Charles Goddard.

The Perils of Pauline online

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He turned, and it was Pauline.

After all Pauline had arrived too late - had missed that fatal
adventure.

Owen watched Harry lift Pauline up and wrap her in his arms with a
squeeze that hurt. But it was a hurt she loved and though she sobbed
as if her heart would break they were sobs of relief and happiness.

Owen watched a moment and then slunk away; his schemes had been for
nothing. Pauline was alive and happy in her lover's arms, and the
secretary was no nearer his goal of permanent control of her estate
than before. He walked to the entrance of' the tent and tried to learn
from the nurses and doctors who were hurrying in and out whether the
French aviator would live or die. Nobody would stop to give him a
satisfactory answer. There was a flap in the back of the tent, and
through this Owen cautiously peered. He saw a nurse with something
that looked like wet absorbent cotton dabbing at a round black object.

Presently he saw that the round object was the head of a man blackened
by fire. Just then the nurse looked up, saw Owen's guilty face and
gave a little exclamation of dismay. At the same instant Owen felt a
hand grasp his elbow. Withdrawing his head from the tent, he turned
quickly and was confronted by the red face of Hicks, the blackmailer,
counselor and dream messenger.

The secretary backed away from Hicks with a face of terror.

"Don't be scared," said Hicks in a hoarse whisper. "I feel as if I
were in this thing as deep as you are."

"In what thing?" asked Owen.

"Don't bluff, old man," said Hicks. "Didn't you dream about me last
night?"

"Well, what have my dreams to do with you?"

"Stop bluffing," replied Hicks. "Didn't you see me in a dream last
night? And didn't I leave a black, shining stone on the table when I
left?"

Owen did not deny these questions, and the red-visaged man went on:

"I see you took my advice - that is, his advice, whoever he is, and
you fixed the wire."

"Look here, Hicks, in heaven's name, tell me what this means. I did
dream about you; you told me to do the thing, and it's your fault. You
admit you are in it. Now, what is it?"

"Owen," said Hicks, "you and I are a couple of pikers in a big game -
bigger than we understand. We hold the cards, but somebody else is
playing the hand for us. He is an old guy and a wise one, four
thousand years old, he tells me, and, though it scares me out of my
boots to think who I am trailing along with, I'm going to stick and
you'd better stick, too, and let him play our hand to the end."

"Who is it?" asked Owen, wondering if the morphine had gotten the
better of him again or if Hicks were playing some uncanny deceit on
him.

"I don't know," replied Hicks. "He's somebody who has been dead 4,000
years, and he wants to have this girl Pauline killed so he can get her
back. I suppose he's some kind of ghostly white slaver. It isn't our
business what he is as long as he takes care of us. If we'll help him
he'll help us."

"Well, he didn't manage very well today," objected Owen.

"He planned all right," rejoined Hicks. "The machine fell, and if
she'd been in it she'd have been killed. But the other side played a
card. I don't know what the card was, but it took the trick and she
didn't go up in the machine. That's all. But don't worry, we'll have
better luck some other time."

Owen shook his head. He could make nothing of this battle of unseen
forces. It was clear to him that he had grasped at the one big chance
to get Pauline's estate and had missed it. He told Hicks so frankly.

"That's where you're wrong again," insisted Hicks. "If that girl had
been killed today it would have been a big blunder."

"A blunder?" queried Owen. "Didn't you say that Pauline must be put
out of the way before we can get hold of her fortune?"

"Listen," said Hicks glancing cautiously about, "come over here away
from these people."

"What do you mean by saying that it would have been a big blunder if
Pauline had been killed in that flying machine?" demanded Owen.

"Yes, an almighty big blunder - that's what I said, and I can tell you
why. We were pretty stupid not to think of it before. Now here's
what's got to happen to Miss Pauline - "

Hicks placed his mouth close to Owen's car and whispered.





CHAPTER V

THE PIRATE AND PAULINE

A sort of false quiet, like the calm that broods between storms, kept
all serene at the Marvin mansion for a week after the aeroplane
catastrophe. Little had been seen of Harry, who was busy with
directors' meetings and visits to the factories. Owen had read with
alarm of rumors that some one had tampered with a wire of the wrecked
biplane. But if the authorities were investigating he saw no signs of
it, and suspicion pointed no finger at him.

What puzzled and worried Owen more than anything else was his own mind
and behavior. Having no belief in the supernatural, he could not
account for the dream which had thrown him into a criminal partnership
with Hicks. Hicks had blackmailed him in the past, and there was
nobody he had feared and hated more than this vulgar and disreputable
race track man. Yet Hicks had appeared to him in a dream, and Owen had
promptly done his bidding, involving himself in what would probably
turn out to be murder. The newspapers reported the French aviator as
barely living from day to day.

Owen suffered the torment of a lost soul, but, at least he had no more
dreams, or spectral visitations. Hicks called him on the telephone
once or twice, but the secretary refused to talk.

Pauline, too, had a busy week. Besides her usual social activities,
she rewrote and finished her new story. It seemed to her even better
than the one in the Cosmopolitan Magazine.

"This will surely be taken," Pauline thought with a little sigh of
regret, "and that means the end of my year of adventures - "

She had determined on this course the night after the accident. It was
after midnight, and Pauline was trying to marshal the exciting
recollections of the day into the orderly mental procession that leads
to sleep. Very faintly she heard what sounded like the music of a
distant mandolin. Pauline knew it was Harry, went to the open window
and looked down on the dark lawn. There he was playing with a bit of
straw instead of a pick that his music might not disturb the sleepers
in the house.

Pauline wanted to throw her arms around him and promise not to cause
any more worry. But she didn't, because she couldn't reach him from
the window. After Harry had gone Pauline decided to finish her story,
send it to a publisher and let his decision be hers.

"If they accept it, you stay home and marry Harry," she told the pretty
face under the filmy night cap which smiled at her from the mirror.
"But if they dare reject it, Harry will have to worry, dear boy though
he is."

So Pauline lost no time in finishing and submitting her manuscript,
inclosing a special delivery stamp and a request please to let her know
at once.

On Saturday Pauline received a bulky letter in the morning's mail. It
was her neatly typed manuscript and a short letter declining her
story. The editor thought it charming, showed wonderful imagination,
gave great promise of future success, but there was a lack of
experience evident throughout - a little unreal, he added. He
ventured to suggest that the author would do well to travel around and
see the world from different angles. During the afternoon Harvey
Schieffelin dropped in for a call. He had found her story in the
Cosmopolitan and complimented her then he began to laugh.

"Polly, that's a bully story of yours, but you ought to have gone down
and watched some stokers do work before you described that scene."

"What was wrong in my description?" demanded the young authoress.

"Well, you told of a stoker laying his grimy hand on the fire door and
pulling it open to rake the fire."

"Well, couldn't he do that?"

"Oh, yes," laughed Harvey, "he could, but he wouldn't do it more than
once. Those doors are almost red hot and would bum the flesh off the
stoker's hand, whether it were grimy or not. I'll show you on my yacht
some time. What you need is - ?"

"Harvey, don't you dare tell me I need experience," interrupted Pauline
with unexpected heat. Young Schieffelin saw that tears were almost in
her eyes.

"Well," thought Schieffelin, "this vein leads too close to water," and
he hurried to shift the course of the conversation.

But the damage was done. Pauline took her story to the little open
fireplace in her room and destroyed it. At the same time she
destroyed, her resolution to give up the year of adventure. There
could be no question, she needed experience. Her adopted father had
admitted it, the editor had said it, and even an empty-headed young man
like Schieffelin could see it. She was sorry for Harry, but it
couldn't be helped. She picked up a copy of "Treasure Island" and soon
wished fervently that the days of pirates were back again.

Owen gave up his fight against morphine late Friday night. Saturday he
was at peace with the world. Gone were all the nerve clamorings and
with them went his scruples. All day he kept a furtive watch upon
Pauline, and even heard her envious remarks about pirates to Harry when
he returned for a weekend at home. Owen sympathized with Pauline in
her regret that pirates were extinct. A pirate would have been very
useful to the secretary just then.

However, there were other cut-throats, plenty of them, and perhaps some
other kind would do. There were gunmen, for instance, but, an honest
District Attorney had lately made these murderous gentlemen of the
underworld almost as quiet as pirates. He was still pondering when
Hicks called again on the telephone. This time the secretary responded
and made an immediate appointment in a cafe near Forty-second street.

Owen related the events of the week, ending with Pauline's hankering
for pirates. The two men got their heads together and rapidly evolved
a plan.

From the cafe they took a taxi and rode along the water front, first on
one side of the island of Manhattan and then on the other. The cab
stopped near the worst-looking saloons, while the two schemers entered
and looked over the sailors and longshoremen refreshing themselves at
the bars. After covering several miles of water front they had
collected as many as a dozen abominable barroom cigars and a few
equally dubious drinks, but had not yet found what they were looking
for.

On Front Street they saw a man, and both cried out:

"Look, there he is."

The man was a wild-looking specimen. He had the rolling gait of the
deep sea. A squinting eye gave him a villainous leer, while a bristly
beard and long gray hair made him a ferocious spectacle. His age was
doubtful, as the lines in his ruddy skin might have been cut by
dissipation as much as age. The most prominent feature of his unlovely
countenance was a nose, fiery red from prolonged exposure to sunburn,
or rum-bum.

"If he isn't a pirate he ought to be one," said Owen.

The man carried the top of a ship's binnacle, as the round brass case
which holds a ship's compass is called. He entered the dismal portal
of a marine junk shop. The taxi was stopped discreetly a block away.
As Owen and Hicks approached the shop they heard a loud argument going
on inside.

"How much do you want for it?"

"Ten dollars. It's a brand-new Negus."

"Ten nothing. You stole it, you son of a sea cook. I'll give you a
dime for it."

"I did not steal it, so help me - - - - - ! The captain of that
'lime juicer' over in the North River gave it to me for saving his
little gal's life. He begged me to take anything I wanted, but I
fancied this. I'll tell you about it."

Then Owen and Hicks, listening just outside, heard a fearful and
wonderful tale. To relate it in the sailor's own words, stripped of
the long deep-sea oaths, would be as impossible as to pick the green
specks out of a sage cheese.

In brief, the gentleman with the binnacle, sauntering innocently along
the docks Friday night, had heard a commotion on the British tramp
which he referred to as a "lime juicer." Some fifteen or more
long-shoremen had invaded the ship, overcome the captain, tied him down
and were about to kidnap his daughter. The teller of the story had
walked in and thrashed them all single-handed, driven them off into the
darkness, rescued the little girl and released the captain. In
gratitude the commander had made him a present of the binnacle head.

At the conclusion of the story there was a pause, then the other voice
answered:

"You're a wonder. As I said before, I'll give you ten cents for the
binnacle and ninety cents for the story. Now you can take it or I'll
have you pinched for swiping it."

"Gimme the dollar," said the hero of the tale, and a moment later he
passed down the street with the two eavesdroppers at his heels.

The sailor man, proceeding at a rapid pace, suddenly turned a comer
like a yacht jibing around a buoy and plunged into a dingy saloon.
Owen and Hicks went in after him.

Owen ordered and invited the sailor to join them. They learned that
his name was Nelson Cromwell Boyd, that he had deserted from the
British navy at a tender age, and since then had been through a series
of incredible adventures and injustices, which disproved the old adage
that you can't keep a good man down.

At last Owen intimated that he had a business proposition to discuss,
and they adjourned to the sidewalk.

"Do you want to earn some money?" asked Hicks.

"Well, that depends," said Boyd, doubtfully.

"Easy money," suggested Owen.

"That's the only kind worth going after," commented the sailor.

"That's where we agree with you, my friend," said Hicks. "We are after
easy money and plenty of it. Plenty for us and plenty for you, too, if
you can keep quiet about it."

"That's the kind of talk I like to hear. But as honest man to honest
man, I want to warn you that there mustn't be too much work to it. I
don't believe in the nobility of labor. I believe that work is the
crowning shame and humiliation of the human race. It's all right for a
horse or a dog or an ox to work, but a man ought to be above it. It's
degrading, interferes with his pleasures and wastes his time."

"I feel the same way," agreed Owen, "but somebody has got to work to
make shoes and food for us."

"Yes," admitted the sailor, "regretfully there will always have to be
some work done, and I'm sorry for the poor guys that must do it. But
there's been too much work done."

"Those sentiments are very noble," said Owen.

"It's all very fine to worry about your fellow man. But you would like
to have plenty of money even if the rest of the world is fool enough
to keep on working."

"I suppose so," said the sailor, "but I'm a reformer and my business is
to talk, not work."

"That's just what we want you to do," said Owen and Hicks in answer.

Then they found a table in the rear of a saloon where they could unfold
their plan.

Boyd was to be introduced to a foolish young girl who had a barrel of
money. He was to tell her a deep-sea yam along certain lines, and Owen
and Hicks would take care of the rest.

"The question is," said Owen, "whether you can talk and act like a sort
of reformed pirate."

"Leave that to me," he assured them, and led the way out of the saloon
and into still another grimy and disreputable place. It was Axel
Olofsen's pawnshop and second-hand general supply and clothing store.

After much pawing over ancient, worn and rusty weapons, Boyd was at
last fitted out. Ole was paid about sixty per cent of what he asked
and left to the enjoyment of his Scandinavian melancholy.

"You look like a pirate now, sure enough," said Owen, observing Boyd's
effect on the driver of the taxicab.

"I look it, but I don't quite feel it yet," said Boyd, with deep
meaning. "There is something lacking."

"What can it be?" asked Hicks.

"About three fingers of red-eye," the sailor explained, pointing to a
saloon. "That will make my disguise just perfect."

In the saloon Hicks and Owen made a little map, wrinkled it and soiled
it on the floor, then gave it to the pirate.

"Tell her," said Owen as he called for a taxi, "that it is only a copy
of your original, which is all worn out."

The nearer they approached to the house the more talkative became the
"pirate." He demanded to know more details of what was to be done, and
finally assumed an air of authority.

"You say that rich girl is crazy to see something worth writin' about?
Now, I know something better than pirates and buried treasure," shouted
the pirate confidently.

"Yes, no doubt," Owen replied soothingly and with some alarm at the
man's bravado. "But it's pirates she is interested in just now."

"Never mind, I say I know something better," insisted the pirate.
"If she will go and do what I'm goin' ter tell yer she'll sure see
something like she never dreamed of. Now listen to me sharp!"

It was an extraordinary proposition the "pirate" made.

Owen laughed a gentle discouragement and shook his head, but Hicks
fixed his eyes keenly on the man and was evidently turning the
suggestion over in his mind.

Owen's key admitted the three to the front hall without ringing, but a
maid happened to cross the hall and caught sight of Boyd. With a
scream and a flutter she retreated. Owen seated his two confederates
in the hall and went in search of Pauline.

Owen found Pauline alone in the library. Never did a villain propose a
scheme to a beautiful girl at a more favorable moment. Half the
afternoon and a little while after dinner she had been absorbing
"Treasure Island," and now came Owen asking her if she would like to
meet a reformed pirate and go on a thrilling and adventurous
expedition.

"Owen, you are a perfect angel. Bring in your pirate. I'm sorry,
though, that he has reformed."

Pauline shook hands with Hicks, but hardly noticed him. She had eyes
only for the "pirate," who impressed her mightily. With awe and
admiration she saw his scowling and squinting eye run over her and then
travel about the room. Pauline approved of the "pirate," but the
"pirate" did not approve of Pauline, and he almost told her so.

But he met the warning eyes of his confederates and restrained
himself. He had his story to tell and he would do it. After all, that
was the best way to attack this girl and her fortune.

"Tell us about the treasure," said Pauline eagerly.

"Hush!" he shouted in a voice that made the girl jump.

"I'll tell you, but, by the blood of Morgan, if one of you ever tells a
living soul I'll cut his liver out," said the "pirate." Pauline
gasped, and the secretary told him that it wasn't considered good
manners to point with a sharp knife. But they all swore to secrecy and
the "pirate" proceeded:

"I was but a slip of a lad when I ran away and sailed from Liverpool in
the good brig Nancy Lee with as villainous a crew as I ever seen.
Where we was bound for and why is none of your business. Them that
planned that voyage has cashed in their souls to their Maker and - ah,
well, as I was saying, they was a villainous crew, low and vile and
bloody-minded. I was the cabin boy and slept on the transoms in the
captain's cabin. The weather was awful and the grub was worse.

"But all went well till we reached the roarin' forties. The skipper
knew how to handle sailors, you bet he did. When they came aft to kick
about the grub he knocked 'em down before they said two words."

Pauline gave a little exclamation of dismay at this point and the
"pirate" turned to her in explanation:

"You see, knockin' 'em down quick like that avoids a lot of cross words
and unpleasant arguments such as makes hard feelin's on long voyages.

"Yes, as I was saying', all went well until the second mate got to
knockin' 'em out with his left hand, which the same was all right, too,
but he was heard to pass a remark one day that he only hit landlubbers
with his left hand.

"The crew they was insulted, and that very night the second mate went
overboard. Who done it nobody knows, leastways the captain couldn't
find out. It made the old man peevish like and he got to arguin' with
them sailors instead of wallopin' 'em the way he oughter done, and one
day they turned on him.

"It was all over in a minute. They had the old man thrown and tied.
The first mate came runnin'in, firin' his pistols, but they downed him,
too. I took the wheel while they decided what to do. 'Bloody Mike,'
their leader, had about persuaded the men to send the captain and mate
to Davy Jones's locker and the carpenter was riggin' the plank for 'em
to walk when I up and puts in a word.

"I pleaded for their lives and, though Mike was dead agin' the idea,
they voted to let them live. The last we saw of 'em they was driftin'
off in the jolly boat with a jug of water and a loaf of bread."

The mariner paused and Pauline suggested delightedly:

"And as soon as they had cooled down they were grateful to you and made
you their leader?"

"They did not," answered the "pirate." "They broached a cask of rum in
the forward hold, and I overheard 'em plotting to throw me to the
sharks."

"How awful," said Pauline.

"Yes, miss," agreed the "pirate." It was awkward and embarrassing like
for a mere slip of a lad. So I up and goes into the captain's cabin and
gets all the pistols and knives and cutlasses there was and brings 'em
out on deck.

"Pretty soon them drunken devils come a-tumblin' out of the fore hatch,
picks up half a dozen capstan bars and some belyin' pins and a marlin
spike or two and runs aft a-hollerin' and yellin'. I gives 'em one
warnin' and then fires."

The "pirate" stopped, coughed and looked around.

"Oh, please go on," begged Pauline.

"Yes, miss," replied the sailor, "but this talking affects my throat.
Could you possibly - ?"

"Why, certainly," interrupted Owen, "I'll get you a drink."

After the sailor had swallowed the biggest drink ever poured out in
that house he continued:

"Yes, that was as neat a fight as I ever was in. There was some twenty
of 'em all told."

"And what happened then?" demanded Pauline.

"Well, Miss, it come on to blow, and there was the old ship staggerin'
along under full sail. It was all I could do to keep the old hulk from
foundering', at that, but I stuck to the wheel day after day and night
after night. To keep from freezin' I had to drink a lot of grog. Oh,
a powerful lot of grog. So much grog that I've been dependent on it
ever since - and I'll take a little now, if it's agreeable." It
wasn't exactly agreeable, but he got it and continued. "Finally we
fetched up, ker-smack, on the rocks of a desert island. All the boats
had been smashed and carried away by the storm, so I had to build a
raft. The first two loads was all provisions, and then I took the
treasure ashore - "

"What treasure?" asked Pauline.

"Oh, bless your heart, didn't I tell you about the treasure?"

"No," said Hicks, with a scowl, "and that's the part we want to hear
about."

"Oh, money ain't everything," rebuked the "pirate" in a lordly manner.
"There was a matter of a million dollars or so in good British gold,
and what it was on the 'Nancy Lee' for is nobody's business. I took
it all ashore, an' buried it on the island. Here's a copy of the chart
I made, and you three is the first to lay human eyes on it."

While Pauline examined reverently the dingy bit of paper the "pirate"
concluded his yarn.

"After I'd buried the last f it, I rigged a mast on the raft and
fetched up on one of the Bahamas."

"And you have never been back to get the gold?" queried Pauline.

"No, miss; though I've started many's the time. But a poor seafarin'
man like me finds it hard to fit out a proper expedition. If you fancy
the notion and want to go along with me and pay all the expenses I'll
divvy up half and half with you. What do you say?"

Pauline looked at Owen and Hicks, who nodded approvingly. She had no
great faith in finding any gold. Old Mr. Marvin had said that treasure
bunts rarely produce any results. But he had also remarked that they
were very thrilling, and here, surely, was adventure well worth a
little time and money. Pauline agreed, and the "pirate" was in the
midst of imposing a blood-curdling oath of secrecy when Harry demanded
admittance.

Nobody, least of all the sailor, would tell him what was in the wind,
except that they were going off on a trip of adventure. The young man
disapproved of both Hicks and the "pirate," and the latter showed his


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Online LibraryCharles GoddardThe Perils of Pauline → online text (page 4 of 18)