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MEADE COUNTY NEWS, MEADE, KANSAS.
1 "CONTRABAND" c4. Romance tf the North Atlantic . randall'parrish Author sT "Mr Lady gf the North," "Maid the Foreat," ate Ooprrlglit A. 0. Mo Clnrg Co. CHAPTER XVIICbntlnued. 12 "They're all right," broke In Liver pool, "except for some sore heads. We downed the owner and the second mate easy, but Lenyord and the engineer made some trouble, and had to be ioaked. We got 'em all quiet enough now, where they can't make any trouble." "Where are they confined?" He winked at me in a half-drunken leer. "Which Is none o yer business hey, Mr. McCann?" The impudent manner of the fel low served to fully awnken me to a realization of the helpless position I occupied. I held back the first hot retort on my lips, and forced a smile. "I get the idea," I said, pretending a good nature I was far from feeling. "I am to merely work under orders. Well, Fd rather do that than let you wreck the ship, and perhaps drown the whole company. What Is your object in this affair? Tou surely don't hope to dispose of this vessel and cargo?" . "No, I don't," and McCann took a tep forward, his hand resting on the desk. "To be frank with you, IIollls, this affair has gone further than I Intended; it got the start of me while you held me prisoner aft here in the cabin. There's nothing for me to do now but work out of the fix as best I can." "Mutiny, then, was not part of your original plan?" "Not open mutiny no. I'm no fool, end I know what that means. I start ed in to make the crew dissatisfied, o they would force you to put back to an American port. I offered them money, but with no intention of resort ing to force. Then' you locked me tip, and this other thing happened. We've gone too fur now to back out We don't mean to get caught. So it's up to you to decide whether the Indian Chief remains afloat, and no Jives lost; or whether the old hooker is never heard of again." "You'd scuttle the ship?" "That's for you to decide; it's my advice to you not to take the chance." I could scarcely believe he meant this; the proposition was so abso lutely heartless, so cold-blooded. I could hardly associate it even with Fergus McCnnn. Surely he was not In reality the utter . villain he now coolly professed himself. My eyes left his face, and sought Liverpool, who was leering at me In drunken gravity. "Is this true, Ited? Have you fel lows held council?" "Some ov us have," he said sullenly. "Jim Dugan, SImms and me, we talked It all over with Mr. McCann here, an' agreed what wus best That's why the two ov us come ter see you." "Unless I consent to sign a report showing your desertion of the ship Justified, you propose to sink the In dian Chief?" "You an' Ba scorn both ov yer." "And if we do sign what then?" "You'll sail us within fifty miles ov the nearest open port, and we'll take to the boats, and leave you to be picked up." "You'd report out condition ashore?" "Nothln' was said about that Yer drift would be southard, an would eoon bring yer in the track o ships; besides there's enough left ter handle ' the sails ter give the hooker steerage way. We figured we'd be safe unless there was a big storm." It wos certainly a coid-blooded prop osition, but the fellow's tone was so matter-of-fuct I no longer doubted this to be their final decision. I played my last card." "See here, Ited," and I drew a paper Jrom tho drawer of the desk. "Do you fellows realize the value of this ship, and the cargo below hatches?" ( "We don't give a darn." "Well, you better, for it's a tidy little sura. Now, see here HI pledge the crew fifty thousand dollars, to be divided as you choose, if you will dock the Indian Chief at Hamburg." : "Who'll pay it?" ' "The owner, within ten days of land ing." "An' if we get snapped up by an English or French cruiser on the way over, all we'd ever get would be a Jail. That sorter plan don't make no hit with me nor my mates. We've talked It all over." McCann struck the desk with his fist, Impatient at the discussion. . "Your price Is too low, Hoilis. This is no piker's game. Ited knows it is worth more than fifty thousand to me to get back to New York. So now, will you help us quietly, or shall we have to make you?" "What Is.it you desire of me?" "That you work out an observation once a day, and set the ship's course as we direct ; then tell us when a cer tain point has been reached." What polntr "Fifty miles northeast of St Johns." "And then what happens?" "We will take to the boats, and leave you and your officers to do what you please with the ship." "Are all the crew with you In tbie mutinous deal?" The eyes of the two men met, and Liverpool blurted out: "They'll all do what we say ; there's none ov 'em yer kin count on fer ter fight on your side; but maybe there's a couple we won't hav' no use for when we take to the boats." "Who are they?" "Thar's no need o my tellln' yer that" "Well, even with those two this will only give us six able-bodied men ; that is not enough with which to bring the Indian Chief Into port" "It will be all you'll have, anyhow," snkl McCann grimly. "And you are mighty lucky at that. The drift will be southward, and will take you direct ly into the steamer lane. All you need do Is keep steerage way, and wnlt until you are picked up. You don't Imagine we want you snlllng into the harbor at St. Johns the same time we get there, do you? Come on now; stop this talk, and give us an answer." For a long moment I stood motion less, staring out through the open port at tho sunlit waters. It seemed to me my best course was to at least pretend to yield to their wishes. To acquiesce would Insure me a measure of free dom on board, an opportunity to learn the exact conditions, and might enable me to save the ship from destruction. As to McCann, he had some object In all this fur more lmportunt than ap peared on the surface. He was never assuming this risk, or Investing all this money in an illegal catwe, without a more serious purpose than nn Idle desire to return to New York. He was taking a tremendous chance, driv en by some impulse I could not com prehend. What was the secret hate, revenge, greed, love? I would find out sometime; but now I could only grope in the dark, guessing at his mo tives. Yet I knew this his promises were lies. He would make use of me ; he would Induce me to pilot the ship to the spot he desired to attain on the broad bosom of the ocean, and then what? The man would never be fool enough to permit the Indian Chief to sail Into any harbor to accuse him of such a crime. Back of all his words, "Your Price la Too Low, Hollla." his explanations, his apparent fair ness, lurked treachery. I felt It, and knew it, and the very suspicion led me to rench swift decision. My eyes met his'wlth a smile. "I cannot conceive that I have much choice," I sold quietly." "It is to either do this In freedom, or under compul sion. Nuturally I prefer the former." "lou mean you accept our offer?" "Yes; I will figure out the proper course, and report to you when the ves sel is at the place you designate. That Is all that is asked of me. In return I have your pledge that the ship will be left in good condition, with all who are loyal safe on board?" "Yes." "There Is one more condition, Mc Cann." "What?" "That Miss Carrlngton be left abso lutely unmolested by either you or your men, until the time comes for you to take to the boats." "Hah I So that Is really where the shoe pinches I" "We will not quarrel about It either say yes or no." "What do you mean by unmolested? Am I prohibited from speaking to the lady?" "That is to be left to her choice, not yours. She is to retain the key to her stateroom; to eat alone if she prefers, and to see such associates aboard as she desires." Liverpool laughed drunkenly. -"That ain't the argyment" he said easily. "So far as I see, that don't change things none. She's locked her self in anyhow, an won't answer no body." McCann growled something which I took to bo assent and I was myself so anxious to ascertain our exact posi tion as to have no desire for further argument I could be of no possible value locked a prisoner in that state room ; no protection to her. Indeed, if I refused to navigate the vessel, leav ing the ship to drift blindly through these unknown waters, exposed con stantly to peril, I would be guilty of a failure to do my duty almost as great as the crime of these others. On deck', knowing where we were and the direction in which we were going, the opportunity might arise for the accom plishment of much. I grasped the nec essary Instruments from the swinging shelf, and. with these In my hands, turned toward the door. "Come on, then," I said, Ignoring the fact that I was any longer a prisoner. "Bring the chart, one of you, and I'll point out .where we are to you on deck." . "Just hold on a minute," and Liver pool, blocking the doorway, pushed me back with his huge hand. "We're the bosses, not you. Git it out o' your head right now. mister, that yer the captain of this ship Indian Chief. Blast yer! ye ain't nuthin'; nn' if yer attempt to piuy us any dirty tricks. I'll smash yer the same as I would a fly. Ain't that right Mr. McCunn?" "Oh, IIollls understands. Red. He knows we've gone too fur In this game to take any chances. Let him pass." "Well," growled the clant. stennlne aside, "I Just wanted him ter know. I don't kill nobody In cold blood ; but I'm Coin tor take keer of myself an' my mates. Yer git me, skipper?" . "les, I get you." I answered a bit wearily. "So let it go at that my man ; I know the time to fight and the time to keep quiet Now let's go on deck!" CHAPTER XVIII. A Compromise and an Interruption. Lxcept for the absence of the regu lar ofilcers from their stations, I should not hnve known any especial change had taken place on board the ship. Outwardly everything appeared about as usual as I emerged behind Liver pool, with McCann trailing behind. The latter paused to Insert the key into io lock of the door, and I Indulged In one swift glance about the apartment "Bnscom occupies his own state room?" Liverpool nodded ungraciously! enough. "And Miss Carrlngton retains hers?" "We are not here to be Interviewed, Hoilis," broke in MeCson sharply. "Go along on deck, and keep year tongue to yourself." Realizing that silence wat my best weapon, I made no response, but climbed the stairs. The decks were clean had evidently been scrubbed that morning, and nowhere could I perceive any signs that the ship was in the hands of mutineers. Liverpool gripped my shoulder. "Up the ladder with you," he or dered. "There's too little time left for gaping about here." There were two men at the wheel, although one could have attended to the service, as the ship was at half- speed, and the sea far from heavy. I recognized both faces, but couldn't re call their names; the shorter fellow, deeply pitted, exhibited a fresh scar where I had struck him with my boot- heel the night before. He grinned good naturedly, and pointed to the bruised flesh, as I caught his eye. White was evidently the temporary officer In charge, and the brutality of his face was clearly revealed in the bright light as he leaned against the rail. How ever, I had scarcely time to more than glance about as the sun was already at the zenith. The others stood around silent, watching as I figured out our position on the back of an old enve lope. I took my time at it, not only from my own anxiety to be accurate, but also because of other thoughts in my mind, yet the calculation was com pleted at last and I lifted my eyes to McCnnn's gaze. "Well?" he said., I gave him the figures.- "You are sure this is correct?" "As sure as I can be; the chronom eter hasn't been corrected since the ship left Baltimore; except for pos sible variations on that account, the figures are right Spread out the chart, and I'll show you where we are within ten miles. When did you furl the sails?" "After we started up the engines again; while we had all hands on deck." "Well," I announced, after a mo ment of measuring, "that would tally pretty close with the figuring. Our present position is Just about here, where I put the red cross." McCann took the compasses from my hand, and began to measure distances. "Two hundred and ten miles to the northern extremity of Newfoundland Is that it?" "A trifle more, I should say." "This Is St. Johns here ; what south ing does that give?" "Over two hundred." He studied the map a few moments longer, the three men talking earnest ly while I left them, and walked over to the starboard rail. It was of no particular interest to me where they decided to go the one port meant the same to me as another. McCann got up, rolling the chart In his hand. "There Is no use, then," he called, "of our going farther north?" I turned and faced him. "Not If your port Is St Johns; the course would . be sou'-sou'west Is there anything more wanted of me at present?" McCann turned and spoke to the others, both answering him In low tones. "No," he said stiffly. "We will send for you if you are. needed again on deck." "I am expected to keep below?" "Below, and to your stateroom. If you attempt , to converse with any of the crew, you will be locked In." I passed them without a word, and clambered down the ladder to the main deck, aware of the grinning faces of the men at the wheel. Humiliating as the situation was, this was no time for resistance, or the exhibiting of a spirit of revolt White crossed over to the rail and watched until I vanished with in the companion. I realized his pres ence without so much as glancing up. There came to me, as I paused at the foot of the stairs, a sudden eagerness to speak to Vera, to eslai to her the situation, and bring to her a word of comfort. I crossed over hastily and rapped at her stateroom 'door. I felt sure there was a movement within. .but no response. With lips close to the wood, I spoke." "Miss Vera." "Who is It?" "Hoilis; may I have a word?" The key turned, and she stood facirfg me, her eyes filled with startled wel come. "Why I thought; they told me oh! I am so glad I" "They told you what?" "Why, nothing direct But there was fighting last night I I heard the struggle on deck, and then here in the The Key Turned and She Stood Pac ing Me. eebln; and when I started to leave my rwxa I encountered McCann and some of the crew. They were dragging Leayord down stair vbA bis face was all blood." "You were not Injured?" "No ; the big man with the red hair threatened me, but McCann interfered, and thrust me back Into the stateroom. He told me to lock the door, and not to make any noise. I I thought they had killed you." "Well, they tried hard enough, but, as you see, I am very much alive still. They trapped me in the forecastle. Do you know what has become of the others?" She shook her head. ' "What I've told is all I know. Those villains have control of the ship?" I related the story to her swiftly, concealing nothing. At the last she asked : "That Is all? You know no more?" "No." "Then the others must be alive, and on board. Surely you would have heard if any had been killed?" "I believe so ; they would not kill If possible to avoid it, as such a crime would render their own case more des perate." "What what are you going to do?" "Frankly, Miss Vera, I do not know," I confessed. "I have had no time to think, and my head still throbs so from blows that I hardly realize the situa tion. I cannot hope to fight these men alone, and there can be no Immediate danger they are sailing the ship toward St Johns."' "You believe they will take to the boats, and leave us aboard?" "That would be their only safe course. They would never dare sail the Indian Chief Into that, or any other harbor. They must land as ship wrecked seamen, tell their story, and then quickly disappear." "I I know that but but will they dare to leave us afloat, to be picked uj by some vessel?" I hesitated, but her eyes compelled an answer. "I do not know," I said soberly. "It hardly seems possible they can contem plate such an act of villainy as the scuttling of the ship, and leaving us on board to drown like rats. That would be too horrid a crime for this age. White and Liverpool might be brutal enough, but surely not Fergus Mc Cann." "Why not Fergus McCann?" "His educntlon, his former life, the civilization in which he has been reared; he has lived among gentle men." "Gentlemen!" she echoed the word In scorn. "His associates have been principally gamblers and rounders. He la notorious in New York, and bis money alone gives him entrance to de cent circles. He doesn't know what the word gentleman means. If there is treachery behind this, it will be the plan Of Fergus McCnnn." "You know him better than L" "I know of him longer ; I have heard more tales, yet surely you saw what he was in the boat?" "You believe, then, the Intention Is to scuttle the vessel?" "Yes, I do." "And leave us helpless on board?" "Yea, Mr. Hollls." I drew a deep breath, at this direct verification of my - own secret suspi cion. "So do I," I returned In a whisper, "although I bad no thought of telling you." "You have some plon, then? You have considered what to do?" "No ; hardly that. There win be two days, at least before we shall be close enough to the ccast for them to take to the boats. Much may happen with in that time; we may be spoken by some other vessel, even overhauled by a warship, and manned by a prize crew." , , "Yjsu hope for thlsr iiipii ill fa IP st Johns ,1s a naval base; the closer we approach the Krbor the more apt we are to encounter a Brit ish cruiser." Her fingers grasped my sleeve. "But Mr. Hollls, If all these hopes fall, and there should be no rescue, is there not something we can do? Must we remain here helpless, Just waiting for death to come?" I took the little hands In mine ten derly, and, with an effort controlled my voice. "Perhaps so, but we cannot be too cautious. Our only chnnce is to retain our freedom, and arouse no suspicion thut we are plotting together. Can you lenrn where the others are confined, and get the word to me?" "Yes," she said. "I I think I can." "What is it you think you enn do, Miss Carrlngton?" said a voice quietly. McCann stood- in tho open passage- way lending to the steward's puntry, less than fifteen feet distant, a satiri cal smile on his lips, as he observed our familiar position. How long he had been there, and what portion of our conversation he had overheard, I had no means of knowing, and for the instant I stood speechless, my bruin a blank. Not so with Vera. With a laugh, ringing out as naturally as though in full appreciation of some sudden gleam of humor, she withdrew her hands from mine, turned and faced him, executing a mocking curtsey. "Hardly fair, Mr. McCann," she said, "io steal upon us like that." "Perhaps not," he answered grimly, "but Just now I am privileged to do as I please on board this ship. Answer my question what Is. It you think you can do?" "Perhaps an answer will be embar king." "slop the play-acting," he burst forth, advancing about the stair rail "What we; you talking about? I want a direct answ?" The girl's lua laebes shaded .her eyes, but there w not the slightest falter to her voice, "Captnln Hollls," stol eald softly, al most regretfully, "had ai?d me If if I thought I could learn to- like him, .and I sold I I thought I couRJ. That that was all." McCann stared at the Jnbocent, downcast face as though he half be lieved the words her Hps uttered were deliberate lies; then be laughed mirth lessly. " "I see," he said with sarcasm. "No misfortune along other lines is suffi cient to Interrupt Mr. Hollls' lnve-mak-lng. My congratulations, captain, on even this measure of success." The hot blood flushed my face, not so much at the words as the tone with which they were uttered. They con veyed to me a deliberate insult, tin gling with a memory of the purpose he charged me with during our last Interview. He hud not quite under stood me before, but now he felt con vinced that under all the veneer I was his kind; and he Instantly felt that he knew Just how to deal with my case, "Your congratulations are' appreci ated for what they are worth," I an swered, unable to wholly restrain my self. "But we will let the discussion end here." "Oh, will we? Well, perhaps you will recall that circumstances have changed since our last talk. You are no longer captain of this ship I am; and I will say what I please on board. The first thing I propose doing is to tell Miss Carrlngton who and what you are.' . Her eyes flashed over my face, then sought his. "Do I understand," she asked clearly, "that I have been before a topic of conversation between you? What was the occasion?" McCann laughed, not in the least embarrassed, nnd evidently convinced that his position was sufficiently strong to give him a clear advantage. "Hollls' natural modesty prevents his answering, but as a disinterested party, I will take upon myself to ex plain. The truth is I comprehended "You Dog of a Liar!" from the first the real object of thla fellow In seeking your friendship. I even compelled him to acknowledge that your father's money was the main attraction." I stepped forward, unable longer to restrain the action. "Ton dog of a ItarP I said fiercely, "I know you are armed, but " "Walt, Captain Hollls," and her" fin gers caught my arm. "This matter In volves me, and I wish to hear the faeta Go on, please." McCann grinned Into my face, but kept one hand behind him, gripping his revolver. (TO BS CONTINUED) Nerves AH Unstrung? Nervousness nnd nerve pnins often come from weak kidneys. 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