The Millionth Chance

HENRY HOLT March 1 1921

The Millionth Chance

HENRY HOLT March 1 1921

The Millionth Chance

HENRY HOLT

YOU either liked Bob Carew, or, not liking him, wondered why you didn't. He was the least talkative of men in most cireumstances. And yet, one always noticed him. Bob

was one inch short of six feet. His arms were a shade longer than most, his eyes were a reddish brown, and his mouth was a size too wide for perfection in a movie hero. Not that Bob Carew was either a hero or a movie man. In the first place he would have walked, or rather run, from here to Gehenna to avoid being filmed; and in the second place there was no reason why anybody might want to film Bob Carew.

Most of his days had been spent on the sea. He liked to go back once in a while to have a chat with his old friends in Toronto, but always there was the call of the wide ocean that drew him like a magnet. He had been ship’s boy, cook, supercargo, A.B., and mate, and once he rose to the dignity of being skipper, but that glory was short-lived, because when he discovered that the ship’s mate, acting on the owner’s instructions, was bent on losing the vessel for the sake of insurance, he completely altered the mate’s physiognomy with his fist, and subsequently said such unforgettable things to the owner that the owner sought the services of a new skipper.

But there is a tide in the affairs of men which, if you know how to go with it, leads to fat cigars, ease, and a swelling bank balance. And Bob was now making his one best bid for an assured position. He was heading for the island of Santa Basse, in the West Indies, taking with him a weird and wonderful collection of merchandise such as de-

lights the heart of colored gentlemen and colored ladies in that region. His two years as supercargo on a West Indies trading ship had taught him the ropes of that game, and his own intelli-

game, and his own intelligence indicated that Santa Basse should rank as a lesser Paradise so far as his commercial purpose was concerned. So he had gone to New York and laid out every cent he could spare in “trade,” shipped the lot in a freighter as far as San Juan and then arranged with a little schooner to carry his goods and chattels to Santa Basse.

AND the manner of his making that arrangement was /*odd. At San Juan he heard from a shipping agent that the schooner Sea-Lark was going his way, so he went on board and promptly became tongue-tied. For instead of finding there some gnarled, weather-beaten old captain, rum-soaked and inept, he found Barbara Payne. And Miss Payne, who happened to be captain and owner of the Sea-Lark, was both extremely efficient and excellent to look upon. At least, other men had considered her good to look upon, but Bob Carew’s chief desire when he encountered her unexpectedly in the cabin was to glide out of the place, hasten ashore, and mop his brow. At all times women embarrassed him, but when one—and such a one— was sprung upon him in this fashion, his brain cells turned temporarily into pulp. Bob Carew, in spite of his five foot eleven, in spite of the fact that he passed out of his teens a dozen years ago, in spite of the fact that he had a sense of humor, was shy. He had no parlor tricks.

“Pardon me,” he muttered, and would have headed

awkwardly toward the companion-way, hot under the collar, but that Miss Payne checked him.

“Are you the man who’s going to Santa Basse?” she asked, fingering a hasty note that had just come from her shipping agent. The business-like snap in her voice acted as a cold douche on Bob Carew. Within fifteen minutes he had signed a contract, and it was only afterwards he realized that the sum total he had undertaken to pay the owner of the Sea-Lark was just about the figure he had been aiming at all along.

BESIDES Bob’s impedimenta on board, there were a hundred or so crates belonging to an over-fed Dutch trader named Van Tromp, who was bound to an island a little further on than Santa Basse. After the trip had begun Van Tromp spent the greater part of his time eating, sleeping and grumbling. At first he continually buttonholed Bob Carew and whined about the food, the accommodation on board, and life in general, until he found that Bob paid no attention whatever: after that he apparently grumbled to the four winds of heaven for nobody paid any attention to him.

More than once during the first three days out of San Juan, Bob found himself idiotically tongue-tied when he chanced to be alone with the skipper. The first time was when she casually expressed the opinion that they were going to have light winds. Bob scanned the sky, realized that Barbara Payne was the prettiest creature he had ever seen, twiddled his favorite pipe in his fingers till he broke the stem, and then exclaimed “Damn!” quite naturally. He murmured an apology, and moved off, ostensibly to find another pipe. As he went, he heard the girl laughing: it sounded to him like the musical burbling of a brook, and yet he winced.

The second time she addressed him he took his pipe out of his mouth and slowly polished the bowl.

“Don’t break that one,” she urged tauntingly.

Bob looked up and saw merriment in her eyes. There were a hundred things he would have liked to say to the girl, but the words stuck in his throat.

“Yes—I mean, no. Thanks,” he managed with an effort; and just then Barbara had to attend to the set of the mainsail.

The third time, Bob was spontaneous for a moment, to the extent of two consecutive sentences; and Barbara, having by now grasped the secret of his quietness, provided for him one golden hour leaning over the rail at his side, saying little. And before the schooner had been out of port a week Bob Carew lost fifty per cent, of his shyness when he was with Barbara Payne. He still had no parlor tricks, but he often expressed his thoughts with quaint naïveté. Also by then he was hopelessly, finally, and irrevocably in love with Barbara, whom he regarded as something akin to a divinity. Not that he imagined for one moment there was the remotest chance of her falling in love with him.

“But a cat may look at a king,” he pondered grimly when it became fully apparent that life without Barbara would be a howling blank, “and I suppose an ordinary seafaring man like me can look at her. Looking doesn’t do any harm, anyhow.”

Then he fell to wondering how a fellow would go about asking a girl likeBarbara to marry him,if he were something better than a sea-going chap whose only prospect was to take a chance as a trader; if, instead of laughing at him she had rather liked him; if he could talk to a girl for two minutes without feeling like a heifer at a tea party; if—oh, shucks, what was the use! All the same, something had to be done. Love, when you came to experience it, was quite different from the thing novelists wrote about. In the story books the affair was mutual and they glided into one another’s arms. In real life it was distinctly possible to get more pain than pleasure out of love if you were such an all-fired ten thousand horse-power idiot as to fall in love with the wrong girl.

IT WAS on the seventh day out of San Juan that a thin pall of fog settled over the ocean, and Barbara, who took the morning watch, raised her head suddenly and stood in a listening attitude. Half a gale was blowing, and the sea was making rapidly.

“Did you hear something then, or was it only my fancy?” she asked Bob.

“You heard it all right,” replied the passenger. “’Way on the starboard bow, I thought.”

“That’s queer,” commented the captain. “We’re only about four miles off the Taniki rock. Of course, the vessel may only be blowing because of the fog—”

“There she goes again—listen,” Bob interrupted quickly. The deep note of a steamer’s syren boomed faintly over the water. The message it conveyed left no room for doubt. A long drawn out succession of “shorts”—that represents the ultimate degree of agony in a stricken steamer’s call for assistance.

Without a word the girl altered the course of the SeaLark. Again there came that staccato, brass-throated yelp of distress.

“Aye, she’s run on the Taniki rock, good and hard,” said Bob as he peered with set face into the swirling, drifting banks of fog.

“We can’t do much with this craft to help her off, I’m afraid.” He was puzzling over the problem of what steamer could have fouled Taniki. To begin with, the rock was well off the ordinary lane of shipping, and to go on with, ship-masters trading in those waters usually gave that reef a wide berth.

“No, we can’t help her to re-float, but we can take the people off if necessary,” replied Barbara Payne.

“I wonder!” observed Bob in a curious voice which caused the girl to glance at him oddly. But Bob Carew had closed his jaws like a steel trap, nor did he utter a single word again until, right ahead, there loomed the outline of the bellowing steamer Crossley. Steering with consummate skill, the girl brought the schooner up into the wind in deep water, right under the Crossley’s lee. The steamer was a craft of about a thousand tons burthen, which had run head on to the outer ledge of the dreaded Taniki. But it was neither the vessel herself nor her position which held those on the little schooner spell-bound.

Swarming over every part of the deck were dense masses of terrified humanity—ebony-hued natives of the West Indies. At first they greeted the coming of the little SeaLark with a chorus of delighted chattering and shouts; then lapsed into mute misery when the schooner drew near and they realized how small she was.

“Hell!” muttered Bob Carew under his breath. “What’s the answer?”

Handing the wheel over to Kenyon, her mate, Barbara crossed the poop to where Bob stood.

“There’s a white man just going up the bridge ladder,” she said. “Shout and ask him how many of them there

It never occurred to the girl-skipper to wonder why she turned to Bob Carew at this juncture. Kenyon was a perfectly good mate, with perfectly good lungs.

Bob roared the question up the wind.

“Seven hundred colored passengers, and we’ve got smallpox on board,” came back the reply. “You’ll have to take as many as you can and leave the rest.”

BOB glanced along the length of the Sea-Lark, measuring her with his eye. She was about eighty feet long and twenty in beam. Her entire deck would not accommodate all those niggers, even if they stood up and were packed like sardines in a can.

“Are you in touch with any ships by wireless?” Bob asked.

“Our wireless man is down with smallpox and can’t do a thing,” the steamer’s captain shouted back. “We shan’t keep afloat more than six or eight hours. She’ll drift off at high water, and then she’ll soon go down. It’s no use lowering the small boats. Too much sea running. How many of these niggers can you take on board?”

During the last few moments Barbara Payne had been endeavoring to solve that very problem.

“It will mean the sacrificing of our cargo,” she insisted to Bob Carew. “Tell him we will try to squeeze them all on the schooner somehow. It will be a horrible jam, but there’s nothing else for it so far as I can make out. Mr. Kenyon,” she added, swinging round to the mate,

“start ripping the hatches off both holds and commence heaving the cargo over the side as quick as you can.”

“No, no, no!” shrilled Van Tromp, who had been listening anxiously. "You won’t throw one single bale of my goods overboard.”

“Most of it will have to go,” said Miss Payne crisply. “Mr. Carew’s things are stored on top in both holds, so his stuff will all have to be jettisoned.”

Van Tromp danced on the swaying deck, half crazy with impotent rage.

“If you dare to throw a thing of mine over,” he yelled, “I’ll have the ship arrested and— and—”

The mate elbowed him aside and took a Btep forward to attend to the hatches, when Carew, who had been standing motionless, caught Kenyon roughly by the arm and dragged him back.

“Leave those hatches alone!” he rasped. The mate, his mouth agape in sheer astonishment, looked up at Carew who towered several inches above him. Carew could have picked the mate up without effort and dropped him into the sea. •»

“What are you going to do?” the girl demanded sharply “Call it mutiny if you like, or anything else,” sai Carew, “but it’s my things you propose heaving ovei board, and I’m going to have a say in this. The first man who goes near those hatch wedges has to reckon with me.” “Quite right,” Van Tromp assented, hysterically elated.

THE girl glanced at the surging black forms on the stranded steamer’s deck and then at Carew. Was it the loss of cargo he was thinking about, or was it the danger of smallpox? That a mere passenger should usurp her authority on board was intolerable. The position was difficult, for Carew’s sheer physical power was a factor which could not be ignored. And Kenyon, for some

,‘Nobody can throw our things away without our permission, can they, Mr. Carew?”

“I don’t care what your views about cargo are,” declared the girl captain, cuttingly. “There are seven hundred blacks there we must save, somehow; or at least we’ve got to make a stab at saving them. If I could afford it, Mr. Carew,” she added witheringly, “I’d buy you a fresh lot of cargo in place of this. It’s funny how one can be mistaken in people. As for this over-fed specimen of misery”— she gestured scornfully toward Van Tromp—“one might have expected him to behave like a beast any time and every time, but I’d never have guessed that when the pinch came you’d try to set a few bales of cargo against hundreds of lives, whether the men were white, yellow, or black. Now, Mr. Carew, if you have a scrap of decent feeling left in you, slip forward and help them to get that hold empty.”

Carew listened with a cold, determined face. Events of the last few minutes had made a strikingly changed creature of him. His personality now dominated the situation. Besides Kenyon, there were half-a-dozen colored deck hands on board—good enough sailors, but useless in a rough and tumble.

“You don’t seem to realize just what you propose doing,” said Carew, with a touch of deference in his voice. “God knows they’re fairly packed on that steamer, but we’re only about a third her size.”

“If I were a man,” said Barbara Payne bitingly, “I’d knock you overboard and leave you to drown. Kenyon, throw me a belaying pin and you get hold of another. There’s only one way to deal with a situation like this.”

“If Kenyon touches a belaying pin I’ll brain him,” declared Carew. “Miss Payne, I want you to let me handle this mess. I ask you formally. If you don’t agree it doesn’t make any difference. I shall act just the same. And we’re wasting time.”

strange reason, was mightily subdued. Ordinarily Barbara had always banked on him in any emergency. He had never failed her before. True, he was no match for Carew, and Carew had the corpulent Hollander on his side. Barbara bit her lip angrily.

“Just what do you propose?” she asked acidly.

“Something that you wouldn’t agree to,” Carew replied.

“Don’t talk in parables. We’ve got a big job on here, and you’re holding it up with your bullying tactics. Maybe, to you, seven hundred lives don’t sound a lot to save, but they do to me.”

And then, without the slightest selfconsciousness, Bob Carew did the thing which he had regarded as the impossible, and he chose the most unsuitable opportunity in the world for doing it.

“I’m considering all those seven hundred lives, Miss Payne,” he said. “But first of all, I’m considering you. It means more to me to save you than anything ever did mean to me since the year dot. When a man loves a girl he has a right to protect her even against herself, by force if necessary. Now don’t get mad. You needn’t trouble to tell me you think I'm crazy. I know you don’t care a brass button about me. But I’m going to have my way this time, even if it makes you hate me.”

“That story,” the girl retorted, her eyes blazing, “won’t save your paltry bits of cargo.” Then, turning to the mate, she added: “The hatches, please, Mr. Kenyon, and see you are sharp about it.”

Kenyon moved forward to obey, whereupon Carew unhesitatingly landed his fist on the point of the mate’s chin and Kenyon dropped, limp, to the deck.

Barbara Payne was a fighter, who came of fighting stock, but a girl cannot with any hope of success fight a solid mass of muscle and brawn five foot eleven inches high. Her face flushed as her officer fell. Kenyon was a prince among mates.

“You brute!” she said, coldly appraising Carew. Are you now going to serve me the same way?”

“I’ll use force if necessary,”. Carew replied, none too calmly.

“Very well.” The girl shrugged. “You’re prepared for the consequences of course! As you have taken possession of my ship I’ll leave you to it.”

Continued on page 45

The Millionth Chance

Continued from page 11

OHEJmoved forward to the companioned way. “No, you don’t go near that cabin,” said Carew. “Probably you have a revolver there.” Watching her closely, he took the wheel from the colored deckhand who had been keeping the vessel up in the wind.

“We’ll come back for you in a little while,” Carew shouted to the skipper of the stranded steamer; and the Sea-Lark headed due northwest. An hour later she lay hove to under the shelter of a small island. Another island, somewhat larger, lay three hundred fathoms away.

“If you think you can delay saving those niggers long enough to get your stuff ashore here,” said Barbara, who had watched this manoeuvre with smouldering anger, “you have another guess coming. It would take

“I’m sorry to trouble you, Miss Payne,” said Carew, “but this is where you go ashore please, and the quicker you are, the more chance there is for those fellows on the steamer.” Kenyon, who had recovered somewhat, and was now sitting up scowling, glanced quickly at Carew and then at the girl-skipper. No dog ever adored its mistress more devoutly than Kenyon adored Barbara Payne, and some idea of Carew’s intention began to dawn upon him.

“I absolutely refuse to leave the ship,” said the girl.

“That much I anticipated,” said Carew. “You’re going all the same.”

“Wait a minute, Miss,” Kenyon put in, scrambling to his feet. “Say, Mr. Carew, are you going ashore here too?”

“No, but you can if you like.”

“Gee, mister, you’ve got nerve, but I’ll say this. You done the right thing, even if you did paste me on the jaw.”

“It had to be done, Kenyon. You’ll come back with me, of course, won’t you?”

“I get you. Sure I’ll come. We’ll leave all hands here, to make more room on the Sea-Lark.”

“What about Van Tromp?” asked Carew. “It’d teach him a lesson to keep him on board.”

“No, no,” wailed the Hollander. “They haf der smallpox.”

“Well, hurry up over the side then, jelly-fish,” Carew snapped.

Provisions were lowered into the small boat and then Carew turned to Barbara.

“Now, Miss Payne, please,” he urged.

“I have told you, I shall not leave the schooner.”

It was the crucial moment. They faced one another in silence for perhaps ten seconds. There was utter defiance in the girl’s eyes. Not for an instant did she waver. Suddenly Bob Carew took a step forward, gathered her up in his arms as though she were a child, and gently lowered her into the waiting boat.

“It’s for the best, Miss Payne,” he said then. “I hope that. . . that afterwards you’ll not think too much about this part.”

“Pig!” was her ultimate shot.

THE tide had risen perceptibly by the time the Sea-Lark reached the stranded Crossley again. It was delicate work mooring the schooner, but two lines were eventually made fast between the vessels. Five minutes later the Sea-Lark’s hatches were off and a steady stream of bales was being dropped over the side while an equally steady stream of the steamer’s human freight was being passed along to the schooner.

“Is your ship badly holed?” Carew asked one of the Crossley’s officers presently-

“She must have torn half her plates away under the water line on the starboard bow,” was the reply. “The moment her stern lifts high enough she’ll float off and then — good-night! Regular death trap she is, and smallpox too! Those niggers were dying like flies. Phew! Your little boat looked good to us, mister man. It’s going to be a tight squeeze, though. And I’ll bet a banana some idiot’ll soon be wishing that he’s insured this cargo we’re slinging away. Is it insured?” He was tilting ovgr the side a case which Carew happened to know contained close on two hundred dollars worth of merchandise. That was what he had paid for it out of his savings.

“I think not,” replied Carew with a blank expression.

“It’s funny what fools peop'e are, declared the steam-boat officer, seizing another case and rolling it to the rail. “Would you believe it, the Crossley doesn’t carry a cent of insurance. Not satisfied with cutting down the crew until the men led a dog’s life, the owners thought they could save a bit more by not taking out a policy. Just because we never had met with an accident on this run, they decided to take a chance. And now look at the damn thing!” But Carew was not listening. An idea had begun to obsess him. He dismissed it peremptorily, but it refused to be banished. It was a crazy notion. He knew it was a crazy notion. But it ¡ haunted him. Fumbling in a pocket he | found a stub pencil and a scrap of paper. Resting on the top of the cabin he wrote hastily:

“Dear Miss Payne:

“You’re going to be hard hit if the Crossley becomes a total loss, because she isn’t insured and her owners would go into bankruptcy if she sank. Your schooner won’t be fit to use again for some time. But when the Crossley drifts off this rock she’ll be a salvage job as long as she keeps afloat. And so long as I stay on her, representing you, you’re entitled to salvage money. That’s the fair way to put it, because really I had no right to turn you off your own ship, and you might have made a shot at salvaging the Crossley yourself if I’d let you. If ever I get ashore again anywhere I’ll put the matter in the hands of your agents at San Juan. If I don’t get ashore again it’ll be because I’ve made a big blunder, just as I blundered over another big thing. You know,what I mean, though I won’t {sayJanything about it now except that I madeíyou hate me instead of love me.

“BOB CAREW.”

WHEN the holds were sufficiently empty, the black passengers were passed down below, where they huddled mutely. The after-hold was reported packed. There were still a hundred men to transfer to the schooner. Presently the forward hold was full, the cabin was a seething mass of black humanity and there was barely room on the deck to work the ship. Then Carew elbowed his way to Kenyon’s side.

“Listen, Kenyon,” he said, speaking in a quick jerky way. “This schooner mustn’t go near the island where Miss Payne is, see? You must land these chaps on the larger island. You understand, Kenyon?”

“You bet your sweet life we aint going to run any risk of her getting smallpox,” retorted the mate. “That’s what I was scared of for her.”

“You’re a corker,” said Carew with a grin. “Sorry I had to hit you. And, Kenyon, I want you to give this letter to Miss Payne. You can row across and pass it over.”

“But why don’t you give her the letter yourself?” queried Kenyon. “You’re all right, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but I may not be, presently,” replied Bob Carew. “Now let’s push on with the job.”

The fog had been steadily getting thicker. During the last few minutes it was barely possible to see the Crossley from the schooner. Every soul on the steamer had been transferred to the Sea-Lark. The moorings were being cast off. Quietly, Carew slipped into the water over the schooner’s stern and struck out. The current against which he had to swim was fairly strong, but gradually he won his way toward the stranded vessel. Seizing a line that hung over the side, he drew himself up until, panting but safe for the present, he stood on the Crossley’s deck. Already the little schooner was scudding away, out of sight.

“Well,” Carew muttered, “it’s a chance in ten hundred thousand, I suppose, but there’s always the one odd chance.”

First he went below. His inspection there revealed little. The water-tight door aft of the injury to the plates had been closed, but water was gushing about in the engine room. Exactly what that signified Carew could not be sure. It depended partly on whether the water got into the engine room before that door was shut, or after. Anyway, the position looked black. Moreover,, the steamer’s stern

had by now risen considerably with the tide and the vessel was rocking ominously. There was no doubt she would slide off her granite bed before long. What would happen soon after was obvious enough. It might happen within a few minutes. IIow much longer she would remain afloat was problematical.

The man made his way back to the deck and noticed with satisfaction that the fog was drifting away. There was still thick weather, but it was improving. He glanced anxiously at his watch. In another half hour the tide would be at its highest.

THERE came a grating vibration through the ship.

“She’s going!” Carew muttered aloud. Again the grating, and then, having floated off the rock, the steamer began to roll sluggishly. Her bows were so low in the water that the well-deck forward was awash. Her stern, raised ten feet, left the propeller sticking up in the air. She slewed clear of the sheltering rock and then wallowed hoggishly in the trough of the sea. For a time that water-tight door would help to keep her up. But for how long? When she did go it would be a clean dive, head foremost. And Carew was powerless.

A white-capped comber, mountain high, raced down upon the Crossley. It seemed to pause for an instant fifty feet away, as though gloating over its victim, or gathering strength for the onslaught. Gripping a stanchion firmly and with eyes narrowed to mere slits, Carew watched the mighty wave. There was a crash as the solid wall of water hit the steel plates. The steamer heeled far over and was asmother. For a full minute she lay like a wounded, beaten creature, and then slowly, painfully, thrust her hulk upward, the water cascading over her lee rail. Carew’s arms had almost been torn from their sockets by the swirl. A few more like that would of necessity settle matters.

“Still,” he grunted, wiping his eyes of the stinging salt,“ there’s always the millionth chance!”

npHE gale had subsided. Out of the -*■ grey dawn chugged the tramp steamer Para Maid. The sea was leaden and unruffled, save for the long green groundswell which rolls eternally in those waters. On the bridge Captain Bowerman chewed the butt of a cigar and shook his head for the twentieth time. He was aweary, but he didn’t intend to turn in before this girl at his side ended her vigil. The silvery-haired old skipper was proud of his own endurance. His eyes were heavy, but nothing in petticoats was going to beat him at his own game. Neither he nor Barbara Payne had moved from the bridge for forty consecutive hours.

“The sea’s a big place,, Miss,” he said, scanning the vague horizon, “and from what you tell me the Crossley couldn’t keep afloat long. And with three days drifting—•”

Barbara’s form stiffened. Something dark, almost awash, on the starboard bow, had caught her eye. Laying a hand on old Bowerman’s arm she pointed. Her lips moved but her words were inaudible. Bowerman gave a quick order to the man at the wheel, and the bluff bow of the Para Maid slewed round.

“By heck,” said Bowerman a few moments later, “but it’s a ship, sure enough, or rather what remains of one.”

And then they were both grimly silent as the tramp chugged and coughed her way nearer. It wasn’t a pretty sight—a deserted steamer lying over almost on her side, nine-tenths submerged, rolling drunkenly in the swell. Forward, the green water gurgled over her. Half the bridge was beneath the surface.

Bowerman manoeuvred the Para Maid around the derelict and then stopped along-

“Everything swept clean away, Miss,” said the old skipper. “She’s had a gruelling in that gale. Nobody aboard of her. She’ll be slipping to the bottom any minute now.” He pulled the syren lanyard as a matter of form, and the Para Maid’s deep brass-throated cry echoed over the silent ship and the silent sea.

DARBARA was standing with both ■*-* hands tightly gripping the bridge rail. It was for her sake that Bob Carew had done this. She knew well enough, now, why he had forced her off the schooner, but she would never have gone unless

compelled by physical force, even though it had meant being packed among seven hundred niggers all more or less tainted with the germs of smallpox.

Bowerman put his hand on the telegraph to ring for steam.

“Wait,” said Barbara in a queer, sharp voice. “I want you to drop a boat, please, and let me go aboard there for a moment.”

“Why—why, what’s the use?” asked Bowerman.

"None, perhaps, but drop a boat, please.” “When she goes down she’ll pull you under—oh, well, if you feel like that about it,” he added as he caught the girl’s appealing glance. “But remember, I’ve warned you. Jenkins, slip that boat out,” he added, “and be smart about it.”

Two seamen rowed Barbara across the intervening water. With tightly compressed lips the girl clambered on to the side of the Crossley’s after wheel house, and stood there a few moments surveying the desolate ruin of the steamer. Presently, catching hold of a rope, she made her way along the steeply sloping deck as far as the deck house. The vessel was lurching heavily over to port. The starboard half of the deck house was well out of water.

Barbara peered into a yawning doorway and then uttered a stifled cry. The form of a man was lying in the further corner. A moment later she was stooping over him.

DOB CAREW came slowly back from -L* a land of vague shadows, and his first clear impression was that he had passed into eternity. Also, he gathered that eternity was very delightful because he could hear a voice calling him, and the owner of that voice had been dearer— much dearer—to him than life itself. There was a throbbing pain in his head, where he had struck it in falling but that was a trifle.

“Bob, Bob!”

He was on the point of opening his eyes wonderingly, when a marvellous thing happened. Two warm lips were pressed to his for a moment. And then he knew this was not eternity.

“Bob! Bob, dear!”

He opened his eyes and looked at her. “Barbara! How did you get here?”

“I—we came to take you off. Can you get up? This ship will sink soon. There’s a steamer lying alongside.”

“You kissed me, Barbara. You know you did. I thought at first we’d each been fitted with a pair of wings. I couldn’t believe—Barbara, you kissed me! Is there any reason why you shouldn’t do it again?”

The girl flushed. It was not shame but joy which brôught the color to her cheeks.

“Not now,” she said hurriedly. “Try to get up. Be quick.” He raised himself on his elbow. “Come along,” the girl added. “We’ll have you safe on the other steamer in a few minutes.”

He climbed to the deck and surveyed the wallowing Crossley.

“Come along. Hurry!” Barbara urged. Bob remained still, holding on to a

stanchion.

“Wait a bit,” he said. “I thought from what you said that she was just going under.”

“She is. Look at her to’gallant fo’c’sle; it’s awash, and so is her number one hatch on the main deck.”

The man shook his head.

“This is Thursday morning, isn’t it? She’s been exactly like this since Tuesday night when a big one nearly made her turn turtle. Don’t ask me what’s keeping her up: bulk-heads holding when they ought to have given away long ago, I suppose. How far is it to Lanea? That ought to be the nearest beach, as far as I can reckon.” “About two hundred miles, I should think.,, Why? We could never tow her

“Couldn’t we? I’d like to know why not. She’ll sag like a fat hog, she won’t steer a cent’s worth, and she’ll try to break our hearts on the job. But she’s fair salvage as long as she floats, Barbara, and if I can only get her on a lee shore at high water, nothing else matters. Just wait till I’ve had a talk with the skipper of that steamer.”

I_I ALF an hour later, with a steel hawser f made fast, the derelict Crossley was being slowly towed stem first, in the direction of Lanea. Ordinarily, Captain Bowerman was far from being a profane man,

but during the next eighty hours there were moments when recording angel was either kept busy or turned a deaf ear. For the cranky burden in the Para Maid’s wake was as an endless nightmare to the skipper. Apart from the fact that it was only by an apparent miracle that she kept afloat at all, she yawed and sagged and was inconceivably mulish; but every hour, on an average, the Para Maid staggered three miles nearer Lanea under the burden.

Meanwhile Bob Carew remained in his bunk, for the injury to his head had been severe. It was at sunset on the third evening, just as the loom of Lanea appeared faintly on the horizon, that he came on deck again. He found Barbara leaning over the rail, and went to her side.

“Penny for your thoughts,” he said.

“I was just wondering how much you would make out of this salvage job,” she said. “Bowerman’s bargain with you was very fair. You ought to clear quite a

“I wouldn’t touch a cent of it,” he replied. “It’s yours. Didn’t you get my note?”

“I got a note, yes. But I’m not a pirate. I didn’t salvage the Crossley.”

He moved closer toward her.

“Barbara,’’ he said huskily, “tell me I wasn’t dreaming. I can’t believe now that it’s true. You did kiss me, didn’t you?” “The boards were wet and I—I slipped forward,” she said, her face averted.

Again, now that a crisis was at hand, Bob lost all self-consciousness, and all shyness.

“Look,” he said, glowing. “There’s old Captain Bowerman staring at us, and that raw-boned Scots mate, and several of the deck hands are in full view. If you don’t confess now that you kissed me I shall do what I’ve wanted to do every minute since I first set eyes on you. I shall take you right in my arms in front of everybody and kiss you a thousand times.” “Pig!” replied Barbara; but for a brief second she turned her scarlet cheeks toward him and Bob saw something in her eyes which made him radiant.

Very gently he placed his hand on hers and her fingers became entwined in his.

“But, Barbara,” he said haltingly, “I can’t understand it a bit, even now. I mean, for the life of me I can’t see why you —well darn it, you’re a queen among women, and I’m just a great hulking—” “From the very first,” replied Barbara, smiling, “you never stood a ghost of a chance of escaping, until you flung me ashore and went off in my ship and tried to drown yourself on the Crossley. Penny for your thoughts, now.”

“I was just thinking,” said Bob, “that with this salvage money we shall be able to build a house somewhere to live in. Anywhere you like; I don’t care. Say, Barbara, quick, there isn’t a soul looking.”

But from the bridge Captain Bowerman saw, and he wagged his silvery old head. The matter had his entire approval.