F. W. WALLACE
THERE was a crack of a pistol and a bullet thudded into wood.
Billy let the hatch slam and shot the bolt. “By golly!” he muttered dolefully. “I was never in the trenches, but I cal’late I’ve had as many bullets whizzin’ around me as any soldier this few hours. Them Bolsheviks must ha’ come aboard wellheeled.” In company with Andy, who was the best and most intelligent man in the Gregory's polyglot crew, he sat down at the saloon table to discuss a plan of action.
“How can we stop that water from cornin’ in?”
“Ef you were to run her off afore the wind,” replied Andy, “she wouldna take sae much as them ports are juist above her water-line.”
“We’re headin’ for Boston,” said the other grimly, “and she’s agoin’ to keep aheadin’ for Boston even ef she fills ‘til she’s aw'ash. The pumps are no use, you say?”
Andy nodded. “Ye see, Captun, there’s no scuppers in them ‘tween decks that’ll let th’ water go down intae th’ bilges for th’ pumps tae get at it. That lazaret’ll fill tae th’ beams wi’ water and ye canna get it cot onless ye were tae bore holes in the deck o’ th’ place tae let it get ab’low.” Billy nodded and remained thoughtfully silent. Kowalsky knew that his life was forfeited as soon as the ship arrived, and he’d sooner die by drowning in the lazarette than face trial and the electric chair. Then again, a man of his callous type, w-ould delight in dying if he thought he could carry Spencer and all the others to the bottom. With a gale blowing and a heavy sea running, the boats would have a hard time keeping afloat. It was doubtful if they could keep afloat.
“How can we get him out of his hole?” he asked the Scot.
“We might bomb him out,” suggested the other, “but that’s chancey.
We might start the case’ oil afire.”
“How about sulphur?” ventured the skipper.
“No very easy. He’s got th’ ports open and it’s a big place doon there.”
Spencer smacked the table with his fist. “I have it,” he ejaculat (L “We’ll drive him out by steam!”
The Scotchman caught the idea quickly.
“I believe it can be done frae the donkey-b’iler.
We can couple twa or three pipes or hose tae th’ main supply cornin’ aft tae them after capstans an’ th’ cabin heaters and shoot them doon through holes in the cabin floor.”
Spencer jumped to his feet. “Look after the job, Andy, and take all the hands you want.
Hurry, now, or she’ll be settlin’ down on us.”
And he left for the deck
THE weather was unchanged and the ship was still plunging and lifting through the big seas raised by the
drive of the wind. Two men sweated in their shirt-sleeves
at lee and weather wheel, and Billy noted with satisfaction that she was logging an even twelve knots.
It was breaking day-light by the time Andy reported the pipes coupled and a head of steam in the donkey-boiler. The lazarette ventilators were plugged and holes had been drilled, carefully and silently, through the cabin deck and the steam-pipes thrust in. Spencer carefully examined the arrangements. “Good enough,” he said. “Now turn the steam in!” With the turning of a valve on the main-pipe, three jets of scalding vapor shot roaring into the lazarette and added their quota of sound to the swashing water below. There was something terrifying in the thought that a human being was down in the blackness underneath facing the rising flood and the scorching steam and Billy steeled his heart to keep the valve open. After five minutes, he could stand it no longer and ordered the steam shut off. He could picture Kowalsky writhing under the scalding jets and his tender heart could endure the thought no longer.
“He’ll be deid after that dose,” observed Andy callously. Spencer ordered the Tights turned down. Drawing his automatic and carrying an electric torch, he slipped back the bolt of the lazarette hatch and when Andy raised the heavy door, he flashed his light into the cloud of steam w-hich billowed forth.
“Are you there, below!” he shouted, peering carefully
into the vapor and standing clear of a possible fusillade.
“Are you there, Kowalsky?” he shouted again. There was no answer.
“He’s deid sure enough,” observed the Scot. “Nae human bein’ c’d stand five minutes under live steam. He’s a wee bit o’ suet by noo.” And he grinned grimly.
Spencer stood silent for a moment and the ? ash of water below spurred him to action. Someone - d have to go down in the lazarette and see the condition of affairs. He spoke to Andy. “I cal’late I’ll slip down and have a look—”
“He might no be dead,” remarked a man apprehensively. “With the ports open, he might harve kept clear ofthe steam and be w-aiting for someone to go below—”
“Aye, that may be so,” said Andy. “I’ve seen us chuck a bomb doon in a dug-out and have a ruddy fine wrassle when w-e w-ent ab’low-. But, Captun. if you’ll lead, 111 follow.”
SPENCER snapped off the torch and divested himself of his boots and oilskins. He waited until the steam dissipated and descended the ladder in the blackness with automatic and torch ready. Andy followed behind.
They stood on -the deck of the place with the water swashing around their knees in darkness that was almost palpable. The rolling of the ship was driving the water back and forth and at times they were deluged to the arm-pits. It was icy cold, but excitement deadened the chill of it and Spencer’s heart was pounding like a triphammer. The blackness awed him and he feared to flash his torch lest it should reveal the agonized face of the dead.
Something struck him and he started nervously. Reaching out with his hand he touched a floating flour barrel and gasped with relief. He fancied it might have been the corpse of the man he w-as seeking and he hesitated to switch on the torch and confirm the dread that possessed him. In the Stygian gloom there was an atmosphere of something portentous-depressing, ominous, and he w-as fearful but not afraid. Kowalsky ’s tawny eyes, leering and feline, appeared to do.ruinate the place and he could picture their malevolent glare. If the man w-ere dead, his malignant spirit seemed mnin-boom to pervade the dark.
With pistol levelled ready, he braced his feet to the lurching of the ship. Heavy breathing nearby caused him to start in alarm, until he remembered Andy. Then when the swirling water rolled away from him, he snapped the switch of the torch.
With the glare came a series of stunning explosions and a mocking laugh—the irritating cackle which Spencer knew so well—and Andy’s voice boomed, "Tae starb’d wi’ the light, Skipper! Tae starb’d Spencer acted, sailorlike, on the order instantaneously. Over his shoulder, spurts of flame from Andy’s automatic singed his cheek. The cackling laugh stopped suddenly. Half-stunned with the detonations, Spencer stared dazedly along the glaring shaft of light and saw Kowalsky lying upon a pile of boxes and barrels stowed on the starboard side of the chamber. There was a port-hole behind him, open and well above water.
While he stared at the dripping body on the boxes, the head dropped, there was a convulsive heave of the shoulders, and when the ship gave a heavy roll to loo’ard, the figure lurched forward and splashed into the water.
SPENCER and Andy were hurled to the lee side of the ship deluged to the waist. As they struggled against the down-rushing waters, and floating débris, Kowalsky’s body surged out of the flood and drove across their breasts. Spencer’s wavering torch revealed a pallid, evil face looking up at them with a baleful sheen in the left eye. The other showed but a crimson cavity from which the blood was oozing and staining the brine which surrounded them.
"Hell’s bells!” ejaculated the fisherman, horrified, and leaped out of the way. But the Scot—hard-case sailorman, and inured to such scenes in the red muck of Flanders’ trenches—laughed grimly and remarked,
“I havena’ forgotten how tae shoot, by Godfrey! Plugged th’ ruddy yella’ eye oot th’ perishing blighter, by cripes! A good shot, Skipper, a damned good shot!” And
both men scrambled for the ladder.
The hands were standing-by keeping °alashee watch, lolling in their bunks, easing tired muscles—while two of their number remained in the donkey-room ready to call them to action on the skipper’s whistle. Some slept, while others discussed the "crazy sail-dragger” aft who was driving the Gregory as she had never been driven for many a long day. Continually flooded decks reminded the older hands of “easting” runs when the clippers raced wool from Australia, and they thanked their stars they were aboard a ship that was originally built for such sailing. Normally, and with less reckless masters, the Gregory was a ‘ dry ship. Spencer was pressing her as few orthodox windjammer skippers w'ould do nowadays.
“Another twenty-four hours of this travellin’ and she’ll be up to Boston Light anyway,” muttered Spencer cheerfully. He glanced up at a heavy squall cloud darkening the sun and sensed the coming blast. "Stand by t gallanthalliards!” he bawled to the pair in the donkey-room.
Over and over w'ent the ship until the poop bell clanged and the seas piled over the lee rail in solid cascades and seething froth. Aloft, the canvas strained at sheet and clue and swelled in great curves save where tautened bunt and leach-lines marred their contour. The long topgallant-masts were visibly bending to the weight of the wind in the canvas, and the men, hanging on at the rails with coils cast off and a turn of the halliards around the pins ready to let go, glanced nervously at the spars and the young fellow aft cursefully wondering w hen he would give the word.
SPENCER braced his body to the careening of the ship and hung on to the life-line of the weather quarterboat. He was critically staring aloft and w'ondering how much strain the Gregory's gear would stand. “If her mate was on to his job in lookin’ after her,” he murmured, “she’d carry her kites in this—” He stopped suddenly when a stronger gust smote the ship and she wallowed her whole lee rail under. “Leggo yer t’galiant-halliards!” he bawled when the men at the lee gear vanished from sight in a broil of cascading sea.
Half drowned and luridly cursing men cast the halliards adrift and tugged on the down-hauls as the yards came down with sails flogging. Then came a frantic shout from those at the big single topgallantsail on the mizzen and Billy ran to their assistance at the weather down-haul. “Th’ yards iss jam’dt and w'on’t come down!” yelled a sailor excitedly—pausing in his frenzied tugging to look aloft.
“Never mind star-gazin’!” barked Spencer. “Pull, dammit, pull!” But three men were not strong enough to haul the yard down with the parral jammed agamst the mast with the list of the ship and the weight of the wind-filled sail.
“Aft here, some of you!” bawled the skipper. "Tally OB-”
There was a sound of cracking aloft and Spencer stopped short in his intended command to shout a warning. “Stand clear of her to Ward!” Unable to stand the strain.
the mizzpn-topgallant mast with topgallant and royal yards and gear came hurtling down with twangings of snapped wire stays, floggings and thrashings of canvas, rope and blocks. The royal yard broke adrift from the mast when it struck the topmast rigging and, up-ended, it crashed down through the port life-boat, while the rest of the wreck went over-side and hung by the stays, chains and braces.
“A ruddy fine mess!” laughed Spencer grimly. "I thought she would ha’ stood that puff!”
And to the men coming up on the poop, he said coolly, "Clear that raffle away.
She’s stripped for fair on the mizzen now!”
The cabin-boy came shambling along to where the skipper stood superintending the clearing away of the débris. "What
is it now ?” Spencer asked him. “I never see you up here but what you’re announcing grub or trouble.”
Without a smile on his pasty features, the lad informed Billy that Comstock was very sick. Spencer went below and found the wounded man in a high fever, in pain, and somewhat delirious. The examination made him anxious and he pored over the “Shipmaster’s Medical Guide” for directions as to what should be done in such circumstances. Following the treatment outlined, he did his best, but realized that port and a doctor w'ere eminently desirable. As the ship had made considerable lee-way and was a trifle south of her course to Boston, he decided to run her for Provincetowm.
“Away ye go to yer upper t’gan’s’ls!” he said to the crowd clearing away the last of the raffle. The burst of squall had passed but it was still blowing very hard.
"D’ye mean for us to make ’em fast, sir?” The sails had merely been clewed up.
“Make fast nawthin’,” growled Billy. “Set ’em again.” He explained to the crowd, “My friend is a very sick man. We’ve got to rush him in to a doctor.” They nodded dumbly.
“And you can set the mains’l as well,” continued the skipper. “There’s a power of shove in a mains’l, so get it on
THE canvas w'as set and the log showed it. Thirteen knots increased to thirteen and a half and then fourteen. Billy was sure she logged fifteen in the heavy gusts when the wind hauled aft a little and allowed them to check the yards.
It was stupendous storming along, but Spencer was not driving her for the fun of it now'. He was urging her on for many reasons. Comstock was in a bad way and his war experience impressed him with the value of time where infected wounds were concerned. Then again, he wanted to get away from the Gregory. There was something sinister about her. Nine men had died violently aboard of her within a week and three were lying in their bunks suffering, and under the fo’c’sle-head lay the canvas-shrouded bodies of Kowalsky, the cook and two of the mutineers. She was a death ship and the atmosphere of bloody deeds hung heavy about her decks.
After dinner, he came up on deck to see a fishing schooner ahead, standing up from Georges for Boston Bay. She was running along under reefed mainsail, foresail and jumbo and certain distinctive marks identified her in Spencer’s eyes. “Jack Mac and the Allie Watson, by gum!” he exploded. The depressed feeling lifted itself from his boyish heart, and he remarked to Andy with an expectant smile, “there’s a feller ahead that I’d like to trim in this one. I’ve trimmed him afore in a schooner, and, by Jupiter, I’d like to have a hook with him in a square-rigger. Turn the hands out. Andy-boy, and sway everything bar-taut.”
Nothing will make a crowd of sailormen work so hard as when there is a contest between ship and ship. Spencer, tired out and harassed, forgot his many anxieties, and stalked the poop with a new glint in his eyes, while the men, entering into the spirit of the thing, trudged around the decks with watch-tackle and strop taking a pull on halliards and sheets. The cross-jack was dropped down and sheeted aft with the weather clue hauled up, and everyone hoped the gear would stand the strain of the driving.
BLACK squalls came whirling up and the Gregory staggered and trembled to their onslaught. The water on deck was so heavy that they rigged a Cape Horn life-line from poop to fo’c’sle head and coiled the lee fore-braces up on the mid-ship house. No man could make the pass of the lee deck and the Gregory was plunging until solid green water covered the fo’c’sle-head and thundered down in foaming cataracts. “Holy Sailor!” cried a grizzled old seaman with something of admiration in his eyes. “Dis is de vorst I ever saw! Yess! Und I hov run der eastin’ in smart ships, by Yiminy!” Spencer stood aft by the wheel glancing aloft at the sails and over at the Allie Watson and the two huskies at the spokes, straining and sweating in their singlets, steered according to his orders. They expected something to give soon, but they steered as they never steered before.
The schooner was quickly overhauled and there were signs that she resented being passed by a clumsy squarerigged wind-bag. She shot up into the wind and a mob of oil-skinned fishermen lined up along her main-boom “He’s shakin’ out the reef,” observed Billy exultantly “Now we’ll have some sailin’!”
It did not take the schooner long to get her whole mainsail up and when she swung on her course again, she had the whole four lowers hung. The Gregory had stormed past her, however, and in an effort to regain his lead, McPherson sent his big fisherman’s stays’l up between the masts. This extra canvas hauled him ahead a little and the excited watchers on the Gregory could see the whole of the schooner’s deck as shp rolled down with the heft of the wind in the canvas.
A vicious squall piped up and the Gregory's taut backstays whined to it. The Allie Wolsov vanished for a moment in the slash of rain which came down the wind and when she showed up again, Billy pointed across his weather quarter with a happy laugh. “There he is,” he cried, “and his stays’ls gone! We’ve trimmed him! We’ve trimmed him!” The other craft had given up the contest and was heading to the northward.
The Gregory then decided she had stood enough. In the next squall, the main upper-t’gallants’l burst—leaving only two of the bunt cloths in the bolt-ropes. Ribbons of canvas festooned the stays and rigging and flogged themselves into white threads. The yard was lowered and the hands wore preparing to bend another sail, w’hen the ship dived into a tremendous sea and staggered to the shock of it. It knocked the jib-boom clean out of her and the fore topgallant-mast with the royal and upper topgallant yards and sail came plunging down in a thundering, furiously thrashing raffle of canvas, wire, spars and rope.
“Lord Harry!” ejaculated Billy in half-humorous dismay. “She’ll be a wrack yet. It’s easy seen this bally-hoo ain’t no packet for carryin’ a bit of sail!” Then he turned and grinned at the wheelsmen. “Well, boys, she’s in fine heavy weather trim now. We only need to rip that main t’gallant-n’st out of her to put her in Cape Horn rig. But, anyway, I’m glad her gear hung out long enough for me to trim Jack Mac. I’ll roast him good when I get my feet on Boston Fish Pier again!”
The men looked at him as he strode along the deck and one fellow remarked sagely, “that joker sh’d ha’ bin livin’ fifty years ago! He’d have made a grand skipper for the bully olDreadnought or the Flyin’ Cloud or Cutty Sark, by Judas! I’ve h’ard that those Yankee-Bluenose fishermen were the great lads for carryin’ sail. Now, I knows it, by Godfrey!”
/~\LD JOHNNY LOVELL came bustling outof his office. ^ “Come inside a minute, Miss Comstock,” he said. When the young woman entered his private sanctum, he picked up a long telegram and enquired, "what do you know about a registered letter that was sent to Captain Spencer care of this office?”
“I gave it to him the last time he was here, sir,” replied the girl.
“Did he open it, do you know'?”
Miss Comstock thought for a moment before aswering, “I don’t believe he did, Mr. Lovell. He put it in his pocket if I remember right.”
Old John grunted. “Just like those fellows and the careless, don’t-care-a-cuss way they have with everything. It’s evidently a most important letter too, for a firm of
lawyers in British Columbia have sent me a telegram wanting to know if it has been delivered. Take a wire, please.”
Later in the day, he came bouncing up from the wharf. The Alfarata had just made fast. “Spencer and a chap called Brown left the schooner on Brown’s Bank to navigate a Russian square-rigger into Boston,” he said to Miss Comstock excitedly, “and I’ve just got another wire from those lawyers asking me to get hold of Spencer and rush him out to Victoria immediately as he’s fallen heir to a considerable estate which must be claimed before noon on August ninth. Lord Harry, what can I do?” He paced up and down his office blowing clouds of cigar smoke.
“That’s him all over,” he fumed. “Couldn't come home like any ordinary skipper but must go hellin’ off on Russian wind-jammers. S'pose he was itching to try his hand sailing a square-rigger for a change. And I’ll bet he’ll rimrack her if they allow him to play with her. Who the deuce is this feller Brown that he took as a passenger . . .”
Miss Comstock turned deathly pale and swayed against the desk. Old Johnny gazed at her over his spectacles. “What’s the matter, child?” he said with kindly concern in his voice. “Ain’t you feeling wrell today?” Mabel recovered herself with an effort. “I’m all right, Mr. Lovell,” she said with a faint smile. “I just took a little giddy turn.”
“You ain’t been looking good for the last two weeks,” remarked the other. “It’s a little vacation you need, Miss. Get a substitute and run away for a while.”
At this juncture, tw'o quietly dressed men entered the office, and Mr. Lovell swung around. “Well, sirs?”
One of the pair gave a nod of his head in the direction of Miss Comstock. “I’d like to speak with that young lady, Mister,” he said politely.
Apprehensively, Mabel advanced to the counter. “You're Miss Mabel Comstock?” asked the man quietly.
He leaned over the counter. “Where is your father, Miss?” he enquired in a firm, subdued voice.
The young woman turned white and gripped the edge of the counter with hands which worked nervously. Trembling, she answered, “I don’t know.” The other smiled faintly as if he expected just such an answer. “Of course not,” he remarked in the same quiet tone, “but you saw him lately, didn’t you?”
Mabel felt her heart beating like a trip hammer and the room was swimming around. She pulled her nerves together and answered in as firm a tone as she could muster, “No!”
“Now, Miss Comstock, we know better than that. You saw him on the night of July twenty-third, did you not?”
The girl made no reply and the man continued, “We know you saw him so it don’t matter. Where did he go?” “I can’t tell you,” she managed to articulate.
“Now, now, Miss, you must tell me! You know where he went after he left your flat that night."
“I don't know,” she repeated dully. Her heart was palpitating so fast that a choking sensation was overcoming her and the room was whirling around dizzily.
'T'HE stranger fixed her with cold, unsmiling eyes.
The quiet politeness was gone from his tones as he said firmly, “Miss Comstock! You do know where your father has gone. Tell me now'and no more nonsense . .” He stopped suddenly w'hen the girl reeled and collapsed to the floor in a faint. Old Johnny had been standing at the back of the office watching the scene with some curiosity and when Miss Comstock fell he rushed indignantly forward. “What in hell are you fellers up to? What have you done to the gir!?”
The two strangers came behind the counter and exhibited metal badges pinned inside of their coats.
“Detectives?” ejaculated the fish dealer in surprise. “What do you want with her?”
One of the men busied himself bathing the girl’s forehead and wrists with cold water while the other explained to Lovell the object of their visit. “Her father was serving a ten year stretch for blowing up the Plenzer Iron works in Delancey, Pennsylvania, and he jumped the jug about three months ago. We traced him to his wife’s flat here in Boston, but we don’t know where he went from there.
We do know that this young woman returned to her mother’s flat with a gentleman friend—a fishing skipper —and we have a notion that he might have had something to do with her father’s get-away......”
Miss Comstock was reviving and show' ing evidences of becoming hysterical.
Lovell was in a dreadful quandary as his astute mind w'as putting two and two together. He knew that the gentleman friend was Spencer and he immediately though! of the passenger the skipper had taken with him on the Alfarata. The deduction
was obvious. “Well, sirs, leave her be,” he said. “She ain’t been very w'ell and you’d better not question her. I don’t believe you have any right to question her anyway, if I know' the law. Let her alone and try some other way of finding out.” And he went over and stooped down by the sobbing girl and patted and soothed her in an attempt to quieten her distress.
The detectives looked at one another and the leader spoke. “I reckon we’ll go, Jack. No use bothering the girl.” Turning to Lovell and Miss Comstock, he said, “We’re sorry, but we’re only doing what w'e’re paid for. We’ll go now. Good-day!” And they swung out of the door.
OLD JOHNNY led Mabel into his office and produced a treasured bottle of w'hiskey from out of his safe. He gave the girl a small mouthful to steady her nerves and it seemed to calm her. Taking a pretty stiff swallow himself, he bustled back to her side and patted her on the shoulder. “Trust me, little girl,” he said benevolently. “I won’t let them bother you again.”
Mabel looked up at his kindly face with tears in her eyes. “It’s awful, Mr. Lovell, and I’ve been nearly crazy. Did they tell......?”
“Yes, yes,” soothed Johnny, “they told me all about it. I don’t blame your dad. There’s a few more o’ them grasping, profiteering w'ar plants ’ud be none the worse of being
blown up......” He spoke thus in an effort to be kind.
“. .and maybe your father didn’t do the job anyway. ..” “He didn’t!” interrupted the girl vehemently. “He was made the scapegoat for others.”
Lovell nodded. “And he skipped off with young Billy Spencer, did he?” He spoke softly that none might hear.
The young woman made an affirmative gesture. She was afraid to speak.
“Just like the lad,” remarked old Johnny. “A fine lad, a rare boy—best skipper out of the Pier!”
He lit up the butt of a cigar and puffed strenuously. “Now, my dear,” he said at last, “I’m goin’ to send you home in a taxi. You’ll go away for ten days—you and your mother. Go away tonight. Go to Nantasket or any of them beach places and jest forget everything, and if any of them ’tecs bother you—you jest ’phone or wire me and I’ll straighten ’em out.” He called a taxi and when it arrived, he opened his wallet and pressed a number of bills into Mabel’s hand. “Take that and enjoy yourself. Mind, now, got away tonight, you and your mother, and take it easy. Come back when you’re feeling fit and don’t worry about your father. We’ll fix that up.” He escorted her into the taxi, gave her a fatherly pat on the shoulder, and saw her off. Then he went up into his office and lost himself in thought and clouds of cigar smoke.
LATE that night he landed down on the Fish Pier with a suit-case and an oil-skin coat. Judson Moore, the man who brought the Alfarata to port, was with him. and both men boarded the deepsea tug Agnes Johnson. The tug had steam up and as soon as Lovell and Moore entered
the pilothouse, her skipper gave the order to cast off and she swung down the harbor. In a couple of hours, she was steaming out to sea in the tooth of a stiff blow with the twin lights of Boston Lightship and the white flash of Minot’s Ledge in sight abeam.
“This Gregory is a three-mast full-rigger, is she? How’s she painted? Black, grey, or what?” Lovell was asking.
“.She’s a hooker of about twelve hunder’ tons, I cal’late,” Judson Moore replied, “and she’s painted black with yellèr masts and yards.”
Lovell puffed hard on his eternal cigar and his quick wits were working double-tides. He had two jobs to accomplish. One w'as to get Spencer to Victoria, B.C., without delay, and the other was to help his stenographer’s father to avoid the detectives undoubtedly waiting for him in Boston. The latter task was worrying him considerably. Te aid in the escape of a convict was an indictable offence, and Johnny was praying and hoping that Spencer had managed to get Comstock away.
Early morning saw' them plunging and rolling on the Stellw'agen Bank and the tug skipper and Judson Moore were figuring out the Gregory's probable course. “It came on to blow after the skipper and this guy Brown left us and I cal’late that wind-bag had to square away east afore it,” said Judson, “but Billy wouldn’t be long afore swingin’ her off for Boston. With the breeze what’s bin ablowin’ for the last twro days, he ain’t far off ef I know him. He’ll push that old windjammer some, I reckon, or he ain’t livin’ up to the name they give him—Speedy Spencer.” The tug skipper decided to run down towards Cape Cod for a w'hile. If the ship was not sighted then, he would swing around and steam over to the Gloucester short. Dawn revealed a wild sea and a breeze in their teeth. Th« tug was plunging bows-iu to it and driving the spray over her in clouds, and the tug master with a pair of powerful prismatic binoculars glued to his eyes, w'as scanning th« horizon.
As the morning brightened he stared in the wake of th« rising sun and gave vent to an ejaculation. “Cuss me, ef I don’t see two square-riggers to the east’ard,” he said adjusting the focus of the glasses. “One feller’s off to tb’ nor’ad headin’ for Boston Light and the other joker’s headin’ for Cape Cod way. . . .”
“Describe ’em!” snapped Old John.
“Th’ feller to th’ nor’ad’s under his two tops’ls on the fore and main, but this feller ahead seems to be halfdismasted. He’s got no t’gallant-masts on the fore or mizzen but lie’s draggin’ all the sail he kin put on her. ...” “Make for her,” barked Lovell confidently. “That’s Spencer sure! Half-dismasted and swingin’ all sail—that’s his trade-mark sure as hell fire's hot! Make for him, Cap. and we’ll be able to see how much he can rim-rack a square-rigger when they give him the chance.”
Within half an hour, the sailing ship came plunging into distinct view a mile distant. She was storming along with yards off the backstays and there was a creaming bone in her teeth which told of the urge in her canvas. Her fore and mizzen masts showed splintered stumps above the topmast caps and the odd lettering of her name on the bluff of the bow proclaimed the Russian. “That’s her,” cried Moore with a grin, “and sure enough, Billy’s bin tryin’ her out.”
When the ship came forging up, the Agnes Johnson steamed around on the Gregory's weather quarter while Lovell stepped outside the pilot-house with a megaphone.
“Hi-yi, there, Spencer!” he roared.
A figure waved a hand and whipped a pair of glasses to his eyes. After a brief scrutiny, he laid them down, and leaned over the rail. It was Spencer.
“Heave-to - and - we’ll - take - >ou -off!” bawled Old John and his voice echoed in the towering sails of the ship.
Billy reached for a megaphone and shouted across the intervening broil of water, “Can’t - stop - now! Making -for - Provincetown! Meet - me - there!” And the Gregory swashed past—leaving the tug rolling in her wake.
The tow-boat skipper rang for full speed. “Swampin’ Judas!” he growled, “but that wind-bag’s travellin’! He’ll be off Provincetown as soon as us!”
They steamed astern of the sailingship, and the tug, forging,along at twelve knots, barely maintained her position in the Gregory's wake. For almost an hour they ran in company thus, and the steamer failed to overtake the sailing ship. Old John, anxious and bewildered, wondered why Spencer was making for Provincetown. “Darn him,” he fumed. “I believe he’s so crazy about racing
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Continued from page 27
that he jest refused to heave-to so’s he could trim this tug!”
The low sand dunes of Race Point showed up and the square-rigger came in on her weather braces to round the tip of Cane Cod. When nearing Wood End, Spencer commenced reducing sail by clew-
ing up his courses and lowering his upper topsails. Then the tug came alongside.
Lovell was met at the head of the Jacob’s Ladder by a weary-eyed, unshaven, and tired young man whose face was windreddened and whose eye-lids were heavy through lack of sleep. He greeted the fish
dealer in a hoarse croak and his feet dragged with the fatigue of many hours standing and pacing.
“I come out here specially to get you and rush you off to Victoria,” explained Lovell, “and—” Drawing Spencer to one side, he whispered, “Where’s Comstock? Did you get him clear?”
Billy straightened up with an effort. “He’s below—a very sick man—but, thank God, a free man. . . .”
“He’s got proof of his innocence,” returned the other,“ but if we don’t get him under a doctor’s hands immediately, he’ll never live to enjoy his freedom.” In a few words, he sketched the incidents of the voyage while Lovell listened in speechless, open-eyed astonishment.
The tug shoved the Gregory inside the harbor. Signals for a doctor and the police flew from the gaff and within an hour Comstock was being scientifically treated, while Kimeneff and the two others were ironed and taken ashore. The Agnes Johnson was steaming full-bore for Boston with Spencer snoring in her skipper’s bunk. It was the morning of August fourth and he had one hundred and twenty hours to capture his inheritance.
IT SEEMED to Billy that he had slept but a few minutes when he was awakened by Lovell. “We’re coming alongside the Pier now, Cap’en.” He rose, yawned, and felt a trifle rested by the nap. Stepping ashore, he was greeted by his friend Wesley Carson. “I’ve done some scoutin’ around this morning,” said the latter addressing Lovell and Spencer, “and I find your quickest way to get out to Victoria is to go by the Trans-Canada Limited from Montreal to Vancouver. It’s a fast through train that does the journey in ninety-two hours from Montreal. But it’ll only land you in Vancouver. You’ll have to leave Boston tonight at eight-thirty and get the Trans-Canada at five to-morrow after-
“You say it’ll only land me in Vancouver?” echoed Spencer. “Can I get to Victoria by noon of August ninth?”
“That’s the devil of it,” returned Carson. “You can’t reach Vancouver before ten o’clock on the morning of August ninth, and Victoria is located on Vancouver Island and a five hours’ sail by steamer from Vancouver. I figured you couldn’t possibly do it in time so I wired those lawyers explaining matters and they wired back for you to come ahead. They are fighting for a restraint in the closing date of the will and they think it can be managed.”
While Carson was talking to the skipper, a man, whom Spencer recognized as the fellow he had clipped on the Pier the night the Alfarala sailed, approached and spoke. “You’re Captain Spencer of the Alfarata, I take it?”
Billy nodded with a sinking feeling within him. The other took him by the arm and drew him aside. “Where’s Comstock?” he asked brusquely. “What d’ye want to know for?” growled the skipper.
The other flashed the badge of a detective officer and fixed Spencer with a cold and determined eye. “You’ll come along with me,” he said grimly. “I’ve a warrant to apprehend you for complicity in aiding the escape of one Edgar Comstock who made his getaway from the Federal Penitentiary at ColviHe on the morning of April sixth. Don’t make any fuss or I’ll put the bracelets on you!”
Spencer smiled. “I won’t make any fuss, Mister, and I don’t mind telling you all about the affair....”
“Tell it to the Chief!” snapped the man who was evidently cherishing resentment for Billy’s handling of him two weeks past.
Lovell, who had heard the conversation, broke in anxiously, “You’re not going to arrest him are you? He’s got to catch a train tonight. ...”
The detective waved him aside. “He is already arrested and he has to come with me and see the Chief.”
Old Johnny cursed with indignation but to no purpose. All four men tumbled into an automobile and drove to headquarters where Spencer was turned over to a superior official. The skipper told his story and the other showed his disbelief at such an astonishing story by the expression on his face. “That’s the best I’ve heard for many a long day,” he said wearily, “and we do hear some queer ones
Billy spluttered. “Don’t you believe me?” he shouted. “Call up Provincetown and ask them there. You’ll find that the Gregory's lying in the harbor and Comstock is at the hospital. Kimeneff and them other Bolsheviks are in the town jug and I ’cal’late they’re plantin’ Kowalsky and his pals out in the sand-hills....”
The official ordered Spencer removed for a while and they went out into an anteroom. He sat with Carson and Lovell— the two latter wrathfully discussing the affair while Billy remained silent. He was thinking over events of the past three days and his nerves were sagging and he was jaded and depressed.
After an hour’s waiting, he was called inside again and his companions were allowed to accompany him. The official regarded Spencer with some interest. “I’ve been talking with Provincetown,” he said, “and they confirm some parts of your story. I was inclined to disbelieve such an astonishing tale and thought that you had landed Comstock in Canada and spun me that yarn to clear yourself. This is a devil of a serious business. “I cannot allow you to leave the country to-night.’,
Spencer and Lovell argued the unreasonableness of this decision and explained that a fortune stood to be won or lost by a few hours’ delay. “Think of what the lad’s gone through already, sir, and don’t spoil his chances of claiming his brother’s estate,” pleaded Old Johnny.
The other shook his head and said decisively, “I can’t let him leave Boston today. Suppose he goes to Canada and we find that the happenings aboard that ship are not as he states? There’s been eight or nine men killed aboard her. There will have to be an investigation into such a terrible affair. We want him as our principal witness and we find he’s in Canada and refuses to come back? That means all kinds of trouble. You can appreciate my position. I would be dismissed instantly if I let him go without permission from the highest authorities. You can go bail for him on condition that he does not leave Boston, but he can’t go across the border.”
CPENCER remained in the Bureau and ^ Lovell and Carson left the place, furious and wondering what to do. Old John swore he would see the State Attorney, the Governor, even wire the President himself, and he made full speed to the best lawyer in Boston. He spent a small fortune in telegrams and long-distance ’phone calls, and at midnight, his representations had effect. Spencer was told that owing to the special circumstances of his case, he would be allowed to proceed on his private business on a tremendous bond from Lovell and under guarantee that he would return within fifteen days. Old Johnny cursed the inflexibility of the law and swore that within fifteen days Spencer would have the State Governor heading a delegation to acclaim him, and that Bostonians would give him the freedom of the city. But the cold fact remained that all trains for Montreal had gone.
Spencer was apathetic and crest-fallen. The heart had gone out of him, when Old Johnny came bustling along, perspiring and excited. “You’ll make it yet, son,” he cried hopefully. "Wesley Carson’s agoin’ to drive you up to Montreal in a car. I’ve hired the best and most powerful in Boston and your friend knows how to drive it. Hustle, son, and get some glad-rags. He’ll be ready for you in half-an hour!”
Billy and Carson drove all night on the Boston-Montreal highway. They thundered through sleeping villages with glaring headlights illuminating the path and clouds of dust whirling behind. Wesley, an expert driver, burned the miles and gas, and the rising sun revealed the level farm lands of Quebec’s eastern townships through which they sped at prohibited pace. Then the broad waters of the St. Lawrence opened before them and they reduced speed to cross the River on the great Victoria Bridge. Weary, dusty, and with grit in mouth, eyes and ears, they satiated famished appetites in a Montreal restaurant and Billy laughed. “I reckon I live up to that there nick-name of ‘Speedy Spencer’ jest as much ashore as I do at sea. That drive was sure the fastest travelin’ I ever done!”
At five in the afternoon, he boarded the Canadian Pacific Trans-Canada-flyer and was soon stormingwestinthe summerevening. The days that followed permitted Billy to rest his nerves and the ever-changing
panorama of country served to soften the. horrible memory of his voyage in the Gregory. Running on time like a clock, the crack train of the Canadian Pacific tore through the towns and farming settlements of Ontario and plunged into the vast areas of rosks, forests and lakes of the Northern regions of the Province. The stones and scrub dwindled and the earth levelled out when the prairie lands of Manitoba were reached, and Billy imagined he was forging over a great sea of green land when the train traversed the rolling plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Then came a morning when he gazed through the window at the mighty, snowcapped pinnacles of the Rockies, and he knew he was on the last lap of his journey when the Trans-Canada panted through the stupendous passes and canyons of the British Columbian Cordillera. “This here packet has sure logged some knots senee we started,” mused Billy, and he wished ' Fate had made of him a locomotive engineer. “I’d get some speedin’ in that job!”
At the descent of the Pacific slope a young man, wearing a returned soldier’s button, boarded the train at Mission, B.C., and called out Spencer's name. He introduced himself as Walter Deloro— junior partner of the firm of McGraw, Hiscock and Deloro, Barristers, Notaries, etc., Victoria, British Columbia.
“We couldn’t get a restraint on the time of closure on your brother’s will,” he said. “The institutions likely to benefit by the money opposed it. But I’ve taken a chance to get you over to Victoria in time. It’s quite a distance from Vancouver to Victoria by water and we couldn’t do it in less than five hours. But we’ll have two hours to do the distance when we arrive In Vancouver and we’ll fly it easy in an hour
“Fly it?” gasped Spencer aghast.
The other nodded calmly as if flying were the most natural thing in the world. “Yes! I’ve hired an aeroplane and we’ll soon boost you over the Straits of Georgia......”
“I don’t fancy airplanes,” interrupted Spencer nervously. “They ain’t in my line at all even though I’m fond of speed
The young lawyer laughed. “Oh, there’s nothing to it, Mr. Spencer. You’ll like it when you get up off the ground.”
THE train rolled into the Vancouver depot promptly to schedule time after twenty-nine hundred miles of travelling and Spencer was hustled into an automobile and whirled out to Minoru Park where an aeroplane awaited them. A mechante was working at the engine and young Deloro fretted at the delay.
The lawyer donned an aviator’s rig and gave Billy a leather coat, helmet and gauntlets to don. “I’m going to act as pilot this time,” remarked Deloro, “and I’ll shoot you over. I did a lot of flying in France, y’know, when I was in the Flying Corps.” He made the latter observation to reassure Spencer who was looking nervously at him.
Billy was strapped into the seat and Deloro took his place at the controls. “We’ve just got sixty minutes to get from here to the office in Victoria," observed Deloro and his utterance was drowned by the roar of the engine. The mechanic was aboard and in his seat, and the machine raced across the field, the planes were adjusted, and they left the ground. Spencer hung on apprehensively during the takeoff and closed his eyes. He opened them slowly and looked gingerly around. The matter-of-fact manner of the lawyer and the mechanic reassured him, and he took
Roaring aloft, the plane dwindled the city of Vancouver to a living chart of streets, buildings and green spaces, and Billy forgot his nervousness in the magnificent panorama which opened before his eyes. The peaks of the Coast Range serrated the horizon and the silver tracings of the Fraser River delta overlaid the green of the land below them. Ahead lay the sea—shimmering in the sun—and the blue loom of the Vancouver Island mountains towards which they were speeding.
IT WAS cold up aloft and Billy shivered while the rush of the wind almost caused him to gasp. The roar of the engine drowned all other sounds, and he sat still, deaf and dumb, but nevertheless thoroughly enjoying the exhilaration of the flight through the clear and unobstructed ether. “It ain’t a skipper, nor an engine-driver, I would be after this.” he murmured.
“This takes me to the Fair, by Jupiter!”
Time was becoming precious and Deloro was continually scanning his wrist watch. There was something ahead which was worrying him and Spencer realized it when the plane phinged through a bank of foggy vapor. The sight of the earth was blotted out and Deloro began to fidget. If it were foggy around Victoria, landing would be difficult and more valuable time would be wasted. Billy was wondering if he had a fog-horn and what blasts would be sounded in such a craft, and he humorously decided it would be the three honks of a running ship, when the fog thinned out and the land showed beneath. They began to descend in dizzy spirals, and almost before Spencer was aware of it, the plane straightened out and was bumping violently over a grassy sward. “Jump out now!” urged Deloro when the machine stopped. “We’ve got to run for the Club-house yonder.”
Without any ceremony, both men ran for the Golf Club Pavilion near where they landed. Several golfers hailed the young lawyer, but shouting, “Can’t stop. Tell you the story in the Union Club tonight!” he bundled Billy into a waiting auto and gave the chauffeur directions to “drive like the devil and I’ll pay the fines!”
Spencer had scarce regained his breath before the car raced into the quiet city of Victoria and he was bundled out again into a building, up a flight of stairs and into an office where several men were waiting.
Red-faced, perspiring and panting, young Deloro turned around and indicated Billy with a wave of his hand. “Gentlemen! Our client—Mr. William Ainslie Spencer— brother of the late James Winslow Spencer—and heir to his estate!" He glanced at his wrist watch and added, “And gentlemen, it is just three minutes to twelve. Our client is here in plenty of time!’
BILLY Spencer was back in Boston again within the fifteen days, and as Lovell had prophesied, his reception was vastly different. The newspapers had got the story and it furnished them with copy for a week’s sensation while Billy himself was heroized into the limelight from coast to coast—much to his alarm and distaste.
He slunk down to Lovell’s office the morning he arrived back to dodge the news-hounds and camera-men who were trailing him, and he was waiting within when Old John came in.
“I cal’late I got to get a noo skipper for the Alfarata now?” the old fish dealer was saying.
“You have,” replied Billy with a grin. “No more of that for me after this. I’m agoin’ to give up the fast life I’ve been livin’ lately and settle down to peace and quietness. I’m now the owner of a salmon cannery, a saw-mill, a fruit farm and a block of timber limits in British Columbia—”
“And all you need to make it complete,” interrupted the other slyly, “is a wife.” Spencer blushed. His expectant hearing had caught the sound of Miss Comstock’s entrace and he knew that she was within earshot. Old John always spoke at the top of his voice anyway.
“Don’t blush, man,” boomed the fish dealer with a twinkle in his eye. “Nothing to blush for. I’m sure I could fit you out with as trim a little girl as you’d meet anywhere, and I ain’t sure but what she’s took a bit of a shine to you too.”
Two young people on opposite sides of a glass partition were both considerably flustered, and the young woman, looking as sweet as a morning rose and momentarily just as red, started type-writing to cover her confusion. But good white paper was being spoiled with unintelligible sentences and Billy was nervously trying to light the wrong end of a cigar.
"They call you ‘Speedy’ Spencer, ” continued Lovell. “Now, I’d like to see a little speed in a certain direction—”
“Sh!” hissed Billy warningly, but the old man was out for fun and wasn’t to be deterred by the other’s red-faced scowl.
“Miss Comstock! Come here a minute, please!”
SHE came into the office somewhat nervously, and Spencer, fidgeting and apprehensive, was surprised by the change in her appearance. The summer sun, the vacation, and the removal of the trouble that had oppressed her, were all reflected in her face and manner and Billy felt sure that he would never muster courage enough to make the proposal he had been contemplating for weeks past. She had the air
and features of a girl beyond his class and all his hopes and aspirations oozed out through his boots.
Lovell cleared his throat and the skipper wondered what was coming.
“Take a letter, please!”
Mabel sat down at the desk with notebook open and pencil poised. She had merely recognized Spencer’s presence by a demure nod.
“Ahem!” Old Johnny began gravely. “Mr. John Lovell, Fish Pier, Boston. Dear Sir: I regret to inform you that I will be leaving your employ at the end of the month as I am about to be married. Yours very truly—”. He paused and looked humorously at the agitated Spencer and then down on the girl who was holding her pencil in fingers that trembled. He continued, “Sign that letter ‘Mabel Comstock’!”
With a great laugh at the rosy discomfiture of the two young people in his office, Johnny reached for his hat and made for the door. “I’m agoin’ down to the dock for a while and I’ll leave you two folks in charge. You don’t need to answer the telephone unless you like, but I’m alookin’ for a little speed on your part, Billy Spencer!” And he stamped outside, chuckling to himself.
Captain Billy turned from looking out of the window and stole a glance at the girl bending confusedly over her notebook.
“Awful oldfeller, ain’t he, Miss?” he ven-
Miss Comstock raised her eyes and they were smiling. “He certainly is,” she replied shortly. She bent again to the notebook and Billy wondered why she didn’t rise and leave for the outer office. He shuffled his feet on the floor and thought of something to say. He wished to say a .lot, but his inspiration, resolution and nerve had left him. Finally he blurted out, “How’s your father this morning?”
“Coming along splendidly,” replied the girl happily. “He’ll soon be out and around, we hope.”
“Humph.” Billy was still floundering but he was gradually obtaining control of his nerves. “Er—I—I was thinkin’—” he began and stopped as if appalled at the idea of airing his thoughts.
“You were thinking—?” Mabel echoed encouragingly without looking up. Spencer swallowed hard and made up his mind to take the bull by the horns. “Yes, I was —er—thinkin’ that—that Old Johnny’s idea was a good one. Er—that letter, y’know—the one you jest took—” He paused, blushing and embarrassed, and gazed at her half-fearfully. She looked wonderful to him at that moment—fascinatingly desirable—and a small insistent voice seemed to be coming to his rescue when it urged him in terms he could understand. “Now, then, Billy Spencer! There’s a little clipper built craft on your lee and she’s hauling ahead of you, Billy, she’s hauling ahead. Make sail, man, make sail! Nothing was ever won by mothering canvas! Away you go with all your muslin up and give her sheet!” That was the word—“Give her sheet!”—the old Bankfisherman’s “swinging-off” command, and he thought of the many times he had swung his vessel off with booms out, everything hoisted, and the wake a-roaring with white-water. Well, it would be the last
time he would ever do so, maybe----Her
head was bowed over the note-book and she was scribbling circles with her pencil. "Give her sheet!” said the voice within him, and he rose to the occasion.
Stepping across the office he bent down and took her hands within his great bronzed fists. She made no effort to take them away, and he bent over still further until her silky brown hair brushed his cheeks. “Mabel,” he ventured boldly, “I’ve got all that junk out in British Columbia and I need a skipper to take charge. I’ll ship as mate. Mabel, girl, will you be my skipper?”
WHEN Johnny Lovell came barging into his private office, Billy Spencer was signed on for Life’s voyage under a new commander. Both skipper and mate were seated upon Lovell’s roll-top desk, rapturously happy and absolutely oblivious to a continuously ringing telephone. Old John beamed benevolently over his glasses. “Well, well, children,” he boomed with a laugh, “something tells me that Speedy Spencer is no more and that I’m losing a skipper and a stenographer. All that I can say now is, ‘Bless you, my children!’ and I hope you'll let me be god-father to the first young Spencer!” The End