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Somebody tipped off Sam, but he
scoffed at the idea. Secretly, how
ever, he was on the alert.
One day, Nabob, peering out from
among the mangroves, saw Sam's
boat approaching the island. He
slunk back into the bushes and wait
ed. In due course Sam beached his
y boat and went into the hut to sleep.
It was a tropical night, intensely
dark. Nabob waited until he knew
his victim would be asleep. Then
he crept forward like a snake.
Sam was sleeping so hard that his
' breathing could not be heard. Na
bob whipped out his knife and
plunged it a dozen times into the in
ert heap of clothing in the shack.
Sam never stirred.
Satisfied that his victim was dead,
Nabob took Sam's boat and equip
ment and started to fly. He meant
to thread the passages among the
"smaller keys until he reached a con
venient hiding -place. When -the
storm" had blown over he would re
turn. He might be 'suspected, but
ne could never be charged with 'the
. crime, in the absence of witnesses.
He had just dipped his oars into
the water when his attention was at
tracted by a gleaming spot In a heap
of oyster shells at the Water's edge.
They were dead shells, bored'by the
starfish, .the great enemy of qysters.
The water here was 12 'f let deep, the
" land sloping .up. above a little nat
" Overcome by excitement at his
find, which shone as brightly as the
moon above, Sam Jack 'completely
forgotten, Nabob brought his boat in
to land and stepped cautiously
' Ashore. Then he drew in a deep
nb breath, went under, keeping his eyes
& fixed on the pearl, and stretched out
his sand to pluck the prize,
Distantly his fingers were impris
oned in a vise. Nabob knew what
Had happened. It jvas the- giant mus
sel, that Indcuous shelflsh so dread
ed by the Bahama negro. He was
trapped under water.
," Hp fought with the desperate fury
of a man who has just one minute to
live before his lungs give out That
minute's anguish was the worst that
Nabob had ever lived through.
The mussel, firmly anchored in its
oozy bed, bit into his fingers and
seemed Immovable. But Nabob had
the strength of all his race. His-mus-cles
stood out like cords of steel and
his great chest heaved as he pulled.
And .gradually the mussel began
to come from its bed. "Now Nabob
could see the gleaming lure still fas
tened between his fingers. He pulled
superhumanly. And the mussel was
giving way. It was a question whidh
would give first, the mussel or Na
A gasp, a terrible heave, and Na
bob's head appeared above the water.
He let the poisoned air out of his
lungs and drew in a fresh breath.
Then, clinging to a mangrove on the
bank with his free hand, he contin
ued to fight. It was doubtful even
now which would give first the
mussel, Nabob's strength or the
The mussel and- the mangrove
gave together. It came up out of its
oozy pit just as the tree broke, pre
cipitating Nabob, upon his back in
the "water. But Nabob soon strug
gled to his feet and made for th
land again. The weight of the mus
sel, heavy though it was, did not im
pede him, but his hand wa's raw and
bleeding and the great shells -were
"tightly clinched upon it.
Still, .freedom was great, and Na
bob, lying upon his back on the mud,
among the mangroves, offered up the
heartiest thanks that he knew how.
This done, he looked at the mus
sel. And now, to his utter amaze
ment, it took the form of a trap of
steel. It was a trap of s,tee And
the lure was nothing more or less
than an American quarter, cunning
ly fixed In the edges of the steel vise,
"Oh, Lord!" groaned Nabob. -"Who's
set this here thing for me?"
A ringing laugh from among the
bushes answered him, and out of.
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