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OLDEN 
PARROT 



Frederic A. 
Fenger 




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THE GOLDEN PARBOT 



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THE GOLDEN PARROT 



BY 

FREDERIC A. FENGER 



AUTHOR OF " ALONB IN THB GABIBBSAN 



>» 



With Ilhistrations by 

HABOLD CUB 



• \£ 




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BOSTON AND NBW TQBK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

1921 



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•;'9r>3J>B 



coprmoHT, i9az, by frxobrzc a. fknobr 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVXD 



o 







TO 
THE FIRST IfATB 



FOREWORD 

I RAN across the Tads, just the other day- They 
were roUing up Tremont Street — in their 
shirt-sleeves, if you will believe it, and brown 
as a couple of berries, 

"Hello! young feller!" cried they in unison 
and pretty much in the vernacular; "and 
what'r'ye doin' now?" 

"Nothing," says I; "just finished — " 

"Wat? More fiction?" 

"No, a real yarn this time," and I edged 
toward the curb; "a real story about treasure, 
A couple of old Tads — " 

I got no further. That is, in my speech. But 
I did get farther away from them and as quickly 
as possible. Across the street in two jumps and 
through the Common, It was clear sailing till 
I ran afoul of a thousand or two of half -naked 
children playing about the pool, but shucks! 
you should have heard them shout when the 
Tads tried to worry through 'em. A young chap 
this side of forty could dodge through 'em eas- 
ier than a couple of Tads, and the advantage 
I gained thereby enabled me to lose 'em by 
the time I reached the Public Garden, where 



viii FOREWORD 

I boarded a swan-boat, knowing they would 
never think of looking for me on such a craft. 

I only tell you this that you may know that 
it is at no little risk I'm spinning this yam to 
you at all. 




ILLUSTRATIONS 



A YELL FEtOM THS NEGBO SX7DDENLY BBOUGHT THEM 



TO THE HOLE 

The Tads in theib Whebby 
The Key to the Tbeasube 
Chabt of the VmGiN Islands 
Map of Nobman Island 
Old Chabt of the Vibgins 



Frontispiece 
TiHe^'page Vignette 

158 
180 
2S6 




THE GOLDEN PARROT 

CHAPTER I 

It strikes me as rummy that the yam should 
come to me stem first, as you might say; then 
that I should get the fore end of it and, five years 
later, should meet up with the Tads at Thunder- 
bolt where they spun the middle of it in the cozy 
little cabin of the Golden Parrot. I say rummy, 
for why should the yarn come to me without any 
seeking on my part? The more I think of it, the 
more I believe that the doubloons the Tads dug 
up on Noraaan were not those left there by the 
old buccaneer himself, but a picayune cache left 
by some fool upstart of a later day. 

Now imtil I went to sea I was not what one 
would call superstitious. Of course, as a small 
boy I used to go up a dark stairway two steps at 
a time with my spine all akrinkle, and I'd jump 
by black doorways with my weather arm guard- 



2 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

ing and the other ready to strike, and then when I 
had gained my room I would light the gas and 
suddenly turn aroimd to face — what? But all 
that passed away naturally as it should. I'm 
too old now to be afraid in the dark. But hoist 
the blue peter on Friday or carry a priest or a 
minister? Not for me! Others may do it and I 
have, but now I know better. Why? That's not 
for me to say. You may shelve it as coincidence 
or admit as I do that there 's something back of 
it. That's why I call it strange, for I have a feel- 
ing that the shade of old Norman took a friendly 
interest in me the first time I sailed down along 
Ginger and Cooper and Peter in the YahaboOj 
and now, in my little schooner, I seem to hear 
him at night when the wind, coming in on the 
back of the insetting tide, thrums the rigging. 

"You fool, you fool!" he says; "go back some 
moonlight night and let me help you to it!" and 
I start up in my berth with the wind echoing, 
"You fool — you fool!" to the tap-tap of a neg- 
lected halyard on the mast. Perhaps I shall, 
says I, if that's your idea, but you must wait till 
I have spim this yarn; it won't seem long to you 
who have been dead a couple of hundred years or 
more. And, oh, by the way, if you want a little 
nip, I've left the cork out of a bottle of Old 
Rosalie rum so that you can flow right down the 
neck and take what you want if you'll promise 



• * • .: 






« . 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 3 

not to bother me any more till I finish this 
twister. 

To go back to the Yakahoo and the tail end of 
the yarn. I was saUing down Sir Francis Drake's 
Channel, a bit of the Caribbean held like an in- 
land sea between Tortola and the smaller cays 
of the Virgins where the Greater Antilles peter 
out into small fragments, and across the Anegada 
Channel the Leeward and Windward Islands 
take up the march of the West Indies from Yu- 
catan to Trinidad. The Yakahoo was a pretty 
little deep-sea sailing canoe, and it may be that 
old Norman's ghost took such a fancy to her when 
he saw her on the beaches at night, that he 
worked things my way, so to speak. Call it co- 
incidence if you like, but the yarn 's a fact. And 
unlike most other spinners of treasure yarns I '11 
show you the islands where it all happened ex- 
actly as they are on the Government chart. Of 
course, I can't have a lot of you pestering me 
when I have to be looking after a hundred and 
one jobs on the ship; and this, by the way, is the 
only reason why I 'm setting it all down on paper. 

I had loafed down from Virgm Gorda that 
morning and as the trade began to die with the 
day I sailed into a little cove on the north of 
Peter — the one with the cross just outside to 
show that here lies a rock — and dragged the 
Yakahoo high and dry on the beach. I was alone. 



4 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

I thought, and had started my customary search 
for a bit of firewood when a negro stepped out of 
the brush. He was a typical beach native, with 
an erect body carried on legs that never straight- 
ened out from a habit of much beach walking, 
which gave the peculiar effect of a marionette 
traversing a stage and somewhat affected by 
Dandy's disease. His bleached shirt showed a 
liberal area of deep mahogany chest and his 
faded dungarees, tied around his middle with a 
piece of grass fish-pot line, himg down like a pair 
of inverted wind-sails. His feet, almost a para- 
graph in themselves, spread fanlike from horny 
cracked heels to a straight line at the forward end 
where the small toes sprouted like baby potatoes 
slightly elongated. The great toes, instead of 
following the line of the instep, were sprimg 
athwart like thumbs and seemed almost prehen- 
sile. J^They were beach feet and would never know 
any shoe but one of extraordinary dimensions. He 
took me in curiously through brown doggish eyes 
set wide apart; I should have said he might have 
been anywhere from thirty to fifty years of age. 
" Good ev'nin', marster," he began. "I see you 
cumin' 'roim' Duchess (Dead Chest) an' I cum 
to enquiah ef you like spen' de night in de wil- 
lige?" pointing across the cove to a small pen- 
insula which ran out to the northwest. "Jes' 
ovah de Ian'." 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 



(6 



No, Friday — think I'll stay here to-night," 
My name John, sur — John Smith, sur." 
All right, John. Perhaps I '11 sail around and 
see the village in the morning," and I turned tq 
look for my firewood, 

"Doan you bodder, me carry de wood an' 
ketch de fire." 

When the business of supper was over, the sun 
had gone down over the back of Peter and I set- 
tled into the hollow of an outcropping rock to 
wait for the new moon crescent to rise up from 
behind Virgin Gorda and take her place in the 
starry night. Tiny surf, hand high, broke with 
Lilliputian crash and left fleeting tracings of its 
measured reach in phosphorescent lace. A bri- 
gand barracuda lazily cruised with lucent wake 
where the tide current swirled close to the steep- 
to beach. The scraping of a spoon foretold the 
end of a mess of peas and rice. The last drops of 
a pail of chocolate made their exit in a liquid 
sigh — indrawn. 

"Now, wash the pails, John, and be damn 
careful to scour the black off the bottoms." 

There had been no conversation while I ate, 
but that damn had somehow broken the spell. 
You goin' to Norman?" ventured the native; 
nobody lib dere — you look for sumpin'?" 
Yes, but if you mean Spanish gold, you're 
on the wrong lay. K I knew where treasure was 






6 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

buried on Norman, I would n't advertise it by 
coming in this way." 

"Da's roit, sur. You go in de night an' sleep 
in de bush in de da'. But dey wuz sumpin' on 
Norman an' — " and he was off, 

" You hear 'bout de li'l' 'merikin schooner wid 
de two ole men, wat cum down an' sail 'roun' 
jes' like you, an' den sail 'way? 

"LiT ting, t'irty ton, an' she anchor one 
ev'nin' off de landin' at Roa'town, 

"*Las' port Sain' Thomas,' sez dey, w'en de 
ha'bber-master cum 'longside an' dey give him 
de bil-a-helt, * T'aat we 'd cum here f o' a li'l' 
fishnin'.' " 

There were five of them, I gathered, two old 
men with a crew of two sailors and a cook. The 
old men had asked for a guide who knew the 
channels and the "fishnin"' groimds, and the 
Government doctor had recommended one Wil- 
liam Penn from Salt Island. For a week they had 
sailed and fished, returning each night to Road- 
town. Then one day the old men said good-bye 
to the Commissioner and cleared for the high 
seas. They would put Penn ashore on Salt as 
they passed out, they said. But instead of land- 
ing the native that evening, they kept out to sea 
till the sun had set and then ran down to Norman 
with all speed. John Smith had watched them 
with his own eyes as they hauled up for Salt and 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 7 

lay to in the cove without making any pretense 
of communicating with the shore, and then fell 
off and ran out to sea. As to what happened 
at Norman, William Penn was strangely silent, 
and by the time Government ears had become 
attuned to the murmur of rumors, Penn, it 
seemed, had flown. The meager fact remained, 
however, that in the wee light of the next morn- 
ing the schooner had sneaked up under the lee 
of Salt and, to quote John Smith, who had been 
night fishing along the rocks, "Dey Ian' he an' 
square away she an' dat wuz de las' me see ob 
aher 

There it began. The next day I sailed for 
Norman, fpr I did have a little business of my 
own on the island, but as ill-luck would have 
it, an attack of sun drove me back to Tortola. 
Heeding the warning of the Government doctor, 
I was taken to Saint Thomas, whence I sailed for 
home on the next north-bound steamer. John 
Smith and his story became mere privates in 
the army of my Caribbean memories and for the 
time were forgotten. 

Then I got the fore end of it. I had been spend- 
ing the day in an alcove in Barton. Barton, if 
you must know, is one of those special retreats 
in the Public Library of Boston where the sup- 
posedly elect may cloister himself for terrific lit- 
erary effort with nearly a million books at his 



8 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

command. I might almost have said, at her com- 
mand, for at the time there seemed to be a pre- 
ponderance of women; some, young students 
from a near-by college, I was told; some, club 
women, ballooning their minds in a short after- 
noon with the wisdom of a lifetime to be con- 
densed into florid sentences in a paper that would 
take half an hour in the reading; and some, Grub- 
Streeters — poor literary scavengers hovering 
like hungry gulls continually scanning the sea of 
literature for any small tidbit which might be 
snatched up for a paragraph or a column in the 
daily papers or even a story in a popular mag- 
azine. While there is life and hope there will al- 
ways be the people of Grub Street even when the 
name has long been erased by the flavous civiliza- 
tion to come. 

Outside, the day was utterly cheerless. Through 
a rectangle of gray sky over the courtyard a cold 
autumnal drizzle fell in myriad streaks which the 
eye could- only detect by focusing on the wall op- 
posite. Each drop as it passed downward con- 
tributed its infinitesimal bit of reflected light 
which came dead and spiritless through the high 
windows of the alcoves. It seemed amorphous 
and incapable of casting shadows. At the table 
in the adjoining alcove a ponderous woman sat 
stiff-backed in her chair reading a ponderous 
volume, the " Epic of Saul, '" over a high-terraced 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 9 

bosom that seemed not to move with breath. 
Perhaps those lungs had given up muscular ac- 
tion for the time and, by some strange process of 
osmosis, fresh air was reviving the old. I found 
myself wondering what travail was going on in 
the mmd behind her large, expressionless face. 
She had sat there for hours, making no movement 
but occasionally to turn a page. She was a slow 
reader. There had been no shifting of position 
from the small agony of concentration. Her brow 
remained smooth. She fascinated me. At length 
her senses recorded the failing of the light outside 
and she automatically reached up to turn the 
switch of the desk lamp. It was then that I made 
out the "Epic of Saul," for she held the book 
nearly perpendicular to the table. I began to 
speculate as to how long the woman would sit 
there. Did she have a home and children and a 
hungry husband to look after? She was too well 
fed for Grub Street; her digestion, I judged, must 
be vulgarly eflScient. What would ever uome of 
this reading the "Epic of Saul"? That potential 
form must have brought forth children; why, 
then, in the name of Heaven was n't she at home 
looking after her business? You see, I had long 
since left off carefid reading and now returned to 
my book lazily scanning page by page in ad- 
vance. Of a sudden my eye fixed its gaze on a 
certain paragraph, and I read the words Peter* 8 



10 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

Island. I braced up to the table and switched on 
my own Ught. 

"In May (1806)," I read, "the author,^ with a 
party, visited Peter's Island, one of those which form 
the bay of Tortola, a kind of Robinson Crusoe spot, 
where a man ought to be farmer, carpenter, doctor, 
fisherman, planter; everything himself. The owner's 
house has only the ground floor; a roof of shingles 
projects some six or eight feet beyond the sides, like 
a Quaker's hat; not a pane of glass in the house; 
merely shutters for the apertures. In the centre of 
the drawing-room or hall, or best room, were triced 
up ears of Indian com; on a chair lay a fishing net; in 
one comer hung another; a spy glass, fowling piece, 
chairs, lookiQg-glass, and pictures of the four sea- 
sons, composed the furniture; the library consisted of 
a prayer-book, almanack, and one volume of the 
Naval Chronicle. On the left hand was a room, with 
a range of machines for extracting the seeds from 
the cotton. Round the house were abundance of 
goats, turkeys, fowls, a bull, cow, pigs, dogs, and 
cats. The house was situated to make a man feel its 
comforts whenever the weather was bad; on an in- 
ferior emminence, commanding a view of the bay, a 
musket-shot from the precipice. 

"The old gentleman was dressed in a large broad- 
brimmed white hat which appeared to have been in 
use for half a century; a white night-cap covered 
his bald head; his blue jacket had lappels buttoned 
back; his duck waistcoat had flaps down to his knees; 

^ Capt. Thomas Southey, B.N., brother of the poet. SouUhey'a 
Chronidea^ vol. m, p. S61. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 11 

the trousers were of the same material as his waist- 
coat. Negro girls, five or six years old, were nmning 
about without any fear of spoiling their frocks — they 
were quite naked. *We should think this an odd 
sight in England, Sir/ *0h we cover the Whites 
always, and the Mulattoes; but we should have 
enough to do to cover these,' was his answer. But 
though naked, they appeared healthy and cheerful. 
" The man leading this isolated life, with only his 
old wife, who looked more like an Egyptian mummy 
than any thing human, was worth £60,000 sterling. 
... he had lived twenty years on that small island, 
and twenty upon Tortola . . ." 

Ye gods ! A flood of recollections swept off the 
woman and her bosom and her volume, and the 
spell of the tropics came back to me from the 
warm glow of the light over my head. The breath 
of romance was mingled with the book odor from 
the musty volume under my nose. I fancied I was 
once more inhaling the deceptive apple-scent of 
the poison manchioneel on hot sands. I was on 
the beach again at Peter's and John Smith was 
talking to me as I sat and smoked. The native 
had also recounted the legend of the old man of 
Peter, and now I was reading about him, the 
old man, from a printed page before my very 
eyes. When I had finished reading, I remembered 
how John Smith had told me that the old man of 
Peter had gone into even greater seclusion on 
Norman presumably after his wife's death, and 



12 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

he had Kved on the pirate's island the rest of his 
days, a hermit- 

And then I bethought me of the story of how 
Norman had been named. This the Commis- 
sioner himself had told me the evening I had re- 
turned from Norman. This also I found in print, 
the day following, for, you see, I was going 
through things West Indian with a fine-tooth 
comb — but not for treasure. The spirit of old 
Norman himself popped them at me, of that I 'm 
certain. On that rainy day when I was pawing 
over Southey he must have fretted and fumed in 
this manner: "By the Holy Virgin! Will you 
never get over gazing at that fat wench and come 
to page 361? What the devil do you care for the 
*Epic of Saul'? Get back to your reading, con- 
found you! Now weVe come to the page! For 
the love of Drake and Hawkins, don't go by!'' 

But he did not have to fume the next day, for 
I was more careful in my reading, and when I took 
up a thin little volume,^ I was sensible of his 
presence at my elbow. "Ah, now you are coming 
close aboard and you '11 see it in print. You see, 
I really did leave treasure on Norman and if you 
only had sense enough to go down there again 
and try by moonlight . . ." And then, to be sure, 
I foimd it. 

^ Letters from the Virgin Islands (1843), p. 243, in which this 
is stated as oommon knowledge. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT IS 

"Norman, a bucanier, separating himself from his 
associates then in force at Anegada, had settled, 
with his portion of the general booty, on this key. 
The exclusive claims of Spain to the whole of Amer- 
ica, insular and continental, had led, as is weU known, 
to a war of atrocious reprisals between that nation 
and the other European adventurers. The relative 
position of the parent states in no way aflfected this: 
there was never peace beyond the line! The Spanish 
guard acostas continued actively engaged; their or- 
ders being to sink, bum, and destroy all they met 
with. ... In a conflict of this kind Norman and his 
followers perished, — not, however, until they had 
deposited their hoard in that common strong box, 
the earth. These premises our friend holds as in- 
controvertible, the where alone remaining." 

So now you have the two ends of it, as I had it 
long before I came across the Tads and got the 
belly of the yam. 




CHAPTER II 

Richard Hewes sat up in his bed, sniffing the 
air with funny little twitchings of his old tobacco- . 
steeped nostrils, like a bunny pausing on the 
trail of a cabbage somewhere up wind. Then he 
got up and went to the window. 

Spring had come overnight. For months a suc- 
cession of gales and half-gales, brewing in the 
northwest and then quickly shifting to easterlies, 
had swept Boston with a raw atmosphere of salt 
air. Now — late in May — the guilty baggage 
had sneaked in upon the sleeping town which 
awoke to find her still puffing from her exertions 
— only they called it the southwest wind. And 
to show that she was in earnest and had come to 
stay, there was her fluffy white lingerie all strung 
out over the blue sky for the sun to bleach. 
Through open doors and windows she impishly 
whisked her breath of warming earth and new 
vegetation, advertising her presence with her 
perfume like any patchouli-scented wanton. 

" By Gorry ! " admonished the old man, "you 're 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 15 

late, to be sure — now see if you can't stay 
around awhile/' and he drew in a deep breath as 
though he had caught some scented line she had 
thrown him and were coiling down the slack of 
it in his lungi^. 

Two or three times, while he was dressing, he 
started to pucker his lips, but managed to stop in 
time, remembering that it was bad luck to whis- 
tle before breakfast. This day he wanted alLthe 
luck that was possible. But he conversed aoout 
her to himself and to the colored elevator boy as 
that dignitary piloted him down through a suc- 
cession of breakfast odors to the first floor, and 
he even paused for a moment at the top of the 
short flight of steps outside to reprove a brace of 
unsexed brownstone lions guarding the entrance. 

"Tut, tut!" he scolded, following their gaze 
to an upper window across the way — and he 
left them to their shameless contemplation of a 
certain young lady in charming negligee. 

"This is great!" he kept muttering to himself, 
sniffing his way, as you might say, around the 
corner to Berkeley, where like the Englishman 
and the dog he stuck to the sunny side of the 
street. 

The tide of habit carried him to Boylston and 
into the Oaken Grove Restaurant, or the Open 
Grave as he had come to call it, where he paused 
near the table of a honeymoon couple from^ 



16 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

Brockton who were reveling in "Combination 
No. 6'* — "Fruit," a measly orange or a limp 
banana; "Cereal," a dab of gummy oatmeal or 
a lone shredded wheat biscuit with a couple of 
china thumb-caps of bluish milk; "Ham or 
Bacon and Eggs"; "Tea or Coffee and Rolls." 
What the devil did you expect even in those days 
for forty cents? 

"No! by Gorry" — he addressed the air about 
him to the astonishment of the couple from 
Brockton — "I'll have a real breakfast," and he 
walked out again. " Grapefruit with sherry in it 
at the Thorndike and two shredded wheat bis- 
cuits, even if I have to pay thirty cents for 'em. 
I'll make 'em give me plenty of real cream!" 

"Old Hewes" breezed into his office half an 
hour late. The first breach of discipline in aU 
his working days. 

"Just called you up, sir," said his book- 
keeper. "Thought you might be sick. Mr. Ben- 
nett is coming at ten for that deed." 

Richard removed his hat and took a step to- 
ward the coat closet. Then he stopped in the 
middle of the floor, turned to his bookkeeper, 
and put on his hat again. The click of a type- 
writer came through the open door of an ad- 
joining room. 

"How long have you been with me now, 
Clausen?" he asked the palish young man whom 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 17 

you would have difficulty in picking out in a 
crowd and who might be anywhere from twenty- 
eight to thirty-five years of age. 

"Sir? — Oh, eight years, Mr. Hewes." 

** Thought I saw you and Miss Burke at 
Keith's last night," questioned his employer 
regarding him shrewdly. The click of the type- 
writer stopped for a moment and then continued 
more deliberately, like the pecking of a hen after 
only the choicest bits. 

" Why — yes, sir." What the deuce had gotten 
into the Old Man, who had come in half an hour 
late and was how asking personal questions. 

"YouVe a pretty good idea as to how I run 
things." Richard was stiU scrutinizing that face 
intently. Miss Burke must have come upon a 
snarl in her notes, for the clicks now came very 
slowly. "Well, then, tend to Mr. Bennett your- 
self," and he faced about and walked out of his 
office. 

" Hope the young fool catches on," he grumbled 
as he stepped out on the sidewalk again. "What 
a day!" 

I have an idea, somehow, that the "young 
fool" did catch on, for when Mr. Bennett entered 
the office some twenty minutes later, the book- 
keeper came from the inner room a bit more hur- 
riedly than was his wont, and, as he motioned his 
client to a seat, the machine resumed its clatter 



18 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

at a furious rate. But this sort of thing has little 
place in our yam and we '11 leave it to take care 
of itself, like any active culture of bacilli. 

The morning throng had now given place to 
the casuals of early forenoon. And strange to 
say, these began to have a depressing eflFect 
upon the old man. He was not used to walking 
in their company. His conscience seemed to be 
telling him of something he had forsaken; that 
he ought to be back in his office, bending over his 
desk in that attitude which suggested the grind- 
ing of his little mill; and for a block or two he 
seemed to be stemming the reaction from his 
cheerful uprising and the holiday breakfast at 
the Thomdike. As he looked about him — for 
he always held his head erect however his spirits 
might be — oflBce windows bearing the names 
of those who were somewhere behind them, 
grinding righteously, frowned down at him; their 
letters seemed to form into accusing questions. 
It was only Habit, of course, tugging somewhere 
inside him, it seemed to be at his heart — per- 
haps he had been foolish in taking that extra cup 
of delicious coflFee which had wound up his pran- 
dial spree. As suddenly his mood changed when 
he swung into the busier whirl of Newspaper Row; 
here bulletin boards gave him fresh thought — 
there was something going on in the world out- 
side those mills where men bent over desks and 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 19 

ground. Spring and Adventure were having a 
battle royal with Habit and Doubt — Con- 
science was now leaning through the ropes — 
and Spring and Adventure were having the best 
of it. Richard tacked through the gapmg crowd 
and dove into one of those capillaries through 
which the Bostonian is so fond of leading be- 
wildered strangers. 

It bore a name, this byway, but few troubled 
to look for the sign to learn what it might be. 
Richard merely remembered it by a sense of lo- 
cation, and then sought a certain doorway just 
beyond a basement where the wide window of a 
locksmith's shop displayed innumerable keys in 
the blank, festooned on a sagging wire like pool- 
room markers. Some three feet below the foot- 
way a figure bent over a vise, filing keys with 
patient forward strokes — he, too, was grinding 
at his mill. The building next to the locksmith's 
had no elevator, and we shall have to follow Old 
Hewes up the narrow stairway from floor to 
floor, or rather from gas-jet to gas-jet, past the 
door of a dealer in old silver; a hatter's, where the 
yoimg nobleman in the fashionable shop sends 
your old fedora to be cleaned and have a new 
band put on it — the rents are getting cheaper; to 
the topmost landing where one read the legend : 
"Wm. Baxter, Commercial Artist." Somewhere 
on the doorpost is a porcelain push-button, but 



20 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

the light is so dim that unless you look for it you 
will knock on the panel as did Richard. With a 
"Hey, William!'* he pushed open the door and 
stepped inside. 

From the bare landing, which would remind 
you of a North End tenement but for its want of 
the odor of boiled cabbage and fried fish, you 
step directly upon a thick carpet whose color 
escapes you, for your eyes immediately fasten 
themselves on an old black-walnut double bed- 
stead against the far waU and laid over with a 
wine-colored counterpane. Then the room seems 
to expand aroimd you, for it extends the full 
width of the building and has two large dormer 
windows through which you see the roof edges 
across the way, with squares of blue sky above. 
Your eyes feast on the claret counterpane again 
and wander to a mahogany highboy from which 
a small Clytie, exquisitely done in snowy marble, 
smiles down at you. Continuing their survey 
they take in a funny little cabinet with glass 
doors that jealously guard some of WiUiam's 
most cherished possessions, a small tin cup, 
battered but not rusty, a plug of tobacco, Uke 
some ancient black tile, some brass buttons, and 
a fatigue cap. There is another cabinet, of some 
dark wood with many shallow drawers, which 
upon further acquaintance you would find to 
contain a not indiflPerent collection of coins and 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 21 

• 

medals. In the near wall — across from the foot 
of the bed — is a small black iron fireplace with 
its grate fiUed with cannel-coal, wood and paper 
under it ready for the match. On either side of 
the grate are a couple of deep, leather-uphol- 
stered chairs — worn shiny from the sitting in 
them of many years. One William had always 
used. The other — has been Richard's for the 
last thirty. There are other pictures, but you 
only take note of the portrait of a yoimg woman, 
hung over the fireplace, and you wonder if whUe 
reading in bed, the artist does not often lay 
aside his book and talk to her with his eyes. But 
the room impresses you as neither a sleeping- 
chamber nor parlor, but the place where the 
artist lives in his freer hours with his most in- 
timate belongings about him. 

"Hello, Richard! That you?" came from an 
adjoining room. 

It was Richard who always came and found 
William puttering in the far end of his abode, 
and their greeting was always the same. But 
this morning there was a diflFerence in the in- 
tonation of those last two words. Never before 
had Richard come at this hour, for it had always 
been after the day's work was finished that these 
two had met, or on a Sunday morning in summer 
at the boat-house at the foot of Mount Vernon 
Street, with a small package of sandwiches in one 



22 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

pocket and an orange bulging in the other, for 
an all-day pull in a double wherry. But this 
morning was diflPerent from the rest. "That 
you?'' implied, "Can it really be you?" 

"Thought you'd be around to-day," the voice 
continued; "put oflP a man who wanted some 
sand dunes for a blotter — wondered how I 
guessed he was in the grocery business." Then 
followed the sound of brisk steps, and the artist 
came into the room and taking Richard's hand 
jerked it up and down in aflPectionate greeting. 

And now that we have our two old Tads to- 
gether, let's have a good look at them. Richard, 
in his sixtieth year and clean-shaven, was the 
boy of the two; in his face there were none of 
those sagging lines one so often sees in men who 
have worn beards, to betray that he might be a 
year over forty. Of average height, there was 
that in his bearing — an eternal spirit of youth 
— which made you feel that should you handle 
him roughly you might get your share in return. 
Not that he was the aggressive sort, but in the 
depths of his kindly blue eyes there shone the 
source of physical courage. His hair, which he 
parted in the middle, had long since changed 
from the light tow of his youth to a darker color, 
but now a plentiful mixture of silver-gray had 
crept in and blended so evenly that the whole 
seemed to be regaining its youthful shade. His 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 23 

cheeks were ruddy from walking to and from his 
office in aU weathers, the fine tracery of the lines 
which gave them color showed like the red cop- 
per cloisonnee of a seafarer. His slightly aqui- 
line nose seemed to draw his profile forward and 
gave him an expression of eager haste when he 
walked. His chin might almost be said to be 
weak, or at least it lacked that heedless aggres- 
siveness which would have destroyed the idealist 
in him, and we shall come to like him all the 
more for it. 

The artist was of a different mould. One re- 
ferred to hun as "Uttie," but this unpression did 
not come so much from a lack of stature as by 
reason of his smallish head which seemed even 
more diminished in size by a pair of bushy eye- 
brows and a rather full mustache which hovered 
like outstretched wings over his goatee. By vir- 
tue of a strong Yankee accent he had escaped 
being called "Colonel." That is, the nickname 
had never climg to him for any great length of 
time, as you may understand perhaps before the 
end of the chapter. A short, barrel-like body, 
with rounded shoulders, seemed to carry out fur- 
ther this impression of lack in size, despite his 
erect carriage. His passion, like that of Richard, 
was rowing, and in their day both had been fa- 
mous oarsmen. Even now their fame lived with 
them through their long pulls in the double 



24 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

wherry, as attested by frequent write-ups which 
appeared from year to year in the newspapers. 
He was four years older than Richard, but even 
the other day, some ten years later, there was 
nothing of the senile about him and he greeted 
me with the breeziness of a boy of twenty and 
pumped my hand as he did Richard's with the 
mahogany-stained paw of a stevedore. 

"So the day has come at last! Somehow I 
have come to feel that it is n't going to end where 
we think it will — but then you know I always 



was a romancer/' 



For this first warm day of spring had been set 
apart, as you shall hear, and all because on a 
certain Simday, the summer before, a little girl 
had suddenly made up her mind to sit down — 
through the deck of their wherry. 

A wherry, I should explain, is a very light 
skiflF — grandfather to a racing shell, but with 
greater beam and sturdier withal so that it may 
venture from the protected haimts of its more 
thoroughbred offspring to the rougher waters of 
small lakes and harbors. But like the shell it has 
sliding seats and outriggers and its decks are of 
linen only sufficiently framed to keep out the 
saucy tops of naughty little seas. 

I ' ve suspected all along that the old hermit of 
Norman had something to do with it from the 
very start, and some day, when I'm sitting on 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 25 

the aft end of some fluffy little cloud while the 
old boy spins his end of the yam, I'U find out. 
The Tads were ripe for adventure — they had 
been ripening these fifty years or more — and 
it could not have been mere coincidence that 
brought it about. The hermit must have been 
looking for just such a pair, and when he found 
the Tads I know he took a dislike to their 
wherry. 

"Nothin* seagoin' to that craft,*' I can hear 
him say. "Cast y'r beamin' eye on them slidin' 
seats ! Ho ! Ho ! Rum way to pull an oar — un- 
foldin' and foldin' Uke a grasshopper tryin' to 
jump backwards; and them linen decks! But 
I'll fix themr* And he did, or rather he got the 
little girl to do it for him. 

On this particular Sunday morning — the last 
one of August — they had donned their scanty 
rowing attire (I rather hesitate to go into inti- 
mate detail as to their abbreviated pants and 
moth-eaten shirts), and having cocked their 
weather eyes at sun and sky, decided like wise 
mariners that they would pull against the south- 
erly breeze which would freshen in the afternoon 
to help them on their return. So, having tucked 
their luncheons imder the after deck, they set 
out; gave up their Sunday contribution, a plug of 
tobacco which they handed to the lock keeper, 
and rowed out from the basin and under the low 



26 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

railroad bridges to the open harbor where they 
laid their course, dodging tugs and ferryboats 
like a crazy, four-legged water-spider, and 
through the fleet of small craft sailing out of 
Dorchester Bay, to the freer waters of the south 
channel. Noon found them seated by the edge 
of a shady grove on Peddock's with the wherry 
drawn up on the beach below them. 

All was peace and quiet and they had stowed 
their sandwiches in their respective mid-sections 
when the strains of "Ev'ry Day '11 be Sunday 
By and By" filtered through the trees from the 
other side of the island. This comforting selec- 
tion, they learned in due time was rendered by 
the beer- and pickle-gorged band of the Eureka 
Social and Benefit Club ; and not inappropriately, 
for did it not give promise of continued sociability 
to those members who had already gone before 
and been benefited by a glorious send-oflF with 
solid silver trimmings and wreaths of immor- 
telles? But we are digressing and perhaps 
philosophizing. 

Not long after the band had removed their 
tunics and collars and laid down to well-earned 
rest, a vagrant little miss popped out of the 
woods, not far from where the Tads had com- 
posed themselves to the delights of tobacco, and 
sighting the stretch of smooth, sandy beach, 
raced down to the water's edge. Her straight 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 27 

little legs spoking from her diminutive dress 
and the inquisitive tilts of her head as she in- 
vestigated the beach gave her the appearance of 
a sandpiper hunting for bugs. Then she spied 
the wherry and ran to inspect it. But the 
feminine mind is only passing curious when it 
comes to boats and she suddenly made up her 
mind to take off her shoes and stockings. Where- 
upon she turned and sat — through the deck of 
the wherry ! 

When the members of the Eureka Social and 
Benefit Club debouched that night from the 
Harriet S. on the landing at City Point, they 
were followed by two dejected old men in row- 
ing-shirts and very commodious trousers — for 
the captain and the engineer were both ponder- 
ous as well as obliging men — who, after placing 
their wrecked wherry in the care of the boatman 
till a wagon should call for it, slunk off across the 
arc-lighted roadway and disappeared through 
the bushes of the parkway. 

In this manner had the hermit sown the seed. 
For over a quarter of a century the Tads had 
cruised about in their wherry without accident. 
Now had come a disaster which might easily 
happen again. To their troubled minds it seemed 
that wherever they might land in the future, the 
devil, in the form of a little girl of sudden move- 
ments, would always be lurking to wreak ven*- 



28 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

geance on their decks. So ran their fiendish 
thoughts as they silently padded homewards 
along darkened and less frequented streets. 

When the wherry was at last returned from the 
builder who had repaired her decks a raw Sep- 
tember had set in, and soon after the boat-house 
was closed for the winter. 

"We ought to have wooden decks on her," 
suggested Richard one evening when they were 
sitting by the cozy fire m the artist's room. 

"J'(i like to have a deck we can walk on," 
answered William. 

"Yes. Plenty strong— " 

"Oh, I don't mean the wherry; we ought to 
have a boat; a good-sized one that we could 
spend our Saturday afternoons and Sundays on," 
and he got up and took the spear from the hand 
of a small figure of Jason and used it in his pipe 
as a cleaner — which it was — watching for the 
eflFect of his bombshell on the artist. 

Through the winter the idea had grown, fed by 
many fireside talks. From a small boat with a 
cuddy in which they could sleep of a night, it 
expanded to something of comfortable size 'in 
which they might spend their entire summer — 
towed to some quiet harbor where they could 
row and fish and go ashore to forage for fresh 
milk and eggs as an excuse to stretch their legs 
over country roads and through shady wood- 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 29 

lands. Knowing the hermit, or I might better say 
his rascally old ghost as I do, I '11 bet he chuckled 
a bit at this piece of idealism. "Shady wood- 
lands, my wes'kit! It's coco-palms and sea- 
grapes I'll be fetchin' you through." 

Strangely enough it was the younger, Richard, 
who first broached this ultimate plan, possibly 
because his life had been the more confining of 
the two. Each, in his small way, had prospered 
and was now comfortably independent. The 
thought had set them to dreaming and they 
came to hope that perhaps they might spend the 
rest of their lives together — but being wise in 
their years neither gave voice to this thought. 
They would wait till spring — the first warm day 
— and then go a-hunting along the boat-yards 
for some old craft, and then, if they got through 
the summer together without quarreling — there 
might be other summers. 

How interesting it would be could one trace 
the lives of two such old Tads who had been 
friends almost from their boyhood and see what 
had brought them together or tended to keep 
them apart. If, for instance, to our detached 
eyes they left a spider's thread behind them as 
they went through life so that we could plot their 
paths. 

The blue line, that of the artist, would begin 
in a little town in New Hampshire and then 



80 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

wander down to Boston and to Cambridge where 
it would hover for two years and suddenly dive 
down into the Confederate States where at one 
point — it was Antietam, I believe — it would 
become very faint for a time, and then regaining 
its vigor would return to Cambridge at tiie end 
of the war. Here it would cross the red line of 
Richard, which had been more steady in its 
course from South Boston where it had started 
some sixteen years before. They met as Senior 
and Freshman. It was hero worship on one side 
and the fact that Richard's uncle owned a small 
sloop on Dorchester Bay — it was called Old 
Harbor in those days — on the other, and from 
that time the two lines lay very close to each 
other till the artist married and then Richard. 
For a time they saw little of each other, and even 
after Richard's sorrow the lines remained more or 
less apart till at last he fell into the habit of 
spending many peaceful evenings at the home 
of his friend. Fate, somehow, seemed to have 
chosen these two to live the greater parts of their 
lives in singleness, however, for it was not long 
after that the artist's wife died and the two men 
found themselves linked by a common bond — 
the loss of that larger life which had been denied 
them both. They had not married again. That 
had come into their lives and gone out again like 
a sweet dream, and for the past thirty years the 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 81 

( 

two lines had traveled unwaveringly, very close 
together. Now, perhaps, they would continue, 
into the back waters of life till they should grow 
paler and paler and at last become indistinguish- 
able to the human eye. 

And now that we've overhaided om* gear, let's 
give the Tads a fair wind and follow in their 
wake. 

" Where to? " asked the artist, as they clattered 
down the stairs. 

"Let's try Lawley^s first.'^ And busy with 
their own conjectures they made their way to 
the South Station. 




CHAPTER III 

One would, of course, call it love at first sight, 
but you can saw oft me wooden leg if that med- 
dling old hermit did n't have his hand in it, Uke 
the wraith of a bit of obeah. There was an influ- 
ence, hardly uncanny, calculating, perhaps, which 
seemed to draw the Tads to the old schooner 
from the very first. They even remarked upon it 
one evening while they sat before the grate in the 
artist's room. Little need for the fire, but by 
some mutual premonition that it might be a long 
time before they would again enjoy its cozy glow, 
the artist had lighted the paper under the grate 
and the two sat in shirt-sleeves with doors and 
windows open to the balmy night. They had 
visited other yards and seen many boats, but of 
these there remained oiJy fleeting impressions. 
None appealed to them as did the Golden Parrot, 
and they fell to making all comparisons with 
respect to the old schooner to which they referred 
as she or her. 

"Queer," began the artist, "when we turned 



THE GOLDEN PARROT SS 

to look back at her from the dock/ that bow of 
hers seemed to beckon to us — can't you imagine 
a clipper-bow beckoning, Richard?" 

"She did," nodded the other; "and there was 
something about her that tried to say, * Take me 
off the hands of the Guinea — I 'm good for many 
years to come/ " 

** Golden ParrotJ** murmured the artist; "what 
a name for an old yacht ! Somehow I ' ve come to 
think of 'em as beautiful coryphees made for 
wealthy men to take the first bloom out of and 
then let go to the next man who takes his toll till 
they end up in the scrap-heap." 

"My Lord! William, you're getting senti- 
mental," put in the other who would not admit 
that he too, perhaps, might have the same fail- 
ing. 

"Guess it must be the spring air." 

"Or something," concluded Richard. 

The Tads were not the only ones in quest of 
boats on that first spring morning. There was 
the yacht-broker they had consulted of drab 
afternoons, with a client in tow carefully nursed 
for just such a day as this. "Takes a warm day 
to bring on the fever, like prickly-heat," he had 
said m greeting. And there were others to whom 
the broker had nodded who still showed traces of 
sun and wind that winter had been unable to 



84 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

bleach entirely from their f aces. Here was a new 
fraternity, adventurers all, who carried an at- 
mosphere apart from the people about them and 
yet seemed to include the Tads in mysterious 
ways of its own devising. When the train at last 
came to a stop as a forest of masts and the yellow 
buildings of Lawley's came into view, a small 
army had debouched and formed into a proces- 
sion of twos and threes along the cinder-walk of 
the quiet street bordered with working-men's 
modest homes. All serious of face — for were 
they not on serious business bent? — except 
the Tads who were turning back the pages of 
life to the day dreams of their youth. There 
might have been something pathetic in it were 
they less hale and hearty, and could you have 
seen them walking briskly with heads erect, 
sniflSng the baby spring air, you would have said, 
"Those oldsters will keep on till the south wind 
whisks off their shades in its arms/' 

The street came to an end at a small brick 
building from which a high board fence ran across 
the tongue of land the tip of which the yard 
occupied. Following the others through a gate- 
way the Tads at once stepped from the sleepy 
New England street to the busy activity of the 
yard. Through the open doors of a huge wooden 
shed came the chirp of caulking mallets. From a 
large brick building which they came to know as 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 85 

the steel-shed sounded the feverish rat-tat-tat 
of pneumatic riveters. Crossing an open space 
they passed a brick oven where men were busy 
melting lead for the keel of a dainty "sonder'* 
being rushed through in the small-boat shop. 
Two, with fur coats on their arms, stopped at the 
steel-shed where a shapely counter projected 
high overhead, a work of art in black enamel and 
gold-leaf striping. The broker and his client 
disappeared in a storage-shed where smaller 
craft were huddled like sheep in a fold. As though 
they felt that these would be safe from escape, 
for a time at least, the Tads turned seaward to 
the broad-decked wharves that formed a harbor 
where the larger craft, which had been afloat all 
winter, were kept as in a corral. The tide was in 
and they paused to watch a steam yacht being 
warped into position over a sunken cradle on the 
railway. 

For weeks crews had been busy in the sheds 
scraping and varnishing spars and smaU boats. 
Now the sun had drawn them out like weevils 
from a pan of meal and with the promise of land 
breezes they were removing covers and tarpau- 
lins. Captains and mates, who had cursed the late- 
ness of spring in the warm loafing-room of the Mas- 
ter Mariner's headquarters, were in shirt-sleeves, 
working with their crews. From aloft came the 
rasp of scrapers, where men in bosVs chairs 



86 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

hung like spiders, bringing out the bright yellow 
of hard pine from under the drab coat with 
which they had been slushed in the fall. A new 
yawl, just hatched from the wood-shed, swarmed 
with riggers and crew and fitters working over 
and under each other at seemingly interminable 
tasks which required infinite care and could not 
be hurried. There was nothing new in this to 
the Tads, for they had often visited the yards in 
fitting-out time, but they now beheld it with an 
awakened interest akin to proprietorship. Con- 
tinuing to the outer dock which parallels the 
shore they stopped for a moment to look out 
over the marshes beyond which the City Point 
Life-Saving Station greeted them, a patch of 
white in cheerful contrast to the dingy coasters 
and rusty barges at anchor in the outer harbor. 
Why hasten in their search — all time seemed 
before them. Perhaps they were playing that 
delightful game of the small boy who awakens in 
the long dark hours of a Christmas morning and 
lies for delicious minutes, knowing that he has but 
to crawl out of bed and sneak Uke a thief in the 
night to the room where the presents are laid out. 
From the way in which they were breathing the 
air and swelling their lungs one might think they 
would presently face about and claim any one of 
the largest of the fleet behind them instead of being 
in quest of some old hull to use for a house-boat. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 87 

"Gangway, please!" and they jumped aside 
to allow a troop of Scandinavians — they '11 soon 
come to calling them "squareheads" — to pass, 
swaying under the burden of an immense boom, 
newly varnished, its row of lacing eyes, like 
processes, giving it the appearance of the back- 
bone of some strange marine skeleton. The im- 
portance of the boom lowered their chests a bit. 

"Too grand company for us, Richard," said 
the artist. "Let's walk around and have a look 
at those little fellows over there." They turned 
toward the southern bulkhead where outside the 
basin two small schooners and a yawl were 
moored stern-to. Crews were working on the 
decks of the yawl and one of the schooners, and 
they were evidently Uving aboard, for thin Unes 
of smoke caught the breeze from their galley 
stacks and their cooks were talking across from 
open forehatches. The other schooner showed no 
sign of having gone far into commission, al- 
though her decks were cleared. Smoke was also 
coming from her stack. She was a beamy little 
craft and there was less of the yacht in her ap- 
pearance than in that of her neighbors. Her 
decks were still grimy from a season or two of 
laying-up and her weathered rail cried out for 
the scraper. But there was something of sturdi- 
ness in her appearance which at once appealed to 
the Tads. 



88 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

"Something familiar about this old boat," 
said Richard, stooping down to read the name on 
her counter. 

"Darned if it ain't the old Golden Parrot! ^^ 
he grunted as he straightened up. "Thought I 
knew her, but it 's so many years since I Ve seen 
her that I could n't remember her name." 

Richard's exclamation must have gone down 
through the open hatchway, where a swarthy 
face presently appeared and looked up inquiringly 
at the Tads. 

"Hullo," hailed Richard, "may we come 
aboard?" 

"Sure teeng!" The man came on deck and 
took up a board which he laid across the rail to 
the other schooner which had a gangway to the 
bulkhead. 

"You don't mind our using your gangway?'* 
asked the artist of the captain who looked up 
from his work in the cockpit. 

"Not at all, sir, we always help each other 
out," and then, "Thank you, I'll smoke it after 
dinner," by way of delicate compliment to such 
a gentleman whose cigar must deserve a better 
fate than to be smoked during the mere routine 
of the day's work. 

"She don't seem so much the worse for her 
years," said Richard as they made their way to 
the cockpit; "why, it seems only yesterday that 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 89 

I was a boy at City Point and watched her build- 
ing. Let's see — it must have been about 
'seventy-nine or 'eighty. Lawley had a little 
place on the beach and I believe I would have 
sold my soul to old Nick to own a boat like this. 
Boats were cheaper in those days, but million- 
aires were rarer birds, and I looked upon the 
Golden Parrot as a small ship — what more 
could any mortal ask than such a schooner? I 
remember how the people alongshore began to 
whisper strange rumors about her — she was 
building for an old sea-captain and as soon as 
she was launched she was to be fitted out for a 
long voyage — a cruise for treasure, they said. 
But the old captain died even before he had a 
chance to try her out and she was sold at auction. 
And from that day to this I have n't laid eyes on 
her." 

The swarthy one, suddenly mindful of some- 
thing burning on the galley stove, started down 
the companionway. "You come b'low?" he 
invited. The Tads followed. Did she seem 
weather-worn and neglected on deck, this im- 
pression ceased as they entered the cabin. Here 
the years had done little to dull the finish of her 
woodwork. To the Tads she was fairly pala- 
tial. The cabin seemed immense with its gap- 
ing berths and broad transoms and ample floor 
space. A mahogany buflfet — the whole interior 



40 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

was trimmed in mahogany — with its racks for 
glasses and its mirrored doors lent an air of 
sumptuousness. The stateroom forward of the 
cabin held them for some time while they ad- 
mired the wide double berth, the clothes-press, 
and the desk. One would, of course, need a desk 
on a ship such as this where one could write 
checks at the end of the month and then call in 
the crew to receive their pay. Then, too, one 
must have the yacht's stationery, and of what 
use would the stationery be without the desk? 
The Tads, I should add, aside from the demands 
of business, never wrote letters — there was no 
one to write them to — still they had visions of 
the stationery. A passageway led forward to the 
galley where the swarthy person was busy with 
cooking, which proclaimed its fishy nature by 
the odors that drifted aft into the cabin. Delicacy 
kept the Tads from further exploration and they 
seated themselves on the bare transoms. 

"Might be just the boat for us," said the art- 
ist in a low tone, as he drew forth a long leather 
pouch and proceeded to scoop his pipe into it. 

You lak some feesh?" from the galley. 

No, thanks — we Ve just had a bite," lied the 
artist. He might have added with more truth- 
fulness, "But we have been bitten." 

"Who owns her now?" ventured Richard, 
taking advantage of the openmg. 






THE GOLDEN PARROT 41 

It was the owner who was speaking to them, 
A "Portugee" shore-fisherman from Province- 
town — "Peetown" he called it — he had come 
to Boston the week before and by chance had 
run across the Golden Parrot. He had now fin- 
ished his meal and was seated with the Tads 
contentedly smoking one of their cigars. It was 
a habit of theirs to carry a few five-centers — 
blue smokes — for presentation purposes. This 
may account for the sly smile of the artist when 
the captain of the schooner alongside had de- 
f erred smoking his till after dinner. So you may 
know that the Portugee, Manuel by name — 
they are all Manuel Something-or-other, from 
Peetown — did not rate the Tads as million- 
aires, which might be to their subsequent gain. 
Through the blue haze of his cigar, Manuel told 
them how he would rip out the buffet and put 
the gaUey stove in its place; here he would live 
with his boy. Forward of the cabin would be the 
fish-hold. Out would come the double berth in 
the stateroom, clothes-lockers, desk — "de whole 
shooterie'' — all would be torn out, leaving 
nothing but the flooring and sheathing. The sky- 
light on deck would be replaced by a heavy 
hatch. 

"What a pity! to tear out all this bully ma- 
hogany," said Richard; "there seems to be some 
life in the old ship yet." 



42 THE GOLDEN PARKOT 

"Sure teeng, she soun', she mak' fine feesh- 
boat," took up Manuel, to whom mahogany 
meant nothing when it stood in the way of a 
cargo of fish. 

"Too dam bad we did n't come down sooner, 
she might have suited us," added the artist 
specidatively. 

"She good boat aki'; mabee I sell," challenged 
the Portugee, who began to have visions of a 
profitable tum-over on his investment. 

And so, through the offices of the broker, the 
Tads became the proud owners of an old schooner 
yacht. 

That is, they owned her by virtue of having 
paid for her, but little by little she began to ex- 
ert her wiles upon them, as you shall learn, by 
that feminine method of constant, impercept- 
ible pressure often misnamed grace, or charm, 
or -presence — depending upon whether a woman 
is beautifid, or intellectual, or merely strong- 
minded. Not being a woman, the Golden Parrot 
was neither intellectual nor strong-minded, and 
as for beauty, one might call her good-looking 
in a buxom, old-fashioned way. But she was 
feminine. She began on the very day the Tads 
took official possession. Manuel had cleaned 
his pots and pans for the last time, rolled up his 
blankets, taken his nickel watch from the nar- 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 43 

row shelf over the pipe-berth and called down 
a last " Goo' luck '' from the bulkhead. The Tads 
stood in the cabin, for all the world like a newly 
married couple surveying their first bare apart- 
ment. In their hearts they were saying, "Now 
we Ve done it — she's ours/' when a passing tug 
trailed a platoon of waves which caught the old 
schooner bow on. 

"She's pitching, by Gorry!" and as they 
swayed their bodies to her easy motion they 
sensed for the first time that she was a thing of 
life. Little they knew that this was but the small, 
entering wedge which would eventually wean 
them from long years of land-living and at last 
call them to the open sea. Then, as the motion 
died away, their elation of the moment gave way 
to an anti-climax of bewilderment. Here they 
were, a couple of old landlubbers on a sixty-foot 
schooner demanding a hundred things known 
and the Lord knew how many unknown jobs, 
and for the first time they realized how ignorant 
they were as to what to do or where to begin. 

"Guess we'll need some help," and they went 
to talk it over with the foreman of the yard, 
who promised to set his machinery into motion 
the next morning. Then they returned to the 
schooner. They could at least wash down her 
decks and scrub her out below. The only im- 
plement they could find was a dirty, worn-out 



44 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

broom which Manuel had left in the galley, and 
after throwing it overboard they repaired to the 
locker where the schooner's fittings were stored. 
Here was less encouragement, for deck-buckets 
and coir brooms, it seemed, had a habit of only 
lasting a season. This was explained later when 
they began to hear scandalous tales of certain 
grafting captains. And so they were mtroduced 
to the mysteries of the stock-room where every- 
thing could be obtained from a windlass to 
needles and palms. Here they discovered that 
all charges were made in the name of the yacht 
— it tickled the old Tads, everything in this new 
life seemed to be done differently — real ship 
business, this. No sooner had they begun to 
wash down decks than the captain came aboard, 
and with never a by-your-leave showed them 
how to flip the bucket so that it would strike the 
water head down, and then jerk it full and spread 
its contents on deck without splashing it knee 
high. Then he grabbed the broom before the 
water had escaped through the scuppers and 
showed them how to scrub it sideways so as not 
to break the bristles. 

"Now let's see you do it," he said, jmnping up 
on the forward grating as a measure of safety. 
The artist vowed he would give the captain a 
better cigar the next time. They had barely 
finished their task when the noon whistle blew. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 46 

"My gracious! William, half a day gone and 
we Ve only washed down her decks." 

"Better dry your feet and put on your shoes 
and stockings/' called the captain as they started 
to go below to fetch their luncheon; and then to 
himself, "Guess I'll have to be a reg'lar wet 
nurse to those old boys." 

For their work below decks they bought a 
wooden bucket, into which the captain spUced 
a neat rope handle — no ordinary housewife's 
pail would do the Tads. It was dark when they 
finished and at last made their way through the 
deserted yard on their way to the station. 

The next morning they came down to find the 
schooner taken over by a gang of workmen. Two 
in an old ship's jolly-boat were freeing her anchor 
chains from the dolphins at the edge of the chan- 
nel. This was accomplished chiefly by the aid of 
powerful words, most of them hitherto imknown 
to the Tads. Another stood patiently waiting at 
the windlass to heave in, while a fourth was 
passing a bow line around the yawl in the di- 
rection of the shears at the end of the break- 
water. A tall, simian-limbed pirate by the name 
of "Nick," with a rigger's belt around his mid- 
dle, was unreeving the ropes which held down the 
shrouds, fondly calling them " gol-bloody-stiff- 
lanyards," while a short, stocky man, somewhat 
bow-legged, surveyed the scene from the bulk- 



46 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

head and inquired as to whether this gang of 
spare pump-handles were playing a dang-blasted 
game of checkers or were going to get the old 
wreck under the shears before night. It was now 
seven-thirty. 

Things did move, but whether it was on ac- 
count of the strong language of these strange sea- 
fowl, or by the grace of the Lord who understood 
their harmlessness, I cannot say, for I know very 
little of such matters. Below decks they found a 
pliunber in greasy dungarees sitting on the cabin 
floor cutting out washers from pieces of leather 
like a child playing with paper cut-outs. By 
noon the masts had been lifted out. The bow- 
sprit was allowed to remain, for to remove it 
would spoil her graceful sheer. Before returning 
to their old berth their tanks were filled. What 
a luxury to>ash their hands on board ship in 
their own little basin before they went home. 
"Put towels on your list, Richard,'' said the 
artist, as he shook the drops oflF his hands and 
stropped them dry on his trousers. 

Have you ever passed an old abandoned farm- 
house set back from the road in a yard over- 
grown with weeds and lush grass, and said, "Oh, 
to go back and mow down those weeds, and 
paint those weathered sides, and rip oflF those 
tattered shingles, and make it a home once more ! " 
Old craft, even the most battered hulks that Ke 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 47 

rotting on the beach, have always made that ap- 
peal to me — there is some spark of life in them 
which calls out for the labor of love, even as the 
century-old Spray^ which Captain Slocum so 
patiently rebuilded tiU there scarce remained a 
piece of her ancient timbers, and reborn, she 
cruised four of the Seven Seas. And so it was 
with the Tads who entered into the task of re- 
juvenating the old schooner with a feeling al- 
most Christian in its unselfishness. 

There had been no thought of really going in 
for this new life on the water till the Parrot 
should be ready to leave the yard, and for a while 
the Tads had been content to come down for only 
a part of the day. But their days aboard the old 
schooner grew longer, and at last they arrived 
one morning with bulging suit-cases and a roU of 
blankets. 

"Swelled out like a couple of poisoned pups,*' 
commented the captain, eyeing the suit-cases 
and then the blankets. 

" Better get your mattresses right out and air 
'em all day or you'll be fetching up with a 
couple of fine cases of lumbago." 

As they started to go below Richard all but 
stepped on the back of a mechanic in the act of 
extricating himself from the tiny lazaret where 
the engine skulked behind the companion-steps. 
Having replaced the steps he proceeded to roll 



48 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

up the kit of tools he had spread out on the 
floor. 

"How's the engine?" inquired the artist, 
by way of breaking a somewhat foreboding 
silence. 

"Engine? Wat engine?" 

William peered through the steps to see 
whether in some mysterious manner that piece of 
machinery had taken wings. 

"Oh, it's there all right," said the mechanic, 
prospectively eyeing the plug he had taken from 
his pocket, "but you did n't get no engine when 
you bought this hooker — nuthin' but a stick of 
dynamite '11 make that old mill go." 

There was something in his prickly independ- 
ence which at first irritated the Tads; he was a 
blatant Socialist they learned later — they were 
always learning the why and wherefore of things 
after first acquaintance. Then, by way of soften- 
ing his outburst, he added, "You would n't want 
me to waste my time and your money on it — 
't would n't be honest." 

Manuel's "Goo' luck" came back to them and 
they wondered if he had not meant it to apply to 
the engine in particular. 

It was late in the afternoon when the friendly 
captain found time to help them get their mat- 
tresses and cushions aboard, and after they had 
hung the ciutains and laid the carpets in the 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 49 

cabin and the stateroom, he looked about him 
with an air of approval. 

"Makes a heap of difference getting a little 
stuff aboard, don't it? Why, you would n't want 
anything better 'n this cabin,*^ and they sat down 
to rest from their labors. 

The Tads seemed a bit silent. 

"Good to sit on somethin' soft, ain't it?" pur- 
sued the captain. "Well — ye ain't got some- 
thin' to tell me, have you?" 

"You heard about our engine?" asked the 
artist. 

Till that morning when they first sensed 
motion in the old schooner, they had not seriously 
thought of the engine as being a part of their 
scheme of life. To the Tads the gasoline engine 
was some latter-day profanation which would 
forever be beyond their understanding. And 
besides when they had once been towed to some 
quiet nook, there they should remain till it should 
be time to lay up their water home for the winter. 
But with the pitching, they heard for the first 
time the thump-thmnp of the rudder play, and 
looking up through the companionway they saw 
the wheel jerk ba^k and forth in its sagging 
beckets. A hankering crept down their forearms 
and into their fingers to grasp its spokes. What 
fun, to sit astride that wheel-box and steer their 
little home from anchorage to anchorage — but 



60 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

they had given no voice to this thought, nor had 
they even spoken of the engine to the yard fore- 
man. Then came fate — in the form of the 
Socialist. And now through the captain each 
could best sound the other, and as for the cap- 
tain — he was only a part of the entering wedge. 

"Heave it overboard,'* advised he, "and use 
it for a moorin*. Get the kind the fishermen use 
— nothin' fancy about 'em and they don't cost 
much, and all you have to do is to give 'er 
plenty of oil and gas and she 'U fetch you wher- 
ever you want to go — if you keep a bit of water 
under your keel. 

"Takes a bit of money playin' around with 
boats, though. Some gets oflF easy and some — 
reminds me of a man I was captam with once. 
Nervous as a cat. We did n't dare set foot on 
deck till he got up and we could n't wash down 
till he was eatin' breakfast. At that we had to 
walk around like we all had stone bruises. Could 
n't lie near any of the yacht clubs on account of 
the momin' gun, so we picked out one of the 
quiet coves down East and they was dam scarce 
acause of the lobster-men runnin' 'round without 
mufflers. Somethin' scragged in his top hamper 
and the doctor advised him to try yachtin' to get 
him away from his business and — his friends. 
Guess it was his friends, mostly, for he had a 
funny way of wettin' his lips and lookin' far oflf 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 61 

and hitchin' up his foot like a spavined old horse 
at a cabstand, for he hated water which was the 
only thing he could get. That 'n' milk. Seemed 
to be gettin' better, though, and then toward 
the end of siunmer we ran down to Marblehead. 
His wife went ashore one afternoon and the stew- 
ard saw him go into her stateroom as if he was 
lookin' f or somethin'. Remember that fool story 
about the girl with the sugar lumps and the 
cologne bottle? Well, he'd 'a' found the bottle 
eventual, only in rummagin' in her desk for the 
key, he pulled out a drawer with all the bills 
that had been pilin' up all summer and right on 
top of *em was a whopper from the doctor — big 
enough to buy the schooner all over again, almost. 
Well, it fetched him aback with no hands to man 
the yards, as you might say, and the steward 
caught him as he was keelin' over. Pore fellow, 
he never said a word. The doctor said it was 
hydro-somethin' or other.** 

" Hy dro-financitis, probably," put in the 
artist. 

"Anyway, you Ve got to have lots of money to 
have a disease and go yachtin' at the same time." 

So had the captain been their go-between and 
with buoyant hearts they turned in for their first 
night aboard. They were making a prolonged 
picnic of it — the old siren was drawing them 
deeper and deeper into her sturdy bosom. How 



62 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

the deva can one paint dunes or play with busi- 
ness when one 's thoughts are continually hark- 
ing on problems of much greater moment? 

Then in the smooth waters of the inner basin 
she was hauled out and they raised her boot-top 
and burned the bUstered black paint ofif her top- 
sides. She became a thmg of pride in her new 
dress of white, like any woman who is improved, 
as they all are, by the acquisition of new clothes. 
She became more jaunty, and like any skittish 
old lady who has her dress shortened, just a wee 
bit, she tried to deceive people into thinking she 
had lost some of her embonpoint. 

"Seems glad to be out of her mourning," was 
the way they put it to the men about the yard, 
who were taking a keen interest in these funny 
old men who insisted upon living aboard while 
going into commission. 

There was one, Gustafsen, an old Swede, who 
more and more became a sort of fixture aboard 
the Golden Parrot. Always aboard a few minutes 
before the gang in the morning, he would eat his 
meager luncheon contentedly hunched on the 
forward grating where he sat out his noon smoke, 
shaved from the tarry plug which served in a 
dual capacity, and at night he was the last to 
leave. Ship-work was his religion and he was 
a ship-husband to delight the heart of Marryat. 
He seemed to exist on tobacco, for when he did 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 5S 

not chew or smoke it, he snuffed it from a little 
horn box on a piece of white line around his neck. 
A deep-water sailor, he had gone in at the hawse- 
pipe and but for one occasion he had remained 
a forecastle man. As steam, the hated, silent 
death, gradually took the place of the stately 
caravans of the sea, he had clung to canvas, al- 
ways remaining before the mast, till at last the 
rigors of hard winters on coasting vessels had 
forced him ashore. His ultimate berth would be 
the seamen's home. Now by a stroke of good 
fortune he had a temporary job at Lawley's and 
his furry nostrils scented, perhaps, a berth for the 
siunmer with the Tads. 

I have called him a Swede — and so he was by 
parentage — but from his speech you would 
swear he had only recently come to this country. 
All that which was typical of the Scandinavian 
in him came by strong inheritance — he was 
bom in prosaic Altoona. True to his type, he 
had gone to sea early in his uncle's ship which 
had berthed at Philadelphia and so he came to 
know the land of his forbears. His head and 
hands were those of a man of sixty who has 
known the grief and the toil of the sea, and the 
deep lines in his face were so smoothly cut in a 
skin so clear in its yellow-brown complexion, 
that they seemed the work of a sculptor on a 
waxen image. His erect body, narrow-hipped 



54 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

and almost slim, was that of a trolFs, and had he 
worn a pointed cap one would have taken him for 
one of Peer Gynt's companions of the Erlking's 
palace. It was the clear blue of his keen, brow- 
thatched eyes that most bespoke animation — 
and when you came to know him they would be- 
tray the impishness of his youth. He retained 
the old sea habit of growing a beard in winter to 
protect his throat from the sharp northwesters. 
So the Tads had seen him when they first came 
to the yard, but as the warm breezes thawed out 
his bones he had shaven himself clean and the 
sun melted off his age. He had an almost un- 
canny way of always being where he was most 
needed and he moved about with unlabored gait 
on legs that fitted the curve of the deck like the 
wheels of a peasant cart sprung to the crown of 
old-country roads. 

The ability of true seafarers was his and he 
might have risen to be mate or even captain but 
for the twin calamities of gentleness of soul and 
the doing of his work too well. Captains and 
mates saw in him a good forecastle man and 
had kept him where, after all, he felt most at 
home. He had taught himself navigation, and 
once when a mate had been washed overboard in 
the Florida Straits, he had taken the berth aft. 
But his spirit had rankled in the too intimate 
proximity of an overbearing skipper, and when 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 65 

the coaster had made her home port, he had 
walked ashore with his bag to ship before the 
mast again on another vessel. He is most con- 
tent who knows himself. And somehow the work 
with the Tads was bringing on the old longing for 
the forecastle. In his eyes the Golden Parrot 
was a litUe ship. That foot-high raU, with its 
heavy oak cap which he took so much delight in 
restoring to its old glory of golden amber, was a 
bulwark to the ankle-high rails of the more mod- 
em craft. The staunch crew's hatch — booby- 
hatch he called it — and the large skylight 
amidships were his especial delight, as he brought 
out the velvety red of the Honduras. 
• One day he had ventured to remark that they 
would soon be leaving the yard. So far the Tads 
had given no thought to the hiring of a perma- 
nent hand and that night they talked it over. 
The next day, Richard asked in a casual way if he 
had ever baked bread or biscuits, 

"Oh, yas, I ban cook." 

In the evening, as he was leaving the ship 
Richard called after him, "Oh, Gus!" 

The old Swede had turned his stolid face to- 
ward them and then clambered down the gang- 
way, his heart beating fast under his faded blue 
jumper. 

"How would you like to come with us?*' was 
put to him. 



66 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

His face betrayed no emotion, but there was 
the least tremor in his voice, "Ay tank ve get 
along." And that settled the matter. 

It was well into Jmie when they were at last 
warped out of the now almost empty basin. 
Neither the Tads nor Gus had any knowledge of 
the workings of a gasoline engine, so for a few 
days they would have with them the blatant 
Socialist — the "B. S.*' they called him — who 
had installed a new engine which would feed out 
of their hands, he told them, if they but gave her 
oil'n'gas. 

"You c'n cast oflF when you're ready," yelled 
the B. S. 

Richard took the wheel, the men on the dock 
lifted the lines from off the dolphins, and the en- 
gine belched acrid blue fumes from under the 
stem. "Must be feedin' that enjine with them 
cigars o' theirs," grinned one of the yardmen, 
but not unkindly. The Golden Parrot slowly 
gathered headway while Gus hurried aft to cau- 
tion the skipper in embryo against throwing the 
wheel over too hard lest he scrape her counter 
along the pUmg. It was the Tads' first lesson in 
seamanship. 




CHAPTER IV 

When the moon is full she displays her rotundity 
over a considerable number of degrees of latitude 
— any school-teacher will tell you that even if 
he has n't studied navigation — and she was ap- 
proaching this state when the Tads dropped 
anchor near the marsupial Lif e-Saving Station at 
City Point. But what had the Tads to do with 
the full moon? Nothing, perhaps, except to loaf 
in the cockpit in their long easy-chairs and smoke 
and watch her come up over the smooth back 
of Long Island, and doze till the cool night air 
should at last drive them below. But the moon 
.had something to do with the spirit of the her- 
mit, and old Norman for that matter, and when 
she was full she had a habit of keeping these old 
fellows very busy down at the island as you shall 
learn in time. This may explain, perhaps, why 
the Tads were allowed to remain at anchor for a 
space. At times Richard went to his oflSce to 
advise Clausen in his new capacity — they were 
reluctant visits. And the artist brought out his 



68 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

easel and drawing-board; but, pshaw! The easel 
was always getting in the way and the drawing- 
board was one fine day appropriated by Gus 
who made excellent use of it in rolling out cookies 
and pie crusts — and William's fine brushes were 
just the thing for administering shark-oil to the 
works of the galley clock. 

Then the moon began to wane till at last she 
shone no more, and the hermit whisked north- 
ward one night and blew restless dreams down 
through the open companionway. The next day, 
with her two boats hoisted in their davits like 
a couple of chicks under her wings, the Golden 
Parrot meandered out of the harbor and headed 
for Gloucester. Here she composed herself very 
much as a hen that walks forth of a hot day to 
settle down complacently in the middle of a barn- 
yard for a dust bath. That is, if you can picture 
her as a sort of hybrid fowl having a khaki back 
and a white body, her inquisitive bowsprit the 
amber-colored beak of a pelican with her figure- 
head under it for a pouch. But the old hermit 
would not let them slump into lazy, harbor-loaf- 
ing habits, and they soon found themselves along 
the Maine coast where they cruised eastward 
with increasing delight. Then the fly crept into 
their ointment — a sort of phantom which each 
saw separately, but dared not mention to the 
other. It hovered for the first time over the old 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 59 

schooner on one of those brilliant days of off- 
shore winds when the bite in the cool breeze 
seems to belie the summer which the grassy 
slopes on the fore-shores of the islands proclaim. 

They were headed westward. Ages ago, it 
seemed, although it had been only a few hours 
back, the gurgle of seawater pouring through 
the scuppers and the swish of the coir broom had 
announced the beginning of their day. Oh, there 
is no better alarm clock than the washing down 
of decks in the morning. Then the Tads had 
stuck their heads above the open companionway 
to breathe the crisp morning air, mingled with the 
odor of coffee and bacon which drifted aft to 
them imder the awning. Such a morning calls for 
action, and they had got the Parrot underway 
while Gus finished his work in the galley. But 
that had been ages ago. Now they were chugging 
along comfortably, Gus at the wheel, and the 
Tads stretched out in then- long wicker chairs in 
the cockpit. 

For some time a white patch had been cling- 
ing persistently on the horizon astern. Then it 
began slowly to detach itself from the line of sky 
and water, and Gus, who had been looking aft 
from time to time, broke a long silence. 

"Ay tank she owerhaal us now." 

The Tads sat up to get a better view of her. 
She must be doing ten knots to their modest five. 



60 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

"What is she, Gus?" 
"She ban sloop — look like Awenyer.*' 
They could now make out her immense bal- 
loon-jib, with the peak of her mainsail showing 
above — surmounted by a huge club topsail. 
On she came at an angle that must put her rail 
aboil, her lee bow throwmg a white smother. 
She seemed to be moving in a fixed groove and 
the eye could detect no change in that angle of 
heel nor variation in the mass of foam under her 
bow except that it grew larger as she drew up on 
them. Another moment and she would rim them 
down ! Then Uke a woman of wondrous grace she 
suddenly veered and swept by under their lee, a 
magnificent swishing figure of curving duck, 
diaphanous as it passed between them and the 
sun, rigging taut as draftsmen's lines, topsides of 
eggshell like turned marble, and green crescent 
of underbody. Such a sight the Tads had never 
witnessed close at hand and it brought them to 
their feet like gaping school-boys. They drank 
in every detail, the crew in white jmnpers hunched 
along the weather rail, the figures in the cockpit 
in blue coats and creamy flannels, and the cap- 
tain, lone standing and with feet braced apart, 
at the wheel, his eyes in the sails as though the 
little ex-schooner were but a mere lobster-buoy. 
As she ranged ahead they read Avenger in gold 
letters on her shallow transom. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 61 

The Tads turned their chairs and sat down 
without a word. They dared not speak, for the 
phantom fly had settled down upon them — the 
chug-chug of their faithful Uttle engine began to 
gnaw on them inwardly. It was not speed they 
wished nor shining brass, but — oh! to move 
along silently under press of canvas. Perhaps Gus 
felt it, too, for he instinctively looked aloft as if 
to gauge some imaginary luff, but his gaze only 
met the rebuff of the khaki awning stretched 
overhead. Then he closed one eye as though he 
would concentrate all visual effort through the 
other which he brought to bear first on the back 
of Richard's head and then on William's. At 
last he focused it at the long range of day dreams, 
while the Golden Parrot breasted her way through 
the tiny seas, and had you gone forward and put 
your head over the rail you might have heard 
that old bow talking Dago, gurgling and chuck- 
ling, like some old gaffer communing with him- 
self over some secret bit of fun. Perhaps she had 
some prescience of what was going on in the 
minds of her old skippers, sitting in the cockpit 
and scheming along parallel lines while their 
eyes gave stern chase to the receding sloop. 

A week later the old schooner snooped into 
Boothbay Harbor and came to anchor like any 
barroom loafer, drawn in from the street on the 
tide of his incUnation. 



62 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

"ffod an idea we'd fetch in here one of these 
days," said Richard as he lowered one of the 
dinghies. 

"Me too," chimed in the artist, who, had he 
been less occupied with some thought of his own, 
might have noticed an unusual eagerness on the 
part of his friend. With somewhat guilty shift 
they found their way to the post-oflSce and need 
I say that each found a letter awaiting him? 
And addressed in the old scamp's own hand- 
writing? That's why I called it parallel scheming. 

The artist's — he was careful not to bring it 
into too close range of Richard's vision — was 
from an aged aunt who was about to visit Boston 
and desired to see her nephew on some rather 
urgent business. Richard had an uncertain rec- 
ollection that William had once told him he was 
alone in the world but for a half-brother who had 
settled in the West — Utica or some such place 
— and who he thought must be dead long ago. 
But he did not inquire into the matter, for he, 
too, had received an important communication 
which after a studied reading he made haste to 
stuff into his breast-pocket. 

**But how the devil — " and the artist stopped 
just in time, for how the devil could he explain 
in what manner his aunt had known that he 
might call in at Boothbay? "How the devil shall 
we go down?" 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 63 

"Might as well stick to the old boat and cut 
right across the bay, we'll get there most as 
soon," said Richard; "that is — soon enough 
for me." 

A few days later, after an unusually early and 
hasty breakfast, Gus rowed the Tads ashore to 
the landing at City Point, the same where 
nearly a year before they had left their wrecked 
wherry and slunk off in search of darkened 
streets. On their rim down they had repeiatedly 
taken occasion to voice their disgust at having 
to return to Boston at this time of the year, but 
now, curiously enough, when they were actually 
in the sweltering heat of a windless August day, 
there was no mention of the heat nor their dislike 
for the town. The impending business which 
had brought them here seemed to leave no 
place for such trivial discussion as the weather. 
As the car stopped abreast the South Station at 
Dewey Square, the artist suddenly jumped to 
his feet. 

"Well, here's where I must leave you; aunt's 
stopping at the Essex, handy to the trains, you 
know; can't say when I'll be back — I'll hire a 
boat to bring me out," and with a wave of his 
hand he hopped off the car. 

Richard watched him disappear into the 
crowd, and then, as the car slowed down at the 
farther side of the square, he, too, got off, and 



64 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

walked back toward the station. Here he found 
that he had just missed a train for Neponset by 
a scant minute. An hour later he was on the 
cinder-walk, bound for Lawley's, and once in- 
side the gate he headed for the spar-shed. Then 
he suddenly remembered that the work of putting 
boats into commission was long since over and 
that the shed must be closed for the summer. He 
was about to turn back to the oflSce when he 
saw that a small door in the side of the shed was 
open. As he stepped over the high sill he heard 
voices within, and as his eyes adjusted them- 
selves from the brilliant glare of the hot August 
sun to the subdued light in the shed he made out 
two figures in the far corner where the Golden 
Parrofs spars had been stored in the spring, 
i. One of these seemed strangely familiar, and 
presently a voice that had said good-bye only an 
hour before, inquired, 

"Why, Richard! What are you doing down 
here?^' 

"Thought I 'd like to meet your aunt — forgot 
to ask you to bring her out to tea." 

The denouement, one might say, was com- 
plete. From that day of the Avenger they had 
longed in secret to get the old schooner under 
canvas, but each had feared to put his longing 
into words lest for some childish reason the other 
might object to so violent a change. Then, the 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 65 

addition of the rig would mean more work aboard 
ship and perhaps an extra hand. At any rate, 
they would devise the aged aunt and the impor- 
tant business so that they might look the ground 
over and then — well, in one happy moment all 
doubt was swept aside. 

"This gentleman," said the artist by way of 
introducing a young man who seemed to be won- 
dering what it was all about, "is Lawley's de- 
signer and he tells me that it would not be much 
trouble to rig her again/* 

Then f oUowed a consultation in which it was 
decided to put a gang on her masts that very 
afternoon. Work was slack in the yard and the 
sail-loft was languishing for something to do — 
in two weeks they could be sailing! The Tads 
were getting deeper and deeper into the toils. 

"Let's fool the old Swede," suggested the 
artist on the way to town; "make him think 
we're sick of the old schooner and are going to 
lay her up." 

Richard chuckled and suggested that they 
might as well make a day of it. So the old rascals 
gave themselves up to the delights of Revere 
Beach, and when they were at last rowed out to 
their home, the anchor light was burning and 
the soft drone of Gus's snores came up through 
the crew's hatch like the cozy purr of a tea- 
kettle. 



66 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

Breakfast was a silent meal of which the 
Swede took gloomy note. When they had finished 
eating, Richard spoke. "Oh, by the way, Gus, 
when you're ready for'ard, we'll up anchor and 
take the schooner back to Lawley's." 

As they hove up the anchor the windlass 
clanked dismally as though it were measuring 
off their last minutes on the old schooner. Gus 
straddled the wheel-box and, with a face as long 
as the spar-buoys he was picking up in the chan- 
nel, headed the schooner for Neponset. The Tads 
busied themselves below decks. Their empty 
chairs in the cockpit gave hollow comfort to the 
old Swede. Had the old men quarreled, then? 
They had been strangely silent ever since they 
had left Boothbay. Perhaps they had sickened 
of the old boat and would now lay her up and let 
him go. They were close aboard the basin now, 
and finding voice he called down, "Skal ve 
anchor in de str0m or come ob to de w'arf?" 

The Tads, in their working clothes, bounded 
up through the companionway, and as the artist 
raced forward to look after the bow line, Richard 
announced, " Slow her down alongside and we '11 
warp her under the shears — we 're going to step 
her masts and rig the old hooker!" 

The Swede gulped, but whether it was his 
tobacco he swallowed or mere emotion as ex- 
pressed by his Adam's apple, Richard was un- 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 67 

certain. The next moment he showed his tobacco- 
stained teeth in a wide grin — the first since he 
had come to the Tads. 

One memorable afternoon they let the south 
wind drift them out into the channel, where they 
hoisted sail. Slowly the schooner filled away, 
and as the Tads eased the sheets under the 
orders of Gus, who took the wheel, she heeled 
to the pressure of the breeze and began to 
move. 

"How you like it, Gus?" 

**By yolly ! she ban aalright; vould you tak' de 
weel. Mister Hewes, til I slack de lee lift?" 

When they swung around the Station the man 
on the bridge stared for a moment and then bent 
to the speaking-tube. The captain was seen to 
rush up from below and as they let go their an- 
chor he grabbed up a megaphone. 

"Thought you'd come to it — you fellows 
must have worked like hell." As soon as the sails 
were made up — it was a stifiF job, with this new 
canvas — all three tumbled into the dinghy 
which had been towing astern and rowed a Uttle 
way off for their first good look at the old schooner 
in her new rig. She was hybrid no longer, but a 
full-fledged sea-fowl, and but for her smooth, un- 
scarred topsides she might have been a trim little 
fisherman. Her shortened masts, set well apart. 



68 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

gave her an air of deliberate intent — for the 
pursuit of adventure? 

"Why, she looks like a little ship!" exclaimed 
the Tads ; " think we '11 have any wind to-morrow, 
Gus?" 




CHAPTER V 

A HALT-GALE out of the Dorthwest, strumming 
seaward to hustle soggy coasters on their roaring 
way, clipped the smoke short off from chimney- 
tops and galley-stacks. Up harbor, screaming 
gulls pirouetted and dove squabbling for the 
gurry thrown overboard by fishermen just come 
in from sea. With sails ballooning like the dress 
of an old lady trundling down some wind-blown 
street, the Golden Parrot had bustled in, and her 
crew was making up at their old berth by the 
Station when a voice boomed up at them from 
alongside. 

*"rh' Gr'raand Banks f'rivre! Bless me bloody 
ould soul if it ain't th' ould ParrUI" 

"You bet it's the Parrot," answered Richard, 
busy with the mainsail cover, "and wha-de-ye- 
want?" 

"Hove ye aany ould rope aboard — joonk?" 

The owner of the voice drifted alongside while 
the schooner was put all ship-shape and Bristol 
fashion. Then all hands dove into their respec- 



70 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

live pockets for pipes and tobacco and proceeded 
to light up. It was a mandate of Gus that there 
should be no smoking while making up sail lest a 
spark be rolled into the canvas to smoulder till 
the whole sail might be ablaze. Now the Tads 
were at leisure to survey their visitor. 

He sat in a battered fishing-dory whose last 
coat of paint must have been of a salmon color. 
In small black letters on the bow read the legend 
**Lic. 269." For a fender she wore the heel of a 
rubber boot, cupped over her stem. Her bottom 
was heaped with pieces of old rope from the size 
of a ship's hawser down to a hand line, a fathom 
or two of rusty chain, a clam-rake, and some 
odds and ends of brass pipe. Here was a junk- 
man of the sea. And it was the man who claimed 
the Tads' attention. If you have played around 
Dorchester Bay you must know him, for you 
would look twice at him if you but heard the 
boom of that voice. Under a black Cape Ann 
was a sandy-bearded, weathered face of the kind 
we often see in etchings, but seldom, now, in 
reality — for they are fast disappearing. It was a 
strong face, with heavy nose and clear blue eyes. 
Were those eyes set closer he might have be- 
longed to a certain type of Cape-Codder, but 
that voice proclaimed in him the Irish which his 
face bore out. His powerful body, slightly 
hunched as he slowly paddled his dory to over- 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 71 

come her drift, bulged in an old blue flannel 
shirt, and a pair of trousers, that can only be 
described as dark, betrayed the outlines of his 
sturdy legs. His rusty, salt-rimed shoes had so 
long since lost all trace of handiwork that they 
might be an epidermis of nature^s own growing 
did you not see that they were laced together 
with pieces of marlin. His teeth were black and 
brown-stained from decay and tobacco. He 
reeked of the sea. 

"WuU, wull,'' he rumbled when he saw that 
he had an audience, " ^t is maany yeers since I 
seen th' ould craft an' f'r aal I can see she's good 
f'r maany more." 

"You know her, then?" 

"Do I know her? If aany one knows her 't is 
John O'Connor. Did n't I help ould Cap'n Tom 
to fit her out, an' was n't I goin' in her to th* 
Wistlnjies?" 

All of which the Tads were in no position to 
refute. But here was a bit out of the day's 
routine. 

"Come aboard," invited Richard; "if we've 
got no old rope, there 's a bottle of grog below I 
know of." 

With a pull he was alongside and giving the 
dory a shove astern he rolled over the rail and 
made fast her painter. 

"Hullo!" he exclaimed, straightening up. 



72 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

"she's a troonk aaft, but f'r aal that she's the 
ould Parrit I knew maany yeers ago — an' hove 
ye done somethin' to th' rig?" 

The Tads were about to explain when it seemed 
as though his throat suddenly went dry and he 
ran his tongue over his lips in a way that sug- 
gested, "Wull, how about that grog, now?" — 
and taking the hint they led him below. As the 
artist opened the cupboard a wistful look came 
into that strong face, which Richard set down as 
an animal longing for the drink itself. The next 
moment he shamed himself for the thought. 
Holding up the glass — ridiculously small in the 
grasp of his thick fingers — the junkman stepped 
back and saluted an imaginary fourth person. 
"Heer's to ye, Cap'n Tom — an' to yez," turning 
to the Tads. "Fair br'razes an' snoog haarb'rs." 
Whereupon he solemnly rolled the liquor into 
his mouth and tipped back his head for gravity 
to do her share. 

" 'T is maany a day an' some thur'rty yeers 
since I had me larst nip out o' that cupboard, 
f r that wuz th' ver'ry day ould Cap'n Tom tuk 
sick, but we had no idee it wuz one o' his larst. 

"*'T is rhumored,' sez he, *that I'm sailin' f'r 
Spanish gold — an' maybe I ain't — kape y'r 
yoong mout' shut, f'r we'll hove no tales a- 
chasin' this cr'raf t — we 're takin' th' sea air f'r 
our healt',' Th' nixt day he tuk to his boonk. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 73 

there," pointing through the doorway to the 
wide berth in the stateroom, "but it wam't f'r 
long. 

"I fetched a docther, one o' them yoong 
w'ippursnapp'rs that goes through th' wor'rld 
wid th' bit in thayr tayth, takin* his own way 
like a wessel wid too much heads! — gripin'-like. 

" * 'T is no place f *r a man wid th' noomony, ' 
sez he, like th* cabin wuz a slimy cell dhrippin' 
wid wather. 

" So we dhressed him an' I locked up th' ship, 
f r we had no crew as yit, an' we rowed him ashore 
an' tuk him to th' horspittle in a carriage — 
but 't wuz not to his likin'. 

"* 'Twill be another kind av a foor-w'eeler 
ye '11 be takin' me out in,' sez he, gloo'rin' at^th' 
saw-bones. 

"F'r a time he saimed to be dooin' wull, an' 
one day he begun taalkin' about an exthra fore- 
mast hand an' a cook. But that verra; night — 
he'd been in th' horspittle nigh on to a sennit — 
he wint into a daycline an' too'ards marnin' th' 
docther begun ta shake his head. Frum th' look 
on our faces he guessed it too. While th' dawn 
wuz givin' way t' mornin' he lay wid his face 
too'ards th' windy, watchin' th' sunlight grow 
till it sthraimed in aal yellow an' bright. It wuz 
one avthim waar'm Septimber days whin a hors- 
pittle wud be th' larst place f 'r aany seafarin' 



74 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

man. F'r hours he 'd spoke no wur'rd, just lookin' 
through th' windy and caughin' frum time to 
time. He saimed to be restin' aisier an' I begun 
ta hope th' yoong w'ippursnapp'r wuz mis- 
tooken af ther aal, an' anuther day might find him 
sthrenthinin'. 

"* Gimme a dhrink/ sez he, *an' sind th' nurse 
out o' th' room, f 'r I Ve a bit ta say to ye while 
I can.' 

" We aised him a bit on his pillows an' thin th' 
nurse left us. 

" * But f r a brother I hav' n't seen these twinty 
yeers, I 'm alone in th' wor'rld an' 't is nayther 
heer nor there w'at I 'm thinkin' o' him. 

" * 'T is you I 'm tellin' this yam, an' sence I 've 
tuk a fancy to ye, an' it's yez I would have 
pr'rofit by it, f 'r th' only good th' ould hermit's 
doubloons will do me now will be th' knowHdge 
that afther I'm gone, they'll pass inta seagoin' 
haands an' will buy ye a ship like th' Betsy AnnJ" 

" I nivre cud raymimber th' name av th' ould 
hermit an' I'm not so sure o' th' name o' th' 
vessel," put in the junkman. "But 'tis no 
mather. An' wid this he begun th' yaam, wich 
I 'm teUin' ye th' best I 'm able. 

"*I wuz a lad o' sixteen,' sez th' cap'n, *whin I 
shipped frim th' port o' Boston on me fir'rst 
v'y'ge — she wuz th' Betsy Ann, a smaal bark 
wid a gin'ril caargo, bound f 'r Sain' Thomas.' 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 76 

"Fig'rin back frim Cap'n Tom's age whin he 
died that must 'a' been about ayteen-twinty. 

"*We put to sea too'ard th' ind av June an' 
be th' luck o' wisterly br'razes we fetched th' 
thrades a week lather an' th' nixt day we picked 
up Sombrero. Thin we run down f 'r th' Wirgins, 
holdin' wull ta th' southard, an' th' nixt marnin' 
they wuz to looard. Th' thrade had been droppin' 
in th' night an' it kep' a f allin' lighter an' lighter 
through th' day till it lift us entoirely, rollin' in 
th' swell wid th' oilans clost aboord. There had 
been a moon-dog in th' night, but we gave little 
t'aat to it till th' glass begun to dhrop, an' too'ards 
noon th' sun showed big an' pale through a mist 
high up in th' sky. Wid that th' Quid Man be- 
gun ta worry an' he spint th' rest av th' day 
waalkin' th' deck lookin' at th' sun an' sweepin' 
th' horizon f 'r a bit av wind. He knew these 
paarts wull an' I heard him tell th' mate, "I'm 
afraid we're in f'r a bit av a blow — though 
't is early in th' saison, an' I 'm thinkin if we 
c'n git a w'isper o' wind wid th' currint, we'll 
run into a cove I know, till th' weather clears, 
f'r Sain' Thomas is no kind av a place in a hurri- 
cane." 

"* Too'ards avenin' a br'raze cum up frim th' 
southard w'ich carried us up past Dead Chist 
(I raymimber th' name frim th' haythenish 
sound av ut), an' here th' wind left us, dhriftin' 



76 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

like a log. Th' tide kept takin' us to th' westward 
till we wuz only half a mile oflf th' cove w'ich th' 
Ould Man had in mind. Thin th* tide turned, 
an' f'r fear we might be carried out to sea we 
anchored wid aal sail set an' aal han's on deck 
waitin' f 'r a puflF that might help us inta th' cove. 
It wuz th' full o' th' moon, but aal we cud see wuz 
th' glow av him through th' greasy mist, an' 
nary a star. One bell had jist gone w'en th' 
Ould Man yells, "Jhar she comes!" an' we seen 
th' black mountin' up out o' th' nartheast Uke th' 
horizon wuz tippin' up over us like a cover. 

" *Th' mate dhropped down th' for'hatch like a 
rat, an' w'ile he wuz lettin' go th' bitther ind av 
th' chain, th' rist av us joomped aloft ta cut 
away. An' 'twuz aal we had time for, f'r th' 
blow wuz on us like a t'ousin divils. It sthruck 
us starn-to, w'ich we t'aat wuz lucky at th' time, 
but ef she 'd only been braadsoide an' gone down 
w 'ere she wuz, more av us wud 'a' been saved be 
blowin' ashore on th' land just unner our lee. 
Some o' th' men wuz sthill aloft whin th' black 
swept over us an' f'r a secind I had a glimpse av 
thim cUngin' ta th' riggin' wid th' sails sthraimin' 
out frim th' yaards afore they wint aaf wid th' 
wind in ribbons. Wat wid th' roor av th' wind 
an' th' hiss o' th' sea, I heard nothin' but the 
beller av th' Ould Man, in me ear, ta give him a 
haand wid th' w'eel. Thin I seen th' spar'rks o' 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 77 

th' chain sthreekin* out o' th' hawse-pipes an' 
th' low moon in th' westward, an' th' ind av th' 
oilan' goin' by, an' I t'aat we wuz safe in th' open 
sea. Me t'anks wuz still in me mind — whin we 
sthruck! Th' Quid Man bein' ta staarb'd an' 
lif tin', flattened ag'in' th' w'eel, but me bein' clear 
an' pullin' down ta port, lift th' spokes like a 
rottin apple oflf a sthick an' I flew past th' cabin, 
skitherin' along th' deck, afoor th' wind. I 
fetched up ag'in' one o' th' frames in th' bul'ark 
an' whin I pulled meself up I wuz clost t' th' f or- 
'ard riggin'. We had gr'rounded be th' edge av 
a smaal cay an' there wuz no gettin' back to ut. 
Thin I see a oilan' ower th' bows an' th' cloud 
covered th' moon lavin' us black as th' inside av 
a cat's belly. I fig'r'd th' ould ship wud break 
up in th' night an' her pieces go dhrif tin' out t' 
sea an' th' quicker I got overboord th' better, 
f 'r th' seas wuz pickin' up every minit. Hold- 
in' ta th' riggin', I crawled onto th' rail an' 
joomped.'" 

The three had long since seated themselves on 
the transoms, the Tads wide-eyed, facing the 
junkman, who for all the world was spinning 
the yarn as though it had happened to Mm and 
not to Cap'n Tom. Gus, a not unwilling eaves- 
dropper, had found some puttering job in the 
galley. And then, strangely enough, the yarn 



78 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

began to take on a personality of its own — it 
was not some tale which had been bottled up 
these thirty years and conned over many a time 
till it had almost become the junkman's own ex- 
perience — the yam seemed to be spinning itself. 
And it was no mere drop of grog that had washed 
out the dam of the junkman's memory — but 
you '11 have to ask the hermit as to that ! 

"'Wether I wuz swimmin' or just sthrugglin' 
ta kape me head up an' th' breath in me, I can't 
raymimber, but whin I begun ta think I wuz a 
fule ta lave th' ship, I cum ta aisier wather, an' 
th' nixt minit I wuz on me haan's an' knees on 
sandy bottim. There wuz no sthandin' in th' 
wind an' I kep' a-crawlin' till I sthruck ag'in' a 
smaal tree. There I set f 'r th' rist av th' night 
wid me arrums aroun' th' troonk an' shiverin' in 
th' wind thet wuz roorin' over like it wud tear up 
th' oilan' an' blow it out ta sea. 

" * Daylight cum, but it wuz like th' dark day 
av' winther. No sun, just a glimmer be w'ich I 
could make out land acrost th' wather. I had 
swum into a smaal cove. Thin th' wind died 
down an' in a few minits it was calm a'most as 
whin we anch'r'd th' night afoor. Th' sky was 
clearin' an' I cud see a landin' at th' head av' th' 
cove, an' I stharted waalkin' along th' beach 
thinkin' there wud be a house an' some payple. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 79 

Af ther a time I see th' waals av a smaal stone 
house wid th' roof blowed oflf just back o' th' 
beach. Thin I heer th' roor o' th' wind ag'in an' 
I barely had time t' craal inta th* roons whin 't 
wuz on ag'in, this time frim th' so'east. Aal day 
she blew harder than iv're, but I wuz bether aaf 
f 'r I wuz out o' th* wind an' me clo'se had dhried 
on me. I must 'a' fell ashlape, f 'r whin I woke 
it wuz marnin' an' th' sun wuz ower th' edge av 
th' wall an' I opened me eyes full in th' face av 
him. 

"*"Pore bhoy," sez a rumblin' voice rusty 
wid disuse, an' th' nixt minit he wuz a-bendin' 
over me. F'r aal I knew he might 'ave been auld 
Nick his-self , f'r he wore a big w'ite haat th' Ukes 
I'd nivre see afoor an' a bloo jackit buttoned 
back onto itself wid a wes-kit hangin' down ta his 
knees. "Wuz I oflf 'n th' barque?" 

" * I thried ta spake, but me lips moved widout 
soimd an' he fetched a nippurkin o' wather an' 
put it to me mout'. Thin I tould h'm th' barque 
had sthruck on a reef an' how I joomped over- 
board an' swum ashore. He had seen us workin' 
inta th' chann'l two nights afore, an' suspectin' 
we'd been drivin' ashore he had cum down wid 
th' first light o' day. He 'd found nothin', he said, 
an' wuz on his way back ta his house whin he 
passed th' ould sthore-house. Whin I tould him 
how we sthruck, he sez, ** I f eer they 've aal been 



80 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

carried out ta sea, an' ye can thank God f 'r th* 
miracle that fetched ye inta this cove/* * 

"Av coorse," said the junkman, "I can't ray- 
mimber th' very wor'rds o' Cap'n Tom, but I 'm 
givin' ye th' yarn purty neer as he give it t' me, 
an' sich things as th' hurricane an' th' ould man 
wid th' white hat an' th' wes'kit hangin' adown 
ta his knees, I'll nivre fergit till me dyin' day.^ 

"Thin he tould me how th' ould man fetched 
him to a httle house in a clearin' neer th' top ov 
th' oilan' where he lived aal alone, an' give him 
goat's milk an' sthrange vitt'ls th' like he 'd nivre 
et afoor, an' kep' him out o' th' sun till he cud 
plait him a hat out 'n sthraw. 

"Aal summ'r long Cap'n Tom stayed wid th' 
ould man, helpin' him wid his goats an' fowl an' 
workin' in his gardin. Once in a w'ile a naygur 
sloop wud run inta th' cove an' th' ould man wud 
buy rum, an' he sint ta Sain' Thomas f 'r clo'se 
f 'r th' boy, an' though he sould nothin' he had 
plinty av money. 

"But as time wint on, th' yoong Tom begun 
thinkin' on his folks ta home an' th' heat made 
him long f 'r th' cool o' Noo Englan'. Th' ould 
man cum ta sinse w'at wuz goin' on wid th' lad, 
f 'r one night he sez ta him, * Ye '11 be lay vin' me 

* When I got the yam from the junkman himself — writing 
it as he spun it — he told me that he had never heard the name 
of the old man of Norman. Nor have I been able to find it in 
print, so i&r. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 81 

soon, f r it 's Octhober an' 't is no good f 'r th' 
Kkes o' you ta be livin' wid a ould hermit like 
me. Ye hove seen how I sell nothin' an' yit I 
have coin o' th' realm ta buy frum th' naygur 
sloops. But there's anuther kind o' money on 
th' oilan' an' I hove no use f 'r 't, f 'r 't is Spanish 
gold an' shud th' black divils learn av it 't wud 
be th' death o' me.' Thin he tells yoong Tom how 
he discoov'r'd a doubloon on the flure av one av 
th' caves in th' wist ind av' tb' oilan'. An' he 
digs 'roun' an' finds a square hole in th' rock filled 
wid eart'. 0' coorse there's a ir'n chist in th' 
hole an' 't is filled wid doubloons like th' one he 
found on th' flure av th' cave. 

" Arragh, he must 'a' bin a quare one," put in 
the junkman, "f'r in these days ye find th' old 
ones thet hove that f 'r a whole ar'rmy t' live on, 
scramblin' neck an' neck wid th' yoong, clawin' 
f 'r money, till they 're aal boxed up an' shuvel'd 
inta th' grave. But ta raysume — it seemed he 
wud n't hove th' gold an' he left it there an' said 
nothin' to nobody till th' yoong Tom come ta th' 
oilan'. 

"*Th' nixt day,' sez Cap'n Tom, *we wint ta 
th' cave an' dug th' dirt out o' th' hole, an' sure 
enough there wuz a ir'n chist a bit smaaler than 
a seaman's chist. Th' hingiz wuz so rusted it 
tuk th' two av us ta lift up th' cover, an' thin — 
by aal that wuz good an' Holy ! if 't war n't full 



/ 



82 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

« 

o' doubloons, nothin' but doubloons, showin' 
yeller be th' light o' th' lantern. 

" * I put some inta me pocket — an* damn th' 

luck as ye shall heer. We taalked it over, an' be 

th' counsel av th' ould man I wuz to ship back 

to th' States an' thin git a smaal schooner an' 

/ cum down an' take th' doubloons away wid me. 

***Whin I landed at Sain' Thomas there wuz 
ships in plenty, but none homeward bound, an' 
I put up at a smaal boardin' house to bide me 
time. It wuz th' naygur crimp that run it, seen 
th' doubloon roll out o' me pockit one day, an' 
though he said nothin' them wickid eyes o' his 
sthickin' out like sojer crabs' said more wickid 
wor'rds than ivre cum over his tongue. An' f eer 
cimi inta me heart f'r th' ould man. Be good 
forchune . there wuz a sloop just lavin' f'r th' 
oilans an' I sint a letter ta th' ould man — not 
mentionin' doubloons, o' coorse — but so's he 
cud put two an' two tagith'r an' make more 
av it than th' naygur crimp.' 

"'T wuz a long yar'm f'r a dyin' man ta be 
tellin' an' his mind begun ta wander, f'r he lift 
af about th' doubloons an' begun tellin' how he 
quit th' sea an' bought a far'rum up in Ver'r- 
mont, an' thin he wint af in a faint. I caaled th' 
docther, but there wuz nothin' we cud do, f'r 
his loongs wuz fiUin' like a scuttled ship, an' I 
kep' sittin' by, expectin' ta heer th' death rattle 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 83 

aany minit. Too'ards avenin' he opened his eyes 
an' seemed ta be tryin' ta tell me ta cum neer'r. 
I bent over him an' put me ear clost t' his mout', 
but aal I cud make out wuz som'thin' about a 

pig- 

"'Th' light pig/ he wuz muttherin', *mind 

th' light pig/ An' thin he sUpped his larst moor- 
in' an' we closed his eyes. 

"An' th' Parrit wuz sould — th' new owner 
wanted me ta go wid him, but I had no fancy 
ta see anoth'r shlapin' in Cap'n Tom's berth 
there." 

" So, for all you know, the doubloons may still 
be on the island," said Richard, after a long 
silence. 

"F'r aal I know." 

The long afternoon had spent itself with the 
spinning of the yarn, and the slanting rays through 
the skylight had been steadily creeping upward, 
growing more and more yellow till at last they 
began to fade into twilight. The little ship's clock 
struck the hour in halting twos. 

The Irishman sprang to his feet. "Six bells 
an' heer I've been yamin' th' hull afthernoon!" 
And before he could be persuaded to remain 
aboard for a bite of supper with the Tads, he had 
pulled his dory alongside and was rowing oflF in the 
dusk. 



84 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

"What a yam!'' began the artist, as they sat 
down to their supper. " Somehow I have no pic- 
ture of the old captain, I'm always thinking it 
was the old junkman who was wrecked." 

"Yes, but what puzzles me," said Richard, "is 
how, after all those years, Cap'n Tom knew he 
could still find the doubloons. The hermit must 
have received his warning and removed the 
doubloons from the cave and buried them else- 
where. Then, in some way, he had sent word to 
his friend. If any one suspected there were 
doubloons on the island, the cave woijld be the 
first place he would look for 'em. But why had 
Cap'n Tom waited for sixty years before starting 
down for them?" 

They fell to speculating as to whether Cap'n 
Tom had by any chance left some key to the 
buried treasure. Perhaps it had been a simple 
one and after committing it to memory he had 
destroyed it. 

"But if the key was too complicated to trust 
to memory," ventured the artist, "or if the place 
was marked on a chart, the old captain would 
have hidden it somewhere." 

Gus had now cleared away the table and the 
old men were stretched out on their transoms 
speculatively blowing the smoke from their pipes 
up toward the skylight, where it hung for a mo- 
ment and was then caught in the upward current 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 85 

and swept away into the darkness. I'll lay a 
Johannes to the first Irish pennant ye '11 find on 
the Golden Parrot^ the old hermit was up there 
somewhere in the black night snuffing the 
wraiths from their pipes and softly cursing the 
Tads for the mildness of their tobacco. 

"Now the chances are that it was hidden 
aboard the schooner," continued the artist, puflf- 
ing harder and harder till the bowl of his pipe 
sizzled and spluttered like a tiny crater. "And 
then comes the question — " 

"Hold on!" cried Richard. "You'll have us 
sailing for the Wist Injies afore you know it ! The 
chances are even that the key either died with 
the old captain or was left in substance, which 
leaves us fifty per cent in hopes. Then the key 
may have been removed when the schooner was 
sold; which cuts our chance of finding it down to 
twenty-five per cent. The lawyers must have 
heard of the purpose for which the schooner was 
built, and if they found the key they might have 
gone down to the island on their own hook. But 
even if they did n't find the key and it was left 
hidden aboard some place, don't you remember 
when we took out her papers at the Customs we 
found that she had been rebuilt in '98? Now the 
odds are mighty big against us that the hiding- 
place was discovered when she was rebuilding 
and that would take away twenty-four out of 



86 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

our twenty-five per cent and leave us one chance 
in a hundred." 

Smooth-browed Reason sat with the Tads in a 
long silence, broken only by the clatter of dishes 
forward and the occasional thump-thump of the 
rudder. Their pipes grew cold and they relit the 
heels, but even tobacco failed, and they could 
only pucker their brows while their thoughts 
chased about in circles which grew smaller and 
smaller, and finally, losing radius, became mere 
points fixed in their minds as in space — that 
last chance. 

But it was in sleep that Fancy gave the sign 
manual to Reason. Richard heard the old cap- 
tain — but in the form of the junkman — pac- 
ing up and down the deck, impatient to be oflf for 
the West Indies, and he awoke to find that the 
tide had turned so that the softening gale blew 
a neglected halyard against the mast with a pac- 
ing tap-tap. The artist got farther along and 
dreamed the old schooner was roaring down the 
trades, but he awoke to find her still on even keel, 
and the rush of the sea along her planking was 
only the water from Gus's bucket gurgling around 
the comer of the skylight over his head. 

Even the bright glare of the morning sun as it 
came down in a broad path through the open 
companionway could not dispel the air of romance 
which the junkman had left in the old schooner. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 87 

She was no ordinary yacht, for had she not been 
built for a treasure cruise? And what old sea 
captain of seventy-five would be fool enough to 
contemplate hoisting his jib on a fooFs errand? 
The rumors of his boyhood days on the bay came 
back to Richard in force. The Golden Parrot be- 
came a luring fact and the yarning junkman no 
liar ! 

They had been relating their dreams over their 
after-breakfast pipes. Through the open passage- 
way Richard was speculatively watching Gus as 
he removed his apron and disappeared up the 
hatchway hauling the galley bucket after him. 
He was about to speak when the Swede yelled 
down the skylight: 

"Aye tank ve have good vind to-day." 

"Wha'-d'-ye-say?'' from Richard, jumping 
up. "Damn the doubloons! We can't always 
saa." 

They were hoisting the mainsail when the peak 
halyard became strangely reluctant and they 
lowered away again to investigate the trouble. 
"De sheeve yam," announced Gus, who advised 
that he had better go to town to buy new pins 
and sheaves for all the blocks aloft. 

"All right,'* agreed Richard, suddenly losing 
all interest in the wind. "You'd better go as soon 
as we've put on the covers and — oh, by the 
way ! — I '11 give you a letter to take to the office 






88 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

which will require an answer. We 'U get our own 
luncheon, so you need not hurry back/' 

"What was the idea about the letter?'' asked 
the artist, after Gus had left. 

"Thought it would be a good chance to poke 
about — and I wrote Clausen to keep him wait- 
ing in the oflSce for an hour or so — he won't be 
back till evening." 

And who's damning the doubloons now?" 
Well, I did n't mean to damn 'em exactly, but 
it would be bully to jfind that key." 

"And then it'll be you that will be havin' us 
sail f'rth' Wist Injies?" 

If the key was aboard the schooner, the Tads 
reasoned that its hiding-place would be some- 
where aft of the galley ; in the lazaret, or the cabin, 
or most likely of all, in the stateroom where the 
captain would be most secure from observation. 

They began in the lazaret where with hammer 
taps they followed every frame from horn timber 
to covering board and every deck beam, like twin 
Jonahs trying to tickle the whale into a disgorg- 
ing laugh. But the sturdy old frame only mocked 
them in its soundness. Catch any old hooker like 
the Parrot giving up her secrets in such easy 
fashion. Then like militant housewives they 
charged the cabin whence they carried on deck 
bedding and cushions from berths and transoms, 
even the loose panels of the floor, shelves from 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 89 

lockers, and drawers, every movable thing came 
out but the ballast, and even portions of this they 
shifted in order to examine floor beams and tim- 
bers. With a flash-light and a small mirror they 
made minute examination of the spaces between 
ceiling and planking which they could not reach 
with their hands. Oh, they were sore bitten,these 
funny young oldsters, on hands and knees, grunt- 
ing and squirming and peering like a pair of ant- 
eaters rooting in a hill. But they found only those 
small evidences of former ownership which gravi- 
tate to the bilges of all old boats. Stray hair- 
pins, a bilge-soaked letter penciled on the ruled 
stationery of a Mr. Gilhooley, "Prop. Family 
Hotel," written with considerable abandon and 
indited to "You Charlie,'^ who also went under 
the alias "deerie," and there were further sug- 
gestions of past high life in the form of labels 
floated from beer bottles. But of the key? Not 
a suspicion. 

It was at about this stage of the hunt that the 
junkman, coming in from the upper harbor, laid 
his course for the Oolden Parrot. When he was 
almost alongside he turned in his thwart to hail 
the schooner, and then a strange thing happened. 
At the sight of the disorder of cushions and bed- 
ding strewn about the deck and hung over the 
boom, his jaw dropped like a gaping cod and he 
sat for a moment holding his oars clear of the 



90 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

water whUe the breeze rapidly carried his dory 
away to loo'ard. His look of surprise slowly 
changed to one of perplexed amusement. " WuU, 
wull/' he muttered, "I haad no t'aat me yarnin' 
ould tongue wud — " But instead of finishing 
his sentence he took to his oars again with a 
guilty chuckle and giving the Parrot a wide berth, 
he rowed away toward the head of the bay. 

The cabin had occupied the Tads till the middle 
of the afternoon when they answered the call of 
empty stomachs. The stateroom had been left 
as a last tid-bit where they could browse with 
greater leisure even should Gus return before they 
had finished their work. Just why they should 
wish to keep their pearch a secret from the old 
Swede did not occur to them at the time — per- 
haps they feared losing caste for taking too much 
stock in the junkman's yam. Even the state- 
room proved as barren as the cabin and the 
lazaret, and at dusk they had finished their work 
and put everything ship-shape once more. Then 
Richard hung out the riding-light as a beacon 
for the belated Gus while the artist started the 
galley fire. 

Strange to say, it was with a feeling of relief 
that the Tads at last stretched their tired bones 
on the transoms in the cozy glow of the cabin 
lamp. 

"Well, that's one thing off our minds," sighed 



THE GOLDEIjI PARROT 91 

Richard. "What the devil would we do with a 
mess of doubloons, anyway? We'd be a fine pair 
of old fools to go a-treasure huntin\" 

"Only goes to show we're the like the rest of 
folks who don't know when they 're well off. We 
can get our adventure out of books — and it is 
a load off our minds — if the key 's still with us 
it must be pretty well hidden. Wha' do you say 
we run over to Wellfleet for a barrel of oysters? " 



^^ 


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a^ffliT^$>^^^^ 



CHAPTER VI 

A WARM breathless afternoon — Nature was 
dozing like an old housewife who has finished 
peeUng her potatoes for the evening meal and has 
nothing on earth to do till it is time to light the 
fire. The outgoing tide had swung the craft in the 
bay so that they all salaamed to the westward 
like a flock of sun-worshipers. The surface of 
the harbor, like dusty glass, showed no sign of a 
ripple. An empty crate floating near the schooner 
seemed fixed, as though even the tide were now 
taking a nap before it should turn and flow in 
again. The Tads dozed in their long easy-chairs 
in the cockpit, while for'ard Gus had fallen asleep 
over a bit of fancy tiller rope, his legs sprawling 
out on deck and his back propped against the 
hatchway. 

The man on the bridge of the Station paced 
slowly back and forth to ease the monotony of 
the long afternoon watch. Presently he stopped 
midway in his beat and, picking up a pair of 
glasses from the box behind the weather cloth. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 93 

focused them over toward Neponset on a small 
white patch which was rapidly growing larger. 
It grew till one could make it out to be a sizable 
cruising launch with a sturdy bufiF stack that gave 
her the appearance of a small steam yacht. As 
she neared the Station her bow wave died down 
to a ripple, and, silently coasting by the schooner, 
she lost all motion a stone's throw away. 

"Let 'er go,'' spoke a figure in shirt-sleeves on 
her baby bridge deck, and then followed a splash 
and a rattle of chain as a white-jumpered sailor 
tripped her anchor from its davit. 

"Hello!" cried Richard, sitting up with a 
start; "looks like a new launch." 
I "She ban new last year, sir," from Gus; "she 
yust go in commission for de vinter — das owner 
skal meet her in Florida." 

The Tads took to inspecting the new-comer 
much as two persons — from sixteen till the very 
end — take in the new clothes of the lady across 
the way. But more frankly, because of the little 
bit of blue bunting which hung from the arm of 
her signal mast, proclaiming the absence of her 
owner. The shirt-sleeved one, after a casual sur- 
vey of the chain gear f or'ard, walked aft and dis- 
appeared into the cabin. He reappeared in a 
moment with a freshly lighted cigar, and easing 
into a large wicker chair on the after deck, steeved 
his heels on the rail and abandoned himself to his 



94 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

thoughts — whatever they were. Then a second, 
also in shirt-sleeves, came up from the engine 
hatch amidships, submerged into the cabin and 
reappearing likewise with a lighted cigar, took 
up a chair by the side of the first. The white- 
jumpered sailor, having swung the anchor davit 
inboard and secured the falls, went to the bridge, 
where he slipped clean white covers on binnacle, 
wheel, and telegraph, returned forward, and sit- 
ting with his legs down the crew's hatch, pro- 
ceeded to light his pipe. Behold a picture of self- 
satisfied content- Fresh paint and varnish every- 
where, the launch looked like a new toy. There 
was nothing for her crew to worry about. After a 
good fat summer, here they were in commission 
again and all ready to go south to continue their 
easy life. Their daily beer was assured and 
plenty of beefsteak forward. No freezing work for 
them on coasting schooners on a fare of salt horse 
and Halifax mutton this winter ! 

"Guess they won't look so spick and span 
when they reach Florida,*' commented the artist 
with a touch of pique. 

" Oh, dey look yust so good — dey don't poun' 
salt water." 

"What do you mean — don't pound salt 
water? " 

Gus came aft and explained how one could 
follow the seaboard from New York to Key West 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 95 

nearly the entire way, through inland waters, 
providing one's draft was not too great. Five 
minutes before, the Tads had not the slightest 
notion but that they were spending one of the last 
God-given days of that year on their old schooner. 
Now visions of an indefinite cruise began to take 
hold of them. 

"Could we go down inside?" asked Richard. 

" Ve could go til Beaufort alright.'' 

"But where 's Beaufort?" from the artist. 

"Oh, das vay below Hatteras, unner Cape 

^A„d then what?" in unfaon. 

"Den ve go outside to Sharleston oond inside 
til Femandina. Ve could vait in Mayport for 
good vedder oond den fetch Myami vid power 
'n' sail in tree day. Yust vait a minute — " 
as though the Tads might spring immediately to 
windlass and halyards, and drawing the dinghy 
alongside, he jumped in and rowed over to the 
launch. The first shirt-sleeve, whom you might 
have guessed to be the captain, was seen to take 
his feet from the rail and disappear below, whence 
he reappeared with a gray book which he passed 
over the rail to Gus. 

It proved to be a paper-covered pamphlet, 
worn and much-thumbed, with the inscription 
"Inside Route Pilot — New York to Key West" 
on it, and it bore the authoritative stamp of the 



96 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

Department of Labor and Commerce. Its pages 
were filled with minute directions as to canals, 
sounds, inlets, and towns, and in the back cover 
was an envelope containing folded charts. Going 
below, they spread the charts out on the cabin 
table, where they followed the Swede's stubby 
forefinger as it traced the thin red line of the route. 
Although Gus had never been down by the in- 
side route, he knew the coast from the outside like 
a book. He had been into all the ports, and from 
the local knowledge of the wharf -sides had heard 
how small vessels could sneak inside under Hat- 
teras and dodge in among the inlets of the South 
Carolina and Georgia coasts while he and his 
mates in the larger vessels had to fight the win- 
ter gales outside. As his fiinger cruised southward 
the Tads could imagine themselves sailing in 
waters perpetually warm and swarming with 
sharks and alligators, their decks loaded with 
oranges and cocoanuts and bananas, while the 
sky above was an ever-blue dome curtained with 
fleecy clouds like unto the pictures in railroad 
folders. When Gus had at last piloted them safely 
to the earthly paradise of Ponce de Leon, he con- 
cluded with, "Oh, das vould be fine cruse," and 
began to replace the charts like any man of the 
cloth who has finished his pet sermon on "Youth 
and Old Age.'' The sleepy afternoon had gone 
in a trice, and they finished their perusal of the 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 97 

charts by the light of the cabin lamp. Gus told 
them he dared not keep the book any longer, for 
they of the launch would be turning in early as 
the captain expected to be off before daylight. 

When Gus returned, it was high time for sup- 
per, and as the Tads discussed this new problem 
which even grew to the proportions of a small 
crisis, he would occasionally put in a word or two 
during opportune lulls. 

"Well, I dunno — " began the artist, who was 
always the leader in these discussions — that is, 
he began them and then led the more cautious 
Richard to say what he would like to have him 
say. 

" Can't say there 's anything wrong about it 's 
far's I can see — there's nothing to keep me 
here." 

"Me neither — we can stop paying rent in 
Boston and put our things in storage." 

Richard looked over at his friend to try and 
see what it had cost him to say, "we can stop 
paying rent." Did the artist mean that he was 
ready to give up the little home that had known 
him for so many years? Was it in part a sacrifice 
to the younger man's longing to cut loose alto- 
gether from the old life? Richard's apartment 
had never been more to him than a mere place 
to read in of an evening and to sleep, but with 
the artist it was different. His abode had been 



98 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

a part of him — it had been a part of his wife. 
Had he loved William less he would have put his 
arms around him. But he only blinked his eyes 
and reached for his tea-cup. 

"S'pose I give up my apartment and bring my 
stufiF down to your place and we '11 go halves on 
the rent — it won't be much more than the stor- 
age. 

"Thanks, Richard — maybe — we'll think it 
over," answered the other with a slight catch 
in his voice — when one is fond of dry toast the 
crumbs toiU get down the wrong way, at times. 

"Plendy vil' duck in Ches'peek Bay," came 
from the galley, by way of an anti-climax. 

Visions of rows of slain mallards hanging by 
their feet from the rigging took possession fore 
and aft, although neither the peaceable old Tads 
nor the harmless Swede had ever known a shot- 
gun. 

" Ve could cruse to Dry Tortugas war das ban 
fine fishin'," whereupon tarpon and amberjack 
and barracuda joined the festoons of ducks, and 
even a huge man-eating shark was mentally 
hoisted for inspection on the foredeck. 

"Seems I've read of sea-cows bein' down 
around there some'eres," ventured the artist; 
"we might tame one and then we could hoist 
him up in the davits every mornin' and milk 
him — only it 'ud be a she sea-cow, of course." 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 99 

Oh, the Tads were in a merry mood, and they 
laughed as they had not done these many years, 
while the subtle old Gus came as near chuckling 
as any salt-boned scowegian can chuckle, for he 
began to see the end of his worries for that winter 
at least. And so they talked it over through their 
supper and far into the night. Perhaps they 
ought to take on an extra hand. Did Gus know 
of a good man? 

" Oh, yas, a yimg man, Ole Yensen, he vould 
yust suit." 

"A square — Is he Swedish? '* asked the artist. 

**He ban Dane, but he gude faller." 

With the first streak of sunlight the Tads stuck 
their heads out of the companionway to find that 
the laimch was gone. 

At the end of a week the Tads returned to the 
schooner — a bit worn from their exertions 
ashore and tired from restless nights spent in 
confined spaces. First they had moved Richard^s 
belongings into one of the back rooms of the art- 
istes abode — a simple operation which used up 
a couple of days. But their nights ashore brought 
on a strong hankering for the freer aurs and 
broader prospects of their little sea home. 

"Richard," confided the artist on the third 
morning, "I guess weVe been spoiled for city 
living." And they started all over again and 
packed their things for an indefinite sojourn at a 






100 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

storage warehouse. When they at last closed the 
door on the empty rooms in the alleyway and 
squared away for City Point, the artist had re- 
marked, " I always had an idea my final exit from 
the old place would be in a wooden overcoat/^ 

Richard laughed, " The best of plans sometimes 
go wrong, don't they?" 

Perhaps their ancient humor may have been 
a little forced, but that was only to cover queer 
fuzzy feelings in their old chests and an uppish 
something in their stomachs — sentimentalists 
would call it the effect of emotion; but avast on 
such a lay, it was only the itch to roll the wheel 
once more and the call to the good sea cooking 
of Gus. 

The Swede had been no less active. The sail- 
maker had been called upon for a storm trysail, 
and the compass had been adjusted by a pro- 
fessional from town. Ole, the new foremast hand, 
a big boyish Dane from Skagen, had already 
been a member of the crew for several days and 
the two had sent down her topmasts. The Golden 
Parrot was ready for sea. And it was high time, 
for it was now well into the first week of October 
and the gales which would soon be blowing off 
Cape Cod were not the pleasantest diversions to 
contemplate. Reports came from up country, 
so the papers said, that the squirrels had been 
gathering an unusually copious store of acorns. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 101 

which to all students of nature is an infallible 
sign of an early winter. Another day or two, one 
inferred, and snow would be m the air. 

October by the calendar, but it was really 
summer hanging on to bid the Tads bon voyage. 
There were four pairs of hands now and the sails 
went up two at a time. Then the Tads stood by 
while the squareheads applied their "fish-guts 
and soup-bone'" to Miss Gypsy forward. 

"Yudas Priest! she comin' hard. Yump on de 
chain, Ole ! — now she come, heeve-ho, ay tank 
she broke — she broke. Sir!" And they filled 
away to the light northerly breeze which showed 
signs of coming on harder. From the crew of 
the Station came a wild " Good luck ! " which they 
answered by dipping their ensign as they headed 
down the harbor. The least thought in the minds 
of the Tads was of the yarning junkman of whom 
they had seen neither Cape Ann nor rusty dory 
since his romantic "gam" in the cabin. Little 
did they know that it would be many a moon and 
another winter before they should see the Sta- 
tion again; and as for the Parrot — she presently 
shouldered the swell from an incoming tramp and 
nodded in her sly way, and I believe she even 
tried to wink her weather hawse-pipe as if to say, 
"Th' light pig, mind th' light pig." Perhaps she 
was only screwing up her nose at the smell from 



102 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

the municipal sty on Deer Island, so let us not 
romance. 

The wind settled back into the northwest and, 
like a motherly nursemaid sending the baby-car- 
riage ahead for a little coast by itself, it pushed 
the Tads across the bay and around the Cape to 
Handkerchief where a southerly breeze of tropic 
breath blew them safely into the narrowing arms 
of the Sound, 

One morning they found themselves chugging 
through Hell Gate with a fair tide which, before 
they knew it, swept them into the busiest thor- 
oughfare of all New York, East River, where the 
courtesy of the sea is but a weak spirit, and size 
becomes right, and you little fellows keep damn 
well clear of us big ones, for our time's worth 
more than you are. Gus took the wheel while the 
Tads gave themselves up wholly to gaping at the 
towering, droning city on one hand and Black- 
well's on the other, with its brooding, ominous 
buildings turreted and barred — a copy-book 
example of cause and efiFect; and then as the first 
bridge soared over them they bent backward 
till Gus had to caution them lest they lose their 
balance, perchance, and fall overboard. To be 
sure the Tads had been to New York before, but 
the caflon of lower Broadway had meant only 
height to them — here was immensity and stu- 
pendous movement. Here was an education in 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 103 

one huge lesson too concentrated to be readily 
digested. Great must be the men behind all this, 
and they mentally took off their hats to those of 
Wall Street, not in respect but in awe — they 
were hideous in their greatness. As they passed 
under the last bridge, Brooklyn, the ancestor of 
them all, they thought of Brodie of slang fame 
who seemed to typify the chancy spirit of the 
New York they knew. 

The river broadened and they swung around 
the Battery with its lower buildings toeing down 
to the upper harbor. Here was expanse. The 
Tads were no longer mites, but men on their own 
ship. It was good to catch a glimpse of the open 
sea beyond Sandy Hook as they sailed past 
Staten Island, and at last they anchored in the 
quiet reaches of the Raritan with the feeling of a 
long day's chore happily finished. The next morn- 
ing they entered the canal and stepped ashore at 
the toll oflSce by the lock. 

"First time we've been ashore since Boston!'' 
exclaimed the artist. " How do you like the feel 
of New Jersey?" 

Whereupon Richard sprung his knees and 
brought down his heels on the soil of New Jersey 
as though it ought to have its individual temper 
as well as its distinguishing color on the map. " A 
mite springy, I should say." And from that time 
they made it a practice to go ashore at the ear- 



104 THE GOLDEN PARROT 



liest opportunity as they came to each new State 
— "to get the feel of it." 

A wheezing Uttle tug escorted in a deep-laden 
canal-boat and backed out again, gracefully 
enough, but with a plaint in her aged exhaust 
that muttered, "I ain't what-I-use'-ter-be, I 
ain't what-I-use'-ter-be." And when the lock was 
at last opened to the canal, the rangy old barge- 
skipper, who had handled her lines, opened the 
hatchway for'ard, walked down into her hold, 
and reappeared a moment later leading a pair of 
diminutive donkeys who followed nonchalantly 
across a small gangway to the tow-path where 
they patiently waited while he hitched them tan- 
dem to the tow-line. Then he returned aboard, 
drawing the gangway after him, and sat down on 
the rail to light his pipe, while his wife, a no less 
heroic figure, appeared from the neat little cabin- 
house aft, hung a dishtowel on a line between a 
couple of poles fastened to the house, and sat 
down on a chair with her arm crooked over the 
long tiller. The old man cast off his lines, spoke 
something in donkey language, and resumed his 
pipe on the rail while the tow-line slowly lifted 
from the ground and the barge assumed slow 
motion. 

The canal became a new and fascinating de- 
light to the Tads, not without its moments of 
mild excitement, for at every mile, it seemed, a 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 105 

bridge would loom up ahead, and while Ole 
stoutly tooted the horn, they would anxiously 
watch the bridge-tender's house, and then, at 
the very moment when they were about to stop 
their engine, a deUberate, lumbering figure would 
appear and the bridge would slowly open for 
Gus to pilot them through. Or there would be 
locks which called for quick work with bow and 
and stem lines and careful snubbing at the bitts 
to keep the schooner in mid-stream while the 
water poured in to float her to a higher level. 

At sundown they tied up by the canal-side at 
the very doorstep of a farmhouse, where they 
spent the evening with the man and his wife. 
There was a delicious novelty in yarning fa- 
miliariy enough with people they had never 
met before and yet knowing that their home 
was out there in the darkness, only a few feet 
away. 

The next day they continued through wooded 
country and open farm-lands — an hegira of 
absorbing interest. The day was wine to the 
Tads, who would not go below even for their 
luncheon, which they ate in the cockpit with all 
the delight of school-boys viewing the landscape 
from the windows of a dining-car. 

At Trenton, people held at the open bridges 
brought back the truant feeling in the breast of 
Richard, while the more free-lance artist only 



106 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

saw in them victims of the unescapable tread- 
mill of civilization. 

Then they were let down from this man-made 
hill of water and set sail along the Delaware to 
another canal which brought them to the Chesa- 
peake. Little did the wild ducks know what the 
sparkling winds of this inland sea spared them. 
That there were no firearms aboard the Golden 
Parrot may have been a minor reason. When 
there was a breeze the Tads would rather "sail 
than eat''; it became a by-word with them, and 
they bowled along to Norfolk, where they an- 
chored in the snug little basin called The Hague. 

But no sooner had they walked the kinks out 
of their sea-legs than the hanker for the wheel 
crept back into their palms and they continued 
on their journeys. The weather held in persistent 
good humor. 

" Seems too good to last," Richard commented 
one day. "I'll bet the wind tears our pants off 
as soon as we poke our nose out to sea at Beau- 
fort." And the mental horizon of the Tads be- 
gan to cloud up with vague forebodings. But the 
Parrot bowled merrily along and kept her own 
counsel. She might have said, "You can't ex- 
pect smooth sailing all the time — a little worry 
will do you good — all good skippers worry, you 
know." 

They were following the "day-marks" of the 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 107 

last mile of tortuous channel which winds around 
behind Beaufort, and Richard had just remarked, 
"Well, there's the town — weVe had mighty 
good luck so far" — when he suddenly swayed 
forward and caught hold of the back-stay. There 
was a sickening feeling that their keel was touch- 
ing; the deck heaved under them and the Parrot 
came to a dead stop, pitching forward like an 
old horse that has stumbled to his knees. They 
were hard aground, and even as they looked over- 
board they found that the tide was ebbing away 
from their boot-top. 

" Yust in de middle of de channel, by Crass!'* 
swore Gus. 

" Why in time did n't I keep still till we were 
at Beaufort?" 

"Veil, Mister Hewes, ve're newwer in port 
til de anchor ban owerboard." 

There was nothing for them to do but wait for 
the next tide. Across a mile of water to the east- 
ward a church spire and a roof or two of Beaufort 
showed tantalizingly through the trees of a small 
peninsula. To the west lay the expanse, dotted 
with the straggling posts and beacons by which 
they had followed the invisible channel, forlorn 
as some flooded bottom-land. The water looked 
cold and forbidding under the steely light of the 
late afternoon sun that was sinking into a greasy 
horizon. Directly astern, to the north, a hard- 



108 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

rimmed cloud-bank was slowly creeping up into 
the sky. 

" Ve get plenty vind to-night, an' yust so soon 
dar ban high vater ve haal aaf and swing to de 
anchor til ve can see in de momin'/' 

After sundown came the wind-lipper of the 
north wind, but it quickly grew into wavelets 
and then to short, angry little seas which began 
to pound under the stern, swinging the rudder 
viciously against the gear till the Tads thought 
it must twist off at last and leave them helpless 
even should they succeed in getting off the bar. 
The wind increased to half a gale. There was no 
sleeping for the Tads who sat out the night, till 
at last in the gray dawn Gus announced that the 
tide was full, and they started the engine astern 
and hove in on the warp they had put out over 
their counter. But the warp came in very slowly 
and they found that they were only dragging 
their anchor through the mud. Gus shook his 
head in despair. The wind, he said, had blown 
the surface water out to sea and they should have 
to stay where they were till the gale blew itself 
out or swung into another quarter. All the next 
day and the following night they hung on the bar; 
the Tads moping disconsolately in their cabin with 
the doors closed to keep out the cold wind, and 
an ache in their hearts for the patient old schooner 
unable to escape her agonizing buffeting. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 109 

It was on that second night that Richard 
awoke from a fitful doze to the sound of gurgling 
water. As he got out of his berth to light the 
cabin lamp, his bare feet struck the cold wet of 
a soggy carpet and he shook up the artist to tell 
him that they must have sprung a leak. So far 
it was only a trickle, however, for they pumped 
her dry in half an hour and it took two hours for 
the water to reach the stateroom floor again. 
But it was misery to the Tads, who began to im- 
agine all manner of dire calamities. Gus, the only 
hopeful one of the four, swore that the Parrot 
was too sound to be so easily strained, and as 
soon as they could dock her they would find that 
it was only some weak seam — they would re- 
caulk her from garboard to rail and she would be 
as tight as a bottle again, they should see. The 
confident old Swede somehow put the Tads into 
a happier mood, and now they came to look upon 
their disaster as a bit of adventure. Their faith 
in the old schooner began to return — had they 
not been a bit disloyal in thinking that a little 
pounding could do her harm? — and who ever 
heard of a cruise, that is a real cruise, without a 
leak in it somewhere? 

The wind died out with the night, and when 
Gus awoke the Tads it had slunk around to the 
southeast and brought cheer in the warm breath 
of the Gulf. They came on deck to find that the 



110 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

schooner was already giving to the strain of the 
hawser and soon they were clear of the bank and 
riding free to their anchor. Then they fell-to to a 
glorious breakfast of bacon and eggs and coffee 
— they swore they had never had a better — 
and they were discussing as to whether they had 
better proceed on their own, or row to Beaufort 
for a local pilot, when they heard a voice along- 
side. 

"On board the schooner! D'ye want a 
pUot?" 

Did they want a pilot ! The Tads scrambled on 
deck to find a battered skiff alongside with a long, 
lean man who seemed equally battered, standing 
in her with his arms hung over the rail of the 
schooner. 

"Seen ye yasterd'y> but I knew ye would n't 
git off till the wind shifted, so I did n't bother to 
come out till now." 

" We thought we were in the channel — till we 
went aground," said Richard by way of explamt- 
tion. 

"So you was, but the man who had the last 
contract f 'r cleanin' it left a lump of dredgin' 
right in the edge of it. It's only you long-legged 
fellows as fetch up on it — a fishin' smack was 
hung up here a hull week last winter, so you 're 
gettin' off easy. Take ye t' Beaufort all safe f 'r 
two dollars." 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 111 

With this he sprang on deck and fastened his 
painter to one of the bitts. 

"An' if I put ye aground ag'in, I'll give ye 
leave to cut my bloody throat." A safe-enough 
promise, for I doubt if there was a knife aboard 
the Parrot with temper equal to that shagreen- 
covered member. "Me name's Bill Ropes, and 
I 'm a pilot and a sea-cook and a damn good one." 
Had he said, "I'm a son of a sea-cook and a 
bloody pirate and I '11 end up with a rope around 
my neck," he might have fetched a bit nearer 
the mark. But the Tads only saw in him an ec- 
centric character who had come to them as a good 
angel disguised as a pilot. 

"Finish y'r breakfast; we got all day to make 
Beaufort an' you won't be goin' outside, I'm 
thinkin', f 'r some days — this '11 be snortin' out o' 
th' so'west to-morrow." 

The Tads sat down again to their table while 
the stranger perched himself on the top of the 
companion-steps, eyeing them like some weird 
sea-fowl. He wore a pair of faded dungarees, 
neatly patched at the knees, and a blue-and- 
white checkered cotton shirt with sleeves rolled 
to elbows exposing a pair of gorilla forearms. 
On the inside of his left arm, where the hair was 
less dense, as in a clearing, lay a beautiful maiden 
tattooed in shameless nudity and entwined by 
a huge snake, like a fouled anchor. A wide- 



112 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

brinuned, coarse-braided, straw hat, which he 
had thrown down on the cockpit floor, exposed a 
smallish head, weather-browned and with small 
tufts of hair springing from ears and nostrils. His 
face was that of a down-east Yankee, and were 
you to overlook for the moment the smooth black 
hair above it you would say that it belonged to a 
man of fifty. Deep lines guarded his mouth like 
parentheses as though he were used to damning 
and gritting his teeth, and wrinkles radiated from 
his eyes from much squmting at the sun. The 
hard lines of his rather low forehead even di- 
minished its height. But his hair was that of a 
man of thirty, and we'll not go far wrong if we 
split the difference and call him forty. 

"Tidy little ship you've got here — thank ye, 
I vrUl have a slog of Java. Thought you was a 
blue-fisherman till I come alongside an' seen ye 
had no gear and was all slicked up like a yacht. 
Goin' to Floridy, I s'pose. Well, ye ought t' be 
snug as a couple of roaches in this cab'n — 
would n't ask f'r nothin' better meself." 

Suddenly their visitor cocked his head to one 
side. The schooner was roUing slightly and from 
her bilges came the telltale gurgle of water wash- 
ing over pieces of ballast. "Har ! The old girl 's 
leakin', is she?" He said it as though he had 
discovered some crime — the Tads might as well 
be frank with him first as last. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 113 

"Only a trickle/' admitted Richard. 

"Alright if ye know just war it is, but if ye 
don't—" 

"Thought we'd haul out and have a look at 
her," admitted the artist. 

"That's right. But the railway here has filled 
up with sand an' if ye don't draw mor'n six feet 
I guess they can take her." 

They had to admit a draft of seven. Perhaps 
by taking out their ballast and stores they could 
get her out on a high tide. Otherwise, they were 
told, they would have to retrace their steps to 
Elizabeth City, nearly two hundred miles. This 
was not the pleasantest of news to contemplate, 
but when they were once underway the Tads 
blithely dismissed their doubts with, "Oh, we'll 
get her out somehow." 

The easy confidence with which the pilot toyed 
with the wheel inspired them with the hope that 
he might in some way bring strange tricks of the 
sea to their aid. There was a fascination in 
watching the movement of the muscles in his fore- 
arm which gave the snake the appearance of 
writhing about its nude mistress. 

They were now approaching the open draw- 
bridge of the railway which connected Beaufort 
with the intervenmg islands and the peninsula 
on the opposite side of the Newport River, where 
Morehead City could be seen in the distance. As 



114 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

they passed through the draw, they came upon 
a cove, large enough for the anchorage of a fish- 
erman or two. The pilot nodded shoreward at a 
small boat-yard with dock and railway which ex- 
tended cheering welcome to the Tads. ^* We '11 an- 
chor off the town first and then talk with him, 
an' don't tell him y're leakin' — till ye have to." 

On the seaward side of the peninsula and 
built along the water's edge, the town swung into 
view. A bar that nearly dried at low tide formed 
the outer barrier of the harbor which was in real- 
ity only a bit of deep channel. Here they an- 
chored not far from the only other occupant, a 
graceful hull with two stumpy masts and a stack 
like a tug. She was, the pilot told them, the old 
Pilgrim — ex-cup racer. Once the pride and 
hope of Boston, her hoodoo of unsuccess had 
clung to her, even as a fisherman, for her rig had 
been made too small and her power was not ade- 
quate. The rest of the fleet had gone out with the 
morning tide. 

Perhaps it began with the old Pilgriniy which 
the Tads well remembered from the days of her 
prime, the feeling that here they would like to 
rest awhile, which grew as they inspected the 
water-front with its wharves and fish-houses and 
ends of streets of clean white shell, beyond which 
they caught glimpses of neat little cottages 
along the main street. They swore that here they 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 115 

would rather spend a week, if necessary, lighten- 
ing their schooner so that they might haul out in 
this pretty little town. Had the good Lord de- 
scended and with his twelve sea-going disciples 
performed a latter-day miracle of lifting out the 
Parrot, recaulking and paintmg her bottom and 
setting her afloat in a day, and then sent an off- 
shore breeze, the fickle old Tads would probably 
have made sail instanter, with the excuse that 
they could always come back some time — but 
they could not always sail. But such a thing as 
a latter-day miracle was perhaps the least thought 
in the minds of the Tads as they tumbled into the 
pilot's skiff. 

"You c'n always ketch him aroun' feedin' 
time," promised Bill Ropes, as though the yard- 
owner were some timid animal of precise habits. 

"We'll stalk him while he chaumps," said the 
artist. 



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CHAPTEE Vn 

Rumor, like its freemartin twin, Scandal, even 
though apparently dead, has a Lazarus habit of 
coming to life at unexpected times and in strange 
places, especially when it concerns things femi- 
nine. Take any young miss who may have been 
generously endowed as to underpinning, and the 
designation "piano-legs" will gayly skip along 
in her wake even though she takes to long skirts 
and changes her habitat from time to time. So 
it was with the old schooner. Richard had first 
mentioned it when he bent down that day at 
Lawley's and read her name on the counter. 
Then the junkman, and now the yard-owner at 
Beaufort. She was a bom treasure hunter and 
she would remain one till the very end. 

He was an old man, the yard-owner, neither 
metropolitan nor rural — rurban, as Mrs. Thomp- 
son has put it, and he talked like a Northerner. 
At the mention of the schooner's name his eyes 
had brightened with recognition. 

"GWdenPomrfP Why, I knew an old yacht by 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 117 

that name when I was in the towing business in 
East Boston. Sure enough! She was built for 
old Tom Packard — they said he was going to 
the West Indies in her, but he died before he could 
get off on his cruise. Are you any kin of the old 
cap'n?" 

"Same old boat, but we're not related to the 
captain/' answered Richard, who went on to 
explain how they had bought her to use as a 
house-boat, and then had rigged her for cruising, 
and now were bound for Florida. 

"They said it was n't for health he was cruis- 
ing," pursued the old man; "he'd been in the 
West Indie trade and the old gossips along the 
water-front didn't allow as how he would be 
going down there again in a small packet — just 
for pleasure." 

He said it as though he might have been one 
of the "old gossips" himself and more than half 
suspected that the Tads might have some ul- 
terior motive in cruising in the "small packet." 
Bill Ropes, standing off to one side a bit, was all 
ears at this, and he caught the expression of sur- 
prise in the faces of the Tads as that "last chance '* 
had so unexpectedly poked its nose at them — 
and unfolded its fingers. 

" By Yimminy ! Haar ve got a yob ! " exploded 
Gus the next morning when they lifted the cabin 



118 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

floor to get at the ballast. They were lying along- 
side the dock in the cove and had already stripped 
the schooner of all movable hamper till she 
looked as bare as on the day when the Tads had 
first seen her. Now came the more serious busi- 
ness of taking out her movable ballast which had 
been covered with the oily muck, washed down 
by the leak, from the engine. This was no task 
for the Tads, whom Gus had dismissed with "Ay 
tank you better leave das yob til us." The pilot, 
with feet braced apart on the floor beams, started 
the chain by fishing up the chunks of lead and 
passing them on to Ole, who in turn handed them 
up the companionway to Gus, who stood in the 
cockpit and swimg them over the rail to the dock. 
The Tads, who were not averse to loafing in the 
bright Southern air, — it reminded them of the 
September days they had left behind them, — sat 
on the cabin-trunk, smoking. There was a touch 
of adventure in the feeling that here they were 
in a strange, new country with a small calamity 
on their hands. Or — they might be captain 
and supercargo watching the imloading of their 
ship. What fun it would be to poke their old 
bowsprit into some foreign port, some day, with 
their yellow jack flying as they had read in 
books, till the port doctor should come aboard 
and tell them to haul down and then to barter 
over the side with bumboats till the harbor- 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 119 ^ 

master should give them pratique. Oh, they knew 
much of the sea from books and now they were 
learning a bit of it at first hand. 

Their day dreams were suddenly broken into 
by Gus, who seemed to be performing some 
strange dance in the cockpit. No, it was n't a 
dance, he was only trying to keep his feet from 
under a greasy piece of ballast which threatened 
to slip from his hands. Then, by hoisting his knee 
under it, he managed to secure a firmer grip. 
But instead of throwing it immediately to its 
fellows on the wharf he held it for a moment 
testing its weight end for end. 

"Das djeval narly got avay, he ban light in 
one end like Master Humpty-Dumpty.'' Then 
Ole appeared with another piece and the work 
went on. 

"Must have an air-hole in it," observed Rich- 
ard, stepping over to the dock. The artist fol- 
lowed, not unwilling to enter into a bit of idle 
investigation. Queer, there seemed to be no sign 
of an air-hole, and after wiping it on a piece of old 
canvas, they carried it aboard the schooner again 
and laid it on the trunk between them. Then 
they rolled it over and over and took to lifting it 
end for end. It certainly was light in one end like 
a Humpty-Dumpty, as Gus had described it. 

"Hello!" exclaimed the artist, who was now 
examining the light end, "here's something'/' 



120 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

"Looks like a sort of plug that has been sol- 
dered into it. Now, why in time should any one 
want to plug up a hole in a lead pig?" 

"Not unless — why, you almost said it!'' 
And leaning over, he whispered into Richard's 
ear, "Why, it's the Light Pig!" 

Had he turned his head a bit farther, the art- 
ist would have seen the pilot just below — half 
turned from passmg a pig to Ole — his face re- 
flected up through the skylight at them from the 
mu-ror in the cabinet. To one in the cabin it 
might have seemed a casual glance, but had the 
Tad seen that face in the mirror unease would 
have entered his soul. There was all the cunning 
of old John Silver in those narrow eyes. They 
saw and guessed as his ears had detected the faint 
swash in the bilge and guessed the leak. Eccen- 
tric character, my grandmother! You might call 
it eccentricity — the way he had of ferreting out 
things which might or might not be his business, 
or the particular shift by which he might ease a 
knife between your ribs, or the maimer in which 
he'd crook his thumb into your windpipe, if he'd 
gain anything by it. But the artist did not see, 
and moving close to Richard, he fell to cutting 
away the stubborn lead with his jackknife. 

He had shaved oflf the hard solder and was now 
working around the inner edge of the plug which 
fitted in a true circle about an inch and a half in 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 121 

diameter. Evidently the pig had been bored out 
with a large drill. Suddenly one side of the disk 
gave way and it swung on its axis like a damper in 
a flue. It came out easily enough. With a hand 
trembling from the unwonted exertion of cut- 
ting lead, the artist inserted his forefinger into 
the hole and drew forth a cylinder of paper some 
six inches long. Hastily thrusting it into his 
pocket he glanced down through the skylight. 
The pUot was bending in the act of extricating 
a stubborn chunk from under one of the floor 
beams. The mirror only reflected his checkered 
back hunched at honest toil. Then in a tone that 
was calculated to carry down into the cabin, the 
artist said, "Nothing but a blow-hole. Let's 
chuck it back onto the dock.'' 

But for some reason, known only to the Tad, 
the light pig did not join its fellows, for, as the 
artist was lifting it over the rail, he let it slip 
from his hands and it dove into the muddy water 
with a splash. 

For a long time the Tads sat on the cabin-trunk, 
neither talking nor smoking — just wondering 
with far-oflf gaze and long thoughts. Below, the 
pilot stooped and rose, and every time he turned 
from handing his burden to Ole, his face looked 
up at the mirror which only reflected the backs 
of the motionless old Tads. And they^ — well, 
there could be no doubt but that the paper in the 



122 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

artist's pocket was the missing key. No one had 
seen them remove the paper from the pig — they 
were sure of that; they would only have to bide 
their time till they could examine it in secret. 

"I wonder how much she's lightened," ven- 
tured the artist, getting up at last and leisurely 
making for the end of the dock. Richard fol- 
lowed. The Parrot had risen appreciably — a 
good six inches, they thought — and this infor- 
mation they called out to Gus, who in turn told 
Ole. "Get her up nine inches," the yard-owner 
had said, "and we can haul her on a high tide. " 
The Tads continued standing there, out of earshot 
of the schooner, and from their gestures one might 
have thought they were discussing the chances 
of getting her up on the ways. 

"By Gorry!" began Richard, pointing at the 
ways, "I believe it's the key all right. Do you 
think they caught on?" 

"What if they did? Those two squareheads are 
safe enough, and the pilot — what could he do? " 
returned the artist, waving his arm at the clouds 
coming up out of the southwest. 

"Nothing but talk." 

"I'm itching to look at the thing, but I guess 
we'd better wait till to-night. Suppose we take 
the first watch at the pump." 

There was, however, no need for the Tads to 
pump that night, for with the turning of the tide 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 123 

came the gale Bill Ropes had promised them. It 
started in the southeast — a bit unusual for these 
parts, but then I believe the old hermit had his 
finger in it — and piled up the water on the back 
of a spring tide so that the lightened Parrot rode 
nicely enough over the cradle and by dusk she 
was high and dry on the ways. I can imagine a 
grin of relief on her whiskered old bow, for no 
self-respecting craft is very fond of lugging a lot 
of bilge water about in her innards — if it were 
rum, it would, of course, be diflferent. 

"Smooth as the hair on a she-mouse's belly," 
commented the pilot. "I knowed all we'd have 
to do was to pull oflf a few of her feathers and 
take the seeds out of her old crop." He must have 
had one seed in particular on his mind, for he 
strode oflf in the darkness without waiting for 
Gus's invitation to supper. 

The squareheads turned in, after supper, dog- 
tired from their work of ballast shifting. When 
the heavy breathing for'ard became regular, the 
Tads quietly pulled over the cabin-slide and closed 
the doors and skylight. As an extra precaution 
they stuflfed folded newspapers against the ports 
in the cabin-trunk lest some spying villain should 
sneak up the ladder and peek down at them. Then 
they lifted the cabin-lamp from its bracket, and 
dimming its light, set it down on the table 
between them. Thrusting his hand into his in- 



124 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

ner pocket, the artist paused a moment in silence. 
Through the door leaked faint Scandinavian 
snores scarcely audible above the monotone of 
the gale humming through the schooner's rigging 
and the brash of the ruflBed cove. Presently he 
withdrew the key from his pocket and rolling it 
out on the table pinned down the corners with 
outstretched fingers. The paper was thin, some- 
what rough, and had once been twice folded 
and showed the soil and wear of long residence 
in a pocket. Smoothly cut on three sides, the 
fourth was torn as though it had been hastily 
snatched from a book. Perhaps it had been a 
fly-leaf from the very volume of the "Naval 
Chronicle " which Southey mentions. Sprawling 
over it, like the body of some partly dismem- 
bered cuttle-fish, lay a crude outline done in 
ink that had faded to a light brown. At one end 
of the island — for what else could it be? — lay 
a deep bay. At the head of the bay a small 
rectangle projected into the water. Some dis- 
tance back, almost in the center of the island, 
was a small square; under it stood the symbols 
" 6 f s w 3." There was nothing more, just the 
bare outline, the two rectangles and the three 
letters guarded by the two numerals. 

"Not much to go by," said Richard, with a 
shade of disappointment in his voice. 

"No; but you would n't expect an old man on 



I THE >'LV vpf:K 

i rUBLJC L.r.RAKY 



AnOK.LbNOX AND 
■lhnK^ l'Ow*>.'bATJONS 
*< L 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 126 

a lone island to make a fancy sailor's drawing of 
it with an ornamental rosette to show where 
north is, and whales spoutmg in the water and 
palms and natives running around like Adams 
and Eves. And he would n't put the letters up- 
side down so as we read 'em, north is probably 
at the top of the sheet, east on the right hand, — 
and so on. Remember how the young Tom swanr 
into a cove opening to the westward — well, there 
she is — and that thing sticking into the water 
is the wharf he found in the morning when he 
walked along the shore in the lull. Now that 
little square in the middle of the island — " 

"Is the old hermit's house? But how about 
those letters?" 

"Oh, that'll come easy. The six and the three 
mean paces or feet or something. The *s w* 
probably means southwest. Six something south- 
west three something. Six feet ! — no, that 's too 
near the house. I have it. Six fathoms! Six 
fathoms southwest three — Why, of course." The 
artist's old brain was now galloping along at high 
speed. " Dcywn three feet I The old hermit would n't 
be able to dig very deep — he probably put it in 
his garden near the house where the digging was 
easy. All we have to do is to find the house and 
measure six fathoms from one corner — most 
likely the southwest one — in a southwesterly 
direction, and then dig till we find something!" 



126 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

"Hold on! We haven't found the island yet 
— and maybe the house is gone by this time." 

" Gee, Richard, where 's your imagination? We 
know the island was near Saint Thomas; most 
likely it 's still there, and all we have to do is to 
get a chart of those waters and pick out the island 
that looks like this. There can't be more than 
one with such a shape." 

"I guess you're right, William. But the next 
question is to get the right charts." I have an 
idea that Richard may not have been as stupid 
as he seemed at the moment to the artist — per- 
haps he had caught on to the other's little game 
of baiting. 

"Damn it all, Richard, do I have to do all the 
thinking?" exploded the artist, looking up just 
too late to catch the smile on the face of his 
friend. "Don't you remember when we bought 
our charts, the man gave us an index chart of the 
whole coast down to South America? All we have 
to do is to pick out the nmnbers that go with the 
rectangles covering the areas we want and then 
send a list to Washington together with a money 
order. In a few days we '11 have the whole busi- 
ness." The artist was in a fever of excitement. 

"And would your aunt approve of all this?" 
from Richard of graven face. 

"Hang my aunt — " burst out the artist, with 
not a little show of exasperation which suddenly 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 127 

calmed as a grin broadened on Richard's face. 
"But if I had one she'd come in handy to look 
after you." They had come just about as near to 
a scuffle as any gentle young fellows such as they 
and upwards of sixty are apt to come. 

At last they folded the key as it had been folded 
when Captain Tom must have carried it around 
in his pocket before he hid it away in the Ught 
pig, and they put it away in a tin dispatch box 
which was safely locked in the desk. Then they 
blew out the cabin-light and pushed back the 
companion-slide. The easterly, having done its 
duty, had backed into the southwest, dragging 
platoons of dark-bosomed clouds across the face 
of the moon, which alternately showed the stark 
nakedness of the old schooner — cold as a winter 
landscape — and then left her a darkened mass, 
dimly outlined about the Tads. 

"So Vest wind — southwest direction from the 
hermit's house, or the ruins of it," muttered the 
artist. 

"By Gorry! I believe it's a good omen." 



Four days after, Richard might have been 
seen stepping out of the post-office with a long 
roll in his hand. As he approached the yard he 
concealed the roll under his coat; that is, all but 
the lower ten inches which he carefully kept to 
loo'ard of him while he navigated his way toward 



128 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

the schooner. Near the ways lay a pile of lumber 
held up from the ground on cross-pieces, and in 
passing — he paused for a moment to see if any 
one were looking — he suddenly stooped and 
slipped the roll under the boards. But why all 
this secrecy? Perhaps if you were cruising in a 
reprobate old hooker that was continually ru- 
mored as a treasure hunter and one day, out of 
a clear sky, suddenly changed your plans from 
Florida to the West Indies, you 'd be doing very 
nearly the same thing. It is a part of the game. 
That night, under cover of darkness — that is, 
before the moon had come up to see what pro- 
gress had been made with the caulking — Rich- 
ard quietly sneaked down the ladder to return in 
a moment with the mysterious roll, which he laid 
upon the table before the expectant artist. If 
the excitement of the Tads had been intense 
when they first examined the key which they had 
found in the light pig, it was nothing to the emo- 
tion they now felt. Somewhere in that roll lay 
the proof of the key. With eager fingers they tore 
ofiF the wrapping, bit by bit. How in time did 
those fellows in Washington make such a thun- 
dering tight job of it? At last the charts sprung 
free of their wrapping like any corpulent lady 
emerging from a tight corset. The Atlantic coast 
and the Bahamas were incontinently chucked 
into the port berth — they could wait till later; 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 129 

but that third chart, of the little islands to the 
east of Porto Rico — that was what the Tads 
were after. Sure enough ! They were the Virgin 
Islands — the Tads now recalled the name from 
the junkman's story. And there, by all that was 
good and holy I was a sprawling island with a cove 
open to the westward, like the island on the key. 
It was the only one of its kind, and under it they 
read the name — "Norman I." 

"Well, I'll be damned!'' muttered the artist. 

"Me, too," echoed Richard. "Mebbe that one 
chance is working out after all." 

"See there! It says * Treasure Point,' maybe 
that 's where the caves are — I wonder if the her- 
mit did leave something there and it was found 
later and the point named from it?" A clammy 
fear crept into the hearts of the old Tads for 
the safety of the hermit who must have been 
dead these many years. Treasure Point began 
to spell tragedy to them. 

"And there's * Privateer Bay"! It must have 
been a real Treasure Island, William." 

Then their eyes caught sight of "Dead Chest" 
which the junkman had remembered "frim th' 
haythenish sound av ut." On a larger island, 
Peter, they found the deep cove. Great Harbor, 
which must have been the refuge the skipper of 
the Betsy Ann had hoped to make. And just 
north of the end of Norman lay a small cay, Peli- 



ISO THE GOLDEN PARROT 

can, on the edge of which the barque had prob- 
ably struck. There, before their very eyes, lay the 
romance and the tragedy of the sea. On those 
few square inches of chart the ill-fated Betsy 
Ann had made her struggle against the tide, and 
up from over the edge of the chart had come the 
black hurricane that had blown her to destruc- 
tion. Somewhere under that smooth surface with 
its scattered soundings lay the bones of the old 
barque, and the Lord knows where the bones of 
her crew had fetched up at last. On that octopus- 
Uke island had lived the hermit, in solitude till 
the coming of young Tom — and after he had 
gone? — that chart said nothing. 

** What do you say, Richard? Shall we go down 
there?" 

"Of course! Why in time did we get these 
charts?" 

"Was n't sure," answered the artist; "first we 
got this old hull for a house-boat, then we rigged 
her, and now instead of going to Florida — " 

"If you 're still thinkin' of Florida and oranges 
and alligators and sea-cows, you'll have to put 
it ofiF till another time. Vm goin' to sail this 
craft down to Norman if I have to put you in 
irons and ship another crew." 

"An' if ye do, I'll eat ofiF me hands an' gouge 
out yer eyes with th' stumps of me arms an' have 
ye hung t' th' yard-arm." 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 131 

I repeat these tender sentiments to show how 
the fire of youth, which had been dormant in the 
Tads all these years, had only been a-smoulder- 
ing. They would have put to sea that very night 
were they left nothing better than the stone 
trough of the holy Mael and a shirt for a sail. 

Sober thought now brought on a fresh problem. 
They could not so suddenly change their plans 
and set sail for the West Indies without taking 
Gus more or less into their confidence. They 
would sleep on it. They slept on it for several 
nights — for it was not till they were down oflF 
the ways and back in the anchorage oflf the town 
that they found their opportunity. Bill Ropes 
had been paid oflf and* was showing the town, or, 
more specifically, a blind tiger, to Ole who had 
shore leave. A row of jumpers and dungarees 
hanging on a line from the stays'l halyard, like 
the signal of some freak code, bespoke a dirty 
job happily finished. Below decks Gus had spread 
the contents of his ditty-bag on the galley table 
and was busy overhauling his blues. The Tads 
were stretched out on their respective transoms 
in the cabin. For some time they had been spec- 
ulatively blowing smoke up toward the skylight. 
They would call Gus presently — but somehow, 
now that their chance had come, either through 
pure cussedness or the deliberation of their years, 
they lay and waited in silence. They had been 



132 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

doing so for some twenty minutes. At last 
Richard glanced across at the artist, knocked 
the ashes from his pipe, and cleared his throat. 

"Oh, Gus, come aft a moment." 

The Swede appeared in the doorway and looked 
inquiringly at the Tads. Something, he guessed, 
was on foot, for the old gentlemen had been 
strangely restless and between pipes had taken 
to smoking three-for-a-quarter cigars, which the 
pilot had informed him could only be bought at 
the new drug-store with its ice-cream saloon. It 
was on the strength of this that Bill Ropes had in- 
ferred that the Tads must be millionaires, an op- 
probrium which the astute Gus had stoutly denied. 

" Gus — do you remember one day last summer 
when the junkman came aboard and spun a long 
yam in the cabin about the old captain who had 
this schooner built? Did you hear any of it? " 

"Or RoarirC Forty? Ay couldn't hjelp here 
das woice." 

** Remember when you were taking out bal- 
last the other day and there was a certain pig 
you called Mr. Humpty-Dumpty?" 

The Swede nodded, smiling at the recollection 
of his antics in the cockpit. Richard lay oflf on an- 
other tack. "How do you think the old schooner 
will stand an oflf shore cruise to the Virgins?" 

" She ban aalright now — good ting she spring 
a leak yust afore ve should go outside." 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 18S 

y "Well, if she had n't done it right here where 
we had to take out her ballast to haul out, we 
would n't be cruising to the West Indies." 

^^Vel nu skal jeg hffrer^ from the astonished 
Gus, who had relapsed into his parental tongue. 

"All we're tellin' you now, Gus," said Richard, 
earnestly scrutinizing the Swede's honest face, 
— "all we're tellin' you now is that we're goin' 
to make a little cruise to the Virgins. The less 
you know the easier you can lie about it if any 
one asks questions." 

'^And we're trusting you to forget all about 
the junkman's yam," added the artist. 

"Ay onnerstan. Sir." 

"And now, how shall we go down?" 

"Ve could make right for San' Thomas, but 
for dat ve vould need a sextant oond chrono- 
maytre. If it is no hiu^ry ve could yust so easy 
run down da coast til Yupiter Inlet oond den cross 
da Gulf Strom to da Bahamas. Dere iss plenty 
places below Sharleston vere ve could run in if de 
vedder vas bad. From das Bahamas it vould be 
easy. Das longer, but it vould be no vorry." 

This advice appealed to the Tads, and so it was 
decided. 

"Another question we ought to settle,'* con- 
tinued the artist; "there are only four of us on the 
schooner. When we come to go ashore some dark 
night to dig for — well, worms or something — 



134 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

we'll both want to go, of course, and we'll take 
Gus with us. Suppose we can't anchor in the 
cove or for some reason we may have to keep the 
schooner under way while we're ashore, Ole 
ought to have another hand aboard to help him." 

" You 're right about that, WiUiam, but where 
can we find another man we can trust?" 

"The pilot 's the only one we know; we could 
ship him as cook." 

"I suppose we might do worse, and so long as 
he knows nothing what could he do? If he should 
try any monkey business that big Dane would 
eat him up." 

"Which reminds me," put in the artist, "we 
have n't any guns aboard, not even a shot-gun 
for those ducks and oysters we missed in Chesa- 
peake Bay." 

"Gus did n't say anything about shootin' 'em; 
he only said they were there." 

"All the more reason for running in at Charles- 
ton on our way down," said the artist, ignoring 
this weak stroke on the part of Richard; "'t 
would n't do to buy firearms in this gossipy little 
town." 

"We'll be a regular pirate ship by the time we 
get through." 

" Ay tank ve skal have some fun — you can 
take my vord ven da time come ve can trust Ole, 
he ban good boy." 




CHAPTER Vni 

The Golden Parrot, sailing out of Beaufort one 
fine day, was quite another vessel from the 
schooner which had stumbled on the bar in the 
channel ten days before. To the eyes of the land- 
lubber she appeared the same, but to any wharf 
loafer there was a difference. It was all in her 
behavior, as though in the process of recaulking 
she had tightened her belt for something more 
important than mere meandering southward in 
search of softer climes. Ships that have a heart 
— some of *em are bom with a streak of cussed- 
ness that makes 'em gripe when they're close- 
hauled, and when off the wind they will yaw at 
every chance and turn round and look you in the 
face like a balky mule ; you 're always fighting 'em 
at the wheel till the whole crew gets down on 'em, 
and the captain feels their depravity and finally 
puts 'em on a reef, for insurance, or they sulk be- 
cause some bull-headed mate has loaded 'em too 
heavy in the ends — but those that have a heart, 
like any dog of sense or horse of spirit, will reflect 



136 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

the mood of their skipper and crew. Such was 
the Golden Parroty and she had become what is 
known as a taut ship. 

It began that very morning, after Richard had 
finished his second cup of coflFee — the pilot cer- 
tainly had Gus beaten seven ways for Sunday in 
making coflFee — and shoved it back on the table 
to give room to fold his napkin. 

"Cook!" he almost bawled it, "leave yoiu* 
dishes till we get outside. You '11 pilot us till we 're 
clear. Tell Gus to come aft." 

"Gus!" — to the Swede, who appeared in the 
doorway nursing a match with butt end carefully 
shaved to a chisel point — "we'll up anchor." 

"Aye, aye, Sir!" answered Gus, rising to the 
occasion with no little deUght at the authoritative 
tone of the Tad. 

As the wharves of Beaufort began to slip be- 
hind them, the pilot took up his position on the 
grating, grasping the fore-stay with one hand 
while his free arm directed the wheel to port or 
starboard, circling the hand to left or right, or 
momentarily reaching up at an angle with the 
command, "Steady!" The artist, standing a bit 
aft and to one side, relayed the orders to Richard. 
Port a bit," as the hand circled inward. 
Port a bit," echoed the artist. 
Port it is," from Richard at the wheel. 
S-s-teady!" semaphored the arm. 






THE GOLDEN PARROT 137 



Steady! 
Steady it is. 

Real ship stuflF to delight any boy of sixty. 

So they moved out to sea through the yellow 
sandy water while the squareheads lashed anchors 
crown to crown with shank painters and secured 
the dinghies mboard. 

The water under them changed from tawny to 
pale blue and then to a deeper hue as they 
rounded Fort Macon, half buried in the dunes of 
the point which marks the western side of the sea 
entrance; and they felt the long, easy ground swell 
underfoot which means, to all who know it, the 
heave of the ocean. The buoys of the outer chan- 
nel now stretched out before them in an arc curv- 
ing away to the southward in the sun path, as 
though tliey were saying, "This way, gentlemen.'* 
The pilot let go his hold on the stay and, turn- 
ing aft, said, "We're all clear, just follow the 
buoys. Sir." And from now on we'll know him 
as the cook. 

A fresh hand at the bellows sent the old schooner 
romping on her way with her scuppers in the boil 
and plenty of work at the wheel. The watches 
reeled oflF merrily enough to the humming of the 
little patent-log on the taffrail. At night the vi- 
brating rigging sent down low murmurings which, 
from the cabin, sounded like subdued voices on 
deck. To the Tads it became the catiserie of old 



138 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

Cap'n Tom and the hermit of Norman conspir- 
ing through the night watches while they fol- 
lowed the old schooner in the fulfillment of her 
destiny. Something, they began to sense, was 
acting beyond their own voUtion — they were 
becoming true seafarers. Superstition, the child 
of fear, crept into the make-up of the Tads; not 
that they were cowards; but there was something 
awesome in going to sea in their Uttle craft. 
There had been that delightful tingle in Richard's 
forearms as he handled the wheel on their way 
out of Beaufort and it had run up through his 
shoulders and gamboled down and up his spine 
all the way to the lightship oflf Charleston. It 
reminded him of racing from tree to tree in his 
boyhood days of Puss-in-the-Corner. 

At Charleston — they would have an all-night 
rest at anchor — the Tads chose to row them- 
selves ashore, where they bought certain blued- 
steel implements of persuasion, two spades, and 
took out a bill of health for the British port of 
Nassau. Before leaving the dock, they tied the 
spades to one end of a fathom of small line, 
lowered them into the harbor, and then secured 
the other end of the line to the dinghy's rudder. 
With the artist sitting in the stern, Richard 
rowed in a wide circle to fetch up under the Par- 
rofs counter, so that no one aboard the schooner 
could see the bit of line trailing down into the 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 139 

water behind the artist, CUmbing aboard over 
the rail, they tailed the dinghy astern and sat 
in the cockpit till the crew sat down to their early 
dinner in the galley. When they were assured 
that the two squareheads and the cook — they 
feared only the loose-hung tongue of Bill Ropes 
— had their feet well into the trough, as the artist 
put it, Richard hauled the dinghy alongside, 
fished up the spades and smuggled them into the 
cabin while the other kept an eye on the fore- 
hatch. 

"Smooth as the down on a humming-bird's 
chest,*' paraphrased the artist; "we'll have no 
gossip aboard this schooner if we can help it." 

One morning they raised the low line of the 
Florida coast and then they picked up the red- 
brick lighthouse at Jupiter Inlet — as Gus had 
said they would. Dead reckoning and soundings 
would fetch them anywhere they wanted to go 
along this coast, they learned from the confident 
Gus, who seemed to know the ocean floor as some 
of us know our own back yard. And now, for the 
first time in their hves, the Tads bade good-bye 
to their native land and sheered oflf for the Ba- 
hamas across that tepid stream which had so long 
been somewhere to the east of them and had al- 
most become a myth whose existence they had 
begun to doubt. As the hghthouse slowly sank 
back again into the horizon astern, they began to 



140 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

feel that they were sailing in new waters. There 
was a diflference in the pulse of the sea. " Ve ban 
in de stram now," Gus explained; the current 
steeped the seas — the Golden Parrot was cara- 
coling with a northeast breeze abeam, the spent 
breath of a gale that had blown itself out under 
Hatteras, or it may have been a stray bit of the 
trade which had wandered northward to welcome 
the Tads to the tropics. The water took on a 
starchy hue in contrast to the colder, deeper blue 
of the inshore current down which they had come. 
The air grew warmer and somewhat humid. 
Masses of strange-looking sea-growths floated 
past, and the artist reached down with a boat- 
hook and fished up his first bit of gulfweed with 
its curious little berries and sandy feel, for closer 
inspection. A Portugee-man-of-war bobbed im- 
potently between wmd and current like an u-i- 
descent bubble. A foolish hawk's-bill swimming 
northward, yellow-brown and white-satin-bellied, 
reminded them of a colored illustration in " Swiss 
Family Robinson." That afternoon Gus pointed 
out the bank-blink of Bahama Island reflected in 
the eastern sky, and warned how skippers, con- 
fident in the absence of it, had come to grief. 
Little by little the water under them darkened 
again to the clearest ultramarine they had ever 
known, as sign that they were now in "de 
oshun," as the natives called the deep channels 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 141 

between the islands. The bank-blink vanished 
like the sailor's pride-o'-th'-moming, and with 
nightfall came the friendly glance of the little red 
light on the island itself, abeam now, to give 
them a safe bearing for the night course. In 
the morning New Providence lay before them. 

It was while they were lying among the fleet of 
sponging schooners in the thoroughfare oflf Nassau 
that a small incident occurred which was to arouse 
the Tads' first suspicions concerning Bill Ropes. 
All hands and the ship's cook had slept the clock 
around on their first night in a foreign port, and 
after a late breakfast the Tads had gone ashore 
with Gus, to stretch their legs. From the very 
first days when the Tads had played about 
Boston in the old schooner, it had been a habit 
of Gus, when he had finished his work in the 
galley, to make up the berths aft and fill the 
lamps diu-ing some opportune time in the fore- 
noon while the Tads were busy loafing on deck. . 
The galley work for just the three of them was 
not enough to keep one from getting lazy, he had 
explained, so they had let him have his way. Even 
when they had taken on the Dane, Gus had jeal- 
ously continued with his small duties aft as cabin- 
boy. These were little intimate services which 
should not pass out of his hands so long as he 
should be with the Tads, and so it had gone on 
when they had taken on the cook. 



142 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

On this morning the cook seemed particularly 
slow in getting through below decks, Ole, who 
had been busied for some time replacing a worn 
halyard, began to wonder why the cook had not 
stuck his head up from the crew's hatch for his 
his usual morning blow. The clatter of dishes had 
long since died away. Then, while stooping to 
pick up a bit of rope yam, the Dane happened to 
glance down through the skylight where he saw 
the top of a black head moving across the white 
partition in the stateroom. It was Bill Ropes, 
now bending over the desk. As Ole watched him, 
the cook began methodically to go through the 
pigeon-holes and small drawers which he care- 
fully examined in turn as though he were looking 
for some one thing in particular. But he evi- 
dently had not found what he was looking for, 
and presently closing the top, he squatted down 
on his knees to pursue his search in the lower 
part of the desk where the Tads kept their tin 
box. Here his search ended, for the door was 
locked and the key to it was evidently ashore 
with the Tads. As the cook got to his feet, 
the Dane hastily resumed his position on the 
cabin-trunk, crouching over the halyard, with 
his back toward the skylight. Then he took up 
the halyard and walking aft with no less than 
the usual measure of noise necessary, sat down 
in the cockpit where he could look down into 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 143 

the cabin. The cook was busy making up the 
berth. 

"Thought I 'd help out Gus this momin'; we '11 
be busy enough takin' on water and stores this 
afternoon if we're goin' to sail to-night/' 

It was when Gus was relieving him at the wheel 
that night that Ole told of the strange actions of 
the cook. "Dar brin som'tang queer vid dat 
cook-faller, ve better keep an oye on ham," he 
had begim. Gus in his turn told the artist. The 
Tads, strangely enough, seemed but Uttle dis- 
turbed upon learning of the cook's actions. 
"Snoopin', is he?" commented Richard. So 
many strange things had come to pass since they 
had bought the old schooner that they came to 
look upon this small incident almost as a matter 
of routine. And was there not an air of conspir- 
acy in the seductive breath of the tropics? And 
who ever heard of a sea-cook, anyway, who was 
other than a villain? How could one expect to 
go a-treasure-hunting without at least one scoun- 
drel in the crew? Even if Bill Ropes hxid taken in 
the yard-owner's reference to the ancient gossip 
of East Boston and — By Gorry ! Perhaps he had 
seen them sneak the key from the hole in the light 
pig ! — but after all, what of it? Bill Ropes could 
only suspect, and now, so long as they kept their 
eyes on him, what could he do? And the incident 
of Nassau only served to weave romance into 



144 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

their lonely night watches and their day dreams 
as they ran down the outer cays of the Baha- 
mas, Eleuthera, Cat, Rum and San Salvadore, 
Crooked Island, the Caicos and Turk's — all 
names to conjure with and dream about — and 
then held up a bit to give Silver Bank a proper 
berth. 

Then, one afternoon, as the sun was swelling 
himself to take breath for his plunge into the 
Caribbean, the Golden Parrot fetched into the pic- 
turesque harbor of Charlotte Amalie, its houses 
rising from the water-front, up the hill slopes, 
like flecks of foam on a huge green breaker all but 
ready to curve over them. 

Saint Thomas in those days, like any well- 
ordered island of the West Indies, had its Gover- 
nor, a high dignitary of whom one. found men- 
tion in the pilot book, but never saw. He was 
there in print and one took it for granted that he 
was there in real life. Somewhat lower in the 
scale one found the harbor-master and the port 
doctor, who came aboard to examine our papers 
and give us pratique, and then went on their 
way. But on the heels of the harbor-master and 
the doctor came a little personage not in the serv- 
ice of the Danish Government, but fully as im- 
portant as any — at least below Governor — in 
the sum total of his many oflSces. He was Consul 
for Mexico, Peru, Chili, San Marino, and Persia, 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 145 

and I don't know how many more he may have ac- 
quired since I last saw him. He will coal, water, 
and consign your vessel to any known port, or, 
if he loses your trade, to the devil. In his store, 
which at the time of the Tads stood in the arcade 
by the King's Wharf, he would sell you anything 
from a case of Gamle Carlsberg beer made in 
Copenhagen to a fancy hat-band from Philadel- 
phia. Here were all manner of external and in- 
ternal commodities to suit the figure, heart, liver, 
stomach, or lungs of man. A fine spider's nest for 
the tourist to come afoul of and the rendezvous 
of many a West Indian skipper. His name — you 
already know it if you know Saint Thomas and 
if you ever go there you cannot miss him, for he 
will not miss you. We'll call him the broker. 

Upon the departure of the Danish oflScials, he 
steered his spacious bumboat alongside the Golden 
Parroty and with an injunction spiced with sonor- 
ous Spanish oaths, he ordered his black hench- 
man to stand clear of the "Gentlemen's yacht." 
Springing up the side ladder he presented his card 
to the Tads. 

' He was a rotund little man, in a suit of white 
and a boiled shirt with a standing collar girt with 
a black bow tie. He wore a white felt hat which 
he removed from time to time in order to wipe the 
top of his partially bald head with a large silk 
handkerchief. There was nothing of the sea- 



146 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

farer in his smooth-shaven, untanned face with 
its dark Semitic eyes. 

"My card, gentlemen, and if I can do anything 
for you while you're in Saint Thomas, I'm at 
your service." 

The Tads were incKned to be a bit frosty, and 
Richard thrust the card into his pocket without 
looking at the name. But they were presently dis- 
armed by sheer pressure of the broker's volubil- 
ity. He liked Americans, he said — his uncle had 
been consul at one time — and if there was any 
service they needed ashore he would be glad to 
put them onto the ropes. They were a rotten 
crew of robbers in there — waving his hand in- 
definitely toward the wharves — who would rob 
your vessel from under you if they but had the 
chance. Then he produced a sheet with the latest 
telegraphic news and said, "Oh, by the way, you 
must remember to leave your papers with the 
American Consul when you come ashore in the 
morning. If you '11 name the hour, I '11 send my 
boat for you and carry you there myself." 

The Tads warmed up a bit to the little man and 
Richard drew the card from his pocket, read the 
broker's name in the fading light, and proceeded 
to introduce himself and the artist. They asked 
him below, but he promptly declined saying that 
if he stayed aboard another minute he would be- 
come seasick. The schooner was slowly rolling 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 147 

under them to the incoming reflex of the Carib- 
bean. Then — 

"You Nat'aniel! Come alongside, nuh — 
mind the gentlemen's paint/' And to the Tads, 
"Adios. I'll send my boat for you after break- 
fast — nine o'clock — American time," and he 
backed down the ladder and into his boat and 
was rowed away. The Tads stood for a moment 
watching him disappear in the fast waning light 
and then suddenly seemed to discover that it 
was night. 

" Why, the sun went down only a few minutes 
ago!" ^ IT 

" Ve ban in de tropics now," came from Gus, 
who was setting out the stem light. 




CHAPTER IX 

There was something strangely reminiscent in 
the breath of the morning air as Richard lay 
awakening in his berth, and yet the more he tried 
to define it the more it seemed to elude him. 
Then by that squid-like habit which memory has 
of jumping backwards, the Swede's words rang 
in his ears as though they had been spoken but 
the moment before. " Ve ban in de tropics now." 
"So ve ban!" he mimicked, beginning to 
realize that they were not somewhere along the 
Maine coast, nor in Beaufort, nor even Nassau, 
but in Saint Thomas and only twenty miles — less 
than half a day's run from Norman. Too tired 
to discuss plans, they had turned in early, and 
now with a mind wonderfully clear Richard lay 
speculating on what the next few days might 
bring them. They would spend a day or two at 
Saint Thomas to get tiie lay of the land — per- 
haps a few stray bits of information about the 
Virgins might come to them — the broker would 
prove a good medium — and they could lay their 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 149 

plans ashore where they could talk without fear 
of bemg overheard. And then his mind cruised 
to the Virgins and he had begun to picture Nor- 
man when the thump of bare feet on the cabin 
floor, followed by an exclamation, brought him 
to his elbow and he saw the artist in pajamas, 
his head cocked up at the companionway. 

*' Who'd ever thought I'd be standing here 
some day, looking right smack up at a town. 
Why, if there was an earthquake we M get a deck- 
load of houses and things, all of a sudden." 

Richard got up and looked, too, and then, in- 
stead of mounting the steps for their morning 
sniflf and survey, the Tads tumed-to for a glori- 
ous clean-up now that they need no longer hoard 
their fresh water till they should put to sea again. 
The harbor could wait. There were those frisky 
white flannel suits they had bought at an end- 
of-the-season-sale on Washington Street, to be 
fetched from the depths of the clothes-locker, ties 
of almost unmoral hue, and soft harbor-gaskets 
that had been a-languishing these many months, 
for their old mahogany necks had known no 
collar since spring. Saint Thomas should soon 
behold the gay attire bought for shore-going at 
Miami, or even Palm Beach, and surely would 
not suspect such youthful Tads of piratical de- 
signs on hidden treasure. Then, too, there were 
busy sounds from the galley and — well. Bill 



150 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

Ropes had a way of making them eat like boys 
even if he might be a sea-cook and a villain. 

When at last they came on deck, the bumboat 
was alongside, and a few minutes later they 
stepped ashore at the Kmg's Wharf, where the 
broker awaited them in a dilapidated fiacre skip- 
pered by a negro in faded blue livery and a plug 
hat. Theu- new friend sat beside the driver, on a 
seat which was turned inboard, as one might say, 
so that he would face the Tads, and as they eased 
themselves into the cushions he gave the com- 
mand, "To the American Consul!" as though 
here were a couple of potentates going to call on 
the President himself. The native urged his little 
insular horses into a rapid trot by judicious ad- 
ministrations of a broken-backed whip and they 
were oflF. From the consul they pattered back to 
the wharf, where they found Gus and the cook. 
These two were put in charge of the broker's clerk, 
who was detailed to help them buy fresh provi- 
sions at native prices — so the broker said. Then 
the fiacre started oflF again on a riotous cruise 
while the broker recited the attractions of Char- 
lotte Amalie. In a vague way the Tads caught the 
names Blue Beard's Castle, Maneke's Villa, and 
Krum Bay; but their attention was fixed or 
rather strewn among the strange sights whirling 
by on either side as they clattered along the main 
thoroughfare. The narrow street, walled in by 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 151 

phalanxes of small shops and warehouses, none 
above two stories, held crowds of natives, ranging 
from coal-black to jaundice, which the horses 
were continually breasting and which closed be- 
hind them like the wake of a ship. There were 
gUmpses of washed-out-looking Danish gen- 
darmes in pale blue uniforms which heightened the 
impression of sickliness; a bluflf down-east skip- 
per from Portland; a sprinkling of rosy-cheeked, 
sweaty-handed German sailors and a pair of spruce 
oflScers from a British cable ship; kaleidoscope 
impressions that melted into the whole of a 
busy foreign port. Busy for the time being, be- 
cause a mail steamer had arrived, a collier had 
brought bunker food from Cardiff, and a tramp 
had stopped in from God knows where and would 
be on her way again as soon as the Old Man had 
refilled his private locker. All Saint Thomas was 
abroad like the population of Centreville when 
the afternoon train stops to drop the Boston 
papers and a passenger or two. 

Their land cruise came to an end with consid- 
erable flourish at the portals of the Grand Hotel 
where they debouched stiflf-leggedly, and found 
grateful anchorage at one of the round iron tables, 
like those of a trottoir cafe^ in the huge open room 
which extended along the harbor side, on the 
second story. Between the columns of its three 
arcaded sides ran an iron fencing, waist-high. 



152 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

The far end was laid out as a dining-room with 
tables abeady set for the West Indian breakfast 

— which we know as luncheon. 

Below was a small plaza with ^hade trees and 
palms and laid out in paths radiating from a tiny- 
grass-plot where stood a granite base bearing an 
heroic bronze bust of the late king, Christian the 
Ninth. Over the trees to the left, the red-and- 
white flag of Denmark curled valiantly in the 
breeze in briUiant contrast to the blue sky with 
its ever-passing trade-clouds. Before them, green 
hills closed in to the channel which opened to the 
Caribbean. Hugged in at the dock at the far side 
of the harbor lay the coUier and the cable ship. 
Preempting the fairway sat the trim mail steamer 
like an important liner. Farther out, skulked the 
truant tramp. Closer aboard, in shallower wa- 
ters, a condemned Norwegian barque rode pa- 
tiently at anchor — stripped of canvas — and 
waiting, the broker told them, to be sold and towed 
by the breakers to her last berth. A Lilliputian 
windmill on her poop waved its arms in desper- 
ate protestation while frantically pumping water 
from her leaking bilge. Oflf the King's Wharf — 
which forms one side of a basin where the bum- 
boats, the sea-crabs of Saint Thomas, congregate 

— lay a Dutch trading schooner from Saba; a 
trim black sloop with the blue colonial British jack 
at her topmast — from Tortola the broker said; 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 153 

and their own clean-lined little sea home, now a 
haughty little aristocrat among her rougher sisters. 

In eventual answer to the hand-clapping of the 
broker, a lanky native in shabby whites shuffled 
the length of the room and took up his position 
near the Tads. A small napkin dragging from his 
hand indicated his present office. 

"Tell Madame breakfast for three and fetch 
two bottles of Carlsberg quick!" The native 
slowly resumed his deliberate journey as though 
haste might at any moment prove fatal. The 
three resumed their survey of the harbor. 

The artist, who sat nearest the rail, suddenly 
fixed his attention upon a familiar figure on the 
wharf. 

"Why, there's Gus and your clerk loading the 
dinghy ! Guess we 'd better let him know we won't 
be out for luncheon." 

He was now on his feet, and in turning to make 
his way to the stairway his eye caught sight of a 
checkered shirt and floppy hat almost below him, 
across the way. There is no end of checkered 
shirts and floppy straw hats in Saint Thomas, but 
that figure, even though the artist could not see 
the face under the brim, could be no other than 
the cook. 

"Hello! Here's Bill Ropes; I'll call him." 

The broker, who had also jumped up, turned to 
follow the gaze of the artist. 



154 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

Just around the corner from the dock stood the 
cook, talking with a gaunt mulatto of about sixty 
in pongee suit and pith helmet. The two were 
apparently engrossed in earnest conversation, 
for, as the artist and the broker watched, the cook 
eased the bundles in his arms as if to gather more 
clearly the import of what the other was saying. 

"Carrahua! It's that dyam Tompas!" and 
grabbing the artist by the arm the broker drew 
him back so that they could watch unseen, 
through the grill of the railing. Bill Ropes was 
talking now, while the mulatto seemed to be keep- 
ing watch around the corner. Presently Gus fin- 
ished loading the dinghy and started back along 
the dock, apparently in search of the cook. The 
native addressed a short sentence to Bill Ropes, 
who nodded and rounded the comer as though 
he had just arrived at the wharf. The mulatto 
remained for a moment in contemplation, and 
then, turning on his heel, he walked down the 
street. 

"Your cook ever been in Saint Thomas be- 
fore?" asked the broker. 

"Not to our knowledge," answered Richard, 
who was now standing by the other two; " why do 
you ask?' 

"That old Tompas is the dirtiest scoundrel 
this side of Hay ti and he 's a dyam good man to 
keep your cook away from." 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 155 

** Yes, but what could he do? " The words came 
with unpleasant familiarity and Richard could 
hardly conceal a trace of anxiety as he added, 
"We'll only be here a few days." 

"The old pongo has the only small dock be- 
tween Barbados and Cuba," took up the broker, 
" and if he can get you up there it 'U cost you dear 
before you get down again. If your cook 's in ca- 
hoots with him, kerosene is n't the only way to 
make a bilge leak; or a cut lanyard might let 
your mast go as soon as you get out in the breeze 
— he 's got the only spars in Saint Thomas and he 
knows it." The broker seemed to be quoting from 
past experience. "He's full of dirty tricks." 

By this time the cook had reached the dinghy 
and the artist bolted down to the street and ran 
to the wharf just as they were rowing oflf to the 
schooner. 

"We'll stay ashore for luncheon and come out 
later in a bumboat," he called. His pace slack- 
ened as he tinned back toward the hotel. Damn 
Bill Ropes, anyway — he was too good for a cook, 
for in a hundred little ways the Tads had come 
to recognize the superior seaman in him — had 
he taken his berth on the long chance of the yard- 
owner's words and their subsequent change in 
plans? That loose tongue of his was hung in a 
hard head. They suspected him of guessing some- 
thing of their mission to the West Indies, but if he 



156 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

was waiting for big stakes, why should he bother 
with so small a matter as petty graft with a 
native? Suspicion chased one thought after an- 
other, but the artist seemed to get nowhere. 
" Guess we '11 just have to keep a weather eye on 
him and let it work itself out," he muttered in 
conclusion as he reentered the hotel. 

Richard and the broker were again seated at the 
table where the beer had arrived and was already 
poured out. As the artist sat down, the broker 
lifted his glass, saying, "Welcome to Saint 
Thomas; I hope I'll see you gentlemen here 
often." 

" Not if we have luck at Norman," thought the 
artist, reaching for his glass. Nor could the mild 
beer of Copenhagen take his thoughts from the 
mulatto — it was some time later that he remem- 
bered how delicious it was. 

**What did you say his name was?" asked 
Richard, by way of turning the conversation back 
into local channels. 

"Tompas — we Ve called him Old Tompas ever 
since his father died. My uncle used to tell how 
the Old Tompas — the grandfather of this one 
— got his start in business. 'Way back in the 
twenties, when the harbor was so full of ships 
you could almost jump across from one to an- 
other, the Old Tompas kept a sailors' boarding- 
house and was his own runner. In those days 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 167 

there Kved an old hermit on one of the islands to 
the east of here. In some way Tompas learned 
that the hermit knew where there was Spanish 
gold buried on the island." 
[<. At the mention of the hermit and the treasure 
the Tads' hearts leaped within them, but they 
betrayed no outward sign, and the broker con- 
tinued: 

"Tompas went to the island one night and he 
must have forced the hermit to tell him where 
the treasure was hidden — at any rate, he sold 
out his crimping business one day and bought a 
trading schooner, and after a while he bought 
more till he had a small fleet of them. Talk 
about nigger luck ! Carrahua ! " 

Richard looked across at the artist as if to 
say, "That must have been a mere dollop he 
left in the cave to avert suspicion; he must have 
received yoimg Tom's letter." 

"But what became of the hermit?" pursued 
the artist. 

"Oh, he died in time and then Tompas bought 
the island — said he was going to raise sheep on 
it; but he never bothered about the sheep; and 
when he died it passed on to his son, and then this 
Tompas kept it for a while, but he sold it at last to 
a man from Tortola, The people said he let it go 
because he did n't find what he was looking for." 

A gong sounding from the depths of the hotel 



158 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

announced that breakfast was ready and the 
broker convoyed the Tads to a table which had 
been set for three. The skipper from Portland ap- 
peared, in tow of his consignee, a dapper httle 
Dane, and took possession of another. A flock 
of noisy tourists drifted in at intervals and ar- 
ranged themselves like the counters of an abacus 
at a long table. The lanky native of the shabby 
whites presently entered bearing a huge tureen 
which he placed on a forlorn oaken sideboard of 
early Grand Rapids vintage, made a preliminary 
survey to count noses, and then proceeded to 
ladle its contents into a row of soup plates. 

The Tads, who had found a veritable mine 
of information in the broker, allowed him to in- 
gurgitate his soup in peace, but as soon as he had 
finished, the artist was at him like a persistent 
mosquito. 

**And what island did you say this Tompas 
owned?'* 

"It's called Norman. One of the British cays 
to the east of here — I Ve never been there, but 
my uncle used to speak of it. They say there 's an 
old tree on it with pirate marks on the trunk. 
But no one has ever been able to make 'em out, and 
if any one had, he would n't have told. The na- 
tives used to go over there and dig all around the 
tree till at last the Commissioner had to put a stop 
to it. When a native once got the fever it spoiled 




#-^ 






j|l4_!_-'_.._L^^ L I 




f'i. '\, • 



192 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

of his hand and then held it out to the Tads. 
"It's pitch. Long ago there was a boat-yard 
under the hill where this road lies. When they 
were leveling the land for the roadway, the na- 
tives found some old Spanish coins and necessity- 
pieces, and ever since they have susi>ected that the 
boat-builder must have been an ex-pirate and 
buried his treasure somewhere in his yard. This 
is the second time they have dug here since I 
came to Tortola. The other time it was under 
that tree," indicating a gnarled sea-grape near 
the landing. Then, as they continued up the path 
toward the house, "They've done so much dig- 
ging around the island and on the cays that we 
had to make a law to put a stop to it. Once they 
get a smell of treasure the natives let their gar- 
dens go hang and it 's too hard to get them to 
work.'* 

Here was an agreeable subject, and as soon as 
they were comfortably seated in the hammock 
chairs on the shaded veranda the artist harked 
back to it. 

"Necessity-pieces," he began, "how interest- 
ing. As I am a collector I know them from the 
catalogues, but I have never actually seen one." 

The Commissioner curled forward out of his 
chair and disappeared into the house to return 
presently with a small triangular piece of silver 
in the palm of his hand. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 193 

"Here is one I got from Breese, the harbor* 
master, you know," handing it to the artist. 

It was a sector cut from an old shilling-piece, 
but so worn that its identity could hardly be 
made out. 

"In those days, it seems, there was a scarcity 
of copper coins in the colonies, so they had to cut 
up the silver ones and use the pieces by weight. 
You'll see a tiny *T' stamped in one comer, 
which, I beUeve, stood for Tortola." It was 
evidently much prized by the Conunissioner who 
hovered over it during the Tads' examination, 
and when William gave it back, returned it to 
its place of safe-keeping before he sat down 
again. 

"Speaking of Treasure Island,'* continued the 
Commissioner — the Tads were quite certain that 
up till now Treasure Island had not been men- 
tioned — "do you see that little knob sticking 
out of the water between those two islands?" 
pointing in the direction of Salt and Peter. "The 
natives call it * Duchess,' but it's really *Dead 
Chest,' and they say that Kingsley's mention 
of it suggested Bill Bone's song. I've quite 
come to feel that the story is real, you know, 
and that Norman is the real Treasure Island — 
you must have passed it coming in. Breese tells 
me that about ninety years ago treasure was ac- 
tually taken from one of the caves on the island 



194 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

— perhaps you saw them on the western side — 
and that there is a tree somewhere on the island 
with pirate markings on it which no one has been 
able to decipher. No wonder the natives go silly- 
over treasure. The amusing part of it is that the 
craziest one of the lot is the only one who gets 
anything out of it. An old woman, in the bar- 
gain. Oh, she does n't dig, she lets the others do 
that — modem business methods, what? She 
lives over by Sea-Cow Bay and has periodic fits 
and dreams and when she comes out of her 
trances she tells the natives where to go to dig for 
doubloons — after they have come over with the 
local backsheesh. These fits always seem to come 
at about the fulling of the moon — the Doctor calls 
her a lunatique circulaire. Oh, these natives love 
to be fooled, and she always tells them that the 
conditions were not quite right or the moon was 
not full enough, or too full, and she spends their 
money on tobacco and rum and keeps more or 
less full herself till it's time for another fit.'* 

"Why don't you lock her up?" asked Richard. 
' "Good Lord! If I did that we'd have an in- 
surrection and they 'd have to send over another 
commissioner. Hello, here's the Doctor." 

They were struggling out of their chairs when 
a pair of hands, palms toward them, followed by 
two arms and a young man in riding-breeks came 
out from the doorway. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 195 

"No good getting up for me," he said. "Had- 
ley has just told you who I am and Breese told 
me who you are, and it 's devilish hot for Christ- 
mas/' Even so, he dropped into a chau- beside 
them without removing his coat. The Tads soon 
found that no one seemed ever to go coatless in 
those parts, except those who had none — it was 
not the custom. They were immediately fasci- 
nated by the olive-green puttees of a material 
that resembled felt, wound from ankles to knees in 
spirals of mathematical exactness — so neat that 
they wondered whether the winding of them was 
a part of the Doctor's daily toilet or whether he 
went to bed with them on, and how in time he 
could wear a hot poultice like this, anyway — 
the thought made their calves itch. His neck was 
done up in a white stock. Otherwise, he seemed 
to be a very sensible young fellow. But years in 
the tropics had taken the bloom from his face and 
replaced it with a ^Uowness that might have 
passed for tan. He had that common failing of 
the tropics, a liver. 

"These gentlemen have been kind enough to 
throw in their lot with us for dinner — they ' ve 
come down for a bit of fishing." 

" So Breese said. If these people did n't persist 
in sleeping in tight houses and eating underdone 
pork, I might have a little more time for fishing 
myself, but I '11 be glad to let 'em have my Salt 



196 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

Island man and he can show them fish till their 
arms ache." 

Salt Island evidently switched the Doctor's 
thoughts from fishing, for he pointed to the chan- 
nel and began, 

"Do you see that bit of a cay — " 

"Morrison's off," interrupted the Commis- 
sioner; "IVe already told them all we know 
about Duchess and Norman, and, oh, by the way, 
the old woman of Sea-Cow Bay has been off in a 
trance again. Some one dug a hole in the foot of 
the hill the other night." 

"Rirna lot, these natives, but still if I had any 
idea as to what those tree-marks are, I 'd go over 
to ^Norman some night myself and make a try 
for it." 

"Then don't let me hear of it," warned the 
Commissioner, grinning, "for I'll put Breese on 
you and we'll take away all your gold and lock 
you up for an example." 

" You won't know, I can assure you, but don't 
come around and try to borrow ten pounds if I 
chuck Government some day and go back to 
England," laughed the Doctor. 
\They were now joined by the Curator, a Scots- 
man of reddish hair and florid face that might 
have stamped him as any head gardener at'home 
till his speech betrayed him as an educated man 
and a scientist. He, thought the Tads, was the 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 197 

most sensibly dressed of them all, in cool white 
duck. His coat, rather loose in fit, was buttoned 
up to the throat, where a low mihtary collar en- 
circled his neck like the outer wall of a dry moat. 
On further acquaintance, the Tads discovered 
that he wore no shirt underneath. " Just the thing 
for us, Richard," — this aboard the schooner, — 
"you jump into your pants and give 'em a hitch, 
button on your coat, and — there you are, all 
set for the day and you can wash your face or 
not, when or if you have a mind to.*' 

**Do you know," began the Curator, when the 
introductions were over, "that Kingsley in 
his—" 

"Oh, I say," put in the Commissioner, "I've 
told 'em already. They '11 think all we 're here 
for is to dig up a bally mess of doubloons." 

" Would we be here if we could? " answered the 
Curator, Kf ting his hands as though it might some 
day be the will of Providence to show any one of 
them the way to hidden treasure. 

At this point the Parson appeared in the door- 
way, a man somewhat older than the other three; 
dressed in shiny broadcloth, the coat opened at 
the neck, showing a small area of white dicky 
attached to a collar which closed in back. 

" What do you say to a swizzle before the cook 
calls?" said the Commissioner. A gong sounded 
from below. "Cook's ready now — well, come 



198 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

along and I '11 show you how it 's done." And he 
led his guests down to the cool dining-room on 
the ground floor. Its bare concrete walls had 
been given so many coats of white paint that it 
seemed the room must have been cut from a soUd 
block of marble. Long windows high up under 
a ceiling with inmiense hand-hewn beams ad- 
mitted the trade breeze which passed overhead. 
Against an inner wall stood a massive sideboard 
of Santo Domingo mahogany, passed along from 
the days of the former Commissioner and prob- 
ably many before him. Under one of the win- 
dows stood a chest of the same wood, on heavy 
legs curved as though they had been bowed by 
the weight of many years. The floor was of 
wide, unpainted boards, kept scrupulously white, 
like the deck of a yacht, from much scrubbing 
with coral sand and salt water. Occupying the 
center of the room was a large, round table cov- 
ered by a snowy cloth that hung nearly to the 
floor, and set with places for six, with high-backed 
mahogany chairs. At each place was a button- 
hole bouquet of some tropical flower unknown 
to the Tads. On the center of the table was a 
large frosted cake. On tiny crossed staffs stuck 
into the top of the cake were the British Jack 
and the Stars and Stripes — made of paper and 
evidently colored by the Commissioner with his 
red and blue pencils. It was a charming bit of 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 199 

courtesy which the Tads did not miss. One 
would scarcely have thought this to be a table 
planned by a bachelor for a dinner where there 
were to be no ladies. But then, I have sat in 
company with dinner-coats in a bungalow ma- 
rooned in the mountains of Dommica, while the 
umpity-tum, umpity-tum of African drums on 
lonely hillsides has drifted in on the cold night 
air. 

The Commissioner, who had been working 
with infinite care over a tall glass pitcher in which 
he had proportioned an amber mixture from 
various bottles from the chest, now took up a 
long slender stick of white wood with a knobbed 
heel at one end which he lowered into the liquid. 
From a bowl of cracked ice he selected several 
pieces with a large silver tongs, and dropped 
them into the pitcher. With a deftness born of 
considerable practice he set the stick into rapid 
motion between the palms of his hands. The 
liquid changed from its dead amber to the lively 
gold of champagne, and as the foam rose and 
muffled the clink of the ice till it was heard no 
more, he suddenly stopped and with remarkable 
dexterity poured the swizzle into six glasses 
standing in a row of close formation. In a twin- 
kling the glasses were passed around, and hold- 
ing his to the Tads, he said, " Chin-chin, and the 
best of luck ! " Whereupon all hands drained the 



200 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

contents of their beady glasses. So the Tads had 
their first lesson in the making of the swizzle 
which had captivated WiUie "T/* and for all I 
know, led me to their part of the yarn. 

"You must make sure to remind me, after 
dinner," began the Parson as they sat down, "to 
point out a Uttle cay whose name suggested — " 

" Oh, I say ! Padre — '* arose from the throats of 
his three compatriots. The rest was lost in a roar 
of laughter. 

The swizzle had performed its duty, and al- 
though at first blush there seemed to be a wide 
gulf between the rather timid old Yankees and the 
young Colonials, they quickly found many traits 
in common. The underlying strain was the same 
— environment, only, had made them super- 
ficially different. But a good dinner takes no ac- 
count of such things, and, according to the Tads, 
it was a wondrous success. There were tiny 
oysters from the mangrove swamp, Virgin snap- 
per, English beef, ducks from Gorda Sound, 
Yorkshire ham, iced pate de faie grasy Italian 
claret, Spanish port, and, what pleased them 
most, a delicious coconut ice-cream, flavored 
with the vanilla-bean grown by the Curator him- 
self. As the dinner progressed the company grad- 
ually drifted into a happy state of internal well- 
being till the old negress who waited upon them 
was in a continual chuckle. When they finally 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 201 

quitted the table and dropped into their chairs 
once more on the shaded veranda, all six dozed 
off shamelessly over their coffee and cigars. 

Richard was the last to awaken, and as he 
opened his eyes he saw that the negress had 
brought out a small rattan table and the Com* 
missioner was about to serve tea. The cake which 
had been imtouched at dinner was now cut. The 
Tads, who had no suspicion that their visit was to 
be prolonged to such an extent, remained till the 
table was removed and the conversation began to 
fray out into local topics. Then they arose, and 
after thanking their host, made their way to 
the landing. There was movement aboard the 
schooner and they saw Gus put off for them in the 
dinghy. 

"Fine mess we've gotten into now!" growled 
Richard reflectively. 

"Wha' d'ye mean?" 

"Here we've accepted the hospitality of the 
Commissioner, knowing all the time that we've 
come to break the law that he's here to uphold." 

"By damn! I never thought of that," returned 
the artist, as this new complication dawned upon 
him. 

"I wish he had n't been so darn decent — we 
should n't have accepted his invitation — why 
the devil did we leave the schooner? I feel as 
though we have been unfaithful to the old ship 



202 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

and now as a punishment we've done an un- 
gentlemanly thing/' 

Prudish Conscience seemed to be holding high 
carnival with the swizzle and the claret and the 
port. Then the gleam of a fresh idea came into 
the eyes of the artist. 

"Yes — but the island is n't kts^ strictly speak- 
mg. 

"No, nor the doubloons either; the old hermit 
found 'em long before there was any fool law 
against treasure hunting." 

"And her put in the artist, " intended giving 
'em to the young Tom, did n't he?" 

"Then Cap'n Tom tried to pass 'em on to the 
junkman — and if we find 'em we ' ve got to pass 
'em on to Am." 

The Tads were suddenly struck aghast at the 
turn their own argument had taken. Till now 
it had never entered their heads that after all, 
should they find the doubloons, they would right- 
fully belong to the old junkman. It was the ad- 
venture of finding them which had taken such 
hold upon the Tads ever since they had dis- 
covered the key at Beaufort, that they had not 
even thought of what they would do with the 
doubloons should they actually secure them. But 
they were the Tads — how stupid of them. 

"After all," said Richard, as they got into the 
dinghy, "are n't we like the old man of Norman? 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 203 

We have all we need and more, and we '11 feel aU 
the better about it now if we give the doubloons 
over to their rightful owner." 

"Das yust vat ay tank, ven you vent ashore 
das mornin'," said Gus, who had caught the drift 
of the conversation. 

With lighter hearts the two climbed aboard 
their home and they slept through the most 
peaceful night they had ever spent on the old 
schooner. 

For a week — one of the most remarkable in 
the annals of Tortola — the Tads gave them- 
selves up to the delights of day cruising along 
the channels. In some mysterious way the peo- 
ple of Tortola seemed to have entered upon an 
era of exceptionally good health — cherubs and 
seraphs could not be more blooming, the Doctor 
had remarked. Also, a wholesome respect for the 
law had descended upon the island like a spirit- 
ual vapor, and the Commissioner found little to 
occupy his time, especially during the day — so 
why not go fishing with the Tads? As for the 
Botanical Garden, well, things vriU grow even if 
one is not there to watch. And the Padre — he 
had discovered that Sunday came only once in 
seven days. The Tads were not lacking in com- 
pany. 

The Doctor and the Curator, the Tads found, 
were great chums, and these two were the first 



204 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

upon the field, so to speak, for on the morning 
after Christmas — the Tads were at their break- 
fast — the Curator appeared alongside with a 
boat-load of plunder from the Botanical Gar- 
den just beyond the mangrove swamp. There 
were delicious jelly-coconuts, which were to be a 
new delight to the Tads, luscious ripe bananas, 
grafted mangoes with custard pulp, pink-skinned 
Bermuda potatoes, and golden pineapples that 
gave to the touch. Then came the Doctor, a very 
close second, rowed out by his Salt Island man. 
"Best man in the islands, isn't he, Mac?" he 
had said, turning to the Curator for corrobora- 
tion. "Smuggles,! suspect, when he gets achance, 
and he knows all the cays. He goes with us for a 
shilling a day and half the fish we catch, but I 
dare say he'll ask more from you. You're re- 
ported among the natives as miUionaires — all 
Americans are millionaires, you know," he con- 
tinued, surveying the cozy Httle cabin as though 
he, too, would apply this stigma to the Tads. 
**But I would n't give him more than two shil- 
lings, or you'll spoil him for us." 

The Salt Islander proved to be an active appear- 
ing native of about forty, almost pure African, 
the Tads thought, and with a smiling face which 
showed rather more than average intelligence. He 
called himself William Penn, a name probably 
borrowed and handed down through his forbears 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 205 

from the time of the dauntless admiral himself. 
At first he stoutly held out for four shillings, but 
the Tads promptly fetched him down to two — 
with the promise of a bonus at the end of his time. 

At night, they would find themselves ashore, 
foregathered in the depths of the veranda at Gov- 
ernment House, smoking and talking, feasting 
their eyes the while on the quiet moonlit harbor. 
It was an Utopian existence this, the like of which 
the Tads had never known, and they might al- 
most have forgotten their purpose in coming 
were it not for the moon, coming up later and 
fuller each night to remind them that their time 
was drawing near. They would need that moon- 
light, not so much for searching out the hermit's 
abode, but the better to forestall any ambush 
which Tompas and his henchman might prepare 
for them. 

The day arrived at last and the Tads had come 
ashorfe for their papers. Upon being questioned 
as to their next port of call, they had replied with 
naive truthfulness that they were not sure where 
they could fetch. The Commissioner cleared the 
Golden Parrot for the high seas. 

They were bidding thefr last good-byes on the 
jetty when the Commissioner remarked, "The 
place will seem quite empty when you are gone. 
Why, it seems empty already," he added, look- 
ing around, "there is scarcely a small boat on the 



206 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

beach and last evening I 'm sure I counted eight 
or ten. I wonder if that Sea-Cow woman has 
been up to more mischief — the moon's full to- 
night, you know." The Tads thought they caught 
a half -smile on the faces of the Doctor and the 
Curator, but they attached no importance to it 
at the time, for these two seemed always to be 
smiling over something or other. 

The afternoon was well advanced when they 
at last laid their course for the reef passage, and 
dipping their ensign to the httle group on the end 
of the jetty, heeled presently to the free breeze 
m Drake's Channel. 

So far, they believed, they had remained un- 
suspected. There was comfort in the sight of 
the Government sloop, lying peacefully at anchor 
astern of them, her awnings up, and with the glow 
of the westering sun on her naked mast. There 
was only one cloud aboard the ParroU and this 
became apparent as the town faded into the re- 
cess of the harbor. For once William Penn's face 
began to lose its usually cheerful aspect and he 
seemed more and more troubled. The Tads had 
paid him his two shillings a day, to be sure, but 
for some reason, even up to the very minute of 
departure, there had been no hint of the bonus. 
They had apparently forgotten him, and at last, 
while the anchor was being hove short, the negro 
had reminded Richard that he was still aboard. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 207 

"I know you are," replied the Tad; "now don't 
you worry about that, we '11 put you ashore when 
we get to Salt — perhaps." 

But he did worry about it. What did the old 
Yankee mean by that "perhaps"? And then he 
was not ready to leave Roadtown — just yet. 
Mr. Penn, as you should know, had a penchant 
for a certain dirty little rum-shop not far from the 
jetty — he had been saving his shillings for one 
grand taste of the flesh-pots of the small metro- 
polis of Tortola ere he should return to his quiet 
retreat on Salt. Till the very last he had re- 
frained — with native diplomacy — from men- 
tioning this small matter of business lest, in be- 
ing too forward, he might incur the impatience 
of the Tads. Then, as the cook went below, the 
artist beckoned to the negro, who pattered aft 
with expectant alacrity. 

"Do you see this?" began the Tad, who was 
playing with a gold piece of substantial weight 
as if it were a mere lucky penny or perhaps a 
loose button he had just pulled off his coat. 

"Yassur." The beaming native seemed to be 
trying to find a suitable place to put his hands. 

"It's yours if we put you ashore this after- 



noon." 



"Yassur — ef y o puts me 'shore dis evenin'?" 

"But if you stay with us to-night, there'll be 

more like it when we put you ashore to-morrdw 



208 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

morning," the artist continued with a meaning 
look; "do you understand?" 

Yassur," from the puzzled native. 

You know damn well you don't." And then, 
lowering his voice, "We're going to Norman. 



** iuu Jiuuw uauiii weu you nun u .^luu tin 

re goiug xo i>iorinaii." 
"You mean de tree?'^ 
"Something of the sort; now can we trust you 



to keep quiet?" 

"Doan* you trobble wid dat," answered the 
native, now all agog at the hint of adventure; 
"one han' wash de odder, bofe han's wash face." 

The sun was now withm an hour of his setting 
and the Golden Parrot lay close aboard Salt 
Island. For the sake of deception, lest they might 
be watched through the glasses of their friends at 
Government House, they ran into the shallow 
cove where a tiny village cuddled in the shadows 
of the island. Here they came into the wind. A 
native or two squatted on the beach where several 
canoes were drawn up under thatched roofs on 
poles to keep oflP the heat of mid-day. The glow 
of coal-pots could be seen in the gloom of the vil- 
lage and the odor of frying fish brought out to the 
schooner by the eddying breeze bespoke the eve- 
ning occupation. The men on the beach looked on 
in idle curiosity, and receiving no sign, made no 
move to come out to the schooner. Bill Ropes, 
who had stuck his head from the crew's hatch 
upon the rattle of idle blocks on travelers, looked 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 209 

inquiringly at the boats on the davits, turned his 
gaze on the figm^s inshore and then aft to the 
Tads. No one made a move. Then in a sharp tone 
Richard gave the order to back the headsails. 
The artist payed out the mainsheet and the 
schooner headed for sea. The venting was on. 




CHAPTER Xn 

The Golden Parrot stood out into the Caribbean 
till the sun left her, scarcely a mile from Salt, 
where she squared away for Norman, which could 
be made out just beyond the end of Peter. Giv- 
ing the wheel over to Gus, the Tads went b^ow 
to snatch a hasty bite. When they came on deck 
again the moon was coming up yellow, out of the 
sea, and Peter lay between them and Roadtown. 
The wind, which had flattened toward siuiset, 
was now springing up fresh again with the moon. 

" Get your supper, Gus, and then send William 
Penn aft," said Richard, as he took the wheel. 

The Tads were alone, with the huge mainsail 
— it seemed huge to them and always inspired 
a certain awe as they sat astride the wheel-box 
on their lonely night watches — towering before 
them, chalky-white in the moonlight. All was 
quiet but the casual hiss of a following sea and 
the protesting groan of leather on brass as the 
gaff swung to the slow pitch of the schooner. As 
though deep in the sleep of ages, Peter lay off 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 211 

their quarter, a dark outline like some earthy 
giant with his back to them, wrapped in his own 
shadow cast by the low moon. Neither spoke. 
The strangeness of it all seemed to hold them as 
in a dream. The tepid wind, scented with mys- 
terious land odors frisked from the cays strung 
out astern, seemed to have settled on the after- 
deck of the old schooner like some invisible fairy 
that would enter with their breathing and so cast 
her spell. They had neither age nor youth, those 
two; they were spirits, unhampered by the 
earthly, sitting on a cloud of their own that sailed 
over a deep blue sky. 

The spell was at last broken by the low rumble 
of surf, and peering under the foreboom, the Tads 
saw Norman showing pale and ghostlike oflF their 
starboard bow. A form rose up from the crew's 
hatch and padded languorously aft. 

"Did you ever hear of the old hermit of Nor- 
man?" asked Richard. 

"Yassur, my gran'f adder — " 

"Your grandfather never told you where he 
lived on Norman, did he?" 

"No, sah, he ain' toF me, but he toF my f adder 
— de house gone long time — w'en my fadder 
UT boy." 

"But do you know where it stood — are there 
any foundations left?" 

"Oh, yassur, dey stones lef, I carry you dere." 



i 



812 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

" Hooray 1 Tell the cook to come aft, and I want 
Gus to take the wheel while you and Ole keep a 
lookout forward." 

Now came unpleasant business and the Tads 
must proceed with caution, for as yet they had 
been unable to conceive a suitable plan of action. 
With uncertain feelings they watched the native 
go forward and bend over the hatchway and then 
take up his station by the f orestay . Presently the 
lank fonn of the cook emerged followed by Gus. 

As the Swede took the wheel, Richard stepped 
to the side of the artist in the cleared space of the 
cockpit, his right hand in his coat pocket. Bill 
Ropes had been watching the exchange in silence. 
Knees sprung a little, to take the motion of the 
schooner, hairy arms hanging down by his side, 
he faced them expectantly, his countenance be- 
traying query which strove to conceal, in the 
bright moonUght, a touch of defiance. 
Did you want me?" 

Yes," began Richard; "why did Tompas hide 
under the deck of his sloop when he followed us 
out of Saint Thomas?" 

The cook, who must have been expecting some- 
thmg of this sort, showed no sign of surprise, but 
the artist thought he saw him draw his eyebrows 
a little closer together as if seeking an escape from 
a direct answer. 

"Tompas?" he asked; "who's Tompas?" 






THE GOLDEN PARROT 213 

" Oh, come now — the colored man you talked 
with that first day at Saint Thomas — you saw 
him again the morning we left." 

Instead of making answer, Bill Ropes glanced 
speculatively at the end of Norman which was 
just showing abeam. Divining his purpose, 
Richard drew his gun. 

" Guess you 'd better stay right where you are." 
And then to the artist, "He's fighting for time, 
William — bring her into the wind, Gus, we Ve 
got all night." 

Gus spoked over the wheel, the foresail jibed 
with a bang, and the schooner swung into the 
trough of the seas, her sails flapping with reports 
like pistol shots. The Dane and the negro sprang 
aft to tend the mainsail. 

" When we left you aboard that last afternoon," 
Richard continued, as the schooner came into the 
wind, her sails atremble, "you made for the state- 
room right oflp and took the keys from my trousers 
in the clothes-locker — did n't you? Then you 
went to the desk and got at the tin box. You 
did n't find what you were looking for and you 
locked it again; then without looking anywhere 
else you put the keys back where you found 
them." 

For once the cook was taken aback. How did 
those old fuddy-duddies know he had looked 
nowhere else but in the desk? Even Gus lifted his 



214 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

eyes from the compass at this stroke. Pemi 
gaped with open mouth and staring eyes, first at 
the gun, then at the object of its aim and finally 
around to the Tads. 

^^NoWy what's your game with Tompas?" 

"Honest to God, sir — " began the cook, but he 
was cut short by an impatient oath from Richard. 

"Put your hands up over your head — that's 
right." Then, while the Tad held the gun at the 
pit of the cook's stomach, Ole was conmianded 
to fasten his hands behind his back with a piece 
of small line. Then the Dane held him by the 
shoulder lest he lose his balance and fall over- 
board. 

" We can't make you talk if you don't want to,'* 
said Richard, replacing the gun in his pocket, 
"but if you do you'll be all the better oflF when 
we reach Florida." 

" Wipe me eye if ye ain't got me high an' dry,'* 
said Bill Ropes, who seemed to be taking it eas- 
ily enough as though even were he high and dry 
at the moment, he would presently float himself 
oflF again on the tide of confession. 

By the merest chance, he said, he had hap- 
pened to look up through the mirror as the artist 
had thrust a paper into his pocket. This, the 
cook surmised, must have come from the piece 
of ballast the Tads had been investigating. Of 
course, the yard-owner's mention of the purpose 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 215 

for which the schooner had been built immedi- 
ately came to him, the cook, who put two and 
two together — as one naturally does. Then, the 
change in the plans of the Tads, a few days later, 
from Florida to the West Indies, clinched the mat- 
ter. He was curious about it — who would n't 
be? When they had reached Saint Thomas, he 
had run afoul of Tompas, who wanted to get their 
trade in ship's stores and who was naturally in- 
terested in knowing their last port and where 
they were going. When he. Bill Ropes, had said 
that they had come from Nassau where they had 
only spent a day, and that their charts only took 
them to the Virgins, the mulatto seemed to smell 
a rat. "Ye see, I had a look at them charts that 
mornin' at Nassau." 

"Yes, and they were not the only things you 
had a look at that morning," put in William. 

"Parbuckle me liver fer a gang of white mice! 
I thought that squarehead," indicating Ole, "had 
his eye on me. And as you know, I did n't find 
it." 

"Well," continued the cook, "I'd heard you 
say somethin' about Norman an' I told Tompas. 
Then he was sure, and he told me that he owned 
the island an' there was some stuflp buried there, 
but he could n't find it. Then / told him about 
the paper thet come out of the pig an' if I found 
it we'd beat you to it and split even. But it 



216 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

was n't in the tin box, so I figured you had it in 
your pockets. W'ich I told him that last momin', 
an' I was to lay low an' he 'd be waitin' f er us. 
I was to foller you ashore an' meet him on the 
beach while his man would be follerin' you — 
we figgered you 'd take the squareheads along to 
do the diggin' — an' when you found the place 
his man was to come back an' we 'd take you by 
surprise. No dirty work, sir, but seein' as he 
owned th' island — " 

" Well, he lied to you about owning the island 
— and then you'd run oflF with the schooner?" 
pursued Richard. 

"Nothin' like that, sir; I was to take the 
pins out o' th' steerin' gear so you couldn't 
foller us. Tompas 'd hide his sloop in a little bight 
just to th' east'ard of a landin' beach on th' south 
side of th' island." 

The Tads turned to Penn. 

*' Yassur, dey li'l' cove at de en' ob de ilan'," 
asserted Penn, who was eager to show his knowl- 
edge. 

"Guess he's telling the truth," said the artist; 
" that is, more or less of it. There must have been 
some sort of signal." 

"Three low whistles, sir, an' ye c'n stew me 
Adam's apple ef I ain't tellin' th' truth." 

"P'r'aps you are. Help the cook down the 
f orehatch, Ole, and tie his feet," ordered Richard, 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 217 

"Well, there are only two' of /em to reckon 
with," said the artist, when they had squared 
away once more. "What do you think we'd 
better do?" 

"K I could say a vord — ay tank Ole ban yust 
de size of das cook — narly — " 

Richard jumped at the suggestion. "We'll 
put Ole in the cook's clothes and have him follow 
us ashore. And when Tomjms steps up to him 
— there'll only be one left." He chuckled at the 
picture of the huge paw of the young Dane 
shutting oflF all utterance from the mulatto's 
throat. 

So they fetched the cook into the cabin where 
they stripped him of his dungarees and the same 
blue-and-white checkered shirt he had worn on 
that last morning in Saint Thomas. In the fore- 
castle they found the floppy straw hat which he 
always wore when he went ashore with the mar- 
ket-basket. The exchange was quickly made. 
While Ole was of the same height as the cook, he 
was a bit the bulkier of the two, but they prayed 
that the deception might last long enough for the 
Dane to get his hands on Tompas. Then they 
ordered the cook to sit on the floor and with legs 
and arms encircling the mainmast, they tied his 
hands and feet. 

"You can hug that for awhile — it's a good 
alibi to ease your conscience for missing your 



218 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

appointment with Tompas," grinned Richard, as 
they left him, leaning comfortably enough against 
the bulkhead. 

While the Golden Parrot is heading up for Flan- 
agan Pass, let 's go below and have a look at the 
chart of old Norman's island. A bit over two miles 
in length, it lies with its main axis running nearly 
east and west, some six miles south from Road- 
town and almost under the lee of Peter. Stretch- 
ing out octopus-like to the northwest, its juncture 
with the backbone of the island forming the bowl 
which encircles The Bight, lies the arm which 
holds Man-of-War Bay. Like all these small cays 
which form the southern barrier of Drake's 
Channel, the island is covered with a low bush 
which, in the winter months when the cool, 
moist trades sweep over, trailing frequent rains, 
presents from a distance an appearance of being 
thickly wooded. But upon nearer approach the 
traveler finds that the only trees are a few 
stunted coco-palms which despairingly encircle 
The Bight, and groves of small trees which creep 
up under the protection of the higher portions of 
the island. At the southern entrance to Man- 
of-War Bay lies Treasure Point with its two caves 
which look out upon Flanagan Passage. From 
these caves a path ascends along the ridge of the 
point to West Hill, scarcely three eighths of a 
mile to the southward, the highest point on the 



THE GOLDEN PARROTt 219 

island. From the top of this hill which com- 
mands Privateer Bay, the eye can follow almost 
the entire shore-line of Norman except that part 
which is called the Landing Bay, and is cut oflf 
from view by its sister hill to the eastward. With 
glasses one can not only penetrate the depths of 
Road Harbor, but also sweep the entire length of 
Sir Francis Drake's Channel from Saint John to 
Virgin Gorda and the Caribbean from Gorda to 
Saint Thomas. A more ideal cay for the use of 
privateers could hardly be imagined, for here, at 
the head of Man-of- War Bay, The Bight afforded 
excellent anchorage during the season of the trade- 
winds, while on the approach of a sail of suspicious 
cut, ample warning could be given to slip cables 
and run for the high seas or lead a merry chase 
through the intricate passages about Saint John, 
and finally elude pursuit under cover of night 
in one of the numerous coves to the westward. 
Directly across Flanagan Pass, at the head of 
Coral Bay on the neighboring island of Saint 
John, lies Hurricane Hole, where, during the calms 
of the dreaded hurricane season, the privateer 
could remove ballast, send down his top hamper, 
and hidden from the sea by the surrounding hills, 
heave down his ship in one of the shallow coves 
to repair the bottom from the ravages of the 
dreaded teredo, secure from winds or human 
enemy. 



220 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

At the head of The Bight stands the rickety 
old jetty. It was here that I had landed when I 
visited Norman a year later in the Yakaboo. To 
the northeast of the jetty, in a grove which 
mounts the ridge, stands the pirate tree, of a 
species of hard wood locally called cedar, with 
certain cabalistic markings cut deep into its 
smooth bark. Southeast lies the tiny clearing 
with the ruins of the old store-house and the 
ancient well now devoid of water and half filled 
with debris. From the clearing a goat-path leads 
directly inland to the small plateau where stood 
the house of the old hermit. Another path Ues 
through a thick grove choked with bush to the 
I^anding Beach on the south side of the island, 
and beyond this you will find the tiny cove 
(marked with a small anchor) where Bill Ropes 
has told us Tompas would secure his sloop. 

Since Columbus first sighted these islands from 
the rolling deck of his caravel as she wallowed 
down the trade from the Lesser Antilles, Nor- 
man's owners have been few, probably only the 
pirate, the hermit from Peter, and the three 
Tompas; its only continuous inhabitants count- 
less generations of goats, the descendants, doubt- 
less, of those first left there by the early Spaniards. 

The moon was now swinging up over the back 
of Norman as the Golden Parrot with only her 
mainsail standing — like the erect fin of some 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 221 

huge sailfish on some snooping venture bent — 
chugged into Man-of-War Bay where every rock 
and tree stood out as in broad dayhght. The 
Tads stood in the bows watching the bottom 
pass under them, so near, it seemed, that their 
keel miist strike at any moment. Even the waters 
of the Bahamas had not been as clear as this. 
In some mysterious manner, the Golden Parrot 
had come upon a stratum of buoyant air on which 
they were gliding over a surface of white marble 
where the shadows of the dinghies, swimg out on 
their davits, accompanied that of the schooner 
like wingless birds. 

Suddenly the engine became silent and a mo- 
ment later they saw the anchor plunge down to 
meet its shadow and come to rest on the white 
sand like that of a toy boat in a bathtub. There 
was scarcely a ripple, so close were they under 
the lee of the hill whifcih bowled up around 
them, and the soft brash of the tiny swell from 
their wake was the only sound as it broke on the 
even beach. 

The Tads went below to gag the cook while 
Gus put the two spades they had bought in 
Charleston into the larger dinghy, and lowered 
away. Then the negro, followed by the old men 
and Gus, got in and silently pulled for the jetty. 

While Gus was making fast at the end of the 
jetty, the Tads looked up and down the beach 



222 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

in search of footprints. As far as they could 
see, the smooth sand lay undisturbed. *'Cute 
beggar/' muttered the artist; "I'll bet he's 
watching us from behind those coco-palms." 

"All right, Penn," commanded Richard, and 
they set out, the Tads following the negro and 
Gus bringing up the rear with the two sjmdes. 
The native headed directly for the coco-palms, 
standing like a colonnade with a cleared space, 
almost a wagon-foad width, between them and 
the grove which climbed the slopes behind them, 
and turned south along this cdlee. Over their 
shoulders the Tads caught glimpses of the Golden 
Parrot between the tree-trimks, fleet glimpses 
in which their loving old eyes saw their trim little 
home sitting jauntily on the glassy bay, the peak 
of her mainsail swaying in the high airs like the 
tail of a faithful dog, as though she were trying 
to say, "Oh, shucks! What do you want with 
those old doubloons, anyway? Let 's go to sea for 
a romp.'* A figure was emerging from the crew's 
hatch when their attention was diverted by 
Penn. 

"Look de sto'-house ! '* They had come upon 
the cleared space where the stark walls of a small 
stone building shone sepulchral in the moonlight. 

"By gracious!" exclaimed William; "this must 
be the store-house that Cap'n Tom mentioned to 
the junkman." All thought of the schooner was 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 223 

swept away and they were suddenly back in the 
days of the old hermit. There was no vestige of 
a roof and they wondered whether it had ever 
been replaced after that hurricane of 1820. They 
would stop to peer through the crumbling door- 
way at the place where the young Tom had found 
refuge after the lull of that awful blow, but the 
inexorable Penn held on with quickened gait — 
past the ruins of the old well where the hermit 
had fetched water for the parched lips of the sole 
survivor of the Betsy Ann — and plunged into 
the grove directly for the heart of the island. 
William Penn was in no romancing mood this 
evening; hia sole purpose was to take these queer 
old men to the place where they might dig up 
doubloons — lots of 'em — the tale of which his 
wrinkled old grandfather had crooned to his 
father on the doorstep of their little hut on Salt, 
and which he in turn had been passing on to his 
wide-eyed pickaninnies. 

>"Sh! — what's that?" whispered the artist, 
catching Penn by the arm as the crash of leaves 
smote then- ears. 

"Dat ain' no nigger — dat on'y lizard in de 
leav'; I t'ink we wreckin' dere sleep.'' But this 
sound of lizards crashing through dry leaves was 
something new to the Tads, and it kept their 
thoughts on the native who must be following 
them somewhere through the lights and shadows 



224 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

of the baby forest. The trees began to thin and 
presently the four came out upon an open pla- 
teau, a scant acre in extent lying under the brow 
of the hill. Penn halted a moment to get his 
bearings and then made for the center of the 
clearing. 

"You stop here," he conunanded, as he 
started oflF again on a widening detour. Suddenly 
he turned and beckoned to the others. Drawing 
near, they made out a rectangular patch in the 
scrub grass, which resolved itself into a low wall 
of masonry scarcely a foot high, some thirty feet 
square and formed of rough blocks of coral rock 
cemented together. This, the Tads guessed, had 
been the foundation of the old hermit's house. 
Of the house itself, which must have been of 
wood, there remained not the slightest trace — 
myriads of ants had long ago seen to its destruc- 
tion. Nor was there any other evidence that here 
had once been a human abode. Within the en- 
closure the ground was humped and hollowed 
and in places the foundation had been broken 
and the coral blocks cast aside. 

•* Plenty people been diggin' 'roun' here,'* 
chuckled Penn, "but de oV hermit, he cute, he 
know better dan plant money inside de house.'" 

"Guess he did," answered Richard, fishing a 
small compass from his pocket. 
^ As on the paper of the light pig, the founda- 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 225 

tions lay to the cardinal points. Placing the com- 
pass on the southwest corner, the Tads sighted 
a line directly southwest along which they meas- 
ured oflF six fathoms. At this point they laid 
oflF a square of some six feet and here Gus and 
Penn began to dig. The ground was loose and 
loamy, admirably adapted for a garden, and it 
was not long before the Swede and the native 
had cleared a hole knee-deep. But to the Tads the 
time dragged on into eternity while the moon 
seemed to be sailing over them at a f lu-ious rate. 
So much had passed since sunset, that morning 
must overtake them before their task was ac- 
complished and with sunrise would come the 
danger of detection. Native sloops were in the 
habit of fishing in Flanagan Pass and the report 
would quickly spread that the Oolden Parrot had 
been seen in Man-of-War Bay. Richard looked at 
his watch and found that it was only ten o'clock. 
Then, as if action on their part would hasten the 
digging, the Tads took to walking back and forth 
between the foundation and the deepening hole. 
They were like a couple of young husbands pac- 
ing the hallway without the room whence the an- 
nouncement might come at any time that they 
were fathers. They were expecting many little 
yellow children. A yell from the negro suddenly 
brought them to the hole which was now almost 
waist-deep. The earth had sunk away a few 






226 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

inches in one corner and here Penn was excitedly 
burrowing with his hands. 

"Oh, my f adder — wot is dis!" He held up 
a lump of something in one hand while still dig- 
ging with the other. 

It was a crumbling piece of rotted wood. Then, 
sitting up on his haunches, he rubbed something 
on the ridge of his thigh and held it up to the 
Tads who were bending over him. It was round 
and shining, and yellow, and showed the austere 
features of Carlos IV, Hisp. & Ind. R., and bore 
the date 1771. 

Ay tank — " began Gus. 
*Ay tank' we've found the wherewith to keep 
the old junkman in rum and tobacco for the rest 
of his life!'' shouted William. 

Penn cleared the earth from a hole into which 
he had thrust his hand. There were more pieces 
of crumbling wood and the hole widened to a 
circle of metal some two feet in diameter. It was 
the rim of an iron pot, such as was used in the 
old days for boiling soap, filled nearly to the top 
with earth-stained discs. Again he reached down 
— with both hands — and dumped a load of 
clinking doubloons on the grass by the knees of 
the Tads. Nothing but doubloons, as the junk- 
man had said. 

"What a find!" exclaimed Richard, as the 
sweating native, working like a crazy steam- 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 227 

shovel, scooped up the doubloons by the handsf uL 
"I wish the old junkman were here. It was too 
easy!" 

"Easy, you said it, easy,'' chimed in the artist; 
"but how in time are we to get 'em all down to 
the schooner; we can't fetch 'em in our pockets. 
Never thought of ihat^ did you?" 

But the resourceful Gus had already thought 
of it, and, jumping out of the pit, he began to re- 
move his trousers. Then he knotted the ends and 
began scooping the doubloons into the twin bags. 
When they were about half full, he stood up and 
hoisted them to his shoulder, slinging the legs 
fore and aft. 

"Das yust ban good cargo," he said, as he put 
them down again. 

The Tads were not slow in following suit, nor 
Penn, till the entire contents of the pot were dis- 
tributed among the four pairs of trousers. 

" By gracious ! I never thought they 'd weigh so 
much," said the artist, struggling to his feet with 
his burden; "I must have all of sixty pounds." 
The Tads had been given the lighter loads, and 
they estimated afterwards that there must have 
been some two hundred and sixty pounds in all 
— sixty-eight thousand dollars — a tidy enough 
bit for any old junkman. This, of course, was 
not the sixty-thousand pounds sterling men- 
tioned by Southey, nor would old Norman have 



228 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

left any such miserly sum, and that is why, from 
the very first, I have maintained that what the 
Tads found was only a part of a picayime cache 
left by some upstart privateer of a later day. 
But enough of this, and now, while our four 
shirt-tailed adventurers are trudging bare-l^ged 
on their way to the beach, I'll have to whisk 
you to other scenes, and because thirteen is an 
unlucky number we'll go right on to — 



CHAPTER XIV 

It seems that one evening, after the Golden Par- 
rot had cast anchor at Tortola, Rumor glided 
down to Roadtown from Sea-Cow Bay and raised 
its head in the little rum-shop of one Chattergoon, 
hard-by the market-place. The old woman, it 
whispered, was having another fit. 

"She alius habbin' fit — she doan git no mo' 
ob my shillin'," said one, rather hastily finishing 
his dram of rum. " Me t'ink me go home now, me 
gofishnin'indemamin'." When he had departed, 
another said — 

"Fishnin'? How dat fool nigger Ue, de on'y 
fishnin' he ebber bodder wid is de goFfish w'at 
nebber swim in de sea!" Whereupon a second 
patron finished his dram and left, explaining that 
his old woman had been suffering from chills and 
might need the doctor. 

"Heol* womin!" from another; "yout'inkdat 
jumbie cyat bodder wif de doctor ef she dyin'? 
Mebbe I see ef he ain' stop in Sea-Cow Bay on 
he way home." At which the others roared loud 



230 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

guffaws, for none of them lived out of town. But 
their minds were hard at work to think up as 
plausible excuses for getting away from their 
cronies. When at nine, the last of his guests had 
left — a full hour earher than was his wont to 
close his shop — old Chattergoon swung-to his 
shutters and barred them, not without consid- 
erable care to do so noiselessly, shd a shilling or 
two and some tlirupi>ences into his pocket, from 
the httle till under the counter, and was about 
to close the door — from the outside — when a 
feminine voice from the dwelling half of his es- 
tabUshment arrested him for the moment. 

"Hiah, you oV Chattergoon! You ain' f oiler 
dem ragtail to Sea-Cow Bay?"' 

"Me? Dyam de fittin' ole womin! Me go 
down by de jetty.'* And he locked the door on 
further utterance. 

Chattergoon did go down to the jetty — and 
then he betook himself along the beach, in the 
direction of Sea-Cow Bay. 

Now the old woman of Sea-Cow Bay, being a 
dyed-in-the-wool astrologer and soothsayer, was 
hardly in the habit of rubbing the froth of the 
soapweed on her lips and simulating the epilep- 
tic fit without first consulting her chief ally, the 
moon. From sundown to sunrise are the only pro- 
pitious hours for the prognosis of treasure-hunt- 
ing. But half the nights in the West Indies, as 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 231 

everywhere else, — taken by and large, — are 
devoid of moonlight, and it is on the dark nights 
that the jumbie lurks to catch the native who 
wanders from his own shack. The jumbie shuns 
the bright hght of the f uUmg moon, however, and 
on such nights the coral road to Sea-Cow Bay, 
winding around the double point from Roadtown, 
Ues like a gleaming white ribbon, unshadowed as 
at high noon. And so, at varying intervals, the 
door of her little shack was oi>ened to the entrance 
and departure of the quondam customers of Chat- 
tergoon, and finally Chattergoon himself. 

It is well known that pirate treasure is jealously 
guarded by the spirit of the one who buried it, 
and that he has the power to move it from place 
to place underground till at last it is revealed to 
the one he intends shall have it. That's why 
I told you to begin with that it was only the her- 
mit's doubloons the Tads found, and that old 
Norman, who fell in love with the dainty little 
YdkaboOy will guard it for me till I can finish this 
yarn and go down for it in my schooner. And so, 
just to keep him in good spirits, I leave the cork 
out of my rum-bottle so that he can slip down at 
any time and help himself. I often find, after a 
night of no moon, — you see, the jumbies keep 
the natives off the island on dark nights and old 
Norman can leave his treasure, — that the level 
in the bottle has gone down a bit, although I 



232 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

keep it securely locked from my Bahama boy 
and carry the key in my pocket. 

No one, not even the old woman of Sea-Cow 
Bay, can tell how the spirit of the one who buried 
the treasure may be disposed toward the searcher. 
That is far from her province. All she can do is 
to tell where, on the night of a full moon, the 
lucky one may dig and perhaps be rewarded. Af- 
ter all, it's a gamble, and she, better than the 
rest of us, knows the craze of the negro for gam- 
bling, else why the growing pile of coin of the 
realm, George's, and Edward's, and Vic's, and 
even old William's for that matter, under the ant- 
eaten floor of her hut? 

Her clients had invariably been sworn to se- 
crecy and each would be given a certain night and 
a certain hour for his oi>erations. But this, as you 
shall see, was an unusual case. 

"O Lard! O Mary!" she groaned from her 
crummy bed, "I heers dem doubloon clinkin', 
dey 's movin' roun' an' roun' de pirut tree. Dey 's 
bin oneasy ebber sence de schooner cum. Dey 
knows de ole men knows whar dey be, but dey 
doan' wan' no 'Mericums take 'em 'way." 

"Whafur do?" from the uneasy client, who 
begins to scent obstacles. 

" O Lard !0 Mary! Dey oneasy, dey ain' goin' 
Stan' still fo' no nigger," and she falls back rigid 
as a stick of logwood. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 233 

After an awesome moment in which she is 
making up her mind as to the financial status of 
her chent, she murmurs: 

^Xlose ma eyes wid silvah — shiUin's is bes\'' 
And if her chent is one of the opulent, it is, 
"Trupansis," or even "sixpansis on top to hoF 
'em down." 

The rite of the silver having been i>erformed, 
her body gradually relaxes and from the oracular 
her voice becomes confidential. 

"Lissen you! De ole white men dey know how 
stop dem doubloon frum goin' roun' an' dey dig 
'em up. But w^en dey dug up, on'y Africum kin 
take 'em 'way — dey doan' wan' go 'way wid 
white men, das why dey goin' roun' an' roun' de 
tree. 

"I tells ten people an' dey mus' each sen' one 
odder to me, an' dey mus' go in ten skiff, two by 
two like de animuls in Noar's Ark. Dey mus' 
hide in de bush by de pirut tree an' bide f o' de ole 
men an' w'en de clock strike ten — ef yo nig- 
gers cyan' git dem doubloon 'way frum de ole 
men — " But the effort was too much and her 
voice trailed off in silence. 

Chattergoon, strange to say, was the tenth, 
and the next night the old woman had ten more 
visitors, and so it came to pass that on the night 
before the Tads left Tortola, ten boats found their 
way to the beach on the south side of Norman. 



234 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

The whites of twenty pairs of eyes gleamed in 
the bush around the pirate tree, and as the moon 
swung up past the place where she ought to be 
at ten o'clock, twenty souls opened for Unease 
to enter, whereupon Doubt followed after to 
flirt with Unease and breed Restlessness. 

"Me t'inkin' dat ole woman trick us; de ole 
men ain' cummin' heah dis night,'' said one. 

"Mebbe dey cyan' fin' de tree," suggested 
another. 

"Cyan' fin' de tree nuttin'; ain' dey took 
Willyum Penn wid 'em?" 

"O Lard, wha'f dere 'nudder pirut tree we 
doan' know nuttin' 'bout? " 

"Das right. An' here we fool niggers is sittin' 
aU night w'ile de ole men mebbe sailin' 'way wid 
de doubloon." 

It was then that Chattergoon suggested, "Le's 
we-all go down de bay an' see ef de schooner 
dere." Upon which the other nineteen of His 
Majesty's subjects of Tortola rose from their 
haunches and followed Chattergoon down 
through the bush toward Man-of-War Bay. 

We'll leave the twenty, as we did the Tads, 
marking time in this sort of literary treadmill 
while we round up Tompas and his henchman, 
Josil, and then with our three roi>e yarns unlayed 
and the ends whipped, so to speak, I can splice 
up this chapter in proi>er fashion. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 235 

By those devious underground methods known 
to diplomats and natives, Tompas had learned 
that the Golden Parrot had cleared from Saint 
Thomas for Tortola, and, since any small vessel 
cruising for pleasure in these parts was looked 
upon with suspicion, the Tads would sail directly 
for Roadtown to bide their time and learn the 
lay of the islands ere they would make their 
attempt on Norman. So when he followed the 
Tads out of Saint Thomas that morning, his 
sloop was, in all probability, well stocked with 
water and provisions. I say in all probability, 
for this is what I should have done were I in 
his place. You see, Tompas and his man, Josil 
Jean, are the only ones in this yarn I have not 
interviewed in person concerning what went on 
at Norman on this particular night — I have 
my own private reasons for keeping clear of 
Tompas for a while at least. It is safe to assume 
that Tompas made up his mind that the Tads 
would plan to land at night and that they would 
bring the Golden Parrot into the only safe anchor- 
age for a vessel of her draft — Man-of-War Bay. 
As we know, there was no habitation on the 
island. According to Bill Ropes, Tompas had 
planned to camp in one of the caves and would 
keep his watch on the Golden Parrot from the top 
of West Hill. We shall not be far wrong in guess- 
ing that after Tompas had seen the Golden Parrot 



236 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

stand in to Road Harbor, he loafed under the lee 
of Saint John till sundown and then, under cover 
of darkness, he ran across Flanagan Pass to 
Treasure Point. Here he landed his stores and 
then sailed around the south side of the island, 
where he beached his sloop in the cove between 
the double points. As the rise and fall of the water 
in these parts is not more than a foot, even dur- 
ing the spring tides, the sloop would be safe 
enough as they left her with a line run from her 
bow and hauled taut with a tackle to a small 
tree up the beach. After carefully hiding all 
their gear in the bush, they made their way back 
to the caves. Here the two, alternating their 
vigil from the top of West Hill, must have 
watched the goings and comings of the Golden 
Parrot on her fishing expeditions in Drake's 
Channel. 

I can imagine that wicked old eye of Tompas 
peering through the end of his battered telescope 
as the schooner stood out on that last afternoon, 
eagerly watching her every foot of the way across 
the channel till Peter cut her off from view. Then, 
perhaps an hour later, he could not have failed 
to pick her up again coming up to the south of 
Norman, her white hull shining like a lazy white- 
cap under the dark shadow of her sails, and when 
he was at last assured that she was heading up 
for the passage, he betook himself with Josil to 



A^irr S L /■ •  ' -, 



f 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 237 

the head of the bay where they hid themselves 
in the bush. Here they saw the four land at the 
jetty, and then Josil left his master to follow 
them into the bush. 

Soon after, Tompas saw the figure of the floppy 
hat and the checkered shirt hoist itself from the 
forehatch and slowly walk aft to the dinghy 
hanging in the port davits. So it was all accord- 
ing to programme that he of the checkered shirt 
should lower the boat, shde down one of the falls, 
and row to the jetty. Tompas waited until the 
figure had advanced halfway up the beach and 
given the signal of the three whistles. Then he 
stepped forth to meet his ally and his ally came 
on — a bit precipitously as it might have occiu'red 
to him later — and Tompas opened his mouth to 
speak. 

At that very instant a long arm shot forth 
with a huge paw on the end of it which fetched 
up around the back of the mulatto's neck like 
a cargo-hook, and before the words which were 
framed for utterance could be launched, the flat 
of a calloused hand — too broad to bite — was 
thrust against his mouth. Then something akin 
to a cow-catcher swept the bewildered Tompas 
from his feet and he was let down upon the 
sands, while a great weight descended upon his 
stomach and a vise began to squeeze his ribs. 
The floppy hat rolled oflF, and his staring eyes 



238 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

beheld the Dane sitting astride of him, gripping 
with his knees. Rage followed on surprise and 
Tompas shot forth his hands in an attempt to 
reach the other's throat. The cargo-hook let go 
from the back of his neck, but came back in the 
form of a sledge-hammer and he knew no more. 
Like any first-class A.B. handling a sail, Ole 
gagged him, roUed hun over, and tied his hands 
and feet. The operation was altogether neat and 
ship-shape — but Ole had made just two mistakes. 
First, he had tackled the mulatto a little too close 
to the coco-palms, and then he had incautiously 
turned his back on them to tie the native's feet. 
As he turned, two forms sprang from the bush 
and he suddenly lost all interest in mundane 
aflPairs. With great ease and alacrity and no small 
amount of chuckling, these two gagged and 
bound him and, leaving him beside his victim, 
sprang into the bush again. 

It was Tompas who groaned and came to first, 
and then to ease the cramp in his neck turned 
his head. His eyes beheld his prostrate assailant 
and began telegraphing the news through numbed 
nerves to his slowly waking brain. For a space he 
lay there absorbing the fact, and then cautiously 
rolling to his side he bent his knees and brought 
his feet to his hands. Painfully his puflFed fingers 
unloosed the knot which had all but been hauled 
taut. At last he pulled the line from his ankles. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 239 

rolled over on his stomach and got up on his 
knees. Old buck that he was, he managed to 
get to his feet. With reeling steps he approached 
one of the coco-palms and backed up to it. To 
push the gag, so that it fell down around his 
neck like a cinema cow-puncher's bandana, was 
not so difficult, but his hands, that was another 
matter. Like a cinnamon bear scratching his 
back, Tompas rubbed the lashing of his wrists 
against the trunk, but these knots had been 
yanked taut and the bark was smooth. 

Ole was groaning now and the native realized 
that he must work with speed. Then he be- 
thought hunself of the rough corners of the store- 
house and he ran for it. Just as he was about to 
step out into the clearing he saw some one emerge 
from the bush at the opposite side, and he drew 
back into the shadows. 

"Josil,datyou?'' 

" Whar you? "' answered the? familiar voice, and 
Tompas ran out to meet him. 

"Loos' ma han's! man — loos' ma ban's — we 
done tricked." 

Josil cut the line while jabbering excitedly to 
his master. 

**How you come tie — whar de cook — dey 
diggm' by de hermit Ian'." 

"Hush, niggah, dey trick us — sen' de deck- 
han' asho' in de cook clos' an' he hog-tie me. Den 



240 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

sumbodie mus* V tie de deckhan' — an' dar he 
lie on de beach — ain' no use we stop heah." 

"Wha-do?" 

In Heu of direct answer, Tompas suddenly 
bolted for the beach, Josil at his heels. "You take 
de odder,*' he ordered, as he jumped into the 
nearest dinghy and shoved oflF for the schooner. 

Two bumps that would have called forth a 
fathom or two of Gus's choicest language, had 
he been there, announced the arrival of the boats 
imder the counter of the Golden Parrot and the 
two natives crawled in over the rail and made 
fast. As he straightened up Tompas looked 
down into the cabin, where he saw the face of 
Bill Ropes in the moonlight which shone in 
through the skylight. In a jiflFy the cook was 
freed, whereupon he rubbed his slobbered lips on 
his sleeve — and spat. 

"One o' them swivel-nosed, fish-eatin' scow- 
hoovians seen me huntin' in the desk,*' he began, 
and then in forceful terms he outlined the scene 
on the deck of the Golden Parrot on her run down 
from Salt. 

Tompas, in turn, explained how Josil had seen 
Gus and Penn digging by the ruins of the hermit's 
abode, and then he wound up with the discovery 
of Ole lying bound beside him on the beach. He 
could n't fathom that. Only one thing was clear 
— they had possession of the schooner. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 241 



(( 



You say we clear out with the schooner and 
lie oflP and dicker with 'em? What if they find 
the sloop?'* 

"Den we f oiler 'em — de gol' b'long ma islan', 
doan it?" 

At this Bill Ropes solemnly closed one eye and 
cocked the other up toward the skylight with an 
expression of divine inspiration. 

"It's a blind sailor can't see th' soft side o' 
his donkey's breakfast," observed the cook. 

To heave the anchor clear of the bottom was 
but the work of a moment and Bill Ropes and 
Tompas set the foresail while Josil got up the 
head-sails. Then the cook ran aft to the wheel, 
and while the others tended the sheets, the Golden 
Parrot slowly swung on her heel by the urge of 
the high airs, and with saUs set wing-and-wing 
she headed for the channel. 

At this moment Chattergoon came out upon 
the beach. 

"Look de schooner." 

Nineteen others looked and saw, and with a 
wild yell they charged after the schooner. 

"Holy Fadder!" came in imison from Tompas 
and Josil. 

For once speech failed the cook as he tmtied 
and saw the whirlwind of Africans flying after 
them. Speed is a latent quality of the West In- 
dian, who rarely moves faster than a walk — he 



242 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

does n't have to; but by the law of compensa- 
tion, when fear of jumbies or the pursuit of dou- 
bloons calls for rapid motion, the energy he has 
been accumulating acts like a charge of high ex- 
plosive and he becomes a black projectile. Also 
he can swim like a porpoise. The channel at the 
entrance to Man-of-War Bay is narrow. Under 
the lee of the island the schooner was as yet mov- 
ing hardly faster than a walk. Bill Ropes knew 
this as well as Tompas and Josil and the horde 
on the beach. 

The cook might have started the engine, but 
in that moment when he had closed one eye and 
cocked the other skyward, an idea had come. 
11 the Tads had really gained possession of the 
treasure, would he not fare better, as Richard had 
said, by sticking to them? So he would gain time 
through makmg no mention of the engine. But 
how to get rid of Tompas and Josil whose sus- 
picions would be aroused by any untoward move 
on his part? Then, while they were making saU, a 
plan had come to him. Now a compKcation had 
arisen, or rather twenty of 'em, which demanded 
haste. 

There is an ancient trick of the bugeye, the 
oyster-dredger of the Chesapeake, and well 
known among aU small-boat sailors, which is 
called "paying oflP." For this the bugeye, a small 
schooner with slanting masts and leg-o'-mutton 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 243 

sails, is admirably adapted because of the facility 
with which she may be jibed without undue strain 
to her gear and rigging. Oflf season she is usually 
handled by her owner and a boy, but when the 
dredging time is on there is need of extra hands 
to man the tongs. As often as not, the skipper 
will "go foreign" to some out-of-the-way town 
he has never visited before to take on his extra 
men. Then, after they have dredged up a full 
cargo, he will lay his course for the home town 
of his crew and when he 's close inshore he calls 
them aft, ostensibly to pay them off before land- 
ing them. At this time he always manages to be 
sailing before the wind with a free sheet so that 
his silver will not slide off the wheel-box, when — 
well, you can't keep a vessel on her coiu'se, if 
she 's a bit cranky, and count out money at the 
same time, and he ducks just as the heavy boom 
jibes over and sweeps the crew off the narrow 
deck. Providence, as you might say, has taken a 
hand and the skipper doesn't have to bother 
with the money after all, nor with landing his 
crew — they swim ashore. Bill Ropes had at 
one time been the owner of a bugeye. 

So when he had gone aft to take the wheel, he 
slacked the lifts to let the boom hang low — and 
bided his time. 

The natives were almost abeam now, and 
Tompas and Josil stood gaping at them with their 



244 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

backs inboard when a rampant squall — prob- 
ably in cahoots with the old hermit — bellied the 
sails. With the craft of his kind, the cook toyed 
the wheel till the mainsail began to waver, Tom- 
pas suddenly recognized Chattergoon who was 
bringing up the rear. 

"Wha' yo' doin' on ma islan'?'* 

"Tain* yo' islan' — whar de ole men — whar 
de doubloon?" came back to him. 

Then the boom swung and Tompas's answer 
became mixed with the salt water of the bay. 
Josil had left the schooner at the same instant. 
When the two came to the surface the nearest 
dinghy was just out of their reach and the Parrot 
was gathering speed. 

Chattergoon tried again — 

"Whar de ole men — whar de doubloon?'* 

"Me an' Josil knows/' answered Tompas, who, 
realizing that " de good Lard " had sent him strong 
allies, was now putting in his best eflPorts to gain 
the shore. 

The Tortolans had stopped and were now 
gathered at the water's edge to await the land- 
ing of Tompas and Josil. Presently Chattergoon 
espied four figures at the head of the bay. They 
were helping a fifth to its feet. 

"Me, too!" he exclaimed and started off in 
pursuit. Like a school of fish which suddenly 
reverses its course, the twice-baffled twenty now 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 246 

headed back in furious chase. The five disap- 
peared into the bush. 

Flight came as first thought to Penn as he made 
for the bush while the others followed instinc- 
tively. Then Richard thought of his gun and 
reached for his pocket. But his hand only touched 
the hem of his fluttering shirt-tail and he made 
another try somewhere in the region of his neck. 

"It's gone!" 

"What's gone?" from the panting artist. 

"My pistol — I must have dropped it when I 
took oflF my pants — what '11 we do? Those fel- 
lows will comb the island till they find us and we 
can't stand 'em off." The artist discovered that 
he, too, must have lost his gun. They were now 
at the edge of the clearing. 

"Dey mus' hab boat on de landin' beach," 
yelled Penn over his shoulder as he tore past the 
store-house and darted into the bush where the 
path led away to the south. The five had a start 
of nearly half a mile and a stern chase is always a 
long chase, but a trousers-load of doubloons is 
no feather weight for such as the Tads. Ole had 
shouldered William's load and the two old men 
were bringing up the rear swinging Richard's be- 
tween them. But it was awkward going at best 
as they followed in the narrow path while the 
bushes switched in the wake of the others with 



246 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

vicious cuts. Their torture did not last for long, 
however. Soon the bush began to thin out and 
they came into the open once more where the 
half -moon of the landing beach stretched away 
before them. As their eager eyes swept the shore 
there was not a boat to be seen. Then, halfway to 
the point, what had at first appeared to be a group 
of rocks, lying about a hundred yards offshore, 
resolved itself into a fleet of ten small skiffs drift- 
ing out to sea with the breeze. 

Their one last hope — they were not wasting 
any words — now lay in Tompas's boat which 
ought to be in the cove just around the point 
half a mile away — unless the mysterious agents 
who had first overcome Ole, and had now set the 
skiffs adrift, had beaten them to it. So they ran 
on, along the hard sands by the water's edge. 
Here was easier going, but the Tads were still 
lagging behind like a couple of barefoot boys 
making off with a bag of apples. One must not 
expect too much from men of over sixty even if 
they have been in the habit of rowing twenty 
miles or so in a wherry every Sunday for a quar- 
ter of a century or more. 

The Tads had covered nearly half the distance 
to the point, with Penn and the Scandinavians 
now well in advance, when a blood-ciu'dling yell 
came up from behind. The natives had come out 
upon the beach and in one glance had seen their 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 247 

boats drifting away on the tide and their quarry 
legging it for the point — two lagging behind with 
a burden between them. The chase was getting 
hot. Picture 'em, — mouths open like wind-sails 
and nostrils distended to the breeze like ship's 
ventilators, — spurred on, with diabolic energy 
after the laboring Tads. Chattergoon was in the 
ruck now with Tompas and Josil, while youth was 
serving the young bucks in the lead. Three of 
these, running abreast and some lengths in ad- 
vance of the rest, seemed to be covering twice 
the distance of the Tads who jogged valiantly on. 
But it was of no use. Presently the Tads could 
hear the pounding feet behind them, commg 
nearer at every step, and William finally gasped, 
"Oh, let 'em have it." So they dropped their 
load like the golden apple of Hippomenes, and 
freed of their burden, sped after the others. 

As I got it from the Tads later, I do not know of 
any one who ever dropped some fifteen thousand 
dollars' worth of gold, with greater reluctance, 
and yet, having dropped it, experienced such a 
feehng of relief. Also, each took me aside when 
the other was out of earshot and swore that when 
they let go the trousers, his heels had been 
bouncing oflF the shins of the native behind him at 
every step for at least a hundred yards, and if 
they, the heels, had not been of rubber but of good 
hard leather, they could have broken those shins 



248 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

and in turn put the whole gang of natives hon 
de combat, and made off without the loss of i 
single doubloon, leaving the beach of Normal 
strewn with broken shin-bones, as you mighl 
say. 

But this being a perfectly true treasure yam, 
I must adhere to fact, and while the foremost na- 
tives were very close astern of the Tads, they had 
not been as close as all that. 

When the trousers fell clinking to the sand. 
the middle one of the three was half a stride 
ahead of the other two. The West Indian native, 
when you come to know him, is, cA initio, a so- 
cialist of the deepest dye. Let one of a com- 
munity rise above the rest and the mass will leave 
aU else to pull themselves up to his level, or to 
drag him back to their level, whichever way you 
may dioose to look at it. Immediately the Tads 
let go their burden, the two flanking ones reached 
forth, and using their companion as a sort oi 
moving fulcrum, projected themselves through 
space and landed on the trousers, each with a 
strangle hold on a leg. 

"Das mine!" both shouted, beginning to pull 
away in opposite directions. Whereupon the one 
they had so basely used wedged himself between 
them, sitting against the face of one and bracing 
his feet on the face of the other in hopeful en- 
deavor to dislodge one or both. I should have 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 249 ' 

explained that among other interesting charac- 
teristics of the native is his ability to use his 
teeth for fighting purposes. So while one set of 
incisors was sinking through the worn portion of 
a trousers' seat, another began what might have 
been a rather expeditious operation for the ciu^e 
of congenital flat-foot. There being no local 
anaesthesia at either of these incisions, the pain 
was acute, and with a howl, number three rolled 
clear while his traitors secured firmer grips. Had 
Richard's trousers been of a certain make one 
used to see advertised, an elephant hitched to 
one leg, while a long line of gallant Percherons 
strove to haul the other in the opposite direction, 
with no apparent discomfort to the trousers — 
I beUeve the illustrator had depicted a smile on 
their seat — the natives might have remained 
there augmented by the others as they came up, 
tailing eleven on a side, heels dug in sand and 
arms encircling bodies till starvation should put 
an end to their tug-of-war, and some chance 
traveler should find them, twenty-two skeletons 
bleaching on the sands, with the doubloon-loaded 
trousers grinning wickedly between them. 

But like all trousers of my acquaintance, 
Richard's had human frailties, and long before 
the twenty-two had tailed on, they gave way un- 
der the tension, the seams ripped, and the dou- 
bloons poured out upon the sands. Whereupon 



250 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

the two sides fell apart, separated, and came to- 
gether again as an onrushing wave draws the 
sea away from a rock and then sweeps over it 
in a deluge. The place became a froth of dou- 
bloons, sand, and fighting natives. Chattergoony 
Tompas, and JosU came upon a whirling cheval 
de frise of legs and arms. Then, as the wave 
passes on to leave the rock bare once more, the 
pile separated from the deflated trousers. Tom- 
pas gave one look and started anew after the 
fleeing Tads who were just disappearing around 
the point. 

"You dyam fools," he shrieked; "dey on'y 
lef' you han'ful." 

But when the natives reached the point, the 
five had already flung their burdens into Tom- 
pas's sloop, put their shoulders to her bows, 
climbed aboard, and with the floor-boards for 
paddles, were heading out into the Caribbean. 

"De skiflFs ! '' yelled Tompas; "dey ain' got oars 
— we ketchum in de skiffs." And once more the 
now weary natives reversed their course back 
along the beach toward their boats which were 
still within easy swimming distance. 

I'll wager old Norman and the hermit were 
having a fine time watching those natives run- 
ning first in one direction and then in another 
over the island. Something like this, perhaps, 
from the hermit: 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 251 

"Well, well, I'm having more fun out of this 
than I ever did when I was alive. I say. Die and 
enjoy life. This will last me halfway through 
eternity." 

"You've chantied a thorax-fuU," from old 
Norman, who delights in his slang. "I hope that 
fellow of the Yakaboo rigs up something for my 
doubloons — but I'm not grumbling, he gives 
me bully rum — I'll take you up sometime." 

When the five put their shoulders to the sloop, 
they little thought that they should tumble 
aboard a craft with neither sails nor oars nor even 
a rudder, and that to propel her they should have 
to resort to the floor-boards for paddles. As they 
slowly urged her out into the breeze, it became 
evident that their only course would be down 
wind. When they saw the natives run back for 
their boats, the five made an attempt to reach 
shore again to search for the missing sails, but 
they found that they ^vere now well out into the 
clutches of the trade against which they could 
make little headway. Their respite, they began 
to realize, was only temporary. With despair in 
their hearts they saw the natives take to the water 
and then the violent rocking of the skiffs as they 
were boarded one by one. 

"Darn these doubloons, anyway!" swore the 
artist, "and we've lost the Parrot^ too. We'll 
have to hand over what we've got; if we don't 



iBi THE GOLDEN PARROT 

they'll tear us limb from limb — they're wild 
enough." 

"And not to mention my trousers/' put in 
Richard; "they'll maroon us here and I'll have 
a fine time running around without any pants." 

"An' den mebbe de Conmiish'ner fin' out, and 
he cum an' lock us up f o' diggin' gol' — dyam 
de doubloon; dey sleep heah so long dey ain' 
wan' go 'way." 

"Dam the light pig, anyway," resumed the 
artist. 

"And whUe we're darning we might as weU 
include the junkman, and the ghost of Cap'n 
Tom, and the little girl who sat through the deck 
of our wherry." 

They had given up paddlmg and were drifting 
with the wind till the Tortolans should come 
alongside to board them. Gus and Ole sat in 
Scandinavian dudgeon. 

The moon had now swung past meridian and 
they could make out the rising and falling fig- 
ures in the skiffs as the natives plied their oars. 
Then something began to edge out from the point 
beyond the skiffs. First a jib, then a staysail 
detached itself from the land • — could it be the 
schooner or was it the Commissioner's sloop, 
snooping on suspicion — then the foresail, and 
at last the immistakable mainsail of the Golden 
Parrot. The natives must have caught sight of 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 263 

the schooner at the same moment, for the Tads 
saw them stop for an instant in their rowing and 
then take it up again more vigorously than before. 

Was she friend or foe? The Tads had seen the 
familiar figure of the cook, in Ole's clothes, sit- 
ting on the wheel-box and steering her out of the 
bay. Then had come the sudden debarkation of 
Tompas and his man. Why had he first been 
an agent in the theft of the schooner and then rid 
himself of his partners in crime, and what was he 
doing on the south side of the island? A score of 
questions unanswered flitted through the minds 
of the five who now stood watching the schooner 
as she stood out on the port tack. She was com- 
ing about! If she lay on the other tack she could 
hardly gain headway before she would be on the 
rocks to weather of the point. Was the cook try- 
ing to wreck her? But instead of coming about 
she seemed to be hanging into the wind. 

" What in time is he up to now? " said William, 
straining his old eyes at the schooner. 
Ay tank she heave to,'' answered Gus. 
No, by Gorry! She's coming this way — 
he must have the engine a-going — he 's heading 
right up for the skiffs ! " For several minutes the 
five watched in silence — she was certainly com- 
ing nearer. 

"Well, here goes for the grand finale — what- 
ever it's going to be," said the artist; "seems 






254 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

we 're between a crowd of devils and a deep-sea 
cook. I 'U bet a peck of doubloons that rascal 
picks up a couple of boat-loads of those fellows 
and goes into the pirate business — initial per- 
formance to start in five minutes." 

The Parrot was coming up rapidly now, scarcely 
half a mile down wind from the sloop, while the 
skiffs were spread out midway between the two. 
The distances lessened till the Tads could make 
out the lank form of the cook standing in the port 
side of the cockpit, his right hand on the wheel. 
He was waving his left arm and seemed to be 
pointing to seaward. Then he grabbed up a 
megaphone and began to shout. The schooner 
was edging out around the skiffs. 

"Holy Jehoshaphat! He'stryin' to tell us to 
get clear of the natives!" shouted the artist, and 
the five grabbed up their floor-boards and started 
to urge the sloop out to sea. 

But the natives had already caught the words 
of the cook, who had now declared himself, and 
were changing their course to intercept the 
Parrot. If the schooner continued to circle 
around them, they would surely reach the slow- 
moving sloop first, and there would be little the 
cook might do to aid the Tads. 

The Parrot was upon the outer flank of the skiffs 
when the cook suddenly gave the wheel a mighty 
whirl and headed directly for them. He dodged 



I 
I 



I 



I 



\ 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 855 

two laggards and sheered again to avoid another 
that lay directly on his course. But as he shpped 
by, the natives managed to catch the rail of one 
of the dinghies towing astern. He sheered again 
and picked up a second skiflF on the other dinghy 
— it was no good trying to run them down, for 
then the negroes could easily jump from their 
sinking craft to the bobstay and come aboard 
over the bows like monkeys. On he came, zigzag- 
ging through the fleet, whirUng the wheel fran- 
tically from port to starboard and back again, 
picking up skiffs on both dinghies like a magnet 
being drawn through a pile of iron filings. 

The skiffs were all astern now, eight of them 
tailing off the quarters of the Parrot, linked bow 
and stern by their desperate crews, when Bill 
Ropes suddenly left the wheel, tore along the 
length of the deck, dropped down the crew*s 
hatch and shot up again with a long knife in his 
hand. He flew aft and with a curse that ended 
with something about *' turtle flippers," cut the 
taut painters while the schooner shot free, re- 
lieved from her tows. 

In another moment, the Parrot ground along- 
side the sloop while ten eager hands caught onto 
her rail. For a few seconds the strain was terrific, 
but as the heavy sloop gathered way, it lessened, 
and Richard sprang forward to pass the sloop's 
painter around the main-shrouds* The doubloons 



266 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

were hoisted aboard and the empty sloop was 
cut away. 

For a moment the five stood there, amidships, 
hardly beKeving the feel of the deck mider their 
feet, while a score of voices from astern called 
upon high heaven, the Trinity and all prophets, 
both large and small. 

Bill Ropes sat grinning, on the wheel-box. 
Then followed a flagrant breach of discipline. The 
two shirt-tailed old skippers rushed aft and each 
grabbing an arm, pounded the cook's back with 
their free hands, calling him such endearments as, 
"you bloody old angel," "tattooed rapscaUion,*' 
and the like. 

" Wha'd I tole you," from Penn; "we fool dem 
niggers, I know'd we fool dem bush-cyats." 

Gus and Ole, who had discovered the anchor 
at the hawse-pipe pounding against their precious 
paint, gave vent to their emotions in hoisting it 
aboard. 

A long leg and a short tack fetched the Golden 
Parrot close under the lee of Salt, and just be- 
fore dawn — his pockets filled with doubloons — 
Penn slipped over the side into the boat of one 
of his friends who had come out to tend fish-pots. 
And then, as John Smith told me that night on 
Peter, 

"Dey square away she, an' dat wuz de las' me 
see ob she." 




CHAPTEK XV 

It was a week later, on a crisp January morning, 
that a sturdy little white schooner, of clipper bow 
and offshore mien, picked up the channd at the 
head of Biscayne Bay, chugged haughtily past 
the sleek company lying off the Royal Palm — 
harbor-himting yachts eveiy one of 'em, flaunt- 
ing mahogany and flashing pohshed brass — and 
came to anchor in the deeper basin off the coal 
dock at Miami. 

Her trucks were graced with neither dub 
burgee nor owner's signal, and her crew was 
heterogeneous. But her respectability, in a meas- 
uxe, was vouched for by two of them. They wore 
faded yacht's dungarees and, having let go the 
anchor, were now making up the head-sails. A 
third, in a blue-and-white checkered shirt, calmly 
surveyed the harbor from the forehatch like some 
inquisitive seal that has come up for a blow. A 
dish-towel hung over his shoulder. He, evidently, 
was the cook. Aft, in the cockpit, stood two 
elderly men. One, in shirt-sleeves and baggy 



258 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

trousers of uncertain hue, had becketed the 
wheel and was putting on the cover, while the 
other, in pajamas, stood rubbing his eyes in the 
dazzling sunlight. He shivered a bit in the cool 
wind of the norther which was blowing itself 
out. They must have encountered heavy weather 
outside, for there was no evidence of boats at the 
davits nor lashed on deck. 

A passing launch swung toward them and he 
of the shirt-sleeves hailed her owner. 

"Some blow, these last three days," began the 
one of the launch, ranging alongside and taking 
in the empty davits and then the decks. 

"Oh, thisy^^ answered Richard, sniffing the 
breeze; "didn't bother us much." And then, 
catching the significance of the query, "Lost our 
boats in a black squall down the West Lidies — 
would you mind putting me ashore?" 

"How about your friend?" The man in the 
launch, whose time was evidently his own, 
seemed not averse to a chance for a bit of sea- 
gossip. 

William disappeared into the cabin, slipped 
shirt and trousers over his pajamas and with his 
shoes and stockings in his hands — he would put 
them on in the launch — • followed Richard over the 
side. The artist confided to me, on one occasion 
and with great glee, that he had once followed 
Cornelius Vanderbilt down Thames Street in his 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 259 

pajamas. Broad daylight! On my inquiry as to 
the whereabouts of Newport's police on that 
particular day, he had poked me in the ribs and 
said that, of course, he wore trousers and shirt 
over the pajamas — still he had been in pajamas. 

On their way through the town, the Tads found 
a boat-yard where they negotiated for the hire 
of a skiff till the lost dinghies could be replaced. 
Then they went to the telegraph office where 
Richard penned, in much detail, a lengthy mes- 
sage to Clausen. It had something to do with the 
locating of a certain person well known to the wa- 
ters of Dorchester Bay. He showed it to William 
and with a merry chuckle signed it "Ex-boss." 

"Little crack o' the whip,'' he put it. 

On another morning, five days later, the Tads 
landed with their sole pieces of baggage — • two 
sturdy rope-handled boxes having considerable 
weight — upon the platform of the South Station, 
They were met by a palish young man in charge 
of four porters, who conveyed the boxes to a 
waiting taxi. 

"And you found him?" inquired Richard, 
when they had paid oflf the porters. 

"He's waiting at the office." 

"We'll go to the bank," he said, giving his in- 
structions to the driver. 

There was not a Uttle stir of curiosity in the 
cages of the tellers and cashiers when the fa- 



260 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

miliar figure of William, an old stand-by deposi- 
tor, in ancient tweed suit and soft shirt, burst in 
upon them, requested speech in private with 
one of the vice-presidents and burst out again 
accompanied by the bank's police and reap- 
peared a moment later with the two heavy 
boxes, which were carried down the stairs to a 
large coupon room in the safe deposit department. 

"Get that taxi under way again, Clausen, 
and fetch him here," ordered Richard, when the 
poKce had left. 

"Be mighty glad to get rid of these things," 
he continued. And fishing a screw-driver from 
his pocket, he began to remove the covers from 
the boxes. 

The ripple of curiosity had hardly subsided 
when Clausen was seen to return, followed by a 
tall, weather-worn old man, in tromping leather 
sea-boots, salt-rimed pea-jacket, and Cape Ann 
that covered his top like a smoke-head, whose as- 
tonished eyes wandered from this strange young 
man, who had so mysteriously sought him out, 
to the resplendent marble and poKshed brass and 
the curious faces behind the brass. His wonder- 
ing increased as he was led down the steps and 
through a steel-barred door guarded by one who 
nodded familiarly to the young man, and finally 
to the small mahogany-paneled room where he 
beheld the two old men of the Golden Parrot 
seated on a table. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 261 

"Th' Gr'raand Banks f'rivre," he roared, as 
he recognized the Tads; "an* how's th' Goldin 
Parrit?'' 

In answer, the Tads sprang aside disclosing 
the two opened boxes filled to their tops with 
neatly piled gold. 

"An'w'atdolsee?" 

"The hermit's doubloons." And then, to the 
great astonishment of the admiring Clausen and 
the greater wonderment of ^the junkman, followed 
the tale of their adventures since they had set 
sail from Boston. 

"They're yours now — and if you'll look over 
this receipt and sign it, we'll be oflf for Florida." 

The receipt read as follows : 

Boston, Maasachuaetta 
January Idih, 1910 

Account op: 
Richard Hewes and Wm. Baxter, with 

John O'Connor, Esqr., 
Total doubloons taken aboard the 
Golden Parrot (minus loss in convey- 
ance from place of last deposit) SS66 

To William Penn (reward for services) 50 
" William Ropes do 100 

" Peer Gustafsen do 100 

" Ole Jensen do 100 

Richard Hewes (loss 1 pr. trousers) 1 
Schr. Golden Parrot (loss of two 
boats) 10 

Total 361 861 

Balance delivered 3005 






262 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

For a full minute the junkman held it ab- 
sently. His face bore that impending look which 
comes to a child when a lollipop is suddenly 
thrust under its nose and one begins to wonder if 
it is going to laugh for joy, or cry because it does 
not want a lollipop. At last he brought the paper 
close to his eyes. 

"T'ree t'ousin an' five doubloons! An' w'at 
are ye judgin' them is wort' apiece?" 

"The cook said they would sell at over fifteen 
dollars. That would be about forty-seven thou- 
sand dollars in all," answered Richard. 

**Forty-sivin t'ousin dollars — an' aal hecaase 
av a bluddyliel " Whereat he burst into a demoni- 
acal fit of wild Irish laughter. 

"What!" The Tads could scarcely believe 
their ears. 

"Sure. Did yez think a dyin' man wud spin 
aal th' r 'rigmarole I giv' yez that afthemoon? An' 
wud I be raymimb'rin ut aal thim thurty yeer? " 
But how about the light pig? " from the artist. 
That paart wuz thrue enough, but them wuz 
th' on'y wor'rds I had frim Cap'n Tom — his 
dyin' wor'rds." 

"And the hurricane and the hermit and the 
crimp in Saint Thomas and — "a hundred other 
details that popped into the minds of the Tads. 

"Th' hurricane wuz a bit o' me fancy — I 
knows th' Wirgins wull frim me yout' — aany one 






THE GOLDEN PARROT 263 

in Tortola will tell yez about th' hermit, an' I 
know'd th' Quid Tompas, th' father av th' one 
you knows. 

"'Tis thrue enough/' the junkman con- 
tinued, "that th' Goldin Parrit wuz built f'r 
threasurin', so they sez, an' I wuz goin' som'- 
eres t' th' Wist Injies wid Cap'n Tom, but I had 
nothin' frim him aside frim th' menshin av th' 
light pig. Thin whin I seen her th' day I cum 
aboord — me mind got t' romancin' an' th' yam 
spun itself." 

Of course, the yam did not spin itself — it was 
the hemiit who made the junkman spin it for the 
Tads — don't you see? 

"Th' nixt day I wuz comin' back t' make a 
social caal, like, whin I seen aal y'r geer skathered 
on th' deck. * Cud th' ould gaffers be takin' me 
wor'rds seerious ? ' I asks meself , ^n' I had not th' 
heart t' see yez ag'in f 'r feer ye wud queschin me 
an' I'd have t' lie some more. I nivre t'aat f'r 
a momint — " And then he turned his gaze from 
the Tads to the doubloons on the table. 

"Wull, th' Saints persarve me ould carkiss!" 
Which they would, through the agency of the 
hermit's doubloons. 

And then this Honduras-paneled little room — 
with its luxurious rug and substantial table and 
complete appointments of leather-upholstered 
chairs, and scissors for cutting coupons and en- 



«64 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

velopes for your coupons, and no end of rubber- 
bands to put around your bonds; lights over and 
under the table so that you might not lose some 
valuable in a dark comer; secure from fire and 
riot by walls of solid masonry no end thick ; breath- 
ing integrity from every inch — was the scene 
of such a wrangle as it had never known before. 
Oh, you may be sure it was used to wrangles. 
The wrangle of directors; the wrangle of children 
over what had been left by the nerveless body 
whose waking moments had been filled with the 
anxiety to provide for their happiness when he 
should no longer be there to protect them in their 
weakness of his own fostering, which had unfitted 
them for such battles as his had been; the wrangle 
of husband and wife, and no end of other wrangles 
— all of greed — which were just as well kept 
within its walls. But here was the wrangle of one 
old man who would share with two others who 
refused to share. Scooping up the doubloons 
from the boxes, the junkman had begun to form 
three piles upon the table. 

"What's that for?" asked Richard. "Why 
not leave 'em in the boxes and have 'em locked up 
till the proper disposal can be made." 

"I'm makin' th' pr'rop'r disposil at this mo- 
mint," returned the junkman; "we'll share 
aUke." 

" We '11 do nothing of the kind," from Richard. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 265 

"Ye will/' answered the Irishman, continuing 
with his division. 

"We refuse!" 

"Ye will not rayfuse." 

" We '11 call in the police/' spluttered the artist 
at his wits' end. This was a stroke. 

Police, and that unf athonutble agent, the Law, 
behind them, meant an outside power that would 
force them all aside while it fed on what was or 
might have been theirs, and to the relief of the 
Tads the old junkman gave in. 

The Tads did, however, accept a doubloon 
apiece to keep for souvenirs, and as Richard was 
pocketing his, he suddenly drew Clausen aside 
and whispered in his ear. Clausen blushed and 
nodded. 

[[^"Perhaps," said Richard, "I might be per- 
suaded to take just one more — for a special 
purpose." 

Which explains how it comes that Mrs. Clau- 
sen wears a wedding ring that is unique. It is 
made of an old Spanish doubloon, beaten down 
after the fashion of sailors, who will sit by the hour 
patiently tapping with a hammer, a coin held on 
edge against an anchor-stock or a bitt-head, till 
the metal flanging down toward the center forms 
a band like the tire of a wheel. When it has been 
beaten down to the right circumference, the cen- 
ter is cut out, and behold! a ring, plain enough 



266 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

on the outside when it has been polished, but 
with the circular inscriptions of the coin plainly 
visible around the inner edges. 

One March day — the Golden Parrot had been 
cruising along the cays and down to the Dry 
Tortugas — the Tads were once more in Miami 
which had become their headquarters, where 
they found in their box a letter bearing a foreign 
stamp. It was from the Virgin Islaiids, and al- 
though there was no official mark upon it the 
sight of it chilled their spines. They were about 
to step into the street again when a voice stopped 
them in their tracks. 

"Wait a minute, please, here's a package for 
you." 

The clerk had come from behind the partition 
and was holding out a small bundle securely 
wrapped in heavy paper which bore various in- 
scriptions. It had been originally addressed, 
"Care of Lloyd's Agency," and from there it had 
gone to Boston, whence it had been forwarded to 
Miami. 

"Must be important," the clerk added, "for 
it requires a return receipt — queer there's no 
value given; you'll have to open it for inspection 
— might be dutiable goods — it's from the 
British West Indies." 

"Feels soft," remarked William, pressing it 
with his fingers. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 267 

"Can't tell what's inside by feeling it/' said 
Richard, who was eager to get oflF somewhere and 
learn what thunderbolt might be contained in the 
letter. 

William fished out a knife and cut the heavy 
string. The clerk opened the wrapping, which 
disclosed, neatly folded, a garment of blue ma- 
terial. 

"My pants!" exclaimed Richard, to the agi- 
tation of several wives and lady friends of a visit- 
ing convention, who were scribbling postcards 
at the desk. Richard held them up for all to see. 
The legs unfolded and hung down separately, 
showing to the astonished onlookers that by some 
forceful operation they had been divorced. 

"Guess there'll be no duty on them," laughed 
the clerk; "must have some sentimental value 
attached to them." 

"Now who the devil sent those pants?" asked 
Richard, when they had signed the receipt and 
were at last upon the sidewalk. " Maybe there 's 
something in the letter." So with trousers dan- 
gling on^his arm he led William into a certain ice- 
cream parlor which had become a favorite haunt 
on their excursions ashore. 

They gave their order and sought out a table 
in the far corner. As with the parcel, the letter 
had been addressed first to New York, then to 
Boston, and finally to Miami. The ice-cream ar- 



268 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

rived, they paid for it, and pushed the plates 
toward the middle of the table. Then Richard 
sUt the envelope and drew forth several folded 
sheets. At the top of the first they read, "Bo- 
tanical Gardens — Tortola." It was dated Jan- 
uary 6th, five days after they had left Roadtown: 

Out dear Buccaneers [it began] : 

Two old Colonials, like the Doctor and myself (he 
is dictating while I am penning), should have learned 
by ejcperience that practical jokes have depraved, re- 
dundant habits. In other words, they are boomerangs. 

It was the Doctor's briUiant (?) idea — he chanced 
by Sea-Cow Bay that night after our dinner at the 
Commissioner's — to put a flea in the old woman's 
head, not that it was at all wanting in this respect, 
but a flea of another sort. It would be jolly good 
sport, he told me, to get a crowd of natives hiding 
about the pirate tree, and then, after we had set 
their boats adrift, to come upon them in black dom- 
ino robes with skeletons on them in luminous paint, 
and chase them about a bit and leave them marooned 
to repent their sins till some passing fisherman should 
pick them up. 

Your arrival at Norman was, of course, wholly un- 
ejcpected by us, and when your man downed Tompas, 
the temptation to sprag your wheel was too much 
to resist. You see, we had rather stupidly surmised 
that you had taken a bit of stock in our tales of the 
pirate tree and were having a go at it on your own. 

The rest you know, better in some details than we, 
except for a bit of a show of our own which came as 
a sort of anti-climax. 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 269 

We had just put oflf from a secret cove on the north 
side of the island when your erewhile pursuers, 
homeward boimd, caught sight of us. They gave 
chase. There was nothing left for us but to clear 
out, for the presence of a couple of Government 
o£Scials in an affair of this sort — well, we could hot 
have it come to the ears of the Commissioner. We 
could easily outdistance them in our light skiff, but 
how those devils rowed! Bullets would not have 
stopped them. We managed to lose them in Coral 
Bay, just before dawn, where we spent the day at a 
friend's plantation, returning to Tortola the following 
night. 

Nevertheless, there are certain rumours which 
have come to the ears of the Commissioner, and we 
would advise, should you contemplate another visit 
to Tortola, to postpone it for another two years, at 
least, till his trick is up. Then, should either of us be 
here, you may count upon us as allies in whatever 
nefarious nocturnal investigations you may have in 
hand, should you be disposed to take us into your 
confidence. 

With our sincerest congratulations, we hope to 
continue. 

Your most contrite servants, 

J. C. Macintosh 
T. B. Morrison, L.R.C.P. 

P.S. We are sending, by the same post, a piece of 
nether clothing which in your hasty departure was 
left on Norman. We raked up a doubloon or two in 
the sand, but these we are keeping as mementoes of 
your visit. 



270 THE GOLDEN PARROT 

And now my yam is nearly spun. In what 
manner the key came to Captain Tom in the first 
place, we shall never know, nor whether he had 
ever known the hermit, and we shall have to lay 
it among the many mysteries of the West Indies 
that time, hurricanes, and ants have taken away 
forever. 

Should you motor one of these fine sunmier 
days through a certain Uttle village on the south 
shore of Cape Cod, you may chance to spy an 
old dory half-simk in the shady lawn before a 
trim httle cottage. Geraniums now send their 
roots where jimk once covered its bottom and 
vines trail over its salmon-colored sides. The 
rubber bootheel still sits on the stem, spuming 
time, and if you '11 brush aside the leaves at the 
bows you will still find "Lie. 269" in black char- 
acters of uncertain stance. But if there *s a good 
breeze on the bay, there will be no use in dropping 
in for a "gam," for the old man is sure to be sit- 
ting in the stern of the Betsy Ann with his arm 
crooked over the tiller, rumbling an old chanty 
and thinking, perhaps, of Captain Tom and the 
Tads, while his little wife, of mild blue eyes, sits 
close by, knitting socks against the cold of winter. 

As for the Tads, you may meet them almost 
anywhere from the cays to the coast of Maine, 
depending upon the season and their inclinations. 
Go aboard and tell 'em you know me, and if they 



THE GOLDEN PARROT 271 

like the cut of your jib they'll most likely ask 
you below and mix one of their Roadtown 
swizzles — an art which they continue to culti- 
vate, even in these days, by grace of surrepti- 
tious visits to the Bahamas. 

Ole is no longer with them. With the proceeds 
from his doubloons he acquired a small farm and 
then a wife and the two have turned to the soil. 

Gus, you cannot fail to recognize, even at a 
distance, from his erect little troll's, body and old 
head. He has taken to smiling to himself and 
even grinning at times, but that may be to show 
his wondrous array of gold teeth like unto any 
steam yacht skipper. 

Bill Ropes, should you see him go over the 
side, au nature^ for his early morning dip, shows 
evidence of having visited a certain little tattoo 
shop hard by the fish wharf at Newport. For 
cunningly charted upon his rangy chest, and so 
plotted that its natural adornment climbs the 
slopes even as the forestation of the island, lies 
Norman. On the beach can be seen twenty-two 
figures in hot piu-suit of five others. And behold ! 
should he be rude enough to turn his back, the 
Golden Parrot ploughing the ciu-ling main, under 
full press and with a lone figure at the wheel. She 
seems about to round his torso and come to the 
rescue of the five. 

FINIS 



.11 



"i 

I I 

Ie 



ii 



I ! 



GLOSSARY 

Dovbloony 1. The dobia, a gold coin of Spain, introduced 
about the time of Peter I (1S5Q-68). The original type 
had on one side a three-turreted castle, but this was 
followed by the portrait type under Ferdinand and 
Isabella. Struck principally for Mexico and the other 
Spanish colonies. The doubloons the Tads found were 
what are known as the new doubloons — some of 
which are dated prior to 1771. The recent date of the 
Tads' doubloons convinces me all the more that Nor- 
man had nothing to do with them, and that these were, 
as I have said, but a picayune cache left by some fool 
upstart of a later day. It is a rather interesting coin- 
cidence that in his yam the junkman says that the 
chest in the cave was **full o' doubloons, nothin' but 
doubloons." 

Blue peter, 2. A small blue flag with a white square in the 
center, hoisted when a vessel is ready to get under way. 

Cany aprudof aminister,^. There is a deep-rooted super- 
stition among sailor-men that to carry any professional 
man of religion will bring bad luck to the ship. 

Manchioned, 11. A lofty tree of the West Indies {Hippo- 
mane mancineUa), bearing a small apple, and, as Bar- 
bot says, ^^of so fine a colour and pleasant scent, as will 
easily invite such as are unacquainted to eat them; but 
containing a mortal poison, against which no antidote 
has any force." Its poisonous effects have been ex- 
aggerated. 

Saw off me wooden leg, 82. The favorite expression of 
"chips" — an old ship's carpenter of my ken. 

Wraith ofabUof obeah, 32. The dried, dismembered hand 



274 GLOSSARY 

of some person murdered for the purpose of obtaining 
this instrument of witchcraft. 

Boot-top^ 52. Where the underbody paint is carried above 
the water-Une so that filthy harbor waters will not 
soil the top-sides» especially if they are painted white. 
The raising of the boot-top tends to reduce the im- 
pression of freeboard or the height of the vessel's sides 
above the water. 

Ship-huahand, 52. One who is wedded to the ship and caies 
Uttle for going ashore. 

Gone in at the hawse-pvpe^ 53. The favorite expression of 
those who first went to sea as boys, presumably small 
enough to crawl aboard through the hawse-pipe» and 
who almost invariably conclude with» ''and I came out 
from the cabin." 

Silent deaths^ 53. A name given by old sailors and espe- 
cially fishermen to steam vessels. Those who have 
found themselves accidentally in too dose proximity to 
large steamers, more especially toward night, will ai>- 
preciate the full meaning of the term, and will have 
discovered how silently these huge vessels creep along. 
(Captain Ansted.) 

Marsupial Life-Saving Station, 57. A floating station with 
an open well in its after end to receive the life-boats — 
like the young of a kangaroo. This, I beUeve, is the 
only one of its kind in the United States. 

Talking Dago, 61. The noise of the bow breaking into smiall 
seas, as heard in the forecastle. 

Dinghies, 62. Small yacht's tenders. From the Ben- 
galese. 

Looard, 15. Leeward spelled as it is pronounced. 

Cove, 75. This cove is just beyond where 1 landed on Peter. 
It was a well-known refuge in hurricane weather and 
I believe the Royal Mail steamer Rhone was trying 
to make it when she was wrecked on Salt Island in 
1867. 



GLOSSARY 275 

Johannes, 85. The old "Joe" of Portugal — the half dobrao 
of John V, worth about $8. 

Irish pennanU 85. Stray rope yams that have no business 
on a smart vessel. 

Salt horse, 94. Salted beef for use at sea. 

Halifax mvMon, 94. Salt fish, especially cod. 

Miss Gypsy, 101. A windlass, also known as "wench." 

Gam, 101. A visit, especially at sea, to get a yam off one's 
chest or to exchange the news. Whaling vessels that 
have been at sea for a considerable period will often 
be hove to while their captains and mates foregather 
aboard one of them for a "gam." 

Wind-Upper, 108. The first ripple of a new breeze. 

Whiskered old bow, 123. Not from marine growths as you 
might have supposed, but because the Golden Parrot 
had, Uke many of the older craft, a sort of cross-tree 
at the bow to spread the bowsprit shrouds. 

The stone trough of the holy Mael, 131. A trough of stone 
which floated like a boat upon the waters and in which, 
furnished with bread, a barrel of fresh water and the 
book of the Holy Grospels, Saint Mad, after much 
cruising, was finally brought to Penguin Island. Al- 
though Saint Mael was not, strictly speaking, a pro- 
fessional man of reUgion, he had rather a rough time of 
it. Nothing but a vessel of stone would have carried 
him through, according to Bill Ropes. 

Afresh hand at the bellows, 137. Said of a freshening wind. 

Bank-blink, 140. A whiteness about the horizon reflected 
up from the dazzling beaches of the Bahama Banks. 

Pride-o'-tV-moming, 141. A misty dew at sunrise. 

Harbor-gaskets, 149. The sailor's term for a starched collar. 

Pongo, 155. A cross between a " land tiger and a sea shark." 

One han* wash de odder, bofe han*s wash face, 208. A native 
saying which means, " We 'U keep mum and both work 
for the same end." 

While mice, 215. A sea term for tale-bearers. 



die Aiter^bt 9^^^ 

CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
U . S • A