Charles Goddard.

The Perils of Pauline online

. (page 5 of 18)
Online LibraryCharles GoddardThe Perils of Pauline → online text (page 5 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

dislike of Harry. It was with regret that the man of the sea
recollected Owen's stipulation that Harry must on no account be allowed
to go with the party. Nothing would have pleased the "pirate" better
than to have got these two happy and innocent representatives of
"ill-gotten gains" alone with him on the high seas. Pauline, too,
wished to have Harry who was frowning and suspiciously demanding
information. But she had sworn the oath of a buccaneer, and far be it
from her to break faith with the confiding freebooter.

So, once more Harry was kept out of Pauline's councils. He was a
little provoked at her this time, for her willfulness seemed almost
perverse after the lesson she should have learned from the aeroplane



Excitement and activity pervaded the house. Sunday and Monday every
one, including Harry, soon knew that Pauline was to take Tuesday's
steamer to Old Nassau, in the Bahamas. Harry intended to quietly board
the steamer a little earlier than Pauline and surprise the party by
appearing after the ship was well out to sea. His plans were'
shattered by the young lady's unexpected "early arrival." Harry, with
a suitcase in each hand, met her face to face on the pier. There was
nothing for him to do but confess, kiss her goodbye and go. It was
with a pang of regret that she saw him toss his two suitcases covered
with college team labels into a taxicab and depart.

An hour later the four treasure hunters stood looking over the rail
watching the last passengers come aboard. The "pirate," in a new blue
suit, huge Panama hat and light pink necktie, though a rather unusual
sight, had been toned down in appearance to a degree that permitted him
to walk about among people without causing a crowd to collect. Hicks,
too, at Owen's suggestion, had adopted quieter attire.

Just as the gangplank was about to be pulled in the deckhands waited to
permit a very feeble and bent old man to hobble aboard. He had long,
white hair, and his face was mostly gray whiskers, except a pair of
dark spectacles. A porter followed him bearing two brand new

The adventurous four were soon comfortably perched in steamer chairs
watching New York harbor slip by them. They had barely reached the
Statue of Liberty when the "pirate" launched forth on one of his
Munchausen-like tales of the sea.

Highly colored, picturesque, untrue and absurd as a stained glass
window, nevertheless these yams took on a semblance of reality from the
character of the narrator himself. In all his stories the "pirate" was
the hero. Nobody noticed that a steward had placed a fifth steamer
chair beside the sailor until that worthy reached one of the main
climaxes of his narrative. At that point he felt a hand on his
shoulder and looked around into the whiskers and black spectacles of
the old passenger. The cackling voice remarked:

"It's a lie. It's a lie. It's a lie."

Every one was astonished, but even the "pirate" had a trace of respect
for such great age, and said nothing in reply. After a while he
continued, only to be interrupted by the same words.

This was too much to endure, and though the if "pirate" held his
tongue they rebuked the old dotard by walking away and leaning over the
rail. The conversation wandered to the subject of sharks, and Pauline
asked if they were as stupid as they looked.

"Don't you believe it," the "pirate" assured her. "Them sharks look
stupid just to fool you. Why, I remember a time not so long ago down
in Choco Bay, on the coast of Colombia, there was an old devil who used
to sneak up alongside sailin' vessels in a fog. He carried in his
mouth the big iron shank of an anchor he'd picked up from the wreck."

"What did he do that for?" asked Hicks.

"So the iron would deflect the compass and make them run the ship onto
the Kelp Ledges, off the Pinudas, Islands. If a ship went down he
stood a good chance of eating one or two o' the passengers. But I
don't mind sharks. If you want to know what really annoys me, it's
them killer whales in the Antarctic that come a crowdin' and buttin' up
against ye."

"It's an internal, monumental, epoch-making lie," cackled a voice
behind him. Every one looked, and there was the old man.

The "pirate" was now thoroughly exasperated. If he couldn't tell a
story without being interrupted in this manner life wasn't worth
living. He announced that he would find the old man and thrash him.
Owen and Hicks were annoyed, but they feared the result of the sailor's
fury. They might all be arrested on arriving at Nassau. This would
interfere with plans, and must not be thought of. To appease the
wrathful "pirate" Owen offered to have the old man thrashed so soundly
that he would probably be glad to stay out of sight the rest of the

There were some rascally looking men of Spanish blood among the second
cabin passengers who, as Owen and Hicks observed, looked needy and

The secretary found no great embarrassment in explaining that he wished
the old man thrashed quietly and privately. The Spaniards agreed to
beat him thoroughly for the trifling consideration of ten dollars.
They would even throw him overboard for a very reasonable sum
additional. But the bargain was struck at ten dollars for a moderate
beating, and the foreigners were warned that as he was delicate they
must be careful not to kill him.

During the next hour or two the old man passed the four treasure
hunters in their steamer chairs, but each time the "pirate" ceased
talking before he came within earshot.

At last the old man stopped in front of Pauline and gazed long at the
"pirate." He studied the rascal's face, apparently trying to remember
the identity of the man. Slowly the aged head nodded as if he was
saying to himself. "Yes, he is the same man."

Then, turning to Pauline and shaking a warning finger, the old man
delivered a surprising message.

Pauline was startled. The three men leaped to their feet. It was with
the utmost difficulty that she was able to prevent violence.. Owen
excused himself to hunt up his Spaniards and demand an explanation for
their slowness. To his surprise they declared that they had tackled
him and that he was as quick and powerful as a gorilla. He had
thrashed them both and they were glad to escape with their lives.

The ex-secretary was incredulous, but they showed cuts and bruises and
demanded their money, saying that a joke had been played on them. When
Owen refused one of them drew a stiletto and the ten dollars was

Returning, ruefully, he related the failure of the Spaniards. The
"pirate" at once said:

"Now, let me handle him."

A few moments later Boyd cornered his ancient adversary on a deserted
and wind-swept piece of deck.

"Old man," snarled the "pirate," "you say all my stories are lies.
Only your gray hairs have saved you from a thrashing before this."

"If it's my gray hairs that stop you, I'll remove that obstacle."

The "pirate" was amazed to see the aged person take off his hat and
remove a gray wig with his left hand while his right fist collided with
the "pirate's" eye. When consciousness returned he was lying on the
deck with no living thing in sight but a seagull aeroplaning on slanted
wings over his head. His return to the party was more rueful than

"What is the matter with your eye, Mr. Boyd?" asked Pauline

"Why, you see," said the "pirate," "I was looking at a girl with one of
these new slit skirts and I stumbled and bumped against a ventilator."

"I see," commented Owen to help him out. "You sort of slipped on a
sex-appeal, so to speak."

"Yes," said the sailor, gratefully. "It was just like that."

"It's a lie," said a high, thin voice from somewhere, and they noticed
that a porthole behind them was open.

Pauline found conversation difficult. Hicks, as a man of few words,
which gave him an undeserved reputation for wisdom. The "pirate" had
given up spinning yams on account of the old man's unfailing
interruption. Owen's mind, too, was preoccupied with a growing
suspicion. So the adventurous young lady went to her stateroom and
wrote a letter to Harry.

The sailor intimated that he had important news which could be only
told in the privacy of Owen's stateroom. The secretary suspected this
to be only a maneuver on the "pirate's" part to get acquainted with the
whiskey he knew Owen kept with him. But the seafarer unfolded the tale
of his black eye not truthfully nor accurately, except in that he had
recognized Harry under the disguise of the old man.

"I more than half suspected it," said Owen, "and I have been watching
his stateroom. But there is no way any one can see into his room
unless by getting a look in through the porthole."

"And there's where you get a good idea," said the "pirate."

"But there's no good having a peep' at him without his disguise now
that it's Harry," objected Hicks.

"No," said the "pirate," turning on Owen his lusterless sea-green eyes,
faded by much grog to a dimness that reminded one of the faint lights
set in ships' decks and known as "dead-eyes." "No, but your porthole
idea is just the scheme to get at him and get rid of him. I can slip
down a rope tonight when all is quiet and the fool passengers are over
on the other side looking at the bloody moon."

"And then what?" said Owen.

"I goes down the rope and shoots the old fool! I mean the young fool
- through the porthole."

"Why, that's murder!" cried Owen. "We'd all swing for it."

"No, it ain't murder; it's suicide, 'cause I'll throw the gun in there
where they'll find it when they break the door in, and everybody'll
think he shot himself."

"It's practical," commented Hicks, but Owen protested. At last it was
decided that a fourth man was necessary to do the shooting, and the
"pirate" volunteered to produce him.

"There's an old shipmate o' mine down in the stoke hole working like a
nigger. He'll be glad to do the trick for ten dollars, but we'll make
it fifty because the poor fellow has a wife and children and needs the
money. I'll go get him."

Owen and Hicks went on deck while Boyd descended to the fiery vitals of
the steamer. It is not an easy matter to smuggle a grimy stoker from
his furnace to the upper passenger decks, but the "pirate" managed it.

Meanwhile Harry was not losing time. He had taken a dictograph from
his baggage, borrowed a few dry batteries and a coil of wire from the
wireless operator. He carefully installed the instrument in his
stateroom, and led the wires out under his door to the passageway.
From there it was an easy task to carry them along the edge of the
carpet to the door of Owen's stateroom. Arrived at the point, he was
compelled to leave pliers, wire and the receiving instrument under a

Like many another stateroom door, Owen's could not be locked easily
from the outside, so when the three conspirators went out they left it
unlocked. The old man slipped in a moment later and quickly placed the
dictograph under the lower bunk.

Returning to his own room, the old man took up his instrument and
listened. But he was not a very expert electrician and the dictograph
for a long time failed to give anything but roars and crackling sounds,
though he was convinced there were several persons talking. A last he
got the thing adjusted in time to catch the last sentences of the
conversation. He recognized the voice of the "pirate." It said:

"An then we lowers you down the rope to his porthole. You sticks your
gun in and shoot the old fool. Don't forget to throw the gun in
afterward, so they'll think he killed himself. See?"

"Sure, I got yer, matey," replied a strange voice.

After this the dictograph must have got out of order as nothing further
came over the wire.

After closing the porthole Harry started to take off his disguise with
a view of revealing himself and having Owen, Hicks and the "pirate"
arrested. Then it occurred to him that he had not heard Owen or Hicks
talking and very likely they were not in the room at all.

It was probably a crazy, drunken scheme of the old sailor whom he had
tormented. Neither Owen nor Hicks had any suspicion, so far as he
knew, that behind the whiskers and eyeglasses was Harry. Owen could
have no object in shooting him.

"Can it be that I am jealous of this man Owen?" he wondered. "Polly
has been taking his advice against mine lately. What can that mean?"

Peace reigned during the evening while the old liner plunged and rolled
past wicked Cape Hatteras. While the passengers listened to the sad
orchestra in the saloon Harry, still in his whiskered disguise, sent a
wireless to a lawyer in New York requesting him to telegraph Pauline at
Nassau something that would make her come home. Then he went back to
his stateroom and locked the door.

As he stepped in he caught sight of the unbeautiful countenance of Mr.
Boyd squinting wickedly at him from far down the passageway.

"Just for that evil grin of yours, Mr. Pirate," thought Harry, "I am
not going to let you or your friend shoot me until after daylight." So
Harry kept his porthole closed tight that night, sleeping rather
restlessly without his accustomed ventilation.

Twice he heard a faint scraping sound on the outside of his cabin, and
a dark shadow eclipsed the faint nimbus of light which the foggy night
sent through his porthole. On the deck directly over his head three
dark figures sat in deck chairs, while a fourth paced the deck, his
cigar glowing like the tail lamp of a distant automobile.

The fog began to lift just before dawn, and the stoker, making another
trip down his rope, found the porthole open. A hasty inspection of the
decks indicated that it was safe to go ahead.

Owen, Hicks and the "pirate" quickly lowered the stoker, sitting in a
little swing known on the sea as a "bo'sun's chair." In his hand he
carried a pistol which Hicks had provided. Each of the three
conspirators had revolvers, but the racetrack man's weapon was chosen
because he had obtained it from a source to which it could not be
traced. Down went the stoker, his bare feet clinging to the gently
swaying side of the ship.

The porthole was open, and there in the dim interior of the cabin the
light was reflected from a pair of spectacles. There, too, were the
whiskers and gray hair. The old man seemed to be asleep in his chair
right near the porthole. The stoker cocked his revolver and held it
ready for instant action.

The steamer's fog horn blew a blast at the fast thinning fog. This
noise was just what the stoker wanted. He quickly plunged his pistol
into the porthole and fired it point blank in the very face of the old
man. There could be no question of missing. He looked up at the three
eager faces and nodded that all was well.

"I've got him," he called out, and was about to hurl the pistol into
the stateroom when an unpleasant and unexpected thing happened. A
brawny fist shot out of the porthole and collided with the stoker's
coal-blackened jaw.

More from surprise than the force of the blow, the stoker fell backward
into the sea. The three watchers on deck saw the proceeding, and only
one, the "pirate," had presence of mind to hurl a lifebuoy. No alarm
was sounded. The steamer went on into the sparkling morning sea,
leaving behind her a profane and disgusted stoker. This unfortunate
had only a lifebuoy to aid him on a fifteen-mile swim to shore.

"Never mind," said the "pirate" after the conspirators had gotten over
their first fright at the dashing of their plans. "I have an idea;
it's a corking idea, and you'll all like it."

"What is it?" asked Owen nervously. "Here is your drink now; what's
your idea?"

But the "pirate" wouldn't tell. He objected that it was too startling
for them to carry in their timid brains. He would unfold it when the
time came, and he promised them that it would be the greatest and most
daring project they had ever heard. A murderous glare lit up the faded
eyes and he chuckled to himself, but no offers nor threats would induce
him to part with his secret.



Arrived at Nassua, the party proceeded to the King Edward House, where
Pauline found a telegram from Philip Carpenter, the lawyer, advising
her to return as soon as possible to attend the signing of certain
important papers. On account of the message all hands made haste to
hunt for a small steamer or launch to complete the trip.

Though none of the four saw him, the old man was at the hotel. He lost
no time in assuming another and very different disguise, observing to
himself that the most valuable part of his college education might
prove to be the secrets of "make up" he had learned in his college
dramatic club.

Owen, with his usual forethought, had arranged in advance to be put in
touch at once with all available boats. As a result a gasoline launch,
with a cabin and stateroom, about 100 feet long, which had once been a
yacht, was chartered. The "pirate's" stipulation that no stranger
should see his island made it necessary for Pauline to deposit a check
for $2,500 for its safe return.

The next morning provisions were brought aboard, the "pirate" declaring
that he could run the engine, and all was ready when a difficulty
arose. Who was to cook? Pauline volunteered, but Owen objected, and
finally the "pirate's" objections to a stranger were overcome.

A dark-skinned half-breed, with long, black hair, who had earned half a
dollar by helping carry things on board, volunteered in a gruff voice.

"I'se fine cook. Best cook on the island. I cook very cheap."

Time was too valuable to investigate the man's ability, so he was
hired. Off went the white launch. Owen steering under instructions
from the "pirate," who soon proved he knew gasoline engines. Out of
the harbor they went, and then coasted along the beautiful shores of
the island. The sea was calm and the cruise uneventful for some time,
when the "pirate" called every one's attention to the fact that it was
a long time since breakfast. He went below and addressed the cook, who
had shut himself up in his tiny galley, as sailors call a boat's

"What's your name?" demanded Boyd.


"Are you a nigger?"

"I guess so; I dunno."

"Well, what were your father and mother?"

"I dunno."

"That's funny; but what I want to know is how soon grub will be ready?"

"Right away, senor."

"All right, Filipo; see that there is plenty of it."

"Dod foul my hawser, if this ain't what yer might call pleasant,"
declared the "pirate," showing his few teeth in a smile that reminded
Pauline of the spiles of an abandoned pier.

Pauline was pacing the deck apart from the others, in a pleasant
dreaminess scanning the endless azure of the hashed waters. Her
thoughts roamed forward and backward - forward to the vague magic land
of adventure, where she was to win treasure and delight, fortune and
fame; backward to a big, lovely, splendid house in New York City, where
a certain tall young man, with brown, unruly hair and shoulders broad
as a sheltering wall, must be pining for her.

Some one began whistling in the cabin. Pauline paid no attention to it
at first, but as the tune suddenly shifted to the very latest musical
comedy air she became interested. Owen never whistled, and Hicks, she
imagined, seldom went to the theatres.

The song shifted from whistle to words:

"I'm a greatly wicked person. If there's anybody worse on This
terrestrial circumference of guile (Though I very broadly doubt it) I
should like to know about it, For I want to be the blackest thing on

"I'm a bad-mad-man, my dear, I'm a liar and a flyer and flirty
buccaneer. I've done everything that's awful that a human being can.
I'm a bad - ma-a-d man."

"The song from 'Polly Peek-a-boo.' Harry and I heard it only two weeks
ago," mused Pauline.

Moved by a sudden whimsy, she entered the cabin. There was no one
there but the cook. In his dingy linen suit he was standing at the
table peeling potatoes and whistling. He stopped as Pauline entered, a
tall powerful man, though of slouching posture, he bowed

"No like me sing - no sing," he suggested.

"On the contrary, I like it very much. You sing very well indeed,
Filipo. Would you mind telling me where you heard the song you were
just singing?"

"Big American man, up Nassau - he sing'um. Very fine man - big fool
daughter," replied Filipo.

"You speak very good English when you sing," remarked Pauline. "Why
don't you do it all the time?"

The cook hesitated.

"Speak good English all time - bad English when sing!"

Pauline began to scrutinize half suspiciously this remarkable menial,
but he kept stolidly at work at the potatoes, and his dark skin, his
scraggly beard, his bagging trousers upturned over bare feet, his
general dilapidation of appearance, proved him nothing but one of the
common derelicts of the languid islands.

"If you could peel potatoes instead of butchering them, there would be
a little more to eat in case we run out of supplies, Filipo," suggested

He turned on her a frank American grin. For an instant the twinkle in
the keen blue eyes upset her.

It was so, like the twinkle in a pair of keen blue eyes that were
supposed to be figuratively weeping for her fate in far-off New York.
But instantly he changed his attitude.

"No like cook - cook quit," he grumbled.

"'Oh, no, indeed, Filipo, you must not be offended. I was just
speaking to Mr. Owen this morning about raising your salary."

A thick voice came to them from the cabin door.

"I begs to report, Miss," said Blinky Boyd, the pirate, reeling in,
"that there be mut'ny in yer crew. Mr. Hicks and Mr. Owen, Miss, has
rebelled against me authority and has refused me drink."

"That is an outrage, Mr. Boyd. They do not realize how your
nerve-racking adventures have shattered your strength. I will attend
to it myself," said Pauline sympathetically. "Filipo, give Mr. Boyd a

"Drink? Yes, meem," replied Filipo, with such unwonted alacrity that
Pauline turned in surprise.

She saw the slouching figure of the cook suddenly stiffen to his full
stalwart height. She saw an ill clad, but majestic giant stride toward
the pirate, bowl him over with a gentle tap, pinion his arms and legs
in a lifting grasp and carry him toward the door of the cabin.

Cries of rage came stuffily from the thick throat of Boyd.

"Lemme go, ye scum, lemme go," he yelled.

"Filipo! Filipo! Stop this instant! How dare you treat Mr. Boyd in
such a manner?" cried the indignant girl.

"You say, 'Give - him drink.' He say, 'Lemme go," answered Filipo,
pausing with his squirming burden.

"Drink! Ye fool, drink! She is felling ye ter gimme a drink,"
screamed the hero of desperate encounters.

"Big, fat drink," agreed the cook, as he strode toward the rail.

Pauline rushed upon him. The peril of her precious pirate stirred all
her courage. She saw her dreams vanishing - the chief narrator,
navigator and guide of the treasure voyage suspended in two strong arms
over the blue deep. Forgetting that he was accustomed to conquer
twenty men single handed, she felt only pity for his plight. Her soft
but determined hand gripped the cook's.

"Filipo, obey my orders!" she commanded.

"Yes, Mem. Let 'um go. Give 'um drink. Big liar need big drink."

He lifted the struggling but utterly helpless form of the pirate over
his shoulders, then, with a sudden stooping movement, he made as if to
plunge it into the sea.

"Help! Help!" cried Pauline, running up the deck.

Hicks and Owen rushed from their staterooms. Blinky Boyd was quivering,
gasping beside the rail. They found a slouching, uncommunicative cook
stolidly washing dishes in the galley.

Some hours later while Boyd was sleeping off his potations and Hicks
and Owen were deep in conference on deck, Pauline slipped down into the
galley ostensibly to explain the rudiments of the culinary art to the

"The trouble is you have no respect for a potato, Filipo. You slash
the poor thing to pieces, and then you boil it only long enough to hurt
its feelings."

"Peel potato nice, good," he apologized. "Then peel 'um pirate.
Filipo want to peel pirate; boil him just half-hurt him feelings.
That's how."

"Oh, I see. But I think you do Mr. Boyd a great injustice, Filipo. He
has consented to come all the way from New York with us and take
command of our boat and find the buried treasure, and - "

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryCharles GoddardThe Perils of Pauline → online text (page 5 of 18)