Albert Ross.

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looking as if they had come out of some prehistoric
ark. Neither of the Van Steubens were in sight and
there was no other passengers to whom Carl felt
obliged to say good-by.

It seemed as if the diminutive engine would never be
set in motion, nor would get anywhere when its wheels
did begin slowly to revolve. A time-table is not im-
portant in a country with only one short piece of track.
Carl's nervous anxiety was intense, but there was noth-
ing to do but await the deliberate movements of the


concern. When it arrived eventually alt a place
called Union Mills (though why it bore that name was
not apparent) a crazy old carriage was found in readi-
ness to take people to "The Club" a mile and a half
further on; The Club being, it appeared, the name of
a hotel kept by a Japanese named Sakai, but more gen-
erally called "Jim." A Honolulu dentist, wtho was to
locate at The Club for a few weeks, with the intention
of pulling the teeth and the legs of the inhabitants
simultaneously (to use Che cheerful phrase of one of
the men on the Kinau) entered the carriage with Carl

Although almost sure he would find Mr. Meyer and
Mr. Lindes at Sakai's, Carl had been disappointed too
often to feel much surprise when he learned that they
had departed on the previous day. The eruption at
the volcano had interested them and they had an-
nounced their intention of starting immediately for the
Volcano House. "Jim" said there was a commercial
traveler in the neighborhood who was going on the
following day to Waiamea, and Carl could doubtless
make arrangements with him for the journey.

The traveler turned up in the evening and readily
agreed to share his vehicle and expenses to the point
suggested. But -when they reached Waiamea Carl
found he was again too late. The sought-for travelers
had spent a night at Akona's, and driven on early the
next morning.

As the team with Which Carl had made the journey
had been hired by the commercial man, and no oilier
could be easily obtained, he was obliged to content him-
self with the latter's slow movements. He was given a


room in a small cottage some distance up the street,
which Akona was using as an annex to his hotel, and
which was very comfortable and inviting. Most of the
cottage was reserved on this particular night for some
court officials, who were to pass through on their way
to the opening of a session some distance further on.

When the party arrived Carl experienced tihe honor
of dining with a live Judge, though he might easily
have been mistaken in his traveling clothes for a fire-
man. The stenographer of the Court, a young Irish-
man of bright wit and musical tastes, usually referred
to by his companions as the "Minnah Bird," for some
occult reason, tihe clerk, and one or two lawyers com-
pleted the party. They proved on the whole very
agreeable and had Carl not been oppressed by his
troubles he could have passed a delightful evening
with them.




MUCH of the conversation at the cottage had refer-
ence to the outbreak of the Volcano. It seemed that
the inhabitants of the island were much excited over
the eruption. All sorts of rumors were in circulation
as to its direction and the distance it had covered. One
story indicated that the flow had already traversed t!he
distance between mountain and sea and cut off all
communication with Hilo by a river of liquid fire.

There was nothing for it but to push on tlhe next
morning and find out. Carl readied Honokaa at noon,
where he had the good fortune to meet a sheriff w*ho
had just come from Hilo and told him flhe road was
still open in that direction. At Lapahbehoe he ex-
changed his seat in the carriage for a saddle horse and
after a difficult ride reached Hilo late at night. At tihe
hotel he was not surprised to learn that Fischer and
Swartz had gone already to the Volcano House, as had
almost everybody else who was able to do so.

Another restless night followed for our young friend.
He drew consolation, however, from the belief that
another day would surely bring him to the end of his
journey. At eight o'clock in the morning he mounted
to his place on the stage wagon and tried to take an
interest in the beautiful road that led, slowly rising, to


the heights beyond. It was a remarkable highway in
many respects, being so perfectly graded that a
bicyclist of average powers could climb the entire dis-
tance of thirty-five miles without dismounting, and ride
without touching pedals back to Hilo at a rapid and not
dangerous pace.

The views of mountain and sea were delightful, and
the air, straight from the hills, most refreshing. All
the other excursionists were in a state of high glee,
exchanging witty remarks, in which for obvious rea-
sons Carl did not join. It was evening when they ar-
rived at their destination, a long stop having been made
at noon. Springing from the vehicle Carl lost no time
in asking for the proprietor and propounding the ques-
tion that trembled on his lips.

It turned out that the proprietor knew rather less
about his guests than one of the wooden posts on the
veranda, but his wife, a half-white woman of intelli-
gent appearance, said the gentlemen had departed very
early that morning with a party for the scene of the
flow. She addeld, in response to further inquiries, that
Mr. Fischer seemed quite weak. She had done her best
to dissuade him from going, but he had paid no atten-
tion to her advice.

Carl felt now that he had tracked the men dotwn and
that if he remained at this post they could not pass
without his knowledge. He ate a light dinner which
was not difficult at that table and retired to a dark
corner of the veranda to meditate. It was nearly ten
o'clock when he heard a step approaching, scad looked
up to meet the eyes of Marcus Lindes.


There was something in the expression of those eyes
that froze the words whidh sprang to the younger
man's lips. Lindes was haggard, as if from a severe
mental strain. For some seconds he did not speak.
Then, throwing himself on the floor, he ejaculated,
"Oh, Carl, Carl!" in a way that sent terror into tihe
breast of his astounded listener.

Carl ro>se, his lips set, his teeth grinding, He did not
know what to fear, but his heart throbbed violently.

"Where is Peter Meyer ?" he demanded.

"Oh, Carl ! He wouldn't have gone if it hadn't been
for me !" Marcus groaned. "Adh, Gott !"

The strong young hands grasped the coat collar of
$he kneeling figure and the trembling form was pulled
to its feet as if it had been of a feather's weigfot.
"Where is Peter Meyer?" repeated Carl. "Answer!"

A shiver passed over Lindes' body. He had no
strength to keep his erect position, now that he had
been raised to it. "He fs DEAD !" he whispered, in a
horror-stricken voice, and collapsed entirely.

Carl released the man so suddenly that he fell to his
knees. Stepping back he raised his clenched fist and
had half allowed it to descend when he controlled him-
self. Before he struck this man into insensibility he
must hear some explanation of his dreadful message.

A word at a time it came out. The party that had
gone to the lava floiw had readhed its destination.
Peter insisted on being among the foremost to inspect
the great wonder. Old and weak though he was, BO
one could restrain him. All the travelers tied their
animals and moved forward in small parties. Sudden-


ly a gust of sulphur fumes rose about Meyer and
Lindes. For some moments the narrator foug'ht for
his life, covering his mouth and nostrils with his
handkerchief and trying to grope blindly toward a
place of safety. The density of the fumes was so
'great that he could see nothing, nor could he call out
without danger of immediate aspliyxiation. Hi's hope
was to reach a spot of comparative safety and then get
his companions to go to Peter's assistance. Alt last tihe
wind changed, the smoke lifted, he could see for a
short distance about him, and breathe with more free-
dom. But, though he looked in all directions, and cried
loudly, Meyer had entirely disappeared.

"And you left him to die while you saved your
worthless self !" muttered Carl between his teeth.

"Aoh, Himmel! the others came, we searched in
every direction, but it was of no use. The lava crust
was thin oh, Carl! I cannot bear it! He was my
friend of forty years, and / brought him to this I, I,
I did it!"

Lindes rocked to and fro, sobbing like a child.

"What do you mean?" demanded tihe icy voice of
his companion.

"A minute, a minute ; let me get a little strength . .
. . I wish to keep back nothing. I am guilty, before

God and man You shall hear all. It was I who

pursuaded him to come out here and not to write you.
Yes, Gott forgive me ! Why did I do it ? Just to satis-
fy my contrary nature. He had been boasting of his
faith in you, and I told him to put you to t?he proof. . . .
We came to Hawaii and then to this damnable place. .


. . .And in a few days more he would have been your
dear friend of the old time, for he knew how faithfully
you had followed him, how you had refused to accept

Ulirig's money, he knew all ! Had he found you

here, that would have been an end of the trial He

loved you with every drop of blood in his noble old
heart ! And now "

The speaker broke completely down, sobbing wildly.

Carl Muller's brain had always worked slowly and
just now it was under a terrific strain. He saw only
that this crouching figure 'had led his dearly loved
friend to death. The contrition which Lindes exhibited
was an insignificant matter compared with his crime.
Carl tfhrew the kneeling figure prostrate and bent over
it. His fingers began to twine themselves around tihe
trembling throat. This creature had murdered good
Peter Meyer. Why should he not pay the penalty?

The bright laug>h of a young girl broke the spell.
On the other side of the house a party of sightseers
who had recently arrived in a private carriage, were
enjoying the cool air in each other's society, quite
oblivious of the tragedy that was so near being enacted
within a hundred feet of them. Carl knew Who h'ad
uttered that laugh. He knew also the voices that soon
joined hers, those of her mother and brother. The
diversion aroused him to the knowledge that he had
been about to repay a dastardly act by one still more
reprehensible. He rose instantly and walked twenty
steps to regain his senses.

"By your own admission you are responsible for the
death of my best friend," he said in a low voice, when


he returned to Lindes' side. "For a momettt I was
about to render you the punishment you deserve. Go
to your bed and sleep, if your conscience will permit
you; and tomorrow at daylight start with me to tihe
place where Peter Meyer was last seen, that I may,
if God wills, give his bones a Christian burial I"

Lindes, overcome with emotion, tried to grasp the
young man's hand, but Carl folded his arms rigidly
and, turning away, staggered to his room.

The happy party of which Miss Van Steuben was
one had been increased by several late arrivals. Their
gaiety jarred on the mourner as the sounds were
wafted to his open window over their heads. He sat
down and buried his face in his hands, nearly pros-
trated in his bereavement. To be so near to his friend
to learn that there had been no real intention to dis-
card him, that it was all the work of a senseless mis-
chiefmaker! And then to hear in the same breath
that the eyes into which he would so soon have looked
with the old love were forever closed! It was over-
whelming. Carl could not remember when he had
last shed a tear, but his hands were now wet with the
torrent streaming from his aoihing lids.

He did not think of going to bed, for he knew no
sleep was likely to come to him.

"Oh, don't tell me any more!" he heard Mrs. Van
Steuben exclaim, after an interval of comparative quiet
"It's the most dreadful thing I ever heard of. I hope
it will satisfy you, William," she added impressively,
44 and that you won't think of going an inch further
toward that awful Volcano."


""lit is terrible indeed P assented Miss Amy. "How
did you hear_of it, Billy?"

The brother repeated the story whidh some of the
party that had participated in the accident had just
told in the hotel.

"And that young gentleman you introduced me to on
the steamer was "his nephew," said Amy, sadly. "Think
what he will suffer when he learns of it !"

"If fehere is a searching party organized, I stall go,"
said Billy, with determination.

"Of course you will do nothing of the sort," inter-
posed his mother. "It would be absolute suicide."

"Everyone ought to go who can render any service/'
said Amy. "If you go, Billy, will you take me?" she
added, with a sudden thought.

"You'll do as you've a mind to, as usual, I suppose.
But if you ask my opinion "

"Then I won't. Now don't you say a word against
it, mamma, for I'm going. Yes, I am. I can take care
of myself and I'll keep out of all danger."

"Just as you did on that sailboat, I presume," was
the ironical suggestion.

"What harm happened fo me there, except a little
wetting? You'll be throwing that up forever. Billy,
tell the men who are going that I shall join the party
and won't be the least trouble. I feel so sorry for
that young man I can't keep the tears 'back. It's just
awful ! "

And muffled sobs were wafted to the ears of the sad
.watcher overhead.




IT was early in the morning when Carl arose, but it
was late before the exploring party started on its
journey. He met Lindes at breakfast and, having now
complete control of his brain, talked with him calmly
as to the best method to pursue. It was clear that
Marcus did not believe the expedition would amount
to anything, as it was impossible in his opinion to
find any trace of a body swallowed up in a river of
burning lava. He was quite willing, however, to take
any steps that would gratify Carl.

The story of the accident was now known generally
m the hotel and several gentlemen who were contem-
plating a trip in the vicinity offered their services. Carl
accepted them all, including one of those who had been
there on the previous day, a Mr. Bass. When the
proper quantity of provisions and water had been laid
in for, over a great part of the way, no food or drink
could be obtained even for the horses the cavalcade
took up its march.

Miss Van Steuben soon entered into a talk with
Carl, and her sympathetic and hopeful attitude encour-
aged him greatly. It was not a time when he need
avoid her presence. Little by little she drew from him
the history* of his connection with Mr. Meyer and the


incidents relating to the latter's disappearance, except
the part which Lindes had played. Of that he did not
feel that he could speak yet to anyone.

It is not necessary that a full description should be
made of the profitless journey, for profitless it was.
Before Carl had reached the scene of the accident he
was obliged to admit that no human frame engulfed
in that molten sea could escape annihilation. He kept
on, however, as far as the animals could safely go,
and then started with Messrs. Lindes and Bass toward
the point where Mr. Meyer was last seen, urging the
others to observe the utmost care for tfieir own safety.

"We shall only go a little farther," added Mr. Bass.
"There is no need of risking another casualty."

A light touch on Carl's coatsleeve caused him to
turn. Miss Amy was at his elbow.

"Let me go a little way," she pleaded. "I will be
very careful. I have splendid eyesight. Please!"

"No !" he answered, almost sternly. Then, when she
began a new argument, he called to Billy: "Do not
let your sister run any risk." And he was gone.

Five minutes passed, ten, and still the men who were
conducting the hopeless search went on. Occasionally
the undulations of the ground hid them from the eyes
that would have followed their movements. Frequent-
ly a gust of sulphurous air compelled them to pause.
At last Carl was obliged to admit that it was folly to
continue further and listened to the urgent advice of
Mr. Bass to retrace his steps.

With the fumes of sulphur coming, now from this
side, now from that, the men had to stop more than


once, covering their mouths and nostrils. Mr. Bass
came in first, quite exhausted. He staggered and al-
most fell, and the efforts of the others were at once
devoted to his succor. Mr. Lindes came second, in
even a worse condition. The watchers began to realize
what a hell raged within a thousand feet of where they

"He has not come!" cried Amy, frantically, to her
brother. "Are you going to let him die there ! Well,
I'm not !" and before he had any idea of her intention
she started towards the lava flow at her utmost speed.

Billy shouted "Come back!" but the girl paid no
attention to him. He was obliged to follow her in a
run, but she kept her lead. When the lava was readied
he saw her pause and look anxiously in all directions.
Then she waved her hand to him to hasten and disap-
peared into the ravine.

Carl lay prostrate, though not unconscious. The
sulphurous gases were rising all about him, but he was
fighting bravely for breath. Just as his strength and
courage seemed failing together he saw Amy Van
Steuben coming in his direction. He struggled to his
feet, waving the handkerchief that had been placed over
his mouth, hoping it would stop the girl's forward
movement. Finding it did not do so, he began to
move with slow and painful steps in her direction. Be-
fore he reached her side Amy's slight strength gave
way. She made a misstep and would have fallen had
he not caught her in his arms.

Despairing with a conviction that Peter Meyer's
body could never be recovered, fainting from the ttt>


rible fumes lie had been breathing, the siglit of that
white face, the pressure of that limp body, put new.
life into him. Without the least idea of What he was
doing he pressed his lips to hers for one brief moment,
and murmured, "My darling!" Then, carrying his
burden, he walked rapidly, almost running, till he met
Billy, who insisted on relieving him of her weight.

Half crazed by the conflict of emotions Carl made a
momentary effort to retain possession of the still form,
but Billy, at that moment the stronger, had no hesita-
tion in taking it from him. Two of the others now
came forward and offered their assistance to Carl, who
began suddenly to realize how much he needed it.

As soon as he was safely out of danger he hastened
to ask about the young lady.

"She's all right!" shouted Billy. "The Lord takes
care of children and fools. What the dickens did sihe
expect to accomplish by running into that fire !"

Carl was not content till he had staggered to his feet
and seen for himself that Miss Van Steuben was sitting
up and had her eyes open.

"They've all been scolding me," sihe said, hysterical-
ly. "I don't suppose anybody has thought to thanlc
you for saving me."

"Saving you!'' he answered, surprised. "Oh, yes,
but you saved me first. I had almost given up, the gas
was so powerful, and I must have breathed a lot of it.
Then I saw you were in danger and that spurred me
up, you see and I succeeded in escaping."

A smile crossed the faces of the onlookers. Amy
exclaimed, "There! You see I did some good, after


aM." Then m response to earnest advice she consented
to lie down for a few moments. Carl refused to take
the same counsel, feeling that a man should exert all
the strength he had. And it was quite as well that he
kept his feet and took in full breaths of the pure air
of the mountainside.

Soon it was time for lunch. Around the circle that
was formed congratulations were poured in on both the
young people for their escape from danger. The won-
derful sight all had witnessed was discussed at length,
only Carl and Mr. Lindes remaining silent. At last
the lively talkers began to remember that there was a
special sadness in the occasion for these two, and their
loss was referred to in low tones.

"I should think an old man, overcome with sulphur
gas, would not experience much suffering," said one.
"We are naturally shocked at such a death, because it
is sudden and mysterious; but people dying in tiheir
beds must often have a larger share of pain."

The suggestion, though well meant, did not Wave
the intended effect, and no one attempted to repeat the
experiment. An hour later Miss Van Steuben said Slhe
felt quite able to mount her horse, and presently the
party started on its homeward journey.

"I am more grateful to you than I am afraid I ap-
pear," said the young lady, in a low voice, as her horse
came alongside Carl's.

"But it is I who owe you gratitude," he replied. "If
it had not been for you I never should have come out
of that place alive."

"I am so glad you feel that way. I want to get a


-.r -

little credit for something besides recklessness. I don't
know what mother will say. This is the second time I
have been nearly killed within a few months. Did you
hear how I fell into the Bay at San Francisco ?"

He seemed to ruminate for some time, and finally
stammered that he believed he had heard somebody
mention it on the steamer.

"You don't seem much interested," she began. "No,
I beg your pardon. It was this way : I was out yacht-
ing, and was run down by a tugboat. All our party,
including myself, were knocked overboard instantly.
I thought I knew how to swim, but when I struck the
water I was dazed. What would have happened I
don't know had not a young gentleman who was out
rowing sprang after me. And wihen the excitement
abated a little and Billy wanted to thank him or in
case he would accept it offer him a reward "

"You could not tihink he would take money!" cried
Carl, shutting his teeth together.

"Why, don't you think I'm worth paying for?"

He could only turn his eyes in the opposite direction.
Had he looked into hers he would have seen the sup-
pressed merriment in them.

"Well, at any rate, he had disappeared ; and though
we advertised in the papers we never got the faintest
trace of him. It's awfully embarrassing for a girl to
owe her life to some man whom she doesn't even
know by name. It's a little that way when she does
know it," she added, thougihtfully. "But of course,
in this matter that's just happened, if it was I who
saved your life, you're the one to feel embarrassment."


He did not know enough about young women's style
of light conversation to understand her badinage,
though it struck him there was a false note in it some-
where. He answered in his usual straightforward way.

"No, Miss Van Steuben, I don't feel embarrassed,
especially as I was able to in some slight degree return
your kindness. I feel very grateful, however, and I
shall say as much to your father, if I have the pleasure
pf meeting him again."

She did not speak for some time.

"It really makes me out a heroine, doesn't it?" she
said finally. "I shall positively become vain."

Then seeing how sober his face was she exclaimed,
"Please forgive me. I would do anything to lighten
your grief if it were in my power 'believe me."

They were never to be more than ordinary acquain-
tances and there was no reason wny he should decline
to clasp the hand she extended.

"I thank you with all my heart," he said, simply,
(dropping the hand as quickly as he had taken it.

Soon Miss Van Steuben's horse dropped behind and
her place was taken by Mr. Bass. Seeing that Carl
was Inclined toward taciturnity that gentleman made
only occasional remarks and nothing worthy of note
transpired during the rest of the trip.

When Amy related her adventure to her mother Mrs.
Van Steuben held up both hands in despair.

"I felt that you ought not to go," she said. "When
will you learn that such actions are not becoming to the
Slaughter of a sugar king."

"Poolh!" was the unfilial response. "My dear oW


Popsie is just the same bundle of sweetness he was be-
fore the rise in sugar gave him that title you like so
well. He wouldn't have had me let a poor boy perish
when I could rush in and save him just as easily as
not; and you wouldn't, either; you know you

"At the rate you're going on you'll have a regiment

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Online LibraryAlbert RossA sugar princess → online text (page 7 of 19)