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as a sailor," said the young lady, a slight but well-
made brunette with very large and expressive black
eyes. "You needn't give yourself the least uneasi-
ness, Miss Stevens. Besides, we are going ashore now
in a few moments."

"Can can you swim?" asked the lady addressed,

"A little, and Mr. Loring can and Billy can't you,
Billy ? If we get tipped over there are people all about
who would rush to our rescue. A little adventure
would only add to the romance of the sail."

"Don't joke about it ! " was the nervous rejoinder.
"I think none of us wants to risk death."

"Why, aren't you prepared ! " asked the young man
who had been designated as "Billy;" at which Miss
Stevens only looked more worried than ever.

So occupied was the party with this debate that none
of them saw until it was too late an actual danger that
threatened them. A tug which had been hidden by a
large vessel was bearing down upon them with velocity.
Even Carl Meyer, who had been listening with some
amusement to the conversation, did not notice the tug
until it liad become a source of peril to the little sloop.
He perceived it, however, a second before the yacht-
ing party did, and uttered a cry at the top of his voice,
which was heard by the steersman of the tug and the
skipper of the sloop at the same moment.

It was now too late to prevent the impending crash.
Mr. Loring, thoroughly aroused to his danger, did his
utmost to keep his slight craft out of the path of the
coming monster, but to no purpose. Though a direct


collision was avoided, the tug struck the side of the
sailboat just at the sternsheets and threw it violent-
ly over. In a second all of its passengers were flound*
ering in the water and none of them found it quite as
amusing as the recent discussion might have led them
to suppose.

Probably there never was much danger that any
of the wrecked people would actually drown. The
men on the tug hastened to bring it into position to
assist them. Another sailboat that was but a few hun-
dred feet away, and had thought a sufficient distance
for safety allowed between the sloop and the tug, bore
down toward the struggling ones. Quicker than any
of the others, Carl Meyer, as good a swimmer as ever
traversed the blue waters of San Francisco Bay, pulled
his skiff with rapid movements to where the brunette
beauty had sunk; and, springing over the side, he
caught her as she came up after going down but once.

The young lady had not lost her presence of mind, al-
though she was naturally much startled. She caught
a long breath as she felt a strong arm encircle her
waist, and then let her head rest peacefully on a broad
shoulder to which the arm belonged. Feeling the
strength with which she was supported she speedily
came to the conclusion that she was as safe as if on
land, though it must be admitted she was hardly as

Something which may best be described as a species
of inertia prevented her struggling to escape the clasp
of this total stranger or even of making the least in-
quiry as to her late fellow passengers. Presently she


felt herself lifted aboard the steam tug, where to her
partly benumbed senses there came words which
showed that her friends were also safe. And it was
then, when there was no longer the slightest danger to
anybody, that she did the distinctly feminine thing and
lost consciousness.

As soon as Carl had relinquished his pretty burden
to the outstretched hands awaiting her, he took up his
oars and pulled hastily for the shore. He wanted to
escape the infliction of thanks, which he supposed
would be showered upon him for doing a simple act
of duty. In the excitement his escape was not noticed
at first and then the rescued people were too busy
congratulating themselves on the safe ending of their
mishap to dwell long on his part in the affair.

"I wish that fellow had waited, Amy," was the only
remark about him at the time, and this by Brother
Billy. "I would have liked to give him something




As he rowed back to the place where he had hired his
skiff Carl thought of little in connection with this ad-
venture except that he was very wet and rather chilly.
Or at least if he had other thoughts he was not at first
conscious of them. The substratum of special interest
in the fair creature he had rescued did not make it-
self immediately apparent to his somewhat slow intel-

He had a methodical habit of doing things in a
regular order of rotation. When he saw a young lady
sinking in the water it was the natural thing to dive
after and bring her to a place of safety. This finished,
it was equally natural to row without delay in the di-
rection of dry clothing and a hot bath.

His landlord was much surprised when he saw his
guest alight from a cab, which by some miracle Carl
had discovered near the boat landing. As a general
thing cabs are not obtainable in San Francisco during
the daytime without ordering them from a stable. The
young man's drenched condition aroused the land-
lord's curiosity, but Carl passed him with a mere nod
and went to his room, as if he was in the habit of swim-
ming in the Bay fully dressed, every afternoon of his


Disrobing as speedily as possible he got into a tub
of hot water. Then he rubbed himself briskly with a
rough towel, to bring back the full measure of his
natural circulation, and habited himself in dry gar-
ments throughout. Calling a servant he sent his wet
clothing to be dried and pressed, after which he lit a
pipe and puffed meditatively.

Naturally the experience through which he had just
passed was the theme that filled his brain. The young
lady he had rescued was decidedly pretty. His mind
lingered over the lines of her face, as he remembered
them. He saw again her dark eyes, filled with innocent
fun as she chattered over the possibility of a danger she
little thought so near ; then charged with a wild alarm,
as the tug bore down upon the frail craft on which
she rode; then closed, as her head lay quite still on
4he shoulder of her rescuer.

Carl's breath came more quickly as he scented again
the ambrosia of the mouth that had been pressed
against his cheek. The pulsations of her heart had
struck through to the hand that clasped her gown and
he felt it still tingling.

For some seconds he had held her as closely as \1
she were his accepted sweetheart ; then other hands
had snatched her from him; and he had awakened
roughly from his di earn not even half f ormed j and that
was, and was to be, the end of it all.

It came into his mind disagreeably that it was not
merely because he was cold and wet that he had made
h : s hastv exit from the scene of his exploit that
there were stronger reasons why he had wished to es-


cape unnoticed, without giving his name or inquiring
hers. A few months ago, when his prospects were wide-
ly different, when he had a rich adopted father and
could hold up his head in any society, he would certain-
ly have introduced himself to the friends of the girl he
had saved and begged them to send him word how she
came out of the accident.

Today he was a pauper. Those people were of an-
other rank. Had he overheard the suggestion of one
of the party that he could have something in a pecuni-
ary way he would not have been surprised. It was a
perfectly natural thought.

Slowly he pulled away at his meerschaum. Tobacco
can yield some comfort in most disagreeable situa-

A knock on his door aroused him. Presuming that
it was one of the hotel people he called, "Come in!"
but arose with an apology when he discovered his
error. The caller was a fellow of about his own age,
who roomed in the house, and with whom he had pass-
ed a few words at the dinner table. They had ex-
changed cards and he knew that the name of his visitor
was Sumner Barney.

"I hope I don't interrupt you," said Barney, good-
naturedly, "but I heard you came home soaked and
my curiosity got the better of me. Would you mind
telling how it happened?"

"Not at all."

Rather glad to have someone to talk to, Carl related
th particulars of the incident, while the other listened
with undisguised interest.


"What was the young lady's name ?" asked Barney,
when the brief tale came to an end.

"I haven't the least idea."

"You didn't ask!"

"No, I was glad enough to hurry home and get into
something dry. Her friends were abundantly able to
take care of her."

The visitor whistled, "Send me a kiss by wire-
Baby, my heart's on fire," and then paused abruptly,

"You're not very romantic," he said, with a laugh.
"But to tell the truth your adventure wasn't original.
The story papers wouldn't give a fiver for it. Young
and pretty girls she was pretty, of course?"

Carl's disturbed face was his only answer.

"Young and pretty girls have been rescued from
drowning in half the novels ever written. Why
couldn't you have dragged her from in front of an
automobile even locomotives are done to death. I'm
trying to make a hit in the short story line and had
great hopes this was something I could use. Just pull-
ing a beauty out of the Bay wouldn't buy the ink it
would cost to write it up."

The ridiculousness of the idea finally forced itself
through the young German's brain and a smile came
to his features.

"I am sorry it wasn't an automobile, for your sake,"
said he. "Besides, that would have been more com-
fortable for me than icewater. I only hope the lady
won't get an illness from the effects of her ducking."

Mr. Barney reluctantly bade farewell to his hopes of
a romance and resumed his pumping operations in an-
other direction.


"I suppose you're looking for a business opening?"
he suggested.

"No, I'm looking for a friend who has disappeared."

"Ah ! " Barney brightened up again. "That's more
in my line. A mystery, eh?" (He got out a notebook.)
"Is it anything I could use for a magazine I beg
your pardon, I hope I don't seem inquisitive. Have
you tried the detective agencies ? No ! I'm well ac-
quainted with Maple & Pyne, the best people around
here, and I will introduce you to them with pleasure."

This interested Carl, but at the very moment he
started to catch at the straw held out he remembered
that he lacked the first essential to make use of it

"No, I thank you," he answered. "I'm afraid they
couldn't help me. I've got no money to use in that

"Let's hear the story," exclaimed the breezy Mr.
Barney. "I might use it in one of the evening papers
I mean, perhaps I might be of service to you in some
way you may command me, I'm sure," he rattled on.
"I've lots of time on my hands and I'd be glad to
put it at your disposal."

Slowly the main points came out. It seemed to Carl
that there could be no harm in setting another brain
to work on >his problem, where help was so necessary
and so hard to obtain.

The strange cessation of correspondence and the dis-
appearance of Mr. Meyer and his friend interested
Barney very much. He murmured several times that
it was "most extraordinary," and at the close of the


recital declared with enthusiasm that he would start
a serial on it at once if he only knew how it would

"Have you tried the steamboat people ?" he asked, as
if thinking hard.

"Every one."

"You're sure he hasn't gone back to St. Louis ?"

"I left word to have a dispatch sent in case they re-
ceived any news, and I've heard nothing."

"You've notified the police here?"

"Why, no," said Carl, astonished at the suggestion.

"Then you must do so at once ! " cried Barney, ex-
citedly. "It's more than likely your friend is being held
for a ransom."

"Mr. Lindes was with him and in that case would
have appealed to the authorities long ago."

"But supposing a gang of thugs had got them
both?" Barney suggested, as if overjoyed with the
idea. "Perhaps they've been murdered ! " he added,
cheerfully. "Did they carry much money about them ?"

The idea of assassination, which brought to Barney
merely the prospect of a striking plot, sent a cold
shiver down his companion's spine. He could hardly
speak for emotion as he contemplated the terrible pos-

It was clear to him now that he ought to communi-
cate with the police that he should have done so long
before. He regretted bitterly his lack of means to
prosecute this search and began to dread the discover-
ies that such an investigation might reveal. However
he agreed at once to the suggestion of his new ac-


quaintance, an'd, as Barney was the originator of the
idea, put himself unreservedly in his hands,

"The first thing we'd better do," said Barney, "is
to go to Maple & Pyne's office. I'll have a talk with
one of the firm and see if they'll undertake the job on
chances. You say you've got no money to spare, but
if Mr. Meyer is found they'll come out all right. They're
worth all the police departments in the state. Your
man will be discovered, if he's above ground, as sure
as you put these fellows on the scent."

"How can I thank you?" asked Carl, as they took
their way toward the office in question.

"I don't want any thanks. All I ask is that you
let me use the plot. Why, it will be a regular god-
send ! "

Mr. Howard Pyne was in his office, though the
evening shadows had fallen and his usual hour for
closing had passed. He nodded familiarly to Barney
and bowed with more* dignity to Carl. In the sober
attitude of the latter he scented a case. And when
Mr. Pyne scented a case his every faculty was roused
to the utmost.

Without delay Barney outlined the history of Mey-
er's disappearance from St. Louis, as he had just learn-
ed it. Before he paused for breath he had presented
the wihole situation the impecuniosity of the applicant
who accompanied him and the certainty that sufficient
means to pay for the work would follow its success-
ful completion. Mr. Pyne kept his eyes fixed on a
sheet of paper that lay on his desk and never moved a
muscle till the voluble talker came to a full stop.


"He was going to the police headquarters but I per-
suaded him to come to you," were Barney's closing

Then Mr. Pyne looked up. He was a man of forty,
with a clean-cut face and particularly bright eyes.

"What is the name of the missing gentleman?" he
asked. And with that word "gentleman" Mr. Barney
knew he had succeeded. Otherwise Pyne would have
referred to the missing "man."

"Peter Meyer," said Carl, his voice shaking a little.

The fear that some of Barney's lugubrious prognosti-
cations might come true were troubling him.

"Pe-ter Mey-er," repeated Mr. Pyne, writing the
name slowly on the paper before him. "Of St. Louis ?"

"Yes, sir."

"Describe him as accurately as you can."

The description was given, to the minutest detail.
Mr. Pyne made careful notes, using shorthand, iii
which he was proficient.

"You may return tomorrow morning," he said,
quietly, when this task was ended. And 'he added in a
tone that was meant especially to impress Mr. Barney,,

"I trust you will begin your search without delay,"
said Carl, anxiously.

"I must study the case first. It does not do to leap
before we look in such a matter as this."

"You don't think he has been murdered?" asked
Carl, huskily.

"No, I think we shall find him and his friend alive.
Make your mind as easy as you can. We may need
your assistance and you must keep a cool head."


Carl's head was anything but cool. He had half ex-
pected that the detective would produce Mr. Meyer
from some mysterious hidden recess. Pyne's calm
manner disconcerted and distressed him. There was
nothing to be done, however, and after uttering his
thanks for the interview, Carl took his leave with
Mr. Barney;

"You see he means to freeze me out," were Barney's
first words when they were again upon the street.
"I've got to rely on you to let me dish the thing up
when it's over. It ought to make a full-sized romance.
I intended at first to offer it to Short Stories, but noth-
ing less than the Century will do if it comes out as
I expect. Say, you'll deal square with me ?" he added,

Carl hastened to assure him on that point. "You
heard Mr. Pyne say he didn't believe he was dead,"
he added, joyfully.

"Neither do I. He's held for ransom, you may be
sure. Forty chapters at least! Ta-ra-ra! Of course
I shan't use real names, but the plot will be splendid,
Boorn-de-ay! Old, rich, feeble, held by thugs! I
wish you'd do something about that pretty girl, though.
It wasn't exactly new, the way you rescued her, but it
might work in with the history of the crime. By
Jove ! " he added, effusively, "you must hunt her up,
if only out of gratitude to me.'*




THE sleep which came that nigtrt to the eyes of our
young hero (as we might as well begin to call him)'
was much disturbed. Now that he had begun to
entertain apprehensions regarding a real danger to
his friend and patron he wanted each move made
as quickly as possible. He felt a sort of guilt be-
cause he had delayed to start inquiries by trained
experts a month ago; news of the lost ones might
have been obtained before this and who could say
how important a single hour might be ?

Nothing in Carl's previous career fitted him in the
least to meet such an emergency. He knew of course
that Mr. Meyer was old and feeble, and that he often
carried money enough on his person to tempt die cu-
pidity of thieves, but such things as abduction and
murder belonged to spheres of life about which he had
only a very remote conception. When he had puzzled
over his "uncle's" strange silence the fact that the
stronger and well-contained Lindes was with him had
prevented all fears of that nature.

He even began to hope, sadly enough, that the real
explanation would be found in Mr. Uhrig's hint that
Peter intended to abandon him and had taken this
strange method of doing it Even that would be better


t.han these horrible possibilities regarding the old gen-
tleman's personal safety.

There were several facts that could not be disguted.
Meyer had not written to Carl or any other of his
closest friends for six or seven weeks. He had dis-
appeared as if my magic. It was the duty of one who
had been treated so long like an adopted son to follow
every clue until he learned the truth. The introduction
to the firm of Maple & Pyne seemed like a piece of
special Providence. Those wise unravellers of tangled
skeins would surely find some solution to the puzzle.

While preserving his unruffled exterior, Mr. Pyne
didsa great deal of thinking during the evening follow-
ing Carl's call at his office. It was often said of his
firm that Pyne's part of the business called for the
most thought, while Maple's demanded the most act-
ion. Pyne's closest friends often asserted that he
could study out a case in his sleep; and it did fre-
quently happen that an affair which puzzled him when
he dropped off to slumber came out clear and plain
when he awoke from a rest that had been absolutely

It was while dressing, on the morning following his
introduction to the reader, that Howard Pyne remark-
ed to himself, in the solitude of his chamber, that his
agency was in a fair way to make a good thing. And
when Howard Pyne got this far he generally had a
pretty clear idea of what he was talking about.

While sipping his coffee, in dressing-gown and slip-
pers, he had the morning paper brought to him. He
glanced over its columns rapidly, with the trained eye


of an expert, pausing occasionally for a second or two
at some piece of news. Suddenly he chanced upon one
which caused even his steady head to vibrate. He
caught his breath several times as he read and re-read
the paragraphs that riveted his attention.

Putting down the paper at last, he rang for hot
water and proceeded leisurely to shave himself. When
this was done 'he wrote a brief note to his partner, ask-
ing him to call on him before going to the office.

Mr. Pyne had never known the "shaving test" to
fail. He did not wish Mr. Maple to see that he had un-
dergone the least trace of excitement. The dexterous
manipulation of the razor showed that he could appear
as calm as an iceberg, notwithstanding the tempta-
tion to show nervousness.

The reason why he had sent for his partner was
that he wished to consult with him alone and knew
that Carl would be certain to put in an early appear-
ance at the office. When Mr. Maple appeared he did
not look in the least like the Hawkshaw dear to the
readers of fiction. He was, on the contrary, apparently
an everyday sort of mam, who might have been a
grocer or drygoods dealer. He seemed a combina-
tion of earnestness and taciturnity ; the embodiment of
force, 'but of the quietest kind. When he was admit-
ted he did not evince the least curiosity as to why he
had been summoned. He merely uttered a conven-
tional good-morning, and took a seat.

"It's aibout iihat affair of Peter Meyer's," said Pyne,
speaking with directness. "The nephew was in to
see me last night/'


Mr. Maple listened, but made no remark.

"He's been hunting for the old man, in the natural
channels, and had an idea that he'd been abducted or
murdered. I'm going to take the case on speculation.
Have you seen the morning papers ?"

Mr. Maple shook his head.

"Well, listen to this:" (He read aloud:)

An aoddent occurred in the Bay yesterday after-
noon, which happily resulted in noifliing worse than a
scare and wetting for a party of yachting people. A
sloop containing Mr. William Van Steuben, Miss Van
Steuben, Miss Stevens and Mr. S. Loring was run
doswn not far from tihe Ferry House by the tug
''Lucky Baldwin," through what seems to hJave been
aflmoist criminal carelessness. All the people men-
tioned were thrown inlto tihe water, but were luckily
rescued by the tug and a young man Whose name has
not been ascertained. The Van Steubens are of the
family well-known in Honolulu and Miss Van Steuben
recently graduated from Miss Williamson's school on
the Heights.

Mr. Maple listened attentively enough, but his face
gave no sign that he found the paragraph particularly

"Well?" he remarked at last, interrogatively.

"Just this. The young man's name has been as-
certainedby me. And he is the nephew of his long-
lost uncle."

"Queer," was the quiet remark of the other man.

"It would be, in any business but ours. Now, I
should say this young man, Carl, had best be left to
me to manage."


"As you please. How is he off for funds ?"

"Pretty short."

"And you'll let him get a little shorter?"

"Naturally." Mr. Pyne's inexpressive face soften-
ed into something almost like a smile.

"Is there anything else," asked Mr. Maple.

"No. I only suggest that the boy had better not
see you around the office. If you can come an hour or
two late for the present I will get rid of him before
you arrive."

No reply was needed to this and Mr. Maple took
his leave as silently as he had made his appearance.
An hour later when Mr. Pyne entered his business
rooms he found Carl there, as he expected. The young
man looked the eager inquiry that was in his mind.

"You had quite an adventure yesterday," said Pyne.

"A very slight one. But about Mr. Meyer? Have
you learned anything?"

"I think I can assure you that he is alive and safe."

"Where?" asked Carl, breathless.

"It may tike several days before I can answer that

A dis pnointed look filled the anxious eyes.

''Have you formed any theory as to his strange sil~
ence other than" (the questioner spoke hoarsely) "the
one you advanced yesterday?"

Mr. Pyne nodded, like a man to whom all secrets
were onen.

"That^ ju=t wtat I have done, though I can bring
as yet n^ absolute proof. I think he has gone insane."

Carl uttered a quick exclamation of dismay.


"That would not account for Mr. Lindes Disap-
pearing also," 'he suggested.

" Yes, it would. At present I do not care to say
too much in relation to the matter. I have set in-
vestigations on foot which will reveal 'something in
a few days. Till then I must ask you to have patience."

A few days may not seem long in ordinary matters,
but the time was likely to be wearisome enough at

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Online LibraryAlbert RossA sugar princess → online text (page 3 of 19)