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Full text of "The shadow on the sea: a tale of strange happenings"

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THE 

SHADOW 

ON THE SEA 



A TALE 
OF STRANGE HAPPENINGS 

BY 

MAX PEMBERTON 





ARTHUR WESTBROOK 
COMPANY 

CLEVELAND, OHIO, U. S. A. 



3 



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(CO 14-^^ i 




Copyilglii 1907 by B«iabrid£« CayU. 



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INDEX 



Cbaptek 



Page 



I The Perfect Fool Asks a Favor 1 

II I Meet Captain Black 11 

III "Four-Eyes" Delivers a Message 26 

IV A Strange Sight on the Sea 35 

V The Writing of Martin Hall 48 

VI I Engage a Second Mate 75 

VII The Beginning of the Great Pursuit 82 

VIII I Dream of Paolo 92 

IX I Fall in with the Nameless Ship 99 

X The Spread of the Terror 113 

XI The Ship in the Black Qoak 123 

XII The Drinking Hole in the Bowery 134 

XIII Astern of the "Labrador^ 146 

XIV A abin in Scarlet 157 

XV The Prison of Steel 161 

XVI Northward Ho! 166 

XVII One Shall Live 176 

XVIII The Den of Death 184 

XIX The Murders in the Cove 193 

XX I Quit Ice-Haven 210 

XXI To the Land of Man 219 

XXn The Robbery of the "Bellonic" 228 

XXIII I Go to London 238 

XXIV The Shadow on the Sea 246 

XXV The Dumb Man Speaks 262 

XXVI A Page in Black's Life 274 

XXVn I Fall to Wondering 294 



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THE SHADOW ON THE SEA 



CHAPTER I. 

TRS PERFECT FOOL ASKS A FAVOXJR. 

"En voiturcl en voiturcl" 

If it has not been your privilege to hear a French guard 
utter these words, you have lost a lesson in the dignity of 
elocution which nothing can replace. "En voiture, en 
voiturc; five minutes for Paris." At the well-delivered 
warning, the Englishman in the adjoining buffet raises on 
high the frothing tankard, and vaunts before the world his 
capacity for deep draughts and long; the fair American 
spills her coffee and looks an exclamation; the Bishop 
pays for his daughter's tea, drops the change in the one 
chink which the buffet boards disclose, and thinks one; 
the travelled person, disdaining haste, smiles on all with a 
pitying leer; the foolish man, who has forgotten some- 
thing, makes public his conviction that he will lose his 
train. The adamantine official alone is at his ease, and, 
as the minutes go, the knell of the train-loser sounds the 
deeper, the horrid jargon is yet more irritating. 

I thought all these things, and more, as I waited for the 
Perfect Fool at the door of my carriage in the harbour 
station at Odais» He was truly an impossible num, that 



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2 THE SHADOW ON THE $EJ. 

small-eycd, short-haired, stooping mystery I had met at 
G)wes a month before, and formed so strange a friendship 
with. To-day he would do this, to-morrow he would not ; 
to-day he had a theory that the world was egg-shaped, to- 
morrow he believed it to be round ; in one moment he was 
hot upon a journey to St Petersburg, in the next he felt 
that the Pacific islands offered a better opportunity. If he 
had a second coat, no man had ever seen it; if he had a 
purpose in life, no man I hold, had ever known it. And 
yet there was a fascination about him you could not resist ; 
in his visible, palpitating, stultifying folly there was some- 
thing so amazing that you drew to the man as to that un- 
known something which the world had not yet given to 
you, as a treasure to be worn daily in the privacy of your 
own enjoyment. I had, as I have said, picked the Perfect 
Fool up at Cowes, whither I had taken my yacht, Celsis, 
for the Regatta Week; and he had climg to me ever since 
with a dogged obstinacy that was a triumph. He had 
taken of my bread and eaten of my salt unasked ; he was 
not a man such as the men I knew — ^he was interested in 
nothing, not even in himself — and yet I tolerated him. 
And in return for this toleration he was about to make me 
lose a train for Paris. 

"Will you come on?" I roared for the tenth time, as 
the cracked bell jangled and the guards hoisted the last 
stout person into the only carriage where there was not a 
seat for her. "Don't you see we shall be left behind? 
Hurry up 1 Hang your parcels I Now then — for the last 
time, Hall, Hill, Hull, whatever your confoimded name 
is, are you coming?" 

Many guards gave a hand to the hoist, and the Perfect 
Fool fcU upoa bis bftt-box, which w^ ^l the pergonal 



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RODERICK WAKES. 3 

property he seemed to possess. He apologised to Mary, 
who sat in the far comer, with more grace than I had 
looked for. from him, woke Roderick, who was in his fifth 
sleep since luncheon, and then gathered the remnants of 
himself into a coherent whole. 

"Did anyone use my name?'' he asked gravely, and 
as one o£fendcd. "I thought I heard someone call me 
Hull?" 

"Exactly; I think I called you every name in the 
Directory, but Tm glad you answer to one of them.'' 

"Yes, and I tell you what," said Roderick, "I wish 
you wouldn't come into a railway carriage on your hands 
and knees, waking a fellow up every time he tries to get a 
minute to himself; I don't speak for myself, but for my 
sister." 

The Perfect Fool made a profound bow to Mary, who 
looked very pretty in her dainty yachting dress — she was 
only sixteen, I had known her all her life — and he said, 
"I cannot make your sister an apology worthy of her." 

"If that isn't a shame, Mr. Hull," replied the blushing 
girl. "I never go to sleep in railway carriages." 

"No, of course you don't," said Roderick, as he made 
himself comfortable for another nap, "but you may go to 
sleep in a railway carriage;" then with a grimt, "Wake 
me up at Amiens, old man," he sank to slumber. 

The train moved slowly over the sandy marsh which 
lies between Calais and Boulogne, and the vapid talk of 
die railway carriage held us to Amiens, and after. Dur- 
ing the second half of the long journey Roderick was 
asleep, and Mary's pretty head had fallen against the 
cushion as the swing of the carriage gave the direct nega- 
tive to her words at Calais station. At last, even the 



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4 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

maker of commonplaces was silent; and, as I reclined at 
greater length on the cushions of the stuffy compartment, 
I thought how strange a company we were then being 
carried over the dull, drear pasture-land of France, to the 
lights, the music, and the life of the great capital. Of 
the man Martin Hall- — I remembered his true name in 
the moments of repose — I knew nothing beyond that 
which I have told you; but of my friends Roderick and 
Mary, accompanying me on this wild-away journey, I 
knew all that was to be known. Roderick and I had been 
at Caius College, Cambridge, together, friends drawn 
the closer in affection because our conditions in kith and 
kin, in possession and in purpose, in ambition and in idle- 
ness, were so very like. Roderick was an orphan twenty- 
four years of age, young, rich, desiring to know life before 
he measured strength with her, caring for no man, not 
vital enough to realise danger, an Englishman in tenacity 
of will, a good fellow, a gentleman. His sister was his 
only care. He gave to her the strength of an undivided 
love, and just as, in the shallowness of much of his life, 
there was matter for blame, so in this increasing affection 
and thought for the one very dear to him was there the 
strength of a strong manhood and a noble work. 

For myself, I was twenty-five when the strange things 
of which I am about to write happened to me. Like 
Roderick, I was an orphan. My father had left me £50,- 
000, which I drew upon when I was of age ; but, shame 
that I should write it, I had spent more than £40,000 in 
four years, and my schooner, the Celsis, with some few 
thousand pounds, alone remained to me. Of what was my 
future to be, I knew not. In the senseless purpose of my 
life, I said only, "It will come, the tide in my affairs 



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A JO URNEY FRA UGHT fVITH FOLLY. 5 

which taken at the flood should lead on to fortune.'* And 
in this supreme folly I lived the days, now in the Medi- 
terranean, now cruising round the coast of England, now 
flying of a sudden to Paris with one they might have called 
a vulgarian, but one I chose to know. A journey fraught 
with folly, the child of folly, to end in folly, so might it 
have been said ; but who can foretell the supreme moments 
of our lives, when unknowingly we stand on the threshold 
of action? And who should expect me to foresee that the 
man who was to touch the spring of my life's action sat 
before me — mocked of me, dubbed the Perfect Fool — over 
whose dead body I was to tread the paths of danger and 
the intricate ways of strange adventure? 

But I would not weary you with more of these facts 
than are absolutely necessary for the understanding of this 
story, surpassing strange, which I judge it to be as much 
my duty as my privilege to write. Let us go back to the 
Gare du Nord, and the compartment wherein Mary and 
Roderick slept, while the Perfect Fool and I faced each 
other, surfeited with meteorological observations, sick to 
weariness with reflections upon the probability of being 
late or arriving before time. I would well have been 
silent and dozed as the others were doing; of a truth, I 
had done so had it not become very evident that the man 
who had begun to bore me wished at last to say some- 
thing, relating neither to the weather nor to the speed of 
our train. His restless manner, the fidgeting of his hands 
with certain papers which he had taken from his great- 
coat pocket, the shifting of the small grey eyes, marked 
that within him which suffered no show except in privacy; 
and I waited for him, making pretence of interest in the 
great plain of hedgeless pasture-land which bordered the 



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6 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA 

track on each side. At last he spoke, and, speaking, 
seemed to be the Perfect Fool no longer. 

"They're both asleep, aren't they?" he asked suddenly, 
as he put his hand, which seemed to tremble, upon my 
arm, and pointed to the sleepers. "Would you mind 
making sure — quite sure — before I speak ? — that is, if you 
will let me, for I have a favour to ask." 

To see the man grave and evidently concerned was to 
me so luiusual that for the moment I looked at him rather 
than at Roderick or Mary, and waited to know if the 
gravity were not of his humour and not of any deeper 
import. A single glance at him convinced me for the 
second time that I did him wrong. He was looking at me 
with a fitful pleading look unlike anything he had shown 
previously. In answer to his request I assured him at 
once that he might speak his mind ; that, even if Roderick 
should overhear us, I would pledge my word for his 
good faith. Then only did he unbosom himself and tell 
me freely what he had to say. 

"I wanted to speak to you some days ago," he said 
earnestly and quickly, as his hands continued to play with 
the paper, "but we have been so much occupied that I 
have never found the occasion. It must seem curious in 
your eyes that I, who am quite a stranger to you, should 
have been in your company for some weeks, and should 
not have told you more than my name. As the thing 
stands, you have been kind enough to make no inquiries; 
if I am an impostor, you do not care to know it ; if I am a 
rascal hunted by the law, you have not been willing to help 
the law ; you do not know if I have money or no money, 
a home or no home, people or no people, yet ycwi have 
made me — shall I say, a friend?" 



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THE JESTER'S CLOAK FALLS. 7 

He asked the questkm with such a gentle inflexion of 
the voice that I felt a softer chord was touched, and in 
response I shook hands with him. After that he con- 
tinued to speak. 

^'I am very grateful for all your trust, believe me, for 
I am a man that has known few friends in life, and I 
have not cared to go out of my way to seek them. You 
have given me your friendship unasked, and it is the more 
prized. What I wanted to sity is this, if I should die 
before three days have passed, will you open this packet of 
papers I have prepared and sealed for you, and carry out 
what is written there as well as you are able? It is no 
idle request, I assure you ; it is one that will put you in 
the place where I now stand, with opportunities greater 
than I dare to think of. As for the dangers, they are 
big enough, but you are the man to overcome them as I 
hope to overcome them — if I live!" 

The sun fell over the lifeless scene without as he ceased 
to speak. I could see a crimson beam glowing upon a 
crucifix that stood on the wayside by the hill-foot yonder; 
but the cheerless monotony of plough land and of pasture, 
stretching away leafless, treeless, without bud or flower, 
herd or herdsman, church or cottage, to the shadowed 
horizon, looming dark as the twilight deepened, was in 
sympathy with the gloom which had come upon me as 
Martin Hall ceased to speak. I had thought the man a 
fool and witless, flighty in purpose and shallow in thought, 
and yet he seemed to speak of great mysteries — and of 
death. In one moment the jester's cloak fell from him, 
and I saw the mail beneath. He had made a great im- 
pression upon me, but I concealed it from him, and r^ 
pIi<B4 jauntily and with no show of {pravit]^-** 



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8 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

'^Tell me, are you quite certain that you are not talking 



nonsense?" 

He replied by asking me to take his hand. I took it — 
it was chill with the icy cold as of death ; and I doubted 
his meaning no more, but determined to have the whole 
mystery, then so faintly sketched, laid bare before me. 

"If you are not playing the fool. Hall," said I, "and 
if you are sincere in wishing me to do something which 
you say is a favour to you, you must be more explicit. In 
the first place, how did you get this absurd notion that 
you are going to die into your head ? secondly, what is the 
nature of the obligation you wish to put upon me? It is 
quite clear that I can't accept a trust about which I know 
nothing, and I think that for undiluted vagueness your 
words deserve a medal. Let us begin at the beginning, 
which is a very good place to begin at. Now, why should 
you, who are going to Paris, as far as I know, simply as a 
common sightseer, have any reason to fear some mysterious 
calamity in a city where you don't know a soul ?" 

He laughed softly, looking out for a moment on the 
sunless fields, but his eyes flashed lights when he answered 
me, and I saw that he clenched his hands so that the nails 
pierced the flesh. 

"Why am I going to Paris without aim, do you say? 
Without aim — I, who have waited years for the work I 
believe that I shall accomplish to-night — why am I going 
to Paris? Ha! I will tell you: I am going to Paris to 
meet one who, before another year has gone, will be 
wanted by every Government in Europe ; who, if I do not 
put my hand upon his throat in the midst of his foul work, 
will make graves as thick as pines in the wood there before 
you know another month; one who is mad and who is 



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/ MAKE JN APPOINTMENT. 9 

sane, one who, if he knew my purpose, would crush me 
as I crush this paper; one who has everything that life 
can give and seeks more, a man who has set his face 
against humanity, and who will make war on the nations, 
who has money and men, who can command and be 
obeyed in ten cities, against whom the police might as 
well hope to fight as against the white wall of the South 
Sea; a man of purpose so deadly that the wisest in crime 
would not think of it — a man, in short, who is the product 
of culminating vice — him I am going to meet in this Paris 
where I go without aim — without aim, ha!" 

'^And you mean to run him down?" I asked, as his 
voice sank to a hoarse whisper, and the drops stobd as 
beads on his brow; "what interest have you in him?" 

"At the moment none; but in a month the interest of 
money. As sure as you and I talk of it now, there will be 
fifty thousand pounds offered for knowledge of him before 
December comes upon us!" 

I looked at him as at one who dreams dreams, but be 
did not flinch. 

"You meet the man in Paris?" I went on. 

"To-night I shall be with him," he answered; "within 
three days I win all or lose all: for his secret will be 
mine. If I fail, it is for you to follow up the thread which 
I have unravelled by three years' hard work " 

"What sort of person do you say he is?" I continued, 
and he replied — 

"You shall see for yourself. Dare you risk coming 
with me — I meet him at eight o'clock?" 

"Dare I risk!— pooh, there can't be much danger." 

"There is every danger! — but, so, the girl is waking!" 

It was true; Mary looked up suddenly as we thundered 



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10 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

past the fortifications of Paris^ and said^ as people do say 
in such circumstances, "Why, I believe I've been asleep!" 
Roderick shook himself like a great bear, and asked if we 
had passed Chantilly; the [perfect Fool began his banter, 
and roared for a cab as the lights of the station twinkled 
in the semi-darkness. I could scarce believe, as I watched 
his antics, that he was the man who had spoken to me of 
great mysteries ten minutes before. Still less could I 
convince mj'self that he had not many days to live. So 
are the fateful things of life hidden from us. 



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XI 

CHAPTER II. 

I MEET CAPTAIN BLACK. 

The lights of Paris were very bright as wc drove down 
the Boulevard des Capucines, and drew up at length at 
the Hotel Scribe, which is by the Opera House. Mary 
uttered a hundred exclamations of joy as we passed 
through the city of lights; and Roderick, who loved 
Paris, condescended to beep awake. 

"TU tell you what," he exclaimed, after a period of 
profound reflection, "the beauty of this place is that no 
one thinks here, except about cooking, and after all, cook- 
ing is one of the first things worthy of serious speculation, 
isn't it? Suppose we plan a nice little dinner for four?" 

"For two, my dear fellow, if you please," said Hall, 
with mock of state — he was quite the Perfect Fool again. 
"Mr. Mark Strong condescends to dine with me, and in 
that utter unselfishness of character peculiar to him insists 
on paying the bill — don't you, Mr. Mark?" 

I answered that I did, and, be it known, I was the 
Mark Strong referred to. 

"The fact is, Roderick," I explained, "that I made a 
promise to meet one of Mr. Hall's friends to-night, so you 
and Mary must dine alone. You can then go to sleep, 
don't you see, or take Mary out and buy her something." 

"Yes, that would be splendid, Roderick," cried Mary, 
all the girlish excitement bom of Paris strong upon her. 
"Let's go and buy a hundred things" — Roderick groaned 
—"but I wish, Mark, you weren't going to leave us on 
our first night here; you know what you said only yes- 
terday P 



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12 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"What did I say yesterday?" 

"That there were a lot of bounders in Paris-^and I 
want to see them bound !" 

I consoled her by telling her that bounders never made 
display after six o'clock, and assured her that Roderick 
had long confessed to me his intention to buy her the best 
hat in Paris, at which Roderick muttered exclamations for 
my ear only. By that time we were at the Hotel, and 
the Perfect Fool had much to say. 

"Could any gentleman oblige me with the time, English 
or French?" he asked; "my watch is so moved at the 
situation in which it finds itself that it Is fourteen hours 
too slow." 

I told him that it was ten minutes to eight, and the 
information quickened him. 

"Ten minutes to eight, and half-a-dozen Russian 
princes, to say nothing of an English knight, to meet ; so 
ho, my toilet must remain ! Could anyone oblige me with 
a comb, fragmentary or whole?" 

He continued his banter as we mounted the stairs of the 
cozy little hotel, whose windows overlook the core of the 
great throbbing heart of Paris, and so until we were alone 
in my room, whither he had followed me. 

"Quick's the word,'' he said, as he shut the door, and 
took several articles from his hat-box, "and no more 
palaver. One pair of spectacles, one wig, one set of 
curiosities to sell — do I look like a second-hand dealer in 
odd lots, or do I not, Mr. Mark Strong?" 

I had never seen such an utter change in any man made 
with such little show. The Perfect Fool was no longer 
before me; there was in his place a lounging, shady-loot 
ing, greed-haunted Hebrew. The hunching of the 
shoulders was perfect; the stoop, the walk, were tri- 



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THE NEW PERFECT FOOL. 13 

umphs. But he gave me little opportunity to inspect him 
or to ask for what reason he ha J thus disguised himself. 

"It's five minutes from here," he said, "and the clocks 
are going eight — you are right as you are, for you arc a 
cipher in the afiair yet, and don't run the danger I run — 
now come!" 

He passed down the stairs with this blunt invitation, 
and I followed him. So good was his disguise and make- 
pretence that the others, who were in the narrow hall, 
drew back to let him go, not recognising him, and spoke 
to me, asking what I had done with him. Then I pointed 
to the new Perfect Fool, and without another word of 
explanation went on into the street. 

We walked in silence for some little distance, keeping 
by the Opera, and so through to the broad Boulevard 
Haussraann. Thence he turned, crossing the busy thor- 
oughfare, and passing through the Rue Joubert, stopped 
quite suddenly at last in the mouth of a cul-de-sac which 
opened from the narrow street. He had something to say 
to me, and he gave it with quick words prompted by a 
quick and serious wit, for he had put off the role of jester 
at the hotel. 

"This is the place," he said; "up here on the third, 
and there isn't much time for talk. Just this ; you're my 
man, you carry this box of metal" — he meant the case 
of curiosities — "and don't open your mouth, unless you 
get the fool in you and want the taste of a six-inch knife. 
That's my risk, and I haven't brought you here to share 
it; so mum's the word, mum, mum, mum; and keep a 
liold on your eyes, whatever you see or whatever you 
hear. Do I look all right?" 

"Perfectly — but just a word ; if we are going into some 



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14 THE SHADOfP^ ON THE SEA. 

den where we may have a difficulty in getting out again, 
wouldn't it be as well to go armed ?" 

"Armed! — pish!'' — and he looked unutterable con- 
tempt, treading the passage with long strides, and enter- 
ing a house at the far end of it. 

Thither I followed him, still wondering, and passing 
the concierge found myself at last on the third floor, be- 
fore a door of thick oak. Our first knocking upon this 
had no effect, but at the second attempt, and while he was 
pulling his hat yet more upon his eyes, I heard a great 
rolling voice which seemed to echo on the stairway, and 
so leapt from flight to flight, almost like the rattle of a 
cannon-shot with its many reverberations. For the mo- 
ment indistinct, I then became aware that the voice* was 
that of a man singing and walking at the same time, and 
seemingly in no hurry to give us admission, for he passed 
from room to room bellowing this refrain, and never 
varying it by so much as a single word : — 

"There was a man of Boston town. 
With his pistols three, 
With his pistols three, three, three; 
And never a skunk in Boston town 
That he didn't chaw but me!" 

When the noise stopped at last, there was silence, com- 
plete and unbroken, for at least five minutes, during which 
time Hall stood motionless, waiting for the door to be 
opened. After that we heard a great yell from the same 
voice, with the words, "Ahoy, Splinters, shift along the 
gear, will you?" and then Splinters, whoever he might be, 
was cursed in unchosen phrases as the son of all the lub- 
bers that ever crowded a fo'castle. A mumbled discus- 



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NO SORT OF A MAN. 15 

sion seemed to tread on the heels of the hullabaloo, when, 
apparently having arranged the "gear" to satisfaction, the 
man stalked to the door, singing once more in stentorian 
tones: — 

"There was a man of Boston town, 
With his pistols three, 
With his pistols " 

"Hullo — the darned little Jew and his kickshaws; 
why, matey, so early in the morning?" 

The exclamation came as he saw us, putting his head 
round the door, and showing one arm swathed all up in 
dirty red flannel. He was no sort of a man to look at, as 
the Scots say, for his head was a mass of dirty yellow hair, 
and his face did not seem to have known an ablution foi 
a week. But there was an ugly jocular look about his 
rabbit-like eyes, and a great mark cut clean into the side 
of his face, which were a fit decoration for the red-burnt, 
pitted, and horribly repulsive countenance he betrayed. 
His leer, too, as he greeted Hall, was the evil leer of a 
man whose laugh makes those hearing hush with the 
horror of it; and, on my part, forgetting the warning, I 
looked at him and drew back repelled. This he saw, and 
with a flush and a display of one great stump of a tooth 
which protruded on his left lip, he turned on me. 

"And who may you be, matey, that you don't go for to 
shake hands with Roaring John? Dip me in brine, if you 
was my son Td dress you down with a two-foot bar. Why 
don't you teach the little Hebrew manners, old Josfos; 
but there," and this he said as he opened the door wider, 
"so long as our skipper will have to do with shiners to sell 
and land barnacles, what ken you look for? — walk right 
along here/' 



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i6 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

The room indicated opened from a small hall, for the 
place was built after the Parisian fashion — akin to that of 
our flats — and was a house in itself. The man who called 
himself "Roaring John" entered the apartment before us, 
bawling at the top of his voice, "Josfos, the Jew, and his 
pardner come aboard!" and then I found myself in the 
strangest company and the strangest place I have ever set 
eyes on. So soon as I could see things clearly through the 
hanging atmosphere of tobacco smoke and heavy vapour, I 
made out the forms of six or eight men, not sitting as men 
usually do in a place where they eat, but squatting on their 
haunches by a series of low narrow tables, which were, on 
closer inspection, nothing but planks put upon bricks, and 
laid round the four sides of the apartment. Of other 
furniture there did not seem to be a vestige in the place, 
save such as pertained to the necessities of eating and 
sleeping. Each man lolled back on his own pile of dirty 
pillows and dirtier blankets; each had before him a great 
metal drinking-cup, a coarse knife, which I found was for 
hacking meat, long rolls of plug tobacco, and a small red 
bundle, which I doubt not was his portable property. 
Each, too, was dressed exactly as his fellow, in a coarse 
red shirt, seaman's trousers of ample blue serge, a belt 
with a clasp-knife about his waist, and each had some 
bauble of a bracelet on his arm, and some strange rings 
upon his fingers. In the first amazement at seeing such 
an assembly in the heart of civilised Paris, I did no more 
than glean a general impression, but that was a powerful 
one — the impression that I saw men of all ages from 
twenty-five years upwards; men marked by time as with 
long service on the sea; men scarred, burnt, some with 
traces of great cuts and slaslics received on the open face ; 
men fierce-looking as painted devils, with teeth, with ngnCi 



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A CAGE OF BEASTS. 17 

with four fingers to the hand, with three; men whose 
laugh was a horrid growl like the tumult of imprisoned 
passions, whose threats chilled the heart to hear, whose 
very words seemed to poison the air, who made the great 
room like a cage of beasts, ravenous and ill-seeking. This 
and more was my first thought, as I asked myself, into 
what hovel of vice have I fallen, by what mischance have 
I come on such a company? 

Martin Hall seemed to have no such ill opinion of the 
men, and put himself at his ease the moment we entered. 
I had, indeed, believed for a moment that he had brought 
me there with evil intent, distrusting the man who was 
yet little more than a stranger to me; but recalling all 
that paissed, his disguise, his evident fear, I put the sus- 
picion from me, and listened to him, more content, as he 
made his way to the top of the room and stood before one 
who forced from me individual notice, so strange-looking 
was he, and so deep did the respect which all paid him ap- 
pear to be. We shall meet this man often in our travels 
together, you and I, my friends, so a few words, if you 
please, about him. He sat at the head of the rude table, as 
I have said, but not as the others sat, on pillows and blan- 
kets, for there was a pile of rich-looking skins — bear, tiger, 
and white wolf — beneath him, and he alone of all the com- 
pany wore black clothes and a white shirt. He was a short 
man, I judged, black-bearded and smooth-skinned, with a 
big -nose, almost an intellectual forehead, small, white-look- 
ing hands, all ablaze with diamonds, about whose fine 
quality there could not be two opinions; and, what was 
even more remarkable, there hung as a pendant to his 
watch-chain a great uncut ruby which must have been 
worth five thousand pounds. One trademark of the sea 
alone did he possess, in the dark curly ringlets which fell 



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i8 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

to his shoulders, matted there as long uncombed, but typi- 
cal in all of the men. This then was the fellow upon 
whose every word that company of ruffians appeared to 
hang, who obeyed him, as I observed presently, when he 
did so much as lift his hand, who seemed to have in their 
uncouth way a veneration for him, inexplicable, remarka- 
ble — the man of whom Martin Hall had painted such a 
fantastic picture, who was, as I had been told, soon to be 
wanted by every Government in Europe. And so I faced 
him for the first time, little thinking that before many 
months had gone I should know of deeds by his hand 
which had set the world aflame with indignation, deeds 
which carried me to strange places, and among dangers so 
terrible that I shudder when the record brings back their 
reality. 

Hall was the first to speak, and it was evident to me that 
he cloaked his own voice, putting on the nasal twang and 
the manner of an East-end Jew dealer. 

"I have come, Mister Black," he said, "as you was 
good enough to wish, with a few little things — beautiful 
things — which cost me moosh money " 

"Ho, ho!" sang out Captain Black, "here is a Jew 
who paid much money for a few little things! Look at 
him, boys! — the Jew with much money! Turn out his 
pockets, boys! — the Jew with much money! Ho, ho! 
Bring the Jew some drink, and the little Jew, by 
thunder!" 

His merriment set all the company roaring to his mood. 
For a moment their play was far from innocent, for one 
lighted a great sheet of paper and burnt it under the nose 
of my friend, while another pushed his dirty drinking-pot 
to my mouth, and would have forced me to drink. But I 
remembered Hall's words, and held still, giving banter for 



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CAPTAIN BLACK CALLS FOR LIGHTS. 19 

banter — only this, I learnt to my intense surprise that the 
pot did not contain beer but champagne, and that, by iti 
bouquet, of an infinitely fine quality. In what sort of n 
company was I, then, where mere seamen wore diamona 
rings and drank fine champagne from pewter pots? 

The unpleasant and rough banter ceased on a word 
from Captain Black, who called for lights, which were 
brought — rough, ready-made oil flares stuck in jugs and 
pots — and Hall gathered up his trinkets and proceeded to 
lay them out with the well-simulated cunning of the 
trader. 

"That, Mister Black," he said, putting a miniature of 
exquisite finish against the white fur on the floor, "is a 
portrait of the Emperor Napoleon, sometime in the pos- 
session of the Empress Josephine; that is a gold chain — 
he was eighteen carat — once the property of Don Carlos; 
here is the pen with which Francis Drake wrote his last 
letter to the Queen Elizabeth — beautiful goods as ever 
was, and cost moosh money!" 

"To the dead with your much money," said the Captain 
with an angry gesture, as he snatched the trinkets from 
him, and eyed them to my vast surprise with the air of a 
practised connoisseur; "let's handle the stuff, and don't 
gibber. How much for this ?" He held up the miniature, 
and admiration betrayed itself in his eyes. 

"He was painted by Sir William Ross, and I se:U him 
i^r two hundred pounds, my Captain, Not a penny less^ 
or I'm a ruined man!" 

"The Jew a ruined man! Hark at him! Four-Eyes," 
•^this to a great lanky fellow who lay asleep in the corner 
— "the little Jew can't sell 'em under two hundred, I 
areckgn^ oh^ certainly not; why, of course. Here you,^ 



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20 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

Splinters, pay him for a thick-skinned, thieving shark, and 
give him a hundred for the others.'' 

The boy Splinters, who was a black lad, seemingly about 
twelve years old, came up at the word, and took a great 
canvas bag from a hook on the wall. He counted three 
hundred gold pieces on the floor — pieces of all coinages in 
Europe and America, as they appeared to be by their faces, 
and Hall, who had squatted like the others, picked them 
up. Then he asked a question, while the little black lad, 
who bore a look of suffering on his worn face, stood, wait- 
ing the Captain's word. 

"Mister Captain, I shall have waiting for me at 
Plymouth to-morrow a relic of the great John Hawkins, 
which, as I'm alive, you shouldn't miss. I have heard 
them say that it is the very sword with which he cut the 
Spaniards' beards. Since you have told me that you sail 
to-morrow, I have thought, if you put me on your ship 
across to Plymouth, I could show you the goods, and you 
shall have them cheap — beautiful goods, if I lose by 
them." 

Now, instead of answering this appeal as he had done 
the others, with his great guffaw and banter. Captain 
Black turned upon Hall as he made his request, and his 
face lit up with passion. I saw that his eyes gave one fiery 
look, while he clenched his fist as though to strike the man 
as he sat, but then he restrained himself. Yet, had I been 
Hall, I would not have faced such another glance for all 
that adventure had given me. It was a look which meant 
ill — all the ill that one man could mean to another. 

"You want to come aboard my boat, do you?" drawled 
the Captain, as he softened his voice to a fine tone of 
sarcasnu "The dealer wants a cheap passage; so-ho, what 



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AT MIDNIGHT, TIDE SERVING. 21 

do you say, Four-Eyes; shall we take the man aboard?" 

Four-Eyes sat up deliberately, and struck himself on the 
chest several times as though to knock the sleep out of him. 
He seemed to be a brawny, thick-set Irishman, gigantic in 
limb, and with a more honest countenance than his fellows. 
He wore a short pea-jacket over the dirty red shirt, and a 
great pair of carpet slippers in place of the sea-boots which 
many of the others displayed. His hair was light and curly, 
and his eyes, keen-looking and large, were of a grey-blue 
and not unkindly-looking. I thought him a man of some 
deliberation for he stared at the Captain and at Hall be- 
fore he answered the question put to him, and then he 
drank a full and satisfying draught from the cup before 
him. When he did give reply, it was in a rich rolling 
voice, a luxurious voice which would have given ornament 
to the veriest commonplace. 

"Oi'd take him aboard, bedad,'' he shouted, leaning 
back as though he had spoken wisdom, and then he nodded 
to the Captain, and the Captain nodded to him. 

The understanding seemed complete. 

"We sail at midnight, tide serving," said the Captain, 
as he picked up the miniature and the other things; "you 
can come aboard when you like — here, boy, lock these in 
the chest." 

The boy put out his hand to take the things, but in his 
fear or his clumsiness, he dropped the miniature, and it 
cracked upon the floor. The mishap gave me my first real 
opportunity of judging these men in the depth of their 
rufiianism. As the lad stood quivering and terror-struck. 
Black turned upon him, almost foaming at the lips. 

"You clumsy young cub, what d'ye mean by that?" he 
asked; and then, as the boy fell on his knees to beg for 



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22 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

mercy, casting one pitiful look towards me — a look I shall 
not soon forget; — he kicked him with his foot, crying — 

"Here, give him a dozen with your strap, one of you." 
He had but to say the words, when a colossal brute 
seized the boy in his grip, and held his head down to the 
table board, while another, no more gentle, stripped his 
shirt off and struck him blow after blow with the great 
buckle, so that the flesh was torn, while the blood trickled 
upon the floor. The brutal act stirred the others to a fine 
merriment, yet for myself, I had all the will to spring up 
and grip the striker as he stood, but Hall, who had cov- 
ered my hand with his, held it so surely, and with such 
prodigious strength, that my fingers almost cracked. It 
was the true sign-manual for me to say nothing, and I 
realised how hopeless such a struggle would be, and 
turned my head that I should not sec the cruel thing to 
the end. 

When the lad fainted they gave him a few kicks with 
their heavy boots, and he lay like a log on the floor, until 
the ruflian named "Roaring John" picked him up and 
threw him into the next room. The incident was forgot- 
ten at once, and Captain Black became quite merry. 

"Bring in the victuals, you John," he said, "and let 
Dick say us a grace; he's been doing nothing but drink 
these eight hours." 

Dick, a red-haired, penetrating-looking Scotsman, who 
carried the economy of his race even to the extent o£ 
flesh, of which he was sparse, greeted the reproof by ca^t^ 
ing down his eyes into the empty can before him. 

"Is a body to cheer himself wi* naething?" he asked j 
"not wi* a bit food and drink after twg. days* toil? It's 
an unreasonable man ye are. Mister Black, an* I dinna ken. 
a 1% rqiwain another hQor 35 njeenist.er to yer vcs^qU" 



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DICK RESIGNS. 23 

"Ho, ho, Dick the Ranter sends in his resignation; 
listen to that, boys,'' said the Captain, who had found his 
humour again. "Dick will not serve the honourable com- 
pany any longer. Ho, swear for the strangers, Dick, and 
let 'em hear your tongue." 

The man, rascal and ill-tongued as I doubt not he was 
at times, refused to comply with the demand as the food 
at length was put upon the table. It was rich food, stews, 
with a profuse display of oysters, chickens, boiled, roast, 
a la maitre d'hotel, fine French trifles, pasties, ices — and it 
was to be washed down, I saw, by draughts from mag- 
nums of Pommery and Greno. I was, at this stage, so 
well accustomed to the scene that the novelty of a com- 
pany of dirty, repulsive-looking seamen banqueting in this 
style did not surprise me one whit, only I wished to 
be away from a place whose atmosphere poisoned me, and 
where every word seemed garnished with some horrible 
oath. I whispered this thought to Hall, and he said, 
"Yes," and rose to go, but the captain pulled him back, 
crying — 

"What, little Jew, you wouldn't eat at other people's 
cost ! Down with it, man, down with it ; fill your pockets, 
stuff 'em to the top. Let's see you laugh, old wizen-face, 
a great sixty per cent, croak coming from your very boots 
— here, you John, give the man who hasn't got any money 
some more drink ; make him take a draught." 

The men were becoming warmed with the stuff they 
had taken, and furiously oflEensive. One of them held Hall 
while the others forced champagne down his throat, and 
the man "Roaring John" attempted to pay me a similar 
coi.^pliment, but I struck the cup from his hand, and he 
drew a knife, turning on me. The action was foolish, for 



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24 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

in a moment a tumult ensued. I heard fierce cries, the 
smash of overturned boards and lights, and remembered no 
more than some terrific blows delivered with my left, as 
Molt of Cambridge taught me, a sharp pain in my right 
shoulder as a knife went home, the voice of Hall crying, 
"Make for the door — the door," and the great yell of 
Captain Black above the others. His word, no doubt, 
saved us from greater harm ; for when I had thought that 
my foolhardiness had undone us, and that we should never 
leave the place alive, I found myself in the Rue Joubert 
with Hall at my side, he torn and bleeding as I was, but 
from a slight wound only. 

"That was near ending badly," he said, looking at the 
skin-deep cut on my shoulder. "They're wild enough 
sober, but Heaven save anyone from them when they're 
the other way!" 

I looked at him steadily for a moment; then I asked — 

"Hall, what does it mean? Who are these men, and 
what business carries you amongst them?" 

"That you'll learn when ycu open the papers; but I 
don't think you will open them yet, for I'm going to 
succeed." He was gay almost to frivolity once more. 
"Did you hear him ask me to sail with him from Dieppe 
to-morrow?" 

"I did, and I believe you're fool enough to go. Did 
you see the look he gave you when he said *Yes'?" 

"Never mind his look. I must risk that and more, as 
I have risked it many a time. Once aboard his yacht I 
shall have the key which will unlock six feet of rope for 
that man, or you may call me the Fool again." 

It was light with the roseate, warm light of a late 
summer's dawn as we reached the hotel. Paris slept, and 



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/ rVAS HUNGRY FOR SLEEP. 25 

the stillness of her streets greeted the life-giving day, 
while the grey mist floated away before the scattered sun- 
beams, and the houses stood clear-cut in the finer air. I 
was hungry for sleep, and too tired to think more of the 
strange dream-like scene I had witnessed; but Hall fol- 
lowed me to my bedroom and had yet a word to say. 

** Before we part — we may not meet again for some 
time, for I leave Paris in a couple of hours — I want to ask 
you to do me yet one more service. Your yacht is at 
Calais, I believe — will you go aboard this morning and 
take her round to Plymouth? There ask for news of the 
American's yacht — he has only hired her, and she is called 
La France, News of the yacht w ill be news of me, and I 
shall be glad to think that someone is at my back in this 
big risk. If you should not hear of me, wait a month; 
but If you get definite proof of my death, break the seal 
of the papers you hold and read — but I don*t think it will 
come to that." 

Co saying, he left me with a hearty handshake. Poor 
fellow, I did not know then that I should break the seal 
of his papers within three days. 



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26 

CHAPTER IIL 

"four-eyes^' 

A WARMING glare of the fuller sun upon my eyes, the 
cracking of whips, the shouting of fierce-lunged coachmen, 
the hum of moving morning life in the city, stirred me 
from a deep sleep as the clock struck ten. I sat up in bed, 
uncertain in the effort of wit-gatheting if night had not 
given me a dream rather than an experience, a chance play 
of the brain's imagining, and not a living knowledge of 
true scenes and strange men. For in this mood does na- 
ture often play with us, tricking us to fine thoughts as we 
lie dreaming, or creating such shows of life as we slumber, 
that in our first moments of wakefulness we do not detect 
the cheat or reckon with the phantoms. I knew not for 
some while, as I lay back listening to the hum of busy 
Paris, if the Perfect Fool had or had not told me any- 
thing, if we had gone together to a house near the Rue 
Joubert, or if we had remained in the hotel, if he had 
begged of me some favour, or if I had dreamed it. All was 
but a confused mind-picture, changing as a kaleidoscope, 
blurred, shadowy. It might have remained so long, had 
I not, in looking about the room, become aware that a 
letter, neatly folded, lay on the small table at my bedside. 
It was the letter which brought the consciousness of real- 
ity; and in that moment I knew that I had not dreamed 
but lived the curious events of the night. But these are 
the words which Martin Hall wrote :- 

"Hotel Scribe. Seven a. m. — I leave in ten minutes, and 
write you here my last word. We shall said from Dieppe 
at midnight. Do not forget to crQs§ to Plymouth if you 



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have any friendship for me. I look to you alone. — Mar- 
tin Hall." 

He had left Paris then, and set out upon his great risk. 
The man's awe-inspiring courage, his immense self-reli- 
ance, his deep purpose, were marked strongly in those few 
simple words, and I had never felt so great an admira- 
tion for him. He looked to me alone, and assuredly he 
should not look in vain. I would follow him to Ply- 
mouth, losing no moment in the act; and I resolved then 
tp go farther if the need should be, and to search for him 
in every land and on every sea, for he was a brave man 
whose like I had not often known. 

I dressed in haste with this intention, and went to 
dejeuner in our private room below. Roderick was there, 
sleepy over his bottle of bad Bordeaux, and Mary, who 
insisted on taking an English breakfast, was in the height 
of a dissertation on Parisian tea. 

"Did you ever see anything so feeble?" she said, being 
fond of Roderick's speech mannerisms, and often mimick- 
ing them. "Isn't it pretty awful?" and she poured some 
from her spoon. 

" Tretty aw ful' is not the expression for a polite young 
woman," replied Roderick, with a severe yawn; "anyone 
who comes to Paris for tea deserves what he gets." 

"Yes, and what he gets *takes the biscuit.' " 

"Mary!" 

"Well, you always say, *takes the biscuit:' why 
shouldn't I?" 

"Because, my child, because," said Roderick, slowly 
and paternally, "because — why, here's Mark. Hallo! 
you're a pretty fellow; I hope you enjoyed yourself last 
night." 

"Exceedingly, thanks; in fact I may say that I had a 



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28 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

most delightful evening with men who suited me to the — 
tea — thank you, Mary! TU take a cup — and now tell 
me, what has he bought you ?" 

I thought that a judicious policy of dissimulation was 
the wise course at that time, for I had not then deter- 
mined to share my secret even with Roderick, as, indeed, 
by my word I was bound not to do until Hall should so 
wish. In this intent I hid all my serious mood, and con- 
tinued the pleasant chatter. 

Mary had soon poured out a cup of the decoction which 
Frenchmen call tea, an aqueous product, the fluid of 
chopped hay long stewed in tepid water, and then she 
answered — 

"Let me see, now% what did Roderick buy me? Oh, 
yes! I remember, he bought me a meerschaum pipe and 
a walking-stickl" 

"A what?" I gasped. 

"A meerschaum pipe, and a walking-stick with a little 
man to hold matches on the top of it" 

Roderick looked guilty, and admitted it. 

"You see/* he said in apology, "they sold only those 
things at the first place we came to, and you don't expect 
a fellow to walk in Paris, do you? Now, when IVe rested 
after breakfast, I suggest that we all make up our minds 
for a long stroll, and get to the Palais Royal." 

"Well, that's about three hundred yards from here, 
isn't it? Are you quite sure you're equal to it?" 

He looked at itie reproachfully. 

"You don't want a man to kill himself on his holiday, 
do you? You're fatally energetic. Now, I believe that 
the science of life is rest, the calm survey of great prob- 
lems from the depths of an armchair. It's astonishing 



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( 



THE ONE CALLED '^FOUR-EYES:' 29 

how easy things arc if you talcc them that way; never 
let anything agitate you — I never do." 

"No, he don't, does he, Mary? But about this excur- 
sion to the Palais Royal; I'm afraid you'll have to go 
alone, for I have just had a letter which calls me back to 
the yacht. It's awfully unfortunate, but I must go, al- 
though I will return here in a week, if possible, and pick 
you up ; otherwise, you will hear of my movements as soon 
as I know them myself." 

Somewhat to my astonishment, they both looked at me, 
saying nothing, but evidently very much surprised. Mary's 
big eyes were wide open with amazement, but Roderick 
had a more serious look on his face. He did not question 
me, he did not say a word, but I felt his thought — "You 
hold something back" — and the mute reproach was keen. 
Perhaps some explanation would then have been de- 
manded had not another interruption broken the unwel- 
come silence. One of the servants of the hotel entered to 
tell me that a man who wished tt ^peak with me was wait- 
ing outside, apd asked if I woyld see him there or in the 
privacy of our room. As I could not recall that anyone 
in Paris had any business with me, I said, "Send the man 
here;" and presently he entered, when to my intense sur- 
prise I found him to be no other than one of the ruffians — 
the one called "Four-Eyes" by the Captain of the com- 
pany I had met on the previous evening. Not that he 
seemed in any way abashed at the meeting — he walked into 
the room with a seaman's lurch and steadied himself only 
when he saw Mary. Then he rang an imaginary bell- 
rope on his forehead, and "hitched" himself together, as 
sailors say, lookmg for all the world like some great dog 
that has entered a house where dogs are forbidden. His 
first words were somewhat unexpected — 



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30 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"Oi was priest's boy in Tipperary, bedad," said he, and 
then he looked round as if that information should put him 
on good terms with us. 

"Will you sit down, please?" was my request as he 
stood fingering his hat, and looking at Mary as though he 
had seen a vision, "and permit me to ask what the fact of 
your serving a priest in Ireland has to do with your pres- 
ence here now?" 

"That brings us to the point av it, and thanking yer 
honor, it*s meself that ain't aisy on them land-craft which 
don't carry me cargo on an even keel at all, so Til be 
standin' with no offence to the Missy, sure, an' gettin' to 
the writin' which is fur yer honor's ear alone as me in- 
struckthshuns goes." 

He rang the bell-rope over his right eye again, and gave 
me a letter, well written on good paper. I watched him 
as I read it, and saw that in a power of eye that was 
astounding, he had fixed one orb upon Mary and one upon 
the ceiling, and that the two objects shared his gaze, while 
his body swayed as though he was unaccustomed to bal- 
ance himself upon a fair floor. But I read his letter, and 
write it for you here — 

"Captain Black presents his compliments to Mr. Mark 
Strong, whom he had the pleasure of receiving last night, 
and regrets the reception which was offered to him. Cap- 
tain Black hopes that it will be his privilege to receive 
Mr. Strong on his yacht La France, now lying over 
against the American vessel Portland, in Dieppe harbour, 
at II to-night, and to extend to him hospitality worthy 
of him and his host." 

Now, that was a curious thing, indeed. Not only did it 
appear that my pretence of being Hall's partner in trade 
was completely unmasked by this man of the Rue Jou-- 



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DANGER TO HALL. 31 

bcrt ; but he had my name — and, by his tone in writing, it 
was clear that he knew my position, and the fact that I 
was no trader at all. Whether such knowledge was good 
for me, I could not then say ; but I made up my mind to 
act with cunning, and to shield Hall so far as possible. 

"Did your master tell you to wait for any answer?" I 
asked suddenly, as the seaman brought his right eye from 
the direction of the ceiling and fixed it upon me ; and he 
said — 

"Is it for the likes of me to be advisin' yer honor? 
*Sure,' says he, *if the gentleman has the moind to wroite 
he'll wroite, if he has the moind to come aboard me — 
mean in' his yacht — he'll come aboard; and we'll be swim- 
ming in liquor together as gents should. And if so be 
as the gentleman* (which is yer honor), says he, Vill con- 
descend to wipe his fate on me cabin shates, let him be 
aboard at Dieppe afore seven bells,' says he, *and we'll 
shame the ould divil with a keg, and heave at daybreak' — 
which is yer honor's pleasure, or otherwise, as it's me juty 
to lam!" 

It needed no very clever penetration on my part to read 
danger in every line of this invitation — not only danger to 
myself, who had been dragged by the heels into the busi- 
ness, but danger to Hall, whose disguise could scarce be 
preserved when mine was unmasked. And yet he had left 
Paris, and even then, perhaps, was in the power of the 
man Black and his crew ! What I could do to help him, I 
could not think; but I determined if possible to glean 
something from the palpably cunning rogue who had come 
on the errand, 

"I'll give you the answer to this in a minute," said I; 
"meanwhile, have a little whisky? A seaman like yourself 
doesn't thrive on cold water, docs he?*' 



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32 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

"Which is philosophy, yer honor — for could wather 
never warmed any man yet — me respects to the young 
lady"^^here he looked deep into his glass, adding slowly, 
^d as if there was credit to him in the recollection, "Oi 
was priest's boy in Tipperary, bedad" — and he drank the 
half cf a stiS glass at a draught. 

"Do you find this good weather in the Channel?" I 
inquired suddenly, looking hard at hihi over the table. 

He made circles with his glass, and turned his eyes upon 
Mary, before he answered; and whfen he did, his voice 
died away like the fall of a gale which is tired. "Noice 
weather, did ye say — by the houly saints, it depends." 

"On what?" I asked, driving the question home. 

"On yer company," said he, returning my gaze, "and 
yer sdwl." 

"That's curious!" 

"Yes, if ye have one to lose, and put anny price on 
it." 

His meaning was too clear. 

"Tell your master, with my compliments," I responded, 
"that I will come another time — I have business in Paris 
to-day!" 

He still looked at me earnestly, and when he spoke 
again his voice had a fatherly ring. "If I make bold, it's 
yer honor's forgiveness I ask — but, if it was me that 
Was in Paris I'd stay there," and putting his glass down 
quickly, he rolled to the door, fingered his hat there for 
ohe moment, put it on awry, and with the oft-repeated 
statement, "Oi wis priest's boy in Tipperary, bedad," he 
swayed out of the room. 

When he Was gone, the bth^fs, who had not spoken, 
turned to me, th^jr e^es asking for an explanation. 



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PTE PTERE ALONE. 33 

"One of Hall's friends," I said, trying to look uncon- 
cerned, "the mate on the yacht Lq France — the vessel he 
joins to-day." 

Roderick tapped the table with his fingers; Mary was 
very white, I thought. 

"He knows a queer company," I add^d^ with a grim 
attempt at jocularity, "they're almost as rough as he is." 

"Do you still mean to sail to-night?" asked Roderick* 

"I must; I have made a promise to reach Plymouth 
without a moment's delay." 

"Then I sail with you," said he, being very wide- 
awake. 

"Oh, but you can't leave Paris; you promised Mary!" 

"Yes, and I release him at once," interrupted Mary, the 
colour coming and going in her pretty cheeks. "I shall 
sail from Calais to-night, with you and Roderick." 

"It's verj^ kind of you — but — you see " 

"That we mean to come," added Roderick quickly. 
"Go and pack your things, Mary; I have something to 
say to Mark." 

We were alone, he and I, but there was between us the 
first shadow that had come upon our friendship. 

"Well," said he, "how much am I to know?" 

"What you choose to learn, and as much as your eyes 
teach you — it's a promise, and I've given my word on it." 

"I was sure of it. But \ don't like it all the same — 
I distrust that fool, who seems to me a perfect madman. 
He'll drag you into some mess, if you'll let him. I sup- 
pose there's no danger yet or you wouldn't let Mary 
comp?" 

"TJicre C2SX b^ no risk now, be quite sure o{ that — we 
are going for a three days' cruise in the Channel, that is 
all." 



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34 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"All you care to tell me — well, I can't ask more; 
what time do you start?" 

"By the club train. I have two hours* work to do yet, 
but I will meet you at the station, if you'll bring my 
bag " 

"Of course — and I can rest for an hour. That always 
does me good in the morning." 

I left him so, being myself harassed by many thoughts. 
The talk with Black's man did not leave me any longer in 
doubt that Hall had gone to great risk in setting out with 
the ruffian's crew ; and I resolved that if by any chance it 
could be done, I would yet call him back to Paris. For 
this I went at once to the office of the Police, and laid as 
much of the case before one of the heads as I thought 
needful to my purpose. He laughed at me ; the yacht La 
France was known to him as the property of an eccentric 
American millionaire, and he could not conceive that any- 
one might be in danger aboard her. As there was no hope 
from him, I took a fiacre and drove to the Embassy, where 
one of the clerks heard my whole story; and while in- 
wardly laughing at my fears, as I could see, promised to 
telegraph to a friend in Calais, and get my message de- 
livered. 

I had done all in my power, and I returned to the 
Hotel Scribe; but the others had left for the station. 
Thither I followed them, instructing a servant to come to 
me at the Gare du Nord if any telegram should be sent; 
and so reached the train, and the saloon. It was not, 
however, until the very moment of our departure that a 
messenger raced to our carriage, and thrust a paper at me ; 
and then I knew that my warning had come too late. 
The paper said : 

"Lfl France has sailed, and your friend with her." 



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35 
CHAPTER IV. 

A STRANGE SIGHT ON THE SEA. 

It was on the morning of the second day; three bells in 
the watch; the wind playing fickle from east by south, 
and the sea agold with the light of an August sun. Two 
points west of north to starboard I saw the chalky cliffs 
of the Isle of Wight faint through the haze, but away 
ahead the Channel opened out as an unbroken sea. The 
yacht lay without life in her sails, the flow of the swell 
beating lazily upon her, and the great mainsail rocking on 
the boom. We had been out twenty-four hours, and had 
not made a couple of hundred miles. The delay angered 
every man aboard the Celsis, since every man aboard knew 
that it was a matter of concern to me to overtake the 
American yacht. La France, and that a life might go with 
long-continued failure. 

As the bells were struck, and Piping Jack, our boat- 
swain — they called him Piping Jack because he had a 
sweetheart in every port from Plymouth to Aberdeen, and 
wept every time we put to sea — piped down to breakfast, 
my captain betrayed his irritation by an angry sentence. 
He was not given to words, was Captain York, and the 
men knew him as "The Silent Skipper;" but twenty-four 
hours without wind enough to "blow a bug," as he put 
it, was too much for any man's temper. 

"I tell you what, sir," he said, sweeping the horizon 
with his glass for the tenth time in ten minutes, "this 
American of yours has taken the breeze in his pocket, and 
may it blow him to— I beg your pardon, I did not s^ 
that the young lady had joined us," 



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36 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

But Mary was there, fresh as a rose dipped in dew, and 
as Roderick followed her up the companion ladder, we 
held a consultation, the fifth since we left Calais. 

"It's my opinion," said Roderick, "that if those men 
of yours had not been ashore on leave, York, and we 
could have sailed at midnight, we should have done the 
business and been in Paris again by this time." 

"It's my opinion, sir, that your opinion is not worth 
a cockroach," cried the captain quite testily; "the men 
have nothing to do with it. Look above; if you'll show 
mie how to move this ship without a hatful of wtnd, TU 
do it, sir," and he strutted off to breakfast, leaving us 
with Dan, the forward look-out. 

Dan was a grand old seaman, and there wasn't one of 
us who didn't appeal to him in our difficulties. 

"Do you think it rtieans to blow, Dan?" I asked, 
as I oflFcred him my tobacco-pouch; and Mar>' said earn- 
estly— 

"Oh, Daniel, I do wish a gale would come on!" 

"Ay, Miss, and so do many of us; but we can't be 
niaking wdnd no more'n we can make wittals — and excus- 
ing me, Miss, it ain't Daniel, not ttieaning no disrespect 
to the other gent, whose papers was all right, I don't 
doubt, but my mother warn't easy in larning, and maybe 
diidn't know of him — it's Dan, Miss, free-and-easy like, 
but nat'ral." 

"Well, I>an, do you think it will blow? C^n't you 
promise it will blow?" 

"Lor, Miss, I'd promise ye anything; but what is nater 
is nater, and there's an end on it — not as I don't say there 
won't be a hatful o' wind afore night — why should I? 
but as for promisin' of it, why I'd give ye a hurricime 
willing— or two/' 



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MY SCHOONER AGAIN. 37 

We went down to breakfast, the red of sea strength on 
our cheeks ; and in the cosy saloon we made short work of 
the coffee and the soles, the great heaps of toast, and the 
fresh fruit. I could not help some gloomy thoughts as I 
found myself on my own schooner again, asking how long 
she would be mine, and how I should suffer the loss of her 
when all my money was spent. These were cast off in the 
excitement of the chase, and came only in the moments of 
absolute calm, when all the men aboard fretted and fumed, 
and every other question was: ** Isn't it beginning to 
blow?" 

The morning passed in this way, a long morning, with 
a sea like a mirror, and the sun as a great circle of red fire 
in the haze. Hour after hour we walked from the fore- 
hatch to the tiller, from the tiller to the fore-hatch, vary- 
ing the exercise with a full inspection of every craft that 
i^howed above the horizon. At eight bells we lay a few 
miles farther westward, the island still visible to star- 
board, but less distinct. At four bells, when we went to 
lunch the heat was terrible below and the sun was terri- 
ble on deck ; but yet there was not a breeze. At six bells 
some dark and dirty clouds rose up from the south, and 
twenty hands pointed to them. At "one bell in the first 
dog'' the clouds were thick, and the sun was hidden. 
Half-an-hour later there was a shrill whistling in the 
shrouds, and the rain began to patter on the deck, while 
the booms fretted, and we relieved her in part of her press 
of sail. When the squall struck us at last, the Channel 
was foaming with long lines of choppy seas; and the sky 
southward was dark as ink. But there was only joy of It 
aboard ; we stood gladly as the Celsis heeled to it, and ris- 
ing free as an unslipped hound, sent the spray fl)ang in 



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38 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

clouds, and dipped her decks to the foam which washed 
her. 

During one hour, when we must have made eleven 
knots, the wind blew strong, and was fresh again after 
that ; so that we set the foresail unreefed, and let the great 
mainsail go not many minutes later. The swift motion 
was an ecstasy to all of us, an unbounded delight ; and 
even the skipper softened as we stood well out to sea, and 
looked on a great continent of clouds underlit with the 
spreading glow of the sunset, their rain setting up the 
mighty arched bow whose colours stood out with a rich 
light over the wide expanse of the east. Nor did the 
breeze fall, but stiffened towards night, so that in the 
first bell, when we came up from dinner, the Celsis was 
straining and foaming as she bent under her press of can- 
vas, and it needed a sailor*s foot to tread her decks. But 
of this no one thought, for we had hardly come above 
when we heard Dan hailing — 

"Yacht on the port bow." 

"What name?" came from twenty throats. 

"Ltf France/^ said Dan, and the words had scarce left 
his lips when the skipper roared the order — 

"Stand by to go about!" 

For some minutes the words " *bout ship" were not 
spoken. The schooner held her course, and rapidly drew 
up with the yacht we had set out to seek. From the first 
there was no doubt about her name, which she displayed 
in great letters of gold above her figure-head. Dan had 
read them as he sighted her; and we in turn felt a thrill 
of delight as we proved his keen vision, watching the big 
cutter, for such she was, heading, not for Plymouth, but 
for the nearer coast. But this was not the only strange 
thing about her course, for when she had made some few 



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" 'BOUT SHIP:^ 39 

hundred yards towards the coast, she jibbed round of a 
sudden, with an appalling wrench at the horse ; and there 
being, as it appeared, no hand either at the peak halyards 
or the throat halyards, the mainsail presently showed a 
great rent near the luff, while the foresail had torn free 
from the bolt-ropes of the stay, and was presenting a 
sorry spectacle as the yacht went about, and away towards 
France again. 

Such a display of seamanship astounded our men. 

"Close haul, you lubbers; close haul!" roared Dan, in 
the vain delusion that his voice would be heard a quarter 
of a mile away. "Keep down yer 'elm, and close haul — 
wash me in rum if he ain*t comin* up again, and there she 
goes, right into it. Shake up, you gibbering fools; luff 
her a bit, and make fast. Did ye ever see anythin* like it 
this side of a Margit steamer?" 

The skipper said nothing, but as the yacht luffed right 
up into the wind again, he groaned as a man who is hurt. 
Piping Jack looked sorrowful too, and said, almost with 
tears in his eyes — 

"Axing yer pardon, sir, but hev you got a pair of eyes 
in your head which can make out anything unusual aboard 
there?" 

"They're a queer lot, if that's what you mean, and they 
haven't got enough seamanship amongst them to run a 
washing-tub. Is there anything else you make out?" 

"A good deal, sir; and, look you, there ain't a living 
soul on her deck, or may I never see shore again." 

"By all that's curious, you're right. There isn't a man 
sliowing!" 

" 'Bout ship," roared the skipper, and every man ran to 
his post, while I touched Captain York on the shoulder 
and pointed to the seemingly deserted and errant yacht. 



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40 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

But the skipper*s eyes were not those of a ground-gazer ; 
he needed no aid from me; what others had seen he had 
seen, and he nodded an affirmative to my unspoken ques- 
tion. 

" What do you think it means ?" I as]ced, as wq came up 
into the wind, and the men were belaying after close 
hauh'ng for the beat; "are they hiding from us, or is she 
deserted ?" 

But the only answer I got was the one word "Runi/' 
uttered with a jerky emphasis, and taken up by Dan, who 
said — 

"Very rum, and a good many drunk below, or I don't 
know the taste of it." 

The obvious fact that the yacht we had sought and 
run down was without living men upon her decks had 
taken the lilt from the seamen's merry tongues, and a 
gloom settled on us all. Perhaps it was more than a mere 
surmise, for an uncanny feeling of something dreadful to 
come took hold of me, and I feared that, finding the yacht, 
we had also found the devil's work; but I held my peace 
on that, and made up my mind to act. 

"Skipper," said I, "order a boat out; Tm going aboard 
her." 

He looked at me, and shook his head. 

"When the wind falls, perhaps; but now I" and he 
shrugged his shoulders. 

"Is there any sign that the breeze will drop?" 

"None at present; but I'll tell you more in an hour. 
Meanwhile," and here he whispered, "get your pistols out 
and say nothing to the men. I shall follow her." 

His advice was wise; and as the dark began to f^U and 
the night breeze to blow fresh, while the yacht ahead of 
us swung her^ and there, almost making circles about us, 



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RODERICK HAS AN OPINION. 41 

wc hove to for the time and watched her. I begged Mary 
to go below, but she received the suggestion with merri- 
ment. 

"Go below, when the men say there's fun coming! 
Why should I go below?'' 

"Because it may be serious fun." 

She took my arm, and linking herself closely to me as 
to a brother, she said — 

"Because there's danger to you and to Roderick; isn't 
that it, Mark?" 

"Not to us any more than to the men; and there may 
be no danger, of course. It's only a thought of mine." 

"And of mine too. I shall stay where I am, or Roder- 
ick will go to sleep." 

"What does Roderick say?" 

He had joined us on the starboard side, and was gazing 
over the sea at the pursued yacht, which lay shaking dead 
in the wind's eye, but Mary's question upset whatever 
speculation he had entered upon. 

"I've got an opinion," he drawled, with a yawn. 

"You don't say so " 

"The wind's falling, and it's getting beastly dark." 

"Two fairly obvious conclusions; do you think you 
could keep sufficiently awake to help man the boat? — in 
another ten minutes we shall see nothing." 

"Do you think I'm a foc4, that I'm going to stop 
here?" 

"Forgive me, but I'm getting anxious. Martin Hall 
sailed on that yacht; and I prbmised to help him — but 
there's no need for you to do anything, you know." 

"No need when you are going — pshaw, I'll fetch my 
Colt, and Mary shall watch us. I don't think she is 
frfraid of much, urc you, Rat8?''-^c called hit "IUt9** 



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42 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

because they were the one thing on earth she feared— ^and 
then he went below, and I followed him, getting my re- 
volver and my oilskins, for I knew that it would be wet 
work. I had scarce reached the deck again when I felt 
the schooner moving; but no break of light showed the 
place where the other was, and the skipper called presently 
for a blue flare, which cast a glowing light for many 
hundred yards, and still left us uncertain. 

"She's gone, for sure," said Dan to the q^ien around 
him, for every soul on board, even including old Chasselot 
— called by the men "Cuss-a-lot" — our cook, was staring 
into the thick night; "and I wouldn't stake a noggin that 
her crew ain't cheated the old un at last an' gone down 
singing. It's mighty easy to die with your head full o' 
rum, but I don't go for to choose it meself, not particler." 

Billy Eightbells, the second mate, was quite of Dan's 
opinion. The looks of the others told me then that they 
began to fear the adventure. Billy was the first really to 
give expression to the common sentiment. 

"Making bold to speak," he said, "it were two years 
ago come Christmas as I met something like this afore, 
down Rio way " 

"Was it at eight bells, Billy?" asked Mary mischie- 
vously. She knew that all Billy's yarns began at eight 
bells. 

"Weil, I think it were, mum, but as I was saying " 

"Flash again," said the skipper, suddenly interrupting 
the harangue and as the blue light flashed we saw right 
ahead of us the wanderer we sought ; but she was bearing 
down upon us, and there was fear in the skipper's voice 
when he roared — 

"For God's sake, hard a-starboard !" 

The helm went over, and the yacht loomed up black, as 



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DAN GOES. 43 

our own light died away; and passed us within a cable's 
length. What lift of the night there was showed us her 
decks again ; but they were not deserted, for as one or two 
aboard gave a great cry, I saw the white and horridly 
distorted face of a man who clung to the main shrouds — 
and he alone was guardian of the wanderer. 

The horrid vision struck my own men with a deadly 
fearing. 

"May the Lord help us!" said Dan. 

"And him!" added Piping Jack solemnly. 

"Was he alive, d'you think?" asked Dan. 

"It*s my opinion he'd seen something as no Christian 
man ought to see. Please God, we all get to port again !" 

"Please God!" said half-a-dozen; and their words had 
meaning. 

For myself, my thoughts were very different. That 
vision of the man I had left well and hopeful and strong 
not three days since was terrible to me. A brave man had 
gone to his deatli, but to what a death, if that agonised 
face and distorted visage betokened aught! And I had 
promised to aid him, and was drifting there with the 
schooner, raising no hand to give him help. 

"Skipper," I cried, "this time well risk getting a boat 
off; Tm going aboard that vessel now, if I drown before 
I return." Then I turned to the men, and said: "You 
saw the yacht pass just now, and you saw that man aboard 
her — he's my friend, and Fm going to fetch him. Who 
amongst you is coming with me?" 

They hung back for a moment before the stuff that was 
in them showed itself; then Dan lurched out, and said — 

"I go!" 

Billy Eightbells followed. 

"And I," said he, "if it's the Old One himself." 



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44 THE SHADOTF ON THE SEA. 

"And I," said Piping Jack. 

"And I/' said Planks, the carpenter. 

"Come on, then, and take your knives in your belts. 
Skipper, put about and show another light." 

He obeyed mechanically, saying nothing; but he was a 
brave man, I knew. It was our luck to find that the boat 
went away from t!.e davits with no more than a couple cl 
buckets of water in her; and in two minutes* time the 
men were giving way, and we rose and fell to the still 
choppy sea, while the green spray ran from our oilskins 
in gallons. In this way we made a couple of hundred 
yards in the direction we judged the yacht would turn, 
and lit a flash. It showed her a quarter of a mile away, 
jibbing round and coming into the wind again. 

"We shall catch her on the tack if she holds h^ 
oearing," said Dan, "and be aboard in ten minutes." 

"What then?" said Billy. 

"Ay, what then?" echoed the others. 

"But it's a friend of the guv'nor's," repeated Dan, 
and he's in danger — no common dangpr, neither. Please 
God, we will all get to port again." 

"Please God!" they responded, and Roderick, who sat 
at the tiller with me, whispered — 

"I never saw men who liked a job less." 

As the good fellows gave way again, and the boat rode 
easily before the wind, I noticed for the first time that 
the clouds were scattering; and we had not made another 
cable's length when a great cloud above us showed silvpr 
at its edges, and opaquely white in its centre, through 
which the moon shone. Anon it dissolved, and the trans- 
formation on the surface of the water was a transforma- 
tion from the dark of storm to the chrome light of a sum- 



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'A TERRIBLE SIGHT. 45 

mer moon. There, around us, the panorama stretched 
out: the sea, white-waved and rolling; the lights of a 
steamer to port ; of a couple of sailing vessels astern ; of a 
fishing fleet away ahead, and nearer to the shore. But 
these we had no thought for, since the deserted yacht was 
beating up to us, and we stood right in her track. 

^*Get a grapnel forward, and look out there," cried 
Dan, who was in command ; and Billy stood ready, while 
we could hear the swish of the waves against the cutter's 
bows, and every man instinctively put his hand on his 
pistol or his knife. 

As if to help us, the wind fell away as the schooner 
came up, and she began to shake her sails ; making no way 
as she headed almost due east. It seemed a fit moment 
for effort, and Dan had just sung out "Give way," when 
every man who had gripped an oar let go the handle again 
and sat with horror writ on his countenance. For, al- 
most with the words of the order, there was the sound as 
of fierce contest, cf the bursting of wood, and the spread 
of flame ; and in that instant the decks of the yacht were 
ripped up, and sheets of fire rose from them to the rigging 
above. The light of this mighty flare spread instantly over 
the sea about her, and far away you could look on the roll- 
ing waves, red as waves of fire. A terrible sight it was, 
and terrible sounds were those of the wood rending with 
the heat, of the stays snapping and flying, of the hissing 
of the flame where it met the water. But it was a sight 
of infinite horror to us, because we knew that one who 
might yet live was a prisoner of the conflagration — the 
one passenger, as it seemed then, of the vessel which was 
doomed. 

"Give way," roared Dan again, for the men sat motion- 



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46 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

less with terror. "Are you going to let him burn? May 
God have mercy on him, for he needs mercy!" 

The words awed them. They shot the long-boat for- 
ward ; and I stood in her stern to observe, if I could, what 
passed on the burning decks. And I saw a sight the like 
to which I pray that I may never see again. Martin Hall 
stood at the main shrouds, motionless, volumes of flame 
around him, his figure clear to be viewed by that awful 
beacon. 

"Why doesn't he jump it?" I called aloud. "If he 
can't swim, he could keep above until we're alongside;" 
and then I roared "Ahoy!" and every man repeated the 
cry, calling "Ahoy!" each time he bent to his oar, his 
voice hoarse with excitement. But Martin Hall never 
moved, his gaunt figure was motionless — the flames beat 
upon it, it did not stir; and we drew near enough anon 
and knew the worst. 

"Devils' work, devils' work!" said Dan; "he's lashed 
there — and he's dead!" But the men still cried "Ahoy!" 
as they rushed their oars through the water, and were as 
those mad with fiery drink. 

"Easy!" roared Dan. "Easy, for a parcel of stark 
fools! Would you run alongside her?" 

There they lay, for any nearer approach would have 
been perilous, and even in that place where we were, 
twenty feet on the windward side, the heat was nigh un- 
bearable. So near were we that I looked close as it might 
be into the dead face of Martin Hall, and saw that the 
fiends who had lashed him. there had done their work too 
well. But I hoped in my heart that he had been dead 
when the end of the ship had begun to come, and that it 
were no reproach to me that he had perished : for to save 
his body from that holocaust was work no man might do. 



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A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAD. 47 

So did we watch the mounting fire, and the last tack 
of the yacht La France. Saucily she raised her head to a 
new breeze, shook her great sail of flame in the night, and 
scattered red light about her. Then she dipped her burn- 
ing jib as if in salute, and there was darkness. 

"Rest to a good ship," said Dan, in melancholy mood; 
but I said — 

"Rest to a friend." I had known the man whose death 
had come ; and when his body went below, I hungered for 
the grip of the hand which was then washed by the Chan- 
nel waves. 

"Give way," I cried to the men, who sat silent in their 
fear of it, and when they rowed again they cried as before, 
"Ahoy!" so strong and vivid was the picture which the 
sea had then put out. 

As we neared our own ship, Roderick endeavored to 
speak to me, but his voice failed, and he took my hand, 
giving it a great grip. Then we came aboard, where 
Mary waited for us with a white face, and the others 
stood silent; but we said nothing to them, going below. 
There I locked myself in my own cabin, and though 
fatigue lay heavy on me, and my eyes were clouded with 
the touch of sleep, I took Martin Hall's papers from my 
locker, and lighted the lamp to read them through. 

But not without awe, for they were a message from 
the dead. 



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48 
CHAPTER V. 

THE WRITING OF MARTIN HALL. 

The manuscript which was sealed on its cover in many 
places, consisted of several pages of close writing, and of 
sketches and scraps from newspapers — Italian, French, 
and English. The sketches I looked at first, and was not a 
little surprised to see that one of them was the portrait 
of the man known as "Roaring John," whom I had met 
at Paris in the strange company; while there was with 
this a blurred and faint outline of the features of the sea- 
man called "Four-Eyes," who had come to me at the 
Hotel Scribe with the bidding to go aboard La France. 
But what, perhaps, was even more difficult to be under- 
stood was the picture of the great hull of what I judged 
to be a warship, showing her a-building, with the work 
yet progressing on her decks. The newspaper cuttings 
I deemed to be in some part an explanation of these 
sketches, for one of them gave a description of a very 
noteworthy battle-ship, constructed for a South American 
Republic, but in much secrecy ; while another hinted that 
great pains had been taken with the vessel, which was 
built at a mighty cost, and on so new a plan that the 
shipwrights refused to give information concerning her 
until she had been some months at sea to prove her. 

All this reading remained enigmatical, of course, and 
as I could make nothing of it to connect it with the events 
I have narrated, I went on to the writing, which was fine 
and small, as the writing of an exact man. And the 
words upon the head of it were these: — 



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BY WAY OF PREFACE. 49 

SOME ACCOUNT OF A NAMELESS WARSHIP. 

OF HER CREW. AND HER PURPOSE. 

Written for the eyes of Mark Strong, by Martin Hall, 
sometime his friend, 

I put from me the sorrow of the thought which the 
last three words brought to me, and read therefrom this 
history, which had these few sentences as its preface: — 

"You read these words. Mark Strong*, when I am dead; 
and I would ask you before you go further with them to 
consider well if you would wish, or have inclination for, 
a pursuit in which I have lost all that a man can lose, 
and in which your risk, do you take the work upon you, 
will be no less than mine was. For if you read what is 
written here, and have in you that stuff which cannot 
brook mystery, and is fired when mystery also is danger, 
I know that you will venture upon this undertaking at 
the point where death has held my hand; and that by so 
doing you may reap where I have sown. And with this, 
think nor act in any haste lest you lay to my charge that 
which may befall you in the pursuit you are about to 
Degin." 

I read on, for the desire to do justice to Martin Hall 
was strong upon me at the very beginning of it. 

From that place the story was in great part autobio- 
graphical, but in no sense egotistical. It was, as you shall 
sec, the simple narration of a man sincere in his dreaming, 
if he did dream ; logical in his madness, if he were mad. 
And this was his story as first I read it: — 

"Having well considered the warning which is the su- 
perscription of this record, you have determined to con- 
tinue this narrative, I do not doubt; for I judge you to be 
a man who, having tasted the succulent dish of curiosity, 
will not put it away from you until you have eaten your 
fill. I will tell you, therefore, such a part of my life as 
you should know when you come to ask yourself the qucs- 



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56 The shadow on the sea. 

tion, 'Is this man a fool or an imbecile, a crack-brained 
faddist or the victim of hallucination?* This question 
should arise at a later stage, and I beg you not to put it 
until you have read every word that I have written here. 

"I was born in Liverpool, thirty-three years ago, and 
was educated for a few years at the well-known institute 
in that city. They taught me there that consciousness of 
ignorance which is half an education ; and being the son of 
a man who starved on a fine ability for modelling things 
in clay, and plaster-moulding, I went out presently to 
make my li/ing. First to America, you doubt not, to get 
the experience of coming home again; then to the Cape, 
to watch other men dig diamonds; to Rome, to Naples, to 
Genoa, that I might know what it was to want food; to 
South America as an able seaman; to Australia in the 
stoke-hole of a South Sea liner; home again to my poor 
father, who lay dead when I reached Liverpool. 

"I was twenty-two years old then, and glutted with 
life. I had no relation living that I knew of; no friend 
who was not also a plain acquaintance. By what chance it 
was I cannot tell, but I drifted like a living log into the 
detective force of oiy city, and after working up for a few 
years through the grades, they put me on the landing- 
stage at Liverpool, to watch for men who wished to emi- 
grate because they had no opinion of the police force here, 
ft was miserable employment, but educating, for it taught 
me to read faces that were disguised, old men become 
beardless, young men made old at the touch of a coiffeur. 
I suppose I had more than common success, for when I 
had been so employed for five years I was sent to London 
by our people, and there commanded to go to the Admir- 
alty and get new instructions. Regard this, please, as the 



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WHERE THE FINE MATURES. 51 

first mark in this record I am making. Of my work for 
our own people I may not tell even j^ou, since I engaged 
upon it under solemn bond of secrecy ; but I can indicate 
that I was sent to Italy to pick up facts in the dockyards 
there, and that our people relied on my gifts of disguise, 
and on my knowledge of Italian, learnt upon Italian ships 
and in Italian ports. In short, I was expected to provide 
plans and accounts of many things material to our own 
service, and I entered on the business with alacrity, gained 
admittance to the public dockyards, and knew in a twelve- 
month all that any man could learn who had his wits 
only to guide him, and as much of those of other men as 
he could pick up. 

"But I imagine your natural impatience, and your 
mental exclamation, 'What has all this rigmarole to do 
with me — how does it affect this pretended narrative?' 
Bear with me a moment vv !ien I tell you that it is vital to 
my story. It was in Italy during my second year of work 
that I had cause to be at Spezia, inspecting there a new 
type of gun-boat about which there was much talk and 
many opinions. I have no need to tell you, who have not 
the bombastic knowledge of a one-city man, that at Spezia 
is to be found all that is great in the naval life of Italy; 
on the grand forts of the bay which received the ashes of 
Shelley arc her finest guns; on the glorious hills which 
arise above her limpid blue waters are her chief fortifica- 
tions. There, at the feet of the hills where grows the 
olive, and where the vine matures to luxurious growth, 
you will find in juxtaposition with Nature's emblems of 
peace the storehouses of the shot and shell which one day 
shall sow the sea and the land with blood. Amongst 
thpse iortifications, amidst these adamantine terraces and 



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52 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

turrets my work lay ; but the most part of it was done in 
the dockyards, both in the yards which were the property 
of the Government and in the private yards. My recrea- 
tion was a rare cruise to the lovely gulfs which the bay 
embosoms, to the Casa di Mare, to Fezzano, to the Tem- 
ple of Venus at the Porto Venere ; or a walk when there 
was golden-red light on the clustering vines, and the 
Apennines were capped with the spreading fire which falls 
on them when the sun passes low at twilight. Many an 
hour I stood above the old town, asking, why a common 
cheat of a spy, as I reckoned myself, should presume to 
find other thoughts when breathing that air laden of soli- 
tude ; but they came to me whether I would or no ; and 
it was often on my mind to throw over the whole business 
of prying ; and to set out on a work which should achieve 
something, if only a little, for humanity. That I did not 
follow this impulse, which grew upon me from day to 
day, is to be laid to the charge of one of those very walks 
upon the hill-side about which I have been telling you. It 
was an evening late in the year, and the sun was just set- 
ting. I watched the changing hues of the peaks as the 
light spread from point to point; watched it reddening 
the sea, and leaving it black in the shadows; watched it 
upon the church spires of Spezia, upon the castle roof, 
upon the steel hulls of great ships. And then I saw a 
strange thing, for amongst all the vessels which were so 
burnished by the invisible hand of Heaven, I saw one that 
stood out beyond them all, a great globe, not of silver, but 
of golden fire. There was no doubt about it at all; I 
rubbed my eyes, I used the glass I always carried with me ; 
I viewed the hull I saw lying there from half-a-dozen 
heights ; and I was sure that what I saw was no effect of 
evening light or strange refraction. The ship I looked on 



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A SHIP OF GOLD. 53 

was built either of brass, or of some sllay of brass, as it 
seemed to me, for the notion that she could be plated with 
gold was preposterous ; and yet the more I examined her, 
the more clearly did I make out that her hull was con- 
structed of a metal infinitely gold-like, and of so beau- 
tiful a colour in the reddened stream which shone upon it 
that the whole ship had the aspect of a mirror of the 
purest gold I had ever seen. 

"The sudden fading of the light behind the hills shut 
the vision — I could not call it less — from my eyes. The 
dark fell, and the vines rustled with the cold coming of 
night. I returned to the town quickly, and neglecting any 
thought of dinner, I went straight to the sea-front and 
began, if I could, to find where the water lay wherein this 
extraordinary steamer was docked. I had taken the bear- 
ings of it from the hills, and I was very quickly at that 
spot where I thought to have seen the strange vessel. 
There, truly enough, was a dock in which two small coast- 
ing steamers were moored, but of a sign of that which I 
sought there was none. I should have had the matter out 
there and then, searching the place to its extremity ; but I 
had not been at my work ten minutes when I knew that I 
was watched. A man, dressed as a rough sailor, and re- 
markable for the hideousness of his face and a curious 
malformation of one tooth, lurked behind the heaps of sea- 
lumber, and followed me from point to point. I did not 
care to have any altercation, so I left the matter there; 
but, being determined to probe the mystery to the very 
bottom, I returned in a good disguise of a common Eng- 
lish seaman on the following evening, and again entered 
the dockyard. The same man was watching, but he had 
no suspicion of me. 



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54 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

" 'Any job going?' I asked, and the question seemed to 
interest him. 

" 'I reckon that depends on the man/ he replied, stick- 
ing his hands deep into his pockets, and squirting his filthy 
tobacco all over the timber about. 'What's a little wizen 
chap like you good for, except to get yer neck broken?' 

" 'All in my line,' I answered jauntily, having fixed my 
plan ; 'I'm starving amongst these cursed cut-throats here, 
and I'm ready for anything.' 

" 'Starving, are you ! Then blarm me if you shan't 
earn your supper. D'y'see that four feet of bullock's fat 
and nigger working at them iron pins in the far corner?' 
— he pointed to a thick-set, dark and burly seaman work- 
ing in the way he had described — 'go and stick yer knife 
in him, and I'm good for a bottle — two, if you like, you 
darned little shootin' rat of a man;' and he clutched me 
with his great paw and shook me until my teeth chattered 
again. But his look was full of meaning, and I believe 
that he wished every word he said. 

" 'Stick your knife into the man yourself,' I replied, 
when I was free of him, 'you great Yankee lubber — for 
another word I'd give you a taste of mine now.' 

"He looked at me as I stood making this poor mock of 
a threat, and laughed till he rang up the hill-sides. Then 
he said — 

"'You're my sort; I reckon I know your flag. Out 
with it, and we'll pour liquor on it, I guess; for there 
ain't no foolin' you — no, by thunder! You're just a daisy 
of a man, you are ; so come along and let the nigger be. 
As for hurtin' of 'im — why, so help me blazes, he's my 
pard, he is, and I love him like my own little brother 
wh^t died of lead-poisonin' down Sint Louis way. Yqu 



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ROAkING JOHN. 55 

come alon^, you little cuss, and see if I don'^t make you 
dance — oh I reckon!* 

"I take these words from my note-book, and write 
them out for you, to give you some idea of the class of 
man I met with first on this adventure. More of his nice 
language I do not intend to trouble you with; but will 
say that I drank with him, and later on with his com- 
panions, about as fine a dozen of self-stamped rascals as 
ever I wish to see. Next day, I came again to the dock- 
yard, for the conversation of the previous evening had 
convinced me beyond doubt that I was at the foot of a 
mystery, and, to my delight, I got employment from the 
chief of the gang, named *Roaring John* by his friends; 
and was soon at work on the simple and matter-of-fact 
business of cutting planks. This gave me an entry to the 
dockyard — all I wished at the moment. 

"Now, you may ask, 'Why did you take the trouble to 
do all this from the mere motive of curiosity engendered 
by the strange ship you thought you saw from the hills?' 
I will tell you briefly. The fact of my being watched 
wlien I entered the dock convinced me that there was 
something there which no stranger might see. That 
which no stranger may see in a foreign yard spells also 
the word money. If there was any information to be got 
in that dock, I could sell it to my own Government, or 
to the first Government in Europe I chose to haggle with. 
This reason alone made me a hewer of wood amongst 
foul-mouthed companions, a tar-bedaubed loafer in a 
crew of loafers. 

"You see me, then, at the stage when I had got ad- 
mission to the dock, but had learnt nothing of the vessel. 
It Is true that I was admitted only to the outer basin, 
where the coasting steamers lay, and that the man 'Roar- 



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56 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

ing John' threatened me with all the curses he could com- 
mand if I passed the gate which opened into the dock be- 
yond ; but such threats to a man whose business it was to 
lay bare mystery had no more effect on me than the bray- 
ing of an ass in a field of clover. Minute by minute and 
hour by hour, I waited my opportunity. It came to me 
on the morning of the eighth day, when, in the poor hope 
of getting something by the loss of sleep, I reached the 
yard at four o'clock ; and the gate being unopen, I lurked 
in hiding until the first man should come. He was no 
other than the one who had engaged me; and when he 
had gone in, about five minutes after I had come, he did 
not close the second door after him, there being no men 
then at their work. I need not tell you that I used my 
eyes well in these minutes, and while he was away — this 
was no more than a quarter of an hour — I had seen all I 
wished to see. There, sure enough, lay the most remark- 
able war-ship I had ever beheld — a great, well-armed 
cruiser, whose decks were bright with quick-firing guns, 
whose lines showed novelty in every inch of them. More 
remarkable than anything, however, was the confirmation 
of that which I had seen from the hill. The ship, seem- 
ingly, was built of the purest gold. This, of course, I 
knew could not be; but as the sun got up and his light 
fell on the vessel, I thought that I had never seen a more 
glorious sight. She shone with the refulgent beauty of a 
thousand mirrors; every foot of her deck, of her turrets, 
of her upper house made a sheen of dazzling fire; the 
points of her deck lights were as beacons, all lurid and 
a-gold. So marvellous, truly, was her aspect, that I for- 
got all else but it, and stood entranced, marvelling, for- 
getful of myself and purpose. The flash of a knife in the 



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A BAD MISHAP. 57 

air and a fearful oath brought me to my senses to know 
that I was in the grasp of the man 'Roaring John.' 

" 'Curse you for a small-eyed cheat ! what are you do- 
ing here?' he asked, shaking me and threatening every 
minute to let me feel his steel ; 'what are you doing here, 
you little cat of a man? Spit it out, or Tm darned if I 
don't spit you; oh, I guess!* 

"I should have made some answer in the rough voice I 
always put on in this undertaking, but a bad mishap befell 
me. The best of my disguise was the thick, bushy black 
hair I wore about my face. As the ruffian went to take a 
firmer hold of my collar, he pulled aside a portion of my 
beard, and left my chin clean-shaven beneath as naturally 
it was. The intense surprise of this discovery seemed to 
hit him like a blow. He stepped back with a murderous 
look in his eyes — a look which meant that, if I stayed 
there to deal with him alone, I had not another minute to 
live. But I cheated him again, and, turning on my heel, 
I fled with all the speed I possessed, and got into the 
street with twenty ruffians at my heels, and a hue and 
cry such as I hope never to hear again. 

"The escape was clever, but I reached my hotel and 
sat down to find expressions equal in power to my folly. 
The thought that I, who was a vulgar spy by profession, 
had committed a mistake worthy of a novelist's policeman, 
was gall and wormwood to mt. Yet I was sure that I 
had cut oil all hope of returning to the yard; and what 
information I was to get must come by other modes. The 
nature of these I knew not, but I was determined to set 
out upon a visit to Signor Vezzia, who was the builder to 
whom the docks wherein I worked belonged. To him I 
came as the pretended agent of a shipping firm in New 
York, with whom I had some littk acquaintance, and he 



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58 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

gave me audience readily. He was very willing to hear 
me when he learnt that I was in quest of a builder to 
lay down steamers for the American trade with Italy; 
and some while we passed in great cordiality, so ripe on 
his part that I ventured the other business. 

" *By-the-by, Signor Vezzia, that's a marvellous battle- 
ship you have in your second dock ; I have never seen any- 
thing like her before.* 

"I spoke the words, and read him as one reads a 
barometer. He shrank visibly into his bulb, and the tone 
of his conversation marked a storm. I heard him mutter 
'Diavolo!' under his breath, and then the mercury of his 
conversation mounted quickly. 

"'Yes, yes; a curious vessel, quite a special thing, for 
a South American Republic, an idea of theirs — but you 
will extend me the favour of your pardon, I am busy* — 
and in his excitement he put his spectacles off and on, and 
called 'Giovanni, Giovanni!' to his head clerk, who made 
business to be rid of me. Clearly, as a piece in the game 
I was playing, Signor Vezzia had made his solitary move. 
He was no more upon my board, miserably void as it was, 
and in despair I mounted to my hill-top again ; and spent 
the morning where the vines grew, looking down upon the 
golden ship which was built for *a South American Re- 
public' That tale I never believed, for the man's face 
marked it a lie as he gave it to me; but the mere telling 
of it added piquancy to the dish I had tasted of, and I 
resolved in that hour to devote myself heart and soul to 
the work of unravelling the slender threads, even if I lost 
my common employment in the business. The revierie 
held me long. I was roused from it by the sight of a dull 
vapour mounting from the funnel of the nameless ship. 
She was going to sail then — at the next tide she might 



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A STAGE OF THE PROBLEM. 59 

leave Spezia, and there would be no more hope. I threw 
a word at my dreaming, and hurried from the vines to 
my hotel in the town below. 

"Now you may form opinion that my prospects in this 
abstruse and perplexing chase were not at that time much 
to vaunt. My theories and my acts had led me into a 
mental cul-de-sac, 3, blind alley, where, in the lack of exit, 
I took hold of every straw that the wind of thought set 
flying. Here was the problem at this stage as it then ap- 
peared to me : — Item ( i ) : A ship built of some metal I 
had no knowledge of. Item (2) : A ship that shone like 
a rich sunset on a garden lake. Item (3) : A ship that 
was armed to the full, as a casual glance told me, with 
every kind of quick-firing guns, and with two ten-inch 
guns in her turret. Item (4) : A ruffianly blackguard, 
to whom the cutting of a throat seemed meat and drink, 
with ten other rogues no less deserving, from a murderous 
point of view, put to watch about the ship that no strange 
eye might look upon her. Item ( 5 ) : The confusion of 
Signor Vezzia, who made a fine tale and said at the same 
time with his eyes *This is a lie, and a bad one; Tm sorry 
that I have nothing better ready.' Item (6) : My own 
adamantine conviction that I stood near by some mystery, 
which was about to be a big mystery, and which would 
pay me to pursue. *A fine bundle of nonsense,' I hear you 
say; 'as silly a flight of a vaporous brain as ever man 
conceived' — but stay your words awhile; remember, that 
one who is bred up at the keyhole lets himself, if he be 
wise, be moved by his impulses and first opinions. He 
does not quit them until he knows them to be false. In- 
stinct told me to go on in this work, if I lost all other, 
if I starved, if I drowned, if I died at it. And to go 
on I meant 



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6o THE SHADOPF ON THE SEA. 

"This was my musing at the Albergo, and when it \\\:. 
over I laughed aloud at its quixotic folly. *Oh, poor 
fool/ I said, 'miserable, brain-blinded, groping fool, to 
talk of going on when the ship sails this night, this ver}* 
night; and unless you put agents on in every part of the 
globe, 'you will never hear of her again. What a fine 
piece of dreamer's wit is yours! what a bar-parlour yarn 
to tell rustics in Somerset! Get up, and mind your own 
business, go on with your common labour, and let the 
ship and her crew go to the devil if they like.' For the 
matter of that, this advice perforce I had to follow, for I 
did not possess one single clue at that moment; and al- 
though I racked my brain for one all the afternoon, and 
went often to the hill-top to see if the nameless ship yet 
lay in the dock, I could pick up no new thread, nor light 
upon any infinitesimal vein of material. The very want 
of a point d'appui irritated a brain already excited to a 
fine condition of unrest. Any hour the ship might sail; 
any hour something which would give me the name of her 
owner might come to me — but the hours went on and 
nothing came. I dined, and was no step advanced; I 
smoked cigars in three cafes, and was again at the begin- 
ning; I visited half-a-dozen folk I knew, and drew no 
word to help me. At last, mocking the whole mystery 
with a fine English phrase, I said, 'Let her go;' and I 
returned to the Albergo and to bed. I had hunted a 
marine covert for two days and had drawn blank. 

"I have said that I went to bed, but it was a poor folly 
of a process, you do not doubt. I lay down, indeed, and 
read Poe's tales, which I love, an hour or more; then I 
went over the whole business again, raised every point; 
made my brain aflame with speculation; put out the 
candle; lit it again; read more mystery; held out the 



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THE SURGING OF THE VOICE. 6i 

hand to sleep ; told sleep I did not want her. You who 
know me will know also how useless are such gamings of 
man with Nature. I could not have slept if a king's 
ransom went with the sleeping; and so I lay fretful, 
blameful, scolding myself, condoling with myself, vowing 
the whole problem a plague and a cheat. This idle wan- 
dering might have lasted until dawn, had it not been for 
ray neighbour in the room to my left, who began to talk 
with a low buzz as of a night-insect humming in a bed- 
curtain. The surging of the voice amused me; I lay 
quite still and listened to it. Now it rose loud — I gleaned 
a word, and was pleased ; now it fell — and I fretted ; but 
anon another voice was added to the first, and, if the one 
had pleased me, the second thrilled me. It was the voice 
of my friend who wished to stab me at the dock. 

"Two words spoken by this man brought me to my 
feet; two more to the thin wooden door which divided 
our rooms, as oft you find them divided in cafes through 
Italy. With feverish impatience, I knelt to pry through 
the keyhole ; and muttered a big oath when I saw that it 
was stuffed with paper, and that the sight of the two men 
was hidden from me. But I listened with an ear long 
trained to listening, and, although the men spoke so that 
few words reached me, I remained a whole hour upon my 
knees, amazed that the man should thus be sent by Provi- 
dence to my very hotel; excited with the new sensation 
cf a foot upon the trail. The ship had not sailed, then, 
for here was the ruffian, who watched her, wasting rest in 
the first hours to hold a parley; and if a parley, with 
whom? Why, with those who paid him for the work, I 
did not doubt. 

"At the end of an hour the voices ceased, but there was 
jtill a movement in the room. That was hushed too ; and 



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62 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

I judged that my neighbour had gone to bed. For myself, 
I had one of two courses before me: either to court sleep 
and wait luck with the sun, or to see there and then what 
was in the room, and by whom it was occupied. You ask, 
How was that possible? but you forget my scurvy trade 
again. In my bag were forbidden implements sufficient to 
stock Clerkenwell. I took from that a brace and bitt, and 
an oiled saw. In ten minutes I cut a hole in the partition 
and put my eye to it, waiting first to see if any man 
moved. For the moment my heart quaked as I thought 
that both the fellows had gone, but one look reassured 
me. A burly, black-bearded man sat in a reverie before 
a dressing-table, and I saw that there was spread upon the 
table a great heap of jewels which, at the lowest valua- 
tion, must have been worth a hundred thousand pounds. 
And beside the jewels was a big bull-dog revolver, close 
to the man*s hand. 

"The tension of the strange situation lasted for some 
minutes. I had no clear vision through my spy-hole, and 
knew not at the first watching whether the man I saw 
was asleep or awake. A finer inspection of him, made 
with a catlike poise as I knelt crouching at the door, 
showed me that he slept: had fallen to sleep with his 
fingers amongst the jewels — a great rough dog of a man 
clutching wealth in his dreaming. And he was, then, 
one of those connected with the golden ship in the har- 
bour — the strange ship manned by cut-throats, and built 
for a *South American Republic' Indeed did the mystery 
deepen, the problem become more profound, every mo- 
ment that I worked upon it. Who was this man? I 
asked, and why did he sit in an Italian hotel fingering 
jewels, and giving a meeting-place at midnight to a com- 
mon murderer from a dockyard? Were the jewels his 



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TO APE THE HOUSEBREAKER. 63 

own? Had he come by them honestly? Had he stolen 
them? Suggestions and queries poured upon me; I felt 
that, whatever it might be, I would know the truth ; and 
I resolved to dare beyond my custom, and to learn more 
of the bearded man and of his gems. 

"Watch me, then, as I knelt for a whole hour at the 
place of observation, and waited for the fellow to awake. 
It must have been well on towards morning when he 
stirred in his chair, and then sat bolt upright. I thought 
he looked to have some tremor of nervousness upon him; 
clutching hastily at the jewels to put them in a great 
leather case, which again he shut in a larger iron box, 
locking both, and placing the key under his pillow. After 
that he threw off his clothes with some impatience, and, 
leaving the lamp which burned upon his dressing-table, 
he dropped upon his bed. For myself, my plan was al- 
ready contrived; I had determined to go to great risk, 
and to enter the room — playing the common cheat game, 
yet more than the common cheat, for that was an enter- 
prise which needed all the fine caution and daring which 
long years of police work had taught me. I had not only 
to ape the housebreaker, but also to get the good cunning 
of a jewel robber — and yet I knew that the things I had 
seen warranted me, from my point of view, in doing what 
I did, and that desperate means alone were fit to cope with 
the situation. 

"Now the new work was quick. Being assured that 
my man slept, I put back with some cold glue, which was 
always in my tool chest, the piece I had cut from the door, 
and then picked the lock with one grip of my small pin* 
cers. My revolver I carried in the belt at my waist, for 
my hands were occupied with a soft cloth and a bottle of 
chloroform. I had big felt slippers upon my feet; and 



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64 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

went straight to his bed, where I let him breathe the drug 
for a few moments, and deepened his light sleep until it 
became heavy unconsciousness. In this state I did what I 
would with him, and, having no fear of his awaking, I 
got at his keys and his jewels, and saw what I wished. 
There, true enough, were precious stones of all values: 
Brazilian diamonds. Cape stones tinged with yellow, yet 
big and valuable, the finer class of Indian turquoise, pink 
pearls, black pearls — all these loosely wrapped in tissue 
paper; but a magnificent parcel such as you would see 
only in a West End house in London. I must confess, 
however, that these stones interested me but little, for as 
I delved amongst his treasures I brought up at last a neck- 
lace of opals and diamonds, the first set gems I had dis- 
covered; and as I held them to the lamp and examined 
the curious grouping of the stones, and the strange East- 
ern form of the clasp, I knew that I had seen the bundle 
before. The conviction was instantaneous, powerful, con- 
vincing; yet even with my aptitude for recalling names, 
places, and things, I could not in my mind place those 
jewels. None the less was I assured that the one solid 
clue I had yet taken hold of was in my keeping; and, as 
a quick glance round the chamber told me no more, I put 
up the baubles in their case again, replaced the key, and 
quitted the chamber. Do not think, however, that I had 
neglected to mark my man: every line of his face was 
written in my mental notebook, every peculiarity of head 
and countenance, the shape of his arms, above all, the 
mould of the hands, that wonderful index to recognition : 
and henceforth I knew that I could pick him from a 
hundred thousand. 

"When I had done with this business, I lay upon my 
bed, and brought the whole of my recollection back upon 



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THE HISTORY OF THE STONES. 65 

the jewels. Where had I seen them; in what circum- 
stances; in whose hands? Again and again I travelled 
old ground, exhumed buried cases, dwelt upon names of 
forgotten criminals, and of big world people. An hour's 
intense mental concentration told me nothing; the dark 
of the hour before dawn gave way to the cold breaking of 
morning light, and yet I tossed in an agony of blank and 
futile reasoning. I must have slept from the sheer bind- 
ing of the brain somewhere about that hour; and in my 
dreaming I got what wakefulness had denied to me. 
There in my sleep was the whole history of the stones 
written for me. I remembered the Liverpool landing- 
stage; the departure of the Star liner, City of St, Peters- 
burg, for New York; the arrest of the notorious jewel- 
thief, Carl Reichsmann; the discovery of the opal and 
diamond necklace upon him; the restoration of it to — to 
— the brain failed for a moment — then with a loud cry of 
delight, which roused me, I pronounced the words; to 
Lady Hardon, of 202A, Berkeley Square, London. 

"It is a ridiculous situation to sit up in bed asking 
yourself if your dream be reality, or your reality be a 
dream; but when I awoke with that name on my lips, 
the joy of the thing was so surpassing that I repeated the 
name again and again, muttering it as I got into my 
clothes, using it all the time I washed, and speaking it 
aloud when I stood before the glass to tie my cravat. 
Here, I suppose, the folly of the whole repetition dawned 
upon me, for, of a sudden, I shut my lips firm and close, 
and bethought me of the man in the next room. What 
of him? Was he still there? I listened. There was no 
sound, not so much as of a heavy sleeper. He had gone 
then, and had Lady Hardon's jewels — yet Lady Hardon, 



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66 ThM SHAbOfV O^ THE SEA. 

Lady Harden — nay, but you could never know the sud- 
den and awful emotion of that great awakening which 
came to me in that moment when my memory travelled 
quickly on to Lady Hardon*s end ; for I remembered then 
that she went down in the great steamer Alexandria, 
which was lost in the Bay of Biscay twelve months before 
I discovered the golden ship in the dockyard at Spezia; 
and I recalled the fact, known world-wide, that her 
famous jewels, this necklace amongst them, had gone 
with her to her end. Lost, I say; yet that was the ac- 
count at Lloyd's; lost with never a soul to give a word 
about her agony; lost hopelessly in the broad of the bay. 
How came it, then, that this man who knew the ruffians 
in the dockyard below; who seemed a common fellow, 
yet possessed a hundred thousand pounds' worth of jew- 
ellery, how came it that he had got that which the world 
thought to be lying on the sands of the bay? You say, 
*Pshaw, it was not the same bauble;' that is the obvious 
answer to my theorising, but in the recognition of historic 
gems a man trained as I was never makes an error. I 
would have staked my life that the jewels were those 
supposed to be under the sea; and, moved to a state of 
deep excitement, I left my hotel without breakfast, and 
mounted to the hill-top for tidings of the great vessel. 

"But she had sailed, and the dock which had held her 
was empty. 

"This discovery did not daunt me, for I had expected 
it. I should have been surprised if she had been at her 
berth; and the fact that she had weighed under cover 
of night fell in so well with my anticipation that I waited 
only to ascertain officially what ships had left Spezia 
during the past twenty-four hours. They told me at the 
Customs that the Brazilian war-vessel built by Signor 



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STEP BY STEP. 67 

Vczzia weighed at three a. m.; but more I could not 
learn, for these men had evidently been well bribed, and 
were as dumb as unfee'd lawyers. I knew that their in- 
formation was not worth a groat, and hurried back to 
the Albcrgo to assure myself that my neighbour with the 
necklace had sailed also. To my surprise, he was at 
breakfast when I arrived at the hotel; and so one great 
link in my theoretic chain snapped at the first test. As 
he had not sailed with the others, he could have no direct 
connection with the nameless ship, no nautical part or lot 
with her. But what was he, then? That I meant to 
know as soon as opportunity should serve. 



"^l have led you up, Strong, step by step, through the 
details of this work to this point, that you may have the 
facts unalloyed as I have them ; and may construct your 
history from this preamble as I have constructed mine. I 
am now about to move over the ground more quickly. I 
will quit Spezia, and ask you to come with me, after the 
interval of nigh a year — during which no man had known 
that which I now tell you — to London, where, in an hotel 
in Cecil Street, Strand, I was again the neighbour of the 
man with the jewels whom I had taken so daring an ad- 
vantage of in Italy. Let me tell you briefly what had 
happened in the betw^een-time. The day on which the 
nameless ship left the dock, this man — whom, I may say at 
once, I have always met under the name of Captain 
Black-— quitted the town and reached Paris. Thither I 
followed hlm^ staying one day in the French capital, but 
going onward with him on the following morning to 
Cherbourg. There he went aboard a small yacht, and I 
}p^X hiiii jn th? Channel. 1 returned ^t pncp to Jtaly^ and 



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68 TRE shadow on THE SEA. 

wired to friends in the police force at New York, at 
London, and San Francisco, and at three ports in South 
America for news (a) of a new war-ship lately completed 
at Spezia for the Brazilian republic; (b) of a man known 
as Captain Black, who left the port of Cherbourg in the 
cuttei yacht La France on the morning of October 30th. 
For nearly twelve months I waited for an answer to these 
questions; but none came to me. To the best of my 
knowledge, the nameless war-ship was never seen upon the 
hrgh seas. I began to ask myself, if she existed, how came 
it that a vessel, burnished to the beauty of gold, had been 
spoken of none, seen of none, reported in no harbour, 
mentioned in no despatch? Yet she remained known but 
to her crew and to me; and my study of shipping lists, 
gazettes, and papers in all tongues, never gave me clue 
to her. Only this, I had such a record of navigation as I 
think man never kept yet before; and I marked it as 
curious, if nothing more, that in the month when the 
cruiser quitted Spezia three ocean-going steamers, each 
carrying specie to the value of more than one hundred 
thousand pounds, went down in fair weather, and were 
paid for at Lloyd's. What folly! you say again; what 
are you going to conclude? I answer only — God grant 
that I conclude falsely — that this terrible thing I suspect 
is the phantom of a too-keen imagination. 

"Now, when no tidings came, either of the ship I 
sought or of the man Black, I did not lose all hope. In- 
deed, I was much occupied making — during a month's 
leisure in London — a list, as far as that were possible, of 
all the gems and baubles which the dead men and women 
on the sunken steamers had owned. This was a paltry 
record of bracelets, and rings, and tiaras, and clasps, such 
stuff as any fellow of a. jeweller may sell; unconvincing 



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THE JASPER BOX. 69 

stuflE, worth no more than a near relation for purposes 
of evidence. There was but one piece of the whole mass 
that did not come in my category — a great box with a 
fine painting by Jean Petitot upon its lid, and a curious 
circle of jasper all about the miniatures. This was a 
historic piece of bijouterie mentioned as having once been 
the property of Necker, the French financier; then lost 
by a New York dealer, who was taking it from Paris to 
Boston in the steamship Catalania; the ship supposed to 
have foundered, with the loss of all hands, off the banks 
of Newfoundland, sixteen days after the nameless ship 
left Spezia. I made a record of this trifle, and forgot it 
until, many months later, a private communication from 
the head of the New York Secret Service told me that the 
man I wanted was in London; that he was an American 
millionaire, who owned a house on the banks of the 
Hudson River; who had great influence in many cities, 
who came to Europe to buy precious stones and miniature 
paintings, a man who was considered eccentric by his 
friends. I kept the notes, and hurried to England — for 
I had been to Geneva some while — and took rooms in the 
hotel where Captain Black was staying. Three days 
after I was disguised as you have seen me, selling him 
miniatures. Within a week, by what steps I need not 
pause to say, I knew that the jasper box, lost, by report, 
in the steamer Catalania, was under lock and key in his 
bedroom. 

"I cannot tell you how that discovery agitated me. 
Here, indeed, was my second direct link. The man had in 
his possession an historic and unmistakable casket, which 
all the world believed to be lost in a steamer from which 
no soul had escaped. How I treasured that knowledge! 
Three months the m*n remained in London ; during three 



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70 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

months he was not thirty hours out of my sight or knowl- 
edge. Day by day when with him, I consulted such ship- 
ping information as I could get ; and scored another mark 
upon my record, when I made sure that no inexplicable 
story from the sea was written while he remained ashore. 
This was perplexing for a surety. I could not in any way 
connect the man with the nameless ship, and yet he knew 
her crew; he was the one in whose possession the jewels 
were; above all, while he was ashore, there were no dis- 
asters which could not be set down to ocean peril or the 
act of God, as the policies say. This further knowledge 
held me to him with the magnetic attraction of a mystery 
such as I have never known in my life. I resigned my 
work for the Government; and henceforth gave myself 
heart and soul to the pursuit of the man. I followed him 
to Paris, to St. Petersburg; I tracked him through 
France to Marseilles; I watched him embark, with three 
of the ruffians I had seen at Spezia, in his yacht again; 
and within a month the yacht was in harbour at Cowes 
without him; while a steamer, bound from the Cape to 
Cadiz, and known to have specie aboard her, went out 
of knowledge as the others had done. Then was I sure, 
sure of that awful dream I had dreamed, conscious that 
I alone shared with that man and his crew one of the 
most ghastly secrets that the deep has kept within her. 

"The end of my story I judge now that you anticipate. 
Though absolutely convinced myself, I had still lack of 
the one direct lint to make a legal chain. I had positively 
to connect the man Black with the nameless ship, for this 
I had only done so far by pure circumstance. For many 
months I have made no gain in this attempt. Last year 
in Liverpool I sketched in yet another point in my picture. 
J. recfivi^d tiding oj the man in that city, jmA thsttt I did 



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PROM THE V ALLEY OP fH£ DEAD, n 

trade with him in my old disguise; but he was not alone 
-^the crew of ruffians you have known by this time kept 
company with him in that bold and bestial Bohemianisn^ 
you will have witnessed with nie^ I kept vigil there a 
week, but lost him at the end oi that time^ When hfi 
reappeared in the circles of Givilisatiof^ it wa& in Paris!^,. 
but two days ago, when I asked you to accompany me. 
You know that I attempted to sail with him on his cruise, 
and your instinct tells you why. If I could, by being two 
days afloat in his company, prove beyond doubt that he 
used his yacht as a pretence: if I could prove that when 
he left port in her he sailed some miles out to sea, and 
was picked up by the nameless ship, my chain was forged, 
my book complete, and I had but to call the Government 
to the work! 

"But I have railed, and the labour I have set myself 
shall be done by others, but chiefly, Mark Strong, by you. 
From the valley of the dead whence soon I must look 
back, if it is to be on a life that has no achievement be- 
fore God in it, I, who have laid down such a life as mine 
was in this cause, urge you upon it. You have youth, 
and money sufficient for the enterprise; you will get 
money in its pursuit. You have no fear of the black 
After, which is the end of life; but, above all, it may 
come to you as it came to me, that there is the finger of 
the Almighty God pointing to your path of duty. I 
have lived the life of a common eavesdropper; but be- 
lieve me that in this work I have felt the call of hu- 
manity, and hoped, if I might live to accomplish it, that 
the Book of the Good should find some place for my name. 
So may you when my mantle falls upon you. What in- 
formation I have, you have. The names of my friends 



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72 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

in the cities mentioned I have written down for you; 
they will serve you for the memory of my name; but be 
assured at the outset that you will never take this man 
upon the sea. And as for the money which is rightly due 
to the one who rids humanity of this pest, I say, go to 
the Admiralty in London, and lay so much of your 
knowledge before them as shall prevent a robbery of your 
due; claim a fit reward from them and the steamship 
companies; and, as your beginning, go now to the Hud- 
son River — I meant to go within a month — and learn 
there more of the man you seek; or, if the time be ripe, 
lay hands there upon him. And may the spirit of a dead 
man breathe success upon you!" 

On the yacht ''Celsis/^ lying at Cowes, written in the 
month of August, for Mark Strong, 



When I had put down the papers, my eyes were tear- 
stained with the effort of reading, and the cabin lamp was 
nigh out. My interest in the writing had been so sus- 
tained that I had not seen the march of daylight, now 
streaming through the glass above, upon my bare cabin 
table. But I was burnt up almost with a fever; and the 
oppressive fumes from the stinking lamp seemed to choke 
me so, that I went above, and saw that we were at anchor 
in the Solent, and that the whole glory of a summer's 
dawn lit the sleeping waters. And all the yacht herself 
breathed sleep, for the others were below, and Dan alone 
paced the deck. 

The first knowledge that I had of the true effect of 
Martin Hall's narrative was the muttered exclamation of 
this old sailor — 



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"FOR LONDON TO-NIGHT/' 73 

"Ye hav*nt slept, sir/' said he; "ye*re just the colour 
of yon ensign!" 

"Quite true, Dan — it was close down there." 

"Gospel truth, without a hitch; but ye're precious bad, 
sir; I never seed a worse figger-*ed, excusin* the liberty, 
rd rest a bit, sir." 

"Good advice, Dan. I'll sleep here an hour, if you'll 
get my rug from below." 

I stretched myself on a deck-chair, and he covered my 
limbs almost with a woman's tenderness, so that I slept 
and dreamt again of Hall, of Captain Black, of the man 
"Four-Eyes," of a great holocaust on the sea. I was 
carried away by sleep to far cities and among other men, 
to great perils of the sea, to strange sights ; but over them 
all loomed the phantom of a golden ship, and from her 
decks great fires came. When I awoke, a doctor from 
Southsea was writing down the names of drugs upon 
paper; and Mary was busy with ice. They told me I 
had slept for thirty hours, and that they had feared brain- 
fever. But the sleep had saved me; and when Mary 
talked of the doctor's order that I was to lie resting a 
week, I laughed aloud. 

"You'd better prescribe that for Roderick," said I; 
"he'd rest a month, wouldn't you, old chap?" 

"I don't know about a month, old man, but you mustn't 
try the system too much." 

"Well, I'm going to try it now, anyway, for I start 
for London to-night!" 

"What!" they cried in one voice. 

"Exactly, and if Mary would not mind running on 
deck for a minute, I'll tell you why, Roderick." 

She went at the word, casting one pleading look with 
her eyes as she stood at the door, but I gave no sign, and 



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74 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

she closed it I had fixed upon a course, and as Roderick, 
dreamingly indifferent, prepared to talk about that which 
he called my "madness," I took Hall's manuscript, and 
read it to him. When I had finished, there was a strange 
light in his eyes. 

"Let's go at once," he said; and that was alL 



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75 
CHAPTER VI. 

I ENGAGE A SECOND MATE. 

We caught the first train to London; and were at the 
Hotel Columbia by Charing Cross in time for dinner. 
Mary had insisted on her right to accompany us, and, as 
we could find no valid reason why she should not, we 
brought her to the hotel with us. Then by way of calm- 
ing that trouble, excitement, and expectation which 
crowded on us both, we went to Covent Garden, where 
the autumn season of opera was then on, and listened to 
the glorious music of Orfeo and the Cavalleria. Nor did 
either of us speak again that night of Hall or of his death ; 
but I confess that the vision of it haunted my eyes, st^d- 
ing out upon all the scenes that were set, so that I saw 
it upon the canvas, and often before me the wind-worn 
struggle of a burning ship; while that awful "Ahoy!" of 
my own men yet rang in my ears. 

When I returned to the hotel I wrote two letters, the 
beginning of my task. One was to the Admiralty, the 
other to the office of the Black Anchor Line of American 
Steamships. I told Roderick what I had done, but he 
laughed at the idea ; so that I troubled him no more with 
it, awaiting its proof. On the next morning, in a few 
moments of privacy between us, he agreed to let me 
work alone for two days, and then to venture on sugges- 
tion himself. So it came to be that on the next day I 
found myself standing in a meagrely-furnished anteroom 
nt the Admiralty, and there waiting the pleasure of one 
of the clerksy who had been deputed to talk with me. He 



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76 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

was a fine fellow, I doubt not; had much merit of his 
faultless bow, and great worth in the nicety of his spot- 
less waistcoat, but God never made one so dull or so 
preposterous a blockhead. I see him now, rolling up the 
starved hairs which struggled for existence upon his chin, 
and letting his cuffs lie well upon his bony wrists as he 
asked me, with a floating drawl — 

"And what service can I do for you?" 

For me! What service could he do for me? I smiled 
at him, and did not disguise my contempt. 

"If there is any responsible person here,'' I said, with 
emphasis upon the word responsible, "I should be glad to 
impart to him some very curious, and, as it seems to me, 
very remarkable, information concerning a war-ship which 
has just left Spezia, and is supposed to be the property 
of the Brazilian Government." 

"It's very good of you, don't you know," he replied, 
as he bent down to arrange his ample trousers; "but I 
fancy we heard something about her last week, so we 
won't trouble you, don't you know;" and he felt to see 
if his bow were straight. 

"You may have heard something of the ship," I an- 
swered with warmth, "but that which I have to com- 
municate is not of descriptive, but of national, importance. 
You cannot by any means have learnt my story, for there 
is only one man living who knows it." 

He looked up at the clock a moment as though seeking 
inspiration, but his mind was quite vacant when he re- 
plied : 

. "It's awfully good of you, don't you know; we're so 
frightfully busy this month: if you could come in a 
month's time " 

"In a month's time," I said, rising with scorn, "in a 



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UTTEK AND CRUSHWO FAILURE. 77 

g^@ntb's time, if you afid yours don't stand cbndemned 
before Europe for a parcel of fools and incompetents, then 
ydu*ll send for paej but 111 sec you at blazes first — good- 
morning !" 

I was outside the office before his exclamation of sv^r- 
prisie had passed away; and within half-an-hour I sat in 
the private room of the secretary to the Black Anchor 
Steamship Company. He was a sharp man of business, 
lie^n-visaged as a ferret, and restless as a nervous horse 
leng reined in. I told him shortly that I had reason to 
doubt the truth of the statement that a war-ship recently 
built at Spesia was intended for the purpose set down to 
her; that I believed she was the property of an American 
adventurer whose motives I scarce tjared to res^lise; that 
I had proof, amounting to conviction, that this ipan pos- 
sessed jewels which were cofniponly accounted as lost \x\ 
his flrm's steamer Cqtal^ma; and that if his company 
would agree to bear the expense^ and to give me suitable 
recon^pense if J succeeded in supporting tny conjectures, 
I would undertake to bring him the whole history of the 
nameless ship within twelve months; and also to give 
him such knowledge as would enable him to lay hands m 
the man called "Captain Black," should this man prove 
the criminal I believed him to be. To all which talc he 
listened, his searching eye fixing its stare pliimp Mpon me, 
from time to time; but when I had done, he rang the 
bell for his clerk, and I could see that he felt himself in 
the company of a maniac. So I left him, and breathed the 
breath of liberty ctgain as I Went back to the hotel, and 
told Roderick of the utter and crushing failure waiting 
upon the very beginning 6f the task which Martin Hall 
had left to me. 



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78 fHE SHAbOfV ON THE SeA. 

Roderick was not at all surprised — it seemed to me 
rather that he was glad. 

^'What did I tell 5'ou?" he said, as he sat up on the 
couch, and took the tube of his hookah from his mouth; 
"who will believe such a tale as we are hawking in the 
market-place — selling, in fact, to the highest bidder? If a 
man came to you with the same account, and with no 
more authority to support him than the story of a dead 
detective — who may have lost his wits, or may never have 
had any to lose — would you put down a shilling to s^ee 
him through with the business? Pshaw! my dear old 
Mark, you, with your long head and that horribly critical 
eye of yours, you wouldn't give him a groat." 

"Exactly, I should consider him a dupe or a stark- 
staring madman ; but the case is different as it stands. I 
know — I would stake my life on it — that every word 
Martin Hall wrote is true, true as my life itself. I am 
not so sure that you are convinced, though." 

I awaited his answer, but it did not come for many 
minutes. He had passed through his momentary en- 
thusiasm and lay at full length upon the couch, making 
circles, parabolas, and ellipses of fine white smoke, while 
he fixed his gaze upon the frieze of the wall, as if he 
were counting the architraves. 

"Mark," he said at last, "when we were at Harrow 
together an aged sage impressed upon us the meaning of 
Seneca's line, 'Veritas odit moras/ I regard myself at the 
moment in a position of truth; but whether on calm re- 
flection I believe the whole of your dead friend's story, 
I'm hanged if I know, and therefore" — here he made a 
long pause and smoked violently — "and ^-herefore I have 
bought a steamer." 

"You have done what?" 



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A NEW "CELSISr 79 

"At two o'clock to-day, In your absence, I bought the 
steam-yacht Rocket, lately the property of Lord Wilmer, 
now the property of Roderick Stewart, of the Hotel Co- 
lumbia, London." 

I think I must have laughed sorrowfully at him, as a 
man laughs at a drawing-room humorist, for he continued 
quickly — 

"Before we go on board her, the yacht will be re- 
christened by Mary — who will stay with her dear maiden 
aunt in our absence — and will be named after your vessel 
Celsis, Her crew will consist of our silent friend, Cap- 
tain York, of his brother as chief mate, and of your men 
now at Portsmouth, with half-a-dozen more. We shall 
need eight firemen, whom the agents will engage, and 
three engineers, already found, for I have taken on Lord 
Wilmer*s men. Your cook, old *Cuss-a-lot,' will serve 
us very well during the fourteen or fifteen days we shall 
need to go across the Atlantic, and we want now only a 
second and third officer. As these men will be mixed 
up with us on the quarter-deck, I have told the agents 
to send them up to see you here — so you'll run your eye 
over them and tell me if they'll do. I hate seeing people ; 
they bore me, and I mean you to take charge of this 
enterprise from the very beginning — you quite under- 
stand?" 

"Roderick, my old friend, I'm as blank as a drawing- 
board — would you mind giving me that yarn from the 
beginning again — and tell me first, why are we going; 
then, where are we going; and after that, what has your 
steamer to do with the business of Martin Hall — and, 
well, and what we know?" 

Hp spoke quickly in answer, and seemed disappointed. 

"I hate palaver," he said, "and didn't think to find yoq 



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8o THE SHADOtV ON THE SEA. 

detis^, but you're gro^vihg silly at this business anyway. 
Now> look h^r#i until yoU read me that paper in your 
cabin, I ddh*t know that I ever felt anger against any 
man, but, before God, FU bring the man who murdered 
Martin Httll, and Heaven knows how many others, to 
justice of 111 nevct know another houf's test* You have 
been talking of Governments and ship-owners for twenty- 
four houl-s; but what have GoV($rnnients and ship-owners 
to do with us? Is it money you watlt? Well, what's 
mine is youfs; and I'm worth two hundred and fifty 
thousand pounds if I'm worth a shilling* Is it profit of 
a dead man's work you're after? Well theft, mark your 
man, learn all aboUi him, run him to his hole; and then, 
when other people besides yourself know his stoty, as it 
must be known in a few months* time, put y^ur price ort 
what is your own, and don't fear to recompense yourself. 
What I want you to see is this: — For some months, at 
any rate, we shall get no outside help in this matter from 
any living creature; what we're going to do must be done 
at our cost, which is my cost. And What we're going t& 
do isn't to be done at this hotel, or oft this couch, or in 
the City: it's going to be done oft the high seas, and 
after that in America on the Hudson River, where, if 
Hall be right, is the home of Captain Black* It is to the 
Hudson River that I mean to go now — at once, as soon 
as money and the devil's own number of men can get the 
steam-yacht Celsis ready for sea. And at my cost, don't 
forget that; though I'm a fool in the game, which is 
yours to make and yours to play, as it has beeft from the 
beginning, when the dead man chose ydu to finish it and to 
reckon with the scoundrels now afloat somewhere between 
here and the 6anks. In his name I ask you now to close 
your hand with me on this bargain, tp afek no qunstloh, to 



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/ MEET FRANCIS PAOLO. 8i 

make no protests, and to remember that we sail in three 
days, if possible, and i| not in three, then, in as small a 
number as will serve to get the steamer ready/' 

What could I say to a story such as this one ? I could 
only wring his hand, and feel how hot it was, knowing 
that the same haunting wish to be up and off in the pur- 
suit was about him as about me. For half-an-hour we sat 
and smoked together. In three-quarters I was closeted in 
the room below with Francis Paolo, who had come from 
the agents to s«ek the berth of second officer to the new 
yacht Celsb. When the servant gave me this man's name, 
I had some misgiving at its Italian sound, but I remem- 
bered that Italy is breeding a nation of sailors ; and I put 
off the prejudice, and hurried down to see him. I found 
him to be a sprightly, dark-faced, black-haired Italian, ap- 
parently no more than twenty-five years old; and he 
greeted me with much smoothness of speech. He had 
served three years as third officer to the big steam-yacht 
owned by the noted Frenchman, the Marquis de Clune- 
ville ; and, as he was unmistakably a gentleman, and his 
discharges were in perfect order, I engaged him there and 
then for the post of second officer to the Crisis, and gave 
him orders to Join her at Plymouth, where she lay, a9 sobn 
as might be. 

But had I known him then as I know him now, I would 
have paid a thousand pounds never to have seen him ! 



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82 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE BEGINNING OF THE GREAT PURSUIT. 

It was our last day in London. Roderick and I sat 
down to dinner in the hotel, the touch of depression upon 
us both. Mary had left us early in the morning to go to 
Salisbury, where her kinsfolk lived, and I confess that her 
readiness to quit us without protest somewhat hurt me. 
I imagine that I was thinking of it, for I blurted out at 
last, when we had been silent for at least a quarter of 
an hour — 

"I suppose she's arrived by this." 

"No, I didn't post her till three," Roderick replied in 
equal reflective mood. 

"Didn't post who?" I asked indignantly. 

"Why, old Belle, of course. I sent her down with the 
guard to get her out of the way." 

"Oh," I replied, "I was thinking of Mary, not of your 
dog." 

"You always are," he said; "but, between ourselves, 
I'm glad she went. I thought there'd be a fuss; and if 
it comes to a row, as it most probably will, girls are in 
the way. Don't you think so? But, of course you don't." 

I didn't, and made no bones of pretence about it. Mary 
was a child; there was no doubt about that; but as I 
girded up my courage for this undertaking, I thought how 
much those pretty eyes would have encouraged me, and 
how sweet that childish laugh would have been in mid- 
Atlantic. But there — that's no part of this story. 

We were going down to Plymouth by the nine o'clock 
mail from Paddington, and there was not a wealth of time 



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THE PORTER IS EMPHATIC. 83 

to spare. So soon as we had dined, I went up to my 
room to put the small things of need away, meaning to be 
no more than five minutes at the work ; but, to my amaze- 
ment, the whole of the place had been turned utterly in- 
side-out by one who had been there before me. My trunk 
lay upside-down; my writing case was unlocked and 
stripped, my diary was torn and rent, my clothes were 
scattered. I thought at first that a common cheat of a 
hotel tiiief had been busy snapping up trifles ; but I got a 
shock greater than any I had known since Martin Hall's 
death when I felt for his writing, which lay secure in its 
case, and found that, while the main narrative was intact, 
his letters to the police at New York, his plans, and his 
sketches had been taken. For the moment the discovery 
made me reel. I could not realise its import, and almost 
mechanically I rang for a servant, who sent the manager 
to me. 

His perplexity and dismay were no less than mine. 

"No one has any right to enter your rooms," he said, 
"and I will guarantee the honesty of my servants unhesi- 
tatingly. Let us ring and ask for the porter." 

The porter was emphatic. 

"No one has been here after you since yesterday, sir, 
when the Italian gentleman came," he pleaded. "To-day 
he sent a man for a parcel he left here, but I know of no 
one else who has even mentioned your name." 

"What is the amount of your loss?" asked the man- 
ager, as he began to assist me to make things straight, and 
the question gave me inspiration. I made a hurried search, 
and I must have shown feeling, for I was conscious of 
pallor of face and momentary giddiness. 

"You have lost something of great value, then," he 
continued,, as he watched* AnS I replied— 



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84 y//£ SHADOW ON 'PtJE SEA. 

''Yes, but to myMlf otAy. Nothihg has httti taken 
from the reeih but })a[iefs, which inay be worth ten thou- 
sand pounds to tne^ They are not worth a penny to any- 
one else," 

"Ohl pa[icfs ohly — that Is fortunate; It is, perhaps a 
ettsfe lor your owtl ptivdte detective.'* 

''Quite so; I shouldn't have troubled you had I made 
a s^areh before. I will see to it toyself — many thanks." 

He Withdrew with profuse apologies, but I remained 
standing, with ^11 the heart out of me^ What, in Heaven's 
naiAe, did it ttieati? Who had interest to ride my port- 
folio and take thii papers? Who could have interest? 
Who but the man I meaiit to hunt down? And what 
did he know of me — what? I asked, repeating the word 
over again, and so loudly that those in the neighbouring 
tooins mil^t have heard them. 

Was I watched from the very beginning? Had I to 
cope, at the Very outset, with a man worth a million, the 
captain of a baild of cut-throats, who stood at no devil's 
deed, ho foul Work, no crime, as Martin Hall's death 
clearly proved? My heart ached at the thought; I felt 
the sweat dropping off me; I stood Without thought of 
any itian,* the one word "watched" siiiglhg in my ears 
like the surging of a great sea. And I had forgotten Rod- * 
erick until he burst into tny room^ a great laugh on his 
lips, and a telegratti in his hand ; but he stood back as he 
saw tne, and went pale, as I must have been. 

"Great Scott I" he said; "what's the matter?— what 
are you doing? We leave in teti mitiilte&; why aren't you 
ready?" 

The excuse gurgled in my throat. 1 stammered out 
something, and began to pack as though pursued by 



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BY THE NIGHT MAIL. %% 

Fui-ies. Than I put him ofi by asking what his humour 
was about. Ht laughed again at the question — 

"What do you think?'* he said; *^ Mary's arrivid all 
right*" 

"Oh, that's good J I hope she'll like Salisbury," I ri- 
plied, bundling shtrts, collars, and coats into my truitk 
with indiscriminate vigour. 

"Yes, but you don't wait to hear the end/' ht con- 
tinued, with a great roar of laughter; "she isn't )»t Salis- 
bury at all ; she's at Plymouth, on board the Crisis. She 
went straight down there, and devil a bit as much as tent 
her aunt a telegram!" 

I rose up at his word, and looked him in the face. 

"Well," he said, "what do you think? — you d^n't 
seem pleased." 

"I'm not pleased," I said, going on with my pricking. 
"I don't think she ought to be there." 

"I know that; We've talked it all over, but when I 
think of it, I don't see Where the harm corner in; we 
can't meet mischief crossing the Atlantic, and wheft the 
danger does begin in New York, I'll sec she's well on th« 
lee-side of it." 

I did not answer him, for I knew that which he did net 
know. Perhaps he began to think that he did not do Well 
to treat the matter so lightly, for he was mute when we 
entered the cab, and he did not open his lips until we Wtrf 
seated ih the night mail for Plymouth. The compartntent 
we rode in was reserved for us as he had wished; and, 
truth to tell, we neither of us had much liking for talk 9$ 
the train rolled smoothly westward. We had #nter^d 
upon this undertaking, so vast, so shadowy, so moment^U^, 
With such hasfi, ahd movid by such powerful motiVtt^, that 



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86 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

I know not if some thought of sorrow did not then touch 
us both. Who could say if we should live to tell the tale, 
if our fate would not be the fate of Martin Hall, if we 
should ever so much as see the nameless ship, if chance 
would ever bring us face to face with Captain Black? 
And whither did we go? When should we set foot again 
in that England we loved? God alone could tell; and, 
with one great hope in a guiding and all-seeing Providence, 
I covered myself up in my rug, and slept until dawn came, 
and the fresh breezes from the Channel waves brought 
new strength and men*s hearts to us again. 

It was full day when we went on board the yacht, and 
I did not fail to cast a quick glance of admiration on her 
beautiful lines and perfect shape as I clambered up the 
ladder, at the top of which stood Captain York. 

"Welcome aboard," he said, giving us hearty hand- 
shakes; and without further inspection at that hour we 
followed him to the cabin, where steaming coffee brought 
the blood to our hands and feet, and put us in better mood. 

"So my sister's here,*' said Roderick, as he filled his 
cup for the third time. 

"Yes, last night, no orders," jerked the skipper with his 
usual brevity. 

"Ah, we must see to that — and the second officer " 

"Still ashore; he left a bit of writing; he'll be aboard 
midday !" 

He had the writing in his hand, and was about to 
crumple it, but I caught sight of it, and snatched it from 
him. It was in the same handwriting as the letter which 
Captain Black had sent to me at the Hotel Scribe in 
Paris. 

"What*§ the matter?^' w4 Rgdcrick, as he heard mc 



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THE MATTER OF THE HANDffRITlNG. 87 

exclaim ; but the skipper looked hard at me, and was much 
mystified. 

"Do you know anything of the man?" he asked very 
slowly, as he leant back in his cliair, but I had already seen 
the folly of my ejaculation, and I replied — 

"Nothing at all, although I have seen that handwriting 
before somewhere; I could tell you where, perhaps, if I 
thought." 

Roderick nodded his head meaningly, and deftly turned 
the subject. I yawned with a great yawn, and the episode 
passed as we both rose to go to our cabins. It is not well 
to greet the waking day with eyes that are half-closed in 
sleep; and, although the skipper seemed to desire some 
fuller knowledge as to the ends of our cruise and the 
course of it, we put him off, and left him to the coffee and 
the busy work of the final preparation. But Roderick 
followed me to my berth and had the matter of the hand- 
writing out. I told him at once of the robbery of some cf 
the papers, and ti.e coincidence of the letter which the 
second mate had left with the skipper. He was quick- 
witted enough to see the danger ; but he was quite reckless 
in the methods he proposed to meet it. 

"There's no two thoughts about this matter at all," he 
said; "we've evidently run right into a trap, but luckily 
there's time to get cut again — of course we shall sail with- 
out a second mate?" 

"That's one way out of the hole, no doubt ; but it's very 
serious to find that our very first move in the matter is 
known to others. Hall said well that his diamond-buyer 
could command and be obeyed in ten cities : and there isn't 
much question that we've got one of his men aboard this 
ship — but I don't know that we shouldn't keep him." 



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88 THE SHADOW ON THE SE4. 

'^Kecp him! What for?— to watch everything we d©, 
and hear everything we say, and arrange for the cyttii^g 0f 
owr thr^^ts when we land at New York? YouVe ^, fine 
ndti^n p| diplomacy, Mark!'' 

" Perhaps so ; but we won't quarrel about thjit. There's 
one thing you forgot in this little calculation of yours — dur 
nien are as true as steel ; this rogue couldn't turn on<i of 
them if he staked his life on it. Suppose he has come hgrc 
to use his eyes, and hang about keyholes; well, we know 
him, fortunately; and what can he learn unless he le^rn^ 
it from you or me? There's not another soul aboard 
know? anything. You will tell the skipper thsit we cross to 
Amfficfi f^r a pleasure trip; you will help me to keep so 
close an eye on Master Francis Paolo, second mate, that if 
he lose a hair of his head we shall know it. In that w^y it 
may turn out that we shall get from him the link which it 
Igst in the chain ; and when he would draw us, we shall 
pump him as dry as a sand-pit. At least, that's my way of 
thinking, and I don't think it's such a poor notion after 
all." 

"It's not poor at all — it never came to me like that. 
Of course, you're right; let's take the man aboard, but I 
wish w« epuld h^ve left Mary behind — don't you ?" 

Th?!it I did, but what could I tell him? It was bad 
enough to be hugging all those fears and thoughts of 
danger to my own heart, without setting him all a-ferment 
with apprehension and unrest ; so I laughed off his question 
gnd after a ^ix hours' sleep I went aft to the quarter- 
deck, to take stock of the yacht and get some better ac- 
quaintance with her. 

Shc( W9S a finely-built ship of some seven hundred tons ; 
and \v9iM schooner-rigged, so that she could either sail or 



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MARY EXPLAINS. 89 

steam. Her engines wers unusually Urge for so small a 
vessel, being triple-compound ; while the main saloon, alt, 
and the small library attached to it, showed in the luxuri- 
ous fitting that her late owner had been a man of fine taste. 
In the very centre of her, there was a deck-house for the 
chart-room, the skipper's and engineers' quarters, and for a 
couple of spare cabins; but generally the accommodation 
was belqWi there being three small cabins with two berths 
apiece each side the saloon, and room for the steward and 
bis men amidships. The fo'castle was large and airy, giv- 
ing ample berthing for the stokers and seam^ti ; while the 
whole ornament of the deck was bright-looking with bra$$, 
and smart rails, and pots of flowers, these last showing 
dearly that Mary had been at work. Indeed, I had scarce 
made my inspection of our new ship when she burst yp 
from below, and began her explanation, staiidiilg with 
flushed cheeks, while the wind played in her hail*, af)d her 
eyes danced with the merriment of it. 

"Come aboard," she said, mocking the seaman's "^</ 
xttwi,'' and I said — 

"That's evident; the question is, when are you going 
ashore again ?" 

"I don't know, but I guess I'll get ashore at N^w York 
l^ecause I mi»an to go to Niagara " 

"You think you'll go ashore at New York, not 'y^u 
guess,' Mary." 

"But I do guess, and I don't think, and I wish y9U 
wouldn't interrupt me with your perpetual gramiliar. 
What's the good of grammar? No one had a gobd time 
with grdmmal^ yet.'^ 

"That's not e5cactly the purpose of grammap*««-^" 

"No, lior of orthography, nor deportment f I karnt all 



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90 THE SHADOIV ON THE SEA. 

these at a guinea a quarter extra when I was at school, so 
you're just wasting your time, because I'm finished." 

"Finished?" 

"Yes, didn't Roderick tell you that I went to a finish- 
ing school ? You wouldn't finish me all over again, would 
you ?" 

"Not for anything — but the question is, why did you 
come aboard here, and why didn't you go to Salisbury? 
What is your old aunt thinking now?" 

She laughed saucily, throwing back her head so that her 
hair fell well about her shoulders ; and then she would have 
answered me, but I turned round, hearing a step, and there 
stood our new second mate, Francis Paolo. Our eyes met 
at once with a long, searching gaze, but he did not flinch. 
If he were a spy, he was no poor actor, and he stood his 
ground without the movement of a muscle. 

"Well?" I said. 

"Is Mr. Stewart awake yet, sir?" he said, asking for 
Roderick. 

"I don't know, but you may wake him if he isn't." 

"The skipper wants a word with him when he gets up," 
he continued; "we are all ready to leave anchor when he 
speaks." 

"That's all right: I'll give you the word, so you can 
weigh now; perhaps, Mary, you'll go and hammer at 
Roderick's door, or he'll sleep until breakfast time to- 
morrow." 

She ran at the word, and the new second mate turned 
to go, but first he followed the girl with his eyes, earnestly, 
a? though he looked upon some all-fascinating picture. 

1 watched him walk forward, and followed him, listr^- 
ing as he directed the men ; and a more seaman-like fellow 



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''HJNDS HEAVE ANCHORP' 91 

I have never seen. If he were an Italian, he had left all 
accent of speech in his own country, and he gave his orders 
smartly and in a tone which demanded obedience. About 
his seamanship I never had a doubt from the first; and I 
say this now, a more capable officer than Francis Paolo 
never took a watch. 

Yet he was a man of violent temper, soon displayed 
before me. 

As I watched him from the hurricane deck, I heard a 
collier who had not yet left the ship give him some im- 
pudence, and look jauntily to the men for approval; but 
the smile was not off his cheeks when the new mate hit 
him such a terrific blow on the head with a spy-glass he 
held that the fellow reeled through the open bulwarks 
right into his barge, which lay alongside. 

"That's to set your face straight," cried the mate after 
him; "next time you laugh aboard here 1*11 balance you 
on the other side." 

The men were hushed before a display of temper like 
this; the skipper on the bridge flushed red with dis- 
approval, but said nothing. 

The order "Hands heave anchor!" was sung out a 
moment after, and as Roderick joined me aft, the new 
Celsis steamed away from Plymouth and the episode was 
forgotten. 

For truly, as we lost sight of the town and the beautiful 
yacht moved slowly out upon the broader bosom of the 
Channel, thoughts of great moment held us; and I, for 
my part, fell to wondering if I should ever see the face of 
my country again. 

And in that hour the great pursuit began. 



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92 

CHAPTER Vin. 

I DllEAM OF ^AOLd. 

Wl ha4 left the Scilly Light two days; the Qefsis steamed 
steadily on the great broad of the Atlantic. Njght had 
lillea, |nd Mary had gone below, leaving me with Rod- 
erick upen the aft-deck, watching the veriest rim of a 
tf^Mn which gave no pretence of a picture, no ornament 
t0 the dsirk. 

It was Paolo's watch ; and the skipper had turned in, s^ 
that) sjive for the Occasional striking of a bell 6x call ffdm 
the look-out, no sound but the whirring of the screw and 
the surge of the swell fell upon the ear. A night for 
4rtan)y thoughts of home, of kinsfolk, of the n^ere tender 
things of life ; but for us a night for the talk of thgt great 
"iflight be" which was then so powerful a source of specu- 
Ution f6r both of us. And we were eager to talk, eapr 
then as ever since the beginning of it all j eager, above all 
thini^ of the moment, to know when we should next 
htar of Captain Black or of the nameless ship. 

^*I shouldn't wonder," said Roderick after twenty sur- 
mises of the sort, "if we heard something of her as we 
cress. I have given York orders to keep well in the tr^k 
9I stemncrs; and if your friend Hall be right, that is JMst 
whcr^ the unknown ship will keep. I would give a thpu- 
9Mi4 p0Mnds to know the story of the man Black. What 
can he be? Is he mad? Is it possible that a man ^ould 
commit piracy, to-dayi in the Atl^tic, where js thp tf^c 
of the world ; where, if the Powers once learnt of It, they 



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TIME ALONE WILL TELL. 93 

could hunt him down in a day? And yet, put into pUin 
English, that is the tale your friend tells." 

"It is; I have never doubted that from the first. Ctp- 
tairt Black is either the mdst original villain living, or the 
whole story is a silly dream — besides, we have yet to learn 
if he is tht commander of the nameless ship : we hs^v^ also 
to l^arn if the nameless ship is hot a myth. Time alone 
will tell, and our wits/' 

"If they arc not kndcked out of us in the attempt, for, 
see you, Mark, a man with a hole in his head is a precious 
poor person, and, of course, you are prepared either way, 
success or the other thing." 

"For either; but I trust one of us may cotne out of it, 
f6r Mary's sake." 

The thought made him very silent, and presently he 
turned in. I remained above for half an hour, gazing over 
the great sweep of the Atlantic. Paolo was on the bridge, 
as I have said, and, in accordance With my design, I took 
all opportunity of watching hin). That night some inex- 
plicable impulse held me aWake when all others slept. I 
made pretence, first of all, to go to my cabin ; and bawled a 
good night to the mate as I went; but it was only to put 
on felt slippers and to get a warm coat, and, with these 
secured, I made rty way stealthily amidships ; and took a 
stand aft of the skipper's cabin, where I could pry, yet not 
be seen. Not that I got much for my pains; but I heard 
Paolo address several bf the men forward, and it seemed to 
me that his mode of speech was hot quite that which shbuld 
be between officer and seaman. Perchance he was guilty 
of nothing more than common affability ; but yet I would 
rather have had him gruff and hieddlesome than free syid 
intimnte. 



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94 THE SHJDOfV ON THE SEA. 

It chanced that in this watch the new men were on 
deck, my old crew being in the port watch, or I would 
have questioned them there and then. As it was, I let the 
matter go, and smoked; and, indeed, when another bell 
had struck, I was more than rewarded for my pains. 
Suddenly, on the far horizon over the starboard bow, I saw 
the flare of a blue light, bright over the water ; and show- 
ing as it flared, the dark hull of a great ship. The light 
was unmistakably, I thought, the signal of an ocean-going 
steamer which had sighted another of her company still 
farther away from us; but I had no more than time to 
come to this conclusion when, to my profound amazement, 
Paolo himself struck light to a flare which he had with him 
on the bridge, and answered the signal, our own light 
showing far out, and lighting the great moving sea on 
which we rode so that one could count every crest about 
us. 

This action completely staggered me. Without a 
thought I rushed up the ladder to the hurricane deck and 
stood beside him. He started as he saw me, and I could 
see him biting his lips, while an ugly look came into his 
eyes. But I charged him at once. 

"Good evening. Mister Mate," I said; "will you kindly 
tell me why you burnt that blue light?" 

His excuse came readily. 

"I burnt it to answer the signal yonder." 

"But that was no affair of ours!" 

He shrugged his shoulders, and muttered something 
about custom and something else, which he meant to be 
impudent. Yet in another moment he made effort to recall 
himself, and met me with an open, smiling face which 
covered anger. I began to upbraid myself for the folly of 
It, bursting out thus when there was no call for show; 



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A GAME OF EAVESDROPPING. 95 

and I turned the talk to other things, searching to learn 
about him and his past; yet it was without reward, for 
he fenced in speech with all the point of a close Scots- 
man. But we came down from the bridge together when 
the new watch was set ; and he took a glass of wine with 
me in the saloon. 

It was all well acted, a fine pretence of common civility, 
yet I believe that we two then took acquaintance of each 
other in the fullest measure ; and he learnt, though he did 
not show it, that in the game of eavesdropping there may 
be Xy;o that play. 

When I turned in at last, the little wind there was had 
fallen away, so that the yacht was almost without motion ; 
save, indeed, that long roll from which an ocean-going 
ship is rarely free. I had the electric light in my cabin 
with a tap on the edge of my bunk, mighty convenient for 
reading and waking; but I was full of sleep in spite of 
what had been above, and I turned out the lamp directly 
I fell upon my bed. 

I think I must have slept very heavily for an hour, 
when a great sense of unrest and waking weariness took 
me, and I lay, now dozing, now dreaming, so that in all 
my dreams I saw the face of Paolo. I seemed to walk 
the decks of the Celsts, yet was Paolo there more strong 
and masterful than I; again I went to the stoke-hole, 
and he was charging the men with much authority; I 
hurried thence to the saloon, and in my silly dream I 
thought to see Captain Black upon the one hand and 
Paolo on the other, and a great friendship of manner and 
discourse between them. 

Again I slept the black sleep; but it passed into other 
visions, so that in one of them I seemed to be lying awake 



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q6 the SHADOIV on THE SEA. 

in my own cabin, and the man Paolo stood over me, look- 
ing straight into my eyes ; and when I would have risen up 
to question him I was powerless, held still in every limb, 
living, yet without life or speech — a horrid dream from 
which I seemed to rouse myself only at the touch of some- 
thing cold upon my outstretched hand ; and then at last I 
gpened my eyes and saw, during the veriest reality of time 
that others looked down into mine. I saw them for some 
small pgrt of a second, yet in the faint light that came 
from the pprt I recognised the face and the form, and was 
certain of them ; for the man who had been watching me as 
I slept was Paolo. 

A quick sense of danger waked me thoroughly then. I 
put my hand to the tap of the electric light and the white 
rays flooded the cabin. But the cabin was empty and 
Roderick's dog sat by my trunk, and had, I could see, been 
licking my hand as I lay. 

I knew not how to make out the meaning of it; but I 
was trembling from the horror of the dream, and went 
l^bove in my (lannels. It was dawn then; and day was 
coming up out of the sea, cold and bearing mists, which 
lay low over the long restful waves. Dan was aft on 
the quarter-deck, and the first officer was on the bridge; 
but I looked into Paolo's bunk, and he slept there, in so 
heavy a sleep that I began to doubt altogether the 
truth of what I had believed. How could this man 
have left my cabin as he had done, and yet now be berthed 
in hii own? The dream had cheated me, as dreams 
often do. 

But more sleep was not to be thought of. I fell to talk 
with Dan, and paced the deck with him, asking what was 
his opifiiop of our new second mate. 



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DAN IS DEU BERATE. . 97 

Ht scrttched his head before he answered, and ld6ked 
wise as he loved to look — 

"Lord, sir, it's not for me to be spbutin' about them as 
is above me; but you ask me a fair question, and 111 t^^e 
you a fair answer. In course, I ain't the party td be 
thinking ill of any man — not Dan, which is plain ihd 
English, though some as is scholars say it should be 
Dan'el ; but what I do know, I know — ^you Woh't be coft- 
tradictin* that, will you?" 

I told him to get on with it; but h^ was woefully 
deliberate, cutting tobacco tb chew, and hitching himself 
up before he was under weigh again. 

"Now," he said at libt, "th^ fact about our second is 
this, in my opinion — which ain't mine, but th^ whole of 
*cm — he's no mdre'n A ship with a voice under the forfc- 
hatch " 

I laughed at him as I asked, "And what's the matter 
with a ship like that? Why shouldn't there be a voice 
under the fore-hatch, Dan ?" 

He lit his pipe behind the aft skylight, and then an- 
swered, as he puffed clouds of smoke to the lee-side — 

"Well, you see, sir, as there ain't nobody ^-livin' in 
that perticler pkce, you ddn't go for to look to hearin' of 
voices, or, in plain lingo, there's something queer abotit 
it." 

"And that's ybur dpihion, Dah?" 

"As true as this fog's a-liftin' to windward." 

I looked as he jerked his thumb to port, and, sure 
enough, the curtain of the fog was drawn up from the sea 
as the wind's wand scattered it. Glorious and joy-giving 
the sun arose, and the whole horizon-bound expanse of 
rolling, green water lay beneath us. There is something of 
God in every daybreak, as most men admit, but I know 



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98 THE SHADOIV ON THE SEA. 

nothing against the glory of a morn upon the Atlantic for 
bringing home to a man the delight in mere existence. The 
very sense of strength which the breeze bears, the limitless 
deep green of tlie unmeasured seas, the great arch of the 
zenith, the clear view of the sun's march, the purity and the 
stillness and the mastery of it ail, the con3ciou3ncss of the 
puny power of man, the mind message recalling the sub- 
limity and the awe of the unseen Power beyond — all these 
things impress you, move in you the deepest thoughts, turn 
you from the little estimates of self as Nature only can in 
the holiest of her moods, which are sought yet never found 
in the cities. Nor can I ever welcome the breath of the 
great sea's vigour, and refuse to listen to her voice, which 
comes with so powerful a message, even as a message from 
the great Unknown, whose hand controls, and whose 
spirit is on, the waters. 

The sound of a gun-shot to leeward awoke me from 
my thoughts. The fog was yet lying there upon the sea, 
and for some while none of us, expectant as we were, 
could discern aught. But, fearing that some vessel lay in 
distress, we put the helm up and went half-speed for a 
time. We had cruised thus for five minutes or more when 
a terrific report burst upon our ears, and this time to the 
alarm of every man who trod deck. For this second re- 
port was not that of a small gun such as crippled ships 
may use, but the thunderous echoing of a great weapon 
which a man-of-war only could carry. 

The sound died away slowly; but in the same minute 
the fog lifted; and I saw, away a mile on the starboard 
bow, a spectacle which brought a great flush upon my face, 
and let me hear the sound of my own heart beating. 



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99 
CHAPTER IX. 

I FALL IN WITH THE NAMELESS SHIP. 

There were two great ships abreast of each other, and 
they were steaming with so great a pressure of steam that 
the dark green water was cleaved into two huge waves of 
foam before their bows ; and the spray ran right ov6r their 
fo'castles and fell in tons upon their decks. 

The more distant of the two ships was long in shape 
and dark in colour; she had four masts upon which top- 
sails and staysails were set, and two funnels painted white, 
but marked with the anchor which clearly set her down 
to be one of the famous Black Anchor fleet. My powerful 
spyglass gave me a full view of her decks, which I saw 
to be dark with the figures of passengers and crew all 
crowding to the port side, wherefrom the other ship was 
approaching her. 

Yet was it this other ship which drew our gaze rather 
than the great steamer which seemed to be pursued. Al- 
most of the same length as the passenger steamer, which 
she now approached obliquely, she rode the long swell 
with perfect grace, and many of her deck-houses and part 
of her prow shone with the brightness of pure gold. Full 
the sun fell upon her in a sheen of shimmering splendour, 
throwing great reflected lights which dazzled the eye so 
that it could scarce hold any contmued gaze upon her. 
And indeed, every ornament on her stemed to be made of 
the precious metal, now glowing to exceeding brilliance 
in the full power of the sunlight. 

She wa§ a very big ship, as 1 have said, and she had all 



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loo THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

the shape of a ship of war, while the turrets fore and aft 
of her capacious funnel showed the muzzles of two big 
guns. I could see by my glass ^ whole wealth of arma- 
ment in the foretop of her short mast forward ; and high 
points in her fo'cftstle marked the spot wherf m»ny other 
machine guns were ready for action. At her towering 
and lofty prow there was indicated clearly the curve of the 
ram which now ploughed the dark water and curdled it 
into the fountains of foam which fell upon her decks; 
while amidships, the outline of a conning tower shqwed 
more clearly for what aggressive purpose she had been de« 
signed. There was at this spot, too, a great deck erection, 
with a gallery and a bridge for navigation ; but no men 
showed upon the platform, and, for the matter of that, no 
S9ul trod her decks, so far as our observation went. Yet 
her speed was such as I do not believe any ship achieved 
before. I have spent many years upon the sea; have 
crossed the Atlantic in some of the most speedy of thost 
cruisers which are the just pride of a later-day shipbuild- 
ing art ; I have raced in torpedo-boats over known miles | 
but of this I have no measure of doubt, that the speed 
of which that extraordinary vessel then proved herself 
capable was such as no other that ever swam could for 
one moment cope with. Now rising majestically on the 
long roll of the swell, now falling into the concave pf the 
sea, she rushed onward towards the steamer she was evi- 
dently pursuing as though driven by all the furies of the 
deep. 

As we watched her, held rooted to our places as men 
whp are looking upon some strange and uncanny picture, 
the gun in her foremost turret belched out flame and 
smoke, and we observed the rise and fall of a shell, which 



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UNDER THE CHILIAN FLAG. loi 

cut the water a cablets length ahead of the straining 
steamer and sank hissing beneath the sea. At that mo- 
ment she ran up a flag upon her signal mast, and, as I 
read it with my glass, I s^w that it was the flag of the 
Chilian Republic. 

Now, indeed the pursuit became so engrossing that my 
own men began to sing out, and this reminded me that 
every soul aboard the Celsis had watched with me when 
I first set eyes on the nameless ship. I turned to our 
skipper, who stood near on the hurricane deck, and saw 
that he in turn was looking hard at me. Roderick had 
come up from his cabin, but rested at the top of the com- 
panion ladder in so dazed a mood that no speech came 
from him. The first officer had scarce his wits about him 
to steer our own course, and the whole of the hands for- 
ward in a little group upon the fo*castle now called out 
their views, then turned to ask what it meant. 

It was a matter of satisfaction to me that Mary still 
slept, ^nd I looked for the appearance of Paolo with some 
question. But he remained below through it all. And at 
that I wondered more. 

The skipper was the first to speak. 

,*'That ship yonder," said he, jerking his thumb to star- 
board; "is it any business of ours?" 

"Npne that I know of," I replied; "but it*s a mighty 
fine sight, skipper, don't you think, a Chilian war-ship 
running after a liner in broad daylight? What's your 
opinion ?" 

He shrugged his shoulders disdainfully, and took an- 
other sight through his glass. Then he answered me — 

"It's a fine sight enough, God knows, but I would give 
half I'm worth to be a hundred miles away from it;" and 



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I02 THE SHADOIV ON THE SEA. 

here he suddenly wheeled about, and, facing me roughly, 
he asked — 

"Do you want me to get this boat into port again?" 

"Of course. Is there any great need to answer a ques- 
tion like that?" 

"At the moment, yes; for, with your pleasure, Fm 
going to put up the helm and sheer oflE. Vm not a man 
that loves fighting myself, and, with a ship and crew to 
look after, IVe no business in any affair of that sort; but 
it's for you to say." 

Before I could answer him, Roderick moved from his 
place, and came up on the bridge where we stood. 

"Hold on a bit, skipper," he cried, "as we are, if you 
please; why, man, it's a sight I wouldn't miss for a for- 
tune/' 

The skipper searched hiin with his eyes with a keen, 
lasting gaze, that implied his doubt of the pair of us. His 
voice had a fine ring of sarcasm in it when he replied after 
the silence; but all he said was, "It's your affair," and 
then he turned to the first officer. 

"Don't you think he was right?" I asked Roderick in 
a low voice, when the chief's back was turned, but he 
whispered again — 

"Not yet — we must see more of it; and they're too 
much occupied to hunt after us. We'll be away long 
before those two have settled accounts; and, look now, I 
can see a man on the bridge of the yellow ship. Do you 
mark him?" 

I had my glass to my eye in a moment, and the light 
was so full upon the vessel, which must then have been a 
mile and a half away from us, that I could prove his 
words; for sure enough, there was now someone moving!; 
upon the bridge, and, as I fixed my powerful lens, I 



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A TERRIBLE FOlVER. 103 

thought that I could recognise the shape of a man; but 
I would not speak my mind to Roderick until I had a 
nearer view. 

"You are right," I answered; "but what sort of a man 
I will tell you presently. Did you ever see anything like 
the pace that big ship is showing ? She must be moving at 
twenty-five knots." 

"Yes, it's amazing; and, what's more, there isn't a show 
of smoke at her funnel." 

This was true, but I had not noticed it. Throughout 
the strange scene we saw, this vessel of mystery never gave 
one sign that men worked at her furnaces below. Neither 
steam nor smoke came from her, no evidence, even the 
most trifling, of that terrible power which was then driv- 
ing her through the seas at such a fearful speed. 

But of the activity of her human crew we had speedily 
further sign; for, almost as I answered, there was some 
belching of flame from her turret, and this time the shell, 
hurtling through the air with that hissing song which 
every gunner knows so well, crashed full upon the fore- 
part of the great liner, and we heard the shout of terror 
which rose from those upon her decks. Then men ap- 
peared at the signal-mast of the pursuer, and rapidly made 
signals in the common code. 

"Skipper, do you sec that? — they're signalling," I cried 
out. "Get your glass up, and take a sight;" but he had 
already done so. 

"It's the signal to lie to, and wait a boat," he said; 
"there's someone going aboard." 

The fulfilment of the reading was instant. While yet 
we had not realised that the onward rush of the two boats 
^^ as stayed the foam fell away from their bows ; and they 



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104 ^W£ SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

r6dc the seas supetbly, sitting the long swells with a beau- 
tiful ease. But there was activity on the deck of the name- 
less ship, and men were at the davits on the starboard side 
svunging off a launch, which dropped presently into the 
sea with a ctew of some half-a-dozen men. For ourselves, 
We were now quite close up to them, but so busily were 
they occupied that I believed we had escaped all notice. 
Yet I got my glass full upon the man who walked the 
bridge; and I knew him. 

He was the mart I had met in the Rue Joubert at 
Paris, the one styled Captain Black by my friend Hall. 

iThe last link in the long chain was welded theri. The 
whole truth of that wxird document, so fantastical, so 
seemingly wild, so fearful, was made manifest; the dead 
man's words were vindicated, his every deduction was 
unanswerable. There on the great Atlantic Waste, I had 
lived to see one of those terrible pictures which he had con- 
ceived in the midst of his lohg dreaming; and through 
all the excitement, above all the noise, I thought that I 
heard his voice and the grim "Ahoys!" of rtiy oWn sea- 
men on the night he had died. 

This strange recognition was unknown tb Roderick, 
who had never seen Captain Black, nor had ahy nbtiott of 
his appearance. But he waited for some remark ftom me ; 
yet, fearing to be heard, I only looked at him and in that 
look he read all. 

"Mark," he said, "it*s time to go; we'll be the next 
when that ship's at the bottom." 

"My God!" I answered, "he catt't do such a thing as 
that. If I thought so, I would stand by here at the risk 
of a thousand lives " 

"That's wild talk. What can we do? He would 



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THE BLACK STEAMER. 105 

shiver us up with one of his machine-guns — and, besides, 
we have Mary on board." 

Indeed, she stood by us as we spoke, very pale and 
quiet, looking where the two ships lay motionless, the boat 
from the one now at the very side of the black steamer, 
whose name, the Ocean King, we could plainly read. She 
had, unnoticed by us, seen the work of the last shell, which 
splintered the groaning vessel, and made her reel upon the 
water; and her instinct told her that we stood where 
danger was. 

"Don't you think you're better below, Mary?" asked 
Roderick; but she had her old answer— 

"Not until you go; and why should I make any dif- 
ference ? I overheard what you said. Am I to stand be- 
tween you and those men's lives?" 

She clung to my arm as she spoke, and her boldness 
gave us new courage. 

"I am for standing by to the end," said I; "if we save 
one soul, it's an English work to do, anyway." 

Roderick looked at Mary, then he turned to the 
skipper — 

"Do you wish to go on the other tack now?" he asked; 
but the skipper was himself again. 

"Gentlemen," he said, "it's your yacht, and these are 
your men ; if you care to keep them afloat, keep them. If 
it's your fancy to do the other thing, why, do it. It's a 
matter of indifference to me." 

His words were heard by all the hands, and from that 
time there was something of a clamour amongst thenj; 
but I stepped forward to have out what was in my i?)ind, 
and they heard me quietly. 

"Men," I said, "there's ugly work over there, work 



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io6 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

which I can make nothing of; but it's clear that an Eng- 
lish ship is running from a foreigner, and may want help. 
Shall we leave her, or shall we stand by?" 

They gave a great shout at this, and the skipper touched 
the bell, which stopped our engines. We lay then quite 
near both to the pursued and the pursuer, and there was 
no longer any doubt that we had been seen. 

Glasses were turned upon us from the decks of the 
yellow ship, and from the poop of the Ocean King, whose 
men were still busy with the signal flags, and this time, as 
we made out, in a direct request to us that we should 
stand by. 

I doubt not that the excitement and the danger of the 
position alone nerved us to this work of amazing fool- 
hardiness, which was so like to have ended in our complete 
undoing; and, as I watched the captain of the steamer 
parleying with the men in the launch below him, 1 could 
not but ask — What next? when will our turn be? 

But the scene was destined to end in a way altogether 
different from what we had anticipated. 

While a tall man with fair hair — my glass gave me the 
impression that he was the fellow known as "Roaring 
John" — stood in the bows of the launch, and appeared to 
be gesticulating wildly to the skipper of the Ocean King, 
the nameless ship set up of a sudden a great shrieking with 
her deck whistle, which she blew three times with terrific 
power ; and at the third sound of it the launch, which had 
been holding to the side of the steamer, let go, running 
rapidly back to the armed vessel, where it was taken 
aboard again. 

The whole thing was done in so short a space of time 
that our men scarce had opportunity to express surprise 
when the launch was hanging at the davits again. The 



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A^N OTHER CRUISER. 107 

great activity that we had observed on the decks of the 
war-vessel ceased as mysteriously as it had begun. Again 
there was no sign of living being about her; but she 
moved at once, and bounded past us at a speed the like to 
which I had never seen upon the deep. 

So remarkable a face-about seemed to dumbfound our 
men. They stood staring at each other like those amazed, 
and seeking explanation. But the key to the riddle was 
given, not by one of them, but by Paolo, whom I now 
found at my elbow, his usually placid face all aglow with 
excitement. 

"Ha!" he cried, "she's American!" 

He made a wild point at the far horizon over our stern ; 
and then I saw what troubled him. There was a great 
white steamer coming up at a high speed, and I knew the 
form of her at once, and of two others that followed her. 
She was one of the American navy, crossing to her own 
country from Europe, whither she had been to watch the 
British manoeuvres. The secret of the flight was no longer 
inexplicable: the yellow ship had fled from the trap into 
which she was so nearly falling. 

"You have sharp eyes, Paolo," said I; "I imagine it's 
lucky for the pair of us." 

He shrugged his shoulders angrily, and then said very 
meaningly — 

"Perhaps." 

I had no time to reckon with him, for I was as much 
absorbed as he was in the scene which followed. The 
nameless ship, of a sudden, ceased her flight, and came al- 
most to a stand some half-a-mile away on our port-bow. 
For a moment her purpose was hidden, yet only for a mo- 
ment. As she swung round to head the seas, I saw at once 
that another cruiser, long and white, and seemingly well- 



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io8 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

armed had come up upon that side, and now barred her 
passage. At last, she was to cope with one worthy of her, 
and at the promise of battle, a hush, awful in its intensity, 
fell upon all of us. 

For some minutes the two vessels lay, the one broadside 
to the other, the American making signals which were 
unanswered; but the nameless ship had now hundreds of 
men about her decks, and these were at the machine-guns 
and elsewhete active in preparation. It became plain that 
her captain had made up his mind to some plan, for the 
great hull swung round slowly, and passed at a moderate- 
speed past the bow of the other. When she was nearly 
clear, her two great guns were fired almost simultaneously, 
and, as the shells swept along the deck of the cruiser, they 
carried men and masts and deck-houses with them, in one 
devilish confusion of wreckage and of death. To such an 
onslaught there was no answer. The cruiser was utterly 
unprepared for the treachery, and lay reeling on the sea ; 
screams and fearful cries coming from her decks, now 
quivering under a torrent of fire as her opponent treated 
her to the hail of her machine-guns. 

The battle could have ended but in one way, had not 
the other American war-ships now come so close to us that 
they opened fire with their great guns. The huge shells 
hissed over our heads, and all about us, plunging into the 
sea with such mighty concussions that fountains of green 
water arose in twenty places, and the near surface of the 
Atlantic became turbulent with foam. Such a powerful 
onslaught could have been resisted by no single vessel, and, 
seeing that he was like to be surrounded, the captain of the 
nameless ship, which had already been struck three tifnes 
in her armour, fired twice from his turrets, and then 



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''NOTHING LESS THAN PIRACY.'' 109 

l)9S^4c4 off at lh#t prodigious speed he had shown in the be- 
ginning of his flight. In five minutes he was out of gun- 
shot ; in tin, tht American vessels were taking men from 
thejr crippled cruiser, whose antagonists had almost dis- 
appeared on the horizon! 

Upon our own decks the noise and hubbub were almost 
deafening. From a state of nervous tension and doubt 
our men had passed to a state of joy. Half of them were 
for going aboard the damaged vessels at once; half for 
getting under weigh and moving from such dangerous 
waters. Our talk upon the quarter-deck soon brought us 
to the first-named course, and we put out a boat with ease 
upon the still sea, and hailed the passenger steamer after 
twenty minutes* stout rowing. She was yet a Pitiful 
spectacle, for as we drew near to her, I could $cc women 
weeping hysterically on the seats aft, and men alternately 
helping them and looking over in the direction whence the 
three Aw^erican ironclads steamed. Indeed, it was a pic- 
turf of great confusion and distress, and we hailed those 
on her bridge three times before we got any answer. When 
we did get up on her main deck, Captain Ross, her com- 
n^andert greeted m with great thanks ; but he was a sorry 
sp^taclc of a man, being white as his own ensign with 
ang^ri and his voice trembled as the voice of a man suf- 
fering some great emotion. He took us to his chart-room, 
fqr he would have all particulars about us, both our names 
and addresses, with those of our officers, for a witness when 
he shoyld call the British Government to take action. 

*^ Twenty years," he said, with tears of anger in his 
ryes, 'twenty years I have crossed the Atlantic, but this is 
the first time that I ever heard the like. Good God, sirs ; 
it's nothing less than piracy on the high seas; and they 



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no THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

shall swing, every man Jack of them, as high as Haman! 
What think ye? They signal me to lie to — mc that has 
the mails and a hundred thousand pounds in specie aboard ; 
they fire a shot across my bows, and when I signal that 
ril see them in hell before I bate a knot, why — ^>'ou 
watched it yourselves — they struck me in the fo*castle, and 
there's two of my dead men below now; but they shall 
swing" — and he brought his fist upon the table with a 
mighty thud — "they shall swing, if there's only one rope 
in Europe." 

I had sorrow for the man who was thus moved — for the 
most part, I could see, at the loss of his two men. Then I 
went forward with the others to the place of wreckage, 
and for the first time in my life I observed the colossal 
havoc which a shell may leave in its path. The single 
shot which had struck the steamer had cut her two skins 
of steel as though they had been skins of cheese; had 
splintered the wood of the men's bunks, so that it lay in 
match-like fragments which a fine knife might have 
hewed; had passed again through the steel on the star- 
board side, and so burst, leaving the fo'castle one tumbled 
mass of torn blankets, little rags of linen, fragments of 
wood, of steel, of clothes which had been in the men's 
chests; and more horrible to recount, particles of human 
flesh. Three men were below when the crash came, and 
two of them had their limbs torn apart ; while, by one of 
the miracles which oft attend the passage of a shot, the 
third, being in a low bunk when the shell struck, escaped 
almost uninjured. This desolate and wrecked cabin was 
shown to us by Captain Ross, whose anger mounted at 
every step. 

"What does it mean?" he kept asking. "Are we at war? 
You saw the Chilian flag. Is there no Treaty of Paris, 



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IN THE CHART ROOM. iii 

then? Does he go out to filch every ship he meets? Will 
he do this, and cur Government take no steps? Can't you 
answer me that?" But he poured out his questions with 
such rapidity, and he was so overcome, that we followed 
him in silence as he walked beneath the awnings of the 
upper decks, and showed us women still talking hysteric- 
ally, men unnerved and witless as children, seamen yet 
finding curses for the atrocity that had been. By this time, 
the first of the American ships had come up with us, and 
the commander of her put out a boat, and having gone 
aboard the maimed cruiser, he came afterwards to the 
Black Anchor ship, and joined us in the chart-room. I 
will make no attempt to set down for you his surprise nor 
his incredulity. I believe that the scene in the fo'castle 
alone convinced him that we were not all raving madmen ; 
but, when once he grasped our story, he was not a whit 
behind us, either in intensity of expression or of sympathy. 

"It's an international question, I guess," he said; "and 
if he doesn't pay with his neck for the twenty men dead on 
my cruiser, to say nothing of the twenty thousand pounds 
or more of damage to her, I will — why, we'll run him 
down in four-and-twenty hours. You took his course?" 

"West by south-west, almost dead," said the captain; 
and I heard it agreed between them that the second cruiser 
of the American fleet should start at once in pursuit, while 
the ironclads should accompany us to New York, so mak- 
ing a little convoy for safety's sake. 

With this arrangement we left the ship and regained the 
Celsis. Paolo stood at the top of the ladder as I came on 
deck, and listened, I thought, to our protestations that 
the danger wa§ over with something of a sneer on his 
face. 



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1 12 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

Indeed, I thought that I heard him mutter, ttd he wetit 
to his cabin, ^^Vedremo — " but I did not know th^n how 
much the laugh was to be against us, and that We should 
leave the convoy long before we reached New York. 



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n3 
CHAPTER X. 

THl SPREAD OF THE TERROR. 

For full five days wc steamed with the other vessels, under 
no stress to keep the sea with them, since they made no 
more than twelve knots, for the sake of the cruiser which 
had been so fearfully mained in the short action with the 
nameless ship. During this time, there was little power 
of wind; and the breeze continuing soft from the north- 
east, it was easy business to hold sight of the convoy, 
which we did to the satisfaction of every man aboard us. 
But I could not put away from myself the knowledge 
that the events of the first three days had made much 
talk in the fo'castle and that a feeling akin to terror 
prevailed amongst the men. 

This came home to me with some force on the early 
morning of the fifth day. I found myself unable to sleep 
restfuUy in my bunk, and went above at daybreak, to see 
the white hulls of the American war-vessels a mile away 
on the port-quarter and the long line of the Black Anchor 
boat a few cablcs'-lengths ahead of them. Paolo was on 
the bridge, but I did not hail him, thinking it better to 
give the man few words until we sighted Sandy Hook. 
He, in turn, maintained his sullen mood; but he did not 
neglect to be much amongst the hands, and his intimacy 
with them increased from day to day. 

Now, when I came on deck this morning, I found that 
the breeze, strong and fresh though it was, put me in that 
soporific state I had sought unavailingly in my bunk. 
There was a deck-chair well placed behind the shelter of 



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114 THE SHJDOtr ON THE SEA. 

the saloon skylight, and upon this I made myself at case, 
drawing my peaked hat upon my eyes, and getting, the 
sleep-music from the swish of the sea, as it ran upon us, and 
sprinted from the tiller right away to the bob-stay. Cut no 
sleep could I get ; for scarce was I set upon the chair when 
I heard Dan the other side of the skylight, and he was hold- 
ing forth with much fine phrace to Roderick's dog, Belle. 

"Yes," he said, apparently treating the beast as though 
possessed of all human attributes. "Yes, you don't go for 
to say nothing, but you Ve a Christian dog, I don't doubt ; 
and yer heart's in the right place ; or it's not me as would 
be wasting me time talking to yer. Now, what I says is, 
you're comfortable enough, with Missie a-makin' as much 
of yer as if good fresh beef weren't tcnpence a pound, and 
yer mouth weren't large enough to take in a hundred- 
weight; but that ain't the way with the rest of us — no, 
my old woman, not by a cable's-lcngth ; we're afloat on a 
rum job, old lady; and some of us won't go for to pipe 
when it's the day for payin' oflF — not by a long way. So 
you hear; and don't get answcrin' of me, for what I 
spoke's logic, and there's an end of it." 

I called him to me, and had it out with him there and 
then. 

"What's in the wind now, Dan," I asked, "that you're 
preaching to the dog?" 

"Ah, that's it," he replied, putting his hand into his 
pocket for his tobacco-box. "What's in the wind? — why, 
you'd have to be askin' of it to learn, I fancy." 

"Is there any more nonsense amongst the men for- 
ward?" 

"There's a good deal of talk — ^maybe more than there 
should be." 



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A DEAD MAN'S SUIF. 115 

"And what do they talk about? Tell me straight, 
Dan/' 

"Well, IVe got nothing, for my part, to hide away, 
and I don't know as they should have ; but you know this 
ship is a dead man's!" 

"Who told you that stuff?" 

"No other than our second mate, sir, as sure as I cut 
this quid. Not as yarns like that affect me ; but, you see, 
some sculls is thick as plate-armour, and some is thin as 
egg-shells: and when the thin *uns gets afloat with corpses, 
why, it's a chest of shiners to a handspike as they cracks — 
now, ain't it?" 

"Dan, this is the most astounding story that I have yet 
heard. Would you make it plainer? for, upon my life, I 
can't read your course!" 

He sat down on the edge of the skylight — long service 
had given him a claim to familiarity — and filled his pipe 
from my tobacco-pouch before he answered me, and then 
was mighty deliberate. 

"Plain yarns, Mister Mark, is best told in the fo'castle, 
and not by hands upon the quarter-deck; but, asking 
pardon for the liberty, I feel more like a father to you 
gentlemen than if I was nat'ral born to it; and this I do 
say — What's this trip mean? what's in yer papers? and 
why ain't it the pleasure vige we struck flag for? For 
it ain't a pleasure vige, that a 'shoreman could see ; and you 
ain't come across the Atlantic for the seein' cf it, nor 
for merchandise nor barter, nor because you wanted to 
come. That's what the hands say at night when the 
second's a-talkin* to 'em over the grog which he finds 'em. 
'Where's it going to end ?' says he ; *what is yer wages for 
takin' yer lives where they shouldn't be took? and,' says 
he, 'in a ship what the last skipper died aboard of it/ 



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ii6 THE SHADOff ON THE SEA. 

says he, 'died so sudden, and Was so fond of his old place 
as who knows where he is now, afloat or ashore, p'taps 
a-walking this very cabin, and not bringing no luck for 
the vigc, neither,* says he. And 'what follows?— why, 
white-livered jawings, and this mart afe^rd to go here, 
and that man afeard to go there, artd the Old One 
amongst 'em, so that half of 'em says, *We was took 
false/ and the other half, *Why not *bout ship and home 
again?' No, and you ain't done with it, not by a long 
day« and you won't have done with it until you drop 
anchor in Yankee-land, if ever you do drop anchor there, 
which I take leave to give no word upon/* 

''It's a curious state of things. You mean to say, I 
suppose, that there's terror atnongst them— ^lain terror, 
and nothing else?" 

"Ay, sure!'' 

"Then it remains for Us to face them. What's your 
opinion on that?" 

"My opinion is, as you won't go for to do it, but will 
take your victuals, and play your music in the aft parlour, 
and skeer away the Old One with the singing, as ye've 
skeered him already — that's what ye'U do afore Missie 
and the skipper— but by yourself, you won't have two 
eyes shut when you sleep, and you won't have two eyes 
open when you're above,* and when you're wanted you 
won't be an hour getting yourself nor Mr. Roderick un- 
der weigh — and that's the end of it, for there goes the 
bell.'^ 

The watch changed as he spoke, and I went below te 
the bathroom ; thence, not thinking much of Dan's terror, 
nor of the men's petty grumbling, I joined the others at 
breakfast. We were now well on towards the end of the 
journey, and I itched to set foot in Attierici. The ntW 



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MISCHIEF AFLOAT! liy 

safety in the presence of the war-ships had given us light 
hearts; and that fifth day we passed in great games of 
deck-quoits and cricket, with a soft ball which the bo'sun 
made for us of tow and linen. The men work(^d cheer- 
fully enough, giving the lie direct to Dan; and when 
Mary played to us after dinner av night I began to think 
that, all said and done, we should touch shore with no 
further happening ; and that then I could make all use of 
the man Paolo and his knavery. So I went to bed at ten 
o'clock, and for an hour or two I slept with the deep for- 
getfulness which is the reward of a weary man. 

At what hour Dan awoke me I cannot tell you. He 
shook me twice in the effort, he said, and when I would 
have turned up the electric light, he seized my hand 
roughly, muttering in a great whisper, "Hold steady." 
I knew then that tnischief was afloat, and asked him what 
to do. 

"Crawl above," he said, "and lie low a-deck;" and he 
went up the companion ladder when I got my flannels and 
rubber-shod shoes upon me. But at the topmost step he 
stood awhile, and then he fell flat on his hands, and backed 
again down the stairway, so that he came almost on top of 
me; but 1 saw w'hat prompted his action, for, as he 
moved, there was a shadow thrown from the deck light 
down to where we lay ; and then a man stepped upon the 
stair and descended slowly, his feet naked, but in his hand 
an iron bat; for he had no other weapon. At the sight 
of him, we had backed to the foot of the stairway; and, 
as the man crept down, we lay still, so that you could hear 
every quiver of the glass upon the table of the saloon ; and 
we watched the fellow drop step by step until he wa3 
quite close to us ih the dark, and his breath was hot upon 
us. Swiftly then and silently he entered the place; and, 



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ii8 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

going to my cabin door, he slipped a wedge under it, serv- 
ing the other doors around the big cabin in the same way. 
The success seemed to please him ; he chuckled softly, and 
came again to the ladder, where with a quick motion, Dan 
brought his pistol-butt (for I had armed him) full upon 
' the fellow's forehead, and he went down like a dead thing 
at the foot of the swinging table. 

There we left him, after we had bound his hands with 
my scarf; and with a hurried knock got Roderick from his 
berth. He, in turn, aroused his sister, and in five minutes 
we all stood in the big saloon and discussed our plan. 

Dan's whispered tale was this. The watch was Paolo's, 
who had persuaded four stokers and six of the forward 
hands to his opinion. These men, the dupes of the second 
officer, had determined on this much — that the voyage to 
New York should be stopped abruptly, come what might, 
and that our intent should go for nothing. We, being 
locked in our cabins, were to have no voice in the aflair; 
or, if waked, then we should be knocked on the head, and 
so quieted to reason. 

It was a desperate endeavour, wrought of fear; but at 
that moment the true hands of the fo'castle were battened 
down, and Dan, who had seen the thing coming, escaped 
only by his foresight. That night he had felt danger, and 
had wrapped himself up in a tarpaulin, and lain concealed 
on deck. 

As it was, Paolo stood at the door of the skipper's room ; 
there were three men guarding the fo'castle, and five at 
the foot of the hurricane deck. One man we had settled 
with ; but we were three, and eight men stood between us 
and the true hands. 

Roderick w^s th^ first to get his wits^ and plan a course. 



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J GREA T HOWL OF TERROR. i tg 

"We must act now," he said, "before they miss their 
man. TheyVe stopped the engines, and we shall drop 
behind the others. There's only one chance, and that is to 
surprise them. Let's rush it, and take the odds." 

"You can't rush it," I replied; "they're looking for 
that; and if one now went forward they would shoot him 
down straight — and what's to follow? They come aft, 
and how can we hold them ? But we must get the skipper 
awake, or they'll knock him on the head while he sleeps." 

Mary had listened, shivering with the night cold ; but 
she had a word to add, and its wisdom was no matter for 
dispute. 

"If I went," she said, "what could they do to me?" 

We were all silent. 

"I'm going now," she said ; "while I'm talking to them 
they won't be looking for you." 

"Certainly, we could follow up," I added, "and might 
get them down if you held them in talk; but don't you 
fear?" 

She laughed, and gave answer by running up the com- 
panion-way, and standing at the top; while we cocked 
our pistols, and crept after her. Then we lay flat to the 
deck, as she ran noiselessly amidships, and into the very 
centre of the five men. To our astonishment, they gave a 
great howl of terror at the sight of her — for it lay so dark 
that she seemed but a thing of shadow hovering upon the 
ship — and bolted headlong forward ; while we rushed in a 
body to the hurricane deck, and faced Paolo. He turned 
very white, and would have opened his lips; but Dan 
served him as the other; and hit him with his pistol, so 
that he rolled senseless off the narrow bridge, and we 
heard the thud of his head against the iron of the engine- 



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120 THE SHADOtf' ON THE SEA. 

room hatch. He had scarce fallen when Mary, with the 
laugh still upon her lips, reeled at the sight of him, and 
fell fainting in my arms. I knocked at the skipper's door, 
but he was already on his feet, and passed me to the bridge 
while I laid the swooning girl on the sofa in the chart- 
room. 

The skipper got the whole situation at the first look, 
and acted in his usual silence. He re-entered his own 
cabin, and came to us again with a couple of rifles, which 
he loaded. We were now all crouching together by the 
wheel amidships, for Mary had recovered, and insisted 
that I should leave her, and we waited for the heavy black 
clouds to lift off the moon; but the fore-deck lay dark 
ahead of us; and we could not tell whether the men who 
had fled had gone below, or were crouching behind the 
galley and the skylights of the fore-cabins. Nor could we 
hear any sound of them, although the skipper hailed them 
twice. He was for going forward at once; but we held 
back until the light came, and then by the full moon we 
saw dark shadows across the hatch. The men were behind 
the galley, as we thought — the eight of them. 

The skipper hailed them again. 

''You, Karl, Williams — are you coming out now, for 
me to flog you; or will you swing at New York?" 

I could see their whole performance in shadow, as they 
heard the hail. One of them cocked a pistol, and the rest 
huddled more closely together. 

''Very well," continued the skipper, ironically deliber- 
ate. "YouVe got a couple of planks between you and 
eternity. I'm going to fire through that galley." 

He raised his rifle at the word, and let go straight at the 
comer of the light wood erection. A dull groan followed, 
and by the shadow on the deck I saw one man fall forward 



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ON THEIR KNEES/ 121 

.flttiongst the others, who held him up with their shoulders; 
but his blood ran in a thick stream out to the top of the 
hatchway, and then ran back as the ship heaved to the seas. 

For the fifth time th^ skipper hailed them. 

"There's one down amongst you," he said ; "but that's 
the beginning of it ; Tm going to blow that shanty to hell, 
and you with it." 

He raised his rifle, but as he did so one of them an- 
swered for the first time with his revolver, and the bullet 
sang above our heads. The skipper's shot was quick in 
reply ; and the wood of the shanty flew in splinters as the 
bullet shivered it. A second man sprang to his feet with a 
shout, and then fell across the deck, lying full to be seen 
in the moonlight. 

"That's two of you," continued the skipper, as calm as 
ever he was in Portsmouth harbour; "we'll make it three 
for luck." But at the suggestion they all made a run 
forward, and lay flat right out by the cable. There we 
could hear them blubbering like children. 

The clipper was of a mind to end the thing there and 
then. He sprang down the ladder to the deck, and we 
followed him. They fired three shots as we rushed on 
them ; but the butt ends of the two muskets did the rest. 
Three of them went down straight as felled poplars. The 
others fell upon their knees and implored mercy ; and they 
got it, but not until the skipper, who now seemed roused 
to all the fury of great anger, set to kicking them lustily, 
and with no discrimination — for they all had their full 
share of it. 

We had the other hands up by this, and, despite the 
tragedy and horror of the thing, a smile came to me as the 
true men set to binding the others at the skipper's order; 
for Piping Jack and Planks, and the whole ten of them, 



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122 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

fell into such a train of swxaring as would have done your 
heart good to hear. They got them below at the first 
break of dawn, and the dead they covered; while Paolo, 
who lay groaning, we carried to a cabin in the saloon, and 
did for his broken head that which our elementary knowl- 
edge of surgery permitted us. 

As the day brought light upon the rising sea I looke4 
to the far horizon, but the rolling crests of an empty waste 
met my gaze. Again we were alone. The night's work 
had lost us the welcome company. 



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123 



CHAPTER XL 

THE SHIP IN THE BLACK CLOAK. 

The day that broke was glorious enough for Nature's 
making, but sad upon our ship, in that the folly of eight 
poor fellows should have cost the lives of two, with three 
more lying near to death in the fo'castle. The sea had 
risen a good deal when we got under steam again, and 
clouds scudded over the sun; but we set stay-sails and 
jibs, and made a fine pace towards the shores of America. 
It was near noon when we had buried the two stokers shot 
by the skipper, and more on in the afternoon before the 
decks were made straight, and the traces of the scuffle 
quite obliterated. But Paolo lay all day in a delirium, 
and Mary went in and out, bearing a gentle hand to the 
wounded, who alternately cried with the pain of it, and 
begged grace for their insanity. The second officer's case 
was worse than theirs, and I thought at noon that the 
total of the dead would have been three ; for he raved in- 
cessantly, crying "Ice, Ice!" almost with every breath, 
while we had all difficulty possible to hold him in his bunk. 
His words I could not get the meaning of; but I had 
them later, and in circumstances I had never looked for. 

After the hour of lunch the skipper called Roderick and 
me into his cabin, and there he discussed the position 
with us. 

"One thing is clear,'' he said; "youVe brought me on 
more than a pleasure trip, and, while 1 don't complain, it 
will be necessary at New York for me to know something 



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124 THE SHJDOPy ON THE SEA. 

more — or, maybe to leave this ship. Last night's work 
must be made plain, of course ; and this second officer of 
yours must stand to his trial. The men I would willingly 
let go, for they're no nrjofe than lubberly fools whose heads 
have been turned. But one thing I now make bold to 
claim — I take this yacht straight from here to Sandy 
Hook ; and we poke our noses into no business on the way." 

"Of course," said Roderick somewhat sarcastically, 
"youVe every right to do what you like with my ship; but 
I seem to remember havipg engaged you to obey my 
orders." 

"Fair orders and plain sailing," replied Captain York, 
bringing hjs fist down on the table with emphasis; "not 
running after war-ships that could blow us out of the 
water without thinking of it. Fair orders I took, and 
fair orders TU obey." 

"That's quite right, Roderick," I said; "there's no 
reason now why we shouldn't go straight on — if we don't 
meet with anyone to ask questions on the way ; of that I'm 
not so sure, though." 

"Nor I," said the skipper ipeaningly, and waiting fof 
me to add more; but I did not n)ean to gratify him, and 
we all went out on deck again after wcliad agreed to let 
him have his will. We found the first officer on the 
bridge, looking away to the south-east, where the black 
hull of a steamer was now showing full. I do not know 
that the distant sight of a ship was anything to cause re- 
mark, but as I looked at her, I noticed that she steamed at 
a fearful speed and she showed no smoke from her funnels. 

"Skipper," I said, "will you look at that hull? Isn't 
the bo9t making unconupon headway?" 

He took a very long ga^c, and then he spoke — 



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"STAND BYr 125 

"Ydu*rc right She's going more than twenty knots.". 

"And straight towards us!" 

"As you say." 

"h there anything remarkable about that?" 

He took another sight of her, and when he turned to 
me again he had no colour in his face. 

"IVc seen that ship before," he said. 

"Where?" asked Roderick laconically. 

"Five days ago, when she fired a shell into the Ocedn 
Kinir 

"In that case," said I, "there isn't much doubt about 
her intentions: she's chasing us!" 

"That may or may not be," he replied, as he raised 
his glass again, "but she's the same ship, I'll wager my 
life. Look at the rake of her — and the lubbers, they've 
left sdme of their bright metal showing amidships !" 

tie indicated the deck-house by the bridge, where my 
glass showed me a shining spot in the cloak of black, for 
the $Un fell upon the place, and reflected from it as from 
a mirror of gold. There was no loilger any doubt : we 
were pursued by the nameless ship, and, if no help fell to 
us, I shuddered to think what the end might be. 

"What are you going to do, skipper?" asked Roderick, 
as gloom fell upon the three of us ; and we stood together, 
eath man afraid to tell the others all he thought. 

"What am I going to do?" said he. "I'm going to 
see the boats cleared, and all hands in the stoke-hole that 
have the right there;" and then he sang out, "Stand by!" 
and the mert swarmed up from below, and heard the order 
to clear the boat$. They obeyed unquestioningly ; but I 
doubt not that they were no less uneasy than we were; 
and, as these things cannot be concealed, the whisper was 



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126 THE SHADOPF ON THE SEA. 

soon amongst them that the danger lay in the black 
steamer, which had been five days ago the ship of gold. 
Yet they went to the work with a right good will; and 
presently, when a canopy of our own smoke lay over us, 
and the yacht bounded forward under the generosity of 
the stoking, they set up a great cheer spontaneously, and 
were ready for anything. Yet I, myself, could not share 
their honest bravado. The black ship which had been but 
a mark on the horizon now showed her lines fully ; there 
could be no two opinions of her speed, or of the way in 
which she gained upon us. Indeed, one could not look 
upon her advance without envy of her form, or of the 
terrifying manner in which she cut the seas. Churning 
the foam until it mounted its banks on each side of her 
great ram, she rode the Atlantic like a beautiful yacht, 
with no vapour of smoke to float above her; and not so 
much as a sign that any engines forced her onward with 
a velocity unknown, I believe, in the whole history of 
navigation. And so she came straight in our wake, and I 
knew that we should have little breathing time before we 
should hear the barking of her guns. 

The skipper did not like to see my idleness or this dis- 
play of inactive indifference. 

"Don't you think you might help?" he asked. 

"Help — what help can I give? — you don't suppose wc 
can outsteam them, do you?" 

"That's a child's question; they'll run us to a stand in 
four hours — any man with one eye should see that; but 
arc you going down like a sheep, or will you give them 
a touch of your claws? I will, so help me Heaven, if 
there's not another hand breathing!" 

"The skipper's right, by Jove!" said Roderick; "if it's 
coming to close quarters, I'll mark one man anyway," and 



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GRIT OF THE SEA-DOGS. 127 

with that he tumbled down the ladder, and into his cabin. 
I followed him, and got all tlie arms I could lay hands on, 
a couple of revolvers and a long duck-gun amongst the 
number. There were two rifles — the two we had used in 
the trouble with the men — in the chart-room, and these 
we brought on deck, with all the other pistols we had 
amongst us. We made a distribution of them amongst the 
old hands, giving Dan the duck-gun, which pleased him 
mightily. 

*'I generally shoots 'em sittin',*' he said, "but I'll go for 
to make a bag, and willin'. You're keepin' the Missie 
out of it, sir?" 

"Of course; she's looking after the sick hands down- 
stairs. You go forward, Dan, and wait for the word, then 
blaze away your hardest." 

"Ay, ay," replied he; and I took myself off to see after 
the others, whom we posted in the stern to keep a closer 
look-out; while Roderick, the first officer, and myself 
went above to the bridge. 

The men now fell to the work in right good earnest. 
They had all the grit of the old sea-dogs in them — how, 
I know not, except in this, that their lives had been given 
to the one mistress. The thought of a brush-up put dash 
and daring into them; they had the boats cleared, the 
water-barrels filled, and the life-belts free, with an activity 
that was remarkable. Then they stood to watch the on- 
coming of the nameless ship ; and when we hoisted our en- 
sign they burst again into that hoarse roar of applause 
which rolled across the water waste, and must have 
sounded as a vaunting mockery to the men behind the 
walls of metal. But they answered us in turn, running 
up an enfign, and a cry came from all of u3 as we sa\v 
its colouri for it wai the blue laltire on a white ground% 



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ia8 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

*^ Russian, or Vtn blind," said the skipper, mi I IpQkfd 
twice and knew that his sight was safe tg hiip; for the 
nameless ship, which five days ago showed her heeli under 
the Chilian mask, now made straight towards us in Rus- 
sian guise. 

^'Are you sure she's the same ship?" asked Roderick, 
when his amazement let him speak. 

"Am I sure that my voice comes out of my throat?" 
said the old fellow testily. "Did you ever see but one 
hull shaped like that ? And now she signals." 

So rapidly had she drawn towards us that she wa?, in- 
deed, then within gun-shot of us. After the fir^t enthu- 
siasm the men had stood, held under the spell of her amaz- 
ing approach, and no soul had spoken. Even with their 
plain reckoning and hazy notion of it all, they seemed 
conscious of the peril; but not as I was conscious of it, 
for in my own heart I believed that no man amongst us 
would see to-morrow. There we stood alone, with no 
prospect but to face the men who openly declared war 
against us. I tiirned my eyes away to the crimson arch 
which marked the sun's decline ; I looked again tg the east, 
whence black harbingers of night hung low upon the dark- 
ened sea ; I searched the horixson in eycry quarter, but it 
lay barren of ships, and soon the last light would leave 
us, and with the ebb of day there was no security against 
an enemy whose attentions were no longer disguised — but 
of this the skipper made me cognisant. He pointed to tbf 
mast on the nameless ship, where the Russian ensign had 
hung ten minutes before. It was there no longer; the 
black flag took its place. 

"Pirates, by the very devil!" said the skipper; and then 
he whistled long and loud and shrilly as a man who ha$ 
solvtd a 8um.^ 



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A MESSAGE BOAT. 12$ 

"Gehtlertiftni" hft addfcd very slowly, "I said I would 
resign this ship at New York: with your permissi6n I 
will withdraw that* I will sail with you wherever you 
go." 

He 8ho(jk bur hands heartily, as though the discovery of 
dur purpose had unclouded his mind. But we had no time 
for fuller uriderstanding, for at that moment the ait* 
itself seemed torn a|)art by a great concussion, and a shell 
burst in the water no more than fifty yards ahead of us. 
When the knowledge that we were not hit was sure on the 
rtlert'i part, they bellowed lustily, and oil Dan fired his 
gutt irito the air with a great shout. Yet we knew that all 
this was the cheajpest bravado; and when the skipper 
touched the bell to stop our engines, I was sure that he 
was wise, 

"That's the end of it then," I said. "Well, it*s pretty 
ignottlinidUs, Isn^ it, to be shot down like fools on our 
own quarter-deck!" 

**WAit awhile," he answered, looking anxiously behind 
him, where a mist gathered on the sea; "let 'em lower a 
boat, the lubbers!" 

hy this tiriie the great vessel rode still some quarter of 
a mile away from us; but the glass showed me the men 
Upon her decks, and conspicuous amongst them I saw the 
form of Captain Black standing by the steam steering 
gear. Others below were moving at the davits, so that 
in a small space a launch was riding ih the still sea, and 
was making for us. I watched her with nerves strained 
and lips dry; she seemed to me the message boat from 
Death itself. 

** Stand steady and wait for me!" suddenly yelled the 
ftkippet, his fingers moving nervously, and his look con- 



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130 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

tinually turning to the banks of mist behind us, "When 
I sing Tire!' pick your men!" 

The boat was so near that you could see the faces in it ; 
and three of the five I recognized, for I had seen them in 
the room of the Rue Joubert. The others were not known 
to me, but had rascally countenances; and one of them 
was a Chinaman's. The man who was in command was 
the fellow ** Roaring John*'; and when he was within 
hail he stood and bawled — 

'^ What ship?" 

"My ship!" roared back the skipper, again looking at 
the mist-clouds, and my heart gave a bound when I read 
his purpose: we were drifting into them. 

"And who may you be?" bawled the fellow again, 
growing more insolent with every advance. 

" Tm one that'll give you the best hiding you ever had, 
if you'll step up here a minute!" yelled the skipper, as 
cool as a man in Hyde Park. 

"Oh, I guess," said the man; "you're a tarnation fine 
talker, ain't you ? But you'll talk less when I come aboard 
you, oh, I reckon!" 

They came a couple of oars' lengths nearer, when Cap- 
tain York made his reply. There was a fine roll of con- 
fidence in his voice; and he almost laughed when he 
cried — 

"You're coming aboard, are you? And which of you 
shall I have the pleasure of kicking first?" 

The hulking ruffian roared with pleasant laughter at 
the sally. 

"Oh, you're a funny cuss, ain't you, and pretty with 
your jaw, by thunder! but it's me that you'll have the 
pleasure of speaking to, and right quick, my mate, oh, you 
bet!" 



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INTO THE MIST. 131 

"In that case," said the skipper, with his calmness well 
at zero; "in that case — ^you, Dan! introduce yourself to 
the gentleman." 

Dan*s reply was instantaneous. He leant well over the 
bulwark, and his cheery old face beamed as he bellowed — 

"Ahoy, you there that it's me pleasure to be runnin' 
against so far from me old country. Will you have it hot, 
or will you have it the other way for a parcel of cold- 
livered lubbers? By the Old *Un, how's that for salt 
'ossi" 

He had up with his shot gun, and the long ruffian, who 
had reached forward with his boat-hook, got the dose full 
in his face, as it seemed to me. At the same moment the 
skipper called "Fire!" and the heavy crack of the rifles 
and the sharp report of the pistols rang out together. The 
very launch itself seemed to reel under the volley ; but the 
Chinaman gave a great shout, and jumped into the sea 
with the agony of his wound; while two of the others 
were stretched out in death as they sat. 

"Full steam ahead!" roared Captain York, as the 
nameless ship replied with a shell that grazed our chart- 
room. "Full speed ahead!" Then, shaking his fist to 
the war-ship, he almost screamed — "Bested for a parcel 
of cut-throats, by the Powers!" 

There was no doubt about it at all. The moment the 
yacht answered to the screw the fog rolled round us like 
a sheet, in thick wet clouds, steaming damp on the decks ; 
and twenty yards ahead or astern of us you could not see 
the long waves themselves. But the sensations of that five 
minutes I shall never forget. Shot after shot hissed and 
splashed ahead of us, behind us; now dull, heavy, yet 
penetrating, and we kn^w that the ship lay close qn pyr 



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132 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

track ; then farther oS and deadened, and we hoped that 
she had lost us. Again dreadfully close, so that a shell 
struck the chart-room full, and crushed it into splinters 
not bigger than your finger, then dying away to leave the 
stillness of the mist behind it. An awful chase, enduring 
many minutes; a chase when I went hot and cold, now 
filled with hope, then seeming to stand on the very brink 
of death. But at last the firing ceased. We left our 
course, steaming for some hours due south across the very 
track of the nameless ship; and we went headlong into 
the fog, the men standing yet at their posts, no soul giving 
a thought to the lesser danger that was begotten of our 
speed; every one of us held in that strange after-ttnsion 
which follows upon calamity. 

When I left the bridge it \yas midnight. I was soaked 
to the skin and nigh frozen, and the water ran even from 
my hair; but a hot hand was put into mine as I entered 
the cabin, and then a thousand questions rained upon mt. 

"Til tell you by-and-by, Mary. Were you very much 
afraid?" 

She tossed her head and seemed to think. 

*4 was a bit afraid, Mark — a — a — little bit!" 

^^And what did you do all the time?" 

"I — oh, I nursed Paolo — he's dying." 

The man truly lay almost at death's door; but his de- 
lirium had passed; and he slept, muttering in his dream, 
"I can't go to the City — Black; you know it — let me 
get aboard. Hands off! I told you the job was risky;" 
and he tossed and turned and fell into troubled slumber. 
And I could not help a thought of sorrow, for I feared 
that he would hang if ever we set foot ashore. 

I returned to the saloon sadly, though al} was now 



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THE SKIPPER GIVES A TOAST. 133 

brightness there. We served out grog liberally for the 
forward hands, and broke champagne amongst us. 

"Gentlemen," said the skipper, giving us the toast, "you 
owe your lives to the Banks; and, please God, Til see you 
all in New York before three days/' 

And he kept his word; for we sighted Sandy Hook, 
and harm had come to no man that fought the unequal 
fight 



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134 
CHAPTER XII. 

THE DRINKING HOLE IN THE BOWERY. 

The beauty of the entrance to the Bay of New York, the 
amazing medley of shipping activity and glorious scenery, 
have often been described. Even to one who comes upon 
the capital of the New World, having seen many cities 
and many men, there is a charm in the sweeping woods 
and the distant heights, in the group of islets, and the 
massive buildings, that is hardly rivalled by the fascina- 
tions of any other harbour, that of San Francisco and the 
Golden Gates alone excepted. If you grant that the mere 
material of man's making is all very new, its power and 
dignity is no less impressive. Nor in any other city of 
the world that I know does the grandeur of the natural 
environment force itself so close to the very gates, as in 
this bay which Hudson claimed, and a Dutch colony took 
possession of so long ago as 1614. 

It was about six o'clock in the evening when we brought 
the Celsis through the Narrows between Staten and Long 
Islands, and passed Forts Wandsworth and Hamilton. 
Then the greater harbour before the city itself rolled out 
upon our view ; and as we steamed slowly Into it the Cus- 
toms took possession of us, and made their search. It was 
a short business, for we satisfied them that Paolo suffered 
from no malignant disease, although one small and sin- 
gularly objectionable fellow seemed suspicious of every- 
thing aboard us. I do not wonder that he made the men 
angry, or that Dan had a word with him. 

"Look here, sir," he whispered, making pretence tQ 



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A DOG STUFFED iriTH DIAMONDS/ 13S 

great honesty; "I won*t go for to deceive you — p'r'aps 
that dog's stuflFed wi* drmonds." 

"Do you reckon Vm a fool?" asked the man. 

"Well," said old Dan, "I never was good at calcerla- 
tions; but you search that dog, and p'r'aps youll find 
somethin'.'' 

The man seemed to think a moment; but Dan looked 
so very solemn, and Belle came snifling up at the officer's 
legs; so he passed his hand over her back, and lost some 
of his leg in return. 

"Didn't I tell you," said Dan, "as you'd get something 
if you searched that dog? — well, don't you go for to doubt 
me word next time we're meetin'. Good-day to yer 
honour. Is there any other animal as I could oblige you 
with?" 

The officer went off, the men howling with laughter; 
and a short while after we had made fast at the landing- 
stage, and were ready to go ashore. 

Paolo still lay very sick in his cabin, and we deter- 
mined in common charity to take no action until he had 
his health again; but we set the men to keep a watch 
about the place, and for ourselves went off to dine at the 
Fifth Avenue Hotel. There, before a sumptuous dinner, 
and with all the novelty of the new scene, we nigh forgot 
all that happened since the previous month; when, with- 
out thought of adventure or of future, we had gone to 
Paris with the aimless purpose of the idle traveller. And, 
indeed, I did my best to encourage this spirit of forgetful- 
ncss, since through all the new enjoyment I could not but 
feel that danger surrounded us on every hand, and that I 
was but just embarked on that great mission I had under- 
taken. 

In this mood, when dinner was done, I suggested that 



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136 THE SHADOW ON THE 8kA. 

Roderick should take Maty through the city Awhile, and 
that I should get back to the Celsis^ there to secure what 
papers were left for me, and to arrange, aftet thought, 
what my next step in the following of Captain Bkck 
should be. The skipper had friends to see in New York, 
and agreed that he would follow me to the yacht in a 
couple of hours, and that he would meet the others in 
the hotel after they had come from their excursion* This 
plan fell in with my own, and I said "Good-bye" chtef- 
fully enough to the three men as I buttoned Up my coat, 
and sent for a coach. If I had knowrt then that the next 
time I should meet them would be after weeks of danger 
and of peril, of sojourn in strange places, ind of life 
attiongst terrible men! 

I was driven to the wharf very quickly, and got aboatd 
the yacht with no trouble* There was A rtlfln keeping 
watch Upon her decks ; and ban had been in the sick mart's 
cabin taking drink to him. He told me that he wds more 
easy, and spoke with the full Use of his senses ; and that he 
had fallen off into a comfortable sleep "since dn hour.'' I 
was glad at the news, and went to my own eabirt, getting 
my papers, my revolver, and other things that I might have 
need of ashore. 

This work occupied me forty minutes or more ; but as I 
wds ready to go back to thfe Others I looked into Paolo's 
cabin, and, somewhat to my surprise, I saw. that he was 
dressed, and seemingly about to quit the yacht* This 
discovery set me aglow with expectation. If the man were 
going ashore, whither could hfe gb except to his associates^ 
to those who were connetted with Black and his crew? 
Was not that the very clue I had been hoping to g^t since 
I knew that we had a spy aboard us? Otherwise, I might 
wait k year and hedr tlo ttiore of the tti«A or of his work 



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THE ITALIAN GOES ASHORE. 137 

e^ccept such tidings as should come from the sea. Indeed, 
my mind was made up in a moment; I would follow 
Paolo, at any risk, even of my life. 

Thil thought sent me forward again into the fo'castle, 
where Dan was. 

^'Hist, Dan!'' said I, ^^give me a man's rig-out — a jer- 
sey and some breeches and a cap — quick, and, while the old 
fellow stared and whistled softly, I helped to ransack his 
ho^ ; and in n trice I had dressed myself, putting my pis- 
tols, my papers, and my money in my new clothes; hut 
leaving everything else in a heap on the floor. 

^^Dan,'' I said, ^*that Italian is going ashore, and I'm 
going to follow him. No, you mustn't come, qr the thing 
will be spoilt. Tell the forward look-out to see nothing if 
the fellow passes, and get my rubber shoes from my 
trunk." 

Dan scratched his head again, and must have thought 
that I was qualifying in lunacy ; but he got the shoes, and 
not ft momftit too soon, for, as I came on deck, I saw a 
shadow on the gangway. The man was leaving the yacht 
at that moment, and I followed him, drawing my cap right 
pyer my eyes, and lurking behind every inch of cover. 

Once out into the city, and having turned two or three 
time^ to satisfy himself that he had no one after him, 
Paolo struck for Broadway; thence with staggering gait, 
^he result of hk weakness, he made straight for the City 
Hall, at which point he turned and so got into Chatham 
Street and the Bowery. At last, after a long walk, and 
when the man himself was almost falling from the exer- 
tion of it, he stopped before an open door in the dirtiest of 
the streets through which we had come, and disappeared 
instantly, I came up to the door almost as soon as he had 
passed through ; apd found myself before a steep flight of 



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138 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

steps, at the bottom of which through a glass partition I 
could see men smoking and drinking, and hear them bawl- 
ing uncouth songs. 

It was a fearful hole, peopled by fearful men; all 
nations and all sorts of villains were represented there; 
low Englishmen, Frenchmen, Russians, even niggers and 
Chinamen ; yet into that hole must I go if I would follow 
Paolo to the end. 

You may forgive me if I hesitated a moment; waited 
to balance up the odds upon my recognition. I might have 
decided even then that the risk was too great, the certainty 
of discovery too palpable; but at that moment a party of 
six hulking seamen descended the steps before me, and, 
taking advantage of the cover of their shoulders, I pulled 
my cap right over my face and passed through the swing- 
ing door with them into the most dangerous-looking place 
I have ever set foot in. 

The room was long and narrow; banked its whole 
length by benches that had once been covered with red vel- 
vet, but now showed torn patches and the protruding wool 
of the stuffing. Mirrors were raised from the dado of the 
seats to the frieze of the smoke-blackened ceiling ; but they 
were for the most part cracked, and some had lost much of 
their glass. The accommodation for drinkers consisted of 
marble-topped tables, old and worn and stained with the 
dirt which was characteristic everywhere of the foul den; 
but there was nothing but boards beneath one*s feet; and 
the wretched bar at the uppermost end of the chamber was 
no more than a plain deal bin with a high stgol behind it 
for the serving man; he being a great negro grotesquely 
attired as a man of fashion. Indeed, had not the whole 
promise of the place been so threatening, I should have 
paused to laugh at thii dusky scoundrel, whou while hat 



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MOTHER CATCH. 139 

sat jauntily on the side of his woolly head, and whose well- 
cut black coat was ornamented with a great bunch of white 
flowers. But there was evil in this man's face, and in the 
faces of the others who sat close packed upon the faded 
couches; and when I had paused for a moment to take 
reckoning of the room, I passed quickly to a bench near the 
door, and there sat wedged against a fair-haired seaman, 
whose look stamped him to be a Russian. 

The scene was very new to me. I had heard of these 
drinking dens in that low quarter of New York called the 
Bowery ; but my American friends had cautioned me often 
to have no truck with them should I visit their city. They 
spoke of the poor regard for life which prevailed there ; of 
murders committed with an impunity which was as as- 
tounding as it was impossible for the police to suppress ; of 
mysterious disappearances, mysterious alone in the lack of 
knowledge as to the victim's end ; and they conjured me, it 
I would see such things, at least to go under the escort of 
the police. All this I had paid scant attention to at the 
time; but the reality was before me with its grim terror. 
The room was filled with the scum of sea-going humanity ; 
foul smoke from foul pipes floated in choking clouds to the 
dirt-begrimed ceiling; great brown pots of strong drink 
were emptied as though their contents had been milk ; hor- 
rid blasphemies were uttered as choice dishes of speech; 
ribald songs rose in giant discord as the spirit moved the 
singers. Now and again, betwixt the shouting and the 
singing, a young girl, whose presence in such a company 
turned my heart sick, played upon a harp, while to serve 
the crew with liquor there was a mahogany-faced hag 
whom the men addressed as "Mother Catch." An old 
crone, bent and doubled like a bow, yet vigorous in her 
work, and shufliing with quick steps as she laid down the 



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I40 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

jugs, or took the uncouth orders so freely given to her, she 
seemed to hdve the eye of an hawk ; nor did I escape her 
glitnce, for I had not been seated before the marble table a 
moment when she shuffled up to me and stood glaring with 
her shining eyes, the very presentnlent bf an old-time witch. 

"Ha!" sht said sharply, "ha! a sailor boy in proper 
sailor clothes ; ho, little man, will ye wet yer throat for a 
pretty gentleman?" 

I did not like her mock courtesy, or the way in which 
she pronounced the word "gentleman;" but I called for 
sotne beer to get her away, and when she brought it I 
remembered that I had no American money ; but I put an 
English florin before her and waited for the change. She 
hissed at the sight of it like a serpent about to strike. 

" Ha I Englishman ! and no money ; ho ! ho ! ye Vc got 
to fitid itj little man. Mother Catch likes youj but she 
spits on it!" 

She spoke the last words in such a loud voice that 
several itten near me turned to look, arid I feared to be- 
cottie the centre of a brawl. This would have defeated 
everything, so I threw her a half-sovereign, and, feigning 
her own savage merriment, I said — 

"Odd) little woman, English gold; spit on it for luck, 
little Woman;" and I am bound to say that she did so, 
hobbling out of the room with the gold piece clenched in 
her nut-cracker jaws. Then I began to search with my 
ey^ for Paolo ; and, although the smoke was very thick, I 
saw him seated near the drinking-bar, a tumbler of brandy 
before him, his arms resting bn the edge of the cotmter 
where the liquor was sold. I judged then that he had 
made no idle visit to this place; and in a quarter of an 
hour or so my surmise was proved. The glass door again 



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Tfi£ ttA6 RAtSMS MER VOICE. 141 

sWUhg dpett ; thrtfe inch entfcred through it, and I ricdg- 
hised the thirfc^ df thetti in a moment. The first wis thi 
Ifishtiidh, "Fdur-Eyfcs;^' the second was the lantern-jawed 
Scotsman, who had been addressed in Paris is ''Dick the 
Rantfcr;" the third was '^Roaring John," into whose face 
Dan had emptied the contents of his dlick-gun three days 
bfefOre. The ruffiail had his mbuth all bound iri a bloddy 
tag, so I hugged myself at the knowledge that he had been 
Wi*ll hit; but he was in nowisfe depressed; and, although 
the gun had stopped his speech, he smacked Paolo on the 
back when he greeted him, dnd tht others sbon had their 
laces in the great brown jiigs. 

Thfc sight of this company warmed ml to ihe work. I 
seemed td stind on the threshold of discovery, if only I 
could follow them hence to Black's house the whole aim of 
my journey would be fulfilled. And why not? I said; 
they will leave this place and go to their leader sbme tihie 
— if not nowj at least to-morrow; and why should I lose 
tdilch with them ? So far it was certain that my presence 
wa$ undiscovered. The Hdg had suspicion of me, but not 
in their way ; the riien were too biisy, I thought, talking of 
their dwn affairs to meddle eveii with their neighbours. 
Dan knew on what business I Had left the shipj and would 
quieten Rodferick's alarm for me; It was plain that for- 
tune had turned kindly eyes on me. 

I sat sipping the beer and smoking an old clay pipe^ 
which I had foUnd in the breast-pocket of Dan's garment^ 
dbing these things to escai^ the rematks which the neglect 
of them would hare occksioried, whfcn there was some 
change ih the bibulous entertaihment as yet provided for 
us in the drink-hole. The hag raised her voices worn to a 
croak with long scolding, and shrieked — 

i . : . " • .. • . - • - ■ ' 



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142 THE SHADOIV ON THE SEA. 

"Jack's a-going to dance for ye! Silence, pretty boys. 
Ho! ho! Jack the Fire-Devil, will ye listen then? And it's 
help me move the tables ye will. Master Dick, or ye're no 
minister that I took ye ior. Back, my pretty gentleman, 
lest I throw me vitriol on ye. Ha! but they love me like 
their own mother!" 

She poked round with her stick at the seamen's feet, 
compelling them to fall back, and to make a ring for the 
dancer in the centre; and I saw with no satisfaction that 
the foul-mouthed villain who was called the "Ranter" 
came to give her his help to the work. 

"Hoots, mither," he cried in his broadest Scots, "did 
ye mistake that I was a gentleman frae the Hielands o' 
bonnie Scotland? And I'll be verra glad to throttle some 
for a wee cup o' yer pretty poison. So ho ! ye lubbers, it's 
an ower-fine discoors for a summer Sawbath that my boot 
will teach you. Mak' way, mak' way!" 

Thus, with unctuous mockery and rough menace, the 
fellow followed the fury round the room, and forced the 
drunken crew to the wall. He came to my seat; but 
I buried my head in my hands lest he should have carried 
the memory of my face from Paris ; and he passed, having 
taken no notice of me, as I hoped. Soon he had made a 
great ring for the dancing; and one of the long mirrors 
opened, showing a door, whose existence I had not sus- 
pected ; and a great negro with a flaming fire-pot entered 
the room. His entry brought applause ; but he was a com- 
mon quack of a performer at the beginning, for he made 
pretence to eat the fire, and to bring it up again from his 
vitals. Then, to some wild music from a fiddler, he bound 
coils of the flaming stuff about his head; and, the lamps 
being lowered, he gave us a weird picture of a man danc- 
ing, all circled with flame ; working himself up until I re- 



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THE IRON CURTAIN. 143 

called pictures of the dervishes I had seen in the old quar- 
ter of Cairo. It was an extraordinary exhibition, and it 
pleased the men about so that they roared with delight. 
I was watching it at last as intent as they were; but my 
attention was suddenly diverted by the sense that some- 
thing under the marble table at which I was sitting was 
pulling at my leg. I looked down quickly, and saw a 
strange sight: it was the black face of the lad Splinters, 
who had been treated so brutally in Paris. He, crouching 
under the table, was making signs to me, earnest, meaning 
signs, so that without any betrayal I leant my head down 
as though upon my hands, and spoke to him — 

"What is it, lad?" I asked in a whisper. "What do 
you want to say?" 

"Don't stop here, sir!" he answered in a state of great 
agitation. "They know you, and are going to kill you!" 

He said no more, crawling away at once; but he left me 
hot with fear. The mad dance was still going on, and the 
room was quite dark save for the glow cast by the spirit 
flames about the huge negro. It occurred to me at once 
that the darkness might save me if only I could reach the 
door unobserved ; and I left my seat, and pushed amongst 
the men, passing nearer and nearer to the street, until at 
last I was at the very portal itself. Then I saw that a 
change had been made while I had been sitting. The 
doors of glass were wide open, but the way to the street 
without was no longer clear — an iron curtain had been 
drawn across the entrance, and a hundred men could not 
have forced it. 

This was a terrible discovery. It seemed to me that the 
iron door had been closed for an especial purpose. I knew, 
however, that when the dance was over some of the au- 
dience would wish to go out, and so I waited by the cur* 



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144 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

tain until the lamps were turned up, and the negro had 
disappeared. The n^en were then about to push their tables 
to the centre again, but the hag raised her voice and^ 
cried — 

^^As you are, my pretty gentleipen; it's only the first 
part yeVe been treated to. No, no ; ye don't have the door 
drawn till yeVe sieen yer mother danpe awhile. Good 
boys, alj of ye, there's work to do ; ho ! ho ! work to dp, and 
Mother Catch will do itl'' 

At the words "work to do" a strange silence, which I 
did not then understand, fell on the company. Somehow, gU 
the men immediately around me slunk gway, and I found 
myself standing quite alone, with many staring at me. The 
four men whom I most feared had turned their backs, and 
wer^ busy with their mugs; but the rest of the assembly 
had eyes only for the terrible woman and for myself. 
Presently the discordant music began again. The hag, who 
had b«en bent double, reared herself up with a "Ho!" 
after the fashion of a Scottish sword-dancer, and began to 
make a wretched shuffle with hpr feet. Then she moved 
with a hobble and a jig to the far end of the room ; and she 
called out, beginning to come straight down to the door 
whereby I stood. I know not what presentiment fore- 
warned me to beware as the creature drew near; but yet 
I felt the danger, and the throbbing of my heart. That I 
could hope for help amongst such a crew was put of the 
question. I had my revolver in my pocket, but had I 
fihewn it twenty barrels would have answered the folly. 
There was nothing to do but to face the screeching 
woman; and this I did as the unearthly music became 
louder, and the stillness of the men was speaking in its 
depth. 

At the last, the old witch, who had danced for some 



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J CRASHING BLOW. 145 

moments at a distance of ten paces from the spot where I 
stood, became as one possessed. She made a few dreadful 
antics, uttered a piercing shriek, and hurled herself almost 
on me. In that instant I remember seeing the three men 
with Paolo suddenly rise to their fcet, while the others in 
the room called out in their excitement. But the hag her- 
self drew from her breast something that she had con- 
cealed there; and^ as dhe stood within a )rard of me, she 
brought it ci-ash Upon ttiy head, and all my senses left me. 



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146 



CHAPTER XIII. 

ASTERN OF THE "LABRADOR." 

Complete unconsciousness is a blessing, I think, which 
comes rarely to us. Sleep, they say, is akin to death; yet 
I have often questioned if there be an absolute void of 
existence in sleep; and I am sure that in few cases where 
a blow robs us of sense does the brain cease to be active 
or to bring dreams in its working. I have been struck down 
unconscious twace in my life; but in each instance I have 
suffered much during the after-days from that trouble of 
mind which is akin to the feverish dream of an exhausted 
system. Horrid sights does the brain then bear to us; 
terrible situations; weird phantoms known to the opium- 
eater; wild struggles with unnatural enemies; wrestlings 
even for existence itself. All these I knew during the days 
that followed my rash visit to the drinking den. How 
long I lay, or where, I know not to this hour; but my 
dreams were very terrible, and there was a fever at my 
head which the ice of a great lake scarce could have cooled. 
Often I would know that I had consciousness, and yet I 
could not move hand or foot, so that the terror moved me 
to frenzies of agony, though my lips were sealed, and I 
felt myself passing to death. Or I would live again 
through the night when Martin Hall died, and from the 
boat where I watched the holocaust, I climbed to the 
shrouds of the cutter, and stood with my poor friend in the 
very shelter of the spreading flames. Or I struggled with 
Black, having hunted him to his own quarter-deck, and 



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IN AN OPEN BOAT. 147 

there with great force of men I sought to lay hands on 
him ; but he escaped me with a mocking laugh, and when 
I looked again the deck was empty. 

For short moments the delirium must have left me. 
Once I opened my eyes, and knew that the sun shone upon 
me, and that the breeze which cooled my forehead blew 
from the sea ; but my fatigue was so great that I fell asleep 
in the next instant, and enjoyed pure rest during many 
hours. When I regained consciousness for the second 
time, it was because rain beat upon my face, a drizzling 
warm rain of late summer, and there was spray from a 
fresh sea. For some minutes I set myself to ask where I 
was ; but I knew that I was bound at the left hand and at 
my feet, and, to my unutterable astonishment, when I 
raised my head, I saw that I lay in an open boat which 
was moving very slowly, but my feet were towards the 
stem of it, and, as my head lay below the level of the gun- 
wale, I could see nothing of the power which moved the 
boat or of the scene about us. 

It was a long time before my throbbing head let me put 
together a chain of thought to account for my position. 
The scene at the drinking den would not at first come back 
to me, think as I would ; but when it did, the clue which 
was lacking came with it. There could be no doubt that 
I had walked into a trap, and that the hag who had struck 
me had been in the pay of Paolo and his crew. These men 
must have taken me as I lay, and so brought me to this 
boat; but v/hat time had intervened, or where I was, I 
knew no better than the dead. Only this was sure, that I 
was in the hands of one of the greatest scoundrels living, 
and that, if his past were any precedent, my hours of life 
would be few. 



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148 THE iH4DQW QN THM SEA. 

I cannot tell ypq why it wa?, but strangp tq say, this 
reflection di4 not give me very great alarm at the moment. 
Perhaps I suffered too much from bodily weakness, and 
would have welcomed any release, even death; perhaps I 
was buoyed up with that eternal hppe which bears its 
most generous blossom in the springtime of life. In either 
case, I put away the thought of danger, and spt to the task 
of conning my position a littlp more cjosely. The boat in 
which I lay was painted white, and was pf elegant build, 
ghe had all the finp lines of a yacht-s jolly-boat; and when 
I raised my head I could see that her fittings had been put 
in only at great expense. She was not a large boat, but 
the centre seat had been removed from her to let me lie on 
a tarpaulin which covered her keel, apd the stern seat h^4 
been used to bind my fpet. A second t^rpaulifi, folded 
twice, had been propped under n\y head, l)Ut my hit hand 
was bound close to the bow thwart, ^nd there was a rope 
doubled round my right forearm so that I could not raise 
myself an inch, though my right han4 was free. The 
meaning of this apparent neglect I soon leafnt. There was 
a flask pn the edge of the tarpaulin which supported m' 
head, and by it half a do?en rather fine captain's biscuits. 
I had a prodigious thirst on me, and I drank fropi the 
flask; but found it to contain weak brandy, and would 
willingly have exchanged thrice its contents fpr a Ipng 
draught of pure water. But the hjscuits I cpuld not 
touch ; and I began to be chijled with the rain which fe}l 
copiously, and with jhe sea which sent spray in fpuqtain? 
upon my body. 

Up to this time, I had heard no sound of hMn>an voices, 
but the silence w^s broken at last by a shQut, and the bo^f 
ceased to move. 

"All hands, make sail!" cried someone, apparently above 



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TfiE roicf. OF '^rovf^'EYm' h9 

mp; fm4 ^ftpr that I he§r4 thP "yP-he^vp'' ol thp TOPP hiwl" 

ingi ^ I ju^gej}, (It ^ m^in-s^jl. Tbp ^pcpqd qr4pr, 
"Sheets hqmp!" prPYPd tQ me th^t I wa§ bphipcj ft sailing 
ship, perhaps g y^cht which thp§e mPH hft4 secured, ft$ they 

gfit Iq Frdffff— ^n4 bHrnt her. 1 5h^44prp4 ftt the ^cQn4 

fhPWght, ftnd my heft4 heg^ft tP bum ftgaJR 4espite the wet. 

Ri4 thpy me^n tp le^ve me there un^il ^hc end pf it, 

when the cold and my wound should do their wprk? Hftd 
tblfF fpfgo^^en me? Hftd thpy any re^qn for kepping me 

^iye? 1/[y qupstipps wprp in p^rt answered by » fwdden 
shout from the deck pf the ship. 

*^{lo, PiU, is the ypung 'up gpnc?'^ 

"No, my hearty, he's gone ftbo)»t!'' 

^'Getting his spirits 4amP«d, I reckon." 

"Some, ypq bet.-' 

And then I hp^r4 ^ voicp i kpfw, the ypipp pf the 

Irishman, "Fpur-Eyps." 

^^Is it thp bpi ye're mindin', bp4^4?" 

"Ay, sir, hp's mQve4 ft ppint." 

"Thp ppor divil. Throw him a sheet pne ay yer; it'$ 
me^lf thftt's not bringing the gyvner a deftd bp4y when he 
wants g liyp pne, be Saint Pftthrickl" 

Thpy trip4 tq throw me ft sheet as the mftn hft4 Pr4pre4, 

bqt wp hftd begpn tP movp rapidly again, ^nd I hpftrd it 

ffill in the wgter by my heftd- Thpugh there was mpre 

hailing, the thud of the chpppy sea ftgftinst the bo^t fpr- 
bftdp any mprp hearing, and the sheet neypr rpache4 me? 

Yet the mpn hft4 tpjd me something with thpir wprds, and 
I pppdered Ipng on the rpmftrk qf the Irishman, thftt the 
^^gqvner" wanfed me ftliye. It c:^p)ftine4 mwch; and it 
put bpyond dqwbi the j^^^q^ why I had not bppn klUe^ in 
the drinking 4pnr It wa§ quite clpar thftt my life wi^s sgfp 



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ISO THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

from these men until they reached their chief ; but where 
he was I had no notion, except he were on the nameless 
ship ; and, if that were so, to the nameless ship I was going 
— that ship of horror and of mystery. Nor could I remem- 
ber anything in what I knew of Captain Black to lead me 
to the hope that such a voyage was other than one to 
death, and perhaps to that which might be worse than 
death itself. 

When this strange progression had lasted about an hour, 
the rain ceased and the sun shone again with renewed 
power, drying my clothes upon me, and giving me pro- 
digious thirst. I struggled to reach the flask, and in doing 
so I found that the ropes binding my right arm were tied 
with common hitches, such as any sailor could force; and 
my experience as a yachtsman let me get free of them with 
very little trouble. I did not sit up at once, for I feared to 
be seen from the decks; but I turned my head to look at 
the boat which towed me, and saw that she was a barque- 
rigged yacht after the American fashion ; her name Labra- 
dor being conspicuous across her stern. My boat, which 
was no larger than I had thought, was towed by a double 
hawser ; but no man watched me from the poop, and I lay 
down again reassured. The hope of escape was already in 
my head, for I judged that we could not be far from New 
York, although no land was visible on the horizon. It 
occurred to me that if they would only let me be until 
night I could get my left hand and my feet free; and, as 
the hawser was passed through a ring at the bow, I needed 
but a knife to complete the business. But I had no knife, 
for a search in my pockets proved that I had been relieved 
of all my valuables and trifles; and I knew that another 
way must be found, and that ingenuity alone would help 



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A CAN OF HOT STUFF. 151 

me. So I sat thinking; and all the long afternoon — I 
knew it was afternoon, as I saw the sun sinking in the 
horizon and heard the bells, moreover — I examined such 
devices as came to me, only to reject them and to seek for 
others. 

Towards the second bell in the second "dog" there was 
a change in the monotony of the scene. I heard an order to 
heave the barque to, and presently I made haste to put the 
ropes back in their places and to await the happening. I 
felt all motion cease, and then someone bawling at the 
hawser, so that the jolly-boat was pulled against the side of 
the bigger ship; and, looking up, I saw half-a-dozen of 
Black's gang watching me from the quarter-deck. Then a 
ladder was put over the bulwark, and Four-Eyes himself 
cried out not in an unkindly tone — 

"Gi-me the soop, bhoys, and let*s get it in him; begorra, 
the diviril have him afore the skipper if it*s no mate you're 
givin* him!'' 

He came down the ladder with a great can of steaming 
stuff; and the sea having fallen away with the sun to a 
dead calm, he stepped off the ladder to the stern seat, and 
then bent over me. But I saw this only, that he had a 
knife in his belt ; and I made up my mind in a moment to 
get it from him. 

"The young *un from Paris,'' he cried, as he took a long 
look at me, "and near to axin* for a priest, by the houly 
saints; but I was tellin' ye to stop where ye was, and it's 
no thanks ye were giving me. Bedad, and a pretty place 
ye*re gomg to, sorr, at your own wish — the divil knows 
what's the end av it — but sup a bit, for it's fastin' ye are 
by the luk av ye, and long gone at that!" 

Kindly words he gave me; and he held to the rope 
with one hand while he put the can of hot stuff to my lips 



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i54 TH& SHAt>Onr ON THE SEA. 

With the 6th€t, I drank hall of it with great gUp^, feel- 
ii^g th^ warmth sf^read through my body to my very toes as 
the brdth wetit down ) and a great hope consoled me, iot I 
had his ktiif^, having snatched it from him when first he 
stooped, and it lay in the tarpaulin beneath me. The good 
luck 6t the theft made me quick to empty the pot of gravy ; 
and i^hcn I had returned the cati^ Four-Eyes went over the 
side again, and tha yacht moved onward lazily in the softest 
of breezes from the west* But my boat lay behind her 
again ; and I did not stir from my restful position Until it 
was full dark ; thdugh the going dowh of the sUn had left 
a clear night and a zenith richly set with a shimmet of 
staii, which did not give any great promise to my thotightst 
oi coming freedom. 

When I deemed that I had waited long enough, and had 
adored myself that the later night would not be mdre 
atispicious for the attempt, t cut away the remaining rbpes 
at my feet, and crouched unbound in the boat. There Was 
good watch upon the ship, I knew, for I could hear the 
*' All's well!^' as the bells Were struck, and the passing of 
the orders from the poop to the fo'castle. This did not 
detet me ; and, being determined to stake all rather than 
face the terrors of the nameless ship, I crawled to the bdw, 
and began to cut the strands of the hawser one by One. 
The rope was very thick and hard, and the knife which I 
had stolen was blunts so that the work was prodigiously 
slow and difficult ; and when I had been at it for half an 
hour or more^ I was interrupted in a way that sent my 
heart almost into my mouth. There was a man standing 
on the poop of the Labrador, and he seemed to be Watching 
my occupation, t threw my$tU flat instantly, and listened 
to his hail. 



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NQ 04RS. IS3 

"Ahoy thcr?, young *wii, 4re you gpuing a chUl?" cried 
» Wuff vQipB, wjiicb I 4id not rccogpj^ir; but presently the 
lU^ Fpur-EyP^ hailc4 alw, ^4 J he^r4 him 5ay— 

"Jf It's 4e^4 ye are, wJH y<B hf sending wor4 W to us?" 
fin4i ^ng the mopd, I bawled with ^U my strength — 

"Tm aU right; but ril call out for some more of that 
soup of your? just now." 

Th(5y gftye a great shout, and one of thcni said — 

^*Ypu ken calcer}at(5 ez ypu will be gettin' it aU nice en' 
hot when ypw ineet the old 'un in the ipomin' ;" and the 
crew roared with laughter at the sally, and disappeared 
pne by one from the pppp. Then I whipped out my l^nifc 
ag^n, an4 with 4 frw vigorous strol^es I cut the rope clean 
tbrpughi ^nd fe)t my hpat gp swirling away on the bJ^c^:- 
wash? It was a mpmpnt pf supreme excitea»nt, and I 
lay quite flat, waiting to hear if I were missed; but I 
beard no spund, and lopking around me presentlyi I ^^yr 
the ya^ht a mile away, and I knew that I was a {ree n^an* 

The 4eHght of tbe enterprise would have been intent if 
my unexpected success h#4 npt aUowe4 me to fprget PRC 

thing whpn I h?d mad« my hasty plans. Thne wer^ no 

ggr^ i^ (he b^af. The terribly truth came to me as J %ed 
the seat and PTf^P^red tp put greater distance between the 
i^^r^yrfflr and my^lf* Put pne look round cpnvinced me 
that th? ppsitipn was bppeless. With the exception of the 
tarpaulins, the seats, and the tiller, the boat wa§ m^^f' 
niihe4f As I ihpught of these thing?, an4 remembfre4 
that I wa^ §ome hundreds pf mil^ from land, that J h^^ 
a eottple pf biscuits for food, and half a flas|c pf brandy 
^d water fpr 4rink, I experience4 a tcrrpr greater ^h^P 
any I have known ; an4 so weak was I with sickness, an4 
so Iqw with the 4isapppintmpnt of it, th^t I put my b^a4 



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154 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

between my hands and sobbed like a great child who has 
known a childish sorrow. Only when the tears had dried 
upon my face, and there was that after-sense of resignation 
which follows a nervous outbreak, did I upbraid myself 
for a weakling, and set to think out plans for my release. 
I had no compass, but, taking the north through the 
"painters," I tried to make out the course in which I was 
drifting; yet this, I must confess, was a hopeless task. I 
thought that the boat was being carried by a steady cur- 
rent ; yet whether the current set towards the land or away 
from it, I could not tell. 

When a couple of hours had passed, and I could see the 
yacht no longer, I took a new consolation in the thought 
that I must, after all, be in the track of steamers bound out 
from, or to. New York ; and in this hope I covered myself 
in the tarpaulins and lay down again to shield myself from 
the wind which blew with much sharpness as the night 
grew. I did not sleep, but lay half-dazed for an hour or 
more, and was roused only at a curious light which flashed 
above me in the sky. Its first aspect led me to the con- 
clusion that I saw a reflection of the Aurora ; but a second 
flash altered the opinion. The light was clearly focussed, 
being a volume of intensely bright, white rays which passed 
right above me with slow and guided motion, and then 
stopped altogether, almost fixed upon the jolly-boat. I 
knew then what it was, and I sat up to see the great beams 
of a man-of-war's search-light, showing an arc of the water 
almost as clear as by the sun's power. The vessel itself I 
could not make out; but I feared at once that fate had 
sent me straight to the nameless ship; and that the very 
misfortune I had thought to have undone was brought 
home to me. Yet I could not take one step to defend my- 



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T^E ARC OF LIGHT. 155 

self, and must perforce drift on, to what end I knew not. 
The light shone in all its brightness for some five min- 
utes, then died away suddenly, and on the spot whence it 
had come I could just distinguish the dark hull of a 
steamer. To my vast consolation, she had two funnels 
and three masts, and I remembered that Black's boat had 
but one funnel and two masts, so that good fortune seemed 
to have come to me at last. Over-delighted with the dis- 
covery, I stood up at my risk in the jolly-boat and waved 
my arms wildly; when, as if in answer, the search-light 
flashed out again and bathed me in its refulgent beams. 
Some moments, long moments to me, passed in feverish 
conjecture; and then in the pathway of the light I saw in 
all distinctness the outline of a long-boat, fully manned, 
and she was coming straight to me. There could be no 
more doubt of it; I had passed through much suffering, 
but it was all child's play to the "might have been;" and 
in the reaction I laughed aloud like an hysterical woman, 
and blushed to remember those great tears which had 
rolled over my face not an hour gone. And all the time I 
never took my eyes from the boat; but feasted on it as a 
beggar-child feasts in imagination on the ^auds of a 
groaning table. Its progress seemed slow, woefully slow ; 
the men in it made me no manner of signal, never gave an 
answer to my erratic hand-waving ; but, what was of more 
consequence, they came in a bee-line towards me, and the 
radiating light never moved once whilst they rowed. In 
the end, I myself broke the silence, shouting lustily to 
them, but getting no answer until I had repeated the call 
thrice. The fourth cry, bud and in something desperate, 
brought the response so eagerly awaited ; but when I rec- 
ognised the voice of him who then hailed me I fell down 



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136 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

again in nly bbat with a heart-stticken biirst of sorrow, for 
the yoic6 was the Irishmaii's^ aild Four-Ey^ spoke — 

"Avast hailin', young 'im/' he cried j "^c ain't gpin* 
to part along o* jrout soeifety no more^ don't you be 
ffettin'/^ 

They dragged me into their boat^ dnd, taking my own 
in tow, they rowed rapidly, to the distant steamer, on 
whose deck I stood pi-esently; but not without profound 
fear, fof I knew that at last I was a prisonei on tfie name- 
less ship. 



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157 



CHAPTER XIV. 

\ 

A CABIN IN SCARLET. 

Theri was light from six lanterns, held by giant negroes, 
to greet me when I had mounted the ladder and was at 
last on the deck of the great ship; but none of the men 
spoke a word, nor could I see their faces. Of those who 
had brought me from the jolly-boat, I recognised two be* 
sides ''Four-Eyes" as men whom I had seen in Paris^ but 
the Irishman appeared to be the captain of them; and, in 
lack of other leader, he spoke when all were aboard, but it 
was in a monosyllable. ''Aft I" he said, looking round to 
see if anyone else was near; and one of the men silently 
touched me upon the shoulder, and I followed him along a 
narrow strip of iron deck, past a great turret which reared 
itself above me, and again by the covered forms of quick- 
firing guns. We descended a short ladder to a lower 
deck ; and so to the companion way, and to a narrow pas- 
sage in which were many doors. One of these he opened, 
and motioned me to enter, when the door was closed noise- 
lessly behind me, and I found myself alone. 

My first feeling was one of intense surprise. I had 
looked to en^er a prisoil; but, if that were a prison, then 
were lack of liberty shorn of half its terrors. The cabin 
was not large, but one more artistic in effect was never 
built* Hung all round with poppy-coloured silk, the 
same material made curtains for the bunk — which seemed 
of unusual size, and furnished with sleep-bespeaking mat- 
tresses. It was employed also for the cushions and cover- 



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158 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

ing of the arm-chair and the couch, and to drape the 
dressing-glass and basin which were in the left-hand cor- 
ner. It seemed, indeed, that the whole room was a har- 
mony in scarlet, with a scarlet ceiling and scarlet hangings ; 
but the luxury of it was unmistakable, and the feet sank 
above the ankles in the soft Indian rug, w^hich was ornate 
with the quaint mosaic-like workings and penetrating col- 
ours of all Eastern tapestry. For light, there was an arc- 
lamp, veiled with gauze of the faintest yellow; and upon 
the table in the centre was a decanter of wine and a box 
of cigars. The room would have been perfect but for a 
horrid blot upon it — a blot which stared at me from the 
outer wall with bloodshot eyes and hideous visage. It was 
the picture of a man's head that had been severed from the 
body; and was repulsive enough to have been painted by 
Wiertz himself. The picture almost terrified me, but I 
thought, If no worse harm befall me what odds? and I 
sat down, all wondering and dazed, and drew a cigar 
from the box upon the table. The wine, of which I drank 
nearly a tumblerful, put new courage of a sort into me; 
and so, troubled and amazed, I began to ask myself what 
the proceeding meant, or what the portent of it all could 
possibly be. 

My conclusion was, when I thought the whole position 
out, that the man Black could be showing me this marked 
consideration only for some motive of self-interest. It was 
evident that he had been aware of my intention to follow 
him from the moment when Roderick purchased our new 
steam-yacht. He had put one of his own men craftily up- 
on the ship to watch us, and had made a bold attempt to 
deal with us in mid-Atlantic. Foiled there, he had taken 
advantage of my folly in entering such a place as the Bow- 
ery, and had given orders that I should be carried to his 



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A FLOATING TOMB. 159 

own ship — for I knew then that the strange craft he 
owned was capable of many disguises — and should be 
carried alive. Why alive, if not that he might learn all 
about me, or that a more dreadful fate than mere death 
should be mine? I had seen the appalling end of poor 
Hall, the merciless severity with which his death had been 
compassed; why should I expect more gentle usage or 
other recompense? If ever man had been trapped, I had 
been; and, beneath all my placid self-restraint, I felt that 
my life was not worth an hour's — nay, perhaps ten min- 
utes* — purchase. It was as if I had been taken clean out 
of the world with no man to extend me a helping hand. 
Roderick, truly, would move Heaven and earth to reach 
me, but what could he hope for against such a crew; or 
how should I expect to be alive when he brought his at- 
tempts to a head? And I thought of him with deep feel- 
ings of friendship at that moment, and wondered what 
Mary would say. She will be serious, I argued, for the 
first time in her life, and they will know much anxiety. 
Yet that must be — in the floating tomb where I lay I 
could hope to send no word to the living world which I 
had left. 

I had smoked one cigar in the cabin, listening to the 
tremendous throb of the ship's screws, and the swish of 
the sea as we cleaved it, when the electric light went out, 
and I was left in darkness. The sudden change gave me 
some alarm, and I cocked my revolver, being resolute to 
account for one man at least, if any attempt were made up- 
on me ; but when I had sat quite still for some half-an-hour 
there was no noise of movement save on the deck above, 
and my own cabin remained as still as the grave. It ap- 
peared that I was to be left unmolested for that night at 
any rate; and, being something of a philosopher, I waited 



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l6o THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

for another hour or so, and finding that no one came near 
me, I undressed and lay down in one of the most seduc- 
tive beds I have met with at sea. I did, indeed, take the 
precaution of putting my Colt under the pillow ; but I was 
so weary and fatigued with my sufferings in the open boat 
that I fell asleep at once, and must have slept for many 
hours. 



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i6i 
CHAPTER XV. 

THB FRISON OF STEEL. 

I AWOKE in the day, but at what hour of it I know not 
The red curtains opposite to my bunk were drawn back, 
admitting dull light from a port-hole through which I 
could look upon a tumbling sea, and a sky all girt with 
rain-clouds. But I had not been awake five seconds 
when I saw that my arm-chair was occupied by a man 
who did not look more than thirty years old, and was 
dressed with all the scrupulous neatness of a thorough- 
going yachtsman. He was wearing a peaked cloth cap 
with a gold eagle upon it, a short jacket of blue serge, 
with ample trousers to match, and a neat pair of brown 
shoes; while his linen would have touched the heart even 
of the most hardened blanchisseuse of the city. He had a 
bright open face, marred only by a peculiarly irritating 
movement of the eye, which told of a nervous disposition ; 
and there was something refined and polished in his voice, 
which I heard almost at once. 

*^Good morning to you," he said; "I hope you have 
slept well?" 

"I have never slept better; it must be twelve o'clock, 
isn't it?" 

"It's exactly half-past three, American time. I didn't 
wake you before, because sleep is the best medicine in 
your case. I'm a doctor, you know." 

"Oh I you're the physician-in-ordinary to the crew, I 
suppose; you must see a good deal of practice." 

He looked rather surprised at my meaning remark, and 
then said quite calmly , "Yes, I write a gpod many death 



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i62 THE SHADOtV ON THE SEA. 

certificates; who knows, I may even do that service for 
you?" 

It was said half -mockingly, half-threateningly ; but it 
brought home to me at once the situation in which I was; 
and I must have become serious, which he saw, and en- 
deavoured to turn me to a lighter mood. 

"You must be hungry," he exclaimed; "I will ring for 
breakfast; and, if you would take a tub, your bathroom 
is here." 

He opened the door in the passage, and led the way to 
a cabin furnished with marble and brass fittings, wherein 
was a full-sized bath and all the appurtenances for dress- 
ing. I took a bath, and found him waiting for me when I 
had finished. We returned to the scarlet room, and there 
spread upon the table was a meal worthy of Delmonico's. 
There was coffee served with thick cream; there were 
choice dishes of meat, game, pies, new rolls, fruit, and the 
whole was finished with ices and bon-bons in the true 
American fashion. My new friend, the doctor, said noth- 
ing as I ate; but when the repast was removed he pushed 
the cigars to me, and taking one himself, he began to talk 
at once. 

"I regret," he said, "that I cannot supply you with a 
morning paper; but the latest journal that I can lend 
you is a copy of the New York World of Saturday last. 
There is a passage in it which may interest you." 

The paper was folded and marked in a certain spot. I 
read it with blank amazement, for it was a full account of 
the nameless ship's attack upon the American cruiser and 
the Ocean King. The paper stated shortly that both ships 
had been impudently stopped in mid-Atlantic by a big 
war-vessel flying the Chilian flag; that the cruiser had 
been seriously damaged and had lost twenty of her men; 



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PROFOUND SENSATION. 163 

while a shell had been Ared into the fo'castle of the pas- 
senger-ship and two of her men killed, with such other de- 
tails as you know. The matter was the subject of a pro- 
found sensation, not only in America, but throughout the 
world. The Chilian Government had been approached 
at once, but had repudiated all knowledge of the mysteri- 
ous ship. Meanwhile war-vessels from England, Amer- 
ica, and from France had set out to scour the seas and 
bring such intelligence as they could. The whole account 
concluded with the rumour that a gentleman in New York 
had knowledge of the affair and would at once be inter- 
viewed, with the result, it was hoped, of disclosing that 
which would be one of the sensations of the century. 

When I had put the paper down, the doctor, who fol- 
lowed me with his eyes, said laughingly — 

"You see that interview was unfortunately interrupted. 
You are the gentleman with the full particulars, for we 
know that your friend Stewart plays a very small part in 
the affair. Without your energy, I think I may say that 
he is little less than a fool." 

"Hardly that, as you may yet discover," I said, seeing 
instantly which way safety lay; "he knows as much as I 
know." 

"Which is not very much after all, is it? — but that we 
must have fuller knowledge of. I am here to iask you to 
write accurately for us a complete account of every step 
you have taken in this matter since you were fool enough 
to follow Martin Hall, and poke your nose into business 
which did not concern you. As you know, Hall was pun- 
ished in the Channel ; you saw his end, as I hear from my 
comrade Paolo. We have spared you, and may yet spare 
you, if you do absolutely what we tell you," 



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i64 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

*^And otherwise?" 

He smiled cruelly, and his eyes danced when he an- 
swered — 

"Otherwise, you would give all you possessed if I would 
shoot you now as you sit ,* but don't let us look at it that 
way. You must see that your case is utterly hopeless ; you 
will never look again on any civilised city, or see the face 
of a man you have known. For all purposes you are as 
dead as though twenty feet of earth covered you. If you 
would still have life, not altogether under unfavourable 
conditions, you have but to ask for pen, ink and paper— 
and to make yourself one of us." 

"That I will never do!" 

"Oh, you say that now; but we shall give you some 
days to think of it. Let me advise you to be a man of 
common-sense, and not to run your head against a stone 
wall. Believe me, we are a curious company ; I don't sup- 
pose there is a man aboard us who has not some deaths to 
his account. I am wanted for a murder in Shropshire; 
but I am giving your people a little trouble. Ha! ha!" 

This was said with such a fearful laugh that I shrank 
back from the man, who restrained himself with an effort 
as he rose to go; but as he stood at the door, he said*-^ 

"We are now bound on a four-days' voyage. During 
these four days, you need fear nothing. We should have 
paid off our score in the Atlantic, and sent you and your 
fellows to join other intrusive friends of ours, if we had 
not wished to get this little account of yours. So don't 
disturb yourself unnecessarily until Captain Black puts 
the question to you. Then, if you are foolish, you had bet- 
ter feed your courage. I have seen stronger men than you 
who have cried out for death when we had but put our 



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I COME TO A CONCLUSION, 165 

fingers on them; and we shall do you full honour — in 
fact, we shall treat you royally." 

When he was gone, I thought that he had spoken with 
truth. To all my friends I was as dead as though twenty 
feet of earth lay on my body. What hope had I, shut in 
that grave of steel ? What friend could hear me, battened 
in that prison on the sea? Should I tell the men frankly 
all I knew, and crave their mercy, or should I seek hope 
in the pretence that Roderick had information which might 
yet be fatal to them ? I thought the position out, and this 
was the sum of it. These men had a home somewhere. 
If I had known where that home was, and had communi- 
cated the knowledge to Roderick, then the Governments 
of Europe could bring the ruffian crew to book with little 
difficulty. That, without doubt, was the question Black 
would put to me. He would wish to know all I knew; 
but, if I refused to tell him, he would proceed to ex- 
tremes, and I shuddered when I remembered what his ex- 
tremes had been in the case of Hall. The man undoubt- 
edly had conceived a scheme daring beyond any known in 
the nineteenth century. The knowledge of his hiding- 
place was the key to his safety. If Roderick had it, then, 
indeed, I might have looked for life ; but I knew that Hall 
had never discovered it, and what hope had Roderick 
where the greater skill had failed? 

This conversation led me to one conclusion. I would 
pretend that I had some knowledge, and that my friends 
had it too. If that did not save my life, God alone could 
help me, and the home of Captain Black would be my 
grave. Nor did I know in any case that I had much ex- 
pectation of life in such surroundings or in such com- 
pany. 



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i66 
CHAPTER XVI. 

NORTHWARD HO! 

During some days I saw no more of the doctor, or of any- 
one about the ship save an old negro, who became my serv- 
ant. He was not an unkindly-looking man, being of a 
great age, and somewhat feeble in his actions ; but he never 
opened his lips when I questioned him, and gave a plain 
"Yes" or "No" to any demand. Those days would have 
been monotonous, had it not been for the ever-present 
sense of coming danger, of a future dark and threatening, 
likely to be fruitful in trial and in peril. Each morning 
at an early hour the age-worn black entered my cabin and 
told me that my bath was ready. When I was dressed, a 
breakfast, generous in quality and in quantity, was set up- 
on my cabin table. At one o'clock luncheon of like excel- 
lence was served; and again at five o'clock and at eight, 
tea and dinner. Some thought evidently was given to my 
condition, for on the second morning I found clean linen 
with a neat suit of blue serge awaiting me in the bath- 
room, and when I had breakfasted, the black brought a 
parcel of books to me ; I found amongst them, to my satis- 
faction, several light works by Bret Harte, Mark Twain, 
and Max Adeler, as well as more solid literary food. The 
books saved me from much of that foreboding which I 
should have known wanting them, and after the first fears 
had passed I spent the hours in reading or looking through 
the port-hole over the deserted waste of fretful sea. I had 
hoped to learn something of our destination from this dili- 
gent watching of the waves ; but for the first forty hours^ 



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SNOtr^PfHlTE PINNACLES 167 

at any rate, I saw nothing — not so much as a small ship — ^ 
though it fell much colder ! and again on the third day the 
lower temperature was yet more marked, so that I wel- 
comed fresh and warmer clothing which the negro brought 
me for my bed; and observed with satisfaction that there 
were means within the ship for heating the cabin during 
the day-time. 

It must have been on the fourth day after my capture 
that the nameless ship, which hitherto had not been speed- 
ing at an abnormal pace, began to go very fast, the rush 
of water from the head of her rising frequently above my 
port, and permitting but rare views of the distant horizon. 
The greater speed was sustained during that day until the 
first dog-watch, when I was disturbed in my reading by 
the consciousness that the ship had stopped, and that there 
was much agitation on deck. I looked from my window 
and observed the cause of the confusion, for there, ahead of 
us a mile or more, was one of the largest icebergs I have 
ever seen. The mighty mass, from whose sides the water 
was rushing as in little cataracts, towered above the sea 
to a height of four or five hundred feet, rising up in three 
snov/-white pinnacles which caught the crimson light of 
the sinking sun and gave it back in prismatic hues, all 
dazzling and beautiful. As a great island of ice, alj rich 
in waving colour and superb majesty, the berg passed on, 
and the screw of the steamer was h-ard again. I watched 
intently, hoping to see other bergs, or, indeed, any ships 
that should tell me Kow far we had gone towards the 
North; but the night fell suddenly, and the negro served 
dinner, asking me if I had warmth enough. My curt 
answer seemed to astonish him; but the truth was that I 
was thinking of the man Paolo's words when sick upon 



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i68 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

my own ship. He had cried, "Ice, ice," more than once 
in his delirium; but none of us then had the meaning of 
his cry. Yet I had it, and with it a notion of the second 
secret of Captain Black. For surely he was running to 
hiding ; and his hiding-place lay to the north, far above the 
course even of Canadian-bound vessels, as I knew by the 
number of days we had been steaming. 

This new surmise on strange openings did not in any 
way combat the terror which visited me so often in that 
floating prison. Every day, indeed, seemed to take me far- 
ther from humanity, from friends, from the lands andrfhe 
peoples of civilisation. Every day confirmed me in the 
thought that I was hopelessly in this man's grip, the vic- 
tim of his mercy, or his rigour ; that none would know of 
my end when that end should come; no man say "God 
help you!" when at last the fellow should show his teeth. 
Such dire communings robbed me of my sleep at night ; led 
me to books whose pages passed blurred before me; made 
me start at every rap upon the cabin door ; brought me to 
fear death even in the very food I ate. Yet during the 
week I was a prisoner on the ship no harm of any sort 
befell me. I was treated with the hospitality of a great 
mansion, served with all I asked, unmolested save for the 
doctor's threat. 

And so the time passed, the weather growing colder day 
by day, the bergs more frequent about my windows ; until 
on the evening of the seventh day the ship stopped sud- 
denly, and I heard the anchor let go. This was late in 
the watch, at the time when I was in the habit of going 
to bed; but hearing great movement and business on the 
deck I sat still, waiting for what should come ; and after 
the lapse of an hour or more I found that we were moving 



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''THE MASTER WAITS.'' 169 

very slowly again, and with but occasional movements of 
the screw. I opened my port, and could hear loud shout- 
ings from above, and although there was no light of the 
moon, I could see enough to conclude that we were pass- 
ing by a great wall of rock, and so into some harbour or 
basin. 

The work of mooring the ship was not a long one when 
once we had come to a stand. When all was done the 
noise ceased, and no one coming to me I went to bed as 
usual. On the next morning I got up at daybreak, and 
looked eagerly from my spying place; but I could discern 
only a blank cliff of rock, the ship being now moored 
against the very side of it. The negro came to me at the 
usual hour, but he brought a note with my breakfast ; and 
I read an invitation to dine with Captain Black at eight 
o'clock on that evening. You may be sure that I wel- 
comed even such a prospect of change, for the monotony of 
the cabin prison had become nigh unbearable; and when 
at a quarter to eight that evening the old man threw open 
the door and said, "The Master waits!'' I went with 
him almost joyfully, even though the next step might 
have been to my open grave. 

He led the way up the companion ladder, which was, in 
fact, a broad staircase, elaborately lit with the electric 
Jight; and so brought me to the deck, where there was 
darkness save in one spot above the fore-turret. There a 
lantern threw a great volume of white light which spread 
out upon the sea, and showed me at once that we were in 
a cove of some breadth, surrounded by prodigiously high 
cliffs; and the light being focussed straight across the bay, 
disclosed a cleft in these rocks leading apparently to a fur- 
ther cove beyond. I had scarce time to get other than a 
rough idea of the whole situation, for a boat was waiting 



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I70 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

at the gangw'ay, and the negro motioned to me to pass 
down the ladder and take my scat in the stern. The men 
gave way at once, keeping in the course of the search-light, 
and rowing straight to the cleft in the cliffs, through which 
they passed ; and so left the light and entered a narrower 
fjord, which was ravine-like in the steepness of its sides, 
and so dark, that one could see but a narrow vista of the 
sky through the overhanging summits of the giant rocks. 
This second cove opened after a while into a lake, above 
whose shores, at a high spot in the side of the precipice on 
the left hand, I observed many twinkling lights, which 
seemed to come from windows far up the face of the cliff. 
These lights marked our destination, the men rowing 
straight to them; and I found, when we came near the 
precipitous shore which bound the fjord, that there was a 
rough landing-stage, cut in the rock, and that an iron 
stairway led thence to the chambers which evidently 
existed above. 

When we had come ashore, and had been received there 
by several men who held lanterns, and had the look of 
Lascars, the negro conducting me pointed to the iron 
stairway and told me to mount, he following me to the 
summit, where there was a platform and an iron door. 
The door opened as we arrived before it, and there standing 
by it I found the young doctor, who greeted me very 
heartily and appeared to be altogether in a merry mood. 

"Come in," he said, "they're waiting for you; and this 
infernal cold gives men appetites. This way — but it isn't 
very dark, is it?" 

We were in a broad passage lit by the electric light — a 
passage cut in a crystal-like rock, whose surface had al- 
most the lustre of a mirror. At intervals facing the cove 
were incisions for windows, but these were now hung over 



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A ROOM HUNG tVITH SKINS. 171 

with heavy curtains; and there were cupboards and pegs 
against the rock wall on the opposite side to make the place 
serve the purposes of a hall. The passage led up to a sec- 
ond door — this one built of fine American walnut ; and we 
passed through it at once into a room where I was aston- 
ished to see indisputable evidence of civilisation and of re- 
finement. The whole chamber was hung round with su- 
perb skins, the white fur of the Polar bear predominating; 
but there were couches cushioned with deep brown seal; 
and the same glossy skin was laid upon the floor in so many 
layers that the footfall was noiseless and pleasantly luxu- 
riant. The furniture otherwise was both modern and ar- 
tistic* A heavy buhl-work writing-table opposite the door 
was littered with maps, books, and journals; there was a 
secretaire book-case, in Chippendale, by the side of the 
enormous fire-place, in which a great coal fire burned ; and 
above tliis was an ivory overmantel of exquisite work; a 
grand piano, open and bearing music, was the chief orna- 
ment of the left-hand corner; while another Chippendale 
cabinet, filled with a multitude of rare curiosities, com- 
pleted an apartment which had many of the characteristics 
of a salon and not a few of a study. 

But I had not eyes so much for the room as for the 
solitary occupant of it, who sat before the writing-table, 
but rose after I had entered. One glance assured me that 
I was face to face with Captain Black — the Captain Black 
I had seen at the drunken orgie in Paris; but yet not the 
same, for all the bravado and rough speech which then fell 
from his lips was wanting; and his "Come in!" given in 
answer to the young doctor's knock, was spoken melo- 
diously in a rich baritone voice that fell very pleasantly 
upon the ear. When he stepped forward and held out his 
hand to me, I had the mind almost to draw back from 



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172 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

him, for I knew that the man had crime heavy upon him ; 
but a second thought convinced me of the folly of making 
a scene at such a moment; so I took the great hard hand 
and looked him full In the face. He was not so tall as I 
was, but a man who appeared to possess colossal strength 
in his enormous arms and shoulders ; and one not ill-look- 
ing, though his black beard fell upon his waistcoat, and his 
jacket of seal was loose and ill-fitting. The strange thing 
about our meeting was this, however. When he had taken 
my hand, he held it for' a minute or more, looking me 
straight in the face with an interest I could not under- 
stand; and, indeed, he then forgot himself entirely, and 
continued to gaze upon me and to shake my hand until I 
thought he would never let it go. 

When at last he recovered himself it was with a quick 
start. 

"I am glad to see you," said he; "dinner awaits us," 
and with that we passed into another chamber, hung with 
skins as the first was, but containing a dining-table laid for 
four persons in a very elegant manner, with cut glass, and 
silver epergnes laden with luscious-looking fruit, and the 
best of linen. The light came from electric lamps in the 
ceiling, and from other lamps cunningly placed in a great 
block of ice, which formed the central ornament. Nor 
have I eaten a better dinner than the one then served. 
The only servant was a giant black, who waited with a 
dexterity very singular in such a place; and the guests of 
the Captain were the young doctor, the Scotsman known 
as Dick the Ranter, and myself. The Scotsman alone 
displayed signs of that rollicking spirit of dare-devil which 
had characterised the meeting in Paris; but the Captain 
soon silenced him. 



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THE SCOTSMAN SAYS GRACE. 173 

''D'ye ken that weVe no said grace?" remarked the 
lantern-jawed fellow, as we sat to table; and then, 
raising his hands in impudent mockery, he began to mutter 
some blasphemy, but Black turned upon him as with the 
growl of a wild beast* 

"To the devil with that," said he. "Hold your tongue, 
man!" 

'*^'ic Scotsman looked up at the rebuke as though a 
thunderbolt had hit him. 

"Verr^ wecl, mon; verra weel,^' he muttered; "but 
yeVe unco melancholy the nicht, unco melancholy." And 
then he fell to the silence of consumption, eating pro- 
digiously of all that was set before him ; but in high dudg- 
eon, as a man rebuked unworthily* Of the others, the 
doctor alone talked, chatting fluently of many European 
cities, and proving himself no mean raconteur. I listened, 
in the hope of getting some idea of what was intended in 
my case; also, if that could be, of the situation of this 
strange place in which I found myself; for as yet I knew 
not if it were to the North of America, or, indeed, in what 
part of the Arctic Sea it might be. To my satisfaction 
the captain made no attempt to conceal the information 
from me. The first occasion of his speaking during dinner 
was in answer to a remark of mine that I found the room 
very pleasantly warm. 

"Yes," he said, "you must feel the change, although 
you will feel it more when we get winter here. You 
know where you are, of course." 

I said unsuspectingly that I had not the faintest idea, 
when he cast a quick glance at the doctor, and the latter 
slapped ttie on the back quite joyously. 

"Bravo!" he cried. "That prevents our putting one 



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174 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

unpleasant question to you, anyway. I knew that your 
innuendo in the cabin was all make-believe.'' 

"Of course it was," added the captain; "but the knowl- 
edge of it saves our bustling you. However, this isn't the 
time for talk of that sort. I may tell you, since you do not 
know, that you are on the west coast of Greenland, and 
that there is a Danish settlement not fifty miles from you 
— although we don't leave cards on our neighbours." 

He called for champagne then, and gave a toast — """-*e 
new recruit!" I did not raise my glass with the others, 
which he saw, and became stern. 

"Well," said he, "I won't have you hurried, and you're 
my guest until I put the straight question to you. When 
that happens you won't think twice about the answer, for 
we can be very nasty, I assure you. Now try a cigar. 
These are good. They came from the collection of Lord 
Remingham, who was on his way to America a few weeks 
ago." 

"And met with an unfortunate accident," said the 
doctor, with mock seriousness, which was taken up by the 
Scotsman, who remarked in his best drawl — "May his 
soul ken rest!" and they all shouted with infamous 
laughter; but I listened with a morbid interest when the 
doctor continued — 

"It's astonishing how good the quality of the tobacco 
and the champagne is on board these ocean-going steamers ; 
now this Bolinger '84 was the special pride of the skipper 
of the Catalanta, which unhappily sank in the Atlantic 
through the sheer impudence of the man who commanded 
her. As he liked it so much, I broke a bottle over his 
head before we sent him to the devil, with five hundred 
others." 



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BLACK RISES. 175 

"Ye may say, in fact, that he made the acquaintance o' 
the auld man wi* the flavour o' this gude stuff on him," 
said the Scotsman, which made them laugh again; but 
Black was satiated with the banter, and he rose from the 
table suddenly as the man Four-Eyes entered. 

"This pleasant party must disperse," he said to me; 
"you can go to the quarters we have provided for you, un- 
less you would like to see more of us. We are well worth 
seeing, I think, and we may give you some idea of our 
other side." 

"I should like to sec everything you can show me," I 
replied, being aflame with curiosity to know all that the 
strange situation could teach me; and then he made a 
motion for the others to follow, and we passed from the 
room. 



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176 
CHAPTER XVII- 

ONE SHALL LIVE. 

The way from the dining-room was through a long pas- 
sage lighted with arc lamps at intervals, and having the 
doors of many rooms on the right-hand side of it. Several 
of. these doors were open ; and I saw the interiors of well- 
furnished bedrooms, of smaller sitting-rooms, and of a 
beautifully furnished billiard-room. At the end of the 
passage, we descended a flight of stairs to another landing, 
where there was a steep rock-slope, leading right through 
the cliff almost to the level of the water. This proved the 
way to a small stretch of beach which was at the upper- 
most end of the fjord ; and here I found several substantial 
buildings of stone, evidently for the use of Black's com- 
pany. The largest of the houses seemed to be a kind of 
hall, well lighted by arc lamps. Into this we passed, lift- 
ing a heavy curtain of skins ; and seated there, on all sorts 
of rough lounges and benches were the men I had seen in 
Paris, with fifty or sixty others, no less ferocious-looking 
or more decently clad. There were negroes in light check 
suits and red flannel shirts; Americans in velveteen coats 
and trousers; Italians mufiled up in jerseys; Spaniards 
playing cards before the roaring fire; half-castes smoking 
cheroots and drinking from china pots; Englishmen lying 
wrapped in rugs, asleep, or bawling songs to a small au- 
dience, which gave a chorus back in mellifluous curses; 
Russians drunk with spirits; Frenchmen chattering; Chi- 
nese mooningly silent : over all an atmosphere of smoke and 
foul odours, of fetid warmth and stifling heaviness. 



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THE NIGGERS BRING CHAMPAGNE. iH 

As ^k ^nter^d the plicc the din wis deafehing, d 
iticdley of shouts dhd baths, of songs ind execrations ; but 
it ceased When the taptilih bawled "Silence!" and art un- 
usual stillness prevailed. The niatl FbUt-Eyes, who was 
divays the immediate "go-tetwefch'' so far as the captaitt 
and crew were concerned, at once piit chairs for us near 
the hugfe fire-plact, s^ttiri^ a great irm-chair for thfe skip- 
per, with a tablfc wherfebn were rtiany papfers, and a sttiall 
wooden hammer such as the chairman of a meetihg com- 
tnbnly uses. Black took his s^at irt thfe grfeat chair, \Vith 
thfe doctor, the Scdtsmah, ahd myself aroUrtd hiiti; and then 
he hai-angiied the then. 

"Boys," he said, "we*re home again. I give ydU luck 
ori it— and swill it ddWri ih liqUbr." 

I nbtitfed that he had put oh with his entry ittto the 
fdoiii all his old fifercehess of manner artd coarseness. He 
shouted out his words whenevfei* hfe spoke, and emphasised 
thfelli With bdnis of thfe hattiriler upori the table. The call 
lot wifte Was insWfered by some of the rtlggers fetching Ih 
cases bf champa^ttfe, artd soon thfe stuff Was rUnning ih 
evfcrjr part of the hall. The Captain Waited until the 
hieh Wfei-fe dHnkirigi arid theh tohtiriUfed: 

'*! glieiss, boys, the hext thing tb do is tb rtiakfe our 
calcUlalioHS. W^'Ve had a shiai-t mbhth's wbrki and therfe*s 
a matter of two hundred and fifty pbuHds a mah waiting 
fbr ybU Whfen hext ybli fbot it in New Vork. 'that's my 
calculation ; and if thfere's bne of you dbUbtS it, he cah 
^ the figures." 

Ht waited fbr thefai to speak, but they gave him ortfy a 
grtat shdiit bf aptiJtbval, WhfeH hfe bfecahie mbre sfetious. 

"Ybii know, lads, thferell be a spell of hbltday here for 
Jrdui Which JrdU may retkoh that I fegtet as tiiuch as any df 



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178 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

you. The skipper of the American cruiser has made hell 
in Europe, and there's twenty cruisers out after us if 
there's one. That I snap my fingers at; but fighting isn't 
the game for you and me, who are looking for dollars ; and 
we won't hurt to lie low until the spring. Has any man 
got anything to say against that?" 

There was not a word in answer to the threatening 
question; and then Black, bracing himself up to anger, 
went on — 

"I now come to speak of a bit of business which you 
all want to hear about. There was two of you refused a 
double watch when we left the Yankee cruiser. Let 'em 
step forward." 

One man, a dark-visaged Russian, with a yellow beard, 
stepped to the table at the words, but he was alone. 

"Where is Dave Skinner?" asked the captain in a calm, 
but horridly meaning, voice. 

"I guess he's sleeping on it," said the man Roaring 
John, whom I noticed for the first time, curled up on a 
bench in the corner, the bandages still upon his face. 

"Kick him awake, the blear-eyed bullock," said Black, 
and the kicking was done right heartily; the subject, a 
huge man with dark hair, closely cropped, and a stubby 
beard, rising to his feet and looking round him like one 
dazed with strong drink. 

"Wall," said he, speaking to Roaring John, "you big- 
booted swine, what d'ye reckon ez you want along o' me?" 

"Ask the skipper, cuss," replied the other, pushing the 
sleepy man forward to the chair where the Russian stood ; 
and then Black began to speak to them quite calmly — 

"Boys," he said, "I got it agen you that you refused 
my orders, and refused them at a pinch when me and the 



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''GIVE 'EM knives:' 179 

rest of 'em ran for our lives. Each of you lays the blame 
for this on the other, ahd Tm not going to haggle about 
that. You know what we're bound by, and that I can't 
go beyond what's written any more than you can go beyond 
it. There are two of you in this, and you settle your own 
differences— one of you lives. John, give 'em knives!" 

As I heard these words, amazed and doubting, the men, 
without any other incitement, and uttering no remark, 
stripped oflE their coats and stood naked to the waists. The 
crew about left oflE their games and drew near, forming a 
ring round the men, who had taken up great clasp-knives, 
and were evidently to fight for their very lives. I knew 
then the meaning of the words "One of you lives:" and 
an excitement, strange and full of morbid interest, took 
possession of me. 

That the men were to fight, and fight to the death, was 
sufficiently terrible; but a savour of horror was added 
to the dish by the flagrant unfairness of the conditions 
under which they fought. The American, Skinner, was 
thickly built, and of a sturdy physique. He had the better 
of his man in height, in reach, in physical strength; for 
Tovotsky, as I heard the Russian called, was a man of 
small stature, rather a shred of a man, full hairy about his 
breast, yet giving small signs of hardihood, or of power. It 
seemed to me that he might well have protested against 
the manner of the contest, and urged that a fight with 
knives would go to the stronger, skill being no part of it ; 
but he said nothing, wearing an air of sullen determina- 
tion, while his antagonist bellowed at him, as though to 
overawe him by cheap bravado. 

"Stand up right here, so ez I ken stick you, boss," he 
cried, when they faced each other; adding as the Russian 



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i8o THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

dodged him: "Wh^t, my he^fty, have ye ^ot the tasje of 
It already? — now steady, ye yellpw-haired buzz§r4; 
steady, ye skunk; whije I make hog*s meat of you." 

They stood crouched like beasts, of revolved about each 
other, the gleaming blades poispd in the air, their }pft 
hands seeking holding-pl^ce. Skiqner strucjf first^ Jiis kpife 
shining bright against the light as he slashpd at Toyotsjcy's 
throat, but the Russian 4ouble4 down betvyeen his legs, 
and the pair fell heavijy a yard away f^*pm pach otjier. 

^'Slit him as he lies, Dave!" "End him, Toy!" "Do 
you reckon you're a-bed?" Th^se and other equally ple- 
gant exclainations fell from the lips of the crew^ as the 
men lay dazed, fearful of miscjiief if they arose. But the 
Russian was first up, and springing at the other, who 
rolled aside as he came, he sept his knife home jn his op- 
ponent's back, and a great shout of "First blood!" turned 
me sick with the terror of it. Nor pould I )oqk at theni 
for some minutes, fearing tq ^e a q[iore repqlsive spectacle ; 
but when next I saw theni, they were crouching ag^in, an4 
the American was silent, undoubtedly suffering from hjs 
wound, which bled freely. Presently l^e made anpthef 
spring at Tovotsky, who ducked dqwn, bqt got a slit apross 
his shoulder, whereon he sent up ^ howl of pain, and 
ran round and round the ring; while the other followed 
him making lunges terrible to see, but dojng no more misr 
chief. The effort took the breath out of both pf them, apd 
they paused at last, panting like dogs, and drinking spirits 
which their friends brpught them. When ^l]ey resumed 
again, it was by mutual agreement, rushing at each other, 
and gripping. Each man then had got }iold of the xl^^t 
hand of his antagpnist, so that the deadly knives were 
powerless, while the pair struggled, trying to "back-heel" 



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BELLOPfING LIKE BULLS. i8i 

efich other. Round and round they went, bumping against 
their fellows in the circle, straining their muscles so that 
they cracj^ed, uttering fierce cries in the agony of the 
struggle for life. But the American had the strength of 
jt, and he forced Tovotsky*s hand back upon him, stabbing 
him witt) his own knife again and again, so that the man's 
breast was covered with wounds, and he seemed like soon 
to faint from weakness. It might have been that he would 
have died where he stood, but by some terrible eflfort he 
forced himself free ; and with a howl of a wild beast, he 
thiryst his own knife to the hilt in the American's side. 
It l)foke at the handle; but the long blade was left im- 
bedded in the flesh, and the force of the blow was so over- 
whelming that Skinner drew himself straight up with 
death wf ittep in his protruding eyes and distorted features. 
Yet hp had strength to seek vengeance, for his antagonist 
had now no weapon left to him, which the American saw, 
and ran after him with a scream of rage ; when Tovotsky 
fled, breaking the ring, and scudding round the great 
room like a maniac. There Skinner followed him, crying 
with pain at every movement, almost foaming at the 
mouth ^s his wiry enemy eluded him. At last the Russian 
approached the door, his opponent being within a few feet 
oif bin), but the smaller man fell headlong through the cur- 
tain, and at that the death-agony came upon Skinner. He 
stqpped as though held in a vise, hurled his knife at the 
Russian, and fell down dead. The men gave a great 
shqut, and rushed from the place to find the other; but 
tjiey brought him in dead as he had fallen, and far from 
beiqg moyed at the ghastly sight, they holloaed and bel- 
lowe4 like bulls, coming to reason only at the skipper's cry. 
"Take 'em up to the cavern, some of you there, and lay 



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i82 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

'cm side by side to cool," he said brutally, and his orders 
were instantly obeyed. Others of the crew brought 
buckets and swabs unbidden, and cleansed the place after 
which Black addressed the men again as though the terri- 
ble scene was a thing of common happening. 

"Before I give you good-night," he said, "I want to tell 
you that weVe got a stranger with us; but he's here to 
stay, and he's in my charge." 

"Has he jined?" asked the blear-eyed Yankee, who 
had eyed me with much curiosity; but the captain an- 
swered — 

"That's my affair, and you keep your tongue still if 
you don't want me to cut it out; he'll join us by-and-by." 

"That's agen rules," said the man Roaring John, loafing 
up with others, who seemed to resent the departure. 

"Agen what?" asked Black in a tone of thunder, turn- 
ing on the fellow a ferocious gaze; "agen what, did you 
remark ?" 

"Agen rules," replied Roaring John; "his man broke 
my jaw, and I'll pay him, oh, you guess; it's not for you to 
go agen what's written no more than us." 

Black's anger was evident, but he held it under. 

"Maybe you're right," he said carelessly; "we've made 
it that no stranger stays here unless he joins, except them 
in the mines — but IVe my own ideas on that, and when 
the time comes I'll abide by what's done. That time isn't 
yet, and if any man would like to dictate to me, let him 
step out — maybe it's you, John?" 

The fellow slunk away under the threat, but there 
were mutterings in the room when we left; and I doubt 
not that my presence was freely discussed. This did not 
much concern me, for Black was master beyond all ques- 
tion, and he protected me. 



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A CHAMBER /i^ THE ROCK. 183 

We went back with him to the long passage where I 
had seen the doors of bed-chambers, and there he bade me 
good-night. The doctor showed me into a room in the 
passage, furnished both as a sitting-room and a bedroom, a 
chamber cut in the solid rock, but with windows towards 
the sea; and when he had seen to the provisions for my 
comfort, he, too, went his way. But first he said — 

"You must have been born under a lucky star; youVe 
the first man to yvhom Black ever gave an hour's grace." 



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IH 



CHAf^tER XVlti. 

tHte DEN OP DfiAtH. 

The bed ih which I lay was wondrous soft and do^riy; 
^hd the Gold gave me deep sleep, so that I awoke at a latfe 
hour to find the sun streaming through my rock window, 
and the negro telling me, as he was wont to do in the ship, 
that my bath was ready. The bath-room lay away a few 
paces from my chamber; but the water that flowed from 
the silver taps was icily cold; and I shivered after my 
plunge, though the beauty and luxury of the place com- 
pelled my admiration. It was no ordinary bath-room, 
even in its arrangement, the great well of water being 
large enough to swim in, and the basin of pure white mar- 
ble; while soft and brightly-coloured rugs were laid on 
the couches around, and the arched roof was Eastern in 
design and decoration. When we returned to my sleep- 
ing-place, I found the bed curtained ofi, leaving a com- 
modious apartment, with books, armchairs, a writing-table 
and a fire-place, in which a coal fire burned brightly. But 
the greater surprise was the view from my window, a 
view over a sunlit fjord, away to mountain peaks, snow- 
capped and shining; and between them to a vista of an 
endless snow-plain, white, dazzling, and not altogether 
unmonotonous, yet relieved by the nearer patches of green 
and almost garden-land which seemed to stretch towards 
the sea. 

My new home was, as I had thought, upon the side of 



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/ RECflVE JN QFFm^ 185 

4 |jpr4 which Jed through 9 c^nypn to the oytpr bs^sin. 
Th?rp was hc^ph ^t the uppfsr «jn4 of jt, an4 gra^s-land 
whcr^ wvcral canoes an4 kayaks lay; and I saw that m^y 
qf the men whp had watched the hprrors of the night wcf c 
wprking lustily npw, dragging stores and barr^Js frpm a 
hcavily-chargpd ?cre\y steamer which \yas anchored nP^J 
the heach. The rocks which hound the opposite side qf 
the bay did not appear to bp cut for dwellings as on qyr 
side; but I §aw traces pf several passages in thpn>; and 
away above them there was a sqiaU mountain peak hy 
which a riyer of ice ran intp the sea. But of ^he outer 
cave I cpuld observe nothjng; or of the shorp itself, 
though away at a greater distance, oyer some of the ra- 
vines, I made out the clear blue of the Atlantic, and a 
wajite qf peapefwl watpr. 

The doctor came to mp while I w^s at t}reakfj^st. If e 
was very cheerful, and bcg^n tq talk at oqce. 

"The captain sends yp^ his cqmplimpnts," he said; 
^*and hope§ you havp slept. Entxe no^H^, you kqow, \\t 
(Ipesn't care a bra§§ bwttpn |qr suph thiqgs, as wp sw lasf 
i^ight; but if we dj4n't keep discipline here, we shq4}4 
have pur throats cut in a week." 

I gave him civil words in rpturfi, and he went ot\ ^p 
speak of personal matters. 

f*The men are inclined to resent the exception that has 
been made in your case. I am afraid it will lead to f roqh!p 
hy-an4-by, pnless, pf cqurse, you choose to close with ^p 
pffcr that Black make? you." 

^fYou speak of an 'exception,* an4 an 'qffpr,' " ss^id I; 
^'hpj for the life pf we, I don't quite know what you 
meap. How has an exception heen n^ade in my <^<^e, at^d 
wh|t is the pfer?'' 



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i86 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

'^ I will tell you in a minute ; Captain Black has brought 
thirty or forty Englishmen of your position, or better, to 
this place within the last three years; not one of them 
has lived twenty hours from the time he set foot in the 
rock-house. As for the offer, it is evident to you that wc 
could not permit any man to share our privileges, and to 
be one of us, unless he shared also our dangers and our 
risks. In other words, the time will come when you must 
sign an agreement such as I have signed, and these men 
have signed — and I don't believe that you will refuse. It 
is either that, which means full liberty, plenty of money, a 
life which is never monotonous, often amusing, and some- 
times dangerous; or an alternative which I really won't 
dilate on." 

"You lay it all down very clearly," I replied, "but you 
can have my answer now if you like." 

He raised his hand laughingly. 

"Curse all emotion," he said, "it affects digestion. 
Black won't hurry you — why, for the life of me, I can't 
tell, but he won't. You can't do better than take things 
easy, and see the place. I've brought you a 'Panamsi,' 
for the sun can advertise himself at eight bells still; and if 
you have nothing better to do, put it on, and light a cigar 
as we stroll round." 

The idea of inspecting the place pleased me. I followed 
Doctor Osbart — for such his name was — down the rock 
slope we had trodden on the previous evening; and thence 
to the beach, hard and baked with the sun. The men, who 
had ceased the labour of discharging the steamer, were 
lying about on the grassy knolls, smoking and dozing, and 
they cast no friendly glances on me as we passed along the 
shore round the edge of the bay, and mounted a soft grass 



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NO LIKE TO HER. 187 

slope which led to the cliff-head on the other side. It was 
a long walk, but not unpleasant, in the crisp, sweet, odour- 
bearing air ; and when we had attained the summit, a glo- 
rious seascape was spread before us. All about were the 
white peaks and the basaltic rocks, towering above ravines 
where ice flowed, or falling away to bright green pastures 
which reindeer trod. The coast-line was lofty and awe- 
inspiring, often showing a precipitous face to the sea, which 
beat upon it with the booming of heavy breakers, and 
spread surf all foaming upon its ridges and promontories. 
I stood entranced with the vigour born of that life-giving 
breeze ; and the young doctor stood with me watching. At 
last he touched me upon the shoulder, and pointed to the 
first cave, where the nameless ship lay snugly moored in 
the creek, with many seamen at work upon her. 

"Look," he said, "look there, where is the instrument 
of our power. Is not she magnificent? Do you wonder 
at my warmth — ^yet why? for without her we here are 
helpless children, victims of poverty, of law, of society. 
With her we defy the world. In all Europe there is no 
like to her ; no ship which should live with her. Ask her 
for speed, and she will give you thirty knots; tell her that 
you have no coal, and she will carry you day after day and 
demand none. Aboard her, we are superior to fleets and 
nations ; we ravage where we will ; we laugh at the fastest 
cruisers and the biggest war-ships. Are you surprised that 
we love her?'' 

He spoke with extraordinary enthusiasm — the enthu- 
siasm of a fanatic or a lover. The great ship reflected the 
sun's glow from her many bright parts, and was indeed a 
beauteous object, lying there golden, yet swan-like, the 
guns uncovered as the men worked at them, and a newer 
lustre added to her splendour. 



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i88 THE StiADOft^ ON THE SEA. 

"Shfe 18 A Wbhdferful ship," said I, ^aiid bUilt dl hiettl 
I nt^tf TAtti ivith." 

"Her hull is cdnstfUcted of phosphor-brdhze," he aii- 
sWertd, "ahd she is driven by gas. Th^ inetal is the finest 
iri the wotld fbt all ship-building purposes, but its price 
is rtiitious. Nohe but d tnan Worth milliohs cduld build 
the like to her." 

"Theh Captain Black is sUch a matt?" I said. 

"Exactly^ or he AVoUldh't be the mastet df her— itid 
of EUtope. Doesn't it otcUt to ybu that you were i fool 
evei- to set out ott the enterprise bf coping with hirti?" 

I did not answer the tauHt^ but looked seaward, away 
across the west, Where Rdclerick ahd Mary were. The 
boundless si^i^ad of water teinitided ttie hdw small was 
the hope that I should evet see them again; ever hear k 
voice I had known in the old time, oi: clasp a hand in fel- 
lowship that had oft been dasped. They thought me 
dead, no doubt ; and to take the grief f torn them was for- 
bidden, then ^nd Until the end of it, I felt sure. 

But the dbctbr w^s still occupied with the great shiPi 
lobking down upon her as she tay^ and he called my atten- 
tion to a fact I had not been cognisant of. 

"We ate coaling here, do you see?" he said. "It was 
one of Black's inspirations to choose Greenland for his 
hole; it is one of the few comparatively uninhabited 
countries in the world where coal is to be had, somewhat 
of a poorer quality than the anthracite we are accustortied 
tb use^ but very welcome when we are close pressed. He 
is filling his burtkerl nbW, in case we should decide to 
break up this patty before the end of the \Vinter. That ^Wi 
depend on oUr friends over in Europe. We have given 
them A nightmare, but it won't last, and they'll go to bed 
again to get another." 



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''THEY DON'T LIVE.'' 189 

^^Who are yoiir minera?" I asked suddenly, interrupting 
him, for I saw tblit the rock above the nameless ship was 
pierced with tunnels leading down to the shafts, and that 
forty or fifty coal-black fellows were shooting the stuff into 
the bunkers. 

^^ These arc our guests/' he said lightly, ** honest British 
seamen whose voyages have been interrupted. We give 
them the alternative of work in the mine, or their liberty 
on the snow yonder," 

<*But how can they live in such a place?" 

He laughed as though the whole thing were a joke. 

^*Thcy don't live," said he. "They die like vermin." 

"Tm evidently afloat with a lot of fine-spirited fellows," 
said I; "or, to put it in plain English, with a beautiful 
company of blackguards." 

"Why not say with a lot of devils — that would be 
more accurate ! But you can't forget that you came to us 
unasked, and now you must stop." 

His leer at this sally was terribly expressive, and I 
showed all the contempt I felt for him, turning away to 
the sea fondly, as to the hope of my liberty, since thence 
only should it come. He read my thoughts, perhaps, tak- 
ing me by the arm with unsought pretence of kindness, 
and he said — 

"Don*t let's dissect each other's morals; we have the 
place to see, and you must be getting hungry. I will 
show you only one thing before we go — it is our ceme- 
tery," 

It was not a fascinating prospect, yet I followed him 
across the high plateau to the creek wherein the rock^house 
was, but to the side which was opposite to my bed-room 
window. There he descended the face of the cliff by 



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I90 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

rough steps, and entered one of the passages which I had 
observed from my chamber. The passage was long and 
low, lighted by ships* lanterns at intervals, and I discov- 
ered that it led to a great cavern which opened to the face 
of one of the glaciers going down to the sea on the fur- 
ther side. Nor have I entered a sepulchre which ever gave 
me such an infinite horror of death, or such a realisation 
of its terrors. 

The end of the cavern was nothing but a wall of ice, 
clear as glass, admitting a soft light which illuminated the 
whole place with dim rays, making it a place of mystery 
and of awe. Yet I had not noticed its more dreadful as- 
pect at the first coming; and, when I did so, I gave a cry 
of horror and turned away my face, fearing to see again 
that most overwhelming spectacle. For blocks had been 
cut from the clear ice, and the dead seamen had been laid 
in the frozen mass just as they had died, without coffin or 
other covering than their clothes. There they lay, their 
faces upturned, many of them displaying all the placid 
peacefulness of death; but some grinned with horrible 
grimaces, and the eyes of some started from their heads, 
and there were teeth that seemed to be biting into the ice, 
and hands clenched as though the fierce activity of life 
pursued them beyond the veil. Yet the frightful mauso- 
leum, the den of death, was pure in its atmosphere as a 
garden of snow, cool as grass after rain, silent as a tomb 
of the sea. Not a sound even of dripping water, not a 
motion of life without, not a sigh or dull echo disturbed 
its repose. Only the dead with hands uplifted, the dead 
m frozen rest, the dead with the smile of death, or the 
hate of death, or the terror of death written upon their 
faces, seemed to watch and to wait in the chamber of the 
sepulchre. 



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OSBART RAVES. 191 

I have said that the sight terrified me, yet the whole of 
my fear I could not write, though the pen of Death him- 
self were in my hands. So profoundly did the agony of it 
appeal to me that for many minutes together I dare not 
raise my eyes, could scarce restrain myself from flying, 
leaving the dreadful picture to those that should care to 
gaze upon it. Yet its spell was too terrible, the morbid 
magnetism of it too potent ; and I looked again and again, 
and turned away, and looked yet once more ; and went to 
the ice to gaze more closely at the dead faces, and was so 
carried away with the trance of it that I seemed to forget 
the dead men, and thought that they lived. When I 
recalled myself, I observed Doctor Osbart watching me 
intently. 

"A strange place, isn*t it?" he said. "Observe it 
closely, for some day you will be here with the others." 

I shuddered at his thought, and muttered, "God for- 
bid!" 

"Why?" he asked, hearing it. "It*s not a very fearful 
thmg to contemplate. I would sooner lie in ice than in 
earth — and that ice is not part of the glacier; it never 
moves. It is bound by the rock there which cuts it ofl 
from the main mass." 

"It's a horrible sight!" I exclaimed, shivering. 

"Not at all," he said. "These men have been our 
friends. I like to see them, and in a way one can talk to 
them. Who can be sure that they do not hear ?" 

It was almost the thought of a religious man, and it 
amazed me. I was even about to seek explanations, but a 
sudden excitement came upon him, and he raved incoher- 
ent words, crying — 

"Yes, they hear, every one of them. Dick, you black- 
guard, do you hear me? Old Jack, wake up, you old 



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192 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

gun I ThUhdct, yduVt killed ttiany a oiie Ih ydut day. 
Movt your pins, old Thunder! Thete*s work to dd — 
work to do — ^work to do!" 

His voice rartg out in the c^vetn, cchbittg ftoitl vault ib 
vault It was ah aWful contrast to hear his raViiig, and 
yet to see the rigid dead befort him. My surtnife^ that 
Doctor Osbart was a ttiaditlan was undoubtedly too triie ; 
and, horrified at the degetration, I dragged him from the 
cavern into the light of the suti, atld there I fouttd my- 
self trembling like a leaf, and as weak as a child. The 
cold crifep btee^e bi^ought the doctot to his sihses, btit he 
was absent and wahderihg, and he left tnc at the door df 
my roottii 



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193 
CHAPTER XIX. 

THE MURDERS IN THE COVE. 

For some days I saw no more of Doctor O^bart or of 
Captain Blaqk. My existence in the rock-hoysc seeprjed to 
be forgotten by therp> and where they were J knew not; 
but the negro waited en me every day, and I was provided 
with generous food and many books, I spent the hours 
wandfring over the cliffs, or the grass plains; but I dis- 
covered that the place was quite surrounded by ice-capped 
mountains and by snpw-fields, and that any hope of escape 
by land was njore than futile. Once or twice during these 
days I saw the man "Four-Eyes," and from him gained a 
few answers to my questions. He told me that Captain 
Black kept up communication with Europe by two small 
screw steamers disguised as whalers; that one of them, 
the one I 9aw, was shortly to be despatched to England 
for information, and that the other w^s then on the Amer- 
ican coast gleaning all possible news of the pursuit, also 
charging herself with stores for the colony. 

"Bcdad, an* we're nading 'em," he said in his best 
brogue, "for, wanting the victuals, it's poor sort av order 
we'd be keepin', by the Saints. Ye see, young 'un, it's 
y?fsclf gs is gt once the bottom an' the top gv it. *Wot*6 
be here for?' wys half av 'em, whjle the other half, which 
is the majority, they sgys, 'When's the old 'un a-sending 
bjm to Europe to cut our throgts?' they says; and there's 
the divil among 'cm — more divil thgn I ever seed." 

"It must be dull work wintering here," I said at ha?5- 
ard ; and ht took up the words mighty eagerly. 



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194 THk SHADOJV ON THE SEA. 

"Ay, an* yeVe put yer finger on it; sure, it's juSt then 
that there's work to do combing ov *em down, young *un. 
If I was the skipper, I wudn't sit here with my feet in me 
pockets as it was, but Fd up an* run for It. Why, look 
you, we're short av victuals already ; and we turn fifty av 
the hands in the mine ashore to-morrow!" 

"Turn them ashore — how is that?" 

"Why, giv' *em their liberty, I'm thinking: poor divils, 
they'll die in the snow, every one av them." 

I made some poor excuse for cutting short the conver- 
sation, and left him, excited beyond anything by the 
thought which his words gave me. If fifty men were to 
be turned free, then surely I could count on fifty allies; 
and fifty-one strong hands could at least make some show 
even against the ruffians of the rock-house. Give them 
arms, and a chance of surprise, and who knows? I said. 
But it was evident beyond doubt that the initiative must 
be with me, and that, if arms and a leader were to be 
found, I must find them. 

It might have been a mad hope, but yet it was a hope ; 
and I argued : Is it better to clutch at the veriest shadow 
of a chance, or to sit down and end my life amongst 
scoundrels and assassins? Unless the man "Four-Eyes" 
deliberately deceived me. Black would connive at the 
murder of fifty British seamen before another twenty-four 
hours had sped. These men would have all the anger of 
desperation to drive them to the attack ; and I felt sure 
that if I could get some arms into their hands, and help 
them to wise strategy, the attempt would at the least be 
justifiable. It remained only to ascertain the probability 
of getting weapons, and of joining the crew without mo- 
lestation; and to this task I set myself with an energy 



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A TOUR OF INSPECTION. 195 

and expectation which caused me to forget for the time my 
rascally environment, and the peril of my existence in the 
ice-haven. 

During the remaining hours of the day I engaged myself 
in searching the houses on the beach; but, although I 
looked into many of them, I found no sign of armoury, or, 
indeed, of anything but plain accommodation for living. 
Here and there in some rude dormitories I encountered 
lazy loafers, w^ho cursed at the sight of me ; and I did not 
approach the great common-room, for I knew the danger 
of that venture. But I made such a tour of the block of 
buildings as convinced me of the futility of any attempt to 
get arms from them, for such as were storehouses had iron 
doors and heavy locks upon them, and elsewhere there was 
scarce so much as a pistol. The discouragement of the 
vain search was profound, and in great gloom and aban- 
doned hope I mounted the steep passage to my own apart- 
ment, and sat down to ask myself, if I should not at once 
surrender the undertaking, and preserve my own skin. 
That, no doubt, was the counsel of mere prudence; yet 
the knowledge that fifty men would stand by me to the 
assault on the citadel of crime and cruelty haunted me and 
drove me from the craven prompting. I remembered in a 
welcome inspiration that Black had a stand of Winchester 
rifles in his study; I had seen them when I dined with 
him ; and, although there were not more than half-a-dozen 
of them, I had hopes that they would suffice, if I could get 
them, with knives and any revolvers I might lay hands 
upon, to hold a ring of men against the company, or at 
least to warrant a covert attack on the buildings below. 
This thought I hugged to me all day, going often to the 
iron platform above the creek to know if there were any 



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196 THt: SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

ftigti oi the release of the meti) or df preparation for getting 
rid of them I but I could see none, and I waited expect- 
antly, for it were idle to move a hand until those who 
should be my allies had their so-called liberty. 

Towards evening, when I was weary with the watch- 
ing, I returned to my room and found that the negro had 
spread the tea-table as usual, and I drank a refreshing 
draught, and began to (luestion him, if he knew anything 
of that which was going on below. He shook his head 
Stupidly ; but presently, when I had repeated the question, 
he said, laughing and showing his huge teeth — 

"Begar, you wait — plenty fire jess now— aplenty knock 
and squeal; oh yes, sar.'' 

^'Are they going to murder the men?" I asked aghast 

'^No murder j oh no, sar, no murder^ but plenty fight=^ 
ah, there he goes, sari" 

There was the sound of a gun-shot below in the creek; 
and I went to my window, and getting upon a chair, I saw 
the whole of a cruel scene. Some twenty of these seamen, 
black ds they had come from the coal-sh&ft, were going 
ashore from a long-boat; while an electric launch was 
bringing twenty more from the outer creek where the 
nameless ship lay. But the men who had first Unded were 
surrounded by the others of Black's company, and were 
being driven towards the hills at the back, and so to the 
great desolate plain of snow where no human thing could 
long retain life* From my open window, I could hear the 
words of anger, the loud oaths, the shouts, could see the 
blows which w^re received, and the blows which were 
given. Anon the fight became ^/(ity general. The pirates 
hit lustily with the butt-ends of their pistols; the hon^t 
fellows used their fl^ts, And many a man thejr laid hil 



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.Af COLD BLOOD. 197 

l^ng;th upon the rock. Yet there was no question of the 
sway of victory, for the prlsbiiers were unarmed, and the 
others outnumbered them hopelessly. Inch by inch they 
gave way, were driven toward the ravines and the count- 
less miles of snow-plain ; ^rtd as the battle, if such you 
eould call it, rilged, the armed lost control of themselves 
and began to shoot with murderous purpose. Death at 
last was added to the horrors, and, as body after body 
rolled down the rocky sloJ)e and fell splashing into the 
water, those unwounded took panic at the sight, and fled 
with all speed away up the side of the glacier mount ; and 
so, as 1 judged it must be, to their death in that frozen 
refuge beyond. 

When all was (juiet I shut my window, and sat in my 
chair to think. The negto had left me, and the whole 
place was very still. Neither Black nor the Doctor had 
showed during the scene of the massacre (for I could call 
it nothing else) ; and in the rock-house itself there was 
not so much as a footfall. I began to hope that the master 
of the place might chance to be away; and when datkness 
had fallen 1 went into the long passage then deserted, and 
found the door of his sitting-room ajar, but the place was 
dim within, and I feared to make an attempt to get the 
arms until I knew that all slept. But one misfortune 
could lie between myself and the aid which t should bear 
to these men — it was the chance that Black locked the door 
of his study when he slept. If he did not, I cduld get the 
rifles, and convey them across the bay to the other fellows ; 
if he did, all hopes were gone. 

At seven o*clock t dined as Usual, no one coming to me ; 
and at eight the negro had cleared away the repast, and 
had left me for the night I closed my own door, and for 



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198 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

three hours or more I paced my chamber, the fever of 
anticipation and of design burning me as with fire. It 
must have been eleven o'clock when at last I put out my 
light, and listened in the passage; yet heard nothing, not 
even the echo of a distant sound. 

Of the doors about, the majority were closed; but the 
Doctor's was open, and his room was in darkness, so that 
I began to fear that he was closeted with Black, and I 
went very stealthily, having left my boots behind me, to the 
man's study, and found that door ajar as it had been when 
I had come to it some hours before. This discovery set me 
almost drunk with hope. There was no doubt that both 
the men were away from their rooms, so that my time 
could not have been better chosen; and, more fearless in 
their absence, I pushed the door wide open and began to 
feel my way in the blinding dark. 

My first proceeding was to run upon some slight article 
of furniture, and to overturn it. The crash that followed 
echoed through the vaulted passages, and I stood quite 
still, thinking that all chance of success had gone with the 
mishap. But no sound followed, and after many minutes 
I went on again with great care, feeling my way as a cat, 
quite sure that at last I should succeed. Twice I went 
round the room, and could not put my hand upon the 
rifles; but at the third attempt I found them, and gave a 
sigh of relief. Then an overwhelming terror struck me 
chill and powerless. My sigh was echoed from the corner 
by the window ; and a low chuckle of laughter followed it. 
I stood as a man petrified, my hand upon a gun, but my 
nerves strained to a tension that was horrible to bear. 
Who was there with me ? By whom was I watched ? 

Alas! I knew in another moment^ when the electric 



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kEVOLVER AND PEN. 199 

light flooded the chamber, and I saw Black sitting at his 
writing-table, observing me, a jeer upon his lips, and all 
the terrible malice of his nature written in his keen and 
mocking eyes. I stood transfixed by that searching gaze, 
held spellbound by the fascination of the obvious danger, 
my hand still upon one of the rifles, yet trembling with the 
agitatioo of discovery. Words rose to my lips — excuses, 
pleadings; but they died away in my throat, and I could 
not utter them. Plans for the undoing of that which had 
been done, ways of escape, efforts to gain time, suggested 
themselves to me, but remained suggestions. I could do 
nothing but stand and sway my body as a victim before a 
python — the prey before a snake that is about to strike. 

We must have watched each other thus for a minute or 
more. I saw during those moments when I was bereft of 
all power that the man had a revolver cocked at his left 
hand, but a pen in his right; while manuscript lay before 
him, so that he must have been in the room for some time, 
and had extinguished his light only at my coming. And 
he had heard me quit my own chamber, I did not doubt; 
yet this surprised me, for I had no shoes upon my feet, 
and had walked with the stealth of a cat. Indeed, he ap- 
peared to read the fleeting speculations of my thought, and 
at last to take pity on my position, for he leant over the 
table, and drew near to it a lounge on which the skin of 
a polar bear was spread. 

"Sit here," he said, and at the blufl word my nerve 
came back to me. I sat before him, facing him with less 
fear. Yet it was humiliating to be treated almost as a 
child, and I knew from the inflexion of his voice that he 
spoke to me then as one would speak to a school-lad who 
had played truant. And in this tone he continued — 



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20O THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"You're a smart boy, and have ideas; but, like all little 
boys, your ideas don't go far enough. I was just the same 
when I "was your age, always trying to climb perpendicular 
places, and always falling down again. When you're 
older, you look to see what your hold's Ijke before you be- 
gin. Meanwhile, you're like a little dog barking at a 
bull, and you're precious lucky not to be over the hedge 
by this time — maybe the bull doesn't mind you, maybe 
he's waiting a day — but take his advice and go to kennel 
awhile." 

He said this half-laughing, and in no sense fiercely ; but 
his words angered me beyond restraint, and I could have 
struck him as he sat. He saw my anger, and ceased his 
provocation. 

"Silly lad,'' he said again, "silly beyond expression to 
put your head into a business which never concerned you, 
and to stake your life on a struggle which must have only 
one end. Don't you think so ?" 

At this I plucked up courage and answered him^- 

" I came here to-night to stop your deviltry in murdering 
fifty innocent men;" but he started up at the words and 
raved like a maniac. 

"And who made you judge, you puppy?" he cried. 
"Who set you to watch me, or give your opinions on what 
I do or what I don't do? Who asked you whether you 
liked it or didn't like it, you sneaking little brat? I won- 
der I let you live to spit your dirty words in my face!" 

His anger was fierce, terrible as a tornado. His teeth 
gnashed, his hands shook, be rolled In his chair like a 
great wounded beast; but when he saw that I was un- 
moved, he fell quiet again, and wiping his forehead, wher« 
the sweat had gathered thickly, he said in a lew, coa^ins 
voice — 



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"SIGN 'EM NOPFP' 20t 

"Don't compel mc, lad, to do what I have meant not to 
do. You're here for good or ill, and if you wish to keep 
ydut life, put control on your tongue. These men ai*e 
nothing to you ; they're lazy hogs that the world's well tid 
of — let 'em die, and save your own carcass. You've been 
here days now — the first man that ever lived among us 
without signing our papers. But you can't stay that way 
any longer. You know this business. You've a straight 
notion that my hand's agen Europe, and, for the matter of 
that, agen the world too; those that share with me shall 
swing with me, and if I burn when it's done, by the devil 
himself they shall burn too. It isn't of my asking that 
you're amongst us, or that you took Up the work of the 
hound Hall, who put the first nail in his coffin that night 
he came to my bed at Spezia. I saw him there, though he 
thought me sleeping ; and that night I Wrote death against 
his natne, as I wrote it against yours when you entered my 
room in Paris. There's reasons why I've broken my word 
in your case, though you'll never know 'em ; but there's no 
reason why you shouldn't swear to go through it with me 
. and mine, m^n for man, life with life, be it rope's-end or 
bullet, to rot amongst the fish, or to share every mate 
among us what's got Upon the sea. That's my question, 
and you'll answer it now, yes or no, plain word and no 
shuffle ; meaning to you ^Vhether you go on as you've gone 
on in the past, or freeze amongst the others lying up there 
in the cavern; whether you sWim in money, as my lot 
swim in it, or get bullets in you thick as hail from north- 
ward. That's my questioh, I say again, and thete's my 
papers. Sign *em now, or you lie a corpse before an hour 
on the clock." 

H? k^n% gver his writing-table and put the paper int0 



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202 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

my hands, a rough sheet of parchment, which he wished 
me to read. But m^ eyes were dimmed with the restless 
excitement of the situation, with the dread terror of the 
alternative put to me ; and I saw nothing but lines of writ- 
ing which swam before me. The silence of the room was 
terrible to bear ; it was as though I struggled for life while 
already in the tomb. My thoughts went hurriedly to 
Europe, to my home, to my friends; above all I recalled 
the night when Martin Hall went to his death, and his 
shadow seemed by me, his face beseeching me, his hand 
holding mine back from the pen that it would have 
clutched. During this time the man Black leant towards 
me, and watched me, expectancy in his face, threatening 
\n his pose. Yet he did not speak, and my tyts left the 
paper and I gave him look for look, and from his face my 
glance passed to his right hand which held the pistol ; and 
in that instant I took heart for a step which was the last 
mad design of a driven man. 

"Give me the pen!" I said suddenly, rising and bending 
over the table. 

He put the pen into my hands, and leant back with a 
chuckle pf satisfaction; but the movement cost him the 
game. I clutched his pistol with a lightning grasp, and 
covered him with it — 

"If you raise a finger V\\ shoot you like a dog," I cried. 

Then the man, who was no craven, sat motionless in his 
chair ; and I saw the beads of terror falling from his fore- 
head, but he betrayed no emotion, and his face might have 
been cut from marble. I had the muzzle of the pistol 
upon him and I continued with greater confidence — 

"If you raise your voice to call out, or if anyone comes 
to this room, you die where you sit." 



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BLACK GIVES HIS IVORD. 203 

He heard me then more calmly, and replied deliber- 
ately — 

"Boy, you're the first that's bested Black." 

"Til take your word for that,'' I said; "but take care — 
you are moving your hand.'' He held it still at once, and 
continued — 

"Tm caught like a rat in a hole. What do ye want? 
Name it, and V\\ know how we stand!" 

"I want my life — ^my life, now that I refuse to sign 
that paper." 

"Yes," he said, "that's a fair request, though I can't 
say it's in my power to make it that way." 

"It's in your power to stand with me — ^you can give 
the order that no man's to lay a finger on me, and you 
will." 

He thought a moment, looking straight down the barrel 
of the Colt. Then he said — 

"Yes, I can't avoid that — I'll give you that." 

"And my liberty on the first occasion offering." 

"No," he replied very slowly and sternly; "that's more 
than the devil himself could offer you; they'd tear me to 
pieces." 

There was no doubt that he had right in this; and I 
reflected that I could gain nothing whatever by holding 
out. There was just the hope that he would abide by his 
word in the matter of my personal safety, but more I could 
not look for. The man could only die, and, if he gave me 
freedom, his own men would requite him as he said. I 
thought of this, and put the pistol down; then I offered 
him my hand, and he jumped up from his seat, grasping it 
with a great clutch altogether painful to bear, while he 
dragged me to the light and looked at me with that curious 



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2d4 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

exprcwjqn I h^d notice4 when first I had met him in the 
room. 

"You're a SQun4 pUnk of a boy," he said; "shake my 
hand, young 'i»n, shake it hearty; go on, don't you think 
I mind; shake it right so, you beauty of a boy!'' 

What else he would have said or done, what new token 
of his repulsive favour he would have bestowed on me, I 
know not, but his wild antics were cut short by the sound 
of firing, rapid and oft repeated, which c^me to us from 
the shore of the cove below. At the first report, he let go 
my hand and went to his window, from which he drew the 
curtain, so that I saw the whole bay lit with silver light 
from a full-risen moon, and the distant peaks as grim bea- 
cons above a land of rest; a land which ppce, perchance, 
flowered with exotic luxuriance, but which now wore the 
snow-silk mantle that had fallen upon countless centuries 
of Its past. Yet the whole glory and entrancement of the 
perfect peace were for the moment ruined, for out on the 
snow there was a hungry crowd qf starving souls, crying, 
I doubt not, for bread ; and those to whom they cried an- 
swered them with their muskets, dyeing the glittering white 
with many a red stream, bringing many a hungered wretch 
to his last sleep in the frozen night of death. And out 
over the silence of the hills the cries for mercy rang as in 
bitterness to God, the dreadful cries of the weak, down- 
trodden beneath the feet of those who knew not God, the 
last scream of perishing souU, the sobs of strong men in 
their agony. In vain I closed my ears, shut out the sight 
from my eyes. The picture came to me again and again, 
the sound of the voices would not be hushed, and in turn I 
cried to Black — 

<*For God*s sake, help those men, if you have anything 
but the instincts of a brute in you !" 



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friTH PLEASANT OATHS. 205 

Hfe shrugged his shotddcrs defiantly. "What am I to 
do?'^ he asked. 

"Stop the deviTs work, and give the men bread, as Fve 
just given you your life.^' 

There was a paiise before he answered me, and I could 
see that an old nature and a new impulse fought within 
him. He did not give me any direct answer to my earn- 
est appeal, but he snatched a rifle from a case and said — 

"Take that pistol, and come on; youVe fooled me oncej 
and we'll riiake it ev^n numbers. But it ain't as easy as 
cutting cheese, and there's blood to let»" 

I followed him down thfc t>a9sage to the beach, where he 
blew a whistle sharp and Shrill, ahd the note had a strange 
ting as it echoed thtotigh the canyon. 

"That'll w^ke 'em dn the ship!'' he exclaimed. "I'm 
not afeard of these, but there's fighting to be done^-now 
lie behind me, and doh't show till you're wanted." 

He advanced towards the snow-plain and sang out-^ 

"John, you there, Dick — hands to quarters, do you hear 
me? Move right qliickj or I'll move you, by thunder!" 

They put down their arms from their shoulders in 
blank amazement, arid listened to him as he went on — 

"There's endugh down fdr one night, I reckon, and I'm 
hot going to be kept aWake by your cursed firing — what's 
to be done can be dorie in the morning; why, you boat- 
Iddd of night rats, ain't any of you got sleep in you?" 

They came round him slowly and sulkily, and he drove 
them to the big houses with pleasant oaths and fine round 
phrases. I lurked near him, but an American saw me 
and cried — 

"Say, Cap'en, hev yfe took to nursin' that boy ez ye 
seems so fond of?" 



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2o6 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"Shut your jaw, or V\\ shut it for you!" replied BlacL 
"Is the boy your affair?" 

" He*s the affair of all of us, I calcerlate, an* some of us 
wishes to know particler if he's signed or no." 

Black was smothered in anger, but he showed it only 
with that terrible growling of the voice, and his horrid 
calmness. 

" Oh, you want to know, do you ? Which of you, might 
I ask, is particler anxious about my business?" 

There were thirty or forty of them round, and they 
pressed the closer at the question, as he continued — 

"Let them as makes complaint step right here." 

Only four joined the leader; but the Captain suddenly 
snatched my revolver from me, and fired four shots; and 
for each shot a man dropped dead on the beach; but the 
American stood untouched. The appalling brutality of the 
action seemed to awe the rest of the crew. They stood 
motionless, dumb with rage; but when they recovered 
themselves they rushed upon us with wild ferocity; and 
the Yankee fired at Black point-blank. I thought, truly, 
that the end was then; but I heard a shout from the 
w^ater, and, looking there, I saw Doctor Osbart in the 
launch; and there was a Maxim gun in the bows of her. 

"Clear that beach!" roared Black in awful passion; and 
instantly, as he dropped flat and I imitated him, there was 
a hail of bullets, and the main part of the crowd fell 
shrieking; but some threw themselves down, while many 
stiffened and rolled in death, and blood spouted from 
scores of wounds. 

The victory was awful, instantaneous. As the men fled 
towards the hills. Black called after them — 

"Bring to, you limp-gutted carrion, or FU wipe you 



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''GET TORCHES r 207 

out, every one of .you ! Any man who'll save his throat, 
let him come here!" 

At these words they turned back to a man, and came 
cowering to the water's edge. Thirty of their fellows lay 
dead or wounded on the stones, and many of those crawl- 
ing to us had bullets in their limbs. Yet Black had no 
thought for them. 

"Where's your leader?" he asked, and they pointed to 
the American, who lay with the blood pouring from a 
wound in his left thigh. 

"He's there, is he?" screamed the infuriated man. 
"The darned skunk's down, is he? Well, I'll cure him 
like a ham. Get torches, some of you, and ice him in." 

He was swaying with passion ; yet, even regarding it, I 
could not understand what his order meant, and I asked — 

"What are you going to do with the man?" 

"What am I going to do with him?" he yelled, scarce 
noticing who spoke to him; "I'm going to bury him." 

It was wonderful in that moment to see how the men, 
who had before defied him, then became as slaves at his 
command. A silence deep and profound rested upon them ; 
even those with the Captain watched him in his outrageous 
anger and were dumb; but all helped him in his ghastly 
work, and brought shovels and picks, which they carried to 
the higher plane of snow. As for the American, who sat 
upon the beach groaning with the pain of his wound, I do 
not know how any man could have wished to add to his 
hurt; yet he asked for no sympathy, and it was plain that 
he knew what they meant to do with him. At one time 
feverish ravings seized him, and he shook his fist at all 
around him; then he poured his anger upon Black, who 
listened to him, gratified that he should provoke it. And 



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2p8 THE SHAUOfV ON THE SEA. 

thfi more the man cursed, the greater satisfaction did the 
other show. 

^^WeVe got to die, both of us," said the American at 
last, ceasing his wilder oaths; ^^you en me, Black, en there 
isn't much ez we kin look for ; but, if there's en Almighty 
God, I reckon ez He'll place this yere off my score, and }gy 
it on yours, or there ain't no hell, an' there ain't no justice, 
an' what seamen dreams of is hes — lies as your word is 
lies, en everything about your cursed ship. Go on, lay me 
right here as I lay now; but I'll ri?e agen you, and the 
day'll come when you'd give every dollar ye're worth to 
dig me up, en give me life agpn.^' 

The softer speech availed the poor fellow as little ^s thp 
otl)er. I felt then an exceeding pity fpr him, and I tOHcbed 
Black on the arpti and was about to plead with him ; but at 
the sight of me he raised his fist, md I moved aw^y, see- 
ing by the light of his eyes that he was as much a madman 
in that moment as any maniac in Bedlam* Fpr he stpod 
foaming and muttering, his hands clenched, his hat upon 
the snow, great drops pf swe^t on his bronzed forehead* 
The haste of the men to get the picks was not half ha^t^ 
enough for him ; and when they began to d|g he hijrripfj 
them more, until a great pile of snow had been thj-ow^n ouf. 

It was a weird scpne — the most weird I h^ye evpr 
known. We stood in a snow-pit ampngst the bills, aqi 
above us rose in grandei^r the great pyramids qi basa}t ^4 
gneiss. There was no sign of living grpep thing, even RJE 
lichens or of moss, in that eleya^ed plaip above the sef|; 
and the shrill call of the gulls was hushed ifi the greater 
stillness of the night. The moon, high in the unclouded sky, 
gave light far down into the crevasses — clear, silverp4 
light that made a jewel of ^vftry higher point, ^f\d 
sprinkled the crests of the breakers as with floss of fire. 



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A GREAT tf^EIRD WAILING, 209 

Nor was there wind, even a breath of the night's breeze, 
but only the melancholy silence of the omnivorous frost, 
the boom of falling avalanche echoing in the ravines and 
the ice-caverns, the groans of the doomed man — a very 
Miserere amongst the hills, as down below amongst the 
dead upon the shore. 

In the snow-plain, which was the centre of this nor- 
thern desolation, they dug the grave of the living man. I 
watched from afat — held by what hideous power I knew 
not — and saw thcrtl toll him over into the trench thejr had 
dug, and shovel the snow quickly upon him. He watched 
them, silent in his terror ; but when his head only«was un- 
covered he gave a shriek of agorty, which rose Vkt the 
great cry of a liian going before his God, and ceased not 
to echo ftotn height to height until long minutds had 
passed. Theri all was hushed, for the cold mantle bf death 
fell lipon him. Slowly thoSc who had done their work 
took up their tools and returned doggedly to the beach; 
but Captain Black was unable to move from the man Who 
hdd piit that last gteat curse upon him not five minutes 
gone. Bare-headed and alone, he stood at the snow-grave* 
and looked dowtt tipon the mound now sparklirig with the 
crystals of the frost that botuld it. And as he looked there 
came a great Weird waillhg from a distant hillj a piercing 
cry, as of ahdthet soiil passing, and it echoed again and 
agdin from pcjlk to peak and ravine to ravine— a wild 
"othorie^" that had sadhess and grief and misery in itj 
slnd I kheW that it was the cry from one of the seameh 
who hrid beeti turned from the mihfes — from one who 
mourtied, plefchahce, the death df k friend or of a brdthen 
Vet, at the ciy. Black gave a great start, and shiveririg as 
d man sti-uck dowh with a deadly chill, he passed frbm the 
grave to the beach. This was the agony of returning r6a90il4 



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210 



CHAPTER XX. 

I QUIT ICE-HAVEN. 

It was on the next afternoon, near to the setting of the 
sun, there having been unusual activity about the creek 
during the forenoon, that Doctor Osbart came to my 
room with great news for me. 

"This business with the men has completely upset our 
plans,'' said he. "Black hoped to winter here; and to let 
the hubbub in Europe quite subside before he put to sea 
again. Now he can*t do that, for there^ll be trouble just 
as long as the crew eats its head off in this wilderness. 
There's only one thing that will keep the hands quiet, and 
that's excitement. After all, it's the same motive with 
most of us, from the gutter-beggar who lives on the hope 
of the next penny to the democrat who supports existence 
on a probable revolution. If we once get them away to 
sea, with money to win, and towns to riot in, we shall 
hear no more of this folly, and Black knows it. He has 
determined to sail to-night ; and he'll take some of the men 
he put out of the mines to do the work of those who went 
down yesterday. I'm very glad, for I should have cut my 
throat if I'd been here the winter through, and I dare 
say you won't be displeased to get a change of quarters; 
but, before we talk of that, we must have the conditions." 

"I won't sign that paper, and Black has been told so," 
cried I at once; "it's no good coming here again with 
that." 



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OSBARTS NEWS. 211 

"You're premature," he replied, with a smile, "prema- 
ture, as you always are. Isn't it time enough to discuss 
the paper when I bring it to you?" 

"Then what have you to ask?" said I, prepared to hear 
of something which I must refuse, but longing with a great 
hope for the freedom of the sea. 

"Simply this," he answered, "and, for the life of me, I 
don't see what the guv'nor is driving at in your case ; for 
he asks only that, if he take you from here, where you'd 
starve in a month if he left you, you shall give him your 
word, as a man of honour, that you will make no attempt 
to leave his ship without permission. Under no pretence 
or plea will you try to escape, and, whatever you see, you 
will not complain about when aboard with him. You are 
to hold no converse with the men, nor will you interfere 
with them in any work they do; and you will carry out 
this contract not only in the letter but in the spirit. If 
you will give me your word on that now, you can pack 
your trunk and come aboard without any fuss ; but I don't 
disguise it from you, that any folly after this may cost 
you your life, and that if you have half a thought of play- 
ing us false, you'd better stop where you are." 

I debated the whole extent of his proposition, and made 
up my mind on it in a few moments. I was aware that, 
if I remained at the station, I could expect nothing hut 
speedy death upon the ice, since the doctor told me that 
the place would be deserted during the winter. Against 
this I had to ask myself, if my going aboard the nameless 
ship meant in any way approval of the occupation of those 
who sailed it; but this suggestion was too trivial, and I 
dismissed it in a moment, while the thought flashed across 
my mind that if I could but once be taken to European or 



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aia THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

American waters, there would De at least the probabilitj' 
that this man might fall into the hands pf those >yho were 
seeking him. In that case liberty would come with his un^ 
aoing, which was even more pleasant to think upon than 
to contemplate it with him yet free as a voracipus beast of 
the seas. 

*^You accept?" said the doctor, who sat watching me 
as I thought these things; and I answered him without 
hesitation — 

^^I accept." 

^'The Captain has your word of honour as between 
gentlemen ?" 

*^As between — ^well, if you like it sQ-r-as between gen^ 
tlemen." 

The satire of the last word was too much for him, for 
he was one of the pleasantest fellows in his saner moments 
that I have ever met. We both laughed heartily, and then 
he said — 

"But Fm forgetting, youVe got no trunk, and I must 
lend you one. You're rather short of duds, I know, but 
we can rig you out until we get to Paris, ^nd there the 
skipper will see to it — any way, so long as ypuVe a cpat 
thick enough, we won't criticise you in these parts ; and I 
don't suppose you're thinking ef garden parties." 

^^ Anything but," I answered, as pleased as he was at 
the prospect of it all, and especially at the thought of quit- 
ting the ice-prison, if only for the winter, "I have neither 
clothes nor cash." 

^^Well, I don't sec what youV« going to do with the 
latter, just yet; but, man, you pan just help yours^elf from 
the first Cunardir we stop — pshaw, don't look like that; 
wait until you feel the excitement of it all. Why, what is 



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FROM THE DESOLATE LAND. au 

it but one ship against the wprld, big men on th^ir kn^es 
to you, money enough to wade in, and a fig for all tb^ 
navies and all the fleets that ever left a port? I defy 'em 
to put a hand on the ship if th^y spepd a million in fhr 
process. Come with ps and see it all, and you'U say it's 
the most daring, the grandest, the t^ost stupendous entfir- 
prise that n^^n ever conceived." 

It was no good to lift up one's voice against enthusiasm 
of this sort, so I let him lead me to his room, and topic 
from him a trunk with some linen. As he said, it W9S 
more convenient to have my own things, pnd we uere 
much qi a build, so that his clothes \vere no ill-fit ; and be 
was ridiculously generous, pressing all that he had upon 
me, and lending me a great gold watch and gold studs 
that were illicitly gotten, I felt sure. 

In the end I had quite a store of clothing ; and I waited 
while he finished his own work that we might go down 
together to the launch awaiting us. There we found Black, 
watching m^n who were putting large bales of goods into 
the screw steamer, and everywhere there was sign of the 
break-up of the settlement. The Captain merely nodded 
when I gave him a word, and I thought that he was sore 
depressed, with scarce energy enough to be irritable. IJc 
seen)ed to doubt the wisdom of the departure even then; 
and he often hesitated in his walk, looking up to the win- 
dows of his home behind him. At the last, when the 
riegro servants had come down the iron stairway, he 
locked the great door after thepf); and then he ^toqd and 
cast his gase over to the hiUs and the desolate land, 
which I believed he had a great kindness for. When he 
did join us, he gave the word, ^'Let her gol" with a 
dogged sort of indifference ; and at his command the launch 



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214 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

ploughed ahead, and passed through the canyon to the 
outer basin. 

The sun was almost in the horizon then, and the nor- 
thern lights were playing in the heavens, so that all the 
water was then alight with the glory of a hundred colours. 
Now orange, or a lighter golden, or blue as of the Cor- 
sican Sea, or flaming scarlet, or emerald green, or all 
shades of yellow, with the pink and pearl and fainter 
green as of a colossal opal, the light fell and spread from 
bight to bight, and crag to crag; and above there were 
sheets of eruptive flame and great rumblings, and mighty 
arcs of fire spanning the whole heavens, and gripping 
them as with the glittering jewelled hand of some mon- 
strous keeper of the skies whose mutterings came to us be- 
low. Or the scene changed again, and it was as though 
elves of the zenith had brought their golden caskets above 
the firmament, and there had burst them open, so that all 
the jewels of the light rained upon sea and land, and 
burnt each other with their own beauty as they fell; and 
the earth answered them back with her shining face. One 
of the supreme moments of life, truly, to bathe In this 
shower of multi-coloured splendour, to follow it in its 
golden path, where rocks took shape, and snow-forms 
lived, and the seas danced to its accompanying music, and 
one stood nearer to the great mysteries while yet farther 
from the homes of man. 

Black watched the Aurora as we watched it, but chiefly 
as it played upon his ship, lying moored in the very centre 
of the outer basin. They had made a great change in her 
since I had seen her but two days before ; for she was now 
given bulwarks of white canvas, and her funnel was 
painted white, while covers hid away the bright points of 
her deck-house? and her turrets. She had become a white 



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THE BLACK PETER. 215 

ship; and her transformation had been made with vast 
skill, so that I felt I should not have known her had I 
met her on the Atlantic. From her position away from the 
shaft of the mine, it was evident that she was ready to 
weigh, and I was reminded grimly af her mission by seeing 
a streamer of black at her mast-head instead of the Blue 
Peter. This time, too, there was a faint haze above her 
funnel, as though coal was being burnt in her furnaces; 
yet I had no wonder that I did not see steam coming 
from her, for I knew that she was driven by gas, and was 
in many ways a ship of mystery. 

We boarded her at a ladder amidships, for the most 
part of her accommodation was contained in a towering 
deck erection round her funnel. Here there were two 
stages of cabins with a wide gallery running between 
them, and protruding so that it was directly above the 
water. There was, indeed, a companion-way aft of this 
which led to the cabin I had occupied when a prisoner in 
the ship, and I found at a later time that the library of the 
vessel, with the store-rooms and a number of private 
cabins, was built in the *tween decks abaft the funnel. Yet 
the great saloon I was to use during so many months, the 
quarters which Black occupied, the doctor's room, the 
rooms for the engineers and certain of the others who were 
privileged, were all ranged amidships; and I learned that 
while there was sc big fo*castle, it was given over entirely 
to the niggers, with whom the white men would not serve. 
These superior fellows, as they thought themselves, had ac- 
commodation in the poop, where there was a big cabin 
with berths all round it ; yet with all this, the small part 
of the whole vessel devoted to quarters was noteworthy, 
and was designed, I did not doubt, for some purpose which 
I should learn presently. 



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216 THE SHADOIV ON THE SEA. 

These things I did not asecrtainj you may be sure, ott 
fifst bdardlng the ship. Althdugh th^y left me to mysilt 
up6n the high galleiy whehce I could stt all the life on 
the dfecks below, they were so busy with the preparation 
for weighing anchor that rio mart spoke a word td me. The 
handfe thertiselves, the moment thfey were afloat, settled 
down to work with surprising stciadiness. Black Upon the 
bridge now wore a smart uniform \Vith gold buttons and 
show of lace; and the sdf-commrind of the man, the per- 
fect knowledge of all things nautical which he displayed, 
and his all-absorbing love of his child, th^ ship, accounted 
for much that I had not liriddrstood in hinrt before. I 
found to my amazement that Doctor Osbart acted not 
only as surgeon to the crew, but fllso as secood officer; 
"Fouf-Eyes" being first officer; and the bully, "Roaring 
John," third. The coarse-mouthed Scotsman who assumed 
the title of "meenister" was, they told me, as good a sea- 
man as any of them, and a wonderful gunner, so that he 
was In charge of the armament, with a big stafi of men at 
his back. Of the engineers I saw nothing on first coining 
HbOard; but kter I hedrd the sound of pumping below, 
fltid there came up to the bridge where Black and the 
Others were a little, thin, wizened, and spectacled man, 
quite billd, vttf ragged and black, yet with a head on him 
that could havd stamped him "First-Class" in any assem- 
bly of the learned; I thought at the first glance that he 
fl^as a Qerhian, and my surhiise Ivas confirmed by the 
doctor, who remembered me dt last, and said — 

"Do you see that little fellow? — well, he's the genius of 
this ship. He's deaf and dumb, and ho man has ever heard 
a word from his lips; but he designed our engines, and he 
tUrts them with his three sorts. It's almost pitiable to sec 



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Tfif: f^ITTf^E M4N IN R4GS. a?? 

^l^e naar^'sf di§regar4 for fifiythipg but th^t infernal machin- 
ery. Up f)pvcr le^ve^ itj ir'$ mpat s^rid drink tq him? If 
we malfp mpfipy, hp 4o«^n't want it; if we^P fioi^g fpi: ^ 
^peJl a^Jipfe, |ip w^H*^ con^e, but st^ys here poking j^boHt 
the wheels. He was ^he first n^an in ^W Europe ^o ^ 
t^^t 9^^ WPwW finally supplant steam for maritime vessels ; 
4nd ^}ac)c gaye him ^^r/^ bhncke to parry out his i4e|9 
on this ship. You may be surprised to hear it, but fpre 
and aft in ^hpsfi cigfir-shape4 pn4s of ours we h^ve nothing 
but gas — thret million feet, at a pressure of between t^Q 
and ^hree atmpspberes. Why, man, it's |lie idea Qf jl>c 
cpntury ; for eypry fqur poun4s pf cqal burijt by ao Atl^- 
tip liner, we 4pn*^ \^^^^ ^ ppupd. We can stegm fpr tep 
days \yithput lighting g fire; and all the co^l wp need ^p 
go rpyn4 the wqrld will go in our bunkers. Save fqr 
th^t, arid IC^rl Remey's genius, there wouldn't be g m^n 
jgck of us with a neck to call his own to-day. Npw, ^p 
snap our fingers at the be^t of them ; there isn't a cruiser 
tliat c^n live with tjie thjrty knqts we c^n show; ai^d 
t|)e|"p isn't a lipe-of-battle ship swimmiug th^t could get 
the better qf u? \yhile qur engines are movjng. It's ^ big 
claim ypu rhi^k, hut wait until you see us in action, thcfi 
yqu'U tuPw how mucj) we pwe to tjie little man in rj^gp, 
but who h^ ^^^ Pf ^^^ clearest brains that ever was pu^ 
into human being.'' 

I was silent under this revelation, for it came to me 
that, with all the terrors of the great ship, there was also a 
scientific side, which marked the presence of a mighty 
intellect. The doctor saw the impression he had made 
upon me, and he said — 

"To-morrow we will show you more; you shall meet 
the ragged man ''^ 



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2i8 THE SHADOH^ ON THE SEA. 

"Which is mysel*," said the Scotsman, who had joined 
us silently, "mysel* that has'na a dud to my back. D'ye 
ken that when there's ony distribution o' the gudes I get 
a' the female apparel; which is no justice ava for a 
meenister, let alone a seafaring man." 

"Never mind, Dick," said the doctor, laughing, as I 
did; "we'll beg a skirt for you the first time we say how- 
d'ye-do to a passenger vessel " 

"Hands, heave anchor!" roared Black at that moment; 
and our conversation stopped suddenly at the cry. Then 
slowly, as the bell rang out, the great engines began their 
work, and we swept out to the open sea. Night had 
fallen, but the aurora still gave her changing light; and 
as we felt the first oscillations of the rolling breakers. 
Black took a long look behind him to his Arctic home. 
There before us was the black, towering, indented coast 
of Greenland, the bluff headlands of gneiss, the beacons 
of snow all crimson in the playing colours of the mighty 
arc ; and away beyond them, the vista of the eternal still- 
ness, and the plain of death. A long look it was that the 
man of iron cast then upon his wild habitation ; a look al- 
most prophetic in its sadness, as if he knew that he should 
look upon it no more. A great farewell of an iron heart, 
and the breakers sang the "Vale!" as the ship sped on- 
ward to her deadly work* 



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219 

CHAPTER XXI. 

TO THE LAND OF MAN. 

We dined that night in the saloon upon the deck, a com- 
modious place lighted by electricity, and in every way 
luxuriously fitted. The walls of it were panelled in white 
and gold, and were covered with curious designs, old 
heroes fighting, old gods drawn by lions at their chariots ; 
Bacchantes revelling, Jason seeking the fleece in a golden 
barque; Orestes fleeing the Furies. The long seats were 
covered in leather of a deep crimson, and there was a small 
piano, with many other appointments that were signifi- 
cant. The dinner itself was admirably served, and was 
partaken of by the deaf-and-dumb engineer, by the doctor, 
the Scotsman, and myself. We were waited on by a 
couple of negroes; and when the meats were removed we 
went above to an exquisitely-furnished little smoking- 
room, and there drank rich brown coffee and enjoyed some 
very fine cigars. I was all ears then to learn, if I could, 
what was the destination of the ship; and I found that 
Black talked without reserve before me, knowing well 
that I could do him no injury. He relied mostly on the 
doctor for advice, and discussed everything with him in the 
best of tempers. 

"My plan is this," he said: "we're short of oil, and 
Karl here is beginning to get uneasy. I shall knock over 
a couple of whalers in these seas, and fill the tanks. Then, 
as they're looking for us in mid-Atlantic, we'll get south 
of Madeira, and run against two or diree of the big ones 
making for Rio or Buenos Ayres. We shall pick up a good 



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220 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

bit of money ; and it'll be a month before they get on our 
course that way, for I mean to let *em down light when 
it's not a case, of saving our own skin." 

The Scotsman gave a d^fep feigh ftt this, and said in a 
melancholy voice — 

"Hoot mon, the deid frichteried you.'^ 

"You're a liar/' continued Black quite quietly, and then 
continued: "As Europe knows my game, it doesn't matter 
how often she hears of me. Let her hcar^ and come agen 
mc, and I'll show my teeth. What we're out for this 
journey is money, specie^ pieces in piles, and we'll get that 
on the lay of Rio-bound ships better than in any waters. 
It'll be quick workj one against the rest of 'em ; but I built 
this ship to fight^ and fight she shall— =-you agree on that, 
Doctor?'' 

"Of course. The more fighting the men see the less 
troublfe we shall have with them." 

"That's what I say — give 'em work to do, and they'll 
sleep like dogs when it's ddne; give 'em money and drink, 
and you've got hbgs to drive* Now, let me get through 
the winter, and I'll tun south a spell in hiding, and then 
niikt ndrthward with ten thousand pounds a man when 
the f^ll conies. But first we'll have a week in Paris, 
I reckon, and stretch dur legs amongst them as is most 
arixious tb shake With us — what do you say) Dick?" 

"Man," Sflid the Scotsman deliberately, "if there's nae 
killing, I misdoubt me o't a' thegither." 

"You're a fodl," replied the skipper testily, "and if you 
don't go td bed, I'll kick you there*" 

The fellow rose ^t this, and coolly emptied half a tum- 
bler of whisky; but befofe he could leave "Four-feycs^^ 
znmt oil the bridge and said laconically-^ 



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JOHti IS STRUCK DUMB. 221 

"Whaler on the port-bow." 

"Signal *em to come to, and drop a shot," cried Black 
rising; and then he called to the Scotsman and gave his 
orders — 

"Stand by the gun!" and with that we all went out to 
the gallery, and saw by the clear power of the moon a full- 
rigged ship not a mile from the shore. She was homeward 
bound, and seemed by her build to be a Dane. 

Upon our own deck there was already activity, some of 
the men getting away the launch, and others putting 
empty barrels into it before they swung it out over the sea. 
There was a method and quietness about it all, which 
showed long habit at the same practice ; and when at last 
the great gun before the funnel boomed out, the fine accu- 
racy of the shooting scarcely caused comment. The shot 
appeared to drop into the water almost under the whaler's 
bob-stay, and sent up a cloud of foam and spray, glistening 
in the moonlight ; but the ship answered to it as to a deadly 
summons; and the tide and wind setting oS shore, she 
went into the breeze easily, and lay to at the first demand. 
Then Black gave his orders — 

"You, John, go aboard and buy their oil up — Fm get- 
ting you notes from my chest" 

At the word buy, the man John seemed astounded. 

"Oh, I reckon," he said, "we'll pay 'em hard cash with 
a clout on the skuU, Cap'n; come right along, boys and 
bring your shootin' irons. Oh, I guess we'll pay 'em, 
money down, and men a-top of it." 

"You'll do nothing of the sort, you lubber!" roared 
Black; "but what you take you'll pay for, d'ye hear me? — 
then shut your mouth up and go aboard." 

John was not the only man who was struck dumb by 



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222 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

the skipper's whim. There were mutterings on the deck 
below, and Dick, who had come from the conning-towcr, 
was bold enough to make remark. 

"It's a'most sinfu'," he said, "to be sae free wi' the 
siller; why, man, ye could verra weel buy me a hundred 
pairs 0* breeks wi* the same, and no be wanting it." 

But Black was watching the launch, now speeding in 
the moonlight towards the rolling whaler. I watched it 
too, remembering how, not many weeks before, I had stood 
en the deck of my own yacht, and awaited the coming of 
the same craft with my heart in my mouth. Now the 
danger was not mine, but I felt for the men who had to 
face it, since Black's talk about purchase could scarcely 
soften the native ferocity of those who served him ; and I 
feared that the scene would end in bloodshed. 

Happily the surmise was quite incorrect. That which 
premised a tragedy gave us but a comedy. We saw from 
the platform that our men were taken aboard the ship, and 
we watched to see them hoist their barrels after them. 
But they did not, making no sign of having the oil, al- 
though there came shouts, and sounds of altercation from 
the anchored vessel; and we saw the flash of pistols, and 
dark objects presently in the sea. To the surprise of us 
all, the launch returned after that; and when our men 
came aboard, they presented a shocking spectacle. "Roar- 
ing John" was covered from head to foot with a thick, 
black, oleaginous matter ; two of the others had their faces 
smeared in tar; the rest were like drowned rats, and were 
chattering until their teeth clashed with the cold. Nor 
could they for some time, what with their spluttering and 
their anger, tell us what misfortune had overtaken them. 

"The darned empty skunks" — gasped John at last- 



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NO WHALES. 223 

''they haven't got a barrel aboard, not a barrel, I guess; 
and when I gave *em play with my tongue, they put me in 
the waste-tub — oh, I reckon, up to my eyes in it " 

"Do you mean to say,'^ asked Black, "that theyVe took 
no whales?" 

"Except ourselves, yer honour," said a little English- 
man, who was cowering like a drowned rat, "which they 
throw'd overboard, like the whales in the Scriptures, never 
a fish." 

"Then we've wasted our time!" cried the skipper, 
stamping his great foot; "and you're lazy vermin to stop 
so long aboard parleying with 'em. I'm going on ; you can 
settle your scores among you." 

He gave the order, "Full steam ahead!" at which the 
third officer showed the temper of a whipped beast. 

"You're going ahead leaving them swimming? Then 
darn me if I serve," said he. "What? They pitch me in 
their dirty tub, and you laugh? By thunder! I'll teach 
you." 

Captain Black watched his anger with a pitying leer; 
but "Dick the Ranter" and "Four-Eyes" were overcome 
with laughter, and roared until the ship echoed. 

"Houly Moses, it's a fine picture ye are, my beauty," 
said the mate; "and if oi'll be scraping ye down with a 
shovel, it's yer own fayther wouldn't know ye, so clane 
ye'll be." 

"To the w^hich I would add, man," said Dick, "that if 
ye'd let yersel' drip into the lubricators ye'd be worth 
siller to us; not to say onything o' the discoorse I micht 
verra weel preach on Satan from yer present appearance." 

The banter turned the man from his more meaning 
purpose. He stood gibbering for a moment, while the 
crowd pressed on him with gibes and jeers; but he had his 



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224 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

revenge, after all, for there was a tar-bucket at the foot of 
the upper-deck ladder, and with this he armed himself. 
The brush was well-charged and dripping, the tar yet 
liquid, the Scotsman's face was all-inviting. With a fierce 
shout the enraged man went to the attack, and painted his 
lantern-jawed opponent merrily. In less time than I can 
tell of it, the Ranter dripped from head to foot ; the black 
stufi poured from his hemp-like hair, from his ears, it 
oozed down his neck, it even ran through to his boots, 
and when his enemy could no longer wield the brush from 
fatigue, he emptied the bucket on the man's head as a last 
triumphant vindication of his strength. 

"Now we're a pair!" he said, pausing for breath, and 
surveying his work as an artist surveys a finished picture ; 
"and I guess you ain't going to take the biscuit in this 
beauty show." 

"Man, I could hae weel dispensed wi 't," sputtered the 
Scotsman ; "but I thank ye for dyeing my breeks. They've 
been wanting colour since New Year." 

The laughter had not yet died away when the men went 
to their cabins, and we posted the watches before turning 
in. We were at that time in Lat. 65° N. at a rough calcula- 
tion, and we passed the Danish settlement of Godthaab on 
the next morning, though so far out at sea that I could 
make nothing of it ; while we lost the coast of Greenland 
altogether before the day had passed, a hazy shower of 
dust-like snow greeting our coming to the Atlantic and to 
a perceptibly warmer latitude. During this day, and until 
we sighted the Shetlands, the small screw tender kept our 
course, and we exchanged signals with her every morning, 
her purpose being explained to me by "Four-Eyes," on the 
fourth morning out, in his child-like phraseology. 



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'''COALS AF FIRE/'' 225 

"Faith, she's Liverpool bound, and we'll pick her up 
again south of the Scilly when she's tidings of ships out. 
Bedad, sir, there's fine tinies coming; what wi' the say 
full av big ones, and we one agen 'em, I'm like to believe 
as we'll step ashore with our throats cut, ivery man av us, 
and on the shore av me own counthry, which sorra a day I 
left for this job," 

**Why did you leave it, Tour-Eyes'?" I asked cheer- 
fully ; and he said — 

" 'Twas this way, sorr, but it's a long yarn, and ye 
don't nade more than the p'ints av it. When I was 
priest's bhoy in Tipperary, me and Mike Sullivan had 
atween us what you gents call a vendeny, and coming out 
av church — 'twas Sunday mornin' five year ago— I met 
Mike, an' he put coals av fire on me head. *Begorra,' 
says I, *it's lucky for je I'm in the grace, but plase God 
I'll not be to-morrow I' but the spalpeen went to Cork 
next day, and it wasn't till a year that I run agen him, 
prepared to do my dooty," 

"And you did it, I'll be bound!" 

"Sorra a bit; I just fell in with the divil, being an aisy 
sort av sowl, and he made me as drunk as a gentleman — 
that's why I'm here, sorr. He shipped me aboard and got 
five pounds for me, me that meant to thread on his head, 
the dirty skunk — but it's the way av the world, sorr ; kelp 
a man that's down, an' the moment the spalpeen's on his 
fate he'll dance on ye," 

"Which is verra true," said Dick the Ranter, who after 
two days had still tar upon him, and was wrapped in a 
woman's shawl; "but will ye postpone your thirdly, and 
go below to the' doctor, who's wanting ye to see the gear?" 

They had not yet shown me the engines of the nameless 
ship, and I welcomed the opportunity, grown weary with 



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226 THE mADOtV ON THE SEA. 

watching the dull green of the sea, and the monotony of 
the sky-laden clouds. Dick led the way quickly from the 
gallery to the lower deck, and thence down an iron ladder 
to the great engine-room. Here truly was a wondrous 
sight ; the sight of three sets of the most powerful engines 
that have yet been placed in a battle-ship. Each of them 
had four cylinders, eighty inches in diameter ; and all were 
driven by the hydrogen from the huge gasometers which 
our holds formed. The gas itself was made by passing 
the steam from a comparatively small boiler through a 
coke and anthracite furnace, the coke combining with the 
oxygen and leaving pure hydrogen. The huge cylinders 
drove upwards with a double crank to carry their motion 
to the screw; and I found that the difficulty of starting 
and reversing was overcome by an intermediate bevel- 
wheel gearing and friction clutch, which could throw the 
motion off the shaft, and allow that instantaneous going 
astern otherw-ise impossible in a gas-engine. That day 
there was a huge fire in the furnace, emitting terrific heat 
and crackling sparks, for the men were making gas, in 
view of a run or two off the coast of Ireland. It was more 
pleasant than I can tell you to watch the entire absorption 
of the gifted engineer, in the maze of machinery which 
surrounded him, to paint the paternal pathos of his look 
as he watched every motion and eyed every bearing. The 
maker of an empire certainly he was; the man of mind 
who, for the time, had given these ruffians the kingship 
of the sea; had made mockery of the opposition of the 
nations; and, I could not help but reflect as I turned 
away sick at heart at the sight of so much power, had 
caused me to be a prisoner, perhaps for life, in that citadel 
of metal. Y^t, he was a genius; and to the end of my 



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OUT OF THE NIGHT. 227 

days I shall think, as I thought then, of the superb gifts 
so wasted in their channel, of the masterful intellect de- 
voted only to pillage and plunder. 

In such a frame of mind I left the engine-room and 
mounted to the upper deck, to hear the cry, "Land on the 
port bow." 

It was the coast of Ireland, they told me ; and I know 
not if I have ever had a greater pleasure than that distant 
view of my own country gave to me. For it was as though 
I had passed from a dead land to the land of man, from 
the silent ways of night to the first breaking of the God- 
sent day. 



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228 



CHAPTER XXII. 



Our view of the distant shore of Ireland was a fleeting 
one; and we passed thence almost immediately to the 
open sea, steaming due S. W. for some hours, but at no 
great pace. It was not until daybreak on the following 
morning that we reached the track of ocean-bound ships j 
but our voyage was altogether in favour of Black, for the 
sun had scarce risen when Doctor Osbart got me from my 
bed to see what he called my first introduction to business. 

"There's the Red Cross Line's Bellonic not a mile off 
on the starboard quarter," cried he exultingly, "and we're 
going to clear her. Come out, man, and get the finest 
breakfast you ever tasted." 

I dressed anyhow, almost as excited as he was, and 
stepped on to the gallery, to see a rolling waste of dull- 
green breakers, and a sky washed with broken thunder- 
clouds, through which the risen sun was struggling. The 
wind was keen from the south, and drove a fine rain, 
which lashed the face as with a whip; while much spray 
broke upon us and there was moaning of the cowls and 
the shrouds, and many signs of more wind to come. 
These atmospheric difficulties troubled no one, however, 
for all eyes were turned to the north, where now almost 
abreast of us, at a distance of half a mile or less, there was 
the long and magnificent hull of the great liner. She was 
then in the full sunlight, a fine spectacle ; and I could see 
her bare decks, trodden only by the watch, while a solitary 



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SWEARING DICK SHOOTS. 229 

officer paced the bridge. The contrast between her sleepy 
inactivity and our keen alertness was very marked, for all 
hands trod our decks, and there was a restlessness and an 
evident ferocity amongst the little group upon the bridge 
which marked a purpose brooking no delay. 

I nad begun to ask myself when the work would be 
done, for the liner went at a tremendous pace and was 
rapidly leaving us, when I got my answer with the crash of 
the great gun forward, and the sight of a shell ploughing 
the sea fifty yards ahead of the Bellonic. The cries of 
"Well shot, Swearing Dick!" had not died away before 
the effect of the call was seen upon the great vessel, whose 
decks were soon dotted with black objects, while three 
more men appeared on the bridge, and the signal flags ran 
up, and were answered by us. "Four-Eyes" was at our 
mast, and interpreted the message to Black, who followed 
all that was done without betrayal of emotion, but only 
with the savage anticipation of the predatory instinct. 

"Signal to 'em to lie to, if they don't want to go to 
hell," he said between his teeth, and "Four-Eyes" an- 
swered : 

"Ay, ay, sorr;" then, as the signal came, "He sez uz 
he'll say us at blazes afore he bates a knot." 

"Give it him for'ard then, and teach him," roared 
Black , and the shot that answered his command struck the 
quivering hull not twenty feet from the windlass and you 
could 3:;e the splinters carried fifty feet in the air, while 
the shrieks of terror came over the sea to us, and were 
piercing then. 

"What's h5 say now?" asked the Captain cooler than 
even at the beginning of the work. 

"Says as he'll make it warm for ye at New York, and 



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230 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

if ye come aboard, it^s on yer own head, an' ye swing fer 
it — he'll not stop till ye disable him." 

"The thick-headed vermin," hissed Black; "give him 
another, amidships this time." 

The second shot made us reel and shiver as she left us; 
but there was no hit, for we rolled much, and saw the 
shell burst on the far side of the liner. At this, and at 
the failure of a second attempt, the Captain lost patience, 
and gave the order — 

"Full steam ahead, and clear the machine guns." 

It was almost superb, I admit now, and the excitement 
of it was then upon me, to feel our great ship quiver at the 
touch of the bell, and bound forward with waves of foam 
and spray running from her decks, and each plate on her 
straining as though the mighty force of the engines below 
would rend it from its fellows. 

I had not before known the limit of her speed, or what 
she could do when driven as she then was; and the truth 
amazed me, while it filled me with a strange exultation. 
For we, who had dallied heretofore behind the other, sped 
beyond her as an express train passes the droning goods; 
and coming about, in a great circle, we descended upon her 
as a goshawk upon the quarry. 

The machine-guns upon our decks were already cleared ; 
the men were stripped, ready for the fray, as tigers for 
their food. Indeed, before I quite understood the purport 
of the manoeuvre, we were passing the Bellonic at a dis- 
tance of not more than fifty yards; and at that moment 
it seemed as if all the furies of hell were let loose upon 
our decks. 

Screaming like wild beasts, the men turned the handles 
of the Maxim guns; the balls rained upon the defenceless 
Jiner as hail upon a sTieepfold. I heard fierce curses and 



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HANDS FOR THE LAUNCH/ 231 

dull groans ; I saw strong ipen reel and fall their length as 
death took them; the breeze bore to me the wailing of 
women, and the sobs of children. 

But we had done the foul work in the one passage, for 
the flag dropped at once upon the liner, and the signal was 
made to us to come aboard. We had gained a horrid 
triumph, if such you could call the murders, and it re- 
mained but to divide the spoil. 

"Lower away the launch, you John !" cried Black ; "and 
take every shilling you can lay hands on. You hear me? 
— and hang up that skipper for a thin-skinned fool." 

"By thunder, Tm yours all along," replied "Roaring 
John"; and then he sang out, "Hands for the launch!" 

"You*d better go as cox," said Osbart to me, "you'll be 
amused ;" and suggested it to Black, who turned upon me 
a look almost of hate. 

"Yes, he shall go," he cried; "if we swing, he shall 
swing, the preaching lubber! Let him get aboard, or I'll 
kick him there." 

I had loathing at the thought of it, but might as well 
have put a pistol to my head there and then as to have 
refused. They bundled me into the launch, and I sat 
shivering at the prospect of the terrors on the deck; but 
they would not leave me when they came alongside, and 
"Roaring John" himself drove me up the ladder which 
was put out amidships. Seven of us at last stood on the 
bridge, and were face to face with the captain of the 
Bellonic, and four of his officers. 

I have said that I feared the terrors of that deck, but 
the reality surpassed the conception. 

It was a very babel of sounds, of groans, of weeping. 
The ship's surgeon himself seemed paralysed before the 
sight of the carnage around him. You looked along the 



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232 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

length of the vessel, and it was as though you looked upon 
the scene of a bloody battle ; for there were dead almost in 
heaps, and wounded screaming, and streams of blood, and 
fragments of wreckage as though the ship had been under 
fire for many hours. But above all this terror, I know of 
nothing which struck me with such fearful sorrow as the 
sight of a fair young English girl lying by the door of the 
great saloon, her arms extended, her nut-brown hair 
soaked in her own blood, while a man knelt over her, and 
you could see his tears falling upon her dead face, and his 
ravings were incoherent and almost those of a maniac. At 
the sight of us he jumped to his feet, and shrieked "Mur- 
derers!" so continuously that the echo of his cry rang in 
my ears that day and for many days. 

Meanwhile another scene was passing on the bridge 
between the man John and the captain of the Bellonic, 

"What do you want aboard of my ship?" cried the 
latter; and "Roaring John" answered him with a mock- 
ing leer: 

"WeVe come aboard to hang you, to begin on!" 

The men with the young officer cocked their revolvers 
at this, and I said in a mad frenzy which would not brook 
silence — 

"You scoundrel, if you touch another soul here V\\ shoot 
you myself!" for I had my revolver on me. "Do you 
make a business of killing children?" I cried again, and 
pointed to the dead body of the girl-child. 

I don't know who was more surprised, the captain of 
the Bellonic, listening, or the man John. 

"You cub," he cried; "if you talk to me V\\ skin you 
alive!" but I said quickly — 

"Gentlemen, these men want every shilling on this ship. 
Give it to them now and save your lives, for you have no 



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''BJIL UPr 233 

alternative. If you give the money up, you have my word 
that they won't touch you." 

"If there's a God above," exclaimed the young captain, 
"they shall pay for this day's work with their lives. I 
hand my specie over under this protest; but don't de- 
ceive yourselves — half the war-ships in Europe shall follow 
you within a week." 

He turned away, and presently the ruffians with me had 
lowered money to the value of a hundred and fifty thou- 
sand pounds into their launch. The third mate seemed 
then somewhat cowed by my interference, and though he 
went round the ship and cried "Bail up!" every time he 
met a passenger, he did not touch one of them. I re- 
mained on the bridge a silent spectator of it all ; and when 
at last we put off again^ and the launch was full of the 
jewels and the money, it seemed that I had passed through 
a hideous dream. 

At the time, I shrank from the ruffians in the boat as 
from men who were savage fiends and a hundred times 
assassins; and their brutality of speech and of threat fell 
upon ears that would not hear; nor did their pretence 
of doing me violence then and there move me one jot. I 
maintained a stubborn indifference, my pistol still in my 
hand, my teeth shut in the defiance of them, until we 
reached the great craft, and joined Black upon the gallery. 
There, the man John explained that I had stood between 
him and his purpose of hanging the skipper of the Bel- 
Ionic; indeed, with such warmth of anger, that I thought 
my end had come upon the spot. 

"You barking cub," said Black, more quietly than 
usual, but none the less to be feared for that, "what d'ye 
mean by interfering with my men and my orders?" 



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234 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"To save you from yourself," I answered, looking him 
full in the face; "youVe killed children on that ship, if 
that*s news to you!" 

He had a spy-glass in his hand, and he raised it as 
though to strike me; but I continued to look him full in 
the face, and he remained swaying his body slightly, his 
arm still above his head. Then, suddenly it dropped at his 
side, as though paralysed; and he turned away from me. 

*'Get to your kennel," said he; "and don*t leave it till 
I fetch you," 

I was glad to escape, if only for a few moments, from 
the danger of it ; and I went to my cabin in the upper gal- 
lery, but not before the angry shouts of the men convinced 
me that Black had risked much on my behalf for the sec- 
ond time. Even when my own door was locked upon me, 
such cries as "YouVe afeard of him!" "Is he going to 
boss you, skipper?" and other jeers were audible to me; 
and the uproar lasted for some time, accompanied at the 
last by the sounds of blows, and cries as of men whipped. 
But no one came to me except the negro with my meals; 
and whatever danger ihere was of a mutiny was averted, 
as Doctor Osbart told me later in the day, by the appear- 
ance of a second passenger ship upon the horizon. The 
report of the single «hot, by which we brought her to, 
shook me in my berth, where I lay thinking of the horrid 
scenes of the morning; and for some time I scarce dared 
look from my window, lest they should be repeated. Only 
after a long silence did I open the port, and see a majestic 
vessel, not a hundred yards from us, with our launch at 
her side; and I could make out the forms of our men 
walking amongst the passengers and robbing them. 

The details of this attack 0$bart told me with keen 



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SfVARMING WITH WAR-VERMIN. 23i 

relish when he came in to smoke a cigar with me after 
my dinner, 

"We stripped them without killing a man," said he 
with hilarious satisfaction, "and took fifty thousand. 
Black's pleased ; for, to tell you the truth, there's an ugly 
spirit aboard amongst the men, and you upset them al- 
together this morning. I never saw another who could 
have said what you said to the skipper and have lived ; but 
you mustn't show on deck for a day or two — they'd mur- 
der you to pass time ; and, as it is, we'd had to post a man 
at your door, or I doubt if you'd save your skin in here." 

"You seem to be making a paying cruise," I said sar- 
castically. 

"Yes; and it's funny, for the sea is swarming with warr 
vermin. Don't you feel the pace we're going now? I ex- 
pect we're showing our heels to one of them, and shall 
show them a good many times between this and the first 
of next month, though Karl below is grumbling about the 
oil again ; you want gallons of it with gas-engines. If we 
don't pick up the tender to-morrow, it's a bad look-out." 

He did not come to mc again for three days, but I saw 
from my port early on the following morning that the 
tender was with us; and I concluded regretfully that the 
difficulty of the oil was overcome. On the second day after 
the robbery of the Bellonic, we stopped a third ship; 
though I saw nothing of it, as all the fighting was on the 
starboard side, and my cabin was to port ; but there was a 
sharp fight on the third morning with a Cape-bound ves- 
sel, and again towards the afternoon with one of the 
I^rth-Gcrman Lloyd boats homeward bound to Bremer- 
haven; as before, Osbart, coming to my rooms, delighted 
to give me the details of the capture; and that night he 
was unusually frivolous. 



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236 THE SHADOPF ON THE SEA. 

"Poor business to-day," he said, throwing himself into 
a lounge and lighting a cigar; "not an ounce of specie, and 
no jewellery to mention — and there was no killing, so 
don't put on that face of yours. Why, my dear boy, it 
was a perfect farce! I, myself, argued for twenty minutes 
with an old woman, who sat mewing like a cat on her box, 
and when I got her off it, thinking she had a thousand in 
diamonds, it was full of baby linen. And Til tell you a 
better thing. An old Dutch Jew threw a twopenny-half- 
penny bundle into the sea, and then he was so sick with 
himself that he went in after it. We hooked him out by 
the breeches with the boat-hook; but I believe he wished 
himself dead with the bundle. As for 'Fou^r-Eyes,' he 
took what he thought was five hundred in notes from a 
card-player, but they're bad, dear boy, bad— every one of 
them." 

"You don't seem very depressed about it," said I. 

"Don't I?" replied he. "Well, things aren't all they 
should be. The tender we sent to Liverpool came out in a 
hurry, as they began to watch her, with a mere bucketful 
of oil aboard. We must get oil from somewhere, or we 
shaH all swing as sure as we're doing twenty-eight knots 
now. That's what I've come to tell you about to-night. 
The skipper can't stand it any more, and is going to run to 
England himself, and see what those almighty smart naval 
people of yours are doing. He'll take you with him, for it 
would be as good as signing your death-warrant to leave 
you here. Don't count upon it, though, for we shan't let 
you out of our sight, and you've got to swear a pietty big 
oath not to give us away before you set foot on the 
tender." 

1 was overjoyed at his saying, but I feared to let him 



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RUNNING NORTH. 237 

sec It, and asked with nonchalance — "How do you pick 
this ship up again?" 

"Oh, we fix a position," he replied, "and they'll keep it 
every day at mid-day after ten days. Meanwhile we're 
running north out of the track of the cruisers." 

"I can't quite understand why the skipper takes me 
with hinl this time," I remarked, endeavouring to draw 
hin% but he answered — 

"No iiiore can I; between ourselves, he's been half- 
daft ever since you came aboard. Do you know that the 
man's more fond of you, in his own way, than of any liv- 
ing thing? I know it. I'm the only one on the ship who 
does know it, and why it is I can't tell you. I didn't 
think he was capable of a human feeling." 

"It's very good of him to waste so much affection on 
me," said I, meaning to be derisive, but Osbart checked 
me. 

"Don't laugh," he exclaimed; "you owe your life to 
him alone." 



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238 
CHAPTER XXIU. 

I GO TO LONDON. 

It was a week after this conversation that Captain Black, 
Doctor Osbart, and myself entered the 7,30 train from 
Ramsgate ; leaving in the outer harbour of that still qua'nt 
town the screw tender, now disguised, with the man John 
and eight of the most turbulent among the crew of the 
nameless ship aboard her. We had«come without hin- 
drance through the crowded waters of the Channel ; and, 
styling ourselves a Norwegian whaler in ballast, had 
gained the difficult harbour without arousing suspicion. 
At the first. Black had thought to leave me on the 
steamer; but I, who had an insatiable longing to set foot 
ashore again, gave him solemn word that I would not seek 
to quit him, that I would not in any way betray him while 
the truce lasted, and that I would return, wherever I 
was, to the tender in the harbour at the end of a week. 
He concluded the conditions with the simple words, "Fm 
a big fool, but you can come." The others opened their 
eyes and tapped their foreheads, for they believed him to 
be a maniac. 

I will not pause to tell you my own thoughts when I 
set foot on shore again. So great was my amazement at it 
all that I went some time without collecting myself to sec 
that the invisible hand of God, which had led me all 
through, was leading me again — even, as I hoped, to the 
consummation of it. Fearless in this new thought, I sat 
in the corner of the first-class carriage reserved for us in 
such a state of exultation and of hope as few men can have 



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J STRANGE CONTRAST. 239 

known. Before me were the downs of Kent, the open face 
of an English landscape, the orchard-bound homesteads, 
the verdurous pasture-land. The hedges were bedecked 
with their late autumn flowers; the teams and smock- 
frocked men were going home to the gabled houses, and 
the warm-lit cottages. There was odour of the harvest 
yet in the air, and the distant chiming of bells from the 
Gothic tower which rose above the hamlet and the knoll of 
green. Each little town we passed cast from its windows 
bright rays upon the tremulous twilight; a great bar of 
fiery redness cut the lower black of the coming night, 
showing me in shadow the rising of land towards Chatham 
and towards Lx)ndon. Yet it was the peace of the scene 
that came to me with the greatest power ; the many tokens 
of home — above all, the thought "I am in England." I 
could not help but carry my memory at this time to the 
last occasion when, with Roderick and Mary, I had come 
to London in the very hope of getting tidings of this man 
who now sat with me in a Kent-Coast express. Where 
were the others then — the girl who had been as a sister to 
me, and the man as a brother ; how far had the fear of my 
death made sad that childish face which had known such 
little sadness in its sixteen years of life? It was odd to 
think that Mary might be then returned to London, and 
that I, whom perchance she thought dead, was near to her, 
and yet, in a sense, more cut off from her than in the 
grave itself. And Black, whom all the Governments were 
pursuing so lustily, was at my side smoking a great cigar, 
apparently oblivious to all sense of danger or of hazard. 
Life has many contrasts, but it never had a stranger than 
that, I feel sure. 
It was after ten g'dock that the ride terminated ; and, 



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a40 THE SHADOff ON THE SEA. 

following Black and Osbart into a closed carriage that 
awaited us, I was driven from the station. I should say 
that we drove for fifteen minutes or more, staying at last 
before a house in a narrow cul-de-sac, where we went up- 
stairs to a suite of rooms reserved for us. After an excel- 
lent supper Osbart left us, but Black took me to a double- 
bedded room, saying that he could not let me out of his 
sight, and that I must share the sleeping-place with him. 

^'Boy, if you make one attempt to play me false," said 
he, "TU blow your brains out, though you were my own 
son." 

Then he went to bed at once in a morose and forebod- 
ing mood, and I followed his example quickly. 

On the next morning Black quitted the house at an early 
hour after breakfast, but he locked the door of the room 
upon Osbart and myself. "Not," as he said, "because I 
can't take your word, but because I don't want anyone 
fooling in here." He returned in the evening at seven 
o'clock, and found me as he had left me, reading a later 
novel of Paul Bourget's; for Osbart had slept all the 
afternoon, and was always complaining when on shore. 

The view from the window upon a balcony of lead and 
the back windows of near houses was not inviting, and my 
bond had held me back from all idle thoughts of eluding 
him. Life in London under such conditions was little 
preferable to life on the ship, and I had no heart to hear 
Black's stories of things doing in town ; or to examine the 
many purchases of miniatures, and quaint old jewels, 
which he had laid on the dinner-table. 

The following day was Thursday. I shall always re- 
member it, for r regard it as one of the most memorable 
days in my life. Black went out as usual early in the 



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/ Hear tHk hum of TOfVN. 241 

morning; his object being, as on the preceding day, to find 
out, if he could, what the Admiralty were doing in view 
of the robbery of the Bellonic; and Osbart, refusing to get 
up to breakfast, lay in bed reading the morning papers. 
We had been left thus about the space of an hour when 
there came a telegram for the doctor, who read it with a 
fierce exclamation. 

"The Captain wants me urgently," said he, "and 
there's nothing to do but leave you here. We are trust- 
ing absolutely to you, now; but be quite sure, if you 
make half a move to betray us, it will be the last you will 
ever make. I may return here in ten minutes. You must 
put up with the indignity of being locked in; and, dear 
boy, don't trouble yourself to look for sympathy in this 
place, for the man who owns this house is one of us, and, 
if you call out, you'll get a rap on the head pretty quickly." 

He went out jauntily, and I watched him, little think- 
ing that I should never see him again. When he was gone 
I sat in the great armchair, pulling it to the window, and 
taking up my book. The sensation of being alone in the 
centre of London, and unable by my oath to make the 
slightest attempt to help myself, was most curious; yet 
with it all I could not but think that I had touched the 
culminating point, and was near to the ending of it for 
good or for ill. From the window of my room I could 
hear the hum of town, the rumbling of 'buses, and the 
subdued roar of London awake. I could even see people 
in the houses at the other side of the leads, and it occurred 
to me, What if I open that casement and call for help ? I 
had given my pledge. It is true; but should a pledge bind 
under such conditions? The sanctity of an oath is a fine 
thing for theological subtlety. I had no such subtlety. I 



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242 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

knew that the argument in favour of wrong is pleasing to 
the mental palate; and I put it from me, believing that 
the breaking of my bond would put me upon the immoral 
plane of the men to whom it had been given. 

I was in the very throes of such a mental struggle when 
the strange event of the day happened. I chanced to look 
up from the book I had been trying to read, and I saw a 
remarkable object upon the leads outside my window. It 
was the figure of a man with a collapsible neck, a wonder- 
ful neck, which expanded appallingly, and again was with- 
drawn into a narrow and herring-like chest. The fellow 
might have been thirty years of age; he might have been 
fifty; there was no hair on his face, no colour in his hol- 
low cheeks ; only a nervous movement of the bony fingers, 
and that awful craning of the collapsible neck. I saw in 
a moment that he was looking into my room; and pres- 
ently, when he had given me innumerable nods and winks, 
he took a knife from his pocket, and opened the catch, step- 
ping into the chamber with the nimble foot of a goat upon 
a crag-path. Then he drew a chair up to mine, and, 
making more signs and inexplicable motions of the eye, 
he slapped me upon the knee, and said — 

"In the name of the law!" 

This was uttered with such ridiculous levity that I 
laughed at him. 

"Yes," he went on, unmoved, "I take you by surprise; 
but business, Mr. Mark Strong," and he became very 
serious, while his neck went out like a yard-measure and 
he cast a quick glance round the room. 

"Business," he said, when he had satisfied himself that 
we were alone, "and in two words. In the first place I 
have wired to your friend, Mr. Roderick Stewart, and I 



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SIX MEN IN THE STREET. 243 

expect him from Portsmouth in a couple of hours ; in the 
second, your other friend, the doctor, is under lock and 
key, on the trifling charge of murder in the Midlands, to 
begin with. When we have Captain Black, the little 
party will be complete." 

I looked at him, voiceless from the surprise of it. The 
magical neck was absorbed in the chest again, and he went 
on — 

"I needn*t tell you who I am; but there's my card. 
We have six men in the street outside, and another half- 
dozen watching the leads here. You will be sensible 
enough to follow my instructions absolutely. Black, we 
know, leaves the country to-night in his steamer — yester- 
day at Ramsgate; to-day we do not know where. The 
probability is that he will come to fetch you at seven 
o'clock — I have frightened it all out of the people down- 
stairs — if he does, you will go with him. Otherwise, he's 
pretty sure to send someone for you, and, as you at the 
moment are our sole link between that unmitigated 
scoundrel and his arrest, I ask you to risk one step more, 
and return at any rate as far as the coast, that we may 
follow him for the last time. You'll do that for us?" 

I looked at his card, whereon was the inscription, 
"Detective-Inspector King, Scotland Yard;" and I said 
at once — 

"I shall not only go to the coast, but to his tender, for 
IVe given my word. What you may do in the meantime 
is not my affair; but " 

"Yes," he said, eagerly, craning his neck again, " *for 
God's sake keep your eye on me,' that's what you were 
going to say. Well, we shall do it. We owe it to you 
that we've got any clue to tbe man, and you're not likely 



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244 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

to lose anything from the Government by what youVc 
done." 

"I suppose he's made a sensation?" I asked, in sim- 
plicity, and he looked as a man who has yesterday's news. 

"Sensation! There's been no such stir since the French 
war. There isn't another subject talked of in any house 
in Europe — but, read that; and, whatever you do don't 
make a sign until we give you the clue. It's not safe for 
me to stay here: he may return any minute. I wish ypu 
luck of it; and it's ten thousand in my pocket, any way!" 

Detective-Inspector King went as he had come, craning 
his neck, and passing noiselessly over the leads ; but he left 
me a newspaper, wherein there was column after column 
concerning the robbery of the Bellonic, and a dish worthy 
of all journalistic sensation-mongering. I read this with 
avidity; with sharp appetite for the extraordinary hope 
which had come so curiously into my life. At last, the 
police were on the trail of Captain Black; yet I saw at 
once that, lacking my help, he would elude them. It was 
strange that, after all, I, who had seemed to fail so hope- 
lessly in my enterprise, should at last bring this giant In 
crime to justice. For, if he had not burdened himself with 
me, he would then have left in the tender, and, once on the 
nameless ship, would have defied the world. But now 
they watched him ; and from the solitude of my imprison- 
ment I seemed to be lifted in a moment to a joyous state 
of expectation and excitement. 

It was then about three o'clock in the afternoon. I 
heard the hour from a neighbouring church ; and I recalled 
the detective's words, "I have telegraphed for your friend, 
Roderick." If his anticipations were correct, I should sec 
the one man I had the greatest love for within an hour. 
Yet, on recollection, I would have had it otherwise. If 



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/ RECOGNISE INSPECTOR KING. 245 

once I looked on Mary's face again, I knew that the task 
would be almost beyond my strength ; and as it happened, 
it was well that I had not this burden to bear in the last 
hours of the great struggle. For four o'clock struck, and 
five, and no one came; and it was half-past six when at 
last a man unlocked the door of my room, and entered. 
He was one of Black's negroes. 

"Sar will come quick," said he, "and leave his luggage. 
The master waits." 

He gave me no time for any explanations, but took me 
by the arm, and, passing from the house by a back door, 
he went some way down a narrow street, and turned into 
Piccadilly. There a cab waited for us, and we drove 
away, but not before one, who stood on the pavement, had 
made a slight signal to me, and called another cab. 

In him I recognised Detective-Inspector King, ^d I 
knew that we were followed. 



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246 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

We drove rapidly, passing the Criterion, so into the 
Strand, and along the Thames Embankment. Thence, we 
went through Queen Victoria Street, past the Mansion 
House, and to Fenchurch Street Station, where we took 
a train for Tilbury. 

The journey was accomplished in something under an 
hour ; and when we alighted and got upon the bank of the 
river, I saw a steam-launch with the man John in the 
bows of her. I thought it strange that there was no sign 
of any watchers at this place; but I entered the launch 
without a word, and we started immediately, going at a 
great pace towards Sheerness ; and reached the Nore after 
some buffet with the seas in the open. At this point we 
sighted the tender, and went aboard her, while they 
hauled up the launch, when we made full speed towards 
the North Foreland. 

It was then quite dark, with a stiff breeze blowing right 
abaft. The night, a moonless and very black one, fa- 
voured us altogether for the run which, I did not doubt, 
we had to make against some Government vessel that 
would follow us. But I found to my surprise that the 
men on the ship knew nothing of the dangerous position in 
which they were, and worked with a calm disregard to 
the blackness of the night, and to the hazard of the mo- 
ment. Black I did not meet, for they put me into a cabin 
aft, of which I was the sole occupant; and, being ordered 



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fTE SIGHT THE NORTH FORELAND 247 

by the man John, who was half-drunk and very threaten- 
ing, to get below, I turned in shortly after coming aboard, 
and lay down to reckon with the strange probabilities of 
the hour. 

One thing was very evident. Black had made a colos- 
sal mistake, from his point of view, in setting foot in 
England; but the crowning blunder of his life was that 
fatal act of folly by which he had sought to shield me 
from the men. How long the Government had been 
watching for him, or for tidings of me, I could not tell, 
but it must have been since Roderick had reached New 
York, and had told all he knew of the ship of mystery 
and of her owner. 

Now the object of letting Black reach his vessel again 
was as clear as daylight; it was not so much the man as 
his ship which they wished to take, and, by following him 
to the Atlantic, they were giving him rope to hang himself. 

But were we followed? I had seen nothing to lead me 
to that conclusion as I came down the Thames ; and now, 
favoured by an intensely dark night, we promised, if noth- 
ing should intervene, to gain the Atlantic in two days, and 
to be aboard that strange citadel which was our stronghold 
against the nations. 

This thought troubled me very much, so much that 
sleep was out of the question, and I went above again, un- 
deterred by the probability of a difference with the men. 
The night was somewhat clearer when I reached the poop, 
and I could make out the fine flood of light that came 
from the North Foreland; while it was evident that we 
had taken the outer passage and should pass on the French 
side of the Goodwins. There were no men aft as I took 
my stand by the second wheel, but I heard the bawl of the 
watch forward, and a man who wore oilskins was pacing 



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14^ THE SHADOff ON THE SEA. 

the bridge. I Was able, therefore, to get a good notidn of 
all things about us ; and when the moon showed later, the 
Channel seemed full of ships. Away towards the F6re* 
land I made out a fleet of French luggers standing in 
close to shore; there were two or three colliers returning 
to the Thames on our port bow, and some English smacks 
lying-to right ahead of us, the moon showing them brightly 
in a lake of light, their men busy at the nets, or huddled 
at the tiller as the smacks rolled to a choppy sea. But 
there was no sign of any war-ship pursuing; no indication 
whatever that the tender, then steaming at thirteen knots 
towards Dover, was watched or observed by iny living 
being. 

I had just satisfied myself of this, and had become de* 
pressed accordingly, when I heard a step behind me. I 
turned round quickly, to find that the man Tohn had come 
up to the poop. He was in his oilskins, for there was 
some sea shipped for'ard, and he greeted me with a savage 
ferocity which was meant to be pleasant. 

"Keeping a watch on your own hook, my fine gentle- 
man, eh?" said he; "and after my orders for ydu to be 
abed — that's pretty discipline, I reckon." 

I made no sort of answer, but turned my back on him, 
and continued to watch the twinkling lights of Deal. This 
appeared to irritate him, for he put his hand on my shoul- 
der roughly and hissed savagely — 

"Oh, I guess; you've got your fine coat, ain't jpou, and 
your pretty airs. Darn me if I don't take ydu down a 
peg, skipper or no skipper!" 

His great hand was almost on n^ throat, and he shoofk 
me with fearful grip, so that I hit him with my rig^t hand 
just below his heart, and bent him double like a reed. His 
terrible gasps for breath were so alarming that I th<Higiit 



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JOHN DRAWS HIS KNIFE. 249 

at first he would never recover his wind ; but >vhen he did 
he drew his knife, and raised his arm to take aim at my 
throat. It is probable that my life had been ended there 
and then had not another watched the scene ^nd suddenly 
clutched the extended wrist. Captain Black had come to 
us with noiseless step; and he gave me then my first 
knowledge of his prodigious physical strength, for he held 
John's arm as in a vise, and, giving the ruffian's wrist a 
peculiar turn, he sent the knife flying in the air, and it 
struck quivering in the deck twenty feet from where we 
stood. 

"You long-jawed bully, what d'ye mean by that?" cried 
the skipper, white with anger; and then he twisted the 
fellow's arm until I thought he would have broken it. 
Nor did he let him go until he had kicked him the length 
pf the poop, and tumbled him, torn and bleeding, upon the 
main hatch below. 

"Lay your fingers on the boy again, and I'll give you 
six dozen," he said quietly ; and then he came to my side, 
and he stood for a long while leaning on the bulwarks and 
gazing over towards the receding shore. He spoke to me 
at last, but in a more gentle tone than I had ever heard 
from him^— indeed, there w:as almost kindliness in his 
voice. 

"Do you make out anything of a big ship yonder?" he 
9sked, pointing almost abaft. 

"I s«e nothing but the hull of a collier," said I. 

"Then it's my sight that's plaguing me again," and he 
continued to look as though he had some great purpose in 
satisfying himself, while from the fo'castlc there came 
shouts of laughter and singing. When he beard this he 
spoke again, but almost to hmseli. 



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250 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"Shout away, you scum/' he muttered; "shout while 
you can. It'll be a different tune to-morrow/' 

I was leaning then on the bulwarks almost at his side, 
and presently he addressed himself directly to me, and 
earnestly. 

"We had a narrow shave to-night. It's put me out to 
leave the doctor, for he was the best of them — one of the 
only men that I could reckon on. If it hadn't been for 
him and the Irishman, this lot would have swung long 
ago — maybe they'll swing now. The hounds have got the 
scent; and, God knows, they will follow it! It's lucky 
for some of them that I had twenty pairs of eyes open for 
me in London, and knew the Government's game in time 
to get this tender out of Ramsgate; but you mark me, 
boy, there's trouble coming, and thick. I've gone out 
without a gallon of oil again, and by-and-by we're going 
to run for our necks, every man of us." 

"What makes you think that?" I asked. 

"What makes me think that? — why, my senses. 
They'll follow us from some port here, as sure as the 
wind's rising; maybe they'll let us get aboard the ship, 
and then that'll be the beginning of it. But if we only 
hold out with the oil, then let 'em take cace of them- 
selves " 

"And if not?" 

He shrugged his shoulders and was silent ; but anon he 
asked again what I thought of a long, rakish-looking 
steamer lying some miles away on the starboard quarter, 
and when I had satisfied him he said — 

"Come downstairs and get some wine in you, boy;" 
and I went below to his smaH and not very elegant cabin, 
where he put champagne and glasses on the table. 



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THREE MASTS ON THE PORT QUARTER. 251 

"Let's drink against the thirst we'll have to-morrow," 
cried he, getting quite jovial, and pouring the Pommery 
down his throat as though it had been beer. "This is an 
occasion such as we shan't often know — the old ship 
against Europe, and one man against the lot of them! 
Why, lad, if it wasn't for the thought of the oil, I'd get 
up and dance! The lubbers could no more lay a finger on 
me, given fair fight, than they could touch the moon. 
You see, it's just the oil that Karl's feared all along; 
drive by gas, and you want twenty times the grease in 
your cylinders that you'll ever need in a steam-ship. If 
there hadn't been that break-up north, we'd never have 
been in this hole; but that's one of the risks of a game 
like this, and I'll play my hand out." 

He went on to talk of many other things, but as he did 
not speak of his own past, or of the ship, I began to nod 
with sleep; and presently I found him covering me up 
with a rug and turning out the lamp. I was dead worn- 
out then, and must have slept twelve hours at the least, 
for it was afternoon when I awoke, and the sun streamed 
in through the skylight upon a table whereon dinner was 
set. But Black was not in the cabin, and I went above to 
hkn on the bridge, which he paced with a restless step and 
a betraying haste. There was no land then to be seen ; but 
the clear play of sparkling waves shone away to the hori- 
zon over a tumbling sea, upon which were a few ships. 
Upon one of these he constantly turned his glass ; she was 
a long screw steamer, showing two funnels and three 
masts, away some miles on the port quarter, and I saw at 
once that from this ship the Captain got all his fear. 

"Do you make her out?" he said in a big whisper di- 
rectly I came up to him, and then, hushing me, he added — 



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252 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"Keep your tongue still, and say nothing. Thjlt*s a 
British cruiser in passenger paint. She's comt out frotii 
Southampton," 

This was about the very best bit of news he cduld hjlve 
given me ; but I did flot let him scfc that I thought so, for 
I had eyes only for the ship in olir wake. She was a long 
boat of the Northumberland class ; but there was nothing 
whatever about her to betray her disguise, since she had all 
the look of an Orient, or a P. and O. liner, and wds too 
far away from us to permit st reading of her flag. The 
men evidently had not seen her, or took no notice 6f her 
if they had ; but John upon the bridge followed thfe move- 
ments bf Black with curiosity, and once or twice turned 
his own glass on the black hull just visible above the 
horizon. He had forgotten the episode of tht previous 
night — when, undoubtedly, he was full of drink — and was 
almost as troubled as the skipper. 

"What's he up to?" he asked me in a whisper, as Black 
kept turning his glass towards tht hull of the other ship. 
"Did he get any liquor in him last night? 1 never saw 
him this way before." 

And again, after si pause — 

"Have you got any eyes for that ship? What's he 
fixing her like that for? She's nd more thin an Orient 
boat by her jib, and if she kys on her course We'U make it 
warm for her outside." 

Black he^rd his last w6rds> and turned round upon him 
savagely — 

"Yes," he said, "it'll be warm enough out there for 
them as lives as weH as for the dead. Ring down for 
more firing; what's the lubber at? — he's not giving her 
thirteen knotl." 



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THE FIRING OF A GUN. 25s 

By-and-by all the crew beg;an to observe Black's anxiety 
and to crowd to the starboard side; but he told them noth- 
ing, although he never left the bridge, and cursed fiercely 
whenever the speed of the tender slacked at all. It was 
somewhat perplexing to me to observe that, while the 
great ship was undoubtedly following us, she did not gain 
a yard upon us. During the whole of that long after- 
noon, and through the watches of the early night, when 
I remained upon the bridge with Black, we kept our rela- 
tive distances; but, do all we could, the other would not 
be shaken off ; and when, after a few hours* sleep, I came 
on deck at the dawn of the second day, she was still on our 
quarter, following like the vulture follows the living man 
whose hours are numbered. 

"There's no humbug about her game," cried Black, 
whose face was lined with the furrows of anxiety and pale 
with long watching; "she means to take us on the open 
sea, and she's welcome to the course. If I don't riddle 
her like a sieve, stretch me!" 

This strange pursuit lasted three days and into the 
third night ; when I was awakened from a snatch of sleep 
by the firing of a gun above my head. I dressed hurriedly 
and got on deck, where my eyes were almost blinded by a 
great volume of light which spread over the sea from a 
point some two miles away on our starboard bow. We 
had been in the Atlantic then for twenty-four hours, and 
I did not doubt for a moment that we had reached the 
nameless ship. Had there been any uncertainty, the wild 
joy of the men would have banished it. From windlass 
to wheel our decks presented a scene of wild excitement. 
Above all the shouting, the raucous laughter, and the 
threats against the cruiser — ^whose lights showed them less 
than a mile away^ — I heard the voice of Black, singing: 



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254 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"Hands, stand by to lower boats!" and the yelping of 
"Roaring John." It seemed at that moment that we 
should gain the impregnable citadel without suffering one 
shot, and while I should have been happier if the attack 
had been upon the tender, and my chances of gaining the 
Government ship thus more sure, I was in a measure car- 
ried away by the excitement of the position, and I verily 
believe that I cheered with the others. 

At that moment the cruiser showed her teeth. Sud- 
denly there was a rush of flame from her bows, and a 
shell hissed above us — the first sign of her attempt to stop 
us joining our own ship. The poor shooting excited only 
the derision of the men, who set up their wild "halloas!" 
at it; and again, when a second shot struck the aft mast 
and shivered it, they were provoked to boisterous merri- 
ment. But we could make no reply, and those on the 
nameless ship could not fire, for we lay right between them 
and the other. 

"Hands, lower boats!" yelled Black at this moment, 
and then, leaving no more than ten or fifteen men in the 
steamer, he led the way to the launch. 

We were now no more than a quarter of a mile from 
safety, but the run was full of peril, and, as the launch 
stood out, the nameless ship of a sudden shut oif her light, 
if possible to shield us in the dark. But the pursuer in- 
stantly flooded us with her own arc, and, following it with 
quick shots, she hit the jolly-boat at the third. Of the 
eight men there, only two rose when the hull had disap- 
peared. 

"Fire away, by thunder!" cried Black, shaking his fist, 
and mad with passion; "and get your hands in: you'll 
want all the bark youVe got just now." 

But we had hauled the men aboard as he spoke, and, 



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A GLORIOUS MOMENT. 255 

though two shells foamed in the sea and wetted us to the 
skin in the passage, we were at the ladder of the nameless 
ship without other harm, and with fierce shouts the men 
gained the decks. 

For them it was a glorious moment. They had weath- 
ered the perils of a city, and stood where they could best 
face the crisis of the pursuit. It was a spectacle to move 
the most stolid apathy: the sight of a couple of hundred 
demoniacal figures lighted by the great white wave of light 
from the enemy's ship, their faces upturned as they waited 
Black's orders, their hands flourishing knives and cut- 
lasses, their hunger for the contest betrayed in every ges- 
ture. I stood upon the gallery high above the seas, and 
looked down upon the motley company, or along the space 
of the hazy arc to the other ves^I and I asked myself 
again and again, What if w^e shall win — what if this des- 
perate adventurer shall again outwit those who have coped 
with him, and hold his mastery of the sea? 

Nor did it seem so improbable that he would. Thos^ 
upon the Government cruiser betrayed their uneasiness 
every moment by casting the beams of tkeir search-light on 
every point of the horizon; but their signal was unan- 
swered, no assuring rays shone out in the distant blackness 
of the night. We two were alone upon the Atlantic, there 
to fight the duel of the nations; and I confess that in the 
unparalleled excitement of the moment I rejoiced that it 
was so ; I hoped, even, that the nameless ship would carrj 
the hour, so much had she fascinated me, so astounding 
were her achievements. 

This truly was the critical moment in Black's career. 
He stepped on the bridge to find Karl wringing his hands, 
and "Four-Eyes" was no less uneasy. 



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356 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"Faith, sorr," said he, as soon as wc had come aboard, 
"it's bad times intoirely if yeVc no oil — we've been work- 
ing two engines for three days, and we'll be sore put to 
ut to kape the third going, if ye can't mend us." 

Karl emphasized the words with stamps and tears and 
frantic gesticulation — not lost upon Black, who advanced 
to the front of the bridge, and called for silence in a voice 
that would have split a berg. A deathlike stillness suc- 
ceeded; you could hear the wash of the waves and the 
moaning of the wind : two hundred upturned faces shone 
ghastly white under the spreading beams which the 
cruiser's lantern cast upon them. 

"Boys," cried Black, "yonder's a Government ship. 
You know me, that I don't run after war-scum every day, 
for that's not my business. But we're short of oil, and the 
cylinders are heating. If we don't get it in twenty-four 
hours, there'll be devil's work, and we shan't do it. Boys, 
it's swing or take that ship and the oil aboard her — 
which '11 you have?" 

There was no doubt about their answer — there could be 
none. In one way it was almost as if the cruiser herself 
gave reply, for there was the roar of a great gun when 
Black had finished speaking, and a shot hissed from above 
our poop and burst in the seas beyond us. A mighty shout 
followed, but was converted instantly into a cry of warn- 
ing, as the forward hands sang out — 

"Look out aft — the torpedo!" and other hands took 
up the cry, yelling "The torpedo! The torpedo!" 

The tiny line of foam was just visible for a second in 
the way of the light; but, the moment the cruiser had shot 
it from het tube, she extinguished her arc, leaving us to 
light the waters with our own. There was no difficulty 



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THE HELM GOES OVEk. 2i1 

whatever in following the line of the deadly message, and 
for a moment every heart, I doubt not, almost stood still. 

"Full speed astern!" roared Black, forgetting himself, 
but instantly ringing the bell, and the nameless ship moved 
backwards, faster and yet faster. But the black death- 
bearer followed her, as a shark follows a death-ship; we 
seemed even to have backed into its course — it came on as 
though to strike us full amidships. 

The excitement was almost more than I could bear; I 
turned away, waiting for the tremendous concussion; I 
heard awful curses from the men, the cowardly shouting 
of "Roaring John," the blasphemies of "Dick the Ranter." 
I knew that Black alone was calm ; and at the last I fixed 
my eyes on him when the head of the torpedo's foam was 
not thirty yards away from us. In that supreme moment 
the power of the man rose to a great height. He grasped 
the situation with the calmness of one thinking in bed; 
and waiting motionless for some seconds, which were sec- 
onds almost of agony to the rest of us, he cried of a 
sudden — 

"Hard a-starboard!" and the helm went over with a 
run. 

The movement was altogether superb. The great ship 
swung around with a majestic sweep, and as we waited 
breathlessly, the torpedo passed right under our bow, miss- 
ing the ram by a hair's-breadth. The reaction was nigh 
intolerable; the men waited for some seconds silent as 
the voiceless; then their cheers rang away over the seas 
in a great volume of sound, which must have re-echoed 
down in the caverns of the Atlantic. 

"You, Dick," ordered Black, "return the lubbers that, 
or ril whip you;" and Dick, who had got his wits back, 
replied — 



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258 THE SHADOfV ON THE SEA. 

"Skipper, if I dinna dive into their internals, gic mc 
sax dozen." 

"Hands to quarters," continued the skipper; "let no 
man show himself till I call, then him as doesn*t fight for 
all he's worth, let him prepare to swing." 

With this there fell a great busyness, the men going, 
some to the turrets, some to the magazines below. 

Black had not noticed me during the episode of the 
torpedo, but he turned round now, and, seeing that I stood 
near him, he beckoned me into the conning-tower with 
him. It was a chamber lined with steel with a small 
glass for the look-out, and electric knobs which allowed 
communication with the engine-rooms, the wheel, the tur- 
rets, and the magazines. From that pinnacle of metal you 
could navigate the ship, and there Black fought the battle 
of that night and of the days following. And as I stood 
at his side I learned from his running comments much of 
the course of the fight. 

"Boy," he said, "what I'm worth Tm going to show 
this night; and, as your eyes are younger than mine, Tm 
going to borrow the loan of them. That hen-coop yonder 
with the Government flag on her isn't far from company, 
you may be pretty sure. She's help near, and from that 
help I'm going to cut her off, and quick. Take your 
stand here by me, and watch the seas while I manage the 
light." 

He had his hand on a little tap which enabled him to 
throw his arc upon every point of the horizon, and, as the 
light travelled, he asked me — 

"Do you make out anything? Is there more of *cm at 
her heels?" 

"Nothing that I can see; she seems alone." 



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THE THUNDER OF THE GUN. 259 

"Then God help her, though we're only running two 
engines. Now watch the shot." 

The focus was then upon the cruiser, whose own light 
kept playing upon the horizon as though searching for a 
convoy she awaited. But when the conning-tower shook 
with the thunder of our fore gun, the other reeled, and 
her arc-light went out with a great flash. 

"That's a hit," I exclaimed, with ridiculous want ot 
control; "I believe youVe struck her abaft the funnel. 
Yes, I can see the list on her; you've hit her clean." 

His face never moved at the intelligence, but he rang 
the order, "Hard to port!" and we weathered round, 
showing our aft turret to the enemy, whose bark for the 
moment was stilled. 

"Watch again," said Black, as he rang to the turret 
chamber, and the aft gun roared ; but I could not see that 
the shot struck, and I told him so. 

"I'll give that parson a dozen if he does that again," 
he remarked, unmoved by the crash of a shot which struck 
us right under our turret. Then he took a cigar, and 
spoke between his teeth when he had lighted it — 

"There's twelve inches of steel there," he said with a 
laugh; "let *em knock on it and welcome. Don't you 
smoke? — I always do; it keeps my head clear." 

Two more shots, one right above the engine-room and 
the second at the ram, answered his levity. 

"Come on, you devils!" he blurted out with glee. 
"Come in and dance, by thunder, while I play ye the tune! 
Now hearken to it." 

We came up again, and fired at the cruiser, hitting her 
right under the funnel, and a second time near her fore 
gun, so that you could see her reel and shiver even under 
the rays of the search-light Nor did she answer our firing. 



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26o THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

but rolled to the swell apparently out of action. All this 
I could see, and I answered the skipper's hurried and 
anxious questions as every fresh movement was visible. 

"What's she doing, eh?" he asked. "Did that stop 
her? Is she coaling up, or does she signal? Lord, if I 
had the oil, Fd sweep the sea from New York to Queens- 
town. What is it, boy? — ^why don't you answer me?'' 

"You don't give me time; but I can see now. She's 
coaling up, and there are men forward working with 
oars.'' 

"Do you say that?" he said, pushing me away from the 
glass. "Do you say that she's coaling? By thunder, 
you're right! We'll have her oil yet; and then let them 
as come after me look to themselves!" 

As he said the last word he stepped from the conning- 
tower to the bridge, and I followed him; 

There, at a distance of a third of a mile away on the 
starboard bow, was the crippled cruiser, helpless by her 
look; and our light fell full upon her, showing men in 
great activity on her decks, and others running forward, 
as though there were danger also in the fo'castle. The 
night around us was very dark, and the huge, heaving 
swell shone black as pitch in mountains and cavities below 
the gallery. We two were alone there upon the ocean, 
finishing that terrible duel — if, indeed, the end had not 
come, as I thought from the silence of the other. 

"Skipper, are you going aboard her now?" asked the 
man "Roaring John," who came to us on the bridge. 
"She's done by her looks, and you'll get no oil if ye delay. 
Karl there, he ain't as comfortable as if he were in his 
bed." 

The little German was very far from it. He was 
almost desperate when minute by minute his stock of oil 



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"'NUMBER TWOr'' 261 

grew less; and he ran from one to the other as though 
we had grease in our pockets, and could give it to him. 

Black took due notice, but did not lose his calm. His 
cigar was now glowing red, and he took it often from his 
mouth, looking at the lighted end of it as a man does who 
is thinking quickly. 

"You*re quite sure she's done, John?" he asked, turn- 
ing to the big man. 

"She's done, I guess, or why don't she spit? If she's 
got another kick in her, send me to the devil!'* 

The words had scarce left his lips when the cruiser's 
aft guns thundered out almost together, and one shell 
passed through the very centre of our group. It cut the 
man John in half as he might have been cut by a sword, 
and his blood and flesh splashed us, while the other half of 
him stood up like a bust upon the deck, and during one 
horrible moment his arms moved wildly, and there was a 
horrid quivering of the muscles of his face. The second 
'shot struck the roof of the turret obliquely, and glanced 
from it into the sea. The destruction seemed to move 
Black no more than a rain shower. He simply cried: 
"All hands to cover; I'm going to give 'em a taste of the 
machine-guns;" and we re-entered the conning-tower. 
Then, as we began to move again, I swept the horizon 
with our light; but this time, far away over the black 
waste of water, the signal was answered. 

"Number two!" said Black quite calmly, when I told 
him, "and this time a battle-ship. Well, boy, if we don't 
take that oil yonder in ten minutes you may say your 
prayers." 



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262 
CHAPTER XXV. 

THE DUMB MAN SPEAKS. 

Hb put up the helm as he spoke, and brought our head 
round so that we were in a position to have rammed the 
cruiser had we chosen. This was not Black's object. He 
desired first to cripple her completely, then to finish her 
with the Maxim guns. 

"Now, let's see what that Scotsman's worth," he cried, 
as he laid down his cigar, and spoke through one of the 
tubes. Almost with his words the tower shook with the 
thunder, the twent>'-nine ton gun in the fore turret 
belched forth flame, and the hissing shell struck the 
steamer over her very magazine. We waited for a re- 
sponse, but none came. She had received the shot, as it 
proved, right on her great gun; and the weapon lay 
shivered and useless, cast quite free from its carriage, 
while dead men were around it in heaps. 

"Dick's earned his dinner," said Black, taking up his 
cigar again, as he rang twice, and the men rushed to the 
small guns, and prepared to get them into action. "We'll 
give 'em a little hail this time, for they haven't the cover 
we have. If we don't get aboard before the other comes 
up, they get the trick." 

The nameless ship bounded forward into the night as he 
spoke, and, soon coming up with the helm a-starboard, she 
was not fifty yards away from her long opponent when 
the deadly steel storm began its havoc. For our part, the 
men had cover of a sort in the fore-top, and there were 
steel screens round the deck-guns; but when the cruiser 



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BLACK TAKES A SIGHT. 263 

replied with her own small arms many fell; and groans, 
and shrieks, and curses rose, and were audible even to us 
in the tower. Never have I known anything akin to that 
terrible episode when bullets rang upon our decks in 
hundreds, and the dead and living in the other ship lay 
huddled together, in a seething, struggling, moaning mass. 
For she had little cover, being a cruiser, and we had 
opened fire upon her before such of her men as could be 
spared had got below. 

"Let 'em digest that!" cried Black, as he watched the 
havoc, and puffed away with serene calmness amidst the 
stress of it all; "let 'em swallow lead, the vultures. I'd 
sink 'em with one shot if it wasn't for their oil; but they 
ain't alone!" 

It was true. I, who had not ceased to watch that dis- 
tant light which marked another war-ship on the horizon, 
knew that a second light had shone out as a star away over 
the sea ; and now, when I looked again at his words, I saw 
a third light, but I had no courage to tell him of it. In- 
deed, we were being surrounded, and the danger was the 
greater for every minute of delay. The cruiser, although 
she suffered so grievously from the storm of lead which 
we rained upon her, had not hauled down her flag, and 
still replied to our fire, but more feebly. And the search- 
lights of the distant ships were clearer to my view every 
moment, so that I watched them alone at the last; and 
Black saw them, and took a sight from the glass. Then 
for the first time his cigar fell from his lips, and he mut- 
tered an exclamation which might have been one of fear. 

"Boy," he said, "you should have told me of this. I 
sec three lights, and that means a fleet of the devils to 
come. Well, I'll risk it, as I've risked it before. If I can 



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264 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

stop 'em now with a shot, the game's ours; jf she sinks, 
they trump us." 

He gave a long order in careful words down through 
the tube to the turret, and, coming up to position, we fired 
at the cruiser for the last time, hitting her low down in 
the very centre of her engine-room. A great volume of 
steam gushed up from her deck, with clouds of smoke and 
fire; and as all shooting from her small arms ceased, we 
went out to the gallery, and the boats were cast free. A 
minute after, the ensign of the other was lowered, and 
we had beaten her. 

"You, Tour-Eyes,' take the launch, and get her oil," 
Black sang out at the sight ; "you'll have five hands, that's 
all you want. Go sharp, if you'd save your skins!" . 

I stood on the gallery, and watched the passage of the 
small boat, which was at the side of the maimed cruiser 
almost in a moment. There was no longer any resistance 
to our men, for the hands of the other ship had too much 
work of their own to do. I saw some running quickly to 
the aft boats, while some were bearing wounded from 
below, and others stood beneath the bridge taking orders 
from a very young officer, who had no colleagues in the 
work. Not that there was any confusion, only that awful 
crying of strong men in their agony, of the dying who 
feel death's hand upon them, of the wounded who had 
pain which was hardly to be endured. For a long time 
it seemed as though no one heard the hail of "Four-Eyes" 
to be taken aboard ; and when at last we watched him get 
on deck, he met with no resistance, but did as he would. 
Under the spreading rays of our great arc you could fol- 
low the whole scene as though by day — the hurrying 
crowd of seamen, the work at the boat, the fear and terror 
nf it all. And you could see at the last a sight which to 



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" 'tf^HY DON'T THEY COMEf " 265 

Black had more import than anything else in that picture 
of distress and desolation. 

The great ship began to heel right over. Her stern 
came high out of the water, so that her screws were 
visible. She dipped her foc*s'le clean under the breaking 
sea; and so she rode during some terrible minutes. Her 
own men now cast off their boats anyhow, leaving the 
wounded, who cursed, or implored, or prayed, or shrieked; 
but "Four-Eyes" did not come, and Black raved, looking 
away where the search-lights of the other ships now 
showed their rapid approach. To this extraordinary man 
it was the great cast of life. If the cruiser went down 
and his men got no oil, we should infallibly be taken by 
the war-ships then coming upon us; and I wonder not 
that in that moment he lost something of his old calm, 
pacing the bridge with nervous steps, and alternately 
cursing or imploring the men who could not hear. 

"Why don't they come?" he asked desperately. "The 
lazy, loitering snails! What are they doing there? Do 
you see her heeling? She can't weather that list another 
five minutes. Dick! for God's sake signal to them — the 
creeping vermin! Ahoy, there! Do you hear me? You 
aboard, are you looking to live to-morrow, or will you lay 
a hundred fathoms under — look, boys! do you see them 
lights? They're war-ships — three of *em! We've got to 
show 'em our heels, and we can't — we've no oil, not a 
gallon! And they're taking their ease like fine gentlemen 
aboard there — the guzzling swine — but I'll stir 'em ! You 
Dick, fire a shot at 'em!'^ 

Dick had just answered him, saying, "Ay, captain, I'll 
gie him a wee bit o' iron in his gizzard," when his further 
words were broken on his lips, for our hands appeared at 



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266 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

the ladder of the doomed steamer, and they tumbled into 
the launch anyhow, flying madly from her side as she 
plunged to a huge sea, and with one mighty roll went 
headlong under the surface of the Atlantic. At that mo- 
ment day broke, and, as the silver light of the dawn spread 
over the dark of the sea, we saw three ironclads approach- 
ing us at all their speed, and then not three miles distant 
from us. But the launch was at our side, and as Black 
leant over, and the new light lit up his bloodshot eyes 
and haggard face, he asked, with hoarseness in his voice — 

'*Have ye got the oil?" 

"Not a drop!" replied the cox. 

The strong man reared himself straight up, and he 
turned to Karl, at his side. In that moment he was really 
great, and I shall liever forget the nonchalance with which 
he drew another cigar from his case and lighted it. The 
two men, who had found their calm as the danger thick- 
ened, were in perfect accord; and, as one descended the 
ladder to the engine-room with slow steps, the other went 
again to the tower, where I followed him. 

"Boy," he said, "IVe often wondered how this old ship 
would break up ; now we'll see, but she's going to bite some 
of 'em yet, if she can't last." 

"Are you going to run for it?" I asked. 

"Run for it, with two engines, yes; but it's a poor 
business. And we'll have to fight! Well, who knows? 
There's luck at sea as well as on shore. If I run, they'll 
catch me in ten miles; but we'll all do what we can. 
Now smoke and have a brandy-and-soda. You may not 
get another." 

The drink I took, but his calm I could not share. If 
the nameless ship were trapped at last, I had freedom ; but 



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KARL HAS HIS ORDERS/ 267 

of what sort? The freedom of a bloody fight, the lottery 
of life, the remote possibility that, the ship being taken, I 
should get to the shelter of the war-vessels. The man 
soon undeceived me on both points. 

"If we're out-manoeuvred and crippled in what's com- 
ing," said he, "I have given Karl my orders. This ship 
I've built and loved like a child isn't going to knuckle 
under to any man living. She's going to sink, lad, and 
we're all going to blazes with her ! What's the odds ? A 
man must die! Let him die on his own dunghill, say I, 
and a fig for the reckoning! We shall last out as long 
as we can, and then we'll let the cylinders fill with 
hydrogen, and blow her up. But you're not smoking." 

The threat, so jaunty yet so terrible, was almost like 
a sentence of death to me. I looked from the glass of 
the tower, and saw the foremost ironclad but two miles 
away from us, and the others were sweeping round to 
cut us off if we attempted flight. In the old days, 
with the nameless ship at the zenith of her power, we 
should have laughed at their best efforts — have flown 
from them as a bird from a trap. But we lay with but 
two engines working, and a speed of sixteen knots at the 
best. Nor did we know from minute to minute when 
another engine would break down. 

At the beginning of this flight we almost held our 
own, shaping a curious course, which, if pursued, would 
have brought us ultimately to the Irish coast again. For 
some hours during the morning I thought that we gained 
slightly, and those following evidently felt that it would 
be a waste of shell to fire at us, for they were silent : only 
great volumes of smoke came from the funnels of the 
battle-ships, and we knew that their efforts to get greater 
speed were prodigious. 



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268 THE SHADOJV ON THE SEA. 

Wc ran in this state all the morning, our men silent 
and brooding; Black smoked cigar after cigar with a 
dogged assumption of indifference ; the German came to us 
often with his desperate gestures and his woe-begone face. 
It was well on in the afternoon before the position changed 
in any way, and I had gone down with the Captain to the 
lower saloon to make the pretence of lunching. There we 
sat — "Four-Eyes" with us — a miserable trio, cracking 
jokes, and expressing desperate hopes; sending up the 
negro every other moment to learn how the ironclad lay, 
and much comforted when at the fifth coming he said — 

"You gain, sar, plenty, sar; you run right away, sar." 

"We do?" cried Black, who jumped from his seat ^d 
ran up the companion-way to confirm the tale, and he 
shouted down to us, "Crack another bottle, if it*s the last, 
and give it to the nigger ; we*re leaving them !" 

His elation was contagious. "Four-Eyes" awoke from 
his lethargy, and drank a pint of the wine at a draught. 
The nigger put out a glass with a satisfied leer. The Cap- 
tain took a bottle and laid his hand on the cork. But 
there it stayed, for at that moment there came a horrible 
sound of grating and tearing from the engine-room, and it 
was succeeded by a moment of dead and chilling silence. 

"The second engine's gone!" said the man above, quite 
calmly, and we knew the worst, and went on deck again. 

We found the crew sullen and muttering, but Friedrich, 
the engineer's eldest son, sat at the top of the engine-room 
ladder, and tears rolled down his face. The great ship 
still trembled under the shock of the breakdown and was 
not showing ten knots. The foremost ironclad crept up 
minute by minute; and before we had realised the whole 
extent of the mishap, she was within gunshot of us; but 



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J VOYAGE OF DEATH! 269 

her colleagues were some miles away, she outpacing them 
all through it. 

"Bedad, she signals to us to let her come aboard," said 
"Four-Eyes," who watched her intently. 

"Answer that we'll see her in chips first," said Black, 
and he called for Karl and made signs to him. 

"If so be ye don't come to, he'll be about to fire 
upon ye," cried "Four-Eyes" again, who stood at the flag- 
line, and this time Black thought before he answered — 

"Then parley with 'em; we'll come alongside and hear 
their jaw." 

There was a leer of positive deviltry on his face as he 
said this, and he beckoned me into the conning-towcr, 
when he closed the tower and bade me watch. Those 
on the battle-ship made quite sure of us now, for they 
steamed on and came within three hundred yards of us. 
Black watched them as a beast watches the unsuspecting 
prey. He stood, his face knit in savage lines, his hand 
upon the bell. I looked from the glass, and saw that no 
man was visible upon our decks, that our engines had 
ceased to move. We were motionless. Then in a second 
the bells rang out. There was again that frightful grating 
and tearing in the engine-room. The nameless ship came 
round to her helm with a mighty sweep: she foamed and 
plunged in the seas; she turned her ram straight at the 
other; and, groaning as a great stricken wounded beast, 
she roared onward to the voyage of death. I knew then 
the fearful truth : Black meant to sink the cruiser with his 
ram. I shall never forget that moment of terror, that 
grinding of heated steel, that plunge into the seas. Hold- 
ing with all my strength to the seat of the tower, I waited 
for the crash, and in the suspense hours seemed to pass* 



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270 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

At last, there was under the sea a mighty clap as of sub- 
marine thunder. Dashed headlong from my post, I lay 
bruised and wounded upon the floor of steel. The roof 
above me rocked ; the walls shook and were bent ; my ears 
rang with the deafening roar in them; seas of foam 
mounted before the glass; shrieks and the sound of awful 
rending and tearing drowned other shouts of men going 
to their death. And through all was the hysterical yelling 
of Black, his cursing, his defiance, his elation. 

"Come and see," he roared, dragging me by the collar 
to the gallery; "come and see. They sink, the lubbers! 
They ^o to blazes every one of them. Look at their faces, 
the crawling scum. Ha! ha! Die, you vermin! as you 
meant me to die; fill your skins with water, you sharks! 
I spit on you! Boys, do you hear them crying to 
you? Music, fine music! Who'll dance when the devil 
plays? Dance, you lazy blacklegs; dance on nothing! 
Ha, ha!" 

No man has ever looked on a more awful sight. We 
had struck the battle-ship low amidships — ^we had crashed 
through the thinnest coat of her steel. She had heeled 
right over from the shock, so that the guns had cast free 
from the carriages, and the seas had filled her. Thus for 
one terrible minute she lay, her men crowding upon her 
starboard side, or jumping into the sea, or making desper- 
ate attempts to get her boats free ; and then, with a heavy 
lurch, she rolled beneath the waves; and there was left 
but thirty or forty struggling souls, who battled for their 
lives with the great rollers of the Atlantic. Of these a 
few reached the side of our ship and were shot there as 
they clung to the ladder; a few swam strongly in the des- 
perate hope that the brutes about me would relent, and 
sank at last with piercing and piteous cries upon their 



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MEN DRUNK WITH FEROCITY! 271 

lips; others died quickly, calling upon God as they went 
to their rest. 

For ourselves we lay, our bows split with the shock, our 
engine-room in fearful disorder, our men drunk with 
ferocity and with despair. The other war-ships were yet 
some distance away; but they opened fire upon us at 
hazard, and, of the first three shells which fell, two cut 
our decks; and sent clouds of splinters, of wood, and of 
human flesh flying in the smoke-laden air. At the fifth 
shot, a gigantic crash resounded from below, and the 
stokers rushed above with the news that the fore-stoke- 
hold had three feet of water in it. The hands received 
the news with a deep groan; then with curses, and re- 
criminations. They bellowed like bulls at Black; they 
refused all orders. He shot down man after man, while 
I crouched for safety in the tower; and they became but 
fiercer. Our end was evidently near; and, knowing this, 
they fell upon the liquor, and were worse than fiends. 
Anon they turned upon the Captain and myself, and fired 
volleys upon the conning-tower ; or, in their terrible 
frenzy, they pitched themselves into the sea, or raved with 
drunken songs, and vented their vengeance upon the 
Irishman, "Four-Eyes," chasing him wildly, and stabbing 
him with many cuts, so that he dropped dying at our 
door, with no more reproach than the simple words — 

"God help me! but had I died in me own counthry I 
would have known more pace." 

Through all this our one engine worked ; and so slowly 
did the great ironclad draw upon us that the end of it all 
came before they could reach us. Suddenly the men 
rushed to the boats and cast them loose. Fighting with 
the dash of madmen, they crowded the launch, they 



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272 THE SHADOW ON THE 3EA. 

swarmed the jolly-boat and the lifeboat. Even the en- 
gineer's son felt the touch of contagion, and joined the 
melee. We watched their insane efforts as boat after 
boat put away and was swamped, leaving the devilish men 
to drown as the worthier fellows had drowned- before 
them; and amongst the last to die was "Dick the Ranter," 
who went down with blasphemies gurgling upon his lips. 
When six o'clock came, Black and Karl and myself were 
alone upon the great ship; and in the stillness which fol- 
lowed there came another weird and wild and s6ul- 
stirring shriek — the cry of the dumb engineer, who found 
speech in the great catastrophe. Then Black pulled me 
by the arm and said — 

"Boy, they've left nothing but the dinghy. The old 
ship's done; and it's time you left her." 

"And you?" I asked. 

He looked at me and at Karl. He had meant to die 
with the ship, I knew; but the old magnetism of my 
presence held him again in that hour. He followed me 
slowly, as one in a dream, to the davits aft, and freed the 
last of the boats, overlooked by the hands in their frenzy 
and their panic. Then he went to his cabin, and to the 
rooms below ; and I helped him to put a couple of kegs of 
water in the frail craft, with some biscuit, which we 
lashed, and a case of wine which he insisted on. 

The preparation cost us half-an-hour of time, and when 
all was ready, the captain went to the engine-room and 
brought Karl to the top of the ladder ; but there the Ger- 
man stayed, nor did threats or entreaties move him. 

"He'll die with the ship," said Black, "and I don't 
know that he isn't wise ;" but he held out his hand to the 
genius of his crime, and after a great grip the two men 
parted. 



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IN A CASCADE OF FIRE. 273 

For ourselves, we stepped on the frailest craft with 
which men ever faced the Atlantic, and at that moment 
the first of the ironclads fired another shell at the name- 
less ship. It was a crashing shot, but it had come too 
late to serve justice^, or to wreck the ship of mystery; for 
Karl had let the hydrogen into the cylinders unchecked, 
and with a mighty rush of flame, and a terrific explosion, 
the craft of gold gave her "Vale!" And in a cascade of 
fire, lighting the sea for many miles, and making as day 
the newly-fallen night, the golden citadel hissed over the 
water for one moment, then plunged headlong, and was 
no more. 

A fierce fire it was, lighting sea and sky — a mighty 
holocaust; the roar of a great conflagration; the end of a 
monstrous dream. And I thought of another fire and 
another face — the face of Martin Hall, who had seen the 
finger of Almighty God in his mission ; and I said, " His 
work is done!" 

But Black, clinging to the dinghy, wept as a man 
stricken with a great grief, and he cried so that the 
coldest heart might have been moved — 

"My ship, my ship! Oh God, my shipl'* 



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274 
CHAPTER XXVI. 

A PAGE IN black's LIFE. 

I KNOW not whether It was the amazing spectacle of 
the nameless ship's end, or the sudden coming down of 
night, that kept attention from our boat when the great 
vessel had sunk; but those on the ironclads, which were 
at least two miles from us as we put off, seemed to be 
unaware that any boat from the ship lived ; and, although 
they steamed for some hours in our vicinity, they saw 
nothing of us as we lay in the plunging dinghy. When 
night fell, and with it what breeze that had been blowing, 
we lost sight of them altogether, and knew for the first 
time the whole terror of the situation. Black had indeed 
recovered much of his. old calm, and drank long draughts 
of champagne ; but he sat silent, and uttered no word for 
many hours after the end of that citadel which had given 
him such great power. As for the little boat, it was a 
puny protection against the sweeping rollers of the At- 
lantic, and I doubt not that we had been drowned that 
very night if a storm of any moment had broken upon us. 
About midnight a thunderstorm got up from the south, 
and the sea, rising somewhat with it, wetted us to the 
skin. The lightning, terribly vivid and incessant, lighted 
up the whole sea again and again, showing each the other's 
face, the face of a worn and fatigue-stricken man. And 
the rain and the sea beat on us until we shivered, cower- 
ing, and were numbed ; our hands stiffened with the salt 
upon them, so that we could scarce get the warming 
liquor to our lips. Yet Black held to his silence, moaning 
At rare interval$ a$ h^ had moaned when the great ship 



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WE LOOK FOR SHIPS. 275 

sank. It was not until the sun rose over the long swell 
that we slept for an hour or more; and after sleep we 
were both calmer, looking for ships with much expecta- 
tion, and that longing which the derelict only may know. 
The Captain was then very quiet, and he gazed often at 
me with the expression I had seen on his face when he 
saved me from his men. 

"Boy," he said, "look well at the sun, lest you never 
look at it again." 

"I am looking," I replied; "it is life to me." 

"If," he continued, very thoughtful, "you, who have 
years with you, should live when I go under, you'll take 
this belt Tm wearing off me; it'll help you ashore. If it 
happen that I live with you, it'll help both of us." 

"We're in the track of steamers," said I; "there's no 
reason to look at it that way yet. Please God, we'll be 
seen." 

"That's your way, and the right one," he answered; 
*'but I'm not a man like that, and my heart's gone with 
my ship: we shall never see her like again." 

"You built her?" I said questioningly. 

"Yes," he responded, "I built her when I put my hand 
against the world, and, if it happened to me to go through 
it again, I'd do the same." 

"What did you go through?" I asked, as he passed me 
the biscuits and the cup with liquor in it, and as he sat up 
in the raft I saw that the man had death written on his 
face. 

But at that time he told me nothing in answer to my 
question; and sat for many hours motionless, his glassy 
eyes fixed upon the bottom of the boat. In the afternoon, 
however, he suddenly sat up, and took up his thread as 
a he had broken it but a minute before. 



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276 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"I went through much," said he, gazing over the 
mirror-like surface of the trackless water-desert, "as boy 
and man. I lived a life which was hell; God knows it." 

I did not press him to tell me more, for in truth I 
shivered so, and was so niunbed that even my curiosity to 
know of this life of crime and of mystery was not so 
paramount as to banish that other thought: Shall we live 
when the sun sinks this night? But he found relief in 
his talk, and, as the liquor warmed him, he continued 
faster than before — 

"I was a stepson, boy; bound to a brute with not as 
much conscience as a big dog, and no more human nature 
in him than a wild bull. My mother died three months 
after he took her, and Vm not going to speak about her, 
God help me; but if I had the man under my hands that 
treated her so, Td crush his skull like I crush this biscuit. 
Well, that ain't my tale; you ask me what I went 
through, and Tm trying to tell you. Have you ever 
wanted a meal? No, I reckon not; and you can't get it 
in your mind to know what living on bones and bits for 
more than a couple of years means, can you, as I lived 
down in my home at Glasgow, and often since out West 
and at Colorado? Td come out from Scotland as a bit of 
a lad not turned thirteen, and I sailed aboard the Savan- 
nah City to Montreal, and then to Rio, and in Japan 
waters ; and for three years, until I deserted at Trisco, no 
deviltry that human fiends could think of was unknown 
to me. But they made a sailor of me ; and full-rigged ship 
or steamer Fd navigate with the best of 'em. After that, 
I went aboard a brig plying between 'Frisco and Yoko- 
hama, and there I picked up much, leaving her after two 
years to get across to Europe, and do the ocean trade with 



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/ FATHOM A MYSTERY. 277 

the Jackson line between Southampton and Buenos Ayrcs. 
It was in that city I met my wife. I married her in Men- 
doza; for she came of rich folk, who spat on me, and was 
only a bit of a girl who*d never wanted a comfort on this 
earth until that time, and who starved with me then and 
for years. My God ! my whole body burns when I think 
of it — that bit of a creature, who'd never known the lack 
of a gratification, and who was dragged down to every 
degradation by my curse." 

I looked at him in surprise, and he answered me in- 
stinctively. 

"Yes, by my curse. Maybe you don't know what it 
was, for I've held it under a bit since she died, but I was 
a drunkard then — a maniac when I had the liquor on me, 
a devil from whom all men fled. Not that there isn't 
work for any man in that country — work, and well paid 
— but I had the fever on me, and — well, we sank, very 
low. How I lived I can't tell you ; but after a couple ot 
years of it I worked a passage to New York, and there my 
son was born. When he grew up he was the very image 
of you. That's why I gave you your life when you came 
on my ship." 

The words were spoken in that gentle voice he could 
command sometimes, and, as he uttered them, he took my 
hand and gave it a great grip. I understood then that 
curious look he had given me at our first meeting; his 
partisanship for me against the men; and that last great 
risk which had brought the end of it all, if it had not 
brought death to both of us. Somewhere down in that 
human well of crime and ferocity there was a spring of 
purer water. I had set it free when I brought old mem- 
ories to him, and I owed it to him that amazing chance 
that I lived through the frenzies of Ice-haven. 



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278 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

"Yes," said Black, observing my surprise, and passing 
mc the liquor which he compelled me to drink; "my boy 
was your height, and your build, and he had your eyes. 
What's more, he had your grit, and there was no cooler 
hand living. Not that he owed much to me, for I was 
mad drunk half his life ; and, when sober, I lived as often 
as not in prison for what I had done in liquor. It was 
when he was nearly twenty that the change came ; for he 
began to bring home money, do you see? and, what with 
his work and the way he talked to me, I set myself to get 
the craving under; and I was a new man in one year, 
and in two my brain came back to me, and I made the 
discovery that I was not born a fool. You may reckon I 
worshiped the lad! God knows, he and his mother did 
for me more than man or woman ever did for a breathing 
body. And when my wits came back to me, and I thought 
what I might have done, and what I had done, and that 
my boy had borne it all only to drag me to my reason at 
last, I could have ended it there and then. Maybe I 
should have done it if a new turn hadn't come in my life's 
road. It was when I was at my lowest, and we were sore 
put to it to get food in New York that I was taken up by 
a man who was going to Michigan seeking copper. My 
lad was then working with a Mike Leveston in the city — 
a land-agent for the up-country work, and the owner of 
a line of small brigs running between Boston and the Ba- 
hamas; but times had gone bad with him, and the boy, 
who had been getting good money, found himself with no 
more than enough to keep him, let alone his mother. Well, 
I thought the thing out, and, as my partner had some 
capital and agreed to let me have ten dollars a week any 
way, I made an agreement with Leveston that he should 



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ORE AS THICK AS CLAY. 279 

allow the wife and the boy enough to live on for six 
months, and I set out for the State where the copper find 
was beginning to attract notice, and in a year I was a 
made man. We found the ore as thick as clay, and, 
under the excitement of it, I kept my head, and the drink 
craze never touched me. When the money came in, I 
made Leveston my New York agent, and sent him enough 
to set up the woman who'd stood by me all through in 
more luxury than she'd known since she married me. For 
a while her letters told me of her new life, and I kept 
them under my shirt as I would have kept leaves of gold. 
In the spring, I sent the agent twenty thousand dollars 
for her ; and I got his acknowledgment, saying she'd gone 
down to Charleston to see about the boy's work there, 
and I should hear from her on her return. 

"I think this was about eighteen months after I left 
New York, and from that time my wife ceased to write to 
me, and I heard nothing more from the lad. We'd been 
doing such work in the mine that we had enough money 
to pay our way for life, and we hoped to make an al- 
mighty pile before many years had gone; but I couldn't 
bear not hearing from them ^s I worked for, and in the 
fall of the year I went back to New York — under pro- 
test from my partner, who could do nothing without me 
— and I never rested until I reached my house in Fifty- 
Fourth Street. I found it shut up, the furniture gone, 
not a sign of living being in it ; and when I went to make 
inquiries amongst my neighbours, they told me what came 
to this. My wife had died of starvation — nothing less, 
boy, for the devil I'd sent the money to had doled out to 
her and the lad a few dollars for the first year, but had 
cut and run when the big sums reached him ; and he took 



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28o THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

the boy with him on the pretence of a job in the Southern 
city. My son, you see, had turned naturally to archi- 
tect's work, and was induced by this long-toothed vulture 
to quit New York, because they heard from the mine 
that I was dead — that I died, as Leveston had told them, 
of small-pox — and left not a shilling for them. God ! if I 
could bring him to life to clutch his cursed throat again !" 

"But what became of your son?" I asked, as he ceased 
speaking, and we lay riding gently over the long rollers, 
with a great flood of sunlight making the sea as a sheen of 
beaten gold, touched with diamond points where the spray 
broke. Then he went on with it ; but you could see some 
awful emotion moving him, and he kept plying himself 
with drink, which made his words the fiercer. 

"What became of the boy?" he repeated after me. 
"Why, he went south in the hope of sending money to 
his mother; and directly he reached Charleston, Leveston 
shipped him on a brig, knowing that I must hear of his 
doings in a month or more. He sent the lad to Panama, 
and there he died, one of the first to be stricken in the 
fever land. They buried him in the country, as the Lord 
is my witness. Then I came home — rich, my trunks 
stuffed with notes, able, if I cared, to buy up half the 
land-agents in New York City; and the money Fd got 
seemed to turn black in my hands when I found that those 
it was made for needed it no more. Not as I knew then 
of the lad's death — that I was to hear of later; but, free 
from the drink, I had loved the woman who was gone; 
and I was a madman for days and weeks. When I got 
my head again I changed as I don't believe any man ever 
changed before ; there was something in my mind which I 
could not cope with. I can't lay it down any clearer than 



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THE STORY OF THE CREfV. 281 

this: it was a hatred of all men that took possession of 
me — a fierce desire to make mankind pay for the wrongs 
I had suffered. I gave myself up to the drink again, but 
not as I did when they named me a drunkard. This 
time I was the master of it; I used it for my purpose; I 
fed my thoughts of vengeance on it; and, while my part- 
ner was sending me more than a thousand pounds a week 
from Michigan, I remained in New York with the double 
purpose in my head — to get my boy, back to me, and to 
crush the life out of the man \^ho had left my wife to die. 
"All the news I could get at that time was this: the 
boy had left Charleston, ostensibly for the Bahamas, three 
months before I reached New York City; but nothing 
more had been heard of him or the ship. I put the best 
detectives in the city on Leveston*s trail, raining the 
money into their pockets to keep them to the work; and 
they got it out of some of Leveston's seamen in Savannah 
that he had gone a long cruise in one of his barques to 
Rio, and even farther south. This news was like red-hot 
iron to my head. I knew that I couldn't touch the man 
by law, except for the robbery of the bit of money, and 
that I didn't care a brass button about. What I meant 
to have was his life, and I swore that no man should take 
it but me. Then I went into every low haunt in New 
York. I searched the drinking dens of the Bowery; I 
made friends with all the thieves, picked up the loafers, 
and the starving. The parson who's gone I found run- 
ning a gambling hell in New Jersey; the man Tour- 
Eyes' I took from a crimp at Boston ; John we got later 
on at Rio, where we bought him from the police. I had 
as fine a crew of scoundrels in a month as ever cursed in a 
fo'castle; and I shipped them all on the screw-steamer, 



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282 THE SHADOfT ON THE SEA. 

Rossa, which I bought for six thousand pounds from the 
Rossa Company. She was just on six hundre4 tons, an 
iron boat built for the meat trade; but we knocked her 
about quick enough, setting three machine-guns forward, 
and fifty Winchester rifles among her stores. We put 
out from Sandy Hook, it must be nearly six years ago; 
and we steamed straight ahead for Rio, where we got 
tidings of Leveston*s barque. She had sailed for Buenos 
Ayres, but they looked for her return within the month, 
and we left again next day, cruising near shore as far as 
Desterro, where luck was with us. 

"I remember that morning as if it was yesterday. We 
had struck eight-bells, and the men were going down to 
dinner, when the mate sighted a ship on the port-bow. 
We put straight out to sea at the hail, and within half- 
an-hour we stood alongside her; and the man who an- 
swered my call was Mike Leveston. When he saw mc 
hailing him from the poop of a steamer, he turned green 
as the sea about him; and he yelled to me to stand off if 
I didn't want a bullet in me. The sight of him maddened 
me; I turned the machine-gun on his decks, and swept 
them clear as a grass field, but he lay flat on his face by 
the taffrail, and he bellowed for mercy like a woman. 
And he got it. I ran the steamer alongside him, smashing 
in his quarter, and when we had gripped, I got aboard. 
Then he grovelled at my feet, and, as I held my pistol at 
his head, he gabbled out the news that my son was dead — 
told me that he died at Panama, and he screamed for 
mercy like a hog at the block. But I cut his throat from 
car to ear with my own knife, and I threw his body to the 
sharks limb by limb as you would throw a dead sheep to 
the dogs. God knows I was mad then, as I have been 
often since, and am now. My. poor sonP^ 



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THE BIRTH OF THE PIRACY. 283 

"The man told you the truth, then?" 

"Yes. When I had made chips of his ship I went back 
to Panama, and there got news of the boy. They had 
buried him at Porto Bello, and I stopped there long enough 
to make his grave decent, and then returned up the coast 
to New York. Coming back, the vermin with. me took a 
fancy on the third day out, when three parts of them were 
drunk to do with a strange brig as they had done with Lev- 
eston's. They stopped her with the guns, and cleared her 
of every dollar aboard, sending her to the bottom out of 
pure deviltry. I didn't stop 'em; for I had the madness 
of the drink on me again, and I led 'em at the work then, 
and when they sent a dozen more coasters after the two 
that had gone on the voyage to Sandy Hook. By the time 
we were in New York again, I had got a taste for the new 
work which nothing could cure. It seemed as if I was to 
revenge on mankind the wrong I had suffered from one 
man ; and, more than that, I saw there was money in heaps 
in it. They said at home that piracy was played out, but 
I asked myself, *How's that? Give me a ship big enough,' 
said I, *and under certain conditions I'll sweep the Atlan- 
tic' There was danger enough in the job, and it was big 
enough to tempt that curious brain of mine, which had al- 
ways dreamed of big jobs since I'd been a bit of a boy; 
and I was fascinated with this big idea until I couldn't 
hold myself. That's what led me to keep the crew to- 
gether at New York, and to return to Michigan, where 
I found that the mine was making money faster almost 
than they could bank it, and if I was worth a penny, I 
was worth a million sterling at that very time; for my 
partner behaved square all through, and paid my share to 
the last penny. I stayed with him about a couple of 



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284 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

months then, giving my wits to the job, and it was there 
I met Karl, the German engineer, who had got it into his 
head that gas was the motor of the near future. He talked 
of using it for the copper work, and then of building gas 
launches for transport; but he didn*t know that he*d set 
me all aglow with another thought, which was nothing less 
than this — that T should build a steamer driven by gas, 
and run a game of piracy on the Atlantic -with her. Do 
you call it lunacy? Well, other men have made good 
company for such lunatics, the Corsican murderer at 
Moscow among 'em. And what was it to be but a fight 
of one man against the world — a fight to set your best 
blood hmhing fast in your veins, to brace every nerve in 
your body. Boy, I lived for a year on that excitement, 
which was more even than the drink to me. I left the mine 
to cruise again in the Rossa with the old hands; but we 
had added a long *chaser' to our list of guns and in the 
three months out we took twenty ships and over two Hun- 
dred thousand in specie. I saw from the beginning of it 
that the one thing we couldn't stand against with a coal 
steamer was the constant putting into port to fill her 
bunkers ; and I knew that if we didn't find some haven of 
refuge out of the common run, the day would come when 
we should swing like common cut-throats. I had taken 
Karl on board with me for the trip, and he was the man to 
set both things square. He ran me north of Godthaab, 
in Greenland, and put me into the fjord you have known ; 
and he drew the plans of my ship, which I made the Ital- 
ians at ^pezia build for me — for I had the money, and, as 
for the metal, the phosphor bronze of which I built her — 
well, thaf was Karl's idea, too. You may know that 
phosphor bronze is the finest material for ship-building m 



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WHY HALL DIED. 285 

the world, but the majority of 'em can't use it on account 
of the cost of the copper. Well, the copper I had, any 
amount of it; and I shipped it to Italy, and the great ves- 
sel which your friend Hall thought was all of gold had 
the look of it, and was the finest sight man ever saw when 
under her own colours. 

"Once the ship was built, our game was easy. She was 
armoured heavily amidships; she had two ten-inch 
guns in her turrets, and machine-guns thick all over 
her; and she was the best-fitted ship in her quarters swim- 
ming. It's a rum thing, but I always had a bit of a taste 
for nice things — fine painting, gold work, and stones — 
and my only hobby to speak of has been the buying of *em. 
This led me to meet your friend Hall. Not that I didn't 
know him from the first, for my men saw him in the yards 
at Spezia, and from that day I never left him unwatched. 
I followed him to Paris, to Liverpool, to London, when 
I was ashore ; but I never brought my ship within a hun- 
dred miles of any port; and I used to hire yachts and sink 
'em in mid-ocean when I wanted to reach her. Your 
friend would be alive now if he hadn't sought to find out 
where I got to when I left port in the La France. But 
I took him aboard to end him, and they shot him off the 
Needles and lashed him to the shrouds of the yacht when 
we fired her. He was a brave man, and indirectly he 
brought me to this — him and you " 

"And the justice of God," I said, thinking hatred 
towards him again as I remembered Hall's death. 

"Perhaps," he answered, "but you know my history; 
and what's done can't be undone. Yet I say again that, 
if my son was alive and was taken from me as he was 
taken seven years ago in Panama, I'd do what I did, 



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286 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

though they burnt me alive for it. IVc been agen Europe, 
and IVe licked 'em, by Heaven; for what they've took is 
only my ship, and agen that Fve a million of their money 
to put One man with his hand agen the world's a fine 
sight, and what I've claimed I've done. Is piracy not 
worth a cent? Is it played out, do you tell me? I reckon 
them as says it lies. Give me a ship like mine that can 
show 'em twenty-nine knots; give me the harbour to coal 
once in six months; and I'll live against the lot of 'em, 
fight 'em one by one, rule this ocean more sure than any 
man ever ruled a people. I say I'd do it; I should have 
said, I could have done it, for it's over now, and the day's 
gone. Before another twenty-four hours you'll be alone 
in this dinghy, boy. I've death on me, and I wouldn't live 
without the ship; no, I'll go under as she went under — 
the Lord have mercy on me !" 

The firnmess of the Captain was near to leaving him in 
that moment, but he pulled himself together with a great 
effort, and sat aft, sculling with the short oar in a me- 
chanical and altogether absent way. The long talk with 
me about his past had exhausted him, I thought; and he 
did not seem disposed to speak again. It was then near 
mid-day, and the sun, being right above us, poured down 
an intolerable heat, so that the paint of the dinghy was 
hot to the hand, and we ourselves were consumed with an 
unquenchable thirst. Nor could I restrain myself, but 
drank long draughts from the water-kegs, while Black 
kept to the liquor; and was, I saw with fear, rapidly 
working himself up to a state of intoxication. You may 
ask if the terrors of the position came home to us thor- 
oughly in that long day when we rode in the bit of a 
cockle-shell on the sweeping rollers of the Atlantic, but I 
answer you^ I do not think that they did. The fear of 



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OVERWHELMING THIRST. 287 

such a position is the after-recollection of it. We were 
in a sense numbed to mental apprehension by the vigour 
of the physical suffering we endured by that overwhelming 
thirst, by the devouring heat, by the cutting spray which 
drove upon our faces, by the stiffening of our clothes when 
the sun scorched them. Seethed in the brine one hour, we 
were nigh burnt up the next ; and yet wc knew that water 
would soon fail us — that wc could not hope for life for 
many days unless we should sight some ship, and she in 
turn should sight us. 

It is, perhaps, only in a small boat that one appreciates 
the magnitude of an Atlantic wave, even when the ocean 
seems comparatively still. Sometimes on a steamer's deck, 
when there is heavy wind and the sea is driven before it, 
you may watch a huge roller sweeping the great vessel as 
a pond wave will sweep a match ; but at any time from a 
boat, which is, as it were, right down upon the water, you 
cannot fail to be impressed by the onward flow of those 
mighty translucent billows, which rush forward in their 
course and thunder at last upon the granite rocks of the 
western face of Europe. High above you in one moment 
as hills of emerald and of silver, you wait with nerves all 
braced as they come upon you, giving promise that you 
will be engulfed in the liquid bosom of the towering moun- 
tain ; and you breathe again as your boat is taken in their 
swift embrace, and you arc borne far above the darker 
ravine of the sea to a pinnacle of spreading foam, whence 
you may look to the distant horizon in that search for 
other ships; which may be pastime, or may be, as in our 
case, a search on which your very life depends. 

How often during that long afternoon, when my hair 
was matted with the salt of the spray, and my hands were 



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288 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

burnt with a consuming fire, and my body was chiU or hot 
with the fever of the long exposure, did I, from such a pin- 
nacle, cast my eyes around the foam-decked waste, and, 
finding it all barren, feel my heart sink as the dinghy 
swept again into the dark-green abyss, and all around me 
were the walls of water! How many prayers did not I 
send up in the silence of my heart ; how many thoughts of 
Roderick and of Mary, how many farewells to them ! And 
when I prayed for life, and no answer seemed to come, 
and I remembered the years that might have been before 
me — ^years now to be unknown in the silence of the grave 
— I had a great bitterness against all fate and all men, and 
I crouched in the boat with my suffering heavy upon me. 
But Black continued to drink, and when the sun fell low 
in the west, and the whole heavens were as mountains and 
peaks of the crimson fire, I knew by his mutterings that 
the frenzy of the old madness was upon him. 

At one time he called upon his wife, I doubt not, and 
gave mad words of self-reproach and of regret. And then 
he would mutter of his son, as though the lad could help 
him; and many times he cried out: "My God! the ship's 
going — ^hands lower boats!" Or he raved with fierce 
threats and awful cries at the American he had buried, or 
made desperate appeals to some apparition that came to 
him in his dreadful dream. But at the last he grew almost 
incoherent, thinking that I was the dead lad; and he set 
himself wildly to chafe my hands, and put spirit at my 
lips. I was then nigh dead with want of sleep and fatigue, 
for I had not rested during the fight with the ironclads; 
and when he covered me with the small tarpaulin, and 
made a rough pillow in the bow, I went to sleep almost at 
once; and was as one drunk with the torpor of the rest. 



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THE ECHO OF A VOICE. 289 

Twice during that long night I must have roused my- 
self. I recall well a Heaven of stars, and a moonlit sea 
glowing with the pale light; while looking down upon 
me were the eyes of a madman, who clutched the sides of 
the dinghy with trembling and claw-like hand, and had a 
scream upon his lips. And again at the second time I 
looked upward to behold a faint break of grey in the 
leaden sky, and to feel warm raindrops beating upon me. 
But I heard no sound, and scarce turning in my heaviness, 
I slept again ; and all through my sleep I dreamed that 
there was the echo of a voice, as of the voice of the 
damned, calling to me from the sea, and that, though I 
would have helped the man whose hand was above the 
waters, I could not move, for an iron grip, as the grip of 
Fate, held me to my place. 

When I awoke for the third time, the dinghy was held 
firmly by a boat-hook, and was being drawn towards a 
jolly-boat full of seamen. I rose up, rubbing my eyes as 
a man seeing a vision; but, when the men shouted some- 
thing to me in German, I had another exclamation on my 
lips; for I was alone in the boat, and Black had left me. 

Then I looked across the sea, and I saw a long black 
steamer lying-to a mile away, and the men dragged me 
into their craft, and shouted hearty words of encourage- 
ment, and they put liquor to my lips, and fell to rowing 
with great joy. Yet I remembered my dream, and it 
seemed to me that the voice I had heard in my sleep was 
the voice of Black, who cried to me as he had cast him- 
self to his death in the Atlantic 

««««««« 

Was the man dead? Had he really ended that most 
remarkable life of evil enterprise and of crime; or had 



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290 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

he by some miracle found safety while I slept? As the 
Germans rowed me quickly towards their steamer, and 
comforted me as one would comfort a child that is found 
destitute by the wayside, I turned this thought over again 
and again in my mind. Had the man gone out of my 
life wrapped in the mystery which had surrounded hini 
from the first ? Did he still live to dream dreams of ven- 
geance, and of robbery? Or had he simply cast himself 
from the dinghy in a fit of insanity, and died the terrible 
death of the suicide? I could not answer the tremendous 
question; had no clue to it; but I had not reached the 
shelter of the ^steamer which had saved me before I made 
the discovery that the belt of linen which had been about 
Black's waist was now about mine, tied firmly with a 
sailor's knot, and when I put my hand upon the linen I 
found that it was filled with some hard and sharp stones, 
which had all the feel of pebbles. Instinctively I knew 
the truth ; that in his last hour the master of the nameless 
ship had retained his curious affection for me; had made 
over to me some of that huge hoard of wealth he must 
have accumulated by his years of pillage ; and I restrained 
myself with difficulty from casting the whole there and 
then into the waters which had witnessed his battles for 
it. But the belt was firmly lashed about me, and we were 
on the deck of the steamer before my benumbed hands 
could set the lashing free. 

It would be idle for me to attempt to describe to you all 
I felt as the captain of the steamship Hoffnung greeted 
me upon his quarterdeck, and his men sent up rounds of 
cheers which echoed over the waters. I stood for some 
minutes forgetful of everything save that I had been 
snatched from that prison of steel ; brought from the 



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A GREAT REACTION. agi 

shadow of the living death to the hope of seeing friends, 
and country, and home again. Now one man wrung my 
hand, now another brought clothes, now another hot 
food ; but I stood as one stricken dumb, holding nervously 
to the taffrail as though none should drag me down again 
to the horrors of the dinghy, or to that terrible loneliness 
which had hung over my life for so many weeks. And 
then there came a great reaction, an overpowering weak- 
ness, a great sense of thankfulness, and tears gushed up in 
my eyes, and fell upon my numbed hands. The good fel- 
lows about me, whose German was for the most part unin- 
telligible to me, appreciated well the condition in which 
I was ; and, with many encouraging pats on the back, they 
forced me down their companion-way to the skipper's 
cabin, and so to a bunk, where I lay inanimate, and deep 
in sleep for many hours. But I awoke as another man, 
and when I had taken a great bowl of soup and some 
wine, my strength seemed to return to me with bounds, 
and I sat up to find they had taken away my clothes, but 
that the belt which Black had bound about me lay at the 
foot of the bunk, and was unopened. 

For some minutes I held this belt in my hand with a 
curious and inexplicable hesitation. It was not heavy, 
being all of linen finely sewed ; but when at last I made up 
my mind to open it, I did so with my teeth, tearing the 
threads at the top of it, and so ripping it down. The ac- 
tion was followed by a curious result, for as I opened the 
seams there fell upon my bed some twenty or thirty dia- 
monds of such size and such lustre that they lay sparkling 
with a thousand lights which daz:ded the eyes, and made 
me utter a cry at once of surprise and of admiration. 
White stones they were, Brazilian diamonds of the first 



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292 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

water ; and when I undid the rest of the seam, and opened 
the belt fully, I found at least fifty more, with some 
superb black pearls, a fine emerald, and a little parcel of 
exquisite rubies. To the latter there was attached a 
paper with the words, "My son, for as such I regard you, 
take these; they are honestly come by. And let me write 
while I can that I have loved you before God. Remember 
this when you forget Captain Black." 

That was all; and I judged that the stones were worth 
five thousand pounds if they were worth a penny. I could 
scarce realise it all as I read the note again and again, and 
handled the sparkling, glittering baubles, which made my 
bunk a cave of dazzling light ; or wrapped them once more 
in the linen, using it as a bag, and tying it round my neck 
for safety. It seemed indeed that I had come to riches as 
I had come again to freedom; and in the strange be- 
wilderment of it all, I dressed myself in the rough clothes 
which the skipper had sent to me, and bounded on deck 
to greet a glorious day and the fresh awakening breezes 
of the sunlit Atlantic. It was difficult to believe that there 
was not a reckoning yet to come; that the nameless ship 
had gone to her doom. Had I in reality escaped the ter- 
rors of the dinghy? This question I asked myself again 
and again as the soft wind fanned my face ; and I went to 
the bulwarks, looking away where soon we should sight the 
Scillies, while the honest fellows crowded round me, and 
showered every kindness upon me. Yet for days and 
weeks after that, even now sometimes when I am amongst 
my own again, I awake in my sleep with troubled cries, 
and the dark gives me back the life which was my long 
night of suffering. 

The Hoffnung was bound to Konigsberg, but when the 
skipper and I had come to understand each other by signs 



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''AtiOY, DJNIELr 293 

and writing, he, with great consideration, ofiEered to put in- 
to Southampton, and leave me there. This took a great 
weight from my mind, for I was burning with anxiety to 
hear of my friends again ; and when we entered the Chan- 
nel on the third night, I found sleep far from my eyes, 
and paced the deck until dawn broke. We dropped anchor 
off Southampton at three in the afternoon, and when I had 
insisted on Captain Wolfram taking one of my diamonds 
as a souvenir for himself, and one to sell for the crew, I 
put off in his long-boat with a deep sense of his humanity 
and kindness, and with hearty cheers from his crew. 

I should have gone to the quay at once then, but cross- 
ing the roads I saw a yacht at anchor, and I recognised 
her as my own yacht Celsis, with Dan pacing her poop. 
To put to her side was the work of a moment, and I do 
not think that I ever gave a heartier hail than that 
"Ahoy, Daniel !^^ which then fell from my lips. 

"Ahoy!'^ cried Dan in reply, "not as it oughtn't to be 
Daniel, but with no disrespect to the other gent — why, 
blister my foretop, if it ain*t the guv'nor!'' 

And the old fellow began to shout and to wave his arms 
and to throw ropes about a? though he were smitten vv'itb 
lunacy. 



i . •■ 



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294 
CHAPTER XXVII. 

I FALL TO WONDERING. 

I HAD sprung up the ladder, which was always at the side 
of the Celsis, before Dan had gathered his scattered wits 
to remember that it was there. It was worth much to 
watch that honest follow as he gripped my hand in his two 
great paws; and then let it go to walk away, and survey 
me at a distance; or drew nearer again, and seemed to 
wish to give me a great hug as a bear hugs its cub. But I 
cut him short with a gesture, and asked him if Roderick 
and Mary were aboard. 

"They're down below, as I'm alive, and the hands is 
ashore, but they'll come aboard for this, drunk or sober. 
Thunder! if I was ten years younger — but there, I ain't, 
and you'll be wakin' 'em ; do you see, they're restin' after 
victuals down in the saloon. Shall I tell 'em as you've 
called in passing like? Lord, I can hardly see out of my 
eyes for looking at you, sir." 

Poor old Dan did not quite know what he was doing. 
I left him in the midst of his strange talk, and walked 
softly down the companion-way to the door of the saloon, 
and I opened it and stood, I doubt not, before them as 
one come from the dead. Mary, whose childish face 
looked very drawn, was sitting before a book, open upon 
the table, her head resting upon her hands, and a strange 
expression of melancholy in her great dark eyes. But 
Roderick lay upon a sofa-bunk, and was fast asleep, with 
the novel which he had been reading lying crumpled upon 
the floor. 



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THE BEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE. 295 

I had opened the door so gently that neither of them 
moved as I entered the room. It was to me the best 
moment of my life to be looking again upon them, and 
I waited for one minute until Mary raised her head and 
our eyes met Then I bent over the cabin table and kissed 
her, and I felt her clinging to me, and though she never 
spoke, her eyes were wet with hot tears ; and when she 
smiled through them, it was as a glimpse of bright sun- 
light shining through a rain-shower. In another moment 
there was nothing but the expression of a great childish 
joy on her face, and the old Mary spoke. 

"Mark, I can't believe it," she said, holding me close 
lest I might go away again, "and I always guessed you*d 
come." 

But Roderick awoke with a yawn, and when he saw me 
he rubbed his eyes, and said as one in a dream — 

"Oh, is that you?" 

m m m m m * m 

The tea which Mary made was very fragrant, and 
Roderick's cigars had a fine rich flavour of their own, to 
which we did justice, as we sat long that afternoon, and 
I told of the days in Ice-haven. It was a long story, as 
you know, and I could give them but the outline of it, or, 
in turn, hear but a tenth part of their own anxieties and 
ceaseless efforts in my behalf. It appeared that when I had 
failed to return to the hotel on that night when I followed 
Paolo to the den in the Bowery, Roderick had gone at once 
to the yacht, and there had learnt from Dan of my inten- 
tion. He did not lose an instant in seeking the aid of 
the police, but I was even then astern of the Labrador, 
and the keen search which the New York detectives had 
made was fruitless even in gleaning any tidings of me. 



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296 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

Paolo was followed night and day for twenty-four hours; 
but he was shot in a drinking den before the detectives 
laid hands on him, and lived long enough only to send 
Mary a message, telling her that her pretty eyes had 
saved the Celsis from disaster in the Atlantic. On the 
next day, both the skipper and Roderick made public all 
they knew of Black and his crew, and a greater sensation 
was never made in any city. The news was cabled to 
Europe over half-a-dozen wires, was hurried to the Pacific, 
to Japanese seas — it shook the navies of the world with 
an excitement rarely known, and for some weeks it para- 
lysed all traffic on the Atlantic. Cruisers of many nations 
were sent in the course of the great ocean-going steamers ; 
arms were carried by some of the largest of the passenger 
ships, and the question was asked daily before all other 
questions, "Is the nameless ship taken?" Yet, it was no 
more than a few weeks* wonder; for we had fled to Ice- 
haven, and people who heard no more of the new piracy 
asked themselves, "Are not these the dreams of 
dreamers?" 

Meanwhile Roderick and Mary, who suffered all the 
anguish of suspense, returned to Europe, and to London, 
there to interview the First Lord of the Admiralty, and 
to hear the whole matter discussed in Parliament. Several 
war-ships and cruisers were despatched to the Atlantic, 
but returned to report the ill result of their mission, which 
could have had but this end, since Black was then in the 
shelter of the fjord at Greenland; and none thought of 
seeking him there. Nor was my oldest friend content with 
this national action and the subsequent offer of a reward 
of £50,000 for the capture of the nameless ship or of her 
crew, for he put the best private detectives in the city at 



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fFE DISCUSS MANY THINGS. 297 

the work, sending two to New York, and others to Paris 
and to Spezia. These fathomed something of the earlier 
mystery of Captain Black's life, but the man's after-deeds 
were hidden from them; and when the weeks passed and 
I did not come, all thought that I had died in my self- 
appointed mission — another of his many victims. 

It was but a few days after this sorrowful conviction 
that Black and I went to London, and were seen by In- 
spector King, who had watched night and day for the 
man's coming. The detective had immediately telegraphed 
to the Admiralty, and to Roderick, who had reached my 
hotel to find that I had already left. Then he had hur- 
ried back to Southampton, there to hear of the going of 
the war-ships, and to wait with Mary tidings of the last 
great battle, which meftnt life or death to me. 

Long we sat discussing these things, and very bright 
were a pair of dark eyes that listened again to Roderick's 
story, and then to more of mine. But Roderick himself 
had awoke from his lethargy, and his enthusiasm broke 
through all his old restraint. 

"To-morrow, why, to-morrow, by George, you'll 
astound London. My dear fellow, we'll go to town to- 
gether to claim the £50,000 which the Admiralty offered, 
and the £20,000 from the Black Anchor Line, to say 
nothing of American money galore. You're made for life, 
old man ; and we'll take the old yacht north to Greenland, 
and hunt up the place and Black's tender, which seems to 
have escaped the ironclads, and it'll be the finest trip we 
ever knew." 

"What does Mary say?" I asked, as she still held my 
hand. 

"I don't mean to leave you again," she answered, and 



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298 THE SHADOW ON THE SEA. 

as she spoke there was a great sound of cheering above, 
and a great tramp of feet upon the deck; and as we hur- 
ried up, the hands I loved to see crowded about me, and 
their shouting was carried far over the water, and was 
taken up on other ships, which threw their search-lights 
upon us, so that the night was as a new day to me, and 
the awakening from the weeks of dreaming as the coming 
of spring after winter's dark. Yet, as the child-face was 
all lighted with radiant smiles, and honest hands clasped 
mine, and the waters echoed the triumphant greeting, I 
could not but think again of Captain Black, or ask my- 
self — Is the man really dead, or shall we yet hear of him, 
bringing terror upon the sea, and death and suffering; 
the master of the nations, and the child of a wanton am- 
bition? Or is his grave in the great Atlantic that he 
ruled in the mighty moments of his power? 
Ah, I wonder, 

THE END. 



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