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The Dollar Chasers by Earl Derr Biggers

First published in The Saturday Evening Post, Feb 16 & 23, 1924

IT was a lovely, calm evening in San Francisco, and the sun was going down on Simon Porter's wrath. An old habit of the sun's—often it rose to find Simon in an equally turbulent mood, for twenty years of daily newspaper editing had jangled Simon's nerves and wrath sprang eternal in his human breast.

He crossed the city room in his quest of the youngest—and, as it happened, the ablest—of his reporters. The boy he sought was seated before one of the copy-desk telephones, gazing fondly into the transmitter and speaking honeyed words.

"Say, that's mighty kind of you, Sally.... No, haven't heard about it yet, but I probably will.... To-morrow night at six. Pier 99. I'll be there. And I may add that in the interval, time will go by on lagging feet. No, I said lagging. It's poetry. See you to-morrow, Sally. Good-by."

He turned to meet the chill eye of his managing editor.

"Ah," Simon Porter said, "so you call her Sally."

"Yes, sir," Bill Hammond answered respectfully. "It saves time."

"Does old Jim Batchelor know how you address his only child?"

"Probably not. He's a busy man."

"He'll be a lot busier when he hears about you. He'll have you boiled in oil. A newspaper reporter at fifty a week!"

"A mere pittance," Bill Hammond agreed, and would have pursued that topic further.

"All you're worth," added the editor hastily. "I suppose the girl told you. I begin to see now. The whole idea came from her."

"She mentioned a delightful possibility," said the boy. "However, I take my orders from you."

Simon Porter relapsed into wrath.

"Gives me about enough reporters to get out a good high-school magazine," he cried. "And then sends one of them off on a picnic to please a girl!"

"Yes, sir," put in Bill Hammond brightly.

"I'm speaking of our respected owner. He's just called up—you're to go aboard Jim Batchelor's yacht for a week-end cruise to Monterey. Golf at Del Monte and Pebble Beach; and if there's anything else you want, ask for it. The launch will be at Pier 99 to-morrow evening at six. But you appear to know all this."

"It sounds more authentic when you say it, sir."

"Bah! It's an assignment. I don't suppose she told you that."

"No, sir. She didn't mention sordid things."

"There's been an Englishman named Mikklesen afflicting this town for the past week. He's just back from ten years in the Orient and he isn't fond of the Japs. Neither is Jim Batchelor. Neither is our beloved owner. You're to listen to Mikklesen talk and write up his opinions."

"Sounds easy," commented Bill Hammond.

"It's a cinch. Listening to Mikklesen talk is what those who hang round with him don't do nothing else but. All rot though. With real news breaking every minute—and me short of men!"

He started to move away.

"Er—I presume I don't come in to-morrow," suggested the reporter.

His chief glared at him.

"Who says you don't? That line you got off about time going by on lagging feet—you spoke too soon. It won't lag. I'll attend to that—personally. You report to-morrow as usual."

"Yes, sir," answered Bill Hammond meekly. A hard man, he reflected.

"And listen to me." The managing editor retraced his steps. "About this Sally Batchelor—I suppose she's easy to look at?"

"No trouble at all."

"Well, you keep your mind on your work." His expression softened. "Not a chance in the world, my lad. Old Jim Batchelor couldn't see you with the telescope over at Lick Observatory. It's money, money, money with him."

"So I've heard."

"He's still got the first dollar he ever earned. He'll show it to you. Where is the first dollar you earned?"

"Somebody," said Bill Hammond, "got it away from me."

"Precisely. That's where you and old Jim are different. I'm telling you. I don't want to see a good reporter go wrong."

"A good reporter, sir?"

"That's what I said."

Bill Hammond smiled. It brightened the corner where he was.

"To-morrow," he ventured, "is Friday—the day before the pay check."

"I'll give you an order on the cashier," said Simon. He wrote on a slip of paper and handed it over.

"Twenty-five dollars!" Bill Hammond read. "And I was thinking of a yachting suit!"

Simon Porter smiled grimly.

"You take your other shirt and go aboard. Your role is not to dazzle. I've just got through telling you."

And he strode away to the cubby-hole where he did his editing.

His departure left Bill Hammond alone in the city room, for this was an evening paper and the last edition was on the street. Jim Batchelor's prospective guest remained seated by the copy desk. He was, to judge from his expression, doing a bit of thinking. Some of his thoughts appeared to be pleasant ones, while others were not so much so. The grave mingled with the gay, and this had been true of his reveries ever since that exciting day when he first met Sally Batchelor.

Sent by his paper to cover a charity fete for the benefit of some orphanage, he had caught his first glimpse of Sally's trim figure while she was yet afar off. Instantly, something had happened to his heart. It had been, up to that moment, a heart that had lain singularly dormant in the presence of the opposite sex. But now it leaped up, threw off its lethargy and prepared to get into action. It urged him to fight his way at once to this young woman's side.

Arrived in that pleasant neighborhood, he realized that his initial impression, startling and vivid as it had been, had not done the poor girl justice. She smiled upon him, and his heart seemed to say that this was the smile it had been waiting for. She was selling flowers, her prices were exorbitant; but the soft, lovely voice in which she named them made them sound absurdly reasonable. The somewhat unsteady Bill Hammond became her steady customer. Gladly he handed her all the money he had; and in other ways, too, it would have been evident to an onlooker that he was ready and willing to take her as his life's companion. If not, why not?

The answer was not slow in coming. Some busybody insisted on introducing them, and at mention of her name Bill Hammond knew that this girl was, alas, not one of the orphans. True, she had at the moment only one parent—but what a parent!

Jim Batchelor, president of the Batchelor Construction Company, was the sort of man who never let an obstacle stand in his way; but as an obstacle he himself had, off and on, stood firmly in the way of a good many other people. And he would certainly make the stand of his life in the path of any practically penniless young man who had the audacity to admire his daughter.

This bitter thought clouded the remaining moments Bill Hammond spent in the girl's company, and presently he left the charity fete, resolved never to speak to her again. But as time went on it began to appear that the afternoon had been more eventful for him than for any one else, the orphans included. He had fallen in love.

Love comes to many as a blessed annoyance, and so it came to Bill Hammond. Up to that moment he had been happy and carefree; which is to say, he had been young in San Francisco, no more appropriate city in which to spend one's youth having as yet been built by man. Now he had a great deal on his mind. Should he give up all thought of the girl and go his way a broken man? Or should he get busy and acquire such wealth that his own paper would speak of the subsequent marriage as the union of two great fortunes? Generally, he favored the latter course, though the means to wealth did not appear to be at hand, as any one who has worked on a newspaper will appreciate.

Meanwhile he was accepting dinner and dance invitations of the sort he had previously eluded. If his plan was to avoid Sally Batchelor, it did not work. She was frequently among those present, and, seemingly unaware of the vast difference in their stations, she continued to smile upon him. A sort of friendship—nothing more, of course—grew up between them. She accepted his escort occasionally, had tea with him at the St. Francis. And now she had arranged for him to go on this yachting trip and meet her famous father. He was to beard the mighty lion in his palatial floating den.

He was, there in the dusk of the city room, a bit appalled at the idea. Ridiculous, of course. Why should he fear Jim Batchelor? As far as family went, he had all the better of it. His ancestors had been professional men and scholars, while Jim Batchelor's were neatly placing one brick in close juxtaposition to another. But money—ah, money. Those few bonds his father had left him, the paltry additional bunch that would be his when Aunt Ella died—chicken feed in the eyes of Batchelor, no doubt. In this cold world only cash counted.

Cynical thoughts, these; he put them from him. The spirit of adventure began to stir in his broad chest. Sally had been kind enough to arrange this party; she would find he was no quitter. He would go and meet this demon father face to face. He would discover what it was all about—the awe with which men spoke of the money king. Probably a human being, like anybody else. Yes, as Simon had suggested, he would take his other shirt Suddenly his thoughts took a new and more practical turn. He pictured himself arrayed for dinner on the Batchelor yacht. In what? There was, he recalled, not a single clean dress shirt in his room, and his laundry would not be returned until Saturday. As for buying new linen, the dent in that twenty-five dollars would be serious. What to do?

He pondered. Beyond, in the cubby-hole known—secretly—among the reporters as the kennel, he saw Simon Porter frowning savagely over a rival paper's last edition. Should he ask more money from Simon? The profile was not encouraging. Then into his mind flashed the picture of a Chinese laundry on Kearny Street he had passed many times. It was, according to the sign, the establishment of Honolulu Sam, and a crudely lettered placard in the window bore this promise:

LAUNDRY LEFT BEFORE EIGHT A.M. BACK SAME DAY

What could be fairer than that? Honolulu Sam solved the problem.

Bill Hammond rose, called a good night to the man in the cubby-hole and was on his way. It was his plan to go somewhere for a brief and lonely dinner, then hurry to his apartment, gather up his laundry and place it in the hands of the speedy Honolulu Sam at once. After which he would return home and get a good night's sleep. It had been a long time since he'd had one, and he felt the need of it—

But such resolutions are rarely kept in San Francisco. Men hurry to their work in the morning, promising themselves that it will be early to bed that night for them. And then, late in the afternoon, the fog comes rolling in, and vim and vigor take the place of that cold-gray-dawn sensation. As a consequence, another pleasant evening is had by all.

Bill Hammond met some friends at dinner, and when he finally returned to his apartment it was too late to disturb the Chinese from Hawaii. He made a neat bundle of his proposed laundry, set his alarm clock for six and turned in.

"Get lots of sleep on the yacht," he promised himself.

At seven-thirty next morning he stood at the counter of Honolulu Sam.

"Back five-thirty this afternoon," he ordered loudly.

"Back same day. Maybe seven, maybe eight."

"Five-thirty," repeated Bill Hammond firmly.

Sam stared at him with a glassy eye and slowly shook his head.

"Dollar extra for you if you do it," added Bill, and laid the currency on the counter.

Sam appropriated it.

"Can do," he admitted.

"All right," said Bill. "I'll depend on you." He had meant the dollar only as an evidence of good faith, to be paid later. But no matter. A Chinese always kept his word.

He went out into what was practically the dawn, feeling confident of the future. With five clean shirts and other apparel in proportion, let them bring on their yacht. Easy, nonchalant, debonair, he would make himself the pride of the deep—and of Sally. Ah, Sally! At the corner of Post and Kearny, the flower venders were setting out their wares. Bill took a deep breath. Life was a garden of blossoms.

When he reached the office, Simon Porter robbed the garden of its fragrance by sending him on a difficult assignment. All day he was kept hustling, with no time for lunch. It was exactly five-thirty when he grabbed his suitcase and set out for the bounding wave. Simon met him at the door and bowed low.

"Bon voyage, little brother of the rich," he said. "By the way, I've just heard you're to have a very distinguished fellow passenger."

"Of course. The Prince of Wales."

"Nobody so jolly—Henry T. Frost."

"What? Old Henry Frost?"

"Our beloved owner, our dear employer, the good master who has it in his power to sell us all down the river—and would do it without batting an eye. Here's your chance. Make the most of it, win his love and respect, and when I die of overwork, as I certainly shall inside a week, maybe he'll give you my job."

"I can't say I'm yearning to meet him," admitted Bill Hammond.

"You're talking sense. I've met him at least three hundred times, and I've always had cause to regret it. You know, something tells me you'd better stay at home. You could develop whooping cough, and I could send one of the other boys."

"Nonsense!"

"To-day is Friday."

"What of it?"

"Friday the thirteenth. Does that mean nothing to you?"

"Not a thing, sir. See you later."

"Well, fools rush in " began Simon, but Bill Hammond had disappeared.

* * * * *

YOUNG Mr. Hammond felt not at all foolish as he hurried down Market Street, bound first for the establishment of Honolulu Sam and later for Pier 99. The going was slow, for the street was crowded with commuters on their way to the ferries. This little cruise, he thought, might very well prove the turning point in his life. The next few days were as bright with glittering possibilities as a Christmas tree decked for the great occasion.

He turned down Kearny Street, that thoroughfare of adventures, and at Post an adventure befell him. The traffic was held up, and he was hurrying to cross in front of a very wealthy-looking automobile, when a familiar voice called, "Whoo-hoo, Bill!" He looked, and from the window of the car he beheld protruding the head of Sally Batchelor. It was a lovely sight, but one he would gladly have dispensed with at the moment. However, he had gazed straight into her bright eyes, and to pretend not to see her was now out of the question. He circled a plebeian taxi and reached her side. She was holding open the door of the car.

"This is luck," she cried gayly. "We're on our way to the pier. Jump in."

Jump in! Without his laundry! A cold shiver ran down his spine. Luck, she called this meeting, but he was not so sure. He noted that there were three other people in the car—an elderly woman and two men. One of the latter was undoubtedly Jim Batchelor, and—yes, the other was Henry Frost. Millions sitting there!

"I—I'm sorry," Bill stammered. "I've got a very important errand first. I'll see you later."

"What sort of errand?" inquired Sally.

"It's—it's just round the corner—"

"Get in. We'll take you there."

He shuddered at the thought of this fifteen-thousand-dollar car, with two Japanese servants on the driver's seat, pulling up before the headquarters of Honolulu Sam, laundry left before eight a.m. back same day.

"Oh, no, no, really—you go along, Sally. I'll follow in a taxi."

The traffic cop had signaled for an advance and a presumptuous flivver was honking indignantly just behind Jim Batchelor's magnificence.

"Go along, Sally," urged Bill Hammond nervously. A passing car flipped his coat tail.

"We'll draw up at the curb in the next block and wait for you," she answered, smiling sweetly. Obedience wasn't in her, evidently. "Here, give me your suitcase. I'll keep it for you."

"Ah—er—no—no." He hugged it tight. "I'll keep it. I need it."

Another picture anguished him—the vision of himself rushing back into Jim Bachelor's presence with a large package all too obviously laundry. The clamor in the rear increased; the traffic cop was approaching.

"What's the idea here?" he wanted to know.

"Go along, Sally," Bill pleaded again.

Now that he had the law on his side, she obeyed. Sinking back into the car, she closed the door in the policeman's face.

"Don't be long, will you?" she smiled.

The car began to move, and Bill dodged between it and the flivver, holding the precious suitcase close. Leaping for his life, he made the opposite curb, while angry chauffeurs inquired as to his sanity. He hurried on, groaning. Of all the inopportune meetings—

A bell clanged loudly behind him as he entered the steamy precincts of Honolulu Sam. He tossed a red check on the counter, and plumping his suitcase down beside it, began to unfasten the clasps.

"Come on," he called. "Little speed here. Give me that wash."

The figure that emerged from the rear was not that of Honolulu Sam, but of a bent and aged Chinese wearing a pair of badly steamed spectacles. Sam, having business over on Grant Avenue, had left the place in charge of his uncle, down from Sacramento on a visit.

"Hurry, man, hurry!" cried Bill Hammond, waiting impatiently above his open suitcase.

But speed was not one of uncle's inborn traits. He deliberately wiped his spectacles on the tail of a handy shirt, took up the red check, and stood helplessly in front of the finished work.

"Please, please!" cried Bill. "It's done—I know it's done. I paid a dollar extra to make sure. Where's Sam? Say, listen, we're keeping all the money in San Francisco waiting. Let me help you—oh, I can't read that stuff. But please get a move on."

The old man made a gesture as of one requesting peace. He turned reproving spectacles upon the customer. They were steaming up again. Once more he studied the rack, while Bill Hammond chattered wildly at his elbow. Finally the Chinese reached up and captured a fat package. Bill snatched it from him, tossed it into his suitcase and began to strap the latter up. The Chinese was holding the two pieces of the check close to his eyes.

"One dolla," he announced.

"And very cheap too," said Bill.

He paid with a five-dollar bill, receiving in change four of those heavy silver dollars still in circulation on the coast. As he dashed out the door the bell rang again like an alarm. The old Chinese was once more applying the tail of the shirt to his spectacles.

Making admirable speed, Bill Hammond returned to Post Street and located the splendid equipage that awaited him. One of the Japs stood ready to take his bag and open the door. A bit breathless, he climbed in and established himself on one of the little collapsible chairs in front, the other of which was occupied by Sally. He sat sidewise and Sally sat sidewise, and the introductions began.

"Aunt Dora, this is Mr. Hammond." Bill bowed. The large, commanding woman on the rear seat, who was mainly responsible for the congestion there, bowed also—sternly. "And do you know Mr. Frost?" Sally continued. "You ought to—you work for him."

Bill looked into the cold, fishy eyes of his employer. Henry Frost had the appearance of a deacon, though such was not by any means his reputation.

"How do you do, sir?" said Bill, uncomfortably. "Mr. Frost can't possibly know all those who labor in his cause," he added.

"And Father. Father, this is Mr. Hammond."

Father held out a thin small hand. He was, indeed, a thin small man, quite unlike the accepted figure of the great financier. His face was ascetic, his eyes rather dreamy; there seemed, at first glance, nothing about his personality that would strike terror to an opponent. The aunt, towering like Mont Blanc at his side, was far more impressive, and knew it.

"I'm glad to meet you, Mr. Hammond," said the millionaire. "Sally has spoken of you, I believe."

"It's mighty kind of you, sir, to take me along like this—"

"An office assignment, I understand," put in Henry Frost in a high, unlovely voice.

"Oh, that's merely incidental," said Batchelor. "You'll find Mikklesen very interesting, Mr. Hammond. Ought to get a good story. But you're not to let work interfere with your outing, even if Henry—Mr. Frost—does happen to be with us."

He smiled.

"I'll try not to, sir," Bill answered, smiling too. He felt much better. A human being, after all.

"I'm afraid my party's going to be rather a stag affair," Jim Batchelor said, as the car swung into the broad expanse of Market Street.

"Well, we're used to that," said Sally. "Aren't we, Aunt Dora?"

"We ought to be by this time," sniffed that lady.

"There'll be Mrs. Keith, however," Batchelor went on.

"Mrs. Keith!" Henry Frost raised his bushy eyebrows.

"A very charming woman, Henry," said Jim Batchelor. "Lived in China a great deal, I believe. I want to have a talk with her about conditions over there. You see, this isn't only a pleasure cruise for me. There are two rather important questions I have to decide before I get back. There's that contract with the Chinese Government for bridging the Yang-tse-Kiang. I guess I mentioned it to you. I haven't made up my mind whether to make a bid for the job or not. Talking with Mrs. Keith and Mikklesen may decide me."

"I understand that Blake has already put in hi9 figures," said Frost. "He'll probably underbid you."

"Very likely. But everybody knows Blake is a crook. I imagine I can get the contract away from him if I go after it. They tell me he's waiting anxiously to know what move I'll make. I'll spoil his game if I go in." Batchelor smiled, and it was no dreamer smiling then. "However, I've got several days. The bids don't close until next Thursday."

"And the other question, Jim?" asked Frost.

"Oh, the senatorship. I'm still thinking of entering the primaries."

"Nonsense!" growled his friend. "Why get mixed up in that sort of thing?"

"Just what I tell him," said Aunt Dora. "Still, Washington would be interesting."

"Well, I don't know," mused Batchelor. "Every man has ambitions that way, I guess. At any rate, I'm taking O'Meara, the lawyer, along on this cruise to talk over the situation. When it comes to politics, he's one of the wisest."

"O'Meara!" Mr. Frost spoke rather sourly.

"It's a very mixed crowd, I'm sure," said Aunt Dora, and Bill Hammond felt that the glance she cast at him was a bit personal.

"A lot more interesting than a bunch of society folderols," Batchelor told her. "And when it comes to elegance, that end's taken care of too. I've invited Julian Hill."

"Good news for Sally, I'm sure," remarked Aunt Dora, and again the look she gave Bill Hammond had a meaning all its own.

Bill knew that they were speaking of the third vice-president of the Batchelor concern, a young man of good family and social position whose engagement to Sally Batchelor had more than once been rumored. He glanced at the girl, but she was staring straight ahead, and her charming profile told him nothing.

The car was gliding along the Embarcadero now, that romantic threshold to the Orient. Ships that were destined for far ports waited motionless but ready, and on the piers was abundant evidence of the great business done upon the waters. Suddenly Henry Frost spoke.

"It's a wonder to me you could get any one to go with you today," he said.

"Why, what do you mean?" asked Batchelor.

"Friday, the thirteenth," explained the newspaper owner.

"The thirteenth! Say, I didn't realize that!" Batchelor's tone was serious, and glancing back, Bill Hammond was amazed at the gravity of his face.

"I didn't think you did," smiled Frost, "knowing your weakness as I do."

"What do you mean—weakness? I'm not superstitious." And Jim Batchelor smiled, as though he had just remembered something pleasant. "Besides, no bad luck can happen to us—not while I've got my little lucky piece in my pocket."

His lucky piece? Bill Hammond looked at Sally.

"For goodness' sake," she laughed, "don't ask him to show it to you! That calamity will befall you soon enough, and at a time when I'm elsewhere, I trust."

The car came to a halt before Pier 99, the property of a steamship company in which Jim Batchelor was a heavy stockholder. At the end of the pier, close to where a smart launch was waiting, they found the remaining four guests who had been invited on Jim Batchelor's week-end cruise.

An oddly assorted quartet, Bill Hammond thought, as Sally hastily introduced him. Mike O'Meara he already knew, having more than once sought to pry an interview out of him. A huge, bluff, ruddy man, the lawyer was decidedly out of his element and seemed to know it, but he had a gift of gab to see him through. Julian Hill proved a suave, polished man in his thirties, garbed in just the right apparel; he had no interest whatever in meeting Bill Hammond and didn't pretend any. Mrs. Keith was at that age where a woman knows that youth is going despite her gallant struggle. She had been, Bill sensed, a clinging vine in her day; but now she was a bit too plump and no doubt found the sturdy oaks elusive.

As for Mikklesen, he delighted the eye; he made the senses reel; he was magnificent. Tall, languid, with china-blue eyes and yellow hair, his slim figure clothed in tweeds, the Englishman added an artistic touch to any scene he chose to adorn. Save when he looked at Sally Batchelor, boredom afflicted him, and the indifference he showed in meeting Mr.—er—Hammond made the attitude of Julian Hill seem a bit too eager by comparison.

When the Japanese had got all the luggage aboard the launch, the guests followed. Bill Hammond had intended to sit beside Sally, but Mikklesen and Hill beat him to it, and he reflected that competition was going to be keen in the near future. He sank down beside Mrs. Keith. The launch sputtered and was on its way to where the seagoing yacht Francesca waited haughty and aloof, lording it over the more plebeian craft that lay about her.

"Isn't this thrilling!" gushed Mrs. Keith. "You know I haven't been on a yacht for ages."

"Same here," said Bill. "Grand to be rich, don't you think?"

"It must be," sighed the woman. "I never could manage it. You must tell me all about it."

"Me?" Bill Hammond laughed. "You've got the wrong number—excuse it, please. I happen to be one of the humble poor—only a newspaper reporter."

"Oh, indeed!" Her smile faded. "How exciting—a reporter! You have the most wonderful experiences of course. You must tell me all about it."

Evidently one of the you-must-tell-me-all-about-it sisterhood, a species that dated back a bit.

"Well," said Bill Hammond cautiously, "if I'm not too busy with my work, I'll be delighted."

"Work—on the yacht?"

"I'm supposed to interview Mr. Mikklesen on conditions in the Orient."

She laughed.

"Oh, really? Mr. Mikklesen is an old acquaintance of mine. I knew him in China. I'm sure he'll tell you the most interesting things—only you mustn't believe all you hear.

"He's a dear boy, but—imaginative. Oh, so very imaginative." She glanced across to where Mikklesen was bending close to Sally Batchelor. The look in her eyes was not friendly.

On the deck of the Francesca her captain waited to greet his owner. Japanese in white coats appeared to receive the baggage.

"Dinner's at seven-thirty," Jim Batchelor announced. "After the boys have shown you to your quarters, I suggest that you gentlemen join me in the smoking- room."

"'Stag party' is right," smiled his daughter.

"Oh, well, the ladies too, of course," amended the owner of the Francesca. "I thought they'd be too busy—"

As a matter of fact, he had forgotten all about the ladies. It was his habit; he was a man's man.

One of the Japs, burdened with luggage, politely requested Bill Hammond to follow, and led the way to the deck below. Mikkleson also was in the procession, and Bill wondered if they were to share a stateroom. It was not a happy prospect, for he knew the Englishman would coolly take seven-eighths of any room assigned them. They entered a passageway off which the cabins evidently opened, and at the third door the Jap dropped Bill's modest suitcase and, staggering under the load of the Englishman's traps, led Mikklesen inside.

"This is your cabin," Bill heard him say.

"Thank heaven," Bill thought. The Jap emerged, took up the solitary bag and led the way to the next door.

"So this is mine, eh?" Bill said. "Fine! Got it all to myself, I suppose."

"Yes-s," hissed the Jap. "Francesca sleep fifteen guests."

"Good for the Francesca."

"Bath here," the servant said. He nodded toward an open door, beyond which gleamed spotless plumbing. Even as Bill looked, Mikklesen appeared in the doorway, gave him a haughty glare, shut the door and locked it.

"Bath for two cabins," the Jap said. "Yours too." He seemed distressed.

"Well, you'd better explain that to him," suggested Bill. "Otherwise I'll never see the inside of that room again," he added.

The servant disappeared. There was the sound of voices in the next cabin. Then the lock clicked in the bathroom door and the Jap was again in Bill's room.

"All right now," he smiled.

"Maybe," said Bill. "What's your name?"

"Tatu."

"Well, Tatu,—"

He handed him a bill. The smile broadened.

"He leave door locked, you go through his room, unlock," said Tatu.

"Some judge of character, Tatu. You got his number, boy. Don't worry about me, I'll bathe all right."

The Jap disappeared, and Bill stood for a moment staring through the port- hole at San Francisco's interesting sky-line. This was the life, he reflected, sailing gayly off into the unknown. His heart sank. Had he remembered to bring his shirt studs? Feverishly he opened his suitcase—thank heaven, there they were.

He went out in search of the smoking-room. On the upper deck he encountered Jim Batchelor.

"Ah, my boy, come along," said the millionaire. "Maybe we can scare up a cocktail."

They found Henry Frost already in the smoking-room.

"When do we get to Monterey?" he wanted to know.

"Early to-morrow," said Batchelor. "There'll be plenty of time for me to trim you a round of golf before lunch."

"You hate yourself, don't you?" answered Frost. "Ten dollars a hole is my answer to that."

"Piker!" chided Batchelor. "Play golf, Hammond?"

"In a fashion," Bill said. "Not so expensively as that, however."

"Oh, it wouldn't cost you anything to take him on," Batchelor replied. "He always pays. Henry's golf's a joke to everybody but Henry himself."

O'Meara came in. "Some boat you got here, Mr. Batchelor," he said, "I'll tell the world."

"Yes, it's quite a neat little craft."

"Little! It's the Leviathan of the west coast."

"Say, look here, O'Meara," Frost put in, "Jim here's got a crazy idea he's going to enter the senatorial primaries. Now you know the game—I'm relying on you to tell him he hasn't got a chance."

"I can't do that, and speak true," O'Meara replied. "He's got as good a chance as any of them. You put up your name, Mr. Batchelor," he added, "and leave the rest to us."

"Well, I haven't decided," the millionaire answered. "We'll talk it over later. Ah, Mr. Mikklesen, come in. Are you comfortably settled?"

"Oh, quite," said the Englishman. "It was most frightfully good of you to invite me."

"Well, my reasons weren't wholly unselfish," Batchelor admitted. "I've sort of lost track of things in China lately—thought you could set me straight."

"Any information I have, my dear sir, is yours. I believe you're thinking of that bridge contract."

"I am—seriously."

Mikklesen nodded.

"Of course, it's a bit risky," he said. "The government isn't any too stable, to put it mildly. There are other difficulties—I'll speak of them later. Yes, it's decidedly risky."

"You bet it is," remarked Julian Hill, who had just come in.

"But I like risks," smiled Batchelor.

"I know, Governor, but this is the limit." Mr. Hill seemed very much in earnest. "I'm bitterly opposed."

"You were opposed to that lighthouse job in South America too," Batchelor reminded him.

"I happened to be wrong that time. But something tells me I'm not wrong now. Let's keep out. Don't you say so, Mr. Mikklesen?"

"I will say this"—the Englishman studied the end of his cigarette—"if you do go in, it will be a matter of what you call the breaks. They may be for you; they may be against you. You'll need all the luck in the world."

"Ah, luck," smiled Batchelor. "That's where the Batchelor Construction Company shines. For more than thirty-five years the breaks have been our way. And I've still got my lucky piece." He took from his waistcoat pocket a silver dollar.

Frost and Hill smiled at each other and turned away, but the three other men regarded the coin with interest.

"Gentlemen," said Jim Batchelor softly, "there it is. The first dollar I ever earned. I was a kid of eleven at the time. My father was a mason and he was working on an apartment building they were putting up on Russian Hill. He heard they wanted a water boy and he got me the job. I had to fetch the water from a well that was a block away—a block down the hill. I carried an empty pail the easy route, but coming back it was filled, and I puffed and sweat and staggered up the grade. It was my first lesson in how hard money comes. On the first Saturday night I got my pay—this dollar—and I walked home with my father past shop windows that were one long temptation. 'What you going to spend it for, Jim?' my father asked. 'I'm not going to spend it,' I told him. 'I'm going to keep it—always.' And I have. For thirty-seven years it's been my lucky piece and it's made good on the job. I've felt it in my pocket at the big moments of my life, and it's given me confidence and courage. A little silver dollar coined in 1884." He appeared to be holding it out to Mikklesen, and the Englishman reached forth his hand to take it. But Jim Batchelor restored it to his pocket.

"And it's still working for me, gentlemen," he added.

"Poppycock!" said Henry Frost.

"Maybe," smiled Batchelor. "But I hear there is a standing offer of one thousand dollars in the office of Blake & Co. for that little lucky piece. Poppycock, eh?"

"Oh, well, Blake & Co. know what a fool you are," said Frost. "They realize the psychological effect on your mind if you lost that thing. They're willing to pay for that."

"They'll never get the chance," answered Batchelor, and his eyes flashed. "I think I will go into that China thing. In fact I know I will. Gentlemen, here are the cocktails."

They stood about a table, each with a glass in his hand. As Bill Hammond looked around him, he saw that the eyes of each man present were on the pocket that held the little silver dollar. Mikklesen lifted his glass.

"Here's to your good luck, sir," he said. "May it continue."

"Thank you," answered Jim Batchelor, and they drank.

At seven o'clock Bill Hammond set out for his stateroom to dress for dinner. At the top of the main companionway he met Sally—Sally in a breath- taking gown and looking her loveliest.

"Hurry up," she said. "I'm eager for some one to help me enjoy the sunset."

"Keep the place open," he begged. "I'm really the best man for the job. Sally, I know who it is I have to thank for this little outing. You're always doing something for the orphans, aren't you?"

"Were you glad to come?"

"Glad? What weak words you use!"

"I thought you would be. The yacht's a lot of fun, really."

"It's not the yacht I'm thinking of. If you'd invited me out in a rowboat my joy would have been the same. You know—

Henry Frost and Hill came up behind them.

"Dear me," said Sally, "what a long cocktail hour! I'm afraid Dad's been telling you the story of the dollar."

"He did mention it," said Hill.

"And I'm glad he did," Bill Hammond said. "It made him seem mighty human to me. The picture of him struggling up Russian Hill with that water pail—"

"Dear Dad!" Sally smiled. "There is something rather appealing about the story. The first time you hear it, I mean. But when you've had it pop up constantly for twenty years, as I have, you're bound to get a little fed up on it. I've been very wicked. There've been times when I wished to heaven he'd lose that dollar."

"Here too," said Julian Hill. "Particularly when it leads Mr. Batchelor into some wild adventure like this China bridge contract."

"Lose it!" cried Henry Frost. His little eyes glittered. "Why, it would ruin him!"

"Yes, I rather think it would," said Hill; and it wasn't so much what he said, Bill Hammond reflected as he hurried off to his cabin. It was the way he said it.

* * * * *

MIKKLESEN had left the smoking-room some time before, and as Bill Hammond passed the door of the Englishman's cabin he was glad to hear a voice lifted in song inside. But when he reached his own room and tried to enter the bath, he found himself locked out. As he savagely rattled the knob he was happy to recall that George Washington won his war. Confound this Mikklesen—had he no consideration for anybody?

The answer was that he hadn't; one look at him told that.

As Bill turned angrily back into his room, Tatu entered from the passageway.

"Very late, very busy," said the Jap. "Now I lay you out." And he lifted a dinner coat from Bill's suitcase.

"Never mind, I'll attend to that," Bill told him. "You go in and lay that Englishman out. Lay him out cold, and then unlock this bath for me."

Tatu hastened away, and again there was the sound of voices in the next cabin. Again the lock in the door leading to the bath clicked, and Tatu emerged. Bill dashed by him and turned the key in Mikklesen's door. He was sorry that the gentle click resulting didn't begin to express his feelings.

"You run along, Tatu," he said. "I'm in too much of a hurry to learn how to be valeted to-night. Some time when we're both free you can give me a lesson."

"You want me, ring bell," suggested Tatu, going.

Bill was hastily peeling off his clothes. If he was to have a few moments alone with Sally and the sunset, speed was the watchword. But he had been known to rise in the morning, bathe, shave, dress and reach the office in less than twenty minutes, and he was out now to smash the record.

As he was putting the finishing touches on an elaborate shave, Mikklesen began to rattle the door-knob. He rattled long and earnestly, and it was music to the reporter's ears.

"Oh, I say, old chap, you're not annoyed, are you?" Bill murmured. "Not really? How beastly!"

"Damn!" said a voice, and the clatter ceased.

Bill hurried from the bathroom, leaving the lock in statu quo. By way of preparation, he laid out his diamond shirt studs—rich-looking, if old- fashioned—the property of poor Uncle George, handed to Bill by Aunt Ella the day after the funeral.

Humming happily to himself, he lifted the great fat package of laundry into the open. Good old Honolulu Sam, he had certainly come across as promised. That back-same-day thing was on the level. Must have hurried some. Great little people, the Chinese; you could bank on them. If they said they'd do a thing, they did it. He snapped the string with his fingers and gently laid back the wrapping-paper. A bright pink shirt stared up at him.

It is astonishing sometimes, in the crises of our lives, how slow we can be in comprehending. Bill's first reaction was to wonder how this sartorial atrocity had got in with his things. He tossed it aside and was confronted by the purplest shirt he had ever met. Next in the line of march came a green shirt that would have made excellent adornment on St. Patrick's Day. Then some rather shabby underwear and eloquent socks. A few collars. But no more shirts!

Bill Hammond sat down weakly on the berth.

"Good lord," he cried. "It's not my laundry!"

And if comprehension had been slow in coming, it came now with a rush. Alone, alone, all, all alone on a restless ocean, and without a dress shirt to his name. Dinner in fifteen minutes. At least two rivals for Sally's favor present, and each an elegant dresser on and off.

And this was the cruise on which he had hoped to make a dashing impression, to win Sally's family, to say nothing of the girl herself, by his charm. How did one do that without a shirt?

Anger overcame him. Nor did he have any trouble locating the object of his wrath. That half-blind old Chinese with the steaming spectacles—there was the guilty party.

The old idiot! In one careless moment he had destroyed the priceless reputation of his race for accuracy, built up laboriously through many years of giving back the right shirt to the right customer—destroyed it utterly, doomed his race to extinction. For Bill Hammond would attend to that personally, and he would begin in the establishment of Honolulu Sam.

But time was passing; he mustn't waste any more of it planning the massacre of an aged Chinese. The problem was here and now. What to do? The weather was calm enough, but the Francesca was tossing about a bit. He might retire to his birth and plead seasickness. And leave Sally to the company of Mikklesen and Julian Hill? Not likely! No, he must have a shirt—must have one—robbery—a killing or two, maybe—but he had to have a shirt.

Was there any one aboard who would help him? O'Meara, perhaps; but no, O'Meara's shirt would go round him at least twice. As for the other men, there was not one to whom he would consider revealing his plight. Sally—if he could bring himself to tell her—would be sympathetic, but Sally had no dress shirts to distribute. That left—hold on—that left Tatu. Thank heaven he had given Tatu five dollars.

He rang the bell, and while he waited put on his underclothes. Tatu appeared. Frankness, it seemed to Bill, was the only course.

"Terrible thing's happened, Tatu," he said. "See"—he indicated the frightful pink shirt—"Chinese laundry returned the wrong wash. I haven't any dress shirt."

"Chinese not reliable people," commented Tatu.

"You've said it, my boy. Sometime you and I'll have a long talk about that. But now, Tatu, now—dinner coming on like this. What to do?" An idea flashed into his mind. "You haven't an extra shirt, have you?" he inquired hopefully.

Tatu opened his coat and revealed a fine white bosom—but no shirt went with it.

"Have extra bosom," he said. "Maybe you would like—"

Bill recoiled in horror.

"No, no, I couldn't take a chance. Must have an entire shirt. There's five more dollars waiting for you if you can dig one up."

Tatu considered.

"Maybe," he said. "I find out."

He went on his momentous errand. Bill, left alone, put on stockings and a pair of pumps. Slowly but surely the structure was approaching completion. But the shirt! Would that necessary, that vital bit of facade come to hand? Or must he sit shirtless in his cabin while the gay diners made merry round the festal board?

Something in Tatu's eye had made Bill feel that this was a moment for caution. He turned off his light and opened the door leading into the dim passageway. No one in sight. Where was that Jap anyhow? The door of the cabin at the end of the corridor began to open slowly, and a man emerged. He looked warily about him, and then, walking on tiptoe, started down the passageway. Tatu? No, it wasn't Tatu. Bill Hammond, peering from the darkness as the man passed his stateroom, saw clearly who it was. He watched him open the door of a stateroom farther down and disappear.

Nervously Bill sat down on his berth. Would Tatu never come? Why, he'd had time enough to scare up a whole outfit—Tatu appeared in the doorway. Bill leaped up, closed the door behind him and snapped on the light.

Rapture! There was a gleaming dress shirt in the Jap's hand. Like a drowning man going after the well-known straw, Bill pounced upon it.

Tatu hung on to it.

"Maybe too big," he said. "I put in studs."

He took up one of Uncle George's diamonds and began to struggle with the shirt. "Very stiff bosom," he announced. "Oh, very stiff."

"What size is it?" demanded Bill, feverishly investigating the collars bequeathed him by the owner of the pink shirt. He had a vision of sending the Jap out again for a collar.

"Doesn't tell size," whispered Tatu. "No name of maker, also. That very good."

Bill experienced a momentary qualm.

"Where'd you get this shirt, Tatu?" he demanded sternly.

"I get him," replied Tatu. "Here, try on."

"A little large," said Bill. "But it's a shirt. And say, look—this collar fits. Luck, Tatu, luck. Wow, the bosom is stiff! Got to be proud and unbending to-night." He was silent, working on his tie.

"Everything fine," Tatu hinted.

"Oh, yes, the five dollars. Here you are. Say, listen, Tatu, I'm not sure that we ought to have—er—borrowed this. We'll have to return it."

"I return it," Tatu agreed.

"That's right; of course we'll give it back, along with a dollar to cover depreciation and washing. Honesty, Tatu—the best policy. Ask anybody."

"Yes-s, thank you."

"Always be honest and you'll fear no man." The Jap was at the door. "Say, Tatu, I really ought to know where you got it."

"I got him," smiled the Jap, and went out.

Well, a desperate situation required a desperate remedy. Bill leaped into his trousers and was slipping on his waistcoat and coat when the first notes of The Roast Beef of Old England, played falteringly on a bugle by a pantry boy with ambitions, floated down to him. Mikklesen was once more rattling at the bathroom door, and first extinguishing all lights, Bill noiselessly unlocked it, then hurried up-stairs to the after deck to find Sally. Her eyes reproached him.

"The sun went down," she said, "and you never came up."

"I know," he answered; "forgive me." He straightened his collar nervously. "I was detained."

"That's not much of an explanation," she told him.

"Thank you," he said absently. He was thinking that the owner of the pink shirt certainly needed some new collars. This one had a razor edge and seemed to have been recently honed.

"You're perfectly welcome," smiled Sally, "whatever it is you're thanking me for. Pardon me for mentioning it, but are you in your right mind?"

"Of course not," he said. "I knew you were lovely, but somehow to- night—well, as the fellow said, my senses reel."

Sally rose. "We'd better have the next reel in the dining saloon," she suggested. "Dad hates people to be late."

Bill found he was to sit on Sally's right, and the discovery cheered him, particularly as Henry Frost was on the other side of her—an arrangement that couldn't be improved upon. His spirits rose rapidly. A moment before plunged in the depths of despair, he had emerged triumphant and all was right with the world. What a lot of difference somebody's shirt had made!

During the first course Jim Batchelor suggested that Mikklesen tell something of his experiences in the Orient, and from that point on the dinner was a monologue. But like most Englishmen of his class, Mikklesen was a charming talker and well worth attention. He spoke of his adventures as subeditor of an English newspaper in Shanghai, of the time he had typhoid in the General Hospital in Yokohama, of the fight he got into one gory night at the old Danish hotel where the beach-combers hold forth in that lovely port. He took his hearers into the interior of China on a scientific expedition, thrilled them with a hold-up by bandits, and brought them back in time for an audience with an ambassador or two in Peking. Life as he had known it had been glamourous.

It was not until the coffee that he appeared to run down and the conversation became general. Suddenly there was one of those inexplicable lulls in the gentle buzz of talk, and the voice of Jim Batchelor rang out in converse with Mrs. Keith at his right.

"And I have kept it—all these years. In the big moments of my life I've felt it in my pocket, and it has given me courage to go on. A little silver dollar coined in the year—"

"Oh, dear," Sally laughed, "he's telling her about his lucky piece."

"Thrilling!" Mrs. Keith said. She smiled encouragingly on the millionaire. "You've got it with you still?"

"I certainly have." He removed something from his pocket. "My little lucky piece." He stared at it, his face paled slightly. "This—is not—my dollar," he said slowly.

A tense silence fell. Sally finally spoke:

"Not your dollar, Dad? What do you mean?"

"Just what I say. This is a dollar coined in 1903." He threw it down on the table and began a search of his pockets. Again the silence. His search was evidently fruitless. "I—I'm very-sorry this has happened," said Batchelor. "It may seem rather trivial to you, but to me it's almighty important. If—if it's a joke of some sort, I—I don't appreciate it. However, I'll overlook it if the joker will speak at once. In heaven's name"—his voice trembled—"is it a joke?"

He looked eagerly into each face about the table. No one spoke. Batchelor's eyes hardened.

"Then there's some more sinister motive back of it," he said.

"Nonsense, Jim!" said Aunt Dora. "You're making a mountain out of nothing."

"I'm the judge of that," the millionaire told her, and his voice was like chilled steel. "However"—with an effort he managed to smile—"you're right, in a way. I mustn't spoil the party."

The tension lessened somewhat, and Mrs. Keith took that moment to show sympathy.

"What a pity!" she said. "Perhaps one of your crew—"

"No, Mrs. Keith," Jim Batchelor said; "my crew has been with me for years. The servants—I'm not so sure. They will all be examined before leaving the yacht. And before we drop the subject, has any one else missed anything?"

Bill Hammond's heart stood still. The shirt! Somebody would speak up regarding the mysterious disappearance of a shirt, and where would that lead? Little beads of perspiration stood on his forehead. But no one said anything. Evidently the owner of the shirt was still ignorant of his loss. Bill breathed again.

"Well, that's that," said Batchelor. "We'll let the matter drop."

"One minute!" O'Meara was on his feet. "Before we do that I've got a suggestion to make. Mr. Batchelor here has lost something of value, and until it's found we're all under a cloud. I for one want to be searched, and I guess every honest man here feels the same way."

"Nonsense!" Batchelor cried. "I won't hear of it!"

"But Mr. O'Meara is right," said Mikklesen. "I recall a dinner at the British Embassy in Peking two years ago, when the hostess lost a diamond necklace. It was a most distinguished party, but we were taken one by one into an anteroom and gone over with amazing thoroughness." He, too, stood up. "I also insist," he said.

"Rot! I wouldn't insult my guests," Batchelor was still protesting.

"You'll have nothing to do with it, Governor," Julian Hill told him. "We're going through with this for our own satisfaction. If the ladies will wait for us in the saloon—"

Reluctantly Aunt Dora, Mrs. Keith and Sally left the room. O'Meara promptly removed his coat and waistcoat.

"Now one of you go over me," he said, "and I'll do the job for the rest of you."

Julian Hill stepped forward to oblige. With a none too easy conscience, Bill Hammond also removed coat and waistcoat. That shirt was a none too successful fit—suppose some one recognized it. O'Meara, having been pronounced innocent, went at his work with enthusiasm. Evidently he had been in similar situations before. But the search had no results. Through it Jim Batchelor sat staring at the table as though the matter held no interest for him. O'Meara finished, red- faced and empty-handed.

"Well, if you boys have done with your nonsense," remarked Batchelor, "we'll join the ladies. And as a favor to me, we won't speak of this again—to- night."

Aunt Dora was superintending the placing of two tables for bridge in the main saloon. It appeared there was just the right number—with one left over. After she had disposed of the usual impassioned pleas from those desiring to be the one left out, Julian Hill was elected to that position, and shortly disappeared from the room. They cut for partners, and to his horror Bill found himself seated opposite Aunt Dora. She had the air of being the person who invented bridge, and so she had, practically.

Bill dealt. Majestically Aunt Dora took up her hand and glanced through it.

"Count your cards," she ordered. "That's the first rule. What rules do you play by, Mr. Hammond?"

"Rules?" repeated Bill wanly. "I don't know. I just play."

"We'll pivot," said Aunt Dora promptly.

"I'm afraid I don't understand," said Bill meekly.

"I mean to say, we'll change partners frequently."

"Oh," said Bill heartily, "I'm for it."

The glare she turned on him moved him to look the other way, and his eyes met those of the man he had seen creeping along the corridor just before dinner. He became suddenly thoughtful, so that Aunt Dora's voice suggesting that he bid seemed miles away. However, it came rapidly nearer.

* * * * *

AUNT DORA found, as the play progressed, that she alone seemed to be giving the matter her best thought. She was a woman of superb endurance, but after a distressing rubber with O'Meara as partner, she called it an evening and rang the gong. The ship's clock had recently struck six bells, and after a careful calculation and a look at his watch, Bill Hammond knew that to mean that it was now just after eleven.

Mikklesen and Julian Hill both seemed determined on a bedtime chat with Sally, but after a meaning look at Bill Hammond the girl dissuaded them.

"Wait till I get a wrap," she whispered to Bill. "I want to tell you about that sunset."

He had nothing in particular to do, and maybe he would have waited anyhow. When she returned she led the way to a couple of chairs that stood close together in a secluded spot on the after deck.

"Wonderful night," Bill murmured. He had sized it up about right too. The Pacific was calm—for the Pacific—the water was liquid silver in the moonlight, the breeze was not too chill. A great night to be young, and they both were.

"Glad you like it," said Sally. "It's just what I ordered."

They sat silent for a moment.

"How was the sunset anyhow?" Bill inquired.

"Not bad at all," said Sally, "for the sun. I think I prefer the moon myself." A long, long silence. "Bill, say something," the girl protested at length. "What are you thinking?"

"I'm just wishing. I'm wishing your name was Sally Jones and your father was principal of a high school—and paid accordingly. It's what I've been wishing ever since that day at the charity bazaar."

She laughed.

"Dad never wasted any time on high schools," she said. "Still, it does no harm to wish."

A cooler breeze arrived from the Pacific. Bill rose, took up a rug from a near- by chair and tucked it about her. His hand touched hers, and contrary to his intention, he seized and held it.

"Sally!" he said ecstatically.

"Bill!" she answered.

He gave up the idea and sat down. Another silence.

"How—how do you like my father?" she asked presently.

"Oh, he's all right. But it doesn't matter what I think of him. He'd be just as interested to get the opinion of one of those goldfish in the main saloon."

"Well, I don't know," said Sally. "Dad's pretty human. You must remember, he hasn't always traveled on yachts. At one time he was a stonemason, earning a hundred a month."

"How long ago was that?"

"About the time he was—married."

The way she said it, somehow; the night, the moon, the bracing effect of ocean air—whatever the cause

"Sally," Bill heard himself saying, "I'm in love. With you, I mean. But I guess that isn't news, is it?"

"Not precisely," she answered slowly. "However, I'm glad you said it. We couldn't have got anywhere if you hadn't."

"Sally!" The moon was under a cloud. It was just as well.

"It's no use, Sally," said Bill, coming to. "Your father would never hear of it."

"He'd be bound to."

"You know what I mean. He'd have me—boiled in oil."

"He'd have to boil me too."

"Sally, you're wonderful! Will you—will you take a chance with me?"

"I don't like the way you put it. I'll marry you, if that's what you mean."

"On our own—that's what I'm getting at. I've seen so many men marry rich girls and degenerate into lap dogs. I wouldn't take a cent from your father—nor a job either."

"Don't worry, you wouldn't get either."

"Sally, I never intended to tell you this. I was just going to eat my heart out in silence, like the great strong man that I am."

"Well, that would have been romantic. But I think I like it better this way. My role is a bit more active."

"Darling! Wha—what do you think I'd better do? Should I speak to your father the next time I see him?"

"Of course. Say good night or good morning, as the case may be, and that's all."

"Well, I suppose he would hit the ceiling."

"He wouldn't stamp round and forbid it, if that's what you think. It's not his way—he's too subtle. He'd just quietly queer it; nobody would ever be sure how it was done either. He's fathoms down, Dad is."

"Certainly sounds too deep for a frank, wholesome lad like me.

"I think we'd better—just drift along," Sally said. "Give him a chance to take a fancy to you."

"You believe in long engagements, then?"

"Nonsense! I'm fond of you. And Father and I are much alike." She pondered. "If you could only make a hit with him somehow. I'd never be quite happy about marrying anybody—not even you—if he was opposed. He's really wild about me."

"Naturally."

"Poor Dad. He's broken-hearted. That silly little dollar meant so much to him."

It was Bill's turn to ponder.

"You know, Sally," he said, "I've done considerable police reporting, and on more than one occasion a hard-boiled detective has complimented me. I've dug up some rather important evidence."

"Oh, Bill, that's an idea!"

"If I found that dollar for him, do you think he'd give me you as a reward?"

"He wouldn't stop there. He'd throw in Aunt Dora and the yacht."

"You give me pause. I mean—I couldn't afford the yacht."

"Bill!" Her eyes were shining. "Let's work on the case together. What's the first move? We talk over the suspects, don't we?"

"That might be a good idea. We'll start with you. You said yourself there were times when you hoped he'd lose it."

"Yes, I know. I'm sorry I said it now. Do be serious, Bill. Aunt Dora—she wouldn't take it."

"But you can't eliminate anybody that way."

"Yes, you can. A woman's intuition. Mr. Mikklesen—no motive. Mr. O'Meara—how about him?"

"He's a politician. Their ways are deep and dark."

"I feel that; and he was so insistent on being searched. That's always suspicious."

"I thought it was rather fine of your father"—said Bill—"his courtesy to his guests. He was against the search."

Sally laughed.

"Don't be fooled by Dad's courtesy," she warned. "He knew darn well nobody would be fool enough to steal his dollar and then walk in to dinner with the thing in his pocket. Dad's the soul of hospitality and all that, but he wants that dollar back, and before he gives up he'll put all his guests through the third degree, if necessary. Let's see, there's Julian Hill. He seems awfully keen to keep Dad out of that China job."

"Yes, Hill's a possibility. And how about Mrs. Keith? Know anything about her?"

"Not a thing."

"Well, she's poor," said Bill. "She told me so. But then, so am I. By the way, don't let's overlook me."

"Nonsense! You wouldn't take anything that didn't belong to you."

"You think not?" Certainly a stiff bosom on that shirt.

"Oh, Bill, it's all so hopeless," she sighed. "If we only had a shred of evidence to go on!"

"Maybe we have."

"Bill—not really?"

"You've forgotten one guest. What motive would Henry Frost have in stealing that dollar?"

"None whatever, so far as I know."

"That's the way I feel," Bill went on. "Yet as I understand it, your father's cabin is the one at the end of the corridor off which our rooms open." She nodded. "And just before dinner I certainly saw Henry Frost come out of that room, acting very queerly. He tiptoed along the corridor and slipped into his own room very unostentatiously."

"Bill! It seems ridiculous!"

"I know it does. My saintly employer! He'll be awfully pleased with me if I can fasten this thing on him."

"What are you going to do?"

"I don't know. It's a delicate situation. If I go to your father with my story, Frost will probably have some simple explanation that will make me look like a fool. It seems to me it wouldn't be a bad scheme if I put the matter up to Frost and let him explain to me—if he can."

"Good-by job."

"Probably; but in the interests of justice—and there are other newspapers."

"Well, if you really think it's the best plan—"

"Maybe not, but I'm going to try it. I can't treat old Frost as a criminal, and shadow him. I don't really think he took the dollar anyhow. But I should like to know what he was doing in that room. I'd better see if I can find him."

They rose.

"How thrilling!" Sally said. "We're in this together, remember. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Do you think I'll do for Watson?"

"No, you're altogether too intelligent," Bill told her.

"Oh, Bill, do you think I've got brains? I love brains."

"And I love you. You—you really meant all that—about marrying me? It doesn't seem possible."

"It's more than that; it's probable. Good night—and good luck."

"This is my lucky night," he told her. And it was, for she was in his arms.

His luck held even after he left her, for he found Henry Frost sitting alone over a highball in the smoking-room. His employer evinced no joy at seeing him, but Bill casually lighted a cigar and seated himself.

"Unusually smooth passage," he remarked.

"Smooth enough," said Mr. Frost.

"Awfully jolly cruise, it seems to me. Nothing to mar it—except, of course, the disappearance of that dollar. Too bad about that."

"A great pity."

The old man drained his glass and seemed about to rise.

"Just a moment, Mr. Frost," Bill said. "You're an older man than I am, and I'd like to ask your advice."

"Yes?"

"If any one of us has any evidence that might prove useful in tracing the—er—thief, it should be passed on to our host. Don't you agree?"

"No question about it."

"I'm in a rather difficult position, sir. I happened to be standing at my door just before dinner—the light was off at my back—¦ and I saw a man come out of Mr. Batchelor's cabin and go down the corridor to his own. His actions were rather—peculiar."

"Really?"

"Now what would you do in my position, sir?"

"I'd certainly tell Jim Batchelor all about it."

"But, Mr. Frost—you were the man."

Business rivals sometimes referred to Mr. Frost's countenance as a great stone face. Not without reason, thought Bill as his employer sat grimly regarding him.

"How much," said Frost, "do they pay you at the office?"

Bill drew himself up.

"This is not a case of blackmail, sir," he said.

The old man's eyes flashed dangerously.

"Who said anything about blackmail? I was just going to add that whatever you get you're overpaid, for you're the stupidest whippersnapper I've ever met. Why should I take Jim Batchelor's dollar?"

"I don't know, sir."

"No, nor does anybody else. I did go to his room, and I filched something from him; but it was nothing of importance. I'll explain it to you, though I don't know that I'm under any necessity to do so. For years Jim and I have had an argument about valets. He claims I need one, and I claim I'm still competent to dress myself. When I opened my bag to-night I discovered that I had foolishly come aboard without any collars."

"No collars?" repeated Bill. Then millionaires had their troubles too.

"Precisely. I wasn't going to tell him—I never would have heard the last of it. I knew we wore the same size shirts, so when he was in his bath I slipped in and annexed one of his collars. That explains what you saw, and you're at liberty to go to him with your story any time you like."

"You sound fishy, old boy," Bill thought. But then, so would his tale about the shirt. "I'm not going to say anything to Mr. Batchelor," he announced. "Not for the present, at least."

"Just as you please." Frost stood up. "I'll bid you good night."

"One moment, sir. Should I go on with that interview with Mikklesen? I mean—am I still working for you?"

For a long moment they stared into each other's eyes. It was the employer who first looked away.

"Ah, yes, the Mikklesen story. Go on with it by all means."

Bill smiled knowingly as he watched Henry Frost leave the room.

"Who said anything about blackmail?" he murmured to himself.

The decks of the Francesca were deserted as Bill hurried to his stateroom. The little old berth looked good. Hastily he removed his coat, his collar, and then the ill-fitting shirt. Glad to get that off. Still, it had been better than none. He laid it down on the narrow settee that would have been requisitioned as a berth had the Francesca been sleeping her maximum fifteen. Uncle George's studs seemed to flash up at him reprovingly. A Hammond in a borrowed shirt!

"Get Tatu to return it in the morning," he thought. "I can buy another in Monterey."

Once in the berth, he lay for a time reflecting on the great event of the evening. Sally loved him. It had seemed a dream too remote to consider, yet here it was, coming true. Life was certainly kind to him—all this happiness—obstacles in the way, of course

Ho-hum. Must find that dollar. Who had it? Funny about old Frost. Explanation didn't sound right somehow. Yet it might be true. He himself had, at a vital moment, been minus a shirt. Old boy might be absolutely on the level. How about the others—Hill, O'Meara, Mrs. Keith? So many possibilities. Confusing—sure was confusing—possibilities He slept.

He awoke with a start. It was still dark; he could see nothing; but he knew instinctively there was some one in the room.

"Whoosh there?" he muttered, still half asleep.

A noise—the opening of a door. Bill leaped from the berth, snapped on the light and looked out into the corridor. At the far end of that dim passage he saw a dark figure mounting, two at a time, the stairs to the upper deck. He grabbed his dressing gown, shuffled into his slippers and followed.

His pause to add a finishing touch to his attire was fatal to the pursuit, for when he reached the saloon deck he appeared to be alone in the world. He was fully awake now, but completely at a loss as to his course. He walked along the rail, uncertainly, toward the stern of the boat. Suddenly he stopped.

The sight that arrested him was not on the yacht, but on the calm surface of the moonlit waters. There, floating rapidly away from the Francesca on the wet Pacific, was a white shirt—a dress shirt. The thing was unbelievable, yet there it was; and—did he imagine it?—were not those Uncle George's precious diamond studs sparkling in the bosom that lay on the broader bosom of a very large ocean?

Farther and farther away drifted the shirt with Uncle George's legacy aboard, and, fascinated, Bill moved along the rail, his eyes glued upon it in fond farewell. A voice spoke suddenly and his heart stood still.

"Hello! Out for a stroll?"

He turned. A dark figure was sitting in the lee of the dining saloon, and the red light of a cigar burned steadily.

"That you, O'Meara?" Bill asked.

"Sure is. Lovely night, ain't it?"

"Have you been here long?"

"About an hour and a half. Seemed a pity to turn in a night like—"

"Never mind the night. Who was it ran up here just before I did?"

"Who was what?"

"Somebody was in my cabin—I followed him up here."

"Say, Kid, you'd better take something for your nerves. You're the first human being I've seen for an hour and a half."

"Been here all that time, eh?" said Bill. "Yet that cigar's just been lighted."

"It happens to be my third," said O'Meara. "And if I was you, I wouldn't try the detective business. It ain't for kids. There's something doing on this boat—we all know that. But I'm not in on it. I'm just on a little cruise for my health—see?

Just out to get a little peace and quiet after a busy week in the city. And that's what I was gettin' until you dashed up like a wild man and made a nasty crack about my cigar."

"Oh, no offense," said Bill. "Only—"

"Only what?"

"I suppose you were so taken with the peace and quiet you missed that other fellow completely."

"You go back to bed and rest them nerves."

"That's what I'm going to do," Bill answered, and left him.

He was, indeed, in a great hurry to return. He dashed into his stateroom and looked anxiously about. It was as he feared—the shirt was gone! And Uncle George's studs! What would Aunt Ella say?

He sat down on the edge of his berth, trying to grasp this weird turn of events. Somebody had taken a violent dislike to his having that shirt. Who? The owner probably. That was it, the owner had recognized his property at the time of the search, and now But who was the owner? Well, he could find that out in the morning from Tatu.

He yawned. It was all very confusing. Why should this mysterious stranger come to claim his property in the silent night? Why, having regained it, should he toss it on the chill Pacific's bosom? Had all this any connection with Jim Batchelor's dollar? Questions—questions. All very confusing. One thing was certain—O'Meara had been lying. Bill yawned again; his berth looked warm and inviting. He rose, turned out the light, left dressing gown and slippers in the middle of the floor, and was soon deep in slumber.

* * * * *

BILL HAMMOND was awakened next morning by the noise of Mikklesen singing in his bath. The Englishman had a pretty fair voice, through which at the moment rang a note of triumph natural to one who was securely locked in and had the plumbing all to himself.

The splash of water served as a merry accompaniment.

"The same old story," Bill muttered, "Britannia rules the waves." He looked at his watch—eight-thirty—high time to be up and doing.

If he knew Mikklesen, however, it would do him no good to hurry. He lay where he was, watching the fresh salt breeze flutter the curtain at his port-hole. Outside was a clean blue world, an empty world. Restful, this cruising on one's yacht.

Something pleasant had happened—ah, yes, Sally. She loved him. Other things had happened, not so pleasant. That silly little dollar he had sworn to find. Might be more of a job than it had looked last night in the moonlight with Sally by his side. Somebody had it; somebody who knew only too well its value and was guarding it close against the time when it could be traded in for a goodly supply of its little playmates. Somebody—but who?

He thought of Henry Frost, with his foolish story of a collar shortage. He thought of O'Meara, falsifying with the ease that comes from long practise, on the quiet deck at half-past one in the morning. He thought of the man who had invaded his stateroom, fleeing with that dress shirt in his arms. But that was too absurd—he must have dreamed it.

He rose hastily and searched his cabin. No dress shirt there—only the violent pink, purple and green. He had not dreamed it then. Uncle George's studs were floating far, journeying to some romantic port. A South Sea Islander, no doubt, would wear them next—in his ears, or maybe through his nose. What would Aunt Ella say?

Aunt Ella's reactions, however, were unimportant just now. He had agreed to assume the role of detective and his course was clear. He must discover the owner of that disappearing shirt.

He rang for Tatu and, while he waited, rattled at the door leading to the bath. Not that he expected to gain anything by it, but it relieved his feelings.

Tatu entered, minus his accustomed smile. The boy was worried; there could be no mistake about that.

"Very much trouble to-day," he announced. "Dollar gone. All Japanese boys catch hell. You want something, please?"

"How about taking back that shirt?" asked Bill, looking at him keenly.

"Yes-s," said Tatu. All expression left his face.

"Are you ready to take it back?"

"Yes-s," said Tatu.

"Well, you can't. It was stolen from me in the night."

"Yes-s," said Tatu.

No surprise; no interest even. Did Tatu know all about the shirt, or was this just his Oriental stoicism going full tilt? Bill stared at him, and Tatu stared back. And the white man felt suddenly hopeless, as though he had just sighted a stone wall dead ahead.

"Look here, Tatu," he said, "this is very important. I want to know where you got that shirt."

Tatu looked at the berth, at the bathroom door, through the port-hole, at the ceiling, then back to Bill. "Forget," he said.

"What? Say, don't try that on me!" Bill was annoyed. "Now we'll start all over again. W T here did you get the shirt?"

"Forget," said Tatu.

A wonderful little people, the Japanese. Bill Hammond managed to control himself.

"You told me a minute ago you were ready to return it. How could you return it if you don't know where you got it?"

"Forget," said Tatu.

East is East, and West is West. They stood facing each other, the white man glaring, the Jap merely staring. Bill Hammond turned away. Never get anywhere by losing his temper. Patience, amiability might do the trick. Try them in a minute.

"Morning very nice," said Tatu. "Bathroom door lock? Too bad."

"All right, Tatu," said Bill. "You and I won't quarrel. You helped me out of a tight place last night and I appreciate it."

"Most welcome," Tatu assured him, busily brushing Bill's dinner coat.

An idea flashed into Bill's mind.

"I tell you, that fix I was in was no joke. And I understand I wasn't the only one in trouble. I hear that Mr. Frost came aboard with no extra collars." He paused. Tatu brushed industriously. "Yes, sir, I hear that when he came to dress he didn't have any more collars than a bathing suit."

Tatu laid down the coat.

"Mr. Frost have plenty collar," he said.

"Oh, he did?" Bill sought to appear casual. "I guess I didn't get it straight then. Well supplied with collars, was he?"

"Very big box. Maybe ten. Maybe twelve. Plenty."

"You don't tell me!"

"I lay him out. I know."

Bill turned away lest his face betray him. Here was news! Henry Frost's story disproved already. It certainly began to look as though this Hammond boy was a born detective.

The ownership of the shirt was of no importance now.

"The morning is O.K., Tatu," he remarked, staring out the port-hole. "I'll back up all you said about it. When do we get to Monterey?"

"Maybe not go to Monterey," said Tatu. "Anything else, please?"

"Not go to Monterey? What are you talking about?"

"Things very bad this nice morning," answered Tatu. "Hear bell ringing. Yes- s. Thank you." And he bowed out.

Bill turned again to the bathroom, silent now. He rattled the knob, called, but there was no answer. Donning dressing-gown and slippers he stepped out into the corridor, warm with honest anger. He knocked at Mikklesen's door.

The Englishman opened it, smiling sweetly.

"Ah, good morning," he said. "What can I do for you?"

Bill was proud of himself. A grand thing, self-control.

"I believe," he said, "that you and I are supposed to share that bathroom fifty-fifty."

"Certainly, old chap," agreed Mikklesen. "Any time you feel inclined."

The struggle this time was a bit more difficult, but again Bill won.

"Then will you please unlock the door?" he said through his teeth.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. Frightfully careless of me. Just a moment." And Mikklesen closed his door in Bill's face.

The reporter reentered his cabin and managed to spring into the bath before Mikklesen had regained his own quarters.

"I'd like to see you to-day sometime," he said to the Englishman.

"Really? I fancy we'll run into each other. Bound to on a yacht. I mean to say, rather close quarters."

"You never spoke a truer word. You know, I'm supposed to get an interview from you—for my paper."

"Fancy! You're a pressman then?"

"I work on a newspaper, if that's what you mean."

"Not really? It wouldn't be done in England, you know."

"What wouldn't be done?"

"I mean to say, inviting a pressman as a guest. How extraordinarily—confusing!"

"Well, I'll give you time to get a grip on yourself before we start the interview," Bill answered. "And now, if you don't mind, even a pressman prefers to bathe in private."

"Oh, I'm going," said Mikklesen haughtily.

"It's a great idea," said Bill, and turned the lock on him.

"Lovely lad," he muttered; "so frank and open."

But his resentment was short-lived, and by the time he had finished shaving he had decided that maybe he wouldn't exterminate Mikklesen, after all. Perhaps the fellow served some useful purpose. Who could say? He whistled cheerfully as he dressed, though yesterday's shirt was nothing to whistle about. However, he had it on good authority that clothes don't make the man, and he sincerely trusted that all aboard had heard that one.

In the dining saloon he found Mrs. Keith and O'Meara breakfasting together. They appeared to be on excellent terms, and not particularly pleased at sight of Mr. Hammond's shining morning face.

"Good morning," said the reporter. "We seem to be rather late."

"Frightfully," admitted Mrs. Keith.

"Natural result of staying up half the night," went on Bill. "Late hours make late breakfasts, eh, O'Meara?"

"Was Mr. O'Meara up late?" asked the woman.

"I ran into him on deck at one-thirty this morning," smiled Bill.

"Yes, and it's lucky you did," growled the lawyer. He turned to Mrs. Keith. "This kid had a funny dream about seeing somebody in his stateroom," he explained. "I had a terrible time quieting him and getting him back to bed."

Mrs. Keith smiled sweetly on Bill.

"So you have queer dreams," she cooed. "How thrilling! You must tell me all about them. By the way, I hope you play golf. I'm looking for some one to take me round the Del Monte links this morning."

"Look no further," Bill said. He was face to face with the Californian's big ordeal—the eating of a California grapefruit.

"Oh, that's awfully good of you," Mrs. Keith smiled.

"I mean," Bill added hastily, "you're not going to Monterey."

"What's that?" O'Meara cried. "Where are we going?"

"Don't ask me," Bill answered. "All I know is, we'd have been at Monterey long ago if that had been our destination."

"But—I thought it was all settled," O'Meara objected.

Julian Hill came in. He was fresh as the morning in linen so spotless Bill Hammond began to wonder where his stateroom was. O'Meara at once applied to him for information.

"It's quite true," said Hill. "We're not bound for Monterey—or any other port. We're just cruising."

"Just cruising?" O'Meara repeated.

"Just wandering about the ocean," Hill went on, "playing for time."

"I don't get you," the politician said.

Hill smiled.

"You know Jim Batchelor as well as I do. He's lost something—something of great importance—to him. And he's not the sort of man to land his servants and crew—and his guests—until he's been over each and every one with a vacuum cleaner. Yes," added Mr. Hill, looking hard at O'Meara, "I'd advise the man who has that dollar to hand it over. Otherwise we may not get back to town this year."

O'Meara stood up.

"It's an outrage!" he cried. "Oh, of course I know how Batchelor feels. But this isn't fair to those of us who happen not to be—thieves." And he in turn looked hard at Julian Hill. "I've got to be back in town by Monday morning," he added, and turned away.

"It's all very exciting, at any rate," purred Mrs. Keith. She, too, rose, and they went out together.

"It begins to look as though there might be an opening here for a first-class detective," Bill Hammond ventured.

"Not at all," Hill answered coldly. "Mr. Batchelor is quite competent to manage his own affairs." The rest was silence.

His breakfast over, Bill went in search of Sally. He found her in the dazzling sunlight on the after deck, and not minding it, hers being that sort of complexion.

"Hello," he said. "This is a surprise!"

"What are you talking about?" she wanted to know.

"When I'm away from you, I keep thinking how lovely you are. Then I see you, and you're even lovelier than I thought. That's why I say—"

"Yes, but Bill, where in the world have you been?"

"Eating breakfast. Did you miss me?"

"I certainly did."

"Fine!"

"Are we in this detective business together, or are we not? I'm dying to know what you've found out."

"Oh! Well, I'm here to save your life."

He told her of his interview with Henry Frost and of his more recent discovery regarding the collars. A puzzled little frown wrinkled her otherwise perfect brow.

"I can't understand it," she protested. "Henry Frost is father's dearest friend."

"Always dangerous—dearest friends," Bill told her. "How is your father, by the way?"

"Worried to death. He claims he didn't sleep a wink, and I believe him. The first night without his lucky piece in thirty-seven years. I told him you were on the job, and all about the wonderful evidence you've run down in the course of newspaper work. I was quite eloquent, really."

"Good! I hope you'll always be eloquent when discussing me."

"I always shall, I'm sure."

"You darling! Go on, expand that idea, please."

She seemed about to obey, but at that moment Jim Batchelor joined them. He appeared nervous and upset.

"Good morning, Hammond," he said. "Sally's told me that you're willing to help in this unfortunate affair."

"Well, if it's not presumptuous of me—"

"Nonsense! You've had more experience in this sort of thing than I have, and I'll be glad of your assistance. Besides"—he glanced about him—"it's rather a hard thing to say about one's guests; but—well, I trust you, my boy." The emphasis on the "you" was marked.

"That's very kind of you, sir. May I ask what steps you have taken in the matter?"

"The servants and the crew have all been questioned. They've been carefully searched, and their quarters too. I may say that I don't suspect any of them. Some time during the day the guests' cabins and luggage will be—er—examined. I'm hospitality itself, but this is a vital business for me and I'll stop at nothing. I've also given orders to the captain not to put in anywhere. There are supplies and coal enough aboard to carry us for five days, and I'll stay out that long if I have to."

"It's a good idea, sir," Bill agreed.

"I've also just posted a notice on the board offering a reward of three thousand dollars for the immediate return of my lucky piece, and no questions asked. 'Immediate' is the important word there. The money's yours if you run down the thief."

"Oh, but I wouldn't take your—money, sir," Bill said. The emphasis on the "money" was not so marked as he had intended.

"Rot! Why not? I'd be getting off cheaply at that. Three thousand is a small price to pay for the peace of mind the return of that dollar would bring me. My boy, I'll never know a happy moment until I get it back."

"Bill, why don't you tell him?" Sally suggested.

"Tell me what?" Jim Batchelor asked quickly.

"Bill's unearthed the most amazing things, Dad. You'll never believe—"

"Good lord, why keep me in the dark?" He was all excitement. "What's up?"

"If you don't mind, sir," Bill said, "I'd like just a moment more before I let you in on it. You see—"

"A moment? Well, well—if you say so. But only a moment. My boy, don't keep me waiting."

"I'll make it snappy, sir," said Bill, and hurried off.

Tatu, making up the berth in Henry Frost's cabin, informed him that the millionaire had slept late and was now at breakfast.

Bill looked round inquiringly.

"How about the collars, Tatu?" he said.

"Him lock collars in suitcase," Tatu explained. "Put key in pocket."

Smiling to himself, Bill went to the dining saloon, where his employer sat alone at his breakfast.

"Good morning, sir," said Bill.

"Good morning. You breakfast late." Frost's tone implied that it was a bad sign.

"I've had my breakfast, Mr. Frost. I want to speak to you, if you don't mind."

"And if I do mind?"

"I'd have to speak anyhow," said Bill firmly. Henry Frost looked up sourly from his grapefruit.

"I'll say this for you: You're the most offensive man on my pay-roll."

"I'm sorry, sir. I'm only trying to do the right thing."

"People who are only trying to do the right thing generally make fools of themselves. What is it now?"

"Last night I told you I didn't intend to go to Mr. Batchelor with certain information I had picked up. I've been forced to change my mind."

"Really? What forced you?"

"That story of yours about the collars. I've found out it wasn't true."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, sir. You say you went to Jim Batchelor's room for a collar. I say that's a typographical error. You went there for a dollar."

Henry Frost rose and tossed down his napkin.

"Will you come with me?" he said.

"Certainly, sir." Bill followed his employer on deck. "This is all very painful for me, Mr. Frost."

"Yes, more so than you think. Do you happen to know where Jim Batchelor is?"

"He's on the after deck."

Henry Frost turned in that direction.

"Regarding that interview with Mikklesen, you needn't trouble. You're not on the paper any more."

"Just as you say, sir," Bill replied smilingly.

But his heart sank. In love and out of work—a great combination.

Jim Batchelor was waiting with Sally on the spot where Bill had left them. He looked up eagerly as the two men approached.

"Jim, I've got something to say to you," began Frost.

"All right. What is it?"

"This young idiot thinks I took your dollar."

"Oh, nonsense!" said Batchelor, disappointed in Bill. "I know you wouldn't take it."

"Well," continued Mr. Frost, "I—I " His face turned scarlet. "As a matter of fact, Jim—I did."

Jim Batchelor leaped from his chair.

"What's that? Say that again!"

"Now, Jim, don't get excited. I give you my word, it was all a joke."

"A joke! You old simpleton! Getting funny at your age! Well, hand it over!"

"I want you to understand how it was," Frost continued.

"I was determined to take you out and trim you at golf today. Last night somebody happened to say something about your losing that dollar, and it came over me all at once that if you did you'd be so upset you'd be easy picking on the links. So just for fun, Jim—that was all—I slipped into your room and substituted that other dollar."

"You're a criminal at heart, Henry. I always knew it. But where in Sam Hill- -"

"Of course I never dreamed you'd take it so seriously. And I want to talk to you about that. Really, Jim, that dollar's become an obsession with you. No man ought to build his whole life on a thing like that. It's wrong—all wrong. Let this be a lesson to you."

"Will you cut out the sermon and produce my dollar?"

"I'll get it. It's in my room. There's no hard feelings, Jim—"

"There will be if you don't shut up and get that dollar."

Frost departed. Jim Batchelor stalked the deck. He was mad and he showed it, for no one had told him repression was the fashion.

"The old idiot!" he stormed. "What's got into him? Second childhood, I call it. A joke! You heard him—he said it was a joke!"

"Never mind, Dad, it's all right now," said Sally soothingly. "And you must remember, it was Bill here solved the mystery."

"Mighty clever of him too. I'll write him a check in a minute."

"Oh, I couldn't allow that, sir," Bill protested. "Not under the circumstances."

"Rot! Just as serious as a real theft. And for that matter—who knows? The old fox! I never did trust him."

"Dad! Your best friend!" Sally was shocked.

"Well, how do I know what he's up to?"

At that moment Mr. Frost reappeared. For once his famous poker face failed him. It registered emotion.

"Jim," he said, "I feel like a fool."

"You're certainly acting like one. Where's my dollar?"

Frost slowly extended his bony hand. Eagerly Jim Batchelor reached out a hand to receive. Into it Henry Frost dropped a bit of paper, a greenback, the promise of the United States Government to pay one dollar on demand.

"What the devil's this?" roared Batchelor.

"I found it in the place where I'd hidden your dollar, Jim," said Henry Frost humbly.

Jim Batchelor did not speak. He cast the paper dollar to the deck. His face purpled, so that Bill Hammond wondered what one did first in case of apoplexy.

"What can I say, Jim?" Frost pleaded. "I wouldn't have had this happen for a cool million."

"Apologies!" gurgled Batchelor. "Regrets! What do I care for them? I want my dollar!"

"It was all a joke," said Frost—an unfortunate remark.

"Yeah, a joke! Ha-ha! Fine joke! Somebody else thought so too. Somebody decided to steal your stuff. And now where are we? Just where we started!"

"With this difference," said Frost. "I'm in on this now. You and I will run the thief down together. I've something at stake, too, and my first move will be to add another couple of thousand to that reward you offered."

"A lot of good that will do," shrugged Batchelor. "If three thousand wouldn't bring it, five won't either. I tell you, we're up against it." tie turned suddenly to Bill. "You—you haven't any other clue, have you?" he asked. The trustful note in his voice was pathetic. It made two young people very happy.

"Well, I have one," Bill admitted.

"You have?" Batchelor brightened at once.

"Yes; it may not be very important. But I'll work on it. I'd like your permission to do whatever I think necessary—to invade other people's staterooms if I think best."

"You go as far as you like." Batchelor turned to Frost. "This boy's promised to help me."

"Oh, he's a wonder!" sneered Frost.

"You bet he is," Batchelor answered. "He ran you down in record time, and I'll back him to get the other thief."

"Dad!" Sally reproved.

"All right, Jim," said Frost. "I've got it coming to me."

"I'll say you have!"

Bill bent over and picked up the greenback from the deck.

"I'll take charge of this, if you don't mind. And by the way, Mr. Frost, did anybody else aboard know you took that dollar?"

"Yes—come to think of it," said Frost. "It seemed best, in case my motives should be misunderstood, to let a second party in on the—er—the joke. So I told Julian Hill."

"When did you tell him?"

"Last evening—before I took it. And afterward I mentioned to him that I had it in my stateroom."

In the silence that followed, Bill had a vision of the night before—two tables of bridge, with Julian Hill wandering alone somewhere outside.

"By the way," said Batchelor, "this may not mean anything; but I heard this morning that Mrs. Keith lunched last Wednesday at the Palace with Norman Blake. The Blakes are old rivals of mine," he explained to Bill, "and they've never made any secret of their interest in that dollar."

"And who told you about Mrs. Keith, sir?"

"Julian Hill."

"Ah, yes," Bill smiled. "Well, I'll do my best."

"I'm sure you will, my boy," said Batchelor. "Don't forget, there's five thousand in it for you now."

"I hope there's more than that," thought Bill. "Yes, sir," was what he said. He smiled at Sally and moved away. Frost called after him.

"By the way, Hammond," he said, "if you get the time you'd better do that Mikklesen story. Simon Porter will be expecting it."

"Thank you, sir," Bill answered. Sally joined him and they went forward along the rail.

"What did he mean, Bill?" she asked.

"Oh, he was just handing me back my job. You see, he fired me a little while ago. Now he loves me again. And speaking of that, where do you stand this morning?"

"Just where I stood last night," she told him.

"The day of miracles arrived last night," he said. "You can sit down now, my dear—if you'll tell me all about it."

"All about what?" They found a couple of deck chairs.

"All about how you—like me pretty well."

"Never mind that. You tell me. You love me, don't you, Bill?"

"Sally, words can't put it over! I gave 'em a chance last night, and they fell down on the job."

"When did you start, Bill—being fond, I mean?"

"That day when you were helping the orphans. The moment I saw you—honest, Sally, I loved you on the spot. And for ten minutes I madly worshiped you. Then somebody told me your name. So I went away and never loved you again."

"Bill!"

"Well, that was the idea. Only it didn't work out very well."

"I'm glad it didn't. But business before pleasure, Bill. What's your other clue?"

His bright look faded.

"It isn't any good," he said. "I thought for a minute there might be something in it. I see now I was wrong."

"But what is it, Bill?"

"It's a shirt."

"A shirt?"

"Yes, we've run the collars to earth, and now we'll get busy on the shirt. I tell you, Sally, this is beginning to look to me like the annual outing of the Laundrymen's Benevolent Society."

"You interest me strangely. What's it all about?"

He told her. The misadventure in the steamy laundry of Honolulu Sam, his agony when he found himself shirtless, Tatu's prompt rescue, the theft in the night, the Jap's reticence on the morning after—all these he detailed at length.

"The trouble with the detective game," said Sally, when he had finished, "is that it's so full of mystery. Whose shirt do you imagine that was?"

"Well, there's Julian Hill. He appears to have an extensive wardrobe."

"Bill, you don't think that Julian—"

"I don't know—just a guess. My job now is to get hold of Tatu and pry the information out of him."

"Japs are difficult," said Sally.

"You bet they are, and this boy is Gibraltar's little brother. But I'll make him come across."

"I'm sure you will."

"I'll get the facts out of him if I have to strangle him," Bill told her, "just to prove to you how tenderly I love you."

* * * * *

BUT Bill Hammond's optimistic prediction failed to come true. He did not get the facts from Tatu. After fifteen minutes of the third degree, the little Jap still stood as firm as Gibraltar—or maybe firmer. Bill cajoled, pleaded, threatened. Tatu looked at him with all the calm mystery of the Orient in his eyes, and suavely protested that he had forgotten just where he acquired that shirt. The luncheon bugle came as a merciful interruption.

"All right, go along," said Bill. His efforts had wilted him. "But I'm not through with you, my lad."

"Yes-s, thank you," answered Tatu, and had the audacity to smile as he went out.

Near the door of the dining saloon Sally was eagerly waiting.

"Well?" she asked.

"Salute your hero," said Bill. "He's just been licked by a Jap."

"Tatu wouldn't tell you?"

"Adamant, that boy. He's never heard the word, but he can act it out."

"Why not set Father on him?"

"No," protested Bill, "let's keep Father out of it. I've got to pull this off alone. You know why."

"But what are you going to do?"

"Just what a regular detective would do," he told her. "Wait for a lucky break."

"Is that the way they work?" she asked, unbelieving. She was all for action—her father's daughter.

"It certainly is," said Bill. "I read an interview once with a great French detective. I didn't pay much attention to it at the time, as I didn't know then that I was going into the business. But I remember one thing—he said that the detective's chief ally was luck."

"But suppose you're not lucky?"

"Something that happened last night," smiled Bill, "proved I'm the luckiest man in the world."

Jim Batchelor came up.

"What's doing?" he whispered hoarsely.

"I'm working." Bill tried to make it sound businesslike.

"Results—that's what we want," Batchelor reminded him.

"You bet we do," said Bill, and they went in to lunch.

At the table there was little of the cheery animation of the night before. The guests ate in preoccupied silence, and Jim Batchelor's intimation that they might wander about the Pacific for several days added nothing to the general gayety.

After lunch, Bill Hammond saw Mikklesen enter the smoking-room, and followed. He sat down opposite the Englishman and offered him a cigar.

Mikklesen took it suspiciously and lighted it in the same spirit. Although it was a perfectly good cigar, his subsequent expression seemed to indicate that his worst fears were realized.

"If you've no objection," Bill said, "we might as well get that interview over with."

"As you wish," Mikklesen agreed. "Where's your notebook?"

"My what? Say, listen, it's only in plays that reporters carry those things."

"But I shouldn't care to be misquoted," the Englishman objected.

"Not a chance. I've got a mind like a phonograph record."

"Ah—er—what shall I talk about?" Mikklesen asked.

"Give me something snappy," Bill suggested. "Something they can hang a headline on."

"Oh, but that's hardly my style. Very bad taste, sensationalism. We have practically none of it at home. If you don't mind, I'd like to talk about the Chinese. A really admirable people, old chap."

"You think so?" asked Bill Hammond, without enthusiasm.

"I know it. I had charge of a copper mine in one of the northern provinces, and I found the Chinese absolutely reliable. If they promised a thing, they did it."

"I heard different," Bill said. "But go on, this is your story."

Mikklesen told his story. Beyond question he had the gift of speech, and Bill Hammond reflected as he listened that he was getting something. By an adroit question now and then, he led the talker on. Some ten minutes had passed, when suddenly the second officer of the France sea, who had charge of the yacht's wireless, entered.

"Mr. Hammond," he said, "a message for you."

"Oh, thanks," said Bill. The officer handed it over and departed. "Pardon me just a second."

"Certainly," agreed Mikklesen.

Bill opened the folded paper and read what the second officer had set down. As he read, he smiled happily to himself. The message was from Simon Porter.

"Never mind interview," Simon wirelessed. "Have investigated by cable. A little black sheep who's gone astray. Kicked out of the English colony in Yokohama because they didn't like his shirts."

His shirts! Oh, lady luck!

"Anything important?" inquired Mikklesen.

"Not at all," said Bill. "Go on, please. You were saying—"

Mikklesen went on, but Bill no longer listened. The interview was cold, but the quest of the dollar was warming up. His shirts! They didn't like his shirts. Well, that might mean much or little; but Mikklesen's shirts certainly must be looked into.

"I fancy that's about all I can give you," said the Englishman finally.

"That's plenty," Bill answered heartily. He stood up. "You know, considering how fond you are of the Orient, I'm surprised you came away."

Mikklesen regarded him with a sudden interest.

"Pater's getting old," he explained. "Cabled me to come home. Couldn't very well refuse—family ties and all that. But sooner or later I shall return to the East."

"I'm sure you will," said Bill. "Thanks ever so much."

Eagerly he hurried below. Things were certainly looking brighter. Midway down the passageway he encountered Tatu.

"I want you," he cried, and seizing the Jap by the arm escorted him energetically into the cabin.

"What now, please?" inquired Tatu.

Bill pointed an accusing finger.

"That was Mikklesen's shirt," he announced.

"Somebody tell," said Tatu, with obvious relief.

"Yes, somebody's told. That lets you out. Now come across with the whole story."

"Nothing to say," Tatu replied. "I see he have two shirt. You have no shirt. I hear him talk unkind remarks about Japanese people. I take a shirt. Why not?"

"It was a noble impulse. But why the dickens wouldn't you tell me this before?"

"Last night, maybe twelve o'clock, Mr. Mikklesen ring," Tatu explained. "Tell me I take shirt, give to you. I say no, indeed. He say very well, but will give me fifty dollar I not tell to you whose shirt you have. I accept with pleasure." His face clouded. "Japanese boy lose fifty dollar," he added.

"Has he given it to you?"

"Give one dollar for a beginning. Very small beginning."

Bill's eyes narrowed.

"Let me see the dollar," he demanded. Tatu handed over a crisp new greenback. "You're sure this is the one?"

"Yes-s. Only dollar in pocket," said the Jap.

Bill took out a silver dollar, glanced at it and handed it to Tatu.

"I'll trade with you, if you don't mind. Now listen, my lad! From now on you and I are friends."

"Yes-s. Very nice," agreed Tatu.

"You stick to me. I'm helping Mr. Batchelor—he's asked me to. No more secrets with Mikklesen. Otherwise trouble for you—much trouble."

"I know."

"The first thing in order is an examination of Mikklesen's one remaining shirt."

"Can't do," Tatu said. "Shirt locked up."

"I suppose so," Bill replied. "However, I'm going to take a look. Go and see if there's any one in Mikklesen's cabin."

Tatu departed through the bath. In a second he was back.

"Empty," he announced.

"Fine," said Bill. He stationed Tatu in the corridor with orders to signal if the Englishman appeared. Then, with the bath offering a way of escape, he examined the room with care. But Mikklesen had left no dress shirt where eager hands could find it. Undoubtedly it was in the one piece of luggage that was securely locked—a huge, battered bag that had a London lock.

"Nothing doing," said Bill finally. He returned to his own cabin, followed by Tatu.

"You want bag open?" inquired Tatu.

"It would be a good idea," Bill admitted.

"Maybe dollar inside," suggested the boy.

"I don't know. It might be."

"Pretty strong lock," mused Tatu.

"Oh, so you noticed that?" Bill stared at the impassive face. "Well," he continued, thinking aloud, "my chance will come. It's bound to. Mikklesen's got to wear that shirt tonight, and perhaps Oh, good lord!"

"Yes-s," said Tatu.

"Look here, my boy, what do I wear to-night? I'm worse off than I was last night. I haven't even got any studs."

"Excuse, please. Hear bell ringing," lied Tatu, and departed in great haste.

Bill Hammond sat down on his berth to consider developments. So it was Mikklesen's shirt he had worn so jauntily the evening before. Then it must have been Mikklesen who came in the night to reclaim his property. Knowing himself closely pursued, he had not dared turn into his own cabin, once he reached the corridor, and for the same reason he had thrown the shirt overboard. But why all this fuss about a dress shirt? And how, Bill asked himself, was it connected with Jim Batchelor's dollar, as he was sure now it must be. Well, detectives certainly earned their pay.

Bill left the cabin and returned to the upper deck. The Francesca appeared to be deserted.

He dropped into a chair that stood invitingly in a shady spot and began to consider his problem. Must get into that bag of Mikklesen's. But how?

Heavy footsteps sounded on the deck and O'Meara passed by. He did not speak or turn his head. He appeared worried. Bill Hammond began to worry too. Was he wasting time on a false trail? O'Meara, Julian Hill, Mrs. Keith—all possibilities. Ought to be looking them up a bit too.

But no. For the present he would follow that shirt—see where it led. He'd get into Mikklesen's bag. How would a regular detective go about it? Break open the lock perhaps? No, too crude. Find out where Mikklesen kept his keys? Much better. Find out—how?

It was a rather drowsy afternoon, and a full twenty minutes passed before Bill had an idea. He rose at once to try it out. When he reached the door of the smoking-room Mikklesen was just leaving.

"Hello," Bill said. "I've been thinking about that story of ours. We really need a few photographs to dress it up."

"Oh, no, old chap," said Mikklesen hastily. "I shouldn't care for that at all."

"I don't mean pictures of you," Bill explained. "Just some snapshots taken in the Orient. You surely have some of those."

"Well, as a matter of fact, I have," admitted Mikklesen. "I'll give them to you later."

"But if you don't mind"—Bill summoned his most winning smile—"I'm at work on the story now."

For a moment Mikklesen stood regarding him.

"Oh, very well," he said, "come along."

He led the way below and Bill followed close, determined to miss nothing now. When they reached the Englishman's cabin Mikklesen took a bunch of keys from his pocket. Bill Hammond tried not to look too interested.

"I keep my bag locked," Mikklesen explained. "Things disappearing right and left, you know."

"It's the only safe thing to do," Bill agreed.

The Englishman bent over his bag.

"Look there!" he cried.

Bill looked. The lock on Mikklesen's bag had been smashed to bits.

"How beastly annoying!" The Englishman's face was crimson with anger. "This is too much, really it is. I understood I was to go on a cruise with gentlefolk, not with a band of thieves." He was hurriedly investigating the contents of the bag.

"Anything missing?" Bill asked.

"There doesn't appear to be," said Mikklesen, cooling off a bit. "But whether there is or not, I shall certainly complain to our host." He took out an envelope and glanced into it. "The photos, old chap. Pick out what you want and return me the rest, if you will."

"Surely," Bill agreed. He waited hopefully. "If you'd like me to stay here and keep an eye on things while you look up Mr. Batchelor—"

Mikklesen stared at him. Did he imagine it, or was that the ghost of a smile about the Englishman's lips?

"Thank you so much," he said. "But I shall ask Mr. Batchelor to come to me here. I shan't leave my cabin again this afternoon—if you're interested."

If you're interested! Now what did he mean by that? Did he know that Bill was on to him, or was it a shot in the dark?

"Oh—er—of course " said Bill lamely, and departed.

Back in his own room, Bill tried to think things out. What did "if you're interested" mean? And who had broken the lock on that bag? Evidently Mikklesen wasn't the only shady character aboard.

He took out a book and settled down in his berth to read, his ear attuned to eventualities in the next cabin. Would Mikklesen keep his word and remain on guard by his mysterious shirt? An hour passed, and it began to appear that such was the Englishman's intention.

It was, as has been noted, a drowsy afternoon. Bill dropped his book and lay back on the pillow. Ah, this was the life! No harsh call from his city editor or from Simon Porter sending him forth for a bit of leg work on the hard pavements. No feverish hurry to make the last edition. Nothing but the soft swish of water, the thump of the engines—sounds that suggested slumber. Bill accepted the suggestion.

He was awakened some time later by a sharp knock on his door. Leaping up, he opened it. A servant stood outside.

"Mr. Hammond, you're wanted above, sir."

Wanted! What now? Some new development in the matter of the dollar, no doubt. He hastily brushed his hair and went to the upper deck. At the top of the companionway he encountered Aunt Dora, looking extremely competent.

"Ah, Mr. Hammond," she said, "I hope I haven't disturbed you. We've a table for bridge and we lack a fourth."

Trapped! Bill looked wildly to the right and left.

"I—I thought it was something important," he stammered.

"I beg your pardon?"

"I mean—you don't want me. I'm a terrible player. You have reason to know."

"Practise makes perfect. I'll give you a few pointers."

"It's awfully good of you, but—I'm very busy and—my eyes aren't in very good shape."

"I noticed your failing eyesight," she answered, "last night when you trumped my ace of spades. However, we'll put the table in a strong light. Come along."

"I—I'll be very happy to," said Bill, surrendering.

Aunt Dora didn't care whether he was happy or not. She had him. He wasn't her ideal bridge player, but he was all she could get. And as Bill followed her into the main saloon he prayed to see Sally there.

But he didn't. Julian Hill and Henry Frost sat glumly at a table, their manner that of captive slaves on Caesar's chariot wheels. Aunt Dora sat down and the big game was on. It proved a long and painful session. At the close of each hand Aunt Dora halted the proceedings while she delved into the immediate past, pointing out to one and all the error of their ways. Bill got a lot of undesirable publicity out of these little talks.

The dinner hour was not far away when Sally came in and released him. When they left the saloon Aunt Dora was going strong. Mr. William Hammond, it seemed, had done something for which he should have been drawn and quartered.

"She'll never forgive me," said Bill. "I got her signals mixed."

"I'm afraid she's rather tiresome at times," Sally smiled.

"Well, she will insist on crossing her bridge after she's got well over it. There are people like that."

"You were good to play, Bill," Sally said.

"Yes, but I didn't play so good, and I wasted a lot of time when I should have been sleuthing."

"Has anything happened?" she inquired.

"I should say it has. It was a big afternoon up to the moment I met your aunt." He told her of Simon's message and the accident to Mikklesen's bag. "Things are moving," he added.

"They seem to be," she admitted. "What are you going to do now?"

"Ah—er—something very bright, you may be sure. I'm keen eyed and alert. My brain is hitting on all twelve."

"Yes, but what are you going to do?"

"My dear, don't be so literal. Can it be you don't trust me?"

"Oh, I know you're simply wonderful. Only—"

"Never mind the only. We're on the verge of big things. Watch and wait!"

His manner was confident, but by the time he had reached his cabin his confidence had begun to wane. He stood for a moment wondering just what his preparations for dinner were to be. No evening clothes to-night, that was certain. He would have to make some sort of apology to Jim Batchelor and let it go at that. At any rate, he had appeared properly clad the night before, and the other guests could draw their own conclusions regarding his appearance to- night.

He tried the door into the bath—locked of course. He rattled and called—there was no sound within. Have to go and open the door again. As he paused outside Mikklesen's cabin something told him not to knock. He entered very quietly.

The cabin was empty and in semi-darkness. He moved farther into the room—and his heart stood still. A white blur in the dusk—Mikklesen's dress shirt! It was lying on the settee under the port-hole, within easy reach. He put his hand down and touched it, and as he did so a faint sound in the bath startled him. He drew his hand back from the shirt, but in that brief second he had made an interesting discovery. Mikklesen appeared in the bathroom door.

"Good lord!" he cried. "You gave me a shock! What are you doing here? Confound it all, is there no privacy aboard this yacht?"

"I'm sorry," said Bill. "I didn't know you were in the bath, and I was coming through to unlock it. I thought you'd gone off and left it that way—it wouldn't be the first time, you know."

"Well, I happen to be using it," said Mikklesen testily, and the fact that half his face was lathered and he carried a razor seemed to bear him out. "In the future, I'll thank you to knock before entering my cabin."

Bill considered. He had Mikklesen where he wanted him, but his sense of the dramatic told him to bide his time. Better an unmasking in Jim Batchelor's presence than a scene with only two people in a half-dark cabin.

"I beg your pardon," he said. "Sorry I disturbed you."

"It's rather upsetting," complained Mikklesen. "First my bag broken into, and then you popping up like a ghost." He followed Bill to the door and shut it after him in a manner suggesting extreme annoyance.

Out in the corridor, Bill gave himself up to a moment of unalloyed joy. It was almost too good to be true. Too easy. A bright lad, this Mikklesen; but not too bright for young Mr. Hammond, the peerless detective. For Bill knew where the dollar was now!

He must have a word with Jim Batchelor before he staged his big scene. He tiptoed down the passage and knocked at the millionaire's door. Batchelor called an invitation to enter, and when he did so he was glad to find that Sally also was in the room. She was tying Batchelor's dress tie, for she was a faithful daughter and didn't like Tatu's work as a valet. Her father broke from her ministrations at sight of Bill.

"Something doing?" he inquired, with pathetic eagerness.

"I'll say there is," replied Mr. Hammond cheerily.

"You've got it?"

"I've got it located—same thing."

"Not quite." Batchelor's happy look faded. "However, where is it?"

"That'll be revealed at the proper moment," Bill told him. "I just dropped in to lay my wires for a little scene after dinner to-night. Sally, I'm glad you're here. After the coffee you're to take your aunt and Mrs. Keith from the dining saloon and leave us men alone."

"What—and miss the excitement? Not much!"

"Sally, you heard what Mr. Hammond said," reproved her father. "Obey."

"But, Dad—"

"Sally!"

"Oh, well, if you think Mr. Hammond knows best," smiled Sally.

"I'm sure he does."

"I'm sorry, Sally," Bill said. "But the subsequent events will be such that I don't think it the place for the so-called weaker sex. Mr. Batchelor, I want you to back me up from that point on. Anything I say—and anything I propose to do."

"Of course. But you might give me a little hint—"

"I will, sir." He handed over Simon Porter's wireless message. "Read that, please."

Batchelor read.

"Who's he talking about? Not—Mikklesen!"

"Yes, sir, Mikklesen."

"Good lord! I never thought of him. What about his shirts?"

"You wouldn't believe if I told you, sir. I'll show you after dinner."

"Fine!" Batchelor's spirits rose. "I'll be mighty glad to get this thing solved to-night. The captain's just told me there's something wrong with the engines, and we're circling back to Monterey." He submitted while Sally put the finishing touch on his tie. "By the way, Mikklesen called me into his stateroom this afternoon and put up a terrible howl because his bag had been broken into. I was very sympathetic, I didn't tell him the captain was the guilty party."

"Oh, the captain broke that lock."

"Yes; pretty crude work. He swore he could pick it open with a jack-knife, but his hand slipped and he ended by smashing it. I didn't approve of his going quite that far."

"Did he find anything?" asked Bill.

"Nothing. He went over the thing carefully—so he claims."

"He didn't have the combination," smiled Bill. "By the way, sir, I shan't be able to dress for dinner to-night. I'll come as a plain-clothes man, if you don't mind."

"Come in your pajamas if you want to," said Batchelor. "Only get me that dollar."

"I'll get it," Bill assured him. As he left the cabin he smiled triumphantly at Sally and Sally smiled back.

The conquering hero—that was how he felt.

* * * * *

A TENSE air hung about the dinner table that evening, as though all present knew that some important development in the dollar chase was close at hand. Only one guest was entirely at ease—Mikklesen. He resumed his tale of far corners and strange adventures, and once more Bill Hammond had to admit that the boy was good.

When the women had left the saloon a pointed silence fell. Jim Batchelor sat for a moment staring at the end of his cigar.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I know you'll pardon my mentioning again the matter of the missing dollar, for I'm sure you're all as interested as I am to see the property recovered. Mr. Hammond has been making an investigation, at my request, and I understand he has something to report."

They turned with interest to Mr. Hammond. Bill smiled cheerily about the circle.

"We've made several discoveries," he began. "For instance, we know that the dollar was taken from Mr. Batchelor in the first place as a rather ill-advised joke." Frost squirmed in his chair, but Bill mentioned no names. He told how the unfortunate jokester, on seeking to return the dollar to its owner, had found in the hiding place a greenback of equal value. He took the bank-note from his pocket.

"This is a brand-new note," he said, "and its serial number is 2B7654328B. Some of you may have noticed that when you are paid money by a bank, and receive new bills, the serial numbers follow in perfect sequence." He removed another bill from his pocket. "I have here," he added, "another new dollar note, and the serial number is 2B7654329B. Is it too much to suppose that the two notes came from the same pocket?"

"Good work!" remarked Batchelor, beaming. "Where'd you get that other one?"

"The second note," Bill explained, "was given to Tatu, the valet, in return for some trifling service. It was given to him by one of you gentlemen here present." He paused. No one spoke. "It was given him by Mr. Mikklesen," Bill added.

They all turned and looked at the Englishman. His nonchalance was admirable.

"That may be true," he smiled. "I may have given the Jap that note—I don't recall. What of it?"

"Pretty flimsy, if you ask me," said O'Meara. "I'm a lawyer and I want to tell you, young man—"

"Just a moment, Mr. O'Meara," Bill smiled. "We don't need a lawyer just yet. I recognize that this evidence is rather inconclusive. I mentioned it merely because it makes a good prelude to what will follow. The close relationship of these notes points to Mikklesen. Other things point to Mikklesen. I point to Mikklesen. I ask him to stand up and be searched—that is, of course, if Mr. Batchelor has no objection."

Batchelor nodded. "Go to it," he said heartily.

"Fine!" Bill said. "Now, Mr. Mikklesen, if you'll be so good—"

Mikklesen flushed.

"This is an insult," he protested. "Mr. Batchelor, I appeal to you. The simplest laws of hospitality—"

"You've abused my hospitality, sir," said Batchelor. "I know all about you. Stand up!"

Slowly the Englishman got to his feet.

"The coat and waistcoat, please," Bill Hammond ordered. "Thanks. Now the collar and the tie. I'll help you, if you don't mind." He rapidly unfastened the studs in Mikklesen's gleaming bosom. "Our friend here," he explained, "has made a close study of his profession. He has perfected the Mikklesen shirt, for which he was famous in the Orient. The bosom is unusually stiff; it holds its shape well. And at the bottom, on the left side, an extra strip of linen makes a convenient pocket. You wouldn't notice it if the shirt were freshly laundered—I didn't"—he smiled at Mikklesen—"but after prying it open you have a handy receptacle for carrying slender booty—bank- notes, or even a silver dollar. And the loot doesn't show, particularly if you are built concavely, as is young Raffles here." Bill removed from the bosom of the shirt a silver dollar and tossed it down before Jim Batchelor. His heart was thumping; this was his big hour. "Your lucky piece, I believe, sir," he said.

Batchelor's eyes shone.

"My boy, how can I ever thank you " he began. With trembling hand he picked up the dollar. A hoarse cry of rage escaped him. He threw the dollar back on to the table and got to his feet. "Damn it," he cried, "how long is this thing going to keep up?"

"Wha-what thing, sir?" asked Bill, his triumph fading.

"That," roared Batchelor, "is not my dollar! It was coined in the year 1899."

"Good lord!" cried Bill; and glancing at Mikklesen, he saw on that gentleman's face a look of undisguised surprise.

The saloon was in an uproar, everybody talking at once. But above the clamor Batchelor's voice rang out. He was facing Bill, and he was talking to Bill.

"You a detective! You're a defective, that's what ails you! You get my hopes way up, and then you—you—you—"

"Well, I'm sorry, sir," said poor Bill. He was a bit dazed.

"Sorry! What kind of talk is that? Sorry! I could—I'd like to—I tell you this, you unearth any more dollars for me, and I'll skin you alive!" He turned to Mikklesen, who was tying his necktie as best he could without a mirror. "And you, sir! What have you to say? What explanation have you to offer? Honest men don't go about with trick shirts. I know your reputation in the Orient. How came that dollar where it was?"

"I'm afraid I've been done, sir," said Mikklesen suavely, putting on his coat.

"Done? How so?"

"Under the circumstances, I can't do better than tell you the truth. If you will pause to consider, there has been no real theft. In each case, nothing but substitution—one dollar for another. The value of your lucky piece is purely sentimental. Remember that, if you will."

"Go on," said Batchelor.

"I went to your cabin last night to get that dollar. I'm a bit of a jokester myself. I heard Mr. Frost at the door and had just time to reach the closet. From there I watched him make the substitution. I followed him, and when he left his cabin to go to dinner, I slipped in. After locating your dollar, I made a little substitution of my own. I had your dollar last night, I had it this morning—right where our young friend here found this other one. I put the shirt with the dollar in it in my bag and securely fastened the lock. Mr. Hammond here will bear me out when I say that some time in the early afternoon the lock of my bag was broken. That must have been when the dollars were exchanged."

"Nonsense!" answered Batchelor. "You mean to say you haven't made sure of that dollar since?"

"I saw that there was still a dollar in the bosom of the shirt and naturally supposed it was the—er—lucky piece."

Jim Batchelor slowly shook his head.

"I don't get you," he said. "You're too deep for me. However, I know one thing—you're not the sort of guest I care to have around. Something has happened to the engines and we're turning back to Monterey. In the morning you will greatly oblige me by taking your luggage and going ashore."

"Oh, naturally," calmly agreed Mikklesen.

"After you've been searched," Batchelor added. "Shall we join the ladies?"

As they left the dining saloon, Bill Hammond saw O'Meara seize Mikklesen's arm and hold him back. The politician's ruddy face was a study in various emotions, none pleasant.

Entering the main saloon last, Bill encountered Sally just inside the door. Her eyes were shining with excitement as she maneuvered him outside.

"Oh, Bill, I felt dreadfully," she said. "I mean, to miss your big scene of triumph."

"Ha-ha," he remarked mirthlessly.

"Why, what's the matter?"

"Some triumph, Sally! A dud! A raspberry! As a detective I'm a great reporter." And he told her what had happened.

"What did Father say?" she inquired when he had finished.

"Ah," he answered, "you go right to the heart of the matter. Father said plenty, and if a look ever meant poison in the coffee, his look meant that to me. I tell you, Sally, it's all over now. As far as Father goes, I'm out."

"Don't give up," she urged. "Haven't you any more clues?"

"Well," he replied slowly, "a little one."

"I knew it!" she cried. "What is it, Bill?"

"Oh, nothing much. But I happened to pick up that dollar we found on Mikklesen, and—"

Jim Batchelor and Henry Frost emerged from the main saloon and came up.

"Ah," said Frost sarcastically, "the young detective."

"Don't kid him, Henry," said Batchelor. "The boy's got a future. He can dig up more dollars than John D. Rockefeller."

"Mr. Batchelor, I certainly regret—" Bill began.

"Never mind that. Where are we now? Things are more confused than ever."

"If you'll take a suggestion from me," Frost began, "how about your captain? He opened Mikklesen's bag. Was he alone at the time?"

"Nonsense!" Batchelor answered. "You're wrong as usual, Henry."

"Well, I don't know. What's all this about the engines, and turning back?"

"Rot, I say! The captain's been with me for more than ten years." Batchelor shook his head. "I tell you, I'm up a tree. A lot of things I don't understand. Very strange, for example, that Mikklesen should have made that confession. He could have denied everything and let it go at that."

"Dad," said Sally, "Bill's got another clue."

"I suppose so," her father replied. "He certainly is a marvel for clues. I shouldn't be surprised if he conjured a dollar out of somebody's ear next. But it won't be my dollar, I'm sure of that."

"If you'll give me a chance, sir," suggested Bill.

"Well, you're a broken reed, but you're all I've got to lean on. What is it now?"

"Mikklesen's luggage was broken into about two-thirty. He didn't discover it until after three. The captain couldn't have been in there more than ten or fifteen minutes. What happened in the interval between the time the captain went out and Mikklesen came in?"

"Tell me that and I'll say you're good."

"I can only surmise, sir. But that 1899 dollar we found on Mikklesen—I know who had it last."

"What? You do?" ^

"Yes. That's the dollar I gave Tatu this morning in exchange for the greenback he got from Mikklesen."

"Tatu! That's an idea! Come into the smoking-room and we'll have Tatu on the carpet."

The owner of the Francesca led the way, and Frost, Hammond and Sally followed. Tatu, summoned, appeared a bit lacking in his accustomed calm. He feared his employer, and showed it.

"You've seen this dollar before, Tatu," said Bill, holding it out. "I gave it to you this morning. What did you do with it after that?"

Tatu stared at the silver dollar.

"Give him back," he said.

"Back to whom?"

"Mr. Mikklesen."

"The truth, Tatu," Batchelor demanded.

"So help," answered the Jap. "Mr. Mikklesen say I do not keep promise. That not true. Make me give dollar back, anyhow."

That was Tatu's story, and he stuck to it. After a few moments of further questioning, Batchelor let him go.

"Well, where does that get us?" the millionaire wanted to know.

"The Jap's lying," declared Frost.

"I don't think so," Bill objected. "No, something tells me he speaks true. Mr. Batchelor, that big confession scene of Mikklesen's was staged with a purpose."

"What purpose?"

"I can't say. But I've a hunch he's still got your dollar."

"Where?"

"That's for me to find out, sir." Bill was again the man of action. "Sally, I wish you'd go in and lure Mikklesen into a bridge game, if you will, please. After that's under way, I'll act."

"You sound good," admitted Batchelor. "But then you always do. I wish I could be sure you'd get the right dollar this time."

"I'll get it," said Bill. His heart sank. He'd said that before—with what result? But this time he must make good—he must! However, he wasn't so sure.

When he saw the Englishman uncomfortably settled as Aunt Dora's partner in a game, he hurried below. Without hesitation he turned on the light in Mikklesen's cabin and began to search. He did a thorough job—under the carpet, in the closet, everywhere. But he found no dollar. Nothing at all of interest, in fact, save a little coil of flat wire which lay on the floor almost under the berth. It seemed of no importance, but he put it in his pocketbook. His heart was heavy as he turned out the light and started to leave via the bath. He had one foot in the bathroom and the other in Mikklesen's cabin when the door into the corridor opened.

"Hello," said a voice—O'Meara's—very softly.

Bill fled. He silently took the key out of the door leading from the bath into his room, and, safe in his cabin, fastened the lock from that side. He laid his hand gently on the knob of the door and waited. Footsteps sounded faintly in the bath, and then the knob began to turn slowly in his hand. He let it turn. A gentle shake of the knob, and then the footsteps receded. As soon as he dared, Bill unlocked the door and opened it an inch or two. He made out the occasional glimmer of a flashlight in Mikklesen's cabin.

For a time O'Meara searched industriously. Suddenly the flash went dark. Some one else had entered Mikklesen's cabin. Who? In a moment the politician enlightened him.

"Mrs. Keith!" he said in a low voice.

"Mr. O'Meara!" came the woman's answer.

"What can I do for you?" O'Meara inquired sarcastically.

"Is this your cabin, Mr. O'Meara?" she asked, equally sarcastic.

"It is not."

"Then what are you doing here?"

"Just what you're doing. Looking for that dollar."

"Why, Mr. O'Meara—"

"Come across. I made you early in the game. See here, our interests are the same. Let's work together."

"I don't know what you mean."

"Oh, yes, you do. You're here to get that lucky piece for the Blakes; and I—well, I represent other interests; interests that want to keep Jim Batchelor out of the primaries. Let me have that dollar until next Wednesday at six p.m. and you can have it after that."

"But I haven't got it, Mr. O'Meara."

"I know you haven't. I mean, in case we can get hold of it."

"You think it's in this room?"

"I think Mikklesen's got it somewhere. You know, I had my deal all fixed with him. I caught him last night throwing a shirt overboard, and after a little talk he admitted he had the lucky piece and agreed to deliver it to me in Monterey for twelve hundred cash."

"I thought of making him an offer myself," said the woman. "I knew his talents of old, and I was sure he had it."

"It's just as well you didn't. This morning, when Batchelor offered that whale of a reward, the dirty crook began to hedge. He'd have double-crossed me then and there, only I threatened to have him framed before he could get out of the state. He knew I could do it, so he held off."

"Then that performance to-night was all staged?"

"It sure was," O'Meara said. "I could see it in his eye. It was all for my benefit. I wouldn't be surprised if he led that young fool of a Hammond right into it. He wanted me to think he'd lost the dollar. Probably he's figuring on getting ashore with it, and then sending it to Batchelor by a messenger. But only over my dead body. Let's get busy."

"Where does this door lead?" asked Mrs. Keith.

"Into a bath. There's a door into another cabin, but it's locked."

And it was, for Bill Hammond took the hint just in time. He went to the upper deck and left them to their search, confident that it would have no results.

The bridge game was just breaking up, with the enthusiastic cooperation of every one save Aunt Dora. Bill took Sally aside in a corner of the saloon, but before he could say anything her father joined them.

"Anything doing?" he inquired.

Bill told them of the conversation in Mikklesen's cabin. Jim Batchelor was indignant.

"Fine business I" he said. "O'Meara, and the woman too! I knew blamed well I couldn't trust anybody on this boat. Well, they'll go ashore, bag and baggage, with Mikklesen in the morning. But not until I've been over all three of them personally."

"Father."

"Yes, I mean it. Well, Hammond, where are we now? Mikklesen's still got the dollar, you think? But where's he got it?"

"Well " began Bill.

"You've got a clue, of course," said Batchelor. '

"Not one," Bill answered sadly.

"What?" Batchelor stood up. "Well, if you've run out of clues, then the skies are dark indeed. Something tells me I'll never see my dollar again. You may be a good newspaper man, my boy, but as a detective—well—oh, what's the use? I'm going to bed. Good night."

Sally and Bill followed him outside. In a shadowy spot on the deck they paused.

"Oh, Bill, what are we going to do now?" the girl sighed.

"Well, I have one—one little clue. But it's so silly I didn't have the nerve to tell him about it. Just a little coil of wire I found in Mikklesen's cabin."

"What would that mean, Bill?"

"I don't know. But I'm going to think to-night as I never thought before. I can't lose you, Sally. I won't—that's all."

"Not if I have anything to say about it, Bill, you won't," she answered, and the wisdom of stopping in a shadow became at once apparent.

In his berth Bill settled down to do the promised thinking. He began to go over in his mind, carefully, every point in the equipment of a man like Mikklesen. But somewhere in the neighborhood of the military brushes he fell asleep.

* * * * *

THERE is a subconscious self that never sleeps, but applies itself to any problem in hand. Which probably explains why Bill awoke the next morning with the hunch of his life. It was very late; and struck by an unaccustomed quiet, he looked out the port-hole. The little town of Monterey and the green forest of Del Monte met his gaze, and he knew the Francesca had reached port.

The bathroom door was unlocked, and the door leading into Mikklesen's cabin stood open. There was no trace of the Englishman, nor of his many pieces of luggage. Alarmed, Bill rang for Tatu; but from the Jap he learned that no one had yet gone ashore.

"Hurry," Bill ordered, "and tell Mr. Batchelor not to land any one until he hears from me." And he prepared himself for a busy morning.

Jim Batchelor arrived just as Bill was tying his necktie.

"Any news?" inquired the young man.

"Not a glimmer," answered Batchelor. He sat down on the berth, his gloomy face in striking contrast to the sunny morning. "The second officer was in Mikklesen's cabin while he dressed, and examined everything he put on. We've been through his luggage again too. But there was nothing doing. Either he hasn't got that dollar or he's too smart for us."

"Where is he now?" Bill asked.

"He's on deck, waiting to go ashore. The launch is ready. O'Meara and Mrs. Keith are there too."

"Did you search them?"

"Well, no. There are limits. Besides, I'm sure they're just as much in the dark as I am. Both of them came to me this morning and said both wanted to leave the cruise here, so I simply told them to go. There seemed no occasion for a row."

"You were quite right, sir," Bill agreed.

"You—you sent me word not to let anybody land until you came up," said Batchelor.

"I did," Bill smiled.

"Are you—are you on a new trail?"

"I think so."

"My boy! No, no, I mustn't let you get my hopes up again."

"You're very wise, sir," Bill admitted. "This isn't much—a fighting chance, that's all."

"Well, let's fight it," said Batchelor as they left the cabin. "I tell you again, you get that dollar back and there'll be nothing too good for you."

"Careful!" said Bill under his breath, and they went on deck.

Sally joined them, as lovely as the California morning, but with a worried look in her eyes. Bill smiled his reassurance. They moved along the deck and came upon Mikklesen, O'Meara and Mrs. Keith sitting amid their luggage.

"We're losing some of our guests," said Batchelor.

"So I see," Bill answered. "I'd steeled myself to part with Mikklesen, but these others—I'm awfully sorry—"

O'Meara glared at him. Henry Frost, alert for news, came up.

"Mr. Batchelor," Bill went on, "before Mikklesen goes out of our lives for ever, I'd like to ask him one question."

"Certainly. Go to it."

"Mr. Mikklesen"—the Englishman stood up, and he and Bill faced each other—"Mr. Mikklesen," Bill repeated, "what time is it?"

The Englishman's eyes narrowed.

"I don't understand."

"The time—by that watch of yours. I've seen you consult it before. Why not now?"

"My dear fellow"—Mikklesen was quite at ease—"it's a frightfully old thing, really. Belonged to my grandfather. Something has happened to it. It's not running."

"Not running? That's too bad." Bill held out his hand. "Let me have a look at it. I might be able to fix it."

Mikklesen's eyes turned quickly to right and left. He appeared to be measuring the distance between the Francesca and the shore.

"Come on," said Bill. "There's no way out. Hand it over."

"Why not?" said Mikklesen. He took from his pocket a large ancient timepiece and unfastened it from the chain. He was smiling. Bill's heart sank—was he wrong, after all?

His strong fingers closed eagerly on Mikklesen's watch. Anxiously he opened the back. The thing was packed with tissue-paper. He lifted out the paper—and smiled, for underneath lay a silver dollar.

"I hope it's the right one this time," he said, and handed it to Batchelor.

"By the Lord Harry!" cried Batchelor. "My lucky piece! The first dollar I ever earned. Little secret mark and all. My boy—my boy, I take back all I said."

Bill glanced at Sally; her eyes were shining. He handed the watch case back to Mikklesen.

"When you took out the works," he said, "you shouldn't have let the mainspring get away from you. Lively little things, mainsprings. Elusive, what?"

"I fancy so." Mikklesen, still smiling, still nonchalant, restored the watch to his pocket. "Mr. Batchelor, I'll toddle along. There's been no actual theft."

"Who says there hasn't?"

O'Meara, purple with rage, was on his feet. "Batchelor, you turn this crook over to me. I'll put him behind the bars, where he belongs."

Jim Batchelor shook his head. "Your passion for justice is splendid, O'Meara," he said, "but I prefer it otherwise. Publicity never did appeal to me. Mr. Mikklesen, I congratulate you. You must have been a wonder at hide and seek when you were a kid. You may as well—go along."

"Thanks, awfully," said Mikklesen. "It's been a frightfully jolly cruise, and all that." He glanced at O'Meara, and his smile faded. "I'm going to ask one last favor, if I may."

"Well, you've got your nerve," Batchelor said. "What is it?"

"Will you be so good as to send me ashore alone, and let the launch return for—these others?"

The owner of the Francesca was in high good humor. He laughed.

"Of course I will," he replied. "I can't say I blame you either. It isn't always safe for birds of a feather to flock together. Get into the launch. And you, O'Meara"—he put himself in the angry politician's path—"you stay where you are."

Mikkleson indicated his luggage to a sailor and hastily descended the ladder. The launch putt-putted away. O'Meara moved to the rail and shook a heavy fist.

"I'll get you," he cried, "you low-down crook!"

Mikklesen stood in the stern of the launch and waved a jaunty farewell. He was off in search of new fields and better luck.

"Oh, Mr. Batchelor," purred Mrs. Keith, "it's a woman's privilege to change her mind, you know. If you have no objection I'll stay with the party."

"Oh, no, you won't!" said Batchelor. "I've got my dollar back and I intend to hang on to it."

"Why, what do you mean?" she said, staring at him with wide, innocent eyes.

"I'm on to you—and O'Meara too. I'm sorry you've forced me to say it. Go back to your friends the Blakes, Mrs. Keith, and tell them they've got me to lick on that China contract—if they can. As for you, O'Meara, my name will be entered in the primaries next week. And I'm glad to know where you stand."

"What's it all about?" O'Meara inquired blandly.

"You know very well what it's about. The second officer has some errands in the town, but he'll be back with the launch in an hour or so. When he comes I'll ask you both to leave the Francesca." Batchelor turned and his eyes lighted on Bill Hammond. Smiling, he put his arm about Bill's shoulder. "Some detective, if you ask me. Come into the saloon, Son. There's a little matter of business between us. Henry, you're in on this. Got your check-book?"

"I've got it," said Frost, and he and Sally followed the pair into the main saloon.

"Two thousand from you, Henry," Batchelor reminded him.

"I know it." Mr. Frost reluctantly sat down at a desk and prepared to write.

"Wait a minute," Bill interposed. "I don't want any money, Mr. Frost."

"What do you want?" asked Frost.

"A better job."

"And he deserves it too," said Batchelor.

"Well," began Frost, whose first instinct was always to hedge,

"I don't like to interfere at the office " Still, his expression seemed to say two thousand is two thousand.

"The Sunday editor quit last week," Bill went on. "A word from you and the job's mine. It pays a hundred, I believe."

Frost stood up.

"All right," he agreed. "We'll consider the matter settled." He patted his check-book lovingly and departed.

"Now that was sensible," beamed Jim Batchelor. "A job—a chance to make good. Better than money."

"It looks better to me," smiled Bill. "You see, I'm thinking of getting married."

Batchelor got up and seized his hand.

"Fine! Fine!" he cried. "My boy, I wish you all the luck in the world."

"Then you approve of it?"

"The best thing that could happen to any young man. A balance wheel—an incentive."

"That's the way I feel, sir," said Bill heartily.

"And it does you credit." Batchelor sat at the desk. "My little check will come in the way of a wedding present." He stopped. "I hope you're getting the right sort of girl?"

"I'm sure of that, sir."

"Of course you feel that way. But these modern girls—not the kind I used to know. Flighty, extravagant—they don't know the value of a dollar."

"This one," said Bill, "knows the value of one dollar. At least, she ought to."

"What's that?" cried Batchelor.

"Put away your check-book, sir," said Bill. "It isn't your money I want."

Batchelor threw down his pen. "I—I didn't dream—Sally, what about this?"

She came and sat on his knee.

"Dad, you've never refused me anything yet. You're not going to haggle over a little thing like Bill."

"But—but I don't—this young man—why, he hasn't anything!"

"What did you have when you were married?" she asked.

"I had my brains and a strong right arm."

"So has Bill," she told him.

He turned slowly and looked at Bill.

"I'm thinking of you too," he said. "I like you, my boy—I won't deny it. But this—this—could you get away with it? A girl like Sally—it isn't so much the initial expense—it's the upkeep. Could you manage it?"

"With your permission," said Bill, "I'd like to try."

Batchelor kissed his daughter and stood up.

"You'll have to give me time on this," he said. "All so sudden. I'll think it over."

"Yes, sir," Bill answered. "And in the meantime—"

"In the meantime " Batchelor stopped at the door. He looked at Bill Hammond long and wistfully. "You know," he said, "I'd give a million dollars to be where you are now." And he went out.

"Poor Dad," said Sally. "Isn't he a darling?"

"It runs in your family," Bill told her. "I've noticed that."

"Bill, you'll always love me, won't you?"

"Love you—and keep you close," said Bill. "In the big moments of my life you'll give me courage to go on. The first wife I ever earned."

"Bill, be careful!" she said. "Somebody might come in."

 
 
 

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