FAR GOLD

ARTHUR HUNT CHUTE July 15 1927

FAR GOLD

ARTHUR HUNT CHUTE July 15 1927

FAR GOLD

Arrived at Punta Arenas, Gabereau runs into a messmate of his pirate days. In breathless succession things piratical happen to all concerned

ARTHUR HUNT CHUTE

THE STORY SO FAR—Arichat—one of the most peaceful villages on the North American Continent— suddenly is plunged into a fever of excitement when a gold doubloon from the Ferrara hoard appears in the village. Sprott Gabereau erstwhile sealing-pirate has, in days gone by, obtained possession of a chart-case containing what he believes to be a map showing the whereabouts of the fabled treasure. He visits the old Ferrara house, ‘Domremey’, and finds there his mate of sealing days, Dugas, counting over a hoard of golden coins. There is a terrific struggle in which Gabereau is rendered unconscious.

Meanwhile, appears a young Spanish Don, claiming to be the Ferrara heir. He demands that Gabereau relinquish possession of the black chart-case and is refused. Sprott buys an old schooner and prepares to go in search of the treasure, as does the F errara heir, Don Juan.

In the midst of preparation Yvonne, Gabereau’s much loved ward, disappears—presumably with Don Juan. Gabereau’s nephew, Paul, is in love with Yvonne and thus is induced to join the Gabereau expedition.

Gabereau’s boat, the Acadian, has shipped an evil crew and attempts are made on the lives of both Paul and Sprott. These, however, are unsuccessful.

PUNTA ARENAS, the most southerly outpost of civilization, stands as the warder of the Never Never Country.

It was well to lay off a man’s past in Punta Arenas. You were fairly safe to venture on his future, which was the quest for gold. But to say that is not enough, while they sought the placer gold of the Horn, which often netted hardworkers as much as ten and twenty dollars a day, they were far from satisfied with such reward, and for every miner, and indeed for every bar lass, as well,

Punta Arenas always found its greatest dreams gathered up in the fortune of Andrea Ferrara.

It was on this very Sandy Point itself, half a century before the town was born, that the old pirate used to make his base.

When he came back to bury his treasure, this was the last point that he touched, and then, after the job was done, back here he came for ballast.

Of course, with such tradition, the town was alive with rumors. Arichat talked of the Ferrara treasure as a fairy story for the fireside.

Punta Arenas cherished the tradition as a challenge to forthfaring and endeavor.

Ask any miners loafing about the bar,

“Were you ever out hunting for the Ferrara treasure?”

Watch his eyes flash as he answers:

‘Was I? I’d like to have the pay for all the months I’ve spent 0’ the trail o’ that Pirate Gold.”

“And have many others been after it?”

“Every man that goes minin’ has taken a whack at it.”

KNOWING Punta Arenas as the inevitable spider’s web of Cape Horn gold seekers, Wild Alec was against the Acadian’s putting in there as a port of call.

“But how are we going to dispose of our sealskins, if we don’t re-ship ’em?” remonstrated the skipper.

“Dunno, but there’s a good place to steer clear of, skipper. Las’ time I was in there, seemed to me the whole colony wasn’t more’n a cable’s length away from Hell. Ordinarily, I don’t mind stickin’ round such places, but not when we’re on the trail o’ the Ferrara treasure, with the old pirate’s own chart fer our sailin’ directions. Don’t forget that every crook in that town has been aiming to get his slice out o’ this same treasure, and if they knowed you had the clue, it would be a damn sight different down here than it was in Isle Madame.”

Sprott Gabereau saw the force of his mate’s advice. Remembering his past experiences of murder and intrigue in this part, he was sorely tempted to pitch over his sealskins, and steer a course straight for the Horn.

Indeed, he went so far as to bring up some of the skins on deck, with the idea of trans-shipment to a passing coaster. But the crew of this Chilian vessel were obviously a bunch of cut-throats. To pitch the priceless pelts into the sea would have been about as wise as trusting

them in such hands. As the two sea otter skins, worth at least four hundred guineas, were laid on the hatches, the skipper’s cupidity mastered his caution, and he sang out, “Here, take them pelts back into the hold.”

“What’s up.”

“I’m going to deliver them myself to the steamship agents.”

“Ye’ll live to regret it.”

“I guess not.”

“But this ain’t worth it, skipper.”

“Umph! I’m payin’ the expenses o’ this here expedition, and be gosh, I ain’t throwin’ away the chance to pick up a thousand guineas fer nothin!”

“What’s a thousand guineas compared to what we’re after?”

“A bird in the hand’s worth two in the bush,” answered the skipper, and thus ending the parley, he directed his course to the port of ill repute.

The harbor, where they came to anchor, was really an open roadstead of the sea, where were congregated a large fleet of coal hulks and coasters, Just ahead of the Acadian was a trim little cruiser flying the tricolor of Chili, while farther out to seaward was a large German barque that had just arrived the day before with coal from Cardiff. Besides these, a score or more of schooners, sloops and catboats, the trading and prospecting fleet of the regions, bobbed about and tugged at the cables, under the smart urge of the ‘Westerlies’, while lighters were passing continually among the fleet.

Paul looked in vain for a glimpse of the Lshuaia.

Evidently, they had beaten them in the windward work coming through the straits. Standing for’ard in the chains, he saw the waterside settlement, backed by its grassy rolling hills, above which rose the mountains green with fadeless verdure. Snowcapped peaks, far away in the Cordilleras, and the biting everlasting wind, prevented any cozy feelings regarding the green of the landscape.

A steel blue sea, and a cold, hard sky w-ere reminders that eternal snow was not far distant.

Fourstreets ran from the beach up over the gentle slopes, streets yellow writh sand, then black with mud and glistening bright with amber pools. A restless, vagrant population kicked up the sand and mud and splashed through pools of stagnant water. The houses were of wood, roofs of zinc and corrugated iron, but more singular still was the fact that every building appeared new, a shining mass of pine boards, and zinc white iron. Where paint w-as indulged in, the prevailing color was a brilliant pink.

As soon as the Acadian let go her anchor, she was surrounded by a host of

small boats, from grocery, and ship’s chandlery firms ashore, seeking orders.

Several of the invaders, over anxious to beat their rivals, already started to come aboard, when they were warned off by a roaring bellow from the skipper.

"Get back there with ye. Back with ye!”

One aggressive fellow, who still held his ground in the foreehains, w as pitched bodily into the sea. by the belligerent mate, who was not slow to realize his skipper’s intention in preventing boarders.

Warned by the icy bath which greeted their over anxious compeer, the rest of the fleet scattered pellmell, and the bluenose schooner was given a wide berth by the sisterhood of small boats during the remainder of her stay in port.

When they were scattering. the skipper shook his fist, glowering darkly.

"Let that be a warnin’ to ye, not to get too nosey round this craft.”

Then, turning to his crew, he announced: "Now then, me lads, we’ve got a secret aboard here that we can't take no chances with. For that reason, we can't allow a damn soul from the port aboard, except the person

who comes to give us pra\

tique. Don’t forget that port there's the Devil’s Half Acre. The less we have to do with it the better. If

anyone but the port doctor (^ { '

tries to horn in here, he is

to be pitched overboard,

and be damned to 'im. No

talk, no chin music, into the

sea with 'im. if there's any

more trouble afterwards,

just leave that to me.”

"D'ye understand?”

"Aye, aye, sir.” From the heartiness of the reply there was no doubt that a warm reception awaited any possible spies that might put out from the Devil’s Half Acre. Before going ashore, Gabereau sent for Paul to come

into his cabin.

Paul found his uncle seated at the table, with the black

chart case lying before him.

”\ou never was very strong on this here Ferrara treasure, was ye?” said the skipper.

"No, sir. I think that the thing will do us more harm than good, before we're through with it. I still believe in what Monsieur le Cure said back in Arichat.”

"And what was that?”

"Money that comes with evil brings evil.”

"Bah! I've heard ’em talk on tainted money, but the only 'taint fer me is ’taint enough.”

Paul started to reply, but his uncle interrupted, “No, '.ver mind opening up on any of your second-hand sermons down here, lad. Punta Arenas is a hell of a long ways o.f from kle Madame. Monsieur le Cure talks about the Kingdom o’ God, but right here and now we’re in the Devil's own dominion. We’ve started on this thing, and we're goin' to see it through.”

Paul nodded his head in assent.

"You’re goin’ to stand by me in this thing, ain’t ye,

Paul?”

"I’ll stand by you, whatever happens.”

At this, Gabereau rose from his seat, with a burst of Gallic enthusiasm, and shook his nephew’s hand effusively. "God bless ye, me lad. I knew ye would.”

"But what good am I to you?”

"It's little ye know o’ a treasure hunt, me son, or ye wouldn't be askin’ that question.

"Treasure makes men forget love, honor and everything else, in the fever of desire.”

"Yea, just like you and poor little Yvonne,” said Paul bitterly.

"Aye, I guess we’re both smitten with the same attack,’ assented Gabereau. “But the lucky thing is that you are on this trip with us, and you are the only one I know that isn’t liable to madness. You’re like the feller

that goes to the plague camp immune.”

"And what’s that got to do with it?”

“Why, everything. If you can’t get the plague, you can go in, and you can come out again. Without someone like that, we’d stand a poor chance.”

“What d’ye mean?”

‘Come ashore with me in Punta Arenas, and I’ll show ye. They may take lots of gold out of the mines in this God forsaken country, but before they’re through, they

always blow it in again in that infernal port. When a man starts on the gold trail, it seems as if there ain’t no such thing as getting clear.”

“All of which goes to prove what a/rotten business we’re embarked upon.”

Again the skipper raised his hand in protest. “My dear fellow, you really ought to have gone in for the church. You can’t lay off them sermons, but as I was saying before. I’m glad I’ve got ye all the same, because I know you’ll stick by me.”

“Through thick and thin,” assented Paul.

“Aye, and because ye’re a good Gabereau, and not a bad one, like your uncle. I’ll bank on you till hell freezes.”

With this, the skipper opened the case, and taking out the roll of parchment, opened it and began to scan the chart of the landing, which the old pirate had sketched on the reverse side.

Then, folding the whole thing carefully, he explained. “This is the thing we’ve got to watch from now on, Paul. From the minute we go ashore, at Punta Arenas, we’re in a hot bed of conspiracy. I know, for I’ve been there before. For that reason, I want to put this parchment with its directions into a safe place.”

“And what do you call safe.”

“Not aboard this schooner, that’s sure.”

“Don’t you think it’s all right in the cabin?”

“Wouldn’t dare to leave it here. Don’t know what guy may take the idea o’ makin’ off with it while we’re gone.”

“Well, the best thing then is to carry it on our own person.”

“Exactly. But I think you had better take it, instead of me.”

“How’s that?”

“Because, if any dirty work is started, they’ll expect to find the chart on my person. For that reason, Paul, I want you to let me sew this thing into your inside pocket, and wherever you are, don’t let this jacket get away from you.”

“Aye, aye,” said Paul, opening his coat, while the skipper, with thread and needle, set to work.

When this task was completed, he exclaimed. “And one thing more, Paul, if any dirty work starts while we’re ashore, don’t you wait to see what happens, just make off with the chart and leave me alone.”

“Don’t like to do that.”

“I’ll take care 0’ meself, you take care of the chart. “But, of course, I’m only doing all this for a precaution. Don’t really expect any trouble, long as we can get away again before the Ushuaia arrives; there’s no one round here that knows us, or will ever have the slightest suspicion that we’ve got this secret. If there was, you can bet your boots, I wouldn’t be taking any chance and going ashore, no, not for a thousand guineas worth o’ pelts, nor fer five times that.” With the chart finally disposed of, Paul and the skipper set off for the shore.

A long wooden and iron pier furnished a landing, at the end of which stood a new wood and iron hotel, two stories high, having a barroom in the corner next * to the pier.

The skipper, intent on the business in hand, was pressing on toward the town, when the door of the bar opened, and a gray-haired old pirate lurched out of the bar, and stood fairly before them. Paul noted his brickred face, accentuated by his hoary head, piercing black eye, and fierce beak of a nose.

For a moment, he barred their progress, gazing as one who reached into the misty long-gone past.

Then, just as the two were starting to press forward, he exclaimed:

“Sprott Gabereau, eh? Who’d a thought that we’d ’ave ever seen ye again. But they always come back to this Devil’s Land.”

' I 'HE blunt skipper could not veil his displeasure at this unlooked for recognition. Here, on his first step ashore, he had walked right plumb into the very thing most dreaded. But the individual who blocked his way was not the kind to be easily shaken.

“Don’t ye remember me, Sprott Gabereau? I’m ten years older than ye, but by the look o’ yer waist line, I’m ten years younger in the carcass.”

“Who are you, anyway?” Sprott’s voice was gruff with evident displeasure.

“Don’t even remember my name, eh!” Here the old pirate let out a hearty laugh.

“Ha, ha, ha. By rights, I ought to keep ye guessing. Come in the bar, here, and I’ll show ye something, Sprott, that may jog yer memory.”

There was no withstanding this imperious acquaintance, so the two followed him into the bar. As they entered, there, on the wall to the right, he motioned toward a large picture representing a group of eighteen men posed in the attitude of troopers repelling a charge, the leader astride of a couple of dead Indians, was none other than their new acquaintance, recognizable, in spite of times’ changes, by the hawklike nose and strutful mien.

“Remember me now, old-timer?”

A strange transformation came over Sprott’s face as he regarded this picture, suspicion and restraint fled. With a sudden warming up of the cold exterior, he grasped the other by the hand.

“My God, if it ain’t Dan Slogett.”

“His soul-case at least, old timer, ain't much o’ the soul left, though, after twenty five years in this devil's land. You went away to a decent country, you’ve been living in a safe domain.”

“How do you know?”

“Can tell by the look o’ ye. But, what in the world ever brought ye back to this sink of iniquity?”

“Sealin’; in the blood, couldn’t get it out.”

“Got some skins with ye now?”

“Aye, about forty-five here for trans-shipment, and a couple otters.”

“Good man. We’ll take ye to the agents to get it fixed up, but first let’s have a smile. And who’s the young feller with ye? Yer son?

“No, my nephew, Paul. Meet my friend, Dan Slogett.” “How do you do, sir.”

“Howdy, young feller.”

“Now, come over here again till I show you that picture. See anyone you recognize there?”

“Yes,” said Paul, “That’s you, isn't it?”

“Anyone else you recognize?”

“No.”

“Who’s this?”

“Couldn’t say.”

“Well, that nice looking, slim chap, is yer pot-bellied uncle Sprott. Don’t wonder ye couldn’t recognize him. A slick easy life does play hell with some of ’em.”

“And tell me what this picture represents?”

“Well, ye see your uncle and I was shipmates together once aboard a sealing schooner called the Santa Anna, with one o’ them hazin’ Yankee skippers fer a master. When he had a full cargo of skins, he started hazin’ us so everlastingly, that first place we touched in, we lads beat it. That place happened to be Punta Arenas.

“While we was on the beach, here, we heard o’ gold over yonder, and o’ course, like all young bloods, we got the fever.

“It was the month of September when we started out, spring in these latitudes, but snow was so deep that we had to clear our way for miles with shovels. Then, the brush was so thick that we had to begin carving our way by axes. In time, we arrived at the Santa Maria River, where we found eight men at work sluicing out about seven hundred grains of gold a day. This wasn’t wages, so we kept pushin’ on and on, discovering capes, rivers, and ranges o’ hills, with here and there more placer gold.

“Finally, we fell in with the Indians, about eighty o’ them, all armed with bows. They surprised us with a shower of arrows, and we turned loose with Winchesters. That picture ye see there, son, represents the end o’ the fight, and the dark handsome looking gent, in the rear is yer Uncle Sprott. Leastways, that’s the man he was.”

“Now, then, let’s get over to the bar and have a drink.”

Stepping down the bar, Paul listened again to the amazing reminiscences.

“Yea, I been on cne trail o’ gold out o’ this God forsaken port for over twenty five years now, Sprott.”

“Did ye ever strike it lucky ”

“No, not that ye could boast oí. Seems to me this business is like all other specula" ng, they never let ye take it away. No matter hew much ye’d make out in the bush, ye’d always blow it all in again, just as soon as ye got back to town.”

“Ought to ’a had more sense,” grunted the judi 'ous Sprott.

“Aye, but we ain’t all as wise as the old bluenose skinflint. I always remember you as a shipmate, Sprott, you had a one way pocket, money went in, but it didn’t come out. Bet you’ve got your first nickel yet.”

As though to answer this challenge, Sprott called laughingly for another round of drinks, while his long lost friend, waxing increasingly voluble, opened up with an account of his last expedition.

“Wasn’t off that time for gold,” he remarked significantly.

“What were you after?”

“I was off fer the Ferrara treasure.”

The eyes of the skipper narrowed, while the look of the sly fox instinctively crept into his hard, grasping features. Thoroughly occupied with his recital, Dan Slogett proceeded:

“Yes, sir. I got a bay named after me, Slogett Bay is what they call it, but I came near leavin’ more than me name there. And it was all on account o’ this cursed treasure.

“Come to think of it, I’d like to know how many brave fellows have scattered their bones across the Straits there, lookin’ fer them everlastin’ chests o’ Andrea Ferrara.

“Well, no one lives in this place long without gettin’ the bug, and o’ course, I got it, along with the rest.

“A feller come in here one night with a cat boat full o’ bullet holes, and the decks red with blood. I happened to be on the landing, as he come ashore, and seein’ he was nigh frozen to death, I took him in to bunk with me. He was pretty well tuckered out-when he landed, but he soon picked up, and then one day he told me that he and his mates had been down after Ferrara’s treasure, and had fallen foul of the Yahgans. But what got me goin’ was that he had one o’ them Spanish gold doubloons which them Indians give him, before they had the falling out. What’s more, they told him that there were chests full of it, down there in a place where I’d already been, after common pay-dirt.

“The place was on the South coast of Tierra del Fuego, abcut forty miles west of the Strait of Le Maire. More expeditions have been fitted out to go there than to any two diggings besides. They always get grid, and they always lose lives.

“Indeed, I’ll tell you, Sprott, more lives have been lost at Slogett Bay, than at all the rest o’ the Cape Horn diggin’s, and that’s sayin’ a lot.”

“You bet ye.”

“Well, I wouldn’t a taken no more trips down there just fer common gold. But when it was for the Ferrara treasure, that was different.

“We had a chance, just then, to buy up a good stout sealing schooner, called the Constance, so we formed a syndicate, and fourteen of us chaps bought her fer the Ferrara treasure expedition. There’d been lots o’ expeditions before us fellers, but we had that Spanish gold doubloon to bank on, so, of course, we made up our minds that ours was the schooner that was going to come back ballasted with Golden Virgins and diamond crucifixes.

“We worked all of every low tide, and ate and slept during high water. According to the dope our pardner had from the Indians, these here chests were buried under the high water mark, so o’ course, we couldn’t work double tides, as we would a done, otherwise. Ye see we was so crazy fer that treasure that we didn’t hardly want to take time to eat or sleep.

“Well, we was so red-hot in gettin’ after the stuff, that we made one terrible mistake. We slept in our schooner, to save time. We was all so dead beat, when we knocked off, that we didn’t even have a man to spare to keep a lookout.

“One night, we went to sleep, as usual, absolutely all in, from a hard day’s labor. Then, while we was all sleeping, along comes one o’ them rip snorters o’ the real old Cape Stiff variety.

“The Constance was picked up on a great grandfather of a wave, cornin’ out of Eternity, and smashed into kindling wood, on that ironbound shore.

“There was only one feller in that gang left alive, and that was me, and curiously enough, I come through without a scratch.”

“Didn’t you know anything about it?” inquired Paul aghast.

“Nary a thing. There I was, asleep like a babe in a cradle. I remember dreamin’ there was a storm, and then, next thing I knew, I woke up lying on the beach, with the wreckage o’ the poor old Constance lyin’ all around me.”

“And what did ye do then, Dan?” inquired Sprott.

“What did I do, why sure I camped on the beach, and worked away at low water, ’tween the tides, still lookin’ fer the Ferrara treasure.”

“And ye never found it?”

“No,” answered the miner, with a disgusted tone in his voice. “Just when 1 was plumb sure I was about on to them there chests, a Government cruiser come along and picked me off.”

CPROTT GABEREAU and Dan Slogett passed up the O pier-head bar arm in arm. The two old shipmates were nicely jingled. But Paul, who brought up in the rear, was steady as a church.

Together they went to steamship agents, where Sprott arranged the necessary details for the transshipment of his sealskins to London in one of the Pacific Mail steamers which was due to call there on the following Monday.

With this business attended to, the skipper was intent on returning to his vessel but Dan Slogett would not hear of it.

“Blow in here after midday, and go off before sunset! Nothin’ doing, old timer, you're just goin’ to stay along wi’ yer shipmate.”

With the convivial glow of a few drinks,

Sprott was a far different man from the canny, calculating individual who had talked with Paul down in the cabin, a short time before.

"Where away, then?” he inquired, as they stood in the street before the Plaza, looking at the dingy and dilapidated residence of the Governor.

“There’s only one place here.”

“And that?”

"A joint run by a little kid called Raymonde, just outside the town. Ye can have a good game of baccarat, always a chance to win or drop a hundred up there in an hour, and as I remember ye, Sprott, ye used to be quite a boy fer ruinin’ the bank.”

"Stud poker's good enough fer me, now.”

"All right, let her be poker,” agreed Dan. "But I'll promise, before ye get there, ye’ll find something up at Raymonde's better than any gambling table, and that's the little lass herself. The boys all call her the Belle o’ Cape Horn; don’t see, fer the life o' me, how such a little dish o’ peaches and cream was ever set down in this vile hole.”

"It's hard to imagine what brings some wimmen to some places.”

"I mph! it’s easy' to imagine what brought this little gold-digger to this place.

She's the biggest sky-high gambler, bo, that ever come down the pike, only a little handful o’ fluff, that ye could trot upon yer knee; but, take it from me, she’s one o’ them what belongs to the old days when we used to have lions and tigers in the woods. Now we got nothin’ but chipmunks.”

"What d’ye mean?”

"Why, she's a gambler, kind that ’ud play with ten thousand head o’ sheep in the jack-pot.”

“Sounds like a kid that 'ud take a chance.”

"Ain't never seen the man yet that could call her bluff, she's the greatest gambler in this town, in pants or petticoats, and no mistakin’ it.”

While Dan talked on the charms of his lady, they climbed the high hill above the town. Lagging behind, Paul turned to regale himself with the splendid panorama that stretched at their feet. The yellowish hills of Tierra del Fuego rose in the east, beyond the broad blue waters of the Strait. The snow capped peaks of Mount Sarmiento, and its glistening sisterhood, appeared above the horizon at the south, while in the west the evergreen mountains rose boldly from the water’s edge. And there, right in front of these dark-green mountains lay the zinc and pink town, the most absurd foreground to magnificent landscape that was ever imagined.

While Paul was still lost in wonder at this unrivalled prospect, his companions called him, and together they turned in at a gateway which led up to a neat red house, built somewhat on the model of an ancient colonial mansion of the Southern States. In front, there was a yard full of flower beds, coaxed on, even at that season. A g.ass conservatory, at the side, was set apart for great masses of potted flowers and shrubs. In the front of the house, wild fuchsias made the most display', while ferns and lichens were artistically laid out to delight the eye by' their very unexpectedness.

As they stood there, the door burst open, and a clear, treble voice called.

“Why, hullo, Dan, old dear.”

Beside the two rough men the girl looked fragile as a piece of Dresden china. Bringing up the rear, Paul noticed that there was a certain athletic vigor about her, a as she leaped fairly into the arms of the giant Dan, smoth-

ering him with kisses, nestling and purring up against him like a little pussy.

This was the rough miner’s portion of love and affection waiting by the garden gate. Feigning to be disgusted, he fumed, “Hey, get off o’ me, will ye!”

At which, Petite Raymonde bounded to her feet, pouting and then dancing off again, exclaimed.

“And who are your friends, Dan.”

“Friends, Hell, these ain’t friends, they’re shipmates.”

"Oh, oh, isn’t that wonderful!”

“Remember the picture, kid, down at the pierhead bar, o’ me and some more o’ the boys holdin’ off the Indians?”

“I should say I do.”

“Well, this great big walrus, here, Cap’n Gabereau, is one o’ them boys.”

As one of the family, it was Sprott’s turn to get a hug and kiss, which he was not at all backward about receiv-

ing. While Raymonde, patted him affectionately, exclaimed:

“D’ye know what I’m goin’ to call you?”

“What?”

“Old Uncle Pug. You’ve got a face on you like a great big pug dog, you’re so ugly you’re almost pretty, Uncle Pug.” This rechristening was followed by another kiss.

“And now,” said Dan, “here’s a young feller, far too young fer you. This is Paul Gabereau, so you can treat him as if you was his mother.”

“His grandmother, you mean,” said Raymonde, coming on with some more kisses, at which, Paul turned and fled, to the accompaniment of roars of laughter from the others.

Back and forth around the garden they raced, Paul as fearful of the kissing woman, as though she were one of the daughters of the Sirens.

He was quick, but she was quicker, and catching him suddenly like a flash of light, she tapped him lightly on the shoulder, calling ‘tag.’

“Kiss him,” admonished Dan. But the girl’s answer was to fling away, disdainful.

As she ushered them in, Dan inquired, “Anyone up here this afternoon at the tables?”

“Not a soul.”

“Well, what’s the chance fer a game of draw poker?”

“All the chance in the world, old dear, but let’s sit down first and have a talk. I haven’t seen a stranger from the outside world for months and months.”

At a signal from Raymonde, an oily looking Chilian, in a white coat, brought them several rounds of drinks, while under the combined influence of Bacchus and Venus Sprott waxed increasingly convivial.

As they drank and talked, the idea of poker and baccarat seemed to fade into the distance. Captain Gabereau had been all over the seas, and Petite Raymonde was not without far interests. Somewhere at the end of the world, at the end of the seas, her amazing mind was bent on one sure quest, at least so thought Paul, as he sat slightly out of the inner ring, drinking less, and listening more.

Now and again, Raymonde turned to urge upon him a potent concoction, but the young cock was not as easy as the wise old roosters.

Finally, it was Gabereau himself who broached the subject of the Ferrara treasure.

“Of course, you’ve heard of it?” he inquired of Raymonde.

She who had been plying him with questions from all over the seas, answered in most casual manner.

“I should like to know who hasn’t.”

“Sitting apart, Paul seemed to see a flash passing between her and Old Dan.

At this, he fell to thinking of Yvonne and Don Juan. Youth and Age strangely joined. And here it was again, only more glaring in its contrast of beauty and the beast. What could ever bring these two together? Here again was one of those sexless unions consummated by the love of gain. Paul’s mind was wandering on this subject, when Sprott inquired:

“And what d’ye know about this Ferrara family, they came from my home town of Arichat. Ever heard of any of ’em at Punta Arenas?”

“I should say so. We knew them all down here.”

“Tell me about them.”

“Well, first there was Andrea, the old pirate himself. Half a century before this town was born, he used to land on Sandy Point for wood and water, and this was his last place of call, just before he buried his treasure.”

“And what about his sons?”

“The whole four generations of ’em have been here. The first was a prisoner in the old penal colony. The next was a sailor, the third generation was represented by a son who was here as governor, and then his son was an officer in the Argentine Navy.

“Why wasn’t he in the Chilian Navy?” “On account of his father, the former Governor, plotting a revolution. The Ferraras were always in revolutions.” “And what’s the name of this last chap?” “Captain Don Juan, he’s the one that claims to be the last heir to the treasure. And what’s more, he’s the one who says he’s bound to get it.” Petite Raymonde uttered this last with a fine inflection of sarcasm, which did not fail to strike an appreciative chord.

While they were still absorbed in talk over the Ferraras, the sleek looking Chilian came in to remind his mistress that it was time for supper.

With the early night of the high south latitudes already coming on, Paul began to gaze anxiously at the lengthening shadows without. Somehow, on account of all that he had heard of Punta Arenas, he did not relish walking down those dark streets with that secret sewn against his breast. There was fear, it seemed, for any who touched that fatal parchment.

With this agitation within, he rose and announced, “I guess we had better be going, before it get’s too dark.” But Dan Sloggett pulled him imperiously into his seat again. “Stay right where ye be, young feller. We’ll bide here for a bite 0’ supper, and then I’ll see the two 0’ ye down to the landing. How does that suit ye, Sprott?” “Sure, that’s O.K., Dan.”

In spite of Paul’s misgivings, in the gathering gloom, such feelings seemed to flee as they sat under a bright light at a table where the viands were a pure delight, after long months of hard fare upon a sealing schooner.

At the end of the supper, Petite Raymonde went out to fix the coffee, bringing in each steaming cup herself. “This is for you, old Uncle Pug.”

“And this is for the boy that’s never been kissed," she exclaimed, as she placed Paul’s cup beside him.

Everyone, even the dour Paul, was in fine spirits by this time, and he joined as loudly as any in the general laughter.

Shortly after the drinking of the coffee, they all rose and went into the big room, where suddenly, without the slightest premeditation, the skipper went over and laid himself out on the sofa, announcing drowsily.

“I’m tired, I’m goin’to—”

Even before he finished speaking, he had trailed off into sleep. Sitting in a great chair before the fire, Paul felt a great peace stealing over him, the fire was so warm, the room so cozy, everything had such a soothing, softening influence, his eyes closed for just a moment, and in an instant, he, too, had lapsed into profoundest slumber.

PAUL was the first to awaken from that mysterious and stupefying sleep. Where was he? Vi hat had happened?

He opened his eyes to gaze upon a room where twilight was thickening. The fires had gone out, and everything felt bleak and cold. As he looked about, thebe, stretched out on the sofa, was the bulky form of the skipper, announcing his presence by stertorous breathing.

Paul roused himself, and stood erect. He was stiff in every joint, while his head seemed misty and confused.

“Brrr, it’s cold,” he exclaimed, as..................

Continued on page. 28

Far Gold

Continued, from page 22

“Brrr, it’s cold,” he exclaimed, as breath appeared like smoke in the chill air. Then, regarding the abandoned rooms, the past began to return dimly. He remembered that they had been there with Dan Sloggett, Petite Raymonde had given them coffee, and they had slept, it seemed, for ages.

A ray of dawning light began to appear, lie reached frantically for the sewn-up

pocket, in the breast of his coat, then suddenly burst forth in dismay.

“My God, they've got it-.”

In a moment, he was vigorously shaking his uncle, who was at first too thick to apprehend anything.

“Wha’s—er—ma—t—r?”

“Wake up! wake up! They’ve stolen our secret!”

Continued on page 30

Continued from potje 28

At this information, the dazed skipper seemed to leap into consciousness. Gripping Paul fiercely by the shoulders, he growled.

“What’re ye givin’ us!”

“Yes, it’s gone,” said Paul, presenting to view the inner pocket of his coat, which had been cut neatly away with something sharp as a razor.

Sprott was not as long as his nephew in leaping to conclusions.

“I see it all now,” he gasped bitterly. “Like a poor fool, I come up here with that Dan Sloggett, and a good skin full 0’ booze. Dan and his little huzzy done the rest. They doped our coffee with laudanum or something last night, and while we’ve been sleeping the clock round, them two have been making a clean getaway.”

“Where d’ye s’pose they went?”

“Don’t ask fool questions. Only one place fer them, and what’s more, they’re a pair 0’ Cape Horn storm birds. Come on, we ain’t goin’ to let the grass grow under our feet.”

Directing their steps to the waterfront, Sprott spent the next hour picking up clues of the missing Dan.

Had he been seen?

Yes, late last night, he was there, along with Petite Raymonde, strange union, wasn’t it? Said that he was eloping with the girl.

What were they doing?

Fitting up his prospecting yawl, the Mary G. Seemed in an uncommon hurry. Worked all night. Everyone thought that he was off on some new prospecting venture, likely had a tip, but what got them guessing was the supplies he took aboard, no mining implements, no lumber for sluicing, just provisions, and he took an everlasting w’hack of the same.

What time did he sail?

Just as soon as it was daylight, to see to navigate over the bars. He and his girl cast off, and before long they were out of sight.

Which way?

To the eastward.

It was long after dark by the time Sprott had gained all this information, but once sure of the others’ movements, he did not hesitate in his own plans.

Before the following dawn cast its rosy hues upon the snow-clad peaks, the Skipper, Paul, Wild Alec MacLean, Baptiste LeBlanc, and Yen, the faithful Jap, were headed to the eastward, in a ten-ton sloop, which they had purchased from a mining gang, and stocked up for a long cruise.

At first they had intended setting out in the schooner, but the navigation of labyrinthian bays and shallow channels warned the skipper that a small boat, of light draft was preferable.

After leaving Laredo Bay, they gave Cape Porpesse a wide berth, passed Santa Marta Island, and edged away for the narrows. When abreast of Cape Gregory, noticing that the end of the eastward current was at hand, the skipper sang out.

“Inside the bay there’s where we’ll anchor till the westerly drift is over.”

It was difficult navigating but they were soon riding at their moorings. Sprott at once got his glass and began to study the Fuegian shore. Suddenly, he handed his glass over to the mate inquiring:

“What do you make that out to be just ahead there, in close to the land?”

“That’s a yawl! S’help me if we haven’t got a line on ’em all ready.”

As the current and wind were now both ahead, skipper, mate and Paul put off in the dinghy to investigate.

As they came nearer, it became apparent that the yawl was none other than the Mary G., which Dan Sloggett had formerly pointed out to the Skipper off the pier-head landing. The strange fact about’her was that she rode in the

tideway with mainsail up, and jibs unstopped.

“Looks mighty queer.”

“Must have left her in one gosh awful hurry.”

As they came warily alongside, Paul, who was in the bows, stood up to look into the cock-pit of the yawl, at which a cry of horror escaped him.

The tiller and sternsheets were red with blood.

On the sides of the cuddy were a number of holes where Winchester bullets had come through from below, while two hideous looking harpoons, about seven feet long, were impaled against the slide.

“The Alaculoofs,” muttered the skipper aghast. “Fer once, Dan Sloggettt must a got caught unawares.”

V\ THILE they were still regarding ^ V the blood on the abandoned yawl, there came an unearthly series of shrieks, and a flotilla of six Indian war canoes, manned in all by about fifty half-naked savages, hove in sight from around the foreland.

They were paddling furiously, and were evidently the worse for liquor.

Wild Alec and the skipper exchanged significant glances.

“Crazy drunk.”

“Got into Sloggett’s rum.”

Bringing up the Winchesters, Yen passed them out, giving to each man a hundred rounds of ammunition.

“Now then,” cautioned the skipper, “don’t open fire till I give the word. We’ve got to get the secret chart back, and if they’ve polished off old Dan, the chances are that they’ll have the parchment in their own possession, so it’s no good going out of our way to antagonize them.”

The war canoes approached at high speed, and as they drew nearer, to their horror, the crew of the sloop beheld the bloody head of Dan Sloggett, impaled on a spear in the bow of the leading canoe.

Suddenly Sprott Gabereau fired across the nearest canoe, puncturing them just above the water line, and at the same time, giving imperious signal to halt.

As the drunken savages still came on, the skipper muttered, “All right, boys, let ’em have it, aim just below their water line. Sink, but don’t kill.”

“Hell, why not kill the swine?” snarled Wild Alec.

“Because, we’ve got to try to get that chart from ’em, ye fool. If we start killin’, that ’ill be the end of it.”

With a perfect fusilade of rifle bullets, under her water line, the war canoe slowly began to settle in the water. In sudden dismay, the savages held up, and a few moments later were rescued from their sinking craft by the following canoes.

This time, the others bethought themselves to obey the mandate of the rifles, and came to, resting on their paddles, while the skipper hailed them, announcing that the chief, and his rowers, could come within talking distance, the rest to hold off.

The chief, as he stood up in the bow of his canoe, wore a shirt and a blanket. His head looked about three sizes too big for his body, which was large enough, but the head with its towsled, shaggy mane, appeared tremendous in contrast. The nose was flat, the mouth brutal, the eyes sly, while the total effect of the face was sinister and threatening. No wild beast of the forest could have appeared more menacing than this abysmal creature.

In spite of his appearance, he spoke fluent English, which he said he had learned from a missionary at Beagle Channel; evidently the gift of tongues was the only virtue that had been bestowed by the mission.

“What happened to the crew of that boat there?” demanded the skipper.

“We kill man,” announced the chief, with a sardonic grin.

“What did you do that for?”

“We come to trade with him, he go down into cabin, and fire at us with gun, kill one, two, three our men, we get mad and go after him, cut his head right off.”

“And where’s the girl.”

“She’s back on hill.” Here the chief pointed to the blue ridge of the Fuegian shore.

“We take her off the boat, after we kill white man. She no want to come; we drag her by the hair. She fight, scratch, and bite, like wild cat. Me goin’ to take her for wife, she get knife, kill one, two men. I don’t want her no more for wife, take her out and tie her under trees on hill, yonder.”

“What did you tie her under trees for?” A hideous smirk came over the Chief. “Me tie her under there for beasts to feed on.”

At this piece of sardonic humor, he let out a high, neighing laugh, in which all his boat crew joined lustily.

“And what do you want now?” “Rum.”

“Bring back that girl, and we’ll give you plenty rum.”

After a parley among themselves, some were evidently intent on charging the white men, but the row of Winchesters had already made an example and so, electing the course of discretion, they agreed to bring the girl back, in return for the rum. At which they all withdrew.

About an hour later, the chief’s canoe appeared alone. When he was near enough for converse, the skipper covered him with his rifle.

“Just stay where you are! And, now then, where’s the girl?”

“Can no bring her.”

“Why’s that?”

“Panther, there first.”

“You give me rum now.”

“No.”

At this, with a sudden burst of overmastering rage, the Alaculoofs dropped their paddles, and grasping their harpoons started to attack the handful of despised whites.

Wild Alec was slightly wounded by the first harpoon thrown, but in the next instant, he shot the chief through the heart, and then, with a grunt of satisfaction, watched his friends polish off a couple more. This was too much for the savages, and without delay they beat a hasty retreat.

That night, under cover of darkness, the skipper and Yen were put ashore in the the dinghy, in order to go up the hill indicated and look for the secret, and incidentally to gather up the bones of the girl. They both carried their Winchesters, and setting out confidently, vanished into the brush. That was the last that was seen of them. The wilderness swallowed them completely.

As the hill indicated was only about a mile away, they should have been there and back easily inside an hour, but hour after hour passed without a trace of them.

The mate and Paul, who rowed them ashore, grew more and more alarmed, as they waited just off the beach in the dinghy.

After midnight, when hope for the missing pair was almost abandoned, a piercing scream came over the silent water from the direction of the sloop.

Rowing back with all haste, Paul and the mate were just in time to hear the distant sound of retreating paddles, and coming aboard, there was Baptiste LeBlanc’s decapitated frame sprawled across the cuddy, his body pierced with half a dozen harpoons, his useless rifle still clutched in his cold grasp.

All through the rest of that night, the two survivors kept watch for signal fires on the shore from the missing skipper but there was no sign. Long before dawn the mate had abandoned hope.

“No use,” he announced. “We might as well haul up the killick and head back fer port.”

To his consternation, Paul announced:

“No, sir, I’m not going to leave here until I take one more chance ashore there to see what I can find.”

“You’ll find yer grave, along with the rest of ’em.”

But to the mate’s disgust, argument was vain, and placing his rifle in the dinghy, Paul started boldly for the shore.

AS Paul Gabereau came upon the ■ beach, he saw above him the dark outline of mountains standing clear against the moonlit sky. In order to escape detection he pulled his dinghy up along the shingle, and rolled it under a thick beech-wood growth.

Then, standing on the fringe of the thicket, he strained to listen to those voices that rise at night-time on the fringes of the forest, the sound of a possum, the far off cry of a loon, the swish of wind in the tree tops, and the low croon of the tide.

Beyond the sounds of nature, there was nothing alarming, and he set out, walking warily, with rifle cocked, in the direction of the hill top. The ascent was slow, and greatly impeded by the thickness of the brush, but Paul was an experienced woodsman and knew how to make his way.

For the next hour, with untiring patience, guided by the profoundest lore of the woodsman, Paul proceeded to sweep back and forth across that forest hill.

Even his infinite patience was becoming exhausted, when his ear was directed to a purring sound, like that of a giant cat.

A panther!

The purring sound came nearer, drew away, came nearer once again. But there was no sight of the animal. In a sudden panic, forgetting all else, Paul pulled his trigger. At the report, the whole night seemed to send back a thousand echoes, and then, as he strained to listen, there came the unmistakable sound of a woman’s voice, crying: “Don’t shoot it! Don’t Shoot it!” Following the sound of that cry, Paul burst out into a brief , clearing, and there, tied to a tree with hands behind her, was Petite Raymonde, while, to add to the gruesomeness of the situation, up and down in front of her a monstrous panther was cavorting about as joyously as a playful kitten.

At sight of this puissant animal, Paul’s blood seemed to freeze in his veins.

Utterly ignoring him, the panther continued to purr, and roll over, and gallop from side to side, and make no end of kittenlike motions, all because of the exuberance of its youthful spirits. Then, most amazing of all, it returned to rub' itself lovingly against the body of the girl, in motions of gentlest friendship.

It was Raymonde who spoke first, seeing Paul at last in the dim moonlight, she let out a rapturous cry of joy, not unlike that of their first meeting, but this time, the voice was woefully weak.

“Oh, oh, Paul, I can’t believe that’s you.”

Paul was still fingering his rifle, and eyeing the panther with suspicion, when she called:

“Don’t harm him, whatever you do, don’t harm him.”

“Because the dear creature has saved my life. You know down here they call the panther the ‘friend of man’, and so indeed I found him to be. As soon as those frightful savages tied me here and went away, that dear old panther came out of the woods, purring as if he couldn’t say how glad he was to see me, and he’s been sticking by me ever since.”

“Have you been here long?” inquired Paul, as he proceeded to undo her thongs.

“Two nights and a day. And if it hadn’t have been for my friend, the panther, you wouldn’t have found anything here but my bones.”

"How’s that?”

"Because, he drove away the jaguars and other beasts of prey that came to destroy me.”

With this new ally of the wilderness, known as the 'friend of man’, Paul found himself strangely confident, and carrying the exhausted girl, he started down again to the beach.

All the way, the faithful panther trailed them, and still stood there, keeping up its endless kitten-like motions, when they were at last safely embarked in the dinghy, and on the way back to the cutter.

By the time they arrived aboard, the girl was in a comatose state.

MacLean, who heard them coming, could hardly believe his ears, when Paul shouted that he had brought the girl back alive.

All through the following day, the twro of them kept a bright lookout for Yen and the missing skipper, but there was no more sign of them, and finally, toward evening, with the tide starting to run westward, with their last hope extinguished, they proceeded to get under way.

Rest aboard the sloop did much to revive Raymonde, who was possessed of that greatest of all aids to recovery, a resilient spirit.

By the second day, she was able to sit up and chat with all her accustomed vivacity. But underneath, there was evident a restraint, not there on their first meeting.

Just past twilight of the second day, the ill starred craft arrived back at Punta Arenas, and was made fast alongside of the pier-head jetty. As it was supper time, there were no idlers about to witness the return of the forlorn hope.

MacLean, without even the formality of a goodbye, went into the nearest bar, and left the girl standing there alone in the gathering gloom, leaning, with a sudden pitiful weakness, upon the strong arm of Paul Gabereau. In that moment repression and restraint seemed to fade away.

Clutching at him, with both hands upon the lapels of his coat, standing a-tip-toe, gazing with all her woman’s soul into his eyes, she gasped,

“Paul, darling.”

As Paul bent toward her, she kissed him, not the kiss of passion, but the kiss of childhood’s trust and faith. Then, as they parted, she slipped something into his hand.

“What’s this?”

“It’s the secret chart, don’t lose it, next time, darling.”

{To be continued)