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Title: The Glacier Gate: An Adventure Story

Author: Frank Lillie Pollock

Release date: March 21, 2022 [eBook #67678]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Chelsea House, 1926

Credits: Roger Frank and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)


The Glacier Gate

An Adventure Story
The Glacier Gate
Copyright, 1926, by CHELSEA HOUSE
Printed in the U. S. A.
All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian.
I.Determined Destiny
II.False Colors
V.The Digger
VI.Yuma Oil
VII.Her Father
VIII.Green Stones
IX.Unexplained Disappearances
X.A Generous Offer
XI.The Unwilling Tourist
XII.The Long Shot
XIII.Southward Bound
XIV.The Castaway
XV.An Unexpected Vision
XVI.Imprisoned in Snow
XVII.The Glacier’s Heart
XVIII.Camp of the Dead
XX.In His Own Net
XXI.The Knife
XXII.Tronador Light



Destiny knocked at his door, but Doctor Rupert Lang was not at home. At that very moment he was talking of his destiny to Miss Eva Morrison in the glassed gallery of the Bayview Hotel, four miles out of Mobile, where they had motored for tea.

It was not the first time they had drunk tea in this spot, and they had usually come to talk of Lang’s dubious future, of what he might do with what a series of catastrophes had left him. Nervous and ill, his plans wavered. He had lately come to think of starting life afresh in a country medical practice far back up State, in the “piney woods.”

“I’m not much good at general practice,” he said. “Surgery is all I ever shone at. But up there they need doctors badly, men who can handle a big, rough practice, rough-and-ready surgery of all kinds——”

“You mean to bury yourself alive!” Eva interrupted indignantly.

He looked at her with sudden, nervous irritation. She had said the same thing before. Bury himself alive? As if he didn’t know it! But what else was left to him?

Nothing else seemed to be left. He would not have believed that a career could have been snuffed out so quickly. It was only a few weeks ago that his future had been all golden; a great, growing Boston reputation, even extending toward New York. He was one of the rising stars of surgery, a coming man, a magician of the knife, one of these modern gods who take men apart and reconstruct them with improvements. Still well under thirty, he enjoyed the respect, the admiration, the jealousy of men twice his age. His reputation increased; the big checks came in.

And then—a little carelessness or ill luck, an unregarded scratch on a finger that left it poisoned after an operation, and all at once he was confronted with the danger of losing his right hand. Good work had averted that; he recovered, but the poisoning left a slight stiffness of the fingers and thumb, a nervous cramp that would have meant nothing to a carpenter, but was ruin to the delicate craft of a surgeon.

The bandages were not yet off his hand when the Automotive Fuel Company collapsed, following the disappearance of Arthur Rockett, its promotor, with all the liquid assets. Lang had spent the big checks freely as they came, and his sole investment, amounting to twelve thousand dollars, was in Automotive Fuel. The company had been touted as a good thing by people who should have known better, and wiser men than Lang were bitten.

For Lang the immediate result was a bad nervous breakdown. Winter was coming on. He was ordered to seek a mild climate, a moist, relaxing atmosphere, freedom from work and worry. Eva Morrison was acquainted with all this story, except the fact of his financial collapse, and she had no idea that all he possessed in the world was some fifteen hundred dollars in the Mobile bank.

“You mustn’t give up. You mustn’t bury yourself,” she persisted.

“Why not? It’s as good a life as any, maybe. I was born here in Alabama, you know—took my first diploma in Montgomery. I know the piney-woods country, the big swamps, the bayous and the great rivers, and the queer, good, primitive people. I’ll drive a flivver over the sand roads, and hunt wild turkeys and never get my fees.”

She saw through his affected lightness, and looked at him gravely, her chin on her hands.

“Your hand will get better. Your surgery will come back.”

“Never, or perhaps in years, and what good then? A surgeon has to keep in constant practice, like a pianist.”

Failing to find him at his hotel, persistent Destiny tried again, and a page summoned Lang to the telephone. He was away only a minute, and came back with an odd smile.

“A call. A patient—the owner of a yacht out in the harbor somewhere.”

Eva made a delighted gesture, beaming suddenly.

“I declined, of course,” he added. “I referred them to another physician. I’m not practicing in Mobile.”

“But you might—you could—you’re qualified!” Eva exclaimed, bitterly disappointed. “You must be mad! A yachtsman—likely a millionaire! They’ve heard of your reputation even here.”

“But I tell you I don’t want to practice in Mobile, or in any of these towns!” Lang exclaimed, again in sudden irritation. “I dare say they have heard of me. The doctors here know my name, and I don’t want to face their sympathy for my comedown. I had enough of that in Boston—the men who had always hated me, been jealous of me, coming with their crocodile sympathy, hoping that I’d soon be fit again, and praying that they’d seen the last of me. I’d sooner bury myself, as you say.”

He checked himself, quivering, angry and ashamed at his lack of control. Sick nerves know no reason. He looked at Eva Morrison again, wondering once more how she had come so deeply into his confidence, this girl of twenty, pretty as a picture, indeed, looking at him now with grieved brown eyes. But he had known her less than a month, and what could she understand, after all?

She had been a passenger on the steamer that he boarded at Boston for Mobile. He had not remembered her at first; he did not want to know anybody; but in the inevitable companionship of shipboard she reminded him of past acquaintance. She had been a patient of his; he had treated her for some slight injury received in playing basket ball at the girls’ college she attended, and he had met her afterward at somebody’s house.

She had made no impression upon him, but somehow they drifted together in that six-day voyage, more and more together as the steamer rounded Florida and the air grew warmer and they came into the Gulf seas. She had heard of his breakdown, as he gathered; but it was not spoken of between them until afterward, in Mobile.

He had a dim impression that she was to wait in Mobile for relatives from the North who were to join her there; and Lang stopped there because he did not know where else to go. He had no plans, but it was imperative to make some at once. He thought at times of becoming a ship’s surgeon, then of retreating into the upriver woods and he came by degrees to talk over these plans with Eva, and so by degrees they arrived at this extraordinary pitch of intimacy.

A week passed, and her relatives did not arrive. She had established herself at the quiet Iberville Hotel, and Lang saw her almost daily, and often twice a day. They motored, boated together, went to the movies, dined out. Lang was by no means in love. Standing in the wreck of all his life he was far from even thinking of love, but Eva was restful and comforting and she soothed his tortured nerves and his tormented spirit.

More than once he had been suddenly angry and rude to her, as just now, and had had to apologize.

“Sorry!” he said repentantly.

She smiled with complete comprehension.

“I only wish I could influence you a little,” she said. “See, we must go. It’s past five, and look at the bay.”

The mellow, springlike Alabama autumn of the early afternoon had turned suddenly foul. Fine rain drove against the windows, and the broad surface of the bay beyond was blurred with squalls of wind and mist. They lingered, waiting for it to clear, and the small black page who had called Lang to the telephone came again behind his chair.

“Gentleman to see you, suh,” he whispered confidentially. “Same gentleman what telephoned. Mighty important, he says, suh!”

He had evidently been scientifically tipped, for, before Lang could deny himself he perceived the persistent caller at the heels of the page. He turned with some annoyance.

“I’m sure I hope you’ll excuse me, doctor, breaking in on you after what you said on the phone,” said the caller hastily. “But if I could speak to you just half a minute—— My name’s Carroll. I’m from the yacht, you know.”

He was a good-looking young fellow, considerably less than Lang’s age, brown-faced, black-haired, dressed in immaculate blue serge and fresh linen like a yachtsman; and he had a most plausible and ingratiating manner. Afterward Lang came to find the brown eyes rather hard, the lips uncertain. But their smile was winning, and it was difficult to resist Carroll’s address when he chose to please.

“Say what you like,” said Lang. “But you know I’m not practicing here. There are plenty of good physicians in Mobile.”

“Sure. Not in your class, though. We know you’re not located here—just passing through—saw it in the paper, and we simply couldn’t lose the chance of getting you. It looked providential. As for fee, you know—why we don’t mind a hundred dollars, or anything you like to name.”

“There’s no question of that,” said Lang stiffly. “What’s the matter with your patient? I couldn’t possibly operate.”

“Oh, I hope it won’t come to an operation. We don’t know what’s the matter with him. He’s kind of paralyzed—some sort of stroke, I reckon. He hasn’t moved or spoken for days, and don’t know anything. He’s on his yacht, right out in the harbor.”

Lang glanced furtively at Eva. Her eyes beamed, and she made a little surreptitious, imperative gesture: “Go—go!”

“Very well,” he decided. “How do I get aboard your yacht? I must take this lady home first, of course.”

“I can go alone,” Eva said, eagerly; but Carroll broke in with still greater alacrity.

“My taxi is waiting down below, and I’ll drive you and the lady wherever you want to go. I’ve got a motor launch near the foot of Government Street, and we’ll be aboard the yacht in no time.”

Plainly he was determined not to lose sight of his prize. Accepting his offer, they drove rapidly into town and put Eva down at her hotel, where Lang promised to come next day and report. Thence they went to Lang’s own hotel, where he secured his black medical bag and a raincoat, and then to the wharf.

Carroll’s boat was a small but speedy-looking craft, a trifle battered for a yacht’s tender, but they got aboard, Carroll started the engine, and they nosed out past a couple of moored freighters into the muddy bay. The weather had become worse, and driving sheets of mist and fine rain swept the water.

“I hope your yacht isn’t far,” said Lang uneasily.

“We’ll be there before you have time to get wet,” Carroll genially assured him.

Lang looked all about the harbor to espy the trim, white-painted craft he expected to board. The launch’s engines hummed and she gathered speed, tearing down the harbor with a sheering wave thrown from her bow. It was very wet. Lang could feel the rain dripping from his hat brim, and he humped his shoulders and stared through the gathering twilight and the mist.

They were well clear of the harbor proper. A black anchored steamer loomed up, slipped past; a couple of bare-masted schooners lay still without a sign of life aboard. Nothing was in sight ahead but another big three-master lying close to the western shore. Dimly he made out the lighted windows of the Bayview Hotel, where he had often sat with Eva.

He leaned over and spoke to his pilot with some irritation. Carroll muttered something cheerful about “There in a jiffy,” and let her out another notch.

Lang huddled in his seat, wet, uncomfortable, growing more and more uncomfortable and indignant. He was sorry he had come. The bay widened; the shores were growing invisible, and the whole waterscape was darkening rapidly.

“Look here, where are you taking me?” he broke out at last. “You said it would be only a few minutes. I’d never have come——”

“For God’s sake, shut up!” Carroll snapped back at him.

Lang subsided indignantly, unwilling to risk his dignity in altercation. Carroll suddenly sounded a siren that quavered and wailed piercingly.

Nothing answered it. Again and again the horn screamed over the turbid heave of the darkening water, and then the boat swerved in a wide curve westward.

It kept this course for more than a mile, and then began to sweep an equal curve the other way. At regular intervals Carroll blew the horn, but half an hour passed, and they had made several more great curves before a vast, hoarse roar sounded through the gloom, perhaps a mile away.

With a relieved exclamation Carroll headed the boat toward it. Nothing yet was visible, but the deep steam blast sounded again and again, always louder; and finally a spark began to show through the misty gloom ahead. It was not a ship’s side light, but it developed into a lantern swinging close to the water, and suddenly there was a loom of something huge and black moving slowly through the darkness, and he saw a spot of great rusty steel hull in the glimmer of the lantern.

Some one shouted from high above. Carroll answered, slowing down, approaching a side ladder now visible by the lantern. The big ship was barely moving, and Carroll hooked on with a practiced hand. He indicated the ladder to his passenger, and Lang, though much tempted to refuse, managed to catch it as the trailing launch heaved and fell alongside.

Dripping wet, and in a state of the most extreme irritation and disgust, he scrambled up the ladder, felt himself gripped by the arm and helped over the rail, where he almost tumbled upon the deck.

A group of men in wet, shining waterproof coats surrounded him. Carroll had scrambled up at his heels. A light was turned on somewhere.

“Here we are!” Carroll cried triumphantly. “Got him. Gentlemen—Doctor Robert Long of Chicago!”


Lang caught this amazing introduction, and if he had been less wet, less ruffled, less indignant, he would probably have instantly denied it. As it was, he shut his mouth, and limply shook hands with the three or four men who greeted him warmly.

He knew well the name of Doctor Robert Long, of course, and was thoroughly acquainted with that eminent Chicago specialist’s success in nervous diseases. The resemblance of the name to his own had caused confusion before, and now he recollected that Doctor Long was said to be spending a vacation in the South, and might really be in Mobile.

The humor of the thing suddenly quenched his wrath. He had been half kidnaped, but he had turned the joke on his captors. Let them take what they had got, he thought. He would look at their patient, charge them nothing, and go ashore again, recommending a good Mobile physician. He knew well that Doctor Long would never dream of accepting any such casual call.

He glanced sharply at the men before him, and up and down the steamer’s dim-lit deck. Scarred planking, dirty paint, rusty metal confirmed his suspicions. Whatever this ship was, she surely was no yacht. The man they called “Captain” stood at his elbow, tall, rough-featured, mustached, dripping in his wet oilskins; and another, dimly seen, showed a smooth face, owlish with large tortoise-shell glasses. Carroll stood in front, looking anxiously on. They were all waiting for him.

“Well, where’s the patient?” he said sharply.

At once they were all alert to serve him. They guided him down the stairs to the saloon—a long, dingy, shabby cabin, with grimy white paint, and the usual fixed table, chairs, and a number of stateroom doors opening from either side. There was a strong odor of cigar smoke and spirits.

“The doctor’s wet, Jerry. Give him a touch of something, can’t you?” exclaimed Carroll, bustling to take Lang’s dripping raincoat. Before Lang could decline, the captain had produced a couple of bottles from a cupboard, and was pouring strong doses into a rack of glasses on the table; and, in spite of the doctor’s abstinence, the rest of the company swallowed their drinks with alacrity.

“Better have some, doctor. It’s the good stuff. We called at Havana last week,” Carroll advised.

Lang again declined, and looked over the company as they drank standing by the table. Jerry, the captain, was tall and lean, with a long mouth, bad teeth, a truculent eye, and a seaman’s heavy, horny hands. He with the big spectacles, Lloyd or Floyd, was a smooth-faced, neatly dressed man of over thirty, cool and contemptuous looking. Carroll looked more of a gentleman than the rest of them. It was an odd company, this “yachting” crew, and Lang thought ironically of Eva’s hope that this might be the beginning of a wealthy practice.

One of the doors opened just then, and another man came out, whom he had not seen before. He came with silent swiftness like a cat, glancing furtively at the newcomer. He was not over twenty, lean and slouching, with a nervous hatchet face and a bad-colored skin. Lang recognized that skin tint that comes of cocaine and heroin. He had seen that type of youth occasionally in his hospital work, generally in connection with bullet wounds. It was not a type likely to be found at sea, he thought, the youthful dope-addicted gunman and gangster; and his presence threw a point of light, perhaps, on the whole unusual company.

Nobody introduced the young man, who slipped behind the table and poured himself a drink, then lighted a cigarette. Carroll put down his glass.

“This way, doctor,” he said, and reopened the door from which the young gunman had just emerged. Lang followed him in, and the others trooped after.

It was a rather large stateroom, painted white, with one berth, a rattan chair, and the usual basin, taps and stand. The port was open, letting in a cool, moist freshness; and Lang’s eyes instantly fixed on the berth’s occupant.

It was a big man, a man of perhaps sixty, with a great, rugged face and short, grizzled hair. His eyes were shut and sunken; he was considerably emaciated; he seemed to be asleep. A gray blanket covered him to the chin, and one huge, inanimate arm lay outside.

The physician’s instinct awoke in Lang as he bent over the cot. He touched the wrist a moment, pushed back an eyelid to look at the pupil, sniffed at the man’s lips, and took out his clinical thermometer. While it rested under the patient’s armpit he felt carefully over the skull in search of a possible wound.

“How long has he been like this?” he asked.

“Nearly a week now,” Carroll returned.

“How did it start? What brought it on? Did he have any injury—any great shock?”

“No injury. You might call it a shock, perhaps,” said Carroll. “It was ashore. He dropped like dead; we thought he was dead, at first. We brought him aboard, and now we’ve been expecting him to come to for days.”

“Can you bring him to, doctor? We’ve got to have him brought to,” put in the captain, anxiously.

“No, I can’t,” said Lang, crisply.

“He isn’t likely to die, is he?” asked Carroll.

“Extremely so.”

“Hell!” the captain exclaimed in disgust. “Can’t you do something to revive him—electricity or some kind of stimulant? We’ll send ashore for anything you need. We’ve got to wake him up, enough to talk a little anyway, before he dies. That’s what we got you here for.”

“You want me to rouse him violently, if I can. What if it cost him his life?” Lang asked quietly.

“Even at the risk of his life,” said Floyd with a sort of energetic coldness.

Lang looked curiously at the speaker, who looked back unblinking.

“No physician would attempt such a thing,” he said. “I want to give this man a thorough examination. The room’s too full. Clear it out.”

They went out obediently, and Lang sat down behind the closed door and studied the unconscious figure afresh. It was not at all his special sort of case; Long of Chicago would really have been the man, but he knew well enough how to make his diagnosis.

He tested carefully the knee jerk, the ankle clonus, all the reflexes, finding nothing out of the way; he took the pulse more carefully, listened to the breathing, and then bared the body and went over the whole surface of the skin. Several ribs had been broken within a few months, he noted, and knitted rather badly; and he discovered a large, fresh burn on the left arm, which he dressed. But these injuries could not account for this prolonged coma, and he could find no trace of others.

A tiny clot of blood on the brain surface might produce these symptoms, but only the X-ray could discover it. It might be a purely nervous case; a neurasthenia, a brain shock, such as is called shell shock in war. He felt doubtful for he had made no special study of these puzzling maladies.

And he wondered all at once why these men wished the patient to be brought to speech, even at the risk of his life.

He was aroused from his deep thought by a gust of cold wind and mist driving through the porthole. He went to close it, and saw at once that the wind must have changed—or the steamer moved. With his hand on the steel-ringed glass he paused, startled, for he could hear the thrash and beat of the propeller astern, throbbing swiftly, and he felt the vibration of the engines under his feet.

Perhaps they were heading landward, to put him ashore; but he felt a deadly certainty that it was not so. He tried the door. It was locked on the outside. He beat on the panels—louder—kicked the door and shouted. But it was fully five minutes before the door was unfastened and Carroll appeared.

“Where are we going? Are you going to land me? Let me pass!” Lang exclaimed, furiously.

“Hold on, doctor. We can’t land you right now, but—— Hold on!”

Blindly angry, and half scared as well, Lang forced past him, crossed the cabin, and rushed up to the deck.

It was dark. Spray and mist drove in the air and he could see nothing overside, but from the force and freshness of the wind, and the salty smell, and the sense of space, and the great heave and fall of the ship, he knew instantly that they were no longer in Mobile Bay, but well out to sea.

He found Carroll and the captain at his elbow, and Floyd came hurrying from forward.

“You were to put me ashore at Mobile. You’re heading out into the Gulf. Turn round at once and put me ashore!” Lang stormed.

“Don’t get excited, doctor. You’ll get ashore all right.”

“You wouldn’t leave a patient like this?”

“You’re all right here, and we’ll pay you well.”

These soothing remarks only infuriated Lang the more.

“You damned kidnapers!” he spluttered, and, his excitement getting out of control, he drove a right-hand lunge at the man nearest him.

It was the captain, who dodged it neatly, laughing. Lang smashed out at Carroll, who ducked. Three pairs of hands gripped the unfortunate physician, and urged him toward the stairway again, in spite of his kicks and struggles.

“Easy, doctor. You mustn’t beat up your officers,” they adjured him.

They were extraordinarily patient with him, though he kicked their shins and struggled in an almost foaming rage. They piloted him down the stair, through the saloon and into a stateroom, still directing upon him a stream of the most mollifying speeches.

“We had your room all ready for you, doctor,” said Carroll, as they held him pinioned in the middle of the floor. “Here’s your bag. There’s pajamas laid out on the berth, and there’s ice water and rum and soda water, and if you need anything more in the night, just shout for it. You’ll be called for breakfast. Be calm.”

They left him with a chorus of cheerful “Good nights,” and he heard the door bolt click on the outside.


Lang’s fury of wrath slowly cooled. He sat down on the berth, drank a glass of water, and eventually laughed. These fellows had taken so much trouble over him, had been so patient, and all to get the wrong man. Evidently they intended to keep him on board, still hoping that he could restore their friend to life, or at any rate to speech.

He removed his wet clothes and lay down, hardly expecting to sleep. He listened to the throb of the screw, the wash of water, the occasional trampling steps overhead. He dozed fitfully, waking with a start, listening to the sea sounds, and at last found his room suddenly flooded with light.

A brilliant reflection of sunshine from the sea came through the port. He had slept after all, and more soundly than he had done for weeks, and he had a half minute of stupid bewilderment before the full memory of his predicament came back.

He rolled out of the berth, washed, dressed hastily, and was just ending his hurried toilet when some one knocked gently, then the door opened. A tall negro, clad in soiled white, appeared in the entrance and addressed Lang with tremendous suavity.

“Good mo’nin’, doctah! De captain, he say yoh breakfus’ served any time dat yoh desires fo’ hit, doctah, suh!”

“All right!” Lang returned, and pushed past the steward into the cabin. No one was there; a white cloth was spread at one end of the table, but he made for the stairway and ran up to the deck.

A blaze of sunshine met him, and a glitter of sky and sea. The weather had cleared; the sun shone gloriously low in the east, and the ocean rippled and sparkled, frothing delicately in long, white-crowned lines. The air itself was warm, sparkling, exhilarating; it went through Lang’s system like a stimulant. No land was in sight anywhere, unless a faint cloud astern meant the coast, and at first he saw no one on the deck.

Then, walking forward, he espied the youthful gangster, in a white jersey and cloth cap, a cigarette butt in his mouth, slouching over the rail. He glanced aside at the doctor, nodded furtively, and seemed to sidle off. Close to the bow Lang now perceived a couple of negro deck hands busied over something, and two men on the bridge.

He found Carroll unexpectedly at his side, but it was no longer the dandy yachtsman of the day before. Carroll now wore a faded greenish sweater, “pin-check” trousers and soiled tennis shoes, but he greeted the physician with the same extreme amiability.

“Well, are you ready to put me ashore?” Lang demanded, with an implacable air.

“Oh, come on, now, doctor!” Carroll pleaded. “Don’t go back to that. Ain’t you comfortable here? You wouldn’t leave a sick man on our hands like that? He’s desperate sick—you said it yourself.”

“This is no yacht. Why did you say it was?” Lang pursued.

“Ain’t it? Say, Floyd, he says the Cavite ain’t a yacht,” said Carroll, addressing the spectacled member of the crew who just then sauntered up.

“Well, what’s a yacht?” Floyd returned. “The Cavite isn’t anything else in particular, and she’s got no business, and she isn’t going anywhere, and what’s that but a yacht?”

“No business? Nothing in wet goods?” inquired Lang.

“I don’t know what you mean,” returned Carroll blankly. “Had breakfast? We told the steward to call you. No? Come down and eat, then. A man shouldn’t talk on an empty stomach—apt to say things he don’t mean.”

Lang had had no supper the previous night, and he felt very empty. It was not a breakfast to be despised, he found, when the suave steward produced it.

When he had finished he stepped into the sick room to glance at his patient. There was no change, except that they had turned the man over for greater comfort. Lang stood looking down at that massive, powerful, oblivious countenance, and went back to the saloon with his resolution fixed.

“What do you think? Is there any chance?” demanded Carroll anxiously.

“I think that you know more about this case than I do,” said Lang. “I can’t find any physical cause for his condition. Before I go any further I’ll have to know the history of the case—just what happened to him; how he came into this state. I want to know who this man is, and”—he hesitated, and then went on firmly—“why you are so anxious for him to speak before he dies.”

Floyd blew a cloud of smoke, and glanced at the physician with a queerly mocking eye.

“I’m not surprised that you’re curious,” said Carroll directly. “It must look a queer mess, to an outsider. We talked it all over last night, and agreed that you’d have to be told sooner or later.”

He stopped and glanced at Floyd’s imperturbable face.

“You’ll pledge yourself to the strictest secrecy, now and afterward?” he said.

“A physician doesn’t make such pledges,” said Lang stiffly. “His patients trust him, or they don’t.”

“Oh, we trust you, all right, doctor,” Carroll hastened to say. “It’s a matter of professional honor; we’ll leave it at that. This man——” He hesitated again. “Did you ever hear of the Automotive Fuel Company of New Jersey?”

Lang barely repressed a startled movement.

“I have,” he said calmly.

“Arthur Rockett, its president, wrecked it, and disappeared with around a quarter of a million.”

“So I have heard. But what has that to do with this case?”

“Just this,” said Carroll, motioning toward the stateroom door. “That man in there—that’s Arthur Rockett.”

Lang’s brain suddenly seemed to swim slightly, yet he controlled his voice.

“Are you sure?” he said. “Rockett was supposed to have got away to South America.”

“Absolutely sure,” said Floyd, with his voice of cold certainty. “I’ve seen him often enough in New York to know him. I ought to—I had twenty thousand dollars in his cursed company.”

“And I lost all I had saved up,” put in Carroll eagerly. “It wasn’t so much—only about seven thousand dollars. Rockett broke us all, the captain, too. Jerry had to mortgage his ship.”

“And your young friend in the white sweater?” Lang inquired. “Has he lost his savings, too?”

Floyd smiled faintly.

“That’s Louie Bonelli—‘Louie the Lope,’ they call him in Harlem. No, I don’t think Louie ever had any savings, but he’s been very useful to us, as you’ll see, and he’s going to share with the rest of us.”

Lang leaned back, trying to look indifferent. He had never seen the fraudulent promoter, whose flight had taken all his own savings, but he had seen newspaper portraits, and he vaguely remembered an elderly man with a heavy, big-boned countenance, who might very well be this very man aboard the Cavite. This unconscious patient of his had a strong, audacious face, such as would have fitted the great wrecker.

“Dr. Long,” said Floyd impressively, “all we want is justice. We only want to get our own back. We never expected to get a dollar out of it. It came by chance. Carroll and I were in New York. Louie was down around New Orleans, for reasons best known to himself, and he happened to spot Rockett at Pass Christian.

“All the cops were sure he’d left the country, but he hadn’t. He’d grown a little beard, and browned his face and arms, and he had a bungalow and a fruit-and-truck ranch on the Gulf coast, and he dressed in overalls and really worked at his fig trees and orange grove. He must have had it all ready for months before, and it was the best sort of hide out, considering the sort of high roller he’d been up North—a spender, a prince, a man who couldn’t walk but had a new car every week.

“Louie wasn’t quite certain, but he sent for Carroll and me, and we came down. It was Rockett, right enough. Then we called in Jerry Harding, who was running his little freighter along the coast. We held a council. We knew Rockett had his plunder planted somewhere, and was lying low till the storm blew over a little. Well, what do you suppose we’d do? What would you’ve done yourself? Have him arrested, and take a chance of getting a dividend among the creditors—five cents on the dollar? We didn’t see it that way. We studied his movements, his way of life. We hauled the ship close inshore one night, went up to his shack, and held him up. He lived all alone, and it was a mile to the next house. We put it to him—what was he going to do about it? All we wanted was what we’d lost. He could keep the rest, for us.

“He was as stubborn as the devil. Can’t you see it in his face? He denied that he was Rockett, denied everything. Finally he turned silent, and wouldn’t speak at all. So we gave him the third degree.”

“You mean you tortured him?” cried Lang, remembering the burn upon Rockett’s arm.

“I wouldn’t call it torture, exactly. Louie did it. We worked over him nearly all night. Maybe Louie got a little too rough at the last. We were all rather on edge. Anyhow, all at once he heaved up out of the chair where he was tied, and went over sidewise on the floor.

“He seemed to be stunned, but he didn’t come to. We tried everything, but no use. It was getting daylight and we were afraid to wait any longer; so we searched the house without finding anything, and brought him on board here.”

“We expected him to wake up any minute,” Carroll went on, as Floyd stopped. “We watched him day and night. We knew he couldn’t really be hurt. We tried an electric battery—thought he might be shamming. Then we got scared that he was going to die on us. He seemed to be getting weaker; twice we thought he’d passed out. We couldn’t let him die till we found out where he’d planted the stuff. So it looked like a godsend when we heard that you were in Mobile, and read about the great work you’d done on just such cases.”

“Yes, we were at our wits’ end, doctor,” said Floyd. “You mustn’t hold a grudge against us for half kidnaping you. Really it’s a compliment. And you won’t lose anything. If you can help us, and get Rockett to talk, and we find out what he’s done with his loot—why, you can ask for what you like, and get it.”

They fixed intense eyes on the doctor. Lang shrugged his shoulders.

“I can’t revive him, not at this stage anyway,” he said. “I couldn’t if I would, and I wouldn’t try.”

“But we’ve got to make him talk!” cried Carroll. “What’s the chance that he’ll come round?”

“About an even chance, I should think, whether he gradually improves, or gradually sinks and dies without ever regaining consciousness. Of course a moment might come when he could be revived with stimulants—you can’t predict in these cases.”

“But you won’t desert us?” Floyd pleaded. “You’ll see us through?”

Lang puffed his cigar, as if thinking about it. But he was not in any doubt. It was the most stupendous piece of luck, and Eva Morrison had been more than right when she urged him to accept this call.

Not that he believed half the story. He did not believe that any of this ship’s company had ever owned Rockett’s stock. They did not look like an investing class. Somehow they must have discovered Rockett’s hiding place, and were trying to “hijack” him; or they might have been Rockett’s own confederates, now turned against him. But however this might be, Lang was determined not to let Arthur Rockett out of his sight.

“It’s an interesting sort of case,” he said, with admirable detachment. “Yes, I’ll stay with you till he speaks—or dies.”


So began Lang’s strangest professional experience. He got rid of his companions as soon as he could, returned to the hospital room, and studied the unconscious man with a doubled and most passionate interest. He could see no change in his condition; but he set himself to make a fresh and even more careful examination, recording temperature, blood pressure, pulse, reflex action on a sort of chart which he pinned to the wall for continual reference. When he had finished he pondered a long time, unable to make up his mind whether the state of coma was the result of some injury he had not discovered, or whether it was pure shock, neurasthenic paralysis, brought about by the strain of the “third degree.” Neither theory was quite justified by the symptoms, and Lang even considered the possibility that the unconsciousness was shammed, but this was incredible. To feign a week of complete paralysis would require a nerve control simply superhuman.

He went on deck afterward, still turning over the problem in his mind. He encountered Carroll, who took him up to the bridge, where Captain Harding kept a negligent watch, with a negro quartermaster at the wheel. Louie presently crept up the iron ladder also, looking silent and furtive as usual, and then Floyd came with a bottle of rum and a pitcher of fresh orange juice. It appeared that the bridge was the accustomed lounging place, for within half an hour the engineer off duty appeared also. He was a sallow man in grimy overalls, whom Lang had not previously seen. He stayed only a few minutes, however.

The rest drank their rum and chatted openly, since it was understood that Lang had thrown in his lot with them. They were all deeply disappointed that by some medical miracle Rockett could not be suddenly jerked back into consciousness. In fact, they still hoped for some such performance, and seemed to take it for granted that Rockett could be induced to part with the desired information as soon as his speech was restored. But Lang was doubtful. The face of the old wrecker was not that of a man easy to coerce.

“That bird’s got two hundred grand planted somewheres,” Louie muttered. “Leave me alone wit’ him, and I’ll make him talk.”

And suppose Rockett talked—suppose the plunderer recovered—what would become of Rockett then? Lang had already judged his shipmates to the point of believing that a dark night at sea and a man overboard might solve the difficulty.

And his own position, for that matter, might prove difficult, in spite of all the lavish promises of the gang, when the time came for Rockett to speak or die.

But for the present he was safe enough, and the ship’s company cherished him like gold. He felt in better health and spirits than for a long time. A new thrill of adventure entered into him. He had been violently wrenched away from the consideration of his own misfortunes, into a dangerous game whose stake might be anything, and his spirit had reacted to it. He thought with vivid anticipation of the tale he would have to tell Eva Morrison when he should at last present his promised report.

He lounged about the Cavite’s decks, trying to kill time, and his mind reverted much to Miss Morrison. He missed her extraordinarily. It was wonderful how, within but a few days, she had come to be a comrade whom it was hard to lose even temporarily. Of course he was not in love with her. In the desperate condition of his affairs it was no time to think of love, much less of marriage. Hard work and hard struggle must be his program for the coming years. And then it crossed his mind that if he recovered his twelve thousand dollars he could really think of love and marriage, too. It would be a very respectable starting capital for a country doctor.

But it was not a middle-aged wreck that Eva Morrison was destined to marry. He was startled at his own chain of thought, and went again to look at Rockett. The defaulter lay motionless, breathing slowly, unchanged in anything. Lang touched the grizzled head that must hold the secret of so much rascality and so much money.

“If you die, you’re dead. If you wake up and talk you’ll be murdered,” he murmured. “Better stay just as you are, my friend.”

He went back to the deck and basked in the fresh, warm sea air and the sun. It was hard to kill time on the Cavite. There seemed to be no books of any sort on board, but finally he discovered a pile of tattered old magazines in the cabin, and languidly turned them over in his deck chair. Every hour or so he visited his patient, without ever discovering any change. He dozed a little in the sun. Carroll and Harding seemed to spend most of the day on the bridge. Floyd disappeared into his cabin; and from time to time he caught sight of Louie prowling about the ship on affairs of his own, silent, secret, venomous.

There was a game of poker in the cabin that night, in which they all took part but Lang, leaving the steamer apparently in charge of the negro crew. Lang watched the game for some time, and went to bed late, but throughout the night he heard fitfully the mutter of voices, the rustle and click of cards and chips, the ring of glasses, and once the sound of a sudden, sharp altercation, which was immediately stilled.

They were a rather weary and heavy-eyed crew at breakfast. Carroll told him afterward that Floyd had won heavily; that he almost always won; that Louie was a bad-tempered loser, and that they always had to take his gun away from him when they played cards.

After breakfast Lang again visited his patient, and methodically took pulse and temperature, recording them on the chart. He looked again into the blind eyes, tested the reflexes, and found no change. He had been turned over, and that was all. Some one visited him periodically, every hour or two, Carroll had said, in hopes of a change, and this had been kept up day and night ever since he came on board.

That day was very much a duplicate of the one before it. The ship’s company left him to himself. Carroll invited him to the bridge, but he did not care for these rum gatherings, and declined, lounging in his deck chair, smoking, meditating. The company gathered for dinner and scattered again; and the Cavite continued to plow forward, at half speed, through ever-bluer seas where porpoises plunged looping, and flights of flying fish glittered past. They were heading nowhere. It was a real yachting cruise after all, Lang thought, complicated with medicine and something like piracy.

It turned hazy toward sunset and they ran into fog. All the same there was poker in the cabin that evening, though to Lang it seemed monstrous that the navigation of the ship should be abandoned to an ordinary sailor in such weather. It was hot and damp; the cabin reeked with whisky and tobacco smoke, and when Lang went on deck about nine o’clock he found the air close and muggy, and so dense with fog that each of the ship’s lights glowed in a cottony ball of vapor.

He looked on at the card players for an hour, tried to read, went on deck again, took a last look at Rockett, and finally went to his berth, trying to believe that Jerry Harding knew his business.

The noise of the gamblers beyond the door kept him awake for some time, but he slept soundly at last. A frightful roar awakened him that seemed to shake the whole earth. It was their own siren, blowing appallingly up above, and he heard startled exclamations in the saloon, a crash of glasses upset, and a rush of feet to the deck.

The next moment another steam whistle mixed with the bellowing uproar of their own—right overhead, too, it seemed—and as Lang jumped from his berth he was pitched across the stateroom by a terrific shock.

The floor tilted under him, heeling over, over, till it seemed as if the ship were capsizing. He heard a tumult of yelling that seemed over him, under, he knew not where. And then, with a terrible grinding and rending, the Cavite reeled back to an even keel, and he heard a great splashing of water.

Lang righted himself, too, pulled on trousers and coat and rushed out and up, barefooted, to the deck. The ship’s electric lights went suddenly out, flickered, and then shone again. He could still hear an uncertain throbbing of the engines.

A dark scrimmage of men surged over the deck, apparently to no purpose. The fog hung blindingly close, but perhaps a quarter of a mile away loomed and shone a vast glare of white light. It was the vessel that had run into them, her outlines invisible in the fog. He could hear her steam blowing off with a roar, and even the sound of furious shouting aboard her; but she showed nothing but the diffused glow of all her lights.

The Cavite was still moving ahead slowly, under her momentum now, for her engines had stopped. Lang could hear water cascading into her. It sounded as if she had been cut half in two. She was lower in the water already; and Lang suddenly remembered his patient below, who was likely to be drowned like a rat in his berth.

He rushed down to the cabin again. The lights were out, and he slipped on spilled liquor and scattered cards, and groped into the hospital stateroom. At the door he stopped short, as if he saw a resurrection from the dead.

Rockett was sitting up, on the edge of the berth. There was a dim glow in the room from the porthole. He was moving; he seemed to be trying to get to his feet.

The next instant it flashed upon Lang that the shock of the collision had worked a miracle; had startled the stunned nerves out of their paralysis. He rushed to the berth and seized the man around his big chest.

“Are we—going down?” he heard a thick, lifeless whisper.

“I think so,” said Lang, too flurried to realize the queerness of the colloquy. “You must get on deck. Here, lean on me. Can you stand?”

“Hold on,” said Rockett, in his thick mutter. “Got to—beat these pirates. Listen—you know—north of Persia——”

“Do you want to tell me where you’ve hidden the money? Be quick!” said Lang sharply.

“Wait. Six to—nine. Twelve o’clock. Remember—noon——”

A rush of feet outside, and Carroll plunged into the room. He stopped short with an astounded cry, as Lang had done.

“By God, he’s alive! He spoke. I heard him. What did he say?”

“Delirious. Raving,” Lang snapped. “Here, help me get him on deck.”

A sudden wild stampede of yelling men thundered across the deck overhead. There was no time for talk. Between them they gripped the big man around the body, and half dragged, half carried him across the cabin. He was enormously heavy, and seemed to sag back into paralysis again, so that it was with the utmost breathless straining that they got him up the stairs to the deck, where all hell seemed to have broken loose.

The other steamer, more distant now, had turned a searchlight on her victim, dimly illumining the Cavite’s decks, and began to sound her roaring siren again, as in desperate signaling. Lang’s first glance saw the black water. It seemed almost up to the level of his feet.

A dark scrimmage of men was surging about the motor launch that was hoisted in amidships. They hacked savagely at the tackle, with curses and shrieks, black faces and white, a shifting, squirming medley. Lang caught a glimpse of Harding hitting out. Knives flashed. A figure in a white sweater was shot out of the mob, falling on the deck. Louie raised his arm and projected two tiny red flashes, the reports drowned by the uproar.

Then the motor boat went over with a great splash, and the wave of its launching surged over the Cavite’s deck.

“Keep out of that. This way!” Carroll was saying, dragging him toward the other side.

Here hung the other boat, seldom used, and forgotten at the moment. Letting go Rockett, Carroll strove to loosen the tackle, which seemed jammed. The Cavite lurched heavily forward. A surge seemed to wash clear over her.

Lang snatched a life belt and slipped it over Rockett’s shoulders. He could see no other. Carroll was still wrenching desperately and swearing at the boat. Leaning heavily on his shoulder, Rockett muttered hoarsely in Lang’s ear.

“I’m going under. Remember—I trust you. Go to—my house north of Persia. See six and nine—the digger—twelve o’clock. Noon. Remember—the negro digger——”

The whole deck suddenly tilted forward as the ship plunged bow first, till Rockett and Lang tumbled together down the slope into black water. Lang went under, came up, but Rockett had gone. Everything was black, and in terror of being drawn down with the sinking ship he struck out desperately, blindly.

He was no great swimmer, but he made headway with sheer energy. He found himself suddenly clear of the ship. A long way behind him she towered up, standing on end, her stern rising yards into the fog, towering like a skyscraper, as she hung balanced before finally sinking. He saw the rusty hull, the screw, the rudder hanging high overhead. He took it all in with one terrified glance, and the same glance showed him a floating object a yard away, a big deck chair which he gripped.

The next minute the nightmare figure of the steamer plunged down, in a vast flood that seemed to carry him with it. He clung like death to the wooden chair frame, almost beaten out of consciousness, holding his breath, hardly realizing it at last when he found himself afloat again. A heavy swell went over him; another heaved him and dropped him; and his misted eyes saw again the great blurred glow of the strange steamer, much more distant now, and all around him a frothing welter.

He still held the chair, but he was almost too weak to cling to it. Boats would be coming, he knew; he had only to keep afloat a few minutes more. The swell of the Cavite’s sinking was subsiding, but his hands slipped from the chair frame; he almost went under, recovered himself with a wild clutch, almost gave up hope. Dimly he heard a shout. Something was floating within a few feet. It was an overturned boat, with a man dimly outlined astride the keel. Lang could never have reached it unaided, but somehow, he knew not how, he found himself supported, assisted, half dragged upon the rounded boat keel.

“Where’s Rockett?” his rescuer shouted in his ear. It was only then that he recognized Carroll, but Lang was too exhausted to do more than shake his head feebly.


Late the next afternoon they were taken into Gulfport on board a Grand Cayman schooner laden with Jamaica timber.

What had become of Rockett, or of any of the rest of the Cavite’s crew they had not the slightest idea. From the upturned boat the sea was a blur of fog. They must have been drifting with some current, for the far-away steamer seemed continually to grow more distant. Expecting her boats, they shouted with what faint voice they could muster; but nothing came of it. If she had sent boats they were invisible; and after nearly an hour they heard the starting of the steamer’s engines, and her pale glow melted into distance.

Tropical though the latitude was, it seemed bitterly cold that night. Lang wore only a coat and trousers over his sleeping suit, and he felt numbed and stiff to the bone. He might have perished, but Carroll, who was fully dressed, had a pocket flask of rum, and pulled him periodically back to life with fiery sips. The bottom of the boat was a most awkward refuge, for they were in constant danger of slipping off; and once Lang, faint and dozing, did go into the sea, to be hauled out again by his companion.

That night seemed longer to Lang than all the rest of his life. The shore seemed a remote impossibility, but he did not know that much-frequented part of the Gulf. When the sun rose there were no less than three ships in sight, all miles away, indeed, but the sight of them was enough to put heart into him, together with the warming effect of the strong sunshine. Carroll, who had expected rescue, was not surprised; and seemed only impatient at the delay before the Grand Cayman schooner came alongside, and her crew with the kindliest solicitude took them aboard, and appropriated the Cavite’s boat as salvage.

During that endless, freezing, hopeless night the two castaways had scarcely exchanged a dozen phrases, yet Lang’s mind had continually reverted in a numb way to Rockett’s last incomprehensible words. “Twelve o’clock—nine and six—the negro digger——” There was no sense in it, and yet the defaulter had evidently been trying to convey some meaning. His house—to the north of Persia—what could that have to do with Automotive Fuel? No meaning could be tortured out of it, and yet Lang’s dazed mind circled round and round the insoluble problem.

But on the schooner, warmed and fed and smoking a Jamaica cigar, he conceived more hope. Rockett had said he trusted him—Heaven knew why! He had said to go “to his house,” and Lang determined to go, if he could find out where that house was. Yes, and he would be there at noon, at nine and at six, and see what these mystic hours might bring.

He turned this over in his mind while, with his surface faculties, he idly discussed with Carroll the probable fate of their shipmates. They had no idea whether the motor boat had been successfully launched, or whether any one had escaped in it. As for Rockett, his fate was hardly even doubtful. Unless picked up at once he could never have survived the plunge and exposure.

“He did speak, you know,” said Carroll suddenly. “I heard him say something to you. What was it?”

Lang felt no call to share his knowledge, such as it was, nor his shadowy theories.

“Clean out of his head, apparently,” he replied. “He muttered about the time of day—said it was nine o’clock and six and noon at his house in the north of Persia. And something about a negro. Has he ever been in Persia?”

Carroll seemed to reflect, and observed Lang’s face with a sidelong glance.

“Persia was Rockett’s post office,” he said at last. “It’s a country store west of Gulfport and about a mile north of the coast road. He lived about two miles north of Persia. We went up the bayou in the launch on our visit; it took us within a hundred yards of his house.”

“A shack and a truck farm, you said?” remarked Lang, trying to look indifferent to this priceless information.

“A little bungalow, rather neat, painted brown with green trimmings. It had an iron fence in front and two magnolia trees at the gate, and a grove of small orange trees at one side. There was a little garage with a Ford in it, too. We left it there.”

“I suppose all that will be sold for the benefit of the creditors,” said Lang.

“I suppose so, if they ever discover that Rockett was the truck farmer. It may be a long time before it’s noticed that the house is deserted. Few people come that way, and the next house is a mile or more away.”

Lang was afraid to fish for more information lest he rouse Carroll’s suspicion. They continued to chat at random, of the Cavite, of her crew, of the failure of their whole scheme, to which Carroll now seemed entirely resigned. They sighted land about the middle of the afternoon, and it was toward sunset when the good sea Samaritans put them ashore on the lumber wharves at Gulfport, refusing any suggestion of reward.

In fact, Lang had only fifteen dollars, which happened by luck to be in his trousers pocket, and he urgently needed to buy a shirt, collar, hat and footwear, though the sailors had given him a worn-out pair of tennis shoes. He walked with Carroll from the water front up to the main street, and there they halted.

“Well, it’s all over,” said Carroll. “I’m going to New Orleans. What do you do? I suppose you’ve lots of friends who’ll be worrying about your disappearance, and medical societies and meetings waiting for you to give them speeches, Doctor Long.”

Lang softened a little to that parting smile. After all, they had been through peril together, and Carroll had almost, if not quite, saved his life after the shipwreck.

“I’m not Doctor Long,” he said with unpremeditated frankness.

Carroll’s expression hardened. He fixed Lang with a sudden, intense stare.

“Then who the devil are you?”

Lang explained briefly, almost apologetically.

“The most curious thing,” he finished, “is that I’m really one of Rockett’s creditors myself. I’ve got twelve thousand dollars of Automotive Fuel certificates in my trunk. You can imagine how interested I was, then, when you——”

Carroll listened, and then exploded into the most uncontrollable laughter.

“Double crossed, by gad!” he ejaculated, choking. “What a—a stroke of luck! You one of Rockett’s suckers? But say, it’s a good thing you didn’t let it out on board that I’d brought the wrong man. Louie’d have put a bullet into me.”

“It made no difference, after all.”

“Not a bit. Lang or Long, it’s all the same, and it’s all over now, and no harm done to anybody, except that we’re all out the money we might have got. But mind, not a word, now! Professional secrecy, you know.”

“Trust me,” said Lang. “I’m not proud of the affair.”

Carroll shook hands with him and went off, still laughing. Lang proceeded to make his few purchases, secured a room at a cheap hotel, where he made himself as presentable as he could, and had himself shaved. He thought of wiring to Eva Morrison, but reflected that he would surely see her the next day. He dined at the hotel, a much worse meal than he had been accustomed to aboard the Cavite, strolled about the street for an hour, and found himself dead weary.

He went to bed before nine o’clock, unstrung and exhausted. He would have to get up long before daylight, he knew, for he was determined to be at Rockett’s bungalow, “north of Persia,” from six to nine.

He needed sleep, but sleep would not come. By fits and starts he dozed, waking from nightmares of the wreck and horrible suggestions of incomprehensible peril, hearing again Rockett’s thick mutter in the darkness, feeling the heave of the drifting boat. Toward morning he did sleep soundly for an hour or two, awakening in terror that he had overslept, but a struck match showed him that it was hardly four o’clock by the dollar watch he had bought the evening before.

He got up wearily, feeling now that he could sleep forever. He dressed and went downstairs, and out upon the dead and deserted streets. An all-night lunch room provided him with breakfast, and, feeling a trifle refreshed, he boarded the west-bound inter-urban electric car that skirts the coast between Biloxi and New Orleans.

He was the only passenger, and he dozed again in his seat, until the conductor told him where to get off for Persia. The east was turning pale as he started up the road leading inland, a sandy road in the twilight, plunging apparently into a dense forest. It turned out merely a belt of swamp bordering a deep, narrow bayou, very likely the one which Carroll’s crew had ascended to reach Rockett’s dwelling. Beyond it the road ascended a little, and the air grew momentarily more transparent. The wayside objects came out ghostly, then solidly, trees, scattered shacks, trim bungalows at far intervals; then in the gray light Lang perceived a wayside store, shuttered and sleeping, with two or three small houses close by.

This must be Persia, and beyond it the dwellings grew more rare. There were strips of pine woods, stretches of peach orchard, fields of last fall’s cornstalks or cotton shrubs, silent and dewy in the pallid daybreak. Lang’s blood quickened and his spirits rose as he tramped on through the intense freshness of the air. Incredible possibilities rose in his mind; things that he might unearth at “six, nine and twelve o’clock,” and he glanced every few minutes at his watch to make sure that he was going to be in time.

He passed a belt of tall, long-leaf pines, stately as palms, a quarter of a mile of desolate, picked cotton bushes, and then he halted, with a sudden catch of his breath.

It must be the place. There was the iron fence, the two magnolia trees at the gate, the plantation of small orange trees, and, fifty feet back from the road, a trim brown bungalow with green doors and window casings as it had been described to him. All the blinds were drawn; it looked empty and dead. But, for that matter, so had all the houses he had passed.

Lang glanced furtively up and down the road, and stepped inside the gate. He felt uncommonly like a criminal as he skulked up the walk, and stepped on the veranda, shooting scared glances in every direction. It took all his nerve to lay hold of the door-knob. It gave; he drew a hard breath, opened the door, whipped inside, and closed it quickly after him.

He was in a small square hall, almost entirely dark, with a door dimly visible on each side. He listened; the house was dead silent. He cautiously pushed open the door at his right.

The air was heavy and rank with stale cigar smoke. All the blinds were close drawn, and the room was dim, but he knew at once that he had come to the right place.

Apparently this was the dining room, square, well furnished, but in great disorder. The round table was shoved back against a wall, and smeared with cigar ash. The rug was kicked into a heap; the sideboard’s drawers stood wide open, half their contents on the floor. A paper rack, a shelf of books, had been thrown pell-mell; and the brick open hearth held a pile of wood ashes and was littered with innumerable cigar stubs.

“This must be where they questioned him—tortured him,” Lang reflected, picturing that scene of ten days ago; and then beyond he saw the open door of the bedroom where they must have awakened him.

The bed was tumbled back, as Rockett must have been dragged out, with a flash light and a pistol in his face. A lamp stood on the small table, with a pipe, a pouch, a turned-down book—a work on geology, as he noticed with surprise. This room also had been ransacked, the bureau drawers emptied on the floor, the clothes closet turned out, with the contents of a trunk and a couple of suit cases in a huge, mixed heap of clothing and all sorts of miscellanies.

Beyond the dining room was the kitchen, into which he merely glanced. Returning to the hall, he opened the other door, which let him into a room containing little furniture beyond a tripod easel and a palette lying beside it, smeared with caked colors, a chair or two and a table littered with paint tubes, brushes and all the apparatus of an artist. On the walls were pinned a score or so of sketches, not clearly visible in the curtained room, but each of them bore a numbered paper label, as if in reference to a catalogue.

Lang was astonished to find that Rockett had dabbled in art, but the room contained nothing of significance. Beyond it was another bedroom, torn pell-mell like the first.

The crew of the Cavite had found nothing, nor did Lang, and he did not clearly know what he had expected to find. He went back through the other side of the house, into the kitchen, and let himself out the back door to have a look at the exterior.

The air was wonderfully sweet after the foulness of the close rooms. The yard was of smooth, hard sand, running over to a row of peach trees, with a long strawberry plot beyond it, and the orange grove lay beyond. A bed of brilliant cannas grew by the house, and a driveway led toward the rear, to a small garage, empty now, with wide-open doors.

There was a shed with a quantity of gardening tools. Farther back stood an unusually large wild-orange tree, with dozens of the glowing golden globes still hanging in the glossy foliage. Beyond it stood two cement posts, perhaps intended for a future gateway, each overgrown with a climbing rose vine; but the earth between them had been made into a bed of winter lettuce, just sprouting aboveground.

Lang glanced at his watch, and saw that it was five minutes to six. He darted back into the house, sat down in the dining room and waited, almost holding his breath, watch in hand.

The pointer crept slowly past the XII on the dial. Five minutes past—ten. The silence hung dead. Nothing happened. He did not see how anything could happen in this deserted house, but he sat, still waiting, though he put the watch away, till suddenly he had a revelation.

He saw the negro digger!

It hung on the wall in front of him, over the mantel, in a brown frame. It was a vigorous, if somewhat crudely painted sketch in oils of a negro laborer, barearmed and barenecked, up to his waist in a hole in the earth. An orange tree full of fruit was over his head; on either side was a pillar thick with climbing roses. He was looking upward at the sun with a pleased grin, and the title was painted on the picture frame: “Twelve o’clock.”

Time for dinner; that point was plain enough. Plain enough, too, was the scene—the cement gateposts Lang had seen behind the house. With a glimpse of the reality, he rushed into the studio room again, pulled up the curtains, and looked at the sketches numbered from six to nine. They all represented the same spot in the garden, from different angles, but without the digger.

Lang caught the hint, unmistakable now. He ran back for another look at the digger, then burst out through the kitchen into the garden. He seized a spade and pick in the tool shed, hurried to the rose-crowned posts, and began to dig between them.

The earth was soft and sandy, easy digging. He threw it out furiously, going down a couple of feet without striking anything but stones. Then he lengthened the excavation like a trench and got into it, using the pick now. He went another foot deeper, sweating and excited, and then the tool struck something hard, and slipped. He had it uncovered in another moment; it seemed black and square, and, getting the spade under it, he heaved it out.

It was a metal box, about a foot square and six inches deep, one of those sheet-steel boxes used for valuables. He heard something rattle inside it, but it was not very heavy; and it was disappointingly evident at once that it could never hold all the plunder Rockett was said to have carried away. It was locked, of course. He fumbled with it for a moment, and then, becoming conscious that he was in full view of the road, he hastened into the house to examine it.

He put it on the kitchen table, and brushed off the clinging earth. The lock did not look very elaborate, and he took out his own bunch of keys that had luckily stayed safe in his trousers pocket all through the wreck, and began to try one after another.

One of them almost fitted. He could feel the lock give, but it stuck. He was twisting it to and fro, wholly absorbed in the effort, when the front door of the house suddenly, sharply opened and shut again.

Every atom of breath seemed to leave his body. He sat benumbed with fright, as paralyzed as Rockett himself had been, unable to get up, or escape or try to conceal the box. A quick step crossed the dining room; the door opened, and Carroll stepped into the kitchen, surveying Lang smilingly and without surprise.


The blood rushed through Lang’s veins again. His face, which had been cold, felt suddenly flaming.

“Just as I expected,” said Carroll. “I see you’ve found his cache. Don’t look like much, does it?”

“So you trailed me out here?” Lang found voice to say.

“Not at all. I didn’t trail you. I was sure you’d be here early this morning. Of course I knew the old man passed some kind of tip to you. That was why I was so careful to tell you just how to find the house. Didn’t have any trouble, did you?”

Lang had a humiliating consciousness that he had been played with, and he kept angrily silent.

“Let’s have a look at it,” Carroll continued, coming to the table. “Keys won’t open it? Let me try.”

He fumbled with the lock for half a minute and gave it up. Searching about the kitchen he found a heavy steel screw driver, and by inserting the blade at the back he was able to break a hinge. The other followed, and the lid swung open, still held by the lock.

Together they peered in eagerly. Lang had had visions of bales of yellow-backed notes, but there was nothing of the sort in sight. There were a few envelopes like old letters, a thick package of engraved documents resembling bonds, a couple of smaller packages, and several lumps of metallic-looking rock.

Lang snatched out the larger bundle. The papers were not even bonds. They were stock certificates—hundred-dollar shares in the Yuma Southwestern Oil Company, a name which he had never heard, but which had a most worthless sound. The ten thousand dollars’ worth of scrip was probably worth less than as many cents.

Carroll glanced briefly at the certificates, smiled, and went on examining the other parcels. One was a package of small water-color drawings, apparently by Rockett’s own hand, depicting a series of rocky and forbidding coast scenes. Another packet contained photographs of much the same sort of landscapes; the third had negatives, in labeled groups, and the odd envelopes held more sketches, photographs, and a couple of rough sketch maps.

Lang was bitterly disappointed. There was no value in the whole box. He had approached burglary for no reward. Carroll looked up with a smile at his disgust.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he remarked. “I never expected to find much plunder planted here, anyway. Let’s see that stock again. Gad! that old man always was lucky. He must have had a private tip. Bought it outright, too.”

“It isn’t worth anything, is it?”

“It’s worth what it’ll bring. It was selling at around twenty-five a few months ago, when Rockett must have picked it up. The last I heard, it was about sixty. It’s a manipulated stock, fixed to sky-rocket and then break, I guess.”

“This block of stock may be worth six thousand dollars, then?” said Lang, with more interest.

“Can’t say. It mayn’t be worth anything. We must see a broker about it right away.”

He crammed the sketches and photographs into his pockets, and tipped up the box. Nothing was left but the bits of rock, dark stones bearing greenish crystalline veins and nodules. Carroll looked at them with a good deal of interest, and pocketed them with the rest.

“Some sort of specimens, I suppose,” he commented. “The old man was bugs on rocks, I’ve heard. You can keep the valuables and I’ll take charge of this truck. Let’s get out of here.”

Lang was overjoyed to get out of there. He was in terror lest some one else should enter unawares. He had cold chills at the thought of being arrested for housebreaking, a newspaper exposure, his career doubly ruined. He tucked the stock certificates in his inside pocket, and after reconnoitering the road they slipped out and started for the Gulf coast shell road.

It was still early morning when they reached the electric car line and rode into Biloxi; and still early in the day when the railway placed them again in Mobile. Carroll was impatient to visit a brokerage office at once; he knew the cashier at Norcross & Dixon’s, he said; but Lang insisted on a delay while he revisited his hotel room and changed his water-stained suit, had a shave and his shoes shined, put on a better hat, and made himself look fit for business negotiations. Afterward he congratulated himself a thousand times on this forethought.

Norcross & Dixon dealt principally in cotton and grain, and there was a flurry on the cotton exchange that day. The customers’ room was crowded; prices were rushing up. Farmers, planters, smart city men, shabby hangers-on, bulls all of them, watched the blackboard and applauded wildly at every advance, and the wires to New Orleans were hot with orders.

Lang looked on while Carroll went to find the cashier he knew, and presently Carroll came back and conducted him to Mr. Dixon’s office. The broker was a little dapper man, with a pointed black beard, and a dry, punctilious manner. He looked wary and nervous and tired, and he acknowledged the introduction curtly.

“How’s Yuma Oil?” Carroll inquired.

“It closed yesterday at 63; opened this morning at 60-1/2. It’s now at”—he went to look at the ticker—“the last quotation was 59-3/4.”

“We want to sell,” said Carroll promptly.

“It’s a lively proposition just now. I’d have to ask ten or fifteen points margin.”

“Oh, we’ve got the certificates,” Carroll returned. “Get them out, doctor.”

Lang had not expected to be rushed into action so quickly. He produced the stock reluctantly.

“I don’t know—what would you advise?” he hesitated.

“Oh, you’ve got the scrip,” said the broker, flipping the papers over. “A hundred. If you want to sell you’d better be quick. We never advise our customers. We only give them the facts as we see them. But the bottom’s dropping right out of it.”

Still wavering uneasily, Lang gave the order to sell.

There was nothing then but to wait till it was executed. They lighted cigars and added to the volume of smoke that swirled through the excited room of the cotton gamblers. The market was still going up; the excitement was crescendo. But Lang and Carroll continually returned to watch the New York stock ticker.

Yuma Oil read 59-1/4, then 59-1/8, then 59, then up an eighth, then it broke all at once to 58-3/4. At what price their stock had been sold they could not tell.

But they got quick action, after all. Within half an hour Dixon announced that he had sold at 58-1/4. By the time they got the news, the stock had sunk to 57-1/2. Clear of all commissions, the sale would net about five thousand eight hundred dollars.

“Good!” exclaimed Carroll. “But this is only a start. It’s going lower—a lot lower. Now’s our chance for a killing!”

He spoke in an intense whisper; his face was flushed. The broker came back holding the slip.

“Do you want your check, gentlemen, or are you trading again?”

“Again? That’s all the stock we have,” said Lang, not understanding, but Carroll broke in eagerly.

“We’ll go short now. She’s going lower. What margin——”

“I’ll sell for you on a ten-point margin. Yes, I’ll make it eight points, on this market. I’m selling myself.”

Dixon’s manner was perceptibly livelier. Lang protested, startled at the idea of using the money as gambling margin.

“Oh, just as you like,” said the broker with impatience. “I never advise customers. I only tell ’em what I think. I think the time has come for Yuma Oil to break. The ring up North has let go. I think it’s good for ten to twenty points down. I’m playing it across the board, myself.”

“Don’t be a fool!” insisted Carroll explosively. He chewed his cigar in one corner of his mouth and spoke with the other, feverish, hungering. “Don’t you see the chance we’ve got? With a run of luck we’ll wipe out Rockett’s whole loss.”

The excitement of the game was beginning to gain upon Lang himself. He made a rapid calculation.

“Eight points? We might sell—let’s sell five hundred shares, then.”

If they lost it there would be still nearly two thousand dollars left. Dixon snapped at the order slip and had it almost instantly on the wire. They got it executed at 57, and the stock was still falling by eighths. Then in a flurry it dropped half a point at a time, rallied a little, and broke heavily to 55, then to 54, and within fifteen minutes to 53. They were two thousand dollars ahead—on paper.

As comparatively high players now, Dixon installed them in armchairs in his private office, close to the New York ticker. His cold punctiliousness of manner broke down; he hurried from them to his cotton customers, almost excited, almost talkative, and they watched the clattering tape slowly spinning out its cabalistic figures straight from the great gambling house in lower New York.

Fifty-two and a half—51—and then it rallied strongly, and almost touched 53.

Dixon came and stood holding the tape, looking anxious. For some twenty minutes the stock held firm, up an eighth, down an eighth, and then broke half a point, and then another. The broker let out an explosive sound of relief.

“That’s its last dying kick. It had me scared for a minute. But she’s on the toboggan slide now, and she won’t stop till she hits bottom.”

Lang had held his breath while the wheel of fortune had seemed to be turning the wrong way. Triumphant excitement rushed over him again as the downward rush of the stock was resumed. Every point lower meant a win of five hundred dollars. He fixed his eyes on the printing point of the tape, impatient as other stock quotations came out, hardly hearing the racket of the cotton speculators, watching for the letters YU OIL—52—51—50-1/2—49. They had made eight points. They had doubled their money.

Then all at once, as he watched the unrolling paper, a destructive thought came to Lang’s mind. It was not his money. It belonged to the general assets of the Automotive Fuel Company. He could not take his losses out of it. It would be his duty to turn every cent in to the official receivers.

His legal share of these gambling gains would be hardly anything. The golden prospect turned blank. He forgot the game for a moment.

“Sell another thousand. We’ve got enough ahead to margin that much,” said Carroll, poking his side.

“Sure you have. That’s the stuff I like. Make it or lose it!” exclaimed Dixon.

Lang made no objection, though he had a dull sense that he ought not to risk his fellow creditors’ money. But they did not seem to be going to lose it. The order was put in at 48, and within ten minutes it was at 47-1/2, and thence dropped by quarter points.

Lang began to forget again that it was not for himself that he was winning. The fascination of the game took hold on him. He imagined the swirl and flurry at that moment on the New York Exchange, where some manipulation must have culminated, where mighty operators had come out into the open and were devouring their prey as it ran. With their tiny speculation they were jackals on the edge of that killing.

Down it went—46—45. Dixon had sold a large block for his private account. Flushed and excited, he camped beside the ticker, ceasing to take any interest in the cotton market, chewing a dead cigarette to pieces, talking incessantly. Lang and Carroll ceased to be “gentlemen.” He called them “boys,” and Carroll addressed him as “Dix,” and hit him furiously on the back when the stock made a half-point drop at once. With a thousand shares at stake, every point down meant a win of a thousand dollars.

Where would it stop? Where was the bottom? Forty-four—43—42-1/2—43 again.

Lang drew himself painfully out of the pit of fascination.

“We must get out of it—cover our sales. It’s rallying,” he exclaimed.

“Nonsense! Don’t be a quitter!” Carroll snapped.

“Don’t worry,” said Dixon. “It’s only the rally before the closing market—people taking profits. I expected it. It’ll open down to 40 to-morrow morning. Let it stand over night.”

Forty-three—43-1/8—43-1/4, then down an eighth, up a quarter, a rally, forty-four.

“Sell out!” insisted Lang.

He had a sudden amazement at what he had done, at what he had risked. Suppose they had been wiped out—how could he ever have explained the transaction?

Carroll protested wildly, drunk with winning. It was the chance of a lifetime; they stood to clear a fortune; but Lang was inflexible. Desperately anxious to close before the stock could rally further, he insisted on instant buying in, and Dixon sent the order.

While they waited, the stock swayed up and down by fractions, and their covering was not made at one point, but between 39-1/2 and 44-1/2. Dixon calculated the commissions, and wrote the check. It came to twelve thousand five hundred and twenty-seven dollars—just enough to cover his losses in Automotive Fuel, Lang reflected.

The sunlight and air seemed strange after those smoky, excited rooms. Lang felt slightly dizzy and drunk, and remembered that he had eaten nothing since before dawn. The bank where he had his small deposit was only a block away, and they went there at once, while he wondered uneasily as to the next development. Carroll assuredly expected the money to be divided; and, slight as his own rights in it might be, Lang was perfectly convinced that Carroll had none at all.

The check was made out to them jointly, and they both indorsed it. Lang presented it to the cashier, who knew him, and who made no difficulty. The money was counted out in hundred-dollar bills, a hundred and twenty-five of them, with the twenty-seven dollars odd.

Lang separated the five hundred and twenty-seven dollars from the rest. It did seem that they deserved as much as that by way of commission. Carroll clung to his shoulder as he moved from the wicket, his eyes on the money. Lang handed him half the share he had separated, which Carroll took, looking puzzled.

“We’d better not split it here,” he murmured. “Let’s go to your hotel, or somewhere.”

Lang stowed the rest of the money in his inner pocket.

“Look here, Carroll,” he said, “this money isn’t ours, you know. We can’t split it. I’m going to turn it all in to Rockett’s receivers, all but the odd sum, which perhaps we might stretch a point and hold out.”

“Are you joking—or crazy?” exclaimed Carroll, looking absolutely dumfounded.

“Neither. I’m sane and serious. We can’t keep this money. I’m going to put it in safe-keeping till I find out where I ought to deliver it.”

Carroll’s handsome face turned ugly.

“Great heavens, what a bluff to try and pull! I think I see you turning any of it in to the creditors! Want to put it in safe-keeping? I guess not. I’m not a fool. Come now, split that cash, fifty-fifty, or—well, it’ll never do you any good. Do you hear, damn it?”

He had raised his voice, his temper out of control. Several men turned to look. A uniformed bank guard, who had been watching, moved over to them.

“Now, gentlemen!” he said.

“I want to rent a safe-deposit box,” said Lang, seizing this opportunity. “Please show me the wicket.”

“You can’t put that across——” began Carroll furiously, then stopped and followed Lang and the porter to the vault office, where he again began to protest. The clerk looked dubiously at the two of them.

“It’s trust money that I want to put away,” Lang explained. “This gentleman here has some claim on it, but I’ve no authority to pay any of it. I’m a customer of this bank. Here’s my card.”

The clerk surveyed them both again—Lang immaculate in a freshly pressed suit and white linen, Carroll still in the faded sweater and shapeless trousers that he had worn through the wreck, wrinkled and stained with sea water. He looked both alarmed and threatening and evil, while Lang had assumed his utmost professional dignity of manner; and appearances carried the day, as usual.

“We can’t refuse to rent boxes,” said the clerk to Carroll. “It’s not our business what’s put into them. If you want to, you can leave your name; and you can get an order from the courts to have the box sealed and your claim adjusted. Please sign this, doctor.”

Lang went back into the vault, and delayed as long as possible in stowing away the twelve thousand dollars, but when he came out Carroll was awaiting him on the steps of the bank. He had calmed his temper, but his voice was hard and menacing.

“Don’t you touch any of that money, Lang,” he said. “Leave it where it is. Don’t think of sending it to Rockett’s creditors. You don’t know what you’re monkeying with. I tell you, it’ll fly up and hit you. You’ve no idea of the inside of this business yet, and don’t you do anything foolish till you get your eyes open.

“I’ll be at the St. Andrew Hotel,” he added. “You’ll see me again. Take my tip or you’ll regret it all your life, Doctor Lang.”

He went down the street, leaving Lang really impressed by his tone of cold earnestness. He did not blame Carroll for being bitter and disappointed. He was bitterly disappointed himself, and of course it looked plain to Carroll that he was confiscating all the profits of their common gamble.

He felt tired and irritable, and knew that he must be famished, but when he went to a restaurant he could swallow nothing solid. He managed to take a glass of hot milk, and went wearily home to his hotel room, where he called up the Iberville, and asked for Miss Morrison. It seemed the only bright spot in a disappointing world.

She was out. She had left the hotel. The clerk did not know whether she would be back. She had left town, he thought. Her address? He could not say, but any letters would be forwarded.

He hung up the receiver, in a state of weary disgust that was like prostration. Eva’s relatives had called for her at last; they had taken her away. He would not see her again. He might write. But what was the use?

The whole thing was over, the farce—drama—tragedy. He had taken risks, nearly lost his life, skirted the edge of crime, all for less than nothing. He was back where he had started, minus several dollars, a suit of clothes, a gold watch and a medical case. Then he recollected his half of the odd five hundred and twenty-seven dollars—a gain, indeed, but it was not pleasant money. He felt disposed to give it away, to clear away the whole wretched business, which, according to Carroll, he had not yet fully plumbed.

He lay down on the bed and closed his eyes. The chatter of the stock ticker echoed in his ears—forty—forty and an eighth—forty-one——

He awoke and found the room pitchy dark. It was hardly five o’clock when he had lain down. He must have fallen into a dead slumber. He got up drowsily, switched on the light, and found to his amazement that his watch said nine o’clock.

He was still stupid with sleep, and he decided to go definitely to bed, began to undress, and removed the small articles from his pockets, as he most methodically did every night. He wound up his dollar watch, laid it on the bureau, took out his money, felt for his bunch of keys.

They were not in his trousers pocket. He must have left them in the other trousers when he changed. The crumpled, sea-stained clothes from the Cavite’s disaster lay on a chair, but the bunch of keys was in none of the pockets. He had had them last in Rockett’s bungalow, while trying to unlock the box, and he realized with cold consternation that he must have left them there.

It was not the loss of the keys, but the fact that the key ring bore a celluloid tag with his full name and address. It would be found, sooner or later, along with the disordered house, the smashed strong box, the hole in the garden—evidence enough to convict him of burglary several times over.

He cursed himself for his carelessness. Chance seemed determined to seize every opening to ruin him. Now there was only one course—to go back to that house and recover the keys before any one else could find them.

He shrunk horribly from the thing. He would have rather done almost anything else, but there was no possible choice. Grimly he resumed the garments he had taken off, and went downstairs to consult the night clerk about trains to Biloxi.

There was none, it appeared, before five next morning. Lang could not wait. He wanted to finish with this whole episode, clear it away forever. He telephoned for a taxi, specifying a good car and a good driver, for a long-distance trip.

While he awaited it he went to the lunch counter, hungry now, and consumed coffee and thick ham sandwiches. This refreshment reanimated him. He remembered that he would need a flash light, and he brought one down with an overcoat as the car arrived.

It turned out to be a really good car, and, once out of the city and upon the good shell road they made fast time. Lang told the driver to cut loose, and he dozed periodically behind the closed curtains as the big machine roared and swayed down the coast road, past Grand Bay, Pascagoula, Biloxi, steadily through the quiet night, with the sea occasionally flashing on their left. Good luck was with him for once, for without a single breakdown and only one stop for gas and water they came to the side road that led up to Persia.

Lang was afraid to drive to Rockett’s bungalow and he feigned that Persia was his destination. The car was to wait till he came back—till morning, if necessary. He got out and walked around the store in the dark to conceal his direction from the driver, and started rapidly up the road.

He was stiff and sleepy, and it was barely light enough to see the road. All the houses along the way were dark; it was well after midnight. Strangely enough, a man seems to walk faster at night than by day, and he reached Rockett’s house before he expected it. There was no light; it looked dim and deserted. He had no doubt that no one had approached the place since he and Carroll had left it that morning, though it seemed an eternity ago.

He did not approach the front door. He knew that the keys must be in the kitchen, whose door, he was sure, was not locked. It held when he tried it, however, and then yielded suddenly with a loud crack that echoed through the empty house.

Lang paused, his heart thumping. Dead silence followed. He entered the room, turning on the flash light.

The keys were not on the table, as he had expected. They must have fallen to the floor. He stooped, crawled under the table, turning the light this way and that, growing more perturbed. He was on his knees, groping along the wall, when he half heard something like a light step. Before he could rise, a brighter flash light than his own blinded him with its blaze in his face.

For a moment he crouched there, paralyzed with the shock and the terror. He could half see the dim figure behind that white beam. He expected a threat, or a bullet, but he heard nothing except a sound like a faint moaning.

Then with the courage of despair he turned his own light on the antagonist.

Eva Morrison stood there, in a long blue dressing gown, one sleeve falling back from the arm that held the light, the other hand holding a little shiny revolver half hidden in the folds of the gown. The two light rays crossed like swords between them; the girl’s face looked deathly pale, and he heard, tongue-tied himself, again that faint moaning from her lips.

“You! You!” she whispered, and the horror and amazement in her tone were echoes of Lang’s own emotions.


The flash light dropped out of Lang’s hand. The girl’s light shifted; he heard a quick movement, the scrape of a match, and the yellow glow of a lamp shone out. She set it on the kitchen table, and stood gazing at him, still amazed, as if beyond speech.

“Is it possibly you, Doctor Lang?” she said unsteadily. “I found—I thought—— Oh, what does this mean? Are you insane?”

“I came back for the keys,” Lang stammered. It was all he could think of to say. He tried to pull himself together, and got upon his feet. What was she doing here, for that matter, in Rockett’s house?

“It’s all a mistake,” he tried to explain. “Rockett himself told me to come here—his last words. It wasn’t for myself. The creditors’ money——”

“I don’t know what you mean. Creditors? Why did you come here at all?”

“Well, if it comes to that, how do you come to be here yourself?” returned Lang, driven to defense.

“Here? In my own father’s house?” she exclaimed in the most genuine amazement.

Lang’s brain almost turned dizzy again. The wildest suppositions flashed through it. Was Eva really Morrison, or was Rockett really Rockett? Could she be the daughter of the Automotive Fuel defaulter without knowing it?

“Oh, I want to know what it all means!” she cried pitifully. “I waited in Mobile for my father. He never came. At last I came out here, to our house. Thieves had been through it; it was turned upside down. Father’s money box was in this room, burst open. I found the keys—with your name. I couldn’t believe it. I thought they had been stolen from you. I can’t believe yet. Why don’t you speak?” she cried passionately. “Say it—it wasn’t you!

“You must know something,” she went on, after waiting in vain for Lang to answer. “Father had been here; his things were here; his bed had been slept in, and he’s gone. Where is he?”

“I don’t know,” Lang groaned. He was so bewildered that he felt incapable of clear thought. “It isn’t as bad as it looks. Don’t think the worst of me. I didn’t ransack the house. I had authority to come here, and I have the money safe.”

“I don’t care about any money. It’s my father!” she reiterated. “Have they murdered him?”

“I don’t know!” exclaimed the surgeon in despair. “Wait—who was your father? What was he like?”

“You don’t know?” She stared amazed. “Why, Edward Morrison, the explorer. Don’t you know his books?”

She turned and ran into the next room, returning immediately with a large volume, and showed a portrait frontispiece. It was a book of South American travel and archæology. Lang remembered Edward Morrison’s name very well now, though he had never read any of his books. But he did not think of that at the moment; for the half length of the portrait, though well clad, healthy, with open, frowning eyes and resolute countenance was beyond any doubt the figure of the haggard and unconscious patient of the Cavite.

“Oh, Lord!” Lang groaned, taking this in.

“You know him? You’ve seen him?”

“Yes—I’ve seen him.” Lang cast about for softening phrases. “I was aboard a steamer with him, only the other day. Why,” he cried, remembering, “it was the yacht, you know—that call that you urged me to accept. He was the patient I was to treat, only they didn’t tell me his right name.”

“My father?” said Eva, dazed. “How did he get on a yacht? But that man was very ill—paralyzed.”

“Yes. Not seriously, though, as I think now. But—but the yacht was run down two days later, in a fog. I helped get your father on deck; I tried to save him. The ship went down under us. I never saw him again. I don’t know whether anybody was saved but myself and one other.”

He felt the cool bluntness of his story, but he could think of no other words. Eva Morrison searched his face with wide, imploring eyes which he could not meet. She turned about slowly, and went back into the darkness of the dining room, putting out her hands as if blinded. She did not come back.

Left alone with his confusion and wretchedness, Lang waited for several minutes. He thought he heard a suppressed noise, hesitated a little longer, and then took the lamp and went after her. The devastated room had been put into order again, and Eva was huddled on a wide couch, her head buried in her arms, trembling with gasping sobs.

He spoke gently to her. She did not move, perhaps did not hear him. He stood over her uncertainly for some seconds, tortured.

“Don’t sorrow so—not yet,” he tried to comfort her. “We don’t know that your father is lost at all. Most likely he has been picked up, as I was. That ocean swarms with ships. I’d have plenty of hope. He may be ashore by this time.”

Still she made no sign whatever of having heard, except that her convulsive sobbing subsided a little. Unbearably wrung by her suffering, Lang knelt down impulsively and put his arm over her shoulders.

“Don’t grieve so, for God’s sake!” he said. “I’ll help you—everything I can do. Have courage! Your father can’t be drowned.”

She did not move from him; in fact she seemed to nestle into his protective arm. She grew quieter, presently turned her head, and sat up.

“Do you think there’s any—any hope?” she stammered, looking at him helplessly.

It was no time for truth. Lang lied boldly.

“Every chance. There were boats out at once. Your father is most likely ashore now.”

He had a vivid mental picture of the semiparalyzed man on that dark deck, as the Cavite plunged bows down. He shuddered, but Eva seemed encouraged, and spoke more collectedly.

“Oh, I hope it may be so!” she said. “I won’t give up, yet. Couldn’t I telegraph to all the places where he might have come ashore?

“But—but,” she faltered, shaky again, “to think that I hadn’t seen him at all for nearly a year! Father and I were always such friends and comrades. My mother died years ago. We two were everything—just all each other had. I let him keep me up North at college when I should have been with him. But he was away on his expeditions so much. He built this house for us to live in; we made plans for our life here, and he was just beginning to get credit for the great work he’d done—for all his exploration in South America—and now, to have it cut off—it leaves all the world empty. But it can’t be; he can’t be drowned!”

“Of course not!” Lang cried. “Nobody could have missed being picked up on that sea. Why, it’s almost like a crowded street, with ships. We’ll telegraph to all the ports, as you said. Good idea! I think you’d better go back to Mobile with me. I’ve got a car down the road. You can’t stay alone here.”

“I’m not afraid. I’ve been here alone before,” said Eva. “But,” she went on, “I don’t understand yet how you came to be here. And then, what was my father doing on board that yacht? It all seems a puzzle.”

“It’s more than a puzzle.”

Anything to distract her mind now, and he plunged into an account of his adventures on board the Cavite. He had to tread warily. He suppressed the fact that her father had been tortured, that he was unconscious and paralyzed. He represented that Morrison had been obstinately keeping silence. And when he came to the man’s last incoherent instructions, Eva interrupted, anxiously.

“He wanted you to find something important. He must have meant you to pass it to me. What did you find?”

“It was that steel dispatch box; it had some stock certificates—nothing else but a bundle of drawings and photographs. We sold the stock. I didn’t understand, of course. I thought it was for the Rockett creditors. We were lucky enough to catch it just at its high point and we—well, we speculated on it a little. Eventually we got out with over twelve thousand dollars. It’s all in the bank at Mobile. It’s all yours, of course. I’ll have it transferred to you to-morrow.”

What luck, he thought, that he had neither split it with Carroll nor turned it in to the courts.

Eva was reflecting gravely. “That was the money for his next expedition. It’s more than he often had. His expeditions generally cost far more than they brought in. He’s just come back from southern Chile, you know. He was going again this season, and he was going to take me with him, as far as Valparaiso, anyway.”

“Well, the money is here all waiting for him,” Lang returned.

“And the photographs and sketches you spoke of—have you them safely, too?”

“No, I believe Carroll still has them,” he admitted. “I’ve not thought of them since. But I’ll get them back for you. Do you suppose that gang imagined that your father had large quantities of valuables hidden? Surely they didn’t take all that trouble for his little block of oil stock. Why should they have carried him off against his will? Or, did they? What were they trying to get out of him? Have you any idea?”

Eva seemed to reflect long, and then shook her head silently.

“Is it possible that they really thought he was Rockett?” Lang surmised, thinking hard; and in the ensuing silence the little clock on the mantel tinkled three times.

“Three o’clock!” he exclaimed. “Too late to talk of all this any longer. You can’t stay here alone. I’ve a car waiting, and I’ll take you back to town with me. Get your things together.”

“No, I’ll stay here, at least till to-morrow night. If father should be found word will probably be sent here. I’m not in the least afraid, and you were the only burglar, after all.”

Lang tried hard to persuade her, but she insisted. He gave up at last. After all, the night was nearly over.

“You’ll be back at the Iberville in Mobile to-morrow without fail, though,” he said. “If you’re not I’ll be out here to bring you. To-morrow I’m sure we’ll have good news.”

He did not feel equal to any more argument or encouragement. Eva jumped up and came after him as he turned to go, holding something in her hand.

“I’m so glad you did come—even as a burglar,” she said, with a faint smile. “You’ve been very kind and cheering, and—here are your keys.”

Lang groped down to the gate in the twilight, and looked back at the lighted window blind. He could not quite make up his mind to leave the girl alone with her grief, nor could he venture to go back. He lingered about the gate, and finally sat down on the ground, with his back against a tree.

The light in the house presently went out. Eva had gone to bed—probably not to sleep. Lang felt an extraordinary tenderness and pity for the girl. She was brave; she had come out boldly with her flash light and revolver when she heard him in the house. Her father was almost surely drowned. He would have to help her through the coming bad days, as she had helped him through his own.

He half dozed, wondering why the Cavite’s crew had wanted to make her father talk. He would see Carroll and get the truth out of him—get the photographs, too. He dozed again, awoke and dozed, till the pale dawn caught him asleep.

He got up, cramped and very cold. Morrison’s house was dim and dead in the dawn. He started down the road, shivering, sleepy, half starved and irritable.

He found his taxi at Persia, the driver asleep on the cushions. The long drive back to Mobile was too much to contemplate. He told the man to drive to the nearest hotel, and dozed off in the car.

He awoke among streets, trees, houses. He did not know where he was, nor care. A greasy all-night lunch counter met his eye, where he swallowed rolls and hot milk. They told him that there was a hotel in the next block. He never learned its name, but he woke up the night clerk and secured a room. He felt incapable of thought; the Morrison-Rockett imbroglio in its last development was too much for him. He tore off his clothes in a sort of fury of perplexity and fatigue and tumbled between the sheets, where he fell instantly into a deathlike sleep.


He slept right through the morning, dimly heard noon whistles blowing, and slept again. About two o’clock he awoke, rising out of a deep pit of utter unconsciousness, with a vague feeling of awful and momentous things impending.

Then his mind dropped into gear. As in a flash of moving pictures he saw the last crowded hours— the sinking steamer upheaving in the water, the night on the cold Gulf, his housebreaking, the excitement of the stock gamble, and, strangest of all, his midnight encounter with Eva Morrison and the amazing revelations.

He felt rested; the stiffness had been slept out of him. He jumped out of bed, having no idea where he was. Peeping through the window blind he saw an asphalted street in the sun, moving automobiles, palms and giant cacti, and he found himself ravenous for food.

When he went downstairs he learned that he was at the Hotel Royal in Pass Christian. It was too late for lunch, but he went out, found a restaurant, and ate two meals in one. Refreshed and walking in the sunlight, he came back to a sense of reality, after the phantasmagoria of unlikely happenings.

That meeting in the lonely bungalow last night seemed now half incredible. But it was real, and half horrible and half poignantly sweet. Mystery still involved it, and suffering was bound to come after it. Morrison was dead, and his daughter would have to be helped, comforted, looked after. She had said that she had no one in the world but her father. Well, she would have now what he could do. He could help her with money, at any rate; and he blessed the luck now that had led him to play for the fall in Yuma Oil, and even felt softened toward Carroll for having urged it.

Carroll would have to surrender those photographs, those mementos of the dead. And explanations were due from him also, in plenty. Lang was eager to get back to Mobile at once. He wanted to be there before Eva should return, but the first train was at three forty-five. It was a fast train, but it went all too slow for his impatience. However, when he arrived at the Mobile depot and telephoned the Iberville Hotel he was told that Miss Morrison had not yet returned.

He left a message for her, requesting her to call him up as soon as she came in; and went up to his own hotel where, he reflected, he was paying twenty dollars weekly for a room which had lately been of very little value to him.

At the desk the clerk told him that a gentleman had been twice inquiring for him that day; in fact, the gentleman was perhaps somewhere about the lobby at that moment. Lang looked. Only one man was likely to be seeking him there, and he was not surprised to sight Carroll seated beside a pillar at some distance, at a strategic point to observe the desk.

Lang went to him at once. The young adventurer had a new suit of clothes, and looked very different from the shipwrecked mariner of the day before. He had lost, or controlled, his resentment, too, for he rose and gave the physician an affable greeting. Lang did not wish to quarrel, and he accepted it on the same terms.

“I wanted to see you,” he said immediately. “Those things in the iron box—photos and such—I think you have them. I want you to give them to me.”

“Not quite, doctor,” Carroll returned, blandly. “You put it over me once, but I have a safe-deposit box of my own now.”

“It isn’t for myself. I promised Miss Morrison that I’d get them for her. They were her father’s, of course.”

Carroll took it without blinking.

“Miss Morrison?” he said, questioningly.

“His daughter. Why,” Lang added, “you’ve seen her. She was the lady who was with me at the Bayview Hotel, when you came to call me to your ‘yacht.’”

At this Carroll did look startled.

“You say that was Morrison’s daughter? Great heavens! The devil’s in this whole thing, Lang!”

“That’s what I think. And now, come out with it. Why did you give me that faked tale about Rockett? What did you want Morrison to tell you before he died? What was his secret? Were you after his Yuma Oil?”

“Oh, I’ll tell you, all right,” said Carroll. “I meant to, anyway. We can’t talk here, though.” He looked vaguely about the noisy hotel lobby.

Lang led him up to his room.

“What has that girl told you?” Carroll asked cautiously.

“Enough for me to check what you say. I’ve got to have the truth this time, Carroll. You’ve lied to the limit, so far. Suppose I put the whole matter into the hands of the police?”

“Oh, you couldn’t do that. You’re implicated almost as deep as any of us, you know. Besides,” he added, without boastfulness, “the bulls have found me hard to catch before now. But I’ll hand you the straight goods. I knew I must. There’s only us two left in it now, and we’ve got to come to an understanding.”

“We’ve got a long way to go. Proceed,” said the doctor.

“Well, of course we handed you a ghost story when you came on the Cavite, but we had to tell you something. And then you let us go on thinking you were Long, so that squares that.

“It all came through Floyd. He was in South America, he had some kind of job up in the copper mines, and got fired. He was on the beach at some Chilean port when he met up with Morrison. The old professor was out on an expedition. I expect you know he was an eminent exploring guy and book writer. Morrison wanted another white man with him who knew something about prospecting, and he made a deal with Floyd to go with him, on a fifty-fifty basis of any mineral or anything valuable they located.

“They didn’t locate anything for a while. They had a sort of small schooner and coasted down, going ashore every day or so, and sometimes camping for a week, while the old professor explored. It’s an awful country—according to Floyd—all rough islands and narrow channels, and the mountains right down to the sea, rocks and big glaciers, and fog and rain all the time. It was early in the spring; they have their summer down there in the winter, you know.”

“So I’ve heard,” said Lang, dryly. “But what did Morrison locate?”

“Well, it seems he went ashore one morning at the head of a little bay that split right into the hills. There was a valley beyond, and a big glacier coming down like a wall right across the valley. Floyd left him there, and was to come back with the boat to bring him off in the evening.

“He went back around sundown, and found the old man down and out. He’d been climbing up on the rocks and ice, and had fallen and busted several ribs, and was stunned and bruised all up. He had a lot of bits of rock in his sack, stones full of green crystals. You saw some of them in his box the other day. And in his pocket he had a couple of big green stones the size of small potatoes.”

“Floyd went through his pockets while he was insensible?”

“Sure he did. He pocketed one of the big stones, too. He left the other. He was on a half-share basis, you know. Then he got Morrison back on the schooner, and they fixed up his hurts.

“He asked Morrison about the stones when he was better, but the old professor said they were mere crystals that weren’t worth anything. Floyd thought different, though, and spent a good deal of time going ashore by himself and hunting around, but he never could find where Morrison had located them. It might have been anywhere within a mile.

“The old man never seemed to remember that one of the stones was lost. He was too sick, maybe. His ribs didn’t heal very well, and they had to make for Valparaiso, where there were doctors.

“In Valparaiso, Floyd took his green stone to the best jewelers there. It was just as he thought; it was an emerald.”

“Nonsense!” Lang interrupted. “Emeralds don’t come in those sizes. Why, it would have been worth a fortune.”

“So it would—only it was plumb full of little hairline cracks and flaws and veins of rock. It wasn’t worth a nickel. The one Morrison had was the same. But, as I said, it was the size of a little potato.”

“Floyd said that?” Lang inquired.

“No, I saw it myself. Floyd had it with him. It went down in his pocket with the Cavite, I expect. We had two of the best jewelers in New Orleans look at it, too, and they said the same as the Chilean ones.

“Floyd kept after Morrison to live up to his agreement, and go back and clear out the emerald mine between them. But Morrison always stalled him off, and at last he slipped away and came north before Floyd knew he was gone.

“Floyd followed him up, of course, and located him here on the coast. Of course he knew the old man was getting ready to go back to Chile after the emeralds. Then he ran across Jerry Harding and Louie and me at New Orleans. We’d all known him before, and we made up a partnership.”

“Your crowd had been rum running, I take it?” said Lang.

“Jerry owned the Cavite,” replied Carroll, after a pause. “He’s in her at the bottom of the Gulf now, and Floyd, too, and what we used to do is nobody’s affair.”

“Why didn’t Floyd go back to Chile by himself? He knew the way.”

“He was broke. He hadn’t the money for any sort of vessel. We were going to sail the Cavite there. Besides, he didn’t know the way. It’s all a tangle of islands and channels, that Chilean coast. You’d lose yourself in an hour, unless you’re a good seaman with good charts. And besides that, if he got to that glacier valley he couldn’t tell where Morrison dug up the stones. It might have been two or three miles from the sea. He’d been away all day.

“So you see,” he went on, “that we had to make Morrison talk. We offered him a third share to go back and guide us. I don’t think anything could have been squarer. Well—you know about all the rest. When he had his stroke, or whatever it was, we tried every way to bring him to. At last we pinned all our hopes to the great Chicago specialist, Doctor Robert Long, and got him aboard!”

“Long couldn’t have done a bit more than I did,” said Lang abstractedly, thinking hard. “But now Floyd and Morrison are both gone—the only men who knew anything of the place. There’s no chance of finding it. The game is up, it seems to me.”

“Ah, that’s the very point!” cried Carroll. “I knew, as soon as I set eyes on them, what those photos and pictures in the iron box must be. I’ve gone over them all. There’s a series of photos of the coast, the glacier valley—water-color drawings, too—and a couple of sketch maps. I’m no sailor, but I know I can find my way there; and if I once get to that valley, I’ll find the emerald mine, if I have to turn over all the ground with my bare hands. It can’t be far, after all, and the old professor did no blasting nor digging.”

“Carroll,” said the surgeon, “so far you’ve told me nothing but lies. This yarn is the wildest-sounding of all. I’m damned if I believe a word of it!”

“Good God!” Carroll cried. “Can’t you recognize truth when you see it? Of course I told you a crooked yarn. We couldn’t have let out the truth then, could we? But now it’s different. There’s just you and me left in it. I’ve got the maps and prints. You’ve got the money, and half of that is coming to me, you know very well. It’ll take five or six thousand dollars to fit out our expedition. I’ve got less than two hundred dollars in the world. Neither of us can do anything alone. Why, man, in a case like this you’d make a partnership with the devil, wouldn’t you?”

“Well, that’s as it may be,” said Lang. “But you’re making one great mistake. That money in my trust box isn’t mine. It belongs to Miss Morrison. If there’s anything in this emerald story, it belongs to her, too. I have absolutely nothing to do with the whole thing. Go and talk to her about it.”

“I don’t talk to any woman about such a thing!” Carroll ejaculated, staring. “Are you clear crazy, Lang, or are you trying to put another bluff over me? Look here, if that stone of Floyd’s had been perfect it would have been worth fifty thousand dollars. Emeralds come high; they rank next to diamonds. We’ve been studying up about them. Most all the emeralds of the world come from the west coast of South America. There’s an enormous mine in Colombia. I’ve got all the right dope. Morrison hit on a pocket, or deposit. Those bits of rock were what they call emerald matrix. There’s dead sure to be plenty more where those big stones came from, and good ones, too. It wouldn’t take many of that size to make a million dollars.”

Carroll’s olive face was deeply flushed. His eyes positively glowed with earnestness, and his hands trembled. Lang was secretly impressed and less incredulous than he appeared. It was impossible that any one could so feign emotion.

“I tell you that I’ve got nothing to do with it,” he said again. “It’s all in Miss Morrison’s hands.”

Exasperated, baffled, evidently believing not a word of it, Carroll looked at him.

“Give the girl the price of the oil stock,” he said. “Half the money. That’s all that’s really coming to her, anyway. We’ll use the rest for the trip. Oh, give her a share, if you want to. Let her have a third of what we find. I won’t do it for less. If you won’t meet me on that you’ll never see any of those papers of Morrison’s again. I’ll raise the money somehow myself.

“Look here, do you know Louie’s ashore? Yes, he is. He’s in Mobile now. I saw him myself. He came ashore in the motor launch—the only man in it. I told him the emerald game was up. But if you go back on me I’ll call him in. Now I don’t want to do any crooked work. I’ll share with you fifty-fifty, or thirds all around with the girl, but if not, then I swear I’ll have the whole thing, crooked or straight!”

Lang shook his head. “I can’t bargain. The police will make you give up those photos, you know, if it comes to that. Maybe Miss Morrison——”

The bell of his room telephone interrupted him. He went to its stand and took the receiver. The clerk at the Iberville was calling. Miss Morrison had just come in, and left word that she would be glad to see Doctor Lang.

He hung up, delighted, impatient.

“I can’t make any sort of deal with you,” he said to Carroll. “I’ll put it before Miss Morrison if you like. You’d better think it over and let me hear to-morrow. Now I’ve got to go out.”

They went downstairs together and parted at the hotel entrance. Lang felt Carroll’s eyes following him as he went up the street.


Lang was astonished to find that Eva had already gone to the Mobile police headquarters and induced the authorities to telegraph to all the Gulf ports and coastguard stations for news of her father. His respect for her practicality increased immensely. She had had no replies as yet, but she looked hopeful, cheerful, and glad to see him when she came down to the little sitting room on the second floor, where they had often met in the past fortnight.

“That’s the right spirit,” he encouraged her. “Don’t be disappointed if we don’t get any news at once. Your father had a life belt on and would float for hours. And the Gulf is a tropical sea, you know—not cold like the Atlantic.”

Remembering the night he had spent in it himself, Lang wondered that this lie did not freeze on his lips. He hurried past it.

“I hope you slept last night—this morning, rather.”

“I’m afraid, not very much; neither did you.” An uncontrollable smile curved her lips, and then she laughed outright. “I looked out the window before daylight and saw you.”

Lang felt his cheeks reddening.

“I hated to leave you all alone,” he stammered. “I wasn’t much of a sentinel, though—went to sleep on my post.”

“It was awfully foolish of you, and—and simply wonderful,” she said, no longer laughing. “I nearly cried. I went to make hot coffee for you, and when I came back you were gone.”

“I wish I’d known. I drove to Pass Christian and slept nearly all day. I’m a dormouse when I get a chance. Enough of that. I’ve got something to tell you.”

“Some news? Something about father?”

“No news. About your father, in a way. It’s a romantic tale that Carroll has just told me. It’ll amuse you at least. You’re going out to dinner with me and I’ll tell you while we eat.”

“Do tell me now,” she pleaded.

“No, it’ll be for a digestive. I’m the doctor. We’ll go out for a short walk now for an appetizer, please. I know what’s best for you.”

She went to get her coat and hat, obediently. Lang had planned to take her to the largest hotel restaurant in the city, with the masculine idea of cheering her, but at the sight of the great dining room, tricked with palms, crammed with Michigan tourists, deafening with the shriek and clash of a jazz orchestra, she turned in horror and begged to go to another place. Discomfited, Lang led her in search of quiet, and after long wandering, they came into a little, rather shabby, unfrequented eating place on Royal Street.

Here was quiet at any rate. It was growing late and not another table was occupied. They had a wholesome, vulgar meal, fairly cooked, badly served, and Lang saw to it that his companion ate. He also ate, being again surprisingly hungry, but he refused to tell his story till they had almost finished.

Then, over a cup of coffee, he lighted a cigarette, and recounted Carroll’s revelations, which he had come more and more disposed to consider a work of imagination.

Eva listened with the utmost attention, but without comment. She did not display quite the surprise that he expected; and at the end she fixed her eyes upon him and asked:

“What do you think of it?”

“I don’t believe it. The question really is, what’s under it? For it’s obviously designed to conceal something else, like Carroll’s first romance of Rockett and the yacht.”

Eva appeared to ponder, looking down at the spotted tablecloth.

“That story is all true,” she said at last.

“What? You think so?”

“I know it. You see—father wrote me from Valparaiso, while he was ill there. He told me he’d been hurt and was coming north; and he said he was on the track of a deposit of precious stones that would make us rich. I was to meet him in Mobile. But he didn’t say anything about any man named Floyd.”

“Well, that puts a different face on it,” said Lang, greatly taken aback. “As for Floyd, of course he may merely have learned of the thing by some chance.”

“I know father wouldn’t have engaged any mining prospector,” Eva went on. “He wasn’t interested in such things. He was an explorer, an archæologist. He believes that the old Inca civilization extended away south into Patagonia, and perhaps originated there, and that is what he’s trying to establish. He has gone farther toward deciphering the Inca quipus—the knotted-string records—than any other man. He must have merely chanced on the emeralds.”

“Well, now it seems that Carroll has the only clew to where they are,” said Lang, reviewing the situation mentally. “It’s my fault; I shouldn’t have let him pocket them; but just then my mind was full of nothing but Rockett’s money. I suppose you don’t feel inclined to accept his proposition of going shares on the enterprise?”

“Shares with that man? I should think not!” she exclaimed. “Why, you know he’s a thief, almost a murderer. He nearly killed my father. Fancy what father would say when he found that we’d given a share in his discovery to the man who robbed him!”

“Carroll’s got a strong position, though. We might buy him off. Possibly he’d accept five hundred dollars or maybe a thousand dollars for the maps and photos, if he was made to see that there was no better to be had.”

“But why should we,” rejoined Eva, “when my father will be back here soon, and he will know the way exactly to that place in South America?”

There was no possible answer to this. Lang could not tell her that Morrison would never come back to guide them, and he began to wonder if he had not been too lavish with his optimism.

The astonishing fact that Carroll’s tale was substantially true had hardly yet established itself in his mind, but now it began to grow and develop its glittering possibility. An almost incalculable treasure in emeralds, emeralds as big as small potatoes—it was romantically incredible. Yet it might be so. Indeed, lives had been lost, crime committed, a ship sunk for its sake already, and without knowing it he had himself been circling on the vortex of its fascination.

But Eva did not seem much interested in it. To her, everything in the world was postponed until Morrison’s return. Now she was growing restless, afraid that telegrams might have come to the hotel for her, and presently Lang took her back to the Iberville.

Replies had, indeed, come in from the police at Pensacola, Fairhope, Bayou la Batre and Pascagoula, but nothing had been heard of any castaway coming ashore. Eva, however, was disappointed but not discouraged, and Lang wondered apprehensively what the final reaction would be when hope had to be given up.

He stayed with her for an hour in the second-floor sitting room, talking casually and cheerfully, and then left her. He would see her again in the morning, but for once he was impatient to leave her. He wanted to be alone, to think.

Eva evidently had no comprehension of the case. Her whole mind was fixed on her drowned father; everything else was excluded. She would delay, let the moment slip. And Morrison’s find was not a thing to trifle with.

Magnificent plans had risen in the back of his mind even while he talked to her. He might buy off Carroll himself. He would have no scruple in utilizing a portion of Eva’s twelve thousand dollars thus for her own good. He might even gamble a part of his own slender capital on it. Once in possession of the guiding charts he would go south himself, hire a schooner, find the treasure, return and hand it over to Eva—quarts of emeralds as large as potatoes. What he would get out of it himself did not trouble him.

It was boyish and impracticable. He laughed at himself, though still fascinated by the idea. At any rate he felt that Carroll must be dealt with at once, and he went to the St. Andrew Hotel on his way home, but the young adventurer was out.

He found him next morning, at a late breakfast in the hotel dining room. Carroll greeted him with his never-failing smoothness, did not seem surprised, and offered coffee, which Lang declined.

“I’ve come to have an understanding with you, as you said.”

“Good. Well?” said Carroll, alert.

“I’ve talked to Miss Morrison. She’ll give you five hundred dollars for her father’s papers and photos.”

“Nothing doing!” Carroll returned.

“You’ll have to give them up anyway, you know. Miss Morrison can identify them. So can I. You don’t want to be arrested, I take it?”

“And how will Doctor Lang like having his part brought to light?” Carroll inquired ironically. “Burglary. Gambling with Morrison’s stock.”

“What I did was under Morrison’s orders. His daughter will testify to that. She’ll back up everything I say. I told her you’d probably refuse her offer, and she agreed to go the length of one thousand dollars, but that’s the limit. I advised calling the police at once.”

“Never in my life did I see a shark like you, Lang,” said Carroll earnestly. “I show you how to make ten thousand dollars and you hog it all. I tell you where you can make maybe a million, and now you try to hog that, too. I thought doctors were supposed to be an unselfish class! Now I tell you, you can’t hog this. I’ve told you my terms—one-third shares. Otherwise I’ll take it all. You can’t do anything without what I’ve got. But if you insist on cutting your own throat, why, go to it.”

“Well, you can consider whether your record will stand police investigation,” said Lang. “I’ve given you our terms, too. Will you make an offer, if they don’t suit?”

“I’ve told you—a third of the haul. You won’t consider that? Then do go away; you’re spoiling my breakfast.”

As he went, Lang was doubtful whether he had been diplomatic enough. He was unaccustomed to negotiations with criminals, and to big bluffs. It was really a bluff; the police could hardly recover what Carroll chose to hide; but he still expected the adventurer to come to terms. And then a consideration flashed upon him which he had overlooked entirely.

Carroll undoubtedly would have all the photos and other matter copied before he sold them. Thus he could sell them and still keep them.

Even so, however, Carroll would be badly handicapped by lack of capital. If it came to a race Lang felt confident that he could win. But this new consideration made him sure that, within twenty-four hours, Carroll would come to sell.

Going to the bank, he took out ten thousand dollars from the vault and deposited it in Eva Morrison’s name, reserving two thousand dollars for possible emergencies. He called at the public library, secured a large atlas and studied with some apprehension the tangle of islands and channels belting the south Chilean coast, and later he asked for Miss Morrison at the Iberville.

He found her looking worried, and she admitted that she had slept little. She had dark lines under her eyes, and her beauty was in eclipse. He made her go out with him. They went first to the bank, where she completed the formalities of taking over the account; and then on a motor run for ten miles down the bay road. She had received several more replies from the Gulf ports—negative, all of them; but she persisted in an appearance of optimism.

“You’re wonderfully good to me,” she said gratefully, as they returned to the city. “You mustn’t take up all your time with my affairs. You’ve your own concerns—your own plans to make.”

“My concerns, my plans are all for you,” he almost answered, but he restrained himself wisely.

“I haven’t any,” he said. “I’m not a physician any more. I’m an adventurer, a chevalier of industry, a burglar, a stock gambler, a treasure hunter—all my boyish dreams come to life.”

She smiled. “How about your medical practice up in the woods?”

He had almost forgotten it. That scheme now seemed utterly remote and impracticable, tame and unalluring besides. But her words reminded him sharply that life was life, after all, and that he would have to think of unalluring and practical matters. Much depended on Carroll, and again he regretted having been so crudely unconciliatory with that young man.

He fully expected to hear from Carroll that night, but no word came. He did not want to make advances again. He waited till the next morning. Again he took Eva out, once for a long walk, then across to Fairhope on the afternoon boat. She looked more depressed than ever, did not respond to his cheerfulness, and he foresaw the moment when hope would die.

That evening he took the step of telephoning to the Hotel St. Andrew, and was told that Carroll had departed the day before, leaving no address.

Violently Lang cursed his own clumsiness. Carroll was frightened off, with his indispensable documents. For a moment Lang pictured him starting immediately for South America; but this could hardly be, unless, with Louie’s assistance, he had managed to commit some lucrative crime. But he had passed out of sight, probably forever, and Lang felt deeply thankful that he had told Eva nothing of his high-flown projects, now made impossible.

Lang put in a bad night himself, but the morning mail brought a letter. It was a brief note from Carroll, posted in New Orleans, and with no address but the general delivery. Lang breathed more easily as he glanced over it.

Meet me at the St. Charles here Friday afternoon. We can make a deal, if you bring fifteen hundred dollars cash—no checks. If I am not there, wait a day. Am going out of town and may be delayed. This is your last chance.

It was then Thursday. Lang spent part of that day with Eva as usual, mentioning casually that he was going out of town for half a day or so, and left for New Orleans late that night.

He established himself at the Hotel St. Charles, and was not disappointed to find Carroll not known there. All the next afternoon he spent within sight of the desk, or in his room, with instructions to have any caller sent up to him immediately; but he waited in vain. The evening was equally blank. Carroll had said he might be delayed, and Lang repressed impatience and growing doubt until the whole of the next day had passed. He spent that night with a feeling of being somehow taken in, but next morning he was given a note.

It had been brought in very early by a negro boy, was scribbled in pencil and bore no date nor address. It said:

Sorry to keep you waiting, have been delayed. Will meet you to-day sure. Hope you have brought the money.


Reviving in hope, Lang waited all that Sunday, again in vain, and the morning brought neither message nor caller. Fuming with wrath, he left a curt and angry note for Carroll at the desk, and took the train back to Mobile, certain now that he had been maliciously played with.

At his hotel among his letters, he found one with the stamp of the Iberville, which had been personally left. He knew at once who had left it, and he tore it open with a sense of dream.

Dear Doctor Lang: Father is alive. I have just had a message from him at Colon. He was picked up by the ship that ran you down, and has been very ill. I am to join him at Panama. There is a ship from New Orleans to-morrow which I can catch if I hurry. I am so sorry not to have seen you. I tried everywhere to find you. I am too excited and overjoyed to write, but I will send you word from Panama. I took all the money out of the bank.

Yours most gratefully and joyfully,

Eva Morrison.

Emotion and haste were in every line of the shaky script. She had passed through New Orleans while he waited there. Lang put the letter in his pocket, glad, indeed, but with a crushing sense of finality.

She was gone, Carroll was gone; so far as he was concerned, the emerald treasure was gone. Life returned to its normal, blank and uninteresting outlines.

Doubtless she would write to him from Panama. She would go to Chile with her father; doubtless she would return. But Lang had a feeling that, even if he met her in the future, this episode was ended, closed like a magic ring that could never be reopened.

He must leave Mobile. He was a poor man now and must make his living. The prospect looked dreary. He had not realized how the green glow of the Chilean stones had dazzled him. He had been thinking of late like a millionaire, and dimes and dollars were now his standard. He was no longer an adventurer.

He left his hotel and moved to an inexpensive boarding house. He called on some of the local physicians, made inquiries about professional prospects. The idea of work in the piney woods did not attract him now. He was restless; he thought of going West. Though he quailed at the idea of handling a scalpel, he could practice medicine well enough in one of the new towns in Texas, he thought.

No word came from Eva. He still lingered in Mobile, unable to come to a decision. More than a week had passed when he received a cablegram from Panama.

Will you come to Panama first possible steamer, at my expense? Important.

Edward Morrison.


Lang arrived at Panama, hot and sticky and full of mixed expectations. He had not delayed a day; he had taken the first steamer for Colon, with the remaining two thousand dollars from Yuma Oil belted round his waist. From Colon he had traveled by the Isthmus Railway and his mind was still dazed with heat and hurry, and the unfamiliar Spanish talk, and the wild scenery of the Isthmus and the glimpses of the great engineering work that seemed the sole interest in everybody’s mind. And he scarcely ventured to foresee what he might be going to meet.

He had not the slightest idea how to find Morrison, but he was told that he could find anything at the Hotel Tivoli. Taking a taxi at the landing stage therefore, he was driven to this ornate establishment, where he found that Morrison’s name was indeed known. He was not at the hotel, but at Mrs. Leeman’s boarding house, which seemed to be also a well-known institution. Lang engaged a room, had his baggage sent for, and requisitioned the Ford again.

It was half an hour’s drive, by what seemed devious ways. He felt oddly, nervously in suspense. His lips were dry as the car stopped in front of a huge, rambling bungalow, screened on all sides by a vast veranda, heavy with vines and gay with great red blossoms.

He went up the walk. A barefooted Jamaican negro was pottering about some duties at the steps, and he paused to make inquiries. He hardly understood the queer, clipped half-English accent of the servant, but just then a white-dressed figure came quickly around the corner of the house, on the dim veranda. It was Eva.

She stopped short, in silence. As he saw her Lang felt suddenly full of brimming satisfaction, a pervading, full content, such as he had never known before in his life. They gazed at each other in silence, for a single, magnetic instant that seemed full of mysterious implication. Then Lang, a trifle dazed, saw that Eva was holding out her hand and greeting him with hurried words that he barely took in.

“I never thought I would see you again,” he stammered awkwardly.

“You haven’t much faith in me.”

“I have far more faith in you than I have in anything else in the world,” he returned.

She searched his face for a moment, looking almost startled, hesitated, and then turned quickly, still holding his hand as if to guide him.

“Come this way and see father. He’ll be so glad you’ve come. We didn’t look for you for days—the next steamer.”

She conducted him back round the corner of the veranda, and far toward the rear of the building a big man, dressed in white duck, was sitting in a steamer chair, a litter of newspapers around him. He looked up sharply. An immediate look of recognition came over his face, and he put out a big, bony hand.

It was a very different man from the haggard, unshaven, blind-eyed Rockett whom the physician had studied with such intentness on the Cavite; but he recognized that big, grim, but not wholly unkindly countenance, though the piercing gray eyes were, of course, strange to him.

“Your patient again, doctor!” said the explorer, still with a slight stammer and thickness in his articulation.

“Not my patient any more, I hope. You seem to have made a recovery,” said Lang cordially.

“A little shaky, a little t-tongue-tied yet. I was in the—the w-water half an hour, and it d-didn’t d-do me any good. Better, though, than when I used to s-study you through my eyeglasses and t-try to size you up on that damned steamer.”

“So you weren’t unconscious at all. I half suspected it at times,” Lang exclaimed.

“Oh, partly, partly. I was d-dopy a good d-deal. I must have had”—he stopped and seemed to collect himself—“some sort of fit or stroke ashore, when those pirates were—er—cross-questioning me. I didn’t know about being taken to sea—couldn’t make out where I was. Came to myself slowly—couldn’t move at first—afraid to try to speak—decided it was safest to play dead——”

“I think you shouldn’t talk much now,” Lang interposed. “You can tell me all the story when you’re a bit better.”

“Then when I tried to speak to you at the last, wanting to give a message to Eva, I couldn’t get the words together. The——”

“Hush!” Eva put in. “I’ll tell it. Father had seen Floyd a few days before at Biloxi, and knew that he must be hunting him. So he buried the things hurriedly, for fear of anything happening, and he painted the negro. He knew that I would catch the idea. It used to be a game with us, you know—puzzle pictures. Father has been an artist all his life. Isn’t it strange? He was at the bungalow all the time we were in Mobile, and we didn’t know it. There had been some mistake about the dates. He didn’t expect me South till two weeks later—but we’re mixing the story all up. Of course you know why he sent for you now?”

“Well, I might make a guess,” Lang admitted.

“It’s like this,” Morrison began again, haltingly. “I’m getting better fast, but the doctor here says I can’t travel for a week, and that I must avoid exertion for a month. I can guide, but I won’t be much good else. Eva says you’re temporarily out of medical work. Fate has thrown you in with us, and you might as well go the rest of the way. I pay expenses; you’re chief mate, and you get a one-third share of whatever we find. What do you say?”

“There isn’t any doubt about what I’ll say,” said Lang. “It’s a remarkably generous proposition. Too generous, I’m afraid, for I don’t know anything about mining work. But I’ll do my best, and I’ll climb rocks and chop ice till I drop. I suppose,” he added cautiously, “that there isn’t any doubt about the genuineness of the emeralds? I could hardly believe the story.”

“Absolutely none. I had them ex-examined by the best men in Valparaiso. In fact, the word g-got out that I’d made an emerald strike, and I had all sorts of fellows after me. When we start again we’ll have to be secret or we’ll have a fleet trailing us down the coast.”

“By Jove! we may have some one before us,” Lang exclaimed, suddenly remembering. “Carroll has all your maps and photos, and he’s disappeared—Lord knows where.”

“It doesn’t matter. He’ll never find it,” Morrison declared. “It isn’t where any one would think. It’s a wild, g-glacier——”

He stuttered, and stuck fast.

“It’s a wild, rough coast,” Eva took up his words. “Small mountainous islands, a steep slope, and a rainy climate. They had trouble to find anything dry enough to burn for their fires, until they came on an outcrop of coal right on the coast. There’s a long valley running to the sea, and a wall of ice right across it, like a great gate—the head of the glacier that goes away up the mountain to the top, where there’s a pass. It was the pass that made father stop to examine it. He thought there might be traces of an ancient seaport—his prehistoric Chileans, you know.

“The glacier was melting away at the bottom, of course. The valley was choked with gravel and stones that the glacier had cast out through years and years. Here he found an old copper knife, and then he found the emeralds, right at the foot of the ice. They had come out of the ice.”

“Out of the glacier?” Lang exclaimed.

“It’s my belief,” Morrison broke in again, “that the glacier had gathered them up with all their surrounding rock and gravel, somewhere high up the mountain. The ice had torn up an emerald pocket, carried it down slowly, maybe through centuries, till at last it came near the bottom, and was washed out by the melting. Streams of water were flowing out of the glacier wall everywhere.

“Floyd stole the best of the two stones I found. He lied if he said that he was working on shares with me. I was paying him two hundred pesos a month, and nothing more. Those emeralds—would—would have——”

He stuck again, and glanced hopelessly at Eva.

“Father means,” the girl assisted, “that they could have been cut to I don’t know how many hundred carats if they hadn’t been flawed, and they would have been worth at least twenty thousand dollars apiece. He didn’t have them examined till after he was out of the hospital at Valparaiso. He would have gone back then, but he wasn’t strong enough, and besides he didn’t have the money. He had to go North to get that oil stock and sell it. He had bought it for thirty dollars a share, and was told that it would go to one hundred dollars.”

“That reminds me that I have about two thousand dollars from that stock in my belt now,” said Lang.

“Keep it, for the present,” said Morrison. “Plenty of time. We have a week here to wait for me. I’ll tell you the whole story of the thing to-morrow, perhaps, if my tongue loosens up. You must be completely confused with these snatches and scraps.”

There were many points that Lang wanted badly to have explained, but he postponed them. Evening was falling, suddenly, darkly, like a velvet curtain. Over a decorative row of palms in the distance he caught a glimpse of a fiery red streak of sky above the sea. He had heard several other men coming up the steps to the house—no doubt Mrs. Leeman’s boarders. The sudden heavy roar of a steamer approaching the Canal made the dead, moist air vibrate. It was almost dark on the shaded veranda.

“Is is far south of Valparaiso?” he asked. “How do we go?”

“A long way—over a thousand miles. It’s between Punta Reale and La Carolina, about halfway. We must get a comfortable craft; I’m not in condition for roughing it, this time.”

A gong boomed mellow toned from indoors.

“That’s for dinner,” Eva exclaimed. “We’ll let the rest of the story and all the plans wait till to-morrow. Doctor Lang will stay and dine with us, of course. Mrs. Leeman will give you a better dinner than the Tivoli, and afterward you can telephone for a car to go to the hotel.”

Lang did not hesitate to accept, and Mrs. Leeman, a plump and obviously prospering Los Angeles widow, made him welcome. There were three other boarders besides the Morrisons—two young American engineers from the harbor, and the second officer of an American steamer in port, who always spent his days ashore at this house.

The dinner was good, an attempt at American cooking in the tropics, and every one was jovial. Lang felt in tremendous spirits; the future suddenly had turned rainbow colored again. He astonished himself with his own hilarity, and even Morrison released a somewhat saturnine and stammering vein of chaff. Eva said little, laughed, looked happy, and her beauty had come back as vividly as when he first knew her.

Afterward the men went out to the veranda to smoke, and Lang became involved in argument with Findlay, the American officer, as to the effect, on white constitutions, of prolonged living in the tropics. It was cut short, however, by Findlay’s departure. His ship sailed that night, and his leave was over. Morrison also, by medical orders, had to go to bed at nine o’clock, and Lang assisted him to his bedroom, and, returning, telephoned to the hotel for a taxi to be sent immediately.

Eva presently came out of her father’s room, and walked outdoors with him as he waited. It was hot and cloudy; spicy, musky scents seemed to hover in the air. Away in the city a band was playing faintly.

“Your father has placed a great confidence in me,” he said. “I’m going to try to deserve it.”

“He took my word for you. But he’s a good judge of men besides. I think all’s going to be well now. If he says there are emeralds, there will be emeralds. He’s never wrong.”

“And you’ll be rich and I’ll be rich and we’ll all be rich together. What difference will it make, I wonder?”

“Much, to my father. He’ll have proper funds for his work, for the first time.”

“And much to me. Never did I need it more.”

“And nothing at all to me,” she returned. “There’s your car.”

“Good-by, till to-morrow.”

The car roared up; he took her hand. He might have kissed it; in that Spanish country it would have been courtesy. The car flashed a blinding glare over them as it wheeled.

“Come early and lunch with us,” she cried.

He waved his hand back at her as he got into the car, noticing that the side curtains were closed, and the machine exploded into motion again and panted down the dark street.

It was insufferably hot in that closed interior. Lang spoke to the driver, dimly silhouetted against the windshield, but got only a shake of the head. He resolved to endure it for the short ride to the hotel—too jubilant, besides, to care much about small inconveniences.

The rickety little flivver rattled and pounded, mostly through dark or ill-lighted ways. It seemed to take a long time to reach the hotel. He spoke again to the chauffeur, who seemed to understand no English; and then the taxi slowed down and stopped. The door was opened, and a man pushed darkly inside.

“What the——” ejaculated Lang, amazed at this intrusion.

The driver left his seat and came quickly to the other door. In dismay Lang recollected the two thousand dollars in his belt. He carried no weapon, and as he still hesitated, a strap dropped neatly over his head and shoulders and drew tight, pinioning his arms firmly to his side.

“Got him, Louie? Hold him a minute,” said a voice he recognized.

Too late, Lang kicked out and struggled desperately. There was no room for defense. In the darkness of that hot little compartment, sweat streaming down all three of them, they forced him back, down on the cushions, and Louie sat down firmly on his chest. Half smothered, Lang let out a tremendous yell for help.

“Cheese that!” Carroll commanded. “There ain’t a cop within a mile, anyway. You damn’ fool, we’ve had our eyes on you ever since you struck Panama. I know the old professor’s handed you all the dope. What do you say, now? Come in with us, share alike, or——”

“Or what? Damn you, Carroll! What do you take me for?” Lang spluttered indignantly, too angry to be frightened. “You’re out of it. Why can’t you drop the thing?”

In answer he felt a cloth dropped across his face, then after a gurgling sound he smelled a most familiar odor—the scent of chloroform. He flung his head back, turned it from side to side, threw off the drugged towel. It is not easy to chloroform a man against his will, and he struggled so violently that Carroll let go, cast an impatient word to his assistant, and busied himself with something taken from his pocket.

The cloth had fallen off and Lang breathed deeply, gathering his forces. It was only ten seconds. Carroll turned back, picked up Lang’s defenseless arm, and he felt a penetrating prick.

“A hypodermic!” he thought, with dismay.

He shrieked again at the top of his voice, but he felt the numb influence of the drug passing through his veins, deadening his will to live. In spite of his resolution he grew limp; the sense of struggle blurred, grew dreamy. Consciousness passed out of him.


Lang awoke with the pain of an aching head and a sick stomach. He was in a bed that swayed beneath him; at first he fancied himself back on the Cavite. He heard trampling and loud talking, and a lacerating sound of discordant music.

He opened his eyes; there was a ceiling two feet above his head. He tried to heave himself up, failed and sank back dizzy, but the glimpse he got brought him immediately struggling up again, full of stupefaction and bewilderment.

He was lying fully dressed in a dingy bunk, one of a double tier of bunks that seemed to surround a rather large room. The low, dirty-white ceiling was crossed by iron beams. In the imperfect light he saw heads emerging from the berths, human figures moving, there was much talk and tobacco smoke, and at the other end some one played shrilly on a mouth organ.

Within six feet a ragged, brown-faced man was violently sick. The air was foul. To Lang’s dizzy mind it seemed that he had descended into Hades. He got somehow out of the bunk, his head swimming, incapable of comprehending where he was or how he had got there.

A negro in a white jacket was sweeping up banana peels from the floor, and Lang clutched his sleeve.

“What’s this place? Where am I?”

“Where you think you might be?” retorted the sweeper. “Ain’t you got over your drunk yit? On board de Lake Tahoe, dat’s where you is. Bound fer Seattle,” he continued, gratified by the sound of his own voice. “Reckon you don’ remember comin’ on board. Had to carry you in; you an’ yo’ friends, an’ I put you in your berth myself. It was shore one peach you had. Dat bootleg rum ain’t no stuff to go to sea on.”

Lang stared at him, bewildered, his head too sore to think or remember. The rough crowd in the cabin were beginning to look at him and laugh. He caught sight of an iron stairway, struggled toward it, made his way up.

A gust of divinely fresh air met him, and a blaze of sunshine. A limitless blue sea sparkled. He was on a steamer’s forward deck, the steerage deck. A score or two of ragged humanity, white and brown and yellow, swarmed about him. He pushed past to the rail and stood leaning on shaky legs, his head in his hands, trying to collect himself.

Just aft and above him loomed the bridge, with uniformed officers on watch. Also above him rose the first-class deck, where passengers promenaded. A light breeze broke the ocean into long surges; the ship rose and fell, and a long trail of smoke blew back toward the sun. Far astern, in the brilliant light, he saw a faint shadow that must be a distant shore.

The bracing air settled his nausea. His head cleared. He remembered now—the dinner at the boarding house, the attack in the cab—and with a gasp he plunged his hand under his shirt.

The money belt was gone. His watch was gone, too, and his pocketbook, and everything that had been in his pockets, and now he noticed that his clothes were torn in shreds and soiled as if he had been dragged through mud.

Fool that he had been to carry that money about Panama. He had been drugged, robbed, and put aboard this steamer, bound for—where had the negro said? They must have paid his fare, too. They wanted to get rid of him badly, but he was still so stupefied that for a little he could not think why this should be. It came back to him all at once—Eva, Morrison, the emeralds, the glacier. With the two thousand dollars of the money belt Carroll had capital now. He would have a long start, with Lang at sea for a week, perhaps more.

The fright and anger of this thought put energy into him. He would not be beaten so. He had not come willingly aboard this ship; they would have to put him ashore, somehow, he cared not how nor where. Fortunately they were not many hours out.

He swayed away from the rail and found another steward in white.

“I’ve got to see the captain!” he exclaimed. “Or the purser. Take me up to them. I didn’t take passage on this ship. There’s a—a mistake.”

“You can’t see none of dem officers,” the negro returned insolently. “Dey’re busy. You go down below, man, an’ sleep it off.”

He shrank back from the furious glare that Lang gave him, and turned away muttering. The surgeon looked up at the sacred upper decks, where no steerage passengers might go. He walked aft, glanced round to see that he was not watched, and climbed over the barrier cutting off the steerage deck. Some one shouted angrily after him, but he made a rush for the stairway leading above.

He heard some one running after him, but he almost made the top when a deck hand seized his leg from behind. He kicked violently back, releasing himself, heard an oath and tumble, and sprawled out on the upper deck, to be grasped immediately by another deck hand.

He tore away, ripping his already torn sleeve entirely off. A couple of ladies standing near cried out in alarm. The deck hand gripped him again, shoving him toward the stair, tussling and squirming desperately, and a group of passengers was running up, when the stateroom door at the top of the stair opened suddenly and a gold-laced officer emerged in an official rage.

“What the devil’s all this?”

Lang hoped for a second that it was the captain. At the next glance he saw that it was even better. He recognized the officer with almost a shriek of thanksgiving.

“Findlay!” he exclaimed wildly. “Thank the Lord! Don’t you know me?”

“No, I don’t!” the officer snapped. “What do you want?”

“Don’t you remember—last night—dinner—at Mrs. What’s-her-name’s place? Morrison—I argued with you how—how the tropics aren’t healthy?”

“God bless me!” Findlay ejaculated. “The doctor! Healthy?” He exploded into a roar of laughter. “Sure looks as if they ain’t healthy for you!”

“I don’t know how I got on board,” Lang hurried on. “Give me five minutes, Findlay. I must see the captain. I’ve got to be put ashore.”

“Come inside,” said Findlay, opening his cabin door. “I’ve got to go on duty in ten minutes, but I’d rather be late than miss the juicy sort of story you seem to have.”

He shut the door on the gathering group of passengers, and listened to Lang’s tale with appreciation, and not without sympathy.

“Shanghaied, by gad!” he commented. “Hard luck, for a fact. Paid your fare and took your last copper. I suppose you’ve got more money somewhere?”

“Oh, yes, in my Mobile bank. But that isn’t the point. I’ve got to get ashore. It’s a business matter; it may cause a huge loss——”

“Oh, that’s clean out of the question,” said Findlay, looking at him with indulgent compassion. “The captain would have a fit if you suggested such a thing to him. Why, we’re six hours out. I don’t doubt it’s important, but then it’s important for our passengers to get quickly to Seattle. Send a boat ashore? Impossible. No, you’ll just make up your mind to go on to Seattle with us.”

“I can’t do that!” Lang muttered, appalled. What would the Morrisons think of his disappearance?

“At least I must send a wireless to Panama,” he said quickly.

“Sorry. Our wireless is out of fix. We can receive, but we can’t send till we get some new parts at Seattle.”

“Oh, Lord!” Lang groaned.

“Don’t worry. Your friends in Panama’ll know you’re all right. It’ll only be a few days. I’ll introduce you to the purser and the doctor, and we’ll get you out of the steerage and make you comfortable. I guess your credit is good for that. You’ll like the old Lake Tahoe.”

Every moment was taking him farther from Panama, and Lang had to submit. Findlay introduced him to the ship’s doctor, who happened to have heard of Lang’s Boston record, and was proud to afford hospitality to a distinguished confrère. Between him and the purser they got together a miscellaneous outfit of fresh clothing for him, and moved him up into the cabin, on credit, and even got him placed at the captain’s table at dinner.

They did what they could for him, and there were pleasant people on board, and the weather was fine, but Lang took no pleasure in any of it. He counted the miles that the ship reeled off day by day, all too slowly. Carroll and Louie must be well on their way to Chile now, he felt certain. Morrison had been sure they could never hit on the location of the emerald deposit, but Lang had thought of something that made him much less certain of that.

It was summer now in Chile, and the glacier must be melting fast. The whole pocket of emerald-bearing rock was likely to be melted out to plain sight, even perhaps to be washed down into the gravel below the ice wall. It could not have been very deep in the glacier, since part of it had washed out already.

Carroll might find the whole treasure ready for the picking up. Perhaps Morrison had thought of this. What would they think of his disappearance? Would Eva still trust him? Would she doubt him? He was afraid to think, and he walked the deck nightly for miles, so that fatigue might bring sleep, and pass another night’s run.

He would have been even still more perturbed if he could have known that Eva Morrison, growing uneasy, had finally telephoned the Hotel Tivoli late the following afternoon. She was informed that Doctor Lang had sent a messenger for his baggage, canceled his room, and had, they thought, left for South America by a steamer very early that morning.

It struck her like a thunderbolt. Morrison, when she told him, swore a single, tremendous oath.

“I did think that man was to be trusted,” he said. “Now, sick or well, we take the Tuesday boat for Valparaiso.”

Arriving at last in longed-for Seattle, Lang had a telegram filed for Panama within fifteen minutes of landing. Naturally, he received no reply, but while waiting, he had Findlay introduce him at a bank which arranged to transfer his Mobile account by wire.

When he had purchased some new clothes and paid the difference between steerage and first-class fare on the Lake Tahoe he had about thirteen hundred dollars left. It was his whole earthly capital, and he was risking it on a rather long shot.

Hope of a reply to his telegram faded with the hours. There was a steamer leaving the next day but one from San Francisco for Panama, and he booked his passage. This boat carried an efficient wireless, and after a couple of days out he could not refrain from sending a second message to Morrison, which remained unanswered like the first. Days of tedious, feverish waiting followed. But it was a relief to be going in the right direction at any rate, and at last he was landed again at the Canal entrance.

From the wharf he telephoned at once to Mrs. Leeman’s house and that lady herself answered him. Doctor Morrison and his daughter had gone. They had sailed a week ago, or about that—somewhere to South America, she thought. Valparaiso, perhaps, or Callao. Doctor Morrison was better, but had been much upset about something.

Lang had no difficulty in guessing what had upset him. He walked back to the landing stage, and gazed out across the sunny water, full of indecision.

“Do you know when there will be a steamer for Valparaiso?” he asked a khaki-clad Zone policeman.

“Well, there’s one right now,” returned the officer, in a strong Texas accent. “She’s out yander. But you’ll have to look right smart to get her, for she sails in about an hour.”

Lang owned no baggage but a single suit case, and he was aboard her and interviewing the purser within twenty minutes. Fortunately there were plenty of empty staterooms, and in less than two hours after entering Panama he was sailing out of it again. He had spent crowded moments there, but it seemed a place that he was destined to see little of.

Then followed a repetition of the wearisome and suspense-laden delay of the other two voyages. It was longer this time. The passengers grew excited over crossing the equator, but Lang condemned this geographical boundary. He did not care to go ashore at Callao or at Iquique or anywhere else. He tried to give his mind to the acquisition of Spanish, having borrowed a phrase book from the barber, but the words would not stick in his mind, and he could not bring himself to talk with the Spanish portion of the ship’s company.

From the equator the climate tapered off to cooler, to spring. Sometimes, far away to the east, he caught a glimpse of a white, sharp point in the sky—one of the snow peaks of the Andes piercing the clouds. It tormented him with the vision of that Chilean ice barrier, the glacier gate, which he might never see opened. Carroll would surely be first at that icy bar, but Lang promised himself to be not far behind, and at the thought of possible collision, of bloodshed, even, he had nothing but a thrill of fierce expectation that was almost pleasure. This time he would know how to defend himself, and attack in his turn.

Mist and rain veiled the wide harbor of Valparaiso as the steamer swung into it. Only by glimpses he saw the crescent of the lower town along the shore, and the shelving terraces on which the city climbs to the hills. Rain drove over the wet docks; tugs churned in the mist, blowing acrid coal smoke over the dripping, misty hulls of the moored ships.

The barelegged roto stevedores swarmed along the wharves as he was put ashore. There was a terrific uproar of wheels on the muddy cobbles, and a tumult of harsh Chilean Spanish when he emerged from the customs with his suit case, and fell among the cab drivers. He could not understand a single word of their fierce ejaculations, but he surrendered to what looked the best of them, and was driven away to a hotel whose name he did not know.


Lang had had an idea that his troubles would be mostly ended when he reached Valparaiso. The first thing was to locate Morrison, who must surely be there; he could take no steps before that. The explorer was well known in the city, he knew, and between the hotels, the American consulate and the Anglo-Saxon population it should be easy to get on his traces.

It was still early in the day. He had drawn bad luck with his hotel, which turned out to be an establishment likely to provide a minimum of comfort at a maximum expense. However, it would do for a few days, and he did not want to waste time in finding better quarters.

He had a list of the chief hotels, and he had thought of telephoning to them all, but his first struggles with a Spanish central dissuaded him from this plan. He went out and hired a horse-drawn cab by the hour, and started through the rainy streets on his round of the hotels.

He went first to the American houses, the Hotel New York and the Great Western; then to the Prince of Wales and the Savoy, the English hotels; and finally to the Berliner and the Santiago and the Imperiale and the Kosmos. He drove from place to place as the day passed, and his hopes darkened. Morrison was not known to be in the city. Several of the hotel managers knew him, but did not remember having seen him for at least six months.

He had great hopes of the American consulate, however. He found indeed that the consul knew the explorer well, but had no idea that he might be in Valparaiso. Sooner or later, however, Morrison would be sure to call at the consulate, and the consul gave Lang a list of American residents and foreign boarding houses where something might be learned.

Lang spent the rest of that day in searching these out, and drew a blank every time. He finished on the heights east of the city, where he had ascended by one of the escalidores, having been forced to abandon the cab. The sun had gone down; dusk was falling, and the wet weather had cleared. Below him lay Valparaiso, a crescent of white lights on the bay, with the red stars of riding ships farther out, and beyond them again, vaguely perceived, the immensity of the Pacific.

He had come into temperate latitudes again, and a chill wind pierced his thin tropical clothing. He had a sudden lonely sense of being homeless and lost and in danger. He had broken into his last thousand dollars. A little more and he would be “on the beach,” penniless in a foreign land.

It was a sort of peril he had never had to face before, and the most paralyzing to a man who has not been trained to meet the rough face of the world. Lang felt his courage collapsing, and it was a medical training that suggested the practical remedy of plenty of food and drink. He returned to the lower town, located the best restaurant and ate a good dinner, regardless of expense. Considerably cheered by this, he went to bed early, with a pint of hot lemonade laced with rum as a preventive of chill, and this treatment temporarily stunned his discouragement and assured him a night of the sleep he needed.

Next morning he felt once more capable of grasping the situation by its thorniest end. He called again at the consulate, and then circled the business section by the water front, making inquiries at the American warehouses and importing agencies, and passed the whole day in these researches. He exhausted the field; he could think of nowhere else to look. He began to doubt whether Morrison had ever come to Valparaiso. And time was important.

He felt intensely worried, harassed, working in the dark. At a loss what to do, he wandered the whole length of the long curving water front. There were all sorts of vessels, and a tremendous rush and noise. A big freighter from Australia was unloading; the squat, sullen Indian roustabouts sweated and toiled. The mail boat he had come on was still in the harbor, and he looked at her, wondering when he would take that northward road again.

The end of the harbor shaded off into shacks, fishing boats, rotten little wharves, and he turned back again. He was walking slowly when his eye was caught by a gasoline cruiser moored beside a pier. He thought he had seen it before, but it had been deserted then, and now seemed to be making ready to go somewhere.

Lang knew a little of motor boats, and once had nearly bought one. This craft must have been an elaborate and expensive cruiser at one time, but was growing old and unkempt and paintless, as if she had fallen on evil ways. She was named the Chita, must have been some forty feet long, slim and shapely in lines, with a comfortable cabin and a glassed pilot house, and it occurred to Lang that she would be a most comfortable vessel for the expedition south, provided her engines were in good order.

A man was working over them then, stooping over some adjustment. A second man was stowing away boxes and small crates which a couple of stevedores were unloading from a truck. He too was stooping, but he straightened up and Lang met his eyes full.

It was rather intuition than recognition. The man had a full inch of stubby black beard all over his chin and jaws; he wore a green jersey, rough trousers and boots, and he looked every inch a Chilean sailor. He met Lang’s eye stolidly; but some subconscious shock startled a cry from Lang’s lips.

“What—Carroll?” he almost shouted.

The man at the engine looked up quickly—instantly bowed his head again; but not before Lang had had a glimpse of a thin, sullen young face that he knew for certain. Louie’s face was deeply browned and his rather light hair dyed black, but he was a type hard to disguise. Lang looked back at the deck hand, positive now.

“I’ve caught up with you, Carroll,” he said. “What are you doing here? Where’s Morrison?”

He was astonished at his own coolness, for this was the crisis; the collision that he had anticipated.

The man continued to stare unblinkingly.

No hablo ingles,” he growled at last.

His assurance was so extreme that Lang would have doubted, but for surely having recognized the young gunman.

“You can’t bluff it out, Carroll,” he insisted. “Louie the Lope, too. I’ve got to have that money back now that you took off me in Panama. What are you going to do about it? Are you ready to talk?”

The man spread out his hands with a furious, characteristic Chilean gesture.

Malediction!” he snarled, broke into a gust of unintelligible Spanish, spat violently over the side, and turned again to the freight he was handling.

Lang gazed, really almost staggered for a moment; then turned and slowly walked away. He was no longer in the dark; he could see his way now, and he wanted to think. He heard a step behind him, and a triumphant voice spoke quickly in his ear.

“I’ve got ’em right with me. The old professor’s eating out of my hand. Nothing doing, so far’s you are concerned, doc. They’ve got your number. They know how you tried to double cross ’em, and they’ve got no further use for you. You can go back to the States.”

It was all shot out almost before Lang could turn. Carroll turned back to the cruiser with a malicious grin under his black beard, and in that instant Lang believed his words implicitly.

They had the sound of truth; it was a revelation. For the first time he grasped that the Morrisons must really think that he had tried to forestall them, to beat them to the south. What else could they think?

His excited mind instantly reconstructed what must have happened. Morrison and Eva had hurried to Valparaiso. Carroll, already on the spot, had met them, induced them to hire this power boat, was preparing, along with Louie, to go south with them. Their disguise was reliable. Lang, knowing them well, had barely penetrated it.

The emeralds would be mined out of the ice. And then—— What he knew for certain was that neither Morrison nor Eva would ever see Valparaiso again.

That was if the ingenious plan worked. But Lang felt that he had the checkmate now in his power. He vowed never to lose sight of that boat. Sooner or later, before sailing, Morrison must come down to inspect its readiness. A chance to speak to the explorer was all he wanted.

He walked away without glancing back, circled a block, came back and established himself at a sidewalk café where he had a fair view of the Chita, distant a hundred yards. Here he sat, sipping inferior Chilean beer, intently spying.

A continual stream of boxes and crates and gasoline tins came down to the boat. Carroll and his confederate were working hard; they appeared and disappeared in and out the cabins, but no other visitor came near the cruiser. Comparative quiet settled on the water front at nightfall, and in the dusk Carroll and Louie departed, heading through the business district.

Lang kept to his post, however, till nearly ten o’clock. He was very hungry by this time and nauseated with beer, and he went back to his hotel, pondering whether he could not lay a charge of assault and robbery against his pair of enemies and have them extradited back to Panama. He was afraid of taking any steps less he frighten them off, for the important matter now was to keep them where he could see them.

He was back at his post of observation at eight the next morning, and it was not until an hour later that Louie appeared, slouching lazily down the quay, smoking the invariable cigarette. Carroll arrived a little later; they took in no more cargo, but were busy about the craft till noon, when they once more disappeared.

It was late in the afternoon before they returned, and they did not stay long. They were gone again before six, but Lang perseveringly remained at his café seat till late in the evening. Morrison had not appeared. It might be that the boat would not sail for days. Indeed, it seemed likely that the explorer would take as long a time for rest and recovery as possible.

But, resolved to take no chances, Lang was at the wharf at eight the next morning. Even as he approached afar off there seemed something empty about the wharf. Startled, he quickened his pace, almost breaking into a run. The slip was empty indeed. The cruiser was gone.

She might have been moved to another berth. He looked wildly up and down. Desperately he snatched at an Indian dockman, pointing to the empty place and struggling for Spanish.

Donde esta la—la gasolena-bota?

The roto stared blankly, then waved an arm wide, and rasped out something about “el mar.”

Providentially just then a young fellow passed whom Lang knew, one of the clerks from an American agency on the water front, where he had already inquired concerning Morrison.

“The boat’s sailed,” he interpreted, after a few words with the stevedore. “Went out just about daylight, the fellow says. Oh, yes, I know the Chita well. She used to be a yacht, but was sold; she’s been hired lately, and I heard that some American had her. Were you trying to catch her?” he asked, looking curiously at Lang’s perturbed face. “Not likely she’ll be gone far. I don’t know, though,” he added, after another exchange with the dockman. “He says she took aboard a hundred tins of petrol. Maybe the port officers will know where she sailed for.”

“Ask him if he knows who were in her—how many people?” said Lang.

The stevedore did not know. He had not seen her sailing. Lang turned away blindly, forgetting to tip the man or to thank the interpreter, his mind a boiling blackness of rage and disappointment.

Carroll had tricked him again. It was his own fault. He should have enlisted the police, the consul, some authority; or he should have had a watch kept on the boat day and night. Once more his own insane carelessness had ruined all.

There was only one chance now, and one fact stood out strongly from his defeat. He would have to throw his last stakes on the board where already the dearest lives to him on earth were risked. Far more than treasure was at stake now, and to win he would have to reach the glacier gate before the Chita.


At half past eleven that morning Lang was aboard a train for Concepcion.

He had made a hurried study of maps and timetables, visited the consulate and induced the consular secretary to telephone to the railway offices for him. His only chance lay in railway speed. The line followed the coast southward to Puerto Montt, nearly eight hundred miles, which he hoped to reach in a couple of days, allowing for South American railway methods. From Puerto Montt he could surely hire some sort of sailing craft for the indefinite remainder of the distance.

Vainly he wished now that he had had another day with Morrison at Panama. The valley of the glacier was between Punta Reale, which he located on the map, and the tiny settlement of La Carolina, over a hundred miles farther south. This was all the sailing guide he had; but from Morrison’s account, and Carroll’s, the valley of the glacier gate was sufficiently conspicuous so that no one skirting the coast could pass it by.

Now that he was moving again, depending solely on himself, no longer groping in the dark, courage and energy came back. He was gambling his bottom dollar now. This expedition would take all the money he had left; but he was ready to risk it all, and his life as well, rather than be beaten. Speed was all he longed for now.

The speed was fairly satisfactory to Concepcion, where he had to change trains, and wait half the night. Moving out through the gray dawn, he saw that he was in a new sort of country. Away to the left rose the mountains, steep, heavily timbered slopes, with now and again, far away, a glimpse of an ice peak.

There were strips of stumpy clearings along the track, burned slashes, backwoods farms, log cabins, berry bushes and rail fences, so that he might have fancied himself in Vermont, but for the squat Chilenos and brown Indians in ponchos that crowded the car, and the chatter of Spanish and Araucanian mixing with the rattle of the slow-moving train.

For there was not much speed now. They stopped interminably at primitive stations, where there seemed no reason to stop at all. He snatched a vile snack at a wayside eating house at noon; another at dark, and night found them still jolting and clattering feebly down the line to Valdivia.

It was cold in Valdivia, where again he had to wait for hours. He had time to buy a heavy suit, boots, a woollen poncho, and, by an afterthought, a small automatic pistol and a box of cartridges. It was the first time Lang had ever carried weapons, and the hard lump at his hip gave him an odd feeling of uneasiness and of adventure.

After Valdivia the railway frankly became a one-track frontier line, the train a mixed one of freight and passenger coaches, slower than ever. The mountains had come up closer and higher, veiled generally by drifting mist, and it rained in torrents all one afternoon while they trailed along the rusty pair of rails at a speed that seemed slow for an omnibus.

Lang, fuming with impatience, could not talk with his fellow passengers, who glanced at him with suspicion. He was already far behind his planned schedule; he was hungry, thirsty, tired, nervous and irritable. He tried to snatch a doze on the cane seats; he got out and walked about at the endless stops to load lumber or cattle; and it was almost with astonishment that he found himself actually and finally deposited at Puerto Montt, the end of the railway, more than three days after he had left Valparaiso.

It was evening and raining. He made his way over plank sidewalks into the grubby little town, where he was surprised and relieved to find German spoken as currently as Spanish. He could make more headway in that language, and he established himself at one of the two hotels which had a German manager, though he had unfortunately lapsed into Chilean methods of hotel keeping.

It was too late for any researches that night, but his host reassured him. At Valparaiso no one had ever heard of Punta Reale or La Carolina, but here they knew all about it. The fishing fleet went to La Carolina, and the German landlord was sure he would find plenty of boats, plenty of men to take him.

Lang was haunted that night by visions of the Chita tearing southward under full power of gasoline; but cold calculation assured him that he had a good start. It would take the power boat nearly a week to get as far as this. A fast schooner with favoring winds ought to land him at the glacier valley within three days, perhaps less. Barring accidents, he had better than an even chance.

He was early at the straggling water front next morning, where he found indeed plenty of small craft of various rig tied up at the wooden wharf, while their owners lounged and smoked with carefree indifference. Most of them spoke more or less German. In fact, Lang learned that Puerto Montt was originally a settlement of German immigrants, but these fishermen of the second generation had grown South Americanized. A shake of the head, a “No pues, señor,” was what he got in most cases. Some demanded an exorbitant hire for their boats; others required a week to prepare for the voyage. Lang, irritable with impatience, was growing discouraged, when he came upon a young fisherman who, by his round fair face and blond hair, might have been known to the experienced eye as a north European at a hundred yards.

Lang came to terms with him almost immediately. Gustav Dorner had been born at Puerto Montt, but he spoke German well, and owned a schooner in partnership with his brother Henry. He would go to La Carolina, or anywhere, for two hundred and fifty dollars in gold, Lang to provide all supplies for the voyage, and could start the next morning. His schooner, the Condor, might not be a flyer, but she looked seaworthy and well kept, and, moreover, was not foul with fish like most of the others, having been lately used for freighting Chiloe Island potatoes up to Talhuna.

La Carolina was the reputed destination. The real objective Lang kept to himself. When he sighted the glacier valley he could cut the voyage short, and he surprised his crew by ordering them to lay in supplies for three men for three weeks.

He allowed them to do the bargaining at the local stores for dried meats, meal, flour, potatoes, all the American canned goods to be had. He picked out himself a couple of spades and picks, an ax and hatchet, a packet of blasting cartridges and fuse, a crowbar and drill, and also a .44 caliber Winchester with two hundred cartridges. There was a flurry of shopping, transporting goods, stowing them away, adjusting the schooner’s gear, that lasted all that afternoon. Lang had been mortally afraid that mañana would prevail at the last; but he had revived the latent Northern energy in his Chilean Germans, and at four o’clock the next morning Gustav called at the hotel for him, according to agreement.

The disk of the sun was not yet over the reddened Cordillera when they were off, slipping down the channel behind Chiloe Island, with a light, fair breeze—the last lap of the race, which Lang began to feel confident now of winning.

All went smoothly and that first day was a delight. The sun shone with springlike warmth; the breeze freshened, fair on the quarter, and the Condor made great speed, keeping down the inside channel, past one huge, rocky, wooded island after another.

Lang got out his repeater and practiced with that unfamiliar weapon at floating sticks and shore targets. Gustav, at the tiller beside him, entertained him with stories of the Chilean frontier, and of how his father had come to America to avoid conscription. They ate a cold lunch on board and kept on till the light failed, and when they landed for a night camp Gustav estimated that they had covered one hundred and fifty kilometers.

Lang was jubilant. Another such day might almost end it. But the next morning came up darkly over tossing, slate-colored water, with a thrashing rain. It was what Lang came to know later as typical south Chilean weather.

All that day he sat stiffened and drenched in his heavy poncho, feeling the water drip down his neck from his hat, and wondering if he would get pneumonia or rheumatism from this. But, to his surprise, he felt strong with health and vitality, and even in high spirits, for they were still making speed. The wind was from the west now, and stronger. The boat plunged and heeled, flinging spray far over her streaming decks. Gustav and Henry, at tiller and sheet, handled her with the skill of jockeys, apparently unconscious of the weather, and Lang’s heart warmed toward these patient, skillful, simple sailors. The rain slackened in the afternoon, but it did not clear all day, and that night they slept all together, huddled under the schooner’s deck, with a tarpaulin over them.

Lang slept better than on shore, however, and was surprised to find himself neither ill nor rheumatic the next morning. It was not raining, but gray clouds drove low and heavy over the sky, gusts of mist swept the sea, and a smart west wind blew, promising to strengthen. Coming gustily through the gaps between the tangles of outer islands, it drove the Condor along at a great rate, an increasing rate, and toward noon the two Germans took a reef in the mainsail, with some blind assistance from the passenger.

The mountains rose very high here, white-tipped, most of them, and that afternoon Lang espied a great white streak, dim through mist, extending down the slope and splitting the dark cedar forests almost to the coast line. It was a glacier—not the glacier he was seeking, but the sight gave him a prospective thrill, and a couple of hours later they sighted Punta Reale.

At the view of that huge, rocky headland reaching far out like a barrier Lang felt that he was almost at the goal. It was a hard obstacle to pass with that wind. The Germans, after some consultation, wanted to land on one of the islands and wait for a shifting or a slackening of the breeze. There was not sea room to beat far enough to windward to clear the promontory.

Lang’s impatience rebelled. It might mean spending twelve hours immobile. He spoke vehemently; he had his hand on the pistol, prepared to use force, and the men obeyed the voice of authority. But within the next hour Lang repented of his insistence.

They hauled as far into the wind as possible, making heavy weather of it as they beat westward and ever so little ahead. Just off the headland the breeze seemed to stiffen, coming in violent gusts. The schooner made a great deal of leeway. She seemed certainly going ashore. They were so close that Lang heard the crash and suck back of the seas on that wall of black rock; he could see the crannies spouting water as the waves retreated, and the frothing uprush again. They were approaching it; then for minutes they seemed barely to hold their own; then they were creeping away, thrashing and plunging, a hundred yards farther, and then with a free sweep they began to run down the other side of the headland with the wind once more quartering.

Lang’s breath came freely again. His crew were smiling all over their streaming faces. There was a long island to seaward now, giving much shelter, and for a mile or two they ran in smooth water and with a broken breeze.

A gap in the archipelago brought a gusty sweep, then there was shelter again, and then another blast from the open sea. A long and lofty island followed for more than a mile, and then a great opening.

The schooner rushed out of the shelter into the gap, and Lang never knew how disaster came, so quick it was. Perhaps the steersman had a moment of carelessness, after the sheltered run, and was not quick enough to meet the great gust that whooped down from the open Pacific.

The boat heeled, went almost over. Henry sprang forward, and the next moment the mast snapped close to the deck, and sail and rigging went forward and overboard in a wild, flapping tangle.

It carried the young German with it. Lang caught a single glimpse of him as he went under. Like lightning Gustav flung a line that fell short, and they saw no more of him.

Gustav was thrusting a great knife into his hand, screaming to him to cut. The schooner was drifting fast toward the shore, a short quarter of a mile away. Together they slashed at the tackle that was dragging the Condor’s bows half under water, and the craft righted as the sail tore loose and surged sinking alongside.

“This is the end!” Lang thought, following Gustav’s gaze toward the shore. It was a long, sloping, gravelly beach, where the surf rushed up and ran back, two hundred yards away now, so fast the wind was driving them in.

But the shore was not the danger. It was a broken line of black points, spouting white froth, that was hardly a hundred yards ahead—an almost submerged sprinkle of barrier rocks that they could avoid only by luck.

Long moments passed as the men clung to the uncontrollable hull, before it became evident that she was going to strike fairly on the reef. Lang threw off his heavy poncho, preparing to swim for it. Gustav crept forward to the prow with a long, stout pole, evidently with the insane idea of fending off.

The last moments of the approach seemed endlessly slow. Fascinated, Lang watched that jagged black crag, almost within arm’s length. He saw the water draw back, showing its wet, weed-grown sides, surge up foaming to the top and again suck back, and then the Condor smashed with a terrific surge and shock.

Gustav was dashed helplessly forward, clean over and upon the crag, and Lang saw a sudden flicker of crimson through the foam. The schooner half recoiled, sticking on the rock, lifted to another wave and smashed down again.

Lang hardly knew whether he jumped or was pitched overboard. He went clear of the rock, battered by the waves, swimming with all his strength, drawn back, floating, fighting, growing almost automatic, till at last he felt solidity under his feet and rose gasping and choking.


Knocked down, recovering himself, scrambling and stumbling, Lang made footing, got into waist-deep water, and finally struggled out and beyond reach of the surf that seemed rushing in pursuit. The breath was battered out of him, he felt limp and weak and as if bruised all over.

Wiping his eyes, he looked up and down for another survivor. Nothing but the foamy water moved along that shingly shore. He had scarcely any hope. Gustav’s brains must have been knocked out instantly on the reef, and Henry was long since drowned. Out on the rock the Condor still hung spiked. She heaved up and down, and spray flew clean over her from the striking seas.

At that moment Lang hardly regretted his companions, hardly was thankful of his escape, hardly thought of anything except to be glad to be out of that tearing surf. Brain and wits were numbed. He was cold, wet and intensely uncomfortable. The enormity of the disaster did not impress him at all, but he realized that he was going to perish of exposure unless he could be warmed and dried.

He had thrown himself down, and he lay for some time still before he developed force enough to get on his feet. He had no bones broken, no severe bruises, even, but the strain and shock had left him in a sort of numb collapse.

It was with difficulty that he fumbled for his match box. It was by luck still in his pocket, and was of aluminum, supposed to be water tight. The dozen or so matches did not appear damp, and he looked vaguely about for materials for a fire.

There was plenty of driftwood all along the beach, but it was soaked with rain and sea water. Dense forest covered the slopes rising back from the shore. There must be firewood there, and he made his way across sand and shingle, over a belt of straggling grass, sprinkled with evergreen shrubs, and came to the edge of the woodland.

He expected to find dry branches, twigs, fallen trunks, but everything was wetness. Rain and mist had made a sponge of the forest. He forced his way through the tangle of stunted, bushy conifers that dripped water from their boughs; the ground was spongy underfoot, thick with moss and overgrown with ferns. The fallen trees seemed all mossy, rotten, yielding, and what dead twigs he could find were too damp to be brittle.

As he forced his way farther in, the trees were somewhat larger, but there was the same thick carpeting of luxuriant moss and ferns, the same sodden dankness. White and yellow and red fungi grew on the rotting wood. There were no birds, no sign of animal life, and that whole abominable swamp seemed like a forest in some sunless cavern.

But it was warm here, for the dense jungle shut out all the wind. Shouldering his way about, he came at last upon a tree freshly broken off four feet aboveground, leaving a splintery stump, which oozed with bluish, gummy drops. It was “fat wood,” in fact, and as he realized this he tore off splinters with his fingers and the blade of his pocket knife, heaped them around the fractured end of the trunk, and struck a match.

The resinous stuff flared up furiously. The flames ran over the gummy surface of the damp trunk, and within two minutes he had a roaring and intensely hot fire, such as he would never have thought this saturated forest could produce. He stripped off his outer garments to dry them, and stood in his underclothing, revolving slowly before the blaze, and steaming in its heat.

Vitality flowed back into him with the warmth. His aching limbs were soothed. He tore off armfuls of evergreen branches, shook the damp from them, and tossed them on the fire. When his clothes were nearly dry he put them on again, and sat down, stupid and drowsy. He noticed that the daylight was waning, the fire redder and brighter. The crash and wash of the sea mingled with the sound of the wind in the treetops, and he dozed again and again, finally sinking into a heavy sleep with his back against a tree.

He started up suddenly in a sort of horror, broad awake, feeling as if he had not slept at all. Darkness was all around him, except in the circle of red glow from the low fire, and all the terror of his predicament came down upon him, as if it had been gathering force while he slept.

He had come to the end of everything. He was cast away on what he knew to be a desolate and uninhabited coast, a hundred miles perhaps from any settlement, without food or any means of obtaining any, except the little automatic pistol in his pocket, which he hardly knew how to use. He had lost the great race, lost the emeralds, lost his life, and lost Morrison’s life, and Eva’s, too, if it happened that she had really gone on the expedition with her father.

He dragged the fire together and made it burn up. But he was too anguished now to sit still. There was a soaking fog in the air. The forest smelled of mold and death. He pushed out, blindly restless, toward the open shore again.

Out in the open he found the world full of a pale glow. The air was cloudy with fog, and a strong moon was shining through it. The crash of the surf was fainter. The wind had fallen.

Going down to the water’s edge, it seemed a long way. Out through the fog he could see the wreck of the schooner, and he wondered what optical effect of haze made it seem only a stone’s throw away. It was still spiked on its rock, but now seemed to stand in an almost vertical position, with the stern in the water. Then he grasped the fact that the tide was out.

The receding waters had left her scarcely fifty yards from shore. The waves ran with less violence now, for the barrier rocks, standing in a tall file above the surface, broke their force. And immediately Lang remembered that there was food in that schooner.

He was empty, starving. Instantly he started to wade out, bracing himself against the rollers. The shore sloped so gradually that he actually made most of the distance without going much over the waist; then it shelved suddenly, and he stumbled to his shoulders.

Treading warily for fear of a sudden plunge, he came within a fathom of the rock where the boat hung, and then the bottom went out of touch. He dipped under, but with a wallow and a few strokes he clutched the slippery edge of the crag, and got his hands on the schooner’s rail.

Easily now he pulled himself up. The schooner’s whole bottom seemed smashed out back of the bows, and a great spike of rock protruded through the hole. Everything movable in her must have tumbled down into the stern, and much of it, he was afraid, must have been washed out.

He slid down into the stern himself. Three feet of it was under water, but, as he groped down with his hands, he could feel a miscellaneous collection of loose objects—the handle of an ax, the head of a spade, and a rolling collection of tins, all mixed and tangled up with blankets, tarpaulin, his own poncho, pieces of canvas and bits of cordage. He felt several loose potatoes which he fished out and put carefully in his pockets, and then extracted other objects one by one, dripping in the pallid light

As he retrieved them he laid them in a wet blanket He secured a lump of corn bread, water soaked and uneatable, a piece of dried beef, and one by one, most precious of all, tin after tin of American canned provisions. And among these he struck upon the priceless salvage of the emergency box of matches, its top still fast waxed.

How to get all these things ashore was a problem. Finally he tied them up sacklike in the blanket, with six feet of loose cord, and, holding the end of this, he ventured to jump.

It came near drowning him, but he held fast to the rope and came through, dragging the freight after him. Well above high-water mark on the shore he poured out the cargo and immediately went back for more.

This time he secured the rifle, but could find no cartridges. Its magazine was full, however, and he took it, with a hatchet, a spade, more loose potatoes, and several more food tins. He could find no cooking utensils of any sort, except the coffeepot, which seemed useless, as he had no coffee.

This load was cumbersome and hard to get ashore. He almost had to drop it, and when he landed he felt that his strength would permit no more of these excursions. He was wolfishly hungry, and with an armful of tins, whose labels he could not see, he plunged into the woods again toward his camp fire, which glowed redly through the misty jungle.

With the hatchet he was able to split fragments from the fallen tree, and he made a roaring blaze again. By its light he discovered that he had brought two tins of tomatoes, one of corn and two of vegetable soup—no very filling articles, any of them. He had no better can opener than the hatchet, but he hacked open the tomatoes and gulped down the contents, meanwhile setting the soup tins to heat, and laying several potatoes to roast at the edge of the fire.

While they cooked, he dried his clothes once more. The potatoes proved hard, tasteless, saltless, but they filled his inside, and, with the hot soup, a marvelous change was wrought in him. Courage came back surprisingly. He had supplies now, enough for days, perhaps for weeks. Enough to carry him to La Carolina—enough to take him to the emerald glacier. It was possible that he might be in time, after all.

Hope and impatience came back to him as he huddled in the comforting warmth. The valley of the glacier might be a day’s tramp away, or it might be three or four—hardly more than that. He could scarcely miss it if he followed down the coast. He would have to pack a heavy load of supplies, but he felt hardened to anything now. Meanwhile, rest was the first need. He forced himself to lie down, to close his eyes. He did not think he could sleep, but while plans still revolved through his mind he fell asleep.

When he awoke he was wet again. It was gray morning, and raining. The branches dripped dismally. Only a thread of smoke rose from the almost extinct fire. He split chips with the hatchet, got it blazing again, and went back to the beach for more food, much less buoyant than a few hours ago.

His little pile of salvage lay in a driving rain, and now he was able to see surely what he had. It was certainly more than he could ever carry on his back, and, worse yet, the tinned stuff seemed mostly vegetables. He picked out a tin of soup, however, and one of dried beef, and, returning to his fire, he opened them and ate.

Returning to the beach, he looked carefully over his stores again. It was useless, he thought, to carry the spade. The rifle and hatchet would be cumbersome enough. He sorted out such of the tinned goods as would give most nutriment for least weight, and found a good deal of soup, sardines, beef and salmon after all. One tin box that he had supposed to contain meat was full of candles, which he had brought with some vague idea of underground work. It occurred to him that they might be invaluable for lighting fires.

There was also a lump of salt beef weighing some four pounds, more than a dozen potatoes, the tin of matches, and he piled out twenty cans of food, which should be enough for ten days, or more at short rations. At any rate it was all he dared try to carry, and he tied all these articles together in the blanket much as he had dragged them from the schooner, and made a loop to go over his shoulder.

There was not the slightest use in delaying his start. He packed tins of corn and beans in all his pockets, put the hatchet in his belt, took the rifle in his hand, and started to tramp southward along the beach in the rain.


By degrees the rain slackened down to a fine Scotch mist. Heavy fog veiled the mountains, and the sea was a vast void at his right hand. There was hard sand underfoot, making good walking; then it coarsened to loose gravel, and then alternated from one to the other. He groped inland through the fog in search of a better roadway, blundered into a bog of innumerable little rivulets, and got back to the beach again.

Every few minutes, it seemed, he had to wade or jump a creek that rushed down from the hills. The sky was invisible; he could see nothing beyond the hazy circle of a few yards. It was a gruesome and ghostly sort of pilgrimage, over an invisible landscape, which would have been wildly terrifying if he could have seen it, amid the shifting mist clouds, where the only life seemed to be the rushing, crashing surf beside him.

The weight at his back grew painful; the cord was cutting a groove in his shoulder. He readjusted it repeatedly, sat down to rest, grew chilled, started again, and plodded on till it seemed to him that it must surely be midday.

He opened one of the tins of baked beans in his pocket and consumed them cold, without wasting time on the probably impossible job of fire making. Again he tramped ahead, wet through, sweating with exertion, conscious at times of a queer elation and optimism. Considering all things carefully, it did not seem likely to him that Eva Morrison would have gone in the Chita with her father—a girl alone with three men. She must have remained in Valparaiso, and this growing conviction cheered him wonderfully. However the adventure should turn out, he felt sure that he would get back to Valparaiso somehow. He still had over five hundred dollars on him. It seemed a great resource, and he felt that luck had done its worst possible and that nothing ever could daunt him again.

All day he kept up that persevering trudge. Now and again the mist cleared a little, and he caught glimpses of the forested mountain slopes and the desolate islands out across the channel. He crossed a great headland like Punta Reale, and rounded what seemed an immense bay. The going was nearly always hard and sometimes terrible, with mud or fog or tumbled rocks, and he had no idea of where the sun stood, or how the day was passing. His watch had been drowned and refused to go.

It was still daylight when he caught sight of the white gleam of a clump of birch trees on the slope above him, and he snatched at this piece of luck. He split and peeled off great rolls of bark, cut chips, and broke open a dead trunk to get at dry wood inside. With these aids, he was able to get a good fire under way, in spite of a heavy drizzle that started just then as if it meant to last.

But he was now growing used to being wet, and all he wanted was warmth and food. He broiled slices of the salt beef along with the roasting potatoes, and made a tin of vegetable soup hot. It was bad, but it was delicious. Lang swallowed it all greedily, and, to add to his comfort, the rain almost stopped when he dropped, hungering for sleep, on the piled heap of wet spruce branches.

He slept like a log, careless of wet clothing, but was awakened before daybreak by heavy rain. The fire was drowned out. There was no use trying to relight it. He huddled wretchedly under his blanket for some time, while a wet, gray light came slowly up. He finally ate a cold roasted potato and cold corned beef from a tin, gathered up his stores, and set out doggedly.

That day was very like the preceding. The ground was bad, the shore line growing rougher. It rained for three hours, and then settled into a woolly, clinging fog. About the middle of the day he contrived to build a fire, made hot soup, and slept an hour, and made the better speed for it afterward.

His strength was holding out better than he ever would have expected. He felt capable of going on and on, fallen into a sort of mechanical movement. His mind grew lethargic; he almost forgot at times where he was, what he was heading for. The memory of the emeralds, of Morrison, of Eva was dull in his brain. Hour after hour he plodded on in his numb stupidity, indifferent as any animal to the wind and wet, when he suddenly trod upon something that startled him like a blow.

It was the black, scattered cinders of a fire.

In the sudden shock he thought first of Carroll. But the second glance told him that the fire was old. The ashes were scattered, wet, beaten into the earth. They did not look quite like wood ashes, either; they were full of black charred pieces of stone. It looked like coal. It was coal, and Lang remembered now that Morrison and Floyd had found an outcrop of coal on the coast and had used it for their camp fires.

He had hit the spot; it could not be otherwise. He stared about through the blanketing fog. He made a wide circuit, found nothing more, hurried forward, and came to the edge of a deep and steep ravine. As he stood there he became aware of a strange, cold smell in the air, not like the odor of the mountains or the sea.

He could not see what was at the bottom of the ravine, and he walked up and down the bank a little way, then turned back. Returning to the fire spot, he looked about for the coal outcrop that had fed it. He wanted it for his own fire, for he was not going to leave that spot till he had found out what lay around him.

He looked for a long time before he found it, a hundred yards up the hillside, amid scattered growths of stunted cedars. There were shallow, shelving veins of the black, slaty-looking stuff, and clear marks where fragments had been broken away with a tool.

It would take a hot fire to start that inferior coal, and he had infinite trouble in finding kindling—birch bark and dry wood. What he could find he piled right against the coal seam, for he could see no object in making his fireplace elsewhere.

He sacrificed one of his candles to light the damp wood, spilling the flaming wax on the kindling, and eventually the coal began to snap and flare gassily. It was evidently bituminous, and of the lowest possible quality, but it burned at last with a strong heat that was greatly superior to that of the wet wood.

Lang prepared his usual supper, longing for the fog to clear. There was an orange glow through the smother as the sun went down, promising clearing weather; but as it grew dark and the moon shone the air was like cotton wool. The fire burned red, eating into the coal seam, exploding startlingly as lumps of stone burst, and Lang wondered in vain if this coal meant proximity to the glacier gate. Morrison had, he thought, made many camps all along the shore, and this might be miles from the final one.

He lay awake for a long time, but finally slept lightly and uneasily. He dreamed of the Chita, which might be lying offshore within a mile of him even now.

He awoke suddenly with light shining in his face. It was brilliant moonlight. He sat up. The sky was all clear, but for a faint film of fairy haze.

He was on a long rocky hillside, sprinkled with dumps of small evergreens, sloping to the sea, and rising the other way to the black density of forests. All that held his eye was a river of white, a vast, dear sheet of radiance that split the forested mountainside.

He jumped up, dazzled, and ran toward its nearest point. He came to the edge of the ravine. There was a valley below him, a gravelly beach, the wash of the sea, a sound of running streams. A few hundred yards shoreward the valley was cut sharp across by what seemed a snowy wall. It was a glittering gate, going back and rising—rising perpetually toward the sky, luminous and white against the low moon, as if a flood of light itself had been poured out from the heavens and frozen into solidity.


It was the place—he could not possibly doubt it. Was he the first to reach it? Struck with anxiety, he hurried down to the sea, where the land fell off sharply in a steep bluff. No craft lay in the great bay that was the extension of the valley. Out in the wide channel he could see nothing on the water, neither boat nor light, nor camp fire on the shore.

He had won the race, after all; and now he could hardly be taken unawares, for he could surely hear the Chita’s engines for a long way. He returned to his camp, however, and cleaned and dried his firearms, taking out and wiping the cartridges, trying the action, finally putting the pistol in his pocket and laying the rifle away under sheets of dry bark.

To save time he ate his breakfast, knowing that it must be near dawn by the moon. While he ate he gazed at the magnificent spectacle of the glacier, which, as he finished began to grow dim at its upper edge, and presently to redden faintly.

Too impatient to wait for full daylight, he hastened to the edge of the valley, and scrambled down the twenty-foot precipitous sides. The ravine was nearly half a mile wide, a dismal gulch of wet gravel, all of it probably drift from the glacier, and it was several hundred yards farther up to where the ice wall blocked the valley from side to side, and even slightly bulged over the edges.

He walked up to the barrier. The ice wall towered above him, perhaps forty or fifty feet high in some places, indescribably ancient looking, greenish, full of streaks and beds of frozen gravel. It was melting fast. Streams of water ran out everywhere, and down the center splashed a good-sized cascade springing from a sort of cavern that the stream had hollowed from the ice, and tumbling over rocks that might be either drift or the underlying earth itself.

Here it must be that Morrison had found the stones, and here he must have climbed and fallen and broken his ribs. Lang searched through the wet gravel, poking it with a stick, but found nothing that looked even remotely like any sort of crystal. The rocks were wet and icy and slippery, but he was considerably younger and more active than the explorer, and he scrambled up to the source of the stream without great difficulty.

According to Morrison’s theory, the rock or gravel containing the emerald pocket lay somewhere back in the ice, whence a few odd stones had been washed out, probably by this very streamlet. Lang had imagined himself chopping away the ice, following the stream back, till it led him infallibly to the jewels; but he had by no means realized the immense magnitude of the undertaking. It might not be this stream at all; it might be any other of the scores of them; he might have to tunnel back for yards, hundreds of yards. He need hardly have feared being forestalled by any one; for there might be a whole summer’s work in the digging out of the treasure.

Considerably dashed, and scarcely knowing how to begin, he climbed out of the valley, and once more reconnoitered the sea. He returned to camp and got the hatchet. He wished in vain for the lost ax and pick, and made his way back to the little ice cave of the cascade, and began to hew into the glacier.

The ice was rotten and soft. It was not frozen water, of course, but compressed, frozen snow, fallen on the upper heights, and slowly, slowly sliding down toward the sea, a mile, perhaps, in a century. There was plenty of frozen gravel embedded in it, and Lang scrutinized it all closely, but without discovering any green stones. Spattered with water, covered with ice chips, he worked a narrow tunnel back a long way, perhaps for ten feet, breaking through beds of sand and stones of all sizes, several fairly large rocks, some piece of ancient wood; and then the stream he was tracking broke into four or five rivulets, each coming from a different direction.

He had never thought of such a thing. He had no idea from which of these streamlets Morrison’s emeralds might have come. He hewed a little farther mechanically, and then gave up, at a loss.

He crept back to the outer air, much discouraged. The enormity of the task loomed larger than ever. The problem of that half mile of ice staggered him.

He walked along the valley, scrutinizing the glacier end. Twice he hewed tentatively into fissures whence strong, muddy streams were gushing. The sun had clouded over; the clear morning was growing misty, threatening the inevitable rain. It was getting toward noon, he thought and he returned to his camp for refreshment and to think the problem over.

His coal fire was still burning, and after he had eaten he busied himself at making a shelter, a sort of low shed of poles and bark and cedar branches, which would shoot off the worst of the rains. Complete dryness was not to be hoped for, in this climate.

He was suddenly amazed at his own health and hardiness. He had been shipwrecked, had tramped with a heavy load for Heaven knew how many miles, had been wet day and night, had lived on the most undesirable diet, and in spite of it all he felt rough, tough and full of energy, without so much as a cold. His nervous breakdown had vanished; so had all his mental torture at what Boston thought of his collapse; and all his terror of the future. He did not care a continental for Boston, nor for the whole medical profession. He remembered that the Northern physicians had prescribed for him sea air and a moist and depressing climate. They must have been right, and he had assuredly come to the right place for moisture.

That afternoon he made an exhaustive search of all the expanse of gravel under the glacier, on the chance that the rest of the emeralds might have been already washed out. It took him nearly all the afternoon, and he found a small scrap of rock full of greenish, glasslike veins, which might have been emerald matrix, or might not.

That was the sole fruit of his prospecting. He ended at the other side of the valley, and climbed to the top and came back across the surface of the glacier. It was crumbly and softening. Little streams ran everywhere, some falling down the glacier’s front, others dribbling into cracks and fissures. There were a great many of these crevices of all sizes, some of them a yard wide, and it occurred to Lang that he might learn something of the interior of the glacier by letting down a candle at the end of a cord, or he might be even able to scramble down himself.

Evening came early, foggy and drizzling as usual. He went to look at the sea from the coast, but could not distinguish anything beyond a hundred yards. At any rate, there was no Chita in the bay.

A snowslide came down the glacier that night with a tremendous roar and rumble. Lang started up in a panic, imagining that he had heard engines. It was heavily foggy, and he was not quite sure what had really happened until morning, when he found a vast heap of snow at the foot of the glacier, covering up the tunnel he had hewn out the day before.

It was still darkly foggy, but not raining, and there was no wind as he went up the slope to the glacier, carrying a long, thin cord, a pocketful of candles, and the hatchet. The snowslide had mostly discharged itself over the glacier’s edge, but a good deal had clung to the surface of the ice. It was light, fresh snow, and it had been flung up in great ridges and drifts where the slide had struck any obstruction. The small ice cracks were covered over, but the larger crevices had swallowed up the snow and stood open.

Lang looked down into several of them, deep and dark and precipitous, going farther down than he could see. None of the depths showed any rock or gravel, however, and he turned down toward the tongue of the glacier.

He was fifty yards, perhaps, from its edge, plowing through the snow, when he felt the surface give way under him. He made a wild plunge aside—too late! A vast mass of snow seemed to dislodge itself, vanish, and everything dropped from under his feet.

He snatched at something that went past, a projecting crag of ice amid the whirl of snow, caught it, clung for half a second, and his hand slipped off. He went down—down—losing breath, and landing in a great mass of loose snow in which he went clear under.


Probably the loose snow saved him from broken bones, but, in spite of its softness, the breath was knocked almost out of him. Gasping and smothering, he clawed his way wildly out of his burial. His eyes opened on a dim, cold twilight, on whitish-green walls that rose up and up till they inclosed a foggy-dim gap that was the outer air.

He crawled entirely out of the snow, immensely relieved to find himself unbroken, and got his breath back. He was at the bottom of a crevice, or crevasse, fifteen or twenty feet deep, and three or four feet wide, that extended into darkness both ways. The problem of getting out was before him. He would have to cut steps in the perpendicular ice walls. It did not look at all impossible, nor even very difficult, for he could make his footholds in both walls, straddling the big fissure as he ascended.

His hatchet had fallen from his belt, but he found it by groping in the snow. He cut a couple of steps, and raised himself into them. It was going to be more difficult than he had thought. The crevice was too wide to keep a foot on each side with any ease. He came down, and looked toward the dim farther end of the fissure. He had wanted to see the interior of the glacier, and it would be a pity to climb out without utilizing this opportunity.

He made his way along the bottom of the crack, which came to a sharp edge under his feet. It was not quite dark; a queer, pale twilight seemed to filter in from everywhere. Water was dripping from the top, trickling down the walls and along the bottom; and all at once his feet went from under him and he glissaded down a wet, slippery incline, unable to check himself. He brought up against something solid at last, on his back in pitch darkness; and somehow, he hardly knew how, he scrambled back up that slope almost as fast as he had slid down it. At the top he lay flat, out of breath, horror stricken at the thought of what he might have escaped.

He made his way back to the heap of snow where he had fallen in. In the other direction the crevice appeared to slope upward. It promised an easier way to the top than scaling the sheer wall, and he ventured along it, feeling very cautiously ahead at every step.

It did rise, wet and slippery and almost as steep as a stair, where lumps of stone in the ice afforded him all his foothold. He was hopeful of getting close enough to the top to hack a way through when the crevice ended against a hard, impenetrable slab of frozen gravel.

Impossible to go any farther this way, but, as he groped about in the dimness, he saw daylight through a small crack at his right hand. It was only a few inches wide, but he heard the dripping of water, and knew that it must be in connection with the upper air.

He widened it a little with the hatchet. There was certainly greater space beyond. In high hope, he hewed the ice out of an opening wide enough for his head to pass, and afterward for his body.

He saw a six-foot space, dimly lighted from above, narrowing away in both directions. The bottom, apparently of fresh snow and ice, was shortly below him. He crept through his orifice without any doubt, hung by his hands, and let go.

His feet crashed through the apparent flooring that collapsed all around him. He slid and slithered helplessly in a slush of wet snow that slid with him, down, it seemed, out of the light, till he found himself wedged fast. His legs and half his body were down in or through a tight opening, from which he could not extricate himself. He was too scared to think. Madly he hacked at the ice with the hatchet to which he had still clung. And almost at the first blow a large flake of the squeezing ice fell off, dropped, and he dropped with it.

He went down so unexpectedly that he did not even clutch at anything, and landed on his feet with a hard jar, slipped, fell and scrambled to his knees.

Complete darkness was all around him, except that, a dozen feet above his head, he saw the faintly dim outline of the opening that had let him through. He felt around him. His feet were wedged in a sharp angle. The walls appeared to diverge as they arose. Then for the first time he remembered the candles and matches he carried.

With trembling fingers he felt for them. Three only of the candles were left; the others had fallen from his pocket. After losing three precious matches, he got one of the lights ablaze.

The illumination was wonderfully comforting. The homely light quieted his terror. Almost calmly he surveyed the place where he had trapped himself.

At the first glance he saw that it would be impossible to climb without assistance back to that opening above, which was like a trapdoor in the ceiling of a room. He was in an enormous V-shaped ice crack, narrow at the bottom, widening to the top. Behind him the fissure narrowed abruptly to a mere crevice. In the other direction it seemed to extend some way into the darkness, growing smaller.

Lang quailed with a horrible sense of helplessness, of impending doom. He cursed his own panic, that had led him into this trap. With a little caution he might have got himself free up there, made his way back to his original entrance, and climbed out. Useless now to think of it! The only possible escape now seemed to be to cut and heap up quantities of ice in a pile so high that he could reach the roof of his cavern, and he began to hew into the wall almost hysterically.

He scraped the flakes and chips of ice back under the hole in the top. Working violently, he made a huge cavity in the wall, a huge pile on the triangular bottom. His hatchet went through into another opening. He was amazed, in a dim way, at the number of fissures that seemed to honeycomb what he had supposed a solid block of ice. They must be the result of centuries of warming and cooling, winter and summer, as the glacier flowed slowly down the mountain.

He did not look through into the new fissure he disclosed. He continued to cut, piling the ice chips, till he stopped, discouraged all at once, realizing the futility of this. The loose ice flakes gave no foothold; they slid and sank under him. Without completely filling the chamber he could never get himself to the ceiling.

In a nervous panic he seized the candle and made for the other end of the cavern, where there might be an outlet. It grew lower; he stooped, crawled on his knees; and then it ended suddenly with a black hole in the floor that struck him with terror. It seemed to go down to unutterable abysses.

He scrambled back again, and looked into the crevice he had cut into. There was a tall, narrow fissure there, just big enough to allow his body to pass sidewise. He enlarged the opening, squeezed through, and began to edge along the passage.

It really seemed to lead upward. He had a gleam of hope again. The walls were full of streaks and beds of frozen gravel, and he had enough revival of life to glance curiously into them; but they held no sign of emerald crystals. The passage grew wider, then narrower, and then began to descend. He was mortally afraid of the slope. The candle would not show what was at the bottom. He halted for long minutes, wondering, dreading. But there was no use in going back.

He went down with the utmost slowness and precaution. The slope, however, was only for a couple of yards, and then the passage rose horizontal, and then forked into two. One of them closed presently into a mere rift, too narrow for a cat; and he came back to the other. Along it he edged his way for some ten feet, and then stumbled and dropped through another hole in the bottom.

It was only six feet, and he could have pulled himself up again, but he felt weak and exhausted. He seemed to be in a sort of round cavity, and he lay huddled where he had fallen. There was no trickle of moisture there; the air was dry and dead, and heavy and silent like the grave itself.

He must have dozed involuntarily, for he awoke in a panic. Sleep was deadly. It would mean the frost-sleep, from which a man does not awaken. He got up, swung his arms, stamped his feet. His mind felt dazed. He forgot the opening through which he had dropped, and crept on hands and knees into a sort of burrow that led out of one end of his cavern.

How long he thus burrowed through the heart of the glacier he never could quite guess. Time was blurred to him. He tried to fix his mind on the next movement, excluding everything else, telling himself incessantly that he was sure, sooner or later, to find a way out. He must have gone over the same ground many times; in fact, he fancied afterward that perhaps he was much of the time merely passing up and down the same series of ice fissures, circling blindly. The first candle gave out. Anxious to save them, he crawled in the dark for some time, till the terror of it was more than he could bear, and he lighted another. From time to time he stopped, stupid with exhaustion, and half dozed, and was awakened by the subconscious warning. The icy chill penetrated his very bones. More and more forcibly it began to impress his mind that freezing was a painless death.

But the deep roots of self-preservation lived in him and drove him on. He tried to warm his hands over the candle flame; he tried to speak, to restore his courage, but the dead sound of his voice was horrible. He did not know any longer through what labyrinths he had come, and he took any opening that he could find, splitting space with his hatchet when there was not room to get through, and more and more often sinking down in a collapse that was each time more and more prostrating.

He put the candle out to save it and leaned against the ice, hardly feeling the chill. It seemed—he knew—it was not worth while to go on. Queer memories and fancies flitted uncontrollably through his brain like waking dreams. Shipwreck and danger—Boston—Carroll—Eva Morrison—they were remote like dreams, evoking no reaction.

He became entirely unconscious, and came back to himself with the usual start and scare. The dead dark frightened him. He fumbled for his matches; struck one, lighted the candle. As he held up the clear, bright flame he saw, through a thin veil of ice, a human face looking into his own!


The sight was like a part of his own nightmares, and mingled with them. He stared at the face, dark and distorted behind a pale sheet of ice, and it dawned upon him that it was real.

In a spasm of unbearable horror and bewilderment he wheeled and stumbled away down the passage. Within a few feet he halted, collecting himself. The thing could not possibly be real. He went back, drawn by a horrible fascination.

He held up the candle and looked again. He could see the head quite distinctly through the semi-transparent ice, with the dim shadow of a body under it. It was no vision. It must be, he slowly realized, the body of some unfortunate Indian, who had perished on the glacier long ago, and became sealed into the ice.

Delicately with his hatchet he chipped a little at the ice about the head. A long flake split away. The shoulder came in sight, covered with a skin garment. The shaggy hairs clung in the frozen material. And then he thought he saw the dim loom of another form, beyond the first.

It was some irresistible fascination of horror that led him to excavate around these grim remains. He chipped away the ice from around the first body, intensely careful not to wound the flesh, and saw that there was indeed a second corpse. They were sitting, huddled close together, and a little more chopping brought to light a foot wrapped in untanned moccasins that did not belong to either of these two.

There was a whole party, and it was not hard to reconstruct the story of the tragedy. The Indians had tried to cross the glacier, probably in a winter storm. Morrison had said there was a pass at the top of the glacier. They had been caught in a blizzard, lost, snowed under, and frozen as they huddled together. The glacier had engulfed their bodies, and, in its infinitely slow progression, had brought them at last down to sea level, uncorrupted as when they had perished—how many centuries ago?

It came upon him that he might well sit down with this prehistoric company and join its sleep. It would come to that in the end, and he would be melted out of the glacier along with them. The candle flickered down. It was burned out, in spite of all his efforts to economize it. As if it had been an omen, he hurriedly lighted another, and looked again at the motionless, huddled figures in the cavern he had hollowed out.

He was not sure how many were in the party; there might be four, or perhaps more than that. Except the one which lay prostrate, they were in sitting postures, leaning together. The faces were somewhat shrunken, the eyes closed, the heads slightly bowed, the coarse black hair protruded from the fur hoods.

They looked as if they had died yesterday. Lang thought of Morrison’s archaeological enthusiasm, and imagined his excitement if he could have witnessed this find. The nearest Indian had a rude copper knife, green with incrustation, in his belt, with something like a bundle of arrows, and Lang tried gingerly to pull away the frozen furs to see these weapons.

The stiff hide would not give. He hacked it a little with the hatchet edge, cut a long gash, and pulled the frozen edges apart. He must have cut into some sack. Out of the rent came a stream of pebbles and bits of rock, that glittered with green and yellow and diamond points in the candlelight.

He picked one of them out of the litter of ice chips, curiously, not realizing what it might be. It was a rough bit of greenish crystal, six-sided, the size of a beechnut, half embedded in a brownish bit of rock. It was mostly dull surfaced, but as he turned it over a brilliant green sparkle shot out, and it was only then that he realized what he had found.

He had forgotten all about the emeralds in these last terrible hours. The memory came back to him with a shock. He gasped with confusion and amazement. He had come to the end of his quest. He had broken the glacier gate. He had found the green stones.

Forgetful of everything else for the moment, he stooped and gathered them out of the ice. There must have been a quart of the pebbles, of different sizes, of different colors, too. There were blue and green ones, crystals white like diamonds, and lumps of stone showing merely abortive flecks and veins of green—emerald matrix, he thought. It struck him that the Indians had had little knowledge, and had gathered indiscriminately everything that was crystalline.

He had indeed cut into a skin sack at the Indian’s belt, and, investigating it, he found still another handful of stones remaining. Some of these must be indubitable emeralds—splendid green crystals as large as the end of his thumb, almost clear of rock. Their possible flawing, and whether they could be cut to advantage, he was unable to guess; but they must be immensely valuable. With death all about him, and his own death impending over him, he sat by the pile of jewels and gloated, oblivious.

This was certainly the source of the emeralds that Morrison had found. There was no mine, no pocket in the glacier. These aborigines must have been messengers, burden carriers. They were taking the stones from the place where they had been found—perhaps a hundred miles away—to some other unknown point, perhaps as tribute to their chief, or destined for the Incas of far-away Peru. But how they had been washed out of the glacier he could not imagine, for there was no water, no dribble of moisture in this cavity.

Then the inevitable thought of the futility of it all came down black and crushing. He had found the treasure, and must stay trapped with it. The glacier gate would not open to let him out. He had wealth here; it represented power. It was enough to set all the wheels of Boston turning, to drive a steamer across the Atlantic. Strange that it could not lift the thirty feet of ice over his head!

Yet the mysterious suggestion of present wealth and power did provide strength to his soul. It seemed impossible that he could be going to perish beside that heap of precious stones. Luck had turned before when it was at the worst; and he could not refrain from examining the other bodies to see if they, too, carried emeralds.

The next nearest, when the skin wrappings were cut away, had a stone-headed club at its belt, and a bag indeed, but containing nothing but flint arrowheads. The prostrate figure came next, and he chipped away the ice to get at its waist. It carried no baggage at all, but a sort of spear shaft showed frozen under its body.

The fourth Indian was still embedded in ice, except for the arm and shoulder nearest him. Lang began to chip and hew to clear the body, and was working around to the other side, when the hatchet crashed through a thin ice wall into an open space beyond. He broke the aperture wider, and put his head through cautiously, with the arm holding the candle.

There was another of the usual fissures, a couple of feet wide. In splitting, the parting edges had torn the Indian’s body partly asunder; in fact, one leg was sticking in the ice on the other side. But Lang, hardened to horrors, hardly noticed this gruesome circumstance. He heard the ripple of water. There was a little stream flowing down the rounded bottom of the fissure.

More than that, he saw at once that the rending ice had torn the Indian’s skin swathings; green pebbles glittered in the tattered fur, and green stones lay scattered at the bottom of the running water.

Here was surely the direct source of Morrison’s find. The water came in, no doubt, from the melting at the top of the glacier. It must go out where the emeralds had gone. He had only to follow it to the outlet.

At this positive direction and hope Lang had a shock and revolution in his soul that first dizzied him, and then changed to an almost agonizing ecstasy of joy. He had accepted death more fully than he had realized. With trembling fingers he fished up the green stones from the water, chipping them out where they were frozen into the ice bottom. He picked them out from the torn skin bag, collecting another half pint, of all sorts. He did not pick them over, but among them were two huge crystals nearly as large as small eggs, though both were rocky and flawed at the ends.

He crept back to his first position and hastily gathered up the stones he had left there. It was a problem how to carry them. He was afraid to trust his pockets; they might spill out if he tumbled. Finally he tied his trouser legs tightly around his ankles and poured the stones inside, half in each leg. They rasped and bulged uncomfortably, but he had them safe from spilling. By an afterthought he took the green-rusted copper knife, thinking of Morrison, squeezed back through the hole he had cut, and began to follow the streamlet down the ice crevice.

He was able to walk perhaps a dozen feet, and then the fissure grew too small for passage, though the rivulet slipped through uninterruptedly. Here he found another small green crystal, and now he had to hew away the ice to make way for himself.

He attacked it with energetic strength. It could not be many yards, perhaps not many feet, to the end of the glacier, he thought. At every stroke he half expected to feel the blade break through. He pushed the chips back behind him, hewing and hacking, cutting a tunnel just wide and high enough to creep through, while the little stream ran merrily between his feet.

He cut for a yard—two yards. He put out the candle lest he might have greater need later, and worked in darkness, guided by the feel of the water. The stream dropped through a fissure in the floor. Only a yard, but it terrified him lest it had gone far beyond following; and he had to hew a way down after it and pursue it again on its new level.

He sweated and panted in spite of the chill. Then his feverish energy collapsed suddenly. He got himself back out of the water and lay back, hard put to it to keep awake. Again he forced himself into the tunnel, hewed another ten feet, paused to rest, worked again and again collapsed. He half dozed into a deadly nightmare, awoke shuddering and plunged frenziedly at the work again. It seemed to him that he had driven his tunnel far enough to pierce the whole glacier.

Queer terrors beset him. He fancied that the Indians were stirring back there in the darkness—they were coming down the passageway behind him. He had to relight the candle to steady his nerves. He began to fear that he was on the wrong course after all, and the horror of this possibility almost took the heart out of him.

He stopped to rest again; again attacked the ice, and was encouraged by finding another small rivulet flowing in to increase the first. A yard farther, and his hatchet smashed through into space. He split the screen of ice apart and crawled through.

It was not the open air. It was an ice cavern; the floor was covered with chips of ice, and the farther end blocked with translucent white. For a second he thought he had come back into one of his own tunnels, but there was daylight in the place, and it was snow that blocked the opening.

He recognized it then. It was the cavern he had dug out the day before, in his attempt to follow the stream backward. He plunged at the snow. There must have been a couple of yards of it, but he wallowed through, and fell outside in a collapse of exhaustion, of nerve tension, of relief.

He awoke from a minute of dizzy oblivion. The world was veiled in the thickest fog he had ever seen. Nothing was visible. He could hear the sea and smell its freshness, but all around him was like a pressure of cold, wet steam.

By some intuition of direction he knew that his camp was out to the right of the valley. The thought of the fire, of food, roused a desire in him that was like a madness. He crawled through the snowslide that had filled the valley, came to its edge, and out upon the wet, stony earth.

His knees sank under him. He could not walk, but was reduced to creeping. He would have been an extraordinary sight for his Boston patients; wet to the skin, dirty, with a week’s growth of beard, his clothes torn and mud colored, covered with ice chips, as he crawled on all fours like a wild beast, still clutching the hatchet unconsciously, and muttering to himself.

Several times he sank in a heap, unable even to crawl. The earth seemed to heave and move under him, and strange shapes went past in the fog. He smelled, he thought, the faint sulphurous smell of his coal smoke—or was it hallucination? He crawled in that direction. An illusory voice spoke to him. He came in sight of his camp; dimly he saw his bark shelter, and beside it he saw a seated figure, a woman’s figure, wrapped in a dark poncho, with a striped scarf. It was Eva Morrison’s figure, and he knew that this, too, was an illusion which would presently dissolve.


He felt the ground warm under him, the divine warmth of the fire, and he let himself fall at full length and shut his eyes. A phantom voice faintly penetrated his ears.

“Are you hurt? Oh, you poor, poor boy! Where have you been?”

To answer was beyond him. It was all a strange dream. He felt himself gently pulled forward. The warmth grew yet more heavenly. His face was wiped; it must be a nurse, he thought, with a dim idea of a hospital. He was covered up with something. It seemed to him that some one had kissed him. It was a celestial dream.

He must really have lapsed into profound unconsciousness. He seemed to be dragged out of depths like death by somebody lifting his head, and repeatedly telling him to take something until the words penetrated to his mind. He opened his lips without opening his eyes, felt something warm and wet, swallowed obediently. It was soup, hot and strong. A few mouthfuls went down, and ran through his whole system like a stimulant. He looked up.

He saw a face that he knew. It was upside down as he looked at it. His head was on a woman’s lap, and she was holding the tin of soup to his lips. It was no hallucination. A sense of warm, full contentment came over him, and quite automatically he put the soup aside, put up his arm weakly, and drew that face down to his own.

The contact was warm, electric. His brain cleared suddenly into full wakefulness.

“Eva—Eva!” he exclaimed. “It’s you? It’s impossible.”

She gently disengaged her head, and he saw that she was flushed and her eyes were winking with tears, and her face beamed.

“Don’t talk now,” she said. “Drink the rest of this.”

He knew she was right. He swallowed the rest of the contents of the tin that she held to his lips, looking at her meanwhile, marveling. These things seemed miraculous to him. His strength came back as he drank, and he realized the crisis that must be upon him—since Eva was here.

“What’s the situation?” he asked. “Where’s your father? Is he better? And Carroll—and the Chita? How do you come to be here ashore? There must be danger. Tell me. I’m all right now.”

“Father’s much better. He’s not strong yet, but he can talk almost as well as ever. The Chita is out there in the bay. How did you know her name? Father is aboard her, and Carrero and Diego—two Chileans who don’t speak anything but Spanish.”

“Carrero—Diego? So they speak nothing but Spanish? Of course! Doesn’t Morrison suspect who they are?”

“Of course he knows they’re enemies—now. We got them in Valparaiso. Father was desperately anxious to get here as fast as he could. He thought—he believed—that you——”

“I know!” Lang exclaimed as she hesitated. “He thought I was trying to beat him to it. I don’t blame him. It looked awfully fishy. I’ll explain. Go on.”

“But I didn’t think it,” Eva hastened to say. “I knew there was something wrong. I was worried—dreadfully afraid. Carrero met my father soon after we got to Valparaiso, and offered him the boat. It seemed just the thing. We had it fitted out, and started, and we joined it at Talhuna. We were three days out before father suspected anything wrong.

“He didn’t tell me much, but he gave me a little pistol to wear always. I could feel danger in the air. Father decided to go on to La Carolina, and take aboard two or three men whom he knew well, but Carrero refused to go. He seemed to know the way to this place, and he ran the boat into the bay early this morning, and demanded that father lead them to the emeralds. He offered to share them equally.

“Of course father refused. They argued and threatened for hours. Finally they put me ashore, and said that I would stay there till the emeralds were found.”

“The devils!” Lang exclaimed. “I’ll maroon Carroll for this.”

“Oh, I wasn’t afraid, for myself,” said Eva. “I knew they wouldn’t dare keep me here long. I climbed up the bank in the fog, and walked about, and then I smelled smoke, and came upon your fire. Do you know, I just knew at once that it was your camp. I sat down and waited. I’d been here hours. Then I saw you coming. I shall never forget how you looked—as if you’d come from the dead.”

“From the dead? So I had!” cried Lang. He sat up and burst the knotted strings around his ankles. A stream of wet, rolling, twinkling crystals rolled out, pebbles and bits of rock and chips of ice along with them. Eva gave a little, startled cry.

“I’ve been through hell and the glacier. I think I bored the glacier from end to end. I came from the dead, all right, and I brought back what I went for. Here they are—the emeralds!”

“The emeralds—those little stones? And so few?”

“So few? They may be worth a million dollars—sure to be, if they’re all perfect. But they aren’t. And there’s a lot of rubbish mixed with them. I couldn’t sort them there in the dark.”

A shudder went through him at the memory of that ghastly ice cavern. It seemed unreal now as a distant nightmare. He began to pick out pieces of rock and discard them. Eva turned the stones over in her fingers with more respect.

“Look at this one—and this,” he said, “and think of what the jewelers charge you for a little emerald the size of a pea. And this! It would be worth a fortune in itself, but I’m afraid it’s imperfect. The smaller ones are better.”

By the daylight he could gauge the stones, and he was able to throw out a great many obviously worthless bits, rough greenish matrix, or plain fragments of stone. Between them they sorted the heap. Eva laid her little striped scarf on the ground, and they placed the pick of the stones upon it in a little, growing pile; and meanwhile Lang gave her a hurried, abbreviated account of his adventures—his kidnaping, his voyages, his shipwreck and subsequent struggles.

“Oh, what hardships! How you have suffered!” Eva exclaimed, almost tearfully. “And all for this,” pointing to the jewel heap; “it wasn’t worth it.”

“No, it wasn’t,” said Lang. “But it wasn’t all for that. It was——Well, if those emeralds should bring a million dollars they’d never be worth the feeling I had when I opened my eyes just now and saw your face looking down at me—and it was upside down, too.”

He looked into her eyes, half smiling, half appealingly. He could not mistake the look of tenderness in the brown eyes that met his unreluctantly. A surge of pride, of exultation rose through him. He put out his hand, but before he touched her the girl’s face changed sharply. She uttered a faint, startled cry; and Lang, jerking about, caught a glimpse of a huge, blurred figure emerging soundlessly from the fog, already hardly ten feet away.

He saw the black beard, the fur cap sparkling with drops of moisture; and without a word he snatched at the automatic pistol in his hip pocket.

“Drop that! Drop it, Lang, I say!” cried Carroll sharply, already with his weapon drawn. But Lang desperately pulled the trigger. The wet mechanism stuck.

“Hands up, Lang—both of you—or I’ll drop you cold!” Carroll ordered, drawing a bead on the doctor’s chest; and Lang savagely hurled the useless pistol down and put up his hands. Carroll looked triumphantly at them both.

“Do you know, I half expected to find you here,” he remarked. “Yes, I sort of guessed you’d got ahead of us, though I’m damned if I see how you did it; but you always were quick.”

His eyes fell suddenly on the little heap of stones. He bent forward, then straightened up with a hissed ejaculation, tense, glaring.

“You did it after all, did you? Get back; keep back!”

He bent again and gathered up the scarf, drew the emeralds together and knotted up the corners, keeping a keen eye on his prisoners. He slipped the extemporized sack into his pocket, with a red-and-white scarf end hanging out.

“You stay where you are for half an hour,” he commanded. “I’ll be watching you. One move, and it’ll be the last you’ll make.”

He edged away, his face over his shoulder. His figure was growing faint in the fog, when Lang leaped toward the bark layers that covered his rifle. He snatched it out, aimed, fired, once—twice at the vanishing form. It seemed to lurch, stumble; and a pale flash came back from it, with a bullet that knocked up the fire cinders. Lang fired again, and then the figure had entirely disappeared.

“He mustn’t get back to the boat!” he exclaimed. “We must head him off.”

Once aboard, he realized like a flash, Carroll would put on the power and leave them marooned. He started impulsively away, halted dizzily, not knowing in which direction lay the sea.

Eva took his hand and guided him. A breeze had risen, and the fog was sweeping in, huge pillars and billows of it. Through its blinding density, they ran together down the slope, and must have been near the water when Lang heard a sound of hurrying footsteps ahead.

He had expected that. He drew Eva aside into the shelter of a dense cedar shrub. A figure grew in the fog, growing to a slim, boyish form, running so as to pass directly where Lang stood. He stepped suddenly out.

“Is that you, Carroll?” exclaimed the runner. “What was that shooting? Hell!”

Lang’s rifle was already swinging, but the gunman was so swift that he already had his revolver clear of his pocket when the steel rifle barrel crashed down on his skull. He dropped limply, flinging his arms wide. Lang picked up the pistol and stood listening. No sound came from landward.

“We’ve headed him off,” he said. “Go on board, Eva, and tell your father what’s happened. Tell him to let no one aboard. I suppose he’s armed. I’ve got to get our treasure back.”

She hesitated dumbly. He gathered her into his arms with a passionate impulse, holding her close, kissing her wet face, her lips. She clung to him, her eyes shut, responding to his kisses, until he let her go, looking dazed and dreamy.

“Go aboard quickly, dearest,” he said.

“You’re going to risk your life—you mustn’t!” she murmured.

“Trust me. Don’t worry. Just go aboard,” he answered, and wheeled, casting another look at the senseless, or dead Louie.

He ran back up the slope, his rifle cocked, looking about him keenly. In his excitement he had no sense of danger. The thought that the emeralds should be lost at this stage was maddening to him, after all the horrors he had gone through to get them. But he knew that Carroll could not have gone far; he could make no final escape on that desolate coast; he would assuredly be rounded up.

He came to the place where Carroll had disappeared. Searching the ground closely, he found spots of blood. Carroll had really been hit, then; but it could not have been severely, for he had gone on, and the blood-drops ended after the first few yards.

A scout might have trailed him, but it was vain for Lang to try. He prowled forward in the direction Carroll had been taking, rifle ready to shoot, realizing now that he was very liable to be shot down suddenly himself. He thought once that a shadow rose and flitted before him. He shouted, and then fired after it; but on going forward he found neither traces nor tracks.

He prowled ahead again, sweeping a wide circle, groping past shrubs and tree clumps that looked like men in the fog. He had gone a couple of hundred yards when a flash and report spat from a thicket ten feet ahead, with a ringing sound in the air by his ears. His nervous start fired the rifle from the hip. Instantly he dropped flat, and fired again at the point where he had seen the flash.

Nothing replied. The fog rolled over and over in clearing waves. After lying strained to high tension for fifteen minutes, Lang crawled cautiously forward. He found footprints in the soft ground this time, but Carroll had slipped away.

Again he resumed the slow scouting forward, more keenly strung up than ever. The air seemed to be growing dim, though the fog was certainly clearing. It came upon him that it must be evening. He had forgotten the hours; he had lost all track of time, and did not know whether it was still the same day that he had fallen into the glacier. It might have been the next day, or the next. In fact, he felt as if whole ages had elapsed since that tumble into the crevice.

He stared up the obscure slope, where the fog cleared, and closed, and cleared vaguely in the dusk. It was useless to pursue Carroll in the dark, and might be suicidal. The fugitive could not get away, especially since he was wounded. He was without food. He could be captured the next morning. Lang stood out in the open and shouted.

“Carroll! Carroll! Come out. Surrender. Give back the stones and we’ll call it off.”

His voice echoed weirdly up the hillside, but there was no answer. He shouted again, at the utmost pitch of his voice.

All at once he remembered that the magazine of his rifle could not contain more than one or two more cartridges, and he had no more in his pockets. This was the conclusive touch. He turned and walked back toward the sea, not without a sense of nervous expectancy, and a quick readiness to look back.

But nothing molested. He passed his old camp, where the fire still smoldered, went down to the foot of the glacier and climbed over the piled snow into the valley. From the beach he saw dimly a series of yellowish lights at no great distance. He hailed, and an answer came instantly in Morrison’s deep voice.


The Chita was moored a little way down the beach of the bay, with her dinghy attached to shore and rail so as to make a gangway to the land. Lang hoisted himself aboard. A big figure loomed up on the deck, and a big bony hand was thrust out to him.

“Did you get him?” Morrison demanded anxiously.

“No, I didn’t,” Lang responded. “I shot at him twice. Afraid I missed him. It was getting too dark and——”

“It doesn’t matter. He can’t escape us. We’ll have him to-morrow. Eva says you’ve found the emeralds. You’ve got a story of adventure to tell.” He hesitated. “Doctor Lang, the service you’ve done us has been incredible. You’ll get your reward, I hope.”

“I’m not worrying about my reward,” said Lang. He sank on a deck seat, feeling utterly played out. He heard Morrison going on, endlessly, it seemed, expressing his gratitude, his admiration, and he wished irritably that he would stop. Eva also suddenly appeared out of the lighted cabin.

“Have you such things as hot water aboard, and soap, and so on?” he roused himself to interrupt. “Also a razor and any clothes that you can lend me. I’ve slept and tramped and swum and mined in these till——”

“Of course. Of course,” Morrison warmly assured him. “I’ll fix you up. Come with me. When you’ve finished, Eva’ll have something for us to eat, and you can tell us your adventures. You must be starved, man!” he ejaculated, staring, as they went down into the cabin light. “You look as if you’d been through all the mills of the gods.”

Lang felt like it. They left him alone in a little cubby-hole called a bathroom with his toilet facilities. He managed to wash and to shave after a fashion, cutting himself several times, and to change to a suit of Morrison’s, coat and trousers, several sizes too large for him. His eyes and head ached, his hands trembled, and he thought he needed food.

He thought he was ravenously hungry, but when he came out to the spread table in the cabin he could not eat. There was tinned salmon—the sight of it nauseated him. Never again in his life would he eat anything out of a can. But he knew that he ought to take food. He swallowed coffee eagerly, and tried to eat a little corn bread—getting it down with difficulty. They urged things on him with anxious solicitude; they were greatly distressed that he could not eat.

It was heavily on his mind that he ought to explain to Morrison his disappearance from Panama; and he began to tell the story, feeling not quite certain of his words. It seemed to turn out a very funny story; Morrison presently roared with laughter at the account of his straits aboard the Lake Tahoe. Lang could not see the humor of it. He almost lost his temper, and switched to the story of his meeting with Carroll in Valparaiso. In another minute, he hardly knew by what transition, he found himself describing his shipwreck.

He was terribly tired. He wished that they would leave him alone. He leaned his head back against the wall for a moment, was afraid that he would go to sleep, and tried to collect himself.

“That’s not the most interesting thing,” he recommenced. “It’s what I found. Went right through it—the glacier, you know. Broke the glacier gate, as you called it. More than emeralds—far more important, to an arch-arch’logist. Camp of dead Indians, prehistoric men—copper knives—stone clubs—frozen solid. A carrier party—no mine there—historically more precious than rubies—I mean emeralds——”

He leaned his head back involuntarily and the words seemed to melt on his lips. He wanted extremely to be let alone for a minute, to rest and collect himself. Some one was pulling at him. He muttered angrily without opening his eyes; and then they did let him alone at last.

Light was shining on him when he opened his eyes, and not the light of lamps. Dazed, he found himself lying on the cabin divan, his coat and boots off, his head on a cushion and blankets wrapped about him. As he stirred he heard a faint sound, and Eva’s face appeared above him. And, drunk still with sleep, he put up his arm almost unconsciously, and drew it down to his own, as he had done once before.

“I’ve been asleep,” he muttered. “It isn’t morning?”

“It’s just after ten o’clock,” she laughed.

She seemed delighted, but Lang was struck with horror. Impossible that he could have slept so, ever since last sunset. He sat up, caught a glimpse of the mountainside and the glacier through the window, and the memory of the past day crashed back into him.

“Carroll—Louie? What’s happened?” he exclaimed.

“Nothing’s happened. We’ve been taking turns on guard all night. All’s well. I’ve been keeping your breakfast hot for you.”

She gave his head a little squeeze, and darted off to the tiny galley where a gasoline stove burned. Once the Chita had been equipped with electric light and heat, but these fittings had long since gone into disrepair.

Lang hurriedly put on Morrison’s coat again, and his own boots, which they had cleaned and oiled for him out of their hardened stiffness. Hearing voices, Morrison came down from the deck.

“You’ve a great capacity for sleep, young man,” he observed. “Thank Heaven for it. You were on the raw edge last night—pretty close to collapse. How do you feel?”

Lang felt rested, and said so. He felt marvelously recuperated, in fact. There was a stiffness in his legs, but his brain was clear, he was full of energy, and he was ravenously hungry.

“I’ve been up the hill, but no sign of Carrero—or Carroll,” said Morrison. “He took a shot at us in the night, though—a long-range shot, fired away up the shore. I couldn’t see the flash. But look what I’ve got here.”

He opened a door into one of the tiny cabins of the Chita, and revealed Louie the Lope stretched in the berth, covered with a blanket. The young gangster moved his head slightly and moaned.

“Found him lying in a heap just on the shore this morning,” said Morrison, regarding Louie with aversion. “He’s pretty sick. He’s had a bad cold coming on for several days; I thought it might run to pneumonia. And then your knocking him out, and his lying out in the damp all night, didn’t do him any good. I had almost to carry him aboard.”

Lang would not have minded killing Louie, but the idea of disease aroused all his medical instincts. He put his hand on the gunman’s forehead, felt his pulse. Louie muttered something, and appeared only semiconscious.

“Not much fever,” said Lang. “A little concussion, maybe, from the blow on the head. I think he’ll be all right. I’ll look after him later. I’ve wasted too much time already, sleeping.”

His stomach almost shrieked for food, in fact, and his breakfast was waiting for him. There was no trouble now about appetite. He had to restrain himself lest he eat too much. He devoured Chilean maize mush, corn bread, potatoes, pork, with ravenous relish, while Eva served him, and at the end he felt more than ever invigorated. It was the first really square meal he had eaten since Valparaiso.

“Now, we can’t both leave the ship,” he said to Morrison. “Carroll might circle back on us, Eva can’t be left here alone. You’ll stay on guard. I’ll scout up the hill a little. If I need you I’ll fire two shots rapidly. I suppose you’ve got a rifle to spare?”

He had two, and Lang’s plan was so obviously right that he could not make any objection. Only he stipulated that if Lang found nothing in the course of half an hour he should come back and give Morrison his turn.

It was a fair day for once. There was no fog, no wind, and the sun almost shone by moments from the gray sky. Lang crossed the boat bridge to shore, clambered up the side of the ravine, and started up the long slope.

He felt full of elation; full of confidence. It was not likely that he would find any trace of the fugitive so near the beach, but he searched carefully into all the copses and thickets as he worked up the shore, till he came to his old camp.

He half expected to find that Carroll had spent the night there, but he found no sign of it. The fire still smoldered, burning far down into the coal seam now, and all the earth about it was heated. He turned in the direction he had followed the night before, moving warily now, expectant every instant of a shot from ambush, but he had gone several hundred yards before he found any trace of his man.

Then, all at once, he saw him. He saw him from a distance, and with such a shock that he half raised the rifle. But Carroll’s posture was reassurance enough.

He hastened up. Carroll was lying face down at the edge of a clump of cedar, his hat off, his limbs sprawling. He looked dead, but there was life in his pulse when Lang touched his wrist.

The emeralds! Lang felt his pockets, turned him over. They were empty. He ran his hands all over the man’s body. There was no bulging package anywhere, no loose stones about his clothing.

He was dumfounded. He had never dreamed of such a check. There was a bullet wound in Carroll’s head, no doubt from the last shot that Lang had fired into the thicket. He must have staggered several yards afterward. He had thrown the stones away, or dropped them. One trousers leg was stiff with blood, too. That was from Lang’s first shot, and probably Carroll had cached the jewels immediately after finding himself wounded.

Lang looked about on the ground, moved the body to see if anything was under it. The earth was overgrown with moss and ferns. That little silk package would be lost like a needle in straw. It might be anywhere within half a mile. Carroll alone could tell what he had done with it.

After casting wildly about for several yards, he came back and for the first time examined Carroll’s wound. The bullet had entered the skull almost above the ear, rather high. It had not emerged, but Lang could feel that it was just below the skin near the opposite temple.

It was not necessarily fatal. He had seen such a case before in his Boston clinic. He had operated then, and with success. He sat down by the unconscious man and fell into a profound study, and for the time the emeralds passed out of his mind.

He remembered to fire the double signal shot, and relapsed into thought again. If he only had a trephine—the little drill that cuts a round piece out of bone! He heard Morrison halloing from a distance, responded, and presently the explorer came up, panting, holding a cocked Winchester at the ready. His eye fell instantly on the prostrate figure.

“Dead?” he asked quickly. “Have you got the stones?”

“The stones? I don’t know where they are,” responded Lang. “No, he isn’t dead. He’s lost, or hidden them somewhere—Lord knows where.”

Morrison cursed. His eyes roved wildly.

“My God!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got to get them! Is he going to die? Can’t you revive him with a strong stimulant or something so that he can speak before he dies? Surely it’s possible?”

The situation was so exactly the reverse of the former one aboard the Cavite that Lang, in spite of his abstraction, could not refrain from a short laugh. Morrison did not see the point.

“Even if it kills him!” he insisted, reinforcing the analogy.

“Very likely he hid the emeralds shortly after I hit him in the leg,” said Lang. “Look here! I’ll show you what’s happened. My bullet went through his skull. He must have been knocked senseless by the shock, but he came to, and staggered some distance. Maybe he got rid of the stones then, and his gun, too, for I don’t see it. Then he became unconscious again, but not from the wound directly. A blood clot has formed on the surface of the brain where the bullet entered, and it’s that which is paralyzing him. He might survive the bullet wound.”

“What, right through the brain?” ejaculated the explorer.

“Oh, yes. It often happens. I suppose you’ve got some sort of medical or surgical kit aboard? You wouldn’t have a trephine, of course. Got a surgical saw? Any anæsthetics and disinfectants?”

“Six ounces of ether and a bottle of iodine,” responded Morrison. “I’ve got some forceps and scissors and sterilized cotton, and a very fine, sharp hack saw. What are you thinking of doing?”

“I’m going to operate,” said Lang decisively. “I’m going to remove that blood clot. It’ll restore consciousness almost surely, when he comes out of the anæsthetic, and there’s a good chance that he’ll recover. We can’t take him aboard. It would kill him. I’ll operate at my old camp. Help me carry him up there, and then go back to the boat and bring up your surgical kit, and a razor and soap and clean towels and basins and all the biggest kettles you have for heating water. Bring Eva—Miss Morrison along, too, if she has the nerve. I’ll need both of you to help.”


They bore the patient as gently as possible to the camp, and placed him in the bark shelter, close by the warmth. Lang built up the fire, while Morrison hurried away for the needed utensils.

Eva came back with him, looking rather pale and excited. Both of them were laden with blankets, towels, kettles of water and all the extemporized instruments that Morrison could lay his hands on. Lang knew what she was thinking of, but his professional breakdown seemed to him now a far-away, unimportant thing. He was not concerned with it. He knew exactly what he had to do; he had no doubt of being able to do it.

While the kettles of water came to a boil, Lang sat and put a finer edge on one of the keen pen-knives Morrison had brought. He put the instruments into the boiling water, timing them for the required twenty minutes’ sterilization. He scrubbed his hands assiduously, sponged them with iodine, laid out the apparatus to his hand. He did not say a word and looked utterly abstracted, but his mind was thrilling with an elation that he had not known for a long time.

When sterilization was complete, he took out water in a basin to cool; then folded a towel into cone shape, placed it over Carroll’s face, and dropped on the ether. He kept one hand on the patient’s pulse; from time to time he raised an eyelid and warily examined the pupil. Carroll was weak with loss of blood; he needed careful treatment, but his unconsciousness made anæthesia come more quickly.

Lang surrendered the ether bottle to Morrison, with instruction to drop a little more at the word. He then turned Carroll’s head gently to expose the spot where the bullet lay. With the razor he shaved away a bare space; he cut a small slit, and, as he expected, the little blackened lump of lead almost popped out. He cleansed the wound carefully, applied a wad of absorbent gauze, and fastened it down.

So far all was easy and simple. The critical part was to come. Without any hesitation, he turned the patient’s head again, and shaved and cleaned a space of about three inches around the wound, which made a purplish spot on the white scalp. A little more ether was given.

“Hand me the knife,” he ordered. “Be ready with the saw. Don’t touch anything. Hand them with the forceps.”

With a quick, deft stroke he made a semicircular incision around the bullet mark, and turned back the flap of skin. Reaching for the keen little saw, he attacked the skull in the shortest cut he could contrive.

At the rasp, and the first reddened particles of bone under the steel teeth, Eva turned pale, but braced her nerve. Lang did not notice; from that moment he was aware of nothing but his work. Impassive and abstracted as he looked, jubilation sang in him. His hands obeyed his will. He felt as if he had been restored to life; as if a familiar spirit, long absent, had returned to serve him.

He had to handle the makeshift tools with the utmost delicacy. Fortunately the wound was on the most convex part of the skull, where it was possible to cut a hole with a straight saw. The first incision once through the bone, he began another at right angles to it, and then a third, completing the square with the fourth. With the forceps he gently loosened the little block of bone.

It came out. Beneath it was, as he had expected, a large, dark blood clot. Partly with the forceps, and partly with his fingers, he removed this, and cleansed the surface with the utmost pains.

He was doubtful whether to reinsert the block of bone. In a hospital he would probably have resorted to a silver plate. Replacement might involve infection; it was best to take no chances. He drew the flap of skin back, and fastened it down with four stitches. He laid down the needle, washed his hands, and glanced at his audience with a triumphant and nervous smile.

“Is it successful? Will he live?” asked Morrison, almost in a whisper.

Lang glanced again at the patient’s eyeballs, felt his pulse. It was weak. The man breathed harshly; his hands were cold.

“Have you any stimulant? Brandy?”

Morrison had had the forethought to bring a bottle. Lang forced a few spoonfuls between the locked teeth. The pulse fluttered, then relapsed. Lang shrugged his shoulders.

“Will he live—become conscious?” Morrison asked again.

“No, he won’t,” Lang replied cheerfully. “I don’t think he’ll come out of the ether. Maybe he had a little too much. He was in no condition for an operation in this cold, outdoor spot. Shock was too much for him.”

“But the emeralds?” Morrison cried. “How’ll we find them?”

“We’ll never find them,” said Lang, without concern. Emeralds were nothing to him just then. He had recovered what was more to him than any emeralds, and he glanced at Eva and met her fascinated, astonished gaze with an almost delighted smile. He knew that she knew.

But Morrison, groaning and raging, had fished out the shapeless bullet from the basin, and was examining it.

“Look here? How’s this?” he exclaimed. “You shot him with your rifle—a .44 soft bullet, I know. This bullet never came from that gun. This is a revolver bullet, a small bullet, an automatic.”

Startled out of his dizzy elation, Lang took the bullet and looked at it. Indeed it was, as he recognized, too small for his rifle.

“Who fired that bullet?” Morrison was demanding hoarsely. “Who killed him? You didn’t. Suicide? Nonsense!”

Suddenly Lang remembered the shot that Morrison had heard in the night.

“Louie was ashore all night!” he exclaimed.

“By gad, he was!” cried Morrison. “It was his shot. The young rattlesnake met Carroll, got his gun, shot him, got the stones. It can’t be anything else. Louie’s cached them somewhere. Thank Heaven we’ve got him under our hands.”

He snatched up the rifle and dashed toward the beach, intending to close the business at last. Lang glanced at his patient; he would be back in a minute, and, with a hasty word to Eva, he ran after Morrison, overtaking him on the bluff over the bay.

The Chita was below them, thirty yards away. Her cabin windows were wide open, and Lang caught a vague stir of movement within.

“It’s Louie,” Morrison whispered. “I thought he was too sick to move. I’ll bet he was putting it all on. What’s he doing? I could hit him from here.”

“Don’t shoot,” said Lang. “Keep your eye on him, though, and don’t let him get near the engines.”

He slipped down the side of the valley and out to the beach. He had a vague idea that Louie was perhaps delirious with incipient pneumonia. He silently crossed in the dinghy, swung over the Chita’s rail, and peeped in the cabin door.

The young gunman had the trap of the fuel hold up, and the cap off one of the big gasoline tanks. He jerked his head up instantly.

“Stop there, doc!” he yelled shrilly. “Hands up—up high. Come another step nearer and I’ll shoot into this gas tank and blow us all to hell.”

Lang now perceived that Louie had a pistol—Carroll’s black automatic, he was sure—not pointing toward him, but with the muzzle directed into the tank below. He put his hands up instantly. He did not remember whether he had a gun in his pocket or not. He realized that Louie had the undeniable drop this time. That gun flash would explode the Chita like a load of dynamite.

“Don’t be a fool, Louie!” he tried to expostulate. “I’ve no gun. You don’t want to blow yourself up, too, do you?”

“Want to make a deal, then?” the boy cried back. “I’ve got the stones. I’ve put them where you’d never find them, not in a thousand years. What do you say? A fifty-fifty split. Kick in now, or up we go!”

At that instant Morrison, misunderstanding the situation, fired from the bluff. Like an echo of the shot, Louie’s pistol exploded into the fuel tank. For one instant Lang saw death. His heart absolutely stood still.

But there was no burst of fire. Louie sprang up, his shirt front suddenly streaming red, wheeled round and fell, and as a dying snake strikes, his pistol exploded—twice—three times—the bullets crashing into the floor, and the flashes setting fire to a matting rug.

Morrison’s feet trampled on the deck. He plunged into the cabin, and bent over the gangster.

“What have you done with the emeralds?” he demanded fiercely.

Louie looked up at him with a twisted smile.

“Hell!” he muttered, and his eyes closed, twitching.

The cabin was filling with smoke from, the burning matting. Lang sprang to close the gas tank. He glanced down and saw no gleam of reflecting liquid.

“Why, it’s empty,” he said, in surprise, and probed it with his arm.

“But not altogether,” he added, withdrawing his arm. He brought up a roughly wrapped little sack of red-striped silk, that burst open as he threw it down, letting out a stream of twinkling green stones on the crimson-spotted floor.


“Wild life is plainly what I was made for,” said Lang. “See how I’ve thrived on it. A great adventurer’ll be lost in me when I go back to surgery in Boston. I’ve had maltreatment enough to kill a mule, as I’d have thought once, and it’s brought me to life. What a broken-down wretch I was in Mobile! What a whining, ill-tempered dog you must have thought me!”

“I never did,” Eva denied quickly. She had just relieved Lang at the helm of the Chita, sitting beside him in the little glassed pilot house forward. They had hoped to make Puerto Montt that evening and had kept on, though it was now two hours after sunset. Blackness was over the mountains to the east and the rough islands on the other side of the wide channel, and the sea heaved gently, smooth and black, bubbling up palely away from the bow.

“I thought you were wonderful,” she went on “Everything in the world had smashed under you—so you thought then. I was so sorry—oh, I can’t tell you! I wanted to comfort you, even at first when we met on the boat. And afterward, when it was I who seemed to have lost everything, you were so good to me, and you never seemed to remember your own troubles. I couldn’t tell you then how grateful I was. I never can tell you. But you’ll know some time.”

“You’ve already brought me about a hundred times more than I deserve,” Lang murmured, abashed, and he was not thinking of the emeralds.

They were in a locked drawer in Morrison’s little stateroom, and even his share in these was to be no trivial reward. The stones had been carefully sorted, weighed, cleaned, appraised as far as possible. A few of them were almost certainly only green sapphires, of slight value. Many were flawed. The biggest, which Lang had fondly hoped to be worth a fortune, developed under a magnifier a series of central cracks, and it would have to be cut into four, or perhaps five parts. How the stones would cut was still in doubt, but Morrison, who knew something of rough precious stones, estimated conservatively that the lot should bring between fifty thousand dollars and seventy thousand dollars if they were disposed of with due skill and no haste.

It would be no great fortune, but it was all Lang wanted. It was as good as a million to him. It would give him a fresh start; and he had his own work back again. He was not afraid of another breakdown. Action and adventure and rough open-air life had braced and hardened him and worked out the lack of control in his hands, which had been probably nervous, after all. The emergency operation at the camp had restored his confidence. A few weeks’ practice would bring back all his old technique. As he gazed ahead through the darkness, looking for the revolving light at the top of Chiloe Island, the future looked a dazzle of certain success.

Carroll and Louie had died within three hours of each other, and lay together in one grave in the gravel at the foot of the glacier. Lang was thankful now that it was not his bullet that had killed either of them; though their deaths were hardly to be regretted. But he did still sorely regret the fate of his German Chileans of the schooner, and he planned to make inquiries at Puerto Montt, and indemnify their families, if they had any.

Morrison had been greatly fired when he finally heard Lang’s complete account of his discoveries inside the glacier, and had insisted on seeing them himself. With reluctance Lang went with him through that tunnel that he had hewn out in a sort of nightmare.

It seemed a surprisingly short way now to the death camp, where they chipped all the bodies clear of ice, discovering still another in doing so. Morrison measured and sketched them, and even managed to carry in a camera and take flash-light photographs. They gathered up all the crystals that Lang had discarded, but found no more emeralds; though Morrison secured material that was almost more precious to him—copper knives and spears of unusual design, a primeval fire striker, bone carvings and decorations, and, most important of all, under the furs of one of the Indians, a number of skeins of peculiarly colored and knotted cords.

They were like the indecipherable quipus of the Incas, those records in knotted strings that no one has ever been able to understand. But these cords were knotted on an evidently different system, and Morrison had high hopes that they might turn out a sort of Rosetta stone which would solve the secret of the Peruvian records. At any rate it confirmed his theory of the extent of Inca influence into the far south.

Morrison was sitting back in the cabin then, poring over the quipus under the swinging light. They would mean glory for him, should he succeed in making sense of them. He would write a book, which learned men would read and quarrel over violently, but it seemed to Lang a poor sort of ambition.

The adventure was over, but he would never get the thrill and flavor of it out of his bones. Eva was beside him, her shoulder almost touching his own, as she steered, looking ahead for the ending mark of the voyage.

“Eva!” he whispered suddenly.

He did not know what he meant to say. She turned her face, then let go the wheel impulsively, threw both arms around his neck and drew his head to her. The boat yawed wildly. They heard Morrison’s startled shout.

“What’s the matter, there?”

Eva seized the wheel again and steadied her. Looking ahead, Lang saw something like the faintest, most remote summer lightning touch the horizon clouds, vanish, reappear, vanish.

“I think we’ve raised Tronador Light,” he called back.

Morrison came forward and stared over their shoulders.

“Yes, that’s old Tronador,” he said with satisfaction. “Many a time I’ve seen it winking as I came up this channel—never with such a cargo as we’ve got on board to-night.”

“It’s time—you’ve deserved it long enough, father,” Eva murmured.

“Of course I deserved it, but I’d never have got it but for luck, and Doctor Lang. Close to a hundred thousand. It was you who turned the trick for us, Lang, and you’ll get your reward.”

“I’ve got my reward already,” said Lang, with some emphasis.

Morrison glanced at him sharply, and said nothing for a moment.

“Yes, I know. I’ve seen it coming,” he returned somberly. “You get the reward, but I pay it, Lang. I pay it, and I can’t afford it. I suppose I can’t help myself.

“Oh, well, it’s the fate of parents,” he went on resignedly. “And I’ve still got something, after all—some stuff that’ll make the scientific world take notice. Wait till I write my monograph on the quipus!”

It seemed a cold and barren sort of success, Lang thought, sitting in touch of Eva’s shoulder. His own triumph seemed charged with fire. He was coming back with treasure and love and future brilliance, and he felt profoundly sorry for his future father-in-law. And, miles ahead, Tronador Light swept every minute wider circles of light on the black horizon.