faces, conspicuously and repeatedly shook his head at
Jim. Jim's answer was a note of two words: "My
racket t" which, when the great man had perused, he
shook his finger warningly, and departed, I thought,
with a sorrowful countenance.
Although Mr. Longhurst knew nothing of Bellairs,
the shady lawyer knew all about the Wrecker Boss. He
had seen him enter the ring with manifest expectation ;
188 THE WKBCKER.
he saw him depart, and the bids continue, with manifest
surprise and disappointment. " Hullo ! " he plainly
thought, " this is not the ring I'm fighting, then ? "
And he determined to put on a spurt.
'Eighteen thousand," said he.
" And fifty," said Jim, taking a leaf out of his adver-
"Twenty thousand," from Bellairs.
" And fifty," from Jim, with a little nervous titter.
And with one consent they returned to the old pace,
only now it was Bellairs who took the hundreds, and
Jim who did the fifty business. But by this time our
idea had gone abroad. I could hear the word " opium "
pass from mouth to mouth ; and by the looks directed
at us, I could see we were supposed to have some private
information. And here an incident occurred highly typ-
ical of San Francisco. Close at my back there had
stood for some time a stout, middle-aged gentleman, with
pleasant eyes, hair pleasantly grizzled, and a ruddy,
pleasing face. All of a sudden, he appeared as a third
competitor, skied the Flying Scud with four fat bids of
a thousand dollars each, and then as suddenly fled the
field, remaining thenceforth (as before) a silent, inter-
Ever since Mr. Longhurst's useless intervention, Bel-
lairs had seemed uneasy; and at this new attack, ha
began (in his turn) to scribble a note between the bids.
I imagined naturally enough that it would go to Captain
THE WRECK OF THE "FLYING SCUD." 189
Trent ; but when it was done, and the writer turned and
looked behind him in the crowd, to my unspeakable
amazement, he did not seem to remark the captain's
"Messenger boy, messenger boy!" I heard him say.
" Somebody call me a messenger boy."
At last somebody did, but it was not the captain.
" He's sending for instructions" I wrote to Pinkerton.
"For money" he wrote back. "Shall I strike out? 1
think this is the time."
" Thirty thousand," said Pinkerton, making a leap of
close upon three thousand dollars.
I could see doubt in Bellairs's eye ; then, sudden reso-
lution. " Thirty-five thousand," said he.
" Forty thousand," said Pinkerton.
There was a long pause, during which Bellairs's coun-
tenance was as a book ; and then, not much too soon for
the impending hammer, "Forty thousand and five dol-
lars," said he.
Pinkerton and I exchanged eloquent glances. We
were of one mind. Bellairs had tried a bluff; now he
perceived his mistake, and was bidding against time ; he
was trying to spin out the sale until the messenger boy
" Forty-five thousand dollars," said Pinkerton : his
voice was like a ghost's and tottered with emotion.
" Forty-five thousand and five dollars," said Bellairs.
190 THE WEECKZR.
"Fifty thousand/' said Pinkerton.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Pinkerton. Did I hear you
make an advance, sir ? " asked the auctioneer.
I I hare a difficulty in speaking," gasped Jim.
If s fifty thousand, Mr. Borden."
Bellairs was on his feet in a moment " Auctioneer,"
he said, " I have to beg the favour of three moments at
the telephone. In this matter, I am acting on behalf of
a certain party to whom I have just written "
"I have nothing to do with any of this," said the
auctioneer, brutally. " I am here to sell this wreck. Bo
you nake any advance on fifty thousand ? "
"I have the honour to explain to you, sir," returned
Bellairs, with a miserable assumption of dignity. "Fifty
thousand was the figure named by my principal ; but if
you will give me the small favour of two moments at
the telephone "
"O, nonsense!" said the auctioneer. "If you make
no advance, HI knock it down to Mr. Pinkerton."
"I warn you," cried the attorney, with sudden shrill-
ness. "Have a care what you're about. You are here
to sell for the underwriters, let me tell you not to act
for Mr. Douglas Longhurst. This sale has been already
disgracefully interrupted to allow that person to hold
a consultation with his minions. It has been much com-
There was no complaint at the time," said the auc-
manifestly discountenanced. " You should have
complained at the time."
THE WEECK OF THE " FLYING SCUD." 191
" I am not here to conduct this sale/' replied Bellairs ;
" I am not paid for that."
" Well, I am, you see," retorted the auctioneer, his
impudence quite restored ; and he resumed his sing-song.
" Any advance on fifty thousand dollars ? No advance
on fifty thousand ? No advance, gentlemen ? Going at
fifty thousand, the wreck of the brig Flying Scud go-
ing going gone ! "
" My God, Jim, can we pay the money ? " I cried, as
the stroke of the hammer seemed to recall me from a
"It's got to be raised," said he, white as a sheet.
u It'll be a hell of a strain, London. The credit's good
for it, I think ; but I shall have to get around. Write
me a cheque for your stuff. Meet you at the Occidental
in an hour/'
I wrote my cheque at a desk, and I declare I could
never have recognised my signature. Jim was gone in
a moment ; Trent had vanished even earlier ; only Bel-
lairs remained exchanging insults with the auctioneer;
and behold ! as I pushed my way out of the exchange,
who should run full tilt into my arms, but the messenger
It was by so near a margin that we became the owners
of the Flying Scud.
192 THE WKECKEK.
IN WHICH THE CREW VANISH,
At the door of the exchange, I found myself along-
side of the short, middle-aged gentleman who had made
an appearance, so vigorous and so brief, in the great
"Congratulate you, Mr. Dodd," he said. "You and
your friend stuck to your guns nobly."
"No thanks to you, sir," I replied, "running us up a
thousand at a time, and tempting all the speculators in
San Francisco to come and have a try."
" 0, that was temporary insanity," said he ; " and I
thank the higher powers I am still a free man. Walk-
ing this way, Mr. Dodd? I'll walk along with you.
It's pleasant for an old fogy like myself to see the
young bloods in the ring; I've done some pretty wild
gambles in my time in this very city, when it was a
smaller place and I was a younger man. Yes, I know
you, Mr. Dodd. By sight, I may say I know you ex-
tremely well, you and your followers, the fellows in the
kilts, eh ? Pardon me. But I have the misfortune to
own a little box on the Saucelito shore. Pll be glad
to see you there any Sunday without the fellows in
kilts, you know; and I can give you a bottle of wine,
and show you the best collection of Arctic voyages in
IN WHICH THE CREW VANISH. 193
the States. Morgan is my name Judge Morgan a
Welshman and a forty-niner."
"0, if you're a pioneer," cried I, "come to me, and
I'll provide you with an axe."
" You'll want your axes for yourself, I fancy," he re-
turned, with one of his quick looks. " Unless you have
private knowledge, there will be a good deal of rather
violent wrecking to do before you find that opium, do
you call it ? "
"Well, it's either opium, or we are stark, staring mad,"
I replied. " But I assure you we have no private infor-
mation. We went in (as I suppose you did yourself)
" An observer, sir ? " inquired the judge.
" I may say it is my trade or, rather, was," said L
" Well, now, and what did you think of Bellairs ? " he
" Very little indeed," said I.
" I may tell you," continued the judge, " that to me,
the employment of a fellow like that appears inexplica-
ble. I knew him ; he knows me too j he has often heard
from me in court ; and I assure you the man is utterly
blown upon ; it is not safe to trust him with a dollar j
and here we find him dealing up to fifty thousand. I
can't think who can have so trusted him, but I am very
sure it was a stranger in San Francisco."
" Some one for the owners, I suppose," said I.
" Surely not I " exclaimed the judge. " Owners to
194 THE WRECKER.
London can have nothing to say to opium smuggler
between Hong Kong and San Francisco. I should
rather fancy they would be the last to hear of it until
the ship was seized. No ; I was thinking of the captain.
But where would he get the money ? above all, after
having laid out so much to buy the stuff in China. Un-
less, indeed, he were acting for some one in 'Frisco ; and
in that case here we go round again in the vicious
circle Bellairs would not have been employed."
"I think I can assure you it was not the captain,"
said I; "for he and Bellairs are not acquainted."
" Wasn't that the captain, with the red face and col-
oured handkerchief ? He seemed to me to follow Bel-
lairs's game with the most thrilling interest," objected
" Perfectly true," said I ; " Trent is deeply interested ;
he very likely knew Bellairs, and he certainly knew
what he was there for ; but I can put my hand in the
fire that Bellairs didn't know Trent."
"Another singularity," observed the judge. "Well,
we have had a capital forenoon. But you take an old
lawyer's advice, and get to Midway Island as fast as you
can. There's a pot of money on the table, and Bellairs
and Co. are not the men to stick at trifles."
With this parting counsel, Judge Morgan shook hands
and made off along Montgomery Street, while I entered
the Occidental Hotel, on the steps of which we had fin-
iohed our conversation. I was well known to the clerk^
IN WHICH THE CREW VANISH. 195
and as soon as it was understood that I was there to
wait for Pinkerton and lunch, I was invited to a seat
inside the counter. Here, then, in a retired corner, I
was beginning to come a little to myself after these so
violent experiences, when who should come hurrying in,
and (after a moment with a clerk) fly to one of the
telephone boxes but Mr. Henry D. Bellairs in person ?
Call it what you will, but the impulse was irresistible,
and I rose and took a place immediately at the man's
back. It may be some excuse that I had often practised
this rery innocent form of eavesdropping upon strangers,
and for fun. Indeed, I scarce know anything that gives
a lower view of man's intelligence than to overhear (as
you thus do) one side of a communication.
"Central," said the attorney, "2241 and 584 B" (or
some such numbers) " Who's that ? All right
Mr. Bellairs Occidental; the wires are fouled in the
other place Yes, about three minutes Yes Yes
Your figure, I am sorry to say No I had no au-
thority Neither more nor less I have every reason
to suppose so 0, Pinkerton, Montana Block Yes
Yes Very good, sir As you will, sir Disconnect
Bellairs turned to leave ; at sight of me behind him,
up flew his hands, and he winced and cringed, as though
in fear of bodily attack. " 0, it's you ! " he cried ; and
then, somewhat recovered, "Mr. Pinkerton's partner, I
believe ? I am pleased to see you, sir to congratulate
196 THE WKECKEB.
you on your late success." And with that he was
obsequiously bowing as he passed.
And now a madcap humour came upon me. It was
plain Bellairs had been communicating with his prin-
cipal ; I knew the number, if not the name ; should I
ring up at once, it was more than likely he would re-
turn in person to the telephone j why should not 1 dash
(vocally) into the presence of this mysterious person,
and have some fan for my money. I pressed the belL
" Central," said I, connect again 2241 and 684 B.
A phantom central repeated the numbers ; there was
a pause, and then " Two two four one," came in a tiny
voice into my ear a voice with the English sing-song
the voice plainly o^ a gentleman. "Is that you
again, Mr. Bellairs?"* it trilled, "I tell you it's no
use. Is that you, Mr. Bellairs? Who is that ? n
"I only want to put a single question," said 1, civilly.
"Why do you want to buy the Flying Scud?"
No answer came. The telephone vibrated and
hummed in miniature with all the numerous talk of a
great city ; but the voice of 2241 was silent Once and
twice I put my question j but the tiny, sing-song Eng-
lish voice, I heard no more. The man, then, had fled?
fled from an impertinent question? It scarce seemed
natural to me ; unless on the principle that the wicked
fleeth when no man pursueth. I took the telephone
list and turned the number up: "2241, Mrs. Keane, res.
942 Mission Street." And that, short of driving to the
IN WHICH THE CREW VANISH. 197
house and renewing my impertinence in person, was all
that I could do.
Yet, as 1 resumed my seat in the corner of the office,
I was conscious of a new element of the uncertain, the
underhand, perhaps even the dangerous, in our adven-
ture } and there was now a new picture in my mental
gallery, to hang beside that of the wreck under its
canopy of sea-birds and of Captain Trent mopping hia
red brow the picture of a man with a telephone dice-
box to his ear, and at the small voice of a single ques*
tion, struck suddenly as white as ashes.
From these considerations I was awakened by the
striking of the clock. An hour and nearly twenty
minutes had elapsed since Finkerton departed for the
money : he was twenty minutes behind time ; and to me
who knew so well his gluttonous despatch of business
and had so frequently admired his iron punctuality,
tLe fact spoke volumes. The twenty minutes slowly
stretched into an hourj the hour had nearly extended
to a second j and I still sat in my corner of the office,,
or paced the marble pavement of the hall, a prey to the
most wretched anxiety and penitence. The hour for
lunch was nearly over before I remembered that I had
not eaten. Heaven knows I had no appetite ; but there
might still be much to do it was needful I should keep
myself in proper trim, if it were only to digest the now
too probable bad news; and leaving word at the office
for Pinkerton, I sat down to table and called for soup,
oysters, and a pint of champagne,
198 THE WRECKER.
I was not long set, before my friend returned. He
looked pale and rather old, refused to hear of food, and
called for tea.
"I suppose all's up? " said I, with an incredible sinking.
"No," he replied; "I've pulled it through, London;
just pulled it through. I couldn't have raised another
cent in all 'Frisco. People don't like it ; Longhurst even
went back on me; said he wasn't a three-card-monte
"Well, what's the odds?" said I. "That's all we
wanted, isn't it ? "
"London, I tell you I've had to pay blood for that
money," cried ray friend, with almost savage energy and
gloom. "It's all on ninety days, too; I couldn't get
another day not another day. If we go ahead with
this affair, Loudon, you'll have to go yourself and make
the fur fly. Pii stay of course I've got to stay and
face the trouble in this city ; though, I tell you, I just
long to go. I would show these fat brutes of sailors
what work was I would be all through that wreck and
out at the oth*. end, before they had boosted themselves
upon the deck j But you'll do your level best, Loudon ;
I depend on you for that. You must be all fire and grit
and dash from the word ' go.' That schooner and the
boodle on board of her are bound to be here before three
months, or its B. U. S. T. bust."
"I'll swear I'll do my best, Jim; I'll work double
IN WHICH THE CREW VANISH. 199
tides," S'*id I. " It is my fault that you are in this thing,
and I'll get you out again or kill myself. But what is
that you say ? ' If we go ahead ? ' Have we any choice,
then ? "
"I'm coming to that," said Jim. "It isn't that I
doubt the investment. Don't blame yourself for that;
you showed a fine, sound business instinct : I always
knew it was in you, but then it ripped right out. I
guess that little beast of an attorney knew what he was
doing ; and he wanted nothing better than to go beyond.
No, there's profit in the deal; it's not that; it's these
ninety-day bills, and the strain I've given the credit, for
I've been up and down, borrowing, and begging and
bribing to borrow. I don't believe there's another man
but me in 'Frisco," he cried, with a sudden fervor of self
admiration, " who could have raised that last ten thou-
sand! Then there's another thing. I had hoped you
might have peddled that opium through the islands,
which is safer and more profitable. But with this three-
month limit, you must make tracks for Honolulu straight,
and communicate by steamer. I'll try to put up some-
thing for you there ; I'll have a man spoken to who's
posted on that line of biz. Keep a bright lookout for
him as soon's you make the islands; for it's on the
cards he might pick you up at sea in a whaleboat or a
steam-launch, and bring the dollars right on board."
It shows how much I had suffered morally during my
sojourn in San Francisco, that even now when our for-
200 THE WRECKER.
tunes trembled in the balance, I should have consented
to become a smuggler and (of all things) a smuggler of
opium. Yet I did, and that in silence; without a
protest, not without a twinge.
"And suppose," said I, " suppose the opium is so
securely hidden that I can't get hands on it."
" Then you will stay there till that brig is kindling-
wood, and stay and split that kindling-wood with your
penknife," cried Pinkerton. " The stuff is there; we
know that; and it must be found. But all this is only
the one string to our bow r though I tell you I've gone
into it head-first, as if it was our bottom dollar. Why,
the first thing I did before I'd raised a cent, and with
this other notion in my head already the first thing
I did was to secure the schooner. The Nora Creina,
she is, sixty-four tons, quite big enough for our pur-
pose since the rice is spoiled, and the fastest thing of
her tonnage out of San Francisco. For a bonus of two
hundred, and a monthly charter of three, I have her
for my own time; wages and provisions, say four hun-
dred more: a drop in the bucket. They began firing
the cargo out of her (she was part loaded) near two
hours ago; and about the same time John Smith got
the order for the stores. That's what I call business."
"No doubt of that," said I. "But the other notion."
"Well, here it is," said Jim. "You agree with me
that Bellairs was ready to go higher ? "
I saw where he was coming. "Yes, and why
shouldn't he ? " said I. " Is that the line? "
IN WHICH THE CBEW VANISH. 201
"That's the line, Loudon Dodd," assented Jim. "If
Bellairs and his principal have any desire to go me
better, I'm their man."
A sudden thought, a sudden fear, shot into my mind
What if I had been right ? What if my childish pleas-
antry had frightened the principal away, and thus de-
stroyed our chance ? Shame closed my mouth ; I began
instinctively a long course of reticence ; and it was with-
out a word of my meeting with Bellairs, or my discovery
of the address in Mission Street, that I continued the
"Doubtless fifty thousand was originally mentioned
as a round sum," said I, " or at least, so Bellairs sup-
posed. But at the same time it may be an outside sum ;
and to cover the expenses we have already incurred for
the money and the schooner I am far from blaming
you; I see how needful it was to be ready for either
event but to cover them we shall want a rather large
" Bellairs will go to sixty thousand ; it's my belief, if
he were properly handled, he would take the hundred."
replied Pinkerton. " Look back on the way the sale ran
at the end."
"That is my own impression as regards Bellairs," I
admitted. "The point I am trying to make is that
Bellairs himself may be mistaken; that what he sup
posed to be a round sum was really an outside figure."
" Well, Loudon, if that is so," said Jim, with extraor
202 THE WRECKER.
dinary gravity of face and voice, " if that is so, let hin
take the Flying Scud at fifty thousand, and joy go with
her ! I prefer the loss."
" Is that so, Jim ? Are we dipped as bad as that ? "
" We've put our hand farther out than we can pull it
in again, Loudon," he replied. "Why, man, that fifty
thousand dollars, before we get clear again, will cost us
nearer seventy. Yes, it figures up overhead to more
than ten per cent a month; and I could do no better,
and there isn't the man breathing could have done as
well. It was a miracle, Loudon. I couldn't but admire
myself. 0, if we had just the four months ! And you
know, Loudon, it may still be done. With your energy
and charm, if the worst comes to the worst, you can run
that schooner as you ran one of your picnics; and we
may have luck. And, 0, man ! if we do pull it through,
what a dashing operation it will be ! What an adver-
tisement ! what a thing to talk of, and remember all our
lives! However," he broke off suddenly, "we must try
the safe thing first. Here's for the shyster ! "
There was another struggle in my mind, whether I
should even now admit my knowledge of the Mission
Street address. But I had let the favourable moment
slip. I had now, which made it the more awkward, not
merely the original discovery, but my late suppression
to confess. I could not help reasoning, besides, that the
IN WHICH THE CREW VANISH. 203
more natural course was to approach the principal by
the road of his agent's office ; and there weighed upon
my spirits a conviction that we were already too late,
and that the man was gone two hours ago. Once more,
then, I held my peace ; and after an exchange of words
at the telephone to assure ourselves he was at home, we
set out for the attorney's office.
The endless streets of any American city pass, from
one end to another, through strange degrees and vicissi-
*ndes of splendour and distress, running under the same
name between monumental warehouses, the dens and
taverns of thieves, and the sward and shrubbery of
villas. In San Francisco, the sharp inequalities of the
ground, and the sea bordering on so many sides, greatly
exaggerate these contrasts. The street for which we
were now bound took its rise among blowing sands,
somewhere in view of the Lone Mountain Cemetery; ran
for a term across that rather windy Olympus of Nob
Hill, or perhaps just skirted its frontier; passed almost
immediately after through a stage of little houses, rather
impudently painted, and offering to the eye of the ob-
server this diagnostic peculiarity, that the huge brass
plates upon the small and highly coloured doors bore only
the first names of ladies Norah or Lily or Florence }
traversed China Town, where it was doubtless under-
mined with opium cellars, and its blocks pierced, after
the similitude of rabbit-warrens, with a hundred doors
204 THE WRECKER.
and passages and galleries; enjoyed a glimpse of high
publicity at the corner of Kearney j and proceeded, among
dives and warehouses, towards the City Front and the
region of the water-rats. In this last stage of its career,
where it was both grimy and solitary, and alternately
quiet and roaring to the wheels of drays, we found a
certain house of some pretension to neatness, and fur-
nished with a rustic outside stair. On the pillar of the
stair a black plate bore in gilded lettering this device :
"Harry D. Bellairs, Attorney-at-law. Consultations,
9 to 6." On ascending the stairs, a door was found to
stand open on the balcony, with this further inscription,
"Mr. Bellairs In."
"I wonder what we do next," said L
"Guess we sail right in," returned Jim, and suited
the action to the word.
The room in which we found ourselves was clean, but
extremely bare. A. rather old-fashioned secretaire stood
by the wall, with a chair drawn to the deskj in one
corner was a shelf with half-a-dozen law books ; and I
can remember literally not another stick of furniture.
One inference imposed itself: Mr. Bellairs was in the
habit of sitting down himself and suffering his clients
to stand. At the far end, and veiled by a curtain of red
baize, a second door communicated with the interior of
the house. Hence, after some coughing and stamping,
we elicited the shyster, who came timorously forth, for
IN WHICH THE CREW VANISH. 205
all the world like a man in fear of bodily assault, and
then, recognising his guests, suffered from what I can
only call a nervous paroxysm of courtesy.
"Mr. Pinkerton and partner!" said he. "I will go
and fetch you seats."
" Not the least," said Jim. " No time. Much rather
stand. This is business, Mr. Bellairs. This morning,
as you know, I bought the wreck, Flying Scud"