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would finish the job, leave their corpses on the floor, and sail off
with the dollars and his Chinese crew in perfect safety. There were no
witnesses.

"Now," said Ginnell, "what the pair of you have to do is this. Misther
Harman, you'll go into that cabin behind you, climb on the upper bunk,
stick your head through the port-hole and shout to the coolies down
below there with the boat to come up. It'll take two men to get them
dollars on deck and down to the wather side. When you've done that,
the pair of you will walk into the ould man's cabin an' say your
prayers, thanking the saints you've got off so easy, whiles I puts the
bolt on you till the dollars are away. And remimber this, one word or
kick from you and I shoot - the Chinamen will never tell."

"See here," said Harman.

"One word!" shouted Ginnell, suddenly dropping the mask of urbanity and
levelling the pistol.

It was as though the tiger-cat in his grimy soul had suddenly burst
bonds and mastered him. His finger pressed on the trigger and the next
moment Harman's brains, or what he had of them, might have been
literally forenint him on the table, when suddenly, tremendous as the
last trumpet, paralysing as the inrush of a body of armed men, booing
and bellowing back from the cliffs in a hundred echoes came a
voice - the blast of a ship's syren.

"Huroop, Hirrip, Hurop, Haar - Haar - Haar!"

Ginnell's arm fell. Harman, forgetting everything, turned, dashed into
the cabin behind him, climbed on the upper bunk, and stuck his head
through the port-hole.

Then he dashed back into the saloon.

"It's the _Port of Amsterdam_," cried Harman, "It's the salvage ship,
she's there droppin' her anchor; we're done, we're dished - and we
foolin' like this and they crawlin' up on us."

"And you said she'd only do eight knots!" cried Blood.

Ginnell flung the revolver on the floor. Every trace of the recent
occurrence had vanished, and the three men thought no more of one
another than a man thinks of petty matters in the face of dissolution.
Gunderman was outside, that was enough for them.

"Boys," said Ginnell, "ain't there no way out with them dollars?
S'pose we howk them ashore?"

"Cliffs two hundred foot high," said Harman, "not a chanst. We're
dished."

Said Blood: "There's only one thing left. We'll walk the dollars down
to the boat and row off with them. Of course we'll be stopped; still,
there's the chance that Gunderman may be drunk or something. It's one
chance in a hundred billion - it's the only one."

But Gunderman was not drunk, nor were his boat party; and the
court-martial he held on the beach in broken English and with the sack
of coin beside him as chief witness would form a bright page of
literature had one time to record it.

Ginnell, as owner of the _Heart of Ireland_, received the whole brunt
of the storm; there was no hearing for him when, true to himself, he
tried to cast the onus of the business on Blood and Harman. He was
told to get out and be thankful he was not brought back to 'Frisco in
irons, and he obeyed instructions, rowing off to the schooner, he and
Harman and Blood, a melancholy party with the exception of Blood, who
was talking to Harman with extreme animation on the subject of beam
engines.

On deck it was Blood who gave orders for hauling up the anchor and
setting sail. He had recaptured the revolver.




THE DERELICT _NEPTUNE_*

From "Spun Gold," BY MORGAN ROBERTSON

*Reprinted by courtesy of Harper & Brothers.


Across the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Guinea to Cape St. Roque
moves a great body of water - the Main Equatorial Current - which can be
considered the motive power, or mainspring, of the whole Atlantic
current system, as it obtains its motion directly from the ever-acting
push of the tradewinds. At Cape St. Roque this broad current splits
into two parts, one turning north, the other south. The northern part
contracts, increases its speed, and, passing up the northern coast of
South America as the Guiana Current, enters through the Caribbean Sea
into the Gulf of Mexico, where it circles around to the northward;
then, colored a deep blue from the fine river silt of the Mississippi,
and heated from its long surface exposure under a tropical sun to an
average temperature of eighty degrees, it emerges into the Florida
Channel as the Gulf Stream.

From here it travels northeast, following the trend of the coast line,
until, off Cape Hatteras, it splits into three divisions, one of which,
the westernmost, keeps on to lose its warmth and life in Baffin's Bay.
Another impinges on the Hebrides, and is no more recognizable as a
current; and the third, the eastern and largest part of the divided
stream, makes a wide sweep to the east and south, enclosing the Azores
and the deadwater called the Sargasso Sea, then, as the African
Current, runs down the coast until, just below the Canary Isles, it
merges into the Lesser Equatorial Current, which, parallel to the
parent stream, and separated from it by a narrow band of backwater,
travels west and filters through the West Indies, making puzzling
combinations with the tides, and finally bearing so heavily on the
young Gulf Stream as to give to it the sharp turn to the northward
through the Florida Channel.

In the South Atlantic, the portion of the Main Equatorial Current split
off by Cape St. Roque and directed south leaves the coast at Cape Frio,
and at the latitude of the River Plate assumes a due easterly
direction, crossing the ocean as the Southern Connecting Current. At
the Cape of Good Hope it meets the cold, northeasterly Cape Horn
Current, and with it passes up the coast of Africa to join the
Equatorial Current at the starting-point in the Gulf of Guinea, the
whole constituting a circulatory system of ocean rivers, of speed value
varying from eighteen to ninety miles a day.

On a bright morning in November, 1894, a curious-looking craft floated
into the branch current which, skirting Cuba, flows westward through
the Bahama Channel. A man standing on the highest of two points
enclosing a small bay near Cape Maisi, after a critical examination
through a telescope, disappeared from the rocks, and in a few moments a
light boat, of the model used by whalers, emerged from the mouth of the
bay, containing this man and another. In the boat also was a coil of
rope.

The one who had inspected the craft from the rocks was a tall young
fellow, dressed in flannel shirt and trousers, the latter held in place
by a cartridge-belt, such as is used by the American cowboy. To this
was hung a heavy revolver. On his head was a broad-brimmed cork
helmet, much soiled, and resembling in shape the Mexican sombrero.
Beneath this head-gear was a mass of brown hair, which showed a
non-acquaintance with barbers for, perhaps, months, and under this hair
a sun-tanned face, lighted by serious gray eyes. The most noticeable
feature of this face was the extreme arching of the eyebrows - a
never-failing index of the highest form of courage. It was a face that
would please. The face of the other was equally pleasing in its way.
It was red, round, and jolly, with twinkling eyes, the whole borrowing
a certain dignity from closely cut white hair and mustaches. The man
was about fifty, dressed and armed like the other.

"What do you want of pistols, Boston?" he said to the younger man.
"One might think this an old-fashioned, piratical cutting out."

"Oh, I don't know, Doc. It's best to have them. That hulk may be full
of Spaniards, and the whole thing nothing but a trick to draw us out.
But she looks like a derelict. I don't see how she got into this
channel, unless she drifted up past Cape Maisi from the southward,
having come in with the Guiana Current. It's all rocks and shoals to
the eastward."

The boat, under the impulse of their oars, soon passed the fringing
reef and came in sight of the strange craft, which lay about a mile
east and half a mile off shore. "You see," resumed the younger man,
called Boston, "there's a back-water inside Point Mulas, and if she
gets into it she may come ashore right here."

"Where we can loot her. Nice business for a respectable practitioner
like me to be engaged in! Doctor Bryce, of Havana, consorting with
Fenians from Canada, exiled German socialists, Cuban horse-thieves who
would be hung in a week if they went to Texas, and a long-legged sailor
man who calls himself a retired naval officer, but who looks like a
pirate; and all shouting for _Cuba Libre_! _Cuba Libre_! It's plunder
you want."

"But none of us ever manufactured dynamite," answered Boston, with a
grin. "How long did they have you in Moro Castle, Doc?"

"Eight months," snapped the doctor, his face clouding. "Eight months
in that rathole, with the loss of my property and practice - all for
devotion to science. I was on the brink of the most important and
beneficent discovery in explosives the world ever dreamed of. Yes,
sir, 'twould have made me famous and stopped all warfare."

"The captain told me this morning that he'd heard from Marti," said
Boston, after an interval. "Good news, he said, but that's all I
learned. Maybe it's from Gomez. If he'll only take hold again we can
chase the Spanish off the island now. Then we'll put some of your
stuff under Moro and lift it off the earth."

In a short time, details of the craft ahead, hitherto hidden by
distance, began to show. There was no sign of life aboard; her spars
were gone, with the exception of the foremast, broken at the hounds,
and she seemed to be of about a thousand tons burden, colored a mixed
brown and dingy gray, which, as they drew near, was shown as the action
of iron rust on black and lead-colored paint. Here and there were
outlines of painted ports. Under the stump of a shattered bowsprit
projected from between bluff bows a weather-worn figurehead,
representing the god of the sea. Above on the bows were wooden-stocked
anchors stowed inboard, and aft on the quarters were iron davits with
blocks intact - but no falls. In a few of the dead-eyes in the channels
could be seen frayed rope-yarns, rotten with age, and, with the stump
of the foremast, the wooden stocks of the anchors, and the teak-wood
rail, of a bleached gray color. On the round stern, as they pulled
under it, they spelled, in raised letters, flecked here and there with
discolored gilt, the name "Neptune, of London." Unkempt and forsaken,
she had come in from the mysterious sea to tell her story.

The climbed the channels, fastened the painter, and peered over the
rail. There was no one in sight, and they sprang down, finding
themselves on a deck that was soft and spongy with time and weather.

"She's an old tub," said Boston, scanning the gray fabric fore and aft;
"one of the first iron ships built, I should think. They housed the
crew under the t'gallant forecastle. See the doors forward, there?
And she has a full-decked cabin - that's old style. Hatches are all
battened down, but I doubt if this tarpaulin holds water." He stepped
on the main hatch, brought his weight on the ball of one foot, and
turned around. The canvas crumbled to threads, showing the wood
beneath. "Let's go below. If there were any Spaniards here they'd
have shown themselves before this." The cabin doors were latched but
not locked, and they opened them.

"Hold on," said the doctor, "this cabin may have been closed for years,
and generated poisonous gases. Open that upper door, Boston."

Boston ran up the shaky poop ladder and opened the companion-way above,
which let a stream of the fresh morning air and sunshine into the
cabin, then, after a moment or two, descended and joined the other, who
had entered from the main-deck. They were in an ordinary ship's cabin,
surrounded by staterooms, and with the usual swinging lamp and tray;
but the table, chairs, and floor were covered with fine dust.

"Where the deuce do you get so much dust at sea?" coughed the doctor.

"Nobody knows, Doc. Let's hunt for the manifest and the articles.
This must have been the skipper's room." They entered the largest
stateroom, and Boston opened an old-fashioned desk. Among the
discolored documents it contained, he found one and handed it to the
doctor. "Articles," he said; "look at it." Soon he took out another.
"I've got it. Now we'll find what she has in her hold, and if it's
worth bothering about."

"Great Scott!" exclaimed the doctor; "this paper is dated 1844, fifty
years ago." Boston looked over his shoulder.

"That's so; she signed her crew at Boston, too. Where has she been all
this time? Let's see this one."

The manifest was short, and stated that her cargo was 3000 barrels of
lime, 8000 kids of tallow, and 2500 carboys of acid, 1700 of which were
sulphuric, the rest of nitric acid. "That cargo won't be much good to
us, Doc. I'd hope to find something we could use. Let's find the
log-book, and see what happened to her." Boston rummaged what seemed
to be the first-mate's room. "Plenty of duds here," he said; "but
they're ready to fall to pieces. Here's the log."

He returned with the book, and, seated at the dusty table, they turned
the yellow leaves. "First departure, Highland Light, March 10, 1844,"
read Boston. "We'll look in the remarks column."

Nothing but the ordinary incidents of a voyage were found until they
reached the date June 1st, where entry was made of the ship being
"caught aback" and dismasted off the Cape of Good Hope in a sudden
gale. Then followed daily "remarks" of the southeasterly drift of the
ship, the extreme cold (which, with the continuance of the bad weather,
prevented saving the wreck for jury-masts), and the fact that no sails
were sighted.

June 6th told of her being locked in soft, slushy ice, and still being
pressed southward by the never-ending gale; June 10th said that the ice
was hard, and at June 15th was the terrible entry: "Fire in the hold!"

On June 16th was entered this: "Kept hatches battened down and stopped
all air-holes, but the deck is too hot to stand on, and getting hotter.
Crew insist on lowering the boats and pulling them northward over the
ice to open water in hopes of being picked up. Good-bye." In the
position columns of this date the latitude was given as 62 degrees 44
minutes S. and the longitude as 30 degrees 50 minutes E. There were no
more entries.

"What tragedy docs this tell of?" said the doctor. "They left this
ship in the ice fifty years ago. Who can tell if they were saved?"

"Who indeed?" said Boston. "The mate hadn't much hope. He said
'Good-bye.' But one thing is certain; we are the first to board her
since. I take it she stayed down there in the ice until she drifted
around the Pole, and thawed out where she could catch the Cape Horn
current, which took her up to the Hope. Then she came up with the
South African Current till she got into the Equatorial drift, then
west, and up with the Guiana Current into the Caribbean Sea to the
southward of us, and this morning the flood-tide brought her through.
It isn't a question of winds; they're too variable. It's currents,
though it may have taken her years to get here. But the surprising
part of it is that she hasn't been boarded. Let's look in the hold and
see what the fire has done."

When they boarded the hulk, the sky, with the exception of a filmy haze
overhanging the eastern end of the island, was clear. Now, as they
emerged from the cabin, this haze had solidified and was coming - one of
the black and vicious squalls of the West India seas.

"No man can tell what wind there is in them," remarked Boston, as he
viewed it. "But it's pretty close to the water, and dropping rain.
Hold on, there, Doc. Stay aboard. We couldn't pull ashore in the
teeth of it." The doctor had made a spasmodic leap to the rail. "If
the chains were shackled on, we might drop one of the hooks and hold
her; but it's two hours work for a full crew."

"But we're likely to be blown away, aren't we?" asked the doctor.

"Not far. I don't think it'll last long. We'll make the boat fast
astern and get out of the wet." They did so, and entered the cabin.
Soon the squall, coming with a shock like that of a solid blow, struck
the hulk broadside to and careened her. From the cabin door they
watched the nearly horizontal rain as it swished across the deck, and
listened to the screaming of the wind, which prevented all
conversation. Silently they waited - one hour - two hours - then Boston
said: "This is getting serious. It's no squall. If it wasn't so late
in the season I'd call it a hurricane. I'm going on deck."

He climbed the companionway stairs to the poop, and shut the scuttle
behind him - for the rain was flooding the cabin - then looked around.
The shore and horizon were hidden by a dense wall of gray, which seemed
not a hundred feet distant. From to windward this wall was detaching
great waves or sheets of almost solid water, which bombarded the ship
in successive blows, to be then lost in the gray whirl to leeward.
Overhead was the same dismal hue, marked by hurrying masses of darker
cloud, and below was a sea of froth, white and flat; for no waves could
rise their heads in that wind. Drenched to the skin, he tried the
wheel and found it free in its movements. In front of it was a
substantial binnacle, and within a compass, which, though sluggish, as
from a well-worn pivot, was practically in good condition. "Blowing us
about nor'west by west," he muttered, as he looked at it - "straight up
the coast. It's better than the beach in this weather, but may land us
in Havana." He examined he boat. It was full of water, and tailing to
windward, held by its painter. Making sure that this was fast, he went
down.

"Doc," he said, as he squeezed the water from his limp cork helmet and
flattened it on the table, "have you any objections to being rescued by
some craft going into Havana?"

"I have - decided objections."

"So have I; but this wind is blowing us there - sideways. Now, such a
blow as this, at this time of year, will last three days at least, and
I've an idea that it'll haul gradually to the south, and west towards
the end of it. Where'll we be then? Either piled up on one of the
Bahama keys or interviewed by the Spaniards. Now I've been thinking of
a scheme on deck. We can't get back to camp for a while - that's
settled. This iron hull is worth something, and if we can take it into
an American port we can claim salvage. Key West is the nearest, but
Fernandina is the surest. We've got a stump of a foremast and a rudder
and a compass. If we can get some kind of sail up forward and bring
her 'fore the wind, we can steer any course within thirty degrees of
the wind line."

"But I can't steer. And how long will this voyage take? What will we
eat?"

"Yes, you can steer - good enough. And, of course, it depends on food,
and water, too. We'd better catch some of this that's going to waste."

In what had been the steward's storeroom they found a harness-cask with
bones and dry rust in the bottom. "It's salt meat, I suppose," said
the doctor, "reduced to its elements." With the handles of their
pistols they carefully hammered down the rusty hoops over the shrunken
staves, which were well preserved by the brine they had once held, and
taking the cask on deck, cleaned it thoroughly under the scuppers - or
drain-holes - of the poop, and let it stand under the stream of water to
swell and sweeten itself.

"If we find more casks we'll catch some more," said Boston; "but that
will last us two weeks. Now we'll hunt for her stores. I've eaten
salt-horse twenty years old, but I can't vouch for what we may find
here." They examined all the rooms adjacent to the cabin, but found
nothing.

"Where's the lazarette in this kind of a ship?" asked Boston. "The
cabin runs right aft to the stern. It must be below us." He found
that the carpet was not tacked to the floor, and, raising the after
end, discovered a hatch, or trap-door, which he lifted. Below, when
their eyes were accustomed to the darkness, they saw boxes and
barrels - all covered with the same fine dust which filled the cabin.

"Don't go down there, yet, Boston," said the doctor. "It may be full
of carbonic acid gas. She's been afire, you know. Wait." He tore a
strip from some bedding in one of the rooms, and, lighting one end by
means of a flint and steel which he carried, lowered the smouldering
rag until it rested on the pile below. It did not go out.

"Safe enough, Boston," he remarked. "But you go down; you're younger."

Boston smiled and sprang down on the pile, from which he passed up a
box. "Looks like tinned stuff, Doc. Open it, and I'll look over here."

The doctor smashed the box with his foot, and found, as the other had
thought, that it contained cylindrical cans; but the labels were faded
with age. Opening one with his jack-knife, he tasted the contents. It
was a mixture of meat and a fluid, called by sailors "soup-and-bully,"
and as fresh and sweet as though canned the day before.

"We're all right, Boston," he called down the hatch. "Here's as good a
dish as I've tasted for months. Ready cooked, too."

Boston soon appeared. "There are some beef or pork barrels over in the
wing," he said, "and plenty of this canned stuff. I don't know what
good the salt meat is. The barrels seem tight, but we won't need to
broach one for a while. There's a bag of coffee - gone to dust, and
some hard bread that isn't fit to eat; but this'll do." He picked up
the open can.

"Boston," said the doctor, "if those barrels contain meat, we'll find
it cooked - boiled in its own brine, like this."

"Isn't it strange," said Boston, as he tasted the contents of the can,
"that this stuff should keep so long?"

"Not at all. It was cooked thoroughly by the heat, and then frozen.
If your barrels haven't burst from the expansion of the brine under the
heat or cold, you'll find the meat just as good."

"But rather salty, if I'm a judge of salt-horse. Now, where's the
sail-locker? We want a sail on that foremast. It must be forward."

In the forecastle they found sailor's chests and clothing in all stages
of ruin, but none of the spare sails that ships carry. In the
boatswain's locker, in one corner of the forecastle, however, they
found some iron-strapped blocks in fairly good condition, which Boston
noted. Then they opened the main-hatch, and discovered a mixed pile of
boxes, some showing protruding necks of large bottles, or carboys,
others nothing but the circular opening. Here and there in the tangled
heap were sections of canvas sails - rolled and unrolled, but all yellow
and worthless. They closed the hatch and returned to the cabin, where
they could converse.

"They stowed their spare canvas in the 'tween-deck on top of the
cargo," said Boston; "and the carboys - "

"And the carboys burst from the heat and ruined the sails," broke in
the doctor. "But another question is, what became of that acid?"

"If it's not in the 'tween-deck yet, it must be in the hold - leaked
through the hatches."

"I hope it hasn't reached the iron in the hull, Boston, my boy. It
takes a long time for cold acids to act on iron after the first
oxidation, but in fifty years mixed nitric and sulphuric will do lots
of work."

"No fear, Doc; it had done its work when you were in your cradle.
What'll we do for canvas? We must get this craft before the wind.
How'll the carpet do?" Boston lifted the edge, and tried the fabric in
his fingers. "It'll go," he said; "we'll double it. I'll hunt for a
palm-and-needle and some twine." These articles he found in the mate's
room. "The twine's no better than yarn," said he, "but we'll use four
parts."

Together they doubled the carpet diagonally, and with long stitches
joined the edges. Then Boston sewed into each corner a thimble - an
iron ring - and they had a triangular sail of about twelve feet hoist.
"It hasn't been exposed to the action of the air like the ropes in the
locker forward," said Boston, as he arose and took off the palm; "and
perhaps it'll last till she pays off. Then we can steer. You get the
big pulley-blocks from the locker, Doc, and I'll get the rope from the
boat. It's lucky I thought to bring it; I expected to lift things out
of the hold with it."

At the risk of his life Boston obtained the coil from the boat, while
the doctor brought the blocks. Then, together, they rove off a tackle.
With the handles of their pistols they knocked bunk-boards to pieces
and saved the nails; then Boston climbed the foremast, as a painter


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