The Mucker by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 2 out of 8
of the mate Billy Byrne withdrew a huge revolver from Theriere's
"I guess I'll need dis gat in my business purty soon," he
Then he planted a vicious kick in the face of the unconscious
man and went his way to the forecastle.
"Now maybe she'll tink Billy Byrne's a coward," he
thought, as he disappeared below.
Barbara Harding stood speechless with shock at the brutality
and ferocity of the unexpected attack upon Theriere. Never
in all her life had she dreamed that there could exist upon the
face of the earth a thing in human form so devoid of honor,
and chivalry, and fair play as the creature that she had just
witnessed threatening a defenseless woman, and kicking an
unconscious man in the face; but then Barbara Harding had
never lived between Grand Avenue and Lake Street, and
Halsted and Robey, where standards of masculine bravery are
strange and fearful.
When she had recovered her equanimity she hastened to the
head of the cabin companionway and called aloud for help.
Instantly Skipper Simms and First Officer Ward rushed on
deck, each carrying a revolver in readiness for the conflict
with their crew that these two worthies were always expecting.
Barbara pointed out the still form of Theriere, quickly
explaining what had occurred.
"It was the fellow Byrne who did it," she said. "He has
gone into the forecastle now, and he has a revolver that he
took from Mr. Theriere after he had fallen."
Several of the crew had now congregated about the
"Here you," cried Skipper Simms to a couple of them; "you
take Mr. Theriere below to his cabin, an' throw cold water in
his face. Mr. Ward, get some brandy from my locker, an' try
an' bring him to. The rest of you arm yourselves with crowbars
and axes, an' see that that son of a sea cook don't get
out on deck again alive. Hold him there 'til I get a couple of
guns. Then we'll get him, damn him!"
Skipper Simms hastened below while two of the men were
carrying Theriere to his cabin and Mr. Ward was fetching the
brandy. A moment later Barbara Harding saw the skipper
return to the upper deck with a rifle and two revolvers. The
sailors whom he had detailed to keep Byrne below were
gathered about the hatchway leading to the forecastle. Some
of them were exchanging profane and pleasant badinage with
"Yeh better come up an' get killed easy-like;" one called
down to the mucker. "We're apt to muss yeh all up down
there in the dark with these here axes and crowbars, an' then
wen we send yeh home yer pore maw won't know her little
boy at all."
"Yeh come on down here, an' try mussin' me up," yelled
back Billy Byrne. "I can lick de whole gang wit one han' tied
"De skipper's gorn to get his barkers, Billy," cried Bony
Sawyer. "Yeh better come up an' stan' trial if he gives yeh the
"Stan' nothin'," sneered Billy. "Swell chanct I'd have wit
him an' Squint Eye holdin' court over me. Not on yer life,
Bony. I'm here, an' here I stays till I croaks, but yeh better
believe me, I'm goin, to croak a few before I goes, so if any
of you ginks are me frien's yeh better keep outen here so's yeh
won't get hurted. An' anudder ting I'm goin' to do afore I
cashes in--I'm goin' to put a few of dem ginks in de cabin
wise to where dey stands wit one anudder. If I don't start
something before I goes out me name's not Billy Byrne."
At this juncture Skipper Simms appeared with the three
weapons he had gone to his cabin to fetch. He handed one to
Bony Sawyer, another to Red Sanders and a third to a man
by the name of Wison.
"Now, my men," said Skipper Simms, "we will go below
and bring Byrne up. Bring him alive if you can--but bring
No one made a move to enter the forecastle.
"Go on now, move quickly," commanded Skipper Simms
"Thought he said 'we'," remarked one of the sailors.
Skipper Simms, livid with rage, turned to search out the
offender from the several men behind him.
"Who was that?" he roared. "Show me the blitherin' swab.
Jes' show him to me, I tell you, an I'll learn him. Now you,"
he yelled at the top of his voice, turning again to the men he
had ordered into the forecastle after Billy Byrne, "you cowardly
landlubbers you, get below there quick afore I kick you
Still no one moved to obey him. From white he went to
red, and then back to white again. He fairly frothed at the
mouth as he jumped up and down, cursing the men, and
threatening. But all to no avail. They would not go.
"Why, Skipper," spoke up Bony Sawyer, "it's sure death for
any man as goes below there. It's easier, an' safer, to starve
"Starve nothin'," shrieked Skipper Simms. "Do you reckon
I'm a-goin' to sit quiet here for a week an' let any blanked
wharf rat own that there fo'c's'le just because I got a lot o'
white-livered cowards aboard? No sir! You're a-goin' down
after that would-be bad man an' fetch him up dead or alive,"
and with that he started menacingly toward the three who
stood near the hatch, holding their firearms safely out of range
of Billy Byrne below.
What would have happened had Skipper Simms completed
the threatening maneuver he had undertaken can never be
known, for at this moment Theriere pushed his way through
the circle of men who were interested spectators of the
"What's up, sir?" he asked of Simms. "Anything that I can
help you with?"
"Oh!" exclaimed the skipper; "so you ain't dead after all,
eh? Well that don't change the looks of things a mite. We
gotta get that man outa there an' these flea-bitten imitations of
men ain't got the guts to go in after him."
"He's got your gun, sir," spoke up Wison, "an' Gawd
knows he be the one as'ud on'y be too glad for the chanct to
"Let me see if I can't handle him, sir," said Theriere to
Skipper Simms. "We don't want to lose any men if we can
The skipper was only too glad to welcome this unexpected
rescue from the predicament in which he had placed himself.
How Theriere was to accomplish the subjugation of the mutinous
sailor he could not guess, nor did he care so long as it
was done without risk to his own skin.
"Now if you'll go away, sir," said Theriere, "and order the
men away I'll see what I can do."
Skipper Simms did as Theriere had requested, so that
presently the officer stood alone beside the hatch. Across the
deck, amidships, the men had congregated to watch Theriere's
operations, while beyond them stood Barbara Harding held
fascinated by the grim tragedy that was unfolding before her
upon this accursed vessel.
Theriere leaned over the open hatch, in full view of the
waiting Byrne, ready below. There was the instant report of a
firearm and a bullet whizzed close past Theriere's head.
"Avast there, Byrne!" he shouted. "It's I, Theriere. Don't
shoot again, I want to speak to you."
"No monkey business now," growled the mucker in reply.
"I won't miss again."
"I want to talk with you, Byrne," said Theriere in a low
tone. "I'm coming down there."
"No you ain't, cul," returned Byrne; "leastways yeh ain't
a-comin' down here alive."
"Yes I am, Byrne," replied Theriere, "and you don't want
to be foolish about it. I'm unarmed. You can cover me with
your gun until you have satisfied yourself as to that. I'm the
only man on the ship that can save your life--the only man
that has any reason to want to; but we've got to talk it over
and we can't talk this way where there's a chance of being
overheard. I'll be on the square with you if you will with me,
and if we can't come to terms I'll come above again and you
won't be any worse off than you are now. Here I come," and
without waiting for an acceptance of his proposition the
second officer of the Halfmoon slipped over the edge of the
hatchway and disappeared from the sight of the watchers
That he was a brave man even Billy Byrne had to admit,
and those above who knew nothing of the relations existing
between the second mate and the sailor, who had so recently
felled him, thought that his courage was little short of
marvelous. Theriere's stock went up by leaps and bounds
in the estimation of the sailors of the Halfmoon, for degraded
though they were they could understand and appreciate
physical courage of this sort, while to Barbara Harding the
man's act seemed unparalleled in its utter disregard of the
consequences of life and death to himself that it entailed. She
suddenly was sorry that she had entertained any suspicions
against Theriere--so brave a man could not be other than the
soul of honor, she argued.
Once below Theriere found himself covered by his own
revolver in the hands of a very desperate and a very unprincipled
man. He smiled at Byrne as the latter eyed him suspiciously.
"See here, Byrne," said Theriere. "It would be foolish for
me to say that I am doing this for love of you. The fact is
that I need you. We cannot succeed, either one of us, alone. I
think you made a fool play when you hit me today. You
know that our understanding was that I was to be even a
little rougher with you than usual, in order to avoid suspicion
being attached to any seeming familiarity between us, should
we be caught conferring together. I had the chance to bawl
you out today, and I thought that you would understand that
I was but taking advantage of the opportunity which it
afforded to make it plain to Miss Harding that there could be
nothing other than hatred between us--it might have come in
pretty handy later to have her believe that.
"If I'd had any idea that you really intended hitting me
you'd have been a dead man before your fist reached me,
Byrne. You took me entirely by surprise; but that's all in the
past--I'm willing to let bygones be bygones, and help you out
of the pretty pickle you've got yourself into. Then we can go
ahead with our work as though nothing had happened. What
do you say?"
"I didn't know yeh was kiddin," replied the mucker, "or I
wouldn't have hit yeh. Yeh acted like yeh meant it."
"Very well, that part's understood," said Theriere. "Now
will you come out if I can square the thing with the skipper
so's you won't get more than a day or so in irons--he'll have
to give you something to save his own face; but I promise that
you'll get your food regularly and that you won't be beaten
up the way you were before when he had you below. If he
won't agree to what I propose I give you my word to tell you
"Go ahead," said Billy Byrne; "I don't trust nobody wen I
don't have to; but I'll be dinged if I see any other way out of
Theriere returned to the deck and seeking out the skipper
drew him to one side.
"I can get him up peaceably if I can assure him that he'll
only get a day or so in the cooler, with full rations and no
beatings. I think, sir, that that will be the easiest way out of it.
We cannot spare a man now--if we want to get the fellow
later we can always find some pretext."
"Very well, Mr. Theriere," replied the skipper, "I'll leave the
matter entirely in your hands--you can do what you want
with the fellow; it's you as had your face punched."
Theriere returned immediately to the forecastle, from which
he presently emerged with the erstwhile recalcitrant Byrne, and
for two days the latter languished in durance vile, and that
was the end of the episode, though its effects were manifold.
For one thing it implanted in the heart of Theriere a personal
hatred for the mucker, so that while heretofore his intention of
ridding himself of the man when he no longer needed him was
due purely to a matter of policy, it was now reinforced by a
keen desire for personal revenge. The occurrence had also had
its influence upon Barbara Harding, in that it had shown her
Mr. Theriere in a new light--one that reflected credit upon
him. She had thought his magnanimous treatment of the sailor
little short of heroic; and it had deepened the girl's horror of
Billy Byrne until it now amounted to little short of an obsession.
So vivid an impression had his brutality made upon her
that she would start from deep slumber, dreaming that she
was menaced by him.
After Billy was released for duty following his imprisonment,
he several times passed the girl upon deck. He noticed
that she shrank from him in disgust and terror; but what
surprised him was that instead of the thrill of pride which he
formerly would have felt at this acknowledgment of his toughness,
for Billy prided himself on being a tough, he now felt a
singular resentment against the girl for her attitude, so that he
came to hate her even more than he had before hated.
Formerly he had hated her for the things she stood for, now
he hated her for herself.
Theriere was often with her now, and, less frequently,
Divine; for at the second officer's suggestion Barbara had not
acquainted that gentleman with the fact that she was aware of
"It is just as well not to let him know," said Theriere. "It
gives you an advantage that would be wanting should he
suspect the truth, so that now you are always in a position to
be warned in plenty of time against any ulterior suggestion he
may make. Keep me posted as to all he tells you of his plans,
and in this way we can defeat him much more easily than as
though you followed your natural inclinations and refused to
hold communication of any sort with him. It might be well,
Miss Harding, even to encourage him in the hope that you
will wed him voluntarily. I think that that would throw him
entirely off his guard, and pave the way for your early
"Oh, I doubt if I could do that, Mr. Theriere," exclaimed
the girl. "You cannot imagine how I loathe the man now that
I know him in his true colors. For years he has importuned
me to marry him, and though I never cared for him in that
way at all, and never could, I felt that he was a very good
friend and that his constancy demanded some return on my
part--my friendship and sympathy at least; but now I shiver
whenever he is near me, just as I would were I to find a
snake coiled close beside me. I cannot abide treachery."
"Nor I, Miss Harding," agreed Theriere glibly. "The man
deserves nothing but your contempt, though for policy's sake
I hope that you will find it possible to lead him on until his
very treachery proves the means of your salvation, for believe
me, if he has been false to you how much more quickly will
he be false to Simms and Ward! He would ditch them in a
minute if the opportunity presented itself for him to win you
without their aid. I had thought it might be feasible to lead
him into attempting to take the ship by force, and return you
to San Francisco, or, better still possibly, to the nearest
"You might, with propriety suggest this to him, telling him
that you believe that I would stand ready to assist in the
undertaking. I can promise you the support of several of the
men--quite a sufficient number with Divine and myself, easily
to take the Halfmoon away from her present officers."
"I will think over your suggestion, Mr. Theriere," replied
Barbara, "and I thank you for the generous impulse that has
prompted you to befriend me--heaven knows how badly I
need a friend now among so many enemies. What is it,
Mr. Theriere? What is the matter?"
The officer had turned his eyes casually toward the southeast
as the girl spoke, and just now he had given a sudden
exclamation of surprise and alarm.
"That cloud, Miss Harding," he answered. "We're in for a
bad blow, and it'll be on us in a minute," and with that he
started forward on a run, calling back over his shoulder,
"you'd better go below at once."
THE storm that struck the Halfmoon took her entirely
unaware. It had sprung, apparently, out of a perfectly clear sky.
Both the lookout and the man at the wheel were ready to take
oath that they had scanned the horizon not a half-minute
before Second Mate Theriere had come racing forward bellowing
for all hands on deck and ordering a sailor below to
report the menacing conditions to Captain Simms.
Before that officer reached the deck Theriere had the entire
crew aloft taking in sail; but though they worked with the
desperation of doomed men they were only partially successful
in their efforts.
The sky and sea had assumed a sickly yellowish color,
except for the mighty black cloud that raced toward them, low
over the water. The low moaning sound that had followed the
first appearance of the storm, gave place to a sullen roar, and
then, of a sudden, the thing struck the Halfmoon, ripping her
remaining canvas from her as if it had been wrought from tissue
paper, and with the flying canvas, spars, and cordage went
the mainmast, snapping ten feet above the deck, and crashing
over the starboard bow with a noise and jar that rose above
the bellowing of the typhoon.
Fully half the crew of the Halfmoon either went down with
the falling rigging or were crushed by the crashing weight of
the mast as it hurtled against the deck. Skipper Simms rushed
back and forth screaming out curses that no one heeded, and
orders that there was none to fill.
Theriere, on his own responsibility, looked to the hatches.
Ward with a handful of men armed with axes attempted to
chop away the wreckage, for the jagged butt of the fallen
mast was dashing against the ship's side with such vicious
blows that it seemed but a matter of seconds ere it would
stave a hole in her.
With the utmost difficulty a sea anchor was rigged and
tumbled over the Halfmoon's pitching bow into the angry sea,
that was rising to more gigantic proportions with each succeeding
minute. This frail makeshift which at best could but
keep the vessel's bow into the wind, saving her from instant
engulfment in the sea's trough, seemed to Theriere but a sorry
means of prolonging the agony of suspense preceding the
inevitable end. That nothing could save them was the second
officer's firm belief, nor was he alone in his conviction. Not
only Simms and Ward, but every experienced sailor on the
ship felt that the life of the Halfmoon was now but a matter
of hours, possibly minutes, while those of lesser experience
were equally positive that each succeeding wave must mark
the termination of the lives of the vessel and her company.
The deck, washed now almost continuously by hurtling
tons of storm-mad water, as one mountainous wave followed
another the length of the ship, had become entirely impossible.
With difficulty the men were attempting to get below between
waves. All semblance of discipline had vanished. For the most
part they were a pack of howling, cursing, terror-ridden
beasts, fighting at the hatches with those who would have held
them closed against the danger of each new assault of the sea.
Ward and Skipper Simms had been among the first to seek
the precarious safety below deck. Theriere alone of the officers
had remained on duty until the last, and now he was exerting
his every faculty in the effort to save as many of the men as
possible without losing the ship in the doing of it. Only
between waves was the entrance to the main cabins negotiable,
while the forecastle hatch had been abandoned entirely after it
had with difficulty been replaced following the retreat of three
of the crew to that part of the ship.
The mucker stood beside Theriere as the latter beat back
the men when the seas threatened. It was the man's first
experience of the kind. Never had he faced death in the
courage-blighting form which the grim harvester assumes when
he calls unbridled Nature to do his ghastly bidding. The
mucker saw the rough, brawling bullies of the forecastle
reduced to white-faced, gibbering cowards, clawing and fighting
to climb over one another toward the lesser danger of the
cabins, while the mate fought them off, except as he found it
expedient to let them pass him; he alone cool and fearless.
Byrne stood as one apart from the dangers and hysteric
strivings of his fellows. Once when Theriere happened to glance
in his direction the Frenchman mentally ascribed the mucker's
seeming lethargy to the paralysis of abject cowardice. "The
fellow is in a blue funk," thought the second mate; "I did not
misjudge him--like all his kind he is a coward at heart."
Then a great wave came, following unexpectedly close upon
the heels of a lesser one. It took Theriere off his guard, threw
him down and hurtled him roughly across the deck, landing
him in the scuppers, bleeding and stunned. The next wave
would carry him overboard.
Released from surveillance the balance of the crew pushed
and fought their way into the cabin--only the mucker remained
without, staring first at the prostrate form of the mate
and then at the open cabin hatch. Had one been watching
him he might reasonably have thought that the man's mind
was in a muddle of confused thoughts and fears; but such was
far from the case. Billy was waiting to see if the mate would
revive sufficiently to return across the deck before the next
wave swept the ship. It was very interesting--he wondered
what odds O'Leary would have laid against the man.
In another moment the wave would come. Billy glanced at
the open cabin hatch. That would never do--the cabin would
be flooded with tons of water should the next wave find the
hatch still open. Billy closed it. Then he looked again toward
Theriere. The man was just recovering consciousness--and the
wave was coming.
Something stirred within Billy Byrne. It gripped him and
made him act quickly as though by instinct to do something
that no one, Billy himself least of all, would have suspected
that the Grand Avenue mucker would have been capable of.
Across the deck Theriere was dragging himself painfully to
his hands and knees, as though to attempt the impossible feat
of crawling back to the cabin hatch. The wave was almost
upon Billy. In a moment it would engulf him, and then rush
on across him to tear Theriere from the deck and hurl him
beyond the ship into the tumbling, watery, chaos of the sea.
The mucker saw all this, and in the instant he launched
himself toward the man for whom he had no use, whose kind
he hated, reaching him as the great wave broke over them,
crushing them to the deck, choking and blinding them.
For a moment they were buried in the swirling maelstrom,
and then as the Halfmoon rose again, shaking the watery
enemy from her back, the two men were disclosed--Theriere
half over the ship's side--the mucker clinging to him with one
hand, the other clutching desperately at a huge cleat upon the
Byrne dragged the mate to the deck, and then slowly and
with infinite difficulty across it to the cabin hatch. Through it
he pushed the man, tumbling after him and closing the aperture
just as another wave swept the Halfmoon.
Theriere was conscious and but little the worse for his
experience, though badly bruised. He looked at the mucker in
astonishment as the two faced each other in the cabin.
"I don't know why you did it," said Theriere.
"Neither do I," replied Billy Byrne.
"I shall not forget it, Byrne," said the officer.
"Yeh'd better," answered Billy, turning away.
The mucker was extremely puzzled to account for his act.
He did not look upon it at all as a piece of heroism; but
rather as a "fool play" which he should be ashamed of. The
very idea! Saving the life of a gink who, despite his brutal
ways, belonged to the much-despised "highbrow" class. Billy
was peeved with himself.
Theriere, for his part, was surprised at the unexpected
heroism of the man he had long since rated as a cowardly
bully. He was fully determined to repay Byrne in so far as he
could the great debt he owed him. All thoughts of revenge for
the mucker's former assault upon him were dropped, and he
now looked upon the man as a true friend and ally.
For three days the Halfmoon plunged helplessly upon the
storm-wracked surface of the mad sea. No soul aboard her
entertained more than the faintest glimmer of a hope that the
ship would ride out the storm; but during the third night the
wind died down, and by morning the sea had fallen sufficiently
to make it safe for the men of the Halfmoon to venture
There they found the brigantine clean-swept from stem to
stern. To the north of them was land at a league or two,
perhaps. Had the storm continued during the night they
would have been dashed upon the coast. God-fearing men
would have given thanks for their miraculous rescue; but not
so these. Instead, the fear of death removed, they assumed
their former bravado.
Skipper Simms boasted of the seamanship that had saved
the Halfmoon--his own seamanship of course. Ward was
cursing the luck that had disabled the ship at so crucial a
period of her adventure, and revolving in his evil mind various
possible schemes for turning the misfortune to his own advantage.
Billy Byrne, sitting upon the corner of the galley table,
hobnobbed with Blanco. These choice representatives of the
ship's company were planning a raid on the skipper's brandy
chest during the disembarkation which the sight of land had
rendered not improbable.
The Halfmoon, with the wind down, wallowed heavily in
the trough of the sea, but even so Barbara Harding, wearied
with days of confinement in her stuffy cabin below, ventured
above deck for a breath of sweet, clean air.
Scarce had she emerged from below than Theriere espied
her, and hastened to her side.
"Well, Miss Harding," he exclaimed, "it seems good to see
you on deck again. I can't tell you how sorry I have felt for
you cooped up alone in your cabin without a single woman
for companionship, and all those frightful days of danger, for
there was scarce one of us that thought the old hooker would
weather so long and hard a blow. We were mighty fortunate
to come through it so handily."
"Handily?" queried Barbara Harding, with a wry smile,
glancing about the deck of the Halfmoon. "I cannot see that
we are either through it handily or through it at all. We have
no masts, no canvas, no boats; and though I am not much of
a sailor, I can see that there is little likelihood of our effecting
a landing on the shore ahead either with or without boats---it
looks most forbidding. Then the wind has gone down, and
when it comes up again it is possible that it will carry us away
from the land, or if it takes us toward it, dash us to pieces at
the foot of those frightful cliffs."
"I see you are too good a sailor by far to be cheered by
any questionable hopes," laughed Theriere; "but you must
take the will into consideration--I only wished to give you a
ray of hope that might lighten your burden of apprehension.
However, honestly, I do think that we may find a way to
make a safe landing if the sea continues to go down as it has
in the past two hours. We are not more than a league from
shore, and with the jury mast and sail that the men are setting
under Mr. Ward now we can work in comparative safety
with a light breeze, which we should have during the afternoon.
There are few coasts, however rugged they may appear
at a distance, that do not offer some foothold for the wrecked
mariner, and I doubt not but that we shall find this no
exception to the rule."
"I hope you are right, Mr. Theriere," said the girl, "and yet
I cannot but feel that my position will be less safe on land
than it has been upon the Halfmoon. Once free from the
restraints of discipline which tradition, custom, and law
enforce upon the high seas there is no telling what atrocities
these men will commit. To be quite candid, Mr. Theriere, I
dread a landing worse than I dreaded the dangers of the
storm through which we have just passed."
"I think you have little to fear on that score, Miss Harding,"
said the Frenchman. "I intend making it quite plain
that I consider myself your protector once we have left the
Halfmoon, and I can count on several of the men to support
me. Even Mr. Divine will not dare do otherwise. Then we can
set up a camp of our own apart from Skipper Simms and his
faction where you will be constantly guarded until succor may
Barbara Harding had been watching the man's face as he
spoke. The memory of his consideration and respectful treatment
of her during the trying weeks of her captivity had done
much to erase the intuitive feeling of distrust that had tinged
her thoughts of him earlier in their acquaintance, while his
heroic act in descending into the forecastle in the face of the
armed and desperate Byrne had thrown a glamour of romance
about him that could not help but tend to fascinate a girl of
Barbara Harding's type. Then there was the look she had seen
in his eyes for a brief instant when she had found herself
locked in his cabin on the occasion that he had revealed to
her Larry Divine's duplicity. That expression no red-blooded
girl could mistake, and the fact that he had subdued his
passion spoke eloquently to the girl of the fineness and chivalry
of his nature, so now it was with a feeling of utter
trustfulness that she gladly gave herself into the keeping of
Henri Theriere, Count de Cadenet, Second Officer of the
"O Mr. Theriere," she cried, "if you only can but arrange it
so, how relieved and almost happy I shall be. How can I ever
repay you for all that you have done for me?"
Again she saw the light leap to the man's eyes--the light of
a love that would not be denied much longer other than
through the agency of a mighty will. Love she thought it; but
the eye-light of love and lust are twin lights between which it
takes much worldly wisdom to differentiate, and Barbara
Harding was not worldly-wise in the ways of sin.
"Miss Harding," said Theriere, in a voice that he evidently
found it difficult to control, "do not ask me now how you
may repay me; I--;" but what he would have said he
checked, and with an effort of will that was almost appreciable
to the eye he took a fresh grip upon himself, and continued:
"I am amply repaid by being able to serve you, and thus
to retrieve myself in your estimation--I know that you have
doubted me; that you have questioned the integrity of my acts
that helped to lead up to the unfortunate affair of the Lotus.
When you tell me that you no longer doubt--that you accept
me as the friend I would wish to be, I shall be more than
amply repaid for anything which it may have been my good
fortune to have been able to accomplish for your comfort and
"Then I may partially repay you at once," exclaimed the
girl with a smile, "for I can assure you that you possess my
friendship to the fullest, and with it, of course, my entire
confidence. It is true that I doubted you at first--I doubted
everyone connected with the Halfmoon. Why shouldn't I? But
now I think that I am able to draw a very clear line between
my friends and my enemies. There is but one upon the right
side of that line--you, my friend," and with an impulsive little
gesture Barbara Harding extended her hand to Theriere.
It was with almost a sheepish expression that the Frenchman
took the proffered fingers, for there had been that in the
frank avowal of confidence and friendship which smote upon
a chord of honor in the man's soul that had not vibrated in
response to a chivalrous impulse for so many long years that
it had near atrophied from disuse.
Then, of a sudden, the second officer of the Halfmoon
straightened to his full height. His head went high, and he
took the small hand of the girl in his own strong, brown one.
"Miss Harding," he said, "I have led a hard, bitter life. I
have not always done those things of which I might be most
proud: but there have been times when I have remembered
that I am the grandson of one of Napoleon's greatest field
marshals, and that I bear a name that has been honored by a
mighty nation. What you have just said to me recalls these
facts most vividly to my mind--I hope, Miss Harding, that
you will never regret having spoken them," and to the bottom
of his heart the man meant what he said, at the moment; for
inherent chivalry is as difficult to suppress or uproot as is
The girl let her hand rest in his for a moment, and as their
eyes met she saw in his a truth and honesty and cleanness
which revealed what Theriere might have been had Fate
ordained his young manhood to different channels. And in
that moment a question sprang, all unbidden and unforeseen
to her mind; a question which caused her to withdraw her
hand quickly from his, and which sent a slow crimson to her
Billy Byrne, slouching by, cast a bitter look of hatred upon
the two. The fact that he had saved Theriere's life had not
increased his love for that gentleman. He was still much
puzzled to account for the strange idiocy that had prompted
him to that act; and two of his fellows had felt the weight of
his mighty fist when they had spoken words of rough praise
for his heroism--Billy had thought that they were kidding
To Billy the knocking out of Theriere, and the subsequent
kick which he had planted in the unconscious man's face,
were true indications of manliness. He gauged such matters by
standards purely Grand Avenuesque and now it enraged him
to see that the girl before whose very eyes he had demonstrated
his superiority over Theriere should so look with
favor upon the officer.
It did not occur to Billy that he would care to have the girl
look with favor upon him. Such a thought would have sent
him into a berserker rage; but the fact remained that Billy felt
a strong desire to cut out Theriere's heart when he saw him
now in close converse with Barbara Harding--just why he felt
so Billy could not have said. The truth of the matter is that
Billy was far from introspective; in fact he did very little
thinking. His mind had never been trained to it, as his muscles
had been trained to fighting. Billy reacted more quickly to
instinct than to the processes of reasoning, and on this account
it was difficult for him to explain any great number of
his acts or moods--it is to be doubted, however, that Billy
Byrne had ever attempted to get at the bottom of his soul, if
he possessed one.
Be that as it may, had Theriere known it he was very near
death that moment when a summons from Skipper Simms
called him aft and saved his life. Then the mucker, unseen by
the officer, approached the girl. In his heart were rage and
hatred, and as the girl turned at the sound of his step behind
her she saw them mirrored in his dark, scowling face.
THE WRECK OF THE "HALFMOON"
INSTANTLY Barbara Harding looked into the face of the
mucker she read her danger. Why the man should hate her so
she could not guess; but that he did was evidenced by the
malevolent expression of his surly countenance. For a moment
he stood glaring at her, and then he spoke.
"I'm wise to wot youse an' dat guy was chinnin' about," he
growled, "an' I'm right here to tell youse dat you don't wanta
try an' put nothin' over on me, see? Youse ain't a-goin' to
double-cross Billy Byrne. I gotta good notion to han' youse
wot's comin' to you. If it hadn't been fer youse I wouldn't
have been here now on dis Gawd-forsaken wreck. Youse is de
cause of all de trouble. Wot youse ought to get is croaked an'
den dere wouldn't be nothin' to bother any of us. You an' yer
bunch of kale, dey give me a swift pain. Fer half a cent I'd
soak youse a wallop to de solar plexus dat would put youse
to sleep fer de long count, you--you--" but here words failed
To his surprise the girl showed not the slightest indication
of fear. Her head was high, and her level gaze never wavered
from his own eyes. Presently a sneer of contempt curled her
"You coward!" she said quietly. "To insult and threaten a
woman! You are nothing but an insufferable bully, and a
cowardly murderer. You murdered a man on the Lotus whose
little finger held more true manhood, bravery, and worth than
the whole of your great, hulking carcass. You are only fit to
strike from behind, or when your victim is unsuspecting, as
you did Mr. Theriere that other day. Do you think I fear a
THING such as you--a beast without honor that kicks an
unconscious man in the face? I know that you can kill me. I
know that you are coward enough to do it because I am a
defenseless woman; and though you may kill me, you never
can make me show fear for you. That is what you wish to
do--that is your idea of manliness. I had never imagined
that such a thing as you lived in the guise of man; but I have
read you, Mr. Byrne, since I have had occasion to notice you,
and I know now that you are what is known in the great
cities as a mucker. The term never meant much to me before,
but I see now that it fits your kind perfectly, for in it is all the
loathing and contempt that a real man--a gentleman--must
feel for such as you."
As she spoke Billy Byrne's eyes narrowed; but not with the
cunning of premeditated attack. He was thinking. For the first
time in his life he was thinking of how he appeared in the
eyes of another. Never had any human being told Billy Byrne
thus coolly and succinctly what sort of person he seemed to
them. In the heat of anger men of his own stamp had applied
vile epithets to him, describing him luridly as such that by the
simplest laws of nature he could not possibly be; but this girl
had spoken coolly, and her descriptions had been explicit--
backed by illustrations. She had given real reasons for her
contempt, and somehow it had made that contempt seem very
One who had known Billy would have expected him to fly
into a rage and attack the girl brutally after her scathing
diatribe. Billy did nothing of the sort. Barbara Harding's
words seemed to have taken all the fight out of him. He stood
looking at her for a moment--it was one of the strange
contradictions of Billy Byrne's personality that he could hold
his eyes quite steady and level, meeting the gaze of another
unwaveringly--and in that moment something happened to
Billy Byrne's perceptive faculties. It was as though scales
which had dimmed his mental vision had partially dropped
away, for suddenly he saw what he had not before seen--a
very beautiful girl, brave and unflinching before the brutal
menace of his attitude, and though the mucker thought that
he still hated her, the realization came to him that be must not
raise a hand against her--that for the life of him he could
not, nor ever again against any other woman. Why this
change, Billy did not know, he simply knew that it was so,
and with an ugly grunt he turned his back upon her and
A slight breeze had risen from the southwest since Theriere
had left Barbara Harding and now all hands were busily
engaged in completing the jury rigging that the Halfmoon
might take advantage of the wind and make the shore that
rose abruptly from the bosom of the ocean but a league away.
Before the work was completed the wind increased rapidly,
so that when the tiny bit of canvas was hoisted into position it
bellied bravely, and the Halfmoon moved heavily forward
toward the land.
"We gotta make a mighty quick run of it," said Skipper
Simms to Ward, "or we'll go to pieces on them rocks afore
ever we find a landing."
"That we will if this wind rises much more," replied Ward;
"and's far as I can see there ain't no more chance to make a
landing there than there would be on the side of a house."
And indeed as the Halfmoon neared the towering cliffs it
seemed utterly hopeless that aught else than a fly could find a
foothold upon that sheer and rocky face that rose abruptly
from the ocean's surface.
Some two hundred yards from the shore it became evident
that there was no landing to be made directly before them,
and so the course of the ship was altered to carry them along
parallel to the shore in an effort to locate a cove, or beach
where a landing might safely be effected.
The wind, increasing steadily, was now whipping the sea
into angry breakers that dashed resoundingly against the
rocky barrier of the island. To drift within reach of those
frightful destroyers would mean the instant annihilation of the
Halfmoon and all her company, yet this was precisely what
the almost unmanageable hulk was doing at the wheel under
the profane direction of Skipper Simms, while Ward and
Theriere with a handful of men altered the meager sail from
time to time in an effort to keep the ship off the rocks for a
few moments longer.
The Halfmoon was almost upon the cliff's base when a
narrow opening showed some hundred fathoms before her
nose, an opening through which the sea ran in long, surging
sweeps, rolling back upon itself in angry breakers that filled
the aperture with swirling water and high-flung spume. To
have attempted to drive the ship into such a place would have
been the height of madness under ordinary circumstances. No
man knew what lay beyond, nor whether the opening carried
sufficient water to float the Halfmoon, though the long,
powerful sweep of the sea as it entered the opening denoted
Skipper Simms, seeing the grim rocks rising close beside his
vessel, realized that naught could keep her from them now. He
saw death peering close to his face. He felt the icy breath of
the Grim Reaper upon his brow. A coward at heart, he lost
every vestige of his nerve at this crucial moment of his life.
Leaping from the wheelhouse to the deck he ran backward
and forward shrieking at the top of his lungs begging and
entreating someone to save him, and offering fabulous rewards
to the man who carried him safely to the shore.
The sight of their captain in a blue funk had its effect upon
the majority of the crew, so that in a moment a pack of
screaming, terror-ridden men had supplanted the bravos and
bullies of the Halfmoon.
From the cabin companionway Barbara Harding looked
upon the disgusting scene. Her lip curled in scorn at the sight
of these men weeping and moaning in their fright. She saw
Ward busy about one of the hatches. It was evident that he
intended making a futile attempt to utilize it as a means of
escape after the Halfmoon struck, for he was attaching ropes
to it and dragging it toward the port side of the ship, away
from the shore. Larry Divine crouched beside the cabin and
When Simms gave up the ship Barbara Harding saw the
wheelmen, there had been two of them, desert their post, and
almost instantly the nose of the Halfmoon turned toward the
rocks; but scarcely had the men reached the deck than Theriere
leaped to their place at the wheel.
Unassisted he could do little with the heavy helm. Barbara
saw that he alone of all the officers and men of the brigantine
was making an attempt to save the vessel. However futile the
effort might be, it at least bespoke the coolness and courage
of the man. With the sight of him there wrestling with death
in a hopeless struggle a little wave of pride surged through the
girl. Here indeed was a man! And he loved her--that she
knew. Whether or no she returned his love her place was
beside him now, to give what encouragement and physical aid
lay in her power.
Quickly she ran to the wheelhouse. Theriere saw her and
"There's no hope, I'm afraid," he said; "but, by George, I
intend to go down fighting, and not like those miserable
Barbara did not reply, but she grasped the spokes of the
heavy wheel and tugged as he tugged. Theriere made no effort
to dissuade her from the strenuous labor--every ounce of
weight would help so much, and the man had a wild, mad
idea that he was attempting to put into effect.
"What do you hope to do?" asked the girl. "Make that
opening in the cliffs?"
"Do you think me crazy?" he asked.
"It is such a chance as only a brave man would dare to
take," she replied. "Do you think that we can get her to take
"I doubt it," he answered. "With another man at the wheel
we might, though."
Below them the crew of the Halfmoon ran hither and
thither along the deck on the side away from the breakers.
They fought with one another for useless bits of planking and
cordage. The giant figure of the black cook, Blanco, rose
above the others. In his hand was a huge butcher knife. When
he saw a piece of wood he coveted in the hands of another he
rushed upon his helpless victim with wild, bestial howls, menacing
him with his gleaming weapon. Thus he was rapidly
accumulating the material for a life raft.
But there was a single figure upon the deck that did not
seem mad with terror. A huge fellow he was who stood leaning
against the capstan watching the wild antics of his fellows with
a certain wondering expression of incredulity, the while a
contemptuous smile curled his lips. As Barbara Harding chanced
to look in his direction he also chanced to turn his eyes
toward the wheelhouse. It was the mucker.
The girl was surprised that he, the greatest coward of them
all, should be showing no signs of cowardice now--probably
he was paralyzed with fright. The moment that the man saw
the two who were in the wheelhouse and the work that they
were doing he sprang quickly toward them. At his approach
the girl shrank closer to Theriere.
What new outrage did the fellow contemplate? Now he was
beside her. The habitual dark scowl blackened his expression.
He laid a heavy hand on Barbara Harding's arm.
"Come out o' dat," he bellowed. "Dat's no kind o' job fer
And before either she or Theriere could guess his intention
the mucker had pushed Barbara aside and taken her place at
"Good for you, Byrne!" cried Theriere. "I needed you
"Why didn't yeh say so den?" growled the man.
With the aid of Byrne's Herculean muscles and great weight
the bow of the Halfmoon commenced to come slowly around
so that presently she almost paralleled the cliffs again, but now
she was much closer in than when Skipper Simms had deserted her
to her fate--so close that Theriere had little hope of
being able to carry out his plan of taking her opposite the
opening and then turning and running her before the wind
straight into the swirling waters of the inlet.
Now they were almost opposite the aperture and between
the giant cliffs that rose on either side of the narrow entrance
a sight was revealed that filled their hearts with renewed hope
and rejoicing, for a tiny cove was seen to lie beyond the
fissure--a cove with a long, wide, sandy beach up which the
waves, broken at the entrance to the little haven, rolled with
much diminished violence.
"Can you hold her alone for a second, Byrne?" asked
Theriere. "We must make the turn in another moment and
I've got to let out sail. The instant that you see me cut her
loose put your helm hard to starboard. She'll come around
easy enough I imagine, and then hold her nose straight for
that opening. It's one chance in a thousand; but it's the only
one. Are you game?"
"You know it, cul--go to 't," was Billy Byrne's laconic
As Theriere left the wheel Barbara Harding stepped to the
"Let me help you," she said. "We need every hand that we
can get for the next few moments."
"Beat it," growled the man. "I don't want no skirts in my
With a flush, the girl drew back, and then turning watched
Theriere where he stood ready to cut loose the sail at the
proper instant. The vessel was now opposite the cleft in the
cliffs. Theriere had lashed a new sheet in position. Now he
cut the old one. The sail swung around until caught in
position by the stout line. The mucker threw the helm hard to
starboard. The nose of the brigantine swung quickly toward
the rocks. The sail filled, and an instant later the ship was
dashing to what seemed her inevitable doom.
Skipper Simms, seeing what Theriere had done after it was
too late to prevent it, dashed madly across the deck toward
"You fool!" he shrieked. "You fool! What are you doing?
Driving us straight for the rocks--murdering the whole lot of
us!" and with that he sprang upon the Frenchman with
maniacal fury, bearing him to the deck beneath him.
Barbara Harding saw the attack of the fear-demented man,
but she was powerless to prevent it. The mucker saw it too,
and grinned--he hoped that it would be a good fight; there
was nothing that he enjoyed more. He was sorry that he
could not take a hand in it, but the wheel demanded all his
attention now, so that he was even forced to take his eyes
from the combatants that he might rivet them upon the
narrow entrance to the cove toward which the Halfmoon was
now plowing her way at constantly increasing speed.
The other members of the ship's company, all unmindful of
the battle that at another time would have commanded their
undivided attention, stood with eyes glued upon the wild
channel toward which the brigantine's nose was pointed. They
saw now what Skipper Simms had failed to see--the little
cove beyond, and the chance for safety that the bold stroke
offered if it proved successful.
With steady muscles and giant sinews the mucker stood by
the wheel--nursing the erratic wreck as no one might have
supposed it was in him to do. Behind him Barbara Harding
watched first Theriere and Simms, and then Byrne and the
swirling waters toward which he was heading the ship.
Even the strain of the moment did not prevent her from
wondering at the strange contradictions of the burly young
ruffian who could at one moment show such traits of cowardliness
and the next rise so coolly to the highest pinnacles
of courage. As she watched him occasionally now she noted
for the first time the leonine contour of his head, and she was
surprised to note that his features were regular and fine, and
then she recalled Billy Mallory and the cowardly kick that she
had seen delivered in the face of the unconscious Theriere--
with a little shudder of disgust she turned away from the man
at the wheel.
Theriere by this time had managed to get on top of Skipper
Simms, but that worthy still clung to him with the desperation
of a drowning man. The Halfmoon was rising on a great
wave that would bear her well into the maelstrom of the
cove's entrance. The wind had increased to the proportions of
a gale, so that the brigantine was fairly racing either to her
doom or her salvation--who could tell which?
Halfway through the entrance the wave dropped the ship,
and with a mighty crash that threw Barbara Harding to her
feet the vessel struck full amidships upon a sunken reef. Like
a thing of glass she broke in two with the terrific impact, and
in another instant the waters about her were filled with
Barbara Harding felt herself hurtled from the deck as
though shot from a catapult. The swirling waters engulfed her.
She knew that her end had come, only the most powerful of
swimmers might hope to win through that lashing hell of
waters to the beach beyond. For a girl to do it was too
hopeless even to contemplate; but she recalled Theriere's
words of so short a time ago: "There's no hope, I'm afraid;
but, by George, I intend to go down fighting," and with the
recollection came a like resolve on her part--to go down
fighting, and so she struck out against the powerful waters
that swirled her hither and thither, now perilously close to the
rocky sides of the entrance, and now into the mad chaos of
the channel's center. Would to heaven that Theriere were near
her, she thought, for if any could save her it would be he.
Since she had come to believe in the man's friendship and
sincerity Barbara Harding had felt renewed hope of eventual
salvation, and with the hope had come a desire to live which
had almost been lacking for the greater part of her detention
upon the Halfmoon.
Bravely she battled now against the awful odds of the
mighty Pacific, but soon she felt her strength waning. More
and more ineffective became her puny efforts, and at last she
ceased almost entirely the futile struggle.
And then she felt a strong hand grasp her arm, and with a
sudden surge she was swung over a broad shoulder. Quickly
she grasped the rough shirt that covered the back of her
would-be rescuer, and then commenced a battle with the
waves that for many minutes, that seemed hours to the frightened
girl, hung in the balance; but at last the swimmer
beneath her forged steadily and persistently toward the sandy
beach to flounder out at last with an unconscious burden in
his mighty arms.
As the man staggered up out of reach of the water Barbara
Harding opened her eyes to look in astonishment into the face
of the mucker.
ONLY four men of the Halfmoon's crew were lost in the
wreck of the vessel. All had been crowded in the bow when
the ship broke in two, and being far-flung by the forward part
of the brigantine as it lunged toward the cove on the wave
following the one which had dropped the craft upon the reef,
with the exception of the four who had perished beneath the
wreckage they had been able to swim safely to the beach.
Larry Divine, who had sat weeping upon the deck of the
doomed ship during the time that hope had been at its lowest,
had recovered his poise. Skipper Simms, subdued for the
moment, soon commenced to regain his bluster. He took
Theriere to task for the loss of the Halfmoon.
"An' ever we make a civilized port," he shouted, "I'll prefer
charges ag'in' you, you swab you; a-losin' of the finest bark
as ever weathered a storm. Ef it hadn't o' been fer you a-mutinyin'
agin' me I'd a-brought her through in safety an'
never lost a bloomin' soul."
'Stow it!" admonished Theriere at last; "your foolish bluster
can't hide the bald fact that you deserted your post in time
of danger. We're ashore now, remember, and there is no more
ship for you to command, so were I you I'd be mighty careful
how I talked to my betters."
"What's that!" screamed the skipper. "My betters! You
frog-eatin' greaser you, I'll teach you. Here, some of you, clap
this swab into irons. I'll learn him that I'm still captain of this
Theriere laughed in the man's face; but Ward and a couple
of hands who had been shown favoritism by the skipper and
first mate closed menacingly toward the second officer.
The Frenchman took in the situation at a glance. They
were ashore now, where they didn't think that they needed
him further and the process of elimination had commenced.
Well, it might as well come to a showdown now as later.
"Just a moment," said Theriere, raising his hand. "You're
not going to take me alive, and I have no idea that you
want to anyhow, and if you start anything in the killing line
some of you are going to Davy Jones' locker along with me.
The best thing for all concerned is to divide up this party now
once and for all."
As he finished speaking he turned toward Billy Byrne.
"Are you and the others with me, or against me?" he
"I'm ag'in' Simms," replied the mucker non-committally.
Bony Sawyer, Red Sanders, Blanco, Wison, and two others
drew in behind Billy Byrne.
"We all's wid Billy," announced Blanco.
Divine and Barbara Harding stood a little apart. Both were
alarmed at the sudden, hostile turn events had taken. Simms,
Ward, and Theriere were the only members of the party
armed. Each wore a revolver strapped about his hips. All were
still dripping from their recent plunge in the ocean.
Five men stood behind Skipper Simms and Ward, but there
were two revolvers upon that side of the argument. Suddenly
Ward turned toward Divine.
"Are you armed, Mr. Divine?" he asked.
Divine nodded affirmatively.
"Then you'd better come over with us--it looks like we
might need you to help put down this mutiny," said Ward.
Divine hesitated. He did not know which side was more
likely to be victorious, and he wanted to be sure to be on the
winning side. Suddenly an inspiration came to him.
"This is purely a matter to be settled by the ship's officers,"
he said. "I am only a prisoner, call me a passenger if you
like--I have no interest whatever in the matter, and shall
not take sides."
"Yes you will," said Mr. Ward, in a low, but menacing
tone. "You're in too deep to try to ditch us now. If you don't
stand by us we'll treat you as one of the mutineers when we're
through with them, and you can come pretty near a-guessin'
what they'll get."
Divine was about to reply, and the nature of his answer
was suggested by the fact that he had already taken a few
steps in the direction of Simms' faction, when he was stopped
by the low voice of the girl behind him.
"Larry," she said, "I know all--your entire connection with
this plot. If you have a spark of honor or manhood left you
will do what little you can to retrieve the terrible wrong you
have done me, and my father. You can never marry me. I
give you my word of honor that I shall take my own life if
that is the only way to thwart your plans in that direction,
and so as the fortune can never be yours it seems to me that
the next best thing would be to try and save me from the
terrible predicament in which your cupidity has placed me.
You can make the start now, Larry, by walking over and
placing yourself at Mr. Theriere's disposal. He has promised to
help and protect me."
A deep flush mounted to the man's neck and face. He did
not turn about to face the girl he had so grievously
wronged--for the life of him he could not have met her
eyes. Slowly he turned, and with gaze bent upon the ground
walked quickly toward Theriere.
Ward was quick to recognize the turn events had taken,
and to see that it gave Theriere the balance of power, with
two guns and nine men in his party against their two guns
and seven men. It also was evident to him that to the other
party the girl would naturally gravitate since Divine, an old
acquaintance, had cast his lot with it; nor had the growing
intimacy between Miss Harding and Theriere been lost upon
Ward knew that Simms was an arrant coward, nor was he
himself overly keen for an upstanding, man-to-man encounter
such as must quickly follow any attempt upon his part to
uphold the authority of Simms, or their claim upon the
custody of the girl.
Intrigue and trickery were more to Mr. Ward's liking, and
so he was quick to alter his plan of campaign the instant that
it became evident that Divine had elected to join forces with
the opposing faction.
"I reckon," he said, directing his remarks toward no one in
particular, "that we've all been rather hasty in this matter,
being het up as we were with the strain of what we been
through an' so it seems to me, takin' into consideration that
Mr. Theriere really done his best to save the ship, an' that as
a matter of fact we was all mighty lucky to come out of it
alive, that we'd better let bygones be bygones, for the time
bein' at least, an' all of us pitch in to save what we can from
the wreckage, hunt water, rig up a camp, an' get things sort o'
shipshape here instid o' squabblin' amongst ourselves."
"Suit yourself," said Theriere, "it's all the same to us," and
his use of the objective pronoun seemed definitely to establish
the existence of his faction as a separate and distinct party.
Simms, from years of experience with his astute mate, was
wont to acquiesce in anything that Ward proposed, though he
had not the brains always to appreciate the purposes that
prompted Ward's suggestions. Now, therefore, he nodded his
approval of Squint Eye's proposal, feeling that whatever was
in Ward's mind would be more likely to work out to Skipper
Simms' interests than some unadvised act of Skipper Simms
"Supposin'," continued Ward, "that we let two o' your men
an' two o' ourn under Mr. Divine, shin up them cliffs back o'
the cove an' search fer water an' a site fer camp--the rest o'
us'll have our hands full with the salvage."
"Good," agreed Theriere. "Miller, you and Swenson will
accompany Mr. Divine."
Ward detailed two of his men, and the party of five began
the difficult ascent of the cliffs, while far above them a little
brown man with beady, black eyes set in narrow fleshy slits
watched them from behind a clump of bushes. Strange, medieval
armor and two wicked-looking swords gave him a most
warlike appearance. His temples were shaved, and a broad
strip on the top of his head to just beyond the crown. His
remaining hair was drawn into an unbraided queue, tied
tightly at the back, and the queue then brought forward to
the top of the forehead. His helmet lay in the grass at his feet.
At the nearer approach of the party to the cliff top the
watcher turned and melted into the forest at his back. He was
Oda Yorimoto, descendant of a powerful daimio of the Ashikaga
Dynasty of shoguns who had fled Japan with his faithful
samurai nearly three hundred and fifty years before upon the
overthrow of the Ashikaga Dynasty.
Upon this unfrequented and distant Japanese isle the exiles
had retained all of their medieval military savagery, to which
had been added the aboriginal ferocity of the head-hunting
natives they had found there and with whom they had intermarried.
The little colony, far from making any advances in
arts or letters had, on the contrary, relapsed into primeval
ignorance as deep as that of the natives with whom they had
cast their lot--only in their arms and armor, their military
training and discipline did they show any of the influence of
their civilized progenitors. They were cruel, crafty, resourceful
wild men trapped in the habiliments of a dead past, and
armed with the keen weapons of their forbears. They had not
even the crude religion of the Malaysians they had absorbed
unless a highly exaggerated propensity for head-hunting might
be dignified by the name of religion. To the tender mercies of
such as these were the castaways of the Halfmoon likely to be
consigned, for what might sixteen men with but four revolvers
among them accomplish against near a thousand savage
Theriere, Ward, Simms, and the remaining sailors at the
beach busied themselves with the task of retrieving such of the
wreckage and the salvage of the Halfmoon as the waves had
deposited in the shallows of the beach. There were casks of
fresh water, kegs of biscuit, clothing, tinned meats, and a
similar heterogeneous mass of flotsam. This arduous labor
consumed the best part of the afternoon, and it was not until it
had been completed that Divine and his party returned to the
They reported that they had discovered a spring of fresh
water some three miles east of the cove and about half a mile
inland, but it was decided that no attempt be made to transport
the salvage of the party to the new camp site until the
Theriere and Divine erected a rude shelter for Barbara
Harding close under the foot of the cliff, as far from the water
as possible, while above them Oda Yorimoto watched their
proceedings with beady, glittering eyes. This time a half-dozen
of his fierce samurai crouched at his side. Besides their two
swords these latter bore the primitive spears of their mothers'
Oda Yorimoto watched the white men upon the beach.
Also, he watched the white girl--even more, possibly, than he
watched the men. He saw the shelter that was being built, and
when it was complete he saw the girl enter it, and he knew
that it was for her alone. Oda Yorimoto sucked in his lips
and his eyes narrowed even more than nature had intended
that they should.
A fire burned before the rude domicile that Barbara Harding
was to occupy, and another, larger fire roared a hundred
yards to the west where the men were congregated about
Blanco, who was attempting to evolve a meal from the miscellany
of his larder that had been cast up by the sea. There
seemed now but little to indicate that the party was divided
into two bitter factions, but when the meal was over Theriere
called his men to a point midway between Barbara's shelter
and the main camp fire. Here he directed them to dispose
themselves for the night as best they could, building a fire of
their own if they chose, for with the coming of darkness the
chill of the tropical night would render a fire more than
All were thoroughly tired and exhausted, so that darkness
had scarce fallen ere the entire camp seemed wrapped in
slumber. And still Oda Yorimoto sat with his samurai upon
the cliff's summit, beady eyes fixed upon his intended prey.
For an hour he sat thus in silence, until, assured that all
were asleep before him, he arose and with a few whispered
instructions commenced the descent of the cliff toward the
cove below. Scarce had he started, however, with his men
stringing in single file behind him, than he came to a sudden
halt, for below him in the camp that lay between the girl's
shelter and the westerly camp a figure had arisen stealthily
from among his fellows.
It was Theriere. Cautiously he moved to a sleeper nearby
whom he shook gently until he had awakened him.
"Hush, Byrne," cautioned the Frenchman. "It is I, Theriere.
Help me awaken the others--see that there is no noise."
"Wot's doin'?" queried the mucker.
"We are going to break camp, and occupy the new location
before that bunch of pirates can beat us to it," whispered
Theriere in reply; "and," he added, "we're going to take the
salvage and the girl with us."
The mucker grinned.
"Gee!" he said. "Won't dey be a sore bunch in de mornin'?"
The work of awakening the balance of the party required
but a few minutes and when the plan was explained to them,
all seemed delighted with the prospect of discomfiting Skipper
Simms and Squint Eye. It was decided that only the eatables
be carried away on the first trip, and that if a second trip was
possible before dawn the clothing, canvas, and cordage that
had been taken from the water might then be purloined.
Miller and Swenson were detailed to bring up the rear with
Miss Harding, assisting her up the steep side of the cliff.
Divine was to act as guide to the new camp, lending a hand
wherever necessary in the scaling of the heights with the loot.
Cautiously the party, with the exception of Divine, Miller,
and Swenson, crept toward the little pile of supplies that were
heaped fifty or sixty feet from the sleeping members of Simms'
faction. The three left behind walked in silence to Barbara
Harding's shelter. Here Divine scratched at the piece of sail
cloth which served as a door until he had succeeded in
awakening the sleeper within. And from above Oda Yorimoto
watched the activity in the little cove with intent and unwavering eyes.
The girl, roused from a fitful slumber, came to the doorway
of her primitive abode, alarmed by this nocturnal summons.
"It is I, Larry," whispered the man. "Are you dressed?"
"Yes," replied the girl, stepping out into the moonlight.
"What do you want? What has happened?"
"We are going to take you away from Simms--Theriere
and I," replied the man, "and establish a safe camp of our
own where they cannot molest you. Theriere and the others
have gone for the supplies now and as soon as they return we
further preparations to make, Barbara, please make haste, as
we must get away from here as quickly as possible. Should
any of Simms' people awaken there is sure to be a fight."
The girl turned back into the shelter to gather together a
handful of wraps that had been saved from the wreck.
Down by the salvage Theriere, Byrne, Bony Sawyer, Red
Sanders, Blanco, and Wison were selecting the goods that they
wished to carry with them. It was found that two trips would
be necessary to carry off the bulk of the rations, so Theriere
sent the mucker to summon Miller and Swenson.
"We'll carry all that eight of us can to the top of the cliffs,"
he said "hide it there and then come back for the balance.
We may be able to get it later if we are unable to make two
trips to the camp tonight."
While they were waiting for Byrne to return with the two
recruits one of the sleepers in Simms' camp stirred. Instantly
the five marauders dropped stealthily to the ground behind the
boxes and casks. Only Theriere kept his eyes above the level
of the top of their shelter that he might watch the movements
of the enemy.
The figure sat up and looked about. It was Ward. Slowly
be arose and approached the pile of salvage. Theriere drew
his revolver, holding it in readiness for an emergency. Should
the first mate look in the direction of Barbara Harding's
shelter he must certainly see the four figures waiting there in
the moonlight. Theriere turned his own head in the direction
of the shelter that he might see how plainly the men there
were visible. To his delight he saw that no one was in sight.
Either they had seen Ward, or for the sake of greater safety
from detection had moved to the opposite side of the shelter.
Ward was quite close to the boxes upon the other side of
which crouched the night raiders. Theriere's finger found the
trigger of his revolver. He was convinced that the mate had
been disturbed by the movement in camp and was investigating.
The Frenchman knew that the search would not end
upon the opposite side of the salvage--in a moment Ward
would be upon them. He was sorry--not for Ward, but because
he had planned to carry the work out quietly and he
hated to have to muss things up with a killing, especially on
Ward stopped at one of the water casks. He tipped it up,
filling a tin cup with water, took a long drink, set the cup
back on top of the cask, and, turning, retraced his steps to
his blanket. Theriere could have hugged himself. The man had
suspected nothing. He merely had been thirsty and come over
for a drink--in another moment he would be fast asleep
once more. Sure enough, before Byrne returned with Miller
and Swenson, Theriere could bear the snores of the first mate.
On the first trip to the cliff top eight men carried heavy
burdens, Divine alone remaining to guard Barbara Harding.
The second trip was made with equal dispatch and safety. No
sound or movement came from the camp of the enemy, other
than that of sleeping men. On the second trip Divine and
Theriere each carried a burden up the cliffs, Miller and Swenson
following with Barbara Harding, and as they came Oda
Yorimoto and his samurai slunk back into the shadows that
their prey might pass unobserving.
Theriere had the bulk of the loot hidden in a rocky crevice
just beyond the cliff's summit. Brush torn from the mass of
luxuriant tropical vegetation that covered the ground was
strewn over the cache. All had been accomplished in safety
and without detection. The camp beneath them still lay
wrapped in silence.
The march toward the new camp, under the guidance of
Divine, was immediately undertaken. On the return trip after
the search for water Divine had discovered a well-marked trail
along the edge of the cliffs to a point opposite the spring, and
another leading from the main trail directly to the water. In
his ignorance he had thought these the runways of animals,
whereas they were the age-old highways of the head-hunters.
Now they presented a comparatively quick and easy approach
to the destination of the mutineers, but so narrow a
one as soon to convince Theriere that it was not feasible for
him to move back and forth along the flank of his column.
He had tried it once, but it so greatly inconvenienced and
retarded the heavily laden men that he abandoned the effort,
remaining near the center of the cavalcade until the new camp
Here he found a fair-sized space about a clear and plentiful
spring of cold water. Only a few low bushes dotted the grassy
clearing which was almost completely surrounded by dense
and impenetrable jungle. The men had deposited their burdens,
and still Theriere stood waiting for the balance of his
party--Miller and Swenson with Barbara Harding.
But they did not come, and when, in alarm, the entire party
started back in search of them they retraced their steps to the
very brink of the declivity leading to the cove before they
could believe the testimony of their own perceptions--Barbara
Harding and the two sailors had disappeared.
BARBARA CAPTURED BY HEAD-HUNTERS
WHEN Barbara Harding, with Miller before and Swenson
behind her, had taken up the march behind the loot-laden
party seven dusky, noiseless shadows had emerged from the
forest to follow close behind.
For half a mile the party moved along the narrow trail
unmolested. Theriere had come back to exchange a half-dozen
words with the girl and had again moved forward toward the
head of the column. Miller was not more than twenty-five feet
behind the first man ahead of him, and Miss Harding and
Swenson followed at intervals of but three or four yards.
Suddenly, without warning, Swenson and Miller fell, pierced
with savage spears, and at the same instant sinewy fingers
gripped Barbara Harding, and a silencing hand was clapped
over her mouth. There had been no sound above the muffled
tread of the seamen. It had all been accomplished so quickly
and so easily that the girl did not comprehend what had
befallen her for several minutes.
In the darkness of the forest she could not clearly distinguish
the forms or features of her abductors, though she
reasoned, as was only natural, that Skipper Simms' party had
become aware of the plot against them and had taken this
means of thwarting a part of it; but when her captors turned
directly into the mazes of the jungle, away from the coast, she
began first to wonder and then to doubt, so that presently
when a small clearing let the moonlight full upon them she
was not surprised to discover that none of the members of the
Halfmoon's company was among her guard.
Barbara Harding had not circled the globe half a dozen
times for nothing. There were few races or nations with whose
history, past and present, she was not fairly familiar, and so
the sight that greeted her eyes was well suited to fill her with
astonishment, for she found herself in the hands of what
appeared to be a party of Japanese warriors of the fifteenth or
sixteenth century. She recognized the medieval arms and armor,
the ancient helmets, the hairdressing of the two-sworded
men of old Japan. At the belts of two of her captors dangled
grisly trophies of the hunt. In the moonlight she saw that they
were the heads of Miller and Swenson.
The girl was horrified. She had thought her lot before as bad
as it could be, but to be in the clutches of these strange, fierce
warriors of a long-dead age was unthinkably worse. That she
could ever have wished to be back upon the Halfmoon would
have seemed, a few days since, incredible; yet that was precisely
what she longed for now.
On through the night marched the little, brown men--grim
and silent--until at last they came to a small village in a valley
away from the coast--a valley that lay nestled high among
lofty mountains. Here were cavelike dwellings burrowed half
under ground, the upper walls and thatched roofs rising scarce
four feet above the level. Granaries on stilts were dotted here
and there among the dwellings.
Into one of the filthy dens Barbara Harding was dragged.
She found a single room in which several native and halfcaste
women were sleeping, about them stretched and curled and
perched a motley throng of dirty yellow children, dogs, pigs,
and chickens. It was the palace of Daimio Oda Yorimoto,
Lord of Yoka, as his ancestors had christened their new island
Once within the warren the two samurai who had guarded
Barbara upon the march turned and withdrew--she was
alone with Oda Yorimoto and his family. From the center of
the room depended a swinging shelf upon which a great pile
of grinning skulls rested. At the back of the room was a door
which Barbara had not at first noticed--evidently there was
another apartment to the dwelling.
The girl was given little opportunity to examine her new
prison, for scarce had the guards withdrawn than Oda Yorimoto
approached and grasped her by the arm.
"Come!" he said, in Japanese that was sufficiently similar to
modern Nippon to be easily understood by Barbara Harding.
With the word he drew her toward a sleeping mat on a raised
platform at one side of the room.
One of the women awoke at the sound of the man's voice.
She looked up at Barbara in sullen hatred--otherwise she
gave no indication that she saw anything unusual transpiring.
It was as though an exquisite American belle were a daily
visitor at the Oda Yorimoto home.
"What do you want of me?" cried the frightened girl, in
Oda Yorimoto looked at her in astonishment. Where had
this white girl learned to speak his tongue?
"I am the daimio, Oda Yorimoto," he said. "These are my
wives. Now you are one of them. Come!"
"Not yet--not here!" cried the girl clutching at a straw.
"Wait. Give me time to think. If you do not harm me my
father will reward you fabulously. Ten thousand koku he
would gladly give to have me returned to him safely."
Oda Yorimoto but shook his head.
"Twenty thousand koku!" cried the girl.
Still the daimio shook his head negatively.
"A hundred thousand--name your own price, if you will
but not harm me."
"Silence!" growled the man. "What are even a million koku
to me who only know the word from the legends of my
ancestors. We have no need for koku here, and had we, my
hills are full of the yellow metal which measures its value. No!
you are my woman. Come!"
"Not here! Not here!" pleaded the girl. "There is another
room--away from all these women," and she turned her eyes
toward the door at the opposite side of the chamber.
Oda Yorimoto shrugged his shoulders. That would be
easier than a fight, he argued, and so he led the girl toward
the doorway that she had indicated. Within the room all was
dark, but the daimio moved as one accustomed to the place,
and as he moved through the blackness the girl at his side felt
with stealthy fingers at the man's belt.
At last Oda Yorimoto reached the far side of the long
"Here!" he said, and took her by the shoulders.
"Here!" answered the girl in a low, tense voice, and at the
instant that she spoke Oda Yorimoto, Lord of Yoka, felt a
quick tug at his belt, and before he guessed what was to
happen his own short sword had pierced his breast.
A single shriek broke from the lips of the daimio; but it
was so high and shrill and like the shriek of a woman in
mortal terror that the woman in the next room who heard it
but smiled a crooked, wicked smile of hate and turned once
more upon her pallet to sleep.
Again and again Barbara Harding plunged the sword of
the brown man into the still heart, until she knew beyond
peradventure of a doubt that her enemy was forevermore
powerless to injure her. Then she sank, exhausted and trembling,
upon the dirt floor beside the corpse.
When Theriere came to the realization that Barbara Harding
was gone he jumped to the natural conclusion that Ward
and Simms had discovered the ruse that he had worked upon
them just in time to permit them to intercept Miller and
Swenson with the girl, and carry her back to the main camp.
The others were prone to agree with him, though the
mucker grumbled that "it listened fishy." However, all hands
returned cautiously down the face of the cliff, expecting
momentarily to be attacked by the guards which they felt sure
Ward would post in expectation of a return of the mutineers,
the moment they discovered that the girl had been taken from
them; but to the surprise of all they reached the cove without
molestation, and when they had crept cautiously to the vicinity
of the sleepers they discovered that all were there, in peaceful
slumber, just as they had left them a few hours before.
Silently the party retraced its steps up the cliff. Theriere and
Billy Byrne brought up the rear.
"What do you make of it anyway, Byrne?" asked the
"If you wanta get it straight, cul," replied the mucker,
"I tink youse know a whole lot more about it dan you'd
like to have de rest of us tink."
"What do you mean, Byrne?" cried Theriere. "Out with it
"Sure I'll out wid it. You didn't tink I was bashful didja?
Wot fer did you detail dem two pikers, Miller and Swenson,
to guard de skirt fer if it wasn't fer some special frame-up of
yer own? Dey never been in our gang, and dats just wot you
wanted 'em fer. It was easy to tip dem off to hike out wid de
squab, and de first chanct you get you'll hike after dem, while
we hold de bag. Tought you'd double-cross us easy, didn't
yeh? Yeh cheap-skate!"
"Byrne," said Theriere, and it was easy to see that only
through the strength of his will-power did he keep his temper,
"you may have cause to suspect the motives of everyone
connected with this outfit. I can't say that I blame you; but I
want you to remember what I say to you now. There was a
time when I fully intended to 'double-cross' you, as you say--
that was before you saved my life. Since then I have been on
the square with you not only in deed but in thought as well. I
give you the word of a man whose word once meant
something--I am playing square with you now except in one
thing, and I shall tell you what that is at once. I do not know
where Miss Harding is, or what has happened to her, and
Miller, and Swenson. That is God's truth. Now for the one
thing that I just mentioned. Recently I changed my intentions
relative to Miss Harding. I was after the money the same as
the rest--that I am free to admit; but now I don't give a
rap for it, and I had intended taking advantage of the first
opportunity to return Miss Harding to civilization unharmed
and without the payment of a penny to anyone. The reason
for my change of heart is my own affair. In all probability
you wouldn't believe the sincerity or honesty of my motives
should I disclose them. I am only telling you these things
because you have accused me of double dealing, and I do not
want the man who saved my life at the risk of his own to
have the slightest grounds to doubt my honesty with him. I've
been a fairly bad egg, Byrne, for a great many years; but, by
George! I'm not entirely rotten yet."
Byrne was silent for a few moments. He, too, had recently
come to the conclusion that possibly he was not entirely rotten
either, and had in a vague and half-formed sort of way
wished for the opportunity to demonstrate the fact, so he was
willing to concede to another that which he craved for himself.
"Yeh listen all right, cul," he said at last; "an' I'm willin' to
take yeh at yer own say-so until I learn different."
"Thanks," said Theriere tersely. "Now we can work together
in the search for Miss Harding; but where, in the name of
all that's holy, are we to start?"
"Why, where we seen her last, of course," replied the
mucker. "Right here on top of dese bluffs."
"Then we can't do anything until daylight," said the
"Not a ting, and at daylight we'll most likely have a scrap
on our hands from below," and the mucker jerked his thumb
in the direction of the cove.
"I think," said Theriere, "that we had better spend an hour
arming ourselves with sticks and stones. We've a mighty good
position up here. One that we can defend splendidly from an
assault from below, and if we are prepared for them we can
stave 'em off for a while if we need the time to search about
up here for clews to Miss Harding's whereabouts."
And so the party set to work to cut stout bludgeons from
the trees about them, and pile loose fragments of rock in
handy places near the cliff top. Theriere even went so far as to
throw up a low breastwork across the top of the trail up
which the enemy must climb to reach the summit of the cliff.
When they had completed their preparations three men could
have held the place against ten times their own number.
Then they lay down to sleep, leaving Blanco and Divine on
guard, for it had been decided that these two, with Bony
Sawyer, should be left behind on the morrow to hold the cliff
top while the others were searching for clews to the whereabouts
of Barbara Harding. They were to relieve each other at
guard duty during the balance of the night.
Scarce had the first suggestion of dawn lightened the eastern
sky than Divine, who was again on guard, awakened
Theriere. In a moment the others were aroused, and a hasty
raid on the cached provisions made. The lack of water was
keenly felt by all, but it was too far to the spring to chance
taking the time necessary to fetch the much-craved fluid and
those who were to forge into the jungle in search of Barbara
Harding hoped to find water farther inland, while it was
decided to dispatch Bony Sawyer to the spring for water for
those who were to remain on guard at the cliff top.
A hurried breakfast was made on water-soaked ship's biscuit.
Theriere and his searching party stuffed their pockets full
of them, and a moment later the search was on. First the men
traversed the trail toward the spring, looking for indications of
the spot where Barbara Harding had ceased to follow them.
The girl had worn heelless buckskin shoes at the time she was
taken from the Lotus, and these left little or no spoor in the
well-tramped earth of the narrow path; but a careful and
minute examination on the part of Theriere finally resulted in
the detection of a single small footprint a hundred yards from
the point they had struck the trail after ascending the cliffs.
This far at least she had been with them.
The men now spread out upon either side of the track--
Theriere and Red Sanders upon one side, Byrne and Wison
upon the other. Occasionally Theriere would return to the trail
to search for further indications of the spoor they sought.
The party had proceeded in this fashion for nearly half a
mile when suddenly they were attracted by a low exclamation
from the mucker.
"Here!" he called. "Here's Miller an' the Swede, an' they
sure have mussed 'em up turrible."
The others hastened in the direction of his voice, to come
to a horrified halt at the sides of the headless trunks of the
"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed the Frenchman, reverting to his
mother tongue as he never did except under the stress of great
"Who done it?" queried Red Sanders, looking suspiciously
at the mucker.
"Head-hunters," said Theriere. "God! What an awful fate
for that poor girl!"
Billy Byrne went white.
"Yeh don't mean dat dey've lopped off her block?" he
whispered in an awed voice. Something strange rose in the
mucker's breast at the thought he had just voiced. He did not
attempt to analyze the sensation; but it was far from joy at
the suggestion that the woman he so hated had met a horrible
and disgusting death at the hands of savages.
"I'm afraid not, Byrne," said Theriere, in a voice that none
there would have recognized as that of the harsh and masterful
second officer of the Halfmoon.
"Yer afraid not!" echoed Billy Byrne, in amazement.
"For her sake I hope that they did," said Theriere; "for
such as she it would have been a far less horrible fate than the
one I fear they have reserved her for."
"You mean--" queried Byrne, and then he stopped, for the
realization of just what Theriere did mean swept over him
There was no particular reason why Billy Byrne should
have felt toward women the finer sentiments which are so
cherished a possession of those men who have been gently
born and raised, even after they have learned that all women
are not as was the feminine ideal of their boyhood.
Billy's mother, always foul-mouthed and quarrelsome, had
been a veritable demon when drunk, and drunk she had been
whenever she could, by hook or crook, raise the price of
whiskey. Never, to Billy's recollection, had she spoken a word
of endearment to him; and so terribly had she abused him
that even while he was yet a little boy, scarce out of babyhood,
he had learned to view her with a hatred as deeprooted
as is the affection of most little children for their mothers.
When he had come to man's estate he had defended himself
from the woman's brutal assaults as he would have defended
himself from another man--when she had struck, Billy had
struck back; the only thing to his credit being that he never
had struck her except in self-defense. Chastity in woman was
to him a thing to joke of--he did not believe that it existed;
for he judged other women by the one he knew best--his
mother. And as he hated her, so he hated them all. He had
doubly hated Barbara Harding since she not only was a
woman, but a woman of the class he loathed.
And so it was strange and inexplicable that the suggestion
of the girl's probable fate should have affected Billy Byrne as
it did. He did not stop to reason about it at all--he simply
knew that he felt a mad and unreasoning rage against the
creatures that had borne the girl away. Outwardly Billy
showed no indication of the turmoil that raged within his
"We gotta find her, bo," he said to Theriere. "We gotta
find the skirt."
Ordinarily Billy would have blustered about the terrible
things he would do to the objects of his wrath when once he
had them in his power; but now he was strangely quiet--only
the firm set of his strong chin, and the steely glitter of his gray
eyes gave token of the iron resolution within.
Theriere, who had been walking slowly to and fro about
the dead men, now called the others to him.
"Here's their trail," he said. "If it's as plain as that all the
way we won't be long in overhauling them. Come along."
Before he had the words half out of his mouth the mucker
was forging ahead through the jungle along the well-marked
spoor of the samurai.
"Wot kind of men do you suppose they are?" asked Red
"Malaysian head-hunters, unquestionably," replied Theriere.
Red Sanders shuddered inwardly. The appellation had a
most gruesome sound.
"Come on!" cried Theriere, and started off after the mucker,
who already was out of sight in the thick forest.
Red Sanders and Wison took a few steps after the Frenchman.
Theriere turned once to see that they were following
him, and then a turn in the trail hid them from his view. Red
"Damme if I'm goin' to get my coconut hacked off on any
such wild-goose chase as this," he said to Wison.
"The girl's more'n likely dead long ago," said the other.
"Sure she is," returned Red Sanders, "an' if we go buttin'
into that there thicket we'll be dead too. Ugh! Poor Miller.
Poor Swenson. It's orful. Did you see wot they done to 'em
beside cuttin' off their heads?"
"Yes," whispered Wison, looking suddenly behind him.
Red Sanders gave a little start, peering in the direction that
his companion had looked.
"Wot was it?" he whimpered. "Wot did you do that fer?"
"I thought I seen something move there," replied Wison.
"Fer Gawd's sake let's get outen this," and without waiting
for a word of assent from his companion the sailor turned
and ran at breakneck speed along the little path toward the
spot where Divine, Blanco, and Bony Sawyer were stationed.
When they arrived Bony was just on the point of setting out
for the spring to fetch water, but at sight of the frightened,
breathless men he returned to hear their story.
"What's up?" shouted Divine. "You men look as though
you'd seen a ghost. Where are the others?"
"They're all murdered, and their heads cut off," cried Red
Sanders. "We found the bunch that got Miller, Swenson, and
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