THE TIMBER PIRATE

CHARLES CHRISTOPHER JENKINS October 1 1922

THE TIMBER PIRATE

CHARLES CHRISTOPHER JENKINS October 1 1922

THE TIMBER PIRATE

CHARLES CHRISTOPHER JENKINS

STRANGE events took place on the Nannabijou Limits during the morning of the day Hammond left by tug for Kam City.

Josephine Stone rose early after a restless night of nervous dread of she knew not what. There had been disturbing incidents that had contributed to her trepidation. When she bad returned to the island after her fright at encountering the Indian wizard, Ogima Rush, on the trail, she found Mrs. Johnson, her companion, was absent. Inquiry of her Indian woman-of-all-work, brought out fragmentary information that Mrs. Johnson had left shortly after Miss Stone and Hammond had set out on their trip up Nannabijou Hill.

“Two men come in boat,” said the girl, “and big lady go way with them.”

“But, Mary,” insisted Miss Stone, "did she leave no message - didn’t she tell you any words to tell me?”

“Maybe tell Mary—don’t know. They talk fast. Walk fast. Go way fast -in put-put boat. Maybe go some place big lady know, for she laugh and look—glad, Mary think she say she not come back for long time.”

“Mary,” Miss Stone demanded, “did you see the men give Mrs. Johnson a piece of paper to read before she left?”

“Maybe give piece of paper. Mary don’t know.”

It was utterly no use. The girl could tell her nothing and her brother Henry, who looked after the boats and cut the wood when he was not engaged in the glorious Indian pursuit of doing nothing, was even more stoically stupid.

After a night of fitful rest, when she had tried to compose her mind that everything would turn out all right, she rose with an ominous presentiment. Even after she had had breakfast and had gone out for a short stroll around the island, the glory of the autumn morning did not tend to dissipate her depression.

As she was nearing the cottage door on her return, the white glare of a large, bell-shaped military tent struck on the clearing of a hill some distance south on the lakeshore caught her attention. Soon picturesque figures appeared about the tent—stalwart-looking chaps in scarlet tunics, stiff-brimmed stetsons and dark trousers with wide gold braid stripes. She instantly recognized them as Canadian mounted police and remembered that Acey Smith had said the day previous that an outpost of the mounties would possibly be stationed somewhere near Amethyst Island.

The young policemen were busying themselves about a small camp-fire, evidently preparing an outdoor breakfast, their gay chatter and outbursts of laughter ringing

out loudly, strangely clear on the limpid morning air. Then from out of the woods there came a single soft stroke of the gong of Nannabijou. THE KAM CITY PULP & PAPER CO., of which Norman T. Gildersleeve is the head, hold a lease of the Nannabijou limits■ They are bound, however, to have, a large mill in fulloperation by Oct. 23, failing which their lease goes to the North Star Towing and Construction Co., which is directed by a mysterious and powerful financial magnate, .1. C. X. This company is under contract to supply the Kam City Co. with the raw material which will enable them to run the mill. Bonis Hammond, an ex-newspaperman, meets Gildersleeve, who suspects treachery on the part of the North Star Company. He engages Hammond’s services and instructs him to secure a job with the North Star Company and to learn anything he can. Hammond applies to Acey Smith, the superintendent, of the North Star Co. at the limits, ivho gives him a nominal position with nothing to do. Hammond discovers that a Miss Josephine Stone is staying at a summer cottage arid recognizes her as a girl he had seen on the train when Gildersleeve engaged him. Hammond leaves the limits for Kam City where he meets Gildersleeve and not feeling quite satisfied with his indefinite position decides to leave Gildersleeve’8 employ and return to Nannabijou where he can look after Josephine’s safety. The figures around the campfire stood one moment in silent mystification; then, as if they bad simultaneously made the discovery, their gaze was turned on the figure of Josephine Stone. One of the men focussed a field-glass upon her, and the girl, embarrassed by the attention she was provoking, moved back into the shelter of the trees. She now heartily wished she had never come to Amethyst Island—that she had not pressed on Acey Smith to bring about a meeting with J. C. X. If J. C. X. were a presentable human being of sane and upright character, why was it not possible for Acey Smith to induce him to come to meet her, instead of asking her, an unprotected stranger, to journey she knew not where to gain the information referred to in his letter? JOSEPHINE STONE was startled from her reverie by the parting of the shrubbery down by the island shore. Five tall, powerful-looking Indians sprang into view. In the lead was a ghastly figure—the Indian Medicine Man who had so startled her on the trail yesterday. A face more sinister than his would be difficult to conceive. Dark, almost to the blackness'of an African, his

features _bespoke evil cunning and a sense of power that was made the more disconcerting by the livid red gashes on the cheekbones and by the brilliant jetblack eyes around which the whites showed garishly. Straight, lank black hair fell to his shoulders, where row upon row of glistening white wolves’ teeth were arrayed. He wore no head adornment save a single eagle’s feather stuck in a band of purple at the back of his head.

“Henry!” Josephine Stone called to her Indian man-of-all-work. The latter and his sister came out of the house and took places by her side, but she could see they were quaking with fear.

The quintette from the woods came to an abrupt halt before them. For the moment Josephine Stone felt reassured on noting they carried no arms. The weird figure in the foreground bowed low. while his four companions stood motionless as carved statues.

“Wonderful white lady,” he addressed her in low, guttural tones whose enunciation was perfect. “Ogima Bush, the Medicine Man, brings this message: It is the will of Ogima’s master that the white lady go from here.”

In her trepidation and bewilderment, Josephine Stone could scarcely find words to reply. “I do not understand,” she faltered. "Am I—ordered off this island?”

The Medicine Man bowed again. “It is the will of Ogima’s master,” he repeated. “The white lady is to go from here with Ogima. No harm will come to

His eyes flamed upon Henry and his sister standing by her side, as he addressed them sharply; commands in the Objibway tongue that were like flying knife-blades.

Like galvanized automatons, Miss Stone's servants moved away and marched down to the waterfront.

Their treacherous behaviour brought out the spirit of the girl. For the moment, in her disgust, she forgot her own perilous predicament. “Cowards!” she cried after them, “to be frightened by a cheap fakir!”

“As for you,” and she turned her flashing eyes upon the Medicine Man, “go back and tell your master the white lady says he can go—to the devil!”

White with anger she swayed, a beautiful figure of defiance—a fragile white woman, alone, mocking a powerful savage. The Medicine Man’s head went up, his black eyes gleaming admiration—and something else, something that burned into her very soul in its ravishing masterfulness. His lips parted and from them came a sibilant gasp.

Next instant he stepped forward; a swift, pantherlike movement. She sprang out of his grasp and swift as light sped back through the cottage door. From a handbag just inside she snatched out a small automatic. She whirled, pointing the pistol into his face. “Now, you get out of here,” she cried, “or I’ll—shoot to kill!” Ogima Bush paused. But instead of jumping back, he drew himself to his full height and calmly folded his arms, the faintest traces of a smile about his mouth as he looked down into the muzzle of the deadly little gun. “If wonderful white lady shoot,” he said calmly, “she see a man die.”

IN THAT one moment-, for all his wicked hideousness, the Indian was magnificent. He was facing death, gambling on one remote chance that she could not thus deliberately slay him.

•Josephine Stone hesitated, her finger trembling at the trigger. She never exactly knew how it happened so quickly, but in the winking of an eye the red man’s left hand flew out and closed over her wrist and fingers. The automatic spat harmlessly past his cheek out into the open and was flung from her hand to the floor. She felt herself whisked from her feet as lightly as if she had been a child.

She scratched and tore at his face and throat impotently as he leaped through the doorway and raced across the island to the beach.

Josephine Stone screamed and screamed again. He made no attempt to stop her; his low, mocking laugh was her only answer. But over his shoulder she saw that her eries had had the desired result.

Five mounted policemen standing. in astonishment by their tent onthe hill up the lakeshore sprang forward and tore down toward the island.

Ogima Bush with his burden stepped into the stern of a big rowboat, and at his command two of his husky bucks bent over the oars and made the craft fairly shoot across the intervening gap to the mainland. The others of the party had apparently crossed previously.

The bow of the boat was barely beached when Ogima Bush leaped out into the shallow water with the girl. As if by magic the Indian oarsmen disappeared into the curtain of the woods. The Medicine Man followed, tearing through the trees and dense growth as swiftly and skilfully as a flying moose, at the same time protecting her se that scarcely a branch scratched against her face or caught in her garments.

Far behind she could occasionally catch sounds of the floundering efforts of the pursuing policemen. Twice she tried to cry out to attract their attention, but all her strength seemed to have left her and it was all she could do to ward off a swoon. He seemed to carry her with as great ease as he might a babe, and she had to admit to herself with a certain deference and respect.

The crashings of the policemen through the bush behind them grew fainter and fainter and finally were lost in the distance.

Presently Ogima Bush stepped out upon a winding man-wide trail. He stood listening a moment then gave vent to three calls like a crow. An answering “Caw, caw, caw,” came from the right just ahead. The Medicine Man plunged forward.

Another turn brought them to what was to Josephine Stone more familiar territory. They were on the trail that led across Solomon Creek to the foot of the cliffs of Nannabijou. She now discerned that they had come by a more difficult but much shorter route than the one by which she and Louis Hammond had come up the day previous. At the approach to the creek bridge four Indians stepped out each holding a handle of a crude sedan built of poles and cedar boughs. Muttering low commands in the Objibway tongue, the Medicine Man placed Josephine StoDe on the cross seat fashioned between the two main poles. The girl recognized the folly of offering further resistance to her captors; her only resource now, she knew, was to await a strategic moment for escape. At a grunt from Ogima Bush the carriers plunged forward and across the bridge with their burden, the Medicine Man striding behind them.

The young woman experienced a distinct sense of relief at being free from the encircling arms of the grisly Indian. She now had opportunity of scrutinizing the four carriers. They were not any of them the same Indians as those who had accompanied the Medicine Man to her cottage. Each of these men wore a single eagle’s feather in his hair, similar to the one affected by the Medicine Man. The girl remembered that the

single feather was the insignia of chiefship and that no red man save a witch doctor or headman of the tribe dared venture into the zone of the Cup of Nannabijou, whose black cliffs frowned menacingly upon^her from

above.

JOSEPHINE STONE’S feelings were a mixture of wonder and apprehension as the strange-looking party crossed Solomon Creek, toiled up the trail and finally debouched into the passageway in the cliffs that led to the tunnel she and Hammond had visited.

In the interim she had time for cool reflection. Rescue was for the present beyond question away up in these wild hills, and she knew any attempt on her part at escape would be equally hopeless. It would be quite as futile to attempt to gain information as to the object of her abduction from her sombre captors.

Both Acey Smith and Louis Hammond must soon learn of her abduction through the police who had witnessed it. But would they be capable of reaching her in the fastness that Ogima Bush was having her taken to? She had now no doubt the rendezvous was the Cup of Nannabijou, hut the purpose of her enforced visit she could in no wise divine.

Her reflections were cut short by the sudden entrance of the party into the gloom of the tunnel, down which they carried her carefully to the point where it opened out on the rocky brink of the roaring mountain torrent. The bearers paused and let the sedan down on the four short posts that served for legs. Not one of them spoke or committed a motion. She glanced backward. Had it not been for the blinking eyes of the men behind her, they could have represented figures of bronze. Ogima Bush had disappeared.

Her eyes were momentarily blinded by a wicked green flash of light that illuminated the passageway, and with it came a deep gong-like alarum from above.

There was a vibrating, thundering sound, and with its advent the waters in the stream channel began to drop; dwindled swiftly to a mere trickle and finally disappeared entirely except for the moisture retained on the smoothworn rock of its bed.

Amazement was still upon Josephine Stone when she heard Ogima Bush utter a guttural command at her side. He had reappeared as silently as he had dropped out of sight and now walked with a firm hand on the side of the sedan as the bearers carried It down the stone steps to the bed of the stream.

They moved only about fifty or sixty yards, around a very abrupt curve, when they came to a stop opposite another short flight of steps leading to a tunnel through the cliffs similar to the one by which they had entered the stream-bed below.

Once in the tunnel, Ogima Bush again disappeared. Josephine Stone heard the gonglike alarum, the roar of released torrents, and the waters went sweeping down the channel they had just emerged

Just how the stream was diverted from and returned to the portion of its course that formed a section of the passageway up into the Cup she was curious to understand. She fancied that a dam or shut-off was manipulated by someone in charge above on signals sent by means of the gong.

In the weird novelty of it all the girl almost forgot her own precarious situation; that she was the captive of a lawless Indian magician, whose cunning, wicked face was an index of the unscrupulous, ruthless soul that lay behind the black eyes whose whites showed with such savage garishness.

With a suddenness that made her eyes wince they moved out from the semigloom of the tunnel to the bright sunlight of the open.

They were on the inside of the Cup of Nannabijou.

CHAPTER XVIII In the Cup

JOSEPHINE STONE gasped involuntarily at the restful beauty of the scene that lay before her.

It was like a bit of some fantastic fairyland cached way up in the hills, surrounded on all sides as it was by what seemed an unbroken and impregnable wall of black cliffs.

To her left and occupying almost half the area inside the Cup right up the walls nearby, where its overflow escaped through a narrow opening, reposed a mountain lake like a silver-grey mirror reflecting the wild cliffs on the further side in absolute clarity of detail. From the point by which the party had entered the land rose at a gentle grade until it reached the foot of the walls of rock possibly three-quarters of a mile away. Back of the cleared area of green sward at the lake-front was a great forest of glistening white birch trees making a natural background for a landscape picture indescribably perfect in the dull gold of the morning sunlight.

But it was the vast green plot across which the carriers were transporting her on a winding, gravelled walk, bordered on either side with shrubs and small electric light standards such as are used in city parks, that most amazed the young woman. Miniature fountains, built of amethyst-encrusted rock, were set out here and there in little green “islands” isolated by means of linked circles branching out at regular intervals from the main gravelled path.

Before them, in the center of the great lawn, stood a big rambling building, constructed of unbarked cedar, with screened verandahs and odd-looking little towers at its corners. Some little distance from this chateau was a smaller building and before it on high, white-painted poles were what were unmistakably wireless aerials. Heavy copper wires carried up on a series of poles from a point back in the opening of the cliffs indicated that somewhere in the cascades formed by the overflow of the lake a hydro-electric plant was located, whence the current was brought for light and power to this strange habitation in the heart of the wilderness.

Orice Josephine Stone looked back into the face of Ogima Bush. On the instant she thought she caught a quizzical, amused expression on bis swarthy features, as though the Medicine Man were actually enjoying her bewilderment. But his features relasped as quickly into the grim, stoical lines they habitually held, so that only the wicked eyes above the livid red gashes in his cheeks seemed in any way alive and human. As the party approached the chateau, a plump, middle-aged woman with a kindly, beaming face came out on the verandah and down the steps to the walk.

It was Mrs. Johnson, .Miss Stone s companion.

The Indians eased down the sedan, and, as Miss Stone stepped out, quickly carried it away to the rear of the chateau, Ogima Bush striding away with them.

"Josie!” cried the elder woman as ahe embraced the other. “I was really beginning to think something had happened.”

Bewildered, the girl looked into the face of her friend. “Happened?” she echoed. “I should say something has happened. I never dreamed of meeting you here.”

“Why Josie, dear, what’s wrong?

Didn’t you send word for me to come yesterday morning?”

“I send word? I never sent any such word: I didn’t know I was

coming myself!”

“Welt, for the land’s sake! They came after you had gone away with Mr. Hammond yesterday morning and told me you were moving right away back to a bungalow in the mountain. Mr. Smith said ”

“Mr. Smith, the superintendent?

Was he there?”

“Why, yes, Josie. It was he who suggested that it would much facilitate matters if I went first and saw that the Indian help set the bungalow in order. He was awfully nice about it, and they took me around the other side of the point in his motorboat. Then the Indians carried me up in that sedan to the entrance you came through to-day.”

“Well!” It was all Josephine Stone could say for her pent-up indignation.

So this was Acey Smith’s work!

She saw through it all now. He had thought she would immediately accept his suggestion yesterday morning and come up to this place: so sure had he been, that he had lured Mrs. Johnson up here while she was out with Louis Hammond.

Then—then when she had refused unless he explained, he had hired that hateful, horrible Indian and his band to carry her off by force. When she next saw Acey Smith—well, he’d know a piece of her mind about it, she thought angrily.

But the elder woman was proceeding: “When the afternoon passed and you didn’t come, I began to feel worried, Josie, until word was brought up by one of the Indians that you couldn’t come until this morning. I was a little nervous in that big house all alone except for those Indians, but they.seemed ready to do everything for me and I kept the electric lights going all night. Really, dear, it’s a wonderful place. Like something you’d read about in a story-book—old, old furniture, great big rooms and huge fire-places and wall mirrors. And away off in one wing is a library full of queer books and back of it again is a laboratory such as scientists use. But it’s locked up and you can see through the glass door that there’s dust over everything and it hasn’t been used for

But Josephine Stone was too exhausted by her exciting morning’s experience to talk, let alone go about exploring the house. Her limbs were trembling under her as she entered the door. The reaction of a sleepless night and the events of the morning were commencing to tell on her. So, directly, after Mrs. Johnson had procured her a hot cup of tea, she went to the room in the western end of the building which the elder woman said had been set aside for her. She flung herself on the bed without troubling to even take her shoes off. and pulling the coverlet over her dropped off to sleep immediately.

IT WAS two hours later -almost eleven o’clock—when she awoke, quite refreshed. There was a light tapping at her chamber door. She leaped from the bed, adjusted her rumpled hair by the glass and smoothed out her skirt. She opened the door to find Mrs. Johnson in the hall accompanied by two Indians bearing a hamper. The Indians, at Mrs. Johnson’s direction, carried the hamper into the room and departed.

To her delight. Miss Stone found it to contain, neatly

packed, her wardrobe from the cottage at Amethyst Island as well as her toilet articles and other personal effects.

“That awful-looking Indian and the two that just went out brought it,” explained Mrs. Johnson, which set Josephine Stone pondering over the sagacity which the wily Ogima Bush must have employed to revisit the Island and safely spirit away her belongings under the very noses of the police.

While she was dressing, Miss Stone told the elder woman as much as she thought it policy to tell her of the events in connection with her forcible removal from Amethyst Island to the Cup of Nannabiiou.

Mrs. Johnson listened with growing amazement. “I had thought —in fact, I was sure—that it was an arrangement between you and Mr. Smith,” she gasped. “I had no

“Oh, it was—in a way, pre-arranged,” hastily replied the girl, “but it was not entirely according to what I planned. Do you think there is any way we could make our escape—at night, for instance—if we found it necessary?”

Mrs. Johnson shook her head emphatically. “This place is surrounded by an unscalable wall of cliffs,” she said. “There are but two openings; the one you came in by where they turn the waters of the lake in by means of some gate operated by electric power and another tunnel through the cliffs down to the edge of Lake Superior on the northwestern side.”

“Why couldn’t we get out the latter way?”

“Because, Josie, it is merely a tunnel going down to the edge of the big lake or an inlet from it. That’s the way they get in their supplies for this place from the boats, but the upper end is closed by great, heavy double doors which are kept securely locked. They have some system of signals by which the Indians here are notified when a boat docks at the mouth of the tunnel.”

"And isn’t there anyone in authority here besides those

Indians?” insisted Miss Stone. “Are you sure there are no other buildings in the Cup besides these?”

“There are none that I have seen trace of, and I have seen no one giving orders but that frightful Ogima Bash. But,” and Mrs. Johnson lowered her voice, “I have felt every hour I have been in this place that there is someone or something one never sees or hears—”

Her words were cut short by a hissing, crackling disturbance that suddenly broke loose in the upper air outside.

Mrs. Johnson reassuringly placed a hand upon her companion’s arm. “It is only the wireless, dear,” she explained. “It has sputtered away like that a couple of times since I’ve been here, but who operates it, unless it is one of the Indians, I have not been able to find out.

“Oh, yes, I had almost forgotten to tell you,” she added suddenly, “that hideous Indian Medicine Man seems to be hanging around outside to see you about something.” She went to the window’ and peered out. “He’s gone at last,” she observed. “He had been waiting around out on the law n over there since he and the other two brought your belongings. I asked him if there was any message he had to leave; but he only made a noise in his throat like the snarl of a wild beast and walked away.”

IT WAS a few moments later that Josephine Stone, while walking down to the shore of the little lake, was suddenly confronted by Ogima Bush.

He bowed low, holding in an extended hand a folded note.

Wonderingly, the girl accepted the missive addressed to her. When she had opened it she read with amazement greater still:—

Dear Miss Stone:—This is principally to set at rest any fears on your part as to your personal safety. No harm can reach you where you are, and at. most you will not be asked to remain there for more than a few

Believe me, it was not part of my plan that you should have had to go through the disagreeable experience that befell you this morning, which, for reasons I hope to be able to explain later, I w’as unabie to prevent without endangering your interests. Circumstances promoted by others over whom I had no control did that.

If there is any detail for your comfort or convenience which may have been overlooked, please advise me. The bearer of this note, Mr. Ogima Bush, is absolutely trustworthy so far as the affairs of my friends are concerned. Mr. Bush will therefore safely convey any message you may have for me before I leave this afternoon for the east. Yours to command, ACEY SMITH.

“Y,ou wait here.” Josephine Stone addressed the Indian who was standing with eyes averted to the gravel walk. “Un-n-n-n ugh,” he gutturalled. “Ogima wait.”

She hurried back to the chateau and returned with a pencil and some sheets of paper. Seating herself on a little rustic bench, she three times started a reply to Acey Smith’s note, but each time failed to find words coldly expressive of her contempt for the man w'ho would know»Ingly allow her to suffer the indignities she had met with that morning.

Finally she tore all the sheets into little shreds and flung them angrily to the ground. Into the sinister face of the Indian there came a look of actual apprehension as she arose from the bench.

“Tell Mr. Smith I have no answer for him!”

The Medicine Man pointed to the torn bits of paper on the walk. “Maybe Ogima tell Big Boss white lady make words many times and throw away.”

Miss Stone’s eyes were blazing as she stamped her little foot on the gravel. “You tell him what I told you to tel! him—nothing more!”

The Medicine Man quailed before the w'hite wrath of the girl, a ridiculous, crestfallen creature for the moment in his savage trappings. “Un-n-n-n, Ogima tell him what white lady say—no more,” he answered supinely, with a hand above his head as though to ward off an expected blow. “Big Boss maybe get heap mad; tell poor Ogima he tell lie.”

“I hope he beats you within an inch of your life!”

The Indian drew himself up to his full height at that. “No hit Ogima Bush,” he declared pompously. “Mister Smid Big Boss of camp; no boss of Ogima. Un-n-n-n, Smid no boss Ogima!”

“Well!” There was a wealth of biting sarcasm in the girl’s tones. “Then who is Ogima’s boss, pray?”

“Ogima’s boss same boss as Big Boss—same boss as Mister Smid.” The Indian was looking straight down into her eyes. His wicked black optics softened in a flash that transformed him and transfixed her with its intensity.

He placed his right hand over his left breast as he said in tones scarcely above a sibilant whisper: “Ogima’s boss is J. C. X."

With another low bow, the Medicine Man whirled on a shoe-packed heel and strode swiftly away up the walk in the direction of the water-locked gate of the Cup of Nannabijou.

A few minutes later the girl heard the gong in the cliffs announce his departure.

CHAPTER XIX

“Devil He May Be—But a Man"

WHEN Louis Hammond went away from the City Club after his conference with Norman T. Gildersleeve he was convinced of two things.

The one was that Gildersleeve had not told him the entire truth. There had been a furtiveness about the demeanor of Gildersleeve that irritated Hammond; furthermore, there had been the acknowledged duplicity of Winch in passing himself off as a United States consul, not to mention Gildersleeve’s low insinuations as to Josephine Stone’s connection with the North Star. To Hammond’s way of thinking, these and other elements of Gildersleeve’s. methods did not “hang” very well.

The other conviction was that the North Star people had been cognizant of Gildersleeve’s plans from the very first. There was now no doubt, in view of what had happened, that Acey Smith, the pulp camp superintendent, suspected, or perhaps knew definitely, from the night he landed, that he, Hammond, was identified with Gildersleeve and had been sent out to the limits for the purpose of aiding in balking the North Star’s plans.

That being so, it meant that Acey Smith had his own hidden objects in view in allowing Hammond the freedom of the camp.

Anyway, Hammond felt immensely relieved to be free of all responsibility to either of the contending companies, and, having cashed Norma n T. Gildersleeve’s cheque in payment for his services next day, he began planning a certain little affair of his own.

He was unable to get passage out to the limits until noon, and the trip was made on a cranky, wheezing little gasoline tug manned by inexperienced seamen.

The tugmen’s strike was on. Not only had all the North Star seamen left their boats, but they had taken out with them the crews of all the other towing and salvaging companies between the Soo and the head of the lakes.

It was rumored that the strike would next extend to the grain carriers and the passenger and freight boats plying up and down the Great Lakes.

The lumberjacks’ unions, however, had not yet called their sympatheticstrike. At the Nannabijou Limits Hammond found things much the same as when he had left, except that there seemed to be a large number of strange men prowling around the camp, who, though they wore bush garb, were patently not North Star men. At regular intervals, along the waterfront and the roads leading up into the woods, armed members of the Canadian Mounted Police were stationed, obviously for the protection of property in case violence followed.

The lumberjacks were plainly in a sullen mood, especially the foreigners, on whom the presence of the uni-

formed representatives of Canadian law and order produced an ugly irritation. But under the iron rule of Acey Smith, weapons of any sort, beyond the axes which the men used in their work, were strictly forbidden, so that an armed outbreak was out of the question.

Hammond himself, on landing and producing his pass of identification, was requested to step over to a little group of police, where his pockets were lightly tapped to detect the possible presence of concealed weapons. “Sorry to put you to this bother, sir,” smiled the officer in charge. “Just a matter of form, you know. Connected with the North Star Company, I suppose?”

“No,” replied the young man. “I am here on private business of my own, but I expect to be in camp for a short time.”

The officer gave him a sharp look as though committing his face to memory. He seemed about to ask another question, but instead nodded politely to signify the interview was over.

SANDY MACDOUGAL was enjoying his afternoon nod when Hammond dropped in at their bunkhouse, but immediately after the latter’s entry the cook rolled out of the blankets in his sock-feet. “Cripes, didn’t I lock that door?” he gasped as he sat blinking at the newcomer. “Huh, guess I’m gettin’ nerves, but the goings on here lately is enough to make a man loco.”

“Why—what’s up now, Sandy?” laughed Hammond. “Place is alive with cut-throats,” declared the other. “Fellow has to sleep with one eye open to watch that one of ’em don’t come in to bean him for his wad.”

“Yes, I saw a lot of strangers about the camp,” observed Hammond. “Who are they, anyway?”

“Gang of low-brow detectives and strike-breakers brought in from Winnipeg and Duluth on a towed barge early this morning. They’re the scum of creation, and the way they gave orders to my boys when they came in for eats—well, when Acey Smith comes back he’ll have another strike on his hands. My outfit didn’t hire on here to be bossed around by no second-class bums like

“So the North Star’s putting up a bluff of breaking the strike?”

“North Star nothin’!” derided Sandy. “If it was, I wouldn’t feel so cussed mean toward them. This gang’s been put in here by the other company—the Kam City Pulp and Paper Mill crowd—to take hold of the camp work if the North Star’s pole-cutters and boom-tenders go out in sympathy with the tugmen. Mooney put me wise, and you bet we make ’em whack up for every meal they get here at rates just the same as if they was stoppin’ at the Royal Aleck in Winnipeg.”

Hammond whistled. “So that’s the idea, eh?” He had to concede to himself that Gildersleeve must have acted with considerable despatch. No doubt he intended to use these men for water-front land work when he got his tugs over from Duluth to convey the poles to Kam City.

“Oh, they ain’t goin’ to come very much, at that,” insisted Macdougal. “Any old time this strike is settled it

will be settled by the North Star itself—and it won’t be settled till then, not if they bring all the strike-breakers and mounties between here and hell’s gangway to the

“So you think the North Star has the upper hand in this deal, Sandy?”

Macdougal fished out his black bottle and insisted on Hammond having a “nip” with him. “If they ain’t got the upper hand right now,” he replied, “they will have it when the shuffle’s over. There ain’t any outsider can come in here and put it over Acey Smith.... And believe me, whatever is his game, I’m one who wants to see the Big Boss win. Here’s to him!”

The deep underlying note in Sandy’s tones made Hammond gaze at him fixedly. “You used to say, Sandy, that he was the king of crooks,” he reminded. “You used to say, in fact, that Acey Smith was a devil in human form.”

“Crook he may be and devil too,” conceded the other. “But I’m with him because—” and Sandy smote a nearby bench with his fist, “—because he’s a man! He’s one of them kind of men that if the whole world was jumpin’ at his throat he’d put his back again a rock and fight it out without askin’ help or sob-stuff from any of ’em. And he’d go down grinnin’ that little devil-grin o’ his and tellin’ them all to go to hell and be damned to them— that’s the kind of a man the Big Boss is!”

HAMMOND did not smile at this unexpected outburst of hero-worship. The little Scotch-Canadian was so emotionally intense about it.

“Listen, Hammond,” he was saying. “The Big Boss likely is as black a rascal as they say he is, and that’s a whole lot; but he never fights the weak or the poor. Ain’t I seen what he’s done unbeknownst to most for unfortunates in this camp? Ain’t I been in the city when I seen him stop on the street to help a blind bum over a dangerous crossin’ when everybody else was hustlin’ by and lookin’ the other way so they wouldn’t see their duty? Don’t I know that in the hard times six years ago it was this same Acey Smith who bought up a row of shacks in the coal docks district where the landlords was dumpin’ whole families out because they had nothin’ to pay them with, and don’t I know that none of them has ever paid since when they was hard up? I know because it was one of my side jobs to look after them houses and see that the taxes was paid.

“Aye, he’s a queer, queer man, is Acey Smith,” concluded the cook. “Sometimes it seems to me something is eatin’ the heart out of him—something burnin’ inside him and fillin’ him up with hellery. Sometimes I think he’s a good man with a devil in him that won’t give him no rest.”

The cook’s stories, like others he had heard about Acey Smith, impressed Hammond even if they did increase the enigma that hung about the personality of the timber boss. “It is certain he has some fixed method in all this madness of his,” Hammond mused as much to himself as to his companion. “One object undoubtedly is to keep every one guessing what his real motives are. He has to keep himself pretty much a mystery in order to carry out the orders of his bosses.”

“Oh, but he ain’t carryin’ out their crooked work just for the money there’s in it,” spoke up Macdougal. “There’s something deeper ’n that. I’ve been a-studyin’ the man too close and too long to believe that. It’s something inside the man himself that makes him carry on as he does.”

“I’ll quite agree with you there,” responded Hammond. “You call It a devil while I would call it an obsession of mind or a ruling mania; all of which are pretty much one and the same, except that our forefathers called it a devil and let it go at that. If one could only get t he key to that obsession they’d soon be able to clear up the whole mystery of this camp ”

“Aye, Hammond, if you could get the key,” observed the cook, “but Acey Smith is canny enough to keep that key locked up in a dark place that nobody knows but him.”

Continued on page 49

The Timber Pirate

Continued from page 27

CHAPTER XX Preparing to Beard the Lion

‘"TPO MY mind,” continued the cook,

A “that same key has got something to do with them big booms of poles lyin’ out there in the bay waitin’ to be delivered to the Kam City Pulp and Paper Mills Puttin’ one and two together I could see the drift of things so far as the strike is concerned if it wasn’t for all the queer side issues, includin’ that pretty girl that was stoppin’ out on Amethyst Island. What was the idea of her whiskin’ out of there the way she did?”

Hammond gasped. “Then—then she has left?”

“I thought you knew all about it.” Sandy Maedougal scrutinized his companion almost suspiciously.

“Honestly, Sandy, I’m in the dark. The last time I saw Miss Stone she said nothing about any plans for leaving in the near future.”

“Well, I’ll be jiggered! Why, man, she left there the morning of the day you went to Karn City. She was supposed to have been carried off by a gang of Indians, and—”

“What’s that!” Hammond in his excitement leaped up, seizing the other by the collar. “Are you joking, or is this the truth you’re telling me?”

“Hold your horses, hold your horses!” urged the cook. “I’m tellin’ you what was supposed to have happened—what

the mounties claim they saw. You knew they had arrested the Reverend Stubbs, the camp preacher, for takln’ part in it, didn’t you?”

“You’re away off again, Sandy; they arrested him on a charge of vagrancy.” “Vagrancy my eye! That was only a charge to hold him on till they could get the goods on him for takin’ part in the abduction of the girl, and I heard since that Stubbs got bail over in Kam City and jumped it. But I’m one that ain’t takin’ much stock in that abduction talk,” continued the cook. “For one thing, the Big Boss and that girl was on friendly terms; he was the first she came to see after she landed out here and it’s known he used to go out and see her on the island when you weren’t busy takin’ up her time.” The cook grinned maliciously. “Don’t you think it looks mighty odd that knowin’, as he must have known, that she was carried off like that, the Big Boss would leave or Montreal without botherin’ his head about it? No, that ain’t a bit like Aeey Smith from what I know of him.”

“Then you think—?”

“That the whole deal was a frame-up between her and the Big Boss to keep the Mounted Police busy on a false scent and to mystify everybody else that’s tryin’ to find out what the North Star’s up to.”

“1 can’t believe that!”

“Oh, you can’t, eh? Well, have you got a better hunch? Bein’ a bit soft on the girl maybe has made you shortsighted. Hold on, don’t get mad; I don’t blame you a bit, ’cause they tell me she’s some lallapaluza for good looks. And I ain’t meanin’ to cast any reflections on her in this deal either. Only I like you, Hammond, and I wanted to help you out with my hunch if it was any good to you, just in case some of the rest of them was puttin’ something over on you.” Hammond for the moment was silent in the face of these assertions. “But I can’t for the life of me see,” he mused presently, “how Reverend Stubbs got mixed up in it as you say.”

“Search me.” Sandy threw out his hands significantly. “For another thing, did you know that since the girl was supposed to be kidnapped and the Reverend Stubbs was arrested, his nibs, Ogima Bush, the Medicine Man, has dropped out of sight too? He hasn’t been seen anywhere inside or outside the camps.” “That might easily be,” discounted Hammond. “The Medicine Man was always erratic in his comings and goings.” “And you don’t think the girl was a party to the kidnappin’ frame-up?”

"No, I certainly do not!” There came a warning glint into Hammond’s eyes. “And I say that because I know Miss Stone would not willingly be a party to a crooked deal put up by Acey Smith or anyone else.”

“H’m, then what happened her and where is she now?”

“I’ve got a theory where she’s been taken, and that’s what I’m going to set about proving right away.” Hammond rose and strode to the door. At the threshold he turned. “Sandy,” he said, “I’m awfully much obliged to you for this little chat, and I think you’ve helped me a whole lot with the problem. In a couple of days’ time I think I’ll be able to get at the bottom of this whole mystery, or else—”

“Or else what?” insisted the cook.

“Or else I’m going tô the mat with Acey Smith and choke the truth out of him!”

The cook rose to offer some better advice, but Hammond flung out the door and hurried down to the waterfront.

HAMMOND went direct to the tent occupied by Inspector Little, the officer in command of the Mounties. The Inspector was busy with one of the members of his force going over some papers.

“Sorry to trouble you, Inspector,” opened Hammond, “but I’d like to make an appointment to meet you privately on a confidential matter.”

The Inspector turned the papers he was examining face downwards on the little camp table and looked up. “If it is an important matter,” he suggested crisply, “we may as well deal with it at once.”

“It is quite important,” Hammond assured him.

Inspector Little turned to his aide. “You may go, Sergeant,” he indicated.

Alone with the officer, Hammond briefly explained that he was a personal friend of the young lady, Miss Josephine Stone, who had been carried away by force from Amethyst Island, and he had come to offer his services in helping to locate her. He added that he had a theory where she could be found and was ready to start on an expedition by himself to locate her once he had gained the necessary permission of the police. He briefly referred to the arrest of Reverend Nathan Stubbs and the rumor that he was suspected of being a party to the abduction. He said nothing, however, about his knowledge that the fake preacher was really a detective in the employ of Norman T. Gildersleeve, fearing such a statement would lead him into complications that would only delay the expedition he had in mind. He did express the opinion that the camp preacher could have had no part in the abduction.

The inspector stared at him fixedly. “What particular grounds have you for that last statement, Mr. Hammond?” he asked.

“Well, for one thing he was down here at the dock at noon when I left that day. I scarcely see how he could have got back here so soon.”

“That was Stubbs’ own contention when we quizzed him about it. So we arrested him on a nominal charge of vagrancy to hold him on suspicion of being implicated in the abduction. In the first place,” argued the officer, “if he were innocent, why should he jump one thousand dollars bail put up by his lawyer through mysterious friends'? With much less than a thousand dollars he could have cleared himself of the vagrancy charge.”

HAM MOND knew the very important reason Norman T. Gildersleeve had for getting the pseudo-preacher out of the awkward position his continued incarceration would have brought about, but he cautiously held silence on that point.

“We had, as a matter of fact, very good grounds for suspecting Stubbs of not only being implicated but of heilig the ring-leader in the abduction of the young lady,” Inspector Little continued.

“Then he was actually seen taking part in the abduction?”

“Disguised, yes,” enlightened the inspector. “There has been something altogether queer going on in these camps for some time, as you likely know from your own experiences, and I have no doubt the carrying off of Miss Stone is but a side issue of some intrigue on foot between these rival lumbermen. One or the other of the companies concerned must have put up Stubbs’ bail.

“However, I’ve got to admit that suspicion first fell upon the camp preacher through some chance remarks on the part of Mr. Acey Smith, the superintendent, on the very morning the affair took place. Mr. Smith came down to my tent early to ask me to go up and have breakfast with him and to inquire if there were anything he or any of his men could do to help us out in getting settled. A mighty charming and interesting chap that man Smith for all his enemies say about him, and he has at least shown us every courtesy since we’ve been here.

“Well, when we were just about to leave for the dining camp he whirled and asked me a remarkable question. ‘Did you ever know of one man successfully impersonating two different characters in life, Inspector Little?’ He put it with that odd little smile of his—a sort of whimsical grin that makes yo-u think he’s reading your answer before you utter it.

“ ‘Well,’ I answered in a spirit of banter, ‘there was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for instance, and I’ve known certain actors on the stage who did it pretty» smartly.’

“But he seemed to be serious about it.

T have reason to suspect such a dual rôle is being played in real life on these limits,’ he said. Then he asked: ‘Did you closely observe that camp preacher, Rev. Nathan Stubbs, who was down around the docks here a little while ago?’

“ T did,’ I answered, for it is part of our business to take sharp note of all strange characters.

“ ‘And you looked over the Indian Medicine Man they call Ogima Bush who was around here when you were putting up your tents late yesterday afternoon?’ “I told him I had, wondering all the time what he was coming to. Then he asked me if I had noted a peculiarity about both their eyes; that, while the Indian had two little wounds either painted or gashed under his, the camp preacher had talcum or some other powder thickly spread over what seemed to be tiny scars in the same place on his face.

“ ‘By Jove,’ I answered, ‘now that you mention it I have noticed that, and though their clothing, color of skin and get-up is different, they are about the one height and build.’

“ ‘And they are both mysteries,’ he supplemented.

“ ‘Harmlessfakirs, though?’ I hazarded.

“ ‘If they were,’ he replied briskly, ‘or rather if I were sure they were, I wouldn’t take up your time about the matter. I am convinced, Inspector, that they are both very dangerous characters.’

“His tone of conviction impressed me. ‘And you feel certain it is one man playing two rôles?’ I insisted.

“ ‘Oh, I’m not saying that,’ he replied. ‘But the fact that you have noticed the same facial peculiarity in those two characters gives me an idea which is further strengthened by the circumstance that no one has seen the two of them about any part of the camps at the same time.’

“I thereupon suggested that if he, as superintendent of the camps, requested it we could arrest the party on a charge of vagrancy while he was playing either rôle and thus get at the bottom of the thing. But, on the other hand, I added,

I would much favor keeping a close watch on the actions of both Ogima Bush and Rev. Nathan Stubbs until such time as there appeared to be more definite grounds for making an arrest.

“ ‘That would be much the better plan, Inspector,’ he approved. ‘As I am going away from camp for a few days I thought I would at least draw your atten[ tion to the circumstances, and, in case there might be some mischief afoot behind this apparent masquerading, you could be on the lookout for it.’

“I thanked him and the subject was not again mentioned during our conversation. That very morning, and it must have been a short time after our talk, Miss Stone was forcibly carried off by a band of Indians headed by the Medicine

Hammond sat bolt upright at this information, but he suppressed comment while the inspector proceeded. ,

IT WAS not until the patrol down at Amethyst Island waterfront had exhausted every effort to run down the abductors of the young lady and failed that they sent in a report to us. The result was that we didn’t hear of it until after dinner. The preacher was in the camp, seemingly quite confident that his disguise was impenetrable. His surprise when the handcuffs were slipped onto his wrists was good enough to be genuine. Sure enough though when a handkerchief was applied to the paste and talc powder on his cheek bones it disclosed two tiny white scars under either eye in the self-same spots where the Indian had the red gashes, not to mention the false beard which we left on his face for the time being.”

Hammond sat dumfounded at this recital. Those tiny white scars under each eye! Gildersleeve was the only white man he had ever seen with such peculiar marks. So—so Gildersleeve had really played the part of the camp preacher himself! That much was patent now, and there seemed every circumstantial incident to imply that he was also Ogima Bush, though Hammond could scarcely conceive that any make-up could transform a white man into such a thorough -going savage.

“The rest of the story is likely familiar to you, Mr. Hammond,” the inspector was proceeding. “You know how Stubbs was arraigned in Kam City on a charge of vagrancy, bailed out by friends and immediately disappeared. It is all a mighty queer mix-up that stands in need of thorough investigation, but,” with a wave of thehandand a raising of the brow, “the Mounted force were sent out here to protect property and maintain law and order in case of a strike, and without a shadow of a clue to work on it’s pretty difficult getting on the trail of the principals behind the outrage on Amethyst Island. Now, if you have any additional facts that would be of use to us or can give us help of any sort in locating Miss Stone we shall certainly be glad to avail ourselves of your assistance.”

Hammond was incensed at the evident duplicity of Gildersleeve. But at the same time he was tired of theorizing, and of attempting to unravel the puzzles which Nannabijou Camp had confronted him with almost daily since he had first arrived there. So he thrust aside the temptation to enlighten the head of the Mounties on what he knew of the part Gildersleeve must have played.

“I told you I had a theory as to where Miss Stone has been carried off,” he reminded the inspector. “As a matter of fact, I am certain she has been taken up into a hiding-place in the Cup of Nannabijou.” •

“What—up above those cliffs on the hill? Why, man, our chaps say there’s no opening in that wall of cliffs and they are unscalable.”

“They are popularly believed to be so,” replied Hammond, “but it is a fact that there are parties who make a headquarters of some sort up there and they have a secret entrance.”

“Well!” The Inspector pursed his moustached mouth in polite skepticism. “You know how they get in and out?” “Not for certain, hut I do know a better and a quicker method.”

“Yes?”

“The air route."

“H’mph.” The inspector evinced a sudden interest. “Yes, that would be practical for scouring the whole country back of here. But where are you going to get an airplane and an airman?”

“There’s an old scouting single-seater in Kam City in fairly good shape. I happened to see it in the armories while I was rambling around the city a couple of days before I first came out here. It’s the property of the government. That’s why I came to you; as head of the Mounted Police you could no doubt induce the government authorities to len us the machine for this purpose.”

"But your airman?”

For answer Hammond threw back the lapel of his coat displaying the airman’s wings which he modestly wore over his left vest-pocket. “I can take care of that part of it,” he suggested. “I saw three years hard work in the air overseas, two years of which I put in playing tag with Fritz.”

“Good enough!” Proof that Hammond had been a fighting airman seemed to dissipate the inspector’s last doubt.

“There’ll be no harm in giving this thing a try,” he decided, “and by Jove, we’ll get busy right off. We’ll send you over to Kam City in one of the police motorboats tomorrow morning. I’ll give you a wire to file to Major Lynn at Ottawa, and he’ll get things through for us without unnecessary red tape. But look you, Hammond, when you go up to the Cup you have only instructions to look around, get the lay of the land and come right back here to me. Then we’ll act!”

The inspector glanced at his watch. "Now by the way,” he suggested, “I’ve some confounded routine to look after that will keep me busy for the best part of a couple of hours. But after tea drop in for an hour or so, old chap, and we’ll have a pipe and talk over the details of this thing.”

Hammond went away highly elated. At last he was to get a real chance to do some active work in ferreting out the mystery of the Nannabijou Limits, and— he fervently hoped—to meet again Josephine Stone, the girl with the high arched eyebrows and the woman of his dreams. {To be Continued)