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Tessa (1901)
Louis Becke




CHAPTER I

A small, squat and dirty-looking trading steamer, with the name
_Motutapu_ painted in yellow letters on her bows and stern, lay at
anchor off the native village of Utiroa on Drummond's Island in the
Equatorial Pacific. She was about 800 tons burden, and her stained and
rusty sides made her appear as if she had been out of port for two years
instead of scarcely four months.

At this present moment four of her five boats were alongside, each one
piled high over the gunwales with bags of copra, which the steam winch
was hoisting in as quickly as possible, for night was drawing on and
Captain Louis Hendry, who was then ashore, had given orders to the
mate, a burly Yorkshireman named Oliver, to be ready to heave up at six
o'clock.

The day had been intensely hot and windless, the sea lay sweltering,
leaden-hued and misty, and the smoke from the native houses in Utiroa
village hung low down amid the groves of coco-palms which encompassed it
on three sides.

On the after-deck of the steamer, under the awning, a man was lying on
a bed of mats, with a water-bottle and a plate of bananas beside him.
Seated cross-legged beside him was a native boy, about fifteen years of
age, who kept fanning his master's face, and driving away the pestering
flies. It was easy to see that the man was suffering from fever. His
deeply-bronzed cheeks had yellowed and were thin and hollow, and his
eyes dull and apathetic. He looked like a man of fifty, though he was in
reality not more than thirty-two. Every now and then he drank, then lay
back again with a groan of pain. Piled up on the skylight was a heap
of rugs and blankets, for use when the violent chilling attack of ague
would follow on the burning, bone-racking heat of fever.

Presently the mate, accompanied by the chief engineer, came aft. Both
men were very hot and very dirty, and their faces were streaming with
perspiration. They sat down on deck-chairs beside the sick man, called
to the steward for a bottle of beer, and asked him how he felt.

Carr made a sudden effort and sat up.

"D---- bad, Oliver! I have about six hundred and forty-nine pains all
over me, and no two of them in the same place. I've swilled enough water
to float a battleship; and, look here! you must give me some beer: a
bottle--two bottles--a gallon--a cask! Beer I will have if I perish
like a beast in the field. I can't drink water like that-it's as hot as
-----"

Morrison, the Scotch engineer, smiled. "Don't swear, Carr. Ye shall
have just one long drink of beer. 'Twill do ye no great harm on such a
roasting day as this."

The steward brought two bottles of lager beer, and Carr eagerly extended
his thin, brown hand for the creamy, tempting liquid poured out for him
by the mate. He drank it off and then laid down again.

"When are we getting out of this beastly hole, Oliver?" he asked.

"To night, I expect-that is, if the skipper comes aboard fairly sober.
He doesn't often get too much grog aboard, but this island is one of the
places where he is bound to get loaded up. The two traders ashore are
countrymen of his, I believe, though they call themselves Britishers."

Carr nodded. "Dutchmen of some kind, eh?"

"Yes, like himself. He's a Dane, though if you told him so he'd get
nasty over it."

"He's a nasty brute, anyway," said Carr wearily. "I don't like that
shifty eye of his. And I think he's a bit of a sneak."

"You needn't _think_ it; you can be sure of it. I'll prove it to you in
a minute," said the mate. "Both he and that fat beast of a supercargo
are a pair of sneaks, and they hate you like poison. What have you done
to offend them?"

"Nothing that I know of. But I have always suspected that neither of
them are too fond of me. Hendry I consider a low-lived scoundrel. I met
his wife and daughters in Sydney a year ago--went to his house with
him. They think he's a perfect saint, and at the time I thought so too,
considering he's been in the island trade for ten years. But I know what
he is pretty well by now. He's not fit to be married to a decent white
woman and have children."

The mate assented. "You're right, Carr. He's a double-faced swab, and
a thundering hypocrite as well. There's only one good point about
him--he's a rattling good sailor man. As for Sam Chard, he's simply
a drunken bully. I shall be glad to be quit of this hooker. I'm not a
paragon of virtue, but this ship is a bit too rocky for me. Now I will
show you what I meant just now when I said I'll prove that both Hendry
and Chard are sneaks, and have their knives into you."

He disappeared below for a few seconds, and then returned carrying a
letter-book.

"Now, Carr, my boy," he said, seating himself beside the sick
trader again, "just cock your ears and listen. This is our esteemed
supercargo's letter-book. I had to go into his cabin yesterday to look
for the list of ship's stores, and I saw this letter-book lying on his
table, opened at this particular page. I caught your name, and took the
liberty of reading the letter. It is addressed to the owners in Sydney,
and is dated May 5, 1889."

"That was two days after you and the skipper and Chard had the row about
those flash Samoan girls coming aboard at Vavau," put in Morrison, "and
he and Chard started to knock the hands about."

"I remember," said Carr, as a grim smile flitted across his yellow face;
"go on, Oliver."

The mate began:--

     "'SS. _Motutapu_. Niafu Harbour,
     "'Vavau, Tonga Islands,
     "'May 5, 1889.

     "'Dear Sirs,--As the barque _Metaris_ leaves to-day for
     Sydney, I take the opportunity of writing you to report
     progress of cruise of the _Motutapu_ up to date.'"

Then followed an account of the various trading operations in which the
steamer had been engaged from the time she left Sydney up to her arrival
at the Friendly Islands. Then--

     "'In pursuance of your instructions, we called at Kabaira
     Bay, New Britain, to remove Mr. Harvey Carr from there to a
     more healthy location. We found Mr. Carr's station in a
     satisfactory state, and his accounts were correct.    But
     both Captain Hendry and myself are of the opinion that Mr.
     Carr was on altogether too friendly terms with the manager
     of the German firm at Blanche Bay, and we believe that your
     firm's interest has greatly suffered thereby. He certainly
     was ill, but we do not think his illness has been caused by
     fever, of which we could see no traces, but by his availing
     himself of the too lavish hospitality of the manager of the
     German firm. He had also, I learnt, become very thick with
     the Wesleyan missionaries at Port Hunter, and seems to have
     been continually visiting them under the pretext of getting
     medical attendance from the Rev. Dr. Bowen, who, as you are
     well aware, is a determined opponent of your firm in New
     Britain, and has made several adverse reports upon our
     manner of trading with the natives to the commander of H.M.
     ships.'"

"What do you think of that?" inquired the engineer wrathfully, striking
his clenched hand upon his knee; "and the fellow is a Scotsman, too."

Carr laughed. "Don't get angry, Morrison. He's one of the wrong sort
of Scotsmen. Give me some beer. I'm a drunken beast, aren't I? Go on,
Oliver."

     "'In fact Mr. Carr seems to have thoroughly ingratiated
     himself with the missionaries as well as with the Germans,
     and I think it is my duty to mention this to you at the
     earliest opportunity. I proposed to him that he should take
     charge of one of your stations in the New Hebrides, but he
     declined to remain in Melanesia, alleging that he is
     suffering from fever, and insisting on being given a station
     in the Caroline Islands. I pointed out to him that it would
     be to the firm's advantage for him to remain in the vicinity
     of New Britain, whereupon he was grossly insulting, and said
     that the firm could go to hell, that he studied his own
     health as much as anything. Furthermore, he made the direct
     statement that he was not anxious to continue in the service
     of a firm that resorted to shady and illegal practices, such
     as sly grog-selling, and other blackguardly things. These
     words he uttered to myself and Captain Hendry. On Sunday
     last, the 3rd inst., myself and the captain had occasion to
     exercise our authority over our native crew, who were making
     a noise on deck. Mr. Carr--who was violently excited from
     the effects of liquor--at once interfered and took the part
     of the crew, who not only threatened both myself and Captain
     Hendry with personal violence, but committed an assault on
     us. I consider that the firm will be wise to terminate their
     connection with Mr. Carr. His presence on board is a
     continual source of trouble, and I shall be glad to have
     authority from you to dismiss him. Captain Hendry bears me
     out in these statements, and herewith attaches his signature
     to mine.

     "'I am, dear Sir,

     "'Yours very obediently,

     "'Samuel Chard, supercargo.

     "'Louis Hendry, master. "'Messrs. Hillingdon & McFreeland,
     "'Sydney.'"

"What do you think of that, Carr?" "It doesn't astonish me, Oliver,
for Chard, with all his seeming _bonhomie_, is as big a black-guard as
Hendry. And there is a certain amount of truth in his letter--I did
say that the firm of Hillingdon and McFreeland were guilty of shady and
illegal practices, and that the High Commissioner in Fiji would bring
them up with a round turn some day. But, as you know, all the rest is
false--downright lies."

The mate slapped him on the shoulder. "Lies! Of course they are! Now
just listen to what I have written in my own private log."

He stepped along to the deck-house, entered his cabin, and came back
with the private log aforesaid.

"Here, listen to this:--

     "'Vavau, Tonga Islands, May 3, 1889.--This evening Captain
     Hendry and Mr. Chard, the supercargo, came on board at six
     o'clock, accompanied by several white men and a number of
     loose Samoan women. They were all more or less under the
     influence of drink. As is usual, our native crew were seated
     on the fore-hatch, holding their evening service, when Mr.
     Chard went for'ard, and with considerable foul language
     desired them to stop their damned psalm-singing. He then
     offered them two bottles of Hollands gin. The native seamen
     refused to accept the liquor, whereupon Mr. Chard struck one
     of them and knocked him down. Then Captain Hendry, who was
     much the worse for drink, came for'ard, and calling on me to
     follow and assist him, attacked the crew, who were very-
     excited (but offered no violence), with an iron belaying-
     pin. He stunned three of them before the second mate, the
     chief engineer, and myself could restrain him, and he
     threatened to shoot what he called "the ringleaders of a
     mutiny." He had a revolver belted round his waist. The
     native crew then came aft and made a complaint to. Mr.
     Harvey Carr, the trader, who was lying ill with fever in his
     berth. He came on deck, and speaking in Samoan to the crew
     and to the women who had been brought on board by Captain
     Hendry and the supercargo, urged the women to go on shore,
     as it was Sunday. This they at once did, and getting into a
     canoe, paddled away. Thereupon Captain Hendry, Mr. Sam
     Chard, and the white traders became very insulting to Mr.
     Carr, who, although he was so ill, kept his temper, until
     Mr. Chard called him a "missionary crawler." This
     expression made Mr. Carr lose control of himself, and he
     used very strong language to Captain Hendry and the
     supercargo upon the gross impropriety of their conduct. He
     certainly used expressions that he should not have employed,
     but under the circumstances, and bearing in mind the fact
     that the native crew were ready for mutiny, and that mutiny
     was only averted by Mr. Carr's influence over the native
     crew, I and my fellow officers, whose names are attached,
     desire to record the facts of the case.

     "'Then Captain Hendry and Mr. Sam Chard used very foul
     language to Mr. Carr, who again lost his temper and called
     the former a damned stock-fish eating Dutchman, who had no
     right to sail under British colours as an Englishman, and
     ought to be kicked off the deck of a British ship.    He
     (Mr. Carr) then, being greatly excited, added that Captain
     Hendry, being a married man with a large family, was little
     better than a brute beast in his mode of life, else he would
     not have brought half a dozen native harlots on board--women
     whose very presence insulted even his native crew. Mr. Chard
     then advanced towards Mr. Carr in a threatening manner,
     whereupon the whole native crew, headed by a white stoker
     named Cleaver, rushed the after-deck, seized Captain Hendry
     and Mr. Chard, and threw them below into the saloon.

     "'Mr. Carr then addressed the crew in their own several
     languages, and explained to them the danger of laying hands
     upon the captain or an officer of the ship; also he
     explained to them his own position as a passenger. They
     listened to him quietly, and promised to follow his
     directions. At six o'clock Captain Hendry and Mr. Sam Chard
     came on deck, and in my presence and in that of the second
     officer and Felix Latour, the steward, apologised to Mr.
     Carr. Mr. Carr, who was very exhausted with fever, shook
     hands with them both, and the matter has ended. I have
     briefly entered these occurrences in the ship's log, which
     Captain Hendry refuses to sign. But this statement of mine
     is signed as follows:--

     "'James Oliver, Chief Officer.

     "'Jos. Atkins, Second Officer.

     "'Felix Latour, Steward.

     "'Tom Cleaver, Fireman."

The trader held out his hand, "Thank you, Oliver. But I'm afraid that
the firm of Hillingdon and McFreeland will be glad to get rid of a man
like me. I'm not the sort of trader they want. I took service with them
under the impression that they were straight people. They are
not--they are simply unmitigated sweeps. Hillingdon, with his solemn,
stone-jug-like face, I _know_ to be a most infernal rogue. He fakes the
firm's accounts to the detriment of the London people who are paying the
piper, and who are really the firm. As for Sam Chard and this measly,
sneaking, Danish skipper, they are merely minor thieves. But I didn't do
so badly with them, did I, Oliver?"

The mate laughed loudly. "No, indeed. You settled them that time. But
you must be careful. Hendry especially is a dangerous man. I believe
that he wouldn't stick at murder if it could be done without any fear of
detection. And he hates you like poison. Chard, too, is a scoundrel, but
wouldn't do anything worse than he has done, which is bad enough,
for the fat blackguard always keeps up the appearance of a jolly,
good-natured fellow. But be careful of Hendry. Don't lean on the rail
on a dark night when he's on deck. He'd give you a hoist overboard in a
second if you gave him a chance and no one was about."

"I'll watch him, Oliver. And when I get better, I'll take it out of him.
But I'm not going to let him and Chard drive me out of the ship. I am
under a two years' engagement to this rascally firm, and have only three
more months to put in. I'll settle in the Carolines, and start trading
there on my own account. I'm sick of this filthy old tub."

"So is Morrison, and so am I," said the mate, as he rose to go for'ard
again. "Hallo, here is the skipper coming at last."

A quarter of an hour later the captain's boat, came alongside, and
Hendry and his supercargo came aft under the awning, and with much
solicitude asked Carr how he was feeling. He replied civilly to their
inquiries, but excused himself when Chard asked him to have a small
bottle of lager. They were accompanied by two respectable-looking white
men, who were resident traders on Drummond's Island.

"I have some news for you, Mr. Carr," said the supercargo genially;
"there's an old friend of yours here, a trader named Remington."

Carr raised himself with an expression of pleasure lighting up in his
worn, thin face. "Old Jack Remington! Where is he? I _shall_ be glad to
see him again."

"He'll be aboard here in another hour. He has a station at the north end
of the island. The moment we mentioned your name he said he would come
and see you. His daughter is going on to the Carolines with us, and
he has just now gone off to his station to bring her on board, as the
captain wants to get away at daylight in the morning." Then with a
pleasant nod he moved his chair some little distance away, and began
talking business with the two traders.

Carr, lying on his side with half-closed eyes, apparently was trying
to sleep, in reality he was studying the supercargo's face. It was a
handsome, "taking" sort of face, rather full and a bit coarse perhaps,
deeply browned by tropic suns, and lit up by a pair of jet black eyes,
which, when the possessor was in a good temper and laughed, seemed to
dance in unison. Yet they were eyes that in a moment could narrow and
show an ugly gleam, that boded ill for the object of their owner's
resentment. His curly hair and beard were jet black also, save here and
there where they were streaked with grey, and his figure, stout, but
close and well-knit together, showed him to be a man of great strength
and activity.

From the face of the supercargo Carr let his glance light upon the
figure of Captain Louis Hendry, who was standing at the break of the
poop talking to the chief mate. He was a small, slightly-built man of
about fifty years of age, with regular features, and wore a flowing grey
beard trimmed to a point. His eyes were those of the true Scandinavian,
a bright steely blue, though at the present moment the whites were
bloodshot and angry-looking. As he talked he kept stroking his beard,
and directing sullen glances at the crew, who were still working hard at
hoisting in the bags of copra. It was not a pleasant face to look at--a
sullen ill-humour seemed to glower forth from under the bushy grey
eyebrows, and vie with a nervous, sneaking apprehensiveness, as if he
every moment feared to be struck from behind. That he was a bit of a
dandy was very evident, for although his navy serge coat and cap were
soiled and dirty, they were both heavily trimmed with gold lace--a most
unusual adornment for the master of an island trading steamer. Like his
supercargo, he carried a revolver at his side, and at this Carr looked
with a contemptuous smile, for neither of the two traders, who actually
lived on the island, thought it necessary to carry arms, though the
natives of Taputeauea, as Drummond's Island was called, had a bad
reputation.

An hour after sunset, and whilst supper was proceeding in the saloon,
a smart whaleboat, manned by a crew of half-naked natives of Pleasant
Island, came alongside, and an old white-haired man of past sixty
stepped on deck. He was accompanied by a fair-skinned, dark-haired girl
of about twenty. The boatswain conducted them aft to where Carr, now
shaking with a violent attack of ague, was lying.

"My dear boy," cried the old man, kneeling beside the trader, and
looking into his face with intense sympathy. "I am so glad to meet you
again, though sorry to see you so ill."

Carr, with chattering teeth, held out an icy-cold hand.

"How are you, Remington? And you, Tessa? I'll be all right in another
ten minutes, and then we can talk."

Tessa Remington slipped down on the deck into a sitting posture beside
him, and placed her soft, warm hand on his forehead.

"Don't talk any more just now, Mr. Carr. There, let me tuck you in
properly," and she wrapped the rugs more closely around him. "I know
exactly what to do, don't I, father?"




CHAPTER II

From his boyhood Harvey Carr had been a wanderer among the islands of
the Southern Seas. Before he was sixteen his father, who was owner and
master of a Hobart Town whaleship, had perished at sea in one of the
ship's boats after the loss of his vessel upon an uncharted reef in the
South Pacific. And though another sixteen years had almost passed since
that dreadful time of agony and hunger, and thirst and madness, when men
looked at each other with a horrid meaning in their wolfish eyes, the
boy had never forgotten his dying father's words, spoken to the lad when
the grey shadow of the end had deepened upon the old seaman's rugged
face--

"I'm done for, Harvey. Try to keep up the men's courage. Rain will fall
before morning. I know it is coming, though I shall never feel it. Stick
to your two little sisters, boy; you must be their mainstay when I am
gone. Lead a clean life, Harvey. You can do it if you think of your
dead mother and of me.... And tell the men to stick steady to an
east-southeast course. They'll feel fresh and strong when the rain
comes. Drop me over the side the moment I'm gone, lad, won't you? Don't
let any one of them touch me. Goodbye, my son."

Those awful days of horror had helped to strengthen Harvey Carr's
natural resolution and steadfastness of purpose in life. When the
famished and hideous-looking survivors of the crew of the _City of Hope_
were picked up two days later the orphaned sailor lad made a vow to
devote himself to his sisters and "live clean." And he had kept his vow,
though for many years he had lived as trader, mate, or supercargo, among
people and in places where loose living was customary with white men,
and where any departure from the general practice was looked upon
with either contemptuous pity or open scorn. Yet no one, not even the
roughest and most dissolute beachcomber in the two Pacifics, would
have dared to "chaff" Harvey Carr upon his eccentricity, for he had an
unpleasant manner when aroused which meant danger to the man who was so
wanting in judgment. Yet some men _had_ "chaffed" him, and found out to
their cost that they had picked upon the wrong sort of man; for if he
was slow with his tongue he was quick with his hands, and knew how to
use them in a manner which had given intense pleasure to numerous gentry
who, in South Sea ports, delight to witness a "mill" in default of being
able to take part in it themselves.

And so the years had slipped by with Harvey Carr, wandering from one
island to another either as trader or seaman. Of such money as he made
he sent the greater portion to his sisters in the Colonies, retaining
only enough for himself to enable him to live decently. He was not an
ascetic, he drank fairly with his rough companions, gambled occasionally
in a moderate manner with them, swore when the exigences of seafaring
life demanded it, but no one had ever heard his name coupled with that
of a woman, white or brown, though he was essentially a favourite with
the latter; for at the end of fifteen years' experience in the South
Seas, from Easter Island to the far Bonins, he was one of the few white
men who thoroughly understood the character and disposition of the
various peoples among whom he had lived. Had he been a man of education
his knowledge of native languages, thought and mode of life generally,
might have brought him some money, fame, and distinction in the world
beyond, but he took no thought of such things; for to him the world
beyond was an unknown quantity, only associated in his mind with his
sisters, who had sometimes talked to him of their hopes and aspirations.
They would, when he had made plenty of money, go to England, to France,
to Italy. They would, with him, see the quaint old church on the sands
of Devon where their mother, and her mother too, had been christened so
long, long ago. And Harvey had only shaken his head and smiled. They,
he said, might go, but he had no care for such things; and he would
work hard and make money for them until they married and wanted him no
longer.

And then after a brief stay in the quiet little Australian country
town where his sisters lived, he would again sail out to seek the
ever-fleeting City of Fortune that has always tempted men like him into
the South Seas, never to return to the world of civilisation, but with
an intense, eager desire to leave it again as quickly as possible.
To him the daily round of conventional existence, the visitings, the
theatres, the church-goings, the talkings with well-dressed and highly
cultured men and women, whose thoughts and life seemed to him to be
deadly dull and uninteresting when contrasted with his own exciting
life in the South Seas, palled upon and bored him to the verge of
desperation. From his boyhood--from the time of his father's death he
had moved among rough men--men who held their lives cheaply, but whose
adventurous natures were akin to his own; men "who never had 'listed,"
but who traded and sailed, and fought and died from bullet, or club,
or deadly fever in the murderous Solomons or New Hebrides; men whose
pioneering instinct and unrecorded daring has done so much for their
country's flag and their country's prestige, but whose very names are
forgotten by the time the quick-growing creeper and vine of the hot
tropic jungle has hidden their graves from even the keen eye of the
savage aboriginal. Go through a file of Australian newspapers from the
year 1806 to the year 1900 and you will see how unknown Englishmen have
died, and are dying, in those wild islands, and how as they die, by
club, or spear, or bullet, or fever, how easily the young hot blood of
other men of English race impels them to step into the vacant places.
And it is well that it is so the wild wide world over, else would
Britain be, not the mistress of the seas, but only a sharer of its
sovereignty with France and Germany.

*****

About five years previous to his entering the service of Hillingdon
and McFreeland, Carr had been mate of a trading vessel whose
cruising-grounds were that vast chain of islands known as the Caroline
Group, in the North-West Pacific, and there he had made the acquaintance
of old John Remington and his family, an acquaintance that in the course
of two or three years had deepened into a sincere friendship. The
old trader was a man of means, and owned, in addition to his numerous
trading stations throughout the North Pacific, a very smart schooner, of
which eventually Carr took command, and sailed her for him for a
couple of years. Then Remington, who, old as he was, was of an eager,
adventurous disposition, decided to seek new fields for his enterprise
among the low-lying equatorial islands to the south, and Carr and he
parted, the former resuming his wanderings among the wild and murderous
peoples of New Britain and the Solomon Archipelago. Since then they had
never met, though the young man had heard that Remington, accompanied
by one or more of his children, had opened up a trading business in the
Gilbert Islands.

Exhausted with the violence of the fit of ague, Carr had dropped off
into a broken slumber, from which he did not awaken till eight bells
were struck, and the steward came to ask him to try and eat a little.
Chard, Hendry and the two traders were below in the saloon, drinking,
smoking, and talking business; Remington and his daughter, who had
declined to join them at supper, were still on deck waiting for Carr to
awaken; Malua, Carr's native servant, still sat beside his master, from
whom he was never long absent, and from the main deck came the murmur of
voices from the native crew, who were lying on their mats enjoying the
cool breath of the evening land breeze.

The moment the young trader opened his eyes Tessa's father came over to
him and they began to talk.

"I was delighted beyond words to learn you were on board, Harvey," said
the old man. "I didn't care about the idea of letting Tess go away under
the care of strangers; but now I shall know that she will be well looked
after, and that she will be in Ponapé in less than a month."

Carr heard him in silence, then he said frankly, "And I shall be
delighted too; but, at the same time, I wish she were leaving you by
any other ship than this. Cannot you keep her with you until one of
the German ships come along? Is it necessary she must go home by this
steamer?"

"Time is everything, Harvey. Her mother is ill, and wrote to me a few
months ago, begging me, if I could not return myself, to at least try
and send Tess home. The two other girls are married, as you know, and
my two boys are both away--one is second mate on the _Jacinta_, of New
Bedford, and the other is in California. And I can't leave Drummond's
Island for another four months or so. I have made a good business here
and throughout the group, and to leave it now to the care of any one
else would mean a heavy loss to me. Then, you see, this steamer will
land Tess at home in less than a month. If she waits for one of the
German ships to call she may have to wait three or four months. And her
mother wants her badly."

Again Carr was silent. He knew that Mrs. Remington had always been more
or less of an invalid for many years. She was a Portuguese of Macao, and
though her three daughters and two sons were strong and robust, she had
always struck him as being of a delicate physique--the very antithesis
of her husband, whose fame as an athlete was known from one end of the
Pacific to the other. Presently Carr sat up.

"Do you mind going away, Tessa, for a few minutes?" he said. "I want to
talk to your father on some business matters."

A vivid flush spread over Tessa's pale cheeks. "Oh, I'm so sorry,
Harvey."

She rose and walked aft to where the mate was standing, and began to
talk to him, her heart beating double quick time the while, for she had
never forgotten Harvey Carr, though he had never spoken a word of love
to her in the olden days when she was a girl of sixteen, and he was the
master of her father's schooner.

And now, and now, she thought, they would be together for nearly a
month. And what were the "business matters," she wondered, about which
he wanted to speak to her father. Perhaps he was coming to them again!
How hollow-cheeked, yellow, and dreadful he looked, except for his eyes,
which were always kind and soft! She was nineteen, and was no longer the
child she was three years ago, when, with her gun on her shoulder, she
used to accompany Harvey Carr and her brothers out pigeon-shooting in
the dark, silent mountain forest of Ponapé. And then, too, she knew she
was beautiful; not so beautiful, perhaps, as her two sisters, Carmela
and Librada, whom she had heard Harvey say were the handsomest girls
he had ever seen. But yet--and again a pleasant flush tinged her pale
cheeks--he had always liked to talk to her most, although she was only a
girl of sixteen, just returned from school in California.

She sighed softly to herself, and then looking up suddenly saw the
kindly-faced mate regarding her with a smile in his honest grey eyes,
for she was answering his questions at random, and he guessed that her
thoughts were with the sick trader.

As soon as she was out of hearing Carr spoke hurriedly, for he every
moment expected to see either Chard or the captain appear on deck.

"Jack," he said, speaking in the familiar manner borne out of their past
comradeship, "you know that I would do anything for you, don't you? But
while I shall take good care of Tessa, I would rather she was going back
home to Ponapé by any other ship than the _Motutapu_."

"What is wrong with the ship, Harvey?"

"Nothing. But the captain and supercargo are a pair of unmitigated
scoundrels. I have seen a good deal of them since I came on board at
New Britain, and I hate the idea of Tessa even having to sit at the same
table with them. If I were free of this cursed fever, I wouldn't mind a
bit, for I could protect her. But I'm no better than a helpless cripple
most of the time, and one or the other, or both, of these fellows are
bound to insult her, especially if they begin drinking."

Old Remington put his hand on Carr's shoulder. "You're a good boy,
Harvey, and I know what you say of Chard at least, is true But have no
fear for Tessa. She can take good care of herself at any time, and I
have no fear for her. Just let me call her for a moment."

"Tessa," he called, "come here." Then speaking in Portuguese, he added,
"Show Harvey what you have in the bosom of your dress."

The girl smiled a little wonderingly, and then putting her hand in
the bosom of her yellow silk blouse, drew out a small Smith and Wesson
revolver.

"Don't worry about Tessa, Harvey," added her father; "she has not
travelled around the Pacific with me for nothing, and if either that
rat-faced Danish skipper or the fat supercargo meddles with her, she
will do what I would do. So have no fear. And she is as anxious as I am
myself to get home to her mother."

Harvey was satisfied. "Perhaps I am doing these two fellows an
injustice, Jack. When a man has fever he always takes a black view of
everything. And then I should remember that Malua here, and the mate,
and nearly all the crew, will see that Tessa is not interfered with.
I am sorry, however, that I shall not be with Tessa all the way to
Ponapé--I am going ashore at the Mortlocks. There is a good opening
there----"

"Don't be in too much of a hurry, Harvey. Now, listen to me. Go on to
Ponapé. Leave this employ, and come in with me again."

Harvey promised to think it over during the next few days; but the
old man could see, to his regret, that the Mortlocks group of islands
possessed a strong fascination for his young friend.

Remington remained on board for the night; and then at daylight he bade
Tessa and Harvey farewell and went ashore, and half an hour later
the steamer had left the island, and was heading north-west for the
Carolines.




CHAPTER III

Five days out from Drummond's Island Carr had so much improved in health
that he was able to take his seat at the saloon table for breakfast,
much to the annoyance of Chard, who had been making the best of his time
in trying to produce a favourable impression upon Tessa Remington.
He pretended, however, to be delighted to see the trader mending so
rapidly, and was most effusive in his congratulations; and Hendry, of
course, followed suit. Harvey responded civilly enough, while Tessa,
who had learned from the chief mate of the treacherous part they were
playing towards her friend, could not repress a scornful curl of her lip
as she listened to Chard's jocular admonition to Harvey, "to hurry up
and put on some flesh, if only for the reputation of the cook of the
_Motutapu_."

Immediately after breakfast Carr went on deck again, and began to pace
to and fro, enjoying the bright tropic sunshine and the cool breath of
the trade wind. In a few minutes Tessa, accompanied by her native woman
servant, appeared, followed by Chard and Captain Hendry.

"Won't you come on the bridge, Miss Remington?" said Chard, "I'll take a
chair up for you."

"No, thank you," she replied, "I would rather sit here under the
awning."

The supercargo and Hendry went up on the bridge together, where
they could talk freely. The man at the wheel was a thick-set, rather
stupid-looking native from Niué (Savage Island), who took no notice of
their remarks, or at least appeared not to do so. But Huka was not such
a fool as he looked.

"_You'll_ stand little chance with her," said Hendry presently, in his
usual low but sneering tones as he tugged viciously at his beard.

The supercargo's black eyes contracted, "Wait and see, before you talk.
I tell you that I mean to make that girl marry me."

"_Marry_ you!"

"Yes, marry me. The old man will leave her pretty well everything
he has, and he has a lot. I've been making inquiries, and am quite
satisfied."

"How are you going to do it?"

"Don't know just yet. Must think it out. But I never yet knew the woman
whom I could not work my own way with--by fair means or foul, as the
penny novelists say."

"It strikes me that she likes that damned fellow. Look round presently
and see for yourself. She's reading to him."

"Bah! That's nothing. He used to sail one of the old man's schooners,
and of course they have a good deal to talk about. I'll settle _him_ as
far as she is concerned. Wait till I get a chance to talk to her a bit,"
and taking off his cap the supercargo passed his brawny hand through his
curly hair with a smile of satisfaction. "She'll be tired of talking to
him before the day is out."

"Where is he going to land? Has he told you?"

"Yes. He wants to be put ashore at the Mortlocks Islands. We have no
trader there, and he has lived there before."

"I'd like to see him go over the side in some new canvas, with a couple
of fire bars slung to his heels," snarled Hendry viciously.

"So would I," said Chard meditatively.

At four bells the wheel was relieved, and Huka the Niué native trotted
off, and immediately sent a message to Carr's servant Malua to come
for'ard. The boy did as requested, and remained away for about ten
minutes. When he returned he seated himself as usual near his master.
Hendry was in his cabin on deck, Chard was below in the trade room, and
only Tessa, Harvey, and himself were on the after-deck.

"Master," he said in Fijian, to Harvey, "listen to what Huka, the man
of Niué, has told me. The captain and the supercargo have been talking
about thee and the lady." Then he repeated all that which Huka had
heard.

"The infernal scoundrels!" Harvey could not help exclaiming. "But they
won't get rid of me as easily as they think."

"What is it, Harvey?" asked Tessa, anxiously bending forward to him.

The trader thought a moment or two before speaking. Then he decided to
tell her what he had just heard.

She laughed contemptuously. "_His_ wife! _His_ wife!" she repeated
scornfully. "If he knew what my father knows of him, and how I hate and
despise him, he would not have said that. Does he think that because my
mother was a Portuguese, I am no better than some native slave girl whom
he could buy from her master?"

Harvey smiled gravely as he looked into her flashing eyes, and saw her
clench her hands angrily. Then he said--

"He is a dangerous man though, Tessa. And now listen to me. When I came
on board this steamer I intended to land at the Mortlocks Islands. But I
think now that I will go on to Ponapé."

"Do not change your plans, Harvey, on my account. I am not afraid of
this man. He dare not insult me, for fear my father would hear of it."

"I know him too well, Tessa. He and the skipper are, I fear, a pair of
cunning, treacherous villains. And so I am going on to Ponapé. And I
will stay there until your father returns. I daresay," he added with a
smile, "that he will give me a berth as a trader somewhere."

A sudden joy illumined the girl's face. "I _am_ so glad, Harvey. And
mother, too, will be overjoyed to see you again; father has never ceased
to talk about you since you left him. Oh, Harvey, we shall have all the
old, old delightful days over again. But," she added artlessly, "there
will be but you and I now to go fishing and shooting together. Carmela
and her husband are living in the Ladrones, and Librada and her husband,
though they are still on Ponapé, are ten miles away from mother and I.
Then Jack is in California, and Ned is away on a whaling cruise."

A quick emotion stirred his bosom as he looked into her now joyous
face. "I don't think you and I can go out shooting and fishing together,
Tessa, as we did in what you call 'the old, old days.'"

"Can't we, Harvey?" she asked wonderingly.

He shook his head, and then mused.

"Tessa, I wish you could meet my sisters."

She clasped her hands together. "Ah, so do I, Harvey. I should love to
meet them. Do you think they would like me?"

"I am sure they would."

They were silent for a while, the girl with her head bent and her long
lashes hiding her eyes from him as she sat in the deck-chair, and he
thinking of what his sisters would really say if he wrote and told them
that he thought he had at last found a woman he would wish to make his
wife.

"Tessa."

"Yes, Harvey."

She did not look at him, only bent her head still lower.

"_Tessa!_"

"Yes, Harvey."

Her hands were trembling, and her courage was gone, for there was
something in his voice that filled her with delight.

"Tessa," he said, speaking softly, as he drew nearer to her, and tried
to make her look at him; "do you know that you are a very beautiful
woman?"

"I am glad you think so, Harvey," she whispered. "You used to tell
father that Carmela and Librada were the most beautiful women you had
ever seen."

"So they were. But you are quite as beautiful. And, Tessa----"

"Yes, Harvey"--this in the faintest whisper.

"Could you care for me at all, Tessa? I do not mean as a friend. I am
only a poor trader, but if I thought you could love-me, I----"

She took a quick glance around the deck, and bent towards him. "I have
always loved you, Harvey; always, always." Then she pressed her lips to
his, and in another moment was gone.

*****

Harvey, with a sense of elation in his heart, walked for'ard to where
Morrison was standing in the waist.

"Why, man, ye look as if ye could take the best man aboard on for four
rounds," said the engineer, with a smile.

"I do feel pretty fit, Morrison," laughed the trader; "have you anything
to drink in your cabin?"

"Some real Loch Dhu, _not_ made in Sydney. Man, your eye is as bright as
a boy's."

*****

Just before eight bells were struck Chard came on deck. He was
carefully dressed in shining, well-starched white duck, and his dark,
coarsely-handsome face was aglow with satisfaction; he meant to "rub
it in" to Carr, and was only awaiting till Tessa Remington and Captain
Hendry were present to hear him do it. He knew she would be on deck in
a minute or so, and Hendry he could see was sitting at his cabin table
with his chart before him. Harvey was strolling about on the main deck,
smoking his first pipe for many weeks.

Presently Tessa appeared with her woman attendant. She, too, had dressed
in white, and for the time had discarded the wide Panama hat she usually
wore. Her face was radiant with happiness as she took the deck-chair
which Chard brought, and disposed herself comfortably, book in hand. She
had seen Harvey on the main deck, and knew she would at least have him
with her for a few minutes before dinner.

Hendry stepped out from his cabin.

"Ha, Miss Remington. You give an atmosphere of coolness to the whole
ship. Mr. Chard, big as he is, is only a minor reflection of your
dazzling whiteness."

"Thank you, Captain Hendry. I am quite sure that my father will be
astonished to learn that I have been paid so many compliments on board
the _Motutapu_. Had he known that you and Mr. Chard were such flatterers
he would not have let me come away."

Neither Chard nor Hendry could detect the ring of mockery in her tones.
They drew their chairs up near to that in which she was sitting and lit
their cigars, and she, impatient for Harvey, talked and laughed with
them, and wished them far away. Less than two hours before she had felt
an intense hatred of them, now she had but a quiet contempt for both
the handsome, "good-natured" supercargo and his sneaking, grey-bearded
jackal.

Eight bells struck, and presently Carr ascended the poop deck, took in
the little group on the starboard side of the skylight, and went over
to his own lounge, beside which his watchful servant was seated. He knew
that Tessa would be alone in a few minutes, and he was quite satisfied
to wait till Chard and the Dane left her free.

He lay back in the lounge, and lazily conversed with Malua. Then Chard,
who had been watching him keenly, rose from his seat.

"Pray excuse me for a few minutes, Miss Remington. Even _your_ charming
society must not make me forget business."

He spoke so loudly that Carr could not fail to hear him, but he was
quite prepared, and indeed had been on the alert.

Chard walked up to within a few feet of the trader.

"I want you to come below, Mr. Carr, and pick out your trade goods for
the Mortlocks."

Harvey leant back in his lounge. "I don't think I shall require any
goods for the Mortlocks Islands, Mr. Chard."

"What do you mean?" and Chard's face flushed with anger.

"I mean exactly what I say," replied Carr nonchalantly. "I say that I
shall not want any trade goods for the Mortlocks Islands. I have decided
not to take another station from the firm of Hillingdon and McFreeland.
I have had enough of them--and enough of you."

Chard took a threatening step towards him.

"Stand back, Mr. Chard. I am not a man to be threatened."

Something in his eyes warned the supercargo, whose temper, however, was
rapidly taking possession of him.

"Very well, Mr. Carr," he said sneeringly; "do I understand you to say
that you refuse to continue your engagement with our firm?"

"I do refuse."

"Then, by God, I'll dump you ashore at the first island we sight. The
firm will be glad to be rid of you."

"I don't doubt the latter part of your assertion; but their satisfaction
will be nothing to equal mine," he said with cutting irony. "But you'll
not 'dump' me ashore anywhere. I am going to land at Ponapé, and
nowhere else."

Again Chard took a step nearer, his face purpling with rage; and then,
as Hendry came to his side with scowling eyes, Tessa quickly slipped
past them, and stood near her lover.

"You'll land at Ponapé, will you?" sneered the supercargo, "It's lucky
for you we are not in port now, for I'd kick you ashore right-away."

The insult had the desired effect, for, weak as he was, Harvey sprang
forward and struck Chard full upon the mouth, but almost at the same
moment the captain, who had quietly possessed himself of a brass
belaying-pin, dealt him a blow on the back of the neck which felled him
to the deck, and then bending on one knee, he would have repeated the
blow on Harvey's upturned face, when Tessa sprang at him like a tigress,
and struck him again and again on the temple with her revolver. He fell
back, bleeding and half stunned.

"You cowards--you pair of miserable curs!" she cried to Chard, who was
standing with his handkerchief to his lips, glaring savagely at the
prostrate figure of Harvey. "Stand back," and she covered him with her
weapon, as he made a step towards her, "stand back, or I will shoot you
dead." Then as the second mate, Huka, and another native appeared on the
poop, she sank on her knees beside Harvey, and called for water.

Hendry, whose face was streaming with blood, though he was but little
hurt, rose to his feet and addressed the second mate.

"Mr. Atkins, put that man in irons," and he pointed to Harvey, who was
now sitting up, with Tessa holding a glass of water to his lips.

The second mate eyed his captain sullenly. "He is scarcely conscious
yet, sir."

"Do you refuse to obey me? Quick, answer me. Where is the mate? Mr.
Chard, I call on you to support my authority."

Harvey looked at the second mate, whose features were working curiously.
He rose and pressed Tessa's hand.

"You must obey him, Atkins," he said. "If you don't he'll break you.
He's a spiteful hound."

Atkins, with a sorrowful face, went to his cabin and returned with a
pair of handcuffs, just as the chief officer appeared. As he stepped
on the poop he was followed by half-a-dozen of the native crew, who
advanced towards Hendry and the supercargo with threatening glances.

"Go for'ard, you swine!" shouted Chard, who saw that they meant a
rescue. He darted into Hendry's cabin, and reappeared with the captain's
revolvers, one of which he handed to him.

Harvey looked contemptuously at the supercargo, then turning to the
natives he spoke to them in Samoan, and earnestly besought them to
go for'ard, telling them of the penalties they would suffer if they
disputed the captain's authority. They obeyed him with reluctance,
and left the poop. Then he held out his hands to the second mate, who
snapped the handcuffs on his wrists.

"Take him to the for'ard deck-house," snarled Hendry viciously.

"I protest against this, sir," said Oliver respectfully. "I beg of you
to beware of what you are doing."

Hendry gave him a furious glance, but his rage choked his utterance.

Tessa Remington followed the prisoner to the break of the poop and
whispered to him ere he descended the ladder. He nodded and smiled. Then
she turned and faced Chard and the captain.

"Perhaps you would like to put me in irons too, gentlemen," she said
mockingly. "I am not very strong, though stronger than Mr. Carr has been
for many months."

The captain eyed her with sudden malevolence; Chard, bully as he was,
with a secret admiration as she stood before them, still holding her
revolver in her hand. She faced them in an attitude of defiance for a
second or two, and then with a scornful laugh swept by them and went
below to her cabin.




CHAPTER IV

At six o'clock that evening the _Motutapu_ was plunging into a heavy
head sea, for the wind had suddenly hauled round to the northeast and
raised a mountainous swell. Chard and his jackal were seated in the
latter's cabin on deck. A half-emptied bottle of brandy was on the
table, and both men's faces were flushed with drink, for this was the
second bottle since noon. Hendry did not present a pleasant appearance,
for Tessa's pistol had cut deeply into his thin, tough face, which was
liberally adorned with strips of plaster. The liquor he had taken had
also turned his naturally red face into a purple hue, and his steely
blue eyes seemed to have dilated to twice their size, as he listened
with venomous interest to Chard. "Now, look here, Louis," said the
latter, "both you and I want to get even with him, don't we?"

It was only when the supercargo was planning some especial piece
of villainy that he addressed his _confrere_ by his Christian name.
Secretly he despised him as a "damned Dutchman," to his face he
flattered him; for he was a useful and willing tool, and during the
three or four years they had sailed together had materially assisted the
"good-natured, jovial" supercargo in his course of steady peculation.
Yet neither trusted the other.

"You bet I do," replied Hendry; "but I'd like to get even with that
spiteful little half-bred Portuguese devil----"

"Steady, Louis, steady," said Chard, with a half-drunken leer; "you must
remember that she is to be Mrs. Samuel Chard."

"Don't think you have the ghost of a chance, as I said before. She's in
love with that fellow."

"Then she must get out of love with him. I tell you, Louis"--here he
struck his fist on the table--"that I mean to make her marry me. And
she'll be _glad_ to marry me before we get to Ponapé. And if you stick
to me and help to pull me through, it's a hundred quid for you."

"How are you going to do it?" and the captain bent forward his foxy face
and grinned in anticipation.

"Same old way as with that Raratongan girl last year. She'll go to sleep
after supper, and I can open any door in the saloon, as you know, don't
you, old man?" and he laughed coarsely. "Dear, dear, what times we have
had together, Louis, my esteemed churchwarden of Darling Point, Sydney!"

The Dane tugged at his beard, and then poured out some brandy for
himself and his fellow scoundrel. "We have, we have, Sam," he said,
uneasily. "But what about the native woman who sleeps with her?"

"The native woman, when _she_ awakes, my Christian friend, will find
herself in the trade-room in the company of Mr. Tim Donnelly, one of the
firemen. And Mr. Tim Donnelly, to whom I have given two sovereigns,
will bear me out, if necessary, that 'the woman tempted him, and he did
fall.' Also he will be prepared to swear that this native woman, Maoni,
told him that her mistress expected a visit from Mr. Chard, and had
asked her to be out of the way."

"Well, after that."

"After that, my dear Christian friend, with the rudely executed diagrams
in sticking-plaster on the facial cuticle, my pious churchwarden with
the large family of interesting girls--after that, Miss Tessa Remington
will be glad to marry Mr. Samuel Chard, inasmuch as when _she_ awakes it
will be under the same improper conditions as those of the dissolute
Tim Donnelly and the flighty Miss Maoni; for the beauteous Tessa will
be fortuitously discovered by Captain Louis Hendry and several other
persons on board, in such circumstances that an immediate marriage of
the indiscreet lovers by one of the American missionaries at Ponapé
will present the only solution of what would otherwise be a 'terrible
scandal.'"

"And what will you do with this fellow Carr?"

"Chuck him ashore at the Mortlocks," replied Chard with an oath; "we'll
be there in a couple of days, and I'll kick him over the side if he
turns rusty. Hillingdon doesn't like him, so we are quite safe."

"When is the love-making to come off?" asked Hendry, with a fiend-like
grin.

"As soon as we are clear of Carr--or sooner; to-night maybe. We must log
it that he was continually trying to cause the native crew to mutiny,
and that for the safety of the ship we got rid of him. Hillingdon will
back us up."

*****

Tessa did not appear at supper. She kept to her cabin with Maoni, her
dear Maoni, who, though but little older than herself, was as a mother
to her; for the native girl had been brought up with her and her sisters
from their infancy. And as Tessa lay back with her dark head pillowed
against the bosom of the native girl, and sobbed as she thought of her
lover lying in the deck-house with the handcuffs on his wrists, Maoni
pressed her lips to those of her mistress.

"Lie there, little one, lay thy head on my bosom," she said; "'tis a bad
day for thee, but yet all will be well soon. These sailor men with the
brown skins will not let thy lover be hurt. That much do I know already.
Speak but one word, and the captain and the big fat man with the black
eyes will be dead men."

Tessa smiled through her tears. "Nay, Maoni, that must not be; I desire
no man's death. But yet if he be not set free to-morrow trouble will
come of it, for he hath done nothing wrong; and the brown men, as thou
sayest, have a strong friendship for him."

"He shall be set free to-morrow," said Maoni, with quiet emphasis. "The
brown sailor men have talked together over this thing, and they say that
they are ready at thy word to make captive the captain, the big fat man,
and all those white men who tend the great fires in the belly of the
ship."

Tessa knew that the half-dozen of white firemen and stokers were on
bad terms with the native crew. They were a ruffianly, drunken set of
scoundrels, and their leader, a powerfully built man named Donnelly,
had grossly insulted both the first and second mates. He was an especial
_protégé_ of the supercargo, who, as well as the captain, secretly
encouraged him and his fellows to annoy and exasperate the two officers
and the chief engineer.

They remained in their cabin talking together in low tones and without
a light till they heard eight bells strike; and ten minutes afterwards,
just as they were going on deck, some one tapped at the cabin door.

"It is me, Miss Remington," said the voice of Oliver; "please let me
come in for a moment. Be quick, please, as I don't want the captain to
know I am here."

Tessa at once opened the door. "Come in Mr. Oliver. But we have no
light."

"Never mind that, miss," he said in a low voice, carefully closing the
door and then bolting it, "I cannot stay long. I came to warn you that
there is likely to be trouble tonight about Mr. Carr, and you had better
not come on deck. Keep to your cabin, and don't open your door to any
one except myself, the second mate, or the steward. The native crew are
in a dangerous state of excitement, and I am sure they will attempt to
liberate Mr. Carr before morning. Both the captain and Chard are more
than half-drunk; and the chief engineer tells me that for some reason
they have given liquor to the firemen and stokers, who have set him at
defiance. I fear, I fear greatly, miss, that some calamity may occur on
board this ship to-night. Therefore I beg of you to keep to your cabin."

"Thank you very much, Mr. Oliver. We certainly did intend to go on deck
and remain some hours, but shall not do so now. But tell me, please,
have you seen Mr. Carr? Is he well?"

"Quite well. I saw him a few minutes ago, and he bade me tell you to
have no fear for him. I am now again going to Captain Hendry to ask him,
for his own and the ship's safety, to set Mr. Carr free. If he refuses I
cannot say what will happen."

Tessa put her little hand upon the mate's huge, rough paw, and looked
into his honest, troubled eyes through the darkness.

"It is good of you," she whispered. "Oh, do try, Mr. Oliver, try your
best to make the captain set him at liberty."

"Indeed I will, miss," replied the mate earnestly, as he pressed her
hand, and went softly out into the main cabin. He stood by the table for
a minute or two, thinking with wrinkled brow of the best way to approach
the captain and bring him to reason. Presently he sat down, took his
pipe from his pocket, filled it, and began to smoke.

A heavy step sounded on the companion steps, and Chard descended
somewhat unsteadily, and calling for the second steward--who was in the
pantry--to come to him, brushed past the chief officer, and went into
his own cabin.

The second steward--a dirty, evil-faced little cockney named Jessop,
whom Oliver and his fellow officers particularly abhorred--at once
followed the supercargo in to his cabin, which was immediately closed.
In less than five minutes it opened again, and Jessop came out and
returned to the pantry, and presently Oliver heard the rattle of cups
and saucers as the man made preparations for the coffee which was always
served to Hendry, Chard, Carr, and Tessa and her attendant, and the
officer on watch at nine o'clock every evening.

"Would you like a cup of coffee, sir, as you have not turned in?"

It was Jessop who was speaking, and Oliver looked up in some wonder,
for the man knew that he disliked him, and indeed he (Oliver) had once
smartly cuffed him for creating a disturbance for'ard with the native
crew.

Most fortunately for himself, Oliver did not want any coffee, so merely
giving the man a gruff "No, thank you," he rose and went on deck.

The moment he was out of the cabin Chard appeared, and looked
inquiringly at the second steward.

"'E won't 'ave any, blarst him!" said the man, speaking in a whisper,
for Latour, the chief steward, was in his cabin, which was abreast the
trade-room.

Chard uttered a curse. "Never mind him, then. Sling it out of the port
or you'll be giving it to me instead perhaps. Are the other two cups
ready?"

The man nodded. "All ready, but it's a bit early yet."

"That doesn't matter. Pour it out and take it to them--the sooner the
better."

Chard, whose dark face was deeply flushed, sat down at the table, lit
a cigar, and watched his villainous accomplice place the two cups of
coffee with some biscuits on a tray, take it to Miss Remington's door
and knock.

"Coffee, ma'am."

"Thank you, steward," he heard Tessa's soft voice reply as Maoni opened
the door and took the tray from Jessop.

The supercargo rose from his seat with a smile of satisfaction. The
crime he meditated seemed no crime to his base and vicious heart.
He merely regarded it as a clever trick; dangerous perhaps, but not
dangerous to him; for deeply steeped as he was in numerous villainies
he had never yet been called to account for any one of his misdeeds,
and long immunity had rendered him utterly hardened and callous to any
sentiment of pity or remorse.

He went on deck and walked leisurely for'ard till he came abreast of the
funnel. A big swarthy-faced man who was standing near the ash-hoist was
awaiting him.

"Are you sober enough, Tim, not to make any mistakes?" asked Chard,
leaning forward and looking eagerly into the man's face.

"Just as sober as you are," was the reply, given with insolent
familiarity. "I've kept my head pretty clear, as clear as yours and the
skipper's, anyway."

The two conversed for a few minutes, and then separated, the supercargo
going up on the bridge to join his jackal. Half-way up the ladder he
heard the sound of angry voices. Hendry was quarrelling with his chief
officer.

"Go and keep your watch below," said the captain furiously, his
bloodshot eyes glaring fiercely upon the mate. "I tell you that I'll
keep the beggar in irons till he rots in them, or until Mr. Chard kicks
him ashore."

"Very well, sir," said Oliver quietly, placing his hand on the bridge
rail to steady himself, for the _Motutapu_ was now plunging and
labouring in the heavy head sea, and Hendry was staggering about all
over the bridge--"very well. But I call on Mr. Atkins here to witness
that I now tell you that you are putting the ship into great danger."

"Say another word to me, and by God I'll put you with your friend
Carr to keep him company!" shouted Hendry, who had now completely lost
control of himself.

Oliver smiled contemptuously, but made no answer. He at once descended
the bridge, and in the starboard alleyway met the chief engineer.

"This is a nice state of affairs, Oliver. Those blackguards of mine are
half-drunk, and unless I get some assistance from the captain I can't
keep up steam. They won't work and are saucy as well."

The mate shook his head. "You'll get no help from the captain. He and I
have just had a flare-up. He's half-drunk himself, and threatened to
put me in irons. And none of the native crew will go into the stokehole,
that's certain."

"Well then, something serious will happen. I can keep her going at four
or five knots for another hour or so, and that is all I can do. The
second engineer and myself are dead-beat. She'll broach-to presently,
and then you will see a pretty mess."

"I can't help it, Morrison," said the mate gloomily, as he went to his
cabin.

Up on the bridge Hendry and Chard were talking and looking out ahead.
The second mate, a young, muscular man, was standing by the wheel, and
giving a word of warning now and then to the native helmsman, who was
Huka. Although it was not blowing hard the sea had increased greatly,
and every now and then the steamer would make a plunge into a mighty
valley of darkness, and only struggle up out of it with difficulty.
Careful steering was a necessity, for the ship was not steaming more
than four knots, and the least inattention might result in serious
consequences.

"Look out for'ard!" Atkins shouted, as he saw a particularly loose,
knobby sea rise suddenly up over the starboard bow. His warning was
just given in time, for in another moment down dropped the black mass
of water on the well deck with a thundering crash, burying the steamer
completely from the bridge to foc'scle head. She rose slowly, very
slowly.

Hendry lurched up towards the helmsman.

"You damned, red-hided kanaka! Couldn't you see that coming?" and he
struck the man a violent blow on the mouth. In an instant Huka let go
the wheel, swung himself over the rail on to the deck, and ran for'ard.
Atkins looked at his captain with suppressed rage as he seized the
wheel, and then began to watch for the next sea.

Five minutes passed, and then a dozen dark figures made a sudden rush
towards the deckhouse in which Carr lay in irons. Then came the sound
of smashing blows as the door was burst open with an axe, and in a few
seconds Carr was brought out upon the main deck and quickly freed from
his irons by Malua, to whom a duplicate key had been given by the second
mate.

At first Chard and Hendry scarcely comprehended what had happened, so
sudden was the onslaught, but when they saw Carr standing free on the
main hatch they both made a rush aft towards Hendry's deck cabin. This
they gained without opposition, and seizing two loaded Winchesters which
lay in the captain's berth they darted out again, and began firing into
the group of excited native seamen ten paces away. Three men at once
dropped, either killed or wounded; but the rest, nothing daunted at
this, made a rush towards the two men, knives in hand, bore them down
to the deck by sheer weight, and in a few seconds would have ended their
lives had not Carr, Oliver, and Latour the steward flung themselves into
the fray.

"For God's sake, stop!" cried Oliver, "the ship is on fire!"

And then seizing Hendry by the throat, he lifted him to his feet, and
shook him as a terrier shakes a rat. "You damned, drunken villain! You
are not in a fit state to take charge. Lie there, you brute, and let
better men try to save the ship."

He swung Hendry's slight figure to and fro, and then sent him reeling,
to fall like a log on the deck.

"Men," he cried, "we are in great danger, the trade-room is on fire!
Atkins, for God's sake try to keep us head to wind. Mr. Carr, you and
some of the hands see to the boats. There are over fifty cases of powder
in the for'ard end of the trade-room, and we can't shift them; but only
the after part is burning so far. Steward, see to Miss Remington. Her
cabin is locked, and I cannot make her hear. She and her maid must be
awakened at once. Pass the word to Mr. Morrison to get the fire hose
aft. Some of you cut a hole here in the deck on the port side, just
abreast of that bollard. Smart's the word and quick's the action, or
we shall all be blown to hell in ten minutes if we can't flood the
trade-room."

He stopped to give a brief scrutiny to the prone figure of Mr. Samuel
Chard, who had been struck a smashing blow on the head from the butt of
his own Winchester, which Huka had wrested from him.

"Put this beast into one of the boats, Mr. Carr. We must not leave the
blackguard here, as he is not dead, and we can't save the ship, I fear.
Now then, hurry along that hose."




CHAPTER V

Whilst the chief mate, aided by the now willing crew, ran aft the hose
and set to work to flood the trade-room, Latour the steward, a smart
little Frenchman, taking a man with him, jumped below and knocked loudly
at the door of Tessa's cabin, which was the foremost but one of five
on the starboard side, the intervening one separating it from the
trade-room. There was no answer to his repeated cries and knocking. Then
he and the native sailor each tried to force the door, but it defied
their efforts, and then, as they paused for a moment, they heard the
crackling sound of fire within a few feet of them.

The native seaman, a big, square-shouldered Manhikian, looked around the
main cabin for a second; then he darted into the second mate's cabin,
and returned with a carpenter's broad axe. One smashing blow with the
back of the tool started the lock, and a second sent the door flying
open.

The lamp was burning brightly, but both Tessa and Maoni were sunk in a
heavy slumber, and although Latour called loudly to them to arise, they
made no answer, though Tessa tried to sit up, and her lips moved as she
muttered incoherently, only to fall back again with closed eyelids.

There was no time to lose. Latour lifted Tessa out of her berth,
and followed by the native, who carried Maoni, they hurried up the
companion-way, and laid the two girls down upon the quarter-deck, where
Malua took charge of them.

For nearly ten minutes the mate and crew worked hard to subdue the fire,
and all might have gone well had there been a sufficient head of steam
to keep the ship head to wind and the donkey-engine going, but at the
first alarm the drunken, cowardly firemen had refused duty and tried to
rush one of the boats, and amidst the curses and blows which Carr
and Atkins were showering upon them another mighty sea tumbled aboard
for'ard, and the _Motutapu_ was half-smothered again.

Morrison crawled up exhaustedly on the deck from the engine-room.

"It's a case as far as steaming goes, Mr. Atkins. I'm done up. Send some
one down into the stokehole for Mr. Studdert. He dropped a minute
ago. But if you'll give me a couple of your men I can keep the engines
going."

"It's no use, Morrison. None of my men would go into the stokehole
to work, but they'll bring Mr. Studdert up quick enough. The ship is
doomed, so don't bother. We'll have to take to the boats."

The _Motutapu_ was indeed doomed, for, despite the frantic efforts of
Oliver and the native crew, the fire had gained complete possession of
the saloon, though every opening on deck had been battened down and all
cabin ports had been closed. Most fortunately, however, the fore part
of the trade-room, where the powder was stowed, had been thoroughly
saturated, and both Oliver and Atkins felt assured that no danger need
be apprehended from that source.

In a few minutes the engines ceased to work, but the donkey-engine on
deck, with its furnace filled with cotton waste soaked in kerosene, kept
the hose going, and sent a steady stream of water through the hole cut
in the after-deck. Meanwhile Harvey and the second mate, aided by the
energetic little French steward, had made good progress with the
boats, all three of which were ready for lowering, and contained some
provisions and water. Such fore and aft canvas as the steamer carried
was set, so as to keep her to the wind as much as possible, and help to
steady her. Then, seeing that the flames were bursting through the sides
of the saloon skylight, and that the ship would scarcely answer her helm
under such miserable canvas, Oliver abandoned all hope of saving her.

"All ready, sir?" replied Atkins.

And then before they could be stopped the firemen made a rush for the
best boat of the three, a fine new whaler, hanging in davits just abaft
the bridge. Four of them jumped into her, the remaining two cast off the
falls, and began to lower away hastily.

"You cowardly dogs!" shouted the second mate, rushing up to the nearest
man, tearing the after-fall out of his hands, and making it fast
again round the cleet, and then springing at the other man, who paused
irresolutely, intimidated by Atkin's threatening visage. But though he
paused but momentarily, it was fatal, for the instant the mate's back
was turned the first man, with an oath of drunken defiance, cast off the
fall and let it go with a run, just as the _Motutapu_ was heaved up by a
lofty sea, and rolled heavily to port.

A cry of terror burst from the four doomed men in the boat, as they fell
headlong into the sea, and she hung by the for'ard fall, straight up and
down.

"Let them drown!" roared Atkins to some native seamen who sprang to his
assistance, "overboard two or three of you, and save the boat. She'll
be smashed to matchwood in a minute, the after-fall has unshipped;" then
whipping a knife from the belt of one of them he severed the remaining
fall, and saw the boat plunge down sternwards and outwards from the side
just in time; another half-minute and she would have disappeared under
the steamer's bottom to be hopelessly stove in. And with cries of
encouragement to each other, four natives leapt over the side, swam
after her, clambered in and then shouted that they were all right,
and would come alongside and stand by, for although the oars and other
fittings had been lost, there were half a dozen canoe paddles lashed
under the thwarts, and these were quickly brought into use.

All this happened in a few minutes, and as Atkins ran to assist Harvey
with the two quarter boats which had been lowered, and were now standing
by alongside, there came a sudden crashing of glass, as the flames in
the saloon burst through the sides of the skylight, and drove every one
to the main deck.

"That settles the matter," said Oliver quietly to Harvey, as a sudden
gust of flame leapt from the lee side of the skylight, and caught the
fore and aft mainsail, which was quickly destroyed; then the steamer at
once fell off, and the flames began to travel for'ard.

With all possible speed, but without excitement, Tessa and Maoni, who
were still under the influence of the drugged coffee, and unable to
stand, or even utter a word, were placed in the first boat, of which
Atkins took charge for the time, with four natives as a crew. The second
quarter boat, in which Hendry and Chard had been placed, then came
alongside, and the two surviving firemen, now thoroughly cowed and
trembling, and terrified into a mechanical sobriety, were brought to the
gangway and told to jump.

"Jump, you rotten beggars, jump," said Morrison; "over you go into the
water if you want to save your useless lives. The men in the boat will
pick you up. We are not going to risk bringing her alongside for the
sake of swine like you. Over you go," and then seizing one of them by
the collar of his shirt and the belt, he sent him flying over the side,
the other man jumping over to avoid rougher treatment from the native
seamen, who were disgusted at their cowardice. Then Morrison, Studdert,
and three natives followed, and the boat pulled away clear of the ship,
and stood by.

"Pull up, boys!" cried Oliver to the men in the third boat--the one
which the firemen had rushed. Then turning to Latour, who was standing
near him with a sack half full of heavy articles--firearms, ammunition,
the ship's books, etc.--he bade him go first.

Disdaining to wait for the boat to come alongside the little Frenchman
sprang over the side and swam to the boat; then the bag--its contents
too precious to be wetted--was adroitly lowered and caught by one of the
hands. Jessop, the second steward, whose limbs were shaking with terror,
was told to jump, but pleaded that he could not swim.

"You miserable hound!" cried Oliver fiercely, and he raised his hand to
strike him; then a scornful pity took the place of anger, and he ordered
the boat to come alongside so that he could get in.

"Now's your chance, you dirty little cur," he said, as the boat's bow
came within a foot of the steamer's side.

The fear-stricken man jumped, fell short, and in an instant disappeared
under the ship, as she rolled suddenly to starboard. When he came to the
surface again it was at the stern, with several broken ribs, he having
struck against the propeller. He was, however, soon rescued and placed
in safety, and then but three natives and Harvey and Oliver remained
on board. The natives went first, the white men quickly followed, and
clambered into the boat, which at once joined the two others, and then
all three lay to, and their occupants watched the _Motutapu_ drifting
before the wind, with the red flames enveloping her from stern to stem.

*****

Ordering the other boats to remain close to him until further orders,
but to steer W. by N. if anything should part them from him during the
night, Oliver and Harvey, as they watched the burning steamer lighting
up the heaving sea for miles around, discussed their future plans, and
quickly resolved upon a certain course of action to be followed in the
morning.

Towards midnight the wind died away entirely, and an hour later the
heavy, lumpy sea changed into a long, sweeping swell. A mile to leeward
the _Motutafu_ still blazed fiercely, and sent up vast volumes of smoke
and flame from her forehold, where some hundreds of cases of kerosene
were stowed.

The three boats were pretty close together, and Harvey, exhausted by the
events of the day, and knowing that Tessa was safe with the second mate,
was just dozing off into a "monkey's sleep" when he was awakened by a
hail from Atkins.

"What's the matter, Atkins?" cried Oliver.

"We're all right, sir; but Miss Remington has just come to, and is
asking for Mr. Carr, so I said I'd hail you just to show her that he is
with you. Better let me come alongside."

Oliver looked at Harvey with something like a smile in his eyes.

"All right, Atkins," he replied, and then to Harvey, "Here, wake up
young-fellow-my-lad, and get into the other boat with your sweetheart. I
don't want you here. What's the use of you if you haven't even a bit of
tobacco to give me?"

The second mate's boat drew alongside, and in another minute Harvey was
seated in the stern sheets with Tessa's cheek against his own, and her
arms round his neck.

"Any of you fellows got any tobacco, and a pipe to spare?" said the
prosaic Oliver. "If you haven't, sheer off."

"Lashings of everything," said Atkins.

"Here you are: two pipes, matches, bottle of Jimmy Hennessy, and some
water and biscuits. What more can you want? Who wouldn't sell a farm and
go to sea?"




CHAPTER VI

At sunrise the three boats were all within a half-mile of each other,
floating upon a smooth sea of the deepest blue. Overhead the vault of
heaven was unflecked by a single cloud, though far away on the eastern
sea-rim a faintly curling bank gave promise of a breeze before the sun
rose much higher.

At a signal from Oliver the second mate pulled up, and he, Harvey, and
the chief mate again held a brief consultation. Then Harvey went back to
Oliver, and both boats came together, rowing in company alongside
that of the captain's, no one speaking, and all feeling that sense of
something impending, born of a sudden silence.

The captain's boat was steered by Huka, the Savage Islander; Hendry
himself was sitting beside Chard in the stern sheets, Morrison and
Studdert amidships amidst the native crew, whose faces were sullen and
lowering, for in the bottom of the boat one of their number, who had
been shot in the stomach by either the captain or Chard, was dying.

Hendry's always forbidding face was even more lowering than usual as his
eyes turned upon the chief officer. Chard, whose head was bound up in
a bloodstained handkerchief, smiled in his frank, jovial manner as
he rose, lifted his cap to Tessa, and nodded pleasantly to Oliver and
Harvey.

"What are your orders, sir?" asked the chief mate addressing the
captain.

Hendry gave him a look of murderous hatred, and his utterance almost
choked him as he replied--

"I shall give my orders presently. But where are the other firemen--five
of them are missing."

"Six of them rushed this boat," answered the mate quietly; "two of
them--those scoundrels there," and he pointed to the two in Hendry's
boat, "let the after fall go by the run, and drowned the others."

"I hold you responsible for the death of those men," said Hendry
vindictively.

"Very well, sir," answered the mate, "but this is not the time nor place
to talk about it."

"No," broke in Atkins fiercely; "no more is it the time or place to
charge you, Captain Hendry, and you, Mr. Chard, with the murder of the
two native seamen whose bodies we saw lying on the main hatch."

Hendry's face paled, and even Chard, self-possessed as he always was,
caught his breath.

"We fired on those men to suppress a mutiny----" began Hendry, when
Oliver stopped him with an oath.

"What are your orders, I ask you for the second time?" and from the
natives there came a hissing sound, expressive of their hatred.

Chard muttered under his breath, "Be careful, Louis, be careful."

Suddenly the second steward raised himself from the bottom of Oliver's
boat, where he had been lying, groaning in agony, and pointed a shaking
finger at Chard.

"That's the man who caused it all," he half sobbed, half screamed. "'E
told me to let Tim Donnelly go into the trade-room, and it was Donnelly
who upset the lamp and set the ship afire. 'E sent Donnelly to 'ell,
and 'e's sending me there, too, curse 'im! But I'm goin' to make a clean
breast of it all, I am, so help me Gawd. 'E made me give the young lady
and the girl the drugged coffee, 'e did, curse 'im! I'll put you away
before I die, you----"

He sank back with a moan of agony and bloodstained lips as Chard, with
clenched hands and set teeth, glared at him savagely.

A dead silence ensued as Harvey picked up a loaded Winchester, and
covered the supercargo.

"You infernal scoundrel!" he said, "it is hard for me to resist sending
a bullet through you. But I hope to see you hanged for murder."

"You'll answer to me for this----" began Chard, when Oliver again
interrupted.

"This is no time for quarrelling. Once more, Captain Hendry--what are
your orders?"

Hendry consulted with Chard in low tones, then desired first of all that
the wounded native should be taken into Oliver's boat.

The mate obeyed under protest. "I already have a badly injured man in my
boat, sir; and that native cannot possibly live many hours longer."

Hendry made no answer, but gave the officer one of his shifty, sullen
glances as the dying man was lifted out and put into Oliver's boat.
Then he asked Oliver if the ship's papers, chronometer, charts, and his
(Hendry's) nautical instruments had been saved.

"Here they are," and all that he had asked for was passed over to him by
Harvey.

"Did you save any firearms?" was Hendry's next question.

"Yes," replied Harvey; "two Winchesters, a Snider carbine, and all the
cartridges we could find in your cabin."

"Give them to me, then," said Hendry.

Harvey passed them over to the captain, together with some hundreds of
cartridges tied up in a handkerchief. Hendry and Chard took them with
ill-concealed satisfaction, little knowing that Harvey had carefully
hidden away the remainder of the firearms in Atkins's boat, and
therefore did not much mind obeying Hendry's demand.

When Hendry next spoke he did so in a sullenly, authoritative manner.

"Miss Remington, you and your servant must come into my boat. Mr.
Morrison, you and the second engineer can take their places in the
mate's boat."

The two engineers at once, at a meaning glance from Oliver, stepped out
of the captain's boat, and took their seats in that of the mate. Neither
Tessa nor Maoni moved.

"Make haste, please, Miss Remington," said Hendry, not looking at her as
he spoke, but straight before him.

"I prefer to remain in Mr. Atkins's boat," replied Tessa decisively.

"And I tell you that you must come with me," said the captain, with
subdued fury. "Mr. Atkins has no compass, and I am responsible for your
safety."

"Thank you, Captain Hendry," was the mocking reply, "I relieve you of
all responsibility for my safety. And I absolutely refuse to leave Mr.
Atkins, except to go with Mr. Oliver."

For a moment Hendry was unable to speak through passion, for he had
determined that Tessa should come with them. Then he addressed the
second mate. "Mr. Atkins, I order you to come alongside and put Miss
Remington and that native girl into my boat."

"You can go to hell, you Dutch hog!" was the laconic rejoinder from
Atkins, as he leant upon his steer-oar and surveyed the captain and
Chard with an air of studied insolence. "I'll take no orders from a swab
like you. If Miss Remington wants to stay in my boat she _shall_ stay."
Then turning to Tessa he said so loudly that both Chard and captain
could hear, "Never fear, miss; compass or no compass, you are safer with
us than with those two." And as Tessa looked up into his face and smiled
her thanks to the sturdy young officer, Chard ground his teeth with
rage, though he tried to look unconcerned and indifferent.

"It's no use, Louis," he muttered, "we can do nothing now; time enough
later on. Give your orders, and don't look so infernally white about the
gills."

The taunt went home, and Hendry pulled himself together. The violence
with which he had been thrown down upon the deck the previous evening
by the angered mate, and his present passion combined had certainly, as
Chard said, made him look white about the gills.

"Very well, Miss Remington," he said, "if you refuse to come with me I
cannot help it. Mr. Oliver, is your boat compass all right?"

"Yes," was the curt answer.

"Then our course is north-north-west for Ponapé. You, Mr. Atkins, as
you have no compass, had better keep close to me, as if we get a squally
night with heavy rain, which is very likely, we may lose sight of each
other. You, Mr. Oliver, can use your own judgment. We are now five
hundred miles from Ponape." Then, true seaman as he was, for all his
villainy, he ascertained what provisions were in Atkins's boat, told
him to put half into Oliver's, and also overhauled what was in his own.
There was an ample supply for two or three weeks, and of water there
were two breakers, one in his own the other in the second mate's boat.
That which had been in the mate's boat had been lost when she was rushed
by the firemen, and had hung stern down by the for'ard fall.

"I'll see that Mr. Oliver's boat has all the water she wants to-day,"
said Atkins. "She won't want any to-night. We'll get more than we shall
like. It'll rain like forty thousand cats."

Hendry nodded a sullen assent to this, and turned to take the steer-oar
from Huka, who, with the other native seamen, had been listening to the
discussion between the captain and his officers.

Huka gave up the oar, and then telling the other natives in their own
tongue to follow him, quietly slipped overboard, and swam towards the
second mate's boat. They leapt after him instantly.

Hendry whipped up one of the Winchesters, and was about to stand up and
fire at the swimming men when Chard tore the carbine from his grasp.

"Let them go, you blarsted fool! Let them go! It will be all the better
for us," he said with savage earnestness, but speaking low so that the
two firemen could not overhear him; "we can send the whole lot of them
to hell together before we get to Ponapé. Sit down, you blithering Dutch
idiot, and let them go! They are playing into our hands," and then he
whispered something in the captain's ears.

Hendry looked into the supercargo's face with half-terrified,
half-savage eyes.

"I'm with you, Sam. Better that than be hanged for shooting a couple of
niggers."

"Just so, Louis. Now make a protest to Oliver and Atkins, and ask them
to send those three natives back. They won't do it, of course, but be
quick about it. Say that you have only the two firemen and myself--who
are not seamen--to help you to take the boat to Ponape."

Hendry took his cue quickly enough, and hailed the two other boats.

"Mr. Oliver, and you, Mr. Atkins. My crew have deserted me. I do not
want to resort to force to make them return, but call upon you to come
alongside, and put those three men back into my boat."

Oliver made no answer for the moment. He, Harvey, Atkins, and Huka
talked earnestly together for a few minutes, and then the mate stood up
and spoke.

"The native crew refuse to obey your orders Captain Hendry. They accuse
you and Mr. Chard of murdering three of their shipmates. And I, and
every one in these two boats, know that you and Mr. Chard _did_ murder
them, and I'm not going to make these three men return to you. You
have a good boat, with mast, mainsail and jib, and more provisions than
either the second mate or myself. We have, in this boat of mine, only
six canoe paddles and no sail; the second mate has oars, but no sail.
You could reach Ponape long before we do if you want to leave us in the
lurch."

"And we'll be damned glad to be quit of your company," shouted Atkins.
"Hoist your sail, you goat-faced, sneaking Schneider, and get along!
When we are ashore at Ponapé I'll take it out of _you_ captain, and Mr.
Carr will settle up differences with _you_ Mr. Chard--you black-faced
scoundrel! And, please God, you'll both swing in Fiji after we have done
with you."

Hendry made no answer to the second mate's remarks, which were
accompanied by a considerable number of oaths and much vigorous
blasphemy; for the honest-hearted Atkins detested both his captain and
the supercargo most fervently, as a pair of thoroughpaced villains.

But for very particular reasons Captain Hendry and Mr. Samuel Chard
did not wish to part company with the other two boats, and therefore
Atkins's gibes and threats were passed over in silence, and Oliver
acceded to Hendry's request to let him tow his boat, as with the gentle
breeze, and with the six canoe paddles helping her along, the two could
travel quite as fast as the second mate with his six oars.

And so with a glorious sky of blue above, and over a now smooth and
placid sea, just beginning to ripple under the breath of a gentle
breeze, the boat voyage began.




CHAPTER VII

All that day the three boats made excellent progress, for though the
wind was but light, the sea was very smooth, and a strong northerly
current helped them materially.

As night approached heavy white clouds appeared on the eastern
horizon--the precursors of a series of heavy rain squalls, which in
those latitudes, and at that season of the year--November to March--are
met with almost nightly, especially in the vicinity of the low-lying
islands of the Marshall and Caroline Groups.

Then, as the sun set, the plan of murder that was in the hearts of
the captain and supercargo began to work. During the day they had
been unable to converse freely, for fear of being overheard by the two
firemen, but now the time had come for them to act.

In all the boats' lockers Harvey and Latour had placed a two gallon
wicker-covered jar of rum, and presently Hendry hailed Oliver, whose
boat was still towing astern. It was the first time that he had taken
any notice of the occupants of the other boats since the morning.

"You can give your men some grog if you like, Mr. Oliver," he said, "and
you might as well hail the second mate, and tell him to do the same. I
shall have to cast you off presently, as the first rain squall will
be down on us, and each boat will have to take care of herself. We
are bound to part company until the morning, but I rely on you and the
second mate to keep head to wind during the squalls, and stick to the
course I have given you between times."

"Very well, sir."

Chard took out the rum and filled a half-pint pannikin to the brim.

"Here you are, boys," said he pleasantly to the two firemen, who looked
gloatingly at the liquor; "this will warm you up for the drenching you
will get presently."

The unsuspecting, unfortunate men drank it off eagerly without troubling
to add water, and then Chard, who feared that Hendry sober would be too
great a coward for the murderous work that was to follow, poured out
a stiff dose into another pannikin, and passed it to him. Then he took
some himself.

"Pass along that pannikin, boys," he said; "you might as well have a
skinful while you are about it."

The men obeyed the treacherous scoundrel with alacrity. Like their
shipmates who had perished the previous night, they were thoroughly
intemperate men, and were only too delighted to be able to get drunk so
quickly.

Filling their pannikin, which held a pint, to the brim, Chard poured
half of it into his own empty tin, and then passed them both to the men.
They sat down together on the bottom boards amidships, and then raised
the pannikins.

"Here's good luck to you, Mr. Chard, and you, skipper."

"Good luck, men," replied Hendry, watching them keenly as they swallowed
mouthful after mouthful of the fiery stuff, which from its strength
was known to the crew of the _Motutapu_ as "hell boiled down to a small
half-pint."

Ten minutes passed, and then as the darkness encompassed the three
boats, a sudden puff of wind came from the eastward. Hendry hailed the
mate.

"Here's a squall coming, Mr. Oliver; haul in your painter."

He cast off the tow line, and Chard lowered the mainsail and jib, the
two firemen taking not the slightest notice as they continued to swallow
the rum.

In another five minutes the white wall of the hissing rain squall was
upon them, and everything was hidden from view. Hendry swung his boat's
head round, and let her drive before it. The other boats, he knew, would
keep head on to the squall, and in half an hour he would be a couple of
miles away from them.

The captain's boat drove steadily before the rushing wind, and the
stinging, torrential rain soon covered the bottom boards with half a
foot of water. Chard took the bailer, and began to bail out, taking no
heed of the firemen, who were lying in the water in a drunken stupor,
overcome by the rum.

At last the rain ceased, and the sky cleared as if by magic, though but
few stars were visible. Chard went on bailing steadily. Presently he
rose, came aft, took a seat beside Hendry and looked stealthily into his
face.

"Well?" muttered the captain inquiringly, as if he were afraid that
the two poor wretches who but a few feet away lay like dead men might
awaken.

For the moment Chard made no answer, but putting out his hand he gripped
Hendry by the arm.

"Did you hear what Carr and Atkins said?" he asked in a fierce whisper.

Hendry's sullen eyes gleamed vindictively as he nodded assent.

"Well, they mean it--if we are fools enough to give them the chance of
doing it. And by God, Louis, I tell you that it means hanging for us
both; if not hanging, imprisonment for life in Darlinghurst Gaol.
We shot the niggers, right enough, and every man of the crew of the
_Motutapu_, from Oliver down to Carr's servant, will go dead against
us."

He paused a moment. "This has happened at a bad time for us, Louis. Two
years ago Thorne, the skipper of the _Trustful_, labour schooner, his
mate, second mate, boatswain and four hands were cast for death for
firing into native canoes in the New Hebrides. And although none of them
were hanged they are rotting in prison now, and will die in prison."

"I know," answered the captain in a whisper. "Thorne was reprieved and
got a life-sentence, the other chaps got twenty-one years."

"And I tell you, Louis, that if you and I face a jury we shall stand a
worse chance than Jim Thorne and his crowd did. The whole crew will go
dead against us, and swear there was no attempt to mutiny--that girl and
her servant too, and Jessop as well. Jessop would give us away in any
case over the cause of the fire, if he said nothing else. It's their
lives or ours."

"What is it to be?" muttered Hendry, drawing the steer oar inboard, and
putting his eager, cruel eyes close to Chard's face.

"This is what it must be. You and I, Louis, will be _'the only survivors
of the "Motutapu" which took fire at sea. All hands escaped in the
three boats, but only the captain's boat, containing himself and the
supercargo, succeeded in reaching Ponapé after terrible hardships.
The mate's and second mate's boats, with all their occupants, have
undoubtedly been lost._' That is what the newspapers will say, Louis,
and it will be quite true, as all those in the other boats will perish.
By sunrise tomorrow none of the ship's company but you and I must be
alive."

"How are we going to do it?"

"Wait till nearly daylight, and then we can get within range of them,
and pick them off one by one, if there is a good breeze. If there is no
wind and we cannot keep going, we must put it off for the time.
There's two hundred and thirty Winchester and Snider cartridges in that
handkerchief--I've counted them--and we can make short work of them."

"What about these fellows?" said Hendry, inclining his head towards the
drunken firemen.

"They go first. They must go overboard in the next squall, which will be
upon us in a few minutes. Take another drink, Louis, and don't shake
so, or--" and Chard grasped Hendry by the collar and spoke with sudden
fury--"or by God, I'll settle _you_ first, and do the whole thing
myself!"

"I'll do it, Sam; I'll do it."

Again the hissing rain and the hum of the squall was upon them as the
ocean was blotted out from view.

"Now," said Chard--"quick." They sprang forward together, lifted the
unconscious men one by one, and threw them over the side.

"Run up the jib," said Hendry hoarsely; "let us get further away."

"You rotten-hearted Dutch cur," and Chard seized the captain by the
beard with his left hand and clenched his right threateningly, "brace
yourself up, or I'll ring your neck like a fowl's, and send you
overboard after them. Think of your wife and family--and of the
hangman's noose dangling between you and them."

*****

Throughout the night the rain squalls swept the ocean at almost hourly
intervals, with more or less violence, but were never of long enough
duration to raise more than a short, lumpy sea, which quickly subsided.

About an hour before dawn, however, a more than usually heavy bank
formed to windward, and Harvey, with Huka and the other natives, could
see that there was more wind in it than would be safe for the mate's
boat, which was deep in the water, owing to the number of people in her.
Oliver agreed with them that they should tranship three or four of their
number into the second mate's boat.

"Better be sure than sorry, Carr," he said; "can any one of you see Mr.
Atkin's boat?"

Nothing could be seen or heard of her until a boat lantern was hoisted
on an oar by Oliver, and a few seconds after was responded to by Atkins
soaking a piece of woollen cloth in rum, wrapping it round the point of
a boathook, and setting it alight. Its flash revealed him half a mile
away to leeward. Hendry and Chard, who by this time were quite three
miles distant, saw the blazing light, and the latter wondered what it
meant.

"They have parted company, I think," said Hendry, "and as the mate's
boat is too deep I daresay he wants Atkins to take some of his people
before this big squall comes down. It's going to be an ugly fellow
this, and we'll have to drive again. I wish it would swamp 'em both. The
sharks would save us a lot of trouble then."

As quickly as possible Oliver paddled down to Atkins, and Harvey,
Latour, Huka, and another native got into the second mate's boat.

"We'll have to run before this, Atkins," said the mate, alluding to the
approaching squall; "it will last a couple of hours or more by the look
of it. Are you very wet, Miss Remington?"

"Very, Mr. Oliver," answered the girl, with a laugh; "but I don't mind
it a bit, as the rain is not cold. I am too old a 'sailor man' to mind
a wetting. Are you all quite well? I can't see your face, Mr. Studdert,
nor yours, Mr. Morrison, it is so dark. Oh, Mr. Studdert, I wish I had
one of your cigarettes to smoke."

"I wish I had one to give you, miss," answered the pale-faced young
engineer. "A pipe is no to my liking, but I fear me I'll have to tackle
one in the morning."

Alas, poor Studdert, little did he know that the morning, now so near,
was to be his last.

"Goodbye for the present, Miss Remington," called out Oliver as the
boats again separated. "Take good care of her, Harvey, and of yoursels
too. He'll be getting an attack of the shakes in the morning, miss,
after all this wetting. Give him plenty of rum, my dear, whether he
likes it or not. You're a plucky little lady, and next to having you in
my own boat I am glad to see you with Atkins. Cheer up, lads, one and
all; we'll have the sun out in another hour."

Half an hour later both boats were driving before the fury of the
squall, and the crews had to keep constantly bailing, for this time the
violence of the wind was such that, despite the most careful steering
of the two officers, large bodies of water came over amidships, and
threatened to swamp the boats.

When dawn came the sky was again as clear as it had been on the previous
morning, and Atkins stood up and looked for the captain's and mate's
boats.

"There they are, Harvey," and he pointed to the westward; "the skipper
is under sail, and making back towards Oliver. Well, that's one thing
about him, dog as he is--he's a thorough sailor man, and is standing
back to take Oliver in tow again."

At this time the captain's boat was about three miles distant from that
of the second mate, and Oliver's between the two, but much nearer to
Hendry and Chard's than to Atkins's. She was under both mainsail and
jib, and as the sea was again very smooth was slipping through the water
very quickly under a now steady breeze, as she stood towards the mate's
boat.

As the red sun burst from the ocean Atkins told the crew to cease
pulling for a few minutes and get something to eat. The men were all in
good humour, though they yet meant to wreak their vengeance on Chard and
Hendry for the murder of their shipmates. The wounded man who had been
put in Oliver's boat they knew had also died, and this had still further
inflamed them. But for the present they said nothing, but ate their
biscuit and tinned beef in cheerful silence, after waiting for Tessa
and Maoni to begin. Huka, their recognised leader, and Malua, Harvey's
servant, had both assured them that the captain and Chard would be
brought to punishment, but this assurance was not satisfactory to the
majority of them. One of them, the big Manhikian who had helped Latour
to rescue Tessa and Maoni from their cabin, was a brother of the man who
had just died from his wounds in Oliver's boat, and he had, during the
night, promised his shipmates to take his own and give them their _utu_
(revenge) before the boats reached Ponapé.

"Turn to again, boys," said Atkins presently, as soon as the men had
satisfied their hunger; "we must catch up to the others now."

The natives bent to their oars again, and sent the boat along at a great
rate, when suddenly Harvey heard the sound of firearms. He stood up and
looked ahead.

"Good God!" he cried, "look there, Atkins! The captain and Chard are
firing into Oliver's boat!"

Even as he spoke the repeated crackling of Winchester rifles could be
heard, and the mate's boat seemed to be in great confusion, and her
occupants were paddling away from their assailants, who, however, were
following them up closely at a distance of about fifty yards.

"Pull, men, pull! For God's sake, lay into it! The captain and firemen
are murdering Mr. Oliver and his party."

The seamen uttered a shout of rage, and made the boat leap through the
water as now, in addition to the sharp crackle of the Winchesters, they
heard the heavier report of a Snider, and Harvey, jumping up on the
after whaleback, and steadying himself with one hand on Atkins's
shoulder, saw that only two or three of Oliver's crew were now
paddling--the rest had been shot down.

"We'll never get there in time, Atkins," he cried, "unless we can hit
those who are firing. It's Chard and the skipper! Let Huka steer."

In a few seconds the change was effected. Huka took the steer-oar,
two of the after-oars were double-banked, and Atkins and Harvey sprang
forward with their Sniders, and began firing at the captain's boat,
though at a range which gave them little chance of hitting her. Every
moment, however, the distance was decreasing, and the two men fired
steadily and carefully. But the Winchesters still cracked for another
five minutes. Then the fire from the captain's boat ceased as a shot
from Atkins's rifle smashed into her amidships. She was suddenly put
before the wind, and then Chard came aft, and began firing at the
approaching boat with his Snider, in the hope of disabling her, so that
he and his fellow-murderer (now that their plan of utterly destroying
all the occupants of both boats had been so unexpectedly frustrated)
might escape.

But the work of slaughter in which he had just been engaged and the
rolling of the boat, together with the continuous hum of bullets
overhead, made his aim wild, and neither the second mate's boat nor any
of its people were hit, and she swept along to the rescue.




CHAPTER VIII

An exclamation of horror burst from Harvey as the boat, with its panting
crew, dashed up alongside that of the chief mate.

"For God's sake, Tessa, do not look!" he cried hoarsely.

For the half-sunken boat was a shambles, and of her nine occupants
only three were alive--the second steward Jessop, Morrison, and Oliver
himself. The latter lay in the stern sheets with a bullet hole through
his chest, and a smashed hip; he had but just time to raise his hand in
mute farewell to Harvey and Atkins, and then breathed his last.

Morrison, whose spine was broken by a Winchester bullet, but who was
perfectly conscious, was at once lifted out and placed in Atkins's boat,
and Tessa, with the tears streaming down her pale face, and trying hard
to restrain her sobs, pillowed his old, grey head upon Atkins's coat.
Then Jessop, who was evidently still in agony from his broken ribs,
one of which, so Morrison said in a faint voice, had, he thought, been
driven into his lungs, was placed beside him.

Poor Studdert and the five native seamen were dead, some of them having
received as many as five or six bullet wounds. Studdert himself had been
shot through the head, and lay for'ard with his pale face upturned to
the sky, and his eyes closed as if in a peaceful sleep.

The boat had been pierced in several places below the water-line by
Snider bullets, and by the time Morrison and Jessop had been removed,
and Harvey and Atkins had satisfied themselves that the other seven men
in her were dead, she was nearly full of water--not the clear, bright
water of the ocean alone, but water deeply stained with the blood of the
murdered men.

"We must cast off," said Atkins in a low voice, "we can do no more."

As he spoke a bullet from Chard's Snider struck the water about thirty
yards away, and springing up, he seized his own rifle again.

Huka placed his hand on the officer's arm, and then turned to Harvey
and spoke in Samoan, gravely and with solemn emphasis, though his brown
cheeks were wetted with tears.

"Let us take no heed of the bullets that come. Here be six dead men
whose souls have gone to God for judgment. Let us pray for them."

Atkins, his blazing eyes fixed on the captain's boat, from which every
few seconds a bullet came humming overhead, or striking the water within
a few yards, laid down the rifle and took off his cap.

"Go ahead, Huka. You're a better Christian than me. Sling out a prayer
for these poor chaps as quick as you can. We can't bury them in a
decent, shipshape fashion."

Two men stepped into the sinking, shot-torn boat, and then Huka stood
up amidships among his comrades, with bowed head, and his hands crossed
upon his great naked chest. He prayed in Samoan.

"_O Jehovah, who holdeth the great sea in the hollow of Thy hand, we
commit to its depths these the bodies of our shipmates who have been
slain. O Father', most just and most merciful, let them become of Thy
kingdom. Amen_."

Then, one by one, the bodies of Studdert and of the five natives were
dropped overboard by the two seamen as reverently as circumstances
permitted, and in silence broken only by the suppressed sobbing of the
two girls.

Such stores as were in poor Oliver's boat were next taken out, and then
the wrecked and bloodstained craft was cast adrift and left to fill.

As the second mate grasped the haft of the steer-oar again another shot
from the captain's boat fell some distance ahead.

"He's running away from us as fast as he can," said Harvey; "look, he's
hauled up a couple of points!"

"Ay, so he has. And our short Sniders won't carry any further than the
one he's firing with, so we have no chance of hitting him, I'm afraid.
However, just let us try. How many Sniders have we?"

"Seven."

"Avast pulling, lads. We'll give him a parting shot together. Maybe we
might drop a bullet into him. Get out the other five Sniders, Harvey;
the Winchesters are no use at such a range."

The boat was swung broadside on, and the two white men and five natives
fired a volley together. Tessa stood up on the after-thwart, and watched
through Atkin's glasses; the heavy bullets all fell short.

"Never mind, lads," said Atkins. "God Almighty ain't going to let those
two men escape. Now, Harvey, what about ourselves? What is it to be?
Ponape, or the nearest land?"

"The nearest land, tor Gawd's sake," sobbed Jessop. "I ain't got long to
live, and for Christ's sake don't chuck me overboard to be chawed up by
the sharks like a piece o' dead meat."

"Man," said a faint voice beside him, "ye're ower particular, I'm
thinking. And it would be a verra hungry shark that wad hae the
indecency to eat such a puir chicken-hearted creature as yourself, ye
miserable cur! Are ye no ashamed to be whining before the two lasses?"

It was the dying Morrison who spoke. Tessa bent over him. "Do not be
angry with him," she whispered, "he is in great agony."

"Ay, I hae no doubt he's in verra great pain; but ye see, my dear, I'm
auld and crotchety, and the creature's verra annoying wi' his whining
and moaning and fearsome blasphemy."

Tessa, who knew as well as the brave old man knew himself that he was
dying, placed her soft hand on his rugged brow in silent sympathy; he
looked up at her with a cheerful smile.

Harvey and Atkins consulted. Ponapé was between four and five hundred
miles distant, a long voyage for a deeply-laden boat without a sail. Two
hundred miles to the westward was Pikirami Atoll (the "Greenwich Island"
of the charts), and a hundred and eighty miles north of that was Nukuor,
the most southerly of the vast archipelago of the Caroline Islands.

"I don't know what is best for us to do, Atkins," said the trader. "At
this time of the year we can count upon every night being such as it was
last night, perhaps a great deal worse; and we must either turn tail
to the squalls or put out a sea anchor and drift. This means that
we'll make no headway at all at night time, and be set steadily to the
westward, and out of our course for Ponapé. If we had a sail it would
be right enough, as we could lay up for there--within a couple of points
anyway. But we have no sail, and willing as the men are to pull, it will
be terribly exhausting."

Atkins nodded. "Just so, Mr. Carr. If, as you say, we had a sail it
would be different. Without one it may take us a fortnight or more to
get to Ponapé."

"Quite. Now on the other hand, Pikirami Lagoon lies less than a hundred
and fifty miles dead to leeward of us. It is low, but I don't think we
shall miss it if we steer W. by S., as on the south end there is a coral
mound about a hundred feet high. If we do miss it we can steer south for
New Ireland; we can't miss _that_ if we tried to, and would get there
sooner than we could reach Ponapé. Then there is another advantage in
our making for Pikirami--we can run before the night squalls, and the
harder they blow the better it will be for us--we'll get there all the
sooner."

Then Harvey went on to say that at Piki-rami--which he knew well--they
would meet with a friendly reception from the few natives who inhabited
two islets out of the thirty which formed the atoll. Twice every year
the place was visited by a small German trading schooner from Blanche
Bay, in New Britain, and possibly, he thought, they might either find
her there loading a cargo of copra; or, if not, they could wait for her.
In the latter case he would on Tessa's behalf charter the vessel to take
them all to Ponapé, for her father's name and credit were well known
from one end of the Pacific to the other, and there would be no
difficulty in making terms with the master.

Atkins agreed willingly to Harvey's suggestions, for he well knew the
great risks that would attend the attempt to reach Ponapé under such
circumstances as were theirs; and the native crew, much as they wished
to pursue the captain and wreak their vengeance upon him and the
supercargo, readily acquiesced in Harvey's plan of steering for Pikirami
Lagoon in when he pointed out to them the difficulties and dangers that
lay before them by making for Ponapé, or, indeed, any other island of
the Caroline Group.

"And those men there," said Harvey, speaking in Samoan, and pointing
to the captain's boat, which was now more than a mile distant, "cannot
escape punishment for their crimes; for is not this the word of God:
'Thou shalt do no murder'? And those two men have done murder, and God
will call them to account."

Roka, the big Manhikian native, whose brother had been killed, answered
for himself and his comrades in the same tongue.

"Ay, that is true. But yet it is hard that I, whose brother's blood is
before my eyes and the smell of it in my nostrils, cannot see these men
die. How can we tell, master, that men will judge them for their crimes?
They are sailing away, and may reach some country far distant, and so be
safe."

Harvey partly assented. "They may escape for a time, Roka, but not for
long. Rest assured of that."

Then a tot of rum was served out to each man, and the boat's head put
W. by S. for Pikirami Lagoon, while Tessa and Maoni set to work under
Atkins's directions to sew together some odd pieces of calico and navy
blue print, which Latour the steward had fortunately thrust into the
sack containing the firearms. When it was completed it made a fairly
sized squaresail, which could always be used during light winds.

The captain's boat had disappeared from view, when Jessop the second
steward beckoned to Harvey to come to him.

"Ask the young lady to go for'ard, mister, will you?" he said, turning
his haggard eyes upon the trader's face. "I feel as 'ow I'm goin', an' I
said I would make a clean breast of it. But I don't want 'er to 'ear; do
ye twig, mister, though I'll tell you and Mr. Hatkins?"

Harvey nodded, and whispered to Tessa to go for'ard. "The poor little
beggar is dying, Tessa, and has something to tell me."

Tessa and Maoni went for'ard and sat down under the shade of the
newly-made mainsail, which was hoisted upon an oar with a bamboo yard.
There they were quite out of hearing of the vile confession of Jessop's
complicity with Chard and the captain made by the wretched man, who
was now sinking fast, and knew that his hours were numbered, for, as
Morrison had surmised, one of his lungs was fatally injured. And when he
had finished the low-spoken tale of his villainy even the rough-natured
Atkins was filled with pity when he saw how the poor wretch was
suffering, both physically and mentally.

"You've done right, Jessop, in telling us this; it'll be all the better
for you when you have to stand before the Almighty, won't it, Mr. Carr?"

"Yes, indeed, Jessop," said Harvey kindly; "and I wish we could do
something to alleviate your pain, poor fellow!"

"Never mind, sir. You're a gent if ever there was one, and you 'as taken
away a lot o' the pain I've 'ad in me 'eart by forgivin' me. And perhaps
the young lady will just let me tell 'er I'm sorry, and give me 'er 'and
before I go."

Atkins beckoned to Tessa, who came quickly aft and knelt beside the
dying man, who looked into her soft, sympathetic face longingly yet
fearfully.

"I'm a bad lot, miss, as Mr. Carr will tell you when I'm dead. It was
me that give you and Monny the drugged coffee, and I want you to forgive
me, an' give me your 'and."

Tessa looked wonderingly at Harvey, who bent towards her and whispered a
few words. In an instant she took Jessop's hand between both of hers.

"Poor Jessop," she said softly, "I forgive you freely, and I do hope you
will get better soon."

He looked at her with dimmed, wistful eyes. "Thank you, miss. You're
very kind to a cove like me. Will you 'old me 'and a bit longer,
please."

Early in the afternoon, as the boat slipped lazily over the gentle ocean
swell, he died. And though Atkins and Harvey would have liked to have
acceded to his last wishes to be buried on shore, stern necessity
forbade them so doing, for they knew not how long it would be ere they
reached Pikirami; and so at sunset his body was consigned to the deep.

*****

For the rest of that day, and during the night, when the white rain
squalls came with a droning, angry hum from the eastward and drenched
the people with a furious downpour, flattening the heaving swell with
its weight, the boat kept steadily on her course; and, but for the
shadow of death which hourly grew darker over poor Morrison, the
voyagers would have talked and laughed and made light of their sodden
and miserable surroundings. Morrison himself was the most cheerful man
in the boat, and when Atkins and Harvey rigged an oilskin coat over him
to keep the rain from his face at least he protested as vigorously as
he could, saying that he did not mind the rain a bit, and urging them
to use it to protect "the two lassies" from the blinding and deafening
downpour.

*****

Dawn at last.

The misty sea haze lifted and scattered before the first breath of the
gentle breeze, a blood-red sun leapt from the shimmering water-line to
windward; a frigate bird and his mate swept swiftly through the air
from the westward to view the dark spot upon the ocean two thousand feet
below, and day had come again.

Tessa had the engineer's old, grey head pillowed on her lap. Harvey held
his right hand, and Atkins, who knew that the end was near, had taken
off his soddened cap, and bent his face low over the haft of the
steer-oar.

"Do you feel any pain, Mr. Morrison?" asked Tessa, as she stroked the
old man's face, and tried to hide her tears.

"Well, I wouldna be for saying no, and I wouldna be for saying yes, my
dearie," replied the brave old fellow; "I'm no complaining aboot mysel',
but I'd like to see ye 'saft and warm,' as we Scots say, instead of
sitting here wi' my auld, greasy head in your lap, and your ain puir
body shivering wi' cauld. Gie me your hand, Harvey Carr... and yours
too, Miss Remington.... May God guide ye both together; and you too,
Atkins, for ye are a guid sailor man, and a honest one, too. And if ye
can get to this lagoon in time--ye know what I mean--ye'll pit my auld
bones under God's earth and no cast me overboard?"

Atkins was beside him in a moment. "Brace up, Morrison, old man, you're
a long way off dead yet," he said, with rough sympathy.

"Nay, Atkins, I'm verra near... verra near. But I hae no fear. I'm no
afraid of what is to come; because I hae a clean sheet o' my life to
show to the Almighty--I'm no like that puir devil Jessop. Harvey man,
listen to me. Long, long ago, when I was a bairn at my mother's knee, I
read a vairse of poetry which has never come to my mind till now, when
I'm verra near my Maker, I canna repeat the exact words, but I think it
goes like this," he whispered,

      "'He who, from zone to zone,
         Guides o'er the trackless main the sea-bird's flight,
      In the long way that I must tread alone
         Will guide my steps aright.'"

"May God guide us all as He guides the sea-bird, and as He has guided
you," said Tessa sobbingly, as she pressed her lips to his cheek.

Morrison took her hand and held it tightly,

"God help and bless ye, lassie. May ye and Harvey never see the shadow
of a sorrow in your lives. Atkins, ye'll tak' guid care to remember that
there is a hundred and sixty-three pounds due to me frae Hillingdon and
MacFreeland, and that if ye do not care to take it yoursel', it must go
to auld John Cameron, the sailors' parson in Sydney. Ye hae ony amount
of witnesses to hear what I'm now telling ye. I'm no for being long wi'
ye, and I dinna want yoursel' nor auld Jock Cameron to be robbed."

"I'll see that the old parson gets it, Morrison," said Atkins huskily;
"he'll do more good with it than a man like me."

"Man," said the old engineer, as he lifted his kindly grey eyes to the
second mate, "ye're welcome to it. I wish it were a thousand, for ye're
a grand sailor man, wi' a big heart, and maybe ye hae some good woman
waiting for ye; and a hunner and sixty pound is no sma' help to----"

His voice failed, but his lips were smiling still as he gave his last
sigh; and then his head lay still in Tessa's arms.




CHAPTER IX

All that day over a gently heaving sea the boat sped steadily onward
before the soft breath of the dying trade wind, and when night fell
Harvey and Atkins reckoned that they could not be more than twenty miles
from Pikirami. About midnight, therefore, the sail was lowered, and the
boat allowed to drift, as otherwise she might have run past the island
in the darkness. Two of the natives were placed on the look-out for
indications of the land, and the rest of the people, except Harvey, laid
down and slept, for after one or two rain squalls early in the evening
the night had turned out fine and dry.

Poor Morrison's body had been covered up and placed under the for'ard
thwarts; amidships lay Atkins, who had fallen asleep with his pipe in
his mouth and his head pillowed on the naked chest of one of the native
sailors; aft, in the stern sheets, Tessa and Maoni slept with their arms
around each other, Tessa's pale cheek lying upon the soft, rounded bosom
of the native girl. Still further aft, on the whale-back, Harvey sat,
cross-legged, contentedly smoking a stumpy clay pipe lent to him by
Huka, and looking, now at the glorious, myriad-starred sky above, and
now at the beautiful face just beneath him, and musing upon the events
of the past few days. Then as his eye rested for a moment or two on the
stiffened form of the dead engineer, his face hardened, and he thought
of Chard and the captain. Where were they now? Making for Ponapé,
no doubt, with all possible speed, so that they might escape in some
passing whale-ship or vessel bound China-wards. But where could they
go? What civilised country would afford protection to such fiendish
and cruel murderers? Neither of them dare dream of ever putting foot on
Australian soil again if a single one of the survivors of the _Motutapu_
reached there before them. Then he thought of Hendry's wife and three
fair daughters.

"Poor things," he muttered, "the story of their father's crime will
break their hearts, and make life desolate to them. Better for them if
the Almighty, in His mercy, took them before this frightful tale is told
to wreck their lives."

An hour passed, and then Roka, who was one of the look-outs, came aft,
stepping softly so as not to awaken the sleepers.

"What is it, Roka?"

"Listen," whispered the native, "dost hear the call of the _kanapu_?
There be many of them about us in the air; so this land of Pikirami must
be near."

Harvey nodded and listened, and though his ear was not so quick as that
of the sailor, he soon caught the low, hoarse notes of the _kanapu_,
a large bird of the booby species, which among the islands of the
North-West Pacific fishes at night-time and sleeps most of the day; its
principal food being flying-fish and _atulti_ or young bonito, which,
always swimming on the surface, fall an easy prey to the keen-eyed,
sharp, blue-beaked bird.

"Ay, Roka," said the trader, "we be near the land, for the _kanapu_
never wandereth far from the shore."

Low as he spoke, Tessa heard him, for she slumbered but lightly. She
rose and sat up, deftly winding her loosened hair about her head.

"Is it land, Harvey?"

"Land is near, Tessa. We can hear the _kanapu_ calling to each other."

"I am so glad, Harvey; for it would be terribly hard upon the men if we
missed Pikirami and had to make for New Britain."

"Ay, it would indeed. So far we have been very lucky, however, yet, even
if we had missed it, we should have no cause to fear. We have a fine
boat, provisions and water, a good crew, and one of the best sailor men
that ever trod a deck in command," and he pointed to the sleeping second
mate.

Then as they sat together, listening to the cries of the sea-birds, and
waiting for the dawn, Harvey re-told to Tessa, for Roka's benefit, the
story of that dreadful boat voyage sixteen years before, in which his
father and five others had perished from hunger and thirst.

"I was but fourteen years of age then, and people wondered how a boy
like me survived when strong men had died. They did not know that every
one of those thirteen men, unasked by my father, had put aside some
portion of their miserable allowance for me, and I, God forgive me for
doing so, took it. One man, a big Norwegian, was so fearful of going mad
with the agonies of thirst, that he knelt down and offered up a prayer,
then he shook hands with us all--my father was already dead--and jumped
overboard. We were all too weak to try and save him. And less than an
hour afterwards God's rain came, as my father had said it would come
just before he died."

Atkins, with a last mighty snore, awoke, sat up, and filled his pipe
again.

"What, awake, miss!" he said with rough good-humour to Tessa. "How goes
it, Mr. Carr?"

"Bully, old man. We're near the land; we can hear some _kanapu_ about
us, so we can't be more than five or six miles away."

"The land is there," said Roka to Harvey, pointing to a dark shadow
abeam of the boat, "and we could see it but for the rain-clouds which
hide it from us."

Harvey grasped the steer oar, the crew were aroused, and in another few
minutes the boat was under way again, heading for the sombre cloud to
the westward under which Roka said the land lay.

And he was right. For as the dawn broke there came to the listening ears
in the boat the low hum of the surf upon the coral reef; and then,
as the rain-cloud dissolved and vanished to leeward, a long line of
coco-palms stood up from the sea three miles away, and the bright golden
rays of the rising sun shone upon a beach of snow-white sand, between
which and the curling breakers that fell upon the barrier reef there lay
a belt of pale green water as smooth as a mountain lake.

"Up with the sail, boys," cried Harvey, with sparkling eyes, turning to
Atkins as he spoke; "the passage into the lagoon is on the south side,
just round that high mound of coral, and the native village is on the
first islet on this side of the passage. Keep her going, my lads; we
shall be drinking young coconuts and stretching our legs in another half
an hour."

The sail was hoisted, and, with five oars assisting, the boat was kept
away two or three points, till the entrance to the lagoon was opened
out, and the weary voyagers saw before them a scene of quiet beauty
and repose that filled their hearts with thankfulness. Nestling under
a grove of coco-palms was a village of not more than a dozen thatched
houses, whose people had but just awakened to another day of easy
labour--labour that was never a task. As Harvey steered the boat in
between the coral walls of the narrow passage, two or three thin columns
of pale blue smoke ascended from the palm grove, and presently some
women and children, clad only in their thick girdles of grass, came out
from the houses and walked towards the beach for their morning bathe.
Then the _click-clack_ of the oars in the rowlocks made them look
seaward, to utter a scream of astonishment at the strange sight of the
crowded boat so suddenly appearing before them. In another ten seconds
every man, woman, and child in the village--about fifty people all
told--were clustered together on the beach, shouting and gesticulating
in the most frantic excitement, some of the men rushing into the water,
and calling out to the white men to steer clear of several submerged
coral boulders which lay directly in the boat's track.

But their astonishment was intensified when Harvey answered them in
their own tongue.

"I thank ye, friends, but I have been to this land of thine many times.
Have ye all forgotten me so soon?"

That they had not forgotten was quickly evident, for his name was
shouted again and again with eager, welcoming cries as the boat was
run up on to the hard, white sand of the shining beach, and he, Atkins,
Tessa, and their companions were literally pounced upon by the delighted
people and carried up to the headman's house. Ten minutes later every
family was busy preparing food for their unexpected visitors; and pigs,
fowls, and ducks were being slaughtered throughout the islet, whilst
Tessa and her faithful Maoni were simply overwhelmed with caresses from
the women and children, who were anxious to hear the story of their
adventures from the time of the burning of the steamer to the moment of
their arrival in the lagoon.

Calling the head-man apart Harvey pointed to the body of Morrison, which
was then being carried up from the boat.

"Ere we eat and drink, let us think of the dead," he said.

The kindly-hearted and sympathetic natives at once set to work to dig
out a grave beneath a wide-spreading pandanus palm, which grew on the
side of the coral mound overlooking the waters of the placid lagoon;
whilst some of the women brought Atkins and Harvey clean new mats to
serve as a shroud for their dead shipmate.

Then mustering the hands together, Atkins, with Harvey, Roka, and Huka,
carried the body to its last resting-place, and Huka, as Latour the
steward dropped a handful of the sandy soil into the grave, prayed as he
had prayed over the bodies of those who had been buried at sea--simply,
yet touchingly--and then the party returned along the narrow palm-shaded
path to the village.

Much to Harvey's satisfaction, the head-man informed him that a trading
schooner was expected to reach Pikirami within two or three weeks, as
nearly six months had passed since her last visit, and she always came
twice a year.

"That will suit us well," said Harvey to Tessa and Atkins, as they
sat in the head-man's cool, shady house and ate the food that had been
brought to them. "We can well wait here for two or three weeks; and the
skipper of the _Sikiana_ will be glad enough to earn five or six hundred
dollars by giving us a passage to Ponapé. I know him very well; he's
a decent little Dutchman named Westphalen, who has sailed so long in
English and American ships that he's civilised. He was with me, Tessa,
when I was sailing the _Belle Brandon_ for your father."

Soon after noon the crew, after having had a good rest, set to work to
overhaul the boat in a large canoe shed, for quite possibly they
might have to put to sea in her again, if anything should prevent the
_Sikiana_ from calling at the island in a reasonable time.




CHAPTER X

That night as the second mate and his companions were sleeping
peacefully under the thatched roofs of the little native village, with
nought to disturb their slumbers but the gentle lapping of the waters
of the lagoon on the sandy beach, and the ceaseless call of the reef
beyond, Hendry and his companion in crime were sitting in their boat
talking earnestly.

The captain was steering; Chard sat on the after-thwart, facing him.

"I tell you that I don't care much what we do, Louis," said the
supercargo, with a reckless laugh, as he looked into the captain's
sullen face. "We've made a damned mess of it, and I don't see how we are
to get out of it by going to Ponapé."

"Then what are we to do?" asked Hendry in a curious, husky voice, for
Chard's mocking, careless manner filled him with a savage hatred, which
only his fear of the man made him restrain.

"Let us talk it over quietly, Louis. But take a drink first," and
he handed the captain some rum-and-water. Hendry drank it in gloomy
silence, and waited till the supercargo had taken some himself.

"Now, Louis, here is the position. We _can't_ go to Ponapé, for Atkins
will very likely get there as soon as we could, for with light winds
such as we have had to-day he would soon pass us with six oars, deep as
he is in the water. And even if we got there a week before him, we might
not find a ship bound to Sydney or anywhere else."

"But there is a chance of finding one."

"True, there _is_ a chance. But there is also a chance of Atkins's boat
being picked up at sea this very day, or the next, or a month hence, and
he and his crowd reaching Sydney long before us. And _I_ don't want to
run my neck into the noose that will be waiting there. Neither do you, I
suppose?"

"Why in the name of hell do you keep on talking about _that?_" burst
from the captain; "don't I know it as well as you?"

"Very well, I won't allude to such an unpleasant possibility--I _should_
say certainty--again," replied Chard coolly. "But as I was saying, the
chances are against us. If we kept on for Ponapé we should either be
collared the moment we put foot ashore, or before we get away from
there to China or any other place, for Atkins is bound to turn up there,
unless, by a stroke of good luck for us, he meets with bad weather, and
they all go to the bottom. That's one chance in our favour."

"His boat is certainly very deep," said Hendry musingly, as he nervously
stroked his long beard.

"She is; but then she has a kanaka crew, and I never yet heard of a
drowned kanaka, any more than I've heard of a dead donkey. With a
white crew she would stand to run some heavy risks in bad weather, with
kanakas she'd keep afloat anyhow."

Hendry uttered an oath, and tugged at his beard savagely. "Go on, go on,
then. Don't keep harping on the pros and cons."

"Take another drink, man. Don't behave like a fretful child. Curse it
all! To think of us being euchred so easily by Carr and Atkins! Why,
they must have half a boat load of Winchester and Sniders, judging by
the way they were firing.... There, drink that, Louis. Oh, if we had
had but a couple of those long trade Sniders out of the trade-room!" He
struck his clenched fist upon the thwart. "We could have kept our own
distance from the second mate, and finished him and his crowd as easily
as we did the others."

"Well, we didn't have them," said the captain gloomily; "and if we had
thought of getting them, we were neither of us able to stand on our feet
after the mauling we got on board."

Chard drank some more rum, and went on smoking in silence for a few
moments; then he resumed:

"You have a wife and family and property in Sydney, and I feel sorry
for you, Louis, by God, I do. But for you to think of going there again
means certain death, as certain for you as it is for me. But this is
what we _can_ do. We have a good boat, and well found, and can steer
for the Admiralty Group, where we are dead sure to meet with some of the
sperm whalers. From there we can get a passage to Manila, and at Manila
you can write to your wife and fix up your future. Get her to sell your
house and property quietly, and come and join you there. I daresay," he
laughed mockingly, "she'll know by the time she gets your letter that
you're not likely to go to Sydney to bring her. And then of course none
of her and your friends will think it strange that she should leave
Sydney, where your name and mine will be pretty notorious. There's two
Dutch mail boats running to Manila from Sydney--the _Atjeh_ and the
_Generaal Pel_. In six months' time, after Atkins and Carr get to
Sydney, the _Motutapu_ affair will be forgotten, and you and your family
can settle down under a new name in some other part of the world. That
is what I mean to do, anyway."

Hendry listened with the closest attention, and something like a sigh
escaped from his over-burdened bosom. "I suppose it's the best thing,
Sam."

"It is the _only_ thing."

The captain bent down and looked at the compass and thought for a
moment.

"About S.W. will be the course for tonight. To-morrow I can tell better
when I get the sun and a look at the chart. Anyway, S.W. is within a
point or less of a good course for the Admiralty Group."

He wore the boat's head round, as Chard eased off the main-sheet in
silence, and for the rest of the night they took turn and turn about at
the steer-oar.

In the morning a light breeze set in, and the whaleboat slipped over the
sunlit sea like a snow-white bird, with the water bubbling and hissing
under her clean-cut stem. Then Hendry examined his chart.

"We'll sight nothing between here and the Admiralty Group, except
Greenwich Island, which is right athwart our course."

"Do you know it?"

"No; but I've heard that there is a passage into the lagoon. We might
put in and spell there for a day or two; or, if we don't go inside, we
could land anywhere on one of the lee-side islands, and get some young
coconuts and a turtle or two."

"Any natives there?"

"Not any, as far as I know, though I've heard that there were a few
there about twenty years ago. I expect they have either died out or
emigrated to the northward. And if there are any there, and they don't
want us to land, we can go on and leave them alone. We have plenty of
provisions for a month, and will get more water than we want every night
as long as we are in this cursed rainy belt. What we do want is wind.
This breeze has no heart in it, and it looks like a calm before noon, or
else it will haul round to the wrong quarter."

His former surmise proved correct, for about midday the boat was
becalmed on an oily, steamy sea under a fierce, brazen sun. This lasted
for the remainder of the day, and then was followed by the usual squally
night.

And so for three days they sailed, making but little progress during the
daytime, for the wind was light and baffling, but doing much better at
night.

On the evening of the third day they sighted the northernmost islet
of Pikirami lagoon, and stood by under its lee till daylight, little
dreaming that those whose life-blood they would so eagerly have shed
were sleeping calmly and peacefully in the native village fifteen miles
away.

With the dawn came a sudden terrific downpour of rain, which lasted
but for a few minutes, and both Chard and Hendry knew, from their own
experience and from the appearance of the sky, that such outbursts
were likely to continue for at least five or six days, with but brief
intervals of cessation.

"We might as well get ashore somewhere about here," said Hendry; "this
is the tail-end of the rainy season, and we can expect heavy rain and
nasty squalls for a week at least. It's come on a bit earlier than I
expected, and I think we'll be better ashore than boxing about at sea.
Can you see the land to the south'ard?"

Chard stood up and shielded his eyes from the still falling rain, but it
was too thick for him to discern anything but the misty outline of the
palm-fringed shore immediately near them.

"We'll wait a bit till it's a little clearer, and then we'll run in over
the reef just abreast of us," said Hendry; "it's about high water,
and as there is no surf we can cross over into the lagoon without any
trouble, and pick out a camping-place somewhere on the inner beach."

They lowered the sail and mast, took out their oars, and waited till
they could see clearly before them. A few minutes later they were
pulling over the reef, on which there was no break, and in another
half a mile they reached the shore of the most northern of the chain of
islets encompassing the lagoon, and made the boat's painter fast to the
serried roots of a pandanus palm growing at the edge of the water.

Then they sought rest and shelter from the next downpour beneath the
overhanging summits of some huge, creeper-clad boulders of coral rock,
which lay piled together in the midst of the dense scrub, just beyond
high-water mark.

Bringing their arms and some provisions from the boat, they placed them
on the dry sandy soil under one of the boulders, ate their breakfast,
and then slept the sleep of men mentally and physically exhausted.

When they awoke the rain had cleared off, and the sun was shining
brightly. By the captain's watch it was a little past one o'clock, and
after looking at the boat, which was high and dry on the beach; for the
tide was now dead low, Chard suggested that they should make a
brief examination of the islet, and get come young drinking and some
fully-grown coconuts for use in the boat.

"Very likely we'll find some turtle eggs too," he added; "this and next
month is the season. We are bound to get a turtle or two, anyway, if we
watch to-night on the beach."

Returning to the camp, they picked up their loaded Winchesters and
started off, walking along the beach on the inner side of the lagoon,
and going in a northerly direction. The islet, although less than a mile
and a half in circumference, was densely wooded and highly fertile, for
in addition to the countless coco-palms which were laden with nuts in
all stages of growth, and fringed the shore in an unbroken circle, there
were great numbers of pandanus and jackfruit-trees growing further back.
Here and there were to be seen traces of former inhabitants--depressions
of an acre or so in extent, surrounded by high banks of soil, now
thickly clothed with verdure, and which Chard, who had had a fair
experience of the South Seas, knew were once plantations of _puraka_,
the gigantic _taro_ plant of the low-lying islands of the South and
North Pacific.

"It must be a hundred years or more since any one worked at these
_puraka_ patches," he said to Hendry, as he sat upon the top of a bank
and looked down. "Look at the big trees growing all around us on the
banks. There can't be natives living anywhere on the atoll now, so I
don't think we need to keep a night watch as long as we stop here."

But had Harvey Carr or any one of the native crew sat there on the bank,
_they_ would have quickly discovered many evidences of the spot having
been visited very recently--the broken branch of a tree, a leaf basket
lying flattened and rotting, and half covered by the sandy soil; a
necklace of withered berries thrown aside by a native girl, and the
crinkled and yellowed husks of some young coconuts which had been drunk
not many weeks before by a fishing party.

At the extreme northern point of the islet there stood a mound of coral
slab, piled up by the action of the sea, and similar to the much
larger one fifteen miles away at the other end of the lagoon. With some
difficulty the two men succeeded in gaining the summit, and from there,
at a height of fifty feet, they had a view of the greater portion of the
atoll, and of some of the green chain of islands it enclosed. On no one
of them could they discern signs of human occupancy, only long, long
lines of cocos, with graceful slender boles leaning westward to the sea,
and whose waving crowns of plumes cast their shadows upon the white sand
beneath. From the beach itself to the barrier reef, a mile or two away,
the water was a clear, pale green, unblemished in its purity except by
an occasional patch of growing coral, which changed its colours from
grey to purple and from purple to jetty black as a passing cloud for
a brief space dimmed the lustre of the tropic sun. Beyond the line
of green the great curving sweep of reef, with the snow-white,
ever-breaking, murmuring surf churning and frothing upon it; and, just
beyond that, the deep, deep blue of the Pacific.

"There's no natives here, Louis," said Chard confidently, as his keen,
black eyes traversed the scene before them; "we can see a clear seven or
eight miles along the beaches, and there's not a canoe to be seen on any
one of them. We'll spell here for a day or two, or more, if the weather
has not settled."

Hendry nodded in his usual sullen manner. "All right. We want a day to
overhaul the boat thoroughly; the mainsail wants looking to as well."

"Well, let us get back, and then we'll have a look over the next islet
to this one before dark. We may come across some turtle tracks and get a
nest of eggs."

They descended the mound, and set out along the outer beach on their way
back to the camp.

Had they remained but a few minutes longer they would have seen two
canoes come into view about three miles to the southward, paddling
leisurely towards the northernmost islet.




CHAPTER XI

The two canoes were manned by some of the crew of the _Motutapu_
together with six natives of Pikirami; one was steered by Harvey, the
other by Huka the Savage Islander; and as they paddled along within
a few feet of each other the crews laughed and jested in the manner
inherent to all the Malayo-Polynesians when intent on pleasure.

That morning Harvey, tiring of the inaction of the past three days, had
eagerly assented to a proposal made by Huka that they should make a trip
round the lagoon, and spend a day or two away from the village, fishing
and shooting. Several young Pikirami natives at once launched two of
their best canoes, and placed them at Harvey's and Atkins's service, and
offered to go with the party and do all the paddling, cooking, etc.

"Ay," said Nena the head-man, a little wizen-faced but kindly-eyed old
fellow, whose body was so deeply tatooed in broad vertical bands that
scarcely a strip of brown skin could be seen--"ay, ye must take my
young men; for are ye not our guests, ye, and the brown sailor men as
well? and they shall tend on ye all. That is our custom to strangers who
have come to us as friends."

Preparations were at once made for a start, and Harvey went to tell
Tessa, whom he found in the house allotted to her, listening to Atkins,
who was planning some improvements in the interior so as to add to her
comfort.

"I wish I could go with you, Harvey," said Tessa with a bright smile;
"it would be like the old days in Ponapé, with you and my brothers. How
long will you be away?"

"Perhaps two days. Will you come, Atkins?"

"Not me! The less salt water I see and the less rain-water I feel for
another week the better I'll like it. Besides, I'm going to do a bit of
carpentering work for Miss Remington. We may have to hang out here for a
month before that Dutch schooner comes along, and I'm just going to set
to work and make Miss Remington comfy. And if you had any sense, Harvey,
you'd stay under shelter instead of trying to get another dose of shakes
by going out and fooling around in a canoe."

Harvey laughed. "There's no more fever for me, Atkins. I'm clear of it.
That little boat trip of ours has knocked it clean out of my bones, and
if you don't believe me, I'm willing to prove it by getting to the top
of that coconut-tree outside there in ten seconds' quicker time than you
can do it."

The boat voyage had certainly done him good, and although he had by
no means thoroughly recovered his strength, his cheeks had lost their
yellow, haggard look, and his eyes were bright with returning health.
Atkins, who knew that Tessa was to become his wife, looked first at him
and then at her with sly humour twinkling in his honest grey eyes. Then
he took his pipe out of his pocket and put it in his mouth.

"Well, I'll come back by and by. Two is company, and three is none.
The sooner _I_ go, the better you'll like it, and the sooner _you_ go,
Harvey, the sooner I can get to work;" and so saying he walked out.

Tessa's dark eyes danced with fun as she walked backwards from Harvey,
and leaning against the thatched side of the house, put her finger to
her lips. "What a _beautiful_ sensible man he is, isn't he, Harvey?"

"He's a man after my own heart, Tessa," and then Maoni, who sat smoking
a cigarette in a corner of the room, discreetly turned her back as
certain sibilant sounds were frequently repeated for a minute or two.

"Harvey, you sinner," she whispered, "I don't like you a bit. Really and
truly I don't.... Now,_ now_, no more.... Maoni can hear you, I'm sure.
The _idea_ of your going away for two days--two whole days--and marching
calmly up to me and telling me of it in such a rude, matter-of-fact
manner. You _are_ unkind.... _Don't_.... I don't like you, Harvey...
I'll tell father that you went away and left me for two whole days--to
go fishing and pig-shooting, and poor Mr. Atkins had to look after me,
and... oh, Harvey, Harvey, isn't it lovely! Father will be so glad, and
so will Carmela and Jack, and Librada and Ned. Harvey dear, I do hope
your sisters will like me. Perhaps they will think I am only a native
girl.... Oh, _do_ be careful, I can see Maoni's back shaking. She
_knows_ you're kissing me, I'm sure."

"Don't care if she does; don't care if she sees me kissing you, like
this, and this, _and_ this; don't care if Atkins sees us."

Her low, happy laugh sounded like the trill of a bird. "Harvey dear, do
you remember the day when we went to Róan Kiti in Ponapé--when you were
sailing the _Belle Brandon_ for father?"

Harvey didn't remember, but, like a sensible lover, said he did, and
emphasised his remembrance in a proper manner.

"Well, now, listen... Oh, you horrid fellow, why do you look at me as if
I were a baby! Now, I shan't tell you anything at all.... There, don't
pretend to be sorry, for you know... oh, Harvey dear, I _must_ tell
you."

"Tell me, dearest."

"That's a good boy, a good would-be-climbing-a-coconut-tree youth, who
wanted to show off before poor Atkins who told me just now that you were
'the whitest man in the South Seas.' He did really."

"Atkins is 'an excellent good man,' and you are the sweetest and most
beautiful girl in _all_ the wide, wide Pacific. Come, tell me what it is
that you _must_ tell me."

"I'll tell you if you don't kiss me any more. Maoni's eyes can see round
her shoulders, I believe. I _do wish_ she wasn't here.... Well, that day
when you and I were climbing up the mountain-path you let a branch
swing back--you careless thing--and it hit me in the face and hurt me
terribly, and you took me up in your arms and kissed me. Oh, Harvey,
don't you remember? Kissed me, just because I was crying like a baby.
Harvey dear, I was only fourteen then, but I loved you then--that was
the real, _very_ beginning of it all, I think. And then I went away to
school to San Francisco, and _you_ went away--and I suppose you never
thought one little bit about me again."

"Indeed I did, Tess" (here was a silent but well-employed interlude); "I
often thought of you, dear, but not as a lover thinks. For in those days
you were to me only a sweet child (if Maoni wasn't here I'd pick you up
and nurse you), a sweet, sweet little comrade whose dear, soft eyes used
to smile into mine whenever I stepped into your father's house, and----"

"Oh, Harvey, Harvey! I have never, never forgotten you. _There!_ and
_there!_ and _there!_ I don't care if Maoni, or any one, or all the
world sees me," and she flung her soft arms round his neck and kissed
him again and again in the sheer abandonment of her innocent happiness.
"But you really _love_ me now, Harvey, don't you? And oh, Harvey dear,
where shall we live? And your sisters... if they don't like me?"

Harvey stroked her soft hair, and pressed his lips to her cheeks.

"They won't _like_ you, Tess. They'll just love you--and they'll make me
jealous."

Again her happy laugh trilled out. "How lovely!... Harvey dear?"

"Yes, Tess."

"I want to tell you something--something that only mother knows,
something about me--and a man."

Harvey looked smilingly into her deep, tender eyes, half-suffused with
tears.

"Go ahead, dear."

"Go ahead, indeed! You rough, rude sailor! Any one would think I was a
man by the way you speak to me... But, Harvey dear, listen... there was
a man who wanted to marry me."

Harvey was all attention at once. "Sit down here, little woman, and tell
me who the------"

"Sh! Don't swear, or I won't tell you anything, not _anything at all_,
about it.... Harvey dear, why do you want to go away fishing? Stay here,
and help poor Mr. Atkins."

"Who was the man, Tess?"

"Are you really, really going away for two whole days?"

"I am, sweet."

"Harvey dear, I'll tell you all about it. You won't be angry?"

"All depends. Who was the man?"

His laughing eyes belied his assumed sternness of visage, for in her
eyes there shone a light so serenely pure that he knew he had naught to
dread.

"A very, _very_ nice man, sir. Now try and guess who it was?"

"Old Schuler, the fat German trader at Yap."

"Oh, you wretch, Harvey! He's been married three times, and has dozens
and dozens of all sorts of coloured children.... Now there! Guess again
or I'll twist this side of your moustache until I make you cry....
Harvey dear, who was the girl whose photograph was over your bunk in
father's schooner?"

"I forget. Most likely it was my sister Kate," was the prompt reply.

"I don't believe you, Mr. Harvey Carr. But I'll find out all about _you_
by and by. You'll have to just tell me _everything_. Now guess again."

"The captain of the _Lafayette_. He asked each of your sisters to marry
him, I know, and I suppose you followed in turn as soon as you began to
wear long dresses."

"That horrible man! We all hated him. No, indeed, it was somebody better
than the captain of a whaler."

"Don't be so superior, Tess. Your brother Ned hopes to be skipper of a
whaler some day."

"But Ned is very good-looking, and----"

"So was old Ayton before he lost his teeth, and one eye, and began 'ter
chaw terbacker' and drink Bourbon by the gallon.... Beauty is only skin
deep, my child."

"Oh, you, you--I don't know what to call you, but I do know that I have
a round turn of your moustache in my hand, and could make you go on your
knees if I liked. Now guess again; you're getting 'warmer,' because
it--_he_ I mean--is a captain. Quick, and don't struggle so. I mean to
keep you here just as long as I please."

"Well, then, old Freeman. He's a captain, or was one about a hundred
years ago, when he was much younger than he is now." (Freeman was a
nonogenerian settler on Ponapé and a neighbour of Tessa's father.)

"Don't be so silly! I've a great mind not to tell you at all, but as
you haven't whimpered when I pulled your moustache I _shall_ tell
you--it--he, I mean--was Captain Reade, of the United States ship
_Narrangansett_. Now!"

Then all her raillery vanished in a moment. "He was a great friend of
father's, you know, Harvey; and first he asked father, and father said
I was too young, and then when I was leaving school in San Francisco to
come home he wrote to me and asked me if he could come and see me. And
he did come, and asked me to marry him."

"And you really didn't care for him, Tessa?"

"Not a bit. How could I? Harvey, I never, never thought about anybody in
the world but you," and she looked into his face with swimming eyes as
he pressed his lips to hers. "There, I'll let you go now, dear. I can
hear Huka and the others coming for you. But Harvey dear, don't stay
away for two whole days."

*****

An hour after leaving the village the canoes turned aside into a small
narrow bay on one of the larger islands. The water was of great depth,
from sixty to seventy fathoms, though the bay itself was in no part
wider than a hundred yards. A solid wall of coral enclosed it on three
sides, rising sheer up from the deep blue, and its surface was now bared
and drying fast under the rays of the sun, for the rain had cleared off,
and the sky was a vault of unflecked blue once more.

The natives had told Harvey and Roka that this bay was a spot famed as
the haunt of a huge species of rock-cod called _pura_, some of which,
they said, "took two strong men to lift," and they were greatly pleased
when they found that both the white man and Roka knew the _pura_ well,
and had eagerly assented to Harvey's proposition that they should spend
an hour or two in the place, and try and get one or two of the gigantic
fish; as they had the necessary tackle--thick, six-plaited lines of coir
fibre, with heavy wooden hooks such as are used for shark-fishing by the
natives of the equatorial and north-west islands of the Pacific.

*****

Had Harvey and his companions been ten minutes later in turning aside
to enter the bay they would have been seen by Chard and Hendry ere they
descended the coral mound at the north end of the lagoon, and much
of this tale would not have been told. For had the destroyers of poor
Oliver and his crew discovered the canoes they probably would at
once have launched their boat again, and have put to sea, or at least
prepared themselves for an attack. But great events so often come of
small things.

For nearly an hour Harvey, Roka, and Huka fished for _pura_ from the
coral ledges, but without success. They had baited their hooks with
flying-fish, as was the practice of the Pikirami people.

"Master," said Roka presently to Harvey, "never have I had good luck
with flying-fish when fishing for _pura_ in mine own land of Manhiki.
'Tis a _feke_{*} that the pura loveth."

     * Octopus.

"Ay, Roka, _feke_ is a good bait for the _pura_ and all those great fish
which live deep down in their _fale amu_" (houses of coral). "Let us
seek for one on the outer reef. Then we shall return here. It is in my
heart to show these our good friends of Pikirami that there is one white
man who can catch a _pura_."

Roka showed his white teeth in an approving smile. "Thou art a clever
white man, and can do all those things that we brown men can do. Malua
hath told me that there is no one like thee in all the world for skill
in fishing and many things. Let us go seek _feke_."

The rest of their party--the men from the _Motutapu_ and the Pikirami
people--were busily employed in preparations for cooking, some making
ready an oven of red-hot stones, others putting up fish and chickens
in leaf wrappers, and Malua and two Pikirami youths of his own age were
husking numbers of young drinking-nuts.

Telling his native friends that he would return in an hour or two, or as
soon as he had caught some _feke_. Harvey set off, accompanied by Roka
and Huka, the latter carrying a heavy turtle-spear, about five feet in
length from the tip of its wide arrow-headed point to the end of the
pole of ironwood.

Turning to the eastward, they struck into the cool shade of the narrow
strip of forest which clothed the island from the inner lagoon beach to
the outer or weather side, and Harvey at once began to search among the
small pools on the reef for an octopus, Huka with Roka going on ahead
with his turtle-spear. In the course of a quarter of an hour they were
out of sight of each other.

For some time Harvey, armed with a light wooden fish-spear, carefully
examined the shallow pools as he walked along over the reef, and
after he had progressed about a mile he at last saw one of the hideous
creatures he sought lying on the white sandy bottom of a circular hole
in the reef, its green malevolent eyes looking upward at the intruder.
In an instant he thrust the spear through its horrible marbled head, and
drew it out upon the rocks, where he proceeded to kill it, a task which
took him longer than he anticipated; then carrying it back to the shore,
he threw the still quivering monster upon a prominent rock and set out
again in search of another, intending to follow his native comrades, who
were in hopes of striking a turtle.

As he tramped over the reef, crushing the living, many-coloured coral
under his booted feet, his eyes were arrested by some objects lying
on the bottom of a deep pool. He bent down and looked carefully--five
magnificent orange cowries were clinging closely together upon a large
white and sea-worn slab of dead coral.

An exclamation ot pleasure escaped from him as he saw the great size and
rich colouring of these rare and beautiful shells.

"What a lovely present for Tessa!" he thought; and taking off his shirt
he dived into the clear water and brought them up one by one. Then with
almost boyish delight he placed them beside him on the reef, and looked
at them admiringly.

"Oh you beauties!" he said, passing his hand over their glossy backs;
"how delighted Tessa will be! No one else has ever had the luck to
find five such shells together. I'm a _tagata manuia lava_,{*} as Malua
says."

     * A man with extraordinary good luck.

He picked the shells up carefully, put them into his wide-brimmed leaf
hat, which he then tied up in his shirt, and taking his spear again
made towards the shore, too pleased at his good fortune to trouble any
further about another _feke_ and only anxious to let Roka and Huka see
his prizes.

Half-way to the shore he paused and looked along the curving line
of beach to see if either of them were in sight; then from behind a
vine-covered boulder not fifty yards away a rifle cracked, and he fell
forward on his face without a cry.




CHAPTER XII

Soon after they had left Harvey the Manhikian and Huka parted, each
preferring to take his own way, Roka laughingly telling his comrade that
although he, Roka, had no spear, he would bring back a turtle.

"In my land of Manihiki we trouble not about spears. We dive after the
turtle and drag them ashore."

"Thou boaster," replied the Savage Islander good-naturedly, as he
stepped briskly down the hard, white sand towards the water, his sturdy,
reddish-brown body naked to the waist, and his brawny right arm twirling
the heavy turtle-spear about his head as if it were a bamboo wand. "I go
into the lagoon, whither goest thou?"

Roka pointed ahead. "Along the beach towards the islet with the high
trees. May we both be lucky in our fishing."

In a few minutes he was out of sight and hearing of his shipmate, for
the beach took a sudden curve round a low, densely-verdured point, on
the other side of which it ran in an almost straight line for a mile.
Suddenly he paused and shaded his eyes with his hand as he caught sight
of a dark object lying on the sand.

"'Tis a boat," he muttered, and in another moment he was speeding
towards it. When within a few hundred yards he stopped and then crouched
upon his hands and knees, his dark eyes gleaming with excitement.

"It is the captain's boat," he said to himself, as lying flat upon his
stomach he dragged himself over the sand into the shelter of the low
thicket scrub which fringed the bank at high-water mark. Once there,
he stood up, and watched carefully. Then stripping off his clothes and
throwing them aside, he sped swiftly along an old native path, which ran
parallel to the beach, till he was abreast of the boat. Then he crouched
down again and listened. No sound broke the silence except the call of
the sea-birds and the drone of the surf upon the reef.

He waited patiently, his keen eyes searching and his quick ear
listening; then creeping softly along on his hands and knees again, he
examined the sandy soil. In a few minutes his search was rewarded, for
he came across the footmarks of Chard and the captain, leading to the
vine-covered boulders under the shelter of which they had made their
camp. Following these up, he was soon at the place itself, and examining
the various articles lying upon the ground--provisions, clothing, the
roll of charts, sextant. Leaning against the rocky wall was a Snider
carbine. He seized it quickly, opened the breach, and saw that it was
loaded; then he made a hurried search for more cartridges, and found
nearly a dozen tied up in a handkerchief with about fifty Winchesters.
These latter he quickly buried in the sand, and then with his eyes
alight with the joy of savage expectancy of revenge, he again sought and
found the tracks of the two men, which led in the very direction from
which he had come.

To a man like Roka there was no difficulty in following the line which
Hendry and the supercargo had taken; their footsteps showed deep in the
soft, sandy soil, rendered the more impressionable by the heavy downfall
of rain a few hours before. And even had they left no traces underfoot
of their progress, the countless broken branches and vines which they
had pushed or torn aside on their way through the forest were a sure
guide to one of Nature's children, whose pursuit was quickened by
his desire for vengeance upon the murderers of his brother and his
shipmates.

Pushing his way through a dense strip of the tough, thorny scrub called
_ngiia_, he suddenly emerged into the open once more--on the weather
side of the island. First his eye ran along the sand to discover which
way the footsteps trended; they led southwards towards a low, rugged
boulder whose sides and summit were thickly clothed with a thick,
fleshy-leaved creeper. Beyond that lay the bare expanse of reef, along
which he saw Harvey Carr was walking towards the shore, unconscious of
danger. And right in his line of vision he saw Chard, who, kneeling
amid the foliage of the boulder, was covering Harvey with his rifle; in
another instant the supercargo had fired, Roka dropped on one knee and
raised his Snider carbine, just as Sam Chard turned to Hendry with a
smile upon his handsome, evil face, and waved his hand mockingly towards
the prone figure of Harvey.

"That's one more to the good, Louis----" he began, when Roka's carbine
rang out, and the supercargo spun round, staggering, and then fell upon
his hands and knees, with the blood gushing in torrents from his mouth.

Hendry, taking no heed of anything but his own safety, dashed into the
undergrowth and disappeared.

Running past Chard, rifle in hand, the Manhikian launched a curse at the
groaning man, who heard him not in his agony. Leaping from pool to pool
over the rough, jagged coral, which cut and tore his feet and legs, the
seaman sprang to Harvey's aid, and a hoarse sob of joy burst from him
when he saw that he was not dead.

"My thigh is broken, Roka. Carry me to the shore quickly, and then
haste, haste, good Roka, and warn the others. These men of Pikirami are
traitors. Haste thee, dear friend, if ye be a good man and true, and
help to save the woman who is dear to me."

Tearing off the sleeves of Harvey's shirt, Roka, as he answered, bound
them tightly over the wound to stay the flow of blood. "Nay, master,
'tis not the men of Pikirami. 'Tis the captain and the _tuhi tuhi_{*}
who have done this to thee. Nay, question me no more... so, gently, let
me lift thee."

He raised Harvey up in his mighty arms as if he were a child, his right
hand still grasping the Snider carbine, and carried him carefully to the
beach. There he laid him down for a while.

"Stay not here with me, Roka of Manhiki," said Harvey, trying hard
to speak calmly, though he was suffering the greatest agony from his
wound--"stay not here, but run, run quickly, so that there may be no
more murder done. Leave me here.... Tell the _sua alii_{**} to get the
people together and hunt and slay those two men. Give them no mercy."

     * I.e., one who writes--a supercargo or clerk.

     ** The mate, chief officer--one next in command to a
     captain.

"No mercy shall they have," said the Manhikian grimly; "so rest thee
content for a little while.... _Aue!_"

He sprang to his feet, carbine in hand, for from out the thickset jungle
there emerged a thing of horror to look upon.

Chard, leaning upon his Winchester, was staggering down to the beach,
with his lower jaw shot away. He came blindly on towards the man he had
sought to murder, gasping and groaning. Then he saw Roka, dropped his
Winchester, threw up his hands, and tried to speak.

Roka walked up to him.

"'Tis better for thee to die quickly," he said.

The supercargo swayed to and fro, and mutely held out both hands to
Harvey as if imploring help or forgiveness.

Roka drew back, and planted his left foot firmly in the sand, as he
placed the muzzle of his carbine against Chard's breast, and Chard,
grasping the barrel in his left hand to steady himself, bent his
dreadful face upon his chest.

*****

As the loud report reverberated through the leafy forest aisles there
came the sound of rushing feet, and Malua and the rest of the crew of
the Motutapu, together with the six Pikirami natives, burst through the
undergrowth, and gazed in wonder at the scene before them--Harvey lying
on the sand, Roka with his still-smoking rifle in his hand, standing
over the dead body of Chard.

Too weak from loss of blood to answer Malua's weeping inquiries, Harvey
yet managed to smile at him, and indicate Roka by a wave of his hand.
Then the Manhikian spoke.

"No time is there now to tell ye all. Run back, some of ye, to the _sua
alii_ Atkins, and tell him that I have killed the man Chard, but that
the captain hath escaped. Get thee each a rifle and follow him. He hath
fled towards his boat, which lieth on the little island with the high
trees. Follow, follow quickly, lest he drag the boat into the water
and sail away. Slay him. Let his blood run out. And tell the _sua alii_
Atkins and the white girl that Harfi hath been sorely hurt, but is well,
and will not die, for it is but a broken bone."

Five or six men darted off, while the rest, under Roka's directions,
quickly made a litter for Harvey, and placed him upon it.

"Art thou in pain, master?" asked the giant Manhikian tenderly, as the
bearers lifted the wounded man.

"Ay, but let me smoke so that the pain may go. And one of ye go to where
I fell on the reef and bring me the five pule,{*} lest when the tide
cometh in they be lost."

     * Cowries.

Roka himself ran off, picked up the hat and shells and brought them
back; then he gave the word to march.

Half-way through the forest they were met by Atkins and Tessa, who were
accompanied by the entire population of the village, except those of the
young men who had set off in pursuit of Hendry.

"I'm all right, Tessa," said Harvey; "it's only a broken bone. Atkins,
old man, don't look so worried. You can set it easily enough. Good man,
you've brought some rum, I see, and 'I willna say no,' as poor Morrison
used to say."

Atkins, whose hand was shaking with excitement, for he thought that
perhaps Harvey was mortally wounded and was only assuming cheerfulness,
gave him a stiff tot of rum.

"Here's luck to you, Atkins. Tessa dear, don't cry. Atkins will fix me
up in a brace of shakes as soon as we get to the village. And look here,
Tess. See what I found upon the reef."

*****

Long before sunset Harvey was sleeping quietly in the head-man's house,
with Tessa and Maoni watching beside him. Atkins had carefully set
the broken limb with broad splints of coconut-spathe; and, proud and
satisfied with his work, was pacing to and fro outside the house,
smoking his pipe.

Presently Latour and Malua appeared, and the Frenchman beckoned to the
second mate.

"What is it, steward?"

"Huka has just come back, sir. He wants to see you. The captain is
dead."

"Thank God for that. Where did they get him?"

"Huka will tell you, sir. Here he is."

The Savage Islander stepped forward, and raised his hand in salute, with
a smile of pride upon his lips.

"I been kill him," he said in his broken English; "I was come along back
to meet Mr. Harvey, when I hear the guns. And then I see the captain
come, running quick. He have Winchester in his hand, and when he see
me he stop. He fire two, three times at me. Then I run up to him, and I
drive my turtle spear through him, and he fall down and I put my foot on
his mouth, and he die."

Atkins slapped him on the shoulder. "Good man you, Huka! Stay here a
moment, and I'll bring you a big drink of rum. Then we must go and bury
both the swine."

*****

Three weeks later the _Sikiana_ sailed into the lagoon, and the "good
little Dutch skipper," of whom Harvey had spoken, had him brought on
board and placed in his bunk for the voyage to Ponapé.

"My tear Mees Tessa," he said, "Mr. Carr haf dold me dat your fader vill
gif me five hundred dollar ven ve get to Ponapé. If der _Sikiana_ vas
mein own ship I vould dake you und Mr. Carr and der second mate und all
your natives to Ponapé for nodings; for your fader vas a good man to me,
und Harvey Carr vas a good man to me ven I sailed mit him in the _Belle
Brandon_. But you must invide old Westphalen to the wedding."

"Indeed we shall, captain."

"And me too, miss?" asked Atkins, with a sly twinkle in his eye.

"And you too, of course, dear, dear Atkins, so good, brave, and true.
There, look, Harvey, I am going to kiss Mr. Atkins."

"God bless you both, miss," said the mate huskily.



THE END





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