FICTION

The Locked Door

The strange tale of the sea captain, the diamonds and the stowaway

PATRICK O’KEEFFE August 15 1935
FICTION

The Locked Door

The strange tale of the sea captain, the diamonds and the stowaway

PATRICK O’KEEFFE August 15 1935

The Locked Door

The strange tale of the sea captain, the diamonds and the stowaway

PATRICK O’KEEFFE

THE GRIMY little coasting steamer was churning her way down the Brazilian coast, moving slowly over the tranquil sea like a giant slug across an infinite carpet of blue. It was a cool, sunny forenoon, and Stromberg, the Parana’s lone passenger, while viewing the mountainous coastline, had been called into the saloon by the captain, who thereupon opened a bottle of whisky. The liquor had loosened Stromberg’s tongue, and after a pause in the conversation across the table during which he had unwisely disclosed the nature of his business, he said: “Have you ever seen diamonds in the rough, captain; diamonds as they come out of mother earth?”

He drew a soiled handkerchief from the coat pocket of his faded cream-colored linen suit and wiped his mouth. He was a gaunt little man of German extraction, with shrunken neck and hollow cheeks, tanned to the roots of his shortcropped hair and the rims of his blue eyes. The man he addressed was almost twice his size, with a thick neck that expanded into a massive head topped with a shock of speckled grey hair. A black mustache straggled down over a long mouth above a big jaw dark with a day’s stubble. For comfort he had shed his shirt, and now sat in his undervest and white trousers, his big arms bare and folded on the table, regarding his passenger curiously through two cold grey eyes beneath protruding black hairy brows.

“Diamonds,” grunted the captain. “I’ve seen ’em in shop windows, that’s about all.”

Stromberg rested his cigar on the edge of a saucer that was serving as an ash-tray, and rose from the swivelled chair. “Come into my cabin and I’ll show you something.”

CAPTAIN MEGGS followed Stromberg into his tiny cabin, which opened off the saloon. Unhooking a bunch of keys from his belt, the passenger pulled out a rusty steamer trunk from under the bunk and unlocked it. He rummaged beneath some clothing and produced a small brown leather case, which he placed on a small card table set up in the middle of the cabin. Fumbling again with his keys, he unlocked it and threw back the lid.

“Look at those, captain.”

Captain Meggs stared down curiously into the case. It was nearly filled with a collection of small crystals that, to his inexpert eyes, looked like fragments of bottle glass. He bent and ¡jeered closely at them for a moment; then he looked up at his passenger.

“Diamonds, eh?”

Strom berg nodded, smiling.

“Every one a real diamond. I spent a year in the interior bargaining for them with the Indians that mined them. I could have got them sooner if I’d been prepared to pay the price. There’s another collector in Sao Paulo who makes trips into the interior. He pays top prices, and the Indians wait for him, sometimes for months; but now and then they get impatient, or fall on hard times and need money. That’s when my chance came. Ten thousand dollars I paid for that collection. It’s worth close to one hundred thousand.” Captain Meggs glanced incredulously from Stromberg to the contents of the case again. Stromberg extracted a stone

with a pinkish tint and displayed it proudly in the palm of

his skinny hand.

“There’s a real pink diamond; not a flaw in it. It’s a little brother to the famous Southern Cross, which is the largest ¡jink diamond in the world. It should bring twentyfive to thirty thousand dollars.”

Captain Meggs took the stone from Stromberg and turned it round between his thumb and finger, and as he gazed at it an avaricious gleam appeared for a moment in his eyes. He handed the diamond back to Stromberg, and glanced down again at the little leather case.

“Ain’t you afraid, carryin’ all that stuff around with you? I’ve seen ’em send lots less than that in armored cars in New York.”

Stromberg smiled again.

“I had nothing to fear in the interior. The Indians are honest enough. Many a time I’ve left them alone in my room with a heap of newly bought diamonds on the table while I went out to let them think over an offer I’d made for their little lot. But the two nights I spent in Seguro waiting for your ship I slept with a gun under my pillow.” Stromberg patted his hip. “I carry it around with me, though I don’t think there’s much to fear now. In a couple of days I’ll be in Rio, and there I’ll catch the first passenger ship leaving for the States.”

He returned the diamond to the case, and shovelling up a handful of the precious stones, he let them dribble back lovingly between his fingers.

Suddenly there came sounds of a commotion out on deck. The mate’s voice, loud and blasphemous, floated in through the open ¡jorthole. Captain Meggs hurried to it and stuck his head out. With an oath he withdrew it and charged from the cabin, through the saloon and out on deck. Stromberg hurriedly locked the brown leather case and thrust it back beneath the clothing in his trunk; then he dropped the lid, snapped the locks, and hastened after the captain.

"DOUND THE corner of the deck house came the Parana’s big, red-faced Norwegian mate, dragging a wriggling, frightened wretch by the collar of his rag of a shirt. The mate stopped before the captain, and almost dangled his captive out at arm’s length for him to inspect. The creature was a thin-faced youth with brown skin, dark eyes, and long black hair in need of cutting. Before the fury darkening the captain’s face like thunder, he stopped squirming as if hypnotized into stillness.

“Yust showed hisself!” bellowed the mate wrathfully. “Said he vas stowed down de after peak. I’ll svear he vasn’t tere ven ve sailed yesterday. I look myself.”

“I work plenty for you, capitan.” whined the stowaway piteously. "I been messman on ship. Me engineers’ messman on Coquimbo. I miss her in Seguro. She go without me.

I been hungry all time since. Gi’ me food, please, capitan. I work plenty.”

“Hungry!” roared the infuriated captain. He seized the stowaway by the throat. “I’ll squeeze your lousy neck so you'll never be able to eat again.”

The mate surrendered his captive and stepped dear. The

stowaway struggled and screeched like a hen in the captain’s choking grip. He tore frantically at the huge hands clamped tight round his neck. His brown face turned dark. His eyes bulged out wildly at the other two men for help. The mate seemed on the ¡joint of interfering. In alarm. Stromberg caught at one of the captain’s rigid arms and tugged it ineffectually.

“Good heavens, captain ! You’re strangling him !”

Captain Meggs responded by releasing the stowaway’s neck and sending his fist smashing into the gaping mouth. A gasping sound came from the youth’s throat; he went crashing down into the scuppers and lay there clutching his throat and struggling for breath, his mouth bleeding from the blow. Captain Meggs turned upon his passenger.

“Strangle him?” he shouted. “I’d like to strangle every stowraway I find. They sneak aboard a ship like rats, and when she’s clear out at sea they show up and expect to be fed. If I had my way I’d drop every one of ’em overboard; make ’em swim back. But I’m goin’ to make this little swine sorry he stepped aboard this packet.”

He turned his blazing eyes back upon the stowaway. “Get up,” he roared.

The stowaway struggled up on to his feet with the aid of the rails and cringed, wiping the blood from his lips with the back of his hand.

“Did anyone help you to hide away?” shouted the captain.

The stowaway shook his head hurriedly. “No, no, capitan,” he said, struggling for his voice. “I been long time in ships and know how. I was hiding aft. I see Mister Mate look in peak. When he go, I hide myself there.”

“What lousy country do you belong to?”

“Chile, capitan. Me Chita no.”

“You’ll wish you’d never left Chile by the time I’ve finished with you.” Captain Meggs swung upon the mate. “Put him on chippin’ an’ scrapin’ the fo’c’sle bulkhead. He’s not to have a scrap to eat; not a crumb. Give him water, that’s all. If the cook lets him have even potato peelin’s, I’ll pitch him an’ his pots ashore in Rio. If any of the crew feeds him, they’ll go on bread an’ water. Lock him up in the midship storeroom at night an’ leave the key with me.”

“Capitan, I had not’ing to eat for two day’, ” pleaded the stowaway. “I work all day, all night, for mungi.”

“Take him for’ard before I wring his yellow neck,” cried Captain Meggs.

THE MATE grabbed the stowaway by the shirt collar again and bundled him toward the ladder leading down to the forward well deck. In heavy silence Stromberg watched him being pushed down the steps and along toward the forecastle. He then looked at the enraged captain, whose savage eyes were following the progress of the mate and the stowaway.

“Bit hard on the poor devil, aren’t you, captain?” remarked Stromberg. “He looks hungry enough.”

“An’ he’ll stay hungry,” Captain Meggs cried fiercely. ‘I’ll bet he won’t stow away again after I’m through with

him. He’s the first I’ve had for a long time. The last one was glad enough to get off the ship.”

“It looks to me as if this one was driven desperate by hunger. A little kindness now and then doesn’t come amiss,” said Stromberg gently.

“Kindness!” echoed the captain in fierce contempt. “You’re at sea now, man; not in a Sunday school.”

He then strode past Stromberg and charged into his cabin, which was abaft the saloon, the screen door slamming shut again. He flung himself into a chair and sat glaring out through the screening at the sea beyond, one huge arm thrown across the small folding table at his side. “Kindness!” he muttered between his teeth. “The cursed fool!”

After a while the captain’s rage over the discovery of the stowaway subsided, and he began to think about the treasure that lay in the cabin beyond. One hundred thousand dollars worth of diamonds ! A single stone worth thirty thousand !

It had always been Captain Meggs’s ambition to amass a large amount of money in order that he could lead a leisurely life, and to this end he had run liquor into the States for SI,000 a trip, only to finish up with a two-year sentence to the Federal penitentiary in Atlanta and fines that left him without a cent; for $500 a head he smuggled Chinese across from Cuba into Florida, until his little schooner ran on the reefs during the third trip and he was obliged to escape in the only boat with three other white men, leaving his yellow human cargo to shift for themselves. Opium traffic, hijacking, gun running—these were also among the outlaw activities Captain Meggs had engaged in as means of making big money in short time, and had sent him scurrying down below the equator when North and Central American waters became too hot for him, glad enough to take command of the ill-paid rattletrap Parana until another chance to make big money quickly turned up.

And now, in the ne\t cabin, with only a flimsy wooden bulkhead dividing it from his own, was a fortune. And all that stood in his way of possessing it was this scrawny, wizened-up little German who hadn’t sense enough to keep his mouth closed after he’d poured liquor into it. A hellish gleam of greed shot into the captain’s eyes. In two days the ship would be in Rio; and in two days, if he managed things right, he’d be a rich man. He’d be able to tell the owners of this steam contraption to find someone else to run it for the

lousy pay. It was the break of his life that that little German should have come aboard in Seguro, anxious for a passage to Rio, even on the Parana with her one spare cabin. No wonder he’d been in a hurry to get out of that cutthroat port. Kindness! He’d find out what kindness was, all right!

'T'HAT NIGHT, after a long hard day’s work in the sun, with only water to sustain him, the stowaway was locked up in the midship storeroom. For a long time he lay in despair on the deck; then, nearly mad with gnawing hunger, he got up and groped round near the door for the electriclight switch. He found it and turned it. In the dim light from the single bulb, he looked about in hope of findinging something he could eat; but all he saw was coils of rope, bolts of canvas, oil and paint drums, brooms—nothing that might ease the pangs of hunger. The storeroom was near the end of the starboard alleyway, beneath the bridge deck, and it had one porthole, which opened out on the ship’s side. The stowaway stared at it, and into his fevered mind came a desperate plan to try to obtain food. He waited until toward midnight, when the ship was quiet, and then unscrewed the dogs of the port and hooked it up by the short chain hanging for that purpose from the deckhead. He threw off his broken shoes, and standing on an up-ended paint drum, he squeezed his head and shoulders through the circular opening, face upward.

The roar of the foam from the breaking bow wave filled his ears. Holding to the rim of the port with one hand, he reached up with the other and grasped the edge of the shell plate where it jutted above the bridge deck to form the scupper. He got a grip on the plate with both hands, and slowly drew his body out through the porthole and upward until his chin was almost on a level with the deck and he could get a footing on the rim of the porthole. Then he clawed upward with one hand for the lower of the rails lining the bridge deck and grasped it. His other hand quickly followed, and in a few seconds he had pulled himself to the level of the rails and was clambering safely inboard.

A little out of breath, he paused to take his bearings. It was a pitch-dark night. He discovered he was near the stern of one of the lifeboats set on the bridge deck. Facing him were the engine-room casing and skylights, from which came the steady thump of the engines and the groaning of pumps. Forward, beneath the bridge, were two lighted portholes.

The stowaway’s eyes fastened upon them in hope. He knew from his experience as messman in ships that night lunches often lay within an arm’s reach of portholes.

He stole forward, hidden from chance eyes on the bridge by the awnings spread over the deck. He crept on all fours up to the bulkhead in which the two portholes were set; crouching beneath the nearer one, he slowly straightened up until his eyes were just above the rim. I íe ducked quickly.

It was the captain’s cabin. The captain was bending before an open drawer beneath his bunk, rooting through a bundle of papers. On a small table, near the head of the bunk and well out of reach of the porthole, the stowaway’s ravenous eyes had caught a fleeting glimpse of a plate of fat sandwiches.

But there was no hope of getting them while the captain was in his cabin. The stowaway crept along toward the other porthole and slowly raised his head until he could peep inside. There was someone in this cabin, too. Seated at a small table was the light-haired little man who had stopped the capitan from choking him that morning. A small brown leather case was open in front of him, and he was staring at a small piece of glass through a lens. The stowaway’s eyes travelled round the cabin in search of food but saw none.

The passenger, as if warned by some instinct that he was being watched, suddenly glanced up sideways at the port. The stowaway ducked, but not quickly enough. The man within let out a startled oath. The stowaway darted aft along the deck to the stern of the lifeboat, his shoeless feet making no sound. He scrambled hastily over the rail and lowered himself down through the porthole back into the storeroom.

He had scarcely vanished from the deck when Stromberg came hurrying out through the saloon door. He went round to the after porthole of his cabin and peered about in the darkness. A moment later he was joined by Captain Meggs, who had heard him hastening past his door.

“Anything wrong?” enquired the captain.

“Someone was spying upon me just now,” complained Stromberg.

“Spyin’ on you?” echoed the captain curiously.

“It seemed like that anyway. I was going over my collection with the glass, and I happened to look up and saw the top of someone’s head bob down outside the port. He ran off when I got up to see who it was.”

“Stay here a second,” said the captain abruptly. “It might have been someone just come down off the bridge.”

He went up on the bridge and questioned the mate on watch, but was told that no one had either gone on the bridge or left it during the last hour. Captain Meggs returned to Stromberg’s side.

“Maybe it was one o’ the firemen come up to trim the ventilators. They’re nosey enough to squint through a porthole. I’d like to catch one of ’em at it, though. He’d feel the toe o’ my boot.”

Stromberg accepted this explanation without comment and returned to his cabin. Captain Meggs followed at his heels. “Better keep that bag o’ stuff out o’ sight,” he advised. “Never know when someone’s goin’ to see it. It’s safe enough on board, but there’s no tellin’ what might happen in Rio if someone sees it here an’ talks ashore.”

“That’s true,” agreed Stromberg, his brows knitting. He glanced at the door of his cabin. “Is there a key for that lock, captain? I suppose it’s foolish of me, but it’s made me a bit nervous seeing that fellow at the port.”

Captain Meggs shook his head. “No, but there’s a key

Continued on page 37

The Locked Door

Continued from page 25—Starts on page 2If

for the saloon door. You can have that. No one can get into this cabin without cornin’ through the saloon. You can lock the saloon door every night just before you tum in.”

Captain Meggs went to his cabin for the key and inserted it on the inside of the saloon-door lock. Then he wished Stromberg good night and left him. In his own cabin he sat puzzling over who it could have been that was looking through the passenger’s porthole, whether it was just some nosey

fireman up to trim the ventilators, as he had suggested to Stromberg, or whether it was j someone who knew about the diamonds and meant to steal them. He had no reason to suspect the stowaway.

Captain Meggs scowled savagely while he pulled at his ragged black mustache. After a while he shrugged indifferently. His plans | were made and he was going through with them whether anyone else knew about the diamonds or not. He was feeling very glad j that Stromberg had asked for that key. It I

fitted in nicely with his plans for the future.

At daybreak next morning the stowaway was put to work again on chipping and scraping the forecastle bulkhead. At noon the mate, pleased with the amount of scaling the stowaway had done, wanted to let him go to the galley for something to eat; but the captain cut him short.

“No, not a bite,” he snarled.

The mate shrugged his shoulders and walked away. The Captain called him hack.

“I’ve given the passenger the key o’ the saloon so he can lock the door at night,” he said casually. “Don’t leave anything in there you might need during the night. Pass the word round to the others, too. He saw someone peekin’ in through his port last night, an’ it’s got him a bit scared. I think he’s got a bit o’ money with him, or something.”

ABOUT ten o’clock that night, when -4*. everything was quiet, Captain Meggs took the key of the midship storeroom from the board in his cabin and went down and unlocked the door. He switched on the light, and saw the stowaway lying on the deck over in the far corner. The stowaway got up on his feet, half hopefully, half fearfully, at the appearance of the captain; but the captain, beyond a quick savage glance in his direction, paid no attention to him. He stepped up to a shelf and took down a can, and wrapped a sheet of old newspaper round it. Then he made for the door again, the parcel under his arm. As lie started to go out, the stowaway cried piteously :

“Capilan, give me mungi, please. Just a piece of bread, please, capilan.”

The captain turned his head and shot the starving youth a poisonous look. “I would if I thought it would choke you !” he snarled. He pulled the door to and locked it.

He then returned to his cabin and put the parcel to one side. He sat reading until eleven o’clock. Sounds coming from the next cabin told him that his passenger was preparing to turn in. He laid aside his book, and going to a drawer beneath his bunk, took out something and slipped it quickly into his pocket. Then he picked up the parcel again and thrust it under his arm. Stepping out on deck, he peered round him in the dark. There was not a soul in sight. He moved along to the saloon door, which was next to his own. He opened it softly and removed the key from the inside to the outside. Next he set his parcel down in the corner, just inside the doorway. Then he entered the saloon and closed the door loudly behind him, so that the passenger would think he had just come in at that moment. As he walked through the darkened saloon to the passenger’s cabin, he took care to note that the three saloon ports were closed and the curtains drawn across them, as they usually were every night to prevent any glare from being thrown out on the forward deck and interfering with the night sight of the mate keeping watch on the bridge.

Stromberg was in his pyjamas, cleaning his teeth by the washstand. He looked up as the captain entered and gave him a friendly smile.

“I thought I’d drop in an’ have a little chat before you turn in,” said Captain Meggs. “We’ll be in Rio tomorrow mornin’, an’ you’ll be leavin’ us. I’ll be sorry to see you go. I enjoyed havin’ you.”

“It’s nice of you to say that, captain,” said Stromberg. He invited the captain to help himself from a box of cigars on the small table. Captain’_Meggs pulled up a stool.

“That little pink stone has got me goin’,” he said. “I’d like to take another look at it.”

Stromberg chuckled. “If it’s got you like that in the rough, what would it do to you if you saw it when it’s been cut and polished?” He got up and bent over to pull out the rusty steamer trunk from under the bunk.

“Better close the ports,” suggested the captain, "in case anyone else takes a notion to peek in.”

He rose and closed them himself. He j screwed up the dogs unnecessarily tight, but I Stromberg was too busy with his trunk to

notice the captain’s actions. The captain drew the curtains across the ports, one of which faced aft and the other opening on the side. When he turned round, Stromberg had opened the trunk and was bending over it. Captain Meggs moved nearer to him. He looked about him swiftly, as if he feared someone might be watching. Then he snatched a dagger from his pocket and struck at the vital spot in the passenger’s stooping back. Stromberg gasped, half straightened up stiffly; then pitched forward across the end of the trunk.

CAPTAIN MEGGS quickly reached down and withdrew the dagger. He wiped it hurriedly on a garment snatched from the trunk and thrust it back into his pocket. Feverishly he grojred in the trunk for the little brown leather case and ran into the saloon with it; he set it down by the door leading out on deck. He grabbed up the parcel from the corner and hurried back into the passenger’s cabin, tearing off the paper as he went. It was a can of gasoline. He unscrewed the cap and poured part of the contents over the motionless form across the trunk; then he sprinkled most of the remainder over the furniture, carpets, and wooden paneling in both the passenger’s cabin and the saloon, leaving a space clear by the outside door for his protection. He left a little gasoline in the can and placed it down alongside the little brown leather case.

He paused to make a swift review of his plans in order to make sure lie had overlooked nothing. He would touch off the gasoline with a match, and in a few seconds the passenger cabin and the saloon would become a raging furnace. By the time the mate on the bridge noticed the glare on the deck and gave the alarm, he would have slipped out, locked the door, and be back in his own cabin. The momentary glare thrown out across the doorway when he went through would be hidden from the bridge by the awnings.

When the alarm was sounded, he would rush out of his cabin and take charge. He would find the saloon door locked and curse the passenger loudly for locking it. It would take time to smash in the door and the ports; by then the fire would have destroyed all traces of his crime. There’d just be a charred body, to be buried overboard. If the flames spread and the whole ship caught fire, so much the better; he’d order the ship abandoned; she was dose to shore. His papers and few valuables were packed ready in his bag. There was still room in it for the little brown case. If any mention should be made ashore of the diamonds, if anyone else knew about them—well, he didn’t know; they weren’t on the manifest. If the ship burned up and sank, then they’d gone down with her; if she came through all right, then they must have gone overboard when all the mess was dumped over the side.

Captain Meggs then picked up the case, and wedging it under his arm, he took a box of matches from his pocket. He glanced down at the can by the door. As he went out, he would tip it over with his foot.

He struck a match and threw it across the saloon. It fell on the deck by the door of the passenger cabin. Immediately a sheet of flame shot up with a roar to the wooden ceiling. The gasoline blazed up within a yard or so of the captain, where its trail ended, so near that he felt the heat upon his face. He took a firm grip of the brown leather case, seized the doorknob and turned it.

His heart gave a thump. He twisted the knob round as far as it would go and shoved. The door would not move. Dropping the leather case, he grasped the knob with both hands and almost screwed it off while he threw his heavy weight against the solid teakwood door. Several times, with increasing panic, he threw himself against the door and wrenched at the knob before he would recognize the ghastly truth:

The door was locked on the outside ! Panic-stricken, he spun round. Everything was in roaring flames. In the passenger cabin, where most of the gasoline had been spilled, the fire sounded like a furnace under forced draft; the woodwork was crackling like sticks in a bonfire. Flames and

smoke were darting and rolling out through the doorway, adding to the flames and smoke in the saloon. Hot black clouds billowed toward him, into his eyes and lungs, almost choking and blinding him.

The ports! Desperately he half started toward them; but the hair-filled settee cushion beneath them formed a blazing barrier; their curtains were now curtains of fire. Flames darted viciously at him. He wheeled round to the door, screaming, and hurled himself in frenzy against it. He beat upon it with his hands until his knuckles bled, and charged it with his shoulders until his bones nearly cracked, shrieking himself hoarse for someone to unlock it. He kicked at it like a madman, and tore and wrenched frantically at the knob as if he thought it was only that that was holding the door.

Then, in his blind terror, he accidentally kicked over the gasoline can. The remaining liquid shot across the deck and reached the flames. A sheet of fire immediately roared up and enveloped him, and he collapsed into merciful unconsciousness.

LEANING OVER the fore part of the * bridge on the other side, the sound of swirling foam from the breaking bow wave filling his ears, the mate heard nothing of that frenzied hammering upon the saloon door. He first became aware of the fire when the saloon porthole curtains flamed up and the dancing glare fell across the dark fore deck. He rushed for the ship’s bell and rang the fire alarm upon it. He shouted to the lookout to get all hands up at fire stations, and then stopped the engines. He did not leave the bridge until the second mate had come up in haste. Then he rushed down the ladder and tried the saloon door. He remembered why it was locked. In the dark he could not see the key inserted in the keyhole on the outside. He shouted to the sailors to hack down the door and smash in the ports with the fire axes, to smash in the ports of the passenger’s cabin first and get him out.

The crew gradually fought down the flames in the saloon with the fire hoses, and presently a body was carried out and laid on the deck. Flashing a light on it, the mate was shocked to identify it not as that of the passenger but of Captain Meggs.

“How de devil did he come to be in dere vit de door locked?” he gasped.

Shortly afterwards, the remains of what had been the passenger were brought out. When the fire had been extinguished the mate went inside and flashed his torch over the ruins of the saloon and the passenger cabin. The floors were hidden under several inches of water and a mass of charred wood and twisted metal. He noticed the remains of what appeared to have been a little leather case, washed up against all that was left of a chair by the streams from the hoses. Once he found himself to be walking on what felt like pebbles, and scooping up a few in his hand from under the water, he flashed his light upon them curiously.

“Glass,” he grunted, and threw them down again. Then he called out to the bosun: “Get all dis mess shovelled up and dumped over de side right avay.”

DOWN IN the midship storeroom, the stowaway sat listening to the tramping and shouting above his head. He had heard the rapid ringing of the bell and knew that fire had broken out. He judged by the diminishing sounds from the deck over him that the danger from it was past. He was feeling happy that it had not started sooner. Luck had been with him tonight. He had climbed up on deck through the por thole just in time to see the capilan come out of his cabin and go in through the next door; and he had seen him put the key on the outside, too. But for that he would never have dared to go into the capitals cabin and take his sandwiches. Just a turn of the key and there was no danger of the capilan coming and catching him. The stowaway suddenly remembered he had dashed off with the sandwiches without pausing to unlock the door again. But what did it matter? Someone else must have let the captain out, and he’d never know who had played the trick on him.