Citation
Swept out to sea

Material Information

Title:
Swept out to sea
Creator:
Ker, David, 1842-1914
Symington, James Ayton ( Illustrator )
W. & R. Chambers Ltd
Place of Publication:
London
Publisher:
W. & R. Chambers, Limited
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
297, [4], 48 p., [6] leaves of plates : ill. ; 19 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Youth -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Sea stories -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Seafaring life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Storms -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Shipwrecks -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Sailors -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Ships -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Sea stories -- 1897 ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature -- 1897 ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1897 ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1897 ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1897
Genre:
sea stories ( aat )
Children's literature ( fast )
Publishers' catalogues ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) ( rbprov )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Pictorial front cover and spine.
General Note:
Publisher's catalogue follows text.
Statement of Responsibility:
by David Ker ; with six illustrations by J. Ayton Symington.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
002391986 ( ALEPH )
ALZ6882 ( NOTIS )
47729946 ( OCLC )

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Full Text
a





er —0e~ 00 _ een nnn tn.

YW ‘School,

qivesented

TO
- Gerege lo
FOR
REGULAR & PUNCTUAL ATTENDANCE
"at Schoo! during the Year 1906.

—~— #4 09 ¢9—_ 06.00...

Attendance Record,

No. of Attendances made Las Z
No. of Absences aS ee es

“ee
EG f
Cs Ba),

‘ J. J. JACKSON,

|

{|

Head Teacher.

Director of Education.

The Baldwin Library

University
B of
RMB vibe











264,

PAGE

stone-dead.

?

Jack,

here lay Obeah

T





SVP OU 10 Sah

BY

DAVID KER

AUTHOR OF ‘PRISONER AMONG PIRATES;’ ‘COSSACK AND CZAR3;’ ‘VANISHED ;’

‘THE WIZARD KING;’ ETC.

WITH SIX ILLUSTRATIONS
BY

J. AYTON SYMINGTON

W. & R. CHAMBERS, Limitep
LONDON AND EDINBURGH
1897



Edinburgh :
Printed by W. & R. Chambers, Limited.



CHAPTER
I.
Il.
Ill.
IV.
Vv.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
OVE
XVI.
XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.
XX.
XXI.
XXII.
XXIII.

XXIV.
XXV.
XXVI.
XXVII.
XXVIII.
XXIX.
XXX.
XXXI.
XXXII.
XXXITI.

CONTENTS.








PAGE
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES......... Pree eeeNeac ec oesceaees eras
A HORRID MAN . 15
MISSING
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY..........- Boke cne sesetaeaeee enue 32
A ROMAN FATHER :
CUT OFF....... Pn ache Waa ee acc iac seme taecem ences
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.




BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.







A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH............c000e000

IN A CITY OF DWARES........ccsseeeeereeeees eeceaaetes seen . 82
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.....ceesscseeeeeeserereeeees ae 91
AT THE END OF THE WORLD.... . 103
THE BEGINNING OF A, LONG VOYAGE......... Cece res a 113
THE MYSTERIOUS BELL..........sssseeeeees aerteeee sceneries 123
A NIGHT IN THE DEEP..........0::00 Rerceeteeereeees canes 129
WHAT THE DAY BROUGHT.......:cccseceepereerens sedtiwdeceeiesg 135
THE STRANGE VESSEL

OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.. ..........--- 148
A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF........ 7
FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN...........++5 Reese ceas terranes 164
THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD.......::cccscseeseeeeeetersteentee: 175
WESTWARD HO !o.ccccceeeseeecetenreeeest eens Sera dereerseram eae 182



WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST
INDIES... 00... cece ee eee eee e eee e ene eeeeee oa






ON THE PITCH LAKE......ccccscec eee eceeee teen en nen nen eeeeseeeees
THE DISMAL SWAMP........+5 Siinevisbenlaress ticiaenrsesod scenes 209
A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER.....0.cccceceeeee eee nee renee en nees 215
TN PRISON: ci Sccscheesscsedacsteseestetrsneneee ses Wee eee ae 222
THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS ... ,

NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK......cccccccseneceeeeee neers Reece

NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE
MET AT MIDNIGHT.........cccceeceeeenenee en ees abies ome tans 266
A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE........:.c:ecceeceeeneeneeneees BeQTT
THE LIFELESS SEA





LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

PAGE
There lay Obeah-Jack, stone-dead.........cccecees Frontispiece.
At last they both reached the foot of the cliff safe and sound..... 51

“I may just as well go too,’... and a third splash accom-
panied his Words ...........cseeeesessseeeeeceeceeseeeeeeeeeeteneaeeeees ee 79

‘Here, Trevenna, . . . come and see what you make of this

CLALGHE eee sree tens ocette ees ee teeeeee eons eteuuerdee cer ‘1000140
The spike of the boat-hook struck home. . . and he fell head-
long down the ladder.........ccccccccceseseeeeteestttessssscsesssssse lO

‘Hi, Johnny !’ halloed Tom, ‘is this the right road to Maraccas
BAY alieivcckcarccasccrectetarierncorctctsteserees sa ses teasers eh tare oreeceen 229







SVP OUl TO ShAs

CHAPTER IL

SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

¢ —

Falk.’S gane! he’s drooned !’

4 ‘Puir laddie! the Lord hae mercy on him!’
|| ‘Na, na, Tam, he’s no drooned yet; I

=| ‘Where?—where? I can see naething!’

‘Yonder, man—straucht in a line wi’ yon muckle (big)
rock, ‘D’ ye no see his heid aboon the water?’

‘Ay, I see him fine noo! God be praised !’

‘He winna keep up lang, though; nae livin’ man could
do ’t in sic’ a sea as yon!’

‘Will they no mak’ haste wi’ the boat? They ’ll let the
man droon before their faces, while they ’re haverin’ !’ (shilly-
shallying).

Such were the shouts that flew from mouth to mouth
through the crowd that stood massed, on a gusty, stormy
afternoon“an the later spring, along the winding shore of
Mainland (the largest of the Shetland Isles), a few hundred
yards beyond the point from which the small gray stone







8 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

houses and quaint little toy fort of Lerwick—the tiny
metropolis of the Archipelago—looked forth across the strait
that divided it from the smaller island of Bressay, the vast
black precipices of which towered up like a giant wall along
the farther shore.

Every class of the population was represented in that
jostling, shouting throng. Brown, burly, red-capped fisher-
men ; stalwart, hard-faced sailors in rough Flushing jackets ;
lanky, yellow-haired ’prentice-lads from the shops in the
town, elbowing their masters in the general confusion ; bare-
footed native women in short blue skirts, with coloured
handkerchiefs wound turban-fashion round their weather-
beaten faces; ruddy children, staring at the universal bustle
with eyes as round as saucers; the parish schoolmaster
himself, in his low-crowned hat and well-worn black coat ;
and, last but not least, a group of tourists brought by the
weekly mail-steamer from the south, who, though the furious
wind almost tore the hair from their heads, and the squall
seemed likely to melt ere long in torrents of rain, kept their
ground manfully on the crest of a low ridge that commanded
a full view of the startling scene which was causing such
general excitement.

For that excitement, in truth, there was only too much
reason. Amid the white leaping hills of water that surged
and yoared below, the head of a man, dimly seen through
a whirlwind of flying spray, was appearing and vanishing
by turns. Twice had the raging sea engulfed him altogether,
and twice had he risen again just as all thought him lost
for ever; but although he was still battling for his life as
stoutly as man could do, it was plainly beyond his power
to fight his way to the shore without help—and there was
no help at hand.

A stranger might have wondered, indeed, hogy it was
that among all these scores of bold and sturdy nen, whose
reckless courage was a proverb, not one seemed to be making
the slightest effort to save the victim who was perishing



SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES. 9

before their very. eyes by the same form of death which daily
threatened themselves. But this was only too easily
accounted for. Although nine-tenths of them were sailors
or fishermen, and although they were encircled by one of
the stormiest seas in the world, none of them could swim! *

The best two boatmen in the town, however—men who
could be trusted to achieve any task which it was possible
for human skill and courage to accomplish—had rushed off
at once to unmoor their boat; but she lay some distance off,
and would require some time to get her ready ; and it seemed
only too probable that, before they could put off to his assist-
ance, the exhausted swimmer would have sunk to rise no more.

The doomed man who was thus face to face with apparently
certain death had not even the consolation of feeling that he
had lost his life (if lose it he must) in a good cause ; for he
had been thrown into this deadly peril solely by his own
foolish and headstrong rashness.

A trim little. yacht had anchored early that morning in
the roadstead of Lerwick; and her owner, who was of
course an Englishman (for, as an old Shetlander observed
with more truth than politeness, ‘nae ither man wad be sic
a fule’), had lost no time in setting himself to do the most
dangerous thing within reach—viz. to swim across the strait
which divided Bressay from Mainland.

This, even in the calmest weather, would have been no
safe or easy task ; and it was now made absolutely impossible
by the unexpected bursting of one of those sudden storms
which make the northern seas so dangerous. Farther up
the sheltered strait, indeed, this would have mattered little ;
but, as if the poor young fellow were fated to have everything
against him, he had unluckily chosen to start from a point
close to the southern entrance of Bressay Sound, into which
a furious southerly gale was piling the whole North Sea in

* This may paghaps be altered now; but at the time of which I am
writing, I repeatedly found myself, while voyaging among the Shetland:
Isles, the only swimmer in a whole boat’s crew.—D. K.



10 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

a.succession of mountain billows, which a line-of-battle ship
could not have resisted ; and it soon became terribly manifest
that, so far from being able to cross the strait, the doomed
swimmer had no hope of even regaining the beach that he
had left barely a hundred yards behind him.

- ‘Oh papa! must the poor man be drowned? said a little
golden-haired girl of ten or eleven to a sturdy, fresh-coloured, '
middle-aged man beside her, with tears of pity glistening:
in her bright blue eyes as she spoke.

‘I’m afraid so, dear,’ answered her father in a low voice,
as he stood watching the progress of the tragedy, with a:
very grave look darkening slowly over his broad, good-
humoured face. ‘His only chance is to be able to keep
afloat till the boat reaches him, and I fear there’s not
much hope of that.’

A few paces to the right of the speakers stood. another
group of lookers-on, who were evidently (like themselves)
visitors from England. They were three in number—two
men and a boy; and in each of the three any practised
reader of faces would have found much to interest him.

The boy was a pale, slim, delicate lad of thirteen, with a
downcast look and spiritless air very sad to see in one upon
whom life was just opening. The shorter of the two men
glanced at him from time to time with a look of compassion,
while the taller eyed him with a frown *of contemptuous
displeasure. The man who thus pitied him was a stranger
who had never seen his face till about a month before; and
the man who frowned upon him was—his own father !

The father’s strong, bold, massive features, bronzed and
scarred though they were, bore a strange, mocking likeness
to the smooth, delicate face of his son; but his air of stern
and almost defiant confidence contrasted as strongly with
the latter’s dejection as did the soldierly uprightness of the
man’s towering figure (which might have servedia@my painter
as a model for Hercules) with the drooping head and nerve-
less limbs of the boy. .

Ba"



SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES. 11

The second man was fully half a head shorter than his
companion, and looked quite small and slight beside the
latter’s giant frame ; but a close observer would have noticed
that his spare, well-knit form was as sinewy and active as’
a deer-hound, and that his dark, worn, bearded face had
the calm, self-possessed firmness of one who had confronted
countless difficulties and dangers, and had. overcome them all.

The behaviour of the two men was as different as their
appearance. The taller of the pair showed all the tokens
of violent agitation, setting his teeth, clenching his hands,
and beating his foot restlessly against the ground; but,
though evidently excited almost to madness by the peril
of the struggling man below, he made no sign of going to
the latter’s assistance. 3

Not so his smaller comrade. For some moments he stood
gazing fixedly at the whirl of wild waters beneath him,
without uttering a word, or betraying the slightest emotion ;
and then, turning suddenly away, he glided swiftly past the.
skirt of the crowd, and disappeared down the slope behind
him.

The only person who seemed to notice his departure was
the little fair-haired girl already mentioned,-who, with that
strange instinct by which a child will sometimes guess what
all the mature reason of its elders has failed to discern, felt,
without knowing why, that this weird drama of life and.
death was about to take a new and unexpected turn.

Nor was she mistaken. A few minutes later, there broke
out a clamour of shouts and cries to which all the previous
uproar was nothing, while hands were pointed, and heads
bent eagerly forward, in the direction of the spot where the
ridge upon which Lerwick stands, shelving steeply down
towards the water’s edge, ends at last in a narrow strip of
pebbly beach, dotted with three or four rude fisher-huts.

‘Yonder he gangs! God be wi’ him—it’s a fearsome
peril!’

‘Wha is ’t, Sandy? Is’t ane o’ oor folk?’



12 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

‘I dinna ken; but he’s a bauld chiel (brave fellow), be
he wha he may.’

Then the tumult ceased as suddenly as it had arisen, and
all alike bent forward to watch, with clenched teeth and
throbbing hearts, the last and most thrilling scene of this
grim melodrama.

‘Oh papa, papa!’ cried the girl, clutching her father’s
arm with both hands, ‘there’s somebody going out to try
and save the poor man! Oh, do you think he will?’

But her father, gazing down with quivering lips and
straining eyes into the savage sea below, found no voice
to answer her.

And, after that, not another word was spoken. In grim
silence the watching hundreds stood breathlessly awaiting
the issue of this single combat with death, upon which
were staked two human lives.

Again and again the small dark spot, which was all that
could be seen of this self-sacrificed hero, vanished utterly
amid the surging mountains of foam that leaped and
dashed around it ; and the keenest eye in the terrified throng
sought it in vain. But it always reappeared once more
a few moments later; and every time it was farther out
from the beach than before.

It soon became plain to all that this bold swimmer,
whoever he might be, was slowly but surely nearing the
man whom he came to save ; and three or four of the older
fishermen did not fail to note, with secret approval, that he
had taken the water just at a spot where a projecting point
of land would shield him a little from the fury of the sea,
and where, moreover, he would have the aid of a cross-
current setting from the shore in the direction whither he
was heading.

Nearer—nearer—nearer still! The hardiest seamen held
their breath, and the English giant clenched his hands till
the knuckles grew white, while the ruddy faces of little
Golden-hair and her father became pale as death.



SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES. 13

All at once the unknown hero rose full into view on the
crest of a mighty wave; and several of the spectators
(foremost among whom was the fair-haired child) at once
recognised him as the tall Englishman’s grave, quiet
companion, who had been standing in the midst of them only
a few minutes before !

As he was whirled upward by the swing of the great
wave, the daring swimmer was seen to wave his hand—but
not toward the shore. For whom that salute was intended
soon became manifest; for at that moment another vast
billow bore aloft on its foaming crest the struggling yachts-
man whose rashness had caused all this trouble, and, across
that deadly interval, the perishing man and his would-be
rescuer caught a momentary glimpse of each other’s faces.

‘He’s a cool fallow, yon!’ said a veteran sailor, with a grim
smile of approval; ‘he can mak’ signals even?’ the grip o’ death!’

But the signal so coolly and bravely made was not given
in vain. The exhausted yachtsman, seeing help so near,
plucked up heart again, and rallied his last strength to keep
afloat till his deliverer came.

‘He’ll do’t! he'll do’t!’ cried a sturdy fisherman
excitedly. ‘Noo, may the Lord grant that the ither man
does na grip him!’

The last speaker uttered the very thought which was in
the mind of every one who heard him. That the brave
volunteer would succeed in reaching the drowning man now
appeared almost certain ; but should the latter (as was only
too probable) cling to him in desperation, and thus fetter his
limbs, both must perish together.

A few moments more of breathless suspense, and then a
shout which seemed to shake the very earth told that the
daring rescuer had reached his man at last. But the cheer
instantly died away, and a shudder pulsed through the crowd
like an electric shock, as a solid wall of water, looming
larger, and darker, and higher every moment, was seen sweep-
ing in from the open sea.



14 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

On it came, with the quiet, steady movement of over-
whelming strength, seeming to chase the lesser waves before
it with the mere terror of its coming.. The boldest spectators
held their breath, as that dread thing approached in terrible
silence.

And now it was within a few paces of the doomed pair—
and now its foamy crest was hanging right over their heads
—and now there came a rush and a roar, a crash as if the
earth were split asunder, a blinding gust of spray !

When it cleared away, the two swimmers were gone /







CHAPTER II.

A HORRID MAN.

(O sudden and terrific was this catastrophe, that
|| it seemed literally to stun all who beheld it.
One quick gasp, like the in-drawn breath of
| one in mortal pain, hissed through the crowd,
and then all was gloomy silence.

But all at once there came clear and loud through that
dead hush of despair the sound of a lusty, cheery shout,
which seemed to come from a small fishing-boat that was
nearing the scene of disaster from the shore; and the cheer
was instantly echoed by an answering shout from a boat
belonging to the English yacht, which was coming up on the
other side as swiftly as four stout oarsmen could drive her.

At that sound every face in the throng was lifted, every
eye lighted up, and the crowd surged forward as one man ;
for all knew at once that their fears were groundless, and
that the men whom they had thought dead were alive after
all.

‘They ’re a’ richt ; I see them baith!’ cried an old fisher-
wife joyfully ; ‘and the bit boatie’s close up to them noo!
The Lord be praised for His mercy !’

And many a deep voice from the crowd hoarsely echoed
the thanksgiving.

It was even so. The two boats reached the scene of
action almost at the same moment, and the yacht’s crew





Pe ee ee

16 A HORRID MAN.

carried off her helpless and unconscious owner to his own
vessel, while the Shetland boatmen bore back his rescuer—
exhausted and almost speechless, but still as calm and self-
possessed as ever—to the welcome of the shouting hundreds
that lined the shore.

As might be expected, the whole town was on tiptoe to
find out who the hero of this daring exploit was ; but on this
point nothing could be learned by the most persevering
inquirers, foremost among whom was the stalwart, florid,
middle-aged gentleman who had the honour of being little
Golden-hair’s father, and who was no less a personage than
Mr Democritus Cramwell, second master in the great English
public-school of Hollowdale.

Good Mrs Mattinson, the brisk, bustling, cheery hostess of
the one hotel which Lerwick then possessed, could only say
that this unknown hero had arrived a few days before, in
company with the tall Englishman and his son, and that all
three, having left their heavier luggage in her charge, had
started with a hand-bag apiece across the island to Scalloway,
a quaint little ‘town’ which still clusters around the ruined
castle of the same name, on the western shore of Mainland.
The party had only returned that afternoon; and from the
luggage itself nothing was to be learned, the wear-and-tear of
travel having completely obliterated the addresses.

This was all that could be gathered by the honest burghers
of Lerwick, and they were fain to content themselves with
escorting the mysterious champion to the door of his hotel,
having been with some difficulty restrained from carrying him
into it in triumph upon their brawny shoulders.

Evening had come at last, the crowd had dispersed,
and the sun was sinking as slowly as if conscious of the
absurdity of going to bed at all in these high latitudes, where
he would have to rise again in an hour or two at the farthest.
The tall soldier-like Englishman and his son had disappeared ;
their renowned comrade was equally invisible ; Mr Cramwell
was in his room, writing letters for the next mail; and his



A HORRID MAN. 17

rosy-cheeked daughter was sitting on a bench beside the door
of the hotel (with the setting sun casting a crown of glory
around her little golden head) deep in one of the tales of
adventure in which she delighted.

She had just reached the most thrilling part of the story,
where the hero, a young English officer, was defending, single-
handed, a mountain path in the Himalaya against ‘a howling
swarm of dwarfish, hideous savages,’ when a low, clear voice
said in her ear, in a slightly mocking tone :

‘You like your literature strong, I see, Miss Cramwell.’

‘How do you know my name?’ asked the child, looking
round with some surprise ata short figure in a rough pea-
jacket (with a battered wideawake slouched over its eyes)
which had just appeared at her side as suddenly as if it had
risen through the earth.

‘Well, I presume it’s the same as your father’s; and I’ve
met him before, though this is the first time that I have had
the pleasure of seeing you.’

‘Really? Well, I didn’t think he knew anybody up here.
But please don’t call me “Miss Cramwell”—it sounds just like
being at school, you know. Everybody calls me Flo, only
my right name’s Florimel, after a lady in Spenser’s Faerie
Queene. There were two Florimels, a real one and a make-
up; and a lot of stupid people thought the make-up one ever
so much the prettiest of the two, and they admired her and
followed her about, till at last the real one happened to come
to the same place ; and then ’——

‘And then,’ broke in her companion, ‘the result was what
it generally is, when truth is confronted with humbug:

Straightway, so soon as both together met,

Th’ enchanted damsel vanished into nought ;

Her snowy substance melted as with heat,

Nor of that goodly hue remainéd aught

Save th’ empty girdle that about her waist was wrought.’

“Why, I declare you know it all by heart!’ cried Flo,
looking up at him admiringly. ‘I only wish I had a memory
B



18 A HORRID MAN.

like that ; papa’s always setting me to learn things by heart,
and I never can!’

‘Well, perhaps you’re none the worse for that; the most
perfect memory of that kind that I ever knew belonged to a
man who, if there had been a prize for the greatest fool,
would certainly have got it. Isee it’s one of Seymour Hardy’s
books that you’ve got there ; are you fond of his stories ?’

‘Oh, they ’re splendid; I could read them all day long!’
cried the little woman enthusiastically; ‘and he always
writes, too, just as if he had seen and done all the things he
talks about—and so he has, I suppose. Mustn’t it be fine
to know him !’

‘Well, I’m not so sure about that,’ said the pea-jacketed
gentleman. ‘If I remember right, I’ve fallen in with him
once inyself ; and, so far as I can recollect, there was nothing
very remarkable about him ; he looked pretty much like any
other man.’

‘Oh, I wish you hadn’t told me that!’ said Flo regretfully.
‘T always imagined him quite tall and grand, and immensely
strong—just like Wallace in The. Scottish Chiejs, you know,
or Amyas Leigh in Westward Ho /’

‘Well, I hope that dreadful revelation will not spoil your
relish for his writings,’ laughed Pea-jacket ; ‘but if it does,
here’s something for you to read by way of a change—the
last number of Boys and Girls.’

He held out the gaily-bound monthly as he spoke; but at
the mention of its name Flo puckered her charming little
face into a most austere frown, and thrust the proffered
magazine pettishly away.

‘I’ve nothing more to do with that,’ she said emphatically ;
‘T used to take it in, but I never will again. The editor’s a
horrid man, and I hate him !’

‘Hollo!’ cried Pea-jacket, startled by this sudden out-
burst, ‘what has the poor editor done to bring down upon
himself such bitter hostility? Surely he can’t have been so
ill-advised as to reject a contribution of yours ?’





A’HORRID MAN. 19

‘Yes, that’s just what he has done!’ cried Flo indignantly,
in a tone clearly implying that such a misdeed was more than
enough to stamp the wretch who had been guilty of it as a
criminal of the deepest dye. ‘I sent him quite a long story,
one that had taken me days and days to write; and, just
fancy! it came back the very next day, folded the wrong
way so that the paper had got all torn and crumpled; and
inside it was stuck a shabby little scrap of paper just like a
trunk-label, with “ Declined with Thanks” printed on it—and
that was all!’

‘It was most unwarrantable behaviour on the editor’s part,’
said her hearer with commendable gravity, ‘and I hope you
expressed your opinion of his conduct as it deserved.’

‘Indeed I did. I wrote him quite a long letter ; and, only
think! he hadn’t even the manners to send me any answer!’

Just at that moment a passing gust of wind whisked off
her new friend’s wideawake ; and as he stooped to pick it up,
the slanting sunbeams fell right upon his face, now fully
revealed for the first time.

The child uttered a cry of astonishment, and, catching him
by the arm, said eagerly: ‘Oh, I know you now! it was you
who saved that drowning man. How brave you must be!
But weren’t you terribly frightened when that great wave
swallowed you up? at least not really frightened, I mean,
but feeling that you were gone, and could never get
back 2”

‘I hadn’t time to think of anything of the sort,’ replied
the swimmer simply. ‘I was very much afraid, I own, of
losing my hold of the poor fellow, and letting him be drowned
after all; but as for one’s own risk, a man has no business
to think of that at all when any one else is in danger.’

‘Well, it was very brave of you, I’m sure,’ said the gil,
looking up at him with all a child’s frank, whole-hearted
admiration.: ‘But it was too bad of that great strong man
beside you to do nothing but stamp and make faces, and
never help you a bit! He must surely be a great coward.’



20 A HORRID MAN.

‘He a coward?’ cried her new friend, laughing heartily.
‘Do you know who he is? That’s Major Wellesley Dare,
one of, the bravest men in the British army, who got the
Victoria Cross for courage under fire, and came by that limp
of his from going into action before his last wound was
properly healed. You must not be so hasty in judging other
people, Miss Flo; he would have gone at once to help the
man, only—he can’t swim !’

‘Oh, I am so sorry!’ exclaimed Flo penitently ; ‘I’d no
idea he was such a fine man as that. I’ll never call him a
coward again, I won’t indeed ; but for all that, you must be
quite as brave as he is, or you could never have saved that
man. I do wish Tom Wickham had been here to see you
do it; he would have enjoyed it ever so much, for he’s a
capital swimmer himself; he can swim in six different
ways !”

‘And who may Tom Wickham be, pray?’ asked he of
the pea-jacket.

‘Oh, you must have heard of him; he’s in our school
eleven. Why, he played in the last Eton match, and had
his name in all the papers !’

‘I’m afraid,’ rejoined the traveller, as gravely as ever,
‘that, at the time when that famous contest took place, I was
in the heart of an African desert; and we didn’t see many
newspapers there.’

‘Have you really been right down into Africa, then?’
said the child wonderingly. ‘How fine! Was it there that
you learned to swim so well?’

‘Hardly,’ laughed the globe-trotter; ‘for I should have
been rather puzzled to find water enough to swim in there.
Most of my swimming practice was got in the South Sea
Islands.’

‘What! Have you been there too?’ cried Flo, with a look
of undisguised admiration. ‘Why, you must have been all
over the world! I declare, Mr Seymour Hardy ought to
write a book about you—he ought indeed! Those are just



A HORRID MAN. 21

the sort of places that his men are always running off to ;
and I’m sure that swim that you did to-day was as good as
any of the things that he makes them do !’

‘Well, if it comes to that, Flo,’ said the proposed hero of
romance, ‘why shouldn’t you make a story out of it yourself,
since you happen to be an authoress? No one can be better
qualified, for you saw the whole thing from beginning to
end.’

‘Why, so I might!’ cried the eleven-year-old authoress
gleefully, ‘and a capital story it would make, too! What
shall we call it?’

‘Call it A Wrestle with the Waves,’ suggested her adviser.

‘Capital!’ exclaimed the little romancer, all aglow with
this new and splendid idea; ‘I7ll go up and get out my
writing-desk, and begin at once. But, by the bye,’ she added
suddenly, with some slight hesitation and a doubtful glance
at her new acquaintance, ‘I can’t write a story about you if
I don’t know your name.’

‘You do know it, for you’ve got it here,’ answered the
stranger, as he pointed, with a sly twinkle in his keen gray
eyes, to the title-page of the book that she was reading.
‘My name is Seymour Hardy, and I am unfortunate enough
to be that “horrid man,” the editor of Boys and Girls /’







CHAPTER III.

MISSING.

HE sudden discovery that her favourite author
and her greatest enemy were one and the same
man—and that man the hero of the most
daring exploit that she had ever witnessed—
excited Flo Cramwell (as may be supposed)
to the highest pitch ; and as soon as she could rally herself
from the momentary stupor of amazement produced by this
astounding revelation, she flew to communicate it to her
father, who was quite as much surprised at it as herself.

‘Seymour Hardy here!’ cried he; ‘who would have
thought it? And yet, by the bye, I have heard that he’s
rather given to that sort of thing—making his appearance
in a melodramatic kind of way, just where he is least expected.
I must go and see him at once. Or stay,’ he added, looking
at his watch, ‘I see it’s getting late, and he must be pretty
well tired out, after such a day’s work as he’s had. Ill
have him to. breakfast to-morrow morning—that will be the
best plan.’

But in this hospitable intention the worthy scholar was
doomed to be disappointed; for when he tapped at Mr
Hardy’s door early on the following morning, fully expecting
to find him still in bed, after the overwhelming fatigues of
the previous day, the room was empty, and the landlady,
who was already bustling about as briskly as usual, informed





MISSING. 23

him that Hardy had gone out ‘near-hand an oor syne’
(nearly an hour since).

There was no help for it, and the Hollowdale master, who
had as keen an appetite for food as for knowledge, and
digested eggs or cutlets as easily as books, very unwillingly
resigned himself to await his intended guest’s return before
ordering breakfast. But time passed, and still there was no
sign of the missing man’s appearance; and every moment
that went by added to the impatience of the hungry instructor,
who at length—quite forgetting that poor Hardy could not
possibly know that he was to be invited to breakfast that
morning—worked himself up to as high a pitch of indignation
against the absent man as if the latter had wilfully broken
a regular engagement.

‘This fellow seems to be like MacFarlane’s geese in the
Scotch proverb—he thinks more of his play than of his meat !’
growled Mr Cramwell, looking at his watch for the twentieth
time. ‘This sort of thing’s all very well for these harum-
scarum globe-trotters, who sleep when they can, and have
their meals at all hours but the right one; but it doesn’t suit
me. I'll give him ten minutes more, and if he doesn’t come
then, I'll just begin without him ; I’m not going to lose my
breakfast for any author in England, if it were Shakespeare
himself !’

Scarcely had he uttered this valiant resolution, when a
wild, confused uproar came hoarsely to his ears from the
street below. The deep voices of men mingled with the
shriller cries of women and children, the hurried trampling
of feet, the hasty opening and shutting of doors, and other
sounds which seemed to imply the occurrence of some new
and startling catastrophe, in the midst of which the dismayed
listener could plainly distinguish the ominous words: ‘He’s
dead! he’s drowned !?

Mr Cramwell sprang to his feet as if stirred by an electric
shock ; but ere he could reach the door, his little daughter
burst into the room, all in tears, and, throwing herself into





24 MISSING,

his arms, sobbed out: ‘Oh papa! they’re saying that Mr
Hardy ’s drowned !’

Meanwhile Seymour Hardy, little dreaming of what was
in store for him, had started down to the beach for a swim
(as if bent upon showing the sea that he bore it no grudge
for its rough usage of him on the previous night), concealing
the light jersey and short flannel drawers which formed his
bathing-dress beneath a long gray cloak that covered him
right down to the feet, which had already done him good
service in this region of constant rain-squalls.

He was already more than half-way to the spot where he
meant to take his plunge—which was not far from the scene
of his recent exploit—when he caught sight of a slender,
boyish figure seated upon a rock, with its head supported
upon its hands, looking gloomily seaward.

The English dress and dejected attitude told the shrewd
Hardy who this solitary watcher must be, even before the
figure, raising its head at his approach, revealed the sad
face and weary eyes of his friend the major’s son, Alwyn
Dare.

‘A penny for your thoughts, Alwyn,’ said the author pleas-
antly.

‘I was thinking,’ replied the lad, with a sudden violence
very strange in that usually silent and moody boy, ‘that I’d
give anything in the world to be able to do what you did
yesterday !’

The unnatural vehemence of the boy’s tone, and the fever-
ish excitement of his look and manner, told their own story
to the experienced Hardy, who instantly answered in his
cheeriest voice: ‘Well, all in good time. I daresay, by the
time you’re my age, youll have done as good as that, and
better too.’

‘Yes, it’s likely, isn’t it?’ said Alwyn bitterly, ‘when I
can’t even do things that fellows a year younger than me do
quite easily. It’s not for want of trying, I’m sure. Is





MISSING. 25

it my fault that I was born delicate, and haven’t strength
and nerve like other people? They laugh at me because I
can’t do things like them, and yet, whenever I try, they turn
up their noses at me, and say I fail only because I’m afraid.
Catch any of them giving me an encouraging word when I’m
trying mty best; all they do is to laugh at me and call me
names. And the boys at home call me Molly and Jenny,
and say I ought to be a girl; and my own father, the bravest
man in the English army, says I’m a milksop and a coward,
and tells me that he’s ashamed of me!’

The last words were uttered with such intense bitterness
that even Hardy looked troubled for a moment, and made no
reply save an encouraging clap on the shoulder.

For one instant the boy was silent ; but the impulse which
drove him to pour out at last all the feelings which had been
so long and so painfully suppressed was too strong to be
checked, and he burst forth once more: ‘What’s the good
of my trying to do anything, if I’ve no chance of succeeding ?
I shall never be of any use—everybody I know takes good
care to keep on telling me that. I wish I was dead!’

‘So did another boy not much older than you,’ said Hardy
quietly, ‘when he was alone in India last century; but
although his father and all his family called him a good-for-
nothing, yet it was very lucky both for him and for all
England (and for the whole world, indeed, in one way)
that, when he wished himself dead, he did not get his
wish !?

‘And who was he, then?’ asked Alwyn Dare eagerly.

‘Robert Clive,’ answered his companion, with marked
emphasis.

‘Ah! he was different,’ said Alwyn, relapsing into the
tone of dejection which seemed habitual to him; ‘he was
as strong and brave as can be. I’ve read all about him; he
could thrash any other boy in the town, and he got right
up to the top of a church-steeple that nobody else could climb.
I shall never be like him!’



26 MISSING.

‘Well, you may not conquer India, perhaps,’ rejoined Mr
Hardy, with a good-humoured laugh; ‘but there are other
ways of showing one’s self brave beside thrashing people and
scrambling up church-spires.’

‘Well, now, were you ever afraid in your life?’ asked the
lad pointedly, evidently expecting that this question would
prove a poser.

‘Lots of times,’ answered his friend without the slightest
hesitation ; ‘it is only in books ’—and not in any of my books,
Tam glad to say—-‘ that people “know not what men call fear.”
I quite agree with what Napoleon’s famous general, Marshal
Lannes (one of the bravest men that ever lived) said about
that: “It is only a coward who says he has never been
afraid.” For my part, I don’t mind owning that I’ve been
frightened many a time—ay, and very badly frightened
too.’

This frank confession, coming from the very man who had
so lately achieved before his eyes one of the boldest feats on
record, did more to comfort the forlorn boy than anything
that had been said yet; and Seymour Hardy, seeing that
he was producing the desired impression, hastened to add:
‘Now, talking of being afraid, that reminds me of a story
bearing upon that very point, which I’ll tell you, for it’s
well worth hearing:

‘When my father was at school, one of Nelson’s old
captains—an old fellow who had got the name of “The
Fire-eater,” from having distinguished himself in so many
battles, and who was generally thought to be the bravest
seaman afloat—came to visit the school where he was.
You may think what a reception the boys gave him; and
when it was over, and they were all assembled to see
him go off, he said to them:

‘“T?ve got a word to say to you young fellows. I know
you’re rather apt to be hard upon anybody who seems to be
not so brave and strong as yourselves, and that you have
no mercy upon a boy who appears to be the least bit afraid



MISSING. Qie*

of anything whatever. Now, I have something to tell you
about that, which I’d like you all to remember.

‘Tn the last war with France, a French vessel had to be
attacked by boats under the guns of a French battery ; and
aboard one of those boats was a young middy who had never
been under fire before. Now, it happened that the very first
shot fired by the enemy struck down the man next to this
young fellow, and the body fell right upon him as he sat.
The poor boy, who had never seen any one killed in his life,
was so upset that he fell right down in the bottom of the
boat, just as if he had been shot himself. And as he lay
there, he thought, ‘It’s all over with me now; I’ve shown
the white feather, and every one will cry shame on me for a
coward, and my whole life’s destroyed!’ and he almost
wished that the shot had struck him instead of the poor
sailor.”’ -

‘Just like me,’ said Alwyn Dare, who was drinking in
every word with the deepest interest.

‘And then,’ resumed Hardy, ‘the old captain went on to
say: “Just then the officer in command of the boat bent over
the poor boy as he lay, and instead of kicking him and calling
him a cowardly sneak—as I’m afraid most of you youngsters
would have done in the same case—he clapped him kindly on
the shoulder and whispered, ‘Never mind, my brave lad! I
was just like that myself the first time I smelt powder.
Cheer up!’”?

‘How jolly of him!’ cried the boy eagerly. ‘And what
did the middy do?’

‘That’s just what my father and all his schoolfellows
wanted to know,’ answered Hardy ; ‘and old Fire-eater told
’em that those few words steadied the boy at once, and up he
jumped as if nothing had happened. Luckily nobody else
knew what was wrong with him, for all the rest thought he
had been knocked down by the dead man falling upon him.
So he came out of the affair creditably enough ; and although
he was in dozens of fights after that, his nerves never gave





28 MISSING.

way any more, and he got the name of being rather a cool
hand.’

‘Well done!’ exclaimed the listening boy gleefully.

‘And then,’ continued Hardy, ‘the brave old man paused,
and looked round upon the crowd of schoolboys with a look
which (as I’ve heard my father say) seemed to go right
through them; and then he said, “Would you like to know
who that young middy was, who was saved by one kind
word? It was myself!”’

One glance at his hearer’s glowing face, as the story ended,
told the shrewd author that his sermon had done its work ;
and he added at once:

‘ Always remember that story, Alwyn ; and remember, too,
that if you give up trying to make a man of yourself, and lie
down in despair, you will just make the people who call you
a coward think that they were right. What you have got to
do is to prove them wrong, and shut their mouths by showing
yourself the brave fellow that you really are, and that I’ve
known you to be, all along!’

The sudden glow of manly pride in Alwyn’s dark eyes at
the last words was more than enough to show how thoroughly
true they were.

‘I must be off now to have my swim,’ concluded Hardy ;
“but this afternoon we ’ll go for a walk together, and talk over
this business a little more. Keep your heart up, and God
bless you !’

And with a hearty shake of the boy’s hand he turned away,
and strode down the slope towards the beach.

But the effect of his words did not pass away along with
him; and Alwyn, feeling blither and more hopeful than he
had done for many a day, watched eagerly for the reappear-
ance of the only man who seemed to understand and sym-
pathise with the trouble that was crushing him down,
intending, when he returned, to walk back to the town with
him. But the time went on, and Seymour Hardy never came
back ; till at length the boy, concluding that his friend must



MISSING. 29

have gone home some other way, turned back to the hotel by
himself.

An hour later, the two boatmen who had come to Hardy’s
assistance in the crisis of his perilous swim the evening before,
were returning from the town with one or two matters which
were needed for their day’s fishing, when the younger of the
pair, a slim, good-looking, pleasant-faced young fellow, Hay
Blanch by name, stopped short, and pointed, with a meaning
look, to something that seemed like a heap of clothes which
lay behind a large stone not far from the extremity of the
pebble beach already mentioned.

‘Man, Peter,’ said he to his comrade, very gravely, ‘there’s
somethin’ wrang here. Yon claes (clothes) were there when
we cam’ by before, an ’oor syne; and an ’oor’s lang for ony
man to bide i’ the water, on a cauld morn like this. I’m
thinkin’ some venturesome chiel amang thae Englishers—like
him yestreen, ye ken—will hae gane in an’ ne’er come oot
again |”

Peter Nisbet—a grim old ex-whaler, whose rugged visage
had been aptly compared by some local wit to the figure-head
of a wreck—-said not a word in answer to his partner’s ghastly
suggestion ; but the gloomy shake of his gray head, which was
his only comment, sufficiently showed what were his thoughts
on the matter.

‘We'll gang an’ tak’ a look at them, onyhoo,’ said Hay ;
and in another instant both men were hastening at their best
speed toward the mysterious bundle of clothing.

The clothes themselves were scanty enough—nothing more,
in fact, than a long gray cloak and a pair of light English
shoes. But as Peter Nisbet lifted the cloak from the ground,
his iron face changed slightly when he saw on the inside of
the collar, worked in white thread, the name of ‘S. Harpy.’

No further explanation was needed ; for Seymour Hardy’s
inquiry for letters at the post-office on the previous night had
already made his name public property in the little town,



30 MISSING.

where the general curiosity was so strongly excited with
regard to everything connected with him.

The two brave men exchanged looks of silent dismay, and
then turned their eyes instinctively toward the heaving waters
which, still agitated by the recent storm, surged and foamed
below. From the spot where they stood the whole breadth
of the strait between Mainland and Bressay was plainly visible ;
but nowhere was there any trace to be seen of the missing
swimmer.

‘Puir lad!’ muttered old Peter, whose grim, weather-beaten
face softened into a momentary tinge of compassion as he
spoke. ‘Think o’ that! To save anither man frae droonin’
yestreen, an’ to be drooned himsel’ the day !’

‘Weel, maybe he’s no drooned yet—sic’ a swimmer as he
was,’ cried the younger man hopefully. ‘Peter, man, help
me to get oot the bit boatie, an’ we’ll jist luik for him a wee ;
an’ I’ll send my callant (boy) wi’ the man’s claes up to the
hottle (hotel) to tell the folk what has chanced, an’ bid them
mak’ sairch for him. Come awa’ wi’ ye!’

Hay Blanch’s suggestion was promptly carried out; and,
having seen the nimble little ‘callant’ fairly on his way, the
two stout boatmen hurried off to launch their boat in search
of the lost Hardy.

Mr Cramwell was still waiting impatiently for Hardy’s
appearance ; and by this time Major Dare, too, had missed
his comrade, and was beginning to wonder at his prolonged
absence.

No one, however, had as yet any thought of feeling anxious
about him; nor was any uneasiness aroused on his account
even when Alwyn Dare came in with the announcement that
he had met Mr Hardy going down to have a swim more than
an hour before; for the sea, though still rough, was far
quieter than on the previous day, and nobody who had
witnessed Hardy’s exploits on that occasion was likely to
fear any harm by water to him.

But when Hay Blanch’s boy arrived, bearing the missing



MISSING. 31

man’s clothes, with a breathless and excited crowd at his
heels (for the news of what had happened was already
running abroad like wildfire), to report that ‘feyther an’
auld Peter are awa’ i’ the boat to luik for Maister Hairdy,’
every one began to be alarmed in earnest. Poor little Flo,
losing all memory of her grudge against the ‘horrid editor of
Boys and Girls, cried bitterly. My Cramwell, quite for-
getting his delayed breakfast, hurried down into the street to
question the messenger of evil himself; and Major Dare,
lifting his mighty voice above the ever-growing clamour of
tongues, offered a large reward to any man who should either —
produce Seymour Hardy alive, or find his body.

‘You may as well pay that reward to me, then,’ said a deep
voice from behind; ‘for I’ve found the body myself, and
here it is!’

All who heard, turned round with a start ; and there, right
in the midst of them, stood the lost Seymour Hardy himself,
fresh as a rose, and looking as little like a drowned man as
any one could well do.







CHAPTER IV.

GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

| amazed the good folks ‘of Tene ae very
I easily accounted for.

For the first few moments of his sea-bath the
author had been content to enjoy the mere pleasure of
plunging through the clear, cold, life-giving water, and of
feeling himself borne onward upon the surging waves as if
carried by the rush of a high-mettled horse. But all this
was too much like the customary ‘philandering’ of ordinary
bathers to satisfy such a practised athlete ; and Hardy soon
began to look about for some definite goal for his proposed
swim.

His first idea was to swim across the strait to Bressay ; but,
as he glanced in that direction, the trim hull and tall tapering
masts of the smart little English yacht caught his eye, and
suggested a new plan to him.

‘I know what I’ll do!’ cried he; ‘I'll swim out to that
yacht and ask after that fellow whom I fished up yesterday.
Even in this used-up age it will be something new to pay a
morning call by swimming !’

And away he went accordingly, cleaving the water with
that long steady stroke which had brought him in first in
many a hard-fought swimming match, and had saved his life





GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 33

more than once in the Pacific and on the west coast of
Africa.

He was already within fifty yards of the yacht, and just
about to hail her, when another swimmer came suddenly
round her bows, heading straight toward him; and, as the
latter approached, Seymour Hardy’s keen eye recognised at a
glance the man whom he had saved on the previous day.

‘Hallo!’ cried he, ‘you mean to show the sea that you
bear it no malice, that’s evident. I was just coming to ask
after you; but now my inquiries seem to be answered in
advance !’

‘Well, at all events, I’m very glad to have a chance of
thanking you for saving my life,’ rejoined the other, as the
two swimmers, ‘treading water’ meanwhile to keep them-
selves afloat, exchanged a cordial shake of the hand. ‘What
a tip-top swimmer you must be! I used to think I knew
something about it, but I could no more do what you did ©
yesterday than I could fly ; or, perhaps I should say (and you
can bear witness that it’s true), I couldn’t do it to save my
life. Anyhow, it’s lucky for me that you weren’t as par-
ticular as the fellow in the old story: “Good gracious! I
could have saved that drowning man if I had only been
introduced to him!”’

‘Well,’ laughed the editor, paddling gently round and
round his new friend as they talked, ‘as there seems to be
no one within reach to present us to each other, we had
better introduce ourselves. My name is Seymour Hardy.’

‘Seymour Hardy!’ echoed the young yachtsman, with a
gleeful laugh ; ‘well, this is a joke, and no mistake. Who
would ever have thought of meeting you here? Why, I’m
just reading one of your books now—From the Equator to the
Pole, you know—and a capital story it is. Well, I’m Sir
Frederick Goldhall, of Cashdowne Park.’

Even the unemotional Hardy did not hear without surprise
the sudden mention of a name which was just then in the

mouth of every man in England, as that of a young baronet
c



34 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

who, at his coming of age a few months before, had become
absolute master of a fortune of two millions sterling, without
any very clear idea (as he himself owned) ‘what on earth to
do with it.’

‘Well, this is certainly a new kind of way of beginning an
acquaintance,’ said Hardy at length. ‘It seems fated that we
should always meet in the water,’

‘A sign, I suppose,’ rejoined Sir Frederick, striking out in
a ‘take-it-easy’ fashion towards the yacht, ‘that our acquaint-
ance is getting on swimmingly.’

‘That we’re drifting into companionship, you mean,’ re-
torted Hardy, who, like a true editor, was never ata loss for
an answer.

‘Or carried away by the tide of events—keep it up!’

‘Or yielding to a current of feeling. Next!’

‘Or over head and ears in debt to each other, and anxious
to liquidate our obligations.’

‘Or brought together by divers reasons,’ wound up Hardy ;
and, suiting the action to the word, he vanished like a stone
into the depths below.

‘Hallo!’ cried Goldhall, rather startled by this sensational
disappearance. ‘ What’s up?’

‘What’s down, you mean,’ answered a voice behind him,
as Hardy rose from his dive, ‘for I’ve been down and up too.
That’s a trick that I learned from the South Sea Islanders ;
and some of them, I’m sorry to say, have murdered plenty of
men that way, by stabbing them in the back unawares.’

‘Rather a knowing dodge, and no mistake,’ said the young
baronet approvingly. ‘Well, look here, Mr Hardy, will you
come on board and have some breakfast? I’m just going to
have mine, and I should think you must be ready for yours,
unless you’ve had it already.’

‘No, I haven’t ; and I should be most happy to join you,
only my present costume is hardly adapted, I fear, to figure in
English society.’

‘Oh, never mind about that; I’ll lend you some clothes ;



GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 35

and as for society, you won’t have any society but mine. I’ve
got no ladies on board ; in fact, I’ve got nobody at all except
myself.’

And, accordingly, the adventurous editor found himself a
few moments later aboard the yacht, ‘rigged-out’ in a suit of
his host’s clothes (in which he cut a rather queer figure; there
being a difference of fully three inches in their height), and
seated over an excellent breakfast, which, by Sir Frederick’s
orders, had been set out on deck.

‘I’d better send a boat to pick up your clothes, by the bye,’
said the latter to his guest, as they sat down. ‘ Where did
you leave them?’

‘They ’re somewhere on the pebble beach yonder,’ replied
Hardy carelessly ; ‘but you needn’t bother about ’em. These
honest Shetlanders would never think of stealing them, if
they were to lie there for a week. If you are going ashore
after breakfast, we might pick them up as we pass.’

Then, for several minutes, the mouths of both speakers
were too fully occupied to have any leisure for talking.

‘It seems to me, Sir Frederick’ Hardy was begin-
ning at length, when his host, with a slight show of im-
patience, cut him short.

‘Never mind that unlucky title of mine,’ cried he; ‘I’m
not going to be “Sir Frederick” to a man who has saved
my life, you know. Just call me Goldhall, and have done
with it.’

‘With pleasure,’ replied the guest, ‘on condition that you
call me Hardy.’

‘Done,’ said the young man, with an air of marked relief. °
‘But you were just going to say something, when I inter-
rupted you.’

‘I was only going to say that you seem to have chosen
rather a curious name for your yacht.’

‘What’s curious about it? I call her the Refuge, because
she is a refuge for me, and pretty nearly the only one I’ve
got. Why do you think I ran away from England, and came





36 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

up here, where nobody knows who Tam? Why, just because
I had too much money !’

‘That’s an affliction which many people whom I know
would bear very bravely,’ said the author dryly. ‘You
remember what Sam Weller said to the man who told him
that he had been “ruined by having money left him :”—“T
only wish some rich enemy ’ud try to work my destruction
that ’ere way ; I’d let him!”’

‘Well, I daresay you don’t believe it; but it’s true for all
that.’

‘On the contrary, I can believe it very easily,’ said Hardy,
as quietly as ever, ‘for yours is not the first case of that sort
that I’ve-met with. Apart from that Lord Aberdeen who
shipped as a common sailor before the mast, I knew a young
fellow in Australia some years ago, who had given up a big
estate in England to go out there and live on his own
hook, saying that he couldn’t stand that sort of thing any
longer.’

‘And well he might!’ cried Sir Frederick vehemently ; ‘I
only wonder that anybody can stand it at all. Every one
thinks, of course, that because I’ve got a million in each
pocket, I’m the luckiest fellow alive; and, as very often
happens, every one’s wrong. I don’t see, myself, where on
earth the luck comes in. First and foremost, I’ve come into
my title and my fortune by the death of my father, and I’d
give ’em both up, gladly, to have the dear old man alive
again; and then, since I came into that blessed money, I
haven’t had a minute’s peace, day or night !’

‘I can quite believe that,’ said his hearer, with a dry
smile.

‘I daresay,’ went on the young millionaire, ‘you’ve been
in Italy, and seen an Englishman mobbed by Italian beggars.
Well, there you have me ever since I came of age; and I
can tell you, if you don’t know it already, that the beggars
of good society are every bit as pertinacious, and very often
quite as impudent, as the beggars of the streets. What do



GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 37

you think of people calling themselves ladies—many of whom
I had never seen or even heard of before—regularly forcing
their way into my house by dozens when poor old dad was
only a few weeks buried, with subscription lists, or plans for
endowing the workhouses with stained-glass windows, or
promoting the study of high art among the poor, and all sorts
of rubbish like that! And they demanded money just like
so many highwaymen, till I was fairly driven to give them
something just to get rid of them, as I’d have done with an
organ-grinder or any other nuisance !’

‘Yes,’ said Hardy ; ‘those people go ahead of Robin Hood
himself; they “rob the rich,” but they don’t “feed the
poor !”? 5

‘And that’s not all, either; there are the begging-letters
as well,’ resumed the unfortunate millionaire, who, now that
he had met with a man who seemed really to sympathise
with him, appeared inclined to pour forth all his woes at
once. ‘’Pon my word, people seem to think that, just
because a fellow has a lot of money, he’s bound to chuck
it away to everybody that asks him, whether they really
need it or not. They never think of asking how much it
takes to keep up my estates and to look after my tenantry,
some of whom, poor fellows, stand very much in need of
it.’

‘Well, you see, such folks just reverse the saying of Sir
Philip Sidney ; they make it, “My necessity is greater than
thine.”’

‘Well,’ cried Sir Frederick, ‘of course one wouldn’t grudge
the money a bit, if it were really going to do any good; but
when you give to people in that way, you’re generally giving
either to fools who think they were born to set the whole
world right at one go, or to rogues who consider that their
duty to their neighbour is to bleed him of as much money
as they can squeeze out of him. The last week before I
came away, I got 478 begging-letters—I counted ’em myself ;
and my secretary, who’s a sharp fellow, and has been at that



38 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

sort of thing all his life, told me there weren’t a dozen
cases of really genuine distress among the lot! What do
you think of that?’

‘T don’t think of it,’ replied Seymour Hardy significantly.

‘Well, I wish, with all my heart, that I could follow your
example in that way; but one doesn’t so easily forget things
like that, when one has once had a taste of ’em. Poor people
seem to fancy that if a man’s only rich, he can do what-
ever he likes—oh, can he, though! All the time I was in
England after my coming of age, I never could do as I liked
for two minutes together, I know that! I must do this, and
I musn’t do that; and this was “obligatory upon a man of
my position,” and that was “a dangerous example to be set
by an English landed proprietor ;” and so on, and so on, till
at last I couldn’t even sneeze without feeling as if the eyes
of the universe were upon me, watching to see if I sneezed
as an English landed proprietor should do. As sure as I sit
here, if I’d had just one more week of that sort of thing,
there would have been a howling lunatic somewhere on my
estate, and his name would have been Fred Goldhall !’

‘Yes, yours is certainly a hard case,’ said his companion
gravely. ‘I’ve never had the misfortune to be rich myself,
happily ; but, by what I’ve seen and heard, I can easily
understand that it must be an awful bore.’

‘You may well say that,’ growled the millionaire ; ‘but
Ill tell you what sickened me more than all the rest; to
have these old county fellows calling out to me, as jovially as
could be, “Drop in to dinner whenever you like, my dear
boy ! always glad to see you!” And those grand ladies, who
would turn up their noses at a poor man as if he were the
dirt under their feet, coming up to me with quite a motherly
air, and saying sweetly that “they really must try and do
something to comfort me for the loss of my poor dear father ”
—and to know all the while, as I do, that if I were to lose
my money to-morrow, these kind friends of mine would all
turn their backs upon me as if I had the plague! And then,





GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 39

too, those girls of theirs, who come smiling to me with their
birthday books, and “ We really must have your autograph,
Sir Frederick ; you’re quite a public character, you know,
and your name’s in all the papers.” If my name were in
all the papers as a bankrupt, how much would they care for
my autograph then, I wonder? I tell you, Hardy, if a man
wants to see the worst and meanest side of human nature,
and to see it thoroughly,.all he has to do is to be rich !’

The last words were spoken with such bitterness, that
even Hardy ventured no reply for a few moments; and when
he did speak again, it was with more feeling than he had
yet shown.

‘I’m afraid there ’s only too much truth in what you say,
my dear fellow ; but, for all that, there are plenty of honest
people, God be thanked, among the rich as well as among
the poor; and you may take my word for it, that when once
you’ve got rid of these mean creatures that you’re describing
—with whom every young fellow with money of his own has
to deal just at first—you’ll find that there’s much more real
goodness in the world than you seem to think.’

‘Well, we'll hope so,’ replied the young man more cheerily.
‘ Anyhow, I shall have to go home again sooner or later, to look
after my poor tenantry ; for, come what may, I won’t neglect
them—I ought to be kicked all round the estate if I did!
But, in the meantime, I’m taking a regular holiday, and
I’m as jolly as a sand-boy. There’s_no one to bother me
about anything. I’ve got the brave old sea open before me,
and this little beauty to carry me over it wherever I like;
and nobody here knows whether I’m rich or poor, except
my own crew, and they are all tenants of mine, who would
sooner put their hands in the fire than do anything that could
hurt me. In fact, in all Shetland, outside this yacht, there’s
not a soul that has the least idea who I really am, except
yourself,’

‘The secret is quite safe with me,’ answered Seymour
Hardy quietly.



40 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

‘You need not tell me that~I know I can trust you,’
rejoined the young baronet heartily. ‘And now I’ve bored
you quite long enough with my grumbling, and I want to
talk to you about something else. It will never do, you
know, for us to lose sight of each other again after such a
romantic introduction ; so, if you haven’t any particular plans
of your own at present, suppose you just stick yourself in one
of these spare berths, and come for a cruise with me. The
obligation will be on my side, I assure you, for it isn’t every
day that one gets a real live author all to one’s self. Come,
what do you say ?’

‘You’re very kind,’ said Hardy, ‘and I should like
nothing better than to accept, if I could do it; but, un-
luckily, my duties as an editor are even more “obligatory”
than yours as a landlord, and I must be back at my office
in London the week after next.’

‘You don’t mean to say you’re an editor!’ cried Sir
Frederick, looking at him with an air of amazement. ‘Why,
what few editors I’ve ever seen were all sallow, stooping,
bald-headed old fogies in spectacles, who looked as if they ’d
been shut up in a damp cellar ever since they were born.
You an editor! I’d as soon have taken you for a pirate !’

‘Well,’ rejoined Hardy, as coolly as ever, ‘in a literary
sense, at least, you would do many an editor of my acquaint-
ance no injustice by the supposition.’

‘But what are you editor of, then—a daily paper?’

‘No, not quite so bad as that, luckily,’ laughed the other ;
‘I’m in command of nothing worse than a juvenile monthly,
called Boys and Girls.’

‘Boys and Girls /’ echoed Goldhall ; ‘why, that’s the very
thing that my crew are so much taken up with just now!
They ’ve got three or four numbers of it among them for’ard
there, and they ’re all very much interested in a yarn called
‘At Close Quarters with a Monster,’ which they think first-
rate.’

‘I’m greatly indebted to them,’ said the editor gravely,



GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 41

‘for that yarn happens to be mine.—Hollo! what’s all that
row on shore ?”

He might well ask. A confused noise of shouting came
faintly to their ears from the town, and several persons were
seen hurrying up the hillside from the beach, while a large
and ever-growing crowd was gathering, with gestures of
violent excitement, around the door of the hotel, which was
plainly visible from the yacht’s deck.

A few moments later, a small boat was seen to put off
from the farther end of the pebble beach, and to keep hover-
ing to and fro at a little distance from the shore, as if in
search of something which she could not find.

‘I know what it’s all about!’ cried the young yachtsman
suddenly. ‘They must have found the clothes that you
left lying on the beach yonder, and of course they think
you ’re drowned ; and that boat there is going out to look for
your body !’

‘T fancy you’re right,’ said Hardy ; ‘and it’s not the first
search for my body that I’ve assisted at. But, in that case,
I must ask you to be so kind as to put me ashore at once ;
for my two travelling-companions are sure to have heard the
news, and I don’t want them to be troubled about me when
there ’s no reason for it.’

‘T'll give you a boat directly,’ rejoined Sir Frederick, ‘and
my fellows will run you across to the town in no time; and
I’d be very glad to go with you, only I can’t leave the
yacht just now. And look here—if you’ve nothing better
to do to-morrow, you might just come and lunch with me
on board, and we’ll see if we can’t arrange an excursion or
two to some of the “sights” of the place.’

Seymour Hardy readily accepted the invitation, and, with
a hearty hand-shake, the two men parted.

By this time the shore-boat—manned, as may he easily
guessed, by Peter Nisbet and his partner, Hay Blanch—had
come so near the yacht in her search for Hardy’s body, that the
owner of the body in question was able to hail the two boat-





42 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

men as he passed. Both men brightened visibly on seeing
their lost hero alive and well after all; and they brightened
still more when Hardy told them that he would most likely
have a job for them in a day or two—an idea suggested to
him by Goldhall’s proposed excursion to visit some of the
local wonders.

But the adventurous editor contented himself with the few
words which he and the two Shetlanders were able to
exchange in passing, and made no offer to halt; for, in truth,
he had another and more pressing reason for being in haste
to get ashore, apart from his wish to relieve the anxiety of
his friends as quickly as possible.

His recent talk with Alwyn Dare had heightened tenfold
the pity which he felt for this unhappy boy, whose weak
nerves, already unstrung by the ill-judged indulgence of his
mother, were now being still farther shaken by the equally
ill-judged harshness of his father. Hardy’s keen eye saw
plainly that the stern soldier, himself strong and brave as
a lion, and loving danger for its own sake, was by his very
nature utterly unable to understand or to sympathise with
any one who, like Alwyn, was naturally delicate and consti-
tutionally inclined to be timid; and it was only too evident
to this practised observer that the father’s mistaken treat-
ment, if persevered in, must certainly end in driving the son
melancholy-mad.

On this point, therefore, he determined to speak seriously
to Major Dare on the very first opportunity ; and, with that
object, he made all possible haste back to the hotel, where,
as we have already seen, he arrived just in time to give a
very unexpected answer to the major’s offer of a reward for
_the finding of his body.







CHAPTER V.
A ROMAN FATHER.

SHE moment his lost comrade appeared, Major
Dare sprang forward, and seized him warmly
by the hand.

‘Bravo, Hardy!’ cried he; ‘never say die!
I’m very glad to see you alive and well, for,
upon my word, I was beginning to fear that your charmed
life had failed you at last. You were evidently not born to
be drowned—eh, old fellow 2’

But Seymour Hardy did not join in the laugh with which
the worthy major applauded his own joke. On the contrary,
he looked at his friend so gravely that even the tough old
soldier was impressed by it in spite of himself; and then,
after a moment’s silence, he said to him in a low voice:
‘Let us go up to your room, Dare; I want to speak to
you.’

Up they went accordingly ; and Hardy, having closed the
door, turned to the wondering major, and said, with the
same ominous gravity :

‘Dare, we haven’t known each other very long, but we’ve
been in one or two awkward scrapes together, and that’s
always a kind of bond; so I’m going to take the liberty of
giving you some advice, though you’ll perhaps say that I
have no right to interfere between you and your own
son.’



|







44 A ROMAN FATHER.

‘If you’re going to speak about my son,’ broke in the
major, with a sudden darkening of his bold brown face, ‘you
may spare yourself the trouble, for I don’t want to hear a
word about him. He’s a downright milksop (thanks to his
mother’s foolish coddling), and a milksop he’ll be to the end
of the chapter.’

‘He’s nothing of the sort,’ rejoined Hardy, with equal
emphasis ; ‘but he’s in a fair way to become one, and if he
does, you may rest assured that it’s nobody’s fault but your
own!’

Dare looked at this plain speaker in blank amazement, as
well he might; for seldom, indeed, had any one ventured
to speak so bluntly to the formidable major, who was
popularly reported to have flung a man through a window
into the Thames, for one insolent word.

‘What do you mean?’ he asked, slowly rising to his feet,
and standing right before, or rather over, the slight form of
his reprover.

‘J mean just what I say,’ replied the latter firmly. ‘It’s
a fine way, isn’t it, of teaching a delicate lad courage and
self-reliance, to snub him whenever he tries to do anything,
and cry shame upon him for a milksop and a coward, if it
happens to be beyond his strength! I’m not much of a
gardener, but I never heard that the best plan to strengthen
a flower that droops and needs support is to trample on it ;
and when the same system is pursued by a strong man
toward a sickly boy, it does not strike me as being very
manly, anyhow !’

The major pressed his lips hard together, as if to repress
the burst of rage that was already quivering upon them ;
and then he said, with a forced calmness more ominous than
the loudest anger :

‘Look here, Hardy, you and I have been good friends
hitherto, and I should be sorry if we were to quarrel now ;
but if you say another word in that style, we shall !’

‘I shall not hold my tongue any the more for that, Dare,



A ROMAN FATHER, 45

as you might have known by this time,’ answered the other,
in a tone of stern calmness that contrasted very strikingly
with the rising fury of his companion. ‘I have held it long
enough on this subject—too long, perhaps—and now I must
speak. You are well able to throw me out of the window,
I know, and you may do it if you like; but hear me you
must and shall. I’m not going to let you ruin a fine lad
just because you don’t understand him, and bring destruction
upon him and life-long sorrow upon yourself, without giving
you fair warning !’

The major eyed him with a look which would have made
the nerves of any ordinary man tingle, shot forth as it was
from the eyes of a brawny giant over six fect high, with
whom he was quite alone; but Seymour Hardy met it
without flinching.

‘If the lad really were a coward,’ he went on, ‘there might
be some excuse for you; but now that I know he has the
right sort of spirit in him, and is longing for a chance to
show it, it is really high time to interfere, both for his sake
and for your own. It’s easy enough to call any one a
coward ; but saying so don’t make it true. What would
you say, for instance, if I were to tell you that I heard
somebody call you a coward, no longer ago than yester-
day 2’

The grim soldier’s dark face glowed suddenly like heated
iron, and the strong brown hand that rested upon the table
clenched itself till the joints crackled.

‘Who was it?’ asked he, in a voice that sounded as if
some one were choking him.

‘No one upon whom you can vent your valour, my dear
major,’ replied Hardy, as coolly as ever; ‘it was a little girl
of eleven, who does not appear to dread your vengeance
much, for I see her standing right under your window at this
very moment. If you like, I can tell you the very words
she said. We were talking of that swim of mine yesterday,
and she was graciously pleased to observe, “It was too bad



46 ; A ROMAN FATHER.

of that great strong man beside you to do nothing but stamp
and make faces, and never help you a bit! He must surely
be a great coward !”’

Major Dare bit his lips till they bled.

‘And that,’ he growled, ‘is what they call me just because
I can’t swim !’

‘And that,’ retorted Seymour Hardy, ‘is what you call
your own son just because he can’t play cricket or jump
five-barred gates !’

The major started as if struck by a shot, this view of the
case having evidently never occurred to him before; and
Hardy, seeing that he had touched the right chord at last,
hastened to add:

‘It’s no pleasure to me, heaven knows, to speak to you
like this ; but there’s nothing that I would not do to save
you from- what you’re bringing upon yourself. It would be
no comfort to you to have to remember to the end of your
life that you had driven that poor boy into a lunatic asylum ;
and, as sure as I stand here, he’ll be fit for one in another
month, if you don’t change your treatment of him.’

‘You don’t mean that?’ cried Dare, with a startled look ;
for, like many other stern and rigid parents, he really loved
his son, though he unhappily took an utterly wrong and
mistaken way of showing it.

‘Indeed I do,’ said his comrade very gravely. ‘When I
met the poor lad this morning, he was in such a fever of
excitement and distress, that if he had gone stark mad
before my very eyes, I could hardly have wondered at it;
and the cause of that distress is best given in his own words:
“My own father, the bravest man in the English army, says
I’m a milksop and a coward, and tells me that he’s ashamed
of me!”’

For an instant the major stood speechless; and then he
muttered hoarsely :

‘Tf this is so, God forgive me!’

Even the composed Hardy found no reply save a fervent



A ROMAN FATHER. 47

pressure of his comrade’s hand, which returned the grasp
with an energy that said more than any words.

‘You’ve hit me hard, my boy,’ said Dare at length, in a
voice which he vainly tried to steady; ‘but I know you
meant it kindly.’

‘I did indeed, old fellow,’ said the other heartily ; ‘and
if I’ve given you pain, it was only to save you from far
greater misery. The simple fact is, that, up to this time,
you and your son have not exactly understood one another ;
but I hope that, after this, you will both understand each
other better.’

‘And what would you advise me to do, then?’ said Dare,
in a submissive and almost humble tone, which was strangely
at variance with the air of defiant and almost bullying con-
fidence with which he had opened the conversation.

‘Well, that’s easily said,’ replied his friend, ‘for all that
you have to do is just to hearten the boy up as much as
possible, in place of damping him. Encourage him to try
every kind of exercise that will steady his nerves and
strengthen his muscles ; and if he doesn’t get on very well
the first time, then, instead of scolding him or laughing at
him, just give him a pat on the shoulder, and say, “Well
tried! better luck next time!” Make a companion of him,
too, and take an interest in all that he does; there’s nothing
pleases a boy so much as that. He won’t need much
spurring, for I know he’s just burning to distinguish himself ;
and, when once he sees that you believe in him, you may
take my word for it that you'll soon see a change in him
which will astonish you. Come, youll give the lad a fair
chance, won’t you?’

‘I will, so help me God!’ said the father solemnly ; and
the two men sealed their compact with a hearty hand-

grasp.









CHAPTER VI.
CUT OFF.

EYMOUR HARDY did not forget his promise
to take Alwyn Dare for a walk that afternoon ;
and, not long after dinner, off they started,
heading toward that long straggling headland
that forms the southern extremity of the
peninsula on which Lerwick stands, known to Shetlanders
as ‘the Neck o’ the Nab.’

It was a gloomy and depressing day. A heavy shower
had fallen about noon, and the sky was still hidden by gray
sullen clouds, casting over the whole landscape a cheerless
dimness, beneath which the wide, bare, treeless uplands of
this strange region, which lies almost beyond the border-
line of vegetation, looked barer and drearier than ever.
Far as the eye could reach, not a tree, not a shrub, relieved
the gaunt desolation of these wild moors,* the grim monotony
of which was broken only by a stray glistening here and
there of the treacherous marsh-water, where death lay
lurking to engulf the unwary passer-by.

‘Doesn’t it look terrible?’ said the boy, instinctively
lowering his voice to a whisper; ‘just as if the world and
everything upon it were dead, and only we ourselves left



* This characteristic of the northern islands has given rise to a joke
which is current both in Orkney and Shetland, that ‘it is a hanging
matter to cut down a tree there.’



CUT OFF. 49

living on. Just fancy how a man would feel if he. were
lost in such a place, all by himself !’

‘Such experiences are not agreeable, certainly,’ replied
Hardy, with a quiet smile; ‘as I myself know to my cost.’

‘Have you really been lost like that yourself, then?’
asked the boy eagerly.

‘Indeed I have, many a time, both in the desert and the
jungle ; and, upon my word, I hardly know which of the
two is the worst. Nature is very merciless in her untamed
form ; and when you’re lost like that, you feel as if every-
thing around you, even the very earth under your feet, were
somehow against you.’

‘But you did get yourself out of the scrape all right ?’

‘No; unluckily that’s just what I didn’t,’ said the traveller,
laughing. ‘It’s only in penny serials, I’m afraid, that the
hero “successfully extricates himself from all perils by his
own unaided skill and courage ;” and I strongly suspect that
if my skill and courage had been unaided, I should never
have been extricated at all. In fact, unheroic as it may
sound, I was generally very glad to accept of the first aid
that offered, which was usually that of a savage, who,
although he couldn’t write books or quote Homer, could
beat me out of sight at anything that required special
sharpness.’

While they were thus conversing, the day had begun to
brighten, and a faint gleam of sunshine was just shimmering
through the breaking clouds as our two pedestrians reached
the spot where the long curving ridge of the promontory,
after sloping gradually upward for nearly a quarter of a mile,
attained its highest point, and ended abruptly in a sheer
precipice of more than a hundred feet, around the base of
which, even in the calmest weather, the restless surf foamed
and roared unceasingly.

Hardy, without giving time for the sight of the precipice

‘to tell upon his companion’s unsteady nerves, hastened to
call his attention to the various sea-birds which were circling
D



50 CUT OFF.

and screaming around it. This was just the spectacle to
interest Alwyn, who had already learned a good deal about
them; and he soon became so completely absorbed in pointing
out the species that he knew, and observing the peculiarities
of those which he did not, that ere long he was walking
close to the edge of the cliff, without a thought of the
tormidable depth below.

‘You have a steady head, I see, and a steady foot too,’
said Hardy approvingly. ‘When I was your age, I’d have
given a good deal to have either. I can remember quite
well the time when I couldn’t even stand on the top of a
wall and look down, without getting giddy, and feeling as
if I were going to fall; and the first time I walked the
whole length of our garden-wall without feeling queer I was
as pleased as if somebody had given me five pounds.’

‘You don’t say so!’ cried Alwyn, hardly knowing which
to wonder at most—the existence of such a weakness in his
chosen hero, or the frankness with which the latter con-
fessed it.

‘Indeed, I do; and sorely it used to trouble me sometimes,
when I thought that I should never get over it, and never
be able to climb like other boys.’

‘And yet,’ said Alwyn, more and more astonished, ‘I
suppose you wouldn’t care a straw now for any precipice in
the world ?’

‘Well, I’ve managed some pretty awkward ones in my
time,’ replied the author quietly; ‘but then, you know,
I’ve had plenty of practice since I was a boy, and that sort
of thing’s a mere question of practice, after all.’

This was quite a new idea to Alwyn Dare, who had always
thought, as many other boys have thought before and since,
that a hero’s courage is born with him, quite forgetting how
many of the world’s bravest men have been remarkably timid
in their boyhood.

‘Do you really think, then,’ asked he, somewhat hesitat-
ingly, but with unmistakable earnestness, ‘that— suppose






Mi Siti {/, Yih ;



























At last they both reached the fvot of the cliff safe and sound.



CUT OFF. 51

I were to keep on trying very hard indeed, you know—I might
some day or other get to be—as good at things as you are?’

‘I don’t think so—I’m sure of it,’ answered the traveller
heartily ; ‘you just want a little practice, that’s all—the
spirit’s in you already. Why, your very name is a good
omen in that way ; for what’s “ Alwyn Dare” but just “ All
Win Who Dare!”’

So strange a thing is human nature, that this fanciful
interpretation of his name conveyed to this imaginative and
impressible boy more comfort and encouragement than the
most elaborate reasoning could have given. Hardy saw by
his companion’s brightening face that the desired impression
had been made upon him, and hastened to add:

‘Now, I'll just tell you what we’ll do; we'll get down
to that bit of beach yonder, and have a scramble among the
rocks ; and here’s a first-rate place to get down by.’

Mr Hardy’s ‘first-rate place’ would hardly have been
considered such by any ordinary climber. It was merely
a chimney-like chasm in the face of the cliff, as narrow and
almost as perpendicular as the funnel of a steamer; and
Alwyn Dare, if left to himself, would as soon have thought
of flinging himself down the precipice head-foremost as of
attempting to descend it in such a way. But seeing how
light Hardy made of the whole matter, and having the
depth partly hidden from him by his friend’s broad shoulders
just in front, the boy took it for granted that all must be
right, and, exerting to the utmost the steadiness of foot
and head which he really possessed, got on very well.
Hardy, too, while leaving him to himself as much as possible,
was always ready to tell him where to plant his feet, or
give him a hand in case of need; and at last they both
reached the foot of the cliff safe and sound.

‘Well done our side!’ cried the editor of Boys and Girls,
as gleefully as if he were still a boy himself. ‘That’s what
I call a very tidy bit of work. Look up, now, and see
where you’ve come from !’



52 CUT OFF.

Alwyn Dare did so, and stood: fixed in amazement.

‘Well,’ said he at length, ‘if anybody had told me, ten
minutes ago, that I could ever have got down a place like
that, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it.’

‘I daresay not,’ said Hardy; ‘but you see now that, as
I said, it’s a mere question of practice, and you’ll soon learn
to do things of that sort without thinking of them at all.
I say, won’t your father be astonished when I bring him
here to-morrow, and tell him what you ’ve done.’

‘Will you tell him, then?’ asked the boy eagerly. ‘I
can’t, you know, because it would seem like a brag.’

‘Quite right,’ said his friend approvingly; ‘but there’s
nothing to prevent my telling him, and tell him I most
certainly shall. And now, let’s make the best of our time,
for the tide’s well out, and we’ve got a clear beach, and a
clear sky too.’

In fact, the storm-clouds had completely rolled away by
this time, and the sun was shining brightly in a clear blue
sky, casting a sheen of gold upon the wet rocks, and tipping
every breaking wave with living fire.

To work they went accordingly, clambering over masses
of fallen rock, splashing through clear, still pools, hunting
crabs among the loose stones, pelting each other with
handfuls of wet seaweed, scrambling about the caves which
the ceaseless sawing of the breakers had hollowed in the
base of the cliff, and making every cleft and cranny of
the grim precipice overhead echo with their shouts and
laughter.

Never before, in all his life, had the depressed and
dispirited boy been so thoroughly happy. ‘The conscious-
ness of having at last achieved a feat which even those
who called him ‘milksop’ would not have considered beneath
them; the presence of.a man who, though as famous as
Alwyn’s own father for cool hardihood in peril, praised and
encouraged him instead of snubbing and sneering at him ;
the latter’s frank admission that even he had once been as



CUT OFF. 53

deficient in strength and nerve, and as hopeless of acquiring
either, as Alwyn himself was now; above all, Hardy’s
emphatically expressed conviction that it lay in the boy’s
own power to prove himself a hero instead of a coward,
all combined to raise the poor lad’s crushed spirit higher
than it had ever risen before; and even his own father
would hardly have recognised his downcast, silent, spirit-
less ‘milksop’ in the flushed, laughing, buoyant figure that
leaped so lightly from rock to rock with a cheery shout.

‘The medicine’s working well, and no mistake,’ said
Hardy to himself, with a smile of quiet satisfaction ; ‘I
think my friend Dare will have to own that my prescription
suits the case better than his——Now, Alwyn, my boy,’ he
added aloud, ‘I’ll tell you what we can do yet. We can
climb that big fellow yonder, and watch the sunset from
the top ; it’ll be a good one to-night, I’ll be bound !’

The ‘big fellow’ in question was a huge black spike of
cragey rock, nearly sixty feet in height, rent away by some
mighty convulsion, ages ago, from the seaward face of the
main cliff, in front of which it now stood gauntly up, like
a giant sentinel. Its base was always covered by the sea
even at low-tide ; but, nevertheless, it could be easily reached
by any man active enough to spring from one to another
of the wave-worn boulders around it.

This climb was in reality even more formidable than the
last; but Alwyn Dare, flushed with his recent exploit,
and all aglow from the hard exercise of the last two hours,
felt for the moment as if he could do anything.

Once or twice, indeed, as he got higher and higher up
the bare, slippery rock, the boy’s untried nerves seemed about
to fail him; but, by following Hardy closely step by step,
and carefully abstaining from looking down, he at length
reached the highest point in safety, and was rewarded with
a view which would have well repaid a far more toilsome
ascent.

Far as the eye could reach, the glassy sea lay outstretched



54 CUT OFF

beneath them, perfectly and almost ominously still. Not a
wreath of storm-cloud dimmed the lustrous sky, which had
now all that wonderful softness of tint peculiar to the
northern heavens. Slowly, calmly, grandly, the great sun
sank toward the dark hills behind which he was soon to
disappear, and his dying splendour gave an added glory to
every feature of the marvellous panorama—the green slopes
and purple hill-tops, the long procession of black frowning
precipices mirrored in the blue transparent sea, and, over
all, the first stars of evening coming softly into the sky above
the red glow of sunset, like the dawn of Christianity
stealing upon the bloodshed of northern barbarism.

Long did the two climbers sit gazing in silence at that
glorious scene from their lonely watch-tower, till at length
Hardy felt, or thought he felt (for the air had till now been
perfectly still) a faint breath of wind upon his cheek.

He started slightly, for to him that seeming trifle told an
ominous story, and turned his face toward the open sea,
whence the breeze appeared to come. As he did so, he
caught sight of a faint dimness far away upon the southern
horizon, just on the line between sea and sky—a dimness
so slight and distant that a less keen eye than his would
hardly have noticed it at all, but to the weather-skilled
traveller a sure token of coming storm !

Hardy glanced around him. The hitherto calm water
was already beginning to heave uneasily, and long smooth
swells were sweeping in from the open sea, growing saree
and higher every moment.

‘Well, Alwyn,’ cried he so lightly and merrily as to betray
not the slightest sign of his inward forebodings, ‘I suppose
we may as well be stirring, for we shall be apt to catch
cold if we sit here too long. Besides, I don’t know how
you feel, but I want my tea!’

‘So do I,’ cried the boy. ‘Come along!’

And down the rock they scrambled, Hardy leading as
before.



CUT OFF. 55

The breeze freshened with surprising rapidity, and was
already blowing quite strongly, while the sea-birds, warned
by their unerring instinct of the approaching storm, came
winging their way homeward in clouds through the darken-
ing air, with hoarse, ominous shrieks.

During the whole descent—which was a long and trying
one, for they had to zig-zag quite round the rock, from its
seaward to its landward face—Seymour Hardy never uttered
a word, and kept looking steadily before him, as if watching
for the appearance of something which he at once feared
and expected.

And at last it came. When they at length reached a point
from which the foot of the landward side of the rock and
the way by which they had reached it became visible, the
boulders which had served them as stepping-stones were
no longer to be seen. One and all had been already covered
by the sea; and between the shore and the two doomed
climbers raged a roaring whirl of white-lipped breakers,
leaping, foaming, and dashing themselves upon the sunken
rocks with a fury through which no man living could have
fought his way unharmed. Their retreat was cut off!















































































































































































































CHAPTER VIL

FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.



ta|REPARED as Seymour Hardy was for this

{| fearful revelation, it was a terrible shock to
him—not, certainly, through any fear for
himself, but through his only too well-founded
anxiety regarding his young and untried com-
panion, who, but for him, would never have been involved
in this peril at all.

Had he been alone, the veteran traveller would have
laughed at the whole thing as a capital joke ; and if he found
no way of escaping from the rock, which a man so fertile
in resources could hardly fail to do, he would have thought
little of remaining upon it till the tide went down again,
and defying vain and spray to do their worst upon his
hardy frame. But to this delicate and tenderly-nurtured boy
a whole night of such exposure would be little less than
certain death ; and even should he survive it, he would be
in equal danger from the violence of the coming gale, which,
bursting full upon him on the bare side of that unsheltered
rock, would inevitably hurl him headlong from his dizzy
perch into the roaring sea below.

Hardy saw instantly that there was only one thing to
be done, and he did it.

“Well, we’re nicely caught, aren’t we?’ said he to Alwyn,
with an admirably-feigned laugh—for he knew well that



FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST. 57

all was lost if he once allowed the nervous, excitable lad
to take in the full horror of the danger that threatened
them both. ‘It just serves me right for not keeping a better
look-out ; I ought to have known that the tide must be on
the turn. Well, I'll tell you what we’ll have to do now;
you must just stay still where you are, and keep snug in
this corner, where the wind can’t get at you, while I get
across to the main cliff, and fetch up men and ropes from
the town to draw you up.’

‘But how are you going to get across?’ asked the lad,
who, though taking it for granted from Hardy’s confident
tone that the latter had some definite plan of action, was
rather curious to know what it could be.

‘Oh, I’ll get across all right, never fear!’ said his friend
so cheerily that the keenest observer could not have guessed
that he was just about to risk his life on a venture where
the chances were twenty to one against him. ‘Jam yourself
well in behind that rock, and tie your handkerchief round
your head; and stay—you’d better have my coat too, for
it’s getting rather cold.’

The boy would have objected, but Hardy stopped him
by saying gaily :

‘T shall be all the lighter to climb without it, you know,
and you really would not be warm enough as you are. Wrap
yourself well up, and mind you don’t stir out of this corner
till I come back—I won’t be very long. When your father
hears that you’ve climbed this rock, and remained on it
all by yourself, he 11 be proud of you, I can tell you that.’

And, clapping his young comrade heartily on the shoulder,
away went Hardy upon the most perilous adventure that even
he had ever undertaken.

His quick eye had already singled out a point about forty
feet above the sea, where the main cliff and the isolated crag
upon which he found himself, curving outward towards
each other, approached near enough to one another to be
just within the compass of a desperate leap; and what



58 FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.

he was now about to attempt was simply to spring across
the intervening chasm, and take his chance of being able
to alight upon a narrow, slippery ledge of rock on the
farther side !

To almost any other man such an attempt would have
seemed absolutely hopeless. The actual breadth of the leap
itself, indeed, though formidable enough, was quite within
the power of one of the first athletes in Britain ; but this was
only the smallest of the dangers with which he had to
contend. The scanty space of the ledge from which he
meant to leap gave him barely room for a spring, while that
upon which he wished to alight was so narrow that even if
he did reach it, which seemed anything but certain, there
was still a frightful risk of his coming against the face of the
cliff with a shock sufficient to throw him backward again,
and hurl him headlong down the precipice. In a word,
unless he could hit the exact medium between making his
spring with too little force or with too much, he was a dead
man !

But no one knew better than Seymour Hardy that such
things must not be paused over, and that the only way to
achieve a desperate feat is to ‘go at it at once.’ Measuring
the breadth of the gulf with his eye, and marking the spot
where he meant to alight, he drew himself together, and shot
out like a sea-bird into the empty air!

The next moment he felt his feet strike the farther ledge,
and his hands close instinctively upon a projecting point of
rock, while he put forth the whole power of his voice in an
encouraging shout to Alwyn Dare, who answered it from
behind his sheltering crag with a faint hurrah.

The bold leaper had not, however, escaped wholly un-
scathed. As he had foreboded, his face came so violently
against the surface of the cliffas he alighted that the blood
gushed freely from his mouth and nose; but the pain was
almost unfelt in the glow of the joyful thought that the
hardest part of his task was now accomplished.



FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST. 59

But was it?

One glance upward sufficed to give him fatal proof to the
contrary. There was still enough daylight left to show him
a narrow crack or cleft running up the face of the cliff, by
means of which it might be possible for such a climber as
himself to reach the top. But, unhappily, the lower
extremity of this fissure lay beyond the utmost stretch of his
arm, and the surface of the rock just above his head was so
perfectly smooth that the smartest topman in the British
navy could not have found hand-hold or foot-hold there.
What was to be done ?

‘I must just make a spring, and chance being able to
clutch it,’ muttered Hardy. ‘If I miss I’m done for; but,
hit or miss, that boy can’t be left where he is.’ i

Silently commending himself to God, the brave man
threw all his strength into one desperate leap upward, and
just succeeded in clutching the rough and broken edge of the
cleft, cutting both hands severely in doing so.

Wherever Seymour Hardy could get his hands up, he
could get his feet up likewise ; and in a trice he had wormed
himself into the cleft, almost tearing his clothes from his
back as he did so, and was crawling up the face of the
precipice like a fly on a wall, shouting ever and anon to the
lonely boy below, who never failed to respond with an
answering cheer.

That evening Mr Cramwell had strolled out with Flo a
little before nightfall, making for the Nab as the best point
for a full view of the glorious sunset. But they did not
escape unobserved by one of the numerous boy-guides that
haunted the hotel, who dogged their steps as persistently as
an Italian beggar, kindly offering to show them the way to
half a dozen different places where they did not in the least
want to go.

In vain did Mr Cramwell assume his severest aspect, and
bid the clamorous boy begone ; the severity which awed the



60 FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.

scapegraces of Hollowdale seemed to have no power over this
sturdy little descendant of northern pirates. But they were
suddenly relieved from their tormentor in a very unexpected
way.

They had just reached the crest of the rocky headland,
and Sandy Robertson was renewing his solicitations more
perseveringly than ever, when all at once there rose spectrally
up between them and the red sunset, on the very brink of
this seemingly unscaleable precipice, a hideous form, black,
ragged, ghastly, with hair and beard as rough and tangled as
a buffalo’s mane, and features almost undistinguishable
through the mask of blood and dust that covered them !

Sandy stared for an instant in open-mouthed horror at this
frightful apparition, and then, screaming out, ‘A ghaist! a
ghaist !’ fled yelling down the hill, to startle the town with the
news that a ghost had risen up from the bottom of the sea,
and alighted before his very eyes upon the Neck of the Nab.

‘Hallo, Cramwell! don’t you know me?’ asked the
hobgoblin, in a familiar voice.

‘Why, Hardy!’ cried the amazed master, ‘is this you?
What on earth have you been at?’

‘Alwyn Dare and I were cut off by the tide,’ panted
Hardy, ‘and he’s there yet, and I’m running for help to
draw him up. I wish you and Flo would go along the cliff
to where he can see you, and give him a word now and then
to keep him up ; for if he’s left there all alone, with the sea
rising around him and night coming on, he’ll be apt to lose
his head.’

Flo and her father instantly hurried in the direction
indicated, while Hardy flew toward the town like a hunted
deer.

The general excitement produced by Sandy Robertson’s
announcement that he had seen. a ghost was in no way
lessened by the sudden bursting in of the transformed Hardy,
who, in his present plight, looked very much like a half-
murdered sweep. But the moment the brave Shetlanders





FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST. 61

heard that there was a boy in danger, and needing help,
nothing more was required to spur them to instant action ;
and Hardy had some difficulty in picking his men from
among the scores of eager volunteers who crowded round
him.

While the rest flew in all directions to fetch ropes and
other needful appliances, the men chosen followed Hardy up
the hill; and with them went Major Dare himself, who
could hardly believe his own eyes and ears when he saw his
‘milksop’ of a son standing alone upon that perilous height,
and heard him replying in cheery tones to the words of
encouragement which Mr Cramwell kept hallooing to him
from time to time.

Not without considerable difficulty, and no small danger as
well, was this involuntary Robinson Crusoe at length rescued
from his miniature island ; but the bruised and exhausted lad
felt amply repaid for all his hardships by his father’s
approving clap on the shoulder, and hearty ‘ Well done, my
brave boy! I’m proud of you!’









CHAPTER VIIL
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

aJUMP aboard lively, Hardy —no time to
lose !?

‘I’ve no wish to lose any, I assure
you, laughed Hardy, looking over the
| yacht’s side as Major Dare hailed her; ‘for
they say time is money, and I have little enough of that
to lose !’

‘So much the better for you,’ muttered Sir Frederick
Goldhall, who was standing just behind him.

Two days had passed since Alwyn Dare’s sensational
escape from the precipices of the Nab, and in that time a
good deal had happened.

Alwyn himself, filled with the consciousness of having
faced danger like a man, and earned the approval and even
the applause of his stern and unbending father, was quite a
different being; and, as Seymour Hardy had foretold, the
major was forced to own that his treatment of the lad had
been a mistake. In fact, Dare himself, after warmly
thanking Hardy for so bravely risking his life to save the
boy, had placed Alwyn at his friend’s entire disposal for the
rest of their trip, with full permission to do whatever he
thought best for the boy’s training—a charge which the great
traveller frankly and heartily accepted.

Flo Cramwell, overwhelmed with shame and remorse at







®
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 63

having actually spoken ill of her favourite author to his very" 5

face, had been on the look-out ever since for a chance of
apologising. But she looked in vain, the ever-active editor
being usually out before she was up, and not home again till
she was in bed.

Hardy’s second exploit, achieved ere the lustre of his first
had had time to fade, had made him the hero of the whole
town; and his feats on the Nab, marvellous enough in
themselves, had been so startlingly embellished by rumour as
to leave the greatest achievements of Baron Munchausen far
behind. Reports differed slightly as to the minor details of
the performance ; but that the hero had leaped head-foremost
into the .sea from a height of sixty feet, swum round the
headland against the tide with all his clothes on, and then
climbed a hitherto unscaled precipice, with one hand dis-
abled by being crushed against a sunken rock, was now an
article of popular faith which no one would have dared to
question.

Mr Cramwell and the major, introduced to one another by
Hardy, proved to have so many friends in common, that they
seemed to know each other quite well already. The two
men, different as they were in every respect, took to one
another surprisingly (perhaps for that very reason), and had
several long walks together, accompanied by Alwyn and
Flo.

Meanwhile Sir Frederick Goldhall had not forgotten his
project of getting Hardy to accompany him on a short
excursion to some of the local ‘sights ;’ and when the author
came to lunch with him aboard the Refuge on the day after
their swimming interview, he found his host deep in the
planning of a trip to the famous ‘Cave of Bressay,’ of which
he had heard so much.

Sir Frederick’s first idea was naturally to make the voyage
in one of the boats belonging to the yacht; but this was at
once negatived by Hardy, who declared emphatically that

they were far too light for the work in hand, and that, short
E

A



64 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

as the distance was, it was quite long enough to be dangerous
if attempted in a boat the build of which was not adapted
for these uncertain and perilous waters.

‘The best thing you can do,’ he concluded, ‘is to hire Hay
Blanch and Peter Nisbet for the day. They’re the two
smartest boatmen in the whole island, and their boat’s as
reliable as themselves.’

‘All right,’ said Goldhall; ‘only we two will be rather a
small company for a big boat like that.’

‘Well, if that’s the only drawback,’ cried Hardy, ‘it’s
easily remedied, for I’m sure my friends at the hotel would
be very glad to go too.’

The young baronet seemed at first inclined to demur to
this, being still haunted by fears of the annoying notoriety
fastened upon him by his position as a millionaire; but
Hardy made short work of his objections.

‘You may be easy on that score, my dear fellow. Two of
the party are a little girl of eleven and a boy of thirteen, who
have very likely never heard of you at all; and the other
two are gentlemen to the backbone, who would never dream
of alluding to your position in any way, when once they
knew you didn’t like it. By the bye, I haven’t told you their
names yet. One of them’s Mr Cramwell, a master at
Hollowdale, and a very good fellow in spite of all his learning ;
and the other’s a man of whom you must have heard pretty
often—“ Daring Dare” of the —th.’

‘What! the Major Dare, the hero of Ferozabad? I should
think I had heard of him! And I shall be very glad to have
a chance of seeing him at last. Bring ’em all, then, if they
like to come ; and Ill pack a good big lunch-basket for you,
and we ’ll have a regular picnic.’

And so it was all settled ; and, at the appointed time, Hay
Blanch’s boat, with the hotel party on board, ran alongside
the Refuge to pick up Sir Frederick Goldhall and Seymour
Hardy, the latter having dined and slept aboard the
yacht.



BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 65

‘Well, Flo, are you actually going to venture out in a boat
with a real live editor? . Aren’t you afraid that I may spring
upon you and eat you wp?’ said Hardy in a playful whisper
to the little golden-haired fairy beside him.

‘Oh, Mr Hardy, I am so ashamed!’ said the child
penitently ; ‘I can’t think how you can ever forgive me
for being so shockingly rude to you!’

‘Never mind, dear,’ rejoined the author, patting her rosy
cheek with a good-humoured laugh; ‘if the newspapers said
nothing worse of me behind my back than you’ve said to my

. face, I should be very much luckier than most authors, I can
assure you !’

‘And don’t you really mind them a bit, then?’ asked Flo,
looking up in wondering admiration at this unexampled
stoicism. ‘TI couldn’t bear to have people saying all sorts of
things about me that weren’t true.’

‘Well, it’s just because they’re not true that I don’t
mind them,’ said Hardy quietly. ‘What on earth does it

' matter to me if one newspaper says that my grandfather was
an Ivish rebel, or another declares that my brother is a
Nihilist assassin, while a third hints that a notorious pirate
disappeared from the Eastern seas just about the time I
came home from *China, and a fourth charitably suggests
that the reason why I won’t give my portrait to be published
is that it might be recognised by the police? All their
chatter can’t make their lies into truth, you know, so why
in the world should I care? But come, we mustn’t ‘keep on
talking when we ought to be looking at the view; isn’t this
a charming picture 2?’

It certainly was. Upon the clear, pale blue of the northern
sky, now all ablaze with the glory of the morning sunshine,
hovered a few thin streamers of snow-white cloud, ‘like
angels’ feathers floating down from heaven,’ as Flo remarked
with unconscious poetry. On one side of them lay the
green sloping shores of Mainland, buttressed every here
and there with huge pillars of dark-gray rock 3 and the



66 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

small boulder-like houses and winding streets of Lerwick,
behind which ring after ring of purple hills rose darkly
against the sunny sky. On the other side, beyond the
dancing ripples of the deep-blue Sound, towered the mighty
cliffs of Bressay, in the crannies of which still lingered a few
flakes of the winter snow, sloping down ever and anon into
a smooth, land-locked basin, on the surface of which two or
three tiny boats were flitting to and fro.

Hardy began to point out to his tiny companion the leading
points of the scenery, and to show her the way by which
the wicked Earl of Bothwell, the third and worst husband
of Mary Queen of Scots, entered Lerwick Harbour in his
flight from Scotland, and the rock upon which the pursuing
ship of. Kirkcaldy of Grange struck at the very moment when
he was about to pounce upon the flying murderer.

The two soon became quite confidential, and the child,
gradually losing her first terror of having mortally offended
her pet author, as she saw how little he seemed to think of
it, at length ventured to say to him, with an archness which
became her charming little face very well :

‘Now, Mr Hardy, don’t you really think, after all, that
you were rather hard upon that poor little story of mine,
and that you owe me an apology ?’

‘I do indeed,’ said the editor with perfect gravity, ‘and
I’m just going to make it now. I know that every con-
tributor who has had an article rejected must feel it hard to
have the work on which he has spent so much time and
labour sent back to him like that, without a word of explana-
tion; but that question, like every other, has two sides to
it. Now, suppose you’re an editor, and have to rush away
to your office before you’ve half breakfasted ; and there you
sit all day in a close room, chin-deep in papers, poring over
pages after pages of illegible handwriting, ninety out of a
hundred of which will be of no use to you whatever, with
a splitting headache, and your lungs filled with ‘dust, and
your eyes aching, till you get so sick and tired of it all that



BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 67

you hardly know what you’re doing. And then, at the
very last moment, just as you’re beginning to hope that
your penance is over for the day, in come half a dozen more
things which you’re sure beforehand won’t be a bit of good,
but which you must read all the same. Well, don’t you
think that, in such a case, you would be glad to skim them
as quickly as possible, and then pop ’em into an envelope
and get rid of them ?’

Here he suddenly stopped short, for he saw tears beginning
to glisten in the bright blue eyes which were fixed upon
him so earnestly.

‘Oh, I am so sorry,’ faltered the little penitent remorse-
fully ; ‘I never thought it was such hard work as that. I
didn’t mean to give you so much trouble—I didn’t indeed !
Please forgive me !’

Hardy laughed good-naturedly, and kissed the poor little
downcast face as tenderly as if he had been her father.

‘There, there—don’t vex yourself about it. I know that
every young writer thinks all editors his natural enemies,
and vice-versd ; but we won’t think so, will we? And as to
forgiving you, if I were to vow eternal enmity to everybody
who sends me an article that I don’t want, I should soon
find myself hating the whole human race, like Timon of
Athens. Besides, we’ve taken a fresh start since then, you
know. Why, I’ve given you another subject myself—that
swim of mine the other day, you remember—and I shall
expect to see something wonderful, when you have time to
begin it.’

‘I'll tell you a secret,’ said Flo, bending close to him,
and lowering her voice to a whisper befitting a communication
of such awful and mysterious importance; ‘I’ve begun it
already !’

‘Oho!’ said Hardy in the same tone, ‘have you really ?
Well done! You must let me see it, presently, and perhaps
I may be able to help you a bit.’

And then, being once launched upon this inexhaustible



68 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

subject, the great editor and his literary god-daughter found
plenty to talk about for the next half-hour.

Meanwhile Sir Frederick Goldhall was getting on capitally
with the major and Mr Cramwell; for it was quite a treat
to this frank and sociable young fellow to find himself once
more, after weeks of seclusion aboard ship, with no company
save the rough seamen of his crew, in the society of culti-
vated gentlemen, who were willing to treat him just like an
ordinary man, ignoring altogether his unlucky millions, and
the wearisome renown conferred by them.

By this time the young baronet had fully compared notes
with his two new friends as to their travels and his own,
and was just beginning to ‘draw out’ Major Dare upon his
East Indian campaigns—a subject upon which the old
soldier was always ready to talk—while Alwyn, to whom
most of his father’s stories were still new, eagerly drank in
every word.

All this while they had been working their way out of
the southern entrance of the Sound toward the open sea;
but their advance was anything but rapid, for, as not a
breath of wind was stirring, they had to trust wholly to
their oars; and, though these were handled with wonderful
strength and skill by Hay Blanch and old Peter Nisbet, they
made slow progress, for so heavy a boat, with so many
passengers added to her crew, was not easily forced through
the water, smooth as it was.

Any one new to the ways of Shetland might well have
wondered why the picnic party had chosen a day so utterly
breezeless for a trip which, though short in actual distance
was quite long enough for two men pulling a heavy boat.
But the reason of this was explained a few minutes later
in a very characteristic fashion, by old Peter Nisbet him-
self.

‘Well, Peter,’ cried Mr Cramwell, noticing that the old
man kept glancing watchfully out to seaward as he rowed,





BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS, 69

‘are you watching for the wind to get up? Suppose it does
get up, what then?’

The gruff old sea-dog eyed his questioner with a look of
grand, indulgent contempt, such as the captain of an Atlantic
steamer might cast upon some raw passenger who had rashly
ventured an opinion about the weather; and then, after a
pause of impressive silence, he answered slowly and solemnly,
letting fall his words one at a time:

‘ Gin—the—wind—get—up, we ’Il—a’—be—at the bottom
—’ five minutes !’

A general laugh greeted the old fellow’s blunt retort,
which most of the party took for a joke. But Goldhall,
catching Seymour Hardy’s eye at that moment, answered it
with a somewhat conscious look; for, in fact, he and the
traveller had only the evening before had a warm discussion
on that very point, brought on by Hardy’s insisting that the
excursion was possible only upon a perfectly calm day,

‘What for?’ Sir Frederick had answered, with the air
of a man accustomed to have his own way in everything,
if he chose to pay for it. ‘We’re not babies or girls, to
be sick at the first lurch ; and I suppose we’re none of us
afraid of weather! I don’t see why we are to wait for the
wind’s convenience. If I offer those two boatmen of yours
double pay, I’ll be bound they ’ll take us out there whether
it’s rough or not!’

‘Yes,’ said Hardy gravely, ‘that’s just what they will do,
and that’s just what I want to keep them from doing. Both
these men have families to support, and if you offer them
high pay, they’ll give the money to their wives, turn
everything out of their boat except just what’s needed for
the voyage, and then go out with us, and take their chance
of going down. Now, even if you think you have a right
to hazard your own life—which, mark you, I don’t in the
least admit—you can hardly call it fair to risk, just for your
own pleasure, the lives of two other men who have wives
and children depending upon them.’



70 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

‘You’re quite right,’ said the young man, somewhat
abashed. ‘That’s just one of the troubles of having money
—you get to think you can do everything with it, and never
stop to consider what may come of it. Well, arrange it as
you think best, then ; whatever you say, I'll do.’

This talk now came back upon Goldhall’s memory with
startling suddenness at the old sailor’s ominous words ; and
well it might, for he had only to look around him in order
to see for himself the truth of Hardy’s warning.

They had just rounded the mighty tower of Bressay Head,
which, together with the Nab on the opposite shore, formed
as ib were the gateway of the Sound, and were now fairly in
the open sea at last, having on their lee an iron-bound coast
which even the reckless young yachtsman could not but
own to be one of the most dangerous that he had ever seen.
Bare, grim, merciless, the vast black precipices towered sheer
up out of the sea, to a height of several hundred feet,
nowhere offering so much as a palm’s breadth of foot-hold
to the doomed wretch who might be hurled against them by
the pitiless waves. As Sir Frederick truly said, ‘a cat
couldn’t get ashore alive;’ and, fearless as he was, the
young baronet was forced to admit that to be caught by the
wind in such a place would be little short of certain
destruction.

Even the high spirits of the six holiday-makers seemed
to feel the gloomy impressiveness of the scene, and their
merry talk gradually died away into silence, as if following
the example of Peter Nishet himself, who, having admin-
istered his one morsel of ‘Job’s comfort,’ seemed to feel
that he had done all that was required of him, and did not
utter another word till they reached the cave whither they
were bound.

When they did reach it, it came like a surprise upon the
whole party. Flo Cramwell, in particular, was looking in
vain for any sign of it upon the massive front of this giant
rock-wall, in which no opening was to be seen large enough



BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 71

to admit an oar-blade, much less an entire boat, when they
glided round a projecting crag, and suddenly found them-
selves right in front of a mighty archway, such as Virgil
or Dante would have chosen for the portal of the world of
shadows.

‘Now, Mr Cramwell,’ cried Sir Frederick Goldhall in his
cheeriest voice, as if bent upon dispelling the secret awe
which was beginning to creep over one and all, ‘give us an
appropriate quotation; you’re the scholar of our party, you
know.’

‘Well,’ answered the Hollowdale master, laughing, ‘unless
I were to spout the whole Sixth Book of the AEneid, I can’t
think of anything so pat to the purpose as a passage of
Cowley : i

A place there is, deep, wondrous deep below,
Which cheerless gloom and horror overflow,

Where their vast court the mother-waters keep,
And, undisturbed by suns, in silence sleep.’

‘I say, who on earth was Cowley?’ whispered Goldhall to
Seymour Hardy.

‘A gentleman who lived in the time of Charles I. and
Charles IL.’ replied the author, ‘and who was thought a
good deal of by the critics of his day, one of whom was
graciously pleased to pronounce some of Milton’s verses as
“almost equal to those of the great Mr Cowley.” But
nowadays, somehow or other, Milton seems to have got
rather the upper hand of him.’

The boatmen bent to their oars, and one stroke carried
them from the bright morning sunshine to the gloom and
silence of eternal night. And as they went deeper and
deeper into the cold black shadow of this living grave, Flo
instinctively drew closer to her chosen hero, and slid her soft,
warm little hand confidingly into his.

But the darkness did not endure long. The ever-handy
Hay Blanch suddenly kindled a huge torch of dry pine-wood,
beneath the red and fitful glare of which, as he held it aloft



72 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

over his head, started into view, all in one moment, a very
weird and startling spectacle.

Above their heads rose three magnificent natural arches,
perfect as those of any Gothic cathedral, the largest of the
three spanning with its massive strength the whole breadth
of the cavern, and the two others flanking it to right and
left. But only a part of the bold sweep of their rocky sur-
face could be seen, so thickly festooned was all the rest with
the richest hangings of every varied colour—bright summer
ereen, glowing crimson, pale gold, rich purple, deep blue,
flaming scarlet, and glossy velvet-black. And as if all this
were not enough, there hung from the dark arches, and from
the rocky walls on either side of them, to the number of a
dozen or more, what seemed to the amazed spectators like
chandeliers of solid silver, studded with diamonds and other
precious stones of every kind!

Not till their dazzled eyes had grown somewhat used to
this bewildering mixture of tomb-like darkness and blinding
light, did the explorers discover that these gorgeous hangings
were nothing more than clusters of seaweed, and that the
jewelled chandeliers were splendid stalactites several feet in
length, as fine as any that Hardy had seen in the Grotto of
Adelsberg, or Goldhall in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky.
But even the decorations of this gloomy spot had a tinge of
horror. As the red torch-light flamed upon the wet seaweed
and dripping rocks, the heavy drops that fell slowly from
them wore a hideous likeness to fresh gore dropping from a
wound, while the restless sea which formed the floor of the
cavern, black as ink where it lay in shadow, and blood-red
wherever the glare of the burning wood fell athwart it,
looked altérnately like a pool of pitch and like a river of
blood.

Slowly they glided onward, deeper and deeper into the
darkness. Not a word was spoken; for the blithe talk and
merry laughter of the living world could find no entrance
into this great palace of death. The dead, grim silence, the



BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 73

ghostly gloom, the fitful fire-glow that broke it with a light
more ghostly still, had an overwhelming power which, alniot
touching each other though the voyagers were, weighed
down every one of them with a sense of ghastly isolation.

‘Fancy being here alone!’ muttered Goldhall at length,
with an involuntary shudder; and his words expressed the
very thought which was uppermost in every mind at that
moment.

Suddenly a blank wall of solid rock started out of the
gloom in front of them, seeming to bar their way completely ;
and all thought that they had reached the end of their
voyage. But it was not so. The boat made a sharp turn,
and a fresh vista of rocky arches, and dark pools, and glitter-
ing stalactites, opened all at once before them.

But the second cave was narrower than the first, and the
rocky walls on either side seemed as if slowly closing to
crush them, while the jutting crags, as the spectral torch-
light played over them, took strange and hideous shapes.
Here, a monstrous serpent writhed its endless coils; there,
grinned and gnashed the gaping jaws of a ravenous wolf.
Farther on rose the shaggy head of a lion, while a huge,
black, clawed hand, darting down towards them from above,
seemed to clutch murderously at them as they went by.

‘Just like those wicked polypi that tried to seize hold of
the little mermaid,’ whispered Flo, nestling closer between
Hardy and her father.

And now they paused once more ; and this time the pause
was final. They had reached their farthest point, and, far
down in the sunless depths beyond, they could hear the
sullen roar of unseen waters, rolling unchecked where man’s
presence had never been.

‘T suppose there’s no man ever been in there?’ asked the
major.

‘Ay, there was one!’ answered Hay Blanch; and some-
thing in his tone made all the listeners shudder in spite of
themselves.



74 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

And then, in-a voice wholly unlike his own, so strangely
did its harsh, hollow echo come back from the dark caverns
around, he went on:

‘Puir Robbie Anderson! he was aye (always) a venture-
some chiel; and when the auld fishermen spak’ o’ yon place
where nae man had been, naething wad serve him but he
maun gang and do’t himsel’. Sair, sair we pled wi’ him no to
fling his life awa’; but he wadna be guided, God forgi’e him !
I think I can see him noo, jist as he stood up i’ the black
‘mouth o’ the fearsome cavern to tak’ his last luik o’ the day-
light, wi’ the sun glintin’ on his bonnie face and his bright
hair, as he smiled and waved his han’ to us a. And sae
(as the Gude Buik saith) he went doon alive into the pit—
and he ne’er cam’ back ony mair!’

Told in such a place, the dreadful story, and the grim
emphasis of its teller, chilled the boldest of its hearers with
secret horror; and all felt relieved when they passed from
that gloomy dungeon to the light of day, little dreaming that
the deadliest peril of all was waiting there to overwhelm
them.









CHAPTER IX.
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH,

==I))S they emerged from the cavern, old Peter
1, Nisbet glanced instinctively to windward as
usual ; and instantly his firm lips compressed
themselves so tightly as to make his hard
old face look harder than ever. Not a word
did those set lips utter; but his significant nod evidently
spoke volumes to Hay Blanch, who, after gazing fixedly for
an instant in the same direction, answered with a look of
grave meaning.

Nothing of this by-play had escaped the observant Hardy,
who needed no explanation of its terrible import. The wind
was rising at last, and the old whaler’s grim prophecy that
if it did rise, they would all go to the bottom, seemed but
too likely to be accomplished to the letter !

This was no time for hesitation or reserve. Hardy leaned
over to his friend the major, who was just setting to work
to unpack their lunch-basket, and conveyed to him, in a
hurried whisper, that a few minutes more would probably
see them all face to face with almost certain destruction.

Such a revelation, so suddenly made, would have sorely
tried the nerves of any ordinary man; but the hardy soldier,
to whom the sudden facing of instant and violent death had
for years been quite an every-day matter, received it coolly
enough. His face never changed one whit, and the strong





76 A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.

hands which were uncording the basket pursued their task
as steadily as ever.

‘Well, there’s nothing we can do but just sit still,’ whis-
pered he in reply, ‘for the boat has only two oars, and these
two fellows handle ’em far better than we could do. Don’t
say anything to the rest, for it’s no use frightening the chil-
dren.—-They’ll find it all out quite soon enough,’ he added
with grim significance.

In the meantime Flo and Alwyn had seen nothing to alarm
them, and had no idea whatever that anything was wrong ;
nor, indeed, had Mr Cramwell himself, who, although no
novice in travelling, had had little experience of the sea.
But Sir Frederick Goldhall, if a young baronet, was an old
yachtsman ; and though the slight but ominous signs of
coming storm which the two sailors had so quickly discerned
were still imperceptible to his less practised senses, he was
not long in divining that some special danger must be close
at hand.

A quick glance telegraphed this to Hardy and the major,
who replied with a cautioning gesture which Goldhall -per-
fectly understood.

‘Well, I suppose we may as well have lunch now,’ said
Dare, as cheerily as if he were only presiding over an or-
dinary picnic, instead of what might well be his last meal
on earth. ‘Hardy, will you help me to serve out the
rations ?’

The author did so, and in a trice every one was supplied,
while poor little Flo, still ignorant of the doom that was
darkening over them all, laughed gleefully as she saw the
various good things taken out in succession, and declared that
Sir Frederick was ‘like one of those good fairies in the story-
books, you know, who used to give people enchanted baskets
in which they found whatever they liked to wish for.’

Meanwhile the two sturdy boatmen were pulling their
hardest in this race with death ; and Major Dare, anxious to
sustain their strength to the utmost, offered them a share of



A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH. elt

the food, even volunteering to feed them with his own hands
while they rowed.

But both men stoutly refused the tempting offer.

‘It’s no a time to think o’ that noo,’ said old Peter in a
tone of quiet rebuke. ‘It was a’ varra weel for thae feckless
haythens 7? puir St Paul’s crew to tak’ their dinner when the
ship was near-han’ sinkin’; but auld Peter Nisbet winna do
the like !’

And Hay Blanch approved his partner’s blunt verdict with
an emphatic nod.

By this time the signs of coming evil were too plain to be
mistaken. The surface of the water, hitherto smooth as
glass, was just beginning to be ruffled by those light ripples
which seamen call ‘cat’s paws.’ The still air was faintly
stirred by the first breath of the rising wind; and, far to
the southward, a surging line of ‘white-caps’ had already
become visible along the horizon.

‘Oh, just see those pretty white waves yonder!’ cried
Flo, clapping her tiny hands gleefully. ‘I wish they were
just a little nearer, so that we could see them quite plain! I
do so like to watch them !’

As the unconscious child prattled on, Dare set his lips
tightly, and Sir Frederick drew his breath hard, as if in pain,
while turning his eyes from the distant line of foam to the
towering headland beyond which lay safety. How terribly
far away it seemed! and, every time he looked at it, it
appeared farther and farther still.

‘Why do you work so hard, Hay? We’ve got plenty of
time, you know,’ said Flo, springing up and laying her hand
upon Hay Blanch’s shoulder. ‘Leave off and rest a bit, and
I'll give you a piece of my tart.’

The brave Shetlander answered only by looking sadly at
the bright, fresh little face which might so soon be fathoms
deep beneath the cruel sea; but just then Hardy, prompt as
ever, came to his assistance.

‘It’s going to rain presently, Flo, and you know it wouldn’t



78 A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.

be at all nice to get wet through,’ said he, with a laugh which
ought to have made his fortune, had he been an actor; ‘and
it’s very kind of Hay to work so hard to get us home before
it comes on. Sit down here, and have a bit of this cake,
while Hay and Peter show us how they can go along.’

The two gallant boatmen did indeed ‘go along’ like men
fighting for their lives, and for other lives than their own ;
and even in that deadly crisis Sir Frederick Goldhall (him-
self no mean oarsman) noted approvingly the wonderful skill
with which they made every stroke tell to the utmost. But
the effort of forcing so heavy a load through the water was
too exhausting to be long maintained; and it now seemed
only too certain that this match with death, the stake of
which was eight human lives, would be a losing one after
all. k

By this time even Mr Cramwell himself was beginning to
look uneasy ; and Hardy, seeing that he had already half
guessed how matters stood, whispered to him the whole truth.
Nota word spoke Cramwell in reply to that fearful disclosure ;
but the look that he cast at the tiny figure by his side said
more than any words.

Meanwhile the major was making the same communication
to his son ; and the father saw with secret pride that, although
the boy’s cheek grew pale for a moment, and a startled look
came into his eyes, the glow which instantly lighted up his
delicate face showed that the native courage of his race had
risen to meet the trial.

‘What am I to do father?’ asked the lad eagerly.

‘Put a life-buoy round Flo, and get another on yourself,
and then sit quite still—that’s all that can be done just now.
When the time comes, I’Il tell you what to do.’

Stronger and stronger came the rising wind upon their faces ;
nearer and nearer swept the advancing line of foam; while
the vast rocky headland which was their sole refuge from
destruction loomed out tantalisingly beyond them, to all
appearance as far away as ever.











‘I may just as well go too, . . . anda third splash accompanied his words.
F



A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH. 79

And all this while the sky was blue and bright above them,
and the sun shone in cloudless glory, and the pitiless sea that
was hungering to devour them all, danced and sparkled merrily
in the light. It seemed as if all the fullness of life were
outspread before the doomed men in their last moments to
heighten the bitterness of death.

But all at once Seymour Hardy, who had been silent and
thoughtful for some moments, leaped to his feet and called
out: ‘If the boat were lightened a bit, we might do it yet.
Here goes!’ And flinging off his coat and shoes ere any one
could tell what was coming, he coolly jumped overboard, and
began to swim alongside the boat.

‘Follow my leader !’ shouted the young baronet as gleefully
as if they were only playing a game; and the splash of his
plunge followed Hardy’s like an echo.

‘Well, I’m as heavy as both of you put together,’ said
Major Dare coolly, ‘and so I may just as well go too;’
and a third and far louder splash accompanied his last
words.

‘What are you at, Dare?’ cried Hardy. ‘You forget that
you can’t swim !’

‘I’ve put on a life-buoy,’ answered the major quietly,
‘and I’ll be bound I’ll manage to get through the water
somehow ; and, if not, better drown one than all. Alwyn!
what are you doing? Sit still!’

The order was given not a whit too soon; for Alwyn Dare,
eager to give some proof of his courage which no one could
mistake, was just on the point of plunging into the sea after
his father.

‘Stay still, my boy,’ called out Hardy. ‘Your weight
wouldn’t make much difference, and you’ll be more use where
you are. Stay still, and take care of Flo.’

Just then, however, Flo did not seem to need much taking
care of; for she was clapping her plump little hands and
shouting with laughter at the sight of her companions jumping
into the sea with their clothes on, evidently regarding this



80 A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.

diving epidemic as a new and very amusing game, and a
regular part of the day’s fun. But Mr Cramwell’s heart sank
within him as he realised for the first time the greatness of the
peril which could drive even his cool and experienced com-
rades to such a desperate resource.

The generous sacrifice, however, had not been made in vain.
The boat, thus suddenly relieved from a weight of more than
five hundred pounds, visibly quickened her speed, and the
swimmers soon perceived that, if not checked by some un-
foreseen accident, she would, after all, be safe behind the
sheltering headland ere the impending storm burst.

But what about themselves ?

What, indeed? Had they been alone, such swimmers as
Hardy and Goldhall could have gone quite as fast as the
boat; but it was a very different matter when they were
coupled with a man who could not swim at all. In fact, poor
Major Dare found himself mistaken, like many others, in
supposing that there could be no great mystery in the art of
swimming, and that all one had to do was to strike out
vigorously. He did so, but only found himself floundering
awkwardly about in one place without advancing a foot ; and
his two comrades were forced to take hold of him, one on
each side, and literally tow him along, thereby, of course,
perilously retarding their own progress.

One glance over the stern of the receding boat told Mr
Cramwell how matters stood; and he muttered tremulously
under his breath: ‘God help them !’

‘Look here, you two,’ said the major to his comrades, ‘I’m
only keeping you back ; go ahead, and let me take my chance.’

‘I'll see you cashiered first,’ answered Hardy as coolly as
ever.

‘Hurrah !’ shouted Sir Frederick at that moment. ‘There
goes the boat round the Point at last—she’s all safe now !’

‘Thank God!’ said Major Dare ; ‘then it doesn’t matter so
much what becomes of us. Now, if I could only swim!’



A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH. 81

‘Would you like to try a bit?’ suggested Hardy ; ‘I'll tell
you what to do.’

He gave Dare a few simple directions, which the major
obeyed to the letter, and soon found himself, to his great
delight, actually making some progress.

But the sea was getting higher every moment, while the
swimmers, hampered by their wet clothes, were beginning to
flag. And now there burst upon them such a blinding squall
of vain that they could as little tell where the shore lay, or
which way to head for it, as if they had been actually blind.

There was a sudden clamour of hoarse voices close beside
them, a gust of flying spray, a rattle of spars and cordage, a
heavy shock, and then they felt themselves seized and dragged
aboard a light fishing-smack, which, running before the wind
for the entrance of the Sound, had come up just in time to
save them.

‘Well,’ panted Major Dare, as the rescuing boat carried
them past the Point into the sheltered roadstead a few
moments later, ‘I’ve gained one thing by this business,
anyhow—I’ve learned to swim !’







CHAPTER X.
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

==))|RE ye gangin’ oot, sir? Yell be for gangin’ till
| the Fort, then, I’m thinkin’?

This query was addressed to Mr Cramwell,
as he stood at the hotel door, on the second
morning after the memorable expedition to the
Bressay cave ; and the speaker was one of those sturdy little
shock-headed urchins, whose berry-brown faces and bright
blue eyes swarm in every corner of the metropolis of
Shetland, ever on the look-out for a chance of picking
up a stray sixpence by piloting some ‘Southron’ visitor
to one of the many points of interest in the neighbour-
hood.

The boy’s face seemed familiar to Cramwell, and, looking
closer at him, he recognised Hay Blanch’s ‘callant,’ whose
sudden arrival with Seymour Hardy’s abandoned clothes, and
the news of the latter’s supposed death, had startled the whole
hotel a few days before.

‘The Fort!’ echoed the Englishman, with a disdainful
glance toward the rickety little mound of gray, crumbling
stones (with half a dozen veterans, aged and infirm enough for
a Greek chorus, to be defended by it) which forms the citadel
of Lerwick. ‘What on earth is there to be seen there, except
a couple of guns too cracked to be fired, and three or four old
cripples too shaky to fire them 9’





IN A CITY OF DWARFS. 83

‘ Hoot, sir, it’s no Fort Chairlotte I’m speakin’ o’; it’s the
Peghtish fort in the loch, oot by’ (yonder).

‘A Pictish fort, eh?’ repeated the Hollowdale master, with
sparkling eyes, for he was a bit of an antiquary as well asa
scholar. ‘I never knew that you had one here.’

The urchin swept the grave scholar from head to foot with
one glance of grand and massive contempt for the latter’s gross
ignorance.

‘Ne’er heard o’ oor Peghtish fort! ‘Losh, man! where can
ye hae lived a’ yere days? It’s just the varra thing that
a’ body (every one) here gaes to luik at. Will I shaw ye the
way till’t?’

‘Well, I'll tell you what, my good hoy,’ said Mr Cramwell,
after a moment’s consideration, ‘I can’t go with you now,
because I’m expecting a friend to breakfast; but if you'll
come back in about an hour’s time, very likely we may all go
to see the Pictish fort together.’

‘Varra gude,’ replied Jamie Blanch with alacrity; and
away he went, showing all his splendid white teeth in a
broad grin of satisfaction at having thus made sure of his
day’s job. :

The friend whom Mr Cramwell was expecting was no less
a personage than Sir Frederick Goldhall himself; for the
acquaintance so strangely begun had been cemented by the
peril through which our travellers had passed in company two
days before ; and the whole six—Seymour Hardy, the major
and his son, Mr Cramwell, little Flo, and the millionaire
baronet—were by this time on so familiar a footing as to be
like members of the same party. On the previous day they
had all lunched aboard Sir Frederick’s yacht, and had invited
him to breakfast with them at the hotel, with the under-
standing that, when breakfast was over, they should all
(weather permitting) make an excursion to one or other of
the ‘sights’ in the neighbourhood ; so that Jamie’s mention
of the Pictish fort came just at the right moment, as all the



84 IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

guests agreed when Mr Cramwell announced this discovery at
the breakfast-table.

‘Who on earth were the Picts, by the bye?’ asked Sir
Frederick. ‘I fancy I learnt something about ’em at school ;
but if I did, I’ve forgotten it again, as one generally does.
Were they called Picts because they were all picked men ?’

‘More likely because they had such a wonderful gift of
picking up other people’s property,’ said Hardy. ‘But here’s
Mr Cramwell, who has all history at his finger-ends ; he will
tell us everything that is known about them.’

‘I can easily do that,’ rejoined the Hollowdale master with
a quiet smile, ‘for nothing is known about them at all with
any certainty. Their very name is a matter of dispute ; for
while some derive it from the Latin “ Picti” (painted), from
their habit of painting their bodies (which it’s not certain
that they did, by the bye), others make it out to be a Celtic
name, and write it variously Piks, Peghts, Piochts, Piaghts,
or Peughts.’

‘I suppose we may take our choice of names,’ whispered
Sir Frederick Goldhall to his right-hand neighbour, Seymour
Hardy.

‘Of their language,’ continued Mr Cramwell, ‘there is but
one word left—‘ Benval”—which is just enough to set anti-
quaries fighting as to whether it was a Celtic or a Gothic
dialect. As for themselves, if history speak truth (which it
very seldom does), they were a race of barbarians that haunted
the north of Scotland and the adjacent isles, and were con-
stantly quarrelling with their fellow-savages the Scoti or
Scots, who at length exterminated them to the last man, after
the convenient fashion of the good old times.’

‘I have nothing to add to the statement of the honourable
member who has just sat down,’ said Hardy, ‘except that the
popular traditions of northern Scotland represent these Picts
or Peghts as a race of savage and very ugly dwarfs, as squat,
long-armed, and generally monkey-like as any of the black
dwarfs of South Africa.’





IN A CITY OF DWARFS. 85

‘What! have you really seen them—the same that Stanley
met?’ cried Flo Cramwell excitedly.

‘No, not those same ones. I didn’t get far enough up the
Congo for that; but on the Orange River, farther south, I
came across some dwarfs that no respectable monkey would
think of shaking paws with.’

‘I can quite believe that,’ chimed in the young baronet,
laughing ; ‘but, judging from what I’ve seen of the municipal
authorities in certain country towns of old England, one
needn’t go from home to fall in with very little men who are
a good deal like monkeys.’

‘ Well, here’s our friend Jamie Blanch coming to fetch us,
I see,’ said Mr Cramwell, whose seat was nearest to the
window, ‘so, I suppose, we had better be getting ready to
start.’

They did so in a trice, and were just about to set off,
when it suddenly occurred to Mr Cramwell that the walk
might perhaps prove too long for his little Flo; and he
inquired of Jamie what the distance was to the Pictish
fort.

‘No that far,’ answered the lad with true Scottish in-
directness.

This sounded rather vague, and for a moment Cramwell
hesitated ; but Flo (who was, indeed, no mean pedestrian)
protested so vehemently against being left behind on such
an occasion, that her father at length yielded, the stalwart
major having pledged himself to carry her home on his
shoulder in case she felt tired.

‘Or, if the worst comes to the worst,’ suggested Hardy,
‘we can easily catch a pony for her. That’s the regular
thing in these parts, you know. There are always plenty
of ’em straying about—there go a lot of them yonder, you
see, this very minute—and all you have to do is to catch
and mount whichever one you like, ride him as far as you
please, and then jump off and turn him loose, and he’s
safe to find his way home all right.’



86 IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

Away they went accordingly in the bright morning sun-
shine, with the bracing sea-air filling their lungs, and making
every nerve and sinew bound with a fresh life of its own.

Is there any pleasure, after all, equal to that of scouring
an untried bit of country in the freshness of early morning,
with the swing of a stride that can do anything up to five
miles an hour, and never flag +—a bright, clear sky overhead,
a boundless perspective of new scenery opening around, and
every limb and muscle tingling with honest, healthy exertion
till the mere sense of living becomes a pleasure of itself.
And even should the ground wax rough and broken, or
the sky cloud over and break into pelting rain, what matter ?
It is ‘all in the day’s work,’ and merely a pleasure of another
kind, dearer than any other, perhaps, to John Bull’s com-
bative nature—the pleasure of having a hard struggle with
difficulties, and overcoming them all.

So felt all our pedestrians, from the big Major Dare to
the small Flo Cramwell ; but the staunch little heroine found
both her breath and her strength sorely tested by this
prolonged ascent (for their way was all up-hill), and felt
rather inclined to envy the tireless activity of their boy-
guide, who, though fully a year younger and considerably
smaller than Flo herself, led the way up slope after slope
with a springy stride worthy of the nimblest warrior in
Montenegro.

‘That little fellow goes along like a bird,’ said Hardy to
Goldhall. ‘What an illustration he’d make for Locksley
Hall / He’s just the very model of one of those “ iron-jointed,
supple-sinewed,” young savages whom the hero proposed to
rear. J wish Tennyson were here to touch him off.’

‘Well, as Tennyson isn’t here, suppose you do it for him,’
rejoined the baronet. ‘Tip us a poem on the ‘noble savage ;’
you seem to be able to reel off verses as easily as you do
everything else.’

‘T’ll try, if you like,’ answered the author; and he at
once began to extemporise as follows:



IN A CITY OF DWARFS. 87

«Over mountain, over moorland, scorning wind and rain and dirt,
Nothing with me but a sandwich, nothing on me but a shirt.

All in vain the distance blackens ! forward, forward let us range ;
If we do get wet, no matter—when ’tis over, we can change.

There, methinks, would be enjoyment, more than in our morning
calls,
In the meerschaum, in the novel, in the roll of billiard balls.

There the muscles, cramped no longer, shall have scope and
breathing-space,
I will do my five miles hourly—that ’s about a decent pace.

Iron-jointed, supple-sinewed, we can dive and we can run,
Splash thro’ every stream we meet, and dry our flannels in the sun.

Trammelled not by cares of luggage—scaling cliffs, and leaping
brooks,
Not, like other tourists, ’wildered over Bradshaw’s mystic books.’

‘Oh, Mr Hardy, did you really make up all that your
own self only this minute?’ asked Flo Cramwell wonder-
ingly: for this was the first sample which she had yet had
of that gift of improvisation that had made Seymour Hardy
the poet-laureate of many a passenger-steamer in the
Eastern seas.

‘Indeed I did, my dear,’ said Hardy, patting her round
cheek ; ‘we authors have to do our work quickly, you know.
Only the other day, I had to write a whole book in three
weeks.’

‘What a wonderful man you are!’ cried the child, with
a grave earnestness that set every one laughing, while Hardy
acknowledged the compliment with a low bow.

‘Well, said Sir Frederick, ‘I only wish I could paint
a picture as easily as you knock off a poem. If I could,
T’d set to work this minute; for here’s one worth painting,
anyhow.’

And well might he say so. They had just reached the
summit of a high ridge, which commanded a view of the
whole surrounding country ; and a noble panorama it was.



88 IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

In front of them rose, slope above slope, the green, sunny
uplands, thickly dotted with those quaint little toy cattle
which yield the finest beef and the richest cream in Europe.
To their right, the straggling lines of small gray houses (with
steep shingly roofs and narrow loophole-like windows) form-
ing the ‘town’ of Lerwick clung like limpets to the low
ridges, or clustered along every point of the shore; and
beyond them, Sir Frederick’s trim little yacht hovered like
a white-winged sea-bird upon the deep-blue waters of the
Sound, over which frowned the vast black cliffs of Bressay
Islet. To the left, the smooth, green hillside ended abruptly
in the black, grim precipices of the formidable Nab, around
which clouds of sea-birds were whirling and swooping with
shrill, unearthly cries. Southward lay the open sea, which
was breaking upon the craggy headland with a deep booming
roar, showing that its late fury was not yet wholly calmed
down; and far to the westward, beyond a wide waste of
bare gray moorland, towered the dark purple ring of rocky
hills which bulwark the western shore of Mainland against
the ceaseless battering of the unresting ocean.

‘Look out yonder, Alwyn, away to the west,’ said Seymour
Hardy to Alwyn Dare. ‘Do you see that dark-gray spot just
in the mouth of that hollow between those two big hills 4
That’s Scalloway, where we were the other day, and where,
as you remember, I showed you the ruins of the castle built
by that nice Earl of Orkney whom the Shetlanders, and the
Orkneymen too, still compliment with the title of “Wicked
Earl Pate” (Patrick), which he certainly appears: to have
done his best to deserve. By the bye, the fate of that
same Earl Patrick ought to be a warning to you schoolboys,
for he was put to death simply for putting the nominative
instead of the genitive in a Latin exercise.’

The boy stared—as well he might—and a ripple of coming
laughter quivered over the plump, rosy face of little Flo,
who was evidently expecting some first-rate joke.

‘I daresay you don’t believe it,’ said Hardy, smiling, ‘but



IN A CITY OF DWARFS. 89

it’s true, for all that. When the Earl repaired the castle
of Birsay, in Orkney, which had been built by his father,
Robert Stuart (a son of King James V. of Scotland), he
wanted to put up an inscription to that effect over the great
gateway. Now, what he meant to say was, “ Robert Stuart,
son.of James V., king of Scots, erected this building.” But,
being no great things of a scholar, he did it into Latin this
way : “ Robertus Stuartus, filius Jacobi Quinti, Rex Scotorum,
hoe edificium instruxit ;” and so, by putting “rex” instead
of “regis,” he made it.mean: “ Robert Stuart, son of James V.,
and king of Scots!”’*

‘What a duffer he must have been!’ cried the young
baronet ; ‘why, I know better than that myself!’

‘Well, he paid dear for his bad grammar, anyhow,’ said
Hardy ; ‘for—just to show you how they used to do things
in those days—the Scottish government, which had let him
go on for years robbing, burning, and murdering among these
poor islanders without saying a word against it, gravely
pronounced him guilty of high treason in saying that his
father had been king of Scotland, and put him to death
accordingly.’

This story—a perfectly true one—was greeted with
general laughter; and Alwyn Dare confided to Flo, in a
whisper, that ‘if everybody that made mistakes in their
Latin exercises had got to be executed, they’d need to open
a training-school for hangmen !’

‘Well,’ cried Hardy, expanding his chest with a long,
deep breath of intense enjoyment as they moved forward



* This was not Earl Patrick’s only blunder in Latin. The inscription
furnished by a local churchman for the gate of Scalloway Castle, where
traces of it are still to be seen, though taken by the ignorant Earl as a
compliment, really conveyed a bitter sarcasm upon his ill-gotten power :

‘Cujus fundamen saxum est, domus illa manebit
Stabilis; et contra, si sit arena, perit ;’
which may be thus translated :
‘If founded on a rock, the house is sure,
If on the sand, it will not long endure.’



90 IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

again, ‘the good old fashion of going on foot is the best
as well as the oldest way of journeying, after all! I would
rather, by far, travel in this style than have all my bones
shaken out of joint by the jolting jog-trot of a camel, as I
did in crossing the deserts of Central Asia.’

‘Or be imprisoned in a first-class pepper-box on a creeping
train,’ chimed in Major Dare, ‘and swallow a shovelful of
sand every time you draw breath, as I did in Lower Egypt.’

‘Or sit perched on a beast of a Spanish mule,’ added
Sir Frederick Goldhall, ‘and amuse yourself, while the brute
picks its way along a ledge just wide enough to hold it, by
watching your right or left foot sticking out over a sheer
precipice of two or three thousand feet, as I did in
the Andes.’

‘Or find yourself jammed up in a “diligence” like a herring
in a barrel, on a hot summer day, among half a dozen
fellows reeking of garlic or bad tobacco, as I did in Italy,’
wound up Mr Cramwell, with a savage emphasis which
showed that he had endured this penance often enough to
have a full appreciation of it.

But just then this ‘chorus of travellers’ was suddenly
cut short; for at that moment little Jamie Blanch, who still
kept his place a few yards in advance of the party, was seen
to come to an abrupt halt, and to point downward, while he
called out with the full power of his shrill, childish voice :

‘Yon’s the loch, and the Peghtish fort i’ the middle 0’t!’

One and all pressed eagerly forward to look; and there,
sure enough, in a hollow just below them, lay outstretched
a long, narrow strip of dark water, from the midst of which
rose, like a brooding shadow, a low, black, shapeless mound.







CHAPTER XI.

MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.






[SS HE first feeling of the sight-seers—as generally
So jj] happens in such cases—was one of grievous
disappointment. The mention of a ‘fort’ had
suggested to them all, with the exception of
Seymour Hardy, who had been in the northern
seas before, a vision of solid walls, massive towers, and
crumbling battlements, wreathed with ivy; whereas what
they now looked upon was merely a formless heap of stones
and rubbish, much more like a disused brick-kiln than any
human habitation.

‘Well, if that’s a fort,’ growled Major Dare, with grand
military disdain, ‘I could make as good a one myself any
day by emptying out a dust-bin.’

But ,as they drew nearer, this strange old lair of extinct
monsters began to define itself more clearly, and: to exhibit
traces of architectural skill, as well as good military choice of
position. The side which faced the visitors was little better
than a heap of ruins; but enough of the groundwork
remained to show that the fortress had once been encircled
by three complete walls, one within the other.

. It’s been a strang place in its day, yon burgh, for a’ it’s
sae dang doon noo,’ said Jamie, with the air of a connoisseur.
‘There ’s anither i’t he isle o’ Mousa, a great muckle ane—
wise folk say that some great laird frae Norroway siegit



92 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.

it for ten years,* and cudna win in (gain entrance). But
ye’ll hae read a’ that for yersels’, I’m thinkin’, ? Walter
Scott.’

‘Hallo!’ cried Sir Frederick, not a little surprised to hear
this bare-footed fisher-boy speak so familiarly of the great
author, ‘you seem pretty well up in Scott, my friend !’

‘Hoots, man! a’body kens Walter Scott here. D’ ye no
mind that he made a haill buik aboot us Shetland folk—The
Pirate, as they ca’’t! Mony’s the gude customer yon buik ’s
broucht us; and ye’ll see a dizzen copies o’t here for ane 0’
ony, ither baile Ye may gang into the muckle shop yon’er
i’ the toon, and see for yer ainsel’s !’

‘The schoolmaster’s abroad, you see, Mr Cramwell, figura-
tively as well as literally,’ whispered Hardy to the Hollowdale
master, who was beside him. ‘I got just the same sort of
surprise myself a few years ago when I was visiting the
great Buddhist temple of Kochikadeh, in Ceylon, where I
met an old Singhalese bonze (priest), the very picture of a
genuine Asiatic from head to foot, who quoted The Light of
Asia to me in English, and talked as familiarly of Sir Edwin
Arnold and Max Miiller as if he had been at school with the
pair of ’em !’

‘Sir Walter didna say onything aboot this Peghtish burgh,’
resumed Jamie, who had now got upon what was manifestly
a favourite subject with him ; ‘but he spak’ o’ the ither ane
i’ the isle o’ Mousa, and he spak’ o’ Scalloway Castle too, and ”
o “ Wicked Yerl Pate” that biggit (built) it, wha was hangit
lang syne—I dinna mind jist when.’

“On the 6th of February 1614, in the reign of James VI.
of Scotland,’ promptly struck in Mr Cramwell, whose memory
for dates was something phenomenal.

‘Ay, man! d’ye ken that?’ cried the urchin, turning to
the best-read form-master in Hollowdale with a patronising
graciousness that well-nigh upset the gravity of the whole

* Jamie was in error here ; but the siege, though not so long as that of
Troy, was long enough to tire out the besieger, Jarl Harald of Norway.



MAJOR ‘DARE PLAYS SAMSON. 93

party. ‘I’m thinkin’, then, that ye Englishers are no sae
ignorant as ane wad fancy, aifter a’ !’

By this time they had reached the edge of the lake,
through the shallow waters of which a rude causeway of
large stones, extremely irregular and broken, led to the island-
fortress itself.

‘This is, of course, a later construction,’ said Mr Cramwell,
eyeing this rude path with the same critical air which he
was wont to assume when pouncing upon some ‘false
quantity’ in his pupils’ Latin verses. ‘The ancient lake-
dwellings were always reached in boats. This causeway is
doubtless a purely modern addition.’

‘It seems probable,’ said Hardy gravely. ‘ At all events, if
I had a snug fort right in the middle of a lake, I hardly
think I should go and make a paved road up to my front
door, for the convenience of any enemy who might happen to
be passing, and might wish to pay me a call.’

While talking thus, they had picked their way along the
*causeway, and, scrambling over the ruins of the outermost
wall, found themselves in front of the second, which was
some ten or twelve feet high, and in much better preserva-
tion.

Just at that moment their boy-leader set up a wild whoop,
and, plunging forward, vanished head-foremost into a cleft
of the crumbling masonry, like a terrier darting into a rabbit-
hole !

Somewhat startled by this spectral disappearance, Seymour
Hardy bent over the hole into which their adventurous guide
had vanished, and discovered, to his no small surprise, that
the entire wall, which was of a considerable thickness, was
honeycombed with narrow, tortuous passages, barely wide
enough for one man at a.time!

"Follow my leader !’ shouted Hardy, seized with the spirit
of the moment; and he, in his turn, plunged like a diver
into the dark tunnel.

Quick as thought, the: dignified Mr Cramwell dashed after

G



94 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.

him as eagerly as a boy, all on fire with the thought of
perhaps making some brilliant antiquarian discovery ; and
after him came Flo and Alwyn Dare, to whom this under-
ground game of hide-and-seek appeared the finest fun
imaginable.

But here the procession closed, for its last two members
found it a case of ‘no thoroughfare.’ The gap which had
been barely wide enough for the spare Cramwell and the
supple Hardy, was far too narrow for the broad-chested
baronet or the gigantic major ; and after all but tearing their
clothes from their backs in a fruitless effort to ram themselves
into the hole by main force, they were fain to rest content
with making the circuit of the wall outside, watching
anxiously meanwhile to see their entombed comrades
reappear.

But their watch seemed likely to be a long one; for
although these underground pilgrims had been so quick to
enter the secret passage, they were very slow in getting out
again—and not without reason. Apart from its extreme
narrowness, the gloomy catacomb in which they had so
rashly involved themselves was so low that even the children
could not walk upright, while Hardy and Mr Cramwell were
forced to crawl on their hands and knees !

‘Keep close to me, Flo, whatever you do!’ cried her
father, as he heard his little girl’s merry voice behind him ;
‘if we once lose you in.a place like this, there’s no knowing
when we may find you again !’

And well might he say so. Small, coffin-like cells, which
had probably been used as sleeping-places, honeycombed the
whole wall on either side; broken stairs led away to the
right and left; and other passages branched off from the one
in which they were in a most intricate and puzzling manner.

Fortunately they were not left in total darkness; for the
countless chinks and clefts of the crumbling masonry admitted
light enough (though of a faint and doubtful kind) to guide
them on their way. On they went, therefore, bumping their



MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON. 95

heads against projecting stones, bruising their knees and
elbows, plastering themselves with dirt from head to foot,
and looking around them, as they advanced, with an ever-
growing amazement, for which there was certainly ample
cause.

Every part of this strange fortress was on so small a scale
as to recall in a very bewildering way the legend of dwarfs
and elves with which the far North abounds. The steps of
the stairs were hardly six inches high; the sleeping-cells
would not have given an ordinary man room to turn ; and the
galleries, as has already been said, could only be entered on
all-fours by persons of average height !

‘There now, papa!’ cried Flo in a tone of triumph; ‘you
said there were no such things as elves and fairies, but you
see there must have been some once upon a time.’

This was the very problem which was just then perplexing
Mr Cramwell, who hardly knew what to think of it. Could
the weird legends at which he had been laughing all his life
be true after all; and were these strange creatures really
such as tradition painted them, dwarfish and deformed,
but endowed with preternatural strength and cunning, and
counterbalancing a less than human size by a more than
brute ferocity ?

But his musings were suddenly broken by a shrill shout
from Jamie Blanch, a few yards ahead; and, a minute later,
they came forth into the daylight once more, through another
gap similar to that by which they had entered, finding as
they did so, to their no small surprise, that they had actually
made, in this mole-like fashion, nearly half the circuit of the
second wall !

Their appearance was greeted by their expectant comrades
with a peal of uproarious laughter, which certainly was amply
justified ; for seldom indeed had four such hobgoblins shown
themselves in the light of day.

Seymour Hardy’s face and hands were black as a sweep,
and his hair and beard so white with powdery dust that he



96 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON,

seemed, like Rip Van Winkle, to have passed from youth
to extreme old age in the space of a few minutes. Alwyn
Dare was one mass of dirt from head to foot, and a scratch
on his cheek had bled so freely over his hands and face as
to give him all the outward aspect of the ‘Third Murderer’
in Macbeth ; and little Flo, whose torn dress fluttered around
her ‘like banners to the sky,’ was crowned like a Greek
Bacchanal with a wreath of ivy, which, after all but tearing
her hat from her head, had finally been broken off as it
deserved, but not till it had entangled itself so thoroughly in
her long golden hair as to defy all her efforts to get it out again.

But the loudest roar of all broke forth when poor
Cramwell made his appearance, black as a negro minstrel,
with his trousers torn right across both knees, his spotless
collar befouled into the likeness of a crumpled sheet of black
sticking-plaster, and his respectable broadcloth coat split up
the back in a way which, as Sir Frederick Goldhall cruelly
remarked, ‘showed that he was sometimes behindhand with
his rent.’

At sight of him, the whole party, in spite of all their
efforts to restrain themselves, laughed till they were fairly
exhausted ; and Cramwell himself good-humouredly joined
in their merriment, though evidently rather disturbed by the
thought of having to go back right through the town in such
a plight. j

But, the moment he began to laugh, the mirth of his
companions rose to a perfect shriek—and no wonder. While
in the tunnel, he had wiped his heated and dust-begrimed
face with his fingers again and again, raking long lines of
white over its blackened surface, till he was regularly striped
like a zebra, forcibly suggesting a very elaborate piece of
high-class. tattooing ; and when to all this was superadded a
broad grin, the effect became simply overwhelming.

But all this was speedily put to rights. The water of the
lake relieved the transformed master from his war-paint, and
a few pins summed up the long division of his torn coat ;



MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON. 97

and then, his fellow-explorers having similarly repaired
damages, the party moved forward again.

‘This last bit of work,’ said Hardy, still flipping clouds of
dust from his head like hair-powder, ‘reminds me of how a
man was once taken all over Edinburgh by an enthusiastic
local antiquary, who at last marched him into a pitch-dark
place, and said solemnly, “This is the house of Knox.” “Yes,
confound it, I see it’s the house of knocks,” says the other
fellow, fetching his head a tremendous crack against the wall,
“but I could have found that out for myself !”’

Between the second wall and the third lay a trench so
deep that it might almost be called a moat ; and, indeed, the
whole inner part of this grim old stronghold of primeval
barbarism seemed to be quite as much beneath the ground as
above it.

‘It is a fact worth noting,’ said Mr Cramwell, with the
air of a lecturer addressing his class, ‘that whereas marauders
of a superior class—the castle-building Normans of England,
for example, or the robber-barons of the Rhine—have always
been found to plant themselves upon the highest point
available, it is the uniform tendency of the lowest grade of
barbarism, such as the Bushman, the Tartar, and the Eskimo,
to lurk in holes in the ground, like wild beasts.’

‘So I should judge,’ replied Hardy, ‘from the underground
burrows in and out of which I used to see the Kirghiz
creeping, in Central Asia.’

‘Well,’ cried the young baronet, with a sly chuckle, ‘judging
from what I’ve seen of English elections, Central Asia’s not
the only place where people creep through very dirty ways to
get into a borough.’

‘Goldhall! I didn’t expect this from you!’ said Hardy in
a tone of fatherly reproach.

‘Beg pardon, my dear fellow,’ rejoined Sir Frederick ; ‘I
assure you I would never have ventured upon sucha joke if I
had thought it possible that anybody could see it!’

The third or innermost wall—which, like the others, was



Full Text


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The Baldwin Library

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264,

PAGE

stone-dead.

?

Jack,

here lay Obeah

T


SVP OU 10 Sah

BY

DAVID KER

AUTHOR OF ‘PRISONER AMONG PIRATES;’ ‘COSSACK AND CZAR3;’ ‘VANISHED ;’

‘THE WIZARD KING;’ ETC.

WITH SIX ILLUSTRATIONS
BY

J. AYTON SYMINGTON

W. & R. CHAMBERS, Limitep
LONDON AND EDINBURGH
1897
Edinburgh :
Printed by W. & R. Chambers, Limited.
CHAPTER
I.
Il.
Ill.
IV.
Vv.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
OVE
XVI.
XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.
XX.
XXI.
XXII.
XXIII.

XXIV.
XXV.
XXVI.
XXVII.
XXVIII.
XXIX.
XXX.
XXXI.
XXXII.
XXXITI.

CONTENTS.








PAGE
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES......... Pree eeeNeac ec oesceaees eras
A HORRID MAN . 15
MISSING
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY..........- Boke cne sesetaeaeee enue 32
A ROMAN FATHER :
CUT OFF....... Pn ache Waa ee acc iac seme taecem ences
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.




BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.







A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH............c000e000

IN A CITY OF DWARES........ccsseeeeereeeees eeceaaetes seen . 82
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.....ceesscseeeeeeserereeeees ae 91
AT THE END OF THE WORLD.... . 103
THE BEGINNING OF A, LONG VOYAGE......... Cece res a 113
THE MYSTERIOUS BELL..........sssseeeeees aerteeee sceneries 123
A NIGHT IN THE DEEP..........0::00 Rerceeteeereeees canes 129
WHAT THE DAY BROUGHT.......:cccseceepereerens sedtiwdeceeiesg 135
THE STRANGE VESSEL

OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.. ..........--- 148
A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF........ 7
FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN...........++5 Reese ceas terranes 164
THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD.......::cccscseeseeeeeetersteentee: 175
WESTWARD HO !o.ccccceeeseeecetenreeeest eens Sera dereerseram eae 182



WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST
INDIES... 00... cece ee eee eee e eee e ene eeeeee oa






ON THE PITCH LAKE......ccccscec eee eceeee teen en nen nen eeeeseeeees
THE DISMAL SWAMP........+5 Siinevisbenlaress ticiaenrsesod scenes 209
A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER.....0.cccceceeeee eee nee renee en nees 215
TN PRISON: ci Sccscheesscsedacsteseestetrsneneee ses Wee eee ae 222
THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS ... ,

NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK......cccccccseneceeeeee neers Reece

NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE
MET AT MIDNIGHT.........cccceeceeeenenee en ees abies ome tans 266
A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE........:.c:ecceeceeeneeneeneees BeQTT
THE LIFELESS SEA


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

PAGE
There lay Obeah-Jack, stone-dead.........cccecees Frontispiece.
At last they both reached the foot of the cliff safe and sound..... 51

“I may just as well go too,’... and a third splash accom-
panied his Words ...........cseeeesessseeeeeceeceeseeeeeeeeeeteneaeeeees ee 79

‘Here, Trevenna, . . . come and see what you make of this

CLALGHE eee sree tens ocette ees ee teeeeee eons eteuuerdee cer ‘1000140
The spike of the boat-hook struck home. . . and he fell head-
long down the ladder.........ccccccccceseseeeeteestttessssscsesssssse lO

‘Hi, Johnny !’ halloed Tom, ‘is this the right road to Maraccas
BAY alieivcckcarccasccrectetarierncorctctsteserees sa ses teasers eh tare oreeceen 229




SVP OUl TO ShAs

CHAPTER IL

SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

¢ —

Falk.’S gane! he’s drooned !’

4 ‘Puir laddie! the Lord hae mercy on him!’
|| ‘Na, na, Tam, he’s no drooned yet; I

=| ‘Where?—where? I can see naething!’

‘Yonder, man—straucht in a line wi’ yon muckle (big)
rock, ‘D’ ye no see his heid aboon the water?’

‘Ay, I see him fine noo! God be praised !’

‘He winna keep up lang, though; nae livin’ man could
do ’t in sic’ a sea as yon!’

‘Will they no mak’ haste wi’ the boat? They ’ll let the
man droon before their faces, while they ’re haverin’ !’ (shilly-
shallying).

Such were the shouts that flew from mouth to mouth
through the crowd that stood massed, on a gusty, stormy
afternoon“an the later spring, along the winding shore of
Mainland (the largest of the Shetland Isles), a few hundred
yards beyond the point from which the small gray stone




8 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

houses and quaint little toy fort of Lerwick—the tiny
metropolis of the Archipelago—looked forth across the strait
that divided it from the smaller island of Bressay, the vast
black precipices of which towered up like a giant wall along
the farther shore.

Every class of the population was represented in that
jostling, shouting throng. Brown, burly, red-capped fisher-
men ; stalwart, hard-faced sailors in rough Flushing jackets ;
lanky, yellow-haired ’prentice-lads from the shops in the
town, elbowing their masters in the general confusion ; bare-
footed native women in short blue skirts, with coloured
handkerchiefs wound turban-fashion round their weather-
beaten faces; ruddy children, staring at the universal bustle
with eyes as round as saucers; the parish schoolmaster
himself, in his low-crowned hat and well-worn black coat ;
and, last but not least, a group of tourists brought by the
weekly mail-steamer from the south, who, though the furious
wind almost tore the hair from their heads, and the squall
seemed likely to melt ere long in torrents of rain, kept their
ground manfully on the crest of a low ridge that commanded
a full view of the startling scene which was causing such
general excitement.

For that excitement, in truth, there was only too much
reason. Amid the white leaping hills of water that surged
and yoared below, the head of a man, dimly seen through
a whirlwind of flying spray, was appearing and vanishing
by turns. Twice had the raging sea engulfed him altogether,
and twice had he risen again just as all thought him lost
for ever; but although he was still battling for his life as
stoutly as man could do, it was plainly beyond his power
to fight his way to the shore without help—and there was
no help at hand.

A stranger might have wondered, indeed, hogy it was
that among all these scores of bold and sturdy nen, whose
reckless courage was a proverb, not one seemed to be making
the slightest effort to save the victim who was perishing
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES. 9

before their very. eyes by the same form of death which daily
threatened themselves. But this was only too easily
accounted for. Although nine-tenths of them were sailors
or fishermen, and although they were encircled by one of
the stormiest seas in the world, none of them could swim! *

The best two boatmen in the town, however—men who
could be trusted to achieve any task which it was possible
for human skill and courage to accomplish—had rushed off
at once to unmoor their boat; but she lay some distance off,
and would require some time to get her ready ; and it seemed
only too probable that, before they could put off to his assist-
ance, the exhausted swimmer would have sunk to rise no more.

The doomed man who was thus face to face with apparently
certain death had not even the consolation of feeling that he
had lost his life (if lose it he must) in a good cause ; for he
had been thrown into this deadly peril solely by his own
foolish and headstrong rashness.

A trim little. yacht had anchored early that morning in
the roadstead of Lerwick; and her owner, who was of
course an Englishman (for, as an old Shetlander observed
with more truth than politeness, ‘nae ither man wad be sic
a fule’), had lost no time in setting himself to do the most
dangerous thing within reach—viz. to swim across the strait
which divided Bressay from Mainland.

This, even in the calmest weather, would have been no
safe or easy task ; and it was now made absolutely impossible
by the unexpected bursting of one of those sudden storms
which make the northern seas so dangerous. Farther up
the sheltered strait, indeed, this would have mattered little ;
but, as if the poor young fellow were fated to have everything
against him, he had unluckily chosen to start from a point
close to the southern entrance of Bressay Sound, into which
a furious southerly gale was piling the whole North Sea in

* This may paghaps be altered now; but at the time of which I am
writing, I repeatedly found myself, while voyaging among the Shetland:
Isles, the only swimmer in a whole boat’s crew.—D. K.
10 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

a.succession of mountain billows, which a line-of-battle ship
could not have resisted ; and it soon became terribly manifest
that, so far from being able to cross the strait, the doomed
swimmer had no hope of even regaining the beach that he
had left barely a hundred yards behind him.

- ‘Oh papa! must the poor man be drowned? said a little
golden-haired girl of ten or eleven to a sturdy, fresh-coloured, '
middle-aged man beside her, with tears of pity glistening:
in her bright blue eyes as she spoke.

‘I’m afraid so, dear,’ answered her father in a low voice,
as he stood watching the progress of the tragedy, with a:
very grave look darkening slowly over his broad, good-
humoured face. ‘His only chance is to be able to keep
afloat till the boat reaches him, and I fear there’s not
much hope of that.’

A few paces to the right of the speakers stood. another
group of lookers-on, who were evidently (like themselves)
visitors from England. They were three in number—two
men and a boy; and in each of the three any practised
reader of faces would have found much to interest him.

The boy was a pale, slim, delicate lad of thirteen, with a
downcast look and spiritless air very sad to see in one upon
whom life was just opening. The shorter of the two men
glanced at him from time to time with a look of compassion,
while the taller eyed him with a frown *of contemptuous
displeasure. The man who thus pitied him was a stranger
who had never seen his face till about a month before; and
the man who frowned upon him was—his own father !

The father’s strong, bold, massive features, bronzed and
scarred though they were, bore a strange, mocking likeness
to the smooth, delicate face of his son; but his air of stern
and almost defiant confidence contrasted as strongly with
the latter’s dejection as did the soldierly uprightness of the
man’s towering figure (which might have servedia@my painter
as a model for Hercules) with the drooping head and nerve-
less limbs of the boy. .

Ba"
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES. 11

The second man was fully half a head shorter than his
companion, and looked quite small and slight beside the
latter’s giant frame ; but a close observer would have noticed
that his spare, well-knit form was as sinewy and active as’
a deer-hound, and that his dark, worn, bearded face had
the calm, self-possessed firmness of one who had confronted
countless difficulties and dangers, and had. overcome them all.

The behaviour of the two men was as different as their
appearance. The taller of the pair showed all the tokens
of violent agitation, setting his teeth, clenching his hands,
and beating his foot restlessly against the ground; but,
though evidently excited almost to madness by the peril
of the struggling man below, he made no sign of going to
the latter’s assistance. 3

Not so his smaller comrade. For some moments he stood
gazing fixedly at the whirl of wild waters beneath him,
without uttering a word, or betraying the slightest emotion ;
and then, turning suddenly away, he glided swiftly past the.
skirt of the crowd, and disappeared down the slope behind
him.

The only person who seemed to notice his departure was
the little fair-haired girl already mentioned,-who, with that
strange instinct by which a child will sometimes guess what
all the mature reason of its elders has failed to discern, felt,
without knowing why, that this weird drama of life and.
death was about to take a new and unexpected turn.

Nor was she mistaken. A few minutes later, there broke
out a clamour of shouts and cries to which all the previous
uproar was nothing, while hands were pointed, and heads
bent eagerly forward, in the direction of the spot where the
ridge upon which Lerwick stands, shelving steeply down
towards the water’s edge, ends at last in a narrow strip of
pebbly beach, dotted with three or four rude fisher-huts.

‘Yonder he gangs! God be wi’ him—it’s a fearsome
peril!’

‘Wha is ’t, Sandy? Is’t ane o’ oor folk?’
12 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

‘I dinna ken; but he’s a bauld chiel (brave fellow), be
he wha he may.’

Then the tumult ceased as suddenly as it had arisen, and
all alike bent forward to watch, with clenched teeth and
throbbing hearts, the last and most thrilling scene of this
grim melodrama.

‘Oh papa, papa!’ cried the girl, clutching her father’s
arm with both hands, ‘there’s somebody going out to try
and save the poor man! Oh, do you think he will?’

But her father, gazing down with quivering lips and
straining eyes into the savage sea below, found no voice
to answer her.

And, after that, not another word was spoken. In grim
silence the watching hundreds stood breathlessly awaiting
the issue of this single combat with death, upon which
were staked two human lives.

Again and again the small dark spot, which was all that
could be seen of this self-sacrificed hero, vanished utterly
amid the surging mountains of foam that leaped and
dashed around it ; and the keenest eye in the terrified throng
sought it in vain. But it always reappeared once more
a few moments later; and every time it was farther out
from the beach than before.

It soon became plain to all that this bold swimmer,
whoever he might be, was slowly but surely nearing the
man whom he came to save ; and three or four of the older
fishermen did not fail to note, with secret approval, that he
had taken the water just at a spot where a projecting point
of land would shield him a little from the fury of the sea,
and where, moreover, he would have the aid of a cross-
current setting from the shore in the direction whither he
was heading.

Nearer—nearer—nearer still! The hardiest seamen held
their breath, and the English giant clenched his hands till
the knuckles grew white, while the ruddy faces of little
Golden-hair and her father became pale as death.
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES. 13

All at once the unknown hero rose full into view on the
crest of a mighty wave; and several of the spectators
(foremost among whom was the fair-haired child) at once
recognised him as the tall Englishman’s grave, quiet
companion, who had been standing in the midst of them only
a few minutes before !

As he was whirled upward by the swing of the great
wave, the daring swimmer was seen to wave his hand—but
not toward the shore. For whom that salute was intended
soon became manifest; for at that moment another vast
billow bore aloft on its foaming crest the struggling yachts-
man whose rashness had caused all this trouble, and, across
that deadly interval, the perishing man and his would-be
rescuer caught a momentary glimpse of each other’s faces.

‘He’s a cool fallow, yon!’ said a veteran sailor, with a grim
smile of approval; ‘he can mak’ signals even?’ the grip o’ death!’

But the signal so coolly and bravely made was not given
in vain. The exhausted yachtsman, seeing help so near,
plucked up heart again, and rallied his last strength to keep
afloat till his deliverer came.

‘He’ll do’t! he'll do’t!’ cried a sturdy fisherman
excitedly. ‘Noo, may the Lord grant that the ither man
does na grip him!’

The last speaker uttered the very thought which was in
the mind of every one who heard him. That the brave
volunteer would succeed in reaching the drowning man now
appeared almost certain ; but should the latter (as was only
too probable) cling to him in desperation, and thus fetter his
limbs, both must perish together.

A few moments more of breathless suspense, and then a
shout which seemed to shake the very earth told that the
daring rescuer had reached his man at last. But the cheer
instantly died away, and a shudder pulsed through the crowd
like an electric shock, as a solid wall of water, looming
larger, and darker, and higher every moment, was seen sweep-
ing in from the open sea.
14 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.

On it came, with the quiet, steady movement of over-
whelming strength, seeming to chase the lesser waves before
it with the mere terror of its coming.. The boldest spectators
held their breath, as that dread thing approached in terrible
silence.

And now it was within a few paces of the doomed pair—
and now its foamy crest was hanging right over their heads
—and now there came a rush and a roar, a crash as if the
earth were split asunder, a blinding gust of spray !

When it cleared away, the two swimmers were gone /




CHAPTER II.

A HORRID MAN.

(O sudden and terrific was this catastrophe, that
|| it seemed literally to stun all who beheld it.
One quick gasp, like the in-drawn breath of
| one in mortal pain, hissed through the crowd,
and then all was gloomy silence.

But all at once there came clear and loud through that
dead hush of despair the sound of a lusty, cheery shout,
which seemed to come from a small fishing-boat that was
nearing the scene of disaster from the shore; and the cheer
was instantly echoed by an answering shout from a boat
belonging to the English yacht, which was coming up on the
other side as swiftly as four stout oarsmen could drive her.

At that sound every face in the throng was lifted, every
eye lighted up, and the crowd surged forward as one man ;
for all knew at once that their fears were groundless, and
that the men whom they had thought dead were alive after
all.

‘They ’re a’ richt ; I see them baith!’ cried an old fisher-
wife joyfully ; ‘and the bit boatie’s close up to them noo!
The Lord be praised for His mercy !’

And many a deep voice from the crowd hoarsely echoed
the thanksgiving.

It was even so. The two boats reached the scene of
action almost at the same moment, and the yacht’s crew


Pe ee ee

16 A HORRID MAN.

carried off her helpless and unconscious owner to his own
vessel, while the Shetland boatmen bore back his rescuer—
exhausted and almost speechless, but still as calm and self-
possessed as ever—to the welcome of the shouting hundreds
that lined the shore.

As might be expected, the whole town was on tiptoe to
find out who the hero of this daring exploit was ; but on this
point nothing could be learned by the most persevering
inquirers, foremost among whom was the stalwart, florid,
middle-aged gentleman who had the honour of being little
Golden-hair’s father, and who was no less a personage than
Mr Democritus Cramwell, second master in the great English
public-school of Hollowdale.

Good Mrs Mattinson, the brisk, bustling, cheery hostess of
the one hotel which Lerwick then possessed, could only say
that this unknown hero had arrived a few days before, in
company with the tall Englishman and his son, and that all
three, having left their heavier luggage in her charge, had
started with a hand-bag apiece across the island to Scalloway,
a quaint little ‘town’ which still clusters around the ruined
castle of the same name, on the western shore of Mainland.
The party had only returned that afternoon; and from the
luggage itself nothing was to be learned, the wear-and-tear of
travel having completely obliterated the addresses.

This was all that could be gathered by the honest burghers
of Lerwick, and they were fain to content themselves with
escorting the mysterious champion to the door of his hotel,
having been with some difficulty restrained from carrying him
into it in triumph upon their brawny shoulders.

Evening had come at last, the crowd had dispersed,
and the sun was sinking as slowly as if conscious of the
absurdity of going to bed at all in these high latitudes, where
he would have to rise again in an hour or two at the farthest.
The tall soldier-like Englishman and his son had disappeared ;
their renowned comrade was equally invisible ; Mr Cramwell
was in his room, writing letters for the next mail; and his
A HORRID MAN. 17

rosy-cheeked daughter was sitting on a bench beside the door
of the hotel (with the setting sun casting a crown of glory
around her little golden head) deep in one of the tales of
adventure in which she delighted.

She had just reached the most thrilling part of the story,
where the hero, a young English officer, was defending, single-
handed, a mountain path in the Himalaya against ‘a howling
swarm of dwarfish, hideous savages,’ when a low, clear voice
said in her ear, in a slightly mocking tone :

‘You like your literature strong, I see, Miss Cramwell.’

‘How do you know my name?’ asked the child, looking
round with some surprise ata short figure in a rough pea-
jacket (with a battered wideawake slouched over its eyes)
which had just appeared at her side as suddenly as if it had
risen through the earth.

‘Well, I presume it’s the same as your father’s; and I’ve
met him before, though this is the first time that I have had
the pleasure of seeing you.’

‘Really? Well, I didn’t think he knew anybody up here.
But please don’t call me “Miss Cramwell”—it sounds just like
being at school, you know. Everybody calls me Flo, only
my right name’s Florimel, after a lady in Spenser’s Faerie
Queene. There were two Florimels, a real one and a make-
up; and a lot of stupid people thought the make-up one ever
so much the prettiest of the two, and they admired her and
followed her about, till at last the real one happened to come
to the same place ; and then ’——

‘And then,’ broke in her companion, ‘the result was what
it generally is, when truth is confronted with humbug:

Straightway, so soon as both together met,

Th’ enchanted damsel vanished into nought ;

Her snowy substance melted as with heat,

Nor of that goodly hue remainéd aught

Save th’ empty girdle that about her waist was wrought.’

“Why, I declare you know it all by heart!’ cried Flo,
looking up at him admiringly. ‘I only wish I had a memory
B
18 A HORRID MAN.

like that ; papa’s always setting me to learn things by heart,
and I never can!’

‘Well, perhaps you’re none the worse for that; the most
perfect memory of that kind that I ever knew belonged to a
man who, if there had been a prize for the greatest fool,
would certainly have got it. Isee it’s one of Seymour Hardy’s
books that you’ve got there ; are you fond of his stories ?’

‘Oh, they ’re splendid; I could read them all day long!’
cried the little woman enthusiastically; ‘and he always
writes, too, just as if he had seen and done all the things he
talks about—and so he has, I suppose. Mustn’t it be fine
to know him !’

‘Well, I’m not so sure about that,’ said the pea-jacketed
gentleman. ‘If I remember right, I’ve fallen in with him
once inyself ; and, so far as I can recollect, there was nothing
very remarkable about him ; he looked pretty much like any
other man.’

‘Oh, I wish you hadn’t told me that!’ said Flo regretfully.
‘T always imagined him quite tall and grand, and immensely
strong—just like Wallace in The. Scottish Chiejs, you know,
or Amyas Leigh in Westward Ho /’

‘Well, I hope that dreadful revelation will not spoil your
relish for his writings,’ laughed Pea-jacket ; ‘but if it does,
here’s something for you to read by way of a change—the
last number of Boys and Girls.’

He held out the gaily-bound monthly as he spoke; but at
the mention of its name Flo puckered her charming little
face into a most austere frown, and thrust the proffered
magazine pettishly away.

‘I’ve nothing more to do with that,’ she said emphatically ;
‘T used to take it in, but I never will again. The editor’s a
horrid man, and I hate him !’

‘Hollo!’ cried Pea-jacket, startled by this sudden out-
burst, ‘what has the poor editor done to bring down upon
himself such bitter hostility? Surely he can’t have been so
ill-advised as to reject a contribution of yours ?’


A’HORRID MAN. 19

‘Yes, that’s just what he has done!’ cried Flo indignantly,
in a tone clearly implying that such a misdeed was more than
enough to stamp the wretch who had been guilty of it as a
criminal of the deepest dye. ‘I sent him quite a long story,
one that had taken me days and days to write; and, just
fancy! it came back the very next day, folded the wrong
way so that the paper had got all torn and crumpled; and
inside it was stuck a shabby little scrap of paper just like a
trunk-label, with “ Declined with Thanks” printed on it—and
that was all!’

‘It was most unwarrantable behaviour on the editor’s part,’
said her hearer with commendable gravity, ‘and I hope you
expressed your opinion of his conduct as it deserved.’

‘Indeed I did. I wrote him quite a long letter ; and, only
think! he hadn’t even the manners to send me any answer!’

Just at that moment a passing gust of wind whisked off
her new friend’s wideawake ; and as he stooped to pick it up,
the slanting sunbeams fell right upon his face, now fully
revealed for the first time.

The child uttered a cry of astonishment, and, catching him
by the arm, said eagerly: ‘Oh, I know you now! it was you
who saved that drowning man. How brave you must be!
But weren’t you terribly frightened when that great wave
swallowed you up? at least not really frightened, I mean,
but feeling that you were gone, and could never get
back 2”

‘I hadn’t time to think of anything of the sort,’ replied
the swimmer simply. ‘I was very much afraid, I own, of
losing my hold of the poor fellow, and letting him be drowned
after all; but as for one’s own risk, a man has no business
to think of that at all when any one else is in danger.’

‘Well, it was very brave of you, I’m sure,’ said the gil,
looking up at him with all a child’s frank, whole-hearted
admiration.: ‘But it was too bad of that great strong man
beside you to do nothing but stamp and make faces, and
never help you a bit! He must surely be a great coward.’
20 A HORRID MAN.

‘He a coward?’ cried her new friend, laughing heartily.
‘Do you know who he is? That’s Major Wellesley Dare,
one of, the bravest men in the British army, who got the
Victoria Cross for courage under fire, and came by that limp
of his from going into action before his last wound was
properly healed. You must not be so hasty in judging other
people, Miss Flo; he would have gone at once to help the
man, only—he can’t swim !’

‘Oh, I am so sorry!’ exclaimed Flo penitently ; ‘I’d no
idea he was such a fine man as that. I’ll never call him a
coward again, I won’t indeed ; but for all that, you must be
quite as brave as he is, or you could never have saved that
man. I do wish Tom Wickham had been here to see you
do it; he would have enjoyed it ever so much, for he’s a
capital swimmer himself; he can swim in six different
ways !”

‘And who may Tom Wickham be, pray?’ asked he of
the pea-jacket.

‘Oh, you must have heard of him; he’s in our school
eleven. Why, he played in the last Eton match, and had
his name in all the papers !’

‘I’m afraid,’ rejoined the traveller, as gravely as ever,
‘that, at the time when that famous contest took place, I was
in the heart of an African desert; and we didn’t see many
newspapers there.’

‘Have you really been right down into Africa, then?’
said the child wonderingly. ‘How fine! Was it there that
you learned to swim so well?’

‘Hardly,’ laughed the globe-trotter; ‘for I should have
been rather puzzled to find water enough to swim in there.
Most of my swimming practice was got in the South Sea
Islands.’

‘What! Have you been there too?’ cried Flo, with a look
of undisguised admiration. ‘Why, you must have been all
over the world! I declare, Mr Seymour Hardy ought to
write a book about you—he ought indeed! Those are just
A HORRID MAN. 21

the sort of places that his men are always running off to ;
and I’m sure that swim that you did to-day was as good as
any of the things that he makes them do !’

‘Well, if it comes to that, Flo,’ said the proposed hero of
romance, ‘why shouldn’t you make a story out of it yourself,
since you happen to be an authoress? No one can be better
qualified, for you saw the whole thing from beginning to
end.’

‘Why, so I might!’ cried the eleven-year-old authoress
gleefully, ‘and a capital story it would make, too! What
shall we call it?’

‘Call it A Wrestle with the Waves,’ suggested her adviser.

‘Capital!’ exclaimed the little romancer, all aglow with
this new and splendid idea; ‘I7ll go up and get out my
writing-desk, and begin at once. But, by the bye,’ she added
suddenly, with some slight hesitation and a doubtful glance
at her new acquaintance, ‘I can’t write a story about you if
I don’t know your name.’

‘You do know it, for you’ve got it here,’ answered the
stranger, as he pointed, with a sly twinkle in his keen gray
eyes, to the title-page of the book that she was reading.
‘My name is Seymour Hardy, and I am unfortunate enough
to be that “horrid man,” the editor of Boys and Girls /’




CHAPTER III.

MISSING.

HE sudden discovery that her favourite author
and her greatest enemy were one and the same
man—and that man the hero of the most
daring exploit that she had ever witnessed—
excited Flo Cramwell (as may be supposed)
to the highest pitch ; and as soon as she could rally herself
from the momentary stupor of amazement produced by this
astounding revelation, she flew to communicate it to her
father, who was quite as much surprised at it as herself.

‘Seymour Hardy here!’ cried he; ‘who would have
thought it? And yet, by the bye, I have heard that he’s
rather given to that sort of thing—making his appearance
in a melodramatic kind of way, just where he is least expected.
I must go and see him at once. Or stay,’ he added, looking
at his watch, ‘I see it’s getting late, and he must be pretty
well tired out, after such a day’s work as he’s had. Ill
have him to. breakfast to-morrow morning—that will be the
best plan.’

But in this hospitable intention the worthy scholar was
doomed to be disappointed; for when he tapped at Mr
Hardy’s door early on the following morning, fully expecting
to find him still in bed, after the overwhelming fatigues of
the previous day, the room was empty, and the landlady,
who was already bustling about as briskly as usual, informed


MISSING. 23

him that Hardy had gone out ‘near-hand an oor syne’
(nearly an hour since).

There was no help for it, and the Hollowdale master, who
had as keen an appetite for food as for knowledge, and
digested eggs or cutlets as easily as books, very unwillingly
resigned himself to await his intended guest’s return before
ordering breakfast. But time passed, and still there was no
sign of the missing man’s appearance; and every moment
that went by added to the impatience of the hungry instructor,
who at length—quite forgetting that poor Hardy could not
possibly know that he was to be invited to breakfast that
morning—worked himself up to as high a pitch of indignation
against the absent man as if the latter had wilfully broken
a regular engagement.

‘This fellow seems to be like MacFarlane’s geese in the
Scotch proverb—he thinks more of his play than of his meat !’
growled Mr Cramwell, looking at his watch for the twentieth
time. ‘This sort of thing’s all very well for these harum-
scarum globe-trotters, who sleep when they can, and have
their meals at all hours but the right one; but it doesn’t suit
me. I'll give him ten minutes more, and if he doesn’t come
then, I'll just begin without him ; I’m not going to lose my
breakfast for any author in England, if it were Shakespeare
himself !’

Scarcely had he uttered this valiant resolution, when a
wild, confused uproar came hoarsely to his ears from the
street below. The deep voices of men mingled with the
shriller cries of women and children, the hurried trampling
of feet, the hasty opening and shutting of doors, and other
sounds which seemed to imply the occurrence of some new
and startling catastrophe, in the midst of which the dismayed
listener could plainly distinguish the ominous words: ‘He’s
dead! he’s drowned !?

Mr Cramwell sprang to his feet as if stirred by an electric
shock ; but ere he could reach the door, his little daughter
burst into the room, all in tears, and, throwing herself into


24 MISSING,

his arms, sobbed out: ‘Oh papa! they’re saying that Mr
Hardy ’s drowned !’

Meanwhile Seymour Hardy, little dreaming of what was
in store for him, had started down to the beach for a swim
(as if bent upon showing the sea that he bore it no grudge
for its rough usage of him on the previous night), concealing
the light jersey and short flannel drawers which formed his
bathing-dress beneath a long gray cloak that covered him
right down to the feet, which had already done him good
service in this region of constant rain-squalls.

He was already more than half-way to the spot where he
meant to take his plunge—which was not far from the scene
of his recent exploit—when he caught sight of a slender,
boyish figure seated upon a rock, with its head supported
upon its hands, looking gloomily seaward.

The English dress and dejected attitude told the shrewd
Hardy who this solitary watcher must be, even before the
figure, raising its head at his approach, revealed the sad
face and weary eyes of his friend the major’s son, Alwyn
Dare.

‘A penny for your thoughts, Alwyn,’ said the author pleas-
antly.

‘I was thinking,’ replied the lad, with a sudden violence
very strange in that usually silent and moody boy, ‘that I’d
give anything in the world to be able to do what you did
yesterday !’

The unnatural vehemence of the boy’s tone, and the fever-
ish excitement of his look and manner, told their own story
to the experienced Hardy, who instantly answered in his
cheeriest voice: ‘Well, all in good time. I daresay, by the
time you’re my age, youll have done as good as that, and
better too.’

‘Yes, it’s likely, isn’t it?’ said Alwyn bitterly, ‘when I
can’t even do things that fellows a year younger than me do
quite easily. It’s not for want of trying, I’m sure. Is


MISSING. 25

it my fault that I was born delicate, and haven’t strength
and nerve like other people? They laugh at me because I
can’t do things like them, and yet, whenever I try, they turn
up their noses at me, and say I fail only because I’m afraid.
Catch any of them giving me an encouraging word when I’m
trying mty best; all they do is to laugh at me and call me
names. And the boys at home call me Molly and Jenny,
and say I ought to be a girl; and my own father, the bravest
man in the English army, says I’m a milksop and a coward,
and tells me that he’s ashamed of me!’

The last words were uttered with such intense bitterness
that even Hardy looked troubled for a moment, and made no
reply save an encouraging clap on the shoulder.

For one instant the boy was silent ; but the impulse which
drove him to pour out at last all the feelings which had been
so long and so painfully suppressed was too strong to be
checked, and he burst forth once more: ‘What’s the good
of my trying to do anything, if I’ve no chance of succeeding ?
I shall never be of any use—everybody I know takes good
care to keep on telling me that. I wish I was dead!’

‘So did another boy not much older than you,’ said Hardy
quietly, ‘when he was alone in India last century; but
although his father and all his family called him a good-for-
nothing, yet it was very lucky both for him and for all
England (and for the whole world, indeed, in one way)
that, when he wished himself dead, he did not get his
wish !?

‘And who was he, then?’ asked Alwyn Dare eagerly.

‘Robert Clive,’ answered his companion, with marked
emphasis.

‘Ah! he was different,’ said Alwyn, relapsing into the
tone of dejection which seemed habitual to him; ‘he was
as strong and brave as can be. I’ve read all about him; he
could thrash any other boy in the town, and he got right
up to the top of a church-steeple that nobody else could climb.
I shall never be like him!’
26 MISSING.

‘Well, you may not conquer India, perhaps,’ rejoined Mr
Hardy, with a good-humoured laugh; ‘but there are other
ways of showing one’s self brave beside thrashing people and
scrambling up church-spires.’

‘Well, now, were you ever afraid in your life?’ asked the
lad pointedly, evidently expecting that this question would
prove a poser.

‘Lots of times,’ answered his friend without the slightest
hesitation ; ‘it is only in books ’—and not in any of my books,
Tam glad to say—-‘ that people “know not what men call fear.”
I quite agree with what Napoleon’s famous general, Marshal
Lannes (one of the bravest men that ever lived) said about
that: “It is only a coward who says he has never been
afraid.” For my part, I don’t mind owning that I’ve been
frightened many a time—ay, and very badly frightened
too.’

This frank confession, coming from the very man who had
so lately achieved before his eyes one of the boldest feats on
record, did more to comfort the forlorn boy than anything
that had been said yet; and Seymour Hardy, seeing that
he was producing the desired impression, hastened to add:
‘Now, talking of being afraid, that reminds me of a story
bearing upon that very point, which I’ll tell you, for it’s
well worth hearing:

‘When my father was at school, one of Nelson’s old
captains—an old fellow who had got the name of “The
Fire-eater,” from having distinguished himself in so many
battles, and who was generally thought to be the bravest
seaman afloat—came to visit the school where he was.
You may think what a reception the boys gave him; and
when it was over, and they were all assembled to see
him go off, he said to them:

‘“T?ve got a word to say to you young fellows. I know
you’re rather apt to be hard upon anybody who seems to be
not so brave and strong as yourselves, and that you have
no mercy upon a boy who appears to be the least bit afraid
MISSING. Qie*

of anything whatever. Now, I have something to tell you
about that, which I’d like you all to remember.

‘Tn the last war with France, a French vessel had to be
attacked by boats under the guns of a French battery ; and
aboard one of those boats was a young middy who had never
been under fire before. Now, it happened that the very first
shot fired by the enemy struck down the man next to this
young fellow, and the body fell right upon him as he sat.
The poor boy, who had never seen any one killed in his life,
was so upset that he fell right down in the bottom of the
boat, just as if he had been shot himself. And as he lay
there, he thought, ‘It’s all over with me now; I’ve shown
the white feather, and every one will cry shame on me for a
coward, and my whole life’s destroyed!’ and he almost
wished that the shot had struck him instead of the poor
sailor.”’ -

‘Just like me,’ said Alwyn Dare, who was drinking in
every word with the deepest interest.

‘And then,’ resumed Hardy, ‘the old captain went on to
say: “Just then the officer in command of the boat bent over
the poor boy as he lay, and instead of kicking him and calling
him a cowardly sneak—as I’m afraid most of you youngsters
would have done in the same case—he clapped him kindly on
the shoulder and whispered, ‘Never mind, my brave lad! I
was just like that myself the first time I smelt powder.
Cheer up!’”?

‘How jolly of him!’ cried the boy eagerly. ‘And what
did the middy do?’

‘That’s just what my father and all his schoolfellows
wanted to know,’ answered Hardy ; ‘and old Fire-eater told
’em that those few words steadied the boy at once, and up he
jumped as if nothing had happened. Luckily nobody else
knew what was wrong with him, for all the rest thought he
had been knocked down by the dead man falling upon him.
So he came out of the affair creditably enough ; and although
he was in dozens of fights after that, his nerves never gave


28 MISSING.

way any more, and he got the name of being rather a cool
hand.’

‘Well done!’ exclaimed the listening boy gleefully.

‘And then,’ continued Hardy, ‘the brave old man paused,
and looked round upon the crowd of schoolboys with a look
which (as I’ve heard my father say) seemed to go right
through them; and then he said, “Would you like to know
who that young middy was, who was saved by one kind
word? It was myself!”’

One glance at his hearer’s glowing face, as the story ended,
told the shrewd author that his sermon had done its work ;
and he added at once:

‘ Always remember that story, Alwyn ; and remember, too,
that if you give up trying to make a man of yourself, and lie
down in despair, you will just make the people who call you
a coward think that they were right. What you have got to
do is to prove them wrong, and shut their mouths by showing
yourself the brave fellow that you really are, and that I’ve
known you to be, all along!’

The sudden glow of manly pride in Alwyn’s dark eyes at
the last words was more than enough to show how thoroughly
true they were.

‘I must be off now to have my swim,’ concluded Hardy ;
“but this afternoon we ’ll go for a walk together, and talk over
this business a little more. Keep your heart up, and God
bless you !’

And with a hearty shake of the boy’s hand he turned away,
and strode down the slope towards the beach.

But the effect of his words did not pass away along with
him; and Alwyn, feeling blither and more hopeful than he
had done for many a day, watched eagerly for the reappear-
ance of the only man who seemed to understand and sym-
pathise with the trouble that was crushing him down,
intending, when he returned, to walk back to the town with
him. But the time went on, and Seymour Hardy never came
back ; till at length the boy, concluding that his friend must
MISSING. 29

have gone home some other way, turned back to the hotel by
himself.

An hour later, the two boatmen who had come to Hardy’s
assistance in the crisis of his perilous swim the evening before,
were returning from the town with one or two matters which
were needed for their day’s fishing, when the younger of the
pair, a slim, good-looking, pleasant-faced young fellow, Hay
Blanch by name, stopped short, and pointed, with a meaning
look, to something that seemed like a heap of clothes which
lay behind a large stone not far from the extremity of the
pebble beach already mentioned.

‘Man, Peter,’ said he to his comrade, very gravely, ‘there’s
somethin’ wrang here. Yon claes (clothes) were there when
we cam’ by before, an ’oor syne; and an ’oor’s lang for ony
man to bide i’ the water, on a cauld morn like this. I’m
thinkin’ some venturesome chiel amang thae Englishers—like
him yestreen, ye ken—will hae gane in an’ ne’er come oot
again |”

Peter Nisbet—a grim old ex-whaler, whose rugged visage
had been aptly compared by some local wit to the figure-head
of a wreck—-said not a word in answer to his partner’s ghastly
suggestion ; but the gloomy shake of his gray head, which was
his only comment, sufficiently showed what were his thoughts
on the matter.

‘We'll gang an’ tak’ a look at them, onyhoo,’ said Hay ;
and in another instant both men were hastening at their best
speed toward the mysterious bundle of clothing.

The clothes themselves were scanty enough—nothing more,
in fact, than a long gray cloak and a pair of light English
shoes. But as Peter Nisbet lifted the cloak from the ground,
his iron face changed slightly when he saw on the inside of
the collar, worked in white thread, the name of ‘S. Harpy.’

No further explanation was needed ; for Seymour Hardy’s
inquiry for letters at the post-office on the previous night had
already made his name public property in the little town,
30 MISSING.

where the general curiosity was so strongly excited with
regard to everything connected with him.

The two brave men exchanged looks of silent dismay, and
then turned their eyes instinctively toward the heaving waters
which, still agitated by the recent storm, surged and foamed
below. From the spot where they stood the whole breadth
of the strait between Mainland and Bressay was plainly visible ;
but nowhere was there any trace to be seen of the missing
swimmer.

‘Puir lad!’ muttered old Peter, whose grim, weather-beaten
face softened into a momentary tinge of compassion as he
spoke. ‘Think o’ that! To save anither man frae droonin’
yestreen, an’ to be drooned himsel’ the day !’

‘Weel, maybe he’s no drooned yet—sic’ a swimmer as he
was,’ cried the younger man hopefully. ‘Peter, man, help
me to get oot the bit boatie, an’ we’ll jist luik for him a wee ;
an’ I’ll send my callant (boy) wi’ the man’s claes up to the
hottle (hotel) to tell the folk what has chanced, an’ bid them
mak’ sairch for him. Come awa’ wi’ ye!’

Hay Blanch’s suggestion was promptly carried out; and,
having seen the nimble little ‘callant’ fairly on his way, the
two stout boatmen hurried off to launch their boat in search
of the lost Hardy.

Mr Cramwell was still waiting impatiently for Hardy’s
appearance ; and by this time Major Dare, too, had missed
his comrade, and was beginning to wonder at his prolonged
absence.

No one, however, had as yet any thought of feeling anxious
about him; nor was any uneasiness aroused on his account
even when Alwyn Dare came in with the announcement that
he had met Mr Hardy going down to have a swim more than
an hour before; for the sea, though still rough, was far
quieter than on the previous day, and nobody who had
witnessed Hardy’s exploits on that occasion was likely to
fear any harm by water to him.

But when Hay Blanch’s boy arrived, bearing the missing
MISSING. 31

man’s clothes, with a breathless and excited crowd at his
heels (for the news of what had happened was already
running abroad like wildfire), to report that ‘feyther an’
auld Peter are awa’ i’ the boat to luik for Maister Hairdy,’
every one began to be alarmed in earnest. Poor little Flo,
losing all memory of her grudge against the ‘horrid editor of
Boys and Girls, cried bitterly. My Cramwell, quite for-
getting his delayed breakfast, hurried down into the street to
question the messenger of evil himself; and Major Dare,
lifting his mighty voice above the ever-growing clamour of
tongues, offered a large reward to any man who should either —
produce Seymour Hardy alive, or find his body.

‘You may as well pay that reward to me, then,’ said a deep
voice from behind; ‘for I’ve found the body myself, and
here it is!’

All who heard, turned round with a start ; and there, right
in the midst of them, stood the lost Seymour Hardy himself,
fresh as a rose, and looking as little like a drowned man as
any one could well do.




CHAPTER IV.

GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

| amazed the good folks ‘of Tene ae very
I easily accounted for.

For the first few moments of his sea-bath the
author had been content to enjoy the mere pleasure of
plunging through the clear, cold, life-giving water, and of
feeling himself borne onward upon the surging waves as if
carried by the rush of a high-mettled horse. But all this
was too much like the customary ‘philandering’ of ordinary
bathers to satisfy such a practised athlete ; and Hardy soon
began to look about for some definite goal for his proposed
swim.

His first idea was to swim across the strait to Bressay ; but,
as he glanced in that direction, the trim hull and tall tapering
masts of the smart little English yacht caught his eye, and
suggested a new plan to him.

‘I know what I’ll do!’ cried he; ‘I'll swim out to that
yacht and ask after that fellow whom I fished up yesterday.
Even in this used-up age it will be something new to pay a
morning call by swimming !’

And away he went accordingly, cleaving the water with
that long steady stroke which had brought him in first in
many a hard-fought swimming match, and had saved his life


GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 33

more than once in the Pacific and on the west coast of
Africa.

He was already within fifty yards of the yacht, and just
about to hail her, when another swimmer came suddenly
round her bows, heading straight toward him; and, as the
latter approached, Seymour Hardy’s keen eye recognised at a
glance the man whom he had saved on the previous day.

‘Hallo!’ cried he, ‘you mean to show the sea that you
bear it no malice, that’s evident. I was just coming to ask
after you; but now my inquiries seem to be answered in
advance !’

‘Well, at all events, I’m very glad to have a chance of
thanking you for saving my life,’ rejoined the other, as the
two swimmers, ‘treading water’ meanwhile to keep them-
selves afloat, exchanged a cordial shake of the hand. ‘What
a tip-top swimmer you must be! I used to think I knew
something about it, but I could no more do what you did ©
yesterday than I could fly ; or, perhaps I should say (and you
can bear witness that it’s true), I couldn’t do it to save my
life. Anyhow, it’s lucky for me that you weren’t as par-
ticular as the fellow in the old story: “Good gracious! I
could have saved that drowning man if I had only been
introduced to him!”’

‘Well,’ laughed the editor, paddling gently round and
round his new friend as they talked, ‘as there seems to be
no one within reach to present us to each other, we had
better introduce ourselves. My name is Seymour Hardy.’

‘Seymour Hardy!’ echoed the young yachtsman, with a
gleeful laugh ; ‘well, this is a joke, and no mistake. Who
would ever have thought of meeting you here? Why, I’m
just reading one of your books now—From the Equator to the
Pole, you know—and a capital story it is. Well, I’m Sir
Frederick Goldhall, of Cashdowne Park.’

Even the unemotional Hardy did not hear without surprise
the sudden mention of a name which was just then in the

mouth of every man in England, as that of a young baronet
c
34 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

who, at his coming of age a few months before, had become
absolute master of a fortune of two millions sterling, without
any very clear idea (as he himself owned) ‘what on earth to
do with it.’

‘Well, this is certainly a new kind of way of beginning an
acquaintance,’ said Hardy at length. ‘It seems fated that we
should always meet in the water,’

‘A sign, I suppose,’ rejoined Sir Frederick, striking out in
a ‘take-it-easy’ fashion towards the yacht, ‘that our acquaint-
ance is getting on swimmingly.’

‘That we’re drifting into companionship, you mean,’ re-
torted Hardy, who, like a true editor, was never ata loss for
an answer.

‘Or carried away by the tide of events—keep it up!’

‘Or yielding to a current of feeling. Next!’

‘Or over head and ears in debt to each other, and anxious
to liquidate our obligations.’

‘Or brought together by divers reasons,’ wound up Hardy ;
and, suiting the action to the word, he vanished like a stone
into the depths below.

‘Hallo!’ cried Goldhall, rather startled by this sensational
disappearance. ‘ What’s up?’

‘What’s down, you mean,’ answered a voice behind him,
as Hardy rose from his dive, ‘for I’ve been down and up too.
That’s a trick that I learned from the South Sea Islanders ;
and some of them, I’m sorry to say, have murdered plenty of
men that way, by stabbing them in the back unawares.’

‘Rather a knowing dodge, and no mistake,’ said the young
baronet approvingly. ‘Well, look here, Mr Hardy, will you
come on board and have some breakfast? I’m just going to
have mine, and I should think you must be ready for yours,
unless you’ve had it already.’

‘No, I haven’t ; and I should be most happy to join you,
only my present costume is hardly adapted, I fear, to figure in
English society.’

‘Oh, never mind about that; I’ll lend you some clothes ;
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 35

and as for society, you won’t have any society but mine. I’ve
got no ladies on board ; in fact, I’ve got nobody at all except
myself.’

And, accordingly, the adventurous editor found himself a
few moments later aboard the yacht, ‘rigged-out’ in a suit of
his host’s clothes (in which he cut a rather queer figure; there
being a difference of fully three inches in their height), and
seated over an excellent breakfast, which, by Sir Frederick’s
orders, had been set out on deck.

‘I’d better send a boat to pick up your clothes, by the bye,’
said the latter to his guest, as they sat down. ‘ Where did
you leave them?’

‘They ’re somewhere on the pebble beach yonder,’ replied
Hardy carelessly ; ‘but you needn’t bother about ’em. These
honest Shetlanders would never think of stealing them, if
they were to lie there for a week. If you are going ashore
after breakfast, we might pick them up as we pass.’

Then, for several minutes, the mouths of both speakers
were too fully occupied to have any leisure for talking.

‘It seems to me, Sir Frederick’ Hardy was begin-
ning at length, when his host, with a slight show of im-
patience, cut him short.

‘Never mind that unlucky title of mine,’ cried he; ‘I’m
not going to be “Sir Frederick” to a man who has saved
my life, you know. Just call me Goldhall, and have done
with it.’

‘With pleasure,’ replied the guest, ‘on condition that you
call me Hardy.’

‘Done,’ said the young man, with an air of marked relief. °
‘But you were just going to say something, when I inter-
rupted you.’

‘I was only going to say that you seem to have chosen
rather a curious name for your yacht.’

‘What’s curious about it? I call her the Refuge, because
she is a refuge for me, and pretty nearly the only one I’ve
got. Why do you think I ran away from England, and came


36 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

up here, where nobody knows who Tam? Why, just because
I had too much money !’

‘That’s an affliction which many people whom I know
would bear very bravely,’ said the author dryly. ‘You
remember what Sam Weller said to the man who told him
that he had been “ruined by having money left him :”—“T
only wish some rich enemy ’ud try to work my destruction
that ’ere way ; I’d let him!”’

‘Well, I daresay you don’t believe it; but it’s true for all
that.’

‘On the contrary, I can believe it very easily,’ said Hardy,
as quietly as ever, ‘for yours is not the first case of that sort
that I’ve-met with. Apart from that Lord Aberdeen who
shipped as a common sailor before the mast, I knew a young
fellow in Australia some years ago, who had given up a big
estate in England to go out there and live on his own
hook, saying that he couldn’t stand that sort of thing any
longer.’

‘And well he might!’ cried Sir Frederick vehemently ; ‘I
only wonder that anybody can stand it at all. Every one
thinks, of course, that because I’ve got a million in each
pocket, I’m the luckiest fellow alive; and, as very often
happens, every one’s wrong. I don’t see, myself, where on
earth the luck comes in. First and foremost, I’ve come into
my title and my fortune by the death of my father, and I’d
give ’em both up, gladly, to have the dear old man alive
again; and then, since I came into that blessed money, I
haven’t had a minute’s peace, day or night !’

‘I can quite believe that,’ said his hearer, with a dry
smile.

‘I daresay,’ went on the young millionaire, ‘you’ve been
in Italy, and seen an Englishman mobbed by Italian beggars.
Well, there you have me ever since I came of age; and I
can tell you, if you don’t know it already, that the beggars
of good society are every bit as pertinacious, and very often
quite as impudent, as the beggars of the streets. What do
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 37

you think of people calling themselves ladies—many of whom
I had never seen or even heard of before—regularly forcing
their way into my house by dozens when poor old dad was
only a few weeks buried, with subscription lists, or plans for
endowing the workhouses with stained-glass windows, or
promoting the study of high art among the poor, and all sorts
of rubbish like that! And they demanded money just like
so many highwaymen, till I was fairly driven to give them
something just to get rid of them, as I’d have done with an
organ-grinder or any other nuisance !’

‘Yes,’ said Hardy ; ‘those people go ahead of Robin Hood
himself; they “rob the rich,” but they don’t “feed the
poor !”? 5

‘And that’s not all, either; there are the begging-letters
as well,’ resumed the unfortunate millionaire, who, now that
he had met with a man who seemed really to sympathise
with him, appeared inclined to pour forth all his woes at
once. ‘’Pon my word, people seem to think that, just
because a fellow has a lot of money, he’s bound to chuck
it away to everybody that asks him, whether they really
need it or not. They never think of asking how much it
takes to keep up my estates and to look after my tenantry,
some of whom, poor fellows, stand very much in need of
it.’

‘Well, you see, such folks just reverse the saying of Sir
Philip Sidney ; they make it, “My necessity is greater than
thine.”’

‘Well,’ cried Sir Frederick, ‘of course one wouldn’t grudge
the money a bit, if it were really going to do any good; but
when you give to people in that way, you’re generally giving
either to fools who think they were born to set the whole
world right at one go, or to rogues who consider that their
duty to their neighbour is to bleed him of as much money
as they can squeeze out of him. The last week before I
came away, I got 478 begging-letters—I counted ’em myself ;
and my secretary, who’s a sharp fellow, and has been at that
38 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

sort of thing all his life, told me there weren’t a dozen
cases of really genuine distress among the lot! What do
you think of that?’

‘T don’t think of it,’ replied Seymour Hardy significantly.

‘Well, I wish, with all my heart, that I could follow your
example in that way; but one doesn’t so easily forget things
like that, when one has once had a taste of ’em. Poor people
seem to fancy that if a man’s only rich, he can do what-
ever he likes—oh, can he, though! All the time I was in
England after my coming of age, I never could do as I liked
for two minutes together, I know that! I must do this, and
I musn’t do that; and this was “obligatory upon a man of
my position,” and that was “a dangerous example to be set
by an English landed proprietor ;” and so on, and so on, till
at last I couldn’t even sneeze without feeling as if the eyes
of the universe were upon me, watching to see if I sneezed
as an English landed proprietor should do. As sure as I sit
here, if I’d had just one more week of that sort of thing,
there would have been a howling lunatic somewhere on my
estate, and his name would have been Fred Goldhall !’

‘Yes, yours is certainly a hard case,’ said his companion
gravely. ‘I’ve never had the misfortune to be rich myself,
happily ; but, by what I’ve seen and heard, I can easily
understand that it must be an awful bore.’

‘You may well say that,’ growled the millionaire ; ‘but
Ill tell you what sickened me more than all the rest; to
have these old county fellows calling out to me, as jovially as
could be, “Drop in to dinner whenever you like, my dear
boy ! always glad to see you!” And those grand ladies, who
would turn up their noses at a poor man as if he were the
dirt under their feet, coming up to me with quite a motherly
air, and saying sweetly that “they really must try and do
something to comfort me for the loss of my poor dear father ”
—and to know all the while, as I do, that if I were to lose
my money to-morrow, these kind friends of mine would all
turn their backs upon me as if I had the plague! And then,


GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 39

too, those girls of theirs, who come smiling to me with their
birthday books, and “ We really must have your autograph,
Sir Frederick ; you’re quite a public character, you know,
and your name’s in all the papers.” If my name were in
all the papers as a bankrupt, how much would they care for
my autograph then, I wonder? I tell you, Hardy, if a man
wants to see the worst and meanest side of human nature,
and to see it thoroughly,.all he has to do is to be rich !’

The last words were spoken with such bitterness, that
even Hardy ventured no reply for a few moments; and when
he did speak again, it was with more feeling than he had
yet shown.

‘I’m afraid there ’s only too much truth in what you say,
my dear fellow ; but, for all that, there are plenty of honest
people, God be thanked, among the rich as well as among
the poor; and you may take my word for it, that when once
you’ve got rid of these mean creatures that you’re describing
—with whom every young fellow with money of his own has
to deal just at first—you’ll find that there’s much more real
goodness in the world than you seem to think.’

‘Well, we'll hope so,’ replied the young man more cheerily.
‘ Anyhow, I shall have to go home again sooner or later, to look
after my poor tenantry ; for, come what may, I won’t neglect
them—I ought to be kicked all round the estate if I did!
But, in the meantime, I’m taking a regular holiday, and
I’m as jolly as a sand-boy. There’s_no one to bother me
about anything. I’ve got the brave old sea open before me,
and this little beauty to carry me over it wherever I like;
and nobody here knows whether I’m rich or poor, except
my own crew, and they are all tenants of mine, who would
sooner put their hands in the fire than do anything that could
hurt me. In fact, in all Shetland, outside this yacht, there’s
not a soul that has the least idea who I really am, except
yourself,’

‘The secret is quite safe with me,’ answered Seymour
Hardy quietly.
40 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

‘You need not tell me that~I know I can trust you,’
rejoined the young baronet heartily. ‘And now I’ve bored
you quite long enough with my grumbling, and I want to
talk to you about something else. It will never do, you
know, for us to lose sight of each other again after such a
romantic introduction ; so, if you haven’t any particular plans
of your own at present, suppose you just stick yourself in one
of these spare berths, and come for a cruise with me. The
obligation will be on my side, I assure you, for it isn’t every
day that one gets a real live author all to one’s self. Come,
what do you say ?’

‘You’re very kind,’ said Hardy, ‘and I should like
nothing better than to accept, if I could do it; but, un-
luckily, my duties as an editor are even more “obligatory”
than yours as a landlord, and I must be back at my office
in London the week after next.’

‘You don’t mean to say you’re an editor!’ cried Sir
Frederick, looking at him with an air of amazement. ‘Why,
what few editors I’ve ever seen were all sallow, stooping,
bald-headed old fogies in spectacles, who looked as if they ’d
been shut up in a damp cellar ever since they were born.
You an editor! I’d as soon have taken you for a pirate !’

‘Well,’ rejoined Hardy, as coolly as ever, ‘in a literary
sense, at least, you would do many an editor of my acquaint-
ance no injustice by the supposition.’

‘But what are you editor of, then—a daily paper?’

‘No, not quite so bad as that, luckily,’ laughed the other ;
‘I’m in command of nothing worse than a juvenile monthly,
called Boys and Girls.’

‘Boys and Girls /’ echoed Goldhall ; ‘why, that’s the very
thing that my crew are so much taken up with just now!
They ’ve got three or four numbers of it among them for’ard
there, and they ’re all very much interested in a yarn called
‘At Close Quarters with a Monster,’ which they think first-
rate.’

‘I’m greatly indebted to them,’ said the editor gravely,
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY. 41

‘for that yarn happens to be mine.—Hollo! what’s all that
row on shore ?”

He might well ask. A confused noise of shouting came
faintly to their ears from the town, and several persons were
seen hurrying up the hillside from the beach, while a large
and ever-growing crowd was gathering, with gestures of
violent excitement, around the door of the hotel, which was
plainly visible from the yacht’s deck.

A few moments later, a small boat was seen to put off
from the farther end of the pebble beach, and to keep hover-
ing to and fro at a little distance from the shore, as if in
search of something which she could not find.

‘I know what it’s all about!’ cried the young yachtsman
suddenly. ‘They must have found the clothes that you
left lying on the beach yonder, and of course they think
you ’re drowned ; and that boat there is going out to look for
your body !’

‘T fancy you’re right,’ said Hardy ; ‘and it’s not the first
search for my body that I’ve assisted at. But, in that case,
I must ask you to be so kind as to put me ashore at once ;
for my two travelling-companions are sure to have heard the
news, and I don’t want them to be troubled about me when
there ’s no reason for it.’

‘T'll give you a boat directly,’ rejoined Sir Frederick, ‘and
my fellows will run you across to the town in no time; and
I’d be very glad to go with you, only I can’t leave the
yacht just now. And look here—if you’ve nothing better
to do to-morrow, you might just come and lunch with me
on board, and we’ll see if we can’t arrange an excursion or
two to some of the “sights” of the place.’

Seymour Hardy readily accepted the invitation, and, with
a hearty hand-shake, the two men parted.

By this time the shore-boat—manned, as may he easily
guessed, by Peter Nisbet and his partner, Hay Blanch—had
come so near the yacht in her search for Hardy’s body, that the
owner of the body in question was able to hail the two boat-


42 GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.

men as he passed. Both men brightened visibly on seeing
their lost hero alive and well after all; and they brightened
still more when Hardy told them that he would most likely
have a job for them in a day or two—an idea suggested to
him by Goldhall’s proposed excursion to visit some of the
local wonders.

But the adventurous editor contented himself with the few
words which he and the two Shetlanders were able to
exchange in passing, and made no offer to halt; for, in truth,
he had another and more pressing reason for being in haste
to get ashore, apart from his wish to relieve the anxiety of
his friends as quickly as possible.

His recent talk with Alwyn Dare had heightened tenfold
the pity which he felt for this unhappy boy, whose weak
nerves, already unstrung by the ill-judged indulgence of his
mother, were now being still farther shaken by the equally
ill-judged harshness of his father. Hardy’s keen eye saw
plainly that the stern soldier, himself strong and brave as
a lion, and loving danger for its own sake, was by his very
nature utterly unable to understand or to sympathise with
any one who, like Alwyn, was naturally delicate and consti-
tutionally inclined to be timid; and it was only too evident
to this practised observer that the father’s mistaken treat-
ment, if persevered in, must certainly end in driving the son
melancholy-mad.

On this point, therefore, he determined to speak seriously
to Major Dare on the very first opportunity ; and, with that
object, he made all possible haste back to the hotel, where,
as we have already seen, he arrived just in time to give a
very unexpected answer to the major’s offer of a reward for
_the finding of his body.




CHAPTER V.
A ROMAN FATHER.

SHE moment his lost comrade appeared, Major
Dare sprang forward, and seized him warmly
by the hand.

‘Bravo, Hardy!’ cried he; ‘never say die!
I’m very glad to see you alive and well, for,
upon my word, I was beginning to fear that your charmed
life had failed you at last. You were evidently not born to
be drowned—eh, old fellow 2’

But Seymour Hardy did not join in the laugh with which
the worthy major applauded his own joke. On the contrary,
he looked at his friend so gravely that even the tough old
soldier was impressed by it in spite of himself; and then,
after a moment’s silence, he said to him in a low voice:
‘Let us go up to your room, Dare; I want to speak to
you.’

Up they went accordingly ; and Hardy, having closed the
door, turned to the wondering major, and said, with the
same ominous gravity :

‘Dare, we haven’t known each other very long, but we’ve
been in one or two awkward scrapes together, and that’s
always a kind of bond; so I’m going to take the liberty of
giving you some advice, though you’ll perhaps say that I
have no right to interfere between you and your own
son.’



|




44 A ROMAN FATHER.

‘If you’re going to speak about my son,’ broke in the
major, with a sudden darkening of his bold brown face, ‘you
may spare yourself the trouble, for I don’t want to hear a
word about him. He’s a downright milksop (thanks to his
mother’s foolish coddling), and a milksop he’ll be to the end
of the chapter.’

‘He’s nothing of the sort,’ rejoined Hardy, with equal
emphasis ; ‘but he’s in a fair way to become one, and if he
does, you may rest assured that it’s nobody’s fault but your
own!’

Dare looked at this plain speaker in blank amazement, as
well he might; for seldom, indeed, had any one ventured
to speak so bluntly to the formidable major, who was
popularly reported to have flung a man through a window
into the Thames, for one insolent word.

‘What do you mean?’ he asked, slowly rising to his feet,
and standing right before, or rather over, the slight form of
his reprover.

‘J mean just what I say,’ replied the latter firmly. ‘It’s
a fine way, isn’t it, of teaching a delicate lad courage and
self-reliance, to snub him whenever he tries to do anything,
and cry shame upon him for a milksop and a coward, if it
happens to be beyond his strength! I’m not much of a
gardener, but I never heard that the best plan to strengthen
a flower that droops and needs support is to trample on it ;
and when the same system is pursued by a strong man
toward a sickly boy, it does not strike me as being very
manly, anyhow !’

The major pressed his lips hard together, as if to repress
the burst of rage that was already quivering upon them ;
and then he said, with a forced calmness more ominous than
the loudest anger :

‘Look here, Hardy, you and I have been good friends
hitherto, and I should be sorry if we were to quarrel now ;
but if you say another word in that style, we shall !’

‘I shall not hold my tongue any the more for that, Dare,
A ROMAN FATHER, 45

as you might have known by this time,’ answered the other,
in a tone of stern calmness that contrasted very strikingly
with the rising fury of his companion. ‘I have held it long
enough on this subject—too long, perhaps—and now I must
speak. You are well able to throw me out of the window,
I know, and you may do it if you like; but hear me you
must and shall. I’m not going to let you ruin a fine lad
just because you don’t understand him, and bring destruction
upon him and life-long sorrow upon yourself, without giving
you fair warning !’

The major eyed him with a look which would have made
the nerves of any ordinary man tingle, shot forth as it was
from the eyes of a brawny giant over six fect high, with
whom he was quite alone; but Seymour Hardy met it
without flinching.

‘If the lad really were a coward,’ he went on, ‘there might
be some excuse for you; but now that I know he has the
right sort of spirit in him, and is longing for a chance to
show it, it is really high time to interfere, both for his sake
and for your own. It’s easy enough to call any one a
coward ; but saying so don’t make it true. What would
you say, for instance, if I were to tell you that I heard
somebody call you a coward, no longer ago than yester-
day 2’

The grim soldier’s dark face glowed suddenly like heated
iron, and the strong brown hand that rested upon the table
clenched itself till the joints crackled.

‘Who was it?’ asked he, in a voice that sounded as if
some one were choking him.

‘No one upon whom you can vent your valour, my dear
major,’ replied Hardy, as coolly as ever; ‘it was a little girl
of eleven, who does not appear to dread your vengeance
much, for I see her standing right under your window at this
very moment. If you like, I can tell you the very words
she said. We were talking of that swim of mine yesterday,
and she was graciously pleased to observe, “It was too bad
46 ; A ROMAN FATHER.

of that great strong man beside you to do nothing but stamp
and make faces, and never help you a bit! He must surely
be a great coward !”’

Major Dare bit his lips till they bled.

‘And that,’ he growled, ‘is what they call me just because
I can’t swim !’

‘And that,’ retorted Seymour Hardy, ‘is what you call
your own son just because he can’t play cricket or jump
five-barred gates !’

The major started as if struck by a shot, this view of the
case having evidently never occurred to him before; and
Hardy, seeing that he had touched the right chord at last,
hastened to add:

‘It’s no pleasure to me, heaven knows, to speak to you
like this ; but there’s nothing that I would not do to save
you from- what you’re bringing upon yourself. It would be
no comfort to you to have to remember to the end of your
life that you had driven that poor boy into a lunatic asylum ;
and, as sure as I stand here, he’ll be fit for one in another
month, if you don’t change your treatment of him.’

‘You don’t mean that?’ cried Dare, with a startled look ;
for, like many other stern and rigid parents, he really loved
his son, though he unhappily took an utterly wrong and
mistaken way of showing it.

‘Indeed I do,’ said his comrade very gravely. ‘When I
met the poor lad this morning, he was in such a fever of
excitement and distress, that if he had gone stark mad
before my very eyes, I could hardly have wondered at it;
and the cause of that distress is best given in his own words:
“My own father, the bravest man in the English army, says
I’m a milksop and a coward, and tells me that he’s ashamed
of me!”’

For an instant the major stood speechless; and then he
muttered hoarsely :

‘Tf this is so, God forgive me!’

Even the composed Hardy found no reply save a fervent
A ROMAN FATHER. 47

pressure of his comrade’s hand, which returned the grasp
with an energy that said more than any words.

‘You’ve hit me hard, my boy,’ said Dare at length, in a
voice which he vainly tried to steady; ‘but I know you
meant it kindly.’

‘I did indeed, old fellow,’ said the other heartily ; ‘and
if I’ve given you pain, it was only to save you from far
greater misery. The simple fact is, that, up to this time,
you and your son have not exactly understood one another ;
but I hope that, after this, you will both understand each
other better.’

‘And what would you advise me to do, then?’ said Dare,
in a submissive and almost humble tone, which was strangely
at variance with the air of defiant and almost bullying con-
fidence with which he had opened the conversation.

‘Well, that’s easily said,’ replied his friend, ‘for all that
you have to do is just to hearten the boy up as much as
possible, in place of damping him. Encourage him to try
every kind of exercise that will steady his nerves and
strengthen his muscles ; and if he doesn’t get on very well
the first time, then, instead of scolding him or laughing at
him, just give him a pat on the shoulder, and say, “Well
tried! better luck next time!” Make a companion of him,
too, and take an interest in all that he does; there’s nothing
pleases a boy so much as that. He won’t need much
spurring, for I know he’s just burning to distinguish himself ;
and, when once he sees that you believe in him, you may
take my word for it that you'll soon see a change in him
which will astonish you. Come, youll give the lad a fair
chance, won’t you?’

‘I will, so help me God!’ said the father solemnly ; and
the two men sealed their compact with a hearty hand-

grasp.






CHAPTER VI.
CUT OFF.

EYMOUR HARDY did not forget his promise
to take Alwyn Dare for a walk that afternoon ;
and, not long after dinner, off they started,
heading toward that long straggling headland
that forms the southern extremity of the
peninsula on which Lerwick stands, known to Shetlanders
as ‘the Neck o’ the Nab.’

It was a gloomy and depressing day. A heavy shower
had fallen about noon, and the sky was still hidden by gray
sullen clouds, casting over the whole landscape a cheerless
dimness, beneath which the wide, bare, treeless uplands of
this strange region, which lies almost beyond the border-
line of vegetation, looked barer and drearier than ever.
Far as the eye could reach, not a tree, not a shrub, relieved
the gaunt desolation of these wild moors,* the grim monotony
of which was broken only by a stray glistening here and
there of the treacherous marsh-water, where death lay
lurking to engulf the unwary passer-by.

‘Doesn’t it look terrible?’ said the boy, instinctively
lowering his voice to a whisper; ‘just as if the world and
everything upon it were dead, and only we ourselves left



* This characteristic of the northern islands has given rise to a joke
which is current both in Orkney and Shetland, that ‘it is a hanging
matter to cut down a tree there.’
CUT OFF. 49

living on. Just fancy how a man would feel if he. were
lost in such a place, all by himself !’

‘Such experiences are not agreeable, certainly,’ replied
Hardy, with a quiet smile; ‘as I myself know to my cost.’

‘Have you really been lost like that yourself, then?’
asked the boy eagerly.

‘Indeed I have, many a time, both in the desert and the
jungle ; and, upon my word, I hardly know which of the
two is the worst. Nature is very merciless in her untamed
form ; and when you’re lost like that, you feel as if every-
thing around you, even the very earth under your feet, were
somehow against you.’

‘But you did get yourself out of the scrape all right ?’

‘No; unluckily that’s just what I didn’t,’ said the traveller,
laughing. ‘It’s only in penny serials, I’m afraid, that the
hero “successfully extricates himself from all perils by his
own unaided skill and courage ;” and I strongly suspect that
if my skill and courage had been unaided, I should never
have been extricated at all. In fact, unheroic as it may
sound, I was generally very glad to accept of the first aid
that offered, which was usually that of a savage, who,
although he couldn’t write books or quote Homer, could
beat me out of sight at anything that required special
sharpness.’

While they were thus conversing, the day had begun to
brighten, and a faint gleam of sunshine was just shimmering
through the breaking clouds as our two pedestrians reached
the spot where the long curving ridge of the promontory,
after sloping gradually upward for nearly a quarter of a mile,
attained its highest point, and ended abruptly in a sheer
precipice of more than a hundred feet, around the base of
which, even in the calmest weather, the restless surf foamed
and roared unceasingly.

Hardy, without giving time for the sight of the precipice

‘to tell upon his companion’s unsteady nerves, hastened to
call his attention to the various sea-birds which were circling
D
50 CUT OFF.

and screaming around it. This was just the spectacle to
interest Alwyn, who had already learned a good deal about
them; and he soon became so completely absorbed in pointing
out the species that he knew, and observing the peculiarities
of those which he did not, that ere long he was walking
close to the edge of the cliff, without a thought of the
tormidable depth below.

‘You have a steady head, I see, and a steady foot too,’
said Hardy approvingly. ‘When I was your age, I’d have
given a good deal to have either. I can remember quite
well the time when I couldn’t even stand on the top of a
wall and look down, without getting giddy, and feeling as
if I were going to fall; and the first time I walked the
whole length of our garden-wall without feeling queer I was
as pleased as if somebody had given me five pounds.’

‘You don’t say so!’ cried Alwyn, hardly knowing which
to wonder at most—the existence of such a weakness in his
chosen hero, or the frankness with which the latter con-
fessed it.

‘Indeed, I do; and sorely it used to trouble me sometimes,
when I thought that I should never get over it, and never
be able to climb like other boys.’

‘And yet,’ said Alwyn, more and more astonished, ‘I
suppose you wouldn’t care a straw now for any precipice in
the world ?’

‘Well, I’ve managed some pretty awkward ones in my
time,’ replied the author quietly; ‘but then, you know,
I’ve had plenty of practice since I was a boy, and that sort
of thing’s a mere question of practice, after all.’

This was quite a new idea to Alwyn Dare, who had always
thought, as many other boys have thought before and since,
that a hero’s courage is born with him, quite forgetting how
many of the world’s bravest men have been remarkably timid
in their boyhood.

‘Do you really think, then,’ asked he, somewhat hesitat-
ingly, but with unmistakable earnestness, ‘that— suppose



Mi Siti {/, Yih ;



























At last they both reached the fvot of the cliff safe and sound.
CUT OFF. 51

I were to keep on trying very hard indeed, you know—I might
some day or other get to be—as good at things as you are?’

‘I don’t think so—I’m sure of it,’ answered the traveller
heartily ; ‘you just want a little practice, that’s all—the
spirit’s in you already. Why, your very name is a good
omen in that way ; for what’s “ Alwyn Dare” but just “ All
Win Who Dare!”’

So strange a thing is human nature, that this fanciful
interpretation of his name conveyed to this imaginative and
impressible boy more comfort and encouragement than the
most elaborate reasoning could have given. Hardy saw by
his companion’s brightening face that the desired impression
had been made upon him, and hastened to add:

‘Now, I'll just tell you what we’ll do; we'll get down
to that bit of beach yonder, and have a scramble among the
rocks ; and here’s a first-rate place to get down by.’

Mr Hardy’s ‘first-rate place’ would hardly have been
considered such by any ordinary climber. It was merely
a chimney-like chasm in the face of the cliff, as narrow and
almost as perpendicular as the funnel of a steamer; and
Alwyn Dare, if left to himself, would as soon have thought
of flinging himself down the precipice head-foremost as of
attempting to descend it in such a way. But seeing how
light Hardy made of the whole matter, and having the
depth partly hidden from him by his friend’s broad shoulders
just in front, the boy took it for granted that all must be
right, and, exerting to the utmost the steadiness of foot
and head which he really possessed, got on very well.
Hardy, too, while leaving him to himself as much as possible,
was always ready to tell him where to plant his feet, or
give him a hand in case of need; and at last they both
reached the foot of the cliff safe and sound.

‘Well done our side!’ cried the editor of Boys and Girls,
as gleefully as if he were still a boy himself. ‘That’s what
I call a very tidy bit of work. Look up, now, and see
where you’ve come from !’
52 CUT OFF.

Alwyn Dare did so, and stood: fixed in amazement.

‘Well,’ said he at length, ‘if anybody had told me, ten
minutes ago, that I could ever have got down a place like
that, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it.’

‘I daresay not,’ said Hardy; ‘but you see now that, as
I said, it’s a mere question of practice, and you’ll soon learn
to do things of that sort without thinking of them at all.
I say, won’t your father be astonished when I bring him
here to-morrow, and tell him what you ’ve done.’

‘Will you tell him, then?’ asked the boy eagerly. ‘I
can’t, you know, because it would seem like a brag.’

‘Quite right,’ said his friend approvingly; ‘but there’s
nothing to prevent my telling him, and tell him I most
certainly shall. And now, let’s make the best of our time,
for the tide’s well out, and we’ve got a clear beach, and a
clear sky too.’

In fact, the storm-clouds had completely rolled away by
this time, and the sun was shining brightly in a clear blue
sky, casting a sheen of gold upon the wet rocks, and tipping
every breaking wave with living fire.

To work they went accordingly, clambering over masses
of fallen rock, splashing through clear, still pools, hunting
crabs among the loose stones, pelting each other with
handfuls of wet seaweed, scrambling about the caves which
the ceaseless sawing of the breakers had hollowed in the
base of the cliff, and making every cleft and cranny of
the grim precipice overhead echo with their shouts and
laughter.

Never before, in all his life, had the depressed and
dispirited boy been so thoroughly happy. ‘The conscious-
ness of having at last achieved a feat which even those
who called him ‘milksop’ would not have considered beneath
them; the presence of.a man who, though as famous as
Alwyn’s own father for cool hardihood in peril, praised and
encouraged him instead of snubbing and sneering at him ;
the latter’s frank admission that even he had once been as
CUT OFF. 53

deficient in strength and nerve, and as hopeless of acquiring
either, as Alwyn himself was now; above all, Hardy’s
emphatically expressed conviction that it lay in the boy’s
own power to prove himself a hero instead of a coward,
all combined to raise the poor lad’s crushed spirit higher
than it had ever risen before; and even his own father
would hardly have recognised his downcast, silent, spirit-
less ‘milksop’ in the flushed, laughing, buoyant figure that
leaped so lightly from rock to rock with a cheery shout.

‘The medicine’s working well, and no mistake,’ said
Hardy to himself, with a smile of quiet satisfaction ; ‘I
think my friend Dare will have to own that my prescription
suits the case better than his——Now, Alwyn, my boy,’ he
added aloud, ‘I’ll tell you what we can do yet. We can
climb that big fellow yonder, and watch the sunset from
the top ; it’ll be a good one to-night, I’ll be bound !’

The ‘big fellow’ in question was a huge black spike of
cragey rock, nearly sixty feet in height, rent away by some
mighty convulsion, ages ago, from the seaward face of the
main cliff, in front of which it now stood gauntly up, like
a giant sentinel. Its base was always covered by the sea
even at low-tide ; but, nevertheless, it could be easily reached
by any man active enough to spring from one to another
of the wave-worn boulders around it.

This climb was in reality even more formidable than the
last; but Alwyn Dare, flushed with his recent exploit,
and all aglow from the hard exercise of the last two hours,
felt for the moment as if he could do anything.

Once or twice, indeed, as he got higher and higher up
the bare, slippery rock, the boy’s untried nerves seemed about
to fail him; but, by following Hardy closely step by step,
and carefully abstaining from looking down, he at length
reached the highest point in safety, and was rewarded with
a view which would have well repaid a far more toilsome
ascent.

Far as the eye could reach, the glassy sea lay outstretched
54 CUT OFF

beneath them, perfectly and almost ominously still. Not a
wreath of storm-cloud dimmed the lustrous sky, which had
now all that wonderful softness of tint peculiar to the
northern heavens. Slowly, calmly, grandly, the great sun
sank toward the dark hills behind which he was soon to
disappear, and his dying splendour gave an added glory to
every feature of the marvellous panorama—the green slopes
and purple hill-tops, the long procession of black frowning
precipices mirrored in the blue transparent sea, and, over
all, the first stars of evening coming softly into the sky above
the red glow of sunset, like the dawn of Christianity
stealing upon the bloodshed of northern barbarism.

Long did the two climbers sit gazing in silence at that
glorious scene from their lonely watch-tower, till at length
Hardy felt, or thought he felt (for the air had till now been
perfectly still) a faint breath of wind upon his cheek.

He started slightly, for to him that seeming trifle told an
ominous story, and turned his face toward the open sea,
whence the breeze appeared to come. As he did so, he
caught sight of a faint dimness far away upon the southern
horizon, just on the line between sea and sky—a dimness
so slight and distant that a less keen eye than his would
hardly have noticed it at all, but to the weather-skilled
traveller a sure token of coming storm !

Hardy glanced around him. The hitherto calm water
was already beginning to heave uneasily, and long smooth
swells were sweeping in from the open sea, growing saree
and higher every moment.

‘Well, Alwyn,’ cried he so lightly and merrily as to betray
not the slightest sign of his inward forebodings, ‘I suppose
we may as well be stirring, for we shall be apt to catch
cold if we sit here too long. Besides, I don’t know how
you feel, but I want my tea!’

‘So do I,’ cried the boy. ‘Come along!’

And down the rock they scrambled, Hardy leading as
before.
CUT OFF. 55

The breeze freshened with surprising rapidity, and was
already blowing quite strongly, while the sea-birds, warned
by their unerring instinct of the approaching storm, came
winging their way homeward in clouds through the darken-
ing air, with hoarse, ominous shrieks.

During the whole descent—which was a long and trying
one, for they had to zig-zag quite round the rock, from its
seaward to its landward face—Seymour Hardy never uttered
a word, and kept looking steadily before him, as if watching
for the appearance of something which he at once feared
and expected.

And at last it came. When they at length reached a point
from which the foot of the landward side of the rock and
the way by which they had reached it became visible, the
boulders which had served them as stepping-stones were
no longer to be seen. One and all had been already covered
by the sea; and between the shore and the two doomed
climbers raged a roaring whirl of white-lipped breakers,
leaping, foaming, and dashing themselves upon the sunken
rocks with a fury through which no man living could have
fought his way unharmed. Their retreat was cut off!












































































































































































































CHAPTER VIL

FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.



ta|REPARED as Seymour Hardy was for this

{| fearful revelation, it was a terrible shock to
him—not, certainly, through any fear for
himself, but through his only too well-founded
anxiety regarding his young and untried com-
panion, who, but for him, would never have been involved
in this peril at all.

Had he been alone, the veteran traveller would have
laughed at the whole thing as a capital joke ; and if he found
no way of escaping from the rock, which a man so fertile
in resources could hardly fail to do, he would have thought
little of remaining upon it till the tide went down again,
and defying vain and spray to do their worst upon his
hardy frame. But to this delicate and tenderly-nurtured boy
a whole night of such exposure would be little less than
certain death ; and even should he survive it, he would be
in equal danger from the violence of the coming gale, which,
bursting full upon him on the bare side of that unsheltered
rock, would inevitably hurl him headlong from his dizzy
perch into the roaring sea below.

Hardy saw instantly that there was only one thing to
be done, and he did it.

“Well, we’re nicely caught, aren’t we?’ said he to Alwyn,
with an admirably-feigned laugh—for he knew well that
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST. 57

all was lost if he once allowed the nervous, excitable lad
to take in the full horror of the danger that threatened
them both. ‘It just serves me right for not keeping a better
look-out ; I ought to have known that the tide must be on
the turn. Well, I'll tell you what we’ll have to do now;
you must just stay still where you are, and keep snug in
this corner, where the wind can’t get at you, while I get
across to the main cliff, and fetch up men and ropes from
the town to draw you up.’

‘But how are you going to get across?’ asked the lad,
who, though taking it for granted from Hardy’s confident
tone that the latter had some definite plan of action, was
rather curious to know what it could be.

‘Oh, I’ll get across all right, never fear!’ said his friend
so cheerily that the keenest observer could not have guessed
that he was just about to risk his life on a venture where
the chances were twenty to one against him. ‘Jam yourself
well in behind that rock, and tie your handkerchief round
your head; and stay—you’d better have my coat too, for
it’s getting rather cold.’

The boy would have objected, but Hardy stopped him
by saying gaily :

‘T shall be all the lighter to climb without it, you know,
and you really would not be warm enough as you are. Wrap
yourself well up, and mind you don’t stir out of this corner
till I come back—I won’t be very long. When your father
hears that you’ve climbed this rock, and remained on it
all by yourself, he 11 be proud of you, I can tell you that.’

And, clapping his young comrade heartily on the shoulder,
away went Hardy upon the most perilous adventure that even
he had ever undertaken.

His quick eye had already singled out a point about forty
feet above the sea, where the main cliff and the isolated crag
upon which he found himself, curving outward towards
each other, approached near enough to one another to be
just within the compass of a desperate leap; and what
58 FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.

he was now about to attempt was simply to spring across
the intervening chasm, and take his chance of being able
to alight upon a narrow, slippery ledge of rock on the
farther side !

To almost any other man such an attempt would have
seemed absolutely hopeless. The actual breadth of the leap
itself, indeed, though formidable enough, was quite within
the power of one of the first athletes in Britain ; but this was
only the smallest of the dangers with which he had to
contend. The scanty space of the ledge from which he
meant to leap gave him barely room for a spring, while that
upon which he wished to alight was so narrow that even if
he did reach it, which seemed anything but certain, there
was still a frightful risk of his coming against the face of the
cliff with a shock sufficient to throw him backward again,
and hurl him headlong down the precipice. In a word,
unless he could hit the exact medium between making his
spring with too little force or with too much, he was a dead
man !

But no one knew better than Seymour Hardy that such
things must not be paused over, and that the only way to
achieve a desperate feat is to ‘go at it at once.’ Measuring
the breadth of the gulf with his eye, and marking the spot
where he meant to alight, he drew himself together, and shot
out like a sea-bird into the empty air!

The next moment he felt his feet strike the farther ledge,
and his hands close instinctively upon a projecting point of
rock, while he put forth the whole power of his voice in an
encouraging shout to Alwyn Dare, who answered it from
behind his sheltering crag with a faint hurrah.

The bold leaper had not, however, escaped wholly un-
scathed. As he had foreboded, his face came so violently
against the surface of the cliffas he alighted that the blood
gushed freely from his mouth and nose; but the pain was
almost unfelt in the glow of the joyful thought that the
hardest part of his task was now accomplished.
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST. 59

But was it?

One glance upward sufficed to give him fatal proof to the
contrary. There was still enough daylight left to show him
a narrow crack or cleft running up the face of the cliff, by
means of which it might be possible for such a climber as
himself to reach the top. But, unhappily, the lower
extremity of this fissure lay beyond the utmost stretch of his
arm, and the surface of the rock just above his head was so
perfectly smooth that the smartest topman in the British
navy could not have found hand-hold or foot-hold there.
What was to be done ?

‘I must just make a spring, and chance being able to
clutch it,’ muttered Hardy. ‘If I miss I’m done for; but,
hit or miss, that boy can’t be left where he is.’ i

Silently commending himself to God, the brave man
threw all his strength into one desperate leap upward, and
just succeeded in clutching the rough and broken edge of the
cleft, cutting both hands severely in doing so.

Wherever Seymour Hardy could get his hands up, he
could get his feet up likewise ; and in a trice he had wormed
himself into the cleft, almost tearing his clothes from his
back as he did so, and was crawling up the face of the
precipice like a fly on a wall, shouting ever and anon to the
lonely boy below, who never failed to respond with an
answering cheer.

That evening Mr Cramwell had strolled out with Flo a
little before nightfall, making for the Nab as the best point
for a full view of the glorious sunset. But they did not
escape unobserved by one of the numerous boy-guides that
haunted the hotel, who dogged their steps as persistently as
an Italian beggar, kindly offering to show them the way to
half a dozen different places where they did not in the least
want to go.

In vain did Mr Cramwell assume his severest aspect, and
bid the clamorous boy begone ; the severity which awed the
60 FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.

scapegraces of Hollowdale seemed to have no power over this
sturdy little descendant of northern pirates. But they were
suddenly relieved from their tormentor in a very unexpected
way.

They had just reached the crest of the rocky headland,
and Sandy Robertson was renewing his solicitations more
perseveringly than ever, when all at once there rose spectrally
up between them and the red sunset, on the very brink of
this seemingly unscaleable precipice, a hideous form, black,
ragged, ghastly, with hair and beard as rough and tangled as
a buffalo’s mane, and features almost undistinguishable
through the mask of blood and dust that covered them !

Sandy stared for an instant in open-mouthed horror at this
frightful apparition, and then, screaming out, ‘A ghaist! a
ghaist !’ fled yelling down the hill, to startle the town with the
news that a ghost had risen up from the bottom of the sea,
and alighted before his very eyes upon the Neck of the Nab.

‘Hallo, Cramwell! don’t you know me?’ asked the
hobgoblin, in a familiar voice.

‘Why, Hardy!’ cried the amazed master, ‘is this you?
What on earth have you been at?’

‘Alwyn Dare and I were cut off by the tide,’ panted
Hardy, ‘and he’s there yet, and I’m running for help to
draw him up. I wish you and Flo would go along the cliff
to where he can see you, and give him a word now and then
to keep him up ; for if he’s left there all alone, with the sea
rising around him and night coming on, he’ll be apt to lose
his head.’

Flo and her father instantly hurried in the direction
indicated, while Hardy flew toward the town like a hunted
deer.

The general excitement produced by Sandy Robertson’s
announcement that he had seen. a ghost was in no way
lessened by the sudden bursting in of the transformed Hardy,
who, in his present plight, looked very much like a half-
murdered sweep. But the moment the brave Shetlanders


FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST. 61

heard that there was a boy in danger, and needing help,
nothing more was required to spur them to instant action ;
and Hardy had some difficulty in picking his men from
among the scores of eager volunteers who crowded round
him.

While the rest flew in all directions to fetch ropes and
other needful appliances, the men chosen followed Hardy up
the hill; and with them went Major Dare himself, who
could hardly believe his own eyes and ears when he saw his
‘milksop’ of a son standing alone upon that perilous height,
and heard him replying in cheery tones to the words of
encouragement which Mr Cramwell kept hallooing to him
from time to time.

Not without considerable difficulty, and no small danger as
well, was this involuntary Robinson Crusoe at length rescued
from his miniature island ; but the bruised and exhausted lad
felt amply repaid for all his hardships by his father’s
approving clap on the shoulder, and hearty ‘ Well done, my
brave boy! I’m proud of you!’






CHAPTER VIIL
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

aJUMP aboard lively, Hardy —no time to
lose !?

‘I’ve no wish to lose any, I assure
you, laughed Hardy, looking over the
| yacht’s side as Major Dare hailed her; ‘for
they say time is money, and I have little enough of that
to lose !’

‘So much the better for you,’ muttered Sir Frederick
Goldhall, who was standing just behind him.

Two days had passed since Alwyn Dare’s sensational
escape from the precipices of the Nab, and in that time a
good deal had happened.

Alwyn himself, filled with the consciousness of having
faced danger like a man, and earned the approval and even
the applause of his stern and unbending father, was quite a
different being; and, as Seymour Hardy had foretold, the
major was forced to own that his treatment of the lad had
been a mistake. In fact, Dare himself, after warmly
thanking Hardy for so bravely risking his life to save the
boy, had placed Alwyn at his friend’s entire disposal for the
rest of their trip, with full permission to do whatever he
thought best for the boy’s training—a charge which the great
traveller frankly and heartily accepted.

Flo Cramwell, overwhelmed with shame and remorse at




®
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 63

having actually spoken ill of her favourite author to his very" 5

face, had been on the look-out ever since for a chance of
apologising. But she looked in vain, the ever-active editor
being usually out before she was up, and not home again till
she was in bed.

Hardy’s second exploit, achieved ere the lustre of his first
had had time to fade, had made him the hero of the whole
town; and his feats on the Nab, marvellous enough in
themselves, had been so startlingly embellished by rumour as
to leave the greatest achievements of Baron Munchausen far
behind. Reports differed slightly as to the minor details of
the performance ; but that the hero had leaped head-foremost
into the .sea from a height of sixty feet, swum round the
headland against the tide with all his clothes on, and then
climbed a hitherto unscaled precipice, with one hand dis-
abled by being crushed against a sunken rock, was now an
article of popular faith which no one would have dared to
question.

Mr Cramwell and the major, introduced to one another by
Hardy, proved to have so many friends in common, that they
seemed to know each other quite well already. The two
men, different as they were in every respect, took to one
another surprisingly (perhaps for that very reason), and had
several long walks together, accompanied by Alwyn and
Flo.

Meanwhile Sir Frederick Goldhall had not forgotten his
project of getting Hardy to accompany him on a short
excursion to some of the local ‘sights ;’ and when the author
came to lunch with him aboard the Refuge on the day after
their swimming interview, he found his host deep in the
planning of a trip to the famous ‘Cave of Bressay,’ of which
he had heard so much.

Sir Frederick’s first idea was naturally to make the voyage
in one of the boats belonging to the yacht; but this was at
once negatived by Hardy, who declared emphatically that

they were far too light for the work in hand, and that, short
E

A
64 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

as the distance was, it was quite long enough to be dangerous
if attempted in a boat the build of which was not adapted
for these uncertain and perilous waters.

‘The best thing you can do,’ he concluded, ‘is to hire Hay
Blanch and Peter Nisbet for the day. They’re the two
smartest boatmen in the whole island, and their boat’s as
reliable as themselves.’

‘All right,’ said Goldhall; ‘only we two will be rather a
small company for a big boat like that.’

‘Well, if that’s the only drawback,’ cried Hardy, ‘it’s
easily remedied, for I’m sure my friends at the hotel would
be very glad to go too.’

The young baronet seemed at first inclined to demur to
this, being still haunted by fears of the annoying notoriety
fastened upon him by his position as a millionaire; but
Hardy made short work of his objections.

‘You may be easy on that score, my dear fellow. Two of
the party are a little girl of eleven and a boy of thirteen, who
have very likely never heard of you at all; and the other
two are gentlemen to the backbone, who would never dream
of alluding to your position in any way, when once they
knew you didn’t like it. By the bye, I haven’t told you their
names yet. One of them’s Mr Cramwell, a master at
Hollowdale, and a very good fellow in spite of all his learning ;
and the other’s a man of whom you must have heard pretty
often—“ Daring Dare” of the —th.’

‘What! the Major Dare, the hero of Ferozabad? I should
think I had heard of him! And I shall be very glad to have
a chance of seeing him at last. Bring ’em all, then, if they
like to come ; and Ill pack a good big lunch-basket for you,
and we ’ll have a regular picnic.’

And so it was all settled ; and, at the appointed time, Hay
Blanch’s boat, with the hotel party on board, ran alongside
the Refuge to pick up Sir Frederick Goldhall and Seymour
Hardy, the latter having dined and slept aboard the
yacht.
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 65

‘Well, Flo, are you actually going to venture out in a boat
with a real live editor? . Aren’t you afraid that I may spring
upon you and eat you wp?’ said Hardy in a playful whisper
to the little golden-haired fairy beside him.

‘Oh, Mr Hardy, I am so ashamed!’ said the child
penitently ; ‘I can’t think how you can ever forgive me
for being so shockingly rude to you!’

‘Never mind, dear,’ rejoined the author, patting her rosy
cheek with a good-humoured laugh; ‘if the newspapers said
nothing worse of me behind my back than you’ve said to my

. face, I should be very much luckier than most authors, I can
assure you !’

‘And don’t you really mind them a bit, then?’ asked Flo,
looking up in wondering admiration at this unexampled
stoicism. ‘TI couldn’t bear to have people saying all sorts of
things about me that weren’t true.’

‘Well, it’s just because they’re not true that I don’t
mind them,’ said Hardy quietly. ‘What on earth does it

' matter to me if one newspaper says that my grandfather was
an Ivish rebel, or another declares that my brother is a
Nihilist assassin, while a third hints that a notorious pirate
disappeared from the Eastern seas just about the time I
came home from *China, and a fourth charitably suggests
that the reason why I won’t give my portrait to be published
is that it might be recognised by the police? All their
chatter can’t make their lies into truth, you know, so why
in the world should I care? But come, we mustn’t ‘keep on
talking when we ought to be looking at the view; isn’t this
a charming picture 2?’

It certainly was. Upon the clear, pale blue of the northern
sky, now all ablaze with the glory of the morning sunshine,
hovered a few thin streamers of snow-white cloud, ‘like
angels’ feathers floating down from heaven,’ as Flo remarked
with unconscious poetry. On one side of them lay the
green sloping shores of Mainland, buttressed every here
and there with huge pillars of dark-gray rock 3 and the
66 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

small boulder-like houses and winding streets of Lerwick,
behind which ring after ring of purple hills rose darkly
against the sunny sky. On the other side, beyond the
dancing ripples of the deep-blue Sound, towered the mighty
cliffs of Bressay, in the crannies of which still lingered a few
flakes of the winter snow, sloping down ever and anon into
a smooth, land-locked basin, on the surface of which two or
three tiny boats were flitting to and fro.

Hardy began to point out to his tiny companion the leading
points of the scenery, and to show her the way by which
the wicked Earl of Bothwell, the third and worst husband
of Mary Queen of Scots, entered Lerwick Harbour in his
flight from Scotland, and the rock upon which the pursuing
ship of. Kirkcaldy of Grange struck at the very moment when
he was about to pounce upon the flying murderer.

The two soon became quite confidential, and the child,
gradually losing her first terror of having mortally offended
her pet author, as she saw how little he seemed to think of
it, at length ventured to say to him, with an archness which
became her charming little face very well :

‘Now, Mr Hardy, don’t you really think, after all, that
you were rather hard upon that poor little story of mine,
and that you owe me an apology ?’

‘I do indeed,’ said the editor with perfect gravity, ‘and
I’m just going to make it now. I know that every con-
tributor who has had an article rejected must feel it hard to
have the work on which he has spent so much time and
labour sent back to him like that, without a word of explana-
tion; but that question, like every other, has two sides to
it. Now, suppose you’re an editor, and have to rush away
to your office before you’ve half breakfasted ; and there you
sit all day in a close room, chin-deep in papers, poring over
pages after pages of illegible handwriting, ninety out of a
hundred of which will be of no use to you whatever, with
a splitting headache, and your lungs filled with ‘dust, and
your eyes aching, till you get so sick and tired of it all that
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 67

you hardly know what you’re doing. And then, at the
very last moment, just as you’re beginning to hope that
your penance is over for the day, in come half a dozen more
things which you’re sure beforehand won’t be a bit of good,
but which you must read all the same. Well, don’t you
think that, in such a case, you would be glad to skim them
as quickly as possible, and then pop ’em into an envelope
and get rid of them ?’

Here he suddenly stopped short, for he saw tears beginning
to glisten in the bright blue eyes which were fixed upon
him so earnestly.

‘Oh, I am so sorry,’ faltered the little penitent remorse-
fully ; ‘I never thought it was such hard work as that. I
didn’t mean to give you so much trouble—I didn’t indeed !
Please forgive me !’

Hardy laughed good-naturedly, and kissed the poor little
downcast face as tenderly as if he had been her father.

‘There, there—don’t vex yourself about it. I know that
every young writer thinks all editors his natural enemies,
and vice-versd ; but we won’t think so, will we? And as to
forgiving you, if I were to vow eternal enmity to everybody
who sends me an article that I don’t want, I should soon
find myself hating the whole human race, like Timon of
Athens. Besides, we’ve taken a fresh start since then, you
know. Why, I’ve given you another subject myself—that
swim of mine the other day, you remember—and I shall
expect to see something wonderful, when you have time to
begin it.’

‘I'll tell you a secret,’ said Flo, bending close to him,
and lowering her voice to a whisper befitting a communication
of such awful and mysterious importance; ‘I’ve begun it
already !’

‘Oho!’ said Hardy in the same tone, ‘have you really ?
Well done! You must let me see it, presently, and perhaps
I may be able to help you a bit.’

And then, being once launched upon this inexhaustible
68 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

subject, the great editor and his literary god-daughter found
plenty to talk about for the next half-hour.

Meanwhile Sir Frederick Goldhall was getting on capitally
with the major and Mr Cramwell; for it was quite a treat
to this frank and sociable young fellow to find himself once
more, after weeks of seclusion aboard ship, with no company
save the rough seamen of his crew, in the society of culti-
vated gentlemen, who were willing to treat him just like an
ordinary man, ignoring altogether his unlucky millions, and
the wearisome renown conferred by them.

By this time the young baronet had fully compared notes
with his two new friends as to their travels and his own,
and was just beginning to ‘draw out’ Major Dare upon his
East Indian campaigns—a subject upon which the old
soldier was always ready to talk—while Alwyn, to whom
most of his father’s stories were still new, eagerly drank in
every word.

All this while they had been working their way out of
the southern entrance of the Sound toward the open sea;
but their advance was anything but rapid, for, as not a
breath of wind was stirring, they had to trust wholly to
their oars; and, though these were handled with wonderful
strength and skill by Hay Blanch and old Peter Nisbet, they
made slow progress, for so heavy a boat, with so many
passengers added to her crew, was not easily forced through
the water, smooth as it was.

Any one new to the ways of Shetland might well have
wondered why the picnic party had chosen a day so utterly
breezeless for a trip which, though short in actual distance
was quite long enough for two men pulling a heavy boat.
But the reason of this was explained a few minutes later
in a very characteristic fashion, by old Peter Nisbet him-
self.

‘Well, Peter,’ cried Mr Cramwell, noticing that the old
man kept glancing watchfully out to seaward as he rowed,


BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS, 69

‘are you watching for the wind to get up? Suppose it does
get up, what then?’

The gruff old sea-dog eyed his questioner with a look of
grand, indulgent contempt, such as the captain of an Atlantic
steamer might cast upon some raw passenger who had rashly
ventured an opinion about the weather; and then, after a
pause of impressive silence, he answered slowly and solemnly,
letting fall his words one at a time:

‘ Gin—the—wind—get—up, we ’Il—a’—be—at the bottom
—’ five minutes !’

A general laugh greeted the old fellow’s blunt retort,
which most of the party took for a joke. But Goldhall,
catching Seymour Hardy’s eye at that moment, answered it
with a somewhat conscious look; for, in fact, he and the
traveller had only the evening before had a warm discussion
on that very point, brought on by Hardy’s insisting that the
excursion was possible only upon a perfectly calm day,

‘What for?’ Sir Frederick had answered, with the air
of a man accustomed to have his own way in everything,
if he chose to pay for it. ‘We’re not babies or girls, to
be sick at the first lurch ; and I suppose we’re none of us
afraid of weather! I don’t see why we are to wait for the
wind’s convenience. If I offer those two boatmen of yours
double pay, I’ll be bound they ’ll take us out there whether
it’s rough or not!’

‘Yes,’ said Hardy gravely, ‘that’s just what they will do,
and that’s just what I want to keep them from doing. Both
these men have families to support, and if you offer them
high pay, they’ll give the money to their wives, turn
everything out of their boat except just what’s needed for
the voyage, and then go out with us, and take their chance
of going down. Now, even if you think you have a right
to hazard your own life—which, mark you, I don’t in the
least admit—you can hardly call it fair to risk, just for your
own pleasure, the lives of two other men who have wives
and children depending upon them.’
70 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

‘You’re quite right,’ said the young man, somewhat
abashed. ‘That’s just one of the troubles of having money
—you get to think you can do everything with it, and never
stop to consider what may come of it. Well, arrange it as
you think best, then ; whatever you say, I'll do.’

This talk now came back upon Goldhall’s memory with
startling suddenness at the old sailor’s ominous words ; and
well it might, for he had only to look around him in order
to see for himself the truth of Hardy’s warning.

They had just rounded the mighty tower of Bressay Head,
which, together with the Nab on the opposite shore, formed
as ib were the gateway of the Sound, and were now fairly in
the open sea at last, having on their lee an iron-bound coast
which even the reckless young yachtsman could not but
own to be one of the most dangerous that he had ever seen.
Bare, grim, merciless, the vast black precipices towered sheer
up out of the sea, to a height of several hundred feet,
nowhere offering so much as a palm’s breadth of foot-hold
to the doomed wretch who might be hurled against them by
the pitiless waves. As Sir Frederick truly said, ‘a cat
couldn’t get ashore alive;’ and, fearless as he was, the
young baronet was forced to admit that to be caught by the
wind in such a place would be little short of certain
destruction.

Even the high spirits of the six holiday-makers seemed
to feel the gloomy impressiveness of the scene, and their
merry talk gradually died away into silence, as if following
the example of Peter Nishet himself, who, having admin-
istered his one morsel of ‘Job’s comfort,’ seemed to feel
that he had done all that was required of him, and did not
utter another word till they reached the cave whither they
were bound.

When they did reach it, it came like a surprise upon the
whole party. Flo Cramwell, in particular, was looking in
vain for any sign of it upon the massive front of this giant
rock-wall, in which no opening was to be seen large enough
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 71

to admit an oar-blade, much less an entire boat, when they
glided round a projecting crag, and suddenly found them-
selves right in front of a mighty archway, such as Virgil
or Dante would have chosen for the portal of the world of
shadows.

‘Now, Mr Cramwell,’ cried Sir Frederick Goldhall in his
cheeriest voice, as if bent upon dispelling the secret awe
which was beginning to creep over one and all, ‘give us an
appropriate quotation; you’re the scholar of our party, you
know.’

‘Well,’ answered the Hollowdale master, laughing, ‘unless
I were to spout the whole Sixth Book of the AEneid, I can’t
think of anything so pat to the purpose as a passage of
Cowley : i

A place there is, deep, wondrous deep below,
Which cheerless gloom and horror overflow,

Where their vast court the mother-waters keep,
And, undisturbed by suns, in silence sleep.’

‘I say, who on earth was Cowley?’ whispered Goldhall to
Seymour Hardy.

‘A gentleman who lived in the time of Charles I. and
Charles IL.’ replied the author, ‘and who was thought a
good deal of by the critics of his day, one of whom was
graciously pleased to pronounce some of Milton’s verses as
“almost equal to those of the great Mr Cowley.” But
nowadays, somehow or other, Milton seems to have got
rather the upper hand of him.’

The boatmen bent to their oars, and one stroke carried
them from the bright morning sunshine to the gloom and
silence of eternal night. And as they went deeper and
deeper into the cold black shadow of this living grave, Flo
instinctively drew closer to her chosen hero, and slid her soft,
warm little hand confidingly into his.

But the darkness did not endure long. The ever-handy
Hay Blanch suddenly kindled a huge torch of dry pine-wood,
beneath the red and fitful glare of which, as he held it aloft
72 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

over his head, started into view, all in one moment, a very
weird and startling spectacle.

Above their heads rose three magnificent natural arches,
perfect as those of any Gothic cathedral, the largest of the
three spanning with its massive strength the whole breadth
of the cavern, and the two others flanking it to right and
left. But only a part of the bold sweep of their rocky sur-
face could be seen, so thickly festooned was all the rest with
the richest hangings of every varied colour—bright summer
ereen, glowing crimson, pale gold, rich purple, deep blue,
flaming scarlet, and glossy velvet-black. And as if all this
were not enough, there hung from the dark arches, and from
the rocky walls on either side of them, to the number of a
dozen or more, what seemed to the amazed spectators like
chandeliers of solid silver, studded with diamonds and other
precious stones of every kind!

Not till their dazzled eyes had grown somewhat used to
this bewildering mixture of tomb-like darkness and blinding
light, did the explorers discover that these gorgeous hangings
were nothing more than clusters of seaweed, and that the
jewelled chandeliers were splendid stalactites several feet in
length, as fine as any that Hardy had seen in the Grotto of
Adelsberg, or Goldhall in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky.
But even the decorations of this gloomy spot had a tinge of
horror. As the red torch-light flamed upon the wet seaweed
and dripping rocks, the heavy drops that fell slowly from
them wore a hideous likeness to fresh gore dropping from a
wound, while the restless sea which formed the floor of the
cavern, black as ink where it lay in shadow, and blood-red
wherever the glare of the burning wood fell athwart it,
looked altérnately like a pool of pitch and like a river of
blood.

Slowly they glided onward, deeper and deeper into the
darkness. Not a word was spoken; for the blithe talk and
merry laughter of the living world could find no entrance
into this great palace of death. The dead, grim silence, the
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 73

ghostly gloom, the fitful fire-glow that broke it with a light
more ghostly still, had an overwhelming power which, alniot
touching each other though the voyagers were, weighed
down every one of them with a sense of ghastly isolation.

‘Fancy being here alone!’ muttered Goldhall at length,
with an involuntary shudder; and his words expressed the
very thought which was uppermost in every mind at that
moment.

Suddenly a blank wall of solid rock started out of the
gloom in front of them, seeming to bar their way completely ;
and all thought that they had reached the end of their
voyage. But it was not so. The boat made a sharp turn,
and a fresh vista of rocky arches, and dark pools, and glitter-
ing stalactites, opened all at once before them.

But the second cave was narrower than the first, and the
rocky walls on either side seemed as if slowly closing to
crush them, while the jutting crags, as the spectral torch-
light played over them, took strange and hideous shapes.
Here, a monstrous serpent writhed its endless coils; there,
grinned and gnashed the gaping jaws of a ravenous wolf.
Farther on rose the shaggy head of a lion, while a huge,
black, clawed hand, darting down towards them from above,
seemed to clutch murderously at them as they went by.

‘Just like those wicked polypi that tried to seize hold of
the little mermaid,’ whispered Flo, nestling closer between
Hardy and her father.

And now they paused once more ; and this time the pause
was final. They had reached their farthest point, and, far
down in the sunless depths beyond, they could hear the
sullen roar of unseen waters, rolling unchecked where man’s
presence had never been.

‘T suppose there’s no man ever been in there?’ asked the
major.

‘Ay, there was one!’ answered Hay Blanch; and some-
thing in his tone made all the listeners shudder in spite of
themselves.
74 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

And then, in-a voice wholly unlike his own, so strangely
did its harsh, hollow echo come back from the dark caverns
around, he went on:

‘Puir Robbie Anderson! he was aye (always) a venture-
some chiel; and when the auld fishermen spak’ o’ yon place
where nae man had been, naething wad serve him but he
maun gang and do’t himsel’. Sair, sair we pled wi’ him no to
fling his life awa’; but he wadna be guided, God forgi’e him !
I think I can see him noo, jist as he stood up i’ the black
‘mouth o’ the fearsome cavern to tak’ his last luik o’ the day-
light, wi’ the sun glintin’ on his bonnie face and his bright
hair, as he smiled and waved his han’ to us a. And sae
(as the Gude Buik saith) he went doon alive into the pit—
and he ne’er cam’ back ony mair!’

Told in such a place, the dreadful story, and the grim
emphasis of its teller, chilled the boldest of its hearers with
secret horror; and all felt relieved when they passed from
that gloomy dungeon to the light of day, little dreaming that
the deadliest peril of all was waiting there to overwhelm
them.






CHAPTER IX.
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH,

==I))S they emerged from the cavern, old Peter
1, Nisbet glanced instinctively to windward as
usual ; and instantly his firm lips compressed
themselves so tightly as to make his hard
old face look harder than ever. Not a word
did those set lips utter; but his significant nod evidently
spoke volumes to Hay Blanch, who, after gazing fixedly for
an instant in the same direction, answered with a look of
grave meaning.

Nothing of this by-play had escaped the observant Hardy,
who needed no explanation of its terrible import. The wind
was rising at last, and the old whaler’s grim prophecy that
if it did rise, they would all go to the bottom, seemed but
too likely to be accomplished to the letter !

This was no time for hesitation or reserve. Hardy leaned
over to his friend the major, who was just setting to work
to unpack their lunch-basket, and conveyed to him, in a
hurried whisper, that a few minutes more would probably
see them all face to face with almost certain destruction.

Such a revelation, so suddenly made, would have sorely
tried the nerves of any ordinary man; but the hardy soldier,
to whom the sudden facing of instant and violent death had
for years been quite an every-day matter, received it coolly
enough. His face never changed one whit, and the strong


76 A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.

hands which were uncording the basket pursued their task
as steadily as ever.

‘Well, there’s nothing we can do but just sit still,’ whis-
pered he in reply, ‘for the boat has only two oars, and these
two fellows handle ’em far better than we could do. Don’t
say anything to the rest, for it’s no use frightening the chil-
dren.—-They’ll find it all out quite soon enough,’ he added
with grim significance.

In the meantime Flo and Alwyn had seen nothing to alarm
them, and had no idea whatever that anything was wrong ;
nor, indeed, had Mr Cramwell himself, who, although no
novice in travelling, had had little experience of the sea.
But Sir Frederick Goldhall, if a young baronet, was an old
yachtsman ; and though the slight but ominous signs of
coming storm which the two sailors had so quickly discerned
were still imperceptible to his less practised senses, he was
not long in divining that some special danger must be close
at hand.

A quick glance telegraphed this to Hardy and the major,
who replied with a cautioning gesture which Goldhall -per-
fectly understood.

‘Well, I suppose we may as well have lunch now,’ said
Dare, as cheerily as if he were only presiding over an or-
dinary picnic, instead of what might well be his last meal
on earth. ‘Hardy, will you help me to serve out the
rations ?’

The author did so, and in a trice every one was supplied,
while poor little Flo, still ignorant of the doom that was
darkening over them all, laughed gleefully as she saw the
various good things taken out in succession, and declared that
Sir Frederick was ‘like one of those good fairies in the story-
books, you know, who used to give people enchanted baskets
in which they found whatever they liked to wish for.’

Meanwhile the two sturdy boatmen were pulling their
hardest in this race with death ; and Major Dare, anxious to
sustain their strength to the utmost, offered them a share of
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH. elt

the food, even volunteering to feed them with his own hands
while they rowed.

But both men stoutly refused the tempting offer.

‘It’s no a time to think o’ that noo,’ said old Peter in a
tone of quiet rebuke. ‘It was a’ varra weel for thae feckless
haythens 7? puir St Paul’s crew to tak’ their dinner when the
ship was near-han’ sinkin’; but auld Peter Nisbet winna do
the like !’

And Hay Blanch approved his partner’s blunt verdict with
an emphatic nod.

By this time the signs of coming evil were too plain to be
mistaken. The surface of the water, hitherto smooth as
glass, was just beginning to be ruffled by those light ripples
which seamen call ‘cat’s paws.’ The still air was faintly
stirred by the first breath of the rising wind; and, far to
the southward, a surging line of ‘white-caps’ had already
become visible along the horizon.

‘Oh, just see those pretty white waves yonder!’ cried
Flo, clapping her tiny hands gleefully. ‘I wish they were
just a little nearer, so that we could see them quite plain! I
do so like to watch them !’

As the unconscious child prattled on, Dare set his lips
tightly, and Sir Frederick drew his breath hard, as if in pain,
while turning his eyes from the distant line of foam to the
towering headland beyond which lay safety. How terribly
far away it seemed! and, every time he looked at it, it
appeared farther and farther still.

‘Why do you work so hard, Hay? We’ve got plenty of
time, you know,’ said Flo, springing up and laying her hand
upon Hay Blanch’s shoulder. ‘Leave off and rest a bit, and
I'll give you a piece of my tart.’

The brave Shetlander answered only by looking sadly at
the bright, fresh little face which might so soon be fathoms
deep beneath the cruel sea; but just then Hardy, prompt as
ever, came to his assistance.

‘It’s going to rain presently, Flo, and you know it wouldn’t
78 A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.

be at all nice to get wet through,’ said he, with a laugh which
ought to have made his fortune, had he been an actor; ‘and
it’s very kind of Hay to work so hard to get us home before
it comes on. Sit down here, and have a bit of this cake,
while Hay and Peter show us how they can go along.’

The two gallant boatmen did indeed ‘go along’ like men
fighting for their lives, and for other lives than their own ;
and even in that deadly crisis Sir Frederick Goldhall (him-
self no mean oarsman) noted approvingly the wonderful skill
with which they made every stroke tell to the utmost. But
the effort of forcing so heavy a load through the water was
too exhausting to be long maintained; and it now seemed
only too certain that this match with death, the stake of
which was eight human lives, would be a losing one after
all. k

By this time even Mr Cramwell himself was beginning to
look uneasy ; and Hardy, seeing that he had already half
guessed how matters stood, whispered to him the whole truth.
Nota word spoke Cramwell in reply to that fearful disclosure ;
but the look that he cast at the tiny figure by his side said
more than any words.

Meanwhile the major was making the same communication
to his son ; and the father saw with secret pride that, although
the boy’s cheek grew pale for a moment, and a startled look
came into his eyes, the glow which instantly lighted up his
delicate face showed that the native courage of his race had
risen to meet the trial.

‘What am I to do father?’ asked the lad eagerly.

‘Put a life-buoy round Flo, and get another on yourself,
and then sit quite still—that’s all that can be done just now.
When the time comes, I’Il tell you what to do.’

Stronger and stronger came the rising wind upon their faces ;
nearer and nearer swept the advancing line of foam; while
the vast rocky headland which was their sole refuge from
destruction loomed out tantalisingly beyond them, to all
appearance as far away as ever.








‘I may just as well go too, . . . anda third splash accompanied his words.
F
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH. 79

And all this while the sky was blue and bright above them,
and the sun shone in cloudless glory, and the pitiless sea that
was hungering to devour them all, danced and sparkled merrily
in the light. It seemed as if all the fullness of life were
outspread before the doomed men in their last moments to
heighten the bitterness of death.

But all at once Seymour Hardy, who had been silent and
thoughtful for some moments, leaped to his feet and called
out: ‘If the boat were lightened a bit, we might do it yet.
Here goes!’ And flinging off his coat and shoes ere any one
could tell what was coming, he coolly jumped overboard, and
began to swim alongside the boat.

‘Follow my leader !’ shouted the young baronet as gleefully
as if they were only playing a game; and the splash of his
plunge followed Hardy’s like an echo.

‘Well, I’m as heavy as both of you put together,’ said
Major Dare coolly, ‘and so I may just as well go too;’
and a third and far louder splash accompanied his last
words.

‘What are you at, Dare?’ cried Hardy. ‘You forget that
you can’t swim !’

‘I’ve put on a life-buoy,’ answered the major quietly,
‘and I’ll be bound I’ll manage to get through the water
somehow ; and, if not, better drown one than all. Alwyn!
what are you doing? Sit still!’

The order was given not a whit too soon; for Alwyn Dare,
eager to give some proof of his courage which no one could
mistake, was just on the point of plunging into the sea after
his father.

‘Stay still, my boy,’ called out Hardy. ‘Your weight
wouldn’t make much difference, and you’ll be more use where
you are. Stay still, and take care of Flo.’

Just then, however, Flo did not seem to need much taking
care of; for she was clapping her plump little hands and
shouting with laughter at the sight of her companions jumping
into the sea with their clothes on, evidently regarding this
80 A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.

diving epidemic as a new and very amusing game, and a
regular part of the day’s fun. But Mr Cramwell’s heart sank
within him as he realised for the first time the greatness of the
peril which could drive even his cool and experienced com-
rades to such a desperate resource.

The generous sacrifice, however, had not been made in vain.
The boat, thus suddenly relieved from a weight of more than
five hundred pounds, visibly quickened her speed, and the
swimmers soon perceived that, if not checked by some un-
foreseen accident, she would, after all, be safe behind the
sheltering headland ere the impending storm burst.

But what about themselves ?

What, indeed? Had they been alone, such swimmers as
Hardy and Goldhall could have gone quite as fast as the
boat; but it was a very different matter when they were
coupled with a man who could not swim at all. In fact, poor
Major Dare found himself mistaken, like many others, in
supposing that there could be no great mystery in the art of
swimming, and that all one had to do was to strike out
vigorously. He did so, but only found himself floundering
awkwardly about in one place without advancing a foot ; and
his two comrades were forced to take hold of him, one on
each side, and literally tow him along, thereby, of course,
perilously retarding their own progress.

One glance over the stern of the receding boat told Mr
Cramwell how matters stood; and he muttered tremulously
under his breath: ‘God help them !’

‘Look here, you two,’ said the major to his comrades, ‘I’m
only keeping you back ; go ahead, and let me take my chance.’

‘I'll see you cashiered first,’ answered Hardy as coolly as
ever.

‘Hurrah !’ shouted Sir Frederick at that moment. ‘There
goes the boat round the Point at last—she’s all safe now !’

‘Thank God!’ said Major Dare ; ‘then it doesn’t matter so
much what becomes of us. Now, if I could only swim!’
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH. 81

‘Would you like to try a bit?’ suggested Hardy ; ‘I'll tell
you what to do.’

He gave Dare a few simple directions, which the major
obeyed to the letter, and soon found himself, to his great
delight, actually making some progress.

But the sea was getting higher every moment, while the
swimmers, hampered by their wet clothes, were beginning to
flag. And now there burst upon them such a blinding squall
of vain that they could as little tell where the shore lay, or
which way to head for it, as if they had been actually blind.

There was a sudden clamour of hoarse voices close beside
them, a gust of flying spray, a rattle of spars and cordage, a
heavy shock, and then they felt themselves seized and dragged
aboard a light fishing-smack, which, running before the wind
for the entrance of the Sound, had come up just in time to
save them.

‘Well,’ panted Major Dare, as the rescuing boat carried
them past the Point into the sheltered roadstead a few
moments later, ‘I’ve gained one thing by this business,
anyhow—I’ve learned to swim !’




CHAPTER X.
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

==))|RE ye gangin’ oot, sir? Yell be for gangin’ till
| the Fort, then, I’m thinkin’?

This query was addressed to Mr Cramwell,
as he stood at the hotel door, on the second
morning after the memorable expedition to the
Bressay cave ; and the speaker was one of those sturdy little
shock-headed urchins, whose berry-brown faces and bright
blue eyes swarm in every corner of the metropolis of
Shetland, ever on the look-out for a chance of picking
up a stray sixpence by piloting some ‘Southron’ visitor
to one of the many points of interest in the neighbour-
hood.

The boy’s face seemed familiar to Cramwell, and, looking
closer at him, he recognised Hay Blanch’s ‘callant,’ whose
sudden arrival with Seymour Hardy’s abandoned clothes, and
the news of the latter’s supposed death, had startled the whole
hotel a few days before.

‘The Fort!’ echoed the Englishman, with a disdainful
glance toward the rickety little mound of gray, crumbling
stones (with half a dozen veterans, aged and infirm enough for
a Greek chorus, to be defended by it) which forms the citadel
of Lerwick. ‘What on earth is there to be seen there, except
a couple of guns too cracked to be fired, and three or four old
cripples too shaky to fire them 9’


IN A CITY OF DWARFS. 83

‘ Hoot, sir, it’s no Fort Chairlotte I’m speakin’ o’; it’s the
Peghtish fort in the loch, oot by’ (yonder).

‘A Pictish fort, eh?’ repeated the Hollowdale master, with
sparkling eyes, for he was a bit of an antiquary as well asa
scholar. ‘I never knew that you had one here.’

The urchin swept the grave scholar from head to foot with
one glance of grand and massive contempt for the latter’s gross
ignorance.

‘Ne’er heard o’ oor Peghtish fort! ‘Losh, man! where can
ye hae lived a’ yere days? It’s just the varra thing that
a’ body (every one) here gaes to luik at. Will I shaw ye the
way till’t?’

‘Well, I'll tell you what, my good hoy,’ said Mr Cramwell,
after a moment’s consideration, ‘I can’t go with you now,
because I’m expecting a friend to breakfast; but if you'll
come back in about an hour’s time, very likely we may all go
to see the Pictish fort together.’

‘Varra gude,’ replied Jamie Blanch with alacrity; and
away he went, showing all his splendid white teeth in a
broad grin of satisfaction at having thus made sure of his
day’s job. :

The friend whom Mr Cramwell was expecting was no less
a personage than Sir Frederick Goldhall himself; for the
acquaintance so strangely begun had been cemented by the
peril through which our travellers had passed in company two
days before ; and the whole six—Seymour Hardy, the major
and his son, Mr Cramwell, little Flo, and the millionaire
baronet—were by this time on so familiar a footing as to be
like members of the same party. On the previous day they
had all lunched aboard Sir Frederick’s yacht, and had invited
him to breakfast with them at the hotel, with the under-
standing that, when breakfast was over, they should all
(weather permitting) make an excursion to one or other of
the ‘sights’ in the neighbourhood ; so that Jamie’s mention
of the Pictish fort came just at the right moment, as all the
84 IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

guests agreed when Mr Cramwell announced this discovery at
the breakfast-table.

‘Who on earth were the Picts, by the bye?’ asked Sir
Frederick. ‘I fancy I learnt something about ’em at school ;
but if I did, I’ve forgotten it again, as one generally does.
Were they called Picts because they were all picked men ?’

‘More likely because they had such a wonderful gift of
picking up other people’s property,’ said Hardy. ‘But here’s
Mr Cramwell, who has all history at his finger-ends ; he will
tell us everything that is known about them.’

‘I can easily do that,’ rejoined the Hollowdale master with
a quiet smile, ‘for nothing is known about them at all with
any certainty. Their very name is a matter of dispute ; for
while some derive it from the Latin “ Picti” (painted), from
their habit of painting their bodies (which it’s not certain
that they did, by the bye), others make it out to be a Celtic
name, and write it variously Piks, Peghts, Piochts, Piaghts,
or Peughts.’

‘I suppose we may take our choice of names,’ whispered
Sir Frederick Goldhall to his right-hand neighbour, Seymour
Hardy.

‘Of their language,’ continued Mr Cramwell, ‘there is but
one word left—‘ Benval”—which is just enough to set anti-
quaries fighting as to whether it was a Celtic or a Gothic
dialect. As for themselves, if history speak truth (which it
very seldom does), they were a race of barbarians that haunted
the north of Scotland and the adjacent isles, and were con-
stantly quarrelling with their fellow-savages the Scoti or
Scots, who at length exterminated them to the last man, after
the convenient fashion of the good old times.’

‘I have nothing to add to the statement of the honourable
member who has just sat down,’ said Hardy, ‘except that the
popular traditions of northern Scotland represent these Picts
or Peghts as a race of savage and very ugly dwarfs, as squat,
long-armed, and generally monkey-like as any of the black
dwarfs of South Africa.’


IN A CITY OF DWARFS. 85

‘What! have you really seen them—the same that Stanley
met?’ cried Flo Cramwell excitedly.

‘No, not those same ones. I didn’t get far enough up the
Congo for that; but on the Orange River, farther south, I
came across some dwarfs that no respectable monkey would
think of shaking paws with.’

‘I can quite believe that,’ chimed in the young baronet,
laughing ; ‘but, judging from what I’ve seen of the municipal
authorities in certain country towns of old England, one
needn’t go from home to fall in with very little men who are
a good deal like monkeys.’

‘ Well, here’s our friend Jamie Blanch coming to fetch us,
I see,’ said Mr Cramwell, whose seat was nearest to the
window, ‘so, I suppose, we had better be getting ready to
start.’

They did so in a trice, and were just about to set off,
when it suddenly occurred to Mr Cramwell that the walk
might perhaps prove too long for his little Flo; and he
inquired of Jamie what the distance was to the Pictish
fort.

‘No that far,’ answered the lad with true Scottish in-
directness.

This sounded rather vague, and for a moment Cramwell
hesitated ; but Flo (who was, indeed, no mean pedestrian)
protested so vehemently against being left behind on such
an occasion, that her father at length yielded, the stalwart
major having pledged himself to carry her home on his
shoulder in case she felt tired.

‘Or, if the worst comes to the worst,’ suggested Hardy,
‘we can easily catch a pony for her. That’s the regular
thing in these parts, you know. There are always plenty
of ’em straying about—there go a lot of them yonder, you
see, this very minute—and all you have to do is to catch
and mount whichever one you like, ride him as far as you
please, and then jump off and turn him loose, and he’s
safe to find his way home all right.’
86 IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

Away they went accordingly in the bright morning sun-
shine, with the bracing sea-air filling their lungs, and making
every nerve and sinew bound with a fresh life of its own.

Is there any pleasure, after all, equal to that of scouring
an untried bit of country in the freshness of early morning,
with the swing of a stride that can do anything up to five
miles an hour, and never flag +—a bright, clear sky overhead,
a boundless perspective of new scenery opening around, and
every limb and muscle tingling with honest, healthy exertion
till the mere sense of living becomes a pleasure of itself.
And even should the ground wax rough and broken, or
the sky cloud over and break into pelting rain, what matter ?
It is ‘all in the day’s work,’ and merely a pleasure of another
kind, dearer than any other, perhaps, to John Bull’s com-
bative nature—the pleasure of having a hard struggle with
difficulties, and overcoming them all.

So felt all our pedestrians, from the big Major Dare to
the small Flo Cramwell ; but the staunch little heroine found
both her breath and her strength sorely tested by this
prolonged ascent (for their way was all up-hill), and felt
rather inclined to envy the tireless activity of their boy-
guide, who, though fully a year younger and considerably
smaller than Flo herself, led the way up slope after slope
with a springy stride worthy of the nimblest warrior in
Montenegro.

‘That little fellow goes along like a bird,’ said Hardy to
Goldhall. ‘What an illustration he’d make for Locksley
Hall / He’s just the very model of one of those “ iron-jointed,
supple-sinewed,” young savages whom the hero proposed to
rear. J wish Tennyson were here to touch him off.’

‘Well, as Tennyson isn’t here, suppose you do it for him,’
rejoined the baronet. ‘Tip us a poem on the ‘noble savage ;’
you seem to be able to reel off verses as easily as you do
everything else.’

‘T’ll try, if you like,’ answered the author; and he at
once began to extemporise as follows:
IN A CITY OF DWARFS. 87

«Over mountain, over moorland, scorning wind and rain and dirt,
Nothing with me but a sandwich, nothing on me but a shirt.

All in vain the distance blackens ! forward, forward let us range ;
If we do get wet, no matter—when ’tis over, we can change.

There, methinks, would be enjoyment, more than in our morning
calls,
In the meerschaum, in the novel, in the roll of billiard balls.

There the muscles, cramped no longer, shall have scope and
breathing-space,
I will do my five miles hourly—that ’s about a decent pace.

Iron-jointed, supple-sinewed, we can dive and we can run,
Splash thro’ every stream we meet, and dry our flannels in the sun.

Trammelled not by cares of luggage—scaling cliffs, and leaping
brooks,
Not, like other tourists, ’wildered over Bradshaw’s mystic books.’

‘Oh, Mr Hardy, did you really make up all that your
own self only this minute?’ asked Flo Cramwell wonder-
ingly: for this was the first sample which she had yet had
of that gift of improvisation that had made Seymour Hardy
the poet-laureate of many a passenger-steamer in the
Eastern seas.

‘Indeed I did, my dear,’ said Hardy, patting her round
cheek ; ‘we authors have to do our work quickly, you know.
Only the other day, I had to write a whole book in three
weeks.’

‘What a wonderful man you are!’ cried the child, with
a grave earnestness that set every one laughing, while Hardy
acknowledged the compliment with a low bow.

‘Well, said Sir Frederick, ‘I only wish I could paint
a picture as easily as you knock off a poem. If I could,
T’d set to work this minute; for here’s one worth painting,
anyhow.’

And well might he say so. They had just reached the
summit of a high ridge, which commanded a view of the
whole surrounding country ; and a noble panorama it was.
88 IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

In front of them rose, slope above slope, the green, sunny
uplands, thickly dotted with those quaint little toy cattle
which yield the finest beef and the richest cream in Europe.
To their right, the straggling lines of small gray houses (with
steep shingly roofs and narrow loophole-like windows) form-
ing the ‘town’ of Lerwick clung like limpets to the low
ridges, or clustered along every point of the shore; and
beyond them, Sir Frederick’s trim little yacht hovered like
a white-winged sea-bird upon the deep-blue waters of the
Sound, over which frowned the vast black cliffs of Bressay
Islet. To the left, the smooth, green hillside ended abruptly
in the black, grim precipices of the formidable Nab, around
which clouds of sea-birds were whirling and swooping with
shrill, unearthly cries. Southward lay the open sea, which
was breaking upon the craggy headland with a deep booming
roar, showing that its late fury was not yet wholly calmed
down; and far to the westward, beyond a wide waste of
bare gray moorland, towered the dark purple ring of rocky
hills which bulwark the western shore of Mainland against
the ceaseless battering of the unresting ocean.

‘Look out yonder, Alwyn, away to the west,’ said Seymour
Hardy to Alwyn Dare. ‘Do you see that dark-gray spot just
in the mouth of that hollow between those two big hills 4
That’s Scalloway, where we were the other day, and where,
as you remember, I showed you the ruins of the castle built
by that nice Earl of Orkney whom the Shetlanders, and the
Orkneymen too, still compliment with the title of “Wicked
Earl Pate” (Patrick), which he certainly appears: to have
done his best to deserve. By the bye, the fate of that
same Earl Patrick ought to be a warning to you schoolboys,
for he was put to death simply for putting the nominative
instead of the genitive in a Latin exercise.’

The boy stared—as well he might—and a ripple of coming
laughter quivered over the plump, rosy face of little Flo,
who was evidently expecting some first-rate joke.

‘I daresay you don’t believe it,’ said Hardy, smiling, ‘but
IN A CITY OF DWARFS. 89

it’s true, for all that. When the Earl repaired the castle
of Birsay, in Orkney, which had been built by his father,
Robert Stuart (a son of King James V. of Scotland), he
wanted to put up an inscription to that effect over the great
gateway. Now, what he meant to say was, “ Robert Stuart,
son.of James V., king of Scots, erected this building.” But,
being no great things of a scholar, he did it into Latin this
way : “ Robertus Stuartus, filius Jacobi Quinti, Rex Scotorum,
hoe edificium instruxit ;” and so, by putting “rex” instead
of “regis,” he made it.mean: “ Robert Stuart, son of James V.,
and king of Scots!”’*

‘What a duffer he must have been!’ cried the young
baronet ; ‘why, I know better than that myself!’

‘Well, he paid dear for his bad grammar, anyhow,’ said
Hardy ; ‘for—just to show you how they used to do things
in those days—the Scottish government, which had let him
go on for years robbing, burning, and murdering among these
poor islanders without saying a word against it, gravely
pronounced him guilty of high treason in saying that his
father had been king of Scotland, and put him to death
accordingly.’

This story—a perfectly true one—was greeted with
general laughter; and Alwyn Dare confided to Flo, in a
whisper, that ‘if everybody that made mistakes in their
Latin exercises had got to be executed, they’d need to open
a training-school for hangmen !’

‘Well,’ cried Hardy, expanding his chest with a long,
deep breath of intense enjoyment as they moved forward



* This was not Earl Patrick’s only blunder in Latin. The inscription
furnished by a local churchman for the gate of Scalloway Castle, where
traces of it are still to be seen, though taken by the ignorant Earl as a
compliment, really conveyed a bitter sarcasm upon his ill-gotten power :

‘Cujus fundamen saxum est, domus illa manebit
Stabilis; et contra, si sit arena, perit ;’
which may be thus translated :
‘If founded on a rock, the house is sure,
If on the sand, it will not long endure.’
90 IN A CITY OF DWARFS.

again, ‘the good old fashion of going on foot is the best
as well as the oldest way of journeying, after all! I would
rather, by far, travel in this style than have all my bones
shaken out of joint by the jolting jog-trot of a camel, as I
did in crossing the deserts of Central Asia.’

‘Or be imprisoned in a first-class pepper-box on a creeping
train,’ chimed in Major Dare, ‘and swallow a shovelful of
sand every time you draw breath, as I did in Lower Egypt.’

‘Or sit perched on a beast of a Spanish mule,’ added
Sir Frederick Goldhall, ‘and amuse yourself, while the brute
picks its way along a ledge just wide enough to hold it, by
watching your right or left foot sticking out over a sheer
precipice of two or three thousand feet, as I did in
the Andes.’

‘Or find yourself jammed up in a “diligence” like a herring
in a barrel, on a hot summer day, among half a dozen
fellows reeking of garlic or bad tobacco, as I did in Italy,’
wound up Mr Cramwell, with a savage emphasis which
showed that he had endured this penance often enough to
have a full appreciation of it.

But just then this ‘chorus of travellers’ was suddenly
cut short; for at that moment little Jamie Blanch, who still
kept his place a few yards in advance of the party, was seen
to come to an abrupt halt, and to point downward, while he
called out with the full power of his shrill, childish voice :

‘Yon’s the loch, and the Peghtish fort i’ the middle 0’t!’

One and all pressed eagerly forward to look; and there,
sure enough, in a hollow just below them, lay outstretched
a long, narrow strip of dark water, from the midst of which
rose, like a brooding shadow, a low, black, shapeless mound.




CHAPTER XI.

MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.






[SS HE first feeling of the sight-seers—as generally
So jj] happens in such cases—was one of grievous
disappointment. The mention of a ‘fort’ had
suggested to them all, with the exception of
Seymour Hardy, who had been in the northern
seas before, a vision of solid walls, massive towers, and
crumbling battlements, wreathed with ivy; whereas what
they now looked upon was merely a formless heap of stones
and rubbish, much more like a disused brick-kiln than any
human habitation.

‘Well, if that’s a fort,’ growled Major Dare, with grand
military disdain, ‘I could make as good a one myself any
day by emptying out a dust-bin.’

But ,as they drew nearer, this strange old lair of extinct
monsters began to define itself more clearly, and: to exhibit
traces of architectural skill, as well as good military choice of
position. The side which faced the visitors was little better
than a heap of ruins; but enough of the groundwork
remained to show that the fortress had once been encircled
by three complete walls, one within the other.

. It’s been a strang place in its day, yon burgh, for a’ it’s
sae dang doon noo,’ said Jamie, with the air of a connoisseur.
‘There ’s anither i’t he isle o’ Mousa, a great muckle ane—
wise folk say that some great laird frae Norroway siegit
92 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.

it for ten years,* and cudna win in (gain entrance). But
ye’ll hae read a’ that for yersels’, I’m thinkin’, ? Walter
Scott.’

‘Hallo!’ cried Sir Frederick, not a little surprised to hear
this bare-footed fisher-boy speak so familiarly of the great
author, ‘you seem pretty well up in Scott, my friend !’

‘Hoots, man! a’body kens Walter Scott here. D’ ye no
mind that he made a haill buik aboot us Shetland folk—The
Pirate, as they ca’’t! Mony’s the gude customer yon buik ’s
broucht us; and ye’ll see a dizzen copies o’t here for ane 0’
ony, ither baile Ye may gang into the muckle shop yon’er
i’ the toon, and see for yer ainsel’s !’

‘The schoolmaster’s abroad, you see, Mr Cramwell, figura-
tively as well as literally,’ whispered Hardy to the Hollowdale
master, who was beside him. ‘I got just the same sort of
surprise myself a few years ago when I was visiting the
great Buddhist temple of Kochikadeh, in Ceylon, where I
met an old Singhalese bonze (priest), the very picture of a
genuine Asiatic from head to foot, who quoted The Light of
Asia to me in English, and talked as familiarly of Sir Edwin
Arnold and Max Miiller as if he had been at school with the
pair of ’em !’

‘Sir Walter didna say onything aboot this Peghtish burgh,’
resumed Jamie, who had now got upon what was manifestly
a favourite subject with him ; ‘but he spak’ o’ the ither ane
i’ the isle o’ Mousa, and he spak’ o’ Scalloway Castle too, and ”
o “ Wicked Yerl Pate” that biggit (built) it, wha was hangit
lang syne—I dinna mind jist when.’

“On the 6th of February 1614, in the reign of James VI.
of Scotland,’ promptly struck in Mr Cramwell, whose memory
for dates was something phenomenal.

‘Ay, man! d’ye ken that?’ cried the urchin, turning to
the best-read form-master in Hollowdale with a patronising
graciousness that well-nigh upset the gravity of the whole

* Jamie was in error here ; but the siege, though not so long as that of
Troy, was long enough to tire out the besieger, Jarl Harald of Norway.
MAJOR ‘DARE PLAYS SAMSON. 93

party. ‘I’m thinkin’, then, that ye Englishers are no sae
ignorant as ane wad fancy, aifter a’ !’

By this time they had reached the edge of the lake,
through the shallow waters of which a rude causeway of
large stones, extremely irregular and broken, led to the island-
fortress itself.

‘This is, of course, a later construction,’ said Mr Cramwell,
eyeing this rude path with the same critical air which he
was wont to assume when pouncing upon some ‘false
quantity’ in his pupils’ Latin verses. ‘The ancient lake-
dwellings were always reached in boats. This causeway is
doubtless a purely modern addition.’

‘It seems probable,’ said Hardy gravely. ‘ At all events, if
I had a snug fort right in the middle of a lake, I hardly
think I should go and make a paved road up to my front
door, for the convenience of any enemy who might happen to
be passing, and might wish to pay me a call.’

While talking thus, they had picked their way along the
*causeway, and, scrambling over the ruins of the outermost
wall, found themselves in front of the second, which was
some ten or twelve feet high, and in much better preserva-
tion.

Just at that moment their boy-leader set up a wild whoop,
and, plunging forward, vanished head-foremost into a cleft
of the crumbling masonry, like a terrier darting into a rabbit-
hole !

Somewhat startled by this spectral disappearance, Seymour
Hardy bent over the hole into which their adventurous guide
had vanished, and discovered, to his no small surprise, that
the entire wall, which was of a considerable thickness, was
honeycombed with narrow, tortuous passages, barely wide
enough for one man at a.time!

"Follow my leader !’ shouted Hardy, seized with the spirit
of the moment; and he, in his turn, plunged like a diver
into the dark tunnel.

Quick as thought, the: dignified Mr Cramwell dashed after

G
94 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.

him as eagerly as a boy, all on fire with the thought of
perhaps making some brilliant antiquarian discovery ; and
after him came Flo and Alwyn Dare, to whom this under-
ground game of hide-and-seek appeared the finest fun
imaginable.

But here the procession closed, for its last two members
found it a case of ‘no thoroughfare.’ The gap which had
been barely wide enough for the spare Cramwell and the
supple Hardy, was far too narrow for the broad-chested
baronet or the gigantic major ; and after all but tearing their
clothes from their backs in a fruitless effort to ram themselves
into the hole by main force, they were fain to rest content
with making the circuit of the wall outside, watching
anxiously meanwhile to see their entombed comrades
reappear.

But their watch seemed likely to be a long one; for
although these underground pilgrims had been so quick to
enter the secret passage, they were very slow in getting out
again—and not without reason. Apart from its extreme
narrowness, the gloomy catacomb in which they had so
rashly involved themselves was so low that even the children
could not walk upright, while Hardy and Mr Cramwell were
forced to crawl on their hands and knees !

‘Keep close to me, Flo, whatever you do!’ cried her
father, as he heard his little girl’s merry voice behind him ;
‘if we once lose you in.a place like this, there’s no knowing
when we may find you again !’

And well might he say so. Small, coffin-like cells, which
had probably been used as sleeping-places, honeycombed the
whole wall on either side; broken stairs led away to the
right and left; and other passages branched off from the one
in which they were in a most intricate and puzzling manner.

Fortunately they were not left in total darkness; for the
countless chinks and clefts of the crumbling masonry admitted
light enough (though of a faint and doubtful kind) to guide
them on their way. On they went, therefore, bumping their
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON. 95

heads against projecting stones, bruising their knees and
elbows, plastering themselves with dirt from head to foot,
and looking around them, as they advanced, with an ever-
growing amazement, for which there was certainly ample
cause.

Every part of this strange fortress was on so small a scale
as to recall in a very bewildering way the legend of dwarfs
and elves with which the far North abounds. The steps of
the stairs were hardly six inches high; the sleeping-cells
would not have given an ordinary man room to turn ; and the
galleries, as has already been said, could only be entered on
all-fours by persons of average height !

‘There now, papa!’ cried Flo in a tone of triumph; ‘you
said there were no such things as elves and fairies, but you
see there must have been some once upon a time.’

This was the very problem which was just then perplexing
Mr Cramwell, who hardly knew what to think of it. Could
the weird legends at which he had been laughing all his life
be true after all; and were these strange creatures really
such as tradition painted them, dwarfish and deformed,
but endowed with preternatural strength and cunning, and
counterbalancing a less than human size by a more than
brute ferocity ?

But his musings were suddenly broken by a shrill shout
from Jamie Blanch, a few yards ahead; and, a minute later,
they came forth into the daylight once more, through another
gap similar to that by which they had entered, finding as
they did so, to their no small surprise, that they had actually
made, in this mole-like fashion, nearly half the circuit of the
second wall !

Their appearance was greeted by their expectant comrades
with a peal of uproarious laughter, which certainly was amply
justified ; for seldom indeed had four such hobgoblins shown
themselves in the light of day.

Seymour Hardy’s face and hands were black as a sweep,
and his hair and beard so white with powdery dust that he
96 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON,

seemed, like Rip Van Winkle, to have passed from youth
to extreme old age in the space of a few minutes. Alwyn
Dare was one mass of dirt from head to foot, and a scratch
on his cheek had bled so freely over his hands and face as
to give him all the outward aspect of the ‘Third Murderer’
in Macbeth ; and little Flo, whose torn dress fluttered around
her ‘like banners to the sky,’ was crowned like a Greek
Bacchanal with a wreath of ivy, which, after all but tearing
her hat from her head, had finally been broken off as it
deserved, but not till it had entangled itself so thoroughly in
her long golden hair as to defy all her efforts to get it out again.

But the loudest roar of all broke forth when poor
Cramwell made his appearance, black as a negro minstrel,
with his trousers torn right across both knees, his spotless
collar befouled into the likeness of a crumpled sheet of black
sticking-plaster, and his respectable broadcloth coat split up
the back in a way which, as Sir Frederick Goldhall cruelly
remarked, ‘showed that he was sometimes behindhand with
his rent.’

At sight of him, the whole party, in spite of all their
efforts to restrain themselves, laughed till they were fairly
exhausted ; and Cramwell himself good-humouredly joined
in their merriment, though evidently rather disturbed by the
thought of having to go back right through the town in such
a plight. j

But, the moment he began to laugh, the mirth of his
companions rose to a perfect shriek—and no wonder. While
in the tunnel, he had wiped his heated and dust-begrimed
face with his fingers again and again, raking long lines of
white over its blackened surface, till he was regularly striped
like a zebra, forcibly suggesting a very elaborate piece of
high-class. tattooing ; and when to all this was superadded a
broad grin, the effect became simply overwhelming.

But all this was speedily put to rights. The water of the
lake relieved the transformed master from his war-paint, and
a few pins summed up the long division of his torn coat ;
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON. 97

and then, his fellow-explorers having similarly repaired
damages, the party moved forward again.

‘This last bit of work,’ said Hardy, still flipping clouds of
dust from his head like hair-powder, ‘reminds me of how a
man was once taken all over Edinburgh by an enthusiastic
local antiquary, who at last marched him into a pitch-dark
place, and said solemnly, “This is the house of Knox.” “Yes,
confound it, I see it’s the house of knocks,” says the other
fellow, fetching his head a tremendous crack against the wall,
“but I could have found that out for myself !”’

Between the second wall and the third lay a trench so
deep that it might almost be called a moat ; and, indeed, the
whole inner part of this grim old stronghold of primeval
barbarism seemed to be quite as much beneath the ground as
above it.

‘It is a fact worth noting,’ said Mr Cramwell, with the
air of a lecturer addressing his class, ‘that whereas marauders
of a superior class—the castle-building Normans of England,
for example, or the robber-barons of the Rhine—have always
been found to plant themselves upon the highest point
available, it is the uniform tendency of the lowest grade of
barbarism, such as the Bushman, the Tartar, and the Eskimo,
to lurk in holes in the ground, like wild beasts.’

‘So I should judge,’ replied Hardy, ‘from the underground
burrows in and out of which I used to see the Kirghiz
creeping, in Central Asia.’

‘Well,’ cried the young baronet, with a sly chuckle, ‘judging
from what I’ve seen of English elections, Central Asia’s not
the only place where people creep through very dirty ways to
get into a borough.’

‘Goldhall! I didn’t expect this from you!’ said Hardy in
a tone of fatherly reproach.

‘Beg pardon, my dear fellow,’ rejoined Sir Frederick ; ‘I
assure you I would never have ventured upon sucha joke if I
had thought it possible that anybody could see it!’

The third or innermost wall—which, like the others, was
98 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.

perfectly circular in form—was still almost entire; and one
glance at it sufficed to tell the sight-seers that in days when
the lake was, as it undoubtedly had been once, considerably
wider and deeper, and when the only practicable approach was
by boats, the assault of such a place, if garrisoned by an
adequate number of determined men, must have been anything
but a safe or easy undertaking.

‘What a fight there must have been here, when this place
was stormed in the old times!’ said Major Dare, glancing
around him with a look of professional appreciation.

It was a ghastly thought which his words conjured up, for
when two bands of savages met in such a place, the only pos-
sible result must be the utter destruction of one or other.
What hacking and stabbing, what grappling shoulder to
shoulder and knee to knee, in these dark narrow tunnels where
but one man could pass at a time, till the way was choked
with corpses, and the dead must be dragged aside that the
living might fly at each other’s throats once more! And so,
foot by foot, from one wall to another, till the innermost
stronghold was reached, and the council-fire quenched in the
blood of the last survivor of those who had kindled it.

In this third wall our explorers discovered, for the first time,
some rude semblance of a gateway, which admitted them to a
deep round hollow, very much like the bottom of an enormous
well.

Jamie Blanch, on being appealed to, declared this to have
been the council-chamber of the tribe, and pointed out a deep
square recess among the stones, in which, according to him,
the great fire used to burn. The whole place was completely
open to the sky, there being not even the semblance of a roof ;
but this, to men whose most luxurious couch was the lee-side
of a rock, would be a mere trifle.

What a study for some great modern painter such a council
would have made! The shadowy lake below—the dark walls
all around—the moonlit sky overhead—the red firelight play-
ing upon the swarm of misshapen monsters, with their dwarf-
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON. 99

ish figures, and huge shaggy heads, and long ape-like arms,
and hideous war-paint—lighting up too, perhaps, the pale, stern
face of some captive of a higher breed, hardening into a stern
defiance as the goblin rout flitted menacingly around him.

‘They were queer fallows, thae Peghts !’ said Jamie, shaking
his shock head with a meditative air; ‘and mony a thing hae
they left us, e’en though they’re a’ deid and gane. There
was a man tell’t me last week that in the isle o’ Westray,
i’ the Orkneys, ye ken, they hae fund Peghts’ hooses 7’ the
sand ; and they ’ll find mony maiz, I’m thinkin’, or it’s lang.’ *

So completely was Mr Cramwell taken up with all these
antiquarian wonders, and with the notes which he was hastily
making upon them, that he never noticed that his little Flo
was no longer by his side. The first to observe her absence
was Seymour Hardy, who looked round in quest of her just
in time to see a tiny foot vanish into a gap in the wall, on the
farther side of the chamber.

The others saw it too, and were just calling out to warn her,
when there came a dull crash, a hollow rumble of falling stones,
a faint cry—and then all was still.

For a moment the whole band stood motionless, exchanging
looks of speechless horror ; and then one and all darted like
madmen to the spot.

‘Flo!’ shouted her father, with the full power of his voice,
though with little hope of receiving any answer.

But, to every one’s joyful surprise, the clear, bell-like tones
came forth instantly, as cheery and unfaltering as ever, though
somewhat dulled by the mass of stones and rubbish through
which they had to pass: _.

‘I’m all right, papa—I ’m not hurt a bit, only I can’t get
out.’

‘We'll get you out in a minute!’ cried Mr Cramwell
excitedly ; and, throwing himself upon the stones that im-
prisoned her, he tugged and tore at them frantically till his
fingers bled without moving them in the least.

* This prophecy has since been amply fulfilled.—D.K.
100 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.

‘Here, let me do it!’ said Major Dare, whisking the strong
man out of his way like a baby; ‘you don’t know how to set
about it a bit!’

In fact, the major’s soldier-eye, trained as it was to seize at
a glance the weakest point of any position, had already noted
that although most of the stones whose fall had imprisoned
poor Flo were so closely wedged together in the gap as to offer
no hand-hold whatever, one larger mass projected from the
rest far enough to give him space to clutch it with both hands.
He at once did so, and then bidding Flo keep as far back as
she could, brought to bear upon this stony lever the whole
force of a strength which had never yet found its match.

One tremendous jerk, which seemed capable not merely of
dislodging the stone, but of uprooting the whole fort from its
foundations—and the anxious watchers around thought they
could see the stone move.

Another mighty heave—and this time there could be no
mistake about it; the stone moved visibly, before the eyes of
all! The blood oozed from the major’s torn hands, but he
never flinched. A third and a fourth effort, each mightier
than the last—and then came another crash louder than the
former, a rumble like the distant roll of thunder, a cloud of
whirling dust, a sharp cry of pain—and down went the major
sprawling on his back !

The regimental Hercules had done more than he bargained
for. All that he had meant to do was to loosen the obstruct-
ing stones sufliciently to admit of their being taken out by
hand ; instead of which he had brought down the whole face
of the wall at one jerk.

Luckily for the poor major, he fell backward, and rolled
over on one side, out of harm’s way, or he would have been
overwhelmed, like another Samson, by the ruin which his
own hands had made. Flo, too, having wisely obeyed his
warning to keep herself well back, emerged from the ruins
uninjured ; but there was another member of the party who
was less fortunate.




MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON. 101

Alwyn Dare, eager to help, but shrinking from the thought
of interfering with his stern father’s self-imposed task, was
standing close by the latter when the wall fell; and a large
stone alighted with crushing force right upon the poor boy’s
foot.

Happily its foree had been somewhat broken by collision
with another stone which it encountered in its fall, or the case
would have been a serious one indeed. But, even as it was,
the pain was frightful; and Seymour Hardy, who had been
just in time to catch the fainting boy in his arms, looked very
grave indeed as he hastily stripped off the crushed boot to
examine the extent of the injury.

To his intense relief he felt that no bones were broken ; but
the muscles had been so fearfully bruised and strained that
the poor lad was likely to be crippled for some time to come.

Yet, with all this, the gallant boy never winced nor groaned.
After the first short, sharp ery wrung from him by that sudden
agony, he was as mute as a statue—for his father was looking
on!

Bitterly indeed, in that cruel moment, did the iron man feel
how thoroughly he had made himself feared, instead of loved
by his only son ; but there was no time for self-reproach now.

‘This must be seen to at once,’ said he in the decisive tone
of one to whom such matters were familiar. ‘Ill carry him
back to the town, and directly we get there we’ll send for a
surgeon, if there is one in this precious place.’

The journey was a long and painful one, and the operation
of dressing and bandaging the injured foot was longer and
more painful still; but not a sound did Alwyn Dare utter
from first to last. Filled with the memory of the stirring
‘words in which Seymour had told him that it lay with him-
self to prove that he was neither milksop nor coward, he
would have died rather than betray any sign of weakness ;
and only his white, rigid features and quivering lips showed
the extremity of agony that he was enduring.
102 MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.

And when all was over, his father, who had held the
sufferer’s limp, nerveless fingers in his own strong clasp during
the whole of that terrible ordeal, heard him murmur faintly :

‘You won’t be ashamed of me this time, will you, father?”

‘I'll never say I’m ashamed of you again, as long as I live!’
said the major with unwonted emotion, as he laid his broad
sinewy hand tenderly upon the boy’s drooping head.

And Major Dare kept his word.






CHAPTER XIL
AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

|UNSET over the Scilly Islands, on one of those
| bright, clear, mild December evenings which,
even in that favoured climate, seem so strangely
out of place in the middle of an English winter.
The golden glory brightened with a crown. of
living fire the stern gray cliffs of St Mary’s, the largest island,
and lingered lovingly upon the windows of its tiny capital,
Hugh Town, the quaint little houses of which huddled together
along the flat sandy neck that linked the main islet with the
rocky bluff crowned by the lighthouse and the signal-station.
On one side the isle of Tresco outstretched its low, dark
length along the shining sea like a slumbering monster. On
the other, the black, craggy precipices of St Agnes loomed
darkly against the bright evening sky, like a rising storm-
cloud ; and the whole sea between bristled with the jagged
points of sunken rocks, starting up from the glittering surface
like the back-fins of a shoal of sharks.
Through this perilous channel the tiny mail-steamer from
Penzance—sole connecting-link between the outer world and
_ this strange little hermit-archipelago—was threading her way
with marvellous skill, her light wreath of smoke growing
thinner and thinner as it mounted into the glowing sky, till at
length it wholly vanished, like a type of the nothingness of
all earthly things when seen in the light of heaven.




104 AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Such was the scene upon which a solitary man, seated in a
snug ‘deck-chair’ just in front of Holgate’s Hotel, looked down
admiringly from the summit of Signal Hill.

Mr Democritus Cramwell—for this lonely watcher was no
other than he—was a good deal changed since his visit to
Shetland in the spring; and the change was by no means for
the better. His pale face, hollow cheeks, and heavy eyes, told
unmistakably of long and persistent overwork. In truth,
what with public teaching, private ‘cramming,’ and the com-
piling of a new manual of history which he had undertaken to
bring out that season—the energetic form-master of Hollowdale
had indeed been ‘burning the candle at both ends’ with a
vengeance. In the end, he had just managed to get through
the half-year before breaking down altogether; and he was
now, having found a substitute to take his work for the en-
suing half-year, on sick-leave for several months to come.

‘It’s beginning to look like rain,’ muttered he at length,
looking up at the darkening sky, ‘but I won’t go in yet, if I
can help it; it’s something to have found, without going out
of England, a place where one can sit all day out-of-doors in
the middle of December.’

At that moment a joyous shout was heard from behind, and
Flo, with her bright little face all aglow with health and high
spirits, and her golden hair streaming in the wind like a wild
horse’s mane, came flying along the slope toward him.

‘Papa! papa!’ she cried, ‘here’s the steamer coming round
the point now. May I go down and see if Mr Hardy’s come?”

‘No, I think you’d better not, Flo,’ answered her father ;
‘there’s always a great crowd when the boat comes in, you
know ; and besides, it ‘ll be raining before long, and I shouldn’t
like you to get wet.’

Flo looked somewhat disappointed ; but whatever her father
said was law to her, and she never dreamed of making any
objection. ;

‘There comes a drop already, I declare!’ added Mr Cram-
well, turning his face upward; ‘so we’d better make haste
AT THE END OF THE WORLD. 105

and take in my chair and things, before it comes on in
earnest.’

Scarcely had they done so, when it ‘came on’ as it is wont
to do in the gateway of the Atlantic. The beautiful islets
were lost ina shroud of cold gray mist, and the heavy drops
came hammering like bullets against the window at which Flo
stood watching for the appearance of her chosen hero, who was
expected to join them that evening.

Presently a solitary figure was seen struggling through the
mist and rain, and Flo bent eagerly forward ; but alas! it was
only the old rheumatic postman, creeping slowly up the wet,
slippery hillside.

A few minutes later, one of the hotel servants brought in
two packets addressed to ‘Miss Florimel Cramwell,’ and a
letter for her father.

Flo saw that the address of the letter was in Seymour
Hardy’s handwriting, and, leaning over her father’s shoulder,
read as follows:

14 St NicHoLas LANE, E.C.—Dee. 12.

My DEAR CRAMWELL—I’m sorry to greet you by letter instead
of in person; but some unexpected business stopped me just as I
was getting ready to start, and now I’m afraid I can’t get away
till the day after to-morrow.

I had quite an adventure the other day in a suburban train.
Opposite me sat a bright-looking boy (though I suppose he ’d be
shocked to be called one) deep in a book, which proved to be one of
mine! We got into talk, and he favoured me with some very
candid criticism, though he kindly pronounced my book ‘a stunning
yarn,’ saying at the same time that if he knew the author, he could
give him some incidents which would make a better story than
that.

‘Well,’ said I, ‘ont with them, for I’m the author myself.’

He looked incredulous, till I produced my card; and then we

both had a good laugh over it. And who should he be but Flo’s
friend, Tom Wickham, of whom she was always talking at Lerwick;
and he was going to see my crony, Major Dare, whom you met last
spring in Shetland.

I was rather surprised, for I’d no idea Dare knew him; and
before I could ask about it, he’d got out. But I’m going to make
106 AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

a book out of the story he told me, and I’ve promised to put him in
as one of the heroes.

Love to Flo—to whom I send something by this post, which may
save her the trouble of tying a knot in her handkerchief to keep
her in mind of me—and believe me, yours truly, 8. Harpy.

‘Just fancy !’ cried Flo dolefully ; ‘three whole days more
before he comes !’

Even this overwhelming sorrow, however, was somewhat
lessened by the excitement of opening the mysterious packets,
upon the largest of which Flo went to work with might and
main.

‘Why, they ’re both addressed in Mr Hardy’s handwriting,
too!’ she cried. ‘Perhaps they may be something for me!’

It certainly did appear possible, as they were both addressed
to herself. Her nimble fingers made short work of the whip-
cord and brown paper, and out came a book in a. brilliant
scarlet cover, on the back of which appeared, in jaunty gilt
letters, ‘Beneuth the Midnight Sun, by Seymour Hardy.’ And
as she opened it, she saw along the top of the title-page, in the
large bold hand that she knew so well:

To MY FELLOW-AUTHOR,
Miss FLormen CRraAMWELL,
WITH MUCH LOVE FROM HER ‘HORRID’ FRIEND,
THE EDITOR OF ‘Boys AND GIRLS.’

‘Isn’t it nice of him!’ cried the little lady gleefully, ‘and
such a pretty book, too; but it is too bad of him to keep on
like that about what I said to him in Shetland, when I didn’t
know who he was. I'll scold him well for it when he does
come, see if I don’t!’

But her tone and look sufficiently showed that the scolding
would not be a very severe one.

‘Look here, Flo—here’s something just in your line!’ said
her father, who had in the meantime been opening the other
packet, which proved to contain the latest number of Boys
and Girls.
AT THE END OF THE WORLD. 107

Flo sprang to his side at once, and saw that the last page
of the magazine was covered with small engravings, six in
number, above which stood the following announcement :

‘Each of these pictures contains the name of a great
English firm, and a prize will be given to any one guessing
the greatest number correctly. All guesses to be sent in
before the end of next month.’

‘Wouldn’t it be fine if I were to get the prize!’ said Flo
eagerly ; ‘and I know Mr Hardy would be pleased, too.
Don’t tell me what they are, mind—I want to find them
out all by my own self!’

The first engraving represented a big, bearded, rather stern-
looking man, standing with a royal crown upon his head,
while a number of bare-footed peasants were piling up before
him the heads of slain wolves. In the background appeared
a lake, on the surface of which hovered a solitary swan.

‘I know who that is!’ cried Flo triumphantly; ‘it’s
King Edgar out of my history-book—the man that made his
people pay tribute in wolves’ heads, you know, instead of
money. And then a swan—let me see! Why, to be sure—
Swan & Edgar !’

‘Well dane!’ said her father, smiling, ‘there’s one guessed
already ; and I don’t think this next one will give you much
trouble.’

The picture to which he pointed showed a steep hill
crowned with a massive Norman tower, on the battlements
of which stood a helmeted watchman, who was pointing with
one hand to a distant band of horsemen, while from his
mouth floated a long, fly-away label with the words, ‘I sec
a company.’

‘A castle, and a man saying “I see a company,”’ mused
the young lady. ‘Let me think; a castle, and a company—
oh, of course! Cassell & Company !’

‘Well done!’ cried Mr Cramwell, laughing; ‘you are
getting on! Why, if you keep on at that rate, you’ll do
’em all at one sitting!’
108 AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

At the third picture, however, Flo’s power of guessing
seemed to fail her. She bent over it with a puzzled air, and
eyed it long and earnestly, with a look of grave and mighty
importance upon her charming little face which any painter
would have loved to copy.

In truth, this engraving might well puzzle her, for it
coupled together two ideas which seemed, at first sight, to
have no connection whatsoever.

On one side of the picture a tall and stately man in Russian
uniform was pointing triumphantly to a half-built town on the
bank of a river. On the other side, in the midst of a wide
waste of lonely sea, stood perched on a rock a wild figure clad
in goatskins, with a rude umbrella over its head, and a parrot
on its shoulder.

‘That ’s Robinson Crusoe, of course,’ said Flo meditatively,
‘and, I suppose, the other one must be Peter the Great; but
whatever could he and Robinson Crusoe have to do with each
other? Let’s see, now; Peter the Great and Robinson
Crusoe—oh, I know! Peter Robinson !’

‘Bravo!’ laughed her father, who appeared to enjoy- this
new game quite as much as Flo herself. ‘I must confess I
thought that last one would have puzzled you.’

‘So it did,’ admitted the little woman frankly ; ‘but I’m
very glad I’ve found it out at last. Now, let us see what the
fourth’s like.’

The fourth picture was a more curious one still. A rough-
looking fellow was standing over the mouth of a well, with a
face sullen and grim enough to turn a pail of milk sour; but
he certainly appeared to have some cause for his ill-humour,
for the bucket of water which he had just drawn up was as
black as ink.

‘Well, I suppose you know who they are?’ said Mr Cram-
well, with a sly smile. ‘You ought to know, for, so far as I
remember, you’ve always been very fond of their produc-
tions.’

‘Don’t tell me!’ exclaimed Flo hastily; ‘let me find it
AT THE END OF THE WORLD. 109

out for myself. Something about a well, of course, and a
man looking cross at it—Cross—Cross—oh dear, what can it
be? A man cross with a dirty well—hurrah! I’ve got it!
Crosse & Blackwell !’

‘Right !’ answered her father with a chuckle. ‘Well,
this is what one may call winning with a rush! You ought
to get the prize now, surely—you’ve only two left to
win !?

But, at the fifth engraving, Miss Flo came to a standstill
once more, although, to all appearance, it was simple enough—
nothing more than a pedlar standing at the door of a country-
house.

‘A pedlar in front of a house!’ murmured she musingly ;
‘let me see, now. ‘There’s no such name as Pedlar and
House, or Pedlar and Villa—what can it be? Stay—isn’t a
country-house sometimes called a hall ?—let me think if there’s
any name that ends in Hall.’

At that very moment her eye caught the title-page of
Seymour Hardy’s new book, which lay open on the table
before her, and she read the answer there.

‘Chapman & Hall—that must be it!’ cried the little
student, clapping her hands joyfully. ‘I remember now
that you’ve told me a pedlar’s sometimes called a cheap-
man or chapman—it must be Chapman & Hall. Well, isn’t
that fine? I’ve guessed five out of the six all by my own
self !?

‘Very good indeed,’ said her father with a quiet smile;
‘but I expect the sixth will puzzle you a bit—and if it does,
I can hardly laugh at you, for I haven’t the least idea what it
means myself.’

In fact, its meaning was at the first i glance anything but
obvious.

Leaning upon a long staff stood a poorly-dressed man with
a broad-leaved hat, upon which was fastened the traditional

‘scallop-shell’ that showed him to be a pilgrim. He seemed
to be watching the course of a stag which was dashing wildly
ul
110 AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

past him, pursued by a number of Highlanders in the Gordon
tartan, one of whom wore the eagle-feather which was the
badge of a mountain-chief.

‘I can’t make anything of that,’ said Flo despondingly,
after poring over it in vain for a considerable time. ‘Oh
dear! I thought I was going to do them all, and then to
break down just at the last’——-

‘Well,’ interrupted Mr Cramwell, ‘you’ve guessed five out
of six, at all events, and that’s a pretty fair percentage ; you
may surely be content with that.’

‘But I don’t mean to be content with it!’ cried the little
lady resolutely ; ‘I’ find out this one too, if I possibly can.
It’s something about a hunt, of course—what name is there
with “Hunt” in it? Let’s see—there’s Hunt & Roskell ;
but that wouldn’t fit it unless one made “ Roskell” into
“ Rascal,” and one couldn’t call a pilgrim a rascal, you
know !?

‘Well, I’m not quite so clear about that,’ said Mr Cram-
well; ‘for, to the best of my recollection, it was just the
greatest rascals who did become pilgrims “‘in the brave days
of old.” However, I think, I have half a guess of it now—
shall I tell you what I think it is?’

‘No, no, don’t!’ answered the child as firmly as ever; ‘I
must try to make it out for myself!’

But fortune seemed to be against poor Flo this time ; for,
study as she would, she could find no solution to fit this
perverse enigma.

‘I’m afraid it’s no use, papa,’ said she at last in a
tone of deep regret; ‘I think you will have to tell me
after all.’

‘Here’s the answer, then,’ replied Mr Cramwell, pointing
to the tin of sweet biscuits from which Flo had recently been
regaling herself, and which bore the renowned name of
‘Huntley & Palmer.’

‘But I don’t understand,’ said the young lady, with a
puzzled air. ‘How does that fit in with the picture?’
AT THE END OF THE WORLD. 111

‘Well, a pilgrim to the Holy Land was called a Palmer,
you know, as you’ll remember from Ivanhoe; and then these
Highlanders wear the tartan of the Gordons, whose chief was
the Marquis of Huntly. It’s rather far-fetched, though ;
and I must say I don’t think it was quite fair to give such a
hard one as that. You’ll. have to give Mr Hardy a good
scolding for it when he does come ; but, in the meantime, you
have guessed five of them yourself, at any rate ; and, if I were
you, I’d send off the answers to Mr Hardy at once.’

‘So I can; by the bye,’ cried Flo eagerly, ‘the steamer
goes back to-morrow morning, and if I put my letter in the
hotel letter-bag to-night, itll do. I’ll go and do it this
minute ; and I’ll tell Mr Hardy that you helped me with the
last answer, or else it wouldn’t be fair, you know.’

The three following days were so fully occupied that even
Flo did not find the delay half so trying as she had expected.
Mr Cramwell—who, now that the strain upon his mind was
relieved, found his bodily strength improving daily—declared
himself quite equal to commence the series of excursions
which he and Flo had been planning ever since their arrival
a week before ; and to work they went accordingly.

They took a boat across the strait to visit the far-famed
gardens of Tresco, where Flo saw with surprise and delight
the tropical and semi-tropical plants of Asia, Africa, and
South America growing in the open air under an English
sky. They sailed round the Point to that dreary sand-beach
where stout Sir Cloudesley Shovel, after braving for years the
cannon of England’s enemies, perished on an English shore by
the treachery of that sea over which he had so long reigned
undisputed king. They strolled along the summit of the great
- cliff that bulwarks St Mary’s to the south-west, and, coming
back through Hugh Town, found, to Flo’s great amuse-
ment, the flood-tide eddying right in among the houses and
across the main street, and the children springing back from
the advancing waves with shouts of laughter, as if the
112 AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

whole thing were an entertainment got up for their especial
benefit.

At length the third evening came, and this time Flo and
her father were not disappointed; for when the Penzance
boat arrived, the first passenger who stepped ashore was
Seymour Hardy himself.






































CHAPTER XIII.

THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE.



ELL, if you’ve seen all that, I don’t know that
‘ | there’s much left for you to do,’ said Hardy
Mi) that evening, as he listened to Mr Cramwell’s
account of their various excursions, while Flo,
snugly ensconced beside him, turned over the
half-dozen illustrated magazines that he had brought for her,
in one of which she found, to her great glee, her own ‘ Wrestle
with the Waves,’ advanced to the dignity of a half-page illus-
tration. ‘You seem to have overhauled King Arthur’s do-
minions pretty thoroughly for the time you’ve been here.’

‘By the bye,’ put in Flo, looking up, ‘I want you. to tell me
about King Arthur, Mr Hardy. I’ve read what Tennyson
says of him, of course, and I’ve read what Spenser says ; but
I’d like you just to tell me all that’s known about him.’

‘Well, that is soon done,’ said the author, ‘for nothing is
known about him at all; and if he ever existed, which some
people are unkind enough to doubt, his history would probably
run as follows:





Arthur was a Welshman—Arthur was a thief—
Arthur came from his house, and stole his neighbours’ beef !’

‘Oh, Mr Hardy !’ cried the little inquirer reproachfully.
‘But, talking of King Arthur,’ went on Hardy, ‘that
reminds me of one trip we might make. There’s a legend
114 THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE.

here that King Arthur’s lost capital lies hid beneath the
waves somewhere to the south-west of these islands, and that
the sound of the church-bells may still be heard sometimes,
far down under the sea. Now, whether that’s true or not,
I’ve heard a friend of mine say that there is a place here-
abouts, where, at certain states of the tide, you can hear the
chime of a bell as plain as print, though there’s nothing to be
seen. Shall we go and try? It would be rather a new experi-
ence to hear a peal of church-bells right out in the open sea.’

‘So it would,’ cried Mr Cramwell eagerly, ‘and perhaps we
might find out the real cause of it—who knows? Ill step
over to our old boatman, Paul Trevenna, the first thing
to-morrow, and tell him to have his boat all ready for
Thursday morning.’

The poor old Cornishman, however, was hardly in trim for
a cruise just then, being laid up by a sudden attack of rheu-
matism ; but he readily agreed to send along with them his
only son, Hugh, a fine stalwart young fellow of two and
twenty, who, though he did not yet possess his father’s
experience, fully equalled him both in strength and nerve.

At the appointed time all was ready, and the passengers,
having breakfasted an hour earlier than usual in order to
have a long day for their trip, set sail as soon as the meal
was over. Hugh Trevenna threaded like a veteran pilot the
bristling spikes of rock that dotted the clear bright water all
along the perilous coast of St Agnes; and, leaving behind
them the danger of the ‘Bishop and Clerks,’ they came fairly
out into the open sea.

It was just the day for a sail. A smooth sea, a clear sky, a
bright sun, a fresh north-east breeze just strong enough to
send them briskly along in the right direction—who could
wish for more?

Mr Cramwell, perched beside Trevenna, at once began to
pick his brains on the subject of local traditions and antiqui-
ties, while Flo and Hardy, snugly seated in the stern-shects,
had a confidential chat on their own affairs.”
THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE. 115

‘Well, my lady, what have you been busy with of late?’
asked Hardy ; ‘writing some more articles for us poor editors
to try our eyes over?’

‘Well, I have written one or two,’ said the young lady in
an impressive whisper ; ‘but, most of the time, I’ve been
hard at work learning Spanish.’

‘Learning Spanish! What for? Do you want to read
Don Quixote in the original ?’

‘Indeed I do; but that wasn’t it. You see, if this place
gets too cold for him, papa’s thinking of going to the south
of Spain for a month or two; and he wants me to learn the
language before we go, so that I won’t have to be mumchance
all the time we ’re there.’

‘That would be a calamity indeed!’ said Hardy gravely.
‘Well, I’m pretty well up in Spanish myself, so suppose I
put you through your paces a bit, and see how much you
know.’

He did so, and soon discovered that the little student had
already made very commendable progress.

‘Well done!’ cried he; ‘you’re as good as a Russian
princess of my acquaintance, who learned English just to
read an English novel in the original! We shall have
you bringing home a language-prize one of these days, when
you go to school. By the bye, talking of prizes, I should
not wonder if you were to win that guessing prize in Boys
and Girls, for you guessed five out of the six pictures, and
no one else has sent me more than three. Won’t it be fun
if you do?’

‘And you’ve got that story of mine printed, I see. How
good of you !’

‘Well, you know, I couldn’t very well put it in my
magazine, as I should have liked to do, because it was about
a feat of my own; and so I showed it to a friend of mine,
the editor of The Playground, and he took it at once. So
now you’re regularly a published authoress, and you’ll have
to take care and keep up your reputation ; only you mustu’t
116 THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE.

mind if you have a good many articles declined just at first.
I had sixty-three of mine rejected before I got any printed
at all.’

‘You don’t mean that!’ cried Flo, who, having known
Hardy’s name only in the height of its renown, had somehow
never realised that there could have been a time when he
too had been a nameless and struggling writer,

‘Indeed I do; and a pretty hard time I had of it just
then, I can tell you. I’ve often thought of writing an
article called “Christmas on Short Commons,” describing
how, when things were at the worst with me, I had my
Christmas breakfast at a London coffee-stall, on a ha’p’orth
of bread and a ha’p’orth of coffee.’

‘Oh, do tell me all about it!’ cried the twelve-year-old
authoress, drawing closer to his side, and looking up at him
in eager expectation.

Hardy bent down to kiss the fresh little face, and, slightly
shifting the tiller, for he was acting as steersman for the
time being, began his story as follows:

‘The first time I came back to England from Russia,
which was before you were born or thought of, Miss Flo,*
I was the happy possessor of a good round sum—namely, 0.
Nor did my pen do much to fill my purse, for, of the
sixteen articles which I wrote that December, fifteen
were not published at all, and the sixteenth, though it
was published, was never paid for !’

‘What a shame!’ cried Flo, with all the vehemence of
a child’s indignation against injustice.

‘So I thought at the time ; but one gets used to that sort
of thing by degrees, as the cels do to being skinned.
Anyhow, on that particular Christmas morning I had just
twopence in my pocket; and the problem was, “Given two-
pence, to find a breakfast.” As a rule, I didn’t mind starving,
for I’d had plenty of practice, both in Russia and at sea ;
but, as I know by experience, you always feel the cold twice
as much when you’ve had no food, and this was one of
THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE. 117

the days when, as the Hungarians say, you need a greatcoat,
inside as well as out. The sun appeared to have gone out
of town without leaving his address, and the bitter, spiteful
cold, which seemed to freeze the very thought in one’s head,
was unrelieved by a single gleam of light and warmth from
the boundless sheet of gray waterproof which is London’s
ordinary substitute for a sky. The tall houses were buttoned
up to their very roofs in a thick greatcoat of yellowish fog,
out of which they peered sulkily, like the officers of the
watch aboard a steamer; and the few passers-by wore the
look of grim and dogged endurance peculiar to an Englishman
when dancing a quadrille, making a speech, or performing
any other painful duty.

‘I had been out to “early service” at a quiet little church
not far from my lodgings, and was just on my way home
again, pondering the breakfast problem aforesaid; when,
coming sharp round a corner, I found myself right in front
of a coffee-stall. Half-starved as I was, the smell of the
hot buns and steaming coffee was too much for me; and
before I had time to think, I had invested one of my two
remaining coppers in a mug of coffee and a hunch of bread.

‘I had half-emptied the mug and almost finished the bread
before I even thought of looking to see what the other
customers were like, though all four were picturesque figures
in their way. The first was a burly cabman in a well-worn
brown overcoat, whose sullen face announced, as plain as any
newspaper, a “prevalent depression of business.” The second
was a short, thickset, sandy-haired fellow in‘a tattered
fustian jacket, so thickly smeared with stains of dusky
red as to give him the look of the “First Murderer” in
Macbeth ; but these ominous smears were mere innocent
brick-dust, and the wearer was nothing worse than a brick-
layer. The third guest was a big policeman, upright as
a pike, with an inflexible “comealong-with-me” look on
his stolid, wooden face.

‘At first sight I almost overlooked the fourth member of
118 THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE.

the party, who, indeed, seemed modestly anxious to avoid
attention. He was a small, thin, pale, light-haired man, in
a suit of rusty black, and looked far more like an unemployed
clerk or a struggling tradesman than like what he really
was—namely, one of the most skilful and notorious thieves in
all London—a gentleman who, like Artemus Ward’s hero,
was “engaged in business as a malefactor.”’

‘And was he actually a real, live thief, then?’ asked Flo,
opening her eyes wide.

‘Indeed he was; I got to know more of him later on,
as I'll tell you another time. Well, policeman and thief
eyed each other knowingly for a moment, and then both
broke into a laugh.

‘Well, Dick,” said the champion of law and order,
““so you’re sick o’ retirement, and comin’ back to public life
agin, eh? How did prison fare agree with yer delicate
constitootion /—and how’s business lookin’ to-day ?”

‘““ Now, Mr Grimes,” remonstrated the criminal, in a tone
of injured innocence, “wot for do you go saucin’ a pore cove
wot ain’t done yer no ’arm? You knows well enough I
ain’t done nuffin since I cum out o’ the stone jug” (prison).

‘Cause you only cum out last night,” chuckled the
official ; “but there’s a good time comin’—eh, Dick?”

‘« Why, what’s wrong with yer to-day?” cried “Shifty
Dick ;” “did that last mince-pie disagree with yer? Come,
I'll stand yer a cup o’ coffee to mend your temper.”

‘“ Well, I don’t mind, as it’s Christmas-day,” quoth
M.26; “but look here, Dick, no tricks among friends, you
know. Don’t go pickin’ my pocket while I’m a-drinkin’
your coffee—honour bright !”

‘Honour bright,” echoed the thief, extending his long
thin hand in pledge of his good faith.

‘And, to my great amusement, the policeman accepted,
without the least hesitation, this pledge from a fellow
whom he knew to be a rogue of the deepest dye; nor did
he have any cause to repent his confidence.


THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE. 119

‘Just then the cabman said to me, as he began his second
mug of coffee :

‘“This is quantity agin quality, this is. When I’m flush
o’ money, I drinks nothin’ less than beer ; but when I’m
down on my luck, I sometimes falls as low as coffee !”

‘“Tg business slack just now, then?” asked I, inwardly
wondering how it was that, come back to England when
I might, I always found it “the slackest season that has
been known for years.”

‘Slack !” echoed the man of whipcord with overwhelming
emphasis ; “I should vayther say it was slack—jist a few !
If you was to try and cord a box with a ha’p’orth o’ treacle,
you’d find that rayther slack, wouldn’t yer? Well, that’s
jist ?ow business is now.”

«« Well, then,” cried I, “if you’ve so much spare time, why
not write a book, like every one else when they have nothing
better to do? Fancy what a stir you might make with an
illustrated story called In the Path of a Cab, or the Four
Wheels of Destiny /”

‘« Well, a cabby does see some queer things now and then,”
assented No. 999; “and I’ve see’d a goodish few myself,
Ihave. One time in partic’lar I calls to mind. There was
‘a big feller on our stand when I fust took to the business,
name o’ Sam Roberts; but we all called him ‘Sam the
Slogger,’ for he was so ’andy with his fists, that none of us
cared much to git him into a h’argyment. But old Sam
was like many other folks, not a bad sort till somethin’
brushed him the wrong way—only that ’appened pretty nigh
seven days in a week.

«« Well, one arternoon we sees Sam comin’ along, and he
sets down a fare close to the stand. ‘The fare was a quiet-
lookin’ chap with a good-natured sort 0” face, whose clothes
warn’t jist as new as they might ha’ been ; and Sam took
him for a country-chap as didn’t know the ways 0’ London,
and counted on gittin’ a good lot out of him for the job.
But the gen’leman had cut his eye-tecth, he had, and warn’t
120 THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE.

born yes’day ; so he pulls out jist the right fare to a penny,
no more and no less. So then Sam begun on him, and I
can tell yer he was worth hearin’; for he was always a
fine free talker, Sam was. The gen’leman listens to it all
as quiet as if he was at the h’operar, till Sam had got all
them remarks off his mind, and then he says to him, as cool
as you please, ‘Why, my good fellow,’ says he, ‘you’ve
mistook your trade, you have; instead o’ bein’ a man,’ he
says, ‘you ought to ha’ been a butcher’s dog !’

‘“ Well, in course that didn’t sweeten Sam’s temper much ;
and he up fists, and told him if he give him any more sauce,
he’d break every bone in his skin. Not a word did the
gen’leman say, good or bad; but all in a moment Sam got
one in the h’eye as made him look five ways at once, and
another in the bread-basket as made him feel as if some-
body ’d took all his inside out and filled him up with soda-
water. The next minute he was down on the broad of his
back, and the next arter that he was nowhere at all. And
then, while Sam was a-wonderin’ where his h’eyes had gone
to, and what his teeth was doin’ ’arf-way down his throat,
the gen’leman says to him werry perlite, ‘Now, my man,
if your friends ask what’s ’appened to your face, you can
tell ’em you’ve been thrashed by the Dook o’ Black-
chester !’

‘“ Aha!” cried I, “was it the old Duke? Well, he was
pretty good in that way, sure enough. I hope it consoled your
friend a little to find that he’d been pounded by a duke!”

“Don’t know ’bout that,” said Jehu with a grin; “but
ever sin’ then I’ve thought better o’ the h’aristocracy, for if
one 0’ them swells could lick a chap like Sam quite free-and-
easy-like, without even pullin’ his coat off, they can’t be
as bad as folks make ’em out.”

‘Just then the bricklayer, setting down his empty mug,
observed to the company in general :

‘“Tt don’t comfort one’s inside like what it might do, but
a man mustn’t be partic’lar when he’s out 0’ work.”
THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE. 121

©“ Out of work, ch?” said I. “ Well, that’s poor fun, as
I know by experience.”

‘Poor fun? I b’lieve yer!” growled the horny-handed
son of labour. “I ain’t had to worry myself much, this
last fortnight, to think wot sort o’ French soup I should
h’order for dinner; but, thank God, it won’t be long now
afore I git some’at to keep my pocket warm agin. But it
seems to me,” he added, with a critical glance at my clothes,
which were certainly not adapted for a court-levee, “that
you yourself ain’t in a way to be much kep’ awake at night
by thinkin’ how to inwest yer spare cash. Wot might your
trade be, now, if a man may wenture to ax?”

«« Well,” said I, “I am what the people call an author.”

‘“ A h’author!” cried the critic in fustian, in the tone of
half-contemptuous pity in which the London sweep spoke of
Garrick as “only one o’ them play-actin’ fellers.” “I s’pose
you means that you’re one o’ them poor beggars as writes
books. No wonder you looks so seedy, then, for I’ve always
heerd as them chaps gits werry poor wages. Why didn’t yer
Yarn to do some’at useful, ’stead o’ wastin’ yer time like
that?”

«Well, I suppose,” I answered with a deep sigh, “that
my education must have been neglected when I was a boy.”’

‘Oh, Mr Hardy! how could you?’ broke in Flo, half-
laughing and half-indignant.

«« That ’s a pity, too,” said the bricklaying gentleman com-
passionately ; “but it ain’t no good cryin’ over spilt milk.
Look here—you seems to he a decent sort o’ chap, and
I’d like to do yera good twnif I can. I’m a-goin’ to git a
job nex’ week on them new houses as they ’re buildin’ in
Kensington Park Road, and if you was to come and ax,
mayhap you might git took on too. Bricklayin’ ain’t so
difficult as you’d think, neither—not if you reg’larly gives
yer ’ole mind to it. You jist come over theer *bout next
Wednesday or Thursday, and ax for Bill Barton, and J’
- answer to my name, never fear!”
122 THE BEGINNING OF A LONG VOYAGE.

‘« Thank you, my lad,” said I, shaking hands heartily with
my volunteer instructor in the mysteries of freemasonry.
“You've chosen the right trade in taking to bricklaying, for
there’s no mistake about your being a ‘brick.’”

‘Mr Barton received this pleasantry with a blank stare, and
made no reply ; but as I turned to depart, a deep-mouthed
roar behind me, as if four or five bulls had all bellowed at
once, told me that my new friend had just seen the point of
the joke.’

So ended Seymour Hardy’s story.














































































































































































CHAPTER XIV.

THE MYSTERIOUS BELL.





|HILE the adventurous editor was retailing these
&| singular ‘biographical fragments,’ to which Flo

listened with a breathless interest that ought to
‘| have flattered him greatly, her father was drink-
+ ing in, with equal eagerness, Hugh Trevenna’s
strange tales of cromlechs and Druid ‘circles, submarine caves
and ruined castles, stag-horn pickaxes, used by the miners of
the first century, and dug up again by those of the nineteenth,
fairy money and buried swords, and disused mines haunted by
the ghosts of the Jewish captives transported thither by the
later emperors of Rome, for whom Britain was a kind of
classic Siberia.*

‘And we calls they “the knockers,”’ went on the young
Cornishman, ‘for folk says that if ye go down into one o’ they
old pits at night, and hearken a bit, yell hear they, plain as
print, a-pickin’ and hammerin’ as busy as when they was
alive !’

So much engrossed was the zealous antiquary with these
and other tempting morsels of local folklore, that he never
noticed how far out to sea they were getting; and Trevenna
was the first of the party to observe that the islands were
already almost out of sight.

* Hence, as some say, the name of the West-Cornish town Market-Jew,
or Mara-Zion (Bitterness of Zion).
124 THE MYSTERIOUS BELL.

‘Hallo!’ cried Mr Cramwell, when this was pointed out
to him, ‘this won’t do! If we stand out to sea any farther we
shall be losing sight of the islands outright, and perhaps not
be able to get back before dark ; so I vote we call a halt.’

‘Right you are,’ said the author, giving up the helm to
Trevenna, and coming forward ; ‘but it’s rather too soon to
get back yet, so the best thing we can do is to lower away the
sail, and just stand off-and-on till we’ve had enough of it;
and then we’ll put her about, and beat up for St Mary’s.’

‘And, in the meantime, we can have lunch,’ put in Flo, to
whom, as to most children, such open-air picnics were the
greatest possible treat.

This last motion was carried nem. con., for the sea-air had
made them all as hungry as hawks. Yard and sail came
rattling down, and while Hugh, seated at the helm, handled

‘the boat as Hardy had suggested, the two other men rummaged
out their well-filled lunch-basket, which Flo at once proceeded
to open and unpack.

By the time all was ready, the slackening breeze had died
away so completely that Hardy thought it safe to hoist the
sail again, as a tent; for, December though it was, this was
one of the days in which that wonderful climate seems to
thrust midsummer into the heart of midwinter, and the glare
of light from the smooth, bright sea around was quite Italian
in its intensity.

Having served out a liberal ration of the food to Hugh
Trevenna—who helped himself to it with one hand while
holding the tiller with the other—his three passengers settled
themselves snugly in the shadow of the sail, and fell to with
a will.

‘Isn’t this just like our picnic in Shetland, the day we went
to the cave?’ cried Flo; *only there’s no fear of our being
caught by a storm to-day, as we were then.’

‘Don’t be too sure, Miss Flo,’ laughed Hardy ; ‘for all you
can tell, before this day is over, we may be wrecked, or blown
out to sca, or cast upon a desert island like Robinson Crusoe !’


THE MYSTERIOUS BELL. 125

‘Well, if we were, it would be all the better fun!’ said the
little heroine, as fearlessly as ever. ‘I say, wasn’t Alwyn
Dare brave that time—he didn’t seem to mind a bit! But I
wish Tom Wickham had been there too, for then you ’d have
had a chance to see how well he can swim with his clothes on.
I’m so glad you’ve met him at last.’

‘So am I,’ said the author; ‘but I wish I’d had time to
ask him how he came to know Major Dare, for, as far as I can
remember, I’ve never heard Dare mention his name.’

But just at that moment their talk was suddenly and start-
lingly interrupted.

The wind having died away, and the sca being almost
perfectly calm, not a sound was heard save the drowsy lap,
lap, lap, of the tiny ripples against the side of the boat. Upon
this universal hush fell all at once, clear and full, and unmis-
takably distinct, the chime of a bell.*

The three passengers started, and looked inquiringly at each
other.

What could it mean? Mere fancy it certainly was not, for
they had all heard it at once. Yet, look where they would,
nothing was to be seen on the smooth, shining surface of the
calm sea, though the sound seemed quite near enough for the
bell which produced it to have been plainly descried, if it
were really visible to mortal eyes at all.

Mr Cramwell, recalling what Hardy had said about the
phenomenon of ‘King Arthur’s church-hells,’ and delighted
at the thought of investigating and perhaps explaining such a
marvel, grew radiant, and looked eagerly up, as if about to
speak,

* Legends similar to that of ‘ King Arthur's church-bells’ exist in many
parts of the world, as Mr Benjamin has noticed in his work on Zhe
Multitudinous Scas: ‘ Atlantis is-no myth ; St Brandan’s, or the Isle of
Seven Cities, once existed somewhere in.the broad Atlantic. Julin, the
once far-famed mart of northern luxury and trade, had an actual existence,
though now swallowed by the sea; and the musical peal of her bells is
muffled by the rush and roar of the surges which roll over them for ever-

more. But there are some who maintain that there are times when the
sound of those bells can still be heard—who knows?’

I
126 THE MYSTERIOUS BELL.

But the words died on his lips as he caught sight of Hugh
Trevenna’s face ; and no wonder. The brave young Cornish-
man’s bold brown visage was now white to the very lips, and
his keen gray eyes had a stare of blank horror, which was a
very new expression indeed with him.

‘Hallo, my man! what’s the matter with you?’ asked the
Hollowdale master, in a tone which he would have used to a
boy caught red-handed in the act of playing tricks in class.
‘You don’t mean to tell me you can be scared by the sound
of a bell?’

For an instant Hugh made no reply ; and in that momentary
silence the mysterious sound was heard again more plainly than
before. It was not the quick, sharp stroke of a signal-bell,
nor the joyous clang of a wedding-peal, but a deep, solemn
toll, like that of a passing-bell tolling for the dead.

‘Listen, there it is again!’ said the young boatman in a
hoarse whisper, more as if speaking to himself than in reply
to Mr Cramwell’s question; ‘and they say that evil is at
hand for any one who hears it. May God have mercy upon
us all!’

So intense was the force of conviction with which the
young hero spoke, and so absolute the want of any possible
explanation of this weird wonder, that even the matter-of-fact
Cramwell was impressed, and bent instinctively over the side
as if half expecting to see the white towers of the lost city of
tomance glimmering far down in the shadowy depths below.
But nothing was to be seen.

Meanwhile Hardy, seeing that Flo, though she had heard
nothing of this talk, had begun to guess from the look on
Highs face that there must be something wrong, called to
mind how important it was to keep her from being scared in
any way, and said in his cheeriest tone: ‘Isn’t it funny, now,
to think of a great strong fellow like that, whom no real
danger could stir one inch, being frightened this way at his
own fancies? He’s got it into his head that that sound is
a fairy’s dinner-bell ringing down under the sea, or some-
THE MYSTERIOUS BELL. 127

thing of that sort; and, as you see, he’s quite in a way
about it.’

‘But what is the sound, really?’ asked Flo, as confident as
ever in her chosen hero’s supposed gift of ‘knowing every-
thing.’

‘Well, there are several things that might cause it,’ replied
Hardy lightly. ‘It might be the bell of a sunken ship, for
example ; and, by-and-by, when we have time, you and I will
talk it over a bit and see what we make of it. Perhaps it
might do for you to write a story about—who knows? But,
in the meantime, if you’ve quite done your lunch, we may as
well get these things back into the basket again, and have all
ship-shape.’

Flo did so, and was soon so busy as to forget all about the
gloomy portent.

But Seymour Hardy himself, though he did not share in
the least his pilot’s superstitious fears, was by no means free
from grave anxieties of his own ; for he was too old a traveller
not to be well aware that their present position was anything
but a safe one, far away from land as they were, and upon a
sea proverbial for the sudden and furious storms that swept
it at all times of the year, and at this season most of all.

‘I'll tell you what, Cramwell,’ said he, as lightly as he
could, ‘now that we have had our lunch, it won’t be much
fun for us to sit here and listen to the ringing of that invisible
dinner-bell ; so, as we have some way to go to get home, I
vote we put about and run back.’

Mr Cramwell, who was not wholly without his own secret
fears, agreed at once ; and Trevenna received the order with
an air of intense relief that sufficiently showed what he
thought of it. But, like many other good ideas, it came just
a little too late.

Ere Hugh had time to obey, Hardy’s quick eye caught a
sudden dimness up to windward, blurring the clear bright sky
like a film of damp on a mirror. The next moment there
came a rush and a roar, and the whole sea around them was


128 THE MYSTERIOUS BELL.

one white swirl of boiling foam, and a mighty shock struck
the boat, which careened till the sea poured in over her gun-
wale. Then she righted herself with a furious plunge, and
went flying before the gale, half-full of water, far out into the
wild waste of storm-lashed ocean beyond.














CHAPTER XV.

A NIGHT IN THE DEEP.




|| to spring at the sail and drag it down, the
4| instant before the squall struck them, or they
#| would certainly have been capsized outright.
1 Hugh, too, had kept a grip of the tiller with
both hands, so that even now the boat was to some extent
under control.

As for Mr Cramwell, he was fully employed in looking
after his adventurous daughter, who, had he not clutched her
and held her fast, would have gone headlong overboard. As
it was, she escaped with a wetting up to the knees.

While brave Hugh Trevenna put forth all his strength to
make the boat—which plunged and leaped like a mad crea-
ture—obey her helm, Mr Cramwell and Hardy wrapped Flo
warmly up in the rugs which they had wisely brought with
them, and ended by covering her completely with the now
useless sail, so as to shield her from the lashing spray which
was flying over boat and crew like a hail-storm.

Flo’s presence, indeed, was now the chief anxiety of the
whole party.

To such men as Hardy and Trevenna, a wet night in an
open boat at sea would have been child’s play ; and even Mr
Cramwell, though less seasoned to rough work, would have
looked upon it as a mere passing discomfort, rather than as
130 A NIGHT IN THE DEEP.

a serious peril. But this twelve-year-old girl, reared in com-
fort, and all unused to ‘roughing-it,’ how would she bear the
strain of such a trial? How, indeed ?

Such thoughts, however, were worse than useless now,
powerless as they were to alter or influence in any way the
formidable crisis that had seized them in its grasp. All that
they could do now was to keep the boat from capsizing, and
themselves from going to the bottom ; beyond that, they were
helpless, and must go blindly on wherever the storm chose
to carry them.

But they soon found that she about whom they were so
anxious was not in the least anxious about herself, or about
anything else either. So far from that, indeed, she seemed
to be in the highest glee over the whole affair. Here, at last
(glorious thought !) was an adventure of her own, equal to the
best of those which she had read with such breathless excite-
ment, in the thrilling tales of her wonderful Mr Hardy.
To be swept out to sea in an open boat, with the chance of
being wrecked, cast away, taken by pirates, or eaten up by
cannibals (for everything was possible to Flo’s fertile imagi-
nation), and that, too, in the company of Seymour Hardy
himself, the very man whom she had always regarded as a
hero second only to Robinson Crusoe or Sinbad the Sailor—
why, it was simply the finest thing that could possibly have
happened.

So thought Flo the Fearless, and so she said; and her
father and Hardy listened with a sad smile to her gay prattle,
while baling out of the boat the water that had already
half-filled it.

It would have kept coming in faster than they could throw
it out, but’ for Trevenna’s skilful steering; but, save his
renowned father, there was no better boatman in all St
Mary’s, and such he now proved himself. Wall after wall
of dark water towered up over the tiny boat, as if about to
smite boat and crew to destruction at one blow; but the
trim little craft always glided nimbly away, and left the
A NIGHT IN THE DEEP. 131

baffled pursuer to melt into foam astern, with a venomous
hiss.

As soon as the boat was baled out, the provident Hardy’s
first care was to make a careful survey of the provisions.
The result was more cheering than he had ventured to hope,
knowing as he did that were they once swept right out into
the Atlantic, as seemed only too likely now, days instead of
hours might pass ere they saw land again. Their good land-
lady, in her usual bountiful way, had provided for them on a
scale more suggestive of a voyage to France than of a short
gail such as they had originally planned. Trevenna, too,
had some rough sea-fare of his own stored up in the stern-
locker, and the small ‘breaker’ of water belonging to the
boat was three-parts full.

On the whole, there did not seem to be much fear of their
starving just yet; and Hardy, thus freed from his worst
anxiety, scrambled aft with a much lighter heart to relieve
Hugh at the helm.

At first the young man seemed inclined to object; but
when Hardy reminded him that he must save his strength
as much as possible for what was to come, he at length gave
in. In fact, the two men saw plainly that the whole work
of navigation must fall upon them ; for Cramwell, though a
strong man, and as willing to take his full share of the duty
as any one could be, knew nothing of handling a sea-boat,
and would be apt to do more harm than good.

While Hardy took the helm, Trevenna clambered forward
to hoist the lantern; for though night had not actually set
in, it was already dark enough, what with the gathering dusk
and what with the lowering storm-clouds, to justify such a
precaution, which, indeed, was their only chance of being
able to draw the attention of any passing vessel during the
coming night.

Meanwhile Mr Cramwell, forcing himself to keep up an
outward show of cheerfulness, though he was very heavy at
heart, was chatting with his adventurous daughter, who was
132 A NIGHT IN THE DEEP.

still in raptures at this new and exciting experience ; and her
talk alternated between gleeful anticipations of the amaze-
ment with which their friends at Hollowdale would listen to
the story of their adventures when they got back, and expres-
sions of regret that poor Tom Wickham had not been able to
share the pleasures of this delightful trip—‘just the very
thing he’d have enjoyed, you know !’

But as it grew darker and darker, and the wide, dreary
waste of waters all around began to look drearier and vaster
than. ever beneath the fast-falling shadows of night, Flo’s
high spirits showed signs of sinking, and the poor little face
turned itself with a visibly troubled look from the deepening
blackness that shut her in like a pall, to the ghostly glimmer
of white that broke through it ever and anon, as the hissing
mountains of foam came surging up menacingly above their
heads, like monsters gaping to devour them.

Seymour Hardy, who had just been relieved by Trevenna
in his turn, saw that it was high time to make a diversion,
and did so accordingly.

‘Time for supper, Miss Flo,’ said he cheerily, ‘and after
that, we shall have to send you to bed, for it’s not good for
young ladies’ looks to sit up too late, you know. See, I’ll
be the waiter, and carry my greatcoat over my arm instead of
a napkin.’

Not without some difficulty—for the boat was still ‘smash-
ing along’ before the gale at a rate that made her quiver
through all her timbers at every plunge—the handy editor
contrived to serve out some food to the party; and as Tre-
venna could not leave the helm, and needed both hands to
manage it, Hardy was compelled not only to carry him his
portion, but actually to put it piece by piece into the young
giant’s mouth with his own hands, just as if he were feeding
a baby.

Supper over, the author seated himself with his back
against the mast, and, taking Flo, still wrapped in the sail,
on his lap, began to tell her all kinds of strange tales about
A NIGHT IN THE DEEP. 133

his travels and adventures, till at length the golden head
sank upon his shoulder, and, amid the ghostly blackness and
the hungry sea, the child fell fast asleep.

Hardy, knowing well that he would need all his strength
ere long, allowed himself to follow her example, and was
soon sleeping as quietly as he had done many a time before,
in the very jaws of death. But all at once he was aroused
by a hand on his shoulder, and Cramwell’s voice in his ear:

‘Wake up, man; Trevenna says he sees a light!’

As quickly as he could without disturbing the sleeping
child, whom he settled with tender care in the place that he
had quitted, Hardy was on his feet, and scrambling towards
the stern.

‘I be right sorry to stir ’ee up, maister,’ said Trevenna’s
deep voice, ‘but, thee bein’ our cap’n, like, ye see’

‘You were quite right, my lad,’ broke in Hardy, ‘and I’m
much obliged to you for doing it. Where is this light that
you ’ve seen 2’

‘Keep thy eye fair on the port-bow, just as she lifts, and
ye’ll fetch it. Theer! do ’ee see now?’

And, sure enough, Hardy did see, asthe boat was whirled
aloft on the crest of a huge wave, a single eye of fire looking
out from the cold black distance—unmistakably the light
of a passing vessel !

A moment more, and they had plunged down again, and
their star of hope was gone. But Mr Cramwell, who was
holding the sleeping child firm in her place, caught sight of
it at the same instant, and gave vent to a muttered exclama-
tion of joy.

Unhappily, he was rejoicing too soon; for after a few
minutes of breathless suspense, during which the distant
light continued to draw steadily nearer and nearer, it be-
came only too plain that the approaching vessel, instead of
coming straight toward them as they had hoped, was holding
a course which, if she did not alter it, would carry her away
to the north-westward, far out of sight.


134 A NIGHT IN THE DEEP.

‘Let us all shout together,’ cried Hardy ; ‘it’s our only
chance. Now!’
it They all shouted at once, with the full power of their
voices, just as the boat surged up once more on a mighty
billow. Loud and clear rang their call through the roar of
wind and wave, and for a moment they hoped that it had
been heard; but no—the tantalising light kept on without
changing its course, and in a few seconds more it had van-
ished, and they were alone with the darkness and the
storm.






























































CHAPTER XVI.
WHAT THE DAY BROUGHT.

HE shout of three powerful voices close to her
ear naturally awoke Flo, who started up, and
called out eagerly to ask what was the matter.

‘Nothing, my pet,’ said Hardy carelessly ;

‘we’re only giving a hurrah to somebody

that’s passing. Lie down and go to sleep again; it’s nowhere
near time to get up yet.’

And, in fact, his watch showed it to be only a little past
midnight.

The child, quite content with this explanation, was slumber-
ing again ina trice. Her father soon followed her example,
and Trevenna, from whom Seymour Hardy now took the
helm again, lay down in the bottom of the boat, and was
asleep in a moment ; and thus Hardy was left alone.

A weird vigil it was, that midnight watch amid storm and
darkness, out there in the midst of the lonely sea. As he
sat there, clutching with his numbed hands the struggling
tiller, which appeared to twist and writhe in his grasp like
a snake, all around him was utter blackness, beyond the
tiny circle of light cast by the fitful lantern; but that dark
void seemed peopled with all manner of ghostly sounds—
deep sobs and long-drawn sighs, shrieks as of men in mortal
agony, the rush of viewless wings, and the tramp of unseen
feet.


136 WHAT THE DAY BROUGHT.

His eyes too, though useless to him for any practical pur-
pose, were not wholly free from similar delusions. Many a
time, during the long and weary hours of a night which
seemed as if it would never end, bony hands seemed to clutch
at him, tall white forms hovered above his head, outspread
wings brushed past, goblin faces rose with gestures of hor-
rible menace from the wild waters around; and then all
melted again into foam, and spray, and darkness.

Often enough ere now had this bold wanderer had the lives
of others depending upon his own courage and skill; but
never before had he felt the responsibility so keenly. The
feeling that one incautious movement, one instant’s failing
of his strength and nerve, would doom to certain death all
who were with him was unbearable ; and he had never been
more glad in his life than when, just as his strained and half-
frozen hands were about to lose their hold (in which case the
boat would have got ‘ broadside-on’ to the sea, and they would
all have gone down together), Hugh Trevenna suddenly awoke.

‘Cap'n,’ said he reproachfully, ‘that be’nt fair; you’ve
took more ’n your share o’ the middle watch !’

‘Well, what was I to do,,mate?’ laughed the author.
‘You were too far off for me to touch you, and if I’d sung
out, I’d have roused the other two, who may just as well
sleep while they can. I was just going to give you a hail,
though, when you tumbled up ; for I could not have held on
to that tiller more than another minute or two.’

‘What time be it now?’ asked the young Cornishman,
who had taken Hardy’s place at the helm.

‘Just after half-past three,’ said the author, looking at his
watch.

‘Good job!’ cried Hugh gleefully ; ‘in "bout three hours’
time there ll be some sort o’ daylight, and then we’ll be able
to see what we’re at. In the meantime, thee’d best tak’ thy
turn below.’

‘No,’ said Hardy, ‘I don’t care to sleep any more just
now ; I'll just sit here a spell, and keep you company.’
WHAT THE DAY BROUGHT. 137

About five o’clock it seemed to both men as if the wind
were beginning slightly to abate ; but the sea ran higher than
ever, and in spite of all Hugh’s skill and caution, the boat
shipped more water than was at all convenient, keeping
Hardy fully employed in baling her out.

To the editor’s no small satisfaction, Mr Cramwell and his
daughter slept till day began to dawn ; and when they awoke,
it was to find a very unexpected treat prepared for them.

By this time the sea as well as the wind had begun to
go down, and the boat was now much steadier; so Hardy
took advantage of this to rummage out the small patent
‘heater’ which, with a traveller’s forethought, he had added
to the contents of the lunch-basket—and ere long he had
veady for Trevenna a brimming mug of smoking-hot tea,
which, as the half-frozen boatman declared with a gleeful
grin, ‘made quite a new man of hin.’

Seymour Hardy had just drained his mug in turn, when
Flo opened her eyes, and looked round with a bewildered
air, as if hardly knowing yet where she was.

‘Good-morning to your ladyship!’ cried the author, with
a cheery laugh; ‘you’re just in good time for breakfast.
Here, Cramwell, bear a hand and pass these two mugs for’ard
—just a brimmer a-piece for you !’

‘Where are we now?’ asked the Hollowdale master in a
low voice, as he steadied himself to carry the two offered
mugs of tea.

‘That’s just what we’re going to try and find out, pres-
ently,’ said Hardy, in the same tone; ‘but I think we may
as well have our breakfast first.’

Myr Cramwell took the hint, and said no more.

‘What! Have you really been alle to make tea, Mr Hardy,
with the boat jumping like that all the time?’ cried Flo,
drinking off her warm tea with great relish, ‘What a
wonderful man you are, to be sure!’

“Of course I am, or what would be the use of being an
author!’ laughed Hardy. ‘On paper, you know, I can,
138 WHAT THE DAY BROUGHT.

whenever I like, be the bravest, wisest, and noblest man in
the whole world; but when I’m called upon to do so in
reality, I don’t somehow or other come out quite so well.
Now, Cramwell, I’ll just give you and Miss Florimel your
allowance of food, and then I’ll go and serve out for myself
and our friend Hugh.’

But when the food was offered to Trevenna, he stoutly
refused it, and declared his intention of keeping to his own
rough fare till ‘some’at happened.’

‘Ican git along well enough on this dried fish and brown
bread,’ said he, ‘but yon little lass can’t; so thee’d best
keep the fine fare for her, and let me shift for myself.’

From this resolution nothing could move the young hero ;
and Hardy, touched by this piece of unselfish forethought,
could only mark his sense of it by sharing the coarse fare to
which Hugh proposed to confine himself—a proof of good-
fellowship with which the latter was visibly pleased.

By ten o’clock the wind was falling fast, and the sea
going down along with it; and a pale, watery gleam over-
head, struggling through the breaking clouds, gave them
hopes of a return of yesterday’s sunshine. And, in fact, a
little before noon, the absent sun came out as warm and
bright as ever, and the four castaways felt quite comfortable
again.

It was all in vain, however, that they did their utmost to
find out where they were, or even to make a guess at the
distance which the gale had driven them. Hugh himself,
with all his sea-knowledge, could give them no help in
settling the question ; and as there was no land in sight, and
no instrument in the boat that could aid their calculation,
they were not very likely to settle it for themselves.

The one thing of which they could be sure (though this
in itself was no small consolation) was that they must be
right in the track of all outward-hound vessels holding a
southerly or westerly course out of the Channel, and thus
could hardly fail to be picked up ere long; so Hardy and
WHAT THE DAY BROUGHT. 139

Trevenna decided that, instead of putting-about and attempt-
ing to run back—which, indeed, the wind was still too strong
to permit—they would ‘stand-off-and-on,’ in the hope of
sighting and hailing some passing vessel.

Sure enough, they did sight, in the course of the afternoon,
no fewer than three sailing-vessels, and one tolerably large
steamer ; but though they did their utmost to attract atten-
tion, all their efforts were in vain. Unhappily for them, the
waves were still high enough to hide the boat completely
when down in the trough of the sea; and they had no flag
to hoist, and no firearms with which to make a signal.

When the steamer, from which they had hoped the most
(for at one time she really had seemed to be standing right
for them), melted at length into the creeping dimness of
evening, Flo’s bright face fell again, and her father, fearing
that the child might not escape a second night of exposure
as easily as the first, began to look very gloomy indeed ; but
the indomitable Hardy laughed as cheerily as ever.

‘Better luck next time,’ cried he, tenderly smoothing out
the child’s storm-tangled locks as he bent down to kiss her.
‘T’ll tell you what, Miss Flo—we must borrow a lock of this
golden hair of yours to run up to the mast-head for a signal ;
no one can help seeing the glitter of that, you know. I say,
wouldn’t some of my rejected contributors clap their hands
for joy if they could see me in this fix !’

‘T know one rejected contributor that won’t, anyhow,’ said
the little lady meaningly, as she returned the caress with
interest. ‘Look, look! isn’t that a ship yonder?”

‘Where?’ asked her father eagerly, as he sprang forward,
and followed her pointing finger with his eyes toward the
glowing western sky, which was now all ablaze with the
glory of the sunset.

‘Let me see,’ cried Hardy gazing in his turn. ‘Yes, there
certainly is a vessel of some sort down there. I can make out
one of her masts plain enough ; but the other mast seems to
be broken. Can she be a wreck ?”




























































































































































































CHAPTER XVIL

THE STRANGE VESSEL.





this gloomy suggestion, which, if true, would
make their already forlorn case worse instead of
better, the faces of his hearers fell, and for a
moment or two no one ventured to speak.

‘Here, Trevenna, my lad,’ called out the
author, ‘give me the helm, and come and see what you make
of this craft.’

The keen-eyed boatman took his turn of inspection, and
then said confidently :

‘Furriner, by her lines; hove-to, she be; ben’t a wreck,
though, but I take it she’s got damaged by the gale, for I see
folk at work in her riggin’’

This sounded more hopeful ; and it was hastily agreed that
as the strange vessel lay to leeward of them, and as the wind
had now fallen enough to make it possible for them to hoist
the sail without any risk of capsizing the boat, they should
set it at once, and run down to the stranger, whoever she
might be.

This was quickly done; and as they neared her, it soon
became clear that Hugh was right. Seven or cight men were
seen hard at work upon the rigging of the motionless vessel,
which had indeed suffered not a little. She had carried away
her fore-topmast, her bowsprit was snapped, and more than
one wide breach yawned in her bulwarks.




;
‘Here, Trevenna, . . . come and see what you make of this craft.’
J
THE STRANGE VESSEL. 141

As the boat came within hail of her, Hardy pointed to her
stern, which was turned toward them, and said with his
jolly laugh :

‘See, Flo, you’re in luck! Now you'll have a chance to
practise your Spanish.’

And, sure enough, they could all see painted across the
stern :

‘SAN FELIPE, CORUNA.’

‘Schooner ahoy !’ called out Seymour Hardy, in Spanish.

At the hail, a lean, sallow, hard-featured man, with a
ragged black beard, looked over the port-quarter, and replied
in a harsh, grating voice :

‘Hallo! Who are you?

‘We are English castaways, out in this boat two days and
anight. We have not much money with us, as you may
suppose ; but we are people of good position, and can make
it worth your while to take us on board, and carry us to the
nearest English port.’

‘Come on board, and we can talk it over,’ rejoined the
Spanish captain—for such he seemed to be. ‘We'll heave
you a rope directly.’

‘Cap’n,’ whispered Hugh Trevenna, who had been eyeing
the Spaniard keenly, ‘I don’t like the cut o’ this chap’s jib
nohow.’

Nor did Hardy himself, though for a different reason.

Used to judge by men’s faces rather than their words, the
veteran traveller had watched closely, while he was speaking,
the gaunt, dark visage above him. He had noticed the
sudden light in the Spaniard’s small black eyes at the men-
tion of the word Ingleses (English), nor had it escaped him
that, on the other hand, the announcement of their quality as
gente de razon (people of good position) and the hint of a
reward for landing them in England, seemed to have no effect
on him at all.

From this the shrewd editor concluded that, for some
reason or other, this man was actually glad to find that his
142 © THE STRANGE VESSEL.

new guests were English, rather than countrymen of his own,
and that, moreover, he had some secret cause for not being
inclined to alter his course, even with the prospect of making
money by it. What all this meant, they could find out later
on; but, in the meantime, Hardy resolved to be on his guard,
and to put his companions on theirs.

‘Keep your eyes open, my lad, and stick close to me,’ he
muttered in Trevenna’s ear, in reply to the latter’s whispered
caution.

And then, while pretending to adjust Flo’s cloak around
her, he said to her in a whisper :

‘Whatever you do, dear, be sure you don’t speak a word
of Spanish, or let any one know that you understand it !’

Poor Flo looked very blank at this, for she had just been
rejoicing greatly at this unlooked-for chance of airing her
Spanish. But of course, ‘Mr Hardy’ must know best, and
the little heroine bravely choked down her disappointment.

A few minutes later they were all standing on the deck of
the St Philip, their boat having been made fast and left tow-
ing astern.

The first thing to settle was where the new-comers were to
be quartered, and this was soon arranged. Cramwell, whom
Hardy represented as an invalid, a character but too well
sustained by his thin face and haggard look, was established,
along with his ‘servant’—that is, Hugh Trevenna—in the
vacant berth of the second mate, who had died on the voyage ;
and a little hutch next door to it, once used as a store-room,
was hastily fitted up for Flo, who was in high glee at sleep-
ing in a hammock for the first time in her life.

As for Seymour Hardy, he was doomed to share the cabin
of the first mate, a bectle-browed, hangdog-looking fellow,
carrying with him a stifling reek of garlic and stale tobacco ;
but, for some reason or other, this arrangement, so far from
discusting our hero, seemed to afford him the highest satisfac-
tion.
THE STRANGE VESSEL. 143

By the time that the Spanish captain—who, to give him
his due, seemed quite disposed to be civil to his unbidden
guests, and to do his best for them—had made all these
arrangements, supper was ready ; and down they sat to it in
the small, dark, dirty, stifling cabin, which was a dismal
change from their clean and comfortable hotel in the Scilly
Isles.

Down they sat, but not all; for poor Mr Cramwell’s half-
restored health was quite unfit to sustain the hardships and
anxieties of the strange voyage that he had so unexpectedly
undertaken ; and now that the strain was removed, he broke
down at once. So, he being this prostrated, and Hugh Tre-
venna told off to look after him, the party at table consisted
only of the Spanish captain and mate, Flo Cramwell, and
Seymour Hardy.

Flo herself was by far the gayest of the whole group ; for,
strangely enough, the fearful trial that had overthrown her
father, which might well have been expected to prostrate her
first of all, seemed to have passed over her without leaving
any effect whatever. She laughed incessantly, prattled gaily
in English (for she had not forgotten Hardy’s caution to con-
ceal her knowledge of Spanish), and ate with as hearty a
relish as if the daintiest pastry in London had been before
her, instead of gritty ship-biscuit and greasy bacallao, that
leathery, flannel-coloured salt-fish which any one who has
voyaged in a Spanish or Portuguese sailing-ship knows to his
cost.

The meal was about half over, when in came Hugh to have
his supper, and to report that Mr Cramwell seemed more com-
fortable, but was not inclined for any food.

‘The best thing he can have just now is a good sleep,’ said
Hardy ; ‘and I think that’s the right prescription for you too,
Miss Flo,’ added he, turning to the little heroine, who was at
length beginning to show signs of drowsiness. ‘Come, say
ta-ta, and off you go!’

Flo obeyed at once; and when the Cornishman made an
144 THE STRANGE VESSEL.

end of his meal a few minutes later, Hardy said to him, with
an indifferent air :

‘Now, Trevenna, if you’ve done your supper, I wish you’d
kindly go and look if Mr Cramwell is asleep, and if he’s not,
see whether he wants anything ; and after that, I don’t think
I need trouble you any more to-night.’

The last words were pointed with a meaning glance, to
which Hugh replied by a look of intelligence.

In fact, all this, though done too naturally to excite any
suspicion, was really part of a secret plan of Hardy’s own.
While seeming to be absorbed in his meal, he had surprised
more than one significant glance between the Spanish mate
and captain, and had also noticed that the latter appeared
several times to be on the point of saying something to him,
and then seemed to change his mind at the last moment.
This had been so especially noticeable just when Trevenna
came in, as to make Hardy feel sure that, but for Hugh’s
sudden entrance, the Spaniard would have spoken out then
whatever he had to say; and our hero, having reasons of his
own for giving hima fair chance to do so, cleared the way
for it by getting rid of Flo and Trevenna.

The result was just what he had expected. The mate left
the cabin, exchanging another meaning look with the captain
as he did so; and while the mulatto cabin-boy began to clear
the table, the worthy skipper said to his guest, with a great
show of cordiality :

‘Since I cannot persuade you, sefior, to taste this wine
(and I can promise you that it is worth trying), may I hope
for the pleasure of your company on deck, over a real Cuban
cigarillo? Let me offer you one that I can vouch for.’

Hardy had indeed refused the wine, being no drinker ; but
though he was no smoker either, he did not think fit to
decline the cigar, knowing that this would be the worst insult
which he could offer to a Spaniard. He lighted the Havanna,
therefore, and made a show of beginning to smoke it, as he
followed the captain out on to the poop.
THE STRANGE VESSEL. 145

Here all was still. The repairs were at an end for the
night, the sailors, like true Spaniards, having left off work
as early as possible, though they made up for it, as Charles
Lamb did, by beginning work as late as they could. Not a
sound was heard, save the lapping of the water against the
schooner’s sides; and the moon, which had just broken
through the clouds in all its glory, poured down a flood of
light upon the deck, giving to the ill-kept, slovenly vessel a
beauty not her own, while hiding all her dirt and disorder.

‘The captain lit his cigar, and, after glancing keenly around,
as if to make sure that no one was within earshot, began to
question his guest as to the details of his strange cruise, and
the circumstances that had brought him and his three friends
into such a plight.

This, of course, might be no more than the curiosity natural
to any man in such a case. But it did not escape the shrewd
traveller, who often learned most from seeming trifles, that
the Spaniard’s questions seemed all to aim at finding out
indirectly whether he or either of his comrades had any skill
in navigation, or any previous experience of the sea.

Hardy, already guessing with what motive these inquiries
were made, replied by speaking warmly of their extreme good
fortune in escaping so well, when there was not a single sailor
among them.

‘But had we not had the luck to fall in with you, sefior, I
don’t know what would have become of us, helpless as we
were. I myself, though I have some idea of finding my way
about on land, am no more use than a baby at sea. My
friend is a scholar and a student, not a sailor ; and as for that
young fellow who serves them—well, I’d back him to pull an
oar with any man alive, but as for his sailing a ship or a
boat, I should not like to be aboard her if he did!’

Hardy happened to have seated himself with his back to
the moonlight, so as to have a full view of his companion’s
face, while keeping his own in the shade ; and the momentary
look of chagrin that flitted over the captain’s dark features at
146 THE STRANGE VESSEL.

these last words, slight and passing as it was, amply sufficed
to confirm the shrewd Englishman’s half-formed suspicions.

‘Well, to be plain with you, sefior,’ rejoined the Spaniard,
with a show of perfect frankness at which Hardy inwardly
chuckled, ‘I am sorry to hear you say so, for I had hoped—
I will not deny it—that you might have been able to do me
a service.’

‘Any service that I or my friends can do you, sefior, you
may consider already done,’ said Hardy, bowing courteously.

‘I have no doubt of it, sefior,’ replied the captain, who
seemed bent upon covering his momentary discomposure with
an assumption of extra politeness ; ‘but, unhappily, you have
just shown it to be out of the question. We have lost our
second mate, as you know, and thus the whole strain of the
duty falls upon me and the first mate ; and I had hoped that
if either of you noble gentlemen were skilled in navigation,
you might be so gracious as to help us to carry the ship
home.’

‘I beg you to believe, sefior captain, that it is the power
and not the will that is wanting. But let me remind you
that you are within two days’ run of Penzance, where your
repairs (toward the cost of which my friend and I will gladly
contribute as a slight acknowledgment of your kindness)
can be done much better than here, and where you will easily
get some better navigator than ourselves to ship with you
for the rest of the voyage.’

‘You are very good, Sefior Inglese, but that is not to be
thought of, said the other, with the first sign of impatience
that he had yet shown. ‘We must go straight to Corunna,
the port for which we are bound. I am very sorry to be
forced to carry you so far away from home, but there is really
no help for it; and I trust that you will not blame me for
what I cannot avoid.’

Here he paused for a moment, and then added, with a
studied indifference which convinced Hardy that this was the
most important point of the whole talk ;
THE STRANGE VESSEL, 147

‘I hope, sefior, that though you cannot aid me to navigate
the ship, I may count upon you to stand by me if I need
help. For example, in case I were to be threatened with
violence’

He stopped short, as if fearing to say more than he in-
tended; but he had already said enough. All his previous
behaviour—his pleasure at their coming, and his satisfaction
on learning that they were English—was fully explained now ;
and Hardy was face to face with the agreeable certainty that
he and his friends had escaped the sea, only to find them-
selves on a vessel whose crew were ripe for mutiny and
murder !
























































CHAPTER XVIII.

OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.

es consequences of this new and fearful
dilemma, and his heart sank as he did so. For
himself, he had come safe out of many a worse
‘scrape’ by his own skill and courage ; but the
untried Cramwell, and the helpless child, and the simple-
hearted Cornishman—what of them 4

But Seymour Hardy was not the man to let his looks
betray him; and, racked as he was with inward anxiety,
his face told no tales. He uttered some smooth common-
place about its being the duty of every man to repel violence,
and to aid those exposed to it; and then he went on to say,
with an admirably feigned air of innocence :

‘Happily, sefior captain, you can have no violence to fear
aboard your own ship, and in the midst of your own crew.’

‘Haven't I?’ cried the worthy skipper, who, now that he
had once broken the ice, seemed to have decided upon taking
Hardy fully into his confidence. ‘So long as we had fire-
arms, I feared nothing, for one man with them is worth a
dozen without; but now that my double-barrel’s got out of
order, and that the mate’s pistols have gone overboard in
the storm, it’s a very different story.’

Hardy listened with an air of deep sympathy ; but beneath
it lay hid a firm conviction that a vessel in which the mate


OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE. 149

carried his pistols on deck with him, and the captain kept
his men in order with a double-barrelled gun, must have
witnessed cruelty enough to explain, even if it did not excuse,
any outbreak on the part of the crew; and there was
certainly nothing in the captain’s face, or in that of his
worthy colleague, to contradict such an idea.

‘I am to understand, then, sefior,’ said the Englishman, as
quietly as ever, ‘that you have some fear of a mutiny on
board ?” :

‘I have, indeed,’ growled the Spaniard ; ‘and though we
are now five men instead of two, thanks to your coming, for
which the saints be praised, these dogs are vicious enough to
try it, even now.’

‘Excuse my suggesting, then, sefior,’ said Hardy politely,
‘that that is all the more reason to make at once for Pen-
zance, as the nearest port.’

‘Sefior Inglese,’ cried the captain, in an angry tone, ‘I
have already told you that it is impossible, and I beg you
will say no more about it. Everything depends on our
getting home to Corunna as fast as we can; that is,’ he
added, somewhat confusedly, ‘the whole profit of the voyage
will be lost to me—for I should tell you that I am part-owner
of this craft—unless I can get my cargo home in time to
dispose of it to advantage.’

The shrewd traveller took this excuse for what it was
worth, the rolling of the vessel having already assured him
that, if not actually ‘in ballast,’ she had, at all events, not
enough cargo in her to keep her steady. But he had reasons
for not letting his doubts appear just then; and his sole
reply was a polite apology for having given offence.

The talk lasted some little time longer, but Hardy could
easily see that the captain had now said all that he had been
wishing to say; and at length the Spaniard, his cigar being
smoked out, rose, and excusing himself to his guest on the
ground that he would have to be on deck again ere long to
keep the middle watch, went below, and fell asleep almost
150 OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.

as soon as he turned in, which was more than Seymour

Hardy did.

Next morning Mr Cramwell, having slept twelve hours at
a stretch, felt so much better that he determined to get up;
and, though still weak, and not yet equal to taking his place
at table with the rest, was able, when carried on deck by
Hardy and Trevenna, to enjoy the contents of a tin of
preserved meat which the provident globe-trotter had pocketed
before quitting the boat, leaving the rest of their stores
safely locked up in her stern-locker, the key of which was
in his own pocket.

While Cramwell was at breakfast, the Spanish captain,
who had contrived to finish his meal a little before the rest,
came up to him; for, having already seen that he was not
likely to get much out of Hardy, the wily Spaniard thought
this a good chance to ‘pump’ another member of the party.
But when addressed in Spanish, Mr Cramwell—who, like
his daughter, had already been cautioned by Hardy on that
point—looked blank, and replied in English; so that the
worthy Captain Durante did not make much by that move,
after all.

Hardy himself, following a few moments later, came just
in time to witness the skipper’s discomfiture, the cause of
which he guessed at once, though he took care to look pro-
foundly unconscious.

With him came Flo, whose rosy face looked fresh as a
daisy after a hearty wash and a good sleep, though her
quarters had been as rough as Don Quixote’s in the inn-
garret, and who was still in the highest delight at the series
of strange adventures that had so suddenly fallen to her
lot.

‘Do you think these people are pirates, Mr Hardy?’ cried
she gleefully, as Captain Durante sheered off. ‘They have
all the look of it, haven’t they?’

Seymour Hardy laughed in spite of himself.
OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE. 151

‘Do you think you have got aboard a regular black-flag
corsair, Flo? And are you expecting me to “slaughter the
herd of ruffianly marauders” with the unaided might of my
valiant arm, divide their ill-gotten gains equally among us
four, and then sail the ship into Plymouth or Penzance, with
no one but Trevenna to help me? That’s how Reader
Staggered, or Stark Muscle, or Redmond MacSlaughter
would have made the story end, I have no doubt.’

And then he added more gravely :

‘If you had seen as much of pirates as I have, my pet,
you would not be so eager to fall in with them. I can assure
you, I’m very thankful that we are not likely to meet with
any just now. Well, here comes Trevenna; suppose you
get him to tell you some stories about King Arthur, while I
look after your father a bit.’

The fact was, that our hero had no wish to arouse the
Spanish captain’s suspicions (as the sight of all three of them
holding a private conference was sure to do) till he had
learned just how matters stood aboard the schooner, of which,
as he rightly guessed, the worthy skipper would only tell
him what suited himself. On the other hand, there could
be nothing strange in his attending to his sick friend ; so,
as soon as he had got rid of Flo and Trevenna, up he went
to the invalid, and said heartily :

‘Well, Cramwell, how do you feel now? .

‘Oh, I'll be all right again before long,’ replied the other,
who was just finishing, with evident relish, his tinned biscuits
and preserved meat; ‘but I am not quite equal yet to
eating in a hole like that. You see, I’m not as well used as
you to cabins like a pig-sty and berths like a coal-hole.’

‘I’m afraid that’s what you are likely to find on any
Spanish vessel ; but speak lower, for we can never tell who
may be listening, or how much they may understand.’

‘What do you mean? Is there any danger to us aboard
this precious craft?’

‘Plenty,’ said the author, as cheerily as if danger and
152 OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.

death were the very things for which he had been yearning
for months past.

And then, while making a show of rearranging his friend’s
wraps, he added in a low voice:

‘That’s why I passed off Trevenna as your servant, for
otherwise they might have sent him forward, along with the
crew ; and when it does come to a fight, as of course it will,
sooner or later, we shall need to have all our men together,
you know.’

‘Come, what is the good of going on like that?’ broke in
the master, in a tone of impatience that he made no effort to
hide. ‘One would think you were giving a lecture! Can’t
you tell me plainly, at once, what you have found out, and
what we have to fear?’

‘Plainly, then,’ said Hardy, ‘the captain won’t carry us to
England, having some strong reason for wishing to go straight
to his own port, Corunna, as fast as he can; and on the
other hand, the crew are just going to mutiny and try to cut
his throat, and, as such men are not in the habit of making
nice distinctions, they will probably cut ours at the same
time.’

Mr Cramwell had asked for plain speaking, and he had
certainly got it; but, judging from the expression of his face,
it did not please him much after all.

‘Is that really so?’ he asked, with a troubled glance at
the unconscious Flo.

‘To be sure it is,’ said the editor, with unabated cheerful-
ness ; ‘and that is why he was so pleased at our coming, for
of course he counts upon us to stand by him against the men,’
since we are in the same danger from them as he is, for if
they do kill him, of course they ll have to kill all of us as
well, that we may tell no tales.’ 7

‘But surely,’ said his friend, whose face had grown longer
with every word of this frank explanation, ‘if there is a row
brewing, that’s all the more reason to make at once for
England, as the nearest land there is.’
OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE. 153

‘So I ventured to suggest to our excellent captain ; but
the suggestion was so ill received, that I did not repeat it.
In my opinion, his real reason is’

Here he sank his voice so low, that even Mr Cramwell
himself could barely catch the last words of the sentence.

‘Do you really think so?’ cried he, with a start. ‘Why,
if it is so, and if the men get any inkling of it, it will make
matters ten times worse than before.’

‘Undoubtedly it will,’ replied the imperturbable Hardy, as
coolly as ever.

‘And what on earth are we to do, then?’ growled the
other, so angrily as to show that he was fairly driven to
desperation, not only by this sudden and seemingly hopeless
dilemma, but also by the exasperating coolness with which
his comrade persisted in treating it.

‘Well,’ rejoined Hardy, as composedly as if he were only
speaking of a move at chess, ‘I had thought of heading the
mutiny myself, boxing up the captain and mate under hatches,
and sailing the ship to the nearest port; but, in the first
place, I’m hardly sailor enough for that, and secondly, even
if I were, a crew of Spanish Catholics would never stand being
ordered about by “a heretic dog of an Englishman,” and so we
should just have a second mutiny on the back of the first.’

The Hollowdale master looked as if his eyes were going
to start out of his head. :

‘So far as I can see, then,’ went on Hardy, with the
calmness of a scientific lecturer, ‘our best plan now is to side
with the captain and mate when the row comes on, and just
fight it out. It’s a pity I left my revolver at home, but. it
can’t be helped. And now that all that is satisfactorily
settled, suppose you have a yarn with Flo, while I go and
talk to Trevenna.’

And away he sauntered to the other side of the poop.

‘« Satisfactorily settled,” indeed!’ muttered Mr Cramwell,
who, though naturally as brave a man as ever lived, had not,
like his friend, had that constant familiarity with danger


154 OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.

which proverbially breeds contempt; ‘why, I declare, he
talks of a fight for life and death with a whole gang of cut-
throats just as if it were a picnic !’

Meanwhile Hardy, as Flo ran eagerly up to her father,
lounged towards Hugh, and feigning to be questioning him
about some object in the offing, toward which he seemed to
point, said in a low tone:

‘My boy, I think there’s going to be a row aboard; will
you stand by me?’

‘Ay, that I will!’ replied the young giant heartily.
‘Thee and me ha’nt been shipmates long, but I knows a man
when I sees one, and I’ll stand by thee while there be two
planks o’ me together !’

This was all that was said ; but it was enough.

The repairs needed by the St Philip, which a handier and
more active crew might have completed in a day, had already
been spun out over two by the laziness of the Spanish crew,
or perhaps by some deeper motive on their part ; and the work
was prolonged over the following day likewise, which was a
very trying one to all the English castaways.

It was not the cold that troubled them; for Flo was well
wrapped up, and the other three were hardy and seasoned
men, who cared little for any extremes of weather. But
now there came upon them a damp white mist and drizzling
rain, which bore very hard on people who had no clothes
but those on their backs, since it gave them only the choice
of staying on deck and being wet through, or going below
and being stifled.

In fact, what with dirt, closeness, bad smells, rats, cock-
roaches, and other pests too familiar in all Spanish and
Portuguese ships to need mention, even Flo herself began to
feel as if they had by this time had almost enough of their
new quarters, and to agree with Hugh Trevenna’s plain-
spoken verdict, that ‘’twas every bit as bad as bein’ headed-
wp in a cask o’ rotten herrings !’
OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE. 155

The day after that, however—the third from their arrival—
the sky cleared again, the sun came out, and the air grew
perceptibly warmer; and, better still, the repairs were done
at last, and there was nothing left for them to do but to set
sail again.

But just then, as if the ups and downs of this extraordinary
voyage were never to end, the light breeze, which was
blowing just from the right quarter, suddenly died away,
and the lifeless heaviness of a ‘dead calm’ fell over sea and
sky.

The captain and mate looked blank, and growled curses
under their breath; the crew, muttering among themselves,
stole dark looks at them and at the English passengers; Hugh
Trevenna ‘whistled for a wind’ most perseveringly, though
with no sign of getting one; and the faces of Flo and her
father grew very long indeed. Hardy alone seemed as brisk
and blithe as ever; and, stepping lightly up to the mate,
who was pacing restlessly to and fro upon his watch on deck,
said to him, with an aggravating jollity in his tone and look
sufficient to drive his troubled hearer stark mad :

‘Well, Sefior Suarez, the weather seems bent on playing
us some very shabby tricks, eh? It seems hard, doesn’t it,
to be stuck fast like this, with such a smart set of hands to
work the ship, if she would only go!’

‘Smart hands, say you, Sefior Inglese?’ snarled the ate
with a venomous glance at the crew; ‘they ’re a set of lazy,
shirking rascals, whom I’d flog all round the deck, if I had
my way ; it’s the only plan to get any work out of them !’

“You are severe, sefior,’ said Hardy, with a pleasant smile ;
‘but, to be sure, the men seem to be no fonder of you than
you are of them, if I may judge by what one of ’em said
only this morning.’

‘What did he say?’ asked Suarez, with a sudden change
in his swaggering manner, and a nervous look toward the
sullen faces on the forecastle.

‘Well, he said (Gif you’ll excuse my repeating such rude

K
156 OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.

words), but of course they can only have been meant as a
joke, “ My knife owes a debt to that dog Suarez, and I hope
to have a chance to pay it ere long!”’

‘Can you point out the man who said it?’ asked the mate
in a tremulous voice, as his dark, sallow face grew pale as
death, satisfying the shrewd Englishman that he had judged
this fellow right, and that, with all his bluster, the bully was
a coward at heart.

‘No, I don’t think I could,’ said Hardy coolly ; ‘for, you
see, there were several of them at work there together ; and
then, too, it seemed to me that just after the first man spoke,
I heard two or three other voices mutter, “And so say I too!”
Very foolish of them, is it not, Sefior Suarez, to talk such
nonsense !’

And, so saying, he sauntered away, satisfied that he had
made the impression which he wished.

The fact was, that, apart from Hardy’s other suspicions of
the mate, which will appear later on, he felt sure that this
scoundrel, if once inclined to think that the crew might get
the wpper hand in the impending conflict, would try to save
his own worthless life by siding with them against the
captain and passengers; and the only way to prevent this
was to convince Master Suarez that the men hated him too
deeply ever to give him the chance.

But, if Hardy had been set to point out the man who had
uttered the threat, he would have been in a fine dilemma ;
for the ominous speech had been heard not by him, but by
Flo Cramwell. Knowing that such a child might run about
the deck as she pleased, without exciting any of the
suspicions that would fasten upon himself or his two comrades,
especially as she was not known to understand Spanish,
Hardy had told her that he suspected the crew of meaning
them foul play, and that if she heard any of the men use
threatening language either about the captain and mate, or
about the English party, she must be sure to let him know
at once.
OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE. 157

Delighted to find herself trusted with a mission of such
importance, the little woman discharged it with a tact beyond
her years, and, as we have seen, with results of no small
value ; and so elated was she with the praises bestowed upon
her by Hardy, that, with her little head full of Texan
pioneers, Anglo-Indian scouts, disguised knights and minstrels,
Alfred in the camp of the Danes, and no one knows what
besides, she made up her mind to venture forward once more
among the ‘ conspirators’—what a delicious word that was to
her !—and try whether she could not glean some fresh infor-
mation worth getting hold of.

And so, with her fancy all on fire with imaginary adven-
tures and perils, our heroine tripped along the deck in the
shadowy twilight, little thinking that every step which she
took brought her nearer to a real experience more adventurous
and perilous than all!














CHAPTER XIX.

A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF.

LO went on without interruption, for the few
|| sailors who had not gone below, and who were
lying idly about the deck, were by this time
quite used to the child’s presence among them,
and, if they noticed her passing figure at all
amid the fast-falling shadows of night, they paid no special
attention to it. Forward she went, and, ensconcing herself
behind one of the quarter-boats—which, having been swung
inward on to the deck to be cleaned and put to rights, had
not yet been restored to its place—watched admiringly the
reflection of the last glow of sunset in the glassy waters
below.

But this amusement soon began to pall, and Flo was
looking round for something else to employ her, when she
noticed all at once that the canvas cover, which had shielded
the boat from a West-Indian sun during the earlier part of
the voyage, had been only partly fastened up again, and that
it would be easy for her to creep inside.

Here was a glorious chance for her! In this new lurking-
place she could lie hid till every one was wondering what
had become of her, and then make a melodramatic appearance
just at the right moment ; or, better still, she might startle
one of the superstitious Spaniards by popping out upon him
all of a sudden, like a ghost, and then enjoy a good laugh at




A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF. 159

his groundless dismay. For Flo, be it observed, had not yet
realised in the least what merciless scoundrels these men
really were, and how great was the peril with which she and
her friends were menaced by their treacherous ferocity.
Seymour Hardy, not wishing to scare her, had spoken of
the impending danger as lightly as he could; and the girl’s
only idea of the intended ‘foul play’ was that these rough
fellows meditated a general ‘punching of heads’ all round.
The poor child never dreamed that the fell purpose of these
ruffians aimed at nothing less than the murder of the whole
cabin-party, herself included !

She lifted the loose canvas, and in a moment more had
slid down, noiselessly as a shadow, into the dark hollow
beneath.

But this practical joke turned to sad earnest for our poor
little heroine, just as it had done with her renowned pre-
decessor, the ill-starred lady of the ‘Mistletoe Bough.’
Hardly had she got well settled in her strange hiding-place,
when heavy steps were heard approaching. Captain Durante’s
harsh voice was audible just above her, muttering something
about ‘careless rascals’ to a companion whose voice showed
him to be Suarez, the mate; and then her dismayed ear
caught the sound of a cord running sharply through the
eyelet-holes of the boat-cover, while she found herself all at
once in total darkness, and the air suddenly became thick
and close. The cover had been made fast over her head,
and she was a prisoner !

Flo’s first impulse was, naturally, to jump up and call out ;
but a sudden thought checked her ere she had time to do so.

Her shrewd wits had already perceived that Hardy had
his suspicions of the Spanish captain himself as well as of
the crew, and she was not without a hope that now—being,
as he thought, alone with his sole confidante, the mate—he
might let out something that might be worth reporting to
Hardy. As for her imprisonment, that troubled her little,
for she had the means of getting free whenever she liked.
160 A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF.

During her stay in the Scilly Isles, old Paul Trevenna, who
was quite as fond of her as his stalwart son, had completed
her ‘sailor-rig’ of navy-blue jacket and low-crowned hat with
the gift of a small sheath-knife, which, she still wore at her
belt, and with which she could easily cut her way out at
need. So, with a prudence beyond her years, Flo kept
perfectly quiet, and held her breath to listen.*

To her great chagrin, however, the two worthies exchanged
no more words, and tramped away together.

Flo, thus baulked, had already drawn her knife to free
herself from the imprisoning canvas, when she was stopped
short by hearing a gruff voice growl out close beside her:

‘A plague on my bad luck! If that dog of a captain had
been alone, I would have had my knife in him at once; but
now the two rogues seem to keep always together. Can
they have begun to suspect anything, think you?’

‘Not likely,’ said a second voice, which Flo knew for that
of Blas Herrero, the boatswain; ‘but speak low, for you
can’t tell who may be listening. I saw the English girl pass
this way not long ago.’

‘Bah! She must have gone aft again by this time ; and it
would not matter if she hadn’t, for she don’t know a word of
Spanish.’

At this last remark, the unseen listener chuckled mischiev-
ously to herself; but the next words made her feel grave
enough.

‘Anyhow, it’s as well to be quite sure; I’ll just go and
see if there’s any one behind this boat, and if there is, they
shall tell no tales !’

And then Flo heard the speaker scramble to his feet, and
step round behind the boat. Even then he did not seem
quite satisfied, and began to feel the canvas cover suspiciously,
as if to make sure of its being securely fastened.

The scraping of his horny fingers along the canvas, close

* The adventure here ascribed to my heroine was really one of my
own.—D. K.
A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF, 161

to her face, brought the poor girl’s heart into her mouth ;
for by this time she knew -what sort of men she had to deal
with, and what mercy she might expect if caught. But,
finding the cover fast, the ruffian seemed to be satisfied that
no one could be hidden beneath it. He seated himself in
his place again, and the talk was resumed.

‘When are we to fall on, boatswain? My comrades are
getting tired of waiting, and, St Jago! so am I!’

‘Patience, lad! you spoil the stew, if you take it up before
it’s cooked. Don’t you see, you thick-headed mule, that so
long as this plaguy calm lasts, our precious captain and mate
—nnischief take ’em both !—have nothing to do but to stick
together, and be on their guard! But wait till the wind
springs up, and the ship has to be worked again, and they
keep watch and watch about, one on deck and t’ other below,
and then we’ll have a chance to settle ’em easy, one at a
time !’

‘But what if these English dogs give trouble? They are
all strong fellows, and likely enough to show fight ; for these
English blockheads will always fight, even when they have
no chance—they ’ve not got the sense to know when they are
beaten.’

‘Let ’em try it! Nuts are hard, but they can be cracked.
Even with them, and the captain and mate together,. there
would be only five of ’em; and we are fifteen, counting
Pepito.’

This last word was a thunderbolt to poor Flo, who well
remembered having heard the captain say that Pepito, the
mulatto cabin-boy, was quite devoted to him, and that he
could trust him if he could trust any one. And now, it
seemed, Pepito was a traitor too. What next?

‘Pepito! ha, ha!’ echoed the other, with a laugh like
that of a hyena over a rifled grave. ‘That fool Durante
thinks that the boy is true to him, and fond of him—ho, ho!
Ay, so fond of him that he’d eat him raw if he could!
The bibroncito (little scamp) has not forgotten the broken


162 A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF.

head Durante gave him off Cape Ortegal, when we first
started, and he has not forgiven it either! Well, we’re
ready when you give the word. I suppose we are to kill all
the English ?”

‘Of course,’ said the boatswain, with equal coolness, ‘all
the men, at least. As to the girl, she might fetch a good
price if we could sell her for a slave in Colombia or Venezuela;
and that’s easy to do without any one being the wiser, as
you and I know, eh, Lopez?’

His brother-ruffian answered only with a wolfish grin.

‘And when the job’s done,’ went on the boatswain, ‘I’m
to be captain—mind that !’

‘No one can say a word against that,’ replied Lopez, ‘for
you are the only one of us who knows anything of sailing a
ship ; but I daresay I can make shift to be your first mate,
and then ’——

The next few sentences uttered by the two plotters were
spoken so low that even Flo’s quick ears could not catch a
word of them ; but she had already heard more than enough.
The oaths and foul language with which the worthy pair
garnished their talk were happily a mystery to her, and her
knowledge of Spanish still fell short of many other words
which they had used; but what she had understood was
amply sufficient to lay bare to her the whole of their villainous
plot.

Then the full horror of the situation seemed to fall upon
the forlorn child all at once. She felt sick and dizzy, and
for a moment thought that she was about to faint outright.

In fact, it was only by a desperate effort that she forced
herself to bear up against the strain; but happily her trial
was now almost at an end, for the two worthies, having
exchanged a few more muttered words, of which she could
make nothing, rose to their feet, and moved slowly away.

The instant they were fairly gone, out came Flo’s knife,
and in a trice she was free. But, brave as she was, the girl
had now reached the limit of her endurance. For the first

,
A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF. 163

time in her life, she felt utterly helpless and lost, and the
one thought in her mind was a wild longing to be back
among her friends once more, to feel Hardy’s strong arm
supporting her head, and hear her father’s cheery voice speak-
ing comfort to her. :

How she was able to make her way aft again she never
knew; but scarcely had she reached the spot where her
friend Hardy was seated, when she sank heavily across his
feet in a dead faint!




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































CHAPTER XX.

FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN.

pjUCKILY no one witnessed this collapse but
j| Hardy himself, and he was the very man for
such an emergency. Divining at once the real
cause of Flo’s strange agitation, and knowing that
the rascally mate was at no great distance, the
wary traveller uttered neither word nor sound as he bestirred
himself to restore the child to consciousness; and happily
it was now so dark that her condition was not likely to be
noticed.

In a few minutes he felt a long shiver run through the
slight form that he held, and the closed eyes slowly opened.

‘Keep them off! Don’t let them touch me!’ were Flo’s
first words, uttered in a kind of choking gasp. ‘Oh, Mr
Hardy, is this you? You’ll keep me safe, won’t you?’

‘No one shall touch you while I am here, darling,’ said
Hardy, drawing her close to him. ‘Lie still, and tell me
quietly all about it.’

But this was easier said than done; for poor Flo’s nerves
were so utterly unstrung that it was some time ere she could
either collect her thoughts or put them into words when
she had done so.

‘I’m so sorry to have been such a coward, Mr Hardy,’
said she at length ; ‘but really it was very horrid, coming all
at once like that.’


FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN. 165

‘I’m sure it must have been, my pet, and I don’t wonder
it upset you,’ said Hardy, easily guessing to what she must
be alluding. ‘As for your being a coward, I’ll believe that
when I see it. Come, pull yourself together, and let me
hear what these fellows are at.’

And Flo told him the whole story, as briefly and clearly
as she could.

Hardy heard her to the end without a word; but at
the mention of the scoundrelly boatswain’s vile design to
sell her into hopeless bondage in South America,* she
felt a sudden quiver run through the strong arm that up-
held her, as if it were already clutching Blas Herrero’s
throat.

‘Well done, dear!’ said Hardy at length, as cheerily as
ever; ‘you have been the smartest of us all, this time.
Now, don’t go and worry yourself about these rogues one bit ;
for, with God’s help, we’ll be a match for ’em yet, and not
one of them shall lay a finger on you, I give you my word.
See, here comes Pepito to tell us that supper is ready, so
we'll just go down together; and be sure,’ he added in a
low whisper, ‘that you let no one see a sign of your having
heard anything to scare you.’

The little heroine proved herself worthy of Hardy’s trust,
for at the supper-table her face told no tales; and just as
little could any one have guessed, from the blithe look and
cheery voice of Hardy himself, that he was pondering all the
time how to save his own life and those of all his companions
from the impending stroke of murder.

But everything seemed to turn against poor Hardy just
then; for the mulatto cabin-boy, Pepito, before whom our
hero could not, of course, say anything, knowing him to be an
accomplice of the mutineers, was strangely slow and_clumsy
in doing his work that night; and when it was done, and the
meal was at an end, the captain and mate went out together

* Such a crime, unhappily, is by no means impossible even now; I have
known of at least one case of it myself.—D. K.
166 FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN,

ere he had time to warn them that he had got something of
importance to say to them both.

But Hardy was well used to have to wait for his chance,
and he showed no sign of impatience. Going up on to the
poop, he pretended to be watching the play of the rising moon
on the water, while in reality he was looking keenly at
Trevenna’s boat, which was still towing astern, and at the
rope that held it. At length a heavy step behind him made
him turn round, to find himself face-to-face with the Spanish
captain.

‘Beautiful moonlight, sefior captain,’ said the traveller, in
a tone of quiet enjoyment; ‘I should think it must remind
you of Spain.’

But the worthy captain seemed to be in no mood for art-
criticism just then. He gave a sulky grunt, and replied with
an air of marked impatience :

‘Sefior, we have other things than moonlight to think of
just now. If this calm lasts much longer, those dogs forward
may get impatient, and who knows what they will do?’ P

‘I know what they will do, from their own words,’ said
Hardy, as quietly as ever ; ‘and as to the calm, you ought to
be glad that it does last, for its ceasing will be a signal of
death to us all!’

‘What do you mean?’ faltered the captain, starting and
turning pale.

‘Speak lower, sefior—we do not know who may be
listening. Walk up and down with me, and then, as I have
my sea-cap on, any one who may be watching from the fore-
castle will take me for the mate sharing your watch. Now,
listen to me!’

And then, in a few forcible words, he gave his startled
hearer the chief points of the plot—the project of attacking
and butchering them all as soon as the wind sprang up again,
the treachery of Pepito (at which the captain looked doubly
dismayed), and the intention of the mutineers to make the
boatswain their new captain, and carry away the schooner to
FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN. 167

- South America, where they would doubtless dispose of her,
and then share the spoil and disperse.

Such a revelation, so suddenly made, might well have tried
the nerve of the bravest man; but the marked and feverish
disquiet shown by Captain Durante was not to be explained
thus, for it was not so much like a man confronting a sudden
peril, as like one who, unexpectedly placed between two evils,
was at a loss how to choose the least.

‘Sefior Inglese,’ said he, turning suddenly to Hardy, ‘can I
trust you?’

‘I am an Englishman, sefior,’ replied the other, ‘and you
certainly can trust me, if you think fit.’

But apparently the captain did not think fit, for his con-
fidence went no further. He paced to and fro for a few
moments like one distracted, and then, coming up to Hardy
again, asked in a tone of helplessness that fully bore out the
bold traveller’s previous estimate of him: ‘What would you
advise us to do then, sefior ?’

‘Well, it seems to me that there are only two courses open
to us,’ said Hardy, with the air of a lecturer discussing a
scientific problem ; ‘either to quell the mutiny by main force,
imprison the crew under hatches, and carry the ship into port
ourselves, in which I shall be glad to give you what help I
can ; or else to make our escape in that boat which is towing
astern, and take our chance of being picked up by some
passing ship.’

The captain twisted and writhed in a perfect agony of in-
decision at the agreeable choice which Hardy propounded so
coolly ; and the Englishman, watching his terrors with a smile
of quiet scorn, muttered to himself: ‘A pretty fellow this, to
call himself a Spaniard! The brave men whom I used to
mect in Spain would hardly own him as a brother !’

‘As to taking the ship by force, sefior,’ said the skipper, in
a desponding tone, ‘five men cannot fight a whole ship’s
company. There is nothing for it but flight.’

‘In that case,’ replied Hardy, as coolly as before, ‘we had
168 FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN.

better keep as much as possible on the poop, which, when the
rush comes, two of us can defend against the whole gang
till the others are safe aboard the boat. We should put as
much food and water aboard of her as we can without
exciting suspicion ; and if you, sefior captain, have anything
that you wish to take with you, it may be put in at once,
too.’

‘And what should I have to take with me?’ asked the
Spaniard, facing quickly round upon him with a sharp,
suspicious look.

‘Why, I thought,’ replied our hero, with an innocent air,
‘that you might be glad to take any spare clothes that you
have with you, for we shall have a cold and wet voyage of it
in an open boat at this season; and a cloak or a blanket, if
you have one, would not be out of place, I think.’

‘Yes—to be sure—just so,’ stammered the other confusedly.
‘You are right, Sefior Inglese, and I thank you for the hint.
Good-night to you!’ And he turned hastily away, plainly
wishing to avoid any further talk.

Hardy glanced after him with another scornful smile ; for
he could read the fellow’s thoughts as clearly as if they had
been put into words, and his former suspicions were now
changed to certainty. Beyond all doubt the captain had with
him either money or valuables to no small amount; and this
amply explained his strange indifference to Hardy’s offers,
and his feverish eagerness to get back to his native port at
once, while his recent agitation, his suspicions of Hardy, and
his hesitation whether to take the latter into his confidence or
not, were also fully accounted for.

On going below Hardy found that Mr Cramwell was already
asleep ; and, feeling sure that no attempt would be made that
night, he forbore to break the rest of his friend, who would
be certain to need all his strength ere long, with the news of
the deadly peril that menaced them all.

Hugh Trevenna, however, was still astir; and to him our
hero briefly told the whole story, adding a few short aud
FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN. 169

simple directions for the impending crisis, to which the brave
young Cornishman, who seemed not in the least disturbed by
the fearful tidings, replied only with an assenting nod.

In spite of all this, Hardy was on deck by dawn on the
following morning, with a new anxiety on his mind, as if
those that already burdened it were not enough. He had not
forgotten the convulsion of mingled rage and terror which
had distorted Durante’s wolfish face on learning the treachery
of the half-breed cabin-boy, Pepito; and he fully expected
that this ruffian, whom he rightly judged to be capable of any
crime that did not require courage, would kill the mulatto as
soon as the boy came within reach, and thus bring the whole
crew down upon them ere they were ready to meet the
attack.

But, look as he might, no boy was to be seen; and, ina
moment more, Hardy had something else to think of, for, as
he turned in his walk up and down the poop, he suddenly
felt a faint breath of wind upon his left cheek. It was the
springing up of the breeze which was to be the signal of
destruction for them all.

Yes, the time had come at last; and the brave man’s heart
rose to meet the danger, as it had done in similar perils many
a time before.

But just then the captain’s voice was heard below, shouting
with all his might for Pepito, who, though the hour was
already past at which he usually came aft to light the cabin-
fire and lay the table for breakfast, had not yet made his
appearance.

The boy did not reply ; but, after a moment, a voice shouted
from the forecastle: ‘He says that he’s sick, and can’t turn
out.’

The captain growled a savage curse through his set teeth,
and was just turning fiercely toward the forecastle, when
Hardy, who had just come up beside him as if by accident,
said in a low voice: ‘For heaven’s sake, captain, don’t go
170 FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN.

forward! Don’t you see it’s only a trick of these fellows to
get you there alone, and then murder you? Tell them you’ll

~come and look at him by-and-by, and then they can suspect
nothing.’

So obvious was the soundness of this advice, that even the
brutal savage to whom he spoke could not fail to see it.
Durante gave a sulky nod, and then hallooed to the forecastle : ”
‘Tell the young dog that Ill come and look at him presently,
and if he’s shamming, it shall be the worse for him !’

‘And now, sefior captain,’ went on our hero, ‘as the wind
seems to be springing up again, and so the attack must come
pretty soon now, we had better lay breakfast for ourselves up
here on the poop, from which we can see whatever those
fellows are at. It’s warm enough to-day to make an open-air
meal nothing surprising, and, at the worst, it can pass for one
of our English whims.’

In a trice all was ready, and down they sat to what might
be their last meal upon earth.

Mr Cramwell—to whom Hardy had at last disclosed how
matters really stood—looked graver than his wont; but his
voice was as hearty and his appetite as good as ever. Flo,
who seemed to have quite forgotten her terrors of the past
night, clapped her plump little hands in glee at this ‘ picnic,’
as she called it ; and Hardy and Trevenna ate as heartily as if
they had been at home.

Not so the captain. He spoke little, ate less, and kept
turning his head restlessly to and fro, as if watching and
listening for some sign of the coming outbreak ; and at length
he sprang to his feet, and, without a word of explanation,
darted down the poop-ladder, almost knocking down the mate
who was just coming up.

A moment later, Durante’s voice was heard below, raised as
if in anger; and Hardy sprang forward to the edge of the
poop just in time to behold a very startling spectacle.

Captain Durante. had unlocked his room-door—the key of
which had never left him during the last day or two—and was
FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN. 171

just exerting all his strength to drag through the doorway a
small wooden chest, which seemed remarkably heavy for its
size, when he suddenly caught sight of a dark face peering at
him through the glass side-light, which he recognised, ere it
could draw. back, as that of the mulatto cabin-boy, Pepito.

All that followed came like a flash of lightning. A shout
or rather howl of fury from the captain—one spring to an
iron belaying-pin that lay near—the crash Of that murderous
weapon upon the spy’s temple, carrying instant death along
with it—a hoarse shout at the same moment from Herrero
the boatswain, answered at once by a clamour of harsh voices
and a trample of hurrying feet, as the whole crew, who had
been edging aft unperceived, came racing along the deck like
a pack of hungry wolves, knife in hand.

‘Up here, captain, quick!’ roared Hardy, ‘or you’re a dead
man!’

But Durante, whose greed of gain had overpowered for the
moment his fear of death itself, was still tugging at his
precious chest with hands red with the stain of recent
murder, when Herrero’s arm was uplifted behind him—there
was a flash of steel, and a dull thud, and the captain, without
ery or groan, fell dead across the chest for which he had given
his life.

At sight of his fellow-villain’s fate—a fate too surely fore-
shadowing his own—the ruffianly mate turned white as death,
and leaned helplessly over the poop-rail, beside which he was
standing.

‘Stand to it, man!’ said Hardy in a fierce whisper, as he
seized the dastard by the arm. ‘ Your only chance is to fight
it out, for they ll show you no mercy !’

Suarez seemed to be of the same opinion himself; for he
set his teeth with a look of desperation, and, brandishing the
hatchet that he had caught up, went to his post with all the
feverish courage of a coward driven to bay.

‘Now, Cramwell,’ said Hardy, as he posted himself, boat-
hook in hand, at the top of the poop-ladder, ‘get Flo and

L
172 FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN.

yourself into the boat as quick as you can, while we three
keep ’em back; and if we come to grief, don’t bother about
us, but just cut the rope and shove off at once. God bless
you, old boy !’

Scholar and student as he was, Cramwell was brave as a
lion, and it was a bitter pang to his stout heart to stoop to
the tame part assigned him in this terrible drama. But his
child’s life hung upon it as well as his own, and he hastened to
obey, spurred by the wolfish yell behind him, which told him
that the final attack had begun.

But, even now, the case of the defenders, though they were
four or rather three to fourteen, was by no means as hopeless
as it seemed. Only one narrow ladder led up to the poop
from the lower deck ; and though it was quite possible for an
active man to clamber up by the bulwarks on either side, if
unopposed, such an attempt would be perilous indeed when
stoutly resisted. And stoutly resisted it seemed likely to be,
for on the port side stood the mate with his axe, while
Trevenna, to starboard, wielded a ponderous capstan-bar that
might have served for the club of Hercules, threatening
instant death to any foe who might come within its sweep.

On came the mutineers, yelling like the wild beasts that
they were ; but the English fought in grim silence, with the
stubborn courage of the men of Waterloo and Sebastopol.

The chief rush, of course, was to the poop-ladder; but
Hardy’s boat-hook met the swarming, howling ruffians as if it
had twenty points instead of one. In vain did they strive to
clutch it and drag it from him; the shaft eluded their grasp,
while the point kept darting in among them like the sting of
a snake, wounding two men and beating back the rest.

A muttered curse broke forth below, and up the ladder
came the burly form and brutal visage of Blas Herrero, the
boatswain, flourishing his deadly Spanish knife. At sight of
him Hardy drew back, and the ruffian, thinking him cowed,
sprang boldly up, with a taunting laugh.

But the villain had mistaken his man. Already his foot














































3 /

a





The spike of the boat-hook struck home . . . and he fell headlong down
the ladder.
FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN. 173

was on the topmost step—already a shout of ferocious triumph
had broken from his lips—when the spike of the boat-hook
struck home beneath his uplifted arm, and he fell headlong
down the ladder, a dead man, overthrowing two of his comrades
in his fall.

At the same moment a crash and a sharp howl of pain was
heard from the starboard side, where Trevenna, whom one of
the men was trying to stab with a boat-hook from below, had
snapped the weapon with one stroke of his club, and with a
second blow had broken the arm of the nearest man, who
sank groaning on the deck. The mate’s axe disabled another,
and the deadly rush paused for an instant, as if to give the
doomed men time to count their few remaining moments of
life.

‘Maister Hardy,’ shouted Hugh, ‘that be fower on ’em
struck off the list, countin’ the boy. S’pose we knock ’em all
o’ the yead, and tak’ the ship to oursel’s ?’

But Hardy shook his head. The same idea had occurred to
him, but, cooler than the fiery young boatman even in the
maddening fury of this death-grapple, he saw at once that it
was hopeless to think of attacking thrice their number with
such rude weapons as they had, and that instant flight was
their only chance.

‘Now, Sefior Suarez,’ said he to the mate, ‘quick, into the
boat, and we will follow you.’

The mate stared blankly at him for a moment—for it might
well seem incredible to this selfish scoundrel that any man
should think of another’s life before his own at such a crisis—
and then obeyed without a word.

Then Hugh Trevenna sprang forward, slashed in two the
rope-lashings of the poop-ladder, and hurled it bodily down
among the startled mutineers ; and ere the latter had recovered
from their panic, he and Hardy were safe in the boat, which
at once shoved off.

A yell of baffled rage broke from the savages as they saw
their prey escaping them, and several heavy pieces of iron,
174 FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN.

furiously hurled after the fugitives, splashed into the waters
around the boat; but all in vain. The sail was quickly
hoisted, and, running before the freshening breeze, they soon
lost sight of the fatal vessel which had so nearly been their
tomb, and were alone once more upon the world of waters.

‘


























































































































































































































































































































CHAPTER XXI.

‘ THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD.




RISTMAS morning in the Atlantic—wet,
stormy, cheerless, with a gray, lowering sky,
and a rough sea, and a brooding dimness over
all. A dreary day, even for one aboard a good
ship or a well-appointed steamer; but drearier
by far to the five castaways who were tossing in an open
boat on the sullen waters, far’from land or from help of any
kind, with the deepening shadow of death closing slowly round
them.

‘A merry Christmas to you, Flo!’ cries Seymour Hardy,
as his little pet opens her eyes, with a forced gaiety in his
tone and look sadder than any burst of lamentation.

But Flo makes no reply, and gazes blankly round her, with
a heavy and bewildered air.

Three weary days had passed since they fled from the
banded murderers of the St Philip—days of peril, fatigue,
suffering, gnawing anxiety, and that ‘hope deferred’ which
makes the heart sick. Many a sail had been sighted, and
the smoke of more than one distant steamer had curled up
along the horizon; but one and all had gone by without
heeding or perhaps even seeing them, and they were alone
upon the sea once more.

In fact, the castaways were now in a worse strait than
when first blown out to sea from the Scilly Isles; for, in
176 THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD.

addition to all their other troubles, they were burdened with
the hateful presence of the ruffianly Spanish mate, and with
the necessity of keeping a constant watch upon him, knowing
as they did that he was quite capable of taking for himself
all the food on which the lives of his fellow-sufferers depended,
and robbing them even of their last drop of water.

But from this danger, at least, they were now terribly
secured, for nothing was left them to guard. None of the
men had tasted food for twenty-four hours, and Flo, for
whom the few remaining morsels had been carefully hoarded,
had just eaten her last mouthful ; and now the scanty supply
of water was fast nearing its end likewise !

‘Maister Hardy,’ muttered Hugh Trevenna, who was at
the helm, as he seized the traveller’s hand in a convulsive
clutch, that made every joint tingle, ‘when the little lass
asks us for food and water, and we ha’ none to give her, what
shall we do 2’

‘We must trust in God, Hugh,’ said the other, returning
his grasp with equal energy ; ‘He can save us even now!’

At that moment his eye fell upon the gaunt, dark visage
of Suarez, whose cruel eyes were fixed on poor little Flo
with a wolfish glare of cannibal longing—that look, which
once seen, can never be forgotten.

Hugh’s glance followed Hardy’s, and, as the eyes of the
two men met, each saw in his comrade’s face the ghastly
suspicion that darkened his own.

‘If thee thinks, maister,’ said the giant in a grim whisper,
‘as how yon Spanish cut-throat means onny harm to our
little lass, say the woord, and I’se chuck ’un o’-board for ce
like a lump of ballast. He be only a furriner, so it wain’t
be no moorder; and besides, I’se heerd folk say as they
furrin’ chaps don’t b’lieve in God, so itll jist sarve ’un
right !’

‘Well, I don’t know that that’s a reason for killing him,
my lad, though people used to think so in the old times,
more’s the pity,’ said Hardy, smiling in spite of himself at
THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD. 177

this peculiar style of argument. ‘If he shows any sign of
treachery, he shall get what he deserves; but it is best not
to take life till you are forced to it, for, when you have
taken it, you can never give it back. And besides, Christmas
Day is not a time, you know, to think of killing people.’

‘Whoy, noa, it be’nt,’ assented the Cornishman ; and he
settled down again.

But all at once he gave a stifled cry, and jammed the
helm hard down, just in time to avoid the shock of a vessel
that broke suddenly through the mist, and came plunging
past them, so close that for one instant they could see plainly
her hull, her spars, her bulwarks, and even the faces of the
men who were leaning over them, and then all was gone as
if it had never been. But in that single moment they had
all recognised the fatal schooner, and the crew of cut-throats
from whom they had fled three days before !

It was not a pleasant thought that this floating den of
murderers had been so close to them unseen, and might, for
all they could tell, be near them yet; and for a time, as if
actually fearing to betray their presence to these invisible
foes, no one ventured to utter a sound.

Slowly and wearily, the long, terrible hours of that black
Christmas Day dragged on; and afternoon was waning into
evening, when Flo Cramwell, who had for some time been as
silent as the rest, said faintly :

‘Tell me a story, please, Mr Hardy ; not about fighting
and going through dangers, I don’t care for that now, but a
nice quiet one, you know, like the tales in the Bible.’

With a nameless agony gnawing at his bold heart, the
brave man drew the frail little form tenderly on to his knee,
and, pillowing the weary head on his shoulder, began as
follows :

‘Long ago, there reigned in the north of India a great
king, who thought of nothing but magnifying his own glory,
and showing himself to be the greatest man in the world.
178° THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD.

Now, it happened that while hunting in the northern
mountains, he came upon a fair green valley, through which
flowed a beautiful river; and he vowed to build there a
palace the like of which was never built by any king on
earth, and sent thither his grand-vizier (prime-minister), with
a vast sum of money, to do the work.

‘But when the vizier came, he found all that land darkened
with a sore famine ; and the rivers were dry, and men lying
dead by the wayside, and children were wailing for food,
and their mothers had none to give them; and all was
misery, and death, and despair. Then the vizier’s heart was
sore for them, and he spent freely, to relieve their distress,
all the treasures given to him by the king; and all the
people blessed him, for he had saved the lives of many.

‘But when the king came to see his palace, and found
not a stone of it laid, and all the money gone, he was
grievously angry, and cast the vizier into prison, vowing
that on the morrow he should die.

‘That night the king had a dream; and lo! it was as if
a mighty angel came down from the sky, and bore him aloft,
higher and ever higher, till at length there lay before them a
shining plain, and in the midst of it stood a palace so glorious
that its like was never seen on earth, glittering with thou-
sands of great pearls, to which all the king’s richest jewels
were as nothing.

‘«This,” said the angel, “is the heavenly palace reared
for thee by thy vizier with the money that he hath spent
in doing good, and these pearls that adorn it are the tears of
joy shed by the poor whom he saved. Thine earthly palace
must fall to ruin, but this one shall endure for ever; for
greater by far is he who wipes away the tears of his fellow-
men, and saves their lives from destruction, than he who
builds palaces and cities for his own pride and vainglory.”

‘Then the king started from his sleep, and rose up in
haste, and went quickly to the prison, and brought forth the
vizier with great honour; for he had learned his lesson, that
THE LAST! MORSEL OF FOOD. 179

more precious in God’s sight than all the gems of princes
are the grateful tears of His poor.’ *

‘Eh, maister! but that be a bonnie tale!’ cried Hugh
Trevenna, who had been listening with deep attention ; ‘jist
the right sort o’ yarn for Christmas, it be. Hark’ee, now,
do’ee know onny o’ they prayers as the folk ’ll be sayin’ 7’
the choorch to-day, at home in England ?’

‘I know a few of them, my lad; would you like me to
repeat them now ?’

‘Iss, that I wud,’ said the young giant earnestly; and
Mr Cramwell seconded the request.

The two brave men doffed their hats, and listened in
silent reverence as the simple words of the familiar prayer
rose up from the depth of the ghostly mist and the lonely
sea to the God and Father of all. But the ruffianly Suarez
sat apart, and watched them with a grin of such fiendish
mockery that the simple and superstitious Cornishman was
almost tempted to believe him an actual demon, laughing
their supplications to scorn.

‘And now,’ said Hardy, as he ended, ‘I’m sure we shall
all be glad to join in a Christmas hymn. Suppose we have
“While shepherds watch their flocks by night ;” you know
the tune, don’t you, Trevenna ?’

The young giant’s eyes sparkled approvingly, and his
mighty voice broke forth above the roar of wind and wave,
mingling with Flo’s bird-like treble, and the mellow tenor of
Cramwell and Hardy, in the music of the simple old hymn
which Hugh and his brother-boatmen, in their boyhood, had
sung from door to door of their native village as a Christmas
carol.

Amid the deep silence that followed the dying away of
the last notes, Hardy was seen to start slightly, and to lean
forward with his hand held up warningly.

‘Listen!’ said he; ‘did you not hear some one hail us?

* The groundwork of this legend is still extant in the far East.—D. K.
180 THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD.

One and all held their breath to listen; but they could
hear nothing.

‘Shout, all together!’ cried Hardy ; and they did so, with
the full power of their lungs.

Then, sure enough, it did seem as if they heard a faint
_ reply, but so doubtful and distant that it might well have
been but the work of their own fancy.

Again they shouted with all their might; and this time
there could be no mistake—there was an answering hail. In
a moment more, the mist parted like a rent veil, and for one
instant the outline of a small vessel was plainly seen barely
half a mile away, and then she was blotted out again.

Then followed an interval of fearful suspense. Would
she go by as all the rest had done, and leave them to
perish, or was she really coming toward them, to seek and
to save ?

‘Let us give her a shout every now and then,’ said Hardy,
‘or she may run us down in the fog.’

They did so, and were answered more and more distinctly.
The mist was now breaking in earnest, and all at once
the strange vessel was seen once more, standing right for
them !

‘I thought I knew her!’ cried Hardy joyfully, as he
pointed to the word Tigges ge on her bow. ‘It’s Fred Gold-
hall’s yacht !’

It was, and the young baronet himself was seen leaning
over the side, and waving his hand to the voyagers, whom
he had just recognised.

But to get the boat alongside in such a sea was no easy
task. Twice was a rope thrown to them from the yacht,
and twice the benumbed hands of the half-frozen castaways
failed to clutch it.

An impatient exclamation was heard from the Refuge, and
a light figure plunged headlong from her stern into the sea,
clothes and all, and came swimming toward them, with a
rope wound round its arm !
THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD. 181

As the swimmer reached them, they saw to their surprise
that the hero of this daring feat was a fresh, smooth-
faced boy of fifteen, at sight of whom Flo Cramwell lifted
her drooping head, and called out, with all her wonted
animation :

‘Why, I declare, it’s Tom Wickham !’
































































































































































































































CHAPTER XXII

WESTWARD HO!




was Tom Wickham, sure enough; and, more
{j| surprising still, on the deck beside Sir Frederick
Goldhall stood Major Dare and his son Alwyn.

‘You and I seem fated always to meet at
sea, Hardy,’ laughed the young baronet, as
he shook hands heartily with his former crony.

‘And as for our presence here,’ said Dare, ‘it’s soon
explained. Tom Wickham’s uncle, who has had charge of
him ever since his father sent him home from India, is
a friend of mine, and I happened to meet him the other
day just as he was going to rush off to the Continent on
business ; so, finding that he couldn’t take Tom with him,
and did not like to leave him in that big house all by
himself, I offered to take the lad till he came back. And
then, when our friend Goldhall asked us to join him on this
cruise to the West Indies, I got leave to bring Tom too; and
he and my boy Alwyn are like two brothers already, and |
capital company for each other, I can tell you.’

‘It has been a very lucky cruise for me, I’m sure,’ cried
Sir Frederick. ‘Apart from the good company of my three
friends here, it has rid me of a bothering fever that I caught
somehow last autumn ’—the brave young fellow did not tell
them that he had caught it by the bedside of a sick cottager
on his estate—‘and now it’s given me the pleasure of this


WESTWARD HO! 183

unexpected meeting with my two Shetland chums of last
winter, to say nothing of Miss Flo here.’

It did not take long to quarter the new-comers. The best
and snuggest of the pretty little cabins was at once made
over to Flo. Her father and Hardy shared the one next
door ; and Trevenna volunteered to ship as one of the crew—
an offer which the young millionaire, whose -sailor-eye had
already singled him out as a ‘hand’ worth having, gladly
accepted.

The only difficulty was with Suarez. That worthy’s coarse,
cunning, repulsive visage had set the baronet against him
even before hearing what Hardy had to tell; but Sir
Frederick’s English breeding recoiled from the idea of send-
ing an officer of the merchant-navy to live in the forecastle
as if he were a ‘fo’mast hand,’ though at the same time he
felt that to ask such a fellow to make one of their cabin-party
was simply out of the question.

But this puzzle was solved for him, to his agreeable
surprise, by the mate himself, who offered (through Hardy
as interpreter) to work his passage as one of the crew, like
Trevenna, if the baronet would agree to land him either
in Cuba or Trinidad, in both of which he had friends.

‘Well, I call that very civil of him, and no mistake 1? said
Sir Frederick to Hardy, looking greatly relieved. ‘He’s
a decenter chap than I took him for, after all.’

But Hardy made no answer.

‘Well, this is a better Christmas dinner than I bargained
for this morning!’ said the adventurous author that evening,
as he sat at table with his new-found friends in the dainty
little cabin, which, with its elegant furniture and faultless
cleanliness and comfort, was a vast improvement upon the
filthy Spanish schooner ; ‘and this cabin of yours, Goldhall, is
much snugger than either the S¢ Philip or our open boat.’

‘T should think so!’ cried Tom Wickham.—‘I say, Mr
Hardy, you will make a book out of this job, won’t you?’
184 WESTWARD HO!

‘Well, it would not make a bad one,’ said Hardy, smiling.
‘I’ye made one already of that ‘story you told me in the
train, of which I'll send you a copy when we get home
again; and I daresay I could make something of this
last adventure too. What shall we call it?’

‘ Swept out to Sea,’ cried Tom at once.

‘Or A Christmas Day on the Ocean, added Alwyn
Dare.

‘Very good titles, both of them,’ said the author ; ‘we 1
consider by and by which is the best. ‘Well, I only hope
my friend Cramwell and poor little Flo will get over this
business as well as I have done.’

Hardy’s fears were but too well founded. Mr Cramwell
was ill for several days after; and his poor little girl was so
worn-out with all these hardships, that just at first, to the
unspeakable dismay of the whole ship’s company, it seemed
doubtful whether she would be able to rally at all.

Then it was a sight to see how the rough seamen forward,
and the rackety boys aft, hushed their wonted noise, and
went to and fro as silently as shadows. Hugh Trevenna
mooned about like a ghost, speaking to no one, and letting
no one speak to him; and Hardy himself, as he watched by
his little favourite’s sick-bed, holding her hot hand in his
own, and listening to her unconscious ramblings about wrecked
boats, armed murderers, and starving castaways—amid which
his own name came up again and again, coupled with words
of affection or plaintive appeals for help—felt the tears start
unbidden to his keen gray eyes.

But God was merciful, and the day when the little
lady came on deck for the first time was a festival for
all on board.

And now Hardy had leisure to note, with secret thankful-
ness, the wonderful change that had passed over Alwyn Dare.
Of the shy, spiritless, dejected moper of the past winter not a
trace was left. His slender frame might perhaps be thought
to need a little more of what his friend Tom Wickham called
WESTWARD HO! 185

‘filling-out ;” but his once sickly face wore the healthy brown
of an open-air English boy, and was stamped with a firm and
fearless self-reliance that told its own story, while the look
of affectionate pride with which Major Dare’s eyes followed
him about the deck told that (as Hardy had hoped) there
was now established between father and son that perfect
confidence and companionship which is the most precious gift
that any boy can possess.

Truly indeed had the major said that Tom Wickham and
his son were ‘capital company for each other.’ Each had
just those qualities which the other lacked, Tom’s untiring
energy putting new life into his quieter and less active chum,
while the latter’s calmer nature, in its turn, toned down
Master Tom’s impetuosity. Wickham was the better athlete,
while Dare was the better scholar; and while the former
taught his friend new feats of strength and agility, the latter
drew from books of which Tom had never heard a boundless
fund of strange stories, to which the champion of the school
eleven would listen by the hour.

Often were Hardy and Cramwell greatly amused with the
free-spoken dissertations of the boy-critics on classic. history,
upon which they seemed always to take opposite sides—Tom
standing up for Troy against Alwyn’s favourite Greeks, on
the truly boyish ground of its being the weaker party, when
they were discussing Homer, while Tom sided with Carthage,
and Alwyn with Rome, when Livy was in question.

‘I tell you Hannibal would have licked these Romans of
yours all to bits, if those muffs at home had backed him up
properly!’ cried Tom one day; ‘but, anyhow, I’m glad
Scipio Africanus and he made friends after the scrimmage
was over.’

‘And did they really meet again, then?’ asked Alwyn
eagerly.

‘What! haven’t you ever heard about that? said Tom,
not a little elated to find that there really was one piece of

history which he knew better than his learned chum. ‘Why,
M
186 WESTWARD HO!

that’s the stunningest yarn of all! Sit down here, and Ill
tell you all about it.

‘When the Carthaginians went back on Hannibal, you
know, like a set of sneaks as they were, the poor old boy had
to run away to the East to hide himself, because the Romans
wanted to kill him, or to shut him up in a museum and make
a show of him, which would have been every bit as bad. So
he kept dodging about from place to place, whenever he got
word that the Romans were on his trail, till at last he came
to Bithynia, to the court of King Prusias—the fellow that
Prussia ’s named after, I suppose, though I could never make
out what he had to do with it.

‘This king was a mean old chap, and though he hated
the Romans as bad as Hannibal did, he durstn’t show it, for
fear of being sent flying off his throne like all the rest;
so he told Hannibal to keep dark, and take a cheap lodging
in the town, and come and see him now and then on the
quiet, till they could get a chance to play the Romans a
trick.

‘Now, of course, Hannibal durstn’t go out in the daytime,
for every man in the town knew him by sight, and he’d have
been safe to be spotted by the Roman police ; so he used to slip
out every night just before dark, for a mouthful of fresh air.
Well, one evening he was coming home from his walk as
usual, when, turning sharp round a corner, whom should he
bump against but Scipio Africanus !

‘“ Hallo, general!” sings out Scipio, “who’d have thought
of seeing you here?”

“What! is this you, my boy?” cried Hannibal, quite
heartily ; for, like an old brick as he was, he bore Scipio no
grudge for having thrashed him at Zama. “Well, this is a
joke, and no mistake! I say, I’m just going home to supper.
Will you come and take pot-luck ?”

‘“T’m your man!” says Scipio; and away they went arm-
in-arm, as if they had been the greatest chums in the
world.
WESTWARD Ho! 187

‘Well, Hannibal gave him as good a supper as he could
scrape up—for, of course, he wasn’t very flush of money
just then, poor old chap; and after supper they got talking
over their old campaigns, and chaffing each other about this
and that, till at last Scipio shut-off talking, and seemed to be
in a brown study.

‘A penny for your thoughts, young fellow !” says Hanni-
bal, who didn’t like to see him sitting mumchance like that.

‘“ Well, to tell you the truth, general,” says Africanus, “I
was just puzzling over something that I think you can answer
me as well as any man I know. Who, now, should you say
was the greatest soldier that ever lived?”

‘“ Alexander the Great,” says Hannibal, as pat as if he was
up for an exam.

“Just what I thought!” cries Scipio; “and who was the
second, then?”

‘“Pyrrhus of Epirus,” says the Carthaginian ; “you must
ask a tougher one than that if you mean to floor me.”

«And who was the third best?” asks the young fellow.

‘“T myself!” says Hannibal, as bold as brass.

‘Well, then, Africanus was rather stumped, as you may
think, remembering what a licking he had given Hannibal
himself ; but, like a civil young chap as he was, he didn’t
like to hurt the old man’s feelings by alluding to it. So,
after casting about a bit how to put it in the politest way, he
says to him:

‘Well then, general, suppose you had got the best of it
that time—you know when—what would you have said?”

‘“Why, then, if I had beaten you, my boy,” says
Hannibal, clapping him on the shoulder, “I’d have put
myself high above them all!”?

‘Well done, Tom!’ said Mr Cramwell, who had been
listening with no small amusement to this sample of ‘modern-
ised classics ;’ ‘you really ought to write a historical primer,
and call it History Made Easy. But, upon my word, it
188 WESTWARD HO!

would not be a bad thing if we teachers were to take a leaf
out of your book, and :help our pupils to realise that the
great men of old were not always leading armies, and making
speeches in the Senate, and trundling in laurelled chariots up
to the'temple of Capitoline Jove; and that they really did
eat and sleep, and played with their children, and chatted to
their friends, and were, in short, human beings like ourselves.’
























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































CHAPTER XXIII

WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES.

PALM GROVE, SAN FERNANDO, TRINIDAD,
Feb. 3, 1867.

TEAR DAD—This would have been just the
tight shop for the London alderman in your
story, who said that ‘Wonders would never
have done ceasing ;’ and if, as Mr Cramwell
; says, some fellows make it out to be the very
island that Ulysses got to when he was blown out to sea, I
don’t wonder the sly old boy stayed there so long. I should
think I’ve eaten already every fruit in the world, and a few
more as well; and as for sugar-canes, the little nigger-boys in
the streets are munching ’em by the yard all day long. Indeed,
what with oranges as big as your fist, hanging along the road-
side like blackberries, and sugar-canes high and thick enough
to lose your way in, and butterflies as big as sparrows, and
ferns as big as trees, and ants going about with parasols
made of green leaves,* and crabs sparring at you with their
claws just as if they were boxing, and villages of Chinamen
and Hindoos mixed up with the native blacks, and things
that at home would be hot-house plants, worth a guinea a
leaf, running wild here as common weeds, and lakes of pitch,
and roads made of coral, it all seems just like a jolly old dream.





* This is a fact, of which I have often been an eye-witness; and hence
their popular name of ‘ parasol-ants.’—D. K.
190 WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES.

But before I say anything more about Trinidad, I’d better
go back and tell you how we got there.

My last letter, if you ever got it (which is doubtful, for it
was posted at Barbadoes), will have told you how we picked
up Mr Hardy and the rest of ’em on Christmas Day, just
when they hadn’t a bit of grub left. Wasn’t it a queer
adventure? Just like a bit out of Robinson Crusoe or The
Mutiny of the Bounty ; and to think, too, that we might have
run right past ’em in the fog, without ever knowing, if they
hadn’t happened to strike up a hymn just as we were
passing !

But Hugh Trevenna took it quietly enough ; and when I
told him he might think himself very lucky, he said, as cool
as you please, ‘Oh, I knowed it ’ud all coom right i’ the end,
for when I wur at Launceston last spring, I landed a stone on
Mary Magdalene’s back.’

Well, I was rather stumped, as you may think, to know
what on earth he could mean ; so he told me that on the out-
side of Launceston church there’s a carved figure of Mary
Magdalene lying on her face, and the folks there think that
any one who can throw a stone up so as to lodge on the
figure, and not tumble down again, will have some great good-
luck before the end of the year!* Did you ever hear of such
an idea? And, as if that wasn’t enough, fancy Flo Cramwell, |
the first time we had a talk after she got well, asking me if
it was wrong of them to have had no plum-pudding on
Christmas Day! to which case of conscience I could only
answer that she, at all events, was not to blame, for I was
quite sure she would have had it if she could.

The first place we touched at was Bridgetown, the capital
of Barbadoes—a funny little bit of an island, with staring
white coralline roads that almost put your eyes out when the
sun’s on ’em, and all the hills, that ought to be scattered
over the whole island, jammed up into one corner of it, which

* This singular custom still exists, as I can vouch from my own observa-
tion.—D. K.
WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES. 191

they call ‘Scotland.’ We went up there to stay the night
with one of the planters (they ’re all awfully hospitable fellows,
you know), and what do you think was our first dish at
dinner? Why, roast porpoise! Just like one of Captain
Nemo’s dinners, in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ;
but it wasn’t half bad, all the same. And after dinner he took
us out for a drive—for these planters seem to be driving or
riding all day long—and for more than an hour we went
bumping over the hills, just like driving up and down stairs;
and then he ended off by taking us full-split down the
steepest hill he could find, till we were all shaken up together
like apples in a bag. And when we got to the bottom, the
old chap said to us, with a pleasant smile, ‘I just wanted to
see if I could do that, and it will be quite a feather in my
cap that I have, for no one ever came down that hill before
at such a pace without being pitched out.’ Pretty cool,
wasn’t it?

The next day we were off again, and passed so close to St
Lucia that we could see quite plain those two great black
peaks, called the Tetons, that Kingsley says such a lot about.
Grim-looking things they are, going sheer up as straight and
high as a steeple; and they say the highest one was never
climbed but once, and that was by an English sailor, who got
bitten by a snake on the way up, and just managed to reach
the top before he fell down dead.

Then we came to St Vincent, and landed at the town—a
queer little place, with two big churches built face to face,
just as if they were going to have a fight—to dine with a
chum of Sir Frederick’s. The first thing we saw in the
house was a big snake playing with the children! and we
were told that it’s the correct thing out there to keep a
tame serpent, on the ‘set-a-thief-to-catch-a-thief’ principle,
to drive all the others away as a cat clears off mice. ’Cute
dodge, isn’t it?

After dinner, we went out on the veranda to watch the
sunset and munch sugar-cane, which seems to be the regular


192 WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES.

evening amusement here ; and all at once I caught sight of
something far away up overhead, for all the world like a
big A turned upside down. And what should this be but
two great black cliffs sloping away from each other, and a
plank bridge between ’em, with no hand-rail or anything,
but just the bare planks fastened together! I said I shouldn’t
be very game to cross a bridge like that; but the planter
only laughed, and told me that the niggers often ran across it
with big bundles of sugar-canes—and, sure enough, I saw a
fellow do it while we were talking.

A little farther south came Grenada, where poor Sir John
Moore was governor before he went off to get himself killed
in Spain. A queer little place it was, with hills wooded up
to the very top, looking just like men buttoned up to the
eyes in fur greatcoats ; and right in the middle of this moun-
tain-wall there was a great gap, through which we could see
a smooth green valley with little white houses dotted all over
it, as if some one had left off in the middle of a game of
dominoes. And, just above it, the highest hill ended off
with a great scar of bare red clay right in the midst of the
dark-green woods, looking, as Mr Hardy said, ‘like a boil
on the mountain’s nose.’

To get to Port of Spain (the capital of Trinidad) we had
to run a good way down the west side of the island; and
the strait between it and South America is so narrow that
you have a good view of the mainland most of the way. And
a wonderful sight it is—trees as thick and close as the bristles
of a brush, right down to the water’s edge; and I didn’t
wonder, when I saw what it’s like even now, that those old
Spanish chaps should have had such a tough time there three
hundred years ago.

It was only a little after sunrise when we anchored off
the town, and we had the whole country-side before us like
a photograph. Close to the water lay a wide green plain, on
which the white houses of the town stood ranged like tea-cups
on a green-haize table ; and beyond that was the light-green
WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES. 193

of the plantations, and beyond that again the dark green of
the woods, and high over all, the purple ridges of the higher
mountains ; and, all around, like a frame to the picture, the
shining sea and the bright blue sky.

In a jiffy we were surrounded by native boats, loaded with
fruit, vegetables, baskets, cane chairs, carved walking-sticks,
and what not; and the yelling and hallooing of the niggers
as they held ’em up for sale, grinning from ear to ear at every
word, was enough to make one deaf for a week—just like
poor old Captain Cook being attacked by the South Sea
Islanders.

‘Buy fruit, sar?’ sings out one fellow; ‘berry good fruit—
quite fresh !’

‘Quite fresh last week !’ cried another chap ; ‘ berry good
rotten fruit now. S’pose put him down on deck, him walk
away !?

‘Want stick, sar? good stick—berry magnificent stick.
S’pose gentleman want thrash some saucy feller, stick break
head, but head no break stick !’

In the middle of all this row, up came Suarez, the Spanish
mate, who, as I told you, had worked his passage with the
crew, and, touching his cap to Goldhall, asked very civilly
if he might go on shore and find out his friends—for he was
to be landed, you know, either here or in Cuba, whichever
we touched at first.

Sir Frederick told him he might, and asked if he wanted
any money ; but the fellow said he had enough, and down he
slid into one of the shore-boats, and went off in such a hurry
that we all began to wonder if he hadn’t stolen something,
or done some mischief on board.

But what he really had been up to, we could never have
guessed if Trevenna hadn’t come and told us presently (when
the fellow was fairly gone mind you), that this precious
Spaniard had been trying his best to stir up our crew to seize
the ship, chuck us all overboard, and then run away to turn
pirates, or highway robbers, or something of that sort. Then
194 WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF TIE WEST INDIES.

we all saw why Mr Mate had been so civil in offering to go
forward and live with the sailors, which we had thought so
good of him ; and all this we found out just when it was no
mortal use to us, and when the old rapscallion had got clear
off!

‘Why on earth couldn’t you tell us all this before, eh?’
says the major to Trevenna, in a voice like a bulldog’s growl
just before he grips you by the leg.

‘We couldn’t do that, maister, for it ’ud ha’ been loike
tellin’ tales!’ says Hugh, drawing himself up. ‘Now that
the man be gone, it don’t mattey.’

Well, wasn’t that enough to drive any one stark staring
mad? Major Dare looked as if his eyes would jump right
out of his head, and Sir Frederick’s face got as black as
thunder ; but just then Mr Hardy struck in, in his old jolly
way:

‘We’d better go ashore at once, and give that fellow’s
description to the police. His own phiz ought to be enough
to condemn him at sight, and I should hope stirring up
mutiny and murder on a British vessel is against the law
here just as much as at home!’

So away we went and reported the case, and were just
going back again, when up comes a short, sunburnt, bearded
man, with a big white hat, who caught hold of the major’s
arm, and sang out:

‘Hallo, Dare, old fellow! who would have thought of see-
ing you here ?’

And who was this but Captain Marshall, a retired officer
of the major’s own regiment, who had turned sugar-planter,
and settled down in Trinidad !

He and old Dare were as pleased as Punch to see each
other again, and when the captain heard that the other two
were Seymour Hardy and Sir Frederick Goldhall, nothing
would serve him but we must all come down with him next
day to his plantation above San Fernando, a bit farther down
the coast. Talk of planter hospitality! I should think that
WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES. 195

was something like it, for a fellow whom we had never seen
or heard of before to go and ask the whole kit of us to stay
with him as long as we liked! It just reminded me of those
old chaps in Homer, who used to walk slap into the first
house they came to, and sit down on the hearth as suppliants,
and then put up there as long as they pleased, and have the
best of everything.

Sir Frederick offered to give him a cast to San Fernando
in the yacht, but Captain Marshall said that she ’d be no good
for the shallow water close inshore, and that we’d have to
go by the small coasting steamer which made the trip every
other day, and would sail next morning; so we settled to
meet him at the landing-place just before she sailed.

We put up for the night at a hotel in the main street, and
a queer place it was. Myr Hardy said it was like a lizard, all
body and no legs. There was a huge drawing-room, big
enough to play football in, and a tremendous long veranda ;
but the bedrooms were little squeezed-up bits of places, just
like the divisions of a bathing-house, only not half so clean.
Alwyn told me next morning that the first thing he did in his
room was to kill a centipede as long as his hand, and I was
roused up from my first sleep by two cockroaches having a
fight across my nose !

But next morning I saw another sight queerer still. The
night before I had been puzzled by seeing, just after nightfall,
a lot of shadowy things, like the plumes of a hearse, sticking
up all along the house-tops on each side of the street. When
I awoke in the morning, they were there still ; but all at once
a lot of them got up and flew away, and then I saw that they
were vultures (what the niggers here call John-crows) that
roost on the house-tops all night, and fly about all day to pick
up whatever they can get. Mr Hardy says there’s a thumping
fine for killing ’em, for they ’re the only scavengers the town
has—same as the dogs in Constantinople, you know.

Well, we met the captain at the landing, and away we all
went. The steamer kept near enough to the coast to give us
196 WHAT 10M WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES.

a good view of it all the way to San Fernando; and it was
worth looking at, sure enough.

First came a great big patch of what they call ‘bayou ’—
that’s a jumble of land and water, thick bushes, slimy pools,
tall reeds, and black mud-banks, all mixed up higgledy-piggledy,
with here and there a few big trees, all decayed and dead,
poking up out of the dark water like the remains of a drowned
forest. A sweet place it was, and no mistake ; and, by way
of making it more cheerful still, Captain Marshall told us that
it was as much as any man’s life was worth to venture into it,
for the whole place was as full of big snakes and alligators as
an egg is full of meat!

But, little by little, things began to improve. ‘The country
seemed to get higher and drier, and instead of that rubbishing
half-grown jungle, there came a fine thick wood. Here and
there, too, we caught sight of smoke curling up from among
the trees, and the tall chimney of some mill or sugar-factory
standing up out of them like a great pillar. Hills, too, began
to appear in the background, looking very pretty as the sun
lighted up their green slopes ; and I was just going to ask
Captain Marshall if his house was anywhere up among them,
when, all at once, the steamer slowed down, and then came to
a dead stop—why, I couldn’t think, for I saw no sign of a
port, or a landing-place or anything.

‘Hallo!’ cried he, ‘what are we stopping for? I thought
we were not to touch at Chuguanas this time.’

‘It’s the p’lice boat a-comin’ off to us, sir,’ said one of the
sailors, who all seemed to know him quite well.

And, sure enough, a big boat ran alongside presently, with
a flag at her stern, and ten blacks in her beside the boatmen—
four of ’em all in rags, with irons on their wrists and ankles,
and the other six in police uniform. Alwyn and I, seeing
that they got up at the fore-part of the steamer, wanted to go
forward and have a look at them ; for this was the first chain-
gang we had seen, and the heavy irons that the fellows wore
showed they must be a dangerous lot.
WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES. 197

But, bless you! we might as well have tried to squeeze
through a wall. There happened to be a big market on at
San Fernando that day, and the whole deck was crowded up
with passengers for it, jammed together like herrings in a
barrel—some fairly sitting in each other’s laps, and some
perched along the bulwarks like sparrows, holding on for all
they were worth, to keep from tumbling overboard; so we
had to give it up asa bad job. And we soon had something
else to think of, for all at once Captain Marshall sang out to
us:

‘Do you see that long, low ridge of land jutting out into
the sea, with a round knoll at the end of it, just like an arm
with the fist shut? Well, just behind that lies San Fernando ;
and, among the trees, on that dark ridge above it, is my house.’

We had a good stare at it through his glass, and then went
to have another look at the coast, which had changed again ;
for now there was just a tiny strip of grayish-yellow sand-
beach between the light-green sea and the dark-green woods,
which came down almost to the water’s edge ; and under their
shadow one could just catch a glimpse now and then of a little
thatched hut, which looked as if it had crept in there to hide.

‘I say, Hardy,’ says Sir Frederick, ‘don’t this put you in
mind of the African coast between the Gaboon and the
Congo 9’

‘Rather !’ says Mr Hardy ; ‘this bit here might be Fernan
Vaz any day it liked—only there’s no surf breaking on the
beach. And sce, here ’s a regular Russian landing-place, just
such as I used to see upon the lower Volga on the way down
from Saratoff to Astrakhan.’

This was Monkey Point, where we had just hove-to in front
of a big plank shed, with a lot of boxes and barrels heaped up
all round it, and a crowd of niggers scrummaging and yelling
among ’em in their usual style, doing as little work and making
as much noise as possible.

A lot of our deck passengers got off here, and a lot more at
the next halting-place, Clarkson’s Bay—named after that old
198 WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES.

brick who put down the slave-trade—which seemed to consist
of nothing but two or three big white houses and a long
wooden pier built on piles, which Mr Hardy said was like
a big centipede going down to have a bathe. So then Alwyn
and I, seeing the deck a bit clearer, though there was a pretty
good crowd still, went forward again to have another try at
getting a sight of the prisoners in the chain-gang, and this
time we managed to do it.

We had heard Captain Marshall say that they must be
going to serve a term of hard labour on a new road that was
being made near San Fernando; and it struck me that
the prospect of working hours and hours every day under
such a sun as we have out here, up to the eyes in dust, with
heavy irons on, and a man to roar at you and punch your
head whenever you slacked off, wasn’t calculated to raise any
one’s spirits very much. So you may think how surprised we
were to find ’em grinning and laughing, and cutting jokes on
each other, as merry as could be. Three of ’em did, at least ;
but the fourth man stood apart, resting his head on his
chained hands in a moody kind of way, and leaning over a
sort of wooden bar or rail that shut ’em in, with his back
turned to the rest.

It may have been that, or it may have been the look of the
man himself, that drew my attention to him at once. He was
a short, small man, but so wiry and sinewy, and so splendidly
put together (for, as he had next to nothing on, one could get
a pretty good idea of him), that, for clearing a big jump, or
climbing a cliff, or coming in first in a paper-chase, he’d be
worth two bigger men any day. In fact, the minute I set
eyes on him, I made up my mind that I’d a deal sooner shake
hands with him than fight him; and I thought so still more
when I got a good look at his face, for, though it was very
quiet, and rather sad, there was something in it that made
you feel he’d be a very ugly customer to tackle in earnest.

All at once I spied a big West Indian hornet coming down
upon him—one of those horrid brutes that, when they sting
WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES. 199

you, leave a sore that lasts for months and months, and
drives you half-mad with pain; and the poor fellow, with his
hands chained, could do nothing to help himself! Well, of
course I wasn’t going to stand that; so I made a jump, and
slapped my hands together, and just caught the beast fair be-
tween ’em, and scrunched him before he had time to sting
me.

‘Tank you, sar,’ said the convict; and he said it as if he
meant it, too.

As he moved, we saw a bandage on his left arm, all spotted
with blood, and evidently very badly put on, for we could see
how it hurt him by the way his arm kept twitching, though
he never uttered a sound.

‘That bandage seems to hurt you, my man,’ said Alwyn ;
‘let me put it right for you.’

But just then one of the black policemen—a big lump of a
fellow—came up and said to him, in a cheeky sort of way:

‘Sar, dere am no one ‘lowed go near dem prisoners.’

‘Call your superior officer, and 1’ll speak to him about it,’
says Alwyn, as grandly as if he were king of the whole island ;
‘it’s not for you to give me orders!’

Fancy a quiet chap like him coming out that way ! and to
see how he drew himself up as he said it, and what a look he
gave the fellow—it was just like his father over again, I
only wish the major had been there to see him do it!

The big man stared for a moment like a stuck pig (as well
he might), and then away he went without a word, and came
back with the black corporal who was in charge of the party.

‘Corporal,’ says Alwyn, in the same Julius-Cesar style,
‘this man’s bandage is hurting him very much, and I’m going
to put it right for him; have the goodness to stand by while
I do it, that this man of yours may have no cause of suspicion.
It’s shameful to see a helpless man in such a state, and no
one offering to help him!’

The corporal seemed as much flabbergasted as his man, and
no wonder. He saluted in a puzzled kind of way—as if he
200 WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST INDIES.

wasn’t sure whether Alwyn was the Prince of Wales or only
some one making a fool of him—and then stood watching
while Alwyn put the bandage right ; and rattling well he did
it, much better than I could, I know that.

Just then up came the major and Captain Marshall to see
what we were at; and the police-corporal said something to
them with a side-look at us, and their answer, whatever it
was, seemed to relieve the old boy no end. Then Alwyn said
to the tall man, who was standing sulkily on one side:

‘I’m sorry to have spoken so sharply to you, my lad, but
you see now you were mistaken ;’ and with that he hands him
a shilling.

‘Golly!’ says the fellow with a grin, as he pouched the
tip, ‘you gib me what sauce you like, sar, so long you put one
ob dem capers in it ebbery time !’

And then we went aft again ; but I heard the prisoner say
to Alwyn:

‘Sar, you berry good, and me no forget it.’

‘Why, Alwyn, old fellow, what’s come to you?’ said I, as
we walked off; ‘you put on as much side with those chaps as
if you had been old Noll Cromwell dissolving the Long
Parliament !’

‘T can’t bear to see helpless men ill-used,’ said he; and he
said it so fiercely that, ~pon my word, he gave me quite a
start.

Here comes Marshall’s fellow for the letters, so I must
break off, for it won’t do to miss the mail. To-morrow morn-
ing we are all going to make an excursion to the Pitch Lake,
which is the great sight of the island, and I’ll tell you all
about it in my next letter; meanwhile, believe me your affec-
tionate son, T. WickHam.






























































































































































































































































































CHAPTER XXIV.

ON THE PITCH LAKE.

SSA VEN’T we got to it yet, Mr Hardy? What a
time it takes !’

So spoke Flo Cramwell with the impatience
of her age, as she hovered along the front of
the party of sight-seers, who were walking up
from the nearest landing-place, in the freshness of a clear
bright morning about a week after their arrival at Palm
Grove, to get their first view of the far-famed ‘Pitch Lake
of Trinidad.’

‘Don’t be impatient, Miss Flo; if you’ve come several
thousand miles to see this place, you can surely afford to walk
a few hundred yards to reach it.’

‘Yes,’ cried Tom Wickham, ‘that’s just what the old
emperor (Antoninus, or whatever they call him), said to that
uppish professor of Greek that he sent for from Athens to
coach his son, who made a fuss about going to the prince at
the palace, saying that the prince ought rather to come to him,
“Well,” says the emperor, “it’s queer that a chap who
made no bother about coming all the way from Greece to
Rome, should cut up rough at having to go from one part of
Rome to another!”’

‘Well, I’m glad to see that you’ve got the emperor's very
words so exactly, Tom,’ said Mr Cramwell, with a quiet irony

which was wholly lost on the reckless schoolboy.— But cheer
N




202 ON THE PITCH LAKE.

up, Flo; judging by these signs, we can’t be very far off it
now.’

In fact, the soil was already growing black and treacly, and
the stately trees under which they had hitherto marched had
begun to give place to long rank grass, spiky thorn-scrub, and
huge clumps of bamboos, which stood gauntly up into the air
on every side like giant fishing-rods. Carts, too, came bumping
and jolting past them, laden with bitumen from the lake,
which, though useless as ship-pitch, is in great request for
asphalt pavements, &c. And at length, as they turned a
sharp corner, before them lay, in all its fullness, the wonder
which they had come so far to see.

And a strange sight it was. Right in the midst of this
green luxuriance of vegetation, a vast open space, hundreds of
yards in breadth, lay bare, and black, and blasted, as if
scorched by fire. In fact, the weird contrast between the
grim and utter desolation of that strange spot, and the riotous
fullness of life and growth all around it, was not the least
striking feature of this extraordinary scene. Here and there,
in the cracks of the pitch, lay tiny pools of rain-water, to
which the glow of the mounting sun gave a hideous semblance
of blood ; and that no element of horror might be wanting to
this gloomy picture, just in front of them lay a half-buried
tree, which bore a ghastly likeness to a sinking human form,
vainly struggling to lift its pitch-clogged face above the black
slimy surface, and stretching out one gaunt arm in a last
hopeless appeal for help.

‘But it’s not a lake at all—the pitch is quite hard!’
cried Flo, with a disappointed air, ‘I thought it was a
regular lake of liquid pitch, you know, with boats going about
on it.’

‘Ah, that’s rather too much to expect,’ laughed Hardy ;
‘but here are some carts going about on it instead, if that
will do as well.’

‘What a queer place it is,’ said Tom Wickham, as they
walked on over the hardened pitch, which was so level as to
ON THE PITCH LAKE. 203

be not unlike a rude pavement. ‘It’s just like a great pond
dried up, and nothing left but the mud.’

‘Or like a big patch of sticking-plaster on the face of the
country,’ suggested Alwyn Dare, with a schoolboy grin.

‘Or a great big bonfire burnt out,’ added Flo.

‘Or aslice of bread spread with Russian caviare, or any
other little thing you please,’ put in Hardy, winding up this
chorus of similitudes. ‘You pays your money, and you
takes your choice. Now, look to your feet, boys, for this
pitch does not seem quite “unused to the melting mood,”
after all.’

In fact, the surface of the Pitch Lake, though quite hard
around the edge, grew perceptibly softer as they got toward
its centre ; and the two lads had more than one narrow escape
of plunging ankle-deep into a ‘bubble,’ as these pitch-quag-
mires are called. They succeeded, however, in crossing without
any mishap; and the whole party, seating themselves snugly
in the shade of a tree on the border of the woods, fell
vigorously upon the contents of the basket carried by the
negro guide whom their kind host had sent along with them.

‘Well, here’s the Lake of Lerna, and here’s Hercules,’
said Mr Cramwell, with a side-glance at Dare’s brawny bulk ;
‘but I don’t see anything of the Hydra.’

‘Oh, the Hydra’s away for its Christmas holiday,’ cried
Hardy. ‘Don’t you see that the Lake of Lerna is frozen!
and you don’t suppose that any sensible Hydra would ever
take it into its hundred heads to stay on where there was no
place for it to swim !’

‘Was there ever such a thing as a Hydra, Mr Hardy?’
asked Flo.

‘I can’t say I ever saw one,’ replied the traveller gravely ;
‘but Professor Owen is the man to tell you about that. A
stuffed one, or even a skeleton, would be worth something
now for a museum ; but everything’s allegorical in these days,
you know, and, for all I can tell, the hundred-headed Hydra
may have been only an accumulation of parish nuisances, and
204 ON THE PITCH LAKE.

Hercules a Sanitary Commissioner who knocked ’em all on
the head !’

‘As he did when he cleaned out the stables of Augeas,’
said Mz Cramwell; but Flo only looked puzzled, evidently
finding this exposition ‘as obscure as an explanatory note.’

‘One-of these days,’ went on Hardy, ‘I mean to write a
book—or, better still, get your father to write it for me—
explaining all these legends in the modern way, and showing
that Ixion w antalus an old gentleman
whom some one set laughing just as he was going to drink—
the Danaides, with their leaky casks, a set of extravagant
young ladies, who spent all their pocket-money as fast as
they got it—Sisyphus a clerk, who added all his accounts
wrong, and always came down with a run just as he got to the
top of the column—and Prometheus in the Caucasus, with the
eagle gnawing his liver, some East Indian big-wig, with a
liver-complaint, who went to the mineral waters of the
Caucasus to be cured.’

‘And what would Perseus with the Gorgon’s head be, then?’
asked Tom Wickham, who had been listening to all this with
a broad grin.

«A young man who married an old maid for her money
(she had golden wings, you know), and “saw snakes,” as the
Yankees say, ever after.’

‘But what would his cutting off her head mean, then, Mr
Hardy?’ asked Alwyn, with a ‘caught-him-this-time’ kind of
air.

‘Why, that she “lost her head’’at the suddenness of the
proposal, of course,’ retorted the unabashed Hardy ; ‘and I
daresay it did end in his “cutting her dead.’—Now, Miss
Flo, if you’ve done breakfast, shall we go and pick some of
those pretty flowers yonder ?’

‘And can Tom and I have a run through the woods, father?”
said Alwyn eagerly.

‘By all means, if you like,’ replied the major; ‘but take
care not to get too far away, for we shall have to be going


ON THE PITCH LAKE. 205

back before long, and you must mind and be within hearing
when we call you.’

The next moment both lads were off into the ‘bush’ like
a shot.

For some time they were fully occupied in chasing each
other in and out of the maze of brushwood, taking flying
leaps over fallen trees, flinging stones at the vast banner-like
palm-leaves that waved scores of ‘feet above them, and
scaring gay-plumaged birds from the boughs, and small green
snakes and lizards from the grass. But even for English
boys such exercise was rather violent beneath a tropical sun,
and at last, spent and breathless, streaming with perspiration,
and grimed with dust and dirt from head to foot, the two
young madcaps threw themselves down to rest in the shade
of a spreading tree.

But all at once Tom Wickham—who, when he was in a
wood, always behaved strictly according to the rules of Feni-
more Cooper—bent forward as if listening, and, signing to his
comrade to keep perfectly still, raised himself cautiously on
to his knees, and peered through the tangle of matted boughs
and leaves in front of him. ;

A human footstep was approaching—the stealthy tread of
one who had some good reason for not wishing to be seen
or heard—which seemed to be coming right toward the spot
where they lay.

Nearer and nearer it came, but nota glimpse of this un-
seen prowler was yet to be had, and it seemed as if the
intruder would be right upon them ere they could see who
and what he was, when the cautious footfall came to a sudden
halt, and the two lads, straining their eyes watchfully through
the tangled brushwood that hid them, saw standing by the
bare stem of a huge dead tree, only afew yards beyond them,
a man whom they both recognised at once as the wounded
neero convict that they had befriended on the steamer, some
days before !

He had escaped, then! But it was plain that he had not
206 ON THE PITCH LAKE.

done so without a struggle, for his head was now bound up as
well as his arm.

The outlaw’s manner showed that he was expecting some
one to meet him at that spot, and he had not long to wait ;
for all. at once a shadowy figure crept out of the thickets,
which, as it advanced, showed the gaunt, sallow, hang-dog
face of the Spanish mate, José Suarez.

Our heroes needed all their self-control to repress the
startled exclamation that rose to their lips at this unlooked-
for reappearance of the ruffian who had threatened their
lives once already by his treacherous intrigues aboard the
yacht. Such a conjunction of an escaped convict and a
would-be pirate and murderer plainly boded no good, and
both lads strained their ears to catch the talk that ensued.

But, to their great chagrin, the two men, though their
voices were plainly audible, spoke in such a piebald jargon
of Spanish, bad English, and negro slang, that little or
nothing could be gleaned from it; which was all the more
provoking, since the excited looks and vehement gestures of
the speakers showed how important their talk must be.

But the patience of the unseen listeners did not go wholly
unrewarded. Just as the conference appeared to be ending,
the negro, bespeaking by an emphatic gesture his companion’s
close attention, held out both hands, and said in English,
slowly and earnestly :

‘You do so’ (putting forth his left thumb and fore-finger
in the form of a loop), ‘they so’ (thrusting out the fore and
middle finger of his right hand), ‘you so’ (laying the palm of
his right hand across the back of his left). ‘Sabbee?’ (do
you understand ?)

Alwyn Dare, guessing that these strange gestures must be
a signal and countersign of some sort, carefully imprinted all
three in his memory; and he did so none too soon, for the
Spaniard, having repeated the mysterious signs to his com-
panion’s satisfaction, darted off in one direction, while the
negro vanished in the other.
ON THE PITCH LAKE. 207

‘Well, what do you think of that for an adventure?’ said
Tom in an excited whisper, as the two plotters disappeared.
‘Let us go back as quick as we can, and tell the others all
about it.’

‘No, we must not do that,’ replied Alwyn, ‘for then my
father would be wanting to give chase to these chaps, and run
a good chance of being killed in doing it, for there are sure
to be some more of them hidden in the thickets. Besides,
we’d be much more likely to lose our own way in these woods,
which we don’t know a bit, than to find a couple of scamps
who know ’em by heart. No, I’ll tell you what well do;
we ll just wait till we get back to the house, and then we ‘l
get Mr Hardy by himself and tell him all about it—-he ’s just
the man for things of that sort.’

They did so, and the traveller listened to their strange tale
with close attention and evident interest, though he made no
comment upon it whatever.

‘You have done well to keep this quiet,’ said he at length,
‘and I’m glad to see that you can be so careful. Commend
me to a boy who can keep his own counsel, instead of going
about cackling to any one that he meets whatever he may
have heard or seen. Now mind, this job is a secret for the
present between us three ; and, till I give you leave, you
must not say a word about it to any one.’

The boys, not a little pleased to be thus put on a level with
their favourite hero, readily promised to obey him ; but they
narrowly escaped betraying themselves the very next day, on
finding conspicuous in a local paper the following spicy morsel
of news:

ESCAPE OF A NEGRO CONVICT!
LATEST PARTICULARS—THE CRIMINAL STILL AT LARGE—
His Previous RECORD.

‘The neighbourhood of San Fernando has just been thrown
into a state of the most intense excitement by the sudden
escape of John Storm, a notorious negro “ough,” from the
208 ON THE PITCH LAKE.

chain-gang in which he was working on the new road inland
from the town. The criminal is supposed to have taken to
the woods, and was still at large at the date of our going to
press.

‘Tt will be remembered that Mr Storm, about a year ago,
drew public attention to himself by a ferocious assault upon a
mulatto tradesman in Port of Spain, for which he was sen-
tenced to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour. On
that occasion he was only saved from a far heavier sentence
by the insufficiency of the evidence connecting him with the
burning of the warehouse of our esteemed townsman, Mr
Cane, of which he is still believed guilty.

‘Apparently this worthy was so fond of his prison, that he
had hardly left it when he set about qualifying himself for
re-admission, by a murderous assault on the overseer of Sefior
Don Ruiz del Pulgar, of Chuguanas. His flimsy excuse that
the overseer struck him first seems to have had more weight
than it ought with the court, which awarded him a far lighter
penalty than such a ruffian deserved. How he contrived to
free himself from his irons is still a mystery, and two of the
coloured policemen in charge of the gang have been arrested
on suspicion of connivance. Both men, however, deny the
charge ; and one of them is said to have hinted that the
convict may have been furnished with the means of escape by
two young English gentlemen who paid him some attention
on the passage from Port of Spain.’

Such was the published version of the affair; and if, after
reading it, Alwyn looked rather conscious, and Tom highly
indignant, who can blame them ?








CHAPTER XXV.
THE DISMAL SWAMP.

S\HIS, however, was the last adventure worth

| calling such that befell our young travellers
that month. Nothing more was seen or heard
of John Storm or Suarez; and as day followed
day, each crowded with the -countless marvels
of a first visit to the West Indies, the two lads troubled
themselves less and less about their portentous secret, to
which Hardy, on his part, never made any allusion whatever.

The chief event of this quiet season was the sudden de-
parture of Sir Frederick Goldhall, who, turning a deaf ear to
his host’s kind invitation to ‘stay as long as he liked,’ had
gone off in his yacht to pay a flying visit to an old friend in
Jamaica, promising to return in a few weeks. With him
went Trevenna, to whom Goldhall had taken a great fancy,
and who, in turn, completely idolised him for his ‘kindliness
to vather’—-the young baronet having, in fact, not only tele-
graphed to old Paul Trevenna, at his own expense, the news
of Hugh’s safety, but actually written the old man a long
account of his son’s adventures and enrolment among the
yacht’s crew, inclosing a few laboriously scrawled words from
Hugh himself and a remittance of money sufficient to ‘keep
him going’ for the time.

After they were gone, one day was much like another.
Early coffee and fruit—swim and walk before breakfast—


210 THE DISMAL SWAMP.

stroll round the plantation after it—walk through the woods
or along the beach in the afternoon, varied by an occasional
visit to the village of Chinese coolies near the Pitch Lake,
with all its quaint eastern adjuncts-—evening dinner of vari-
ous West Indian dainties, followed by a moonlight gathering:
in the veranda, to talk and munch sugar-cane—such was the
usual routine.

Flo and Alwyn were in raptures with all they saw and
heard ; and the one drop of bitterness in Tom’s cup of enjoy-
ment was the limited area of his swimming bath, which was
a charming little land-locked basin not far from the house,
overhung by a steep bank thirty feet high, so thickly wooded
that the path by which the boys clambered up and down it
was quite invisible. At the foot of it, a smooth strip of
white sand, only a few feet broad, served the swimmers as a
shelf on which to lay their clothes ; and a long curving coral-
reef, rising to within a few inches of the surface, shut it off
from the deeper waters beyond, with all their manifold
dangers.

Many a time did our ambitious Tom, while in the full
enjoyment of cleaving his way through the cool, buoyant,
life-giving water—which was-so perfectly clear that he could
see plainly the smallest fish that swam in its depths, and the
tiniest pebble that lay beneath it—glance wistfully at the
dainty white filigree-work of the coral barrier that kept him
from the open sea, evidently contending with a strong tempta-
tion to scramble over it and indulge in ‘a big swim.’ But,
luckily for him, the one thing on earth of which this reckless
boy stood in awe was a shark ; and, even in his brief acquaint-
ance with the tropical seas, he had seen enough of these fright-
ful creatures to increase tenfold his natural horror of them,
and to make him, in spite of himself, unwontedly prudent.

‘This is just like being in Fairyland !’ cried Flo Cramwell
one morning, as they sat at breakfast in the veranda, with
al the many-coloured glory of the rich tropical flowers
THE DISMAL SWAMP. 211

festooning the trellis-work around them, and the blue shining
sea outspread below. ‘I only wish it could go on for ever!’

‘Well, it can go on for some time yet, my dear,’ said good
Captain Marshall, who had become very fond of this fresh
little English rose-bud, so strangely thrown into the baneful
splendour of the tropics; ‘for I hope you are not in any
special hurry to leave me.’

‘It is very kind of you to say so,’ said Hardy; ‘but I
don’t think this soft, drowsy climate is quite the thing for
Englishmen. We should grow as indolent as that fellow in
the story who got rid of his ague because he was too lazy to
shake when the fit came on. Besides, you know, some of us
have got business to attend to.’

‘What business?’ cried the host. ‘You told me yourself
that you had communicated with your sub-editor, and arranged
for him to supply your place till the spring. Anyhow, I’m
not going to let you go just yet, for one does not have a V. C.
(Victoria Cross) and a popular author both in one’s house at
once every day.’

‘You are very good,’ said the author, ‘but I must not be
away from my work too long, for all that ; and besides, these
young folks are not as seasoned to the tropics as we are, and
it won’t do to run any risk of a visit from “Yellow Jack”?
(the yellow fever).

‘Pooh! there’s no danger of Yellow Jack in the cool
season; you are pretty safe from him here till the end of
April at least, and we’re only in February yet. Now, young
men, have you any plans for to-day ?’

‘Well, if it won’t put you out at all,’ said Alwyn—who,
like a well-bred English lad as he was, shrank from the
thought of presuming upon a kindness that seemed to have
no limit—‘ we were thinking of going out fishing, if you can
spare us a boat; but pray don’t think of it, if you can’t.’

‘On the contrary, it just fits in first-rate,’ cried Marshall
heartily ; ‘for I’m going to send Peter and Jim Crow up the
coast to-day to Chuguanas, to bring down some things that


212 THE DISMAL SWAMP.

are waiting for me there; and, if you like, I’ll send my
pleasure-boat instead of the barge, and then, while the men
go up and get the things down to the boat, you can fish as
much as you please.’

The boys eagerly assented, and afternoon found them
snugly moored beneath the overhanging trees of Chuguanas,
among which the white jackets and shining black faces of
Jim Crow and Peter had just disappeared. Their fishing-
lines were out in a trice, and as they fished, they chatted.

‘I-wonder when we are going to have another adventure !’
cried Alwyn ; ‘we’ve not had one worth talking about since
we met John Storm in the woods—-and that was more than
a fortnight ago.’

‘Mr Hardy has all the luck !’ grunted Tom ; ‘fancy being
blown out to sea, and then all but drowned, and then pretty
nearly murdered by mutineers, and then almost starved to
death, all in the same ten days!’

‘Yes, we missed all that,’ said Alwyn regretfully ; ‘and it
does seem hard, don’t it, that he, who has had more adven-
tures than he can count, should come in for all the fun, and
that we, who have seen nothing yet, should lose all the best
of it like that!’

‘Never mind, old fellow!’ replied Tom cheerily ; ‘who
knows but we may come in for something good yet—an
earthquake, or a whirlwind, or a flood, or something prime
of that sort! They say this is a fine place for ’em, you know.’

And brightening up at this enlivening prospect, Master
Tom bent anew to his fishing, with greater zeal than ever.

But the fish did not seem in a mood to bite, and the ever-
restless Tom began to grow impatient, and at length called out :

‘There ’s a cunning old rogue of a fish keeping close to my
bait, and telling all the others not to go near it—I see him
doing it, as plain as print! Look here! it’s no good fishing,
you know, if we never catch anything ; let’s go and explore
the “Dismal Swamp.” It’s just behind the point here, and
we've been always wanting to do it, you know.’
THE DISMAL SWAMP. 213

‘But if we run the boat on a sunken tree—and they say
there are plenty of them in there—we shall knock her all to
bits,’ objected his cooler comrade ; ‘and if we were to smash
the old fellow’s private boat, when he’s been such a brick as
to lend her to us, I could never look him in the face again.’

In fact, their light boat, which had a ‘shelter’ or deck-
house of cane and lattice-work amidships, with a door and
window, was built for speed rather than strength, and could
hardly withstand a collision either with a rock, another boat,
or one of the ‘snags’ of which Dare was speaking. But Tom
Wickham pooh-poohed all his objections, urging that they
would go too slowly to run any risk, and that the water was
clear enough to let them see any obstacle ere they encoun-
tered it.

Alwyn allowed himself to be persuaded, and the boat was
soon round the point, and nearing the edge of the ‘ Big Bayou.’

‘I say,’ cried Tom, ‘won’t it be a lark if Peter and Jim
come down to the shore before we get back, and find the
boat gone! They ’ll think that we ’re drowned, as sure as a
gun!’

‘Or that we’ve run away with the boat, and gone for
pirates, like those Spanish beauties aboard the Sé Philip.’

But all their merry talk and laughter gradually died away,
as the cold black shadow of that living tomb closed slowly
around them. The sun was still high in the sky, but light
and life seemed to have no place amid the cheerless twilight
of this hideous spot, which was indeed ‘a place of darkness
and of the shadow of death.’ High above them on either
side, shutting out light and air, mass after mass of dark,
leathery leaves coiled snakily over the gaunt black trellis-
work of interlaced mangrove-boughs; and between these
gloomy walls the white fever-mist steamed sluggishly up from
the foul beer-coloured stream, and hung like a shroud over
the doomed voyagers ; while, below them, the bare, white, dis-
torted roots, left exposed in all their deformity by the falling
tide, dug themselves greedily into the fathomless depths of
214 THE DISMAL SWAMP.

oozy rottenness below, like the claws of skeleton vampires
drawing up their foul nourishment from a drowned corpse ;
and upon the slimy banks of thick black mud—as if the
hungry roots themselves had come alive—huge purple. crabs
were crawling lazily up and down,

Overhead, the ghostly gloom was deepened by the black
shadow of huge, gnarled, twisted trees, distorted into a
ghastly mockery of human shape, as if sprung from that
awful ‘living forest’ seen by Dante in the regions of the
dead, which shrieked and dropped blood whenever a twig
was torn from it. Other trees of equal size—bare, dead,
rotten, overgrown with poisonous fungi—rose gauntly out of
the black slimy water, like the carcasses of drowned monsters ;
and a carrion bird that had perched on one of these, scared
by the approach of the boat, flapped heavily away into the
deeper shadows with an ominous shriek.

All at once a long, oily ripple broke the sullen waters just
in front of the boat, and through them started up the horny,
mud-plastered snout, jagged fangs, and small, narrow, cruel
eye of an enormous alligator !

‘Ugh! what a horrid hole!’ said Tom, drawing a deep,
laboured breath. ‘I say, let’s go back ; another five minutes
of this would choke me!’

‘Hold on half a minute!’ cried Alwyn; ‘I just want to
see what it is that keeps glistening and glimmering like a rain-
bow in the top of this tree.’

He had hardly spoken when Tom clutched him with both
hands, and whirled him into the deck-house with such frantic
haste that they both rolled on the floor together. The door
slammed behind them, and not a moment too goon 3 for just
at that instant there shot down right into the boat from the tree
at which Alwyn had been gazing—glittering and glancing like
the leap of a waterfall—the scaly length of a monstrous boa-
constrictor! *

* It is from this favourite mode of attack that the great python of South
Africa takes its Dutch name of ‘ Boom-Slange,’ or tree-snake.




















































CHAPTER XXVI
A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER.

<|UR heroes had heen wishing for an adventure,
\| and now, sure enough, they had got their wish
]} —-rather more fully than they liked.

To all appearance, there remained to them

i now nothing but a choice between two different
forms of certain death. Shut up as they were, they had no
control whatever over the boat, which, borne by the ebb-
tide, was fast drifting down the channel again toward the
open sea, At any moment it might strike and capsize, in
which case they would both he drowned like rats in a hole ;
and even should they escape this peril, the ponderous
strength of their dreadful fellow-passenger would quickly
burst through the frail lattice-work that was their only
protection, and doom them to a fate more horrible still.

The way in which the two boys respectively faced this
fearful crisis was extremely characteristic, Tom flew at once
to a small hatchet (used for hacking a path through the
brushwood), which lay near him on the floor ; but his gloomy
face showed that he could see no way out of the dilemma,
and that his sole plan of action was the truly English one of
‘fighting it out to the last,’

Not so Alwyn. Just for one moment, indeed, he felt his
old weakness rise up again to overpower him; for he had
always had a great horror of snakes, and never till now had


216 A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER.

he encountered one so terrific ; and as he heard the monster’s
mighty coils chafing and rustling along the outside of their
frail shelter, seeking everywhere for an entrance, he grew so
white that Tom sprang hastily toward him, thinking that he
was about to faint outright. But in another instant that
bold English blood which had given so many famous soldiers
to the house of Dare, rose to meet the danger; and Alwyn,
standing up resolutely, turned upon his downcast comrade
a face so calm and firm that the latter was fairly
astounded.

‘Tom,’ said he quietly, ‘I’ve read about a fellow who
got out of a fix like this, and I’m going to try the same
plan that helped him. Look about, and see if you can
find anything that will burn—I’ve got my matches
with me.’

Tom had not far to look, for ina kind of bracket on the
wall hung a piece of tarred rope, evidently meant to be used
as a torch.

‘The very thing!’ cried Alwyn joyfully. ‘Just light it,
will you, and stand ready, while I open the window.’

‘Open the window?’ echoed Tom, staring ; ‘why, youll
let the brute in upon us, if you do!’

‘Just what I mean to do,’ said Alwyn coolly ; ‘but he
won't go far—they can’t face fire, you know. Now, are you
ready ?”

‘All right,’ cried his comrade, waving the flaming torch
over his head.

Alwyn whipped out at once, with his right hand, a long
dirk-knife given him by Sir Frederick Goldhall, which had
often served him to slash asunder the troublesome withes and
briars of the tropical jungle, and threw open with his left the
Venetian-blind that masked the window-hole.

Instantly the snake’s huge, flat, slimy head came wriggling
in; but Tom’s firebrand met it full in the face, and as it
wavered before the dreaded flame, a blow, dealt with Alwyn’s
whole strength, buried his long knife in the scaly neck, with
A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER. 217

such force that the keen blade went right through it into
the woodwork beyond, literally nailing it to the wall.

The wounded monster’s struggles were terrific; and well
indeed was it for the two forlorn lads that it had not space
enough to bring its full might into play, or their light
defences would have been smashed like an egg-shell. Even as
it was, the boat rocked as if about to capsize outright, and
the woodwork of the deck-house cracked and split in all
directions, till at length one mighty blow of the ponderous
tail beat in one whole side of it like paper, and a full yard
of the vast slimy body came writhing through.

But the two brave lads, whose bold blood was now fairly
up, faced this new peril as manfully as ever. Alwyn Dare
seized the blazing torch, and beat it about the boa’s impaled
head with all his might and main, while Tom Wickham,
axe in hand, flew across the room toward the intruding
coil, and began hacking away at it as if he were felling
timber.

Three or four tremendous strokes, right upon the tail
always the weak point of a boa—effectually crippled it ; and
then the young champion rushed to the aid of his friend,
and, with two more downright axe-blows, fairly cleft the
monster’s wriggling head in twain.

A hiss as loud and sharp asa steam-whistle—a few more
convulsive struggles, making the boat quiver from stem to
stern—and then all was still.

Not for some time, however, did the conquerors in this
deadly battle venture to quit their place of refuge ; for both
had heard much of the wonderful tenacity of life possessed
by all snakes, and the tremendous muscular power that they
often put forth even when mortally wounded. But at length,
taking courage when they saw that that part of the monster’s
hody which was visible to them remained quite motionless,
they came cautiously forth, and found their dreaded foe lying
dead, and their boat just drifting out of that fatal labyrinth
of slime and thicket into the open water beyond.

Oo


218 A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER.

For a moment the two lads stood eyeing each other in
silence, and then Tom Wickham said emphatically :

‘T’'ll tell you what, old chap—lI shall say my prayers in
earnest to-night, and no mistake !’

‘And so will I too,’ said Alwyn, with equal energy ; ‘for,
upon my word, if ever any one seemed to be fairly done for,
we did just now. Novw, let us chuck this brute overboard,
and be rid of him.’ '

But ere they could do so, another boat—of the rude and
clumsy kind popularly known as ‘a dug-out’—came gliding
forth from among the bushes, not half-a-dozen yards away
from them, managed by a single black, whose face was almost
hidden by a broad-leaved straw hat.

At sight of their boat, the negro gave a start, and made as
if about to draw back into the shadows from which he had
just issued. But as he turned to do so, his hat slipped aside,
and both lads at once recognised their negro convict, John
Storm !

‘Hollo, John! is this you?’ cried Tom Wickham, who,
forgetting for the moment all that he had heard and read of
this man’s repeated offences and untamable ferocity, thought
of him only as one who was ‘down on his luck,’ and who
therefore stood in need of help and pity.

At the sound of his voice, the black “turned round again,
shot a keen glance at them both, and then said, in a tone of
marked relief :

‘Tf dat you, sar, berry good; me tink p’lice come. Hi!’
he added, as he caught sight of the dead boa, ‘plenty big
snake, him. Who kill um?

‘We did,’ said Tom. ‘Come and help us to chuck him
overboard.’

‘No, no, sar! no chuck he overboard! plenty money lose
den,’ said John eagerly. ‘Gov’ment reward for kill big snake ;
s’pose keep ’um, show ’um, plenty dollar get.’

‘Hold on a minute, John!’ cried Alwyn, seeing him turn as
if to depart ; ‘is there nothing that we can do to help you?’
A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER. 219

‘You done plenty ‘nuff for me already,’ said the outlaw,
with a momentary brightening of his gloomy face ; ‘no more
can do now, ’cept take good care you no tell nobody you see
me here.’

‘But look here, John,’ cried Tom Wickham, ‘you haven’t
really done all the things they say of you, have you?

‘What dey say ob me, den? asked Storm, his face darken-
ing again as he spoke.

‘Why, that you tried to murder a mulatto who kept a
shop in the town, and that you did hurt him pretty
badly.’

‘Sar,’ replied the negro, with a grim earnestness which
gave a kind of strange dignity to his voice and bearing,
‘s’pose you see man cheat poor widow, what you do?

‘Well, if any fellow were to be sucha sneak as that, I’d
thrash him too,’ said Tom frankly ; ‘but they said, too, that
you had a hand in burning somebody’s warehouse.’

‘Dey say plenty ting dat dey no can prove,’ replied the
outlaw. ;

‘Yes, I remember it couldn’t be proved,’ cried Tom, not
noticing the evasive nature of this reply; ‘but how about
that overseer that you set upon and nearly killed ?

‘What you do, sar,’ asked Storm, with fieree emphasis,
‘if, when you tell de troof, man call you liar, and hit you
in de face wid him whip?

The heé flush on Tom’s sun-browned face at the bare
thought of such a brutal insult, was a sufficient reply to the
question ; but just then Alwyn Dare struck in:

‘Well, anyhow, John, a plucky fellow like you ought not
to keep company with such a sneaking rogue as that Spanish
chap, José Suarez.’

‘Suarez!’ echoed John Storm, with a look of surprise ;
‘how you tell me know him?

‘Why, we saw you talking to him,’ said Alwyn, ‘in the
wood near the Pitch Lake, about a fortnight ago.’

‘What! you see dat, and you no tell p’lice?’ cried the
220 A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER.

negro. ‘You hab heart ob true man, bofe on you; and s’pose
all white man be like you, black man no be like me. But
what you know “bout Suarez, eh?”

The boys told him, in a few words, all that they knew,
and their strange hearer listened to the startling tale with
close and silent attention.

‘Him big rogue, for sure,’ said Storm at length, ‘but
him help me get free, all same; and s’pose him bad man
—well, when you want cut tree down, bad axe better as
none !”

These last words, and the sinister emphasis with which
they were uttered, bred a new and terrible suspicion in
Alwyn’s mind ; but ere he could give vent to it, John Storm
turned his boat’s head round, and said hastily :

‘Me must go now, gemplemen; Gorramighty bress you
bofe !

And, so saying, he vanished like a ghost into the gloomy
maze of drowned thickets from which he had just issued.

Silent and thoughtful, the two lads made their way back to
the landing-place at Chuguanas, where they found that Jim
Crow and Peter had just come down with the things that
they were sent to fetch, and were in no small dismay at
the disappearance of their boat and of its two young
occupants.

At sight of the dead snake, both negroes set up a shout
or rather howl of glee, and began to clap their hands and
caper about like madmen. On hearing the tale, the coloured
gentlemen vowed emphatically that such a feat was worthy
of ‘Three-fingered Jack’* himself; and in their eagerness to
get home with the great news, they put the things on board
with a speed and energy quite unheard of in them.

When measured, the slain monster proved to have a
length of twenty-seven feet five inches without the head,

* A famous negro outlaw, the Robin Hood of the West Indies, whose
name is still a household word with the coloured population of some of
the larger islands.
A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER. 221

which was larger by at least two feet than any snake killed
in the island for years past.* The government bounty was
promptly claimed and paid, and was given away by the boys,
on the very same day that they got it, to a sick Chinaman
in the coolie village, whose family was in sore distress.

* On the adjacent mainland of South America, however, pythons have
been found considerably exceeding thirty feet,






CHAPTER XXVILI.
IN PRISON.

EBRUARY came and went, and with the first
week of March, the time fixed by Goldhall
for his return from Jamaica, our travellers, who
were to return to England in his yacht, began
to watch eagerly for her coming. But the end
of that week, instead of bringing Sir Frederick, brought only
a letter from him to Seymour Hardy, with the news that
one of those sudden storms so common in the Gulf of
Mexico, had caught the Refuge, and damaged her so much
that she would take several weeks to repair. The letter
concluded as follows :

‘I believe your explanation of that affair of “King Arthur’s
church-bells”* was right after all, for we’ve just come across
a duplicate of it in these very seas. The night before the
storm we had a regular panic on board—Trevenna being the
worst of the lot—at the solemn toll of a bell at intervals
of a minute or so, when nothing was to be seen. Then I
remembered what you had said, and as soon as daylight came
I lowered a boat, and pulled toward the sound. My men
seemed rather shy of the job, but I comforted them with the
assurance that it could not possibly be King Arthur’s bell this
time, so far from home ; and, sure enough, it turned out to be
nothing worse than a ship’s bell from some wreck, caught

* See Chapter XIV.


IN PRISON. 223

on a coral reef only a foot or two below the surface, so that
the come-and-go of the water made it toll.

‘We carried it away with us as a trophy; but when the
storm came, Hugh Trevenna said to me, with an air of mild
reproach :

«Ve see now, maister, mischief has coomed after it all the
same !”?

Flo Cramwell was not a little amused at this simple and
matter-of-fact solution of the weird mystery that had puzzled
her for so many weeks; but her father and Major Dare
eyed each other blankly at the news of this unlooked-for
delay, and the latter broke out impatiently :

‘This won’t do, you know. We had better just go back by
one of the mail-steamers, for we can’t keep on waiting and
waiting here, never knowing how long he-may be. I’m
going to send Alwyn to Hollowdale next half-year, you know,
and I must have him in England several months before, so
that he can have plenty of time to get ready for it.’

‘And I,’ said Mr Cramwell, ‘have several things in hand
which must be finished by the end of the midsummer
holidays ; and that won’t give me too much time for them,
either.’

‘But remember,’ said Hardy, ‘that we promised to wait
here till he came back.’

‘Yes,’ growled the major, whose temper was somewhat
awry from the combined effects of half-a-dozen bad mosquito-
bites and a severe touch of ‘prickly-heat ;’ ‘but remember
that we promised that when we were expecting him this
week, and now he hasn’t come. Upon my word, you’re as
bad as our old colonel when he was getting out of Agra
against time, to escape being gobbled up by the rebels, and
the ladies of the regiment kept him waiting a good hour and
more, while they got their things together; and instead of
grumbling or scolding ’em, all that old Chutney said was,
“This is really Agra-waiting /”’
224 IN PRISON.

But at last it was settled that they should wait for Gold-
hall till the end of the month, and that, if he did not
appear then, they should consider themselves free to go home
by the first mail-packet that might touch at Trinidad.

A few days later, they were all on the move together; for
this was the time when all the planters of the district went
up on their regular business visit to the little capital, and
Captain Marshall went like the rest, accompanied by all his
guests in a body.

This was a great treat to the two boys, who, though by
this time they knew all the country round San Fernando by
heart, had as yet seen little or nothing of Port-of-Spain and
its environs; and to work they went with a will. They
surveyed the government court-house in Brunswick Square,*
and the Catholic church, with its two massive towers, and
the vast ornamental window between them. They lunched
at the ‘Ice-house,’ that famous restaurant which serves alike
as a club and an exchange. They examined every foot of the
straight, wide, main street, with its tiny fountain encircled
by huge trees, its fifty-foot palms standing ranged along
either side like lamp-posts, its carrion-vultures fluttering to
and fro as sparrows do in England, and its endless vista of
whitewashed door-posts and painted, gallery-like verandas,
and high-windowed roofs, seeming to raise their eyebrows in
wonder at the strange scenes below. They walked round the
governor’s garden, blazing with tropical flowers, and cultivated
by a staff of convicts from the adjoining prison. They
admired the delicate pink lace-work that encased the nut-
megs, and the huge purple bells of the cocoa-trees swaying
drowsily to and fro beneath their over-arching leaves. They
roamed over the wooded hills around, and pulled down ripe
oranges from the trees like blackberries—a pastime from

* The original builders of Port-of-Spain must have been a very loyal
set. King Street, George Street, Brunswick Square, Hanover Place, still
remind one that the island was taken from the Spaniards ‘ when George III.
was king.’
IN PRISON. 225

which poor Tom came back one day with a face like a prize-
fighter, having by ill-luck chanced upon one of the formidable
‘blister oranges,’ the inner skin of which, if not carefully
removed, leaves blisters on the eater’s mouth as big as a
shilling.

But all this took up only two or three days, and then these
young Alexanders began to pine for more worlds to conquer,
and at length decided upon a walk out to Maraccas Bay, of
the scenery of which they had heard many wonderful tales.
The distance there and back was somewhat less than twenty
miles, which seemed no very formidable undertaking to our
active heroes, who had yet to learn that there is a wide differ-
ence between twenty miles on a smooth English high-road,
and the same distance up and down West Indian hills and
thickets, beneath a tropical sun.

Just at first, however, they got on very well; for the long,
straight road that leads out of Port-of-Spain to the east is as
level as a billiard-board, and along it they went in gallant
style, in spite of the ankle-deep dust that rose up in clouds
around them at every step.

In the cloudless morning sunshine, the bright blue sea on
their right, and the dark wooded hills on their left, made a
goodly picture, and formed a very effective background to the
gay green-and-yellow of the feathery sugar-canes that waved
along either side of the road, and the quaint little nests
of dried grass and palm-leaves that peeped forth from
them, out of which groups of woolly-headed negro urchins,
in the garb of Adam before the Fall, came grinning and
capering to shout a shrill greeting to the ‘white buckras,’
‘and to hold out their tiny black paws for a possible half-
penny.

‘I say,’ cried Tom, ‘do you remember Captain Marshall’s
yarn of that treacle-cask that tumbled off a cart on this road,
and burst open, and then the nigger-boys, seeing the men
coming to drive ’em away from the treacle, rammed a small
chap slap into the cask, and then pulled him out and licked
226 IN PRISON.

him clean? I should think it was the first time he ever got
well washed in his life !’

‘Well, I daresay he deserved a licking,’ said Alwyn; ‘for
what says Dr Johnson? “If you meet a boy, flog him ; for
if he does not happen to deserve it at the moment, he either
has done so, or soon will !”?

‘Talking of treacle,’ resumed Tom, ‘I hope we shan’t have
to visit any more sugar-mills, for I’m dead sick of ’em. It’s
always just the same thing over again—a big hot place full
of steam, with a smell like a wash-tub stuck in the middle of
a stable, and a fellow jawing away as if he were giving a
lecture, and expecting you to take in every word he says,
while there’s a big machine going thump, thump, within an
inch of your nose, and another going thump, thump, within
an inch of your back, and everything so sticky all round that
you daren’t even put your foot down for fear you ’d never be able
to get it up again—all very well if you were a postage-stamp,
but not quite the thing for a human being. And then the
chap shows you a lot of slobbery-looking brown stuff lying in
a pan, and tells you it’s sugar-sap ; and then he marches you
up to exactly the same stuff lying in another pan, and calls
upon you to admire the ‘wonderful change’ made in it by the
process; and so on through half-a-dozen pans more, each
with a nigger stirring it up with a sort of overgrown soup-
ladle; and after that, by way of testing (or tasting) the
result, you have to eat enough sugar and drink enough syrup
to make our Lower School sick for a month. And so the
exhibition ends, and you get out at last, feeling as if you’d
been shut up.for a fortnight in a steamer’s engine-room, with
a rough sea on. I’ll tell you what—if that’s the way to
“improve your mind,” as they call it, I’d rather leave mine
unimproved for a bit!’

‘Same here,’ said Alwyn Dare, with a grin. ‘Hollo! four
roads—which of them is the way to Maraccas Bay, I
wonder ?”

In fact, they had just arrived at a cross-way, and neither


IN PRISON. 227

finger-post nor mile-stone was to be seen. Alwyn was for
asking the way, but the independent Tom would not hear
of it.

‘You don’t suppose the Pathfinder or old Chingachgook,
or any of those fellows in Fenimore Cooper, asked their way
whenever they went into the forest!’ said he disdainfully.
‘Catch them! they found it out for themselves, and so must
we. Yonder’s the sun, and we’ve got to keep on heading
north-east ; and so—let me see—-yes, this is our road to
Maraccas, round here to the left.’

So saying, he struck boldly up the left-hand road, which
turned sharply off along a dark, narrow valley between two
high and thickly-wooded ridges. His comrade followed
with visible hesitation ; but Alwyn’s doubts were soon set at
rest by the sight of a half-decayed slab of wood set upright
by the wayside, on which, somewhat defaced, but still legible,
were the words: ‘To Maraccas Bay, 6 miles.’

‘Six miles!’ cried Tom gleefully. ‘Hurrah! then we’re
nearly half-way there already. Come along, old fellow—put
it on!’

To ‘put it on,’ however, at a pace sufficient to satisfy Tom’s
impatience was easier said than done; for their new road
was no longer a smooth and well-beaten highway, but a rough,
broken, miry cart-road of the regular old West Indian sort.
The ruts were so tremendous that Tom was moved to remark
that ‘if they wanted a railway there, they had nothing to do
but to lay the rails, for the cutting was ready-made ;’ and at
one point the whole breadth of the way was overflowed by a
‘small stream, through which the two lads, finding no crossing,
were forced to wade.

‘This place,’ cried Tom, as he tugged out of the quagmire,
by main force, the shoe which its thick glue-like mud had
literally torn from his foot, ‘would just do for an illustration
to Mr Hardy’s story of that Irish groom who came yelling
into a village to get help for his master, who was “up to the
ankles in a bog;” and when some one said that if he were


228 IN PRISON.

only in that far, he could get out by himself—“ Yis,” cried
Paddy, “but he wint in head-first !”’

Just beyond the turn of the road, they came upon a tiny
hamlet, consisting of about a dozen little huts of cane thatched
with palm-leaves, each with its miniature garden in front of
it, in which a sturdy black was working in the usual leisurely
fashion of that easy-going race which seems still to hold in
honour the sage counsel once given by a shrewd negro patri-
arch to his departing son :

‘Sam, my boy, whatebber yo’ do, see and nebber do no
work ’fore breakfast ; and if yo’ ebber hab work to do ’fore
breakfast, be a good boy, and git yer breakfast fust!’

‘These chaps,’ said Tom, with a knowing nod of his head
toward the sable doers of ‘an infinite deal of nothing,’ ‘just
remind me of the nigger who said, when his master asked
him if he were afraid of work, “Me ’fraid ob work, massa ?
Bless you, me lie down and go ’sleep close by the side ob
him!” They look good stout fellows, too ; I suppose it’s the
sugar in the air that keeps ’em in such good form !’

‘Or perhaps,’ suggested Alwyn, ‘they have got fat upon
doing so little work, just as the Yankee sculptor got his idea
of a statue of “Repose” from a New York messenger-boy
with an important letter.’

But, when once they lost sight of this hamlet, there was
no more sign of human habitation ; and the road, so far from
mending as they advanced, seemed to ‘improve very much
the wrong way.’ Wilder and wilder grew the scenery on
either side, while the road itself appeared to grow rougher
and more broken and boggy at every step; and, worse still,
it narrowed little by little into a mere bridle-path, and at
length, just at the foot of a vast wooded ridge, which rose
sheer up overhead like a wall, it disappeared altogether !

‘Here’s a pretty go!’ said Alwyn, with a blank look
around him. ‘What on earth are we to do now?’

‘We’re bound for Maraccas, and to Maraccas we must get
somehow,’ answered doggedly the invincible Tom, who was a















el (Be des
SM ee

oe & SAM 2






Hi. Jobnny !’ halloed Tom is this the right road to Maraccas Bay ?
2 > gs
s y »




IN PRISON. 229

true Englishman in his quality of never knowing when he
was beaten. ‘See, here’s a sort of path going up the hill—
let’s try that.’

Up they went accordingly, but at a much slower pace ; for
what Tom called a path was a mere ledge of the rock, barely
wide enough for one person at a time, and so overgrown with
briars that. at every step our heroes were switched across the
face by some pliant bough, till, as Tom Wickham said with
a knowing grin, ‘it seemed to rain birch-rods.’

Nor was this all. Just at first, this matted undergrowth
hid from the young climbers the formidable depth below ;
but as they mounted higher and higher, the gradual thinning
of the brushwood enabled them to perceive that they were
marching along the very brink of a precipice of more than a
hundred feet !

‘I say, old boy,’ cried Alwyn, as he gazed down upon the
mass of tree-tops that bristled like levelled spears far below,
‘we shall have to look well to our feet here. I don’t par-
ticularly want to imitate that unlucky gentleman in Mr
Cramwell’s pet song :

With broken back, like felon on rack,
He hangs in a split pine-tree !’

‘Well, is this really the road, I wonder?’ said Tom, look-
ing doubtfully from the precipice below him to the precipice
above. ‘I shouldn’t mind asking the way now, if there were
any one to ask. But, hollo! there is a fellow up yonder;
let’s hail him.’

There, sure enough, far above their heads—a tiny speck of
white amid the endless tangle of dark-green boughs—hung
on the face of the precipice, like a fly on a wall, the tattered
cotton jacket of a negro, who was clinging to a projecting
root with one hand, and hacking vigorously at the matted
brushwood with the other.

‘Hi, Johnny!’ hallooed Tom, ‘is this the right road to
Maraccas Bay 2’
230 IN PRISON.

‘Dat am it, sar,’ said the gentleman of colour, with a broad
grin; ‘s’pose you go off de road here, you soon find it
out!’

One glance at the fearful gulf below gave point to this
grim joke ; and the two lads struggled doggedly on, climbing
zigzag after zigzag of this singular ‘road,’ which wound up,
and up, and up, as if it would never end.

But all at once the massed trees around seemed to fall
away on either side; and, looking up, they saw nothing
above them but the sky.

‘Hurrah!’ shouted Tom, with what little breath he had
left, ‘we’re at the top!’

At the top they were, sure enough ; and far below them,
on the other side of the mountain, lay outspread, at the foot
of a descent even steeper than that which they had just
scaled, a deep horse-shoe bay, shut in by bold rocky heights
crested with dark wooding. Out of the clear bright water
stood gauntly up, every here and there, huge black masses
of fallen rock, against which the long, smooth ‘rollers’ of the
South Atlantic were bursting in spouts of glittering spray.

‘That’s Maraccas Bay!’ cried Tom; ‘we’ve done the
trick this time, and no mistake! Come on—let’s see who'll
be first down to it!”

‘Well, if it’s all the same to you,’ said his cooler comrade,
‘T’d like to have some lunch first. This is a tip-top place
for it, and I feel as if I wanted mine, anyhow.’

‘Well, now I think of it, so do I,’ quoth Tom. ‘Trot out
the grub, then.’

Out came the stores with which their pockets were
crammed, and they fell-to with a will. In taking their seats,
they happened to place themselves with their faces to the
south, and thus had a full view, from that great height, of
the high-road along which they had marched from the town,
as well as the town itself, lying like a long snow-drift of
white houses between the dark-green hills and the blue,
sparkling sea.
IN PRISON. 231

‘I say,’ cried Alwyn eagerly, ‘fancy old Drake, or Hawkins,
or some of those old bricks, getting up here after a tremen-
dous long tramp through these woods and marshes, and seeing
the Spanish town right below them, all ready to be attacked.
What a hurrah they must have set up when they first caught
sight of it!’

‘I shouldn’t think, though, that they had half as good a
lunch as we’re having now,’ said Tom, with his mouth full.
‘I suppose that was why they used to carry bullets in their
mouths *—because they had nothing else to put in ’em.’

‘Shouldn’t wonder,’ quoth Alwyn; ‘for the usual fare
then seems to have been nothing for dinner, and a battle
for dessert.’

‘Yes, there was some fun to be had in those days,’ said
Tom regretfully ; ‘but now one must go a long way to come
in for any adventures worth talking about.’

Tom Wickham was as sharp a lad as any in England; but
—as will shortly be seen—he was no prophet.

The descent to the bay, steep as it was, was short work ;
for our young athletes never troubled themselves to look for
the path, but leaped from rock to rock, and swung themselves
down from bush to bush, as nimbly as monkeys. More than
once they all but fell headlong, and twice a huge stone, dis-
lodged by their reckless leaps, thundered down after them,
and narrowly missed crushing them both; but on they
plunged unheeding, and at length stood in triumph on the
tiny strip of beach between the thickets and the sea, scratched,
bruised, ragged, breathless, and covered with dust from head
to foot, but in the highest possible spirits at the success of
their enterprise.

The first thing to do, of course, was to have a swim; so in
they went, and for the next half-hour were enjoying them-
selves to the full—shooting through the clear, cool sea, as

* Such was the regular custom in the days of match-lock muskets, the

soldiers marching ‘match lighted, and bullet in mouth.’
D,
232 IN PRISON.

buoyantly as the fish around them, splashing showers of
water in each other’s faces, dodging the rush of the in-rolling
waves, hunting after floating coils of seaweed, and making
the dark, silent precipices around them ring with their shouts
and laughter.

Luckily for them—for neither of the two had ever thought
about it—the bay was too shallow at that point for any risk
from the sharks; and their enjoyment was at its height
when, all at once, Alwyn Dare was seen to stumble forward
with a stifled ery of pain.

‘Hallo, old boy! what’s up now?’ cried his friend, spring-
ing toward him.

But the blood that oozed from Alwyn’s bare foot, as he
held it up, fully answered the query. He had stepped by
chance upon a sharp stone, and given himself a severe
gash.

Tom Wickham gave a long whistle of dismay.

‘T say,’ cried he, ‘this is a bad lookout! We’ve got ten
miles to go to get home, and that cut won’t help you much
when we start to do it. Well, anyhow, we’d better come
out and tie it wp at once.’

Tom did so, using his own handkerchief for the purpose ;
but he was not so skilled in surgery as in cricket or football,
and he made such a parcel of the bandage, that Alwyn, after
trying in vain to get his stocking on over it, was forced to
put the tied-up foot into his shoe just as it was.

‘Now that I’ve come to grief like this, Tom,’ said he as
cheerily as he could, ‘I think we’d better just start back at
once; for it will be dark among these hills long before night-
fall, and I’m afraid I can’t go back quite as fast as I came.
I’m very sorry indeed to have been so clumsy, but I hope I
shan’t keep you back very much, after all.’

‘This hope, however, was not fated to be realised; for it
soon. became only too clear that Alwyn, brave and resolute as
he was, had overrated his own ‘staying-power.’ Inferior
alike in training and in actual strength to his athletic chum,
IN PRISON. 233

he had already begun to feel the strain of this long and hard
exertion; and when to this was superadded the crippling
effect of his accident, the odds were indeed sorely against
him. Ere they could regain the crest of the ridge above
them, the ascent of which seemed to Tom’s impatience as if
it would never end, the Hollowdale champion’s experienced
eye saw plainly that his comrade was flagging at every
step.

‘Never mind,’ cried Tom cheerily ; ‘it’s all down-hill now,
and well be able to go a bit quicker.’

But here, too, fortune was against them. The sun, though
still above the horizon, had already sunk behind the tops of
the higher mountains, and it was fast growing so dark that
any attempt at their former headlong speed, on that narrow,
broken ledge that formed the brink of a precipice, would have
been little short of certain death. In fact, they were forced
to pick their steps slowly and carefully all the way down the
descent ; and by the time they reached once more the rough
cart-road at the foot of it, it was but too plain that poor
Alwyn was all but worn out.

Still, however, the brave lad bore up like a hero, and, with
the aid of his comrade’s arm, forced himself onward, foot by
foot, till he was at length so spent that he could hardly drag
one leg after the other. On they struggled, in utter silence ;
for neither cared to speak out the fear that lay heavy on the
minds of both—namely, that they might not be able to get
back to the town that night, after all. And if they could
not, where were they to find shelter for the night? Yet some
shelter they must find, for both knew well what would come
of lying out in the tropical damp and the tropical moonlight
without any covering.

So they toiled wearily onward through the deepening
gloom, which at last became so intense that they had actually
to grope their way ; when all at once the rising moon peered
out above the dark hill-tops, and showed them, just in front,
a tiny cluster of native huts.
234 IN PRISON.

‘That settles it, said Tom decisively ; ‘this is the village
that we passed just after the cross-way, and that means that
we have four miles to go yet to get home. We can’t do it,
old boy ; and the best plan now is just to get a night’s lodg-
ing in one of these huts, since by good luck we’ve got the
money to pay for it. They won’t be very nice places, I dare-
say; but, at any rate, they ’ll be better than catching one’s
death of fever by sleeping out in the dew. Here goes!’

And, marching up to the nearest hut, he thumped lustily
at its crazy plank door.

A low growl, like a half-aroused wild beast, answered from
within, and then the door was thrown open.

The moment it opened, the two lads broke into a simul-
taneous cry of horror, and sprang away into the encircling
gloom as fast as their stiff and aching limbs could carry them.
And well they might ; for one glance at the horrible deformity
of the hideous and scarcely human face which glared at them
from the doorway in the brightening moonlight, sufficed to
tell them both that the wretched creature whom they had
disturbed was a leper! *

‘Ugh!’ said Tom with a shudder, as they at length halted
to take breath ; ‘think of our having been just going to go
in there! Why, I’d sooner catch twenty fevers all at once!
No more of that for me, anyhow.’

‘Nor for me,’ rejoined Alwyn, whom Tom’s sudden collapse
seemed to have re-nerved to meet the crisis; ‘but there’s one
chance for us yet. Do you see that shed-like place over there,
with the light above the door? That’s the police-station, and
we ‘ll just go in and give ourselves up as vagrants.’

‘What! get them to imprison us?’ cried Tom, who,
reckless as he was, found such a suggestion startle even
him. ‘Well, that’s one way to get a night’s lodging, and
no mistake !”

* Whether this frightful disease still exists in Trinidad, I cannot say;
but I have myself met with it both there and in the far healthier island of
Barbadoes.—D. K,
IN PRISON. 235

‘It’s better than dying of fever, at any rate,’ retorted
his friend.

‘Well, there’s something in that,’ assented Tom. ‘Come
along, then. It’ll be rather a new sensation to be actually
a prisoner; only I hope they won’t put us in chains, or
anything of that sort. Won’t it sound fine to be able to
say “Just after I came out of prison !”’

And, going straight to the door of the lock-up, he struck
three or four blows on it that would have done credit to a
battering-ram.

It swung open, and in the doorway, in full uniform, stood
a sturdy negro policeman.

‘What you want?’ he asked, in a tone of stern official
dignity.

‘To come in, to be sure!’ cried Tom, as confidently as if
an application for a night’s lodging in the lock-up, on the
part of a well-dressed English boy, were quite an every-day
matter. ‘We’re homeless vagrants, don’t you see, and
you’ve got to lock us up! Come, look alive!’

But the uncompromising champion of the law squared his
brawny chest resolutely into the narrow entrance, as if
to bar their passage, and replied with an air of unanswerable
logic :

‘Sar! Man come, do someting—lock him up, berry good ;
man come, no do notting—what for lock him up?’ *

And then, turning a deaf ear to Tom’s considerate offer to
break a window, set the house on fire, or punch his head, ‘if
that would do’ to qualify them for admission, the honest
Cerberus was just about to go back into his den, when
Alwyn Dare, unexpectedly rising to the situation, stopped
him short.

‘Listen to me, my friend,’ said he, in a commanding tone ; ©
‘this is a government building, you know, and so you cannot

* Lest I should be suspected of romancing, I may as well state that this
adventure occurred to myself, precisely as I have told it here, even down to
the incident of the dead cockroach.—D. K.
236 IN PRISON.

lawfully refuse admission to any one who asks it in the
Queen’s name. I am hurt, as you see, and can go no
farther’—here he held up his bandaged foot—‘and if we
catch the fever by having to sleep out of doors, it will
be known that you denied us entrance into Her Majesty’s
lock-up, and I suppose you know what will happen then !’

Evidently the worthy Sambo did not know in the least ;
but that only made this dark hint all the more terrible
to him. He stared helplessly at the speaker, while Tom,
thunder-struck at his quiet chum’s unexpected assumption of
authority, and his sudden familiarity with English law,
listened with an amazement quite as great as that of the
policeman himself.

‘Well, sar,’ said the latter at last, with a ‘give-it-up’ kind
of air, ‘s’pose you come in and wait till corp’ral come roun’ ;
and den, if he say stop here, berry good; and if he say no,
why dat no my fault!’

And so our two young pilgrims stepped in, to wait inside to
learn whether they might come in or not!

Having once admitted them, their guardian seemed to
trouble himself no farther about them, but, lying down on
a low wooden settle in one corner, was fast asleep in a
moment.

‘Well,’ muttered Tom Wickham, as he seated himself on
a low bench that ran along the wall, ‘ this is a pretty country,
where a fellow can’t even get imprisoned when he wants to.
I knew it was a tough job to get out of prison, but I’d
no idea it was so hard to get in.’

The plank walls and bare floor of the interior looked dreary
enough in the dim light of the one lantern; but, anyhow, it
was a shelter, and they had reached it not a whit too soon ;
for hardly had they got out what was left of their food, and
begun their supper, when a furious blast of wind made every
plank of the building creak and groan, and a fierce patter of
heavy bullets of rain upon the roof, told the boys that the
long-threatened storm had burst at last in all its fury.
IN PRISON. 237

‘Just in time, eh, Tom?’ said Alwyn, through a huge
mouthful of biscuit.

‘I believe. you, my boy!’ replied his friend. ‘I say,
how’s that foot of yours now? I’m afraid all that tramping
up and down those hills won’t have done it much good.’

‘Well, it does hurt a bit,’ said the other, who had just
taken off his shoe, and rearranged the bandage; ‘but I dare
say it will be all right after a night’s rest in these luxurious
quarters.’

After such a day’s work, both lads were soon asleep ; nor
did they wake again till the first pale gleam of daylight stole
through the single pane of coarse glass that served as a
window, and showed them a swarm of industrious ants
carrying off leg by leg—like men shouldering logs of wood—
the carcass of a huge cockroach despatched by Tom the night
before. The black warder was still sleeping soundly, and,
as Tom remarked with a grin, ‘snoring fit to tear the roof
olf

‘Well, the sailors talk of “sleeping as sound as a marine
on sentry,” but it seems to me they should rather say “as
sound as a black policeman on duty.”’

‘Yes, I certainly can’t say much for the efficiency of Her
Majesty’s police in these parts; the corporal has never been
here at all, and the man on duty has been asleep all the time.
I don’t see what’s to hinder us, if we really were criminals,
from just undoing the door and walking slap out, without his
ever knowing a thing about it; but we may as well wake
him and tell him we’re going, just for the look of the
thing.’

Having roused their jailer, not without difficulty, they
‘tipped’ him a shilling, which seemed to meet his views,
and complimented him on his extreme diligence in the
discharge of his duty, with an irony which was lost upon
him altogether.

‘Whew! this is 2 mighty improvement after the air of
that hole!’ cried Dare, drawing into his lungs, with a long,
238 IN PRISON.

deep breath of intense enjoyment, the life-giving freshness
of early morning. ‘I can go along first-rate now. We'll get
to the town in good time for breakfast, no fear! I hope my
father hasn’t been anxious, by-the-by.’

‘Why on earth should he? He knows you’re with me!’
said Tom Wickham, with an air of grand protection. ‘ But
what sets you staring so at that yellow-skin yonder. Do you
think he’s run away with the town-hall, or put Government
House in his pocket on the sly ?’

Alwyn, without replying, stepped up to a passing mulatto,
with a battered straw hat slouched over his lean yellow face,
and said civilly :

‘Can you tell me, please, if this is the way to Port-of-
Spain ??

‘Yes,’ said the half-breed, so low as to be barely audible ;
and he shambled hastily past, as if wishing to avoid further
talk.

‘Why, what’s come over you, old chap?’ asked Tom,
staring ; ‘have you forgotten this road since yesterday ?

‘T just wanted to hear that fellow speak,’ answered Alwyn
Dare quietly. ‘He was well got up, but I thought I knew
his walk—and I knew his voice, too. Do you know who
he is?’

‘Why, who on earth is he? Robinson Crusoe’s Man
Friday, come over here for the Christmas holidays?’ laughed
Tom.

But his laugh died away as Alwyn replied gravely :

‘He’s José Suarez, the Spaniard !’








































































CHAPTER XXVIII

THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS.



=|HEN the two boys got back to their hotel in
\ the town, they found Hardy and Major Dare in
| r | the act of organising a party to go in search of
\X) them, just as the major had done in Shetland,
2 on the disappearance of Hardy himself.

Both men were highly entertained with our heroes’ recital
of their adventures, and laughed heartily at the account of
their night’s lodging in the lock-up. But at Alwyn’s mention
of his encounter with the disguised Spaniard, Hardy began
to look serious enough ; and as soon as the boys had gone in
to ‘tidy-up’ and prepare for breakfast, he drew the major
aside, and said to him, very gravely:

‘This is a bad job, Dare—far worse than I had thought.’

‘What? cried Dare scornfully, ‘do you fear any harm
from a sneaking rascal like that fellow Suarez? What on
earth can he do?

‘Well, not much by himself, perhaps; but a good deal
with others to back him.’

‘And whom do you suppose he would get to back him—or
what could he do, even if he did?’ asked Dare, in the same
tone of contemptuous indifference.

‘Do you remember,’ answered Hardy, looking him full in
the face, and speaking slowly and emphatically, ‘what
happened in Jamaica only the year before last?”








240 THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS.

‘What! the Morant Bay job” cried the major, beginning
to look startled in his twn. ‘Why, surely you don’t think
there is any chance of such an outbreak of the blacks against
the whites here ?’

‘I’m sure there is,’ said Hardy, with grave emphasis ; ‘and
if I had no other reason, this affair of their meeting Suarez
in disguise would be enough, of itself, to make me feel
certain of it. You will say, of course, that there is nothing
strange in a criminal disguising himself to avoid the police ;
but then, you see, a criminal who is so anxious to avoid the
police as to twn himself into a mulatto to do it, must have
some very strong motive to make him venture right into the
town, as he must have done, for our boys met him coming
from it. Take my word for it, Dare, there’s a negro insur-
rection brewing, and this precious Spaniard is one of the
leaders !’

‘You don’t mean to tell me that? cried the major, starting.

‘I do, indeed; and if you’ll come out to the end of the
veranda, I’ll tell you something more.’

The rest of the talk was carried on in low whispers ; but
the deepening gravity of the old warrior’s bold, brown face
showed it to be of no small importance.

‘Well, if that’s really so,’ said he at last, ‘we ought to
speak to Captain Marshall at once !’

‘Just what I mean to do,’ replied the author, as they went in.

And Hardy did so; but he had the usual luck of those
who presume to interfere with an Englishman’s time-honoured
right to make a fool of himself when and how he pleases.
The captain heard him with a broad smile of incredulous
amusement—told him laughingly, that, with such powers of
imagination, he might well be able to write exciting books—
declared that any person who liked was heartily welcome to
preach rebellion to the negroes on his estate as long as that
person pleased, and much good might it do him—and, in a
word, laughed the whole thing to scorn.

It was all in vain for Hardy to remind him that the
THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS. 241

murderous outbreak at Morant Bay was not yet two years
old, and that the Jamaica planters had been equally certain,
just before that famous explosion, that nothing of the kind
could ever occur. Captain Marshall laughed more heartily
than before—pointed out to him, with an air of triumph,
that that disturbance had been quelled almost as soon as it
broke out—vowed that he was himself equal to the putting
down of any such rebellion with a walking-stick—and
remained, in short, as blindly confident as ever.

This reception forced Hardy to change the plan of action
that he had already formed. His first idea had been, after
warning the captain, to go straight to the local authorities,
and report to them all that he knew; but now such a plan
seemed hopeless. If this quick, clear-headed man, with
whom he was on the most friendly terms, turned a deaf ear
to all his warnings, what chance was there of their being
heeded by a set of stiff, formal, narrow-minded fogies of the
old school—all utter strangers to him—whose rooted belief
was that no one could possibly know better than themselves,
and whose wits, none too sharp at the best, had been
doubly dulled by the countless absurd formalities and red-
tape traditions of British officialism? The evidence that had
failed to convince such a man as Captain Marshall was not
likely to have much weight with them.

In a word, there seemed to be nothing left for him to do
now but just to wait till he could get some further and
stronger proof of the mischief that was afoot; and, sure
enough, he did get it, much sooner than he had expected,
and in a very unlooked-for way.

The very next day, the indomitable Tom Wickham and
his chum—whose appetite for exciting adventures appeared
to be only whetted by their late startling experiences—went
for a ramble over the wooded hills to the north of the town,
and, making a wide round among them, came back by the
high-road.
249 THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS.

This road was studded with small native hamlets, and our
heroes, on their way home, passed in succession through a
Chinese, a Hindoo, and a negro village, in each of which they
found a good deal to look at.

In the Chinese village, which lay close to the water’s edge,
the boys found a number of these thin, yellow, doll-faced
men throwing handfuls of rice and dried fish into the sea,
just at the spot where some luckless Chinamen had been
drowned a year or two before ;* but whether this was done
merely as an offering in memory of the dead, or with the
idea of actually supplying food to their spirits, the two lads
could not find out.

In the Hindoo village they met with a stranger sight
than this. On the red-clay wall of the rudely-built little
Brahmin temple in the centre of it was pasted a coloured
likeness of the Prince of Wales in military uniform, evidently
cut from a ‘Christmas Supplement.’ Beside it was stuck a
large engraved portrait of Mr Gladstone; and the Hindoo
coolies were salaaming and prostrating themselves to both
with an air of the deepest reverence.

‘I say, old chap, are they really worshipping them as
gods? whispered Tom Wickham to his chum, in a voice
tremulous with laughter.

‘Shouldn’t wonder,’ replied Alwyn Dare, in the same tone,
‘for I’ve heard my father say that they put up a temple in
India to old General Nicholson, the man who did such
wonderful things at Delhi, you know, and worshipped him
under the name of “ Nikkul-Seyn.”’

Long ere our heroes came in sight of the negro village a
deafening clamour of shouts, yells, screeches, and roars of
laughter, mingled with the blowing of cow-horns, the beating
of small drums, and the tinkle of tambourines, told them
that a féte of some kind was going on there ; and as their ill-

* The same thing is done by all Chinese passengers, for a similar reason,
at a certain point of the voyage across the North Pacific, from San
Francisco to Yokohama.—D. K.
THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS. 243

luck would have it, they must of course stop and see what
all this was about.

The first thing that met them was a small black boy,
wearing a paper mask intended to represent a pig’s head,
which, as Tom truly said, was wholly superfluous, the urchin
being quite dirty enough to sustain the character without it.
After him came two full-grown negroes, whose half-naked
black bodies were striped with white in such a way as to give
them a grisly likeness to a skeleton—an illusion heightened by
the ceaseless clatter of the castanets in their hands, which
was horribly suggestive of the rattling of dry bones. Next
followed a fat old fellow on a donkey, holding a tattered
pink parasol over his head with one hand, and brandishing in
the other a stick with a sausage tied to the end of it. Around
him thronged a crowd of boys, equipped with long tails of
paper or twisted reeds, who kept leaping up wildly at the
sausage, barking like dogs, while the rider, at each new
attempt, whisked the dainty out of their reach, and then
whacked them unmercifully with the stick to which it was
tied—a practical joke at which not only the bystanders but
even the victims themselves seemed to be laughing uproariously.

After this queer parody of Acton and his hounds appeared
a throng of merry-makers so large as to fill up the whole
breadth of the road, most of whom wore absurdly tall hats of
coloured paper, and striped shirts such as are usually worn by
the ‘negro minstrels’ of an English watering-place. Some of
these worthies were blowing cow-horns, others capering wildly
about in time to the jingle of their tambourines, and not a
few beating drums or playing banjos, while all alike joined in
singing, at the full pitch of their strong but far from melodious
voices, an old plantation song, of which our heroes only came
in time to catch the last two verses :



De white man’s joys am not like mine,
He rich, but he no gay ;

Him great, him proud, him haughty, fine—
While I my banjo play ;
%

244 THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS.

Him work all day, him wake all night,
Him full ob care, him heart no light,
He great deal want, he little get,

He sorry, so he fret !

Me envy not de white man, den.
Me poor, but me am gay ;

Me hab no care—me happy when
-Me on de banjo play ;

Me sing all day, me sleep all night,

Me hab no care, my heart am light,

Me tink not what de morrow bring,

Me merry, so me sing |

Seeing plainly enough that not only the singers and dancers,
but nearly all the bystanders as well, were more than half-
tipsy, Tom began to repent, when too late, of having mixed
himself up with them. And well he might, for the West Indian
negro, though one of the most good-natured fellows alive
when in his normal condition, is a perfect demon when
maddened, as he too often is, with the fiery rum of the
Spanish Main.

However, there was no help for it now. There they both
were, in the very midst of this riotous and half-drunken
crowd ; and the only thing to be done, as they agreed in a
hasty exchange of whispers, was to make their way out of
it as quickly as they could, and, if possible, without attracting
any attention.

But this was not to be. How the affray first began Alwyn
never knew ; but all ina moment there came a burst of angry
cries, and a forward heave of the crowd, and he saw Tom go
reeling back, with a knotty club brandished over his head by
the brawny hand of a bulky negro.

To snatch a cudgel from the nearest man, to deal Tom’s
assailant a'staggering blow in the face with it, to seize the
latter’s club as he let it fall, and thrust it into Tom’s hand,
was for Alwyn, as penny-novelists are so fond of saying,
‘the work of a moment;’ and in another instant the two
TNE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS. 245

bold lads had sprung into an empty cart that was standing
near, and, planting themselves back to back, stood grimly at
bay.

For a moment the rush paused, but it was plain that the
pause would not be a long one. Stones and potsherds were
already beginning to whistle round the heads of our heroes,
while the enraged negroes swarmed up to the cart with savage
cries, and torrents of foul abuse.

From their post of vantage above the heads of the crowd,
the two forlorn lads could see that nota single white man was
anywhere in sight, nor even a black policeman ; and, to all
appearance, nothing could save them from being terribly
hurt and maimed, even if they escaped being killed out-
right.

‘All at once, in that moment of utter desperation, a sudden
thought started up in Alwyn Dare’s mind, worthy of his ever-
ready father. Uttering a shout that drew all eyes upon him,
he stretched out his left hand above the raging mob, with the
thumb and fore-finger joined so as to form a loop—the first of
the mystic signs, in fact, which he had seen John Storm
teach to his accomplice, Suarez, at their secret interview
beside the Pitch Lake. And then Tom Wickham, in obedi-
ence to a hasty whisper from his friend, repeated the same
signal.* ;

Its effect upon the furious throng was like magic. The
shower of stones ceased at once—the upraised fists unclenched
themselves—the lifted weapons sank—-and the whole gang of
savages stood as if turned to stone, the only sound heard being
a muttered ‘Golly!’ of blank amazement from one of the
fiercest assailants.

Then, amid this universal stupefaction, the big man who
had begun the attack on Tom, evidently one of the chief
leaders of the mob, stepped forward, and, looking keenly at

*I once learned from a beggar in Italy a cabalistic sign of the same
' kind which I found to have wonderful power among the peasants of that
country.—D. K,
246 THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS.

Alwyn, replied to him with the second of the three signs, by
putting forth the middle and fore-finger of his right hand.
Alwyn gave a knowing nod, and answered at once with the
third sign, by laying the palm of his right hand across the
back of his left—a gesture instantly imitated by Tom.

At sight of this last sign, up went such a shout that all
the previous uproar seemed nothing to it. There was no
more thought of fight or riot. The hands that had just been
lifted to crush the defenceless boys were now held out to
help them down ; the savage curses gave place to boisterous
hurrahs ; and in a trice the two lads found themselves borne
in triumph through the village on the brawny shoulders of
half-a-dozen of their late assailants, who set them down at the
farther end of it with every sign of marked respect, while the
tall leader, whose face was still bleeding freely from the blow
dealt him by Alwyn at the commencement of the affray, doffed
his battered straw hatas civilly as if Dare, instead of breaking
his head, had done him some special favour.

‘Us berry sorry, sar,’ said he, ‘to make dat bobbery ; but
den no know who you am. Good-bye, and de compliments ob
de season ; and de nex’ time you see Cap’n John, you please
tell him how we ’spect him sign.’






CHAPTER XXIX.
NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK.

SAlN their return to the town, the boys found none
\\| of their party at the hotel but Seymour Hardy,
|| who was absorbed in a letter just received from
4}; Sir Frederick Goldhall. The young baronet
was still in Jamaica, but he gave very little
news about himself, his letter being almost entirely taken up
with a new swivel-gun that he had just bought, and had
mounted amidships on the deck of his yacht.

‘It’s just the very thing I wanted,’ wrote the millionaire ;
‘for my next voyage, as you know, is to be through the
Malay Archipelago and among the South Sea Islands, where
you are apt to want a gun or two at times; and though these
two Gatlings of mine are handy little fellows at close quarters,
I’m glad to have something bigger to keep these chaps from
coming to close quarters at all. As to the yacht herself, the
little beauty’s pretty nearly done with her repairs, and
I think, bar accidents, you may count upon seeing me by the
29th or 30th, at latest, and then we’ll all go quietly home
together.’

‘When he does come,’ muttered the traveller gloomily,
‘he may find work here for that gun of his, such as he little -
dreams of ; but I doubt if he ll come in time to save us, after
all!





Q

.
248 NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK.

At that moment hasty steps came trampling along the
veranda in which he sat, and Tom Wickham’s voice called
out to him:

‘We have had something like an adventure at last, Mr
Hardy ; do you care to hear about it?’

And the boy told briefly, with a few marginal notes from
his chum, the story of their recent peril and hairbreadth
escape.

‘And so, you see, Mr Hardy,’ he ended, ‘it was a jolly
good job for us both that old Alwyn here was ’eute enough to
pin those signs of John Storm’s, and to remember ’em when
they were wanted. I should never have thought of it myself ;
and if it had not been for them, we should both have been
done for, as sure as a gun. Wasn't it a lark?

But Seymour Hardy did not seem to think it a ‘lark’ by
any means. With every word of the tale his face had
become graver and graver; and when Tom had ended his
story, the author rejoined, with a gloomy emphasis that awed
the reckless lads in spite of themselves :

‘Well, my boys, of course I’m very glad that you have got
off so well ; but let me tell you that this affair of the secret
signs may turn out a very awkward job for us all, and that,
so far as you yourselves are concerned, the danger is not by
any means over yet!’

‘Why, how’s that?’ asked Tom, looking at him with a
puzzled air.

‘Well, I may as well tell you at once, for you must know it
soon, whether I do or not, that I’m expecting every day the
outbreak of a general rising of the blacks against the whites
all through this district, like that Morant Bay job in Jamaica
the other day ; and, of course, the first thing they ll do will
be to burn every house and murder every white man that
they can get hold of.’

The bright faces of the two boys began to look very grave
indeed.

‘Now,’ went on Hardy, ‘there can be no doubt whatever
NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK. 249

that these signs which you have learned are the secret signals
by which these fellows know those who are in the plot; and
now that they have unluckily found out that you are in the
secret too, one of two things will happen—either they will be
heartened to double boldness by the idea that some of the
whites are on their side, or else they will fancy themselves
betrayed, and take vengeance by killing you the first chance
they get. After this, you must not on any account go out by
yourselves ; and whatever you do, don’t venture outside the
town, or leave the hotel after dark !’

The two lads, not a little startled at this new aspect of the
case, at once promised to do as he advised.

‘And as for me,’ said Hardy, ‘TI shall go straight to the
authorities the very first thing to-morrow morning, for un-
luckily it is too late to do it to-night, and just tell them the
whole story ; I should hope I have got proof enough now to
convince even them !’

But in this hope the energetic traveller was doomed to
find himself mistaken. He did, indeed, set out on his self-
appointed mission the very next morning ; but he soon found
to his cost that, for all the good he was likely to do, he might
just as well have stayed at home.

It was all in vain that he did his utmost to impress these
official oysters with a sense of the frightful peril in which
they were. Some of them hinted pretty plainly that they
knew their own business, and needed no one to teach it to
them. Others replied, with an indulgent smile, that every
one knew that the negroes and Chinamen were fond of play-
ing at organising secret societies, exchanging mystic pass-
words, and getting up conspiracies ; and that they were quite
welcome to do so as long as they liked, since it amused them,
and never hurt any one else.

Vainly did Hardy remind his incredulous hearers that just
at that particular time they were more than usually defence-
less against any peril of the kind, nearly all the soldiers in
the island having just been drafted off to England to join the
250 NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK.

impending Abyssinian expedition.* Unable to deny that
they would be at the mercy of any outbreak, if it really did
take place, these municipal jelly-fish sought refuge in an
obstinate assertion that it could never take place at all.

‘You surely do not suppose, sir,’ said one of them in reply
to Hardy’s warnings, ‘that these blacks could ever be so
mad as to think that they are able to contend single-handed
with the whole might of the British Empire ?’

‘That depends,’ said Hardy coldly, ‘on whether they have
any idea of what the might of the British Empire really is.
You remember, of course, the mutiny of black troops at King-
ston some years ago—that affair of Daaga, or “ Donald Stewart,”
as they called him ?’

‘Every one remembers it,’ boldly replied the jack-in-office,
who had never heard of it till that moment.

‘You will recollect, then, that the first thing done by the
mutineers on that occasion, after they had broken loose, and
armed themselves, was to set off to march back to Africa, not
even knowing that they were on an island! Do you suppose
that men who know no more than that would have much
idea of the power of England, or the force against which they
would have to contend ?’

These and all other arguments, however, proved as vain as
the firing of cannon at a cotton-bale; and at length Hardy,
giving up these minor do-nothings in despair, went on to the
governor himself.

But at the first glimpse of the latter’s dry, prim, self-import-
ant, official face—grave with all the profound wisdom of a
man who, while thinking that he knew everything, did not
even know that he knew nothing—the heart of the shrewd
traveller sank within him, and with only too good reason.
The little great man received him with stiff old-fashioned
courtesy—muttered a few polite nothings about the pleasure
of meeting so famous a traveller and man of letters—thanked

* Lord Napier’s advance upon Magdala in the winter of 1867, to rescue
the Christian captives of the negro emperor, Theodore.
NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK. 251

him for the trouble that he had taken, adding with an air of
indulgent superiority, that he hoped the apprehended danger
might prove visionary, as it had often done before—bowed
the visitor out, and forgot all about him and his news as soon
as the door had closed behind him.*

Seldom indeed did Seymour Hardy let anything put him
in a passion, and, in fact, it was a common saying with those
who knew him best, that the cool and wary traveller ‘always
kept his temper when he was really angry.’ But this time the
pithy maxim that he so often quoted, ‘Keep your temper,
even though it is a bad one,’ seemed to have wholly failed
him for once. The utter collapse of all his efforts to convince
these pompous and self-sufficient wind-bags of the fatal blow
that was just about to fall—their obstinate blindness to the
plainest facts—his own absolute certainty that the evil which
he dreaded was at the very door—the harrowing prospect
of seeing his friends perish by their own headstrong folly
before his very face, while powerless to save them—all
combined to drive him far beyond the limits of that cool
composure for which he was so famous; and he left the
governor’s house in such a tempest of conflicting emotions
that he hardly knew which way he went.

Instinctively, however, he turned toward the hills ; for the
bare idea of going back to the town, and hearing his incredu-
lous friends jesting on the brink of destruction, was simply
intolerable to him in his present mood. Through bush and
briar he went crashing headlong, hardly feeling in the over-
whelming excitement that possessed him either the countless
scratches inflicted upon him by the thorn scrub, or the shock
of his constant collisions with hidden roots and down-bending
boughs.

But, little by little, this prolonged and violent exertion

*It is only fair to state that this portrait, however true to its own ori-

ginal, in no way resembles the actual Governor of Trinidad at the time of
our story.— D.K.
252 NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK.

began to have its natural effect in working off the fury of
mingled rage and disgust that tingled through every nerve
and vein; and as his feverish excitement cooled, he was able
to take a calmer view of the whole situation, and set himself
to consider seriously what was best to be done.

But to save a man in spite of himself is never a very easy
matter ; and Hardy, ponder as he might, could think of no
way to avert the crisis.

To place his comrades beyond the reach of the coming
danger, without their own consent and assistance, was plainly
impossible ; and though nothing would have been easier than
to insure his own safety by escaping in a boat to the South
American mainland, which was actually in sight, the idea of
such a cowardly baseness never occurred to the brave English-
man for a moment.

What was he to do? He knew, indeed, that, could he
but lay hands on one or two of the leaders of this plot, the
whole movement must fall to pieces at once. But of this
there was now no hope whatever ; and it was no light agera-
vation of the bitterness of this conviction to recall Alwyn
Dare’s recent encounter with the disguised Suarez, and to
feel that the worst and most dangerous of these plotters had
so lately been—had he but known it—actually within his
reach, and had got safely away.

One hope, however, was still left to him. So long as his
friends remained in the town they were safe; for it was
hardly possible that the insurgent blacks, formidable as they
might be to isolated plantations, could gather a force strong
enough to storm the capital itself. He must devise some
pretext to keep Captain Marshall and his party in town for
the present ; and such a pretext would not be hard to find.

Having come to this conclusion, Hardy began to feel more
hopeful than he had yet done during the whole of that trying
day ; and he made up his mind to go back at once to the
town, and see what he could do.

But where was the town, then—and where was he?


NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK. 253

Where, indeed? On every side of him, look which way
he would, bristled an impenetrable mass of thickets, hiding
everything around him, and all but shutting out the very sky
above. There could be no doubt about it—he had lost his
way ; and no one knew better than he that a man who once
loses his way in a regular West Indian jungle may be long
enough ere he can find it again.

Somewhere below him, to be sure, the town must lie. But
to keep heading down-hill at hap-hazard, in the hope of
coming to it at the last, would be no very safe venture ; for,
in such a maze of ridges and hollows, he might easily go down-
ward in the wrong direction, and find himself, after an hour’s
hard tramping, just on the opposite side of this range of hills
from that where the town lay.

There was nothing for it but to climb a tree, and take his
‘bearings ;’ and in a trice he was clambering up the tallest
within reach,

Once at the top, he soon made out his position. Port-of-
Spain itself, indeed, was hidden by a wooded bluff ; but the
wide plain on which it stood, the smooth expanse of blue
sea beyond it, and the broad, white, dusty high-road that led
to it, running across the vast green level like a vein on a cab-
bage-leaf, lay full in view to the southward.

So far, so good; but the sun was now sinking fast, and
unless, ere night fell, he could get clear of this pathless maze
of thickets, from the outer edges of which he was still nearly
two miles distant, he might go wandering about at hap-hazard
till next morning,

He was just about to descend, when, all at once, amid the
silence of the forest, his ear caught a faint sound of stealthy
footsteps and lowered voices, which seemed to be coming
right toward him.

What could this mean? Men who observed such extreme
caution even in a lonely place like this must certainly be
upon no honest errand; and the unseen watcher’s heart beat
quicker at the thought that perhaps these forest-prowlers
254 NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK.

might be some of the very conspirators who were uppermost
in his mind at that moment.

Crouching closer amid the sheltering leaves, he strained
his eyes to catch a glimpse of the strangers’ figures, and his
ears to drink in their words, while the steps and voices drew
nearer and nearer, till at length, though he could see nothing
of the intruders, the sound told in that they were actually
passing just beneath his place of concealment.

As they did so, he heard one of them say to the other:

‘Tt is to be to-morrow at midnight, then ?’

‘To-morrow at midnight, at the Half-way House,’ replied
the other ; ‘and every one who is admitted must make, as he
enters, Captain John’s three signs!’

All Seymour Hardy’s proverbial self-command could hardly
repress a start as he listened ; for, though the first of these
two voices was quite strange to him, he at once knew the
second as that of José Suarez !

For one moment the veteran traveller’s coolness forsook
him, and he forgot that he was unarmed and alone—forgot
that his foes were two to one, and on ground of their own
choosing—forgot all save the thought that at least one leader
of the plot, and perhaps more than one, was at last within
reach of his arm, and that such a chance might never come
to him again. One instant more, and he would have slid
down to the earth, and closed with the ruffians hand to hand,
for life or death ; but he found himself unexpectedly stopped
short.

In crouching down among the branches to avoid being seen
by the passing ruffians, he had forced his right knee into the
fork of a bough, wedging it so tightly that all his strength
was required to tug it out; and by the time he had succeeded
in doing so, the voices and steps of the worthy pair had
already died away in the distance.

But Hardy bore this check more patiently than might have
been expected ; for a moment’s reflection sufficed to convince
him that he would have been much more likely to be mur-
NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK 255

dered by these two rascals than to succeed in arresting both
or even one of them unaided. Scrambling down the tree
again, he set his face to the south, and went slowly down-
ward through the wood, musing on what he had just heard.

The ‘Half-way House’ was a small roadside inn, kept by
an old Spanish mulatto and his wife, and named from its
position mid-way along the high-road between Port-of-Spain
and the negro village where Tom and Alwyn had been mobbed
on the previous day. Rough as it was, this inn was a
favourite place of refreshment for all who passed that way,
whether planters or negroes; and under ordinary circum-
stances, the gathering of a party there, especially on a holiday,
would have been too common a thing to attract any attention
at all.

But the choice of so unusual a time as midnight would of
itself have seemed suspicious to the shrewd Hardy, who
knew well what early hours the West Indian negro is wont
to keep ; and more decisive still was the mention of ‘Captain
John’s three signs,’ which must of course be the mysterious
signals taught by John Storm to Suarez, and repeated by the
two boys to the negro mob with such marvellous effect.
What if this were a final meeting of the conspirators, imme-
diately prefacing the fatal outbreak itself !

Down, down, down went Hardy, so deep in thought that he
scarcely felt the vicious tugs of the thorn-scrub at his clothes
and skin as he forced his way through it; but at length, just
as he issued from the jungle on to the open plain beyond, his
face hardened suddenly into a look of stern resolution, which
would have told to any one who knew him that he had made
up his mind to some formidable task, and was determined to
carry it out to the bitter end.














CHAPTER XXX.

NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.

SE LE\IEAN WHILE Hardy’s companions at the hotel,
‘ é | finding that he did not appear at lunch-time,

as were forced to sit down without him; and as
the meal ended without a sign of him, they
gathered on the veranda to watch for his
return, somewhat surprised, though not at all anxious as yet,
at his long absence—for he had been missing ever since
breakfast.

‘It can’t be sport that’s keeping him, at all events,’
laughed Captain Marshall, ‘for he won’t find any of his pet
lions or tigers in these jungles. In fact, there’s really noth-
ing to fire at but the John-Crow vultures; and as there’s a
fine of five pounds for killing one, I doubt if he’d think it
worth the expense.’

‘Well, I only hope he may not have fallen in with some-
thing worse than that,’ said Major Dare gravely, ‘for it
might be a very awkward joh if he were to meet with one of
those escaped convicts, of whom we heard so much a few
weeks ago. So far as I know, none of them have ever been
caught yet.’

The jolly planter broke into another laugh, as loud and
hearty as the last.

‘Why, Dare, my good fellow, you don’t really suppose that
when a negro convict gets loose here, the first thing he does






NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 257

is to look out for some white man to kill, and then hunt him
down as we used to stalk deer in the Highlands at home!
You may take my word for it, that if Hardy were to fall in
with one of these fellows in the bush, the convict would be
only too glad to run away as fast as he could the moment he
caught sight of him.’

‘The convict would very probably do so if he were alone,’
said the major, as seriously as ever; ‘but he might have
others to back him, you know.’

The broad grin which was lighting up the worthy captain’s
jolly face widened at this last suggestion from ear to ear.

‘What! have you got “negro insyrrection on the brain,”
too? Well, ‘pon my word, this is too funny, to think of a
couple of old hands like you and Hardy bothering your heads
about such a nursery-bogey as that. Why, as it happens,
though we planters are all away from our estates just now,
and it’s a general holiday with the niggers, this is the quietest
time that has been known for ten years and more throughout
the whole district.’

‘T remember that people said the very same thing in India,
just before the Sepoy Mutiny of ’57,’ retorted the major with
grim significance.

‘Well, well, we won’t dispute about it,’ said his friend, in
the tone of some skilled doctor giving up a vain effort to
argue a confirmed lunatic out of his pet delusion. ‘We must
just hope that such a “’orrible tradegy,” as the song says,
will never come to pass; for if ever it did, that old fellow who
is just going by on the other side of the street would certainly
be apt to find himself in a very ugly scrape.’

‘Who is he, then?’ asked Dare, following the glance of his
friend’s eye towards a tall, portly, gray-haired, and rather
haughty-looking man who came sauntering past at that
moment. ‘Judging from his looks, I should not take him to
be the sort of man who would be very popular with his
servants, whether white or black.’

‘Nor is he—his looks tell the truth for once,’ replied the
258 NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.

captain, casting a glance of marked disfavour at the stern,
swarthy, forbidding features which the passing lounger’s broad-
leaved Panama hat kindly did its best to hide. ‘He is a
Spanish planter of Chuguanas, whose name you must have
heard pretty often—Don Ruiz del Pulgar.’

‘What!’ cried Dare, looking after the lounging figure with
an air of sudden interest ; ‘is he the man whose overseer was
all but murdered by that black fellow who escaped last month
from the chain-gang ?’

‘The very same; and if you had said that he, instead of
our friend Hardy, would run a risk of coming to grief if he
were to go about the woods by himself, you’d have beena
good deal nearer the mark, for I know of one man, at least,
in this island—and he a white man, too—who would like
nothing better than to serve this old chap himself as that
nigger served his precious overseer.’

‘And who is that man, then?’ asked the major with sudden
eagerness.

‘Who but your late Spanish fellow-passenger, the worthy
Mr José Suarez. He owes the old Don a heavy debt of
vengeance ; and that, as a rule, is the only kind of debt that a
Spaniard does not leave unpaid.’

‘And what, pray, has Sefior del Pulgar done to bring upon
himself such a vendettu ?’ asked Mr Cramwell, taking part in
the talk for the first time.

‘And what on earth can a ragamuffin like José Suarez
have to do with him?’ cried Major Dare at the game moment.

‘Well, you won’t need to ask that when I’ve told you the
story. Help yourselves, and pass the lemonade, and Ill
spin you the whole yarn, from beginning to end.

‘It’s just about five years now since I started that plan-
tation of mine at Palm Grove ; and not long after I had got
it fairly into working order, I had occasion to go over to
Chuguanas, to see old Don Ruiz on business. So, as I was
to be there, I thought I’d just kill two birds with one stone
by speaking to him, as I had been wishing to do, about this
NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 259

very fellow, José Suarez, who was then attached to Del
Pulgar’s household, no one ever knew exactly in what capacity.
I’ve always thought he must have been doing some private
smuggling for the old Don, for he was a bit of a sailor; but
that’s neither here nor there.

‘Now, I had more than once seen Suarez hanging about my
plantation, and talking to my blacks, and I didirt half like it ;
for I knew that he was just the sort of fellow to stir up discon-
tent and insubordination among the plantation hands, even if
he did not mean anything worse—which, knowing the rascal’s
character as I did, I thought more than likely. Anyhow, I
didn’t choose to have any more of that sort of thing, and I
had made up my mind to speak quite plainly to Don Ruiz,
and to tell him that I could not have a rogue like this Suarez
hovering about my place, and that if he did it again it would
be the worse for him.

“As usual, I had started on my ride soon after sunrise, and
it was still early when I got to the old Don’s place. But I
had hardly come in sight of the house when I heard a great
row, as if one man was shouting in anger and another man
screaming with pain, mixed up with the chattering and
halloing of the niggers. When I rode up, I saw, in the
middle of an open space behind the out-buildings, a man tied
to a post—a white man, too—getting such a flogging as I
never want to see again, with one of those horrid whips of
raw-hide twisted up with wire, which draw blood at every
stroke ; and as I came nearer, who should he be but the
very man of whom I was thinking just then—José Suarez
himself !

‘I was quite taken aback for a moment, both because I had
always thought Suarez rather a favourite with the old Don,
and because, under British laws, to flog even a black man like
that was a serious matter, to say nothing of a white one. But
I suppose Don Ruiz knew enough of his precious hanger-on to
be sure that the fellow was not likely to take the law of him,
for fear of getting a taste of it himself.
260 NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.

‘Just as I came up, Suarez fainted ; and the overseer—
who thought, no doubt, that there would be no fun in
torturing a man who could not feel—ordered him to be
taken down. In fact, as I found out later on, Mr Overseer
hated him like poison, suspecting, and probably not without
some cause, that Suarez wanted to step into his shoes, and be
overseer in his place; and so, when he did get the chance,
he gave it him hot. While the niggers dragged the Spaniard
away, I asked the overseer what it was all about; and he told
me that this precious Suarez had just been caught in the very
act of setting on a lot of the blacks to rob the house, and then
run across to the mainland with him in his boat, where, I
suppose, to crown all, he meant to sell the whole kit of ’em
as slaves !

‘Well, into the house I went, and found the old Don in a
towering rage at what he was pleased to call “the base
ingratitude” of his servants, though it really seemed to me
that the way in which he treated them was not very likely
to make them feel specially grateful to him after all. At
first he could not think or talk of anything else, and so the
matter that I’d come upon had to wait; but, after a while,
he began to cool down a bit, and then we settled to our
business. Then came lunch, and after lunch we got all
that we had settled jotted down in black and white, and
sent for the overseer to come and witness our signatures
to it.

‘The moment the man came in, I saw something in his
face the like of which I had never seen before; and even
now I can’t tell you a bit what it was like, only that it made
me feel queer all over. He looked flushed, too, and his step
was unsteady—but not from drink, as one might. have
thought ; and the feeling that it was something more than
that sent a kind of horror through me, though I hardly
knew why.

‘But Don Ruiz just took it for granted that the fellow
had been drinking, and roared out to him, in his usual way :
NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 261

‘« What do you mean by this, you rascal? Can’t you even
keep sober till your day’s work is done?”

‘But the man never seemed to heed him, or even to hear
what he said. He stood staring at us both for a minute, in
a blank, unseeing kind of way; and then, without groan or
struggle, he fell forward on his face like a log, a dead
man !

‘Well, then, we were both finely startled, as you may
think ; for our first idea was that he had been stabbed by
one of the blacks, which was not at all unlikely, after the
way in which he had treated some of them. But no wound
could we find on him, and it was plain that he had not died
of a sunstroke ; and this mystery only made the horror of it
all the greater.

‘Don Ruiz ran to the door like a man out of his mind, and
shouted out orders to muster all the men at once; and
mustered they were in a trice.

‘Ts any one missing?” asked the old man, looking as grim
as a bulldog.

‘None of the negroes made any reply, though I saw two
or three of ’em look as if they could say something if they
dared ; but just at that moment the second overseer, who
was a Frenchman, sang out:

‘“ Vere be zat feller, Obeah-Jack? Me not see him
here.”

‘At the very mention of that name, I began to feel
queerer than ever; for I had not lived so long among
West Indian negroes without knowing all that was implied in
the one word “ Obeah” or “ Obi,” though perhaps you do not.’

‘Has it not something to do with witchcraft?’ asked the
major, who had hung upon every word of this weird tale with
the closest attention.

' «Tt has everything to do with it!’ replied his friend
emphatically ; ‘and in fact, if you want to say that any
negro -is a rogue, a liar, a murderer, a scoundrel of the
deepest dye—in short, a doer of all possible things that he
262 NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE,

ought not to do—you have only to call him an Obeah-man,
and you’ve said it all in one word.

‘But, as you may suppose, the superstitious blacks stand
in mortal awe of these humbugs, whom they credit with
being able to bewitch to death any one that offends them ;
and so, when Don Ruiz asked when and where Obeah-
Jack had been last scen, the niggers huddled together like
frightened sheep, and not one of them said a word.

‘But all at once there stepped forward a young Spanish
mulatto, and said, boldly enough :

‘“Me see Obeah Jack just here, lilly bit ago. Mas’r
Oberseer him drop he whip, Jack him pick up whip, gib it
him; den Jack go ’way—no see him since.”

‘The minute I heard that, I seemed to know the whole
story at once, without a word more. I sprang to the dead
overseer’s body, which had been laid on a bench close by,
and found, just as I expected, a tiny blue spot on the right
wrist, just as if he had been stung by a scorpion or a
centipede ; and then I knew all there was to know.’

‘What on earth was this spot, then?’ asked Mr Cramwell,
looking puzzled.

‘Poison!’ said the captain, in a tone of deep disgust.
‘It’s a pet trick of these precious Obeah-men to sharpen
one fingernail to a point, and steep it in some mortal
poison of their own invention, so that one prick of it is
certain death; but somehow or other, they never seem
to hurt themselves with it. I suppose they must have some
antidote.

‘Well, the Don looked more flustered than ever at this
discovery, and no wonder ; for it was really enough to shake
any man’s nerve to see a fellow murdered so horribly before
his very face, and to know that it might just as well have
happened to himself.

‘In the midst of this new excitement, José Suarez seemed
to have been clean forgotten; but all at once Don Ruiz
called to mind that Suarez and Obeah-Jack had seemed
NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 263

to be pretty thick together for some time past, and he sent
two or three of the men in hot haste to bring the Spaniard
to him at once, thinking, I suppose, that he was the
likeliest man to be able to tell where Master Jack had
got to.

‘Off went the messengers helter-skelter, and back they
came in a trice with their eyes starting out of their heads, to
report that Suarez was gone too, and that no one could tell
what had become of him !

‘Then, for a moment, I felt almost inclined to believe in
this witchcraft business myself; for I knew well enough
that after such a flogging as I had seen this fellow get, no
ordinary man would have been able even to walk without
help for a whole day at the least—and, to all appearance,
there was no one who could have helped him. But, the
next minute, I recollected all that I had heard of the
wonderful cures performed by these Obeah chaps upon sick
and wounded negroes, even when the English doctors could
do nothing for them; and I made up my mind at once that
Mr Jack must have had a hand in this job too.

““ Let loose the blood-hound !” shouted Del Pulgar ! “we ‘ll
try if their magic can help them against him!”

‘Now, this too was flat against the law ; for, though there
was nothing to prevent a man from keeping a blood-hound if
he chose, it was strictly forbidden to use him to hunt down
runaways, black or white. But by this time the old boy had
worked himself into such a fever of excitement, what with
rage and what with sheer fright, that he did not seem to care
a straw what he did.

‘His shout set the niggers jumping about like monkeys
—for I can tell you that the old Don was not a man to be
joked with, when once he had fairly got his blood up—and
in a jiffy all was ready for this man-hunt of ours—horses,
guides, arms, and, last but certainly not least, the blood-
hound. A splendid beast he was, quite big enough for a

boy to ride on, and with a set of teeth that made the
R
264 NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.

calves of my legs feel ticklish every time he came within
a yard of me; and he was the regular old Cuban breed,
too, of which there are very few left now *—pale fawn-
colour all over the body, and his paws and muzzle as black
as a boot.

‘I was none too fond of Suarez, as you may fancy; but I
could not stand the idea of any man having such a brute as
that let loose upon him; and I made up my mind that if we
did catch him up, I would not allow anything of that sort, let
the old Don rage as he might.

‘But I might have saved myself all anxiety on that
score, as it turned out; for our hunt was fated to be a
very short affair, and to end in a way that no one could have
expected. We had not gone more than two miles, when all
at once the dog came to a dead stop, and, throwing up its
head, gave that long, dismal cry which people call the death-
howl !

‘Forward we all went, one faster than the other; and
there, in the thick of the bushes, lay Obeah-Jack, stone-dead,
with a terrible wound in him, which was plainly the work of
a Spanish knife. And so, as it seemed, this nice fellow
Suarez must have killed the very man who had helped
and saved him, just to preserve his own worthless carcass ;
for, as I daresay you know, these dogs are of no more use
when once they have come upon blood.

‘If this was the villain’s object, he certainly gained it;
for the dog stopped short at Jack’s body, and so Mr Suarez
got clear off. Since that time he has never been seen or
heard of here, till he turned up again the other day along
with you. But now that he has come back, he’s pretty
sure to get square with our friend the Don somehow or
other ; and I can tell you that though I hope Iam not more
of a coward than other people, yet I would not be in Del
Pulgar’s shoes just now, for all the money that he is
worth.’

* The breed is now extinct—a thing not at all to be regretted.—D. K.
NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 265

The gloomy silence that followed the end of this grim story
was suddenly broken by a clear, girlish voice at the captain’s
elbow, saying eagerly :

‘Oh, Captain Marshall, what a delightful story! Why
don’t you tell it to Mr Hardy, and get him to make a book
of it?’

‘Why, Flo, is that you?’ cried the captain, in a tone of
rebuke. ‘What business have you to be listening to tales of
poison and murder?’

‘Oh, I like them!’ said Flo, in a voice of fervent en-
thusiasm.

‘IT should think she did!’ broke in the major, with a grim
chuckle. ‘If Hardy were here, hé would be able to tell you
something about a dear little girl who once crept up on to his
lap, and laid her soft cheek caressingly against his, and said
to him, in a voice as sweet as the chime of a silver bell:
“ Now, Mr Hardy, do tell me a nice story about a murder
that you saw your own self!”’

Flo’s indignant protest was fairly drowned by a tremendous
roar of laughter from the two boys, in which even her father
could not help joining. But the next moment Tom Wickham,
happening to look over the balustrades of the veranda into
the street below, called out excitedly :

‘I say, here is Mr Hardy coming at last; but what on
earth can he have been at to make himself in such’a mess?’

‘He must have been having a tramp through the bush, by
the look of him,’ said Alwyn Dare, with a grin. ‘Well, he
is in a nice pickle, and no mistake !’

He certainly was; but the curiosity of his friends as to his
plight and its possible cause was fated to remain unsatisfied,
for, instead of coming to join their circle ‘as usual, the author
went straight to his own room, and did not emerge from is
again for more than an hour,




CHAPTER XXXII.
MET AT MIDNIGHT.

SS 4\T was the night before Easter Eve. The sun
yj had set over Port-of-Spain, and the deep,
}/ dreamy stillness of a tropical night was
j/ settling down upon the city and its environs
after the uproarious jollity of the day.

In the negro villages near the town there had been, as
usual on a holiday, plenty of noise and bustle and boisterous
merry-making ; but the day had ended with wonderfully little
of that brawling and fighting with which such revels were
only too apt to close among the excitable blacks. The police
reported all quiet; and the local bigwigs, whom Hardy had
warned, chuckled at his ‘groundless fears’ more than ever.

All that day, as might have been expected, the ‘ Half-
way House’ had been doing a ‘roaring trade’ in every sense
of the word. From early morning to nightfall, customers of
all ages and colours—whites, blacks, mulattoes, Chinamen,
and Hindoos—had come shouting into the house for refresh-
ments of every kind, in unbroken succession, till this constant
demand had all but exhausted the host’s supplies, ample as
they were.

After such a busy day, one might have thought that the
landlord would be glad to shut up his house as soon as he
could, and then go to bed at once; but he had done neither
the one nor the other. Just at sunset, indeed, there had




MET AT MIDNIGHT. 267

been a great show of locking doors and barring shutters ;
but, so late as nine o’clock, a small door opening into a
yard at the back of the house was still unbolted, and the
mulatto host was still talking in the kitchen to five or six
customers—all negroes—who seemed to be quite at home
there, and in no particular hurry to leave.

Late as it was, some other guest, as it appeared, was still
to come, for ever and anon one or other of the speakers
glanced expectantly toward the door. More impatient than
all was a short black man in the dress of a merchant-sea-
man, to whom the host seemed specially attentive. This
man’s rough sea-cap was pulled down over his eyes, and his
lower face was almost hidden by the folds of a huge ban-
dana handkerchief, which was twisted round his neck in
sailor-fashion ; but had the features thus concealed been fully
seen by any one who knew them, they would have been
recognised at once as those of the negro convict, John Storm !

‘Him no be in much hurry for come,’ muttered one of the
group impatiently.

‘Him no be long now, me ’spec,’ said a second man.

‘And after he come, by and by come someting else!’
added a third with a savage grin, as he clapped the convict
on the shoulder. ‘Berry fine night now, but soon come
Storm—eh, John?’

The man on whose name this grim jest was made, shook
his head warningly; and at the same moment the host
struck in, in a queer jumble of broken Spanish and bad
English :

‘Dere, dere—no use say name here, you know. Man come,
eat supper—why me care what he name am, so long
him pay all right! P’lice come, say to me, “ Hi, you feller!
hab you see in your house to-day man name ob So-and-So ?”
Me say, “How me can tell? me see plenty man in my house
to-day, but dey no hab name writ up in deir hat; how me
know what call °um? No use for ask me—me know noting
at all !??
268 MET AT MIDNIGHT.

Just as the old rogue ended his diplomatic speech, a sound
was heard outside, as if some one had drawn the point of a
stick sharply across the back door.

‘Dat am him at last, for sure!’ said two or three of the
blacks at once.

The door opened, and in came a man who, as he entered,
exchanged a private signal with John Storm and the host.
The new-comer had the complexion of a mulatto, and the
dress of a field-labourer ; but the voice with which he greeted
the company was that of José Suarez!

The Spaniard’s entrance seemed to be the signal for a
general move.

‘Now, gemplemen, time for go sleep,’ said the host; and,
as his guests filed out, he made fast the door behind them,
and then, having carefully raked out the fire, vanished up a
kind of step-ladder in the far corner of the kitchen.

But the departing guests, so far from quitting the premises
at once, as might have been expected, merely went across the
yard to a low, shed-like building of rough planks, which
extended along one whole side of it. This had once been
used as a storehouse, but now served as a kind of public
drawing-room for the negroes of the district, who often
made use of it for amateur concerts, native dances, and
other diversions of the kind, though never at so late an
hour as this.

The door of the shed not being fastened, in they all went ;
and José Suarez—to whom the place seemed quite familiar,
in spite of the darkness—rummaged out from a corner a
huge, clumsy, old-fashioned stable lantern, which he lighted,
and hung upon an iron hook that projected from one of the
rough-hewn cross-beams of the low roof.

The interior thus revealed was as bare as that of the lock-
up in which Tom and Alwyn had spent the memorable
night of their trip to Maraccas. Around three sides of it
ran a low bench, or rather shelf of wood, which might be
capable of seating, at need, from fifty to sixty people. But
MET AT MIDNIGHT. 269

this was literally all the furniture—if such it could be called
—that the room possessed ; for the casks, boxes, and baskets
that had once filled up all the corners had now been all
removed, and there was not a single spot in the whole
room where a cat could have lurked unseen, to say nothing
of a man.

Suarez’s keen eyes seemed to take in all this at a glance,
and his nod of approval showed that he found it just as it
should be.

The Spaniard’s next care was to examine the doorway, the
construction of which was somewhat peculiar. Two high
slabs of thin planking, very much like the partitions between
the boxes of an old-fashioned London coffee-house, stood
facing each other on opposite sides of the doorway so as to
form a kind of narrow porch inside instead of outside; and
in the nearest corner stood two strong wooden bars, which,
when passed through the square holes cut for them in both
partitions, would stand one behind the other right across
the entrance, forming a double barrier not to be easily
passed.

Any stranger might well have been puzzled by this singular
plan of barricading the doorway instead of the door, and
would probably have wondered, too, for what possible reason
the bars were set exactly level with each other, instead of
being one above and the other below. But to Suarez this
mystery was plainly no puzzle at all, and he marked his
approval of the arrangement with a second emphatic nod.

With a dexterity that argued some practice in the
manceuvre, he shot both bars into their places, and, having
satisfied himself that they ran easily in the sockets, took
down again the outer or hindmost bar, leaving the inner
one still across the entrance.

This done, the Spaniard sat down beside the door, on a
stool that he had brought with him from the inn-kitchen
without asking leave of any one, and, leaning his back
against the wall, lighted a long cigar, and gave himself up
270 MET AT MIDNIGHT.

to his favourite enjoyment. But though outwardly he was
the very picture of careless and indolent ease, inwardly he
was straining to the utmost as sharp a pair of ears as ever
grew on a rascal’s head, to ‘catch the first sound of a foot-
fall outside.

The negroes who had come with him seemed hardly to
notice what he was doing, for by this time they were all fully
absorbed in a rude native game somewhat like dominoes;
and thus they continued to play, and Suarez to smoke,
without a word being spoken by any one, till at length,
faint and far away, came from the distant town, through
the dead silence of the tropical night, the measured strokes
of eleven o’clock.

Hardly had the last stroke died away, when Suarez sud-
denly lifted his head like a wild beast scenting prey. His
quick ear had caught the approaching sound of a stealthy
foot-step !

The Spaniard rose to his feet, and took his post on one
side of the doorway, while one of his negro comrades, who
had at once left off their game, planted himself on the other.
Nearer and nearer came the advancing step, and then the
gate of the yard was heard to creak, and in a moment more
the shed-door opened, and in the gap appeared the tall form
of a sturdy negro.

The new-comer seemed to be known to Suarez, but the
latter made no motion to withdraw the bar.

‘From what plantation do you come?’ he asked, bending
forward.

‘Homestead—Mas’r Simpson,’ replied the black, who
seemed quite to understand all this caution.

‘Do you know No. 1?’ asked the Spaniard, sinking his
voice.

The black man replied by making the first of the three
mystic signs.

‘Do you know No. 2?’ went on the questioner in the
same tone.
MET AT MIDNIGHT. 271

The second sign followed, and then, at the demand for
‘No. 3,’ the third.

‘Pass!’ cried the Spaniard; and at the same moment his
black assistant drew back the bar, and the negro guest entered
the room, and took his seat on the bench.

A moment later, a second face showed itself in the
doorway ; but this time the new-comer was a mulatto. He
appeared to be a stranger to Suarez, who certainly showed
caution enough in his reception of this visitor; for, just as
the latter came up to the bar that blocked the entrance, the
Spaniard, quick as thought, thrust in the other bar behind
his back, and thus held him prisoned between the two, with
no room either to fight or to fly.

‘From what plantation do you come?’ asked he, as
before.

‘Lajos de Chuguanas
man promptly.

At the sound of that hated name, the fierce Spaniard’s
eyes glittered like those of a snake when just about to strike ;
but his voice was unchanged as he put the usual questions,
and was answered with the usual signs.

‘Pass!’ cried he at length; and the second man was
admitted, and took his seat not far from the first.

Little by little the room filled, the members of this strange
gathering often coming two and three together, though they
were only let in by one ata time. Many mulattoes were of
the number, though the negroes seemed to form the larger
part; and in that motley company were represented all. the
chief plantations between Port-of-Spain and San Fernando, as
well as those around Port-of-Spain itself.

From first to last, José Suarez showed the same marked
caution, never failing to pin between the two bars, while
examining him, any one who was not actually known to him
by sight, and not admitting any man till quite convinced that
the latter was really what he seemed.

It was now within about a quarter of an hour of midnight,



Don Ruiz del Pulgar,’ replied the
272 MET AT MIDNIGHT.

when there came a sudden pause in the flow of arrivals, and
for nearly ten minutes not a single new guest appeared.
Suarez concluded that no more men were to be expected,
and was just about to make fast the door, when all at once
a cautious step was heard outside, and, framed in the doorway
by. the inky blackness of the moonless night, appeared the
yellow face and glittering eyes of a small, spare mulatto.

One-glance told the watchful Spaniard that this man’s face
was quite unknown. to him; and in a moment the two bars
held him fast between them.

‘From what plantation are you?’ asked Suarez, looking
keenly at the man.

‘Palm Grove—Cap’n Mars’all,’ replied the harsh, tuneless
voice of the half-breed, who seemed to be not at all put out
by this strange. reception.

‘Oho!’ cried the Spaniard, with a second glance more
piercing still ; ‘we did not expect any one from there! What
work are you doing for him ?’

‘Stable,’ said the other with a hesitation so slight as to be
hardly apparent.

‘True—I have heard that he has just taken on three or
four new hands there,’ muttered Suarez. ‘Your master has
just come back there from the town, eh?’

‘No,’ said the man; ‘we hear he no come till after
Sunday.’

This last reply—differing as it did from the answer which
his question had seemed to invite, and agreeing with what
he. knew to be the fact—did more to allay the Spaniard’s
suspicions than anything that had been. said yet; but it was
not till he had demanded and received all the three appointed
signs, and obtained satisfactory answers to one or two other
questions, that he at. last undrew the bar.

‘Captain Marshall is a favourite with most of his servants,’
said he as he did so. ‘What grudge have you got against
him?’

‘Long time owe him much—pay him soon now!’ replied
MET AT MIDNIGHT. 273

the other with a venomous emphasis that made his whisper
sound like the hiss of an angry snake.

‘Well, that’s your own affair,’ said Suarez with a ghastly
smile. ‘Pass!’

And he let the half-breed pass in, little dreaming that
he had just admitted among his most secret and trusted
accomplices the one man on earth whom he had the most
cause to hate and to dread ; for this seeming mulatto was no
other than Seymour Hardy !

The daring traveller, convinced of the existence of a wide-
spread and murderous plot against his countrymen, had
decided, after his failure to rouse the local authorities to a
sense of the danger, that so desperate a disease required as
desperate a remedy ; and he had instantly made up his mind
to be present—no matter at what risk to himself—at the
midnight meeting of which chance had informed him, feeling
sure that this secret council was to be a final one, and that
the explosion of the impending outbreak would follow it at
once. His wild life had made him a master in the art of
disguising both his appearance and his voice; and, as we
have seen, he had succeeded so well as to baffle the vigilance
of the hawk-eyed Suarez himself, in whose company he had
been for many days together.

Here he was at last, then, fairly in the secret conclave ;
but how he was to get out again was quite another matter.

And now the stroke of midnight came faintly to them on
the night wind from the distant church-tower ; and instantly
the door..was made fast, and Hardy, as he sat in the far
corner of the room, with a burly negro on each side of hin,
felt his heart beat quicker, brave as he was.

And well it might ; for now he saw that every man of this
grim council had a weapon of some kind, a few carrying
clubs, but the greater part being armed with those terrible
‘cane-knives,’ half cleaver and half sickle, which are used
for chopping the sugar-canes—one of the deadliest weapons
274 ; MET AT MIDNIGHT.

on éarth in the strong and practised hand of a West Indian
negro. He saw, too, that his savage companions had brought
with them not only a supply of food—upon which most of
them were now feasting greedily—but also a plentiful store
of that fiery liquor which would make them ripe for any
atrocity ; and, without regretting in the least what he had
done, he was none the less forced to own to himself that
never yet, in all his life of adventure and peril, had he faced
a deadlier danger than this.

By this time all was ready, and the business of the night
began; but it took a very different form from that which
Hardy expected. In place of the noisy menaces and childish
bluster for which he looked, the delegates came quietly up
to Suarez one by one, as he called them, and made their
report of the state and temper of the plantations to which
they belonged, the number of men upon whom they could
rely to stand by them in whatever they might do, and the
way in which the violence that they meditated might be
most promptly and easily accomplished.

In all these reports one of the negroes who sat beside
Hardy seemed to take a deep interest, and at length, in his
eagerness not to lose a word of what was said, rose from his
place, and went forward toward the centre of the room. As
he did so, the light fell full on his face, and Hardy was
somewhat startled to find that he had been sitting shoulder
to shoulder, for the last half hour, with John Storm the
outlaw !

All this quietness and deliberation seemed to the shrewd
Englishman the worst sign of all; for he had seen enough of
negroes’ ways to know that their revenge was far more to
be dreaded when hardened into this quiet and business-like
firmness than when frothing itself away in blustering threats
and frantic bursts of excitement. But he soon had some-
thing else to think of; for, as the crowd thinned between
him and Suarez, he saw with secret dismay that he would
ere long be called up in his turn, to be closely questioned on
MET AT MIDNIGHT. 275

points of which he knew nothing, and perhaps—in spite of
what the Spaniard had said—to be confronted with a real
delegate from Palm Grove, who would unmask him in a
moment, before the eyes of all these fierce and lawless men,
as an impostor and a spy.

In this fearful strait, Hardy’s ready wit struck out a plan
such as few other men would have thought of trying at
all. Hidden behind the backs of his neighbours, who had
all risen to their feet, he suddenly set up a shrill yell of
‘Jumby!’* (demon), and hurled, with all his might, an
empty bottle—of which there were only too many lying
about—right at the lantern that hung from the roof. It
went out with a terrific crash, and in a moment the whole
room was in utter darkness.

Never was any meeting more speedily and effectually
dissolved. The startling cry, and the sudden gloom, of
the real cause of which not one of them had the least
idea, worked upon the superstitious savages as nothing else
could have done; and instantly all was panic and confusion.
Uttering cries of terror which even the fear of detection could
not restrain, they fought and jostled their way to the door,
and, flinging it open, rushed out pell-mell. Hardy mingled
with the crowd, and, the moment he found himself outside,
he stole away into the bushes at the back of the house,
and lay hid there till the last of the fugitives had vanished.

But for him, at least, the adventures of this strange night
were not over even now.

He knew better than to go straight back, in the guise of a
mulatto labourer, to a hotel where, for all he could tell, half
the negro servants might be secretly in league with the very
ruffians from whom he had just escaped ; and therefore he
had prudently left in a secure hiding-place a bag containing
his own clothes, and the materials needed to rid him of his
assumed complexion. But, in the utter blackness of that

*The popular negro name for an evil spirit—probably a corruption
of ‘ Mumbo-Jumbo.’
276 MET AT MIDNIGHT.

-moonless and: starless night, even he failed to ‘hit the exact
spot; nor did he succeed in finding it till daylight came.

- Even when it was found, the task of restoring himself to
his usual aspect was a work of time, and, stiff and weary as
he was, it took him much longer than usual to cover the
distance which still lay between him and the town; so that,
when he did .at length get back to the hotel, it was only to
find that his whole party, including even Flo Cramwell and
the'two boys, had set off across the bay in a pleasure-boat,
just half an hour before, on a picnic expedition to the Point
beyond the Pitch Lake, which, as matters stood just then,
was about as safe a proceeding as to stand right in front of a
loaded cannon just as it went off,


























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































CHAPTER XXXII

A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE.

ess news was only too true. During Hardy’s
=| absence on the previous evening, a jovial young
planter of the district, Albert Purcell by name,
who was staying at the same hotel, had pro-
posed the picnic to Captain Marshall and his
Set and offered to lend them his own boat for the purpose,
adding that he would gladly have gone with them himself,
but for a business engagement that called him away to a
plantation a few miles out of the town; but he hoped to join
them later on in another boat, and then they could all come
home together in the evening.

In assenting to this arrangement, the captain and his
friends took it for granted that Hardy would be back in time
to go with them. But morning came without any sign of
his return; and though no one thought’ of being anxious
about him—for his movements had been so irregular of late, .
that his being out all night was nothing strange—yet his
absence placed them in a somewhat awkward dilemma ; for, on
the one hand, they did not wish to leave him behind,’ and,
on the other, if they were to wait for him, they might lose
the best part of a very fine day.

‘Well, I'll tell you what,’ cried the captain, after some
thought, ‘we had better just run across to the Point at once,
and then send the boat back, as soon as we get there, to pick
up Hardy.’


278 A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE.

This plan was at once adopted. Seven o’clock was just
striking as they put off ; and Hardy, when he came in barely
half-an-hour later, was met by the news that the very people
to warn whom he had hurried back had already thrust them-
selves, one and all, into the jaws of destruction.

Our hero’s first idea was to hire a boat, and follow them
at once; for his burning impatience could not bear the
thought of the delay of several hours which he must endure
if he waited till the picnic-boat came back for him. But he
felt at once that his strength could not prove equal to this
new strain, if he did not sustain it with some food and a
short rest; for, active and vigorous as he was, the unparal-
leled exertions of the last thirty-six hours—during which
he had had but little food, and no sleep at all—had all but
worn him out.

Yielding unwillingly to what he saw to be an absolute
necessity, he told the black waiter to bring up some break-
fast to his room, whither he went at once to prepare for an
immediate start.

But Seymour Hardy, like all men who defy the laws of
nature, was fated to find nature too strong for him in the
end. Hardly had he swallowed the last mouthful when he
was seized by a sudden and overwhelming drowsiness, which
even he could not resist; and, sinking back in his rocking-
chair, he was fast asleep in a moment, nor did he wake again
till roused by the waiter with the news that the boat had
come back and was waiting to carry him to his friends at the
Point.

In the meantime, the picnic party had got safe across the
bay, though somewhat more slowly than usual, the wind
being contrary, and landed at length on a tiny strip of pebble-
beach just beyond the Point, which was, indeed, the only
convenient landing-place to be found on that densely-wooded
shore.

Here Mr Cramwell ‘and the two lads went for a swim,
A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE, 279

while the rest sat chatting under the trees till they came
back again; and then the boat was sent off to fetch Hardy,
and Captain Marshall, promising to show them ‘a first-rate
place for a picnic,’ led the way up through the thickets, carry-
ing one of the light lunch-baskets himself, while Major Dare
took charge of the other.

The captain’s ‘first-rate spot’ proved to be,a small clearing
in the very thick of the jungle, so utterly bare as to present a
startling and almost ghastly contrast to the riotous luxuriance
of vegetation around it. But Marshall explained this by
telling them that this place had actually been picked out as
the best site for a country-house by a very rich and eccen-
tric old planter, who preferred solitude to society, and led
quite a hermit-life in his later years. The foundation had
been already laid, when the work was stopped short by his
death ; and his nephew and heir having quite given up the
idea, the deserted spot had borne ever since the not inapt
name of ‘ Planter’s Folly.’

By the time they had reached it, a party of people who
had breakfasted at six in the morning, and had been in the
open air ever since, might fairly think it lunch-time ; and to
work they went with a will. -

‘There’s a place somewhere hereabouts,’ said the captain
as the meal began, ‘which ought to interest you two young
men, if we could only find it; but that’s easier said than
done in a country where the jungle grows so fast that, as the
niggers say, you may turn your horse out to graze in a clear-
ing overnight, and next morning you'll just be able to see
the tips of his ears above the wild grass. But, at all events,
wherever the spot may be, it is said there was some treasure
hidden in it.’

‘What! real buried treasure?’ cried Flo Cramwell ex-
citedly ; for, like most children, she found such a subject
abundantly interesting.

‘Buried by the buccaneers?’ asked Tom Wickham at the
same moment with equal eagerness; for he had not read

8
280 A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE.

The Gold Beetle and Leonard Lindsay for nothing, and his
head had been full of Captain Kidd, buccaneer hoards, and
buried plunder ever since he first set foot in the West Indies.

‘Well,’ said the captain with a sly smile, ‘that is just
what no one has been able to find out; but Ill tell you all
that is known about the matter, if you care to hear it, and
then you can-pass it on to Mr Hardy to make a Christmas
book of—and it would not make a bad one.

‘I had heard many tales of treasure hidden somewhere
about here, but always took it to be only a yarn, till at last,
as I was coming back through this jungle one night, after a
day’s shooting, I suddenly heard voices and the sound of
heavy strokes, and saw a pale light among the bushes. So I
crept up cautiously, not knowing what it might be, and there
I spied a group of men gathered round a hole, and slouched
hats and bearded faces coming and going in a ghostly glim-
mer of lantern-light, just as if some of the old pirates had
risen from the dead to dig up their buried spoil.

‘There seemed to be two white men and four niggers—two
of the blacks holding lanterns, and the other two digging away
for the bare life. But just as I came up, there was a great
halloing and gesticulating, and a burst of very strong lan-
guage in Spanish, by which I knew my neighbour Don Ruiz
del Pulgar, about whom I was telling you the other day.

‘Then I thought I might step forward ; and I found that
the old Don and his men had been looking for treasure, and
had found none. But the queerest part of the story was,
that there really had been some treasure there, and that it
was gone!’

‘There had been?’ echoed all his hearers with one voice.

‘Ay, that there had, as I could see for myself; for not
only had they found an iron ring from the top of a chest, but
there, in the stiff clay, was the impress of the chest itself,
just where it had lain, and there was even a broken bit of
carved ironwork from it, of the old 17th-century sort; so it
may have been a buccaneer job, after all.’
A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE. 281

‘What a sell for em!’ chuckled the major; ‘as bad-as
that precious Governor of Mauritius, who, when recalled on
a charge of making away with public money, said he came
home on account of a disorder in his chest !’

‘And you say the place is near here?’ cried Alwyn eagerly.
‘Is there any chance of finding it?there might be more
treasure left!’

‘Well,’ laughed Marshall, ‘the old Don and his men, to
make quite sure, trenched up the earth for yards around ;
and they got nothing worth twopence. As to finding the
spot, there was only one man on Del Pulgar’s whole estate
who knew just where the place was supposed to be, and he
wouldn’t have gone, for these fellows are always superstitious
about such spots, only Don Ruiz threatened to put him to the
torture *—some say he actually did it, but I won’t be positive
about that—and so persuaded him to act as guide.’

‘And when did all this happen?’ asked the major, who
was listening attentively.

‘Toward the end of last autumn,’ replied his host.

‘Well, then, Cramwell,’ cried Dare, ‘this may be vol. i. of
the same story of which your adventures on the St Philip
were vol. ii. Your Spanish captain did sail from here about
the end of last autumn; and you told me yourself that he
was stabbed while trying to drag up a heavy box on to the
poop. ‘Ten to one he was the finder of the treasure, and that
box contained the mysterious iron chest.’

The idea was a startling one, and they were all so much
taken up with it that it was some time ere Marshall thought
of looking at his watch. A

‘Hallo!’ cried he, ‘a quarter past two! Why, what can
have become of Purcell? He ought to have been here long
ago. I suppose his business has taken longer than he ex-
pected, and he’s had to give up the trip.’

The rest assented; for not one of them was in the least

* Such a thing is, unhappily, not impossible even under British rule. I
have known one such case myself.—D, K.
282 A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE.

likely to guess what was the real cause of poor Purcell’s
delay.

‘And Mr Hardy has never come either!’ cried Flo in an
injured tone. .

‘Oh, as to Hardy,’ chuckled the captain, ‘he must have
come upon some new plot for shipping us all off to Africa as
slaves, or digging up the whole island of Trinidad, and sell-
ing it for ballast to the Yankee navy. We shall have him
here, soon, never fear, brimful of his last discovery.’

But afternoon waned into evening, and the setting sun
sank nearer and nearer to the bristling tree-tops, and still
there was no sign of the absent man.

‘This is too bad !’ laughed Marshall; ‘he must have taken
our boat and gone out fishing, or set off suddenly on a trip to
Cape Horn, thinking, I suppose, that, when we want to go
home, we may as well swim back. ’Pon my word, we ought
to bring an action against him for loss of time !’

But, just at that moment, the very man of whom he was
speaking broke from the bushes into the midst of them, with
a look on his face which froze the jesting words on the
captain’s lips, and made even the two reckless boys feel
vaguely uneasy.

‘Down to the boat, for your lives!’ cried he; ‘not a
moment to lose !’

There was in his words (and even more in the look and
tone with which they were spoken) something that made
even the incredulous captain instinctively obey. All sprang
at once to their feet, and hurried after Hardy, without a
word, till they reached the shore.

Then they all stopped short, and stared blankly at each
other. The boat was gone!

That they could have mistaken the spot was out of the
question, for, as has been said, this was the only place on
that part of the coast where a boat could be beached at all;
yet no boat was there. They called, they shouted, again and
again ; but there was no reply.
A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE. 283

‘I might have known it!’ said Hardy bitterly ; ‘those two
black rogues of Purcell’s are in the plot, and have taken away
our only means of escape !’

‘And, of course, gone to tell the rest of the cut-+throats
where to find us!’ growled the major. ‘Well, this is a nice
job!’

Captain Marshall, still striving to thrust away from him
the fearful conviction which grew stronger in his mind with
every moment, was about to reply, when a fierce red glare—
which could not possibly be taken for the paler glow of sun-
set—broke out behind the far-off tree-tops of Chuguanas.
An instant later, a second fire blazed up from the ridge to
the north of San Fernando; and then flamed forth a third,
brighter, fiercer, and evidently much nearer to them—while
through the ghostly silence came plainly to their ears the
crackle of firearms and the savage yells of the negroes
mingled with the ear-piercing Chinese scream of ‘Tah! tah !’
(fight, fight). ‘Sarr! sarr!’ (cut, cut).

Such sounds told their own story ; and the listeners, brave
as they were, felt their hearts die within them.

‘All my fault, Hardy,’ said the captain, laying his hand
on the traveller's shoulder. ‘If I had only listened to
you’ ;

‘Never mind that now,’ broke in Hardy; ‘we have no
time for talking. By water we can’t escape, and it would
be certain death to try it by land, so our only chance is to
hide in the thickets; and if we can lie hid for a few hours,
these wretches will drink themselves stupid in the mean-
time, and there may be a hope of escape for us after all.’

This plan, desperate as it was, did indeed seem to be
their only hope; and they were just about to adopt it,
when their ears caught the measured sound of an approach-
ing oar ! ;

Taking it for granted that they were on the point of being
attacked, they attempted to draw back into the shadow of the
trees ; but ere they could do so, a rude negro ‘ dug-out’ glided


284 A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE.

up to them, and a man, leaping from it, said emphatically, as
he pointed to the boat:

‘You get in dere, and row like mad to Port-ob-Spain—no
oder chance !’

And he vanished into the thickets ere any one had time to
speak ; but, few as were the words that he had uttered, Tom
and Alwyn recognised at once the voice of the negro outlaw,
John Storm !

‘It may be a dodge, then, to lure us out into the open,
and have us at his mercy,’ said Major Dare when the boys
announced this discovery.

‘But if he meant us harm,’ objected Hardy with some
show of reason, ‘he had only to leave us where we are.’

‘That’s true,’ said Marshall ; ‘but even if he means fairly,
I don’t think we should risk it. These rogues are sure to
have plenty of boats out to cut off the escape of the whites ;
and, with the moonlight and the firelight together, they ll
see plain enough that we are white men. We had much
better follow your plan of hiding under the bushes, only
we'll hide under them in our boat, instead of going ashore ;
and I can show you a place, not far from here, where the
boughs hang over the water, thick and close enough to hide
an elephant.’

Into the boat they all scrambled, as fast as they could. It
was no easy matter to pack so large a party into so small a
craft; but at last it was done, and, a few minutes later—
Dare and Hardy having taken the oars—they were safely
sheltered in their new hiding-place.

And a first-rate hiding-place it was. From the top of a
rocky bank ten or eleven feet high—which went sheer down
into the sea—a number of bushes and dwarf trees thrust
themselves out almost at right angles, drooping down to
the water their matted boughs, which were woven by masses
of intertwined briars and creepers into a screen which the
keenest eye could hardly have pierced even in broad day,
much less at night.
A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE. 285

But even here they were not left long undisturbed. Boat
after boat came gliding past, filled with riotous and _half-
drunken savages, red from the work of recent murder, whose
ferocious yells aud brutal boastings made the boldest of the
unseen listeners shiver with disgust; and more than one
of these night-prowlers passed so close that the wavelets
stirred up by their passage rocked the hidden boat where
she lay.

Nor was even this the worst; for, all at once, a burst of
hoarse shouts from the jungle which they had just left told
the forlorn group that the destroyers were on their track ;
and the crashing steps and distant cries came nearer, and
nearer, and nearer, till at length the clamour swept right up
the bank just overhead.

Even the iron-nerved major felt his heart fail as he heard
these human wolves trampling and yelling within a few
feet of them; but happily this agony was as brief as ib was
terrible, for the pursuers, seeing the glimmer of water below
them, and feeling sure that those whom they were hunting
had no boat, were at fault, and turned away to follow the
chase in a new direction.

All this time, a blaze that seemed to set the very sky on
fire told the refugees that the work of destruction was pro-
ceeding apace; and the firing of guns, the crash of falling
houses, yells of brutal triumph, and vain shrieks for mercy,
came to them on every breeze. Many a time and oft, as they
sat face to face with death through the long and weary hours
of that fearful night, did Captain Marshall bitterly recall
his own obstinate disregard of Hardy’s warnings, and heap
reproaches on himself as the sole cause of the hideous peril
that had ingulfed them all.

But, little by little, the infernal uproar died away—the
flames sank—the boats ceased to pass and re-pass—and when
Hardy at length ventured to peer out of their hiding-place,
all seemed quict, and the first pale gleam of dawn was steal-
ing softly into the eastern sky.


286 A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE.

‘We can try it now, I think,’ said Hardy; and he and
Dare, taking the oars as before, pushed off cautiously, and
headed across the bay toward the distant town.

But, even to men struggling for life, the heavy boat, the
clumsy oars, and the cramped space were terrible obstacles ;
and ere a fourth of the distance had been covered, the sun
had already risen on them through the billowy smoke that
rolled up along the whole shore ; and, worse still, a large sail-
boat, manned by a howling rabble of negroes, was suddenly
seen bearing right down upon them. Hardy at once turned
the boat’s head shoreward, hoping that, being a native ‘dug-
out,’ it might pass for a negro boat returning from the night-
cruise ; but this hope was suddenly blasted by a mocking cry
of ‘Mira los amigos /’* uttered by the too familiar voice of
a tall man at the stranger's bow, with a long gun in his hand.

It was indeed José Suarez, who, having wreaked his venge-
ance on Don Ruiz and many others, was escaping to the
mainland with his booty and a few of his ruffianly allies. He
knew well—though his wretched dupes did not—that this
hasty and unsupported outbreak must be crushed in a few
days at the latest; and, demon-like, he abandoned to their
doom the men whom he had led into crime as soon as that
crime was accomplished.

‘Good day, gentlemen!’ cried he mockingly ; ‘I am glad
we have met again, for I have much to thank you for!’

The report of his gun gave point to the cruel irony, and the
ball chipped a splinter of wood from the gunwale within an
inch of the major’s knee.

‘Lie down, all of you!’ shouted he and Hardy both at
once.

The next moment a second bullet struck Hardy’s oar and
glanced off into the water.

‘There ’s a vessel coming round the Point!’ gasped. Dare,
as he tugged at his heavy oar like a galley-slave, ‘and with
English colours, too! Let us hail her.’

* ‘See, here are my friends !’
A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE. 287

They all did so, with what little breath they had left ;
and, after an instant of fearful suspense, the stranger was
seen to alter her course suddenly, and to stand right for
them. -

But, close at hand as this unlooked-for aid was, it seemed
fatally certain that, after all, it would come too late ; for just
then Suarez fired once more, and a gush of blood over Hardy’s
wrist and hand told that the ball had not flown in vain.
Hardy himself, in the fever of that life-and-death struggle,
felt no pain whatever; but his fingers seemed suddenly to
lose their power, and the oar, slipping from his nerveless
grasp, fell into the water and drifted away.

The Spaniard hailed his successful shot with a laugh worthy
of a hyena, which was hoarsely echoed by the half-drunken
ruffians around him.

‘It’s all up with us now!’ growled Dare through his set
teeth ; ‘there’s nothing left to do but just to die like men!’

But at that very instant, just as all seemed over, the
savage yells of their black pursuers, and the fiendish laugh of
the villainous Spaniard, were alike drowned by a report sharp
and stunning as a thunder-clap, while the bow of the chasing
boat flew in pieces like broken glass beneath the stroke of a
cannon-ball from the approaching English vessel, and the
shattered hull, plunging downward like some wounded
monster, vanished with all her murderous crew into the
depths below.

Three or four black figures rose quickly to the surface again,
and swam for their lives toward the distant shore. But this
time their ruffianly leader was not fated to escape the doom
that he had so richly merited. Whether struck by the ball,
or dragged down by the sinking boat, José Suarez was never
seen again; and thus, by a just and terrible retribution, the
stroke of Heaven’s judgment fell upon this heartless villain
at the very moment when the last and worst of his countless
crimes was just on the point of being crowned with complete
success,
288 A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE.

A few minutes later, the whole party of fugitives found
themselves safe on board of Sir Frederick Goldhall’s yacht,
which—thanks to the new swivel-gun of which her owner
was so proud—had fully earned from them, for the second time,
her poetical name of the Refuge.






































































































































































































































CHAPTER XXXIIL

THE LIFELESS SEA.

ELL, we have no luck with our holidays,
that’s certain. What a Christmas we had!
and now what an Easter to match it !’

‘But for us, at least, it has been a day of
} resurrection ; for if ever men went down into
the grave and came back again, we did.’

So spoke Mr Cramwell and Seymour Hardy, as they paced
up and down the deck of the Refuge, which was lying at
anchor off Port-of-Spain.

It was the third day after that memorable Easter morning,
and in that time, brief as it was, many things had happened.

Sir Frederick’s timely shot had saved other lives beside
those of our heroes; for the sound of cannon from the sea
terrified the ignorant rioters with the belief that an English
cruiser had come up to attack them, and thus stopped them
short in the very height of their excesses. The effect thus
produced had been promptly seconded by the timely arrival
of a detachment of soldiers from St Vincent in obedience to
an urgent telegram from the Governor ; and by this time the
rising was practically at an end, and most of the chief movers
in it were already in prison.

Tom Wickham and Alwyn Dare were in high feather at
having actually attained the dignity of witnesses in what
Master ‘Tom was pleased to call ‘a real live court of law,’ or


290 THE LIFELESS SEA.

rather court-martial—for, throughout the whole of the dis-
turbed district, martial law had been proclaimed, and was
still in full force. The evidence of our two heroes and their
friends was justly held to be of the highest importance, and
Hardy, in particular, was lavishly complimented by the very
men who had thought him a fool for saying just the same
thing a few days before ; but the generous boys, while telling
truthfully all that they knew, did their best in favour of
John Storm, who was now known to have been the chief
léader in this strange plot.

‘It is very good of you to speak up for him like that,’ said
the presiding officer kindly ; ‘but before we can try him, we
have to catch him. He is not caught yet, and no one seems
to know what has become of him.’

And no one ever did know. It was afterwards learned
that one of the negro leaders had fallen by the hands of his
own men, in a gallant effort to restrain them from some
crowning atrocity ; and public opinion pointed to John Storm
as the only man among them who was likely to have done
so. But nothing certain could be ever ascertained, one way or
the other. From that day the negro outlaw was never seen
or heard of more.

‘Well, Cramwell,’ resumed the author, with a manifestly
forced attempt at gaiety—for it was plain that neither he nor
his companion had yet shaken off the chilling effect of that
fearful trial—‘I should think you’ll never want to get into
a boat again ; for all our adventures during this last twelve-
month have been somehow connected with boats, and every
one disastrous. First and foremost, there was the boat in
which we were nearly swamped in Shetland, on our way
back from that cave; and then the boat in which we were
blown out to sea from the Scilly Isles ’——-

‘And the boat in which we were all but starved after
leaving the S¢ Philip,’ added Mr Cramwell.

‘And the boat in which Tom and Alwyn were almost
gobbled up by that big snake,’ went on Hardy; ‘and,
THE LIFELESS SEA. 291

last but not least, the boat in which we were all within
a hairbreadth of being murdered by a pack of negro cut-
throats. We séem to have been in a chronic state of “ getting
into the wrong boat;” and so I am all the more glad that,
by way of a change, we have for once got into the right
one.’

Just then Major Dare’s towering form came striding
toward them along the deck, with Flo Cramwell trotting
beside him.

‘T’ll tell you what, Cramwell,’ he cried, ‘it’s just as well
that we are going back to England at once, for this young
lady of yours is so excited with her late adventures, and
so eager for more, that we should certainly have had to
tie her to the mast, to keep her from rushing off into the
interior of South America, in search of the source of the
Amazon—a very appropriate place for her, by-the-by.’

‘Hallo! here’s Goldhall coming off at last,’ said Hardy,
‘but who is that with him? Captain Marshall, I declare ;
coming to bid us good-bye, I suppose.’

Such was indeed the case ; and, two hours later, Tom and
Alwyn leaned over the yacht’s quarter-rail, side by side—
just as the red glow of sunset was beginning to fade behind
the endless ranks of tree-tops—to look their last upon the
receding shores of that island of terrible memories.

‘Well, young men,’ said Sir Frederick to them at dinner
that night, ‘I fear we are not likely to fall in with anything
on our way home which won’t seem rather tame after the
sort of thing you have been seeing lately ; but, at all events,
I can promise you a peep at one marvel about which you and
Miss Flo here have questioned me many a time, for our
course lies right through it.’

‘What’s that—the Gulf Stream?’ asked Tom Wickham
eagerly.

‘Better still—the famous “Sargasso Sea,” where the
surface, for miles and miles, is all one mass of floating beds
292 THE LIFELESS SEA.

of seaweed, till the whole sea looks just like an overflowed
meadow—a very curious sight, I can tell you. It’s not
very far to the eastward of us now, so I dare say we
shall be seeing something of it in two or three days’
time.’

And, sure enough, only a few days later, Flo Cramwell
came flying down into the cabin, calling out at the top of her
voice that she had ‘seen the sea-serpent.’

There, indeed, beyond all doubt, undulated along the clear,
bright water, only a few hundred yards off upon the vessel’s
port bow, a seemingly endless train of glistening coils, which
did- indeed look startlingly like the folds of a monstrous
serpent. But Sir Frederick, the moment he caught sight of
it, burst into a loud laugh, and said to the eager little
discoverer :

‘Well, Flo, I dare say that has been the origin of a good
many -sea-serpent yarns; but it is really nothing more than
a long strip of the ‘“ Gulf-weed,” as they call it, about which
I told you the other day. We shall see plenty more of it
presently, when we get farther into the Sargasso Sea.’

. ‘And is it only a bit of seaweed, then, after all?’ cried
Flo in a tone of bitter disappointment.

‘Only that, I’m afraid,’ said Goldhall, smiling ; ‘and just
as well for us, too, for if it really were a snake of that size, it
would make no more of crunching up our yacht, and us along
with it, than I should of eating a biscuit.—See, here comes
a ‘Noah’s Ark” on a small scale.’

In fact, they were just passing a round clump of floating
seaweed, in a hollow in the centre of which a white-winged
sea-bird was sitting quietly on three or four eggs, while its
mate circled overhead, on the lookout for something to
supply the family larder.

““Rocked in the cradle of the deep,” and no mistake,’
laughed Mr Cramwell.

‘Fancy a bird’s nest going for a voyage!’ said Alwyn
Dare. ‘I say, wouldn’t it be fun to get up a regatta of em,
THE LIFELESS SEA. 293

and see which sort of nest could go within a few points of
the wind !’

‘Well, anyhow,’ cried the aquatic Tom eagerly, ‘if we get
becalmed or stuck fast before we get out of this, I’ll swim
after one of these things, and get an egg for my collection.’

Thicker and thicker grew the weed-beds all around, till at
length the floating mass became so dense as to make a visible
difference in the vessel’s speed, and they seemed to be actually
sailing over an endless succession of marshy grass-fields, as
if making good President Lincoln’s famous joke about the
gunboats which could go ‘wherever it was a little damp.’

‘Well,’ cried Tom, ‘I don’t wonder that those old Spanish
and Portuguese chaps who first sailed these seas got frightened
when they came to this bit!. Why, it only needs two
or three cows in the middle of it, or half-a-dozen sheep, to
make it a regular pasture-meadow! I remember Columbus's
fellows were always talking of “fields in mid:-ocean,” but
I didn’t quite take in that it meant this sort of thing.’

‘Some of the old-time wonders are true, you see, after all,’
said Hardy, who had just fished up with a boat-hook a drifting
bunch of the seaweed, to the deep, rich colouring of which
the bright sun did full justice. ‘These things that look like
berries are really the seed-pods, and they act as air-floats,
making the whole thing so buoyant that, in places where
it is specially thick, it will really bear a very considerable
weight. I’ve met with men who declared that they had
walked upon it, though I can’t say I ever saw it done
myself.’ ;

‘But why should there be such a lot of it just at this par-
ticular place ?’ asked Tom.

‘Because here a lot of ocean-currents all converge toward
one point, and bring this drift-weed along with them. When
once it’s here it can’t get away again ; and that is the reason,
too, of another weed-drift of the same sort to the north of
the Sandwich Isles, and a third somewhere off the coast of
Australia. But seaweed is not by any means the only thing
294 THE LIFELESS SEA.

that these currents bring with them. There is a place some-
where in this direction which the sailors call the “ Lumber
Yard,” where the weed-beds are all full of pieces of wreckage
‘—planks, casks, broken spars, and what not—that all drift
into one place, and then lie there till they moulder away.’

‘Shall we see it as we pass ?’ asked Tom eagerly.

‘Very likely we shall, for we can’t be so very far off it now.’

Sure enough, in process of time, they did sight the famous
‘Lumber Yard ;’ and a gloomy picture it was. Held fast in
the dark coils of the drift-weed, lay rotting piecemeal, on the
lifeless sea, shattered timbers, broken masts, tangled cordage,
crushed-in casks and boxes, green and slimy masses of plank-
ing, from which bent nails and twisted iron stanchions stood
gauntly out, half eaten away with rust. In one place the
half-sunken bow of a wreck lifted above the coiling seaweed
its bare white figure-head, which, carved into the shape of a
human form with clasped hands uplifted on high, was so
horribly suggestive of a last gesture of despair before the final
plunge to destruction, that Flo turned her face quickly away,
and even the unimaginative Tom felt slightly uncomfortable.

All at once the keen-eyed Hardy called out:

‘Lend me your glass for a minute, Goldhall; it seems to
me that I can make out something like the hull of a vessel
away yonder on the starboard bow.’

And then, having looked fixedly through the glass for a
few moments, he added:

‘TI thought I could not be mistaken ; it is a vessel, and so
far as I can make her out, she seems to be a wreck !’

‘A wreck?’ cried Sir Frederick; ‘then we must stand
right for her at once, and see if we can be of any use.’

The course was altered accordingly ; but it soon became
evident that their humane purpose was by no means easy of
accomplishment. The increasing thickness of the weed-beds
checked the yacht’s speed so much that she was ere long
almost brought to a stand-still ; and it was plain that, if they
persisted in trying to force their way through this floating
THE LIFELESS SEA: : 295

jungle, they. would run no small risk of sharing the fate of
the vessel which they were striving to aid.

‘This won’t do,’ cried Sir Frederick ; ‘we must lower the
boat !?

They did so, and after a good deal of labour, and many
turns to the right or left—for in some places the weeds were
actually thick and strong enough to bring the boat to a dead
stop—they were at length near enough to the wreck to have
a clear view of her.

But the nearer they drew the more overpowering became
the gloomy horror of this weird tableau of destruction. All
along her rotting sides the dark folds of seaweed coiled and
twined like writhing snakes. Both her masts were gone,
and her bowsprit had been snapped short off. Through a
wide gap in-her shattered bulwarks a mass of tangled cordage
hung down into the sea; and the only living thing to be seen
on board was a huge gray sea-bird perched on the stump
of the bowsprit, which, scared by their approach, flapped
heavily away, with a hoarse, unearthly shriek.

‘I’m afraid we have come too late,’ said the major, shaking
his head ; ‘ but let us give her a hail anyhow.’

They hailed, but there was no reply; and the gloomy
silence that followed their cheery shout seemed to weigh
them down like lead.

But all at once Seymour Hardy said in an awe-stricken
whisper : ,

‘T thought I knew her again ; it’s the St Philip /”

And there, sure enough, was still legible on the battered
stern the name which they had such fearful cause to
remember: Sun Felipé, Coruha.

Hardy and Goldhall exchanged one look, and then, as the
boat ran alongside, they clutched the dangling cordage, and
were on board in an instant, the rest following.

Close to the bulwarks lay a skeleton, with an empty cup
clutched in its bony fingers, and lying in a posture of
unnatural distortion which showed but too plainly in what

T
296 THE LIFELESS SEAn >

fearful agonies the poor wretch must have died. .A second
skeleton sat propped against the stump of: the fore-mast, as if
instinctively seeking support in that last moment of utter
helplessness and despair.

‘Only two!’ cried Sir Frederick. ‘Where are all the rest,
then 2’ oes
‘Don’t ask,’ said Hardy with a shudder ; “you know what
the madness of hunger will sometimes do.’

Just then a shout from the major, who had gone aft, drew
their attention to a third skeleton, which was’ bowed over a
small iron chest, covered with antique carving, and filled to
the brim with bars of gold, jewelled cups and crucifixes, and
richly-embossed silver plate. It was the fatal treasure: that
had cost the Spanish captain his life, and had now brought
destruction upon all his murderers in their turn.

‘Look here!’ cried Dare, ‘it’s the buried treasure of
Trinidad, just as I told you. See, here’s a bit missing from
the carved-work, and here’s where that iron ring was broken
off, which Marshall told us was found in the hole. It must
have -been the Spanish captain who found it, sure enough ;
but it has not done him much good, nor them either. Poor
wretches! just fancy their dying of thirst and hunger, with
all that gold before their very eyes !’

‘But how came they to get here at all?’ asked» Sir
Frederick.

‘That’s plain enough,’ said Hardy. ‘Herrero the boat-
swain, who was to be their captain, was killed in the fight
with us; and, as he was the only man among them who
knew anything of navigation, the rest must have gone blun-
dering on at hap-hazard, after his death, not knowing where
they were—and this is the end of it!’

‘Well, anyhow,’ cried Goldhall, ‘this treasure is none of
ours ; that captain gave his life for it, and his it shall be. As
soon as I’ve landed you all in England, I’ll go across to
Corunna, and see if he has any relations there ; and if he has,
I’ll hand over the treasure to them, every penny of it!’






+

THE LIFELESS SEA. 297

And'the young baronet,was as good as his word.

The after-fortunes of our heroes may be briefly summed up.
Hugh Trevenna remained on board the Refuge, and was

a eyentually*made her captain by Sir Frederick Goldhall, who

has had many an adventurous voyage with him in the famous
yacht, inthe intervals of looking after the happiest and most
thriving tenantry in all England. Alwyn Dare, after a bril-
liant career at Hollowdale, where, to the great delight of his
father and the unbounded surprise of his mother, he not
only took several* prizes, but actually became one of the
champion athletes-of the school, joined his father’s old regi-
ment, and went out with it to India. Here he unexpectedly
fell in again with. Tom-Wickham, who had by that time
assumed the charge of one of his father’s tea-plantations in

“Assam ; but the story of their meeting, and of the strange
‘adventures through which they passed together, must be

reserved for another place.

Seymour Hardy is still writing as busily as ever; and
though he has long since ceased to edit Boys and Girls, he
still contributes to its pages many stirring tales of adventure,

‘which, being all perfectly true, and for the most part taken

from his personal experience, are of course fallen foul of by
the critics as ‘absolutely impossible.’ In this department of
literature, however, he has lately begun to find a formidable
rival in his wife, whose literary style has considerably altered
since the days when her name was Flo Cramwell.

THE END.

Edinburgh :
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—Times.

“There is not a dull page in the book.”
—Aberdeen Free Press.

“The very model of a book for a boy.”
—Fournal of Education.
“ There is a fine manly tone about the book.”
—Sheffield Telegraph.

3s. 6d.
“* From first to last it is a capital book for boys.”
—Manchester Courier.

“The action is bright and vivid.”
—Birninghant Gasette.

“One of Mr Fenn’s most successful efforts.”
—A theneunt,

1s. 6d.

‘* A thrilling tale.”

By REGINALD HORSLEY.



**Mr Horsley knows well how to rouse the youthful
interest, and how to impart a little useful knowledge

under the most pleasing guise.’’

The Blue Balloon.

The Yellow God.
Hunted through Fiji.

—Scotsniait.

3s.
‘We have seldom read a finer tale. It is a kind
of masterpiece.” —Methodist. Tries.
“A first-rate book for boys.” —Saturday Rewiew.

“Just the sort of book to put into a young lad’s
hands.” —Scotsman.

PAGE
16

16

15
16

16
16
16

16
15
15

16
16
15

27

27

27

41
Books for Boys.

By ANDREW HOME.



‘dis boys are not prigs, but the real human

article.’’

—Daily Telegraph.



The Boys of Badminster.

The Story of a School Con-
spiracy.
Out of Bounds.

Jack and Black.
The Spy in the School.

Through Thick and Thin.

5s.
“ A tale of unusual merit.” —Dandee Advertiser.
3s. 6d.
‘“‘ Guaranteed to fill the heart of every schoolboy
with keenest joy.” —Punch.
“The boy for whom this suggestive title has no
charm does not surely exist.” —Daily Telegraph.
“Pull of life and go.” —Standarda.
“A very healthy and entertaining narrative of
school life.” —New Age.
2s.
“ Just the kind of book for boys to rave over.”

—Glasgow Mati.

PAGE
18

26
26

26
26

By G. A. HENTY, G. M. FENN, A. CONAN DOYLE,
W. W. JACOBS, TOM GALLON,
GORDON STABLES, &c.



‘‘Messrs Chambers’s annual volume of tales by
authors who are especially popular among boys is
always noteworthy.’’ —Standard.



Steady and Strong.
Hazard and Heroism.
Brains and Bravery.
Grit and Go.
Courage and Conflict.
Venture and Valour.

Peril and Prowess.

Dash and Daring.

5s.

“ A fine, large five-shilling book of capital tales.”
—Dundee Advertiser.
“There is a great store of good things in Hazard
and Hevrotsm.” —Newcastle Chronicle.
“ A handsome volume of stirring tales.”
—Literary World.
‘ An exceptionally good collection of boys’ stories.”
: —Standard.
“One of the best story-books of its class you could
find in a day’s search.” —Morning Post.
‘The stories are good from end to end.”
, —Standard.
“No boy with healthy animal instincts could help
reading and enjoying Peril and Prowess.”
—Edinburgh Evening News.
“The volume is one to be treasured by British
boys.” —Liverpool Post.

7
17
17
18
17
18
17

18
Books by L. T. Meade. Published at 6s. (ziz-;.) 7

A BEVY OF GIRLS. By L. T. Meade.
With Ten Illustrations by Lewis Baumer.

Marcia Aldworth is obliged, much to the regret
of her pupils, to return to England to superintend
the nursing of an invalid step-mother. Marcia
does her duty bravely, but is misunderstood by
her sisters. ‘They take turns at the nursing, but
shirk their duty, with, as might be expected, dis-
agreeable consequences. A friend exercises a
good influence over the girls, who learn how much
better it is to do the duty that lies nearest than
feebly to evade it in favour of some more agree-
able and easier task.

THE GIRLS OF MRS PRITCHARD’S
SCHOOL. By L. T. Meade.
With Ten Illustrations by Lewis Baumer.

Rhoda Mangerton has been adopted by
Miss Natalie St Clair, who places her in Mrs
Pritchard’s school. There she is introduced to an
interesting circle, but she shows some grave defects
of character. In the end, Rhoda learns humility
and wisdom.

THE MANOR SCHOOL. ByL.T. Meade.
With Ten Illustrations by Lewis Baumer.

The parents of Christian Mitford, when they
leave for Persia, arrange that their daughter
shall stay behind and attend a private school.
Christian revolts against this decision, and runs
away. ‘The story of her escapade is known to
one or two of her fellow-pupils, who use it so as
to cause her suffering in body and mind. She
has a severe illness, after which she starts
afresh, and Penwerne School becomes the happiest
place in England.

GIRLS OF THE FOREST. By L. T. Meade.
With Ten Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.

The eight girls of the Dale family, who live
with their father in an old Elizabethan mansion
called The Dales, move about in perfect freedom.
Mr Dale, since his wife died, has buried himself
in his books and become oblivious to all that
surrounds him. Aunt Sophia’s arrival works a
marvellous change in everything, and the young
people are at first inclined to rebel. ‘The charac-
ters of the eight girls, and those of their neigh-
bours the Kings, are all drawn in a happy and
felicitous way.

GIRLS OF THE TRUE BLUE:
A School Story. By L. T. Meade.
With Ten Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.

Nan Esterleigh, an orphan girl, makes her
home with a friend of her mother’s, where she
has abundance of nice pets, good companions, and
every comfort. She is quite happy until an act
of deceit puts her in the power of an older and
designing girl, and renders her very miserable.
This wrong-doing casts a shadow over her life.
Misfortune brings her opponent to a better frame :
of mind, and Nan again rises in the esteem and oy hea ee Phe
respect of every one.


s. Booksoat- Gseby?e eee ee Nowe

. SEVEN MAIDS. By L. T. Meade.
With Ten Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.

The story begins when four girl-boarders are
introduced to Hazelhurst Rectory. Marjorie,
the daughter of the house, who does not approve
of their coming, develops symptoms of jealousy,
envy, and selfishness. She brings trouble upon
herself, and also drags many of her companions
into the net; but the story closes showing a nature
purified by suffering. Each of the Seven Maids
is a distinct type of girl-character.

THE ODDS AND THE EVENS.
By L. T. Meade.
With Ten Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.

The story of a great contest between the
young people of two families ina Midland town;
how it began and continued, and the adventures,
excitements, heart-burnings, and miseries which
it caused 3 with the final victory.

A NEST OF GIRLS; or, Boarding-School
Days. By E. Westyn Timlow.
With Eight Hlustrations by H. R. Richards.

Here we are introduced to a bevy of clever
American girls in a boarding-school, just at the
time that Winifred Douglas becomes teacher of
English Literature there. How she helped and
influenced her charges for good, although she
“hurt sometimes,” comes out in the story, which
is brimful of life and vivacity.

‘“‘ The writer of this story has produced a clever
and thoughtful book, quite above the average of
its kind. . . . There is much to be learnt from it,
while the tale itself is full of tender interest.”—
Liverpool Mercury.

THE PEDLAR’S PACK.
By Mrs Alfred Baldwin.
A Series of Fairy Stories, with Nine
Coloured Illustrations by Charles Pears,
Punch artist.

The fruits of ripe wisdom and experience are
set forth in the attractive guise of fairy tales,
which combine the best virtues of the old and the
new fairy lore. ‘The stories are told with charm-
ing literary grace and style, and the book will be
a treasure to the young people.

“The children who are lucky enough to receive
Mrs Alfred Baldwin’s Pedlar’s Pack . . . will
have a treat in store. It isa delightful collection
of fairy stories, which goes far to prove that the art
of writing such stories did not die with Hans
Andersen and the Grimms. ‘The author is evi-
dently fond of children, and understands them and
their requirements in the way of amusement. The
stories, which are admirably written, introduce us
to the necessary giants, fairies, princesses, &c. 5
but they are quite original, and point a moral, but
in quite an unobtrusive manner.”—T7he Graphic.



For COLOURED PICTURE BOOKS
published at 6s., see page 46.


From A BEVY OF GIRLS, by L. T. MEADE (see p. 7). 9



They were presented by each girl in succession.

Drawn by LEWIS BAUMER,
10 Books by L. T. Meade. Published at 5s.

WILFUL COUSIN KATE.

By L. T. Meade.

With Eight Illustrations by W. Rainey.
Mrs Meade here sketches the very diverse
characters of two cousins, who have interesting
and exciting experiences in doing the sights of
London. One of these girls shows such tact,
resourcefulness, sympathy, and strength of char-
acter that she is greatly the means of restoring
her invalid mother to health. The mother,
unaware of all her daughter has done for her,

rather favours her niece, which causes heart-
burning and jealousy.

A MODERN TOMBOY. By L. T. Meade.
With Eight Illustrations by Percy ‘Tarrant.
Rosamund Cunliffe stands out amongst the

girls of Sunnyside School for her personal beauty,
strength of character, and unselfishness, which
come to be exerted in a most wholesome way
upon the wild tomboy Irene Ashleigh. The in-
fluence of Rosamund and another little friend
work a revolution in Irene’s life. She ceases to

torment others, and becomes a strong and splendid
character.

A GAY CHARMER. By L. T. Meade.
Eight Tlustrations by W.-H. C. Groome.

Julia Cairns, aged fifteen, an accomplished
and well-brought-up only daughter, has the even
current of her life disturbed by the arrival of
Shirley Kendal at The Grange. This maiden,
who is full of life and vivacity, captivates every
one by her brightness and unselfishness. Julia
tries to ruin Shirley’s influence, but eventually
Taare and love are awakened in the breast of
ulia.

GIRLS NEW AND OLD. By L. T. Meade.
With Eight Ilustrations by J. Williamson.

A varied group of girls at Redgarth School is
sketched with great realism, showing their different
lights and shades of character, while many good
moral lessons are inculcated, more by example
and warning than by precept.

BETTY: A School-Girl. By L. T. Meade.
Eight Illustrations by Everard Hopkins.
This story pictures the lights and shadows in

the life of Betty—a motherless girl between eleven
and twelve—who is suddenly removed from the

old home in London and plunged into boarding-
school life near Dorchester.

CATALINA: Art Student.
By L. T. Meade.
With Eight Illustrations by W. Boucher.
The life in a girls’ art-school in London is here
sketched from the life by a practised hand.
‘The troubles and difficulties in the path of the

ae. hs zoe :
Ee Rein Maiiat heroine, who does noble things for her family,
are traced with great realism.


Books hy L. T. Meade.

THE REBEL OF THE SCHOOL:
A School Story. By L. T. Meade.
With Eight Illustrations by W. Rainey.
Kathleen O’Hara, a wilful, daring, yet beautiful
and impulsive Irish girl, enters Great Shirley
School. She becomes restive under the restraint,
and converts others to her ways of thinking and
acting. News of Kathleen’s exploits reaches the
head-mistress and the governors of the school. _In-
quiry is instituted, and Kathleen and some others
are on the point of being expelled when confession
is made and pardon given.

A VERY NAUGHTY GIRL.

By L. T. Meade.
With Eight Ilustrations by W. Rainey.
Evelyn Wynford, heiress of Castle Wynford,
when she arrives from Tasmania at her uncle’s
house, is wilful, selfish, vain, and unladylike.
As the story develops, her aunt, her cousin, and
others begin to have a healthy influence over her ;
then certain serious troubles humble her, and leave

her much changed and truly repentant.

MISS NONENTITY. By L. T. Meade.

With Eight Illustrations by W. Rainey.

Clarissa Rodney, daughter of Professor Rod-
ney, on gaining the Randall Scholarship, deter-
mines to use the money this brings in paying for
an eminent specialist, who saves her father’s life.
She engages the doctor unknown to her own
family, and gets into great trouble on discovering
that the scholarship is not to be paid in cash.
Clarissa suffers in the method she adopts to pay the
doctor; but in the end her reputation is cleared, and
her bravery and devotion are duly acknowledged.

LIGHT 0’ THE MORNING: The Story
of an Irish Girl. By L. T. Meade.
With Eight Illustrations by W. Rainey.
The pet name given to Nora by her father
describes her character; and when he gets into
difficulties she is the chief agent in bringing back
comfort and happiness to his home. The scenes
are laid mainly in Ireland, but partly in England,
where the luxury in the house of Nora’s uncle
presents a sharp contrast to the more frugal life
that prevails in the Irish home.

WILD KITTY. By L. T. Meade.
Eight Illustrations by J. Ayton Symington.
In this story Mrs Meade gives a picture o'
school-girl life, in which many varied characters
play a part, the most interesting and original being
Kitty Malone from Castle Malone in Ireland, who
earns the nickname of Wild Kitty because of her
love of mischief and her unconventional manners.

THE GIRLS OF ST WODE’S.
By L, T. Meade.
With Eight Illustrations by W. Rainey.
Mrs Meade here introduces us to a bevy of
interesting maidens drawn from various homes,
and of different grades of society, who meet as
undergraduates at the girls’ college of St Wode’s.
Young people of many shades of character play
their part in the story.

Published at 5s.



11
12 Books at 5s. by Mrs MOLESWORTH and MAY BALDWIN.

Reduced Illustration, Swszse¢ Rock.



MISS BOUVERIE. By Mrs Molesworth.
With Eight Ilustrations by Lewis Baumer.

A good critic remarked of this tale by Mrs
Molesworth that it was a pure and pretty story
which both a child and a grown-up person might
read with equal satisfaction and delight. The
author weaves with great felicity an entertaining
tale around one who has a large fortune, some ot
which he thinks should not by rights be his, but
he cannot persuade the person to whom it really
belongs to take it.

MEG LANGHOLME. By Mrs Molesworth.
With Eight Illustrations by W. Rainey.

Mrs Molesworth traces the development of
Meg Langholme from early girlhood to young
womanhood, with her friends and companions, in
the home of Bray Weald, where she is like an
adopted daughter, until mysterious warnings fore-
tell the disasters of her life. For certain reasons
she is kidnapped and concealed, but is cleverly
rescued and happily married to a lifelong friend
then home from India.

PHILIPPA. By Mrs Molesworth.
With Eight Illustrations by J. Finnemore.

Traces the development of a charming and
high-spirited maiden through a series of domestic
scenes, where she is left in the end perfectly
happy and perfectly satisfied with her destiny.

OLIVIA. By Mrs Molesworth.
With Eight Illustrations by R. Barnes.

A tale of good society in English provincial
life. A strong contrast is drawn between the
home of Olivia and her sister Pussy in the quiet
vicarage and the more fashionable world of Grey-
lands, the scene of a mischievous freak on the
part of the heroine, leading to her suffering and
repentance, as well as to the greatest happiness of
her life.

BLANCHE. By Mrs Molesworth.
With Eight Illustrations by R. Barnes.

‘CA story for girls, full of literary grace and
of sustained interest.” —Glasgow Herald.

THE SUNSET ROCK:
A Story for Girls. By May Baldwin.
Eight Illustrations by Harold Copping.

A London maiden, the daughter of a K.C,, is
sent to live ina humble cottage in Cornwall because
of an act of insubordination in school, for which
she is not wholly to blame. How she is tamed
and humbled, and at the same time strengthened
in character by contact with an unselfish cousin
and some wholesome-minded Cornish girls, is re-
lated here with much spirit and unfailing humour.
She does some brave and unselfish deeds, saves
two lives from a wreck and her brother Freddy
and a friend from death in a smuggler’s cave.
The reader will agree with Freddy when he said,
“Thanks awfully for cheering my sister. I think
she’s jolly brave; and so are you all. And we've
had a ripping time here.”
13

From WILFUL COUSIN KATE, by L. T. MEADE (see p. 40).



2?’ he sai

ou, missy

be y

n’t used to London,

aL

You

Drawn by W. RAINEY.
14 Books at 6s. by the Author of “ TIP-CAT:’ and AGNES GIBERNE.

BGO) Boy



A Tribute to the Author of
“ Laddie,” &c.

“To the Author of Laddie, &c.

“THE WOMEN’S TEMPLE,
CHICAGO, Octr. 29¢h, ’95.

‘* Beloved: Unknown Friend,
—I have just finished oz, given
me by Lady Henry Somerset.
My secretary, Miss Gordon, has
just read it aloud to me after the
fatigues of our National Con-
vention of Temperance Women
at Baltimore. It has made us
better, tenderer, more aspiring

TOM’S BOY.

By the Author of “Laddie,” “‘Tip-Cat,” &c.
With Eight Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.

Tom Bannister, an only son, with three elder
sisters who adore him, falls in love at twenty
with pretty Susie Primrose, and, partly because
the old Squire is against it, ‘‘ takes a leap over the
hedge of matrimony.” ‘There is an idyllic honey-
moon, and after ‘‘ Boy” is born they are settled
in semi-genteel quarters in London, and Tom
Bannister has an uphill fight for mere bread and
butter at literary work. ‘The idea creeps into
Susie’s mind, which circumstances tend to foster,
that Tom wishes to make it up with the old folks
and leave her out. Incidents of sunshine and
shadow follow in quick succession.

‘Both he and the people round about him are
made uncommonly interesting.” —Scotsman.

POMONA.

By the Author of ‘“‘Laddie,” “Tip-Cat,” &e.
With Eight Illustrations by R. Barnes.

A fine tale; rich in humour and pathos, and
abounding in moral lessons. The wonderful
fortunes of the chief characters will be followed
with eager interest by all who know and appre-
ciate the beautiful and original work of this
talented writer.

‘A pretty story, prettily told, and it makes
very good reading for girls, big girls, who like
love stories that are neither mawkish, foolish, nor
sentimental.”"—Qvween.

DON.

By the Author of “‘Laddie,” “Tip-Cat,” &c.
With Eight Illustrations by J. Finnemore.

‘Written in a bright and sunny manner that
is pleasant to read. . . . It may be eminently
recommended for young girls, and that of itself in
these days is a very desirable quality for a book
to possess.” —Manchester Guardian.

“A brightly written study of mind and
manners. . . . No great passions meet us in these
pleasant, homely, bantering pages, but there is
enough of wholesome love and hate to keep us
interested to the last.” —J/orning Leader.

towards worth and gentleness of -THE GIRL AT THE DOWER HOUSE,

soul. . . . I know how strictly
you preserve your incognito, but
perhaps you will not mind re-
ceiving this loving word through
your publishers. That you are
a woman I feel so sure that I
dare to address you thus endear-
ingly.
“Your loyal subject,

‘* FRANCES WILLARD.”

AND AFTERWARD.
By Agnes Giberne.
With Fight Illustrations by J. Finnemore.
The girl at the Dower House, her mother, the
vicar, and his very unconventional daughter, the
central character around whom the interest of the
story mainly hangs, play their part in a drama
which looks as if it would end in tragedy, until
the heroine, wiser through suffering, awakens to
her true interests, and chooses the better part.
“An absorbing story.”—Daily Free Press.
** Acharming love-tale.”— WestaninsterR eview.
Books hy G. Manville Fenn.

SHOULDER ARMS! By G. M. Fenn.
Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

Here we are introduced to two soldiers’ sons
at a military school in England, where they have
a ripping time together. Again, in India, we find
them marching amongst the hills in the Maha-
rajah’s country along with a brave regiment nick-
named the “‘ Die Firsts.” The story of their capture
and rescue will be read with avidity.

GLYN SEVERN’S SCHOOL-DAYS.

By G. Manville Fenn.

Eight Illustrations by Charles Pears.

This story has its scene laid at an English

public school, where Glyn Severn, the son of an

Anglo-Indian colonel, and Aziz Singh, the son of

an Indian prince, are great chums. Glyn cham-

pions Aziz, and fights the bully of the school, who
has insulted them both.

WALSH THE WONDER-WORKER.
By G. Manville Fenn.
Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.
Alf. Carr and Frank Wargrave attempt to solve
the mystery surrounding the person of Mr Walsh,
who, from his cleverness and his experiments
in chemistry, is regarded by the superstitious
country-folks as a suspicious character and as the
Wonder-Worker. ‘The boys cross the path of Mor-
rison, a spy on the doings of Walsh. ‘The mystery
around the Wonder-Worker is completely and
satisfactorily solved.

VINCE THE REBEL; or, The Sanctuary
in the Bog. By G. Manville Fenn.
Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.
Relates the troubles at Mere Abbey—a fine
South of England mansion surrounded by bogs
and woodlands—during the reign of James II. of
England, and how Vince the Rebel lay in hiding
there after Sedgemoor, and escaped the soldiers
sent in pursuit.

THE BLACK TOR: A Tale of the Reign
of James I. By G. Manville Fenn.
With Eight Ilustrations by W. S. Stacey.

A feud between two great families is healed
in the effort made against a common enemy.
The manly and generous youths who represent the

two families will be sure to enlist the sympathy of
the young reader.

ROY ROYLAND; or, The Young Castellan.

By G. Manville Fenn.

With Eight Illustrations by W. Boucher.

A highly interesting tale of the English Civil

War, which relates how the brave lad Roy

Royland defended the family stronghold while
his father was away fighting for the king.

DRAW SWORDS! ByG. Manville Fenn.

Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

A story of military life in India in the days of

the East India Company, relating the gallant

exploits of a regiment of horse artillery, which
becomes the nucleus of a Rajah’s army.



Published at 5s.

15


16 Books by G. Manville Fenn. Published at 5s.

BO ALCL NG or Sat] ait
Baas
is



THE KOPJE GARRISON: A Tale of the

Boer War. — By G. Manville Fenn.
With Eight Illustrations by W. Boucher.

This story follows the fortunes of two young
men in khaki—Drew Lennox and Bob Dickenson
—in and around the village of Groenfontein, which
is bravely held by a little British force against the
Boers. Sometimes half-starved, and subjected to
night and day attacks, they make a little Gibraltar
of the place.

CHARGE! or, Briton and Boer.

By G. Manville Fenn.
Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

The homestead of an English settler is visited
by a Boer commando headed by an Irish renegade,
who carries off Val Moray, a hot-blooded, inde-
pendent lad of eighteen. Val makes an unavailing
resistance, but watches his chance and escapes to
Echo Nek. Meanwhile war breaks out, and Val
joins a troop of Light Horse.

STAN LYNN; or, A Boy’s Adventures in

China. By G. Manville Fenn.
Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

Stan Lynn, fresh from an English school,
enters a large Chinese merchant’s warehouse,
where his taste for adventure is soon gratified by
being called upon to assist in the defence of the
place against Chinese robbers. Stan is sent toa
large up-river station. On the way to visit the
plantations of the firm he is kidnapped. After his
escape he has a hot time of it in helping to defend
the station from Chinese pirates.

FIX BAY’NETS! or, The Regiment in the

Hills. By G. Manville Fenn.
Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

A military story of thrilling interest, which
follows the fortunes of several British soldiers in

contests with the warlike tribes in the hill-country
of India.

DIAMOND DYKE; or, The Lone Farm

on the Veldt. By G. Manville Fenn.
With Eight Ilustrations by W. Boucher.

Vandyke Emson and _ his half-brother Joseph
are engaged in ostrich-farming in South Africa.
There are hunting scenes, adventures with lions,
swollen rivers to cross, wagon journeys; and a
long period of illness and disaster on the part of
Joseph, when he is nursed by Dyke, who proves
himself a genuine hero.

REAL GOLD. By G. Manville Fenn.

With Eight Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.

Transports the reader to Peru. Colonel Cam-
pion, his son Perry, and Cyril Norton, show great
pluck and endurance, and brave innumerable
dangers from Indians in their search for seeds
of the cinchona in order to increase the world’s
supply of quinine.
Books at 5s, containing Stories by * * "AN We BAGSBAN.POYLE: 17

STEADY AND STRONG. By G. A.
Henty, G. M. Fenn, John Oxenham,
Louis Becke, R. E. Francillon, &c.

Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

This volume starts. with four stories by G. A.
Henty, followed immediately by a stirring West
African yarn by George Manville Fenn. Mr John
Oxenham has a well-told tale of school-life, and
Louis Becke relates a marvellously successful
voyage after treasure. Mr R. E. Francillon con-
tributes a tale in which an old man recalls a strik-
ing incident of his boyhood. There is a story
of the Macedonian Insurrection, and a series of
powerful tales of Western life in America by
William Atkinson.

HAZARD AND HEROISM. By G. A.
Henty, Louis Tracy, Harold Bindloss,
Edwin Lester Arnold, Lieut.-Col. A. F.
Mockler-Ferryman, &c.

Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

‘This volume contains no fewer than five short
stories by G. A. Henty. ‘‘Iyvinda,” by Edwin
Lester Arnold, is a rare example ofa story which
enables us to realise early Britain with Roman and
Caledonian in conflict in the first century. Lieut.-
Col. Mockler-Ferryman supplies a Tibetan tale;
and the story of Waterloo is retold, in a vivid
narrative, by one who was an actor there.

BRAINS AND BRAVERY. By G. A.
Henty, Guy Boothby, H. A. Bryden, L. T.
Meade, &c.

Eight Illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

Includes four stories from the pen of G. A.
Henty. All the tales, the scenes of which are
laid in various parts of the globe, more or less bear
out the title of the book, and inculcate some moral
truth.

COURAGE AND CONFLICT. By G. A.
Henty, G. Manville Fenn, F. T. Bullen,
Fred Whishaw, &c.

With Eight Illustrations by W. Boucher.

The story by G. A. Henty is one of pioneering
in the days of the early settlers in America;
G. M. Fenn tells a funny seaside story; while
Andrew Balfour, Captain North, Walter Thorn-
bury, James Patey, Fred Whishaw, Harold Bind- -
loss, and others contribute stories of peril, adven-
ture, and heroism in the hour of danger.

PERIL AND PROWESS. By G. A.
Henty, A. Conan Doyle, D. Ker, G. Man-
ville Fenn, W. W. Jacobs, &c.

With Eight Illustrations by W. Boucher.

Among the contents of this volume are two
adventure stories by G. A. Henty,: and ‘‘ The
Mystery of Sasassa Valley,” a South African tale
by A. Conan Doyle, his first contribution to
periodical literature. W. W.:Jacobs tells one of
his inimitable sea-stories; while the.other tales
have scenes laid in Africa, India, and North and
South America.


Books at 5s. by ANDREW HOME, &.

DASH AND DARING. By G. A. Henty,
G. Manville Fenn, D. Ker, &c.
' Eight Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome,
This volume opens with two stories by G. A,
* #Henty, one of which is a tale of Cuba and the
Buccaneers, the other of the Cornish Coast ; these
are followed by three tales of peril and heroism by
G. Manville Fenn, and a story of the Peninsular
War by W. H. G. Kingston; while the remainder,
by D. Ker, Reginald Horsley, and other capable
writers, are brimful of adventure.

GRIT AND GO. By G. A. Henty, Guy
Boothby, D. Christie Murray, &c.
With Eight Illustrations by W. Rainey.
Mr G. A. Henty relates a story of a shipping
firm, showing how dishonesty and _wrong-dealing
never pay in the longrun._ Guy Boothby tells a
strong story of revenge. D. Christie Murray is
at his best in ‘‘The Silver Lever;” and so are
H. A. Bryden in a South African story, and D. L.
Johnstone in ‘¢ Knights of El Dorado.” There is
% srit and go” in all the stories.

wit R VENTURE AND VALOUR. By G. A.
: f Henty, A. Conan Doyle, G. M. Fenn, &c.
Eight Illustrations by W. Boucher.

There is a collection of tales in this volume by
some of the best writers of the day, including ad-
venture stories, tales showing bravery, pluck, and
endurance, with episodes of exciting interest. It
need only be mentioned that it contains work by
G. A. Henty, G. M. Fenn, A. Conan Doyle, Tom
Gallon, David Ker, James Payn, W. W. Jacobs,
F. T. Bullen, Gordon Stables, D. L. Johnstone,
and others, to show its quality and interest.

THE BOYS OF BADMINSTER:
A School Tale. By Andrew Home.
With Eight Illustrations by C. M. Sheldon.
Mr Andrew Home here gives a fascinating
tale of school-life. When we are introduced to
the boys, we find that a curious transformation
has been wrought in the case of the hero, which
causes no end of complications and adventures.
The author is as bright, entertaining, wholesome,
and true to life as ever.

BROUGHT TO HEEL; or, The Breaking-

in of St Dunstan’s. By Kent Carr.

Eight Illustrations by Harold Copping.

A healthy, breezy tale of school-life, abound-

ing in interesting and exciting incidents and situa-

tions, including cricket matches, midnight feasts

in the dormitory, and all the byplay incident to a
public school.

THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE COAST.
By David Lawson Johnstone.
Twenty-one Illustrations by W. Boucher.

‘A lode of that precious metal which went to
the making of Tveasuve Island and Catriona,”—
Morning Leader. :





From THE BOYS OF BADMINSTER, by ANDREW HOME (see p. 18). 19



He felt the bat spring in his hand as he smote with all his strength.

Drawn by C. M. SHELDON.
20 Books by L. T. Meade.

Published at 3s. 6d.

DUMPS: A Plain Girl. By L. T. Meade.



With Six Illustrations by R. Lillie.
“ a very learned man, unfortunately allows the young
girl to live too much her own life. The story
shows how she developed her mental and moral
qualities by the aid of her companions, as well as
that of Grace Donnithorne, the lady who becomes
her step-mother, and to whom Dumps does not get
readily reconciled. She is sent to school in France,
where she suffers through breaking the rules, and
returns to find her father very ill. This draws
step-mother and daughter together.

PETRONELLA. By L. T. Meade.
With Six Illustrations by W. Rainey.
Presents two interesting studies of girl-life.
Petronella Laurie is shown to us in Miss Malet’s
school at fourteen, tall, awkward, and untrained ;
while Polly Playfair is wild, disobedient, and reck-
less, but generous and affectionate.

PETER THE PILGRIM. By L. T. Meade.
With Six Illustrations by Harold Copping.
Introduces us to a poor family in London, and
particularly to Loo and Peter, who try to translate
the Pilgrim's Progress into a reality. One day
Loo and Peter start on pilgrimage, and it is their
adventures and misadventures which make this
narrative a most charming tale for young folks.

COSEY CORNER. © By L. T. Meade.

Eighteen Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.
Mrs L. ‘T. Meade here tells how four children
show great ingenuity and cleverness in playing at
keeping a farm, and manage to support themselves
for a time from the proceeds.

QUEEN ROSE. By L. T. Meade.
With Six Illustrations by J. T. Murray.

Queen Rose is the pet-name of a tall and
slender, pretty and amiable girl who arrives from
India at a beautiful Devonshire home, where she
has the four high-spirited but strongly contrasted
Dallenger girls as companions. The girls have
splendid times, enjoying picnics and pony rides,
and everything that can make young girls happy.

FOUR ON AN ISLAND: A Story of
Adventure. By L. T. Meade.
With Six Illustrations by W. Rainey.
Four young people, residing at a homestead
in Brazil, go off one day on a picnic, and while
playing on the seashore embark in a small boat,
despite orders to the contrary, drift out to sea,
and at the imminent danger of their lives finally
land on an uninhabited island. They have many
startling adventures before being rescued.

THE CHILDREN OF WILTON CHASE.
By L. T. Meade.
With Six Illustrations by Everard Hopkins.

Here we are introduced to a houseful of
healthy, high-spirited children, and, as the story
develops, the character of each child is displayed.
The pictures of family life are drawn with pleasant
humour.
Books by Mrs Molesworth. Published at 3s. 6d. 21

: ' .
THE BLUE BABY, and other Stories. c z y
By Mrs Molesworth. i UG JENSEN
Charmingly Ilustrated by Lewis Baumer.
Ten short but characteristic stories by this
favourite writer. The work of Mrs Molesworth
always possesses interest and distinction ; and no
one better fills in those natural touches of child-
life which make her books so charming.

‘sMY PRETTY’ AND HER BROTHER
TOO.” By Mrs Molesworth.
Charmingly Illustrated by Lewis Baumer.

In this volume Mrs Molesworth presents ten
short stories, in which little children are depicted
in her inimitable style. Some of the tales have
a Christmas flavour ; all convey in an attractive
form some lessons which young folks, and old
folks too, would not be the worse for learning.

THE THREE WITCHES.
By Mrs Molesworth.

Charmingly Illustrated by Lewis Baumer.

Mrs Molesworth is here quite at home in
delineating how certain young people, who ‘like
strange and mysterified things better than anything
else in the world,” have their wishes gratified.

THE BOYS AND I: A Child’s Story for



Children. © By Mrs Molesworth. ERS
Seventeen Illustrations by Lewis Baumer. Ones
The Boys and I is intended for children, ib x Molt sworth

and professes to be written by a girl of four-
teen, who records in a simple and childlike way
all that happened five years before, when_ her
father and mother went to China, and she and her
brothers were left in charge of ‘‘ Uncle Geoff,” a
bachelor physician.

HOODIE. By Mrs Molesworth.

Seventeen Illustrations by Lewis Baumer.

This story, very simply and naturally told, is

of a rather naughty little girl who at first has a

mistaken idea that she is out of favour with every-

bodys but who is brought to a better mind by an
illness.

HERMY. By Mrs Molesworth.
Seventeen Illustrations by Lewis Baumer.

Mrs Molesworth is at her best in delineating
child-life and child-ways, and the story of Hermione
Leighton will be as great a favourite as Hoodie.

ROBIN REDBREAST.
m By Mrs Molesworth.
With Six Illustrations by Robert Barnes.

A tale of life in an English village. Robin
Redbreast is the name of a pretty, cosy-looking
house near_the village of Thetford, and is in-
habited by Lady Myrtle Goodacre, around whom,
and the young girls Frances and Jacinth Mild-
may, Miss Alison Mildmay, and others, a clever
and effective story revolves.
22 From HERMY, by Mrs MOLESWORTH (see p. 21).



‘I think, Saunders, this is yours.’

Drawn by LEWIS BAUMER.
Books at 3s. 6d. by MAY BALDWIN and EMMA MARSHALL.

THE GIRLS OF ST GABRIEL’S.
By May Baldwin.
With Six Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.

The story of life at a French school. The con
trasts between English and French character and
ways are graphically drawn. Ursula rebels at
first at the strict discipline, and gets into trouble
herself and drags others along with her, but ulti-
mately she begins to appreciate the good points of
the French girls, learns where her own character
is defective, and strives to improve.

THAT AWFUL LITTLE BROTHER.
By May Baldwin.
With Six Illustrations by Chas. Pears.

The record of a delightful and unconventional
family. The doings of the Sylvesters after they
remove from country to town are described with
fun and humour, seasoned with quaint wisdom.

A POPULAR GIRL: A Tale of School
Life in Germany. By May Baldwin.
With Six Illustrations by Jessie Wilson.

A bright and naturally told story of school-girl
life in Germany, in which the contrasts with school-
life in this country are strongly brought out. The
lady principal, Fraulein Luise, cautions the heroine
about her over-anxiety to be the best girl-scholar ;
in spite of this she works openly and secretly for
this end, which is gained at the expense, for a
time, of her health and her memory.

SIBYL; or, Old School Friends.

By May Baldwin.

With Six lustrations by W. Rainey.

_ The sequel to A Popular Girl, in which the

old characters reappear, wiser and more mature,

yet not less interesting and entertaining in their

sayings and doings. Sibyl passes through a period

of trial, but comes out triumphant and stronger in
character than ver.

A PLUCKY GIRL; or, The Adventures

of ‘* Miss Nell.” By May Baldwin.

Six Illustrations by Jessie Macgregor.

The heroine is a very lively girl, wilful, bright,

and unconventional in her sayings and doings, yet

kind-hearted withal. At one time sweet, shrewd,

and astute, she is at another the very impersona-
tion of mischief.

A GOOD-HEARTED GIRL; or, A Present-
Day Heroine. By Emma Marshall.
With Six Illustrations by J. Finnemore.
Tells how Althea, a noble-souled young woman,
helps to undo a great deal of evil brought on those
who had trusted her father. There is a slight
love-interest giving piquancy to the narrative,
which is bright and wholesome, and full of excel-
lent moral lessons. .



OE


24 Books at 3s. 6d. by

siete

a

be.)
av se
Ere



THE AUTHOR OF “TIP-CAT,“ RAYMOND
JACBERNS, MRS G. DE HORNE VAIZEY, &c.

GAY. By Author of “ Laddie,” “ Tip-Cat.”

With Six Ilustrations by Percy Tarrant.

Gay and Do are delightful studies. “The grown-

up Oliver Bruce’and the young folks affect one

another's lives in a real and unlooked-for way.

His friendship for and kindness to Gay and Do

lead him straight into the heart of a family
mystery, which is unravelled in the last pages.

BELLE. By Author of “Laddie,” “Tip-

Cat.”
With Six Illustrations by G. Nicolet.

The author of Laddie again shows her skill in
sketching an interesting group of characters in an
English country town, amongst whom Belle, Jerry,
and Mark Hastings stand out conspicuously.

CRAB COTTAGE. By Raymond Jacberns.

With Six Illustrations by J. Menzies.
The family at Nunnery Farm have lost father
and mother ; and Hester Selwyn, the eldest, guides
the household, but has trouble at first with Jenny.
The Trevors of Crab Cottage and the Selwyns
have picnics and fishing excursions together.
Jenny develops in self-help and womanliness, and
there are happy results through the wholesome and
stimulating intercourse between the families.

A SCHOOL CHAMPION: A Gin!’s School

Story. By Raymond Jacberns.
With Ten Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.
Tekla and Freda Marsden, who are orphans,
suddenly find themselves launched into school-
life, where their previous unconventional life
renders them impatient of restraint. ‘l'ekla starts
with the idea that she must help somebody. How
her philanthropy took a wrong direction, and led
to serious consequences, is here unfolded.

THE DAUGHTERS OF A GENIUS.

By Mrs G. De Horne Vaizey.
With Six Illustrations by John Menzies.
The six children of a musical genius are left
alone in the world to fight their way, and this
story gives a narrative of their brave endeavours
in a London flat. How each one used his or her
gifts for the benefit of the family and the outside
world is here told in a pleasant manner.

THE UNJUST STEWARD; or, The

Minister’s Debt. By Mrs Oliphant.
With Six Illustrations by J. Finnemore.
‘Mrs Oliphant was never more happily inspired
than in writing this story.”’—Scofsman.

YOUNG DENYS. By Eleanor C. Price.

With Six Illustrations by G. Nicolet.
This story opens by giving a picture of Win-
chester early in the last century, and moves to
France, whither the hero had been taken by the
press-gang. He comes in contact with the great
Napoleon before his last fatal effort at Waterloo.
There is a pretty thread of love-making which,
after being interrupted, ends to the satisfaction of
every one.
From PETER THE PILGRIM, by L. T. MEADE (see p. 20). 25



‘That’s where the Wicket-Gate is,’ she said.

; Drawn by HAROLD COPPING.


26

~ Books at. 3s. 6d. by ANDREW HOME and DAVID KER.

coe

Res) eae
SCHOOL, LIFE
Pet leaped

Pes A gutt. 3





JACK AND BLACK: A Tale of School
Life and Adventure. By Andrew Home.
With Six Illustrations by Harold Copping.

Introduces the reader to Harbury School, and
sketches the adventures more particularly of Jack
Holwell and Tom Black. A mystery hangs over’
Holwell’s past life, and the persecutions of a
designing relative, who employs some one to!
shadow him, put him in terror of his life. A series:
of remarkable adventures begin by his flight from:
school, followed by his friend Black.

OUT OF BOUNDS: A Series of School

Stories. By Andrew Home.

Eight Illustrations by Harold Copping..

In this collection of short stories many phases

of boy-life, in and out of school, are dealt with.

‘There are numerous adventures, some of which’

are on the point of ending tragically. All the

stories are wholesome and entertaining, and incul-

cate the virtues of truth, sympathy, bravery, and
attention to duty in the battle of life.

THE STORY OF A SCHOOL CON-
SPIRACY. By Andrew Home.
With Twelve Illustrations by A. Monro.

How a French boy kept a whole school in hot
water, and got many of the scholars into great
trouble, at Westbury College, is here related with
vivacity and unflagging interest. There is a
moral about true and false friendship which he
who runs may read.

THE SPY IN THE SCHOOL: A Tale
of Two Chums. By Andrew Home.
With Six IHustrations by W. J. Urquhart.

Melby School is an unusually lively seminary,
with, unfortunately, a spy in the form of Swin-
dells, one of the masters. We are introduced
to a lot of healthy schoolboys, who are never
out of hot water.

O’ER TARTAR DESERTS; or, English

and Russian in Central Asia.
By David Ker.

With Six Illustrations by J. Finnemore.

Relates the remarkable adventures of an ex-
plorer named Livingstone Archer, his son Harry, .
Count Bulatoff and his son Yury, and others, who,
in executing a commission from the Czar, visit the
Caucasus, cross ‘Tartar deserts, and are launched
on a perilous train of incidents, from which in the:
end they happily emerge triumphant.

PRISONER AMONG PIRATES.
By David Ker..
With Six Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.
A stirring and interesting tale of adventure in:
the Mediterranean in the middle of the seven-
teenth century, in which two English lads, Jack
Narborough and George Steel, play an important.
part.

ie


Books at 3s. 6d. by E. §. ELLIS, C. R. KENYON, G. M. FENN, &,

“VIVA CHRISTINA!”
By Edith E. Cowper.
Six Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

This tale follows the fortunes mainly of a group
of soldiers attached to the British Legion during
the Carlist war, when Queen Christina of Spain, by
means of British help, was enabled to vanquish
Don Carlos. The hero, James Skene, has a
youthful escapade in Edinburgh before embarking
on active service in Spain.

LOGAN THE MINGO: A Story of the
Frontier. By Edward 8. Ellis.
With numerous Illustrations.

Indian tales always interest young people, and
this is one of the best, with a basis of history,
concerning certain episodes in the French and
Indian wars. Arthur Oakland and his cousin
pass through many exciting adventures, and meet
Logan the Mingo, who was a genuine character,
and whose career is followed to the close.

THE ARGONAUTS OF THE AMAZON.
By C. R. Kenyon.
Six Illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

A thrilling tale of adventure in which three
old chums, in the search for the Inca’s treasure in
the remote regions of the mighty Andes, procure
a little steam-launch for the navigation of the
Amazon and some of its feeders, such as the
Ucayali. heir whole course teems with remark-
able experiences and adventures.

THE RAJAH OF DAH. By G. M. Fenn.
With Six Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.

Mr Fenn’s practised pen here transports the
reader to the Malay peninsula, where Johnstone
Murray, a keen naturalist, and his nephew Ned,
along with other British residents, have many
astonishing adventures and hairbreadth escapes.
The Rajah, his court, and his cruelties are por-
trayed with great realism.

THE DINGO BOYS; or, The Squatters of
Wallaby Range. By G. Manville Fenn.
With Six Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.

In this Australian story Mr Fenn enables
“us to follow the fortunes of an English: family,

from the time of their landing on the coast ~

of Australia till their settlement at Wallaby
Range. They go through many adventures in
travelling inland, and in .making their home in
the Bush.

NIC REVEL: A White Slave’s Adventures
in Alligator Land. By G. M. Fenn.
Six [Illustrations by W. H. C. Groome.

Nic Revel has various encounters with salmon-
oachers on his father’s estate ere he is carried off
y mistake along with a gang of them, and con-

veyed to New England. His terrible life there,
and wonderful escape back to England, form 2
thrilling narrative.



27
28: «Books. at-3s,.6ds by oabere lie

CHUMS IN THE FAR WEST.

By Everett M'‘Neil.
With Nine Illustrations by W. V. Cahill.
Two VYahara High School lads receive the
prize of a hunting trip in the Far West of America
for being the most manly boys in the school. They
have a thrilling experience with a robber and
adventures with Indians; one of the lads is cap-
tured and about to be done to death when he is
rescued, only to have further hairbreadth escapes.
The lads return with jewels, gold pieces, and bear-

cubs as trophies of their adventurous life.

JERRY DODDS, MILLIONAIRE.

: By H. Barrow-North.
With Six Illustrations by Harold Copping.
Jerry Dodds is the good-hearted and open-
handed son of a South African millionaire, and
his fortunes are traced from the time he enters
Westpool School until he is kidnapped, and re-
covered in a marvellous way. There are lively

times at Westpool and abundant adventures.

THE WHITE PRINCESS OF THE
HIDDEN CITY. By D. L. Johnstone.
With Six Illustrations by W. Boucher.
Relates how Leslie Rutherford hunted up
traces of a lost ancestor, in doing which he passed
through innumerable dangers and adventures,
discovered a strange people living in a valley of
Central America, and was eventually successful.

THE REBEL COMMODORE (Paul Jones).
Being Memoirs of the Earlier Adventures
of Sir Ascott Dalrymple.

By D. Lawson Johnstone.
With Six Illustrations by W. Boucher.

A story of Galloway a hundred years, ago,
which opens with a description of some of the law-
less doings of the smugglers. The hero is taken
prisoner by Paul Jones, but makes a remarkable
Say escape in the Firth of Forth, and afterwards aids the

mee escape of other prisoners in the Low Countries.
: History has been followed in the main in the
narrative of Paul Jones’s descent upon the British coast and his doings in Holland.

IN THE LAND OF THE GOLDEN PLUME. By D. Lawson Johnstone.

With Six Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.

Mr Dennison and his sons Walter and Frank, after some experiences in a Queensland

station, plunge into the wilds of New Guinea, far beyond the outposts of, civilisation,

encounter treacherous natives, and are in great perils in dangerous and well-nigh inaccess-
ible places.

THE PARADISE OF THE NORTH. By D. Lawson Johnstone.

With Fifteen Illustrations by W. Boucher.

Mr Johnstone transports us to the Arctic regions, where a well-equipped expedition

reaches a higher latitude than that achieved by any previous explorers. This is not done
without numerous adventures, perils, and privations.

TWO BOY TRAMPS. By J. Macdonald Oxley.

; With Six Illustrations by H. Sandham.

Mr Oxley conducts his heroes from Edinburgh over the Atlantic and across Canada to

the Pacific, where his intimate knowledge of the country enables him to delineate their
numberless adventures with life-like truth and graphic power.





For COLOURED PICTURE BOOKS published at 3s. 6d., see pages 46, 47.
From “VIVA CHRISTINA!” by EDITH E. COWPER (see p. 27).

Skene struck upwards, his right fist doubled.

Drawn by W. H. C. GROOME.


30 Books at 8s. by J. Bere OWARD GARRET CE HORSLEY,

THE WHITE KAID OF THE ATLAS. By J. Maclaren Cobban.
With Six Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.

Tom Malleson is sent as assistant to his father’s agent at Mogador. His cousin
supplants him and plays him false. Tom is taken to the interior as prisoner of the Kaid
El Madani. He rises in favour, trains the native soldiers, performs prodigies of valour,
and gains the title of the White Kaid.

THE WIZARD KING: A Story of the Last Moslem Invasion of Europe.
By David Ker.
With Six Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.
The hero of this story is John Sobieski, round whose marvellous career are woven
stories of incident and adventure, many of which are historical.

SWEPT OUT TO SEA. By David Ker.
With Six Ilustrations by J. Ayton Symington.

Mr David Ker carries his heroes and their friends from Shetland to Cornwall; thence
they are swept out to sea, and land, after numerous adventures, in the West Indies.

HUNTED THROUGH FIJI; or, ’Twixt Convict and Cannibal.
By Reginald Horsley.
With Six Ilustrations by J. Ayton Symington.

Dr Horsley describes the fortunes of three young lads pursued by convicts and natives
through Fiji in the cannibal days. The pages are crowded with adventures and hair-
breadth escapes.

THE ‘‘ROVER’S” QUEST: A Story of Foam, Fire, and Fight.
By Hugh St Leger.
With Six Illustrations by J. Ayton Symington.

A tough yarn, wl ch relates how Noel Hamilton is picked up from a boat in the
Channel by a passing merchant ship and carried into eastern seas, where he encounters
all the horrors of a mutiny, a seaquake, and shipwreck; his loneliness on a barren island
being shared by two fine old salts named Sam Port and Eli Grouse. How they are
rescued by the Rover, out on a strange quest, and how this quest is accomplished, form
part of an interesting narrative of sea-life.

A DAUGHTER OF THE KLEPHTS; or, A Girl of Modern Greece.
By Edward Garrett.
With Six Illustrations by W. Boucher.

“The numerous characters in the story are vivid portraitures, the very humblest has
nothing of the puppet in him or her, and the story from the first page to the last is highly
interesting, realistic, and natural.”—Scotsman.

A SOLDIER OF THE LEGION. By D. Lawson Johnstone.
With Seventeen Illustrations by W. Boucher.

The hero, George Annesley, exiled from home, performs deeds of daring in the Carlist

war in Spain as a captain of guerillas, returning to England and to the good fortune
which awaits him at the close of the story.

THE BLUE BALLOON: A Tale of the Shenandoah Valley.
By Reginald Horsley.
With Six Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.

The author shows even more than his usual skill and vivacity in depicting some of the
thrilling scenes and episodes of the American Civil War, in which his hero and the other
characters bear a part. d

THE YELLOW GOD. By Reginald Horsley.
With Six Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.

Jack Brook and Michael O’Brien, instead of reaching Valparaiso, are shipwrecked in
the Pacific, picked up from a raft, and landed in Sydney. They go inland and make one
of the first great gold discoveries.
Books at 2s, 6d, by * 7 MEARE MRS MoLEsWoRTH, — 31

PLAYMATES: A Story for Boys and Girls.
By L. T. Meade.
With Six Illustrations by G. Nicolet.
“The charm of Mrs Meade’s stories for children is well

sustained in this pretty and instructive tale.”
—Liverpool Mercury,

“ Playmates is a delightful story, which will be rightly
appreciated by both boys and girls.” —Dundee Advertiser.

THE NEXT-DOOR HOUSE.
By Mrs Molesworth.
With Six Illustrations by W. Hatherell.

“This is a children’s story, about children and for
children, and will be welcome in many nursery libraries.”
—Glasgow Herald.

IMOGEN, By Mrs Molesworth.

With Four Illustrations by H. A. Bone.

Shows how the simple and ingenuous Imogen, while a

guest along with her mother at Grey Fells Hall, becomes a dupe of two designing girls,
suffers some heartache through misplaced affection, but learns wisdom through suffering.

GREYLING TOWERS: A Story for the Young. By Mrs Molesworth.

With Seventeen Illustrations by Percy Tarrant.

Relates how a London family took a house in the country near Greyling Towers,

which held a mystery to be unravelled by the children, the gradual unfolding of which is

said by one of the young people to be more interesting than all the fairy tales she has ever
read,



WHITE TURRETS. By Mrs Molesworth.
With Four Illustrations by W. Rainey.
“A charming story. . . . A capital antidote to the unrest that inspires young folks

that seek for some great thing to do, while the great thing for them is at their hand and
at their home.’’—Scofsmzan.

LASSIE AND LADDIE: A Story for Little Lads and Lassies.
With numerous I]lustrations. By Mary D. Brine.

“Lassie” and ‘‘Laddie” have delightful times together and are as happy as possible.
The children are encouraged to show kindness to those less fortunate than themselves,
and it is beautifully brought out how their thoughtfulness for others added to their own
pleasure.

BLACK, WHITE, AND GRAY. __ By Amy Walton.

: With Four Illustrations by Robert Barnes.

Denis and Maisie, two children whose parents are in India, have a happy time at

Fieldside Farm, and pass through many interesting experiences while striving to find
homes for three kittens.

OUT OF REACH. By Esme Stuart,

With Four Illustrations by Robert Barnes.

Relates the struggles of the Wests, a family of orphans, and tells who helped and who

_ hindered their upward progress. Two of the little girls are the unwitting tools of a

designing woman, whose network of deceit is discovered and exposed through their agency
and that of their friend Mr Savill.

THROUGH THE FLOOD: The Story of an Out-of-the-way Place.
With Illustrations. By Esmé Stuart.

We follow the fortunes of Farmer Graves, with his two daughters—whose characters
are skilfully contrasted—the Drakes, and some subsidiary people who play a part in the
little world around River Bank.
32 Books at 2s, 6d. by "@™* “RED Weishaweer

ROSE AND LAVENDER.
By Author of “‘Laddie,” “‘ Tip-Cat,” &c,
With Four Illustrations by H. A. Bone.

Describes the lives of two young girls; the