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On Board the Tucopia by Louis Becke

 

The little island trading barque Tucopia , Henry Robertson, master, lay just below Garden Island in Sydney Harbour, ready to sail for the Friendly Islands and Samoa as soon as the captain came on board. At nine o'clock, as Bruce, the old, white-haired, Scotch mate, was pointing out to Mrs. Lacy and the Reverend Wilfrid Lacy the many ships around, and telling them from whence they came or where they were bound, the second mate called out—

"Here's the captain's boat coming, sir."

Bruce touched his cap to the pale-faced, violet-eyed clergyman's wife, and turning to the break of the poop, at once gave orders to "heave short," leaving the field clear to Mr. Charles Otway, the supercargo of the Tucopia , who was twenty-two years of age, had had seven years' experience of general wickedness in the South Seas, thought he was in love with Mrs. Lacy, and that, before the barque reached Samoa, he would make the lady feel that the Reverend Wilfrid was a serious mistake, and that he, Charles Otway, was the one man in the world whom she could love and be happy with for ever. So, being a hot-blooded and irresponsible young villain, though careful and decorous to all outward seeming, he set himself to work, took exceeding care over his yellow, curly hair, and moustache, and abstained from swearing in Mrs. Lacy's hearing.


A week before, Mr. and Mrs. Lacy had called at the owner's office and inquired about a passage to Samoa in the Tucopia , and Otway was sent for.

"Otway," said the junior partner, "can you make room on the Tucopia for two more passengers—nice people, a clergyman and his wife."

"D——all nice people, especially clergymen and their wives," he answered promptly—for although the youngest supercargo in the firm, he was considered, the smartest—and took every advantage of the fact. "I'm sick of carting these confounded missionaries about, Mr. Harry. Last trip we took two down to Tonga—beastly hymn-grinding pair, who wanted the hands to come aft every night to prayers, and played-up generally with the discipline of the ship. Robertson never interfered, and old Bruce, who is one of the psalm-singing kidney himself, encouraged the beasts to turn the ship into a floating Bethel."

"Mr. Harry" laughed good-naturedly. "Otway, my boy, you mustn't put on so much side—the firm can't afford it. If you hadn't drunk so much whisky last night you would be in a better temper this morning."

"Oh, if you've got some one else to take my billet on the Tucopia , why don't you say so, instead of backing and filling about, like a billy-goat in stays? I don't care a damn if you load the schooner up to her maintop with sky-pilots and their dowdy women-kind. I've had enough of 'em, and I hereby tender you my resignation. I can get another and a better ship to-morrow, if—"

"Sit down, you cock-a-hoopy young ass," and "Mr. Harry" hit the supercargo a good-humoured but stiff blow in the chest. "These people aren't missionaries; they're a cut above the usual breed. Man's a gentleman; woman's as sweet as a rosebud. Now look here, Otway; we give you a pretty free hand generally, but in this instance we want you to stretch a point—you can give these people berths in the trade-room, can't you?"

The supercargo considered a moment. "There's a lot returning this trip. First, there's the French priest for Wallis Island—nice old buffer, but never washes, and grinds his teeth in his sleep—he's in the cabin next to mine; old Miss Wiedermann for Tonga—cabin on starboard side—fussy old cat, who is always telling me that she can distinctly hear Robertson's bad language on deck. But her brother is a good sort, and so I put up with her. Then there's Captain Burr, in the skipper's cabin, two Samoan half-caste girls in the deck-house—there's going to be trouble over those women, old Bruce says, and I don't doubt it—and the whole lot will have their meals in the beastly dog-kennel you call a saloon, and I call a sweat-box."

" Thank you, Mr. Otway. Your elegant manner of speaking shows clearly the refining influence of the charming people with whom you associate. Just let me tell you this—you looked like a gentleman a year or two ago, but become less like one every day."

"No wonder," replied Otway sullenly, "the Island trade is not calculated to turn out Chesterfields. I'm sick enough of it, now we are carrying passengers as well as cargo. I suppose the firm will be asking us supercargoes to wear uniform and brass buttons soon, like the ticket collector on a penny ferry."

"Quite likely, my sulky young friend—quite likely, if it will pay us to do so."

"Then I'll clear out, and go nigger-catching again in the Solomons. That's a lot better than having to be civil to people who worry the soul out of you, are always in the way at sea, and a beastly nuisance in port. Why, do you know what old Miss Weidermann did at Manono, in Samoa, when we were there buying yams three months ago?"

"No; what did she do?"

"Got the skipper and myself into a howling mess through her infernal interference; and if the chiefs and old Mataafa himself had not come to our help there would have been some shooting, and this firm could never have sent another ship to Manono again. It makes me mad when I think of it—the silly old bundle of propriety and feminine spite."

"Tell me all about it, Otway. 'Twill do you good, I can see, to unburden yourself of some of your bad temper. Shut that door, and we'll have a brandy-and-soda together."

"Well," said Otway, "this is what occurred. I was ashore in the village, buying and weighing the yams, the skipper was lending me a hand, and everything was going on bully, when Mataafa and his chiefs sent an invitation to us to come up to his house and drink kava. Of course such an invitation from the native point of view was a great honour; and then, besides that, it was good business to keep in with old Mataafa, who had just given the Germans a thrashing at Vailele, and was as proud as a dog with two tails. So, although I hate kava, I accepted the invitation with 'many expressions of pleasure,' and felt sure that as the old fellow knew me of old, and I knew he wanted to buy some rifles, that I should get the bulk of a bag of sovereigns his mongrel, low-down American secretary was carrying around. So oft went the skipper and I, letting the yams stand over till we returned; the barque was lying about a mile off the beach. Mataafa was very polite to us, and during the kava drinking I found out that he had about three hundred sovereigns, and wanted to see the Martini-Henrys we had on board. Of course I told him that it would be a serious business for the ship if he gave us away—imprisonment in a dreadful dungeon in Fiji, if not hanging at the yard-arm or a man-of-war—and the old cock winked his eye and laughed. Then, as time was valuable, we at once concocted a plan to get the rifles—fifty—ashore without making too much of a show. Well, among some of the women present there were two great swells, one was the taupo , or town maid, of Palaulae in Savaii, and the other was a niece of Mataafa himself. These two, accompanied by a lot of young women of Manono, were to go off on board the barque in our boats, ostensibly to pay their respects to the white lady on board, and invite her on shore, so as to get her out of the way; then I was to pass the arms out of the stern ports into some canoes which would be waiting just as it became dark. About five o'clock they started off in one boat, leaving me and the skipper to follow in another. I had sent a note off to the mate telling him all about the little game, and to be mighty polite to the two chief women, who were to be introduced to Miss Weidermann, give the old devil some presents of mats, fruits, and such things, and ask her to come ashore as Mataafa's guest.

"Well, something had gone wrong with the Weidermann's temper; for when the women came on board she was sulking in her cabin, and refused to show her vinegary face outside her state-room door. Thinking she would get over her tantrum in a few minutes, the mate invited the two Samoan ladies and their attendants down into the cabin, where they awaited her appearance, behaving themselves, of course, very decorously, it being a visit of ceremony.

"Presently Old Cat-face opened her door, and then, without giving the native ladies time to utter a word, she launched out at them in her bastard-mongrel Samoan-Tongan. The first thing she said was that she knew the kind of women they were, and what had brought them on board! How dared such brazen, shameless cattle come into the cabin! Into the same cabin as a white lady! The bold, half-naked, disgraceful hussies, etc., etc. And then she capped the thing by calling to the steward to come and drive them out!

"Not one of the native women could answer her. They were all simply dumbfounded at such a gross insult, and left the cabin in silence. The mate tried to smooth things over, but one of the women—Mataafa's niece—gave him a look that told him to say no more. In half an hour the whole lot of them were back on the beach, and came up to the chiefs house, where the skipper and myself were having a final drink of kava with old Mataafa and his faipule . The face of the elder of the two women was blazing with anger, and then, pointing to the captain and myself, she gave us such a tongue-lashing for sending her off to the ship to be shamed and insulted, that made us blush. Old Mataafa waited until she had finished, and then, with an ugly gleam in his eye but speaking very quietly, asked us what it meant.

"What could we say but that it was no fault of ours; and then, by a happy inspiration, I added that although Miss Weidermann was generally well-conducted enough, she sometimes got blazing drunk, and made a beast of herself. This explanation satisfied the chiefs, if not the women, and everything went on smoothly. And as it was then nearly dark, and I was determined that Mataafa should get his rifles, half a dozen of his men took us off in their canoes, and we went on board. The skipper and I had fixed up as to what we should do with the Weidermann creature. She was seated at the cabin table waiting to open out on us, but the skipper didn't give her a chance.

"'Go to your cabin at once, madam,' he said solemnly, 'and I trust you will not again leave it in your present condition. Your conduct is simply astounding. Steward, see that you give Miss Weidermann no more grog .'

"The poor old girl thought that either he or she herself was going mad, but he gave her no time to talk. The captain opened her state-room door, gently pushed her in, and put a man outside to see that she didn't come out again. Then we handed out the rifles through the stern-ports to the natives in the canoes, and sent them away rejoicing. And that's the end of the yarn, and Miss Weidermann nearly went into a fit next morning when we told her that no less than thirty respectable native women had taken their oaths that she was mad drunk, and abused them vilely."

The junior partner laughed loudly at the story, and Otway, with a more amiable look on his face, rose.

"Well, I'll do what I can for these people. I'll make room for them somehow. Where are they going?"

" Samoa. They have an idea of settling down there, I think, for a few months, and then going on to China. They have plenty of money, apparently."

"Oh, well, tell them to come on board to-morrow, and I'll show them what can be done for them."


So the Rev. and Mrs. Lacy did come on board, and Mr. Charles Otway was vanquished by just one single glance from the lady's violet eyes.

"It would have been such a dreadful disappointment to us if we could not have obtained passages in the Tucopia ," she said, in her soft, sweet voice, as she sank back in the deck-chair he placed before her. "My husband is so bent on making a tour through Samoa. Now, do tell me, Mr. Otway, are these islands so very lovely?"

"Very, very lovely, Mrs. Lacy," replied Otway, leaning with his back against the rail and regarding her with half-closed eyes; "as sweet and fair to look upon as a lovely woman—a woman with violet eyes and lips like a budding rose."

She gave him one swift glance, seemingly in anger, yet her eyes smiled into his; then she bent her head and regarded the deck with intense interest. Otway thought he had scored. She was sure she had.

Otway had just shown her and her husband his own cabin, and had told them that they could occupy it—he would make himself comfortable in the trade-room, he said. This was after the first look from the violet eyes.


Robertson, the skipper, came aboard, shook hands with Mrs. Lacy and her husband, nodded to the other passengers, dived below for a moment or two, and then reappeared on deck, full of energy, blasphemy, and anxiety to get under way. In less than an hour the smart barque was outside the Heads, and heeling over to a brisk south-westerly breeze. Two days later she was four hundred miles on her course.

The Rev. Wilfrid Lacy soon made himself very agreeable to the rest of the passengers, who all agreed that he was a splendid type of parson, and even Otway, who had as much principle as a rat and began making love to his wife from the outset, liked him. First of all, he was not the usual style of travelling clergyman. He didn't say grace at meals, he smoked a pipe, drank whisky and brandy with Otway and Robertson, told rattling good stories, and displayed an immediate interest when the skipper mentioned that the second mate was a "bit of a bruiser," and that there were gloves on board; and the second mate, a nuggety little Tynesider, at once consented to a friendly mill as soon as he was off duty.

"Wilfrid," said Mrs. Lacy, "you'll shock every one. I can see that Captain Robertson wonders what sort of a clergyman you are."

Robertson saw the merry light in her dark eyes, and then laughed aloud as he saw Miss Weidermann's face. It expressed the very strongest disapproval, and during the rest of the meal the virgin lady preserved a dismal silence. The rest of the passengers, however, "took" to the clerical gentleman at once. With old Father Roget—the Marist missionary who sat opposite him—he soon entered into an animated conversation, while the two De Boos girls, vivacious Samoan half-castes, attached themselves to his wife. Seated beside Otway was another passenger, an American skipper named Burr, who was going to Apia to take command of a vessel belonging to the same firm as the Tucopia . He was a silent, good-looking man of about sixty, and possessed of much caustic humour and a remarkable fund of smoking-room stories, which, on rare occasions, he would relate in an inimitable, drawling manner, as if he was tired. The chief mate was a deeply but not obtrusively religious Scotsman; the second officer, Allen, was a young man of thirty, an excellent seaman, but rough to the verge of brutality with the crew. Bruce, on the other hand, was too easy-going and patient.

"I never want to raise my hand against a man," he said one day, as a protest, when Allen gave one of the crew an unmerciful cuff which sent him down as if he had been shot.

"Neither do I," replied Allen, "I prefer raising my foot. But it's habit, Mr. Bruce, only habit."

For five days the barque ran steadily on an E.N.E. course, then on the sixth day the wind hauled, and by sunset it was blowing hard from the eastward with a fast-gathering sea. By two in the morning Robertson and his officers knew that they were in for a three-days' easterly gale; a few hours later it was decided to heave-to, as the sea had become dangerous, and the little vessel was straining badly. Just after this had been done, the gale set in with redoubled fury, and when Mrs. Lacy came on deck shortly before breakfast, she shuddered at the wild spectacle. Coming to the break of the poop, she clasped the iron rail with both hands, and gazed fearfully about her.

"You had better go below, ma'am," said the second mate, who was standing near, talking to Otway, "there's some nasty, lumpy seas."

Then he gave a yell.

"Look out there!"

Springing to Mrs. Lacy's side, he clasped his left arm around her waist, and held on tightly to the iron rail with his right, just as a vast mountain of water took the barque amidships, fell on her deck with terrific force, and fairly buried her from the topgallant foc'scle to the level of the poop. In less than half a minute the galley, for'ard deck-house, long-boat, which was lying on the main hatch, and the port bulwarks had vanished, together with three poor seamen who were asleep in the deck-house. The fearful crash brought the captain flying on deck. One glance showed him that there was no chance of saving the men—to attempt to lower a boat in such a sea was utterly impossible, and would be madness itself. He sighed, and then took off his cap. Allen and Otway followed his example.

"Is there no hope for them?" Mrs. Lacy whispered to Otway.

"None," replied the supercargo in a low voice. "None." Then he urged her to go below, as it was not safe for her to remain on deck. She went at once, and met her husband just as he was leaving their cabin.

"What is the matter, Nell?" he asked, as he saw that tears were in her eyes.

"Three poor men have been carried overboard, Wilfrid. They were in the deck-house asleep ten minutes ago—now they are gone! Oh, isn't it dreadful, dreadful!" And then she sat down beside him and wept silently.

Breakfast was a forlorn meal—Robertson and his officers were not present, and Otway took the captain's seat. He, too, only remained to drink a cup of coffee, then hurriedly went on deck. Lacy rose at the same time, but at the foot of the companion, Otway motioned him to stop.

"Don't come on deck awhile, if you please," he said, "and tell the ladies to keep to the cabin."

"Anything fresh gone wrong?"

"Yes," replied the supercargo, looking steadily at the clergyman—"the ship is making water badly. Don't you hear the pumps going? Tell the ladies not to come on deck—say it is not safe. And if the old Weidermann girl hears the pumps, and gets inquisitive, tell her that a lot of water got into the hold when that big sea tumbled aboard. She's an inquisitive old ass, and would be bound to tell the other ladies that the ship is in danger."

Lacy nodded. "All right, I'll see to her. How long has the ship been leaking?"

"For quite a long time. And there is fourteen inches in her, and it's as much as we can do to keep it under."

" That is serious."

Otway nodded. "Yes, it is serious in weather like this. Now I must go. Daresay we may give you a call in the course of the morning. Ever try a spell at old-fashioned brake pumps? Fine exercise."

"I'm ready now if you want me," was the quiet answer.

The Tucopia was indeed in a pretty bad case. Immediately after the fatal sea had swept her decks the carpenter had sounded the well and found fifteen inches of water, some little of which had got below through the fore-scuttle, but the greater portion, it was soon evident, was the result of a leak. The barque was a comparatively new vessel, and Robertson and his officers, after two hours' pumping, came to the conclusion that she had either strained herself badly or a butt-end had started somewhere.

For two hours the crew worked at the pumps, taking a spell of ten minutes every half-hour, Otway, the American captain Burr, and Mr. Lacy all lending a hand. Then the well was sounded, and showed two inches less.

Robertson ordered the men to come aft and get a glass of grog. They trooped down into the cabin wet and exhausted, and the steward served them each out half a tumblerful of good French brandy. They drank it off, and then went on deck again to have a smoke before resuming pumping. A quarter of an hour later the pumps choked. There were a hundred tons of coal in the lower hold, and some of the small of it had been drawn up. By the time the carpenter had them cleared the water had gained seven inches, and the little barque was labouring heavily. Again, however, the willing crew turned to and pumped steadily for another hour, but only succeeded in reducing the water by an inch or two. Then Robertson called his officers together and consulted.

"We can't keep on like this much longer," he said, "the water is gaining on us too fast. And we can't run before such a sea as this, in our condition; we should be pooped in less than five minutes. We shall have to take to the boats in another couple of hours, unless a change takes place. Mr. Allen, and you, Mr. Otway, see to the two boats, and get them in readiness."

Then he went below to the passengers. They were all seated in the main cabin, and looked anxiously at him as he entered.

"I am sorry to tell you, ladies," he said quietly, "that the ship is leaking so badly that I fear we shall have to abandon her. The men cannot keep on pumping much longer, now that we are three hands short. Fortunately we have two good boats, and, if we must take to them, shall have no trouble in reaching land."

They heard him in silence, then the old priest opened his state-room door, and came out.

"That is bad news indeed, captain," he said gently. "Still we must bow to God's will, and trust to His guidance and protection. And you and your officers and crew are good and brave seamen."

"Thank you, father. We'll do all right if we have to take to the boats. And you must try and cheer up the ladies. Now I must leave you all for awhile. We will stick to the pumps for another hour or two."

"Captain," said Sarah de Boos, a tall, finely built young woman of twenty, "let my sister and myself and our servant help the men at the pump. Do , please. We are all three very strong, and our help is surely worth having."

Robertson patted her soft cheek with his big, sunburnt hand. "You are your father's daughter, Sarah, and I thank you. Of course your help would be something; three fine lusty young women"—he tried to smile—"but it's too dangerous for you to be on deck. All the bulwarks are gone, and nasty lumping seas come aboard every now and then."

"I'm not afraid of a life-line hurting my waist," was the prompt answer, "and neither is Sukie—are you Sukie? Go on deck, captain, and Sukie and I and Mina" (the servant) "will just kick off our boots and follow you."

"And I too," broke in old Father Roget. "Surely I am not too old to help."

In less than five minutes the two half-caste girls, the native woman Mina, and the old priest, were working the starboard brake, three seamen being on the lee side. Every now and then, as the barque took a heavy roll to windward, the water would flood her deck up to the workers' knees; but they stuck steadily to their task for half an hour, when they gave place to Burr, the carpenter, the Rev. Wilfrid, and three native seamen.

In the cabin Mrs. Lacy sat with ashen-hued face beside Miss Weidermann, their hands clasped together, and listening to the wild clamour of the wind and sea. Presently the two De Boos girls, Lacy, Father Roget, and Mina, came below to rest awhile, the water streaming from their sodden garments. The old priest, thoroughly exhausted, threw himself down upon the transom locker cushions.

"Wilfrid," said Mrs. Lacy coming over to him and placing her shaking hand on his shoulder, "cannot I do something? Oh, Miss De Boos, I wish I were brave, like you. But I am not—I am a coward, and I hate myself for it."

The Rev. Wilfrid smiled tenderly at her as he drew her to him for a moment. "Don't worry, little woman. You can't do anything—yes, you can, though! Get me my pipe and fill it for me. My hands are wet and cramped."

Sukie De Boos, whose firm, rounded bosom and strong square shoulders made a startling contrast, as they revealed their shape under her soddened blouse, to Mrs. Lacy's fragile figure, impulsively put her hands out, and taking Mrs. Lacy's face between them, kissed her twice.

"Dear Mrs. Lacy," she said, "don't be frightened, please. Now get Mr. Lacy's pipe, and I'll rummage the steward's pantry and get some food for us all to eat. Mr. Otway told me to tell you and Miss Weidermann to eat something, as maybe we may not get anything for some hours. So I'm just going to stay here and see that every one does eat. I'll set you a good example."

In a few minutes she laid upon the table an assortment of tinned meats, bread, and some bottled beer, and some brandy for Father Roget and Lacy. Otway came down, followed by the steward, and nodded approval.

"That's right, Sukie. Eat as much as you can. I'll take a drink myself. Here's luck to you, Sukie. Perhaps we won't have to make up a boating party after all. But there's nothing like being ready. So will you, Mr. Lacy, lend a hand here with the steward, and pass up our provisions to the second mate? The captain will be down in a minute, and will tell you ladies what clothing to get ready. For my part I'll be jolly glad if we do have to take to the boats, where we shall be nice and comfy, instead of rolling about in this beastly way—I'll be sea-sick in another ten minutes. Old Bruce says he felt sick an hour ago. Come on, steward."

The assumed cheerfulness of his manner produced a good effect, and even old Miss Weidermann plucked up heart a little as she saw him nonchalantly light a cigar as he disappeared with the steward below into the lazzarette.

On deck Robertson and the mate were talking in low tones, as they assisted the second mate with the boats. There was now nearly three feet of water in the hold, and every one knew that the barque could not keep afloat much longer. Fortunately the violence of the wind had decreased somewhat, though there was still a mountainous sea.

Both the old mate and the captain knew that the two small quarter boats would be dangerously overladen, and their unspoken fears were shared by the rest of the officers and crew. But another hour would perhaps make a great difference; and then as the two men were speaking a savage sea smote the Tucopia on the starboard bow, with such violence that she trembled in every timber, and as she staggered under the shock and then rolled heavily to windward, she dipped the starboard quarter boat under the water; it filled, and as she rose again, boat and davits went away together.

Robertson groaned and looked at the mate.

"It is God's will, sir," said the old Scotsman quietly.

Robertson nodded. "Tell Allen and the others to come here," he said.

The Tynesider, followed by Captain Burr, Otway, and the carpenter, came.

"Mr. Allen," said the captain, "you are the best man in such an emergency as this. You handle a boat better than any man I know. There is now only one boat left, and you must take charge of her. You will have to take a big lot of people—the four women, the parson, the old French priest, Mr. Otway, Captain Burr, the carpenter, and the five men."

"I guess I'll stand out, and stick to the ship," said Burr in a lazy, drawling manner, "I don't like bein' crowded up with a lot of wimmen."

" Neither do I, said Otway.

"Same here, captain," said the carpenter, a little grizzled man of sixty.

Robertson shook hands with each of them in turn. "I knew you were men ," he said simply. "Come below and let's have a drink together, and then see to the boat."

"What's all this, skipper?" said Allen, with an oath, "d'ye think I'm going to save my carcase and let you men drown? I'll see you all damned first!"

"You'll obey orders," growled the captain, "and my orders are that you take charge of that boat. And don't give me any lip. You are a married man and have children. None of us who are standing by the ship are married men. By God, my joker, if you don't know your duty, I'll teach you. Are you going to let these four women go adrift in a boat to perish when you can save them?"

Allen looked the captain squarely in the face and then put out his hand.

"I understand you, sir. But I don't like doing it. The ship won't keep afloat another hour. But, as you say, I've a wife and kids to consider."


Followed by the others, Robertson went below, and told his passengers to get ready for the boat. The old French priest, exhausted by his labour at the pumps, was still lying on the transom cushions, sleeping; the Rev. Lacy was seated at the table smoking his pipe (all the ladies were in their state-rooms). He rose as the men entered, and looked at them inquiringly.

" We're in a bit of a tight place," said the captain, as he coolly poured out half a tumblerful of brandy, "but I'm sending you, Mr. Lacy, and Father Roget, and the ladies away with Mr. Allen in one of the boats. Allen is a man whom I rely upon. He'll bring you ashore safely. He's a bit rough in his talk, but he's one of God's own chosen in a boat, and a fine sailor man—better than the mate, Captain Burr, or myself; isn't that so, Mr. Bruce?"

The white-haired old mate bent his head in acknowledgment. Then he stood up stiff and stark, his rough bony hands clasped upon his chest.

"I'll no' deny but that Mr. Allen is far and awa' the best man to have charge o' the boat. But as there is a meenister here, surely he will now offer up a prayer to the Almighty for those in peril on the sea, and especially implore Him to consider a sma' boat, deep to the gunwales."

He looked at the clergyman, who at first made no reply, but stood with downcast eyes. The men looked at him expectantly; he put one hand on the table, and then slowly raised his face.

"I think, gentlemen, that ... that Father Roget is the older man." He spoke haltingly, and a flush dyed his smooth, clean-shaven face from brow to chin. "Will you not ask him?" Then his eyes dropped again.

Robertson, who was in a hurry, and yet had a sincere but secret respect for old Bruce's unobtrusive religious feelings, now backed up his mate's request.

"I think, sir, that as the mate says, a bit of a short prayer would not be out of place just now, seeing the mess we are in. And that poor old gentleman over there is too done up to stand on his feet. So will you please begin, sir. Steward, call the ladies. We can no longer disguise from them, Mr. Lacy, that we are in a bad way—as bad a way as I have ever been in during my thirty years at sea."

In a couple of minutes the two De Boos girls, Miss Weidermann, and the native girl Mina, came out of their cabins; and when the steward said that Mrs. Lacy felt too ill to leave her berth, her husband could not help giving an audible sigh of relief. Then he braced up and spoke with firmness.

"Please shut Mrs. Lacy's door, steward. Mr. Bruce, will you lend me your church service—I do not want to go into my cabin for my own. My wife, I fear, has given way."

The mate brought the church service, and then whilst the men stood with bowed heads, and the women knelt, the clergyman, with strong, unfaltering voice read the second of the prayers "To be used in Storms at Sea." He finished, and then sitting down again, placed one hand over his eyes.

" The living, the living shall praise Thee ."

It was the old mate who spoke. He alone of the men had knelt beside the women, and when he rose his face bore such an expression of calmness and content, that Otway, who five minutes before had been silently cursing him for his "damned idiotcy," looked at him with a sudden mingled respect and wonder.

Stepping across to the clergyman, Bruce respectfully placed his hand on his shoulder, and as he spoke his clear blue eyes smiled at the still kneeling women.

"Cheer up, sir. God will protect ye and your gude wife, and us all. You, his meenister, have made supplication to Him, and He has heard. Dinna weep, ladies. We are in the care of One who holds the sea in the hollow of His hand."

Then he followed the captain and the others on deck, Otway alone remaining to assist the steward.

"For God's sake give me some brandy," said Lacy to him, in a low voice.

Otway looked at him in astonishment. Was the man a coward after all?

He brought the brandy, and with ill-disguised contempt placed it before him without a word. Lacy looked up at him, and his face flushed.

"Oh, I'm not funking—not a d——d bit, I can assure you."

Otway at once poured out a nip of brandy for himself, and clinked his glass against that of the clergyman.

"Pon my soul, I couldn't make it out, and I apologise. But a man's nerves go all at once sometimes—can't help himself, you know. Mine did once when I was in the nigger-catching business in the Solomon Islands. Natives opened fire on us when our boats were aground in a creek, and some of our men got hit. I wasn't a bit scared of a smack from a bullet, but when I got a scratch on my hand from an arrow, I dropped in a blue funk, and acted like a cur. Knew it was poisoned, felt sure I'd die of lockjaw, and began to weep internally. Then the mate called me a rotten young cur, shook me up, and put my Snider into my hand. But I shall always feel funky at the sight even of a child's twopenny bow and arrow. Now I must go."

The clergyman nodded and smiled, and then rising from his seat, he tapped at the door of his wife's state-room. She opened it, and then Otway, who was helping the steward, heard her sob hysterically.

"Oh, Will, Will, why did you? How could you? I love you, Will dear, I love you, and if death comes to us in another hour, another minute, I shall die happily with your arms round me. But, Will dear, there is a God, I'm sure there is a God.... I feel it in my heart, I feel it. And now that death is so near to us——"

Lacy put his arms around her, and lifted her trembling figure upon his knees.

"There, rest yourself, my pet."

"Rest! Rest?" she said brokenly, as Lacy drew her to him. "How can I rest when I think of how I have sinned, and how I shall die! Will dear, when I heard you reading that prayer—"

"I had to do it, Nell."

"Will, dear Will.... Perhaps God may forgive us both.... But as I sat here in my dark cabin, and listened to you reading that prayer, my husband's face came before me—the face that I thought was so dull and stupid. And his eyes seemed so soft and kind—"

" For God's sake, my dear little woman, don't think of what is past. We have made the plunge together——"

The woman uttered one last sobbing sigh. "I am not afraid to die, Will. I am not afraid, but when I heard you begin to read that prayer, my courage forsook me. I wanted to scream—to rush out and stop you, for it seemed to me as if you were doing it in sheer mockery."

"I can only say again, Nell, that I could not help myself; made me feel pretty sick, I assure you."

Their voices ceased, and presently Lacy stepped out into the main cabin, and then went on deck again.

Robertson met him with a cheerful face. "Come on, Mr. Lacy. I've some good news for you—we are making less water! The leak must be taking up in some way." Then holding on to the rail with one hand, he shouted to the men at the pumps.

"Shake her up, boys! shake her up. Here's Mr. Lacy come to lend a hand, and the supercargo and steward will be with you in a minute. Now I'm going below for a minute to tell the ladies, and mix you a bucket of grog. Shake her up, you, Tom Tarbucket, my bully boy with a glass eye! Shake her up, and when she sucks dry, I'll stand a sovereign all round."

The willing crew answered him with a cheer, and Tom Tarbucket, a square-built, merry faced native of Savage Island, who was stripped to the waist, shouted out, amid the laughter of his shipmates—

" Ay, ay, capt'in, we soon make pump suck dry if two Miss de Boos girl come."

Robertson laughed in response, and then picking up a wooden bucket from under the fife rail, clattered down the companion way.

"Where are you, Otway? Up you get on deck, and you too, steward. The leak is taken up and 'everything is lovely and the goose hangs high.' Up you go to the pumps, and make 'em suck. I'll bring up some grog presently."

Then as Otway and the steward sprang up on deck, the captain stamped along the cabin in his sodden sea boots, banging at each door.

"Come out, Sarah, come out Sukie, my little chickabiddies—there's to be no boat trip for you after all. Miss Weidermann, I've good news, good news! Mrs. Lacy, cheer up, dear lady. The leak has taken up, and you can go on deck and see your husband working at the pumps like a number one chop Trojan. Ha! Father Roget, give me your hand. You're a white man, sir, and ought to be a bishop."

As he spoke to the now awakened old priest, the two De Boos girls, Mrs. Lacy and Miss Weidermann, all came out of their cabins, and Robertson shook hands with them, and lifting Sukie de Boos up between his two rough hands as if she were a little girl, he kissed her, and then made a grab at Sarah, who dodged behind Mrs. Lacy.

"Now, father, don't you attempt to come on deck. Mrs. Lacy, just you keep him here. Sukie, my chick, you and Sarah get a couple of bottles of brandy, make this bucket full of half-and-half, and bring it on deck to the men."

As he noisily stamped out of the cabin again, the old priest turned to the ladies, and raised his hand—

"A brave, brave man—a very good English sailor. And now let us thank God for His mercies to us."

The four ladies, with Mina, knelt, and then the good old man prayed fervently for a few minutes. Then Sukie de Boos and her sister flung their arms around Mrs. Lacy, and kissed her, and even Miss Weidermann, now thoroughly unstrung, began to cry hysterically. She had at first detested Mrs. Lacy as being altogether too scandalously young and pretty for a clergyman's wife. Now she was ready to take her to her bosom (that is, to her metaphorical bosom, as she had no other), for she believed that Mr. Lacy's prayer had saved them all, he being a Protestant clergyman, and therefore better qualified to avert imminent death than a priest of Rome.

Sukie and Sally de Boos mixed the grog, took it on deck, and served it out to the men at the pumps.

The carpenter sounded the well, and as he drew up the iron rod, the second mate gave a shout.

"Only seven inches, captain."

"Right, my boy. Take a good spell now, Mr. Allen. Mr. Bruce, we can give her a bit more lower canvas now. She'll stand it. Mr. Lacy, and you Captain Burr, come aft and get into some dry togs. The glass is rising steadily, and in a few hours we'll feel a bit more comfy."

He prophesied truly, for the violence of the gale decreased rapidly, and when at the end of an hour the pumps sucked, the crew gave a cheer, and tired out as they were, eagerly sprang aloft to repair damages and then spread more sail, Sarah and Susan de Boos hauling and pulling at the running gear from the deck below. They were both girls of splendid physique, and, in a way, sailors, and had Robertson allowed them to do so, would have gone aloft and handled the canvas with the men.

By four o'clock in the afternoon the little barque, with her wave-swept, bulwarkless decks, now drying under a bright sun, was running before a warm, good-hearted breeze, and the pumps were only attended to twice in every watch.

Mrs. Lacy, Miss Weidermann, the De Boos girls, and the French priest were seated on the poop deck, on rugs and blankets spread out for them by Otway and the steward. Lacy, with Captain Burr, was pacing to and fro smoking his pipe, and laughing heartily at Sukie de Boos's attempts to make his wife smoke a cigarette. Presently old Bruce came along with the second mate and some men to set a new gaff-topsail, and the ladies rose to go below, so as to be out of the way.

"Nae, nae, leddies, dinna go below," said the old mate cheerfully, "ye'll no' hinder us. And the sight o' sae many sweet, bonny faces will mak' us work a' the better. And how are ye now, Mrs. Lacy? Ah, the pink roses are in your cheeks once mair." And then he stepped quickly up to the young clergyman and took his hand.

" Mr. Lacy, ye must pardon me, but I'm an auld man, and must hae my way. Ye're a gude, brave man;" then he added in a low voice, "and ye called upon Him, and He heard us."

"Thank you, Mr. Bruce," Lacy answered nervously, as he saw his wife's eyes droop, and a vivid blush dye her fair cheeks. Then he plucked the American captain by the sleeve and went below, and Sukie de Boos laughed loudly when in another minute they heard the pop of a bottle of soda water. She ran to the skylight and bent down.

"You're a pair of exceedingly rude men. You might think of Father Roget—even if you don't think of us poor women. Mr. Otway, come here, you horrid, dirty-faced, ragged creature! Go below and get a glass of port wine for Father Roget, a bottle of champagne for Mrs. Lacy and my sister and myself, and a cup of tea for Mrs. Weidermann, and bring some biscuits, too."

"Come and help me, then," said the supercargo, who was indeed dirty-faced and ragged.

Sukie danced towards the companion way with him. Half-way down he put his arms round her and kissed her vigorously. She returned his kisses with interest, and laughingly smacked his cheek.

"Let me go, Charlie Otway, you horrid, bold fellow. Now, one, two, three, or I'll call out and invoke the protection of the clergy, above and below—those on board this ship I mean, not those who are in heaven or elsewhere."


Ten days later the Tucopia sailed into Apia Harbour and dropped anchor inside Matautu Point just as the evening mists were closing their fleecy mantle around the verdant slopes of Vailima Mountain.

The two half-caste girls, with their maid and Mr. and Mrs. Lacy, came to bid Otway and the captain a brief farewell, before they went ashore in the pilot boat to D'Acosta's hotel in Matafele.

"Now remember, Otway, and you, Captain Robertson, and you, Captain Burr, you are all to dine with us at the hotel the day after to-morrow. And perhaps you, too, Father Roget will reconsider your decision and come too." It was Lacy who spoke.

The gentle-voiced old Frenchman shook his head and smiled—"Ah no, it was impossible," he said. The bishop would not like him to so soon leave the Mission. But the bishop and his brothers at the Mission would look forward to have the good captain, and Mr. Burr, and Mr. Otway, and the ladies to accept his hospitality.

Mrs. Lacy's soft little gloved hand was in Otway's.

"I thank you, Mr. Otway, very, very sincerely for your many kindnesses to me. You have indeed been most generous to us both. It was cruel of us to take your cabin and compel you to sleep in the trade-room. But I shall never forget how kind you have been."

All that was good in Otway came into his vicious heart and voiced softly through his lips.

" I am only too glad, Mrs. Lacy.... I am indeed. I didn't like giving up my cabin to strangers at first, and was a bit of a beast when Mr. Harry told me we were taking two extra passengers. But I am glad now."

He turned away, and went below with burning cheeks. Before the storm he had tried his best, late on several nights, to make Lacy drunk, and to keep him drunk; but Lacy could stand as much or more grog than he could himself; and when he heard that passionate, sobbing appeal, "Oh, Will, Will, how could you?" his better nature was stirred, and his fierce sensual desire for her changed into a sentimental affection and respect. He knew her secret, and now, instead of wishing to take advantage of it, felt he was too much of a man to abuse his knowledge.


Supper was over, and as the skipper, Burr, and Otway paced the quarter-deck before going ashore to play a game or two of billiards and meet some friends, a boat came alongside, and a man stepped on deck and inquired for the captain. As he followed Robertson down the companion, Otway saw that he was a well-dressed, rather gentlemanly-looking young man of about five and twenty.

"Who's that joker, I wonder?" he said to Burr; "not any one living in Samoa, unless he's a new-comer. Hope he won't stay long—it's eight o'clock now."

Ten minutes later the steward came to him.

"The captain wishes to see you, sir."

Otway entered the cabin. Robertson, with frowning face, motioned him to a seat. The strange gentleman sat near the captain smoking a cigar, and with some papers in his hands.

"Mr. Otway, I have sent for you. This gentleman has a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Lacy, issued by the New Zealand Government and initialled by the British Consul here."

Otway rose to the occasion. He nodded to the stranger and sat down quietly.

"Yes, sir?" he asked inquiringly of Robertson.

"You will please tell my supercargo your business, mister," said the captain gruffly to the stranger; "he can tell you all you wish to know—that is, if he cares to do so. I don't see that your warrant holds any force here in Samoa. You can't execute it. There's no government here, no police, no anything, and the British Consul can't act on a warrant issued from New Zealand. It is of no more use in Samoa than it would be at Cape Horn."

"Now, sir, make haste," said Otway with a mingled and studied insolence and politeness. He already began to detest the stranger.

"I am a detective of the police force of New Zealand, and I have come from Auckland to arrest William Barton, alias the Rev. Wilfrid Lacy, on a charge of stealing twenty thousand, five hundred pounds from the National Bank of Christchurch, of which he was manager. I believe that twenty thousand pounds of the money he has stolen is on board this vessel at this moment, and I now demand access to his cabin."

" Do you? How are you going to enforce your demand, my cocksure friend?"

Otway rose, and placing his two hands on the table, looked insultingly at the detective. "What rot you are talking, man!"

The detective drew back, alarmed and startled.

"The British Consul has endorsed my warrant to arrest this man," he said, "and it will go hard with any one who attempts to interfere with me in the performance of my duty."

Otway shot a quick, triumphant glance at the captain.

"The Consul is, and always was, a silly old ass. You have come on a fool's errand; and are going on the wrong tack by making threats. That idiotic warrant of yours is of no more use to you than a sheet of fly paper—Samoa is outside British jurisdiction. The High Commissioner for the Western Pacific would not have endorsed such a fool of a document, and I'll report the matter to him.... Now, sit down and tell me what you do want, and I'll try and help you all I can. But don't try to bluff us—it's only wasting your time. Steward, bring us something to drink."

As soon as the steward brought them "something to drink" Otway became deeply sympathetic with the detective, and Robertson, who knew his supercargo well, smiled inwardly at the manner he adopted.

"Now, just tell us, Mr.—O'Donovan, I think you said is your name—what is all the trouble? I need hardly tell you that whilst both the captain and myself felt annoyed at your dictatorial manner, we are both sensible men, and will do all in our power to assist you. Our firm's reputation has to be studied—has it not, captain? We don't want it to be insinuated that we helped an embezzler to escape, do we?"

"Certainly not," replied Robertson, puffing slowly at his cigar, watching Otway keenly through his half-closed eyelids, and wondering what that astute young gentleman was driving at. "I guess that you, Mr. Otway, will do all that is right and cor-rect."

"Thank you, sir," replied Otway humbly, and with great seriousness, "I know my duty to my employers, and I know that this gentleman may be led into very serious trouble through the dense stupidity of the British Consul here."

He turned to Mr. O'Donovan—"Are you aware, Mr. O'Donikin—I beg your pardon, O'Donovan—that the British Consul here is not, officially, the British Consul. He is merely a commercial agent, like the United States Consul. Neither are accredited by their Governments to act officially on behalf of their respective countries, and even if they were, there is no extradition treaty with the Samoan Islands, which is a country without a recognised government. Of course, Mr. O'Donovan, you are acting in good faith; but you have no more legal right nor the power to arrest a man in Samoa, than you have to arrest one in Manchuria or Patagonia. Of course, old Johns (the British Consul) doesn't know this, or he would not have made such a fool of himself by endorsing a warrant from an irresponsible judge of a New Zealand court. But as I told you, I shall aid you in every possible way."

O'Donovan was no fool. He knew that all that Otway had said was absolutely correct, but he braced himself up.

"I daresay what you say may be right, Mr. Supercargo. But I've come from New Zealand to get this joker, and by blazes I mean to get him, and take him back with me to New Zealand. And I mean to have those twenty thousand sovereigns to take back as well."

"Well, then, why the devil don't you go and get your man? He's at Joe D'Acosta's hotel with his wife."

"I don't want to be bothered with him just yet. I have no place to put him into. The Californian mail boat from San Francisco is not due here for another ten days. But I know that he hasn't taken his stolen money ashore yet, and you had better hand it over to me at once. I can get him at any time."

Otway leant back in his chair and laughed.

"I don't doubt that, Mr. O'Donovan. If you have enough money to do it, you can do as you say—get this man at any time. But you want to have some guns behind you to enforce it; and then his capture won't affect our custody of the money. If the Consul instigates you to make an attack on the ship, you will do so at your peril, for we shall resist any piratical attempt."

O'Donovan's face fell. "You said you would assist me?"

"So I will," replied Otway, lying genially, "But you must point out a way. The High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, in Fiji, is the only man who could give you power to arrest the man and convey him to New Zealand, and the moment you show me the High or the Deputy High Commissioner's order to hand over the money, and Lacy's other effects, I'll do so."

The detective made his last stroke.

"I can take the law into my own hands and chance the consequences. The Consul will supply me with a force—"

Robertson smiled grimly, and pointed to the rack of Snider rifles around the mizen-mast at the head of the table.

"You and your force will have a bad time of it then, and be shot down before you can put foot on my deck. I've never seen a shark eat a policeman, but there seems a chance of it now."

O'Donovan laughed uneasily, then he changed his tactics.

"Now look here, gentlemen," he said confidentially, leaning across the table, "I can see I'm in a bit of a hole, but I'm a business man, and you are business men, and I think we understand one another, eh? As you say, my warrant doesn't hold good here in Samoa. But the Consul will back me up, and if I can take this chap back to New Zealand it means a big thing for me. Now, what's your figure?"

" Two hundred each for the skipper and myself," answered Otway promptly.

"Done. You shall have it."

"When?"

"Give me till to-morrow afternoon. I've only a hundred and fifty pounds with me, and I'll have to raise the rest."

"Very well, it's a deal. But mind, you'll have to take care to be here before the parson. He's coming off at eleven o'clock."

"Trust me for that, gentlemen."

"I'm sorry for his wife," said Otway meditatively.

O'Donovan grinned. "Ah, I haven't told you the yarn—she's not his wife! She bolted from her husband, who is a big swell in Auckland, a Mr.——."

"How did you get on their tracks?"

"Sydney police found out that two people answering their description had sailed for the Islands in the Tucopia , and cabled over to us. We thought they had lit out for America. I only got here the day before yesterday in the Ryno , from Auckland."

Otway paid him some very florid compliments on his smartness, and then after another drink or two, the detective went on shore, highly pleased.

As soon as he was gone, Otway turned to Robertson.

"You won't stand in my way, Robertson, will you?" he asked—"I want to see the poor devils get away."

"You take all the responsibility, then."

"I will," and then he rapidly told the skipper his plan, and set to work by at once asking the second mate to get ready the boat and then come back to the cabin.

"All ready," said Allen, five minutes later.

"Then come with the steward and help me with this gear."

He unlocked the door of Lacy's state-room, lit the swinging candle, and quickly passed out Mr. and Mrs. Lacy's remaining luggage to the second mate and steward. Three small leather trunks, marked "Books with Care," were especially heavy, and he guessed their contents.

"Stow them safely in the boat, Allen. Don't make more noise than you can help. I'll be with you in a minute."

Going into his own cabin, he took a large handbag, threw into it his revolver and two boxes of cartridges, then carried it into the trade-room, and added half a dozen tins of the brand of tobacco which he knew Lacy liked, and then filled the remaining space with pint bottles of champagne. Then he whipped up a sheet or two of letter paper and an envelope from the cabin-table, thrust them into his coat pocket, and, bag in hand, stepped quickly on deck. The old mate was in his cabin, and had not heard anything.

"Give it to her, boys," he said to the crew, taking the steer-oar in his hand, and heading the boat towards a small fore-and-aft schooner lying half a mile away in the Matafele horn of the reef encircling Apia Harbour.

The four native seamen bent to their oars in silence, and sped swiftly through the darkness over the calm waters of the harbour. The schooner showed no riding light on her forestay, but, on the after deck under the awning, a lamp was burning, and three men—the captain, mate, and boatswain—were playing cards on the skylight.

Otway jumped on deck, just as the men rose to meet him.

"Great Ascensial Jehosophat! Why, it's you, Mr. Otway?" cried the captain, a little clean-shaven man, as he shook hands with the supercargo. "Well, now, I was just wondering whether I'd go ashore and try and drop across you. Say, tell me now, hev you any good tinned beef and a case of Winchesters you can sell me?"

"Yes, both," replied Otway, shaking hands with the three in turn—they were all old acquaintances, especially Le Brun, the mate. "But come below with me, Revels; I've important business, and it has to be done right away—this very night."

Revels led the way below into the schooner's cabin, and at once produced a bottle of Bourbon and a couple of glasses.

"No time to drink, Revels.... All right, just a little, then. Now, tell me, do you want to make—and make it easy—five hundred pounds?"

"Guess I do."

"Are you ready for sea?"

"I was thinking of sailing on a cruise among the Tokelau Islands in a day or two."

"Then don't think of it. If you put to sea to-night for a longer voyage, I can guarantee you that you will get five hundred pounds—if you will take two passengers on board, and put to sea as soon as they come alongside."

"Where do they want to go?"

"That I can't say. Manila or Hongkong, most likely. It'll pay you."

"Is the money safe?"

Otway struck his hand on the table. "Safe as rain, Revels. They have plenty. I have it here alongside, and if you don't get five hundred sovereigns paid you when you have dropped Samoa astern, you can come back with your passengers, and I'll give you fifty pounds myself."

"Friends of yours?"

"Yes."

"That's enough fur me, Otway. Now, just tell me what to do."

"Tell your mate to get your boat ready to go ashore, while I write a note."

He took a sheet of paper, and hurriedly wrote in pencil:

"DEAR LACY,—Don't hesitate to follow my instructions. There's a man here from New Zealand. Tried to get access to your cabin; bluffed him. You and your wife must follow bearer of this note to his boat, which will bring you to a schooner. The captain's name is Revels. He expects you, and you can trust him. Have pledged him my word that you will give him £500 to land you at Manila or thereabouts; also that you will hand it to him as soon as the schooner is clear of the land. All your luggage is on board the schooner, awaiting you. Allen helped me. You might send him a present by Revels. Goodbye, and all good luck. One last word— be quick, be quick !"

"Boat is ready," said Revels.

" Right," and Otway closed the letter and handed it to the mate. "Here you are, Le Brun. Now, listen. Pull in to the mouth of the creek at the French Mission, just beside the bridge. Leave your boat there and then take this letter to D'Acosta's Hotel and ask to see Mr. Lacy. If he and his wife have gone out for a walk, you must follow them and give him the letter; but I feel pretty sure you'll find them on the verandah. Bring them off on board as quickly and as quietly as possible. No one will take any notice of the boat in the creek. Oh! and tell Mr. Lacy to be dead sure not to bring anything in the way of even a small bag with him—Joe D'Acosta might wonder. I'll settle the hotel bill later on. Are you clear?"

"Clear as mud," replied Le Brun, a big, black-whiskered Guernsey man.

"Then goodbye."

The schooner's boat, manned by two hands only, pushed off, and then Revels turned to Otway.

"Shall I heave short so as to be ready?"

"Heave short, be d——d!" replied Otway testily. "No, just lie nice and quiet, and as soon as you have your passengers on board slip your cable. I'll see that your anchor is fished up for you. And even if you lost your anchor and a few fathoms of chain it doesn't matter against five hundred sovereigns. The people on shore would be sure to hear the sound of the windlass pawls, and there's a man here from Auckland—a detective—who might make a bold stroke, get a dozen native bullies and collar you. So slip, my boy, slip. There's a fine healthy breeze which will take you clear of the reef in ten minutes."

The two men shook hands, and Otway stepped into his boat, which he steered in towards the principal jetty.

Jumping out he walked along the roadway which led from Matafele to Apia. As he passed the British Consul's house he saw Mr. O'Donovan standing on the verandah talking to the Consul. He waved his hand to them, and cheerfully invited the detective to come along to "Johnnie Hall's" and play a game of billiards.

Mr. O'Donovan, little thinking that Otway had a purpose in view, took the bait. The Consul knew Otway, and, in a measure, dreaded him, for the supercargo's knowledge of certain transactions in connection with the sale of arms to natives, in which he (the Consul) had taken a leading and lucrative part. So when he saw the supercargo of the Tucopia beckoning to O'Donovan he smiled genially at him, and hurriedly told the detective to go.

"He's a most astute and clever young scoundrel, Mr. O'Donovan, and in a way we are at his mercy. But you shall have the four hundred pounds in the morning—not later than noon. This man Barton must be brought to justice at any cost."

"Just so, sir; and you will get a hundred out of the business, any way," replied O'Donovan, who had gauged the Consul's morality pretty fairly.

As Otway and the detective walked towards the hotel known as "Johnny Hall's" the former said lazily—

"Look here, Mr. O'Donovan. Are the skipper and myself to get those four hundred sovs to-morrow or not? To tell you the exact truth, I have a fair amount of doubt about your promise. Where are you going to get the money?"

"That's all right, Mr. Otway. You're a business man. And you and the skipper will have your two hundred each before one o'clock to-morrow. The Consul is doing the necessary."

"Right, my boy," said Otway effusively. "Now we'll play a game or two at Johnny's and have some fun with the girls."

By eleven o'clock Mr. O'Donovan was comfortably half drunk, and Otway led him out on to the verandah to look at the harbour, shimmering under the starlight. They sat down on two cane lounges, and the supercargo's keen eye saw that Revel's schooner had gone. He breathed freely, and then brought Mr. O'Donovan a large whisky and soda.


In the morning Mr. O'Donovan and Mr. William Johns, the British Consul, were in a state of frenzy on discovering that Mr. and Mrs. Lacy had escaped during the night in the schooner Solafanua . The Consul knew that Otway was at the bottom of the matter, but dared not say so, but O'Donovan, who had more pluck and nothing to lose, lost his temper and came on board the Tucopia just as she was being hauled up on the beach to get at the leak.

" You're a dirty sweep," he said to Otway.

The supercargo hit him between the eyes, and sent him down. Allen picked him up, dumped him into the boat alongside, and sent him ashore.

When the Tucopia lay high and dry on Apia beach Otway and old Bruce walked round under her counter and looked for the leak. As the skipper had surmised, a butt-end had started, but the gaping orifice was now choked and filled with a large piece of seaweed.

"The prayer of one of God's ain ministers has saved us," said the Scotch mate, pointing upward.

"No doubt," replied Otway, who knew that the good old man had heard nothing of what had happened.