A Man to His Mate
by J. Allan Dunn
CHAPTER I. BLIND
CHAPTER II. A
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. THE
DEMING BREAKS AN
CHAPTER XVI. THE
MIGHT OF NIPPON
CHAPTER XVII. MY
CHAPTER I. BLIND SAMSON
It was perfect weather along the San Francisco water-front, and
Rainey reacted to the brisk touch of the trade-wind upon his cheek, the
breeze tempering the sun, bringing with it a tang of the open sea and a
hint of Oriental spices from the wharves. He whistled as he went,
watching a lumber coaster outward bound. The dull thump of a heavy cane
upon the timbered walk and the shuffle of uncertain feet warned him
from blundering into a man tapping his way along the Embarcadero, a
giant who halted abruptly and faced him, leaning on the heavy stick.
Matey, asked the giant, could you put a blind man in the way of
finding the sealin' schooner Karluk?
The voice fitted its owner, Rainey thoughta basso voice tempered
to the occasion, a deep-sea voice that could bellow above the roar of a
gale if needed. For all his shoregoing clothes and shuffle, the man was
certainly a sailor, or had been. All the skin uncovered by cloth or
hair was weathered to leather, the great hands curled in as if they
clutched an invisible rope. He wore dark glasses with side lenses, over
which heavy brows projected in shaggy wisps of red hair.
Blind as the man proclaimed himself with voice and action, Rainey
sensed something back of those colored glasses that seemed to be
appraising him, almost as if the will of the man was peering, or
listening, focused through those listless sockets. A kind of magnetism,
not at all attractive, Rainey decided, even as he offered help and
You're not fifty yards from the Karluk, Rainey replied.
But you're bound in the wrong direction. Let me put you right. I'm
going that way myself.
That's kind of ye, matey, said the other. But I picked ye for
that sort, hearin' you whistlin' as you came swingin' along.
Light-hearted, I thinks, an' young, most likely; he'll help a stranded
man. Give me the touch of yore arm, matey, an' I'll stow this spar of
He swung about, slinging the curving handle of the stick over his
right elbow as the fingers of his left hand placed themselves on
Rainey's proffered arm. Strong fingers, almost vibrant with a force
manifest through serge and linen. Fingers that could grip like steel
Rainey wonderingly sized up his consort. The stranger's bulk was
enormous. Rainey was well over the average himself, but he was only a
stripling beside this hulk, this stranded hulk, of manhood. And, for
all the spectacled eyes and shuffling feet, there was a stamp of
coordinated strength about the giant that bespoke the blind Samson.
Given eyes, Rainey could imagine him agile as a panther, strong as a
His weight was made up of thews and sinews, spare and solid flesh
without an ounce of waste, upon a mighty skeleton. His face was
heavy-bearded in hair of flaming, curling red, from high cheek-bones
down out of sight below the soft loose collar of his shirt. The bridge
of his glasses rested on the outcurve of a nose like the beak of an
osprey, the ends of the wires looped about ears that lay close to the
head, hairy about the inner-curves, lobeless, the tips suggesting the
ear-tips of a satyr.
Mouth and jaw were hidden, but the beard could not deny the bold
projection of the latter. About thirty, Rainey judged him. Buffeted by
time and weather, but in the prime of his strength.
Snow-blinded, matey, said the man. North o' Point Barrow, a year
an' more ago. Brought me up all standin'. What are you? Steamer man?
Newspaperman, answered Rainey. Water-front detail. For the
You don't say so, matey? A writer, eh?
Again Rainey felt the tug of that something back of the dark lenses,
some speculation going on in the man's mind concerning him. And he felt
the firm fingers contract ever so slightly, sinking into the muscles of
his forearm for a second with a hint of how they could bruise and
paralyze at will. Once more a faint sense of revulsion fought with his
natural inclination to aid the handicapped mariner, and he shook it
The Karluk sails to-morrow, he said.
Aye, soso they told me, matey. You've bin aboard?
I had a short talk with Captain Simms when she docked. Not much of
a yarn. She didn't have a good trip, you know.
Why, I didn't know. Buthold hard a minnit, will ye? You see,
Simms is an old shipmate of mine. He don't dream I'm within a hundred
miles o' here. Aye, or a thousand. He gave a deep-chested chuckle.
Now, then, matey, look here.
Rainey was anchored by the compelling grip. They stood next to the
slip in which the sealer lay. The Karluk's decks were deserted,
though there was smoke coming from the galley stovepipe.
Simms is likely to be aboard, went on the other. Ye see, I know
his ways. An' I've come a long trip to see him. Nigh missed him. Only
got in from Seattle this mornin'. He ain't expectin' me, an' it's in my
mind to surprise him. By way of a joke. I don't want to be announced,
ye see. Just drop in on him. How's the deck? Clear?
No one in sight, said Rainey.
Fine! Mates an' crew down the Barb'ry Coast, I reckon. Sealers have
liberties last shore-day. Like whalers. I've buried a few irons myself,
matey, but I'll never sight the vapor of a right whale ag'in. Stranded,
I am. So you'll do me a favor, matey, an' pilot me down into the cabin,
if so be the skipper's there. If he ain't, I'll wait for him. I've got
the right an' run o' the Karluk's cabin. I know ev'ry inch of
her. You'll see when we go aboard. Let's go.
Rainey led him down the gangway to the deck of the sealer, still
cluttered a bit with unstowed gear. Once on board, the blind man seemed
to walk with assurance, guiding himself with touches here and there
that showed his familiarity with the vessel's rig. And he no longer
shuffled, but walked lightly, grinning at Rainey through his beard,
with one blunt forefinger set to his mouth as he approached the cabin
skylight, lifted on the port side. Through it came the murmur of
voices. The blind man nodded in satisfaction and widened his grin with
a warning hush-h to his guide.
We'll fool 'em proper, he lipped rather than uttered.
The companion doors were closed, but they opened noiselessly. The
stairs were carpeted with corrugated rubber that muffled all sound. Two
men sat at the cabin table, leaning forward, hands and forearms
outstretched, fingering something. One Rainey recognized as the
captain, Simmsa heavy, square-built man, gray-haired, clean-shaven,
his flesh tanned, yet somehow unhealthy, as if the bronze was close to
tarnishing. There were deep puffs under the gray tired eyes.
The other was younger, tall, nervously active, with dark eyes and a
dark mustache and beard, the latter trimmed to a Vandyke. Between them
was a long slim sack of leather, a miner's poke. It was half full of
something that stuffed its lower extremity solid, without doubt the
same substance that glistened in the mouth of the sack and the palms of
the two mengoldcoarse dust of gold!
Rainey felt himself thrust to one side as the blind man straddled
across the bottom of the companionway, towering in the cabin while he
thrust his stick with a thump on the floor and thundered, in a bellow
that seemed to fill the place and come tumbling back in deafening echo:
The face of Captain Simms paled, the tan turned to a sickly gray,
and his jaw dropped. Rainey saw fear come into his eyes. His companion
did not stir a muscle except for the quick shift of his glance, but
went on sitting at the table, the gold in one palm, the fingers of his
other hand resting on the grains.
Jim Lund! gasped the captain hoarsely.
That's me, you skulking sculpin? Thought I was bear meat by this,
didn't you, blast yore rotten soul to hell! But I'm back, Bill Simms.
Back, an' this time you don't slip me!
Jim Lund's face was purple-red with rage, great veins standing out
upon it so swollen that it seemed they must surely burst and discharge
their congested contents. Out of the purpling flesh his scarlet hair
curled in diabolical effect. His teeth gleamed through his beard,
strong, yellow, far apart. He looked, Rainey thought, like a blind
Berserker, restrained only by his affliction.
You left me blind on the floe, Bill Simms! he roared. Blind, in a
drivin' blizzard with the ice breakin' up! If I didn't have use for
yore carcass I'd twist yore head from yore scaly body like I'd pull up
Lund's fingers opened and closed convulsively. Before Rainey the
vision of the threatened crime rose clear.
I looked for you, Jim, pleaded the captain, and to Rainey his
words lacked conviction. I didn't know you were blind. I heard you
shout just before the blizzard broke loose.
Lund answered with an inarticulate roar.
And there's others present, Jim. I can explain it to you when we're
by ourselves. When you're a mite calmer, Jim.
Lund banged his stick down on the table with a smashing blow that
made the man with the Vandyke beard, still silent, keenly observant,
draw back his arm with a catlike swiftness that only just evaded the
stroke. The heavy wood landed fairly on the filled half of the poke and
caused some of the gold to leap out of the mouth.
[Illustration: What's that I hit? asked Lund]
What's that I hit? asked Lund. Soft, like a rat. He lunged
forward, felt for the poke, and found it, lifted it, hefted it, his
forehead puckered with deep seams, discovered the open end, poured out
some of the colors on one palm, and used that for a mortar, grinding at
the grains with his finger for a pestle, still weighing the stuff with
a slight up-and-down movement of his hand.
He nodded as he slipped the poke into a side pocket, and the cabin
grew very silent. Lund's face was grimly terrible. Rainey could have
gone when the blind man reached for the gold and left the ladder clear.
He had meant to go at the first opportunity, but now he was held
fascinated by what was about to happen, and Lund stepped back across
So, said Lund, his deep voice muffled by some swift restraint.
You found it. And yo're going back after more? His forehead was still
creased with puzzlement. Wal, I'm going with ye, eyes or no eyes, an'
I'll keep tabs on ye, Bill Simms, by day and night. You can lay to
that, you slimy-hearted swab!
His voice had risen again. Rainey saw the sweat standing out on the
captain's forehead as he answered:
Of course you'll come, Jim. No need for you to talk this way.
No need to talk! By the eternal, what I've got to say's bin
steamin' in me for fourteen months o' blackness, an' it's comin' out,
now it's started! Who's this man, who was talkin' with ye when I come
He wheeled directly toward the man with the Vandyke, who still sat
motionless, apparently calm, looking on as if at a play that might turn
out to be either comedy or tragedy.
That's Doctor Carlsen. He's to be surgeon this trip, Jim, said
Simms deprecatingly, though he darted a look at Rainey half suspicious,
Rainey, on the hint, turned toward the ladder quietly enough, but
Lund had nipped him by the biceps before Rainey had taken a step.
You'll stay right here, said Lund, while I tell you an' this Doc
Carlsen what kind of a man Simms is, with his poke full of gold and me
with the price of my last meal spent two hours ago. I won't spin out
I rescued an Aleut off a bit of a berg one time. There warn't much
of him left to rescue. Hands an' feet an' nose was frozen so he lost
'em, but the pore devil was grateful, an' he told me something. Told
about an island north of Bering Strait, west of Kotzebue Sound, where
there was gold on the beach richer and thicker than it ever lay at
Nome. I makes for it, gits close enough for my Aleut to recognize
itit ain't an easy place to forget for one who has eyesan' then
we're blown south, an' we git into ice an' trouble. The Aleut dies, an'
I lose my ship. But I was close enough to get the reckonin' of that
Finally I land at Seattle, broke. I meet up with the man they call
Hardluck Simms. Also they called him Honest Simms those days. Some said
his honesty accounted for his hard luck. I like him, an' I finally tell
him about my island. I put up the reckonin', an' he supplies the
Karluk, grub, an' crew.
Simms' luck is still ag'in' him. The Karluk gits into ice,
gits nipped an' carried north, 'way north, with wind an' current,
frozen tight in a floe. It looks like we've got to winter there. Mind
ye, I've given Honest Simms the reckonin' of the island. We go out on
the ice after bear, though the weather's threatenin', for we're short
of meat. An' we kill a Kadiak bear. MeI'll never stand for the
shootin' of another bear if I can stop it.
I've bin havin' trouble with my eyes. Right along. I'm on the floe
not eighty yards from Simms. No, not sixty! It was me killed the bear,
an' we're goin' back to the schooner for a sled. I stayed behind to
bleed the brute. All of a sudden, like it always hits you,
snow-blindness gits me, an' I shouts to Honest Simms. I'm blind, with
my eyeballs on fire, an' the fire burnin' back inter my brain.
Along comes a Point Arrow blister. That's a gale that breeds an'
bursts of a second out of nowhere. It gathers up all the loose snow an'
ice crystals an' drives 'em in a whirlwind. Presently the wind starts
the ice to buckin' an' tremblin' like a jelly under you, splitting
inter lanes. You lose yore direction even when you got eyes. I'm left
in it by that bilge-blooded skunk, blind on the rockin', breakin' floe,
while he scuds back to the schooner with his men. That's Honest Simms!
Jim Lund's left behind but Honest Simms has the position of the
I didn't hear you call out you were blind, Lund. The wind blew your
words away. I didn't know but what you were as right as the rest of us.
The gale shut us all out from each other. We found the schooner by
sheer luck before we perished. We looked for youbut the floe was
broken up. We looked
Shut up! bellowed Lund. You sailed inside of twenty-four hours,
Honest Simms. The natives told me so later, when I could understand
talk ag'in. D'ye know what saved me? The bear! I stumbled over the
carcass when I was nigh spent. I ripped it up and clawed some of the
warm guts, an' climbed inside the bloody body an' stayed there till it
got cold an' clamped down over me. Waitin' for you to come an' git me,
That bear was bed and board to me until the natives found it, an'
me in it, more dead than alive. Never mind the rest. I get here the day
before you start back for more gold.
An' I'm goin' with you. But first I'm goin' to have a full an' fair
accountin' o' what you got already. I've got this young chap with me,
an' he'll give me a hand to'ard a square deal.
Lund propelled Rainey forward a few steps and then loosened his
grip. The captain of the Karluk appealed to him directly.
You're with the Times, he said. All through the talk Rainey
was conscious of the gaze of Doctor Carlsen, whose dark eyes appeared
to be mocking the whole proceedings, looking on with the air of a man
watching card-play with a prevision of how the game will come out.
Mr. Lund is unstrung, said the captain. He is under the delusion
that we deliberately deserted him and, later, found the gold he speaks
of. The first charge is nonsense. We did all that was possible in the
frightful weather. We barely saved the ship.
As for the gold, we touched on the island, and we did some
prospecting, a very little, before we were driven offshore. The dust in
the poke is all we secured. We are going back for more, quite
naturally. I can prove all this to you by the log. It is manifestly not
doctored, for we imagined Mr. Lund dead. If we had been able to work
the beach thoroughly, nothing would tempt me into going back again to
add to even a moderate fortune.
Lund had been standing with his great head thrust forward as if
concentrating all his remaining senses in an attempt to judge the
captain's talk. The doctor sat with one leg crossed, smoking a
cigarette, his expression sardonic, sphinxlike. To Rainey, a little
bewildered at being dragged into the affair, and annoyed at it, Captain
Simms' words rang true enough. He did not know what to say, whether to
speak at all. Lund supplied the gap.
If that ain't the truth, you lie well, Simms, he said. But I
don't trust ye. You lie when you say you didn't hear me call out I was
blind. Sixty yards away, I was, an' the wind hadn't started. I was
afraidyes, afraidan' I yelled at the top of my lungs. An' you
sailed off inside of twenty-four hours.
I don't believe ye. You deserted meleft me blind, tucked in the
bloody, freezin' carcass of a bear. Left me like the cur you are. Why,
The rising frenzy of Lund's voice was suddenly broken by the clear
note of a girl's voice. One of two doors in the after-end of the main
cabin had opened, and she stood in the gap, slim, yellow-haired, with
gray eyes that blazed as they looked on the little tableau.
Who says my father is a cur? she demanded. You? And she faced
Lund with such intrepid challenge in her voice, such stinging contempt,
that the giant was silenced.
I was dressing, she said, or I would have come out before. If you
say my father deserted you, you lie!
Captain Simms turned to her. Doctor Carlsen had risen and moved
toward her. Rainey wished he was on the dock. Here was a story breaking
that was a saga of the North. He did not want to use it,
somehow. The girl's entrance, her vivid, sudden personality forbade
that. He felt an intruder as her eyes regarded him, standing by Lund's
side in apparent sympathy with him, arrayed against her father. And yet
he was not certain that Lund had not been betrayed. The remembrance of
the first look in the captain's face when he had glanced up from
handling the gold and seen Lund was too keen.
Go into your cabin, Peggy, said the captain. This is no place for
you. I can handle the matter. Lund has cause for excitement; but I can
Lund stood frozen, like a pointer on scent, all his faculties united
in attention toward the girl. To Rainey he seemed attempting to
visualize her by sheer sense of hearing, by perceptions quickened in
the blind. The doctor crossed to the girl and spoke to her in a low
Lund spoke, and his voice was suddenly mild.
I didn't know there was a lady present, miss, he said. Yore
father's right. You let us settle this. We'll come to an agreement.
But, for all his swift change to placability, there was a sinister
undertone to his voice that the girl seemed to recognize. She hesitated
until her father led her back into the cabin.
You two'll sit down? said the doctor, speaking aloud for the first
time, his voice amiable, carefully neutral. And we'll have a drop of
something. Mr. Lund, I can understand your attitude. You've suffered a
great deal. But you have misunderstood Captain Simms. I have heard
about this from him, before. He has no desire to cheat you. He is
rejoiced to see you alive, though afflicted. He is still Honest Simms,
I haven't your name, sir, he went on pleasantly, to Rainey. The
captain said you were a newspaperman?
John Rainey, of the Times. I knew nothing of this before I
And you will understand, of course, what Mr. Lund overlooked in his
natural agitation, that this is not a story for your paper. We should
have a fleet trailing us. We must ask your confidence, Mr. Rainey.
There was a strong personality in the doctor, Rainey realized. Not
the blustering, driving force of Lund, but a will that was persistent,
powerful. He did not like the man from first appearances. He was too
aloof, too sardonic in his attitudes. But his manner was friendly
enough, his voice compelling in its suggestion that Rainey was a man to
be trusted. Captain Simms came back into the cabin, closing the door of
his daughter's room.
We are going to have a little drink together, said the doctor. I
have some Scotch in my cabin. If you'll excuse me for a moment?
Captain, will you get some glasses, and a chair for Mr. Lund?
The captain looked at Rainey a little uncertainly, and then at Lund,
whose aggressiveness seemed to have entirely departed. It was Rainey
who got the chair for the latter and seated himself. He would join in a
friendly drink and then be well shut of the matter, he told himself.
And he would promise not to print the story, or talk of it. That was
rotten newspaper craft, he supposed, but he was not a first-class man,
in that sense. He let his own ethics interfere sometimes with his pen
and what the paper would deem its best interests. And this was a whale
of a yarn.
But it was true that its printing would mean interference with the
Karluk's expedition. And there was the girl. Rainey was not going
to forget the girl. If the Karluk ever came back? But then she
would be an heiress.
Rainey pulled himself up for a fool at the way his thoughts were
racing as the doctor came back with a bottle of Scotch whisky and a
siphon. The captain had set out glasses and a pitcher of plain water
from a rack.
I imagine you'll be the only one who'll take seltzer, Mr. Rainey,
said the doctor pleasantly, passing the bottle. Captain Simms, I know,
uses plain water. Siphons are scarce at sea. I suppose Mr. Lund does
the same. And I prefer a still drink.
Plain water for mine, said Lund.
We're all charged, said the doctor. Here's to a better
Glad to see you aboard, Mr. Rainey, said the captain.
Lund merely grunted.
Rainey took a long pull at his glass. The cabin was hot, and he was
thirsty. The seltzer tasted a little flator the whisky was of an
unusual brand, he fancied. And then inertia suddenly seized him. He
lost the use of his limbs, of his tongue, when he tried to call out. He
saw the doctor's sardonic eyes watching him as he strove to shake off a
lethargy that swiftly merged into dizziness.
Dimly he heard the scrape of the captain's chair being pushed back.
From far off he heard Lund's big voice booming, Here, what's this?
and the doctor's cutting in, low and eager; then he collapsed, his head
falling forward on his outstretched arms.
CHAPTER II. A DIVIDED COMPANY
It was not the first time that Rainey had been on a ship, a sailing
ship, and at sea. Whenever possible his play-hours had been spent on a
little knockabout sloop that he owned jointly with another man, both of
them members of the Corinthian Club. While the Curlew had made
no blue-water voyages, they had sailed her more than once up and down
the California coast on offshore regattas and pleasure-trips, and,
lacking experience in actual navigation, Rainey was a pretty handy
sailorman for an amateur.
So, as he came out of the grip of the drug that had been given him,
slowly, with a brain-pan that seemed overstuffed with cotton and which
throbbed with a dull persistent achewith a throat that seemed to be
coated with ashes, strangely contracteda nauseated stomacheyes that
saw things through a hazelimbs that ached as if bruisedthe sounds
that beat their way through his sluggish consciousness were familiar
enough to place him almost instantly and aid his memory's flickering
film to reel off what had happened.
As he lay there in a narrow bunk, watching the play of light that
came through a porthole beyond his line of vision, noting in this
erratic shuttling of reflected sunlight the roll and pitch of cabin
walls, listening to the low boom of waves followed by the swash
alongside that told him the Karluk was bucking heavy seas, a
slow rage mastered him, centered against the doctor with the sardonic
smile and Captain Simms, who Rainey felt sure had tacitly approved of
the doctor's actions.
He remembered Lund's exclamation of, Here, what's this?the
question of a blind man who could not grasp what was happeningand
They had deliberately kidnapped him, shanghaied him, because they
did not choose to trust him, because they thought he might print the
story of the island treasure beach in his paper, or babble of it and
start a rush to the new strike of which he had seen proof in the gold
dust streaming from the poke.
He had been willing to suppress the yarn, Rainey reflected bitterly,
his intentions had been fair and square in this situation forced upon
him, and they had not trusted him. They were taking no chances, he
thought, and suddenly wondered what position the girl would take in the
matter. He could not think of her approving it. Yet she would naturally
side with her father, as she had done against Lund's accusations. And
Rainey suspected that there was something back of Lund's charge of
desertion. The girl's face, her graceful figure, the tones of her
voice, clung in his still palsied recollection a long time before he
could dismiss it and get round to the main factor of his imprisonment
what were they going to do with him?
There was a fortune in sight. For gold, men forget the obligations
of life and law in civilization; they revert to savage type, and their
minds and actions are swayed by the primitive urge of lust. Treachery,
selfishness, cruelty, crime breed from the shining particles even
before they are in actual sight and touch.
Rainey knew that. He had read many true yarns that had come down
from the frozen North, in from the deserts and the mountains, tales of
the mining records of the West.
He mistrusted the doctor. The man had drugged him. He was a man
whose profession, where the mind was warped, belittled life. Captain
Simms had been charged with leaving a blind man on a broken floe. Lund
was the type whose passions left him ruthless. The crewthey would be
bound by shares in the enterprise, a rough lot, daring much and caring
little for anything beyond their own narrow horizons. The girl was the
only redeeming feature of the situation.
Was it because of herit might be because of her special
pleadingthat they had not gone further? Or were they still fighting
through the heads, waiting until they got well out to sea before they
disposed of him, so there would be no chance of his telltale body
washing up along the coast for recognition and search for clues? He
wondered whether any one had seen him go aboard the Karluk with
Lundany one who would remember it and mention the circumstance when
he was found to be missing.
That might take a day or two. At the office they would wonder why he
didn't show up to cover his detail, because he had been steady in his
work. But they would not suspect foul play at first. He had no
immediate family. His landlady lodged other newspapermen, and was used
to their vagaries. And all this time the Karluk would be
thrashing north, well out to sea, unsighted, perhaps, for all her trip,
along that coast of fogs.
Rainey had disappeared, dropped out of sight. He would be a
front-page wonder for a day, then drop to paragraphs for a day or so
more, and that would be the end of it.
But they had made him comfortable. He was not in a smelly
forecastle, but in a bunk in a cabin that must open off the main room
of the schooner. Why had they treated him with such consideration? He
dozed off, for all his wretchedness, exhausted by his efforts to
untangle the snarl. When he awoke again his mouth was glued together
The schooner was still fighting the seathe wind, too, Rainey
fanciedsailing close-hauled, going north against the trade. He
fumbled for his watch. It had run down. His head ached intolerably.
Each hair seemed set in a nerve center of pain. But he was better.
Back of his thirst lay hunger now, and the apathy that had held him
to idle thinking had given way to an energy that urged him to action
As he sat up in his bunk, fully clothed as he had come aboard, the
door of his cabin opened and the doctor appeared, nodded coolly as he
saw Rainey moving, disappeared for an instant, and brought in a draft
of some sort in a long glass.
Take this, said Carlsen. Pull you together. Then we'll get some
food into you.
The calm insolence of the doctor's manner, ignoring all that had
happened, seemed to send all the blood in Rainey's body fuming to his
brain. He took the glass and hurled its contents at Carlsen's face. The
doctor dodged, and the stuff splashed against the cabin wall, only a
few drops reaching Carlsen's coat, which he wiped off with his
Don't be a damned fool, he said to Rainey, his voice irritatingly
even. Are you afraid it's drugged? I would not be so clumsy. I could
have given you a hypodermic while you slept, enough to keep you
unconscious for as many hours as I chooseor forever.
I'll mix you another doseone moretake it or leave it. Take it,
and you'll soon feel yourself again after Tamada has fed you. Then
we'll thrash out the situation. Leave it, and I wash my hands of you.
You can go for'ard and bunk with the men and do the dirty work.
He spoke with the calm assumption of one controlling the schooner,
Rainey noted, rather as skipper than surgeon. But Rainey felt that he
had made a fool of himself, and he took the second draft, which almost
instantly relieved him, cleansing his mouth and throat and, as his
headache died down, clearing his brain.
Why did you drug me? he demanded. Pretty high-handed. I can make
you pay for this.
Yes? How? When? We're well off Cape Mendocino, heading nor'west or
thereabouts. Nothing between us and Unalaska but fog and deep water.
Before we get back you'll see the payment in a different light. We're
not pirates. This was plain business. A million or more in sight.
Lund nearly spilled things as it was, raving the way he did. It's a
wonder some one didn't overhear him with sense enough to tumble.
We didn't take any chances. Rounded up the crew, and got out. The
man who's made a gold discovery thinks everybody else is watching him.
It's a genuine risk. If they followed us, they'd crowd us off the
beach. I don't suppose any one has followed us. If they have, we've
lost them in this fog.
But we didn't take any risks after Lund's blowing off. He might
have done it ashore before you brought him aboard. I don't think so.
But he might. And so might you, later.
I'd have given you my word.
And meant to keep it. But you'd have been an uncertain factor, a
weak link. You might have given it away in your sleep. You heard enough
to figure the general locality of the island when Lund blurted it out.
You knew too much. Suppose the Karluk fought up to Kotzebue Bay
and found a dozen power-vessels hanging about, waiting for us to lead
them to the beach? And we'd have worried all the way up, with you
loose. You're a newspaperman. The suppression of this yarn would have
obsessed you, lain on your reportorial conscience.
I don't suppose your salary is much over thirty a week, is it? Now,
then, here you are in for a touch of real adventure, better than
gleaning dock gossip, to a red-blooded man. If we winand you saw the
goldyou win. We expect to give you a share. We haven't taken
it up yet, but it'll be enough. More than you'd earn in ten years,
likely, more than you'd be apt to save in a lifetime. We kidnapped you
for your own good. You're a prisoner de luxe, with the run of
I can work my passage, said Rainey. He could see the force of the
doctor's argument, though he didn't like the man. He didn't trust the
doctor, though he thought he'd play fair about the gold. But it was
funny, his assuming control.
Yachted a bit? asked Carlsen.
Can you navigate?
Rainey thought he caught a hint of emphasis to this question.
I can learn, he said. Got a general idea of it.
Ah! The doctor appeared to dismiss the subject with some relief.
Well, he went on, are you open to reasonand food? I'm sorry about
your friends and folks ashore, but you're not the first prodigal who
has come back with the fatted calf instead of hungry for it.
That part of it is all right, said Rainey. There was no help for
the situation, save to make the most of it and the best. But I'd like
to ask you a question.
Go ahead. Have a cigarette?
Rainey would rather have taken it from any one else, but the whiff
of burning tobacco, as Carlsen lit up, gave him an irresistible craving
for a smoke. Besides, it wouldn't do for the doctor to know he
mistrusted him. If he was to be a part of the ship's life, there was
small sense in acting pettishly. He took the cigarette, accepted the
light, and inhaled gratefully.
What's the question? asked Carlsen.
You weren't on the last trip. You weren't in on the original deal.
But I find you doing all the talking, making me offers. You drugged me
on your own impulse. Where's the skipper? How does he stand in this
matter? Why didn't he come to see me? What is your rating aboard?
You're asking a good deal for an outsider, it seems to me, Rainey.
I came to you partly as your doctor. But I speak for the captain and
the crew. Don't worry about that.
And Lund? Rainey could not resist the shot. He had gathered that
the doctor resented Lund.
Carlsen's eyes narrowed.
Lund will be taken care of, he said, and, for the life of him,
Rainey could not judge the statement for threat or friendly promise.
As for my status, I expect to be Captain Simms' son-in-law as soon as
the trip is over.
All right, said Rainey. Carlsen's announcement surprised him.
Somehow he could not place the girl as the doctor's fiancée. I suppose
the captain may mention this matter, he queried, to cement it?
He may, replied Carlsen enigmatically. Feel like getting up?
Rainey rose and bathed face and hands. Carlsen left the cabin. The
main room was empty when Rainey entered, but there was a place set at
the table. Through the skylight he noted, as he glanced at the telltale
compass in the ceiling, that the sun was low toward the west.
The main cabin was well appointed in hardwood, with red cushions on
the transoms and a creeping plant or so hanging here and there. A
canary chirped up and broke into rolling song. It was all homy,
innocuous. Yet he had been drugged at the same table not so long
before. And now he was pledged a share of ungathered gold. It was a far
cry back to his desk in the Times office.
A Japanese entered, sturdy, of white-clad figure, deft, polite,
incurious. He had brought in some ham and eggs, strong coffee, sliced
canned peaches, bread and butter. He served as Rainey ate heartily,
feeling his old self coming back with the food, especially with the
Thanks, Tamada, he said as he pushed aside his plate at last.
Everything arright, sir? purred the Japanese.
Rainey nodded. The sir was reassuring. He was accepted as a
somebody aboard the Karluk. Tamada cleared away swiftly, and
Rainey felt for his own cigarettes. He hesitated a little to smoke in
the cabin, thinking of the girl, wondering whether she was on deck,
where he intended to go. Some one was snoring in a stateroom off the
cabin, and he fancied by its volume it was Lund.
It was a divided ship's company, after all. For he knew that Lund,
handicapped with his blindness, would live perpetually suspicious of
Simms. And the doctor was against Lund. Rainey's own position was a
He started for the companionway, and a slight sound made him turn,
to face the girl. She looked at him casually as Rainey, to his
Good afternoon, said Rainey. Are you going on deck?
It was not a clever opening, but she seemed to rob him of wit, to an
extent. He had yet to know how she stood concerning his presence
aboard. Did she countenance the forcible kidnapping of him as a
possible tattler? Or?
My father tells me you have decided to go with us, she said,
pleasantly enough, but none too cordially, Rainey thought.
Doctor Carlsen helped me to my decision.
She did not seem to regard this as a thrust, but stood lightly
swaying to the pitch of the vessel, regarding him with grave eyes of
You have not been well, she said. I hope you are better. Have you
Rainey began to think that she was ignorant of the facts. And he
made up his mind to ignore them. There was nothing to be gained by
telling her things against her fathermuch less against her fiancée,
Thank you, I have, he said. I was going to look up Mr. Lund.
The sentence covered a sudden change of mind. He no longer wanted to
go on deck with the girl. They were not to be intimates. She was to
marry Carlsen. He was an outsider. Carlsen had told him that. So she
seemed to regard him, impersonally, without interest. It piqued him.
Mr. Lund is in the first mate's cabin, said the girl, indicating a
door. Mr. Bergstrom, who was mate, died at sea last voyage. Doctor
Carlsen acts as navigator with my father, but he has another room.
She passed him and went on deck. Carlsen was acting first mate as
well as surgeon. That meant he had seamanship. Also that they had taken
in no replacements, no other men to swell the little corporation of
fortune-hunters who knew the secret, or a part of it. It was unusual,
but Rainey shrugged his shoulders and rapped on the door of the cabin.
It took loud knocking to waken Lund. At last he roared a Come in.
Rainey found him seated on the edge of his bunk, dressed in his
underclothes, his glasses in place. Rainey wondered whether he slept in
them. Lund's uncanny intuition seemed to read the thought. He tapped
Hate to take them off, he said. Light hurts my eyes, though the
optic nerve is dead. Seems to strike through. How're ye makin' out?
Rainey gave Lund the full benefit of his blindness. The giant could
not have known what was in the doctor's mind, but he must have learned
something. Lund was not the type to be satisfied with half answers, and
undoubtedly felt that he held a proprietary interest in the Karluk
by virtue of his being the original owner of the secret. Rainey
wondered if he had sensed the doctor's attitude in that direction, an
attitude expressed largely by the expression of Carlsen's face, always
wearing the faint shadow of a sneer.
You know they drugged me, Rainey ended his recital of the
interview he had had with the doctor.
Knockout drops? I guessed it. That doctor's slick. Well, you've not
much fault to find, have ye? Carlsen talked sense. Here you are on the
road to a fortune. I'll see yore share's a fair one. There's plenty. It
ain't a bad billet you've fallen into, my lad. But I'll look out for
ye. I'm sort of responsible for yore trip, ye see, matey. And I'll need
He lowered his voice mysteriously.
Yo're a writer, Mister Rainey. You've got brains. You can see which
way a thing's heading. You've heard enough. I'm blind. I've bin done
dirt once aboard the Karluk, and I don't aim to stand for it
ag'in. And I had my eyes, then. No use livin' in a rumpus. Got to keep
watch. Got to keep yore eyes open.
And I ain't got eyes. You have. Use 'em for both of us. I ain't
asking ye to take sides, exactly. But I've got cause for bein'
suspicious. I don't call the skipper Honest Simms no more. And I
ain't stuck on that doctor. He's too bossy. He's got the skipper under
his thumb. And there's somethin' funny about the skipper. Notice
Why, I don't know him, said Rainey. He doesn't look extra well,
what I've seen of him. Only the once.
He's logey, said Lund confidentially. He ain't the same man.
Mebbe it's his conscience. But that doctor's runnin' him.
He's going to marry the captain's daughter, said Rainey.
Simms' daughter? Carlsen goin' to marry her? Ump! That may account
for the milk in the cocoanut. She's a stranger to me. Lived ashore with
her uncle and aunt, they tell me. Carlsen was the family doctor. Now
she's off with her father.
His face became crafty, and he reached out for Rainey's knee, found
it as readily as if he had sight, and tapped it for emphasis.
That makes all the more reason for us lookin' out for things,
matey, he went on, almost in a whisper. If they've played me once
they may do it ag'in. And they've got the odds, settin' aside my eyes.
But I can turn a trick or two. You an' me come aboard together. You
give me a hand. Stick to me, an' I'll see you git yore whack.
I'll have yore bunk changed. You'll come in with me. An' we'll put
one an' one together. We'll be mates. Treat 'em fair if they treat us
fair. But don't forget they fixed yore grog. I had nothin' to do with
that. I may be stranded, but, if the tide rises
He set the clutch of his powerful fingers deep into Rainey's leg
above the knee with a grip that left purple bruises there before the
day was over.
We two, matey, he said. Now you an' me'll have a tot of stuff
that ain't doped.
He moved about the little cabin with an astounding freedom and
sureness, chuckling as he handled bottle and glasses and measured out
the whisky and water.
W'en yo're blind, he said, ramming his pipe full of black tobacco,
they's other things comes to ye. I know the run of this ship,
blindfold, you might say. I c'ud go aloft in a pinch, or steer her.
But Rainey abstained after the first glass, though Lund went on
lowering the bottle without apparent effect.
So yo're a bit of a sailor? the giant asked presently. An' a
scholar. You can navigate, I make no doubt?
I hope to get a chance to learn on the trip, answered Rainey. I
know the general principles, but I've never tried to use a sextant. I'm
going to get the skipper to help me out. Or Carlsen.
Carlsen! What in hell does a doctor know about navigation?
Rainey told him what the girl had said, and the giant grunted.
I have my doubts whether they'll ever help ye, he said. Wish I
could. But it 'ud be hard without my eyes. An' I've got no sextant an'
no book o' tables. It's too bad.
His disappointment seemed keen, and Rainey could not fathom it. Why
had both Lund and Carlsen seemed to lay stress on this matter? Why was
the doctor relieved and Lund disappointed at his ignorance?
As they came out of the stateroom together, later, Lund reeking of
the liquor he had absorbed, though remaining perfectly sober, his hand
laid on Rainey's shoulder, perhaps for guidance but with a show of
familiarity, Rainey saw the girl looking at him with a glance in which
contempt showed unveiled. It was plain that his intimacy with Lund was
not going to advance him in her favor.
CHAPTER III. TARGET PRACTISE
The Karluk was an eighty-five-ton schooner, Gloster Fisherman
type, with a length of ninety and a beam of twenty-five feet. Her
enormous stretch of canvas, spread to the limit on all possible
occasions by Captain Simms, was offset by the pendulum of lead that
made up her keel, and she could slide through the seas at twelve knots
on her best point of sailingreachingthe wind abaft her beam.
After Rainey had demonstrated at the wheel that he had the mastery
of her and had shown that he possessed sea-legs, a fair amount of
seacraft and, what the sailors did not possess, initiative, Captain
Simms appointed him second mate.
We don't carry one as a rule, the skipper said. But it'll give
you a rating and the right to eat in the cabin. He had not brought up
the subject of Rainey's kidnapping, and Rainey let it go. There was no
use arguing about the inevitable. The rating and the cabin fare seemed
offered as an apology, and he was willing to accept it.
Carlsen acted as first mate, and Rainey had to acknowledge him
efficient. He fancied the man must have been a ship's surgeon, and so
picked up his seamanship. After a few days Carlsen, save for taking
noon observations with the skipper and working out the reckoning, left
his duties largely to Rainey, who was glad enough for the experience. A
sailor named Hansen was promoted to acting-quartermaster, and relieved
Rainey. Carlsen spent most of his time attendant on the girl or
chatting with the hunters, with whom he soon appeared on terms of
The hunters esteemed themselves above the sailors, as they were, in
intelligence and earning capacity. The forecastlemen acted, on
occasion, as boat-steerers and rowers for the hunters, each of whom had
his own boat from which to shoot the cruising seals.
There were six hunters and twelve sailors, outside of a general
roustabout and butt named Sandy, who cleaned up the forecastle and
the hunters' quarters, where they messed apart, and helped Tamada, the
cook, in the galley with his pots and dishes. But now there was no work
in prospect for the hunters, and they lounged on deck or in the
'midship quarters, spinning yarns or playing poker. They were after
gold this trip, not seals.
'Cordin' to the agreement, Lund said to Rainey, the gold's to be
split into a hundred shares. One for each sailorman, an' they chip in
for the boy. Two for the hunters, two for the cook, four for Bergstrom,
the first mate, who died at sea. Twenty for 'ship's share.' Fifty
shares to be split between Simms an' me.
What's the 'ship's share'? asked Rainey.
Represents capital investment. Matter of fact, it belongs to the
gal, said Lund. Simms gave her the Karluk. It's in her name
with the insurance.
Then he and his daughter get forty-five shares, and you only
You got it right, grinned Lund. Simms is no philanthropist. It
wa'n't so easy for me to git enny one to go in with me, son. I ain't
the first man to come trailin' in with news of a strike. An' I had
nothin' to show for it. Not even a color of gold. Nothin' but the word
of a dead Aleut, my own jedgment, an' my own sight of an island I never
landed on. Matter of fact, Honest Simms was the only one who didn't
laff at me outright. It was on'y his bad luck made him try a chance at
gold 'stead of keepin' after pelts.
An' we had a hard an' tight agreement drawn up on paper, signed,
witnessed an' recorded. 'Course it holds him as well as it holds me,
but he gits the long end of that stick. W'en I read, or got it
read to me, in the Seattle News-Courier, that the Karluk
was listed as 'Arrived' in San Francisco, it was all I could do to git
carfare an' grub money. If I hadn't bin blind, an' some of 'em half-way
human to'ards a man with his lights out, I'd never have raised it. I'd
have got here someways, matey, if I'd had to walk, but I'd have got
here a bit late. Then I'd have had to wait till Simms got back
ag'inan' mebbe starved to death.
But I'm here an' I've got some say-so. One thing, you're goin' to
git Bergstrom's share. I don't give a damn where the doctor comes in.
If he marries the gal he'll git her twenty shares, ennyway. Though he
ain't married her yet. And I ain't through with Simms yet, he added,
with an emphasis that was a trifle grim, Rainey thought.
The crew, hunters an' sailors, don't seem over glad to see me
back, Lund went on. Mebbe they figgered their shares 'ud be bigger.
Mebbe the doc's queered me. He's pussy-footin' about with 'em a good
deal. But I'll talk with you about that later. It's me an' you ag'in'
the rest of 'em, seems to me, Rainey. The doc's aimin' to be the Big
Boss aboard this schooner. He's got the skipper buffaloed. But not me,
not by a jugful.
He slammed his big fist against the side of the bunk so viciously
that it seemed to jar the cabin. The blow was typical of the man,
Rainey decided. He felt for Lund not exactly a liking, but an
attraction, a certain compelled admiration. The giant was elemental,
with a driving force inside him that was dynamic, magnetic. What a
magnificent pirate he would have made, thought Rainey, looking at his
magnificent proportions and considering the crude philosophies that
cropped out in his talk.
I'm in life for the loot of it, Rainey, Lund declared. Food an'
drink to tickle my tongue an' fill my belly, the woman I happen to
want, an' bein' able to buy ennything I set my fancy on. The answer to
that is Gold. With it you can buy most enny thing. Not all wimmen, I'll
grant you that. Not the kind of woman I'd want for a steady mate.
Thet's one thing I've found out can't be bought, my son, the honor of a
good woman. An' thet's the sort of woman I'm lookin' for.
I reckon yo're raisin' yore eyebrows at that? he challenged
Rainey. But the other kind, that'll sell 'emselves, 'll sell you jest
as quickan' quicker. I'd wade through hell-fire hip-deep to git the
right kindan' to hold her. An' I'll buck all hell to git what's
comin' to me in the way of luck, or go down all standin' tryin'. This
is my gold, an' I'm goin' to handle it. If enny one tries to swizzle me
out of it I'm goin' to swizzle back, an' you can lay to that. Not
forgettin' them that stands by me.
Between Lund and Simms there existed a sort of armed truce. No open
reference was made to the desertion of Lund on the floe. But Rainey
knew that it rankled in Lund's mind. The five, Peggy Simms, her father,
Carlsen, Lund and Rainey, ostensibly messed together, but Rainey's
duties generally kept him on deck until Carlsen had sufficiently
completed his own meal to relieve him. By that time the girl and the
captain had left the table.
Lund invariably waited for Rainey. Tamada kept the food hot for
them. And served them, Lund making good play with spoon or fork and a
piece of bread, the Japanese cutting up his viands conveniently
To Rainey, Tamada seemed the hardest worked man aboard ship. He had
three messes to cook and he was busy from morning until night,
efficient, tireless and even-tempered. The crew, though they
acknowledged his skill, were Californians, either by birth or adoption,
and the racial prejudice against the Japanese was apparent.
A week of good wind was followed by dirty weather. The Karluk
proved a good fighter, though her headway was materially lessened by
contrary wind and sea, and the persistence and increasing opposition of
the storm seemed to have a corresponding effect upon Captain Simms.
He grew daily more irritable and morose, even to his daughter. Only
the doctor appeared able to get along with him on easy terms, and
Rainey noticed that, to Carlsen, the skipper seemed conciliatory even
Peggy Simms watched her father with worried eyes. The curious,
tarnished look of his tanned skin grew until the flesh seemed
continually dry and of an earthy color; his lips peeled, and more than
once he shook as if with a chill.
On the eleventh day out, Rainey went below in the middle of the
afternoon for his sea-boots. The gale had suddenly strengthened and,
under reefs, the Karluk heeled far over until the hissing seas
flooded the scuppers and creamed even with the lee rail. In the main
cabin he found Simms seated in a chair with his daughter leaning over
him, speaking to her in a harsh, complaining voice.
No, you can't do a thing for me, he was saying. It's this
sciatica. I've got to get Carlsen.
As Rainey passed through to his own little stateroom neither of them
noticed him, but he saw that the captain was shivering, his hands
picking almost convulsively at the table-cloth.
Where's Carlsen, curse him! Rainey heard through his cabin
partition. Tell him I can't stand this any longer. He's got to help
me. Got to. Got to.
As Rainey appeared, walking heavily in his boots, the girl looked
up. Her father was slumped in his chair, his face buried on his folded
arms. The girl glanced at him doubtfully, apparently uncertain whether
to go herself to find Carlsen or stay with her father.
Anything I can do, Miss Simms? Your father seems quite ill.
The hesitation of the girl even to speak to him was very plain to
Rainey. Suddenly she threw up her chin.
Kindly find Doctor Carlsen, she ordered, rather than requested.
Ask him to come as soon as he can. I She turned uncertainly to her
Can I help you to get him into the cabin? asked Rainey.
She thanked him with lips, not eyes, and he assisted her to shift
the almost helpless man into his room and bunk. He was like a stuffed
sack between them, save that his body twitched. While Rainey took most
of the weight, he marveled at the strength of the slender girl and the
way in which she applied it. Simms seemed to have fainted, to be on the
verge of unconsciousness or even utter collapse. Rainey felt his wrist,
and the pulse was almost imperceptible.
I'll get the doctor immediately, he said.
She nodded at him, chafing her father's hands, her own face pale,
and a look of anxious fear in her eyes.
Mighty funny sort of sciatica, Rainey told himself as he hurried
forward. He knew where Carlsen was, in the hunters' cozy quarters,
playing poker. From the chips in front of him he had been winning
The skipper's ill, said Rainey. No pulse. Almost unconscious.
Carlsen raised his eyebrows.
Didn't know you were a physician, he said. Just one of his
spells. I'll finish this hand. Too good to lay down. The skipper can
wait for once.
The hunters grinned as Carlsen took his time to draw his cards, make
his bets and eventually win the pot on three queens.
I wonder what your real game is? Rainey asked himself as he
affected to watch the play. According to his own announcement Carlsen
was deliberately neglecting the father of the girl he was to marry and
at the same time slighting the captain to his own men. Carlsen drew in
his chips and leisurely made a note of the amount.
Quite a while yet to settling-day, he said to the players. Luck
may swing all round the compass before then, boys. All right, Rainey,
you needn't wait.
Rainey ignored the omitted Mister. He held the respect of the
sailors, since he had shown his ability, but he knew that the hunters
regarded him with an amused tolerance that lacked disrespect by a small
margin. To them he was only the amateur sailor. Rainey fancied that the
doctor had contributed to this attitude, and it did not lessen his
score against Carlsen.
The captain did not make his appearance for that day, the next, or
the next. The men began to roll eyes at one another when they asked
after his health. Carlsen kept his own counsel, and Peggy Simms spent
most of her time in the main cabin with her eyes always roving to her
father's door. Rainey noticed that Tamada brought no food for the sick
man. Carlsen was the apparent controller of the schooner. Lund was
quick to sense this.
We got to block that Carlsen's game, he said to Rainey. There's a
nigger in the woodpile somewhere an' you an' me got to uncover him,
matey, afore we reach Bering Strait, or you an' me'll finish this trip
squattin' on the rocks of one of the Four Mountain Islands makin' faces
at the gulls.
I wish you c'ud git under the skin of that Jap. No use tryin' to
git in with the crew or the hunters. They're ag'in' both of
usleastwise the hunters are. The hands don't count. They're jest
Lund spoke with an absolute contempt of the sailors that was
characteristic of the man.
You think they'd put a blind man ashore that way? asked Rainey.
Carlsen would. In a minnit. He'd argy that you c'ud look out for
me, seein' as we are chums. As for you, you've bin useful, but you
can't navigate, an' you've helped train Hansen to yore work. You were
in the way at the start, an' he'd jest as soon git rid of you that road
as enny other. He don't intend you to have Bergstrom's share, by a
Lund grinned as he spoke, and Rainey felt a little chill raise
gooseflesh all over his body. It was not exactly fear, but
They don't look on us two as mascots, went on Lund. But to
git back to that Jap. Forewarned is forearmed. He ain't over an' above
liked, but they've got used to him goin' back an' forth with their
grub, an' they sort of despise him for a yellow-skinned coolie.
Now Tamada ain't no coolie. I know Japs. He's a cut above his job.
Cooks well enough for a swell billet ashore if he wanted it. An' there
ain't much goin' on that Tamada ain't wise to. See if you can't get
next to him. Trubble is he's too damn' neutral. He knows he's safe,
becoz he's cook an' a damn' good one. But he's wise to what Carlsen's
Carlsen don't care for man, woman, God, or the devil. Neither do
I, he concluded. An' I've got a card or two up my sleeve. But I'd
sure like to git a peep at what the doc's holdin'.
The storm blew out, and there came a spell of pleasant weather, with
the Karluk gliding along, logging a fair rate where a less
well-designed vessel would barely have found steerage way, riding on an
almost even keel. Simms was still confined to his cabin, though now his
daughter took him in an occasional tray.
Except for observations and the details of navigation, Carlsen left
the schooner to Rainey. They were well off the coast, out of the fogs,
apparently alone upon the lonely ocean that ran sparkling to the far
horizon. It was warm, there was little to do, the sailors, as well as
the hunters, spent most of their time lounging on the deck.
Save at meal-times, Carlsen, for one who had announced himself as an
accepted lover, neglected the girl, who had devoted herself to her
father. Yet she seldom went into her cabin, never remained there long,
and time must have hung heavily on her hands. A girl of her spirit must
have resented such treatment, Rainey imagined, but reminded himself it
was none of his business.
Lund hung over the rail, smoking, or paced the deck, always close to
Rainey. The manner in which he went about the ship was almost uncanny.
Except that his arms were generally ahead of him when he moved, his
hands, with their woolly covering of red hair, lightly touching boom or
rope or rail, he showed no hesitation, made no mistakes.
He no longer shuffled, as he had on shore, but moved with a
pantherlike dexterity, here and there at will. When the breeze was
steady he would even take the wheel and steer perfectly by the feel of
the wind on his cheek, the slap of it in the canvas, or the creak of
the rigging to tell him if he was holding to the course. And he took an
almost childish delight in proclaiming his prowess as helmsman.
The booms were stayed out against swinging in flaws and the roll of
the sea, and Lund strode back and forth behind Rainey, who had the
wheel. The hunters were grouped about Carlsen, who, seated on the
skylight, was telling them something at which they guffawed at frequent
Spinnin' them some of his smutty yarns, growled Lund, halting in
his promenade. Bad for discipline, an' bad for us. He's the sort of
fine-feathered bird that wouldn't give those chaps a first look ashore.
Gittin' in solid with 'em that way is a bad steer. You can't handle a
man you make a pal of, w'en he ain't yore rank.
Carlsen's slack, but he's a good sailorman, said Rainey casually.
Damn' sight better sailorman than he is doctor, retorted Lund.
Hear him the other mornin' w'en I asked him if he c'ud give me
somethin' to help my eyes hurtin'? 'I'm no eye specialist,' sez he.
'Try some boracic acid, my man.' I wouldn't put ennything in my eyes
he'd give me, you can lay to that. He'd give me vitriol, if he
thought I'd use it. I wouldn't let him treat a sick cat o' mine. He's
the kind o' doctor that uses his title to give him privileges with the
wimmin. I know his sort.
Rainey wondered why Lund had asked Carlsen for a lotion if he did
not mean to use it, but he did not provoke further argument. Lund was
He don't do the skipper enny good, thet's certain.
Captain Simms seems to believe in him, answered Rainey. He
wondered how much of Carlsen's increasing dominance over the skipper
Lund had noticed.
Simms is Carlsen's dog! exploded Lund. The doc's got somethin' on
him, mark me. Carlsen's a bad egg an', w'en he hatches, you'll see a
buzzard. An' you wait till he's needed as a doctor on somethin' that
takes more'n a few kind words or a lick out a bottle.
There was a stir among the hunters. Lund turned his spectacled eyes
in their direction.
What are they up to now? he queried. Goin' to play poker? Wish I
had my eyes. I'd show 'em how to read the pips.
Hansen came aft, offering to take the wheel.
They bane goin' to shute at targets, he said. Meester Carlsen he
put up prizes. For rifle an' shotgun. Thought you might like to watch
Rainey gave over the spokes and went to the starboard rail with
Lund, watching the preparations between fore and main masts for the
competition, and telling Lund what was happening. Carlsen gave out some
shotgun cartridges from cardboard boxes, twelve to each of the six
Hunters pay for their own shells, said Lund. But they buy 'em
from the ship. Mate's perkisite. They usually have some shells on hand
for the rifles, but the paper cases o' the shotgun cartridges suck up
the damp an' they keep better in the magazine in the cabin. What they
shootin' at? Bottles?
Sandy, the roustabout, had been requisitioned to toss up empty
bottles, and those who failed cursed him for a poor thrower. A hunter
named Deming made no misses, and secured first prize of ten dollars in
gold, with a man named Beale scoring two behind him, and getting half
that amount from Carlsen.
Then came the test with the rifles. The weapons were all of the same
caliber, well oiled, and in perfect condition. As Lund had said, each
of the hunters had a few shells in his possession, but they lacked the
total of six dozen by a considerable margin.
Carlsen went below for the necessary ammunition while the target was
completed and set in place. A keg had been rigged with a weight
underslung to keep it upright, and a tin can, painted white, set on a
short spar in one end of the keg. A light line was attached to a
bridle, and the mark lowered over the stern, where it rode, bobbing in
the tail of the schooner's wake, thirty fathoms from the taffrail where
the crowd gathered.
Carlsen, returning, ordered Hansen to steer fine. He gave each
competitor a limit of ten seconds for his aim, contributing an element
of chance that made the contest a sporting one. Without the counting,
each would have deliberately waited for the most favorable moment when
the schooner hung in the trough and the white can was backed by green
water. As it was, it made a far-from-easy mark, slithering, lurching,
dipping as the Karluk slid down a wave or met a fresh one, the
can often blurred against the blobs of foam.
More bullets hit the keg than the can, and Carlsen was often called
upon as umpire. But the tin gradually became ragged and blotched where
the steel-jacketed missiles tore through. Beale and Deming both had
five clean, undisputed hits, tying for first prize. Beale offered to
shoot it off with six more shells apiece, and Deming consented.
Can't be done, declared Carlsen. Not right now, anyway. I gave
out the last shell there was in the magazine. If there are any more the
skipper's got them stowed away, and I can't disturb him.
Derned funny, said Deming, a sealer shy on cartridges! Lucky we
ain't worryin' about thet sort of a cargo.
Probably plenty aboard somewhere, said Carlsen, but I don't know
where they are. Sorry to break up the shooting. You boys have got me
beaten on rifles and shotguns, he went on, producing from his hip
pocket a flat, effective-looking automatic pistol of heavy caliber.
How are you on small arms?
The hunters shook their heads dubiously.
Never use 'em, said Deming. Never could do much with that kind,
ennyhow. Give me a revolver, an' I might make out to hit a whale, if he
was close enough, but not with one o' them.
Not much difference, said, Carlsen. Any of you got revolvers?
No one spoke. It was against the unwritten laws of a vessel for
pistols to be owned forward of the main cabin. Beale finally answered
for the rest.
Nary a pistol, sir.
Then, said Carlsen, I'll give you an exhibition myself. Any
bottles left? Beale, will you toss them for me?
There were eight shots in the automatic, and Carlsen smashed seven
bottles in mid-air. He missed the last, but retrieved himself by
breaking it as it dipped in the wake. The hunters shouted their
Break all of 'em? Lund asked Rainey. Enny bottles left at all?
He walked toward the taffrail, addressing Carlsen.
Kin you shoot by sound as well as by sight, Doc? he
I fancy not, said Carlsen.
If I had my eyes I'd snapshoot ye for a hundred bucks, said Lund.
As it is, I might target one or two. Rainey, have some one run a line,
head-high, an' fix a bottle on it, will ye? I ain't got a gun o' my
own, Doc, he continued, will you lend me yours? Carlsen filled his
clip and Lund turned toward Rainey, who was rigging the target.
I'll want you to tap it with a stick, he said. Signal-flag
staff'll do fine.
Rainey got the slender bamboo and stood by. Lund felt for the cord,
passed his fingers over the suspended bottle and stepped off five
paces, hefting the automatic to judge its balance.
Ruther have my own gun, he muttered. All right, tetch her up,
Rainey tapped the bottle on the neck and it gave out a little
tinkle, lost immediately in the crash of splintering glass as the
bottle, hit fairly in the torn label, broke in half.
How much left? asked Lund. Half? Tetch it up.
Again he fired and again the bullet found the mark, leaving only the
neck of the bottle still hanging. Lund grinned.
Thet's all, he said. Jest wanted to show ye what a blind man can
do, if he's put to it.
There was little applause. Carlsen took his gun in silence and moved
forward with the hunters and the onlookers, disappearing below. Rainey
took the wheel over from Hansen and ordered him forward again.
Given 'em something to talk about, chuckled Lund. Carlsen wanted
to show off his fancy shootin'. Wal, I've shown 'em I ain't entirely
wrecked if I ain't carryin' lights. An' I slipped more'n one over on
Carlsen at that.
Rainey did not catch his entire meaning and said nothing.
Did you get wise to the play about the shells? asked Lund. A
smart trick, though Deming almost tumbled. Carlsen got those dumb fools
of hunters to fire away every shell they happened to have for'ard. If
the magazine's empty, I'll bet Carlsen knows where they's plenty more
shells, if we ever needed 'em bad. But now those rifles an' shotguns
ain't no more use than so many clubsnot to the hunters. An'
he's found out they ain't got enny pistols. He's got one, an'
shows 'em how straight he shoots, jest in case there should be enny
trubble between 'em. Plays both ends to the middle, does Carlsen.
Slick! But he ain't won the pot. They's a joker in this game. Mebbe he
holds it, mebbe not.
He nodded mysteriously, well pleased with himself.
Don't suppose you brought a gun along with ye? he asked
Rainey. Might come in handy.
I wasn't expecting to stay, Rainey replied dryly, or I might
Lund laughed heartily, slapping his leg.
That's a good un, he declared. It would have bin a good idea,
though. It sure pays to go heeled when you travel with strangers.
CHAPTER IV. THE BOWHEAD
Captain Simms appeared again in the cabin and on deck, but he was
not the same man. His illness seemed to have robbed him permanently of
what was left him of the spring of manhood. It was as if his juices had
been sucked from his veins and arteries and tissues, leaving him
flabby, irresolute, compared to his former self. Even as Lund shadowed
Rainey, so Simms shadowed Carlsen.
The fine weather vanished, snuffed out in an hour and, day after
day, the Karluk flung herself at mocking seas that pounded her
bows with blows that sounded like the noise of a giant's drum. The sun
was never seen. Through daylight hours the schooner wrestled with the
elements in a ghastly, purplish twilight, lifting under double reefs
over great waves that raised spuming crests to overwhelm her, and were
ridden down, hissing and roaring, burying one rail and covering the
deck to the hatches with yeasty turmoil.
The Karluk charged the stubborn fury of the gale, rolling
from side to side, lancing the seas, gaining a little headway, losing
leeway, fighting, fighting, while every foot of timber, every fathom of
rope, groaned and creaked perpetually, but endured.
To Rainey, this persistent struggleas he himself controlled the
schooner, legs far astride, his oilskins dripping, his feet awash to
the ankles, spume drenching and whipping him, the wind a lashbrought
exultation and a sense of mastery and confidence such as he had never
before held suggestion of. To guide the ship, constantly to baffle the
sea and wind, the turbulence, buffeting bows and run and counter,
smashing at the rudder, leaping always like a pack of yapping
houndsthis was a thing that left the days of his water-front detail
And then he had thought himself in the whirl of things! Even as
Simms seemed to be declining, so Rainey felt that he was coming into
the fulness of strength and health.
Lund was ever with him. Sometimes the girl would come up on deck in
her own waterproofs and stand against the rail to watch the storm,
silent as far as the pair were concerned. And presently Carlsen would
come from below or forward and stand to talk with her until she was
tired of the deck.
They did not seem much like lovers, Rainey fancied. They lacked the
little intimacies that he, though he made himself somewhat of an
automaton at the wheel, could not have failed to see. If the girl
slipped, Carlsen's hand would catch and steady her by the arm; never go
about her waist. And there was no especial look of welcome in her face
when the doctor came to her.
Carlsen seldom took over the wheel. Rainey did more than his share
from sheer love of feeling the control. But one day, at a word from the
girl, Carlsen and she came up to Rainey as he handled the spokes.
I'll take the wheel a while, Rainey, said the doctor.
Rainey gave it up and went amidships. Out of the tail of his eye he
could see that the girl was pleading to handle the ship, and that
Carlsen was going to let her do so.
Rainey shrugged his shoulders. It was Carlsen's risk. It was no
child's play in that weather to steer properly. The Karluk, with
her narrow beam, was lithe and active as a great cat in those waves. It
took not only strength, but watchfulness and experience to hold the
course in the welter of cross-seas.
Lund, whose recognition of voices was perfect, moved amidships as
soon as Carlsen and Peggy Simms came aft. There was no attempt at
disguising the fact that the schooner's afterward was a divided company
and, save for the fact of his blindness tempering the action, the
manner of Lund's showing them his back and deliberately walking off
would have been a deliberate insult.
Not to the girl, Rainey thought. At first he had considered Lund's
character as comparatively simpleand brutalbut he had qualified
this, without seeming consciousness, and he felt that Lund would never
deliberately insult a womanany sort of woman. He was beginning to
feel something more than an admiration for Lund's strength; a liking
for the man himself had, almost against his will, begun to assert
They stood together by the weather-rail. It was still Rainey's
deck-watch, and at any moment Carlsen might relinquish the wheel back
to him as soon as the girl got tired. Suddenly shouts sounded from
forward, a medley of them, indistinct against the quartering wind.
Sandy, the roustabout, came dashing aft along the sloping deck,
catching clumsily at rail and rope to steady himself, flushed with
excitement, almost hysterical with his news.
A bowhead, sir! he cried when he saw Rainey. And killers after
him! Blowin' dead ahead!
Beyond the bows Rainey could see nothing of the whale, that must
have sounded in fear of the killers, but he saw half a dozen
scythe-like, black fins cutting the water in streaks of foam, all
abreast, their high dorsals waving, wolves of the sea, hunting for the
gray bowhead whale, to force its mouth open and feast on the delicacy
of its living tongue. So Lund told him in swift sentences while they
waited for the whale to broach.
Ha'f the time the bowheads won't even try an' git away, said Lund.
Lie atop, belly up, plain jellied with fear while the killers help
'emselves. Ha'f the bowheads you git have got chunks bitten out of
their tongues. If they're nigh shore when the killers show up the
whales'll slide way out over the rocks an' strand 'emselves.
Rainey glanced aft. Sandy had carried his warning to Carlsen and the
girl, and now was craning over the lee rail, knee-deep in the wash,
trying to see something of the combat. Peggy Simms' lithe figure was
leaning to one side as she, too, gazed ahead, though she still paid
attention to her steering and held the schooner well up, her face
bright with excitement, wet with flying brine, wisps of yellow hair
streaming free in the wind from beneath the close grip of her woolen
tam-o'-shanter bonnet of scarlet. Carlsen was pointing out the racing
fins of the killers.
Bl-o-ows! started the deep voice of a lookout, from where sailors
and hunters had grouped in the bows to witness this gladiatorial combat
between sea monsters, staged fittingly in a sea that was running wild.
Rainey strained his gaze to catch the steamy spiracle and the outthrust
of the great head.
Bl-o-ows! The deep voice almost leaped an octave in a
sudden shrill of apprehension. Other voices mingled with his in a
clamor of dismay.
Look out! Oh, look out! Dead ahead!
The enormous bulk of the whale had appeared, not to spout, but to
lie belly up, rocking on the surface with fins outspread, paralyzed
with terror, directly in the course of the Karluk, while toward
it, intent only on their blood lust, leaped the killers, thrusting at
its head as the schooner surged down. In that tremendous sea the impact
would be certain to mean the staving in of something forward, perhaps
the springing of a butt.
Hard a lee! yelled Rainey. Up with her! Up!
It was desire to vent his own feelings, rather than necessity for
the command, that made Rainey yell the order, for he could see the girl
striving with the spokes, Carlsen lending his strength to hers. The
sheets were well flattened, the wind almost abeam, and there was no
need to change the set of fore and main.
Forward, the men jumped to handle the headsails. The Karluk
started to spin about on its keel, instinct to the changing plane of
the rudder. But the waves were running tremendously high, and the wind
blowing with great force, the water rolling in great mountains of
sickly greenish gray, topped with foam that blew in a level scud.
As the schooner hung in a deep trough, the wind struck at her, bows
on. With the gale suddenly spilled out of them, the topsails lashed and
shivered, and the fore broke loose with the sharp report of a gunshot
and disappeared aft in the smother.
Rainey saw one huge billow rising, curving, high as the gaff of the
main, it seemed to him, as he grasped at the coil of the main halyards.
Down came the tons of water, booming on the deck that bent under the
blow, spilling in a great cataract that swashed across the deck.
His feet were swept from under him, for a moment he seemed to swing
horizontal in the stream, clutching at the halyards. The sea struck the
opposite rail with a roar that threatened to tear it away, piling up
and then seething overboard.
CHAPTER V. RAINEY SCORES
With it went a figure. Rainey caught sight of a ghastly face, a
mouth that shouted vainly for help in the pandemonium, and was
instantly stoppered with strangling brine, pop-eyes appealing in awful
fright as Sandy was washed away in the cascade. The halyards were held
on the pin with a turn and twist that Rainey swiftly loosened, lifting
the coil free, making a fast loop, and thrusting head and arms through
it as he flung himself after the roustabout.
Even as he dived he heard the bellow of Lund, knowing instinctively
the peril of the schooner by its actions, though ignorant of the
Back that jib! Back it, blast yore eyes! Ba-ck
Then Rainey was clubbing his way through the race of water to where
he glimpsed an upflung arm. Sandy was in oilskins and sea-boots, he had
hardly a chance to save himself, however expert. And it flashed over
Rainey's mind that, like many sailors, the lad had boasted that he
could not swim. His boots would pull him under as soon as the force of
the waves, that were tossing him from crest to crest, should be
suspended. Rainey himself was borne on their thrust, clogged by his own
equipment, linked to life only by the halyard coil.
A great bulk wallowed just before him, the helpless body of the
bowhead whale, the killers darting in a mad mêlée for its head. Then a
figure was literally hurled upon the slippery mass of the mammal, its
gray belly plain in the welter, a living raft against which the waves
broke and tossed their spray.
Clawing frantically, Sandy clutched at the base of the enormous
pectoral fin, clinging with maniacal strength, mad with fear. Striking
out to little purpose, save to help buoy himself, blinded by the flying
scud and broken crests, Rainey felt himself upreared, swept impotently
on and slammed against the slimy hulk, just close enough to Sandy to
grasp him by the collar, as the whale, stung by a killer's tearing at
its oily tongue, flailed with its fin and the two of them slid down its
body, deep under water.
Rainey fought against the suffocation and the fierce desire to gasp
and relieve his tortured lungs. The lad's weight seemed to be carrying
him down as if he was a thing of lead, but Rainey would not relax his
grip. He could not. He had centered all his energy upon the desire to
save Sandy, and his nerve centers were still tense to that last
There came a swift, painful constriction of his chest that his
failing senses interpreted only as the end of things. Then his head
came out into the blessed air and he gulped what he could, though half
of it was water.
The Karluk was into the wind and they were in what little lee
there was, dragging aft at the end of the halyards, being fetched in
toward the rail by the mighty tugs of Lund, a weird sight to Rainey's
smarting eyes as he caught sight of the giant, with red hair uncovered,
his beard whipping in the wind, his black glasses still in place,
making some sort of a blessed monster out of him.
Rainey had his left fist welded to the line, his right was set in
Sandy's collar, and Sandy's death clutch had twined itself into
Rainey's oilskins, though the lad was limp, and his face, seen through
the watery film that streamed over it, set and white.
A dozen arms shot down to grasp him. He felt the iron grip of Lund
upon his left forearm, almost wrenching his arm from its socket as he
was inhauled, caught at by body and legs and deposited on the deck of
the schooner, that almost instantly commenced to go about upon its
former course. Again he heard the bellow of the blind giant, as if it
had been a continuation of the order shouted as he had gone overboard.
Ba-ack that jib to win'ard! Ba-ck it, you swabs!
The Karluk came about more smartly this time, swinging on the
upheaval of a wave and rushing off with ever-increasing speed. Lund
bent over him, asking him with a note that Rainey, for all his
exhaustion, interpreted as one of real anxiety:
How is it with you, matey? Did ye git lunged up?
Rainey managed to shake his head and, with Lund's boughlike arm for
support, got to his feet, winded, shaken, aching from his pounding and
the crash against the whale.
Good man! cried Lund, thwacking him on the shoulder and holding
him up as Rainey nearly collapsed under the friendly accolade.
Sandy was lying face down, one hunter kneeling across him, kneading
his ribs to bellows action, lifting his upper body in time to the
pressure, while another worked his slack arms up and down.
I tank he's gone, said Hansen. Swallowed a tubful.
That was splendid, Mr. Rainey! Wonderful! It was brave of you!
Peggy Simms stood before Rainey, clinging to the mainstays, a
different girl to the one that he had known. Her red lips were apart,
showing the clean shine of her teeth, above her glowing cheeks her gray
eyes sparkled with friendly admiration, one slender wet hand was held
out eagerly toward him.
Why, said Rainey, in that embarrassment that comes when one knows
he has done well, yet instinctively seeks to disclaim honors, any one
would have done that. I happened to be the only one to see it.
I'm not so sure of that, replied the girl, and Rainey thought her
lip curled contemptuously as she glanced toward Carlsen at the wheel.
Yet Carlsen, he fancied, had full excuse for not having made the
attempt, busied as he had been adding needed strength to the wheel.
Oh, it was not what he did, or failed to do, said the girl, and
this time there was no mistaking the fact that she emphasized her voice
with contempt and made sure that it would carry to Carlsen. He said it
wasn't worth while.
Her eyes flashed and then she made a visible effort to control
herself. But it was very brave of you, and I want to ask your pardon,
she concluded, with the crimson of her cheeks flooding all her face
before she turned away, and made abruptly for the companion.
A little bewildered, the touch of her slim but strong fingers still
sensible to his own, Rainey went to the wheel.
Shall I take it over, Mr. Carlsen? he asked. It's my watch.
Carlsen surveyed him coolly. Either he pretended not to have heard
the girl's innuendo or it failed to get under his skin.
You'd better get into some dry togs, Rainey, he said. And I'll
prescribe a stiff jorum of grog-hot. Take your time about it. Rainey,
conscious of a wrenched feeling in his side, a growing nausea and
weakness, thanked him and took the advice. Half an hour later, save for
a general soreness, he felt too vigorous to stay below, and went on
deck again. Sandy had been taken forward. He encountered the hunter,
Deming, and asked after the roustabout.
Born to be hanged, answered the hunter with more friendliness than
he had ever exhibited. They pumped it out of him, and got his own pump
to workin'. He'll be as fit as a fiddle presently. Asking for you.
I'll see him soon, said Rainey, and again offered relief to
Carlsen, which the doctor this time accepted.
Miss Simms misunderstood me, Rainey, he said easily. My intent
was, that Sandy could never stay on top in those seas, and that it was
idle to send a valuable man after a lout who was as good as dead. If it
hadn't been for the whale you'd never have landed him. And the killers
got the whale, he added, with his cynical grin.
So he had overheard. Rainey wondered whether the girl would accept
the amended statement if it was offered. At its best interpretation it
When Hansen took over the watch Rainey went below to Sandy. Lund had
disappeared, but he found the giant in the triangular forecastle by
That you, Rainey? Lund asked as he heard the other's tread. Then
he dropped his voice to a whisper:
The lad's grateful. Make the most of it. If he wants to spill
ennything, git all of it.
But Sandy seemed able to do nothing but grin sheepishly. He was half
drunk with the steaming potion that had been forced down him.
I'll see you later, Mister Rainey, he finally stammered out. See
you later, sir. YouI
Lund suddenly nudged Rainey in the ribs.
Never mind now, he whispered.
A sailor had come into the forecastle with an extra blanket for
Sandy, contributed from the hunters' mess.
That's all right, Sandy, said Rainey. Better try to get some
The roustabout had already dropped off. The seaman touched his
temple in an old-fashioned salute.
That was a smart job you did, sir, he said to Rainey.
The latter went aft with Lund through the hunters' quarters. They
were seated under the swinging lamp which had been lit in the gloom of
the gale, playing poker, as usual. But all laid down their cards as
Good work, sir! said one of them, and the rest chimed in with
expressions that warmed Rainey's heart. He felt that he had won his way
into their good-will. They were human, after all, he thought.
Glad to have you drop in an' gam a bit with us, or take a hand in a
game, sir, added Deming.
Rainey escaped, a trifle embarrassed, and passed through the alley
that went by the cook's domain into the main cabin. Tamada was at work,
but turned a gleam of slanting eyes toward Rainey as they passed the
open door. The main cabin was empty.
Come into my room, suggested Lund. I want to talk with you.
He stuffed his pipe and proffered a drink before he spoke.
Best day's work you've done in a long while, matey, he said
quietly. Take Deming's offer up, an' mix in with them hunters. An'
pump thet kid, Sandy. Pump him dry. He'll know almost as much as
Tamada, an' he'll come through with it easier.
Just what are you afraid of? asked Rainey.
Son, said Lund simply, I'm afraid of nothing. But they're primed
for somethin', under Carlsen. We'll be makin' Unalaska ter-morrer or
the next day. Here's hopin' it's the next. An' we've got to know what
to expect. Did you know that the skipper has had another bad spell?
Jest a few minnits ago. Cryin' for Carlsen like a kid for its nurse
an' bottle. The doc's with him now. An' I'm beginnin' to have a hunch
what's wrong with him. Here's somethin' for you to chew on: Inside of
forty-eight hours there's goin' to be an upset aboard this hooker an'
it's up to me an' you to see we come out on top. If not
He spread out his arms with the great, gorilla-like hands at the end
of them, in a gesture that supplanted words. Beyond any doubt Lund
expected trouble. And Rainey, for the first time, began to sense it as
something approaching, sinister, almost tangible.
You drop in on the hunters an' have a little game of poker
ter-night, said Lund emphatically.
I haven't got much money with me, said Rainey.
Money, hell! mocked Lund. They don't play for money. They play
for shares in the gold. They've got the big amount fixed at a million,
each share worth ten thousand. 'Cordin' to the way things stand at
present, you've got forty thousand dollars' worth in chips to gamble
with. Put it up to 'em that way. I figger they'll accept it. If they
don't, wal, we've learned something. An' don't forget to git next to
A good deal of this was enigmatical to Rainey, but there was no
mistaking Lund's tremendous seriousness and, duly impressed, Rainey
promised to carry out his suggestions.
As he crossed the main cabin to go to his own room, Carlsen came out
of the skipper's. He did not see Rainey at first and was humming a
little air under his breath as he slipped a small article into his
pocket. His face held a sneer. Then he saw Rainey, and it changed to a
mask that revealed nothing. His tune stopped.
I hear the captain's sick again, said Rainey. Not serious, I
Carlsen stood there gazing at him with his look of a sphinx, his
eyes half-closed, the scoffing light showing faintly.
Serious? I'm afraid it is serious this time, Rainey. Yes, he ended
slowly. I am inclined to think it is really serious. He turned away
and rapped at the door of the girl's stateroom. In answer to a low
reply he turned the handle and went in, leaving Rainey alone.
CHAPTER VI. SANDY SPEAKS
The next morning Rainey, going on deck to relieve Hansen at eight
bells, in the commencement of the forenoon watch, found Lund in the
bows as he walked forward, waiting for the bell to be struck. The giant
leaned by the bowsprit, his spectacled eyes seeming to gaze ahead into
the gray of the northern sky, and it seemed to Rainey as if he were
smelling the wind. The sun shone brightly enough, but it lacked
heat-power, and the sea had gone down, though it still ran high in
great billows of dull green. There was a bite to the air, and Rainey,
fresh from the warm cabin, wished he had brought up his sweater.
Lightly as he trod, the giant heard him and instantly recognized
How'd ye make out with the hunters last night? he queried. I
turned in early.
We had quite a session, said Rainey. They got me in the game, all
Enny objections 'bout yore stakin' yore share in the gold?
Not a bit. I fancy they thought it a bit of a joke. More of one
after we'd finished the game. I lost two thousand seven hundred
dollars, he added with a laugh. No chips under a dollar. Sky limit.
And Deming had all the luck, and a majority of the skill, I fancy.
Don't seem to worry you none.
Well, it was sort of ghost money, laughed Rainey.
You've seen the color of it, retorted Lund. Hear ennything
No. Rainey spoke thoughtfully. I had a notion I was being treated
as an outsider, though they were friendly enough. But, somehow I fancy
they reserved their usual line of talk.
Shouldn't wonder, grunted Lund. Seen Sandy yet?
I haven't had a chance. I imagined it would be best not to be seen
talking to him.
Right. Matey, things are comin' to a head. There's ice in the air.
I can smell it. Feel the difference in temperature? Ice, all right. An'
that means two things. We're nigh one of the Aleutians, an' Bering
Strait is full of ice. Early, a bit, but there's nothin' reg'lar 'bout
the way ice forms. I've got a strong hunch something'll break before we
make the Strait.
There's one thing in our favor. Yore savin' Sandy has set you solid
with the hunters. They won't be so keen to maroon you. An' they'll
think twice about puttin' me ashore blind. I used to git along fine
with the hunters. All said an' done, they're men at bottom. Got their
hearts gold-plated right now. But
He seemed obsessed with the idea that the crew, with Carlsen as
prime instigator, had determined to leave them stranded on some
volcanic, lonely barren islet. Rainey wondered what actual foundations
he had for that theory.
The sailors he started.
Don't amount to a bunch of dried herrin'. A pore lot. Swing either
way, like a patent gate. I ain't worryin' about them. I'm goin' to git
my coffee. I was up afore dawn, tryin' to figger things out. You git to
Sandy soon's you can, matey. And Lund went below.
Rainey saw nothing more of him until noon, at the midday meal. And
he found no chance to talk with Sandy. He noticed the boy looking at
him once or twice, wistfully, he thought, and yet furtively. A
thickening atmosphere of something unusual afoot seemed present. And
the actual weather grew distinctly colder. He had got his sweater, and
he needed it. The sailors had put on their thickest clothes. Carlsen
did not appear during the morning, neither did the hunters. Nor the
At noon Carlsen came up to take his observation. He said nothing to
Rainey, but the latter noticed the doctor's face seemed more sardonic
than usual as he tucked his sextant under his arm.
With Hansen on deck they all assembled at the table with the
exception of the captain. Tamada served perfectly and silently. The
doctor conversed with the girl in a low voice. Once or twice she smiled
across the table at Rainey in friendly fashion.
Skipper enny better? asked Lund, at the end of the meal.
Carlsen ignored him, but the girl answered:
I am afraid not. It was not often she spoke to Lund at all, and
Rainey wondered if she had experienced any change of feeling toward the
giant as well as himself.
Carlsen got up, announcing his intention of going forward. Lund
nodded significantly at Rainey as if to suggest that the doctor was
going to foregather with the hunters, and that this might be an
opportunity to talk with Sandy.
Goin' to turn in, he said. Eyes hurt me. It's the ice in the
Is there ice? Peggy Simms asked Rainey as Lund disappeared.
Carlsen had already vanished.
None in sight, he answered. But Lund says he can smell it, and I
think I know what he means. It's cold on deck.
The girl went to the door of her own room and then hesitated and
came back to the table where Rainey still sat. He had four hours off,
and he meant to make an opportunity of talking to the roustabout.
Mr. Carlsen told me he expects to sight land by to-morrow morning,
she said. Unalaska or Unimak, most likely. How is the boy you saved?
She seemed so inclined to friendliness, her eyes were so frank, that
Rainey resolved to talk to her. He held a notion that she was lonely,
and worried about her father. There were pale blue shadows under her
eyes, and he fancied her face looked drawn.
May I ask you a question? he asked.
Just why did you beg my pardon? And, I may be wrong, but you seemed
to make a point of doing so rather publicly.
She flushed slowly, but did not avoid his gaze, coming over to the
table and standing across from him, her fingers resting lightly on the
It was because I thought I had misunderstood you, she said. And I
have thought it over since. I do not think that any man who would risk
his life to save that lad could have joined the ship with such motives
as you did. II hope I am not mistaken.
Rainey stared at her in astonishment.
What motives? he asked. Surely you know I did not intend to go on
this voyage of my own free will?
The changing light in her eyes reminded Rainey of the look of her
father's when he was at his best in some time of stress for the
schooner. They were steady, and the pupils had dilated while the irises
held the color of steel. There was something more than ordinary
feminine softness to her, he decided. She sat down, challenging his
Do you mean to tell me, she asked, that you did not use your
knowledge of this treasure to gain a share in it, under a covert threat
of disclosing it to the newspaper you worked for?
It was Rainey's turn to flush. His indignation flooded his eyes, and
the girl's faltered a little. His wrath mastered his judgment. He did
not intend to spare her feelings. What did she mean by such a charge?
She must have known about the drugging. If notshe soon would.
Your fiancé, Mr. Carlsen, told you that, I fancy, he said, if you
did not evolve it from your own imagination. Now her face fairly
My fiancé? she gasped. Who told you that?
The gentleman himself, answered Rainey.
Oh! she cried, closing her eyes, her face paling.
The same gentleman, went on Rainey vindictively, who put chloral
in my drink and deliberately shanghaied me aboard the Karluk, so
that I only came to at sea, with no chance of return. He, too, was
afraid I might give the snap away to my paper, though I would have
given him my word not to. He told me it was a matter of business, that
he had kidnapped me for my own good, he went on bitterly, recalling
the talk with Carlsen when he had come out of the influence of the
drug. You don't have to believe me, of course, he broke off.
I don't think you are quite fair, Mr. Rainey, the girl answered.
To me, I mean. I will give you my word that I knew nothing of
this. I She suddenly widened her eyes and stared at him. Thenmy
Rainey felt a twinge of compassion.
He was there when it happened, he said. But I don't know that he
had anything to do with it. Mr. Carlsen may have convinced him it was
the only thing to do. He seems to have considerable influence with your
[Illustration: The same gentleman who put chloral in my drink"]
He has. HeMr. Rainey, I have begged your pardon once; I do so
again. Won't you accept it? Perhaps, later, we can talk this matter
out. I am upset. Butyou'll accept the apology, and believe me?
She put out her hand across the table and Rainey gripped it.
We'll be friends? she asked. I need a friend aboard the Karluk, Mr. Rainey.
He experienced a revulsion of feeling toward her. She was
undoubtedly plucky, he thought; she would stand up to her guns, but she
suddenly looked very tired, a pathetic figure that summoned his
Why, surely, he said.
They relinquished hands slowly, and again Rainey felt something more
than her mere grasp lingering, a slight tingling that warmed him to
smile at her in a manner that brought a little color back to her
Thank you, she said.
He watched her close the door of her cabin behind her before he
remembered that she had not denied that she was to marry Carlsen. But
he shrugged his shoulders as he started to smoke. At any rate, he told
himself, she knows what kind of a chap he isin what he calls
Presently he thought he heard her softly sobbing in her room, and he
got up and paced the cabin, not entirely pleased with himself.
I was a bit of a cad the way I went at her, he thought, but that
chap Carlsen sticks in my gorge. How any decent girl could think of
mating up with him is beyond meunlessby gad, I'll bet he's working
through her father to pull it off! For the gold! If he's in love with
her he's got a damned queer way of not showing it.
The door from the galley corridor opened, and a head was poked in
cautiously. Then Sandy came into the cabin.
Beg pardon, Mister Rainey, sir, said the roustabout, I was
through with the dishes. I wanted to have a talk with yer. His
pop-eyes roamed about the cabin doubtfully.
Come in here, said Rainey, and ushered Sandy into his own
Now, then, he said, established on the bunk, while Sandy stood by
the partition, slouching, irresolute, his slack jaw working as if he
was chewing something, what is it, my lad?
They'd kick the stuffin' out of me if they knew this, said Sandy.
I've bin warned to hold my tongue. Deming said he'd cut it out if I
chattered. An' he would. But
But what? Sit down, Sandy; I won't give you away.
You went overboard after me, sir. None of them would. I've heard
what Mr. Carlsen said, that I didn't ermount to nothin'. Mebbe I don't,
but I've got my own reasons for hangin' on. Me, of course I don't
ermount to much. Why would I? If I ever had mother an' father, I never
laid eyes on 'em. I've made my own livin' sence I was eight. I've never
'ad enough grub in my belly till I worked for Tamada. The Jap slips me
prime fillin'. He's only a Jap, but he's got more heart than the rest
o' that bloody bunch put tergether.
Tell me what you know, quickly. You may be wanted any minute.
The words seemed to stick in the lad's dry throat, and then they
came with a gush.
It's the doc! It's Carlsen who's turned 'em into a lot of bloody
bolsheviks, sir. Told 'em they ought to have an ekal share in the gold.
Ekal all round, all except Tamadaan' me. I don't count. An' Tamada's
a Jap. The men is sore at Mr. Lund becoz he sez the skipper left him
be'ind on the ice. Carlsen's worked that up, too. Said Lund made 'em
all out to be cowards. 'Cept Hansen, that is. He don't dare say too
much, or they'd jump him, but Hansen sort of hints that Cap'n Simms
ought to have gone back after Lund, could have gone back, is the way
Hansen put it. So they're all goin' to strike.
Rainey's mind reacted swiftly to Sandy's talk. It seemed
inconceivable that Carlsen would be willing to share alike with the
hunters and the crew. Sandy's imagination had been running wild, or the
men had been making a fool of him. The girl's share would be thrown
into the common lot. And then flashed over him the trick by which
Carlsen had disposed of all the ammunition in the hunters' possession.
He had a deeper scheme than the one he fed to the hunters, and which he
merely offered to serve some present purpose. Rainey's jaw muscles
Go on, Sandy, he said tersely.
There ain't much more, sir. They're goin' to put it up to Lund.
First they figgered some on settin' him ashore with you an' the Jap.
That's what Carlsen put up to 'em. But they warn't in favor of that.
Said Lund found the gold, an' ought to have an ekal share with the
rest. An' they're feelin' diff'runt about you, sir, since you saved me.
Not becoz it was me, but becoz it was what Deming calls a damn plucky
thing to do.
How did you learn all this? demanded Rainey.
Scraps, sir. Here an' there. The sailors gams about it nights when
they thinks I'm asleep in the fo'c's'le. An' I keeps my ears open when
I waits on the hunters. But they ain't goin' to give you no share becoz
you warn't in on the original deal. But they ain't goin' to maroon you,
neither, unless Lund bucks an' you stand back of him.
How about Captain Simms?
Carlsen sez he'll answer for him, sir. He boasts how he's goin' to
marry the gal. That'll giv' him three sharescountin' the skipper's.
The men don't see that, but I did. He's a bloody fox, is Carlsen.
When's this coming off? asked Rainey.
Quick! They're goin' to sight land ter-morrer, they say. I heard
that this mornin'. I hid in my bunk. It heads ag'inst the wall of the
hunters' mess an', if it's quiet, you can hear what they say.
They ain't goin' in to Bering Strait through Unimak Pass. They're
goin' in through Amukat or Seguam Pass. An' they'll put it up to Lund
an' the skipper somewheres close by there. An' that's where you two'll
get put off, if you don't fall in line.
All right, Sandy. You're smarter than I thought you were. Sure of
I ain't much to look at, sir, but I ain't had to buck my own way
without gittin' on ter myself. You won't give me away, though? They'd
I won't. You cut along. And if we happen to come out on top, Sandy,
I'll see that you get a share out of it.
Thank you, sir.
I'll come out with you, said Rainey. If any one comes in before
you get clear, I'll give you an order. I sent for you, understand.
But Sandy got back into the galley without any trouble. Rainey began
to pace the cabin again, and then went back into his own room to line
the thing up. Lund was asleep, but he would waken him, he decided,
filled with admiration at the blind man's sagacity and the way he had
foreseen the general situation.
There was not much time to lose. He did not see what they could do
against the proposition. He was sure that Lund would not consent to it.
And he might have some plan. He had hinted that he had cards up his
What Carlsen's ultimate plans were Rainey did not bother himself
with. That it meant the fooling of the whole crew he did not doubt. He
intended eventually to gather all the gold. And the girlshe would be
in his power. But perhaps she wanted to be? Rainey got out of his blind
alley of thought and started into the main cabin to give Lund the news.
The girl was coming out of her father's room.
Any better? asked Rainey.
No. I can't understand it. He seems hardly to know me. Doctor
Carlsen came along because of father's sciatica, butthere's something
elseand the doctor can't help it any. I can't quite understand
She stopped abruptly.
Have you known the doctor long? asked Rainey.
For a year. He lives in Mill Valley, close to my uncle. I live with
my father's brother when father is at sea. But this time I wanted to be
near him. And the doctor
Again she seemed to be deliberately checking herself from a
revelation that wanted to come out.
Did he practise in Mill Valley? Or San Francisco? asked Rainey,
remembering Lund's outburst against Carlsen's professional powers.
No, he hasn't practised for some years. That was how it happened he
was able to go along. Of course, father promised him a certain share in
the venture. And he was a friend.
She trailed off in her speech, looking uncertainly at Rainey. The
latter came to a decision.
Miss Simms, he said, are you going to marry Doctor Carlsen?
Suddenly Rainey was aware that some one had come into the cabin. It
was Carlsen, now swiftly advancing toward him, his face livid, his
mouth snarling, and his black eyes devilish with mischief.
I'll attend to this end of it, he said. Peggy, you had better go
in to your father. I'll be in there in a minute. He's a pretty sick
man, he added.
His snarl had changed to a smile, and he seemed to have swiftly
controlled himself. The girl looked at both of them and slowly went
into the captain's room. Carlsen wheeled on Rainey, his face once more
a mask of hate.
I'll put you where you belong, you damned interloper, he said.
What in hell do you mean by asking her that question?
That is my business.
I'll make it mine. And I'll settle yours very shortly, once and for
all. I suppose you're soft on the girl yourself, he sneered. Think
yourself a hero! Do you think she'd look at you, a beggarly
news-monger? Why, she
You can leave her out of it, said Rainey, quietly. As for you, I
think you're a dirty blackguard.
Carlsen's hand shot back to his hip pocket as Rainey's fist flashed
through the opening and caught him high on the jaw, sending him
staggering back, crashing against the partition and down into the
cushioned seat that ran around the place.
But his gun was out. As he raised it Rainey grappled with him.
Carlsen pulled trigger, and the bullet smashed through the skylight
above them, while Rainey forced up his arm, twisting it fiercely with
both hands until the gun fell on the seat.
Simultaneously the girl and Lund appeared.
Gun-play? rumbled the giant. That'll be you, Carlsen! You're too
fond of shooting off that gat of yores.
Rainey had stepped back at the girl's exclamation. Carlsen recovered
his gun and put it away, while Peggy Simms advanced with blazing eyes.
You coward! she said. If I had thoughtoh!
She made a gesture of utter loathing, at which Carlsen sneered.
I'll show you whether I'm a coward or not, my lady, he said,
before I get through with all of you. And I'll tell you one thing: The
captain's life is in my hands. And he and I are the only navigators
aboard this vessel, except a fool of a blind man, he added, as he
strode to the door of Simms' cabin, turned to look at them, laughed
deliberately in their faces, and shut the door on them.
CHAPTER VII. RAINEY MAKES DECISION
Well? asked Lund, what are you goin' to do about it, Rainey?
Stick with me, or line up with the rest of 'em, work yore passage, an'
thank 'em for nothing when they divvy the stuff an' leave you out?
You've got to decide one way or the other damn' quick, for the
show-down's on the program for ter-morrer.
You haven't said outright what you are going to do yourself,
replied Rainey. As for me, I seem to be between the devil and the deep
sea. Carlsen has got some plan to outwit the men. It's inconceivable
that he'll be willing to give them equal shares. And he has no use for
You ought to have grabbed that gun of his before he did, said
Lund. He'll put you out of the way if he can, but, now his temper's
b'iled over a bit, he'll not shoot you. Not afore the gold's in the
hold. One thing, he knows the hunters wouldn't stand for it. They've
got dust in their eyes right nowgold-dust, chucked there by Carlsen,
but if he'd butchered you he'd likely lose his grip on 'em. I think he
would. I don't believe yo're in enny danger, Rainey, if you want to
buckle in an' line up with the crowd.
As for me, he went on, his voice deepening, I'm goin' to tell 'em
to go plumb to hell. I'll tell Carlsen a few things first. Equal
shares! A fine bunch of socialists they are! Settin' aside that
Carlsen's bullin' 'em, as you say. Equal? They ain't my equal, none of
'em, man to man. All men are born free an' equal, says the Constitution
an' by-laws of this country of ours. Granted. But they don't stay that
way long. They're all lined up to toe the mark on the start, but watch
'em straggle afore they've run a tenth of the distance.
I found this gold, an' they didn't. I don't have to divvy with 'em,
an' I won't. A lot of I. W. W.'s, that's what they are, an' I'll tell
'em so. More'n that, if enny of 'em thinks he's my equal all he's got
to do is say so, an' I'll give him a chance to prove it. Feel those
arms, matey, size me up. Man to man, I c'ud break enny of 'em in half.
Put me in a room with enny three of 'em, an' the door locked, an' one
'ud come out. That 'ud be me.
This was not bragging, not blustering, but calm assurance, and
Rainey felt that Lund merely stated what he believed to be facts. And
Rainey believed they were facts. There was a confident strength of
spirit aside from his physical condition that emanated from Lund as
steam comes from a kettle. It was the sort of strength that lies in a
steady gale, a wind that one can lean against, an elastic power with
big reserves of force. But the conditions were all against Lund, though
he proceeded to put them aside.
Man to man, he repeated, I c'ud beat 'em into Hamburg steak. An'
I've got brains enough to fool Carlsen. I've outguessed him so far.
He's got the gun, warned Rainey.
Never mind his gun. I ain't afraid of his gun. He nodded with such
supreme confidence that Rainey felt himself suddenly relegating the
doctor's possession of the gun to the background. If his gun's the
only thing trubblin' you, forget it. You an' me got to know where we
stand. It's up to you. I won't blame you for shiftin' over. An' I can
git along without you, if need be. But we've got along together fine;
I've took a notion to you. I'd like to see you get a whack of that
gold, an' all the devils in hell an' out of it ain't goin' to stop me
from gittin' it!
He talked in a low voice, but it rumbled like the distant roar of a
bull. Rainey looked at the indomitable jaw that the beard could not
hide, at the great barrel of his chest, the boughlike arms, the
swelling thighs and calves, and responded to the suggestion that Lund
could rise in Berserker rage and sweep aside all opposition.
It was absurd, of course; his next thought adjusted the balance that
had been weighed down by the compelling quality of the man's vigor but,
for the moment, remembering his earlier simile, Lund appeared a blind
Samson who, by some miracle, could at the last moment destroy his
enemies by pulling down their houseor their shipabout them.
Carlsen says that the skipper's life is in his hands, he said,
still evading Lund's direct question. What do you make of that?
I don't know what to make of it, answered Lund. If it is, God
help the skipper! I reckon he's in a bad way. Ennyhow, he's out of it
for the time bein', Rainey. I don't think he'll be present at the
meetin' if he's that ill. Carlsen speaks for him. Count Simms out of it
for the present.
There's the girl, said Rainey. I don't believe she wants to marry
If she does, said Lund, she ain't the kind we need worry about.
Carlsen 'ud marry her if he thought it was necessary to git her share
by bein' legal. He may try an' squeeze her to a wedding through the
skipper. Threaten to let her dad die if she don't marry him, likely'll
git the skipper to tie the knot. It 'ud be legal. But if you're
interested about the gal, Rainey, an' I take it you are, I'm tellin'
you that Carlsen'll marry her if it suits his book. If it don't, he
won't. An', if he wins out, he'll take her without botherin' about
prayer-books an' ceremonies. I know his breed. All men are more or less
selfish an' shy on morals, in streaks more or less wide, but that
Carlsen's just plain skunk.
The men wouldn't permit that, said Rainey tersely. If Carlsen
started anything like that I'd kill him with my own hands, gun or no
gun. And any white man would help me do it.
You would, mebbe, said Lund, nodding sagely. You'd have a try at
it. But you don't know men, matey, not like I do. This ship's got a
skipper now. A sick one, I grant you. But so far he's boss. An' he's
the gal's father. All's usual an' reg'lar. But you turn this schooner
into a free-an'-easy, equal shares-to-all, go-as-you-please outfit, let
'em git their claws on the gold, an' be on the way home to spend
itfor Carlsen'll let 'em go that far afore he pulls his play,
whatever it isan' discipline will go by the board.
Grog'll be served when they feel like it, they'll start gamblin',
some of 'em'll lose all they got. There'll be sore-heads, an' they'll
remember there's a gal in the after-cabin, which won't be the
after-cabin enny more, for they'll all have the run of it, bein' equal;
then all hell's goin' to break loose, far's that gal's concerned.
A bunch of men who've bin at sea for weeks, half drunk, crazy over
havin' more gold than they ever dreamed of, or havin' gambled it away.
Jest a bunch of beasts, matey, whenever they think of that gal. They'll
be too much for Carlsen to handlean'he tapped at Rainey's
kneeCarlsen don't think enough of enny woman to let her interfere
with his best interests.
Rainey's jaw was set and his fists clenched, his blood running hot
and fast. His imagination was instinct to conjure up full-colored
scenes from Lund's suggestions.
You mean he began.
Under his hide, when there ain't nothin' to hinder him, a man's
plain animal, said Lund. What do these water-front bullies know about
a good galor care? They only know one sort. Ever think what happened
to a woman in privateer days when they got one aboard, alone, on the
high seas? Why, if they pushed Carlsen, he'd turn her over to 'em
You hinted I was different, said Rainey. How about you, Lund, how
would you act?
If Carlsen wins out, I'd be chewin' mussels on a rock, or feedin'
crabs, said Lund simply. I'm no saint, but, so long as I can keep
wigglin', there ain't enny hunter or seaman goin' to harm a decent gal.
That's another way they ain't my equal, Rainey. Savvy? Nor is Carlsen.
There ain't enough real manhood in that Carlsen to grease a skillet.
How about it, Rainey; are you lined up with me?
Just as far as I can go, Lund. I'm with you to the limit.
Lund brought down his hand with a mighty swing, and caught at
Rainey's in mid-air, gripping it till Rainey bit his lips to repress a
cry of pain.
You've got the guts! cried the giant, checking the loudness of his
voice abruptly. I knew it. It ain't all goin' to go as they like it.
Watch my smoke. Now, then, keep out of Carlsen's way all you can. He
may try an' pick a row with you that'll put you in wrong all around. Go
easy an' speak easy till land's sighted. If you ain't invited to this
I. W. W. convention, horn in.
Carlsen'll try an' keep you on deck, I fancy. Don't stay there.
Turn the wheel over to Sandy if you have to. I'll insist on havin' you
there. That'll be better. They'll probably have some fool agreement to
sign. Carlsen would do that. Make 'em all feel it's more like a bizness
meetin'. They'll love to scrawl their names an' put down their marks.
I'll have to have you there to read it over to me; savvy?
What do you think Carlsen's game is, if it goes through?
He's fox enough to think up a dozen ways. Run the schooner ashore
somewhere in the night. Wreck her. Git 'em in the boats with the gold.
Inside of a week, Deming an' one or two others would have won it all.
Thenhe'd have the only gunhe'd shoot the lot of 'em an' say they
died at sea. He ain't got enny more warm blood than a squid. Or he
might land, and accuse 'em all of piracy. What do we care about his
plans? He ain't goin' to put 'em over.
Rainey had to relieve Hansen. He left Lund primed for resistance
against Carlsen, against all the crew, if necessary, resolved to save
the girl, but, as Lund stayed below and the time slid by, his
confidence oozed out of him, and the odds assumed their mathematical
What could they do against so many? But he held firm in his
determination to do what he could, to go down with the forlorn hope,
fighting. Blind as he was, Lund was the better man of the two of them,
Rainey felt; it was better to attempt to seize the horns of the dilemma
than weakly to give way and, with Lund killed, or marooned, try
single-handed to protect Peggy Simms against the horrors that would
He did not believe himself in love with her. The environment had not
been conducive to that sort of thing. But the thought of her, their
hands clasped, her eyes appealing, saying she needed a friend aboard
the Karluk; the young clean beauty of her, nerved him to stand
with Lund against the odds. Lund was fighting for his rights, for his
gold, but he had said that he would not see a decent girl harmed as
long as he could wiggle. Rough sea-bully as the giant was, he had his
code. Rainey tingled with contempt of his own hesitancy.
The Karluk was bowling along northward toward landfall and
the crisis between Lund and Carlsen at good speed. The weather had
subsided and the half gale now served the schooner instead of hindering
her. Rainey turned over the wheel to a seaman and paced the deck. The
bite in the air had increased until even the smart walk he maintained
failed to circulate the blood sufficiently to keep his fingers from
becoming benumbed, so that he had to beat his arms across his chest.
It was well below the freezing point. If they had been sailing on
fresh water, instead of salt, he fancied that the rigging would have
been glazed where the spray struck it. As it was, the canvas seemed to
him stiffer than usual, and there was a whitish haze about the northern
horizon that suggested ice.
The tall, olive-tinted seas ranged up in dissolving hills, the
wind's whistle was shrill in the rigging. Over the mainmast a
gray-breasted bird with wide, unmoving pinions hung without apparent
motion, its ruby eyes watching the ship, as if it was a spy sent out
from the Arctic to report the adventurous strangers about to dare its
As the day passed to sunset the gloom quickly deepened. The sun sank
early into banks of leaden clouds, and the Karluk slid on
through the seething seas in a scene of strange loneliness, save for
the suspended albatross that never varied its position by an inch or by
a flirt of its plumes.
Rainey felt the dreary suggestion of it all as he walked up and
down, trying to evolve some plan. Lund's mysterious hints were
unsatisfactory. He could not believe them without some basis, but the
giant would never go further than vague talk of a joker or a card up
his sleeve. And they would need more than one card, Rainey thought.
He wondered whether they could win over Hansen, who had spoken for
Lund against the skipper. And had then kept his counsel. But he
dismissed Hansen as an ally. The Scandinavian was too cautious, too apt
to consider such things as odds. Sandy was useless, aside from his
good-will. He was cowed by Deming, scared of Carlsen, too puny to do
more than he had done, given them warning.
Tamada? Would he fight for the share of gold he expected to come to
him? Lund had described him as neutral. But, if he knew that he was to
be left out of the division? It was not likely that he would be called
to the conference. The Japanese undoubtedly knew the racial prejudice
against him, a prejudice that Rainey considered short-sighted, taking
some pains to show that he did not share it. At any rate, Tamada might
provide him with a weapon, a sharp-bladed vegetable knife if nothing
But, if it came to downright combat, they must be overwhelmed.
Carlsen's gun again assumed proper proportions. Lund might not be
afraid of it, but Rainey was, very frankly. He should have snatched it
from the cabin cushions. But Tamada? He could not dismiss Tamada as an
important factor. There was no question to Rainey but that Tamada was,
by caste, above his position as sealer's cook. It was true that a
Japanese considered no means menial if they led to the proper end.
Was that end merely to gain possession of his share of the gold, or
did Tamada have some deeper, more complicated reason for signing on to
run the galley of the Karluk? Somehow Rainey thought there was
such a reason. He treated Tamada with a courtesy that he had found
other Japanese appreciated, and fancied that Tamada gradually came to
regard him with a certain amount of good-will. But it was hard to
determine anything that went on back of those unfathomable eyes, or to
read Tamada's face, smooth and placid as that of an ivory image.
CHAPTER VIII. TAMADA TALKS
Tamada's galley was as orderly and efficient as the operating-room
of a first-class hospital. And Tamada at his work had all the deftness
and some of the dignity of a surgeon. There was no wasted move, there
was no litter of preparation, every article was returned to its
specified place as soon as used, and every implement and utensil was
shining and spotless.
It was an hour from the third meal of the day. Tamada was juggling
the food for three messes, and he was doing it with the calm precision
of one who has every detail well mapped out and is moving on schedule.
The boy Sandy was not there, probably engaged in laying the table for
the hunters' mess, Rainey imagined.
Tamada regarded him with eyes that did not lack a certain luster, as
a sloeberry might hold it, but which, beneath their hooded lids,
revealed neither interest, nor curiosity, nor friendliness. They
belonged in his unwrinkled face, they were altogether neutral. Yet they
seemed covertly to suggest to Rainey that they might, on occasion,
flame with wrath or hatred, or show the burning light of high
intelligence. Seldom, he thought, while their gaze rested on him
impassively, would they soften.
Tamada, he queried, you think I am your friend, that I would
rather help you than otherwise?
I think thatyes? answered the Japanese without hesitation and
without servility. And his eyes slowly searched Rainey's face with
appraising pertinacity for a second or two. His English, save for the
oddness of his idioms and a burr that made r's of most his
l's, and sometimes reversed the process, was almost perfect. His
vocabulary showed study. You are not hating me because you are
Californian and I Japanese, he said. I know that.
There was little time to spare, and there was likelihood of
interruption, so Rainey plunged into his subject without introduction.
They promised you a share of this treasure, Tamada? he asked.
They promised me that, yes.
They do not intend to give it to you. There was a tiny, dancing
flicker in the dark eyes that died like a spark in the night air.
Rainey recalled Lund's opinion that little went on that Tamada did not
know. You may have guessed this, he hurried on, but I am sure of it.
I, too, am promised some of the gold, but they do not intend to give it
to me. They will offer Mr. Lund only a small portion of what was
originally arranged, the same amount as the rest of them are to get. He
will refuse that to-morrow, when a meeting is to be called. Then there
will be trouble. I shall stand with Mr. Lund. If we win you will get
your share, whether you help us or not. If you help us I can promise
you at least twice the amount you were to get.
How can I help you? If this is to be talked over at a meeting I
shall not be allowed to be present. If trouble starts it will do so
immediately. Mr. Lundhe called it Rundis not patient man. What
can I do? How can I help you?
Rainey was nonplused. He had seized the first opportunity of
sounding the Japanese, and he had nothing outlined.
I do not know, he said. I must talk that over with Mr. Lund. I
wanted to know if you would be on our side.
Mr. Lund will not want me to help you. He does not like color of my
skin, he does not like Japanese because he thinks they make too good
living in California, and making more money than some of his
countrymen. I do not think it help you for me to join. I do not see how
you can win. If you can show some way out I will do what I can. But I
like to see way out.
He mollified the bald acknowledgment of his neutrality with a little
bow and a hissing-in breath. Back of it all was a will that was
inflexible, thought Rainey.
If we lose, you lose, he went on lamely. He had come on a fool's
errand, he decided.
I think I shall get my money, said Tamada, and something looked
out of his eyes that betrayed a purpose already gained, Rainey fancied,
as a chess player might gain assurance of victory by the looking ahead
to all conceivable moves against him, and providing a counter-play that
would achieve the game. It was borne in upon him that Tamada had
resources he could not fathom. The Oriental gave a swift smile, that
held no mirth, no friendship, rather, a sardonic appreciation of the
situation, without rancor.
They are very foolish, he said. They make me cook, they eat what
I serve. They say Tamada is very good cook. But he is Jap, damn him.
Suppose I put something in that food, that they would not taste? I
could send them all to sleep. I could kill them. I could do it so they
never suspect, but would go to their bedsand never get up from them.
It would be very easy. Yet they trust me.
The statement was so matter-of-fact that Rainey felt his horror
gather slowly as he stared at the impassive Oriental.
You would do that? What good would it do you? You would have to
kill them all, or the rest would tear you apart. And if you murdered
the whole ship where would you be? You talk as if you were a little
mad. Suppose I told Carlsen of this?
Tamada was smiling again. He seemed to know that Rainey was in no
position to betray himif he wished to do so.
I did not say I would do it. And, except under certain
circumstances, it do me little good. I do not expect to do it. But it
would be easy. Yet, as you say, it would not help you to kill only few,
those who will be at the meeting, for example, even if I wish to do.
No, I do not see way out. If, at any time there should seem way out and
I can help you, I will.
He turned abruptly to a simmering pot and rattled the lid. The
hunter, Deming, stuck his head in at the door.
Smells good, he said. Evening, Mr. Rainey.
He seemed disposed to linger, and Rainey, not to excite suspicion
toward himself or Tamada, went back on deck. What did Tamada mean by
except under certain circumstances? he asked himself. For one thing
he felt sure that Tamada had some basis for his expression that he
expected to get his money. He knew something. Was it merely the
Oriental method of jiu-jitsu, practised mentally as well as
physically, the belief in a seemingly passive resistance against
circumstances, waiting for some move that, by its own aggressiveness,
would give him an opening for a trick that would secure him the
advantage? What could one Japanese hope to do against the crowd?
A thought suddenly flashed over Rainey. Was Tamada in league with
Carlsen? Had he mistaken his man? Did Carlsen plan to have Tamada
undertake a wholesale poisoning to secure the gold himself, providing
the drugs? Was it a friendly hint from the Japanese?
Still mulling over it he went down to supper. The girl was not
present. Carlsen appeared in an unusual mood.
I was a bit hasty, Rainey, he said, with all appearance of
sincerity. I've been worried a bit over the skipper. He's in a bad
Forget what happened, if you can. I apologize. Though I still think
your interference in my private affairs unwarranted. I'll call it
square, if you will.
He nodded across the table at Rainey, saving the latter a reply
which he was rather at a loss how to word. Amenities from Carlsen were
likely a Greek gift. And Carlsen rattled on during the meal in high
good spirits, rallying Rainey about his poker game with the hunters,
joking Lund about his shooting, talking of the landfall they expected
the next day.
To Rainey's surprise Lund picked up the talk. There was a subtle,
sardonic flavor to it on both sides and, once in a while, as Tamada,
like an animated sphinx, went about his duties, Rainey saw the eyes of
Carlsen turned questioningly upon the giant as if a bit puzzled
concerning the exact spirit of his sallies.
Rainey admired while he marveled at the sheer skill of Lund in this
sort of a fencing bout. He never went far enough to arouse Carlsen's
suspicions, yet he showed a keen sense of humorous appreciation of
Carlsen's half-satirical sallies that, in the light of Sandy's
revelation, showed the doctor considered himself the master of the
situation, the winner of a game whose pieces were already on the board,
though the players had not yet taken their places. Yet Rainey fancied
that Carlsen qualified his dismissal of Lund as a blind fool before
they rose from the table, without disturbing his own equanimity as the
craftier of the two.
Later, when his watch was ended and he was closeted with Lund in the
latter's cabin, the giant promptly quashed all discussion of Tamada's
I'll put no trust in any slant-eyed, yellow-skinned rice-eater, he
announced emphatically. They're against us, race an' religion. They
want California, or rather, the Pacific coast, an' they think they're
goin' to git it. They're no more akin to us than a snake is a cousin to
an eel. They're not of our breed, an' you can't mix the two. I'll have
no deal with Tamada, beyond gettin' dope out of him. If he helped us it
'ud be only to further his own ends. Not that he can do muchunless
He lowered his voice to a husky whisper.
There's one thing may slip in our gold-gettin', matey, he
saidthe Japanese. I doubt if this island is set down on American or
British charts. But I'll bet it is on the Japanese. I don't know as any
nation has openly claimed it, but it's a sure thing the Japs know of
its existence. They don't know of the gold, or it wouldn't be there.
Rightly, the island may belong to Russia, but, since the war, Russia's
in a bad way, an' ennything loose from the mainland'll be gobbled by
What the Japs grab they don't let go of. On general principles they
patrol the west side of Bering Strait. If one of their patrols sees us
we'll be inside the sealin' limit, an' they'll have right of search.
They'd take it, ennyway, if they sighted us. They go by power of
search, not right. They won't find enny pelts on us, we've got hunters
aboard, we're pelagic sealers, they won't be able to hang up enny
clubbin' of herds on us.
But, if they should suspicion us of gittin' gold off enny island
they c'ud trump up to call theirs, if they found gold on us at all, it
'ud be all off with us an' the Karluk. We'd be dumped inside of
some Jap prison an' the schooner confiscated.
An', if things go right with us, an' we ever sight the smoke of a
Jap gunboat comin' our way, the first thing I'll be apt to do will be
to scrag Tamada or he'll blow the whole proposition, whether we've got
the gold aboard or not. Even if he didn't want to tell becoz of his own
share, they'd git it out of him what we was after.
Did this, wondered Rainey, explain Tamada's certain circumstances?
Was he calculating on the arrival of a Japanese patrol? Had he already
tipped off to his consul in San Francisco the purpose of the
expedition, sure of a reward equal to what his share would have been?
If so, Rainey had made a muddle of his attempt to sound Tamada. He felt
guilty, glad that Lund could not see his face, and he dropped the
Lund seemed to know that something was amiss.
Nervous, Rainey? he asked. That's becoz you've not bin livin' a
man's life. All yore experience has bin second-hand, an' you've never
gone into a rough-an'-tumble, I take it. You'll make out all right if
it comes to that at all. Yo're well put up, an' you've got solid of
late. Now yo're goin' to git a taste of life in the raw. Not story-book
stuff. It's strong meat sometimes, an' liable to turn some people's
stomachs. I've got an appetite for it, an' so'll you have, after a bit.
Ever play much at cards? he went on. Play for yore last red when
you don't know where to turn for another, an' have all the crowd
thinkin' yo're goin' broke as they watch the play? An' then you slap
down a card they've all overlooked an' larf in the other chap's face?
That's what I'm goin' to do with Carlsen. I've got that kind of a
card, matey, an' I ain't goin' to spoil my fun by tellin' even you what
it is, though yo're my partner in this gamble. It's a trump, an'
Carlsen's overlooked it. He figgers he's stacked the deck an' fixed it
so's he deals himself all the winnin' cards. But there's one he don't
know is there becoz he's more of a blind fool than I am, is Doctor
Lund chuckled hugely as he mixed himself some whisky and water.
Rainey refused a drink. Lund was right, he was nervous, bothering over
what the outcome might be, and how he might handle himself. He was not
at all sure of his own grit.
Lund had hit the nail on the head. All his experience had lain in
listening to the stories of others and writing them down. He did not
know whether he would act in a manner that would satisfy himself. There
was a nasty doubt as to his own prowess and his own courage that kept
cropping up. And that state of mind is not a pleasant one.
All be over this time ter-morrer, put in Lund, so far as our
bisness with Carlsen is concerned. You git all the sleep you can
ter-night, Rainey. An' don't you worry none about that gal. She's a
damn' sight more capable of lookin' after herself than you imagine. You
ain't counted her in as bein' more than a clingin' vine proposition.
Not that she could buck it on her own, but she's no fool, an' I bet
Soft on her? he challenged unexpectedly.
I haven't thought of her in that way, Rainey answered, a bit
Ah! the giant ejaculated softly. You haven't? Wal, mebbe it's
jest as well.
Rainey took that last remark up on deck and pondered over it in the
middle watch, but he could make nothing out of it. Yet he was sure that
Lund had meant something by it.
In the middle of the night the cold seemed to concentrate. Rainey
had found mittens in the schooner's slop-chest, and he was glad of them
at the wheel. The sailors, with but little to do, huddled forward. One
man acted as lookout for ice. The smell of this was now unmistakable
even to Rainey's inexperience. On certain slants of wind a sharper edge
would come that bit through ordinary clothes. It was, he thought, as if
some one had suddenly opened in the dark the doors of an enormous
refrigerator. He knew what that felt like, and this was much the same.
The weather was still clearing. In the sky of indigo the stars were
glittering points, not of gold, but steel, hard and cold. Ahead, the
northern lights were projected above the horizon in a low arch of
quivering rose. And, out of the north, before the wind, the sea
advanced in the long, smooth folds of a weighty swell over which the
Karluk wore her way into the breeze, clawing steadily on to the
Aleutians and a passage through to Bering Strait.
At two bells the hunters began to come on deck for a breath or so of
fresh air after the closeness of their quarters, as they invariably did
following a poker session. They did not come aft or give any greeting
to Rainey, but walked briskly about in couples, discussing something
that Rainey did not doubt was the next day's meeting. Doubtless, in the
confidence of their numbers, they considered it a mere formality. Lund
would take what they offeredor nothing. And Carlsen had guaranteed
the skipper's signature to an agreement.
They got their lungs recharged with good air, and then the cold
drove them below, and Rainey, with the length of the schooner between
him and the watch, was practically alone. He went over and over the
situation as a squirrel might race around the bars of his revolving
cylinder, and came to only one conclusion, the inevitable one, to let
the matter develop itself. Lund's winning card he had bothered about
until his brain was tired. The only thing he got out of all his fussing
was the one new thought that seemed to fly out at a tangent and mock
If Carlsen was deposed, and the skipper continued illto face the
worst but still plausibleif Carlsen, being deposed, refused to act,
and the skipper was too sick to leave his roomwho was going to
navigate the schooner? Not a blind man. And Rainey couldn't learn
navigation in a day. There was more to it in these perilous seas than
mere reckoning. Ice was ahead.
What could Lund make of that? Supposing that card of his did win,
how could they handle the schooner? He, in his capacity of eyes for
Lund, would be about as competent as a poodle trying to lead a blind
pedler out of a maze.
The lookout broke in on his mulling over with a sudden shout.
Ice! Ice! Close on the starboard bow!
Rainey put the helm over, throwing the Karluk on the opposite
The berg slipped by them, not as he had imagined it, a thing of
sparkling minarets and pinnacles, but a hill of snow that materialized
in the soft darkness and floated off again to dissolution like the
ghost of an island, leaving behind the bitter chill of death, rising
and falling until, in a moment, it was gone, with its threat of
shipwreck had the night been less clear.
Five times before eight bells the cry came from forward, and the
heaps of shining whiteness would take form, gather a certain sharpness
of outline, and go past the beam with the seas surging about them and
breaking with a hollow boom upon their cavernous sides. And this was in
the open sea. Lund had suggested that the strait would be full of ice.
Rainey felt his sailing experience, that he came to be rather proud of,
pitifully limited and inadequate in the face of coming conditions.
When he turned in at last, despite his determination to follow
Lund's admonition concerning sleep, it would not come to him. Hansen
had taken over the deck stolidly enough, with no show of misgivings as
to his ability to handle things, but his words had not been cheering to
Plenty ice from now on, Mr. Rainey. Now we bane goin' to have one
hard yob on our hands, by yiminy, you an' me!
CHAPTER IX. THE POT SIMMERS
Rainey was awakened at half past seven by the swift rush of men on
deck and a confused shouting. The sun was shining brightly through his
porthole and then it became suddenly obscured. He looked out and saw a
turreted mass of ice not half a cable's length away from the schooner,
water cascading all over its hills and valleys, that were distinct
enough, but so smoothed that the truth flashed over him. Here was a
berg that had suddenly turned turtle and exposed its greater,
under-water bulk to the air.
About it the sea was dark and vivid blue, and the berg sparkled in
the sun with prismatic reflections that gave all the hues of the
rainbow to its prominences, while the bulk glowed like a fire opal.
Between it and the schooner the sea ran in a lasher of diminishing
turmoil. Hansen had carelessly sailed too close. The momentum of the
Karluk and its slight wave disturbance must have sufficed to upset
the equilibrium of the berg, floating with only a third of its bulk
above the water. And the displacement had narrowly missed the
He got a cup of coffee after dressing warmly, and went up. Carlsen
and the girl had preceded him and were gazing at the iceberg. The
doctor seemed to be in the same rare vein of humor as overnight. Lund
stood at the rail with his beak of a nose wrinkled, snuffing toward the
icy crags that were spouting a dazzle of white flame, set about with
smaller, sudden flares of ruby, emerald and sapphire.
Close shave, that, Rainey, called Carlsen. She turned turtle on
Too close to be pleasant, said Rainey, and went to the wheel. The
girl had given him a smile, but he marked her face as weary from
sleeplessness and strain. Rainey left the spokes in charge of Hansen
for a minuteHansen stolid and chewing like an automaton, undisturbed
by the incident now it had passedand asked the girl how her father
I am afraid she began, then glanced at Carlsen.
He is not at all well, said the doctor, facing Rainey, his face
away from the girl. As he spoke he left his mouth open for a moment,
his tongue showing between his white teeth, in a grin that was as
mocking as that of a wolf, mirthless, ruthless, triumphant. And for a
fleeting second his eyes matched it.
Rainey restrained a sudden desire to smash his fist into that
sardonic mask. This was the day of Carlsen's anticipated victory, the
first of his calculated moves toward check-mate, and he was palpably
Notatallwell, repeated Carlsen slowly. He needs something
to bring him out of himself, as he now is. A little excitement. Yet he
should not be crossed in any way. We shall see.
He shifted his position and looked at the girl much as a wolf, not
particularly hungry, might look at a tethered lamb. His tongue just
touched the inner edges of his lips. It was as if the wolf had licked
Carlsen would be a bad loser, Lund had once said, and a nasty
winner. He'd want to rub it in as soon as he knew he had you beat.
Rainey gripped the spokes hard until he felt the pressure of his
bones against the wood. Carlsen's attitude had had one good effect. His
nervousness had disappeared, and a cold rage taken its place. He could
cheerfully have attempted to throttle Carlsen without fear of his gun.
For that matter, he had faced the pistol once and come off best. What a
fool he had been, though, to let Carlsen regain his automatic! Now he
was anxious for the landfall, keen for the show-down.
Far on the horizon, northward, he sighted glimmering flashes of
milky whiteness that came and went to the swing of the schooner. This
could not be land, he decided, or they would have announced it. It was
ice, pack-ice, or floes. He tried to recollect all that he had heard or
read of Arctic voyages, and succeeded only in comprehending his own
ignorance. Of the rapidly changing conditions the commonest sailor
aboard knew more than he. Blind Lund, sniffing to windward, smelled and
heard far more than he could rightfully imagine.
Tamada appeared and announced breakfast.
You'll be coming later, Rainey? asked Carlsen. You and Lund?
He started for the companionway and the girl followed. As she passed
the wheel Rainey spoke to her:
I am sorry your father is worse, Miss Simms, he said.
She looked at him with eyes that were filled with sadness, that
seemed liquid with tears bravely held back.
I am afraid he is dying, she answered in a low voice. Thank you,
for you sympathy. I
She stopped at some slight sound that Rainey did not catch. But he
saw the face of Carlsen framed in the shadow of the companion, his
mouth open in the wolf grin, and the man's eyes were gleaming crimson.
He held up a hand for the girl. She passed down without taking it.
Lund came over to Rainey.
Clear weather, they tell me? he said. That's unusual. Fog off the
Aleutians three hundred an' fifty days of the year, as a rule. Soon as
we sight land, which'll be Unalaska or thereabouts, he'll have the
course changed. There's a considerable fleet of United States revenue
cutters at Unalaska, an' Carlsen won't pull ennything until we're well
west of there. He's pretty cocky this mornin'. Wal, we'll see.
There had always been a certain rollicking good-humor about Lund.
This morning he was grim, his face, with its beak of a nose and
aggressive chin beneath the flaming whiskers, and his whole magnificent
body gave the impression of resolve and repressed action. Rainey
fancied whimsically that he could hear a dynamo purring inside of the
giant's massiveness. He had seen him in open rage when he had first
denounced Honest Simms, but the serious mood was far more impressive.
The big man stepped like a great cat, his head was thrust slightly
forward, his great hands were half open. One forgot his blindness.
Despite the unsightly black lenses, Lund appeared so absolutely
prepared and, in a different way, fully as confident as Carlsen. A
certain audacious assurance seemed to ooze out of him, to permeate his
neighborhood, and a measure of it extended to Rainey.
We'll sight Makushin first, muttered Lund, as if to himself.
Volcano, fifty-seven hundred feet high. Much ice in sight?
Rainey described the horizon.
All fresh-water ice, said Lund. An' melting.
Melting? It must be way below freezing, said Rainey. Lund
This ain't cold, matey. Wait till we git north. Never saw it
lower than five above in Unalaska in my life. It's the rainiest spot in
the U. S. A. Rains two days out of three, reg'lar. This ice is comin'
out of the strait. Sure sign it's breakin' up. The winter freeze ain't
due for six weeks yet.
Carlsen, before he went below, had sent a man into the
fore-spreaders, and now he shouted, cupping his hands and sounding his
news as if it had been a call to arms.
What is it? called Rainey back.
High peak, sir. Dead ahead! Clouds on it, or smoke.
He came sliding down the halyards to the deck as Lund said: That'll
be Makushin. Now the fun'll commence.
From below the sailors off watch came up on deck, and the hunters,
the latter wiping their mouths, fresh from their interrupted breakfast,
all crowding forward to get a glimpse of the land. Rainey kept on the
course, heading for the far-off volcano. Minutes passed before Carlsen
came on deck. He had not hurried his meal.
I'll take her over, Rainey, he said briefly.
Rainey and Lund were barely seated before the heeling of the
schooner and the scuffle of feet told of Lund's prophesied change of
course. Rainey looked at the telltale compass above his head.
Heading due west, he told Lund.
West it is, said the giant. More coffee, Tamada. Fill your belly,
Rainey. Get a good meal while the eatin' is good.
Although it was Hansen's watch below, Rainey found him at the wheel
instead of the seaman he had left there. Carlsen came up to him
Better let Hansen have the deck, Mr. Rainey, he said. We're going
to have a conference in the cabin at four bells, and I'd like you to be
All right, sir, Rainey answered, getting a thrill at this first
actual intimation of the meeting. Hansen, it seemed, was not to be one
of the representatives of the seamen. And Carlsen had been smart enough
to forestall Lund's demand for Rainey by taking some of the wind out of
the giant's sails and doing the unexpected. Unless the hunters had
suggested that Rainey be present. But that was hardly likely,
considering that he was to be left out of the deal.
In just what capacity are you callin' this conference? Lund asked,
when Carlsen notified him in turn. The skipper ain't dead is he?
I represent the captain, Lund, replied the doctor. He entirely
approves of what I am about to suggest to you and the men. In fact I
have his signature to a document that I hope you will sign also. It
will be greatly to your interest to do so. I am in present charge of
You ain't a reg'lar member of this expedition, objected Lund
stolidly. Neither am I a member of the crew, just now. But the
skipper's my partner in this deal, signed, sealed and recorded. Afore I
go to enny meetin' I'd like to have a talk with him personally. Thet's
fair enough, ain't it?
Several of the hunters had gathered about, and Lund's question
seemed a general appeal. Carlsen shrugged his shoulders.
If you had your eyesight, he said almost brutally, you could soon
see that the skipper was in no condition to discuss matters, much less
Here's my eyesight, countered Lund. Mr. Rainey here. Let him see
the skipper and ask him a question or two.
What kind of question? I'm asking as his doctor, Lund.
For one thing if he's read the paper you say he signed. I want to
be sure of that. An' I don't make it enny of yore bizness, Carlsen,
what I want to say to my partner, by proxy or otherwise. Second thing,
I'd like to be sure he's still alive. As for yore standin' as his
doctor, all I've got to say is that yo're a damned pore doctor, so fur
as the skipper's concerned, ennyway.
The two men stood facing each other, Carlsen looking evilly at the
giant, whose black glasses warded off his glance. It was wasting looks
to glare at a blind man. Equally to sneer. But the bout between the two
was timed now, and both were casting aside any veneer of diplomacy,
their enmity manifesting itself in the raw. The issue was growing
Rainey fancied that Carlsen was not entirely sure of his following,
and relied upon Lund's indignant refusal of terms to back up his plans
of getting rid of him decisively.
CHAPTER X. THE SHOW-DOWN
Rainey can see the skipper, said Carlsen carelessly.
All right, said Lund. Will you do that, Rainey? Now? And Rainey
had a fleeting fancy that the giant winked one of his blind eyes at
him, though the black lenses were deceiving.
He went below immediately and rapped on the door, a little surprised
to see the girl appear in the opening. He had expected to find the
skipper alone, and he was pretty sure that Carlsen had also expected
this. The drawn expression of her face, the strained faint smile with
which she greeted him, the hopeless look in her eyes, startled him.
I wanted to see your father, he said in a low voice.
She told him to enter.
Captain Simms was lying in his bunk, apparently fully dressed, with
the exception of his shoes. His cheeks had sunken, dark hollows showed
under his closed eyes, the bones of his skull projected, and his flesh
was the color of clay. Rainey believed that he was in the presence of
death itself. He looked at the girl.
He is in a stupor, she said. He has been that way since last
night, following a collapse. I can barely find his pulse, but his
breath shows on this.
She produced a small mirror, little larger than a dollar, and held
it before her father's lips. When she took it away Rainey saw a trace
Carlsen can not rouse him? he asked.
Can notor will not, she answered in a voice that held a hard
quality for all its despondency. Rainey glanced at the door. It was
What do you mean by that? he asked, speaking low.
She looked at him as if measuring his dependency.
I don't know, she answered dully. I wish I did. Father's illness
started with sciatica, through exposure to the cold and damp. It was
better during the time the Karluk was in San Francisco though he
had some severe attacks. He said that Doctor Carlsen gave him relief. I
know that he did, for there were days at first when father had to stay
in bed from the pain. It was in his left leg, and then it showed in
frightful headaches, and he complained of pain about the heart. But he
was bent on the voyage, and Doctor Carlsen guaranteed he could pull him
through. Butlatelythe doctor has seemed uncertain. He talks of
perverted nerve functions, and he has obtained a tremendous influence
You heard what he said whenthe night he tried to shoot you? You
see, I am trusting you in all this, Mr. Rainey. I must trust
some one. If I don't I can't stand it. I think I shall go mad
sometimes. The doctor has changed. It is as if he was a dual
personalitylike Jekyll and Hydeand now he is always Hyde. It is the
gold that has turned his brain, his whole behavior from what he was in
California before father returned and he learned of the island. He said
last night that he could save father ororthat he would let father
die. I told him it was sheer murder! He laughed. He said he would save
himfor a price.
She stopped, and Rainey supplied the gap, sure that he was right.
If you would marry him?
The girl nodded. Father will do anything he tells him. I sometimes
think he tortures father and only relieves him when father promises
what he wants. Otherwise I could not understand. Last night father
asked me to do this thing. Not because of any threathe did not seem
conscious of anything underhanded. He told me he looked upon the doctor
as a son, that it would make him happy for me to marry himnow. That
he would perform the ceremony. That he did not think he would live long
and he wanted to see me with a protector.
It was horrible. I dare not hint anything against the doctor. It
brings on a nervous attack. Last night my refusal caused convulsions,
and thenthe collapse! What can I do? If I made the sacrifice how can
I tell that Doctor Carlsen couldwould save him? What shall I
She was in an agony of self-questioning, of doubt.
To see him lie therelike that. I can not bear it.
Miss Simms, said Rainey, your father is not in his right mind or
he would see Carlsen as you do, as I do. Carlsen's brain is turned with
the lure of the gold. If he marries you, I believe it is only for your
share, for what you will get from your father. It can not be right to
do a wrong thing. No good could come from it. Butsomething may happen
this morningI can not tell you what. I do not know, except that Lund
is to face Carlsen. It may change matters.
Lund, she said scornfully. What can he do? And he accused my
father of deserting him. I
A knock came at the door, and it started to open. Carlsen entered.
Ah, he said. I trust I have not disturbed you. I had no idea I
should interrupt a tête-á-tête. Are you satisfied as to the captain's
condition, Mr. Rainey?
Rainey looked the scoffing devil full in his eyes, and hot scorn
mounted to his own so swiftly that Carlsen's hand fell away from the
door jamb toward his hip. Then he laughed softly.
We may be able to bring him round, all right again, who knows? he
Rainey went on deck, raging but impotent. He told Lund briefly of
the talk between him and Peggy Simms, and described the general
symptoms of the skipper's strange malady. It was nine o'clock, an hour
to the meeting. He went down to his own room and sat on the bunk,
smoking, trying to piece up the puzzle. If Carlsen was a potential
murderer, if he intended to let Simms die, why should he want to marry
the girl? He thought he solved that issue.
As his wife Carlsen would retain her share. If he gave her up, it
would go into the common purse. But, if he expected to trick the men
out of it all, that would be unnecessary. Did he really love the girl?
Or was his lust for gold mingled with a passion for possession of her?
He might know that the girl would kill herself before she would submit
to dishonor. Perhaps he knew she had the means!
One thing became paramount. To save Peggy Simms. Lund might fight
for the gold; Rainey would battle for the girl's sanctity. And, armed
with that resolve, Rainey went out into the main cabin.
Carlsen took the head of the table. Lund faced him at the other end.
All six of the hunters, as privileged characters, were present, but
only three of the seamen, awkward and diffident at being aft. The nine,
with Rainey, ranged themselves on either side of the table, five and
five, with Rainey on Lund's right.
Tamada had brought liquor and glasses and cigars, and gone forward.
The door between the main cabin and the corridor leading to the galley
was locked after him by Deming. The girl was not present. Yet her share
was an important factor.
Lund sat with folded arms, his great body relaxed. Now that the
table was set, the cards all dealt, and the first play about to be
made, the giant shed his tenseness. Even his grim face softened a
trifle. He seemed to regard the affair with a certain amount of humor,
coupled with the zest of a gambler who loves the game whether the
stakes are for death or dollars.
Carlsen had a paper under his hand, but deferred its reading until
he had addressed the meeting.
A ship, he said, is a little community, a world in itself. To its
safety every member is a necessity, the lookout as much as the man at
the wheel, the common seaman, the navigator. And, when a ship is
engaged in a certain calling, those who are hired as experts in that
line are equally essential with the rest.
All the way from captain tocook? drawled Lund.
Each depends upon his comrade's fulfilment of duty, went on
Carlsen. So an absolute equality is evolved. Each man's responsibility
being equal, his reward should be also equal. It seems to me that this
status of affairs is arrived at more naturally aboard the Karluk
than it might be elsewhere. We are a small company, and not easily
divided. The will of the majority may easily become that of all, may
easily be applied.
Payment for all services comes on this voyage from an uncertain
amount of gold that Nature, Mother of us all, and therefore intending
that all her children shall share her heritage, has washed up on a
beach from some deep-sea vein and thus deposited upon an uncharted,
unclaimed island. It is discovered by an Indian, the discovery is
handed on to another.
Meanin' me. Lund seemed to be enjoying himself. Despite the fact
that Carlsen was presiding and most evidently assumed the attributes of
leader, despite the fact that ten of the twelve at the table were
arrayed against him, with the rest of the seamen behind them, Lund was
decidedly enjoying himself.
To Rainey, the matter of the gold was but a mask for the license
that would inevitably be manifested in such a crude democracy if it was
established, a license that threatened the girl, now, he imagined,
watching her father, the captain of the vessel, tottering on the verge
of death. His pulses raced, he longed for the climax.
This gold, went on Carlsen, is not a commodity made in a factory,
obtained through the toil of others, through the expenditure of
capital. If it were, it would not alter the principle of the thing. It
is of nature's own providing for those of her sons who shall find it
and gather it. Sons that, as brothers, must willingly share and share
Lund yawned, showing his strong teeth and the red cavern of his
mouth. The hunters gazed at him curiously. The seamen, lacking
initiative, lacking imagination, a crude collection of water-front
drifters, more or less wrecked specimens of humanity who went to sea
because they had no other capacitywere apathetic, listening to
Carlsen with a sort of awe, a hypnosis before his argument that street
rabble exhibit before the jargon of a soap-box orator.
Carlsen promised them something, therefore they followed him. But
the hunters, more independent, more intelligent, seemed expecting an
outburst from Lund and, because it was not forthcoming, they were a
Share and share alike, said Lund. I've got yore drift, Carlsen.
Let's get down to brass tacks. The idea is to divvy the gold into equal
parts, ain't it? How does she split? There's twenty-five souls aboard.
Does that mean you split the heap into a hundred parts an' each one
No. It was Deming who answered. It don't. The Jap don't come in,
A cook ain't a brother?
Not when he's got a yellow skin, answered Deming. We'll take up a
collection for Sandy. Rainey ain't in on the deal. We split it just
twenty-two ways. What have you got to say about it?
His tone was truculent, and Carlsen did not appear disposed to check
him. He appeared not quite certain of the temper of the hunters.
Deming, like Rainey, evidently chafed under the preliminaries.
You figger we're all equal aboard, said Lund slowly, leavin' out
Mr. Rainey, Tamada an' Sandy. You an' me, an' Carlsen an' Harris
therehe nodded toward one of the seaman delegates who listened with
his slack mouth agape, scratching himself under the armpitare all
Deming cast a glance at Harris and, for just a moment, hesitated.
Harris squirming under the look of Deming, which was aped by the
sudden scrutiny of all the hunters, found speech: How in hell did you
know I was here? he demanded of Lund. I ain't opened my mouth yit!
That ain't the truth, Harris, replied Lund composedly. It's allus
open. But if you want to know, I smelled ye.
There was a guffaw at the sally. Carlsen's voice stopped it.
I'll answer the question, Lund. Yes, we're all equal. The world is
not a democracy. Harris, so far, hasn't had a chance to get the equal
share that belongs to him by rights. That's what I meant by saying that
the Karluk was a little world of its own. We're all equal on
Except Rainey, Tamada an' Sandy. Seems to me yore argumint's got
holes in it, Carlsen.
We are waiting to know whether you agree with us? replied Carlsen.
His voice had altered quality. It held the direct challenge. Lund
I don't, he answered dryly. There ain't enny one of you my equal,
an' you've showed it. There ain't enny one of you, from Carlsen to
Harris, who'd have the nerve to put it up to me alone. You had to band
together in a pack, like a flock of sheep, with Carlsen for
sheepherder. I'm talking, he went on in a tone that suddenly
leaped to thunder. None of you have got the brains of Carlsen, becoz
he had to put this scheme inter yore noddles. Deming, you think yo're a
better man than Harris, you know damn' well you play better poker than
the rest, an' you agreed to this becoz you figger you'll win most of
the gold afore the v'yage is over. The rest of you suckers listened
becoz some one tells you you are goin' to get more than what's rightly
comin' to you.
This gold is mine by right of discovery. I lose my ship through bad
luck, an' I make a deal whereby the skipper gets the same as I do, an'
the ship, which is the same as his daughter, gets almost as much. You
men were offered a share on top of yore wages if you wanted to take the
chancetwo shares to the hunters. It was damned liberal, an' you
grabbed at it. I got left on the ice, blind on a breakin' floe, an' you
sailed off an' grabbed a handful or so of gold, enough to set you
What in blazes would you know what to do with it, enny of you?
Spill it all along the Barb'ry Coast, or gamble it off to Deming. Is
there one of you 'ud have got off thet floe an', blind as I was, turned
up ag'in? Not one of ye. An' when I did show you got sore becoz
you'd figgered there 'ud be more with me away.
A fine lot of skunks. You can take yore damned bit of paper an'
light yore pipes with it, for all of me. To hell with it!
Shut up! His voice topped the murmurs at the table. Rainey
saw Carlsen sitting back with his tongue-tip showing in a grin, tapping
the table with the folded paper in one hand, the other in his lap,
leaning back a little. He was like a man waiting for the last bet to be
made before he exposed the winning hand.
As for bein' equal, I've told you Carlsen's got the brains of you
all. The skipper's dyin', Carlsen expects to marry his gal. An' he
figgers thet way on pullin' down three shares to yore one. You say
Rainey ain't in on the deal. He's as much so as Carlsen. Carlsen butts
in as a doctor an' a fine job he's made of it. Skipper nigh dead. A
hell of a doctor! Smoke up, all of you.
Carlsen sat quiet, sometimes licking his lips gently, listening to
Lund as he might have listened to the rantings of a melodramatic actor.
But Rainey sensed that he was making a mistake. He was letting Lund go
too far. The men were listening to Lund, and he knew that the giant was
talking for a specific purpose. Just to what end he could not guess.
The big booming voice held them, while it lashed them.
Equal to me? Bah! I'm a man. Yo're a lot of fools. Talk
about me bein' blind. It was ice-blink got me. Then ophthalmy matterin'
up my eyes. It's gold-blink's got you. Yo're cave-fish, a lot of blind
He leaned over the table pointing a massive square finger, thatched
with red wool, direct at Carlsen, as if he had been leveling a weapon.
Carlsen's a fake! He's got you hipped. He thinks he's boss, becoz
he's the only navigator of yore crowd. I ain't overlooked that card,
Carlsen. That ain't the only string he's got on ye. Nor the three
shares he expects to pull down. He made you pore suckers fire off all
your shells; he found out you ain't got a gun left among you that's
enny more use than a club. He's got a gun an' he showed you how he
could use it. He's sittin' back larfin' at the bunch of you!
The men stirred. Rainey saw Carlsen's grin disappear. He dropped the
paper. His face paled, the veins showed suddenly like purple veins in
I've got that gun yet, Lund, he snarled.
Lund laughed, the ring of it so confident that the men glanced from
him to Carlsen nervously.
Yo're a fake, Carlsen, he said. And I've got yore number! To hell
with you an' yore popgun. You ain't even a doctor. I saw real doctors
ashore about my eyes. Niphablepsia, they call snow-blindness. I'll bet
you never heard of it. Yo're only a woman-conning dope-shooter! Else
you'd have known that niphablepsia ain't permanent! I've bin'
gettin' my sight back ever sence I left Seattle. An' now, damn you for
a moldy hearted, slimy souled fakir, stand up an' say yo're my equal!
He stood up himself, towering above the rest as they rose from their
chairs, tearing the black glasses from his eyes and flinging them at
Carlsen, who was forced to throw up a hand to ward them off. Rainey got
one glimpse of the giant's eyes. They were gray-blue, the color of
agate-ware, hard as steel, implacable.
Carlsen swept aside the spectacles and they shattered on the floor
as he leaped up and the automatic shone in his hand. Lund had folded
his arms above his great chest. He laughed again, and his arms opened.
In an instant Rainey caught the object of Lund's speech-making. He
had done it to enrage Carlsen beyond endurance, to make him draw his
gun. Giant as he was, he moved with the grace of a panther, with a
swiftness too fast for the eye to register. Something flashed in his
right hand, a gun, that he had drawn from a holster slung over his left
The shots blended. Lund stood there erect, uninjured. A red blotch
showed between Carlsen's eyes. He slumped down into his chair, his arms
clubbing the table, his gun falling from his nerveless hand, his
forehead striking the wood like the sound of an auctioneer's gavel.
Lund had beaten him to the draw.
Lund, no longer a blind Samson, with contempt in his agate eyes,
surveyed the scattering group of men who stared at the dead man dully,
as if gripped by the exhibition of a miracle.
It's all right, Miss Simms, he said. Jest killed a skunk. Rainey,
git that gun an' attend to the young lady, will you?
The girl stood in the doorway of her father's cabin, her face frozen
to horror, her eyes fixed on Lund with repulsion. As Rainey got the
automatic, slipped it into his pocket, and went toward her, she shrank
from him. But her voice was for Lund.
You murderer! she cried.
Lund grinned at her, but there was no laughter in his eyes.
We'll thrash that out later, miss, he said. Now, you men, jump
for'ard, all of you. Deming, unlock that door. Jump! Equals, are
you? I'll show you who's master on this ship. Wait!
His voice snapped like the crack of a whip and they all halted, save
Deming, who sullenly fitted the key to the lock of the corridor
Take this with you, said Lund, pointing to Carlsen's sagging body.
When you git tired of his company, throw him overboard. Jump to it!
The nearest men took up the body of the doctor and they all filed
forward, silently obedient to the man who ordered them.
They ain't all whipped yit, said Lund. Not them hunters. They're
still sufferin' from gold-blink, but I'll clean their eyesight for 'em.
Look after the lady an' her father, Rainey.
Tamada entered as if nothing had happened. He carried a tray of
dishes and cutlery that he laid down on the table.
Never mind settin' a place for Carlsen, Tamada, said Lund. He's
lost his appetitepermanent. The Oriental's face did not change.
Yes, sir, he answered.
The girl shuddered. Rainey saw that Lund was exhilarated by his
victory, that the primitive fighting brute was prominent. Carlsen had
tried to shoot first, goaded to it; his death was deserved; but it
seemed to Rainey that Lund's exhibition of savagery was unnecessary.
But he also saw that Lund would not heed any protest that he might
make, he was still swept on by his course of action, not yet complete.
I'll borrow Carlsen's sextant, said Lund. Nigh noon, an' erbout
time I got our reckonin'. He went into the doctor's cabin and came out
with the instrument, tucking it under his arm as he went on deck.
Tamada went stolidly on with his preparations. He paused at the
little puddle of blood where Carlsen's head had struck the table,
turned, and disappeared toward his galley, promptly emerging with a wet
The girl put her hands over her eyes as Tamada methodically mopped
up the telltale stains.
The brute! she said. Then took away her hands and extended them
What will he do with my father? she said. He thinks that dad
deserted him. And the doctor, who might have saved him, is dead. My
God, what shall I do? What shall I do?
Rainey found himself murmuring some attempts at consolation, a
defense of Lund.
You too? she said with a contempt that, unmerited as it was, stung
Rainey to the quick. You are on his side. Oh!
She wheeled into her father's room and shut the door. Rainey heard
the click of the bolt on the other side. Tamada was going on with his
table-laying. Rainey saw that he had left Carlsen's place vacant. He
listened for a moment, but heard nothing within the skipper's cabin.
The swift rush of events was still a jumble. Slowly he went up the
companionway to the deck.
CHAPTER XI. HONEST SIMMS
Lund greeted Rainey with a curt nod. Hansen was still at the helm.
The crew on duty were standing about alert, their eyes on Lund. They
had found a new master, and they were cowed, eager to do their best.
It ain't noon yet, said Lund. I hardly need to shoot the sun with
the land that close.
Rainey looked over the starboard bow to where a series of peaks and
lower humps of dark blue proclaimed the Aleutian island bridge
stretching far to the west.
I'll show this crew they've got a skipper aboard, said Lund.
How's the cap'en?
Rainey told him.
We'll see what we can do for him, said Lund. He's better off
without that fakir, that's a cinch. Called me a murderer, he went on
with a good-humored laugh. Got spunk, she has. And she's a trim bit. A
slip of a gal, but she's game. An' good-lookin' eh, Rainey?
He shot a keen glance at the newspaperman.
You're in her bad hooks, too, ain't ye? We'll fix that after a bit.
She don't know when she's well off. Most wimmin don't. An' she's the
sort that needs handlin' right. She's upset now, natural, an' she hates
He smiled as if the prospect suited him. A suspicion leaped into
Rainey's brain. Lund had said he would not see a decent girl harmed.
But the man was changed. He had fought and won, and victory shone in
his eyes with a glitter that was immune from sympathy, for all his air
He had said that a man under his skin was just an animal. His
appraisal of the girl struck Rainey with apprehension. To the victor
belong the spoils. Somehow the quotation persisted. What if Lund
regarded the girl as legitimate loot? He might have talked differently
beforehand, to assure himself of Rainey's support.
And Rainey suddenly felt as if his support had been uncalled upon, a
frail reed at best. Lund had not needed him, would he need him, save as
an aid, not altogether necessary, with Hansen aboard, to run the ship?
He said nothing, but thrust both hands into the side pockets of the
pilot coat he had acquired from the ship's stores. The sudden touch of
cold steel gave him new courage. He had sworn to protect the girl. If
Lund, seeming more like a pirate than ever, with his cold eyes sweeping
the horizon, his bulk casting Rainey's into a dwarf's by comparison,
attempted to harm Peggy Simms, Rainey resolved to play the part of
He could not shoot like Lund, but he was armed. There were
undoubtedly more cartridges in the clip. And he must secure the rest
from Carlsen's cabin immediately.
The sun reached its height, and Lund busied himself with his
sextant. Rainey determined to ask him to teach him the use of it. His
consent or refusal would tell him where he stood with Lund.
He felt the mastery of the man. And he felt incompetent beside him.
Carlsen had been right. A ship at sea was a little world of its own,
and Lund was now lord of it. A lord who would demand allegiance and
enforce it. He held the power of life and death, not by brute force
alone. He was the only navigator aboard, with the skipper seriously
ill. As such alone he held them in his hand, once they were out of
sight of land.
Hansen, said Lund, Mr. Rainey'll relieve you after we've eaten.
Come on, Rainey. You ain't lost yore appetite, I hope. Watch me discard
that spoon for a knife an' fork. I don't have to play blind man enny
Food did not appeal to Rainey. He could not help thinking of the
spot under the cloth where Tamada had wiped up the blood of the man
just killed by Lund, sitting opposite him, making play for a double
helping of victuals.
It was Lund's apparent callousness that affected him more than his
own squeamishness. He could not regret Carlsen's death. With the doctor
alive, his own existence would have been a constant menace. But he was
not used to seeing a killing, though, in his water-front detail, he had
not been unacquainted with grim tragedies of the sea.
It was Lund's demeanor that gripped him. The giant had dismissed
Carlsen as unceremoniously as he might have flipped the ash from a
cigar, or tossed the stub overside.
I've got to tackle those hunters, Lund said. I expect trouble
there, sooner or later. But I'm goin' to lay down the law to 'em. If
they come clean, well an' good, they git their original two shares. If
not, they don't get a plugged nickel. An' Deming's the one who'll stir
up the trouble, take it from me. Tell Hansen to turn in his watch-off,
I shan't take a deck for a day or two, you'll have to go on handlin' it
between you. I've got to make my peace with the gal, an' do what I can
with the skipper.
She'll not make peace easily. But the skipper's in a bad way.
Lund lit his pipe.
I'd jest as soon it was war. I don't see as we can help the skipper
much 'less we try reverse treatment of what Carlsen did. If we knew
what that was? If he gits worse she'll let us know, I reckon. Mebbe you
can suggest somethin'?
Rainey shook his head.
I suppose she can do more than any of us, he said.
Lund nodded, then whistled to Tamada, leaving the cabin.
Take a bottle of whisky to the hunters' mess, with my compliments.
That'll give 'em about three jolts apiece, he said to Rainey. Long as
we've won out we may as well let 'em down easy. But they'll work for
their shares, jest the same. A drink or two may help 'em swaller what
I'm goin' to give 'em by way of dessert in the talkin' line. See you
Rainey took the dismissal and went up to the relief of Hansen. He
did not mention what had happened until the Scandinavian referred to it
They put the doc overboard, sir, soon's Mr. Lund an' you bane go
It seemed a summary dismissal of the dead, without ceremony. Yet,
for the rite to be authentic, Lund must have presided, and the
sea-burial service would have been a mockery under the circumstances.
It was the best thing to have done, Rainey felt, but he could not avoid
a mental shiver at the thought of the man, so lately vital, his brain
alive with energy, sliding through the cold water to the ooze to lie
there, sodden, swinging with the sub-sea currents until the ocean
scavengers claimed him.
All right, Hansen, he said in answer, and the man hurried off
after his extra detail.
Lund came up after a while, and Rainey told him of the fate of
I figgered they'd do about that, commented Lund. They savvied
he'd aimed to make suckers out of 'em, an' they dumped him. But they
ain't on our side, by a long sight. Not that I give a damn. If they
want to sulk, let 'em sulk. But they'll stand their watches, an', when
we git to the beach, they'll do their share of diggin'. If they need
drivin', I'll drive 'em.
That Deming is a better man than I thought. He's the main grouch
among 'em. Said if I hadn't had a gun he'd have tackled me in the
cabin. Meant it, too, though I'd have smashed him. He's sore becoz I
said he warn't my equal. I told him, enny time he wanted to try it out,
I'd accommodate him. He didn't take it up, an' they'll kid him about
it. He'll pack a grudge. I ain't afraid of their knifin' me, not while
the skipper's sick. They need me to navigate.
This might be a good chance for me to handle a sextant, suggested
Lund shook his head, smiling, but his eyes hard.
Not yet, matey, he said. Not that I don't trust you, but for me
to be the only one, jest now, is a sort of life insurance that suits me
to carry. They might figger, if you was able to navigate, that they
c'ud put the screws on you to carry 'em through, with me out of the
way. I don't say they could, but they might make it hard for you, an'
you ain't got quite the same stake in this I have.
Here was cold logic, but Rainey saw the force of it. Hansen came up
early to split the watch and put their schedule right again, and Lund
went below with Rainey. Lund ordered Tamada to bring a bottle and
glasses, and they sat down at the table. Rainey needed the kick of a
drink, and took one.
As Lund was raising his glass with a toast of Here's to luck, the
skipper's door opened and the girl appeared. She looked like a ghost.
Her hair was disheveled and her eyes stared at them without seeming
recognition. But she spoke, in a flat toneless voice.
My father is dead! I she faltered, swayed, and seemed to swoon
as she sank toward the floor. Rainey darted forward, but Lund was
quicker and swooped her up in his arms as if she had been a feather,
took her to the table, set her in a chair, dabbled a napkin in some
water and applied it to her brows.
Chafe her wrists, he ordered Rainey. Undo that top button of her
blouse. That's enough; she ain't got on corsets. She'll come through.
Plumb worn out. That's all.
He handled her, deftly, as a nurse would a child. Rainey chafed the
slender wrists and beat her palms, and soon she opened her eyes and
sighed. Then she pulled away from Lund, bending over her, and got to
I must go to my father, she said. He is dead.
They followed her into the cabin, and Lund bent over the bunk.
Looks like it, he whispered to Rainey. Then he tore open the
skipper's vest and shirt and laid his head on his chest. The girl made
a faint motion as if to stop him, but did not hinder him. She was at
the end of her own strength from weariness and worry. Lund suddenly
raised his head.
There's a flutter, he announced. He ain't gone yit. Get Tamada
an' some brandy.
The Japanese, by some intuition, was already on hand, and produced
the brandy. Rainey poured out a measure. The captain's teeth were
tightly clenched. Lund spraddled one great hand across his jaws,
pressing at their junction, forcing them apart, firmly, but gently
enough, while Rainey squeezed in a few drops of brandy from the corner
of his soaked handkerchief. Lund stroked the sick man's throat, and he
More brandy, ordered Lund.
With the next dose there came signs of revival, a low moan from the
skipper. The girl flew to his side. Tamada, standing by with the
bottle, stepped forward, handed the brandy to Rainey, and rolled up the
lid of an eye, looking closely at the pupil.
I study medicine at Tokio, he said.
Why didn't ye say so before? demanded Lund. It did not occur to
any of them to doubt Tamada's word. There was an air of professional
assurance and an efficiency about him that carried weight. What can
you do for him? There's a medicine chest in Carlsen's room.
I was hired to cook, said Tamada quietly. I should not have been
permit to interfere. It is not my business if a white man makes a fool
of himself. Now we want morphine and hypodermic syringe.
Tamada rolled up the captain's sleeve. The flesh, shrunken, pallid,
was closely spotted with dot-like scars that showed livid, as if the
captain had been suffering from some strange rash.
Lund whistled softly. Rainey, too, knew what it meant. The skipper
had been a veritable slave to the drug. Carlsen had administered it,
prescribed it, used it as a means to bring Simms under his subjection.
The girl looked strangely at Tamada.
Would he have taken that for sciatica? she asked.
I think, perhaps, yes. Injection over muscle gives relief.
Sometimes makes cure. But Captain Simms take too much. Suppose this
supply cut off very suddenly, then come too much chills, maybe
collapse, maybe The girl clutched his arm.
You meant more than you said. It might mean death?
I don't know, replied Tamada gravely. Perhaps, if now we have
morphine, presently we give him smaller dose every time, it will be all
right. He lifted up the sick man's hand and examined the nails
critically. They were broken, brittle.
Rainey had gone to Carlsen's room in search of the drug and the
How much d'ye suppose he took at once? Lund asked the Japanese in
a low voice.
Fifteen grains, I think. Maybe more. Too much! Always too much drug
in his veins. Much worse than opium for man.
Carlsen's work, growled Lund. Increased the stuff on him till he
couldn't do without it. Made him a slave to dope an' Carlsen his boss.
He deserved killin' jest for that, the skunk.
Rainey frantically searched through the medicine chest and, finding
only five tablets marked Morphine 1 gr. in a bottle, sought
elsewhere in vain. And he could find no needle. But he ran across some
automatic cartridges and put them in his pockets before he hurried
This is not enough, said Tamada. And we should have needle. But I
dissolve these in galley. And he hurried out. The girl had slipped
down on her knees beside the bed, holding her father's hand against her
lips, her eyes closed. She seemed to be praying.
Rainey and Lund looked at each other. Rainey was trying to recall
something. It came at last, the memory of Carlsen slipping something in
his pocket as he had come out of the captain's room. That had been the
hypodermic case! As the thought lit up' his eyes he saw a flash in
Carlsen had the morphine on him, said Lund in a whisper, not to
disturb the girl.
And the needle! said Rainey. What if? He raced out of the cabin
forward, passing Tamada, coming out of the galley with the dissolved
tablets in a glass that steamed with hot water. Swiftly he told his
They may have searched him first, he said, and went on to the
hunters' cabin. They were seated about their table, talking. On seeing
Rainey they stopped abruptly and viewed him suspiciously. Deming rose.
What's the idea? he asked and his tone was not friendly.
Rainey hurriedly explained. Deming shrugged his shoulders.
They sewed him up in canvas in the fo'k'le, he said indifferently.
None of us went through him. I think they made the kid do the job.
Rainey found Sandy in his bunk, asleep, trying to get one of the
catnaps by which he made up his lack of definitely assigned rest. The
roustabout woke with a shudder, flinching under Rainey's hand.
They made me do it, he said in answer. None of 'em 'ud touch it
till I had it sewed in an old staysail, an' a boatkedge tied on for
weight. I didn't go inter his pockets. I was scared to touch it more'n
I had to.
Is that the truth, Sandy? I don't care what you took besides this
little case and a bottle of tablets. You can keep the rest.
It's the bloody truth, Mister Rainey, s'elp me, whined Sandy. And
the truth was in his shifty eyes.
Rainey went back with his news. He imagined that the five grains
would prove temporarily sufficient. And they could put in for Unalaska.
There were surgeons there with the revenue fleet. He thought there was
probably a hospital.
They would have to explain Carlsen's death. They would be asked
about the purpose of the voyage, the crew examined. It might mean
detention, the defeat of the expedition, the very thing that Lund had
feared, the following of them to the island. He wondered how Lund would
take to the plan.
He found that Tamada had administered the morphine. Already the
beneficial results were apparent. The dry, frightfully sallow skin had
changed and Simms was breathing freely while Tamada, feeling his pulse,
nodded affirmatively to the girl's questioning glance.
Got it? asked Lund.
Rainey gave the result of his search.
We'll have to put in to Unalaska, he said. There are doctors
there. The girl turned toward Lund. He smiled at the intensity of her
gaze and pose.
I play fair, Miss Peggy, he said. Rainey, change the course.
Peggy Simms seized Lund's great paw in both her hands, and, for the
first time, the tears overflowed her eyes. The Karluk came about
as Rainey reached the deck and gave his orders. Then he returned to the
cabin. The captain had opened his eyes.
Peggy! he murmured. Carlsen, where is he? Lund! Good God, Lund,
you can see?
Keep quiet as you can, said Tamada. Something in his voice made
the skipper shift his look to the Japanese.
Where's Carlsen? he asked again.
He can't come now, said Tamada.
Under the urge of the drug the skipper's brain seemed abnormally
clear, his intuition heightened.
Carlsen's dead? he asked. Then, shifting to Lund. You killed him,
How much morphine did you give me?
It's not enough. It won't last. There isn't any more? he
flashed out, with sudden energy, trying to raise himself.
We're puttin' in for Unalaska, Simms, said Lund.
'Bout seventy miles.
Then it's too late. Too late. The pain's shifted of lateto my
heart. It'll get me presently.
The girl darted a look of hate at Lund, an accusation that he met
composedly, swift as the change had come from the almost reverence with
which she had clasped his hand.
I'll be gone in an hour or two, said the skipper. Got to talk
while this lasts. Jimabout leavin' you that time. I could have come
back. I had words about itwith Hansen. He knows. But the gale was
bad, an' the ice. It wasn't the gold, Jim. I swear it. I had the ship
an' crew to look out for. An' Peggy, at home.
I might have gone back sooner, Jim, I'll own up to that. But it
wasn't the gold that did it. An'I didn't hear what you shouted, Jim.
The storm came up. We were frozen by the time we found the ship. Numb.
Then, then; oh, God, my heart! He sat upright, clutching at his
chest, his face convulsed with spasms of pain. Tamada got some brandy
between the chattering teeth. Sweat poured out on the skipper's
forehead, and he sank back, exhausted but temporarily relieved. The
girl wiped his brows.
It'll get me next attack, he said presently in a weak voice. Jim,
this trouble hit me the day after we left the floe. Not sciatica, at
first, but in the head. I couldn't think right. I was just numb in the
brain. An' when it cleared off, it was too late. The ice had closed. We
couldn't go back. I read up in my medical book, Jim, later, when the
sciatica took me.
Had to take to my bunk. Couldn't stand. I had morphine, an' it
relieved me. Took too much after a while. Had to have it. Got better in
San Francisco for a bit. Then Carlsen prescribed it. Morphine was my
boss, an' then Carlsen, he was boss of the morphine. Seemed
likeseemed likeMore brandy, Tamada.
His voice was weaker when he spoke again. They came closer to catch
Carlsenmind wasn't my own. PeggyI wasn't in my right mind,
honey. Not whenCarlsenhe was angel when he gave me what I
wanteddevilwhen he wouldn't. Made medo things. But he's dead. And
I'm going. Never reach Unalaska. Peggyforgive. Meant for
bestbutnot in right mind. Jimit wasn't the gold. Not Peggy's
She'll get hers, Simms, said Lund. Yours too.
The skipper's eyes closed and his frame settled under the clothes.
The girl flung herself on the bed in uncontrollable weeping. Lund
raised his eyebrows at Tamada, who shrugged his shoulders.
Better get out o' here, whispered Lund. He and Rainey went out
together. In a few minutes Tamada joined them, his face sphinxlike as
He is dead, he said.
Rainey and Lund went on deck. The schooner thrashed toward the
volcano, the bearing-mark for Unalaska, hidden behind it. They paced up
and down in silence.
I guess he was 'Honest Simms,' after all, said Lund at last. The
gal blames me for the morphine, but Carlsen never meant him to live.
She'll see that after a bit, mebbe.
Rainey glanced at him curiously. He was getting fresh lights on
Then the girl appeared, pale, composed, coming straight up to Lund,
who halted his stride at sight of her.
Will you change the course, Mr. Lund? she said.
He looked at her in surprise.
Father spoke once more. After you left. He does not want you to go
on to Unalaska. He said it would mean a rush for the gold; perhaps you
would have to stay there. He does not want you to lose the gold. He
wants me to have my share. He made me promise. And he wantshe
wantsshe bit her lip fiercely in repression of her feelingsto be
buried at sea. That was his last request.
She turned and looked over the rail, struggling to wink back her
tears. Rainey saw the giant's glance sweep over her, full of
As you wish, Miss Peggy, he said. Hansen, 'bout ship. Hold on a
minnit. How about you, Miss Peggy? If you want to go home, we can find
ways at Unalaska. I play fair. I'll bring back yore sharein full.
I am not thinking about the gold, the girl said scornfully. But I
want to carry out my father's last wishes, if you will permit me. I
shall stay with the ship. Now I am going back to him. Youyoushe
quelled the tremble of her mouth, and her chin showed firm and
determinedyou can arrange for the funeral to-morrow at dawn, if you
will. I want him to-night.
Her face quivered piteously, but she conquered even that and walked
to the companionway.
Game, by God, game as they make 'em! said Lund.
CHAPTER XII. DEMING BREAKS AN ARM
Rainey, dozing in his bunk, going over the sudden happenings of the
day, had placed Carlsen's automatic under his pillow after loading it.
He found that it lacked four shells of full capacity, the two that Lund
had fired at his bottle target, the one fired by Carlsen at Rainey, and
the last ineffective shot at Lund, a shot that went astray, Rainey
decided, largely through Lund's coup-de-theatre of tearing off
his glasses and flinging them at the doctor.
The dynamo that he had idly fancied he could hear purring away
inside of Lund was apparent with vengeance now, driving with full
force. That was what Lund would be from now on, a driver, imperative,
relentless, overcoming all obstacles; as he had himself said, selfish
at heart, keen for his own ends.
Rainey was neither a weakling nor a coward, but he shrank from open
encounter with Lund, and knew himself, without fear, the weaker man.
The challenge of Lund, splendidly daring any one of them to come out
against him alone, and challenging them en masse, had found in
Rainey an acknowledgment of inferiority that was not merely physical.
Lund knew far more than he did about the class of men that made up
the inhabitants of the Karluk. Rainey had once fondly hugged the
delusion that he knew something of the nature of those who went down
to the sea in ships.
Now he knew that his ignorance was colossal. Such men were not
complex, they moved by instinct rather than reason, they were not
guided by conscience, the values of right and wrong were not intuitive
with them, muscle rather than mind ruled their universe.
Yet Rainey could not solve them, and Lund knew them as one may know
a favorite book.
Lund had brains, cunning, brute force that commanded a respect not
all bred of being weaker. In a way he was magnificent. And Rainey
vaguely heralded trouble when Captain Simms was at last given to the
deep. He felt certain that the hunters under Deming were hatching
something but, in the main, his mental prophecy of trouble coming was
connected with the girl.
Lund had shown no disrespect to her, rather the opposite. But the
girl showed hatred of Lund and, in minor measure, of Rainey. Some of
this would die out, naturally. Rainey intended to attempt an adjustment
in his own behalf. But he held the feeling that Lund would not tolerate
this hatred against him on the part of the girl. Such scorn would
arouse something in the giant's nature, something that would either
strike under the lash, or laugh at it.
Dimly, Rainey saw these things as the giant gropings of sex, not as
he had known it, surrounded by conventionalities, by courtesies of
twentieth-century veneering, but a law, primitive, irresistible,
sweeping away barriers and opposition, a thing bigger even than the
lust of gold; the lure of woman for man, and man for woman.
Both Lund and the girl, he felt, would have this thing in greater
measure than he would. He shared his life with too many things, with
books, with amusements, with the social ping-pong of the level in which
he ordinarily moved.
There had been once a girl, perhaps there still was a girl, whom
Rainey had known on a visit to the camp-palace of a lumber king, high
in the Sierras, a girl who rode and hunted and lived out-of-doors, and
yet danced gloriously, sang, sewed and was both feminine and masculine,
a maddening latter-day Diana, who had swept Rainey off his feet for the
But he had known that he was not up to her standards, that he was
but a paper-worm, aside from his lack of means. That latter detail
would, he knew, have bothered him far more than her. But she announced
openly that she would only mate with a man who had lived. He rather
fancied that it had been a challengeone he had not taken up. The
matrix of his own life just then was too snug a bed. Well, he was
living now, he told himself.
On the border of dreams he was brought back by a strange noise on
deck, a rush of feet, many voices, and topping them all, the bellow of
Lund, roaring, not for help, but in challenge.
Rainey, half asleep, jumped from his bunk and rushed out of the
room. He had no doubt as to what had happened; the hunters had attacked
Lund! And, unused to the possession of firearms, still drowsy, he
forgot the automatic, intent upon rallying to the cry of the giant. As
he made for the companionway, the girl came out of her father's room.
What is it? she cried.
Lundhunters! Rainey called back as he sped up the stairs. He
thought he heard a wait from her, but the stamping and yelling were
loud in his ears, and he plunged out on deck. As he emerged he saw the
stolid face of Hansen at the wheel, his pale blue eyes glancing at the
set of his canvas and then taking on a glint as they turned amidships.
Lund looked like a bear surrounded by the dog-pack. He stood upright
while the six hunters tore and smashed at him. Two had caught him by
the middle, one from the front and one from the rear, and, as the fight
raged back and forth, they were swung off their feet, bludgeoned and
kicked by Lund to stop them getting at the gun in its holster slung
under his coat close to his armpit.
Lund's arms swung like clubs, his great hands plucked at their
holds, while he roared volleys of deep-sea, defiant oaths, shaking or
striking off a man now and then, who charged back snarlingly to the
Brief though the fight had been when Rainey arrived, there was ample
evidence of it. Clothes were torn and faces bloody, and already the men
were panting as Lund dragged them here and there, flailing, striking,
half-smothered, but always coming up from under, like a rock that
emerges from the bursting of a heavy wave.
And the voice of the combat, grunts and snarls, gasping shouts and
broken curses, was the sound of ravening beasts. So far as Rainey could
vision in one swift moment before he ran forward, no knives were being
A hunter lunged out heavily and confidently to meet him as the
others got Lund to his knees for a fateful moment, piling on top of
him, bludgeoning blows with guttural cries of fancied victory.
Rainey's man struck, and the strength of his arm, backed by his
hurling weight, broke down Rainey's guard and left the arm numb. The
next instant they were at close quarters, swinging madly, rife with the
one desire to down the other, to maim, to kill. A blow crashed home on
Rainey's cheek, sending him back dazed, striking madly, clinching to
stop the piston-like smashes of the hunter clutching him, trying to
trip him, hammering at the fierce face above him as they both went down
and rolled into the scuppers, tearing at each other.
He felt the man's hands at his throat, gradually squeezing out sense
and breath and strength, and threw up his knee with all his force. It
struck the hunter fairly in the groin, and he heard the man groan with
the sudden agony. But he himself was nearly out. The man seemed to fade
away for the second, the choking fingers relaxed, and Rainey gulped for
air. His eyes seemed strained from bulging from their sockets in that
fierce grip, and there was a fog before them through which he could
hear the roar of Lund, sounding like a siren blast that told he was
still fighting, still confident.
Then he saw the hunter's face close to his again, felt the whole
weight of the man crushing him, felt the bite of teeth through cloth
and flesh, nipping down on his shoulder as the man lay on him, striving
to hold him down until he regained the strength that the blow in the
groin had temporarily broken down.
For just a moment Rainey's spirit sagged, his own strength was
spent, his will sapped, his lungs flattened. For a moment he wanted to
lie thereto quit.
Then the hunter's body tautened for action, and, at the feel,
Rainey's ebbing pride came surging back, and he heaved and twisted,
clubbing the other over his kidneys until the roll of the schooner sent
them twisting, tumbling over to the lee once more.
He felt as if he had been fighting for an hour, yet it had all taken
place during the leap of the Karluk between two long swells that
she had negotiated with a sidelong lurch to the cross seas and wind.
Rainey came up uppermost. The hunter's head struck the rail heavily.
His shoulder was free, but he could see ravelings of his coat in the
other's teeth. The pain in his shoulder was evident enough, and the
sight of the woolly fragments maddened him. The tactics of boyish
fights came back to him, and he broke loose from the arms that hugged
him, hitched forward until he sat on the hunter's chest, set a knee on
either bicep and battered at the other's face as it twisted from side
to side helplessly, making a pulp of it, keen to efface all semblance
of humanity, a brute like the rest of them, intent upon bruising, on
blood-letting, on beating all resistance down to a quivering,
The hunter lay still beneath him at last, his nerve centers
shattered by some blow that had short-circuited them, and Rainey got
wearily to his feet. The hunter's thumbs had pressed deep on each side
of his neck, and his head felt like wood for heaviness, but shot with
pain. The vigor was out of him. He knew he could not endure another
hand-to-hand battle with one of the crowd still raging about Lund, who
was on his feet again.
Rainey saw his face, one red mask of blood and hair, with his agate
eyes flaring up with the glory of the fight. He roared no longer,
saving his breath. Hands clutched for him and fists fell, a man was
tugging at each knee of his legs, set far apart, sturdy as the masts
Lund's arm came up, lifting a hunter clean from the deck, shook him
off somehow, and crashed down. One of the men tackling his legs dropped
senseless from the buffet he got on the side of his skull, and Lund's
kick sent him scudding across the deck, limp, out of the fight that
could not last much longer.
All this came as Rainey, still dazed, helped himself by the skylight
toward the companion, going as fast as he could to get his gun. If he
did not hurry he was certain they would kill Lund. No man could
withstand those odds much longer.
And, Lund killed, hell would break loose. It would be his turn next,
and the girl would be left at their mercy. The thought spurred him,
cleared his throbbing head, jarred by the smashes of his still
senseless opponent who would be coming to before long.
Then he saw the girl, standing by the rail, not crouching, as he had
somehow expected her to be, shutting out the sight of the fight with
trembling hands, but with her face aglow, her eyes shining, watching,
as a Roman maid might have watched a gladiatorial combat; thrilled with
the spectacle, hands gripping the rail, leaning a little forward.
She did not notice Rainey as he crept by Hansen, still guiding the
schooner, holding her to her course, imperturbable, apparently careless
of the issue. As he staggered down the stairs the line of thought he
had pursued in his bunk, broken by the noise of the fight and his
participation, flashed up in his brain.
This was sex, primitive, predominant! The girl must sense what might
happen to her if Lund went down. She had no eyes for Rainey, her soul
was up in arms, backing Lund. The shine in her eyes was for the
strength of his prime manhood, matched against the rest, not as a
person, an individual, but as an embodiment of the conquering male.
He got the gun, and he snatched a drink of brandy that ran through
his veins like quick fire, revivifying him so that he ran up the ladder
and came on deck ready to take a decisive hand.
But he found it no easy matter to risk a shot in that swirling mass.
They all seemed to be arm weary. Blows no longer rose and fell. Lund
was slowly dragging the dead weight of them all toward the mast. The
two men on the deck still lay there. Rainey's opponent was trying to
get up, wiping clumsily at the blood on his face, blinded.
The girl still stood by the rail. Back of the wrestling mass stood
the seamen, offering to take no part, their arms aswing like apes,
their dull faces working. Tamada stood by the forward companion, his
arms folded, indifferent, neutral.
[Illustration: Then he saw the girl standing by the rail]
All this Rainey saw as he circled, while the mass whirled like a
teetotum. The action raced like an overtimed kinetoscopic film. A man
broke loose from the scrimmage, on the opposite side from Rainey, who
barely recognized the disheveled figure with the bloody, battered face
as Deming. The hunter had managed to get hold of Lund's gun. Rainey's
aim was screened by a sudden lunge of the huddle of men. He saw Lund
heave, saw his red face bob up, mouth open, roaring once more, saw his
leg come up in a tremendous kick that caught Deming's outleveling arm
close to the elbow, saw the gleam of the gun as it streaked up and
overboard, and Deming staggering back, clutching at his broken limb,
cursing with the pain, to bring up against the rail and shout to the
Get into it, you damned cowards! Get into it, and settle him!
Even in that instant the sarcasm of the cry of cowards struck home
to Rainey. The next second the girl had jumped by him, a glint of metal
in her hand as she brought it out of her blouse. This time she saw him.
Come on! she cried. And darted between the fighters and the storming
figure of Deming, who tried to grasp her with his one good arm, but
Rainey sped after her just as Lund reached the mast. The girl had a
nickeled pistol in her hand and was threatening the sullen line of
irresolute seamen. Rainey with his gun was not needed. He heard Lund
shout out in a triumphant cry and saw him battering at the heads of
three who still clung to him.
All through the fight Lund had kept his head, struggling to the
purpose he had finally achieved, to reach the mast-rack of belaying
pins, seize one of the hardwood clubs and, with this weapon, beat his
assailants to the deck.
He stood against the mast, his clothes almost stripped from him, the
white of his flesh gleaming through the tatters, streaked with blood.
Save for his eyes, his face was no longer human, only a mass of flayed
flesh and clotted beard. But his eyes were alight with battle and then,
as Rainey gazed, they changed. Something of surprise, then of delight,
leaped into them, followed by a burning flare that was matched in those
of the girl who, with Rainey herding back the seamen, had turned at
Lund's yell of victory.
Lund took a lurching step forward over the prone bodies of the men
on the deck, that was splotched with blood.
By God! he said slowly, his arms opening, his great fingers
outspread, his gaze on the girl, by God!
The girl's face altered. Her eyes grew frightened, cold. The
retreating blood left her cheeks pale, and she wheeled and fled,
dodging behind Tamada, who gave way to let her pass, his ivory features
showing no emotion, closing up the fore companionway as Peggy Simms
Lund did not follow her. Instead, he laughed shortly and appeared to
see Rainey for the first time.
Jumped me, the bunch of 'em! he said, his chest heaving, his
breath coming in spurts from his laboring lungs. Couldn't use my gun.
But I licked 'em. Damn 'em! Equals? Hell!
He seemed to have a clear recollection of the fight. He smiled
grimly at Deming, who glared at him, nursing his broken arm, then
glanced at the man that Rainey had mastered.
Did him up, eh? Good for you, matey! You didn't have to use your
gun. Jest as well, you might have plugged me. An' the gal had one,
He seemed to ruminate on this thought as if it gave him special
cause for reflection.
Game! he said. Game as they make 'em!
He surveyed the rueful, groaning combatants with the smile of a
conqueror, then turned to the seamen.
Here, you! he roared, and they jumped as if galvanized into life
by the shout. Chuck a bucket of water over 'em! Chuck water till they
git below. Then clean the decks. Off-watch, you're out of this. Below
with you, where you belong. Jump!
They all fought fair, he went on. Not a knife out. Only Deming
there, when he knew he was licked, tried to git my gun. Yo're yeller,
Deming, he said, with contempt that was as if he had spat in the
hunter's face. I thought you were a better man than the rest. But
you've got yores. Git down below an' we'll fix you up.
He strode over to Hansen, stolid at the wheel.
Wal, you wooden-faced squarehead, he said, which way did you
think it was coming out? Damn me if you didn't play square, though! You
kept her up. If you'd liked you could have chucked us all asprawl, an'
that would have bin the end of it, with me down. You git a bottle of
booze for that, Hansen, all for yore own Scandinavian belly. Come on,
Rainey. Tamada, I want you.
While Tamada got splints and did what he could for the badly
shattered arm, Lund taunted Deming until the hunter's face was seamed
with useless ferocity, like a weasel's in a trap.
I wonder you fix him at all, Tamada, he said. He wanted to cut
you out of yore share. Called you a yellow-skinned heathen, Tamada.
What makes you gentle him that way? You've got him where you want him.
Tamada, binding up the splints professionally, looked at Deming with
jetty eyes that revealed no emotion.
Lund passed his hand over his face.
I'm some mess myself, he said, stretching his great arms. Give me
a five-finger drink, Rainey, afore I clean up. Some scrap. Hell popping
on deck, and a dead man in the cabin! And the gal! Did you see the gal,
Out of the bloody mask of his face his agate eyes twinkled at Rainey
with a sort of good-natured malice. Rainey did not answer as he poured
Make it four finger, exclaimed Lund. Deming's goin' to faint. One
for Doc Tamada.
The Japanese excused himself, helping Deming, worn out with pain and
consumed by baffled hate, forward through the galley corridor. Then he
came back with warm water in a basinand towels.
After this cheery little fracas, said Lund, mopping at his face,
we'll mebbe have a nice, quiet, genteel sort of ship. My gun went
overboard, didn't it? Better let me have that one you've got, Rainey.
He stretched out his hand for it. Rainey delivered it, reluctantly.
There was nothing else to do, but he felt more than ever that the
Karluk was henceforth to be a one-man ship, run at the will of
But the girl, too, had a weapon. He hugged that thought. She carried
it for her own protection, and she would not hesitate to use it. What a
girl she was! What a woman rather! A woman who would matenot
marry for the quiet safety of a home. Rainey thought of her as one does
of a pool that one plumbs with a stone, thinking to find it fairly
shallow, only to discover it a gulf with unknown depth and currents,
capable of smiling placidness or sudden storm.
CHAPTER XIII. THE RIFLE CARTRIDGES
The girl did not appear for the evening meal. She had refused
Tamada's suggestions through the door. Lund drank heavily, but without
any effect, save to sink him in comparative silence, as he and Rainey
sat together, after the Japanese had cleared the table. In contrast to
the excitement of the fight, their moods had changed, sobered by the
thought of the girl sitting up with her dead in the captain's room.
Rainey was bruised and stiffened, and Lund moved with less of his
usual ease. The flesh of his face had been so pounded that it was
turning dull purple in great patches, giving him a diabolical
appearance against his naming beard.
We've got to git hold of those cartridges, he said, after a
long-pause. Carlsen had 'em planted somewhere, an' it's likely in his
room. Best thing to do is to chuck 'em overboard. Cheaper to dump the
cartridges an' shells than the rifles an' shotguns.
You see, he went on, Deming ain't quit. That's one thing with a
man who's streaked with yeller, when he gits licked in the open an'
knows he's licked proper, he tries to git even underhanded. He knows
jest as well as I do that Carlsen was lyin' that time about there bein'
no more shells. O' course the skipper may have stowed 'em away, but I
doubt it. An' jest so long as he thinks there's a chance of gittin' at
'em, he'll figger on turning' the tables some day. An' he'll be workin'
the rest of 'em up to the job.
They can't do much without a navigator, suggested Rainey.
Mebbe they figger a man'll do a lot o' things he don't want to with
a rifle barrel stuck in his neck or the small of his back, said Lund
grimly. It's a good persuader. Might even have some influence on me.
Then ag'in it might not.
Where is the magazine? asked Rainey.
In the little room aft o' the galley. We'll look there first. Come
How about keys? Carlsen's must have been in his pockets. I didn't
see them when I was hunting the morphine. We can't go in there. Rainey
made a motion toward the skipper's room. Lund chuckled.
I had my keys to the safe an' the magazine when I was aboard last
trip, he said. They was with me when we went on the ice. An' I hung
on to 'em. Allus thought I might have a chance to use 'em ag'in.
The strong room of the Karluk was a narrow compartment,
heavily partitioned off from the galley and the corridor. There was a
lamp there, and Rainey lit it while Lund closed the door behind them.
The magazine was an iron chest fastened to the floor and the side of
the vessel with two padlocks, opened by different keys. It was quite
Thorough man, Carlsen, said Lund. Prepared for a show-down, if
necessary. Might have put 'em in the safe. Wonder if he changed the
combination? I bet Simms didn't, year in an' out.
He worked at the disk and grunted as the tumblers clicked home.
It ain't changed, he said. No use lookin' here. But he swung
back the door and rummaged through books and papers, disturbing a
chronometer and a small cash-box that held the schooner's limited
amount of ready cash. There was no sign of any cartridges.
We'll tackle Carlsen's room next, he announced. I don't suppose
you looked between the bunk mattresses, did you?
I never thought of it, said Rainey. I didn't imagine there would
be more than one.
I've got a hunch you'll find two on Carlsen's bunk. An' the shells
between 'em. He kep' his door locked when he was out of the main cabin
an' slep' on 'em nights. That's what I'd be apt to do.
As they came into the main cabin Rainey caught Lund by the arm.
I'm almost sure I saw Carlsen's door closing, he whispered. It
might have been the shadow.
But it might not. Shouldn't wonder. One of 'em's sneaked in. Saw
the cabin empty, an' figgered we'd turned in. While we was in the
He took the automatic from his pocket and went straight to the door
of Carlsen's room. It was locked or bolted from within.
The fool! said Lund. I've got a good mind to let him stay there
till he swallers some o' the drugs to fill his belly. He rapped on the
panel with the butt of the gun.
Come on out before I start trouble.
There was no answer. Lund looked uncertainly at Rainey.
I hate to start a rumpus ag'in, he said, jerking his head toward
the skipper's room. 'Count of her. Reckon he can stay there till after
we've buried Simms. He's safe enough.
Rainey was a little surprised at this show of thoughtfulness, but he
did not remark on it. He was beginning to think pretty constantly of
late that he had underestimated Lund.
The giant's hand dropped automatically to the handle as if to assure
himself of the door being fast. Suddenly it opened wide, a black gap,
with only the gray eye of the porthole facing them. Lund had brought up
the muzzle of his pistol to the height of a man's chest, but there was
nothing to oppose it.
Hidin', the damn fool! What kind of a game is this? Come out o'
Something scuttled on the floor of the roomthen darted swiftly out
between the legs of Lund and Rainey, on all fours, like a great dog.
Curlike, it sprawled on the floor with a white face and pop-eyes, with
hands outstretched in pleading, knees drawn up in some ludicrous
attempt at protection, calling shrilly, in the voice of Sandy:
Don't shoot, sir! Please don't shoot!
Lund reached down and jerked the roustabout to his feet, half
strangling him with his grip on the collar of the lad's shirt, and
flung him into a chair.
What were you doin' in there?
Sandy gulped convulsively, feeling at his scraggy throat, where an
Adam's apple was working up and down. Speech was scared out of him, and
he could only roll his eyes at them.
You damned young traitor! said Lund. I'll have you keelhauled for
this! Out with it, now. Who sent ye? Deming?
You've got him frightened half to death, intervened Rainey. They
probably scared him into doing this. Didn't they, Sandy?
The lad blinked, and tears of self-pity rolled down his grimy
cheeks. The relief of them seemed to unstopper his voice. That, and the
kinder quality of Rainey's questioning.
Deming! He said he'd cut my bloody heart out if I didn't do it. Him
an' Beale. Lookit.
He plucked aside the front of his almost buttonless shirt and worn
undervest and showed them on his left breast the scoring where a sharp
blade had marked an irregular circle on his skin.
Beale did that, he whined. Deming said they'd finish the job if I
come back without 'em.
Without the shells?
Yes, sir. Yes, Mr. Rainey. Oh, Gord, they'll kill me sure! Oh, my
Gord! His staring eyes and loose mouth, working in fear, made him look
like a fresh-landed cod.
You ain't much use alive, said Lund.
Mebbe I ain't, returned the lad, with the desperation of a
cornered rat. But I got a right to live. And I've lived worse'n a dorg
on this bloody schooner. I'm fair striped an' bruised wi' boots an'
knuckles an' ends o' rope. I'd 'ave chucked myself over long ago if
The lad turned sullen.
Never mind, he said, and glared almost defiantly at Lund.
Is that door shut? the giant asked Rainey. Some of 'em might be
hangin' 'round. Rainey went to the corridor and closed and locked the
Now then, you young devil, said Lund. What they did to you
for'ard ain't a marker on what I'll do to you if you don't speak up an'
answer when I talk. If what?
Sandy turned to Rainey.
They said they was goin' to give me some of the gold, he said.
They said all along I was to have the hat go 'round for me. I told you
I was dragged up, but there'sthere's an old woman who was good to me.
She's up ag'in' it for fair. I told her I'd bring her back some dough
an' if I can hang on an' git it, I'll hang on. But they'll do me up,
now, for keeps.
Rainey heard Lund's chuckle ripen to a quiet laugh.
I'm damned if they ain't some guts to the herrin' after all, he
said. Hangin' on to take some dough back to an old woman who ain't
even his mother. Who'd have thought it? Look here, my lad. I was
dragged up the same way, I was. An' I hung on. But you'll never git a
cent out of that bunch. I don't know as they'll have enny to give you.
His face hardened. But you come through, an' I'll see you git
somethin' for the old woman. An' yoreself, too. What's more, you can
stay aft an' wait on cabin. If they lay a finger on you, I'll lay a
fist on them, an' worse.
You ain't kiddin' me?
I don't kid, my lad. I don't waste time that way.
Sandy stood up, his face lighting. He began to empty his pockets,
laying shells and shotgun cartridges upon the table.
I couldn't begin to git harf of 'em, he said. The rest's under
the mattresses. They said they on'y needed a few. I thought you was
both turned in. When you come out of the corridor I was scared nutty.
Between the mattresses, as Lund had guessed, they found the rest of
the shells, laid out in orderly rows save where the lad's scrambling
fingers had disturbed them. Lund stripped off a pillow-case and dumped
them in, together with those on the table.
You can bunk here, he told the grateful Sandy. Now I'll have a
few words with Deming, Beale and Company. Want to come along, Rainey?
Lund strode down the corridor, bag in one hand, his gun in the
other. Rainey threw open the door of the hunters' quarters and
discovered them like a lot of conspirators. Deming was in his bunk;
also another man, whose ribs Lund had cracked when he had kicked him
along the deck out of his way. The bruised faces of the rest showed
their effects from the fight. As Lund entered, covering them with the
gun, while he swung down the heavy slip on the table with a clatter,
their looks changed from eager expectation to consternation.
CHAPTER XIV. PEGGY SIMMS
Caught with the goods! said Lund. Two tries at mutiny in one day,
my lads. You want to git it into your boneheads that I'm runnin' this
ship from now on. I can sail it without ye and, by God, I'll set the
bunch of ye ashore same's you figgered on doin' with me if you don't
sit up an' take notice! The rifles an' gunshe glanced at the orderly
display of weapons in racks on the wallare too vallyble to chuck
over, but here go the shells, ev'ry last one of them. So that nips
that little plan, Deming.
He turned back the slip to display the contents.
Open a port, Rainey, an' heave the lot out.
Rainey did so while the hunters gazed on in silent chagrin.
There's one thing more, said Lund, grinning at them. If enny of
you saw a man hurtin' a dog, you'd probably fetch him a wallop. But you
don't think ennything of scarin' the life out of a half-baked kid an'
markin' up his hide like a patchwork quilt. Thet kid's stayin' aft
after this. One of you monkey with him, an' you'll do jest what he's
bin doin', wish you was dead an' overboard.
He turned on his heel and walked to the door, Rainey following.
Burial of the skipper at dawn, said Lund. All hands on deck,
clean an' neatly dressed to stand by. An' see yore behavior fits the
occasion. Deming, you'll turn out, too. No malingerin'.
It was plain that the news of the captain's death was known to them.
They showed no surprise. Rainey was sure that Tamada had not mentioned
it. It had leaked out through the grape-vine telegraphy of all ships.
Doubtless, he thought, the after-cabin and its doings was always being
Will you take the service ter-morrer? Lund asked Rainey when they
were back in the cabin. Bein' as yo're an eddicated chap?
WhyI don't know it. Is there a prayer-book aboard? I thought the
skipper always presided.
I'm only deputy-skipper w'en it comes down to that, said Lund. It
ain't my ship. I'm jest runnin' it under contract with my late partner.
The ship belongs to the gal. And yo're top officer now, in the regular
run. As to a prayer-book, there ain't sech an article aboard to my
knowledge. But I'd like to have it go off shipshape. For Simms' sake as
well as the gal's. I reckon he used his best jedgment 'bout puttin'
back after me on the floe. I might have done the same thing myself.
Rainey doubted that statement, and set it down to Lund's generosity.
Many of his late words and actions had displayed a latent depth of
feeling that he had never credited Lund with possessing. He could not
help believing that, in some way, the girl had brought them to the
I thought I saw a Bible in the safe, he said, when we were
looking for the shells. There may be a prayer-book. I suppose there
have been occasions for it. The mate died at sea last trip.
There may be, returned Lund. That's where Simms 'ud keep it. He
warn't what you'd call a religious man. We'll take a look afore we turn
There were offices to be performed for the dead captain that the
girl, with all her willingness, could not attempt. Lund did not mention
them, and Rainey vacillated about disturbing her until he saw Tamada go
through the cabin with folded canvas and a flag. The Japanese tapped on
the door, which was instantly opened to him. He had been expected.
There was no doubt that Tamada, with his medical experience, was
best fitted for the task, but it seemed to Rainey also that the girl
had deliberately ignored their services and that, despite her
involuntary admiration of Lund's fight against odds, or in revulsion of
it, she reckoned them hostile to her sentiments. Lund roused him by
talking of the burial-service for Simms.
You're a writer, he said. What's the good of knowin' how to
handle words if you can't fake up some sort of a service? One's as good
as another, long as it sounds like the real thing.
I reckon there's a God, he went on. Somethin' that started
things, somethin' that keeps the stars from runnin' each other down,
but, after He wound up the clock He made, I don't figger He bothers
much about the works.
Luck's the big thing that counts. We're all in on the deal. Some of
us git the deuces an' treys, an' some git the aces. If yo're born lucky
things go soft for you. But, if it warn't for luck, for the chance an'
the hope of it, things 'ud be upside down an' plain anarchy in a jiffy.
If it warn't the pore devil's idea that his luck has got to change for
the better, mebbe ter-morrer, he'd start out an' cut his own throat, or
some one else's, if he had ginger enough.
It's hardly all luck, is it? asked Rainey. Look at you! You're
bigger than most men, stronger, better equipped to get what you want.
Hell! laughed Lund. I was lucky to be born that way. But you've
got to fudge up some sort of a service to suit the gal. You've got that
Bible. It ought to be easy. Simms wouldn't give a whoop, enny more'n I
would. When yo're dead yo're through, so far's enny one can prove it to
you. A dead body's a nuisance, an' the sooner it's got rid of the
better. But if it's goin' to make the livin' feel enny better for
spielin' off some fine words, why, hop to it an' make up yore speech.
Peggy Simms saved Rainey by producing a prayer-book, bringing it to
Lund, her face pale but composed enough, and her shadowed eyes calm as
she gave it to him.
I reckon Rainey here 'ud read it better'n me, he said. He's a
If you will, asked the girl. She seemed to have outworn her first
sorrow, to have obtained a grip of herself that, with the dignity of
her bereavement, the very control of her undoubted grief, set up a
barrier between her and Lund. Rainey was conscious of this fence behind
which the girl had retreated. She was polite, but she did not ask this
service as a favor, as a friendly act. Refusal, even, would not have
visibly affected her, he fancied. There was an invisible armor about
her that might be added to at any moment by a shield of silent scorn.
Somehow, if sex had, for a swift moment, brought her and Lund into any
contact, that same sex, showing another aspect, set them far apart.
Lund showed that he felt it, running his splay fingers through his
beard in evident embarrassment, while Rainey took the book silently,
looking through the pages for the ritual of Burial at Sea.
Arrangements had been made on deck long before dawn. A section of
the rail had been removed and a grating arranged that could be tipped
at the right moment for the consignment of the captain's body to the
The sea was running in long heaves, and the sun rose in a clear sky.
The ocean was free from ice, though the wind was cold. Here and there a
berg, far off, caught the sparkle of the sun and, to the north,
parallel to their course, the peaks of the Aleutian Isles, broken
buttresses of an ancient seabridge, showed sharply against the horizon.
At four bells in the morning watch all hands had assembled, save for
Tamada and Hansen, who appeared bearing the canvas-enveloped,
flag-draped body of Simms, his sea-shroud weighted by heavy pieces of
iron. Peggy Simms followed them, and, as the crew, with shuffling feet
and throats that were repeatedly cleared, gathered in a semicircle, she
arranged the folds of the Stars and Stripes that Hansen attached to a
light line by one corner.
Whatever Lund affected, the solemnity of the occasion held the men.
They uncovered and stood with bowed heads that hid the bruised faces of
the hunters. Lund's own damaged features were lowered as Rainey
commenced to read. Only Deming's face, gray from the effort of coming
on deck and the pain in his arm, held the semblance of a sneer that was
largely bravado. A hunter had his arm tucked in that of his comrade
with the broken ribs. A seaman was told off to the wheel and the
schooner was held to the wind with all sheets close inboard, rising and
falling on an almost level keel.
And the body shall be cast into the sea.
At the words Lund and Hansen tilted the grating. There was a slight
pause as if the body were reluctant to start on its last journey, and
then it slid from the platform and plunged into the sea, disappearing
instantly under the urge of the weights, with a hissing aeration of the
water. The flag, held inboard by the line, fluttered a moment and
subsided over the grating. The girl turned toward them, her head up.
Thank you, she said, and went below.
That's over, said Lund, letting out whatever emotions he might
have repressed in a long breath. Now, then, trim ship! Watch-off, get
below. We're goin' to drive her for all she's worth.
He took the wheel himself as the men jumped to the sheets and soon
Lund was getting every foot of possible speed out of the schooner. He
was as good a sailor as Simms, inclined to take more chances, but
capable of handling them.
The girl kept below and seldom came out of her cabin, Tamada serving
her meals in there. Rainey could see Lund's resentment growing at this
attitude that seemed to him normal enough, though it might present
difficulty later if persisted in. But the morning that they headed up
through Sequam Pass between the spouting reefs of Sequam and Amlia
Islands, she came on deck and went forward to the bows, taking in deep
breaths of the bracing air and gazing north to the free expanse of
Bering Strait. Rainey left her alone, but Lund welcomed her as she came
Glad to see you on deck again, Miss Peggy, he said. You need sun
and air to git you in shape again.
His glance held vivid admiration of her as he spoke, a glance that
ran over her rounded figure with a frank approval that Rainey resented,
but to which the girl paid no attention. She seemed to have made up her
mind to a change of attitude.
How far have we yet to go? she asked.
A'most a thousan' miles to the Strait proper, said Lund. The
Nome-Unalaska steamer lane lies to the east. Runs close to the
Pribilofs, three hundred miles north, with Hall an' St. Matthew three
hundred further. Then comes St. Lawrence Isle, plumb in the middle of
the Strait, with Siberia an' Alaska closin' in.
He was keen to hold her in conversation, and she willing to listen,
assenting almost eagerly when he offered to point out their positions
on the chart, spread on the cabin table. Lund talked well, for all his
limited and at times luridly inclined vocabulary, whenever he talked of
the sea and of his own adventures, stating them without brag, but
bringing up striking pictures of action, full of the color and savor of
life in the raw. From that time on Peggy Simms came to the table and
talked freely with Lund, more conservatively with Rainey.
The newspaperman was no experienced analyst of woman nature, but he
saw, or thought he saw, the girl watching Lund closely when he talked,
studying him, sometimes with more than a hint of approbation, at others
with a look that was puzzled, seeming to be working at a problem. The
giant's liking for her, boyish at times, or swiftly changing to bolder
appraisal, grew daily.
The girl, Rainey decided, was humoring Lund, seeking to know how
with her feminine methods she might control him, keep him within
bounds. Her coldness, it seemed, she had cast aside as an expedient
that might prove too provoking and worthless.
And Rainey's valuation of her resources increased. She was handling
her woman's weapons admirably, yet when he sometimes, at night, under
the cabin lamp, saw the smoldering light glowing in Lund's agate eyes,
he knew that she was playing a dangerous game.
What d'ye figger on doin' with yore share, Rainey? Lund asked him
the night that they passed Nome. It was stormy weather in the Strait,
and the Karluk was snugged down under treble reefs, fighting her
way north. Ice in the Narrows was scarce, though Lund predicted broken
floes once they got through. The cabin was cozy, with a stove going.
Peggy Simms was busied with some sewing, the canary and the plants gave
the place a domestic atmosphere, and Lund, smoking comfortably, was
eminently at ease.
'Cordin' to the way the men figgered it out, he went on, though I
reckon they're under the mark more'n over it, you'll have forty
thousan' dollars. That's quite a windfall, though nothin' to Miss
Peggy, here, or me, for that matter. I s'pose you got it all spent
I don't know that I have, said Rainey. But I think, if all goes
well, I'll get a place up in the Coast Range, in the redwoods looking
over the sea, and write. Not newspaper stuff, but what I've always
wanted to. Stories. Yarns of adventure!
Peggy Simms looked up.
You've never done that? she asked.
Not satisfactorily. I suppose that genius burns in a garret, but I
don't imagine myself a genius and I don't like garrets. I've an idea I
can write better when I don't have to stand the bread-and-butter strain
Goin' to write second-hand stuff? asked Lund. Why don't you
live what you write? I don't see how yo're goin' to git under a
man's skin by squattin' in a bungalow with a Jap servant, a porcelain
bathtub, an' breakfast in bed. Why don't you travel an' see stuff as it
is? How in blazes are you goin' to write Adventure if you don't live
Me, I'm goin' to git a schooner built accordin' to my own ideas.
Have a kicker engine in it, mebbe, an' go round the world. What's the
use of livin' on it an' not knowin' it by sight? Books and pictures are
all right in their way, I reckon, but, while my riggin' holds up, I'm
for travel. Mebbe I'll take a group of islands down in the South Seas
after a bit an' make somethin' out of 'em. Not jest copra an'
pearl-shell, but cotton an' rubber.
A king and his kingdom, suggested the girl.
Aye, an' mebbe a queen to go with it, replied Lund, his eyes wide
open in a look that made the girl flush and Rainey feel the hidden
issue that he felt was bound to come, rising to the surface.
That's a man's life, went on Lund. Travel's all right, but
a man's got to do somethin', buck somethin', start somethin'. An' a
red-blooded man wants the right kind of a woman to play mate. Polish
off his rough edges, mebbe. I'd rather be a rough castin' that could
stand filin' a bit, than smooth an' plated. An', when I find the right
woman, one of my own breed, I'm goin' to tie to her an' her to me.
I'm goin' to be rich. They've cleaned up the sands of Nome, but
there's others'll be found yit between Cape Hope an' Cape Barry.
Meantime, we've got a placer of our own. With plenty of gold they ain't
much limit to what a man can do. I've roughed it all my life, an' I'm
not lookin' for ease. It makes a man soft. But
He swept the figure of the girl in a pause that was eloquent of his
line of thought. She grew uneasy of it, but Lund maintained it until
she raised her eyes from her work and challenged his. Rainey saw her
breast heave, saw her struggle to hold the gaze, turn red, then pale.
He thought her eyes showed fear, and then she stiffened. Almost
unconsciously she raised her hand to where Rainey was sure she kept the
little pistol, touched something as though to assure herself of its
presence, and went on sewing. Lund chuckled, but shifted his eyes to
Why don't you write up this v'yage? When it's all over?
There's adventure for you, an' we ain't ha'f through with it. An'
romance, too, mebbe. We ain't developed much of a love-story as yit,
but you never can tell.
He laughed, and Peggy Simms got up quietly, folded her sewing, and
said Good night composedly before she went to her room.
How about it, Rainey? quizzed Lund. How about the love part of
it? She's a beauty, an' she'll be an heiress. Ain't you got enny red
blood in yore veins? Don't you want her? You won't find many to hold a
candle to her. Looks, built like a racin' yacht, smooth an' speedy.
Smart, an' rich into the bargain. Why don't you make love to her?
Rainey felt the burning blood mounting to his face and brain.
I am not in love with Miss Simms, he said. If I was I should not
try to make love to her under the circumstances. She's alone, and she's
fatherless. I do not care to discuss her.
She's a woman, said Lund. And yo're a damned prig! You'd like to
bust me in the jaw, but you know I'm stronger. You've got some guts,
Rainey, but yo're hidebound. You ain't got ha'f the git-up-an'-go to ye
that she has. She's a woman, I tell you, an' she's to be won. If you
want her, why don't you stand up an' try to git her 'stead of sittin'
around like a sick cat whenever I happen to admire her looks?
I've seen you. I ain't blind enny longer, you know. She's a woman
an' I'm a man. I thought you was one. But you ain't. Yore idea of
makin' love is to send the gal a box of candy an' walk pussy-footed an'
write poems to her. You want to write life an' I want to live
it. So does a gal like that. She's more my breed than yores, if she has
got eddication. An' she's flesh and blood. Same as I am. Yo're half
sawdust. Yo're stuffed.
He went on deck laughing, leaving Rainey raging but helpless. Lund
appeared to think the situation obvious. Two men, and a woman who was
attractive in many ways. The only woman while they were aboard
the schooner, therefore the more to be desired, admired by men cut off
from the rest of the world.
He expected Rainey to be in love with her, to stand up and say so,
to endeavor to win her. Lund sought the ardor of competition. He might
be looking for the excuse to crush Rainey.
But he had said she was of his breed, and that was a true saying. If
Lund was a son of the sea, she was a daughter of a line of seamen.
Lund, sooner or later, meant to take her, willing or unwilling. He had
said so, none too covertly, that very evening. And, if Rainey meant to
stand between her and Lund as a protector, Lund would accept him in
that character only as the girl's lover and his rival.
And Rainey did not know whether he was in love with her or not. He
could not even be certain of the girl. There were times when Lund
seemed to fascinate her. One thing he braced himself to do, to be ready
to aid her against Lund if occasion came, and she needed protection.
The luck, as Lund phrased it, that had given brawn to the giant, had
given Rainey brains. When the time came he would use them.
After this the girl avoided Lund's company as much as possible by
seeking Rainey's. They worked through the Strait and headed into the
Arctic Ocean. Ice was all about them, fields formed of vast blocks of
frozen water divided by broad lanes through which the Karluk
slowly made her way, a maze of ice, always threatening, calling for all
of Lund's skill while he fumed at every barrier, every change of the
weather that grew steadily colder.
The sky was never entirely unveiled by mist, and at night, as they
sailed down a frozen fiord with lookouts doubled, the grinding smashing
noises of the ice seemed the warning voice of the North, as they sailed
on into the wilderness.
The hunters kept below. Lund bossed the ship. Deming, it seemed,
managed to hold his cards and deal them despite his mending arm in
splints. And he was steadily winning. The girl talked with Rainey of
her own life ashore and at sea on earlier trips with her father, of his
own desire to write, of his ambitions, until there was little he had
not told her, even to the girl who was the daughter of the Lumber King.
And the spell of her nearness, her youth, her beauty, naturally held
him. When he was on deck duty she remained in her room. When Lund
relieved him, the day's work giving Lund, Hansen, and Rainey each two
regular watches of four hours, though Lund put in most of the night as
the ice grew more difficult to navigate, Rainey occasionally saw the
giant's eyes sizing him up with a sardonic twinkle.
For the time being, the safety of the Karluk and the
successful carrying out of the purpose of the trip took all of Lund's
attention and energy. Twice he had been thwarted by the weather from
gleaning his golden harvest, and it began to look as if the third
attempt might be no more fortunate.
The Karluk's stout, he said once, but she ain't built for
the Arctic. If we git nipped badly she'll go like an eggshell.
And then what? Rainey asked.
Git the gold! That's what we come for. If we have to make sleds an'
use the hunters for a dorg-team. He laughed indomitably. We'll make a
man of you yit, Rainey, afore we git back.
Lund was snatching sleep in scraps, seeking always to feel a way
toward the position of the island through the ice that continually
baffled progress. Several times they risked the schooner in a narrow
lane when a lull of the often uncertain wind would have seen them
ground between the edges of the floe. Twice Lund ordered out the boats
to save them. Once all hands fended desperately with spars to keep her
clear, and only the schooner's overhung stern saved her rudder from the
savagely clashing masses that closed behind them.
But he showed few signs of strain. Once in a while he would sit with
closed eyes or pass his hands across his brows as if they pained him.
But he never complained, and the ice, taking on the dull hues of sea
and sky, gave off no glare that should affect the sight. Against all
opposition Lund forced his way until, just after sunset one night, as
the dusk swept down, he gave a shout and pointed to a fitful flare over
the port bow. Rainey thought it the aurora, but Lund laughed at him.
It's the crater atop the island, he said. Nothin' dangerous.
Reg'lar lighthouse. Now, boys, he went on, his deep voice ringing with
exhilaration, there's gold in sight! Whistle for a change of weather,
every mother's son of you!
The deck was soon crowded. On the previous trip the schooner had
approached the island from a different angle, but the men were swift to
acknowledge the glow of the volcano as the expected landfall. Lund
remained on deck, and it was late before any of the crew turned in.
Rainey, during his watch, saw the mountain fire-pulse, glowing and
winking like the eye of a Cyclops, its gleam reflected in the eyes of
the watchers who were about to invade the island and rob it of its
The change of weather came about three in the morning, though not as
Lund had hoped. A sudden wind materialized from the north, stiffening
the canvas with its ice-laden breath, glazing the schooner wherever
moisture dripped, bringing up an angry scud of clouds that fought with
the moon. The sea appeared to have thickened. The Karluk went
sluggishly, as if she was sailing in a sea of treacle.
Half slush already, said Lund. We're in for a real cold snap.
There'll be pancake ice all around us afore dawn. That is sure a hard
beach to fetch. But it's too early for winter closing. After this nip
we'll have a warm spell. An' we got to git the stuff aboard an' start
kitin' south afore the big freeze-up catches us.
CHAPTER XV. SMOKE
When Rainey came on deck the next morning he found the schooner
floating in a small lagoon that made the center of a floe. The water in
it was slush, half solid. Main and fore were close furled, the
headsails also, and the Karluk was nosing against the far end of
the rapidly diminishing basin. The wind was still lively.
All about were other floes, but they were widely separated, and
between them crisp waves of indigo were curling snappily.
The island stood up sharp and jagged, much larger than Rainey had
anticipated. It boasted two cones, from one of which smoke was lazily
trailing. Ice was piled in wild confusion about its shores, wrecked by
the gale that had blown hard from four till eight, and was now
subsiding with the swift change common to the Arctic.
A deep hum of bursting surf undertoned all other noises and,
prisoned as she was, the schooner and her floe were sweeping slowly
toward the land in the grip of a current rather than before the gusty
Lund had fendered the schooner's bows effectively before he went
below with old sails that enveloped stem and swell, stuffed with ropes
and bits of canvas.
Within an hour the wind had ceased and the slush in the lagoon had
pancaked into flakes of forming ice that bid fair to become solid
within a short time, for the day was bitterly cold and tremendously
bright. The sky rose from filmy silver-azure to richest sapphire, and
the rolling waters between the floes were darkest purple-blue. As the
whip of the wind ceased they settled to a vast swell on which the great
clumps of ice rose and fell with dazzling reflections.
Lund came up within the hour and stood blinking at the brilliance.
My eyes ain't as strong yit as they should be, he said to Rainey.
I shouldn't have slung them glasses so hasty at Carlsen, though they
sp'iled his aim, at that. If this weather keeps up I'll have to make
snow-specs; there ain't another pair of smokes aboard. He made a shade
of his curved hand as he gazed at the island.
Current's got us, he said, an' we'll fetch up mighty close to the
beach. It lies between those two ridges, close together, buttin' out
from the volcano. Long Strait current splits on Wrangell Island, and
we're in the trend of the northern loop. That's why the sea don't
freeze up more solid. It's freezin' fast enough round us, where there
He seemed well satisfied with the prospect. Had breakfast? he
asked Rainey, and then: All right. We'll git the men aft.
He bellowed an order, and soon every one came trooping, to gather in
two groups either side of the cabin skylight. Their faces were eager
with the proximity of the gold, yet half sullen as they waited to hear
what Lund had to say. Since the attempt against him Lund had said
nothing about their shares. They acknowledged him as master, but they
still rebelled in spirit.
There's the island, said Lund. We'll make it afore sundown. The
beach is there, waitin' for us to dig it up. It'll be some job. I don't
reckon it's frozen hard, on'y crusted. If it is we'll bust the crust
with dynamite. But we got to hop to it. There'll be another cold spell
after this one peters out an' the next is like to be permanent. I want
the gold washed out afore then, an' us well down the Strait. It's up to
you to hump yoreselves, an' I'll help the humpin'.
We'll cradle most of the stuff an', if they's time, we'll flume the
silt tailin's for the fine dust. Providin' we can git a fall of water.
There'll be plenty for all hands to do. An' the shares go as first
fixed. I ain't expectin' you to do the diggin' an' not git a pinch or
two of the dust.
The men's faces lighted, and they shuffled about, looking at one
another with grins of relief.
No cheers? asked Lund ironically. Wall, I hardly expected enny.
Hansen, you'll be one of the foremen, with pay accordin'. Deming.
I can't dig, said the hunter truculently. Neither can Beale, with
You've got a sweet nerve, said Lund. I reckon you've won enough
to be sure of yore shares, if the boys pay up. Enough for you to do
some diggin' in yore pockets for Beale. His ribs 'ud be whole if you
hadn't started the bolshevik stunt. But I'll find something for both of
you to do. Don't let that worry you none.
We've got mercury aboard somewhere, Lund continued, to Rainey,
when the men had dispersed, far more cheerful than they had gathered.
We'll use that for concentration in the film riffles. Hansen'll have
rockers made that'll catch the big stuff. If the worst comes to the
worst, we'll load up the old hooker with the pay dirt an' wash it out
on the way home. I'll strip that beach down to bedrock if I have to
work the toes an' fingers off 'em.
By noon the schooner was glazed in as firmly as a toy model that is
mounted in a glass sea. The wind blew itself entirely out, but the
current bore them steadily on to the clamorous shore, where the swells
were creating promontories, bays, cliffs and chasms in the piled-up
confusion of the floes pounding on the rocks, breaking up or sliding
atop one another in noisy confusion.
The marble-whiteness of the ice masses was set off by the blues and
soft violets of their shadows, and by a pearly sheen wherever the
planes caught the light at a proper slant for the play of prisms.
Beautiful as it was, the sight was fearful to Rainey, in common with
the crew. Only Lund surveyed it nonchalantly.
It's bustin' up fast, he said. All we need is a little luck. If
we ain't got that there's no use of worryin'. We can't blast ourselves
out o' this without riskin' the schooner. We ought to be thankful we
froze in gentle. There ain't a plank started. The floe'll fend us off.
There ain't enny big chunks enny way near us aft. Luckto make a
decent landin'is all we need, an' it's my hunch it's comin' our way.
His hunch was correct. Though they did not actually make the
little bay on which the treasure beach debouched, they fetched up near
it against a broken hill of ice that had lodged on the sharp slopes of
a little promontory, making the connection without further damage than
a splitting of the forward end of their encasing floe, with hardly a
jar to the Karluk.
Lund sent men ashore over the ice, climbing to the promontory crags
with hawsers by which they tied up schooner, floe and all, to the land.
If the broken hill suffered further catastrophe, which did not seem
likely, its fragments would fall upon the floe. In case of emergency
Lund ordered men told off day and night to stand by the hawsers, to
cast loose or cut, as the extremity needed.
The main danger threatened from following floes piling up on theirs
and ramming over it to smash the schooner, but that was a risk that
must be met as it evolved, and there did not seem much prospect of the
It was dark before they were snugged. The men volunteered, through
Hansen, to commence digging that night by the light of big fires, so
crazy were they at the nearness of the gold. But Lund forbade it.
You'll work reg'lar shifts when you git started, he said. An' you
won't start till ter-morrer. We've got to stand by the ship ter-night
until we find out by mornin' how snug we're goin' to be berthed.
All night long they lay in a pandemonium of noise. After a while
they would become used to it as do the workers in a stampmill, but that
night it deafened them, kept them awake and alert, fearful, with the
tremendous cannonading. The bite of the frost made the timbers of the
Karluk creak and its thrust continually worked among the stranded
masses with groaning thunders and shrill grindings, while the surf ever
boomed on the resonant sheets of ice.
The place held a strange mystery. On top of the main cone the
volcanic glow hung above the crater chimney, reflected waveringly on
the rolling clouds of smoke that blotted out the stars. There were no
tremors, no rumblings from the hidden furnace, only the flare of its
stoking. The stars that were visible were intensely brilliant points,
and, when the moon rose, it was accompanied by four mock moons bound in
a halo that widely encircled the true orb. The moon-dogs shone
intermittently with prismatic colors, like disks of mother-of-pearl,
and the moon itself was four-rayed.
Under moon and stars the coast snaked away to end in a deceptive
glimmer that persisted beyond the eye-range of definite dimensions.
And, despite all the sound, muffled and sharp, of splinterings and
explosions, of the reverberation of the swell, outside all this clamor,
silence seemed to gather and to wait. Silence and loneliness. It awed
the crew, it invested the spirits of Peggy Simms and Rainey, gazing at
the mystic beauty of the Arctic landscape.
The walls of forced-up ice shifted about them and came clattering
down, booming on their floe as if it had been a drum, and threatening
to tilt it by sheer weight had they not been fairly grounded forward.
Other floes came from seaward to batter at the cliffs, but the eddy
that had brought them to their resting-place seemed to have been
dissolved in the main current and, save for an occasional alarm, their
stern was not seriously invaded.
Only, as the night wore on, the floating masses became cemented to
one another and the shore. The Karluk was hard and fast within
two hundred yards of her Tom Tiddler's ground, just over the
promontory. If a thaw came, all should go well. If Lund had been
deceived, and the true winter was setting in early, the prospects were
far from cheerful, though no one seemed to think of that possibility.
Beneath the glamour of the magic night, the weird paraselene of the
moon's phenomenon, the glow of the volcano, the noises, the men
whispered of one thing onlyGold!
Dawn came before they were aware of it, a sudden rush of light that
dyed the ice in every hue of red and orange, that tipped the frozen
coast with bursts of ruby flame that flared like beacons and gilded the
crests of the long swells, tinging all their world with a wild,
Lund, striding the deck, his red beard iced with his breath,
suddenly stopped and stared into the east. There, in the very eye of
the dawn, was a trail of smoke, like a plume against the flaming,
three-quarters circle of the rising sun!
CHAPTER XVI. THE MIGHT OF NIPPON
Lund's face, on which the bruises were fast fading, changed
purple-black with rage. He whirled upon Sandy, gaping near, and ordered
him to fetch his binoculars. Through them he stared long at the smoke.
Then he turned to the girl and Rainey.
Come down inter the cabin, he said. We'll need all our wits.
That's a gunboat patrol, he said. Japanese, for a million! None
other this far west. An' it's damned funny it should come up right at
this minnit. We've made the trip on schedule time, an' here they show.
But we'll let that slide. We've got to think fast. They'll board us.
They'll overhaul us lookin' for seal pelts. At least, I hope so.
We've got none. Our hunters an' our rifles an' shotguns'll prove
our claim to be pelagic sealers. We got to trust they believe us. If
there was a hide aboard or a club, or a sign of a dead seal on the
beaches they'd nail us. They may, ennyway, jest on suspicion.
They run things out this way with a high hand. If they ever clap us
in prison it'll be where we can't let a peep out of us. A lot they
worry about our consuls. They's too many good sealers dropped out of
sight in one of their stinkin' jails to starve on millet an' dried,
moldy fish. I know what I'm talkin' about.
It's lucky we didn't start mussin' up that beach. But they'll go
over everything. I know 'em. They claim to own the seas hereabouts, an'
they're cockier than ever, since the war. Rainey you got to git busy on
the log. If yore father didn't keep it up, Miss Peggy, so much the
better. If he has, you got to fake it someways, Rainey.
I'm Simms, get me, until we're clear of 'em. An' you, Rainey, are
Doc Carlsen. Nothin' must show in the log about enny deaths.
But why? asked the girl. Why do we have to masquerade? If we
haven't touched the seals?
Lund barked at her:
I gave you credit for sharper wits, he said. We've got to have
everything so reg'lar they can't find an excuse for haulin' us in an'
settin' fire to the schooner. They'd do it in a jiffy. We got to show
'em our clearance papers, an' we've got to tally up all down the line.
Rainey ain't on the ship's booksCarlsen is. Lund ain't, but Simms is.
I'm Simms. An' youhe stopped to grin at heryou're my daughter.
I'll dissolve the relationship after a while, I'll promise you that.
An' I'll drill the men. They know what's ahead of 'em if the Japs git
That ain't the worst of it! They may know what we're after.
If they do, we're goners. Ever occur to you, Rainey, that Tamada, who
is a deep one, may have tipped off the whole thing to his consul while
the schooner was at San Francisco? He was along the last trip. He'd
know the approximate position. Might have got the right figgers out o'
the log, him havin' the run of the cabin. A cable would do the rest.
He'd git his whack out of it, with the order of the Golden
Chrysanthemum or some jig-arig to boot, an' git even with the way he
feels to'ard our outfit for'ard, that ain't bin none too sweet to him.
The suggestion held a foundation of conviction for Rainey. He had
thought of the consul. He had always sensed depths in Tamada's reserve,
he remembered bits of his talk, the certain circumstances that he had
mentioned. It looked plausible. Lund rose.
I'll fix Tamada, he said. But the girl stopped him.
You don't know that's true. Tamada has been wonderfulto
me. What do you intend to do with him?
I'll make up my mind between here and the galley, said Lund
grimly. This is my third time of tackling this island, an' no Jap is
goin' to stand between me an' the gold, this trip. Why, even if he
ain't blown on us, he'll give the whole thing away. If he didn't want
to they'd make him come through if they laid their eyes on him. They've
got more tricks than a Chinese mandarin to make a man talk. Stands to
reason he'll tell 'em. If he can talk when they git here, he added
ominously, standing half-way between the table and the door to the
corridor, his hand opening and closing suggestively. The crew'd settle
his hash if I didn't. They ain't fools. They know what's ahead of 'em
in Japan. You, Rainey, git busy with that log. That gunboat'll have a
boat alongside this floe inside of ninety minnits.
But Peggy Simms was between him and the door.
You shan't do it, she said, her eyes hard as flints, if Lund's
were like steel. You don't know what he was to me whenwhen dad was
buried. Call him in and let him talk for himself oror I'll tell
the Japanese myself what we have come for!
Lund stood staring at her, his face hard, his beard thrust out like
a bush with the jut of his jaw. Still she faced him, resolute, barely
up to his shoulder, slim, defiant. Gradually his features crinkled into
I believe you would, he said at last. An' I'd hate to fix you the
way I would Tamada. But, mind you, if I don't git a definite promise
out of him that rings true, I'll have to stow him somewheres, where
they won't find him. An' that won't be on board ship.
The girl's face softened.
You said you played fair, she said with a sigh of relief. She
stepped to the door, opened it, and called for Tamada. The Japanese
appeared almost instantly. Lund closed the door behind him and locked
You know there's a patrol comin' up, Tamada? he asked. A Jap
What do you intend tellin' 'em if they come on board?
Nothing, if I can help it. I think I can. I am not friendly with
Japanese government. It would be bad for me if they find me. One time I
belong Progressive Party in Japan. I make much talk. Too much. The
government say I am too progressive.
Rainey imagined he caught a glint of humor in Tamada's eyes as he
made his clipped syllables.
So, I leave my country. Suppose I go on steamer I think that
government they stop me. I think even in California they may make
trouble, if they find me. So I go in sampan. Sometimes Japanese
cross to California in sampan.
That's right, said Rainey. He had handled more than one story of
Japanese crews landing on some desolate portion of the coast to avoid
immigration laws and steamer fares. Generally they were rounded up
after their perilous, daring crossing of the Pacific. Tamada's story
held the elements of truth. Even Lund nodded in reserved affirmation.
Also I ship on Karluk as cook because of perhaps trouble if
some one know me in San Francisco. I think much better if they do not
see me. I have a plan. Also I want my share of gold. Suppose that
gunboat find me, find out about gold, they will not give me reward. You
do not know Japanese. They will put me in prison. It will be suggest to
me, because I am of daimio bloodTamada drew himself up
slightly as he claimed his nobilitythat I make hari-kari.
That I do not wish. I am Progressive. I much rather cook on board
Karluk and get my share of gold.
Lund surveyed him moodily, half convinced. The girl was all eager
What is your plan, Tamada?
We're losin' time on that log, cut in Lund. Git busy, Rainey.
Look among Carlsen's stuff. He may have kept one. Dope up one of 'em,
an' burn the other. Now then, Tamada, dope out yore scheme; it's got to
be a good one.
Both Lund and the girl were laughing when Rainey came out into the
main cabin again with the records. Tamada had disappeared.
He's some fox, said Lund. Miss Peggy, you better superintend the
theatricals. It's got to be done right. Rainey, not to interrupt you,
what do you know about enteric fever?
Well, it's the same as typhoid. There'll be a surgeon aboard that
gunboat. You got to bluff him. Say little an' look wise as an' owl.
Don't let him mix in with yore patient.
Tamada! He's got enteric fever. If there's time he'll give you all
But I don't see how that
You will see when you see Tamada, Lund grinned. How about them
logs? Can you fix 'em?
I think so.
Then hop to it. I'm goin' to wise up the men and arrange a
reception committee. Don't forgit yore name's Carlsen, an' mine's
Rainey wrote rapidly in his log, erasing, eliminating pages without
trace, imitating the skipper's phrasing. Fortunately Simms had made
scant entries at first and, later on, as the drug held him, none at
all. Carlsen had kept no record that he could find. The girl had gone
forward to aid with Tamada's plan which Lund had evidently accepted.
Before he had quite finished he heard the tramp of men on deck and
the blast of a steam whistle. He ended his task and went up to see the
gunboat, gray and menacing, its brasses glistening, men on her decks at
their tasks, oblivious of the schooner, and officers on her bridge
watching the progress of a launch toward the floe.
It made landing smartly, and a lieutenant, diminutive but highly
effective in appearance, led six men toward the Karluk. He wore
a sword and revolver; the men carried carbines. Their disciplined rank
and smartness, the waiting launch, the gunboat in the offing, were
ominous with the suggestion of power, the will to administer it. The
officer in command carried his chin at an arrogant tilt. Lund had
rigged a gangway and stood at the head of it, saluting the lieutenant
as the latter snappily answered the greeting.
Rainey found the girl and put a hurried question.
What about Tamada? Where is he? What's the plan?
She turned to him with eyes that danced with excitement.
He's in the galley, Doctor Carlsen. But he isn't Tamada any more.
He's Jim Cuffee, nigger cook, sick with enteric fever, not to be
Rainey stared. It was a clever device, if Tamada could carry it out,
and he bear his own part in the masquerade. The willingness of Tamada
to risk the disguise was assurance of his fidelity.
Lund should have told me, he said. I've got to change his name on
the papers. It won't take a minute though; he doesn't appear in the
The Japanese officer wasted no time on deck. For precaution, Rainey
made his alteration in the skipper's cabin, leaving the log there on
the built-in desk.
This is Lieutenant Ito, Doctor Carlsen, said Lund. You want to
see our papers, Lieutenant?
My orders are to examine the schooner, said Ito, in English, even
more perfect than Tamada's. His face was officially severe, though his
slant eyes shifted constantly toward the girl. Evidently she was an
unexpected feature of the visit.
I'll get the papers first, said Lund. Doctor, you an' Peggy
entertain the lieutenant. Rainey set out some whisky, which the
Japanese refused, some cigars that he passed over with a motion of his
hand. He sat down stiffly and ran through the papers.
We're pelagic, you know, said Lund. We ain't trespassin' on
purpose. Didn't even know you owned the island.
It is on our charts, said Ito crisply, as if that settled the
right of dominion. How did you come here at all?
We was brought, said Lund. Got froze in north o' Wrangell. Gale
set us west as we come out o' the Strait. We're bound for Corwin.
Nothin' contraband. All reg'lar. Six hunters, two damaged in the gale,
though the doc's fixed 'em up. Twelve seamen, one boy, an' a nigger
cook who's pizened himself with his own cookin'. Doc's bringin' him
round, too, though he don't deserve it. Want to make yore inspection?
We're in no hurry to git away until the ice melts. Take yore time.
The little, dapper officer with his keen, high-cheeked face, and his
shoe-brush hair, got up and bowed, with a side glance at Peggy Simms.
It is not usual for young ladies to be so far north. His endeavor
at gallantry was obvious.
I am with my father, said the girl, looking at Rainey, enjoying
Where I go she goes, said Lund. And looked in turn at her with
relish in his double suggestion. He, too, was playing the game,
gambling, believing in his luck, reckless, now he had set the board.
They passed through the corridor. Lund opened up the strong-room,
and then the galley. It was orderly, and there was a moaning figure in
Tamada's bunk, a tossing figure with a head bound in a red bandanna
above the black face and neck that showed above the blankets. The eyes
were closed. The black hands, showing lighter palms, plucked at the
Delirious, said Lund. Serves him right. He's a rotten cook.
Have you all the medicines you need? asked Ito. I can send our
I can manage, returned Rainey, alias Carlsen. It's
enteric. I've reduced the fever.
They passed on through the hunters' quarters. The girl fell behind
A good make-up and a good actor, she whispered. I helped him to
be sure he covered everything that would show. It was my idea about the
bandanna. Just what a sick negro might wear, and it hid his straight
The lieutenant appeared fairly satisfied, but requested that Lund go
on board his ship. He stayed there until sundown, returning in
We've slipped it over on 'em this time, he said. I left 'em aswim
with sake, an' bubblin' over with polite regrets. But they'll be
back in three weeks, they said, if the ice is open. An', if the luck
holds, we'll be out of it. I don't want them searchin' the ship ag'in.
He slapped Tamada on the back as he came to serve supper after Sandy
had laid the table.
A reg'lar vodeville skit, he exclaimed. You're some actor,
Tamada! But why didn't you say the island was down on their charts?
They've even got a name for it. Hiyama.
It means hot mountain, said Tamada. The government names many
You can bet yore life they do, said Lund. They're smart, but they
overlooked that beach an' they've given us three weeks to cash in.
Lund himself had imbibed enough of the sake to make him loose
of tongue, added to his elation at the success he had achieved. The
gunboat was gone on its patrol, and he had a free hand. He half filled
a glass with whisky. Here's to luck, he cried. And spilled a part of
the liquor on the floor before he set the glass to his lips.
Here's to you, Doc, he added. An' to Peggy! He rolled eyes that
were a trifle bloodshot at the girl.
Our relations have gone back as usual, Mr. Lund, she said quietly.
Lund glared at her half truculently.
I'm agreeable, he said. As a daughter, I disown you from now on,
Miss Peggy. Here's to ye, jest the same!
CHAPTER XVII. MY MATE
From the day following the arrival and departure of the Japanese
gunboat, they attacked the little U-shaped beach that lay between two
buttresses of the volcano and sloped sharply down to the sea.
Twenty-one men, a lad and a woman, they went at the despoiling of it
with a sort of obsession, led, rather than driven, by Lund, who worked
among the rest of them like a Hercules.
From the beginning the tongue of shingle promised to be almost
incredibly rich. Between these two spurs of mountain the tide had
washed and flung the rich, free-flaking gold of a submarine vein,
piling it up for unguessable years. Ebb tides had worked it in among
the gravel, floods had beaten it down; the deeper they went to bedrock,
the richer the pan.
The men's fancy estimate of a million dollars began speedily to seem
small as the work progressed, systematically stripping the rocky floor
of all its shingle, foot by foot, and cubic yard by cubic yard,
cradling it in crude rockers, fluming it, vaporizing the amalgam of
gold and mercury, and adding pound after pound of virgin gold to the
sacks in the schooner's strong-room.
They worked at first in alternating shifts of four hours, by day and
night, under the sun, the moon, the stars and the flaming aurora. The
crust was drilled here and there where it had frozen into conglomerate,
and exploded by dynamite, carefully placed so as not to dislodge the
masses of ice that overhung the schooner. Fires to thaw out the ground
were unavailable for sheer lack of fuel; there was no driftwood between
these forestless shores. What fuel could be spared was conserved for
use under the boilers that melted ice to provide water for the cradles
and flumes, and help to cook the meals that Tamada prepared
out-of-doors for the workers.
Buckets of coffee, stews, and thick soups of peas and lentils,
masses of beans with plenty of fat pork, these were what they craved
after hours of tremendous endeavor. Despite the cold, they sweated
profusely at their tasks, stripping off over-garments as they picked
and shoveled or crowbarred out the rich gravel.
Peggy Simms worked with the rest, assisting Tamada, helping to serve
with Sandy. Deming, and Beale, the man with the damaged ribs, were
given odd jobs that they could handle: feeding the fires, washing up,
or assisting at the little forge where the drills were sharpened.
Through all of it Lund was supreme as working superintendent. There
was no job that he could not, did not, handle better than any two of
them, and, though Rainey could see a shrinkage, or a compression, of
his bulk as day by day he called upon it for heroic service, he never
seemed to tire.
Got to keep 'em at it, he would say in the cabin. No time to
lose, an' the odds all against us, in a way. Barring Luck. That's what
we got to count on, but we don't want them thinkin' that. If the
weather don't breakan' break jest rightas soon as we've cleaned up,
we're stung. Though I'll blast a way out of this shore ice, if it comes
to the worst. I saved out some dynamite on purpose.
We ought to have brought a steam-shovel along, said Rainey. He was
hard as iron, but he had served a tough apprenticeship to labor, and
his hands and nails, he fancied, would never get into shape again.
Now you're talkin', agreed Lund. We c'ud have handled it in fine
shape an' left the machine behind as junk or a souvenir for our Jap
friends. We've got to cut out this four-hour shift. Too much time
wasted changin'. Too many meals. We'll make it one long, steady shift
of all hands long as we can stand up to it, an' all git reg'lar sleep.
I'm needin' some myself.
Rainey knew that neither he nor Hansen got within two-thirds as much
out of their shifts as when Lund was in command, though he had given
them the pick of the men. It was not that the men malingered, they
simply, neither of them, had the knack of keeping the work going at top
speed and top effectiveness.
But, with Lund handling all of them as a unit, it was not long
before the shovels began to scrape on the bare rock that underlay the
gravel at tide edge, and work swiftly back to the end of the U. The
outdoors kitchen had been established on top of the promontory between
the schooner and the beach, a primitive arrangement of big pots slung
from tripods over fires kindled on a flat area that was partly
sheltered from the sea and the prevailing winds by outcrops of
At dawn the men trooped from the schooner to be fed and warmed, and
then they flung themselves at their task. The more they got out the
more there was in it for them. But Lund was their overlord, their
better, and they knew it. Only Deming worked with one hand the handle
of the forge bellows, or fed the fires, and sneered.
Lund stood a full head above the tallest of them, which was Rainey,
and he was always in the thick of the work, directing, demanding the
utmost, and setting example to back command. His eyes had bothered him,
and he had made a pair of Arctic snow-glasses, mere circles of wood
with slits in them. But under these the sweat gathered, and he
discarded them, resorting to the primitive device of smearing soot all
about his eyes. This, he said, gave him relief, but it made him a weird
sort of Caliban in his labors.
On the fifteenth day, with the work better than half done, with more
than a ton of actual gold in colors, that ranged from flour dust to
nuggets, in the strong-room, the weather began to change. It misted
continually, and Lund, rejoicing, prophesied the breaking up of the
By the eighteenth day a regular Chinook was blowing, melting the
sharper outlines of the icy crags and pinnacles, and providing streams
of moisture that, in the nights now gradually growing longer, glazed
every yard of rock with peril.
The men worked in a muck with their rubber sea-boots worn out by
constant chafing, sweaters torn, the blades of their shovels reduced by
the work demanded of them, the drills, shortened by steady sharpening,
gone like the spare flesh of the laborers, who, at last, began to show
signs of quicker and quicker exhaustion with occasional mutterings of
discontent, while Lund, intent only upon cleaning off the rock as a
dentist cleans a crumbling tooth, coaxed and cursed, blamed and praised
and bullied, and did the actual work of three of them.
Dead with fatigue, filled with food, drowsy from the liberal grog
allowance at the end of the day, the men slept in a torpor every night
and showed less and less inclination to respond, though the end of
their labors was almost in sight.
What's the use, we got enough, was the comment beginning to be
heard more and more frequently. Lund, he's got more'n he can spend in
Rainey could not trace these mutterings to Deming's instigation, but
he suspected the hunter. There was no poker; all hands were too tired
The ice in which the schooner was packed began to show signs of
disintegration. The surface rotted by day and froze again by night and
this destroyed its compactness. If the sun's arc above the horizon had
been longer, its rays more vertical, the ice must infallibly have
melted and freed the Karluk, for it was salt-water ice, and
there were times when the thermometer stayed above its freezing point
for two or three hours around noon.
Lund gave the holding floe scant attention. So long as the present
weather kept up he declared that he could dynamite his way out inside
of four hours.
The effect of all this on Rainey was a bit bewildering. He was
judging life by new standards far apart from his own modes and, though
he, too, worked with a will, and rejoiced in the freer effort of his
muscles, the result comparing favorably with the best of the
otherssave Lundhe could not assimilate the general conditions.
They were too purely physical, he told himself; he missed his old
habits, the reading and discussion of books, new and old, the good
restaurants of San Francisco, and the chat he had been used to hold
over their tables, companionable, witty, the exchange and stimulation
He missed the theaters, the concerts, the passing show of
well-dressed women, a hodge-podge of flesh-pots and mental uplift. He
got to dreaming of these things nights.
Daytimes, he saw plainly that, in this environment at least, Lund
was big, and the rest of them comparatively small. He believed that
Lund could actually form a little kingdom of his own, as he had
suggested, and make a success of it. But it would not be a kingdom that
fostered the arts. It would cultivate the sciences, or at least
encourage them and adopt results as applied to land development, and,
if necessary, the defense of the kingdom.
Lund would be a figure in war and peace, peace of the practical
sort, the kind of peace that went with plenty. He was no dreamer, but a
utilitarian. Perhaps, after all, the world most needed such men just
As for Peggy Simms, she did not lose the polish of her culture, she
was always feminine, even dainty at times, despite her work, that could
not help but be coarse to a certain extent. She was full of vigor, she
showed unexpected strength, she was a source of encouragement to the
men as she waited on them. And also a source of undisguised admiration,
all of which she shed as a duck sheds water. She was filled with
abounding health, she moved with a free grace that held the eye and
lingered in the mind. She was eminently a woman, and she also was big.
Rainey gained an increasing respect in her prowess, and a swift
conversion to the equality of the sexes. There were times when he
doubted his own equality. Had she met him on his own ground, in his own
realm of what he considered vaguely as culture, he would have known a
mastery that he now lacked. As it was, she averaged higher, and she had
an attraction of sex that was compelling.
Here was a girl who would demand certain standards in the man with
whom she would mate, not merely accompany through life. There were
times when Rainey felt irresistibly the charm of her as a woman, longed
for her in the powerful sex reactions that inevitably follow hard
labor. There were times when he felt that she did not consider that he
measured up to her gages, and he would strive to change the atmosphere,
to dominate the situation in which Lund was the greater figure of the
The rivalry that Lund had suggested between them as regards the
girl, Rainey felt almost thrust upon him. There were moods which Peggy
Simms turned to him for sharing, but there was scant time in the waking
hours for love-making, or even its consideration.
Lund was centered on one achievement, the gold harvest. He ordered
the girl with the rest; there were even times when he reprimanded her,
while Rainey burned with the resentment she apparently did not share.
A little before dawn on the eighteenth day of the work upon the
beach, Lund was out upon the floe examining the condition of the ice.
He had declared that two days more of hard endeavor would complete
their labors. What dirt remained at the end of that time they would
transship. Rainey had joined the girl and Tamada at the cook fires.
The sky was bright with the aurora borealis that would pale before
the sun. The men were not yet out of their bunks. They were bone and
muscle tired, and Rainey doubted whether Lund, gaunt and lean himself,
could get two days of top work out of them. Near the fires for the
cooking, the melting of water and the forge, that were kept glowing all
night, the tools were stacked, to help preserve their temper.
The aurora quivered in varying incandescence as Rainey watched Lund
prodding at the floe ice with a steel bar. The girl was busy with the
coffee, and Tamada was compounding two pots of stew and bubbling peas
pudding for the breakfast, food for heat and muscle making.
Sandy appeared on deck and came swiftly over the side of the vessel
and up the worn trail to the fires. He showed excitement, Rainey
fancied, sure of it as the lad got within speaking distance.
Where is Mr. Lund? he panted.
Rainey pointed to Lund, now examining a crack that had opened up in
the floe, a possible line of exit for the Karluk, later on. The
men were beginning to show on the schooner. They, too, he noted
somewhat idly, acted differently this morning. Usually they were
sluggish until they had eaten, sleepy and indifferent until the coffee
stimulated them, and Lund took up this stimulus and fanned it to a
flame of work. This morning they walked differently, abnormally active.
They're drunk, an' they're goin' on strike, said Sandy. You know
the big demijohn in the lazaretto?
Rainey nodded. It was a two-handled affair holding five gallons, a
reserve supply of strong rum from which Lund dispensed the grog
allowances and stimulations for extra work toward the end of the shift,
the night-caps and occasional rewards.
They've swiped it, he said. Put an empty one from the hold in its
place. We got plenty without usin' that one for a while, an' I only
happened to notice it this morning by chance. They've bin drinkin' all
night, I reckon. They're ugly, Mr. Rainey. It's the crew this time.
They got the booze. The hunters are sober. Deming ain't in on this.
They did it on their own. I don't know how they got it. I didn't get it
for 'em, sir. They must have worked plumb through the hold an' got to
it that way.
All right, Sandy. Thanks. Mr. Lund can handle them, I guess. He's
The men had got to the ice, hidden from Lund, who was walking to the
Karluk on the opposite side of the vessel. The seamen were
gesticulating freely; the sound of their voices came up to him where he
stood, tinged with a new freedom of speech, rough, confident, menacing.
As they climbed the trail their legs betrayed them and confirmed the
boy's story. Behind them came the four hunters, with Hansen, walking
apart, watching the sailors with a certain gravity that communicated
itself despite the distance.
Lund showed at the far rail of the schooner with his bar. He glanced
toward the men going to work, went below, and came up with a sweater.
He had left the bar behind him in the cabin, where it was used for a
The men filed by Rainey, their faces flushed and their eyes
unusually bright. They seemed to share a prime joke that wanted to
bubble up and over, yet held a restraint upon themselves that was eased
by digs in one another's ribs, in laughs when one stumbled or
But Hansen was stolid as ever, and the hunters had evidently not
shared the stolen liquor. Only Deming's eyes roved over the group of
men as they gathered round for their cups and pannikins of food. He
seemed to be calculating what advantage he could gain out of this
Peggy Simms, under cover of pouring the coffee, sweetened heavily
with condensed milk, found time to speak to Rainey.
They're all drunk, she said.
Not all of them. Here comes Lund. He'll handle it.
Lund seemed still pondering the problem of the floe. At first he did
not notice the condition of the sailors. Then he apparently ignored it.
But, after they had eaten, he talked to all the men.
Two more days of it, lads, and we're through. The beach is nigh
cleared. We can git out of the floe to blue water easy enough, an'
we'll git a good start on the patrol-ship. We'll go back with full
pockets an' heavy ones. The shares'll be half as large again as we've
figgered. I wouldn't wonder if they averaged sixteen or seventeen
thousand dollars apiece.
Rainey had picked out a black-bearded Finn as the leader of the
sailors in their debauch. The liquor seemed to have unchained in him a
spirit of revolt that bordered on insolence. He stood with his bowed
legs apart, mittened hands on hips, staring at Lund with a covert grin.
Next to Lund he was the biggest man aboard. With the rum giving an
unusual coordination to his usually sluggish nervous system, he
promised to be a source of trouble.
Rainey was surprised to see him shrug his shoulders and lead the way
to the beach. Perhaps breakfast had sobered them, though the fumes of
liquor still clung cloudily on the air.
Lund went down, with Rainey beside him, reporting Sandy.
I'll work it out of 'em, said Lund. That booze'll be an expensive
luxury to 'em, paid for in hard labor.
They found the men ranged up in three groups. Deming and Beale,
against custom, had gone down to the beach. They were supposed to help
clean the food utensils, and aid Tamada after a meal, besides
replenishing the fires.
They stood a little away from the hunters and Hansen and the
sailors. The Finn, talking to his comrades in a low growl, was with a
There was an air of defiance manifest, a feeling of suspense in the
tiny valley, backed by the frowning cone, ribbed by the two icy
promontories. Lund surveyed them sharply.
What in hell's the matter with you? he barked. Hansen, send up a
man for the drills an' shovels. Yore work's laid out; hop to it!
We ain't goin' to work no more, said the Finn aggressively. Not
fo' no sich wage like you give.
Oh, you ain't, ain't you? mocked Lund. He was standing with Rainey
in the middle of the space they had cleared of gravel, the seamen lower
down the beach, nearer the sea, their ranks compacted. Why, you
booze-bitten, lousy hunky, what in hell do you want? You never saw
twenty dollars in a lump you c'u'd call yore own for more'n ten
minnits. You boardin'-house loafer an' the rest of you scum o' the
seven seas, git yore shovels an' git to diggin', or I'll put you ashore
in San Francisco flat broke, an' glad to leave the ship, at that.
The Finn snarled, and the rest stood firm. Not one of them knew the
real value of their promised share. Money represented only counters
exchanged for lodging, food and drink enough to make them sodden before
they had spent even their usual wages. Then they would wake to find the
rest gone, and throw themselves upon the selfish bounty of a
But they had seen the gold, they had handled it, and they were
inflamed by a sense of what it ought to do for them. Perhaps half of
them could not add a simple sum, could not grasp figures beyond a
thousand, at most. And the sight of so much gold had made it, in a
manner, cheap. It was there, a heap of it, and they wanted more of that
shining heap than had been promised them.
You talk big, said the Finn. Look my hands. He showed palms
calloused, split, swollen lumps of chilblained flesh worn down and
stiffened. I bin seaman, not goddam navvy.
Lund turned to the hunters.
You in on this? he asked. Deming and Beale moved off. Two of the
others joined them. Neutral? sneered Lund. I'll remember that.
Hansen and the two remaining came over beside Lund and Rainey.
Five of us, said Lund. Five men against twelve fo'c'sle rats.
I'll give you two minnits to start work.
You talk big with yore gun in pocket, said the Finn. Me good man
as you enny day.
Lund's face turned dark with a burst of rage that exploded in voice
You think I need my gun, do ye, you pack of rats? Then try it on
His hand slid to his holster inside his heavy coat. His arm swung,
there was a streak of gleaming metal in the lifting sun-rays, flying
over the heads of the seamen. It plunked in the free water beyond the
Come on, roared Lund, or I'll rush you to the first bath you've
had in five years. The Finn lowered his head, and charged; the rest
followed their leader. The hot food had steadied their motive control
to a certain extent, they were firmer on their feet, less vague of eye,
but the crude alcohol still fumed in their brains. Without it they
would never have answered the Finn's call to rebellion.
He had promised, and their drunken minds believed, that refusing in
a mass to work would automatically halt things until they got their
rights. They had not expected an open fight. The spur of alcohol had
thrust them over the edge, given them a swifter flow of their
impoverished blood, a temporary confidence in their own prowess, a mock
valor that answered Lund's contemptuous challenge.
Lund, thought Rainey, had done a foolhardy thing in tossing away his
gun. It was magnificent, but it was not war. Pure bravado! But he had
scant time for thinking. Lund tossed him a scrap of advice. Keep
movin'! Don't let 'em crowd you! Then the fight was joined.
The girl leaned out from the promontory to watch the tourney.
Tamada, impassive as ever, tended his fires. Sandy crept down to the
beach, drawn despite his will, and shuffled in and out, irresolute, too
weak to attempt to mix in, but excited, eager to help. Deming, Beale,
and the two neutral hunters, stood to one side, waiting, perhaps, to
see which way the fight went, reserves for the apparent victor.
The Finn, best and biggest of the sailors, rushed for Lund, his
little eyes red with rage, crazy with the desire to make good his boast
that he was as good as Lund. In his barbaric way he was somewhat of a
dancer, and his legs were as lissome as his arms. He leaped, striking
with fists and feet.
Lund met him with a fierce upper-cut, short-traveled, sent from the
hip. His enormous hand, bunched to a knuckly lump of stone, knocked the
Finn over, lifting him, before he fell with his nose driven in, its
bone shattered, his lips broken like overripe fruit, and his discolored
teeth knocked out.
He landed on his back, rolling over and over, to lie still, half
stunned, while two more sprang for Lund.
Lund roared with surprise and pain as one caught his red beard and
swung to it, smiting and kicking. He wrapped his left arm about the
man, crushing him close up to him, and, as the other came, diving low,
butting at his solar plexus, the giant gripped him by the collar, using
his own impetus, and brought the two skulls together with a thud that
left them stunned.
The two dropped from Lund's relaxed arms like sacks, and he stepped
over them, alert, poised on the balls of his feet, letting out a shout
of triumph, while he looked about him for his next adversary.
The bedrock on which they fought was slippery where ice had formed
in the crevices. Two seamen tackled Hansen. He stopped the curses of
one with a straight punch to his mouth, but the man clung to his arm,
bearing it down. Hansen swung at the other, and the blow went over the
shoulder as he dodged, but Hansen got him in chancery, and the three,
staggering, swearing, sliding, went down at last together, with Hansen
underneath, twisting one's neck to shut off his wind while he warded
off the wild blows of the second. With a wild heave he got on
all-fours, and then Lund, roaring like a bull as he came, tore off a
seaman and flung him headlong.
Pound him, Hansen! he shouted, his eyes hard with purpose, shining
like ice that reflects the sun, his nostrils wide, glorying in the
The Finn had got himself together a bit, wiping the gouts of blood
from his face and spitting out the snags of his broken teeth. He drew a
knife from inside his shirt, a long, curving blade, and sidled, like a
crab, toward Lund, murder in his piggy, bloodshot eyes, waiting for a
chance to slip in and stab Lund in the back, calling to a comrade to
Come on, he called, Olsen, wit' yore knife. Gut the swine!
Another blade flashed out, and the pair advanced, crouching, knees
and bodies bent. Lund backed warily toward the opposite cliff, looking
for a loose rock fragment. He had forbidden knives to the sailors since
the mutiny, and had forced a delivery, but these two had been hidden. A
knife to the Finn was a natural accessory. Only his drunken frenzy had
made him try to beat Lund at his own game.
One of the two hunters, lamed with a kick on the knee, howling with
the pain, clinched savagely and bore the seaman down, battering his
head against a knob of rock. The other friendly hunter had bashed and
buffeted his opponent to submission. But Rainey was in hard case.
A seaman, half Mexican, flew at him like a wildcat. Rainey struck
out, and his fists hit at the top of the breed's head without stopping
him. Then he clinched.
The Mexican was slippery as an eel. He got his arms free, his hands
shot up, and his thumbs sought the inner corners of Rainey's eyes. The
sudden, burning anguish was maddening and he drove his clasped fists
upward, wedging away the drilling fingers.
Two hands clawed at his shoulders from behind. Some one sprang
fairly on his back. A knee thrust against his spine.
The agony left him helpless, the vertebræ seemed about to crack.
Strength and will were shut off, and the world went black. And then one
of the hunters catapulted into the struggle, and the four of them went
down in a maddened frenzy of blows and stifled shouts.
The sailors fought like beasts, striving for blows barred by all
codes of decency and fair play, intent to maim. Lund had got his
shoulders against the rocks and stood with open hands, watching the two
with their knives, who crept in, foot by foot, to make a finish.
Peggy Simms, a strand of her pale yellow hair whipped loose, flung
it out of her eyes as she stood on the edge of the cliff, her lips
apart, her breasts rising stormily, watching; her features changing
with the tide of battle as it surged beneath her, punctuated with
muffled shouts and wind-clipped oaths. She saw Lund at bay, and
snatched out her pistol. But the distance was too great. She dared not
trust her aim.
Sandy, dancing in and out, willing but helpless, bound by fear and
lack of muscle, saw Deming, followed by Beale, stealing up the trail,
unnoticed by the girl, who leaned far forward, watching the fight, her
eyes on Lund and the two creeping closer with their knives, cautious
but determined. Tamada stood farther back and could not see them.
The lad's wits, sharpened by his forecastle experience, surmised
what Deming and Beale were after as they gained the promontory flat and
ran toward the fires.
Hey! he shrilled. Look out; they're after the tools!
Deming's hand was stretched toward a shovel, its worn steel scoop
sharp as a chisel. Beale was a few feet behind him. They were going to
toss the shovels and drills down to the seamen.
Tamada turned. His face did not change, but his eyes gleamed as he
thrust a dipper in the steaming remnants of the pea-soup and flung the
thick blistering mass fair in Deming's face. At the same moment the
girl's pistol cracked with a stab of red flame. Beale dropped, shot in
the neck, close to the collarbone, twisting like a scotched snake,
rolling down the trail to the beach again.
Deming, howling like a scorched devil, clawed with one hand at the
sticky mass that masked him as he ran blind, wild with pain. He
tripped, clutched, and lost his hold, slid on a plane of icy lava,
smooth as glass, struck a buttress that sent him off at a tangent down
the face of the cliff, bounding from impact with an outthrust elbow of
the rock, whirling into space, into the icy turmoil of the waves,
flooding into the inlet.
Peggy Simms fled down the trail with a steel drill in either hand,
straight across the beach toward Lund. The Finn turned on her with a
snarl and a side-swipe of his knife, but she leaped aside, dodged the
other slow-foot, and thrust a drill at Lund, who grasped it with a cry
of exultation, swinging it over his head as if it had been a bamboo.
Hansen had shaken off his men, and came leaping in for the second
The knife fell tinkling on the frozen rock as Lund smashed the wrist
of the Finn. The girl's gun made the second would-be stabber throw up
his hands while Hansen snatched his weapon, flung it over the farther
cliff, and knocked the seaman to the ground before he joined Lund,
charging the rest, who fled before the sight of them and the threat of
the bars of steel.
Lund laughed loud, and stopped striking, using the drill as a goad,
driving them into a huddled horde, like leaderless sheep, knee-deep,
thigh-deep, into the water, where they stopped and begged for mercy
while Hansen turned to put a finish to the separate struggles.
It ended as swiftly as it had begun. One hunter could barely stand
for his kicked knee, Rainey's back was strained and stiffening, Lund
had lost a handful of his beard, and Hansen's cheek was laid open.
On the other side the casualties were more severe. Deming was
drowned, his body flung up by the tide, rolling in the swash. Beale was
coughing blood, though not dangerously wounded. The Finn was crying
over his broken wrist, all the fight out of him. Ribs were sore where
not splintered from the drills, and the two bumped by Lund sat up with
sorely aching heads. The courage inspired by the liquor was all gone;
oozed, beaten out of them. They were cowed, demoralized, whipped.
Lund took swift inventory, lining them up as they came timorously
out of the water or straggled against the cliff at his order. Tamada
had come down from the fires. Peggy had told of his share, and Sandy's
timely shout. Lund nodded at him in a friendly manner.
You're a white man, Tamada, he said. You, too, Sandy. I'll not
forget it. Rainey, round up these derelicts an' help Tamada fix 'em up.
I'll settle with 'em later. Hansen, put the rest of 'em to work, an'
keep 'em to it! Do you hear? They got to do the work of the whole
They went willingly enough, limping, nursing their bruises, while
Hansen, his stolidity momentarily vanished in the rush of the fight and
not yet regained, exhibited an unusual vocabulary as he bossed them.
Lund turned to the two hunters, who had stood apart.
Wal, you yellow-bellied neutrals, he said, his voice cold and his
eyes hard. Thought I might lose, and hoped so, didn't you? Pick up
that skunk Beale an' tote him aboard. Then come back an' go to work.
You'll git yore shares, but you'll not git what's comin' to those who
stood by. Now git out of my sight. You can bury That when you come
back. He nodded at the sodden corpse of Deming, flung up on the grit.
You can take yore pay as grave-diggers out of what you owe him at
poker. He ain't goin' to collect this trip.
Rainey, lame and sore, helped Tamada patch up the wounded, turning
the hunters' quarters into a sick bay, using the table for operation.
Beale was the worst off, but Tamada pronounced him not vitally damaged.
After he had finished with them he insisted upon Rainey's lying, face
down, on the table, stripped to the waist, while he rubbed him with oil
and then kneaded him. Once he gave a sudden, twisting wrench, and
Rainey saw a blur of stars as something snapped into place with a
I think you soon all right, now, said Tamada.
You and Miss Simms turned the tide, said Rainey. If they'd got
those tools first they'd have finished us in short order.
Fools! said Tamada. Suppose they kill Lund, how they get away? No
one to navigate. Presently the gunboat would find them. I think Mr.
Lund will maybe trust me now, he said quietly.
What do you mean?
Mr. Lund think in the back of his head I arrange for that gunboat
to come. He can not understand how they know the schooner at island. He
think to come jus' this time too much curious, I think.
It was a bit of a coincidence.
Tamada shrugged his shoulders slightly.
I think Japanese government know all that goes on in North Polar
region, he said. There is wireless station on Wrangell Island. We
pass by that pretty close.
Rainey chewed that information as he put on his clothes, wondering
if they had seen the last of the gunboat. They would have to pass south
through Bering Strait. It would be easy to overhaul them, halt them,
search the schooner, confiscate the gold. They were not out of trouble
When he went into the cabin to replace his torn coathe had hardly
a button intact above the waist, from jacket to undershirthe found
the girl there with Lund. Apparently, they had just come in. Peggy
Simms, with face aglow with the excitement that had not subsided, was
proffering Lund her pistol.
Keep it, he said. You may need it. I've got mine.
But you threw it into the water. I saw you.
No, He laughed. That wasn't my gun. They thought it was. I wanted
to bring the thing to grips. But I wasn't fool enough to chuck away my
gun. That was a wrench I was usin' this mornin' to fix the cabin
stovelooks jest like an ottermatic. I stuck it in my inside pocket. I
was ha'f a mind to shoot when they showed their knives, but I didn't
want to use my gun on that mess of hash.
He stood tall and broad above her, looking down at the face that was
raised to his. Rainey, unnoticed as yet, saw her eyes bright with
You are a wonderful fighter, she said softly.
Wonderful? What about you? A man's woman! You saved the day. Comin'
to me with them drills. An' we licked 'em. We. God!
He swept her up into his arms, lifting her in his big hands, making
no more of her than if she had been a feather pillow, up till her face
was on a level with his, pressing her close, while in swift, indignant
rage she fought back at him, striking futilely while he held her,
kissed her, and set her down as Rainey sprang forward.
Lund seemed utterly unconscious of the girl's revulsion.
Comin' to me with the drills! he said. We licked 'em. You an' me
together. My woman!
Peggy Simms had leaped back, her eyes blazing. Lund came for her,
his face lit with the desire of her, arms outspread, hands open. Before
Rainey could fling himself between them, the girl had snatched the
little pistol that Lund had set on the table and fired point-blank. She
seemed to have missed, though Lund halted, his mouth agape, astounded.
You big bully! said Rainey. Now that the time had come he found
that he was not afraid of Lund, of his gun, of his strength. Play
fair, do you? Then show it! You asked me once why I didn't make love to
her. I told you. But you, you foul-minded bully! All you think of is
your big body, to take what it wants.
Peggy. Will you marry me? I can protect you from this hulking
brute. If it's to be a show-down between you and me, he flared at
Lund, still gazing as if stupefied, let it come now. Peggy?
The girl, tears on her cheeks that were born from the sobs of anger
that had shaken her, swung on him.
You? she said, and Rainey wilted under the scorn in her voice.
Marry you? She began to laugh hysterically, trying to check herself.
I didn't mean you enny harm, said Lund slowly, addressing Peggy.
Why, I wouldn't harm you, gal. You're my woman. You come to me. I was
jestjest sorter swept off my bearin's. Why, he turned to Rainey, his
voice down-pitching to a growl of angry contempt, you pen-shovin'
whippersnapper, I c'ud break you in ha'f with one hand. You ain't her
breed. Buthis voice changed againif it's a show-down, all right.
If I was to fight you, over her, I'd kill you. D'ye think I don't
respect a good gal? D'ye think I don't know how to love a gal right?
She's my mate. Not yours. But it's up to you, Peggy Simms. I
didn't mean to insult you. An' if you want himwhy, it's up to you to
choose between the two of us.
She went by Rainey as if he had not existed, straight into Lund's
arms, her face radiant, upturned.
It's you I love, Jim Lund, she said. A man. My man.
As her arms went round his neck she gave a little cry.
I wounded you, she said, and the tender concern of her struck
Rainey to the quick. Quick, let me see.
Wounded, hell! laughed Lund. D'ye think that popgun of yores c'ud
stop me? The pellet's somewheres in my shoulder. Let it bide. By God,
yo're my woman, after all. Lund's Luck!
Rainey went up on deck with that ringing in his ears. His
humiliation wore off swiftly as he crossed back toward the beach. By
the time he crossed the promontory he even felt relieved at the
outcome. He was not in love with her. He had known that when he
intervened. He had not even told her so. His chivalry had spokennot
his heart. And his thoughts strayed back to California. The other girl,
Diana though she was, would never, in almost one breath, have shot and
kissed the man she loved. A lingering vision of Peggy Simms' beauty as
she had gone to Lund remained and faded.
Lund's right, he told himself. She's not of my breed.
CHAPTER XVIII. LUND'S LUCK
Lund glanced at the geyser of spray where the shell from the
pursuing gunboat had fallen short, and then at the bank of mist ahead.
They were in the narrows of Bering Strait, between the Cape of Charles
and Prince Edward's Point, the gold aboard, a full wind in their sails,
making eleven knots to the gunboat's fifteen.
It was mid-afternoon, three hours since they had seen smoke to the
north and astern of them. Either the patrol had found them gone from
the island, freed by blasting from the floe, and followed on the trail
full speed, or the wireless from some Japanese station on the Tchukchis
coast had told of their homing flight.
The great curtain of fog was a mile ahead. The last shell had fallen
two hundred yards short. Five minutes more would settle it. Hansen had
the wheel. Lund stood by the taffrail, his arm about Peggy Simms. He
shook a fist at the gunboat, vomiting black smoke from her funnel, foam
about her bows.
We'll beat 'em yet, he cried.
The next shell, with more elevation, whined parallel with them, sped
ahead, and smashed into the waves.
Hold yore course, Hansen! No time to zigzag. Got to chance it. Damn
it, they know how to shoot!
A missile had gone plump through main and foresails, leaving round
holes to mark the score. Another fairly struck the main topmast, and
some splinters came rattling down, while the remnants of the top-sail
flapped amid writhing ends of halyard and sheet.
They entered the beginning of the fog, curling wisps of it reached
out, twining over the bowsprint and headsails, enveloping the foremast,
swallowing the schooner as a hurtling shell crashed into the stern. The
next instant the mist had sheltered them. Lund released the girl and
jumped to the wheel.
Now then, he shouted, we'll fool 'em! He gripped the spokes, and
the men ran to the sheets at command while the Karluk shot off
at right angles to her previous course, skirting the fog that blanketed
the wind but yet allowed sufficient breeze to filter through to give
them headway, gliding like a ghost on the new tack to the east.
Rainey, tense from the explosion of the shell, jumped below at last
and came back exultant.
It was a dud, Lund! he shouted. Or else they didn't want to blow
us up on account of the gold. But they've wrecked the cabin. The fog's
coming in through the hole they made. Tamada's galley's gone. It's
raked the schooner!
So long's it's above the water line, to hell with it! We'll make
out. Listen to the fools. They've gone in after us, straight on.
The booming of the gunboat's forward battery sounded aft of them,
dulled by the foggrowing fainter.
Lund's luck! We've dodged 'em!
They'll be waiting for us at the passes, said Rainey. They've got
the speed on us.
Let 'em wait. To blazes with the Aleutians! Ready again there for a
tack! Sou'-east now. We'll work through this till we git to the wind
ag'in. It's all blue water to the Seward Peninsula. We're bound for
For Nome? asked Peggy Simms.
Nome, Peggy! An American port. The nearest harbor. An' the nearest