Infomotions, Inc.Captain Scraggs or, The Green-Pea Pirates / Kyne, Peter B. (Peter Bernard), 1880-1957



Author: Kyne, Peter B. (Peter Bernard), 1880-1957
Title: Captain Scraggs or, The Green-Pea Pirates
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): gibney; scraggs; captain scraggs; mcguffey; scraggsy; maggie; gib; neils halvorsen; captain; dan hicks; scab johnny; gin seng; dashin' wave; jack flaherty; captain scraggs's; navigatin' officer
Contributor(s): Grant, Gordon [Illustrator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 82,861 words (short) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 67 (easy)
Identifier: etext18469
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Title: Captain Scraggs
       or, The Green-Pea Pirates

Author: Peter B. Kyne

Illustrator: Gordon Grant

Release Date: May 29, 2006 [EBook #18469]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CAPTAIN SCRAGGS ***




Produced by Suzanne Lybarger, Alison Bush and the Online
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[Illustration: "_Captain Scraggs threw his brown derby on the
deck and leaped upon it._"]


CAPTAIN SCRAGGS

OR

THE GREEN-PEA PIRATES


BY PETER B. KYNE

AUTHOR OF CAPPY RICKS, THE LONG CHANCE,
THE VALLEY OF THE GIANTS,
WEBSTER--MAN'S MAN, ETC.


ILLUSTRATED BY

GORDON GRANT


GROSSET & DUNLAP
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK


COPYRIGHT, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1919, BY
PETER B. KYNE

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED




PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES
AT
THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N.Y.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY THE SUNSET MAGAZINE




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    "Captain Scraggs threw his brown derby on the
      deck and leaped upon it" _Frontispiece_   (_See page 6_)

                                                        FACING PAGE

    "'Great Snakes!' he yelled--and fell back against
      the cabin wall"                                      156

    "Captain Scraggs ... broke from the circle
      of savages ... and fled for the beach"               232

    "Tabu-Tabu ... planted a mighty right in
      the centre of Mr. Gibney's physiognomy"              252




CAPTAIN SCRAGGS

OR

THE GREEN-PEA PIRATES




CHAPTER I


They had seen the fog rolling down the coast shortly after the
_Maggie_ had rounded Pilar Point at sunset and headed north.
Captain Scraggs has been steamboating too many unprofitable years
on San Francisco Bay, the Suisun and San Pablo sloughs and
dogholes and the Sacramento River to be deceived as to the
character of that fog, and he remarked as much to Mr. Gibney.
"We'd better turn back to Halfmoon Bay and tie up at the dock,"
he added.

"Calamity howler!" retorted Mr. Gibney and gave the wheel a spoke
or two. "Scraggsy, you're enough to make a real sailor sick at
the stomach."

"But I tell you she's a tule fog, Gib. She rises up in the
marshes of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, drifts down to the bay
and out the Golden Gate and just naturally blocks the wheels of
commerce while she lasts. Why, I've known the ferry boats between
San Francisco and Oakland to get lost for hours on their
twenty-minute run--and all along of a blasted tule fog."

"I don't doubt your word a mite, Scraggsy. I never did see a
ferry-boat skipper that knew shucks about sailorizing," the
imperturbable Gibney responded. "Me, I'll smell my way home in
any tule fog."

"Maybe you can an' maybe you can't, Gib, although far be it
from me to question your ability. I'll take it for granted.
Nevertheless, I ain't a-goin' to run the risk o' you havin'
catarrh o' the nose an' confusin' your smells to-night. You ain't
got nothin' at stake but your job, whereas if I lose the _Maggie_
I lose my hull fortune. Bring her about, Gib, an' let's hustle
back."

"Don't be an old woman," Mr. Gibney pleaded. "Scraggs, you just
ain't got enough works inside you to fill a wrist watch."

"I ain't a-goin' to poke around in the dark an' a tule fog,
feelin' for the Golden Gate," Captain Scraggs shrilled peevishly.

"Hell's bells an' panther tracks! I've got my old courses, an' if
I foller them we can't help gettin' home."

Captain Scraggs laid his hand on Mr. Gibney's great arm and tried
to smile paternally. "Gib, my _dear_ boy," he pleaded, "control
yourself. Don't argue with me, Gib. I'm master here an' you're
mate. Do I make myself clear?"

"You do, Scraggsy. But it won't avail you nothin'. You're only
master becuz of a gentleman's agreement between us two, an'
because I'm man enough to figger there's certain rights due you
as owner o' the _Maggie_. But don't you forget that accordin' to
the records o' the Inspector's office, I'm master of the
_Maggie_, an' the way I figger it, whenever there's any call to
show a little real seamanship, that gentleman's agreement don't
stand."

"But this ain't one o' them times, Gib."

"You're whistlin' it is. If we run from this here fog, it's
skiffs to battleships we don't get into San Francisco Bay an'
discharged before six o'clock to-morrow night. By the time we've
taken on coal an' water an' what-all, it'll be eight or nine
o'clock, with me an' McGuffey entitled to mebbe three dollars
overtime an' havin' to argue an' scrap with you to git it--not to
speak o' havin' to put to sea the same night so's to be back in
Halfmoon Bay to load bright an' early next mornin'. Scraggsy, I
ain't no night bird on this run."

"Do you mean to defy me, Gib?" Captain Scraggs' little green eyes
gleamed balefully. Mr. Gibney looked down upon him with
tolerance, as a Great Dane gazes upon a fox terrier. "I certainly
do, Scraggsy, old pepper-pot," he replied calmly. "What're you
goin' to do about it?" The ghost of a smile lighted his jovial
countenance.

"Nothin'--now. I'm helpless," Captain Scraggs answered with
deadly calm. "But the minute we hit the dock you an' me parts
company."

"I don't know whether we will or not, Scraggsy. I ain't heeled
right financially to hit the beach on such short notice."

"That ain't no skin off'n my nose, Gib."

"Well, you can fire all you want, but you won't fire me. I won't
go."

"I'll get the police to remove you, you blistered pirate,"
Scraggs screamed, now quite beside himself.

"Yes? Well, the minute they let go o' me I'll come back to the
S.S. _Maggie_ and tear her apart just to see what makes her go."
He leaned out the pilot house window and sniffed. "Tule fog, all
right, Scraggs. Still, that ain't no reason why the ship's
company should fast, is it? Quit bickerin' with me, little one,
an' see if you can't wrastle up some ham an' eggs. I want my
eggs sunny side up."

Sensing the futility of further argument, Captain Scraggs sought
solace in a stream of adjectival opprobrium, plainly meant for
Mr. Gibney but delivered, nevertheless, impersonally. He closed
the pilot house door furiously behind him and started for the
galley.

"Some bright day I'm goin' to git tired o' hearin' you cuss my
proxy," Mr. Gibney bawled after him, "an' when that fatal time
arrives I'll scatter a can o' Kill-Flea over you an' the shippin'
world'll know you no more."

"Oh, go to--glory, you pig-iron polisher," Captain Scraggs tossed
back at him over his shoulder--and honour was satisfied. In the
lee of the pilot house Captain Scraggs paused, set his infamous
old brown derby hat on the deck and leaped furiously upon it with
both feet. Six times he did this; then with a blow of his fist he
knocked the ruin back into a semblance of its original shape and
immediately felt better.

"If I was you, skipper, I'd hold my temper until I got to port;
then I'd git jingled an' forgit my troubles inexpensively,"
somebody advised him.

Scraggs turned. In a little square hatch the head and shoulders
of Mr. Bartholomew McGuffey, chief engineer; first, second and
third assistant engineer, oiler, wiper, water-tender, and
coal-passer of the _Maggie_, appeared. He was standing on the
steel ladder that led up from his stuffy engine room and had
evidently come up, like a whale, for a breath of fresh air. "The
way you ruin them bonnets o' yourn sure is a scandal," Mr.
McGuffey concluded. "If I had a temper as nasty as yourn I'd
take soothin' syrup or somethin' for it."

Without waiting for a reply, Mr. McGuffey dropped back into his
department and Captain Scraggs, his soul filled with rage and
dire forebodings, repaired to the galley, and "candled" four
dozen eggs. Out of the four dozen he found nine with black spots
in them and carefully set them aside to be fried, sunny side up,
for Mr. Gibney and McGuffey.




CHAPTER II


Before proceeding further with this narrative, due respect for
the reader's curiosity directs that we diverge for a period
sufficient to present a brief history of the steamer _Maggie_ and
her peculiar crew. We will begin with the _Maggie_.

She had been built on Puget Sound back in the eighties, and was
one hundred and six feet over all, twenty-six feet beam and seven
feet draft. Driven by a little steeple compound engine, in the
pride of her youth she could make ten knots. However, what with
old age and boiler scale, the best she could do now was six, and
had Mr. McGuffey paid the slightest heed to the limitations
imposed upon his steam gauge by the Supervising Inspector of
Boilers at San Francisco, she would have been limited to five.
Each annual inspection threatened to be her last, and Captain
Scraggs, her sole owner, lived in perpetual fear that eventually
the day must arrive when, to save the lives of himself and his
crew, he would be forced to ship a new boiler and renew the
rotten timbers around her deadwood. She had come into Captain
Scraggs's possession at public auction conducted by the United
States Marshal, following her capture as she sneaked into San
Francisco Bay one dark night with a load of Chinamen and opium
from Ensenada. She had cost him fifteen hundred hard-earned
dollars.

Scraggs--Phineas P. Scraggs, to employ his full name, was
precisely the kind of man one might expect to own and operate the
_Maggie_. Rat-faced, snaggle toothed and furtive, with a low
cunning that sometimes passed for great intelligence, Scraggs'
character is best described in a homely American word. He was
"ornery." A native of San Francisco, he had grown up around the
docks and had developed from messboy on a river steamer to master
of bay and river steamboats, although it is not of record that he
ever commanded such a craft. Despite his "ticket" there was none
so foolish as to trust him with one--a condition of affairs which
had tended to sour a disposition not naturally sweet. The
yearning to command a steamboat gradually had developed into an
obsession. Result--the "fast and commodious S.S. _Maggie_," as
the United States Marshal had had the audacity to advertise her.

In the beginning, Captain Scraggs had planned to do bay and river
towing with the _Maggie_. Alas! The first time the unfortunate
Scraggs attempted to tow a heavily laden barge up river, a light
fog had come down, necessitating the frequent blowing of the
whistle. Following the sixth long blast, Mr. McGuffey had
whistled Scraggs on the engine room howler; swearing horribly, he
had demanded to be informed why in this and that the skipper
didn't leave that dod-gasted whistle alone. It was using up his
steam faster than he could manufacture it. Thereafter, Scraggs
had used a patent foghorn, and when the honest McGuffey had once
more succeeded in conserving sufficient steam to crawl up river,
the tide had turned and the _Maggie_ could not buck the ebb.
McGuffey declared a few new tubes in the boiler would do the
trick, but on the other hand, Mr. Gibney pointed out that the old
craft was practically punk aft and a stiff tow would jerk the
tail off the old girl. In despair, therefore, Captain Scraggs had
abandoned bay and river towing and was prepared to jump overboard
and end all, when an opportunity offered for the freighting of
garden truck and dairy produce from Halfmoon Bay to San
Francisco.

But now a difficulty arose. The new run was an "outside"
one--salt water all the way. Under the ruling of the Inspectors,
the _Maggie_ would be running coastwise the instant she engaged
in the green pea and string bean trade, and Captain Scraggs's
license provided for no such contingency. His ticket entitled him
to act as master on the waters of San Francisco Bay and the
waters tributary thereto, and although Scraggs argued that the
Pacific Ocean constituted waters "tributary thereto," if _he_
understood the English language, the Inspectors were obdurate.
What if the distance was less than twenty-five miles? they
pointed out. The voyage was undeniably coastwise and carried with
it all the risk of wind and wave. And in order to impress upon
Captain Scraggs the weight of their authority, the Inspectors
suspended for six months Captain Scraggs's bay and river license
for having dared to negotiate two coastwise voyages without
consulting them. Furthermore, they warned him that the next time
he did it they would condemn the fast and commodious _Maggie_.

In his extremity, Fate had sent to Captain Scraggs a large,
imposing, capable, but socially indifferent person who responded
to the name of Adelbert P. Gibney. Mr. Gibney had spent part of
an adventurous life in the United States Navy, where he had
applied himself and acquired a fair smattering of navigation.
Prior to entering the Navy he had been a foremast hand in clipper
ships and had held a second mate's berth. Following his discharge
from the Navy he had sailed coastwise on steam schooners, and
after attending a navigation school for two months, had procured
a license as chief mate of steam, any ocean and any tonnage.

Unfortunately for Mr. Gibney, he had a failing. Most of us have.
The most genial fellow in the world, he was cursed with too much
brains and imagination and a thirst which required quenching
around pay-day. Also, he had that beastly habit of command which
is inseparable from a born leader; when he held a first mate's
berth, he was wont to try to "run the ship" and, on occasions,
ladle out suggestions to his skipper. Thus, in time, he had
acquired a reputation for being unreliable and a wind-bag, with
the result that skippers were chary of engaging him. Not to be
too prolix, at the time Captain Scraggs made the disheartening
discovery that he had to have a skipper for the _Maggie_, Mr.
Gibney found himself reduced to the alternative of longshore work
or a fo'castle berth in a windjammer bound for blue water.

With alacrity, therefore, Mr. Gibney had accepted Scraggs's offer
of seventy-five dollars a month--"and found"--to skipper the
_Maggie_ on her coastwise run. As a first mate of steam he had no
difficulty inducing the Inspectors to grant him a license to
skipper such an abandoned craft as the _Maggie_, and accordingly
he hung up his ticket in her pilot house and was registered as
her master, albeit, under a gentlemen's agreement, with Scraggs
he was not to claim the title of captain and was known to the
world as the _Maggie's_ first mate, second mate, third mate,
quartermaster, purser, and freight clerk. One Neils Halvorsen, a
solemn Swede with a placid, bovine disposition, constituted the
fo'castle hands, while Bart McGuffey, a wastrel of the Gibney
type but slower-witted, reigned supreme in the engine room. Also
his case resembled that of Mr. Gibney in that McGuffey's job on
the _Maggie_ was the first he had had in six months and he
treasured it accordingly. For this reason he and Gibney had been
inclined to take considerable slack from Captain Scraggs until
McGuffey discovered that, in all probability, no engineer in the
world, except himself, would have the courage to trust himself
within range of the _Maggie's_ boilers, and, consequently, he had
Captain Scraggs more or less at his mercy. Upon imparting this
suspicion to Mr. Gibney, the latter decided that it would be a
cold day, indeed, when his ticket would not constitute a club
wherewith to make Scraggs, as Gibney expressed it, "mind his P's
and Q's."

It will be seen, therefore, that mutual necessity held this
queerly assorted trio together, and, though they quarrelled
furiously, nevertheless, with the passage of time their own
weaknesses and those of the _Maggie_ had aroused in each for the
other a curious affection. While Captain Scraggs frequently
"pulled" a monumental bluff and threatened to dismiss both Gibney
and McGuffey--and, in fact, occasionally went so far as to order
them off his ship, on their part Gibney and McGuffey were wont
to work the same racket and resign. With the subsidence of their
anger and the return to reason, however, the trio had a habit of
meeting accidentally in the Bowhead saloon, where, sooner or
later, they were certain to bury their grudge in a foaming beaker
of steam beer, and return joyfully to the _Maggie_.

Of all the little ship's company, Neils Halvorsen, colloquially
designated as "The Squarehead," was the only individual who was,
in truth and in fact, his own man. Neils was steady, industrious,
faithful, capable, and reliable; any one of a hundred deckhand
jobs were ever open to Neils, yet, for some reason best known to
himself, he preferred to stick by the _Maggie_. In his dull way
it is probable that he was fascinated by the agile intelligence
of Mr. Gibney, the vitriolic tongue of Captain Scraggs, and the
elephantine wit and grizzly bear courage of Mr. McGuffey. At any
rate, he delighted in hearing them snarl and wrangle.

However, to return to the _Maggie_ which we left entering the
tule fog a few miles north of Pilar Point:




CHAPTER III


Captain Scraggs and The Squarehead partook first of the ham and
eggs, coffee and bread which the skipper prepared. Scraggs then
prepared a similar meal for Mr. Gibney and McGuffey, set it in
the oven to keep warm, and descended to the engine room to
relieve McGuffey for dinner. Neils at the same time took the
course from Mr. Gibney and relieved the latter at the wheel. By
this time, darkness had descended upon the world, and the
_Maggie_ had entered the fog; following her custom she proceeded
in absolute silence, although as a partial offset to the extreme
liability to collision with other coastwise craft, due to the
non-whistling rule aboard the _Maggie_, Mr. Gibney had laid a
course half a mile inside the usual steamer lanes, albeit due to
his overwhelming desire for peace he had neglected to inform his
owner of this; the honest fellow proceeded upon the hypothesis
that what people do not know is not apt to trouble them.

Mr. McGuffey was already seated and disposing of his meal when
Mr. Gibney entered. "Gib," he declared with his mouth full,
"rinse the taste o' chewin' tobacco out o' your mouth before
startin' to eat, an' then tell me, as man to man, if them eggs is
fit for human consumption."

Mr. Gibney conformed with the engineer's request. "Eatable but
venerable," was his verdict. "That infernal Scraggs is tryin' to
make the _Maggie_ pay dividends at the expense of our stomachs."

"_And_ at the risk of our lives, Gib. I move we declare a
strike until Scraggs digs up the money to overhaul the boiler.
Just before we slipped into the fog I saw two steam schooners
headed south--so they must 'a' seen us headed north. Jes' listen
at them a-bellerin' off there to port. They're a-watchin' and
a-listenin', expectin' to cut us down at every turn o' the screw.
First thing you know, Gib, you'll be losin' your ticket for
failin' to be courteous on the high seas."

"Six o' one an' half a dozen o' the other, Bart. If I whistle
I'll use up all your steam, an', then if we should find ourselves
in the danger zone we won't be able to get out of our own way."

"Let's refuse to take her out again until Scraggsy spends some
money on her. 'Tain't Christian the way he acts."

"Got to get in another pay day before I start the high an'
mighty, Bart. But I'll speak to the old man about them eggs. They
taste like they'd been laid by a pelican before the Civil War.
Somehow I can't eat an egg that's the least bit rotten."

"It's gettin' so," McGuffey mourned, "that I don't have no more
time off in port. When I ain't standin' by I'm repairin', an'
when I ain't doin' either I'm dreamin' about the danged old
coffee mill. For a cancelled postage stamp I'd jump the ship."

He gulped down his coffee, loaded his pipe, and went below to
relieve Scraggs, for although experience in acting as McGuffey's
relief had given Captain Scraggs what might be termed a working
knowledge of the _Maggie's_ engine, McGuffey was never happy
with Scraggs in charge, even for five minutes. The habit of years
caused him to cast a quick glance at the steam gauge, and he
noted it had dropped five pounds.

"Savin' on the coal again," he roared. "Git out o' my engine
room, you doggoned skinflint." He seized a slice bar, threw open
the furnace door, raked the fire, and commenced shovelling in
coal at a rate that almost brought the tears of anguish to his
owner's eyes. "There! The main bearin's screamin' again," he
wailed. "Oil cup's empty. Ain't I drilled it into your head
enough, Scraggsy, that she'll cry her eyes out if you don't let
her swim in oil?" He grasped the oil can and, in order to test
the efficacy of its squirt, shot a generous stream down Captain
Scraggs's collar.

"That for them rotten eggs, you miser," he growled. "Heraus mit
'em!"

Captain Scraggs fled, cursing, and sought solace in the pilot
house.

"It's as black," quoted Mr. Gibney as he entered, "as the Earl of
Hell's riding boots."

"And as thick," snarled Scraggs, "as McGuffey's head. Lordy me,
Gib, but it's thick. You'd think every bloomin' steam pipe in the
universe had busted."

"If they was all like the _Maggie's_," Mr. Gibney retorted drily,
"we wouldn't need to worry none. Not wishin' to change the
conversation, Scraggsy, but referrin' to them eggs you slipped me
and Bart for supper, all I gotta say is that the next time you go
marketin' in ancient Egypt, me an' Mac's goin' to tell the real
story o' the S.S. _Maggie_ to the Inspectors. Now, that goes.
Scatter along aft, Scraggs, and let me know what that taffrail
log has to say about it."

Captain Scraggs read the log and reported the mileage to Mr.
Gibney, who figured with the stub of a pencil on the pilot house
wall, wagged his head, and appeared satisfied. "Better go for'd,"
he ordered, "an' help The Squarehead on the lookout. At eight
o'clock we ought to be right under the lee o' Point San Pedro;
when I whistle we ought to catch the echo thrown back by the
cliff. Listen for it."

Promptly at eight o'clock, Mr. McGuffey was horrified to see his
steam gauge drop half a pound as the _Maggie's_ siren sounded.
Mr. Gibney stuck his ingenious head out of the pilot house and
listened, but no answering echo reached his ears. "Hear
anything?" he bawled.

"Heard the _Maggie's_ siren," Captain Scraggs retorted
venomously.

Mr. Gibney leaped out on deck, selected a small head of cabbage
from a broken crate and hurled it forward. Then he sprang back
into the pilot house and straightened the _Maggie_ on her course
again. He leaned over the binnacle, with the cuff of his watch
coat wiping away the moisture on the glass, and studied the
instrument carefully. "I don't trust the danged thing," he
muttered. "Guess I'll haul her off a coupler points an' try the
whistle again."

He did. Still no echo. He was inclined to believe that Captain
Scraggs had not read the taffrail log correctly, and when at
eight-thirty he tried the whistle again he was still without
results in the way of an echo from the cliff, albeit the engine
room howler brought him several of a profuse character from the
perspiring McGuffey.

"We've passed Pedro," Mr. Gibney decided. He ground his cud and
muttered ugly things to himself, for his dead reckoning had gone
astray and he was worried. The fog, if anything, was thicker than
ever. He could not even make out the phosphorescent water that
curled out from the _Maggie's_ forefoot.

Time passed. Suddenly Mr. Gibney thrilled electrically to a
shrill yip from Captain Scraggs.

"What's that?" Mr. Gibney bawled.

"I dunno. Sounds like the surf, Gib."

"Ain't you been on this run long enough to know that the surf
don't sound like nothin' else in life but breakers?" Gibney
retorted wrathfully.

"I ain't certain, Gib."

Instantly Gibney signalled McGuffey for half speed ahead.

"Breakers on the starboard bow," yelled Captain Scraggs.

"Port bow," The Squarehead corrected him.

"Oh, my great patience!" Mr. Gibney groaned. "They're on both
bows an' we're headed straight for the beach. Here's where we all
go to hell together," and he yanked wildly at the signal wire
that led to the engine room, with the intention of giving
McGuffey four bells--the signal aboard the _Maggie_ for full
speed astern. At the second jerk the wire broke, but not until
two bells had sounded in the engine room--the signal for full
speed ahead. The efficient McGuffey promptly kicked her wide
open, and the Fates decreed that, having done so, Mr. McGuffey
should forthwith climb the ladder and thrust his head out on
deck for a breath of fresh air. Instantly a chorus of shrieks up
on the fo'castle head attracted his attention to such a degree
that he failed to hear the engine room howler as Mr. Gibney blew
frantically into it.

Presently, out of the hubbub forward, Mr. McGuffey heard Captain
Scraggs wail frantically: "Stop her! For the love of heaven, stop
her!" Instantly the engineer dropped back into the engine room
and set the _Maggie_ full speed astern; then he grasped the
howler and held it to his ear.

"Stop her!" he heard Gibney shriek. "Why in blazes don't you stop
her?"

"She's set astern, Gib. She'll ease up in a minute."

"You know it," Gibney answered significantly.

The _Maggie_ climbed lazily to the crest of a long oily roller,
slid recklessly down the other side, and took the following sea
over her taffrail. She still had some head on, but very
little--not quite sufficient to give her decent steerage way, as
Mr. Gibney discovered when, having at length communicated his
desires to McGuffey, he spun the wheel frantically in a belated
effort to swing the _Maggie's_ dirty nose out to sea.

"Nothin' doin'," he snarled. "She'll have to come to a complete
stop before she begins to walk backward and get steerage way on
again. She'll bump as sure as death an' taxes."

She did--with a crack that shook the rigging and caused it to
rattle like buckshot in a pan. A terrible cry--such a cry,
indeed, as might burst from the lips of a mother seeing her only
child run down by the Limited--burst from poor Captain Scraggs.
"My ship! my ship!" he howled. "My darling little _Maggie_!
They've killed you, they've killed you! The dirty lubbers!"

The succeeding wave lifted the _Maggie_ off the beach, carried
her in some fifty feet further, and deposited her gently on the
sand. She heeled over to port a little and rested there as if she
was very, very weary, nor could all the threshing of her screw in
reverse haul her off again. The surf, dashing in under her
fantail, had more power than McGuffey's engines, and, foot by
foot, the _Maggie_ proceeded to dig herself in. Mr. Gibney
listened for five minutes to the uproar that rose from the bowels
of the little steamer before he whistled up Mr. McGuffey.

"Kill her, kill her," he ordered. "Your wheel will bite into the
sand first thing you know, and tear the stern off her. You're
shakin' the old girl to pieces."




CHAPTER IV


McGuffey killed his engine, banked his fires, and came up on
deck, wiping his anxious face with a fearfully filthy sweat rag.
At the same time, Scraggs and Neils Halvorsen came crawling aft
over the deckload and when they reached the clear space around
the pilot house, Captain Scraggs threw his brown derby on the
deck and leaped upon it until, his rage abating ultimately, no
power on earth, in the air, or under the sea, could possibly have
rehabilitated it and rendered it fit for further wear, even by
Captain Scraggs. This petulant practice of jumping on his hat was
a habit with Scraggs whenever anything annoyed him particularly
and was always infallible evidence that a simple declarative
sentence had stuck in his throat.

"Well, old whirling dervish," Mr. Gibney demanded calmly when
Scraggs paused for lack of breath to continue his dance, "what
about it? We're up Salt Creek without a paddle; all hell to pay
and no pitch hot."

"McGuffey's fired!" Captain Scraggs screeched.

"Come, come, Scraggsy, old tarpot," Mr. Gibney soothed. "This
ain't no time for fightin'. Thinkin' an' actin' is all that saves
the _Maggie_ now."

But Captain Scraggs was beyond reason. "McGuffey's fired!
McGuffey's fired!" he reiterated. "The dirty rotten wharf rat!
Call yourself an engineer?" he continued, witheringly. "As an
engineer you're a howling success at shoemakin', you slob. I'll
fix your clock for you, my hearty. I'll have your ticket took
away from you, an' that's no Chinaman's dream, nuther."

"It's all my fault runnin' by dead reckonin'," the honest Gibney
protested. "Mac ain't to fault. The engine room telegraph busted
an' he got the wrong signal."

"It's his business to see to it that he's got an engine room
telegraph that won't bust----"

"You dog!" McGuffey roared and sprang at the skipper, who leaped
nimbly up the little ladder to the top of the pilot house and
stood prepared to kick Mr. McGuffey in the face should that
worthy venture up after him. "I can't persuade you to git me
nothin' that I ought to have. I'm tired workin' with junk an'
scraps an' copper wire and pieces o' string. I'm through!"

"You're right--you're through, because you're fired!" Scraggs
shrieked in insane rage. "Get off my ship, you maritime impostor,
or I'll take a pistol to you. Overboard with you, you greasy,
addlepated bounder! You're rotten, understand? Rotten! Rotten!
Rotten!"

"You owe me eight dollars an' six bits, Scraggs," Mr. McGuffey
reminded his owner calmly. "Chuck down the spondulicks an' I'll
get off your ship."

Captain Scraggs was beyond reason, so he tossed the money down to
the engineer. "Now git," he commanded.

Without further ado, Mr. McGuffey started across the deckload to
the fo'castle head. Scraggs could not see him but he could hear
him--so he pelted the engineer with potatoes, cabbage heads, and
onions, the vegetables descending about the honest McGuffey in a
veritable barrage. Even in the darkness several of these missiles
took effect.

Upon reaching the very apex of the _Maggie's_ bow, Mr. McGuffey
turned and hurled a promise into the darkness: "If we ever meet
again, Scraggs, I'll make Mrs. Scraggs a widow. Paste that in
your hat--when you get a new one."

The _Maggie_ was resting easily on the beach, with the broken
water from the long lazy combers surging well up above her water
line. At most, six feet of water awaited the engineer, who stood,
peering shoreward and listening intently, oblivious to the stray
missiles which whizzed past. Presently, from out of the fog, he
heard a grinding, metallic sound and through a sudden rift in the
fog caught a brief glimpse of blue flame with sparks radiating
faintly from it.

That settled matters for Bartholomew McGuffey. The metallic sound
was the protest from the wheels of a Cliff House trolley car
rounding a curve; the blue flame was an electric manifestation
due to the intermittent contact of her trolley with the wire, wet
with fog. McGuffey knew the exact position of the _Maggie_ now,
so he poised a moment on her bow; as a wave swept past him, he
leaped overboard, scrambled ashore, made his way up the beach to
the Great Highway which flanks the shore line between the Cliff
House and Ingleside, sought a roadhouse, and warmed his interior
with four fingers of whiskey neat. Then, feeling quite content
with himself, even in his wet garments, he boarded a city-bound
trolley car and departed for the warmth and hospitality of Scab
Johnny's sailor boarding house in Oregon Street.




CHAPTER V


Captain Scraggs continued to hurl other people's vegetables into
the murk forward for at least two minutes after Mr. McGuffey had
shaken the coal dust of the _Maggie_ from his feet, and was only
recalled to more practical affairs by the bored voice of Mr.
Gibney.

"The owners o' them artichokes expect to get half a dollar apiece
for 'em in New York, Scraggsy. Cut it out, old timer, or you'll
have a claim for a freight shortage chalked up agin you."

"Nothin' matters any more," Scraggs replied in a choked voice,
and immediately sat down on the half-emptied crate of artichokes
and commenced to weep bitterly--half because of rage and half
because he regarded himself a pauper. Already he had a vision of
himself scouring the waterfront in search of a job.

"No use boo-hooin' over spilt milk, Scraggsy." Always
philosophical, the author of the owner's woe sought to carry the
disaster off lightly. "Don't add your salt tears to a saltier sea
until you're certain you're a total loss an' no insurance. I got
you into this and I suppose it's up to me to get you off, so I
guess I'll commence operations." Suiting the action to the word,
Mr. Gibney grasped the whistle cord and a strange, sad, sneezing,
wheezy moan resembling the expiring protest of a lusty pig and
gradually increasing into a long-drawn but respectable whistle
rewarded his efforts. For once, he could afford to be prodigal
with the steam, and while it lasted there could be no mistaking
the fact that here was a steamer in dire distress.

The weird call for help brought Scraggs around to a fuller
realization of the enormity of the disaster which had overtaken
him. In his agony, he forgot to curse his navigating officer for
the latter's stubbornness in refusing to turn back when the fog
threatened. He clutched Mr. Gibney by the right arm, thereby
interrupting for an instant the dismal outburst from the
_Maggie's_ siren.

"Gib," he moaned, "I'm a ruined man. How're we ever to get the
old sweetheart off whole? Answer me that, Gib. Answer me, I say.
How're we to get my _Maggie_ off the beach?"

Mr. Gibney shook himself loose from that frantic grip and
continued his pull on the whistle until the _Maggie_, taking a
false note, quavered, moaned, spat steam a minute, and subsided
with what might be termed a nautical sob. "Now see what you've
done," he bawled. "You've made me bust the whistle."

"Answer my question, Gib."

"We'll never get her off if you don't quit interferin' an' give
me time to think. I'll admit there ain't much of a chance,
because it's dead low water now an' just as soon as the tide is
at the flood she'll drive further up the beach an' fall apart."

"Perhaps McGuffey will have heart enough to telephone into the
city for a tug."

"'Tain't scarcely probable, Scraggsy. You abused him vile an'
threw a lot of fodder at him."

"I wish I'd been took with paralysis first," Scraggs wailed
bitterly. "You'd best jump ashore, Gib, an' 'phone in. We're just
below the Cliff House and you can run up to one o' them beach
resorts an' 'phone in to the Red Stack Tug Boat Company."

"'Twouldn't be ethics for me, the registered master o' the
_Maggie_, to desert the ship, Scraggsy, old stick-in-the-mud.
What's the matter with gettin' your own shanks wet?"

"I dassen't, Gib. I've had a touch of chills an' fever ever since
I used to run mate up the San Joaquin sloughs. Here's a nickel to
drop in the telephone slot, Gib. There's a good fellow."

"Scraggsy, you're deludin' yourself. Show me a tugboat skipper
that would come out here on a night like this to pick up the S.S.
_Maggie_, two decks an' no bottom an' loaded with garden truck,
an' I'll wag my ears an' look at the back o' my neck. She ain't
worth it."

"Ain't worth it! Why, man, I paid fifteen hundred hard cash
dollars for her."

"Fourteen hundred an' ninety-nine dollars an' ninety-nine cents
too much. They seen you comin'. However, grantin' for the sake of
argyment that she's worth the tow, the next question them towboat
skippers'll ask is: 'Who's goin' to pay the bill?' It'll be two
hundred an' fifty dollars at the lowest figger, an' if you got
that much credit with the towboat company you're some high
financier. Ain't that logic?"

"I'm afraid," Scraggs replied sadly, "it is. Still, they'd have a
lien on the _Maggie_----"

"Steamer ahoy!" came a voice from the beach.

"Man with a megaphone," Mr. Gibney cried. "Ahoy! Ahoy, there!"

"Who are you an' what's the trouble?"

Captain Scraggs took it upon himself to answer: "American steamer
_Mag_----"

Mr. Gibney sprang upon him tigerishly, placed a horny,
tobacco-smelling palm across Scraggs's mouth and effectively
smothered all further sound. "American steamer _Yankee Prince_,"
he bawled like a veritable Bull of Bashan, "of Boston, Hong Kong
to Frisco with a general cargo of sandal wood, rice, an' silk.
Where're we at?"

"Just outside the Gate. Half a mile south o' the Cliff House."

"Telephone in for a tug. We're in nice shape, restin' easy, but
our rudder's gone an' the after web o' the crank shaft's busted.
Telephone in, my man, an' I'll make it up to you when we get to a
safe anchorage. Who are you?"

"Lindstrom, of the Golden Gate Life Saving Station."

"I'll not forget you, Lindstrom. My owners are Yankees, but
they're sports."

"All right. I'll telephone. On my way!"

"God speed you," murmured Mr. Gibney, and released his hold on
Captain Scraggs, who instantly threw his arms around the
navigating officer's burly neck. "I forgive you, Adelbert," he
crooned. "I forgive you freely. By the tail of the Great Sacred
Bull, you're a marvel. She's an all-night fog or I'm a Chinaman,
and if it only stays thick enough----"

"It'll hold," Gibney retorted doggedly. "It's a tule fog. They
always hold. Quit huggin' me. Your breath's bad. Them eggs, I
guess."

Captain Scraggs, hurled forcibly backward, bumped into the pilot
house, but lost none of his enthusiasm. "You're a jewel," he
declared. "Oh, man, what a head! Whatever made you think of the
_Yankee Prince_?"

"Because," Mr. Gibney answered calmly, "there ain't no such ship,
this land of ours bein' a free republic where princes don't grow.
Still, it's a nice name, Scraggs, old tarpot--more particular
since I thought it up in a hurry. Eh, what?"

"Halvorsen," cried Captain Scraggs.

The lone deckhand emerged from a hole in the freight forward
whither he had retreated to escape the vegetable barrage put over
by Captain Scraggs when McGuffey left the ship. "Aye, aye, sir,"
he boomed.

"All hands below to the galley!" Scraggs shouted. "While we're
waitin' for this here towboat I'll brew a scuttle o' grog to
celebrate the discovery o' real seafarin' talent. Gib, my _dear_
boy, I'm proud of you. No matter what happens, I'll never have no
other navigatin' officer."

"Don't crow till you're out o' the woods," the astute Gibney
warned him.




CHAPTER VI


In the office of the Red Stack Tug Boat Company, Captain Dan
Hicks, master of the tug _Aphrodite_; Captain Jack Flaherty,
master of the _Bodega_, and Tiernan, the assistant superintendent
on night watch, sat around a hot little box stove engaged in that
occupation so dear to the maritime heart, to-wit: spinning yarns.
Dan Hicks had the floor, and was relating a tale that had to do
with his life as a freight and passenger skipper.

"We was makin' up to the dock when I see the general agent
standin' in the door o' the dock office--an' all of a sudden I
didn't feel so chipper about havin' crossed Humboldt bar in a
sou'easter. I saw the old man runnin' his eye along forty foot o'
twisted pipe railin', a wrecked bridge, three bent stanchions an'
every door an' window on the starboard side o' the ship stove in,
while the passengers crowded the rail lookin' cold an' miserable,
pea-green an' thankful. No need for me to do any explainin'. He
knew. He throws his dead fish eye up to me on what's left o' the
bridge an' I felt my job was vacant.

"'We was hit by a sea or two on Humboldt bar, sir,' I says, as if
gettin' hit by a sea or two an' havin' the ship gutted was an
every-day experience."

"'Is that so, Hicks?' says he sweetly. 'Well, now, if you hadn't
told me that I'd ha' jumped to the conclusion that a couple o'
the mess boys had got fightin' an' wrecked the ship before you
could separate 'em. Why in this an' that,' he says, 'didn't you
stick inside when any dumb fool could see the bar was breakin'?'

"'I wanted to keep the comp'ny's sailin' schedule unbroken, sir,'
I says, tryin' to be funny.

"'Well, Captain,' he says, 'it 'pears to me you've broken damned
near everything else tryin' to do it.'

"I was certain he was goin' to set me down, but the worst I got
was a three months' lay-off to teach me common sense----"

The telephone rang and Tiernan answered. Hicks and Flaherty
hitched forward in their chairs to listen.

"Hello.... Yes, Red Stack office.... Steamer _Yankee Prince_....
What's that?... silk and rice?... Half a mile below the Cliff
House, eh?... Sure, I'll send a tug right away, Lindstrom."

Tiernan hung up and faced the two skippers. "Gentlemen," he
announced, "here's a chance for a little salvage money to-night.
The American steamer _Yankee Prince_ is ashore half a mile below
the Cliff House. She's a big tramp with a valuable cargo from
Hong Kong, with her rudder gone and her crank shaft busted."

"It's high water at twelve thirty-seven," Jack Flaherty pleaded.
"You'd better send me, Tiernan. The _Bodega_ has more power than
the _Aphrodite_."

This was the truth and Dan Hicks knew it, but he was not to be
beaten out of his share of the salvage by such flimsy argument.
"Jack," he pleaded, "don't be a hog all the time. The _Yankee
Prince_ is an eight thousand ton vessel and it's a two-tug job.
Better send us both, Tiernan, and play safe. Chances are our
competitors have three tugs on the way right now."

"What a wonderful imagination you have, Dan. Eight thousand tons!
You're crazy, man. She's thirteen hundred net register and I know
it because I was in Newport News when they launched her, and I
went out with her skipper on the trial trip. She's a long,
narrow-gutted craft, with engines aft, like a lake steamer."

"We'll play safe," Tiernan decided. "Go to it--both of you, and
may the best man win. She'll belong to you, Jack, if she's
thirteen hundred net and you get your line aboard first. If she's
as big as Dan says she is, you'll be equal partners----"

But he was talking to himself. Down the dock Hicks and Flaherty
were racing for the respective commands, each shouting to his
night watchman to pipe all hands on deck. Fortunately, a goodly
head of steam was up in each tug's boilers; because of the fog
and the liability to collisions and a consequent hasty summons,
one engineer on each tug was on duty. Before Hicks and Flaherty
were in their respective pilot houses the oil burners were
roaring lustily under their respective boilers; the lines were
cast off within a minute of each other, and the two tugs raced
down the bay through the darkness and fog.

Both Hicks and Flaherty had grown old in the towboat service and
the rules of the road rested lightly on their sordid souls. They
were going over a course they knew by heart--wherefore the fog
had no terrors for them. Down the bay they raced, the _Bodega_
leading slightly, both tugs whistling at half-minute intervals.
Out through the Gate they nosed their way, heaving the lead
continuously, made a wide detour around Mile Rock and the Seal
Rocks, swung a mile to the south of the position of the _Maggie_,
and then came cautiously up the coast, whistling continuously to
acquaint the _Yankee Prince_ with their presence in the
neighbourhood. In anticipation of the necessity for replying to
this welcome sound, Captain Scraggs and Mr. Gibney had, for the
past two hours, busied themselves getting up another head of
steam in the _Maggie's_ boilers, repairing the whistle, and
splicing the wires of the engine room telegraph. Like the wise
men they were, however, they declined to sound the _Maggie's_
siren until the tugs were quite close. Even then, Mr. Gibney
shuddered, but needs must when the devil drives, so he pulled the
whistle cord and was rewarded with a weird, mournful grunt, dying
away into a gasp.

"Sounds like she has the pip," Jack Flaherty remarked to his
mate.

"Must have taken on some of that dirty Asiatic water," Dan Hicks
soliloquized, "and now her tubes have gone to glory."

Immediately, both tugs kicked ahead under a dead slow bell,
guided by a series of toots as brief as Mr. Gibney could make
them, and presently both tug lookouts reported breakers dead
ahead; whereupon Jack Flaherty got out his largest megaphone and
bellowed: "_Yankee Prince_, ahoy!" in his most approved fashion.
Dan Hicks did likewise. This irritated the avaricious Flaherty,
so he turned his megaphone in the direction of his rival and
begged him, if he still retained any of the instincts of a
seaman, to shut up; to which entreaty Dan Hicks replied with an
acidulous query as to whether or not Jack Flaherty thought he
owned the sea.

For half a minute this mild repartee continued, to be interrupted
presently by a whoop from out of the fog. It was Mr. Gibney. He
did not possess a megaphone so he had gone below and appropriated
a section of stove-pipe from the galley range, formed a
mouthpiece of cardboard and produced a makeshift that suited his
purpose admirably.

"Cut out that bickerin' like a pair of old women an' 'tend to
your business," he commanded. "Get busy there--both of you, and
shoot a line aboard. There's work enough for two."

Dan Hicks sent a man forward to heave the lead under the nose of
the _Aphrodite_, which was edging in gingerly toward the voice.
He had a searchlight but he did not attempt to use it, knowing
full well that in such a fog it would be of no avail. Guided,
therefore, by the bellowings of Mr. Gibney, reinforced by the
shrill yips of Captain Scraggs, the tug crept in closer and
closer, and when it seemed that they must be within a hundred
feet of the surf, Dan Hicks trained his Lyle gun in the direction
of Mr. Gibney's voice and shot a heaving line into the fog.

Almost simultaneous with the report of the gun came a shriek of
pain from Captain Scraggs. Straight and true the wet, heavy
knotted end of the heaving line came in over the _Maggie's_
quarter and struck him in the mouth. In the darkness he staggered
back from the stinging blow, clutched wildly at the air, slipped
and rolled over among the vegetables with the precious rope
clasped to his breast.

"I got it," he sputtered, "I got it, Gib."

"Safe, O!" Mr. Gibney bawled. "Pay out your hawser."

They met it at the taffrail as it came up out of the breakers,
wet but welcome. "Pass it around the mainmast, Scraggsy," Mr.
Gibney cautioned. "If we make fast to the towin' bits, the first
jerk'll pull the anchor bolts up through the deck."

When the hawser had been made fast to the mainmast, the leathern
lungs of Mr. Gibney made due announcement of the fact to the
expectant Captain Hicks. "As soon as you feel you've got a grip
on her," he yelled, "just hold her steady so she won't drive
further up the beach when I get my anchor up. She'll come out
like a loose tooth at the tip of the flood."

The _Aphrodite_ forged slowly ahead, taking in the slack of the
hawser. Ten minutes passed but still the hawser lay limp across
the _Maggie's_ stern. Presently out of the fog came the voice of
Captain Dan Hicks.

"Flaherty! Flaher-tee! For the love of life, Jack, where are you?
Chuck me a line, Jack. My hawser's snarled in my screw and I'm
drifting on to the beach."

"Leggo your anchor, you boob," Jack Flaherty advised.

"I want a line an' none o' your damned advice," raved Hicks.

"'Tain't my fault if you get in too close."

"I'm bumping, Jack. I'm bangin' the heart out of her. Come on,
you cur, and haul me off."

"If I pull you off, Dan Hicks, will you leave that steamer
alone? You've had your chance and failed to smother it. Now let
me have a hack at her."

"It's a bargain, Jack. I'm not badly snarled; if you haul me out
to deep water I can shake the hawser loose. I'm afraid to try so
close in."

"Comin'," yelled Flaherty.

"Now, ain't that a raw deal?" Scraggs complained. "That junk
thief gets hauled off first."

"The first shall be last an' the last shall be first," Gibney
quoted piously. "Don't be a crab, Scraggs. Pray that the fog
don't lift."

Out of the fog there rose a great hubbub of engine room gongs,
the banging of the _Bodega's_ Lyle gun, and much profanity.
Presently this ceased, so Scraggs and Gibney knew Dan Hicks was
being hauled off at last. While they waited for further
developments, Scraggs sucked at his old pipe and Mr. Gibney
munched a French carrot. "If you hadn't canned McGuffey," the
latter opined, "we might have been able to back off under our own
power as soon as the tide is at flood. This delay is worryin'
me."

Following some fifteen minutes of kicking and struggling out in
the deep water, whither the _Bodega_ had dragged her, the
_Aphrodite_ at length freed herself of the clinging hawser;
whereupon she backed in again, cautiously reeving in the hawser
as she came. Presently, Dan Hicks, true to his promise to abandon
the prize to Jack Flaherty, turned his megaphone beachward and
shouted:

"_Yankee Prince_, ahoy! Cast off my hawser. The other tug will
put a line aboard you."

But Mr. Gibney was now master of the situation. He had a good
hemp hawser stretching between him and salvation and until he
should be hauled off he had no intention of slipping that cable.
"Nothin' doin'," he answered. "We're hard an' fast, I tell you,
and I'll take no chances. It's you or both of you, but I'll not
cast off this hawser. If you want to let go, cast the hawser off
at your end." Sotto voce he remarked to Scraggs: "I see him
slippin' a three hundred dollar hawser, eh, Scraggsy, old
stick-in-the-mud?"

"But I promised Flaherty I'd let you alone," pleaded Hicks.

"What do you think you have your string fast to, anyhow? A bay
scow? If you fellows endanger my ship bickerin' over the salvage
I'll have you before the Inspectors on charges as sure as God
made little apples. I got sixty witnesses here to back up my
charges, too."

"You hear him, Jack?" howled Hicks.

"Wouldn't that swab Flaherty drive you to drink," Gibney
complained. "Trumpin' his partner's ace just for the glory an'
profit o' gettin' ahead of him?" Aloud he addressed the invisible
Flaherty: "Take it or leave it, brother Flaherty."

"I'll take it," Flaherty responded promptly.

Twenty minutes later, after much backing and swearing and heaving
of lines the _Bodega's_ hawser was finally put board the
_Maggie_. Mr. Gibney judged it would be safe now to fasten this
line to the towing bitts.

Suddenly, Captain Scraggs remembered there was no one on duty in
the _Maggie's_ engine room. With a half sob, he slid down the
greasy ladder, tore open the furnace doors and commenced
shovelling in coal with a recklessness that bordered on insanity.
When the indicator showed eighty pounds of steam he came up on
deck and discovered Mr. Gibney walking solemnly round and round
the little capstan up forward. It was creaking and groaning
dismally. Captain Scraggs thrust his engine room torch above his
head to light the scene and gazed upon his navigating officer in
blank amazement.

"What foolishness is this, Gib?" he demanded. "Are you clean
daffy, doin' a barn dance around that rusty capstan, makin' a
noise fit to frighten the fish?"

"Not much," came the laconic reply. "I'm a smart man. I'm raisin'
both anchors."

"Well, all I got to remark is that it takes a smart man to raise
both anchors when we only got one anchor to our blessed name. An'
with that anchor safe on the fo'castle head, I, for one, can't
see no sense in raisin' it."

"You tarnation jackass!" sighed Gibney. "You forget who we are.
Do you s'pose the steamer _Yankee Prince_ can lay on the beach
all night with both anchors out, an' then be got ready to tow off
in three shakes of a lamb's tail? It takes noise to get up two
anchors--so I'm makin' all the noise I can. Got any steam?"

"Eighty pounds," Scraggs confessed. Having for the moment
forgotten his identity, he was confused in the presence of the
superior intelligence of his navigating officer.

"Run aft, then, Scraggs, an' turn that cargo winch over to beat
the band until I tell you to stop. With the drum runnin' free
she'll make noise enough for a winch three times her size, but
you might give the necessary yells to make it more lifelike."

Captain Scraggs fled to the winch. At the end of five minutes,
Mr. Gibney appeared and bade him desist. Then, turning, his
improvised megaphone seaward he addressed an imaginary mate: "Mr.
Thompson, have you got your port anchor up?"

Scraggs took the cue immediately. "All clear forward, sir," he
piped.

"Send the bosun for'd an' heave the lead, Mr. Thompson."

"Very well, sir."

Here The Squarehead, who had been enjoying the unique situation
immensely, decided to take a hand. Presently, in sing-song
cadence he was reporting the depth of water alongside.

"That'll do, bosun," Gibney thundered. Then, in his natural voice
to Scraggs: "All set, Scraggsy. Guess we're ready to be pulled
off. Get down in the engine room and stand by for full speed
ahead when I give the word."

"Quick! Hurry!" Scraggs entreated as he disappeared through the
little engine-room hatch, for the tide was now at the tip of the
flood and the _Maggie_ was bumping wickedly and driving further
up the beach. Mr. Gibney turned his stovepipe seaward and
shouted: "Tugboats, ahoy!"

"Ahoy!" they answered in unison.

"All read-y-y-y! Let 'er go-o-o-o!"

The Squarehead stationed himself at the bitts with a lantern and
Mr. Gibney hastened to the pilot house and took his place at the
wheel. When the hawsers commence to lift out of the sea, The
Squarehead gave a warning shout, whereupon Mr. Gibney called the
engine room. "Give her the gun," he commanded Scraggs. "Pull
against them tugs for all you're worth. Remember this is the
steamer _Yankee Prince_. We must not come off too readily."

Captain Scraggs opened the throttle, and while the two tugs
steadily drew her off into deep water, the _Maggie_ fought
valiantly to stick to the beach and even to continue her
interrupted journey overland. She merely succeeded in stretching
both hawsers taut; slowly she was drawn seaward, stern first, and
at the expiration of fifteen minutes' steady pulling, Mr. Gibney
could restrain himself no longer. He rang for full speed
astern--and got it promptly. Then, calling Neils Halvorsen to aid
him, he abandoned the wheel and scrambled aft.

With no one at the wheel the _Maggie_ shot off at a tangent and
the hawsers slacked immediately. In the twinkling of an eye Mr.
Gibney had cast them off, and as the ends disappeared with a
swish over the stern he ran back to the pilot house, rang for
full speed ahead, put his helm hard over, and headed the _Maggie_
in the general direction of China, although as a matter of fact
he cared not what direction he pursued, provided he got away from
the beach and placed distance between the _Maggie_ and two
soon-to-be-furious tugboat skippers.




CHAPTER VII


As the _Maggie_ chugged blithely away, the navigating officer's
soul expanded in song, and in the voice of a bull walrus he
delivered himself of a deep sea chantey more popular than proper.

Presently, away off in the fog, he heard the _Bodega_ whistle.
The _Aphrodite_ answered immediately. Adelbert P. Gibney smiled
and bit a large crescent out of his navy plug, for his soul was
at peace. When The Squarehead came into the pilot house presently
and grinned at him, Mr. Gibney handed Neils an electric torch.
"Prowl around below in the old ruin, Neils," he commanded, "and
see if we're makin' any water."

A quarter of an hour later Neils Halvorsen returned to report the
_Maggie_ apparently undamaged, so Mr. Gibney changed his course
and headed stealthily in the direction of the whistling tugs. He
came up behind them presently--approaching so close under cover
of the fog that he could hear Dan Hicks and Jack Flaherty, both
under a dead-slow bell, felicitating each other through their
megaphones.

"Where d'ye suppose that dirty scoundrel's gone?" Hicks was
demanding.

"Out to sea, of course," Flaherty bellowed. "He'll stand off
until the fog lifts and then come ramping in as proud as Lucifer
and look amazed when we send him in a bill."

"Bill!" Hicks' voice dripped with sarcasm. "The Red Stack Company
will libel him, and if the old man doesn't, me an' my crew will."

"I'll bet a ripe peach he's a Jap, with a scoundrelly white
skipper and white mates. They'll all stick together for a
five-dollar bill and swear they never was on the beach at all. If
they do, how're we goin' to prove it?"

"That's logic," the eavesdropping Gibney murmured to the
binnacle.

"Oh, hell's bells, shut up and let's go home," Dan Hicks cried
wearily. "We can catch him when he comes in."

"Suppose he doesn't come in. Suppose he's bound for Seattle,
Dan."

"We can libel him wherever he goes."

"I'll bet he gave us a fictitious name, Dan!"

"Stow that grief, Jack. Stow it, or I'll go mad. The _Bodega_ has
more speed than the _Aphrodite_, so poke ahead there and let's
try to get in an hour's sleep before daylight. If you can't feel
your way in I can."

"I'll just tag along silent and lazy-like after you two
misfortunates," Mr. Gibney decided, "an' you'll do my whistlin'
for me." He called Scraggs on the howler and explained the
situation. "Regular Cook's tour," he exulted. "Personally
conducted. Off again, on again, away again, Finnegan--and not a
nickel's worth of loss unless you count them vegetables you hove
at McGuffey. Ain't you proud o' your navigatin' officer,
Scraggsy, old tarpot?"

"I am, Gib, but I'll be prouder'n ever if you can follow them
towboats in without havin' to claw off Baker's beach or the Point
Bonita rocks."

"Calamity howler," Gibney growled. Half an hour later he caught
the echo of the _Bodega's_ whistle as the sound was hurled back
from the high cliffs at Land's End, off to starboard. A minute
later he heard the hoarse growl of the siren from the fog station
on Point Bonita, on the port beam. He knew where he was now with
as much certainty as if he was navigating in broad daylight, so
he loafed along a couple of hundred yards behind the _Bodega_,
until the _Maggie_ ceased pitching--when he knew he was in the
still water inside the entrance. So he sheered over to starboard,
with Neils Halvorsen heaving the lead, and dropped anchor in five
fathoms under the lee of Fort Mason. He was quite confident of
his ability to sneak along the waterfront and creep into the
_Maggie's_ berth at Jackson Street bulkhead, but having gone
astray in his calculations once that night, a vagrant sense of
consideration for Captain Scraggs decided him to take no more
risks until the fog should lift. He could hear the _Bodega_ and
the _Aphrodite_ tooting as they continued down the bay, so he
knew they were headed for their berths at the foot of Broadway,
fog or no fog.

When Captain Scraggs, having banked his fires, came up out of the
engine room, Mr. Gibney laid a great paw paternally upon the
skipper's shoulder. "Scraggsy, old salamander," he announced, "I
think I've done enough to-night to entitle me to some sleep until
this tule fog lifts. Am I right?"

"You certainly are, Gib, my dear boy."

"Very well, then. I'll turn in. As for you, old sailor, your
night's work is not ended. Have The Squarehead row you ashore in
the skiff; I'll stay up an' work the patent foghorn so he can
find his way back to the _Maggie_, while you hike down town----"

"What for?" Scraggs demanded irritably. "I'm all wore out."

"This adventure ain't ended," Mr. Gibney warned him. "There's a
witness to our perfidy still at large. His name is B. McGuffey,
esquire, an' I'll lay you ten to one you'll find him asleep in
Scab Johnny's boardin' house. Go to him, Scraggsy, an' bring a
pint flask with you when you do; wake him up, beg his pardon,
take him to breakfast, and promise him you'll do somethin' for
his boilers. Old Mac's got a heart as tender as a infant's. You
can win him over."

"Oh, Gib, use some common sense. Mac'll lay abed until noon. It
stands to reason he'll have to, because he didn't take no change
of clothin' with him, so he'll just naturally have to wait till
his wet clothes get dry before venturin' forth an' spreadin' the
news that the _Maggie's_ on the beach. He doesn't know we're off,
an' once we're tied up at the dock and we hear Mac's been talkin'
we'll just spread the word that he was so soused he jumped
overboard an' swum ashore without waitin' to see if we could back
off. Lordy, Gib, don't work me to death. I'm that weary I could
flop on this wet deck an' be off to sleep in a pig's whisper."

"I dunno but what there's reason in what you say," Mr. Gibney
agreed. "Well, turn in, Scraggsy, but the minute we hit the dock
you run up town and fix things up with Bart."

And without further ado he set the alarm clock for seven o'clock,
kicked off his shoes, and climbed into his berth with his clothes
on.




CHAPTER VIII


The crews of the _Aphrodite_ and the _Bodega_ slept late also,
for they were weary, and fortunately, no calls for a tug came
into the office of the Red Stack Company all morning. About ten
o'clock Dan Hicks and Jack Flaherty breakfasted and about ten
thirty both met in the office. Apparently they were two souls
with but a single thought, for the right hand of each sought the
shelf whereon reposed the blue volume entitled "Lloyd's
Register." Dan Hicks reached it first, carried it to the counter,
wet his tarry index finger, and started turning the pages in a
vain search for the American steamer _Yankee Prince_. Presently
he looked up at Jack Flaherty.

"Flaherty," he said, "I think you're a liar."

"The same to you and many of them," Flaherty replied, not a whit
abashed. "You said she was an eight thousand ton tramp."

"I never went so far as to say I'd been aboard her on trial trip,
though--and I did cut down her tonnage, showin' I got the
fragments of a conscience left," Hicks defended himself.

He closed the book with a sigh and placed it back on the shelf,
just as the door opened to admit no less a personage than
Batholomew McGuffey, late chief engineer, first assistant, second
assistant, third assistant, wiper, oiler, water-tender, and
stoker of the S.S. _Maggie_. With a brief nod to Jack Flaherty
Mr. McGuffey approached Dan Hicks.

"I been lookin' for you, captain," he announced. "Say, I hear the
chief o' the _Aphrodite's_ goin' to take a three months' lay-off
to get shet of his rheumatism. Is that straight?"

"I believe it is, McGuffey."

"Well, say, I'd like to have a chance to substitoot for him. You
know my capabilities, Hicks, an' if it would be agreeable to you
to have me for your chief your recommendation would go a long way
toward landin' me the job. I'd sure make them engines behave."

"What vessel have you been on lately?" Hicks demanded cautiously,
for he knew Mr. McGuffey's reputation for non-reliability around
pay-day.

"I been with that fresh water scavenger, Scraggs, in the _Maggie_
for most a year."

"Did you quit or did Scraggs fire you?"

"He fired me," McGuffey replied honestly. "If he hadn't I'd have
quit, so it's a toss-up. Comin' in from Halfmoon Bay last night
we got lost in the fog an' piled up on the beach just below the
Cliff House----"

"This is interesting," Jack Flaherty murmured. "You say she
walked ashore on you, McGuffey? Well, I'll be shot!"

"She did. Scraggs blamed it on me, Flaherty. He said I didn't
obey the signals from the bridge, one word led to another, an' he
went dancin' mad an' ordered me off his ship. Well, it's his
ship--or it _was_ his ship, for I'll bet a dollar she's ground to
powder by now--so all I could do was obey. I hopped overboard
an' waded ashore. I suppose all my clothes an' things is gone by
now. I left everything aboard an' had to borrow this outfit
from Scab Johnny." He grinned pathetically. "So I guess you
understand, Captain Hicks, just how bad I need that job I spoke
about a minute ago."

"I'll think it over, Mac, an' let you know," Hicks replied
evasively.

Mr. McGuffey, sensing his defeat, retired forthwith to hide his
embarrassment and distress; as the door closed behind him, Hicks
and Flaherty faced each other.

"Jack," quoth Dan Hicks, "can two towboat men, holdin' down two
hundred-dollar jobs an' presumed to have been out o' their
swaddlin' clothes for at least thirty years, afford to be laughed
off the San Francisco waterfront?"

"I know one of them that can't, Dan. At the same time, can a rat
like Phineas P. Scraggs and a beachcomber like his mate Gibney
make a pair of star-spangled monkeys out of said two towboat men
and get away with it?"

"They did that last night. Still, I've known monkeys that would
fight an' was human enough to settle a grudge. Follow me, Jack."

Together they repaired to Jackson Street bulkhead. Sure enough
there lay the _Maggie_, rubbing her blistered sides against the
bulkhead. Captain Scraggs was nowhere in sight, but Mr. Gibney
was at the winch, swinging ashore the crates of vegetables which
The Squarehead and three longshoremen loaded into the cargo net.

"We're outnumbered," Jack Flaherty whispered.

"Let's wait until she's unloaded an' Gibney an' Scraggs are
aboard alone."

They retired without having attracted the attention of Mr.
Gibney, and a few minutes later, Captain Scraggs came down the
bulkhead and sprang aboard.

"Well?" his navigating officer queried.

"Couldn't find him," Scraggs confessed. "Scab Johnny says he
loaned Mac a dry outfit an' the old boy dug out for breakfast at
seven o'clock an' ain't been around since."

"Did you try the saloons, Scraggsy?"

"I did. Likewise the cigar stands an' restaurants, an' the
readin' rooms of the Marine Engineers' Association."

"Guess he's out hustlin' a job," Mr. Gibney sighed. He was filled
with vague forebodings of evil. "If you'd only listened to my
advice last night, Scraggsy--if you'd only listened," he mourned.

"We'll cross our bridges when we come to them, Gib. Cheer up, my
boy, cheer up. I got a new engineer. He won't last, but he'll
last long enough for Mac to forget his grouch an' listen to
reason," and with this optimistic remark Captain Scraggs dropped
into the engine room to get up enough steam to keep the winch
working.

Promptly at twelve o'clock, the longshoremen knocked off work for
the lunch hour and Neils Halvorsen drifted across the street to
cool his parched throat with steam beer. While waiting for
Scraggs to come up out of the engine room, and take him to
luncheon, Mr. Gibney sauntered aft and was standing gazing
reflectively upon a spot on the _Maggie's_ stern where the
hawsers had chafed away the paint, when suddenly big forebodings
of evil returned to him a thousand fold stronger than they had
been since Scraggs's return to the little ship. He glanced up and
beheld gazing down upon him Captains Jack Flaherty and Daniel
Hicks. Battle was imminent and the valiant Gibney knew it;
wherefore he determined instantly to meet it like a man.

"Howdy, men," he saluted them. "Glad to have you aboard the
yacht," and he stepped backward to give himself fighting room.

"Here's where we collect the towage bill on the S.S. _Yankee
Prince_," Dan Hicks informed him, and leaped from the bulkhead
straight down at Mr. Gibney. Jack Flaherty followed. Mr. Gibney
welcomed Captain Hicks with a terrific right swing, which missed;
before he could guard, Dan Hicks had planted left and right where
they would do the most good and Mr. Gibney went into a clinch to
save himself further punishment.

"Scraggsy," he bawled, "Scraggsy-y-y! Help! Murder! It's Hicks
and Flaherty! Bring an ax!"

He flung Dan Hicks at Jack Flaherty; as they collided he rushed
in and dealt each of them a powerful poke. However, Messrs. Hicks
and Flaherty were sizeable persons and while, individually, they
were no match for the tremendous Gibney, nevertheless what they
lacked in horsepower they made up in pugnacity--and the salt sea
seldom breeds a craven. Captain Scraggs thrust a frightened face
up through the engine-room hatch, but at sight of the battle
royal taking place on the deck aft, his blood turned to water and
he thought only of escape. To climb up to the bulkhead without
being seen was impossible, however, so, not knowing what else to
do, he stood on the iron ladder and gazed, pop-eyed with horror,
at the unequal contest.

Backward and forward the tide of battle surged. For nearly three
minutes all Scraggs saw was an indistinct tangle of legs and
arms; then suddenly the combatants disengaged themselves and
Scraggs beheld Mr. Gibney lying prone upon the deck with a gory
face upturned to the foggy skies. When he essayed to rise and
continue the contest, Flaherty kicked him in the ribs and Hicks
cursed them; so Mr. Gibney, realizing that all was over, beat the
deck with his hand in token of surrender. Hicks and Flaherty
waited until the fallen gladiator had recovered sufficient breath
to sit up; then they pounced upon him, lifted him to the rail,
and dropped him overboard. Captain Scraggs shrieked in protest at
this added touch of barbarity, and Dan Hicks, turning, beheld
Scraggsy's white face at the hatch.

"You're next, Scraggs," he called cheerfully, and turned to peer
over the rail. Mr. Gibney had emerged on the surface and was
swimming slowly away toward an adjacent float where small boats
landed. He climbed wearily up on the float and sat there, gazing
across at Hicks and Flaherty without animus, for to his way of
thinking he had gotten off lightly, considering the enormity of
his offense. The least he had anticipated was three months in
hospital, and so grateful was he to Hicks and Flaherty for their
great forbearance that he strangled a resolve to "lay" for Hicks
and Flaherty and thrash them individually--something he was fully
able to do--and forgot his aches and pains in a lively interest
as to the fate of Captain Scraggs at the hands of the towboat
men. He was aware that Captain Scraggs had failed ignominiously
to rally to the Gibney appeal to repel boarders, and in his own
expressive terminology he hoped that what the enemy would do to
the dastard would be "a-plenty."

The enemy, meanwhile, had turned their attention upon Scraggs,
who had dodged below like a frightened rabbit and sought shelter
in the shaft alley. He had sufficient presence of mind, as he
dashed through the engine room, to snatch a large monkey wrench
off the tool rack on the wall, and, kneeling just inside the
alley entrance he turned at bay and threatened the invaders with
this weapon. Thereupon Hicks and Flaherty pelted him with lumps
of coal, but the sole result of this assault was to force Scraggs
further back into the shaft alley and out of range.

The towboat men held a council of war and decided to drown
Scraggs out. Dan Hicks ran up on deck and returned dragging
the deck fire hose behind him. He thrust the brass nozzle into
the shaft alley entrance and invited Scraggs to surrender
unconditionally or be drowned like a kitten. Scraggs, knowing his
own fire hose, defied them, so Dan Hicks started the pump while
Flaherty turned on the water. Instantly the hose burst up on deck
and Scraggs's jeers of triumph filled the engine room. The enemy
was about to draw lots to see which one of the two should crawl
into the shaft alley and throw a cupful of chloride of lime (for
they found a can of this in the engine room) in Captain Scraggs's
face, when a shadow darkened the hatch and Mr. Bartholomew
McGuffey demanded belligerently: "What's goin' on down there? Who
the devil's takin' liberties in my engine room?"

Dan Hicks explained the situation and the just cause for drastic
action which they held against the fugitive in the shaft alley.
Mr. McGuffey considered a few moments and made his decision.

"If what you say is true--an' I ain't in position to dispute you,
not havin' been present when you hauled the _Maggie_ off the
beach, I don't blame you for feeling sore. What I do blame you
for, though, is carryin' the war aboard the _Maggie_. If you
wanted to whale Gib an' Scraggsy you should ha' laid for 'em on
the dock. Under the circumstances, you make this a pers'nal
affair, an' as a member o' the crew o' the _Maggie_ I got to take
a hand an' defend my skipper agin youse two. Fact is, gentlemen,
I got a date to lick him first for what he done to me last night.
Howsumever, that's a private grouch. The fact remains that you
two jumped my pal Bert Gibney an' licked him somethin' scandalous.
Hicks, I'll take you on first. Come up out of there, you swab,
and fight. Flaherty, you stay below until I send for you; if you
try to climb up an' horn in on my fight with Hicks, Gibney'll brain
you."

A faint cheer came from the shaft alley. "Good old Mac.
At-a-boy!"

"You're on, McGuffey. Nobody ever had to beg me to fight him,"
Dan Hicks replied cordially, and climbed to the deck. To his
great surprise, Mr. McGuffey winked at him and drew him off to
the stern of the _Maggie_.

"There'll be no fight," he declared, "although we'll thud around
on deck an' yell a couple o' times to make Scraggs think we're
goin' to it. He figgers that by the time I've fought you an'
Flaherty I won't be fit for combat with him, even if I lick you
both; he's got it all figgered out that I'll wait a couple o'
days before tacklin' him, an' he thinks my temper'll cool by that
time an' he can argy me out o' my revenge. Savey?"

"I twig."

Mr. Gibney had returned to the _Maggie_ by this time and he now
took his station at the engine-room hatch and growled at Flaherty
and abused him. "Keep up your courage, Scraggsy," he called, as
Hicks and McGuffey pranced around the deck in simulated combat.
"Mac's whalin' the whey out o' Hicks an' Hicks couldn't touch him
with a buggy whip."

At the conclusion of the three minutes of horse-play, Mr.
McGuffey came to the hatch again. "Up with you, Flaherty," he
called loud enough for Captain Scraggs to hear, "up with you
before I go down after you."

Flaherty was about to possess himself of a hatchet when the face
of his confrere, Dan Hicks, appeared over McGuffey's shoulder and
grinned knowingly at him. Immediately, Flaherty hurled defiance
at his enemies and came up on deck, and once more to Captain
Scraggs came the dull sounds of apparent conflict overhead.

Suddenly a cheer broke from Mr. Gibney. "All off an' gone to
Coopertown, Scraggsy," he shouted. "Come up an' take a look at
the fallen."

Out of the shaft alley came Scraggs with a rush, tossing his
wrench aside the better to climb the ladder. He was half way up
when Mr. Gibney reached down a great hand, grasped him by the
collar, and whisked him out on deck with a single jerk. Here, to
his horror, he found himself confronted by a singularly scathless
trio who grinned triumphantly at him.

"Seein' is believin', Scraggs," Dan Hicks informed him. "That's a
lesson you taught me an' Flaherty last night, but evidently you
don't profit by experience. You're too miserable to beat up, but
just to show you it ain't possible for a dirty bay pirate like
you to skin the likes o' me an' Flaherty we purpose hangin' the
seat o' your pants up around your coat collar. Face him about,
Gibney."

Jack Flaherty raised his voice in song:

      Glorious! Glorious!
    One kick a piece for the four of us!

With a quick twist, Mr. Gibney presented Captain Scraggs for his
penance; Flaherty and McGuffey followed Dan Hicks promptly and
Captain Scraggs screamed at every kick. And now came Mr. Gibney's
turn. "For failin' to stand up like a man, Scraggsy, an' battle
Hicks an' Flaherty," he informed the culprit, and tossed him over
to McGuffey to be held in position for him.

"Don't, Gib. Please don't," Scraggs wailed. "It ain't comin' to
me from you. I never heard you callin' a-tall. Honest, I never,
Gib. Have mercy, Adelbert. You saved the _Maggie_ last night an'
a quarter interest in her is yours--if you don't kick me!"

Mr. Gibney paused, foot in mid-air; surveyed the _Maggie_ from
stem to stern, hesitated, licked his lower lip, and glanced at
the common enemy. For an instant it came into his mind to call
upon the valiant and able McGuffey to support him in a fierce
counter attack upon Hicks and Flaherty. Only for an instant,
however; then his sense of fair play conquered.

"No, Scraggsy," he replied sadly. "She ain't worth it, an' your
duplicity can't be overlooked. If there's anything I hate it's
duplicity. Here goes, Scraggsy--and get yourself a new navigatin'
officer."

Scraggs twisted and flinched instantly, and Mr. Gibney's great
boot missed the mark. "Ah," he breathed, "I'll give you an extra
for that."

"Don't! Please don't," Scraggs howled. "Lay off'n me an' I'll put
in a new boiler an' have the compass adjusted."

The words were no sooner out of his mouth than Mr. McGuffey swung
him clear of Mr. Gibney's wrath. "Swear it," he hissed. "Raise
your right hand an' swear it--an' I'll protect you from Gib."

Captain Scraggs raised a trembling right hand and swore it. "I'll
get a new fire hose an' fire buckets; I'll fix the ash hoist and
run the bedbugs an' cockroaches out of her," he added.

"You hear that, Gib?" McGuffey pleaded. "Have a heart."

"Not unless he gives her a coat of paint an' quits bickerin'
about the overtime, Bart."

"I promise," Scraggs answered him. "Pervided," he added, "you an'
dear ol' Mac promises to stick by the ship."

"It's a whack," yelled McGuffey joyfully, and whirling, struck
Dan Hicks a mighty blow on the jaw. "Off our ship, you hoodlums."
He favoured Jack Flaherty with a hearty thump and swung again on
Dan Hicks. "At 'em, Scraggsy. Here's where you prove to Gib
whether you're a man--thump--or a mouse--thump--or a--thump,
thump--bobtailed--thump--rat."

Dan Hicks had been upset, and as he sprawled on his back on deck,
he appeared to Captain Scraggs to offer at least an even chance
for victory. So Scraggs, mustering his courage, flew at poor
Hicks tooth and toenail. His best was not much but it served to
keep Dan Hicks off Mr. McGuffey while the latter was disposing of
Jack Flaherty, which he did, via the rail, even as the towboat
men had disposed of Mr. Gibney. Dan Hicks followed Flaherty, and
the crew of the _Maggie_ crowded the rail as the enemy swam to
the float, crawled up on it and departed, vowing vengeance.

"All's well that ends well, gentlemen," Mr. McGuffey announced.
"Scraggsy's goin' to buy a drink an' the past is buried an'
forgotten. Didn't old Scraggsy put up a fight, Gib?"

"No, but he tried to, Mac. I'll tell the world he did," and he
thrust out the hand of forgiveness to Scraggsy, who, realizing he
had come very handsomely out of an unlovely situation, clasped
the hands of Mr. Gibney and McGuffey and burst into tears. While
Mr. McGuffey thumped him between the shoulder blades and cursed
him affectionately, Mr. Gibney retired to change into dry
garments; when he reappeared the trio went ashore for the
promised grog and a luncheon at the skipper's expense.




CHAPTER IX


A week had elapsed and nothing of an eventful nature had
transpired to disturb the routine of life aboard the _Maggie_,
until Bartholomew McGuffey, having heard certain waterfront
whispers, considered it the part of prudence to lay his
information before Scraggs and Mr. Gibney.

"Look here, Scraggs," he began briskly. "It's all fine an' dandy
to promise me a new boiler, but when do I git it?"

"Why, jes' as soon as we can get this glut o' freight behind us,
Bart, my boy. The way it's pilin' up on us now, what with this
bein' the height o' the busy season an' all, it stands to reason
we got to wait a while for dull times before layin' the _Maggie_
up."

"What's the matter with orderin' the new boiler now so's to have
it ready to chuck into her over the week-end," McGuffey
suggested. "There needn't be no great delay."

"As owner o' the _Maggie_," Scraggs reminded him with just a
touch of asperity, "you've got to leave these details to me.
You've managed with the old boiler this long, so it 'pears to me
you might be patient an' bear with it a mite longer, Bart."

"Oh, I ain't tryin' to be disagreeable, Scraggs, only it sort o'
worries me to have to go along without bein' able to use our
whistle. We got a reputation for joggin' right along, mindin'
our business an' never replyin' to them vessels that whistle us
they're goin' to pass to port or starboard, as the case may be.
Of course when they whistle, we know what they're goin' to do,
but the trouble is _they_ don't know what we're goin' to do. Dan
Hicks an' Jack Flaherty's been makin' a quiet brag that one o'
these days or nights they'll take advantage o' this well-known
peculiarity of ourn to collide with the _Maggie_ an' sink us, and
in that case we wouldn't have no defense an' no come-back in a
court of law. Me, I don't feel like drownin' in that engine room
or gettin' cut in half by the bow o' the _Bodega_ or the
_Aphrodite_. Consequently, you'd better ship that new boiler you
promised me an' save funeral expenses. We just naturally got to
commence whistlin', Scraggsy."

"We'll commence it when business slacks up," Scraggs decided with
finality.

Mr. Gibney who, up to this moment, had said nothing, now fixed
Captain Scraggs with a piercing glance and threatened him with an
index finger across the cabin table. "We don't have to wait for
the slack season to have that there compass adjusted an' paint
the topsides o' the _Maggie_," he reminded Scraggs. "As for her
upper works, I'll paint them myself on Sundays, if you'll dig up
the paint. How about that program?"

"We'll do it all at once when we lay up to install the boiler,"
Scraggs protested. He glanced at his watch. "Sufferin' sailor!"
he cried in simulated distress. "Here it's one o'clock an' I
ain't collected a dollar o' the freight money from the last
voyage. I must beat it."

When Captain Scraggs had "beaten it," Gibney and McGuffey
exchanged expressive glances. "He's runnin' out on us," McGuffey
complained.

"Even so, Bart, even so. Therefore, the thing for us to do is to
run out on him. In other words, we'll work a month, save our
money, an' then, without a word o' complaint or argyment, we'll
walk out."

"Oh, I ain't exactly broke, Gib. I got eighty-five dollars."

"Then," quoth Gibney decisively, "we'll go on strike to-night.
Scraggsy'll be stuck in port a week before he can get another
engineer an' another navigatin' officer, me an' you bein' the
only two natural-born fools in San Francisco an' ports adjacent,
an' before three days have passed he'll be huntin' us up to
compromise."

"I don't want no compromise. What I want is a new boiler."

"You'll git it. We'll make him order the paint an' the boiler an'
pay for both in advance before we'll agree to go back to work."

The engineer nodded his approval and after sealing their pact
with a hearty handshake, they turned to and commenced discharging
the _Maggie_. When Captain Scraggs returned to the little steamer
shortly after five o'clock, to his great amazement, he discovered
Mr. Gibney and McGuffey dressed in their other suits--including
celluloid collars and cuffs.

"The cargo's out, Scraggsy, my son, the decks has been washed
down an' everything in my department is shipshape." Thus Mr.
Gibney.

"Likewise in mine," McGuffey added.

"Consequently," Mr. Gibney concluded, "we're quittin' the
_Maggie_ an' if it's all the same to you we'll have our time."

"My _dear_ Gib. Why, whatever's come over you two boys?"

"Stow your chatter, Scraggs. Shell out the cash. The only
explanation we'll make is that a burned child dreads the fire.
You've fooled us once in the matter o' that new boiler an' the
paintin', an' we're not goin' to give you a second chance. Come
through--or take the consequences. We'll sail no more with a liar
an' a fraud."

"Them's hard words, Mr. Gibney."

"The truth is allers bitter," McGuffey opined.

Captain Scraggs paused to consider the serious predicament which
confronted him. It was Saturday night. He knew Mr. McGuffey to be
the possessor of more money than usual and if he could assure
himself that this reserve should be dissipated before Monday
morning he was aware, from experience, that the strike would be
broken by Tuesday at the latest. And he could afford that delay.
He resolved, therefore, on diplomacy.

"Well, I'm sorry," he answered with every appearance of
contrition. "You fellers got me in the nine-hole an' I can't help
myself. At the same time, I appreciate fully your p'int of view,
while realizin' that I can't convince you o' mine. So we won't
have no hard feelin's at partin', boys, an' to show you I'm a
sport I'll treat to a French dinner an' a motion picture show
afterward. Further, I shall regard a refusal of said invite as a
pers'nal affront."

"By golly, you're gittin' sporty in your old age," the engineer
declared. "I'll go you, Scraggs. How about you, Gib?"

"I accept with thanks, Scraggsy, old tarpot. Personally, I
maintain that seamen should leave their troubles aboard ship."

"That's the sperrit I appreciate, boys. Come to the cabin an'
I'll pay you off. Then wait a coupler minutes till I shift into
my glad rags an' away we'll go, like Paddy Ford's goat--on our
own hook."

"Old Scraggsy's as cunnin' as a pet fox, ain't he?" the new
navigating officer whispered, as Scraggs departed for his
stateroom to change into his other suit. "He's goin' to blow
himself on us to-night, thinkin' to soften our hard resolution.
We'll fool him. Take all he gives us, but stand pat, Bart."

Bart nodded. His was one of those sturdy natures that could
always be depended upon to play the game, win, lose, or draw.

As a preliminary move, Captain Scraggs declared in favour of a
couple of cocktails to whet their appetites for the French
dinner, and accordingly the trio repaired to an adjacent saloon
and tucked three each under their belts--all at Captain Scraggs's
expense. When he proposed a fourth, Mr. Gibney's perfect
sportsmanship caused him to protest, and reluctantly Captain
Scraggs permitted Gibney to buy. Scraggs decided to have a cigar,
however, instead of another Martini. The ethics of the situation
then indicated that McGuffey should "set 'em up," which he did
over Captain Scraggs's protest--and again the wary Scraggs called
for a cigar, alleging as an excuse for his weakness that for
years three cocktails before dinner had been his absolute limit.
A fourth cocktail on an empty stomach, he declared, would kill
the evening for him.

The fourth cocktail having been disposed of, the barkeeper,
sensing further profit did he but play his part judiciously,
insisted that his customers have a drink on the house. Captain
Scraggs immediately protested that their party was degenerating
into an endurance contest--and called for another cigar. He now
had three cigars, so he gave one each to his victims and forcibly
dragged them away from the bar and up to a Pine Street French
restaurant, the proprietor of which was an Italian. Captain
Scraggs was for walking the six blocks to this restaurant, but
Mr. McGuffey had acquired, on six cocktails, what is colloquially
described as "a start," and insisted upon chartering a taxicab.

But why descend to sordid and vulgar details? Suffice that when
the artful Scraggs, pretending to be overcome by his potations
and very ill into the bargain, begged to be delivered back aboard
the _Maggie_, Messrs. McGuffey and Gibney loaded him into a
taxicab and sent him there, while they continued their search for
excitement. Where and how they found it requires no elucidation
here; it is sufficient to state that it was expensive, for when
men of the Gibney and McGuffey type have once gotten a fair start
naught but financial dissolution can stop them.

On Monday morning, Messrs. Gibney and McGuffey awoke in Scab
Johnny's boarding house. Mr. Gibney awoke first, by reason of the
fact that his stomach hammered at the door of his soul and bade
him be up and doing. While his head ached slightly from the fiery
usquebaugh of the Bowhead saloon, he craved a return to a solid
diet, so for several minutes he lay supine, conjuring in his
agile brain ways and means of supplying this need in the absence
of ready cash. "I'll have to hock my sextant," was the conclusion
at which he presently arrived. Then he commenced to heave and
surge until presently he found himself clear of the blankets and
seated in his underclothes on the side of the bed. Here, he
indulged in a series of scratchings and yawnings, after which he
disposed at a gulp of most of the water designed for his
matutinal ablutions. Ten minutes later he took his sextant under
his arm and departed for a pawnshop in lower Market Street. From
the pawnshop he returned to Scab Johnny's with eight dollars in
his pocket, routed out the contrite McGuffey, and carried the
latter off to ham and eggs.

They felt better after breakfast and for the space of an hour
lolled at the table, discussing their adventures of the past
forty-eight hours. "Well, there's one thing certain," McGuffey
concluded, "an' that thing is sure a cinch. Our strike has
petered out. I'm not busted, but I ain't heeled to continue on
strike very long, so let's mosey along down to the _Maggie's_
dock an' see how Scraggsy's gettin' along. If he has our places
filled we won't say nothin', but if he hasn't got 'em filled
he'll say somethin'."

"That's logic, Bart," Gibney agreed, and forthwith they set out
to interview Captain Scraggs. The owner of the _Maggie_ greeted
them cheerily, but after discussing generalities for half an
hour, Scraggs failed to make overtures, whereupon Mr. Gibney
announced casually that he guessed he and Mac would be on their
way. "Same here, boys," Captain Scraggs piped breezily. "I got a
new mate an' a new engineer comin' aboard at ten o'clock an' we
sail at twelve."

"Well, we'll see you occasionally," Mr. Gibney said at parting.

"Oh, sure. Don't be strangers. You're always welcome aboard the
old _Maggie_," came the careless rejoinder.

Somewhat crestfallen, the striking pair repaired to the Bowhead
saloon to discuss the situation over a glass of beer. However,
Mr. Gibney's spirits never dropped below zero while he had one
nickel to rub against another; hence such slight depression as he
felt was due to a feeling that Captain Scraggs had basely
swindled him and McGuffey. He was disappointed in Scraggs and
said as much. "However, Bart," he concluded, "we'll never say
'die' while our money holds out, and in the meantime our luck may
have changed. Let's scatter around and try to locate some kind of
a job; then when them new employees o' Scraggsy quit or get
fired--which'll be after about two voyages--an' the old man comes
round holdin' out the olive branch o' peace, we'll give him the
horselaugh."

Three days of diligent search failed to uncover the coveted job
for either, however, and on the morning of the fourth day Mr.
Gibney announced that it would be necessary to "raise the wind,"
if the pair would breakfast. "It'll probably be a late breakfast,"
he added.

"How're we goin' to git it, Gib?"

"We must test our credit, Mac. You go down to the rooms o' the
Marine Engineers' Association and kick somebody's eye out for
five dollars. I'd get out an' do some rustlin' myself, but I
ain't got no credit. When a man that's been a real sailor sinks
as low as I've sunk--from clipper ships to mate on a rotten
little bumboat--people don't respect him none. But it's different
with a marine engineer. You might be first assistant on a P.M.
boat to-day an' second assistant on a bay tug to-morrow but
nothin's thought of it."

"What're we goin' to do with the five dollars?"

"Well, we might invest it in a lottery ticket an' pray for the
capital prize--but we won't. Ain't it dawned on you, Mac, that
it's up to you an' me to find the steamer _Maggie_ an' git back
to work quick an' no back talk? Scraggs has new men in our jobs
an' these new men has got to be got rid of, otherwise there's no
tellin' how long they'll last. Naturally, this here riddance can
be accomplished easier an' without police interference on the
dock at Halfmoon Bay. We got to walk twenty miles to Halfmoon Bay
to connect with the _Maggie_ an' the five dollars is to keep us
from starvin' to death in case we miss him an' have to walk back
or wait for the return trip o' the _Maggie_."

"But suppose, after we've walked all that distance, we find
Scraggs won't take us back? Then what?"

"Why, of course he'll take us back, Bart. He'll be glad to after
we've finished with them scabs that's took our jobs an' are doin'
us out of an honest livin'. He won't be able to work the _Maggie_
back to San Francisco alone, will he?"

McGuffey nodded his approbation, and set forth to borrow the
needful five dollars. Whatever the reason, he was not successful,
and when they met again at Scab Johnny's, Mr. Gibney employed his
eloquence to obtain credit from that cold-hearted publican, but
all in vain. Scab Johnny had been too long operating on a cash
basis with Messrs. Gibney and McGuffey to risk adding to an old
unpaid bill.

They retired to the sidewalk to hold a caucus and Mr. McGuffey
located a dime which had dropped down inside the lining of his
coat. "That settles it," Gibney declared. "We've skipped two
meals but I'll be durned if we skip another. We'll ride out to
the San Mateo county line on the trolley with that dime an' then
hoof it over the hills to Halfmoon Bay. Scraggs won't git away
from the dock here until after twelve o'clock, so we know he'll
lie at Halfmoon Bay all night. If we start now we'll connect with
him in time for supper. Eh, Bart?"

"A twenty-mile hike on a tee-totally empty stomach, with a battle
royal on our hands the minute we arrive, weak an' destitoote,
ain't quite my idea o' enjoyment, Gib, but I'll go you if it
kills me. Let's up hook an' away. I'm for gittin' back to work
an' usin' moral persuasion to git that new boiler."

They took a hitch in their belts and started. From the point at
which they left the trolley to their journey's end was a stiff
six-hour jaunt, up hill and down dale, and long before the march
was half completed the unaccustomed exercise had developed sundry
galls and blisters on the Gibney heels, while the soles of poor
McGuffey's feet were so hot he voiced the apprehension that they
might burn to a crisp at any moment and drop off by the wayside.
Men less hardy and less desperate would have abandoned the trip
before ten miles had been covered.




CHAPTER X


The crew of the _Maggie_ had ceased working cargo for the day and
Captain Scraggs was busy cooking supper in the galley when the
two prodigals, exhausted, crippled, and repentant, came to the
door and coughed propitiously, but Captain Scraggs pretended not
to hear, and went on with his task of turning fried eggs with an
artistic flip of the frying pan. So Mr. Gibney spoke, struggling
bravely to appear nonchalant. With his eyes on the fried eggs and
his mouth threatening to slaver at the glorious sight, he said:

"Hello, there, Scraggsy, old tarpot. How goes it with the owner
o' the fast an' commodious steamer _Maggie_? Git that consignment
o' post-holes aboard yet?"

Mr. Gibney's honest face beamed expectantly, for he was
particularly partial to fried eggs. As for his companion in
distress, anything edible and which would serve to nullify the
gnawing at his internal economy would be welcome. Inasmuch as
Captain Scraggs did not readily reply to Mr. Gibney's salutation,
McGuffey decided to be more emphatic and to the point, albeit in
a joking way.

"Hurry up with them eggs, Scraggs," he rumbled. "Me an' Gib's
walked down from the city an' we're hungry. Jawn D. Rockerfeller'd
give a million dollars for my appetite. Fry mine hard, Scraggsy.
I want somethin' solid."

Scraggs looked up and his cold green eyes were agleam with malice
and triumph as they rested on the unhappy pair. However, he
smiled--a smile reminiscent of a cat that has just eaten a
canary--and cold chills ran down the backs of the exhausted
travellers. "Hello, boys," he piped. He turned from them to toss
a few strips of bacon into the grease with the eggs; then he
peered into the coffee pot and set it on the back of the galley
range to simmer, before facing his guests again. His attitude was
so significant that Mr. Gibney queried mournfully:

"Well, Phineas, you old vegetable hound, ain't you glad to see
us?"

"Certainly, Gib, certainly. I'm deeply appreciative of the honour
o' this visit, although I'm free to say we're hardly prepared for
company. The stores is kind o' low an' I did just figger on
havin' enough, by skimpin' a little, to last me an' my crew until
we get back to San Francisco. I'd hate to put 'em on short
rations, on account of unexpected company, because it gives the
ship a bad name. On the other hand, it's agin my disposition to
appear small over a few fried eggs, while on still another hand,
I realize you two got to get fed." He stepped to the door and
pointed. "See that little shack about two points to starboard o'
the warehouse? Well, there's a Dago livin' there an' he'll fix
you two boys up a bully meal for fifty cents each."

"Scraggsy, ol' hunks, if three-ringed circuses was sellin' for
six bits a throw me an' Bart couldn't buy a whisker from a dead
tiger." The dreadful admission brought a dull flush to Mr.
Gibney's already rubicund countenance.

"Shell out a coupler bucks, Scraggsy," McGuffey pleaded. "Me an'
Gib's so empty we rattle when we walk."

"I ain't got no money to loan you two that ups an leaves me in
the lurch, without no notice," Scraggs flared at them. "If you
two stiffs ain't able to support yourselves you'd ought to apply
for admission to the poorhouse or the Home For the Feeble-minded."

Mr. Gibney smiled fatly. "Scraggsy! You're kiddin' us."

"Not by forty fathom, I ain't."

"Phineas, we just _got_ t' eat," McGuffey declared ominously.

"Eat an' be dog-goned," the skipper snarled. "I ain't a-tryin' to
prevent you. Are you two suckin' infants that I got to _feed_
you? There's plenty o' fresh vegetables out on deck. Green peas
ain't to be sneezed at, an' as for French carrots, science'll
tell you there's ninety-two per cent. more nutriment in a carrot
than----"

Mr. Gibney halted this dissertation with upraised hand. "Scraggs,
it's about time you found out I ain't no potato bug, an' if you
think McGuffey's a coddlin' moth you're wrong agin. Fork over
them eggs an' the coffee an' a coupler slices o' dummy an' be
quick about it or I'll bust your bob-stay."

"Get off my ship, you murderin' pirates," Scraggs screamed.

"Not till we've et," the practical-minded engineer retorted.
"Even then we won't get off. Me an' Gib ain't got any feet left,
Scraggs. If we had to walk another step we'd be crippled for
life. Fry my eggs hard, I tell you."

"This is piracy, men. It's robbery on the high seas, an' I can
put you over the road for it," Scraggs warned them. "What's more,
I'll do it."

"The eggs, Scraggsy," boomed Mr. Gibney, "the eggs."

       *       *       *       *       *

Half an hour later as the pirates, replete with provender, sat
dangling their damaged underpinning over the stern railing where
the gentle wavelets laved and cooled them, Captain Scraggs
accompanied by the new navigating officer, the new engineer, and
The Squarehead, came aft. The cripples looked up, surveyed their
successors in office, and found the sight far from reassuring.

"I've already ordered you two tramps off'n my ship," Scraggs
began formally, "an' I hereby, in the presence o' reliable
witnesses, repeats the invitation. You ain't wanted; your room's
preferred to your comp'ny, an' by stayin' a minute longer, in
defiance o' my orders, you're layin' yourselves liable to a
charge o' piracy. It'd be best for you two boys to mosey along
now an' save us all a lot o' trouble."

Mr. Gibney carefully laid his pipe aside and stood up. He was
quite an imposing spectacle in his bare feet, with his trousers
rolled up to his great knees, thereby revealing his scarlet
flannel underdrawers. With a stifled groan, McGuffey rose and
stood beside his partner, and Mr. Gibney spoke:

"Scraggs, be reasonable. We ain't lookin' for trouble; not
because we don't relish it, for we do where a couple o' scabs is
concerned, but for the simple reason that we ain't in the best o'
condition to receive it, although if you force it on us we'll do
our best. If you chuck us off the _Maggie_ an' force us to walk
back to San Francisco, we're goin' to be reported as missin'.
Honest, now, Scraggsy, old side-winder, you ain't goin' to maroon
us here, alone with the vegetables, are you?"

"You done me dirt. You quit me cold. Git out. Two can play at a
dirty game an' every dog must have his day. This is my day, Gib.
Scat!"

"Pers'nally," McGuffey announced quietly, "I prefer to die aboard
the _Maggie_, if I have to. This ain't movin' day with B.
McGuffey, Esquire."

"Them's my sentiments, too, Scraggsy."

"Then defend yourselves. Come on, lads. Bear a hand an' we'll
bounce these muckers overboard." The Squarehead hung back having
no intention of waging war upon his late comrades, but the
engineer and the new navigating officer stepped briskly forward,
for they were about to fight for their jobs. Mr. Gibney halted
the advance by lifting both great hands in a deprecatory manner.

"For Heaven's sake, Scraggsy, have a heart. Don't force us to
murder you. If we're peaceable, what's to prevent you from givin'
us a passage back to San Francisco, where we're known an' where
we'll have at least a fightin' chance to git somethin' to eat
occasionally."

"You know mighty well what's to prevent me, Gib. I ain't got no
passenger license, an' I'll be keel-hauled an' skull-dragged if I
fall for your cute little game, my son. I ain't layin' myself
liable to a fine from the Inspectors an' maybe have my ticket
book took away to boot."

"You could risk your danged old ticket. It ain't no use to you on
salt water anyhow," McGuffey jeered insultingly.

"We can work our passage an' who's to know the difference,
Scraggsy?"

"You for one an' McGuffey for two. You'd have the bulge on me
forever after. You could blackmail me until I dassen't call my
ship my own."

"Don't worry, you snipe. Nobody else will ever hanker to own
her." Another insult from McGuffey. Having made up his mind that
a fight was inevitable, the honest fellow was above pleading for
mercy.

"Enough of this gab," Mr. Gibney roared. "My patience is
exhausted. I'm dog-tired an' I'm goin' to have peace if I have to
fight for it. Me an' Bart stays aboard the steamer _Maggie_ until
she gets back to Frisco town or until we're hove overboard in the
interim by the weight of numbers. An' if any man, or set o' male
bipeds that calls theirselves men, is so foolish as to try to
evict us from this packet, then all I got to say is that they're
triflin' with death." (Here Mr. Gibney thrust out his superb
chest and thumped it with his horny fists, after the fashion of
an enraged gorilla. This was sheer bluff, however, for while
there was not a drop of craven blood in the Gibney veins, he
realized that his footwork, in the event of battle, would be
sadly deficient and he hesitated to wage a losing fight.) "I got
my arms left, even if my feet is on the fritz, Scraggs," he
continued, "an' if you start anything I'll hug you an' your crew
to death. I'm a rip-roarin' grizzly bear once I'm started an'
there's such a thing as drivin' a man to desperation."

The bluff worked! Captain Scraggs turned to his retainers and
with a condescending and paternal smile, said: "Boys, let's give
the dumb fools their own way. If they insist upon takin' forcible
possession o' my ship on the high seas, there's only one name for
the crime--an' that's piracy, punishable by hangin' from the
yard-arm. We'll just let 'em stay aboard an' turn 'em over to the
police when we git back to the city."

He started for his cabin and the crew, vastly relieved, followed
him. The pirates once more sat down and permitted their hot feet
to loll overboard.

"It's cold down here nights, Gib," McGuffey opined presently.
"Where're we goin' to sleep?"

"In our old berths, of course." The success of his bluff had
operated on Gibney like a tonic. "Hop into your shoes, Bart, an'
we'll snake them two scabs out o' their berths in jig time."

"I'm dodgin' fights to-night, Gib. Let's borrow a blanket or two
from The Squarehead an' curl up on deck. It'll be warm over the
engine-room gratin'."

Mr. Gibney yawned. "I guess you're right, Bart. While you're at
it, make Scraggs come through with a blanket an' an overcoat for
a pillow. Run up an' threaten him. He'll wilt."

So McGuffey staggered forward. What arguments he used shall not
be recorded here. Suffice it, he returned with what he went
after.




CHAPTER XI


The pirates were early astir; so early, in fact, that long before
Captain Scraggs and his crew appeared on deck, Messrs. Gibney and
McGuffey had quietly cooked breakfast in the galley. They ate six
eggs each and consumed the only loaf of bread aboard, for which
act of vandalism they were rewarded half an hour later by the
sight of Captain Scraggs dancing on a new brown derby.

"It's a wonder that bird wouldn't get him a soft hat to do his
jumpin' on," McGuffey remarked. "He's ruined enough good hats to
have paid for the new boiler. Yes, sir, whenever ol' Scraggsy
gets mad he most certainly gets hoppin' mad."

"It'll soak into his head after a while that us two mean
business, Mac, an' he'll get sensible an' fire them outsiders.
I'm lookin' for him to make peace before noon."

About ten o'clock that morning the little vessel completed taking
on her cargo, the lines were cast off, and the homeward voyage
was begun. As she hauled away from the wharf, Messrs. Gibney and
McGuffey might have been observed seated on the stern bitts
smoking, the picture of contentment. Pirates under the law they
might be, but of this they knew nothing and cared less. With
them, self-preservation was, indeed, the first law of human
nature.

They were still seated on the stern bitts as the _Maggie_ came
abreast the Point Montara fog signal station, when Mr. Gibney
observed a long telescope poking out the side window of the pilot
house. "Hello," he muttered, "Scraggsy's seein' things," and
following the direction in which the telescope was pointing he
made out a large bark standing in dangerously close to the beach.
In fact, the breakers were tumbling in a long white streak over
the reefs less than a quarter of a mile from her. She was lying
stern on to the beach, with one anchor out.

In an instant all was excitement aboard the _Maggie_. "That looks
like an elegant little pick-up. She's plumb deserted," Scraggs
shouted to his navigating officer. "I don't see any distress
signals flyin' an' yet she's got an anchor out while her canvas
is hangin' so-so."

"If she had any hands aboard, you'd think they'd have sense
enough to clew up her courses," the mate answered.

At this juncture, Mr. Gibney and McGuffey, unable to restrain
their curiosity, and forgetful of the fact that they were pirates
with very sore feet, came running over the deckload and invaded
the pilot house. "Gimme that glass, you sock-eyed salmon, you,"
Gibney ordered Scraggs, and tore the telescope from the owner's
hands. "There ain't enough real seamanship in the crew o' this
craft to tax the mental make-up of a Chinaman. Hum--m--m!
American bark _Chesapeake_. Starboard anchor out; yards braced
a-box; royals an' to'-gallan'-s'ls clewed up; courses hangin' in
the buntlines an' clew garnets, Stars-an'-Stripes upside down."

He lowered the glass and roared at Neils Halvorsen, who was at
the wheel, "Starboard your helm, Squarehead. Don't be afraid of
her. We're goin' over there an' hook on to her. I should say she
is a pick-up."

Mr. Gibney had abdicated as a pirate and assumed command of the
S.S. _Maggie_. With the memory of a scant breakfast upon him,
however, Captain Scraggs was still harsh and bitter.

"Git out o' my pilot house an' aft where the police can find you
when they come lookin' for you," he screeched. "Don't you give no
orders to my deckhand."

"Stow it, you ass. Don't fly in the face of your own interests,
Scraggsy, you bandit. Yonder's a prize, but it'll require
imagination to win it; consequently you need Adelbert P. Gibney
in your business, if you're contemplatin' hookin' on to that
bark, snakin' her into San Francisco Bay, an' libelin' her for
ten thousand dollars' salvage. You an' me an' Mac an' The
Squarehead here have sailed this strip o' coast too long together
to quarrel over the first good piece o' salvage we ever run into.
Come, Scraggsy. Be decent, forget the past, an' let's dig in
together."

"If I had a gun," Scraggs cried, "I do believe I'd shoot you. Git
out o' my pilot house, I tell you, or I'll stick a knife in you.
I'll carve your gizzard, you black-guardin' pirate."

Inasmuch as Scraggs really did produce a knife, Mr. Gibney backed
prudently away. "You're mighty quick to let bygones be bygones
when you see me with a fortune in sight with you wantin' to horn
in on the deal, ain't you?" the owner jeered. "You must think I'm
a born fool."

"I don't think it a-tall. I know it. You're worse'n a born fool.
You're sufferin' from acquired idiocy, which is the mental state
folks find themselves in when they refuse to learn by experience
an' profit by example. I've always claimed you ain't got no more
imagination than a chicken, an' I'll prove it to you right now.
Here you are, braggin' about how you're goin' to salvage that
bark but givin' no thought whatever to the means to be employed.
How're you goin' to pull her off? If the _Maggie_ ever had a
towline aboard I never seen it. Perhaps, however, you're
figgerin' on poolin' all the shoestrings aboard."

"Every ship that size has a steel towin' cable, wound up on a
reel, nice an' handy," the new navigating officer reminded Mr.
Gibney. "I can put the skiff out, get the bark's line, haul it
back, an' make it fast on the bitts you two skunks has been
occupyin' instead of a prison cell."

"Hello! There's another county gone Democratic. Your old man must
ha' been to sea once an' told you about it. Them bitts won't
hold."

"I'll make the towline fast to the mainmast."

"That'll hold, I admit. But has the _Maggie_ got power enough,
what with the load she's totin' now, to tow that big bark in to
San Francisco Bay?"

"Oh, we'll take it easy an' get there some time," Scraggs chipped
in.

"You bet you'll take it easy--easier'n you think. Before you
start towin' that bark, you'll have to clew up her canvas a whole
lot to make the towin' easier, an' who's goin' to do that? An'
you got to have a man at her wheel."

"Neils an' my mate."

"If that new mate dares to leave you in command o' the _Maggie_,
alone an' unprotected on the high seas an' you with a fresh water
license, I'll----"

"Then Neils an' I'll do it."

"You don't know how. Besides, you're afraid to go aboard that
bark. You don't know what kind of a frightful disease she may
have aboard. Do you know a plague ship when you see one?"

Captain Scraggs paled a little, but the prospect of the salvage
heartened him. "I don't give a hoot," he declared. "I'll take a
chance."

"All right. Consider it taken. How're you goin' to get aboard
her?"

"In the skiff."

"Where's the skiff?"

Captain Scraggs glanced around wildly, and when McGuffey jeered
him, he cast his hat upon the deck and started to leap upon it.
The devilish Gibney was right. It appeared that owing to a glut
of freight on the landing, Captain Scraggs had decided, in view
of the fine weather prevailing, to take an unusually large cargo
that trip. With this idea in mind, he had piled freight over
every available inch of deck space until the cargo was flush with
the top of the house. On top of the house, the skiff always
rested, bottom up. Captain Scraggs had righted the skiff, piled
it full of loose artichokes from half a dozen crates broken in
the cargo net while loading, and then proceeded to pile more
vegetables on top of it and around it until the _Maggie's_ funnel
barely showed through the piled-up freight, and the little vessel
was so top heavy she was cranky. In order to get at the small
boat, therefore, it would be necessary to shift this load off the
house, and the question that now confronted Scraggs and his crew
was to find a spot that would accommodate the part of the
deckload thus shifted!

When Captain Scraggs had completed his hornpipe on his hat he
threw an appealing glance at his new mate. "We'll jettison what
freight proves an embarrassment," this astute individual advised.
"The farmers that own it will soak you a couple o' hundred
dollars for the loss, but what's that with thousands in sight
waitin' to be picked up?"

"Hear that, Gib? Hear that, you swab?"

"I heard it. Did you hear that?"

"What?"

"A nice, brisk little nor'west trade wind that's only blowin'
about thirty mile an hour. The _Maggie_ ain't got power enough to
tow the bark agin that wind. You'll haul her ahead two feet an',
in spite o' you, she'll slip back twenty-five inches."

"That trade wind dies down after sunset," the devilish new mate
informed him.

"Quite true. But in the meantime you're burning coal loafin'
around here, an' before you get the bark inside you'll be plumb
out o' coal," Mr. McGuffey reminded them. "I know this old coffin
like I know the back o' my own hand. Why, she lives on coal!
Oh-h-h, Scraggsy, Scraggsy, poor old Scraggsy," he keened in a
high falsetto voice and subsided on a crate of celery, the while
he waved his legs in the air and affected to be overcome by his
merriment. Scraggs turned the colour of a ripe old Edam cheese,
while Mr. Gibney folded his hands and looked idiotic.

"Old Phineas P. Scraggs, the salvage expert!" McGuffey's falsetto
would have maddened a sheep. "He cast his bread upon the waters
and lo, it returned to him after many days--and made him sick.
O-h-h-h-h, Scraggsy--poor old Scraggsy! If he went divin' for
pearls in three feet o' water he'd bring up a clam shell. Oh,
dear, I'm goin' to die o' this, Gib."

"Don't, Bart. I'm goin' to have need o' your well-known ability
to help salvage this bark. Scraggs, you old sinner, has it dawned
on you that what this proposition needs to get it over is a dash
o' the Adelbert P. Gibney brand of imagination?"

The new navigating officer drew Captain Scraggs aside and
whispered in his ear: "Make it up with these Smart Alecks,
Scraggs. They got it on us, but if we can send you an' Halvorsen,
McGuffey and Gibney over to the bark, you can get some sail on
her an' what with the wind helpin' us along, the _Maggie_ can tow
her all right."

Mr. Gibney saw by the hopeful, even cunning, look that leaped to
Scraggs's eyes that the problem was about to be solved without
recourse to the Gibney imagination, so he resolved to be alert
and not permit himself to be caught out on the end of a limb.
"Well, Scraggsy?" he demanded.

"I guess I need you in my business, Gib. You're right an' I'm
always wrong. It's a fact. I _ain't_ got no more imagination than
a chicken. Hence, havin' no imagination o' my own I ask you, as
man to man an' appealin' to your generous instincts as an old
friend an' former valued employee, to let bygones be bygones an'
haul us out o' the hole that threatens to make us the laughin'
stock o' the whole Pacific coast."

"Spoken like a man--I do not think. Scraggs, for once in my life
I have you where the hair is short. You find yourself up agin a
proposition that requires brains, you ain't got 'em yourself an'
at last you're forced to admit that Adelbert P. Gibney is the man
that peddles 'em. Now, you been doin' a lot o' hollerin' about me
an' Bart bein' pirates under the law an' liable to hangin' an'
imprisonment, an' that kind o' guff don't go nohow. We're willin'
to admit that mebbe we've been a little mite familiar an'
forward, bankin' on the natural leanin' of friend for friend that
you take it all for the joke it's intended to be, but when you go
to carryin' the joke too far, we got to protect ourselves.
Scraggsy, I'm willin' to dig in an' help out in a pinch, but it's
gettin' so me an' Mac can't trust you no more. We're that leery
of you we won't take your word for nothin', since you fooled him
on the new boiler an' me on the paint; consequently, we're off
you an' this salvage job unless you give us a clearance, in
writin', statin' that we are not an' never was pirates, that
we're good, law-abiding citizens an' aboard the _Maggie_ as your
guests, takin' the trip at our own risk. When you sign such a
paper, with your crew for witnesses, I'll demonstrate how that
bark can be salvaged without makin' you remove so much as a head
o' cabbage to get at your small boat. My imagination's better'n
my reputation, Scraggsy, an' I ain't workin' it for nothin!"

"Gib, my _dear_ boy. You're the most sensitive man I ever sailed
with. Can't you take a little joke?"

"Sure, I can take a little joke. It's the big ones that stick in
my craw an' stifle my friendship. Gimme a fountain pen an' a leaf
out o' the log book an' I'll draw up the affydavit for your
signature."

Scraggs complied precipitately with this request; whereupon Mr.
Gibney spread his great bulk over the chart case and with many a
twist and flip of his tongue on the up and down strokes, produced
this remarkable document:

    At Sea, Off Point Montara, aboard
    S.S. _Maggie_, of San Francisco.
    June 4, 19--.

    This is to sertify that A.P. Gibney, Esq., and Bart
    McGuffey, Esq. is law-abidin' sitisens of the U.S.A. and
    the constitootion thereof, and in no way pirates or
    such; and be it further resolved that the said parties
    hereto are aboard said American steamer _Maggie_ this
    date on the special invite of Phineas P. Scraggs, owner,
    as his guests and at their own risk.

    Witness my hand and seal:

Captain Scraggs signed without reading and the new mate and Neils
Halvorsen appended their signatures as witnesses. Mr. Gibney
thereupon folded this clearance paper into the tiniest possible
compact ball, wrapped it in a piece of tinfoil torn from a
package of tobacco, to protect it from his saliva, tucked it in
his cheek and with a sign for McGuffey to follow him, started
crawling over the cargo aft. By this time, the _Maggie_ was
within a hundred yards of the distressed bark and was ratching
slowly backward and forward before her.

"In all my born days," quoth Mr. Gibney, speaking a trifle
thickly because of the document in his mouth, "I never got such a
wallop as Scraggs handed me an' you last night. I don't forget
things like that in a hurry. Now that we got a vindication o' the
charge o' piracy agin us, I'm achin' to get shet of the _Maggie_
an' her crew, so if you'll kindly peel off all of your clothes
with the exception, say, of your underdrawers, we'll swim off to
that bark an' give Phineas P. Scraggs an exhibition of real
sailorizin' an' seamanship."

"What's the big idee?" McGuffey demanded cautiously.

"Why, we'll sail her in ourselves--me an' you--an' glom all the
salvage for ourselves. T'ell with Scraggs an' the _Maggie_ an'
that new mate an' engineer. I'm off'n 'em for life."

Pop-eyed with excitement and interest, B. McGuffey, Esquire,
stood up and with a single twist shed his cap and coat. His
shirts followed. Both he and Gibney were already minus their
shoes and socks. To slip out of their faded dungarees was the
work of an instant. Strapping their belts around their waists to
hold up their drawers, the worthy pair stepped to the rail of the
_Maggie_.

"Hey, there? Where you goin', Gib? I give you that clearance
paper on condition that you was to tell me how to salvage that
there bark without havin' to shift my cargo to get at the small
boat."

"I'm just about to tell you, Scraggs. You don't touch a thing
aboard the _Maggie_. You leave her out of it entirely. You just
jump overboard, like me an' Mac will in a jiffy, swim over to the
bark, climb aboard, and sail her in to San Francisco Bay. When
you get there you drop anchor an' call it a day's work." He
grinned broadly. "One o' these bright days, Scraggs, when me an'
Mac is just wallerin' in salvage money, drop around to see us an'
we'll give you a kick in the face. Farewell, you boobs," and he
dove overboard.

"Ta-ta," McGuffey cried in his tantalizing falsetto voice, and
followed his leader into the briny deep. As they came up and
snorted, grampus-like, shaking the water out of their eyes, they
glanced back at the _Maggie_ and observed that Captain Scraggs
was, for the third time that never-to-be-forgotten voyage,
jumping on his hat.

"If I was that far gone in a habit," quoth Mr. McGuffey as he
hauled up alongside Mr. Gibney, "I'll be switched if I wouldn't
go bareheaded an' save expenses."




CHAPTER XII


The tide was still at the flood and the two adventurers made fast
progress toward the _Chesapeake_. Choosing a favourable
opportunity as the vessel dipped, they grasped her martingale,
climbed up on the bowsprit, and ran along the bowsprit to the
to'gallan'-fo'castle. On the deck below a dead man lay in the
scuppers, and such a horrible stench pervaded the vessel that
McGuffey was taken very ill and was forced to seek the rail.

"Scurvy or somethin'," Mr. Gibney announced quite calmly. "Here's
the devil to pay. There should be chloride of lime in the mate's
storeroom--I'll scatter some on these poor devils. Too close to
port now to chuck 'em overboard. Anyhow, Bart, me an' you ain't
doctors, nor yet coroners or undertakers, so you'd better skip
along an' build a fire under the donkey aft. Matches in the
galley, of course."

"I wish she was a schooner," McGuffey complained, edging over to
the weather rail. "It'd be easier for us two to sail her then.
I'm only a marine engineer, Gib, an' while I been goin' to sea
long enough to pick up something about handlin' a vessel, still
I'll get dizzy if I go aloft--an' I'm sure to get sick. You'll
have to do all the high an' lofty tumblin'--an' how in blue
blazes us two're goin' to sail a square-rigger into port is a
mystery to me."

"Leave the worryin' to your Uncle Gib, Bart. You can take the
wheel an' steer, can't you? She has enough sail practically set
now to make her handle good. Look at them courses hangin' in the
buntlines an' the yards braced a-box! All we got to do is to
square 'em around--but never mind explanations. I'll show you how
it's done after we get steam up in the donkey. I'd prefer a wind
about two points aft her beam, but never let it be said that I
turned up my nose at a good stiff nor'west trade. I've sunk
pretty low, Mac, but I was a real sailor once an' I can sail this
old hooker wherever there's water enough to float her. It's just
pie--well, for heaven's sake, Mac, what are you standin' around
for? Ain't I ordered you to get steam up in the donkey? Lively,
you lubber. After you've got the fire goin', we'll place leadin'
blocks along the deck, lead all the runnin' gear to the winch
head, an' stand by to swing them yards when I give the word."

Mr. Gibney trotted down to the main deck and prowled aft. On the
port side of her house he found two more dead men, and a cursory
inspection of the bodies told him they had died of scurvy. He
circled the ship, came back to the fo'castle, entered, and found
four men alive in their berths, but too far gone to leave them.
"I'll have you boys in the Marine Hospital to-night," he informed
the poor creatures, and sought the master's cabin. Lying on his
bed, fully dressed, he found the skipper of the _Chesapeake_. The
man was gaunt and emaciated.

The freebooter of the green-pea trade touched his wet forelock
respectfully. "My name is Gibney, sir, an' I hold an unlimited
license as first mate of sail or steam. I was passin' up the
coast on a good-for-nothin' little bumboat, an' seen you in
distress, so me an' a friend swum over to give you the double O.
You're in a bad way, sir."

"Two hundred and eighty-seven days from Hamburg, Mr. Gibney. Our
vegetables gave out and we drank too much rain water and ate too
much fresh fish down in the Doldrums. Our potatoes all went
rotten before we were out two months. Naturally, the ship's
officers stuck it out longest, but when we drifted in here this
morning, I was the only man aboard able to stand up. I crawled up
on the to'-gallan'-fo'castle and let go the starboard anchor. I'd
had it cock-billed for three weeks. All I had to do was knock out
the stopper."

While Mr. Gibney questioned him and listened avidly to the
horrible tale of privation and despair, McGuffey appeared to
report a brisk fire under the donkey and to promise steam in
forty minutes; also that the _Maggie_ was hove to a cable length
distant, with her crew digging under the deckload of vegetables
for the small boat. "Help yourself to a belayin' pin, Bart, an'
knock 'em on the heads if they try to come aboard," Mr. Gibney
ordered nonchalantly.

"Do I understand there is a steamer at hand, Mr. Gibney?" the
master of the _Chesapeake_ queried.

"There's an excuse for one, sir. The little vegetable freighter
_Maggie_. She'll never be able to tow you in, because she ain't
got power enough, an' if she had power enough she ain't got coal
enough. Besides, Scraggs, her owner, is a rotten bad article an'
before he'll put a rope aboard you he'll tie you up on a contract
for a figger that'd make an angel weep. The way your ship lies
an' everything, me an' McGuffey can sail her in for you at half
the price."

"I can't risk my ship in the hands of two men," the sick captain
answered. "She's too valuable and so is her cargo. If this little
steamer will tow me in I'll gladly give her my towline and let
the court settle the bill."

"Not by a million," Mr. Gibney protested. "Beg pardon, sir, but
you don't know this here Scraggs like I do. I couldn't think of
lettin' him set foot on this deck."

"_You_ couldn't think of it? Well, when did _you_ take
command of _my_ ship?"

"You're flotsam an' jetsam, sir, an' practically in the breakers.
You're sick, an', for all I know, delirious, so for the sake o'
protectin' you, the sick seaman in the fo'castle an' the owners,
I'm takin' command."

The master of the _Chesapeake_ reached under his pillow and
produced a pistol. "Out of my cabin or I'll riddle you," he
barked feebly.

Mr. Gibney departed without a word of protest and proceeded to
make his arrangements, regardless of the master's consent. As he
and McGuffey busied themselves, laying the leading blocks along
the deck, they glanced toward the _Maggie_ and observed Captain
Scraggs hurling crates of vegetables overboard in an effort to
get at the small boat quickly. "He'll die when the freight claims
come in," Mr. McGuffey chortled. "Poor ol' Scraggsy!"

"How're we goin' to git that durned anchor up, Gib?"

"We ain't goin' to get it up. We're goin' to knock out a shackle
in the chain an' let her go to glory."

"Anchors is expensive, Gib. Mebbe they'll deduct the price o'
that anchor from our salvage."

"By Jupiter, you're talkin', Mac. We'll just save that anchor,
come to think of it."

"How?"

"Just let Scraggsy an' The Squarehead come aboard an' put the
ship's towin' cable aboard the _Maggie_. The _Maggie'll_ just
about be able to hold her while us four up with the anchor--_an'
cockbill_ it agin!"

"They got the skiff overside," McGuffey warned.

"Throw over the Jacob's ladder and help 'em aboard, Mac. Nothin'
like bein' neighbourly. This here's a delicate situation, what
with the old man declinin' our services in favour of a tow by the
_Maggie_, an' it occurs to me if we oppose him our standin' in
court will be impaired. I see I got to use my imagination agin."

When Captain Scraggs came aboard, Mr. Gibney escorted him around
to the master's cabin, introduced him, and stood by while they
bargained. The sick skipper glowered at Mr. Gibney when Scraggs,
with a wealth of detail, explained their presence, but, for all
his predicament, he was a shrewd man and instantly decided to use
Gibney and McGuffey as a fulcrum wherewith to pry a very low
price out of Captain Scraggs. Mr. Gibney could not forebear a
grin as he saw the captain's plan, and instantly he resolved to
further it, if for no other reason than to humiliate and
infuriate Scraggs.

"The tow will cost you five thousand, Captain," Scraggs began
pompously.

"Me an' McGuffey'll sail you in for four," Gibney declared.

"Three thousand," snarled Scraggs.

"Sailin's cheap as dirt at two thousand. As a matter of fact,
Scraggsy, me an' Mac'll sail her in for nothin' just to skin you
out o' the salvage."

"Two thousand dollars is my lowest figure," Scraggs declared.
"Take it or leave it, Captain. Under the circumstances,
bargaining is useless. Two thousand is my last bid."

The figure Scraggs named was probably one fifth of what the
master of the _Chesapeake_ knew a court would award; nevertheless
he shook his head.

"It's a straight towing job, Captain, and not a salvage
proposition at all. A tug would tow me in for two hundred and
fifty, but I'll give you five hundred."

Remembering the vegetables he had jettisoned, Scraggs knew he
could not afford to accept that price. "I'm through," he
bluffed--and his bluff worked.

"Taken, Captain Scraggs. Write out an agreement and I'll sign
it."

With the agreement in his pocket, Scraggs, followed by Gibney,
left the cabin. "One hundred each to you an' Mac if you'll stay
aboard the _Chesapeake_, steer her, an' help the _Maggie_ out
with what sail you can get on her," Scraggs promised.

"Take a long, runnin' jump at yourself, Scraggsy, old sorrowful.
The best me an' Mac'll do is to help you cockbill the anchor, an'
that'll cost you ten bucks for each of us--in advance." The
artful fellow realized that Scraggs knew nothing whatever about a
sailing ship and would have to depend upon The Squarehead for the
information he required.

"All right. Here's your money," Scraggs replied and handed Mr.
Gibney twenty dollars. He and Neils Halvorsen then went forward,
got out the steel towing cable, and fastened a light rope to the
end of it. The skiff floated off the ship at the end of the
painter, so The Squarehead hauled it in, climbed down into the
skiff, and made the light rope fast to a thwart; then, with
Captain Scraggs paying out the hawser, Neils bent manfully to the
oars and started to tow the steel cable back to the _Maggie_.
Half way there, the weight of the cable dragging behind slowed
The Squarehead up and eventually stopped him. Exerting all his
strength he pulled and pulled, but the sole result of his efforts
was to wear himself out, seeing which the _Maggie's_ navigating
officer set the little steamer in toward the perspiring Neils,
while Captain Scraggs, Gibney, and McGuffey cheered lustily.

Suddenly an oar snapped. Instantly Neils unshipped the remaining
oar, sprang to the stern, and attempted, by sculling, to keep the
skiff's head up to the waves. But the weight of the cable whirled
the little craft around, a wave rolled in over her counter, and
half-filled her; the succeeding wave completed the job and rolled
the skiff over and The Squarehead was forced to swim back to the
_Chesapeake_. He climbed up the Jacob's ladder to face a storm of
abuse from Captain Scraggs.

The cable was hauled back aboard with difficulty, owing to the
submerged skiff at the end of it. Captain Scraggs and The
Squarehead leaned over the _Chesapeake's_ rail and tugged
furiously, when the wreck came alongside, but all of their
strength was unequal to the task of righting the little craft by
hauling up on the light rope attached to her thwart.

"For ten dollars more each me an' Mac'll tail on to that rope an'
do our best to right the skiff. After she's righted, I'll bail
her out, borrow new oars from this here bark, an' help Neils row
back to the _Maggie_ with the cable," Mr. Gibney volunteered.
"Cash in advance, as per usual."

"You're a pair of highway robbers, but I'll take you," Scraggs
almost wailed, and paid out the money; whereupon Gibney and
McGuffey "tailed" on to the rope and with raucous cries hauled
away. As a result of their efforts, the thwart came away with the
rope and the quartet sat down with exceeding abruptness on the
hard pine deck of the _Chesapeake_.

"I had an idee that thwart would pull loose," Mr. Gibney
remarked, as he got up and rubbed the seat of his dungarees. "If
you'd had an ounce of sense, Scraggsy, you'd have saved twenty
dollars an' rigged a watch-tackle, although even then the thwart
would have come away, pullin' agin a vacuum that way. Well,
you've lost a good skiff worth at least twenty-five dollars not
to mention the two ash breezes that went with her. That helps
some. What're you goin' to do now? Lay the _Maggie_ alongside the
bark? I wouldn't if I was you. The sea's a mite choppy an' if you
bump the _Maggie_ agin the bark she'll do one o' two things--stave
in her topsides or bump that top-heavy deckload o' vegetables overboard.
An' if that happens," he reminded Scraggs, "you'll be doin' your
bookkeepin' with red ink for quite a spell."

"I ain't licked yet--not by a jugful," Scraggs snapped.
"Halvorsen, haul down that signal halyard from the mizzenmast,
take one end of it in your teeth, an' swim back to the _Maggie_
with it. We'll fasten a heavier line to the signal halyard, bend
the other end of the heavy line to the cable, an' haul the cable
aboard with the _Maggie's_ winch."

"You say that so nice, Scraggsy, old hopeful, I'm tempted to
think you can whistle it. Neils, he's only askin' you to risk
your life overboard for nothing. 'Tain't in the shippin' articles
that a seaman's got to do that. If he wants a swimmin' exhibition
make him pay for it--through the nose. An' if I was you, I'd find
out how much o' this two thousand dollars' towage he's goin' to
distribute to his crew. Pers'nally I'd get mine in advance."

"Adelbert P. Gibney," Captain Scraggs hissed. "There's such a
thing as drivin' a man to distraction. Halvorsen, are you with
me?"

"Aye bane--for saxty dollars. Hay bane worth a month's pay for
take dat swim."

"You dirty Scowegian ingrate. Well, you don't get no sixty
dollars from me. Bear a hand and we'll drop the ship's work boat
overboard. I guess you can tow a signal halyard to the _Maggie_,
can't you, Neils?"

Neils could--and did. Within fifteen minutes the _Maggie_ was
fast to her prize. "Now we'll cockbill the anchor," quoth Captain
Scraggs, so McGuffey reporting sufficient steam in the donkey to
turn over the windlass, the anchor was raised and cockbilled, and
the _Maggie_ hauled away on the hawser the instant Captain
Scraggs signalled his new navigating officer that the hook was
free of the bottom.

"The old girl don't seem to be makin' headway in the right
direction," McGuffey remarked plaintively, after the _Maggie_ had
strained at the hawser for five minutes. Mr. Gibney, standing by
with a hammer in his hand, nodded affirmatively, while the
skipper of the _Chesapeake_, whom Mr. Gibney had had the
forethought to carry out on deck to watch the operation, glanced
apprehensively ashore. Scraggs measured the distance with his eye
to the nearest fringe of surf and it was plain that he was
worried.

"Captain Scraggs," the skipper of the _Chesapeake_ called feebly,
"Mr. Gibney is right. That craft of yours is unable to tow my
ship against this wind. You're losing ground, inch by inch, and
it will be only a matter of an hour or two, if you hang on to me,
before I'll be in the breakers and a total loss. You'll have to
get sail on her or let go the anchor until a tug arrives."

"I don't know a thing about a sailin' ship," Scraggs quavered.

"I know it all," Mr. Gibney cut in, "but there ain't money enough
in the world to induce me to exercise that knowledge to your
profit." He turned to the master of the _Chesapeake_. "For one
hundred dollars each, McGuffey an' I will sail her in for you,
sir."

"I'll not take the risk, Mr. Gibney. Captain Scraggs, if you will
follow my instructions we'll get some sail on the _Chesapeake_.
Take those lines through the leading blocks to the winch----"

The engineer of the _Maggie_ came up on deck and waved his arms
wildly. "Leggo," he bawled. "I've blown out two tubes. It'll be
all I can do to get home without that tow."

"Jump on that, Scraggsy," quoth McGuffey softly and cast his
silken engineer's cap on the deck at Scraggs's feet. The latter's
face was ashen as he turned to the skipper of the _Chesapeake_.
"I'm through," he gulped. "I'll have to cast off. Your ship's
drivin' on to the beach now."

"Oh, say not so, Scraggsy," said Mr. Gibney softly, and with a
blow of the hammer knocked out the stopper on the windlass and
let the anchor go down by the run. "Not this voyage, at least."
The _Chesapeake_ rounded up with a jerk and Mr. Gibney took
Captain Scraggs gently by the arm. "Into the small boat, old
ruin," he whispered, "and I'll row you an' The Squarehead back to
the _Maggie_. If she drifts ashore with that load o' garden
truck, you might as well drown yourself."

Captain Scraggs was beyond words. He suffered himself to be taken
back to the _Maggie_, after which kindly action Mr. Gibney
returned to the _Chesapeake_, climbed aboard, and with the
assistance of McGuffey, hauled the work boat up on deck.




CHAPTER XIII


"Now," Mr. Gibney inquired, approaching the skipper of the
_Chesapeake_, "what'll you give me an' Mac, sir, to sail you in?
Has it dawned on you, sir, that if I hadn't had sense enough to
cockbill that anchor again you'd be on the beach this minute?"

"One thousand dollars," the skipper answered weakly.

"You refused to let us do it for a hundred. Now it'll cost you
two thousand, an' I'm lettin' you off cheap at that. Of course,
you can take a chance an' wait until word o' your predicament
sifts into San Francisco an' a tug comes out for you, but in the
meantime the wind may increase an' with the tide at the flood how
do you know your anchor won't drag an' pile you up on them rocks
to leeward?"

"I'll pay two thousand, Mr. Gibney."

Without further ado, Mr. Gibney went to the master's cabin, wrote
out an agreement, carried the skipper aft and got his signature
to the contract. Then he tucked the skipper into bed and came
dashing out on deck. The wind was from the northwest and luckily
the foreyard was braced to starboard while the mainyard was
braced to port, so his problem was a simple one.

"Come here till I introduce you to the jib halyards," he bawled
to McGuffey, and they went forward. Under Gibney's direction, the
jib halyards were taken through the leading blocks to the winch
head; McGuffey manned the winch and the jib was hauled up.
"St-eady-y-y! 'Vast heavin'," cried Mr. Gibney. "Now then, we'll
cast off them jib halyards an' make 'em fast.... Right-O.... Now
stand by to brace the foreyard. Bart, for the love o' heaven,
help me with this foreyard brace."

With the aid of the winch, they braced the foreyard; then
McGuffey ran aft and took the wheel while Mr. Gibney scuttled
forward, eased up the compressor on the windlass, and permitted
the anchor chain to pay out rapidly. With the hammer, he knocked
out the pin at the forty-five fathom shackle and leaving the
anchor to go by the board, for it worried him no longer, the bark
_Chesapeake_ moved gently off on a west-sou'-west course that
would keep her three points off the land. She had sufficient head
sail on now to hold her up.

Mr. Gibney fell upon the main to'gallan'-s'l leads like a demon,
carried them through the leading block to the winch head, turned
over the winch and sheeted home the main-to'-gallan'-s'l. The
_Chesapeake_ gathered speed and Mr. Gibney went aft and stood beside
Mr. McGuffey, the while he looked aloft and thrilled to the whine of
the breeze through the rigging. "This is sailorizin'," he declared.
"It sure beats bumboatin'. Here, blast you, Bart. You're spillin'
the wind out o' that jib. First thing you know we'll have her in
irons an' then the fat _will_ be in the fire."

He took the wheel from McGuffey. When he was two miles off the
beach he brought her up into the wind and made the wheel fast, a
spoke to leeward. "Sheet home the fore-to'-gallan'-s'l," he
howled and dashed forward. "Leggo them buntlines an' clewlines,
my hearties, an' haul home that sheet."

The ship lay in the wind, shivering. Mr. Gibney was here, there,
everywhere. One minute he was dashing along the deck with a
leading line, the next he was laying out aloft. He ordered
himself to do a thing and then, with the pent-up energy of a
thousand devils, he did it. The years of degradation as
navigating officer of the _Maggie_ fell away from him, as he
sprang, agile and half-naked, into the shrouds; a great, hairy
demi-god or sea-goblin he lay out along the yards and sprang from
place to place with the old exultant thrill of youth and joy in
his work.

"Overhaul them buntlines an' clewlines," he bawled to an
imaginary crew. "Set that main-royal." With McGuffey's help the
sheets came home, the halyards were taken to, the yards
mast-headed, and the halyards belayed to their pin. The
main-royal was now set so they fell to on the fore-royal. A word,
a gesture, from Mr. Gibney, and McGuffey would pounce on a rope
like a bull-dog. With the fore-royal set, Mr. Gibney ran back to
the wheel and put it hard over. There being no after sail set the
bark swung off readily on to her course, slipping through the
water at a nice eight-knot speed. Ten miles off the coast, Mr.
Gibney hung her up in the wind again, braced his yards with the
aid of the winch and McGuffey, came about and headed north. At
three o'clock she cleared the lightship and wore around to come
in over the bar, steering east by south, half-south, for Point
Bonita. She drew the full advantage of the wind now and over the
bar she came, ramping full through the Gate with her yards
squared, on the last of the flood tide.

As they passed Lime Point, Mr. Gibney prepared to shorten sail
and like a clarion blast his voice rang through the ship.

"Clew up them royals." He lashed the wheel and they brought the
clewlines again to the winch head. The ship was falling off a
little before the fore-royal was clewed up, so Mr. Gibney ran
back to the wheel and put her on her course again while McGuffey
brought the main-royal clewlines to the winch. Again Gibney made
the wheel fast and helped McGuffey clew up the main-royal; again
he set her on her course while McGuffey, following instructions,
made ready to clew up the fore-to'-gallan'-s'l. They were abreast
Black Point before this latter sail was clewed up, and then they
smothered the lower top-s'ls; the bark was slipping lazily
through the water and McGuffey took the wheel.

"Starboard a little! Steady-y-y! Keep her as she heads," Gibney
warned and cast off the jib halyards. The jibs slid down the
stays, hanging as they fell. They were well up toward Meiggs
wharf now and it devolved upon Mr. Gibney to bring his prize in
on the quarantine ground and let go his port anchor. Fortunately,
the anchor was already cock-billed. Mr. Gibney sprang to the
fore-top-sail halyards and let them go and the fore-top-sail came
down by the run.

"Hard-a-starboard! Make her fast, Bart, an' come up here an' help
me with the anchor. Let go the main-top-sail halyards as you come
by an' stand by the compressor on the windlass."

The _Chesapeake_ swung slowly, broadside to the first of the ebb
and with the wind on her port beam, Mr. Gibney knocked out the
stopper with his trusty hammer and away went the rusty chain,
singing through the hawsepipe. "Snub her gently, Mac, snub her
gently, an' give her the thirty-fathom shackle to the water's
edge," he warned McGuffey.

The bark swung until her bows were straightened to the ebb tide
and with a wild, triumphant yell Mr. Gibney clasped the honest
McGuffey to his perspiring bosom. The deed was done!

It was dark, however, before they had all the sails snugged up
shipshape, although in the meantime the quarantine launch had
hove alongside, investigated, and removed those of the crew who
still lived. Shortly thereafter the coroner came and removed the
dead, after which Gibney and McGuffey hosed down the deck,
located some hard tack and coffee, supped and turned in in the
officers' quarters. In the morning, Scab Johnny arrived in a
launch with their other clothes (Mr. Gibney having thoughtfully
sent him ten dollars on account of their old board bill, together
with a request for the clothes), and when the agents of the
_Chesapeake_ sent a watchman to relieve them they went ashore and
had breakfast at the Marigold Cafe. After breakfast, they called
at the office of the agents, where they were complimented on
their daring seamanship and received a check for one thousand
dollars each.

"Well, now," McGuffey declared, after they had cashed their
checks, "Seein' as how I've become independently wealthy by
following your lead, Adelbert, all I got to say is that I'm
a-goin' to stick to you like a limpet to a rock. What'll we do
with our money?"

For the first time in his checkered career Mr. Gibney had a sane,
sensible, and serious thought. "Has it ever occurred to you, Mac,
how much nicer it is to have a few dollars in the bank, good
clothes on your back, an' a credit with your friends? Me, all my
life I been a come-easy, go-easy, come-Sunday,-God'll-send-Monday
sort o' feller, until in my forty-second year I'm little better'n
a beachcomber. It sure hurt me to have to beg that ornery Scraggs
for a job; if I ever sighed for independence it was the other
night in Halfmoon Bay when, footsore an' desperate, we stood by
an' let that little wart harpoon us. So now, when you ask me what
I'm goin' to do with my money, I'll tell you I'm going to save
it, after first payin' up about seventy-five bucks I owe here an'
there along the Front. I'm through drinkin' an' raisin' hell. Me
for a savings bank, Bart."

"I said I'd string with you an' I will. After we deposit our
money suppose we drop down to Jackson Street wharf an' say hello
to Scraggs. I got a great curiosity to see what that new engineer
has done to my boiler."




CHAPTER XIV


When Captain Scraggs, after abandoning all hope of salving the
bark _Chesapeake_, returned to the _Maggie_, the little craft
reminded him of nothing so much as the ward for the incorrigible
of an insane asylum. Due to Captain Scraggs's stupidity and the
general inefficiency of the _Maggie_, the new navigating officer
was of the opinion that he had been swindled out of his share of
the salvage, while the new engineer, furious at having been
engaged to baby such a ruin as the _Maggie's_ boiler turned out
to be, blamed Scraggs's parsimony for the loss of _his_ share of
the salvage. Therefore, both men aired with the utmost frankness
their opinion of their employer; even Neils Halvorsen was peeved.
Their depression and rage was nothing, however, compared with
that of Captain Scraggs's. He had recklessly jettisoned
approximately two hundred dollars' worth of vegetables; indeed
the loss might go higher, for all he knew. Also, he had lost his
skiff, and McGuffey and Gibney had practically blackmailed him
out of forty dollars. Then, to cap the climax, he had been forced
to abandon two thousand dollars to his enemies; and as the
_Maggie_ crept north at three knots an hour the knowledge that he
must, even against his desires, install a new boiler, overwhelmed
him to such an extent that he found it impossible to submit
silently to the nagging of the navigating officer. One word
borrowed another until diplomatic relations were severed and, in
the language of the classic, they "mixed it." They were fairly
well matched, and, to the credit of Captain Scraggs be it said,
whenever he believed himself to have a fighting chance Scraggs
would fight and fight well, under the Tom-cat rules of fisticuffs.

Following a bloody battle in the pilot house, he subdued the
mate; following his victory he was still war mad, so he went to
the engine-room hatch and abused the engineer. As a result of the
day's events, both men quit when the _Maggie_ was tied up at
Jackson Street wharf and once more Captain Scraggs was helpless.
In his extremity, he wished he hadn't been so hard on Mr. Gibney
and McGuffey, for he realized he could never hope to get them
back until their salvage money should be spent.

He had other tortures in addition. He could not afford to await
the construction of a new boiler, for if he did some other
skipper would cut in on the vegetable trade he had worked up, for
vegetables, being perishable, could not lie on the dock at
Halfmoon Bay longer than forty-eight hours. It behooved Scraggs,
therefore, to place an order for the new boiler and, in the
meantime, to get a gang down aboard the _Maggie_ immediately and
put in at least ten new tubes. By working night and day this job
might be accomplished in forty-eight hours, and, fortunately,
Sunday intervened. Scraggs shuddered at thought of the expense,
for in addition to being parsimonious he had very little ready
cash on hand and no credit.

When Mr. Gibney and McGuffey, wrapped in the calm thrall of their
new-found financial independence, arrived at the _Maggie's_
berth, they were inclined to levity. Indeed, they had come for
the express purpose of spoofing their late employer; to crow over
him and grind his poor soul into the dirt. Fortunately for
Scraggs, he was not aboard, but sounds of activity coming from
the engine room aroused McGuffey's curiosity to such an extent
that he descended thereto at great risk to a new suit of clothes
and discovered four men at work on the boiler. They had cut the
rivets and removed the head and at sight of the ruin disclosed
within, Mr. McGuffey was truly shocked--and awed. Why he hadn't
been blown to Kingdom Come months before was a profound mystery.

He came up and joined Mr. Gibney on a pile of old hemp hawser
coiled on the bulkhead. "Danged if I don't feel sorry for old
Scraggsy, for all his meanness," he declared. "It's goin' to cost
him five hundred dollars to patch up the old boiler an' keep the
_Maggie_ runnin' until he can ship a new boiler. The ol' fool
don't know a thing about the job himself an' there's four men
down there, without a foreman, soldierin' on him an' soakin' him
a dollar an' a half an hour overtime. He's in so deep now he
might as well jump into bankruptcy entirely an' put in a set o'
piston rings, repack the pumps an' the stuffin-box, shim up the
bearin's an' do a lot of little things the old _Maggie's_ just
hollerin' to have done."

"To err is human; to forgive divine," Mr. Gibney orated. "Come to
think of it, Mac, we give the old man all that was comin' to him
the other day--a little bit more, mebbe. He must be raw an'
bleedin', an' it wouldn't be sporty to plague him some more."

"Durned if I don't feel like jumpin' into a suit of dungarees an'
helpin' him out in that engine room, Gib."

"Troubles always comes in a flock, Bart. The Squarehead tells me
his new navigatin' officer an' the new engineer has jumped their
jobs. It's a dollar to a dime he asks us to come back if he sees
us half way willin' to be friendly an' forget the past."

"Well," the philosophical McGuffey declared. "Seein' as how we've
reformed, even with money in bank, we might just as well be
workin' as loafin'. There's more money in it. An' if it wasn't
that Scraggs is so ornery there's worse jobs than me an' you had
on the old _Maggie_."

"I been wonderin' if we couldn't reform Scraggsy by heapin' coals
of fire on his head, Bart."

"What d'ye mean? Heapin' coals o' fire on Scraggs'd sure keep an
ash hoist busy."

"Oh, I dunno, Bart. The old man has his troubles. There's Mrs.
Scraggs a-peckin' at him every time he goes home, an' the
_Maggie's_ a worry, not to mention the fact that there ain't much
more'n a decent livin' for him in the green-pea trade. An' he
ain't gittin' any younger, Bart. You got to bear that in mind."

"Yes, an' he's been disapp'inted in his ambitions," McGuffey
agreed. "On top o' that, the Ocean Shore Railroad is buildin'
down the coast an' as soon as the roadbed is completed over the
San Pedro Mountains them farmers'll haul their produce to the
railhead in motor trucks--an' there won't be no more business for
the _Maggie_. Three months more'll see the _Maggie_ laid up."

Mr. Gibney nodded. "It's just the sweet tenderness of Satan we'll
be flush when Scraggsy's broke, Bart."

"Dang it, Gib, I sure feel sorry for the old man after takin' a
look at that engine room. She's a holy fright."

"Well, we'll make up with him when he comes back, Bart, an' if he
shows a contrite sperrit--well, who knows? We might do somethin'
for him."

"He's got to have some financial help to get that engine turnin'
over again, that's a cinch."

"So I been thinkin'. We might lend him a coupler hundred bones at
ten per cent., secured by a mortgage on the _Maggie_, if he's up
agin it hard. Havin' money in bank is one thing but locatin' an
investment for it is another. I've kidded the old man a lot about
the _Maggie_, but she's worth two thousand dollars if somebody'd
spend a thousand on her inner works an' give her a dab o' paint
an' some new fire hose an' one thing an' another."

"We'll wait here until Scraggs shows up an' see what he says. If
he still says 'Good mornin', boys,' we'll answer him civil an'
see what it leads to, Gib."

Mr. Gibney grunted his approval and Mr. McGuffey, bringing out a
pocket knife, fell to manicuring his terrible finger nails and
paring the callous patches off his palms. Mr. Gibney lighted a
Sailor's Delight cigar and puffed meditatively, the while he
watched a gasoline tug kicking the little schooner _Tropic Bird_
into an adjacent berth. From the _Tropic Bird_ came an odour of
copra and pineapple and Mr. Gibney sighed; evidently that South
Sea fragrance aroused in him old memories, for presently he spat
overboard, watched his spittle float away on the tide, sighed
again, and declared, apropos of nothing:

"When I was a young man, Mac, I was a damned fine young man. I
had a bunch o' red whiskers an' a pair o' fists like two picnic
hams. I was a wonder."

Silently Mr. McGuffey nodded an endorsement of his comrade's
indicated horsepower and peculiar masculine beauty in the days of
the latter's vanished youth. He continued to prune his hands.

"I was six feet two in my socks, when I wore any, which wasn't
often," Mr. Gibney continued. "I've shrunk half an inch since
them days. I weighed a hundred an' ninety-seven pounds in the
buff an' my chest bulged like a goose-wing tops'l. In them days,
I was an evil man to monkey with. I could have taken two like
Scraggsy an' chewed 'em up, spittin' out their bones an' belt
buckles. I sure was a wonder."

"You must ha' been with them red whiskers on your face," McGuffey
agreed. He refrained from saying more, for instinct told him Mr.
Gibney was about to grow reminiscent and spin a yarn, and B.
McGuffey had a true seaman's reverence for a goodly tale, whether
true, half-true, or wholly fanciful.

Mr. Gibney sniffed again the subtle tang of the South Seas
drifting over from the _Tropic Bird_, and when a Kanaka, scantily
clad, came on deck, threw a couple of fenders overside and
retired to the forecastle singing one of those Hawaiian ballads
that are so mournfully sweet and funereal, Mr. Gibney sighed
again.

"Gawd!" he murmured. "I've sure made a hash o' my young life."

"What's bitin' you, Gib?" Mr. McGuffey's voice was molten with
sympathy.

"I was just thinkin'," replied Mr. Gibney, "just thinkin', Mac.
It's the pineapples as does it--the smell of the South Seas. Here
I am, big enough and old enough and ugly enough to know better,
and yet every time the _City Of Papeete_ or the _Tropic Bird_ or
the _Aorangi_ come into port and I see the Kanaka boys swabbin'
down decks and get a snifter o' that fine smell of the Island
trade, my innards wilt down like a mess o' cabbage an' I ain't
myself no more until after the fifth drink."

"Sorter what th' feller calls vain regrets," suggested McGuffey.

"Vain regrets is the word," mourned Mr. Gibney. "It all comes
back to me what I hove away when I was young an' foolish an'
didn't know when I was well off. If there'd only been some
good-hearted lad to advise me, I wouldn't be a-settin' here on a
hemp hawser, a blasted beachcombin' bucko mate and out of a job.
No, siree. I'd 'a' still been King Gibney, Mac, with power o'
life an' death over two thousand odd blackbirds, an' I'd 'a' had
a beautiful wife an' a dozen kids maybe, with pigs an' chickens
an' copra an' shell an' a big bungalow an' money. _That's_ what I
chucked away when I was young an' nobody to advise me."

McGuffey made no comment on Mr. Gibney's outburst. There are
moments in life when silence is the greatest sympathy one can
offer, and intuitively McGuffey felt that he was face to face
with a tragedy. When a shipmate's soul lay bare it was not for
the McGuffey to inspect it too closely.

"Yes, McGuffey, I was a king once. Some people might try to make
out as how I was only a chief, but you take it from me, Mac, I
was a king. I was King Gibney, the first, of Aranuka, in the
Gilberts, with the seat of government at Nonuti, which is a
blackbird village right under Hakatuea. No matter which way you
approach, you can't miss it. Hakatuea's a dead volcano, with
ashes on top and just enough fire inside to cast a glow against
the sky at night. There's a fair anchorage inside the reef, but
it takes a good man to land through the surf at high tide in a
whaleboat. I used to do it regular. Aranuka was a nice place,
with plenty of fresh water, and some of the Island schooners, and
once in a while a British gunboat would stop there. Gawd,
McGuffey, but when I was king, they used to pay dear for their
fresh water, except the gunboats, which of course came on and
helped themselves without askin' no questions of me and
parliament--which was both the same thing. I was in Aranuka first
in '88 and again in '89, and I was a fool for leavin' it."

"What was you doin' in this here Aranuka?" asked Mr. McGuffey.

"In '88 I was blackbirdin' and in '89 I was--why, what d'ye expect a
king does, anyhow? You don't suppose I _worked_, do you? Because I
didn't. I ate and drank and slept and went in swimmin' with the
court officers and did a little fishin' an' fightin'; and on
moonlight nights I used to sprawl in the grass out on the edge of
Hakatuea with my head in my queen's lap, rubberin' up at the
Southern Cross and watchin' the rollers breakin' white over the
reef. And everything'd be as still as death except for that eternal
swishin' of the surf on the beach, babblin' of 'Peace! Peace!
Peace!' an' maybe once in a while the royal voice lifted in one of
them sad slumber songs of the South Seas--creepy and dirgelike and
beautiful. My girl could sing circles around a sky lark. I taught
her how to sing 'John Brown's Body Lies A-Smoulderin' in th' Grave,'
though she didn't have no more notion o' what she was singin' than a
ring-tailed monkey."

"How d'ye come to pick up with her?" inquired McGuffey politely.

"I didn't come to pick up with her," answered Mr. Gibney. "She
took a fancy to them red whiskers o' mine, and picked up with me.
She used to stick hibiscus flowers in them red curtains and stand
off and admire me by the hour. You can imagine how gay I used to
feel with flowers in my whiskers. That was one of the reasons why
I left her finally.

"But them was the days! Me an' Bull McGinty was the two finest
men north or south of the Line. We was worth six ordinary white
men each, and twenty blacks, and we was respected. I first met
Bull McGinty in Shanghai Nelson's boarding house, over in Oregon
Street, not three blocks from where we're settin' now. I was
twenty years old an' holdin' a second mate's ticket, for I'd been
battin' around the world on clipper ships since I was fourteen,
an' I'd bit my way to the front quicker than most. Bull was a big
dark man, edgin' up onto the thirty mark. His great grandmother'd
been a half-breed Batavian nigger, and his father was Irish. Bull
himself was nothin', havin' been born at sea, a thousand miles
from the nearest land. However, that ain't got nothin' to do with
the story. Bull McGinty was skipper an' owner of the schooner
_Dashin' Wave_, 258 tons net register, when I met him in Shanghai
Nelson's place. Also he was broke, with the _Dashin' Wave_ lyin'
out in the stream off Mission Rock with a Honolulu Chinaman
aboard as crew and watchman, while Bull hustled around shore
tryin' to raise funds to outfit her for another trip to the
Islands. He'd been beachcombin' ten days when I met him, and we
took to each other right off.

"'Gib,' says Bull McGinty, 'I like you an' if I ever get money
enough to provision the _Dashin' Wave_, pay the clearance fee,
and put a thousand or two of trade aboard her, you must come mate
with me and if you should have a little money by, enough to fix
us up, I'll not only give you the mate's berth, but I'll put you
in on half the lay.'

"'Done,' says I. 'I ain't got ten cents Mex to my name, but I'll
outfit that vessel an' get her to sea inside two weeks, or my
name ain't Adelbert P. Gibney.'

"To look at me now, McGuffey, you'd never think that in them days
I was one of the smartest young bucks that ever boxed the
compass. I was born with a great imagination, Mac. All my life my
imagination's been my salvation. The ability to grab opportunity
by the tail and twist it was my long suit, so after my talk with
Bull McGinty I took a cruise along the docks, lookin' for an
idea, until I come to Sheeny Joe's place. He used to keep a
sailors' outfittin' joint at Howard and East streets, an' as I
stood in his doorway, the Great Idea sails up to Sheeny Joe's an'
lets go both anchors.

"What was this Idea? It was a waterfront reporter. It was three
waterfront reporters, from three mornin' papers, an' all lookin'
for news.

"'Joe,' says one little runt, all hair an' nose an' eyeglasses,
'there ain't enough news on the Front to-day to dust a hummin'
bird's eyebrow. Give me a story, Joe. Somethin' new an' brimmin'
with human interest. You must have somethin' up your sleeve,
ain't yuh?'

"Sheeny Joe is sellin' a Panama paraqueet a pair o' six-bit
dungarees for a dollar and a half, and he ain't got no time for
reporters, but he looks up an' he sees me lingerin' in the
doorway.

"'Gib,' says he, 'tell these reporter friends o' mine about the
time you was wrecked in the Straits o' Magellan, an' the fight
you had with them man-eatin' Patagonian cannibal savages.'

"Of course, I never was wrecked in no Straits o' Magellan, and as
for man-eatin' Patagonian cannibal savages, I wouldn't know one
if I met him in my grog. But seein' as how Sheeny Joe is busy an'
me owin' him quite a little bill, I have to make good, so I tells
them the most hair-raisin' story they ever listened to. I showed
'em an old scar on my left leg where I was vaccinated once, and
told 'em that's where they shot me with a bow an' arrer. While I
was tellin' my story Sheeny Joe has to run out in th' back yard
an' roll over three times, he's that fascinated with what I'm
tellin' his friends.

"Did them fellers eat it up? They did. The story comes out next
day with trimmin's on th' front page, an' I'm a hero. Of course
me an' Sheeny Joe knows I'm a liar, but what's a lie or two when
you're helpin' out a shipmate? But anyhow, the whole business
gives me the idee I'm lookin' for, an' I takes all three mornin'
papers down to Bull McGinty an' lets him read 'em.

"'Now,' says I, when Bull is through readin', 'you have a sample
of what publicity does for a man. I'm a hero. But that don't
outfit the schooner _Dashin' Wave_. A man don't get no wages as a
hero, Bull. Nevertheless,' says I, 'I have invented a story that
will bring in money,' an' I tell the story to Bull. I don't leave
him until I have that yarn drilled right inter his soul, an' then
I call on Sheeny Joe an' tell him to pass the word to all of his
reporter friends that if they want a good story to go down to
Shanghai Nelson's boardin' house an' ask for Bull McGinty,
skipper o' the schooner _Dashin' Wave_.

"Did they come? Mac, they came a-runnin'. The little nosy guy
with the hair chartered a hack, he was in such a hurry. An' when
they arrive, there sits Bull McGinty, smilin' an' affable, an' he
spills his yarn as easy an' graceful an' slick as a mess o' eels.
There's a island in the Society group, says Bull, which he
discovers on his last trip, an' which ain't in none o' the
British Admiralty notes. It's a regular island, with palms an'
breadfruit an' tamarinds an' mangoes an' such, fine an' fertile,
fifteen miles around the middle, an' plenty o' water. But th'
surprisin' thing about this here island is that it ain't got
nothin' livin' on it except the most beautiful women in all the
South Seas. Accordin' to Bull, there ain't a male man nowhere on
the horizon. Th' men has been fightin' among themselves until
every man Jack has been killed off. Nothin' left but women with
dreamy eyes an' long black hair an' pearly teeth. 'A man,' says
Bull McGinty, 'is at a premium. Over fifteen different girls fell
in love with him before he was ashore ten minutes, an' he had to
pull back to the schooner to escape 'em. At that, says Bull, as
much as a hundred an' twenty-seven of 'em, as near as he could
count, came swimmin' after him and chased the schooner until she
was hull down on the horizon, an' then they give up an' swam back
to home, sobbin' like babies.

"Bull explains that he's so dead stuck on the place he's goin'
back, just as soon as he can get together say a hundred smart
young lads to come in with him on the lay, outfit his schooner,
an' get to sea. Every man that wants to come in on th' deal must
be not less than twenty-one years old and not more than thirty,
an' must be examined by a doctor to see that he ain't afflicted
with no contagious sickness, like consumption, which just raises
fits with them natives, once it gets in amongst 'em. It's Bull's
plan to start a ideal colony, governed on new an' different
lines, an' every man must marry. He can have as many wives as he
can support after each man has had his choice of the herd. The
women are all beautiful, but in order that nobody will have a
kick comin' the choice of wives is to be determined by drawin'
lots. The island is to be fenced off an' each member o' the
expedition is to have so much land.

"In order to do everything shipshape, Bull explains that he has
formed a company to be known as the Brotherhood o' the South
Seas, capitalized for two hundred shares at $500 a share. Bull,
bein' owner o' th' schooner, an' possessin' the secret of the
latitude an' longitude o' the island, an' bein' the movin'
sperrit, so to speak, declares himself in on fifty-one per cent.
o' the capital stock. Stocksellin' will commence just as soon as
the printer can deliver the certificates.

"In the course of a somewhat checkered career, Mac, I've seen some
suckers, an' I've told some lies, but this here was th' crownin'
event of my life. We had applications for stock the next morning
before me an' Bull was out o' bed. Four hundred and thirty-one
would-be colonists comes flockin' around us, tryin' to hand us $500
each. Bull questions 'em all very closely, and outer the lot he
selects the biggest damn fools in evidence. He was careful to select
little skinny men whenever possible. They was a lot o' Willie boys
an' young bloods lookin' for adventure, an' me an' Bull McGinty was
just the lads to give it to 'em in bucketfuls. The little nosy
reporter with the hair was fair crazy to come, but McGinty gets a
jackleg doctor to examine him an' swear that he's sufferin' from
spatulation o' the medulla oblongata, housemaid's knee, and the
hives. We're mighty sorry, but it's agin the by-laws to bring him
along. He felt heartbroken, so just before we up hook with the
expedition, I had Bull give him an' the other newspaper boys a
hundred dollars each. They was fine lads, all three, an' give us
lots o' free advertisin'.

"Bull got greedy an' was for charterin' another schooner an'
givin' all comers a run for their money, but I was wise enough to
see the danger o' numbers, an' argued him out of it. I went mate
on the _Dashin' Wave_, as per program, an' on a lovely summer day
we towed out, with half San Francisco crowdin' the wharves an'
wishin' us bon voyage, which is French for a profitable trip.

"We had a nice lot o' sick children on our hands before we was
over th' Potato Patch. We didn't have a regular crew, exceptin'
Bull McGinty an' me an' the Chinaman who shipped as cook.
However, some of the brotherhood used to go yachting, an' they
was all the crew we needed. We had a fair run to Honolulu, where
we took on five thousand dollars in trade--beads, an' mouth
organs, an' calico, an' juice harps, an' dollar watches, an' a
lot of old army revolvers with the firin' pins filed off, and
what not.

"From Honolulu, we clears for Pago Pago, where all hands went
ashore an' enjoyed themselves visitin' the different points o'
interest. From Pago Pago, we goes to Tahiti, and from Tahiti to
Suva, and in general gives them adventurers as nice a little
summer vacation as they could have wished for. Bull was for
dumpin' the lot at Suva an' gettin' down to business--said he'd
fooled away enough time on the gang--but I argued that we'd took
their money--$50,000 of it, and they was entitled to some kind of
a run, an' if we marooned them, like as not they'd send a gunboat
after us, an' the fat'd be in the fire. Bull gave in to me
finally, though he growled a lot about the profits bein' all et
up by the brotherhood, appetites increasin' considerable at sea,
an' all that.

"Just after we leave Suva we butts into a mild little typhoon,
an' Bull scuds before it under bare poles, with just a wisp o' a
jib to steady her. An' when the brotherhood was pea-green with
seasickness I goes down into the bilges with a big auger an'
scuttles the ship. In about two hours the brother at the wheel
begins to complain that she's heavy an' draggin' like blazes, an'
he fears maybe her seams has opened up under the strain.

"'I shouldn't wonder a bit,' says Bull McGinty, 'she's been
jumpin' like a dolphin', and he goes below to investigate. Two
minutes later he prances up on deck like a lunatic.

"'All hands to the pumps,' he yells; 'there's four feet o' water
in the hold.' Aside he says to me, 'Gib, my boy, you're a jewel.
Not a drop of water in that forward compartment where we piled
the trade.'

"It was a terrible sad sight to see the seasick Brotherhood of
the South Seas staggerin' below to the pumps. We had four pumps,
an' feelin' that they might be able to pump her dry too soon, I
had removed the suction leather from two of them. What a howl
went up when Bull McGinty, roarin' like a sea lion, announces
that all hands is doomed, because two of the pumps is nix
comarous! Just about that time we ships a sea or two, and all
hands lets go the pumps and starts to pray or weep or whatever
they was minded to do under the circumstances. In the general
excitement I slips below an' plugs up one hole, an' forces two
men, at the point of a revolver that wasn't loaded, to pump ship.
They just managed to hold the water level, while up on deck Bull
is tearin' his hair an' cursin' somethin' frightful.

"Well, Mac, we kept that thing up for two days an' two nights,
while the gale lasted, an' when we finally gets under the lee of
an island, all hands are for throwin' up the sponge an' goin'
back home. Somehow or other, the expedition don't look so
enticin' as it did at first. We cleared away both whaleboats and
landed the brotherhood on the island, where there was a wharf an'
a big tradin' station. I forget what they call the place, but
steamers touch there regular. Me an' Bull McGinty and the
Chinaman stayed aboard, pumped out the ship, fixed the pumps, and
plugged the holes in her bottom so nobody could find out. Then we
figures out the price of a passage back to Frisco, second-class,
for the whole bunch, an' me an' Bull goes ashore with a big sack
of Chili dollars an' fixes it up with all hands to let go an'
call it square for the ticket home. They wasn't feelin' as sore
as much as you might imagine. None o' them had the brains or the
spunk of a mouse, and besides we'd give them a mighty good time
of it, all things considered. So, to make a long story short, we
picks up a crew of half a dozen black boys, pulls the two
whaleboats back to the ship, ups hook and sails away on our
legitimate business. We divides the spoils between us, an' my
share is eleven thousand cash an' a half interest in th' trade.

"We do a nice business in shell an' copra, an' such, an' in
Papeete we sell our cargo to a Jew trader an' clean up fifteen
hundred each additional on the voyage, after which Bull declares
he's tired of hucksterin' around like any bloomin' peddler, an'
we make up our minds to do a little blackbirdin'.

"Was you ever a blackbirder, McGuffey? No? Well, you didn't miss
nothin'. It's dirty business. You drop in at a island, an' you
invite the native chief aboard an' get him drunk, and make a
contract with him for so many blackbirds to work for three years
on some other island, or on the coffee or henequen plantations
in Central America, and you promise them big money and lots of
tobacco, and a free trip back when their time is up. What labour
you can't get by dealin' with the chief, you shanghai 'em, and
once in a while you can make a bully good deal, particularly in
the New Hebrides and New Guinea, after a fight when they have a
lot of prisoners on hand which they're goin' to eat until you
come along an' buy 'em for a stick o' tobacco.

"It ain't no fun, blackbirdin', McGuffey. After you've got 'em
aboard, they may take a notion to jump overboard and swim back,
so you get 'em down below an' clap the hatches on 'em until
you're out of sight o' land, an' the beggars howl an' there's
hell to pay.

"Me an' Bull McGinty headed for the Gilberts that first trip, an'
managed to pick up a fair consignment of labour. We touched in at
Nonuti the very last place, which, as I says, is on the island o'
Aranuka, right under the Hakatuea volcano. There was some
strappin' big buck native niggers there that would fetch $300 a
head Mex, an' so me an' Bull goes ashore to pow-wow with the
chief. He was a fat old boy named Poui-Slam-Bang, or some such
name, an' he received us as nice as you please. Me an' Bull
rubbed noses with Poui-Slam-Bang an' all the head men, and they
give a big feed in our honour. Roast pig an' roast duck an'
stewed chicken an' all the tropical trimmin's we had, Mac,
including a little barrel o' furniture polish that Bull brought
ashore, labelled Three Star Hennessy on the outside an' Three Ply
Deviltry inside.

"While we was at the feast, with everybody squattin' around on
their hind legs, pokin' their mits into a big wooden bowl,
Poui-Slam-Bang pipes up his only daughter, a lovely wench about
seventeen years old with a name that nobody can pronounce. I call
her Pinky, and of all the women I ever meets, black, white,
brown, red, or yellow, this Pinky is the loveliest, and has 'em
all hull down. She's wearin' a palm leaf petticoat and a string
o' shark's teeth around her neck with an empty sardine box for a
pendant. She has flowers in her hair, which is braided in
pig-tails, different from the other girls. Her eyes--McGuffey,
_them eyes_! Like a pair of fireflies floatin' in sorghum. And as
she stands there working her toes in th' sand, she never takes
her eyes off them fine red whiskers o' mine.

"Bull gives her a cigar, and it's plain that he's taken with her,
but she never so much as looks at Bull. My whiskers has done the
trick--so bimeby, when all hands is feeling jolly, including me
an' McGinty, I sidles up to Pinky an' sorter gives her to
understand that she wouldn't have to clap me in irons to fondle
them red whiskers o' mine. She sticks a flower in them, Mac,
s'help me, and then giggles foolish an' ducks into the bush.

"Well, we rigs up a deal with Poui-Slam-Bang and next afternoon
stand out for the entrance with forty odd head of labour in
excess of what we had when we arrived. We'd cleared the reef, and
was comin' about around Hakatuea Head, when what d'ye suppose we
sight? Nothin' more or less than Miss Pinky Poui-Slam-Bang
swimmin' right across our bows. She was more than a mile out an'
comin' like a shark, hand over hand. Before I could yell to the
boy at the wheel to luff up, so we wouldn't run the girl down,
we was right on top of her.

"'They'll have to revise the census of Aranuka,' says Bull
McGinty. I do believe we hit that girl an' drove her under.'

"We was both rubberin' astern an' to starboard an' port, but not
a sign o' the girl do we see. I got out my glasses an' searched
around for full half an hour, an' by that time we was five miles
out to sea, and it wasn't no use lookin' any more, an' besides I
had work to attend to.

"We sailed along all the afternoon, over a sea as smooth as a
dance-hall floor. Along about sunset I was up on the fo'castle
head singin' 'Nancy Brown' when who should pop up onto the
bowsprit but Pinky. She sat there a minute danglin' her legs an'
smilin' an' s'help me, Mac, if it hadn't been daylight still, I'd
a-swore she was a sperrit. I jumped two feet in the air an' came
down with my mouth open. Pinky hops up on the bowsprit, and runs
along to the fo'castle head, an' then I seen she was real. The
little cuss! She'd swung herself up into the martingale, an'
there she'd squatted all the afternoon until we was out o' sight
o' land. Of course, she got a ducking every few minutes, but
what's a duckin' to them kind o' people?

"I grabs hold o' Pinky, mighty glad to know we hadn't killed her,
and brings her before Bull McGinty.

"'She's in love with some one of these black bucks aboard,' says
Bull. 'That's why she's followed. Isn't she the likely lookin'
wench, Gib? I do believe I'll----'

"'No, you won't do no such thing, Bull,' says I. 'The fact o' the
matter is the girl's in love with me, an' if anybody's to have
her it'll be Adelbert P. Gibney.'

"'I'm not so sure o' that, Gib,' says Bull McGinty. 'I'm skipper
here.'

"'Well, I'm mate,' says I, 'with a half interest in this
expedition.'

"'I'll fight you for her,' says Bull very pleasantly.

"'No,' says I, 'I'm opposed t' fightin' a shipmate under such
circumstances, and moreover we're the only two white men aboard,
an' if we fight I think I'll kill you, an' then I'd be lonesome.
As a compromise, I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll give Pinky
the freedom o' the ship, an' me an' you'll have a cribbage
tournament from now until we drop anchor at Santa Maria del Pilar
(that's a dog hole on the Guatemala coast). We'll play every
chance we get, an' the lad that's ahead when we let go the anchor
at Santa Maria del Pilar gets Pinky.'

"'Fair enough,' says Bull, 'an' here's my hand on it.'

"We had a smart passage o' fifteen days, and in that time me an'
Bull McGinty plays just one hundred and eighteen games. We had to
quit in the middle o' the last, with the score fifty-eight games
to fifty-nine in Bull's favour, in order to let go the anchor at
Santa Maria del Pilar. While we was up on deck, what do you
suppose Pinky goes and does? She slips down to the cabin and
fudges my peg three holes ahead. It seems that Bull, who talked
the island lingo, has been braggin' to her an' tellin' her what
we've been up to. The minute we have the anchor down, me an' Bull
returns to the game. It's nip an' tuck to the finish an' I win by
one point, Bull dyin' in the last hole, which makes the thing a
draw.

"Says I to Bull McGinty: 'Bull, we can't both have her.'

"Says Bull to me: 'I hereby declare this tournament no contest,
an' move that we sell the lady with the rest o' the herd, an' no
hard feelin's between shipmates.'

"Nothin' could be fairer than that an' I tells Bull I'm willin'.
So we sold Pinky for $200 Mex to Don Luiz Miguel y Orena, an'
sailed away for another flock o' blackbirds.

"We had busy times for the next six months until we found
ourselves back at Santa Maria del Pilar with another cargo of
savages. But all that time I'd been feelin' a little sneaky on
account o' sellin' Pinky, an' as soon as we dropped anchor I had
the boys pull me ashore, an' I chartered a white mule an' shapes
my course for the hacienda of this Don Luiz Miguel y Orena. I was
minded to see how Pinky was gettin' on.

"It was comin' on dusk when I rides into Orena's place, an' all
th' hands was just in from the fields. The labour shacks was
built in a kind of square along with the warehouses, an' in the
centre o' this square was a snubbin' post, with bull rings, an'
hangin' to this snubbin' post, with her hands triced up to the
bull rings, was Pinky Poui-Slam-Bang with a little Colorado claro
man standing off swingin' a rope's end on poor little Pinky's
bare back.

"I'm not what you'd call a patient man, McGuffey, an' bein' o'
th' sea and not used to ridin' horses, not to speak o' white
mules, I was sore in more ways than one. I luffs up alongside o'
this dry land bo'sum an' punches once. Then I jumps off my white
mule, takes the swab by the heels, an' chucks him over the
warehouse into a cactus bush. Don Orena was there an' he makes
objections to me gettin' fresh with his help so, I tucks Don
Orena under my arm, lays him acrosst my knee, and gives him a
taste o' th' rope's end. He hollers murder, but I bats him around
until he can't let out another peep, after which I grabs a
machete that's handy an' chases the entire male population into
the jungle. When I gets back, Pinky is hanging to the bull rings,
about dead. I cuts her down, swings her on th' mule, an' makes
for the coast. We was aboard th' _Dashin' Wave_ next mornin'.

"Bull was settin' up on top o' th' house eatin' an orange when me
an' Pinky comes over th' rail.

"'Bull McGinty' says I, 'you're a sea captain. Come down off that
house an' marry me to Pinky Poui-Slam-Bang.'

"'With pleasure,' says Bull, an' he done it, announcin' us man
an' wife by all th' rules an' regulations o' th' Department o'
Commerce an' Labour, th' _Dashin' Wave_ being registered under
th' American flag.

"Six weeks later I sets Pinky down on the beach at Nonuti, an' we
both go up to her old man's shack for the parental blessin'. I
expected Poui-Slam-Bang would slaughter th' roasted hog upon th'
prodigal's return, but come t' find out, the old boy's been took
in a scrap with one o' the hill tribes, an' speculation's rife as
to his final disposition. Pinky allows that pa's been et up, an'
she havin' no brothers is by all the rules o' the game queen o'
Aranuka. Of course, me bein' her husband, I'm king. You can't get
around my rights to the job nohow. For all that Pinky stands in
with me, however, a big wild-eyed beggar makes up his mind that
he'll make a better king than Adelbert P. Gibney, an' he comes at
me with a four-foot war club, with two spikes drove crosswise
through the business end o' it. As he swings, I soaks him between
the eyes with a ripe breadfruit, with the result that his aim's
spoiled an' he misses. So I took his club away an' hugged him
until I broke three ribs, an' he was always good after that. I
wanted t' be king, but I didn't believe in sheddin' no blood for
the mere sake of office.

"Well, McGuffey, I was king of Aranuka for nearly six months. I
was a popular king, too, an' there was never no belly-achin' at
my decisions. I had a double-barrelled muzzle-loadin' shotgun, a
present from Bull McGinty. Bull was all broke up at me desertin'
the _Dashin' Wave_, but I promised to save all the Aranuka trade
for him an' for nobody else, an' he stood off for Suva to get
himself another mate.

"At first it was great business bein' king, an' I enjoyed it. I
learned Pinky to speak a little English an' she learned me her
lingo, an' we got along mighty fine. Pinky would lay awake
nights, snoopin' around listenin' to what the rest o' the gang
had to say about me, and twice she put me wise to uprisin's that
threatened my throne. I used to get the ring leaders in my arms
an' hug 'em, an' after one hug from Adelbert P. Gibney in them
days----

"Well, as I was sayin', it was nice enough until the novelty wore
off, an' there was nothin' to do that I hadn't done twenty times
before. I thought some o' goin' to war with the wild niggers in
the hills, an' avengin' my father-in-law's death, but I couldn't
get my army more than three miles inland, so I had to give that
up. Before three months had passed I wanted to abdicate the worst
way. I wanted to tread a deck again, an' rove around with Bull
McGinty. I wanted th' smell o' the open sea an' th' heave o' th'
_Dashin' Wave_ underfoot. I was tired o' breadfruit an' guavas
an' cocoanuts an' all th' rest o' th' blasted grub that Pinky was
feedin' me, an' most of all I was gettin' tired o' Pinky. She
_would_ put cocoanut oil in her hair. Yet (here Mr. Gibney's
voice vibrated with emotion as he conjured up these memories of
his lurid past) it never occurred to me, at the time, I was that
young an' foolish, that she was doin' it for _me_. She was as
beautiful as ever, an' Gawd knows nobody but a fool would get
tired o' such a fine woman, every inch a queen, but I was just
that foolish.

"I got so lonesome I wouldn't eat. I wished McGinty would show up
an' relieve me of my kingship. An' one night sure enough he came.
It was moonlight--you've been in the tropics, McGuffey, you know
what real moonlight is--an' I was lyin' out on th' edge of
Hakatuea overlookin' the beach. I'd spotted a sail at sunset an'
somethin' told me it was the _Dashin' Wave_. Pinky was with me,
rubbin' my head an' braidin' my whiskers an' cooin' over me like
a baby, as happy as any woman could be.

"Along about ten o'clock, I should say, here comes the _Dashin'
Wave_ around the headland. I could see her luff up an' come about
with her bow headed straight for the entrance between the reefs,
an' th' water purlin' under her forefoot. Everything was as still
as the grave, an' only the surf was swishin' up th' beach sobbin'
'Peace! Peace!' and there wasn't no peace for King Gibney. Pretty
soon I heard the creak of the blocks an' the smash o' th' mast
hoops as th' mains'l came flutterin' down--then th' sound o' the
cable rushin' through the hawsepipes as her hook took bottom. In
the moonlight I could see Bull McGinty standin' by the port
mizzen shrouds with a megaphone up to his face, and his voice
comes up to me like the bugle blast of Kingdom Come.

"'O, Gib! Are you there?'

"'Aye, aye, sir.'

"'Have ye et your full o' th' lotus?' says Bull.

"'Hard tack an' salt horse for King Gibney,' I yells back. 'I
ain't no vegetarian no more, Bull. Do you need a smart mate?'

"I could hear Bull McGinty chucklin' to himself.

"'You young whelp,' says Bull. 'I knew you'd outgrow it. They all
do, when they're as young as you. I'll send the whaleboat ashore.
Kiss Pinky good-bye for me, too,' he adds.

"Two minutes later I heard the boat splash over the stern davits
an' the black boys raisin' a song as they lay to their work. I
turns to Pinky, takes her in my arms an' kisses her for the first
time in three weeks, an' she knows that th' jig is up. She might
'a' slipped a dirk in me, but she wasn't that kind. Women is
women, McGuffey, the world over. Pinky just kissed me half a
hundred times an' cries a little, holdin' on to me all th' time,
for naturally she don't like to see me go. Finally I have to make
her break loose, an' I climbs down over the bluff an' wades out
to my waist to meet the boat. I was aboard th' _Dashin' Wave_ in
two twos, shakin' hands with Bull McGinty, an' ten minutes later
we had th' anchor up an' th' sails shook out, an' standin' off
for the open sea. An' the last I ever saw of Mrs. Pinky Gibney
was a shadowy figger in th' moonlight standin' out on th' edge o'
Hakatuea Head. The last I hear of her was a sob."

Mr. Gibney's voice was a trifle husky as he concluded his tale.
He opened and closed his clasp knife and was silent for several
minutes. Presently he sighed.

"When a feller's young, he never stops to think o' th' hurt he
does," continued the erstwhile king of Aranuka. "Sometimes I lay
awake at nights an' wonder whatever became o' Pinky. I can see
her yet, standin' in th' moonlight, as fine a figger o' a woman
as ever lived. Savage or no savage, she was true an' beautiful,
an' I was a mighty dirty dawg." Mr. Gibney wiped away a
suspicious moisture in his eyes and blew his nose unnecessarily
hard.

"You was," coincided McGuffey. "You was all o' that. What became
o' Bull McGinty?"

"He married a sugar plantation in Maui. He's all right for the
rest o' his life. An' as for me as gave him his start, look at
me. Ain't I a sight? Here I am, forty-two years old an' only a
thousand dollars in my pocket. Instead of bein' master of a
clipper ship, I'm mate on a dirty little bumboat. I fall asleep
on deck an' dream an' somethin' drops on my face an' wakes me up.
Is it a breadfruit, Mac? It is not. It's a head of cabbage. I
grab something to throw at Scraggs's cat. Is it a ripe mango? No,
it's a artichoke. In fancy I go to split open a milk cocoanut.
What happens? I slash my thumb on a can o' condensed cream.
Instead o' th' Island trade, I'm runnin' in th' green-pea trade,
twenty miles of coast, freightin' garden truck! My Gawd!"

Mr. Gibney stood up and dusted the seat of his new suit. He was
dry after his long recital and Captain Scraggs was too long
putting in an appearance, so he decided not to wait for him.
"Let's go an' stow away a glass of beer," he suggested to
McGuffey. "I'm thirstier'n a camel."

McGuffey was willing so they left the bulkhead for the more
convivial shelter of the Bowhead saloon.




CHAPTER XV


Had either Gibney or McGuffey glanced back as they headed for
their haven of forgetfulness they might have seen Captain Scraggs
poking his fox face up over the edge of a tier of potato boxes
piled on the bulkhead not six feet from where Gibney and McGuffey
had been sitting. Upon his return to the _Maggie_, about the time
Mr. Gibney commenced spinning his yarn, he had almost walked into
the worthy pair, and, wishing to avoid the jeers and jibes he
felt impending, he had merely stepped aside and hidden behind the
potato boxes in order to eavesdrop on their plans, if possible.
Had Mr. Gibney been less interested in his past or Mr. McGuffey
less interested in the recital of that past they would have seen
Scraggs.

The owner of the _Maggie_ shook his fist in impotent rage at
their retreating backs. "You think you've suffered before," he
snarled. "But I'll make you suffer some more, you big brute. I'll
hurt you worse than if I caved in your head with a belayin' pin.
I'll break your heart, that's what I'll do to you. You wait."

In the course of an hour Gibney and McGuffey returned, and
Scraggs met them as they leaped down on to the deck of the
_Maggie_. "Gentlemen," he remarked--"an' at that I'm givin' you
two all the best of it, even if you two have got a quit-claim
deed that you ain't pirates--I wish to announce that if you two
have come aboard my ship for the puppose o' havin' a little fun
at my expense, I'm a-goin' to call the police an' have you
arrested for disturbin' the peace. On the other hand an' futher,
if your mission's a peaceful one, you're welcome aboard the
_Maggie_. I may have a temper an' say things that sounds mighty
harsh when I'm het up, but in my calmer moments my natural
inclination is to be a sport."

"Scraggsy, old hard-luck," Mr. Gibney boomed, "we won so we can
afford to be generous in victory. Like you, me an' Mac is
inclined to be uppish at times, particularly in the hour of
triumph, an' say an' do things we're apt to be ashamed of later."

"Them's my sentiments," McGuffey chimed in.

"We ain't comin' aboard to beg you for no job," Mr. Gibney
warned. "Git that idea out o' your head--if you got it there. Me
an' Bart each got close to a thousand dollars in bank this minute
an' we're as free an' independent as two hogs walkin' on ice. Any
ol' time we can't stand up we can set down."

Captain Scraggs was frankly mystified. "If you two got a thousand
dollars each in bank--an' I ain't disputin' it, for I hear on good
authority you got that much for salvin' the _Chesapeake_--what're
you hangin' around the _Maggie_ for?"

Mr. Gibney approached and placed his great right arm fraternally
across Scraggs's skinny shoulder. Mr. McGuffey performed a
similar office with his brawny left, and Captain Scraggs looked
apprehensive, like a man who is about to be kissed by another in
public.

"Scraggsy, when all is lovely an' the goose honks high, it's our
great American privilege to fight like bearcats if we feel that
way about it. But when misfortune descends on one of us, like a
topmast in a typhoon, it's time to stop bickerin'. Me an' Bart,
driftin' along the docks for a constitootional this mornin',
bears the sorrerful tidin's that your new navigatin' officer an'
your new engineer has quit. Judgin' from that shanty on your left
eye, at least one of 'em quit under protest. Immediately,
Scraggsy, me an' Mac decided you might hate our innards but just
the same you needed us in your business. Consequently, we're here
to help you if you'll let us an' for not another durned reason in
the world."

"There's four alleeged mechanics down in the engine room loafin'
on the job an' gettin' ready to soak you a dollar an' a half an
hour overtime to-night an' Sunday," McGuffey informed the
skipper. "An' that hurts me. I don't mind takin' a poke at you
myself but I'll be shot if I'll stand idly by an' see somebody
else do it. With your kind permission, Scraggs, I'll climb into
my dungarees an' make things hum in that engine room."

Captain Scraggs was truly affected. His weak chin trembled and
tears came to his little mean green eyes. He could not speak; so
Mr. Gibney hugged him and patted him on the back and told him he
was a good fellow away down low, if the truth were only known;
whereat Captain Scraggs commenced to sob aloud. McGuffey coughed
and tears as big as marbles cascaded down the honest Gibney's
rubicund countenance.

"I ain't wuth your sympathy after the way I treated you," Captain
Scraggs cried brokenly.

"Shet up, you little bum," Mr. Gibney cried furiously. "Or I'll
bang you in that other eye that's ready for bangin'."

"If you're shy a few bucks----" McGuffey began.

"I am," Captain Scraggs wailed. "I'm worried to death. I don't
know how I'm ever goin' to pay for that bloody boiler an' git to
sea with the _Maggie_----"

"Little sorrel-top," Mr. Gibney murmured, ruffling Scraggs's thin
blonde hair. "Forget them sordid monetary considerations. I'm
somethin' like forty jumps ahead o' the devil an' ruination for the
first time since me an' Bull McGinty organized the Brotherhood o'
the South Seas----"

"Leggo me," snarled Captain Scraggs and springing back, he bent
and looked earnestly into Mr. Gibney's happy countenance. "Good
land o' Goshen, if you ain't him!" Hate gleamed in his eyes.

"Ain't who, you shrimp!" Mr. Gibney was mystified at this abrupt
change of attitude.

Captain Scraggs blinked and passed his hand wearily across his
brow. "Forgive me, Gib," he answered humbly. "I was sort o' took
back, that's all."

"Took back at what?"

"We won't say nothin' more about it, Gib, except that while I'd
like to accept your kind offer an' put you back on the job again,
I--I just can't bring myself to do it. I'll have to forget
first."

"Forget what? Bart, is Scraggsy gone nutty?"

"Out with it, Scraggs," Mr. McGuffey urged. "Spit it out,
whatever it is."

"I'd rather not, but since you ask me I suppose I might as well.
Gib, ever since me an' you first hooked up together, away back in
the corner o' my head there's been lurkin' a suspicion that once
before, a long time ago, you an' me have had some business
dealin's, but for the life o' me I couldn't place you. One minute
I'd just be a-staggerin' on the brink of memory, as the feller
says, an' the next it'd slip away from me. But just now, when you
mentioned Bull McGinty an' the Brotherhood o' the South
Seas--well, Gib, it all come back to me like a flash. Bull
McGinty an' the schooner _Dashin' Wave_!" Captain Scraggs shook
his head as if his thoughts threatened to congeal in his brain
and he desired to shake them up. "Bull had a dash o' the
tar-brush in his make up, if I don't disremember, an' you was his
young mate. Man, how funny you did look with them long red
whiskers--an' you little more'n a boy."

"Jumpin' Jehosophat, Scraggsy! Was you one o' the Brotherhood?"

Captain Scraggs came close and thrust his face up for Mr.
Gibney's inspection. "Gib," he said solemnly, "look at me! Touch
the cord o' memory an' think back. D'ye remember that pore little
feller you robbed of five hundred dollars twenty-odd year ago in
the schooner _Dashin' Wave_? D'ye remember that typhoon we was in
an' how, when I was that tuckered out an' so seasick I couldn't
stand up, you made me pump ship an' when I protested, you stuck a
horse pistol under my nose an' _made_ me? That man, Adelbert P.
Gibney was _me! Me! Me!_" Scraggs's voice rose in a crashing
crescendo; his teeth clicked together and he shook his skinny
fist under the great Gibney nose. Gibney paled and drew away from
him.

"How was I to know, Scraggsy?" he faltered. "The whole bunch was
runts--sickly, measly little fellers. Nevertheless an' agin, you
shouldn't ought to have any kick comin'. You had a fine trip an'
a heap of adventure an' me an' Bull paid your passage back to San
Francisco. Come, Scraggs. Be sensible. What's the use holdin' a
grudge after twenty-five years?"

"Oh, I ain't holdin' a grudge, exactly, Gib, my boy. I admit I
had a good run for my money an' it was a smart piece o' work, an'
I got to admire the idea, same as I got to admire the seamanship
you displayed sailin' the _Chesapeake_ single-handed. It ain't
what you done to me as makes my blood boil. It's what you went
an' done afterward."

"What'd I do afterward? You can't hang nothin' on me, Phineas P.
Scraggs. Bluffin' don't go. Cough it up."

"All right, since you drive me to it. How about that lovely,
untootered savage that you lures into your foul clutches so's you
can make yourself king of Aranuka? Hey? Hey? How about that
little tropic wild flower you carelessly plucked an' thrun away?
Oh, I'll admit she was a savage, but she was sweet an' human for
all that an' she had feelin's. She had a heart to bust an' you
busted it for fair."

Mr. Gibney attempted to hoot, but made a poor job of it. "Why,
wherever do you get this wild tale, Scraggsy, old spell-binder?
You're sure jingled or you wouldn't talk so vagrant."

"You can't git away with it like that, Gib. I trailed you. Gib,
for two mortal years I follered you, after you dropped us at
Suva, an' I was just a thirstin' for your blood. If I'd met up
with you any time them first two years I'd have shot you like a
dog. I got a whisper you was in Aranuka but when I got there
you'd left. But I found your wife--her you called Pinky. She
couldn't believe you'd slipped your cable for good an' there she
was, a-waitin' an' a-waitin' for her king to come back. Gib, I'm
free to tell you that piracy, barratry, murder an' homicide pales
into insignificance compared with what you went an' done, for you
broke an innercent an' trustin' heart an' hell's too good for a
man that'll pull a trick like that."

"Scraggsy, Scraggsy, Scraggsy," Mr. Gibney protested. "Them's
awful hard words."

"I can't help it. You told me to speak out an' I'm a-doin' it.
You hooks up with this unsophisticated, trustful woman--she ain't
a woman; she's a young girl at the time--an' she ain't civilized
enough to be on to your kind. So you finds it easy to make her
love you. Not with the common sordid love of a white woman but
with the fierce, undyin' passion o' the South Seas. An' when you
get her in your clutches, her an' her whole possessions an' she's
yours body an' bones, in the sight o' God an' the sight o'
man--you ups an' leaves her! You throw her down like she's so
much dirt an' leave her to die of a broken heart. An' she'd
a-done it, too, if it hadn't a' been for the children."

Captain Scraggs was fairly thunderin' his denunciation as he
concluded with: "You--you murderer! Ain't you ashamed of
yourself?"

Mr. Gibney, thoroughly crushed, hung his head. "If there was
kids, Scraggsy," he pleaded, "they wasn't mine, not that I knows
on."

"I ain't sayin' you don't speak the truth there, Gib. Maybe you
don't know that part of it, because you left before they was
born. Yes, sir, that gal had two twins--a boy an' a girl an' both
that white, when I see them as yearlings, you'd never suspect
they had a dab o' the tar-brush in 'em at all. The boy had red
hair--provin' he was yourn, Gib."

Mr. Gibney could stand no more. He sat down on the hatch coaming
and covered his face with his hard red hands. "If there was kids,
Scraggsy," he sobbed, "I didn't know it. I had everything else,
Scraggs, but heirs to my throne. Scraggsy, believe me or not, but
if I'd had children I'd have stuck by Pinky. I wouldn't desert my
own flesh an' blood, so help me."

"Well," Scraggs went on sorrowfully, "Pinky's dead an' so her
troubles is over. I heard some years ago she'd passed on with
consumption. But them two _hapahaole_ kids o' yourn, Gib. Just
think of it. Banged an' ragged around between decks, neither
black nor white--too good for the natives an' not good enough for
the whites. Princes on their mother's side, they been robbed o'
their hereditary rights by a gang o' native roughnecks, while
their own father loafs alongshore in San Francisco an' enjoys
himself."

"Looky here, Scraggs," Mr. McGuffey struck in ominously. "Ain't
you said about enough? Don't hit a feller when he's down."

"Well, he ain't down so low that he can't climb back. If he's got
a spark o' manhood left in him he'll never rest until he goes
back to Aranuka, looks up them progeny o' his, an' does his best
to make amends for the past. Gib, you can't work for me aboard
the _Maggie_--not if the old girl couldn't turn her screw until
you stepped aboard. Pers'nally you got a lot o' fine p'ints an'
I like you, but now that I know your past----"

He threw out his hands despairingly. "It's your morals, Gib, it's
your blasted morals."

"You're right, Scraggs," Mr. Gibney mumbled brokenly. "It's my
duty to go look up them poor children o' mine. Bart, you stick by
old Scraggsy. I owe him somethin' for showin' me my duty an' I'm
lookin' to you to pay the interest on my bill till I get back
with them poor kids o' mine. Until then I guess I ain't fit to
'sociate with white men."

Mr. McGuffey appeared on the point of weeping and put his arm
around his old comrade in silent sympathy. Presently Mr. Gibney
shook hands with him and Scraggs and, motioning them not to
follow him, went ashore. Before him, in his mind's eye, there
floated the picture of a South Sea Island with the nodding,
tufted palms fringing the beach and the glow of a volcano against
the moonlit sky. Standing on the headland, waving him a last
farewell, stood the broken-hearted victim of his capricious
youth, the lovely Pinky Poui-Slam-Bang. Every lineament of her
beautiful features was tattooed indelibly on his memory; he knew
she would haunt him forever.

He went up to the Bowhead saloon, had a drink, leaned on the end
of the bar and thought it over. There was but one way to get back
to Aranuka and that was to ship out before the mast on a South
Sea trader--and with that thought came remembrance of the _Tropic
Bird_, soon to be discharged and outward bound.

Five minutes later, Mr. Gibney was aboard the _Tropic Bird_ and
had presented himself at her master's cabin. "Where're you bound
for next trip, sir?" he inquired.

"General trading through the Marquesas, the Society Islands, and
the Gilberts."

"Happen to be goin' to Aranuka, in the Gilberts?"

"You bet. Got a trading station there."

"How are you off for a good mate?"

"Got one."

"How about a second mate?"

"Got a crackerjack."

"Well, I'm not particular. I'll make a bully bo'sun, sir."

"Very well. We'll be sailing some day next week and you can sign
up before the Commissioner any time you're ready. By the way,
what's your name?"

"Gibney, sir. Adelbert P. Gibney."

"Any experience in the South Seas?"

"Heaps of it. I was mate for three years with Bull McGinty in the
old _Dashin' Wave_ more'n twenty years ago."

The master of the _Tropic Bird_ blinked. "Gibney! Gibney!" he
murmured. "Why, I wonder if you're the same man. Are you the chap
that was king of Aranuka for six months and then abdicated for no
reason at all?"

"I was, sir," Mr. Gibney confessed shamefacedly. "I'm King Gibney
of Aranuka."

"What was your wife's name?"

"I called her Pinky for short."

"By Neptune, what a coincidence! Why, Gibney, I saw Her Majesty
on our last trip, less than two months ago, and she was telling
me all about you. Great old girl, Pinky, and mighty proud of the
fact that once she had a white husband. So you're King Gibney,
eh? Well, well! The world is certainly small." The skipper
chuckled, nor noticed Mr. Gibney's bulging eyes and hanging jaw.
"Going back to take over your kingdom again, Gibney?" he demanded
jocosely.

"You say you saw her _two months ago_?" Mr. Gibney bellowed.
"D'ye mean to tell me she's alive?"

"I did and she's very much so."

"An' the twins. How about them?"

"There are no twins. Pinky never had any children until after
Bull McGinty took up with her, which was after you left her. They
say she doesn't think quite as much of McGinty as she did of you.
He has a dash of dark blood and it shows up strong."

"The dog wrote me he'd married a sugar plantation in Maui."

"Perhaps he did. If the plantation didn't produce, though, you
can bet Bull McGinty wouldn't stay put. By the way, I have a
photograph of Queen Pinky. Snapped her with my kodak on the last
trip." He searched around in the drawer of his desk and brought
the picture forth. "Think you'd recognize Her Majesty after all
these years?" he asked.

Mr. Gibney seized the picture, gazed upon it a moment, and
emitted one horrified ejaculation which in itself would have been
sufficient to bar him forever from polite society. For what he
gazed upon was not the lovely Pinky of other days, but a very
fat, untidy, ugly black woman in a calico Mother Hubbard dress.
The face, while good-natured, was wrinkled with age and
dissipation; indeed, worldling that he was, Mr. Gibney saw at a
glance that Pinky had grown fond of her gin. From the royal lips
a huge black cigar protruded.

"I guess I won't take that bo'sun job after all," he gasped--and
fled. Two minutes later, Captain Scraggs and Mr. McGuffey, were
astonished to find Mr. Gibney waiting for them on deck. His face
was terrible to behold; he fixed Scraggs with a searching glance
and advanced upon the _Maggie's_ owner with determination in
every movement.

"Why--why, Gib, we thought you was headed south by this time,"
Scraggs sputtered, for something told him great events portended.

"You dirty dawg! You little fice! You figgered on breakin' my
heart an' sendin' me off on a wild-goose chase, didn't you?" Mr.
Gibney leaped and his great hand closed over Captain Scraggs's
collar. "Own up," he bellowed. "Where'd you git this dope about
me an' Pinky? Lie to me agin an' I'll toss you overboard," and in
order to impress Captain Scraggs with the seriousness of his
intentions he cuffed the latter vigorously with his open left
palm.

"I was behind the potato crates this mornin' whilst you an' Mac
was yarnin'," Scraggs hastened to confess. "Ow! Wow! Leggo, Gib!
Can't you take a little joke?"

"Was Mac here in on the joke? Was you let in on it after I went?"
Mr. Gibney demanded of his Fidus Achates.

"I was not, Gib. I don't call it no joke to wring a feller's
heart like Scraggsy wrung yourn."

"In addition to makin' a three-ply jackass o' me!" Captain
Scraggs cowered under the rain of ferocious slaps and attempted
to fight back, but he was helpless in the huge Gibney's grasp and
was forced to submit to a boxing of the ears that would have
addled his brains, had he possessed any. "Now, then," Mr. Gibney
roared, as he cast the skipper loose, "let that be a lesson to
you to let the skeletons in my closet alone hereafter. Mac,
you're not to lend Scraggsy a cent to help him out on expenses,
added to which me an' you quit the _Maggie_ here an' now."

"You're a devil," McGuffey growled at Scraggs, "an' sweet
Christian thoughts is wasted on you."

Glowering ferociously, the worthy pair went over the rail.




CHAPTER XVI


Godless and wholly irreclaimable as Mr. Gibney and Mr. McGuffey
might have been and doubtless were, each possessed in bounteous
measure the sweetest of human attributes, to-wit: a soft, kind
heart and a forgiving spirit. Creatures of impulse both, they
found it absolutely impossible to nourish a grudge against
Captain Scraggs, when, upon returning to Scab Johnny's boarding
house that night, their host handed them a grubby note from their
enemy. It was short and sweet and sounded quite sincere; Mr.
Gibney read it aloud:

    On Board the _Maggie_, Saturday night.

    DEAR FRIENDS:

    I am sorry. I apologize to you, Gib, because I hurt your
    fealings. I also apologize to Bart for hurting the
    fealings of his dear friend. Speeking of hurts you and
    Gib hurt me awful with your kidden when you took the
    _Chesapeake_ away from me so I jest had to put one over
    on you. To er is human but to forgive is devine. After
    what I done I don't expect you two to come back to work
    ever but for God's sake don't give me the dead face when
    we meat agin. Remember we been shipmates once.

    P.P. SCRAGGS.

"Why, the pore ol' son of a horse thief," Mr. Gibney murmured,
much moved at this profound abasement. "Of course we forgive him.
It ain't manly to hold a grouch after the culprit has paid his
fair price for his sins. By an' large, I got a hunch, Bart, that
old Scraggsy's had his lesson for once."

"If you can forgive him, I can, Gib."

"Well, he's certainly cleaned himself handsome, Bart. Telephone
for a messenger boy," and Mr. Gibney sat down and wrote:

    Scraggsy, old fanciful, we're square. Forget it and come
    to breakfast with us at seven to-morrow at the Marigold
    Cafe. I'll order deviled lam kidneys for three. It's
    alright with Bart also.

    Yours,
    GIB.

This note, delivered to Captain Scraggs by the messenger boy,
lifted the gloom from the latter's miserable soul and sent him
home with a light heart to Mrs. Scraggs. At the Marigold Cafe
next morning he was almost touched to observe that both Gibney
and McGuffey showed up arrayed in dungarees, wherefore Scraggs
knew his late enemies purposed proceeding to the _Maggie_
immediately after breakfast and working in the engine room all
day Sunday. Such action, when he knew both gentlemen to be the
possessors of wealth far beyond the dreams of avarice, bordered
so closely on the miraculous that Scraggs made a mental resolve
to play fair in the future--at least as fair as the limits of his
cross-grained nature would permit. He was so cheerful and happy
that McGuffey, taking advantage of the situation, argued him into
some minor repairs to the engine. The work was so far advanced by
midnight Sunday that Scraggs realized he would get to sea by
Tuesday noon, so he dismissed Gibney and McGuffey and ordered
them home for some needed sleep. McGuffey's heart was with the
_Maggie's_ internal economy, however, and on Monday morning he
was up betimes, leaving Mr. Gibney to snore blissfully until
eight o'clock.

About nine o'clock, as Mr. Gibney was on his way to the Marigold
Cafe for breakfast, he was mildly interested, while passing the
Embarcadero warehouse, to note the presence of fully a dozen
seedy-looking gentlemen of undoubted Hebraic antecedents,
congregated in a circle just outside the warehouse door. There
was an air of suppressed excitement about this group of Jews that
aroused Mr. Gibney's curiosity; so he decided to cross over and
investigate, being of the opinion that possibly one of their
number had fallen in a fit. He had once had an epileptic shipmate
and was peculiarly expert in the handling of such cases.

Now, if the greater portion of Mr. Gibney's eventful career had
not been spent at sea, he would have known, by the red flag that
floated over the door, that a public auction was about to take
place, and that the group of Hebrew gentlemen constituted an
organization known as the Forty Thieves, whose business it was to
dominate the bidding at all auctions, frighten off, or buy off,
or outbid all competitors, and eventually gather unto themselves,
at their own figures, all goods offered for sale.

In the centre of the group Mr. Gibney noticed a tall, lanky
individual, evidently the leader, who was issuing instructions in
a low voice to his henchmen. This individual, though Mr. Gibney
did not know it, was the King of the Forty Thieves. As Mr. Gibney
luffed into view the king eyed him with suspicion. Observing
this, Mr. Gibney threw out his magnificent chest, scowled at the
king, and stepped into the warehouse for all the world as if he
owned it.

An oldish man with glasses--the auctioneer--was seated on a box
making figures in a notebook. Him Mr. Gibney addressed.

"What's all this here?" he inquired, jerking his thumb over his
shoulder at the group.

"It's an old horse sale," replied the auctioneer, without looking
up.

Mr. Gibney brightened. He glanced around for the stock in trade,
but observing none concluded that the old horses would be led in,
one at a time, through a small door in the rear of the warehouse.
Like most sailors, Mr. Gibney had a passion for horseback riding,
and in a spirit of adventure he resolved to acquaint himself with
the ins and outs of an old horse sale.

"How much might a man have to give for one of the critters?" he
asked. "And are they worth a whoop after you get them?"

"Twenty-five cents up," was the answer. "You go it blind at an
old horse sale, as a rule. Perhaps you get something that's
worthless, and then again you may get something that has heaps of
value, and perhaps you only pay half a dollar for it. It all
depends on the bidding. I once sold an old horse to a chap and he
took it home and opened it up, and what d'ye suppose he found
inside?"

"Bots," replied Mr. Gibney, who prided himself on being something
of a veterinarian, having spent a few months of his youth around
a livery stable.

"A million dollars in Confederate greenbacks," replied the
auctioneer. "Of course they didn't have any value, but just
suppose they'd been U.S.?"

"That's right," agreed Mr. Gibney. "I suppose the swab that owned
the horse starved him until the poor animal figgered that all's
grass that's green. As the feller says, 'Truth is sometimes
stranger than fiction.' If you throw in a saddle and bridle
cheap, I might be induced to invest in one of your old horses,
shipmate."

The auctioneer glanced quickly at Mr. Gibney, but noticing that
worthy's face free from guile, he burst out laughing.

"My sea-faring friend," he said presently, "when we use the term
'old horse,' we use it figuratively. See all this freight stored
here? Well, that's old horses. It's freight from the S.P.
railroad that's never been called for by the consignees, and
after it's in the warehouse a year and isn't called for, we have
an old horse sale and auction it off to the highest bidder.
Savey?"

Mr. Gibney took refuge in a lie. "Of course I do. I was just
kiddin' you, my hearty." (Here Mr. Gibney's glance rested on two
long heavy sugar-pine boxes, or shipping cases. Their joints at
all four corners were cunningly dove-tailed and wire-strapped.)
"I was a bit interested in them two boxes, an' seein' as this is a
free country, I thought I'd just step in an' make a bid on them,"
and with the words, Mr. Gibney walked over and busied himself in
an inspection of the two crates in question.

The fact of the matter was that so embarrassed was Mr. Gibney at
the exposition of his ignorance that he desired to hide the
confusion evident in his sun-tanned face. So he stooped over the
crates and pretended to be exceedingly interested in them,
hauling and pushing them about and reading the address of the
consignee who had failed to call for his goods. The crates were
both consigned to the Gin Seng Company, 714 Dupont Street, San
Francisco. There were several Chinese characters scrawled on the
top of each crate, together with the words, in English: "Oriental
Goods."

As he ceased from his fake inspection of the two boxes, the King
of the Forty Thieves approached and surveyed the sailor with an
even greater amount of distrust and suspicion than ever. Mr.
Gibney was annoyed. He disliked being stared at, so he said:

"Hello, Blumenthal, my bully boy. What's aggravatin' _you_?"

Blumenthal (since Mr. Gibney, in the sheer riot of his
imagination elected to christen him Blumenthal, the name will
probably suit him as well as any other) came close to Mr. Gibney
and drew him aside. In a hoarse whisper he desired to know if Mr.
Gibney attended the auction with the expectation of bidding on
any of the packages offered for sale. Seeking to justify his
presence, Mr. Gibney advised that it was his intention to bid in
everything in sight; whereupon Blumenthal proceeded to explain to
Mr. Gibney how impossible it would be for him, arrayed against
the Forty Thieves, to buy any article at a reasonable price.
Further: Blumenthal desired to inform Mr. Gibney that his (Mr.
Gibney's) efforts to buy in the "old horses" would merely result
in his running the prices up, for no beneficent purpose, since it
was ever the practice of the Forty Thieves to permit no man to
outbid them. Perhaps Mr. Gibney would be satisfied with a fair
day's profit without troubling himself to hamper the Forty
Thieves and interfere with their combination, and with the words,
the king surreptitiously slipped Mr. Gibney a fifty-dollar
greenback.

Mr. Gibney's great fist closed over the treasure, he having
first, by a coy glance, satisfied himself that it was really
fifty dollars. He shook hands with the king. He said:

"Blumenthal, you're a smart man. I am quite content with this
fifty to keep off your course and give you a wide berth to
starboard. I'm sensible enough to know when I'm licked, an' a
fight without profit ain't in my line. I didn't make my money
that way, Blumenthal. I'll cast off my lines and haul away from
the dock," and suiting the action to the figure, Mr. Gibney
departed.

He went first to the Seaboard Drug Store, where he quizzed the
druggist for five minutes, after which he continued his cruise.
Upon reaching the _Maggie_, he proceeded to relate in detail, and
with many additional details supplied by his own imagination, the
story of his morning's adventure.

"Gib," said McGuffey enviously, "you're a fool for luck."

"Luck," said Mr. Gibney, beginning to expand, "is what the feller
calls a relative proposition----"

"You're wrong, Gib," interposed Captain Scraggs. "Relatives is
unlucky an' expensive. Take, f'r instance, Mrs. Scraggs's
mother----"

"I mean, you lunkhead," said Mr. Gibney, "that luck is found
where brains grow. No brains, no luck. No luck, no brains. Lemme
illustrate. A thievin' land shark makes me a present o' fifty
dollars not to butt in on them two boxes I'm tellin' you about.
Him an' his gang wants them two boxes. Fair crazy to get 'em.
Now, don't it stand to reason that them fellers knows what's _in_
them boxes, or they wouldn't give me fifty dollars to haul ship?
Of course it does. However, in order to earn that fifty dollars,
I got to back water. It wouldn't be playin' fair if I didn't. But
that don't prevent me from puttin' two dear friends o' mine (here
Mr. Gibney encircled Scraggs and McGuffey with an arm each) next
to the secret which I discovers, an' if there's money in it for
old Hooky that buys me off, it stands to reason that there's
money in it for us three. What's to prevent you an' McGuffey from
goin' up to this old horse sale an' biddin' in them two boxes for
the use and benefit of Gibney, Scraggs, an' McGuffey, all share
an' share alike? You can bid as high as a hundred dollars if
necessary, an' still come out a thousand dollars to the good. I'm
tellin' you this because I know what's in them two boxes."

McGuffey was staring fascinated at Mr. Gibney. Captain Scraggs
clutched his mate's arm in a frenzied clasp.

"_What?_" they both interrogated.

"You two boys," continued Mr. Gibney with aggravating
deliberation, "ain't what nobody would call dummies. You're smart
men. But the trouble with both o' you boys is you ain't got no
imagination. Without imagination nobody gets nowhere, unless it's
out th' small end o' th' horn. Maybe you boys ain't noticed it,
but my imagination is all that keeps me from goin' to jail. Now,
if you two had read the address on them two boxes, it wouldn't
'a' meant nothin' to you. Absolutely nothin'. But with me it's
different. I'm blessed with imagination enough to see right
through them Chinamen tricks. Them two boxes is marked "Oriental
Goods" an' consigned (here Mr. Gibney raised a grimy forefinger,
and Scraggs and McGuffey eyed it very much as if they expected it
to go off at any moment)--"them two boxes is consigned to the Gin
Seng Company, 714 Dupont Street, San Francisco."

"Well, that's up in Chinatown all right," admitted Captain
Scraggs, "but how about what's inside the two crates?"

"Oriental goods, of course," said McGuffey. "They're consigned to
a Chinaman, an' besides, that's what it says on the cases, don't
it, Gib? Oriental goods, Scraggs, is silks an' satins, rice, chop
suey, punk, an' idols an' fan tan layouts."

Mr. Gibney tapped gently with his horny knuckles on the honest
McGuffey's head.

"If there ain't Swiss cheese movements in that head block o' yours,
Mac, you an Scraggsy can divide my share o' these two boxes o'
ginseng root between you. Do you get it, you chuckleheaded son of an
Irish potato? Gin Seng, 714 Dupont Street. Ginseng--a root or a herb
that medicine is made out of. The dictionary says it's a Chinese
panacea for exhaustion, an' I happen to know that it's worth five
dollars a pound an' that them two crates weighs a hundred and fifty
pounds each if they weighs an ounce."

His auditors stared at Mr. Gibney much as might a pair of
baseball fans at the hero of a home run with two strikes and the
bases full.

"Gawd!" muttered McGuffey.

"Great grief, Gib! Can this be possible?" gasped Captain Scraggs.

For answer, Mr. Gibney took out his fifty-dollar bill and handed
it to--to McGuffey. He never trusted Captain Scraggs with
anything more valuable than a pipeful of tobacco.

"Scraggsy," he said solemnly, "I'm willin' to back my imagination
with my cash. You an' McGuffey hurry right over to the warehouse
an' butt in on the sale when they come to them two boxes. The
sale is just about startin' now. Go as high as you think you can
in order to get the ginseng at a profitable figger, an' pay the
auctioneer fifty dollars down to hold the sale; that will give
you boys time to rush around to dig up the balance o' the money.
Tack right along now, lads, while I go down the street an' get me
some breakfast. I don't want Blumenthal to see me around that
sale. He might get suspicious. After I eat I'll meet you here
aboard th' _Maggie_, an' we'll divide the loot."

With a fervent hand-shake all around, the three shipmates parted.

After disposing of a hearty breakfast of devilled lamb's kidneys
and coffee, Mr. Gibney invested in a ten-cent Sailor's Delight
and strolled down to the _Maggie_. Neils Halvorsen, the lone
deckhand, was aboard, and the moment Mr. Gibney trod the
_Maggie's_ deck once more as mate, he exercised his prerogative
to order Neils ashore for the remainder of the day. Since
Halvorsen was not in on the ginseng deal, Mr. Gibney concluded
that it would be just as well to have him out of the way should
Scraggs and McGuffey appear unexpectedly with the two cases of
ginseng.

For an hour Mr. Gibney sat on the stern bitts and ruminated over
a few advantageous plans that had occurred to him for the
investment of his share of the deal should Scraggs and McGuffey
succeed in landing what Mr. Gibney termed "the loot." About
eleven o'clock an express wagon drove in on the dock, and the
mate's dreams were pleasantly interrupted by a gleeful shout from
Captain Scraggs, on the lookout forward with the driver. McGuffey
sat on top of the two cases with his legs dangling over the end
of the wagon. He was the picture of contentment.

Mr. Gibney hurried forward, threw out the gangplank, and assisted
McGuffey in carrying both crates aboard the _Maggie_ and into her
little cabin. Captain Scraggs thereupon dismissed the expressman,
and all three partners gathered around the dining-room table,
upon which the boxes rested.

"Well, Scraggsy, old pal, old scout, old socks, I see you've
delivered the goods," said Mr. Gibney, batting the skipper across
the cabin with an affectionate slap on the shoulder.

"I did," said Scraggs--and cursed Mr. Gibney's demonstrativeness.
"Here's the bill o' sale all regular. McGuffey has the change.
That bunch o' Israelites run th' price up to $10.00 each on these
two crates o' ginseng, but when they see we're determined to have
'em an' ain't interested in nothin' else, they lets 'em go to us.
McGuffey, my _dear_ boy, whatever are you a-doin' there--standin'
around with your teeth in your mouth? Skip down into th' engine
room and bring up a hammer an' a col' chisel. We'll open her up
an' inspect th' swag."

Upon McGuffey's return, Mr. Gibney took charge. He drove the
chisel under the lid of the nearest crate, and prepared to pry it
loose. Suddenly he paused. A thought had occurred to him.

"Gentlemen," he said (McGuffey nodded his head approvingly),
"this world is full o' sorrers an' disappointments, an' it may
well be that these two cases don't contain even so much as a
smell o' ginseng after all. It may be that they are really
Oriental goods. What I want distinctly understood is this: no
matter what's inside, we share equally in the profits, even if
they turn out to be losses. That's understood an' agreed to,
ain't it?"

Captain Scraggs and McGuffey indicated that it was.

"There's a element o' mystery about these two boxes," continued
Mr. Gibney, "that fascinates me. They sets my imagination
a-workin' an' joggles up all my sportin' instincts. Now, just to
make it interestin' an' add a spice t' th' grand openin', I'm
willin' to bet again my own best judgment an' lay you even money,
Scraggsy, that it ain't ginseng but Oriental goods."

"I'll go you five dollars, just f'r ducks," responded Captain
Scraggs heartily. "McGuffey to hold the stakes an' decide the
bet."

"Done," replied Mr. Gibney. The money was placed in McGuffey's
hands, and a moment later, with a mighty effort, Mr. Gibney pried
off the lid of the crate. Captain Scraggs had his head inside the
box a fifth of a second later.

"Sealed zinc box inside," he announced. "Get a can opener, Gib,
my boy."

"Ginseng, for a thousand," mourned Mr. Gibney. "Scraggsy, you're
five dollars of my money to the good. Ginseng always comes packed
in air-tight boxes."

He produced a can opener from the cabin locker and fell to his
work on a corner of the hermetically sealed box. As he drove in
the point of the can opener, he paused, hammer in hand, and gazed
solemnly at Scraggs and McGuffey.

"Gentlemen" (again McGuffey nodded approvingly), "do you know
what a vacuum is?"

"I know," replied the imperturbable McGuffey. "A vacuum is an
empty hole that ain't got nothin' in it."

"Correct," said Mr. Gibney. "My head is a vacuum. Me talkin'
about ginseng root! Why, I must have water on the brain! Ginseng
be doggoned! _It's opium!_"

Captain Scraggs was forced to grab the seat of his chair in order
to keep himself from jumping up and clasping Mr. Gibney around
the neck.

"Forty dollars a pound," he gasped. "Gib--Gib, my _dear_
boy--you've made us wealthy----"

Quickly Mr. Gibney ran the can opener around the edges of one
corner of the zinc box, inserted the claws of the hammer into the
opening, and with a quick, melodramatic twist, bent back the
angle thus formed.

Mr. Gibney was the first to get a peep inside.

[Illustration: "'_Great snakes,' he yelled--and fell back
against the cabin wall_"]

"Great snakes!" he yelled, and fell back against the cabin wall.
A hoarse scream of rage and horror broke from Captain Scraggs.
In his eagerness he had driven his head so deep into the box that
he came within an inch of kissing what the box contained--which
happened to be nothing more nor less than a dead Chinaman! Mr.
McGuffey, always slow and unimaginative, shouldered the skipper
aside, and calmly surveyed the ghastly apparition.

"Twig the yellow beggar, will you, Gib?" said McGuffey; "one eye
half open for all the world like he was winkin' at us an'
enjoyin' th' joke."

Not a muscle twitched in McGuffey's Hibernian countenance. He
scratched his head for a moment, as a sort of first aid to
memory, then turned and handed Mr. Gibney ten dollars.

"You win, Gib. It's Oriental goods, sure enough."

"Robber!" shrieked Captain Scraggs, and flew at Mr. Gibney's
throat. The sight reminded McGuffey of a terrier worrying a
mastiff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gibney was still so unnerved at the
discovery of the horrible contents of the box that, despite his
gigantic proportions, he was well-nigh helpless.

"McGuffey, you swab," he yelled. "Pluck this maritime outlaw off
my neck. He's tearin' my windpipe out by th' roots."

McGuffey choked Captain Scraggs until he reluctantly let go Mr.
Gibney; whereupon all three fled from the cabin as from a
pestilence, and gathered, an angry and disappointed group, out on
deck.

"Opium!" jeered Captain Scraggs, with tears of rage in his voice.
"Ginseng! You and your imagination, you swine, you! Get off my
ship, you lout, or I'll murder you."

Mr. Gibney hung his head.

"Scraggsy--an' you, too, McGuffey--I got to admit that this here
is one on Adelbert P. Gibney. I--I----"

"Oh, hear him," shrilled Captain Scraggs. "One on him! It's two
on you, you bloody-handed ragpicker. I suppose that other case
contains opium, too! If there ain't another dead corpse in No. 2
case I hope my teeth may drop overboard."

"Shut up!" bellowed Mr. Gibney, in a towering rage. "What howl
have you got comin'? They're my Chinamen, ain't they? I paid for
'em like a man, didn't I? All right, then. I'll keep them two
Chinamen. You two ain't out a cent yet, an' as for this five I
wins off you, Scraggs, it's blood money, that's what it is, an' I
hereby gives it back to you. Now, quit yer whinin', or by the
tail o' the Great Sacred Bull, I'll lock you up all night in th'
cabin along o' them two defunct Celestials."

Captain Scraggs "shut up" promptly, and contented himself with
glowering at Mr. Gibney. The mate sat down on the hatch coaming,
lit his pipe, and gave himself up to meditation for fully five
minutes, at the end of which time McGuffey was aware that his
imagination was about to come to the front once more.

"Well, gentlemen" (again McGuffey nodded approvingly), "I bet I
get my twenty bucks back outer them two Chinks," he announced
presently.

"How'll yer do it?" inquired McGuffey politely.

"How'll I do it? Easy as fallin' through an open hatch. I'm
a-goin' t' keep them two stiffs in th' boxes until dark, an'
then I'm a-goin' to take 'em out, bend a rope around their
middle, drop 'em overboard an' anchor 'em there all night. I see
th' lad we opens up in No. 1 case has had a beautiful job o'
embalmin' done on him, but if I let them soak all night, like a
mackerel, they'll limber up an' look kinder fresh. Then first
thing in th' mornin' I'll telephone th' coroner an' tell him I
found two floaters out in th' bay an' for him to come an' get
'em. I been along the waterfront long enough t' know that th' lad
that picks up a floater gets a reward o' ten dollars from th'
city. You can bet that Adelbert P. Gibney breaks even on th'
deal, all right."

"Gib, my _dear_ boy," said Captain Scraggs admiringly. "I
apologize for my actions of a few minutes ago. I was unstrung.
You're still mate o' th' American steamer _Maggie_, an' as such,
welcome to th' ship. All I ask is that you nail up your property,
Gib, an' remove it from th' dinin' room table. I want to remind
you, however, Gib, that as shipmates me an' McGuffey don't stand
for you shoulderin' any loss on them two cases o'--Oriental
goods. We was t' share th' gains, if any, an' likewise th'
losses."

"That's right," said McGuffey, "fair an' square. No bellyachin'
between shipmates. Me an' Scraggs each owns one-third o' them
diseased Chinks, an' we each stands one-third o' th' loss, if
any."

"But there won't be no loss," protested Mr. Gibney.

"Drayage charges, Gib, drayage charges. We give a man a dollar to
tow 'em down t' th' ship."

"Forget it," answered Mr. Gibney magnanimously, "an' let's go
over an' get a drink. I'm all shook up."

After the partners had partaken of a sufficient quantity of
nerve tonic, Mr. Gibney suddenly recollected that he had to go
over to Market Street and redeem the sextant which he had pawned
several days before. And since McGuffey knew, from ocular
evidence, that Mr. Gibney was "flush," he decided to accompany
the mate and preserve him from temptation. There was safety in
numbers, he reasoned. Captain Scraggs said he thought he'd go
back to the _Maggie_. He had forgotten to lock the cabin door.




CHAPTER XVII


Had either Mr. Gibney or McGuffey been watching Captain Scraggs
for the next twenty minutes they would have been much puzzled to
account for that worthy's actions. First he dodged around the
block into Drumm Street, and then ran down Drumm to California,
where he climbed aboard a cable car and rode up into Chinatown.
Arrived at Dupont Street he alighted and walked up that
interesting thoroughfare until he came to No. 714. He glanced at
a sign over the door and was aware that he stood before the
entrance to the offices of the Chinese Six Companies, so he
climbed upstairs and inquired for Gin Seng, who presently made
his appearance.

Gin Seng, a very nice, fat Chinaman, arrayed in a flowing silk
gown, begged, in pidgin-English, to know in what manner he could
be of service.

"Me heap big captain, allee same ship," began Captain Scraggs.
"On board ship two China boys have got." (Here Captain Scraggs
winked knowingly.) "China boy no speak English----"

"That being the case," interposed Gin Seng, "I presume that you
and I understand each other, so let's cut out the pidgin-English.
Do I understand that you are engaged in evading the immigration
laws?"

"Exactly," Captain Scraggs managed to gasp, as soon as he could
recover from his astonishment. "They showed me your name an'
address, an' they won't leave th' ship, where I got 'em locked up
in my cabin, until you come an' take 'em away. Couple o'
relatives of yours, I should imagine."

Gin Seng smiled his bland Chinese smile. He had frequent dealings
with ship masters engaged in the dangerous though lucrative trade
of smuggling Chinese into the United States, and while he had not
received advice of this particular shipment, he decided to go
with Captain Scraggs to Jackson Street bulkhead and see if he
could not be of some use to his countrymen.

As Captain Scraggs and his Chinese companion approached the wharf
the skipper glanced warily about. He had small fear that either
Gibney or McGuffey would show up for an hour, for he knew that
Mr. Gibney had money in his possession. However, he decided to
take no chances, and scouted the vicinity thoroughly before
venturing aboard the _Maggie_. These actions served but to
increase the respect of Gin Seng for the master of the _Maggie_
and confirmed him in his belief that the _Maggie_ was a smuggler.

Captain Scraggs took his visitor inside the little cabin,
carefully locked and bolted the door, lifted the zinc flap back
from the top of the crate of "Oriental goods," and displayed the
face of the dead Chinaman. Also he pointed to the Chinese
characters on the wooden lid of the crate.

"What does these hen scratches mean?" demanded Scraggs.

"This man is named Ah Ghow and he belongs to the Hop Sing tong."

"How about his pal here?"

"That man is evidently Ng Chong Yip. He is also a Hop Sing man."

Captain Scraggs wrote it down. "All right," he said cheerily;
"much obliged. Now, what I want to know is what the Hop Sing tong
means by shipping the departed brethren by freight? They go to
work an' fix 'em up nice so's they'll keep, packs 'em away in a
zinc coffin, inside a nice plain wood box, labels 'em 'Oriental
goods,' and consigns 'em to the Gin Seng Company, 714 Dupont
Street, San Francisco. Now why are these two countrymen o' yours
shipped by freight--where, by the way, they goes astray, for some
reason that I don't know nothin' about, an' I buys 'em up at a
old horse sale?"

Gin Seng shrugged his shoulders and replied that he didn't
understand.

"You lie," snarled Captain Scraggs. "You savey all right, you fat
old idol, you! It's because if the railroad company knew these
two boxes contained dead corpses they'd a-soaked the relatives,
which is you, one full fare each from wherever these two dead
ones comes from, just the same as though they was alive an' well.
But you has 'em shipped by freight, an' aims to spend a dollar
an' thirty cents each on 'em, by markin' 'em 'Oriental Goods.'
Helluva way to treat a relation. Now, looky here, you bloody
heathen. It'll cost you just five hundred dollars to recover
these two stiffs, an' close my mouth. If you don't come through
I'll make a belch t' th' newspapers an' they'll keel haul an'
skull-drag th' Chinese Six Companies an' the Hop Sing tong
through the courts for evadin' th' laws o' th' Interstate
Commerce Commission, an' make 'em look like monkeys generally.
An' then th' police'll get wind of it. Savey, policee-man, you
fat old murderer? Th' price I'm askin' is cheap, Charley. How do
I know but what these two poor boys has been murdered in cold
blood? There's somethin' rotten in Denmark, my bully boy, an'
you'll save time an' trouble an' money by diggin' up five hundred
dollars."

Gin Seng said he would go back to Chinatown and consult with his
company. For reasons of his own he was badly frightened.

Scarce had he departed before the watchful eye of Captain Scraggs
observed Mr. Gibney and McGuffey in the offing, a block away.
When they came aboard they found Captain Scraggs on top of the
house, seated on an upturned fire bucket, smoking pensively and
gazing across the bay with an assumption of lamblike innocence on
his fox face.

At the suggestion of Scraggs, Gibney and McGuffey nailed up the
box of "Oriental Goods," set both boxes out on the main deck,
aft, and covered them with a tarpaulin. For about an hour
thereafter all three sat around the little cabin table, talking,
and presently it became evident, to Mr. Gibney's practiced eye,
that Captain Scraggs had something on his mind. Mr. Gibney,
suspecting that it could be nothing honest, was surprised, to say
the least, when Captain Scraggs made a clean breast of his
proposition.

"Gib--an' you, too, McGuffey. I been thinkin' this thing over,
an' as master o' this ship an' the one who does the biddin' in o'
these two Chinks at th' sale, it's up to me t' try an' bring you
both out with a profit, an' I think th' sellin' should be left to
me. I won't hide nothin' from you boys. I'm a-willin' to take a
chance that I can sell them two cadavers to some horsepital f'r
dissection purposes, an' get more outer th' deal than, you can,
Gib, by passin' 'em off as floaters. I'm a-willin' to give you
an' McGuffey a five-dollar profit over an' above your investment,
an' take over th' property myself, just f'r a flyer, an' to
sorter add a sportin' interest to an otherwise humdrum life. How
about it, lads?"

"You can have my fraction," said McGuffey promptly; whereupon
Captain Scraggs produced the requisite amount of cash and
immediately became the owner of a two-thirds' interest.

Mr. Gibney was a trifle mystified. He knew Scraggs well enough to
know that the skipper never made a move until he had everything
planned ahead to a nicety. The mate was not above making five
dollars on the day's work, but some sixth sense told him that
Captain Scraggs was framing up a deal designed to cheat him and
McGuffey out of a large and legitimate profit. Sooner than sell
to Captain Scraggs, therefore, and enable him to unload at an
unknown profit, Mr. Gibney resolved to retain his one-third
interest, even if he had to go to jail for it. So he informed
Captain Scraggs that he thought he'd hold on to his share for a
day or two.

"But, Gib, my _dear_ boy," explained Scraggs, "you ain't got a
word to say about this deal no more. Don't you realize that I
hold a controllin' interest an' that you must bow to th' vote o'
th' majority?"

"Don't I, though," blustered Mr. Gibney. "Well, just let me catch
you luggin' off my property without my consent--in writin'--an'
we'll see who does all th' bowin', Scraggsy. I'll cut your greedy
little heart out, that's what I'll do."

"Well, then," said Scraggs, "you get your blasted property off'n
my ship, an' get yourself off an' don't never come back."

"F'r th' love o' common sense," bawled Mr. Gibney, "what do you
think I am? A butcher? How am I to get away with a third o' two
dead Chinamen? Ain't you got no reason to you at all, Scraggs?"

"Very well, then," replied the triumphant Scraggs, "if you won't
sell, then buy out my interest an' rid my ship o' this contaminatin'
encumbrance."

"I won't buy an' I won't sell--leastways until I've had time to
consider," replied Mr. Gibney. "I smell a rat somewheres,
Scraggs, an' I don't intend to be beat outer my rights. Moreover,
I question McGuffey's right to dispose o' his one-third without
asking my advice an' consent, as th' promoter o' this deal, f'r
th' reason that by his act he aids an' abets th' formation o' a
trust, creates a monopoly, an' blocks th' wheels o' free trade;
all of which is agin public policy an' don't go in no court o'
law. McGuffey, give Scraggs back his money an' keep your
interest. When any o' th' parties hereto can rig up a sale o'
these two Celestials, it's his duty to let his shipmates in on
th' same. He may exact a five per cent. commission for his
effort, if he wants t' be rotten mean, an' th' company has t' pay
it t' him, but otherwise we all whacks up, share an' share alike,
on profits an' losses."

"Right you are, Gib, my hearty," responded McGuffey. "Scraggs,
we'll just call that sale off, f'r th' sake o' harmony. Here's
your money. I ain't chokin' off Gibney's steam at no time, not if
I know it."

"You infernal river rats," snarled Scraggs, "I'll--I'll----"

"Stow it," Mr. Gibney commanded. "I never did see the like o'
you, Scraggs. You're all right an' good comp'ny right up until
somebody declines to let you have your own way--an' then, right
off, you fly in a rage an' git abusive. I'm gittin' weary o'
bein' ordered off your dirty little scow an' then bein' invited
back agin. One o' these bright days, when you start pulling for
the fiftieth time the modern parable o' the Prodigal Son an' the
Fatted Calf, I'm goin' to walk out o' the cast for keeps. Now, if
I was you an' valued the services of a good navigatin' officer
an' a good engineer, I'd just take a little run along the
waterfront an' cool off. Somethin' tells me that if you stick
around here argyin' with me you'll come to grief--which same is
no idle fancy, you snipe."

Captain Scraggs hastened to take advantage of this invitation,
for it stood him in hand to do so. His plans, due to Mr. Gibney's
inexplicable obstinacy, had failed to mature and he was fearful
that Gin Seng, after consulting with his tong, might return to
the _Maggie_ at any moment and ruin the deal by exposing it to
Gibney and McGuffey; therefore Scraggs resolved to run up to 714
Dupont Street and warn Gin Seng to let the matter lie in abeyance
for a couple of days, alleging as an excuse that he was being
subjected, for some unknown reason, to police surveillance.
Scraggs decided that after three days the presence of the two
dead Chinamen aboard the _Maggie_ would commence to wear on the
Gibney nerves and the deadlock over the final disposition of
their gruesome purchase would result in Gibney and McGuffey
harkening to reason and accepting a profitable compromise. If it
should cost him a leg, Captain Scraggs was resolved to make those
two corpses pay for the repairs in the _Maggie's_ engine room.

Following his departure, Messrs. Gibney and McGuffey sat on deck
smoking and striving to fathom the hidden design back of
Scraggs's offer to buy them out. "He's got his lines fast
somewhere--you can bank on that," was Mr. Gibney's comment, for
he knew that Scraggs never made a move that meant parting with
money until he was certain he saw that money, somewhat augmented,
returning to him. "While we was away he rigged up some kind of a
deal, Bart. It stands to reason it was a mighty profitable deal,
too, otherwise old Scraggsy wouldn't have flew into such a rage
when I blocked him. My imagination may be a bit off the course at
times, Bart, but in general, if there's a dead whale floatin'
around the ship I can smell it."

"What do you make out o' that fat Chinaman cruisin' down the
bulkhead in an express wagon an' another Chinaman settin' up on
the bridge with him?" McGuffey demanded. "Seems to me they're
comin', bows on, for the _Maggie_."

"They tell me to deduct somethin', Bart. Wait a minute till we
see if they're comin' aboard. If they are----"

"They're goin' to make a landin', Gib."

"--then I deduct that this body-snatchin' Scraggs----"

"They're boardin' us, Gib."

"--has arranged with yon fat Chinaman to relieve us o' the
unwelcome presence of his defunct friends. _He's gone an' hunted
up the relatives an' made 'em come across_--that's what he's
done. The dirty, low, schemin' granddaddy of all the foxes in
Christendom! Wasn't I the numbskull not to think of it myself?"

"'Tain't too late to mend your ways, Gib. I don't see Scraggs
nowhere," Mr. McGuffey suggested promptly. "All that remains for
me an' you to do, Gib, is to imagine the price, collect the
money, an' declare a dividend. Quick, Gib! What'll we ask him?"

"I'll fish around an' see what figger Scraggs charged him," the
cautious Gibney replied and stepped to the rail to meet Gin Seng,
for it was indeed he.

"Sow-see, sow-see, hun-gay," Mr Gibney saluted the Chinaman in a
facetious attempt to talk the latter's language. "Hello, there,
John Chinaman. How's your liver? Captain he allee same get tired;
he no waitee. Wha's mallah, John. Too long time you no come. You
heap lazy all time."

Gin Seng smiled his bland, inscrutable Chinese smile. "You
ketchum two China boy in box?" he queried.

"We have," boomed McGuffey, "an' beautiful specimens they be."

"No money, no China boy," Gibney added firmly.

"Money have got. Too muchee money you wantee. No can do. Me pay
two hundred dollah. Five hundred dollah heap muchee. No have
got."

"Nothin' doin', John. Five hundred dollars an' not a penny less.
Put up the dough or beat it."

Gin Seng expostulated, lied, evaded, and all but wept, but Mr.
Gibney was obdurate and eventually the Chinaman paid over the
money and departed with the remains of his countrymen. "I knew
he'd come through, Bart," Mr. Gibney declared. "They got to ship
them stiffs to China to rest alongside their ancestors or be in
Dutch with the sperrits o' the departed forever after."

"Do we have to split this swag with that dirty Scraggs?" McGuffey
wanted to know. "Seein' as how he tried to give us the double
cross----"

"We'll fix Scraggsy--all shipshape an' legal so's he won't have
no comeback. Quick, grab some o' them empty potato crates an'
pile 'em here where the stiffs was lyin' an' cover 'em up with
the tarpaulin. I don't want Scraggsy to think the corpses is gone
until I've hooked him good and plenty."

The stage was set in a few minutes and the conspirators set
themselves to await the return of Scraggs. They had not long to
wait. Upon his arrival at Gin Seng's place of business Captain
Scraggs had been informed that Gin Seng had gone out twenty
minutes before, and further inquiry revealed the portentous fact
that he had departed in an express wagon. Consumed with
misgivings of disaster, Scraggs returned to the _Maggie_ as fast
as the California Street cable car and his legs could carry him;
as he came aboard his anxious glance sought the tarpaulin-covered
boxes on deck and at sight of them his mental thermometer rose at
once. In the cabin he found Mr. Gibney and McGuffey playing
cribbage. They laid down their hands as Scraggs entered.

"Well, are you all cooled out an' willin' to listen to reason,
Scraggsy, old business man?" Gibney greeted him cheerfully.

"None more so, Gib. If you've got a proposition to submit, fire
away."

"That's comfortin', Scraggsy. Well, me an' Bart's been chewing
over your proposition to buy out our interest in them two Chinks,
an' as the upshot of our talk we made up our minds to sell, but
not for no measly little five bucks' profit. Now, Scraggsy, you
old he-devil, on your honour as between shipmates, you got to
admit five dollars ain't hardly worth considerin'. Come down to
earth now. You know blamed well you're expectin' to pull out with
a neat profit an' that you can afford to boost that five-dollar
ante. What would you consider a fair price for a one-third
interest? Be honest an' fair, Scraggsy."

Captain Scraggs sat down, beaming. With Mr. Gibney in this frame
of mind he knew he could do anything with him. "Well, now, Gib,
my _dear_ boy, if a man was to get twenty-five dollars for his
interest, I should say he oughtn't to have no kick comin'. I know
I wouldn't."

"If you was sellin' your interest--imagine, now, that you're me
an' I'm you--would you be satisfied to sell for twenty-five
dollars?"

"I certainly would, Gib, my boy. Why, that's almost four hundred
per cent. profit, an' any man that'd turn up his nose at a four
hundred per cent. profit ought to go an' have his head examined
by a competent nut doctor."

"Well, if you feel that way about it, all right, Scraggsy," Mr.
Gibney replied slowly and put his hand in his pocket. "As I remarked
previous, while you're away me an' Bart gets chewin' over the
proposition an' decides we'll sell. An' to show you what a funny
world this is, while me an' Bart's settin' on deck a-waitin' for you
to come back an' close with us, along breezes a fat old Chinaman in
an express wagon an' offers to buy them two cases of Oriental goods.
He makes me an' Mac what we considers a fair offer for our
two-thirds. You ain't around to offer suggestions an' as it's a
take-it-or-leave-it proposition an' two-thirds o' the stock is
represented in me an' Mac an' accordin' to your rulin' the
majority's got the decidin' vote, we ups an' smothers his offer.
Lemme see, now," he continued, and got out a stub of lead pencil
with which he commenced figuring on the white oilcloth table cover.
"We paid twenty dollars for them two derelicts an' a dollar towage.
That's twenty-one dollars, an' a third o' twenty-one is seven, an'
seven dollars from twenty-five leaves eighteen dollars comin' to
you. Here's your eighteen dollars, Scraggsy, you lucky old
vagabond--all clear profit on a neat day's work, no expense, no
investment, no back-breakin' interest charges or overhead, an' sold
out at your own figger."

Captain Scraggs's face was a study in conflicting emotions as he
raked in the eighteen dollars. "Thanks, Gib," he said frigidly.

"Me an' Gib's goin' ashore for lunch at the Marigold Cafe,"
McGuffey announced presently, in order to break the horrible
silence that followed Scraggsy's crushing defeat. "I'm willin' to
spend some o' my profits on the deal an' blow you to a lunch with
a small bottle o' Dago Red thrown in. How about it, Scraggs?"

"I'm on." Scraggs sought to throw off his gloom and appear
sprightly. "What'd you peddle them two cadavers for, Gib?"

Mr. Gibney grinned broadly but did not answer. In effect, his
grin informed Scraggs that _that_ was none of the latter's
business--and Scraggs assimilated the hint. "Well, at any rate,
Gib, whatever you soaked him, it was a mighty good sale an' I
congratulate you. I think mebbe I might ha' done a little better
myself, but then it ain't every day a feller can turn an
eighteen-dollar trick on a corpse."

"Comin' to lunch with us?" McGuffey demanded.

"Sure. Wait a minute till I run forward an' see if the lines is
all fast."

He stepped out of the cabin and presently Gibney and McGuffey
were conscious of a rapid succession of thuds on the deck. Gibney
winked at McGuffey.

"'Nother new hat gone to hell," murmured McGuffey.




CHAPTER XVIII


It was fully a week before Captain Scraggs's mental hemorrhage,
brought on every time his mind reverted to his loss on the "ginseng"
deal, ceased. During all of that period his peregrinations around
the _Maggie_ were as those of one for whom the sweets of existence
had turned to wormwood and vinegar. Mr. Gibney confided to McGuffey
that it was a toss-up whether the old man was meditating murder or
suicide. In fact, so depressed was Captain Scraggs that he lacked
absolutely the ambition to "rag" his associates; observing which Mr.
McGuffey vouchsafed the opinion that perhaps Scraggsy was "teched a
mite in his head-block."

"Don't you think it," Mr. Gibney warned. "If old Scraggsy's crazy
he's crazy like a fox. What's rilin' him is the knowledge that
he's stung to the heart an' can't admit it without at the same
time admittin' he'd cooked up a deal to double-cross us. He's
just a-bustin' with the thoughts that's accumulatin' inside him.
Right now he'd drown his sorrers in red liquor if he could afford
it."

"He's troubled financially, Gib."

"Well, you know who troubled him, don't you, Bart?"

"I mean about the cost o' them repairs in the engine room. Unless
he can come through in thirty days with the balance he owes, the
boiler people are goin' to libel the _Maggie_ to protect their
claim."

Mr. Gibney arched his bushy eyebrows. "How do you know?" he
demanded.

"He was a-tellin' me," Mr. McGuffey admitted weakly.

"Well, he wasn't a-tellin' me." Mr. Gibney's tones were ominous;
he glared at his friend suspiciously as from the _Maggie's_ cabin
issued forth Scraggsy's voice raised in song.

"Hello! The old boy's thermometer's gone up, Bart. Listen at him.
'Ever o' thee he's fondly dreamin'.' Somethin's busted the spell
an' I'll bet a cooky it was ready cash." He menaced Mr. McGuffey
with a rigid index finger. "Bart," he demanded, "did you loan
Scraggsy some money?"

The honest McGuffey hung his head. "A little bit," he replied
childishly.

"What d'ye call a little bit?"

"Three hundred dollars, Gib."

"Secured?"

"He gimme his note at eight per cent. The savin's bank only pays
four."

"Is the note secured by endorsement or collateral?"

"No."

"Hum-m-m! Strange you didn't say nothin' to me about this till I
had to pry it out o' you, Bart. How about you?"

"Well, Scraggsy was feelin' so dog-goned blue----"

"The truth," Mr. Gibney insisted firmly, "the truth, Bart."

"Well, Scraggsy asked me not to say anythin' to you about it."

"Sure. He knew I'd kill the deal. He knew better'n to try to nick
me for three hundred bucks on his danged, worthless note. Bart,
why'd you do it?"

"Oh, hell, Gib, be a good feller," poor McGuffey pleaded. "Don't
be too hard on ol' Scraggsy."

"We're discussin' _you_, Bart. 'Pears to me you've sort o' lost
confidence in your old shipmate, ain't you? 'Pears that way to me
when you act sneaky like."

McGuffey bridled. "I ain't a sneak."

"A rose by any other name'd be just as sweet," Mr. Gibney quoted.
"You poor, misguided simp. If you ever see that three hundred
dollars again you'll be a lot older'n you are now. However, that
ain't none o' my business. The fact remains, Bart, that you
conspired with Scraggsy to keep things away from me, which shows
you ain't the man I thought you were, so from now on you go your
way an' I'll go mine."

"I got a right to do as I blasted please with my own money,"
McGuffey defended hotly. "I ain't no child to be lectured to."

"Considerin' the fact that you wouldn't have had the money to
lend if it hadn't been for me, I allow I'm insulted when you use
the said money to give aid an' comfort to my enemy. I'm through."

McGuffey, smothered in guilt, felt nevertheless that he had to
stand by his guns, so to speak. "Stay through, if you feel like
it," he retorted. "Where d'ye get that chatter? Ain't I free,
white, an' twenty-one year old?"

Mr. Gibney was really hurt. "You poor boob," he murmured. "It's
the old game o' settin' a beggar on horseback an' seein' him ride
to the devil, or slippin' a gold ring in a pig's nose. An' I
figured you was my friend!"

"Well, ain't I?"

"Fooey! Fooey! Don't talk to me. You'd sell out your own mother."

"Them's fightin' words, Gib."

"Shut up."

"Gib, you tryin' to pick a fight with me?"

"No, but I would if I thought I wouldn't git a footrace instead,"
Gibney rejoined scathingly. "Cripes, what a double-crossin' I
been handed! Honest, Bart, when it comes to that sort o' work
Scraggs is in his infancy. You sure take the cake."

"I ain't got the heart to clout you an' make you eat them words,"
Mr. McGuffey declared sorrowfully.

"You mean you ain't got the guts," Mr. Gibney corrected him.
"Bart, I got your number. Good-bye."

Mr. McGuffey had a wild impulse to cast himself upon the Gibney
neck and weep, but his honour forbade any such weakness. So he
invited Mr. Gibney to betake himself to a region several degrees
hotter than the _Maggie's_ engine room; then, because he feared
to linger and develop a sentimental weakness, he turned his back
abruptly and descended to the said engine room.

On his part, Adelbert P. Gibney entered the cabin and glared long
and menacingly at Captain Scraggs. "I'll have my time," he
growled presently. "Give it to me an' give it quick."

The very intonation of his voice warned Scraggs that the present
was not a time for argument or trifling. Silently he paid Mr.
Gibney the money due him; in equal silence the navigating officer
went to the pilot house, unscrewed his framed certificate from
the wall, packed it with his few belongings, and departed for
Scab Johnny's boarding house.

"Hello," Scab Johnny saluted him at his entrance. "Quit the
_Maggie_?"

Mr. Gibney nodded.

"Want a trip to the dark blue?"

"Lead me to it," mumbled Mr. Gibney.

"It'll cost you twenty dollars, Gib. Chief mate on the _Rose of
Sharon_, bound for the Galapagos Islands sealing."

"I'll take it, Johnny." Mr. Gibney threw over a twenty-dollar
bill, went to his room, packed all of his belongings, paid his
bill to Scab Johnny, and within the hour was aboard the schooner
_Rose of Sharon_. Two hours later they towed out with the tide.

Poor McGuffey was stunned when he heard the news that night from
Scab Johnny. When he retailed the information to Scraggs next
morning, Scraggs was equally perturbed. He guessed that McGuffey
and Gibney had quarrelled and he had the poor judgment to ask
McGuffey the cause of the row. Instantly, McGuffey informed him
that that was none of his dad-fetched business--and the incident
was closed.

The three months that followed were the most harrowing of
McGuffey's life. Captain Scraggs knew his engineer would not
resign while he, Scraggs, owed him three hundred dollars;
wherefore he was not too particular to put a bridle on his tongue
when things appeared to go wrong. McGuffey longed to kill him,
but dared not. When, eventually, the railroad had been extended
sufficiently far down the coast to enable the farmers to haul
their goods to the railroad in trucks, the _Maggie_ automatically
went out of the green-pea trade; simultaneously, Captain
Scraggs's note to McGuffey fell due and the engineer demanded
payment. Scraggs demurred, pleading poverty, but Mr. McGuffey
assumed such a threatening attitude that reluctantly Scraggs paid
him a hundred and fifty dollars on account, and McGuffey extended
the balance one year--and quit.

"See that you got that hundred and fifty an' the interest in your
jeans the next time we meet," he warned Scraggs as he went
overside.

Time passed. For a month the _Maggie_ plied regularly between
Bodega Bay and San Francisco in an endeavour to work up some
business in farm and dairy produce, but a gasoline schooner cut
in on the run and declared a rate war, whereupon the _Maggie_
turned her blunt nose riverward and for a brief period essayed
some towing and general freighting on the Sacramento and San
Joaquin. It was unprofitable, however, and at last Captain
Scraggs was forced to lay his darling little _Maggie_ up and take
a job as chief officer of the ferry steamer _Encinal_, plying
between San Francisco and Oakland. In the meantime, Mr. McGuffey,
after two barren months "on the beach," landed a job as second
assistant on a Standard Oil tanker running to the West Coast,
while thrifty Neils Halvorsen invested the savings of ten years
in a bay scow known as the _Willie and Annie_, arrogated to
himself the title of captain, and proceeded to freight hay,
grain, and paving stones from Petaluma.

The old joyous days of the green-pea trade were gone forever,
and many a night, as Captain Scraggs paced the deck of the
ferryboat, watching the ferry tower loom into view, or the
scattered lights along the Alameda shore, he thought longingly of
the old _Maggie_, laid away, perhaps forever, and slowly rotting
in the muddy waters of the Sacramento. And he thought of Mr.
Gibney, too, away off under the tropic stars, leading the
care-free life of a real sailor at last, and of Bartholomew
McGuffey, imbibing "pulque" in the "cantina" of some disreputable
cafe. Captain Scraggs never knew how badly he was going to miss
them both until they were gone, and he had nobody to fight with
except Mrs. Scraggs; and when Mrs. Scraggs (to quote Captain
Scraggs) "slipped her cable" in her forty-third year, Captain
Scraggs felt singularly lonesome and in a mood to accept eagerly
any deviltry that might offer.

Upon a night, which happened to be Scraggs's night off, and when he
was particularly lonely and inclined to drown his sorrows in the
Bowhead saloon, he was approached by Scab Johnny, and invited to
repair to the latter's dingy office for the purpose of discussing
what Scab Johnny guardedly referred to as a "proposition."

Upon arrival at the office, Captain Scraggs was introduced to a
small, fierce-looking gentleman of tropical appearance, who owned to
the name of Don Manuel Garcia Lopez. Scab Johnny first pledged
Captain Scraggs to absolute secrecy, and made him swear by the
honour of his mother and the bones of his father not to divulge a
word of what he was about to tell him.

Scab Johnny was short and to the point. He stated that as Captain
Scraggs was doubtless aware, if he perused the daily papers at all,
there was a revolution raging in Mexico. His friend, Senor Lopez,
represented the under-dogs in the disturbance, and was anxious to
secure a ship and a nervy sea captain to land a shipment of arms in
Lower California. It appeared that at a sale of condemned army goods
held at the arsenal at Benicia, Senor Lopez had, through Scab
Johnny, purchased two thousand single-shot Springfield rifles that
had been retired when the militia regiments took up the Krag. The
Krag in turn having been replaced by the modern magazine
Springfield, the old single-shot Springfields, with one hundred
thousand rounds of 45-70 ball cartridges, had been sold to the
highest bidder. In addition to the small arms, Lopez had at present
in a warehouse three machine guns and four 3 inch breech-loading
pieces of field artillery (the kind of guns generally designated as
a "jackass battery," for the reason that they can be taken down and
transported over rough country on mules)--together with a supply of
ammunition for same.

"Now, then," Scab Johnny continued, "the job that confronts us is
to get these munitions down to our friends in Mexico. You know,
as well as anybody, Scraggs, that while our government makes no
bones of selling a lot o' retired rifles an' ammunition,
nevertheless it's goin' to develop a heap o' curiosity regardin'
what we do with 'em. If we're caught sneakin' 'em into Mexico
we'll spend the rest of our lives in a Federal penitentiary for
bustin' the neutrality laws. All them rifles an' the ammunition
is cased an' in my basement at the present moment--and the
government agents knows they're there. But that ain't troubling
me. I rent the saloon next door an' I'll cut a hole through the
wall from my cellar into the saloon cellar, carry 'em through the
saloon into the backyard, an' out into the alley half a block
away. I'm watched, but I got the watcher spotted--only he don't
know it. Our only trouble is a ship. How about the _Maggie_?"

"I'd have to spend about two thousand dollars on her to put her
in condition for the voyage," Scraggs replied.

"Can do," Scab Johnny answered him briefly, and Senor Lopez
nodded acquiescence. "You discharge on a lighter at Descanso Bay
about twenty miles below Ensenada. What'll it cost us?"

"Ten thousand dollars, in addition to fixin' up the _Maggie_.
Half down and half on delivery. I'm riskin' my hide an' my ticket
an' I got to be well paid for it."

Again Senor Lopez nodded. What did he care? It wasn't his money.

"I'll furnish you with our own crew just before you sail," Scab
Johnny continued. "Get busy."

"Gimme a thousand for preliminary expenses," Scraggs demanded.
"After that Speed is my middle name."

The charming Senor Lopez produced the money in crisp new bills
and, perfect gentleman that he was, demanded no receipt. As a
matter of fact, Scraggs would not have given him one.

The two weeks that followed were busy ones for Captain Scraggs.
The day after his interview with Scab Johnny and Don Manuel he
engaged an engineer and a deck hand and went up the Sacramento to
bring the _Maggie_ down to San Francisco. Upon her arrival she
was hauled out on the marine ways at Oakland creek, cleaned,
caulked, and some new copper sheathing put on her bottom. She was
also given a dash of black paint, had her engines and boilers
thoroughly overhauled and repaired, and shipped a new propeller
that would add at least a knot to her speed. Also, she had her
stern rebuilt. And when everything was ready, she slipped down to
the Black Diamond coal bunkers and took on enough fuel to carry
her to San Pedro; after which she steamed across the bay to San
Francisco and tied up at Fremont Street wharf.

The cargo came down in boxes, variously labelled. There were
"agricultural implements," a "cream separator," a "windmill," and
half a dozen "sewing-machines," in addition to a considerable
number of kegs alleged to contain nails. Most of it came down
after five o'clock in the afternoon after the wharfinger had left
the dock, and as nothing but a disordered brain would have
suspected the steamer _Maggie_ of an attempt to break the
neutrality laws, the entire cargo was gotten aboard safely and
without a jot of suspicion attaching to the vessel.

When all was in readiness, Captain Scraggs incontinently "fired" his
deckhand and engineer and inducted aboard a new crew, carefully
selected for their filibuster virtues by Scab Johnny himself. Then
while the new engineer got up steam, Captain Scraggs went up to Scab
Johnny's office for his final instructions and the balance of the
first instalment due him.

Briefly, his instructions were as follows: Upon arrival off Point
Dume on the southern California coast, he was to stand in close
to Dume Cove under cover of darkness and show two green lights
on the masthead. A man would come alongside presently in a small
boat, and climb aboard. This man would be the supercargo and the
confidential envoy of the insurrecto junta in Los Angeles.
Captain Scraggs was to look to this man for orders and to obey
him implicitly, as upon this depended the success of the
expedition. This agent of the insurrecto forces would pay him the
balance of five thousand dollars due him immediately upon
discharge of the cargo at Descanso Bay. There was a body of
insurrecto troops encamped at Megano rancho, a mile from the
beach, and they would have a barge and small boats in readiness
to lighter the cargo. Scab Johnny explained that he had promised
the crew double wages and a bonus of a hundred dollars each for
the trip. Don Manuel Garcia Lopez paid over the requisite amount
of cash, and half an hour later the _Maggie_ was steaming down
the bay on her perilous mission.

The sun was setting as they passed out the Golden Gate and swung
down the south channel, and with the wind on her beam, the aged
_Maggie_ did nine knots. Late in the afternoon of the following
day she was off the Santa Barbara channel, and about midnight she
ran in under the lee of Point Dume and lay to. The mate hung out
the green signal lights, and in about an hour Captain Scraggs
heard the sound of oars grating in rowlocks. A few minutes later
a stentorian voice hailed them out of the darkness. Captain
Scraggs had a Jacob's ladder slung over the side and the mate and
two deckhands hung over the rail with lanterns, lighting up the
surrounding sea feebly for the benefit of the lone adventurer who
sat muffled in a great coat in the stern of a small boat rowed
by two men. There was a very slight sea running, and presently
the men in the small boat, watching their opportunity by the
ghostly light of the lanterns, ran their frail craft in under the
lee of the _Maggie_. The figure in the stern sheets leaped on the
instant, caught the Jacob's ladder, climbed nimbly over the side,
and swore heartily in very good English as his feet struck the
deck.

"What's the name of this floating coffin?" he demanded in a
chain-locker voice. It was quite evident that even in the darkness,
where her many defects were mercifully hidden, the _Maggie_ did not
suit the special envoy of the Mexican insurrectos.

"American steamer _Maggie_," said the skipper frigidly. "Scraggs
is my name, sir. And if you don't like my vessel----"

"Scraggsy!" roared the special envoy. "Scraggsy, for a thousand!
And the old _Maggie_ of all boats! Scraggsy, old tarpot, your
fin! Duke me, you doggoned old salamander!"

"Gib, my _dear_ boy!" shrieked Captain Scraggs and cast himself
into Mr. Gibney's arms in a transport of joy. Mr. Gibney, for it
was indeed he, pounded Captain Scraggs on the back with one great
hand while with the other he crushed the skipper's fingers to a
pulp, the while he called on all the powers of darkness to
witness that never in all his life had he received such a
pleasant surprise.

It was indeed a happy moment. All the old animosities and
differences were swallowed up in the glad hand-clasp with which
Mr. Gibney greeted his old shipmate of the green-pea trade.
Scraggs took him below at once and they pledged each other's
health in a steaming kettle of grog, while the _Maggie_, once
more on her course, rolled south toward Descanso Bay.

"Well, I'll be keel-hauled and skull-dragged!" said Captain
Scraggs, producing a box of two-for-a-quarter cigars and handing
it to Mr. Gibney. "Gib, my _dear_ boy, wherever have you been
these last three years?"

"Everywhere," replied Mr. Gibney. "I have been all over, mostly
in Panama and the Gold Coast. For two years I've been navigatin'
officer on the Colombian gunboat _Bogota_. When I was a young
feller I did a hitch in the navy and become a first-class gunner,
and then I went to sea in the merchant marine, and got my mate's
license, and when I flashed my credentials on the president of
the United States of Colombia he give me a job at "dos cienti
pesos oro" per. That's Spanish for two hundred bucks gold a
month. I've been through two wars and I got a medal for sinkin' a
fishin' smack. I talk Spanish just like a native, I don't drink
no more to speak of, and I've been savin' my money. Some day when
I get the price together I'm goin' back to San Francisco, buy me
a nice little schooner, and go tradin' in the South Seas. How
they been comin' with you, Scraggsy, old kiddo?"

"Lovely," replied Scraggs. "Just simply grand. I'll pull ten
thousand out of this job."

Mr. Gibney whistled shrilly through his teeth.

"That's the ticket for soup," he said admiringly. "I tell you,
Scraggs, this soldier of fortune business may be all right, but
it don't amount to much compared to being a sailor of fortune,
eh, Scraggsy? Just as soon as I heard there was a revolution in
Mexico I quit my job in the Colombian navy and come north for the
pickin's.... No, I ain't been in their rotten little army....
D'ye think I want to go around killin' people?... There ain't no
pleasure gettin' killed in the mere shank of a bright and
prosperous life ... a dead hero don't gather no moss, Scraggsy.
Reads all right in books, but it don't appeal none to me. I'm for
peace every time, so right away as soon as I heard of the
trouble, says I to myself: 'Things has been pretty quiet in
Mexico for twenty years, and they're due to shift things around
pretty much. What them peons need is a man with an imagination to
help 'em out, and if they've got the money, Adelbert P. Gibney
can supply the brains.' So I comes north to Los Angeles, shows
the insurrecto junta my medal and my honourable discharges from
every ship I'd ever been in, includin' the gunboat _Bogota_, and
I talked big and swelled around and told 'em to run in some arms
and get busy. I framed it all up for this filibuster trip you're
on, Scraggsy, only I never did hear that they'd picked on you. I
told that coffee-coloured rat of a Lopez man to hunt up Scab
Johnny and he'd set him right, but if anybody had told me you had
the nerve to run the _Maggie_ in on this deal, Scraggsy, I'd
a-called him a liar. Scraggs, you're _mucho-bueno_--that is,
you're all right. I'm so used to talkin' Spanish that I forget
myself. Still, there's one end of this little deal that I ain't
exactly explained to all hands. If I'd a-known they was
charterin' the _Maggie_, I'd have blocked the game."

"Why?" demanded Captain Scraggs, instantly on the defensive.

"Not that I'm holdin' any grudge agin you, Scraggsy," said Mr.
Gibney affably, "but I wouldn't a-had you no more now than I
would when we was runnin' in the green-pea trade. It's because
you ain't got no imagination, and the _Maggie_ ain't big enough
for my purpose. Havin' the _Maggie_ sort of puts a crimp in my
plans."

"Rot," snapped Captain Scraggs. "I've had the _Maggie_ overhauled
and shipped a new wheel, and she's a mighty smart little boat,
I'll tell you. I'll land them arms in Descanso Bay all right."

"I know you will," said Mr. Gibney sadly. "That's just what
hurts. You see, Scraggsy, I never intended 'em for Descanso Bay
in the first place. There's a nice healthy little revolution
fomentin' down in the United States of Colombia, with Adelbert P.
Gibney playin' both ends to the middle. And there's a dog-hole
down on the Gold Coast where I intended to land this cargo, but
now that Scab Johnny's gone to work and sent me a bay scow
instead of a sea-goin' steamer, I'm in the nine-hole instead o'
dog-hole. I can never get as far as the Gold Coast with the
_Maggie_. She can't carry coal enough to last her."

"But I thought these guns and things was for the Mexicans,"
quavered Captain Scraggs. "Scab Johnny and Lopez told me they
was."

Mr. Gibney groaned and hid his face in his hands. "Scraggsy," he
said sadly, "it's a cinch you ain't used the past four years to
stimulate that imagination of yours. Of course they was purchased
for the Mexicans, but what was to prevent me from lettin' the
Mexicans pay for them, help out on the charter of the boat, and
then have me divert the cargo to the United States of Colombia,
where I can sell 'em at a clear profit, the cost bein' nothin' to
speak of? Now you got to come buttin' in with the _Maggie_, and
what happens? Why, I got to be honest, of course. I got to make
good on my bluff, and what's in it for me? Nothin' but glory. Can
you hock a chunk of glory for ham and eggs, Phineas Scraggs? Not
on your life. If it hadn't been for you buttin' in with your
blasted, rotten hulk of a fresh-water skiff, I'd----"

Mr. Gibney paused ominously and savagely bit the end of his
cigar. As for Captain Scraggs, every drop of blood in his body
was boiling in defense of the ship he loved.

"You're a pirate," he shrilled.

"And you're just as big a hornet as you ever was," replied Mr.
Gibney. "Always buzzin' around where you ain't wanted. But still,
what's the use of bawlin' over spilt milk? We'll drop into San
Diego for a couple of hours and take on coal, and about sunset
we'll pull out and make the run down to Descanso Bay in the dark.
We might as well forget the past and put this thing through as
per program. Only I saw visions of a schooner all my own,
Scraggsy, and--well, what's the use? What's the use? Scraggsy,
you're a natural-born mar-plot. Always buttin' in, buttin' in,
buttin' in, fit for nothin' but the green-pea trade. However, I
guess I can turn into my old berth and get some sleep. Put the
old girl under a slow bell and save your coal. We'll have to fool
away four or five hours in San Diego anyhow and there ain't no
sense in crowdin' the old hulk."

"Gib," said Captain Scraggs, "was that really your lay--to steal
the cargo, double-cross the insurrecto junta, and sell out to a
furrin' country?"

"Of course it was," said Mr. Gibney pettishly. "They all do such
things in the banana republics. Why should I be an exception?
There's half a dozen different gangs fightin' each other and the
government in Mexico, and if I don't deliver these arms, just see
all the lives I'll be savin'. And after I got the cargo into
Colombia and sold it, I could have peached on the rebels there,
and got a reward for it, and saved a lot more lives, and come
away rich and respected."

"By the Lord Harry," said Captain Scraggs, "but you've got an
imagination, Gib. I'll swear to that. Gib, I take off my hat to
you. You're all tight and shipshape and no loose ends bobbin'
around _you_. Don't tell me th' scheme's got t' fall through,
Gib. Great snakes, don't tell me that. Ain't there some way o'
gettin' around it? There _must_ be. Why, Gib, my dear boy, I
never heard of such a grand lay in my life. It's a absolute
winner. Don't give up, Gib. Oil up your imagination and find a
way out. Let's get together, Gib, and make a little money. Dang
it all, Gib, I been lonesome ever since I seen you last."

"Well," replied Mr. Gibney, "I'll turn in and try to scheme a way
out, but I don't hold out no hope. Not a ray of it. I'm afraid,
Scraggsy, we've got to be honest."

Saying which, Mr. Gibney hopped up into his berth, stretched his
huge legs, and fell asleep with his clothes on. Captain Scraggs
looked him over with the closest approach to affection that had
ever lightened his cold gray eye, and sighing heavily, presently
went on deck. As he passed up the companion-way, the first mate
heard him murmur:

"Gib's a fine lad. I'll be dad burned if he ain't."




CHAPTER XIX


At six o'clock next morning the _Maggie_ was rounding Point Loma,
heading in for San Diego Bay, and Captain Scraggs went below and
awakened Mr. Gibney.

"What's for breakfast, Scraggsy, old kid?" asked Mr. Gibney.

"Fried eggs," said Captain Scraggs, remembering Mr. Gibney's
partiality for that form of nutriment in the vanished days of the
green-pea trade. "Ham an' fried eggs an' a sizzlin' pot o'
coffee. Thought a way out o' our mess, Gib?"

"Not yet," replied Mr. Gibney as he rolled out of bed, "but eggs
is always stimulatin', and I don't give up hope on a full
stomach."

An hour later they were tied up under the coal bunkers, and at
Mr. Gibney's suggestion some twenty tons of sacked coal were
piled on top of the fo'castle head and on the main deck for'd, in
case of emergency. They lay in the harbour all day until about
four o'clock, when Mr. Gibney, by virtue of his authority as
supercargo, ordered the lines cast off and the _Maggie_ steamed
out of the harbour. Off Point Loma they veered to the south,
leaving the Coronado Islands on the starboard quarter, ten miles
to the west. Mr. Gibney was below with Captain Scraggs, battling
with the problem that confronted them, when the mate stuck his
head down the companion-way to report a large power schooner
coming out from the lee of the Coronados and standing off on a
course calculated to intercept the _Maggie_ in an hour or two.

Captain Scraggs and Mr. Gibney sprang up on the bridge at once,
the latter with Scraggs's long glass up to his eye.

"She was hove to under the lee of the island, and the minute we
came out of the harbour and turned south she come nosin' after
us," said the mate.

"Hum!" muttered Mr. Gibney. "Gasoline schooner. Two masts and
baldheaded. About a hundred and twenty ton, I should say, and
showin' a pretty pair of heels. There's somethin' up for'd--yes--let
me see--ye-e-es, there's two more--_holy sailor! it's a gunboat!_
One of those doggoned gasoline coast patrol boats, and there's the
Federal flag flying at the fore."

"Let's put back to San Diego Bay," quavered Captain Scraggs.
"I'll be durned if I relish the idee o' losin' the _Maggie_."

"Too late," said the philosophical Gibney. "We're in Mexican
waters now, and she can cut us off from the bay. The only thing
we can do is to run for it and try to lose her after dark. Tell
the engineer to crowd her to the limit. There ain't much wind to
speak of, so I guess we can manage to hold our own for a while.
Nevertheless, I've got a hunch that we'll be overhauled. Of
course, you ain't got no papers to show, Scraggs, and they'll
search the cargo, and confiscate us, and shoot the whole bloomin'
crowd of us. I bet a dollar to a doughnut that fellow Lopez sold
us out, after the fashion of the country. I can't help thinkin'
that that gunboat was there just a-waitin' for us to show up."

For several minutes Mr. Gibney continued to study the gunboat
until there could no longer be any doubt that she intended to
overhaul them. He made out that she had a long gun for'd, with a
battery of two one-pounders on top of her house and something on
her port quarter that looked like a Maxim rapid-fire gun. About
twenty men, dressed in white cloth, could be seen on her decks.

Presently Mr. Gibney was interrupted by Captain Scraggs pulling
at his sleeve.

"You was a gunner once, wasn't you, Gib?" said Captain Scraggs in
a trembling voice.

"You bet I was," replied Mr. Gibney. "My shootin' won the trophy
three times in succession when I was on the old _Kearsarge_. If I
had one good gun and a half-decent crew, I'd knock that gunboat
silly before she knew what had hit her."

"Gib, I've got an idee," said Captain Scraggs.

"Out with it," said Mr. Gibney cheerfully.

"There was four little cannon lowered into the hold the last
thing before we put on the main hatch, and the ammunition to load
'em with is stowed in the after hold and very easy to get at."

Mr. Gibney turned a beaming face to the skipper, reached out his
arms, and folded Captain Scraggs in an embrace that would have
done credit to a grizzly bear. There were genuine tears of
admiration in his eyes and in his voice when he could master his
emotions sufficiently to speak.

"Scraggsy, old tarpot, you've been a long time comin' through on
the imagination, but you've sure arrived with all sail set. I
always thought you had about as much nerve as an oyster, but I
take it all back. We'll get out them two little jackass guns and
fight a naval battle, and if I don't sink that Mexican gunboat,
and save the _Maggie_, feed me to the sharks, for I won't be
worthy of the blood that's in me. Pipe all hands and lift off
that main hatch. Reeve a block and tackle through that cargo gaff
and stand by to heave out the guns."

But Captain Scraggs had repented of his rash suggestion almost
the moment he made it. Only the dire necessity of desperate
measures to save the _Maggie_ had prompted him to put the idea
into Mr. Gibney's head, and when he saw the avidity with which
the latter set to work clearing for action, his terror knew no
bounds.

"Oh, Gib," he wailed, "I'm afraid we better not try to lick that
gunboat after all. They might sink us with all hands."

"Rats!" said Mr. Gibney, as he leaped into the hold. "Bear a
light here until I can root out the wheels of these guns. Here
they are, labelled 'cream separator.' Stand by with that sling
to----"

"But, Gib, my _dear_ boy," protested Captain Scraggs, "this is
_insanity_!"

"I know it," said Mr. Gibney calmly. "Scraggsy, you're perfectly
right. But I'd sooner die fightin' than let them stand me up agin
a wall in Ensenada. We're filibusters, Scraggsy, and we're caught
with the goods. I, for one, am goin' down with the steamer
_Maggie_, but I'm goin' down fightin' like a bear."

"Maybe--maybe we can outrun her, Gib," half sobbed Captain
Scraggs.

"No hope," replied Mr. Gibney. "Fight and die is the last resort.
She's eight miles astern and gainin' every minute, and when she's
within two miles she'll open fire. Of course we won't be hit
unless they've got a Yankee gunner aboard."

"Let's run up the Stars and Stripes and dare 'em to fire on us,"
said Captain Scraggs.

"No," said Mr. Gibney firmly, "my old man died for the flag an'
I've sailed under it too long to hide behind it when I'm in
Dutch. We'll fight. If you was ever navigatin' officer on a
Colombian gunboat, Scraggs, you'd realize what it means to run
from a Mexican."

Captain Scraggs said nothing further. Perhaps he was a little
ashamed of himself in the face of Mr. Gibney's simple faith in
his own ability; perhaps in his veins, all unknown, there flowed
a taint of the heroic blood of some forgotten sea-dog. Be that as
it may, something did swell in his breast when Mr. Gibney spoke
of the flag and his scorning to hide behind it, and Scraggs's
snaggle teeth came together with a snap.

"All right, Gib, my boy," he said solemnly, "I'm with you. Mrs.
Scraggs has slipped her cable and there ain't nobody to mourn for
me. But if we can't fight under the Stars and Stripes, by the
tail of the Great Sacred Bull, we'll have a flag of our own," and
leaving Mr. Gibney and the crew to get the guns on deck, Captain
Scraggs ran below. He appeared on deck presently with a long blue
burgee on which was emblazoned in white letters the single word
_Maggie_. It was his own houseflag, and with trembling hands he
ran it to the fore and cast its wrinkled folds to the breeze of
heaven.

"Good old dishcloth!" shrieked Mr. Gibney. "She never comes
down."

"Damned if she does," said Captain Scraggs profanely.

While all this was going on a deckhand had reeved a block and
tackle through the end of the cargo gaff and passed it to the
winch. The two guns came out of the hold in jig time, and while
Scraggs and one deckhand opened the after hold and got out
ammunition for the guns, Mr. Gibney, assisted by the other
deckhand, proceeded to put one of the guns together. He was
shrewd enough to realize that he would have to do practically all
of the work of serving the gun himself, in view of which
condition one gun would have to defend the _Maggie_. He had never
seen a mountain gun before, but he did not find it difficult to
put the simple mechanism together.

"Now, then, Scraggsy," he announced cheerfully when the gun was
finally assembled on the carriage, "get a sizeable timber an'
spike it to the centre o' the deck. I'll run the trail spade up
against that cleat an' that'll keep the recoil from lettin' the
gun go backward, clean through the opposite rail and overboard.
Gimme a coupler gallons o' distillate and some waste, somebody.
This cosmoline's got to come out o' the tube an' out o' the
breech mechanism before we commence shootin'."

The enemy had approached within three miles by the time the piece
was ready for action. Under Mr. Gibney's instructions Captain
Scraggs held the fuse setter in case it should be necessary to
adjust with shrapnel. Mr. Gibney inserted his sights and took a
preliminary squint. "A little different from gun-pointin' in the
navy, but about the same principle," he declared. "In the army I
believe they call this kind o' shootin' direct fire, because you
sight direct on the target." He scratched his ingenious head and
examined the ammunition. "Not a high explosive shell in the lot,"
he mourned. "I'll have to use percussion fire to get the range;
then I'll drop back a little an' spray her with shrapnel. Seems a
pity to smash up a fine schooner like that one with percussion
fire. I'd rather tickle 'em up a bit with shrapnel an' scare 'em
into runnin' away."

He got out the lanyard, slipped a cartridge in the breech,
paused, and scratched his head again. His calm deliberation was
driving Scraggs crazy. He reminded Mr. Gibney with some asperity
that they were not attending a strawberry festival and for the
love of heaven to get busy.

"I'm estimatin' the range, you snipe," Gibney retorted. "Looks to
be about three miles to me. A little long, mebbe, for this gun,
but--there's nothin' like tryin'," and he sighted carefully.
"Fire," he bawled as the _Maggie_ rested an instant in the trough
of the sea--and a deckhand jerked the lanyard. Instantly Mr.
Gibney clapped the long glass to his eye.

"Good direction--over," he murmured. "I'll lay on her waterline
next time." He jerked open the breech, ejected the cartridge
case, and rammed another cartridge home. This shot struck the
water directly under the schooner's bow and threw water over her
forecastle head. Mr. Gibney smiled, spat overboard, and winked
confidently at Captain Scraggs. "Like spearin' fish in a bath
tub," he declared. He bent over the fuse setter. "Corrector three
zero," he intoned, "four eight hundred." He thrust a cartridge in
the fuse setter, twisted it, slammed it in the gun, and fired
again. The water broke into tiny waterspouts over a considerable
area some two hundred yards short of the schooner, so Mr. Gibney
raised his range to five thousand and tried again. "Over," he
growled.

Something whined over the _Maggie_ and threw up a waterspout half
a mile beyond her.

"Dubs," jeered Mr. Gibney, and sighted again. This time his
shrapnel burst neatly on the schooner. Almost simultaneously a
shell from the schooner dropped into the sacked coal on the
forecastle head of the _Maggie_ and enveloped her in a black pall
of smoke and coal dust. Captain Scraggs screamed.

"Tit for tat," the philosophical Gibney reminded him. "We can't
expect to get away with everything, Scraggsy, old kiddo." The
words were scarcely out of his mouth before the _Maggie's_
mainmast and about ten feet of her ancient railing were trailing
alongside. Mr. Gibney whistled softly through his teeth and
successfully sprayed the Mexican again. "It breaks my heart to
ruin that craft's canvas," he declared, and let her have it once
more.

"My _Maggie's_ tail is shot away," Captain Scraggs wailed, "an' I
only rebuilt it a week ago." Three more shots from the long gun
missed them, but the fourth carried away the cabin, leaving the
wreck of the pilot house, with the helmsman unscathed, sticking
up like a sore thumb.

"Turn her around and head straight for them," the gallant Gibney
roared. "She's a smaller target comin' bows on. We're broadside
to her now."

"Gib, will you ever sink that Greaser?" Captain Scraggs sobbed
hysterically.

"Don't want to sink her," the supercargo retorted. "She's a nice
little schooner. I'd rather capture her. Maybe we can use her in
our business, Scraggsy," and he continued to shower the enemy
with high bursting shrapnel. When the two vessels were less than
two miles apart the one-pounders came into action. It was pretty
shooting and the wicked little shells ripped through the old
_Maggie_ like buckshot through a roll of butter. Mr. Gibney slid
flat on the deck beside his gun and Captain Scraggs sprawled
beside him.

"A feller," Mr. Gibney announced, "has got to take a beatin'
while lookin' for an openin' to put over the knockout blow. If
the old _Maggie_ holds together till we're within a cable's
length o' that schooner an' we ain't all killed by that time, I
bet I'll make them skunks sing soft an' low."

"How?" Captain Scraggs chattered.

"With muzzle bursts," Mr. Gibney replied. "I'll set my fuse at
zero an' at point-blank range I'll just rake everything off that
schooner's decks. Guess I'll get half a dozen cartridges set an'
ready for the big scene. Up with you, Admiral Scraggs, an' hold
the fuse setter steady."

"I'm agin war," Scraggs quavered. "Gib, it's sure hell."

"Rats! It's invigouratin', Scraggsy. There ain't nothin' wrong
with war, Scraggsy, unless you happen to get killed. Then it's
like cholera. You can cure every case except the first one."

They had come inside the minimum range of the Mexican's long gun
now, so that only the one-pounders continued to peck at the
_Maggie_. Evidently the Mexican was as eager to get to close
quarters as Mr. Gibney, for he held steadily on his course.

"Well, it's time to put over the big stuff," Mr. Gibney remarked
presently. "Here's hopin' they don't pot me with rifle fire while
I'm extendin' my compliments."

As the first muzzle burst raked the Mexican Captain Scraggs saw
that most of the terrible blast of lead had gone too high.
Nevertheless, it was effective, for to a man the crews of the
one-pounders deserted their posts and tumbled below; seeing which
the individual in command lost his nerve. He was satisfied now
that the infernal _Maggie_ purposed ramming him; he had marvelled
that the filibuster should use shrapnel, after she had ranged
with shell (he did not know it was percussion shrapnel) and in
sudden panic he decided that the _Maggie_, mortally wounded,
purposed getting close enough to sink him with shell-fire if she
failed to ram him; whereupon the yellow streak came through and
he waved his arms frantically above his head in token of
surrender.

"She's hauled down her rag," shrieked Scraggs. "Be merciful, Gib.
There's men dyin' on that boat."

"Lay alongside that craft," Mr. Gibney shouted to the helmsman.
The schooner had hove to and when the _Maggie_ also hove to some
thirty yards to windward of her Mr. Gibney informed the Mexican,
in atrocious Spanish well mixed with English, that if the latter
so much as lifted his little finger he might expect to be sunk
like a dog. "Down below, everybody but the helmsman, or I'll
sweep your decks with another muzzle burst," he thundered.

The Mexican obeyed and Captain Scraggs went up in the pilot house
and laid the terribly battered _Maggie_ alongside the schooner.
The instant she touched, Mr. Gibney sprang aboard, quickly
followed by Captain Scraggs, who had relinquished the helm to his
first mate.

Suddenly Captain Scraggs shouted, "Look, Gib, for the love of the
Lord, look!" and pointed with his finger. At the head of the
little iron-railed companion way leading down into the engine
room a man was standing. He had a monkey wrench in one hand and a
greasy rag in the other.

Mr. Gibney turned and looked at the man.

"McGuffey, for a thousand," he bellowed, and ran forward with
outstretched hand. Captain Scraggs was at Gibney's heels, and
between them they came very nearly dislocating Bartholomew
McGuffey's arm.

"McGuffey, my _dear_ boy," said Captain Scraggs. "Whatever are
you a-doin' on this heathen warship?"

"Me!" ejaculated Mr. McGuffey, with his old-time deliberation.
"Why, I'm the chief engineer of this craft. I had a good job,
too, but I guess it's all off now, and the Mexican Government'll
fire me. Say, who chucked that buckshot down into my engine
room?"

"Admiral Gibney did it," said Scraggs. "The old _Maggie's_
alongside and me and Gib's filibusters. Bear a hand, Mac, and
help us clap the hatches on our prisoners."

"Thank God," said Mr. Gibney piously, "I didn't kill you. Come to
look into the matter, I didn't kill anybody, though I see half a
dozen Mexicans around decks more or less cut up. Where you been
all these years, Mac?"

"I been chief engineer in the Mexican navy," replied McGuffey.
"Have you captured us in the name of the United States or what?"

"We've captured you in the name of Adelbert P. Gibney," was the
reply. "I been huntin' all my life for a ship of my own, and now
I've got her. Lord, Mac, she's a beauty, ain't she? All hardwood
finish, teak rail, well found, and just the ticket for the island
trade. Well, well, well! I'm Captain Gibney at last."

"Where do I come in, Gib?" asked Captain Scraggs modestly.

"Well, seein' as the _Maggie_ has two holes through her hull
below the waterline, and is generally nicked to pieces, you might
quit askin' questions and get back aboard and put the pumps on
her. You're lucky if she don't sink on you before we get to
Descanso Bay. If she sinks, don't worry. I'll give you a job as
my first mate. Mac, you're my engineer, but not at no fancy
Mexican price. I'll pay you the union scale and not a blasted
cent more or less. Is that fair?"

McGuffey said it was, and went below to tune up his engine. Mr.
Gibney took the wheel of the gunboat, and sent Captain Scraggs
back aboard the _Maggie_, and in a few minutes both vessels were
bowling along toward Descanso Bay. They were off the bay at
midnight, and while with Mr. Gibney in command of the federal
gunboat Captain Scraggs had nothing to fear, the rapid rise of
water in the hold of the _Maggie_ was sadly disconcerting. About
daylight he made up his mind that she would sink within two
hours, and without pausing to whine over his predicament, he
promptly beached her. She drove far up the beach, with the slack
water breaking around her scarred stern, and when the tide ebbed
she lay high and dry. And the rebel soldiers came trooping down
from the Megano rancho and falling upon her carcass like so many
ants, quickly distributed her cargo amongst them, and disappeared.

Captain Scraggs sent his crew out aboard the captured gunboat to
assist Mr. Gibney in rowing his prisoners ashore, and when
finally he stood alone beside the wreck of the brave old
_Maggie_, piled up at last in the port of missing ships,
something snapped within his breast and the big tears rolled in
quick succession down his sun-tanned cheeks. The old hulk looked
peculiarly pathetic as she lay there, listed over on her beam
ends. She had served him well, but she had finished her last
voyage, and with some vague idea of saving her old bones from
vandal hands, Captain Scraggs, sobbing audibly, scattered the
contents of half a dozen cans of kerosene over her decks and in
the cabin, lighted fires in three different sections of the
wreck, and left her to the consuming flames. Half an hour later
he stood on the battered decks of the gunboat beside Gibney and
McGuffey and watched the dense clouds of smoke that heralded the
passing of the _Maggie_.

"She was a good old hulk," said Mr. Gibney. "And now, as the
special envoy of the Liberal army of Mexico, here's a draft on
Los Angeles for five thousand bucks, Scraggsy, which constitutes
the balance due you on this here filibuster trip. Of course, I
needn't remind you, Scraggsy, that you'd never have earned this
money if it hadn't been for Adelbert P. Gibney workin' his
imagination overtime. I've made you a chunk of money, and while I
couldn't save your ship, I did save your life. As a reward for
all this, I don't claim one cent of the money due you, as I could
if I wanted to be rotten mean. I'm goin' to keep this fine little
power schooner for my share of the loot. She's nicked up some,
but that only bears evidence to what a bully good shot I am, and
it won't take much to fix her up all shipshape again. Usin' high
bursts shrapnel ain't very destructive. All them bumps an'
scratches can be planed down. But we'll have to do some mendin'
on her canvas--I'll tell the world. She's called the _Reina
Maria_, but I'm going to run her to Panama and change her name.
She'll be known as _Maggie II_, out of respect for the old girl
that's burnin' up there on the beach."

Captain Scraggs was so touched at this delicate little tribute
that he turned away and burst into tears.

"Aw, shut up, Scraggsy, old hunks," said McGuffey consolingly.
"You ain't got nothin' to cry about. You're a rich man. Look at
me. I ain't a-bawlin', am I? And I don't get so much as a bean
out of this mix-up, all on account of me bein' tied up with a lot
of hounds that quits fightin' before they're half licked."

"That's so," said Captain Scraggs, wiping his eyes with his grimy
fists. "I declare you're out in the cold, McGuffey, and it ain't
right. Gib, my boy, us three has had some stirrin' times together
and we've had our differences, but I ain't a-goin' to think of
them past griefs. The sight o' you, single-handed, meetin' and
annihilatin' the pride of the Mexican navy, calm in th' moment o'
despair, generous in victory and delicate as blazes to a fallen
shipmate, goin' to work an' namin' your vessel after him that
way, is somethin' that wipes away all sorrer and welds a
friendship that's bound to endoor till death us do part. If
McGuffey'd been on our side, we know from past performances that
he'd a fit like a tiger, wouldn't you, Mac?" (Here Mr. McGuffey
coughed slightly, as much as to say that he would have fought
like ten tigers had he only been given the opportunity.)

Captain Scraggs continued: "I should say that a fair valuation of
this schooner as she stands is ten thousand dollars. That belongs
to Gib. Now I'm willin' to chuck five thousand dollars into the
deal, we'll form a close corporation and as a compliment to
McGuffey, elect him chief engineer in his own ship and give him
say a quarter interest in our layout, as a little testimonial to
an old friend, tried and true."

"Scraggsy," said Mr. Gibney, "your fin. We've fought, but we'll let
that go. We wipe the slate clean and start in all over again on the
_Maggie II_, and I'm free to state, without fear of contradiction,
that in the last embroglio you showed up like four aces and a king
with the entire company standin' pat. Scraggsy, you're a hero, and
what you propose proves that you're considerable of a singed
cat--better'n you look. We'll go freebootin' down on the Gold Coast.
There's war, red war, breakin' loose down there, and we'll shy in
our horseshoe with the strongest side and pry loose a fortune
somewhere. I'm for a life of wild adventure, and now that we've got
the ship and the funds and the crew, let's go to it. There's a deal
of fine liquor in the wardroom, and I suggest that we nominate
Phineas Scraggs, late master of the battleship _Maggie_, now second
in command of the _Maggie II_, to brew a kettle o' hot grog to
celebrate our victory. Mac--Scraggsy--your fins. I'm proud of you
both. Shake."

They shook, and as Captain Gibney's eye wandered aloft, First
Mate Scraggs and Chief Engineer McGuffey looked up also. From the
main topmast of the _Maggie II_ floated a long blue burgee, with
white lettering on it, and as it whipped out into the breeze the
old familiar name stood out against the noonday sun.

"Good old dishcloth!" murmured Mr. Gibney. "She never comes
down."

"The _Maggie_ forever!" shrieked Scraggs.

"Hooray!" bellowed McGuffey. "An' now, Scraggsy, if you've got
all the enthusiasm out of your blood, kick in with a hundred an'
fifty dollars an' interest to date. An' don't tell me that note's
outlawed, or I'll feed you to the fishes."

Captain Scraggs looked crestfallen, but produced the money.




CHAPTER XX


"Well, Scraggsy, old hunks, this is pleasant, ain't it?" said Mr.
Gibney, and spat on the deck of the _Maggie II_.

"Right-o," replied Captain Scraggs cheerily, "though when I was a
young feller and first went to sea, it wasn't considered no
pleasantry to spit on a nice clean deck. You might cut that out,
Gib. It's vulgar."

"Passin' over the fact, Scraggs, that you ain't got no call to jerk
me up on sea ettycat, more particular since I'm the master and
managin' owner of this here schooner, I'm free to confess, Scraggsy,
that your observation does you credit. I just did that to see if you
was goin' to take as big an interest in the new _Maggie_ as you did
in the old _Maggie_, and the fact that you object to me expectoratin'
on the deck proves to me that you're leavin' behind you all them bay
scow tendencies of the green-pea trade. It leads me to believe that
you'll rise to high rank and distinction in the Colombian navy. Your
fin, Scraggsy. Expectoratin' on the decks is barred, and the _Maggie
II_ goes under navy discipline from now on. Am I right?"

"Right as a right whale," said Captain Scraggs. "And now that
you've given that old mate of mine the course, and we've
temporarily plugged up the holes in this here Mexican gunboat,
and everything points to a safe and profitable voyage from now
on, suppose you delegate me as a committee of one to brew a
scuttle of grog, after which the syndicate holds a meetin' and
lays out a course for its future conduct. There's a few questions
of rank and privileges that ought to be settled once for all, so
there can't be no come-back."

"The point is well taken and it is so ordered," said Mr. Gibney, who
had once held office in Harbour 15, Masters and Pilots Association
of America, and knew a fragment or two of parliamentary law. "Rustle
up the grog, call McGuffey up out of the engine room, and we'll hold
the meetin'."

Twenty minutes later Scraggs came on deck to announce the
successful concoction of a kettle of whisky punch; whereupon the
three adventurers went below and sat down at the cabin table for
a conference.

"I move that Gib be appointed president of the syndicate," said
Captain Scraggs.

"Second the motion," rumbled McGuffey.

"The motion's carried," said Mr. Gibney, and banged the table
with his horny fist. "The meetin' will please come to order. The
chair hereby appoints Phineas Scraggs secretary of the syndicate,
to keep a record of this and all future meetin's of the board. I
will now entertain propositions of any and all natures, and I
invite the members of the board to knock the stopper out of their
jaw tackle and go to it."

"I move," said Captain Scraggs, "that B. McGuffey, Esquire, be,
and he is hereby appointed, chief engineer of the _Maggie II_ at
a salary not to exceed the wage schedule of the Marine Engineers'
Association of the Pacific Coast, and that he be voted a
one-fourth interest in the vessel and all subsequent profits."

"Second the motion," said Mr. Gibney, "and not to hamper the
business of the meetin', we'll just consider that motion carried
unanimous."

B. McGuffey, Esquire, rose, bowed his thanks, and sat down again,
apparently very much confused. It was evident that he had
something to say, but was having difficulty framing his thoughts
in parliamentary language.

"Heave away, Mac," said Mr. Gibney.

"Cast off your lines, McGuffey," chirped Scraggs.

Thus encouraged, McGuffey rose, bowed his thanks once more,
moistened his larynx with a gulp of the punch, and spoke:

"Feller members and brothers of the syndicate: In the management
of the deck department of this new craft of ourn, my previous
knowledge of the worthy president and the unworthy secretary
leads me to believe that there's goin' to be trouble. A ship
divided agin herself must surely go on her beam ends. Now,
Scraggsy here has been master so long that the juice of authority
has sorter soaked into his marrer bones. For twenty years it's
been 'Howdy do, Captain Scraggs,' 'Have a drink, Captain
Scraggs,' 'Captain Scraggs this an' Captain Scraggs that.' I
don't mean no offense, gentlemen, when I state that you can't
teach an old dog new tricks. No man that's ever been a master
makes a good mate. On the other hand, I realize that Gib here has
been a-pantin' and a-bellyachin' all his life to get a ship of
his own an' have folks call him 'Captain Gibney.' Now that he's
gone an' done it, I say he's entitled to it. But the fact of the
whole thing is, Gib's the natural leader of the expedition or
whatever it's goin' to be, and he can't have his peace of mind
wrecked and his plans disturbed a-chasin' sailors around the deck
of the _Maggie II_. Gib is sorter what the feller calls the power
behind the throne. He's too big a figger for the grade of
captain. Therefore, I move you, gentlemen, that Adelbert P.
Gibney be, and he is hereby nominated and appointed to the grade
of commodore, in full command and supervision of all of the
property of the syndicate. And I also move that Phineas Scraggs
be appointed chief navigatin' officer of this packet, to retain
his title of captain, and to be obeyed and respected as such by
every man aboard with the exception of me and Gib. The present
mate'll do the navigatin' while Scraggsy's learnin' the deep sea
stuff."

"Second the motion," said Captain Scraggs briskly. "McGuffey,
your argument does you a heap of credit. It's--it's--dog my cats,
McGuffey, it's masterly. It shows a keen appreciation of an old
skipper's feelin's, and if the move is agreeable to Gib, I'm
willin' to hail him as commodore and fight to maintain his
office. I--I dunno, Gib, what I'd do if I didn't have a mate to
order around."

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Gibney, beaming, "the motion's carried
unanimous. Captain--chief--your fins. Dook me. I'm honoured by
the handshake. Now, regarding that crew you brought down from San
Francisco on the old _Maggie_, Scraggs, they're a likely lot and
will come in handy if times is as lively in Colombia as I figger
they will be when we arrive there. Captain Scraggs, you will have
your mate pipe the crew to muster and ascertain their feelin's on
the subject of takin' a chance with Commodore Gibney. If they
object to goin' further, we'll land 'em in Panama an' pay 'em off
as agreed. If they feel like followin' the Jolly Roger we'll give
'em the coast seaman's scale for a deep-water cruise and a five
per cent. bonus in case we turn a big trick."

Captain Scraggs went at once on deck. Ten minutes later he
returned to report that the mate and the four seamen elected to
stick by the ship.

"Bully boys," said the commodore, "bully boys. I like that mate.
He's a smart man and handles a gun well. While I should hesitate
to take advantage of my prerogative as commodore to interfere
with the normal workin's of the deck department, I trust that on
this special occasion our esteemed navigatin' officer, Captain
Scraggs, will not consider it beneath his dignity or an attack on
his office if I suggest to him that he brew another kettle of
grog for the crew."

"Second the motion," replied McGuffey.

"Carried," said Scraggs, and proceeded to heat some water.

"Anything further?" stated the president.

"How about uniforms?" This from Captain Scraggs.

"We'll leave that to Gib," suggested McGuffey. "He's been in the
Colombian navy and he'll know just what to get us."

"Well, there's another thing that's got to be settled," continued
Captain Scraggs. "If I'm to be navigatin' officer on the flagship of
a furrin' fleet, strike me pink if I'll do any more cookin' in the
galley. It's degradin'. I move that we engage some enterprisin'
Oriental for that job."

"Carried," said Mr. Gibney. "Any further business?"

Once more McGuffey stood up. "Gentlemen and brothers of the
syndicate," he began, "I'm satisfied that the back-bitin', the
scrappin', the petty jealousies and general cussedness that
characterized our lives on the old _Maggie_ will not be
duplicated on the _Maggie II_. Them vicious days is gone forever,
I hope, an' from now on the motto of us three should be:

    "All for one and one for all--
      United we stand, divided we fall."

This earnest little speech, which came straight from the honest
McGuffey's heart, brought the tears to the commodore's eyes.
Under the inspiration of McGuffey's unselfish words the glasses
were refilled and all three pledged their friendship anew. As for
Captain Scraggs, he was naturally of a cold and selfish
disposition, and McGuffey's toast appealed more to his brain than
to his heart. Had he known what was to happen to him in the days
to come and what that simple little motto was to mean in his
particular case, it is doubtful if he would have tossed off his
liquor as gaily as he did.

"There's one thing more that we mustn't neglect," warned Mr. Gibney
before the meeting broke up. "We've got to run this little vessel
into some dog-hole where there's a nice beach and smooth water, and
change her name. I notice that her old name _Reina Maria_ is screwed
into her bows and across her stern in raised gilt letters, contrary
to law and custom. We'll snip 'em off, sandpaper every spot where
there's a letter, and repaint it; after which we'll rig up a stagin'
over her bows and stern, and cut her new name, '_Maggie II_,' right
into her plankin'. Nobody'll ever suspect her name's been changed. I
notice that the official letters and numbers cut into her main beam
is F-C-P-9957. I'll change that F to an E, the C to an O, and the P
to an R. A handy man with a wood chisel can do lots of things. He
can change those nines to eights, the five to a six, and the seven
to a nine. I've seen it done before. Then we'll rig a foretopmast
and a spinnaker boom on her, and bend a fisherman's staysail.
Nothing like it when you're sailing a little off the wind. Scraggs,
you have the papers of the old _Maggie_, and we all have our
licenses regular enough. Dig up the old papers, Scraggsy, and I'll
doctor 'em up to fit the _Maggie II_. As for our armament, we'll
dismount the guns and stow 'em away in the hold until we get down on
the Colombian coast, and while we're lying in Panama repairing the
holes where my shots went through her, and puttin' new planks in her
decks where the old plankin' has been scored by shrapnel, those
paraqueets will think we're as peaceful as chipmunks. Better look
over your supplies, McGuffey, and see if there's any paint aboard.
I'd just as lief give the old girl a different dress before we drop
anchor in Panama."

"Gib," said Captain Scraggs earnestly, "I'll keel-haul and
skull-drag the man that says you ain't got a great head."

"By the lord," supplemented McGuffey, "you have."

The commodore smiled and tapped his frontal bone with his
forefinger. "Imagination, my lads, imagination," he said, and
reached for the last of the punch.

Exactly three weeks from the date of the naval battle which took
place off the Coronado Islands, and whereby Mr. Gibney became
commodore and managing owner of the erstwhile Mexican coast
patrol schooner _Reina Maria_, that vessel sailed out of the
harbour of Panama completely rejuvenated. Not a scar on her
shapely lines gave evidence of the sanguinary engagement through
which she had passed.

Mr. Gibney had her painted a creamy white with a dark blue
waterline. She had had her bottom cleaned and scraped and the
copper sheathing overhauled and patched up. Her sails had been
overhauled, inspected, and repaired wherever necessary, and in
order to be on the safe side, Mr. Gibney, upon motion duly made
by him and seconded by McGuffey (to whom the seconding of the
Gibney motions had developed into a habit), purchased an extra
suit of new sails. The engines were overhauled by the faithful
McGuffey and a large store of distillate stored in the hold.
Captain Scraggs, with his old-time aversion to expense, made a
motion (which was seconded by McGuffey before he had taken time
to consider its import) providing for the abolition of the office
of chief engineer while the _Maggie II_ was under sail, at which
time the chief ex-officio was to hold himself under the orders of
the commodore and be transferred to the deck department if
necessary. Mr Gibney approved the measure and it went into
effect. Only on entering or leaving a port, or in case of chase
by an enemy, were the engines to be used, and McGuffey was warned
to be extremely saving of his distillate.




CHAPTER XXI


Mr. Gibney had made a splendid job of changing the vessel's name,
and as she chugged lazily out of Panama Bay and lifted to the
long ground-swell of the Pacific, it is doubtful if even her late
Mexican commander would have recognized her. She was indeed a
beautiful craft, and Commodore Gibney's heart swelled with pride
as he stood aft, conning the man at the wheel, and looked her
over. It seemed like a sacrilege now, when he reflected how he
had trained the gun of the old _Maggie_ on her that day off the
Coronados, and it seemed to him now even a greater sacrilege to
have brazenly planned to enter her as a privateer in the
struggles of the republic of Colombia. The past tense is used
advisedly, for that project was now entirely off, much to the
secret delight of Captain Scraggs, who, if the hero of one naval
engagement, was not anxious to take part in another. In Panama
the freebooters of the _Maggie II_ learned that during Mr.
Gibney's absence on his filibustering trip the Colombian
revolutionists had risen and struck their blow. After the fashion
of a hot-headed and impetuous people, they had entered the
contest absolutely untrained. As a result, the war had lasted
just two weeks, the leaders had been incontinently shot, and the
white-winged dove of peace had once more spread her pinions along
the borders of the Gold Coast.

Commodore Gibney was disgusted beyond measure, and at a special
meeting of the syndicate, called in the cabin of the _Maggie II_
that same evening, it was finally decided that they should embark
on an indefinite trading cruise in the South Seas, or until such
time as it seemed their services must be required to free a
downtrodden people from a tyrant's yoke.

Captain Scraggs and McGuffey had never been in the South Seas,
but they had heard that a fair margin of profit was to be wrung
from trade in copra, shell, cocoanuts, and kindred tropical
products. They so expressed themselves. To this suggestion,
however, Commodore Gibney waved a deprecating paw.

"Legitimate tradin', boys," he said, "is a nice, sane, healthy
business, but the profits is slow. What we want is quick profits,
and while it ain't set down in black and white, one of the
principal objects of this syndicate is to lead a life of wild
adventure. In tradin', there ain't no adventure to speak of. We
ought to do a little blackbirdin', or raid some of those Jap
pearl fisheries off the northern coast of Formosa."

"But we'll be chased by real gunboats if we do that," objected
Captain Scraggs. "Those Jap gunboats shoot to kill. Can't you
think of somethin' else, Gib?"

"Well," said Mr. Gibney, "for a starter, I can. Suppose we just
head straight for Kandavu Island in the Fijis, and scheme around
for a cargo of black coral? It's only worth about fifty dollars a
pound. Kandavu lays somewhere in latitude 22 south, longitude 178
west, and when I was there last it was fair reekin' with cannibal
savages. But there's tons of black coral there, and nobody's ever
been able to sneak in and get away with it. Every time a boat
used to land at Kandavu, the native niggers would have a
white-man stew down on the beach, and it's got so that skippers
give the island a wide berth."

"Gib, my _dear_ boy," chattered Captain Scraggs, "I'm a man of
peace and I--I----"

"Scraggsy, old stick-in-the-mud," said Mr. Gibney, laying an
affectionate hand on the skipper's shoulder, "you're nothin' of
the sort. You're a fightin' tarantula, and nobody knows it
better'n Adelbert P. Gibney. I've seen you in action, Scraggsy.
Remember that. It's all right for you to say you're a man of
peace and advise me and McGuffey to keep out of the track of
trouble, but we know that away down low you're goin' around
lookin' for blood, and that once you're up agin the enemy, you
never bat an eyelash. Eh, McGuffey?"

McGuffey nodded; whereupon, Captain Scraggs, making but a poor
effort to conceal the pleasure which Mr. Gibney's rude compliment
afforded him, turned to the rail, glanced seaward, and started to
walk away to attend to some trifling detail connected with the
boat falls.

"All right, Gib, my lad," he said, affecting to resign himself to
the inevitable, "have it your own way. You're a commodore and I'm
only a plain captain, but I'll follow wherever you lead. I'll go
as far as the next man and we'll glom that black coral if we have
to slaughter every man, woman, and child on the island. Only,
when we're sizzlin' in a pot don't you up and say I never warned
you, because I did. How d'ye propose intimidatin' the natives,
Gib?"

"Scraggsy," said the commodore solemnly, "we've waged a private
war agin a friendly nation, licked 'em, and helped ourselves to
their ship. We've changed her name and rig and her official
number and letters and we're sailin' under bogus papers. That
makes us pirates, and that old _Maggie_ burgee floatin' at the
fore ain't nothin' more nor less than the Jolly Roger. All right!
Let's be pirates. Who cares? When we slip into M'galao harbour
we'll invite the king and his head men aboard for dinner. We'll
get 'em drunk, clap 'em in double irons, and surrender 'em to
their weepin' subjects when they've filled the hold of the
_Maggie II_ with black coral. If they refuse to come aboard we'll
shell the bush with that long gun and the Maxim rapid-fire guns
we've got below decks. That'll scare 'em so they'll leave us
alone and we can help ourselves to the coral."

Scraggs's cold blue eyes glistened. "Lord, Gib," he murmured,
"you've got a head."

"Like playin' post-office," was McGuffey's comment.

The commodore smiled. "I thought you boys would see it that way.
Now to-morrow I'm going ashore to buy three divin' outfits and
lay in a big stock of provisions for the voyage. In the meantime,
while the carpenters are gettin' the ship into shape, we'll leave
the first mate in charge while we go ashore and have a good time.
I've seen worse places than Panama."

As a result of this conference Mr. Gibney's suggestions were
acted upon, and they contrived to make their brief stay in Panama
very agreeable. They inspected the work on the canal, marvelled
at the stupendous engineering in the Culebra Cut, drank a little,
gambled a little. McGuffey whipped a bartender. He was ordered
arrested, and six spiggoty little policemen, sent to arrest him,
were also thrashed. The reserves were called out and a riot
ensued. Mr. Gibney, following the motto of the syndicate, i.e.,

    All for one and one for all--
      United we stand, divided we fall,

mixed in the conflict and presently found himself in durance
vile. Captain Scraggs, luckily, forgot the motto and escaped, but
inasmuch as he was on hand next morning to pay a fine of thirty
pesos levied against each of the culprits, he was instantly
forgiven. Mr. Gibney vowed that if a United States cruiser didn't
happen to be lying in the roadstead, he would have shelled the
town in retaliation.

But eventually the days passed, and the _Maggie II_, well found
and ready for sea, shook out her sails to a fair breeze and
sailed away for Kandavu. She kept well to the southwest until she
struck the southeast trades, when she swung around on her course,
headed straight for her destination. It was a pleasant voyage,
devoid of incident, and the health of all hands was excellent.
Mr. Gibney took daily observations, and was particular to make
daily entries in his log when he, Scraggs, and McGuffey were not
playing cribbage, a game of which all three were passionately
fond.

On the afternoon of the twenty-ninth day after leaving Panama the
lookout reported land. Through his glasses Mr. Gibney made out a
cluster of tall palms at the southerly end of the island, and as
the schooner held lazily on her course he could discern the
white breakers foaming over the reefs that guarded the entrance
to the harbour.

"That's Kandavu, all right," announced the commodore. "I was
there in '89 with Bull McGinty in the schooner _Dashin' Wave_.
There's the entrance to the harbour, with the Esk reefs to the
north and the Pearl reefs to the south. The channel's very
narrow--not more than three cables, if it's that, but there's
plenty of water and a good muddy bottom that'll hold. McGuffey,
lad, better run below and tune up your engines. It's too
dangerous a passage on an ebb-tide for a sailin' vessel, so we'll
run in under the power. Scraggsy, stand by and when I give the
word have your crew shorten sail."

Within a few minutes a long white streak opened up in the wake of
the schooner, announcing that McGuffey's engines were doing duty,
and a nice breeze springing up two points aft the beam, the
_Maggie_ heeled over and fairly flew through the water. Mr.
Gibney smiled an ecstatic smile as he took the wheel and guided
the schooner through the channel. He rounded her up in twelve
fathoms, and within five minutes every stitch of canvas was
clewed down hard and fast. The sun was setting as they dropped
anchor, and Mr. Gibney had lanterns hung along the rail so that
it would be impossible for any craft to approach the schooner and
board her without being seen. Also the watch on deck that night
carried Mauser rifles, six-shooters, and cutlasses. Mr. Gibney
was taking no chances.




CHAPTER XXII


"Now, boys," announced Commodore Gibney, as he sat at the head of
the officers' mess at breakfast next morning, "there'll be a lot
of canoes paddling off to visit us within the hour, so whatever
you do, don't allow more than two of these cannibals aboard the
schooner at the same time. Make 'em keep their weapons in the
canoes with 'em, and at the first sign of trouble shoot 'em down
like dogs. It may be that these precautions ain't necessary, but
when I was here twenty years ago it was all the rage to kill a
white man and eat him. Maybe times has changed, but the harbour
and the coast looks just as wild and lonely as they ever did, and
I didn't see no sign of missionary when we dropped hook last
night. So don't take no chances."

All hands promised that they would take extreme care, to the end
that their precious persons might remain intact, so Mr. Gibney
finished his cup of coffee at a gulp and went on deck.

The Kandavu aborigines were not long in putting in an appearance.
Even as Mr. Gibney came on deck half a dozen canoes shot out from
the beach. Mr. Gibney immediately piped all hands on deck, armed
them, and nonchalantly awaited the approach of what might or
might not turn out to be an enemy.

When the flotilla was within pistol shot of the schooner Mr.
Gibney stepped to the rail and motioned them back. Immediately
the natives ceased paddling, and a wild-looking fellow stood up
in the forward canoe. After the manner of his kind he had all his
life soused his head in lime-water when making his savage
toilette, and as a result his shock of black hair stood on end
and bulged out like a crowded hayrick. He was naked, of course,
and in his hand he held a huge war club.

"That feller'd eat a rattlesnake," gasped Captain Scraggs. "Shoot
him, Gib, if he bats an eye."

"Shut up," said the commodore, a trifle testily; "that's the
number-one nigger, who does the talkin'. Hello, boy."

"Hello, cap'n," replied the savage, and salaamed gravely. "You
likee buy chicken, buy pig? Maybe you say come 'board, I talk. Me
very good friend white master."

"Bless my sweet-scented soul!" gasped the commodore. "What won't
them missionaries do next? Cut off my ears if this nigger ain't
civilized!" He beckoned to the canoe and it shot alongside, and
its brown crew came climbing over the rail of the _Maggie II_.

Mr. Gibney met the spokesman at the rail and they rubbed noses
very solemnly, after the manner of salutation in Kandavu. Captain
Scraggs bustled forward, full of importance.

"Interduce me, Gib," he said amiably, and then, while Mr. Gibney
favoured him with a sour glance, Captain Scraggs stuck out his
hand and shook briskly with the native.

"Happy to make your acquaintance," he said. "Scraggs is my name,
sir. Shake hands with McGuffey, our chief engineer. Hope you
left all the folks at home well. What'd you say your name was?"

The islander hadn't said his name was anything, but he grinned
now and replied that it was Tabu-Tabu.

"Well, my bucko," muttered McGuffey, who always drew the colour
line, "I'm glad to hear that. But you ain't the only thing that's
taboo around this packet. You can jest check that war club with
the first mate, pendin' our better acquaintance. Hand it over,
you black beggar, or I'll hit you a swat in the ear that'll hurt
all your relations. And hereafter, Scraggsy, just keep your
nigger friends to yourself. I ain't waxin' effusive over this
savage, and it's agin my principles ever to shake hands with a
coloured man. This chap's a damned ugly customer, and you take my
word for it."

Tabu-Tabu grinned again, walked to the rail, and tossed his war
club down into the canoe.

"Me good missionary boy," he said rather humbly.

"McGuffey, my _dear_ boy," protested Captain Scraggs, "don't be
so doggone rude. You might hurt this poor lad's feelin's. Of
course he's only a simple native nigger, but even a dawg has
feelin's. You----"

"A-r-r-rh!" snarled McGuffey.

"You two belay talkin' and snappin' at each other," commanded Mr.
Gibney, "an' leave all bargainin' to me. This boy is all right
and we'll get along first rate if you two just haul ship and do
somethin' useful besides buttin' in on your superior officer.
Come along, Tabu-Tabu. Makee little eat down in cabin. You talkee
captain."

"Gib, my _dear_ boy," sputtered Captain Scraggs, bursting with
curiosity, following the commodore's reappearance on deck,
"whatever's in the wind?"

"Money--fortune," said Mr. Gibney solemnly.

McGuffey edged up and eyed the commodore seriously. "Sure there
ain't a little fightin' mixed up in it?" he asked.

"Not a bit of it," replied Mr. Gibney. "You're as safe on Kandavu
as if you was in church. This Tabu kid is sort of prime minister
to the king, with a heap of influence at court. The crew of a
British cruiser stole him for a galley police when he was a kid,
and he got civilized and learned to talk English. He was a
cannibal in them days, but the chaplain aboard showed him how
foolish it was to do such things, and finally Tabu-Tabu got
religion and asked as a special favour to be allowed to return to
Kandavu to civilize his people. As a result of Tabu-Tabu's
efforts, he tells me the king has concluded that when he eats a
white man he's flyin' in the face of his own interests, and most
generally a gunboat comes along in a few months and shells the
bush, and--well, anyhow, there ain't been a barbecue on Kandavu
for ten years. It's a capital crime to eat a man now, and
punishable by boilin' the offender alive in palm oil."

"Well," rumbled McGuffey, "this Tabu-Tabu don't look much like a
preacher, if you ask me. But how about this black coral?"

"Oh, I've ribbed up a deal with him," said Mr. Gibney. "He'll see
that we get all the trade we can lug away. We're the first vessel
that's touched here in two years, and they have a thunderin' lot
of stuff on hand. Tabu's gone ashore to talk the king into doin'
business with us. If he consents, we'll have him and Tabu-Tabu
and three or four of the sub-chiefs aboard for dinner, or else
he'll invite us ashore for a big feed, and we'll have to go."

"Supposin' this king don't care to have any truck with us?"
inquired McGuffey anxiously.

"In that case, Mac," replied the commodore with a smile, "we'll
just naturally shell him out of house and home."

"Well, then," said McGuffey, "let's get the guns ready. Somethin'
tells me these people ain't to be trusted, and I'm tellin' you
right now, Gib, I won't sleep well to-night unless them two
quarter gatlings and the Maxim-Vickers rapid-fire guns is mounted
and ready for business."

"All right, Mac," replied Mr. Gibney, in the tone one uses when
humouring a baby. "Set 'em up if it'll make you feel more
cheerful. Still, I don't see why you want to go actin' so foolish
over nothin'."

"Well, Gib," replied the engineer, "I may be crazy, but I ain't
no fool, and if there's a dead whale around the ship, I can come
pretty near smellin' it. I tell you, Gib, that Tabu-Tabu nigger
had a look in his eye for all the world like a cur dog lickin' a
bone. I ain't takin' no chances. My old man used to say: 'Bart,
whatever you do, allers have an anchor out to windward.'"

"By the left hind leg of the Great Sacred Bull," snapped Captain
Scraggs, "if you ain't enough to precipitate war."

"War," replied McGuffey, "is my long suit--particularly war with
native niggers. I just naturally crave to punch the ear of
anything darker than a Portugee. Remember how I cleaned out the
police department of Panama?"

"Mount the guns if you're goin' to, Mac. If not, for the love of
the Lord don't be demoralizin' the crew with this talk of war.
All I ask is that you set the guns up after I've finished my
business here with Tabu-Tabu. He's been on a war vessel, and
knows what guns are, and if he saw you mountin' them it might
break up our friendly relations. He'll think we don't trust him."

"Well, we don't," replied McGuffey doggedly.

"Well, we do," snapped Captain Scraggs.

There is always something connected with the use of that pronoun
of kings which eats like a canker at the heart of men of the
McGuffey breed. That officer now spat on the deck, in defiance of
the rules of his superior officers, and glared at Captain
Scraggs.

"Speak for yourself, you miserable little wart," he roared. "If
you include me on that cannibal's visitin' list, and go to
contradictin' me agin, I'll----"

"Mac," interrupted Mr. Gibney angrily, "control yourself. It's
agin the rules to have rag-chewin' and backbitin' on the _Maggie
II_. Remember our motto: 'All for one and one for all'----"

"Here comes that sneakin' bushy-headed murderer back to the
vessel," interrupted McGuffey. "I wonder what devilment he's up
to now."

Mr. McGuffey was partly right, for in a few minutes Tabu-Tabu
came alongside, climbed aboard, and salaamed. Mr. Gibney, fearful
of McGuffey's inability to control his antipathy for the race,
beckoned Captain Scraggs and Tabu-Tabu to follow him down into
the cabin. Meanwhile, McGuffey contented himself by parading
backward and forward across the fo'castle head with a Mauser
rifle in the hollow of his arm and his person fairly bristling
with pistols and cutlasses. Whenever one of the flotilla of
canoes hove to at a respectful distance, showed signs of crossing
an imaginary deadline drawn by McGuffey, he would point his rifle
at them and swear horribly. He scowled at Tabu-Tabu when that
individual finally emerged from the conference with Mr. Gibney
and Scraggs and went over the side to his waiting canoe.

"Well, what's in the wind this time?" inquired McGuffey.

"We're invited to a big feed with the king of Kandavu," replied
Captain Scraggs, as happy as a boy. "Hop into a clean suit of
ducks, Mac, and come along. Gib's goin' to broach a little keg of
liquor and we'll make a night of it."

"Good lord," groaned McGuffey, "does the man think I'm low enough
to _eat_ with niggers?"

"Leave him to his own devices," said Mr. Gibney indulgently.
"Mac's just as Irish as if he'd been born in Dublin instead of
his old man. Nobody yet overcome the prejudice of an Irishman so
we'll do the honours ourself, Scraggsy, old skittles, and leave
Mac in charge of the ship."

"Mind you're both back at a seasonable hour," warned McGuffey.
"If you ain't, I'll suspect mischief and--say! Gib! Well, what's
the use talkin' to a man with an imagination? Only if I have to
go ashore after you two, those islanders'll date time from my
visit, and don't you forget it."

It was nearing four o'clock that afternoon when Commodore Gibney
and his navigating officer, Captain Scraggs, both faultlessly
arrayed in Panama hats, white ducks, white canvas shoes, cut low,
showing pink silk socks, and wearing broad, black silken sashes
around their waists, climbed over the side into the whaleboat and
were rowed ashore in a manner befitting their rank. McGuffey
stood at the rail and jeered them, for his democratic soul could
take no cognizance of form or ceremony to a cannibal king, or at
least a king but recently delivered from cannibalism.




CHAPTER XXIII


Upon arrival at the beach the two adventurers were met by a
contingent of frightful-looking savages bearing long spears. As
the procession formed around the two guests of honour and plunged
into the bush, bound for the king's wari, two island maidens
marched behind the two sea-dogs, waving huge palm-leaf fans, the
better to make passage a cool and comfortable one.

"By the gods of war, Gib, my _dear_ boy," said the delighted
Captain Scraggs, "but this is class, eh, Gib?"

"Every time," responded the commodore. "If that chuckle-headed
McGuffey only had the sense to come along he might be enjoyin'
himself, too. You must be dignified, Scraggsy, old salamander.
Remember that you're bigger an' better'n any king, because you're
an American citizen. Be dignified, by all means. These people are
sensitive and peculiar, and that's why we haven't taken any
weapons with us. If they thought we doubted their hospitality
they'd have the court bouncer heave us out of town before you
could say Jack Robinson."

"I'd love to see them giving the bounce to McGuffey," said
Captain Scraggs musingly. Mr. Gibney had a swift mental picture
of such a proceeding and chuckled happily. Had he been permitted
a glance at McGuffey at that moment he might have observed that
worthy sweltering in the heat of the forward hold of the _Maggie
II_, for he was busy getting his guns on deck. From which it will
readily be deduced that B. McGuffey, Esquire, was following the
advice of his paternal ancestor and getting an anchor out to
windward.

One might go on at great length and describe the triumphal entry
of Commodore Gibney and Captain Scraggs into the capitol of
Kandavu; of how the king, an undersized, shrivelled old savage,
stuck his bushy head out the window of his bungalow when he saw
the procession coming; of how a minute later he advanced into the
space in the centre of his wari, where in the olden days the
populace was wont to gather for its cannibal orgies; how he
greeted his distinguished visitors with the most prodigious
rubbing of noses seen in those parts for many a day; of the feast
that followed; of the fowls and pigs that garnished the festive
board, not omitting the keg of Three Star thoughtfully provided
by Mr. Gibney.

Tabu-Tabu acted as interpreter and everything went swimmingly
until Tabu-Tabu, his hospitality doubtless strengthened by
frequent libations of the Elixir of Life, begged Mr. Gibney to
invite the remainder of his crew ashore for the feast. Mr.
Gibney, himself rather illuminated by this time, thought it might
not be a bad idea.

"It's a rotten shame, Scraggsy," he said, "to think of that fool
McGuffey not bein' here to enjoy himself. I'm goin' to send a
note out to him by one of Tabu-Tabu's boys, askin' him once more
to come ashore, or to let the first mate and one or two of the
seamen come if Mac still refuses to be civil."

"Good idea, Gib," said Captain Scraggs, his mouth full of roast
chicken and yams. So Mr. Gibney tore a leaf out of his pocket
memorandum book, scrawled a note to McGuffey, and handed it to
Tabu-Tabu, who at once dispatched a messenger with it to the
_Maggie II_.

Within half an hour the messenger returned. He was wildly excited
and poured a torrent of native gibberish into the attentive ears
of Tabu-Tabu and the king. He pointed several times to the point
of his jaw, rubbed the small of his back, and once he touched his
nose; whereupon Mr. Gibney was aware that the said organ had a
slight list to port, and he so informed Captain Scraggs. Neither
of the gentlemen had the slightest trouble in arriving at the
correct solution of the mystery. The royal messenger had been
incontinently kicked overboard by B. McGuffey, Esquire.

Tabu-Tabu's wild eyes glittered and grew wilder and wilder as the
messenger reported the indignity thus heaped upon him. The king
scowled at Captain Scraggs, and Mr. Gibney was suddenly aware
that goose-flesh was breaking out on the backs of his sturdy
legs. He had a haunting sensation that not only had he crawled
into a hole, but he had pulled the entire aperture in after him.
For the first time he began to fear that he had been too
precipitate, and with the thought it occurred to the gallant
commodore that he would be much safer back on the decks of the
_Maggie II_. Always crafty and imaginative, however, Mr. Gibney
came quickly to the front with an excuse for getting back to the
ship. He stepped quickly toward the little group around the
outraged royal ambassador and inquired the cause of the
disturbance. Quivering with rage, Tabu-Tabu informed him of what
had occurred.

Mr. Gibney's rage, of course, knew no bounds. Nevertheless, he
did not have to simulate his rage, for he was truly furious. When
he could control his emotions, he requested Tabu-Tabu to inform
the king that he, Gibney, accompanied by Captain Scraggs, would
forthwith repair to the schooner and then and there flay the
offending McGuffey within an inch of his life. Suiting the action
to the word, Mr. Gibney called to Captain Scraggs to follow him,
and started for the beach.

As Captain Scraggs arose, a trifle unsteadily, from his seat, a
black hand reached around him from the rear and closed over his
mouth. Now, Captain Scraggs was well versed in the rough-and-tumble
tactics of the San Francisco waterfront; hence, when he felt a long
pair of arms crossing over his neck from the rear, he merely stooped
and whirled his opponent over his head. In that instant his mouth
was free, and clear above the shouting and the tumult rose his
frenzied shriek for help. Mr. Gibney whirled with the speed and
agility of a panther just in time to dodge a blow from a war club.
His fist collided with the jaw of Tabu-Tabu, and down went that
savage as if pole-axed.

[Illustration: "_Captain Scraggs ... broke from the circle of
savages ... and fled for the beach_"]

Pandemonium broke loose at once. Captain Scraggs, after his
single shriek for help, broke from the circle of savages and fled
like a frightened rabbit for the beach. One of the natives hurled
a rock at him. The missile took Scraggs in the back of the head,
and he instantly curled up in a heap.

"Scraggsy's dead," thought the horrified Gibney, and sprang at
the king. In that moment it came to Mr. Gibney to sell out
dearly, and if he could dispose of the king, he felt that
Scraggs's death would be avenged. In an instant the commodore's
great arms had closed around the king, and with the helpless
monarch in his grizzly bear grip Mr. Gibney backed up against the
nearest bungalow. A fringe of spears threatened him in front, but
for the moment he was safe behind, and the king's body protected
him. Whenever one of the savages made a jab at Mr. Gibney, Mr.
Gibney gave the king a boa-constrictor squeeze, and the monarch
howled.

"I'll squeeze him to death," panted Mr. Gibney to Tabu-Tabu when
that individual had managed to pick himself up. "Let me go, or
I'll kill your king."

The answer was an earthenware pot which crashed down on Mr.
Gibney's head from a window in the bungalow behind him. He sagged
forward and fell on his face with the gasping king in his arms.




CHAPTER XXIV


On board the _Maggie II_ B. McGuffey, Esquire, had just gotten
into position the Maxim-Vickers "pom-pom" gun on top of the
house. The last bolt that held it in place had just been screwed
tight when clear and shrill over the tops of the jungle and
across the still surface of the little bay there floated to
McGuffey's ears the single word:

"Help!"

McGuffey leaned against the gun, and for the moment he was as
weak as a child. "Gawd," he muttered, "that was Scraggsy and
they're a-goin' to eat him up. Oh, Gib, Gib, old man, why
wouldn't you listen to me? Now they've got you, and what in
blazes I'm going to do to get you back, dead or alive, I dunno."

McGuffey could hear the cries and general uproar from the wari,
though he could not see what was taking place. In a minute or
two, however, all was once more silent, silence having descended
on the scene simultaneously with the descent of the earthenware
pot on Mr. Gibney's head.

"It's all over," said McGuffey sadly to the mate. "They've killed
'em both." Whereupon B. McGuffey, Esquire, sat down on the cabin
ventilator, pulled out a bandana handkerchief and wept into it,
for his honest Irish heart was breaking.

It was fully half an hour before poor McGuffey could pull
himself together, and when he did, his grief was superseded by a
fit of rage that was terrible to behold.

"Step lively, you blasted scum of the seas," he bawled to the
mate, and the crew gathered around the gun. "Lug up a case of
ammunition and we'll shell that bush until even a parrot won't be
left alive in it."

"Aye, aye, sir," responded the crew to a man, and sprang to their
task.

"I'm an old navy gunner," said the first mate quietly. "I'll
handle the gun. With a 'pom-pom' gun it's just like playing a
garden hose on them, only it's high-explosive shell instead of
water. I can search out every nook and cranny in the coast of
this island. Those guns are sighted up to 4,000 yards."

"Kill 'em all," raved McGuffey, "kill all the blasted niggers."

When Mr. Gibney fell under the impact of the earthenware pot he
was only partially stunned. As he tried to struggle to his feet
half a dozen hands were laid on him and in a trice he was lifted
and carried back of the wari to a clear space where a dozen heavy
teakwood posts stood in a row about four feet apart. Mr. Gibney
was quickly stripped of his clothing and bound hand and foot to
one of these posts. Three minutes later another delegation of
cannibals arrived, bearing the limp, naked body of Captain
Scraggs, whom they bound in similar fashion to the post beside
Mr. Gibney. Scraggs was very white and bloody, but conscious, and
his pale-blue eyes were flickering like a snake's.

"What's--what's--the meanin' of this, Gib?" he gasped.

"It means," replied the commodore, "that it's all off but the
shouting with me and you, Scraggsy. This fellow Tabu-Tabu is a
damned traitor, and his people are still cannibals. He's the
decoy to get white men ashore. They schemed to treat us nice and
be friendly until they could get the whole crew ashore, or enough
of them to leave the ship helpless, and then--O Gawd, Scraggsy,
old man, can you ever forgive me for gettin' you into this?"

Captain Scraggs hung his head and quivered like a hooked fish.

"Will they--eat--us?" he quavered, finally.

Mr. Gibney did not answer, only Captain Scraggs looked into his
horrified eyes and read the verdict.

"Die game, Scraggsy," was all Mr. Gibney could say. "Don't show
the white feather."

"D'ye think McGuffey could hear us from here if we was to yell
for help?" inquired Captain Scraggs hopefully.

"Don't yelp, for Gawd's sake," implored Mr. Gibney. "We got
ourselves into this, so let's pay the fiddler ourselves. If we
let out one yip and McGuffey hears it, he'll come ashore with his
crew and tackle this outfit, even if he knows he'll get killed.
And that's just what will happen to him if he comes. Let poor Mac
stay aboard. When we don't come back, he'll know it's all off,
and if he has time to think over it he'll realize it would be
foolish to try to do anything. But right now Mac's mad as a wet
hen, and if we holler for help--Scraggsy, please don't holler.
Die game."

Captain Scraggs turned his terrified glance on Mr. Gibney's
tortured face. Scraggs was certainly a coward at heart, but
there was something in Mr. Gibney's unselfishness that touched a
spot in his hard nature--a something he never knew he possessed.
He bowed his head and two big tears stole down his weatherbeaten
face.

"God bless you, Gib, my _dear_ boy," he said brokenly. "You're a
man."

At this juncture the king came up and thoughtfully felt of Captain
Scraggs in the short ribs, while Tabu-Tabu calculated the precise
amount of luscious tissue on Mr. Gibney's well-upholstered frame.

"Bimeby we eat white man," said Tabu-Tabu cheerfully.

"If you eat me, you bloody-handed beggar," snapped Captain
Scraggs, "I'll pizen you. I've chawed tobacco all my life, and my
meat's as bitter as wormwood."

It was too funny to hear Scraggs jesting with death. Mr. Gibney
forgot his own mental agony and roared with laughter in
Tabu-Tabu's face. The cannibal stood off a few feet and looked
searchingly in the commodore's eyes. He was not used to the brand
of white man who could laugh under such circumstances, and he
suspected treachery of some kind. He hurried over to join the
king and the two held a hurried conversation. As a result of
their conference, a huge savage was called over and given some
instructions. Tabu-Tabu handed him a war club and Mr. Gibney,
rightly conjecturing that this was the official executioner,
bowed his head and waited for the blow.

It came sooner than he expected. The earth seemed to rise up and
smite Adelbert P. Gibney across the face. There was a roar, as of
an explosion in his ears, and he fell forward on his face. He
had a confused notion that when he fell the post came with him.

For nearly a minute he lay there, semi-conscious, and then
something warm, dripping across his face, roused him. He moved,
and found that his feet were free, though his hands were still
bound to the post, which lay extended along his back. He rolled
over and glanced up. Captain Scraggs was shrieking. By degrees
the bells quit ringing in the commodore's ears, and this is what
he heard Captain Scraggs yelling:

"Oh, you McGuffey. Oh, you bully Irish terrier. Soak it to 'em,
Mac. Kill the beggars. You've got a dozen of 'em already. Plug
away, you good old hunk of Irish bacon."

Mr. Gibney was now himself once more. He struggled to his feet,
and as he did, something burst ten feet away and a little fleecy
cloud of smoke obscured his vision for a moment. Then he
understood. McGuffey had a rapid-fire gun trained on the wari,
and the savages, with frightful yells, were fleeing madly from
the little shells. Half a dozen of them lay dead and wounded
close by.

"Hooray," yelled Mr. Gibney, and dashed at the post which held
Captain Scraggs prisoner. He struck it a powerful blow with his
shoulder and Scraggs and the post crashed to the ground. In an
instant Mr. Gibney was on his knees, tearing at Scraggs's rope
shackles with his teeth. Five minutes later, Captain Scraggs's
hands were free. Then Scraggs did a like service for Gibney.

All the time the shells from the _Maggie II_ were bursting around
them every second or two, and it seemed as if they must be
killed before they could make their escape.

"Beat it, Scraggsy," yelled Mr. Gibney. He stood and picked up a
war club. "Arm yourself, Scraggsy. Take a spear. We may have a
little fighting to do on the beach," he yelled. Captain Scraggs
helped himself to a loose spear, and side by side they raced
through the jungle for the beach.

As they tore along through the jungle path Mr. Gibney's good
right eye (his left was obscured) detected two savages crouching
behind a clump of cocoa-palms.

"There's the king and Tabu-Tabu," yelled Scraggs. "Let's round
the beggars up."

"Sure," responded the commodore. "We'll need 'em for hostages if
we're to get that black coral. We'll turn 'em over to McGuffey."

       *       *       *       *       *

"I'd better ease up a minute, sir," said the mate to Mr.
McGuffey. "The gun's getting fearful hot."

"Let her melt," raved McGuffey, "but keep her workin' for all
she's worth. I'll have revenge for Gib's death, or--_sufferin'
mackerel!_"

McGuffey once more sat down on the cabin ventilator. He pointed
dumbly to the beach, and there, paddling off to the _Maggie II_,
were two naked cannibals and two naked white men in a canoe. Five
minutes later they came alongside. McGuffey met them at the rail,
and he smiled and licked his lower lip as the trembling monarch
and his prime minister, in response to a severe application of
Mr. Gibney's hands and feet, came flying over the rail. Mr.
Gibney and Captain Scraggs followed.

"I'm much obliged to you, Mac," said Mr. Gibney, striving bravely
to appear jaunty. "One of your first shots came between my legs
and cut the rope that held me, and banged me and the post I was
tied to all over the lot. A fragment of the shell appears to have
taken away part of my ear, but I guess I'll recover. We're pretty
well shook up, Mac, old socks, and a jolt of whisky would be in
order after you've put the irons on these two cannibals."

"You're two nice bloody-lookin' villains, ain't you?" was
McGuffey's comment, as he surveyed the late arrivals.

"Which two do you mean?" inquired Mr. Gibney, with a touch of
asperity in his tones.

"I dunno," replied McGuffey. "It's pretty hard to distinguish
between niggers and folks that goes to work an' eats with 'em."

"Mac," said Captain Scraggs severely, "you're prejudiced."




CHAPTER XXV


At 6:30 o'clock of the morning of the day following the frightful
experience of Commodore Gibney and Captain Scraggs with the
cannibals of Kandavu, the members of the _Maggie II_ Syndicate
faced each other across the breakfast table with appetites in no
wise diminished by the exciting events of the preceding day.
Captain Scraggs appeared with a lump on the back of his head as
big as a goose egg. The doughty commodore had a cut over his
right eye, and the top of his sinful head was so sore, where the
earthenware pot had struck him, that even the simple operation of
winking his bloodshot eyes was productive of pain. About a
teaspoonful of Kandavu real estate had also been blown into Mr.
Gibney's classic features when the shells from the Maxim-Vickers
gun exploded in his immediate neighbourhood, and as he naively
remarked to Bartholomew McGuffey, he was in luck to be alive.

McGuffey surveyed his superior officers, cursed them bitterly,
and remarked, with tears of joy in his honest eyes, that both
gentlemen had evaded their just deserts when they escaped with
their lives. "If it hadn't been for the mate," said McGuffey
severely, "I'd 'a' let you two boobies suffer the penalty for
your foolishness. Any man that goes to work and fraternizes with
a cannibal ain't got no kick comin' if he's made up into chicken
curry with rice. The minute I hear old Scraggsy yippin' for help,
says I to myself, 'let the beggars fight their own way out of the
mess.' But the mate comes a-runnin' up and says he's pretty sure
he can come near plantin' a mess of shells in the centre of the
disturbance, even if we can't see the wari on account of the
jungle. 'It's all off with the commodore and the skipper anyhow,'
says the mate, 'so we might just as well have vengeance on their
murderers.' So, of course, when he put it that way I give my
consent----"

At this juncture the mate, passing around McGuffey on his way to
the deck, winked solemnly at Mr. Gibney, who hung his war-worn
head in simulated shame. When the mate had left the cabin the
commodore pounded with his fork on the cabin table and announced
a special meeting of the _Maggie II_ Syndicate.

"The first business before the meeting," said Mr. Gibney, "is to
readjust the ownership in the syndicate. Me and Scraggsy's had
our heads together, Mac, and we've agreed that you've shot your
way into a full one-third interest, instead of a quarter as
heretofore. From now on, Mac, you're an equal owner with me and
Scraggsy, and now that that matter's settled, you can quit
rippin' it into us on the race question and suggest what's to be
done in the case of Tabu-Tabu and this cannibal king that almost
lures me and the navigatin' officer to our destruction."

"I have the villains in double irons and chained to the mainmast,"
replied McGuffey, "and as a testimonial of my gratitude for the
increased interest in the syndicate which you and Scraggs has just
voted me, I will scheme up a fittin' form of vengeance on them two
tar babies. However, only an extraordinary sentence can fit such an
extraordinary crime, so I must have time to think it over. These two
bucks is mine to do what I please with and I'll take any
interference as unneighbourly and unworthy of a shipmate."

"Take 'em," said Captain Scraggs vehemently. "For my part I only
ask one thing. If you can see your way clear, Mac, to give me the
king's scalp for a tobacco pouch, I'll be obliged."

"And I," added the commodore, "would like Tabu-Tabu's shin bone
for a clarionet. Pendin' McGuffey's reflections on the hamperin'
of crime in Kandavu, however, we'll turn our attention to the
prime object of the expedition. We've had our little fun and it's
high time we got down to business. It will be low tide at nine
o'clock, so I suggest, Scraggs, that you order the mate and two
seamen out in the big whaleboat, together with the divin'
apparatus, and we'll go after pearl oysters and black coral. As
for you, Mac, suppose you take the other boat and Tabu-Tabu and
the king, and help the mate. Take a rifle along with you, and
make them captives dive for pearl oysters until they're black in
the face----"

"Huh!" muttered the single-minded McGuffey. "What are they now?
Sky blue?"

"Of course," continued the commodore, "if a tiger shark happens
along and picks the niggers up, it ain't none of our business. As
for me and Scraggsy, we'll sit on deck and smoke. My head aches
and I guess Scraggsy's in a similar fix."

"Anythin' to be agreeable," acquiesced McGuffey.

After breakfast Commodore Gibney ordered that the prisoners be
brought before him. The cook served them with breakfast, and as
they ate, the commodore reminded them that it was only through
his personal efforts and his natural disinclination to return
blow for blow that they were at that moment enjoying a square
meal instead of swinging in the rigging.

"I'm goin' to give you two yeggs a chance to reform," concluded
Mr. Gibney, addressing Tabu-Tabu. "If you show us where we can
get a cargo of black coral and work hard and faithful helpin' us
to get it aboard, it may help you to comb a few gray hairs. I'm
goin' to take the irons off now, but remember! At the first sign
of the double-cross you're both shark meat."

On behalf of himself and the king, Tabu-Tabu promised to behave,
and McGuffey kicked them both into the small boat. The mate and
two seamen followed in another boat, in which the air-pump and
diving apparatus was carried, and Tabu-Tabu piloted them to a
patch of still water just inside the reef. The water was so clear
that McGuffey was enabled to make out vast marine gardens thickly
sprinkled with the precious black coral.

"Over you go, you two smokes," rasped McGuffey, menacing the
captives with his rifle. "Dive deep, my hearties, and bring up
what you can find, and if a shark comes along and takes a nip out
of your hind leg, don't expect no help from B. McGuffey,
Esquire--because you won't get any."

Thus encouraged, the two cannibals dove overboard. McGuffey could
see them pawing around on the bottom of the little bay, and after
half a minute each came up with a magnificent spray of coral.
They hung to the side of the boat until they could get their
breath, then repeated the performance. In the meantime, the mate
had sent his two divers below to loosen the coral; with the
result that when both boats returned to the _Maggie II_ at noon
Captain Scraggs fairly gurgled with delight at the results of the
morning's work, and Mr. Gibney declared that his headache was
gone. He and Captain Scraggs had spent the morning seated on deck
under an awning, watching the beach for signs of a sortie on the
part of the natives of Kandavu to recapture their king.
Apparently, however, the destructive fire from the pom-pom gun
the night before had so terrified them that the entire population
had emigrated to the northern end of the island, leaving the
invaders in undisputed possession of the bay and its hidden
treasures of coral and pearl and shell.

For nearly two weeks the _Maggie II_ lay at anchor, while her
crew laboured daily in the gardens of the deep. Vast quantities
of pearl oysters were brought to the surface, and these Mr.
Gibney stewed personally in a great iron pot on the beach. The
shell was stored away in the hold and the pearls went into a
chamois pouch which never for an instant was out of the
commodore's possession. The coast at that point being now
deserted, frequent visits ashore were made, and the crew feasted
on young pig, chicken, yams, and other delicacies. Captain
Scraggs was almost delirious with joy. He announced that he had
not been so happy since Mrs. Scraggs "slipped her cable."

At the end of two weeks Mr. Gibney decided that there was "loot"
enough ashore to complete the schooner's cargo, and at a meeting
of the syndicate held one lovely moonlight night on deck he
announced his plans to Captain Scraggs and McGuffey.

"Better leave the island alone," counselled McGuffey. "Them
niggers may be a-layin' there ten thousand strong, waitin' for a
boat's crew to come prowlin' up into the bush so they can nab
'em."

"I've thought of that, Mac," said the commodore a trifle coldly,
"and if I made a sucker of myself once it don't stand to reason
that I'm apt to do it again. Remember, Mac, a burnt child dreads
the fire. To-morrow morning, right after breakfast, we'll turn
the guns loose and pepper the bush for a mile or two in every
direction. If there's a native within range he'll have business
in the next county and we won't be disturbed none."

Mr. Gibney's programme was duly put through and capital of
Kandavu looted of the trade accumulations of the years. And when
the hatches were finally battened down, the tanks refilled with
fresh water, and everything in readiness to leave Kandavu for the
run to Honolulu, Mr. Gibney announced to the syndicate that the
profits of the expedition would figure close up to a hundred
thousand dollars. Captain Scraggs gasped and fell limply against
the mainmast.

"Gib, my _dear_ boy," he sputtered, "are you sure it ain't all a
dream and that we'll wake up some day and find that we're still
in the green-pea trade; that all these months we've been asleep
under a cabbage leaf, communin' with potato bugs?"

"Not for a minute," replied the commodore. "Why, I got a dozen
matched pearls here that's fit for a queen. Big, red, pear-shaped
boys--regular bleedin' hearts. There's ten thousand each in them
alone."

"Well, I'll--I'll brew some grog," gasped Captain Scraggs, and
departed forthwith to the galley. Fifteen minutes later he
returned with a kettle of his favourite nepenthe and all three
adventurers drank to a bon voyage home. At the conclusion of the
toast Mr. McGuffey set down his glass, wiped his mouth with the
back of his hairy hand, and thus addressed the syndicate.

"In leavin' this paradise of the South Pacific," he began, "we
find that we have accumulated other wealth besides the loot below
decks. I refer to His Royal Highness, the king of Kandavu, and
his prime minister, Tabu-Tabu. When these two outlaws was first
captured, I informed the syndicate that I would scheme out a
punishment befittin' their crime, to-wit--murderin' an' eatin'
you two boys. It's been a big job and it's taken some time, me
not bein' blessed with quite as fine an imagination as our
friend, Gib. However, I pride myself that hard work always brings
success, and I am ready to announce what disposition shall be
made of these two interestin' specimens of aboriginal life. I beg
to announce, gentlemen, that I have invented a punishment fittin'
the crime."

"Impossible," said Captain Scraggs.

"Shut up, Scraggs," struck in Commodore Gibney. "Out with it,
Mac. What's the programme?"

"I move you, members of the syndicate, that the schooner _Maggie
II_ proceed to some barren, uninhabited island, and that upon
arrival there this savage king and his still more savage subject
be taken ashore in a small boat. I also move you, gentlemen of
the syndicate, that inasmuch as the two aggrieved parties, A.P.
Gibney and P. Scraggs, having in a sperrit of mercy refrained
from layin' their hands on said prisoners for fear of invalidin'
them at a time when their services was of importance to the
expedition, be given an opportunity to take out their grudge on
the persons of said savages. Now, I notice that the king is a
miserable, skimpy, sawed-off, and hammered-down old cove. By all
the rules of the prize ring he's in Scraggsy's class." (Here Mr.
McGuffey flashed a lightning wink to the commodore. It was an
appeal for Mr. Gibney's moral support in the engineer's scheme to
put up a job on Captain Scraggs, and thus relieve the tedium of
the homeward trip. Mr. Gibney instantly telegraphed his
approbation, and McGuffey continued.) "I notice also that if I
was to hunt the universe over, I couldn't find a better match for
Gib than Tabu-Tabu. And as we are all agreed that the white race
is superior to any race on earth, and it'll do us all good to see
a fine mill before we leave the country, I move you, gentlemen of
the syndicate, that we pull off a finish fight between Scraggsy
and the king, and Gib and Tabu-Tabu. I'll referee both contests
and at the conclusion of the mixup we'll leave these two
murderers marooned on the island and then----"

"Rats," snapped Captain Scraggs. "That ain't no business at all.
You shouldn't consider nothin' short of capital punishment. Why,
that's only a petty larceny form of----"

"Quit buttin' in on my prerogatives," roared McGuffey. "That
ain't the finish by no means."

"What is the finish, then?"

"Why, these two cannibals, bein' left alone on the desert island,
naturally bumps up agin the old question of the survival of the
fittest. They get scrappin' among themselves, and one eats the
other up."

"By the toe-nails of Moses," muttered Mr. Gibney in genuine
admiration, "but you _have_ got an imagination after all, Mac.
The point is well taken and the programme will go through as
outlined. Scraggs, you'll fight the king. No buckin' and
grumblin'. You'll fight the king. You're outvoted two to one, the
thing's been done regular, and you can't kick. I'll fight
Tabu-Tabu, so you see you're not gettin' any the worst of it.
We'll proceed to an island in the Friendly Group called
Tuvana-tholo. It lies right in our homeward course, and there
ain't enough grub on the confounded island to last two men a
week. And I know there ain't no water there. So, now that that
matter is all settled, we will proceed to heave the anchor and
scoot for home. Mac, tune up your engines and we'll get out of
here a-whoopin' and a-flyin'."

Ten minutes later the anchor was hanging at the hawsepipe, and
under her power the _Maggie II_ swung slowly in the lagoon,
pointed her sharp bow for the opening in the reef, and bounded
away for the open sea. Captain Scraggs jammed on all of her lower
sails and within two hours the island of Kandavu had faded
forever from their vision.

It was an eight-hundred-mile run up to Tuvana-tholo, but the
weather held good and the trade-winds never slackened. Ten days
from the date of leaving Kandavu they hove to off the island. It
was a long, low, sandy atoll, with a few cocoanut-palms growing
in the centre of it, and with the exception of a vast colony of
seabirds that apparently made it their headquarters, the island
was devoid of life.

The bloodthirsty McGuffey stood at the break of the poop, and as
he gazed shoreward he chuckled and rubbed his hands together.

"Great, great," he murmured. "I couldn't have gotten a better
island if I'd had one built to order." He called aft to the
navigating officer: "Scraggsy, there's the ring. Nothin' else to
do now but get the contestants into it. Along in the late
afternoon, when the heat of the day is over, we'll go ashore and
pull off the fight. And, by George, Scraggs, if that old king
succeeds in lambastin' you, I'll set the rascal free."

"I'll lick him with one hand tied and the other paralyzed,"
retorted Captain Scraggs with fine nonchalance. "No need o'
waitin' on my account. Heat or no heat, I'm just naturally pinin'
to beat up the royal person."

"If this ain't the best idea I ever heard of, I'm a Dutchman,"
replied McGuffey. "A happy combination of business and pleasure.
Who fights first, Gib? You or Scraggs?"

"I guess I'd better open the festivities," said Mr. Gibney
amiably. "I ain't no kill-joy and I want Scraggsy to get some fun
out of this frolic. If I fight first the old kiddo can look on in
peace and enjoy the sight, and if him and the king fights first
perhaps he won't be in no condition to appreciate the spectacle
that me and Tabu-Tabu puts up."

"That's logic," assented McGuffey solemnly; "that's logic."

Seeing that there was no escape, Captain Scraggs decided to bluff
the matter through. "Let's go ashore and have it over with," he
said carelessly. "I'm a man of peace, but when there's fightin'
to be done, I say go to it and no tomfoolery."

Mr. Gibney winked slyly at McGuffey. They each knew Scraggs
little relished the prospect before him, though to do him justice
he was mean enough to fight and fight well, if he thought he had
half a chance to get the decision. But he knew the king was as
hard as tacks, and was more than his match in a rough and tumble,
and while he spoke bravely enough, his words did not deceive his
shipmates, and inwardly they shook with laughter.

"Clear away the big whaleboat with two men to pull us ashore,"
said Mr. Gibney to the mate. Five minutes later the members of
the syndicate, accompanied by the captives, climbed into the
whaleboat and shoved off, leaving the _Maggie II_ in charge of
the mate. "We'll be back in half an hour," called the commodore,
as they rowed away from the schooner. "Just ratch back and forth
and keep heavin' the lead."

They negotiated the fringe of breakers to the north of the island
successfully, pulled the boat up on the beach, and proceeded at
once to business. Mr. Gibney explained to Tabu-Tabu what was
expected of him, and Tabu-Tabu in turn explained to the king. It
was not the habit of white men, so Mr. Gibney explained, to kill
their prisoners in cold blood, and he had decided to give them an
opportunity to fight their way out of a sad predicament with
their naked fists. If they won, they would be taken back aboard
the schooner and later dropped at some inhabited island. If they
lost, they must make their home for the future on Tuvana-tholo.

"Let 'er go," called McGuffey, and Mr. Gibney squared off and
made a bear-like pass at Tabu-Tabu. To the amazement of all
present Tabu-Tabu sprang lightly backward and avoided the blow.
His footwork was excellent and McGuffey remarked as much to
Captain Scraggs. But when Tabu-Tabu put up his hands after the
most approved method of self-defense and dropped into a "crouch,"
McGuffey could no longer contain himself.

"The beggar can fight, the beggar can fight," he croaked, wild
with joy. "Scraggs, old man, this'll be a rare mill, I promise
you. He's been aboard a British man-o'-war and learned how to
box. Steady, Gib. Upper-cut him, upper--_wow!_"

[Illustration: "_Tabu Tabu ... planted a mighty right in the
centre of Mr. Gibney's physiognomy_"]

Tabu-Tabu had stepped in and planted a mighty right in the centre
of Mr. Gibney's physiognomy, following it up with a hard left to
the commodore's ear. Mr. Gibney rocked a moment on his sturdy
legs, stepped back out of range, dropped both hands, and stared
at Tabu-Tabu.

"I do believe the nigger'll lick you, Gib," said McGuffey
anxiously. "He's got a horrible reach and a mule kick in each
mit. Close with him, or he's due for a full pardon."

"In a minute," said the commodore faintly. "He's so good I hate
to hurt him. But I'll infight him to a finish."

Which Mr. Gibney forthwith proceeded to do. He rushed his
opponent and clinched, though not until his right eye was in
mourning and a stiff jolt in the short ribs had caused him to
grunt in most ignoble fashion. But few men could withstand Mr.
Gibney once he got to close quarters. Tabu-Tabu wrapped his long
arms around the commodore and endeavoured to smother his blows,
but Mr. Gibney would not be denied. His great fist shot upward
from the hip and connected with the cannibal's chin. Tabu-Tabu
relaxed his hold, Mr. Gibney followed with left and right to the
head in quick succession, and McGuffey was counting the fatal ten
over the fallen warrior.

Mr. Gibney grinned rather foolishly, spat, and spoke to McGuffey,
_sotto voce_: "By George, the joke ain't all on Scraggsy," he
said. Then turning to Captain Scraggs: "Help yourself to the
mustard, Scraggsy, old tarpot."

Captain Scraggs took off his hat, rolled up his sleeves, and made
a dive for the royal presence. His majesty, lacking the
scientific training of his prime minister, seized a handful of
the Scraggs mane and tore at it cruelly. A well-directed kick in
the shins, however, caused him to let go, and a moment later he
was flying up the beach with the angry Scraggs in full cry after
him. McGuffey headed the king off and rounded him up so Scraggs
could get at him, and the latter at once "dug in" like a terrier.
After five minutes of mauling and tearing Captain Scraggs was out
of breath, so he let go and stood off a few feet to size up the
situation. The wicked McGuffey was laughing immoderately, but to
Scraggs it was no laughing matter. The fact of the matter was the
king was dangerous and Scraggs had glutted himself with revenge.

"I don't want to beat an old man to death," he gasped finally.
"I'll let the scoundrel go. He's had enough and he won't fight.
Let's mosey along back to the schooner and leave them here to
amuse themselves the best way they know how."

"Right-O," said Mr. Gibney, and turned to walk down the beach to
the boat. A second later a hoarse scream of rage and terror broke
from his lips.

"What's up?" cried McGuffey, the laughter dying out of his voice,
for there was a hint of death in Mr. Gibney's cry.

"Marooned!" said the commodore hoarsely. "Those two sailors have
pulled back to the schooner, and--there--look, Mac! My Gawd!"

McGuffey looked, and his face went whiter than the foaming
breakers beyond which he could see the _Maggie II_, under full
sail, headed for the open sea. The small boat had been picked up,
and there was no doubt that at her present rate of speed the
schooner would be hull down on the horizon by sunset.

"The murderin' hound," whispered McGuffey, and sagged down on the
sands. "Oh, the murderin' hound of a mate!"

"It's--it's mutiny," gulped Captain Scraggs in a hard, strained
voice. "That bloody fiend of a mate! The sly sneak-thief, with
his pleasant smile and his winnin' ways! Saw a chance to steal
the _Maggie_ and her rich cargo, and he is leavin' us here,
marooned on a desert island, with _two cannibals_."

Captain Scraggs fairly shrieked the last two words and burst into
tears. "Lord, Gib, old man," he raved, "whatever will we do?"

Thus appealed to, the doughty commodore permitted his two
unmatched optics to rest mournfully upon his shipmates. For
nearly a minute he gazed at them, the while he struggled to
stifle the awful fear within him. In the Gibney veins there
flowed not a drop of craven blood, but the hideous prospect
before him was almost more than the brave commodore could bear.
Death, quick and bloody, had no terrors for him, but a finish
like this--a slow finish--thirst, starvation, heat----

He gulped and thoughtfully rubbed the knuckles of his right hand
where the skin was barked off. He thought of the silly joke he
and McGuffey had thought to perpetrate on Captain Scraggs by
leading him up against a beating at the hands of a cannibal king,
and with the thought came a grim, hard chuckle, though there was
the look of a thousand devils in his eyes.

"Well, boys," he said huskily, "who's looney now?"

"What's to be done?" asked McGuffey.

"Well, Mac, old sporty boy, I guess there ain't much to do except
to make up our minds to die like gentlemen. If I was ever fooled
by a man in my life, I was fooled by that doggone mate. I thought
he'd tote square with the syndicate. I sure did."

For a long time McGuffey gazed seaward. He was slower than his
shipmates in making up his mind that the mate had really deserted
them and sailed away with the fortunes of the syndicate. Of the
three, however, the stoical engineer accepted the situation with
the best grace. He spurned the white sand with his foot and faced
Mr. Gibney and Captain Scraggs with just the suspicion of a grin
on his homely face.

"I make a motion," he said, "that the syndicate pass a resolution
condemnin' the action of the mate."

It was a forlorn hope, and the jest went over the heads of the
deck department. Said Mr. Gibney sadly:

"There ain't no more _Maggie II_ Syndicate."

"Well, let's form a Robinson Crusoe Syndicate," suggested
McGuffey. "We've got the island, and there's a quorum present for
all meetin's."

Mr. Gibney smiled feebly. "We can appoint Tabu-Tabu the man
Friday."

"Sure," responded McGuffey, "and the king can be the goat.
Robinson Crusoe had a billy goat, didn't he, Gib?"

But Captain Scraggs refused to be heartened by this airy
persiflage. "I'm all het up after my fight with the king," he
quavered presently. "I wonder if there's any water on this
island."

"There is," announced Mr. Gibney pleasantly; "there is, Scraggsy.
There's water in just one spot, but it's there in abundance."

"Where's that spot?" inquired Scraggs eagerly.

Mr. Gibney removed his old Panama hat, and with his index finger
pointed downward to where the hair was beginning to disappear,
leaving a small bald spot on the crown of his ingenious head.

"There," he said, "right there, Scraggsy, old top. The only water
on this island is on the brain of Adelbert P. Gibney."




CHAPTER XXVI


Neils Halvorsen often wondered what had become of the _Maggie_
and Captain Scraggs. Mr. Gibney and Bartholomew McGuffey he knew
had turned their sun-tanned faces toward deep water some years
before Captain Scraggs and the _Maggie_ disappeared from the
environs of San Francisco Bay, and Neils Halvorsen was wise
enough to waste no time wondering what had become of _them_.
These two worthies might be anywhere, and every conceivable thing
under the sun might have happened to them; hence, in his idle
moments, Neils Halvorsen did not disturb his gray matter
speculating on their whereabouts and their then condition of
servitude.

But the continued absence of Captain Scraggs from his old haunts
created quite a little gossip along the waterfront, and in the
course of time rumours of his demise by sundry and devious routes
came to the ears of Neils Halvorsen. Now, Neils had sailed too
long with Captain Scraggs not to realize that the erstwhile
green-pea trader would be the last man to take a chance in any
hazardous enterprise unless forced thereto by the weight of
circumstance; also there was affection enough in his simple
Scandinavian heart to cause him to feel just a little worried
when two weeks passed and Captain Scraggs failed to show up. He
had disappeared in some mysterious manner from San Francisco Bay
and the old _Maggie_ had never been heard from again.

Hence Neils Halvorsen was puzzled. In fact, to such an extent was
Neils puzzled, that one perfectly calm, clear night while beating
down San Pablo Bay in his bay scow, the _Willie and Annie_, he so
far forgot himself and his own affairs as to concentrate all his
attention on the problem of the ultimate finish of Captain
Scraggs. So engrossed was Neils in this vain speculation that he
neglected to observe toward the rules of the ocean highways that
nicety of attention which is highly requisite, even in the
skipper of a bay scow, if the fulsome title of captain is to be
retained for any definite period. As a result, Neils became
confused regarding the exact number of blasts from the siren of a
river steamer desiring to pass him to port. Consequently the
_Willie and Annie_ received such a severe butting from the river
steamer in question as to cause her to careen and fill. Being,
unfortunately, loaded with gravel on this particular trip, she
subsided incontinently to the bottom of San Pablo Bay, while
Neils and his crew of two men sought refuge on a plank.

Without attempting to go further into the details of the
misfortunes of Neils Halvorsen, be it known that the destruction
of the _Willie and Annie_ proved to be such a severe shock to
Neils' reputation as a safe and sane bay scow skipper that he was
ultimately forced to seek other and more virgin fields. With the
fragments of his meagre fortune, the ambitious Swede purchased a
course in a local nautical school from which he duly managed to
emerge with sufficient courage to appear before the United
States Local Inspectors of Hulls and Boilers and take his
examination for a second mate's certificate. To his unutterable
surprise the license was granted; whereupon he shipped as
quartermaster on the steamer _Alameda_, running to Honolulu, and
what with the lesson taught him in the loss of the _Willie and
Annie_ and the exacting duties of his office aboard the liner, he
forgot that he had ever known Captain Scraggs.

Judge of Neils Halvorsen's surprise, therefore, upon the occasion
of his first trip to Honolulu, when he saw something which
brought the whole matter back to mind. They were standing in
toward Diamond Head and the _Alameda_ lay hove to taking on the
pilot. It was early morning and the purple mists hung over the
entrance to the harbour. Neils Halvorsen stood at the gangway
enjoying the sunrise over the Punch-bowl, and glancing longingly
toward the vivid green of the hills beyond the city, when he was
aware of a "put," "put," "put," to starboard of the _Alameda_.
Neils turned at the sound just in time to see a beautiful
gasoline schooner of about a hundred and thirty tons heading in
toward the bay. She was so close that Neils was enabled to make
out that her name was _Maggie II_.

"Vell, aye be dam," muttered Neils, and scratched his head, for
the name revived old memories. An hour later, when the _Alameda_
loafed into her berth at Brewer's dock, Neils noticed that the
schooner lay at anchor off the quarantine station.

That night Neils Halvorsen went ashore for those forms of
enjoyment peculiar to his calling, and in the Pantheon saloon,
whither his pathway led him, he filled himself with beer and
gossip. It was here that Neils came across an item in an
afternoon paper which challenged his instant attention. It was
just a squib in the shipping news, but Neils Halvorsen read it
with amazement and joy:

    The power schooner _Maggie II_ arrived this morning, ten
    days from the Friendly Islands. The little schooner came
    into port with her hold bursting with the most valuable
    cargo that has entered Honolulu in many years. It
    consists for the most part of black coral.

    The _Maggie II_ is commanded by Captain Phineas Scraggs,
    and after taking on provisions and water to-day will
    proceed to San Francisco, to-morrow, for discharge of
    cargo.

"By yiminy," quoth Neils Halvorsen, "aye bat you that bane de ole
man so sure as you bane alive. And aye bat new hat he skall be
glad to see Neils Halvorsen. I guess aye hire Kanaka boy an' he
bane pull me out to see de ole man."

Which is exactly what Neils Halvorsen proceeded to do. Ten
minutes later he was at the foot of Fort Street, bargaining with
a Kanaka fisherman to paddle him off to the schooner _Maggie II_.
It was a beautiful moonlight night, and as Neils sat in the stern
of the canoe, listening to the sound of the sad, sweet falsetto
singing of half a dozen _waheenies_ fishing on the wharf, he
actually waxed sentimental. His honest Scandinavian heart
throbbed with anticipated pleasure as he conjured up a mental
picture of the surprise and delight of Captain Scraggs at this
unexpected meeting with his old deckhand.

A Jacob's ladder was hanging over the side of the schooner as the
canoe shot in under her lee quarter, and half a minute later the
expectant Neils stepped upon her deck. A tall dark man, wearing
an ancient palmleaf hat, sat smoking on the hatch coaming, and
him Neils Halvorsen addressed.

"Aye bane want to see Cap'n Scraggs," he said.

The tall dark man stood erect and cast a quick, questioning look
at Neils Halvorsen. He hesitated before he made answer.

"What do you want?" he asked deliberately, and there was a subtle
menace in his tones. As for Neils Halvorsen, thinking only of the
surprise he had in store for his old employer, he replied
evasively:

"Aye bane want job."

"Well, I'm Captain Scraggs, and I haven't any job for you. Get
off my boat and wait until you're invited before you come aboard
again."

For nearly half a minute Neils Halvorsen stared open-mouthed at
the spurious Captain Scraggs, while slowly there sifted through
his brain the notion that he had happened across the track of a
deep and bloody mystery of the seas. There was "something rotten
in Denmark." Of that Neils Halvorsen was certain. More he could
not be certain of until he had paved the way for a complete
investigation, and as a preliminary step toward that end he
clinched his fist and sprang swiftly toward the bogus skipper.

"Aye tank you bane damn liar," he muttered, and struck home,
straight and true, to the point of the jaw. The man went down,
and in an instant Neils was on top of him. Off came the sailor's
belt, the hands of the half-stunned man were quickly tied behind
him, and before he had time to realize what had happened Neils
had cut a length of cord from a trailing halyard and tied his
feet securely, after which he gagged him with his bandana
handkerchief.

A quick circuit of the ship convinced Neils Halvorsen that the
remainder of the dastard crew were evidently ashore, so he
descended to the cabin in search of further evidence of crime. He
was quite prepared to find Captain Scraggs's master's certificate
in its familiar oaken frame, hanging on the cabin wall, but he
was dumfounded to observe, hanging on the wall in a similar and
equally familiar frame, the certificate of Adelbert P. Gibney as
first mate of steam or sail, any ocean and any tonnage. But still
a third framed certificate hung on the wall, and Neils again
scratched his head when he read the wording that set forth the
legal qualifications of Bartholomew McGuffey to hold down a job
as chief engineer of coastwise vessels up to 1,200 tons net
register.

It was patent, even to the dull-witted Swede, that there had been
foul play somewhere, and the schooner's log, lying open on the
table, seemed to offer the first means at hand for a solution of
the mystery. Eagerly Neils turned to the last entry. It was not
in Captain Scraggs's handwriting, and contained nothing more
interesting than the stereotyped reports of daily observations,
currents, weather conditions, etc., including a notation of
arrival that day at Honolulu. Slowly Halvorsen turned the leaves
backward, until at last he was rewarded by a glimpse of a
different handwriting. It was the last entry under that
particular handwriting, and read as follows:

    June 21, 19--. Took an observation at noon, and find
    that we are in 20-48 S., 178-4 W. At this rate should
    lift Tuvana-tholo early this afternoon. All hands well
    and looking forward to the fun at Tuvana. Bent a new
    flying jib this morning and had the king and Tabu-Tabu
    holystone the deck.

    A.P. GIBNEY.

Neils Halvorsen sat down to think, and after several minutes of
this unusual exercise it appeared to the Swede that he had
stumbled upon a clue to the situation. The last entry in the log
kept by Mr. Gibney was under date of June 21st--just eleven days
ago, and on that date Mr. Gibney had been looking forward to some
fun at Tuvana-tholo. Now where was that island and what kind of a
place was it?

Neils searched through the cabin until he came across the book
that is the bible of every South Sea trading vessel--the British
Admiralty Reports. Down the index went the old deckhand's
calloused finger and paused at "Friendly islands--page 177";
whereupon Neils opened the book at page 177 and after a
five-minute search discovered that Tuvana-tholo was a barren,
uninhabited island in latitude 21-2 south, longitude 178-49 west.

Ten days from the Friendly Islands, the paper said. That meant
under power and sail with the trades abaft the beam. It would
take nearer fifteen days for the run from Honolulu to that desert
island, and Neils Halvorsen wondered whether the marooned men
would still be alive by the time aid could reach them. For by
some sixth sailor sense Neils Halvorsen became convinced that his
old friends of the vegetable trade were marooned. They had gone
ashore for some kind of a frolic, and the crew had stolen the
schooner and left them to their fate, believing that the
castaways would never be heard from and that dead men tell no
tales.

"Yumpin' yiminy," groaned Neils. "I must get a wiggle on if aye
bane steal this schooner."

He rushed on deck, carried his prisoner down into the cabin, and
locked the door on him. A minute later he was clinging to the
Jacob's ladder, the canoe shot in to the side of the vessel at
his gruff command and passed on shoreward without missing a
stroke of the paddle. An hour later, accompanied by three Kanaka
sailors picked up at random along the waterfront, Neils Halvorsen
was pulled out to the _Maggie II_. Her crew had not returned and
the bogus captain was still triced hard and fast in the cabin.

The Swede did not bother to investigate in detail the food and
water supply. A hasty round of the schooner convinced him that
she had at least a month's supply of food and water. Only one
thought surged through his mind, and that was the awful necessity
for haste. The anchor came in with a rush, the Kanaka boys
chanting a song that sounded to Neils like a funeral dirge, and
Neils went below and turned the gasoline engines wide open. The
_Maggie II_ swung around and with a long streak of opalescent
foam trailing behind her swung down the bay and faded at last in
the ghostly moonlight beyond Diamond Head; after which Neils
Halvorsen, with murder in his eye and a tarred rope's end in his
horny fist, went down into the cabin and talked to the man who
posed as Captain Scraggs. In the end he got a confession. Fifteen
minutes later he emerged, smiling grimly, gave the Kanaka boy at
the wheel the course, and turned in to sleep the sleep of the
conscience-free and the weary.




CHAPTER XXVII


Darkness was creeping over the beach at Tuvana-tholo before Mr.
Gibney could smother the despair in his heart sufficient to spur
his jaded imagination into working order. For nearly an hour the
three castaways had sat on the beach in dumb horror, gazing
seaward. They were not alone in this, for a little further up the
beach the two Fiji Islanders sat huddled on their haunches,
gazing stupidly first at the horizon and then at their white
captors. It was the sight of these two worthies that spurred Mr.
Gibney's torpid brain to action.

"Didn't you say, Mac, that when we left these two cannibals alone
on this island that it would develop into a case of dog eat dog
or somethin' of that nature?"

Captain Scraggs sprang to his feet, his face white with a new
terror. However, he had endured so much since embarking with Mr.
Gibney on a life of wild adventure that his nerves had become
rather inured to impending death, and presently his fear gave way
to an overmastering rage. He hurled his hat on the sands and
jumped on it until it was a mere shapeless rag.

"By the tail of the Great Sacred Bull," he gasped, "if they don't
start in on us first I'm a Dutchman. Of all the idiots, thieves,
crimps, thugs, and pirates, Bart McGuffey, you're the worst.
Gib, you hulkin' swine, whatever did you listen to him for? It
was a crazy idea, this talk of fight. Why didn't we just drop the
critters overboard and be done with it? We got to kill 'em now
with sticks and stones in order to protect ourselves."

"Forgive me, Scraggsy, old scout," said Mr. Gibney humbly. "The
fat's in the fire now, and there ain't no use howlin' over spilt
milk."

"Shut up, you murderer," shrilled Captain Scraggs and danced once
more on his battered hat.

"Let's call a meetin' of the Robinson Crusoe Syndicate," said Mr.
Gibney.

"Second the motion," rumbled McGuffey.

"Carried," said the commodore. "The first business before the
meetin' is the organization of a expedition to chase these two
cannibals to the other end of the island. I ain't got the heart
to kill 'em, so let's chase 'em away before they get fresh with
us."

"Good idea," responded McGuffey, whereupon he picked up a rock
and threw it at the king. Mr. Gibney followed with two rocks,
Captain Scraggs screamed defiance at the enemy, and the enemy
fled in wild disorder, pursued by the syndicate. After a chase of
half a mile Mr. Gibney led his cohorts back to the beach.

"Let's build a fire--not that we need it, but just for
company--and sleep till mornin'. By that time my imagination'll
be in workin' order and I'll scheme a breakfast out of this
God-forsaken hole."

At the first hint of dawn Mr. Gibney, true to his promise, was up
and scouting for breakfast. He found some gooneys asleep on a
rocky crag and killed half a dozen of them with a club. On his
way back to camp he discovered a few handfuls of sea salt in a
crevice between some rocks, and the syndicate breakfasted an hour
later on roast gooney. It was oily and fishy but an excellent
substitute for nothing at all, and the syndicate was grateful.
The breakfast would have been cheerful, in fact, if Captain
Scraggs had not made repeated reference to his excessive thirst.
McGuffey lost patience before the meal was over, and cuffed
Captain Scraggs, who thereupon subsided with tears in his eyes.
This hurt McGuffey. It was like salt in a fresh wound, so he
patted the skipper on the back and humbly asked his pardon.
Captain Scraggs forgave him and murmured something about death
making them all equal.

"The next business before the syndicate," announced Mr. Gibney,
anxious to preserve peace, "is a search of this island for
water."

They searched all forenoon. At intervals they caught glimpses of
the two cannibals skulking behind sand-dunes, but they found no
water. Toward the centre of the island, however, the soil was
less barren, and here a grove of cocoa-palms lifted their tufted
crests invitingly.

"We will camp in this grove," said the commodore, "and keep guard
over these green cocoanuts. There must be nearly a hundred of
them and I notice a little taro root here and there. As those
cocoanuts are full of milk, that insures us life for a week or
two if we go on a short ration. By bathin' several times a day we
can keep down our thirst some and perhaps it'll rain."

"What if it does?" snapped Captain Scraggs bitterly. "We ain't
got nothin' but our hats to catch it in."

"Well, then, Scraggsy, old stick-in-the-mud," replied the
commodore quizzically, "it's a cinch you'll go thirsty. Your hat
looks like a cullender."

Captain Scraggs choked with rage, and Mr. Gibney, springing at
the nearest palm, shinned to the top of it in the most approved
sailor fashion. A moment later, instead of cocoanuts, rich,
unctuous curses began to descend on McGuffey and Scraggs.

"Gib, my _dear_ boy," inquired Scraggs, "whatever _is_ the
matter of you?"

"That hound Tabu-Tabu's been strippin' our cocoanut grove,"
roared the commodore. "He must have spent half the night up in
these trees."

"Thank the Lord they didn't take 'em all," said McGuffey piously.
"Chuck me down a nut, Gib," said Captain Scraggs. "I'm famished."

In conformity with the commodore's plans, the castaways made camp
in the grove. For a week they subsisted on gooneys, taro root,
cocoanuts and cocoanut milk, and a sea-turtle which Scraggs found
wandering on the beach. This suggested turtle eggs to Mr. Gibney,
and a change of diet resulted. Nevertheless, the unaccustomed
food, poorly cooked as it was, and the lack of water, told
cruelly on them, and their strength failed rapidly. Realizing
that in a few days he would not have the strength to climb
cocoanut trees, Mr. Gibney spent nearly half a day aloft and
threw down every cocoanut he could find, which was not a great
many. They had their sheath knives and consequently had little
fear from an attack by Tabu-Tabu and the king. These latter kept
well to the other side of the island and subsisted in much the
same manner as their white neighbours.

At the end of a week, all hands were troubled with indigestion
and McGuffey developed a low fever. They had lost much flesh and
were a white, haggard-looking trio. On the afternoon of the tenth
day on the island the sky clouded up and Mr. Gibney predicted a
williwaw. Captain Scraggs inquired feebly if it was good to eat.

That night it rained, and to the great joy of the marooned
mariners Mr. Gibney discovered, in the centre of a big sandstone
rock, a natural reservoir that held about ten gallons of water.
They drank to repletion and felt their strength return a
thousand-fold. Tabu-Tabu and the king came into camp about this
time, and pleaded for a ration of water. Mr. Gibney, swearing
horribly at them, granted their request, and the king, in his
gratitude, threw himself at the commodore's feet and kissed them.
But Mr. Gibney was not to be deceived, and after furnishing them
with a supply of water in cocoanut calabashes, he ordered them to
their own side of the island.

On the eighteenth day the last drop of water was gone, and on the
twenty-second day the last of the cocoanuts disappeared. The
prospects of more rain were not bright. The gooneys were becoming
shy and distrustful and the syndicate was experiencing more and
more difficulty, not only in killing them, but in eating them.
McGuffey, who had borne up uncomplainingly, was shaking with
fever and hardly able to stagger down the beach to look for
turtle eggs. The syndicate was sick, weak, and emaciated almost
beyond recognition, and on the twenty-fifth day Captain Scraggs
fainted twice. On the twenty-sixth day McGuffey crawled into the
shadow of a stunted mimosa bush and started to pray!

To Mr. Gibney this was an infallible sign that McGuffey was now
delirious. In the shadow of a neighbouring bush Captain Scraggs
babbled of steam beer in the Bowhead saloon, and the commodore,
stifling his own agony, watched his comrades until their lips and
tongues, parched with thirst, refused longer to produce even a
moan, and silence settled over the dismal camp.

It was the finish. The commodore knew it, and sat with bowed head
in his gaunt arms, wondering, wondering. Slowly his body began to
sway; he muttered something, slid forward on his face, and lay
still. And as he lay there on the threshold of the unknown he
dreamed that the _Maggie II_ came into view around the headland,
a bone in her teeth and every stitch of canvas flying. He saw her
luff up into the wind and hang there shivering; a moment later
her sails came down by the run, and he saw a little splash under
her port bow as her hook took bottom. There was a commotion on
decks, and then to Mr. Gibney's dying ears came faintly the
shouts and songs of the black boys as a whaleboat shot into the
breakers and pulled swiftly toward the beach. Mr. Gibney dreamed
that a white man sat in the stern sheets of this whaleboat, and
as the boat touched the beach it seemed to Mr. Gibney that this
man sprang ashore and ran swiftly toward him. And--Mr. Gibney
twisted his suffering lips into a wry smile as he realized the
oddities of this mirage--it seemed to him that this visionary
white man bore a striking resemblance to Neils Halvorsen. Neils
Halvorsen, of all men! Old Neils, "the squarehead" deckhand of
the green-pea trade! Dull, bowlegged Neils, with his lost dog
smile and his----

Mr. Gibney rubbed his eyes feebly and half staggered to his feet.
What was that? A shout? Without doubt he had heard a sound that
was not the moaning of their remorseless prison-keeper, the sea.
And----

"Hands off," shrieked Mr. Gibney and struck feebly at the
imaginary figure rushing toward him. No use. He felt himself
swept into strong arms and carried an immeasurable distance down
the beach. Then somebody threw water in his face and pressed a
drink of brandy and sweet water to his parched lips. His swimming
senses rallied a moment, and he discovered that he was lying in
the bottom of a whaleboat. McGuffey lay beside him, and on a
thwart in front of him sat good old Neils Halvorsen with Captain
Scraggs's head on his knees. As Mr. Gibney looked at this strange
tableau Captain Scraggs opened his eyes, glanced up at Neils
Halvorsen, and spoke:

"Why if it ain't old squarehead Neils," he muttered wonderingly.
"If it ain't Neils, I'll go to hades or some other seaport." He
closed his eyes again and subsided into a sort of lethargy, for
he was content. He knew he was saved.

Mr. Gibney rolled over, and, struggling to his knees, leaned over
McGuffey and peered into his drawn face.

"Mac, old shipmate! Mac, speak to me. Are you alive?"

B. McGuffey, Esquire, opened a pair of glazed eyes and stared at
the commodore.

"Did we lick 'em?" he whispered. "The last I remember the king
was puttin' it all over Scraggsy. And that Tabu boy--was--no
slouch." McGuffey paused, and glanced warily around the boat,
while a dawning horror appeared in his sunken eyes. "Go back,
Neils--go back--for God's sake. There's two niggers--still--on
the--island. Bring--'em some--water. They're cannibals--Neils,
but never--mind. Get them--aboard--the poor devils--if they're
living. I--wouldn't leave a--crocodile on that--hell hole, if I
could--help it."

An hour later the Robinson Crusoe Syndicate, including the man
Friday and the Goat, were safe aboard the _Maggie II_, and Neils
Halvorsen, with the tears streaming down his bronzed cheeks, was
sparingly doling out to them a mixture of brandy and water. And
when the syndicate was strong enough to be allowed all the water
it wanted, Neils Halvorsen propped them up on deck and told the
story. When he had finished, Captain Scraggs turned to Mr.
Gibney.

"Gib, my _dear_ boy," he said, "make a motion."

"I move," said the commodore, "that we set Tabu-Tabu and the king
down on the first inhabited island we can find. They've suffered
enough. And I further move that we readjust the ownership of the
_Maggie II_ Syndicate and cut the best Swede on earth in on a
quarter of the profits."

"Second the motion," said McGuffey.

"Carried," said Captain Scraggs.




CHAPTER XXVIII


The lookout on the power schooner _Maggie II_ had sighted Diamond
Head before Commodore Adelbert P. Gibney, Captain Phineas P.
Scraggs, and Engineer Bartholomew McGuffey were enabled to
declare, in all sincerity (or at least with as much sincerity as
one might reasonably expect from this band of roving rascals),
that they had entirely recovered from their harrowing experiences
on the desert island of Tuvana-tholo, in the Friendly group.

At the shout of "Land, ho!" Mr. McGuffey yawned, stretched
himself, and sat up in the wicker lounging chair where he had
sprawled for days with Mr. Gibney and Captain Scraggs, under the
awning on top of the house. He flexed his biceps reflectively,
while his companions, stretched at full length in their
respective chairs, watched him lazily.

"As a member o' the _Maggie_ Syndicate an' ownin' an' votin' a
quarter interest," boomed the engineer, "I hereby call a meetin'
o' the said syndicate for the purpose o' transactin' any an' all
business that may properly come before the meetin'."

"Pass the word for Neils Halvorsen," suggested Mr. Gibney. "Bless
his squarehead soul," he added.

"We got a quorum without him, an' besides this business is just
between us three."

"Meetin'll come to order." The commodore tapped the hot deck
with his bare heel twice. "Haul away, Mac."

"I move you, gentlemen, that it be the sense o' this meetin' that
B. McGuffey, Esquire, be an' he is hereby app'inted a committee
o' one to lam the everlastin' daylights out o' that sinful former
chief mate o' ourn for abandonin' the syndicate to a horrible
death on that there desert island. Do I hear a second to that
motion?"

"Second the motion," chirped Captain Scraggs.

"The motion's denied," announced Mr. Gibney firmly.

"Now, looky here, Gib, that ain't fair. Didn't you fight
Tabu-Tabu an' didn't Scraggsy fight the king o' Kandavu? I ain't
had no fightin' this entire v'yage an' I did cal'late to lick
that doggone mate."

"Mac, it can't be done nohow."

"Oh, it can't, eh? Well, I'll just bet you two boys my interest
in the syndicate----"

"It ain't that, Mac, it ain't that. Nobody's doubtin' your
natural ability to mop him up. But it ain't policy. You wasn't
sore agin them cannibal savages, was you? You made Neils go back
an' save 'em, an' it took us two days to beat up to the first
inhabited island an' drop 'em off----"

"But a cannibal's like a dumb beast, Gib. He ain't responsible.
This mate knows better. He's as fly as they make 'em."

"Ah!" Mr. Gibney levelled a horny forefinger at the engineer.
"That's where you hit the nail on the head. He's too fly, and
there's only two ways to keep him from flyin' away with us. The
first is to feed him to the sharks and the second is to treat
him like a long-lost brother. I know he ought to be hove
overboard, but I ain't got the heart to kill him in cold blood.
Consequently, we got to let the villain live, an' if you go to
beatin' him up, Mac, you'll make him sore an' he'll peach on us
when we get to Honolulu. If us three could get back to San
Francisco with clean hands, I'd say lick the beggar an' lick him
for fair. But we got to remember that this mate was one o' the
original filibuster crew o' the old _Maggie I_. The day we
tackled the Mexican navy an' took this power schooner away from
'em, we put ourselves forty fathom plumb outside the law, an'
this mate was present an' knows it. We've changed the vessel's
name an' rig, an' doctored up the old _Maggie's_ papers to suit
the _Maggie II_, an' we've give her a new dress. But at that,
it's hard to disguise a ship in a live port, an' the secret
service agents o' the Mexican government may be a-layin' for us
in San Francisco; and with this here mate agin us an' ready to
turn state's evidence, we're pirates under the law, an' it don't
take much imagination to see three pirates swingin' from the same
yard-arm. No, sir, Mac. I ain't got no wish, now that we're fixed
nice an' comfortable with the world's goods, to be hung for a
pirate in the mere shank o' my youth. Why, I ain't fifty year old
yet."

"By the tail o' the Great Sacred Bull," chattered Scraggs. "Gib's
right."

McGuffey was plainly disappointed. "I hadn't thought o' that at
all, Gib. I been cherishin' the thought o' lammin' the whey out'n
that mate, but if you say so I'll give up the idee. But if
bringin' the _Maggie II_ into home waters is invitin' death,
what in blue blazes're we goin' to do with her?"

Mr. Gibney smiled--an arch, cunning smile. "We'll give her to
that murderin' mate, free gratis."

Captain Scraggs bounded out of his chair, struck the hot deck
with his bare feet, cursed, and hopped back into the chair again.
McGuffey stared incredulously.

"Gib, my _dear_ boy," quavered Scraggs, "say that agin."

"Yes," continued the commodore placidly, "we'll just get shet o'
her peaceable like by givin' her to this mate. Don't forget,
Scraggsy, old tarpot, that this mate's been passin' himself off
for you in Honolulu, an' if there's ever an investigation, the
trail leads to the _Maggie II_. This mate's admitted being
Captain Scraggs, an' if he's found with the schooner in his
possession it'll take a heap o' evidence for him to prove that he
ain't Captain Scraggs. We'll just keep this here mate in the brig
while we're disposing of our black coral, pearl, shell, and copra
in Honolulu, an' then, when we've cleaned up, an' got our
passages booked for San Francisco----"

"But who says we're goin' back to San Francisco?" cut in
McGuffey.

"Why, where else would men with money in their pockets head for,
you oil-soaked piece of ignorance? Ain't you had enough adventure
to do you a spell?" demanded Captain Scraggs. "Me an' Gib's for
goin' back to San Francisco, so shut up. If you got any
objection, you're outvoted two to one in the syndicate."

McGuffey subsided, growling, and Mr. Gibney continued:

"When we're ready to leave Honolulu, we'll bring this mate on
deck, make him a kind Christian talk an' give him the _Maggie II_
with the compliments o' the syndicate. He'll think our sufferin's
on that island has touched us with religion an' he'll be so
tickled he'll keep his mouth shut. Then, with all three of us
safe an' out o' the mess, an' the evidence off our hands, we'll
clear out for Gawd's country an' look around for some sort of a
profitable investment."

"What you figurin' on, Gib?" demanded Captain Scraggs. "I hope
it's a steamboat. This wild adventure is all right when you get
away with it, but I like steamboatin' on the bay an' up the
river."

"Oh, nothin' particular, Scraggsy. We'll just hold the syndicate
together an' when somethin' good bobs up we'll smother it. In the
meantime, we'll continue our life o' wild adventure."

"But there ain't no wild adventures around San Francisco Bay,"
protested McGuffey.

"That shows your ignorance, Mac. Adventure lurks in every nook an'
slough an' doghole on the bay. You walk along the Embarcadero, only
reasonably drunk, an' adventure's liable to hit you a swipe in the
face like a loose rope-end bangin' around in a gale. Adventure an'
profits goes hand in hand----"

"Then why give the _Maggie II_ to this hound of a mate?" demanded
the single-minded McGuffey.

The commodore sighed. "She's a love of a boat an' it breaks my
heart to give up the only command I've ever had, but the fact is,
Mac, her possession by us is dangerous, an' we don't need her,
an' we can't sell her because her record's got blurs on it. We
can't convey a clean an' satisfactory title. Anyhow, she didn't
cost us a cent an' there ain't no real financial loss if we give
her to this mate. He'd be glad to get her if she had yellow jack
aboard, an' if he's caught with her he'll have to do the
explainin'. When you're caught with the goods in your possession,
Mac, it makes the explainin' all the harder. Besides, we're three
to one, an' if it comes to a show-down later we can outswear the
mate."

Captain Scraggs picked his snaggle teeth with the little blade of
his jack-knife and cogitated a minute.

"Well," he announced presently, "far be it from me to fly in the
face o' a felon's death. I've made a heap o' money, follerin'
Gib's advice, an' bust my bob-stay if I don't stay put on this.
Gib, it's your lead."

"Well, I'll follow suit. Gib's got all the trumps," acquiesced
the engineer. "We got plenty o' dough an' no board bills comin'
due, so we'll loaf alongshore until Gib digs up somethin' good."

Mr. Gibney smiled his approval of these sentiments. "Thank you,
boys. I ain't quite sure yet whether we'll quit the sea an' go
into the chicken business, build a fast sea-goin' launch an'
smuggle Chinamen in from Mexico, buy a stern-wheel steamer an' do
bay an' river freightin', or just live at a swell hotel an'
scheme out a fortune by our wits. But whatever I do, as the
leadin' sperrit o' this syndicate, the motto o' the syndicate
will ever be my inspiration:

    "All for one an' one for all--
      United we stand, divided we fall."

"How about Neils?" queried Captain Scraggs. "Do we continue to
let that ex-deckhand in on our fortunes?"

"If Neils Halvorsen had asked _you_ that question when he come to
rescue you the day you lay a-dyin' o' thirst on that desert
island, wouldn't you have said yes?"

"Sure pop."

"Then don't ask no questions that's unworthy of you," said Mr.
Gibney severely. "I don't want to see none o' them green-pea
trade ethics croppin' up in you, Scraggsy. If it wasn't for that
Swede the sea-gulls'd be pickin' our bones now. Neils Halvorsen
is included in this syndicate for good."

"Amen." This from the honest McGuffey.

"Meetin's adjourned," said Captain Scraggs icily.




CHAPTER XXIX


Under the direction of the crafty commodore, the valuable cargo
of the _Maggie II_ was disposed of in Honolulu. During the period
while the schooner lay at the dock discharging Captain Scraggs
and McGuffey prudently remained in the cabin with the perfidious
mate, in order that, should an investigation be undertaken later
by the Treasury Department, no man might swear that the real
Phineas Scraggs, filibuster, had been in Honolulu on a certain
date. The Kanaka crew of the schooner Mr. Gibney managed to ship
with an old shipmaster friend bound for New Guinea, so their
testimony was out of the way for a while, at least.

When the _Maggie II_ was finally discharged and the proceeds of
her rich cargo nestled, in crisp bills of large denomination, in
a money belt under Mr. Gibney's armpits and next his rascally
skin, he purchased tickets under assumed names for himself,
Scraggs, McGuffey, and Halvorsen on the liner _Hilonian_, due to
sail at noon next day.

These details attended to, the _Maggie II_ backed away from the
dock under her own power and cast anchor off the quarantine
station. The mate was then brought on deck and made to confront
the syndicate.

"It appears, my man," the commodore began, "that you was too
anxious to horn in on the profits o' this expedition, so in a
moment o' human weakness you did your employers an evil deed. We
had it all figgered out to feed you to the sharks on the way
home, because dead men tell no tales, but our sufferin's on that
island has caused us all to look with a milder eye on mere human
shortcomin's. The Good Book says: 'Forgive us our trespasses as
we forgive those what trespass agin us,' an' I ain't ashamed to
admit that you owe your wicked life to the fact that Scraggsy's
got religion an' McGuffey ain't much better. But we got all the
money we need an' we're goin' to Europe to enjoy it, so before we
go we're goin' to pass sentence upon you. It is the verdict o'
the court that we present you with the power schooner _Maggie II_
free gratis, an' that you accept the same in the same friendly
sperrit in which it is tendered. Havin' a schooner o' your own
from now on, you won't be tempted to steal one an' commit
wholesale murder a-doin' it. You're forgiven, my man. Take the
_Maggie II_ with our blessin', organize a comp'ny, an' go back to
Kandavu an' make some money for yourself. Scraggsy, are you
a-willin' to prove that you've given this errin' mate complete
forgiveness by shakin' hands with him?"

"I forgive him freely," said Captain Scraggs, "an' here's my fin
on it."

The unfortunate mate hung his head. He was much moved.

"You don't mean it, sir, do you?" he faltered.

"I hope I may never see the back o' my neck if I don't," replied
the skipper.

"Surest thing you know, brother," shouted Mr. McGuffey and
swatted the deluded mate between the shoulders. "Take her with
our compliments. You was a good brave mate until you went wrong.
I ain't forgot how you sprayed the hillsides with lead the day
Gib an' Scraggsy was took by them cannibals. No, sir-ee! I ain't
holdin' no grudge. It's human to commit crime. I've committed one
or two myself. Good luck to you, matey. Hope you make a barrel o'
money with the old girl."

"Thanks," the mate mumbled. "I ain't deservin' o' this nohow,"
and he commenced to snivel a little.

Mr. Gibney forgot that he was playing a hypocrite's part, and his
generous nature overcame him.

"Dog my cats," he blustered, "what's the use givin' him the
vessel if we don't give him some spondulicks to outfit her with
grub an' supplies? Poor devil! I bet he ain't got a cent to bless
himself with. Scraggsy, old tarpot, if we're goin' to turn over a
new leaf an' be Christians, let's sail under a full cloud o'
canvas."

"By Neptune, that's so, Gib. This feller did us an awful dirty
trick, but at the same time there ain't a cowardly bone in his
hull carcass. I ain't forgot how he stood to the guns that day
off the Coronados when we was attacked by the Mexicans."

"Stake the feller, Gib," advised McGuffey, and wiped away a
vagrant tear. He was quite overcome at his own generosity and the
manner in which it had touched the hard heart of the iniquitous
mate.

Mr. Gibney laid five one-hundred-dollar bills in the mate's palm.

"Good-bye," he said gently, "an' see if you can't be as much of a
man an' as good a sport hereafter as them you've wronged an'
who's forgive you fully and freely."

One by one the three freebooters of the green-pea trade pumped
the stricken mate's hand, tossed him a scrap of advice, and went
overside into the small boat which was to take them ashore. It
was a solemn parting and Mr. Gibney and McGuffey were snuffling
audibly. Captain Scraggs, however, was made of sterner stuff.

"'Pears to me, Gib," he remarked when they were clear of the
schooner, "that you're a little mite generous with the funds o'
the syndicate, ain't you?"

Mr. Gibney picked up a paddle and threatened Scraggs with it.

"Dang your cold heart, Scraggs," he hissed, "you're un-Christian,
that's what you are."

"Quit yer beefin', you shrimp," bellowed McGuffey. "Them
cannibals would have et you if it wasn't for that poor devil of a
mate."

Captain Scraggs snarled and remained discreetly silent.
Nevertheless, he was in a fine rage. As he remarked _sotto voce_
to Neils Halvorsen, five hundred dollars wasn't picked up in the
street every day.

The next day, as the _Hilonian_ steamed out of the harbour,
bearing the syndicate back to San Francisco, they looked across
at the little _Maggie II_ for the last time, and observed that
the mate was on deck, superintending three Kanaka sailors who
were hoisting supplies aboard from a bumboat.

Commodore Gibney bade his first command a misty farewell.

"Good-bye, little ship," he yelled and waved his hand. "Gawd! You
was a witch in a light wind."

"He'll be flyin' outer the harbour an' bound south by sunset,"
rumbled McGuffey. "I suppose that lovely gas engine o' mine'll go
to hell now."

Captain Scraggs sighed dismally. "It costs like sixty to be a
Christian, Gib, but what's the odds as long as we're safe an'
homeward bound? Holy sailor! But I'm hungry for a smell o'
Channel creek at low tide. I tell you, Gib, rovin' and wild
adventure's all right, but the old green-pea trade wasn't so
durned bad, after all."

"You bet!" McGuffey's response was very fervid.

"Them was the happy days," supplemented the commodore. He was as
joyous as a schoolboy. Four long years had he been roving and
now, with his pockets lined with greenbacks, he was homeward
bound to his dear old San Francisco--back to steam beer, to all
of his old cronies of the Embarcadero, to moving picture
shows--to Life! And he was glad to get back with a whole skin.

Seven days after leaving Honolulu, the _Hilonian_ steamed into
San Francisco Bay. The syndicate could not wait until she had
tied up at her dock, and the minute the steamer had passed
quarantine Mr. Gibney hailed a passing launch. Bag and baggage
the happy quartette descended to the launch and landed at Meiggs
wharf. Mr. Gibney stepped into the wharfinger's office and
requested permission to use the telephone.

"What's up, Gib?" demanded Captain Scraggs.

"I want to 'phone for a automobile to come down an' snake us up
town in style. This syndicate ain't a-goin' to come rampin' home
to Gawd's country lookin' like a lot o' Eyetalian peddlers. We're
goin' to the best hotel an' we're goin' in _style_."

McGuffey nudged Captain Scraggs, and Neils Halvorsen nudged Mr.
McGuffey.

"Hay bane a sport, hay bane," rumbled the honest Neils.

"You bet he bane," McGuffey retorted. "Ain't he the old kiddo,
Scraggsy? Ain't he? This feller Adelbert P. Gibney's a farmer, I
guess."

With the assistance of the wharfinger an automobile was summoned,
and in due course the members of the syndicate found themselves
ensconced in a fashionable suite in San Francisco's most
fashionable hotel. Mr. Gibney stored the syndicate's pearls in
the hotel safe, deposited an emergency roll with the hotel clerk,
and banked the balance of the company funds in the names of all
four; after which the syndicate gave itself up to a period of joy
unconfined.

At the end of a week of riot and revelry Mr. Gibney revived
sufficiently to muster all hands and lead them to a Turkish bath.
Two days in the bath restored them wonderfully, and when the
worthy commodore eventually got them back to the hotel he
announced that henceforth the lid was on--and on tight. Captain
Scraggs, who was hard to manage in his cups and the most prodigal
of prodigals with steam up to a certain pressure, demurred at
this.

"No more sky-larkin', Scraggsy, you old cut-up," Mr. Gibney
ordered. "We had our good time comin' after all that we've been
through but it's time to get down to business agin. Riches has
wings, Scraggsy, old salamander, an' even if we are ashore, I'm
still the commodore. Now, set around an' we'll hold a meetin'."

He banged the chiffonier with his great fist. "Meetin' o' the
_Maggie_ Syndicate," he announced. "Meetin'll come to order. The
first business before the meetin' is a call for volunteers to
furnish a money-makin' idee for the syndicate."

Neils Halvorsen shook his sorrel head. He had no ideas. B.
McGuffey, Esquire, shook his head also. Captain Scraggs wanted to
sing.

"I see it's up to me to suggest somethin'." Mr. Gibney smiled
benignly, as if a money-making idea was the easiest thing on
earth to produce. "The last thing I remember before we went to
that Turkish bath was us four visitin' a fortune teller an'
havin' our fortunes told, past, present, an' future, for a dollar
a throw. Anybody here remember what his fortune was?"

It appeared that no one remembered, not even Mr. Gibney. He
therefore continued:

"The chair will app'int Mr. McGuffey an' himself a committee o'
two to wait on one o' these here clairvoyants and have their
fortunes told agin."

McGuffey, who was as superstitious as a negro, seconded the
motion heartily and the committee forthwith sallied forth to
consult the clairvoyant. Within the hour they returned.

"Members o' the syndicate," the commodore announced, "we got an
idea. Not a heluva good one, but fair to middlin'. Me an' Mac
calls on this Madame de What-you-may-call-her an' the minute she
gets a lamp at my mit (it is worthy of remark here that Mr.
Gibney had a starfish tattooed on the back of his left hand, a
full-rigged ship across his breast, and a gorgeous picture of a
lady climbing a ladder adorned the inner side of his brawny right
fore-arm. The feet of the lady in question hung down below the
fringe of Mr. Gibney's shirt sleeve) she up an' says: 'My friend,
you're makin' a grave mistake remainin' ashore. Your fortune lies
at sea.' Then she threw a fit an' mumbled something about a
light-haired man that was' goin' to cross my path. I guess she
must have meant Scraggsy or Neils, both bein' blondes--an' she
come out of her trance shiverin' an' shakin'.

"'Your fortune lies at sea, my friend,' she kept on sayin'. 'Go
forth an' seek it.'

"'Gimme the longitude an' latitude, ma'am,' I says, 'an' I'll
light out.'

"'Look in the shippin' news in the papers to-morrower,' she pipes
up. 'Five dollars, please.'"

"You didn't give her five dollars, did you?" gasped Captain
Scraggs. "Why, Gib my _dear_ boy, I thought you was sober."

"So I was."

"Then, Gib, all I got to say is that you're a sucker. You want to
consult the rest of us before you go throwin' away the funds o'
the syndicate on such tom-fool idees as----"

McGuffey saw a storm gathering on Mr. Gibney's brows, and
hastened to intervene.

"Meetin's adjourned," he announced, "pendin' the issue o' the
papers to-morrow mornin'. Scraggsy, you oughter j'ine the Band o'
Hope. You're ugly when you got a drink in you."

Neils Halvorsen interfered to beg a cigar of Mr. Gibney and the
affair passed over.

At six o'clock the following morning the members of the syndicate
were awakened by a prodigious pounding at their respective
doors. Answering the summons, they found Mr. Gibney in undress
uniform and the morning paper clutched in his hand.

"Meetin' o' the _Maggie_ Syndicate in my room," he bawled. "I've
found our fortune."

The meeting came to order without the formality of dressing, and
the commodore, spreading the paper on his knee, read aloud:

    _For Sale Cheap_

    The stern-wheel steamer _Victor_, well found, staunch
    and newly painted. Boilers and engines in excellent
    shape. Vessel must be sold to close out an estate.
    Address John Coakley, Jackson Street wharf.

"How d'ye know she's a fortune, Gib?" McGuffey demanded. "Lemme look at
her engines before you get excited."

"I ain't sayin' she is," Mr. Gibney retorted testily. "Lemme finish
readin'!" He continued:

    REPORTS PASSING DERELICT

    The steam schooner _Arethusa_, Grays Harbour to Oakland
    Long wharf, reports passing a derelict schooner twenty
    miles off Point Reyes at six o'clock last night. The
    derelict was down by the head, and her rail just showed
    above the water. It was impossible to learn her
    identity.

    The presence of this derelict in the steamer lanes to
    North Pacific ports is a distinct menace to navigation,
    and it is probable that a revenue cutter will be
    dispatched to-day to search for the derelict and either
    tow her into port or destroy her.

"Gentlemen o' the syndicate, them's the only two items in the
shippin' page that looks likely. The question is, in which lies
our fortune?"

Neils Halvorsen spoke up, giving it as his opinion that the
fortune-telling lady probably knew her business and that their
fortune really lay at sea. The derelict was at sea. How else,
then, could the prophecy be interpreted?

"Well, this steamer _Victor_ ain't exactly travelling overland,"
McGuffey suggested. He had a secret hankering to mess around some
real engines again, and gave it as his opinion that fortune was
more likely to lurk in a solid stern-wheel steamer with good
engines and boilers than in a battered hulk at sea. Captain
Scraggs agreed with him most heartily and a tie vote resulted,
Mr. Gibney inclining toward the derelict.

"What're we goin' to do about it, Gib?" Captain Scraggs demanded.

"When in doubt, Scraggsy, old tarpot, always play trumps. In
order to make no mistake, right after breakfast you an' McGuffey
go down to Jackson Street wharf an' interview this man Coakley
about his steamer _Victor_. You been goin' to sea long enough to
know a good hull when you see it, an' if we can't trust Mac to
know a good set of inner works we'd better dissolve the
syndicate. If you two think she's a bargain, buy her in for the
syndicate. As for me an' Neils, we'll go down to the Front an'
charter a tug an' chase out after that there derelict before the
revenue cutter gets her an' blows her out o' the path o' commerce
with a stick o' dynamite."

Forthwith Mr. Gibney and Neils, after snatching a hasty
breakfast, departed for the waterfront, where they chartered a
tug for three days and put to sea. At about ten o'clock Captain
Scraggs and McGuffey strolled leisurely down to Jackson Street
wharf to inspect the _Victor_. By noon they had completed a most
satisfactory inspection of the steamer's hull and boilers, and
bought her in for seven thousand dollars. Captain Scraggs was
delighted. He said she was worth ten thousand. Already he had
decided that heavy and profitable freights awaited the syndicate
along the Sacramento River, where the farmers and orchardists had
been for years the victims of a monopoly and a gentlemen's
agreement between the two steamboat lines that plied between
Sacramento, Stockton, and San Francisco.

On the afternoon of the third day Mr. Gibney and Neils Halvorsen
returned from sea. They were unutterably weary and hollow-eyed
for lack of sleep.

"Well, I suppose you two suckers found that derelict," challenged
McGuffey.

"Yep. Found her an' got a line aboard an' towed her in, an' it
was a tough job. She's layin' over on the Berkeley tide flats,
an' at lowtide to-morrow we'll go over an' find out what we've
got. Don't even know her name yet. She's practically submerged."

"I think you was awful foolish, Gib, buyin' a pig in a poke that
way. I don't believe in goin' it blind. Me an' Mac's bought a
real ship. We own the _Victor_."

"I'm dead on my feet," growled the commodore, and jumping into
bed he refused to discuss the matter further and was sound asleep
in a jiffy.

Mr. Gibney was up bright and early and aroused the syndicate to
action. The tide would be at its lowest ebb at nine thirty-one
and the commodore figured that his fortune would be lying well
exposed on the Berkeley tide flats. He engaged a diver and a
small gasoline launch, and after an early breakfast in a
chop-house on the Embarcadero they started for the wreck.

They were within half a mile of it, heading right into the eye of
the wind, when Captain Scraggs and McGuffey stood erect in the
launch simultaneously and sniffed like a pair of--well, sea-dogs.

"Dead whale," suggested McGuffey.

"I hope it ain't Gib's fortune," replied Scraggs drily.

"Shut up," bellowed Mr. Gibney. He was sniffing himself by this
time, for as the launch swiftly approached the derelict the
unpleasant odour became more pronounced.

"Betcher that schooner was in collision with a steamer," Captain
Scraggs announced. "She was cut down right through the fo'castle
with the watch below sound asleep, an' this here fragrance
appeals to me as a sure sign of a job for the coroner."

The commodore shuddered. He was filled with vague misgivings,
but Neils Halvorsen grinned cheerfully. McGuffey got out a
cologne-scented handkerchief and clamped it across his nose.

"Well, if that's Gib's fortune, it must be filthy lucre," he
mumbled through the handkerchief. "Gib, what _have_ you hooked on
to? A public dump?"

Mr. Gibney's eyes flashed, but he made no reply. They had rounded
the schooner's stern now, and her name was visible.

"Schooner _Kadiak_, Seattle," read Scraggs. "Little old three
sticker a thousand years old an' cut clear through just abaft the
foremast. McGuffey, you don't s'pose this here's a pirate craft
an' just bulgin' with gold."

"Sure," retorted the engineer with a slow wink, "tainted wealth."

Mr. Gibney could stand their heckling no longer. "Looky here, you
two," he bawled angrily. "I got a hunch I picked up a lemon, but
I'm a-willin' to tackle the deal with Neils if you two think I
didn't do right by the syndicate a-runnin' up a bill of expense
towing this craft into port. I ain't goin' to stand for no
kiddin', even if we are in a five-hundred-dollar towage bill. Man
is human an' bound to make mistakes."

"Don't kid the commodore, Scraggsy. This aromer o' roses is
more'n a strong man can stand, so cut out the josh."

"All right, Mac. I guess the commodore's foot slipped this time,
but I ain't squawkin' yet."

"No. Not _yet_," cried Mr. Gibney bitterly, "but soon."

"I ain't, nuther," Captain Scraggs assumed an air of injured
virtue. "I'm a-willin' to go through with you, Gib, at a loss,
for nothin' else except to convince you o' the folly o' makin'
this a one-man syndicate. I ain't a-kickin', but I'm free to
confess that I'd like to be consulted _oncet_ in a while."

"That's logic," rumbled the single-minded McGuffey.

"You dirty welchers," roared the commodore. "I ain't askin' you
two to take chances with _me_. Me an' Neils'll take this deal
over independent o' the syndicate."

"Well, let's dress this here diver," retorted the cautious
Scraggs, "an' send him into the hold for a look around before we
make up our minds." Captain Scraggs was not a man to take
chances.

They moored the launch to the wreck and commenced operations. Mr.
Gibney worked the air pump while the diver, ax in hand, dropped
into the murky depths of the flooded hold. He was down half an
hour before he signalled to be pulled up. All hands sprang to the
line to haul him back to daylight, and the instant he popped
clear of the water Mr. Gibney unburdened himself of an agonized
curse.

In his hands the diver held a large decayed codfish!

Captain Scraggs turned a sneering glance upon the unhappy
commodore while McGuffey sat down on the damp rail of the
derelict and laughed until the tears coursed down his honest
face.

"A dirty little codfishin' schooner," raved Captain Scraggs, "an'
you a-sinkin' the time an' money o' the syndicate in rotten
codfish on the say-so of a clairvoyant you ain't even been
interduced to. Gib, if that's business, all I got to say is:
'Excuse _me_'."

Mr. Gibney seized the defunct fish from the diver's hand, tore it
in half, slapped Captain Scraggs with one awful fragment and
hurled the other at McGuffey.

"I'm outer the syndicate," he raved, beside himself with anger.
"Here I go to work an' make a fortune for a pair of short sports an'
pikers an' you get to squealin' at the first five-hundred-dollar
loss. I know you of old, Phineas Scraggs, an' the leopard can't
change his spots." He raised his right hand to heaven. "I'm through
for keeps. We'll sell the pearls to-day, divvy up, an' dissolve. I'm
through."

"Glad of it," growled McGuffey. "I don't want no more o' that
codfish, an' as soon as we git fightin' room I'll prove to you
that no near-sailor can insult me an' git away with it. Me an'
Scraggsy's got some rights. You can walk on Scraggsy, Gib, but it
takes a man to walk on the McGuffey family."

Nothing but the lack of sea-room prevented a battle royal. Mr.
Gibney stood glaring at his late partners. His great ham-like
fists were opening and closing automatically.

"You're right, Mac," he said presently, endeavouring to control
his anger and chagrin. "We'll settle this later. Take that helmet
off the diver an' let's hear what he's got to report."

With the helmet removed the diver spoke:

"As near as I can make out, boss, there ain't a thing o' value in
this hulk but a couple o' hundred tons o' codfish. She was cut in
two just for'd o' the bulkhead an' her anchors carried away on
the section that was cut off. She ain't worth the cost o' towin'
her in on the flats."

"So that codfish has some value," sneered Captain Scraggs.

"Great grief, Scraggsy! Don't tell me it's sp'iled," cried
McGuffey, simulating horror.

"No, not quite, Mac, not quite. Just _slightly_. I s'pose Gib'll
tack a sign to the stub o' the main mast: 'Slightly spoiled
codfish for sale. Apply to A.P. Gibney, on the premises. Special
rates on Friday.'"

Mr. Gibney quivered, but made no reply. He carefully examined
that portion of the derelict above water and discovered that by
an additional expenditure of about fifty dollars he might recover
an equal amount in brass fittings. The _Kadiak's_ house was gone
and her decks completely gutted. Nothing remained but the
amputated hull and the foul cargo below her battered decks.

In majestic silence the commodore motioned all hands into the
launch. In silence they returned to the city. Arrived here, Mr.
Gibney paid off the launch man and the diver and accompanied by
his associates repaired to a prominent jeweller's shop with the
pearls they had accumulated in the South Seas. The entire lot was
sold for thirty thousand dollars. An hour later they had adjusted
their accounts, divided the fortune of the syndicate equally, and
then dissolved. At parting, Mr. Gibney spoke for the first time
when it had not been absolutely necessary.

"Put a beggar on horseback an' he'll ride to the devil," he said.
"When you two swabs was poor you was content to let me lead you
into a fortune, but now that you're well-heeled, you think you're
business men. All right! I ain't got a word to say except this:
Before I get through with you two beachcombers I'll have all your
money and you'll be a-beggin' me for a job. I apologize for
soakin' you two with that diseased codfish, an' for old sake's
sake we won't fight. We're still friends, but business associates
no longer, for I'm too big a figger in this syndicate to stand
for any criticism on my handlin' o' the joint finances.
Hereafter, Scraggsy, old kiddo, you an' Mac can go it alone with
your stern-wheel steamer. Me an' The Squarehead legs it together
an' takes our chances. You don't hear that poor untootered Swede
makin' no holler at the way I've handled the syndicate----"

"But, Gib, my _dear_ boy," chattered Captain Scraggs, "will you
just listen to re----"

"Enough! Too much is plenty. Let's shake hands an' part friends.
We just can't get along in business together, that's all."

"Well, I'm sorry, Gib," mumbled McGuffey, very much crestfallen,
"but then you hove that dog-gone fish at me an'----"

"That was fortune hittin' you a belt in the face, Mac, an' you
was too self-conceited to recognize it. Remember that, both of
you two. Fortune hit you in the face to-day an' you didn't know
it."

"I'd ruther die poor, Gib," wailed McGuffey.

The commodore shook hands cordially and departed, followed by the
faithful Neils Halvorsen. The moment the door closed behind them
Scraggs turned to the engineer.

"Mac," he said earnestly, "Gib's up to somethin'. He's got that
imagination o' his workin'. I can tell it every time; he gets a
foggy look in his eyes. We made a mistake kiddin' him to-day.
Gib's a sensitive boy some ways an' I reckon we hurt his feelin's
without intendin' it."

"He thrun a dead codfish at me," protested McGuffey. "I love old
Gib like a brother, but that's carryin' things with a mighty high
hand."

"Well, I'll apologize to him," declared Captain Scraggs and
started for the door to follow Mr. Gibney. McGuffey barred his
way.

"You apologize without my consent an' you gotta buy me out o' the
_Victor_. I won't be no engineer with a skipper that lacks
backbone."

"Oh, very well, Mac." Captain Scraggs realized too well the value
of McGuffey in the engine room. He knew he could never be happy
with anybody else. "We'll complete the deal with the _Victor_,
ship a crew, get down to business, an' leave Gib to his codfish.
An' let's pay our bill an' get outer here. It's too high-toned
for me--an' expensive."

For two weeks Captain Scraggs and McGuffey saw no more of Mr.
Gibney and Neils Halvorsen. In the meantime, they had commenced
running the _Victor_ regularly up river, soliciting business in
opposition to the regular steamboat lines. While the _Victor_ was
running with light freights and consequently at a loss, the
prospect for ultimate good business was very bright and Scraggs
and McGuffey were not at all worried about the future.

Judge of their surprise, therefore, when one morning who should
appear at the door of Scraggs's cabin but Mr. Gibney.

"Mornin', Gib," began Scraggs cheerily. "I s'pose you been rolled
for your money as per usual, an' you're around lookin' for a job
as mate."

Mr. Gibney ignored this veiled insult. "Not yet, Scraggsy, I got
about five hundred tons o' freight to send up to Dunnigan's
Landin' an' I want a lump sum figger for doin' the job. We parted
friends an' for the sake o' old times I thought I'd give you a
chance to figger on the business."

"Thanky, Gib. I'll be glad to. Where's your freight an' what does
it consist of?"

"Agricultural stuff. It's crated, an' I deliver it here on the
steamer's dock within reach o' her tackles. No heavy pieces. Two
men can handle every piece easy."

"Turnin' farmer, Gib?"

"Thinkin' about it a little," the commodore admitted. "What's
your rate on this freight? It ain't perishable goods, so get down
to brass tacks."

"A dollar a ton," declared the greedy Scraggs, naming a figure
fully forty cents higher than he would have been willing to
accept. "Five hundred dollars for the lot."

"Suits me." The commodore nonchalantly handed Scraggs five
hundred dollars. "Gimme a receipt," he said.

So Captain Scraggs gave him a receipted freight bill and Mr.
Gibney departed. An hour later a barge was bunted alongside the
_Victor_ and Neils Halvorsen appeared in Scraggs's cabin to
inform him that the five hundred tons of freight was ready to be
taken aboard.

"All right, Neils. I'll put a gang to work right off." He came
out on deck, paused, tilted his nose, and sniffed. He was still
sniffing when McGuffey bounced up out of the engine room.

"Holy Sailor!" he shouted. "Who uncorked that atter o' violets?"

"You dog-gone squarehead," shrieked Captain Scraggs. "You been
monkeyin' around that codfish again."

"What smells?" demanded the mate, poking his nose out of his
room.

"That tainted wealth I picked up at sea," shouted a voice from
the dock, and turning, Scraggs and McGuffey observed Mr. Gibney
standing on a stringer smiling at them.

"Gib, my _dear_ boy," quavered Captain Scraggs, "you can't mean
to say you've unloaded them gosh-awful codfish----"

"No, not yet--but soon, Scraggsy, old tarpot."

Captain Scraggs removed his near-Panama hat, cast it on the deck,
and pranced upon it in a terrible rage.

"I won't receive your rotten freight, you scum of the docks," he
raved. "You'll run me outer house an' home with that horrible
stuff."

"Oh, you'll freight it for me, all right," the commodore retorted
blithely. "Or I'll libel your old stern-wheel packet for you.
I've paid the freight in advance an' I got the receipt."

Captain Scraggs was on the verge of tears. "But, Gib! My _dear_
boy! This freight'll foul the _Victor_ up for a month o'
Fridays--_an' I just took out a passenger license!_"

"I'm sorry, Scraggsy, but business is business. You've took my
money an' you got to perform."

"You lied to me. You said it was agricultural stuff an' I thought
it was plows an' harrers an' sich----"

"It's fertilizer--an' if that ain't agricultural stuff I hope my
teeth may drop out an' roll in the ocean. An' it ain't perishable.
It perished long ago. I ain't deceived you. An' if you don't like
the scent o' dead codfish on your decks, you can swab 'em down with
Florida water for a month."

Captain Scraggs's mate came around the corner of the house and
addressed himself to Captain Scraggs.

"You can give me my time, sir. I'm a steamboat mate, not a grave
digger or a coroner's assistant, or an undertaker, an' I can't
stand to handle this here freight."

Mr. McGuffey tossed his silken engineer's cap over to Scraggs.

"Hop on that, Scraggsy. Your own hat is ground to powder. Ain't
it strange, Gib, what little imagination Scraggsy's got? He'll
stand there a-screamin' an' a-cussin' an' a-prancin'--Scraggsy!
Ain't you got no pride, makin' such a spectacle o' yourself? We
don't have to handle this freight o' Gib's at all. We'll just
hook onto that barge _an' tow it up river_."

"You won't do nothin' o' the sort, Mac, because that's my barge
an' I ain't a-goin' to let it out o' my sight. I've delivered my
freight alongside your steamer and prepaid the freight an' it's
up to you to handle it."

"Gib!"

"That's the programme!"

"Adelbert," crooned Mr. McGuffey, "ain't you got no heart? You
know I got a half interest in the _Victor_----"

"O-oo-oh!" Captain Scraggs groaned, and his groan was that of a
seasick passenger. When he could look up again his face was
ghastly with misery.

"Gib," he pleaded sadly, "you got us where the hair is short.
Don't invoke the law an' make us handle that codfish, Gib! It
ain't right. Gimme leave to tow that barge--anything to keep your
freight off the _Victor_, an' we'll pull it up river for you----"

"Be a good feller, Gib. You usen'ter be hard an' spiteful like
that," urged McGuffey.

"I'll tow the barge free," wailed Scraggs.

Mr. Gibney sat calmly down on the stringer and lit a cigar.
Nature had blessed him with a strong constitution amidships and
the contiguity of his tainted fortune bothered him but little. He
squinted over the tip of the cigar at Captain Scraggs.

"You're just the same old Scraggsy you was in the green-pea
trade. All you need is a ring in yer nose, Scraggsy, to make you
a human hog. Here you goes to work an' soaks me a dollar a ton
when you'd be tickled to death to do the job for half o' that,
an' then you got the gall to stand there appealin' to my
friendship! So you'll tow the barge up free, eh? Well, just to
make the transaction legal, I'll give you a dollar for the job
an' let you have the barge. Skip to it, Scraggsy, an' draw up a
new bill, guaranteein' to tow the barge for one dollar. Then
gimme back $499.00 an' I'll hand you back this receipted freight
bill."

Captain Scraggs darted into his cabin, dashed off the necessary
document, and returning to the deck, presented it, together with
the requisite refund, to Mr. Gibney, who, in the meantime, had
come aboard.

"Whatever are you a-goin' to do with this awful codfish, Gib?" he
demanded.

Mr. Gibney cocked his hat over one ear and blew a cloud of smoke
in the skipper's face.

"Well, boys, I'll tell you. Salted codfish that's been under
water a long time gets most o' the salt took out of it, an' even
at sea, if it's left long enough, it'll get so durned ripe that
it's what you might call offensive. But it makes good fertilizer.
There ain't nothin' in the world to equal a dead codfish, medium
ripe, for fertilizer. I've rigged up a deal with a orchard
comp'ny that's layin' out a couple o' thousand acres o' young
trees up in the delta lands o' the Sacramento. I've sold 'em the
lot, after first buyin' it from the owners o' the schooner for a
hundred dollars. Every time these orchard fellers dig a hole to
plant a young fruit tree they aims to heave a codfish in the
bottom o' the hole first, for fertilizer. There was upwards o'
two hundred thousand codfish in that schooner an' I've sold 'em
for five cents each, delivered at Dunnigan's Landin'. I figger on
cleanin' up about seven thousand net on the deal. I thought me
an' Neils was stuck at first, but I got my imagination workin'----"

Captain Scraggs sank limply into McGuffey's arms and the two
stared at the doughty commodore.

"Hit in the face with a fortune an' didn't know it," gasped poor
McGuffey. "Gib, I'm sure glad you got out whole on that deal."

"Thanks to a lack o' imagination in you an' Scraggsy I'm about
two hundred an' fifty dollars ahead o' my estimate now, on
account o' the free tow o' that barge. Me an' Neils certainly
makes a nice little split on account o' this here codfish deal."

"Gib," chattered Scraggs, "what's the matter with reorganizin'
the syndicate?"

"Be a good feller, Adelbert," pleaded McGuffey.

Mr. Gibney was never so vulnerable as when one he really loved
called him by his Christian name. He drew an arm across the
shoulders of McGuffey and Scraggs, while Neils Halvorsen stood
by, his yellow fangs flashing with pleasure under his walrus
moustache.

"So you two boys're finally willin' to admit that I'm the
white-haired boy, eh?"

"Gib, you got an imagination an' a half."

"One hundred an' fifty per cent. efficient," McGuffey declared.

Neils Halvorsen said nothing, but grinned like the head of an
old fiddle. Mr. Gibney appeared to swell visibly, after the
manner of a turkey gobbler.

"Thanks, Scraggsy--an' you, too, Bart. So you're willin' to admit
that though that there seeress might have helped some the game
would have been deader than it is if it hadn't been for my
imagination?"

Captain Scraggs nodded and Mr. McGuffey slapped the commodore on
the back affectionately. "Aye bane buy drink in the Bowhead
saloon," The Squarehead announced.

"Scraggsy! Mac! Your fins! We'll reorganize the syndicate, an'
the minute me an' Neils finds ourselves with a bill o' sale for a
one quarter interest in the _Victor_, based on the actual cost
price, we'll tow this here barge----"

"An' split the profits on the codfish?" Scraggs queried eagerly.

"Certainly not. Me an' Neils splits that fifty-fifty. A quarter
o' them profits is too high a price to pay for your friendship,
Scraggsy, old deceitful. Remember, I made that profit after you
an' Mac had pulled out o' the syndicate."

"That's logic," McGuffey declared.

"It's highway robbery," Scraggs snarled. "I won't sell no quarter
interest to you or The Squarehead, Gib. Not on them terms."

"Then you'll load them codfish aboard, or pay demurrage on that
barge for every day they hang around; an' if the Board o' Health
condemns 'em an' chucks 'em overboard I'll sue you an' Mac for my
lost profits, git a judgment agin you, an' take over the _Victor_
to satisfy the judgment."

"You're a sea lawyer, Gib," Scraggs retorted sarcastically.

"You do what Gib says," McGuffey ordered threateningly.
"Remember, I got a half interest in any jedgment he gits agin
us--an' what's more, I object to them codfish clutterin' up my
half interest."

"You bullied me on the old _Maggie_," Scraggs screeched, "but I
won't be bullied no more. If you want to tow that barge, Mac, you
buy me out, lock, stock, and barrel. An' the price for my half
interest is five thousand dollars."

"You've sold something, Scraggsy," Mr. McGuffey flashed back at
him, obeying a wink from Mr. Gibney. "An' here's a hundred
dollars to bind the bargain. Balance on delivery of proper
bill-o'-sale."

While Scraggs was counting the money Mr. Gibney was writing a
receipt in his note book. Scraggs, still furious, signed the
receipt.

"Now, then, Scraggsy," said Mr. Gibney affably, "hustle up to the
Custom House, get a formal bill-o'-sale blank, fill her in, an'
hustle back agin for your check. An' see to it you don't change
your mind, because it won't do you any good. If you don't come
through now I can sue you an' force you to."

"Oh! So you're buyin' my interest, eh?"

"Well, I'm lendin' Mac the money, an' I got a hunch he'll sell
the interest to me an' Neils without figgerin' on a profit.
You're a jarrin' note in the syndicate, Scraggsy, an' I've come
to that time o' life where I want peace. An' there won't be no
peace on the _Victor_ unless I skipper her."

Captain Scraggs departed to draw up the formal bill of sale and
Mr. Gibney, drawing The Squarehead and McGuffey to him, favoured
each with a searching glance and said:

"Gentlemen, did it ever occur to you that there's money in the
chicken business?"

It had! Both McGuffey and Neils admitted it. There are few men in
this world who have not, at some period of their lives, held the
same view, albeit the majority of those who have endeavoured to
demonstrate that fact have subsequently changed their minds.

"I thought as much," the commodore grinned. "If I was to let you
two out o' my sight for a day you'd both be flat busted the day
after. So we won't buy no farm an' go in for chickens. We'll sell
the _Victor_ an' buy a little tradin' schooner. Then we'll go
back to the South Seas an' earn a legitimate livin'."

"But why'll we sell the _Victor_?" McGuffey demanded. "Gib, she's
a love of a boat."

"Because I've just had a talk with the owners o' the two
opposition lines an' they, knowin' me to be chummy with you an'
Scraggsy, give me the tip to tell you two that you could have
your choice o' two propositions--a rate war or a sale o' the
_Victor_ for ten thousand dollars. That gets you out clean an'
saves your original capital, an' it gits Scraggsy out the same
way, while nettin' me an' Neils five hundred each."

"A rate war would ruin us," McGuffey agreed. "In addition to
sourin' Scraggsy's disposition until he wouldn't be fit to live
with. Gib, you're a wonder."

"I know it," Mr. Gibney replied.

Within two hours Captain Scraggs's half interest had passed into
the hands of McGuffey, and half an hour later the _Victor_ had
passed into the hands of the opposition lines, to be operated for
the joint profit of the latter. Later in the day all four members
of the syndicate met in the Bowhead saloon, where Mr. Gibney
explained the deal to Captain Scraggs. The latter was dumfounded.

"I had to fox you into selling," the commodore confessed.

"But how about them defunct codfish, Gib?"

"I got the new owners to agree to tow 'em up at a reasonable
figger. When I've cleaned up that deal, we'll buy a schooner an'
run South again."

"You'll run without me, Gib," Scraggs declared emphatically.
"I've had a-plenty o' the dark blue for mine. I got a little
stake now, so I'm going to look around an' invest in a----"

"A chicken ranch," McGuffey interrupted.

"Right-O, Bart. How'd you guess it?"

"Imagination," quoth McGuffey, tapping his forehead,
"imagination, Scraggsy."

Something told Mr. Gibney that it would be just as well if he did
not insist upon having Scraggs as a member of his crew. So he did
not insist. In the afternoon of life Mr. Gibney was acquiring
common sense.

Three weeks later Mr. Gibney had purchased, for account of his
now abbreviated syndicate, the kind of power schooner he desired,
and the Inspectors gave him a ticket as master. With The
Squarehead as mate and Mr. McGuffey as engineer and general
utility man, the little schooner cleared for Pago Pago on a day
when Captain Scraggs was too busy buying incubators to come down
to the dock and see them off.

And for aught the chronicler of this tale knows to the contrary,
the syndicate may be sailing in that self-same schooner to this
very day.

THE END




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