Excitement rises to fever pitch as the rival treasure hunters near their goal
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, had, 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 GabereauHs 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 Ferrara 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 in the Acadian.
At Punta Arenas, jumping-off place for the voyage round Cape Horn, the chart case is stolen from Paul by confederates of Raymonde, a girl adventuress. After desperate fighting with the tribe inhabiting the Cape Horn region, Paul regains the precious document by rescuing the girl from the clutches of the savages, but Sprott Gabereau is swallowed up by the wilderness and is given up for lost.
WHEN Petite Raymonde had gone, with the fatal chart again committed to his keeping, Paul now felt as though a sacred trust had come into his hands. The chart itself was like a challenge from his Uncle Sprott to keep the faith.
With a new and sudden sense of responsibility, he turned to pierce through the thick gloom at the riding lights of the Acadian, anchored far out therein thestream. With the skipper gone, and with their sealed orders now committed unto him, Paul, in that moment, seemed to pass into the consciousness of command.
What of the crew?
What of their vessel?
With all the events that had transpired in the past few days, another world seemed to have cut off all the past. With these thoughts, he was just turning to call a boatman, when through the mist and the rain he saw a dainty girlish figure coming toward him. Paul’s heart suddenly gave a bound of joy, no matter what worlds of distance might separate him from the past, here was one whose beloved suzerainty remained.
With his whole being aflame with joy, he turned to greet her,
But no answering light came into the eye of the girl.
Looking at Paul, with a cold accusing glance, she exclaimed bitterly:
“I expected better things than that of you, Paul Gabereau.”
“I don’t understand you, Yvonne.” His voice was almost piteous in its supplication.
Reaching forward, he started to embrace her, but she drew away, as though the mere idea were repugnant.
“Don’t touch me!”
“Why, what is it?”
“You ought to know, without asking such questions to make a mockery.”
The bright glow, that had suffused Paul’s face, at the first glimpse of his beloved, was suddenly changed to a look of deepest anguish.
“Oh, darling, what have I done to hurt you.”
Unmoved by his obvious grief, Yvonne still looked bitterly into his eyes. Where once the light of love had glowed, there appeared a coldness almost akin to hate.
Paul was for a moment like a man who sees, but refuses to comprehend. Then, at the bitter recoil of his devotion, flung as it were into his own teeth, he underwent a strange and furious transformation.
From the suppliant, he passed in a twinkling to the hell of wounded pride.
To Yvonne's amazement, she saw an answering flash of fire come into those calm blue eyes, that had never before looked at her with aught but tenderest emotion.
“I’ll make you say you’re sorry yet for this, Yvonne.”
‘You’ll be sorry for yourself, before you're through, you poor softie.”
‘You shouldn't talk to me like that."
“I’ll tell you what I know you are," she rasped, stamping her foot bitterly. “You couldn’t even call your soul your own, just a poor tool, to sneak around and steal at night, and then run like a coward. If you wanted that chart case, why didn’t you come and try to get it in an open fight like a real man.”
“Never mind telling me any of your poor excuses, you didn’t have spine and backbone enough to stand up for your own opinion. You were the one that had no use for the Ferrara treasure, the one that preached over again the grand sermons of Monsieur le Cure. You were the one that belonged to the soil of Arichat. Nothing in the world could have persuaded you to get out and chase after fools’ gold.
“Oh, you talked wonderfully, back home, didn’t you, Mister Paul. No, nothing would make you leave the dear old place. And then, when thieves come to break into our cabin, in the night, who is it but our goody, goody Paul that’s sneakin’ on behind?”
Again Paul started to interrupt, but in the fury of her accusation the girl could not be brooked.
“And, as if it wasn’t enough for you to play the hypocrite in other things, now you must come taunting me to my face, in the name of love.”
“When did I ever fail you?”
“Even the darkness has eyes, you simpleton. Even the
Pierhead Hotel has windows. Do you suppose I didn’t
Again Paul was mystified, and completely at sea; he was still struggling to offer up an explanation, when he saw the lean, trim figure of Don Juan approaching.
He could only talk with Yvonne, but here was something on which he could vent his passion. Every breath of his being, at that moment, was calling him to fight. The insolence of this proud Don was more than flesh and blood could bear.
Paul started for him, but suddenly Yvonne had placed herself between them.
“No, you won’t toueh him.”
“My dear, if this bumpkin wants satisfaction, let him come on. I have already had the pleasure of feeling my hands at his throat, and if he had been man enough to fight his battles alone, I assure you he would have had his neck wrung in short order.”
“Just let me get one more chance at you, and it will
be someone else’s neck.”
As the Don bowed graciously, the storm of passion, which had swept Paul so fiercely, seemed to pass. Into his clouded face there came again the old serenity. Looking on amazed, Yvonne saw that it was the same Paul, and yet not the same. This time, behind the calm exterior there was the suggestion of conflict and of strife.
Speaking, as one who had suddenly returned to reason, he said to the Don.
“I’ll apologize for what I said to you.”
“Er, what do you mean?”
“I mean that you are a gray-headed old man, I forgot
This time, it was the Don’s turn to lose his poise.
“I’m a gray-headed old man, eh? All right, me young sprout, just keep on trying to buck me, and see where you get off.
“I might tell you for your convenience that since arriving here I’ve had your schooner, the Acadian, put under arrest by the Chilean authorities for poaching
“ Meaning what?”
“Return that chart case you stole from me, and even yet there’s time for us to come together.”
At this, a conciliatory look came into the Don’s face, while Yvonne, noticing the other’s hesitation, flung out;
“What can you do, anyway?”
Paul’s answer was to turn upon his heel.
A WAVE of helplessness swept over Paul Gabereau a3 he turned away. Their predicament was not pleasant to contemplate. But more unpleasant still were those sneering rebukes, all of which seemed to be gathered up by the challenge of Yvonne.
“What can you do, anyway?” ^The contempt behind that fling stung him like whips of the scorpion.
In the girl’s eyes, the Don had been all powerful, while he, Paul, had seemed to stand out by contrast as a supreme example of ineptitude.
Yes, what could he do?
The more he thought of their stormy interview, the more nettled he became. It was not his nature to give way to bitterness, instead a calm determination began to take hold of him.
Don Juan believed he played his trump w’hen he had the vessel seized. But there wa3 another side to his despised rival of which he was yet to learn.
Inquiry at the customs house disclosed the fact that the Acadian was under arrest, charged with about every marine offence from smuggling to piracy.
Out in the stream, the seized schooner rode under close surveillance of a government cruiser. The sails and running rigging had all been stripped off, and there on her mainmast was the broad arrow signifying that she was forfeit by the decree of the naval commandan!'
Joining forces with that veteran blockade runner, Wild Alec MacLean, the Acadian’s crew were not long in determining upon a course of action.
“Keep out of sight, and move softly,” was the essence of MacLean’s advice.
To allay suspicion, Paul fitted out the sloop, and taking half their complement, disappeared on a feigned gold hunting and prospecting expedition.
The rest went off on various trumped-up jobs, and with them out of sight and out of mind, the guard of the seized vessel began to acquire that familiarity which breeds contempt.
After dark, one night, with vigilance relaxing, Paul landed his crew at the far end of Sandy Point, and warned by MacLean that the coast was clear, they trooped into town, singly, and in pairs.
MacLean, meanwhile, had discovered where the sails and rigging were stored, and plans were effected for their recovery, By half past nine, it was bright starlight, with a favorable south-east wind blowing. Paul and his men left their hiding places, and moving in toward the waterfront, were fortunate not to meet anyone on the way. They arrived at the customs warehouse, just as the clock struck eleven.
Observing some lights yet burning in the houses, MacLean said: “Better stand by just a bit.”
They waited patiently until all lights were extinguished and then proceeded down to the wharf, where they lost no time in putting themselves inside the building containing the Acadian’s sails, rigging and other gear.
These they took charge of, and soon had them aboard the vessel. Finding that they had made some mistake in the sails, having got a set belonging to another schooner, they were obliged to return, which caused vexatious delay
MacLean did the swearing for the crowd: “Always the way, when every minute counts.”
“Can’t be helped,” replied the philosophic Paul.
On their second trip ashore, coming around by the sheds, they encountered an unsuspecting night watchman Before he had time to give the a’arm, MacLean had pinioned him from behind. Tiedandgaggedeffectually, he
was dumped on the floor of the warehouse, and locked up. After which, the necessary gear was obtained. This time, they were careful to see that no mistake was made.
By one o’clock, the running rigging was in order, sails were bent, everything was in readiness for a get-away.
All was still. Not a word had been uttered nor an unnecessary sound made during these preparations. MacLean was just starting to put sail on her, when the whining of the sheaves and creaking of blocks suddenly brought the adjacent guardship into action.
Almost instantaneously, there sounded the long drawn note of a bosun’s whistle, a rush of feet, the whirr of boat falls, and the splash of a cutter taking the water.
Before the crew of the Acadian had time to sheet home, a lieutenant from the cruiser was alongside, shouting out in the blustering dark.
“Ahoy there! Ahoy!”
Saunter'ng toward the waist, Wild Alec MacLean, regarded him with affected indifference
Paul noticed that he had two huge pieces of granite rock handy, which he had placed there beforehand, as a precautionary measure.
Cocking his head, MacLean, inquired,
“What d’ye want?”
“Tell cap-it-ain to come abore!” the naval officer replied, struggling with his English.
“You go to hell!”
Recognizing the pungency of MacLean’s vernacular, the lieutenant started to draw his gun. But Wild Alee was too quick for him. Seizing one of the great boulders, he crashed it down into their frail craft, smashing the bottom like matchwood.
In an instant, the entire boarding party were swimming for their lives, shrieking out to the cruiser for help.
MacLean, at once, had one of their boats swung out, and without hesitating, jumped into it. Everyone expected that he was going to the rescue, but as his boat ranged alongside, he called. “Now, then, pass us a few fathoms o’ cable.”
A number of sealers leaped to obey, and with the iron cable aboard, he called for two men to accompany him.
Thoroughly mystified, all hands stood straining into the dark, wondering and waiting, not knowing what to do next.
“ Where’sthe mate gone?’ “What’s he up to?” “Search me.”
“He’ll get ’em, though. Don’t you fret. He’s got as many tricks up his sleeve as a dog’s got fleas.”
The crew of the cruiser was so busy rescuing their shipmates from drowning that MacLean’s movements were unobserved, and finally, after an absence of about five minutes, he and his party returned to the schooner.
Not waiting to secure their boat, the three of them leaped aboard by the fore chains.
Rushing aft, MacLean took the wheel, bellowing as he did so, “Is she clear for’ard?”
“All right, then, let her go!”
Moorings were slipped in a thrice, the unshackled cable splashed overboard, sheets and halliard were given a last pull, and the saucy, little craft, filled away, and began to show a clean pair of heels, as she passed out of the anchorage.
Because of adjacent shipping, it was not prudent for the cruiser to open fire, and her captain at once rang for full speed ahead.
In an instant, there came a terrific roar, followed by a crashing, rending, churning sound, as though the whole sea were being rent asunder.
Aboard the cruiser, there was first a panic, then consternation gave way to rage, as it was discovered that someone had inextricably entwined a network of cable around their screw.
WHEN they cleared from Punta Arenas, MacLean, well acquainted with the region, looked dubiously at the weather.
All through the hours of darkness, and all through the following day, he kept an eye alert, not merely for the threat of a pursuing cruiser, but for the more ominous threat of a pursuing gale.
“I don’t like the look of that sky,” he observed, toward evening, “Guess we’d better begin to think o’ shelter.”
“Haven’t put enough distance between us and Punta Arenas,” objected Paul.
“May be thinking 0’ something more’n Punta Arenas soon by the look o’ things.”
“Why, it ain’t blowin’ much.”
“That’s just what’s got me worried. Winds from the eastward invariably begin gently, down here. But when ye get a southerly touch to it, with banks 0’ large white clouds, having hard edges, appearing rounded and solid, ye can get ready for wild squalls, 0’ the Cape Stiff variety, what they call ‘snow and blow and snow again’.
When that stuff’s cornin’, ye want to be onto good holding ground, under a lee, with both anchors out.”
“You seem to have a a wholesome fear of these waters,” observed Paul.
“I know ’em.” replied the mate grimly. “If the weather is thick, and it’s cornin’ on tha - way now, the navigation 0’ this strait is livin’ hell.”
“There’s a dozen reasons, because o’incomplete surveys, lack of aids to navigation, great distances between anchorages, lack of good anchorages, strong currents, and narrow limits for workin’ ship there’s only a few 0’ the curses.”
Toward twilight, passing the Marta Bank and edging away from the narrows, a furious succession of willaways swept down upon them.
With the squalls almost continuous, the mate muttered “By God,here comesthe dirt.”
Steering northward, he directed his course for a safe anchorage inside Gregory Bay.
Before they were abreast of the cape, everything was suddenly blotted out, in a howling, driving blizzard. For several minutes, in the midst of that wild inferno, the tiny schooner was borne over almost on her beam ends, while a tiny rag of canvas sent her tearing along with the water clean up to her hatches.
Hearing the sudden roar of breakers, sounding dimly all hands aboard the schooner began to feel as though the thickness of that squall were a death cap drawn across their eyes to blot out their doom.
The agony of suspense in such a moment was exquisite, but MacLean’s hand never faltered at the wheel. It was a leap in the dark, but there was no time to turn backward.
Then, came a break, disclosing for the fraction of a second the bold outline of the Cape, which was blotted out again in driving snow. This momentary flash was enough. Gauging his time correctly, the mate shot behind the protecting heads, and coming up into the wind, sang out. “Let go your jibs. Let go your anchor.”
It seemed as though they had been fortunate in lighting upon just the right anchorage, and all hands were beginning to thank their stars, when through the gray whirling blanket, the lynx-eyed mate beheld a sudden apparition.
Paul caught it, too, like a wraith of the storm, and the two looked at one another.
“What did ye see?”
“Couldn’t swear, but seemed to me like the cruiser.” “We’ll be caught like a rat in a trap if they get us inside here.”
While the two of them were hesitating, not knowing what to do next, they heard the sound of splashing oars,
the slight bumping of a boat, and with a shouting from for’ard, a man came up over the side.
Both started toward the break, peering apprehensively prepared for another boarding party from the cruiser. Indeed, they were prepared for anything except what appeared, as out of the blanket of whirling snow emerged the massive shoulders and burly frame of Captain Sprott Gabereau, arriving, in that moment, as though he had been blown in on the very wings of the storm.
While the surprised members of his crew still regarded him as an apparition, the mate began to question him.
“What happened to you, Skipper?”
“That’s a fine question to be askin’, after leavin’ a man alone in the Alcaloofs’ country.”
MacLean was beginning to offer his excuse, when Gabereau interrupted.
“Aye, I knowed ye wouldn’t give me the slip, Mac, if ye thought there was any hope. ’Twas all due to me own foolishness.”
“We was sure you was dead, Skip.”
“So were the Indians, and that’s why I’m here to tell about it.”
“Did they get you?”
“Yea, as soon as we landed on the beach, some of ’em jumped out upon us, and we stood there palaverin’ away fer nigh an hour. Just when we were gettin’ the first lot smoothed down a bit, along come a second gang, out fer gore, and started in to rush things.
“We beat it fer the boat, but meanwhile the tide had gone out, and there was our craft high and dry! That finished our chances fer a get-away. Knowin’ what we were up against, I threw up my hands. But Poor Yen tried to fight, and got a harpoon through the heart for his trouble.
“With that, they tied our legs together and dragged us inland to a camp where we found their chief raving like a madman. The cause of his trouble was a bullet in the shoulder, like as not, he got it earlier in the attempted raid upon us with his war canoes. The wound was not dangerous, but was pressing against a nerve, causing much agony. Well, I hadn’t been skipper of a sealer for years without knowin’ how to extract bullets, and it wasn’t long until I had Mister Chief out 0’ misery.
“As a reward, the old boy had the thongs taken off my feet, and offered to marry me off to one of his wives. What happened next I don’t just rightly remember. Perhaps I insulted the chief the way I turned down his beauty, for at a signal from him, someone swung at me, andwhenlcame to, there I was rolled up in a heap along with Yen and the headless carcass of Dan Sloggett. Both of ’em were on top 0’ me. At first, I thought that I had been buried alive, but soon it was apparent that the whole three of us had just been tumbled into a great open ditch. Evidently I slept so sound from the pole-axe that they concluded I was as dead as the starboard cat-head.
“After makin’ a get-away, 1 worked back toward the shore, where one was able to subsist on crawfish and mussels.
“For several days, I lay just inside o’ Gregory Head, with my eyes on the ships channel. Finally, this evening, I caught sight of the Acadian shovin’ her nose into the Bay, an’ ye can believe me, I didn’t waste no time shovin’ the boat off and gettin’ aboard.”
As he talked, Gabereau kept eyeing the astonished crew and the mate as, if to him, there was something strange about their presence. MacLean sensed this uneasiness but even he was taken aback when, without warning, the skipper broke off his story to rip out a string of oaths.
“What the hell are ye doin’ bringing' this vessel in here?”
MacLean who was most accustomed to Captain Sprott, was the first to recover.
“We’re in here because we was chased out 0' Punta Arenas.”
“Who chased ye?”
* “That Spick had us put under arrest, but we made a get-away last night, and we’ve been crackin’ on ever since, tryin’ to put all the water we could astern twixt us and Sandy Point.”
“Why such an all-fired hurry?”
“ ’Cause, they’re after us, first fer breakin’ away from arrest, and second fer foulin’ the propeller o’ the government cruiser.”
The skipper still looked puzzled.
“I don’t understand this cruiser business. Just explain that to me again.”
Briefly, MacLean told of how he had sunk the naval lieutenant and given the whole boarding party a ‘damned good bath’ as he called it, then he went to tell of the method by which he had effectually crippled their motive power.
The face of the skipper grew increasingly grave, while he edged his way toward the wheel.
" What's the matter, skipper, d’ye think I treated them too rough.”
■'No, that ain’t what’s worryin’ me.”
“What’s up. then?”
“Why, that self-same cruiser’s at the end o’ this bay, at this very moment. Lucky fer you that the weather’s thick or she’d ’a blown ye into smithereens. I know these dirty Spicks, ye don't give them a bath and get away with it, not if they can help it.”
While the skipper was speaking, he had cast the lashing of the wheel, and looking for signs of clearing, suddenly sang out:
“Stand by for'ard, and break out the anchor.”
As the anchor came in, he began to put sail to the vessel and tack out into the teeth of the howling sou’easter.
The prospect without was forbidding in the extreme, Standing beside the skipper at the wheel the mate began to expostulate.
"It's suicide to drive her out into weather like that.” "Aye. an' it's a damn sight worse than suicide to stay inside that bay till that cruiser gets a chance to limber up her guns”
"My God, look at that will ye!”
Behind them, a driving blast had suddenly swept the bay, like a smoky chimney, revealing the fleeing schooner silhouetted clear against the hard rim of the horizon.
Just off the cape, were tide rips, and a terrific cross sea. In an attempt to weather the promontory, the skipper began to crack on, muttering.
‘ Punish her!”
Under the terrific strain, it seemed as if the canvas would be ripped clean out of the bolt ropes.
"She's down too much by the head.”
There was an instantaneous rush of feet along the deck, while all hands moved instinctively to give their vessel her finest racing trim.
"Guess we'll make it now.”
As though to mock their easy faith, a flash, a boom, a muffled roar!
The whole bay behind them seemed to waken with reverberations, and a shot came skipping across the Acadian's bows.
"He'll heave her to.”
But, no, she still went slathering on into the teeth of it, unhesitating, unwavering.
“Lord, but she’s sailin’ now.”
“Put it to her!” roared the skipper, as all hands shook out the reefs.
"God, watch her go!”
“Ain’t she a daisy!”
Another shot from the cutter’s gun, another, and another. A hole was bored through the foresail, sheeted home as stiff as iron.
With a rending shriek, her maintopmast was shot clattering down.
“Up there, and clear away the hamper.”
Aft, once, twice, shells exploded in the water.
Gabereau did not even deign to glance behind.
Leaning on his wheel, like a jockey on his mount, he kept muttering continual encouragement,
“Come on, girl, come on, show ’em yer heels.”
Shooting her nose into the seas, her very shroud and stay seemed to send up a shriek of protest, while the unrelenting hand upon the wheel still held her to it.
There was a loud high singing in the air, as another shell went whizzing close above their heads.
Then, whirling past the iron cape, fog again had come to wrap its blanket round the bay.
With tension ended, the mate called out: “Shall we ease the sheets?”
But, still in the thick unseeing, gloom, the skipper’s voice resounded:
“Punish her! Punish her!”
THE Acadian was running her easting down in the ‘Brave West Winds’ that roar forever round the Horn.
The fifties south are desolate and terrible seas, deeptroughed, crested white, shrieking for destruction.
East, a half south, the tiny schooner was racing before the gale, a narrow band of straining canvas holding like iron against the void immensity.
Hercule Le Blanc, another name for Strongheart, stood to the wheel, secured to the after bitts. Again, and yet again, the vessel was nigh pooped. Maddened seas howled out against the helmsman. Blood dimmed his eye, where the kicking wheel had caught him. But he held his course, steadfast, unflinching, a man of rock, begotten of the hardy brine.
One look behind, one faltering hand, and the tiny schooner would have broached to— to utte destruction.
The Acadian appeared like a half tide rock; white and green pouring in cascades over the weather bulwarks, and back again to leeward as she rolled; her waist was a seething maelstrom.
The wheel was spinning around the whole time, hard up, and hard down, before the crash of league-long graybeards.
Wild Alec MacLean, who was conning the helmsman, had fallen strangely silent.
All night the mate had stood there ordering and adjuring to the shock and kick of heavy seas. He, too, had lashed himself, so that no power could force him to retreat.
MacLean trembled from that wet, pervasive cold that penetrated to his very bones. Haggard, blue-lipped, wan, he stood behind the helmsman, a wretched figure of a man, not yet recovered from his wound, plainly too old for such a contest. Yet, somehow, under his deplorable exterior, there lurked the spirit of the master. In spite of chattering teeth, and palsied frame, there was nothing uncertain in the tone of his command.
“Ease her off a bit!”
“Now, then, meet her again!”
Occasionally, the mate appeared to be in a comatose state. Then to give the lie to such appearance, he would leap forward and offer the mightiest aid in grinding the wheel up or down.
As night waned, a strange change began to come over him. The helmsman realized that his orders were becoming less and less, until at last it was apparent that he had ceased from conning the ship.
At the wheel, Hercule wondered what had happened, but he could not look behind. Here was the place where slightest error would be paid for with the lives of all.
Daw,n breaking th~ough the cloud banks of a windy sky disclosed a scene of terrifying magnificence. Mile on mile of long green valleys soaring upward into snowy peaks, tumbling down and rolling onward, that vast and awful panorama, known only unto real sailors, known unto them as ‘God’s Own Ocean.’
Continued on page 24
Continued from page 22
The Acadia», riding aloft upon a giant graybeard, paused with her bowsprit piercing heaven. There, just at that soaring moment, across the white-capped ranges Wild Alec saw amid the shifting mountains a mountain that endured—it was Cape Horn!
Coming up from below, with ear tuned to the everlasting gray beards, Captain Gabereau caught an unaccustomed note. Across the vast diapason of the deep there came to him the crash and thunder of an ironbound shore.
One glance above the companion, and the skipper knew the worst. Anon, they rode the crests, and there, far down the wind, rising like a massive tombstone in a sailors’ grave-yard, was Cape Stiff, a palsy-smiting apparition that few ever saw under their lee, and lived to tell about.
Rushing forward to the foc’sle, the skipper sounded the alarm. Almost in the same instant, all hands were streaking up on the deck, not even waiting to get ‘oiled up’ at the urgency of that call.
Some came in their shirt-tails, almost bare to the bitter night. All knew’ that their lives, in that moment, were hanging in the balance.
“Cape Stiff’s right under our lee!” shrieked the skipper. Nothing more was needed for the call to stations.
They were tearing along under four lowers, in incredible press of canvas, but taking the wheel, the skipper shouted. "Haul in yer sheets there.”
As the booms came in, he pointed her up close into the wind, in an effort to claw past the weather-most outerly of the cape.
As she answered to her helm, he called. “Now then, chuck all the reefs out of her.”
With the Acadian already plunging deeply by the head the three-reefed mainsail seemed all that such a craft could bear.
In a rush of fear, someone called,
“She can’t stand it, skipper.”
“Better die cracking on than runnin’ off,” came back the answer.
“Shake out them reefs, I tell ye!”
“All of ’em?”
“Yea, all of ’em.”
Under the tremendous press of canvas the schooner began to claw up, and eat into the very eye of the wind.
The giant seas were boiling clean up to her hatches, while beyond the foc’sle head it was unlivable for bursting seas.
“If he keeps it up like this he’ll drive her bows straight under.”
“We’ll be in the belly o’ hell, in another minute.”
Everyone was sending up his protest, but the skipper never wavered.
At first, it looked as though the spell of the cape was being shaken off, and then, with increasing horror, the headland was again observed closing in on their lee. “She won’t make.”
A3 though in defiance to such a wail, the skipper suddenly ripped out,
“Put the staysail to her.”
“My God, she’ll never stand it.”
“We’ll be dead if we try that, skipper.” “We’ll be dead if we don’t,” was the laconic answer.
As the great fisherman’s staysail was swayed up, and sheeted home, the Acadian seemed to fairly eat her way into the teeth of the gale. With the added pressure, there was an instantaneous jump in the racing schooner, as though she knew what was expected of her, and had steeled herself for the desperate effort.
At the wheel, Sprott Gabereau was fighting like a man possessed, not too bold, not too cautious, he availed himself of every lull and slant to drive his vessel across the long, fierce, swooping combers.
Such furious driving was enough to stop the heart-beat.
In the fiercest onslaughts, the Acadian went over so far that it seemed as though she would never come up. But the very racing 3peed of the vessel was her own deliverance. As they pitched into every black abyss, fingers itched to ease the
sheets, but always the whip-lash voice was urging.
"Haul ’em in there, flat as a board.”
In the mad conflict with the mighty staysail, the very thought of their own security seemed to have been blotted out, as they fought furiously with sheets and halliards.
Under the incredible press of canvas, the schooner fairly buried herself for’ard with everything going blue. It was one of those sailing moments of divinest daring, where courage lifted men into the realm of gods, while the voice of Gabereau was heard still urging on his crew.
“Put it to her.”
“Put it to her.”
Then, as though in answer to such unheard of chancing, there came an ominous, ripping tear.
Ending with a report like gunfire, the fore-topmast under its unhallowed strain, had suddenly carried away.
“But, no, Look! Look!”
There was a gradual consciousness of smoother water, and gazing back, they saw behind them the menace of that grim Southern Gateman. They had cleared the weather outerlies.
A FTER weathering the farthest jutting 4*out point of Cape Stiff, the Acadian had unexpectedly sailed into a calm landlocked fiord, protected from the raging gales without by huge cliffs, one of those labyrinthian channels, making up the fret-work of an ocean-harried shore.
The swift transition from life and death conflict to the peace behind the foreland came almost as a thumping shock.
Without, the unending cannonade of breakers; within, a quiet swell rolling up upon a shelving beach.
Once behind the headland there was not enough wind for them to make toward the shore, nor yet again to stand out to the open sea. They were completely becalmed.
With sails flapping idly, they took a cast of their lead, and finding themselves in eighteen fathoms, sandy bottom, let go their anchor while the skipper himself ran up to the main cross trees with his glass, to spy out the land.
He saw shores bold and steep-to, mountains sharp pointed, with difficult ascents, thickly overgrown with evergreen trees and shrubs rising from the base to within several hundred feet of the summit.
They were about two miles from the head of the cove, and about midway from either side. The skipper observed that their berth was quite secure, although exposed to the willaways which might rush down from the mountain with great violence. «
Pulling out from his pocket the chart of Andrea Ferrara, the Skipper read: ‘Landing, Dislocation Estuary.
‘Shingle beach on south affords protection . . . ’
After reading this, he once more studied the shore with his glass, and then, assured by the landmarks, with a sudden exultant rush he came swoopingdown the backstay.
Several of the crew crowded forward as he landed on the deck, looking to him expectantly, while the mate edged in. “D’ye know where we are, MacLean?” “No, ain’t got the slightest.”
“Well, I’ll tell ye,” said the skipper, his eyes dancing with new fire.
“We’re right plumb onto the cove.”
“Ye don’t mean it.”
“Aye, by damn near puttin’ us ashore, Mate, ye’ve put us up against Easy Street fer the rest of our lives. This is the place they’ve all been huntin’ for. That there beach is Dislocation Estuary, checking it off with the pirate’s gold chart here, there ain’t no shadow o’ doubt.”
A sudden ‘Bravo’ escaped from MacLean, while the captain continued excitedly.
“Yea, all we’ve got to do is to land on that there shingle beach, and follow out these here instructions.”
“And when will we make the landing, Skipper?”
“Right off, this very mornin’.”
“Ye won’t even wait for to-morrow and a full day?”
“Wait fer nothin’. God only knows how long this wind’ll hold favorable. Won’t be long, that’s sure, an’ if we’re goin’ after the treasure, now’s the time.” Accordingly, it was arranged that the skipper, Paul, and the mate should go together.
A feverish excitement ran through the crew as soon as it was known that they were about to try to effect a landing at the foot of Cape Horn.
There was a deal of muttering among the sealers, as the boat was prepared for launching. Finally, as spokesman for the rest, Anselme Constant, came up to the captain to say that the crew were afraid to see both of their officers abandon them.
Faced by this direct challenge, Gabereau, against his previous intention, was forced to let all hands in on the secret.
Standing by the boats, in the waist, he exclaimed,
“I didn’t intend to tell ye, men, until we came back, but I suppose I might as well let ye know first as last. The truth is we’ve got the secret of Ferrara’s treasure, and the mate and I are going to make a landing while chance holds good.
“We’ll be back again late to-night, or first thing in the morning.”
“And where do we come in?” This last in a general chorus.
Several of the sealers appeared threatening, when the Skipper put up his hand.
“‘Steady men, not too fast now. Ye’ll all get your share, same as the rest.” “How’s that?”
“Well, if we find it we’re goin’ to split three ways, one share skipper, one share to Paul and mate, one share to the rest of you. Is that agreeable?”
A lusty cheer, from the crew was the answer, showing their enthusiastic support. When they saw their own gain all hands fell to assisting in the preparations for the landing party.
One man was to be taken along, and all at once eagerly volunteered for the job, but the captain had already picked out a Chilote, from Lemuy Island, in Anoud Gulf, who, as a native of this archipelago, was naturally best acquainted with conditions. ^
Toward noon, the landing party shoved off from the Acadian, and headed for the beach. At the time, it was still calm within the estuary, while a long ground swell rolled in gently toward the shore.
Guided by the line of white shingles, they effected a landing, jumping out into the surf, as soon as she grounded, and standing to their waists in water, ran the boat high and dry beyond the reach of breakers.
THE skipper, who held the parchment guide, read out:
‘Ascent, advisable E.N.E. side.’
“All right, we’ll have to strike around in that direction.”
At first, the way was through clumps of stunted oak and mountain fir until they reached a height of two hundred feet. The first ascent was comparatively easy, as they were able to follow the bed of an old stream on their upward way.
About two hundred feet up, the forest growth began to give way, and the scenery changed to open shelves of smooth rock, with scrub and stunted vegetation.
The rocks at times opposed their way, so that they had to drag themselves over
or around by the aid of bushes. While clawing over a ten foot boulder, the captain fell heavily from the top, but his fall was fortunately broken by the thick undergrowth below.
Little by little vegetation began to die out, as they rose, until, beyond seven hundred feet there remained nothing but bare rock, and naked earth. The going by this time, had become extremely difficult, owing to the abrupt masses of granite that blocked the way. to add to the ardors of the climb, the captain was now walking with a painful limp from frequent falls across the boulders.
At a height of a thousand feet, the air was penetrating. The biting Antarctic winds up there seemed to search their vitals. With clothing soaked from wet bushes, the cold was doubly accentuated.
All were glad when at last they reached a large cave formed by three rocks, where the captain ordered a halt to prepare a meal, and dry out their clothes, before proceeding to the last and most arduous part of the ascent.
The Chilote, an accomplished mountaineer, had thoughtfully brought faggots with him, and a bag of coals, and soon they had a small fire going inside of the cave, where they were able to steep a cup of tea and dry out the dampness from their feet.
“If yer feet are warm and dry the rest of it ain’t so bad,” remarked Paul, who was the least fatigued of all.
After the halt for lunch, they began the real battle for the summit.
“We can’t make it,” wailed the Chilote, who had about come to the end of his endurance, and was ready to cry halt. But there was no such spirit in Sprott Gabereau.
Taking out the parchment, he read the last instruction, ‘Summit to northward, facing lagoon,
Highest point of all,
In rent of granite.’
For over an hour, they literally clawed up over the side of a sheer wall.
By observing that prime principle of climbing, to keep three points of suspension, two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, they were enabled to do what at first glance would have appeared impossible. At length, by jamming their arms and legs into the rents of the rocks, they managed to reach the second highest peak, where, as mentioned in the parchment, there appeared a lagoon of clear blue water.
Struggling, panting and bleeding over the last crest, Sprott Gabereau lay for a time helpless in the snow; then, with a return of his splendid strength, he gathered himself and stood erect. He was on the topmost point of the Horn. He had surmounted the mightiest barrier at the end of the world. With his heart thumping, there was within a song of conquest.
He turned eagerly to the parchment again.
“Summit to northward facing lagoon— That’s where we are now,” he muttered.
Looking down, in a northerly direction, the captain saw, right under his eye, a sort of table land, with a lagoon on its summit, its infinite blue set off in rare contrast by the drifting snow of the surrounding shore. This crest had the appearance of a volcano, and probably had been in a former time.
Turning his back on the lagoon, he saw before him, a lone barrier of naked granite, rising like some cathedral carved by nature atop the world.
Directly in front of him stood Cappiece of Cape Horn, towering up like some lonely spire, a combination of greenstone and feldspar.
Gabereau read the last words on the parchment with a sudden ecstasy.
Highest point of all,
‘In rent of granite rock.’
There could be no doubt after the explicitness of the instructions.
Coming up to the granite barrier, he examined it closely, and then his heart
Continued en page 30
Continued, from page 24
gave a great jump, for there, sure enough, was the rent running like a giant swordthrust athwart the entire face of the wall.
Slowly, with breath coming short from excitement, he began to edge his way upward along that ugly rent, twice, from undue eagerness, he almost lost his grip, and then at last, at the very crown of that cathedral granite, his eye caught something jammed securely into the rocky fissure.
It was a black case, similar to the one which he had found in the rescued life boat. Struggling to disengage it, Gabereau nearly plunged downward to destruction.
The top of the case gave way, and but for the iron glueing of his feet into the fissure, he would have broken his neck.
As it was, he hung there for several moments head downwards, still clasping fatuously the top of the fatal case.
In that sickening moment, he felt a sudden revulsion as if there were something fatal in the mere touch of the case.
When at last he succeeded in worming back again into safety, he found himself, regarding the case, still secure in its century-old resting-place, with a feeling akin to the awe of childhood.
This time, he worked more cautiously than before, and finally the whole thing was loosened and came away.
At the same moment, a hand touched him, and MacLean returned the top of the case, which had fallen near him in the snow.
The voice of the mate sounded in his ear, like the voice of one who had come to his supreme hour,
“Open it Open it!” he importuned. “Wait till we get back again below.” “No. No. Open it now.”
Digging his feet securely into the fissure of the rock, so that both hands were free, Gabereau pulled out an inner case, sealed completely, and bearing upon its face the unmistakable Ferrara crown.
“That’s it! That's it!” the skipper, gazing over his shoulder fairly shouted for ecstasy.
Wrapped around this inner case, and secured by the Ferrera seals, was a piece of parchment on which was written with India ink a communication in the same precise hand as the first message.
Turning the case over, so that the writing was right side up, Sprott Gabereau read aloud:
‘As I went far to gain, so he who would inherit must go far to find this treasure. It will cost as much in the second instance as it did in the first. Within is the clue, but let him who seeks know that a curse is resting on this fortune. It came with evil, and in the end, can bring naught but evil.
If ye do not wish to court unending sorrow, and a grave at the end of the world, be warned, for it is at the peril of all happiness that ye open this case.
As soon as Gabereau had ceased reading, the mate burst out again, impetuously,
“Open it! Open it!”
There was a tone of iron decision in the voice of the skipper, as he answered. “Not yet.”
WHILE Sprott Gabereau clung to the eerie fissure of rock, he felt a wild impulse to throw the secret case headlong into the void.
Clasping that for which he had paid with incredible risk, now, that it was in his hand, its attendant curse filled him with dread.
By this time the sun was waning. Below he could see that night was already gath-
The deathlike stillness and gloom of those far valleys were intense; their very silence reached out to him with a disturbing portent.
Up there on the summit of that riven cape, there was no living thing, nothing but rock and ice and snow7.
In the intensity of the cold Sprott Gabereau shivered. An unutterable foreboding came over him. He, who had been rubbing clothes with death all his life, for the first time knew that hesitation which is the precursor of craven fear.
Looking down from that immensity, doubts began to assail him.
What if the night should find him on the sheer side of that mountain wall?
What if he should lose his footstep in the darkness?
“I never was any w iser than I am right now.”
“Well, what are ye talkin’ fool stuff about throwin’ away that which all the world would give anything to possess. I guess the air’s gone to your head.”
“It’s the curse o’ the dead hand, sealed! wi’ the cross, that I’m afraid of.”
“Ballyhack to that kind o’ twiddle.”
“Aye, ye may be able to say that,. MacLean, but I can’t.”
“Why can’t ye?”
“Because there are some things I learned from Monsieur le Curé in childhood back in Arichat, that I cannot begin to forget. Every boy that ever came out: o’ Arichat has heard o’ the curse on Ferrera’s treasure.
“I thought that I’d forgotten all about it, or that I could have snapped my fingers in the face of all such talk, I thought, just as you say, that it was-twaddle, but now, at the end of the world,, with the secret o’ this treasure in my hand I feel just as I used to when I was a wee lad, terrified and callin’ for me mother in the awful dark.”
The voice of MacLean took on a note of
“Ye’ve got it bad, Skipper. You’re crazy as a March hare. Never thoughtI’d live to see a hard-headed customer like Sprott Gabereau turn so light in theupper story. But ye ain’t to blame. Ye ain’t the first one w7ho’s gone dippy because o’ high altitudes. It’s bad fer lots o’ ’em.
“Here, hand me over the case.”
The skipper obeyed, in a half-hearted manner, and MacLean, subject to theexact opposite effect, felt a thrill of exhilaration as he placed the precious inner tube back into its outer case, and made it safe in his reefer pocket.
With the accursed thing out of hishands, Sprott Gabereau knew instant relief, and the tw7o started to w7ork their way downward, while MacLean took upon himself the task of bucking up thecaptain’s spirit.
“We’re all right, now7. We’ll make that cave as a shelter fer the night, and then, as soon as it's light in the morning, we’H start on the last lap back to the vessel.”
On the plateau, by the lagoon, they halted to eat a ship’s biscuit, meagre fareat best, but the biting air had made them ravenous.
The dow'nward trip, as the skipper expected, w7as far more difficult and dangerous than the ascent. But a strange self sufficiency seemed to he imparted to Wild Alec MacLean from the magic touch of the secret case. Always he w7as uttering encouragement, alw7ays in the crisis hewas near to proffer aid.
“Just go easy there, Skipper. Give usyour hand. Easy now. Lean on me. There, ye're all right now.”
Blackness, closing down, still found them struggling interminably on that never ending wall of granite. MacLean, a Judique Highlander, had been scaling the cliffs and mountains from his boyhood. Such a test might have appalled a mere sailor, who always required a rope or spar to cling to. But the mountaineer, on the other hand, could go spider-like against the sheerest precipice. For the time being, at least, the mate had become the master.
It was ten o’clock, when MacLean, leading the way, stumbled at last upon the friendly cave. Here, as expected, they found the Chilote and Paul huddled up together in a corner, with the only blanket. Crawling in beside them, like so many creatures of the wild, they were soon fast asleep.
At the first cry of day, all hands were stirring. Another hardtack biscuit apiece, and they began upon the last lap of the journey to the schooner.
The deathlike stillness of the small gulleys they had to traverse was intense. The only living things they disturbed, besides the eagles, were two very small and starved little mice, who seemed too indifferent of their fate to move out of the road.
About the middle of the morning, they arrived back at the shingly beach, and Gabereau’s fears began to leave him. There was the Acadian riding securely within the headland while the calm still continued.
Outside the heads, a thick fog was hanging like the black drapery of a theatre curtain. Beyond that curtain was the terror of the Horn. But within, everything remained serene, as though the cove itself were some sanctuary, inviolate from the ragings of the outer ocean.
As Gabereau came onto the shingly beach and found their boat high and dry, just as might have been expected, he suffered a revulsion of feeling. A wave of shame swept over him at the remembrance of his own quavering before the terror of the heights.
“Yea, I guess ye were right, MacLean. It was the rare air up there that went to me head.”
“It sure did, You was plain lunatic crazy. If it hadn’t been for me, you’d ’ave tossed this whole business into perdition.”
Saying this, MacLean removed the black case from his reefer, whilst both of them gazed fondly, yearningly, at its pregnant Ferrara crown.
“Better open it right away.”
The mate was just starting to open it, when something in the eye of the Chilote caused Gabereau to raise a restraining hand.
Drawing the mate aside, he expostulated,
“We don’t know what this secret’s goin’ to be. Whatever it is, we don’t aim to have that Chilote blabbing it to the whole crew.”
“Right you are,” assented the mate; and so, in the interests of secrecy, they withdrew to a wooded dingle. Paul was invited to accompany them, but replied that he had no desire to learn what the case contained.
Gabereau and the mate were gone for about half an hour. When they returned, the skipper was carrying the case, which he handed to Paul.
“Here, take this, and carry it back to the vessel, Keep tight hold of it, and when you get aboard, tell four boats to come back here.”
“Shall I return with them?”
“No, you take care of that case, and remain aboard. Tell the boys we want ’em here to fetch wood and water.”
“And something else,” remarked the Chilote, with a leer.
Ignoring him the skipper urged.
“Hurry up. Get off quickly, now.”
As Paul placed the secret in his breast pocket, he also experienced the same fear that had formerly troubled his uncle. For their ilk, at least this strange chart case was a thing accursed.
The boat was successfully launched, and they jumped in and started away.
The Acadian was lying about two miles off, and the ensign going up to her peak, told them that their movements were observed from aboard.
Seeing only one meaning in the two remaining behind, the Chilote was in finest spirits.
At once, he fell to discussing what he would do with his share of the pirate gold.
“First thing, I’ll have will be a good home back there at Punta Arenas. I’m through with work. I’ll start out for me good times now, get one o’ them women that keeps a saloon, and marry her, and have her for me own. And—!”
This pleasant romancing was suddenly cut short by an exclamation from Paul, who was in the bow. The man at the oars turned to look over his shoulders, and he, too, let out a cry of terror.
Well might he tremble with a sudden ague. Unobserved by them, the fog, which had been lingering about the headland, had stolen into the bay. They were about a mile from the shore, about a.mile from the vessel, and now, without compass, or any other guide, they were lost in an impenetrable blanket of gloom.
Whil° the Chilote was romancing, Cape Horn had merely been sleeping.
To be Continued