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The Perils of Pauline
by Charles Goddard
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At the conclusion of the story there was a pause, then the other voice answered:

"You're a wonder. As I said before, I'll give you ten cents for the binnacle and ninety cents for the story. Now you can take it or I'll have you pinched for swiping it."

"Gimme the dollar," said the hero of the tale, and a moment later he passed down the street with the two eavesdroppers at his heels.

The sailor man, proceeding at a rapid pace, suddenly turned a comer like a yacht jibing around a buoy and plunged into a dingy saloon. Owen and Hicks went in after him.

Owen ordered and invited the sailor to join them. They learned that his name was Nelson Cromwell Boyd, that he had deserted from the British navy at a tender age, and since then had been through a series of incredible adventures and injustices, which disproved the old adage that you can't keep a good man down.

At last Owen intimated that he had a business proposition to discuss, and they adjourned to the sidewalk.

"Do you want to earn some money?" asked Hicks.

"Well, that depends," said Boyd, doubtfully.

"Easy money," suggested Owen.

"That's the only kind worth going after," commented the sailor.

"That's where we agree with you, my friend," said Hicks. "We are after easy money and plenty of it. Plenty for us and plenty for you, too, if you can keep quiet about it."

"That's the kind of talk I like to hear. But as honest man to honest man, I want to warn you that there mustn't be too much work to it. I don't believe in the nobility of labor. I believe that work is the crowning shame and humiliation of the human race. It's all right for a horse or a dog or an ox to work, but a man ought to be above it. It's degrading, interferes with his pleasures and wastes his time."

"I feel the same way," agreed Owen, "but somebody has got to work to make shoes and food for us."

"Yes," admitted the sailor, "regretfully there will always have to be some work done, and I'm sorry for the poor guys that must do it. But there's been too much work done."

"Those sentiments are very noble," said Owen.

"It's all very fine to worry about your fellow man. But you would like to have plenty of money even if the rest of the world is fool enough to keep on working."

"I suppose so," said the sailor, "but I'm a reformer and my business is to talk, not work."

"That's just what we want you to do," said Owen and Hicks in answer.

Then they found a table in the rear of a saloon where they could unfold their plan.

Boyd was to be introduced to a foolish young girl who had a barrel of money. He was to tell her a deep-sea yam along certain lines, and Owen and Hicks would take care of the rest.

"The question is," said Owen, "whether you can talk and act like a sort of reformed pirate."

"Leave that to me," he assured them, and led the way out of the saloon and into still another grimy and disreputable place. It was Axel Olofsen's pawnshop and second-hand general supply and clothing store.

After much pawing over ancient, worn and rusty weapons, Boyd was at last fitted out. Ole was paid about sixty per cent of what he asked and left to the enjoyment of his Scandinavian melancholy.

"You look like a pirate now, sure enough," said Owen, observing Boyd's effect on the driver of the taxicab.

"I look it, but I don't quite feel it yet," said Boyd, with deep meaning. "There is something lacking."

"What can it be?" asked Hicks.

"About three fingers of red-eye," the sailor explained, pointing to a saloon. "That will make my disguise just perfect."

In the saloon Hicks and Owen made a little map, wrinkled it and soiled it on the floor, then gave it to the pirate.

"Tell her," said Owen as he called for a taxi, "that it is only a copy of your original, which is all worn out."

The nearer they approached to the house the more talkative became the "pirate." He demanded to know more details of what was to be done, and finally assumed an air of authority.

"You say that rich girl is crazy to see something worth writin' about? Now, I know something better than pirates and buried treasure," shouted the pirate confidently.

"Yes, no doubt," Owen replied soothingly and with some alarm at the man's bravado. "But it's pirates she is interested in just now."

"Never mind, I say I know something better," insisted the pirate. "If she will go and do what I'm goin' ter tell yer she'll sure see something like she never dreamed of. Now listen to me sharp!"

It was an extraordinary proposition the "pirate" made.

Owen laughed a gentle discouragement and shook his head, but Hicks fixed his eyes keenly on the man and was evidently turning the suggestion over in his mind.

Owen's key admitted the three to the front hall without ringing, but a maid happened to cross the hall and caught sight of Boyd. With a scream and a flutter she retreated. Owen seated his two confederates in the hall and went in search of Pauline.

Owen found Pauline alone in the library. Never did a villain propose a scheme to a beautiful girl at a more favorable moment. Half the afternoon and a little while after dinner she had been absorbing "Treasure Island," and now came Owen asking her if she would like to meet a reformed pirate and go on a thrilling and adventurous expedition.

"Owen, you are a perfect angel. Bring in your pirate. I'm sorry, though, that he has reformed."

Pauline shook hands with Hicks, but hardly noticed him. She had eyes only for the "pirate," who impressed her mightily. With awe and admiration she saw his scowling and squinting eye run over her and then travel about the room. Pauline approved of the "pirate," but the "pirate" did not approve of Pauline, and he almost told her so.

But he met the warning eyes of his confederates and restrained himself. He had his story to tell and he would do it. After all, that was the best way to attack this girl and her fortune.

"Tell us about the treasure," said Pauline eagerly.

"Hush!" he shouted in a voice that made the girl jump.

"I'll tell you, but, by the blood of Morgan, if one of you ever tells a living soul I'll cut his liver out," said the "pirate." Pauline gasped, and the secretary told him that it wasn't considered good manners to point with a sharp knife. But they all swore to secrecy and the "pirate" proceeded:

"I was but a slip of a lad when I ran away and sailed from Liverpool in the good brig Nancy Lee with as villainous a crew as I ever seen. Where we was bound for and why is none of your business. Them that planned that voyage has cashed in their souls to their Maker and—ah, well, as I was saying, they was a villainous crew, low and vile and bloody-minded. I was the cabin boy and slept on the transoms in the captain's cabin. The weather was awful and the grub was worse.

"But all went well till we reached the roarin' forties. The skipper knew how to handle sailors, you bet he did. When they came aft to kick about the grub he knocked 'em down before they said two words."

Pauline gave a little exclamation of dismay at this point and the "pirate" turned to her in explanation:

"You see, knockin' 'em down quick like that avoids a lot of cross words and unpleasant arguments such as makes hard feelin's on long voyages.

"Yes, as I was saying', all went well until the second mate got to knockin' 'em out with his left hand, which the same was all right, too, but he was heard to pass a remark one day that he only hit landlubbers with his left hand.

"The crew they was insulted, and that very night the second mate went overboard. Who done it nobody knows, leastways the captain couldn't find out. It made the old man peevish like and he got to arguin' with them sailors instead of wallopin' 'em the way he oughter done, and one day they turned on him.

"It was all over in a minute. They had the old man thrown and tied. The first mate came runnin'in, firin' his pistols, but they downed him, too. I took the wheel while they decided what to do. 'Bloody Mike,' their leader, had about persuaded the men to send the captain and mate to Davy Jones's locker and the carpenter was riggin' the plank for 'em to walk when I up and puts in a word.

"I pleaded for their lives and, though Mike was dead agin' the idea, they voted to let them live. The last we saw of 'em they was driftin' off in the jolly boat with a jug of water and a loaf of bread."

The mariner paused and Pauline suggested delightedly:

"And as soon as they had cooled down they were grateful to you and made you their leader?"

"They did not," answered the "pirate." "They broached a cask of rum in the forward hold, and I overheard 'em plotting to throw me to the sharks."

"How awful," said Pauline.

"Yes, miss," agreed the "pirate." It was awkward and embarrassing like for a mere slip of a lad. So I up and goes into the captain's cabin and gets all the pistols and knives and cutlasses there was and brings 'em out on deck.

"Pretty soon them drunken devils come a-tumblin' out of the fore hatch, picks up half a dozen capstan bars and some belyin' pins and a marlin spike or two and runs aft a-hollerin' and yellin'. I gives 'em one warnin' and then fires."

The "pirate" stopped, coughed and looked around.

"Oh, please go on," begged Pauline.

"Yes, miss," replied the sailor, "but this talking affects my throat. Could you possibly—?"

"Why, certainly," interrupted Owen, "I'll get you a drink."

After the sailor had swallowed the biggest drink ever poured out in that house he continued:

"Yes, that was as neat a fight as I ever was in. There was some twenty of 'em all told."

"And what happened then?" demanded Pauline.

"Well, Miss, it come on to blow, and there was the old ship staggerin' along under full sail. It was all I could do to keep the old hulk from foundering', at that, but I stuck to the wheel day after day and night after night. To keep from freezin' I had to drink a lot of grog. Oh, a powerful lot of grog. So much grog that I've been dependent on it ever since—and I'll take a little now, if it's agreeable." It wasn't exactly agreeable, but he got it and continued. "Finally we fetched up, ker-smack, on the rocks of a desert island. All the boats had been smashed and carried away by the storm, so I had to build a raft. The first two loads was all provisions, and then I took the treasure ashore—"

"What treasure?" asked Pauline.

"Oh, bless your heart, didn't I tell you about the treasure?"

"No," said Hicks, with a scowl, "and that's the part we want to hear about."

"Oh, money ain't everything," rebuked the "pirate" in a lordly manner. "There was a matter of a million dollars or so in good British gold, and what it was on the 'Nancy Lee' for is nobody's business. I took it all ashore, an' buried it on the island. Here's a copy of the chart I made, and you three is the first to lay human eyes on it."

While Pauline examined reverently the dingy bit of paper the "pirate" concluded his yarn.

"After I'd buried the last f it, I rigged a mast on the raft and fetched up on one of the Bahamas."

"And you have never been back to get the gold?" queried Pauline.

"No, miss; though I've started many's the time. But a poor seafarin' man like me finds it hard to fit out a proper expedition. If you fancy the notion and want to go along with me and pay all the expenses I'll divvy up half and half with you. What do you say?"

Pauline looked at Owen and Hicks, who nodded approvingly. She had no great faith in finding any gold. Old Mr. Marvin had said that treasure bunts rarely produce any results. But he had also remarked that they were very thrilling, and here, surely, was adventure well worth a little time and money. Pauline agreed, and the "pirate" was in the midst of imposing a blood-curdling oath of secrecy when Harry demanded admittance.

Nobody, least of all the sailor, would tell him what was in the wind, except that they were going off on a trip of adventure. The young man disapproved of both Hicks and the "pirate," and the latter showed his dislike of Harry. It was with regret that the man of the sea recollected Owen's stipulation that Harry must on no account be allowed to go with the party. Nothing would have pleased the "pirate" better than to have got these two happy and innocent representatives of "ill-gotten gains" alone with him on the high seas. Pauline, too, wished to have Harry who was frowning and suspiciously demanding information. But she had sworn the oath of a buccaneer, and far be it from her to break faith with the confiding freebooter.

So, once more Harry was kept out of Pauline's councils. He was a little provoked at her this time, for her willfulness seemed almost perverse after the lesson she should have learned from the aeroplane wreck.



CHAPTER VI

THE TREASURE HUNTERS

Excitement and activity pervaded the house. Sunday and Monday every one, including Harry, soon knew that Pauline was to take Tuesday's steamer to Old Nassau, in the Bahamas. Harry intended to quietly board the steamer a little earlier than Pauline and surprise the party by appearing after the ship was well out to sea. His plans were' shattered by the young lady's unexpected "early arrival." Harry, with a suitcase in each hand, met her face to face on the pier. There was nothing for him to do but confess, kiss her goodbye and go. It was with a pang of regret that she saw him toss his two suitcases covered with college team labels into a taxicab and depart.

An hour later the four treasure hunters stood looking over the rail watching the last passengers come aboard. The "pirate," in a new blue suit, huge Panama hat and light pink necktie, though a rather unusual sight, had been toned down in appearance to a degree that permitted him to walk about among people without causing a crowd to collect. Hicks, too, at Owen's suggestion, had adopted quieter attire.

Just as the gangplank was about to be pulled in the deckhands waited to permit a very feeble and bent old man to hobble aboard. He had long, white hair, and his face was mostly gray whiskers, except a pair of dark spectacles. A porter followed him bearing two brand new suitcases.

The adventurous four were soon comfortably perched in steamer chairs watching New York harbor slip by them. They had barely reached the Statue of Liberty when the "pirate" launched forth on one of his Munchausen-like tales of the sea.

Highly colored, picturesque, untrue and absurd as a stained glass window, nevertheless these yams took on a semblance of reality from the character of the narrator himself. In all his stories the "pirate" was the hero. Nobody noticed that a steward had placed a fifth steamer chair beside the sailor until that worthy reached one of the main climaxes of his narrative. At that point he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked around into the whiskers and black spectacles of the old passenger. The cackling voice remarked:

"It's a lie. It's a lie. It's a lie."

Every one was astonished, but even the "pirate" had a trace of respect for such great age, and said nothing in reply. After a while he continued, only to be interrupted by the same words.

This was too much to endure, and though the if "pirate" held his tongue they rebuked the old dotard by walking away and leaning over the rail. The conversation wandered to the subject of sharks, and Pauline asked if they were as stupid as they looked.

"Don't you believe it," the "pirate" assured her. "Them sharks look stupid just to fool you. Why, I remember a time not so long ago down in Choco Bay, on the coast of Colombia, there was an old devil who used to sneak up alongside sailin' vessels in a fog. He carried in his mouth the big iron shank of an anchor he'd picked up from the wreck."

"What did he do that for?" asked Hicks.

"So the iron would deflect the compass and make them run the ship onto the Kelp Ledges, off the Pinudas, Islands. If a ship went down he stood a good chance of eating one or two o' the passengers. But I don't mind sharks. If you want to know what really annoys me, it's them killer whales in the Antarctic that come a crowdin' and buttin' up against ye."

"It's an internal, monumental, epoch-making lie," cackled a voice behind him. Every one looked, and there was the old man.

The "pirate" was now thoroughly exasperated. If he couldn't tell a story without being interrupted in this manner life wasn't worth living. He announced that he would find the old man and thrash him. Owen and Hicks were annoyed, but they feared the result of the sailor's fury. They might all be arrested on arriving at Nassau. This would interfere with plans, and must not be thought of. To appease the wrathful "pirate" Owen offered to have the old man thrashed so soundly that he would probably be glad to stay out of sight the rest of the voyage.

There were some rascally looking men of Spanish blood among the second cabin passengers who, as Owen and Hicks observed, looked needy and unscrupulous.

The secretary found no great embarrassment in explaining that he wished the old man thrashed quietly and privately. The Spaniards agreed to beat him thoroughly for the trifling consideration of ten dollars. They would even throw him overboard for a very reasonable sum additional. But the bargain was struck at ten dollars for a moderate beating, and the foreigners were warned that as he was delicate they must be careful not to kill him.

During the next hour or two the old man passed the four treasure hunters in their steamer chairs, but each time the "pirate" ceased talking before he came within earshot.

At last the old man stopped in front of Pauline and gazed long at the "pirate." He studied the rascal's face, apparently trying to remember the identity of the man. Slowly the aged head nodded as if he was saying to himself. "Yes, he is the same man."

Then, turning to Pauline and shaking a warning finger, the old man delivered a surprising message.

Pauline was startled. The three men leaped to their feet. It was with the utmost difficulty that she was able to prevent violence.. Owen excused himself to hunt up his Spaniards and demand an explanation for their slowness. To his surprise they declared that they had tackled him and that he was as quick and powerful as a gorilla. He had thrashed them both and they were glad to escape with their lives.

The ex-secretary was incredulous, but they showed cuts and bruises and demanded their money, saying that a joke had been played on them. When Owen refused one of them drew a stiletto and the ten dollars was forthcoming.

Returning, ruefully, he related the failure of the Spaniards. The "pirate" at once said:

"Now, let me handle him."

A few moments later Boyd cornered his ancient adversary on a deserted and wind-swept piece of deck.

"Old man," snarled the "pirate," "you say all my stories are lies. Only your gray hairs have saved you from a thrashing before this."

"If it's my gray hairs that stop you, I'll remove that obstacle."

The "pirate" was amazed to see the aged person take off his hat and remove a gray wig with his left hand while his right fist collided with the "pirate's" eye. When consciousness returned he was lying on the deck with no living thing in sight but a seagull aeroplaning on slanted wings over his head. His return to the party was more rueful than Owen's.

"What is the matter with your eye, Mr. Boyd?" asked Pauline innocently.

"Why, you see," said the "pirate," "I was looking at a girl with one of these new slit skirts and I stumbled and bumped against a ventilator."

"I see," commented Owen to help him out. "You sort of slipped on a sex-appeal, so to speak."

"Yes," said the sailor, gratefully. "It was just like that."

"It's a lie," said a high, thin voice from somewhere, and they noticed that a porthole behind them was open.

Pauline found conversation difficult. Hicks, as a man of few words, which gave him an undeserved reputation for wisdom. The "pirate" had given up spinning yams on account of the old man's unfailing interruption. Owen's mind, too, was preoccupied with a growing suspicion. So the adventurous young lady went to her stateroom and wrote a letter to Harry.

The sailor intimated that he had important news which could be only told in the privacy of Owen's stateroom. The secretary suspected this to be only a maneuver on the "pirate's" part to get acquainted with the whiskey he knew Owen kept with him. But the seafarer unfolded the tale of his black eye not truthfully nor accurately, except in that he had recognized Harry under the disguise of the old man.

"I more than half suspected it," said Owen, "and I have been watching his stateroom. But there is no way any one can see into his room unless by getting a look in through the porthole."

"And there's where you get a good idea," said the "pirate."

"But there's no good having a peep' at him without his disguise now that it's Harry," objected Hicks.

"No," said the "pirate," turning on Owen his lusterless sea-green eyes, faded by much grog to a dimness that reminded one of the faint lights set in ships' decks and known as "dead-eyes." "No, but your porthole idea is just the scheme to get at him and get rid of him. I can slip down a rope tonight when all is quiet and the fool passengers are over on the other side looking at the bloody moon."

"And then what?" said Owen.

"I goes down the rope and shoots the old fool! I mean the young fool —through the porthole."

"Why, that's murder!" cried Owen. "We'd all swing for it."

"No, it ain't murder; it's suicide, 'cause I'll throw the gun in there where they'll find it when they break the door in, and everybody'll think he shot himself."

"It's practical," commented Hicks, but Owen protested. At last it was decided that a fourth man was necessary to do the shooting, and the "pirate" volunteered to produce him.

"There's an old shipmate o' mine down in the stoke hole working like a nigger. He'll be glad to do the trick for ten dollars, but we'll make it fifty because the poor fellow has a wife and children and needs the money. I'll go get him."

Owen and Hicks went on deck while Boyd descended to the fiery vitals of the steamer. It is not an easy matter to smuggle a grimy stoker from his furnace to the upper passenger decks, but the "pirate" managed it.

Meanwhile Harry was not losing time. He had taken a dictograph from his baggage, borrowed a few dry batteries and a coil of wire from the wireless operator. He carefully installed the instrument in his stateroom, and led the wires out under his door to the passageway. From there it was an easy task to carry them along the edge of the carpet to the door of Owen's stateroom. Arrived at the point, he was compelled to leave pliers, wire and the receiving instrument under a chair.

Like many another stateroom door, Owen's could not be locked easily from the outside, so when the three conspirators went out they left it unlocked. The old man slipped in a moment later and quickly placed the dictograph under the lower bunk.

Returning to his own room, the old man took up his instrument and listened. But he was not a very expert electrician and the dictograph for a long time failed to give anything but roars and crackling sounds, though he was convinced there were several persons talking. A last he got the thing adjusted in time to catch the last sentences of the conversation. He recognized the voice of the "pirate." It said:

"An then we lowers you down the rope to his porthole. You sticks your gun in and shoot the old fool. Don't forget to throw the gun in afterward, so they'll think he killed himself. See?"

"Sure, I got yer, matey," replied a strange voice.

After this the dictograph must have got out of order as nothing further came over the wire.

After closing the porthole Harry started to take off his disguise with a view of revealing himself and having Owen, Hicks and the "pirate" arrested. Then it occurred to him that he had not heard Owen or Hicks talking and very likely they were not in the room at all.

It was probably a crazy, drunken scheme of the old sailor whom he had tormented. Neither Owen nor Hicks had any suspicion, so far as he knew, that behind the whiskers and eyeglasses was Harry. Owen could have no object in shooting him.

"Can it be that I am jealous of this man Owen?" he wondered. "Polly has been taking his advice against mine lately. What can that mean?"

Peace reigned during the evening while the old liner plunged and rolled past wicked Cape Hatteras. While the passengers listened to the sad orchestra in the saloon Harry, still in his whiskered disguise, sent a wireless to a lawyer in New York requesting him to telegraph Pauline at Nassau something that would make her come home. Then he went back to his stateroom and locked the door.

As he stepped in he caught sight of the unbeautiful countenance of Mr. Boyd squinting wickedly at him from far down the passageway.

"Just for that evil grin of yours, Mr. Pirate," thought Harry, "I am not going to let you or your friend shoot me until after daylight." So Harry kept his porthole closed tight that night, sleeping rather restlessly without his accustomed ventilation.

Twice he heard a faint scraping sound on the outside of his cabin, and a dark shadow eclipsed the faint nimbus of light which the foggy night sent through his porthole. On the deck directly over his head three dark figures sat in deck chairs, while a fourth paced the deck, his cigar glowing like the tail lamp of a distant automobile.

The fog began to lift just before dawn, and the stoker, making another trip down his rope, found the porthole open. A hasty inspection of the decks indicated that it was safe to go ahead.

Owen, Hicks and the "pirate" quickly lowered the stoker, sitting in a little swing known on the sea as a "bo'sun's chair." In his hand he carried a pistol which Hicks had provided. Each of the three conspirators had revolvers, but the racetrack man's weapon was chosen because he had obtained it from a source to which it could not be traced. Down went the stoker, his bare feet clinging to the gently swaying side of the ship.

The porthole was open, and there in the dim interior of the cabin the light was reflected from a pair of spectacles. There, too, were the whiskers and gray hair. The old man seemed to be asleep in his chair right near the porthole. The stoker cocked his revolver and held it ready for instant action.

The steamer's fog horn blew a blast at the fast thinning fog. This noise was just what the stoker wanted. He quickly plunged his pistol into the porthole and fired it point blank in the very face of the old man. There could be no question of missing. He looked up at the three eager faces and nodded that all was well.

"I've got him," he called out, and was about to hurl the pistol into the stateroom when an unpleasant and unexpected thing happened. A brawny fist shot out of the porthole and collided with the stoker's coal-blackened jaw.

More from surprise than the force of the blow, the stoker fell backward into the sea. The three watchers on deck saw the proceeding, and only one, the "pirate," had presence of mind to hurl a lifebuoy. No alarm was sounded. The steamer went on into the sparkling morning sea, leaving behind her a profane and disgusted stoker. This unfortunate had only a lifebuoy to aid him on a fifteen-mile swim to shore.

"Never mind," said the "pirate" after the conspirators had gotten over their first fright at the dashing of their plans. "I have an idea; it's a corking idea, and you'll all like it."

"What is it?" asked Owen nervously. "Here is your drink now; what's your idea?"

But the "pirate" wouldn't tell. He objected that it was too startling for them to carry in their timid brains. He would unfold it when the time came, and he promised them that it would be the greatest and most daring project they had ever heard. A murderous glare lit up the faded eyes and he chuckled to himself, but no offers nor threats would induce him to part with his secret.



CHAPTER VII

A FLIRTY BUCCANEER

Arrived at Nassua, the party proceeded to the King Edward House, where Pauline found a telegram from Philip Carpenter, the lawyer, advising her to return as soon as possible to attend the signing of certain important papers. On account of the message all hands made haste to hunt for a small steamer or launch to complete the trip.

Though none of the four saw him, the old man was at the hotel. He lost no time in assuming another and very different disguise, observing to himself that the most valuable part of his college education might prove to be the secrets of "make up" he had learned in his college dramatic club.

Owen, with his usual forethought, had arranged in advance to be put in touch at once with all available boats. As a result a gasoline launch, with a cabin and stateroom, about 100 feet long, which had once been a yacht, was chartered. The "pirate's" stipulation that no stranger should see his island made it necessary for Pauline to deposit a check for $2,500 for its safe return.

The next morning provisions were brought aboard, the "pirate" declaring that he could run the engine, and all was ready when a difficulty arose. Who was to cook? Pauline volunteered, but Owen objected, and finally the "pirate's" objections to a stranger were overcome.

A dark-skinned half-breed, with long, black hair, who had earned half a dollar by helping carry things on board, volunteered in a gruff voice.

"I'se fine cook. Best cook on the island. I cook very cheap."

Time was too valuable to investigate the man's ability, so he was hired. Off went the white launch. Owen steering under instructions from the "pirate," who soon proved he knew gasoline engines. Out of the harbor they went, and then coasted along the beautiful shores of the island. The sea was calm and the cruise uneventful for some time, when the "pirate" called every one's attention to the fact that it was a long time since breakfast. He went below and addressed the cook, who had shut himself up in his tiny galley, as sailors call a boat's kitchen.

"What's your name?" demanded Boyd.

"Filipo."

"Are you a nigger?"

"I guess so; I dunno."

"Well, what were your father and mother?"

"I dunno."

"That's funny; but what I want to know is how soon grub will be ready?"

"Right away, senor."

"All right, Filipo; see that there is plenty of it."

"Dod foul my hawser, if this ain't what yer might call pleasant," declared the "pirate," showing his few teeth in a smile that reminded Pauline of the spiles of an abandoned pier.

Pauline was pacing the deck apart from the others, in a pleasant dreaminess scanning the endless azure of the hashed waters. Her thoughts roamed forward and backward—forward to the vague magic land of adventure, where she was to win treasure and delight, fortune and fame; backward to a big, lovely, splendid house in New York City, where a certain tall young man, with brown, unruly hair and shoulders broad as a sheltering wall, must be pining for her.

Some one began whistling in the cabin. Pauline paid no attention to it at first, but as the tune suddenly shifted to the very latest musical comedy air she became interested. Owen never whistled, and Hicks, she imagined, seldom went to the theatres.

The song shifted from whistle to words:

"I'm a greatly wicked person. If there's anybody worse on This terrestrial circumference of guile (Though I very broadly doubt it) I should like to know about it, For I want to be the blackest thing on file.

"I'm a bad-mad-man, my dear, I'm a liar and a flyer and flirty buccaneer. I've done everything that's awful that a human being can. I'm a bad—ma-a-d man."

"The song from 'Polly Peek-a-boo.' Harry and I heard it only two weeks ago," mused Pauline.

Moved by a sudden whimsy, she entered the cabin. There was no one there but the cook. In his dingy linen suit he was standing at the table peeling potatoes and whistling. He stopped as Pauline entered, a tall powerful man, though of slouching posture, he bowed deferentially.

"No like me sing—no sing," he suggested.

"On the contrary, I like it very much. You sing very well indeed, Filipo. Would you mind telling me where you heard the song you were just singing?"

"Big American man, up Nassau—he sing'um. Very fine man—big fool daughter," replied Filipo.

"You speak very good English when you sing," remarked Pauline. "Why don't you do it all the time?"

The cook hesitated.

"Speak good English all time—bad English when sing!"

Pauline began to scrutinize half suspiciously this remarkable menial, but he kept stolidly at work at the potatoes, and his dark skin, his scraggly beard, his bagging trousers upturned over bare feet, his general dilapidation of appearance, proved him nothing but one of the common derelicts of the languid islands.

"If you could peel potatoes instead of butchering them, there would be a little more to eat in case we run out of supplies, Filipo," suggested Pauline.

He turned on her a frank American grin. For an instant the twinkle in the keen blue eyes upset her.

It was so, like the twinkle in a pair of keen blue eyes that were supposed to be figuratively weeping for her fate in far-off New York. But instantly he changed his attitude.

"No like cook—cook quit," he grumbled.

"'Oh, no, indeed, Filipo, you must not be offended. I was just speaking to Mr. Owen this morning about raising your salary."

A thick voice came to them from the cabin door.

"I begs to report, Miss," said Blinky Boyd, the pirate, reeling in, "that there be mut'ny in yer crew. Mr. Hicks and Mr. Owen, Miss, has rebelled against me authority and has refused me drink."

"That is an outrage, Mr. Boyd. They do not realize how your nerve-racking adventures have shattered your strength. I will attend to it myself," said Pauline sympathetically. "Filipo, give Mr. Boyd a drink."

"Drink? Yes, meem," replied Filipo, with such unwonted alacrity that Pauline turned in surprise.

She saw the slouching figure of the cook suddenly stiffen to his full stalwart height. She saw an ill clad, but majestic giant stride toward the pirate, bowl him over with a gentle tap, pinion his arms and legs in a lifting grasp and carry him toward the door of the cabin.

Cries of rage came stuffily from the thick throat of Boyd.

"Lemme go, ye scum, lemme go," he yelled.

"Filipo! Filipo! Stop this instant! How dare you treat Mr. Boyd in such a manner?" cried the indignant girl.

"You say, 'Give—him drink.' He say, 'Lemme go," answered Filipo, pausing with his squirming burden.

"Drink! Ye fool, drink! She is felling ye ter gimme a drink," screamed the hero of desperate encounters.

"Big, fat drink," agreed the cook, as he strode toward the rail.

Pauline rushed upon him. The peril of her precious pirate stirred all her courage. She saw her dreams vanishing—the chief narrator, navigator and guide of the treasure voyage suspended in two strong arms over the blue deep. Forgetting that he was accustomed to conquer twenty men single handed, she felt only pity for his plight. Her soft but determined hand gripped the cook's.

"Filipo, obey my orders!" she commanded.

"Yes, Mem. Let 'um go. Give 'um drink. Big liar need big drink."

He lifted the struggling but utterly helpless form of the pirate over his shoulders, then, with a sudden stooping movement, he made as if to plunge it into the sea.

"Help! Help!" cried Pauline, running up the deck.

Hicks and Owen rushed from their staterooms. Blinky Boyd was quivering, gasping beside the rail. They found a slouching, uncommunicative cook stolidly washing dishes in the galley.

Some hours later while Boyd was sleeping off his potations and Hicks and Owen were deep in conference on deck, Pauline slipped down into the galley ostensibly to explain the rudiments of the culinary art to the cook.

"The trouble is you have no respect for a potato, Filipo. You slash the poor thing to pieces, and then you boil it only long enough to hurt its feelings."

"Peel potato nice, good," he apologized. "Then peel 'um pirate. Filipo want to peel pirate; boil him just half-hurt him feelings. That's how."

"Oh, I see. But I think you do Mr. Boyd a great injustice, Filipo. He has consented to come all the way from New York with us and take command of our boat and find the buried treasure, and—"

"Buried potatoes," snapped Filipo with a sudden reversion to his unimpaired English.

"Well, at least you understand about tomorrow's breakfast now, don't you?"

"Yes, mem. Boil 'um eggs to death; no peel 'um."

"No, no, no, Filipo—boil them two minutes and a half. Here, take my watch and go by that. You must be very careful of it, Filipo."

"Yes, mem; boil 'um long time; stick fork in, see when soft."

"No!"

Pauline caught the watch from him. "You don't boil the watch at all, Filipo. You boil the eggs and watch the watch. Can you tell time, Filipo?"

"Yes, Mem."

"How long is an hour? Peel potatoes—hour is ver' ver' long. Talk to ship's lady—whist!—hour is no time," answered Filipo with upcast hands.

Again she eyed him through her long lashes a little askance. He was rather subtle, this half-breed cook, for one who could not even boil an egg.

"I will let you have the watch, Filipo," she said gravely, "but you must give it back to me. It is one of the most precious things I have. It was given to me by—Filipo, were you ever in love with a girl?"

"Su-u-ure, mem!" replied the cook with sudden enthusiasm. "Love daughter big American—no love me. Big American daughter start from Nassau—get buried treasure—not!"

"Filipo, where do you get all your New York slang?"

"Big American daughter, she sling slang-good," said Filipo.

"Why did you fall in love with her?"

"Nice girl—no eat much, no scold cook, no talk about potatoes— just big fool 'bout buried treasure."

"What do you think love is?"

"Love-huh!" grunted the cook. "I like girl; girl no like me. Chase all 'round world—no good."

"That watch was given to me by the man I love, Filipo," said Pauline. "You won't-boil it—or anything, will you?"

As Filipo took the tiny diamond-scarred timepiece from Pauline's hand there was a sound as of some one choking at the top of the steps.

The cook sprang to the deck, but there was no one in sight. He returned to Pauline, while Blinky Boyd, gasping more from astonishment than fear, reeled up to Owen and Hicks on the forward deck.

"She's gone clean crazy," he panted. "She treats that there cook as if he was a nat'ral human man instid of a sea-rovin' gorilla, worse'n the one I beat In Afriky."

"No more gorillas for a while, Blinky," commanded Hicks. "What's happened now?"

"She's gone an' guv him her jooled watch to boil eggs by," said the pirate.

"By George, we will have to do something with that fellow," muttered Hicks to Owen as they walked away.

"Do suthin' to him!" Blinky Boyd was fuming in the wake of Owen and Hicks on their stroll up deck. "Do everythin' to him; make 'im walk the old board; draw'n quarter 'im. Didn't he attempt me life an' ain't he at present engaged in stealin' the fambly jewels?"

"Well, have you got any ideas?" asked Owen.

"The first thing," whispered Blinky, "is to git him under the in-floo-ence of licker. They never was no cook could stand up agin' the disgraceful habit o' takin' too much and doin' too little. Get 'im under the in-floo-ence."

"And then what?"

"Then—well, ain't they a lot o' good blue water floatin' around atop the fishes? Ain't they some accommodatin' sharks swimmin' atop the water?"

"That's a bit crude—just to throw a man overboard for nothing," said Owen, willing to arouse Boyd's anger.

"Fer nothin'? Didn't he insult the master o' this ship. Ain't he tried to starve us to death? Fer wot kind o' nothin', says I." Boyd smote his caving chest in emphasis of his accusations.

"And he would have the diamond watch on him in case he should be picked up," suggested Hicks quietly.

"That's so," said Owen. "He would have been swimming to shore with the stolen watch and drowned."

"But, of course, he would swim to shore, unless—well, it's a case of making sure beforehand. We could persuade him to go in and try to kill Blinky here while Blinky's asleep—then rush in and finish him. Even Pauline was a witness to the attack he made on Blinky this afternoon."

The pirate's glowing countenance suddenly, went white.

"Not this trip," he said fervently. "I ain't goin' to kill no man in a trap like that. I'm goin' to see it done fair and square in the open —with plenty o' drink in 'im an' 'is conscience clear. I wouldn't see no man die with murder in 'is heart fer me."

"I don't like it," said Owen nervously. "I don't like the idea of doing too much. We've got one big piece of work to do that concerns her." He nodded in the direction of the cabin. "Dye mean to say we can't get a poor half-breed cook off this boat without killing him? Why not discharge him?"

Hicks uttered a grim chuckle. "I must say I never thought of that. Get a boat manned, will you, Boyd, and we'll put him ashore within half an hour."

"All hands for'ard," bellowed the pirate's voice. The "all hands" were Owen, Hicks, the pirate and Pauline.

"Why all hands? Can't you handle the cook yourself?" said Owen.

"Not to put that cook ashore—ye need a navy," said Boyd.

Backed by Owen and Hicks, he moved to the cabin.

"You, cook, there—ye're fired. Get off the boat. Yer kerriage waits," he cried down at the busy Filipo.

Filipo shuffled almost meekly toward the speaker. He saw the skiff alongside and Hicks and Owen nearby.

"Grab 'im," ordered the pirate. "Here's the irons." He produced a pair of rusty handcuffs that had been brought along, among other ominous-looking junk, to impress Pauline.

But Filipo was not "fired" yet. With a sudden long-distance lunge he knocked down the pirate, who, thought he was at a safe distance. But Hicks, who had been well schooled in street-fight tactics, thoughtfully stuck out a leg and tripped the cook, who fell upon the groaning Boyd. Boyd, though down, was by no means "out," and held Filipo tight while Owen and Hicks slipped on the handcuffs.

"Now to the boat with 'im an' dump 'im ashore wherever It looks hottest an' hungriest."

"Yah," he snarled in the face of the prostrate cook, "ye don't interfere no more with the capting of this here vessel. I hopes ye—"

But his sentence was cut short, or rather it ended in a shriek of pain and fright, as the cook, suddenly swinging himself from his shoulders, landed a terrifically propelled right foot in the pirate's middle.

He was pinned down again the next moment, but Boyd's yell had penetrated to the cabin.

"What is the matter—who is hurt?" cried Pauline, rushing to the group on deck.

"We have had to order this fellow put ashore. He has twice attacked Boyd, and besides he is useless as a cook," explained Owen.

"You will assuredly do nothing of the sort," announced Pauline. "You will take those horrid iron things right off and set him free."

"But, my dear Miss Marvin, he is a desperate man. It is dangerous."

"What did we come here for but to get into danger?" cried Pauline. "Besides, Filipo is the most interesting person on the ship. I have just devoted a chapter to him in my book, and if you think I'm going to spoil my book because Mr. Boyd gets hurt, or the potatoes aren't done, you're much mistaken."

Owen obediently knelt and unlocked the clumsy handcuffs.

"You are free, Filipo," said Pauline with the air of a proud princess releasing a serf.

"No fired?" grunted Filipo. "Too bad. Bum job."

"Now go back to the kitchen, and promise not to strike Mr. Boyd any more."

"No hit 'um. Boil 'um. Three minutes; stick fork in hum," said the cook with a cannibal glare at the still writhing pirate.

He shuffled off to his pots and pans. Blinky scrambled to his bunk, and Pauline retired to elaborate the fascinating character of Filipo in another chapter of her book of adventure.

She did not realize how late it was when at last she put down her pen and moved with soft, slippered steps to the door of the cabin.

Over the great vault of the heavens the stars were sprinkled like silver dust. The boat rolled softly, dreamily on the listless waters. A cool breeze scented with the fragrance of the spicy land cooled her brow. She realized that her little stateroom had been very stuffy. It was beautiful here in the hushed night alone. She moved out on deck.

They had come to anchor for the night off St. Andrew, and the few faint lights of the town tinged the scene with life.

Pauline was thinking of Harry. It would have been nice if he were here now, in the moonlight just for this evening. Of course if he were a regular member of the party, he would spoil the trip by his grumpiness, and probably prevent them from finding any treasure at all. But Harry was a good companion—usually, and Pauline was getting a little tired of the company on the yacht.

The night was so still that even her light footstep could be heard on the deck. And she was surprised to hear a muffled hail from some invisible craft astern.

As she moved to the rail—her tall form in the yachting suit standing out plainly in the moonlight—she saw a small boat scurry away. She thought she recognized their own small boat—the one the yacht towed —and she quickly made sure that this was true.

Pauline turned toward the cabin to rouse the others for a real pirate chase, when she was silenced and stunned by the sight of Filipo, the cook, staggering out of the galley, with his bearded chin drooping on his breast, his knees swaying under him, his arms weaving cubist caricatures in the air and his voice raised in unintelligible song.

He was quickly followed by the Pirate, who, to Pauline's amazement, actually presented a picture of sobriety in contrast to Filipo.

But on seeing her, Boyd looked frightened.

"They have stolen the skiff," cried Pauline.

"No, Miss," said Boyd; "they was four of 'em come aboard in one boat, an' we let 'em take ourn ashore to bring a double load o' supplies."

Pauline was grievously disappointed. She turned her wrath upon the musical and meandering Filipo.

"Filipo!" she demanded. "Go to bed at once."

For answer he reeled toward her.

"Cook boiled—boiled three minute," he said.

Then with a lurch he fell sprawling at her feet.

Boyd had started back to the cabin in haste and excitement. Pauline's first instinct was to leave the inebriated man, but pity mastered her and she stooped to lift him.

He sprang to his feet without her aid. His blue eyes looked clearly into hers. His body towered again to its commanding height as it had done when he was about to finish the Pirate.

He stooped and spoke rapidly, sharply in her ear. There was no pigeon chatter. It was straight English.

But as the door of the cabin opened again and Boyd came out, the tall form sank into itself, the knees began to rock, the arms to weave and, staggering back up the deck, he disappeared in the cabin.

Pauline stood stupefied. She had been so startled by the sudden transformation of the man that she had hardly understood his strident words.

Only one thing she could remember. He had commanded her to go to bed and bar her door. She obeyed but she could not sleep at first. It seemed that hours had passed when a sound outside her door brought her to her feet.

She moved to the door and softly opened it. Across the threshold lay Filipo, wide awake.

"Go to bed," he said. Again she obeyed and this time she slept.

The next morning everything seemed outwardly as usual, the skiff had been restored to its place astern. The Pirate was intoxicated; the cook sober. But there was the threat of trouble in the air, Pauline felt it in the attitude of all the men, even of Owen and Hicks.

The Pirate showed a strange new tendency to make friends with Filipo.

"Can you steer, cook?" he asked after the latter had announced that dinner was ready.

"Yes," said Filipo.

"All right, take the wheel and keep her as she's going till we round that point ahead there."

Filipo took the wheel and the others descended to find the cabin table set. There was a prodigious amount of fried steak and boiled potatoes as the main part of the meal. To their dismay they found the steak was as tough as leather. A wail of sorrow arose when the potatoes proved to be so hard that Pauline doubted if they had been boiled more than three minutes.

The "Pirate," whose table manners savored of the forecastle, tried a biscuit and found it as hard as stone and almost as heavy. In his anger he hurled it at the side of the cabin and was horrified to see it go through the boat's side. He did not know that the biscuit happened to strike a hole that had been temporarily stopped up with putty and paint. He turned speechless to the others and saw Hicks lift a biscuit on high about to dash it onto the cabin floor.

With instant presence of mind he seized the arm of Hicks, and in a hoarse voice shouted:

"Don't do that, you'll sink the ship. Look what mine did."

They all gazed in amazement at the ragged aperture in the side of the cabin through which the sparkling waters of the Atlantic could be seen dancing past.

Events moved swiftly that afternoon. Owen, peering in the galley porthole beheld the disguised cook remove his wig to wash his face and recognized the curly light hair of Harry. About four o'clock the launch tied up to the landing at the small village of St. Andrew. There Owen had opportunity to reveal his discovery of Harry's presence to the other two conspirators. They were frightened at first but soon agreed that it was a fine chance to get rid of both at the same time.

The pirate confided to them that he had brought a clock-work bomb along and had it in his bag. A few minutes' discussion produced a simple plan.

Owen sent the disguised Harry with a bucket, in search of a spring and Pauline was already hunting strange flowers among the palms and creepers. This left the conspirators free to place the bomb under the cabin floor boards, a matter which Owen attended to himself. It was set to explode two hours later. Pauline and Filipo were then summoned and told that there were comfortable lodgings and a good meal obtainable at a village just the other side of the long narrow point of land. If Pauline and Boyd and Filipo would go around in the launch Owen and Hicks would climb through the jungle and get there in time to have a meal already upon the boat's arrival. The two parties separated and all was quiet for some time. Pauline sat on deck with the pirate endeavoring to engage him in conversation. But he grew surlier and surlier in his answers, looking frequently at his watch and often stopping below for a drink.

After about an hour and three-quarter, Pauline became a little frightened at his behavior and descended to the cabin. There was the cook reading a cook book, evidently his own. The moment Pauline was out of sight the pirate heaved a sigh of relief and abandoned the wheel. Stepping softly to the stern he pulled in the small boat which was towing astern, leaped in adroitly and cut it adrift.

"Filipo," said Pauline, "you told us you were a good cook."

"Yes, senorita, I thought I was."

"Have you ever cooked before?"

"No, but I have a cook book which tells you how every one may be a cook. I thought—"

Filipo, did not finish his sentence. His eyes were roving around the cabin in search of something and Pauline was looking very hard at him.

"What's that ticking sound?" inquired the cook. He went to the cabin clock and listened. No, it wasn't that. Pauline could hear it, too, and it wasn't her tiny watch. Filipo made a search of the cabin and finally located the sound under the floor. A moment more and he had laid bare the pirate's bomb. He leaped on deck and took in at a glance that the pirate had left in the only boat.

In another instant he was below again, tearing off his wig.

"Polly, it's I. There's an infernal machine ticking here ready to blow us up."

He tried to lift up the bomb, but it was wedged fast.

"Harry, for Heaven sake, what do you mean?"

"I'll tell you in a minute in the water as soon as we have jumped overboard. Come."

He seized Pauline, carried her up on deck.

"Where's Mr. Boyd?"

"Gone. Take this," answered Harry, putting a life preserver around her.

"Now, will you jump or shall I throw you overboard? One, two, three."

"I'll jump," said Pauline and with arms around each other they leaped into the warm ocean. On went the white launch serene and unruffled by the desertion of its crew. In answer to Pauline's demand for explanation Harry only answered:

"Wait."

Finally it came.

A belch of flame shot up from the launch driving a column of smoke far into the sky, where it spread out and formed a majestic ring, which floated and curled for many moments. A concussion reached them through the water and another in the air smote their ears.

The after part of the launch rode on the waters for a moment and then disappeared. Finally a succession of waves tossed them and passed on.

"What does it mean?" gasped the girl.

"Insanity—sheer, downright insanity. That wretch of a 'pirate' was a crazy man.

"He placed that bomb, intending to kill all of us. And Owen deserves a sound thrashing for having anything to do with such a murderous lunatic."

"I think you're rather hard on Owen, Harry," said Pauline. "Of course, we all know that pirates aren't nice persons—but nobody could foresee that the man was crazy."

"Well, perhaps. But don't talk, we have a mile and a half swim to shore."

They were spared that ordeal by the Silurian liner Caradoc. Arrayed in borrowed clothes they were notified of a second rescue and came out on deck in time to behold in the dusk of evening the "pirate." He was relating to an admiring throng how he had stuck by the burning ship till it exploded. He had actually been blown into the air and had fallen by good luck into the little boat.

"It's a lie," said Harry in the old man's cackling voice. The "pirate" heard the voice of the old man and saw the face and the blond hair of Harry.

It was too much for his evil and murderous mind to bear. With a shriek he hurled himself over the rail into the sea. The Caradoc stopped and searched, but no trace of the "pirate" could be found.



CHAPTER VIII

THE COURTELYOU RECEPTION

Two weeks later Pauline and Harry were sitting in the library. Through the half-closed blinds a soft breeze bore to them the fragrance of carnations and roses.

For the first few days after their return Pauline was so thankful they had not lost their lives that she was reconciled to not having found the treasure. But only for the first few days. She was already growing restless.

"You're wasting time, Harry," she said impatiently. "I'd rather face anything than be bored to death."

"Polly, it's got to stop; it isn't safe, it isn't sensible, it isn't even fun any more. Won't you drop the whole freakish thing and marry me?"

Harry was holding Pauline by the hand as she drew her dainty way out of the library. In laughing rebellion she looked over her shoulder and jeered at him.

"Oh, I thought it was I who was going to be afraid," she said.

"Well, if you aren't, who is going to be?"

"You," she tittered.

He drew her back with a gentle but firm grasp.

"Honestly, Polly, aren't you satisfied yet? Adventure is all right for breakfast or for luncheon once a month, but as a regular unremitting diet it gets on my nerves."

"Still thinking of your own perils?" she volleyed.

Harry's fine keen face took on a look of earnest appeal. He let go her hand, but as she started to run up the stairs he held her with his eyes.

"You dear, silly boy," she cried, returning a step and clasping him in an impetuous embrace. "You are the nicest brother in all the world— sometimes—but just now I think that adventure is nicer than brothers —or husbands. I'm having the time of my life, Harry boy, and I'm going on and on, and on with it until I've seen all the wild and wicked people and places in the world."

Harry caught her hand and smiled down at her in surrender.

A ring at the door bell and the entrance of the maid caused Pauline to flutter up the stairs. They were preparing to attend the Courtelyou's reception that evening to the great Baskinelli, whose musical achievements had been equaled only by his social successes during this, his first New York season.

"Anyway," she twinkled from the top of the stairs, "you needn't be frightened for tonight. Nothing so meek and mild as a pianist can hurt you."

Harry tossed up his hands in mimic despair and started back to the library.

"Yes, I know she is always at home to you, Miss Hamlin," the maid was saying at the door.

"What a privileged person I am," laughed Lucille Hamlin.

She was Pauline's chum-in-chief, a dark, still tempered girl, in perfect contrast to the adventurous Polly. She greeted Harry with the easy grace of old acquaintanceship.

"Still nursing the precious broken heart?" she queried.

"For the love of Michael, me and humanity," he pleaded, "can't you do something? She won't listen to me. I'm honestly, deucedly worried, Lucille."

"You know very well that nobody could ever do anything with Polly. She always had to have her own way—and that's why you love her, though you don't know it, Harry. Shall I run upstairs, Margaret?" she added, turning to the maid.

"No, you're going to stay here," commanded Harry, seizing her hands. "You've got to do something with Pauline. You're the only one who can. She wants a new adventure every day, and a more dangerous one every time. Talk to her, won't you? Tell her it isn't right for her to risk her life when her life is so precious to so many people. No, wait a minute; sit down here. I'm not half through yet."

He drew her, under laughing protest, to a seat beside him on the stairs. She realized suddenly how serious he was. She let her hand rest comradely in his pleading grasp.

"Why, Harry, yes, if it is really dangerous, you know, I'll do anything I can," she said gravely.

They did not see the cold gray face of Raymond Owen appear at the top of the stairs. The face vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

In her boudoir Polly was laying out her finery of the evening. There came a soft rap at the door.

"Come in," she called, and looked up brightly in Owen's furtive eyes as he opened the door and motioned to her.

"Don't say anything, please, Miss Marvin," he whispered, "just come with me for a moment."

Bewildered by his manner, she followed to the top of the stairs. He directed her gaze to the two young people in earnest conversation below.

It was a picture that might well have startled a less impetuous heart than Pauline's. Harry's hand still clasped Lucille's, and he was leaning toward her in the eagerness of his appeal.

"You, will? You promise? Lucille, you've made me happy," Pauline heard him say.

Through mist-dimmed eyes, dizzily, she saw the two arise. She saw the man she loved clasp Lucille's other hand. She saw the girl who had been her friend and confidante since childhood draw herself away from him with a lingering withdrawal that could mean—ah, what could it not mean? Polly fled to her room.

In Owen's subtle secret battle to retain control of the Marvin millions fate had never so befriended him. None of all the weapons or ruses that he had used to prevent the faithful attachment of Harry and Pauline was as potent as this little seed of jealousy.

Pauline rang for her maid.

"Tell Miss Hamlin that I am not at home," she said in a voice that started haughtily but ended in a sob.

"But, Miss Marvin—" Margaret tried to demur.

"Tell Miss Hamlin that I am not at home," repeated Pauline.

Lucille had just started up the stairs, leaving Harry with a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.

"Well, even if I caret do anything with that wild woman," she laughed back at him, "you know Pauline bears a charmed life. Nothing has ever happened to her yet. Guardian angels surround her—as well as heroes."

Harry walked into the library. The agitated Margaret met Lucille on the stairs.

"Miss Marvin is—Miss Marvin is not at home," the girl said, flushing crimson.

Lucille paused, dumfounded.

"But, Margaret, you know I thought—I really thought she was, at home, Miss Hamlin. I hope you won't be offended with me."

"I insist upon seeing her," cried Lucille. "I don't believe you are telling me the truth. I'm going right up to her room."

Margaret burst into tears.

Lucille quickly reconsidered. Indignation took the place of astonishment. She hurried down the stairs and rushed through the door without waiting for Margaret to open it.

Pauline, back in her own room, vented her first rage in tears. With her hot face pressed against the pillow, she sobbed out the agony of what she thought her betrayal—her double betrayal, by courtier and comrade at once. But the tears passed. Too vital was the spirit in her, too red flowing in her veins was the blood of fighting ancestors, too strong the fortress of self-command within the blossoming gardens of her youth and beauty for the word surrender ever to come to her mind.

True, she had found an adventure that stirred her more deeply than the peril of land or sea or sky could have done. Here was a thrill that had never been listed among her intended tremors. She sent for Owen.

Masked as ever in his suave exterior and his manner of mingled obsequiousness and fatherliness, he came instantly.

"Mr. Owen, have you known—have you known that this was going on?"

"I feel that it is my duty to know what concerns you—even what concerns your happiness, Miss Marvin," he answered.

"You mean?"

"I mean that I have long had my suspicions."

But again the very perfection of his deceit brought Pauline that feeling that she had had since childhood that sense of an insidious influence always surrounding her, always menacing and yet never revealed. This influence, which Owen seemed to embody, was the antagonist of that other mysterious power, so real and yet so inexplicable, that warded and protected her—the spirit of the girl that had stepped from the mummy.

But Pauline had seen with her own eyes; she did not need any word of Owen's to convince her of the falsity of her lover.

She was quite calm now. She dressed with the utmost care. Margaret, who had seen her in such anger only a short time before, was surprised at her sprightliness and graciousness. A slightly heightened color that only added to the luster of her loveliness, was the single sign of her inward thoughts. She summoned her own car and left the house alone.

The drawing room of the Clarence Courtelyou mansion was ablaze with light. There was a little too much light. The Clarence Courtelyou always had a little too much of everything.

There was a little too much money; there was a little too much gold leaf decoration in the drawing room, a little too much diamond decoration of Mrs. Courtelyou, and, if you were so fastidiously impolite as to say so, a little too much of Mrs. Courtelyou herself.

But Mrs. Courtelyou was struggling toward gentility in such an amiable way that better people liked her. The motherliness and sweet sincerity of her—the fact that she loved her frankly illiterate husband and worshipped, almost from afar, her cultured daughters was the thing that brought her down from the base height of the "climbers" and lifted her kindly, harmless personality to the high simplicities of the elite.

She made the natural mistake that other wealthy mendicants at the outer portals of society have made the mistake of pounding at the gates. Instead of letting the splendor of her charitable gifts, the gracefulness of her simplicity, carry her through, she went in for the gorgeous and the costly.

As a sort of crowning glory she began to "take up" artists and actors and musicians. She gained the good graces of the best of them, and in her kindly innocence she won the worship of the worst.

It was thus that she came to the point of holding a reception for Baskinelli.

Not that any one had heard anything black, or even shadowy, against Baskinelli. He had arrived recently from abroad, his foreign fame preceding him, his prospective conquests of America fulsomely foretold, his low brow decorated in advance with laurel.

Mrs. Courtelyou added him to her collection with the swiftness and directness of the entomologist discovering a new bug. She herself loved music—without understanding it very deeply—and Baskinelli, whatever might be his other gifts, could summon all the cadences of love from the machines that people call a piano—engine of torture or instrument of joy.

For half an hour Harry paced at the foot of the stairs.

"I wonder if she's ever coming," he fumed to himself. "It takes 'em so long to do it that they drive you crazy, and when it's done they're so wonderful that they drive you crazy."

"Did you—did you wish anything, sir?" asked the butler, entering.

"No—just waiting for Miss Pauline, Jenkins—just waiting," sighed Harry.

"Why—if I may presume to tell you, sir—Miss, Marvin has gone to the reception," said Jenkins.

"Gone!" Harry cried abruptly, hotly, then remembered that he was speaking to a servant and swung into the reception room.

He put on his hat and coat and rang for Jenkins again.

"How long ago was it that Miss Pauline went out?"

"Almost an hour ago, sir."

Harry slammed his way out of the door. It was not until he was in the car on his way to the Courtelyous that he began to think—began to think with utterly wrong deductions, as lovers always do.

"I must have said too much," he told himself. "She's crazy about these wild pranks and she thinks I'm a stupid goody-goody. What a fool I was to try to prevent her!"

"You aren't very nice, Mr. Marvin, to snub my pet musician—my very newest pet musician," Mrs. Courtelyou rebuked him, as he entered.

"I didn't mean it. I was waiting for—why, my car went to pieces," he explained. "Is Pauline here?"

"Here? She is the only person present. Baskinelli hasn't spoken a word to any one else. He won't play anything unless she suggests the subject. I am glad Mr. Owen is here to protect her."

From the scintillant, filmy mist of women around the piano Lucille emerged. She came swiftly to Harry's side.

"What is the matter?" she asked.

"What is? Tell me." he replied. "What did you say to her?"

"I didn't see her, Harry. She sent word that she was not at home."

"You don't mean—not after you started upstairs."

"Yes—and she hasn't spoken to me all evening."

"And she left me waiting at home for half an hour. It's outrageous."

Harry strode across the floor just as the music ceased, and Baskinelli arose, bowing to the applause of his feminine admirers.

"May I ask the honor to show to you Madame Courtelyou's portrait of myself? It is called 'The Glorification of Imbecility,'" he said as he proffered his arm to Pauline.

He was a small man, with sharp features shadowed by a mass of flowing, curling hair—the kind of hair that has come to be called "musical" by the irreverent. The sweep of an abnormal brow gave emphasis to the sudden jut of deep eye sockets, and a dull, sallow skin gave emphasis to the subtle sinister light, of the eyes themselves.

Pauline accepted the proffered arm of the artist, but daintily, laughingly, she turned him back to the piano.

"You haven't yet escaped, Signor Baskinelli," she said. "We have not yet heard 'Tivoli,' you know."

"Tivoli," he cried, with hands upraised in mock disdain. "Why, I wrote the thing myself. Am I to violate even my own masterpieces?"

There was a twitter of mocking protest from the women. Baskinelli began to play again.

"Pauline, may I speak to you—just a moment?" Harry's vexed voice reached her ear as she stood beside the piano. She turned slowly and looked into his bewildered, angry eyes.

"A little later—possibly," she answered, and instantly turned back to Baskinelli.

From her no mask of music, no glamour of others' admiration could hide the predatory obsequiousness of Baskinelli. She was not in the least interested in Baskinelli. She had loathed him from the moment when she had looked down on his little oily curls. But if Baskinelli had been Beelzebub he would have enjoyed the favor of Pauline that evening—at least, after Harry had arrived.

The glowing piquant beauty of Pauline enthralled Baskinelli. He had never before seen a woman like her—innocent but astute, daring but demure, brilliant but opalescent. When at last they strolled away together into the conservatory his drawing room obeisances became direct declarations of love.

Pauline began to be frightened.

She fluttered to the door of the conservatory. But there she paused. Voices sounded from the end of a little rose-rimmed alley. They were the voices of Harry and Lucille.

Baskinelli was at her side again.

"If I have said anything—done anything to offend," he said, with affected contrition, "you will let me make my lowliest apologies, won't you?"

Pauline hardly heard him. She was intently listening to the low pitched voices.

"I—I think I will run back to the others," she cried suddenly. Baskinelli was left alone.

"I congratulate you, Signor, on the success of the evening," said a voice at his shoulder. "There are few among the famous who can conquer drawing rooms as well as auditoriums."

The musician turned to face the ingratiating smile of Raymond Owen.

"I thank you—I thank you, sir. But I do not believe you. My 'conquest' has turned to catastrophe. I have lost everything."

"You mean that you are dissatisfied with the applause?" asked Owen.

"No! No! Applause is nothing from the many. There is always one in his audience to whom he plays from his soul."

"And that one—tonight?"

"The lovely Miss—what, now, is her name—Marvin. She bewitches me —and she scorns me."

"Signor Baskinelli, there are other places than drawing rooms, or even conservatories, in which to capture those who captivate."

"I—do I quite grasp your meaning, Mistaire Owen?" He tried to disguise the suspicion under an accentuated accent.

"I think so, Monsieur Picquot."

At the name Baskinelli turned livid. He made a movement as if he would lunge at the throat of Owen, but his fury withered under the glassy smile.

"So—we met in Paris?"

"Once upon a time—a little incident in the Rue St. Jeanne. A young woman was concerned in that incident—and was not heard of afterward."

"And you are trying to blackmail me for the death of Marie Disart! Ha! That is a jest," cried Baskinelli.

"I am trying to do nothing of the kind. I simply reminded you of the little affair. I know as well as you that it was all beautifully cleared up, and a man is still in prison for it. I know you are as safe here as that man is in jail, Signor Baskinelli."

"What are you talking about, then?"

"The little woman that so charmed you here. I remarked merely that those who are captivated can capture."

"Not in this country—not among the Puritans. One must be good— and unhappy."

"You haven't forgotten your little friends, Mario, and Di Palma and Vitrio? They are all respected residents of New York. We know, where they might be found."

"At Cagliacci's?"

"Precisely. Dining upon the best of spaghetti and the richest of wines, and paying for it at the point of a stiletto."

"But—ha! You are talking nonsense. We could not find them; they could not find us."

"We might telephone and try," suggested Owen. "Cagliacci, you know, is now up-to-date. He has a telephone. He considers it a sign of respectability."

"And then what do you propose?"

"Picquot—I mean Signor Baskinelli, I propose nothing. Unless possibly there might be—after the reception—a little motor trip to Chinatown. It might amuse the ladies."

"You are right. I will invite them all," said Baskinelli.

"And how about calling up Marie at Cagliacci's just as an old friend?"

"It might be best."

They moved together down the corridor and Owen directed their way to a little study secluded from all other apartments of the great house.

"You seem to be familiar with the home of our gracious hostess," remarked Baskinelli.

"I make it a rule to be familiar with all homes in which Miss Marvin is entertained."

"Miss Marvin? You are, then a relative?"

"I am her guardian."

"Ah-h! You have control—perhaps—of certain small sums bequeathed to her?"

"Yes."

"And you would like to have as few persons as possible in the Chinatown party?"

"As few as possible."

In a place known only as Cagliacci's, in the dreg depths of Elizabeth street, the ringing of the telephone bell was much more startling, much more unusual than the crash of a pistol shot or the blast of a bomb.

The habitu's moved quietly to the door that leads to the roofs, while Pietro Cagliacci himself wiped the dust-covered receiver on his apron and put it to his ear.

He spoke softly, tersely. The conversation was very brief. Within a minute after he had hung up the receiver three grimy-clad, grim-visaged men left the place silently.

Harry and Lucille came out of the conservatory.

"I tell you there wasn't anything said between us that could have caused it," he was saying. "I was fighting the whole thing hard, but I was fighting it like a beggar. I am always a beggar with Pauline."

"But you told her it wasn't right that she was risking other people's lives?"

"No, I told you to tell her that."

In spite of her distress over Pauline's coldness, Lucille burst into laughter.

They were just emerging into the music room. Pauline, like the others, turned at the unexpected sound. She gave one glance at the two and turned haughtily away.

Baskinelli was bustling about, making up an impromptu excursion party.

"Ha! You people of New York—you do not know what is in New York. All Europe is here—and you never cross Fourteenth street—I mean to say Fifth avenue."

"It is more dangerous to cross Fifth avenue than to cross the ocean— that's probably the reason," said Harry. "The traffic cops along the Gulf Stream are so careful."

Pauline stopped Baskinelli's intended reply. She wanted Harry to be ignored utterly. Her anger had made him flippant. His flippancy had put the seal of completeness upon her anger.



CHAPTER IX

BASKINELLI'S QUARRY

A flutter of polite alarm attended Signor Baskinalli's invitation.

From the sheltered glitter of a Fifth avenue drawing room to Chinatown was a plunge a little too deep.

But Baskinelli was insistent and Pauline was his ardent and efficient recruiting officer. Quite a troop train of limousines carried the invaders to the uncelestial haunts of the Celestials.

Baskinelli rode in the car with Pauline and Owen. He had cast off the dignity of the master musician and assumed an air of whimsical recklessness. Harry and Lucille were in the following car.

"Oh, please stop fidgeting," exclaimed Lucille.

"I'm as nervous as you are."

"I know," said Harry, "but I hate to have her alone with that little black snake for five minutes."

"Owen is with them."

"Owen is worse."

The machines drew up in Chatham Square, and the little procession that moved across to Doyers street—dainty slippers on blackened cobblestones, light laughter tinkling under the thunder of the "L," human brightness brushing past the human shadows from the midnight dens —made contrasts picturesque as a pageant in a catacomb.

Pauline, on the arm of the chattering Baskinelli, led the way.

"Isn't this splendid?" she exclaimed. "I am sure you won't disappoint me, Signor Baskinelli. I hope you aren't going to show us a happy Chinese family at supper. Only the most dreadful sights amuse me."

"Ali, but we, must not take risks," replied Baskinelli. "There are some beings in the world, Miss Marvin, so exquisitely precious that a man would commit sin if he placed them in peril."

"But only the worst and wickedest places," she admonished Baskinelli.

He leaned suddenly very near to her.

"Do you really mean that, Miss Marvin?" he asked.

"Indeed I do," she answered.

"Very well. But first we shall go to the new restaurant. It is yet too early for the worst and wickedest to be abroad or rather to seek their lairs."

They climbed a brightly lighted staircase into one of the ordinary Chinese restaurants of the better sort which are conducted almost entirely for Americans, and where Boston baked beans are as likely as not to nudge almond cakes on the bill of fare and champagne flow as commonly as tea.

They gathered around one of the larger of the cheaply inlaid tables, and Baskinelli took command of the feast.

Harry sat in grim silence, watching Pauline like a protecting dragon. Lucille was sick at heart and repentant of coming. The others chatted merrily among themselves. But by common consent Pauline seemed to have been surrendered to the attentions of the evening pest, who had become a midnight host.

He leaned toward her with an ardor that he did not even attempt to disguise. "You are the most wonderful woman in—"

"Please make it the universe," pleaded Pauline. "There are so many most wonderful women in the world."

"No, let us say chaos," he whispered. "The chaos of a man's heart can be ruled only by the charming uncertainty of woman."

The intensity of his words brought to Pauline again the twinge of alarm. Unconsciously she looked around for Harry. It was the last thing in the world she had meant to do. She was angry at herself in an instant, for his fixed, guarding gaze was upon her. She met his eyes and turned quickly to Baskinelli.

"Chaos? I've always loved that word," she flashed. "There must be so many lovely adventures where there are no laws."

"I said the chaos in a man's heart could be ruled by a woman," said Baskinelli.

The impudence of this sudden love making moved her unexpectedly to defiance.

"Please let it be ruled, Signor Baskinelli," she said, turning away from him.

Baskinelli had sense enough to see that he had gone too far. He turned to the others as the soft-footed Orientals began to spread the mixed and mysterious viands on the table.

He glanced at Owen. By the slightest movement imaginable, by the least uplift of his black brows, Owen answered. For the first time Baskinelli knew that the lovely quarry he pursued had a protector— and no mean, no weak protector.

But the arrival of the repast quickly covered the general embarrassment. Everybody could see that Pauline and Harry had had a quarrel and that Pauline, was flirting outrageously with Baskenelli simply for revenge—that is, every one except Harry could see it.

"Pardon me, but is that what you call a graft investigation that you are making, Miss Hamlin?" inquired Baskinelli.

"No, but the food is so funny. There are so many queer things present, but unidentified," laughed Lucille.

"Like a reception to a foreign artist," interrupted Harry with a vindictive glare.

"Or shall we say like the conversation of an unhappy guest," said Baskinelli, smilingly turning to note the entrance of a little party of newcomers at the further end of the restaurant.

A dashing, well-dressed, fiery-eyed foreigner, the tips of whose waxed mustachios turned up like black stalagmites from the comers of his cavernous mouth, was accompanied by two nondescript figures, who seemed to be embarrassed more by the fact that they had been recently cleansed and shaved than by their rough red shirts and mismatched coats and trousers.

The man of the tilted mustachios gave brief, imperative orders to the waiters, whose languid steps seemed to be quickened by his words as by an electric battery. The other two sat silent, like docile dogs in leash.

Only for an instant Baskinelli's eyes rested upon the group.

"And having tasted the food of the gods, how would you like to visit the gods themselves?" he asked.

Pauline agreed enthusiastically. "You mean a joss house—a Chinese church, don't you."

"Yes."

The joss house that most visitors see in Chinatown is the little one up under the roof at the meeting of Doyers and Pell streets—at the toe of the twisted horseshoe made by these tiny thoroughfares of black fame, where, in spite of all the modern magic of "reform," men still die silently in the hush of secluded corridors and women vanish into the darkness that is worse than death.

The little joss house is interesting in the same way that an Indian village at a State fair is interesting. Behind its gaudy staginess and commercial appeal it still holds something of reality from which the imagination can draw a picture of an ancient worship that has held a race of millions in thrall for thousands of years.

But it was not to the little joss house that Signor Baskinelli guided the party. In the little joss house the bells are pounded without respite, the visitors come and go at all hours of the day and night— save the few set hours when the joss sacrifices profit to true prayer.

Baskinelli took his guests to the joss house of the Golden Screens.

Save for its greater size and more splendid accoutrement, it was little different from the other. But it was walled, in its back alley seclusion, deep behind the outer fronts of Mott street, by a secrecy almost sincerely sacred.

The motor cars remained far behind across the square as Baskinelli led the party through the dismal streets and stopped before a dark doorway.

A dim light flared behind the door and a Chinaman in American dress admitted them.

"I am beginning to be really bored," said Pauline.

"Wait; give the wicked a chance," said Baskinelli.

They climbed three flights of dingy, narrow stairs, lighted with flaring gas jets.

"Wonderful," jeered Pauline. "Not even a secret passage or a subterranean den!"

The others followed her laughing lead up the stairs.

A Chinaman came out of the door on the second landing, stopped, started in innocent curiosity at the dazzling visitors and went down the stairs. Everything was as still and commonplace as if they had been in the hallway of a Harlem flat building.

The silence was not broken or the seeming safety disturbed in the slightest by the soft opening of the first landing door, after they had passed—that is, after all but Owen had passed. No one but Owen saw the piercing black eyes and the tilted mustachios of the face that appeared for an instant at the door.

There was a corridor, not so well lighted, at the top of the third flight of stairs. In the dim turns the women drew their skirts about them, a bit wary of the black, short walls.

The passage narrowed. They could move now only in single file, and even then their shoulders brushed the walls.

Only a far, dull glow from a red lamp over a door at the end of a passage lighted their way.

Baskinelli tapped lightly on the door.

It was opened by a venerable Chinaman in the flowing robes of a priest. He looked at them doubtfully. Baskinelli spoke three words that his companions did not hear. The priest vanished. Quickly the door was reopened and they stepped into the dim, smoky, stifling presence of the joss.

The choking scent of the punk always at the folded feet of the idol was almost suffocating. The place had other odors less noxious and less sweet. Chinamen were lounging in the room as if it had been a place of rest. Three priests were on their knees before the joss swaying forward till their foreheads almost touched the floor, their outstretched arms moving in mystic symmetry with their rocking bodies.

A great brass bell hung low beside the idol. But no priest touched the bell.

The joss itself was almost the least impressive thing in the room. It stood, or squatted, six feet high, on a block pedestal at the side of the room. The simple hideousness of the painted features served no impressive purpose, but as contrast to the exquisite decorations of the room.

Screens of carved wood, so delicately wrought that it seemed a touch would break the graven fibers, were flecked with inlay of pearl and covering of gold.

One of the peculiar features of the room was a suit of ancient Chinese armor—a relic that had been rusted and pit-marked by time, but now stood brightly polished beside the statue of the god. A huge two-edged sword was held upright in the steel glove.

By the dim light behind the idol the shadow of the sword was cast across the blank face of Baskinelli as he moved forward. He stepped back quickly. The shadow fell between him and Pauline.

Again the ancient priest answered a summons at the door. Again he parleyed for a moment—then opened it to the three swarthy foreigners who had been in the restaurant.

Baskinelli turned for just in instant to glance at the tall man with the tilted mustache, then resumed immediately his conversation with Pauline.

"Why do all the Chinamen run away like that?" she asked.

"It is the end of the service; you see the priests are going, too."

There was a furtive haste about the departure of the Orientals. And there was a quavering in the manner of the oldest priest—the only one who remained—that seemed born of a hidden fear.

The old priest lifted one of the lamps from a wall bracket and set it on the floor beside the idol. He knelt near it and began to pray.

The three Italians waited only a moment, then followed the Chinese out of the room.

"It is late—we ought to be going," pleaded Lucille.

Complete silence had fallen on the room and her words, a little tremulous, had instant effect on the other women.

"What about it, Baskinelli? Had we better be going?" asked one of the men.

"Yes—yes, I beg only a moment. I wish to show Miss Pauline the—"

"You mean Miss Marvin, do you not?" blazed Harry, striding to Baskinelli's side and glaring down at him.

"I was interrupted. I had not finished my words. They are, at best, awkward, I beg—"

"You beg nothing," said Harry through clenched teeth. Then slowly, grimly:

"I want to tell you, you little leper, that if anything happens here tonight—it is going to happen to you."

He was so near to the musician that the others did not hear.

Baskinelli backed away. Pauline, with the swift, inexplicable, yet unerring instinct of woman, moved as if to seek the shelter of Harry's towering frame.

He did not see her. He had whirled at the sound of the opening of a door—a peculiar door set diagonally across a corner of the room behind the joss.

Through the yellow silk curtains that hid the entrance came two Chinamen as fantastically hideous as the embroidered dragons on the tapestry.

"Put those men out; they cannot come in here; they are full of opium," commanded Baskinelli.

"Stop; let them come in; we are going," said the mild voice of Owen.

The understanding look of Baskinelli met his. Baskinelli frowned and Owen smiled. They were playing perfectly their roles.

The two Chinamen shuffled into the room. The priest arose in jabbering protest. They argued with him acridly. A few feet away one could see that their cheap linen robes covered the ordinary street garb of the Chinamen; that the ugly lines on their faces were painted, as on the face of the Joss.

Baskinelli was laughing. The others watched the argument in silence. Every one but the host, and Owen, and Pauline, seemed a little nervous.

Suddenly the lamp on the floor went out. There was another at the farther side of the room, but its dim light made the scene more weird than darkness could have made it.

"Well, I thought we were going," snapped Harry's strident voice.

"We are," replied Baskinelli. "Miss—er—I am afraid to speak— Miss Marvin, shall we go?"

Pauline took his arm.

"Ali, but I have forgotten the most precious sight of the evening," suddenly exclaimed the musician. "Only a moment—look here."

Interested, Pauline did not notice that Owen softly shut the door upon the receding footsteps of the others. Baskinelli guided her back to the little door behind the screen—the door from which the Chinamen had entered.

Baskinelli drew aside the curtain.

"There—that is one form of adventure."

Pauline looked through the curtain. A suffocating, narcotic odor came to her. What she saw was stifling not only to the senses—but to the soul. She turned away.

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