The order was given to get up the anchor, and Bobtail sprang to take a hand in the operation. In a few moments the Penobscot was standing over towards Camden; and the hero of the day began to regret that he must so soon lose his pleasant companions. About five o'clock she landed her passengers at the Portland Wharf, and Monkey came off from the Skylark for Bobtail.
"Little Bobtail, you have rendered me a service to-day which you can neither understand nor appreciate, and I shall never forget it," said Colonel Montague, as he took the boy's hand. "I shall see you again before long. I am going away in the yacht next week for a long cruise; but we shall meet again, and I hope in the end that you will not be sorry for your noble conduct to-day."
"I'm not sorry for it, sir. I've had a tip-top time to-day, and I'm much obliged to you for taking me with you," replied Bobtail, unable to comprehend the whole of the grateful father's speech.
"It is fortunate you were with us. We might have been weeping over our lost child, instead of rejoicing, as we do now."
"O, some other fellow would have gone in for her if I hadn't."
"Perhaps not; for not many have the nerve to dive off a high cliff into the sea, as you did. Be that as it may, my gratitude to you is none the less. If you want a friend, if you have any trouble about that boat, or anything else, send for me, for I would cross the continent to serve you."
"Thank you, sir. I don't know that I am likely to have any trouble about the Skylark, for if the owner comes, he can have her."
"And then you will have no boat?"
"No, sir. I shall be out of a boat, sure; and I should like to live in one all the time."
"If you lose her before I return, write a letter to me at Belfast, and it will be forwarded if I have gone. Now, good by, my lad."
The rest of the family shook hands with him again, and spoke many kind words to him. Bobtail leaped lightly into Monkey's boat, and they returned to the Skylark. The skipper spoke in glowing terms of the experience of the day; but somehow the Darwinian did not seem to relish the narrative. He was nervous, and did not laugh as usual; but it was some time before Bobtail's enthusiasm permitted him to notice the change which had come over his companion's spirits. They went on board the Skylark.
"Has any one been after the boat, Monkey?" asked the skipper.
"No one after the boat," replied the Darwinian, gloomily; "but somebody has been after you."
"After me? Who?"
Monkey was silent, and studied the seams in the deck.
"Who has been after me?"
This gentleman was a deputy sheriff; but his name had no terror to Robert Taylor.
"Say, Bob, don't you think we had better get under way, and run for it?" added Monkey, his face brightening for a moment.
"Mr. Brooks said he had a warrant to take you up, and I s'pose he's on the lookout for you now."
"Take me up!" exclaimed Bobtail. "What for?"
"Something about a letter—I don't know what."
"I know," replied Bobtail, musing, for he could not think how, after he had been fully exonerated from the charge of taking that letter, he should again be accused.
The jib of the Penobscot was hoisted while he was musing, and she stood away towards the Spindles off North-east Point.
THE FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL.
Little Bobtail watched the beautiful yacht as she piled on her "kites" and gradually increased her speed in the light breeze. He felt that he had a powerful friend on board of her, and he was tempted to call in his aid in meeting the difficulties that seemed to be gathering before him.
"Don't you think we'd better run for it, Bob?" asked Monkey. "We can keep out of the way of any boat in Camden. We can run over among them islands, and spend the summer there without being caught."
"I don't run away from anything of this sort," replied Bobtail, proudly. "I'm going to face the music, whatever comes of it."
"But they'll put you in jail," suggested Monkey, opening his eyes as wide as they would go.
"I don't care if they do. I haven't done anything wrong, and I'm not going to run away. If Mr. Brooks wants me, here I am."
"There he comes; and Captain Chinks is with him. We can hoist the mainsail, and be out of the way before they get here, if you say the word," added the crew of the Skylark, nervously.
"I don't say the word. I'm all right, and I'm ready to look any of them square in the face."
"But what's it all about, Bob?"
"Squire Gilfilian says I stole a letter with money in it, which was sent to him."
"You!" exclaimed the Darwinian. "Well, I know better'n that myself."
"So do I," laughed Bobtail, pleased with the enthusiasm of his friend.
"Here they come. Captain Chinks looks as ugly as sin itself. He is at the bottom of this business. You stay by, and take care of the boat, Monkey, whatever happens to me. If any one attempts to get her away from you, send for Squire Simonton."
"I'll stick to her as long as there's a chip left of her, Bob; but I don't like to have them take you out of her in this kind of style, and send you off to jail."
"You needn't be concerned about me. I have some strong friends, and I'm rather sorry I didn't stop the Penobscot, and tell Colonel Montague what's up. I would, if I had known exactly what was going to happen."
A boat with Captain Chinks at the oars, and Mr. Brooks in the stern-sheets, came alongside the Skylark.
"You are here—are you?" said Captain Chinks, with an ugly look.
"Of course I'm here," replied Bobtail, quietly. "I ain't nowhere else."
"I want you to go on shore with me," added the deputy sheriff.
"Monkey says you want to take me up."
"I don't want to do so, but I must discharge my duty. I have a warrant for your arrest," replied Mr. Brooks.
"For stealing a letter with money in it."
"Captain Chinks here knows that I didn't do it."
"No, I don't."
"You saw the letter in Squire Gilfilian's office after I left."
"That's so; but I can't say that you didn't go back after I went off. I didn't believe you took the letter till the squire proved it; and then I couldn't help believing it. I don't see how you can help believing it yourself."
"I didn't take the letter."
"We will talk this matter over at the squire's office," interposed the deputy sheriff. "You had better not say much about it here."
"I'm going to speak the truth right straight through, and I don't care who hears me."
"You are not obliged to say anything to commit yourself, Bobtail. I want you to understand that," said Mr. Brooks, kindly.
"I shall not say anything to commit myself, you had better believe, for I didn't take the letter."
"The less you say about it, the better," added the officer.
"Does my mother know anything about this business?" asked Bobtail.
"I reckon she knows more about it than anybody else except yourself," answered Captain Chinks.
"I have talked with your mother about it," said Mr. Brooks. "She feels very bad, of course; and she says she can't explain the matter at all."
"She don't know anything about it," replied Bobtail.
"I will send for her when we get on shore," added the deputy sheriff.
Captain Chinks pulled to one of the wharves up the harbor, where the party landed, and then proceeded to the office of Squire Gilfilian. The lawyer was there, and so was the ill-visaged man who took care of the case of the bank robbers. Mr. Brooks had sent a boy for Mrs. Taylor as soon as they landed, and she and her husband arrived at the office almost as soon as Bobtail.
"O, Robert," exclaimed the poor woman, her eyes filling with tears, as she hugged her boy.
"Don't be scared, mother. I didn't do this thing, and I shall come out all right," replied Bobtail. "Don't fret about it."
"I can't help it, Robert. I wish—"
Mrs. Taylor suddenly checked herself. "What do you wish, mother?" asked Bobtail, who thought there was something very strange in her conduct.
"I wish they hadn't arrested you," added she; but this was evidently not what she had intended to say.
"So do I; but you needn't be frightened. I didn't take the letter, nor the money."
"I know you didn't, Robert, but the case looks very bad against us."
"I think so, Mrs. Taylor," said Squire Gilfilian, who had been occupied in looking over some papers when the party entered, and was now ready to give his attention to the case. "I should like to hear what you have to say."
"This is not an examination," said the deputy sheriff to Mrs. Taylor and her son. "If you don't wish to answer any questions here, you needn't do so. The case will come on to-morrow, before Squire Norwood."
"I am ready to answer any questions that can be asked," said Bobtail, stoutly, "whether it is an examination or not."
"Do as you please about it. If you want any help—any lawyer—I will send for one," added Mr. Brooks.
"I don't want any lawyers. I can tell the truth without any help," answered Bobtail.
"Did you come back to the office after you put that letter on my desk?" asked the squire.
"No, sir; I did not," replied Bobtail, squarely.
The lawyer took from his pocket-book a five hundred dollar bill, and spread it out on the desk at his side.
"Did you ever see that bill before, Robert Taylor?" demanded he, sternly.
"Think before you answer."
"Think! I don't want to think. I never saw a five hundred dollar bill before in my life," answered Bobtail, with no little indignation in his tones.
"I am sorry to see you persist so stoutly in a lie," said the squire, shaking his head, as he glanced at Mrs. Taylor.
"It isn't a lie; it's the truth, and I'll stick to it as long as I have breath in my body," replied Bobtail, warmly.
"You are not under oath now, Robert Taylor."
"I'll say just the same under oath, and before all the lawyers and judges in the State of Maine."
"Mr. Slipwing, do you know this bill?" added the squire, addressing the ill-visaged man.
"I do. I will swear in any court that this is the bill I sent you in the letter from Portland," replied the man.
"You are very sure?"
"Positively so. I remember the bank, and there are three things on the bill which enable me to identify it. The cashier's pen snapped when he wrote his name on the left, and blotted the bill. The corner was torn off, and it was mended in another place with a piece of paper from the edge of a sheet of six-cent postage stamps."
The ill-visaged man spoke confidently, and whatever his character, his testimony was very clear.
"What has all this to do with me?" asked Bobtail, who did not yet understand the situation.
The lawyer smiled, and perhaps he thought that the boy was playing his part extremely well for a novice.
"My testimony will come in next," added Squire Gilfilian. "This afternoon, Mrs. Taylor, who is the mother of this boy, paid me five hundred dollars, for I had foreclosed the mortgage on her husband's house. Now, Mrs. Taylor, where did you get the bill?"
"Robert didn't give it to me," she replied; and she seemed to be very much troubled and very much embarrassed; so much so, that her looks and actions were the worst possible evidence against her.
"So you say, Mrs. Taylor; but you don't answer my question."
"I can't tell you now where I got it," stammered the poor woman.
Ezekiel Taylor and Little Bobtail were more astonished at this answer than any other person in the room. Both of them wondered where she had obtained so much money, while the others in the office believed that her answer was merely a subterfuge to conceal the guilt of her son. Ezekiel could not help thinking, just then, that his wife always had money; that, while she had no visible means of obtaining it, she always had enough to feed and clothe the family. He had considered this subject, and wondered over it before; and the only solution of the mystery he could suggest was, that her first husband had left her more money than she ever acknowledged he did, and she had concealed it to prevent him from spending it. As to her son, he had never thought of the matter at all. All that confused and confounded him was, his mother's refusal to answer what seemed to him a very simple question.
"Mrs. Taylor, you will be a witness, and the most important one in the case, when it comes up before Squire Norwood to-morrow," added the lawyer.
"I suppose I shall," replied Mrs. Taylor, with a gasp.
"You will be put under oath, and compelled to testify."
"But you are not under oath now, and you need not say anything, if you don't wish to," said Mr. Brooks.
"As the matter looks now, you are a party to the theft, and I can cause your arrest," added the squire, vexed at the officiousness of the deputy sheriff.
"O, dear me!" groaned Mrs. Taylor.
"Don't be frightened, mother," interposed Bobtail. "You know, and I know, that you did not obtain the money from me."
"And the Lord knows I did not, and that I came honestly by it, too," sobbed the poor woman, who had a mortal terror of courts and the law.
"If you came honestly by the money, why don't you tell where you obtained it?" added Squire Gilfilian.
"I have my reasons."
"If your son did not give you this bill—"
"He did not! I'm sure he never saw it before," protested Mrs. Taylor.
"Whoever gave you this bill must have stolen it," said the squire, sternly.
"That don't follow," replied Mr. Brooks. "It may have passed through the hands of half a dozen persons after it was taken from the letter."
"Are you the counsel for these parties, Mr. Brooks?" demanded the squire, smartly.
"I am not; but the prisoner is in my keeping, and shall have fair play. I'll take him away if you are not satisfied, for I brought him here to oblige you," answered the deputy sheriff, who was certainly very considerate towards his charge.
"All I want is, to get at the truth," added the squire, in a milder tone. "If Mrs. Taylor did not receive this bill from her son, and will tell us where she got it, we can trace out the thief."
"That's the point," said Captain Chinks. "We want to find the guilty party."
Captain Chinks winked rapidly for an instant, as though his brain was fearfully exercised to discover the thief. He had one black eye, which winked faster than the other—it was the result of his interview with Little Bobtail the day before, for the boy struck hard when he was assailed.
"I can't tell you where I got the bill," said Mrs. Taylor; "but I came honestly by it."
"It's no use of saying anything more, then," added the lawyer. "Under these circumstances, I am compelled to regard you as a party to your son's guilt, Mrs. Taylor; and I must cause your arrest."
"Don't do that, Squire Gilfilian," pleaded Bobtail.
"I must do it. It becomes my duty to do it."
"Let him do it," whispered Mr. Brooks.
"I can't help it if you do," sobbed the poor woman. "If I have to go to jail, I can't tell."
"Nothing more can be done, and I shall procure a warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Taylor," said the lawyer, gathering up the papers on his desk, and restoring the five hundred dollar bill to his pocket-book.
Mr. Brooks and Bobtail left the office, followed by Mrs. Taylor and her husband.
"I am responsible for you, Bobtail," said the officer.
"I won't run away, sir. You have been very kind to me, Mr. Brooks, and I won't go back on you," replied Bobtail.
"But I must not lose sight of you; and I don't want to send you to jail. I'll take you to my house."
"Just as you say, sir; but I should like to go home and have a talk with mother. I want to see Squire Simonton, too."
"Very well; I will go home with you. I saw Squire Simonton walking towards his house just now. There he is, in front of the hotel, talking with Mr. Hines."
They walked towards the Bay View House. It was nearly tea time, and the guests of the house were seated on the platform, under the shade of the trees which surround the hotel. There was an excited group there, for the particulars of the cruise of the Penobscot that day had just been related by the Walkers and others.
"I want to see you, Squire Simonton," said Bobtail.
"There he is. Three cheers for Little Bobtail!" shouted Mr. Walker, as he pointed to the hero of the day.
There were gentlemen enough who had heard the story to give the cheers, and the ladies clapped their hands.
"That's for you, Bobtail," said Mr. Hines. "We have heard of your brave deeds, and all the people in the hotel are talking about you."
Little Bobtail blushed like a beet, and while Mr. Hines was telling the deputy sheriff how the boy had saved Grace Montague from the waves and the rocks, the hero related his own troubles to Mr. Simonton. Mr. Walker and Emily came out, and insisted that Bobtail should go into the hotel, and see the ladies. Ever so many of them shook his brown hand, and he blushed and stammered, and thought the scene was ten times as trying as that off Blank Island. Then he must take tea with the Walkers. He could not be excused.
"I can't, sir," protested Bobtail. "I have been taken up for stealing since I came a shore. But I didn't do it."
"For stealing!" exclaimed Emily Walker, with horror.
"I didn't do it."
"I know you didn't, Captain Bobtail," replied Emily.
"This is Mr. Brooks, the deputy sheriff, and he is responsible for me," added Bobtail. "So you see I can't leave him."
"Then Mr. Brooks must come too," said Mr. Walker.
The officer was very obliging, and went too. Bobtail was a first-class lion, though under arrest for stealing. The gentlemen patted him on the head, and the ladies petted him. A party wanted the Skylark for the next day, another for Monday, and a third for Tuesday. The hero could not go the next day, for he had to be examined before Squire Norwood for stealing the letter. It was dark when he escaped from the hotel, and went home attended by Mr. Brooks. Squire Simonton was there waiting to see him.
After the scene at the office, Ezekiel and his wife had walked to the cottage together. Neither of them was in a pleasant frame of mind. The tippler was sober, because he had neither rum nor money. He wanted both, for he was thirsting and hankering for a dram.
"So it seems you've got money somewhere," said Ezekiel to his troubled wife.
"No, I haven't," replied Mrs. Taylor, who was only thinking how she could extricate herself from the difficulties of her situation, and not at all troubled about the thoughts or suspicions of her worthless husband.
"Yes, you have! When I don't have a dollar, you always have somethin'," persisted Ezekiel. "You've kept money hid away from me ever since we was married. Your first husband left more'n you told on."
"All that my first husband left me was gone years ago," added Mrs. Taylor, indifferently.
"You've got money somewhere."
"If I have, I shall keep it."
"You hain't no right to do so."
"Yes, I have. If I had any money, I would not let you have it to spend for rum. Every dollar you get goes for that, and you would have starved to death if I hadn't taken care of you."
"If you've got any money, I wan't some on't; and I'm go'n to have it, too."
"I haven't any money; at least not much of any; and what I have I mean to keep."
Ezekiel was mad. He was fully convinced that his wife had money concealed somewhere, or in the hands of some friend, who gave it to her as she wanted it. She always paid the bills of the house very promptly, and had enough to buy a dress for herself, or a suit of clothes for Robert, and even for him. He felt that he had a right to his wife's property, even if he spent it for rum. But Mrs. Taylor was too much for him; for whatever secret she had, she kept it. This was not the first time that Ezekiel had been vexed by these suspicions, and he had searched the house several times, when she was absent, for the hidden treasure, but without finding it. The debate on this question was continued long after they returned to the cottage, but the husband was no wiser at the end of it than at the beginning.
All the points of the case were stated to Squire Simonton, who volunteered to act as counsel for Bobtail.
"But where did this bill come from, Mrs. Taylor?" asked the legal gentleman.
"I can't tell," replied the troubled woman.
"You can't tell!"
"No, sir; I cannot."
"But your refusal will certainly insure the conviction of your son."
"Robert did not give me that bill," protested she.
"I don't believe he did, nuther," said Ezekiel. "She's got money hid away somewhere."
"If it had been hid away long, it could not have been the bill which was sent in the letter."
"It wasn't hid away," added Mrs. Taylor. "I might injure somebody by telling where I got the bill; and for that reason I can't say a single word, even if I go to prison for it."
"But your son will be sent to prison, certainly, if you don't tell," said the lawyer.
"O, dear! What shall I do?"
She positively refused to tell even Squire Simonton, who explained that, as counsel, he could not be obliged to reveal the secrets of his clients. It was finally arranged that a postponement of the examination should be obtained, if possible; and Mr. Walker and half a dozen others had promised to give bail for Bobtail.
CAPTAIN CHINKS IS INDIFFERENT.
"I don't know that we can do any better under the circumstances," said Squire Simonton, after the arrangement of the legal business had been agreed upon. "But we are making a strange case of it."
The squire bestowed one of his pleasant smiles upon the case, for he was one of those sweet-tempered men who never frown, even when they are vexed. He was perplexed, and very properly claimed the right, as counsel, to know all the facts. But it was evident that Mrs. Taylor had, or supposed she had, a good reason for concealing the source from which came the five hundred dollar bill.
"Squire Gilfilian purposes to make Mrs. Taylor a party to the theft," said Mr. Brooks. "Probably he will get out a warrant for her arrest in the morning."
"I never thought it would come to this, that I should be taken up for stealing," added the poor woman, bursting into tears.
"You can hardly wonder at being arrested," suggested the squire. "The stolen property was in your possession, and you refuse even to explain where you got it."
"I could tell a lie about it, but I won't do that," sobbed Mrs. Taylor. "If you can only get the case put off for a few days, or a week, I hope—I may be able—that is, I may be able to explain how I came by that bill."
"We must give some reason for desiring a postponement," replied the lawyer. "Can you really say, Mrs. Taylor, that you expect to obtain more testimony?"
"I hope to obtain it."
"Very well. Then I think we can have the case put off till, say, next Tuesday."
"I will try to have matters explained by that time; but I am to be taken up and sent to jail."
"O, no," laughed the squire. "You may be arrested; but that will amount to nothing. Your husband can give bail for you, for it appears that this house belongs to him now, since the mortgage is cancelled."
"I won't go bail for her," said Ezekiel, sourly; and this was the first time he appeared to be of the slightest consequence.
"No, I won't. She has kept money hid away from me."
"Never mind, mother. We shall get bail enough to keep a coaster afloat," interposed Bobtail. "If we can't do any better, I'll send for Colonel Montague. He told me, if I ever wanted a friend, to send for him."
"Certainly he will help you, after what you have done to-day," smiled the lawyer.
"But I don't want to have you to go away up to Belfast for him," said Mrs. Taylor, who appeared now to be more troubled than ever.
"I don't think we need to do so, mother. Mr. Walker and two or three other gentlemen said they would bail me out; and so I don't believe we shall sink," laughed Little Bobtail.
"Now, Mr. Brooks, I don't think you need take the boy away from his friends. I am sure he won't run away," added the squire.
"I am satisfied. Though this is the oddest case I have had anything to do with for a long time. I am inclined to think Bobtail will come out right, though for the life of me I can't see how," added the deputy sheriff.
"I'll trust Bobtail anywhere. He goes to our Sunday school, and I know he is an honest boy, however bad his case may look just now," continued Mr. Simonton.
Mr. Brooks was entirely willing to trust the lion of the day out of his custody; and he left the cottage with the lawyer.
"I s'pose I ain't o' no account here," said Ezekiel, as the door closed behind the departing gentlemen.
"What do you mean by that?" asked Mrs. Taylor.
"I wan't to know sunthin' about this business. I s'pose I ain't the head of this family."
"I don't think you are," replied the wife. "You haven't done much for it the last seven years."
"You bring that boy of yourn up to steal. If he'll take my property, he'll take other folks' property."
"It's no use to talk any more about that matter," said Mrs. Taylor, impatiently.
"I believe the boy stole the letter and took the money out on't," muttered Ezekiel.
"A little while ago you believed I had money hid away, and took the five hundred dollars from that."
"It was one way or t'other, and one ain't no wus 'n t'other. I hain't been consulted in this business at all."
"You refused to be bail for me, and that's enough for one day," answered Mrs. Taylor.
"I ain't a goin' to resk my property for a woman that keeps money hid away from me, and won't tell no thin' about this business."
"Your property would have been all taken away from you long ago if I hadn't paid the interest, and paid the mortgage, too."
"But where did you get the money to pay the mortgage with?"
"That will all be explained in due time."
Ezekiel went over the same ground again and again. He was angry, and finally left the house. He felt that he was an abused man, because he was ignored. He objected to giving bail for his wife simply to increase his own importance, and a little importunity would have won his consent. He was vexed because he had not even been asked a second time to yield the point.
"Now, mother, we are alone," said Bobtail. "Can't you tell me where you got that bill?"
"I can't tell anybody, Robert," replied his mother. "I am sure that all will be explained in time."
"The case looks bad against me, mother."
"I know it does;" and the tears began to flow from her eyes again.
"I don't like to be accused of stealing, and have it proved, as it seems to be in this case. I don't blame anybody for thinking I'm guilty, when the very bill that was in the letter was handed to the squire by you, and you won't tell where you got it. I shall be sent to the state prison for two or three years."
"O, Robert, I shall be crazy! Do you think I stole the bill?"
"No, mother; nothing of that kind. I know you wouldn't steal. You know I didn't give you that bill, and you are the only one that does know it positively. I wonder that Squire Simonton don't give me the cold shoulder, though he is my Sunday school teacher. I can't see what difference it would make if you should tell where you got the bill."
"I can't say a word about it. I will try to have the whole matter explained before Tuesday," said the poor woman, troubled as she had never been troubled before.
"I think I shall call on Colonel Montague, if I get a chance. He told me I should hear from him again," said Bobtail, as he put on his cap, for he intended to sleep on board of the Skylark.
"I wouldn't bother him with the matter, Robert."
"Why not? He told me to send for him if I ever wanted a friend; and I want one now, if ever I did."
"It will look as though you wanted to make too much of what you did for him to-day."
"I don't think so, mother. He is a great man, and has influence. If I can get a chance to run up to Belfast in the Skylark, I will do so."
"Don't tell him that I sent you, Robert," said Mrs. Taylor, actually trembling with emotion.
"Of course I won't; but I don't see why you are so particular about not calling on him. I know he would be glad to help me."
Mrs. Taylor made no reply, and her son, bidding her good night, left the house. He went on board of the Skylark, and after he had told the Darwinian the whole story of his misfortune, he turned in. He did not sleep as well as usual. He could not help thinking half the night of his troubles. They worried him, and he wondered if people were ever really punished for crimes they did not commit.
Ezekiel Taylor left the cottage hardly less disturbed than his wife was. He had a strong suspicion that he was not the head of the family; that Mrs. Taylor had actually usurped his powers and prerogatives; that she dared to think and act for herself and her son without much, if any, regard to him. He felt belittled and degraded; not because he was a drunkard, and neglected to provide for his family, but because he was not in fact, as he was in name, the head of the house. He was thirsty and hankering for rum, and this condition made him ugly. He had not a cent in his pocket, and his credit at the saloon was not good even for a single dram. But he went to the saloon, for it was possible that some one might treat him. The first person he saw when he entered was Captain Chinks.
Almost everybody seemed to be troubled that night, and Captain Chinks was among the number. Things did not work to suit him; and every time he viewed himself in the glass he saw that black eye which Bobtail had given him, and every time he touched that eye there was a soreness there to remind him of that affair in the cabin of the Skylark. He did not love Little Bobtail, and the event of the day that had set everybody to talking about and praising the boy made him feel ten times worse. It would be hard to convict him of stealing the letter while almost everybody was making a lion of him.
"Ah, Zeke!" exclaimed Captain Chinks, as the tippler entered the saloon.
"How d'y do, cap'n?" replied the nominal head of the family.
"I'm glad to see you, Zeke. I've been wanting to see you. Won't you take something?"
"Thank ye; I don't care if I do take a little o' sunthin'. I don't feel jest right to-night," answered Ezekiel, placing his hand upon his diaphragm, to intimate that this was the seat of his ailing.
"We will go into this little room, if you like," added Captain Chinks, as he led the way into a small apartment, where a party could dine or sup in privacy. "Give us a bottle of that brandy," he continued, addressing the keeper of the saloon.
Ezekiel smiled, for a private room indicated a free-and-easy time. A bottle of brandy promised a succession of drams, enough to warm up that disagreeable coldness at the diaphragm, and to lift his brain up to the pitch of a tippler's highest enjoyment. Then "that brandy" suggested a liquor of choice quality, something which his companion had tested, and knew to be good. Ezekiel was happy, and for the moment he forgot that he was not the actual head of the family; that his wife had kept money "hid away from him;" and that her son had destroyed his property. But he wondered what Captain Chinks could want of him, for that worthy did not generally treat him with much consideration, whereas now he was polite, generous, and ready to invest to the extent of a whole bottle of that brandy, which must be very choice, and therefore expensive.
The bottle came, and the door of the little room was closed. Captain Chinks seated himself on one side of the table, on which the bottle and glasses were placed, and invited Ezekiel to occupy a chair on the other side. The captain pushed the brandy and a glass towards his guest, who needed no persuasion to induce him to partake of the choice liquor. He poured out about half a tumbler of the stuff, but he kept his hand over the glass,—he was a wily toper,—so that his host should not see how much he took. He added a very little water to the fiery fluid, and then held the glass in his trembling hand till the captain was ready to join him. The man with a doubtful reputation did not cover his glass with his hand; if he had thought it necessary, he would have done it in order to conceal how small, rather than how large, a dram he took. He only covered the bottom of the tumbler, and then deluged the liquor with water. Captain Chinks was a cunning man, and he knew that brandy unfits a man for business, impairs his judgment, and blunts his perception. He took a small dram.
"Here's to you," said Ezekiel.
"Thank you; my respects," added Captain Chinks.
The toper drained his glass. The liquor was strong, and the tears drowned his eyes as he swallowed the fiery fluid.
"That's good brandy!" exclaimed he, as soon as he could speak.
"First chop," replied Captain Chinks. "You couldn't buy that brandy in Portland for three dollars a bottle. In my opinion that article never paid tribute to Uncle Sam."
"'Tain't no wus for that," said Ezekiel, with a cheerful grin.
"'Tain't right to charge no duties on liquors. That's the reason we git so much pizen stuff. You can hardly git a drop of good brandy for sickness now, without you pay four or five dollars a bottle for it; and I can't afford to pay no such prices," added Ezekiel, deeply moved at this terrible grievance.
"Well, I reckon there's more of it comes in from the provinces without paying any duties than most people think, though I don't know anything about it myself."
Even Ezekiel Taylor had his doubts on this point, though he was not disposed, under the present agreeable circumstances, to indulge in any controversy on the point.
"The more they bring in, the better," said he, encouragingly.
"By the way, Zeke, that boy of yours is in luck to-day," continued Captain Chinks, toying with his glass.
"He ain't no boy o' mine," said the toper, with no little indignation in his tones. "He's my wife's boy."
"Well, it's all the same. He's a smart boy."
"He's smart enough; but he ain't the right sort of a boy. He's rather too smart."
"That was a bad scrape he got into about that letter; but I can't believe he opened it, and took the money out," added Captain Chinks, still toying with the glass, and apparently without the least interest in the conversation in which he was engaged.
"He ain't none too good to do sech a thing," muttered Ezekiel, as he recalled the wickedness of the boy in destroying "his property."
"I thought he was a nice boy, went to Sunday school, and belonged to the Band of Hope," continued the captain, who, however, judging from his manner, did not care whether the boy was a saint or a demon.
"I don't care what he b'longs to, nor how many Sunday schools he goes to: he stole sunthin' from me, and I cal'late he'd steal from other folks, if he would from me."
"That's good logic, Zeke; but you mustn't be hard on the boy."
"I ain't hard on him."
"I reckon that folks generally think more of him than you seem to. By the way, did he say anything to you about that boat he picked up over on the other shore?"
"No; he never said nothin' to me about it."
"No; he never says nothin' to me about anything."
"That's a fine boat," added Captain Chinks, who had taken a lead pencil from his pocket, and was tapping the glass with it, as if to ascertain the quality of the material of which it was composed.
"So I've hearn tell; but I hain't seen her only from the shore."
"It's strange no one comes after her," suggested the captain. "Zeke, there's a mystery about that boat."
"Of course I don't know anything about it; but I reckon the owner would have been after her, if there hadn't been some reason for keeping in the dark."
"You don't say so!"
"Well, you see I only guess at it. I don't know no more about it than you do; perhaps not so much."
"I don't know nothin' at all about it," protested Ezekiel.
Captain Chinks tapped the glass, and did not seem to care about anything in particular, least of all about that boat, which was the subject of the conversation.
"What do you mean by a mystery, cap'n? I hain't hearn nothin' of no mystery afore."
"I had some talk with your boy about the boat and her cargo."
"What cargo? I hain't hearn nothin' o' no cargo."
"Won't you take another nip of this brandy, Zeke?" added Captain Chinks, pushing the bottle towards him.
"Don't care if I do. That's good brandy."
"But it isn't any better than a lot which was aboard that boat when your boy picked her up."
"Sho! You don't say she had brandy in her?"
"No, I don't say so. I say again that I don't know anything at all about the matter. I only had my suspicions, you know."
"I understand," replied Ezekiel, as he drank off his dram.
"I don't know, but in my judgment that boat was loaded with brandy, or something that don't pay tribute to Uncle Sam."
"You don't say so!"
"No, I don't say so," replied Captain Chinks, sharply, for he was very particular not to be regarded as affirming what he only suspected. "I only guess so."
"Well, you don't say that you guess so! That's what I meant to say," explained the toper.
"The talk I had with your boy satisfied me I wasn't far from right. Now, the brandy's worth more than the boat. I'm always up to a trade, you know; and I didn't know but I might make something. I asked your boy if he would give up the cargo and keep the boat, in case I could find the owner."
"Sho! Did you know the owner, cap'n?"
"Of course I didn't. I haven't the least idea who he is. Your boy wouldn't give up the cargo and keep the boat."
"That boy's a fool, and allus was."
"I thought, if I could get hold of the cargo, I could make something out of it. Perhaps you and I can now;" and the captain looked sharply into the toper's face.
"I'm ready," replied Ezekiel, who was now considerably "boozed."
"Bobtail must have landed that cargo somewhere, and concealed it; perhaps on some island; may be in your house. I say, Zeke, can you keep a quiet tongue in your head?"
"I cal'late I can."
Captain Chinks enlarged on this point, and the toper promised to be as silent as the grave.
"Now, I reckon you can find this brandy. I suppose it was brandy, but I don't know. If it was, it comes in cases."
"Yes, I know," added Ezekiel, eagerly; and he wished he might get hold of that brandy; if he did, Captain Chinks would not get the whole of it.
"If you keep an eye on the boy, you can easily find it. The boat was seen at anchor early in the morning after he picked her up, and I'm pretty sure he has hid the goods somewhere about your house. If you find them, just let me know, and I'll give you a case of the brandy, and a hundred dollars besides. Will you do it, Zeke?"
"If it don't b'long to you, I don't see why I should give it up to you."
This was a brilliant idea on the part of the toper, and Captain Chinks could not help acknowledging the force of it.
"You can't do anything with it. The government will take it away from you. You see, I mean to make a trade with the owner of the goods. It is no more than fair that he should have his own property, if he will pay you and me for our trouble. Take something, Zeke."
The toper drank again, and then Captain Chinks made him a present of what was left in the bottle. Ezekiel agreed to do all that was required of him, and his companion cautioned him not to say a word to Bobtail about it, but only to watch him. They separated, and the inebriate staggered to his home.
Mrs. Taylor did not sleep any better than her son. Her troubles kept her awake, and not her worthless husband, who was so tipsy when he returned from the saloon, that he dropped asleep as soon as he lay down. The poor woman had done nothing to improve the situation, for she could not leave the town until after the examination. At nine o'clock Mr. Brooks came to the cottage with a warrant for her arrest, but he considerately begged her not to disturb herself about the matter. All he required of her was to appear at the office of Squire Norwood at ten o'clock, and no one need ever know she was in custody before that hour.
Little Bobtail came on shore before the officer left the house, and reported himself ready, in his own words, to "face the music." At the appointed hour there was a considerable collection of people in the office of Squire Norwood. Mr. Walker, who was quite a distinguished man, the mayor of Bangor, Judge Hamblin, and several other notable gentlemen of the state were present, all of them interested in the fate of the brave youth who had behaved so well off Blank Island. They were members of the Penobscot's party, and each of them was willing to do all that Colonel Montague would do if present.
Mrs. Taylor and her son appeared, and they were warmly greeted by the interested spectators. The business proceeded in due form, and Mr. Simonton astonished Squire Gilfilian by asking for a postponement until the next Tuesday. The reasons for this request were considered, and they were deemed sufficient; but Squire Gilfilian stoutly objected, because a certain witness would be obliged to remain in Camden three days. Judge Hamblin consulted with Squire Simonton, and it was agreed to proceed with the examination. Mrs. Taylor trembled and wept when this decision was reached, and a smile of triumph played upon the lips of Squire Gilfilian. Captain Chinks tried to be indifferent, but he was evidently pleased with the result. The case was commenced, and Squire Gilfilian, Captain Chinks, and the ill-visaged man gave their evidence as they had stated it in the office of the lawyer. It appeared that Robert Taylor had left the letter on the squire's desk. The five hundred dollar bill was produced and identified by Mr. Slipwing, and it was shown that this bill had been paid to the squire by Mrs. Taylor. No evidence was introduced to show that the boy had returned to the office after Captain Chinks left, but it seemed impossible to escape the conclusion that he had done so. Mrs. Taylor now appeared as a defendant, and could not be compelled to testify. At this point in the proceedings, Squire Simonton renewed his request that the further examination of the defendants be postponed till the next Tuesday, when he hoped to bring forward an important witness in the case. Captain Chinks, in spite of his assumed indifference, was uneasy at this statement. The request was granted; Mr. Walker and the mayor of Bangor offered themselves as bail for the defendants, and they were released from custody.
The case certainly looked very black for Mrs. Taylor and her son. The kind friends who appeared to assist them were staggered at the evidence, and feared it would be impossible to save him from conviction. They could only hope for the best, and hope against what appeared to be an absolute certainty. Judge Hamblin was confounded, but he was so averse to believing the brave boy was guilty, that he suspected there was a conspiracy. After the postponement of the examination, he asked Squire Gilfilian to let him see the five hundred dollar bill.
"Mrs. Taylor, have you looked at this bill?" he asked, as he showed it to the troubled woman.
"No, sir; I have not," she replied.
"Won't you look at it? Do you remember the bill you paid Mr. Gilfilian?"
"I didn't look at it much."
"How long did you have the bill in your possession?"
"Not long, sir."
"Did you examine it?"
"Not much; I looked it over a little."
Mrs. Taylor turned over the note in her hands, and examined it very carefully.
"Does that one look like it?" asked the judge, anxiously.
"You don't suppose we have changed the bill—do you?" demanded Squire Gilfilian, rather indignantly.
"Certainly not, Mr. Gilfilian," replied the judge. "At least I don't suppose you have any knowledge of such a trick. But there may be some mistake. The witness who identifies this bill is taking charge of the defence of the Buckingham Bank robbers. Perhaps he is one of them himself, and it is even possible that he sent you no money in the letter."
"I have no desire to convict the boy, if he is not guilty," added Mr. Gilfilian.
"Certainly not; I do not suppose the contrary, but I would like to hear what the boy's mother says about this bill. Now, Mrs. Taylor," continued the judge, turning to the troubled woman, "does that bill look like the one you paid Mr. Gilfilian?"
"Yes, sir; very much like it," answered she, sadly.
"Do you think it is the one?"
"I think it is, sir."
"Look at it very carefully, if you please."
"I have looked at it; and I'm sure this is the one," said Mrs. Taylor.
Squire Gilfilian looked triumphantly at the judge, who was more amazed than ever. He knew the workings of crime well enough to see the bearing of poor Mrs. Taylor's present conduct. If guilty she would not have acknowledged the identity of the bill. She would have encouraged the lawyers to save herself and her son, by following out the suggestion that the letter had contained no bill.
"Then where did you get this bill, Mrs. Taylor?" asked the judge.
"I can't tell at present, sir," replied the poor mother, as she glanced at her son.
Mr. Simonton explained that, for some reason inexplicable to him, the woman positively refused to explain where the bill came from. The judge was still more confounded; though, after the straightforward and damaging answers she had given in regard to the identity of the bill, he could not believe she was guilty, even while it was impossible to see how she could be innocent. The parties left the office, and everybody talked about the examination for the rest of the day.
Ezekiel Taylor did not attend the examination, for he was engaged in an examination on his own account. He improved the opportunity while Bobtail and his mother were absent in searching for the contraband merchandise. He had already consumed the bottle of brandy given him by Captain Chinks, and was anxious to find the goods, in order to obtain another. He ransacked the house from cellar to garret, without finding anything which looked like a case of brandy. He was bitterly disappointed, but he continued his search in the vicinity of the house, and along the shore. He spent the whole day in this fruitless occupation.
Judge Hamblin walked to the Bay View House, after the close of the proceedings, and Little Bobtail went with him. The bewildered legal gentleman questioned the boy closely, but his replies were always square and prompt. He knew nothing whatever about the letter after he left it on the desk in the office.
"Are you going to see Colonel Montague?" whispered Mrs. Taylor, who had followed her son to the hotel.
"I should like to tell him about the case, but I don't see that he can do anything for us. These folks have done everything," replied Bobtail, gloomily.
"You said you were going, but I don't ask you to go."
"Two gentlemen here want the boat. They said they wished for a sail, and didn't care about fishing. If they had just as lief go to Belfast as anywhere else, I'll run up there. It's a tip-top breeze to go and come."
"Do as you think best, but don't tell him I sent you," added Mrs. Taylor, as she walked towards home.
Bobtail thought she was over sensitive about calling upon her old employer, but was willing to humor her, and promised to tell Colonel Montague, if he saw him, that his mother had not sent him.
"Now, where's Captain Bobtail?" shouted a gentleman, coming out of the hotel.
"Here I am, sir."
"You were to take us out to sail if you got out of that scrape, my boy."
"I'm not out of it, sir; but I can take you out to sail," replied the skipper of the Skylark.
"We are all ready, and Mr. Philbrook has put up a basket of stores for us; for we were going to take another boat if you couldn't go."
"The boat is all ready, sir. Where do you wish to go?"
"Don't care a fig where we go. All we want is a good sail."
"How long do you want to be out, sir?"
"O, till night."
"What do you say to a run up to Belfast?"
"Capital! But can you go as far as that in one day, or what is left of the day?"
"I can run up there with this wind, and the tide in our favor, in about three hours. It is blowing pretty fresh."
"I see it is."
"And the wind is west. The tide will turn about the time we get there, and the wind is fair both ways, or nearly all the way. If the wind holds, I can get you back before nine o'clock, and give you an hour or two in Belfast."
"All right, my lad. We don't care whether we get back by nine o'clock or not,—just as lief make a night of it as not," added the gentleman, who spoke for both.
"You can sleep tip-top in the cabin; but I will get you back by nine, if the wind don't die out. I can't warrant you against that."
"Belfast it is, my lad. Now, how much do you ask a day for your boat?"
"Seven dollars, sir, for the boat and crew; eight if we cook for you," replied Bobtail, who had decided to advance the price, as he stated, in order to pay for the few groceries and other stores.
"Cook?" queried the gentleman.
"If you take a fish dinner and supper on board, I charge a dollar more. I can give you tea and coffee, fried fish, and fried potatoes. If you want meats, I must charge for them, too."
"Good, Captain Bobtail. We will have fish for dinner and supper, and pay you eight dollars," laughed the gentleman, amused at the business-like talk of the boy.
"But can we stop to catch fish?" asked his companion.
"We have time enough," answered the skipper.
"Then catch the fish by all means, for they are twice as good just out of the water."
Little Bobtail procured a small can of milk, and a bucket of fresh clams for bait. The yacht was amply supplied with water and stores, and the party hastened to the steps at the Portland steamer wharf. A boy in a boat pulled them off to the Skylark.
"Loose the mainsail, Monkey," shouted Bobtail, as the boat approached the yacht.
"Ay, ay," replied the Darwinian, with enthusiasm; for he was glad to vary the monotony of his situation as boat-keeper.
"Your crew is well named, Captain Bobtail," laughed one of the gentlemen.
"Yes, sir. Monkey is a queer-looking fellow, but he is just as good as they make them," replied Bobtail, as he leaped upon the deck of the Skylark.
The gentlemen were delighted with the yacht, and explored her above and below, while the skipper and his crew were hoisting the mainsail and weighing the anchor. In a few moments Bobtail took his place at the helm; the fresh breeze struck the mainsail as the skipper hauled in the sheet, and the Skylark heeled over, gathered headway, and went off like an arrow shot from a bow.
"See here, Captain Bobtail; you won't upset us—will you?" said one of his passengers as the yacht heeled down, when she caught the breeze.
"O, no, sir. I mean to keep her right side up," replied the skipper.
"I have no doubt you mean to do so; but can you do it?"
"To be sure I can."
"She tipped pretty badly then."
"That was nothing. She will go over ever so much farther than that without putting her scuppers under. She had not got her bearings then. Now hoist the jib, Monkey," shouted Bobtail.
"Hold on, Captain Bobtail!" said one of the gentlemen. "Don't you think you have sail enough on? It blows fresher than I thought it did."
"It's just a whole sail breeze. She will carry her jib without winking, and go along as steady as a lady on the sidewalk," laughed Bobtail, who concluded that his passengers were not accustomed to boats, especially when the wind blew.
"We are going ten miles an hour now," suggested the second gentleman.
"Not seven, sir. We will try the jib; and if you don't like it, we can take it in again."
Monkey had hoisted the jib, and it was flapping and pounding furiously,—making a noise which was rather trying to the nerves of the gentlemen. The skipper seized the lee sheet, and luffing up the boat, flattened down the sail to its proper place, for he was obliged to run a short distance to the northward in order to clear some vessels at anchor. Having passed these, the sheets were started, and the Skylark went off before the wind. The sea was not heavy so far in shore, but it was exciting sailing, and the passengers kept silence, watching the swift motion of the yacht. In a short time they were accustomed to the situation, and began to talk, though in rather subdued tones at first. They seemed to regard the skipper with a feeling of awe, and realized that their lives were in his keeping. They knew little or nothing about a boat, and did not feel quite at home with such lively sailing. The confident manner of the young skipper, his perfect command of the situation, his pleasant speech and laugh, reassured them. When the yacht had passed North-east Point the course was changed to the north-east, and the sheets hauled in, so that the Skylark had the wind a little abaft the beam. This was her best point in sailing, and she soon exhibited her best speed. She heeled over so that her scuppers often went under. Bobtail kept her just far enough from the land to get the full force of the wind, but not far enough to be shaken up by the waves, which beat heavily on La Salle Island, east of them.
"This is lively—isn't it, Howe?" said one of the gentlemen.
"It is the smartest sailing I ever saw," replied Mr. Howe. "You seem to know what you are about, Captain Bobtail."
"I think I do, sir," answered the skipper. "I have been in a boat ever since I was born, and I can't remember the time when I couldn't sail one."
"I would give a hundred dollar bill if I could sail a boat as well as you can," said Mr. Jones.
"So would I," added Mr. Howe.
"I will tell you all I know about it for nothing," laughed the skipper. "I don't pretend to know much, but somehow I always get along. Won't you take the helm, sir, and try your hand at it?"
"No, not now; I should rather begin when it is not quite so lively," replied Mr. Jones.
"It is easy enough. She will almost steer herself. All you have to do is to run for that point of land, about eight miles ahead."
"Eight miles—is it?" asked Mr. Howe, consulting his watch.
"About eight from here. It is just ten from the point astern of us."
"It is exactly twelve o'clock now. Let us see how long it takes us to go eight miles."
"I can tell you now, sir," laughed Bobtail. "It will take us just forty-eight minutes."
"Good, my lad! I will time you. If it takes forty-nine, you are no prophet."
"I don't expect to tell within a minute; but I guess I'll steer myself, if you are going to whittle me down as close as that."
Bobtail began to be very exact in his steering and sailing. He started the sheets a couple of inches, and watched the point ahead very closely. Ten miles an hour was fast sailing for a boat of the size of the Skylark; but he knew she would do it if she was well handled. The two gentlemen kept looking at their watches, and as the distance diminished they declared she would make the point in half an hour; but distances are very delusive on the water, and when half an hour had elapsed, they thought that five minutes more would bring the boat up with the headland. Bobtail watched his sails, and "steered small." In forty minutes he found that he should make the point a little too soon, and he let out the jib-sheet a little, so that the sail did not draw full.
"Forty-five minutes!" exclaimed Mr. Jones, "and we are off the point."
"But we are not up with it, sir," replied Bobtail, hauling in the jib-sheet again.
"You are cutting it fine, Captain Bobtail," added Mr. Howe.
"Of course I meant abreast of the point, and when it lies just abeam, we shall be up with it. Here we are, sir!"
"Forty-eight minutes to a second!" ejaculated Mr. Jones, as he showed his watch to the skipper.
"Lower the jib, Monkey!" shouted Bobtail.
"I did not think you could hit it so closely as that," said Mr. Howe.
"Well, sir, I couldn't if you hadn't told me the time every few minutes," laughed Bobtail. "I bamboozled you."
"I should have made the point in three quarters of an hour if I hadn't let out the jib-sheet. I lost the three minutes on purpose."
"But why do you lower the jib here?" asked Mr. Jones.
"We will try the fish here. Ready with the anchor, Monkey!"
"All ready," replied the Darwinian.
Bobtail threw the yacht up into the wind, and as soon as she had lost her headway, he gave the order to let go the anchor. Monkey had got out the fishing gear and opened the clams on the passage up, so that the passengers threw over their lines immediately. They did not have a bite for some time, and Monkey threw over a line. It had hardly run out before he had a fish, and pulled in a good-sized cod.
"How's that?" said Mr. Howe. "I haven't had a nibble yet."
"Perhaps you don't fish right, sir," suggested Monkey, with one of his apish grins, as he took the gentleman's line, and found that the sinker was not within twenty feet of the bottom. "That's what's the matter, sir. Drop the line down till the sinker touches bottom; then pull up about a fathom."
The two passengers, following these instructions, began to pull in cod and haddock very rapidly, and Monkey had all he could do to bait their hooks, and take off their fish.
"Look here, Howe!" exclaimed Mr. Jones, tugging with all his might at his line; "I'm pulling up the bottom of Penobscot Bay, as true as you live!"
"Don't do that, sir," shouted Bobtail, merrily. "We shall get aground if you do."
"What is it?" asked Mr. Howe.
"I don't know," replied Mr. Jones, still hauling away at his line, to which some immense dead weight seemed to be attached. "It must be a whale."
"No, sir; pull away," said Monkey, laughing; "you have got hold of your grandmother."
"Yes, sir; pull away, and you will see her in a minute."
After much tugging, for the fish was not at all "gamey," he hauled up the strangest looking fish he had ever seen, though Bobtail and Monkey were entirely familiar with the specimen. The hook, drawing upon his mouth, so distended it, that its appearance was not unlike the face of an old woman with a cap on. The fish was a large scate, not less than three feet across the back. The gentlemen had never seen one before, and he was hauled upon the deck to enable them to examine him.
Half an hour's fishing satisfied the passengers, as there was a tub full of cod and haddock to show for their success. After the gentlemen had fully satisfied their curiosity, the scate was thrown overboard. The anchor was weighed, the jib hoisted, and the Skylark continued on her voyage to Belfast. Monkey dressed a couple of the nicest cod, and then washed down the deck. The Darwinian was then required to take the helm, and Bobtail, sacrificing his dignity as the skipper of the craft, went below and assumed the duties of cook and steward. He pared and sliced a large quantity of potatoes, for Mr. Jones had declared that he was already as hungry as a bear. These he fried, and put them in the oven to keep them hot. The fish was cooked, and coffee made. The table had been set at odd moments, and in less than an hour dinner was ready. Bobtail was invited to dine with the passengers, and he was warmly commended for his culinary skill.
"That's the best dinner I've eaten in the State of Maine," said Mr. Jones, with enthusiasm.
"We can get up a pretty good dinner on board of the Skylark," added the proud skipper. "The cook isn't much on puddings and pies, but on the heavy grub he can do as well as the next man."
"I've drank worse coffee than yours at a first-class hotel in New York," said Mr. Howe.
"I can give you a chowder for supper, if you like," added the cook.
"I like the fried fish best."
"Perhaps we can give you something different."
The skipper and the passengers went on deck. Bobtail relieved the crew at the helm, and sent him below to eat his dinner, and clear away the dishes. The gentlemen lighted their cigars, and declared that they felt perfectly happy. The Skylark was now going up Belfast Bay, close-hauled, but still laying her course.
"Now, how long have we been?" asked Mr. Jones, taking out his watch. "Just three hours."
"But we spent half an hour of it in fishing," suggested the skipper.
"Exactly so, and we have made the run in two hours and a half."
Monkey was called on deck, the jib taken in, and the Skylark ran alongside a wharf, where she was secured. It was agreed to sail for Camden on the return at six o'clock, and the passengers left the yacht to explore the town. The skipper washed and "slicked up" as well as he could. Putting on his bobtail coat, he went ashore, to call upon Colonel Montague. After some inquiry he found the house; and it was easily identified, for it was the finest one in the city. The visitor found the owner of the Penobscot smoking his cigar under the shade of a tree, where rustic chairs had been placed. He was alone, and gave the young skipper a hearty greeting.
"I'm glad to see you, Captain Bobtail," said he, warmly, shaking the hand of the boy. "I did not expect a visit from you quite so soon, but I'm none the less glad to see you."
"I brought a couple of gentlemen up in the Skylark, and thought I would call upon you while they were looking over the place."
"I'm glad you did. Grace and Mrs. Montague will be very glad to see you. I will call them."
"Not yet, if you please, sir. I want to tell you what a scrape I got into first; and then I don't know that you will want them to see me," replied Bobtail, blushing.
"I hope you haven't been doing anything wrong."
"They say I have, but I have not. I am as innocent as you are, sir. I thought I would come up and tell you about it, as I was here. Mother did not send me."
"She did not?"
"No, sir; she was rather opposed to my saying anything to you about the scrape."
"Sit down, Captain Bobtail, and tell me all about it," said the colonel, in kindly tones, though there was an anxious expression on his face.
Little Bobtail told the whole story about the letter and the five hundred dollar bill.
"And your mother paid this same bill to Mr. Gilfilian?" asked Colonel Montague, very much troubled.
"Yes, sir. The squire wanted to know where she got the bill, and she won't tell," added Bobtail.
"She won't tell!" echoed the colonel; and there was an expression of relief in his face.
"She won't give even the slightest hint; and because she wouldn't explain it, Squire Gilfilian caused her to be arrested. They said that both of us will be sent to the state prison for stealing this money."
"I know it is, sir; but I didn't take the letter; and I know mother came honestly by the money."
"I know she did, too," added the colonel. "When does this examination take place?"
"It was postponed till next Tuesday, at ten o'clock."
"Very well, Captain Bobtail. I know where your mother obtained the money."
"You, sir!" exclaimed Bobtail.
"I do; and I will be in Camden next Tuesday to tell all I know about it."
"Thank you, sir; you are very kind."
"Of course I shall not let your mother be convicted of stealing. I know nothing about the letter; and therefore I can do nothing for you, Captain Bobtail."
"If you clear my mother you will clear me. If we can only tell where the money came from, we shall be all right."
"Don't give yourself any uneasiness at all about it. I will certainly be present at the examination."
"But are you sure you know where my mother got the bill, sir?" asked Bobtail.
"Certainly, I do; and she came honestly by it. But as this is her affair, I don't feel at liberty to say anything about it yet."
Little Bobtail was confounded by this sudden solution of the mystery. If Colonel Montague knew where his mother had obtained the bill, it was plain enough to him that he had given it to her himself. He could not, for the life of him, see why this gentleman, wealthy and liberal though he was, should give her such an immense sum of money. It was a very perplexing problem, and he could not solve it. His kind friend conducted him to the house. Grace was so glad to see him, that she actually kissed him this time; and Bobtail felt as though he had tumbled into a cream-pot. Mrs. Montague was very demonstrative, and the Hon. Mr. Montague was more dignified, but hardly less cordial.
"Now you must stay with us all night, and all to-morrow, and all next week," said Grace.
"I can't," laughed Bobtail. "I brought two gentlemen up in the Skylark, and I must sail them back to-night."
"Plague take the two gentlemen!" said Grace, pettishly. "Let them go back in the stage or the steamer."
"I promised to take them back to-night; and I must keep my promise, you know, if the sky falls," pleaded the young skipper.
"Of course he must, Grace," added her father. "But he will come up some other time, and stay a month."
Little Bobtail spent an hour in the elegant mansion, whose luxuriously furnished apartments filled him with wonder and astonishment, for he had never seen anything half so fine. He promised faithfully to come some other time, and stay longer. Grace walked with him down to the wharf. The Skylark's passengers were on board, and ready to start, and in a few moments the yacht was under way. Grace waved her handkerchief to the gallant skipper, as the Skylark pulled away.
"Who is that young lady?" asked Mr. Jones, as Bobtail returned the salute.
"That's the one that fell off the rocks at Blank Island," replied the skipper.
"And the one you saved! Why didn't you say so before, so that we could have a good look at her?"
"I didn't think of it."
"She is a rich man's daughter."
"Yes, sir; her father is as rich as mud."
"And one of these days, Captain Bobtail, you will marry her, just as it is laid down in the novels," laughed Mr. Howe.
"I guess not;" and Bobtail blushed at the presumptuous idea. "She will not marry any poor fellow like me, you'd better believe. She will fish for bigger game than I am."
"She seems to like you very well."
"O, well, that's nothing; she's only a girl, and I'm only a boy," added the skipper.
Much to his relief, the topic was changed. The return trip was quite as pleasant as the other had been, and at nine o'clock the Skylark landed her passengers at the steamboat wharf, in good order and condition, and very much delighted with the excursion. The skipper received the eight dollars for the trip, and paid off his crew. It was Saturday night, and Monkey wanted to buy some provisions and groceries for his mother with the money he had earned; but he proposed to return before ten, and sleep on board, as usual. Bobtail told him he had better spend Sunday at home, for he could not pay him when the yacht did not go out. The Darwinian was willing to sleep on board without pay.
"Did you see Colonel Montague, Robert?" asked Mrs. Taylor, as he went into the house.
"Yes, I saw him; and he promised to be at the examination next Tuesday."
"What did he say?"
"He said he knew where you got the money, and that it would be all right; but I told him you didn't send me to him."
"What else did he say?" inquired Mrs. Taylor, anxiously.
"That's about all. He took me into the house, and treated me like a lord. That's the handsomest house I ever went into;" and Bobtail described the glories and the beauties of the mansion.
"Of course, after what you have done, they feel very grateful to you."
"I suppose so; but, mother, I can't keep that confounded bill out of my head," continued Bobtail. "I conclude, if Colonel Montague knows where you got it, he gave it to you himself."
"He must explain that himself."
"Of course he gave it to you. You saw him on board of the Penobscot, the day before I was taken up."
"You had better not say anything more about it, Robert."
"But why should he give you such a pile of money?" persisted the boy.
"I didn't say he gave it to me."
"I know he did."
"Well, the less you say about it, the better."
"If that is the bill which that Slipwing sent in the letter, I should like to know where Colonel Montague got it."
"I don't know anything at all about that," replied Mrs. Taylor.
The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Ezekiel. He was sober, because he could obtain no liquor. He had spent the day in searching for the contraband cargo. He had been upon Negro Island, and explored North-east Point, and all the surrounding country, but he could find no vestige of the cases. He wanted to talk with Bobtail, and he was very gentle and conciliating in his tones and manner. After beating about the bush for a long time, he so far disregarded the instructions of Captain Chinks, as to ask him what he had done with the cargo of the Skylark.
"I see you have been talking with Captain Chinks," said Bobtail. "When any one claims the boat, I am willing to talk with him, but I can't say a word before that time;" and the young skipper abruptly left the house, and went on board of the yacht.
He had scarcely seated himself in the standing-room before a gentleman from the hotel came alongside in a boat, and wanted to engage the yacht for the next day.
"To-morrow will be Sunday," replied the skipper.
"I know it; but I must leave on Monday," said the applicant.
"I don't engage her for Sundays, sir."
"It is the only time we have."
"I can't help it, sir."
"But we want to go down to Rockland to church."
"I can't let her go out on Sunday. I want to go to meeting myself, and to Sunday school."
The gentleman begged hard, but Bobtail was as resolute as the case required; he would as soon have thought of setting the Bay View House on fire, or robbing the bank, as of going out in a boat for pleasure on Sunday. The applicant offered him ten dollars, then twelve, and at last fifteen, if he would take the party out; but he refused to go for any sum that could be named, and the gentleman departed, with some hard words about fanatics, and declared that he would not hire the boat on a week day if he could not have her on Sunday.
At an early hour Bobtail turned in, with the feeling that he had done his duty, though fifteen dollars was a large sum to sacrifice. He might lose some of his engagements on other days by his observance of the Sabbath, but he would as soon have thought of robbing the bank, or setting the Bay View House on fire, for fifteen dollars, as of running the Skylark on Sunday for that sum. He was satisfied with himself, after he had faithfully considered the subject, and confident that there were good people enough to make the yacht pay without wounding his own conscience.
He went to church and to Sunday school the next day; and the services never seemed to do him so much good as after the sacrifice he had made.
A party was ready for him on Monday, and though the weather was rainy and foggy,—as it sometimes is at Camden,—he made his eight dollars, and his passengers were entirely satisfied. A party wanted the boat on Tuesday; but of course he could not go out until after the examination. At nine o'clock in the morning the Penobscot dropped her anchor in Camden harbor, and Colonel Montague immediately went on shore in the barge. An hour later the defendants and the witnesses had assembled at the office of Squire Norwood.
"We have our witness here," said Mr. Simonton, with one of his pleasantest and blandest smiles—"Colonel Montague."
The justice bowed to the distinguished witness, and requested Squire Gilfilian to produce the five hundred dollar bill, which was promptly done. Squire Norwood then rehearsed the evidence which had been given at the former hearing. The letter had been left on Mr. Gilfilian's desk; it had disappeared, and the bank bill it had contained was paid to Mr. Gilfilian by Mrs. Taylor, to cancel a mortgage on her husband's house. One of the defendants had denied all knowledge of the letter after he put it on the desk, and the other, refusing to explain where she had obtained the bill, had been arrested as a party to the crime, or as accessory to it.
"This is the bill," continued Squire Norwood, handing it to Colonel Montague, who examined it for a moment. "Have you any knowledge of that bill?"
"Do you identify it?"
"Fully. I gave this bill to Mrs. Taylor last Thursday afternoon, about sunset, on board of my yacht."
This evidence produced a decided sensation among the spectators. Squire Gilfilian sprang to his feet, and Captain Chinks, who was toying with his pocket-knife, turned as red as a red cabbage.
"On what account did you pay Mrs. Taylor five hundred dollars, Colonel Montague?" demanded Mr. Gilfilian.
"She was in my employ many years ago. She came on board of my yacht last Thursday, and told me her husband would lose his house if a mortgage upon it of five hundred dollars was not paid; that the mortgage was already foreclosed, and the house was to be advertised for sale. Under these circumstances, I loaned her the money to save her from being turned out of house and home," replied Colonel Montague, deliberately, but with more agitation than the case seemed to warrant.
"You are confident that this is the same bill?" added Squire Norwood.
"Perfectly confident; I declare upon oath that it is the same bill."
"Now, Colonel Montague, where did you obtain this bill?"
"At Bar Harbor, Mount Desert."
"I have really forgotten the name of the gentleman, but he came to Mount Desert in a small yacht, and had a very rough passage. He was quite sick, and told me he was disgusted with yachting in a small craft. He had just sold his boat for half her cost, and had received this five hundred dollar bill in payment for her, which he wished me to change for him, and I gave him smaller bills for it."
"Do you know the boat he sold?" asked Mr. Simonton.
"I never saw her, that I am aware of."
Squire Norwood ordered Mrs. Taylor to be discharged; Squire Gilfilian suggested that Bobtail was the purchaser of the yacht, but it was proved that he had not been absent from Camden even an hour before the time when Colonel Montague obtained the bill, and he was also discharged. When the examination was finished, Captain Chinks quietly stole out of the office, evidently dissatisfied with the result. Little Bobtail was warmly congratulated by all his friends, old and new, on the issue, and he was hastening away, in order to take out his party in the Skylark, when Mr. Hines stopped him.
A TRIP TO BAR HARBOR.
"Are you engaged to-day, Bobtail?" asked Mr. Hines, who was accompanied by Mr. Brooks, the deputy sheriff.
"Not exactly, sir. Two gentlemen at the Bay View wished me to take them out in the Skylark, but I told them I didn't think I could."
"If you are not engaged, I want you and your boat for two days," added the custom-house official.
"Another party wanted me to-morrow; but of course I couldn't say anything when I expected to be sent to the state prison by this time."
"I must have the boat for a couple of days, Bobtail. I won't say where we are bound, and you need not mention that I am going with you," continued Mr. Hines, as he discovered Squire Gilfilian and Captain Chinks talking together on the sidewalk. "You shall be paid for the use of the boat at your usual rate, and I shall be ready in about an hour. Mr. Brooks will go with us."
Little Bobtail wondered what was going to be done now, as Mr. Hines sheered off and hastened to the hotel; but he had no time to consider before Squire Gilfilian called him. He was not quite willing to believe that the distinguished lawyer wished to convict him of a crime, but he thought he was very zealous in his work.
"Bobtail, I am not quite satisfied about this business," said the squire.
"I am, sir," replied the young skipper.
"I suppose so," added the lawyer, with a smile. "You ought to be. There seems to be some connection between the boat you say you picked up and the bill which was stolen from my letter."
"I don't know anything about that," said Bobtail.
"Do you mean to say that you picked that boat up?" asked Captain Chinks, sharply.
"I do mean to say so."
"I'll bet a hundred dollars she is the boat that was bought with that money."
"I think it's very likely; but I didn't buy her with it," replied Bobtail.
"But you got some man to do it for you. The boat didn't turn up in Camden harbor till a week after the money was lost."
"I don't know anything about that; but if you want to take me up again, I'm ready," answered Bobtail, smartly.
"We don't want to take you up. We only want to know who stole that letter. Your bringing that boat here, and no one claiming her, look a little suspicious—that's all," added Squire Gilfilian.
"But I never was in Bar Harbor, where the boat was bought, in my life," pleaded Bobtail.
"You might have got some man to buy her for you."
"I might, but I didn't."
"You seem to be using the boat just as if she were your own."
"I told Captain Chinks I was ready to give her up whenever the owner came for her; and she is advertised in the Camden Herald and the Rockland Gazette."
"That's a blind," said Captain Chinks. "But I'm going to look the thing up. I was in the squire's office when that letter came, and by and by somebody will say I took it."
"Well, I don't know but you did," added Bobtail, though the suspicion had never before entered his mind.
"What!" exclaimed the man with a doubtful reputation, his face flushing.
"I don't say you did; and I don't know anything at all about it."
"Don't be saucy, Bobtail," interposed Squire Gilfilian.
"I have just as much right to say he took the letter, as he has to say I took it. He had just as much to do with it as I had; and he was in the office when I left it."
"But you went back again, you rascal!" said Captain Chinks, angrily.
"No, I didn't go back again."
"You left the office before I did, but you overtook me on the road to the Portland steamer wharf. You went back again; I know you did!" stormed the captain.
"I didn't go back."
"Well, where were you all that time?"
"I went into a shop and bought some gingerbread and cheese, and I can prove it, too."
"Didn't you hear me tell the post-master that I expected a letter with some money in it, the day that letter came?" asked the squire.
"No, sir; I did not."
"I told the post-master what I expected when I asked him to send me the letter. You were in the office then, Bobtail."
"No, sir; I didn't see you at all that day. I wasn't in the post-office half a minute before the letter was given to me," answered Bobtail, decidedly.
Squire Gilfilian wished to make it out that the boy knew there was money in the letter, to account for his stealing it; but he made no progress in his effort.
"I'm going to look this business up, anyhow," said Captain Chinks, savagely. "I want your boat for two days, Bobtail."
"You can't have her," replied the young skipper, decidedly.
"I suppose not," sneered the captain. "You don't want this business looked up."
"Whether I do or not, you can't have the boat."
"What's the reason I can't?"
"She is engaged; but if she was not engaged, I wouldn't let you have her."
"Steady, Bobtail," interposed the squire. "You are a little too crank for a boy."
"I can't help it. The last time Captain Chinks was in the boat, he pitched into me; and that's where he got that black eye. I don't want anything more to do with him."
"I'll pay for the boat," said the captain, who seemed desirous at this point to change the subject of the conversation.
"You can't have her. She is engaged."
"Who is to have her?"
"Two or three parties want her. I'm going off for two days."
"Where are you going?"
"I don't know. The folks didn't tell me where."
"Who are the folks?" demanded Captain Chinks.
"It don't make any difference who they are. But I haven't time to stand here talking all day. If you want anything of me, I'm ready to face the music."
"Captain Chinks wants your boat to investigate the matter of the letter," said Squire Gilfilian. "He is going to Bar Harbor, and wants the boat so as to find the person who bought her, for of course she will be known there. You had better let him have her."
"I can't let him have her. She is engaged."
"But this is a case that will warrant you in breaking your engagement."
"I don't think so."
"Your character is involved in this matter; and it is for your interest to have the case cleared up."
"I don't believe Captain Chinks will clear it up. I know more about him than some other fellows do, and I don't want him to whitewash my character. I can't stop any longer, sir," said Bobtail, as he saw Mr. Hines and the deputy-sheriff watching his movements.
Captain Chinks was very angry at the boy's last remarks, and began to storm at him. Squire Gilfilian tried to calm him, and Bobtail walked off while he was doing so.
"What's the matter, Bobtail?" asked Mr. Hines, when the boy joined him in the office of the hotel.
"They are trying to make it out now that I bought the Skylark with the money taken from the letter," answered the skipper, as he proceeded to give the substance of the conversation with the squire and Captain Chinks.
"Then the captain is going to Bar Harbor—is he?" laughed Mr. Hines. "I hope he will go. I may want to use him there."
"Are you going to Bar Harbor, sir?" asked Bobtail.
"That's where we are bound."
"But I am not a pilot beyond Sedgwick. I have been there, but never to Mount Desert," said the skipper.
"No matter, my lad; I'm a pilot to Bar Harbor, and it's quite time you learned the way there," replied Mr. Hines. "Now get ready as fast as you can, Bobtail, and don't say where you are going or who is going with you; for I don't believe Captain Chinks would go to Bar Harbor if he expected to meet me there."
The skipper purchased some provisions and stores for the yacht, which Monkey had sailed up to the wharf at the head of the harbor, as he had been instructed to do. Bobtail sent word to his mother that he should be gone two or three days, and went on board. But his passengers did not appear, and he waited impatiently for them. Captain Chinks was loafing about the wharf, and Bobtail concluded that this was the reason they did not come. The captain was evidently curious to know who were to go in the Skylark. After waiting half an hour, a boy brought a note to the skipper. It was from Mr. Hines, desiring him to sail at once, and to stand up towards North-East Point. He obeyed his written order, and beyond the point, a boat with his passengers came off from the shore. Mr. Hines and the deputy sheriff went below, so as not to be recognized by any persons in the boats which were sailing about in the vicinity. The skipper laid his course for the northern point of Deer Island, and the Skylark went off flying on her cruise.
"I began to think you were not coming," said Bobtail to Mr. Hines, who sat near the cabin door.
"We couldn't get on board at that wharf without being seen by everybody; and Captain Chinks was watching us," replied the custom-house official. "Mr. Philbrook drove us round to the point, where we got a boy to bring us off. Are there any boats near you, Bobtail?"
"Not a single one, sir. There is a lot of mackerel catchers half a mile to the southward of us, and the Portland steamer is coming round the point."
"All right," said Mr. Hines, taking a seat in the standing-room opposite the skipper. "Has Captain Chinks any boat fit to go to Mount Desert in?"
"He had one a while ago, but I haven't seen her lately. I don't know where she is now."
"Do you know the boat?"
"Yes; I should know her a mile off."
"I think we shall find her at Bar Harbor," laughed Mr. Hines.
"I shouldn't be surprised, for I begin to see the daylight sinning through this business," added Bobtail, his eyes flashing.
"What do you see?"
"I think I know who stole that letter, and how the five hundred dollar bill happened to go down to Bar Harbor."
"We shall know before we get back."
"What do you suppose Captain Chinks wanted to go to Bar Harbor in the Skylark for?" asked Bobtail.
"I don't know, but I am afraid if you had gone with him you would never have come back again; for you have spoiled all his plans. He will take the steamer to-morrow morning at Rockland for Bar Harbor. But we shall have time to look the matter up before he arrives, if the breeze holds."
Fortunately the wind did hold, and at eight o'clock in the evening the Skylark reached her destination. The breeze was steady, but light, and the passage was a delightful one through the narrow channels among the islands. The skipper got up a nice dinner of beefsteak, green corn, and tomatoes, which Mr. Hines declared was equal to the table at the Bay View; and this was no equivocal compliment.
"That is Captain Chinks's boat," said Bobtail, as he pointed to a craft at anchor near the steamboat wharf.
"I thought we should find her here," replied Mr. Hines. "He doesn't sail that boat alone—does he?"
"No, sir; he has a nephew that lives with him; but he has gone to Boston."
"Are you sure of that?"
"Captain Chinks says he has; that's all I know about it."
"How old is the nephew?"
"In my opinion that nephew is here," added the custom-house official.
"That's so!" exclaimed Bobtail, as the Skylark passed the captain's boat. "There he is now.—Hallo, Ben!"
"Is that you, Bobtail? Where did you pick up that boat?"
"Don't let on," interposed Mr. Hines; and the skipper did not answer the question.
"Say! Where d'ye get her?" shouted Ben.
"She isn't mine."
"He knows all about her. Keep out of sight, Mr. Brooks. He knows you, but not me," continued Mr. Hines.
The Skylark passed out of hearing of Ben's voice, but he immediately jumped into his dory and pulled for the wharf. Bobtail ran the yacht up to the landing-steps, and Mr. Brooks hastened on shore, so that Ben Chinks should not recognize him.
"Say, Bob, where'd ye get this boat?" asked Ben, stepping upon the deck of the Skylark.
"She don't belong to me," replied Bobtail.
"Don't you know the boat?" inquired Mr. Hines.
"Don't I know her?" repeated Ben.
"That's the question I asked."
"I cal'late I've seen her before; because she came into Bar Harbor about ten days ago," replied Ben, cautiously.
"Exactly so," added the custom-house detective; "she was sold, and your uncle or father bought her."
"Who told you all that?" asked Ben; and he did not seem to know whether or not to admit the truth of the statement.
The detective whistled and looked about him as though he did not care whether Captain Chinks bought her or not.
"Your uncle bought her dog cheap, too. I think Captain Chinks is a smart man," added Mr. Hines.
"He's some," grinned Ben.
"But you and he drank a little too much of that liquor."
"What liquor? I don't drink liquor."
"You might as well own up. Captain Chinks and you were a little boozy that day."
"Why, that day you sailed this boat up the bay."
"I didn't drink a drop," protested Ben, warmly.
"Then your uncle drank enough for both of you."
"No, he didn't, nuther. I didn't see him drink anything."
"Ah, it's no use to deny it," laughed Mr. Hines, as though he was only indulging in a pleasantry.
"I wouldn't deny it if it was true; but it ain't."
"How did the boat get adrift, then?" queried Mr. Hines. "Both of you must have been a little set up."
"Not a bit."
"The boat wouldn't have got adrift if you had either of you been all right."
"Both of us were as straight as a gun."
"How did it happen, then?"
"It was blowing like Sam Hill, that day, you see—didn't Captain Chinks tell you about it?"
"He didn't say you were both sober."
"Well, I was; and if he drank anything that day, I didn't see him do it,' persisted Ben.
"But what in the world did you want to land your stuff in that place for?"
"What place? What stuff?" demanded Ben.
"Those cases of brandy, of course. It's all right, my man. Captain Chinks will be down here to-morrow. Little Bobtail here picked up the yacht, and took her into Camden. The stuff was all landed in the night, so that only two or three persons know anything about it—Little Bobtail, myself, and a friend of mine."
"Who is he?"
"He's a friend of mine. We were on the lookout for this lot of brandy, and we took it off Captain Chinks's hands, so that he won't have any trouble in getting rid of it."
"Is that so? Who's the other man?"
"We don't call names in this business, you know," answered the detective, mysteriously. "But I can't see what you wanted to land the stuff in that place for. You would have been trapped if you had; for there is a sharp detective over at Camden, looking out for cases of this sort."
"Sho! Who is he?"
"His name's Hines."
"Hines? I never heard on him before."
Bobtail had to look overboard to keep from laughing.
"Ketch a weasel asleep!" grinned Ben. "Me'n my uncle's sharp enough to whittle skewers with him. When he ketches Cap'n Chinks, he'll ketch a weasel asleep, you bet! It was the cap'n's notion to land the stuff on that island, and take it over, a little at a time, when we went out fishing. We run the boat aground on a beach. You see, I found a hole in the rocks—a kind of cave—that would hold the hull lot on't. We could kiver up the mouth of the hole with rocks, so't no one'd ever think anything was in it. The boat was on so hard we couldn't stir her, and we went up to take a look at the hole. While we were gone, the tide riz, and the wind blowed the boat off. The cap'n did some tall swearin' about that time, you'd better believe; but it didn't do no good. The boat was gone, and we couldn't git her. It was just dark, and I cal'lated the wind would drive her on the rocks, and smash her all to pieces. It was lucky Bob picked her up, for she might 'a been found by some feller who'd made mischief out of that stuff in the cabin."
Bobtail had to tell the story of the picking up of the Skylark.
"She must have drifted up the bay, and then down, for the tide turned not long after we lost her," said Ben. "We walked up to Islesboro', but we didn't dare to say a word. The cap'n went over to Camden in the packet, and I came down here. I took our boat here, and with a man to help me, cruised all round Deer Island and Vinal Haven, to see if I could find the Skylark; but I couldn't hear nothin' on her."
"What did the captain give for this boat?" asked Mr. Hines.
"Five hundred dollars."
"Didn't pay for her—did he?"
"Yes, he did; cash down. The man he bought her of 's up at one of the hotels now."
"Yes, he is;" and Ben described the house.
"If he has any more such boats to sell, I should like to buy one like this at the same price. But when are you going out again?"
"O, I understand all about this business; you needn't roll your eyes at me," laughed the detective. "I know all about it; and when Captain Chinks runs in another lot of brandy, I intend to take it off his hands, if he isn't too sharp; and I want to know when to be on the lookout for it."
"O, you do?" grinned Ben.
"When do you go?"
"I donno; you must ask the cap'n. When he gets a letter he will be off."
The conversation was continued till it was quite dark, and then Ben went back to his boat. Little Bobtail laughed till his sides ached at the tactics of Mr. Hines, as they walked up to the hotel, or boarding-house, where the late owner of the Skylark lodged.
Mr. Hines and Little Bobtail walked up to the hotel. The former had possessed himself of sufficient evidence to convict Captain Chinks of smuggling, and also of intense stupidity in employing a simpleton like Ben Chinks in such a dangerous business, though rogues and villains almost always leave a screw loose somewhere.
"We shall make a good case of it, Bobtail," said Mr. Hines.
"I could hardly keep from laughing while you were pumping Ben Chinks," replied the skipper. "The idea of your taking the stuff off Captain Chinks's hands!"
"I did take it off his hands, and he will have no trouble now in getting rid of it."
"I wouldn't have said anything if I had been Ben."
"Very likely you would, Bobtail; for with all the information I have obtained from you, and from other sources, I spoke by the book, and he had every reason to suppose I was in the captain's confidence."
"But do you really think Captain Chinks will come down here?" asked Bobtail.
"I am almost sure of it."
"I should stay away, if I were him."
"He must come to unsnarl the tangle he has made here," replied the detective. "He must have been more astonished and disconcerted when Squire Gilfilian showed him the bill he had paid for the boat, than any one else was. Very likely he will have another explanation to make to show how he came by it, and he may trace it back to you in some way. But we will keep an eye on him."
At the hotel they met Mr. Brooks, but the gentleman who had sold the Skylark, being in feeble health, had retired early. Nothing could be done, and Bobtail returned to the yacht, while his passengers took rooms at the hotel, and slept like a rock till morning, for he had worked hard all day. At sunrise the next morning he was on his feet again. The Darwinian had more talent for sleeping than the skipper of the Skylark, and did not turn out till half an hour later. Bobtail had scarcely shown himself on deck before Ben Chinks pulled to the yacht.
"Say, Bob, who is that man with you?" asked he.
"You must ask him who he is?"
"Don't you know?"
"I never saw him till a few days ago. In his kind of business, he don't always tell who he is. No doubt he will tell you before night who he is. What have you been doing down here so long?" asked the skipper, wishing to divert the conversation into some other channel.
"I have made a pile of money taking out parties to sail, while I'm waiting."
"What are you waiting for?"
"Waiting for the old man. Didn't he tell you?"
"No; he didn't say much to me."
"What did he give you for picking up the boat?"
"He hasn't given me anything yet," replied Bobtail. "How much do you charge a day for your boat and two hands?"
"I've taken some parties out in the boat, and I have been charging seven and eight dollars a day."
"That's a better boat than the Eagle. If I had her I should charge eight dollars a day. But how did you get that stuff out of the Skylark?"
"I ran over in the night, and landed it between one and two o'clock in the morning, when no one was stirring in our part of the town. I hid it away in the attic, and this man took it away in the night," replied Bobtail, confining himself strictly to the facts, though of course he was no less guilty of deception than if he had told a number of square lies, except that the deception was in the interest of justice.
"It was lucky for the old man that you picked that boat up; but he's mean if he don't give you something handsome," added Ben.
"I have had the use of the boat ever since I picked her up."
"Well, that's somethin'. There comes Monkey. Does he know anything about this business?" whispered Ben.
"Not a thing."
This was a sufficient reason for saying nothing more about it, and Ben soon returned to the Eagle. After breakfast, Bobtail went up to the hotel, where his passengers lodged. In the course of the forenoon, the deputy sheriff "interviewed" Mr. Gordon, the gentleman who had sold the Skylark. He was sure he could identify the man who had paid him the five hundred dollar bill. When the steamer from Portland, which touches at Rockland, arrived, almost everybody went down to the wharf, Mr. Gordon among the number.