

"O, I don't suppose it does," said he, glancing over his shoulder at the
spouting of the scuppers.

"And how long are we to keep up this racket?" I asked. "We're simply
pumping up the lagoon. Captain Trent himself said she had settled down
and was full forward."

"Did he?" said Nares, with a significant dryness. And almost as he spoke
the pumps sucked, and sucked again, and the men threw down their bars.
"There, what do you make of that?" he asked. "Now, I'll tell, Mr. Dodd,"
he went on, lowering his voice, but not shifting from his easy attitude
against the rail, "this ship is as sound as the Norah Creina. I had a
guess of it before we came aboard, and now I know."

"It's not possible!" I cried. "What do you make of Trent?"

"I don't make anything of Trent; I don't know whether he's a liar or
only an old wife; I simply tell you what's the fact," said Nares. "And
I'll tell you something more," he added: "I've taken the ground myself
in deep-water vessels; I know what I'm saying; and I say that, when
she first struck and before she bedded down, seven or eight hours' work
would have got this hooker off, and there's no man that ever went two
years to sea but must have known it."


I could only utter an exclamation.

Nares raised his finger warningly. "Don't let THEM get hold of it," said
he. "Think what you like, but say nothing."

I glanced round; the dusk was melting into early night; the twinkle of
a lantern marked the schooner's position in the distance; and our men,
free from further labour, stood grouped together in the waist, their
faces illuminated by their glowing pipes.

"Why didn't Trent get her off?" inquired the captain. "Why did he want
to buy her back in 'Frisco for these fabulous sums, when he might have
sailed her into the bay himself?"

"Perhaps he never knew her value until then," I suggested.

"I wish we knew her value now," exclaimed Nares. "However, I don't want
to depress you; I'm sorry for you, Mr. Dodd; I know how bothering it
must be to you; and the best I can say's this: I haven't taken much
time getting down, and now I'm here I mean to work this thing in proper
style. I just want to put your mind at rest: you shall have no trouble
with me."

There was something trusty and friendly in his voice; and I found myself
gripping hands with him, in that hard, short shake that means so much
with English-speaking people.

"We'll do, old fellow," said he. "We've shaken down into pretty good
friends, you and me; and you won't find me working the business any the
less hard for that. And now let's scoot for supper."

After supper, with the idle curiosity of the seafarer, we pulled ashore
in a fine moonlight, and landed on Middle Brook's Island. A flat beach
surrounded it upon all sides; and the midst was occupied by a thicket
of bushes, the highest of them scarcely five feet high, in which the
sea-fowl lived. Through this we tried at first to strike; but it were
easier to cross Trafalgar Square on a day of demonstration than to
invade these haunts of sleeping sea-birds. The nests sank, and the eggs
burst under footing; wings beat in our faces, beaks menaced our eyes,
our minds were confounded with the screeching, and the coil spread over
the island and mounted high into the air.


"I guess we'll saunter round the beach," said Nares, when we had made
good our retreat.

The hands were all busy after sea-birds' eggs, so there were none to
follow us. Our way lay on the crisp sand by the margin of the water: on
one side, the thicket from which we had been dislodged; on the other,
the face of the lagoon, barred with a broad path of moonlight, and
beyond that, the line, alternately dark and shining, alternately hove
high and fallen prone, of the external breakers. The beach was strewn
with bits of wreck and drift: some redwood and spruce logs, no less than
two lower masts of junks, and the stern-post of a European ship; all
of which we looked on with a shade of serious concern, speaking of the
dangers of the sea and the hard case of castaways. In this sober vein we
made the greater part of the circuit of the island; had a near view
of its neighbour from the southern end; walked the whole length of the
westerly side in the shadow of the thicket; and came forth again into
the moonlight at the opposite extremity.

On our right, at the distance of about half a mile, the schooner lay
faintly heaving at her anchors. About half a mile down the beach, at
a spot still hidden from us by the thicket, an upboiling of the birds
showed where the men were still (with sailor-like insatiability)
collecting eggs. And right before us, in a small indentation of the
sand, we were aware of a boat lying high and dry, and right side up.

Nares crouched back into the shadow of the bushes.

"What the devil's this?" he whispered.

"Trent," I suggested, with a beating heart.

"We were damned fools to come ashore unarmed," said he. "But I've got to
know where I stand." In the shadow, his face looked conspicuously white,
and his voice betrayed a strong excitement. He took his boat's whistle
from his pocket. "In case I might want to play a tune," said he, grimly,
and thrusting it between his teeth, advanced into the moonlit open;
which we crossed with rapid steps, looking guiltily about us as we
went. Not a leaf stirred; and the boat, when we came up to it, offered
convincing proof of long desertion. She was an eighteen-foot whaleboat
of the ordinary type, equipped with oars and thole-pins. Two or three
quarter-casks lay on the bilge amidships, one of which must have been
broached, and now stank horribly; and these, upon examination, proved to
bear the same New Zealand brand as the beef on board the wreck.

"Well, here's the boat," said I; "here's one of your difficulties
cleared away."

"H'm," said he. There was a little water in the bilge, and here he
stooped and tasted it.

"Fresh," he said. "Only rain-water."

"You don't object to that?" I asked.

"No," said he.

"Well, then, what ails you?" I cried.

"In plain United States, Mr. Dodd," he returned, "a whaleboat, five ash
sweeps, and a barrel of stinking pork."

"Or, in other words, the whole thing?" I commented.

"Well, it's this way," he condescended to explain. "I've no use for a
fourth boat at all; but a boat of this model tops the business. I don't
say the type's not common in these waters; it's as common as dirt; the
traders carry them for surf-boats. But the Flying Scud? a deep-water
tramp, who was lime-juicing around between big ports, Calcutta and
Rangoon and 'Frisco and the Canton River? No, I don't see it."

We were leaning over the gunwale of the boat as we spoke. The captain
stood nearest the bow, and he was idly playing with the trailing
painter, when a thought arrested him. He hauled the line in hand over
hand, and stared, and remained staring, at the end.

"Anything wrong with it?" I asked.

"Do you know, Mr. Dodd," said he, in a queer voice, "this painter's been
cut? A sailor always seizes a rope's end, but this is sliced short off
with the cold steel. This won't do at all for the men," he added. "Just
stand by till I fix it up more natural."

"Any guess what it all means?" I asked.

"Well, it means one thing," said he. "It means Trent was a liar. I guess
the story of the Flying Scud was a sight more picturesque than he gave

Half an hour later, the whaleboat was lying astern of the Norah Creina;
and Nares and I sought our bunks, silent and half-bewildered by our late






The sun of the morrow had not cleared the morning bank: the lake of the
lagoon, the islets, and the wall of breakers now beginning to subside,
still lay clearly pictured in the flushed obscurity of early day, when
we stepped again upon the deck of the Flying Scud: Nares, myself,
the mate, two of the hands, and one dozen bright, virgin axes, in war
against that massive structure. I think we all drew pleasurable breath;
so profound in man is the instinct of destruction, so engaging is the
interest of the chase. For we were now about to taste, in a supreme
degree, the double joys of demolishing a toy and playing "Hide the
handkerchief": sports from which we had all perhaps desisted since the
days of infancy. And the toy we were to burst in pieces was a deep-sea
ship; and the hidden good for which we were to hunt was a prodigious

The decks were washed down, the main hatch removed, and a gun-tackle
purchase rigged before the boat arrived with breakfast. I had grown so
suspicious of the wreck, that it was a positive relief to me to look
down into the hold, and see it full, or nearly full, of undeniable rice
packed in the Chinese fashion in boluses of matting. Breakfast over,
Johnson and the hands turned to upon the cargo; while Nares and I,
having smashed open the skylight and rigged up a windsail on deck, began
the work of rummaging the cabins.

I must not be expected to describe our first day's work, or (for that
matter) any of the rest, in order and detail as it occurred. Such
particularity might have been possible for several officers and a draft
of men from a ship of war, accompanied by an experienced secretary with
a knowledge of shorthand. For two plain human beings, unaccustomed to
the use of the broad-axe and consumed with an impatient greed of the
result, the whole business melts, in the retrospect, into a nightmare
of exertion, heat, hurry, and bewilderment; sweat pouring from the face
like rain, the scurry of rats, the choking exhalations of the bilge, and
the throbs and splinterings of the toiling axes. I shall content myself
with giving the cream of our discoveries in a logical rather than a
temporal order; though the two indeed practically coincided, and we had
finished our exploration of the cabin, before we could be certain of the
nature of the cargo.

Nares and I began operations by tossing up pell-mell through the
companion, and piling in a squalid heap about the wheel, all clothes,
personal effects, the crockery, the carpet, stale victuals, tins of
meat, and in a word, all movables from the main cabin. Thence, we
transferred our attention to the captain's quarters on the starboard
side. Using the blankets for a basket, we sent up the books,
instruments, and clothes to swell our growing midden on the deck; and
then Nares, going on hands and knees, began to forage underneath
the bed. Box after box of Manilla cigars rewarded his search. I took
occasion to smash some of these boxes open, and even to guillotine
the bundles of cigars; but quite in vain--no secret cache of opium
encouraged me to continue.

"I guess I've got hold of the dicky now!" exclaimed Nares, and turning
round from my perquisitions, I found he had drawn forth a heavy iron
box, secured to the bulkhead by chain and padlock. On this he was now
gazing, not with the triumph that instantly inflamed my own bosom, but
with a somewhat foolish appearance of surprise.

"By George, we have it now!" I cried, and would have shaken hands with
my companion; but he did not see, or would not accept, the salutation.

"Let's see what's in it first," he remarked dryly. And he adjusted the
box upon its side, and with some blows of an axe burst the lock open.
I threw myself beside him, as he replaced the box on its bottom and
removed the lid. I cannot tell what I expected; a million's worth of
diamonds might perhaps have pleased me; my cheeks burned, my heart
throbbed to bursting; and lo! there was disclosed but a trayful of
papers, neatly taped, and a cheque-book of the customary pattern. I made
a snatch at the tray to see what was beneath; but the captain's hand
fell on mine, heavy and hard.

"Now, boss!" he cried, not unkindly, "is this to be run shipshape? or is
it a Dutch grab-racket?"

And he proceeded to untie and run over the contents of the papers,
with a serious face and what seemed an ostentation of delay. Me and my
impatience it would appear he had forgotten; for when he was quite done,
he sat a while thinking, whistled a bar or two, refolded the papers,
tied them up again; and then, and not before, deliberately raised the

I saw a cigar-box, tied with a piece of fishing-line, and four fat
canvas-bags. Nares whipped out his knife, cut the line, and opened the
box. It was about half full of sovereigns.

"And the bags?" I whispered.

The captain ripped them open one by one, and a flood of mixed silver
coin burst forth and rattled in the rusty bottom of the box. Without a
word, he set to work to count the gold.

"What is this?" I asked.

"It's the ship's money," he returned, doggedly continuing his work.

"The ship's money?" I repeated. "That's the money Trent tramped and
traded with? And there's his cheque-book to draw upon his owners? And he
has left it?"

"I guess he has," said Nares, austerely, jotting down a note of the
gold; and I was abashed into silence till his task should be completed.

It came, I think, to three hundred and seventy-eight pounds sterling;
some nineteen pounds of it in silver: all of which we turned again into
the chest.

"And what do you think of that?" I asked.

"Mr. Dodd," he replied, "you see something of the rumness of this job,
but not the whole. The specie bothers you, but what gets me is the
papers. Are you aware that the master of a ship has charge of all the
cash in hand, pays the men advances, receives freight and passage
money, and runs up bills in every port? All this he does as the owner's
confidential agent, and his integrity is proved by his receipted bills.
I tell you, the captain of a ship is more likely to forget his pants
than these bills which guarantee his character. I've known men drown to
save them: bad men, too; but this is the shipmaster's honour. And here
this Captain Trent--not hurried, not threatened with anything but a free
passage in a British man-of-war--has left them all behind! I don't want
to express myself too strongly, because the facts appear against me, but
the thing is impossible."

Dinner came to us not long after, and we ate it on deck, in a grim
silence, each privately racking his brain for some solution of the
mysteries. I was indeed so swallowed up in these considerations, that
the wreck, the lagoon, the islets, and the strident sea-fowl, the strong
sun then beating on my head, and even the gloomy countenance of the
captain at my elbow, all vanished from the field of consciousness. My
mind was a blackboard, on which I scrawled and blotted out hypotheses;
comparing each with the pictorial records in my memory: cyphering with
pictures. In the course of this tense mental exercise I recalled and
studied the faces of one memorial masterpiece, the scene of the saloon;
and here I found myself, on a sudden, looking in the eyes of the Kanaka.

"There's one thing I can put beyond doubt, at all events," I cried,
relinquishing my dinner and getting briskly afoot. "There was that
Kanaka I saw in the bar with Captain Trent, the fellow the newspapers
and ship's articles made out to be a Chinaman. I mean to rout his
quarters out and settle that."

"All right," said Nares. "I'll lazy off a bit longer, Mr. Dodd; I feel
pretty rocky and mean."

We had thoroughly cleared out the three after-compartments of the ship:
all the stuff from the main cabin and the mate's and captain's quarters
lay piled about the wheel; but in the forward stateroom with the two
bunks, where Nares had said the mate and cook most likely berthed,
we had as yet done nothing. Thither I went. It was very bare; a few
photographs were tacked on the bulkhead, one of them indecent; a single
chest stood open, and, like all we had yet found, it had been partly
rifled. An armful of two-shilling novels proved to me beyond a doubt
it was a European's; no Chinaman would have possessed any, and the most
literate Kanaka conceivable in a ship's galley was not likely to have
gone beyond one. It was plain, then, that the cook had not berthed aft,
and I must look elsewhere.

The men had stamped down the nests and driven the birds from the galley,
so that I could now enter without contest. One door had been already
blocked with rice; the place was in part darkness, full of a foul stale
smell, and a cloud of nasty flies; it had been left, besides, in some
disorder, or else the birds, during their time of tenancy, had knocked
the things about; and the floor, like the deck before we washed it, was
spread with pasty filth. Against the wall, in the far corner, I found
a handsome chest of camphor-wood bound with brass, such as Chinamen and
sailors love, and indeed all of mankind that plies in the Pacific. From
its outside view I could thus make no deduction; and, strange to
say, the interior was concealed. All the other chests, as I have said
already, we had found gaping open, and their contents scattered abroad;
the same remark we found to apply afterwards in the quarters of the
seamen; only this camphor-wood chest, a singular exception, was both
closed and locked.

I took an axe to it, readily forced the paltry Chinese fastening, and,
like a Custom-House officer, plunged my hands among the contents. For
some while I groped among linen and cotton. Then my teeth were set
on edge with silk, of which I drew forth several strips covered with
mysterious characters. And these settled the business, for I recognised
them as a kind of bed-hanging popular with the commoner class of the
Chinese. Nor were further evidences wanting, such as night-clothes of
an extraordinary design, a three-stringed Chinese fiddle, a silk
handkerchief full of roots and herbs, and a neat apparatus for smoking
opium, with a liberal provision of the drug. Plainly, then, the cook had
been a Chinaman; and, if so, who was Jos. Amalu? Or had Jos. stolen the
chest before he proceeded to ship under a false name and domicile? It
was possible, as anything was possible in such a welter; but, regarded
as a solution, it only led and left me deeper in the bog. For why
should this chest have been deserted and neglected, when the others were
rummaged or removed? and where had Jos. come by that second chest, with
which (according to the clerk at the What Cheer) he had started for


"And how have YOU fared?" inquired the captain, whom I found luxuriously
reclining in our mound of litter. And the accent on the pronoun, the
heightened colour of the speaker's face, and the contained excitement
in his tones, advertised me at once that I had not been alone to make

"I have found a Chinaman's chest in the galley," said I, "and John (if
there was any John) was not so much as at the pains to take his opium."

Nares seemed to take it mighty quietly. "That so?" said he. "Now, cast
your eyes on that and own you're beaten!" And with a formidable clap
of his open hand he flattened out before me, on the deck, a pair of

I gazed upon them dully, being in no mood for fresh discoveries.

"Look at them, Mr. Dodd," cried the captain sharply. "Can't you look
at them?" And he ran a dirty thumb along the title. "'_Sydney Morning
Herald_, November 26th,' can't you make that out?" he cried, with rising
energy. "And don't you know, sir, that not thirteen days after this
paper appeared in New South Pole, this ship we're standing in heaved her
blessed anchors out of China? How did the _Sydney Morning Herald_ get to
Hong Kong in thirteen days? Trent made no land, he spoke no ship, till
he got here. Then he either got it here or in Hong Kong. I give you your
choice, my son!" he cried, and fell back among the clothes like a man
weary of life.

"Where did you find them?" I asked. "In that black bag?"

"Guess so," he said. "You needn't fool with it. There's nothing else but
a lead-pencil and a kind of worked-out knife."

I looked in the bag, however, and was well rewarded.

"Every man to his trade, captain," said I. "You're a sailor, and you've
given me plenty of points; but I am an artist, and allow me to
inform you this is quite as strange as all the rest. The knife is a
palette-knife; the pencil a Winsor and Newton, and a B B B at that.
A palette-knife and a B B B on a tramp brig! It's against the laws of

"It would sicken a dog, wouldn't it?" said Nares.

"Yes," I continued, "it's been used by an artist, too: see how it's
sharpened--not for writing--no man could write with that. An artist, and
straight from Sydney? How can he come in?"

"O, that's natural enough," sneered Nares. "They cabled him to come up
and illustrate this dime novel."

We fell a while silent.

"Captain," I said at last, "there is something deuced underhand about
this brig. You tell me you've been to sea a good part of your life. You
must have seen shady things done on ships, and heard of more. Well, what
is this? is it insurance? is it piracy? what is it ABOUT? what can it be

"Mr. Dodd," returned Nares, "you're right about me having been to sea
the bigger part of my life. And you're right again when you think I know
a good many ways in which a dishonest captain mayn't be on the square,
nor do exactly the right thing by his owners, and altogether be just a
little too smart by ninety-nine and three-quarters. There's a good many
ways, but not so many as you'd think; and not one that has any mortal
thing to do with Trent. Trent and his whole racket has got to do with
nothing--that's the bed-rock fact; there's no sense to it, and no use
in it, and no story to it: it's a beastly dream. And don't you run away
with that notion that landsmen take about ships. A society actress don't
go around more publicly than what a ship does, nor is more interviewed,
nor more humbugged, nor more run after by all sorts of little
fussinesses in brass buttons. And more than an actress, a ship has a
deal to lose; she's capital, and the actress only character--if she's
that. The ports of the world are thick with people ready to kick a
captain into the penitentiary if he's not as bright as a dollar and as
honest as the morning star; and what with Lloyd keeping watch and watch
in every corner of the three oceans, and the insurance leeches, and the
consuls, and the customs bugs, and the medicos, you can only get
the idea by thinking of a landsman watched by a hundred and fifty
detectives, or a stranger in a village Down East."

"Well, but at sea?" I said.

"You make me tired," retorted the captain. "What's the use--at sea?
Everything's got to come to bearings at some port, hasn't it? You can't
stop at sea for ever, can you?--No; the Flying Scud is rubbish; if it
meant anything, it would have to mean something so almighty intricate
that James G. Blaine hasn't got the brains to engineer it; and I vote
for more axeing, pioneering, and opening up the resources of this
phenomenal brig, and less general fuss," he added, arising. "The
dime-museum symptoms will drop in of themselves, I guess, to keep us

But it appeared we were at the end of discoveries for the day; and we
left the brig about sundown, without being further puzzled or further
enlightened. The best of the cabin spoils--books, instruments, papers,
silks, and curiosities--we carried along with us in a blanket, however,
to divert the evening hours; and when supper was over, and the table
cleared, and Johnson set down to a dreary game of cribbage between his
right hand and his left, the captain and I turned out our blanket on the
floor, and sat side by side to examine and appraise the spoils.

The books were the first to engage our notice. These were rather
numerous (as Nares contemptuously put it) "for a lime-juicer." Scorn
of the British mercantile marine glows in the breast of every Yankee
merchant captain; as the scorn is not reciprocated, I can only suppose
it justified in fact; and certainly the old country mariner appears of a
less studious disposition. The more credit to the officers of the Flying
Scud, who had quite a library, both literary and professional. There
were Findlay's five directories of the world--all broken-backed, as is
usual with Findlay, and all marked and scribbled over with corrections
and additions--several books of navigation, a signal code, and an
Admiralty book of a sort of orange hue, called _Islands of the Eastern
Pacific Ocean, Vol. III._, which appeared from its imprint to be the
latest authority, and showed marks of frequent consultation in the
passages about the French Frigate Shoals, the Harman, Cure, Pearl, and
Hermes reefs, Lisiansky Island, Ocean Island, and the place where
we then lay--Brooks or Midway. A volume of Macaulay's _Essays_ and a
shilling Shakespeare led the van of the belles lettres; the rest were
novels: several Miss Braddons--of course, _Aurora Floyd_, which has
penetrated to every isle of the Pacific, a good many cheap detective
books, _Rob Roy_, Auerbach's _Auf der Hohe_ in the German, and a prize
temperance story, pillaged (to judge by the stamp) from an Anglo-Indian
circulating library.

"The Admiralty man gives a fine picture of our island," remarked Nares,
who had turned up Midway Island. "He draws the dreariness rather mild,
but you can make out he knows the place."

"Captain," I cried, "you've struck another point in this mad business.
See here," I went on eagerly, drawing from my pocket a crumpled fragment
of the _Daily Occidental_ which I had inherited from Jim: "'misled by
Hoyt's Pacific Directory'? Where's Hoyt?"

"Let's look into that," said Nares. "I got that book on purpose for this
cruise." Therewith he fetched it from the shelf in his berth, turned to
Midway Island, and read the account aloud. It stated with precision that
the Pacific Mail Company were about to form a depot there, in preference
to Honolulu, and that they had already a station on the island.

"I wonder who gives these Directory men their information," Nares
reflected. "Nobody can blame Trent after that. I never got in company
with squarer lying; it reminds a man of a presidential campaign."

"All very well," said I. "That's your Hoyt, and a fine, tall copy. But
what I want to know is, where is Trent's Hoyt?"

"Took it with him," chuckled Nares. "He had left everything else, bills
and money and all the rest; he was bound to take something, or it would
have aroused attention on the Tempest: 'Happy thought,' says he, 'let's
take Hoyt.'"

"And has it not occurred to you," I went on, "that all the Hoyts in
creation couldn't have misled Trent, since he had in his hand that red
admiralty book, an official publication, later in date, and particularly
full on Midway Island?"

"That's a fact!" cried Nares; "and I bet the first Hoyt he ever saw
was out of the mercantile library of San Francisco. Looks as if he had
brought her here on purpose, don't it? But then that's inconsistent with
the steam-crusher of the sale. That's the trouble with this brig racket;
any one can make half a dozen theories for sixty or seventy per cent
of it; but when they're made, there's always a fathom or two of slack
hanging out of the other end."

I believe our attention fell next on the papers, of which we had
altogether a considerable bulk. I had hoped to find among these matter
for a full-length character of Captain Trent; but here I was doomed, on
the whole, to disappointment. We could make out he was an orderly man,
for all his bills were docketed and preserved. That he was convivial,
and inclined to be frugal even in conviviality, several documents
proclaimed. Such letters as we found were, with one exception, arid
notes from tradesmen. The exception, signed Hannah Trent, was a somewhat
fervid appeal for a loan. "You know what misfortunes I have had to
bear," wrote Hannah, "and how much I am disappointed in George. The
landlady appeared a true friend when I first came here, and I thought
her a perfect lady. But she has come out since then in her true colours;
and if you will not be softened by this last appeal, I can't think what
is to become of your affectionate----" and then the signature. This
document was without place or date, and a voice told me that it had gone
likewise without answer. On the whole, there were few letters anywhere
in the ship; but we found one before we were finished, in a seaman's
chest, of which I must transcribe some sentences. It was dated from some
place on the Clyde. "My dearist son," it ran, "this is to tell you your
dearist father passed away, Jan twelft, in the peace of the Lord. He had
your photo and dear David's lade upon his bed, made me sit by him.
Let's be a' thegither, he said, and gave you all his blessing. O my dear
laddie, why were nae you and Davie here? He would have had a happier
passage. He spok of both of ye all night most beautiful, and how ye used
to stravaig on the Saturday afternoons, and of auld Kelvinside. Sooth
the tune to me, he said, though it was the Sabbath, and I had to sooth
him Kelvin Grove, and he looked at his fiddle, the dear man. I cannae
bear the sight of it, he'll never play it mair. O my lamb, come home to
me, I'm all by my lane now." The rest was in a religious vein and quite
conventional. I have never seen any one more put out than Nares, when I
handed him this letter; he had read but a few words, before he cast
it down; it was perhaps a minute ere he picked it up again, and the
performance was repeated the third time before he reached the end.

"It's touching, isn't it?" said I.

For all answer, Nares exploded in a brutal oath; and it was some half an
hour later that he vouchsafed an explanation. "I'll tell you what broke
me up about that letter," said he. "My old man played the fiddle, played
it all out of tune: one of the things he played was _Martyrdom,_ I
remember--it was all martyrdom to me. He was a pig of a father, and I
was a pig of a son; but it sort of came over me I would like to hear
that fiddle squeak again. Natural," he added; "I guess we're all

"All sons are, I guess," said I. "I have the same trouble on my
conscience: we can shake hands on that." Which (oddly enough, perhaps)
we did.

Amongst the papers we found a considerable sprinkling of photographs;
for the most part either of very debonair-looking young ladies or old
women of the lodging-house persuasion. But one among them was the means
of our crowning discovery.

"They're not pretty, are they, Mr. Dodd?" said Nares, as he passed it

"Who?" I asked, mechanically taking the card (it was a quarter-plate)
in hand, and smothering a yawn; for the hour was late, the day had been
laborious, and I was wearying for bed.

"Trent and Company," said he. "That's a historic picture of the gang."

I held it to the light, my curiosity at a low ebb: I had seen Captain
Trent once, and had no delight in viewing him again. It was a photograph
of the deck of the brig, taken from forward: all in apple-pie order; the
hands gathered in the waist, the officers on the poop. At the foot of
the card was written "Brig Flying Scud, Rangoon," and a date; and above
or below each individual figure the name had been carefully noted.

As I continued to gaze, a shock went through me; the dimness of sleep
and fatigue lifted from my eyes, as fog lifts in the channel; and I
beheld with startled clearness the photographic presentment of a crowd
of strangers. "J. Trent, Master" at the top of the card directed me to
a smallish, weazened man, with bushy eyebrows and full white beard,
dressed in a frock coat and white trousers; a flower stuck in his
button-hole, his bearded chin set forward, his mouth clenched with
habitual determination. There was not much of the sailor in his looks,
but plenty of the martinet: a dry, precise man, who might pass for a
preacher in some rigid sect; and whatever he was, not the Captain
Trent of San Francisco. The men, too, were all new to me: the cook, an
unmistakable Chinaman, in his characteristic dress, standing apart on
the poop steps. But perhaps I turned on the whole with the greatest
curiosity to the figure labelled "E. Goddedaal, 1st off." He whom I had
never seen, he might be the identical; he might be the clue and spring
of all this mystery; and I scanned his features with the eye of a
detective. He was of great stature, seemingly blonde as a viking,
his hair clustering round his head in frowsy curls, and two enormous
whiskers, like the tusks of some strange animal, jutting from his
cheeks. With these virile appendages and the defiant attitude in which
he stood, the expression of his face only imperfectly harmonised. It was
wild, heroic, and womanish looking; and I felt I was prepared to hear he
was a sentimentalist, and to see him weep.

For some while I digested my discovery in private, reflecting how best,
and how with most of drama, I might share it with the captain. Then my
sketch-book came in my head; and I fished it out from where it lay, with
other miscellaneous possessions, at the foot of my bunk and turned to
my sketch of Captain Trent and the survivors of the British brig Flying
Scud in the San Francisco bar-room.

"Nares," said I, "I've told you how I first saw Captain Trent in that
saloon in 'Frisco? how he came with his men, one of them a Kanaka with
a canary-bird in a cage? and how I saw him afterwards at the auction,
frightened to death, and as much surprised at how the figures skipped up
as anybody there? Well," said I, "there's the man I saw"--and I laid
the sketch before him--"there's Trent of 'Frisco and there are his three
hands. Find one of them in the photograph, and I'll be obliged."

Nares compared the two in silence. "Well," he said at last, "I call this
rather a relief: seems to clear the horizon. We might have guessed at
something of the kind from the double ration of chests that figured."

"Does it explain anything?" I asked.

"It would explain everything," Nares replied, "but for the
steam-crusher. It'll all tally as neat as a patent puzzle, if you leave
out the way these people bid the wreck up. And there we come to a stone
wall. But whatever it is, Mr. Dodd, it's on the crook."

"And looks like piracy," I added.

"Looks like blind hookey!" cried the captain. "No, don't you deceive
yourself; neither your head nor mine is big enough to put a name on this






In my early days I was a man, the most wedded to his idols of my
generation. I was a dweller under roofs: the gull of that which we call
civilisation; a superstitious votary of the plastic arts; a cit; and
a prop of restaurants. I had a comrade in those days, somewhat of an
outsider, though he moved in the company of artists, and a man famous
in our small world for gallantry, knee breeches, and dry and pregnant
sayings. He, looking on the long meals and waxing bellies of the French,
whom I confess I somewhat imitated, branded me as "a cultivator of
restaurant fat." And I believe he had his finger on the dangerous spot;
I believe, if things had gone smooth with me, I should be now swollen
like a prize-ox in body, and fallen in mind to a thing perhaps as low
as many types of bourgeois--the implicit or exclusive artist. That was a
home word of Pinkerton's, deserving to be writ in letters of gold on the
portico of every school of art: "What I can't see is why you should want
to do nothing else." The dull man is made, not by the nature, but by the
degree of his immersion in a single business. And all the more if that
be sedentary, uneventful, and ingloriously safe. More than one half
of him will then remain unexercised and undeveloped; the rest will be
distended and deformed by over-nutrition, over-cerebration, and the heat
of rooms. And I have often marvelled at the impudence of gentlemen,
who describe and pass judgment on the life of man, in almost perfect
ignorance of all its necessary elements and natural careers. Those
who dwell in clubs and studios may paint excellent pictures or write
enchanting novels. There is one thing that they should not do: they
should pass no judgment on man's destiny, for it is a thing with which
they are unacquainted. Their own life is an excrescence of the moment,
doomed, in the vicissitude of history, to pass and disappear: the
eternal life of man, spent under sun and rain and in rude physical
effort, lies upon one side, scarce changed since the beginning.

I would I could have carried along with me to Midway Island all the
writers and the prating artists of my time. Day after day of hope
deferred, of heat, of unremitting toil; night after night of aching
limbs, bruised hands, and a mind obscured with the grateful vacancy of
physical fatigue: the scene, the nature of my employment; the rugged
speech and faces of my fellow-toilers, the glare of the day on deck, the
stinking twilight in the bilge, the shrill myriads of the ocean-fowl:
above all, the sense of our immitigable isolation from the world and
from the current epoch;--keeping another time, some eras old; the new
day heralded by no daily paper, only by the rising sun; and the State,
the churches, the peopled empires, war, and the rumours of war, and the
voices of the arts, all gone silent as in the days ere they were yet
invented. Such were the conditions of my new experience in life,
of which (if I had been able) I would have had all my confreres and
contemporaries to partake: forgetting, for that while, the orthodoxies
of the moment, and devoted to a single and material purpose under the
eye of heaven.

Of the nature of our task, I must continue to give some summary idea.
The forecastle was lumbered with ship's chandlery, the hold nigh full of
rice, the lazarette crowded with the teas and silks. These must all be
dug out; and that made but a fraction of our task. The hold was ceiled
throughout; a part, where perhaps some delicate cargo was once stored,
had been lined, in addition, with inch boards; and between every beam
there was a movable panel into the bilge. Any of these, the bulkheads of
the cabins, the very timbers of the hull itself, might be the place of
hiding. It was therefore necessary to demolish, as we proceeded, a
great part of the ship's inner skin and fittings, and to auscultate what
remained, like a doctor sounding for a lung disease. Upon the return,
from any beam or bulkhead, of a flat or doubtful sound, we must up axe
and hew into the timber: a violent and--from the amount of dry rot in
the wreck--a mortifying exercise. Every night saw a deeper inroad into
the bones of the Flying Scud--more beams tapped and hewn in splinters,
more planking peeled away and tossed aside--and every night saw us as
far as ever from the end and object of our arduous devastation. In this
perpetual disappointment, my courage did not fail me, but my spirits
dwindled; and Nares himself grew silent and morose. At night, when
supper was done, we passed an hour in the cabin, mostly without speech:
I, sometimes dozing over a book; Nares, sullenly but busily drilling
sea-shells with the instrument called a Yankee Fiddle. A stranger might
have supposed we were estranged; as a matter of fact, in this silent
comradeship of labour, our intimacy grew.

I had been struck, at the first beginning of our enterprise upon the
wreck, to find the men so ready at the captain's lightest word. I
dare not say they liked, but I can never deny that they admired him
thoroughly. A mild word from his mouth was more valued than flattery
and half a dollar from myself; if he relaxed at all from his habitual
attitude of censure, smiling alacrity surrounded him; and I was led to
think his theory of captainship, even if pushed to excess, reposed upon
some ground of reason. But even terror and admiration of the
captain failed us before the end. The men wearied of the hopeless,
unremunerative quest and the long strain of labour. They began to
shirk and grumble. Retribution fell on them at once, and retribution
multiplied the grumblings. With every day it took harder driving to keep
them to the daily drudge; and we, in our narrow boundaries, were kept
conscious every moment of the ill-will of our assistants.

In spite of the best care, the object of our search was perfectly well
known to all on board; and there had leaked out besides some knowledge
of those inconsistencies that had so greatly amazed the captain and
myself. I could overhear the men debate the character of Captain Trent,
and set forth competing theories of where the opium was stowed; and as
they seemed to have been eavesdropping on ourselves, I thought little
shame to prick up my ears when I had the return chance of spying upon
them, in this way. I could diagnose their temper and judge how far they
were informed upon the mystery of the Flying Scud. It was after having
thus overheard some almost mutinous speeches that a fortunate idea
crossed my mind. At night, I matured it in my bed, and the first thing
the next morning, broached it to the captain.

"Suppose I spirit up the hands a bit," I asked, "by the offer of a

"If you think you're getting your month's wages out of them the way it
is, I don't," was his reply. "However, they are all the men you've got,
and you're the supercargo."

This, from a person of the captain's character, might be regarded as
complete adhesion; and the crew were accordingly called aft. Never had
the captain worn a front more menacing. It was supposed by all that some
misdeed had been discovered, and some surprising punishment was to be

"See here, you!" he threw at them over his shoulder as he walked the
deck, "Mr. Dodd here is going to offer a reward to the first man who
strikes the opium in that wreck. There's two ways of making a donkey go;
both good, I guess: the one's kicks and the other's carrots. Mr. Dodd's
going to try the carrots. Well, my sons,"--and here he faced the men for
the first time with his hands behind him--"if that opium's not found in
five days, you can come to me for the kicks."

He nodded to the present narrator, who took up the tale. "Here is what
I propose, men," said I: "I put up one hundred and fifty dollars. If
any man can lay hands on the stuff right away, and off his own club,
he shall have the hundred and fifty down. If any one can put us on the
scent of where to look, he shall have a hundred and twenty-five, and the
balance shall be for the lucky one who actually picks it up. We'll call
it the Pinkerton Stakes, captain," I added, with a smile.

"Call it the Grand Combination Sweep, then," cries he. "For I go you
better.--Look here, men, I make up this jack-pot to two hundred and
fifty dollars, American gold coin."

"Thank you, Captain Nares," said I; "that was handsomely done."

"It was kindly meant," he returned.

The offer was not made in vain; the hands had scarce yet realised the
magnitude of the reward, they had scarce begun to buzz aloud in the
extremity of hope and wonder, ere the Chinese cook stepped forward with
gracious gestures and explanatory smiles.

"Captain," he began, "I serv-um two year Melican navy; serv-um six year
mail-boat steward. Savvy plenty."

"Oho!" cried Nares, "you savvy plenty, do you? (Beggar's seen this trick
in the mail-boats, I guess.) Well, why you no savvy a little sooner,

"I think bimeby make-um reward," replied the cook, with smiling dignity.

"Well, you can't say fairer than that," the captain admitted, "and now
the reward's offered, you'll talk? Speak up, then. Suppose you speak
true, you get reward. See?"

"I think long time," replied the Chinaman. "See plenty litty mat lice;
too-muchy plenty litty mat lice; sixty ton, litty mat lice. I think
all-e-time: perhaps plenty opium plenty litty mat lice."

"Well, Mr. Dodd, how does that strike you?" asked the captain. "He may
be right, he may be wrong. He's likely to be right: for if he isn't,
where can the stuff be? On the other hand, if he's wrong, we destroy
a hundred and fifty tons of good rice for nothing. It's a point to be

"I don't hesitate," said I. "Let's get to the bottom of the thing. The
rice is nothing; the rice will neither make nor break us."

"That's how I expected you to see it," returned Nares.

And we called the boat away and set forth on our new quest.

The hold was now almost entirely emptied; the mats (of which there went
forty to the short ton) had been stacked on deck, and now crowded the
ship's waist and forecastle. It was our task to disembowel and explore
six thousand individual mats, and incidentally to destroy a hundred and
fifty tons of valuable food. Nor were the circumstances of the day's
business less strange than its essential nature. Each man of us, armed
with a great knife, attacked the pile from his own quarter, slashed into
the nearest mat, burrowed in it with his hands, and shed forth the rice
upon the deck, where it heaped up, overflowed, and was trodden down,
poured at last into the scuppers, and occasionally spouted from the
vents. About the wreck, thus transformed into an overflowing granary,
the sea-fowl swarmed in myriads and with surprising insolence. The sight
of so much food confounded them; they deafened us with their shrill
tongues, swooped in our midst, dashed in our faces, and snatched the
grain from between our fingers. The men--their hands bleeding from these
assaults--turned savagely on the offensive, drove their knives into the
birds, drew them out crimsoned, and turned again to dig among the rice,
unmindful of the gawking creatures that struggled and died among their
feet. We made a singular picture: the hovering and diving birds; the
bodies of the dead discolouring the rice with blood; the scuppers
vomiting breadstuff; the men, frenzied by the gold hunt, toiling,
slaying, and shouting aloud: over all, the lofty intricacy of rigging
and the radiant heaven of the Pacific. Every man there toiled in the
immediate hope of fifty dollars; and I, of fifty thousand. Small wonder
if we waded callously in blood and food.

It was perhaps about ten in the forenoon when the scene was interrupted.
Nares, who had just ripped open a fresh mat, drew forth, and slung at
his feet, among the rice, a papered tin box.

"How's that?" he shouted.

A cry broke from all hands: the next moment, forgetting their own
disappointment, in that contagious sentiment of success, they gave three
cheers that scared the sea-birds; and the next, they had crowded round
the captain, and were jostling together and groping with emulous hands
in the new-opened mat. Box after box rewarded them, six in all; wrapped,
as I have said, in a paper envelope, and the paper printed on, in
Chinese characters.

Nares turned to me and shook my hand. "I began to think we should never
see this day," said he. "I congratulate you, Mr. Dodd, on having pulled
it through."

The captain's tones affected me profoundly; and when Johnson and the
men pressed round me in turn with congratulations, the tears came in my

"These are five-tael boxes, more than two pounds," said Nares, weighing
one in his hand. "Say two hundred and fifty dollars to the mat. Lay into
it, boys! We'll make Mr. Dodd a millionnaire before dark."

It was strange to see with what a fury we fell to. The men had now
nothing to expect; the mere idea of great sums inspired them with
disinterested ardour. Mats were slashed and disembowelled, the rice
flowed to our knees in the ship's waist, the sweat ran in our eyes and
blinded us, our arms ached to agony; and yet our fire abated not. Dinner
came; we were too weary to eat, too hoarse for conversation; and yet
dinner was scarce done, before we were afoot again and delving in the
rice. Before nightfall not a mat was unexplored, and we were face to
face with the astonishing result.

For of all the inexplicable things in the story of the Flying Scud, here
was the most inexplicable. Out of the six thousand mats, only twenty
were found to have been sugared; in each we found the same amount, about
twelve pounds of drug; making a grand total of two hundred and forty
pounds. By the last San Francisco quotation, opium was selling for a
fraction over twenty dollars a pound; but it had been known not long
before to bring as much as forty in Honolulu, where it was contraband.

Taking, then, this high Honolulu figure, the value of the opium on board
the Flying Scud fell considerably short of ten thousand dollars, while
at the San Francisco rate it lacked a trifle of five thousand. And fifty
thousand was the price that Jim and I had paid for it. And Bellairs had
been eager to go higher! There is no language to express the stupor with
which I contemplated this result.

It may be argued we were not yet sure; there might be yet another cache;
and you may be certain in that hour of my distress the argument was not
forgotten. There was never a ship more ardently perquested; no stone
was left unturned, and no expedient untried; day after day of growing
despair, we punched and dug in the brig's vitals, exciting the men with
promises and presents; evening after evening Nares and I sat face
to face in the narrow cabin, racking our minds for some neglected
possibility of search. I could stake my salvation on the certainty of
the result: in all that ship there was nothing left of value but the
timber and the copper nails. So that our case was lamentably plain; we
had paid fifty thousand dollars, borne the charges of the schooner, and
paid fancy interest on money; and if things went well with us, we
might realise fifteen per cent of the first outlay. We were not merely
bankrupt, we were comic bankrupts: a fair butt for jeering in the
streets. I hope I bore the blow with a good countenance; indeed, my mind
had long been quite made up, and since the day we found the opium I had
known the result. But the thought of Jim and Mamie ached in me like a
physical pain, and I shrank from speech and companionship.

I was in this frame of mind when the captain proposed that we should
land upon the island. I saw he had something to say, and only feared
it might be consolation; for I could just bear my grief, not bungling
sympathy; and yet I had no choice but to accede to his proposal.

We walked awhile along the beach in silence. The sun overhead
reverberated rays of heat; the staring sand, the glaring lagoon,
tortured our eyes; and the birds and the boom of the far-away breakers
made a savage symphony.

"I don't require to tell you the game's up?" Nares asked.

"No," said I.

"I was thinking of getting to sea to-morrow," he pursued.

"The best thing you can do," said I.

"Shall we say Honolulu?" he inquired.


"O, yes; let's stick to the programme," I cried. "Honolulu be it!"

There was another silence, and then Nares cleared his throat.

"We've been pretty good friends, you and me, Mr. Dodd," he resumed.
"We've been going through the kind of thing that tries a man. We've had
the hardest kind of work, we've been badly backed, and now we're badly
beaten. And we've fetched through without a word of disagreement. I
don't say this to praise myself: it's my trade; it's what I'm paid for,
and trained for, and brought up to. But it was another thing for you; it
was all new to you; and it did me good to see you stand right up to it
and swing right into it, day in, day out. And then see how you've taken
this disappointment, when everybody knows you must have been tautened
up to shying-point! I wish you'd let me tell you, Mr. Dodd, that you've
stood out mighty manly and handsomely in all this business, and made
every one like you and admire you. And I wish you'd let me tell you,
besides, that I've taken this wreck business as much to heart as you
have; something kind of rises in my throat when I think we're beaten;
and if I thought waiting would do it, I would stick on this reef until
we starved."

I tried in vain to thank him for these generous words, but he was
beforehand with me in a moment.

"I didn't bring you ashore to sound my praises," he interrupted. "We
understand one another now, that's all; and I guess you can trust me.
What I wished to speak about is more important, and it's got to be
faced. What are we to do about the Flying Scud and the dime novel?"

"I really have thought nothing about that," I replied. "But I expect I
mean to get at the bottom of it; and if the bogus Captain Trent is to be
found on the earth's surface, I guess I mean to find him."

"All you've got to do is talk," said Nares; "you can make the biggest
kind of boom; it isn't often the reporters have a chance at such a yarn
as this; and I can tell you how it will go. It will go by telegraph, Mr.
Dodd; it'll be telegraphed by the column, and head-lined, and frothed
up, and denied by authority, and it'll hit bogus Captain Trent in a
Mexican bar-room, and knock over bogus Goddedaal in a slum somewhere up
the Baltic, and bowl down Hardy and Brown in sailors' music halls round
Greenock. O, there's no doubt you can have a regular domestic Judgment
Day. The only point is whether you deliberately want to."

"Well," said I, "I deliberately don't want one thing: I deliberately
don't want to make a public exhibition of myself and Pinkerton: so
moral--smuggling opium; such damned fools--paying fifty thousand for a
'dead horse'!"

"No doubt it might damage you in a business sense," the captain agreed.
"And I'm pleased you take that view; for I've turned kind of soft upon
the job. There's been some crookedness about, no doubt of it; but, Law
bless you! if we dropped upon the troupe, all the premier artists would
slip right out with the boodle in their grip-sacks, and you'd only
collar a lot of old mutton-headed shell-backs that didn't know the back
of the business from the front. I don't take much stock in Mercantile
Jack, you know that; but, poor devil, he's got to go where he's told;
and if you make trouble, ten to one it'll make you sick to see the
innocents who have to stand the racket. It would be different if we
understood the operation; but we don't, you see: there's a lot of queer
corners in life; and my vote is to let the blame' thing lie."

"You speak as if we had that in our power," I objected.

"And so we have," said he.

"What about the men?" I asked. "They know too much by half; and you
can't keep them from talking."

"Can't I?" returned Nares. "I bet a boarding-master can! They can be all
half-seas-over, when they get ashore, blind drunk by dark, and cruising
out of the Golden Gate in different deep-sea ships by the next morning.
Can't keep them from talking, can't I? Well, I can make 'em talk
separate, leastways. If a whole crew came talking, parties would listen;
but if it's only one lone old shell-back, it's the usual yarn. And at
least, they needn't talk before six months, or--if we have luck, and
there's a whaler handy--three years. And by that time, Mr. Dodd, it's
ancient history."

"That's what they call Shanghaiing, isn't it?" I asked. "I thought it
belonged to the dime novel."

"O, dime novels are right enough," returned the captain. "Nothing wrong
with the dime novel, only that things happen thicker than they do in
life, and the practical seamanship is off-colour."

"So we can keep the business to ourselves," I mused.

"There's one other person that might blab," said the captain. "Though I
don't believe she has anything left to tell."

"And who is SHE?" I asked.

"The old girl there," he answered, pointing to the wreck. "I know
there's nothing in her; but somehow I'm afraid of some one else--it's
the last thing you'd expect, so it's just the first that'll happen--some
one dropping into this God-forgotten island where nobody drops in,
waltzing into that wreck that we've grown old with searching, stooping
straight down, and picking right up the very thing that tells the story.
What's that to me? you may ask, and why am I gone Soft Tommy on this
Museum of Crooks? They've smashed up you and Mr. Pinkerton; they've
turned my hair grey with conundrums; they've been up to larks, no doubt;
and that's all I know of them--you say. Well, and that's just where it
is. I don't know enough; I don't know what's uppermost; it's just such
a lot of miscellaneous eventualities as I don't care to go stirring
up; and I ask you to let me deal with the old girl after a patent of my

"Certainly--what you please," said I, scarce with attention, for a new
thought now occupied my brain. "Captain," I broke out, "you are wrong:
we cannot hush this up. There is one thing you have forgotten."

"What is that?" he asked.

"A bogus Captain Trent, a bogus Goddedaal, a whole bogus crew, have all
started home," said I. "If we are right, not one of them will reach his
journey's end. And do you mean to say that such a circumstance as that
can pass without remark?"

"Sailors," said the captain, "only sailors! If they were all bound for
one place, in a body, I don't say so; but they're all going separate--to
Hull, to Sweden, to the Clyde, to the Thames. Well, at each place,
what is it? Nothing new. Only one sailor man missing: got drunk, or got
drowned, or got left: the proper sailor's end."


Something bitter in the thought and in the speaker's tones struck me
hard. "Here is one that has got left!" I cried, getting sharply to my
feet; for we had been some time seated. "I wish it were the other. I
don't--don't relish going home to Jim with this!"

"See here," said Nares, with ready tact, "I must be getting aboard.
Johnson's in the brig annexing chandlery and canvas, and there's some
things in the Norah that want fixing against we go to sea. Would you
like to be left here in the chicken-ranch? I'll send for you to supper."

I embraced the proposal with delight. Solitude, in my frame of mind, was
not too dearly purchased at the risk of sunstroke or sand-blindness; and
soon I was alone on the ill-omened islet. I should find it hard to tell
of what I thought--of Jim, of Mamie, of our lost fortune, of my lost
hopes, of the doom before me: to turn to at some mechanical occupation
in some subaltern rank, and to toil there, unremarked and unamused,
until the hour of the last deliverance. I was, at least, so sunk in
sadness that I scarce remarked where I was going; and chance (or some
finer sense that lives in us, and only guides us when the mind is in
abeyance) conducted my steps into a quarter of the island where the
birds were few. By some devious route, which I was unable to retrace
for my return, I was thus able to mount, without interruption, to the
highest point of land. And here I was recalled to consciousness by a
last discovery.

The spot on which I stood was level, and commanded a wide view of the
lagoon, the bounding reef, the round horizon. Nearer hand I saw the
sister islet, the wreck, the Norah Creina, and the Norah's boat already
moving shoreward. For the sun was now low, flaming on the sea's verge;
and the galley chimney smoked on board the schooner.

It thus befell that though my discovery was both affecting and
suggestive, I had no leisure to examine further. What I saw was the
blackened embers of fire of wreck. By all the signs, it must have blazed
to a good height and burned for days; from the scantling of a spar that
lay upon the margin only half consumed, it must have been the work of
more than one; and I received at once the image of a forlorn troop of
castaways, houseless in that lost corner of the earth, and feeding there
their fire of signal. The next moment a hail reached me from the boat;
and bursting through the bushes and the rising sea-fowl, I said farewell
(I trust for ever) to that desert isle.






The last night at Midway, I had little sleep; the next morning, after
the sun was risen, and the clatter of departure had begun to reign on
deck, I lay a long while dozing; and when at last I stepped from the
companion, the schooner was already leaping through the pass into the
open sea. Close on her board, the huge scroll of a breaker unfurled
itself along the reef with a prodigious clamour; and behind I saw the
wreck vomiting into the morning air a coil of smoke. The wreaths already
blew out far to leeward, flames already glittered in the cabin skylight;
and the sea-fowl were scattered in surprise as wide as the lagoon. As
we drew farther off, the conflagration of the Flying Scud flamed higher;
and long after we had dropped all signs of Midway Island, the smoke
still hung in the horizon like that of a distant steamer. With the
fading out of that last vestige, the Norah Creina, passed again into the
empty world of cloud and water by which she had approached; and the next
features that appeared, eleven days later, to break the line of sky,
were the arid mountains of Oahu.

It has often since been a comfortable thought to me that we had thus
destroyed the tell-tale remnants of the Flying Scud; and often a strange
one that my last sight and reminiscence of that fatal ship should be
a pillar of smoke on the horizon. To so many others besides myself
the same appearance had played a part in the various stages of that
business: luring some to what they little imagined, filling some with
unimaginable terrors. But ours was the last smoke raised in the story;
and with its dying away the secret of the Flying Scud became a private

It was by the first light of dawn that we saw, close on board, the
metropolitan island of Hawaii. We held along the coast, as near as
we could venture, with a fresh breeze and under an unclouded heaven;
beholding, as we went, the arid mountain sides and scrubby cocoa-palms
of that somewhat melancholy archipelago. About four of the afternoon
we turned Waimanolo Point, the westerly headland of the great bight of
Honolulu; showed ourselves for twenty minutes in full view; and then
fell again to leeward, and put in the rest of daylight, plying under
shortened sail under the lee of Waimanolo.

A little after dark we beat once more about the point, and crept
cautiously toward the mouth of the Pearl Lochs, where Jim and I had
arranged I was to meet the smugglers. The night was happily obscure, the
water smooth. We showed, according to instructions, no light on deck:
only a red lantern dropped from either cathead to within a couple of
feet of the water. A lookout was stationed on the bowsprit end, another
in the crosstrees; and the whole ship's company crowded forward,
scouting for enemies or friends. It was now the crucial moment of our
enterprise; we were now risking liberty and credit; and that for a sum
so small to a man in my bankrupt situation, that I could have laughed
aloud in bitterness. But the piece had been arranged, and we must play
it to the finish.

For some while, we saw nothing but the dark mountain outline of the
island, the torches of native fishermen glittering here and there along
the foreshore, and right in the midst that cluster of brave lights with
which the town of Honolulu advertises itself to the seaward. Presently
a ruddy star appeared inshore of us, and seemed to draw near unsteadily.
This was the anticipated signal; and we made haste to show the
countersign, lowering a white light from the quarter, extinguishing
the two others, and laying the schooner incontinently to. The star
approached slowly; the sounds of oars and of men's speech came to us
across the water; and then a voice hailed us.

"Is that Mr. Dodd?"

"Yes," I returned. "Is Jim Pinkerton there?"

"No, sir," replied the voice. "But there's one of his crowd here; name
of Speedy."

"I'm here, Mr. Dodd," added Speedy himself. "I have letters for you."

"All right," I replied. "Come aboard, gentlemen, and let me see my

A whaleboat accordingly ranged alongside, and three men boarded us: my
old San Francisco friend, the stock-gambler Speedy, a little wizened
person of the name of Sharpe, and a big, flourishing, dissipated-looking
man called Fowler. The two last (I learned afterward) were frequent
partners; Sharpe supplied the capital, and Fowler, who was quite a
character in the islands and occupied a considerable station, brought
activity, daring, and a private influence, highly necessary in the case.
Both seemed to approach the business with a keen sense of romance; and I
believe this was the chief attraction, at least with Fowler--for whom
I early conceived a sentiment of liking. But in that first moment I
had something else to think of than to judge my new acquaintances;
and before Speedy had fished out the letters, the full extent of our
misfortune was revealed.

"We've rather bad news for you, Mr. Dodd," said Fowler. "Your firm's
gone up."

"Already!" I exclaimed.

"Well, it was thought rather a wonder Pinkerton held on as long as he
did," was the reply. "The wreck deal was too big for your credit; you
were doing a big business, no doubt, but you were doing it on precious
little capital; and when the strain came, you were bound to go.
Pinkerton's through all right: seven cents dividend; some remarks
made, but nothing to hurt; the press let you down easy--I guess Jim had
relations there. The only trouble is, that all this Flying Scud affair
got in the papers with the rest; everybody's wide awake in Honolulu, and
the sooner we get the stuff in and the dollars out, the better for all

"Gentlemen," said I, "you must excuse me. My friend, the captain here,
will drink a glass of champagne with you to give you patience; but as
for myself, I am unfit even for ordinary conversation till I have read
these letters."

They demurred a little: and indeed the danger of delay seemed obvious;
but the sight of my distress, which I was unable entirely to control,
appealed strongly to their good-nature; and I was suffered at last to
get by myself on deck, where, by the light of a lantern smuggled under
shelter of the low rail, I read the following wretched correspondence.

"My dear Loudon," ran the first, "this will be handed you by your friend
Speedy of the Catamount. His sterling character and loyal devotion
to yourself pointed him out as the best man for our purposes in
Honolulu--the parties on the spot being difficult to manipulate. A man
called Billy Fowler (you must have heard of Billy) is the boss; he is in
politics some, and squares the officers. I have hard times before me
in the city, but I feel as bright as a dollar and as strong as John L.
Sullivan. What with Mamie here, and my partner speeding over the seas,
and the bonanza in the wreck, I feel like I could juggle with the
Pyramids of Egypt, same as conjurers do with aluminium balls. My
earnest prayers follow you, Loudon, that you may feel the way I do--just
inspired! My feet don't touch the ground; I kind of swim. Mamie is like
Moses and Aaron that held up the other individual's arms. She carries me
along like a horse and buggy. I am beating the record.

"Your true partner,


Number two was in a different style:--

"My dearest Loudon, how am I to prepare you for this dire intelligence?
O dear me, it will strike you to the earth. The Fiat has gone forth; our
firm went bust at a quarter before twelve. It was a bill of Bradley's
(for $200) that brought these vast operations to a close, and evolved
liabilities of upwards of two hundred and fifty thousand. O, the shame
and pity of it! and you but three weeks gone! Loudon, don't blame your
partner: if human hands and brains could have sufficed, I would have
held the thing together. But it just slowly crumbled; Bradley was the
last kick, but the blamed business just MELTED. I give the liabilities;
it's supposed they're all in; for the cowards were waiting, and the
claims were filed like taking tickets to hear Patti. I don't quite have
the hang of the assets yet, our interests were so extended; but I am at
it day and night, and I guess will make a creditable dividend. If the
wreck pans out only half the way it ought, we'll turn the laugh still. I
am as full of grit and work as ever, and just tower above our troubles.
Mamie is a host in herself. Somehow I feel like it was only me that had
gone bust, and you and she soared clear of it. Hurry up. That's all you
have to do.

"Yours ever,


The third was yet more altered:--

"My poor Loudon," it began, "I labour far into the night getting our
affairs in order; you could not believe their vastness and complexity.
Douglas B. Longhurst said humorously that the receiver's work would
be cut out for him. I cannot deny that some of them have a speculative
look. God forbid a sensitive, refined spirit like yours should ever come
face to face with a Commissioner in Bankruptcy; these men get all the
sweetness knocked right out of them. But I could bear up better if it
weren't for press comments. Often and often, Loudon, I recall to mind
your most legitimate critiques of the press system. They published an
interview with me, not the least like what I said, and with JEERING
comments; it would make your blood boil, it was literally INHUMANE; I
wouldn't have written it about a yellow dog that was in trouble like
what I am. Mamie just winced, the first time she has turned a hair right
through the whole catastrophe. How wonderfully true was what you said
long ago in Paris, about touching on people's personal appearance! The
fellow said--" And then these words had been scored through; and my
distressed friend turned to another subject. "I cannot bear to dwell
upon our assets. They simply don't show up. Even Thirteen Star, as sound
a line as can be produced upon this coast, goes begging. The wreck has
thrown a blight on all we ever touched. And where's the use? God never
made a wreck big enough to fill our deficit. I am haunted by the thought
that you may blame me; I know how I despised your remonstrances. O,
Loudon, don't be hard on your miserable partner. The funny-dog business
is what kills. I fear your stern rectitude of mind like the eye of God.
I cannot think but what some of my books seem mixed up; otherwise, I
don't seem to see my way as plain as I could wish to. Or else my brain
is gone soft. Loudon, if there should be any unpleasantness, you can
trust me to do the right thing and keep you clear. I've been telling
them already, how you had no business grip and never saw the books. O, I
trust I have done right in this! I knew it was a liberty; I know you may
justly complain; but it was some things that were said. And mind you,
all legitimate business! Not even your shrinking sensitiveness could
find fault with the first look of one of them, if they had panned out
right. And you know, the Flying Scud was the biggest gamble of the
crowd, and that was your own idea. Mamie says she never could bear
to look you in the face, if that idea had been mine, she is SO

"Your broken-hearted


The last began without formality:--

"This is the end of me commercially. I give up; my nerve is gone. I
suppose I ought to be glad; for we're through the court. I don't know
as ever I knew how, and I'm sure I don't remember. If it pans out--the
wreck, I mean--we'll go to Europe, and live on the interest of our
money. No more work for me. I shake when people speak to me. I have gone
on, hoping and hoping, and working and working, and the lead has pinched
right out. I want to lie on my back in a garden and read Shakespeare and
E. P. Roe. Don't suppose it's cowardice, Loudon. I'm a sick man. Rest is
what I must have. I've worked hard all my life; I never spared myself;
every dollar I ever made, I've coined my brains for it. I've never done
a mean thing; I've lived respectable, and given to the poor. Who has a
better right to a holiday than I have? And I mean to have a year of it
straight out; and if I don't, I shall lie right down here in my tracks,
and die of worry and brain trouble. Don't mistake. That's so. If there
are any pickings at all, TRUST SPEEDY; don't let the creditors get wind
of what there is. I helped you when you were down; help me now. Don't
deceive yourself; you've got to help me right now, or never. I am
clerking, and NOT FIT TO CYPHER. Mamie's typewriting at the Phoenix
Guano Exchange, down town. The light is right out of my life. I know
you'll not like to do what I propose. Think only of this; that it's life
or death for


"P.S. Our figure was seven per cent. O, what a fall was there! Well,
well, it's past mending; I don't want to whine. But, Loudon, I do want
to live. No more ambition; all I ask is life. I have so much to make
it sweet to me! I am clerking, and USELESS AT THAT. I know I would have
fired such a clerk inside of forty minutes, in MY time. But my time's
over. I can only cling on to you. Don't fail


There was yet one more postscript, yet one more outburst of self-pity
and pathetic adjuration; and a doctor's opinion, unpromising enough,
was besides enclosed. I pass them both in silence. I think shame to
have shown, at so great length, the half-baked virtues of my friend
dissolving in the crucible of sickness and distress; and the effect upon
my spirits can be judged already. I got to my feet when I had done, drew
a deep breath, and stared hard at Honolulu. One moment the world seemed
at an end; the next, I was conscious of a rush of independent energy. On
Jim I could rely no longer; I must now take hold myself. I must decide
and act on my own better thoughts.

The word was easy to say; the thing, at the first blush, was
undiscoverable. I was overwhelmed with miserable, womanish pity for
my broken friend; his outcries grieved my spirit; I saw him then and
now--then, so invincible; now, brought so low--and knew neither how
to refuse, nor how to consent to his proposal. The remembrance of my
father, who had fallen in the same field unstained, the image of his
monument incongruously rising, a fear of the law, a chill air that
seemed to blow upon my fancy from the doors of prisons, and the
imaginary clank of fetters, recalled me to a different resolve. And then
again, the wails of my sick partner intervened. So I stood hesitating,
and yet with a strong sense of capacity behind: sure, if I could but
choose my path, that I should walk in it with resolution.

Then I remembered that I had a friend on board, and stepped to the

"Gentlemen," said I, "only a few moments more: but these, I regret to
say, I must make more tedious still by removing your companion. It is
indispensable that I should have a word or two with Captain Nares."

Both the smugglers were afoot at once, protesting. The business, they
declared, must be despatched at once; they had run risk enough, with a
conscience; and they must either finish now, or go.

"The choice is yours, gentlemen," said I, "and, I believe, the
eagerness. I am not yet sure that I have anything in your way; even if
I have, there are a hundred things to be considered; and I assure you it
is not at all my habit to do business with a pistol to my head."

"That is all very proper, Mr. Dodd; there is no wish to coerce you,
believe me," said Fowler; "only, please consider our position. It is
really dangerous; we were not the only people to see your schooner off

"Mr. Fowler," I replied, "I was not born yesterday. Will you allow me
to express an opinion, in which I may be quite wrong, but to which I
am entirely wedded? If the custom-house officers had been coming,
they would have been here now. In other words, somebody is working the
oracle, and (for a good guess) his name is Fowler."

Both men laughed loud and long; and being supplied with another bottle
of Longhurst's champagne, suffered the captain and myself to leave them
without further word.

I gave Nares the correspondence, and he skimmed it through.

"Now, captain," said I, "I want a fresh mind on this. What does it

"It's large enough text," replied the captain. "It means you're to stake
your pile on Speedy, hand him over all you can, and hold your tongue.
I almost wish you hadn't shown it me," he added wearily. "What with the
specie from the wreck and the opium money, it comes to a biggish deal."

"That's supposing that I do it?" said I.

"Exactly," said he, "supposing you do it."

"And there are pros and cons to that," I observed.

"There's San Quentin, to start in with," said the captain; "and suppose
you clear the penitentiary, there's the nasty taste in the mouth. The
figure's big enough to make bad trouble, but it's not big enough to be
picturesque; and I should guess a man always feels kind of small who has
sold himself under six cyphers. That would be my way, at least; there's
an excitement about a million that might carry me on; but the other way,
I should feel kind of lonely when I woke in bed. Then there's Speedy. Do
you know him well?"

"No, I do not," said I.

"Well, of course he can vamoose with the entire speculation, if he
chooses," pursued the captain, "and if he don't I can't see but what
you've got to support and bed and board with him to the end of time.
I guess it would weary me. Then there's Mr. Pinkerton, of course. He's
been a good friend to you, hasn't he? Stood by you, and all that? and
pulled you through for all he was worth?"


"That he has," I cried; "I could never begin telling you my debt to

"Well, and that's a consideration," said the captain. "As a matter of
principle, I wouldn't look at this business at the money. 'Not good
enough,' would be my word. But even principle goes under when it comes
to friends--the right sort, I mean. This Pinkerton is frightened, and
he seems sick; the medico don't seem to care a cent about his state of
health; and you've got to figure how you would like it if he came to
die. Remember, the risk of this little swindle is all yours; it's no
sort of risk to Mr. Pinkerton. Well, you've got to put it that way
plainly, and see how you like the sound of it: my friend Pinkerton is in
danger of the New Jerusalem, I am in danger of San Quentin; which risk
do I propose to run?"

"That's an ugly way to put it," I objected, "and perhaps hardly fair.
There's right and wrong to be considered."

"Don't know the parties," replied Nares; "and I'm coming to them,
anyway. For it strikes me, when it came to smuggling opium, you walked
right up?"

"So I did," I said; "sick I am to have to say it!"

"All the same," continued Nares, "you went into the opium-smuggling with
your head down; and a good deal of fussing I've listened to, that you
hadn't more of it to smuggle. Now, maybe your partner's not quite fixed
the same as you are; maybe he sees precious little difference between
the one thing and the other."

"You could not say truer: he sees none, I do believe," cried I; "and
though I see one, I could never tell you how."

"We never can," said the oracular Nares; "taste is all a matter of
opinion. But the point is, how will your friend take it? You refuse a
favour, and you take the high horse at the same time; you disappoint
him, and you rap him over the knuckles. It won't do, Mr. Dodd; no
friendship can stand that. You must be as good as your friend, or as bad
as your friend, or start on a fresh deal without him."

"I don't see it!" said I. "You don't know Jim!"

"Well, you WILL see," said Nares. "And now, here's another point. This
bit of money looks mighty big to Mr. Pinkerton; it may spell life or
health to him; but among all your creditors, I don't see that it amounts
to a hill of beans--I don't believe it'll pay their car-fares all round.
And don't you think you'll ever get thanked. You were known to pay a
long price for the chance of rummaging that wreck; you do the rummaging,
you come home, and you hand over ten thousand--or twenty, if you like--a
part of which you'll have to own up you made by smuggling; and, mind!
you'll never get Billy Fowler to stick his name to a receipt. Now just
glance at the transaction from the outside, and see what a clear case it
makes. Your ten thousand is a sop; and people will only wonder you were
so damned impudent as to offer such a small one! Whichever way you take
it, Mr. Dodd, the bottom's out of your character; so there's one thing
less to be considered."

"I daresay you'll scarce believe me," said I, "but I feel that a
positive relief."

"You must be made some way different from me, then," returned Nares.
"And, talking about me, I might just mention how I stand. You'll have
no trouble from me--you've trouble enough of your own; and I'm friend
enough, when a friend's in need, to shut my eyes and go right where he
tells me. All the same, I'm rather queerly fixed. My owners'll have
to rank with the rest on their charter-party. Here am I, their
representative! and I have to look over the ship's side while the
bankrupt walks his assets ashore in Mr. Speedy's hat-box. It's a thing
I wouldn't do for James G. Blaine; but I'll do it for you, Mr. Dodd, and
only sorry I can't do more."

"Thank you, captain; my mind is made up," said I. "I'll go straight,
RUAT COELUM! I never understood that old tag before to-night."

"I hope it isn't my business that decides you?" asked the captain.

"I'll never deny it was an element," said I. "I hope, I hope I'm not
cowardly; I hope I could steal for Jim myself; but when it comes to
dragging in you and Speedy, and this one and the other, why, Jim has
got to die, and there's an end. I'll try and work for him when I get to
'Frisco, I suppose; and I suppose I'll fail, and look on at his death,
and kick myself: it can't be helped--I'll fight it on this line."


"I don't say as you're wrong," replied Nares, "and I'll be hanged if
I know if you're right. It suits me anyway. And look here--hadn't you
better just show our friends over the side?" he added; "no good of being
at the risk and worry of smuggling for the benefit of creditors."

"I don't think of the creditors," said I. "But I've kept this pair so
long, I haven't got the brass to fire them now."

Indeed, I believe that was my only reason for entering upon a
transaction which was now outside my interest, but which (as it chanced)
repaid me fifty-fold in entertainment. Fowler and Sharpe were both
preternaturally sharp; they did me the honour in the beginning to
attribute to myself their proper vices; and before we were done had
grown to regard me with an esteem akin to worship. This proud position
I attained by no more recondite arts, than telling the mere truth and
unaffectedly displaying my indifference to the result. I have doubtless
stated the essentials of all good diplomacy, which may be rather
regarded, therefore, as a grace of state, than the effect of management.
For to tell the truth is not in itself diplomatic, and to have no care
for the result a thing involuntary. When I mentioned, for instance, that
I had but two hundred and forty pounds of drug, my smugglers exchanged
meaning glances, as who should say, "Here is a foeman worthy of our
steel!" But when I carelessly proposed thirty-five dollars a pound, as
an amendment to their offered twenty, and wound up with the remark: "The
whole thing is a matter of moonshine to me, gentlemen. Take it or want
it, and fill your glasses"--I had the indescribable gratification to
see Sharpe nudge Fowler warningly, and Fowler choke down the jovial
acceptance that stood ready on his lips, and lamely substitute a "No--no
more wine, please, Mr. Dodd!" Nor was this all: for when the affair was
settled at fifty dollars a pound--a shrewd stroke of business for my
creditors--and our friends had got on board their whaleboat and shoved
off, it appeared they were imperfectly acquainted with the conveyance
of sound upon still water, and I had the joy to overhear the following

"Deep man, that Dodd," said Sharpe.

And the bass-toned Fowler echoed, "Damned if I understand his game."

Thus we were left once more alone upon the Norah Creina; and the news of
the night, and the lamentations of Pinkerton, and the thought of my own
harsh decision, returned and besieged me in the dark. According to
all the rubbish I had read, I should have been sustained by the warm
consciousness of virtue. Alas, I had but the one feeling: that I
had sacrificed my sick friend to the fear of prison-cells and stupid
starers. And no moralist has yet advanced so far as to number cowardice
amongst the things that are their own reward.






In the early sunlight of the next day, we tossed close off the buoy and
saw the city sparkle in its groves about the foot of the Punch-bowl, and
the masts clustering thick in the small harbour. A good breeze, which
had risen with the sea, carried us triumphantly through the
intricacies of the passage; and we had soon brought up not far from the
landing-stairs. I remember to have remarked an ugly horned reptile of a
modern warship in the usual moorings across the port, but my mind was so
profoundly plunged in melancholy that I paid no heed.

Indeed, I had little time at my disposal. Messieurs Sharpe and Fowler
had left the night before in the persuasion that I was a liar of the
first magnitude; the genial belief brought them aboard again with the
earliest opportunity, proffering help to one who had proved how little
he required it, and hospitality to so respectable a character. I had
business to mind, I had some need both of assistance and diversion; I
liked Fowler--I don't know why; and in short, I let them do with me as
they desired. No creditor intervening, I spent the first half of the
day inquiring into the conditions of the tea and silk market under
the auspices of Sharpe; lunched with him in a private apartment at the
Hawaiian Hotel--for Sharpe was a teetotaler in public; and about four
in the afternoon was delivered into the hands of Fowler. This gentleman
owned a bungalow on the Waikiki beach; and there in company with
certain young bloods of Honolulu, I was entertained to a sea-bathe,
indiscriminate cocktails, a dinner, a hula-hula, and (to round off the
night), poker and assorted liquors. To lose money in the small hours to
pale, intoxicated youth, has always appeared to me a pleasure overrated.
In my then frame of mind, I confess I found it even delightful; put up
my money (or rather my creditors'), and put down Fowler's champagne with
equal avidity and success; and awoke the next morning to a mild headache
and the rather agreeable lees of the last night's excitement. The young
bloods, many of whom were still far from sober, had taken the kitchen
into their own hands, vice the Chinaman deposed; and since each was
engaged upon a dish of his own, and none had the least scruple in
demolishing his neighbour's handiwork, I became early convinced that
many eggs would be broken and few omelets made. The discovery of a jug
of milk and a crust of bread enabled me to stay my appetite; and since
it was Sunday, when no business could be done, and the festivities were
to be renewed that night in the abode of Fowler, it occurred to me to
slip silently away and enjoy some air and solitude.

I turned seaward under the dead crater known as Diamond Head. My way
was for some time under the shade of certain thickets of green, thorny
trees, dotted with houses. Here I enjoyed some pictures of the native
life: wide-eyed, naked children, mingled with pigs; a youth asleep under
a tree; an old gentleman spelling through glasses his Hawaiian Bible;
the somewhat embarrassing spectacle of a lady at her bath in a spring;
and the glimpse of gaudy-coloured gowns in the deep shade of the houses.
Thence I found a road along the beach itself, wading in sand, opposed
and buffeted by the whole weight of the Trade: on one hand, the
glittering and sounding surf, and the bay lively with many sails; on the
other, precipitous, arid gullies and sheer cliffs, mounting towards the
crater and the blue sky. For all the companionship of skimming vessels,
the place struck me with a sense of solitude. There came in my head
what I had been told the day before at dinner, of a cavern above in
the bowels of the volcano, a place only to be visited with the light
of torches, a treasure-house of the bones of priests and warriors, and
clamorous with the voice of an unseen river pouring seaward through
the crannies of the mountain. At the thought, it was revealed to me
suddenly, how the bungalows, and the Fowlers, and the bright busy town
and crowding ships, were all children of yesterday; and for centuries
before, the obscure life of the natives, with its glories and ambitions,
its joys and crimes and agonies, had rolled unseen, like the mountain
river, in that sea-girt place. Not Chaldea appeared more ancient, nor
the Pyramids of Egypt more abstruse; and I heard time measured by
"the drums and tramplings" of immemorial conquests, and saw myself
the creature of an hour. Over the bankruptcy of Pinkerton and Dodd,
of Montana Block, S. F., and the conscientious troubles of the junior
partner, the spirit of eternity was seen to smile.

To this mood of philosophic sadness, my excesses of the night before no
doubt contributed; for more things than virtue are at times their own
reward: but I was greatly healed at least of my distresses. And while I
was yet enjoying my abstracted humour, a turn of the beach brought me in
view of the signal-station, with its watch-house and flag-staff, perched
on the immediate margin of a cliff. The house was new and clean and
bald, and stood naked to the Trades. The wind beat about it in loud
squalls; the seaward windows rattled without mercy; the breach of the
surf below contributed its increment of noise; and the fall of my foot
in the narrow verandah passed unheard by those within.

There were two on whom I thus entered unexpectedly: the look-out
man, with grizzled beard, keen seaman's eyes, and that brand on his
countenance that comes of solitary living; and a visitor, an oldish,
oratorical fellow, in the smart tropical array of the British
man-o'-war's man, perched on a table, and smoking a cigar. I was
made pleasantly welcome, and was soon listening with amusement to the

"No, if I hadn't have been born an Englishman," was one of his
sentiments, "damn me! I'd rather 'a been born a Frenchy! I'd like to see
another nation fit to black their boots." Presently after, he developed
his views on home politics with similar trenchancy. "I'd rather be a
brute beast than what I'd be a liberal," he said. "Carrying banners and
that! a pig's got more sense. Why, look at our chief engineer--they do
say he carried a banner with his own 'ands: 'Hooroar for Gladstone!' I
suppose, or 'Down with the Aristocracy!' What 'arm does the aristocracy
do? Show me a country any good without one! Not the States; why, it's
the 'ome of corruption! I knew a man--he was a good man, 'ome born--who
was signal quartermaster in the Wyandotte. He told me he could never
have got there if he hadn't have 'run with the boys'--told it me as I'm
telling you. Now, we're all British subjects here----" he was going on.

"I am afraid I am an American," I said apologetically.

He seemed the least bit taken aback, but recovered himself; and with the
ready tact of his betters, paid me the usual British compliment on the
riposte. "You don't say so!" he exclaimed. "Well, I give you my word of
honour, I'd never have guessed it. Nobody could tell it on you," said
he, as though it were some form of liquor.

I thanked him, as I always do, at this particular stage, with his
compatriots: not so much perhaps for the compliment to myself and my
poor country, as for the revelation (which is ever fresh to me) of
Britannic self-sufficiency and taste. And he was so far softened by my
gratitude as to add a word of praise on the American method of lacing
sails. "You're ahead of us in lacing sails," he said. "You can say that
with a clear conscience."

"Thank you," I replied. "I shall certainly do so."

At this rate, we got along swimmingly; and when I rose to retrace my
steps to the Fowlery, he at once started to his feet and offered me the
welcome solace of his company for the return. I believe I discovered
much alacrity at the idea, for the creature (who seemed to be unique,
or to represent a type like that of the dodo) entertained me hugely.
But when he had produced his hat, I found I was in the way of more
than entertainment; for on the ribbon I could read the legend: "H.M.S.

"I say," I began, when our adieus were paid, and we were scrambling down
the path from the look-out, "it was your ship that picked up the men on
board the Flying Scud, wasn't it?"

"You may say so," said he. "And a blessed good job for the Flying-Scuds.
It's a God-forsaken spot, that Midway Island."

"I've just come from there," said I. "It was I who bought the wreck."

"Beg your pardon, sir," cried the sailor: "gen'lem'n in the white

"The same," said I.

My friend saluted, as though we were now, for the first time, formally

"Of course," I continued, "I am rather taken up with the whole story;
and I wish you would tell me what you can of how the men were saved."

"It was like this," said he. "We had orders to call at Midway after
castaways, and had our distance pretty nigh run down the day before.
We steamed half-speed all night, looking to make it about noon; for old
Tootles--beg your pardon, sir--the captain--was precious scared of the
place at night. Well, there's nasty, filthy currents round that Midway;
YOU know, as has been there; and one on 'em must have set us down.
Leastways, about six bells, when we had ought to been miles away, some
one sees a sail, and lo and be'old, there was the spars of a full-rigged
brig! We raised her pretty fast, and the island after her; and made out
she was hard aground, canted on her bilge, and had her ens'n flying,
union down. It was breaking 'igh on the reef, and we laid well out, and
sent a couple of boats. I didn't go in neither; only stood and looked
on; but it seems they was all badly scared and muddled, and didn't know
which end was uppermost. One on 'em kep' snivelling and wringing of his
'ands; he come on board all of a sop like a monthly nurse. That Trent,
he come first, with his 'and in a bloody rag. I was near 'em as I am to
you; and I could make out he was all to bits--'eard his breath rattle
in his blooming lungs as he come down the ladder. Yes, they was a scared
lot, small blame to 'em, I say! The next after Trent, come him as was

"Goddedaal!" I exclaimed.

"And a good name for him too," chuckled the man-o'-war's man, who
probably confounded the word with a familiar oath. "A good name
too; only it weren't his. He was a gen'lem'n born, sir, as had gone
maskewerading. One of our officers knowed him at 'ome, reckonises him,
steps up, 'olds out his 'and right off, and says he: ''Ullo, Norrie,
old chappie!' he says. The other was coming up, as bold as look at it;
didn't seem put out--that's where blood tells, sir! Well, no sooner does
he 'ear his born name given him, than he turns as white as the Day of
Judgment, stares at Mr. Sebright like he was looking at a ghost, and
then (I give you my word of honour) turned to, and doubled up in a dead
faint. 'Take him down to my berth,' says Mr. Sebright. ''Tis poor old
Norrie Carthew,' he says."

"And what--what sort of a gentleman was this Mr. Carthew?" I gasped.

"The ward-room steward told me he was come of the best blood in
England," was my friend's reply: "Eton and 'Arrow bred;--and might have
been a bar'net!"

"No, but to look at?" I corrected him.


"The same as you or me," was the uncompromising answer: "not much to
look at. I didn't know he was a gen'lem'n; but then, I never see him
cleaned up."

"How was that?" I cried. "O yes, I remember: he was sick all the way to
'Frisco, was he not?"

"Sick, or sorry, or something," returned my informant. "My belief, he
didn't hanker after showing up. He kep' close; the ward-room steward,
what took his meals in, told me he ate nex' to nothing; and he was
fetched ashore at 'Frisco on the quiet. Here was how it was. It seems
his brother had took and died, him as had the estate. This one had gone
in for his beer, by what I could make out; the old folks at 'ome had
turned rusty; no one knew where he had gone to. Here he was, slaving in
a merchant brig, shipwrecked on Midway, and packing up his duds for a
long voyage in a open boat. He comes on board our ship, and by God, here
he is a landed proprietor, and may be in Parliament to-morrow! It's no
less than natural he should keep dark: so would you and me in the same

"I daresay," said I. "But you saw more of the others?"

"To be sure," says he: "no 'arm in them from what I see. There was
one 'Ardy there: colonial born he was, and had been through a power of
money. There was no nonsense about 'Ardy; he had been up, and he had
come down, and took it so. His 'eart was in the right place; and he was
well-informed, and knew French; and Latin, I believe, like a native! I
liked that 'Ardy; he was a good-looking boy, too."

"Did they say much about the wreck?" I asked.

"There wasn't much to say, I reckon," replied the man-o'-war's man. "It
was all in the papers. 'Ardy used to yarn most about the coins he had
gone through; he had lived with book-makers, and jockeys, and pugs, and
actors, and all that: a precious low lot!" added this judicious person.
"But it's about here my 'orse is moored, and by your leave I'll be
getting ahead."

"One moment," said I. "Is Mr. Sebright on board?"

"No, sir, he's ashore to-day," said the sailor. "I took up a bag for him
to the 'otel."

With that we parted. Presently after my friend overtook and passed me on
a hired steed which seemed to scorn its cavalier; and I was left in the
dust of his passage, a prey to whirling thoughts. For I now stood, or
seemed to stand, on the immediate threshold of these mysteries. I knew
the name of the man Dickson--his name was Carthew; I knew where the
money came from that opposed us at the sale--it was part of Carthew's
inheritance; and in my gallery of illustrations to the history of the
wreck, one more picture hung; perhaps the most dramatic of the series.
It showed me the deck of a warship in that distant part of the great
ocean, the officers and seamen looking curiously on; and a man of birth
and education, who had been sailing under an alias on a trading brig,
and was now rescued from desperate peril, felled like an ox by the
bare sound of his own name. I could not fail to be reminded of my
own experience at the Occidental telephone. The hero of three styles,
Dickson, Goddedaal, or Carthew, must be the owner of a lively--or a
loaded--conscience, and the reflection recalled to me the photograph
found on board the Flying Scud; just such a man, I reasoned, would be
capable of just such starts and crises, and I inclined to think that
Goddedaal (or Carthew) was the mainspring of the mystery.

One thing was plain: as long as the Tempest was in reach, I must make
the acquaintance of both Sebright and the doctor. To this end, I excused
myself with Mr. Fowler, returned to Honolulu, and passed the remainder
of the day hanging vainly round the cool verandahs of the hotel. It was
near nine o'clock at night before I was rewarded.

"That is the gentleman you were asking for," said the clerk.

I beheld a man in tweeds, of an incomparable languor of demeanour, and
carrying a cane with genteel effort. From the name, I had looked to find
a sort of Viking and young ruler of the battle and the tempest; and I
was the more disappointed, and not a little alarmed, to come face to
face with this impracticable type.

"I believe I have the pleasure of addressing Lieutenant Sebright," said
I, stepping forward.

"Aw, yes," replied the hero; "but, aw! I dawn't knaw you, do I?" (He
spoke for all the world like Lord Foppington in the old play--a proof of
the perennial nature of man's affectations. But his limping dialect, I
scorn to continue to reproduce.)


"It was with the intention of making myself known, that I have taken
this step," said I, entirely unabashed (for impudence begets in me its
like--perhaps my only martial attribute). "We have a common subject of
interest, to me very lively; and I believe I may be in a position to be
of some service to a friend of yours--to give him, at least, some very
welcome information."

The last clause was a sop to my conscience: I could not pretend, even
to myself, either the power or the will to serve Mr. Carthew; but I felt
sure he would like to hear the Flying Scud was burned.

"I don't know--I--I don't understand you," stammered my victim. "I don't
have any friends in Honolulu, don't you know?"

"The friend to whom I refer is English," I replied. "It is Mr. Carthew,
whom you picked up at Midway. My firm has bought the wreck; I am just
returned from breaking her up; and--to make my business quite clear to
you--I have a communication it is necessary I should make; and have to
trouble you for Mr. Carthew's address."

It will be seen how rapidly I had dropped all hope of interesting
the frigid British bear. He, on his side, was plainly on thorns at my
insistence; I judged he was suffering torments of alarm lest I should
prove an undesirable acquaintance; diagnosed him for a shy, dull, vain,
unamiable animal, without adequate defence--a sort of dishoused snail;
and concluded, rightly enough, that he would consent to anything to
bring our interview to a conclusion. A moment later, he had fled,
leaving me with a sheet of paper, thus inscribed:--

Norris Carthew,



I might have cried victory, the field of battle and some of the enemy's
baggage remaining in my occupation. As a matter of fact, my moral
sufferings during the engagement had rivalled those of Mr. Sebright; I
was left incapable of fresh hostilities; I owned that the navy of old
England was (for me) invincible as of yore; and giving up all thought of
the doctor, inclined to salute her veteran flag, in the future, from a
prudent distance. Such was my inclination, when I retired to rest; and
my first experience the next morning strengthened it to certainty. For I
had the pleasure of encountering my fair antagonist on his way on board;
and he honoured me with a recognition so disgustingly dry, that my
impatience overflowed, and (recalling the tactics of Nelson) I neglected
to perceive or to return it.

Judge of my astonishment, some half-hour later, to receive a note of
invitation from the Tempest.

"Dear Sir," it began, "we are all naturally very much interested in
the wreck of the Flying Scud, and as soon as I mentioned that I had the
pleasure of making your acquaintance, a very general wish was expressed
that you would come and dine on board. It will give us all the greatest
pleasure to see you to-night, or in case you should be otherwise
engaged, to luncheon either to-morrow or to-day." A note of the hours
followed, and the document wound up with the name of "J. Lascelles
Sebright," under an undeniable statement that he was sincerely mine.

"No, Mr. Lascelles Sebright," I reflected, "you are not, but I begin
to suspect that (like the lady in the song) you are another's. You have
mentioned your adventure, my friend; you have been blown up; you have
got your orders; this note has been dictated; and I am asked on board
(in spite of your melancholy protests) not to meet the men, and not
to talk about the Flying Scud, but to undergo the scrutiny of some one
interested in Carthew: the doctor, for a wager. And for a second wager,
all this springs from your facility in giving the address." I lost no
time in answering the billet, electing for the earliest occasion; and at
the appointed hour, a somewhat blackguard-looking boat's crew from the
Norah Creina conveyed me under the guns of the Tempest.

The ward-room appeared pleased to see me; Sebright's brother officers,
in contrast to himself, took a boyish interest in my cruise; and much
was talked of the Flying Scud; of how she had been lost, of how I had
found her, and of the weather, the anchorage, and the currents
about Midway Island. Carthew was referred to more than once without
embarrassment; the parallel case of a late Earl of Aberdeen, who died
mate on board a Yankee schooner, was adduced. If they told me little
of the man, it was because they had not much to tell, and only felt an
interest in his recognition and pity for his prolonged ill-health. I
could never think the subject was avoided; and it was clear that the
officers, far from practising concealment, had nothing to conceal.

So far, then, all seemed natural, and yet the doctor troubled me. This
was a tall, rugged, plain man, on the wrong side of fifty, already gray,
and with a restless mouth and bushy eyebrows: he spoke seldom, but then
with gaiety; and his great, quaking, silent laughter was infectious.
I could make out that he was at once the quiz of the ward-room and
perfectly respected; and I made sure that he observed me covertly. It is
certain I returned the compliment. If Carthew had feigned sickness--and
all seemed to point in that direction--here was the man who knew
all--or certainly knew much. His strong, sterling face progressively and
silently persuaded of his full knowledge. That was not the mouth, these
were not the eyes, of one who would act in ignorance, or could be led
at random. Nor again was it the face of a man squeamish in the case of
malefactors; there was even a touch of Brutus there, and something of
the hanging judge. In short, he seemed the last character for the part
assigned him in my theories; and wonder and curiosity contended in my

Luncheon was over, and an adjournment to the smoking-room proposed, when
(upon a sudden impulse) I burned my ships, and pleading indisposition,
requested to consult the doctor.

"There is nothing the matter with my body, Dr. Urquart," said I, as soon
as we were alone.

He hummed, his mouth worked, he regarded me steadily with his gray eyes,
but resolutely held his peace.


"I want to talk to you about the Flying Scud and Mr. Carthew," I
resumed. "Come: you must have expected this. I am sure you know all; you
are shrewd, and must have a guess that I know much. How are we to stand
to one another? and how am I to stand to Mr. Carthew?"

"I do not fully understand you," he replied, after a pause; and then,
after another: "It is the spirit I refer to, Mr. Dodd."

"The spirit of my inquiries?" I asked.

He nodded.


"I think we are at cross-purposes," said I. "The spirit is precisely
what I came in quest of. I bought the Flying Scud at a ruinous figure,
run up by Mr. Carthew through an agent; and I am, in consequence, a
bankrupt. But if I have found no fortune in the wreck, I have found
unmistakable evidences of foul play. Conceive my position: I am ruined
through this man, whom I never saw; I might very well desire revenge
or compensation; and I think you will admit I have the means to extort

He made no sign in answer to this challenge.

"Can you not understand, then," I resumed, "the spirit in which I come
to one who is surely in the secret, and ask him, honestly and plainly:
How do I stand to Mr. Carthew?"

"I must ask you to be more explicit," said he.

"You do not help me much," I retorted. "But see if you can understand:
my conscience is not very fine-spun; still, I have one. Now, there are
degrees of foul play, to some of which I have no particular objection.
I am sure with Mr. Carthew, I am not at all the person to forgo an
advantage; and I have much curiosity. But on the other hand, I have no
taste for persecution; and I ask you to believe that I am not the man to
make bad worse, or heap trouble on the unfortunate."

"Yes; I think I understand," said he. "Suppose I pass you my word that,
whatever may have occurred, there were excuses--great excuses--I may
say, very great?"

"It would have weight with me, doctor," I replied.

"I may go further," he pursued. "Suppose I had been there, or you had
been there: after a certain event had taken place, it's a grave question
what we might have done--it's even a question what we could have
done--ourselves. Or take me. I will be plain with you, and own that I am
in possession of the facts. You have a shrewd guess how I have acted in
that knowledge. May I ask you to judge from the character of my action,
something of the nature of that knowledge, which I have no call, nor yet
no title, to share with you?"

I cannot convey a sense of the rugged conviction and judicial emphasis
of Dr. Urquart's speech. To those who did not hear him, it may appear as
if he fed me on enigmas; to myself, who heard, I seemed to have received
a lesson and a compliment.

"I thank you," I said. "I feel you have said as much as possible, and
more than I had any right to ask. I take that as a mark of confidence,
which I will try to deserve. I hope, sir, you will let me regard you as
a friend."

He evaded my proffered friendship with a blunt proposal to rejoin the
mess; and yet a moment later, contrived to alleviate the snub. For, as
we entered the smoking-room, he laid his hand on my shoulder with a kind

"I have just prescribed for Mr. Dodd," says he, "a glass of our

I have never again met Dr. Urquart: but he wrote himself so clear
upon my memory that I think I see him still. And indeed I had cause to
remember the man for the sake of his communication. It was hard enough
to make a theory fit the circumstances of the Flying Scud; but one in
which the chief actor should stand the least excused, and might retain
the esteem or at least the pity of a man like Dr. Urquart, failed me
utterly. Here at least was the end of my discoveries; I learned no more,
till I learned all; and my reader has the evidence complete. Is he more
astute than I was? or, like me, does he give it up?






I have said hard words of San Francisco; they must scarce be literally
understood (one cannot suppose the Israelites did justice to the land of
Pharaoh); and the city took a fine revenge of me on my return. She had
never worn a more becoming guise; the sun shone, the air was lively, the
people had flowers in their button-holes and smiles upon their faces;
and as I made my way towards Jim's place of employment, with some very
black anxieties at heart, I seemed to myself a blot on the surrounding

My destination was in a by-street in a mean, rickety building; "The
Franklin H. Dodge Steam Printing Company" appeared upon its front, and
in characters of greater freshness, so as to suggest recent conversion,
the watch-cry, "White Labour Only." In the office, in a dusty pen,
Jim sat alone before a table. A wretched change had overtaken him in
clothes, body, and bearing; he looked sick and shabby; he who had once
rejoiced in his day's employment, like a horse among pastures, now sat
staring on a column of accounts, idly chewing a pen, at times heavily
sighing, the picture of inefficiency and inattention. He was sunk deep
in a painful reverie; he neither saw nor heard me; and I stood and
watched him unobserved. I had a sudden vain relenting. Repentance
bludgeoned me. As I had predicted to Nares, I stood and kicked myself.
Here was I come home again, my honour saved; there was my friend in want
of rest, nursing, and a generous diet; and I asked myself with Falstaff,
"What is in that word honour? what is that honour?" and, like Falstaff,
I told myself that it was air.

"Jim!" said I.

"Loudon!" he gasped, and jumped from his chair and stood shaking.

The next moment I was over the barrier, and we were hand in hand.

"My poor old man!" I cried.

"Thank God, you're home at last!" he gulped, and kept patting my
shoulder with his hand.

"I've no good news for you, Jim!" said I.

"You've come--that's the good news that I want," he replied. "O, how
I've longed for you, Loudon!"

"I couldn't do what you wrote me," I said, lowering my voice. "The
creditors have it all. I couldn't do it."

"Ssh!" returned Jim. "I was crazy when wrote. I could never have looked
Mamie in the face if we had done it. O, Loudon, what a gift that woman
is! You think you know something of life: you just don't know anything.
It's the GOODNESS of the woman, it's a revelation!"

"That's all right," said I. "That's how I hoped to hear you, Jim."

"And so the Flying Scud was a fraud," he resumed. "I didn't quite
understand your letter, but I made out that."

"Fraud is a mild term for it," said I. "The creditors will never believe
what fools we were. And that reminds me," I continued, rejoicing in the
transition, "how about the bankruptcy?"

"You were lucky to be out of that," answered Jim, shaking his head;
"you were lucky not to see the papers. The _Occidental_ called me a
fifth-rate Kerbstone broker with water on the brain; another said I was
a tree-frog that had got into the same meadow with Longhurst, and
had blown myself out till I went pop. It was rough on a man in his
honeymoon; so was what they said about my looks, and what I had on, and
the way I perspired. But I braced myself up with the Flying Scud. How
did it exactly figure out anyway? I don't seem to catch on to that
story, Loudon."

"The devil you don't!" thinks I to myself; and then aloud: "You see
we had neither one of us good luck. I didn't do much more than cover
current expenses; and you got floored immediately. How did we come to go
so soon?"

"Well, we'll have to have a talk over all this," said Jim with a sudden
start. "I should be getting to my books; and I guess you had better
go up right away to Mamie. She's at Speedy's. She expects you with
impatience. She regards you in the light of a favourite brother,

Any scheme was welcome which allowed me to postpone the hour of
explanation, and avoid (were it only for a breathing space) the topic
of the Flying Scud. I hastened accordingly to Bush Street. Mrs. Speedy,
already rejoicing in the return of a spouse, hailed me with acclamation.
"And it's beautiful you're looking, Mr. Dodd, my dear," she was kind
enough to say. "And a miracle they naygur waheenies let ye lave the
oilands. I have my suspicions of Shpeedy," she added, roguishly. "Did ye
see him after the naygresses now?"

I gave Speedy an unblemished character.

"The one of ye will niver bethray the other," said the playful dame, and
ushered me into a bare room, where Mamie sat working a type-writer.

I was touched by the cordiality of her greeting. With the prettiest
gesture in the world she gave me both her hands; wheeled forth a chair;
and produced, from a cupboard, a tin of my favourite tobacco, and a book
of my exclusive cigarette papers.

"There!" she cried; "you see, Mr. Loudon, we were all prepared for you;
the things were bought the very day you sailed."

I imagined she had always intended me a pleasant welcome; but the
certain fervour of sincerity, which I could not help remarking, flowed
from an unexpected source. Captain Nares, with a kindness for which
I can never be sufficiently grateful, had stolen a moment from his
occupations, driven to call on Mamie, and drawn her a generous picture
of my prowess at the wreck. She was careful not to breathe a word of
this interview, till she had led me on to tell my adventures for myself.

"Ah! Captain Nares was better," she cried, when I had done. "From your
account, I have only learned one new thing, that you are modest as well
as brave."

I cannot tell with what sort of disclamation I sought to reply.

"It is of no use," said Mamie. "I know a hero. And when I heard of you
working all day like a common labourer, with your hands bleeding and
your nails broken--and how you told the captain to 'crack on' (I think
he said) in the storm, when he was terrified himself--and the danger
of that horrid mutiny"--(Nares had been obligingly dipping his brush in
earthquake and eclipse)--"and how it was all done, in part at least, for
Jim and me--I felt we could never say how we admired and thanked you."

"Mamie," I cried, "don't talk of thanks; it is not a word to be used
between friends. Jim and I have been prosperous together; now we shall
be poor together. We've done our best, and that's all that need be said.
The next thing is for me to find a situation, and send you and Jim up
country for a long holiday in the redwoods--for a holiday Jim has got to

"Jim can't take your money, Mr. Loudon," said Mamie.

"Jim?" cried I. "He's got to. Didn't I take his?"

Presently after, Jim himself arrived, and before he had yet done mopping
his brow, he was at me with the accursed subject. "Now, Loudon," said
he, "here we are all together, the day's work done and the evening
before us; just start in with the whole story."

"One word on business first," said I, speaking from the lips outward,
and meanwhile (in the private apartments of my brain) trying for the
thousandth time to find some plausible arrangement of my story. "I want
to have a notion how we stand about the bankruptcy."

"O, that's ancient history," cried Jim. "We paid seven cents, and a
wonder we did as well. The receiver----" (methought a spasm seized him
at the name of this official, and he broke off). "But it's all past
and done with anyway; and what I want to get at is the facts about the
wreck. I don't seem to understand it; appears to me like as there was
something underneath."

"There was nothing IN it, anyway," I said, with a forced laugh.

"That's what I want to judge of," returned Jim.

"How the mischief is it I can never keep you to that bankruptcy? It
looks as if you avoided it," said I--for a man in my situation, with
unpardonable folly.

"Don't it look a little as if you were trying to avoid the wreck?" asked

It was my own doing; there was no retreat. "My dear fellow, if you make
a point of it, here goes!" said I, and launched with spurious gaiety
into the current of my tale. I told it with point and spirit; described
the island and the wreck, mimicked Anderson and the Chinese, maintained
the suspense.... My pen has stumbled on the fatal word. I maintained the
suspense so well that it was never relieved; and when I stopped--I dare
not say concluded, where there was no conclusion--I found Jim and Mamie
regarding me with surprise.

"Well?" said Jim.

"Well, that's all," said I.

"But how do you explain it?" he asked.

"I can't explain it," said I.


Mamie wagged her head ominously.

"But, great Caesar's ghost! the money was offered!" cried Jim. "It won't
do, Loudon; it's nonsense, on the face of it! I don't say but what you
and Nares did your best; I'm sure, of course, you did; but I do say, you
got fooled. I say the stuff is in that ship to-day, and I say I mean to
get it."

"There is nothing in the ship, I tell you, but old wood and iron!" said

"You'll see," said Jim. "Next time I go myself. I'll take Mamie for the
trip; Longhurst won't refuse me the expense of a schooner. You wait till
I get the searching of her."

"But you can't search her!" cried I. "She's burned."

"Burned!" cried Mamie, starting a little from the attitude of quiescent
capacity in which she had hitherto sat to hear me, her hands folded in
her lap.

There was an appreciable pause.

"I beg your pardon, Loudon," began Jim at last, "but why in snakes did
you burn her?"

"It was an idea of Nares's," said I.

"This is certainly the strangest circumstance of all," observed Mamie.

"I must say, Loudon, it does seem kind of unexpected," added Jim. "It
seems kind of crazy even. What did you--what did Nares expect to gain by
burning her?"

"I don't know; it didn't seem to matter; we had got all there was to
get," said I.

"That's the very point," cried Jim. "It was quite plain you hadn't."

"What made you so sure?" asked Mamie.

"How can I tell you?" I cried. "We had been all through her. We WERE
sure; that's all that I can say."


"I begin to think you were," she returned, with a significant emphasis.

Jim hurriedly intervened. "What I don't quite make out, Loudon, is that
you don't seem to appreciate the peculiarities of the thing," said he.
"It doesn't seem to have struck you same as it does me."

"Pshaw! why go on with this?" cried Mamie, suddenly rising. "Mr. Dodd is
not telling us either what he thinks or what he knows."

"Mamie!" cried Jim.

"You need not be concerned for his feelings, James; he is not concerned
for yours," returned the lady. "He dare not deny it, besides. And this
is not the first time he has practised reticence. Have you forgotten
that he knew the address, and did not tell it you until that man had

Jim turned to me pleadingly--we were all on our feet. "Loudon," he said,
"you see Mamie has some fancy; and I must say there's just a sort of a
shadow of an excuse; for it IS bewildering--even to me, Loudon, with my
trained business intelligence. For God's sake, clear it up."

"This serves me right," said I. "I should not have tried to keep you in
the dark; I should have told you at first that I was pledged to secrecy;
I should have asked you to trust me in the beginning. It is all I can
do now. There is more of the story, but it concerns none of us, and my
tongue is tied. I have given my word of honour. You must trust me and
try to forgive me."

"I daresay I am very stupid, Mr. Dodd," began Mamie, with an alarming
sweetness, "but I thought you went upon this trip as my husband's
representative and with my husband's money? You tell us now that you
are pledged, but I should have thought you were pledged first of all
to James. You say it does not concern us; we are poor people, and my
husband is sick, and it concerns us a great deal to understand how we
come to have lost our money, and why our representative comes back to
us with nothing. You ask that we should trust you; you do not seem to
understand; the question we are asking ourselves is whether we have not
trusted you too much."

"I do not ask you to trust me," I replied. "I ask Jim. He knows me."

"You think you can do what you please with James; you trust to his
affection, do you not? And me, I suppose, you do not consider," said
Mamie. "But it was perhaps an unfortunate day for you when we were
married, for I at least am not blind. The crew run away, the ship is
sold for a great deal of money, you know that man's address and you
conceal it, you do not find what you were sent to look for, and yet you
burn the ship; and now, when we ask explanations, you are pledged to
secrecy! But I am pledged to no such thing; I will not stand by in
silence and see my sick and ruined husband betrayed by his condescending
friend. I will give you the truth for once. Mr. Dodd, you have been
bought and sold."

"Mamie," cried Jim, "no more of this! It's me you're striking; it's only
me you hurt. You don't know, you cannot understand these things. Why,
to-day, if it hadn't been for Loudon, I couldn't have looked you in the
face. He saved my honesty."

"I have heard plenty of this talk before," she replied. "You are a
sweet-hearted fool, and I love you for it. But I am a clear-headed
woman; my eyes are open, and I understand this man's hypocrisy. Did he
not come here to-day and pretend he would take a situation--pretend he
would share his hard-earned wages with us until you were well? Pretend!
It makes me furious! His wages! a share of his wages! That would have
been your pittance, that would have been your share of the Flying
Scud--you who worked and toiled for him when he was a beggar in the
streets of Paris. But we do not want your charity; thank God, I can work
for my own husband! See what it is to have obliged a gentleman. He would
let you pick him up when he was begging; he would stand and look on, and
let you black his shoes, and sneer at you. For you were always sneering
at my James; you always looked down upon him in your heart, you know
it!" She turned back to Jim. "And now when he is rich," she began, and
then swooped again on me. "For you are rich, I dare you to deny it; I
defy you to look me in the face and try to deny that you are rich--rich
with our money--my husband's money----"

Heaven knows to what a height she might have risen, being, by this time,
bodily whirled away in her own hurricane of words. Heart-sickness,
a black depression, a treacherous sympathy with my assailant, pity
unutterable for poor Jim, already filled, divided, and abashed my
spirit. Flight seemed the only remedy; and making a private sign to Jim,
as if to ask permission, I slunk from the unequal field.

I was but a little way down the street, when I was arrested by the sound
of some one running, and Jim's voice calling me by name. He had followed
me with a letter which had been long awaiting my return.

I took it in a dream. "This has been a devil of a business," said I.

"Don't think hard of Mamie," he pleaded. "It's the way she's made; it's
her high-toned loyalty. And of course I know it's all right. I know your
sterling character; but you didn't, somehow, make out to give us the
thing straight, Loudon. Anybody might have--I mean it--I mean----"

"Never mind what you mean, my poor Jim," said I. "She's a gallant little
woman and a loyal wife: and I thought her splendid. My story was as
fishy as the devil. I'll never think the less of either her or you."

"It'll blow over; it must blow over," said he.

"It never can," I returned, sighing: "and don't you try to make it!
Don't name me, unless it's with an oath. And get home to her right away.
Good by, my best of friends. Good by, and God bless you. We shall never
meet again."

"O Loudon, that we should live to say such words!" he cried.

I had no views on life, beyond an occasional impulse to commit suicide,
or to get drunk, and drifted down the street, semi-conscious, walking
apparently on air, in the light-headedness of grief. I had money in my
pocket, whether mine or my creditors' I had no means of guessing; and,
the Poodle Dog lying in my path, I went mechanically in and took
a table. A waiter attended me, and I suppose I gave my orders; for
presently I found myself, with a sudden return of consciousness,
beginning dinner. On the white cloth at my elbow lay the letter,
addressed in a clerk's hand, and bearing an English stamp and the
Edinburgh postmark. A bowl of bouillon and a glass of wine awakened in
one corner of my brain (where all the rest was in mourning, the blinds
down as for a funeral) a faint stir of curiosity; and while I waited the
next course, wondering the while what I had ordered, I opened and began
to read the epoch-making document.

"DEAR SIR: I am charged with the melancholy duty of announcing to you
the death of your excellent grandfather, Mr. Alexander Loudon, on
the 17th ult. On Sunday the 13th, he went to church as usual in the
forenoon, and stopped on his way home, at the corner of Princes Street,
in one of our seasonable east winds, to talk with an old friend. The
same evening acute bronchitis declared itself; from the first, Dr.
M'Combie anticipated a fatal result, and the old gentleman appeared to
have no illusion as to his own state. He repeatedly assured me it
was 'by' with him now; 'and high time, too,' he once added with
characteristic asperity. He was not in the least changed on the approach
of death: only (what I am sure must be very grateful to your feelings)
he seemed to think and speak even more kindly than usual of yourself:
referring to you as 'Jeannie's yin,' with strong expressions of regard.
'He was the only one I ever liket of the hale jing-bang,' was one of his
expressions; and you will be glad to know that he dwelt particularly
on the dutiful respect you had always displayed in your relations.
The small codicil, by which he bequeaths you his Molesworth and other
professional works, was added (you will observe) on the day before his
death; so that you were in his thoughts until the end. I should say
that, though rather a trying patient, he was most tenderly nursed by
your uncle, and your cousin, Miss Euphemia. I enclose a copy of the
testament, by which you will see that you share equally with Mr. Adam,
and that I hold at your disposal a sum nearly approaching seventeen
thousand pounds. I beg to congratulate you on this considerable
acquisition, and expect your orders, to which I shall hasten to give my
best attention. Thinking that you might desire to return at once to this
country, and not knowing how you may be placed, I enclose a credit for
six hundred pounds. Please sign the accompanying slip, and let me have
it at your earliest convenience.

"I am, dear sir, yours truly,


"God bless the old gentleman!" I thought; "and for that matter God bless
Uncle Adam! and my cousin Euphemia! and Mr. Gregg!" I had a vision of
that grey old life now brought to an end--"and high time too"--a vision
of those Sabbath streets alternately vacant and filled with silent
people; of the babel of the bells, the long-drawn psalmody, the shrewd
sting of the east wind, the hollow, echoing, dreary house to which
"Ecky" had returned with the hand of death already on his shoulder; a
vision, too, of the long, rough country lad, perhaps a serious courtier
of the lasses in the hawthorn den, perhaps a rustic dancer on the green,
who had first earned and answered to that harsh diminutive. And I asked
myself if, on the whole, poor Ecky had succeeded in life; if the last
state of that man were not on the whole worse than the first; and the
house in Randolph Crescent a less admirable dwelling than the hamlet
where he saw the day and grew to manhood. Here was a consolatory thought
for one who was himself a failure.

Yes, I declare the word came in my mind; and all the while, in another
partition of the brain, I was glowing and singing for my new-found
opulence. The pile of gold--four thousand two hundred and fifty double
eagles, seventeen thousand ugly sovereigns, twenty-one thousand two
hundred and fifty Napoleons--danced, and rang and ran molten, and lit
up life with their effulgence, in the eye of fancy. Here were all things
made plain to me: Paradise--Paris, I mean--Regained, Carthew protected,
Jim restored, the creditors...

"The creditors!" I repeated, and sank back benumbed. It was all theirs
to the last farthing: my grandfather had died too soon to save me.

I must have somewhere a rare vein of decision. In that revolutionary
moment, I found myself prepared for all extremes except the one: ready
to do anything, or to go anywhere, so long as I might save my money.
At the worst, there was flight, flight to some of those blest countries
where the serpent, extradition, has not yet entered in.

On no condition is extradition
Allowed in Callao!

--the old lawless words haunted me; and I saw myself hugging my gold in
the company of such men as had once made and sung them, in the rude
and bloody wharfside drinking-shops of Chili and Peru. The run of my
ill-luck, the breach of my old friendship, this bubble fortune flaunted
for a moment in my eyes and snatched again, had made me desperate and
(in the expressive vulgarism) ugly. To drink vile spirits among vile
companions by the flare of a pine-torch; to go burthened with my furtive
treasure in a belt; to fight for it knife in hand, rolling on a clay
floor; to flee perpetually in fresh ships and to be chased through
the sea from isle to isle, seemed, in my then frame of mind, a welcome
series of events.

That was for the worst; but it began to dawn slowly on my mind that
there was yet a possible better. Once escaped, once safe in Callao, I
might approach my creditors with a good grace; and properly handled by
a cunning agent, it was just possible they might accept some easy
composition. The hope recalled me to the bankruptcy. It was strange, I
reflected: often as I had questioned Jim, he had never obliged me
with an answer. In his haste for news about the wreck, my own no less
legitimate curiosity had gone disappointed. Hateful as the thought was
to me, I must return at once and find out where I stood.

I left my dinner still unfinished, paying for the whole, of course, and
tossing the waiter a gold piece. I was reckless; I knew not what was
mine and cared not: I must take what I could get and give as I was able;
to rob and to squander seemed the complementary parts of my new destiny.
I walked up Bush Street, whistling, brazening myself to confront Mamie
in the first place, and the world at large and a certain visionary judge
upon a bench in the second. Just outside, I stopped and lighted a cigar
to give me greater countenance; and puffing this and wearing what (I
am sure) was a wretched assumption of braggadocio, I reappeared on the
scene of my disgrace.

My friend and his wife were finishing a poor meal--rags of old mutton,
the remainder cakes from breakfast eaten cold, and a starveling pot of

"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Pinkerton," said I. "Sorry to inflict my
presence where it cannot be desired; but there is a piece of business
necessary to be discussed."

"Pray do not consider me," said Mamie, rising, and she sailed into the
adjoining bedroom.

Jim watched her go and shook his head; he looked miserably old and ill.

"What is it, now?" he asked.

"Perhaps you remember you answered none of my questions," said I.


"Your questions?" faltered Jim.

"Even so, Jim. My questions," I repeated. "I put questions as well as
yourself; and however little I may have satisfied Mamie with my answers,
I beg to remind you that you gave me none at all."

"You mean about the bankruptcy?" asked Jim.

I nodded.

He writhed in his chair. "The straight truth is, I was ashamed," he
said. "I was trying to dodge you. I've been playing fast and loose with
you, Loudon; I've deceived you from the first, I blush to own it. And
here you came home and put the very question I was fearing. Why did we
bust so soon? Your keen business eye had not deceived you. That's the
point, that's my shame; that's what killed me this afternoon when Mamie
was treating you so, and my conscience was telling me all the time, Thou
art the man."

"What was it, Jim?" I asked.

"What I had been at all the time, Loudon," he wailed; "and I don't know
how I'm to look you in the face and say it, after my duplicity. It was
stocks," he added in a whisper.

"And you were afraid to tell me that!" I cried. "You poor, old,
cheerless dreamer! what would it matter what you did or didn't? Can't
you see we're doomed? And anyway, that's not my point. It's how I stand
that I want to know. There is a particular reason. Am I clear? Have I a
certificate, or what have I to do to get one? And when will it be dated?
You can't think what hangs by it!"

"That's the worst of all," said Jim, like a man in a dream, "I can't see
how to tell him!"

"What do you mean?" I cried, a small pang of terror at my heart.

"I'm afraid I sacrificed you, Loudon," he said, looking at me pitifully.

"Sacrificed me?" I repeated. "How? What do you mean by sacrifice?"

"I know it'll shock your delicate self-respect," he said; "but what was
I to do? Things looked so bad. The receiver----" (as usual, the name
stuck in his throat, and he began afresh). "There was a lot of talk; the
reporters were after me already; there was the trouble and all about
the Mexican business; and I got scared right out, and I guess I lost my
head. You weren't there, you see, and that was my temptation."

I did not know how long he might thus beat about the bush with dreadful
hintings, and I was already beside myself with terror. What had he done?
I saw he had been tempted; I knew from his letters that he was in no
condition to resist. How had he sacrificed the absent?

"Jim," I said, "you must speak right out. I've got all that I can

"Well," he said--"I know it was a liberty--I made it out you were no
business man, only a stone-broke painter; that half the time you didn't
know anything anyway, particularly money and accounts. I said you never
could be got to understand whose was whose. I had to say that because of
some entries in the books----"

"For God's sake," I cried, "put me out of this agony! What did you
accuse me of?"

"Accuse you of?" repeated Jim. "Of what I'm telling you. And there being
no deed of partnership, I made out you were only a kind of clerk that
I called a partner just to give you taffy; and so I got you ranked
a creditor on the estate for your wages and the money you had lent.

I believe I reeled. "A creditor!" I roared; "a creditor! I'm not in the
bankruptcy at all?"

"No," said Jim. "I know it was a liberty----"

"O, damn your liberty! read that," I cried, dashing the letter before
him on the table, "and call in your wife, and be done with eating this
truck "--as I spoke, I slung the cold mutton in the empty grate--"and
let's all go and have a champagne supper. I've dined--I'm sure I don't
remember what I had; I'd dine again ten scores of times upon a night
like this. Read it, you blaying ass! I'm not insane. Here, Mamie," I
continued, opening the bedroom door, "come out and make it up with me,
and go and kiss your husband; and I'll tell you what, after the supper,
let's go to some place where there's a band, and I'll waltz with you
till sunrise."

"What does it all mean?" cried Jim.

"It means we have a champagne supper to-night, and all go to Napa Valley
or to Monterey to-morrow," said I. "Mamie, go and get your things on;
and you, Jim, sit down right where you are, take a sheet of paper, and
tell Franklin Dodge to go to Texas. Mamie, you were right, my dear; I
was rich all the time, and didn't know it."






The absorbing and disastrous adventure of the Flying Scud was now quite
ended; we had dashed into these deep waters and we had escaped again to
starve, we had been ruined and were saved, had quarrelled and made up;
there remained nothing but to sing Te Deum, draw a line, and begin on a
fresh page of my unwritten diary. I do not pretend that I recovered all
I had lost with Mamie; it would have been more than I had merited; and
I had certainly been more uncommunicative than became either the partner
or the friend. But she accepted the position handsomely; and during
the week that I now passed with them, both she and Jim had the grace
to spare me questions. It was to Calistoga that we went; there was
some rumour of a Napa land-boom at the moment, the possibility of stir
attracted Jim, and he informed me he would find a certain joy in looking
on, much as Napoleon on St. Helena took a pleasure to read military
works. The field of his ambition was quite closed; he was done with
action; and looked forward to a ranch in a mountain dingle, a patch of
corn, a pair of kine, a leisurely and contemplative age in the green
shade of forests. "Just let me get down on my back in a hayfield," said
he, "and you'll find there's no more snap to me than that much putty."

And for two days the perfervid being actually rested. The third, he was
observed in consultation with the local editor, and owned he was in two
minds about purchasing the press and paper. "It's a kind of a hold for
an idle man," he said, pleadingly; "and if the section was to open up
the way it ought to, there might be dollars in the thing." On the fourth
day he was gone till dinner-time alone; on the fifth we made a long
picnic drive to the fresh field of enterprise; and the sixth was passed
entirely in the preparation of prospectuses. The pioneer of McBride City
was already upright and self-reliant as of yore; the fire rekindled in
his eye, the ring restored to his voice; a charger sniffing battle and
saying ha-ha, among the spears. On the seventh morning we signed a deed
of partnership, for Jim would not accept a dollar of my money otherwise;
and having once more engaged myself--or that mortal part of me, my
purse--among the wheels of his machinery, I returned alone to San
Francisco and took quarters in the Palace Hotel.

The same night I had Nares to dinner. His sunburnt face, his queer and
personal strain of talk, recalled days that were scarce over and that
seemed already distant. Through the music of the band outside, and the
chink and clatter of the dining-room, it seemed to me as if I heard the
foaming of the surf and the voices of the sea-birds about Midway Island.
The bruises on our hands were not yet healed; and there we sat, waited
on by elaborate darkies, eating pompano and drinking iced champagne.

"Think of our dinners on the Norah, captain, and then oblige me by
looking round the room for contrast."

He took the scene in slowly. "Yes, it is like a dream," he said: "like
as if the darkies were really about as big as dimes; and a great big
scuttle might open up there, and Johnson stick in a great big head and
shoulders, and cry, 'Eight bells!'--and the whole thing vanish."

"Well, it's the other thing that has done that," I replied. "It's all
bygone now, all dead and buried. Amen! say I."

"I don't know that, Mr. Dodd; and to tell you the fact, I don't believe
it," said Nares. "There's more Flying Scud in the oven; and the baker's
name, I take it, is Bellairs. He tackled me the day we came in: sort of
a razee of poor old humanity--jury clothes--full new suit of pimples:
knew him at once from your description. I let him pump me till I saw his
game. He knows a good deal that we don't know, a good deal that we do,
and suspects the balance. There's trouble brewing for somebody."

I was surprised I had not thought of this before. Bellairs had been
behind the scenes; he had known Dickson; he knew the flight of the crew;
it was hardly possible but what he should suspect; it was certain if
he suspected, that he would seek to trade on the suspicion. And sure
enough, I was not yet dressed the next morning ere the lawyer was
knocking at my door. I let him in, for I was curious; and he, after some
ambiguous prolegomena, roundly proposed I should go shares with him.

"Shares in what?" I inquired.

"If you will allow me to clothe my idea in a somewhat vulgar form," said
he, "I might ask you, did you go to Midway for your health?"

"I don't know that I did," I replied.

"Similarly, Mr. Dodd, you may be sure I would never have taken
the present step without influential grounds," pursued the lawyer.
"Intrusion is foreign to my character. But you and I, sir, are engaged
on the same ends. If we can continue to work the thing in company,
I place at your disposal my knowledge of the law and a considerable
practice in delicate negotiations similar to this. Should you refuse to
consent, you might find in me a formidable and"--he hesitated--"and to
my own regret, perhaps a dangerous competitor."

"Did you get this by heart?" I asked, genially.

"I advise YOU to!" he said, with a sudden sparkle of temper and menace,
instantly gone, instantly succeeded by fresh cringing. "I assure
you, sir, I arrive in the character of a friend; and I believe you
underestimate my information. If I may instance an example, I am
acquainted to the last dime with what you made (or rather lost), and I
know you have since cashed a considerable draft on London."

"What do you infer?" I asked.

"I know where that draft came from," he cried, wincing back like one who
has greatly dared, and instantly regrets the venture.

"So?" said I.

"You forget I was Mr. Dickson's confidential agent," he explained. "You
had his address, Mr. Dodd. We were the only two that he communicated
with in San Francisco. You see my deductions are quite obvious: you
see how open and frank I deal with you, as I should wish to do with
any gentleman with whom I was conjoined in business. You see how much
I know; and it can scarcely escape your strong common-sense, how much
better it would be if I knew all. You cannot hope to get rid of me at
this time of day, I have my place in the affair, I cannot be shaken off;
I am, if you will excuse a rather technical pleasantry, an encumbrance
on the estate. The actual harm I can do, I leave you to valuate for
yourself. But without going so far, Mr. Dodd, and without in any way
inconveniencing myself, I could make things very uncomfortable. For
instance, Mr. Pinkerton's liquidation. You and I know, sir--and you
better than I--on what a large fund you draw. Is Mr. Pinkerton in
the thing at all? It was you only who knew the address, and you were
concealing it. Suppose I should communicate with Mr. Pinkerton----"

"Look here!" I interrupted, "communicate with him (if you will permit
me to clothe my idea in a vulgar shape) till you are blue in the face.
There is only one person with whom I refuse to allow you to communicate
further, and that is myself. Good morning."

He could not conceal his rage, disappointment, and surprise; and in the
passage (I have no doubt) was shaken by St. Vitus.

I was disgusted by this interview; it struck me hard to be suspected
on all hands, and to hear again from this trafficker what I had heard
already from Jim's wife; and yet my strongest impression was different
and might rather be described as an impersonal fear. There was something
against nature in the man's craven impudence; it was as though a lamb
had butted me; such daring at the hands of such a dastard, implied
unchangeable resolve, a great pressure of necessity, and powerful means.
I thought of the unknown Carthew, and it sickened me to see this ferret
on his trail.

Upon inquiry I found the lawyer was but just disbarred for some
malpractice; and the discovery added excessively to my disquiet. Here
was a rascal without money or the means of making it, thrust out of the
doors of his own trade, publicly shamed, and doubtless in a deuce of a
bad temper with the universe. Here, on the other hand, was a man with a
secret; rich, terrified, practically in hiding; who had been willing
to pay ten thousand pounds for the bones of the Flying Scud. I slipped
insensibly into a mental alliance with the victim; the business weighed
on me; all day long, I was wondering how much the lawyer knew, how much
he guessed, and when he would open his attack.

Some of these problems are unsolved to this day; others were soon made
clear. Where he got Carthew's name is still a mystery; perhaps some
sailor on the Tempest, perhaps my own sea-lawyer served him for a tool;
but I was actually at his elbow when he learned the address. It fell
so. One evening, when I had an engagement and was killing time until the
hour, I chanced to walk in the court of the hotel while the band played.
The place was bright as day with the electric light; and I recognised,
at some distance among the loiterers, the person of Bellairs in talk
with a gentleman whose face appeared familiar. It was certainly some one
I had seen, and seen recently; but who or where, I knew not. A porter
standing hard by, gave me the necessary hint. The stranger was an
English navy man, invalided home from Honolulu, where he had left his
ship; indeed, it was only from the change of clothes and the effects
of sickness, that I had not immediately recognised my friend and
correspondent, Lieutenant Sebright.

The conjunction of these planets seeming ominous, I drew near; but it
seemed Bellairs had done his business; he vanished in the crowd, and I
found my officer alone.

"Do you know whom you have been talking to, Mr. Sebright?" I began.

"No," said he; "I don't know him from Adam. Anything wrong?"

"He is a disreputable lawyer, recently disbarred," said I. "I wish I had
seen you in time. I trust you told him nothing about Carthew?"

He flushed to his ears. "I'm awfully sorry," he said. "He seemed civil,
and I wanted to get rid of him. It was only the address he asked."

"And you gave it?" I cried.

"I'm really awfully sorry," said Sebright. "I'm afraid I did."

"God forgive you!" was my only comment, and I turned my back upon the

The fat was in the fire now: Bellairs had the address, and I was the
more deceived or Carthew would have news of him. So strong was this
impression, and so painful, that the next morning I had the curiosity to
pay the lawyer's den a visit. An old woman was scrubbing the stair, and
the board was down.

"Lawyer Bellairs?" said the old woman. "Gone East this morning. There's
Lawyer Dean next block up."

I did not trouble Lawyer Dean, but walked slowly back to my hotel,
ruminating as I went. The image of the old woman washing that desecrated
stair had struck my fancy; it seemed that all the water-supply of the
city and all the soap in the State would scarce suffice to cleanse it,
it had been so long a clearing-house of dingy secrets and a factory
of sordid fraud. And now the corner was untenanted; some judge, like a
careful housewife, had knocked down the web, and the bloated spider was
scuttling elsewhere after new victims. I had of late (as I have said)
insensibly taken sides with Carthew; now when his enemy was at his
heels, my interest grew more warm; and I began to wonder if I could not
help. The drama of the Flying Scud was entering on a new phase. It had
been singular from the first: it promised an extraordinary conclusion;
and I, who had paid so much to learn the beginning, might pay a little
more and see the end. I lingered in San Francisco, indemnifying myself
after the hardships of the cruise, spending money, regretting it,
continually promising departure for the morrow. Why not go indeed, and
keep a watch upon Bellairs? If I missed him, there was no harm done, I
was the nearer Paris. If I found and kept his trail, it was hard if
I could not put some stick in his machinery, and at the worst I could
promise myself interesting scenes and revelations.

In such a mixed humour, I made up what it pleases me to call my mind,
and once more involved myself in the story of Carthew and the Flying
Scud. The same night I wrote a letter of farewell to Jim, and one of
anxious warning to Dr. Urquart begging him to set Carthew on his guard;
the morrow saw me in the ferry-boat; and ten days later, I was walking
the hurricane deck on the City of Denver. By that time my mind was
pretty much made down again, its natural condition: I told myself that
I was bound for Paris or Fontainebleau to resume the study of the arts;
and I thought no more of Carthew or Bellairs, or only to smile at my own
fondness. The one I could not serve, even if I wanted; the other I had
no means of finding, even if I could have at all influenced him after he
was found.

And for all that, I was close on the heels of an absurd adventure. My
neighbour at table that evening was a 'Frisco man whom I knew slightly.
I found he had crossed the plains two days in front of me, and this was
the first steamer that had left New York for Europe since his arrival.
Two days before me meant a day before Bellairs; and dinner was scarce
done before I was closeted with the purser.

"Bellairs?" he repeated. "Not in the saloon, I am sure. He may be in
the second class. The lists are not made out, but--Hullo! 'Harry D.
Bellairs?' That the name? He's there right enough."

And the next morning I saw him on the forward deck, sitting in a chair,
a book in his hand, a shabby puma skin rug about his knees: the picture
of respectable decay. Off and on, I kept him in my eye. He read a good
deal, he stood and looked upon the sea, he talked occasionally with his
neighbours, and once when a child fell he picked it up and soothed it. I
damned him in my heart; the book, which I was sure he did not read--the
sea, to which I was ready to take oath he was indifferent--the child,
whom I was certain he would as lieve have tossed overboard--all seemed
to me elements in a theatrical performance; and I made no doubt he was
already nosing after the secrets of his fellow-passengers. I took no
pains to conceal myself, my scorn for the creature being as strong as my
disgust. But he never looked my way, and it was night before I learned
he had observed me.

I was smoking by the engine-room door, for the air was a little sharp,
when a voice rose close beside me in the darkness.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Dodd," it said.

"That you, Bellairs?" I replied.

"A single word, sir. Your presence on this ship has no connection with
our interview?" he asked. "You have no idea, Mr. Dodd, of returning upon
your determination?"

"None," said I; and then, seeing he still lingered, I was polite enough
to add "Good evening;" at which he sighed and went away.


The next day, he was there again with the chair and the puma skin; read
his book and looked at the sea with the same constancy; and though there
was no child to be picked up, I observed him to attend repeatedly on a
sick woman. Nothing fosters suspicion like the act of watching; a man
spied upon can hardly blow his nose but we accuse him of designs; and
I took an early opportunity to go forward and see the woman for myself.
She was poor, elderly, and painfully plain; I stood abashed at the
sight, felt I owed Bellairs amends for the injustice of my thoughts, and
seeing him standing by the rail in his usual attitude of contemplation,
walked up and addressed him by name.

"You seem very fond of the sea," said I.

"I may really call it a passion, Mr. Dodd," he replied. "And the tall
cataract haunted me like a passion," he quoted. "I never weary of
the sea, sir. This is my first ocean voyage. I find it a glorious
experience." And once more my disbarred lawyer dropped into poetry:
"Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll!"

Though I had learned the piece in my reading-book at school, I came into
the world a little too late on the one hand--and I daresay a little
too early on the other--to think much of Byron; and the sonorous verse,
prodigiously well delivered, struck me with surprise.

"You are fond of poetry, too?" I asked.

"I am a great reader," he replied. "At one time I had begun to amass
quite a small but well selected library; and when that was scattered, I
still managed to preserve a few volumes--chiefly of pieces designed for
recitation--which have been my travelling companions."

"Is that one of them?" I asked, pointing to the volume in his hand.

"No, sir," he replied, showing me a translation of the _Sorrows of
Werther_, "that is a novel I picked up some time ago. It has afforded me
great pleasure, though immoral."

"O, immoral!" cried I, indignant as usual at any complication of art and


"Surely you cannot deny that, sir--if you know the book," he said. "The
passion is illicit, although certainly drawn with a good deal of pathos.
It is not a work one could possibly put into the hands of a lady; which
is to be regretted on all accounts, for I do not know how it may strike
you; but it seems to me--as a depiction, if I make myself clear--to rise
high above its compeers--even famous compeers. Even in Scott, Dickens,
Thackeray, or Hawthorne, the sentiment of love appears to me to be
frequently done less justice to."

"You are expressing a very general opinion," said I.

"Is that so, indeed, sir?" he exclaimed, with unmistakable excitement.
"Is the book well known? and who was GO-EATH? I am interested in that,
because upon the title-page the usual initials are omitted, and it runs
simply 'by GO-EATH.' Was he an author of distinction? Has he written
other works?"

Such was our first interview, the first of many; and in all he showed
the same attractive qualities and defects. His taste for literature
was native and unaffected; his sentimentality, although extreme and a
thought ridiculous, was plainly genuine. I wondered at my own innocent
wonder. I knew that Homer nodded, that Caesar had compiled a jest-book,
that Turner lived by preference the life of Puggy Booth, that Shelley
made paper boats, and Wordsworth wore green spectacles! and with all
this mass of evidence before me, I had expected Bellairs to be entirely
of one piece, subdued to what he worked in, a spy all through. As I
abominated the man's trade, so I had expected to detest the man himself;
and behold, I liked him. Poor devil! he was essentially a man on wires,
all sensibility and tremor, brimful of a cheap poetry, not without
parts, quite without courage. His boldness was despair; the gulf behind
him thrust him on; he was one of those who might commit a murder rather
than confess the theft of a postage-stamp. I was sure that his coming
interview with Carthew rode his imagination like a nightmare; when the
thought crossed his mind, I used to think I knew of it, and that the
qualm appeared in his face visibly. Yet he would never flinch: necessity
stalking at his back, famine (his old pursuer) talking in his ear; and I
used to wonder whether I most admired, or most despised, this quivering
heroism for evil. The image that occurred to me after his visit was
just; I had been butted by a lamb; and the phase of life that I was now
studying might be called the Revolt of a Sheep.

It could be said of him that he had learned in sorrow what he taught in
song--or wrong; and his life was that of one of his victims. He was born
in the back parts of the State of New York; his father a farmer, who
became subsequently bankrupt and went West. The lawyer and money-lender
who had ruined this poor family seems to have conceived in the end a
feeling of remorse; he turned the father out indeed, but he offered,
in compensation, to charge himself with one of the sons: and Harry, the
fifth child and already sickly, was chosen to be left behind. He made
himself useful in the office; picked up the scattered rudiments of an
education; read right and left; attended and debated at the Young Men's
Christian Association; and in all his early years, was the model for a
good story-book. His landlady's daughter was his bane. He showed me
her photograph; she was a big, handsome, dashing, dressy, vulgar hussy,
without character, without tenderness, without mind, and (as the result
proved) without virtue. The sickly and timid boy was in the house; he
was handy; when she was otherwise unoccupied, she used and played with
him: Romeo and Cressida; till in that dreary life of a poor boy in a
country town, she grew to be the light of his days and the subject of
his dreams. He worked hard, like Jacob, for a wife; he surpassed his
patron in sharp practice; he was made head clerk; and the same night,
encouraged by a hundred freedoms, depressed by the sense of his youth
and his infirmities, he offered marriage and was received with
laughter. Not a year had passed, before his master, conscious of growing
infirmities, took him for a partner; he proposed again; he was accepted;
led two years of troubled married life; and awoke one morning to find
his wife had run away with a dashing drummer, and had left him heavily
in debt. The debt, and not the drummer, was supposed to be the cause of
the hegira; she had concealed her liabilities, they were on the point of
bursting forth, she was weary of Bellairs; and she took the drummer as
she might have taken a cab. The blow disabled her husband, his partner
was dead; he was now alone in the business, for which he was no longer
fit; the debts hampered him; bankruptcy followed; and he fled from city
to city, falling daily into lower practice. It is to be considered that
he had been taught, and had learned as a delightful duty, a kind of
business whose highest merit is to escape the commentaries of the bench:
that of the usurious lawyer in a county town. With this training, he was
now shot, a penniless stranger, into the deeper gulfs of cities; and the
result is scarce a thing to be surprised at.


"Have you heard of your wife again?" I asked.

He displayed a pitiful agitation. "I am afraid you will think ill of
me," he said.

"Have you taken her back?" I asked.

"No, sir. I trust I have too much self-respect," he answered, "and, at
least, I was never tempted. She won't come, she dislikes, she seems to
have conceived a positive distaste for me, and yet I was considered an
indulgent husband."

"You are still in relations, then?" I asked.

"I place myself in your hands, Mr. Dodd," he replied. "The world is very
hard; I have found it bitter hard myself--bitter hard to live. How
much worse for a woman, and one who has placed herself (by her own
misconduct, I am far from denying that) in so unfortunate a position!"

"In short, you support her?" I suggested.

"I cannot deny it. I practically do," he admitted. "It has been a
mill-stone round my neck. But I think she is grateful. You can see for

He handed me a letter in a sprawling, ignorant hand, but written with
violet ink on fine, pink paper with a monogram. It was very foolishly
expressed, and I thought (except for a few obvious cajoleries) very
heartless and greedy in meaning. The writer said she had been sick,
which I disbelieved; declared the last remittance was all gone in
doctor's bills, for which I took the liberty of substituting dress,
drink, and monograms; and prayed for an increase, which I could only
hope had been denied her.

"I think she is really grateful?" he asked, with some eagerness, as I
returned it.

"I daresay," said I. "Has she any claim on you?"

"O no, sir. I divorced her," he replied. "I have a very strong sense of
self-respect in such matters, and I divorced her immediately."

"What sort of life is she leading now?" I asked.

"I will not deceive you, Mr. Dodd. I do not know, I make a point of
not knowing; it appears more dignified. I have been very harshly
criticised," he added, sighing.

It will be seen that I had fallen into an ignominious intimacy with the
man I had gone out to thwart. My pity for the creature, his admiration
for myself, his pleasure in my society, which was clearly unassumed,
were the bonds with which I was fettered; perhaps I should add, in
honesty, my own ill-regulated interest in the phases of life and human
character. The fact is (at least) that we spent hours together daily,
and that I was nearly as much on the forward deck as in the saloon. Yet
all the while I could never forget he was a shabby trickster, embarked
that very moment in a dirty enterprise. I used to tell myself at first
that our acquaintance was a stroke of art, and that I was somehow
fortifying Carthew. I told myself, I say; but I was no such fool as to
believe it, even then. In these circumstances I displayed the two chief
qualities of my character on the largest scale--my helplessness and my
instinctive love of procrastination--and fell upon a course of action so
ridiculous that I blush when I recall it.

We reached Liverpool one forenoon, the rain falling thickly and
insidiously on the filthy town. I had no plans, beyond a sensible
unwillingness to let my rascal escape; and I ended by going to the same
inn with him, dining with him, walking with him in the wet streets,
and hearing with him in a penny gaff that venerable piece, _The
Ticket-of-Leave Man_. It was one of his first visits to a theatre,
against which places of entertainment he had a strong prejudice; and his
innocent, pompous talk, innocent old quotations, and innocent reverence
for the character of Hawkshaw delighted me beyond relief. In charity to
myself, I dwell upon and perhaps exaggerate my pleasures. I have need of
all conceivable excuses, when I confess that I went to bed without one
word upon the matter of Carthew, but not without having covenanted with
my rascal for a visit to Chester the next day. At Chester we did the
Cathedral, walked on the walls, discussed Shakespeare and the musical
glasses--and made a fresh engagement for the morrow. I do not know, and
I am glad to have forgotten, how long these travels were continued. We
visited at least, by singular zigzags, Stratford, Warwick, Coventry,
Gloucester, Bristol, Bath, and Wells. At each stage we spoke dutifully
of the scene and its associations; I sketched, the Shyster spouted
poetry and copied epitaphs. Who could doubt we were the usual Americans,
travelling with a design of self-improvement? Who was to guess that one
was a blackmailer, trembling to approach the scene of action--the other
a helpless, amateur detective, waiting on events?

It is unnecessary to remark that none occurred, or none the least
suitable with my design of protecting Carthew. Two trifles, indeed,
completed though they scarcely changed my conception of the Shyster. The
first was observed in Gloucester, where we spent Sunday, and I proposed
we should hear service in the cathedral. To my surprise, the creature
had an ISM of his own, to which he was loyal; and he left me to go alone
to the cathedral--or perhaps not to go at all--and stole off down a
deserted alley to some Bethel or Ebenezer of the proper shade. When we
met again at lunch, I rallied him, and he grew restive.

"You need employ no circumlocutions with me, Mr. Dodd," he said
suddenly. "You regard my behaviour from an unfavourable point of view:
you regard me, I much fear, as hypocritical."

I was somewhat confused by the attack. "You know what I think of your
trade," I replied, lamely and coarsely.

"Excuse me, if I seem to press the subject," he continued, "but if you
think my life erroneous, would you have me neglect the means of grace?
Because you consider me in the wrong on one point, would you have me
place myself on the wrong in all? Surely, sir, the church is for the

"Did you ask a blessing on your present enterprise?" I sneered.

He had a bad attack of St. Vitus, his face was changed, and his eyes
flashed. "I will tell you what I did!" he cried. "I prayed for an
unfortunate man and a wretched woman whom he tries to support."

I cannot pretend that I found any repartee.

The second incident was at Bristol, where I lost sight of my gentleman
some hours. From this eclipse, he returned to me with thick speech,
wandering footsteps, and a back all whitened with plaster. I had half
expected, yet I could have wept to see it. All disabilities were piled
on that weak back--domestic misfortune, nervous disease, a displeasing
exterior, empty pockets, and the slavery of vice.

I will never deny that our prolonged conjunction was the result of
double cowardice. Each was afraid to leave the other, each was afraid
to speak, or knew not what to say. Save for my ill-judged allusion at
Gloucester, the subject uppermost in both our minds was buried. Carthew,
Stallbridge-le-Carthew, Stallbridge-Minster--which we had long since
(and severally) identified to be the nearest station--even the name of
Dorsetshire was studiously avoided. And yet we were making progress all
the time, tacking across broad England like an unweatherly vessel on a
wind; approaching our destination, not openly, but by a sort of flying
sap. And at length, I can scarce tell how, we were set down by
a dilatory butt-end of local train on the untenanted platform of

The town was ancient and compact: a domino of tiled houses and walled
gardens, dwarfed by the disproportionate bigness of the church. From
the midst of the thoroughfare which divided it in half, fields and trees
were visible at either end; and through the sally-port of every street,
there flowed in from the country a silent invasion of green grass. Bees
and birds appeared to make the majority of the inhabitants; every garden
had its row of hives, the eaves of every house were plastered with the
nests of swallows, and the pinnacles of the church were flickered about
all day long by a multitude of wings. The town was of Roman foundation;
and as I looked out that afternoon from the low windows of the inn,
I should scarce have been surprised to see a centurion coming up
the street with a fatigue draft of legionaries. In short,
Stallbridge-Minster was one of those towns which appear to be maintained
by England for the instruction and delight of the American rambler;
to which he seems guided by an instinct not less surprising than the
setter's; and which he visits and quits with equal enthusiasm.

I was not at all in the humour of the tourist. I had wasted weeks of
time and accomplished nothing; we were on the eve of the engagement, and
I had neither plans nor allies. I had thrust myself into the trade of
private providence and amateur detective; I was spending money and I
was reaping disgrace. All the time, I kept telling myself that I must at
least speak; that this ignominious silence should have been broken
long ago, and must be broken now. I should have broken it when he first
proposed to come to Stallbridge-Minster; I should have broken it in the
train; I should break it there and then, on the inn doorstep, as the
omnibus rolled off. I turned toward him at the thought; he seemed to
wince, the words died on my lips, and I proposed instead that we should
visit the Minster.

While we were engaged upon this duty, it came on to rain in a manner
worthy of the tropics. The vault reverberated; every gargoyle instantly
poured its full discharge; we waded back to the inn, ankle-deep in
impromptu brooks; and the rest of the afternoon sat weatherbound,
hearkening to the sonorous deluge. For two hours I talked of indifferent
matters, laboriously feeding the conversation; for two hours my mind was
quite made up to do my duty instantly--and at each particular instant I
postponed it till the next. To screw up my faltering courage, I
called at dinner for some sparkling wine. It proved when it came to be
detestable; I could not put it to my lips; and Bellairs, who had as much
palate as a weevil, was left to finish it himself. Doubtless the wine
flushed him; doubtless he may have observed my embarrassment of the
afternoon; doubtless he was conscious that we were approaching a crisis,
and that that evening, if I did not join with him, I must declare myself
an open enemy. At least he fled. Dinner was done; this was the time
when I had bound myself to break my silence; no more delays were to be
allowed, no more excuses received. I went upstairs after some tobacco;
which I felt to be a mere necessity in the circumstances; and when I
returned, the man was gone. The waiter told me he had left the house.

The rain still plumped, like a vast shower-bath, over the deserted town.
The night was dark and windless: the street lit glimmeringly from end
to end, lamps, house windows, and the reflections in the rain-pools all
contributing. From a public-house on the other side of the way, I heard
a harp twang and a doleful voice upraised in the "Larboard Watch,"
"The Anchor's Weighed," and other naval ditties. Where had my Shyster
wandered? In all likelihood to that lyrical tavern; there was no choice
of diversion; in comparison with Stallbridge-Minster on a rainy night, a
sheepfold would seem gay.

Again I passed in review the points of my interview, on which I was
always constantly resolved so long as my adversary was absent from the
scene: and again they struck me as inadequate. From this dispiriting
exercise I turned to the native amusements of the inn coffee-room, and
studied for some time the mezzotints that frowned upon the wall. The
railway guide, after showing me how soon I could leave Stallbridge
and how quickly I could reach Paris, failed to hold my attention. An
illustrated advertisement book of hotels brought me very low indeed;
and when it came to the local paper, I could have wept. At this point, I
found a passing solace in a copy of Whittaker's Almanac, and obtained in
fifty minutes more information than I have yet been able to use.

Then a fresh apprehension assailed me. Suppose Bellairs had given me the
slip? suppose he was now rolling on the road to Stallbridge-le-Carthew?
or perhaps there already and laying before a very white-faced auditor
his threats and propositions? A hasty person might have instantly
pursued. Whatever I am, I am not hasty, and I was aware of three grave
objections. In the first place, I could not be certain that Bellairs was
gone. In the second, I had no taste whatever for a long drive at that
hour of the night and in so merciless a rain. In the third, I had no
idea how I was to get admitted if I went, and no idea what I should say
if I got admitted. "In short," I concluded, "the whole situation is the
merest farce. You have thrust yourself in where you had no business
and have no power. You would be quite as useful in San Francisco;
far happier in Paris; and being (by the wrath of God) at
Stallbridge-Minster, the wisest thing is to go quietly to bed." On the
way to my room, I saw (in a flash) that which I ought to have done long
ago, and which it was now too late to think of--written to Carthew, I
mean, detailing the facts and describing Bellairs, letting him defend
himself if he were able, and giving him time to flee if he were not.
It was the last blow to my self-respect; and I flung myself into my bed
with contumely.

I have no guess what hour it was, when I was wakened by the entrance of
Bellairs carrying a candle. He had been drunk, for he was bedaubed with
mire from head to foot; but he was now sober and under the empire of
some violent emotion which he controlled with difficulty. He trembled
visibly; and more than once, during the interview which followed, tears
suddenly and silently overflowed his cheeks.

"I have to ask your pardon, sir, for this untimely visit," he said.
"I make no defence, I have no excuse, I have disgraced myself, I am
properly punished; I appear before you to appeal to you in mercy for the
most trifling aid or, God help me! I fear I may go mad."

"What on earth is wrong?" I asked.

"I have been robbed," he said. "I have no defence to offer; it was of my
own fault, I am properly punished."

"But, gracious goodness me!" I cried, "who is there to rob you in a
place like this?"

"I can form no opinion," he replied. "I have no idea. I was lying in a
ditch inanimate. This is a degrading confession, sir; I can only say in
self-defence that perhaps (in your good nature) you have made yourself
partly responsible for my shame. I am not used to these rich wines."

"In what form was your money? Perhaps it may be traced," I suggested.

"It was in English sovereigns. I changed it in New York; I got very good
exchange," he said, and then, with a momentary outbreak, "God in heaven,
how I toiled for it!" he cried.

"That doesn't sound encouraging," said I. "It may be worth while to
apply to the police, but it doesn't sound a hopeful case."

"And I have no hope in that direction," said Bellairs. "My hopes, Mr.
Dodd, are all fixed upon yourself. I could easily convince you that
a small, a very small advance, would be in the nature of an excellent
investment; but I prefer to rely on your humanity. Our acquaintance
began on an unusual footing; but you have now known me for some time,
we have been some time--I was going to say we had been almost intimate.
Under the impulse of instinctive sympathy, I have bared my heart to you,
Mr. Dodd, as I have done to few; and I believe--I trust--I may say that
I feel sure--you heard me with a kindly sentiment. This is what brings
me to your side at this most inexcusable hour. But put yourself in
my place--how could I sleep--how could I dream of sleeping, in this
blackness of remorse and despair? There was a friend at hand--so I
ventured to think of you; it was instinctive; I fled to your side,
as the drowning man clutches at a straw. These expressions are not
exaggerated, they scarcely serve to express the agitation of my mind.
And think, sir, how easily you can restore me to hope and, I may say,
to reason. A small loan, which shall be faithfully repaid. Five hundred
dollars would be ample." He watched me with burning eyes. "Four hundred
would do. I believe, Mr. Dodd, that I could manage with economy on two."

"And then you will repay me out of Carthew's pocket?" I said. "I am much
obliged. But I will tell you what I will do: I will see you on board a
steamer, pay your fare through to San Francisco, and place fifty dollars
in the purser's hands, to be given you in New York."

He drank in my words; his face represented an ecstasy of cunning
thought. I could read there, plain as print, that he but thought to
overreach me.

"And what am I to do in 'Frisco?" he asked. "I am disbarred, I have no
trade, I cannot dig, to beg----" he paused in the citation. "And you
know that I am not alone," he added, "others depend upon me."

"I will write to Pinkerton," I returned. "I feel sure he can help you
to some employment, and in the meantime, and for three months after
your arrival, he shall pay to yourself personally, on the first and the
fifteenth, twenty-five dollars."

"Mr. Dodd, I scarce believe you can be serious in this offer," he
replied. "Have you forgotten the circumstances of the case? Do you
know these people are the magnates of the section? They were spoken of
to-night in the saloon; their wealth must amount to many millions of
dollars in real estate alone; their house is one of the sights of the
locality, and you offer me a bribe of a few hundred!"

"I offer you no bribe, Mr. Bellairs, I give you alms," I returned. "I
will do nothing to forward you in your hateful business; yet I would not
willingly have you starve."

"Give me a hundred dollars then, and be done with it," he cried.

"I will do what I have said, and neither more nor less," said I.

"Take care," he cried. "You are playing a fool's game; you are making an
enemy for nothing; you will gain nothing by this, I warn you of it!" And
then with one of his changes, "Seventy dollars--only seventy--in mercy,
Mr. Dodd, in common charity. Don't dash the bowl from my lips! You have
a kindly heart. Think of my position, remember my unhappy wife."

"You should have thought of her before," said I. "I have made my offer,
and I wish to sleep."

"Is that your last word, sir? Pray consider; pray weigh both sides:
my misery, your own danger. I warn you--I beseech you; measure it well
before you answer," so he half pleaded, half threatened me, with clasped

"My first word, and my last," said I.

The change upon the man was shocking. In the storm of anger that now
shook him, the lees of his intoxication rose again to the surface; his
face was deformed, his words insane with fury; his pantomime excessive
in itself, was distorted by an access of St. Vitus.

"You will perhaps allow me to inform you of my cold opinion," he began,
apparently self-possessed, truly bursting with rage: "when I am a
glorified saint, I shall see you howling for a drop of water and exult
to see you. That your last word! Take it in your face, you spy, you
false friend, you fat hypocrite! I defy, I defy and despise and spit
upon you! I'm on the trail, his trail or yours, I smell blood, I'll
follow it on my hands and knees, I'll starve to follow it! I'll hunt you
down, hunt you, hunt you down! If I were strong, I'd tear your vitals
out, here in this room--tear them out--I'd tear them out! Damn, damn,
damn! You think me weak! I can bite, bite to the blood, bite you, hurt
you, disgrace you ..."

He was thus incoherently raging, when the scene was interrupted by
the arrival of the landlord and inn servants in various degrees of
deshabille, and to them I gave my temporary lunatic in charge.

"Take him to his room," I said, "he's only drunk."

These were my words; but I knew better. After all my study of Mr.
Bellairs, one discovery had been reserved for the last moment: that of
his latent and essential madness.






Long before I was awake, the shyster had disappeared, leaving his bill
unpaid. I did not need to inquire where he was gone, I knew too well,
I knew there was nothing left me but to follow; and about ten in the
morning, set forth in a gig for Stallbridge-le-Carthew.

The road, for the first quarter of the way, deserts the valley of the
river, and crosses the summit of a chalk-down, grazed over by flocks of
sheep and haunted by innumerable larks. It was a pleasant but a vacant
scene, arousing but not holding the attention; and my mind returned to
the violent passage of the night before. My thought of the man I was
pursuing had been greatly changed. I conceived of him, somewhere in
front of me, upon his dangerous errand, not to be turned aside, not
to be stopped, by either fear or reason. I had called him a ferret;
I conceived him now as a mad dog. Methought he would run, not walk;
methought, as he ran, that he would bark and froth at the lips;
methought, if the great wall of China were to rise across his path, he
would attack it with his nails.

Presently the road left the down, returned by a precipitous descent into
the valley of the Stall, and ran thenceforward among enclosed fields and
under the continuous shade of trees. I was told we had now entered on
the Carthew property. By and by, a battlemented wall appeared on the
left hand, and a little after I had my first glimpse of the mansion. It
stood in a hollow of a bosky park, crowded to a degree that surprised
and even displeased me, with huge timber and dense shrubberies of
laurel and rhododendron. Even from this low station and the thronging
neighbourhood of the trees, the pile rose conspicuous like a cathedral.
Behind, as we continued to skirt the park wall, I began to make out a
straggling town of offices which became conjoined to the rear with those
of the home farm. On the left was an ornamental water sailed in by many
swans. On the right extended a flower garden, laid in the old manner,
and at this season of the year, as brilliant as stained glass. The front
of the house presented a facade of more than sixty windows, surmounted
by a formal pediment and raised upon a terrace. A wide avenue, part in
gravel, part in turf, and bordered by triple alleys, ran to the great
double gateways. It was impossible to look without surprise on a place
that had been prepared through so many generations, had cost so many
tons of minted gold, and was maintained in order by so great a company
of emulous servants. And yet of these there was no sign but the
perfection of their work. The whole domain was drawn to the line and
weeded like the front plot of some suburban amateur; and I looked in
vain for any belated gardener, and listened in vain for any sounds of
labour. Some lowing of cattle and much calling of birds alone disturbed
the stillness, and even the little hamlet, which clustered at the gates,
appeared to hold its breath in awe of its great neighbour, like a troop
of children who should have strayed into a king's anteroom.

The Carthew Arms, the small but very comfortable inn, was a mere
appendage and outpost of the family whose name it bore. Engraved
portraits of by-gone Carthews adorned the walls; Fielding Carthew,
Recorder of the city of London; Major-General John Carthew in uniform,
commanding some military operations; the Right Honourable Bailley
Carthew, Member of Parliament for Stallbridge, standing by a table and
brandishing a document; Singleton Carthew, Esquire, represented in the
foreground of a herd of cattle--doubtless at the desire of his tenantry,
who had made him a compliment of this work of art; and the Venerable
Archdeacon Carthew, D.D., LL.D., A.M., laying his hand on the head of
a little child in a manner highly frigid and ridiculous. So far as
my memory serves me, there were no other pictures in this exclusive
hostelry; and I was not surprised to learn that the landlord was an
ex-butler, the landlady an ex-lady's-maid, from the great house; and
that the bar-parlour was a sort of perquisite of former servants.

To an American, the sense of the domination of this family over so
considerable a tract of earth was even oppressive; and as I considered
their simple annals, gathered from the legends of the engravings,
surprise began to mingle with my disgust. "Mr. Recorder" doubtless
occupies an honourable post; but I thought that, in the course of so
many generations, one Carthew might have clambered higher. The soldier
had stuck at Major-General; the churchman bloomed unremarked in an
archidiaconate; and though the Right Honourable Bailley seemed to have
sneaked into the privy council, I have still to learn what he did when
he had got there. Such vast means, so long a start, and such a modest
standard of achievement, struck in me a strong sense of the dulness of
that race.

I found that to come to the hamlet and not visit the Hall, would be
regarded as a slight. To feed the swans, to see the peacocks and
the Raphaels--for these commonplace people actually possessed two
Raphaels--to risk life and limb among a famous breed of cattle called
the Carthew Chillinghams, and to do homage to the sire (still living) of
Donibristle, a renowned winner of the oaks: these, it seemed, were
the inevitable stations of the pilgrimage. I was not so foolish as to
resist, for I might have need before I was done of general good-will;
and two pieces of news fell in which changed my resignation to
alacrity. It appeared in the first place, that Mr. Norris was from home
"travelling "; in the second, that a visitor had been before me and
already made the tour of the Carthew curiosities. I thought I knew who
this must be; I was anxious to learn what he had done and seen; and
fortune so far favoured me that the under-gardener singled out to be my
guide had already performed the same function for my predecessor.

"Yes, sir," he said, "an American gentleman right enough. At least, I
don't think he was quite a gentleman, but a very civil person."

The person, it seems, had been civil enough to be delighted with the
Carthew Chillinghams, to perform the whole pilgrimage with rising
admiration, and to have almost prostrated himself before the shrine of
Donibristle's sire.

"He told me, sir," continued the gratified under-gardener, "that he had
often read of the 'stately 'omes of England,' but ours was the first he
had the chance to see. When he came to the 'ead of the long alley, he
fetched his breath. 'This is indeed a lordly domain!' he cries. And
it was natural he should be interested in the place, for it seems
Mr. Carthew had been kind to him in the States. In fact, he seemed a
grateful kind of person, and wonderful taken up with flowers."

I heard this story with amazement. The phrases quoted told their own
tale; they were plainly from the shyster's mint. A few hours back I
had seen him a mere bedlamite and fit for a strait-waistcoat; he was
penniless in a strange country; it was highly probable he had gone
without breakfast; the absence of Norris must have been a crushing blow;
the man (by all reason) should have been despairing. And now I heard of
him, clothed and in his right mind, deliberate, insinuating, admiring
vistas, smelling flowers, and talking like a book. The strength of
character implied amazed and daunted me.

"This is curious," I said to the under-gardener. "I have had the
pleasure of some acquaintance with Mr. Carthew myself; and I believe
none of our western friends ever were in England. Who can this person
be? He couldn't--no, that's impossible, he could never have had the
impudence. His name was not Bellairs?"

"I didn't 'ear the name, sir. Do you know anything against him?" cried
my guide.

"Well," said I, "he is certainly not the person Carthew would like to
have here in his absence."

"Good gracious me!" exclaimed the gardener. "He was so pleasant spoken,
too; I thought he was some form of a schoolmaster. Perhaps, sir, you
wouldn't mind going right up to Mr. Denman? I recommended him to Mr.
Denman, when he had done the grounds. Mr. Denman is our butler, sir," he

The proposal was welcome, particularly as affording me a graceful
retreat from the neighbourhood of the Carthew Chillinghams; and, giving
up our projected circuit, we took a short cut through the shrubbery and
across the bowling green to the back quarters of the Hall.

The bowling green was surrounded by a great hedge of yew, and entered
by an archway in the quick. As we were issuing from this passage, my
conductor arrested me.

"The Honourable Lady Ann Carthew," he said, in an august whisper. And
looking over his shoulder, I was aware of an old lady with a stick,
hobbling somewhat briskly along the garden path. She must have been
extremely handsome in her youth; and even the limp with which she walked
could not deprive her of an unusual and almost menacing dignity of
bearing. Melancholy was impressed besides on every feature, and
her eyes, as she looked straight before her, seemed to contemplate

"She seems sad," said I, when she had hobbled past and we had resumed
our walk.

"She enjoy rather poor spirits, sir," responded the under-gardener.
"Mr. Carthew--the old gentleman, I mean--died less than a year ago; Lord
Tillibody, her ladyship's brother, two months after; and then there was
the sad business about the young gentleman. Killed in the 'unting-field,
sir; and her ladyship's favourite. The present Mr. Norris has never been
so equally."

"So I have understood," said I, persistently, and (I think) gracefully
pursuing my inquiries and fortifying my position as a family friend.
"Dear, dear, how sad! And has this change--poor Carthew's return, and
all--has this not mended matters?"

"Well, no, sir, not a sign of it," was the reply. "Worse, we think, than

"Dear, dear!" said I again.

"When Mr. Norris arrived, she DID seem glad to see him," he pursued;
"and we were all pleased, I'm sure; for no one knows the young gentleman
but what likes him. Ah, sir, it didn't last long! That very night
they had a talk, and fell out or something; her ladyship took on most
painful; it was like old days, but worse. And the next morning Mr.
Norris was off again upon his travels. 'Denman,' he said to Mr. Denman,
'Denman, I'll never come back,' he said, and shook him by the 'and. I
wouldn't be saying all this to a stranger, sir," added my informant,
overcome with a sudden fear lest he had gone too far.

He had indeed told me much, and much that was unsuspected by himself.
On that stormy night of his return, Carthew had told his story; the old
lady had more upon her mind than mere bereavements; and among the mental
pictures on which she looked, as she walked staring down the path, was
one of Midway Island and the Flying Scud.

Mr. Denman heard my inquiries with discomposure, but informed me the
shyster was already gone.

"Gone?" cried I. "Then what can he have come for? One thing I can tell
you, it was not to see the house."

"I don't see it could have been anything else," replied the butler.

"You may depend upon it it was," said I. "And whatever it was, he has
got it. By the way, where is Mr. Carthew at present? I was sorry to find
he was from home."

"He is engaged in travelling, sir," replied the butler, dryly.

"Ah, bravo!" cried I. "I laid a trap for you there, Mr. Denman. Now I
need not ask you; I am sure you did not tell this prying stranger."

"To be sure not, sir," said the butler.

I went through the form of "shaking him by the 'and"--like Mr.
Norris--not, however, with genuine enthusiasm. For I had failed
ingloriously to get the address for myself; and I felt a sure conviction
that Bellairs had done better, or he had still been here and still
cultivating Mr. Denman.

I had escaped the grounds and the cattle; I could not escape the
house. A lady with silver hair, a slender silver voice, and a stream of
insignificant information not to be diverted, led me through the picture
gallery, the music-room, the great dining-room, the long drawing-room,
the Indian room, the theatre, and every corner (as I thought) of that
interminable mansion. There was but one place reserved; the garden-room,
whither Lady Ann had now retired. I paused a moment on the outside of
the door, and smiled to myself. The situation was indeed strange, and
these thin boards divided the secret of the Flying Scud.

All the while, as I went to and fro, I was considering the visit and
departure of Bellairs. That he had got the address, I was quite certain:
that he had not got it by direct questioning, I was convinced; some
ingenuity, some lucky accident, had served him. A similar chance, an
equal ingenuity, was required; or I was left helpless, the ferret must
run down his prey, the great oaks fall, the Raphaels be scattered, the
house let to some stockbroker suddenly made rich, and the name which now
filled the mouths of five or six parishes dwindle to a memory. Strange
that such great matters, so old a mansion, a family so ancient and so
dull, should come to depend for perpetuity upon the intelligence, the
discretion, and the cunning of a Latin-Quarter student! What Bellairs
had done, I must do likewise. Chance or ingenuity, ingenuity or
chance--so I continued to ring the changes as I walked down the
avenue, casting back occasional glances at the red brick facade and the
twinkling windows of the house. How was I to command chance? where was I
to find the ingenuity?

These reflections brought me to the door of the inn. And here, pursuant
to my policy of keeping well with all men, I immediately smoothed my
brow, and accepted (being the only guest in the house) an invitation to
dine with the family in the bar-parlour. I sat down accordingly with Mr.
Higgs the ex-butler, Mrs. Higgs the ex-lady's-maid, and Miss Agnes Higgs
their frowsy-headed little girl, the least promising and (as the event
showed) the most useful of the lot. The talk ran endlessly on the great
house and the great family; the roast beef, the Yorkshire pudding, the
jam-roll, and the cheddar cheese came and went, and still the stream
flowed on; near four generations of Carthews were touched upon without
eliciting one point of interest; and we had killed Mr. Henry in "the
'unting-field," with a vast elaboration of painful circumstance, and
buried him in the midst of a whole sorrowing county, before I could so
much as manage to bring upon the stage my intimate friend, Mr. Norris.
At the name, the ex-butler grew diplomatic, and the ex-lady's-maid
tender. He was the only person of the whole featureless series
who seemed to have accomplished anything worth mention; and his
achievements, poor dog, seemed to have been confined to going to the
devil and leaving some regrets. He had been the image of the Right
Honourable Bailley, one of the lights of that dim house, and a career
of distinction had been predicted of him in consequence almost from the
cradle. But before he was out of long clothes, the cloven foot began to
show; he proved to be no Carthew, developed a taste for low pleasures
and bad company, went birdnesting with a stable-boy before he was
eleven, and when he was near twenty, and might have been expected to
display at least some rudiments of the family gravity, rambled the
country over with a knapsack, making sketches and keeping company in
wayside inns. He had no pride about him, I was told; he would sit down
with any man; and it was somewhat woundingly implied that I was indebted
to this peculiarity for my own acquaintance with the hero. Unhappily,
Mr. Norris was not only eccentric, he was fast. His debts were still
remembered at the University; still more, it appeared, the highly
humorous circumstances attending his expulsion. "He was always fond of
his jest," commented Mrs. Higgs.

"That he were!" observed her lord.

But it was after he went into the diplomatic service that the real
trouble began.

"It seems, sir, that he went the pace extraordinary," said the
ex-butler, with a solemn gusto.

"His debts were somethink awful," said the lady's-maid. "And as nice a
young gentleman all the time as you would wish to see!"

"When word came to Mr. Carthew's ears, the turn up was 'orrible,"
continued Mr. Higgs. "I remember it as if it was yesterday. The bell was
rung after her la'ship was gone, which I answered it myself, supposing
it were the coffee. There was Mr. Carthew on his feet. ''Iggs,' he
says, pointing with his stick, for he had a turn of the gout, 'order the
dog-cart instantly for this son of mine which has disgraced hisself.'
Mr. Norris say nothink: he sit there with his 'ead down, making belief
to be looking at a walnut. You might have bowled me over with a straw,"
said Mr. Higgs.

"Had he done anything very bad?" I asked.

"Not he, Mr. Dodsley!" cried the lady--it was so she had conceived my
name. "He never did anythink to all really wrong in his poor life. The
'ole affair was a disgrace. It was all rank favouritising."

"Mrs. 'Iggs! Mrs. 'Iggs!" cried the butler warningly.

"Well, what do I care?" retorted the lady, shaking her ringlets. "You
know it was yourself, Mr. 'Iggs, and so did every member of the staff."

While I was getting these facts and opinions, I by no means neglected
the child. She was not attractive; but fortunately she had reached the
corrupt age of seven, when half a crown appears about as large as a
saucer and is fully as rare as the dodo. For a shilling down, sixpence
in her money-box, and an American gold dollar which I happened to find
in my pocket, I bought the creature soul and body. She declared her
intention to accompany me to the ends of the earth; and had to be
chidden by her sire for drawing comparisons between myself and her uncle
William, highly damaging to the latter.

Dinner was scarce done, the cloth was not yet removed, when Miss Agnes
must needs climb into my lap with her stamp album, a relic of the
generosity of Uncle William. There are few things I despise more than
old stamps, unless perhaps it be crests; for cattle (from the Carthew
Chillinghams down to the old gate-keeper's milk-cow in the lane)
contempt is far from being my first sentiment. But it seemed I was
doomed to pass that day in viewing curiosities, and smothering a yawn,
I devoted myself once more to tread the well-known round. I fancy Uncle
William must have begun the collection himself and tired of it, for
the book (to my surprise) was quite respectably filled. There were the
varying shades of the English penny, Russians with the coloured heart,
old undecipherable Thurn-und-Taxis, obsolete triangular Cape of Good
Hopes, Swan Rivers with the Swan, and Guianas with the sailing ship.
Upon all these I looked with the eyes of a fish and the spirit of a
sheep; I think indeed I was at times asleep; and it was probably in one
of these moments that I capsized the album, and there fell from the end
of it, upon the floor, a considerable number of what I believe to be
called "exchanges."

Here, against all probability, my chance had come to me; for as I
gallantly picked them up, I was struck with the disproportionate amount
of five-sous French stamps. Some one, I reasoned, must write very
regularly from France to the neighbourhood of Stallbridge-le-Carthew.
Could it be Norris? On one stamp I made out an initial C; upon a second
I got as far as CH; beyond which point, the postmark used was in every
instance undecipherable. CH, when you consider that about a quarter of
the towns in France begin with "chateau," was an insufficient clue; and
I promptly annexed the plainest of the collection in order to consult
the post-office.

The wretched infant took me in the fact. "Naughty man, to 'teal my
'tamp!" she cried; and when I would have brazened it off with a denial,
recovered and displayed the stolen article.

My position was now highly false; and I believe it was in mere pity
that Mrs. Higgs came to my rescue with a welcome proposition. If the
gentleman was really interested in stamps, she said, probably supposing
me a monomaniac on the point, he should see Mr. Denman's album. Mr.
Denman had been collecting forty years, and his collection was said
to be worth a mint of money. "Agnes," she went on, "if you were a kind
little girl, you would run over to the 'All, tell Mr. Denman there's
a connaisseer in the 'ouse, and ask him if one of the young gentlemen
might bring the album down."

"I should like to see his exchanges too," I cried, rising to the
occasion. "I may have some of mine in my pocket-book and we might

Half an hour later Mr. Denman arrived himself with a most unconscionable
volume under his arm. "Ah, sir," he cried, "when I 'eard you was a
collector, I dropped all. It's a saying of mine, Mr. Dodsley, that
collecting stamps makes all collectors kin. It's a bond, sir; it creates
a bond."

Upon the truth of this, I cannot say; but there is no doubt that
the attempt to pass yourself off for a collector falsely creates a
precarious situation.

"Ah, here's the second issue!" I would say, after consulting the legend
at the side. "The pink--no, I mean the mauve--yes, that's the beauty of
this lot. Though of course, as you say," I would hasten to add, "this
yellow on the thin paper is more rare."

Indeed I must certainly have been detected, had I not plied Mr. Denman
in self-defence with his favourite liquor--a port so excellent that it
could never have ripened in the cellar of the Carthew Arms, but must
have been transported, under cloud of night, from the neighbouring
vaults of the great house. At each threat of exposure, and in particular
whenever I was directly challenged for an opinion, I made haste to fill
the butler's glass, and by the time we had got to the exchanges, he was
in a condition in which no stamp collector need be seriously feared.
God forbid I should hint that he was drunk; he seemed incapable of the
necessary liveliness; but the man's eyes were set, and so long as he was
suffered to talk without interruption, he seemed careless of my heeding

In Mr. Denman's exchanges, as in those of little Agnes, the same
peculiarity was to be remarked, an undue preponderance of that
despicably common stamp, the French twenty-five centimes. And here
joining them in stealthy review, I found the C and the CH; then
something of an A just following; and then a terminal Y. Here was also
the whole name spelt out to me; it seemed familiar, too; and yet for
some time I could not bridge the imperfection. Then I came upon another
stamp, in which an L was legible before the Y, and in a moment the word
leaped up complete. Chailly, that was the name; Chailly-en-Biere, the
post town of Barbizon--ah, there was the very place for any man to hide
himself--there was the very place for Mr. Norris, who had rambled over
England making sketches--the very place for Goddedaal, who had left a
palette-knife on board the Flying Scud. Singular, indeed, that while I
was drifting over England with the shyster, the man we were in quest of
awaited me at my own ultimate destination.

Whether Mr. Denman had shown his album to Bellairs, whether, indeed,
Bellairs could have caught (as I did) this hint from an obliterated
postmark, I shall never know, and it mattered not. We were equal now;
my task at Stallbridge-le-Carthew was accomplished; my interest in
postage-stamps died shamelessly away; the astonished Denman was bowed
out; and ordering the horse to be put in, I plunged into the study of
the time-table.






I fell from the skies on Barbizon about two o'clock of a September
afternoon. It is the dead hour of the day; all the workers have gone
painting, all the idlers strolling, in the forest or the plain; the
winding causewayed street is solitary, and the inn deserted. I was the
more pleased to find one of my old companions in the dining-room; his
town clothes marked him for a man in the act of departure; and indeed
his portmanteau lay beside him on the floor.

"Why, Stennis," I cried, "you're the last man I expected to find here."

"You won't find me here long," he replied. "King Pandion he is dead; all
his friends are lapped in lead. For men of our antiquity, the poor old
shop is played out."

"I have had playmates, I have had companions," I quoted in return.
We were both moved, I think, to meet again in this scene of our old
pleasure parties so unexpectedly, after so long an interval, and both
already so much altered.

"That is the sentiment," he replied. "All, all are gone, the old
familiar faces. I have been here a week, and the only living creature
who seemed to recollect me was the Pharaon. Bar the Sirons, of course,
and the perennial Bodmer."

"Is there no survivor?" I inquired.

"Of our geological epoch? not one," he replied. "This is the city of
Petra in Edom."

"And what sort of Bedouins encamp among the ruins?" I asked.

"Youth, Dodd, youth; blooming, conscious youth," he returned. "Such a
gang, such reptiles! to think we were like that! I wonder Siron didn't
sweep us from his premises."

"Perhaps we weren't so bad," I suggested.

"Don't let me depress you," said he. "We were both Anglo-Saxons, anyway,
and the only redeeming feature to-day is another."

The thought of my quest, a moment driven out by this rencounter, revived
in my mind. "Who is he?" I cried. "Tell me about him."

"What, the Redeeming Feature?" said he. "Well, he's a very pleasing
creature, rather dim, and dull, and genteel, but really pleasing. He is
very British, though, the artless Briton! Perhaps you'll find him too
much so for the transatlantic nerves. Come to think of it, on the other
hand, you ought to get on famously. He is an admirer of your great
republic in one of its (excuse me) shoddiest features; he takes in and
sedulously reads a lot of American papers. I warned you he was artless."

"What papers are they?" cried I.

"San Francisco papers," said he. "He gets a bale of them about twice
a week, and studies them like the Bible. That's one of his weaknesses;
another is to be incalculably rich. He has taken Masson's old
studio--you remember?--at the corner of the road; he has furnished it
regardless of expense, and lives there surrounded with vins fins and
works of art. When the youth of to-day goes up to the Caverne des
Brigands to make punch--they do all that we did, like some nauseous form
of ape (I never appreciated before what a creature of tradition mankind
is)--this Madden follows with a basket of champagne. I told him he was
wrong, and the punch tasted better; but he thought the boys liked the
style of the thing, and I suppose they do. He is a very good-natured
soul, and a very melancholy, and rather a helpless. O, and he has a
third weakness which I came near forgetting. He paints. He has never
been taught, and he's past thirty, and he paints."

"How?" I asked.

"Rather well, I think," was the reply. "That's the annoying part of it.
See for yourself. That panel is his."

I stepped toward the window. It was the old familiar room, with the
tables set like a Greek P, and the sideboard, and the aphasiac piano,
and the panels on the wall. There were Romeo and Juliet, Antwerp from
the river, Enfield's ships among the ice, and the huge huntsman winding
a huge horn; mingled with them a few new ones, the thin crop of a
succeeding generation, not better and not worse. It was to one of these
I was directed; a thing coarsely and wittily handled, mostly with the
palette-knife, the colour in some parts excellent, the canvas in others
loaded with mere clay. But it was the scene, and not the art or want
of it, that riveted my notice. The foreground was of sand and scrub and
wreckwood; in the middle distance the many-hued and smooth expanse of a
lagoon, enclosed by a wall of breakers; beyond, a blue strip of ocean.
The sky was cloudless, and I could hear the surf break. For the place
was Midway Island; the point of view the very spot at which I had landed
with the captain for the first time, and from which I had re-embarked
the day before we sailed. I had already been gazing for some seconds,
before my attention was arrested by a blur on the sea-line; and stooping
to look, I recognised the smoke of a steamer.

"Yes," said I, turning toward Stennis, "it has merit. What is it?"

"A fancy piece," he returned. "That's what pleased me. So few of the
fellows in our time had the imagination of a garden snail."

"Madden, you say his name is?" I pursued.

"Madden," he repeated.

"Has he travelled much?" I inquired.

"I haven't an idea. He is one of the least autobiographical of men. He
sits, and smokes, and giggles, and sometimes he makes small jests;
but his contributions to the art of pleasing are generally confined to
looking like a gentleman and being one. No," added Stennis, "he'll never
suit you, Dodd; you like more head on your liquor. You'll find him as
dull as ditch water."

"Has he big blonde side-whiskers like tusks?" I asked, mindful of the
photograph of Goddedaal.

"Certainly not: why should he?" was the reply.

"Does he write many letters?" I continued.

"God knows," said Stennis. "What is wrong with you? I never saw you
taken this way before."


"The fact is, I think I know the man," said I. "I think I'm looking for
him. I rather think he is my long-lost brother."

"Not twins, anyway," returned Stennis.

And about the same time, a carriage driving up to the inn, he took his

I walked till dinner-time in the plain, keeping to the fields; for I
instinctively shunned observation, and was racked by many incongruous
and impatient feelings. Here was a man whose voice I had once heard,
whose doings had filled so many days of my life with interest and
distress, whom I had lain awake to dream of like a lover; and now his
hand was on the door; now we were to meet; now I was to learn at last
the mystery of the substituted crew. The sun went down over the plain of
the Angelus, and as the hour approached, my courage lessened. I let the
laggard peasants pass me on the homeward way. The lamps were lit, the
soup was served, the company were all at table, and the room sounded
already with multitudinous talk before I entered. I took my place and
found I was opposite to Madden. Over six feet high and well set up, the
hair dark and streaked with silver, the eyes dark and kindly, the mouth
very good-natured, the teeth admirable; linen and hands exquisite;
English clothes, an English voice, an English bearing: the man stood
out conspicuous from the company. Yet he had made himself at home, and
seemed to enjoy a certain quiet popularity among the noisy boys of the
table d'hote. He had an odd, silver giggle of a laugh, that sounded
nervous even when he was really amused, and accorded ill with his big
stature and manly, melancholy face. This laugh fell in continually all
through dinner like the note of the triangle in a piece of modern French
music; and he had at times a kind of pleasantry, rather of manner than
of words, with which he started or maintained the merriment. He took his
share in these diversions, not so much like a man in high spirits,
but like one of an approved good nature, habitually self-forgetful,
accustomed to please and to follow others. I have remarked in old
soldiers much the same smiling sadness and sociable self-effacement.

I feared to look at him, lest my glances should betray my deep
excitement, and chance served me so well that the soup was scarce
removed before we were naturally introduced. My first sip of Chateau
Siron, a vintage from which I had been long estranged, startled me into


"O, this'll never do!" I cried, in English.

"Dreadful stuff, isn't it?" said Madden, in the same language. "Do let
me ask you to share my bottle. They call it Chambertin, which it isn't;
but it's fairly palatable, and there's nothing in this house that a man
can drink at all."

I accepted; anything would do that paved the way to better knowledge.

"Your name is Madden, I think," said I. "My old friend Stennis told me
about you when I came."

"Yes, I am sorry he went; I feel such a Grandfather William, alone among
all these lads," he replied.

"My name is Dodd," I resumed.

"Yes," said he, "so Madame Siron told me."

"Dodd, of San Francisco," I continued. "Late of Pinkerton and Dodd."

"Montana Block, I think?" said he.

"The same," said I.

Neither of us looked at each other; but I could see his hand
deliberately making bread pills.

"That's a nice thing of yours," I pursued, "that panel. The foreground
is a little clayey, perhaps, but the lagoon is excellent."

"You ought to know," said he.

"Yes," returned I, "I'm rather a good judge of--that panel."

There was a considerable pause.

"You know a man by the name of Bellairs, don't you?" he resumed.

"Ah!" cried I, "you have heard from Doctor Urquart?"

"This very morning," he replied.

"Well, there is no hurry about Bellairs," said I. "It's rather a long
story and rather a silly one. But I think we have a good deal to tell
each other, and perhaps we had better wait till we are more alone."

"I think so," said he. "Not that any of these fellows know English, but
we'll be more comfortable over at my place. Your health, Dodd."

And we took wine together across the table.

Thus had this singular introduction passed unperceived in the midst of
more than thirty persons, art students, ladies in dressing-gowns and
covered with rice powder, six foot of Siron whisking dishes over our
head, and his noisy sons clattering in and out with fresh relays.

"One question more," said I: "Did you recognise my voice?"

"Your voice?" he repeated. "How should I? I had never heard it--we have
never met."

"And yet, we have been in conversation before now," said I, "and I asked
you a question which you never answered, and which I have since had many
thousand better reasons for putting to myself."

He turned suddenly white. "Good God!" he cried, "are you the man in the

I nodded.

"Well, well!" said he. "It would take a good deal of magnanimity to
forgive you that. What nights I have passed! That little whisper has
whistled in my ear ever since, like the wind in a keyhole. Who could it
be? What could it mean? I suppose I have had more real, solid misery
out of that ..." He paused, and looked troubled. "Though I had more to
bother me, or ought to have," he added, and slowly emptied his glass.

"It seems we were born to drive each other crazy with conundrums," said
I. "I have often thought my head would split."

Carthew burst into his foolish laugh. "And yet neither you nor I had the
worst of the puzzle," he cried. "There were others deeper in."

"And who were they?" I asked.

"The underwriters," said he.

"Why, to be sure!" cried I, "I never thought of that. What could they
make of it?"

"Nothing," replied Carthew. "It couldn't be explained. They were a crowd
of small dealers at Lloyd's who took it up in syndicate; one of them has
a carriage now; and people say he is a deuce of a deep fellow, and has
the makings of a great financier. Another furnished a small villa on
the profits. But they're all hopelessly muddled; and when they meet each
other, they don't know where to look, like the Augurs."

Dinner was no sooner at an end than he carried me across the road
to Masson's old studio. It was strangely changed. On the walls were
tapestry, a few good etchings, and some amazing pictures--a Rousseau, a
Corot, a really superb old Crome, a Whistler, and a piece which my host
claimed (and I believe) to be a Titian. The room was furnished with
comfortable English smoking-room chairs, some American rockers, and
an elaborate business table; spirits and soda-water (with the mark of
Schweppe, no less) stood ready on a butler's tray, and in one corner,
behind a half-drawn curtain, I spied a camp-bed and a capacious tub.
Such a room in Barbizon astonished the beholder, like the glories of the
cave of Monte Cristo.

"Now," said he, "we are quiet. Sit down, if you don't mind, and tell me
your story all through."

I did as he asked, beginning with the day when Jim showed me the passage
in the _Daily Occidental_, and winding up with the stamp album and the
Chailly postmark. It was a long business; and Carthew made it longer,
for he was insatiable of details; and it had struck midnight on the old
eight-day clock in the corner, before I had made an end.

"And now," said he, "turn about: I must tell you my side, much as I hate
it. Mine is a beastly story. You'll wonder how I can sleep. I've told it
once before, Mr. Dodd."

"To Lady Ann?" I asked.

"As you suppose," he answered; "and to say the truth, I had sworn never
to tell it again. Only, you seem somehow entitled to the thing; you have
paid dear enough, God knows; and God knows I hope you may like it, now
you've got it!"

With that he began his yarn. A new day had dawned, the cocks crew in the
village and the early woodmen were afoot, when he concluded.






Singleton Carthew, the father of Norris, was heavily built and feebly
vitalised, sensitive as a musician, dull as a sheep, and conscientious
as a dog. He took his position with seriousness, even with pomp; the
long rooms, the silent servants, seemed in his eyes like the observances
of some religion of which he was the mortal god. He had the stupid man's
intolerance of stupidity in others; the vain man's exquisite alarm lest
it should be detected in himself. And on both sides Norris irritated and
offended him. He thought his son a fool, and he suspected that his son
returned the compliment with interest. The history of their relation was
simple; they met seldom, they quarrelled often. To his mother, a fiery,
pungent, practical woman, already disappointed in her husband and her
elder son, Norris was only a fresh disappointment.

Yet the lad's faults were no great matter; he was diffident, placable,
passive, unambitious, unenterprising; life did not much attract him; he
watched it like a curious and dull exhibition, not much amused, and not
tempted in the least to take a part. He beheld his father ponderously
grinding sand, his mother fierily breaking butterflies, his brother
labouring at the pleasures of the Hawbuck with the ardour of a soldier
in a doubtful battle; and the vital sceptic looked on wondering. They
were careful and troubled about many things; for him there seemed not
even one thing needful. He was born disenchanted, the world's promises
awoke no echo in his bosom, the world's activities and the world's
distinctions seemed to him equally without a base in fact. He liked the
open air; he liked comradeship, it mattered not with whom, his comrades
were only a remedy for solitude. And he had a taste for painted art. An
array of fine pictures looked upon his childhood, and from these roods
of jewelled canvas he received an indelible impression. The gallery at
Stallbridge betokened generations of picture lovers; Norris was perhaps
the first of his race to hold the pencil. The taste was genuine, it
grew and strengthened with his growth; and yet he suffered it to be
suppressed with scarce a struggle. Time came for him to go to Oxford,
and he resisted faintly. He was stupid, he said; it was no good to put
him through the mill; he wished to be a painter. The words fell on his
father like a thunderbolt, and Norris made haste to give way. "It didn't
really matter, don't you know?" said he. "And it seemed an awful shame
to vex the old boy."

To Oxford he went obediently, hopelessly; and at Oxford became the
hero of a certain circle. He was active and adroit; when he was in
the humour, he excelled in many sports; and his singular melancholy
detachment gave him a place apart. He set a fashion in his clique.
Envious undergraduates sought to parody his unaffected lack of zeal
and fear; it was a kind of new Byronism more composed and dignified.
"Nothing really mattered"; among other things, this formula embraced the
dons; and though he always meant to be civil, the effect on the college
authorities was one of startling rudeness. His indifference cut like
insolence; and in some outbreak of his constitutional levity (the
complement of his melancholy) he was "sent down" in the middle of the
second year.

The event was new in the annals of the Carthews, and Singleton was
prepared to make the most of it. It had been long his practice to
prophesy for his second son a career of ruin and disgrace. There is
an advantage in this artless parental habit. Doubtless the father
is interested in his son; but doubtless also the prophet grows to be
interested in his prophecies. If the one goes wrong, the others come
true. Old Carthew drew from this source esoteric consolations; he dwelt
at length on his own foresight; he produced variations hitherto unheard
from the old theme "I told you so," coupled his son's name with the
gallows and the hulks, and spoke of his small handful of college debts
as though he must raise money on a mortgage to discharge them.

"I don't think that is fair, sir," said Norris. "I lived at college
exactly as you told me. I am sorry I was sent down, and you have a
perfect right to blame me for that; but you have no right to pitch into
me about these debts."

The effect upon a stupid man not unjustly incensed need scarcely be
described. For a while Singleton raved.

"I'll tell you what, father," said Norris at last, "I don't think this
is going to do. I think you had better let me take to painting. It's
the only thing I take a spark of interest in. I shall never be steady as
long as I'm at anything else."

"When you stand here, sir, to the neck in disgrace," said the father, "I
should have hoped you would have had more good taste than to repeat this

The hint was taken; the levity was never more obtruded on the father's
notice, and Norris was inexorably launched upon a backward voyage. He
went abroad to study foreign languages, which he learned, at a very
expensive rate; and a fresh crop of debts fell soon to be paid, with
similar lamentations, which were in this case perfectly justified, and
to which Norris paid no regard. He had been unfairly treated over the
Oxford affair; and with a spice of malice very surprising in one so
placable, and an obstinacy remarkable in one so weak, refused from that
day forward to exercise the least captaincy on his expenses. He wasted
what he would; he allowed his servants to despoil him at their pleasure;
he sowed insolvency; and when the crop was ripe, notified his father
with exasperating calm. His own capital was put in his hands, he was
planted in the diplomatic service and told he must depend upon himself.

He did so till he was twenty-five; by which time he had spent his money,
laid in a handsome choice of debts, and acquired (like so many other
melancholic and uninterested persons) a habit of gambling. An Austrian
colonel--the same who afterwards hanged himself at Monte Carlo--gave
him a lesson which lasted two-and-twenty hours, and left him wrecked and
helpless. Old Singleton once more repurchased the honour of his name,
this time at a fancy figure; and Norris was set afloat again on stern
conditions. An allowance of three hundred pounds in the year was to be
paid to him quarterly by a lawyer in Sydney, New South Wales. He was not
to write. Should he fail on any quarter-day to be in Sydney, he was to
be held for dead, and the allowance tacitly withdrawn. Should he return
to Europe, an advertisement publicly disowning him was to appear in
every paper of repute.

It was one of his most annoying features as a son, that he was always
polite, always just, and in whatever whirlwind of domestic anger, always
calm. He expected trouble; when trouble came, he was unmoved: he might
have said with Singleton, "I told you so"; he was content with thinking,
"just as I expected." On the fall of these last thunderbolts, he bore
himself like a person only distantly interested in the event; pocketed
the money and the reproaches, obeyed orders punctually; took ship and
came to Sydney. Some men are still lads at twenty-five; and so it was
with Norris. Eighteen days after he landed, his quarter's allowance was
all gone, and with the light-hearted hopefulness of strangers in what
is called a new country, he began to besiege offices and apply for all
manner of incongruous situations. Everywhere, and last of all from his
lodgings, he was bowed out; and found himself reduced, in a very elegant
suit of summer tweeds, to herd and camp with the degraded outcasts of
the city.

In this strait, he had recourse to the lawyer who paid him his

"Try to remember that my time is valuable, Mr. Carthew," said the
lawyer. "It is quite unnecessary you should enlarge on the peculiar
position in which you stand. Remittance men, as we call them here, are
not so rare in my experience; and in such cases I act upon a system. I
make you a present of a sovereign; here it is. Every day you choose to
call, my clerk will advance you a shilling; on Saturday, since my office
is closed on Sunday, he will advance you half a crown. My conditions are
these: that you do not come to me, but to my clerk; that you do not come
here the worse of liquor; and you go away the moment you are paid and
have signed a receipt. I wish you a good-morning."

"I have to thank you, I suppose," said Carthew. "My position is so
wretched that I cannot even refuse this starvation allowance."

"Starvation!" said the lawyer, smiling. "No man will starve here on a
shilling a day. I had on my hands another young gentleman, who remained
continuously intoxicated for six years on the same allowance." And he
once more busied himself with his papers.

In the time that followed, the image of the smiling lawyer haunted
Carthew's memory. "That three minutes' talk was all the education I
ever had worth talking of," says he. "It was all life in a nut-shell.
Confound it! I thought, have I got to the point of envying that ancient

Every morning for the next two or three weeks, the stroke of ten found
Norris, unkempt and haggard, at the lawyer's door. The long day and
longer night he spent in the Domain, now on a bench, now on the grass
under a Norfolk Island pine, the companion of perhaps the lowest class
on earth, the Larrikins of Sydney. Morning after morning, the dawn
behind the lighthouse recalled him from slumber; and he would stand and
gaze upon the changing east, the fading lenses, the smokeless city, and
the many-armed and many-masted harbour growing slowly clear under his
eyes. His bed-fellows (so to call them) were less active; they lay
sprawled upon the grass and benches, the dingy men, the frowsy women,
prolonging their late repose; and Carthew wandered among the sleeping
bodies alone, and cursed the incurable stupidity of his behaviour. Day
brought a new society of nursery-maids and children, and fresh-dressed
and (I am sorry to say) tight-laced maidens, and gay people in rich
traps; upon the skirts of which Carthew and "the other blackguards"--his
own bitter phrase--skulked, and chewed grass, and looked on. Day passed,
the light died, the green and leafy precinct sparkled with lamps or lay
in shadow, and the round of the night began again, the loitering women,
the lurking men, the sudden outburst of screams, the sound of flying
feet. "You mayn't believe it," says Carthew, "but I got to that pitch
that I didn't care a hang. I have been wakened out of my sleep to hear a
woman screaming, and I have only turned upon my other side. Yes, it's a
queer place, where the dowagers and the kids walk all day, and at night
you can hear people bawling for help as if it was the Forest of Bondy,
with the lights of a great town all round, and parties spinning through
in cabs from Government House and dinner with my lord!"

It was Norris's diversion, having none other, to scrape acquaintance,
where, how, and with whom he could. Many a long dull talk he held upon
the benches or the grass; many a strange waif he came to know; many
strange things he heard, and saw some that were abominable. It was to
one of these last that he owed his deliverance from the Domain. For some
time the rain had been merciless; one night after another he had been
obliged to squander fourpence on a bed and reduce his board to the
remaining eightpence: and he sat one morning near the Macquarrie Street
entrance, hungry, for he had gone without breakfast, and wet, as he had
already been for several days, when the cries of an animal in distress
attracted his attention. Some fifty yards away, in the extreme angle of
the grass, a party of the chronically unemployed had got hold of a dog,
whom they were torturing in a manner not to be described. The heart
of Norris, which had grown indifferent to the cries of human anger or
distress, woke at the appeal of the dumb creature. He ran amongst the
Larrikins, scattered them, rescued the dog, and stood at bay. They were
six in number, shambling gallowsbirds; but for once the proverb was
right, cruelty was coupled with cowardice, and the wretches cursed
him and made off. It chanced that this act of prowess had not passed
unwitnessed. On a bench near by there was seated a shopkeeper's
assistant out of employ, a diminutive, cheerful, red-headed creature by
the name of Hemstead. He was the last man to have interfered himself,
for his discretion more than equalled his valour; but he made haste
to congratulate Carthew, and to warn him he might not always be so

"They're a dyngerous lot of people about this park. My word! it doesn't
do to ply with them!" he observed, in that RYCY AUSTRYLIAN English,
which (as it has received the imprimatur of Mr. Froude) we should all
make haste to imitate.

"Why, I'm one of that lot myself," returned Carthew.

Hemstead laughed and remarked that he knew a gentleman when he saw one.

"For all that, I am simply one of the unemployed," said Carthew,
seating himself beside his new acquaintance, as he had sat (since this
experience began) beside so many dozen others.

"I'm out of a plyce myself," said Hemstead.

"You beat me all the way and back," says Carthew. "My trouble is that I
have never been in one."

"I suppose you've no tryde?" asked Hemstead.

"I know how to spend money," replied Carthew, "and I really do know
something of horses and something of the sea. But the unions head me
off; if it weren't for them, I might have had a dozen berths."

"My word!" cried the sympathetic listener. "Ever try the mounted
police?" he inquired.

"I did, and was bowled out," was the reply; "couldn't pass the doctors."

"Well, what do you think of the ryleways, then?" asked Hemstead.

"What do YOU think of them, if you come to that?" asked Carthew.

"O, _I_ don't think of them; I don't go in for manual labour," said the
little man proudly. "But if a man don't mind that, he's pretty sure of a
job there."

"By George, you tell me where to go!" cried Carthew, rising.

The heavy rains continued, the country was already overrun with floods;
the railway system daily required more hands, daily the superintendent
advertised; but "the unemployed" preferred the resources of charity
and rapine, and a navvy, even an amateur navvy, commanded money in the
market. The same night, after a tedious journey, and a change of trains
to pass a landslip, Norris found himself in a muddy cutting behind South
Clifton, attacking his first shift of manual labour.

For weeks the rain scarce relented. The whole front of the mountain
slipped seaward from above, avalanches of clay, rock, and uprooted
forest spewed over the cliffs and fell upon the beach or in the
breakers. Houses were carried bodily away and smashed like nuts; others
were menaced and deserted, the door locked, the chimney cold, the
dwellers fled elsewhere for safety. Night and day the fire blazed in
the encampment; night and day hot coffee was served to the overdriven
toilers in the shift; night and day the engineer of the section made his
rounds with words of encouragement, hearty and rough and well suited to
his men. Night and day, too, the telegraph clicked with disastrous news
and anxious inquiry. Along the terraced line of rail, rare trains came
creeping and signalling; and paused at the threatened corner, like
living things conscious of peril. The commandant of the post would
hastily review his labours, make (with a dry throat) the signal to
advance; and the whole squad line the way and look on in a choking
silence, or burst into a brief cheer as the train cleared the point of
danger and shot on, perhaps through the thin sunshine between squalls,
perhaps with blinking lamps into the gathering, rainy twilight.

One such scene Carthew will remember till he dies. It blew great guns
from the seaward; a huge surf bombarded, five hundred feet below him,
the steep mountain's foot; close in was a vessel in distress, firing
shots from a fowling-piece, if any help might come. So he saw and heard
her the moment before the train appeared and paused, throwing up a
Babylonian tower of smoke into the rain, and oppressing men's hearts
with the scream of her whistle. The engineer was there himself; he paled
as he made the signal: the engine came at a foot's pace; but the whole
bulk of mountain shook and seemed to nod seaward, and the watching
navvies instinctively clutched at shrubs and trees: vain precautions,
vain as the shots from the poor sailors. Once again fear was
disappointed; the train passed unscathed; and Norris, drawing a long
breath, remembered the labouring ship and glanced below. She was gone.

So the days and the nights passed: Homeric labour in Homeric
circumstance. Carthew was sick with sleeplessness and coffee; his hands,
softened by the wet, were cut to ribbons; yet he enjoyed a peace of
mind and health of body hitherto unknown. Plenty of open air, plenty of
physical exertion, a continual instancy of toil; here was what had been
hitherto lacking in that misdirected life, and the true cure of vital
scepticism. To get the train through: there was the recurrent problem;
no time remained to ask if it were necessary. Carthew, the idler, the
spendthrift, the drifting dilettant, was soon remarked, praised, and
advanced. The engineer swore by him and pointed him out for an example.
"I've a new chum, up here," Norris overheard him saying, "a young swell.
He's worth any two in the squad." The words fell on the ears of the
discarded son like music; and from that moment, he not only found an
interest, he took a pride, in his plebeian tasks.

The press of work was still at its highest when quarter-day approached.
Norris was now raised to a position of some trust; at his discretion,
trains were stopped or forwarded at the dangerous cornice near North
Clifton; and he found in this responsibility both terror and delight.
The thought of the seventy-five pounds that would soon await him at the
lawyer's, and of his own obligation to be present every quarter-day in
Sydney, filled him for a little with divided councils. Then he made
up his mind, walked in a slack moment to the inn at Clifton, ordered a
sheet of paper and a bottle of beer, and wrote, explaining that he held
a good appointment which he would lose if he came to Sydney, and asking
the lawyer to accept this letter as an evidence of his presence in the
colony, and retain the money till next quarter-day. The answer came in
course of post, and was not merely favourable but cordial. "Although
what you propose is contrary to the terms of my instructions," it ran,
"I willingly accept the responsibility of granting your request. I
should say I am agreeably disappointed in your behaviour. My experience
has not led me to found much expectations on gentlemen in your

The rains abated, and the temporary labour was discharged; not Norris,
to whom the engineer clung as to found money; not Norris, who found
himself a ganger on the line in the regular staff of navvies. His camp
was pitched in a grey wilderness of rock and forest, far from any house;
as he sat with his mates about the evening fire, the trains passing on
the track were their next and indeed their only neighbours, except
the wild things of the wood. Lovely weather, light and monotonous
employment, long hours of somnolent camp-fire talk, long sleepless
nights, when he reviewed his foolish and fruitless career as he rose and
walked in the moonlit forest, an occasional paper of which he would read
all, the advertisements with as much relish as the text: such was the
tenor of an existence which soon began to weary and harass him. He
lacked and regretted the fatigue, the furious hurry, the suspense, the
fires, the midnight coffee, the rude and mud-bespattered poetry of the
first toilful weeks. In the quietness of his new surroundings, a voice
summoned him from this exorbital part of life, and about the middle of
October he threw up his situation and bade farewell to the camp of tents
and the shoulder of Bald Mountain.

Clad in his rough clothes, with a bundle on his shoulder and his
accumulated wages in his pocket, he entered Sydney for the second time,
and walked with pleasure and some bewilderment in the cheerful streets,
like a man landed from a voyage. The sight of the people led him on. He
forgot his necessary errands, he forgot to eat. He wandered in moving
multitudes like a stick upon a river. Last he came to the Domain and
strolled there, and remembered his shame and sufferings, and looked with
poignant curiosity at his successors. Hemstead, not much shabbier and
no less cheerful than before, he recognised and addressed like an old
family friend.

"That was a good turn you did me," said he. "That railway was the making
of me. I hope you've had luck yourself."


"My word, no!" replied the little man. "I just sit here and read the
_Dead Bird_. It's the depression in tryde, you see. There's no positions
goin' that a man like me would care to look at." And he showed
Norris his certificates and written characters, one from a grocer
in Wooloomooloo, one from an ironmonger, and a third from a billiard
saloon. "Yes," he said, "I tried bein' a billiard marker. It's no
account; these lyte hours are no use for a man's health. I won't be no
man's slyve," he added firmly.

On the principle that he who is too proud to be a slave is usually not
too modest to become a pensioner, Carthew gave him half a sovereign,
and departed, being suddenly struck with hunger, in the direction of the
Paris House. When he came to that quarter of the city, the barristers
were trotting in the streets in wig and gown, and he stood to observe
them with his bundle on his shoulder, and his mind full of curious
recollections of the past.

"By George!" cried a voice, "it's Mr. Carthew!"

And turning about he found himself face to face with a handsome sunburnt
youth, somewhat fatted, arrayed in the finest of fine raiment, and
sporting about a sovereign's worth of flowers in his buttonhole. Norris
had met him during his first days in Sydney at a farewell supper; had
even escorted him on board a schooner full of cockroaches and black-boy
sailors, in which he was bound for six months among the islands; and had
kept him ever since in entertained remembrance. Tom Hadden (known to the
bulk of Sydney folk as Tommy) was heir to a considerable property, which
a prophetic father had placed in the hands of rigorous trustees. The
income supported Mr. Hadden in splendour for about three months out of
twelve; the rest of the year he passed in retreat among the islands.
He was now about a week returned from his eclipse, pervading Sydney in
hansom cabs and airing the first bloom of six new suits of clothes; and
yet the unaffected creature hailed Carthew in his working jeans and
with the damning bundle on his shoulder, as he might have claimed
acquaintance with a duke.

"Come and have a drink!" was his cheerful cry.

"I'm just going to have lunch at the Paris House," returned Carthew.
"It's a long time since I have had a decent meal."

"Splendid scheme!" said Hadden. "I've only had breakfast half an hour
ago; but we'll have a private room, and I'll manage to pick something.
It'll brace me up. I was on an awful tear last night, and I've met no
end of fellows this morning." To meet a fellow, and to stand and share a
drink, were with Tom synonymous terms.

They were soon at table in the corner room up-stairs, and paying due
attention to the best fare in Sydney. The odd similarity of their
positions drew them together, and they began soon to exchange
confidences. Carthew related his privations in the Domain and his toils
as a navvy; Hadden gave his experience as an amateur copra merchant in
the South Seas, and drew a humorous picture of life in a coral island.
Of the two plans of retirement, Carthew gathered that his own had been
vastly the more lucrative; but Hadden's trading outfit had consisted
largely of bottled stout and brown sherry for his own consumption.

"I had champagne too," said Hadden, "but I kept that in case of
sickness, until I didn't seem to be going to be sick, and then I opened
a pint every Sunday. Used to sleep all morning, then breakfast with my
pint of fizz, and lie in a hammock and read Hallam's _Middle Ages_. Have
you read that? I always take something solid to the islands. There's no
doubt I did the thing in rather a fine style; but if it was gone about a
little cheaper, or there were two of us to bear the expense, it ought
to pay hand over fist. I've got the influence, you see. I'm a chief now,
and sit in the speak-house under my own strip of roof. I'd like to see
them taboo ME! They daren't try it; I've a strong party, I can tell you.
Why, I've had upwards of thirty cowtops sitting in my front verandah
eating tins of salmon."

"Cowtops?" asked Carthew, "what are they?"

"That's what Hallam would call feudal retainers," explained Hadden, not
without vainglory. "They're My Followers. They belong to My Family.
I tell you, they come expensive, though; you can't fill up all these
retainers on tinned salmon for nothing; but whenever I could get it, I
would give 'em squid. Squid's good for natives, but I don't care for it,
do you?--or shark either. It's like the working classes at home. With
copra at the price it is, they ought to be willing to bear their share
of the loss; and so I've told them again and again. I think it's a man's
duty to open their minds, and I try to, but you can't get political
economy into them; it doesn't seem to reach their intelligence."


There was an expression still sticking in Carthew's memory, and he
returned upon it with a smile. "Talking of political economy," said he,
"you said if there were two of us to bear the expense, the profits would
increase. How do you make out that?"

"I'll show you! I'll figure it out for you!" cried Hadden, and with a
pencil on the back of the bill of fare proceeded to perform miracles. He
was a man, or let us rather say a lad, of unusual projective power. Give
him the faintest hint of any speculation, and the figures flowed from
him by the page. A lively imagination and a ready though inaccurate
memory supplied his data; he delivered himself with an inimitable heat
that made him seem the picture of pugnacity; lavished contradiction;
had a form of words, with or without significance, for every form of
criticism; and the looker-on alternately smiled at his simplicity and
fervour, or was amazed by his unexpected shrewdness. He was a kind of
Pinkerton in play. I have called Jim's the romance of business; this was
its Arabian tale.

"Have you any idea what this would cost?" he asked, pausing at an item.

"Not I," said Carthew.

"Ten pounds ought to be ample," concluded the projector.

"O, nonsense!" cried Carthew. "Fifty at the very least."

"You told me yourself this moment you knew nothing about it!" cried
Tommy. "How can I make a calculation, if you blow hot and cold? You
don't seem able to be serious!"

But he consented to raise his estimate to twenty; and a little after,
the calculation coming out with a deficit, cut it down again to five
pounds ten, with the remark, "I told you it was nonsense. This sort of
thing has to be done strictly, or where's the use?"

Some of these processes struck Carthew as unsound; and he was at times
altogether thrown out by the capricious startings of the prophet's mind.
These plunges seemed to be gone into for exercise and by the way, like
the curvets of a willing horse. Gradually the thing took shape; the
glittering if baseless edifice arose; and the hare still ran on the
mountains, but the soup was already served in silver plate. Carthew in a
few days could command a hundred and fifty pounds; Hadden was ready with
five hundred; why should they not recruit a fellow or two more, charter
an old ship, and go cruising on their own account? Carthew was an
experienced yachtsman; Hadden professed himself able to "work an
approximate sight." Money was undoubtedly to be made, or why should so
many vessels cruise about the islands? they, who worked their own ship,
were sure of a still higher profit.

"And whatever else comes of it, you see," cried Hadden, "we get our keep
for nothing. Come, buy some togs, that's the first thing you have to do
of course; and then we'll take a hansom and go to the Currency Lass."

"I'm going to stick to the togs I have," said Norris.

"Are you?" cried Hadden. "Well, I must say I admire you. You're a
regular sage. It's what you call Pythagoreanism, isn't it? if I haven't
forgotten my philosophy."

"Well, I call it economy," returned Carthew. "If we are going to try
this thing on, I shall want every sixpence."

"You'll see if we're going to try it!" cried Tommy, rising radiant from
table. "Only, mark you, Carthew, it must be all in your name. I have
capital, you see; but you're all right. You can play vacuus viator, if
the thing goes wrong."

"I thought we had just proved it was quite safe," said Carthew.

"There's nothing safe in business, my boy," replied the sage; "not even

The public house and tea garden called the Currency Lass represented
a moderate fortune gained by its proprietor, Captain Bostock, during
a long, active, and occasionally historic career among the islands.
Anywhere from Tonga to the Admiralty Isles, he knew the ropes and could
lie in the native dialect. He had seen the end of sandal wood, the end
of oil, and the beginning of copra; and he was himself a commercial
pioneer, the first that ever carried human teeth into the Gilberts. He
was tried for his life in Fiji in Sir Arthur Gordon's time; and if ever
he prayed at all, the name of Sir Arthur was certainly not forgotten. He
was speared in seven places in New Ireland--the same time his mate
was killed--the famous "outrage on the brig Jolly Roger"; but the
treacherous savages made little by their wickedness, and Bostock, in
spite of their teeth, got seventy-five head of volunteer labour on
board, of whom not more than a dozen died of injuries. He had a hand,
besides, in the amiable pleasantry which cost the life of Patteson; and
when the sham bishop landed, prayed, and gave his benediction to the
natives, Bostock, arrayed in a female chemise out of the traderoom, had
stood at his right hand and boomed amens. This, when he was sure he was
among good fellows, was his favourite yarn. "Two hundred head of labour
for a hatful of amens," he used to name the tale; and its sequel, the
death of the real bishop, struck him as a circumstance of extraordinary

Many of these details were communicated in the hansom, to the surprise
of Carthew.

"Why do we want to visit this old ruffian?" he asked.

"You wait till you hear him," replied Tommy. "That man knows

On descending from the hansom at the Currency Lass, Hadden was struck
with the appearance of the cabman, a gross, salt-looking man, red-faced,
blue-eyed, short-handed and short-winded, perhaps nearing forty.

"Surely I know you?" said he. "Have you driven me before?"

"Many's the time, Mr. Hadden," returned the driver. "The last time you
was back from the islands, it was me that drove you to the races, sir."

"All right: jump down and have a drink then," said Tom, and he turned
and led the way into the garden.

Captain Bostock met the party: he was a slow, sour old man, with
fishy eyes; greeted Tommy offhand, and (as was afterwards remembered)
exchanged winks with the driver.

"A bottle of beer for the cabman there at that table," said Tom.
"Whatever you please from shandygaff to champagne at this one here; and
you sit down with us. Let me make you acquainted with my friend, Mr.
Carthew. I've come on business, Billy; I want to consult you as a
friend; I'm going into the island trade upon my own account."


Doubtless the captain was a mine of counsel, but opportunity was denied
him. He could not venture on a statement, he was scarce allowed to
finish a phrase, before Hadden swept him from the field with a volley
of protest and correction. That projector, his face blazing with
inspiration, first laid before him at inordinate length a question, and
as soon as he attempted to reply, leaped at his throat, called his facts
in question, derided his policy, and at times thundered on him from the
heights of moral indignation.

"I beg your pardon," he said once. "I am a gentleman, Mr. Carthew here
is a gentleman, and we don't mean to do that class of business. Can't
you see who you are talking to? Can't you talk sense? Can't you give us
'a dead bird' for a good traderoom?"

"No, I don't suppose I can," returned old Bostock; "not when I can't
hear my own voice for two seconds together. It was gin and guns I did it

"Take your gin and guns to Putney!" cried Hadden. "It was the thing in
your times, that's right enough; but you're old now, and the game's up.
I'll tell you what's wanted now-a-days, Bill Bostock," said he; and did,
and took ten minutes to it.

Carthew could not refrain from smiling. He began to think less seriously
of the scheme, Hadden appearing too irresponsible a guide; but on the
other hand, he enjoyed himself amazingly. It was far from being the same
with Captain Bostock.

"You know a sight, don't you?" remarked that gentleman, bitterly, when
Tommy paused.

"I know a sight more than you, if that's what you mean," retorted Tom.
"It stands to reason I do. You're not a man of any education; you've
been all your life at sea or in the islands; you don't suppose you can
give points to a man like me?"

"Here's your health, Tommy," returned Bostock. "You'll make an A-one
bake in the New Hebrides."

"That's what I call talking," cried Tom, not perhaps grasping the spirit
of this doubtful compliment. "Now you give me your attention. We have
the money and the enterprise, and I have the experience: what we want is
a cheap, smart boat, a good captain, and an introduction to some house
that will give us credit for the trade."

"Well, I'll tell you," said Captain Bostock. "I have seen men like you
baked and eaten, and complained of afterwards. Some was tough, and some
hadn't no flaviour," he added grimly.

"What do you mean by that?" cried Tom.

"I mean I don't care," cried Bostock. "It ain't any of my interests. I
haven't underwrote your life. Only I'm blest if I'm not sorry for the
cannibal as tries to eat your head. And what I recommend is a cheap,
smart coffin and a good undertaker. See if you can find a house to give
you credit for a coffin! Look at your friend there; HE'S got some sense;
he's laughing at you so as he can't stand."

The exact degree of ill-feeling in Mr. Bostock's mind was difficult to
gauge; perhaps there was not much, perhaps he regarded his remarks as a
form of courtly badinage. But there is little doubt that Hadden resented
them. He had even risen from his place, and the conference was on
the point of breaking up, when a new voice joined suddenly in the

The cabman sat with his back turned upon the party, smoking a meerschaum
pipe. Not a word of Tommy's eloquence had missed him, and he now faced
suddenly about with these amazing words:--

"Excuse me, gentlemen; if you'll buy me the ship I want, I'll get you
the trade on credit."

There was a pause.

"Well, what do YOU, mean?" gasped Tommy.

"Better tell 'em who I am, Billy," said the cabman.

"Think it safe, Joe?" inquired Mr. Bostock.

"I'll take my risk of it," returned the cabman.

"Gentlemen," said Bostock, rising solemnly, "let me make you acquainted
with Captain Wicks of the Grace Darling."

"Yes, gentlemen, that is what I am," said the cabman. "You know I've
been in trouble; and I don't deny but what I struck the blow, and where
was I to get evidence of my provocation? So I turned to and took a cab,
and I've driven one for three year now and nobody the wiser."

"I beg your pardon," said Carthew, joining almost for the first time;
"I'm a new chum. What was the charge?"

"Murder," said Captain Wicks, "and I don't deny but what I struck the
blow. And there's no sense in my trying to deny I was afraid to go to
trial, or why would I be here? But it's a fact it was flat mutiny. Ask
Billy here. He knows how it was."

Carthew breathed long; he had a strange, half-pleasurable sense of
wading deeper in the tide of life. "Well," said he, "you were going on
to say?"

"I was going on to say this," said the captain sturdily. "I've overheard
what Mr. Hadden has been saying, and I think he talks good sense. I like
some of his ideas first chop. He's sound on traderooms; he's all there
on the traderoom, and I see that he and I would pull together. Then
you're both gentlemen, and I like that," observed Captain Wicks. "And
then I'll tell you I'm tired of this cabbing cruise, and I want to get
to work again. Now, here's my offer. I've a little money I can stake
up,--all of a hundred anyway. Then my old firm will give me trade, and
jump at the chance; they never lost by me; they know what I'm worth as
supercargo. And, last of all, you want a good captain to sail your ship
for you. Well, here I am. I've sailed schooners for ten years. Ask Billy
if I can handle a schooner."

"No man better," said Billy.

"And as for my character as a shipmate," concluded Wicks, "go and ask my
old firm."

"But look here!" cried Hadden, "how do you mean to manage? You can whisk
round in a hansom, and no questions asked. But if you try to come on a
quarter-deck, my boy, you'll get nabbed."

"I'll have to keep back till the last," replied Wicks, "and take another

"But how about clearing? what other name?" asked Tommy, a little

"I don't know yet," returned the captain, with a grin. "I'll see what
the name is on my new certificate, and that'll be good enough for me.
If I can't get one to buy, though I never heard of such a thing, there's
old Kirkup, he's turned some sort of farmer down Bondi way; he'll hire
me his."

"You seemed to speak as if you had a ship in view," said Carthew.

"So I have, too," said Captain Wicks, "and a beauty. Schooner yacht
Dream; got lines you never saw the beat of; and a witch to go. She
passed me once off Thursday Island, doing two knots to my one and laying
a point and a half better; and the Grace Darling was a ship that I was
proud of. I took and tore my hair. The Dream's been MY dream ever since.
That was in her old days, when she carried a blue ens'n. Grant Sanderson
was the party as owned her; he was rich and mad, and got a fever at last
somewhere about the Fly River, and took and died. The captain brought
the body back to Sydney, and paid off. Well, it turned out Grant
Sanderson had left any quantity of wills and any quantity of widows, and
no fellow could make out which was the genuine article. All the widows
brought lawsuits against all the rest, and every will had a firm of
lawyers on the quarterdeck as long as your arm. They tell me it was
one of the biggest turns-to that ever was seen, bar Tichborne; the Lord
Chamberlain himself was floored, and so was the Lord Chancellor; and all
that time the Dream lay rotting up by Glebe Point. Well, it's done now;
they've picked out a widow and a will; tossed up for it, as like as not;
and the Dream's for sale. She'll go cheap; she's had a long turn-to at

"What size is she?"

"Well, big enough. We don't want her bigger. A hundred and ninety, going
two hundred," replied the captain. "She's fully big for us three; it
would be all the better if we had another hand, though it's a pity too,
when you can pick up natives for half nothing. Then we must have a cook.
I can fix raw sailor-men, but there's no going to sea with a new-chum
cook. I can lay hands on the man we want for that: a Highway boy, an
old shipmate of mine, of the name of Amalu. Cooks first rate, and it's
always better to have a native; he aint fly, you can turn him to as you
please, and he don't know enough to stand out for his rights."

From the moment that Captain Wicks joined in the conversation, Carthew
recovered interest and confidence; the man (whatever he might have done)
was plainly good-natured, and plainly capable; if he thought well of the
enterprise, offered to contribute money, brought experience, and could
thus solve at a word the problem of the trade, Carthew was content to
go ahead. As for Hadden, his cup was full; he and Bostock forgave each
other in champagne; toast followed toast; it was proposed and carried
amid acclamation to change the name of the schooner (when she should
be bought) to the Currency Lass; and the Currency Lass Island Trading
Company was practically founded before dusk.

Three days later, Carthew stood before the lawyer, still in his jean
suit, received his hundred and fifty pounds, and proceeded rather
timidly to ask for more indulgence.

"I have a chance to get on in the world," he said. "By to-morrow evening
I expect to be part owner of a ship."

"Dangerous property, Mr. Carthew," said the lawyer.

"Not if the partners work her themselves and stand to go down along with
her," was the reply.

"I conceive it possible you might make something of it in that way,"
returned the other. "But are you a seaman? I thought you had been in the
diplomatic service."

"I am an old yachtsman," said Norris. "And I must do the best I can.
A fellow can't live in New South Wales upon diplomacy. But the point I
wish to prepare you for is this. It will be impossible I should present
myself here next quarter-day; we expect to make a six months' cruise of
it among the islands."

"Sorry, Mr. Carthew: I can't hear of that," replied the lawyer.

"I mean upon the same conditions as the last," said Carthew.

"The conditions are exactly opposite," said the lawyer. "Last time I
had reason to know you were in the colony; and even then I stretched a
point. This time, by your own confession, you are contemplating a breach
of the agreement; and I give you warning if you carry it out and I
receive proof of it (for I will agree to regard this conversation as
confidential) I shall have no choice but to do my duty. Be here on
quarter-day, or your allowance ceases."

"This is very hard and, I think, rather silly," returned Carthew.

"It is not of my doing. I have my instructions," said the lawyer.

"And you so read these instructions, that I am to be prohibited from
making an honest livelihood?" asked Carthew.

"Let us be frank," said the lawyer. "I find nothing in these
instructions about an honest livelihood. I have no reason to suppose
my clients care anything about that. I have reason to suppose only
one thing,--that they mean you shall stay in this colony, and to guess
another, Mr. Carthew. And to guess another."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Norris.

"I mean that I imagine, on very strong grounds, that your family desire
to see no more of you," said the lawyer. "O, they may be very wrong;
but that is the impression conveyed, that is what I suppose I am paid to
bring about, and I have no choice but to try and earn my hire."

"I would scorn to deceive you," said Norris, with a strong flush, "you
have guessed rightly. My family refuse to see me; but I am not going to
England, I am going to the islands. How does that affect the islands?"

"Ah, but I don't know that you are going to the islands," said the
lawyer, looking down, and spearing the blotting-paper with a pencil.

"I beg your pardon. I have the pleasure of informing you," said Norris.

"I am afraid, Mr. Carthew, that I cannot regard that communication as
official," was the slow reply.

"I am not accustomed to have my word doubted!" cried Norris.

"Hush! I allow no one to raise his voice in my office," said the
lawyer. "And for that matter--you seem to be a young gentleman of
sense--consider what I know of you. You are a discarded son; your family
pays money to be shut of you. What have you done? I don't know. But do
you not see how foolish I should be, if I exposed my business reputation
on the safeguard of the honour of a gentleman of whom I know just so
much and no more? This interview is very disagreeable. Why prolong it?
Write home, get my instructions changed, and I will change my behaviour.
Not otherwise."

"I am very fond of three hundred a year," said Norris, "but I cannot pay
the price required. I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you again."

"You must please yourself," said the lawyer. "Fail to be here next
quarter-day, and the thing stops. But I warn you, and I mean the warning
in a friendly spirit. Three months later you will be here begging, and I
shall have no choice but to show you in the street."

"I wish you a good-evening," said Norris.

"The same to you, Mr. Carthew," retorted the lawyer, and rang for his

So it befell that Norris during what remained to him of arduous days in
Sydney, saw not again the face of his legal adviser; and he was already
at sea, and land was out of sight, when Hadden brought him a Sydney
paper, over which he had been dozing in the shadow of the galley, and
showed him an advertisement.

"Mr. Norris Carthew is earnestly entreated to call without delay at the
office of Mr. ----, where important intelligence awaits him."

"It must manage to wait for me six months," said Norris, lightly enough,
but yet conscious of a pang of curiosity.






Before noon on the 26th November, there cleared from the port of Sydney
the schooner, Currency Lass. The owner, Norris Carthew, was on board in
the somewhat unusual position of mate; the master's name purported to
be William Kirkup; the cook was a Hawaiian boy, Joseph Amalu; and there
were two hands before the mast, Thomas Hadden and Richard Hemstead, the
latter chosen partly because of his humble character, partly because he
had an odd-job-man's handiness with tools. The Currency Lass was bound
for the South Sea Islands, and first of all for Butaritari in the
Gilberts, on a register; but it was understood about the harbour that
her cruise was more than half a pleasure trip. A friend of the late
Grant Sanderson (of Auchentroon and Kilclarty) might have recognised in
that tall-masted ship, the transformed and rechristened Dream; and
the Lloyd's surveyor, had the services of such a one been called in
requisition, must have found abundant subject of remark.

For time, during her three years' inaction, had eaten deep into the
Dream and her fittings; she had sold in consequence a shade above her
value as old junk; and the three adventurers had scarce been able to
afford even the most vital repairs. The rigging, indeed, had been partly
renewed, and the rest set up; all Grant Sanderson's old canvas had been
patched together into one decently serviceable suit of sails; Grant
Sanderson's masts still stood, and might have wondered at themselves.
"I haven't the heart to tap them," Captain Wicks used to observe, as he
squinted up their height or patted their rotundity; and "as rotten as
our foremast" was an accepted metaphor in the ship's company. The sequel
rather suggests it may have been sounder than was thought; but no one
knew for certain, just as no one except the captain appreciated the
dangers of the cruise. The captain, indeed, saw with clear eyes and
spoke his mind aloud; and though a man of an astonishing hot-blooded
courage, following life and taking its dangers in the spirit of a
hound upon the slot, he had made a point of a big whaleboat. "Take your
choice," he had said; "either new masts and rigging or that boat. I
simply ain't going to sea without the one or the other. Chicken coops
are good enough, no doubt, and so is a dinghy; but they ain't for Joe."
And his partners had been forced to consent, and saw six and thirty
pounds of their small capital vanish in the turn of a hand.

All four had toiled the best part of six weeks getting ready; and though
Captain Wicks was of course not seen or heard of, a fifth was there to
help them, a fellow in a bushy red beard, which he would sometimes lay
aside when he was below, and who strikingly resembled Captain Wicks in
voice and character. As for Captain Kirkup, he did not appear till the
last moment, when he proved to be a burly mariner, bearded like Abou
Ben Adhem. All the way down the harbour and through the Heads, his
milk-white whiskers blew in the wind and were conspicuous from shore;
but the Currency Lass had no sooner turned her back upon the lighthouse,
than he went below for the inside of five seconds and reappeared clean
shaven. So many doublings and devices were required to get to sea with
an unseaworthy ship and a captain that was "wanted." Nor might
even these have sufficed, but for the fact that Hadden was a public
character, and the whole cruise regarded with an eye of indulgence as
one of Tom's engaging eccentricities. The ship, besides, had been a
yacht before; and it came the more natural to allow her still some of
the dangerous liberties of her old employment.

A strange ship they had made of it, her lofty spars disfigured with
patched canvas, her panelled cabin fitted for a traderoom with rude
shelves. And the life they led in that anomalous schooner was no less
curious than herself. Amalu alone berthed forward; the rest occupied
staterooms, camped upon the satin divans, and sat down in Grant
Sanderson's parquetry smoking-room to meals of junk and potatoes, bad
of their kind and often scant in quantity. Hemstead grumbled; Tommy
had occasional moments of revolt and increased the ordinary by a
few haphazard tins or a bottle of his own brown sherry. But Hemstead
grumbled from habit, Tommy revolted only for the moment, and there
was underneath a real and general acquiescence in these hardships. For
besides onions and potatoes, the Currency Lass may be said to have
gone to sea without stores. She carried two thousand pounds' worth of
assorted trade, advanced on credit, their whole hope and fortune. It
was upon this that they subsisted--mice in their own granary. They dined
upon their future profits; and every scanty meal was so much in the
savings bank.

Republican as were their manners, there was no practical, at least no
dangerous, lack of discipline. Wicks was the only sailor on board,
there was none to criticise; and besides, he was so easy-going, and so
merry-minded, that none could bear to disappoint him. Carthew did his
best, partly for the love of doing it, partly for love of the captain;
Amalu was a willing drudge, and even Hemstead and Hadden turned to upon
occasion with a will. Tommy's department was the trade and traderoom; he
would work down in the hold or over the shelves of the cabin, till
the Sydney dandy was unrecognizable; come up at last, draw a bucket
of sea-water, bathe, change, and lie down on deck over a big sheaf of
Sydney _Heralds_ and _Dead Birds_, or perhaps with a volume of Buckle's
_History of Civilisation_, the standard work selected for that cruise.
In the latter case, a smile went round the ship, for Buckle almost
invariably laid his student out, and when Tom awoke again he was almost
always in the humour for brown sherry. The connection was so well
established that "a glass of Buckle" or "a bottle of civilisation"
became current pleasantries on board the Currency Lass.

Hemstead's province was that of the repairs, and he had his hands full.
Nothing on board but was decayed in a proportion; the lamps leaked; so
did the decks; door-knobs came off in the hand, mouldings parted company
with the panels, the pump declined to suck, and the defective bathroom
came near to swamp the ship. Wicks insisted that all the nails were long
ago consumed, and that she was only glued together by the rust. "You
shouldn't make me laugh so much, Tommy," he would say. "I'm afraid I'll
shake the sternpost out of her." And, as Hemstead went to and fro
with his tool basket on an endless round of tinkering, Wicks lost
no opportunity of chaffing him upon his duties. "If you'd turn to at
sailoring or washing paint or something useful, now," he would say,
"I could see the fun of it. But to be mending things that haven't no
insides to them appears to me the height of foolishness." And doubtless
these continual pleasantries helped to reassure the landsmen, who went
to and fro unmoved, under circumstances that might have daunted Nelson.

The weather was from the outset splendid, and the wind fair and steady.
The ship sailed like a witch. "This Currency Lass is a powerful old
girl, and has more complaints than I would care to put a name on," the
captain would say, as he pricked the chart; "but she could show her
blooming heels to anything of her size in the Western Pacific." To
wash decks, relieve the wheel, do the day's work after dinner on the
smoking-room table, and take in kites at night,--such was the easy
routine of their life. In the evening--above all, if Tommy had produced
some of his civilisation--yarns and music were the rule. Amalu had
a sweet Hawaiian voice; and Hemstead, a great hand upon the banjo,
accompanied his own quavering tenor with effect. There was a sense in
which the little man could sing. It was great to hear him deliver _My
Boy Tammie_ in Austrylian; and the words (some of the worst of the
ruffian Macneil's) were hailed in his version with inextinguishable

Where hye ye been a' dye?


he would ask, and answer himself:--

I've been by burn and flowery brye,
Meadow green an' mountain grye,
Courtin' o' this young thing,
Just come frye her mammie.

It was the accepted jest for all hands to greet the conclusion of this
song with the simultaneous cry: "My word!" thus winging the arrow of
ridicule with a feather from the singer's wing. But he had his
revenge with _Home, Sweet Home,_ and _Where is my Wandering Boy
To-night?_--ditties into which he threw the most intolerable pathos. It
appeared he had no home, nor had ever had one, nor yet any vestige of
a family, except a truculent uncle, a baker in Newcastle, N.S.W. His
domestic sentiment was therefore wholly in the air, and expressed
an unrealised ideal. Or perhaps, of all his experiences, this of
the Currency Lass, with its kindly, playful, and tolerant society,
approached it the most nearly.

It is perhaps because I know the sequel, but I can never think upon this
voyage without a profound sense of pity and mystery; of the ship (once
the whim of a rich blackguard) faring with her battered fineries
and upon her homely errand, across the plains of ocean, and past
the gorgeous scenery of dawn and sunset; and the ship's company, so
strangely assembled, so Britishly chuckle-headed, filling their days
with chaff in place of conversation; no human book on board with them
except Hadden's Buckle, and not a creature fit either to read or to
understand it; and the one mark of any civilised interest, being when
Carthew filled in his spare hours with the pencil and the brush: the
whole unconscious crew of them posting in the meanwhile towards so
tragic a disaster.

Twenty-eight days out of Sydney, on Christmas eve, they fetched up to
the entrance of the lagoon, and plied all that night outside, keeping
their position by the lights of fishers on the reef and the outlines of
the palms against the cloudy sky. With the break of day, the schooner
was hove to, and the signal for a pilot shown. But it was plain her
lights must have been observed in the darkness by the native fishermen,
and word carried to the settlement, for a boat was already under weigh.
She came towards them across the lagoon under a great press of sail,
lying dangerously down, so that at times, in the heavier puffs, they
thought she would turn turtle; covered the distance in fine style,
luffed up smartly alongside, and emitted a haggard looking white man in

"Good-mornin', Cap'n," said he, when he had made good his entrance. "I
was taking you for a Fiji man-of-war, what with your flush decks and
them spars. Well, gen'lemen all, here's wishing you a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year," he added, and lurched against a stay.

"Why, you're never the pilot?" exclaimed Wicks, studying him with a
profound disfavour. "You've never taken a ship in--don't tell me!"

"Well, I should guess I have," returned the pilot. "I'm Captain Dobbs,
I am; and when I take charge, the captain of that ship can go below and

"But, man alive! you're drunk, man!" cried the captain.

"Drunk!" repeated Dobbs. "You can't have seen much life if you call me
drunk. I'm only just beginning. Come night, I won't say; I guess I'll be
properly full by then. But now I'm the soberest man in all Big Muggin."

"It won't do," retorted Wicks. "Not for Joseph, sir. I can't have you
piling up my schooner."

"All right," said Dobbs, "lay and rot where you are, or take and go
in and pile her up for yourself like the captain of the Leslie. That's
business, I guess; grudged me twenty dollars' pilotage, and lost twenty
thousand in trade and a brand new schooner; ripped the keel right off of
her, and she went down in the inside of four minutes, and lies in twenty
fathom, trade and all."

"What's all this?" cried Wicks. "Trade? What vessel was this Leslie,

"Consigned to Cohen and Co., from 'Frisco," returned the pilot, "and
badly wanted. There's a barque inside filling up for Hamburg--you see
her spars over there; and there's two more ships due, all the way from
Germany, one in two months, they say, and one in three; Cohen and Co.'s
agent (that's Mr. Topelius) has taken and lain down with the jaundice on
the strength of it. I guess most people would, in his shoes; no trade,
no copra, and twenty hundred ton of shipping due. If you've any copra on
board, cap'n, here's your chance. Topelius will buy, gold down, and give
three cents. It's all found money to him, the way it is, whatever he
pays for it. And that's what come of going back on the pilot."

"Excuse me one moment, Captain Dobbs. I wish to speak with my mate,"
said the captain, whose face had begun to shine and his eyes to sparkle.

"Please yourself," replied the pilot. "You couldn't think of offering
a man a nip, could you? just to brace him up. This kind of thing looks
damned inhospitable, and gives a schooner a bad name."

"I'll talk about that after the anchor's down," returned Wicks, and he
drew Carthew forward. "I say," he whispered, "here's a fortune."

"How much do you call that?" asked Carthew.

"I can't put a figure on it yet--I daren't!" said the captain. "We might
cruise twenty years and not find the match of it. And suppose another
ship came in to-night? Everything's possible! And the difficulty is
this Dobbs. He's as drunk as a marine. How can we trust him? We ain't
insured--worse luck!"

"Suppose you took him aloft and got him to point out the channel?"
suggested Carthew. "If he tallied at all with the chart, and didn't fall
out of the rigging, perhaps we might risk it."

"Well, all's risk here," returned the captain. "Take the wheel yourself,
and stand by. Mind, if there's two orders, follow mine, not his. Set the
cook for'ard with the heads'ls, and the two others at the main sheet,
and see they don't sit on it." With that he called the pilot; they
swarmed aloft in the fore rigging, and presently after there was bawled
down the welcome order to ease sheets and fill away.

At a quarter before nine o'clock on Christmas morning the anchor was let

The first cruise of the Currency Lass had thus ended in a stroke of
fortune almost beyond hope. She had brought two thousand pounds' worth
of trade, straight as a homing pigeon, to the place where it was most
required. And Captain Wicks (or, rather, Captain Kirkup) showed himself
the man to make the best of his advantage. For hard upon two days he
walked a verandah with Topelius, for hard upon two days his partners
watched from the neighbouring public house the field of battle; and the
lamps were not yet lighted on the evening of the second before the enemy
surrendered. Wicks came across to the Sans Souci, as the saloon was
called, his face nigh black, his eyes almost closed and all bloodshot,
and yet bright as lighted matches.

"Come out here, boys," he said; and when they were some way off
among the palms, "I hold twenty-four," he added in a voice scarcely
recognizable, and doubtless referring to the venerable game of cribbage.

"What do you mean?" asked Tommy.

"I've sold the trade," answered Wicks; "or, rather, I've sold only
some of it, for I've kept back all the mess beef and half the flour and
biscuit; and, by God, we're still provisioned for four months! By God,
it's as good as stolen!"

"My word!" cried Hemstead.

"But what have you sold it for?" gasped Carthew, the captain's almost
insane excitement shaking his nerve.

"Let me tell it my own way," cried Wicks, loosening his neck. "Let me
get at it gradual, or I'll explode. I've not only sold it, boys, I've
wrung out a charter on my own terms to 'Frisco and back; on my own
terms. I made a point of it. I fooled him first by making believe I
wanted copra, which of course I knew he wouldn't hear of--couldn't, in
fact; and whenever he showed fight, I trotted out the copra, and that
man dived! I would take nothing but copra, you see; and so I've got the
blooming lot in specie--all but two short bills on 'Frisco. And the sum?
Well, this whole adventure, including two thousand pounds of credit,
cost us two thousand seven hundred and some odd. That's all paid back;
in thirty days' cruise we've paid for the schooner and the trade. Heard
ever any man the match of that? And it's not all! For besides that,"
said the captain, hammering his words, "we've got Thirteen Blooming
Hundred Pounds of profit to divide. I bled him in four Thou.!" he cried,
in a voice that broke like a schoolboy's.

For a moment the partners looked upon their chief with stupefaction,
incredulous surprise their only feeling. Tommy was the first to grasp
the consequences.

"Here," he said, in a hard, business tone. "Come back to that saloon.
I've got to get drunk."

"You must please excuse me, boys," said the captain, earnestly. "I
daren't taste nothing. If I was to drink one glass of beer, it's my
belief I'd have the apoplexy. The last scrimmage, and the blooming
triumph, pretty nigh hand done me."

"Well, then, three cheers for the captain," proposed Tommy.

But Wicks held up a shaking hand. "Not that either, boys," he pleaded.
"Think of the other buffer, and let him down easy. If I'm like this,
just fancy what Topelius is! If he heard us singing out, he'd have the

As a matter of fact, Topelius accepted his defeat with a good grace;
but the crew of the wrecked Leslie, who were in the same employment and
loyal to their firm, took the thing more bitterly. Rough words and ugly
looks were common. Once even they hooted Captain Wicks from the saloon
verandah; the Currency Lasses drew out on the other side; for some
minutes there had like to have been a battle in Butaritari; and though
the occasion passed off without blows, it left on either side an
increase of ill-feeling.

No such small matter could affect the happiness of the successful
traders. Five days more the ship lay in the lagoon, with little
employment for any one but Tommy and the captain, for Topelius's natives
discharged cargo and brought ballast; the time passed like a pleasant
dream; the adventurers sat up half the night debating and praising their
good fortune, or strayed by day in the narrow isle, gaping like Cockney
tourists; and on the first of the new year, the Currency Lass weighed
anchor for the second time and set sail for 'Frisco, attended by the
same fine weather and good luck. She crossed the doldrums with but
small delay; on a wind and in ballast of broken coral, she outdid
expectations; and, what added to the happiness of the ship's company,
the small amount of work that fell on them to do, was now lessened by
the presence of another hand. This was the boatswain of the Leslie; he
had been on bad terms with his own captain, had already spent his wages
in the saloons of Butaritari, had wearied of the place, and while all
his shipmates coldly refused to set foot on board the Currency Lass, he
had offered to work his passage to the coast. He was a north of Ireland
man, between Scotch and Irish, rough, loud, humorous, and emotional, not
without sterling qualities, and an expert and careful sailor. His frame
of mind was different indeed from that of his new shipmates; instead of
making an unexpected fortune, he had lost a berth; and he was besides
disgusted with the rations, and really appalled at the condition of the
schooner. A stateroom door had stuck, the first day at sea, and Mac (as
they called him) laid his strength to it and plucked it from the hinges.

"Glory!" said he, "this ship's rotten."

"I believe you, my boy," said Captain Wicks.

The next day the sailor was observed with his nose aloft.

"Don't you get looking at these sticks," the captain said, "or you'll
have a fit and fall overboard."

Mac turned towards the speaker with rather a wild eye. "Why, I see what
looks like a patch of dry rot up yonder, that I bet I could stick my
fist into," said he.

"Looks as if a fellow could stick his head into it, don't it?" returned
Wicks. "But there's no good prying into things that can't be mended."

"I think I was a Currency Ass to come on board of her!" reflected Mac.

"Well, I never said she was seaworthy," replied the captain: "I only
said she could show her blooming heels to anything afloat. And besides,
I don't know that it's dry rot; I kind of sometimes hope it isn't. Here;
turn to and heave the log; that'll cheer you up."

"Well, there's no denying it, you're a holy captain," said Mac.

And from that day on, he made but the one reference to the ship's
condition; and that was whenever Tommy drew upon his cellar. "Here's to
the junk trade!" he would say, as he held out his can of sherry.

"Why do you always say that?" asked Tommy.

"I had an uncle in the business," replied Mac, and launched at once into
a yarn, in which an incredible number of the characters were "laid
out as nice as you would want to see," and the oaths made up about
two-fifths of every conversation.

Only once he gave them a taste of his violence; he talked of it, indeed,
often; "I'm rather a voilent man," he would say, not without pride; but
this was the only specimen. Of a sudden, he turned on Hemstead in the
ship's waist, knocked him against the foresail boom, then knocked him
under it, and had set him up and knocked him down once more, before any
one had drawn a breath.

"Here! Belay that!" roared Wicks, leaping to his feet. "I won't have
none of this."

Mac turned to the captain with ready civility. "I only want to learn him
manners," said he. "He took and called me Irishman."

"Did he?" said Wicks. "O, that's a different story! What made you do it,
you tomfool? You ain't big enough to call any man that."

"I didn't call him it," spluttered Hemstead, through his blood and
tears. "I only mentioned-like he was."

"Well, let's have no more of it," said Wicks.

"But you ARE Irish, ain't you?" Carthew asked of his new shipmate
shortly after.

"I may be," replied Mac, "but I'll allow no Sydney duck to call me so.
No," he added, with a sudden heated countenance, "nor any Britisher that
walks! Why, look here," he went on, "you're a young swell, aren't you?
Suppose I called you that! 'I'll show you,' you would say, and turn to
and take it out of me straight."

On the 28th of January, when in lat. 27 degrees 20' N., long. 177
degrees W., the wind chopped suddenly into the west, not very strong,
but puffy and with flaws of rain. The captain, eager for easting, made
a fair wind of it and guyed the booms out wing and wing. It was Tommy's
trick at the wheel, and as it was within half an hour of the relief
(seven thirty in the morning), the captain judged it not worth while to
change him.

The puffs were heavy but short; there was nothing to be called a squall,
no danger to the ship, and scarce more than usual to the doubtful spars.
All hands were on deck in their oilskins, expecting breakfast; the
galley smoked, the ship smelt of coffee, all were in good humour to be
speeding eastward a full nine; when the rotten foresail tore suddenly
between two cloths and then split to either hand. It was for all the
world as though some archangel with a huge sword had slashed it with the
figure of a cross; all hands ran to secure the slatting canvas; and in
the sudden uproar and alert, Tommy Hadden lost his head. Many of his
days have been passed since then in explaining how the thing happened;
of these explanations it will be sufficient to say that they were all
different and none satisfactory; and the gross fact remains that the
main boom gybed, carried away the tackle, broke the mainmast some three
feet above the deck and whipped it overboard. For near a minute the
suspected foremast gallantly resisted; then followed its companion; and
by the time the wreck was cleared, of the whole beautiful fabric that
enabled them to skim the seas, two ragged stumps remained.

In these vast and solitary waters, to be dismasted is perhaps the worst
calamity. Let the ship turn turtle and go down, and at least the pang is
over. But men chained on a hulk may pass months scanning the empty sea
line and counting the steps of death's invisible approach. There is
no help but in the boats, and what a help is that! There heaved the
Currency Lass, for instance, a wingless lump, and the nearest human
coast (that of Kauai in the Sandwiches) lay about a thousand miles to
south and east of her. Over the way there, to men contemplating that
passage in an open boat, all kinds of misery, and the fear of death and
of madness, brooded.

A serious company sat down to breakfast; but the captain helped his
neighbours with a smile.

"Now, boys," he said, after a pull at the hot coffee, "we're done with
this Currency Lass, and no mistake. One good job: we made her pay while
she lasted, and she paid first rate; and if we were to try our hand
again, we can try in style. Another good job: we have a fine, stiff,
roomy boat, and you know who you have to thank for that. We've got six
lives to save, and a pot of money; and the point is, where are we to
take 'em?"

"It's all two thousand miles to the nearest of the Sandwiches, I fancy,"
observed Mac.

"No, not so bad as that," returned the captain. "But it's bad enough:
rather better'n a thousand."

"I know a man who once did twelve hundred in a boat," said Mac, "and he
had all he wanted. He fetched ashore in the Marquesas, and never set a
foot on anything floating from that day to this. He said he would rather
put a pistol to his head and knock his brains out."

"Ay, ay!" said Wicks. "Well I remember a boat's crew that made this very
island of Kauai, and from just about where we lie, or a bit further.
When they got up with the land, they were clean crazy. There was an
iron-bound coast and an Old Bob Ridley of a surf on. The natives hailed
'em from fishing-boats, and sung out it couldn't be done at the money.
Much they cared! there was the land, that was all they knew; and they
turned to and drove the boat slap ashore in the thick of it, and was
all drowned but one. No; boat trips are my eye," concluded the captain,

The tone was surprising in a man of his indomitable temper. "Come,
Captain," said Carthew, "you have something else up your sleeve; out
with it!"

"It's a fact," admitted Wicks. "You see there's a raft of little bally
reefs about here, kind of chicken-pox on the chart. Well, I looked 'em
all up, and there's one--Midway or Brooks they call it, not forty mile
from our assigned position--that I got news of. It turns out it's a
coaling station of the Pacific Mail," he said, simply.

"Well, and I know it ain't no such a thing," said Mac. "I been
quartermaster in that line myself."

"All right," returned Wicks. "There's the book. Read what Hoyt
says--read it aloud and let the others hear."

Hoyt's falsehood (as readers know) was explicit; incredulity was
impossible, and the news itself delightful beyond hope. Each saw in his
mind's eye the boat draw in to a trim island with a wharf, coal-sheds,
gardens, the Stars and Stripes and the white cottage of the keeper;
saw themselves idle a few weeks in tolerable quarters, and then step on
board the China mail, romantic waifs, and yet with pocketsful of money,
calling for champagne, and waited on by troops of stewards. Breakfast,
that had begun so dully, ended amid sober jubilation, and all hands
turned immediately to prepare the boat.

Now that all spars were gone, it was no easy job to get her launched.
Some of the necessary cargo was first stowed on board; the specie, in
particular, being packed in a strong chest and secured with lashings to
the afterthwart in case of a capsize. Then a piece of the bulwark was
razed to the level of the deck, and the boat swung thwart-ship, made
fast with a slack line to either stump, and successfully run out. For a
voyage of forty miles to hospitable quarters, not much food or water
was required; but they took both in superfluity. Amalu and Mac, both
ingrained sailor-men, had chests which were the headquarters of their
lives; two more chests with handbags, oilskins, and blankets supplied
the others; Hadden, amid general applause, added the last case of the
brown sherry; the captain brought the log, instruments, and chronometer;
nor did Hemstead forget the banjo or a pinned handkerchief of Butaritari

It was about three P.M. when they pushed off, and (the wind being still
westerly) fell to the oars. "Well, we've got the guts out of YOU!" was
the captain's nodded farewell to the hulk of the Currency Lass, which
presently shrank and faded in the sea. A little after a calm succeeded,
with much rain; and the first meal was eaten, and the watch below lay
down to their uneasy slumber on the bilge under a roaring shower-bath.
The twenty-ninth dawned overhead from out of ragged clouds; there is
no moment when a boat at sea appears so trenchantly black and so
conspicuously little; and the crew looked about them at the sky and
water with a thrill of loneliness and fear. With sunrise the trade set
in, lusty and true to the point; sail was made; the boat flew; and by
about four in the afternoon, they were well up with the closed part of
the reef, and the captain standing on the thwart, and holding by the
mast, was studying the island through the binoculars.

"Well, and where's your station?" cried Mac.

"I don't someway pick it up," replied the captain.

"No, nor never will!" retorted Mac, with a clang of despair and triumph
in his tones.

The truth was soon plain to all. No buoys, no beacons, no lights, no
coal, no station; the castaways pulled through a lagoon and landed on
an isle, where was no mark of man but wreckwood, and no sound but of the
sea. For the seafowl that harboured and lived there at the epoch of my
visit were then scattered into the uttermost parts of the ocean, and
had left no traces of their sojourn besides dropped feathers and addled
eggs. It was to this they had been sent, for this they had stooped all
night over the dripping oars, hourly moving further from relief. The
boat, for as small as it was, was yet eloquent of the hands of men, a
thing alone indeed upon the sea but yet in itself all human; and the
isle, for which they had exchanged it, was ingloriously savage, a place
of distress, solitude, and hunger unrelieved. There was a strong glare
and shadow of the evening over all; in which they sat or lay, not
speaking, careless even to eat, men swindled out of life and riches by
a lying book. In the great good nature of the whole party, no word of
reproach had been addressed to Hadden, the author of these disasters.
But the new blow was less magnanimously borne, and many angry glances
rested on the captain.

Yet it was himself who roused them from their lethargy. Grudgingly they
obeyed, drew the boat beyond tidemark, and followed him to the top of
the miserable islet, whence a view was commanded of the whole wheel of
the horizon, then part darkened under the coming night, part dyed with
the hues of the sunset and populous with the sunset clouds. Here the
camp was pitched and a tent run up with the oars, sails, and mast. And
here Amalu, at no man's bidding, from the mere instinct of habitual
service, built a fire and cooked a meal. Night was come, and the stars
and the silver sickle of new moon beamed overhead, before the meal
was ready. The cold sea shone about them, and the fire glowed in their
faces, as they ate. Tommy had opened his case, and the brown sherry went
the round; but it was long before they came to conversation.

"Well, is it to be Kauai after all?" asked Mac suddenly.

"This is bad enough for me," said Tommy. "Let's stick it out where we

"Well, I can tell ye one thing," said Mac, "if ye care to hear it. When
I was in the China mail, we once made this island. It's in the course
from Honolulu."

"Deuce it is!" cried Carthew. "That settles it, then. Let's stay. We
must keep good fires going; and there's plenty wreck."

"Lashings of wreck!" said the Irishman. "There's nothing here but wreck
and coffin boards."

"But we'll have to make a proper blyze," objected Hemstead. "You can't
see a fire like this, not any wye awye, I mean."

"Can't you?" said Carthew. "Look round."

They did, and saw the hollow of the night, the bare, bright face of the
sea, and the stars regarding them; and the voices died in their bosoms
at the spectacle. In that huge isolation, it seemed they must be visible
from China on the one hand and California on the other.

"My God, it's dreary!" whispered Hemstead.

"Dreary?" cried Mac, and fell suddenly silent.

"It's better than a boat, anyway," said Hadden. "I've had my bellyful of

"What kills me is that specie!" the captain broke out. "Think of all
that riches,--four thousand in gold, bad silver, and short bills--all
found money, too!--and no more use than that much dung!"

"I'll tell you one thing," said Tommy. "I don't like it being in the
boat--I don't care to have it so far away."

"Why, who's to take it?" cried Mac, with a guffaw of evil laughter.

But this was not at all the feeling of the partners, who rose, clambered
down the isle, brought back the inestimable treasure-chest slung upon
two oars, and set it conspicuous in the shining of the fire.

"There's my beauty!" cried Wicks, viewing it with a cocked head. "That's
better than a bonfire. What! we have a chest here, and bills for close
upon two thousand pounds; there's no show to that,--it would go in
your vest-pocket,--but the rest! upwards of forty pounds avoirdupois of
coined gold, and close on two hundredweight of Chile silver! What! ain't
that good enough to fetch a fleet? Do you mean to say that won't affect
a ship's compass? Do you mean to tell me that the lookout won't turn to
and SMELL it?" he cried.

Mac, who had no part nor lot in the bills, the forty pounds of gold, or
the two hundredweight of silver, heard this with impatience, and fell
into a bitter, choking laughter. "You'll see!" he said harshly. "You'll
be glad to feed them bills into the fire before you're through with ut!"
And he turned, passed by himself out of the ring of the firelight, and
stood gazing seaward.

His speech and his departure extinguished instantly those sparks of
better humour kindled by the dinner and the chest. The group fell again
to an ill-favoured silence, and Hemstead began to touch the banjo, as
was his habit of an evening. His repertory was small: the chords of
_Home, Sweet Home_ fell under his fingers; and when he had played the
symphony, he instinctively raised up his voice. "Be it never so 'umble,
there's no plyce like 'ome," he sang. The last word was still upon his
lips, when the instrument was snatched from him and dashed into the
fire; and he turned with a cry to look into the furious countenance of

"I'll be damned if I stand this!" cried the captain, leaping up

"I told ye I was a voilent man," said Mac, with a movement of
deprecation very surprising in one of his character. "Why don't he give
me a chance then? Haven't we enough to bear the way we are?" And to the
wonder and dismay of all, the man choked upon a sob. "It's ashamed of
meself I am," he said presently, his Irish accent twenty-fold increased.
"I ask all your pardons for me voilence; and especially the little
man's, who is a harmless crayture, and here's me hand to'm, if he'll
condescind to take me by 't."

So this scene of barbarity and sentimentalism passed off, leaving behind
strange and incongruous impressions. True, every one was perhaps glad
when silence succeeded that all too appropriate music; true, Mac's
apology and subsequent behaviour rather raised him in the opinion of
his fellow-castaways. But the discordant note had been struck, and its
harmonics tingled in the brain. In that savage, houseless isle, the
passions of man had sounded, if only for the moment, and all men
trembled at the possibilities of horror.

It was determined to stand watch and watch in case of passing vessels;
and Tommy, on fire with an idea, volunteered to stand the first. The
rest crawled under the tent, and were soon enjoying that comfortable
gift of sleep, which comes everywhere and to all men, quenching
anxieties and speeding time. And no sooner were all settled, no sooner
had the drone of many snorers begun to mingle with and overcome the
surf, than Tommy stole from his post with the case of sherry, and
dropped it in a quiet cove in a fathom of water. But the stormy
inconstancy of Mac's behaviour had no connection with a gill or two of
wine; his passions, angry and otherwise, were on a different sail plan
from his neighbours'; and there were possibilities of good and evil in
that hybrid Celt beyond their prophecy.

About two in the morning, the starry sky--or so it seemed, for the
drowsy watchman had not observed the approach of any cloud--brimmed over
in a deluge; and for three days it rained without remission. The islet
was a sponge, the castaways sops; the view all gone, even the reef
concealed behind the curtain of the falling water. The fire was soon
drowned out; after a couple of boxes of matches had been scratched in
vain, it was decided to wait for better weather; and the party lived in
wretchedness on raw tins and a ration of hard bread.

By the 2nd February, in the dark hours of the morning watch, the clouds
were all blown by; the sun rose glorious; and once more the castaways
sat by a quick fire, and drank hot coffee with the greed of brutes and
sufferers. Thenceforward their affairs moved in a routine. A fire was
constantly maintained; and this occupied one hand continuously, and the
others for an hour or so in the day. Twice a day, all hands bathed in
the lagoon, their chief, almost their only pleasure. Often they fished
in the lagoon with good success. And the rest was passed in lolling,
strolling, yarns, and disputation. The time of the China steamers
was calculated to a nicety; which done, the thought was rejected and
ignored. It was one that would not bear consideration. The boat voyage
having been tacitly set aside, the desperate part chosen to wait there
for the coming of help or of starvation, no man had courage left to look
his bargain in the face, far less to discuss it with his neighbours. But
the unuttered terror haunted them; in every hour of idleness, at every
moment of silence, it returned, and breathed a chill about the circle,
and carried men's eyes to the horizon. Then, in a panic of self-defence,
they would rally to some other subject. And, in that lone spot, what
else was to be found to speak of but the treasure?

That was indeed the chief singularity, the one thing conspicuous in
their island life; the presence of that chest of bills and specie
dominated the mind like a cathedral; and there were besides connected
with it, certain irking problems well fitted to occupy the idle. Two
thousand pounds were due to the Sydney firm: two thousand pounds were
clear profit, and fell to be divided in varying proportions among
six. It had been agreed how the partners were to range; every pound of
capital subscribed, every pound that fell due in wages, was to count for
one "lay." Of these, Tommy could claim five hundred and ten, Carthew one
hundred and seventy, Wicks one hundred and forty, and Hemstead and Amalu
ten apiece: eight hundred and forty "lays" in all. What was the value of
a lay? This was at first debated in the air and chiefly by the strength
of Tommy's lungs. Then followed a series of incorrect calculations; from
which they issued, arithmetically foiled, but agreed from weariness upon
an approximate value of 2 pounds, 7 shillings 7 1/4 pence. The figures
were admittedly incorrect; the sum of the shares came not to 2000
pounds, but to 1996 pounds, 6 shillings: 3 pounds, 14 shillings being
thus left unclaimed. But it was the nearest they had yet found, and the
highest as well, so that the partners were made the less critical by the
contemplation of their splendid dividends. Wicks put in 100 pounds and
stood to draw captain's wages for two months; his taking was 333 pounds
3 shillings 6 1/2 pence. Carthew had put in 150 pounds: he was to take
out 401 pounds, 18 shillings 6 1/2 pence. Tommy's 500 pounds had grown
to be 1213 pounds 12 shillings 9 3/4 pence; and Amalu and Hemstead,
ranking for wages only, had 22 pounds, 16 shillings 1/2 pence, each.

From talking and brooding on these figures, it was but a step to
opening the chest; and once the chest open, the glamour of the cash was
irresistible. Each felt that he must see his treasure separate with the
eye of flesh, handle it in the hard coin, mark it for his own, and
stand forth to himself the approved owner. And here an insurmountable
difficulty barred the way. There were some seventeen shillings in
English silver: the rest was Chile; and the Chile dollar, which had been
taken at the rate of six to the pound sterling, was practically their
smallest coin. It was decided, therefore, to divide the pounds only,
and to throw the shillings, pence, and fractions in a common fund. This,
with the three pound fourteen already in the heel, made a total of seven
pounds one shilling.

"I'll tell you," said Wicks. "Let Carthew and Tommy and me take one
pound apiece, and Hemstead and Amalu split the other four, and toss up
for the odd bob."

"O, rot!" said Carthew. "Tommy and I are bursting already. We can take
half a sov' each, and let the other three have forty shillings."

"I'll tell you now--it's not worth splitting," broke in Mac. "I've cards
in my chest. Why don't you play for the slump sum?"

In that idle place, the proposal was accepted with delight. Mac, as the
owner of the cards, was given a stake; the sum was played for in five
games of cribbage; and when Amalu, the last survivor in the tournament,
was beaten by Mac, it was found the dinner hour was past. After a hasty
meal, they fell again immediately to cards, this time (on Carthew's
proposal) to Van John. It was then probably two P.M. of the 9th
February; and they played with varying chances for twelve hours, slept
heavily, and rose late on the morrow to resume the game. All day of the
10th, with grudging intervals for food, and with one long absence on the
part of Tommy from which he returned dripping with the case of sherry,
they continued to deal and stake. Night fell: they drew the closer to
the fire. It was maybe two in the morning, and Tommy was selling his
deal by auction, as usual with that timid player; when Carthew, who
didn't intend to bid, had a moment of leisure and looked round him. He
beheld the moonlight on the sea, the money piled and scattered in that
incongruous place, the perturbed faces of the players; he felt in his
own breast the familiar tumult; and it seemed as if there rose in his
ears a sound of music, and the moon seemed still to shine upon a sea,
but the sea was changed, and the Casino towered from among lamplit
gardens, and the money clinked on the green board. "Good God!" he
thought, "am I gambling again?" He looked the more curiously about the
sandy table. He and Mac had played and won like gamblers; the mingled
gold and silver lay by their places in the heap. Amalu and Hemstead had
each more than held their own, but Tommy was cruel far to leeward, and
the captain was reduced to perhaps fifty pounds.

"I say, let's knock off," said Carthew.

"Give that man a glass of Buckle," said some one, and a fresh bottle was
opened, and the game went inexorably on.

Carthew was himself too heavy a winner to withdraw or to say more; and
all the rest of the night he must look on at the progress of this folly,
and make gallant attempts to lose with the not uncommon consequence of
winning more. The first dawn of the 11th February found him well-nigh
desperate. It chanced he was then dealer, and still winning. He had just
dealt a round of many tens; every one had staked heavily; the captain
had put up all that remained to him, twelve pounds in gold and a few
dollars; and Carthew, looking privately at his cards before he showed
them, found he held a natural.

"See here, you fellows," he broke out, "this is a sickening business,
and I'm done with it for one." So saying, he showed his cards, tore them
across, and rose from the ground.

The company stared and murmured in mere amazement; but Mac stepped
gallantly to his support.

"We've had enough of it, I do believe," said he. "But of course it was
all fun, and here's my counters back. All counters in, boys!" and he
began to pour his winnings into the chest, which stood fortunately near

Carthew stepped across and wrung him by the hand. "I'll never forget
this," he said.

"And what are ye going to do with the Highway boy and the plumber?"
inquired Mac, in a low tone of voice. "They've both wan, ye see."

"That's true!" said Carthew aloud. "Amalu and Hemstead, count your
winnings; Tommy and I pay that."

It was carried without speech: the pair glad enough to receive their
winnings, it mattered not from whence; and Tommy, who had lost about
five hundred pounds, delighted with the compromise.

"And how about Mac?" asked Hemstead. "Is he to lose all?"

"I beg your pardon, plumber. I'm sure ye mean well," returned the
Irishman, "but you'd better shut your face, for I'm not that kind of a
man. If I t'ought I had wan that money fair, there's never a soul here
could get it from me. But I t'ought it was in fun; that was my mistake,
ye see; and there's no man big enough upon this island to give a present
to my mother's son. So there's my opinion to ye, plumber, and you can
put it in your pockut till required."


"Well, I will say, Mac, you're a gentleman," said Carthew, as he helped
him to shovel back his winnings into the treasure chest.

"Divil a fear of it, sir! a drunken sailor-man," said Mac.

The captain had sat somewhile with his face in his hands: now he rose
mechanically, shaking and stumbling like a drunkard after a debauch. But
as he rose, his face was altered, and his voice rang out over the isle,
"Sail, ho!"

All turned at the cry, and there, in the wild light of the morning,
heading straight for Midway Reef, was the brig Flying Scud of Hull.






The ship which thus appeared before the castaways had long "tramped" the
ocean, wandering from one port to another as freights offered. She was
two years out from London, by the Cape of Good Hope, India, and the
Archipelago; and was now bound for San Francisco in the hope of working
homeward round the Horn. Her captain was one Jacob Trent. He had retired
some five years before to a suburban cottage, a patch of cabbages, a
gig, and the conduct of what he called a Bank. The name appears to have
been misleading. Borrowers were accustomed to choose works of art and
utility in the front shop; loaves of sugar and bolts of broadcloth were
deposited in pledge; and it was a part of the manager's duty to dash in
his gig on Saturday evenings from one small retailer's to another, and
to annex in each the bulk of the week's takings. His was thus an active
life, and to a man of the type of a rat, filled with recondite joys.
An unexpected loss, a law suit, and the unintelligent commentary of the
judge upon the bench, combined to disgust him of the business. I was so
extraordinarily fortunate as to find, in an old newspaper, a report of
the proceedings in Lyall v. The Cardiff Mutual Accommodation Banking Co.
"I confess I fail entirely to understand the nature of the business,"
the judge had remarked, while Trent was being examined in chief; a
little after, on fuller information--"They call it a bank," he had
opined, "but it seems to me to be an unlicensed pawnshop"; and he wound
up with this appalling allocution: "Mr. Trent, I must put you on your
guard; you must be very careful, or we shall see you here again." In the
inside of a week the captain disposed of the bank, the cottage, and the
gig and horse; and to sea again in the Flying Scud, where he did well
and gave high satisfaction to his owners. But the glory clung to him; he
was a plain sailor-man, he said, but he could never long allow you to
forget that he had been a banker.

His mate, Elias Goddedaal, was a huge viking of a man, six feet three
and of proportionate mass, strong, sober, industrious, musical, and
sentimental. He ran continually over into Swedish melodies, chiefly in
the minor. He had paid nine dollars to hear Patti; to hear Nilsson, he
had deserted a ship and two months' wages; and he was ready at any time
to walk ten miles for a good concert, or seven to a reasonable play.
On board he had three treasures: a canary bird, a concertina, and a
blinding copy of the works of Shakespeare. He had a gift, peculiarly
Scandinavian, of making friends at sight: an elemental innocence
commended him; he was without fear, without reproach, and without money
or the hope of making it.

Holdorsen was second mate, and berthed aft, but messed usually with the

Of one more of the crew, some image lives. This was a foremast hand out
of the Clyde, of the name of Brown. A small, dark, thickset creature,
with dog's eyes, of a disposition incomparably mild and harmless, he
knocked about seas and cities, the uncomplaining whiptop of one vice.
"The drink is my trouble, ye see," he said to Carthew shyly; "and it's
the more shame to me because I'm come of very good people at Bowling,
down the wa'er." The letter that so much affected Nares, in case the
reader should remember it, was addressed to this man Brown.

Such was the ship that now carried joy into the bosoms of the castaways.
After the fatigue and the bestial emotions of their night of play, the
approach of salvation shook them from all self-control. Their hands
trembled, their eyes shone, they laughed and shouted like children as
they cleared their camp: and some one beginning to whistle _Marching
Through Georgia,_ the remainder of the packing was conducted, amidst a
thousand interruptions, to these martial strains. But the strong head of
Wicks was only partly turned.


"Boys," he said, "easy all! We're going aboard of a ship of which we
don't know nothing; we've got a chest of specie, and seeing the weight,
we can't turn to and deny it. Now, suppose she was fishy; suppose it was
some kind of a Bully Hayes business! It's my opinion we'd better be on
hand with the pistols."

Every man of the party but Hemstead had some kind of a revolver; these
were accordingly loaded and disposed about the persons of the castaways,
and the packing was resumed and finished in the same rapturous spirit as
it was begun. The sun was not yet ten degrees above the eastern sea, but
the brig was already close in and hove to, before they had launched the
boat and sped, shouting at the oars, towards the passage.

It was blowing fresh outside, with a strong send of sea. The spray flew
in the oarsmen's faces. They saw the Union Jack blow abroad from the
Flying Scud, the men clustered at the rail, the cook in the galley door,
the captain on the quarter-deck with a pith helmet and binoculars. And
the whole familiar business, the comfort, company, and safety of a ship,
heaving nearer at each stroke, maddened them with joy.

Wicks was the first to catch the line, and swarm on board, helping hands
grabbing him as he came and hauling him across the rail.

"Captain, sir, I suppose?" he said, turning to the hard old man in the
pith helmet.

"Captain Trent, sir," returned the old gentleman.

"Well, I'm Captain Kirkup, and this is the crew of the Sydney schooner
Currency Lass, dismasted at sea January 28th."

"Ay, ay," said Trent. "Well, you're all right now. Lucky for you I saw
your signal. I didn't know I was so near this beastly island, there must
be a drift to the south'ard here; and when I came on deck this morning
at eight bells, I thought it was a ship afire."

It had been agreed that, while Wicks was to board the ship and do the
civil, the rest were to remain in the whaleboat and see the treasure
safe. A tackle was passed down to them; to this they made fast the
invaluable chest, and gave the word to heave. But the unexpected weight
brought the hand at the tackle to a stand; two others ran to tail on and
help him, and the thing caught the eye of Trent.

"'Vast heaving!" he cried sharply; and then to Wicks: "What's that? I
don't ever remember to have seen a chest weigh like that."

"It's money," said Wicks.

"It's what?" cried Trent.

"Specie," said Wicks; "saved from the wreck."

Trent looked at him sharply. "Here, let go that chest again, Mr.
Goddedaal," he commanded, "shove the boat off, and stream her with a
line astern."

"Ay, ay, sir!" from Goddedaal.

"What the devil's wrong?" asked Wicks.

"Nothing, I daresay," returned Trent. "But you'll allow it's a queer
thing when a boat turns up in mid-ocean with half a ton of specie,--and
everybody armed," he added, pointing to Wicks's pocket. "Your boat
will lay comfortably astern, while you come below and make yourself

"O, if that's all!" said Wicks. "My log and papers are as right as the
mail; nothing fishy about us." And he hailed his friends in the boat,
bidding them have patience, and turned to follow Captain Trent.

"This way, Captain Kirkup," said the latter. "And don't blame a man for
too much caution; no offence intended; and these China rivers shake a
fellow's nerve. All I want is just to see you're what you say you
are; it's only my duty, sir, and what you would do yourself in the
circumstances. I've not always been a ship-captain: I was a banker once,
and I tell you that's the trade to learn caution in. You have to keep
your weather-eye lifting Saturday nights." And with a dry, business-like
cordiality, he produced a bottle of gin.

The captains pledged each other; the papers were overhauled; the tale of
Topelius and the trade was told in appreciative ears and cemented
their acquaintance. Trent's suspicions, thus finally disposed of, were
succeeded by a fit of profound thought, during which he sat lethargic
and stern, looking at and drumming on the table.

"Anything more?" asked Wicks.

"What sort of a place is it inside?" inquired Trent, sudden as though
Wicks had touched a spring.

"It's a good enough lagoon--a few horses' heads, but nothing to
mention," answered Wicks.

"I've a good mind to go in," said Trent. "I was new rigged in China;
it's given very bad, and I'm getting frightened for my sticks. We could
set it up as good as new in a day. For I daresay your lot would turn to
and give us a hand?"

"You see if we don't!" said Wicks.

"So be it, then," concluded Trent. "A stitch in time saves nine."

They returned on deck; Wicks cried the news to the Currency Lasses; the
foretopsail was filled again, and the brig ran into the lagoon lively,
the whaleboat dancing in her wake, and came to single anchor off Middle
Brooks Island before eight. She was boarded by the castaways, breakfast
was served, the baggage slung on board and piled in the waist, and all
hands turned to upon the rigging. All day the work continued, the two
crews rivalling each other in expense of strength. Dinner was served on
deck, the officers messing aft under the slack of the spanker, the men
fraternising forward. Trent appeared in excellent spirits, served out
grog to all hands, opened a bottle of Cape wine for the after-table,
and obliged his guests with many details of the life of a financier
in Cardiff. He had been forty years at sea, had five times suffered
shipwreck, was once nine months the prisoner of a pepper rajah, and had
seen service under fire in Chinese rivers; but the only thing he cared
to talk of, the only thing of which he was vain, or with which he
thought it possible to interest a stranger, was his career as a
money-lender in the slums of a seaport town.

The afternoon spell told cruelly on the Currency Lasses. Already
exhausted as they were with sleeplessness and excitement, they did the
last hours of this violent employment on bare nerves; and when Trent was
at last satisfied with the condition of his rigging, expected eagerly
the word to put to sea. But the captain seemed in no hurry. He went and
walked by himself softly, like a man in thought. Presently he hailed

"You're a kind of company, ain't you, Captain Kirkup?" he inquired.

"Yes, we're all on board on lays," was the reply.

"Well, then, you won't mind if I ask the lot of you down to tea in the
cabin?" asked Trent.

Wicks was amazed, but he naturally ventured no remark; and a little
after, the six Currency Lasses sat down with Trent and Goddedaal to
a spread of marmalade, butter, toast, sardines, tinned tongue, and
steaming tea. The food was not very good, and I have no doubt Nares
would have reviled it, but it was manna to the castaways. Goddedaal
waited on them with a kindness far before courtesy, a kindness like
that of some old, honest countrywoman in her farm. It was remembered
afterwards that Trent took little share in these attentions, but sat
much absorbed in thought, and seemed to remember and forget the presence
of his guests alternately.

Presently he addressed the Chinaman.

"Clear out!" said he, and watched him till he had disappeared in the
stair. "Now, gentlemen," he went on, "I understand you're a joint-stock
sort of crew, and that's why I've had you all down; for there's a point
I want made clear. You see what sort of a ship this is--a good ship,
though I say it, and you see what the rations are--good enough for

There was a hurried murmur of approval, but curiosity for what was
coming next prevented an articulate reply.

"Well," continued Trent, making bread pills and looking hard at the
middle of the table, "I'm glad of course to be able to give you a
passage to 'Frisco; one sailor-man should help another, that's my motto.
But when you want a thing in this world, you generally always have
to pay for it." He laughed a brief, joyless laugh. "I have no idea of
losing by my kindness."

"We have no idea you should, captain," said Wicks.

"We are ready to pay anything in reason," added Carthew.


At the words, Goddedaal, who sat next to him, touched him with his
elbow, and the two mates exchanged a significant look. The character of
Captain Trent was given and taken in that silent second.

"In reason?" repeated the captain of the brig. "I was waiting for that.
Reason's between two people, and there's only one here. I'm the judge;
I'm reason. If you want an advance you have to pay for it"--he hastily
corrected himself--"If you want a passage in my ship, you have to pay my
price," he substituted. "That's business, I believe. I don't want you;
you want me."

"Well, sir," said Carthew, "and what IS your price?"

The captain made bread pills. "If I were like you," he said, "when you
got hold of that merchant in the Gilberts, I might surprise you. You
had your chance then; seems to me it's mine now. Turn about's fair play.
What kind of mercy did you have on that Gilbert merchant?" he cried,
with a sudden stridency. "Not that I blame you. All's fair in love and
business," and he laughed again, a little frosty giggle.

"Well, sir?" said Carthew, gravely.

"Well, this ship's mine, I think?" he asked sharply.

"Well, I'm of that way of thinking meself," observed Mac.

"I say it's mine, sir!" reiterated Trent, like a man trying to be angry.
"And I tell you all, if I was a driver like what you are, I would take
the lot. But there's two thousand pounds there that don't belong to you,
and I'm an honest man. Give me the two thousand that's yours, and I'll
give you a passage to the coast, and land every man-jack of you in
'Frisco with fifteen pounds in his pocket, and the captain here with

Goddedaal laid down his head on the table like a man ashamed.

"You're joking," said Wicks, purple in the face.

"Am I?" said Trent. "Please yourselves. You're under no compulsion. This
ship's mine, but there's that Brooks Island don't belong to me, and you
can lay there till you die for what I care."


"It's more than your blooming brig's worth!" cried Wicks.

"It's my price anyway," returned Trent.

"And do you mean to say you would land us there to starve?" cried Tommy.

Captain Trent laughed the third time. "Starve? I defy you to," said he.
"I'll sell you all the provisions you want at a fair profit."

"I beg your pardon, sir," said Mac, "but my case is by itself I'm
working me passage; I got no share in that two thousand pounds nor
nothing in my pockut; and I'll be glad to know what you have to say to

"I ain't a hard man," said Trent. "That shall make no difference. I'll
take you with the rest, only of course you get no fifteen pound."

The impudence was so extreme and startling, that all breathed deep, and
Goddedaal raised up his face and looked his superior sternly in the eye.

But Mac was more articulate. "And you're what ye call a British sayman,
I suppose? the sorrow in your guts!" he cried.

"One more such word, and I clap you in irons!" said Trent, rising
gleefully at the face of opposition.

"And where would I be the while you were doin' ut?" asked Mac. "After
you and your rigging, too! Ye ould puggy, ye haven't the civility of a
bug, and I'll learn ye some."

His voice did not even rise as he uttered the threat; no man present,
Trent least of all, expected that which followed. The Irishman's hand
rose suddenly from below the table, an open clasp-knife balanced on the
palm; there was a movement swift as conjuring; Trent started half to
his feet, turning a little as he rose so as to escape the table, and the
movement was his bane. The missile struck him in the jugular; he fell
forward, and his blood flowed among the dishes on the cloth.

The suddenness of the attack and the catastrophe, the instant change
from peace to war and from life to death, held all men spellbound. Yet a
moment they sat about the table staring open-mouthed upon the prostrate
captain and the flowing blood. The next, Goddedaal had leaped to his
feet, caught up the stool on which he had been sitting, and swung it
high in air, a man transfigured, roaring (as he stood) so that men's
ears were stunned with it. There was no thought of battle in the
Currency Lasses; none drew his weapon; all huddled helplessly from
before the face of the baresark Scandinavian. His first blow sent Mac to
ground with a broken arm. His second bashed out the brains of Hemstead.
He turned from one to another, menacing and trumpeting like a wounded
elephant, exulting in his rage. But there was no counsel, no light of
reason, in that ecstasy of battle; and he shied from the pursuit of
victory to hail fresh blows upon the supine Hemstead, so that the stool
was shattered and the cabin rang with their violence. The sight of that
post-mortem cruelty recalled Carthew to the life of instinct, and his
revolver was in hand and he had aimed and fired before he knew. The
ear-bursting sound of the report was accompanied by a yell of pain; the
colossus paused, swayed, tottered, and fell headlong on the body of his

In the instant silence that succeeded, the sound of feet pounding on the
deck and in the companion leaped into hearing; and a face, that of the
sailor Holdorsen, appeared below the bulkheads in the cabin doorway.
Carthew shattered it with a second shot, for he was a marksman.

"Pistols!" he cried, and charged at the companion, Wicks at his heels,
Tommy and Amalu following. They trod the body of Holdorsen underfoot,
and flew up-stairs and forth into the dusky blaze of a sunset red as
blood. The numbers were still equal, but the Flying Scuds dreamed not of
defence, and fled with one accord for the forecastle scuttle. Brown was
first in flight; he disappeared below unscathed; the Chinaman followed
head-foremost with a ball in his side; and the others shinned into the

A fierce composure settled upon Wicks and Carthew, their fighting second
wind. They posted Tommy at the fore and Amalu at the main to guard the
masts and shrouds, and going themselves into the waist, poured out a
box of cartridges on deck and filled the chambers. The poor devils aloft
bleated aloud for mercy. But the hour of any mercy was gone by; the cup
was brewed and must be drunken to the dregs; since so many had fallen
all must fall. The light was bad, the cheap revolvers fouled and carried
wild, the screaming wretches were swift to flatten themselves against
the masts and yards or find a momentary refuge in the hanging sails. The
fell business took long, but it was done at last. Hardy the Londoner was
shot on the foreroyal yard, and hung horribly suspended in the brails.
Wallen, the other, had his jaw broken on the maintop-gallant crosstrees,
and exposed himself, shrieking, till a second shot dropped him on the

This had been bad enough, but worse remained behind. There was still
Brown in the forepeak. Tommy, with a sudden clamour of weeping, begged
for his life. "One man can't hurt us," he sobbed. "We can't go on with
this. I spoke to him at dinner. He's an awful decent little cad. It
can't be done. Nobody can go into that place and murder him. It's too
damned wicked."

The sound of his supplications was perhaps audible to the unfortunate

"One left, and we all hang," said Wicks. "Brown must go the same road."
The big man was deadly white and trembled like an aspen; and he had no
sooner finished speaking, than he went to the ship's side and vomited.

"We can never do it if we wait," said Carthew. "Now or never," and he
marched towards the scuttle.

"No, no, no!" wailed Tommy, clutching at his jacket.

But Carthew flung him off, and stepped down the ladder, his heart rising
with disgust and shame. The Chinaman lay on the floor, still groaning;
the place was pitch dark.

"Brown!" cried Carthew, "Brown, where are you?"

His heart smote him for the treacherous apostrophe, but no answer came.

He groped in the bunks: they were all empty. Then he moved towards the
forepeak, which was hampered with coils of rope and spare chandlery in

"Brown!" he said again.

"Here, sir," answered a shaking voice; and the poor invisible caitiff
called on him by name, and poured forth out of the darkness an endless,
garrulous appeal for mercy. A sense of danger, of daring, had alone
nerved Carthew to enter the forecastle; and here was the enemy crying
and pleading like a frightened child. His obsequious "Here, sir," his
horrid fluency of obtestation, made the murder tenfold more revolting.
Twice Carthew raised the pistol, once he pressed the trigger (or thought
he did) with all his might, but no explosion followed; and with that the
lees of his courage ran quite out, and he turned and fled from before
his victim.

Wicks sat on the fore hatch, raised the face of a man of seventy, and
looked a wordless question. Carthew shook his head. With such composure
as a man displays marching towards the gallows, Wicks arose, walked to
the scuttle, and went down. Brown thought it was Carthew returning,
and discovered himself, half crawling from his shelter, with another
incoherent burst of pleading. Wicks emptied his revolver at the voice,
which broke into mouse-like whimperings and groans. Silence succeeded,
and the murderer ran on deck like one possessed.

The other three were now all gathered on the fore hatch, and Wicks
took his place beside them without question asked or answered. They
sat close, like children in the dark, and shook each other with their
shaking. The dusk continued to fall; and there was no sound but the
beating of the surf and the occasional hiccup of a sob from Tommy

"God, if there was another ship!" cried Carthew of a sudden.

Wicks started and looked aloft with the trick of all seamen, and
shuddered as he saw the hanging figure on the royal yard.

"If I went aloft, I'd fall," he said simply. "I'm done up."

It was Amalu who volunteered, climbed to the very truck, swept the
fading horizon, and announced nothing within sight.

"No odds," said Wicks. "We can't sleep ..."

"Sleep!" echoed Carthew; and it seemed as if the whole of Shakespeare's
_Macbeth_ thundered at the gallop through his mind.

"Well, then, we can't sit and chitter here," said Wicks, "till we've
cleaned ship; and I can't turn to till I've had gin, and the gin's in
the cabin, and who's to fetch it?"


"I will," said Carthew, "if any one has matches."

Amalu passed him a box, and he went aft and down the companion and into
the cabin, stumbling upon bodies. Then he struck a match, and his looks
fell upon two living eyes.

"Well?" asked Mac, for it was he who still survived in that shambles of
a cabin.

"It's done; they're all dead," answered Carthew.

"Christ!" said the Irishman, and fainted.

The gin was found in the dead captain's cabin; it was brought on deck,
and all hands had a dram, and attacked their farther task. The night
was come, the moon would not be up for hours; a lamp was set on the main
hatch to light Amalu as he washed down decks; and the galley lantern
was taken to guide the others in their graveyard business. Holdorsen,
Hemstead, Trent, and Goddedaal were first disposed of, the last still
breathing as he went over the side; Wallen followed; and then Wicks,
steadied by the gin, went aloft with a boathook and succeeded in
dislodging Hardy. The Chinaman was their last task; he seemed to be
light-headed, talked aloud in his unknown language as they brought
him up, and it was only with the splash of his sinking body that the
gibberish ceased. Brown, by common consent, was left alone. Flesh and
blood could go no further.

All this time they had been drinking undiluted gin like water; three
bottles stood broached in different quarters; and none passed without
a gulp. Tommy collapsed against the mainmast; Wicks fell on his face
on the poop ladder and moved no more; Amalu had vanished unobserved.
Carthew was the last afoot: he stood swaying at the break of the poop,
and the lantern, which he still carried, swung with his movement. His
head hummed; it swarmed with broken thoughts; memory of that day's
abominations flared up and died down within him like the light of a lamp
in a strong draught. And then he had a drunkard's inspiration.

"There must be no more of this," he thought, and stumbled once more

The absence of Holdorsen's body brought him to a stand. He stood and
stared at the empty floor, and then remembered and smiled. From the
captain's room he took the open case with one dozen and three bottles of
gin, put the lantern inside, and walked precariously forth. Mac was once
more conscious, his eyes haggard, his face drawn with pain and flushed
with fever; and Carthew remembered he had never been seen to, had lain
there helpless, and was so to lie all night, injured, perhaps dying.
But it was now too late; reason had now fled from that silent ship. If
Carthew could get on deck again, it was as much as he could hope;
and casting on the unfortunate a glance of pity, the tragic drunkard
shouldered his way up the companion, dropped the case overboard, and
fell in the scuppers helpless.






With the first colour in the east, Carthew awoke and sat up. A while he
gazed at the scroll of the morning bank and the spars and hanging canvas
of the brig, like a man who wakes in a strange bed, with a child's
simplicity of wonder. He wondered above all what ailed him, what he had
lost, what disfavour had been done him, which he knew he should resent,
yet had forgotten. And then, like a river bursting through a dam, the
truth rolled on him its instantaneous volume: his memory teemed with
speech and pictures that he should never again forget; and he sprang to
his feet, stood a moment hand to brow, and began to walk violently
to and fro by the companion. As he walked, he wrung his hands.
"God--God--God," he kept saying, with no thought of prayer, uttering a
mere voice of agony.

The time may have been long or short, it was perhaps minutes, perhaps
only seconds, ere he awoke to find himself observed, and saw the captain
sitting up and watching him over the break of the poop, a strange
blindness as of fever in his eyes, a haggard knot of corrugations on his
brow. Cain saw himself in a mirror. For a flash they looked upon each
other, and then glanced guiltily aside; and Carthew fled from the eye of
his accomplice, and stood leaning on the taffrail.

An hour went by, while the day came brighter, and the sun rose and drank
up the clouds: an hour of silence in the ship, an hour of agony beyond
narration for the sufferers. Brown's gabbling prayers, the cries of the
sailors in the rigging, strains of the dead Hemstead's minstrelsy,
ran together in Carthew's mind, with sickening iteration. He neither
acquitted nor condemned himself: he did not think, he suffered. In
the bright water into which he stared, the pictures changed and were
repeated: the baresark rage of Goddedaal; the blood-red light of the
sunset into which they had run forth; the face of the babbling Chinaman
as they cast him over; the face of the captain, seen a moment since,
as he awoke from drunkenness into remorse. And time passed, and the sun
swam higher, and his torment was not abated.

Then were fulfilled many sayings, and the weakest of these condemned
brought relief and healing to the others. Amalu the drudge awoke (like
the rest) to sickness of body and distress of mind; but the habit of
obedience ruled in that simple spirit, and appalled to be so late,
he went direct into the galley, kindled the fire, and began to get
breakfast. At the rattle of dishes, the snapping of the fire, and the
thin smoke that went up straight into the air, the spell was lifted.
The condemned felt once more the good dry land of habit under foot; they
touched again the familiar guide-ropes of sanity; they were restored to
a sense of the blessed revolution and return of all things earthly. The
captain drew a bucket of water and began to bathe. Tommy sat up, watched
him awhile, and slowly followed his example; and Carthew, remembering
his last thoughts of the night before, hastened to the cabin.

Mac was awake; perhaps had not slept. Over his head Goddedaal's canary
twittered shrilly from its cage.

"How are you?" asked Carthew.

"Me arrum's broke," returned Mac; "but I can stand that. It's this place
I can't abide. I was coming on deck anyway."

"Stay where you are, though," said Carthew. "It's deadly hot above, and
there's no wind. I'll wash out this----" and he paused, seeking a word
and not finding one for the grisly foulness of the cabin.

"Faith, I'll be obliged to ye, then," replied the Irishman. He spoke
mild and meek, like a sick child with its mother. There was now no
violence in the violent man; and as Carthew fetched a bucket and swab
and the steward's sponge, and began to cleanse the field of battle,
he alternately watched him or shut his eyes and sighed like a man near
fainting. "I have to ask all your pardons," he began again presently,
"and the more shame to me as I got ye into trouble and couldn't do
nothing when it came. Ye saved me life, sir; ye're a clane shot."

"For God's sake, don't talk of it!" cried Carthew. "It can't be talked
of; you don't know what it was. It was nothing down here; they fought.
On deck--O, my God!" And Carthew, with the bloody sponge pressed to his
face, struggled a moment with hysteria.

"Kape cool, Mr. Cart'ew. It's done now," said Mac; "and ye may bless God
ye're not in pain and helpless in the bargain."

There was no more said by one or other, and the cabin was pretty well
cleansed when a stroke on the ship's bell summoned Carthew to breakfast.
Tommy had been busy in the meanwhile; he had hauled the whaleboat close
aboard, and already lowered into it a small keg of beef that he found
ready broached beside the galley door; it was plain he had but the one
idea--to escape.

"We have a shipful of stores to draw upon," he said. "Well, what are
we staying for? Let's get off at once for Hawaii. I've begun preparing

"Mac has his arm broken," observed Carthew; "how would he stand the

"A broken arm?" repeated the captain. "That all? I'll set it after
breakfast. I thought he was dead like the rest. That madman hit out
like----" and there, at the evocation of the battle, his voice ceased
and the talk died with it.

After breakfast, the three white men went down into the cabin.

"I've come to set your arm," said the captain.

"I beg your pardon, captain," replied Mac; "but the firrst thing ye got
to do is to get this ship to sea. We'll talk of me arrum after that."

"O, there's no such blooming hurry," returned Wicks.

"When the next ship sails in, ye'll tell me stories!" retorted Mac.

"But there's nothing so unlikely in the world," objected Carthew.

"Don't be deceivin' yourself," said Mac. "If ye want a ship, divil a
one'll look near ye in six year; but if ye don't, ye may take my word
for ut, we'll have a squadron layin' here."

"That's what I say," cried Tommy; "that's what I call sense! Let's stock
that whaleboat and be off."

"And what will Captain Wicks be thinking of the whaleboat?" asked the

"I don't think of it at all," said Wicks. "We've a smart-looking brig
under foot; that's all the whaleboat I want."

"Excuse me!" cried Tommy. "That's childish talk. You've got a brig, to
be sure, and what use is she? You daren't go anywhere in her. What port
are you to sail for?"

"For the port of Davy Jones's Locker, my son," replied the captain.
"This brig's going to be lost at sea. I'll tell you where, too, and
that's about forty miles to windward of Kauai. We're going to stay by
her till she's down; and once the masts are under, she's the Flying Scud
no more, and we never heard of such a brig; and it's the crew of the
schooner Currency Lass that comes ashore in the boat, and takes the
first chance to Sydney."

"Captain dear, that's the first Christian word I've heard of ut!" cried
Mac. "And now, just let me arrum be, jewel, and get the brig outside."

"I'm as anxious as yourself, Mac," returned Wicks; "but there's not wind
enough to swear by. So let's see your arm, and no more talk."

The arm was set and splinted; the body of Brown fetched from the
forepeak, where it lay still and cold, and committed to the waters of
the lagoon; and the washing of the cabin rudely finished. All these were
done ere midday; and it was past three when the first cat's-paw ruffled
the lagoon, and the wind came in a dry squall, which presently sobered
to a steady breeze.

The interval was passed by all in feverish impatience, and by one of
the party in secret and extreme concern of mind. Captain Wicks was a
fore-and-aft sailor; he could take a schooner through a Scotch reel,
felt her mouth and divined her temper like a rider with a horse; she,
on her side, recognising her master and following his wishes like a dog.
But by a not very unusual train of circumstance, the man's dexterity was
partial and circumscribed. On a schooner's deck he was Rembrandt or (at
the least) Mr. Whistler; on board a brig he was Pierre Grassou. Again
and again in the course of the morning, he had reasoned out his
policy and rehearsed his orders; and ever with the same depression and
weariness. It was guess-work; it was chance; the ship might behave as
he expected, and might not; suppose she failed him, he stood there
helpless, beggared of all the proved resources of experience. Had
not all hands been so weary, had he not feared to communicate his own
misgivings, he could have towed her out. But these reasons sufficed, and
the most he could do was to take all possible precautions. Accordingly
he had Carthew aft, explained what was to be done with anxious patience,
and visited along with him the various sheets and braces.

"I hope I'll remember," said Carthew. "It seems awfully muddled."

"It's the rottenest kind of rig," the captain admitted: "all blooming
pocket handkerchiefs! And not one sailor-man on deck! Ah, if she'd only
been a brigantine, now! But it's lucky the passage is so plain; there's
no manoeuvring to mention. We get under way before the wind, and run
right so till we begin to get foul of the island; then we haul our wind
and lie as near south-east as may be till we're on that line; 'bout ship
there and stand straight out on the port tack. Catch the idea?"

"Yes, I see the idea," replied Carthew, rather dismally, and the two
incompetents studied for a long time in silence the complicated gear
above their heads.

But the time came when these rehearsals must be put in practice. The
sails were lowered, and all hands heaved the anchor short. The whaleboat
was then cut adrift, the upper topsails and the spanker set, the yards
braced up, and the spanker sheet hauled out to starboard.

"Heave away on your anchor, Mr. Carthew."

"Anchor's gone, sir."

"Set jibs."

It was done, and the brig still hung enchanted. Wicks, his head full of
a schooner's mainsail, turned his mind to the spanker. First he hauled
in the sheet, and then he hauled it out, with no result.

"Brail the damned thing up!" he bawled at last, with a red face. "There
ain't no sense in it."

It was the last stroke of bewilderment for the poor captain, that he had
no sooner brailed up the spanker than the vessel came before the wind.
The laws of nature seemed to him to be suspended; he was like a man in
a world of pantomime tricks; the cause of any result, and the probable
result of any action, equally concealed from him. He was the more
careful not to shake the nerve of his amateur assistants. He stood
there with a face like a torch; but he gave his orders with aplomb; and
indeed, now the ship was under weigh, supposed his difficulties over.

The lower topsails and courses were then set, and the brig began to
walk the water like a thing of life, her forefoot discoursing music, the
birds flying and crying over her spars. Bit by bit the passage began to
open and the blue sea to show between the flanking breakers on the reef;
bit by bit, on the starboard bow, the low land of the islet began to
heave closer aboard. The yards were braced up, the spanker sheet hauled
aft again; the brig was close hauled, lay down to her work like a thing
in earnest, and had soon drawn near to the point of advantage, where she
might stay and lie out of the lagoon in a single tack.

Wicks took the wheel himself, swelling with success. He kept the brig
full to give her heels, and began to bark his orders: "Ready about.
Helm's a-lee. Tacks and sheets. Mainsail haul." And then the fatal
words: "That'll do your mainsail; jump forrard and haul round your

To stay a square-rigged ship is an affair of knowledge and swift sight;
and a man used to the succinct evolutions of a schooner will always tend
to be too hasty with a brig. It was so now. The order came too soon; the
topsails set flat aback; the ship was in irons. Even yet, had the helm
been reversed, they might have saved her. But to think of a stern-board
at all, far more to think of profiting by one, were foreign to the
schooner-sailor's mind. Wicks made haste instead to wear ship, a
manoeuvre for which room was wanting, and the Flying Scud took ground on
a bank of sand and coral about twenty minutes before five.

Wicks was no hand with a square-rigger, and he had shown it. But he
was a sailor and a born captain of men for all homely purposes, where
intellect is not required and an eye in a man's head and a heart under
his jacket will suffice. Before the others had time to understand the
misfortune, he was bawling fresh orders, and had the sails clewed up,
and took soundings round the ship.

"She lies lovely," he remarked, and ordered out a boat with the
starboard anchor.

"Here! steady!" cried Tommy. "You ain't going to turn us to, to warp her

"I am though," replied Wicks.

"I won't set a hand to such tomfoolery for one," replied Tommy. "I'm
dead beat." He went and sat down doggedly on the main hatch. "You got us
on; get us off again," he added.

Carthew and Wicks turned to each other.

"Perhaps you don't know how tired we are," said Carthew.

"The tide's flowing!" cried the captain. "You wouldn't have me miss a
rising tide?"

"O, gammon! there's tides to-morrow!" retorted Tommy.

"And I'll tell you what," added Carthew, "the breeze is failing fast,
and the sun will soon be down. We may get into all kinds of fresh mess
in the dark and with nothing but light airs."

"I don't deny it," answered Wicks, and stood awhile as if in thought.
"But what I can't make out," he began again, with agitation, "what I
can't make out is what you're made of! To stay in this place is beyond
me. There's the bloody sun going down--and to stay here is beyond me!"

The others looked upon him with horrified surprise. This fall of their
chief pillar--this irrational passion in the practical man, suddenly
barred out of his true sphere, the sphere of action--shocked and daunted
them. But it gave to another and unseen hearer the chance for which he
had been waiting. Mac, on the striking of the brig, had crawled up the
companion, and he now showed himself and spoke up.

"Captain Wicks," said he, "it's me that brought this trouble on the lot
of ye. I'm sorry for ut, I ask all your pardons, and if there's any one
can say 'I forgive ye,' it'll make my soul the lighter."

Wicks stared upon the man in amaze; then his self-control returned to
him. "We're all in glass houses here," he said; "we ain't going to turn
to and throw stones. I forgive you, sure enough; and much good may it do

The others spoke to the same purpose.

"I thank ye for ut, and 'tis done like gentlemen," said Mac. "But
there's another thing I have upon my mind. I hope we're all Prodestan's

It appeared they were; it seemed a small thing for the Protestant
religion to rejoice in!

"Well, that's as it should be," continued Mac. "And why shouldn't we say
the Lord's Prayer? There can't be no hurt in ut."

He had the same quiet, pleading, childlike way with him as in the
morning; and the others accepted his proposal, and knelt down without a

"Knale if ye like!" said he. "I'll stand." And he covered his eyes.

So the prayer was said to the accompaniment of the surf and seabirds,
and all rose refreshed and felt lightened of a load. Up to then, they
had cherished their guilty memories in private, or only referred to
them in the heat of a moment and fallen immediately silent. Now they had
faced their remorse in company, and the worst seemed over. Nor was it
only that. But the petition "Forgive us our trespasses," falling in
so apposite after they had themselves forgiven the immediate author of
their miseries, sounded like an absolution.

Tea was taken on deck in the time of the sunset, and not long after the
five castaways--castaways once more--lay down to sleep.

Day dawned windless and hot. Their slumbers had been too profound to be
refreshing, and they woke listless, and sat up, and stared about them
with dull eyes. Only Wicks, smelling a hard day's work ahead, was more
alert. He went first to the well, sounded it once and then a second
time, and stood awhile with a grim look, so that all could see he was
dissatisfied. Then he shook himself, stripped to the buff, clambered on
the rail, drew himself up and raised his arms to plunge. The dive was
never taken. He stood instead transfixed, his eyes on the horizon.

"Hand up that glass," he said.

In a trice they were all swarming aloft, the nude captain leading with
the glass.

On the northern horizon was a finger of grey smoke, straight in the
windless air like a point of admiration.

"What do you make it?" they asked of Wicks.

"She's truck down," he replied; "no telling yet. By the way the smoke
builds, she must be heading right here."

"What can she be?"

"She might be a China mail," returned Wicks, "and she might be a
blooming man-of-war, come to look for castaways. Here! This ain't the
time to stand staring. On deck, boys!"

He was the first on deck, as he had been the first aloft, handed down
the ensign, bent it again to the signal halliards, and ran it up union

"Now hear me," he said, jumping into his trousers, "and everything I say
you grip on to. If that's a man-of-war, she'll be in a tearing hurry;
all these ships are what don't do nothing and have their expenses paid.
That's our chance; for we'll go with them, and they won't take the time
to look twice or to ask a question. I'm Captain Trent; Carthew, you're
Goddedaal; Tommy, you're Hardy; Mac's Brown; Amalu--Hold hard! we can't
make a Chinaman of him! Ah Wing must have deserted; Amalu stowed away;
and I turned him to as cook, and was never at the bother to sign him.
Catch the idea? Say your names."

And that pale company recited their lesson earnestly.

"What were the names of the other two?" he asked. "Him Carthew shot in
the companion, and the one I caught in the jaw on the main top-gallant?"

"Holdorsen and Wallen," said some one.

"Well, they're drowned," continued Wicks; "drowned alongside trying to
lower a boat. We had a bit of a squall last night: that's how we
got ashore." He ran and squinted at the compass. "Squall out of
nor'-nor'-west-half-west; blew hard; every one in a mess, falls jammed,
and Holdorsen and Wallen spilt overboard. See? Clear your blooming
heads!" He was in his jacket now, and spoke with a feverish impatience
and contention that rang like anger.

"But is it safe?" asked Tommy.

"Safe?" bellowed the captain. "We're standing on the drop, you
moon-calf! If that ship's bound for China (which she don't look to be),
we're lost as soon as we arrive; if she's bound the other way, she comes
from China, don't she? Well, if there's a man on board of her that ever
clapped eyes on Trent or any blooming hand out of this brig, we'll all
be in irons in two hours. Safe! no, it ain't safe; it's a beggarly last
chance to shave the gallows, and that's what it is."

At this convincing picture, fear took hold on all.

"Hadn't we a hundred times better stay by the brig?" cried Carthew.
"They would give us a hand to float her off."

"You'll make me waste this holy day in chattering!" cried Wicks. "Look
here, when I sounded the well this morning, there was two foot of water
there against eight inches last night. What's wrong? I don't know; might
be nothing; might be the worst kind of smash. And then, there we are in
for a thousand miles in an open boat, if that's your taste!"

"But it may be nothing, and anyway their carpenters are bound to help us
repair her," argued Carthew.

"Moses Murphy!" cried the captain. "How did she strike? Bows on,
I believe. And she's down by the head now. If any carpenter comes
tinkering here, where'll he go first? Down in the forepeak, I suppose!
And then, how about all that blood among the chandlery? You would think
you were a lot of members of Parliament discussing Plimsoll; and you're
just a pack of murderers with the halter round your neck. Any other ass
got any time to waste? No? Thank God for that! Now, all hands! I'm going
below, and I leave you here on deck. You get the boat cover off that
boat; then you turn to and open the specie chest. There are five of us;
get five chests, and divide the specie equal among the five--put it
at the bottom--and go at it like tigers. Get blankets, or canvas, or
clothes, so it won't rattle. It'll make five pretty heavy chests, but we
can't help that. You, Carthew--dash me!--You, Mr. Goddedaal, come below.
We've our share before us."

And he cast another glance at the smoke, and hurried below with Carthew
at his heels.

The logs were found in the main cabin behind the canary's cage; two of
them, one kept by Trent, one by Goddedaal. Wicks looked first at one,
then at the other, and his lip stuck out.

"Can you forge hand of write?" he asked.

"No," said Carthew.

"There's luck for you--no more can I!" cried the captain. "Hullo! here's
worse yet, here's this Goddedaal up to date; he must have filled it in
before supper. See for yourself: 'Smoke observed.--Captain Kirkup and
five hands of the schooner Currency Lass.' Ah! this is better," he
added, turning to the other log. "The old man ain't written anything for
a clear fortnight. We'll dispose of your log altogether, Mr. Goddedaal,
and stick to the old man's--to mine, I mean; only I ain't going to write
it up, for reasons of my own. You are. You're going to sit down right
here and fill it in the way I tell you."

"How to explain the loss of mine?" asked Carthew.

"You never kept one," replied the captain. "Gross neglect of duty.
You'll catch it."

"And the change of writing?" resumed Carthew. "You began; why do you
stop and why do I come in? And you'll have to sign anyway."

"O! I've met with an accident and can't write," replied Wicks.

"An accident?" repeated Carthew. "It don't sound natural. What kind of
an accident?"

Wicks spread his hand face-up on the table, and drove a knife through
his palm.

"That kind of an accident," said he. "There's a way to draw to windward
of most difficulties, if you've a head on your shoulders." He began
to bind up his hand with a handkerchief, glancing the while over
Goddedaal's log. "Hullo!" he said, "this'll never do for us--this is an
impossible kind of a yarn. Here, to begin with, is this Captain Trent
trying some fancy course, leastways he's a thousand miles to south'ard
of the great circle. And here, it seems, he was close up with this
island on the sixth, sails all these days, and is close up with it again
by daylight on the eleventh."

"Goddedaal said they had the deuce's luck," said Carthew.

"Well, it don't look like real life--that's all I can say," returned

"It's the way it was, though," argued Carthew.

"So it is; and what the better are we for that, if it don't look so?"
cried the captain, sounding unwonted depths of art criticism. "Here! try
and see if you can't tie this bandage; I'm bleeding like a pig."

As Carthew sought to adjust the handkerchief, his patient seemed sunk
in a deep muse, his eye veiled, his mouth partly open. The job was yet
scarce done, when he sprang to his feet.

"I have it," he broke out, and ran on deck. "Here, boys!" he cried, "we
didn't come here on the eleventh; we came in here on the evening of the
sixth, and lay here ever since becalmed. As soon as you've done with
these chests," he added, "you can turn to and roll out beef and water
breakers; it'll look more shipshape--like as if we were getting ready
for the boat voyage."

And he was back again in a moment, cooking the new log. Goddedaal's was
then carefully destroyed, and a hunt began for the ship's papers. Of
all the agonies of that breathless morning, this was perhaps the most
poignant. Here and there the two men searched, cursing, cannoning
together, streaming with heat, freezing with terror. News was bawled
down to them that the ship was indeed a man-of-war, that she was close
up, that she was lowering a boat; and still they sought in vain. By what
accident they missed the iron box with the money and accounts, is hard
to fancy; but they did. And the vital documents were found at last in
the pocket of Trent's shore-going coat, where he had left them when last
he came on board.

Wicks smiled for the first time that morning. "None too soon," said
he. "And now for it! Take these others for me; I'm afraid I'll get them
mixed if I keep both."

"What are they?" Carthew asked.

"They're the Kirkup and Currency Lass papers," he replied. "Pray God we
need 'em again!"


"Boat's inside the lagoon, sir," hailed down Mac, who sat by the
skylight doing sentry while the others worked.

"Time we were on deck, then, Mr. Goddedaal," said Wicks.

As they turned to leave the cabin, the canary burst into piercing song.

"My God!" cried Carthew, with a gulp, "we can't leave that wretched bird
to starve. It was poor Goddedaal's."

"Bring the bally thing along!" cried the captain.

And they went on deck.

An ugly brute of a modern man-of-war lay just without the reef, now
quite inert, now giving a flap or two with her propeller. Nearer hand,
and just within, a big white boat came skimming to the stroke of many
oars, her ensign blowing at the stern.

"One word more," said Wicks, after he had taken in the scene. "Mac,
you've been in China ports? All right; then you can speak for yourself.
The rest of you I kept on board all the time we were in Hongkong, hoping
you would desert; but you fooled me and stuck to the brig. That'll make
your lying come easier."

The boat was now close at hand; a boy in the stern sheets was the
only officer, and a poor one plainly, for the men were talking as they

"Thank God, they've only sent a kind of a middy!" ejaculated Wicks.
"Here you, Hardy, stand for'ard! I'll have no deck hands on my
quarter-deck," he cried, and the reproof braced the whole crew like a
cold douche.

The boat came alongside with perfect neatness, and the boy officer
stepped on board, where he was respectfully greeted by Wicks.

"You the master of this ship?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," said Wicks. "Trent is my name, and this is the Flying Scud
of Hull."

"You seem to have got into a mess," said the officer.

"If you'll step aft with me here, I'll tell you all there is of it,"
said Wicks.

"Why, man, you're shaking!" cried the officer.

"So would you, perhaps, if you had been in the same berth," returned
Wicks; and he told the whole story of the rotten water, the long calm,
the squall, the seamen drowned; glibly and hotly; talking, with his head
in the lion's mouth, like one pleading in the dock. I heard the same
tale from the same narrator in the saloon in San Francisco; and even
then his bearing filled me with suspicion. But the officer was no

"Well, the captain is in no end of a hurry," said he; "but I was
instructed to give you all the assistance in my power, and signal back
for another boat if more hands were necessary. What can I do for you?"

"O, we won't keep you no time," replied Wicks cheerily. "We're all
ready, bless you--men's chests, chronometer, papers and all."

"Do you mean to leave her?" cried the officer. "She seems to me to lie
nicely; can't we get your ship off?"

"So we could, and no mistake; but how we're to keep her afloat's another
question. Her bows is stove in," replied Wicks.

The officer coloured to the eyes. He was incompetent and knew he was;
thought he was already detected, and feared to expose himself again.
There was nothing further from his mind than that the captain should
deceive him; if the captain was pleased, why, so was he. "All right," he
said. "Tell your men to get their chests aboard."

"Mr. Goddedaal, turn the hands to to get the chests aboard," said Wicks.

The four Currency Lasses had waited the while on tenter-hooks. This
welcome news broke upon them like the sun at midnight; and Hadden burst
into a storm of tears, sobbing aloud as he heaved upon the tackle. But
the work went none the less briskly forward; chests, men, and bundles
were got over the side with alacrity; the boat was shoved off; it moved
out of the long shadow of the Flying Scud, and its bows were pointed at
the passage.

So much, then, was accomplished. The sham wreck had passed muster; they
were clear of her, they were safe away; and the water widened between
them and her damning evidences. On the other hand, they were drawing
nearer to the ship of war, which might very well prove to be their
prison and a hangman's cart to bear them to the gallows--of which they
had not yet learned either whence she came or whither she was bound; and
the doubt weighed upon their heart like mountains.

It was Wicks who did the talking. The sound was small in Carthew's ears,
like the voices of men miles away, but the meaning of each word struck
home to him like a bullet. "What did you say your ship was?" inquired

"Tempest, don't you know?" returned the officer.

Don't you know? What could that mean? Perhaps nothing: perhaps that the
ships had met already. Wicks took his courage in both hands. "Where is
she bound?" he asked.

"O, we're just looking in at all these miserable islands here," said the
officer. "Then we bear up for San Francisco."

"O, yes, you're from China ways, like us?" pursued Wicks.

"Hong Kong," said the officer, and spat over the side.

Hong Kong. Then the game was up; as soon as they set foot on board,
they would be seized; the wreck would be examined, the blood found, the
lagoon perhaps dredged, and the bodies of the dead would reappear to
testify. An impulse almost incontrollable bade Carthew rise from the
thwart, shriek out aloud, and leap overboard; it seemed so vain a thing
to dissemble longer, to dally with the inevitable, to spin out some
hundred seconds more of agonised suspense, with shame and death thus
visibly approaching. But the indomitable Wicks persevered. His face
was like a skull, his voice scarce recognisable; the dullest of men and
officers (it seemed) must have remarked that telltale countenance and
broken utterance. And still he persevered, bent upon certitude.

"Nice place, Hong Kong?" he said.

"I'm sure I don't know," said the officer. "Only a day and a half there;
called for orders and came straight on here. Never heard of such a
beastly cruise." And he went on describing and lamenting the untoward
fortunes of the Tempest.

But Wicks and Carthew heeded him no longer. They lay back on the gunnel,
breathing deep, sunk in a stupor of the body: the mind within still
nimbly and agreeably at work, measuring the past danger, exulting in the
present relief, numbering with ecstasy their ultimate chances of escape.
For the voyage in the man-of-war they were now safe; yet a few more days
of peril, activity, and presence of mind in San Francisco, and the
whole horrid tale was blotted out; and Wicks again became Kirkup, and
Goddedaal became Carthew--men beyond all shot of possible suspicion, men
who had never heard of the Flying Scud, who had never been in sight of
Midway Reef.

So they came alongside, under many craning heads of seamen and
projecting mouths of guns; so they climbed on board somnambulous, and
looked blindly about them at the tall spars, the white decks, and the
crowding ship's company, and heard men as from far away, and answered
them at random.

And then a hand fell softly on Carthew's shoulder.


"Why, Norrie, old chappie, where have you dropped from? All the world's
been looking for you. Don't you know you've come into your kingdom?"

He turned, beheld the face of his old schoolmate Sebright, and fell
unconscious at his feet.

The doctor was attending him, a while later, in Lieutenant Sebright's
cabin, when he came to himself. He opened his eyes, looked hard in the
strange face, and spoke with a kind of solemn vigour.

"Brown must go the same road," he said; "now or never." And then paused,
and his reason coming to him with more clearness, spoke again: "What was
I saying? Where am I? Who are you?"

"I am the doctor of the Tempest," was the reply. "You are in Lieutenant
Sebright's berth, and you may dismiss all concern from your mind. Your
troubles are over, Mr. Carthew."

"Why do you call me that?" he asked. "Ah, I remember--Sebright knew me!
O!" and he groaned and shook. "Send down Wicks to me; I must see Wicks
at once!" he cried, and seized the doctor's wrist with unconscious

"All right," said the doctor. "Let's make a bargain. You swallow down
this draught, and I'll go and fetch Wicks."

And he gave the wretched man an opiate that laid him out within ten
minutes and in all likelihood preserved his reason.

It was the doctor's next business to attend to Mac; and he found
occasion, while engaged upon his arm, to make the man repeat the names
of the rescued crew. It was now the turn of the captain, and there is
no doubt he was no longer the man that we have seen; sudden relief, the
sense of perfect safety, a square meal and a good glass of grog, had all
combined to relax his vigilance and depress his energy.

"When was this done?" asked the doctor, looking at the wound.

"More than a week ago," replied Wicks, thinking singly of his log.

"Hey?" cried the doctor, and he raised his hand and looked the captain
in the eyes.

"I don't remember exactly," faltered Wicks.

And at this remarkable falsehood, the suspicions of the doctor were at
once quadrupled.

"By the way, which of you is called Wicks?" he asked easily.

"What's that?" snapped the captain, falling white as paper.

"Wicks," repeated the doctor; "which of you is he? that's surely a plain

Wicks stared upon his questioner in silence.

"Which is Brown, then?" pursued the doctor.

"What are you talking of? what do you mean by this?" cried Wicks,
snatching his half-bandaged hand away, so that the blood sprinkled in
the surgeon's face.

He did not trouble to remove it. Looking straight at his victim, he
pursued his questions. "Why must Brown go the same way?" he asked.

Wicks fell trembling on a locker. "Carthew's told you," he cried.

"No," replied the doctor, "he has not. But he and you between you have
set me thinking, and I think there's something wrong."

"Give me some grog," said Wicks. "I'd rather tell than have you find
out. I'm damned if it's half as bad as what any one would think."

And with the help of a couple of strong grogs, the tragedy of the Flying
Scud was told for the first time.

It was a fortunate series of accidents that brought the story to the
doctor. He understood and pitied the position of these wretched men, and
came whole-heartedly to their assistance. He and Wicks and Carthew (so
soon as he was recovered) held a hundred councils and prepared a policy
for San Francisco. It was he who certified "Goddedaal" unfit to be moved
and smuggled Carthew ashore under cloud of night; it was he who kept
Wicks's wound open that he might sign with his left hand; he who took
all their Chile silver and (in the course of the first day) got it
converted for them into portable gold. He used his influence in the
wardroom to keep the tongues of the young officers in order, so that
Carthew's identification was kept out of the papers. And he rendered
another service yet more important. He had a friend in San Francisco,
a millionaire; to this man he privately presented Carthew as a young
gentleman come newly into a huge estate, but troubled with Jew debts
which he was trying to settle on the quiet. The millionaire came readily
to help; and it was with his money that the wrecker gang was to be
fought. What was his name, out of a thousand guesses? It was Douglas

As long as the Currency Lasses could all disappear under fresh names,
it did not greatly matter if the brig were bought, or any small
discrepancies should be discovered in the wrecking. The identification
of one of their number had changed all that. The smallest scandal must
now direct attention to the movements of Norris. It would be asked how
he who had sailed in a schooner from Sydney, had turned up so shortly
after in a brig out of Hong Kong; and from one question to another all
his original shipmates were pretty sure to be involved. Hence arose
naturally the idea of preventing danger, profiting by Carthew's
new-found wealth, and buying the brig under an alias; and it was put in
hand with equal energy and caution. Carthew took lodgings alone under
a false name, picked up Bellairs at random, and commissioned him to buy
the wreck.

"What figure, if you please?" the lawyer asked.

"I want it bought," replied Carthew. "I don't mind about the price."

"Any price is no price," said Bellairs. "Put a name upon it."

"Call it ten thousand pounds then, if you like!" said Carthew.

In the meanwhile, the captain had to walk the streets, appear in the
consulate, be cross-examined by Lloyd's agent, be badgered about his
lost accounts, sign papers with his left hand, and repeat his lies to
every skipper in San Francisco: not knowing at what moment he might
run into the arms of some old friend who should hail him by the name of
Wicks, or some new enemy who should be in a position to deny him that
of Trent. And the latter incident did actually befall him, but was
transformed by his stout countenance into an element of strength. It was
in the consulate (of all untoward places) that he suddenly heard a big
voice inquiring for Captain Trent. He turned with the customary sinking
at his heart.

"YOU ain't Captain Trent!" said the stranger, falling back. "Why, what's
all this? They tell me you're passing off as Captain Trent--Captain
Jacob Trent--a man I knew since I was that high."

"O, you're thinking of my uncle as had the bank in Cardiff," replied
Wicks, with desperate aplomb.

"I declare I never knew he had a nevvy!" said the stranger.

"Well, you see he has!" says Wicks.

"And how is the old man?" asked the other.

"Fit as a fiddle," answered Wicks, and was opportunely summoned by the

This alert was the only one until the morning of the sale, when he
was once more alarmed by his interview with Jim; and it was with some
anxiety that he attended the sale, knowing only that Carthew was to
be represented, but neither who was to represent him nor what were the
instructions given. I suppose Captain Wicks is a good life. In spite of
his personal appearance and his own known uneasiness, I suppose he is
secure from apoplexy, or it must have struck him there and then, as he
looked on at the stages of that insane sale and saw the old brig and her
not very valuable cargo knocked down at last to a total stranger for ten
thousand pounds.

It had been agreed that he was to avoid Carthew, and above all Carthew's
lodging, so that no connexion might be traced between the crew and the
pseudonymous purchaser. But the hour for caution was gone by, and he
caught a tram and made all speed to Mission Street.

Carthew met him in the door.

"Come away, come away from here," said Carthew; and when they were clear
of the house, "All's up!" he added.


"O, you've heard of the sale, then?" said Wicks.

"The sale!" cried Carthew. "I declare I had forgotten it." And he told
of the voice in the telephone, and the maddening question: "Why did you
want to buy the Flying Scud?"

This circumstance, coming on the back of the monstrous improbabilities
of the sale, was enough to have shaken the reason of Immanuel Kant. The
earth seemed banded together to defeat them; the stones and the boys on
the street appeared to be in possession of their guilty secret. Flight
was their one thought. The treasure of the Currency Lass they packed in
waist-belts, expressed their chests to an imaginary address in British
Columbia, and left San Francisco the same afternoon, booked for Los

The next day they pursued their retreat by the Southern Pacific route,
which Carthew followed on his way to England; but the other three
branched off for Mexico.





DEAR LOW: The other day (at Manihiki of all places) I had the pleasure
to meet Dodd. We sat some two hours in the neat, little, toy-like
church, set with pews after the manner of Europe, and inlaid with
mother-of-pearl in the style (I suppose) of the New Jerusalem. The
natives, who are decidedly the most attractive inhabitants of this
planet, crowded round us in the pew, and fawned upon and patted us; and
here it was I put my questions, and Dodd answered me.

I first carried him back to the night in Barbizon when Carthew told his
story, and asked him what was done about Bellairs. It seemed he had
put the matter to his friend at once, and that Carthew took it with an
inimitable lightness. "He's poor, and I'm rich," he had said. "I can
afford to smile at him. I go somewhere else, that's all--somewhere
that's far away and dear to get to. Persia would be found to answer, I
fancy. No end of a place, Persia. Why not come with me?" And they had
left the next afternoon for Constantinople, on their way to Teheran.
Of the shyster, it is only known (by a newspaper paragraph) that he
returned somehow to San Francisco and died in the hospital.

"Now there's another point," said I. "There you are off to Persia with
a millionaire, and rich yourself. How come you here in the South Seas,
running a trader?"

He said, with a smile, that I had not yet heard of Jim's last
bankruptcy. "I was about cleaned out once more," he said; "and then it
was that Carthew had this schooner built, and put me in as supercargo.
It's his yacht and it's my trader; and as nearly all the expenses go to
the yacht, I do pretty well. As for Jim, he's right again: one of the
best businesses, they say, in the West, fruit, cereals, and real estate;
and he has a Tartar of a partner now--Nares, no less. Nares will keep
him straight, Nares has a big head. They have their country-places next
door at Saucelito, and I stayed with them time about, the last time I
was on the coast. Jim had a paper of his own--I think he has a notion
of being senator one of these days--and he wanted me to throw up the
schooner and come and write his editorials. He holds strong views on the
State Constitution, and so does Mamie."

"And what became of the other three Currency Lasses after they left
Carthew?" I inquired.

"Well, it seems they had a huge spree in the city of Mexico," said Dodd;
"and then Hadden and the Irishman took a turn at the gold fields in
Venezuela, and Wicks went on alone to Valparaiso. There's a Kirkup in
the Chilean navy to this day, I saw the name in the papers about the
Balmaceda war. Hadden soon wearied of the mines, and I met him the other
day in Sydney. The last news he had from Venezuela, Mac had been knocked
over in an attack on the gold train. So there's only the three of them
left, for Amalu scarcely counts. He lives on his own land in Maui, at
the side of Hale-a-ka-la, where he keeps Goddedaal's canary; and they
say he sticks to his dollars, which is a wonder in a Kanaka. He had
a considerable pile to start with, for not only Hemstead's share but
Carthew's was divided equally among the other four--Mac being counted."

"What did that make for him altogether?" I could not help asking, for I
had been diverted by the number of calculations in his narrative.

"One hundred and twenty-eight pounds nineteen shillings and eleven pence
halfpenny," he replied with composure. "That's leaving out what little
he won at Van John. It's something for a Kanaka, you know."

And about that time we were at last obliged to yield to the
solicitations of our native admirers, and go to the pastor's house to
drink green cocoanuts. The ship I was in was sailing the same night, for
Dodd had been beforehand and got all the shell in the island; and though
he pressed me to desert and return with him to Auckland (whither he was
now bound to pick up Carthew) I was firm in my refusal.

The truth is, since I have been mixed up with Havens and Dodd in the
design to publish the latter's narrative, I seem to feel no want for
Carthew's society. Of course I am wholly modern in sentiment, and think
nothing more noble than to publish people's private affairs at so much a
line. They like it, and if they don't, they ought to. But a still small
voice keeps telling me they will not like it always, and perhaps not
always stand it. Memory besides supplies me with the face of a pressman
(in the sacred phrase) who proved altogether too modern for one of his
neighbours, and


Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum

as it were, marshalling us our way. I am in no haste to

--nos proecedens--

be that man's successor. Carthew has a record as "a clane shot," and for
some years Samoa will be good enough for me.

We agreed to separate, accordingly; but he took me on board in his own
boat with the hard-wood fittings, and entertained me on the way with
an account of his late visit to Butaritari, whither he had gone on
an errand for Carthew, to see how Topelius was getting along, and, if
necessary, to give him a helping hand. But Topelius was in great force,
and had patronised and--well--out-manoeuvred him.

"Carthew will be pleased," said Dodd; "for there's no doubt they
oppressed the man abominably when they were in the Currency Lass. It's
diamond cut diamond now."


This, I think, was the most of the news I got from my friend Loudon; and
I hope I was well inspired, and have put all the questions to which you
would be curious to hear an answer.

But there is one more that I daresay you are burning to put to myself;
and that is, what your own name is doing in this place, cropping up (as
it were uncalled-for) on the stern of our poor ship? If you were not
born in Arcadia, you linger in fancy on its margin; your thoughts are
busied with the flutes of antiquity, with daffodils, and the classic
poplar, and the footsteps of the nymphs, and the elegant and moving
aridity of ancient art. Why dedicate to you a tale of a caste
so modern;--full of details of our barbaric manners and unstable
morals;--full of the need and the lust of money, so that there is scarce
a page in which the dollars do not jingle;--full of the unrest and
movement of our century, so that the reader is hurried from place to
place and sea to sea, and the book is less a romance than a panorama--in
the end, as blood-bespattered as an epic?

Well, you are a man interested in all problems of art, even the most
vulgar; and it may amuse you to hear the genesis and growth of _The
Wrecker_. On board the schooner Equator, almost within sight of the
Johnstone Islands (if anybody knows where these are) and on a moonlit
night when it was a joy to be alive, the authors were amused with
several stories of the sale of wrecks. The subject tempted them; and
they sat apart in the alley-way to discuss its possibilities. "What a
tangle it would make," suggested one, "if the wrong crew were aboard.
But how to get the wrong crew there?"--"I have it!" cried the other;
"the so-and-so affair!" For not so many months before, and not so many
hundred miles from where we were then sailing, a proposition almost
tantamount to that of Captain Trent had been made by a British skipper
to some British castaways.

Before we turned in, the scaffolding of the tale had been put together.
But the question of treatment was as usual more obscure. We had long
been at once attracted and repelled by that very modern form of the
police novel or mystery story, which consists in beginning your yarn
anywhere but at the beginning, and finishing it anywhere but at the
end; attracted by its peculiar interest when done, and the peculiar
difficulties that attend its execution; repelled by that appearance
of insincerity and shallowness of tone, which seems its inevitable
drawback. For the mind of the reader, always bent to pick up clews,
receives no impression of reality or life, rather of an airless,
elaborate mechanism; and the book remains enthralling, but
insignificant, like a game of chess, not a work of human art. It seemed
the cause might lie partly in the abrupt attack; and that if the tale
were gradually approached, some of the characters introduced (as it
were) beforehand, and the book started in the tone of a novel of manners
and experience briefly treated, this defect might be lessened and our
mystery seem to inhere in life. The tone of the age, its movement, the
mingling of races and classes in the dollar hunt, the fiery and not
quite unromantic struggle for existence with its changing trades and
scenery, and two types in particular, that of the American handy-man of
business and that of the Yankee merchant sailor--we agreed to dwell upon
at some length, and make the woof to our not very precious warp. Hence
Dodd's father, and Pinkerton, and Nares, and the Dromedary picnics, and
the railway work in New South Wales--the last an unsolicited testimonial
from the powers that be, for the tale was half written before I saw
Carthew's squad toil in the rainy cutting at South Clifton, or heard
from the engineer of his "young swell." After we had invented at some
expense of time this method of approaching and fortifying our police
novel, it occurred to us it had been invented previously by some one
else, and was in fact--however painfully different the results may
seem--the method of Charles Dickens in his later work.

I see you staring. Here, you will say, is a prodigious quantity of
theory to our halfpenny worth of police novel; and withal not a shadow
of an answer to your question.

Well, some of us like theory. After so long a piece of practice, these
may be indulged for a few pages. And the answer is at hand. It was
plainly desirable, from every point of view of convenience and contrast,
that our hero and narrator should partly stand aside from those with
whom he mingles, and be but a pressed-man in the dollar hunt. Thus it
was that Loudon Dodd became a student of the plastic arts, and that our
globe-trotting story came to visit Paris and look in at Barbizon. And
thus it is, dear Low, that your name appears in the address of this

For sure, if any person can here appreciate and read between the lines,
it must be you--and one other, our friend. All the dominos will be
transparent to your better knowledge; the statuary contract will be to
you a piece of ancient history; and you will not have now heard for the
first time of the dangers of Roussillon. Dead leaves from the Bas Breau,
echoes from Lavenue's and the Rue Racine, memories of a common past, let
these be your bookmarkers as you read. And if you care for naught else
in the story, be a little pleased to breathe once more for a moment the
airs of our youth.

The End.

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