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THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
T: E NEW
__. _- - -*
\ValtiT and 15111 tramping across the Isthmus. - -Page 132,
THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
A STORY OF CALIFORNIA
LIFE IN THE FIFTIES
SAMUEL ADAMS J3KAKE
Author of "Watch Fires of '76," "On Plymouth Rock," "Decisive
Events in American History Series," etc.
ILLUSTRATED LY L. J. BRIDGMAN
LEE AND SHEPAKD
. . -
, ' - . I
. : .
Published August, 1904
ASTOR. LENOX AND
R I9IG L
COPYRIGHT, 1904, BY LEE AND SHEPARD
All rights reserved
THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
BERWICK & SMITH Co.
U. S. A.
* *. * **
1 I . ,
I. A NARROW ESCAPE 9
II. WALTER TELLS His STORY 18
III. AND CHARLEY TELLS His ... 30
IV. WHAT HAPPENED ON BOARD THE "ARGO-
V. ONE WAY OF GOING TO CALIFORNIA . 45
VI. A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD ... 66
VII. THE FLIGHT 82
VIII. OUTWARD BOUND 100
IX. ACROSS NICARAGUA 117
X. THE LUCK OF YANKEE JIM . . .141
XI. SEEING THE SIGHTS IN 'FRISCO . . 154
XII. AN UNEXPECTED MEETING . . .165
XIII. IN WHICH A MAN BREAK INTO His OWN
STORE, AND STEALS His OWN SAFE . 182
XIV. CHARLEY AND WALTER GO A-GUNNING . 203
XV. THE YOUNG VIGILANTES . . . .215
XVI. RAMON FINDS His MATCH . . .231
XVII. A SHARP RISE IN LUMBER . . . 241
XVIII. A CORNER IN LUMBER .... 250
XIX. HEARTS OF GOLD 262
XX. BRIGHT, SEABURY & COMPANY . . . 274
Walter and Bill tramping across the Isthmus
Walter rescuing Dora Bright 42
Waiting for the opening of the mail . . . . 160
The hunters hunted by a grizzly bear . . . 208
Ramon made to give up his stealings ... 236
Arrival of the Southern Cross at Sacra-
THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
A NARROW ESCAPE
FROM the Morning Post-Horn :
1 As passenger train Number Four was
rounding a curve at full speed, ten miles out
of this city, on the morning of October 4,
and at a point where a deep cut shut out the
view ahead, the engineer saw some one, man
or boy, he could not well make out which,
running down the track toward the train,
frantically swinging both arms and waving
his cap in the air as if to attract attention. The
engine-man instantly shut off steam, whistled
for brakes, and quickly brought the train to
" The engine-man put his head out of the
io THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
cab window. The conductor jumped off, fol-
lowed by fifty frightened passengers, all talk-
ing and gesticulating at once; while the per-
son who had just given the warning signal
slackened his breakneck pace, somewhat, upon
seeing that he had succeeded in stopping the
"'What's the matter?' shouted the im-
patient engine-man when this person had
come within hearing.
What do you stop us for?' called out
the little conductor sharply, in his turn, at
the same time anxiously consulting the face of
the watch he held in his hand.
To both questions the young man seemed
too much out of breath to reply, offhand;
but turning and pointing in the direction
whence he came, he shook his head warningly,
threw himself down on the roadbed, as limp
as a rag, and began fanning himself with his
cap. After getting his breath a little, he
made out to say, ' Bridge afire quarter mile
back. Tried put it out couldn't. Heard
A NARROW ESCAPE n
train coming afraid be too late. Couldn't
run another step/
" * Get aboard/ said the conductor to him.
4 Jake/ to the grinning engine-man, * we'll run
down and take a look at it. Get out your
flag ! ' to a brakeman. * Like as not Thir-
teen '11 be along before we can make Brenton
switch. All aboard ! ' The delayed train
then moved on.
" As it neared the burning bridge it was
clear to every one that the young man's warn-
ing had prevented a disastrous wreck, prob-
ably much loss of life, because the bridge
could not be seen until the train was close
upon it. All hands immediately set to work
with pails extinguishing the flames, which was
finally done after a hard fight. To risk a
heavy train upon the half-burned stringers
was, however, out of the question. Leaving
a man to see that the fire did not break out
again, the train was run back to the next sta-
tion, there to await further orders. We were
unable to learn the name of the young man to
12 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
whose presence of mind the passengers on
Number Four owed their escape from a seri-
ous, perhaps fatal disaster. But w r e are in-
formed that a collection was taken up for him
on the train, w T hich he, however, refused to
accept, stoutly insisting that he had only done
what it was his duty to do under the circum-
Thus far, the Morning Post-Horn. We
now take up the narrative where the enter-
prising journal left off.
While the delayed train was being held for
orders, the young man whose ready wit had
averted a calamity stood on the platform
with his hands in his trousers pockets, appar-
ently an unconcerned spectator of what was
going on around him. The little pug-nosed
conductor stepped up to him.
11 I say, young feller, what may I call your
Zebra, Zebra," repeated the conductor,
A NARROW ESCAPE 13
in a puzzled tone, u then I s'pose your an-
cestors came over in the Ark? '
" I didn't say Zebra; I said Seabury plain
enough/' snapped back the young man, get-
ting red in the face at seeing the broad grins
on the faces around him.
" Don't fire up so. Got any first name? '
" Walter Seabury," the conductor repeated
slowly, while scratching it down. ' Got to re-
port this job, you know. Say, where you
" I'm walkin' to Boston."
" Shanks' mare, hey. No, you ain't. Get
aboard and save your muscle. You own this
train to-day, and everything in it. Lively
now." The conductor then waved his hand,
and the train started on. At the bridge a
transfer was effected to a second train, and
this one again was soon reeling off the miles
toward Boston, as if to make up for lost
Being left to himself, young Seabury,
i 4 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
whom we may as well hereafter call by his
Christian name of Walter, could think of
nothing else than his wonderful luck. In-
stead of having a long, weary tramp before
him, here he was, riding in a railroad train,
and without its costing him a cent. This was
a saving of both time and money.
Pretty soon the friendly conductor came
down the aisle to where Walter sat, looking
out of the car window. After giving him a
sharp look, the conductor made up his mind
that here was no vagabond tramp. " It's
none of my business, but all the same I'd like
to know what you're walkin' to Boston for,
young feller? " he asked.
' Going to look for work."
"What's your job?"
I'm a rigger." And his hands, tarry and
cracked, bore out his story perfectly.
" Ever in Boston?"
' Know anybody there? " i
A NARROW ESCAPE 15
"Got any of this you know?' slapping
At this question Walter flushed up. He
drew himself up stiffly, smiled a pitying smile,
and said nothing. His manner conveyed the
idea that he really didn't know exactly how
much he was worth.
" That's first-rate," the conductor went on.
" Now, look here. You'll get lost in Boston.
I'll tell you what. When we get in, I'll show
you how to go to get down among the riggers'
lofts. You're a rigger, you say?' Walter
nodded. " They're all in a bunch, down at
the North End, riggers, sailmakers, pump-
and block-makers, and all the rest. Full of
work, too, I guess, all on account of this Cali-
forny business. Everybody's goin' crazy
over it. You will be, too, in a week."
By this time, the train was rumbling over
the long waste of salt-marsh stretching out
between the mainland and the dome-capped
city, and in five minutes more it drew up with
a jerk in the station, with the locomotive puff-
16 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
ing out steam like a tired racehorse after a
hard push at the finish.
The conductor was as good as his word.
He told Walter to go straight up Tremont
Street until he came to Hanover, then
straight down Hanover to the water, and then
to follow his nose. " Oh, you can't miss it,"
was the cheerful, parting assurance. ' Smell
it a mile." But going straight up this street,
and straight down that, was a direction not so
easy to follow, as Walter soon found. The
crowds bewildered him, and in trying to get
out of everybody's way, he got in everybody's
way, and was jostled, shoved about, and
stared at, as he slowly made his way through
the throng, until his roving eyes caught sight
of the tall masts and fluttering pennants,
where the long street suddenly came to an
end. Walter put down his bundle, took off
his cap, and wiped the perspiration from his
forehead. Whichever way he looked, the
wharves were crowded with ships, the ships
with workmen, and the street with loaded
A NARROW ESCAPE 17
trucks and wagons. Casting an eye upward
he could see riggers at work among the maze
of ropes and spars, like so many spiders weav-
ing their webs. Here, at least, he could feel
WALTER TELLS HIS STORY
WALTER'S first want was to find a board-
ing house suited to his means. Turning into
a side street, walled in by a row of two-story
brick houses, all as like as peas in a pod, he
found that the difficulty would be to pick and
choose, as all showed the same little tin sign
announcing " Board and Lodging, by the Day
or Week," tacked upon the door. After
walking irresolutely up and down the street
two or three times, he finally mustered up
courage to give a timid pull at the bell of one
of them. The door opened so suddenly that
Walter fell back a step. He began stammer-
ing out something, but before he could finish,
the untidy-looking girl sang out at the top of
her voice: "Miss Hashall, Miss Hashall,
there's somebody wants to see you ! " She
WALTER TELLS HIS STORY 19
then bolted off through the back door singing
" I want to be an angel," in a voice that set
Walter's teeth on an edge. To make a long
story short, Walter soon struck a bargain with
the landlady, a fat, pudgy person in a
greasy black poplin, wearing a false front-,
false teeth, and false stones in her breastpin.
True, Walter silently resented her demanding
a week's board in advance, it seemed so like a
reflection upon his honesty, but was easily
mollified by the motherly interest she seemed
to take in him or his cash.
Bright and early the next morning Walter
sallied out in search of work. His landlady
had told him to apply at the first loft he came
to. " Why, you can't make no mistake," the
woman declared. " They're all drove to
death, and hands is scurse as hens' teeth, all
on account of this Kalerforny fever what car-
ries so many of 'em off. Don't I wish I was
a man! I'd jest like to dig gold enough to
buy me a house on Beacon Street and ride in
my kerridge. You just go and spunk right
ao THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
up to 'em, like I do. That's the way to get
along in this world, my son."
Walter's landlady had told him truly.
The demand for vessels for the California
trade was so urgent that even worm-eaten old
whaleships were being overhauled and refitted
with all haste, and as Walter walked along
he noticed that about every craft he saw
showed the same sign in her rigging, ' For
San Francisco with dispatch." u Well, I'll
be hanged if there ain't the old Argonaut
that father was mate of ! ' Walter exclaimed
quite aloud, clearly taken by surprise at see-
ing an old acquaintance quite unexpectedly in
a strange place, and quickly recognizing her,
in spite of a new coat of paint alow and
The riggers were busy setting up the stand-
ing rigging, reeving new halliards, and giving
the old barky a general overhauling. Wal-
ter climbed on board and began a critical
survey of the ship's rigging, high and low.
What yer lookin' at, greeny?" one of
WALTER TELLS HIS STORY 21
the riggers asked him, at seeing Walter's eyes
fixed on some object aloft.
" I'm looking at that Irish pennant * on
that stay up there," was the quick reply.
This caused a broad smile to spread over the
faces of the workmen.
" You a rigger?"
' I've helped rig this ship."
" Want a job?"
" Well, here," tossing Walter a marline-
spike, " let's see you make this splice." It
was neatly and quickly done. " I'll give you
ten dollars a week." Walter held out for
twelve, and after some demurring on the part
of the boss, a bargain was struck. Walter's
overalls were rolled up in a paper, under his
arm, so that he was immediately ready to be-
Being, as it were, in the midst of the
stream of visitors to the ship, hearing no end
of talk about the wonderful fortunes to be
* A strand of marline carelessly left flying by a rigger.
23 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
made in the Land of Gold, Walter did not
wholly escape the prevailing frenzy, for such
it was. But knowing that he had not the
means of paying for his passage, Walter
resolutely kept at work, and let the troubled
stream pass by. There was still another ob-
stacle. He would have to leave behind him
a widowed aunt, whose means of support were
strictly limited to her actual wants. He had
at once written to her of his good fortune in
obtaining work, though the receipt of that
same letter had proved a great shock to the
' poor lone creetur," as she described herself,
because she had freely given out among her
neighbors that a boy who would run away
from such a good home as Walter had, would
surely come to no good end.
Walter had struck up a rather sudden
friendship with a young fellow workman of
about his own age, named Charley Worm-
wood. On account of his name he was nick-
named " Bitters." Charley was a happy-go-
lucky sort of chap, valuing the world chiefly
WALTER TELLS HIS STORY 23
for the amusement it afforded, and finding
that amusement in about everything and
everybody. Though mercilessly chaffed by
the older hands, Charley took it all so good-
naturedly that he made himself a general
favorite. The two young men soon arranged
to room together, and had come to be sworn
One pleasant evening, as the two sat in
their room, with chairs tilted back against the
wall, the following conversation was begun
by Charley: "I say, Walt, we've been to-
gether here two months now, to a dot, and
never a word have you said about your folks.
Mind now, I don't want to pry into your
secrets, but I'd like to know who you are, if
it's all the same to you. Have you killed a
man, or broke a bank, or set a fire, or what?
Folks think it funny, when I have to tell them
I don't know anything about you, except by
guess, and you know that's a mighty poor
course to steer by. Pooh ! you're as close as
an oyster ! '
24 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
Walter colored to his temples. For a
short space he sat eyeing Charley without
speaking. Then he spoke up with an evident
effort at self-control, as if the question, so
suddenly put, had awakened painful memo-
ries. " There's no mystery about it," he said.
" You want to hear the story? So be it, then.
I'll tell mine if you'll tell yours.
" I b'long to an old whaling port down on
the Cape. I was left an orphan when I was
a little shaver, knee-high to a toadstool.
Uncle Dick, he took me home. Aunt
Marthy didn't like it, I guess. All she said
was, 'Massy me! another mouth to feed?'
* Pooh, pooh, Marthy,' uncle laughed, ' where
there's enough for two, there's enough for
three.' She shut up, but she never liked me
1 An orphan? ' interjected Charley. " No
father nor mother?'
; I'll tell you about it. You see, my father
went out mate on a whaling voyage in the
Pacific, in this very same old Argonaut we've
WALTER TELLS HIS STORY 25
been patchin' and pluggin' up. It may have
been a year we got a letter telling he was dead.
Boat he was in swamped, while fast to a
whale a big one. They picked up his hat.
Sharks took him, I guess. Mother was
poorly. She fell into a decline, they called
it, and didn't live long. We had nothin' but
father's wages. They was only a drop in
the bucket. Then there was only me left."
" That was the time your uncle took you
" Yes; Uncle Dick was a rigger by trade.
He used to show me how to make all sorts of
knots and -splices evenings; and bimeby he
got me a chance, when I was big enough,
doin' odd jobs like, for a dollar a week, in the
loft or on the ships. Aunt Marthy said a
dollar a week didn't begin to pay for what I
et. Guess she knew. Pretty soon, I got a
raise to a dollar-half."
" But what made you quit? Didn't you
like the work ? '
" Liked it first-rate. Like it now. But I
26 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
couldn't stand Aunt Marthy's sour looks and
sharp tongue. Nothing suited her. She
was either as cold as ice, or as hot as fire coals.
When she wasn't scolding, she was groaning.
Said she couldn't see what some folks was
born into this world just to slave for other
folks for." A frown passed over Walter's
face at the recollection.
1 Nice woman that," observed the senten-
tious Charley. " But how about the uncle ? "
he added. " Couldn't he make her hold her
yawp ? '
* Oh, no better man ever stood. He was
like a father to me bless him!" (Wal-
ter's voice grew a little shaky here.) " But
he showed the white feather to Aunt Marthy.
Whenever she went into one of her tantrums,
he would take his pipe and clear out, leaving
me to bear the brunt of it.
' A good while after mother died, father's
sea-chest was brought home in the Argonaut.
There was nothing in it but old clothes, this
watch [showing it], and some torn and greasy
WALTER TELLS HIS STORY 27
sea-charts, with the courses father had sailed
pricked out on 'em. Those charts made me
sort o' hanker to see the world, which I then
saw men traveled with the aid of a roll of
paper, and a little knowledge, as certainly,
and as safely, as we do the streets of Boston.
You better believe I studied over those charts
some ! Anyhow, I know my geography."
And Walter's blue eyes lighted up with a look
' Bully for you ! Then that was what
started you out on your travels, was it?'
" No : I had often thought of slipping away
some dark night, but couldn't make up my
mind to it. It did seem so kind o' mean after
all Uncle Dick had done for me. But one
day (one bad day for me, Charley) a man
came running up to the loft, all out of breath,
to tell me that Uncle Dick had fallen down
the ship's hatchway, and that they were now
bringing him home on a stretcher. I tell you
I felt sick and faint when I saw him lying
there lifeless. He never spoke again.
28 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
" Shortly after the funeral, upon going to
the loft the foreman told me that work being
slack they would have to lay off a lot of
hands, me with the rest. Before I went to
sleep that night I made up my mind to strike
out for myself; for now that Uncle Dick was
gone, I couldn't endure my life any longer. I
set about packing up my duds without saying
anything to my aunt, for I knew what a rum-
pus she would make over it, and if there's
anything I hate it's a scene."
' Me too," Charley vigorously assented.
" Rather take a lickin'."
" Well," Walter resumed, " I counted up
my money first. There was just forty-nine
dollars. Lucky number: it was the year '49
too. I put ten of it in an envelope directed
to my aunt, and put it on the chimney-piece
where she couldn't help seeing it when she
came into my room. Then I took a piece of
chalk and wrote on the table top : ' I'm going
away to hunt for work. When I get some,
I'll let you know. Please take care of my
WALTER TELLS HIS STORY 29
chest. Look on the mantelpiece. Good-bye.
" Then, like a thief, I slipped out of the
house by a back way, in my stocking feet, and
never stopped running till I was 'way out of
town. There I struck the railroad. I knew
if I followed it it would take me to Boston.
And it did. That's all."
AND CHARLEY TELLS HIS
THERE was silence for a minute or two,
each of the lads being busy with his own
thoughts. Apparently they were not pleasant
thoughts. What a tantalizing thing memory
sometimes is !
But it was not in the nature of things for
either to remain long speechless. Walter
first broke silence by reminding Charley of his
promise. ' Come now, you've wormed all
that out of me about my folks, pay your debts.
I should like to know what made you leave
home. Did you run away, too?'
At this question, Charley's mouth puckered
up queerly, and then quickly broke out into a
broad grin, while his eyes almost shut tight
at the recollection Walter's question had sum-
moned up. * It was all along of ' Rough on
Rats,' ' he managed to say at last
AND CHARLEY TELLS HIS 31
"' Rough on Rats?'"
" Yes, * Rough on Rats.' Rat poison. You
just wait, and hear me through.
" I've got a father somewhere, I b'leeve.
Boys gen'ally have, I s'pose, though whether
mine's dead or alive, not knowin', can't say.
We were poor as Job's turkey, if you know
how poor that was. I don't. Anyway, he
put me out to work on a milk and chicken
farm back here in the country, twenty miles
or so, to a man by the name of Bennett, and
then took himself off out West some-
" And you've never seen him since? '
4 No; I ha'n't never missed him, or the
lickin's he give me. Well, my boss he raised
lots of young chickens for market. We was
awfully pestered with rats, big, fat, sassy ones,
getting into the coops nights, and killing off
the little chicks as soon's ever they was
hatched out. You see, they was tender. Be-
sides eating the chicks they et up most of the
grain we throw'd into the hens. The boss he
32 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
tried everything to drive those rats away.
He tried cats an' he tried traps. 'Twan't
no use. The cats wouldn't tech the rats nor
the rats go near the traps. You can't fool an
old rat much, anyhow," he added with a know-
ing shake of his head.
" Well, the boss was a-countin' the chicks
one mornin', while ladling out the dough to
'em. ' Confound those rats/ he sputtered
out; 'there's eight more chicks gone sence I
fed last night. I'd gin something to red the
place on 'em, I would.'
' Uncle,' says I (he let me call him uncle,
seein' he'd kind of adopted me like) ' uncle,'
says I, 'why don't you try Rough on
Rats? They say that '11 fetch 'em every
" ' What's that? Never heer'd on't. How
do you know ? Who says so ? ' he axed all in
* Anyhow, I seen a big poster down at the
Four Corners that says so,' says I. ' The
boys was a-talkin' about what it had done up
AND CHARLEY TELLS HIS 33
to Skillings' place. Skillings allowed he'd red
his place of rats with it. Hadn't seen hide
nor hair of one sence he fust tried it. Every-
body says it's a big thing.'
The old man said nothin' more just then.
He didn't let on that my advice was worth a
cent; but I noticed that he went off and bought
some Rough on Rats that same afternoon,
and when the old hens had gone to roost and
the mother hens had gathered their broods
under 'em for the night, uncle he slyly stirred
up a big dose of the p'isen stuff into a pan
of meal, which he set down inside the hen-
1 Uncle's idea was to get up early in the
mornin', so's to count up the dead rats, I
' But he did not get up early enough.
When he went out into the henhouse to in-
vestigate, he found fifteen or twenty of his
best hens lying dead around the floor after
eatin' of the p'isen'd meal.
When I come outdoors he was stoopin'
34 THE YOUNG V I GIL ANTES
down, with his back to me pickin' 'em
Walter laughed until the tears rolled down
his cheeks, sobered down, and then broke out
again. Charley found the laugh infectious
and joined in it, though more moderately.
" Go ahead. Let's have the rest, do,"
Walter entreated. " What next? "
' I asked Uncle Bennett what he was goin'
to do with all those dead hens. He flung one
at my head. Oh ! but he was mad. ' Just
stop where you be, my little joker,' says he,
startin' off for the stable ; ' I've got some-
thin' that's Rough on Brats, an' you shall
have a taste on't right off. Don't you
stir a step,' shakin' his fist at me, * or I'll give
you the worst dressin' down you ever had in
all your life.'
While he was gone for a horsewhip, I lit
out for the Corners. You couldn't have seen
me for dust.
' I darsen't go back to the house and I had
only a silver ninepence in my pocket and a
AND CHARLEY TELLS HIS 35
few coppers, but I managed to beg my way to
Boston. Oh ! Walt, it was a long time be-
tween meals, I can tell you. I slept one night
in a barn, on the haymow. Nobody saw me
slip in after dark. I took off my neckerchief
and laid it down within reach, for it was hot
weather on that haymow, and I was 'most
choked with the dust I swallowed. I over-
slept. In the morning I heard a noise
down where the hosses were tied up. Some
one was rakin' down hay for 'em. I reached
for my neckerchief, thinkin' how I should get
away without being seen, when a boy's voice
gave a shout, Towser ! Towser ! ' and
then I knew it was all up, for that boy had
raked down my neckerchief with the hay, and
he knew there was a tramp somewhere about.
" The long and short of it is, that the dog
chased me till I was ready to drop or until
another and a bigger one came out of a yard
and tackled him. Then it was dog eat dog.
" When I got to Boston it was night. I
had no money. I didn't know where to go.
36 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
Tired's no name for it. I was dead-beat.
So I threw myself down on a doorstep and
was asleep in a minnit. There was an alarm
of fire. An ingine came jolting along. I
forgot all about being tired and took holt of
the rope, and ran, and hollered, with the rest.
The fire was all out when we got there, so I
went back to the ingine house, and the stew-
ard let me sleep in the cellar a couple of hours
and wash up in the mornin'. But I'm ahead
of my story. They had hot coffee and crack-
ers and cheese when they got back from the
fire. No cheese ever tasted like that before.
Give me a fireman for a friend at need. I
hung round that ingine house till I picked up
a job. The company was all calkers, grav-
ers, riggers, and the like. Tough lot ! How
they could wallop that old tub over the cobble-
stones, to be sure ! '
And here Charley fell into a fit of musing
from which Walter did not attempt to rouse
him. In their past experiences the two boys
had found a common bond.
WHAT HAPPENED ON BOARD THE " ARGO-
SEEING that Walter also had fallen into a
brown study, Charley quickly changed the
subject. "See here, Walt!' he exclaimed,
* the Argonaut's going to sail for Californy
first fair wind. To-morrow's Sunday, and
Father Taylor's goin' to preach aboard of
her. He's immense ! Let's go and hear
him. What do you say? '
Walter jumped at the proposal. " I want
to hear Father Taylor ever so much, and I
shouldn't mind taking a look at the passen-
Sunday came. Walter put on his best suit,
and the two friends strolled down to the
wharf where the Argonaut lay moored with
topsails loosened, and flags and streamers flut-
38 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
tering gayly aloft. The ship was thronged
not only with those about to sail for the Land
of Gold, but also with the friends who had
come to bid them good-bye; besides many at-
tracted by mere curiosity, or, perhaps, by the
fame of Father Taylor's preaching. There
was a perfect Babel of voices. As Walter
was passing one group he overheard the re-
mark, " She'll never get round the Horn.
Too deep. Too many passengers by half.
Look at that bow ! Have to walk round her
to tell stem from starn."
* Oh, she'll get there fast enough," his
companion replied. ' She knows the way.
Besides, you can't sink her. She's got lumber
enough in her hold to keep her afloat if she
should get waterlogged."
That ain't the whole story by a long
shot," a third speaker broke in. " Don't you
remember the crack ship that spoke an old
whaler at sea, both bound out for California?
The passengers on the crack ship called out to
the passengers on the old whaler to know if
ON BOARD THE 'ARGONAUT 39
they wanted to be reported. When the
crack ship got into San Francisco, lo and be-
hold ! there lay the ' old tub ' quietly at
anchor. Been in a week."
Strange sight, indeed, it was to see men
who, but the day before, were clerks in sober
tweeds, farmers in homespun, or mechanics
in greasy overalls, now so dressed up as to
look far more like brigands than peaceful
citizens; for it would seem that, to their no-
tion, they could be no true Californians un-
less they started off armed to the teeth. So
the poor stay-at-homes were given to under-
stand how wanting they were in the bold
spirit of adventure by a lavish display of pis-
tols and bowie-knives, rifles and carbines.
Poor creatures ! they little knew how soon they
were to meet an enemy not to be overcome
with powder and lead.
Between decks, if the truth must be told,
many of the passengers were engaged in
sparring or wrestling bouts, playing cards, or
shuffleboard, or hop-scotch, as regardless of
40 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
the day as if going to California meant a
cutting loose from all the restraints of civ-
ilized life. The two friends made haste to
get on deck. As they mingled with the crowd
again, Walter exchanged quick glances with a
middle-aged gentleman on whose arm a re-
markably pretty young lady was leaning.
Walter was saying to himself, ' I wonder
where I have seen that man before," when the
full and sonorous voice of Father Taylor, the
seaman's friend, hushed the confused mur-
mur of voices around him into a reverential
silence. With none of the arts and graces of
the pulpit orator, that short, thick-set, hard-
featured man spoke like one inspired for a
full hour, and during that hour nobody stirred
from the spot where he had taken his stand.
Father Taylor's every word had struck home.
The last hymn had been sung, the last
prayer said. At its ending the crowd slowly
began filing down the one long, narrow plank
reaching from the ship's gangway to the
wharf. Nobody seemed to have noticed that
ON BOARD THE 'ARGONAUT 41
the rising tide had lifted this plank to an in-
cline that would make the descent trying to
weak nerves, especially as there were five or
six feet of clear water to be passed over be-
tween ship and shore. It was just as one
young lady was in the act of stepping upon
this plank that two young scapegraces ahead
of her ran down it with such violence as to
make it rebound like a springboard, causing
the young lady first to lose her balance, then
to make a false step, and then to fall scream-
ing into the water, twenty feet below.
Everybody ran to that side, and everybody
began shouting at once: " Man overboard! '
* A boat : get a boat ! ' ' " Throw over a rope !
a plank! " " She's going down! " " Help!
help!" but nobody seemed to have their wits
about them. With the hundreds looking on,
it really seemed as if the girl might drown
before help could reach her.
Both Charley and Walter had witnessed
the accident: coats and hats were off in a jiffy.
Snatching up a coil of rope, it was the work
42 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
of a moment for Walter to make a running
noose, slip that under his arms, sign to Char-
ley to take a turn round a bitt, then to swing
himself over into the chains and be lowered
down into the water on the run by the quick-
Meantime, the young lady's father was al-
most beside himself. In one breath he called
to his daughter, by the name of Dora, to
catch at a rope that was too short to reach
her; in the next he was offering fifty, a hun-
dred dollars to Walter if he saved her.
Giving himself a vigorous shove with his
foot, in two or three strokes Walter was at
the girl's side and with his arms around her.
It was high time, too, as her clothes, which had
buoyed her up so far, were now water-soaked
and dragging her down. Only her head was
to be seen above water. At Walter's cheery
'Haul away!' fifty nervous arms dragged
them dripping up the ship's side. The young
lady fell, sobbing hysterically, into her father's
arms, and was forthwith hurried off into the
Walter rescuing" Dora Bright. Page 42.
7 ] '
PL v :llBF:,RY
ON BOARD THE "ARGONAUT" 43
cabin, while Walter, after picking up his coat
and hat, slipped off through the crowd, gained
the wharf unnoticed, and with the faithful,
but astonished, Charley at his heels, made a
bee-line for his lodgings. Moreover, Wal-
ter exacted a solemn promise from Charley
not to lisp one word of what had happened,
on pain of a good drubbing.
" My best suit, too ! " he ruefully exclaimed,
while divesting himself of his wet clothes.
" No matter: let him keep his old fifty dol-
lars. Pretty girl, though. I'm paid ten
times over. A coil of rope's a handy thing
sometimes. So's a rigger eh, Charley?'
Charley merely gave a dissatisfied grunt.
He was very far from understanding such
refined sentiments. Besides, half the money,
he reflected, would have been his, or ought to
have been, which was much the same thing to
his way of thinking. And when he thought
of the many things he could have done with
his share, the loss of it made him feel very
miserable, and more than half angry with
44 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
Walter. " Fifty dollars don't grow on every
bush," he muttered. " Then, what lions we'd
'a' been in the papers! " he lamented.
" You look here. Can't you do anything
without being paid for it? I'd taken thanks
from the old duffer, but not money. Can't
you understand? Now you keep still about
this, I tell you."
Though still grumbling, Charley concluded
to hold his tongue, knowing that Walter
would be as good as his word; but he inwardly
promised himself to keep his eyes open, and
if ever he should see a chance to let the cat
out of the bag without Walter's knowing it,
well, the mischief was in it if he, Charley,
didn't improve it, that was all.
ONE WAY OF GOING TO CALIFORNIA
THE Argonaut affair got into the news-
papers, where it was correctly reported, in the
main, except that the rescuer was supposed to
be one of the Argonaut's passengers, and as she
was now many miles at sea, Mr. Bright, the
father of Dora, as a last resort, put an adver-
tisement in the daily papers asking the un-
known to furnish his address without delay
to his grateful debtors. But as this failed to
elicit a reply, there was nothing more to be
Walter, however, had seen the advertise-
ment, and he had found out from it that Mr.
Bright was one of the Argonaut's principal
owners. He therefore felt quite safe from
discovery when he found himself reported as
having sailed in that vessel.
46 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
Time moved along quietly enough with
Walter until the Fourth of July was near at
hand, when it began to be noised about that
the brand-new clipper ship then receiving her
finishing touches in a neighboring yard would
be launched at high water on that eventful
day. What was unusual, the nameless ship
was to be launched fully rigged, so that the
riggers' gang was to take a hand in getting
her oft the ways. Everybody was con-
sequently on the tiptoe of expectation.
The eventful morning came at last. It be-
ing a holiday, thousands had repaired to the
spot, attracted by the novelty of seeing a ship
launched fully rigged. At a given signal, a
hundred sledges, wielded by as many brawny
arms, began a furious hammering away at the
blocks, which held the gallant ship bound and
helpless to the land. The men worked like
tigers, as if each and every one had a personal
interest in the success of the launch. At last
the clatter of busy hammers ceased, the grimy
workmen crept out, in twos and threes, from
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 4 7
underneath the huge black hull, and a hush fell
upon all that vast throng, so deep and breath-
less that the streamers at the mast-head could
be heard snapping like so many whiplashes in
the light breeze aloft.
" All clear for'ard? ' sang out the master
workman. " All clear, sir," came back the
quick response. " All clear aft? ' the voice
repeated. " Aye, aye, all clear." Still the
towering mass did not budge. It really
seemed as if she was a living creature hesi-
tating on the brink of her own fate, whether
to make the plunge or not. There was an
anxious moment. A hush fell upon all that
vast throng. Then, as the stately ship was
seen to move majestically off, first slowly, and
then with a rush and a leap, one deafening
shout went up from a thousand throats:
There she goes ! there she goes ! hurrah !
hurrah ! ' Every one declared it the pretti-
est launch ever seen.
Just as the nameless vessel glided off the
ways a young lady, who stood upon a tall scaf-
48 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
fold at the bow, quickly dashed a bottle of wine
against the stem, pronouncing as she did so
the name that the good ship was to bear hence-
forth, so proudly, on the seas the Flying
Arrow. Three rousing cheers greeted the
act, and the name. The crowd then began
As Walter was standing quite near the
platform erected for this ceremony, his face
all aglow with the vigorous use he had made
*>f the sledge he still held in his hand, the
young lady who had just christened the Fly-
ing Arrow came down the stairs. In doing
so, she looked Master Walter squarely in the
face. Lo and behold ! it was the girl of the
Argonaut. The recognition was instant and
Walter turned all colors at once. Giving
one glance at his greasy duck trousers and
checked shirt, his first impulse was to sneak
off without a word; but before he could do so
he was confronted by Mr. Bright himself.
Walter was thus caught, as it were, between
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 49
two fires. Oh, brave youth of the stalwart
arm and manly brow, thus to show the
white feather to that weak and timid little
Noticing the young man's embarrassment,
Mr. Bright drew him aside, out of earshot
of those who still lingered about. " So, so,
my young friend," he began with a quizzical
look at Walter, " we've had some trouble find-
ing you. Pray what were your reasons for
avoiding us? Neither of us [turning toward
his daughter] is a very dangerous person, as
you may see for yourself."
" Now, don't, papa," pleaded Dora.
Then, after giving a sidelong and reproachful
look at Walter, she added, " Why, he
wouldn't even let us thank him ! '
Walter tried to stammer out something
about not deserving thanks. The words
seemed to stick in his throat; but he did man-
age to say: " Fifty stood ready to do what I
did. I only got a little wetting, sir."
" Just so. But they didn't, all the same.
50 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
Come, we are not ungrateful. Can I de-
pend on you to call at my office, 76 State
Street, to-morrow morning about ten? '
" You can, sir," bowing respectfully.
" Very good. I shall expect you. Come,
Dora, we must be going." Father and
daughter then left the yard, but not until
Dora had given Walter another reproachful
look, out of the corner of her eye.
' Poor, proud, and sheepish," was the mer-
chant's only comment upon this interview, as
they walked homeward. Mentally, he was
asking himself where he had seen that face
Dora said nothing. Her stolen glances
had told her, however, that Walter was good-
looking; and that was much in his favor.
To be sure, he was plainly a common work-
man, and he had appeared very stiff and awk-
ward when her father spoke to him. Still
she felt that there was nothing low or vulgar
Punctual to the minute, Walter entered
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 51
the merchant's counting room, though, to say
truth, he found himself ill at ease in the pres-
ence of half a dozen spruce-looking clerks,
who first shot sly glances at him, then at each
other, as he carefully shut the door behind
him. Walter, however, bore their scrutiny
without flinching. He was only afraid of
girls, from sixteen to eighteen years old.
Mr. Bright immediately rose from his
desk, and beckoned Walter to follow him
out into the warehouse. You are prompt.
That's well," said he approvingly. " Now
then, to business. We want an outdoor clerk
on our wharf. You have no objection, I take
it, to entering our employment? '
Walter shook his head. " Oh, no, sir."
" Very good, then. I'll tell you more of
your duties presently. I hear a good account
of you. The salary will be six hundred the
first year, and a new suit of clothes, in return
for the one you spoiled. Here's a tailor's
address [handing Walter a card with the
order written upon it]. Go and get meas-
52 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
ured when you like, and mind you get a good
Walter took a moment to think, but
couldn't think at all. All he could say was:
" If you think, sir, I can fill the place, I'll try
my best to suit you."
" That's right. Try never was beat.
You may begin to-morrow." Walter went
off feeling more happy than he remembered
ever to have felt before. In truth, he could
hardy realize his good fortune.
This change in Walter's life brought with
it other changes. For one thing it broke off
his intimacy with Charley, although Walter
continued to receive occasional visits from his
old chum. He also began attending an even-
ing school, kept by a retired schoolmaster, in
order to improve his knowledge of writing,
spelling, and arithmetic, or rather to repair
the neglect of years; for he now began to feel
his deficiencies keenly with increasing respon-
sibilities. He was, however, an apt scholar,
and was soon making good progress. The
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 53
work on the wharf was far more to his lik-
ing than the confinement of the warehouse
could have been; and Walter was every day
storing up information w r hich some time, he
believed, would be of great use to him.
Time wore on, one day's round being much
like another's. But once Walter was given
such a fright that he did not get over it for
weeks. He was sometimes sent to the bank
to make a deposit or cash a check. On this
particular occasion he had drawn out quite
a large sum, in small bills, to be used in pay-
ing off the help. Not knowing what else to
do with it, Walter thrust the roll of bills into
his trousers pocket. It was raining gently
out of doors, and the sidewalks were thickly
spread with a coating of greasy mud. There
was another call or two to be made before
Walter returned to the store. At the head of
the street Walter stopped to think which call
he should make first. Mechanically he thrust
his hand in his pocket, then turned as pale as
a sheet, and a mist passed before his eyes.
54 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
The roll of bills was not there. A hole in the
pocket told the whole story. The roll had
slipped out somewhere. It was gone, and
through his own carelessness.
After a moment's indecision Walter started
back to the bank, carefully looking for the
lost roll at every step of the way. The street
was full of people, for this was the busiest
hour of the day. In vain he looked, and
looked, at every one he met. No one had a
roll of bills for which he was trying to find
an owner. Almost beside himself, he rushed
into the bank. Yes, the paying teller remem-
bered him, but was quite sure the lost roll had
not been picked up there, or he would have
known it. So Walter's last and faintest
hope now vanished. Go back to the office
with his strange story, he dared not. The
bank teller advised his reporting his loss to the
police, and advertising it in the evening edi-
tions. Slowly and sadly Walter retraced
his steps towards the spot where he had first
missed his employer's money, inwardly scold-
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 55
ing and accusing himself by turns. Vexed
beyond measure, calling himself all the fools
he could think of, Walter angrily stamped his
foot on the sidewalk. Presto ! out tumbled
the missing roll of bills from the bottom of
his trousers-leg when he brought his foot
down with such force. It had been caught
and held there by the stiffening material then
Walter went home that night thanking his
lucky stars that he had come out of a bad
scrape so easily. He was thinking over the
matter, when Charley burst into the room.
" I say, Walt, old fel, don't you want to buy
a piece of me?' he blurted out, tossing his
cap on the table, and falling into a chair quite
out of breath.
Walter simply stared, and for a minute the
two friends stared at each other without
speaking. Walter at length demanded:
Are you crazy, Charles Wormwood?
What in the name of common sense do you
5 6 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
" Oh, I'm not fooling. You needn't be
scared. Haven't you ever heard of folks
buying pieces of ships? Say? '
" S'pose I have; what's that got to do with
" I'll tell you. Look here. When a fel-
ler wants to go to Californy awful bad, like
me, and hasn't got the chink, like me, he gets
some other fellers who can't go, like you, to
chip in to pay his passage for him."
" Pooh! That's all plain sailing. When
he earns the money he pays it back," Walter
' No, you're all out. Just you hold your
bosses. It's like this. The chap who gets
the send-off binds himself, good and strong,
mind you, to divide what he makes out there
among his owners, 'cordin' to what they put
into him- -same's owning pieces of a ship,
ain't it? See? How big a piece '11 you
take?' finished Charley, cracking his
knuckles in his impatience.
Walter leaned back in his chair, and burst
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 57
out in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Char-
ley grew red in the face. " Look here, Walt,
you needn't have any if you don't want it."
He took up his cap to go. Walter stopped
" There, you needn't get your back up, old
chap. It's the funniest thing I ever heard of.
Why, it beats all!"
u It's done every day," Charley broke in.
" You won't lose anything by me, Walt," he
added, anxiously scanning Walter's face.
" See if you do."
Walter had saved a little money. He
therefore agreed to become a shareholder in
Charles Wormwood, Esquire, to the tune of
fifty dollars, said Wormwood duly agreeing
and covenanting, on his part, to pay over
dividends as fast as earned. So the ingenious
Charley sailed with as good a kit as could be
picked up in Boston, not omitting a beautiful
Colt's revolver (Walter's gift), on which was
engraved, "Use me; don't abuse me."
Charles was to work his passage out in the
5 8 THE YOUNG V 1 GIL ANTES
new clipper, which arrangement would land
him in San Francisco with his capital unim-
paired. " God bless you, Charley, my boy,"
stammered Walter, as the two friends wrung
each other's hands. He could not have
spoken another word without breaking down,
which would have been positive degradation
in a boy's eyes.
" I'll make your fortune, see if I don't,"
was Charley's cheerful farewell. " On the
square I will," he brokenly added.
The house of Bright, Wantage & Company
had a confidential clerk for whom Walter felt
a secret antipathy from the first day they met.
We cannot explain these things; we only know
that they exist. It may be a senseless preju-
dice; no matter, we cannot help it. This
clerk's name was Ramon Ingersoll. His man-
ner toward his fellow clerks was so top-lofty
and so condescending that one and all thor-
oughly disliked him. Some slight claim Ra-
mon was supposed to have upon the senior
partner, Mr. Bright, kept the junior clerks
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 59
somewhat in awe of him. But there was al-
ways friction in the counting-room when the
clerks were left alone together.
The truth is that Ramon's father had at
one time acted as agent for the house at Ma-
tanzas, in Cuba. When he died, leaving
nothing but debts and this one orphan child,
for he had buried his wife some years before,
Mr. Bright had taken the little Ramon home,
sent him to school, paid all his expenses out
of his own pocket and finally given him a
place of trust in his counting-house. In a
word, this orphaned, penniless boy owed
everything to his benefactor.
As has been already mentioned, without
being able to give a reason for his belief, Wal-
ter had an instinctive feeling that Ramon
would some day get him into trouble. Fortu-
nately Walter's duties kept him mostly out-
side the warehouse, so that the two seldom
One day Ramon, with more than ordinary
cordiality, asked Walter to visit him at his
60 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
room that same evening in order to meet, as
he said, one or two particular friends of his.
At the appointed time Walter went, without
mistrust, to Ingersoll's lodgings. Upon en-
tering the room he found there two very
flashy-looking men, one of whom was short,
fat, and smooth-shaven, with an oily good-
natured leer lurking about the corners of his
mouth; the other dark-browed, bearded, and
scowling, with, as Walter thought, as desper-
ately villainous a face as he had ever looked
* Ah, here you are, at last ! " cried Ramon,
as he let Walter in. " This is Mr. Good-
man," here the fat man bowed, and smiled
blandly; " and this, Mr. Lambkin." The
dark man looked up, scowled, and nodded.
' And now," Ramon went on, " as we have
been waiting for you, what say you to a little
game of whist, or high-low-jack, or euchre,
just to pass away the time? "
I'm agreeable," said Mr. Goodman,
' though, upon my word and honor, I hardly
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 61
know one card from another. However, just
to make up your party, I will take a hand."
The knight of the gloomy brow silently
drew his chair up to the table, which was, at
least, significant of his intentions.
Walter had no scruples about playing an
innocent game of whist. So he sat down with
The game went on rather languidly until,
all at once, the fat man broke out, without
taking his eyes off his cards, ' Bless me !
why, the strangest thing ! if I were a betting
man, I declare I wouldn't mind risking a trifle
on this hand."
Ramon laughed good-naturedly, as he re-
plied in an offhand sort of way: " Oh, we're
all friends here. There's no objection to a
little social game, I suppose, among friends."
Here he stole an inquiring look at Walter.
" Besides," he continued, while carelessly
glancing at his own hand, " I've a good mind
to bet a trifle myself."
Though still quite unsuspicious, Walter
62 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
looked upon this interruption of the harmless
game with misgiving.
"All right," Goodman resumed, " here
goes a dollar, just for the fun of the thing."
The taciturn Lambkin said not a word, but
taking out a well-stuffed wallet, quietly laid
down two dollars on the one that Goodman
had just put up.
" I know I can beat them," Ramon whis-
pered in Walter's ear. u By Jove, I'll risk it
just this once ! '
* No, don't," Walter whispered back,
pleadingly, " it's gambling."
' Pshaw, man, it's only for sport," Ramon
impatiently rejoined, immediately adding five
dollars of his own money to the three before
Walter laid down his cards, leaned back
in his chair, and folded his arms resolutely
across his chest. " And the fat man said he
hardly knew one card from another. How
quick some folks do learn," he said to him-
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 63
" Isn't our young friend going to try his
luck? " smiled, rather than asked, the unctu-
"No; I never play for money," was the
Once the ice was broken the game went on
for higher, and still higher, stakes, until Wal-
ter, getting actually frightened at the reck-
lessness with which Ramon played and lost,
rose to go.
After vainly urging him to remain, an-
noyed at his failure to make Walter play, en-
raged by his own losses, Ramon followed
Walter outside the door, shut it behind them,
and said in a menacing sort of way, " Not a
word of this at the store."
' Promise you won't play any more."
' I won't do no such thing. Who set you
up for my guardian ? If you're mean enough
to play the sneak, tell if you dare ! '
Walter felt his anger rising, but controlled
himself. ' Oh, very well, only remember
that I warned you," he replied, turning away.
64 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
" Don't preach, Master Innocence ! '
" Don't threaten, Master Hypocrite ! " was
the angry retort.
Quick as a flash, Ramon sprang before
Walter, and barred his way. All the tiger in
his nature gleamed in his eyes. " One word
of this to Mr. Bright, and I'll I'll fix you ! "
he almost shrieked out.
With that the two young men clinched, and
for a few minutes nothing could be heard but
their heavy breathing. This did not last.
Walter soon showed himself much the
stronger of the two, and Master Ramon, in
spite of his struggles, found himself lying
flat on his back, with his adversary's knee on
his chest. Ramon instantly gave in. Chok-
ing down his wrath, he jerked out, " There,
I promise. Let me up."
' Oh, if you promise, so do I," said Wal-
ter, releasing his hold on Ramon. He then
left the house without another word. He
did not see Ramon shaking his fist behind
GOING TO CALIFORNIA 65
his back, or hear him muttering threats of
vengeance to himself, as he went back to his
vicious companions. Walter did wish, how-
ever, that he had given Ramon just one more
punch for keeps.
So they parted. Satisfied that Walter
would not break his promise, Ramon made all
haste back to his companions, laughing in his
sleeve to think how easily he had fooled that
milksop Seabury. His companions were two
as notorious sharpers as Boston contained.
He continued to lose heavily, they luring him
on by letting him win now and then, until
they were satisfied he had nothing more to
lose. At two in the morning their victim
rose up from the table, hardly realizing, so
far gone was he in liquor, that he was five
hundred dollars in debt to Lambkin, or that
he had signed a note for that sum with the
name of his employers, Bright, Wantage &
Company. He had found the road from
gambling to forgery a natural and easy one.
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD
LEAVING Ingersoll to follow his crooked
ways, we must now introduce a character,
with whom Walter had formed an acquaint-
ance, destined to have no small influence upon
his own future life.
Bill Portlock was probably as good a speci-
men of an old, battered man-o'-war's man as
could be scared up between Montauk and
Quoddy Head. While a powder-monkey, on
board the President frigate, he had been taken
prisoner and confined in Dartmoor Prison,
from which he had made his escape, with some
companions in captivity, by digging a hole
under the foundation wall with an old iron
spoon. Shipping on board a British mer-
chantman, he had deserted at the first neutral
port she touched at. He was now doing
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD 67
odd jobs about the wharves, as 'longshore-
man; and as Walter had thrown many such
in the old salt's way a kind of intimacy had
grown up between them. Bill loved dearly
to spin a yarn, and some of his adventures,
told in his own vernacular, would have made
the late Baron Munchausen turn green with
envy. " Why," he would say, after spinning
one of his wonderful yarns, " ef I sh'd tell ye
my adventers, man and boy, you'd think
'twas Roberson Crushoe a-talkin' to ye. No
need o' lyin'. Sober airnest beats all they
Bill's castle was a condemned caboose, left
on the wharf by some ship that was now plow-
ing some distant sea. Her name, the Or-
pheus, could still be read in faded paint on the
caboose; so that Bill always claimed to be-
long to the Orpheus, or she to him, he couldn't
exactly say which. When he was at work on
the wharf, after securing his castle with a
stout padlock, he announced the fact to an in-
quiring public by chalking up the legend,
68 THE YOUNG F I GIL ANTES
"Aboard the brig," or "Aboard the
skoner," as the case might be. If called to
take a passenger off to some vessel in his
wherry, the notice would then read, " Back at
eight bells." A sailor he was, and a sailor he
said he would live and die.
No one but a sailor, and an old sailor at
that, could have squeezed himself into the nar-
row limits of the caboose, w r here it was not
possible, even for a short man like Bill, to
stand upright, though Bill himself considered
it quite luxurious living. There was a rusty
old cooking stove at one end, with two legs
of its own, and two replaced by half-bricks;
the other end being taken up by a bench, from
which Bill deftly manipulated saucepan or
" Why, Lor' bless ye ! " said Bill to Walter
one evening, " I seed ye fish that ar' young
'ooman out o' the dock that time. ' Bill,' sez
I to myself, ' thar's a chap, now, as knows a
backstay from a bullock's tail.' "
"Pshaw!" Then after a moment's si-
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD 69
lence, while Bill was busy lighting his pipe,
Walter absently asked, ' Bill, were you ever
in California? '
" Kalerforny? Was I ever in Kalerforny?
Didn't I go out to Sandy Ager, in thirty-
eight, in a hide drogher? And d'ye know
why they call it Sandy Ager? I does.
Why, blow me if it ain't sandy 'nuff for old
Cape Cod herself ; and as for the ager, if you'll
b'leeve me, our ship's crew shook so with it,
that all hands had to turn to a-settin' up rig-
gin' twict a month, it got so slack with the
shakin' up like."
" What an unhealthy place that must be,"
laughed Walter. Then suddenly changing
the subject, he said: "Bill, you know the
Racehorse is a good two months overdue."
Bill nodded. " I know our folks are getting
uneasy about her. No wonder. Valuable
cargo, and no insurance. What's your
Bill gave a few whiffs at his pipe before
replying. " I know that ar' Racehorse.
70 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
She's a clipper, and has a good sailor aboard
of her: but heavy sparred, an' not the kind to
be carryin' sail on in the typhoon season, jest
to make a quick passage." Bill shook his
head. " Like as not she's dismasted, or
sprung a leak, an' the Lord knows what
The next day happened to be Saturday.
As Walter was going into the warehouse he
met Ramon coming out. Since the night at
his lodgings, his manner toward Walter, out-
wardly at least, had undergone a marked
change. If anything it was too cordial.
4 Hello! Seabury, that you? " he said, in his
offhand way. ' Lucky thing you happened
in. It's steamer day, and I'm awfully hard
pushed for time. Would you mind getting
this check on the Suffolk cashed for me?
No? That's a good fellow. Do as much
for you some time. And, stay, on your way
back call at the California steamship agency
you know? all right. Well, see if there
are any berths left in the Georgia. You
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD 71
won't forget the name? The Georgia.
And, oh ! be sure to get gold for that check.
It's to pay duties with, you know," Ramon
hurriedly explained in an undertone.
"All right; I understand," said Walter,
walking briskly away on his errand. He quite
forgot all about the gold, though, until after
he had left the bank; when, suddenly remem-
bering it, he hurried back to get the coin, quite
flurried and provoked at his own forgetful-
ness. The cashier, however, counted out the
double-eagles, for the notes, without remark.
Such little instances of forgetfulness were too
common to excite his particular notice.
On that same evening, finding time hang-
ing rather heavily on his hands, Walter
strolled uptown in the direction of Mr.
Bright's house, which was in the fashionable
Mt. Vernon Street. The truth is that the
silly boy thought he might possibly catch a
glimpse of a certain young lady, or her
shadow, at least, in passing the brilliantly
lighted residence. It was, he admitted to
72 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
himself, a fool's errand, after walking slowly
backwards and forwards two or three times,
with his eyes fastened upon the lighted win-
dows; and with a feeling of disappointment he
turned away from the spot, heartily ashamed
of himself, as well, for having given way to
a sudden impulse. Glad he was that no one
had noticed him.
Walter's queer actions, however, did not
escape the attention of a certain lynx-eyed
policeman, who, snugly ensconced in the
shadow of a doorway, had watched his every
step. The young man had gone but a short
distance on his homeward way, when, as he
was about crossing the street, he came within
an ace of being knocked down and run over
by a passing hack, which turned the corner at
such a break-neck pace that there was barely
time to get out of the way. There was a gas-
light on this corner. At Walter's warning
shout to the driver, the person inside the hack
quickly put his head out of the window, and
as quickly drew it in again; but in that instant
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD 73
the light had shone full upon the face of Ra-
The driver lashed his horses into a run.
Walter stood stupidly staring after the car-
riage. Then, without knowing why, he ran
after it, confident that if he had recognized
Ramon in that brief moment, Ramon must
also have recognized him. The best he could
do, however, was to keep the carriage in sight,
but he soon saw that it was heading for the
railway station at the South End.
Out of breath, and nearly out of his head,
too, Walter dashed through the arched door-
way of the station, just in time to see a train
going out at the other end in a cloud of smoke.
In his eagerness, Walter ran headlong into the
arms of the night-watchman, who, seeing the
blank look on Walter's face, said, as he had
said a hundred times before to belated
travelers, "Too late, eh?'
" Yes, yes, too late," repeated Walter, in
a tone of deep vexation. While walking
home he began to think he had been making
74 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
a fool of himself again. After all, what busi-
ness was it of his if Ramon had gone to New
York? He might have gone on business of
the firm. Of course that was it. And what
right had he, Walter, to be chasing Ramon
through the streets, anyhow? Still, he was
sure that Ramon had recognized him, and
just as sure that Ramon had wished to avoid
being recognized, else why had he not spoken
or even waved his hand? Walter gave it up,
and went home to dream of chasing carriages
all night long.
Walter went to the wharf as usual the next
morning. In the course of the forenoon a
porter brought word that he was wanted at
the counting-room. When Walter went into
the office, Mr. Bright was walking the floor,
back and forth, with hasty steps, while a very
dark, clean-shaven, alert-looking man sat lean-
ing back in a chair before the door. This
person immediately arose, locked the office
door, put the key in his pocket, and then
quietly sat down again.
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD 75
Walter's heart was in his mouth. He
grew red and pale by turns. Before he could
collect his ideas Mr. Bright stopped in his
walk, looked him squarely in the eye, and, in
an altered voice, demanded sharply and
sternly: " Ingersoll where is he? No pre-
varication. I want the truth and nothing but
the truth. You understand? '
Walter tried hard to make a composed
answer, but the words would not seem to
come; and the merchant's cold gray eyes
seemed searching him through and through.
However, he managed to stammer out : ' I
don't know, sir, where he is gone away,
" Don't know. Gone away," repeated the
merchant. " Now answer me directly, without
any ifs or buts; where, and when, did you see
him last? "
"Last night; at least, I thought it was
Ramon." The dark man gave his head a
"Well, go on? What then?"
76 THE YOUNG FIGIL ANTES
" It was about nine o'clock, in a close car-
riage, not far from the Common." That, by
the way, was as near to Mr. Bright's house
as Walter thought proper to locate the affair.
Mr. Bright exchanged glances with the
dark man, who merely nodded, but said never
Thinking his examination was over, Wal-
ter plucked up the courage to say of his own
accord, " I ran after the carriage as tight as
I could; but you see, sir, the driver was lash-
ing his horses all the way, so I couldn't keep
up with it; and when I got to the depot the
train was just starting."
" Pray, what took you to that neighbor-
hood at that hour?' the silent man de-
manded so suddenly that the sound of his
voice startled Walter.
If ever conscious guilt showed itself in a
face, it now did in Walter's. He turned as
red as a peony. Mr. Bright frowned, while
the dark-skinned man smiled a knowing little
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD 77
Why, nothing in particular, sir. I was
only taking a little stroll about town, before
going home," Walter replied, a word at a
Yet your boarding place is at the other
end of the city, is it not?' pursued Mr.
" Yes, sir, it is."
" Walter Seabury, up to this time I have
always had a good opinion of you. This is
no time for concealments. The house has
been robbed of a large sum of money so
large that should it not be recovered within
twenty-four hours we must fail. Do you hear
fail? ' he repeated as if the word stuck in
his throat and choked him.
"Robbed; fail!" Walter faltered out,
hardly believing his own ears.
" Yes, robbed, and as I must believe by a
scoundrel warmed at my own fireside. And
you : why did you not report Ingersoll's flight
before it was too late to stop him ? '
Though shocked beyond measure by this
78 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
revelation, Walter made haste to reply: u Be-
cause, sir, I was not sure it was Ramon. It
was just a look, and he was gone like a flash.
" Besides what?"
" How could I know Ramon was running
" Why, then, did you run after him? Are
you in the habit of chasing every carriage you
may chance upon in the street?' again in-
terrupted the silent man.
Stung by the bantering tone of the stranger,
Walter made no reply. Mr. Bright was his
employer and had a perfect right to question
him ; but who was this man, and by what right
did he mix himself up in the matter?
' Quite right of you, young man, to say
nothing to criminate yourself; but perhaps
you will condescend to tell us, unless it would
be betraying confidence [again that cunning
smile], if you knew that this Ingersoll was a
The tell-tale blood again rushed to Wai-
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD 79
ter's temples, but instantly left them as it
dimly dawned upon him that he was suspected
of knowing more than he was willing to tell.
" Gently, marshal, gently," interposed Mr.
Bright. " He will tell all, if we give him
" One moment," rejoined the chief, with a
meaning look at the merchant. You hear,
young man, this firm has been robbed of
twenty thousand dollars quite a haul. The
thief has absconded. You tell a pretty
straight story, I allow, but before you are
many hours older you will have to explain
why you, who have nothing to do with that
department, should draw two thousand dol-
lars at the bank yesterday; why, after getting
banknotes you went back after gold," the
marshal continued, warming up as he piled
accusation on accusation; "why, again, you
went from there to secure a berth in the
Georgia, which sailed early this morning; and
why you are seen, for seen you were, first
watching Mr. Bright's house, and then arriv-
8o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
ing at the station just too late for the New
York express. Take my advice. Make a clean
breast of the whole affair. If you can clear
yourself, now is the time; if you can't, pos-
sibly you may be of some use in recovering the
Walter felt his legs giving way under him.
At last it was all out. Now it was as clear
as day how Ingersoll had so craftily managed
everything as to make Walter appear in the
light of a confederate. Now he knew why
Ingersoll had wished to avoid being recog-
nized. In a broken voice he told what he
knew of Ingersoll's wrong-doings, excusing
his own silence by the pledge he had given
When he had finished, the two men held
a whispered conference together. " Clear
case," observed the marshal; "one watched
your house while the other was making his
1 I'll not believe it. Why, this young man
saved my daughter's life."
A BLACK SHEEP IN THE FOLD 81
" Think as you like. At any rate, I
mean to keep an eye on him." So saying, the
marshal went on his way, humming a tune to
himself with as much unconcern as if he had
just got up from a game of checkers which
he had won handily. At the street corner he
hailed an officer, to whom he gave an order in
an undertone, and then walked on, smiling
and nodding right and left as he went.
Left alone with Mr. Bright, Walter stood
nervously twisting his cap in both hands, like
a culprit awaiting his sentence. It came at
last. " Until this matter is cleared up," Mr.
Bright said, " we cannot retain you in our
employ. Get what is due you. You can go
now." He then turned his back on Walter,
and began busying himself over the papers on
Walter went out of the office without an-
other word. He was simply stunned.
WALTER walked slowly down the wharf,
feeling as if the world had suddenly come to
an end. Nothing looked to him exactly as it
looked one short hour ago. He did not even
notice that a policeman was keeping a few
rods behind him. As 1 e walked along with
eyes fixed on the ground, a familiar voice
hailed him with, "Why, what ails ye, lad?
Seen a ghost or what? '
" Bill," said Walter, u would you believe
it, that skunk of a Ramon has run off with a lot
of the firm's money to California, they say?
And, oh, Bill ! Bill ! they suspect me, me> of
having helped him do it. And I'm dis-
charged. That's all." It was no use trying
to keep up longer. Walter broke down com-
pletely at the sound of a friendly voice at last.
THE FLIGHT 83
Bill silently led the way into the caboose.
He first lighted his pipe, for, like the Indians,
Bill seemed to believe that a good smoke
tended to clear the intellect. He then, save
for an occasional angry snort or grunt, heard
Walter through without interruption. When
the wretched story was all told Bill struck his
open palm upon his knee, jerking out between
whiffs : " My eye, here's a pretty kettle o' fish !
Ruin, failure, crash, and smash. Ship ashore,
and you all taken aback. Ssh ! ' suddenly
checking himself, as a shadow darkened the
one little pane of glass that served for a win-
dow. A policeman w r as looking in at them.
Giving the two friends a careless nod, he
walked slowly away.
It slowly dawned upon Walter that the
man with the black rosette in his hat, whom
he had seen at the office, had set a watch upon
him. ' Bill, you mustn't be seen talking to
me," said Walter, rising to leave. " They'll
think you are in the plot, too. Oh ! oh ! they
dog me about everywhere."
84 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
The old fellow laughed scornfully.
" That," he exclaimed, snapping his fingers,
" for the hull b'ilin' on 'em. I've licked many
a perleeceman in my time, and can do it again,
old as I am. But we can be foxy, too, I guess.
Listen. When I sees you comin', I'll go
acrost the wharf to where that 'ar brig lays,
over there. You foller me." Walter nodded.
1 1 go up aloft. You follers. We has our
little talk out in the maintop, free and easy
like, and the perleeceman, he has his watch
When Walter reached his boarding house
his landlady met him in the entry. She
seemed quite flustered and embarrassed.
" Oh, Mr. Seabury," she began, " I'm so glad
you've come ! Such a time ! There has been
an officer here tossing everything topsy-turvy
in your room. He would do it, in spite of all
I could say. I told him you were the best
boarder of the lot; never out late nights, or
coming home the worse for liquor, and always
prompt pay. Do you think, he told me to
THE FLIGHT 85
shut up, and mind my own business. Oh, sir,
what is the matter? That ever a nasty
policeman should came ransacking in my
house. Goodness alive ! why, if it gets out,
I'm a ruined woman. Please, sir, couldn't
you find another boarding place?'
This was the last straw for poor Walter.
Without a word he crept upstairs to his little
bedroom, threw himself down on the bed, and
cried as if his heart would break.
Walter was young. Conscious innocence
helped him to throw off the fit of despondency;
but in so far as feeling goes, he was ten years
older when he came out of it. It was quite
dark. Lighting a lamp, he hastily threw a
few things into a bag, scribbled a short note
to his aunt, inclosing the check received when
he was discharged, settled with the landlady,
who was in tears, always on tap ; took his bag
under his arm, and after satisfying himself
that the coast was clear, struck out a round-
about course, through crooked ways and blind
alleys, to the wharf. For the life of him, he
86 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
could not keep back a little bitter laugh when
he called to mind that this was the second
time in his short life that he had run away.
The wharf was deserted. There was no
light in the caboose; but upon Walter's giving
three cautious raps, the door was slid back,
and as quickly closed after him. Well," he
said, wearily throwing himself down on a
bench, " here I am again. I've been turned
out of doors now. You are my only friend
left. What would you do, if you were in my
place ? I can't bear it, and I won't," he broke
" I see," said Bill, meditatively shutting
both eyes, to give emphasis to the assertion.
' Nobody will give me a place now, with a
cloud like that hanging over me."
Bill nodded assent.
' I can't go back to the loft where I worked
before, to be pointed at and jeered at by every
duffer who may take it into his head to throw
this scrape in my face. Would you ? '
As Bill made no reply, but smoked on in
THE FLIGHT 87
silence, Walter exclaimed, almost fiercely,
"Confound it, man, say something! can't
you? You drive me crazy with all the rest."
This time Bill shook the ashes from his
pipe. " What would I do? Why, if it was
me I'd track the rascal to the eends of the
airth, and jump off arter him, but I'd have
him. And arter I'd cotched him, I'd twist his
neck just as quick as I would a pullet's," was
Bill's quiet but determined reply.
Walter simply stared, though every nerve
in his body thrilled at the bare idea.
" Pshaw, you don't mean it. What put that
silly notion into your head? Why, what
could I do single-handed and alone, against
such a consummate villain as that? Where's
the money to come from, in the first place ? '
Bill watched Walter's sudden change from
hot to cold. " Jest you take down that 'ar
coffee-pot over your head." Walter handed
it to him, as requested. First giving it a
vigorous shake, which made the contents rattle
again with a metallic sound, Bill then raised
THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
the lid, showing to Walter's astonished eyes a
mixture of copper, silver, and even a few
gold, coins, half filling the battered utensil.
" Thar's a bank as never busts, my son,"
chuckled the old man, at the same time turn-
ing the coffee-pot this way and that,
just for the pleasure of hearing it rattle.
" What do you think of them 'ar coffee-
grounds, heh? Single-handed, is it?' he
continued, with a sniff of disdain. ' I'll jest
order my kerridge, and go 'long with ye, my
It took some minutes for Walter to realize
that Bill was in real, downright, sober earnest.
But Bill was already shoving some odds and
ends into a canvas bag to emphasize his de-
cision. ' Strike while the iron's hot ' was
his motto. Walter started to his feet with
something of his old animation. " That
settles it! " he exclaimed. " Since I've been
turned out of doors, I feel as if I wanted to put
millions of miles between me and every one
I've ever known. Do you know, I think every
THE FLIGHT 89
one I meet is saying to himself, ' There's that
Walter Seabury, suspected of robbing his em-
ployers ' ? Go away I must, but I've found
out from the papers that no steamer sails be-
fore Saturday, and to-day is Wednesday, you
know. Where shall I hide my face for a
day or two ? How do I know they won't ar-
rest me, if they catch me trying to leave the
city? Oh, Bill, I can never stand that dis-
grace, never ! '
Having finished with his packing, Bill blew
out the light, pushed back the slide, and gave
a rapid look up and down the wharf. As he
drew in his head, he said just as indifferently
as if he had proposed taking a short walk
about town, " 'Pears to me as if the correck
thing for folks in our sitivation like was to
cut and run."
" True enough for me. But how about
you? They'll say that you were as deep in
the mud as I am in the mire. Give it up,
Bill. No, dear old friend, I mustn't drag
you down with me. I can't."
9 o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
" Bah ! Talk won't hurt old Bill nohow.
Bill's about squar' with the world. He owes
just as much as he don't owe."
Walter was deeply touched. He saw
plainly that it was no use trying to shake
the old fellow's purpose, so forbore urging
The old man waited a moment for Walter
to speak, and finding that he did not, laid his
big rough hand on the lad's shoulder and
asked impressively, " Did you send off your
chist to your aunt as I told ye to? '
' I did, an hour ago."
" An' did you kind o' explanify things to
the old gal?"
" How could I tell her, Bill? Didn't she
always say I would come to no good end? I
wrote her that I was going away a long
way off and for a long time. I couldn't
say just how long. A year or two perhaps.
My head was all topsy-turvy, anyhow."
You didn't forgit she took keer on ye
when ye war a kid? '
THE FLIGHT 91
" I sent her the check I got from the store,
" Then I don't see nothin' to hender us
from takin' that 'ar little cruise we was
It was pitch-dark when our two adven-
turers stepped out of the caboose. After se-
curing the door with a stout padlock, Bill
silently led the way to the stairs where he
kept his wherry. Noiselessly the boat was
rowed out of the dock, toward a light that
glimmered in the rigging of an outward-
bound brig that lay out in the stream wait-
ing for the turning of the tide. Bill did not
speak again until they were clear of the dock.
" Yon brig's bound for York. I know the
old man first-rate, 'cause I helped load her.
He'll give us a berth if we take holt with the
crew. Here we are." As he climbed the
brig's side he set the wherry adrift with a
vigorous shove of his foot.
A day or two after the events just described,
Mr. Bright and the marshal met on the
92 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
street, the former looking sober and down-
cast, the latter smiling and elate. " What did
I tell you? " cried the marshal, evidently well
pleased with the tenor of the news he had to
relate; "your protege has gone off with an
old wharf rat that I've had my eye on for
" To tell you the whole truth, marshal,
my mind is not quite easy about that boy,"
the merchant replied.
" Opportunity makes the thief," the officer
" I'm afraid we've been too hasty."
" Perhaps so; but it's my opinion that when
Ramon is found, the other won't be far off.
I honor your feelings in this matter, sir, but
my experience tells me that every rascal as-
serts his innocence until his guilt is proved.
I've notified the police of San Francisco to be
on the lookout for that precious clerk of
yours. Good-day, sir."
When Mr. Bright returned to the store, on
entering the office he saw an elderly woman,
THE FLIGHT 93
in a faded black bonnet and shawl, sitting bolt-
upright on the edge of a chair facing the door,
with two bony hands tightly clenched in her
lap. There was fire in her eye,
" That is Mr. Bright, madam," one of the
clerks hastened to say.
"What can I do for you, madam?" the
The woman fixed two keen gray eyes upon
the speaker's face, as she spoke up, quite un-
abashed by the quiet dignity of the merchant's
manner of speaking.
" Well," she began breathlessly, " I'm
real glad to see you if you have kept me wait-
ing. Here I've sot, an' sot, a good half-hour.
'Pears to me you Boston folks don't get up
none too airly fer yer he'lth. I was down
here before your shop was open this mornin'.
Better late than never, though."
The merchant bent his head politely. His
visitor caught her breath and went on :
" I'm Miss Marthy Seabury. What's all
this coil about my nevvy? He's wrote me
94 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
that he was goin' away. Where's he gone?
What's he done? That's what I'd like to
know, right up an' down." She paused for
a reply, never taking her eyes off the mer-
chant's troubled face for an instant.
" My good woman," Mr. Bright began in
a mollifying tone, when she broke in upon
No palaverin', mister. No beatin' the
bush, if ye please. Come to the p'int. I left
my dirty dishes in the sink to home, an' must
go back in the afternoon keers."
Then don't let me detain you," resumed
Mr. Bright gravely. " There has been a
defalcation. I'm sorry to say your nephew
is suspected of knowing more than he was will-
ing to tell about it. So we had to let him go.
Where he is now, is more than I can say."
" What's a defalcation?"
' A betrayal of trust, madam."
Do you mean my boy took anything that
didn't belong to him?'
" Not quite that. No, indeed. At least, I
THE FLIGHT 95
hope not. But, you see, Walter is badly
mixed up with the precious rascal who did."
" Well, you'd better not. I'd like to see
the man who'd say my boy was a thief, that's
all. Why, I'd trust him long before the Presi-
dent of the United States ! ' The woman
actually glared at every one in the office, as if
in search of some one willing to take up her
" If you'll try to listen calmly, madam,"
interposed the merchant, " I'll try to tell you
what we know." He then went on to relate
the circumstances already known to us.
Aunt Martha gave an indignant sniff when
the merchant had finished. " You call your-
self smart, eh? Why, an old woman sees
through it with one eye. Walter was just
humbugged. So was you, warn't ye? An'
goin' on right under your own nose ever so
long, an' ye none the wiser for't. Well, I de-
clare to goodness, if I was you I sh'ld feel real
downright small potatoes 1 '
" I think, madam, perhaps we had better
96 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
bring this interview to a close. It is a very
painful subject, I do assure you."
" Very well, sir. I sh'ld think you'd want
to. But mark my words. You'll be sorry
for this some day, as I am now that Walter
ever laid eyes on you or your darter."
With this parting shot she bounced out of the
office, shutting the door with a vicious bang
But Mr. Bright's worries that day were not
to be so easily set at rest. Upon reaching his
home for a late dinner, looking pale and care-
worn, it was Dora who met him in the hall-
way, who put her arms round her father's
neck, and who kissed him lovingly on both
" Dear papa, I know all," she said with a
"Ah!' he ejaculated. "Then you have
Yes, papa ; our next-door neighbor, Mrs.
Pryor, has told me all about it. Hateful old
THE FLIGHT 97
The merchant made a gesture of resigna-
" She said you would have to discharge
most of your clerks."
Mr. Bright made a gesture of assent.
" Then I want to do something. I can
give music lessons. I'll work my fingers off to
help. I know I shall be a perfect treasure.
But why did you send Mr. Seabury away,
" Because he was unfaithful."
' I don't believe a word of it."
' Appearances are strongly against him."
* I don't care. I say it's a wicked shame.
Why, what has he done ? '
"What has he done? Why, he knew
Ramon gambled, and wouldn't tell. He
knew Ramon had gone, and never lisped a
" Yes, but that's what he didn't do."
* He was caught hanging around our house
the night that Ramon ran away. There,
child, don't bother me with any more ques-
98 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
tions. Guilty or not, both have gone beyond
Dora came near letting slip a little cry of
surprise. She knew that she was blushing
furiously, but fortunately the hall was dark.
A new light had flashed upon her. And she
thought she could guess why Walter had been
lurking round their house on that, to him,
most eventful night. Although she had never
exchanged a dozen words with him, he had
won her gratitude and admiration fairly, and
now she began to feel great pity and sorrow
for the friendless clerk.
Hearing Dora crying softly, her father put
his arm around her waist and said soothingly:
There, child, don't cry; we must try to bear
up under misfortune. But 'tis a thousand
" Well," anxiously.
Well, if I had known all that in season,
the worst might have been prevented."
" And now?"
" And now, child, your father is a ruined
THE FLIGHT 99
man." So saying, the merchant hung up his
hat and walked gloomily away.
Dora ran upstairs to her own room and
locked herself in, leaving the despondent mer-
chant to eat his dinner solitary and alone.
" BEATS Boston, don't it?" said Bill to
Walter, as the Susan J. was slowly working
her way up the East River past the miles of
wharves and warehouses with which the
shores are lined.
" Maybe it's bigger, but I don't believe
it's any better," was Walter's guarded
As soon as the anchor was down, the two
friends hailed a passing boatman, who quickly
put them on shore at the Battery, whence they
lost no time in making their way to the steam-
ship company's office Bill to see if he could
get a chance to ship for the run to the Isthmus,
Walter to get a berth in the steerage just as
soon as Bill's case should be decided. So
eager were they to have the matter settled that
OUTWARD BOUND 101
they would not stop even to look at the won-
ders of the town.
While waiting their turn among the crowd
in the office, Bill's roving eye happened to fall
on a big, square-shouldered, thick-set man who
sat comfortably warming his hands over a
coal fire in the fireplace, which he wholly mo-
nopolized, apparently absorbed in his own
thoughts. It was now the month of Decem-
ber, and the air was chilly. Bill hailed him
without ceremony. " Mawnin', mister. Fire
feels kind o' good this cold mawnin', don't
The person thus addressed did not even
turn his head.
Unabashed by this cool reception, Bill
added in a lower tone, " Lookin' out for a
chance to ship, heh, matey? '
At this question, so squarely put, a sup-
pressed titter ran round the room. The silent
man gave Bill a sidelong look, shrugged his
shoulders, and absently asked, " What makes
you think so? "
102 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
" D'ye think I don't know a sailorman
when I see one ? Mighty stuck up, some folks
is. Better get that Ingy-ink out o' yer hands
ef yer 'shamed on it."
The silent man rose up, buttoned his shaggy
buffalo-skin coat up to his chin, pulled his fur
cap down over his bushy eyebrows, and strode
out of the office without looking either to the
right or the left.
" I say, you ! ' a clerk called out to Bill.
" Do you know who you were talking to?
That's the old man."
" I don't keer ef it's the old boy. Ef that
chap ha'n't hauled on a tarred rope afore now,
I'm a nigger; that's all."
" That was Commodore Vanderbilt, the
owner of this line," the clerk retorted very
pompously, quite as if he expected Bill to
The general laugh now went against Bill.
" Whew ! was it, though? Then I s'pose my
cake's all dough," he grumbled to himself, but
was greatly relieved when the shipping clerk,
OUTWARD BOUND 103
after a few questions, told him to sign the
articles. Walter was duly engaged, in his
turn, as a cabin waiter. This being settled,
the two friends sallied forth in high spirits
to report on board the Prometheus^ bound
for San Juan del Norte.
Nowhere, probably, since the days of Noah
was there ever seen such utter and seemingly
helpless confusion as on one of those great
floating arks engaged in the California trade
by way of the Isthmus, in the early fifties, just
before sailing. Bullocks were dismally low-
ing, sheep plaintively bleating, hogs squealing.
Men were wildly running to and fro, shout-
ing, pushing, and elbowing each other about,
as if they had only a few minutes longer to live
and must therefore make the most of their
time. Women were quietly crying, or laugh-
ing hysterically, by turns, as the fit happened
to take them. Of human beings, upwards
of a thousand were thus occupied on board
the Prometheus; while on the already crowded
slip the shouting of belated hack drivers, who
io 4 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
stormed and swore, the loud cries of peddlers
and newsboys, who darted hither and thither
among the surging throng, served to keep up
an indescribable uproar. Add to this, that
the sky was dark and lowering, the black river
swimming with floating ice, crushing and
grinding against the slip, as it moved out to
sea with the ebb ; and possibly some idea may
be formed of what was taking place on that
bleak December afternoon.
But all things must come to an end. All
this confusion was hushed when the word was
passed to cast off, the paddle wheels began
slowly to turn, and the big ship, careening
heavily to port under its human freight, who
swarmed like bees upon her decks, forged
slowly out into the stream, carrying with her,
if the truth must be told, many a sorry and
homesick one already.
Walter, however, drew a long breath of
relief as the ship moved away from the
shores. It was the first moment in which he
had been able to shake off the fear of being
OUTWARD BOUND 105
followed. He therefore went about Us duties
cheerfully, if not very skillfully.
Oh, the unspeakable misery of that first
night at sea ! A stiff southeaster was blowing
when the steamer thrust her black nose outside
of Sandy Hook. And as the hours wore on,
and the gale rose higher and higher, with
every lurch the straining ship would moan and
tremble like a human being in distress. Now
and then a big sea would strike the ship fairly,
sending crockery and glassware flying about
the cabin with a crash, then as she settled down
into the trough, for one breathless moment it
would seem as if she would never come up
again. Twenty times that night the af-
frighted passengers gave themselves up for
lost. Most of them lay in their berths pros-
trated by fear or seasickness. A few even
put on life preservers. Perhaps a score
or more, too much terrified even to seek their
berths, crouched with pallid faces on the
cabin stairs, foolishly imagining that if the
ship did go down they would thus have the
106 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
better chance of saving themselves. Some
half-crazed women had even put on their bon-
nets, in order, as they sobbed out, to die
It was hardly light, if a blurred gray streak
in the east could be called light, when Walter
crept up the slippery companionway. His
head felt like a balloon, his eyes like two
lumps of lead, his legs like mismatched legs.
The ship was working her engines just enough
to keep her head to the sea. The deck was
all awash, and littered with the rubbish of a
row of temporary, or " standee," bunks
abandoned by their occupants, and broken
up by the force of the gale. The paddle-
boxes were stove, and tons of water were
pouring in upon the decks with every revolu-
tion of the wheels. By watching his chance,
when the ship steadied herself for another
plunge, Walter managed to work his way
out to the forepart of the vessel. Here
he found Bill, with half a dozen more, all
wringing-wet, hastily swallowing, between
OUTWARD BOUND 107
lurches of the ship, a cupful of hot coffee,
which the cook was passing out to them from
the galley. If ever men looked completely
worn out, then those men did.
Bill no sooner caught sight of Walter, than
he offered him his dipper. Walter put it
away from him with a grimace of disgust.
" Dirty night," said Bill, cooling his coffee
between swallows; " blowed fresh; nary
watch below sence we left the dock; no life
in her; steered like a wild bull broke loose in
Broadway. She's some easier now. Better
have some [again holding out his cup] ; 't will
do you good. No? Well, here goes," tilting
his head back and draining the cup to the last
Just then the first officer came bustling
along in oilskins and sou'wester. * Here,
you! " he called out, " lay for'ard there, and
get the jib on her ; come, bear a hand ! ' Wal-
ter went forward with the men. Hoisting
the sail was no easy matter, with the ship
plunging bows under every minute, but no
io8 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
sooner did the gale fill it fairly, than away
it went with a report like a cannon, blown
clean out of the bolt-rope, as if it had been a
boy's kite held by a string. While the men
were watching it disappear in the mist, crash
came a ton or more of salt water pouring over
the bow, throwing them violently against the
deck-house. Shaking himself like a spaniel,
the mate darted off to give the steersman a
dressing-down for letting the ship " broach
Two sailors had been lost overboard dur-
ing the night. On a hint dropped by Bill,
Walter was taken from the cabin, where there
was little to do, and put to work with the car-
penter's gang, repairing damages. The
change being much to his liking, Walter ap-
plied himself to his new duties with a zeal
that soon won for him the good will of his
mates. And when it came to doing a job on
the rigging, though out of practice, Walter
was always the one called upon to do it. The
captain, a quiet, gentlemanly man, who looked
OUTWARD BOUND 109
more like a schoolmaster than a shipmaster,
told the purser to put Walter in the ship's
Thoroughly tired out with his day's work,
Walter was going below when the mate called
out to him: " I say, youngster, you're not go-
ing down into that dog-hole again. There's
a spare bunk in my stateroom. Get your
traps and sail in. You can h'ist in as much
sleep as you've storage room for."
By noon of the second day out, the
Prometheus had run into the Gulf Stream.
The gale had sensibly abated, though it still
blew hard. When the captain came on deck,
after taking a long look at the clouds, he said
to the mate, " Mr. Gray, I think you may give
her the jib and mainsail, to steady her a bit."
At break of day on the morning of the
fourth day out, as Walter was leaning over
the weather rail, his eye caught sight of a
dark spot rising out of the water nearly abeam.
The mate was taking a long look at it through
his glass. In reply to Walter's inquiring
no THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
look, the mate told him it was a low-lying
reef called Mariguana, one of the easternmost
of the Bahamas. It \vas not long before
most of the passengers were crowding up to
get sight of that little speck of dry land, the
first they had laid eyes on since the voyage
began. ' Now, my lad, you can judge some-
thing of how Columbus felt when he made
his first landfall hereabouts so long ago ! '
exclaimed the mate. " Good for sore eyes,
ain't it? We never try to pass it except in
the daytime," he added; " if we did, ten to
one we'd fetch up all standing."
" San Domingo to-morrow ! ' cried the
mate, rubbing his hands as he came out of
the chart room on the fifth day. As the word
passed through the ship it produced a magical
effect among the passengers, whose chief de-
sire was once more to set foot on dry land,
and next to see it.
Sure enough, when the sun rose out of the
ocean next morning there was the lovely
tropic island looming up, darkly blue, before
OUTWARD BOUND m
them. There, too, were the hazy mountain
peaks of Cuba rising in the west. All day
long the ship was sailing between these
islands, on a sea as smooth as a millpond.
Every day she was getting in better trim, and
going faster; and the spirits of all on board
rose accordingly at the prospect of an early
ending of the voyage.
" This beats all! " was Walter's delighted
comment to Bill, who was swabbing down the
decks in his bare feet.
" 'Tis kind o' pooty," Bill assented, wip-
ing his sweaty face with his bare arm.
" That un," nodding toward Cuba, " Uncle
Sam ought to hev, by good rights; but this
'ere," turning on San Domingo a look of con-
tempt, " 'z nothin' but niggers, airthquakes,
an' harricanes. Let 'em keep it, says Bill; '
then continuing, after a short pause, ' Porter
Prince is up in the bight of yon deep bay. I
seen the old king-pin himself onct. Coal-
tar ain't a patchin' to him; no, nor Day &
Martin nuther. Hot? If you was ashore
ii2 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
there, you'd think it was hot Why, they
cook eggs without fire right out in the sun."
A two-days' run across the Caribbean Sea
brought the Prometheus on soundings, and a
few hours more to her destined port. Every
one was now making hurried preparations to
leave the ship, bag and baggage; every eye
beamed with delight at the prospect of escap-
ing from the confinement of what had seemed
more like a prison than anything else. While
the Prometheus was heading toward her
anchorage there was time allowed for a brief
survey of the town and harbor of San Juan del
Norte, or, as it was then commonly called,
These were really nothing more than an
open roadstead, bounded by a low, curving,
and sandy shore, along which half a hundred
poor cabins lay half hid among tall cocoanut
palms. From the one two-story building in
sight the British flag was flying. The har-
bor, however, presented a very animated and
warlike appearance, in consequence of the
OUTWARD BOUND 113
warm dispute then in progress between Eng-
land and the United States as to who should
control the transit from ocean to ocean.
Two American and two British warships lay
within easy gunshot of each other, flying the
flags of their respective nations, and no sooner
were the colors of the starry banner caught
sight of than a tremendous cheer burst from
the thousand throats on board the Prome-
theus. Her anchor had hardly touched bot-
tom when a boat from the Saranac came
alongside, the officer in charge eagerly hailing
the deck for the latest news from the States.
As for the jackies, to judge from their looks
they seemed literally spoiling for a fight.
Walter had no very clear idea upon the
subject of this international dispute, still less of
the importance it might assume in the future,
but the evident anxiety shown on the faces
around him led him to suppose that the mat-
ter was serious. He stood holding onto the
lee rigging, watching the American tars in
the boat alongside, and thinking what fine,
ii4 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
manly fellows they looked, when two passen-
gers near him began an animated discussion
which set 'him to thinking.
' Sare," said one, with a strong French ac-
cent, ' it was, ma foi, I shall recollect ah
out it was my countryman, one Samuel
Champlain, who first gave ze idea of cutting
what you call him? one sheep canal
across ze Eesmus. I shall not be wrong to-
* Excuse me, monsieur," the other re-
turned, ' I think Cortez did that very thing
long before him."
' Nevair mind, mon ami. I gage you 'ave
ze histoire correct. Eet only prove zat great
minds 'ave always sometime ze same ideas.
Mais, your Oncle Sam, wiz hees sillee Monroe
Doctreen, he eez like ze dog wiz his paw on
ze bone: he not eat himself; he not let any
oder dog: he just growl, growl, growl."
' But, monsieur, wouldn't Uncle Sam, as
you call him, be a big fool to let any foreign
nation get control of his road to California ? "
OUTWARD BOUND 115
The Frenchman only replied by a shrug.
Even before the Prometheus dropped an-
chor she was surrounded by a swarm of native
boatmen, of all shades of color from sour
cream to jet-black, some holding up bunches of
bananas, some screaming out praises of their
boats to such as were disposed to go ashore,
others begging the passengers to throw a dime
into the water, for which they instantly
plunged, head first, regardless of the sharks
which could be seen lazily swimming about
the harbor, attracted by the offal thrown over
from the ships.
" I don't know how 'tis," said Bill in Wal-
ter's ear, " but them sharks '11 never tech a
nigger. But come, time to wake up! An-
chor's down. All's snug aboard. Now keep
your weather eye peeled for a long pull across
" Good luck to ye," said the jolly mate,
shaking Walter heartily by the hand as he
was about leaving the ship. " I'm right glad
to see you've been trying to improve your
n6 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
mind a bit, instead of moonin' about like a
catfish in a mudhole, as most of 'em do on
board here. Use your eyes. Keep your ears
open and don't be afraid to ask questions.
That's the way to travel, my hearty ! ' And
with a parting wave of the hand he strode
IN the course of an hour or so three light-
draught stern-wheel steamboats ("wheel-
barrows," Bill derisively called them) came
puffing up alongside. Into them the passen-
gers were now unceremoniously bundled, like
so many sheep, and in such numbers as hardly
to allow room to move about, yet all in high
glee at escaping from the confinement of the
ship, at which many angrily shook their fists
as the fasts were cast off. In another quarter
of an hour the boats were steaming slowly up
the San Juan River, thus commencing the
second stage of the long journey.
For the first hour or two the travelers
were fully occupied in looking about them
with charmed eyes, as with mile after mile,
and turn after turn, the wonders of a tropical
n8 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
forest, all hung about with rare and beautiful
flowers, and all as still as death, passed before
them. But Bill, to whom the sight was not
new or strange, declared that for his part he
would rather have a sniff of good old Boston's
east wind than all the cloying perfumes of
that wilderness of woods and blossoms. It
was not long, however, before attention was
drawn to the living inhabitants of this fairy-
First a strange object, something between
a huge lizard and a bloated bullfrog, was
spied clinging to a bush on the bank. No
sooner seen than crack ! crack ! went a dozen
pistol shots, and down dropped the dirty
green-and-yellow creature with a loud splash
into the river.
" There's a tidbit gone," observed Bill, in
" What! eat that thing? " demanded Wal-
ter with a disgusted look.
' Sartin. They eat um; eat anything.
And what you can't eat, '11 eat you. If you
ACROSS NICARAGUA 119
don't b'leeve it, look at that 'ar reptyle on the
bank yonder," said Bill, pointing out the
object in question with the stem of his
Walter followed the direction of Bill's
Looking quite as much like a stranded log
as anything else, a full-grown alligator lay
stretched out along the muddy margin of the
river at the water's edge. No sooner was he
seen, than the ungainly monster became the
target for a perfect storm of bullets, all of
which glanced as harmlessly off his scaly back
as hailstones from a slate roof. Disturbed
by the noise and the shouts, the hideous ani-
mal slid slowly into the water and dis-
appeared from sight, churning up the muddy
bottom as he went.
Bill put on a quizzical look as he asked
Walter if he knew why some barbarians
worshiped the alligator. Walter was
obliged to admit that he did not. " 'Cause
the alligator can swaller the man, but the
120 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
man can't swaller the alligator," chuckled
Now and then a native bongo would be
overhauled, bound for San Carlos, Grenada,
or Leon, with a cargo of European goods.
They were uncouth-looking boats, rigged
with mast and sail, and sometimes thirty to
forty feet long. Many a hearty laugh
greeted the grotesque motions of the jet-black
rowers, who half rose from their seats every
time they dipped their oars, and then sank
back with a grunt to give their strokes more
power. The patron, or master, prefaced all
his orders with a persuasive ' Now, gentle-
men, a little faster, if you please! '
" And so that's the way, is it, that all in-
land transportation has been carried on here
for so many hundred years? ' thought Wal-
ter. "Well, I never!"
Incidents such as these served, now and
then, to cause a ripple of excitement, or until
even alligators became quite too numerous
to waste powder upon. As darkness was
ACROSS NICARAGUA 121
coming on fast, there being no twilight to
speak of in this part of the world, a ship's
yawl was seen tied up under the bank for the
night. Its occupants were nowhere in sight,
but the dim light of a fire among the bushes
showed that they were not far off. " Run-
away sailors," Bill explained; " stole the boat,
an' 'fraid to show themselves. Poor devils!
they've a long pull afore 'em ef they get
away, an' a rope's-end behind 'em if they're
" Why, how far is it across? '
" It's more'n a hundred miles to the lake,
and another hundred or so beyond."
" Whew ! you don't say. Well, I pity
When darkness had shut down, the steam-
ers also were tied up to trees on the bank,
scope enough being given to the line to let the
boats swing clear of the shores, on account
of the mosquitoes, with which the woods were
fairly alive. In this solitude the travelers
passed their first night, without other shelter
122 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
than the heavens above, and long before it
was over there was good reason to repent of
the abuse heaped upon the Prometheus, since
very few got a wink of sleep; while all were
more or less soaked by the rain that fell in
torrents, as it can rain only in the tropics,
during the night. As cold, wet, and gloomy
as it dawned, the return of day was hailed
with delight by the shivering and disconsolate
travelers. In truth, much of the gilding had
already been washed off, or worn off, of their
El Dorado. And, as Bill bluntly put it, they
all looked " like a passel of drownded
Bill made this remark while he and Walter
were washing their hands and faces in the
roily river water, an easy matter, as they had
only to stoop over the side to do so, the boat's
deck being hardly a foot out of water. Sud-
denly Walter caught Bill's arm and gave it a
warning squeeze. Bill followed the direc-
tion in which Walter was looking, and gave
a low whistle. A beautifully mottled black-
A CROSS NICARAGUA 123
and-white snake had coiled itself around the
line by which the boat was tied to the shore,
and was quietly working its way, in corkscrew
fashion, toward the now motionless craft.
Seizing a boat-hook, Bill aimed a savage blow
at the reptile, but the rope only being
struck, the snake dropped unharmed into the
" Do they raise anything here besides alli-
gators, snakes, lizards, and monkeys? ' Wal-
ter asked the captain, who was looking on,
while sipping his morning cup of black coffee.
Glancing up, the captain good-humoredly
replied, "Oh, yes; they raise plantains, ba-
nanas, oranges, limes, lemons, chocolate-nuts,
" Pardon me," Walter interrupted; " those
things are luxuries. I meant things of real
' A very proper distinction," the captain
replied, looking a little surprised. " Well,
then, before you get across you will probably
see hundreds of mahogany trees, logwood
i2 4 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
trees, fustic and Brazil-wood trees, to say
nothing of other dye-woods, more or less
valuable, growing all about you."
" Oh, yes, sir, I've seen all those woods you
tell of coming out of vessels at home, but
never growing. Somehow I never thought
of them before as trees."
" Then there is cochineal, indigo, sugar,
Indian corn, coffee, tobacco, cotton, hides,
vanilla, some India rubber "
Walter looked sheepish. " I see now how
silly my question was. Please excuse my ig-
That's all right," said the captain pleas-
antly. ' Don't ever be afraid to ask about
what you want to know. I suppose I've carried
twenty thousand passengers across, and you
are positively the first one to ask about any-
thing except eating, sleeping, or when we are
going to get there."
The two succeeding days were like the first,
except that the river grew more and more
shallow in proportion as it was ascended, and
ACROSS NICARAGUA 125
the country more and more hilly and broken.
This furnished a new experience, as every now
and then the boats would ground on some
sand-bar, when all hands would have to tum-
ble out into the water to lighten them over
the rift, or wade ashore to be picked up again
at some point higher up, after a fatiguing
scramble through the dense jungle. " Whew !
This is what I calls working your passage,"
was Bill's quiet comment, as he and Walter
stood together on the bank, breathing hard,
after making one of these forced excursions
for half a mile.
" Is here where they talk of building a
canal?' Walter asked in amazement, casting
an oblique glance into the pestilential swamps
around him. " Surely, they can't be in ear-
" They'll need more grave-diggers than
mud-diggers, if they try it on," was Bill's em-
phatic reply. " White men can't stand the
climate nohow. And as for niggers well,
all you can git out o' 'em's clear gain, like
i26 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
lickin' a mule," he added, biting off a chew
of tobacco as he spoke.
On the afternoon of the third day the pas-
sengers were landed at the foot of the Castillio
Rapids, so named from an old Spanish fort
commanding the passage of the river at this
point, though many years gone to ruin and
decay. Walter and Bill climbed the steep
path leading up to it. The castle was of great
age, they were told, going back to the time of
the mighty Philip II of Spain perhaps, who
spent such vast sums in fortifying his Ameri-
can colonies against the dreaded buccaneers.
Walter could not help feeling awe-struck at
the thought that what he saw was already old
when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.
Some one asked if this was not the place
where England's naval hero, Lord Nelson,
first distinguished himself, when the castle
was taken in 1780.
Leaving these crumbling ruins to the
snakes, lizards, and other reptiles which
glided away at their approach, the two went
ACROSS NICARAGUA 127
back to the clump of rough shanties by the
river, and it was here that Walter made his
first acquaintance with that class of adven-
turers who, if not buccaneers in name, had
replaced them, to all intents, not only here
but on all routes leading to the land of gold.
There was a short portage around the
rapids. A much larger and more comfort-
able boat had just landed some hundreds of
returning Californians at the upper end of
this portage, and a rough-and-ready looking
lot they were, betraying by their talk and
actions that they had long been strangers to
the restraints of civilized life. Of course
every word they dropped was greedily de-
voured by the newcomers, by whom the Cali-
fornians were looked upon as superior beings.
The two sets of passengers were soon ex-
changing newspapers or scraps of news, while
their baggage was being transferred around
the portage. Giving Walter a knowing
wink, Bill accosted one of the Californians
with the question, " I say, mister, is it a fact,
128 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
now, that you can pick up gold in the streets
in San Francisco ? '
" Stranger," this individual replied, ' you
may bet your bottom dollar you can. It's
done every day in the week. You see a lump
in the street, pick it up, and put it in your
pocket until you come across a bigger one,
then you heave the first one away, same's you
do pickin' up pebbles on the beach, sabe? }
Giving a nod to the half-dozen listeners, who
were eagerly devouring every word, the fel-
low turned on his heel and walked off to join
The run across Lake Nicaragua was made
in the night. When the passengers awoke
the next morning the steamer was riding at
anchor at a cable's length from the shore, on
which a lively surf was breaking. Behind
this was a motley collection of thatched hovels
known as Virgin Bay. The passengers were
put ashore in lighters, into which as many
were huddled as there was standing-room for,
were then hauled to the beach by means of a
ACROSS NICARAGUA 129
hawser run between boat and shore, and,
with their hearts in their mouths while pitch-
ing and tossing among the breakers, at last
scrambled upon the sands as best they might,
thanking their lucky stars for their escape
Walter and Bill found themselves stand-
ing among groups of chattering half-breeds,
half-nude children, dried-up old crones, and
hairless, dejected-looking mules, whose shrill
hee-haws struck into the general uproar with
horribly discordant note. It was here bar-
gains were made for the transportation of
one's self or baggage across the intervening
range of mountains to the Pacific. Secure in
their monopoly of all the animals to be had
for hire, the avaricious owners did not hesi-
tate to demand as much for carrying a trunk
sixteen miles as its whole contents were worth
more indeed than a mule would sell for.
* The picture is by no means overdrawn, as on a subsequent occa-
sion, by the capsizing of a lighter in the surf, many passengers were
130 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
Walter was gazing on the novel scene with
wide-open eyes. Already their little store of
cash was running low.
You talk to them, Bill; you say you
know their lingo," Walter suggested, impa-
tient at seeing so many of the party mounting
their balky steeds and riding away.
Bill walked up to a sleepy-looking mule
driver who stood nearby idly smoking his
cigarette, and laying his hand upon the ani-
mal's flank, cleared his throat, and demanded
carelessly, in broken Spanish, " Qui cary,
hombre, por este mula?"
The animal slowly turned his head to-
ward the speaker, and viciously let go both
hind feet, narrowly missing Bill's shins.
Wow ! he's an infamous rhinoceros, este
mula ! " cried Bill, drawing back to a safe dis-
tance from the animal's heels.
* Si, senor," replied the unmoved muleteer.
Viente pesos, no mas," he added in response
to Bill's first question.
" Twenty devils ! ' exclaimed Bill in
ACROSS NICARAGUA 131
amazement, dropping into forcible English;
" we don't want to buy him." Then resort-
ing to gestures, to assist his limited vocabu-
lary, he pointed to his own and Walter's
bags, again demanding, u Quantos por este
carga, vamos the ranch, over yonder? '
" Cinco pesos," articulated the impassive
owner, between puffs.
" Robber," muttered Bill under his breath.
Rather than submit to be so outrageously
fleeced, Bill hit upon the following method of
traveling quite independently. He had seen
it done in China, he explained, and why not
here? Getting a stout bamboo, the two
friends slung their traps to the middle, lifted
it to their shoulders, and in this economical
fashion trudged off for the mountains, quite
elated at having so cleverly outwitted the
Greasers, as Bill contemptuously termed
them. In fact, the old fellow was immensely
tickled over the ready transformation of two
live men into a quadruped. Walter should
be fore legs and he hind legs. When tired,
1 3 2 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
they could take turn and turn about. If the
load galled one shoulder, it could be shifted
over to the other, without halting. ' Hoo-
ray ! " he shouted, when they were clear of the
village; " to-morrow we'll see the place where
old Bill Boar watered his hoss in the Pacific."
" Balboa, Bill," Walter corrected. " No
horse will drink salt water, silly. You know
better. Besides, it wasn't a horse at all.
'Twas a mule."
Night overtook the travelers before reach-
ing the foothills, but after munching a biscuit
and swallowing a few mouthfuls of water
they stretched themselves out upon the bare
ground, and were soon traveling in the land of
The pair were bright and early on the road
again, which was only a mule-track, deeply
worn and gullied by the passing to and fro of
many a caravan. It soon plunged into the
thick woods, dropped down into slippery
gorges, or scrambled up steep hillsides, where
the pair would have to make a short halt to
ACROSS NICARAGUA 133
mop their brows and get their breath. Then
they would listen to the screaming of count-
less parroquets, and watch the gambols of
troops of chattering monkeys, among the
branches overhead. Bill spoke up: "I don't,
believe men ever had no tails like them 'ar
monkeys; some say they did: but I seen many
a time I'd like to had one myself when layin'
out on a topsail yard, in a dark night, with
nothin' much to stan' on. A tail to kinder
quirl around suthin', so's to let you use your
hands and feet, is kind o' handy. Just look
at that chap swingin' to that 'ar branch up
there by his tail, like a trapeze performer, an'
no rush o' blood to the brain nuther." Wal-
ter could hardly drag Bill away from the
contemplation of this interesting problem.
For six mortal hours the travelers were
shut up in the gloomy tropical forest; but
just at the close of day it seemed as if they
had suddenly stepped out of darkness into
light, for far and wide before them lay the
mighty Pacific Ocean, crimsoned by the set-
134 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
ting sun. Once seen, it was a sight never to
Walter and Bill soon pushed on down the
mountain into the village of San Juan del
Sur, of which the less said the better. Thor-
oughly tired out by their day's tramp, the way-
farers succeeded in obtaining a night's lodg-
ing in an old tent, at the rate of four bits each.
It consisted in the privilege of throwing them-
selves down upon the loose sand, already oc-
cupied by millions of fleas, chigoes, and other
blood-letting bedfellows. Glad enough were
they at the return of day. Bill's eyes were
almost closed, and poor Walter's face looked
as if he had just broken out with smallpox.
San Juan del Sur was crowded with people
anxiously awaiting the arrival of the steam-
ship that was to take them on up the coast.
The only craft in the little haven was a rusty-
looking brigantine, which had put in here for
a supply of fresh water. Her passengers de-
clared that she worked like a basket in a gale
of wind. Learning that the captain was on
ACROSS NICARAGUA 135
shore, our two friends lost no time in hunt-
ing him up, when the following colloquy took
" Mawnin', cap," said Bill. " How much
do you ax fur a cabin passage to 'Frisco?'
" A hundred dollars, cash in advance.
But I can't take you; all full in the cabin."
"Well, s'pos'n I go in the hold; how
" Eighty dollars; but I can't take you.
Hold's full, too."
" Jerusalem ! Why can't I go in the fore-
peak? What's the price thar? '
"Eighty dollars; but I can't take you.
Full fore and aft."
" 'Z that so? Well, say, cap, can't I go
aloft somewhere? What '11 you charge
" We charge eighty dollars to go any-
where; but can't carry you aloft. Got to
carry our provisions there."
Bill mused a minute. " Hard case, ain't
it?" appealing first to Walter, then to the
136 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
captain. " But as I want to go mighty bad,
what '11 you tax to tow me? '
The captain turned away, with a horse-
laugh and a shake of the head, to attend to
his own affairs, leaving our two friends in
no happy frame of mind at the prospect be-
fore them. With the utmost economy their
little stock of money would last but little
longer. The heat was oppressive and the
place alive with vermin. Hours were spent
on the harbor headland watching for the
friendly smoke of the overdue steamer.
Several days now went by before the de-
layed steamer put in an appearance. It was
none too soon, for with so many mouths to
feed, the place began to be threatened with
famine. It was by the merest chance that Wal-
ter secured a passage for himself in the steer-
age, and for Bill as a coal-passer, on this ship.
Luckily for them, the captain's name happened
to be the same as Walter's. He also hailed
from New Bedford. He even admitted,
though cautiously, that there might be some
ACROSS NICARAGUA 137
distant relationship. So Walter won the day,
with the understanding that he was to spread
his blanket on deck, for other accommoda-
tions there were none; while before the ship
was two days at sea, men actually fought for
what were considered choice spots to lie down
upon at night.
The event of the voyage up the coast was
a stay of several days at Acapulco, for making
repairs in the engine room and for coaling
ship. What a glorious harbor it is! land-
locked and so sheltered by high mountains,
that once within it is difficult to discover
where a ship has found her way in, or how
she is going to get out. Here, in bygone
times, the great Manila galleons came with
their rich cargoes, which were then trans-
ported across Mexico by pack-trains to be
again reshipped to Old Spain. The arrival
of a Yankee ship was now the only event that
stirred the sleepy old place into life. At the
sound of her cannon it rubbed its eyes, so to
speak, and woke up. Bill even asserted that
138 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
the people looked too " tarnation ' lazy to
draw their own breath.
Ample time was allowed here for a wel-
come run on shore ; and the arrival of another
steamer, homeward bound, made Acapulco
for the time populous. Bill could not get
shore leave, so Walter went alone. There
were a custom-house without custom, a plaza,
in which the inhabitants had hurriedly set up
a tempting display of fruits, shells, lemonade,
and home-made nicknacks to catch the passen-
gers' loose change, besides a moldy-looking
cathedral, whose cracked bells now and again
set a whole colony of watchful buzzards laz-
ily flapping about the house-tops. And under
the very shadow of the cathedral walls a
group of native Mexicanos were busily en-
gaged in their favorite amusement of gam-
bling with cards or in cock-fighting.
After sauntering about the town to his
heart's content, Walter joined a knot of pas-
sengers who were making their way toward
the dilapidated fort that commands the basin.
ACROSS NICARAGUA 139
On their way they passed a squad of bare-
footed soldiers, guarding three or four vil-
lainous-looking prisoners, who were at work
on the road, and who shot evil glances at the
light-hearted Americanos. Walter thought
if this was a fair sample of the Mexican army,
there was no use in crowing over the victories
won by Scott and Taylor not many years be-
At the end of a hot and dusty walk in the
glare of a noonday sun, the visitors seated
themselves on the crumbling ramparts of the
old fort, and fell to swapping news, as the
saying is. One of the Californians was be-
ing teased by his companions to tell the story
of a man lost overboard on the trip down
the coast; and while the others stretched
themselves out in various attitudes to listen,
he, after lighting a cheroot, began the story:
" You know I can't tell a story worth a
cent, but I reckon I can give you the facts if
you want 'em. There was a queer sort of
chap aboard of us who was workin' his pas-
i 4 o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
sage home to the States. We know'd him
by the name of Yankee Jim, 'cause he an-
swered to the name of Jim, and said as how he
come from 'way down East where they pry
the sun up every morning with a crowbar.
He did his turn, but never spoke unless spoken
to. We all reckoned he was just a little mite
cracked in the upper story. Hows'ever, his
story came out at last."
THE LUCK OF YANKEE JIM
ONE scorching afternoon in July, 185 ,
the Hangtown stage rumbled slowly over the
plank road forming the principal street of
Sacramento City, finally coming to a full stop
in front of the El Dorado Hotel. This par-
ticular stage usually made connection with the
day boat for " The Bay "; but on this occa-
sion it came in an hour too late, consequently
the boat was at that moment miles away, down
the river. Upon learning this disagreeable
piece of news, the belated passengers scat-
tered, grumbling much at a detention which,
each took good care to explain, could never
have been worse-timed or more inconvenient
than on this particular afternoon.
One traveler, however, stood a moment or
two longer, apparently nonplused by the situ-
i 4 2 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
ation, until his eye caught the word " Bank '
in big golden letters staring at him from the
opposite side of the street. He crossed over,
read it again from the curbstone, and then
shambled in at the open door. He knew not
why, but once within, he felt a strange desire
to get out again as quickly as possible. But
this secret admonition passed unheeded.
Before him was a counter extending across
the room, at the back of which rose a solid
wall of brick. Within this was built the
bank vault, the half-open iron door disclosing
bags of coin piled upon the floor and shelves
from which the dull glitter of gold-dust
caught the visitor's eye directly. The middle
of the counter was occupied by a pair of tall
scales, of beautiful workmanship, in which
dust was weighed, while on a table behind it
were trays containing gold and silver coins.
A young man, who was writing and smoking
at the same time, looked up as the stranger
walked in. To look at the two men, one
would have said that it was the bank clerk
THE LUCK OF YANKEE JIM 143
who might be expected to feel a presentiment
of evil. Really, the other was half bandit in
Although he was alone and unnoticed, yet
the stranger's manner was undeniably nervous
and suspicious. Addressing the cashier, he
said: " I say, mister, this yer boat's left; can't
get to 'Frisco afore to-morrow' (inquir-
" That's so," the cashier assented.
" Well," continued the miner, " here's my
fix: bound home for the States [dropping his
voice] ; got two thousand stowed away; don't
know a live hombre in this yer burg, and
might get knifed in some fandango. See? '
" That's so," repeated the unmoved official.
Then, seeing that his customer had come to
an end, he said, " I reckon you want to deposit
your money with us? '
" That's the how of it, stranger. Lock it
up tight whar I kin come fer it to-morrow."
" Down with the dust then," observed the
cashier, taking the pen from behind his ear
i 4 4 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
and preparing to write; but seeing his cus-
tomer cast a wary glance to right and left, he
beckoned him to a more retired part of the
bank, where the miner very coolly proceeded
to strip to his shirt, in each corner of which
five fifty-dollar ' slugs ' were knotted. An
equal sum in dust was then produced from a
buckskin belt, all of which was received with-
out a word of comment upon the ingenuity
with which it had been concealed. A cer-
tificate of deposit was then made out, speci-
fying that James Wildes had that day de-
posited with the Mutual Confidence and Trust
Company, subject to his order, two thousand
dollars. Glancing at the scrap of crisp paper
as if hardly comprehending how that could
be an equivalent for his precious coin and
dust, lying on the counter before him, Jim
heaved a deep sigh of relief, then crumpling
the certificate tightly within his big brown fist,
he exclaimed : " Thar, I kin eat and sleep now,
I reckon. Blamed if I ever knew afore what
a coward a rich man is! "
THE LUCK OF YANKEE JIM 145
Our man, it seems, had been a sailor before
the mast. When the anchor touched bottom,
he with his shipmates started for the " dig-
gings," where he had toiled with varying
luck, but finding himself at last in possession
of what would be considered a little fortune
in his native town. He was now returning,
filled with the hope of a happy meeting with
the wife and children he had left behind.
But while Yankee Jim slept soundly, and
blissfully dreamed of pouring golden eagles
into Jane's lap, his destiny was being fulfilled.
The great financial storm of 185 burst upon
the State unheralded and unforeseen. Like a
thief in the night the one fatal word flashed
over the wires that shut the door of every
bank, and made the boldest turn pale. Sus-
pension was followed by universal panic and
dismay. Yankee Jim was only an atom swal-
lowed up in the general and overwhelming
disaster of that dark day.
In the morning he went early to the bank,
only to find it shut fast, and an excited and
i 4 6 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
threatening crowd surging to and fro before
the doors. Men with haggard faces were
talking and gesticulating wildly. Women
were crying and wringing their hands. A
sudden faintness came over him. What did it
all mean? Mustering courage to put the
question to a bystander, he was told to look
and read for himself. Two ominous words,
' Bank Closed," told the whole story.
For a moment or two the poor fellow could
not seem to take in the full meaning of the
calamity that had befallen him. But as it
dawned upon him that his little fortune was
swept away, and with it the hopes that had
opened to his delighted fancy, the blood
rushed to his head, his brain reeled, and he
fell backward in a fit.
The first word he spoke when he came to
himself was ' Home." Some kind souls
paid his passage to 'Frisco, where the sight
of blue water seemed to revive him a little.
Wholly possessed by the one idea of getting
home, he shipped on board the first steamer,
THE LUCK OF YANKEE JIM 147
which happened to be ours, going about his
duty like a man who sees without understand-
ing what is passing around him.
My own knowledge of the chief actor in
this history began at four o'clock in the morn-
ing of the third day out. The California's
engines suddenly stopped. There was a hur-
ried trampling of feet, a sudden rattling of
blocks on deck, succeeded by a dead silence
a silence that could be felt. I jumped out of
my berth and ran on deck. How well I can
recall that scene!
The night was an utterly dismal one cold,
damp, and foggy. A pale light struggled
through the heavy mist, but it was too thick
to see a cable's length from the ship, although
we distinctly heard the rattle of oars at some
distance, with now and then a quick shout
that sent our hearts up into our mouths.
We listened intently. No one spoke. No
one needed to be told what those shouts
How long it was I cannot tell, for minutes
148 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
seemed hours then; but at last we heard the
dip of oars, and presently the boat shot out of
the fog within a biscuit's toss of the ship. I
remember that, as they came alongside, the
upturned faces of the men were white and
pinched. One glance showed that the search
had been in vain.
The boat was swung up, the huge paddles
struck the black water like clods, the huge
hulk swung slowly round to her helm. But
at the instant when we were turning away,
awed by the mystery of this death-scene, a
cry came out of the black darkness a yell of
agony and despair that nailed us to the deck.
May I never hear the like again! "Save
me ! for God's sake, save me ! ' pierced
through that awful silence till a hundred voices
seemed repeating it. The cry seemed so near
that every eye instinctively turned to the spot
whence it proceeded so near that it held all
who heard it in breathless, in sickening sus-
pense. Had the sea really given up its
THE LUCK OF YANKEE JIM 149
Before one could count ten, the boat was
again manned and clear of the ship. How
well I recall the bent figure of the first officer
as he stood in the stern-sheets, with the tiller-
ropes in his hand, peering off into the fog!
I can still see the men springing like tigers to
their work again, and the cutter tossing on the
seething brine astern like a chip. Then the
fog shut them from our view. But never-
more was that voice heard on land or sea.
No doubt it was the last agonized shriek of
returning consciousness as the ocean closed
over Yankee Jim's head.
At eight bells we assembled around the
capstan at our captain's call, when the few
poor effects of the lost man were laid out to
view. His kit contained one or two soiled
letters, a daguerreotype of two blooming
children hand in hand, a piece of crumpled
paper, and a few articles of clothing not
worth a picayune. I took notice that while
smoothing out the creases in this scrap of
paper, the captain suddenly became deeply at-
i5o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
tentive, then thoughtful, then very red.
Clearing his throat he began as follows:
" It's an old sea custom to sell by auction
the kit of a shipmate who dies on blue water.
You all know it's a custom of the land to read
the will of a deceased person as soon as the
funeral is over. The man we lost this morn-
ing shipped by his fo'castle or sea name a
very common thing among sailors; but I've
just found out his true one since I stood here;
and what's more I've found out that the man
had been in trouble. An idea strikes me that
he found it too heavy for him. God only
knows. But it's more to the point that he has
left a wife and two children dependent upon
him for support. Gentlemen and mates,
take off your hats while I read you this
The letter, which bore evidence of having
been read and read again, ran as follows:
' Oh, James ! and are you really coming
home, and with such a lot of money too?
THE LUCK OF YANKEE JIM 151
Oh, I can't believe it all ! How happy we
shall be once more ! It makes me feel just
like a young girl again, when you and I used
to roam in the berry pastures, and never
coveted anything in the wide world but to be
together. You haven't forgot that, have you,
James? or the old cedar on the cliff where
you asked me for your own wife, and the sky
over us and the sea at our feet, all so beauti-
ful and we so happy? Do come quick.
Surely God has helped me to wait all this
long, weary time, but now it seems as if I
couldn't bear it another day. And the little
boy, James, just your image; it's all he can
say, ' Papa, come home.' How can you have
the heart to stay in that wicked place? '
When the reading was finished some of the
women passengers were crying softly. The
men stood grimly pulling their long mus-
taches. After a short pause the captain read
aloud the fatal certificate of deposit, holding
it up so that all might see.
152 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
" Now, ladies and gentlemen," he went on,
" you've heard the story and can put this and
that together. When we get to Panama I'm
going to write a letter to the widow. It's for
you to say what kind of a letter it shall be.
Now, purser, you may put up the certificate
" How much am I offered how much? '
said the purser, waving the worthless bit of
paper to right and left.
Ten, twenty, forty, fifty dollars were bid
before the words were fairly out of the
purser's mouth. Then a woman's voice said
seventy, another's one hundred, and the men,
accepting the challenge, ran the bidding up
fifty more, at which price the certificate was
knocked down to a red-shirted miner who laid
three fifty-dollar pieces on the capstan, say-
ing as he did so: " 'Tain't a patchin', boys.
Sell her agin, cap sell her agin."
So the purser, at a nod from the captain,
put it up again, and the sale went on, each
buyer in turn turning the the certificate over to
THE LUCK OF YANKEE JIM 153
the purser, until the noble emulation covered
the capstan with gold.
" Stop a bit, purser," interrupted Captain
M , counting the money. " That will
do," he continued. " The sale is over. Here
are just two thousand dollars. The certifi-
cate of deposit is redeemed."
SEEING THE SIGHTS IN 'FRISCO
IT was a fine, sunny afternoon when the
Pacific turned her prow landward, and stood
straight on for a break in the rugged coast
line, like a hound with its nose to the ground.
In an hour she was moving swiftly through
the far-famed Golden Gate. A fort loomed
up at the right, then a semaphore was seen
working on a hilltop. In ten minutes more
the last point was rounded, the last gun fired,
and the city, sprung like magic from the
bleak hillsides of its noble bay, welcomed the
weary travelers with open arms. The long
voyage was ended.
The wharf was already black with people
when the steamer came in sight. When
within hailing distance a perfect storm of
greetings, questions, and answers was tossed
SEEING THE SIGHTS IN 'FRISCO 155
from ship to shore. Our two friends scanned
the unquiet throng in vain for the sight of one
familiar face. No sooner did the gangplank
touch the wharf than the crowd rushed pell-
mell on board. Women were being clasped
in loving arms. Men were frantically hug-
ging each other. While this was passing on
board, Walter and Bill made their escape to
the pier, hale and hearty, but as hungry as
bears. Forty days had passed since their
long journey began. What next?
Our two adventurers presently found them-
selves being hurried along with the crowd,
without the most remote idea of where they
were going. As soon as possible, however,
Bill drew Walter to one side, to get their
breath and to take their bearings, as he
phrased it. " Well," said he, clapping Wal-
ter on the back, " here we be at last ! '
Walter was staring every passer-by in the
face. From the moment he had set foot on
shore his one controlling thought and motive
had come back to him with full force.
156 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
" Come, come, that's no way to set about
the job," observed the practical-minded Bill.
" One thing to a time. Let's get sumfin' t' eat
fust; then we can set about it with full stom-
achs. How much have you got? '
Walter drew from his pocket a solitary
quarter-eagle, which looked astonishingly
small as it lay there in the palm of his hand.
Bill pulled out a handful of small change,
amounting to half as much more. * But cop-
pers don't pass here, nor anything else under
a dime, I'm told," observed Walter. " No
matter, they'll do for ballast," was Bill's re-
ply, whose attention was immediately diverted
to a tempting list of eatables chalked upon the
door-post of a restaurant. Beginning at the
top of the list, Bill began reading in an
undertone, meditatively stroking his chin the
" ' Oxtail soup, one dollar.' H'm, that
don't go down. ' Pigs' feet, one dollar each.'
Let 'em run. * Fresh Californy eggs, one dol-
lar each.' Eggs is eggs out here. * Corned
SEEING THE SIGHTS IN 'FRISCO 157
beef, one dollar per plate.' No salt horse for
Bill. ' Roast lamb, one dollar.' Baa ! do
they think we want a whole one? ' Cabbage,
squash, or beans, fifty cents.' Will you look
at that ! Move on, Walt, afore they tax us
for smellin' the cookin'. My grief!" he
added \vith a long face, as they walked on,
" I'm so sharp set that if a fun'ral was passin'
along, I b'leeve I could eat the co'pse and
chase the mo'ners."
Fortunately, however, Bill was not driven
to practice cannibalism, for just that moment
a Chinaman came shuffling along, balancing a
trayful of pies on his head. Bill was not
slow in hailing the moon-eyed Celestial in pig-
tail, to which the old fellow could not resist
giving a sly tweak, just for the fun of the
thing : ' Mawnin', John. Be you a Whig
or Know-Nothin' ? " at the same time helping
himself to a juicy turn-over, and signing to
Walter to do the same.
' Me cakes. Melican man allee my fliend.
Talkee true. You shabee, two bitee?"
158 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
This last remark referred to the pie which
Bill had just confiscated.
Sauntering on, jostling and being jostled
by people of almost every nation on the face
of the earth, they soon reached the plaza, or
great square of the city. Not many steps
were taken here^ when the strains of delicious
music floated out to them from the wide-open
doors of a building at their right hand. At-
tracted by the sweet sounds of " Home, Sweet
Home," our two wayfarers peered in, and to
Walter's amazement at least, brought up as
he had been at home, for the first time in his
life he found himself gazing into the interior
of a gambling-house, in full swing and in
broad daylight, like any legitimate business,
courting the custom of every passer-by.
Walk in, gentlemen," said a suave-looking
individual who was standing at the door.
' Call for what you like. Everything's free
here. Free lunch, free drinks, free cigars;
walk in and try your luck."
Walk into my parlor, sez the spider to
SEEING THE SIGHTS IN 'FRISCO 159
the fly,' " was Bill's ironical comment upon
this polite invitation. " Walt," he con-
tinued, a moment later, " I'm 'feared we
throw'd our money away on that Chinee.
Here's grub for nothin'." If they had only
known it, the person they were looking for
was inside that gambling den at that very
moment. After rambling about until they
were tired, the two companions looked up a
place in which to get a night's lodging a lux-
ury which cost them seventy-five cents apiece
for the temporary use of a straw mattress, a
consumptive pillow, and a greasy blanket.
After making the most frugal breakfast pos-
sible, it was found that their joint cash would
provide, at the farthest, for only one meal
more. The case began to look desperate.
They were sitting on the sill of the wharf,
silently ruminating on the situation, when the
booming of a cannon announced the arrival
of a steamer which had been signaled an hour
earlier from Telegraph Hill. A swarm of
people was already setting toward the plaza.
160 THE YOUNG VIGIL A* -
The movement of a crowd is always magnetic,
so Walter and Bill followed on in the same
When within two blocks of the plaza
they saw a long zigzag line of men and boys
strung out for that distance ahead of them,
some standing, some leaning against a
friendly awning, some squatted on the edge
of the plank sidewalk, while newcomers were
every moment lengthening out the already
"What a long tail our cat's got!' was
Bill's pithy remark. " Be they takin' the cen-
sus, or what? '
It was learned that all these people were
impatiently waiting for the opening of the
post-office, but how soon that event was likely
to happen nobody could tell. So the men
smoked, whistled, chaffed every late arrival,
On the instant Walter was struck with a
bright idea. Charley had never written him
one word, it is true; but as it was ten to one
Waiting- for the opening 1 of the mail. Page 160.
SEEING THE SIGHTS IN 'FRISCO 161
everybody in the city would be at the post-
office during the day, this seemed as likely a
place as any to meet with him. Shoving Bill
into a vacant place in the line, Walter started
toward the head of it, staring hard at every
one, and being stared at in return, as he
walked slowly along. When nearing the
head, without seeing a familiar face, a man
well placed in the line sang out, ' I say,
hombre, want a job?'
" What job?"
" Hold my place for me till I kin go git
a bite to eat."
" I would in a minute, only I can't stop.
I'm looking for some one," said Walter, start-
" You can't make five dollars no easier."
This startling proposition to a young fel-
low who did not know where his next meal
was coming from, hit Walter in his weak
" Talk fast. Is it a whack? ' the hungry
man demanded. " I've been here two hours
i6a THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
a'ready; be back before you can say Jack
This singular bargain being struck, Walter
stepped into line, when his file-leader turned
to him with the remark, ' Fool you hadn't
stuck out for ten. That man runs a bank."
"Does he?' Walter innocently inquired.
" What kind of a bank?"
A loud guffaw from the bystanders fol-
lowed this reply.
As soon as the hungry man came back to
claim his place, and had paid over his five dol-
lars, Walter hurried off to where he had left
Bill, who stopped him in his story with the
whispered words, " I seed him."
"Him? Who? Not Charley?"
"No; t'other duffer."
Walter gave a low whistle. "Where?
Here? Don't you see I'm all on fire?'
' Right here. Breshed by me as large as
life, and twice as sassy. Oh, I know'd him
in spite of his baird. Sez I to myself, ' Walk
SEEING THE SIGPITS IN 'FRISCO 163
along, sonny, and smoke your shugarette.
Our turn's comin' right along.'
" Too bad, too bad you didn't follow
him." Walter was starting off again, with
a sort of blind purpose to find Ramon, collar
him, and make him disgorge his ill-gotten
gains on the spot, when Bill held him back.
" Tut, tut, Walt," he expostulated, " if the
lubber sees you before we're good and ready
to nab him, won't he be off in a jiffy? Now
we know he's here, ain't that something? So
much for so much. Lay low and keep shady,
is our best holt."
To such sound reasoning Walter was fain
to give in. Besides, Bill now insisted upon
staying in the line until he could sell out too.
With a jerk of the thumb, he pointed to where
one or two patient waiters were very com-
fortably seated on camp-stools, and in a husky
undertone proposed finding out where camp-
stools could be had. Taking the hint, Wal-
ter started off, instanter, in search of a dealer
in camp-stools, with whom he quickly struck
164 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
a bargain for as many as he could carry, by
depositing his half-eagle as security. The
stools went off like hot cakes, and at a good
profit. Bill, too, having got his price, by pa-
tient waiting, the two lucky speculators
walked away to the first full meal they had
eaten since landing, the richer by twenty dol-
lars from the morning's adventure. Bill
called it finding money; "just like pickin' it
up in the street."
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING
IT was getting along toward the middle of
the afternoon when the two newly fledged
speculators turned their steps to the water-
side, Bill to have his after-dinner smoke in
peace and quiet, while scanning with critical
eye the various craft afloat in that matchless
bay. Something he saw there arrested his
attention wonderfully, by the way he grasped
Walter's arm and stretched out his long neck.
"Will you look! Ef that arn't the old
Argonaut out there in the stream, I'm a nig-
ger. The old tub ! She's made her last
v'y'ge by the looks topmasts sent down, hole
in her side big 'nuff to drive a yoke of oxen
through. Ain't she a beauty? '
After taking a good look at the dismantled
hulk, Walter agreed that it could be no other
1 66 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
than the ship on which he and Charley met
with their adventure just before she sailed.
It did seem so like seeing an old friend that
Walter was seized with an eager desire to go
on board. Hailing a Whitehall boatman,
they were quickly rowed off alongside, and in
another minute found themselves once more
standing on the Argonaut's deck. A well-
grown, broad-shouldered, round-faced young
fellow, in a guernsey jacket and skull-cap,
met them at the gang\vay. There were three
shouts blended in one :
"Well, I'm blessed!"
Then there followed such a shaking of
hands all round, such a volley of questions
without waiting for answers, and of answers
without waiting for questions, that it was
some minutes before quiet was restored.
Charley then took up the word: "Why,
Walt, old fel'," holding him off at arm's
length, " I declare I should hardly have
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 167
known you with that long hair and that brown
face. Yes ; this is the Argonaut. She's a store-
ship now; and I'm ship-keeper." He then
went on to explain that most of the fleet of
ships moored ahead and astern were similarly
used for storing merchandise, some merchants
even owning their own storeships. You
see, it's safer and cheaper than keeping the
stuff on shore to help make a bonfire of some
" Don't you have no crew? " Bill asked.
"No; we can hire lightermen, same's you
hire truckmen in Boston. All those stores
you see built out over the water get in their
goods through a trap-door in the floor, with
fall and tackle."
It may well be imagined that these three
reunited friends had a good long talk to-
gether that evening. Charley pulled a skil-
let out of a cupboard, on which he put some
sliced bacon. Bill started a fire in the cabin
stove, while Walter made the coffee. Pres-
ently the bacon began to sizzle and the coffee
1 68 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
to bubble. Then followed a famous clatter-
ing of knives and forks, as the joyous trio set
to, with appetites such as only California air
Walter told his story first Charley
looked as black as a thundercloud, as Ramon's
villainy was being exposed. Bill gave an
angry snort or grunt to punctuate the tale.
Walter finished by saying bitterly, " I sup-
pose it's like looking for a needle in a
" Not quite so bad as that," was Charley's
quick reply. " It's a pity if we three,"
throwing out his chest, " can't cook his goose
for him. Bill has seen him. Didn't you say
he gambled? Thought so. Oh, he won't
be lonesome; there's plenty more here of that
stripe. Gamblers, thieves, and sharks own
the town. They do. It ain't safe to be out
late nights alone, unless you've got a Colt or
a Derringer handy, for fear of the Hounds."
" The Hounds! " echoed Walter and Bill.
Yes, the Hounds; that's what they call
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 169
the ruff-scuff here. There's a storm brew-
ing," he added mysteriously, then suddenly
changing the subject, he asked, " Where do
you hombres ranch?'
" Under the blue kannerpy, I guess," said
Bill in a heavy tragedian's voice.
"Not by a jugful! You'll both stop
aboard here with me. I'm cap'n, chief cook,
and bottle-washer. Bill's cut out for a
lighterman, so he's as good as fixed. Some-
thing '11 turn up for Walt."
" What did you mean by ranching? ' Wal-
This is it. This is my ranch. You hire
a room or a shanty, do your own cooking and
washing, roll yourself up in your blanket at
night and go it alone, as independent as a hog
on ice. Oh, you'll soon get used to it, never
fear, and like it too; bet your life. Women's
as scarce as hens' teeth out here. You can't
think it. Why, man alive, a nice, well-
dressed lady is such a curiosity that I've seen
all hands run out o' doors to get a sight of one
1 7 o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
passin' by. Come, Bill, bear a hand, and
pull an armful of gunny-bags out of that bale
for both your beds. Look out for that can-
dle ! That's a keg of blastin' powder you're
settin' on, Walt! If I'd only known I was
goin' to entertain company I'd 'a' swep' up a
bit. Are you all ready? Then one, two,
three, and out she goes." And with one
vigorous puff out went the light.
When Bill turned out in the morning he
found Charley already up and busying him-
self with the breakfast things. " What's this
'ere craft loaded with?' was his first ques-
' Oh, a little of everything, assorted, you
can think of, from gunny-bags to lumber."
Walter was sitting on a locker, with one
boot on and the other in his hand, listening.
At hearing the word lumber he pricked up
his ears. That reminds me," he broke in.
' Bright & Company shipped a cargo out
here; dead loss; they said it was rotting in the
ship that brought it."
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 171
Charley stopped peeling a potato to ask
" The Southern Cross"
" Yes, a bark."
" Well, p'r'aps now that ain't queer,"
Charley continued. " That's her moored just
astern of us. Never broke bulk; ship and
cargo sold at auction to pay freight and
charges. Went dirt cheap. My boss, he
bought 'em in on a spec. And a mighty poor
spec it's turned out. Why, everybody's got
lumber to burn."
Charley seemed so glum over it that Wal-
ter was about to drop the subject, when Char-
ley resumed it. " You see, boys," he began,
" here's where the shoe pinches. I had scraped
together a tidy little sum of my own, workin'
on ship work at big wages, sometimes for
this man, sometimes for that. I was thinkin'
all the while of buying off those folks at home
who fitted me out (Walt here knows who I
mean), when along comes my boss and says
i 7 2 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
to me, ' I say, young feller, you seem a busy
sort of chap. I've had my eye on you some
time. Now, I tell you what I'll do with you.
No nonsense now. Got any dust?' 'A
few hundreds,' says I. * Well, then,' says he,
* I don't mind givin' you a lift. Here's this
Southern Cross goin' to be sold for the
freight. I'll buy it in on halves. You pay
what you can down on the nail, the rest when
we sell out at a profit. Sabe? ' Like a fool
I jumped at the chance."
" Well, what ails you? ' growled the irre-
pressible Bill; 'that 'ar ship can't git away,
moored with five fathoms o' chain, can she?
Pine boards don't eat nor drink nothin', do
Who said they did? ' Charley tartly re-
torted. It was plain to see that with him
the Southern Cross was a sore subject.
" Waal, 'tain't ushil to cry much over bein'
a lumber king, is it?' persisted Bill, in his
hectoring way. " Down East, whar I come
from, they laugh and grow fat."
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 173
" You don't hear me through. Listen to
this : My partner went off to Australia seven or
eight months ago, to settle up some old busi-
ness there, he said. I've not heard hide nor
hair of him since. Every red cent I'd raked
and scraped is tied up hard and fast in that
blamed old lumber. Nobody wants it; and
if they did, I couldn't give a clean bill o' sale.
Now, you know, Walt, why I never sent you
Walter was struck with an odd idea. In a
laughing sort of way, half in jest, half
in earnest, he said, " You needn't worry any
more about what you owe me, Charley; I
don't; but if it will ease your mind any, I'll
take as much out in lumber as will make us
square, and give you a receipt in full in the
" You will?" Charley exclaimed, with
great animation. " By George ! " slapping his
knee, " it's a bargain. Take my share for
what I owe you and welcome."
" Pass the papers on't, boys. Put it in
E 7 4 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
black an' white; have everything fair and
square," interjected the methodical Bill.
Charley brought out pen and ink, tore a
blank leaf out of an account book, and pre-
pared himself to write the bill of sale.
" Hold on ! " cried Walter, who seemed to
be in a reckless mood this morning. ' Put
in that I'm to have the refusal of the other
half of the cargo for ninety days at cost price.
In for a penny, in for a pound," he laughed,
by way of reply to Charley's wondering look.
For a minute or two nothing was heard
except the scratching of Charley's busy pen.
Walter's face was a study. Bill seemed lost
There. Down it is," said Charley, sign-
ing the paper with a flourish. " 'Pears to me
as if we was doin' a big business on a small
capital this morning. And now it's done,
what on earth did you do it for, Walt? '
( Oh, I've an idea," said Walter, assuming
an air of impenetrable mystery.
' Have your own way," rejoined Charley,
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 175
whose mind seemed lightened of its heavy
load. " Here, Bill, you put these dirty dishes
in that bread pan, douse some hot water over
them there ! Now look in that middle
locker and you'll find a bunch of oakum to
wipe 'em with. Walter, you get a bucket of
water from the cask with the pump in it, on
deck, and fill up the b'iler."
Under Charley's active directions the
breakfast things were soon cleared away.
Walter then asked to be put on shore, giving
as a reason that he must find something to do
without delay. " Whereabouts do they dig
gold here? " he innocently asked.
At this question Charley laughed outright.
He then told Walter how the diggings were
reached from there, pointing out the steam-
boats plying to " up-country ' points, and
then to distant Monte Diablo as the land-
mark of the route. " There ain't no actual
diggin's here in 'Frisco," he went on to say,
" but there's gold enough for them as is
willin' to work for it, and has sense enough
176 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
not to gamble or drink it all away. Mebbe
you won't get rich quite so fast, and then
again mebbe you will. Qmen sabe? y
" Queer sitivation for a lumber king,"
" I didn't come out here to get rich; you
know I didn't," said Walter excitedly, rising
and putting on his cap with an air of deter-
" Easy now," urged Charley, putting an
arm around Walter; " now don't you go run-
ning all over town in broad daylight after that
fellow. Better send out the town crier, and
done with it. That's not the way to go to
work. Do you s'pose a chap in his shoes
won't be keepin' a sharp lookout for himself?
Bet your life. Yes, sir-ee ! Now, look here.
My idee is not to disturb the nest until we
ketch the bird. This is my plan. We three
'11 put in our nights ranging about town,
lookin' into the gambling dens, saloons, and
hotels. If the skunk is hidin' that's the time
he'll come out of his hole, eh, Bill? '
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 177
" Sartin sure," was the decided reply.
" Well, then, Walt, hear to reason. Don't
you see that if there's anything to be done,
the night's our best holt to do it in? '
Walter was not more than half convinced.
" Couldn't I have him arrested on the
strength of the handbill Marshal Tukey got
out, offering a reward, and describing Ramon
to a hair? See, here it is," drawing it out
of an inside pocket and holding it up to view.
" I could swear to him, you know, and so
" On a stack of Bibles," Bill assented.
" Let me see it," Charley demanded,
rapidly running his eye over the precious
document. " ' Five hundred dollars re-
ward !' Five hundred fiddlesticks ! Why,
he'd go five hundred better and be off in a
jiffy, with just a nod and a wink from the
officers to keep out of the way a while."
Having expressed this opinion, Charley tossed
the handbill on the table with a disdainful
1 78 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
Walter was dumb. He had actually
thought for a whole month that the mere sight
of this accusing piece of paper would make
the guilty wretch fall on his knees and beg
for mercy. And to be told now that it was
only so much waste paper struck him speech-
Charley again came to the rescue.
' Come, come; don't stand there looking as
if you'd lost every friend you had on earth,
but brace up. If you'd wanted to have that
robber arrested, you should have gone a dif-
ferent way to work 'cordin' to law."
"What's to be done, then?"
' My idee is like this. Californy law is
no good, anyhow. It's on the side that has
most dust. But here's three of us and only
one of him. We can lay for him, get him
into some quiet corner, and then frighten him
into doing what we say. How's that? '
' Capital ! Just the thing. I always said
you had the best head of the three."
" All right, then," cried Charley in his old,
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 179
sprightly way; " I give you both a holiday, so
you can see the sights. Walter, you take
care that Bill don't get lost or stolen."
" Me take care o' him, you mean," Bill re-
Getting into the boat the two friends then
pulled for the shore. Walter's first remark,
as they slowly sauntered along, was : What
a wooden-looking town ! Wooden houses,
wooden sidewalks, plank streets. It looks as
if everything had sprung up in a night."
And so it had. At this time the city was
beginning to work its way out from the
natural beach toward deeper water; for as
deep water would not come to the city, the
city had to go out to deep water. And as
many of the coming streets were as yet only
narrow footways, thrust out over the shallow
waters of the bay, the entire ragged water-
front seemed cautiously feeling its way toward
its wished-for goal. Cheap one-story frame
buildings were following these extensions of
new and old streets, as fast as piles could be
i8o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
driven for them, so that a famous clattering
of hammers was going on on every side from
morning to night.
The two friends soon had an exciting ex-
perience. Just ahead of them, a dray was
being driven down the wharf at a rapid rate,
making the loose planks rattle again. In
turning out to let another dray pass him, the
driver of the first went too near the edge of
the wharf, when the weight of horse and dray
suddenly tilted the loose planks in the air,
the driver gave a yell, and over into the dock
went horse, dray, and man with a tremendous
It was all done so quickly that Walter and
Bill stood for a moment without stirring.
Fortunately their boat was only a few rods
off, so both ran back for her in a hurry. A
few strokes brought them to where the fright-
ened animal was still helplessly floundering
in the water, dragged down by the weight of
the dray. The man was first pulled into the
boat, dripping wet. Bill then cut the traces
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 181
with his sheath-knife, while the drayman held
the struggling animal by the bit. He was then
towed to the beach safe and sound. By this
time a crowd had collected. Seeing his res-
cuers pushing off, the drayman elbowed his
way out of the crowd, and shouted after them,
" I say, you, hombres, this ain't no place to
take a bath, is it? This ain't no place to be
bashful. Come up to my stand, Jackson and
Sansome, and ask for Jack Furbish."
" Is your name Furbish? " asked Bill, rest-
ing on his oars.
" Yes; why?"
" Oh, nothin', only we lost a man overboard
onct off Cape Horn. His name was Fur-
Well, 'twarn't me. I was lost over-
board from Pacific Wharf. Jackson and
Sansome ! Git up, Jim ! " bringing his black-
snake smartly down on his horse's steaming
IN WHICH A MAN BREAKS INTO HIS OWN
STORE, AND STEALS HIS OWN SAFE
WALTER'S idea, as far as he had thought
it out, was to hold on to this lumber cargo
until Mr. Bright could be notified just how
the matter stood. Should the merchant then
choose to take any steps toward recovering
the cargo of the Southern Cross, Walter
thought this act on his part might go far to
remove the unjust suspicions directed against
himself. For this reason he had secured, as
we have seen, a refusal of the cargo long
enough for a letter to go and return.
Walter now set about writing his letter,
but he now found that what had seemed so
simple at first was no easy matter. As he sat
staring vacantly at the blank paper before
him, tears came into his eyes; for again the
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 183
trying scene in the merchant's counting-room
rushed vividly upon his memory. An evil
voice within him said, " Why should I trouble
myself about those who have so ill-used me
and robbed me of my good name?' Yet
another, and gentler, voice answered, " Do
unto others as you would that they should
do unto you." Compressing his lips reso-
lutely, he succeeded in writing a very formal
letter, not at all like what he had intended.
But the main thing was to make himself
clearly understood. So he carefully studied
every word before putting it down in black
and white, as follows:
" MR. BRIGHT,
' Sir: This is to inform you of my being
here. I could not bear to be suspected of
dishonesty when I knew I was innocent of
wrongdoing. So I left. This is to inform
you that the Southern Cross is in charge of
my friend Mr. Charles Wormwood. You
may recollect him. He is a fine young man.
1 84 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
Between us, we've got hold of half the cargo,
and I have the refusal of the other half for
ninety days. The man who owns it has gone
away. If you think it worth while, send
directions to somebody here what to do about
it. This is a great country, only I'm afraid
it will burn up all the time.
Your true friend,
" WALTER SEABURY."
While on his way uptown to post his letter,
Walter heard a familiar voice call out, " Hi,
hombre! lookin' for a job?' It was the
drayman of yesterday's adventure, placidly
kicking his heels on the tail of his dray.
Walter candidly admitted that he would
like something to do. The drayman spoke
up briskly: u Good enough. Not afraid of
dirty hands? No? Good again. Got
some plata? No? Cleaned out, eh? So
was I. Say, there's a first-rate handcart
stand, on the next corner above here, I've
had my eye on for some time. More people
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 185
pass there in a day than any other in 'Frisco.
Talk biz. That corner has been waiting for
you, or it would 'a' been snapped up long ago.
No job less than six bits. You can make any-
where from five to ten dollars a day. Come,
what do you say? Do we hitch bosses or
Walter had a short struggle with his pride.
It did seem rather low, to be sure, to be push-
ing a handcart through the streets, like the
rag-men seen at home, but beggars should not
be choosers, he reflected. So, putting his
pride in his pocket, the bargain was closed
without more words.
Certainly Walter's best friends would
hardly have known him when he made his
first appearance on the stand, bright and early
next morning, rigged out in a gray slouch hat,
red woolen shirt, and blue overalls tucked into
a pair of stout cowhide boots. His face, too,
was beginning to show signs of quite a prom-
ising beard which Walter was often seen
caressing as if to make sure it was still there
1 86 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
overnight and which, indeed, so greatly
altered his looks that he now felt little fear
of being recognized by Ramon, should they
happen to meet some day unexpectedly in the
Walter ranched with his employer in a loft.
With a hammer, a saw, and some nails, he
had soon knocked together a bunk out of some
old packing boxes. In this he slept on a
straw mattress also of his own make, with a
pair of coarse blankets for bedclothes. An-
other packing box, a water pail, a tin wash-
basin, towel, and soap comprised all necessary
conveniences, with which the morning toilet
was soon made. The bed required no mak-
ing. Rather primitive housekeeping, to be
sure; yet Walter soon learned, from actual
observation, that a majority of the merchants,
some of whom were reputed worth their hun-
dreds of thousands, were no better lodged
On the whole, Walter rather liked his new
occupation, as soon as his first awkwardness
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 187
had worn off. Here, at any rate, he was
his own master, and Walter had always
chafed at being ordered about by boys no
older than himself. Then, he liked the
hearty, democratic way in which everybody
greeted everybody. It made things move
along much more cheerfully. Walter was
attentive. Business was good. At the close
of each day he handed over his earnings to
his employer, who kept his own share, punctu-
ally returning Walter the rest. " You'll be
buyin' out Sam Brannan one of these days,
if you keep on as you're goin'," was Furbish's
encouraging remark, as he figured up Wal-
ter's earnings at twenty-five dollars, at the
end of the first week.
" Who's Sam Brannan?"
* Not know who Sam Brannan is? " asked
the drayman, lifting his eyebrows in amaze-
ment. ' He's reputed the richest man in
'Frisco. Owns a big block on Montgomery
Street. Income's two thousand a day, they
1 88 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
Walter could only gape, open-mouthed,
in astonishment. The bare idea of any
one man possessing such unheard-of wealth
was something that he had never dreamed
" Fact," repeated the drayman, observing
Walter's look of incredulity.
The restaurant at which Walter took his
meals, until circumstances suggested a change,
was one of the institutions peculiar to the
San Francisco of that day. An old dis-
mantled hulk had been hauled up alongside
the wharf, the spar-deck roofed over, and
some loose boards, laid upon wooden trestles,
made to serve the purpose of a table, while
the ship's caboose performed its customary
office of scullery and kitchen.
The restaurant keeper was evidently new
to the business, for he was in the habit of
urging his customers to have a second help-
ing of everything, much to the annoyance of
his wife, who did the cooking. This woman
was one of the class locally known as Sydney
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 189
Ducks, from the fact that she had come from
Australia under the sanction of a ticket-of-
leave. She was fat, brawny, red-faced, and
quick-tempered, in fact, fiery, and when
out of sorts gave her tongue free license.
The pair were continually quarreling at meal-
times, regardless of the presence of the board-
ers, some of whom took a malicious pleasure
in egging on the one or the other when words
failed them. But it happened more than
once that, when words failed, man and wife
began shying plates, or cups and saucers, at
each other's head, which quickly cleared the
table of boarders.
Walter stood this sort of thing stoically
until, one noon, when he was just entering
the dining room, a flat-iron came whizzing by
him, narrowly missing his head. The lan-
guage that accompanied it showed madam to
be mistress of the choicest Billingsgate in pro-
fusion. By the time a second flat-iron sailed
through the door Walter was a block away,
and still running. It was shrewdly surmised
i 9 o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
that man and wife had broken up housekeep-
Meanwhile the search for Ramon was
faithfully kept up, yet so far with no better
success than if the ground had opened and
swallowed him up. Nobody knew a person
of the name of Ingersoll. No doubt he had
assumed another less incriminating. A de-
coy letter dropped in the post-office remained
there unclaimed until sent to the dead-letter
office. " Fool if he hadn't changed his
name," muttered Bill, as Walter and he stood
at a street corner, looking blankly into each
They were taking their customary stroll
uptown in the evening, when the big bell on
the plaza suddenly clanged out an alarm
of fire. There was no appearance of fire
anywhere, no shooting flames, no smoke, no
red glare in the sky, yet every one seemed
flocking, as if by a common understanding,
toward the Chinese quarter. Catching the
prevailing excitement, the three friends
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 191
pressed forward with the crowd, which at
every step was visibly increasing. Upon
reaching the point where the fire-engines were
already hard at work, the crowd grew more
and more dense, shouts and cries broke out
here and there, lights were glancing hither
and thither, and still no sign of fire could be
detected. What could it all mean?
It meant that by a secret understanding
among the firemen, winked at by the city
authorities, the fire department was " cleaning
out " the Chinese quarter, which had become
an intolerable nuisance, dangerous to health
on account of the filthy habits of the moon-
eyed Celestials. The fire lads were only too
willing to undertake the job, which promised
to be such a fine lark, and at the first tap of
the bells they had rushed their machines to
the indicated spot, run their hose into the
houses, and, regardless of the screams and
howlings of the frightened inmates, who were
wildly running to and fro in frantic efforts
to escape, a veritable deluge of water was
THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
being poured upon them from a dozen
streams, fairly washing the poor devils out
of house and home, some by the doors, some
by leaping out of the windows, and some by
the roofs. Whenever one made his appear-
ance, the shouts of the mob would direct the
firemen where to point their powerful streams,
which quickly sent the unresisting victim roll-
ing in the dirt, from which he scrambled to
his feet more dead than alive.
Meantime the Chinese quarter had been
thoroughly drenched, inside and out, the ter-
rified inhabitants scattered in every direction,
their belongings utterly ruined either by water
or by being thrown into the street pell-mell,
and they themselves chased and hunted from
pillar to post like so many rats drowned out
of their holes by an inundation, until the
last victim had fled beyond the reach of
When the whole district had been thus de-
populated the vast throng turned homeward
in great good humor at having shown those
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 193
miserable barbarians how things were done in
Time slipped away in this manner, and
gradually the edge was being taken off from
the keenness of the search, though never com-
pletely lost sight of. Not a nook or corner
of the town had been left unvisited, and still
no Ramon. It was, even as Walter had first
described it, quite like looking for a needle in
One morning Walter was called to help
Furbish move some goods from a downtown
wharf to a certain warehouse uptown. The
owner was found standing among his belong-
ings, which were piled and tossed about
helter-skelter, in a state of angry excitement,
which every now and then broke forth in mut-
tered threats and snappy monosyllables, di-
rected to a small crowd of bystanders who
had been attracted to the spot.
" There'll be some hanging done round
here before long," he muttered, scowling
darkly at two or three rough-looking men,
194 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
each armed with a brace of pistols, who stood
with their backs against the door of the build-
ing from which the man's goods had been so
hastily thrown out.
This building stood on one of the new
streets spoken of in a former chapter as built
out over the water, or on what was then
known as a water-lot. It seems that the title
to this lot was claimed by two parties. The
late occupant had taken a lease from one
claimant for a term of years, and had built
a store upon the lot, wholly ignorant that an-
other party claimed it. He had punctually
paid his rent to his landlord every month, and
was therefore dum founded when, late one
afternoon, the second claimant, armed with an
order of a certain judge and accompanied
by a sheriff's posse, walked into his store, and
after demanding payment of all back rents,
which was stoutly refused, promptly ejected
the unfortunate tenant, neck and heels, from
his place of business. His goods were then
thrown out into the street after him, and the
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 195
door locked against him, with an armed
guard keeping possession. This was the
state of things when Furbish and Walter ar-
rived on the ground.
" It's a wicked shame," declared Walter in-
" Makes business good for us," was Fur-
bish's careless reply. Then lowering his
voice, he added, " Talk low and keep shady.
Mark my words. There'll be hanging done
before long," thus unconsciously echoing the
very words of the dispossessed tenant.
Walter took the hint. He stared, it is
true, but went to work without further com-
ment, though he could see that the sympathy
of the crowd was clearly with the unfortunate
tenant. When the last load had been carted
away, the crowd slowly dispersed, leaving
only the surly-looking guards on the spot.
"Is all out?' demanded Furbish of the
merchant, nodding his head toward the empty
" All but my safe. I want that bad; but
196 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
you see these robbers won't let me in. It was
too heavy for them to move, or they were too
lazy, and now they won't even let me take my
papers out of it. Curse them ! '
" Got the key?"
" Oh, yes! That's all safe in my pocket.
But what's a man going to do with a key? '
" You want that safe bad? '
" I'd give a hundred dollars for it this
minute; yes, two hundred."
Furbish now held a whispered colloquy
with Walter. u Do you think your friends
would take a hand? '
" Oh, I'll answer for them," was the ready
" Enough said."
A place of meeting was then fixed upon,
after which the three conspirators went
their several ways Furbish to mature his
plan of action, the merchant to nurse his
new-found hopes, Walter to enlist his two
friends in the coming adventure. Char-
ley was in high spirits at the prospect.
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 197
Bill thought it a risky piece of business,
but if his boys were going to take a hand in
it he would have to go too. Charley put an
end to further argument by declaring that it
was a burning shame if a man couldn't go into
his own store after his own property, law or
no law. For his part, he was bound to see
the thing through. Walter stipulated that
there should be no violence used, and that he
should not be asked to enter the building if
it was found to be still in the hands of the
Just at midnight a row-boat, with an
empty lighter in tow, put off from the
Argonaut's side, care being taken to keep in
the deep shadows as much as possible. Not
a word was exchanged as the tow was quietly
brought to the place agreed upon, where it
lay completely hidden from curious eyes, if
any such had been abroad at that hour. As
the lighter lightly grazed the wharf a dark
figure stole cautiously out from the shadow
cast by a neighboring warehouse, and dropped
198 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
into the hands stretched out to receive it : still
another followed, and the party, now com-
plete, held a short council in whispers.
Furbish had reconnoitered the store, find-
ing only one watchman on guard outside.
Yet he was positive that there were two or
more inside, as he had seen a light shining
through a crevice in the window-shutters,
which suddenly disappeared while he was
The evicted merchant then explained that
this light must have come from the little
office, at the right hand of the street door,
where he usually slept. This information
confirmed the belief that the men inside had
turned in until their turn should come to re-
lieve the guard outside. If this should prove
true, the midnight intruders felt that they
would have a more easy task than they had sup-
posed. This, however, remained to be seen.
After listening to a minute description of the
store, inside and out, Furbish gave the signal
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 199
Making the boat fast to the scow's stern,
the latter was poled along in the shadows of
the wharves until, under Bill's skillful guid-
ance, she glided between the two piers which
supported the building that the party was in
All listened intently for any sound indi-
cating that their approach had been detected.
As all seemed safe, the scow was quickly made
fast directly underneath the trap-door con-
trived for hoisting up merchandise into the
store by means of a block and tackle secured
to a stout rafter overhead an operation at
which Charley had often assisted. It was,
therefore, through this same trap-door that
the intruders now meant to effect an entrance.
But a first attempt, very cautiously made, to
raise it, proved it to be bolted on the inside.
This contingency, however, had been provided
against, for Charley now produced a large
auger, on which he rubbed some tallow to
deaden the sound, while the merchant held
a dark lantern in such a way as to show
2 oo THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
Charley where to use his tool to advan-
Very cautiously, and with frequent pauses
to listen, a large hole was bored next to the
place where the bolt shot into the socket.
Two or three minutes were occupied in this
work. Charley then succeeded in drawing
back the bolt with his fingers, a little
at a time, when the trap was carefully lifted
far enough to let the merchant squeeze his
body through it, and so up into the store.
As this was felt to be the critical moment,
those who were left below listened breath-
lessly for any sound from above, as the trap
was immediately lowered after the merchant
passed through it.
It was, of course, pitch-dark in the store,
but knowing the way as well in the dark as
in the daytime, and being in his stocking-
feet, the merchant stood only a moment to
listen. Out of the darkness the sleeping
watchmen could be heard snoring heavily
away in the little corner office. Groping
STEALS HIS OWN SAFE 201
his way with cat-like tread, the merchant,
with two or three quick turns of the wrist,
screwed a gimlet into the woodwork of the
office door, over the latch, thus securely
fastening the sleepers in. Observing the
same precautions, he then felt for the lock on
the front door, and finding the key in the
lock he turned it softly, putting the key in his
pocket. Even should they awake, the watch-
men inside the office could only get out by
breaking down the door ; while their comrade
outside would be kept from coming to their
assistance. The merchant had certainly
shown himself not only to be a man of nerve,
but no mean strategist.
The merchant having signaled that all was
safe, all the rest of the party, except Walter,
immediately joined him. The safe was
speedily located, some loose gunny-bags were
spread upon the floor to deaden the sound,
two stout slings were quickly passed around
the safe, the tackle hooked on, and in less
than ten minutes the object of the adventure
2 o2 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
was safely lowered into the lighter. No time
was lost in getting the scow clear of her dan-
gerous berth, nor was it until they had put a
long stretch of water behind them that the ad-
venturers breathed freely.
The daring midnight burglary was duly
chronicled in the evening papers as one of the
boldest and most successful known to the
criminal annals of San Francisco. Would it
be believed, it was asked, that with three
heavily armed guards on the watch inside and
outside of the building, the burglars had
actually succeeded in carrying off so bulky an
article as an iron safe under the very noses of
these alleged guardians? Connivance on their
part was strongly hinted at. The police were
on the track of the gang who did the job,
and the public might rest assured that when
caught they would be given short shrift. The
burglars were supposed to have sunk the safe
in the harbor after rifling it of its contents.
CHARLEY AND WALTER GO A-GUNNING
CHARLEY frequently came ashore in the
evening, leaving Bill in charge of the ship.
Walter ranched at Clark's Point, near the
waterside, and only a few steps from the land-
ing place. The neighborhood, to tell the
truth, did not bear a very good reputation, it
being a resort for sailors of all nations, whose
nightly carousals in the low dramshops gener-
ally kept the place in an uproar till morning,
and often ended in bloodshed.
Walter was busily engaged in sewing up a
rip in his overalls, meantime humming to him-
self snatches of " The Old Folks at Home,"
when Charley came stamping into the room.
Seating himself on an empty nail-keg, he
proceeded to free his mind in the follow-
204 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
" You've been working pretty steady now
for how long ? '
" Three months last Monday," assisted
Walter, consulting a chalk mark on the wall.
" Long 'nuff to entitle you to a bit of a
vacation, I'm a-thinkin'. What say to takin'
a little gunnin' trip up country? Bill knows
the ropes now pretty well. A friend of mine
'11 lend me the shootin' fixin's. Couldn't you
get off for a few days, think? Come, get
that Ramon chap out of your head for a bit.
It's wearin' on you."
Walter jumped at the offer. Thus far he
had never set foot out of the city, and Char-
ley, an enthusiast in anything that he had set
his mind upon, now portrayed the delights of
a tramp among the foothills of the Coast
Range in glowing colors. Walter easily
found a substitute for the few days he ex-
pected to be away, while Charley had
nobody's permission to ask. So the very next
afternoon saw the two sportsmen crossing the
ferry to Contra Costa, Charley carrying a
GOING A -GUNNING 205
rifle and Walter a shotgun, the necessary
traps for camping out being divided equally
I only hope we may set eyes on a griz-
zly," Charley remarked, slapping the breech
of his rifle affectionately, as they stepped on
shore. " That's why I chose this feller," he
' Better let grizzlys alone. From all I
hear they're pretty tough customers," was
Walter's cautious comment.
' I don't care. Just you wait till I see
one, that's all. I'm all fixed for him lock,
stock, and barrel."
They soon struck into the well-beaten road
leading to the Coast Range, and after steadily
tramping until dark entered a small settle-
ment where travelers, coming and going over
this route, usually put up for the night. A
night's lodging was soon arranged for at the
only public house that the place could afford,
and after eating a hearty supper, and leaving
word with the landlord to call them up as soon
2 o6 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
as it was light in the morning, the two ama-
teur hunters were glad to tumble into bed.
The house was a two-story frame building,
with the second-story windows in front open-
ing upon a veranda, after the Southern style
of public houses. The air being hot and
close in their room, Walter threw up a win-
dow the first thing upon going into it. He saw
that one might easily step out from the room
onto the veranda, or in, for that matter.
Then, there was no lock on the door, but as
neither he nor Charley was afraid of being
robbed, the want of a lock did not prevent
their going to sleep as soon as they struck
their beds. It is probable that they did not
even turn over once during the night.
Walter was aw r akened by the sound of a
gentle scratching, or tapping, at the door.
Upon opening his eyes he perceived that it
was beginning to be quite light. He listened
until the sound w r as repeated, sat up in bed,
and being satisfied that it must be some one
calling them to get up, slipped out of bed,
GOING A-GUNNING 207
yawning and stretching himself, went to the
door, half opened it, and, still only half
awake, peered out.
What he saw made him start back in af-
fright, and his hair to rise up on his head in
Standing erect on his hind feet, clumsily
beating the air with his forepaws and lolling
out a long red tongue, was an enormous,
shaggy grizzly bear at least a foot taller than
One look was enough. Giving one yell,
Walter made a dash for the open window,
leaped out upon the veranda, vaulted over it,
and grasping firm hold of the railing, let him-
self drop down into the street. Imagining
that the bear was close behind, he inconti-
nently took to his heels, not even turning to
look back over his shoulder to see what had
become of Charley.
Startled out of a sound sleep by Walter's
cry of alarm, Charley threw off the bed-
clothes, rubbed his eyes, and, with their aid,
2 o8 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
saw the bear waddling with rolling gait into
the room on all fours. He too made a dash
for the window, adopting without hesitation
the only route of escape open to him.
The bear quickly followed suit, sliding with
ease down an upright, and, on touching the
ground, immediately set off after the fugi-
tives, upon whom the discovery that the bear
was after them acted like a spur upon a
mettled charger. They no longer ran, they
Up to this hour the village had not shaken
off its slumbers, but the frantic shouts of the
fugitives, who saw that the faster they ran
the faster ran the bear, quickly aroused other
sleepers from their morning nap. Dogs be-
gan to bark and give chase to the bear.
Windows began to be thrown up, and heads
to appear at them. Still the race for life
continued. Bruin was evidently gaining
upon the fugitives, who could not much
longer keep up the pace at which they were
going. Feeling his breath failing him, Char-
The hunters hunted by a grizzly bear. - -Page 208.
GOING A -GUNNING 209
ley, who was a few rods behind Walter, had
even almost made up his mind to stop short
in his tracks, face about, and let the bear work
its will upon him, so giving his bosom friend
a chance to escape.
Fortunately, however, this heroic self-
sacrifice was not to be made. At the last
house a street door was seen very cautiously
to open, while a head protruded from it.
Ceremony here was quite out of the question.
Walter instantly dashed into this welcome
haven of refuge, with Charley, now quite
spent, at his heels, overturning the man of the
house in their mad rush for safety. It took
but a moment to shut and bolt the door, and,
as if that was not enough, Walter braced his
back against it, panting and breathless.
Only when this was done, did the two friends
draw a free breath. Both were completely
Excited by the chase, enraged at seeing his
victims escaping, the bear snuffed the air,
pawed at the door, swayed his huge bulk to
210 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
and fro, and gave vent to his rage in loud and
unearthly roarings that could be heard by
every inhabitant of the village.
Meantime the man into whose premises the
two young men had so unceremoniously en-
tered, after taking a good look at the bear
out of the window, almost bent double in the
effort to control his laughter. " Why,
boys," said he, between fits of choking,
* that's Jem Stackpole's tame grizzly." He
had recognized the animal now holding them
besieged as one that had been taken when a
cub, and brought up by the landlord of the
public house from which the boys had made
their sudden exit, as an object of curiosity to
his guests. The iron collar which Bruin
still wore confirmed this account. It was
all plain enough now. Having contrived
to free himself from his chain, the bear had
easily gained access to the house by climb-
ing up the before-mentioned veranda bear-
fashion. He was considered quite harmless,
the man explained, but on seeing the young
GOING A -GUNNING 211
men run away the bear had run after them,
at first out of mere playfulness. So Walter
and Charley had been running a race with a
tame grizzly, through the public street of
the village, in broad daylight, in their night
By this time something of a crowd had col-
lected, all tongues going at once. The laugh
of course went against the boys, though some
were in favor of shooting the bear, and so put-
ting an end to his wild pranks. His master,
however, who now came forward with a pitch-
fork in one hand and an earthenware dish con-
taining a stiff mixture of whisky and honey in
the other, objected to having the bear killed,
although the creature was now so ferocious
that no one dared to go near him.
Setting the dish down upon the ground,
and silently waving the crowd back, the man
began calling the bear by his pet name of
u Rusty ' in a coaxing tone, and presently
Bruin, having scented the seductive mixture,
marched toward it and began lapping it up,
212 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
occasionally emitting a fierce growl by way
of notifying the bystanders to keep their dis-
By the time the dish was licked clean Bruin
was dead-drunk and rolling helplessly in
the dirt. His chain was then securely
fastened on, and the brute ignominiously
dragged off to the stable to sleep off his
Walter and Charley were compelled to bor-
row a pair of trousers apiece before they could
venture back to the public house, the observed
of all observers. Needless to say, they made
all haste to leave the inhospitable spot.
Upon calling for their bill, the land-
lord declared there was nothing to pay,
and, with a straight face, politely hoped
they would recommend his house to their
Walter insisted upon paying, but the land-
lord was firm. The fame of the tame-
bear hunt would attract customers to his
house, he said. Under the circumstances
GOING A-GUNNING 213
he could not think of making any charge
When they were well out of the village,
Charley, who had maintained a dogged si-
lence, suddenly turned to Walter and ex-
claimed, " I won't tell if you won't! '
" Don't be a ninny," was the curt reply.
" If I'd only had my rifle ! " muttered Char-
ley, who, all the same, could not forbear look-
ing backward every few minutes as they
The disconsolate pair made their way up
among the foothills, but neither seemed to
be in the right mood for keen sportsmen, or
else game was not so plenty as they had ex-
pected to find it. After Charley had blown
the nipple out of his rifle in firing at a coyote,
and Walter had shot half a dozen rabbits,
which, though wounded,succeeded in reaching
their holes and crawling into them, the twain
willingly turned their faces homeward.
Footsore and weary, but with appetites sharp-
ened by their long tramp, they were only too
2i 4 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
glad to set foot once again in the streets of the
city. With a brief " So long, Charley," " So
long, Walt," " Mum, you know," " Hope to
die," they separated to go their respective
THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
WHILE on his way to work on Saturday
morning, full of his own thoughts, Walter
could not help noticing the absence of the
usual bustle and movement in the streets. If
the shops had not been open, he would have
thought it was Sunday, instead of the last day
of the week. All business seemed to be at
a standstill. Merchants stood outside their
doors, glancing uneasily up and down the
street and from time to time holding whis-
pered talks with their neighbors. Every one
wore a sober face; every one seemed expect-
ing something to happen. But what was it?
What could it be?
Yesterday Walter would have passed along
the same streets hardly noticed. To-day he
wondered why everybody stared at him so.
216 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
Furbish was about starting off on his dray
when Walter reached the stand. He, too,
hardly replied when Walter gave him the cus-
tomary " Good-morning." What could it all
Suddenly the big bell on the plaza
thundered out three heavy strokes one,
two, three, and no more boom ! boom !
To the last day of his life Walter never
forgot the sight that followed. At the first
stroke of that deep-toned bell the strange
quiet burst its bounds. Those already in the
streets started off on the run for the plaza.
Those who were indoors rushed out, buckling
on their weapons as they ran. Workmen
threw down their tools to join in the race.
Furbish jumped off his dray, shouting to Wal-
ter as he ran, ' Come on ! Don't you hear
it? ' There w r as no noise except the tramp-
ling of feet. Nobody asked a question of his
neighbor. But every eye wore a look of grim
determination, as if some matter of life and
THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES 217
death dwelt in the imperious summons of that
After gazing a moment in utter bewilder-
ment, Walter started off on the run with the
rest. He, too, had caught the infection.
The distance was nothing. He found the
plaza already black with people. Beyond him,
above the heads of the crowd, he saw a glitter-
ing line of bayonets; nearer at hand men were
pouring out of a building at the right, with
muskets in their hands. Walter stood on tip-
toe. Some one was speaking to the crowd
from an open window fronting the plaza, but
Walter was too far off to catch a single word.
The vast throng was as still as death. Then
as the speaker put some question to vote, one
tremendous ' aye ' went up from a thou-
sand throats. It was the voice of an out-
raged people pronouncing the doom of
By the gleam of satisfaction on the faces
around him, Walter knew that something of
unusual moment had just been decided upon.
2 i8 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
Burning with curiosity he timidly asked his
nearest neighbor what it all meant. First
giving him a blank look the man addressed
curtly replied, " Get a morning paper," then
moved off with the crowd, which was already
dispersing, leaving the plaza in quiet posses-
sion of a body of citizen soldiers, with senti-
nels posted, and the strong arm of a new
power uplifted in its might. That power
\vas the dreaded Vigilantes, organized, armed,
and ready for the common protection.
Though terribly in earnest, it was by far
the most orderly multitude Walter remem-
bered ever having seen, and he had seen
many. In the newspaper he read what every-
body else already knew, that one of the most
prominent citizens had been brutally mur-
dered in cold blood by a well-known gambler,
in a crowded street and at an early hour of
the previous evening. The victim's only
provocation consisted in having spoken out
like a man against the monstrous evils under
which the law-abiding citizens had so long
THE YOUNG VIG IL ANTES 219
and so silently been groaning. This murder
was the last straw. The murderer had been
promptly taken by members of the secret
Committee of Vigilance; the trial had been
swift; and the hangman's noose was being
made ready for its victim. The account closed
with a burning appeal to all law-abiding
citizens, at every cost, to rid the city of the
whole gang of gamblers, thieves, and out-
laws infesting it like a plague. When the
sworn officers of the law are so notoriously
in league with such miscreants, nothing is left
for the people but to rise in their might.
Fox populi, vox Dei! Down with the
Charley and Bill were quietly eating their
noonday meal, when Walter burst into the
Argonaut's cabin in a state of wild excitement.
Without stopping to take breath, he rapidly
related what he had seen and heard that morn-
ing, while his listeners sat with wide-open
eyes until the tale was finished.
For a few moments the three friends stared
220 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
at each other in silence. Ever prompt, Char-
ley was the first to break it. Jumping to his
feet, he struck the haft of his knife on the
table with such force as to set the dishes
rattling, then waving it in the air he cried out
exultingly, " Now we've got him! ' As the
others made no reply except to look askance,
he went on to say, Don't you see that, foxy
as he is, Ramon will be smoked out of his
hole ? Didn't I tell you there would be hang-
ing before long? Why, there won't be one
of his kidney left in 'Frisco inside of a
" You're right," said Walter, " for as I
came along I saw men putting up posters
ordering all criminals out of the city, on pain
of being put on board an outbound vessel and
shipped off out of the country."
' Good enough for 'em, too. The heft
of 'em is Sydney Ducks an' ticket-o'-leave
men, anyhow," quoth Bill, with a shake of
* Hark! " commanded Walter, holding up
THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES 221
his hand for silence. Even as he spoke, the
deep tones of a bell came booming across the
water. At that moment the bodies of two
condemned murderers were swinging from
crossbeams from an upper window of the
" If we're ever going to catch that chap,
we'd better set about it before it's too late.
What's to hinder our working this Vigilante
business a little on our own hook? Nothing.
Who's going to ask any questions? Nobody.
Do you catch my idee? " questioned Charley.
Without more words the three friends has-
tened on shore, Walter leading the way to
his stand. They had agreed not to sepa-
rate again, and were busy talking over
their plans when a Chinaman came up to Wal-
ter and slipped a paper in his hand. Walter
ran his eye over it, then crushed it in his
hand. Turning to the Chinaman he simply
said, " All right, John; I'll be there."
" Allee light," repeated the Chinaman,
making off into the crowd.
222 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
Walter drew the heads of his two friends
close to his own. Then he whispered:
"What do you think? This is an order to
take some things from a certain house on
Dupont Street to a warehouse on Long
Wharf, at ten o'clock to-night. (Night
work's double pay.) I can't be mistaken.
The order is in his handwriting; I could
swear to it.
I consait we orter follow the Chinee,"
Bill suggested tentatively.
" No," objected Charley. " Prob'ly he'd
lead us a wild-goose chase all over town. If
Walter's right, we're hot on the scent now.
Don't muddy the water, I say. The eel's a
slippery cuss, and might wiggle away. Bill,
let's you and I go take a look at that ware-
house. Walt, don't you let on that you sus-
picion a thing. Why, you're all of a tremble,
man! Straighten out your face. Anybody
could read it like a book. Pull yourself to-
gether. Look at me ! By jings, I feel like a
fighting-cock just now ! "
THE YOUNG VIGILANTES 223
" What a bantam ! " muttered Bill, follow-
ing in Charley's springing footsteps.
At ten o'clock Walter was at the door of
the house on Dupont Street with his cart.
His knock was answered by the same China-
man who had brought him the note in the
morning. Several parcels were brought out
and placed in the cart, but still no sign of the
owner. The Chinaman then explained, in
his pigeon English, that this person would
meet Walter at the warehouse on the wharf,
for which place Walter immediately started,
revolving in his own mind whether this was
not some trick of Ramon's contriving to
throw him, Walter, off the scent.
Nobody appeared to answer Walter's
knock at the warehouse door. Evidently it
was deserted, but a low whistle gave notice
that Charley and Bill were close at hand.
Indeed, so well had they concealed themselves
that Walter had passed on without seeing
" Have you got the rope all right, Bill? '
224 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
Walter nervously whispered, as the three
crouched in the friendly shadow of a narrow
passageway, while waiting for their victim
to show himself.
" Sartin," that worthy calmly replied,
" and all I wish is that what's-his-name was
on one eend, and I on t'other."
" I don't half like this way of doing things;
looks too much like kidnapping," Walter
whispered, half to himself.
" Come, Walt, you're not going to show the
white feather now, after all this trouble, I
hope," Charley impatiently said. 'Ssh!
here he comes. It's now or never."
Sure enough, the sound of approaching
footsteps was now plainly heard. As Ramon
came nearer, walking fast, Bill, stepping out
of the shadows, slowly lurched along ahead,
cleverly imitating the zigzag walk of a tipsy
sailor no unusual sight at that time of night.
When Ramon had passed a few rods beyond
their hiding place, Charley quietly slipped out
behind him, taking care to tread as softly
THE YOUNG VIGILANTES 225
as one of Cooper's Indians on the warpath.
This plan had been carefully devised, for fear
that Ramon might give an alarm if they at-
tempted, all at once, to rush out upon him
unawares. They now held their intended
victim, as it were, between two fires.
At that hour the street was so lonely and
deserted that there was little fear of inter-
ruption, so Charley did not hurry. When
Bill had reached the place agreed upon,
where the street narrowed to a lane in which
not more than two persons could walk abreast,
he began to slacken his pace, so as to let Ra-
mon come up with him. As nothing could
be seen, at a few rods off, in that uncertain
light, the signal agreed upon was to be given
by Bill's striking a match, when Walter and
Charley were to come up as rapidly as pos-
As Ramon tried to push on by Bill, that
worthy placed himself squarely in the way,
pulled out his pipe, and gruffly demanded a
light. He acted his part so well as com-
226 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
pletely to disarm Ramon's suspicions, had he
At being thus suddenly brought to a stand,
Ramon attempted to shoulder Bill out of his
path, but on finding himself stoutly opposed,
he instinctively drew back a step.
" Refuse a gen'leman a light, does yer?
Want a whole street to yourself, does yer? '
sputtered Bill, obstinately holding his ground.
Ramon made a threatening movement.
" Shove! I dare ye, ye lubber," continued
the irate sailor, purposely raising his voice as
his companion came in sight. ' I'm a match
for you any day in the week," he grumbled,
striking a light as if to enforce the chal-
By the light of the match Bill instantly
recognized Ramon. At the same moment
Ramon saw that the speaker was a total
stranger. Charley barred the way behind
him. Ramon's first thought had been that
he was being waylaid by footpads and, in-
stinctively his hand went to his pistol; but as
THE YOUNG V I GIL ANTES 227
no demand was made for his valuables, he
quickly concluded it to be a chance encounter
with a couple of tipsy sailors. A street row
was the very thing he most dreaded. He
was in a fever to be off. Then the thought
struck him that perhaps he might turn
these fellows to his own advantage. So he
altered his tone at once. " Oh, it's all right,
lads," he said apologetically, " but one must
be careful in these times, you know ; and you
certainly did give me a start. Never mind.
If you've got a boat handy, I'll make this
the best night's work you ever did in the
whole course of your lives."
Charley, who had edged up closer, now
nudged Bill to hold his tongue. Speaking
thickly, Charley said: " If you wants a boat
we've got the one we was just goin' off in
aboard ship. She lays right here, just ahead
of us. If you come down han'some, we're
the lads you want. 'Nuff said."
Ramon was completely deceived. ' All
right, then. I've got some traps yonder.
228 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
They're waiting for me, I see. We'll get
them, and you can set me aboard the Fla-
mingo. Hurry up ! I've no time to lose."
Walter was nonplused when he saw the
trio approaching in so friendly a manner.
He was about to say something, when Char-
ley trod sharply on his foot to enforce silence.
All four then went down to the boat with
Ramon's luggage. After handing Walter a
gold piece, Ramon stepped lightly into the
boat, Bill shipped the oars, and Charley took
the tiller. Walter first cast off the painter,
gave the boat a vigorous shove, and then
leaped on board himself. He could not
make out what had happened to change their
plans, but this was no time for explanations.
Seeing the supposed cartman get into the
boat, it then first flashed upon Ramon that
he had been tricked. Half rising from his
seat, he made a movement as if to leap over-
board, but a big, bony hand dragged him
backward. Maddened to desperation, Ra-
mon then reached for his revolver, but before
THE YOUNG VIGILANTES 229
he could draw it, Walter threw his arms
around him, and held him fast in spite of his
struggles. Meantime Bill \vas taking two or
three turns round Ramon's body with a stout
rope, brought along for that very purpose,
and in a twinkling that worthy found himself
bound and helpless.
No word was spoken until the boat touched
the Argonaut's side. Thoroughly cowed,
shivering with cold and fright, Ramon's
terror was heightened by the thought that he
was being carried off to sea. As the black
hull of the Argonaut loomed up before him
the dreadful truth seemed to break upon him
clearly. Yes, there was no doubt of it: he
was being shanghaied, as the forcible kid-
naping of sailors was called.
Charley went up the side first. In a min-
ute he reappeared with a lighted lantern. A
dull numbness had seized Ramon. He did
not even attempt to cry out when Charley
called to the others, in a guarded undertone,
to " pass him along." Four stout arms then
2 3 o THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
lifted, or rather boosted, Ramon on board the
vessel, as limp and helpless as a dead man.
" I knew it," he groaned, with chatter-
ing teeth; "shanghaied, by all that's hor-
RAMON FINDS HIS MATCH
CHARLEY at once led the way into the
cabin. When all four had passed in he shut
the door, turned the key in the lock, and set
down the lantern on the table, when, by its
dim light, Ramon saw, for the first time, the
faces of his abductors. Stealing a quick
glance around him he met Walter's set face
and stern eye. The faces of the others gave
him as little encouragement. Greatly re-
lieved to find his worst fears unfounded, his
courage began to rise again. He met Wal-
ter's look with one of defiance, and inwardly
resolved to brazen it out. His life, he knew,
was safe enough. To show that he was not
afraid, he assumed a careless tone, as if he
looked upon the whole thing as a joke.
232 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
" You've got me, boys. But now youVe got
me, what do you want with me ? ' he de-
manded, twisting a cigarette in his trembling
" First," said Walter, a trifle unsteadily,
for the sight of his enemy was almost too
much for him, ' first we want you to sign
this paper," taking it out of his pocket. " It
is- -you can read it a full confession of your
robbery of Bright & Company." In spite of
his effrontery, Ramon could not help wincing
a little. Walter w r ent on without mercy,
' And of your clever little scheme to
throw suspicion on me as your accomplice."
Ramon merely gave a contemptuous little
shrug. ' And lastly, of what youVe
done with all the property you you
stole." Ramon scowled and gnawed his
Now that he knew the worst, Ramon be-
gan to bluster. " Oh, you shall smart for
this when I get on shore- -yes, all of you," he
declared hotly. " YouVe got the wrong pig
RAMON FINDS HIS MATCH 233
by the ear this time; yes, you have. As for
you," this to Bill, " you hoary-headed old vil-
lain, I'll have you skinned alive and hung up
by the heels for a scarecrow/'
Bill could hold in no longer. " Who said
anything about your goin' ashore, I'd like to
know?' he asked, in his bantering way.
You never 'd be missed, nohow. Here yer
be, and here you stop till we've done with
you. So none of your black looks nor cheap
talk. They won't pass here."
" Stop me if you dare ! It's abduction,
kidnaping, felony ! ' cried Ramon, glancing
fiercely from one face to the other. " I
despise you and your threats. Where are
your proofs? Where is your authority? '
" Ugly words those, big words. You
want proofs, eh ? What do you say to this ? '
Walter asked, in his turn, unfolding a hand-
bill before Ramon's eyes with one hand, while
with the other he held the lantern up so that
the accusing words, in staring print, might be
the more easily read:
234 THE YOUNG V I GIL ANTES
STOP THIEF! ! !
The above reward will be paid for the ap-
prehension of one Ramon Ingersoll, an ab-
This was followed by a detailed description
of his personal appearance.
Now will you sign ? ' Walter again de-
manded of the branded thief and fugitive
Ramon smiled a sickly smile. "Oh! it's
the reward you're after, is it? Hope you
may get it, that's all."
At this fresh insult two red spots flamed
up on Walter's cheeks. Ramon's dark eyes
sparkled at having so cleverly seen through
the motives of his captors.
Is that your last word? '
Before I'll sign that paper I'll rot right
You had better sleep on it," replied Wal-
ter, turning away.
RAMON FINDS HIS MATCH 235
" What! before s'archin' him for the steal-
in's? ' Bill asked, with well-feigned surprise,
at the same time critically looking Ramon
over from head to foot.
Ramon's hand went to his neckcloth, as if
already he felt the hangman's noose choking
him, the observant Bill meanwhile watching
him as a cat does a mouse. ' Come, my lad,
turn out your pockets," he commanded, in a
most business-like way.
Pale with anger, Ramon first pulled out a
leather pocket-book, which he threw upon the
table, with something that sounded very much
like a muttered curse, after which he folded
his arms defiantly across his chest. ' Now
youVe got it, much good may it do you," he
The pocket-book contained only a few
papers of little value to anybody.
What has become of all the money you
took? ' Walter demanded.
' Gone," was the curt reply.
" What ! gone ! You can't have spent it
236 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
all so soon. Think again. There must be
a trifle left."
Ramon shrugged his shoulders by way of
" Feel for his belt, Bill," Charley struck in.
Charley had been growing impatient for some
time over so much waste of words. Bill
hastened to take the hint.
"Hands off! I tell you, I'll not be
searched," shouted Ramon, carrying his
hands to the threatened spot like a flash. In
spite of his struggles, however, the belt,
which every one wore in that day, was secured,
and in it ten new fifty-dollar gold pieces were
found, and turned out upon the table. Again
Ramon's hand went to his neckcloth, nerv-
ously, tremblingly. In a twinkling Bill had
twitched that article off and tossed it to Wal-
ter. " Good's a belt, hain't it? " asked Bill
in answer to Walter's look. " I seed him
grabbin' at it twicet. S'arch it! s'arch it! '
Rolled up in a little wad, in the folds of
the neckerchief, they found two certificates of
Ramon made to give up his stealing's. Page 236.
RAMON FINDS HIS MATCH 237
deposit of a thousand dollars each, and in
another similar roll several notes of hand for
quite large sums, made payable to Bright &
Company, but with forged indorsements to a
third party, who, it is needless to say, was no
other than Ramon himself, who had thus
added forgery to his catalogue of crime.
Fortunately, his hurried departure had pre-
vented the negotiating of these notes, which
now furnished the most damning evidence of
" Now, then," said Walter, sweeping the
money and papers together in a heap, "we've
drawn his teeth, let him bite if he can."
At this cutting taunt, Ramon summoned to
his aid the remains of his fast-waning assur-
ance. " Oho ! my fine gentlemen, suppose
I'm all you say I am, if you take my money
you're as deep in the mud as I am in the mire ;
eh, my gallant highwaymen? " he hissed out.
" Enough of this. We shall take good
care of you to-night; but to-morrow we mean
to hand you over to the Vigilantes. You can
238 THE YOUNG VIGIL ANTES
then plead your own cause, Master Em-
bezzler." So saying, Walter pointed to a
stateroom opposite, to signify that the last
word had been said.
Ramon's face instantly turned of a sickly
pallor. As Bill afterwards said, " Walter's
threat took all the starch out of him." In a
broken voice he now pleaded for mercy. I
give it up. I'll confess. I'll sign all you say
anything if you'll promise not to give me
up to those bloodhounds," he almost whim-
pered. Truly, his craven spirit had at last
got the mastery.
Walter pretended to hesitate, but in truth
he \vas only turning over in his own mind how
best to dispose of Ramon. Hitherto the wish
for revenge had been strong within him, had
really gone hand-in-hand with that to see
wrong made right. But Ramon was now
only an object of pity, of contempt. The
confession was again placed before him with
the addition of a clause stating that the
money surrendered was the same he had taken
RAMON FINDS HIS MATCH 239
from his employers. He himself added the
words, " This is my free act and deed," after
which he signed his full name as if in a hurry
to have it over with. The two friends then
Walter put this precious document in his
pocket with a feeling of real triumph. At
last his good name would be vindicated before
all the world. Once again he could look any
man in the face without a blush. It seemed
almost too good to be true, yet there sat Ra-
mon cowering in a corner, while he, Walter,
held the damning proofs of the robbery in
his possession. No, it was not a dream.
Right was might, after all.
Instead of asking to be set at liberty, Ra-
mon now begged to be kept hid from the
dreaded Vigilantes. " Give me just money
enough to get away with, set me on shore
after dark, and I'll take my chances," he
pleaded. Only too glad to be well rid of
him, the three friends willingly agreed to this
proposal. After darkness had set in, Bill
24 o THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
pulled Ramon to a distant spot above the
town, among the sand dunes. Handing the
discomfited wretch his own pocket-book, \vith
the contents untouched, Bill gave him
this parting shot: Take it, and go to
Guinea ! If this is the last on ye, well an'
good, but it's my 'pinion there's more rascality
stowed away in that cowardly carkiss o'
yourn." Without replying, Ramon stole
away in the darkness, and was soon lost to
A SHARP RISE IN LUMBER
" ISN'T that the Sacramento boat? " asked
Charley, looking off in the direction of a
rapidly approaching bank of lights. " How
plainly we can hear the drumming of her big
paddles. Listen ! '
" If it is, she's all of two hours ahead of
time," was Walter's reply.
" Yes, it's the old Senator's day. She's
a traveler all the time, and to-night she has
the tide with her. Do you know, they say
she's made more money for her owners than
she could carry on one trip ? '
" Sho! You don't mean it."
True as you stand there."
They stood watching the Senator work her
way into her dock, when Charley suddenly
242 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
asked, What are you so glum about to-
1 1 was thinking what I would do if I had
a boatload of money."
1 Hope you may get it, that's all. Hark!
Ah, here's Bill back again."
By the way that Bill was rowing, he seemed
in a great hurry. Greatly to the surprise of the
two friends, he was closely followed up the
side by a stranger, to whom Bill lent a
helping hand as this person stumbled awk-
wardly to the deck. At first both Walter
and Charley thought it must be Ramon
' Hello ! what's up now? " both exclaimed
in one breath.
What's up? Lumber's up. Got any? '
answered a quick, sharp voice not at all like
As nobody spoke Bill made a hurried ex-
planation. * Sacramento's all burnt up, lock,
stock, and barrel. Boat's goin' right back
to-night. I seen her comin' lickety-split, fit
A SHARP RISE IN LUMBER 243
to bust her b'iler; so I kinder waited round
for the news. I heered this man askin' who
had lumber, so I jest mittened onto him, and
here he is."
" Whar's this yer lumber afloat or on
shore? " the newcomer impatiently demanded.
Afloat," Charley replied.
Good enough! How's it stowed: so's
it can be got at? '
" It's a whole cargo. Never been broken
"Good again! What sort is it? Can I see
" Come into the cabin and I'll get out the
manifest. You can't see anything till day-
"Burn the manifest!' returned the
stranger, still more impatiently. ' Daylight's
wuth dollars now. Show me the man can
tell what that thar lumber is, or isn't."
' I can," Walter put in, 'cause I saw it
" Then you're the very man I want. Talk
244 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
fast. I'm bound to go back on that thar
Thus urged, Walter began the inventory
on his fingers. There's six two-story
dwelling houses, all framed, ready to go up."
" Whoop-ee ! how big? '
1 About 24x36, high-studded, pitched roof,
luthern windows. The rest is building stuff
all of it sills, joists, rough and planed
boards, matched boards "
* Any shingles? " the impatient man broke
Yes, a big lot; and clapboards too."
Talk enough. Whar's the owner?'
You're talking to him now," said Charley
Well, then, I reck'n we'd better have a
little light on the subject, hadn't we?' the
Upon this hint Charley led the way to the
cabin, where the parties took a good look at
each other. The stranger glanced over the
manifest, laid a big, brawny hand upon it,
A SHARP RISE IN LUMBER 245
then, turning to Walter, but without betray-
ing surprise at his youthful appearance, said
pointedly, " Name your price, cash down,
stranger, for the lot. I'm here for a dicker."
Walter began a rapid mental calculation.
" Those houses are worth all of twenty-five
hundred apiece/' he declared, glancing at
" More," Charley assented positively.
" Wuth more for firewood," added Bill.
"Houses and all; all or none. How much
for the hull blamed cargo ? ' the stranger
again demanded, getting up to expectorate
in a corner.
" Lumber is lumber," observed Charley,
wrinkling his forehead in deep thought.
" Do I ask you to give it away? Name
your figure," the would-be purchaser insisted.
u Come up to the scratch. I've no time to
waste here palavering. What do you take
me for?' he added angrily.
Walter again had recourse to his mental
arithmetic. "Six times two fifty, fifteen;
24 6 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
lump the rest at ten ; freight money five, stor-
age five more, insurance five. Forty thou-
sand dollars! " he exclaimed desperately at a
venture, feeling the cold sweat oozing out all
" It's mine. I'll take it," said the stranger,
coolly suiting the action to the word by drag-
ging out of his coat pockets first one chuggy
bag of gold dust and then another, which he
placed before Walter on the table. " Here's
something to bind the bargain." Then, see-
ing Bill critically examining a pinch of the
dull yellow grains in the palm of his hand, he
added: "Oh! never fear! That's the real
stuff. You get the rest when that lumber's
delivered alongside Sacramento levee at my
expense. Talk fast. Is it a whack?"
' Hold on, stranger," cried the acute Char-
lay, pushing back the gold. " We don't agree
to no such thing, mister. We deliver it right
here from the ship."
The stranger smote the table with his
clenched fist. " Can't waste no time loading
A SHARP RISE IN LUMBER 247
and unloading," he declared; " that's half the
battle. I must have this cargo ahead of every-
body, up river. You say it's all loaded.
That's why I pay high for it. I don't care
shucks how you get it there ; so fix it somehow ;
for it's make or break with me this time.
" Why not tow her up and back, if he pays
for it?' Bill suggested.
The buyer caught as eagerly at the idea
as a drowning man does at a straw. ' Sartin.
Tow her up ! ' he exclaimed. " I hire the
boat and pay all expenses. How many hands
of you? Three. All right. You get ten
dollars apiece a day till the ship's unloaded."
The man's eagerness to buy his way
through all obstacles rather confused Walter,
who now turned inquiringly toward Bill.
' She draws nigh onto twenty feet this
blessed minute," Bill said in a doubtful under-
Why, the river is booming ! ' cried the
stranger, looking from one to the other, with
248 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
eager, restless eyes, as this unforeseen diffi-
culty presented itself to his mind.
Again Bill came to the rescue. " I'll tell
ye, mates, what we can do. Lash an empty
lighter on each side of her; that '11 lift her
some; then if she takes the ground, we might
break out cargo into the lighters, till she floats
The lumber speculator listened like one
who hears some one speaking in a strange
tongue. He, however, caught at Bill's idea.
" Yes, that's the how, shoah," he joyfully as-
sented. " I'll hire a towboat to-night, if
one's to be had in 'Frisco for money. I don't
know shucks 'bout these yer ships, but when
it comes to steamboats I reck'n I kin tell a
snag from a catfish."
" I think we may risk it, then," observed
Charley, who, as ship-keeper, felt all his re-
sponsibility for her safety.
Walter then drew up the contract in proper
form, after which it was duly signed, sealed,
A SHARP RISE IN LUMBER 249
" Now, then," resumed the stranger, " you
boys get everything good and ready for a
quick start. Thar's your dust. You play
fa'r with me, an' I'll play fa'r with you.
He then put off with Bill for the shore.
" Dirt cheap," said Charley, eying Walter
" Thrown away," groaned Walter peev-
ishly, by way of reply.
And to think that only the day before
the lumber would not have paid for the
A CORNER IN LUMBER
BY dint of hard work the Southern Cross
was got ready to cast off her moorings by the
time the tug came puffing up alongside, early
in the morning. They were soon under
weigh, but the ship's bottom was so foul that
she towed like a log.
Bill steered, while Charley and Walter
went forward to pass the word from the tug
or tend the hawser, as might be necessary.
It being smooth water here, in an hour or so
the tow passed out into San Pablo Bay, where
it met not only a stiff head wind, but a nasty
little choppy sea. That made towing slow
work, but by noon they were abreast of
Benicia and entering the Straits of Carquinez,
with old Monte Diablo peering down upon
them on the starboard hand.
A CORNER IN LUMBER 251
Beyond this point the tow steamed across
still another bay, for some fifteen miles more,
without mishap. They had now left the
coast mountains far behind, and were heading
straight for what seemed an endless waste of
tall reeds, through which both the Sacra-
mento and San Joaquin wind their way out
to the sea.
So far plenty of water and plenty of sea
room had been found. The worst was yet to
come. The young navigators, however,
pushed boldly on between the low mud-banks
without delay, feeling much encouraged by
their success thus far, and wishing to make
the most of the short two hours of daylight
remaining, after which the captain of the tug
declared it would be unsafe to proceed.
After seeing the ship tied up to the bank
for the night, the tug pushed on in search of
a wood-yard some miles farther on. It was
quite ten o'clock the next morning before the
boys saw her come puffing back around the
next bend of the river above. She had run so
252 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
far after wood, that the captain said he would
not risk putting back before daylight again.
All went smoothly until the middle of the
afternoon, when, to their great annoyance,
the ship suddenly brought up on a mud-bank,
where she stuck hard and fast. A hawser
was quickly carried out astern, at which the
tug pulled and hauled for some time to no
purpose. The Southern Cross would not
budge an inch.
It being evident that the ship would not
come off by that means, hatches were taken
off, the boys threw off their coats, and,
spurred on by Bill's report that he believed
the river was falling, all hands went to work
breaking out cargo into the lighters, as if
their very lives depended upon their haste.
It was now that Bill's foresight came in for
the warmest commendations, as without the
lighters the voyage must have ended then and
They worked on like beavers all the rest
of that afternoon, the tug giving an occasional
A CORNER IN LUMBER 253
pull at the hawser, without starting the ship
from her snug berth. They, therefore, made
themselves some coffee, and were talking the
situation over in no very happy frame of
mind, when a large, high-pressure steamboat
was seen heading down the river, half of
which she seemed pushing in front of her, and
dragging the other half behind. " Stand by
to haul away ! " shouted Bill, with quick pres-
ence of mind, to the men on the tug, running
aft to take another turn in the hawser. As
the steamer passed by, churning the muddy
water into big waves, the tug put on all steam,
the hawser straightened out as tense as iron,
the big ship gave a lazy lurch as a wave
struck her, and to the unspeakable delight of
all hands they found themselves once more
afloat and in deep water.
Although the ship was aground several
times after this, they were so lucky in getting
her off, that by noon of the third day the
Southern Cross lay snugly moored, stem and
stern, to a couple of live oaks at the Sacra-
254 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
mento levee. The first person to jump on
board was the purchaser himself, followed by
a gang of laborers, who had been waiting
only for the ship's arrival to set to work at
unloading her cargo. Meantime the boys set
about making all snug aboard, and then after
seeing the balance of the purchase money
weighed out, on a common counter-scale in the
cabin, they took turns in mounting guard
over what had been so fairly earned. In
plain truth, all three were fairly dazed by the
possession of so much wealth.
This duty of standing watch and watch kept
the friends from leaving the ship even for a
single moment, if indeed they had felt the
least desire to do so. In fact all that there
was left of the late bustling city was spread
out stark and grim before their wondering
eyes from the deck of the ship, and a dis-
mal sight it was. Acres of ground, so lately
covered with buildings so full of busy life,
\vere now nothing but a blackened waste of
smoldering rubbish. Here and there some
Arrival of the Southern Cross at Sacramento. Page 254.
i , t > j * ~ ' v X T
A CORNER IN LUMBER 255
solitary tree, scorched and leafless, lifted up its
skeleton branches as if in silent horror at the
surrounding desolation. Men, singly, or in
little groups, were moving about in the gray-
white smoke like so many uneasy specters.
Others were carefully poking among the rub-
bish for whatever of value might have
escaped the flames. But more strange than
all, even while the ruins were ablaze about
them, it was to see a gang of workmen busy
laying down the foundations for a new build-
ing. There was to be no sitting down in
sackcloth and ashes here. That was Califor-
All this time the lumber dealer was by great
odds the busiest man there. He was fairly
up to his ears in business, selling lumber, in
small parcels or great, from the head of a
barrel, to a perfect mob of buyers, who pushed
and jostled each other in their eagerness to
be first served. All were clamoring as loudly
for notice as so many Congressmen on a field-
day to the Speaker of the House. To this
256 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
horde of hungry applicants the lumberman
kept on repeating, " First come, first served.
Down with your dust." The man was mak-
ing a fortune hand over fist.
Scarcely had our boys the time to look
about them, when they were beset with offers
to lease or even to buy the ship outright.
One wanted her for a store, another for a
hotel, another for a restaurant, a saloon, and
so on. Men even shook pouches of gold-dust in
their faces, as an incentive to close the bargain
on the spot. As such a transaction had never
entered their heads, the three friends held a
hurried consultation over it. Charley firmly
held to the opinion that he had no right to
dispose of the ship without the owner's con-
sent, and that was something which could not
be obtained at this time. Walter was non-
committal. Bill was nothing if not practical.
Bill was no fool.
( Ef she goes back, what does she do?'
he asked, squinting first at one and then
at the other. " Why, she lays there to
A CORNER IN LUMBER 257
her anchors rottin', doin' nobody no good,"
' She won't eat or drink anything if she
does," Charley said rather ambiguously.
' Seems as though we ought to put her
back where we found her," Walter suggested,
in a doubtful sort of way.
' Settle it to suit yourselves," was Bill's
ready rejoinder. * But how does the case
stand? Here's a lot of crazy hombres e'en
a'most ready to fight for her. 'Twould cost
a fortin to get her ready for sea. Her bot-
tom's foul as a cow-yard; some of her cop-
per's torn oft; upper works rotten; she needs
calkin', paintin', new riggin', new "
" There, hold on ! ' cried Charley, laugh-
ing heartily at Bill's truly formidable cata-
logue of wants; u I give in. I vote to lease
the old barky by the month that is, if Walt
here thinks as I do."
" In for a penny, in for a pound," Walter
So the bargain was concluded before the
2 S 8 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
cargo was half out of the ship, so eager was
the lessee to get possession. Walter drew up
the lease, a month's rent was paid in advance,
and the thing was done.
" Well, now, boys, that's off our minds,"
said Charley gleefully; " my head's been turn-
ing round like a buzz-saw ever since this
thing's been talked about."
" And a good job, too, seein' as how we
skipped without a clearance," Bill put in
The two friends looked at him blankly,
then at each other. It was plain that no such
matter had ever entered their minds. Char-
ley gave a long, low whistle. " By George,
I never thought of that ! ' he exclaimed, in
great ill humor with Bill. " What '11 they
do to us?"
' No use cryin' over spilt milk," said that
worthy. ' Keep dark 's our lay. Didn't
Noah's Ark sail without a clearance, without
papers or flag, and for no port? ' he added.
" We ' cleared out,' as the sayin' is, with a
A CORNER IN LUMBER 259
vengeance," Charley remarked, trying to turn
the matter off with a joke.
" There's only one thing for us to do," said
Walter, " and that is to go right up to the
custom-house and explain matters to the col-
lector, when we get back to the Bay. Per-
haps he'll let us off with a fine, when he finds
we didn't mean to run away with the ship
and turn pirates."
The idea of turning the old, water-logged
Southern Cross into a pirate was so comical
that all three joined in a hearty laugh.
What to do with all their money was the
most perplexing question. They could
neither eat nor sleep for thinking of it. In
every face they saw a thief, every footstep
startled them. In their dilemma it was deter-
mined that the safer way would be to divide it
up between them. Three miner's belts were
therefore procured, and after locking them-
selves up in the cabin the three friends stuffed
these belts as full as they would hold with the
precious metal. But there was still a good-
260 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
sized pile left to be disposed of when this was
done, so Bill suggested sewing the remainder
in their shirts. At it they went, without
more words, sitting meantime in their trousers
and undershirts; and a truly comical sight
was this original sew T ing circle, stitching away
for dear life under lock and key.
But even when this operation was finished,
a heap of the shining metal still lay on the
table before them. All were so weighed
down with what they had about them that
they waddled rather than walked. Bill de-
clared that if anything happened to the boat
at their returning they would all sink to the
bottom like so much lead. While thus at their
wits' end, Charley's eagle eye chanced to fall
upon an old fowling piece hung up by some
hooks in the cabin. This was quickly torn from
its resting place, the charges drawn, and while
the others looked on in silent wonder Char-
ley filled both barrels with gold dust, after
which the muzzles were tightly fitted with
corks. " She's loaded for big game. We
A CORNER IN LUMBER 261
take turns carryin' her, don't you see?' he
remarked with a broad grin.
Towards dusk the trio took passage on
board the first boat bound for the Bay, nor did
they feel themselves wholly safe with their
treasure until they once more trod the deck of
the old Argonaut, fairly worn out with a week
of such rapidly shifting fortunes as no one but
an old Californian has ever experienced.
The three inseparables were snugly rolled
up in their blankets, Bill loudly snoring in his
bunk, when the distant booming of a gun
caused Walter to raise his head and say
drowsily, '' Hello! a steamer's in."
" I don't care if there's twenty steamers,"
Charley yaw r ned, at the same time burying
his nose still deeper under his blanket; 'I
was almost gone and now you've made me
begin all over again. All ashore that's goin'
HEARTS OF GOLD
MR. BRIGHT came in that steamer. As
Walter's letter seemed to hold out fair hopes
of recovering some part of the Southern Cross
and her cargo, the merchant had decided to
look into the matter himself, though in truth
both he and his partners had long regarded
the venture as a dead loss.
Had he suddenly dropped from the clouds,
the Argonaut's little company could not have
been more astonished than when the merchant
stepped on deck, smiling benignantly at the
evident consternation he thus created.
After a hearty greeting all round, though
poor Walter turned all colors at the remem-
brance of how and where they had last met,
Mr. Bright began by explaining that he had
HEARTS OF GOLD 263
found them out through the consignee of the
Southern Cross. ' But where in the world
is the Southern Cross?' he asked. " Here
has the boatman been rowing me around for
the last hour, trying to find her. Nothing
has happened to her, I hope," he hastily
added, observing the friends exchanging sly
This question, of course, led to an explana-
tion from Walter, during which the old mer-
chant's face was a study. His first look of
annoyance soon changed to one of blank
amazement, finally settling down into a broad
smile of complete satisfaction when the story
was all told. Then he shook his gray head
as if the problem was quite too knotty for him
to solve, how these boys, hardly out of their
teens, should have dared, first to engage in
such a brilliant transaction, and then have suc-
ceeded in carrying it through to the end with-
out a hitch.
" Pretty well for beginners, I must say,"
he finally declared. u Taken altogether that's
264 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
about the boldest operation I ever heard of,
and IVe known a few in my experience as a
business man. But," looking at Walter,
" where's all this money? Quite safe, I
By way of answer, the young men brought
out their treasure from various ingenious
hiding-places, the fowling piece included.
When all the belts and parcels of dust were
piled in a heap on the table, Mr. Bright sat
for some time with his hand over his eyes with-
out speaking. What the merchant's thoughts
were it were vain to guess. Finally he said,
You seem to have done everything for the
best. Bill here was quite right about the
ship. She is earning something where she is,
at least. Now about the cargo? ' turning to
Walter; " I think you said in your letter that
Charley here bought half of that in?'
Walter gave a nod of assent.
"Why, then," resumed Mr. Bright, "as
the other half belongs to his partner, I don't
see that we've anything to do with this money.
HEARTS OF GOLD 265
Perhaps we may compromise as to the ship,"
he added, looking at Charley.
Charley then explained his agreement with
his partner, who had so mysteriously disap-
peared. " I sold out to Walter. Settle it
with him," he finished, jamming his hands
in his pockets and turning away.
"Well, then, Walter, what do you say?'
" I say that Charley ought to have half
the profits. Why, when I wrote you, the
lumber was worthless. Besides, Charley did
all the business. Settle it with him."
' I see. The situation was changed from
a matter of a few hundreds to thousands
shortly after your letter was written." Walter
nodded. " And you don't care to take ad-
vantage of it?' Walter simply folded his
arms defiantly. ' But between you you saved
the cargo," the merchant rejoined. " We've
no claim. You must come to terms. Was
there no writing? '
Walter scowled fiercely at Charley, who,
notwithstanding, immediately produced his
266 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
copy of the agreement. The merchant
glanced over it with a smile hovering on his
Why, this is perfectly good," he declared.
Well, then, as neither of you has a proposi-
tion to make, I'll make you one. Perhaps
Walter here felt under a moral obligation to
look after our interests in spite of the unjust
treatment he had received. That I can now
understand, and I ask his pardon. But you,
Charles, had no such inducement."
1 No inducement ! ' Charley broke out,
with a quivering lip; "no inducement, heh,
to see that boy righted? " he repeated, strug-
gling hard to keep down the lump in his
( Axin' pardons don't mend no broken
crockery," observed Bill gruffly.
Mr. Bright showed no resentment at this
plain speech. He sat wiping his glasses in
deep thought. Perhaps there was just a little
moisture in his own eyes, over this evidence of
two hearts linked together as in bands of steel.
HEARTS OF GOLD 267
The silence was growing oppressive, when
Walter nerved himself to say: ( You see, sir,
Charley and me, we are of one mind. As for
me, I'm perfectly satisfied to take what I put
in to fit Charley out, provided you pay him
back his investment, and what's right for his
and Bill's time and trouble."
Charley coughed a little at this liberal pro-
posal, but Walter signed to him to keep quiet.
Bill grunted out something that might pass
But Mr. Bright was not the man to take
advantage of so much generosity. In truth,
he had already formed in his own mind a plan
by which to come to an agreement. Chang-
ing the subject for the moment, he suddenly
asked, ' By the way, have you never heard
anything of Ramon? '
At this unexpected question a broad grin
stole over the faces of the three kidnapers.
' I was coming to that," Walter replied,
bringing out from his chest the money and
papers which Ramon had been so lately com-
268 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
pelled to disgorge. The merchant took them
in his hands, ran his eye rapidly over them,
and exclaimed in astonishment, What! did
he make this restitution of his own accord?
Wonders will never cease, I declare."
"Well, no, sir, not exactly that; the truth
is, he was a trifleobstinate about it at first, but
we found a way to persuade him. That con-
fession was signed in the very same chair you
are now sitting in."
Mr. Bright again said, with a sigh of deep
satisfaction, ' Marvelous ! We shall now
pay everything we owe, except our debt to
you, Walter; that we can never pay."
' If my good name is cleared, I'm perfectly
satisfied," Walter rejoined, a little nervously,
yet with a feeling that this was the happiest
day of his life.
i And his good name, too, why don't you
say?' interrupted the matter-of-fact Bill,
from his corner. " Seems to me that's about
the size of it," he finished, casting a meaning
look at the dignified old merchant, who sat
HEARTS OF GOLD 269
there twiddling his glasses, clearly oppressed
by the feeling that, as between himself
and Walter, Walter had acted the nobler
part. He could hardly control a slight
tremor in his voice when he began to speak
" I see how it is," he said. " You return
good for evil. It was nobly done, I grant
you nobly done. But you must not wonder
at my surprise, for I own I expected nothing of
the sort. Still, all the generosity must not
be on one side. By no means. Since I've
sat here I've been thinking that now we are
embarked in the California trade, we couldn't
do better than to start a branch of the concern
in this city. Now, don't interrupt," raising
an admonitory hand, ' until you hear me
through. If you, Walter, and you, Charles,
in whom I have every confidence if you two
will accept an equal partnership, your actual
expenses to be paid at any rate, we will put
all the profits of this lumber trade of yours
into the new house to start with. Suppose
2 7 o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
we call it Bright, Seabury & Company. Fix
that to suit yourselves, only my name ought
to stand first, I think, because it will set Wal-
ter here right before the world."
Neither Walter nor Charley could have
said one word for the life of him, so much
were they taken by surprise. Bill's eyes
fairly bulged out of his shaggy head. Mr.
Bright went on to say, " With our credit re-
stored, we can send you all the goods you
may want. Suppose we now go and deposit
this money one-half to the new firm's credit,
one half in trust for Charles' former partner.
I myself will put a notice of the copartner-
ship in to-morrow's papers, and as soon as I
get home in the Boston papers, and I should
greatly like to see the new sign up before I
It was a long speech, but never was one
listened to with more rapt attention. Char-
ley turned as red as a beet, Walter hung his
head, Bill blew his nose for a full half-
HEARTS OF GOLD 271
Where does Bill come in ? " he demanded,
with a comical side glance at the merchant.
His question, with the long face he put on,
relieved the strain at once.
" Oh, never fear, old chap; you shall have
my place and pay on the old ship," Charley
hastened to assure him.
" Then you accept," said Mr. Bright, shak-
ing hands with each of the new partners in
turn. " Something tells me that this is the
best investment of my life. The papers shall
be made out to-day, while we are looking up
a store together. Really, now, I feel as if I
ought to give a little dinner in honor of the
new firm long life and prosperity to it!
Where shall it be? "
" What ails this 'ere old ship where the
old house came to life agin, an' the new
babby wuz fust born inter the world?" was
Bill's ready suggestion.
' Capital ! couldn't be better," exclaimed
the merchant. " And now," taking out his
notebook, " tell me what I can do for each of
2 7 2 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
you personally when I get back to the
Walter spoke first. " Please look up my
old aunty, and see her made comfortable."
Mr. Bright jotted down the address with an
approving nod, then looked up at Charley.
" Send out a couple of donkey engines;
horses are too slow."
Mr. Bright then turned to Bill.
" Me? Oh, well, I've got no aunt, I've no
use for donkeys. You might lick that sneak-
in' perleeceman on the wharf an' send me his
When the two young men took leave of
Mr. Bright, on board the John L. Stephens,
after a hearty hand-shaking all round, that
gentleman gave them this parting advice :
' Make all the friends you can, and keep
them if you can. Remember, nothing is
easier than to make enemies."
At a meaning look from Walter, Charley
withdrew himself out of earshot. Walter
fidgeted a little, blushed, and then managed to
HEARTS OF GOLD 273
ask, ' Have I your permission to write to
Miss Dora, sir? "
Mr. Bright looked surprised, then serious,
then amused. ' Oho ! now I begin to catch
on. That's how the land lies, is it? So that
was the reason why you were prowling around
our house one night after dark, was it? Well,
well ! Certainly you may write to Dora.
And by the way, when next you pass through
our street you may ring the doorbell."
BRIGHT, SEABURY & COMPANY
THUS the new firm entered upon its future
career with bright prospects. A suitable
warehouse on the waterfront was leased for a
term of years. True to their determination
to stick together, the two junior partners fitted
up a room in the second story, and on the day
that the doors were first opened for business
they moved in. The next thing was to get
some business to do.
Charley had a considerable acquaintance
among the ranchmen across the Bay, which he
now improved by making frequent trips to
solicit consignments of country produce.
The sight of an empty store and bare walls
was at first depressing, but their first shipments
from the East could not be expected for sev-
BRIGHT, SEABVRY &T COMPANY 275
eral months. There was a sort of tacit under-
standing that Walter should attend to the
financial end of the business, while Charley
took care of the outdoor concerns. They
were no longer boys. The sense of assumed
responsibilities had made them men.
The two partners were busy receiving a
sloop-load of potatoes, with their shirt
sleeves rolled up, when a big, burly, be-
whiskered individual dropped in upon them.
Scenting a customer, Charley, always for-
ward, briskly asked what they could do for
" I want to see the senior partner. 1 '
Charley nodded toward Walter, who was
checking off the weights.
The man gave a quick look at the tall,
straight young fellow before him, then said,
u Can I speak to you in private for five
minutes ? '
" Come this way," Walter replied, show-
ing the stranger into the little office.
The newcomer sat down, crossed one leg
2 76 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
over the other, stroked his long beard reflec-
tively a little, and said, " I've come on a
very confidential matter. Can I depend upon
the strictest privacy?'
" You may," said Walter, quite astonished
at this rather unexpected opening. ' No-
body will interrupt us here."
The man cast an inquisitive look around,
as if to make sure there were no eaves-
droppers near, then, lowering his voice almost
to a whisper, said pointedly, You may have
heard something about a plan to aid the poor,
oppressed natives of Nicaragua to throw off
the tyrannical yoke of their present rulers? '
' I've seen something to that effect in the
papers," said Walter evasively.
' So much the better. That clears the
way of cobwebs. I want your solemn prom-
ise that what passes between us shall not be
divulged to a human being."
1 1 have no business secrets from my part-
ners," Walter objected.
" Your partners ! Oh ! of course not."
BRIGHT, SEA BURY &f COMPANY 277
" I've already promised," Walter assented,
more and more mystified by the stranger's
manner. " Nobody asked you for your
secrets. You can do as you like about telling
them," he continued rather sharply.
" I'll trust you. You are a young concern.
Well connected. Bang-up references. Likely
to get on top of the heap, and nat'rally want
to make a strike. Nothing like seizing upon
a golden opportunity. There is a tide '
you know the rest. Now, I'm just the man
to put you in the way of doing it, as easy as
rolling off a log."
As Walter made no reply, the visitor, after
waiting a moment for his words to take effect,
went on : " Now, listen. I don't mind telling
you, in the strictest confidence, then, that I'm
fiscal agent for this here enterprise. I'm in
it for glory and the diner o. We want some
enterprising young firm like yours to furnish
supplies for the emigrants we're sending down
there," jerking his head toward the south.
" There's a big pile in it for you, if you
2 78 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
will take hold with us and see the thing
Walter kept his eyes upon the speaker, but
" You see, it's a perfectly legitimate trans-
action, don't you ? ' resumed the fiscal agent
a little anxiously.
" Then why so much secrecy? '
" Oh ! there's always a lot of people pry-
ing round into what don't concern them.
Busybodies! If it gets out that our people
aren't peaceable emigrants before we're good
and ready, the whole thing might get knocked
into a cocked hat. They'd say well, they
even might call us filibusters," the man ad-
mitted with an injured air.
Walter smiled a knowing smile. " What
do you want us to do ? ' he asked.
In the first place, we want cornmeal, hard
bread, bacon, potatoes, an' sich, for a hundred
and fifty men for two months. I can give
you the figures to a dot," the agent rejoined,
on whom Walter's smile had not been lost.
BRIGHT, SEABURY &f COMPANY 279
" See here." He drew out of his pocket a
package of freshly printed bonds, purporting
to be issued by authority of the Republic of
Nicaragua, and passed them over for Wal-
ter's inspection. " Now, the fact is, we want
all our ready funds for the people's outfit,
advance money, vessel's charter, and so on.
Now, I'm going to be liberal with you. I'll
put up this bunch of twenty thousand dollars
in bonds, payable on the day Nicaragua is
free, for five thousand dollars' worth of pro-
visions at market price. Think of that!
Twenty thousand dollars for five thousand
dollars. You can't lose. We've got things
all fixed down there. Why, man, there's sil-
ver and gold and jewels enough in the
churches alone to pay those bonds ten times
over ! '
" What ! rob the churches ! ' Walter ex-
claimed, knitting his brows.
" Why, no; I believe they call that merely
a forced loan nowadays," objected the fiscal
agent in some embarrassment.
2 8o THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
Seeing that he paused for a reply, Walter
observed that he would consult his partner.
Charley was called in and the proposal gone
over again with him. As soon as advised of
its purport he turned on his heel.
" Not any in mine," was his prompt de-
" Mine either," assented Walter.
The stranger seemed much disappointed,
but not yet at the end of his resources.
" Well, then," he began again, " you take the
bonds, sell them for a fair discount for cash,
and use the proceeds towards those pro-
'Hadn't you better do that yourself?
We're not brokers. We're commission mer-
chants. If you come to us with cash in hand
we'll sell you anything money will buy, and
no questions asked; but Nicaragua bonds,
payable any time and no time, are not in our
line." So said Walter.
' Not much," echoed Charley.
" Your line seems to be small potatoes,"
BRIGHT, SEABURY & COMPANY 281
muttered the stranger testily. Then quickly
checking himself, he carelessly asked, " I sup-
pose you'd have no objection to keeping these
bonds in your safe for a day or two for me,
giving me a receipt for them, or the equiva-
lent? I don't feel half easy about carrying
them about with me."
" Why, no," said Charley, looking at Wal-
ter, to see how he would take it.
" Yes," objected Walter, " most de-
"'No;' 'yes;' who's boss here, any-
how?' sneered the agent, dimissing his
wheedling tone, now that he had played his
last card. Even Charley seemed a trifle
nettled at being snubbed by Walter in the
presence of a stranger. After all, it seemed a
trifling favor to ask of them.
" My partner and I can settle that matter
between ourselves. Once for all, we don't
choose to be mixed up in your filibustering
schemes in any way. Your five minutes have
grown to three-quarters of an hour already.
282 THE YOUNG VI GIL ANTES
This is our busy day," he concluded, as a
broad hint to the stranger to take leave, and
" Very well," said the unmoved fiscal agent,
buttoning up his coat. " But you'll repent,
all the same, having thrown away the finest
opportunity of making a fortune ever
" This way out, sir," Charley interrupted,
throwing wide the office door.
When the strange visitor had gone Char-
ley asked Walter why he refused to let
the bonds be put in the safe. ' Now we've
made an enemy," he said resignedly.
To let him raise money on that receipt for
twenty thousand dollars, or equivalent on
Mr. Bright's name? No, sir-ee. Where
were your wits, Charles Wormwood? That
fellow's a sharper ! '
' Guess I'd better attend to those pota-
toes," was all the junior partner could find to
say, suiting the action to the word.
As was quite natural, much curiosity was
BRIGHT, SEA BURY fcf COMPANY 283
felt as to what had become of Ramon, by his
former business associates. In some way he
had found out that Mr. Bright was in San
Francisco, and taking counsel of his fears of
being sent back to Boston as a confessed felon,
he cast his Jot among the most lawless adven-
turers of the day. Learning that a filibuster-
ing expedition was being fitted out at San
Francisco against Lower California, under
command of Walker, the " Gray-eyed Man of
Destiny," Ramon joined it, keeping in hiding
meanwhile, until the vessel was ready to sail.
As is well known, the affair was a complete
failure, Walker's famished band being com-
pelled to surrender to the United States
officers at San Diego. From this time Ra-
Some five years later a young man, ruddy-
cheeked, robust, and well though not fop-
pishly dressed, drove up to the door of a
pretty cottage in one of the most fashionable
suburbs of Boston. Alighting from his
2 8 4 THE YOUNG VIGILANTES
buggy and hitching his horse, he walked
quickly up the driveway to the house. The
front door flew open by the time he had put
his hand on the knob; and a young woman,
with the matchless New England pink and
white in her cheeks, called out, Why, Wal-
ter, what brings you home so early to-day?
Has anything happened? '
Yes, Dora; Charles Wormwood is com-
ing out to dine with us to-day. He only ar-
rived to-day overland. I want to show him
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